Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Chris Cooper on Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
Brian Micklethwait on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Michael Jennings on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Brian Micklethwait on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Michael Jennings on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Brian Micklethwait on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
Patrick Crozier on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
kenforthewin on The most newsworthy thing so far done by a drone
6000 on UPS drones and drone vans
6000 on Guess what this is
Most recent entries
- And in Other creatures news …
- Cat proximity awareness
- Looking up in the City
- Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
- Leake Street photo session
- Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
- Azure Window broken
- Beltane & Pop van parked on the South Bank yesterday afternoon
- New River Walk
- Die Meistersinger was very good
- Spring in Islington
- ROH Covent Garden here I come
- Today’s plan
- Photoing the faces of strangers (or in my case: not)
- England crush Scotland in the 6N – plus the hugeness of home advantage
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Category archive: Getting old
This evening I attended a talk at Christian Michel’s, about (and against) major increases in the human lifespan.
The speaker quoted luminaries saying that infinite life would lead to infinite meaningless of life. People would just get bored. It is death that gives life its meaning. Immortality would drain the meaning out of life.
But from the floor came a different surmise, to the effect that the imminence of death, to some anyway, causes a slowing down, a draining away of zest. Greatly prolonged life - accompanied by the enhanced and prolonged energy and zestfulness that would make prolonged life enjoyable, rather than merely bearable, or worse, unbearable - would surely cause many now considered old to get stuck seriously into new projects, confident that they would have a serious amount of time and energy left to devote to them. Something like immortality would cause more lust for life, rather than less. People who expect to die soon are now inclined just to sit back and wait for it.
When I first encountered a primitive version of the very word processing that I am indulging in right now, nearly fifty years ago now, I hurled myself into learning to type, confident that the investment of time and effort would more than pay for itself. Had I been nearly seventy when I first encountered word processing for the first time, would I have bothered with it? Probably, not. If, on the other hand, I could now confidently expect another seventy or so years of active life, would I now be more inclined to adapt to new techniques and processes? Yes. I am pretty much certain that I would be more adventurous, more willing to invest time and energy, if the pay-off was going to be five or more decades of further potential impact rather than just the one decade or so that I now anticipate.
The speaker from the floor who expressed this most eloquently was Chris Cooper, who is giving my next Last Friday of the Month talk, on March 31st, on the subject of the rise of the robots. Chris thinks they will become our robot overlords.
What I can say with confidence is that one of the reasons I don’t now get stuck into new ways of doing things, new ways that might greatly improve things for me, is that whereas the investment of effort and energy would be unchanged from what was required fifty years ago, the benefits I can expect to gain, now that death looms, will be greatly diminished.
So, if death did not now loom ...
As many times threatened here, this blog is going, more and more, to be about the process of (me) getting old. As you (I) get older, your (my) grasp of the everyday mechanisms of early twenty first century life becomes ever more stuck in the late twentieth century.
One of the best known symptoms of advancing years is short-term memory loss. In plain language, you do something or see something, and then you immediately forget all about it. You put a remote control down, and seconds later, a portal into the seventh dimension opens up, swallows the remote, and closes again, and you spend the next ten minutes looking for the damn thing. If I write with feeling, it is because exactly this just happened to me, when first-drafting this. But at least when it came to this remote, I managed to persuade the portal into the seventh dimension to open and disgorge its prey, after only a few minutes of searching and brain-wracking.
Altogether more tiresome was when the same thing happened to this, about a fortnight ago:
As you can guess from the fact of the above photo, I eventually found this Thing again, but only after about a week of futile searching, through all the stuff in my small, one-bedroom home.
In the end, I had to give up, because I had instead to be preparing for the meeting I held at my home last Friday. And then, in the midst of those preparations and much to my amazement, the above Thing revealed itself to me again. It was in a place I should have looked in at once but failed to, but at least I found it.
