Blast From The Past: Right And Wrong

Right And Wrong

January 8, 2006

I watched the movie of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent this morning, and through all the legal twists and turns, I found the most egregious twist to be that innocence is relative, guilt is sometimes not guilt, and perverting the law is okay if it helps someone else.

Of course, Scott Turow is a lawyer, so all these things are to be expected.

Plot summary: A DA has a fling with some female lawyer, she’s found dead, and he’s accused of the murder even though we know he didn’t do it. The evidence against him is substantial, but he’s eventually found not guilty. Then [plot twist warning], he discovers that his own wife actually killed the woman, and planted all the evidence, thinking that it’s so thin that he’ll never be accused of it—but of course, he is, and it’s only through some skullduggery that the evidence against him disappears, during which time we discover that the dead tramp was a Truly Evil & Corrupt Person (which, clearly, makes her murder sorta-okay), and the prosecution aren’t angels either, being pretty corrupt themselves (which also exonerates the defense’s wrongdoings).  (There’s a huge gaping hole in the plot, by the way, but that’s not relevant to the point of all this.)

The end of the movie has wifey confessing the crime to him. He doesn’t turn her in, of course, and the voice-over (his) which closes the movie says that he’s not going to deprive his son of his mother, and he’ll have to suffer the torment of knowing that he’s living with a murderer.

Am I the only one who thinks that this is relativist nonsense?

I am reminded of the real-life FBI agent in (I think) North Carolina who discovered that his own son had killed someone. Rather than protecting his son, which he could have done simply by keeping his silence, the FBI agent turned him in, even knowing that his own son might fry in the chair or go to jail forever. Now thatwould have made a good morality play, and a fine movie, because every single parent could say to themselves, “I hope I’m never faced with that decision, and if I am, I hope I have the moral strength to do what that man did”—because few would. I don’t know if I would.

But that movie will never be made.

When I compare real life to Hollywood, I find that in Presumed Innocent, Hollywood has made an open-and-shut case of morality into something a little more cloudy (surprise, surprise), where “the slut deserved to die because [blah blah blah]”. And the torment of the hero knowing his wife’s guilt, and of his own complicity in not revealing this, somehow makes up for the fact that a woman was killed just because she screwed another woman’s husband. And it’s okay to hide evidence because the prosecution is also doing the same kind of thing. And, and, and… the list of moral excuses runs on and on.

After watching the movie, I cannot tell you how dirty I felt. Because I’d followed the story avidly, seeing morality being bent and twisted this way and that, and all I could think at the end was: No wonder that murderer O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

That’s the pernicious effect of Hollywood, and its insidious effect on our modern culture cannot be underestimated. Wrong is right, provided there are extenuating circumstances, right can be wrong if the other side isn’t being honest on their part, and so on.

At the end of all this, there is no moral compass left on which one can make the proper judgment. The only important thing is winning in the short term, regardless of what harm comes from so doing.

It’s not just in the movies.

I watch people playing sport, and bending the rules to their utmost extent to try to gain a little advantage. I see little honor in sport nowadays: if I were playing Wimbledon, and the linesman made a call against my opponent which was clearly wrong, I would either tank the next point in protest, or I would complain to the umpire and insist on the call being reversed—warning that if not, I would tank the next point in protest.

But that never happens, and these so-called “sportsmen” go on and win huge sums of money, sometimes based on the certain knowledge that they won because of a wrong decision. How do they sleep? I’m not interested in saying that “it happened to him today, it could happen to me tomorrow” and using the law of averages to excuse a wrongful action. I’m not interested in excusing such behavior because great sums of money are involved, either. That’s like excusing a shoplifter because he only stole “a little” money.

Because not correcting an obvious mistake, and profiting thereby, is as wrong as committing an unnoticed foul and going on to win in consequence.

