Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Saying good-bye to a "language maven, talking head, novelist and twice-weekly vituperative right-wing scandalmonger"

Today, William Safire offers his farewell thoughts on the occasion of his final column in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times. He concludes resoundingly and fittingly, as follows:

In this inaugural winter of 2005, the government in Washington is dividing with partisan zeal over the need or the way to protect today's 20-somethings' Social Security accounts in 2040. Sooner or later, we'll bite that bullet; personal economic security is freedom from fear.

But how many of us are planning now for our social activity accounts? Intellectual renewal is not a vast new government program, and to secure continuing social interaction deepens no deficit. By laying the basis for future activities in the midst of current careers, we reject stultifying retirement and seize the opportunity for an exhilarating second wind.

Medical and genetic science will surely stretch our life spans. Neuroscience will just as certainly make possible the mental agility of the aging. Nobody should fail to capitalize on the physical and mental gifts to come.

When you're through changing, learning, working to stay involved - only then are you through. "Never retire."

I've never wanted for reasons to disagree with Mr. Safire, but he is an original, his an original voice, and his integrity largely has been without reproach. He was never entirely above the conclusory argument, or the question-begging hidden premise, but he also never hesitated to stake out territory his ideological allies would have preferred he didn't. And that's enough for me.

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