Stef (firecat) wrote,

Spoiling the joke

David Brooks, attempting to be humorous, opines the following at the New York Times: "Living Longer Is the Best Revenge" (registration required - may be able to help). And I'm here to ruthlessly nitpick it.

The release of a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that overweight people actually live longer than normal-weight people represents an important moment in the history of world civilization.

The history of world civilization? Try the history of Western civilization over the last 100 years or so. Prior to that and elsewhere, most people don't believe that what the US government considers to be a "normal weight" is necessarily the healthiest weight.

Mother Nature, we now know, is a saucy wench, who likes to play cosmic tricks on humanity.

Do you mean, like the cosmic trick of the fact that the Earth isn't at the center of the universe? Because the notion that people with a few pounds more than other people might have a chance of living a little longer doesn't exactly strike me as "cosmic."

health-conscious people can hit a point of negative returns, so the more fit they are, the quicker they kick the bucket. People who work out, eat responsibly and deserve to live are more likely to be culled by the Thin Reaper.

Er, try "the US government and health insurance companies and doctors have for years been mistaken about what is the 'healthiest' way of living and the most 'responsible' way of eating." And, amazingly enough, bodies don't necessarily pay that much attention to social moral judgements such as these people "deserve to live" longer than those people.

I've been happy because as a member of the community of low-center-of-gravity Americans, I find that a lifetime of irresponsible behavior has been unjustly rewarded.

A lifetime of behavior that your society told you was "irresponsible" but your body went ahead with anyway because it knew the right way to nourish itself has turned out to put you in the cohort of people who statistically live the longest. Or in other words, your body is smarter than you are, you stupid jerk. Which shouldn't actually be a cause for embarrassment - the instincts that cause living beings to take in nourishment are a heck of a lot older and better refined than the consciousness than causes humans to feel like they know better than what their bodies tell them.

I like to be reminded that the universe is basically crooked. ... In reality, life is perverse and human beings don't get what they deserve.

Humans make up notions of "deserve" that have nothing to do with reality. Which doesn't mean reality is "perverse." It means humans are mistaken.

Mother Nature is happy to tolerate marginally irresponsible misbehavior. She doesn't want you to go completely to seed. If you're truly obese and arouse hippos when you visit the zoo, you could still punch your ticket at any moment.

Ah, thank goodness "Mother Nature" still has a modicum of human decency.

Darwin was wrong when he talked about the survival of the fittest: it's really the survival of the healthy enough to get by.

Darwin never used the phrase "survival of the fittest," as any good geek will tell you. (But you're right anyway. On this, at least.)

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