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Two observations about Ohio

Posted on 2015.07.04 at 10:23
Current Location: Indianapolis, IN
Something changed when I got to the west side of the Alleghenies. New York State is part of the Northeast. It's various mountain ranges aren't really different from the Whites and the Greens and the Berkshires, except for the Dutch names. But once you're in Ohio, it's like you've escaped the gravitational pull of the Atlantic Ocean. Suddenly everything is oriented toward Lake Erie. The shape of the land, the human culture, even to some extent the foliage is different, with less birch and more poplar in the mix.

For those of you who are used to lakes that are just ponds with delusions of grandeur, that you can see to the other side of no matter where on the shore you stand, let me clarify matters: the Great Lakes are inland seas, with all the power and complexity implicit therein. When you're on the Erie shore, you know you're in the presence of powerful water. There are even freshwater versions of many ocean species. (Muskellunge = barracuda that doesn't need to breathe salt.) Before I saw Erie, I could feel it.

When I got to it, I wasn't looking for it. I was looking for a pavilion, the kind that is composed of a one-story building with a roof and a floor but no walls, just posts, usually with picnic tables underneath, often with electricity and possibly a snack concession. They are found in public parks. I was looking for one because it was drizzling and I wanted a dry place to make and eat lunch other than the car. In Conneaut, Ohio, the pavilion was at the beach, so that's where I went. But once I saw the beach, I couldn't not walk down to the water. And once I was there, I wanted to stay there, drizzle or no.

The lake is vast but, most of the time, gentle. The loose rocks that lie among the sand tend to be slate and shale, so they tend to be flat, and there are lots of them. If skipping stones over the water were an Olympic event, this is where the U.S. team would come to train. If I wanted to regain this obscure skill from my childhood, all I'd have to do is come here every day for, oh, say, a couple of weeks. But I have other priorities, so I drove on.


It's been a long time since the river burned.

My college boyfriend grew up in Akron, Ohio, not too far from the Cuyahoga River, famous for being so polluted that it caught on fire. Twice. (Actually, I think it was more times than that, but twice in our lifetime.) He had cousins in the suburb of Cuyahoga Falls, quite close to the falls themselves, and from them he heard that the fire was the least of it. The river always stank of chemicals and was often some unnatural color.

“You can tell when the factories upstream are cleaning their equipment,” I remember him saying, “because they dump the wash water straight into the river, and when it gets to the falls, it foams up thirty feet high. You can tell how high afterward because, where that foam touches the leaves on the trees, those leaves die. And you can't let your dog out. They love to play in the foam, but then after that, they get sick.”

Last Tuesday, I visited the riverside stretch of the Cleveland Metropark system. There were signs guiding visitors to fishing spots. The river itself, well, it wasn't crystal clear straight to the bottom, but that was because it was a bit flooded. Been a lot of rain in northern Ohio lately. Leaves of riverside trees and shrubs trailed in the water, which was opaque with mud, but it was just plain natural mud, pretty much like it would be carrying if this area had never been industrialized. Little brown birds with white bellies, members of some species that lives by catching bugs in the air, flew just above the surface, indicating a healthy insect population. There were swirls on the surface that suggested fish activity just below, possibly also feeding on insects. It looked to my barely environmentally literate eyes like a healthy river.

Randy Newman wrote a song about the river, back when. He titled it “Burn On.” It didn't, and that's a good thing.

Corning Museum of Glass

Posted on 2015.06.30 at 16:15
Current Location: Conneaut, Ohio
The last time I visited the Corning Museum of Glass was in 1971, the year before the flood that wiped out the old place. What I remember of it was thinking that “Paperweights of the World” was a really dumb idea for an exhibit and then being surprisingly impressed. Also, coveting several pieces of the art glass. This is Corning. They have the best in the world.

Saw it again on Sunday. Last time I was impressed. This time I was astonished. I think the gift shop alone is bigger and has more cool stuff now than the entire museum then.

