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Buy this essay and others in Jim's new book Being Sovereign.

The Indomitus Report

29 November 2004

Being Sovereign

    "In the long run, the only way our runaway debt pyramid will be reduced or eliminated will be through depreciating the dollar. That, in any case, is the overwhelming evidence of history. In the past, whenever nations have accumulated debt burdens beyond their abilities to carry them, they have destroyed the debt by destroying the currency. It would be naïve to think that America will somehow escape this fate. Therefore, the prudent accumulation of gold coins and gold remains a continuing recommendation."
    - Donald J. Hoppe,
    1 March 1984

The Christmas shopping season is officially here. Various cities and shopping plazas have had their post-Thanksgiving lighting ceremonies. Stores are crowded and people are in that sort of festive mood that seems to say, "If we all believe in happy things for a while, maybe the impending catastrophe won't happen."

We shall have the catastrophe. So, now would be a good time to buy some gold and silver coins for your friends and your family members. Remember, the gift of survival keeps on giving.

Sure, you'd expect this topic for discussion under Free Market Money, but it is also appropriate in considering your sovereignty. Being sovereign is delightful and it comes with only one obligation. You are obliged to do what you think is right.

Many days that seems pretty trivial. "It is right," you think, "that I read this book." A bit later on, you suppose, it is right that you watch a little television. Maybe have a nosh. Drink a bit of red wine, it has resveratrol, that's good for you! And what is sherry but a fortified red wine?

But the holiday season, whether it is Christmas, Hannukah, or "Eid wanexen" - excellent Eid as they say in Somali - is about giving gifts. Why give gifts?

We give gifts because we enjoy it. You may have been told that you give gifts because you are expected to do so, or because you are obligated. Nonsense. You give gifts because it is a lot of fun. For one thing, it is an excellent excuse to go shopping, whether online or at stores. For another, it is a way of thinking about friends and family. Who gets the especially nice gifts? Who gets the above average gift? To whom may we be especially nice this year?

Of course it is just as much fun to receive gifts. There is a saying that it is better to give than to receive. It isn't. These are really things like "pro-life" and "pro-choice" which aren't actually opposites. Giving gifts is fun for a whole variety of reasons. Receiving gifts is fun for a whole other set of reasons. These two impulses, to give and to receive, are based on entirely separate sets of premises.

They may even appeal to different parts of the brain. Giving is probably one of those creative intellectual cortical-forebrain kind of operations that stimulates your sense of self-worth, achievement, actualization, and harmony. Receiving, especially since a gift of food is always appropriate, probably appeals to the vast limbic system of your brain, or even your deep inner reptile. You like getting stuff because it satisfies your sense of acquisition and your desire for possessions. These are really primitive ideas, on the scale of marking your turf, but no less satisfying for being primitive.

So, this Yuletide, give the gift of money. Not that paper crap that soon won't be fit for bathroom tissue. The real stuff.

We like Goldfingercoin.com for bullion and coins. We also like the LibertyDollar, and we are working with several sources for bulk purchases in different parts of the country.

When you give a gift of gold or silver coins, you should include a note. Personalize the gift with a card or a note, pointing out that gold and silver will get you through times of no paper money much more readily than paper money would get you through times of no gold or silver. Mention the fact that the value of the dollar is collapsing, so your friends and loved ones won't be left out in the cold.

You could do well to give a gift of GoldMoney or e-Bullion or Pecunix. Give digital gold this season. It is time. It is time to remind your friends and family members that they need to get with the program. If they aren't using digital gold, they aren't part of the solution. And you know, if you aren't part of the solution, you could be part of the precipitate.

You are a sovereign individual. You use free market money, so you have an interest in gold mining. You may or may not be interested in the future of space technology, but you should have an interest in new countries, especially if you take up the permanent traveler model or the five flags model as a lifestyle. Let's face it, the main reason to be interested in space is because it is one of the cool places where you could get to live some day. There will be new countries in space and on other planetary bodies. And you want to live as long and as healthily as possible, so as to see these things. Some say life sucks, but one college chum used to say, "Maybe life sucks, but it has death beat every which way!"

You also want to have your friends and family and loved ones around you. It is a lot more fun if these people are wealthier. In fact, your ability to enjoy all kinds of things is greatly enhanced in a world built around free enterprise concepts, because that world will be much more prosperous. This holiday season, as the dollar plummets to new lows, be thinking about these people. Get them ready for the future.

