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"Take the death off the table."
March 6, 2011 11:06 AM   Subscribe

The Billionaire Who Is Planning His 125th Birthday. Also: The Die-Later Diet

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From The Huffington Post (2009), an editorial by Murdock, who is Chairman and Owner of Dole Foods and founder of NC Research Campus: A Recipe For Longevity: 33 Of The Healthiest Foods On Earth Dole also has a nutrition institute.

From Oprah: his diet and fitness routine
posted by zarq (66 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
High upon Olympus, there is a WICKED argument going on on just who gets to deliver his ironic end for the hubris.
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on March 6, 2011 [25 favorites]


There was a great nonfiction piece by Will Self some years ago about cryonics. If I recall correctly, the head of one of those freeze-your-head-for-the-future institutes had suffered the early loss of a family member. He then vowed to his mother that he would never die, and so began his quest to avoid death at all cost. The whole thing struck me as awfully neurotic and sad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:19 AM on March 6, 2011


High upon Olympus, there is a WICKED argument going on on just who gets to deliver his ironic end for the hubris.

Very well put, sir. You hit that ant on the head with that jackhammer quite nicely and I must say I do like the cut of your jib,
posted by Skygazer at 11:25 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christ, what a last-hole.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:28 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Indeed, he speaks so loudly at times, and in such a declamatory manner, that it cows people, who sometimes assume they’ve angered him. "When I open my mouth,” he noted, “the room rings.”

I think he's mistaking "wincing painfully" for cowing.
posted by HopperFan at 11:36 AM on March 6, 2011


As a billionaire, he could pay everyone around him to move at twice normal speed working on half days, rig a Vegas-style fake sky dome sequenced on 12 hour days, and then have the papers, divided into early and late editions, reprinted and dated as double-timed sequential days.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:37 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


In restaurants Murdock will push the butter dish toward the server and say, “Take the death off the table.” He will ask employees or friends who are putting sugar in coffee or milk in tea why they want to kill themselves and will upbraid people leaving healthful food unfinished about the vitamins they’re squandering.

Sounds like a real prize. The opinionated jerk gets to outlive us all, and I'm sure he'll be all self righteous about it when it happens too.

Hooray for him.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, he's taken a small city that was devastated by the departure of its major employer (Cannon Mills, later Fieldcrest) and has tried to create a 21st-century kind of economic base. That makes up for some of the hubris in my book.

I've never met Murdoch but have heard him speak a couple of times. He seems genuinely commited to these ideals, but always loses me when he talks about eating his banana and orange peels. Plus I am always worried he's going to start talking about his bowel movements.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


At first I thought this was about Rupert Murdock and was like "AW FUCK NO".
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:47 AM on March 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


I note with some amusement that Mr. Murdock is only slightly older than William S. Burroughs was when he passed away from natural causes, but not yet as old as Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, who passed away at 102.

I know Murdock isn't trying to make a point about drug use, and I'm also aware that LSD doesn't shorten your lifespan, but it's still sort of funny to think about. All those banana peels, all that taking death off of the table, all while you're in the same age range as the guy who did bug powder.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:48 AM on March 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


If I had so many billions to throw around my diet and exercise plan would be to simultaneously fund brain uploading research and killer doom robot body construction
posted by Chekhovian at 11:51 AM on March 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


The only thing that's ever been shown to increase life span in a mammal (in this case, laboratory mice) is caloric restriction. Limiting calories to 80% of the nominal requirement can increase the life span of lab mice by almost double. Whether the mice like this is another question.
posted by neuron at 12:00 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chekhovian, killer doom robot bodies are OK but wouldn't you rather use the killer doom robots to populate your matrix? If I can be uploaded into a computer, I'll be living trillions of variations of lives in my datacenters whilst sending out robotic probes containing my essence to explore the galaxy.

That's the only way living forever is worth it to me. Transcending death is pointless if we can't transcend life too. If I can't have real butter, I want to swim in virtual oceans of it please.
posted by polyhedron at 12:07 PM on March 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Can't finds the link online, but The Economist's obit of WSB started something like this: "William S. Borroughs has proven, at age 83, that drugs kill."
posted by Meatbomb at 12:10 PM on March 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


To be honest, I'd rather regenerate than live forever. Look at your best for centuries, die cataclysmically, look awesome in a different way, get a new team of writers, and continue for as long as Steve Moffat can figure out how to make it work.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


The only thing that's ever been shown to increase life span in a mammal (in this case, laboratory mice) is caloric restriction.

