He Who Dies Last Wins

Old Age: a Beginner’s Guide by Michael Kinsey Book Review

“He who dies with the most toys wins.” Malcolm Forbes

I remember reading Michael Kinsey’s original article on longevity in the New Yorker in 2008. I recently discovered Michael Kinsey had written a book Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide called I listened to the book on Audible.

Competitive Longevity

Michael Kinsey coined the term Competitive Longevity which is the ultimate contest amongst the Baby Boomers. Take the statement “He who dies with the most toys wins”, Michael Kinsey turns that statement on it’s head and says once you are dead the number of toys makes no difference. He and goes on to say the only thing that matters after death is your reputation. How well people think of you after your death is all that matters unless you are a celebrity. Famous people leave something of themselves after they die for the world, but ordinary people have only the thoughts of their friends and family. Malcolm Forbes may have died with the most toys, but he died at 70 in 1990.

DNA Websites

Michael Kinsey failed to consider newer ways to leave stories and photos to future generations using sites like Ancestry. When I was on Ancestry I noticed there were cases of families who had a lot of children and many of died in infancy. Some children were not even given a name. They became things like infant number 1, and infant number 2. Some people had no records created of them and now it appears as if they never existed from the point of view of people who are now alive. I would not blame Michael Kinsey for failing to mention DNA Family websites because they were not fully functional in 2008. Climate Change comes into play because if the Environment is destroyed, and over population creates harsh conditions family heirlooms will be lost in a fight for survival. When human life no longer exists on Earth none of the keepsakes or Wikipedia Articles will mean anything. Good experiences and the happiness a person creates are what matters most.

Parkinson’s Disease

When Michael Kinsey was afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease in 1993 at first he blanked out about it. Then over time he realized how lucky he was that his case was a mild one. He braved soldiered on and took the best possible care of himself. This is likely what caused him to create the idea of Competitive Longevity. As a Boomer he watched other members of his generation become old, enter nursing homes and die. Then he considered changes to his own brain caused by Parkinson’s. He subjected himself to a series of cognitive tests for scientific research. He found he did well on some tests and poorly on others. He lost functioning in areas that he had previously excelled in. This may of had something to do with why he was passed over as an editor of the New Yorker in favor of David Resnick. Under the direction of David Remnick the New Yorker was driven into the ground. Michael Kinsey would have been the superior editor even with Parkinson’s. David Remnick has the uncanny skill of selecting only the least desirable stories and articles for publication in the New Yorker. Under Remnick’s editorship New Yorker fictional stories have no plots and overly long winded articles bore readers into a stupor while at the same time failing to inform them of important details.

Political Dictators

Michael Kinsey noted that many political dictators and in particular Hitler had Parkinson’s. One of the traits of the Parkinson’s Brain is a rigidity of thought and mental inflexibility. It’s easy to see how this follows Hitler’s course of action at the end of the War. Rather then consider that he could surrender he wanted Germany to follow him into the flames. This may have been fine with him, but the German People did not want to die for Hitler’s mistakes. There is room for debate. It can not be proven Hitler did have Parkinson’s, but based on the one hand he held behind his back because it trembled most people believe he had it. Hitler’s trembling may have been caused by a stroke, drug induced brain damage, or something else. Parkinson’s can only be proven by autopsy. Hitler had his flunkies burn his body after he committed suicide.

Mental Rigidity

Brave soldiering helped Michael Kinsey survive into old age in spite the diagnoses of Parkinson’s. An inflexible outlook created perhaps by Parkinson’s could help him stay younger longer. Michael Kinsey discusses how age is only a number, but the mental and physical condition of each person varies giving them new “age” number, such as he’s 20 going on 35. Sticking to a health diet and exercising becomes harder and harder the older one becomes. A rigid outlook of no compromising in terms of diet and exercise could be a value tool for survival in the Longevity Olympics. Quality of life maters not just survival. This is all addressed in the book.

Kinsey. If you don’t have time to read the book you may want the check out the online write up about the book in Psychology Today. I felt genuine warmth in the Audible Narrators Voice. Michael Kinsey only read the introduction due to his medical condition. As always I welcome your comments.

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