If it were 1929 and you knew the stock market was about to crash, what would you do? If it were February 1933, and you knew Franklin Roosevelt was about to institute draconian economic controls to the detriment of everyone in the country, what would you do? The temptation to assassinate FDR might seem overwhelming, but you would do far more good to get your friends and family to put their wealth out of harm's way. Switzerland, certainly. Canada, New Zealand, or Australia might have been worth looking into. At that point in time, South Africa might not have been a bad way to bet, at least for a while.

It seems like we're facing a similar situation. And it is not only possible for you to live forever, wealthy, enjoying free-fall hotels, dancing on the Moon. There are people you can point in the right direction. The best revenge is living well, so don't tell people you find dull, tiresome, irritating, aggravating, or, well, frankly, in some cases, evil. There are people who would immensely benefit the gene pool if they were filtered out. Yet, there are people you'd like to see in the future.

Of course, if you've already given so many gold and silver coins, you think you may be wearing out your welcome, a gift subscription to The Indomitus Report might do just as well! At least we can help give these people a sense of what to do, where to go, and how to find help.

Free Market Money

    "An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense - perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire - that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other."
    - Alan Greenspan, "Gold and Economic Freedom", 1966

There is some irony to presenting Greenspan's words from his 1966 essay during a time when he is overseeing one of the largest currency devaluations of all time. However, he makes about as good a case for "the gold standard" in his 1966 essay as has ever been made. And he's wrong.

The very same laissez-faire principles to which Greenspan refers tell us that his conclusion is wrong. Or as Hayek said, previously quoted in these pages, the gold standard is "tolerably safe" as long as the erroneous premise of having the management of money in the hands of government is maintained. But, "it is better to take money completely out of the control of government," and is probably the only way to "save civilization."

We join our friend Doug Casey in not being sanguine about saving this particular civilization. Western civilization as it now exists is certainly corrupt enough, decadent enough, and opposed from without sufficiently that its fall seems inevitable. However, at the same time the edifice of empire is crumbling all about, another civilization has made its presence known.

The height of Western civilization came in 1969. In that year, men first walked upon the Moon, the first supersonic passenger jets began to fly, the premises of Keynesian economics were widespread, and three great superpowers ruled the Earth. That year was the height of success of the Bretton Woods accord, but the cracks in the monetary system were obvious. Also in 1969, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency created a robust, survivable inter-networking protocol for connecting all the military and university computers involved in defense research and operations.

We don't think Hayek meant to save the civilization of brutal centralization, mass genocide, confiscatory taxation, and globe-spanning empires. We suspect, instead, that by the time of his writing in 1976, Hayek perceived this other civilization coming together. Gold ownership in private hands was again permissible. Gold and silver were trading on the free market and were no longer price fixed by governments, so the law identified by Gresham and Aristophanes and codified by von Mises was no longer impeding free market money. Personal computers had been developed by Apple's Jobs and Wozniak, and Gates was beginning to think about operating systems. The power of decentralization was about to be unleashed. The Reagan and Thatcher revolutions would reveal economic prosperity in privatization and free market competition.

Yet the work is not complete. The corrupt and decaying edifice still stands. Tax rates are still too high. Government regulation and control of the economy is not only ubiquitous, but remains popular. And when the dollar fails, as it must, soon, there will be few voices calling for free market money.

Greenspan was right to the extent that he wrote, in one dependent clause, that gold and economic freedom are inseparable. They are. Gold and silver are free market money. Historically, they have always been money. As far back as humans have lived in cities and traded over long distances, we have used gold and silver for money. Like the design of the bicycle, this economic system has arisen and been optimized through years of trial and error. It works, and works very well.

But the gold standard is not free market money. The gold standard is not a step forward. It will be brought up and it may become a focal point of policy discussions. It may, worse yet, be adopted by the USA government as a method of fixing the horrible things that have gone wrong with the dollar since 1913. While the statists would hate it, would oppose it as an alternative to a world currency or some other fiat money scheme, it would be preferable to them than free market money.

Wherever it may be adopted, and whenever, the gold standard is a mistake. It is a compromise that would sell out the opportunity of free market money for whatever segment of the economy is placed under a gold standard. Accept no substitutes. In the market place of ideas, the gold standard is a beat-up used car. It is secondhand goods in cheap repair. Don't be taken in.