True but a lifelong bad diet will almost surely decrease one's potential life span.
posted by rain at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even Jack LaLanne died. There's no beating Lord Death.
posted by briank at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't finds the link online, but The Economist's obit of WSB started something like this: "William S. Borroughs has proven, at age 83, that drugs kill."

Ha. I remember after Timothy Leary died - he died in his 70s, recall - seeing a letter to the editor in one of the Upstate papers that said, in all seriousness, that Leary's drug use had obviously lowered his lifespan, since many other people who aren't Timothy Leary had lived through their 80s and beyond. It made my head hurt.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Murdock says that he wants to slay such killers as diabetes, heart disease and, of course, cancer, and the scientists around him say that in some epically optimistic corner of his mind, he quite possibly believes he can. Unable to save Gabriele or the boys, he’s out to save the world.

I feel bad for him. Chances are he won't be able to accomplish all the things he wants to, and even if he does, it won't bring his family back.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2011


Death is for little people.
posted by Legomancer at 12:35 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's a lot sadder than he's pursuing dead-end dietary research when he could be helping Aubrey de Grey's SENS Foundation and actually advancing the science of longevity.
posted by signalnine at 12:35 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


" A New World awaits you in the Off World Colonies!"
posted by effluvia at 12:37 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


signalnine: favorited HARD. I don't know why some tech billionaire isn't funding De Grey up the wazoo. It would seem right up their alley.

De Grey does give off a bit of a Kurtzweil-esque woo factor, I guess.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:38 PM on March 6, 2011


Rain: True but a lifelong bad diet will almost surely decrease one's potential life span.

Yes, but there's a huge difference between a "bad diet," and a good nutritional diet that provides a well rounded serving of protein, fruits, vegs, nuts, whole wheat, but that's limited.

My suspicion from my own experience (at one time when I seriously cut down on all those things especially the carbs. Regretfully no longer the case..nom nom nom) is that we don't need anywhere near the servings currently suggested.

I think even more important is eating at very regular and precise times and drinking tons of water through the day and the evening.

And finding some parts where some light snacking (protein or fruit best) can staunch hunger.

Anyhow, I don't think Burroughs can be looked at as a good example of anything, The man had clearly mutated into another species altogether.
posted by Skygazer at 12:48 PM on March 6, 2011


This guy reminds me of a concept in Elias Canetti's Crowds and Power: the Überlebenden or Survivors, sociopathic individuals whose ruthlessness enables them to "outlive" all those around them.

Living a healthy life and aspiring to live past 100 is one thing, being a multimillionaire and doing this is another. Couldn't the guy do something better with his money that might help others to survive in the normal sense? Or is he hoping to evade the so-called death tax as long as possible?
posted by bad grammar at 12:49 PM on March 6, 2011


Couldn't the guy do something better with his money that might help others to survive in the normal sense?

He opened a $500 million research facility to study his hypotheses, which is going to help others survive (assuming it does good research). If he produces results, he potentially helps other people survive by proving that excess vegetables and fruits are related to longevity.
posted by dflemingecon at 12:57 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


He might live to 125 but is it worth it if you are eating banana peels? Ugh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:04 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


This guy is way cooler.
posted by Evernix at 1:10 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


When they finally do figure out how to meaningfully prolong life it'll be the rich people who have access to it first, of course. That's going to cause great social upheaval, first from wealth providing a bulwark against the Great Inevitability adding just that smidgeon more to the secret desperation that feeds the "American Dream," second when it becomes clear that the existence of long-lived uberlords means certain members of this class get to spout their foul rhetoric poisoning the world that much longer.

