Posted by: distributorcap | June 30, 2009

As Old as the Hills

It sure hasn’t been a good week to be a celebrity. We are now up to #7 this week in the the celebrity death pool if you add such C-listers as Gale Storm and Fred Travalena. While Ed McMahon made it to the ripe old age of 86, Farrah, Michael and Billy Mays all died relatively young – at least what we now consider relatively young.

Last March my great Aunt Selma died at the age of 103. When someone turns 100 in this country, there are two things you can look forward to – Willard Scott saying how much you like knitting and card games and a letter from the President of the United States. Aunt Selma loved the Willard mention, but she enjoyed tearing up the letter from George and Laura Bush even more. As she said, Willard was brought to you by Smucker’s. The Bushes are just a bunch of Schmucks.

What may seem like such a huge age to attain – 103, isn’t so huge anymore.

A centenarians is defined as anyone who reaches the age of 100. A supercentenarian is someone who makes it to the age of 110. In 1990 there were 37,300 centenarians in the US. Today, 20 years later, there are 100,000. By 2050 it is estimated there will be about 1,000,000.

And we think health care is expensive now – with this aging population and more people living longer, it is only going to get more expensive. And by 2050, President Not-Jenna Bush will be another in a long list of Republican planet-ravagers, but instead of benefitting corporations, she is killing trees to get those million letters out.

The US has the second highest number of centenarians per million people (after that most hated Republican whipping-nation of France). 100 year olds per 1,000,000:

France – 325
US – 316
Japan – 284
UK – 170
Netherlands – 83
China – 13

While the rate on Japan is pretty high, the hitting 100 rate on the Japanese island of Okinawa is nearly five times that of the mainland. There have been many studies as to why Okinawans have such long lives. Some of the more studied reasons are:

1 – diet heavy on grains, fish, vegetables and lite on meat, dairy
2 – low stress lifestyle
3 – caring community where aging people are taken care of
4 – working to an older age and continued activity
5 – strong sense of purpose

just like the lifestyle of the average American.

Other parts of the world are also famous for long lives, at least in pop culture. From 1975-1978 Dannon Yogurt ran a Clio Award-winning advertising campaign that opened with “In Soviet Georgia, where they eat a lot of yogurt, a lot of people live past 100.” The most famous commercial had a tag line “89-year old Bagrat Topagua. ate two cups. That pleased his mother very much.” Needless to Dannon became a household name, despite the fact they would be hard pressed to actually prove yogurt makes you live longer.

It only has been since the Industrial Revolution that the lifespan of humans has increased so dramatically. The life expectancy in 400 BC was around 30, in Medieval Britain during the 1400’s it was also around 30. With improved medical care, sanitation, safety, etc – the rate of life expectancy has been increasing linearly since 1840. Today the average life expectancy for the entire globe is around 70. For some individual nations:

  • Japan – 82
  • Australia 80
  • Italy -80
  • France – 80
  • USA – 78
  • China – 73
  • Pakistan – 63
  • Zimbabwe – 40
  • Swaziland – 32 (where AIDs has ravaged the populations of Southern Africa)

There have been approximately 400-450 documented supercentenarians. Only one person – Jeanne Calment of France (where else?), is proven to have lived to 120 years. She was born in 1875, gave up smoking in 1992 at age 117 and died at 122 years 164 days in 1997.

The maximum life span for some other animals includes:
Mice – 4
Hares/Rabbits – 12
Dogs – 29
Cats – 36
Horses – 62
Chimpanzees – 76

Some animals do live a very long life.
Tortoise – 190 (giving new meaning to slow and steady wins the race)
Koi – 200 years
Bowhead whale – 200
Quahog clam – 400

The Methuselah PineTree in California is the oldest living organism on earth at 4,800 years, beating out The Barbara Pierce Bush in Houston by a scant 10 years.

We all know actuaries use life expectancy tables to set life insurance rates. Here is one if you happen to be Austrian

So as our leaders argue health care and debate how to let the insurance companies continue to rake in the dollars while the country’s health care system goes down the tube (along with the average life span), keep in mind that in the US, wealthy people live an average of 10 years longer than poor people.

And we wonder why Steve Forbes said today (and I quote) – “I am a Republican, I don’t believe in health care reform.”


  1. Steve Forbes is a stupid ass rich mean spirited mother fucker.Oh where was I…I am sorry between Steve Forbes' bs and laughing about Babs the Impaler and the ancient trees, my comment fell out of my added 51 year old brain.