What you want for your prosperity and for your posterity is free market money. Free market money is the application of the principles of laissez faire to the issuance and operation of currencies. Some of these currencies already manifest as gold and silver specie. Some are gold and silver backed paper, providing for redemption. Some are online currencies providing for bailment and redemption. And, yes, some free market money will continue to be like the currency system proposed by EC Riegel in his 1946 classic A New Approach to Freedom, which may be best described as private fiat money.

We've seen many of these online and paper currency systems over the years. Yes, there have been OSGold fiascos, and evocash proved to be unworkable after some years. Yet, for all their limitations and difficulties, the worst failures in free market money have not caused one tenth of one percent of the financial losses that the inflation and other manipulations of the money supply by central banks have caused. For true unpleasantness and widespread economic misery, check out the dollar crash of 2005.

Besides, we also know what works. Like the bicycle makers of the 19th Century, we might not know exactly why the front fork has to be curved a particular way to provide for optimal steering, but we observe that a certain curve works best, and we use it. Likewise, free market money that is redeemable for gold and silver is best. It is most stable, it provides for the longest operational history, and we don't need to formulate the economic theory to explain it in order to utilize this fact. Moreover, having an online currency with data servers offshore also seems likely to produce better results.

Laissez-faire money or free market money is simply the application of economic science to money. It is the ultimate battleground for deregulation and decentralization. In many ways, it may become the decisive battlefield between the dying, decaying, and corrupt civilization which peaked in 1969 and the vibrant, growing, free civilization that has arisen to replace it.

The competing oligarchies that have pursued global dominance games using the power of coercive external government are not going to disappear just because the game changes. They will adapt to the new free market approaches. Some will adapt more rapidly, and thrive sooner. But the opportunity also exists for new players to take the field. We should be watchful for our opportunities, and we should be determined to make the transition as productive and as effective as possible.

For old civilizations don't always die gently. Some of those in power won't see the change as necessary nor inevitable nor even desirable, but may oppose change with all the weapons in their arsenals. It seems superfluous to point out that these arsenals contain nuclear, chemical, biological, and other technological weapons which can wipe out major cities, destroy entire populations, and seriously alter the environment. The consequences of nuclear winter may be a global ice age.

Humanity would likely survive, as it has survived the transitions from interglaciations to ice ages past. Some cities would likely survive, though here we use city to describe any population center with more than 2500 people. As the ice caps grow, the sea level should drop, and some very interesting archaeological opportunities will arise when the old shore line is revealed, since people tend to build cities near the sea, and have held to this tendency for perhaps 35,000 years or longer.

You might survive, as well. But your chances are much greater with a higher level of civilization. You benefit from a concentration of medical technology near you; you benefit from a prosperous civilization near you; you live a longer and better life because the cost of food and other necessities is much lower than ever before.

The new civilization of decentralization, freedom, and free market prosperity is going to produce so much more prosperity, you'll frequently be surprised. Again, as Doug Casey says, the future may be better than you can imagine. Nanotechnology, free market prosperity, and access to the bounteous resources of the entire Solar System await.

Going back to a gold standard or some other compromise with the statists is suboptimal. Don't take chances with your future. You are better off with free market money.

Gold Mining

It seems to us that stocks in this sector break down into three broad categories. There are companies that explore for gold. There are companies that own defined gold resources in the ground. There are companies that mine gold. Of course, individual companies may have operations in all three areas, in two areas, or may specialize.

Within the category of exploration there are two groups of interest. Companies that have found gold or whose principals have found gold are of much greater interest than companies which have not. Of companies that have found gold, those which have found more are necessarily better.

The similar principle applies to companies which own defined gold resources in the ground. The companies which have more gold in the ground are better, and the gold in the ground which is better defined (proven and estimated rather than inferred) should be of greater value.

The same principle works for mining companies. There are companies with big mines, which mine a great deal, and there are companies with smaller mines. The companies which have the greater resources to mine and which have the lower cost basis for mining are better.

As end of year tax loss selling is approaching, we intend to suggest three more gold stocks for your portfolio. One would be an exploration company like Freegold. We are currently leaning toward Almaden and Luzon.

One would be a resource holding company, such as Lumina Copper, Silver Standard, or Vista Gold.

The third would be a mining company like Newmont. Of course, there is no company quite like Newmont! Indeed, Newmont has exploration, resource holding, and mining activities.