I mean, check out this thing:

It's in the lobby. It's called Fern Green Tower. The artist's name is Dale Chihuly. It's fifteen feet tall. Here's a close-up:

The place is full of stuff like this. I figured I'd start with the archaeological section, obsidian arrowheads and ancient Mesopotamian bottles, but it was hard to find. Instead, I ended up in something I hadn't even known about: the tech section, basically a science museum inside an art museum. There was an optics room demonstrating the effects of prisms, single lenses, pairs of lenses, Fresnel lenses, and a curved mirror that threw hologram-like optical illusions of my own reflection walking toward me upside down. There were exhibits about the old, manual ways of producing glass that formed a background for the videos about the technological breakthroughs that allowed (and sometimes forced) the mechanization of glass production. (Ever hear the story that really old window glass is thicker at the bottom than at the top because glass is actually a very slow-flowing liquid? Total urban legend. Old window glass was thicker at the bottom the day it was installed. The reason it was thicker was because, before mechanization, window glass was made by glassblowers, essentially blowing a transparent plate a yard wide, inevitably thicker toward the center, from which panes were cut in whatever shape the architecture required. That's why large windows were made of multiple small panes; the biggest possible size was only a little more than a foot square. Bigger sheets of plate glass have only become possible within my lifetime.) I watched a glassblowing demonstration, a glass-breaking demonstration (about the shatter-resistance of different types of glass) and one on fiber optics, which of course use fiberglass.

After lunch in the small but decent café, I took in a history exhibit: “Celebrating a Century of Pyrex”. It made me feel old. Pyrex is darn near indestructible, so some of those early dishes from before WWII were still around when I was a girl, and even after that, in the secondhand market, when I was furnishing my first apartment. There was also a bit about the science side of Pyrex, the way adding a little boron at the beginning of the process will give the resulting glass far greater resistance to stress, both thermal and physical. Who'd have guessed? It convinced me that I needed a special edition commemorative Pyrex measuring cup, my only gift shop purchase.

Then, finally, I got to the old glass. There was some pretty good archeology in the presentation, although they did have a little fragment of an ancient Roman frieze labeled “Panel with Satyr” that clearly represented, not a satyr, but the drunken Hercules. Moving forward through time, archeology merged into art, with pieces exhibited less to represent times, places, cultures, and techniques than styles and symbols and self-expression. I enjoyed the irony of stained glass, that quintessential Christian church art, being invented in an Islamic country. And then, as the Middle Ages merged into the Renaissance, I found myself surrounded by the vast plenitude of art glass that was the original purpose of the museum. Lampwork figurines of saints. Trick drinking glasses from 18th century German-speaking countries, designed to either frustrate or splash the drinker. (That's my ancestors for you.) A flattering portrait of the Sun King, cast in a glass oval wall plaque about two feet long. And then on to 19th century cut glass and the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, and on and on and on. My eyeballs got tired but I had to keep going, gallery after gallery, through the ensuing five hundred years, because there was so much awesomeness. And, yes, there was still a “Paperweights of the World” exhibit, and it's still a lot better than you'd think.

Closing time. I had literally been in the museum nine hours. There was a little survey booklet I'd been filling out as I went; I got a free sun-catcher when I turned it in. Didn't open it until I was out of there. When I saw it, I couldn't help but suspect that the clerk had taken one look at me and said “Definitely give her a pentagram.”

Howe's Cave, an actual town in upstate NY

Posted on 2015.06.28 at 09:44
Current Location: Elmira, NY
Every time I visit Howe Caverns, it's bigger. The first time, many years ago, it was just the cave, through which one type of tour was available, plus the café and the gift shop. Now there are four different kinds of tour including an Adventure Tour that involves crawling through some tiny opening to get into parts of the cave that haven't been seen by tourists in more than a century. That one requires a reservation 48 hours in advance, which I am definitely not organized enough to give these days, even if I were feeling up to it, which I'm not. I also passed on the ropes course, the zipline, the mock mining experience (which is for kids, anyway), the H20GO Balls (whatever that is) and the climbing wall. I did take a thorough walk around all three retail establishments: the original gift shop, the rock shop (same as the gift shop but with the tee shirts and plushie bats replaced by fancy minerals and fossils) and the sweet shop (candies, fudge and, for some reason, cave-aged cheese). Managed to limit myself to a single purchase: a geode with some, uh, suggestive shapes that seemed appropriate for the traveling Shiva shrine I'm planning.

