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So You Want to Live Forever

Death is inescapable, but so is a craving for immortality. And for carbohydrates. You’d better skip those if you want to see 120… 

DAVE MALAN

DAVE MALAN

For The Weekly StandardCharlotte Allen writes: Aubrey de Grey, 51, is the man who insists that within a few decades technology will enable us human beings to beat death and live forever. Actually, he’s not the only one to make these assertions​—​that death is a problem to be solved, not a fate to be endured​—​but he is the only one I know of togive eternal life an exciting, just-around-the-corner timeline. “Someone is alive right now who is going to live to be 1,000 years old,” he told me when I interviewed him last fall at the SENS (for “Strategically Engineered Negligible Senescence”) Research Foundation headquarters, a well-worn 3,000-square-foot cement building in the Silicon Valley flatlands where de Grey holds the title of chief science officer. He has made this prophecy to a number of reporters​—​and this is what makes de Grey the most famous of a growing number of people who have staked their lifestyles and futures on the prospect of never dying. He is constantly interviewed by the press, has written a 2007 book, Ending Aging, and has given at least two of the TED talks that are a genius-certification ritual for public intellectuals these days.

[Amazon has it: Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime]

The British-born de Grey, with a doctorate in biology from Cambridge, is also the single most colorful figure in the ending-agingliving-forever movement, where colorful figures generously abound. “I look as though I’m in my 30s,” he informed me after we settled, first into a cluttered conference room dominated by an enormous scribbled-over whiteboard, and then into a low-ceilinged lounge whose mélange of hard-bounce chairs and sofas looks as though it was scrounged from sidewalk discards. And maybe he does look that young, but it’s hard to tell, because his waist-length, waterfall-style beard​—​a de Grey trademark​—​gives him the look of an extremely spry Methuselah, who, according to the Bible, made it only to 969 years. De Grey is actually of the phenotype Ageless British Eccentric: English Rose cheeks, piercing blue eyes, and someone-please-make-him-a-sandwich slenderness; his tomato-red shirt and gray slacks hang from angular shoulders and legs. Bony frames that verge on gauntness are a hallmark of the living-forever movement, most of whose members hew to severe dietary restrictions in order to prolong their lives while they wait for science to catch up with death. De Grey, by contrast, claims to eat whatever he likes and also to drink massive quantities of carb-loaded English ale, working it all off by punting on the River Cam in the four months a year he spends doing research back at Cambridge. (During the rest of the year he lives in Los Gatos, a picturesque Victorian town in the Santa Cruz Mountains 14 miles southeast of Mountain View.)

De Grey subscribes to the reigning theory of the live-forever movement: that aging, the process by which living things ultimately wear themselves out and die, isn’t an inevitable part of the human condition. Instead, aging is just another disease, not really different in kind from any of the other serious ailments, such as heart failure or cancer, that kill us. And as with other diseases, de Grey believes that aging has a cure or series of cures that scientists will eventually discover. “Aging is a side effect of being alive,” he said during our interview. “The human body is exactly the same as a car or an airplane. It’s a machine, and any machine, if you run it, will effect changes on itself that require repairs. Living systems have a great deal of capacity for self-repair, but over time some of those changes only accumulate very slowly, so we don’t notice them until we are very old.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Teamwork Is Overrated

photo credit: Shutterstock

photo credit: Shutterstock

Gavin McInnes writes: I recently did a TED Talk here in Brooklyn and the conference’s theme was teamwork. The first thing I thought when assigned the task was, “I don’t want to be part of that.” Teamwork is the bane of my existence. Almost every day I attend meetings with creative types where 50% of our time is spent placating the incompetents. We say, “That’s an interesting idea, Jennifer,” but we’re thinking, “can I go back to my desk now?”

Today’s work culture is all about the team and has supplanted the power of the individual. That’s downright un-American. Glenn Beck recently had Michelle Malkin on his show, and they were both talking about the “tinkerpreneurs” who built this country. Malkin had given Beck’s book a rave review and it has inspired her to do her own book tentatively called Who Built That: The Tinkerpreneurs Who Built Everything From the Bottle Cap to Bridges. Both books take a huge dump on the idea of the team. They strive to put the maverick back in the driver’s seat of American history. As Beck puts it, “The power of an individual who trusts his gut can be found in the story of the man who stopped the twentieth hijacker from being part of 9/11.” On the show, they discussed Obama’s “You didn’t build that” quote and both agreed it’s a very dangerous mentality that belittles the entrepreneur.

It’s not just a pain in the economy’s ass. Collectivism is a virus that has infected everything we do. I’m presently trying to get my kids into better schools and I’ve noticed the administrators fall into two categories: those who encourage the individual and those who think teamwork trumps personal development.

“Only incompetent people love the team, and they love it because it makes it harder to discover their incompetence.”

If my daughter becomes obsessed with sharks, I want you to teach her the math of sharks. How many are left? Teach her the geography of sharks. Where are they most prevalent? Teach her economics by discussing Japan’s harvesting of shark fins, etc. I asked one teacher if she’d be willing to tailor assignments to a particular student’s interests and when I provided the above example she said, “Well, we’d try to get everyone involved in sharks so they could share her interest.” What a depressing notion. Now every student has to be dragged into every other student’s passion until nobody’s passionate about anything.

Read the rest of this entry »