Old and Wise? Stones older than Supreme Court

December 8, 2012

Some wag at Associated Press noticed recently that the Rolling Stones’ average age puts them older than the U.S. Supreme Court.  (Did some one notice this before AP?)  Franklin Roosevelt criticized the Court as “nine old men.”  Women have improved the Court, but age sometimes makes us wonder, still, if new ideas wouldn’t help.

Rolling Stones in 2012, 50th anniversary

Left to right, Charlie Watts, Keith Richard, Ron Wood and Mick Jagger; Bill Wyman absent from this photo; Rolling Stones, 50th Anniversary Tour 2012 – Samir Hussein photo WireImage, via Rolling Stone magazine. Other than no ties, they dress not-too flamboyantly.

Maybe we should wonder about increasing the wisdom that comes with age:

Rolling Stones:

Mick Jagger, 69

Keith Richards, 68

Charlie Watts, 71

Ronnie Wood, 65

Bill Wyman (rejoining them on tour), 76

Average age:  69.8 years (calculated from whole years only)

U.S. Supreme Court:

Antonin Scalia, 76

Anthony Kennedy, 76

Clarence Thomas, 64

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79

Stephen Breyer, 74

John G. Roberts, 57

Samuel A. Alito, Jr., 62

Sonia Sotomayor, 58

Elena Kagan, 52

Average age:  68.4 years

U.S. Supreme Court, Roberts Court 2010 – Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Wikimedia image. This bunch wears less colorful, but sillier costumes. Justice Ginsburg tends to favor neckwear the same way Keith Richards does; what else might they have in common?

A wise-beyond-his-teen-years camper at Camp Rising Sun of the Louis August Jonas Foundation, in the 1960s or early 1970s, observed, “You cannot be both young and brave, and old and wise.”  Certainly one would hope to achieve the happier medium of brave and wise (not necessarily in that order), but humans being who we are and experience being the master teacher that it is, we find ourselves on one end of both spectra, either wizened in age, or brave perhaps because of youth.

The Stones, celebrating their 50th year as a band in 2012, probably rock better than the Court does.  One can’t help wondering whether the wisdom of the Stones wouldn’t serve us better than that of the current court.  Ironically, those most wise at the Court tend to be the younger ones (Breyer definitely excluded).  I’d be inclined to swap out Alito and Scalia  for any two of the Stones.  Maybe Roberts for a third.

Thomas?  Well, he’s almost a contemporary, and I had lunch with him a couple of times (Senate staff).  I hate to criticize a lunch companion so.  But comparing Jagger’s record at the London School of Economics with Thomas’s record in academia, yeah, I could be persuaded.  I dealt with Breyer, too (not at lunch), and am inclined to think he could rock pretty well.

Perhaps the answer is that we need more rock and roll in the halls of justice.  Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen, among others, would probably agree.

If both groups banned the use of hair dye, would it improve anything they do?

Which bunch would you rather have dispensing final decisions on justice?  Which bunch would you prefer to see in concert?

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Vote for Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest winning photographs

July 18, 2012

It’s the annual competition EPA sponsors for younger people and older people, the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest.   Contest officials want you to participate and vote on the photos, to help select the winners:

Wade In And Cast Your Vote For The 2012 Winners Of The Rachel Carson Sense Of Water Contest

2012 July 18
By Kathy Sykes

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson from “The Sea Around Us

For the past six years, I have had the privilege of overseeing the Rachel Carson Sense of  Wonder contest. The purpose is to create artistic expressions through photography, poetry, essays and dance that capture the sense and appreciation of the environment. This year’s contest focused on water in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Teams of young persons and older have expressed appreciation for water through extraordinary and precious expressions of art. From raindrops on a blade of grass, to a gentle rain in a forest, to waves in the ocean as far as the eye can see, we see, taste and feel water.

I have been heartened to receive messages from grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, teachers and students, and nature lovers of all ages, who appreciate the teaching of Rachel Carson.

Andre Gide, a French Nobel laureate for literature wrote, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Many of our teams did just that, discovering and exploring water and nature with a new sense of wonder. And just as the pleasing as Handel’s water music was for King George, I too have been thrilled by the notes from participants:

  • “thanks for giving this opportunity to kids to rethink about environment and nature”
  • “we had a great time completing this contest.”
  • “such a wonderful project!!!”
  • “when will EPA announce the 2013 contest and what will the theme be?”