I also took the standard tour. First, a showing of a rather lame 5-minute video telling the history of Lester Howe's discovery (after the natives's knowledge of the cave had been lost when they were forced off their land, though this wasn't mentioned) and initial development of the cave into a tourist attraction. Next, the 156-foot elevator ride down to the cave itself. Then a gentle stroll, led by a tour guide who stops us every once in a while to point out things and tell their stories. It's a limestone cavern, long and narrow like an intestine. The formations are pretty modest in size. There's none of the grandeur of some of the famous caves in the South and Southwest. Also, this being a family-oriented tour, the guide did not point out the, ah, labial or phallic shapes of some of the formations. The most interesting thing was the formation known as the Pipe Organ that has a niche you can stand in. If you make sound while standing in that niche, the formation amplifies your voice and makes it sound like it's coming from somewhere completely other than where you are.

At the end of the stroll was a boat ride, of which I remember very little. Then we walked back, taking a couple of detours we'd passed up on the way down. It was somewhere along that return journey, hunched up against the chill (after three 90 degree days, the constant 53 of the cave was pretty chilly) that I realized: I'm bored with Howe Cavern. If I'm in good enough shape when I come back to do that Adventure Tour, and if I'm coming back the same way, then I'll visit this little tourist trap again. Otherwise, no.

Wild food in Western Mass

Posted on 2015.06.25 at 17:15
Current Location: Albany, NY

My departure was not exactly instantaneous. After moving out of my Hubbardston apartment, I was at my brother's for a few days. Then I returned to Hubbardston for the rainiest Summer Solstice ritual I've ever participated in. In spite of the wet, there was good cheer all around, and the potluck meal afterward was moved to the little place where Moose is housesitting while doing improvements. The place is for sale; a 19th-century one-bedroom house on, I think, 2/3 of an acre, edibly landscaped and with three outbuildings that probably add up to more floor space than the house itself. I know this because I stayed there three nights while I corrected some mistaken decisions regarding what to get rid of, what to put in storage and what to take with me. Slept in the car; used the house's bathroom, kitchen and wifi.

During this time, I ran out of my digestive aids. My guts insistently reminded me that I have good reason for taking that stuff. So when I finally rolled away, I headed out on Route 2 by way of Greenfield, figuring I'd stop in at the food co-op there and buy more.

Well, the Greenfield co-op only had one of the two. The only place I could think of that had the other was River Valley Market in Northampton. Now, one of my strategies for this trip is to keep a few things that need refrigeration in a small cooler with something frozen, something that I knew I would want to eat or drink when it thawed, changing it out three or four times a day. From Hubbardston, I took a half-pint of beef stock, made and frozen by me some weeks ago. I gave a whole stack of those to Moose, then he gave me free run of his freezer including those things I'd given him, so I took one back. By the time I got to Noho, it was thawed, so I bought, along with my digestive and a coconut water, a pound of frozen ground elk meat, which I figured I'duse to keep the cooler cool and then eat the next day in upstate New York.

Almost as soon as I was out the door with my purchases, the impulse struck me: call Felix.  I've mentioned him before. Felix the Bison Guy. The Road Kill Kid. Now teaching a course in wild local foods at Umass Amherst and leading nature walks with elementary school students. He has moved out of Northampton, up to Turner's Falls, which, ironically, I had passed through a couple of hours ago. After telling me all this on the phone, he said “Let's see. Do I have any errands in that area that I could do this afternoon? Yeah. How'd you like to pick cherries in Florence?”

We spent the afternoon, in lovely weather, doing what Felix does best: harvesting wild food, literally from the edges of city streets. First there was this cherry tree he'd been told about. We parked under it and climbed up on the roof of his car, pulling the branches down and picking wild cherries, a little smaller and less sweet than commercial cherries, but paying in adventurousness made them entirely worthwhile. Then we made a side trip for white mulberries and black cap raspberries (not many; the area was at the entrance to a public park and very picked over) and then on to the juneberries at the First Congregational Churches downtown. I'd never had juneberries before, so he told me to never mind collecting, just concentrate on eating while he harvested, told me all about the species, speculated with me about why no commercial market for this delicious little fruit had ever developed, and proselytized passers-by, trying to get everybody he saw to try them. We had probably a gallon of mixed fruit by the time we drove off to his house, where I offered, in appreciation to him for letting me stay on his couch, the beef stock and the ground elk.

