The world is getting very old. It is graying and wrinkling and fraying at the edges. Its voice is growing hoarse and it is finding it harder to tie its shoes.

 

There’s never been a time when so many people have been so old. Throughout the developed world, there are now more elderly than children. The details vary but go roughly like this: The number of people who are 60 and older is set to triple in the next 40 years. By 2050, there will be more people aged 65 and older than children under 14 for the first time in history. By 2150, one in three people will be over 65. In developed countries, aging is coming sooner than that. By 2050, half of the people in Spain will be 55 or older. In England, there are… More…

 

Every once in a while you get an epiphany. Something you’ve been meaning to say for a long time jumps, crystal clear, to the front of your brain. You’ve always known it, but you’ve never been able to say it.

This happened to me while reading an essay by Sasha Frere-Jones about Lady Gaga. Frere-Jones opens the piece with the following thought:

Dedicated fans of popular music have a certain conversation at least once a year. Call it The Question of Endurance. You and your friends are talking about music, and the conversation turns to a popular band. You express support. A friend voices her opinion, maybe as favorable as yours, but appends a qualifier: “I like them, but will they be around in 10 years?” You may feel compelled to defend whomever it is you’re talking about,… More…

The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is dotted with prehistoric stone ruins called nuraghi. Little is known about the nuraghi, or the ancient people who built them, except that they predate the earliest invaders to Sardinia, the Phoenicians, who arrived here about 9,000 years ago.

I passed a number of nuraghi as I drove up into the island’s interior through mountains of limestone and granite, on a terrifying road, into a region called the Ogliastra. It’s never been an easy ramble into Sardinia’s mountains. Neither the Phoenicians nor any of other invaders who came to Sardinia later — Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Carthaginians, Arabs, Genoese, Catalans — were ever able to the penetrate them. The villages of Ogliastra have had very little contact with the outside world since about the 11th century. Even now, the region is considered by many to be a wild, dangerous place and travelers like me are regularly… More…