Our judges were also impressed by the imaginative entries from teams that worked across generations to discover and enjoy the beauty of water. It was a quite a challenge for them to select finalists from so many lovely works. Now it is your chance to help us select the 2012 winners of the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest here.

About the Author: Kathy Sykes is a Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability in the Office or Research and Development at the U.S. EPA.  She grew up in Madison, WI and has been working at the U.S. EPA since 1998. She believes the arts can serve as an environmental educational tool and foster appreciation and protection for the natural world.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

It’s  worthy and fun enterprise — and some of the photographs will make you gasp, and some may bring tears to your eyes.  Go see, and vote for the winners.

English: Rachel Carson Conducts Marine Biology...

Rachel Carson conducts marine biology research with USFWS colleague Bob Hines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Meow Meow, 19

December 27, 2008

Meow, reminding her humans that paying attention to the cat is always more important than reading Dilbert - June 24, 2008

Meow, reminding her humans that paying attention to the cat is always more important than reading Dilbert - June 24, 2008 (photo copyright 2008, Ed Darrell)

It was a dark and stormy night.  A meow rang out.

That’s how she came to adopt us.  Kay Lawrence was out walking, before the storm blew in.  The wind was picking up.  50 yards from home, she found a sad scene:  A kitten dead on the pavement.  Kay got a bag to hold the body.  As she was scooping it off the road, she heard a loud meowing from the bushes.

It was the sister of the dead kitten, probably.  Alone in any case.  Kay knew that Kathryn had studied how to save kittens, and having a large golden retriever, she thought better of taking the kitten to her own home.

With the first flashes of lightning, before the rain, there was Kay Lawrence at our door holding a remarkably flea-ridden kitten, wide-eyed and making enough noise for a litter of 12.

“We’ll find a good home for her,” Kathryn said as Kay dashed back home before the rain.  I suspected the kitten had already found that home, though Kathryn was still at least mildly allergic to cats.*

That was more than 19 years ago.

We learned from Meow that cats show joy with their tails, express love by blinking, and that each one has a different personality.  Some cats can ignore catnip, for example.   She liked to join us in reading newspapers — or perhaps more accurately, she liked to prevent us from reading newspapers, telling us that paying attention to a cat was a better use of time.

Meow would occasionally become seriously agitated when a peanut butter jar was opened, making a ruckus until she got a half-teaspoonful of the stuff for herself.  She wasn’t concerned at how silly a cat looks trying to get peanut butter off the roof of her mouth.

Meow left us this morning. For the past couple of weeks her eyesight was failing much faster — she had cataracts.  For a week she bravely tried to learn how to navigate the house blind, mastering a lot very quickly.

Something else happened, though.  One veterinarian said it was brain — stroke?  Tumor?  We don’t know.  For much of the last week she was walking circles through the house, sometimes bumping into things, sometimes walking over things she shouldn’t.  And in the last couple of days, the circles she walked grew smaller.  She’d circle until she couldn’t, then collapse in the middle of the floor and sleep.

On the way to the vet this morning, the clouds rolled in.  It grew dark.  Lightning flashed, and the rain came furiously.  It was a dark and stormy morning, very similar to the night she found us.  Meow passed very quickly.  The clouds disappeared, and the sun shines.

Down at the end of the path past the big live oak, Meow now rests with others in our departed menagerie, Maggie and Rufus the dogs, Sweetie the rat, and Katie, the other brave, one-eyed road kitten (from a different, later rescue).

We miss her. We started the year with two dogs and three cats.  Now we’re down to one cat, with the two dogs.  It’s a lot quieter.

Meow, winking for the camera, 2008 - photo copyright 2008, Ed Darrell

Meow, winking for the camera, 2008 - photo copyright 2008, Ed Darrell

*  A book we had Natural Cat, had a recipe for a food supplement for cats which, the author claimed, would alter the cat dander so it would not trigger allergic reactions.  What can I say?  It worked like a charm.  We stopped feeding the supplement to the cats 15 years ago.  Kathryn’s allergic  reaction, to our cats, has not returned.


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