People ask me why I watch golf. You know why? Because golfers call fouls on themselves, even if they may be disqualified from the competition thereby. Golf may be the last true sport left in the world, because people still play the game with scrupulous honesty.

I’m not setting myself up as some paragon of virtue, and that’s not the point of all this.

But in the so-called “bad old days”, Hollywood movies were supposed to show that crime doesn’t pay—even if there are extenuating circumstances. In High Sierra, Humphrey Bogart dies for his crimes, even though his downfall was caused by his feelings for a crippled girl. In modern-day Hollywood, that would be sufficient to secure his escape, and with all the money he’d robbed from a bank into the bargain.

We all chuckle at those old-fashioned rules, where wrongdoing had to show its consequences, and sneer about “censorship” and censors inflicting their “morality” on others.

Let me tell you something.

When the history of this era comes to be written, and people wonder how a society which had become so prosperous, so healthy and so settled, could have sunk into such depths of depravity that the Menendez brothers weren’t executed for cold-bloodedly shotgunning their own parents to death, all the evidence will be found in novels and movies like Presumed Innocent.


We’re All Individuals!

This line comes from Chris DeGroot, and I nearly made it a QOTD, but I think it actually deserves more discussion.

“Over time, any nation in which personal autonomy is taken for granted as the highest good must become deficient in social cohesion.”

And that’s where the Enlightenment falls apart.  In their rush to overcome the oppressive social environment such as under royalty or an official State church (not to mention religious excesses such as the Inquisition), the Founding Fathers, Enlightened all, created a system with ironclad rights (which they called “natural”) which were guaranteed to the individual and protected by the Constitution.

I have no idea what John Adams or Thomas Jefferson would have thought of a society with many nebulous and self-identified genders about which nobody dare breathe an ugly or even judgmental word (despite that “freedom of speech” thing).  Let’s not even talk about the demonization of White men or the “reverse” racism enshrined in racial-preference laws.  If they’d had that situation back then, Washington may well have called out the militia to enforce a series of mass floggings… ummmm…

Sorry, I went away to warm and wonderful place there for a moment.

The point is that intelligent people (such as, say, the Founding Fathers) have always known that the concept of individual rights stood at the very top of an extremely slippery slope, but I suppose that the aforementioned probably counted on the common sense of the people and their elected officials not to take society to a place where a White woman wearing a caftan on a hot summer’s day could be decried as “cultural appropriation”, and punished  (by censure from university authorities, for example, or by socially-acceptable ostracization).

So much for that idea.

DeGroot’s statement is perfectly true, of course, so at a time when we as a nation are hopelessly divided into a multiplicity of self-interested groups of increasingly-freakish people — not to mention nigh-monolithic groups such as “Blacks”, “progressives” or “LGBTOSTFU” — it seems an impossible task to call for such exotica as “national unity” (what a fucking joke) or make pleas that sound like “Can’t we all just get along?”

No, we can’t, ever;  not when The Other has been institutionally demonized by the Perpetually Aggrieved.

Well-meaning people may think that there must be a way for us to come together and put aside our differences, but that’s never going to happen.  As long as the most trivial differences between us have been magnified into chasms separating us into “Nazis” and “racists” (to name but two), such harmony is absolutely impossible.

I wish there was a workable, lasting solution, but there isn’t.  Even the mass floggings alluded to above aren’t possible, otherwise the Left would have started them already — on us — for being the Nazi / racist / evil / Trumpians / whatever we are (according to their  standards, of course).

The only thing that does cause so splintered a nation to unify is a calamity (e.g. a hurricane’s devastation) or a palpable evil perpetrated by a hostile entity (e.g. 9/11).  Because of the sheer size of the United States, natural calamity is generally localized and is not a “national” event.  And even the actions of a hostile entity have an increasingly-abbreviated shelf life nowadays, so I see no “unity” in our collective future.  Hell, I don’t even see comity appearing anytime soon.

But then, I’m The Enemy.