What the Thing is is the electrical lead for my ancient laptop. Time has not yet rendered this laptop useless, by which I mean not useless to me for my primitive late twentieth century purposes, but losing this lead might have this laptop useless even to me, if Maplin‘s had been unable to supply a replacement. At the very least, I had started to expect a hefty bill, because people selling leads for such purposes know that they are dealing with desperate buyers, for whom a vital piece of kit will either resume working, or be forever useless. Twenty quid? Arrrrgh! Hmmmm. Okay, so be it. (Bastards.)
I have a couple of bags entirely full of leads like the one above, In Case They Come In Handy, which of course they never will. This is yet another category of stuff that you have to get used to chucking out, but being old, you find it hard to do. Because, Sod’s Law decrees that as soon as you chuck one of these wires out, you will realise you do need it.
But, like I say, I found this particular bit of wire. It wasn’t the best thing that happened to me last Friday. (That was the meeting.) But it was pretty good.
What is it about taking out the rubbish that makes the task so very unwelcome? I live alone, so do not get nagged to do this, but reality itself nags me. Take the rubbish out. Why can’t I do this simple thing?
Partly, there is the procrastinator’s constant enemy, which is that fact that a little more time will make very little difference. Spill rubbish on the floor and it must be cleaned up at once, so cleaned up at once it is. But most rubbish has its own intermediate, organised, official place. Why bother with it tonight? Tomorrow morning will do. Tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon will do, and so it goes on.
The current rubbish crisis is different, because I have been doing some clearing out, and about four loads of rubbish have assembled themselves. So procrastination is not such a good option. Trouble is, each load of rubbish involves a trip down and then up the stairs again, and I have it in my head that it all has to be done at the same time, because if not this situation will drag on for ever, and that means going down and up the stairs four separate times. Things aren’t made any easier by having to check beforehand if there is still any room in the rubbish bins for the recycled rubbish. Am I supposed to do a separate trip just to find out? Often, yes. I meant to check earlier this afternoon, when I was out doing something real, but forgot.
The worst thing of all is that some of the rubbish isn’t really rubbish. It’s perfectly good stuff that I am just never going to use and which is taking up space, and which I don’t have the time or the social media savvy to find a home for. Ah, finding a home. For rubbish.
Perhaps blogging this through here will in some weird way change the way I’m thinking about this, and I’ll get it all done. Mostly what blogging about this rubbish make me think is: this is rubbish, get it done. There you go.
One of the many dispiriting aspects of getting old is that your favourite sorts of technology revert to 1970s standards of reliability, even when brand new. This is because the kind of kit you want to buy is often no longer now being made, so if you can find it, it was made a really long time ago, and that means it is liable to not work properly.
Last week, I wanted to buy a small television set. Everyone else who wants a small television buys a tablet or some such contrivance. But I am me, and I wanted a small television set.
And this was the picture it showed me when I got it home and switched it on:
Yes, a television set that doesn’t work. When did you last experience that? It’s like globalisation never happened, and I am back to buying a television from GEC or Ferguson or some such fiascotic enterprise.
This was the only kind of small television they had. There were several rows of huge televisions, and a single row of even huger ones. But no small ones.
I tried to include in this posting a link to the actual television and where I bought it. But that website wasn’t working.
Just heard an announcer on London Live TV pronounce Persephone as “Percy Phone”. It should be Per Seffany, in case you also are not sure. Y(oung) P(eople) T(hese) D(ays). They just don’t have the Classics.
Today will be the forth consecutive day of clear skies over southern England. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the first two of these four days, I journeyed to East London, and today I plan to do the same. (Yesterday, I just couldn’t make myself do this. Instead I got a haircut.)
