Wednesday, September 25, 2013


There is an insidious movement in the legal profession to undermine the elderly.  I read about it in the Daily Journal.  A State Bar panel is poised to require "older" lawyers, beginning at age 50 (the eligibility age for AARP), to take a mandatory continuing education course on recognizing cognitive impairment.  Presumably this is based on the premise that with age comes mental deterioration.  So, if the codgers and mature ladies who must take the course are more likely to be mentally impaired, how will they ….?  (I don’t have to finish the thought, do I?)
         Perhaps the rationale is that at age 50, lawyers are on or approaching the cusp of senility, and can be taught to recognize the symptoms when they strike with full force.  But as I implied in the preceding paragraph, it may be too late by then.
         Whatever the rationale, I take umbrage at this misguided assault on those lawyers who should be revered for their wisdom born from experience and maturity.  No, my age has nothing to do with my indignation.  But is it not likely that the next hapless group to be targeted for age-related cognitive impairment is … judges?  A person younger than I might have written "are … judges."  Why must our American culture, unlike others, idolize youth and disparage the elderly?  I offer a few personal examples to illustrate that senior citizens deserve veneration, not disparagement, and that those of us of mature years make rational decisions.
         Last year you may recall my August column was devoted to a discussion of the Higgs boson to help us understand how the physical universe works.  And this in turn led me to a discussion of our moral universe occasioned by an age-related incident on July 4th, 2012, the same day of the Higgs boson discovery.  It occurred on the 35th annual Will Rogers 10K-5K 4th of July race. 
         I was signed up for the age 70 to 74 group of runners, or so I thought.  I was reputed to have finished 3rd in my age group, which entitled me to a bronze medal.  Just after receiving my medal‑‑which resembles a miniature manhole cover and hangs from a patriotic red, white and blue ribbon‑‑I discovered that I had been mistakenly placed in the 75 to 79 group of runners and, in fact, had come in 4th in the age group to which I should have been assigned.  Only the first three fastest runners are entitled to a medal.  Laggards come in 4th.
         I immediately informed race officials of the mistake and, like a disgraced military officer whose ribbons are ripped off his coat, I tore from my neck my medal and handed it to Mike, the race official.  Mike praised me for my honesty for which I felt no kudos were necessary or warranted.  The guy in my age group who thought he had come in 4th got the medal he deserved and I slept well that night. 
         So this takes me to July 4th this year and another age-related incident.  I once again entered the Will Rogers 10K-5K race in Pacific Palisades, this one being the 36th annual.  You see, this year I am in the 75 to 79 age group, one of nine stalwarts.  I thought I had a good chance to legitimately win a medal because, even though I was a year older (and no doubt mentally impaired according to the State Bar), I was in the youngest (not an oxymoron) category in my new age group.  Surely such logic reflects mental acuity, not impairment.
         Like the year before, I opted for the 5K, another example of clear-headed thinking.  At the sound of the gun, I broke into a moderate jog, with a view to conserving my energy for the final mile and the hill that preceded it.  I would hardly term such strategy muddled thinking.  My time for the first mile was almost a minute faster than last year.  I felt buoyed by the likelihood of vindication and redemption.  I came in second.  No matter that the guy who came in first wiped me out.  I accepted my second place silver medal with a degree of humility.  The photo reflects a moderate degree of hubris on my part, while No. 1 graciously looks on. 
Please do not ask my time.  But when I passed the finish line, the winner was on the plane back to Kenya.  Mike, the race official, was there again, and he gave me a high five.  Last year he praised me for my integrity.  This year he praised me for a legitimate win‑‑the product of strategic planning from a senior 10 and 5 years older than 50 and not a drooling idiot. 
Sorry that my resentment shows, but I am seriously thinking about filing an age discrimination suit.  But then I would have to recuse myself from hearing the case, another example of my ability to think things through.  I know, such case is not ripe.  And I have not done well lately with cases in which I am a party.
But I do keep in mental and physical shape.  I read that those who work out with weights and who spend time with animals are stronger in body and calmer in temperament.  Most of you know about my cat Powell about whom I have written extensively.  He is overweight and I have done everything short of starving the poor guy to keep his weight down.  But then it occurred to me how I could simultaneously work out and spend time with my cat.  Pardon the expression, but I thought of a way to kill two birds with one stone.  I do repetitive curls using my stout cat for the bar bell.  While I work up a good sweat, he purrs.  So please do not fret about the mental acuity of our older lawyers and judges. 
Enough said.  Got to go now.  It's time for bingo.

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