The Old In-And-Out

…and I don’t mean the California-based greaseburger chain, either.  Apparently, we Westerners aren’t doing enough bonking, and according to the New York Post, this means The End Of Civilization As We Know It.

This should be a golden age for sex — if not the swinging-from-the-chandelier kind, then at least the regular, reliable fun type. The economy is booming, and America, and the world, are safer than ever. Young people can find willing mates just by swiping on their phones.
It’s a cushy, luxurious time. So why aren’t we naked and rolling around in bed to celebrate?

As always, I’m going to start off by asking the usual questions:  how do we know that people are having less sex — given that when asked about their sex lives, most people lie like Clintons anyway — and if we are making fewer beasts-with-two-backs, so what?

But let’s grant the writer’s hypothesis as truthful, and explore the issue.

The the Usual Suspects can be trotted out:  Internet porn, Netflix, Tinder, Fecesbook followings, constant checking of phones et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  In other words, Westerners are finding things to do with their spare time other than to have sex.  There may be some truth to all of this:  Chinese peasants seem to have no problem procreating (within State-mandated limits, of course), nor do Nigerian tribesmen or Indian farmers.  In fact, go to any Third World area where there is no electricity and people are breeding like rabbits.  But as the article later suggests, it’s not all about reproduction:

A sexless society is a dying one, and not only for the obvious reason that sex produces babies to replenish the population.
Sex serves as a bonding agent between people in relationships, and when they stop having it, or have it a lot less, that affects the kind of connections they are forming. That loss of intimacy is a big problem.

Here’s my theory about all this.  It’s not one thing that’s causing this problem, it’s a multitude of things, and the arrival of mass entertainment as explained above is just one of them.

The danger to (Western) civilization is not a lack of shagging, but said civilization’s decades-long undermining by academia and other counter-culture hippies.  This is coupled with the wholesale immigration of hordes of people who (if the population growth stats are to be believed) do not have a no-bonking issue — rather, the reverse — but who have few if any ties to said Western civilization.  So the culture is being undermined, and replaced with one that is more, shall we say, primitive.  (Go on: challenge  that statement:  I dare you.)  In a hundred years’ time, when all vestiges of Anglo-Saxon / Judeo-Christian culture have disappeared and the United States looks and behaves more like, well, Central America, there will be no articles written about how sex is disappearing, I guarantee you.

As for the “sex-as-bonding” hypothesis, when we as a society have an easy-come-easy-go [sic] attitude towards relationships (including marriage, through no-fault divorce), commitment does not and cannot take place with only sex as the bonding agent.  Here’s where I can easily point a finger at today’s hook-up culture, made all the easier by applications such as Tinder;  if sex is seen as pure recreation long before a couple is married, its value as a bonding agent has been irreparably undermined.

Another problem:  find me a young married couple today (not living on a farm) where only one of the couple is working.  I’ll save you the trouble:  you won’t.  The plain fact is that even without the feministical Career-Girl Have-It-All-Baby influence, it is no longer easy, or even possible, to have a single wage-earner support a family — and I’m not talking about wealthy Wall Street financiers’ families (who typically don’t have large families anyway);  I’m talking about ordinary folk, to whom having more than one or two children means financial catastrophe unless both partners are working (and sometimes, even then).  When both partners are working their asses off, and have easy access to entertainment through their cell phones, it’s no great leap to understand why sex takes a back seat.  Add to that the fact that when a couple does finally have young children and / or babies, sex falls off a cliff, as any fule kno.

Let’s also address the other great issue:  people aren’t going to want to procreate (which is the primal instinct which drives the desire for sex) when the future is unknown, or uncertain.  I defy you again to find me any group of young people who have not experienced a layoff, or a company shutting down or being merged out of existence, or having a career suddenly disappear when their function is replaced by automation or foreign-based workers.  Once again, I’ll save you the trouble:  you won’t, because everyone under the age of forty has had one of the above happen to them, and probably more than once withal.

