Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jeanne Louise Calment (February 21, 1875 – August 4, 1997) reached the longest confirmed lifespan in history at 122 years and 164 days. Her husband died in 1942, after he ate a dessert prepared with spoiled cherries.

In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal, common in France, to sell her condominium apartment en viager to lawyer François Raffray. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay a monthly sum until she died, an agreement sometimes called a "reverse mortgage". At the time of the deal the value of the apartment was equal to ten years of payments. Unfortunately for Raffray, not only did Calment survive more than thirty years, but Raffray died of cancer in December 1995, at the age of 77, leaving his widow to continue the payments.

She said that at age 14, she met Vincent van Gogh in her father's shop, later describing him as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable." She also reported attending the 1885 funeral of Victor Hugo.

Jeanne Calment's remarkable health presaged her later record. At age 85, she took up fencing. At 100, she was still riding a bicycle.


ammar said...

What do you think of - the spoof of the wikipedia encyclopedia?

Ben Yates said...

I think it sucks? The linkspam on the front page turned me off before I even read any articles, as did the allegation that Uncyclopedia "sold out" to Wikia.

(Frankly, I wish people would stop bitching about Wikia's influence and start actually competing with it. It's a company, for god's sake. They offered Uncyclopedia free hosting, and Uncyclopedia accepted. Wikia is the only game in town for a lot of wiki content because all the other wikifarms are either going for simplicity (bluwiki) or strangling their communities by trying to wring out every drop of potential ad revenue (wetpaint). Yes, Wikia recruited a bunch of top wikipedia contributors who know how wikis really work. Good for them. Other companies are free to do the same.)

Uncyclopedia the same as wiqipedia, but a million times better -- everything from the name onwards, basically. Wiqipedia's satire is a one-trick pony at this point, endlessly reiterating the same joke -- done, again, much much better -- in this penny arcade strip. Wikipedia has real flaws, but Wiqipedia ignores them. Try for a funnier, more incisive critique.