REALITY CHECK: Sometimes there’s just more bad news than good

I’ve always hated those “good new/bad news” jokes. You know the sort:

Doctor: I’ve got some good news and some bad news about your tests.

Patient: What’s the good news?

Doctor: The good news is the tests showed you have only 24 hours to live.

Patient: That’s GOOD news? What’s the bad news?

Doctor: I forgot to call you with the test results yesterday.

Now that I think about it, that one’s kind of funny. What’s not funny is the “good news/bad news” news I heard the other day. The good news is, scientists may have discovered a secret to drastically increase the male lifespan.

This news comes from Korean researchers, who spent years studying the genealogical records of members of the Imperial Court of the Korean Chosun Dynasty.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, the members of the Chosun Dynasty who lived longer were eunuchs, men who had been, well, altered in order to allow them to keep an eye on the temple virgins or whatever without facing the temptation an “un-altered” man might face. Others in the study had simply been the victims of “disfiguring accidents.” You guessed it; they had lost a part of the anatomy most men, if given the choice, would opt to keep.

According to Kyung-Jim Min, a researcher at Inha University, this evidence helps explain why women typically live longer than men. Apparently, male hormones — the sort that are lost along with, ahem, other things in certain surgeries or accidents — are responsible for cutting years off the lives of most men. (And yes, I’m aware of the grim pun contained in that last sentence.)

Min’s study showed the eunuchs lived 14 to 19 years longer than other men of the time, many making it to 100 or older in many cases. In fact, the incidence of centenarian eunuchs was about 130 times greater than it is in “normal” men, even those from modern, developed countries.

This gives rise to a question: Considering the already-increased present-day lifespan, could the addition of this, how should I put it? — lifestyle change — result in 130th birthdays for some guys? Maybe, but I’ll bet these guys would not be smiling at their birthday parties.

I don’t mean to imply manhood should be defined by any single anatomical addition or subtraction, but surely this at the very least factors somewhere into the equation.

I only wish I were making this up. But nope, Min’s research was published in the respected medical journal, “Current Biology.”

Regular readers of this column (don’t laugh, there ARE a few) already know I am afraid of death. I worry that, if there is an afterlife, things may go badly for me. I have not always lived an exemplary life. So my goal is to live as long as I can, preferably forever.

My long-range plan is to stay alive long enough that science catches up and I can have my brain transplanted into an immortal, android body. I would hate to miss that event by a mere 14 to 19 years, the amount of time I could, allegedly, gain by joining the Imperial Court’s cadre of unhappy sopranos.

So. Decisions, decisions.

Maybe I’d be better off just trying to raise funding money for faster android research. I’m not getting any younger. But when it comes down to it, I guess if Min’s option is the only one available, I’m not getting any older, either.

Mike Taylor’s paperback book, “Looking at the Pint Half Full,” is now available at Robbins Book List in Greenville and in eBook format from

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