It is sometimes forgotten, or ignored, that many bad ideas only ever leave our culture when their last die-hard proponents die off. Some people are never convinced, no matter how many times you prove it to them, that evolution exists, that a rainbow is not a physical bow in the sky, that the world is round, that the Earth is not the center of the universe, that fire isn't a destructive spirit that consumes matter, etc. When those proponents are self-assured (I'm rich so I must be successful so I must be right) and have access to giant media companies, the future starts to look like something from a dystopian sci-fi novel.
posted by JHarris at 1:12 PM on March 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Polyhedron, one word: RoboNixon

Regarding caloric restriction, sure it seems to work but it zaps your sex drive. It seems like there's a sort of "switch" that diverts the energy used for reproduction into body maintenance. So you live longer but is it really worth it?
posted by Chekhovian at 1:27 PM on March 6, 2011


He will ask employees or friends who are putting sugar in coffee or milk in tea why they want to kill themselves

Because the world is going to end up being full of guys like you, and really, death is easier, cheaper, nicer, and I get to have ice cream.
posted by eriko at 1:33 PM on March 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


Regarding caloric restriction, sure it seems to work but it zaps your sex drive. It seems like there's a sort of "switch" that diverts the energy used for reproduction into body maintenance. So you live longer but is it really worth it?

Well, at least you don't have to worry about sex and all the stupid things one does for it. Is the world made better by Viagra being the herald of millions of lecherous, ancient men writhing about acting like 18 year olds? Sometimes it's nice just to move on and not worry about things like that. There are other good things in life to enjoy, even at that age.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:34 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank goodness Death always wins, if for no other reason, this guy gets to meet it and SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY.
posted by dbiedny at 1:34 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regarding caloric restriction, sure it seems to work but it zaps your sex drive.

Not true! NOT TRUE!! My pecker was never getting so much quality action and performing magnificently. I find the opposite is true when I'm out of shape and overweight.


Has anyone heard about the caveman diet? Basically you only eat every coupla days and when you do eat, it's mostly raw meat. The idea is that it closely follows the hunter gatherer lifestyle and eating regimen and turns you into a monster of ripped steel and healthy moods and incredible mental acuity.

That's for me. UGGG....me WANT...T_BONE STeak!!

NOW ME CHASE, KILL AND EAT RAW MEAT OF WOOLY MAMMOTH. GRAR.

OKAY, NOW ME GO TO STARBUCKS!!
posted by Skygazer at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


*Caveman diet from the Caveman Newspaper of choice: The New York Times, natch.
posted by Skygazer at 1:43 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has he never seen Sleeper?
posted by Bromius at 1:47 PM on March 6, 2011


Hasn't there been some recent evidence of processed grain as a part of the human diet much farther back in time than ever suspected? I like the general idea of paleolithic diets but I would hope that they are based on the best possible reverse engineering of actual historical diets rather than farside cartoons.

Regarding the raw meat, aren't we evolved to eat cooked meat? My limited understanding was that cooking meat meant it could be softer and our jaw muscles commensurately weaker, meaning weaker skulls and bigger brains.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:48 PM on March 6, 2011


Not sure why being 87 makes you a robust specimen. My wife's grandmother just passed away at 89. But...she was a chain smoker who ate a big fatty diet. A wonderful woman but hardly robust. It seems to me the biggest factor is one we still can't control - the roll of the genetic dice.

My 98-year old grandmother still eats pork and lustily licks it off her fingers. She is alert - still maintaining postal mail correspondence with some of her friends, still chiding her grandchildren (including me) about not living up to her expectations. I don't know the secret. But If my grandma had kept his diet would she be living until 200?

I guess my real question is: Aren't there enough variations in genetics AND diet in the world that, just by chance, just playing the numbers, wouldn't someone have reached 125? And even if Murdock wins the diet lottery what makes him think he's also won the genetics lottery.

Odds, just simple odds, say that he hasn't.
posted by vacapinta at 1:54 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The life extensionist community doesn't take this guy seriously, though they wish they had his money and could reeducate him. He is pretty wrong on a number of things (red meat and butter are evil, fiber is extremely beneficial, overestimating the power of anti-oxidants, no sugar but fruit smoothies are daily) The fact that he is spending all of this money when he could find online communities dedicated to this shows me that he either is doing this for ego or he is just a billionaire who thinks he can do everything well.

