Monday, January 26, 2009

How do they *do* that?

I loved this quote from this news story:

In addition, Japan's population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world.


byron smith said...

By not having babies and living a long time.

Benjamin Ady said...

Byron--yes of course--but you see the funny, don't you?

The writer is using the word "aging" to indicate a particular thing. But the more *general* use of the word makes the sentence sound it means that Japan is ...caught in some zone where time itself passes more quickly. So that between 1/1/08 and 1/1/09, for instance, other populations aged one year, while Japan's population ages ... 2 years? 5 years? This made me grin.

byron smith said...

But I like explaining the mechanics of jokes until they are no longer funny. It makes the world less threatening.


Benjamin Ady said...


God--one loses a lot without facial expression and voice tone.

I feel like an idiot now. I'm gently grinning when I say that.

byron smith said...

My fault. I should have put a smiley on the first post. :-)

Joe said...

I wonder if it is actually true that some people 'age' more quickly than others. It is a common phrase that stress has made individuals 'old before their time', but I wonder if objectively it is possible to measure whether certain populations age 'better' than others.

Without wanting to sound like a racist, to me certain nationalities seem to age very quickly. I wonder if that is just my western eyes or whether there is any medical evidence. Or maybe it is just a symptom of poor health and diet.

Nath said...

Benjamin, can you please explain your joke again, please?

I love Byron's humor. I would have tormented you the same way had I gotten to it first ;-)

Drives Russell completely nuts.

Would like to hear some more specifics from Joe though... Are you talking about scientifically observed agents of aging (such as, sun exposure, smoking...) or?

Benjamin Ady said...


What's fascinating is that theoretically, if you could take the entire population of the planet and set them to moving at nearly the speed of light in relation to Japan, then the Japanese *would* be aging faster--a *lot* faster.

"but I wonder if objectively it is possible to measure whether certain populations age 'better' than others."

Joe--you're going to have to operationalize "age" and "better", and then we *can* measure it. (I know--doh--that's like saying "develop a measuring tape, and then we *can* measure it". ah well.)

I'm definitely aging faster right now than any of you and most people in Japan as well. So there. =)

Joe said...

Well I was thinking of things normally associated with age - the vigilance of arthritis, sagging skin, back problems etc. As I said, this is not a totally worked out theory, just thinking aloud..