Felix lives in a modest 19th century neighborhood on an island in the Connecticut river, on the 2nd floor of a duplex where about 90% of the back yard is a garden, with food crops, medicinals and ornamentals all jumbled together. There's also a small chicken yard with, I think, six or seven hens. We had an awesome dinner and an awesome breakfast. It was amazingly quiet first thing in the morning, and his housemates were very agreeable. I drove away contented.

After a stop at the public library to get my email and a little time at the nearby mall doing a tiny bit of shopping, I got on Route 2. I'm writing this at Mohawk Trail State Forest, where I have stopped for lunch, and will probably post it this evening in the Troy area.

On the Road Again

Posted on 2015.06.22 at 06:45
Current Location: Hubbardston, MA
Decided to start keeping this journal again because, well, it was originally a travel journal and I am now officially on the road again. For my health.

It all started when I saw a new doctor a couple of months back, who diagnosed me as having an allergic reation to mold in my building. I knew there was mold, because of the leak in the toilet which has caused the basement subfloor to swell up so that tiles were popping off the floor. The landlord said he was too broke to fix it.  So I started taking antihistamines, which only help at night because they knock me out. But I didn't do the obvious thing and move out because I suffer from inertia caused by aches and pains and episodes of fatigue which in turn are caused, if this doctor is right, by the mold. Then a friend told me that there are actual mold tests you can buy in a hardware store. I bought three. Used one in the bathroom, one in the kitchen and one outdoors, not right by the building but at Cauldron Farm, a couple of miles away. Results: mold in all three places. I may be allergic to central Massachusetts.

I'd been feeling some wanderlust, anyway, and the first thing that occurred to me was to spend some serious time in the kind of hot, dry place that mold hates.  My first thought, just popped into my head, was Sedona, Arizona, which surprised me. I spend a few hours in Sedona once. It was beautiful, but not more beautiful than a lot of places in the West. I found that it didn't live up to its hype. So I started looking into other possibilities in the Southwest. A website listing food co-ops was helpful. A critical mass of people like me, members of my kind of counterculture, is necessary to support a food co-op, so I wouldn't have to worry about ending up surrounded by junk food eating, golf playing Republicans or something. Oddly, Sedona for all its countercultural reputation, doesn't have one.

I sent a list of possibilities to a friend who reads runes, the Anglo-Saxon runes rather than the better-known Norse.

Now, for some reason, LJ is completely unwilling to display the text of the reading, which I tried to cut and paste from her email, so I'm going to summarize.

1: general reading on the trip as a whole:
- Laeg, water, go with the flow but also, the Southwest, for all its famous dryness, does get flooding sometimes, so be conscious of that when looking for housing.
- Neith, need-fire, as in, I need to do this.
- Rad, the road.
- Cweorth, the funeral pyre, complete destruction. Wipe out the past and start over.
- Othel, inheritance, my money will go further there.

2. The towns:
Sedona: Sigil, the sun -- a generally good omen for healthy living
Bisbee: Neith, necessity or need-fire -- something else will be needed for me to live there.
Tempe: Daeg, daybreak -- expect transformation and reversal of fortune (not necessarily bad)
Tucson: Ken, truth, aslo a forge or being forged -- may involve a lot of work
Taos/Tres Piedras area: Ac, oak, endurance -- that may be what it takes to live there.
Dixon: Ing, sacrifice -- as in, I'll probably have to make one in order to live there.
Albuquerque: Jer, a year or a cycle of time -- now is not the right time, maybe later.
Las Cruces: Gar, the Gods have spoken, stop asking.

Sedona it is.

My birthday arrived. My brother and his wife gave me a guidebook to the Southwest, which enticed me with visions of amazing rock formations, ancient ruins and authentic Mexican food. A friend who had recently been through the area had some recommendations, including one that, while fairly well known, isn't in the guidebook. I gave notice to my landlord of a June 15th departure date, renting the attic of his garage, on the same property, as storage so that most of the move-out required no truck. It just required a lot of carrying stuff up and down stairs. I spent another few days with the family, then came back to Hubbardston for the Solistice ritual on the 21st. I'm now staying with a friend, and I expect to be headed off in another couple of days.

This is a long project, but worth it.

First, you need to get hold of a very short book called A Cooperative Method of Natural Birth Control and use its technique for a few months to get a sense of when you are ovulating. At the same time, line up a source of medicinal herbs, and I mean the whole, loose dried herbs, not tinctures or tea in bags. And get at least one pint Mason jar with a good tight-fitting lid.

