Stephen Kahn

Oh, no, no, no, no

In Bad news on October 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm

As we get older, both my wife and I anesthetize ourselves with soundtracks playing constantly in our ears. She listens to audio books. I listen to NPR. We both have portable players and headphones. The headphones wear out and have to be replaced frequently. Expensive ones wear out as quickly as cheap ones, so I buy cheap ones.

I stopped in at the local Radio Shack. The young man — who might have been 20 years in age or might have been 40 years old — now that I am 67 and now that people take care of themselves better — it’s hard for me to tell how old somebody is — helped me find the cheap headphones courteously and efficiently and didn’t try to up-sell me anything. I am not quite sure how the conversation turned to collapse of civilization, but I asked him, “How long do you think civilization will last? For example, do you think it will last to the end of this century?”

“Oh, no, no, no, no!” he answered emphatically but politely. “It will never last that long.”

He seemed intelligent and competent. Perhaps he has a doctorate in physics and is only working as a clerk at Radio Shack because he was laid off at the university. Perhaps that is why he is gloomy about civilization lasting. Perhaps he knows what he is talking about. As my friend Craig, the life-long Boy Scout, would say, and as my friends in the Islands Red Cross would also say, Be Prepared.

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  1. Be prepared. Words to live by, regardless of what state of decline our current civilisation is in.

  2. “I stopped in at the local Radio Shack. The young man — who might have been 20 years in age or might have been 40 years old — now that I am 67 and now that people take care of themselves better — it’s hard for me to tell how old somebody is”

    I have completely LOST the ability, since you have old men wearing caps on backward, and around here, the Bob Jones University students (kids) dress like they are 85. And did you see Bernie Madoff’s wife on 60 Minutes? She looked about 30… unfortunately, all her protestations didn’t quite add up since the botox made her completely unable to move her face. “I didn’t know!” should be accompanied by some tears or crinkling up the face, doncha think? Instead, she was impassive, like she was on Valium AND Botox. ugh. (Consequently, nobody in my living room believed a word of it).

    But yeah, I have no clue how old ANYONE is, and it used to be so easy!

  3. Hello again, Daisy. Are you familiar with Ray Kurzweill? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Kurzweil . He is perhaps the first “science fiction” human being in existence, thinking he can stay alive long enough to merge his consciousness with artificial intelligence. Yeats “The Second Coming” is one of my favorite poems: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

  4. the little “mushroom” earphones have been replaced now by the kind that stick right into your ear canals. earwax buildup is a problem. sign of weakening of the knees of civilization – the denial of earwax?

  5. joem, I appreciate the suggestion. I do have a earwax buildup problem in my ears anyway. I have tried the “stick it in my ear canal” variety and dislike them. I am a bit of a luddite, especially as far as my body goes. I resisted the idea of having contact lens or radial keratotomy for my severe nearsightedness until cataracts forced the issue so I let the doctor slice away at my eyes.

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