aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, April 10, 2005
The longevity boom
Yesterday, World O’Crap had details of the latest from the Blogs for Terri crowd, this time here in Georgia. Read it and weep. An 81 year old grandmother, her granddaughter and the granddaughter’s cousin. Particularly read for the local comment. This could be my family or yours. Pray that it never is.
It is yet another sign of our times, but it’s one that will inevitably pass. Demographics will see to that. The future I expect is closer to that described in The Coming Death Shortage: why the longevity boom will make us sorry to be alive, by Charles C. Mann, in the April Atlantic:
In the past century U.S. life expectancy has climbed from forty-seven to seventy-seven, increasing by nearly two thirds. Similar rises happened in almost every country. And this process shows no sign of stopping: according to the United Nations, by 2050 global life expectancy will have increased by another ten years. Note, however, that this tremendous increase has been in average life expectancy-that is, the number of years that most people live. There has been next to no increase in the maximum lifespan, the number of years that one can possibly walk the earth-now thought to be about 120. In the scientists’ projections, the ongoing increase in average lifespan is about to be joined by something never before seen in human history: a rise in the maximum possible age at death.
Mann predicts “intergenerational warfare” as the “orderly succession of generations” beaks down. We’ll have “...pregnant seventy-year-olds, offshore organ farms, protracted adolescence, and lifestyles policed by insurance companies.”
Gay relationships work
This American Life this week had a show on the sanctity of marriage. (Technically last week’s show, but it was broadcast tonight in Georgia.) At the end of Act I, I was surprised to hear marital researcher John Gottman talk about his research on gay and lesbian couples. It seems that lesbian and gay couples “are even better than” the model married heterosexual couples in a number of areas. Findings include:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Gay/lesbian couples are more upbeat in the face of conflict. Compared to straight couples, gay and lesbian couples use more affection and humor when they bring up a disagreement, and partners are more positive in how they receive it. Gay and lesbian couples are also more likely to remain positive after a disagreement.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Gay/lesbian couples use fewer controlling, hostile emotional tactics. Gottman and Levenson also discovered that gay and lesbian partners display less belligerence, domineering and fear with each other than straight couples do.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ In a fight, gay and lesbian couples take it less personally. In straight couples, it is easier to hurt a partner with a negative comment than to make one’s partner feel good with a positive comment. This appears to be reversed in gay and lesbian couples. Gay and lesbian partners’ positive comments have more impact on feeling good, while their negative comments are less likely to produce hurt feelings.
He describes the difficulty getting funding for the research: “...if you say gay and lesbian it will be pulled it won’t even be reviewed...there are these watchdog organizations...they have these computer programs that scan the abstracts for key words and if you don’t use those key words they don’t get picked up...that’s the kind of climate in which we’re working.”
It doesn’t appear he’s even particularly interested in gay and lesbian relationships beyond how they relate to all relationships. “If they’re representative...we heterosexuals have a lot to learn from gay and lesbian relationships.” He thinks the results in part reflect that it’s easier for men to talk to men and women to talk to women.
I agree but would add that some of it could also be that those of us who have navigated society’s antipathy and dodged or worked through our own community’s problems with sex, drugs and isolation have, as a consequence, almost as a side effect, learned some of these relationship skills along the way.
Another feature of the show was Adam Felber’s commentary on the impact of gay marriage on his own:
This gay marriage thing is tearing my wife and me apart. Now, because of activist judges in Massachusetts and overzealous officials in San Francisco, our union is hanging on by the thinnest of threads...That’s why we need a Constitutional amendment that will protect marriage for straight people. Until we have the right to enter that sacred union, violate it, exit it, and enter it again with somebody else, again and again, regardless of what crimes we commit, until we’re too old and feeble to mouth the words, “I do,” - unless we have that right and gay people don’t, then there is truly nothing sacred in the United States of America.
Thank you Adam. Thank you Ira.
Klingon Cling on
Michael Dante may not be on any Hollywood A-list, but on this weekend in Pasadena, he was intergalactic. Dante was capitalizing on his appearance in a single episode of the original Star Trek series. It aired Dec. 1, 1967. “But it was a very popular episode,” Dante insisted…
Dennis...is originally from South Plainfield, New Jersey...best known as a Stunt Coordinator and Stunt performer on Star Trek...Before he graduated, he set a new school record clearing thriteen feet in pole vaulting on the South Plainfield High School track team...As a teen he took guitar lessons...Music has always been in his heart and now it’s pouring out.
Yes, pouring out. The patriotic equivalent of Christian rock. With PhotoShop angels. On Venice Beach.
Divorce & death
This tidbit from an Atlantic article on extending life expectancy:
The historian Lawrence Stone was among the first to note that divorce was rare in previous centuries partly because people died so young that bad unions were often dissolved by early funerals. As people lived longer, Stone argued, divorce became “a functional substitute for death.” Indeed, marriages dissolved at about the same rate in 1860 as in 1960, except that in the nineteenth century the dissolution was more often due to the death of a partner, and in the twentieth century to divorce. The corollary that children were as likely to live in households without both biological parents in 1860 as in 1960 is also true.