We plan to make our pix known next week.

Here's how the two stocks we presently suggest in this area look right now:

Company Symbol C$ US$
s
Free Gold ITF 0.39 0.35
+C$0.11
Newmont Mining NEM N/A 48.99
+5.69

We recommend tight trailing stops on both companies, especially Freegold in anticipation of December tax loss selling.

Free Market Money

For a few months, we've been predicting a gold close at $480 or above before the end of the year. Gold closed Friday well above $451. It appears to have met and penetrated minimal overhead resistance at $450. We believe the battle at $480 will be more hard fought.

Silver spent some time Friday morning over $7.75 before closing at $7.68/oz.

The dollar is certainly in trouble. It had closed down five days in a row, very near its 1995 "all-time" low on the dollar index. We're not very keen on the dollar index "basket of currencies" concept. In particular, we have never met anyone who was, on 31 July 2002 or at any other time, inclined to own 57.6% of their money in EU euros, 13.6% of their money in Japanese yen, 11.9% of their money in British pounds sterling, 9.1% of their money in Canadian dollars, 4.2% of their money in Swedish kroner, and 3.6% of their money in Swiss francs. But according to a link we found, that's the dollar index definition. Even so, as a measure of how the dollar is doing, it works. And it is way down there, although it bounced back a bit on Friday.

The two stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH and MCG. PVH is up a tiny bit from .041 gram/share to .043 gram/share. MCG is unchanged.

Space Frontier

Sandy cites factors such as Panama's location, geography, infrastructure, free zone legislation, labor force, and century-long experience with vessel registry and transportation.

He's pursuing the designation of the former Howard Air Force Base facilities as a free zone spaceport for use by private space-related companies. Naturally, Panama has familiarity with free trade zones and their economic benefits.

Sandy is also looking to have Panama create an independent "space authority" that would be conceptually similar to the Canal Authority. The space authority of Panama would operate launch sites and assist space companies in dealing with other government agencies. Special space free zone visas and work permits would allow non-Panamanian personnel to live and work in the zone without undue restrictions. And, of course, vessel registry services would be extended to include private spacecraft.

Here's how things stand for the stock we suggested in this sector:

SpaceDev is at $2.12.

Launch Technology

It seems that the Russian company that builds the Soyuz vehicles and launches them to the space station wants to be paid for their work. How alarmingly capitalistic!

Of course, with the USA space shuttle grounded indefinitely, the Soyuz has been the only way to get humans to the internationalist socialist space station. The current production run of almost a dozen Soyuz spacecraft was started for the 31 October 2000 first crew launch and was part of Russia's contribution to the international agreement among 14 nations involved in the project. The various parties to the agreement each contribute to the station or its operations and no money changes hands among them.

Negotiations continue, of course. On the USA side, the fedgoons want to avenge the election results in Ukraine, which were manipulated for the pro-Moscow candidate instead of for the pro-Western candidate; the feral gummint also expresses concern that Russia may be or have been sending nuclear technology to Iran. Numerous other issues no doubt will be found to get in the way of having NASA pay for access to the station.

Meanwhile NASA's own alternative vehicles were cancelled due to cost overruns. NASA's proposed "Crew Exploration Vehicle" or "How NASA plans to screw the private space transportation sector, again" won't be operational until 2010, if ever.

While Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin thinks the Chinese might provide a competitive alternative, we expect NASA to fall into its old rut and demand funds to fly the space shuttle. Naturally it would have to be on a "fly-until-they-die" basis, just like with Challenger and Columbia.

One thing not to expect out of NASA is a request for the commercial space launch industry to provide various private vehicles to function as station rescue craft on a pay per use basis. NASA continues to be quite hateful about the commercial space biz. Not more than we expect from socialists.

Meanwhile old Dana Rohrabacher is trying to regulate the new space tourism business. He seems to think that action by Congress is needed to establish a sound regulatory basis for the industry, whatever that might mean. We're reminded of our recent comments on the FDA. When will these dimwit Republicans in Congress realize that externally imposed government is not the solution to anything?

On particularly festive days, we suppose that Congresscritters already know that the free market works, and are simply trying to extort as much as they can from entrepreneurs. On other days, we encounter evidence of some sincere view that government oversight is needed or wanted, and we stand in awe of the power of self-deception in the human spirit.

