I hope every sane, eligible American is planning on voting tomorrow. (For Biden, presuming you value–oh, I don’t know, let’s start with: democracy, respect, the principle of a shared and knowable truth, dignity, science, facts, empathy, and kindess?)

I saw the pictures this morning of police pepper-spraying Black protesters in North Carolina. I couldn’t stop thinking of the way people try to defend the police as an institution by claiming that acts such as these are committed by “a few bad apples.”

Of course, if that were really true, all the cops doing the pepper-spraying–their faces are clearly recognizable in the images–would have been swiftly and immediately fired. I’m guessing that didn’t happen.

During the chaos of our police violence-themed summer, Freddie shared with me an article about the “bad apples” theory stating that, actually, there are professions where we have agreed on a zero-tolerance policy for “bad apples.” For example, pilots. How many pilots do you know who aren’t very good at landing airplanes? How many aircraft do you think you’d be allowed to crash before you’d be fired?

Which brings me to another point about aviation safety: the minimum retirement age. In recognition of the inevitable decline of human capabilities, commercial pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 651. While I’m sure there are people who can safely fly aircraft well beyond that age, we decided: why take a chance?

Now look at the ages of the two US presidential candidates. Both are about twice the median age of the entire population. Putting aside for a moment any concerns about physical or cognitive decline, is it even possible to comprehend seismic cultural changes across that kind of age gap? I appreciate the wisdom of the elders, but I don’t think they should be driving the bus either. Note that the founders felt obliged to clarify that a 35-year-old would have sufficient life experience to do the job.

While we’re at it, I’m in favor of age limits for Congress and the Supreme Court too.

Go vote. We’ll fix this later.


  1. It’s slightly more complicated now, but beside the point. ↩︎