I also know that the Welfare State makes it easy for single parents to have multiple children, but I would argue that the Welfare State is not a feature of Western civilization, even though that’s where it’s most often found.  (Imagine, for example, the Founding Fathers seeing some modern urban ghetto, and their likely reaction upon learning how that lifestyle is subsidized, and you’ll get my point.)

I have no solution to this because as far as I can see, there is none.  At best, if a solution does exist, it’s going to be a.) incredibly difficult and time-consuming to implement, and b.) so unpopular (for a variety of reasons) that its chances of success are infinitesimally small.

I have no idea, for example, how to lower the cost of living to, say, 1950s-era levels where a family of four can live in a reasonably-modest dwelling, own one or two inexpensive cars, have enough to eat, and afford to give the kids a decent education — all on one salary, at a stable place of employment.  In order to get there, we’d have to make drastic changes to our national way of life, changes that I’m pretty sure that nobody would want to make.  I also have no clue how to instill the values of long-term commitment (from, say the early 1900s) into a generation which would resist that change mightily.  Those kinds of changes might make common sense if the goal were to improve our current society’s laissez-faire / “whatever”  attitude to, well, just about everything, but I just don’t see the Me-me-me Generation wanting to turn back the clock.  Good grief, most of them can’t tell time on a dial clock anyway, so what are the chances?

But should we somehow reach that state, I can guarantee that everyone would be having sex, and a lot of it.

The generation which produced the Baby Boom is all the historical evidence I need.

Raging Back At The Enemy

As Longtime Readers know, I used to work in the Stat Research department of a Great Big Research Company, so I know a little about numbers.

Here’s the problem with statistics.  They’re a great tool for providing context — e.g. if unemploment now is at 3.7% and it was 7.2% during the reign of the sainted Obama, then things are better for the labor force now than they were then.  (Unless of course you’re a socialist, for whom a lower unemployment rate is disastrous because then they can’t make more people dependent on the State.)

In doing further (non-statistical) analysis, however, the problem then becomes less statistical and more historical.  Here’s an example.

Morris Fiorina of the Hoover Institution is doing his best Chip Diller / Animal House act (“Remain calm!  All is well!”) in looking at how the majority of the American populace is less political than the politically-active / -aware, thus:

To understand contemporary American political life, you should begin with the realization that most of the people blabbering on cable television, venting on Facebook, and/or fulminating on Twitter are abnormal. They are abnormally interested and involved in politics, they tend to occupy the policy extremes, and they are abnormally opinionated. As of today, there are about 235 million eligible voters in the United States. About one percent of them subscribe to either The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Liberals rail against Fox News and conservatives against MSNBC; they should take consolation in the fact that the Fox viewing audience is about one percent of the eligible electorate while news shows on MSNBC fall short of that.
Some suggest that the internet and social media have replaced the older print and electronic media, but the available research does not support that suggestion. If “hundreds of millions of people” really were doing politics on social media, I would share Hanson’s worries, but such a claim overstates the number of social media activists by several orders of magnitude. A 2013 Facebook study that tracked Bing toolbar searches found that 96 percent of the users clicked on zero or one opinion column in a three-month period. In 2017 the Pew Research Center reported that less than four percent of adults consider Twitter an important source of news.
In many respects the American electorate has changed surprisingly little in more than six decades. In 2016 about 10 percent of the eligible electorate made a campaign contribution—to any campaign at any level, the same figure as in the 1950s. Despite media hype about Obamamania in 2008 and Trump rallies in 2016, less than 10 percent of the eligible electorate attended any kind of campaign meeting or rally in those years, the same figure as six decades ago. As for people who knock on doors or make phone calls for campaigns, we are talking about two to three percent of the eligible electorate, the same small proportion as in the Eisenhower era.