Make no mistake, the first people to live (possibly in fairly good health) to ages we haven't really seen before will first be eccentric billionaires. But more likely it will be a Peter Thiel or Martine Aliana Rothblatt or some other Silicone Valley success story. The implications of super rich people that can live well over 120 is frightening to say the least; compound interest will very much be in their favor.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 2:03 PM on March 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Someone should put this guy and Ray Kurzweil in a room together, they can gnaw on each other's bones.
posted by dbiedny at 2:07 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


My 98-year old grandmother still eats pork and lustily licks it off her fingers.

I bet this is the first time in human history that this sentence has ever been written.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:10 PM on March 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Guarantee he pisses bright yellow as all those fat-soluble nutrients pass through un-absorbed for lack of dietary fat. His food regime looks like something from the 1980s. "Butter is death" *rolls eyes* dude is generations behind. Someone should introduce him to the butter-loving French and other high-fat long-lived traditional cultures around the world.
posted by stbalbach at 2:40 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


exhibit B (for butter): Julia Child living to be 92! you can pry the butter off of my cold, dead waffles.
posted by supermedusa at 2:51 PM on March 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


It was a heady ride, and his partner for the headiest stretch of it was a raven-haired, German-born beauty who became his wife in 1967, when he was in his mid-40s and she was in her late 20s. Her name was Gabriele. Although he was married twice before, he hadn’t fathered any children. With Gabriele he had two boys, who joined a son of hers whom he adopted.

[...]

He and Gabriele traveled the world; he chose one trip, she the next. Murdock says: “She always wanted to do what I wanted to do, and I always wanted to do what she wanted to do. It’s very hard to find somebody that way.”

And harder still to lose her. In 1983 she was given a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer. There was no effective treatment, though he looked wide and far. The couple took a suite at a hotel adjacent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Determined to heal her somehow, he wondered about nutrition and began to do extensive research into what she — and he, in support of her — should eat. The answer was more or less the kind of diet he has stuck to ever since.


The poor bastard. All his billions, all those years he's had and may continue to have... it's a damned tragedy, start to finish, and prior to this point he was *precisely* the quintessential American pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps ideal.

This is the first time I've felt sorry for someone with billions of dollars in assets. Wow.
posted by Ryvar at 3:14 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wanted to popularize the Die In Bed With Two Blondes Diet, but it looks like Charlie Sheen has beaten me to the punch.
posted by tommasz at 3:21 PM on March 6, 2011


In case people wanted to know more about the cryogenics movement, This American Life had an interesting segment about one organization that was into life extension and then started trying to freeze people shortly after death, despite having little in the way of scientific experts (they had a few doctors at first, but they all left when the organization started freezing bodies) and being headed by a TV repairperson. What's interesting is that these people usually didn't have much in the way of money, so they tried to kludge cryogenics on the cheap, which just made it even more awful.

Also, it's followed by a segment about one of MetaFilter's favorite poems.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:21 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eat like Keith Richards, whatever that diet is.
posted by chavenet at 3:33 PM on March 6, 2011


That's the alcohol diet.
posted by caddis at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2011


Why is it that the Venn diagram people who want to live forever and the people who I want to share a meal with don't really overlap?

Also: does the fish really have to be cut into a cutesy heart shape? REALLY? Is that like, a stipulation of the diet? Because I just might gag to death.
posted by sonika at 4:22 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rich people are crazy.

I'm sure there must be, have to be, exceptions somewhere. But in general...

Rich people are crazy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:22 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man that backstory makes him prime Batman Villain material.
posted by The Whelk at 4:26 PM on March 6, 2011


Eat like Keith Richards, whatever that diet is.

I say we kill Keith (he fucking ain't gonna die on his own), cremate him, and sprinkle some of his ashes on our breakfast cereal. Or maybe over a bowl of ganja like Keef Kif.

Seriously, think about it. History will look back on those of us who partook of the "Breakfast Bong of Champions" and remember the day we became semi-immortal, mutant-powered meta-humans, with tribes of mortals following us around like demi-gods.

This Murdock guy has money, but no imagination.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:46 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The old days of life extension with Durk Pearson and Ann Wigmore were more interesting. In approximately 1985 I had lunch with a group of Wigmore's multi-level marketer people. They thought (they stiill might although Wigmore has croaked) the secret to life extension was a diet of sprouts, especially wheat grass sprouts and wheat grass sprouts juiced. The money shot was the delight of the wheat grass juice enema.