When you feel like you've got a pretty good handle on your ovulatory cycle, buy six pounds of dried, whole red raspberry leaf. This is a very light, fluffy herb; six pounds will be a lot. On the evening of the first day of ovulation, measure out an ounce of the red raspberry leaf, enough to fill your pint Mason jar about two thirds to three quarters full. Boil water. Pour the boiling water over the herb until the jar is full. It will bubble for a few seconds and the water level will go down some. Pour on more water, filling it again. Let it bubble. Keep doing this until the jar stays full, then cover it tightly and leave it overnight. In the morning, strain it out. You'll only get about a cup of a very strong, dark infusion. Drink it. Do this every night/morning until your period comes. Then stop. Start again the next time you ovulate. Drink the red raspberry leaf infusion daily from ovulation to menstruation for six months and you should be cramp-free for several years.

Weirdness in Traffic

Posted on 2014.07.11 at 22:10
Another entry for the "weird stuff" category.

Yesterday I was driving through a small, picturesque New England town, on its Main Street which is also part of a numbered state route, so it gets a fair amount of traffic. Two lanes each way. Traffic was moderate. About a block ahead of me, a white van with the name of some business or other on the back was stopped in the left lane. It wasn't signalling for a turn, but Massachusetts drivers often don't, so I still figured it was waiting to turn left. I moved to pass it on the right, a maneuver which is also common around here.

To my right, a couple of car lengths past the van, was a blond woman on a bicycle. She had the Serious Cyclist look, tight clothes, helmet, etc., and she was standing still with one foot on the curb, her body and bike facing me but her head turned back behind her, so she was looking in the direction I was going. Waiting for someone to catch up? I didn't worry about it. Figured she'd stay there. Then, just as I was passing the van, she pulled out into the street, directly in my path, without even looking. Read more...Collapse )

An Evil I Hadn't Even Thought Of

Posted on 2014.06.05 at 10:43
Every once in a while, looking around on extremist websites, I run across something that ought to be a scandal in the mainstream news. Like this issue, which I had not heard of but really feel I should have. I feel everyone should.

The issue is this: while adults trying to adopt children have to go through all kinds of background checks, adults using sperm donation, egg donation and/or surrogacy to have kids face almost no background checks at all. There have already been two cases, one in Israel and one in Australia, of pedophiles getting kids by hiring surrogates to produce them.

Now, the website on which I read about these cases is a Catholic family-values one which argues that sperm donation, egg donation and surrogacy ought to be illegal as part of a larger stance that children belong with their biological parents unless those parents are "incompetent, desperate, or even disturbed." They're also opposed to any birth control other than abstinence, even in marriage, and to any sex that is not both marital and potentially baby-making. Disturbing stuff.

However, they have a very good point when they say that the means of babymaking should not be for sale to whoever can afford them. Not only does it leave a door open for abusers to get kids, it's also a kind of a back door way of turning children into property. There needs to be a scandal about this. So here's a stone.  I'm gonna roll it down the mountainside and hope for an avalanche.


Fibro and plans

Posted on 2014.05.27 at 08:07
I'm seeing an osteopath. She's doing a manipulation on my neck every month or so, having me do neck stretches in the meantime, and she has some interesting advice. I told her about the problem I have with exercise, which is that the initial muscle soreness, which in a healthy person would be gone in a few days to a week, just gets worse and worse until, around week three or four, I'm so sore that I just quit exercising.

She guessed that it might be fibromyalgia. I told her I thought fibro improved with exercise. She said "Some fibro."

So then I asked her what determines a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. She said "It's a diagnosis of exclusion." In other words, there's no blood test or distinctive symptom. This is the miscellaneous category of fatigue diseases. Which means it might actually be two diseases, or three, or twenty.

Then she said that what really helps fibro is good sleep.

So what does good sleep require? The usual checklist involves a comfy surface, adequate blanketage, dark, quiet and fresh air. The first two I've got. Of the others, dark and quiet seem to call for a tightly closed window, which forestalls fresh air.

Engineering to the rescue.

Once I got a tour of a photographers' darkroom that had no door. Instead, it had a maze of black-painted walls that excluded light while allowing air to move freely in and out. This darkroom had a lot less chemical stink than they usually do. So I can build a maze around my bedroom window that will exclude light while allowing the free flow of air.