New Country Developments

A good friend from the region of Kismayo, Somalia has sent us a link to a story on a recent attempted assassination of the newly appointed president of Somalia. So, we began reviewing the headlines on what passes for news of Somalia.

The UN Security Council began meeting in Nairobi on 17 November "amid heavy security." Gee, what could these bastions of world peace possibly have to fear?

Biftu-Dinsho company has entered into a "landmark deal" with a company in "the self-styled autonomous region of Puntland" to export khat worth $270,000 per day. Khat or qat or "chat" (a glottal ch as in "chutzpah") is a plant naturally rich in amphetamine-type compounds. Chewing the leaves releases these stimulants, and is a favorite afternoon activity throughout Somalia. The drug is addictive and approximately $750 million a year changes hands moving bundles of qat from the mountains of Kenya and Ethiopia into the cities and towns of Somalia. During the war between Ethiopia and Somalia, the qat planes continued to fly, and were safeguarded by all sides.

Also on 17 November, the European Commission launched a 190 million shilling project to support the transitional federal parliament of the Republic of Somalia. It isn't clear from the headline whether these are Somali shillings or what have you, but be sure the value in euros is much lower. That same day, at least two gunmen raided the residence of the newly appointed president of Somalia. This raid in Kenya's capital district prompted the Kenya government to call for the president of Somalia to form a government and get out of town.

The next day, 18 November, the presidents of Ethiopia and Uganda asked the UN Security Council to deploy international peacekeepers to Somalia before the newly appointed government relocates to Mogadishu. Gee, that worked ever so well back in 1992-1995, huh?

Two stories from the 19th were pretty interesting in juxtaposition. One noted that there had been no arrests in connection with the foiled attack on the Somali President. Another said that the Somali president appealed to the UN Security council "to take an urgent resolution to deploy a peacekeeping force to Somalia" the day after his home was attacked in Nairobi.

John Danforth (wasn't he the same guy who oversaw the commission which whitewashed the government's brutality in the Mt. Carmel massacre of 1993?) as USA ambassador to the UN declared USA support for the Somalia reconciliation process, as reported 22 November. Meanwhile, various relief agencies have requested US$479 million for various scams and humanitarian activities in Uganda, Somalia, and Eritrea.

Well, as you can see, the usual suspects are at it again. The UN wants to see the people of Somalia organized under some conventional government that will tax them to pay off its external debt of $2.7 billion or so, accumulated mostly by the dictator Siad Barre. The relief agencies continue to use the Somali situation to appeal for money, on about the same scale as the local drug industry. Of course, a great deal of the so-called humanitarian assistance is used to pay for the salaries of middle-class bureau-rats who infest various offices in Europe, paying the rare visit to Somalia on a junketeering basis.

Somalia has impressive natural resources in oil, natural gas, uranium, thorium, tantalum, niobium, emeralds, gold, and tin. It also has some 3000 kilometers of coastline with rich fisheries, plenty of shrimp and lobster, and scenic beaches. The port of Kismayo is located on the Equator, with a huge empty ocean due east, making it ideal for a launch site. And, according to a recent World Bank study, Somalia's economy is doing well without a nationalist, socialist, coercive government taxing and regulating.

However, the notion, which frequently appears in various news accounts, and in the World Bank report, that the Somalis have no government, is simply wrong. The Somalis have a traditional form of government which is based on a system of law they call Xeer. The Xeer is a code of laws and customs much like the Mosaic code of the Old Testament. It is administered by judges and elders who live in the communities where they function as respected members of the community. These are ad hoc judges, who work as businessmen or herdsmen most of the year, only sitting to judge crimes or resolve conflicts as the need arises.

Their system of defense is also ad hoc and involves a local militia system. The Somalis traditionally had no standing government and no standing army. Any attempt by a war leader to retain power after a military crisis had passed was always met with the dismissal of that leader by the council of elders who would, if need be, have him killed to prevent his establishing a permanent government. In fact, we believe that's what happened to Mohammed Farrah Aideed.