And so on.  To be fair, Fiorina does allow that our polity has become more polarized (he calls it “sorted”) since the 1950s, but this is where history starts to stick its nose into statistical analysis.  If the Eisenhower era, for example, was not as polarized as today’s, then one shouldn’t look at the former as the comparator.  Rather, we should look at times when political and public opinion was polarized to get a proper perspective.  And you don’t have to be a dorky historian (such as I) to find two excellent examples of that.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 1776 and 1860 – and in both cases, what happened was war:  revolutionary in the first case and civil in the second.

The only argument to be made is whether today’s polity is as polarized as those were back then — and I would suggest that the correct answer is:  not quite yet.  But it’s damn close.

Let me finish this preamble by examining another of Fiorina’s theses:

Finally, some words about immigration, a major bone of contention between Republicans and Democrats in the political class, although surprisingly, less important than commonly believed among normal Americans. Although the U.S. is an immigrant nation, today’s emphasis on ethnic identity politics understandably leads many people to conclude that today’s immigration differs from that of previous eras, with more negative implications. But the kinds of controversies the United States now is experiencing are strikingly similar to those that accompanied earlier large waves of immigration. Hanson certainly is correct in asserting that political pressures to assimilate are much lower today, but societal pressures remain strong. The evidence indicates that despite the rhetoric of ethnic identity group activists and today’s celebration of diversity, the American melting pot continues to boil. Ongoing studies report, for example, that English language acquisition is proceeding at a rate comparable to, if not faster than, that in the early 20th Century; in particular, by the third generation Latinos are English-dominant or fully bilingual.

Here’s my major problem with this perspective.  In the early 20th century, immigrants came to America to find a predominantly (and fairly stubborn) Western-European / Protestant culture, so the incentive to assimilate and acculturate was strong.  In today’s society, with its multi-culti insistence and hatred of the eeeevil Western European ethos, there is no incentive to assimilate.  In fact, given the deliberate racial / ethnic / gender / cultural divisions caused by the Left, there is a negative incentive to do so because to assimilate is to wave goodbye to all the little financial and societal goodies given to members of all those little sub-groups by waves of Leftist / Progressive / neo-Socialist (and un-Constitutional, an argument for another time) government programs.  And sorry, under such circumstances we don’t have three generations to see if the melting pot will work.

To summarize:  all is not well — in fact, it’s as far from well as I can imagine — and to remain calm under such circumstances is not only counter-productive, it’s a formula for defeat.  Which brings me to my principal point.

“So Kim, what should we do?”

Be aggressive as hell, and fight back (to quote that Commie fucker Obama, “Punch back twice as hard”).

  • If you come out of a restaurant and find your car has been keyed because of your NRA decal, consider finding two cars with liberal decals (e.g. “Beto” (Texas) or “Resist!”), but don’t key the shit out of them:  a simple splodge of black spray paint over the decal will suffice.
  • If some Pantifa fuckwits threaten you with weapons at a protest  / counter-protest event, be ready to pepper-spray or kick the shit out of them — do not be afraid to confront these cocksuckers.  And if they escalate the violence… it will be their problem.
  • If some baying liberals start screaming at you outside a restaurant, why not call the cops on them?  Insist on laying charges of intimidation, public indecency, assault and hate crimes (yeah, let’s use the Left’s little weapons against them).  And if the cops refuse to do anything, file suit against them.
  • If Socialist professors call you out in class publicly for being a conservative or Republican, feel free to tell them that you intend bring civil charges (not university-based, but legal ones) against them personally for creating a “hostile study environment” (see above).
  • If some feminist harpy accuses you of “rape” (regardless of definition), be sure to have filmed a little video of your encounter;  then find a way to publish said video on the Internet as a counterweight to her accusations.  Failing which, make sure you are never alone with a woman (see:  the Pence Rule);  or be sure to have witnesses who can be relied upon to take your side.
  • If you’re asked to speak at a college campus and the Left starts going batshit and threatening you, say nothing;  but consider quietly asking for some volunteer pro bono bodyguards to protect you  — about two dozen should do it.  (And if you’re asked to be one of those bodyguards, accept the gig.  Wear a dark suit, white shirt, sturdy black shoes and a conservative tie, put an earpiece into your ear and talk into your cuff frequently.  Also:  equip yourself appropriately.)
  • Always — always — insist on speaking, and being spoken to in English, regardless of circumstance.  If the other guy continues to scream at you in Spanish, respond with random Spanish expressions such as “Tierra del Fuego!” or my favorite, “Huevos y putas!”.  If being yelled at in Ebonics, simply say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Zulu”.
  • Feel free to add your own suggestions in Comments.

