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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Big Question: Is Immortality Worth It?

Posted by Alex Falcone on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM

jellyfish.jpg
  • NY TImes Magazine
[Fake editor's note: Alex is required by law to philosophize at least once a month or he'll have his bachelor of arts taken away. In this series, he thinks about something just enough to meet that requirement and get the commenters mad. -Still just Alex, but in italics so it seems important]

Some jellyfish can live forever. They're called Turritopsis Dohrnii, or more often The Benjamin Button Jellyfish. I'm not making this up. When they get old or sick or injured, they reverse the aging process back to their infantile stage. Their tentacle things fall off, they curl up in a ball, then bam! they're baby jellyfish. They start aging all over again. These jellyfish are laughing in your stupid YOLOing faces, Ke$ha.

This is not how we normally ponder immortality. I want my body to be in its late 20s forever while my brain keeps getting smarter. It'd be a crappy genie who told me I'd have to turn back into a baby every 70 years and start breastfeeding again. If my brain reverted too, what would be the point? If I stayed smart, that would be awkward for the owner of the breasts, having to constantly feed one of those babies from the eTrade commercials. I will pass on this kind of immortality.

What if you could live forever but you had to be a jellyfish? I'd live forever as a dolphin, sure. They have sex for pleasure. Or a whale, they sing beautiful songs and hang out in pods. Or king crabs, they scurry along the bottom of the ocean and have very tasty legs. But what do jellyfish do? They eat and poop out of the same hole. That's what jellyfish do. I will pass on that kind of immortality too.

The Benjamin Button Jellyfish has another major problem. They don't die of natural causes, but they have no bodily defenses at all so they're murdered by the millions... BY SEA SLUGS. Do you know how weak you have to be to be killed by a sea slug? If the French army had a baby with Screech from Saved by the Bell and the baby had Greg Oden's knees, that child would still be able to kick a sea slug's ass.

If a mad scientist offered you eternal life with the caveat that sea slugs would be able to kill you, don't take that either. You're lying in bed and you hear a slurping sound at the door. You panic. "They're here. I don't know how they found me but they did." You try to run but you trip over a roller skate in the hallway and before you can get up you feel something wet on your leg. It's just too terrifying, really. I'll take my chances with normal death.

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