Sound is a little more complicated. Sound is literally vibrations in the air. How to let air in while keeping sound out?

Well, the air is coming in through a maze. That means the sound has to bounce. If I make the walls of the maze soft and irregular by covering them with fleece or Egg Crate or something, it won't bounce so well as it does off hard surfaces. That's why soft fuzzy materials are said to muffle sound.

There's also the little matter of sound coming in directly through the walls. To block those, the optimal thing is sheer mass. So I should make the walls of my maze out of cement board or some similarly dense, heavy material and cover the outside wall of my bedroom with similar material.

For a finishing touch, I can add a small electric fan, both to improve air circulation and to provide white noise. I already own two suitable fans.

I must also be sure to make my maze easy to clean. I should not have to move the bed in order to vacuum inside it. It might also be a good idea to add screening to keep bugs out of it, particularly web-spinners such as spiders and moths.

So now I have a materials list: cement board, screen, dark-colored fleece, plus some lumber and nails for a support structure. I need to draw up a design and then I have some measuring to do.

Review on the Implications of Biotech

Posted on 2014.05.19 at 12:42
Wandering around the Web this morning at breakfast, I came across this essay: Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls by Leon R. Kass. It's a transcript of a long speech about the ethics of using biotechnology to improve ourselves. He raises a lot of valuable points about, for instance, the unexpected side effects of the biotechnical manipulation we already do, such as the increased risk of early-onset Parkinson's disease for athletes who take performance-enhancing steroids. How many more surprises like that are in store for us as we fiddle more and more with our own biology? He brings up the inequality issue, the likelihood that such improvements will be expensive and therefore privileges for the rich "in a world in which the basic health needs of millions go unaddressed," although he doesn't tackle the likelihood that these privileges will also be advantages that enable the children of the rich to outperform the rest of us and thus to stay at the top of society, reducing opportunity and crushing hopes of upward mobility. He is even bold enough to dig into the possible use of these technologies in the hands of despots, whether at the heads of nations or families.

He also points out some possible disturbing effects on our personal lives.

Not all activities of life are competitive: it would matter to me if she says she loves me only because she is high on "erotogenin," a new brain-stimulant that mimics perfectly the feeling of falling in love.

He also wonders whether a new generation of calming drugs, fed to a new generation of children to get them to behave in the classroom, will calm us to the point of eliminating ambition and, thus, achievement, making everybody content with being good little cogs in the machinery of society. I think he's missing a chance to move from the particular to the general when it comes to emotion-manipulating drugs, to point out that emotions are a kind of perception. Our feelings tell us things about the world; emotional dysfunction is defined by the fact that it's inappropriate to the situation, and blunting our feelings will put us in a kind of danger similar to that of the rare children born without the ability to feel pain, who often die young because they aren't motivated to protect themselves from injury.

Still, I was pretty much on board with him -- until I came to this:

What would the relations between the generations be like if there never came a point at which a son surpassed his father in strength or vigor? What incentive would there be for the old to make way for the young, if the old slowed down little and had no reason to think of retiring -- if Michael could play until he were not forty but eighty? Might not even a moderate prolongation of life span with vigor lead to a prolongation in the young of functional immaturity -- of the sort that has arguably already accompanied the great increase in average life expectancy experienced in the past century? One cannot think of enhancing the vitality of the old without retarding the maturation of the young.

Coincidence is not causation, Mr. Kass. Physically, we are maturing younger and younger; sons grow taller than their fathers and daughters reach puberty earlier than their mothers. It's an effect of better health, just like our lengthening lifespans. The people who produce intelligence tests have to keep recalibrating the IQ scoring system because the raw scores keep rising about three points per decade; this has been so for the last hundred years. The young could be achieving more and more at younger and younger ages. They are held back by a society that seems determined to extend the conditions of childhood (i.e., economic dependence and full time schooling) all the way out to the beginnings of grey hair and crow's feet. At the same time, the news is full of stories about how jobs are getting fewer and fewer, Peak Oil and global climate change are gonna deep six the whole economic system and it's no longer unusual for ordinary people with family responsibilities to get the financial rug pulled out from under them by the creative-destructive thrashings of the free market. So it's not terribly surprising that large numbers of young people just give up, adopting an "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die," attitude. It has nothing to do with lengthening lifespans. It's about lack of hope.

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