Living and working on my own, to my own schedule, creates problems as well as solving or abolishing them. Being old, I basically have to get up as soon as I wake up, in order to squirt urine where it needs to go rather than where it doesn’t. And, having woken up, getting to sleep again can then be difficult and time consuming. Either I do this, eventually, which takes a big bite out of the beginning of my day. Or, I stay awake, which means that by the early evening I will be asleep in my chair. I am staying awake today, to make maximum use of all that sunlight which even now I can see outside. But, if I leave my self-imposed blogging duties for today to the evening, I will find this very difficult. This evening I will be both sleep-deprived and exhausted from my wanderings. Also, I want to be at an event this evening. So, I am blogging now, before journeying to East London.
It is for times like these that I collect photos that I just like into special directories, of photos that I just like. Since today is Friday, my day for cats and other creatures, here is an other creature:
A rather blurry photo, so no clicking for anything bigger there. That’s it. But click on this, of the sign under the elephant, if you want to read more about it:
Having to get up every few hours when trying to sleep is a penalty of old age, but a better thing about being old right now is that the indiscriminate inquisitiveness of oldies like me is now more easily answered, without me having to pester any actual humans. Getting old used to mean remaining permanently confused by more and more random stuff, but less so now I can just ask the www. Time was when a photo like the one of this elephant in my archives would have remained for ever mysterious. Now, I can learn all I want about to about it.
Here is a better elephant sculpture photo, which I found here
But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others? I could find this out, probably. But can I be bothered? Do I care? No.
But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others? I could find this out, probably. But can I be bothered? Do I care? No.
Spent my evening getting my colour printer back in business. Took me five minutes to find the on/off switch.
It always surprises me when people don’t take pictures of events that they themselves organise. Me included by the way. I have a friend who kindly takes photos at my events whenever he attends them, because I mostly forget to, and I’m guessing others do too. This being the kind of obvious but small error that people make when they are stressed.
Which is maybe why this IEA guy, who saw me taking photos at this IEA centenary event in honour of Arthur Seldon, last night, asked me if I could send him a few of my photos.
Here are the seven photos I will be sending him.
The first one sets the scene, but also highlights a problem, which is that these days, at speaker meetings, there is usually a bright screen, while the speaker is - or (as in this case) the speakers are - in something more like darkness:
On the left there, Martin Anderson. On the right, Patrick Minford. Take my word for it.
But I did get a few half decent shots of speakers speaking, or listening to other speakers speaking:
Top left: Peter Seldon, Arthur’s on. Top right: Richard Wellings. Bottom left: Linda Whetstone, speaking from the floor. Bottom right: Patrick Minford, again.
Finally, my two favourite photos of the night, both of Martin Anderson. And of his magnificent giant shirt:
I did attempt some crowd shots, but they didn’t come out at all well. Shame, because there was quite a crowd.
I also tried photoing the video camera and its operator. That also failed to come out right, but at least there was a video camera present, so presumably those who did not attend will be able eventually to listen in on what was actually quite an upbeat event.
You know you are getting old when instead of just attending funerals of people whom you knew, you attend celebrations of people who were born one hundred years ago, whom you also knew.
More about Seldon and his colossal impact here. There is also a photo of him there. Shame there wasn’t a photo of him on that big screen.
Plan as energy
A vanished CD and a more tidy home
A blown up airplane and a dodgy internet connection
Rereading a Rebus
An enlarged Dinky Toy in Belgravia
The Wembley Arch and The Wheel
Another fine day at the Oval (4): Scoreboards old and new
A house in France that is not faceless
New Tricks is popular because it is full of old people and it is mostly old people who watch telly
Getting better - but rather slowly
Enjoy it when you can
Quite a line-up in New York
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
Ed Smith on sporting maturity – Burns and Henriques collide – Secretariat and his jockey
What are those things on her hands?
Reading Anton Howes again
How the internet is cheering up Art
It turns out that lightning speed is immensely useful
Out from under the weather
A Sunday ramble
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
A global temperature graph that seems to fit the recent facts
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
When you are old you tend to assume that confusion is your fault even if actually it is not
Cats without tails are not scary