They especially loved to talk about meat and dairy products putrefying inside our intestines. The dude who was the biggest pusher of the wheat grass juice enema had a green tinge to his skin and he smelled very bad.
posted by bukvich at 5:38 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man that backstory makes him prime Batman Villain material.

He needs a good villain name, though. The Wrinkled Prune?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:17 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Terrible Old Man.
posted by hermitosis at 6:19 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


He also studied something called brain acceleration, which he says taught him to think about three things at once.

Three things at once!?! Ha! What a great braggart!
posted by agog at 8:04 PM on March 6, 2011


When they finally do figure out how to meaningfully prolong life it'll be the rich people who have access to it first, of course.

If that's the intent, he's starting off all wrong by eating banana peels.
posted by storybored at 8:12 PM on March 6, 2011


57 comments and nobody's said, "I've got tiger's blood. Dying is for fools." Unbelievable.
posted by phaedon at 10:11 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You think that's a bad thing??
posted by Skygazer at 10:43 PM on March 6, 2011


In restaurants Murdock will push the butter dish toward the server and say, “Take the death off the table.” He will ask employees or friends who are putting sugar in coffee or milk in tea why they want to kill themselves and will upbraid people leaving healthful food unfinished about the vitamins they’re squandering.

I once worked for a millionaire. He always seemed oddly obsessed to me with his physical security - both his health and protection from physical violence.

At the risk of generalizing from a sample set of one, I thought that maybe that was tied to his wealth. Maybe once a person obtains enough wealth to be financially secure, they start worrying more about the things they can't control. All the money in the world can't save you from your own mortality, or a violent stranger.
posted by heathkit at 11:16 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eating banana peels, see how it feels
Living is easy as ice cubes
The world is swimming with electric eels
Talk seriously to me brother
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:22 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think one of the surest signs of a mature intelligence is the ability not only to make peace with death, but to understand that it's a good thing that we die.

There is something profoundly pitiable about people who desperately cling to life, and seek to extend it beyond the normal expectation - especially when they do it at great cost, either financial or personal.

Who was that fitness freak who just recently died at 96? The guy who said something like "If it tastes good, spit it out"? Man, I feel sorry for people like that. They're so afraid. So is this guy. It's a shame.
posted by Decani at 3:32 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Decani: " Who was that fitness freak who just recently died at 96? The guy who said something like "If it tastes good, spit it out"? Man, I feel sorry for people like that. They're so afraid. So is this guy. It's a shame."

Jack LaLanne. Here's a guy 21 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger called "an animal!" after LaLanne, at age 54, beat him in a bodybuilding competition. LaLanne literally founded the fitness movement in this country, including the first health and fitness gym, and was quite literally a spokesperson for exercise and healthy eating for decades, including for at least one Presidential administration.

"I never think of my age, never," LaLanne said in 1990. "I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I'm just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They're more productive than they've ever been in their whole lives right now."

My word. He sounds just terrified of dying, doesn't he? :)
posted by zarq at 6:31 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy shit! He is Mr. Burns

He should just block out the sun with some sort of disc and show everyone who is the boss.
posted by special-k at 9:14 AM on March 7, 2011


My word. He sounds just terrified of dying, doesn't he? :)
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on March 7


Absolutely. When you look at how he *lived* - a life of obsessive health freakery and abstention - it becomes clear just how riddled with denial that quote is.

Seriously: do you really not see that?
posted by Decani at 12:33 PM on March 7, 2011


Decani: " Absolutely. When you look at how he *lived* - a life of obsessive health freakery and abstention - it becomes clear just how riddled with denial that quote is.

Seriously: do you really not see that?
"

Honestly, I think you're engaging in confirmation bias. I met him once, in the late 90's. He seemed to me to focus on encouraging people to feel better physically and about themselves emotionally. LaLanne remained physically fit and active during a time when most of us have difficulty with mobility. So that quote strikes me as his way of saying that age shouldn't limit people -- if they want to try a physically-difficult activity, they shouldn't allow misconceptions that they are too old to try to stop them.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on March 7, 2011


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