Aideed was the intended target of the raid by US Army Rangers and Delta Force operators which went bad in early October 1993, leading to the events described in accurate detail in the book Black Hawk Down and edited for jingoism into the monstrous film "Black Hawk Down" by Jerry Bruckheimer's team of deceivers, in our view. From about June 1993 to 1995, the USA military sought to capture Aideed, supposedly to bring him to justice for the killing of 19 UN peacekeepers who were executed for their role in seizing a radio station in May 1993. However, the UN and USA could never capture Aideed, and ended up bringing him to peace talks in 1995. At that point, Aideed announced that he would form a new national government of Somalia with himself as president. His own bodyguard was tasked by the elders of his clan with the job of killing Aideed. Within two weeks of declaring him outlaw, his clan did what the USA and UN had been trying to do for almost two years.

Doing business in Somalia can be quite profitable. However, outsiders should make strong connections to a particular clan. One of the best methods is marriage. Somalis have a traditional respect for marriage, and welcome non-Somalis as "brother-in-law." If you have a clan affiliation, you have an opportunity to do business that is not as readily available otherwise.

We continue to work with several Somali groups and look forward to the publication of Michael van Notten's book on the law of the Somalis in the near future. Michael's editor, Spencer MacCallum called us today to report that the book is going to the publisher tomorrow.

Longevity

Gavrilov and Gavrilova are research biologists who have decided to approach their understanding of aging from the insights which arise from reliability engineering. Reliability theory, they tell us, was developed in the late 1950s to describe why complex machines age and fail.

Aging, in this context, means expressing an increased risk of failure. Or "something ages if it is more likely to fall apart tomorrow than today."

One of the key insights from reliability theory is the "bathtub" curve, which is a U-shaped curve indicating death rate on the vertical scale and age in years on the horizontal. An example is here. On this curve we see the death rate high in the first year of life, and decreasing rapidly to a "normal working" mode. From nearly one death in a hundred among infants, the death rate decreases to just over one in ten thousand for this period of normal operation. Then the death rate increases, until by age 20 men experience nearly one death in a thousand, women somewhat less. The curve levels out for a few years, then starts up on a diagonal. Unfortunately, as it gets out to 95, the curve starts to approach 0.5 deaths per year. (See it here.) Although it levels off, it does so at a value of around 0.6 - chances are the individual dies in the next year.

By the way, the male death rate curve is above that for females. Why? One of the classic explanations has been the calico effect. There are no male calico cats. Why? Well, a calico cat has patches of fur of different colors because in each patch one X-chromosome is activated or "turned on." Since females have two of these chromosomes, they can have an added robustness by having one chromosome turned on for some cells and the other active for other cells. You'll find that all the people with one blue eye and one brown eye have two X chromosomes. (There is actually a very tiny chance of a mutation involving XXY expression, but this has to be rare, and has other side effects.)

The data for their curve comes from the folks at Mortality.org which has a lot of interesting data on longevity as a demographic trend.

Of course, humans are not machines produced in factories for consumers. If they were, you would expect a period of "shake and bake" or "burning in" to test through the early high failure rate. Many manufacturers use severe environmental tests to evaluate designs and improve them, then test components and products for several hours or days to ensure satisfactory operations for a high percentage of units. This approach reduces their warranty costs.

The analogous period for humans is early childhood. We don't get quite the same deal, though, because when an infant fails, it isn't possible to take out the line replaceable units and get it back in operation every time. But, the effect is important. It has long been observed that the average life expectancy overall may be 72 years or so, but for anyone age 5 or greater, the average life expectancy is 85 years or more. Why? It is this effect of infant mortality, which is a high enough percentage of all deaths that it brings down the average by over a decade.

According to Gavrilov and Gavrilova, the bottom of that bathtub curve corresponds to a "stage...distinguished by low and approximately constant failure rates. In humans this period is all too short, just ten or fifteen years, starting at age 5." So, once you reach age 5, good news, you have enormous odds in your favor of reaching age 20. Sadly, there follows a period of aging characterized by "an explosive exponential trajectory" from age 20 to 100 years.

Fortunately, the good news is the fourth epoch. Biologists call it "late life mortality leveling off." Nice bit of alliteration there. While at 110, your chances of living to see your next birthday aren't very good, they are not any worse than they were at age 102.

Finally, we come to the best news of all, the news that should make you really happy as you go out shopping this year. "An immediate consequence of the last observation is that there is no fixed upper limit to human longevity - there is no special number that separates possible from impossible values of a life span. This conclusion flies in the face of the common belief that humans have a fixed maximal life span and that there exists a biological limit to longevity."

You can live as long as you wish. If you don't, very likely someone will!


Publication note: More next week.


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