Ripped from the headlines

OLDEST AMERICAN WOMAN DIES AT 114 YEARS OF AGE: Even though we know that women tend to outlive men, I am still heartened to learn that I qualify as “middle-aged.”

If this trend holds up, I have about 40 years more to live. Of course, I will have to make some adjustments to my lifestyle. For one, I will have to start drinking a glass of red wine every day. I do not like red wine, but if that’s what it takes to get me to 110, I will drink it, much like I used to drink a product called Cheracol my parents gave me when I had a cough. The best way to do that was with two fingers holding your nose while you swallowed the swill. Years later, I realized that Manischewitz and Cheracol are not unlike one another in taste.

But hey, you do what you have to do. On the other hand, I know many people who do not want to live that long. I just want to live long enough to see all those things that we can only dream about now, like gene therapies that work; cars that don’t need gasoline; and houses that are heated on something sustainable and much cheaper than oil and gas. For the record book, my father died at 74 and I’m 68.

HANCOCK SHAKER VILLAGE CELEBRATES GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY: What a wonderful place — all those artifacts and animals and reminders of a simpler time. This is one of the great attractions of the Berkshires. It should be sustained if only for the annual pie-eating contest. The celebratory events that have been scheduled are terrific. Of course the Shakers are just about extinct now, which happens when you swear off sex.

LAW ON GUN LOCKS UPHELD: Let’s remember that this is the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. It is not the Supreme Court of the United States, with a conservative majority which has been gung-ho for gun rights. Every time I hear about a kid who was accidentally shot because he grabbed papa’s gun and pulled the trigger, I shake my head and wonder what this has to do with a “well-armed militia.”

Look, this is all about business. The gun lobby in this country will always try to make it about our rights and not about their profits. Every time I write on this subject, I get one very angry letter from one very angry gun guy. The letters have been getting close enough to the line for me to think about sending them to the police department. I have always wondered just who has to have a gun. Are some angry folks more prone to this than less-aggressive personalities?

Think of it, if we could just have followed their example as a society, the land would be much more pristine, sustained and preserved; we wouldn’t have to be blotting the landscape with ticky-tacky buildings; and we would have sub-zero population growth. We probably wouldn’t have the air pollution we have. Of course, we wouldn’t have our wonderful children and grandchildren, but we would have more lions and tigers and elephants.

Now, there is something to say for sex. It’s a very nice activity; it’s enjoyable and makes the time go by, but it does tend to get people into trouble. Just look at David Letterman and Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson and Nicolas Sarkozy.

We Americans would be deprived of our irrational titillation over sexual wanderings. The tabloids would probably go broke. (Not a bad thing.)

THE CENSUS IS COMING: I was interviewing Congressman Joe Courtney from Connecticut the other day. He told me that so many people will be used to collect census data that the employment numbers around the country will actually go up. Now there’s a stimulus package.

An awful lot is riding on this census. For example, there is talk that the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts may be combined by the state Legislature. I presume this will depend on the numbers that come out of the census. There is a large immigrant population (some undocumented) in our area. Many of these folks will be very dependent on state and federal dollars coming into our district based on these numbers. They may be loathe to announce their presence even though they keep getting reassured that all of the census data is private.

When you have a homeland security agency that throws people out of the country with absolutely no warning, no matter how long they have been here, I would be suspicious, too.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 3/13/10

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