Global Skywatch

crusty old brains

With few exceptions, muffler bearing wrenches and lumber stretchers come to mind, tools have both suitable and unsuitable applications. As one saying goes, “If your only tool is a hammer, every job looks like a nail”. The converse of that is even more common where the wrench or whatever else is at hand becomes the hammer you need at the moment.

The typical seventy-year-old brain is like that, another tool with good and poor uses. While there are significant variations, the old guys have seen a lot of successes and failures, learning from most of them what works in the long run contrasted with what definitely does not. On the other hand, our minds and bodies are more brittle.

That too is both good and bad. While we may struggle to jam new information in, we don’t have mushy brains that will fall for “the latest thing”. With rare exceptions, the *NEW WAY* has already been tried without success – or it would be the current way. We remember what we learned from the first time we saw it.

I am currently studying for the highest level amateur radio license test. It is approximately equivalent to a college semester in electronics or similar sceintific discipline. I have to jealously defend the portion of my brain that absorbs new technological information. That channel is clearly running near maximum flow. I WILL pass the Amateur Extra exam on May 25th. It would be easier were I younger, and likely impossible some years hence.

On the other hand, I am simultaneously helping a fresh crop of amateur radio candidates understand the subject and prepare for their first-level ham license exams. That is the best and highest use of the older brains: Passing on our experience, knowledge and understanding.

This all comes to mind from an article sent to me this morning. A Washington Post writer is analyzing the crop of old guys moving into position to run for President of these United States. I have to agree with his analysis. Check the clip I post. Go to the linked article. It is hard to refute.

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Can a president be too old?

Research says septuagenarians can struggle with new tasks. That’s bad news for several 2020 candidates.

For people in their mid-70s such as myself, the 2020 presidential campaign is an oddly personal experience. Among the front-runners for the Democratic and Republican nominations are two men our age (Joe Biden, 76, and Bernie Sanders, 77) and another just a few years behind us: Donald Trump, 72, the oldest man ever elected president. If Trump had lost in 2016, Hillary Clinton, at 69, would have been the second-oldest person ever elected.

Is this okay? Can politicians our age be effective presidents? It’s a question that can provoke strong, often pained reactions from my contemporaries. Any one person’s answer reflects their sense of what it takes to be president and what it means to be in your 70s. In my own case — healthy, active, marbles still present but unmistakably 76 — this does not seem like a good stage of life to take on such a huge challenge. I have less energy and less stamina than I did 25 years ago. I find concentration more difficult and naps more necessary. Learning a new subject is much harder than it used to be.

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With few exceptions presidents have been puppets to higher masters, and I don’t mean people of the countries they rule. Doing as they are told while presenting a decent public image via a captive press is not all that tricky – it is just an acting gig and there are plenty of old actors.

Nevertheless, we occasionally trip over one who resists some of the uglier demands of the deep state. I think we have one such man in the office today, but the question posed here is for how much longer will his mind be agile enough to select good options from the offerings in front of him?

A better question is, “Why do we not get to choose among the 45-55 year olds?”

If you let yourself think about that one a bit, an obvious conclusion is that their mental agility and youthful courage could pose a threat to the powers behind the throne.