If all this sounds extreme, then let you remind me of the simple irrefutable truth of this situation:  we didn’t start the extremism;  the Left did.  They are very fond of using the old Marxist trope of “Reactionary!” against us, but the problem is that we haven’t reacted enough, or at all, in the face of their criminal and confrontational behavior.  (Note that I am not suggesting pre-emptive or “strike first” action.  But it’s sure as hell time for us to bring a little reaction to the party.)  And yes, some of what I’m suggesting might be considered illegal.  Compared to what the Left have done against us, it’s nothing — and compare spraying someone’s car to tarring and feathering a British magistrate, back in 1776.

It’s time some of the Left’s little pigeons came home to roost — or else we’re forever doomed to be browbeaten, belittled, intimidated and ultimately beaten down by these power-hungry, amoral cocksuckers.

No more.

Yes, I’m aware I might get into trouble for this post.  To those who might attempt to initiate some kind of violent action against me, I have a simple response:  FOAD.  Someone has to take a stand, and it might as well be this immigrant and naturalized citizen.  And please:  don’t bother with death threats, for obvious reasons.

Working Dogs Revisited

I received an email over the weekend which asked me to re-open Comments to my Working Dogs post from way back (okay, February).  He asked me this because he wanted to add to the conversation, but couldn’t.

Well, I don’t want to do that (reopen Comments), but instead let’s just use this as an extension.

So go back and read the piece and the Comment section, and if you’re one of the original commenters and have something to add, or want to post a different thought, please do so.  And if you’re a “newcomer” and want to comment, please do so too.

This is not a topic I want to let slide.

Working Dogs

I read this link from Insty with open-jawed astonishment yesterday because while I was out earlier in the day, I’d already started to put together a similar essay on the topic.

Maria D. Fitzpatrick of Cornell University and Timothy J. Moore of the University of Melbourne said they analyzed the mortality rates in the U.S. and noticed that many older Americans – but disproportionally men who retire at 62 – are affected by sudden increased rates of death.
“A lot happens in our early 60s. Some change jobs, scale back working hours or retire. Our health-care coverage may shift. We may have fewer financial resources, or we may begin collecting Social Security,” Fitzpatrick told The Wall Street Journal. “About one-third of Americans immediately claim Social Security at 62. Ten percent of men retire in the month they turn 62.”
The numbers, according to the study, show that there is a two percent increase in male mortality at age 62 in the country. “Over the 34 years we studied, there were an additional 400 to 800 deaths per year beyond what we expected, or an additional 13,000 to 27,000 excess male deaths within 12 months of turning 62,” the professor said.
The researcher blames the increased mortality on the retirement as retirees tend to withdraw from life and no longer see the point in engaging.

Quite honestly, I think I have a better take on this than the study. Here’s why.

I took an older guy somewhere during my early-morning Uber shift, and we got to chatting about retirement. He was in his early sixties and was thinking about retirement in the next couple of years or so — he’d reached all the retirement “qualifications” in terms of his age, length of service, and so on — and when I asked him what he was going to do after retirement, he said quite simply, “I don’t know.” He had no outside interests other than his work, he said, and had no hobbies or anything to keep him occupied when he would quit working.