  2. PS – please try to use a little more respect when speaking of Fred Travelena!

  3. I think I would have adored your aunt Selma.My mom, who died at age 94, used to talk about her grandmother who died at age 103."Smoking killed her," my mother said. "She used to roll her own and one day she cut her tongue licking a cigarette paper. It got infected and killed her."FranIAm, you meant "addled brain," I assume. 😉

  4. I try really hard to tune out Steve Forbes anytime I see him. His face is bad enough, but to listen to his voice is worse..he usually doesn't have anything good to say, and this morning when I saw him on the Joke's show he was being followed by something actually worse..that was America's Mayor.. god I think I just threw up in my mouth typing that.

  5. According to what I am reading here…I am dead. Or, if not, having to read any thing else Steve Forbes has to say will make me wish I were.

  6. Great post, enjoyed reading about the various average ages among countries and got a kick out of the Barbara Bush reference as well! I loved Jeanne Calment. I remember reading about her when she turned 121 and then 122. I remember she was interviewed and the press asked her what she sees her future to be – and she said "Very short." She obviously was still very sharp! And she remembered selling pencils to Vincent Van Gogh when she was a young girl in Arles…imagine!

  7. Someone should ask Steve Forbes whether he is a supported of gay rights given that his daddy like to ride down Christopher St. on a motorcycle with a hot gay man behind him (or was he behind?). Asshole.

  8. Hi Cap;Who wants to live to 100?They don't treat you like a person anymore, they talk to you as if you're a child.Nobody wants to have sex with you.They stick you in some personal care home so you can smack your lips when you stare at the wall.The only time you get visitors is a few days before you die so people (scavengers) come around to tear up your mattress to see how much money you had. 🙂

  9. Ichabod's right … only what he describes generally begins at an earlier age maybe the late 60s, 70 for certain.There is no upside to aging … and if someone says, "there's wisdom", well piss on them because very few people will listen to what someone over 60 has to say.

  10. That picture of Babs just took ten years off of my life, you bastard. 😉

  11. First, I had to stop laughing from your Babs/tree joke. Then I read these great comments, got to Randal's home-run, and spit out all the coffee in my mouth.Will that make me live longer?I hate the idea of getting old, but I sure like living. If only we could stop the aging process–because even at only 44 years old, I already know that aging SUCKS.

  12. Oh, and Steve Forbes is a fucking asshole.

  13. Wowsers! Whatta well written post! I think when I hit 85 I'ma gonna go back dere to dat college….will ya help me writ dem term papers! 😉

  14. i remember those dannon ads. the one that ended with the old guy's mother was brilliant. i think we need to verify babs's real age. i say we saw her in the middle and then count the rings.

  15. Aunt Selma rocked.So, who's the favorite as next celeb to drop?

  16. FIA – stee forbes is an ugly mother fucker – and boring – and not as smart as he thinks he is – whenever he comes on tv, I actually get a good laughFIA – poor fred, no respectKZ – Selma was pretty cool. I wonder if gramma rolled some other stuffAnnette – forbes hates anyone who isn’t rich, the only thing that makes forbes stimulated is rolling in 20s. and yes rudy was up next – I turned the set offJadedj – you are so alive, forbes is brain dead – and very very ugly in so many waysMaui – thanks — babs is not that far away from Jeanne Calment – I wonder if Van gogh cut his ear off with a Jeanne pencilPINY – something tells me steve doesn’t ever talk about daddy – only his moneyIch – I don’t think I would want to be 100 and infirmed. And they can tear my mattress all they want – all the money is going my cat.Bill – I tell you, advertisers (which I am too well aware of) – hate people over 50. Randal – well you will only live to 106 thenDg – babs, you have to hand it to her for still making us laugh. Aging aint fun – wait til you hit 50, but fortunately you don’t have a prostate LOLOk – you are too nice. Of course I will helpNonnie – those ads were good, if only the yogurt kept you alive to 106 – and I love your idea of counting babs rings – her wrinkles would put her at 970 – one year older than MethuselahCreepy – go to and yhou can see their death pool

  17. Truly inspired — very funny on Okinawa vs. US, too ;->Here's to your Aunt Selma. And Karl Malden almost made it! Eli Wallach is trying his best . . . as is my grandmother, Catherine St. Bonnet (yes, French — take that you GOP slumlords!).

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