This set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head, because I’d confronted the very same thoughts when I planned on retiring back in 2016 on reaching age 62 (which seems to be the “killer” age discovered by the researchers).

Worse than that, I either know men personally or have heard of many instances of men who have died soon — very soon — after retiring early. (When men retire at a later age, they paradoxically seem to live longer, as the study shows.) Sometimes, men die within six months of getting their gold watch, after many decades of working with little or even no time off for illness. Where I differ from the study is that I think I know the real reason why this happens.

We’re working dogs.

As long as men have work to do, we do fine. We have a purpose in life, we get up in the mornings with a day’s work ahead of ourselves, and this gives us a reason to live. It’s all tied up, I believe, in our inherent nature as providers and all that goes with it. When that activity stops earlier than expected — at 62, most of us have at least fifteen or even twenty more years to live — subconsciously we still feel that we are capable of working, providing and in short contributing to ourselves and others.

But when that ends, it’s as though a switch is turned off somewhere and our brains simply say, “Oh well, that’s it,” and we die. It may be that illness has been kept at bay through our industry and now given an empty playing field, so to speak, it takes over; or it may be that we do things that are more dangerous (the study mentions driving more as one activity), or perhaps we working dogs just feel useless and our existence, pointless.

It’s one of the reasons why I started blogging (i.e. writing) again after Connie passed away; all those years of caring for her had given me something to do, a purpose in life and now, faced with a life impossibly empty, I could well see why some cussed old fart would just say, “Ah, fuck it.” And die. Believe me, the thought of letting go crossed my mind often.

But this isn’t about me. This is about all men — and a couple of close friends withal — who are contemplating retirement, but without having any kind of backup work to do after they retire. And I’ll bet there are more than a few of my Readers who are looking down the barrel of this very gun, if not now, but soon. (My reader demographics skew towards cantankerous old farts because I am one, and we tend to seek each other out.)

And let me tell you, I fear for these men’s lives. We can’t handle boredom — not those men who have heretofore led active, fulfilling lives working.

Some men try to hold on, become consultants in their erstwhile fields, and either fail (because the market isn’t as great or as receptive as they thought), or they discover that consulting means selling yourself on a daily basis — and can’t bear the job because failure, in almost all cases, means (to them) that they are worthless. So instead of leaving the workplace as successes, they have to quit ignominiously as failures.

Even in our old age, we need a purpose in life, something that gets us out of the house and outside our own heads (the latter being a dark and unpleasant place, trust me on this) and something that will occupy our hands and minds. We are men: we are supposed to work.

And this is why, I believe, that men who retire at an older age are less likely to croak soon after retirement than the younger ones; their minds and bodies have finally said, “Enough!” — and they can let go, be inactive and just play with their grandchildren. But the younger ones are at risk, and they die, tragically in numbers disproportionate to the expectancy.

Some men just refuse to quit working and work until one day they keel over. Some men do charity work in their retirement, but others (e.g. myself) are just not cut out for that kind of thing. Some men take up hobbies which consume their time — just visit a model railroaders’ show and see the demographics of the stallholders — but I have to tell you that a hobby started late in life is seldom going to hold your attention for too long. Some men dream of adventure, and do stupid stuff like exploring the tropical rainforests — like hobbies, a lot of this stuff is best begun when you’re a young man — and sadly, what men discover is that even though they may have retired “young”, their bodies can’t do what a younger man’s can. More failure.

I don’t have an answer to this. I wish I did, but I just don’t. The sad fact of the matter is that without work, we die. And the younger we are when we quit work, the sooner we die.

I welcome any and all ideas, experiences, anecdotes and advice in Comments. It may all be for nothing; but what you say may save a life, and what you read may save yours. And if what you have to say is too personal, feel free to send me an email — I’ll anonymize the thing, take out all the personal details and post the distilled content later. Have at it… please.

This might be the most important post I’ve ever written.