The Best of Andy Rooney

There are stories in the newspaper every day that interest me and stories that don't. I'm not proud of myself for this; it's just true. The world was informed of the death of Osama bin Laden. I've read about Bin Laden often enough that I can now remember how to spell his name, and because of the monumental nature of this story I can barely get to the other stories in the papers.

I've read almost every story about the raid by Navy Seals on Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (I wonder if "Bin" was his middle name. People never use my middle name, "Aitken." Maybe some people knew him simply as "Osama Laden," like I'm "Andrew Rooney.")

The one story about Bin Laden I'd like to read is how he was able to hide in a compound in the middle of a city close to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad without the knowledge of the authorities until now. The world thought he was holed up in the mountains.

I just heard that President Obama is not releasing pictures of the dead Bin Laden to the public. I think that's a wise decision. I'm not sure looking at a picture of a dead terrorist would comfort anyone.

Another story in my stack of papers carries the headline, "U.N. Sees Rise for the World to 10.1 Billion."

According to projections, we'll reach this population by 2100. This made me wonder how many people I know. My assistant, Susie, said she knew "maybe 300, I suppose." If I sat down and tried to remember, I'll bet I could name 2,000 people I know.

I remember the names of several hundred kids from the schools and college I attended. During four years in the Army, I must have known 1,000 people. During 60 years at CBS, I've worked with a lot of different people. I joined a club in New York years ago, and I've met hundreds of people there that I've come to know well. I live part time in a small town in Connecticut and have lots of friends there, too. I'm not sure all my friends would fit into Madison Square Garden.

The figure 10 billion worries me because I don't know how many people the world can hold. I've seen pictures of people crowded into cities in China, and they're full to overflowing. China doesn't need more people but they can't stop them from coming. It's hard to think what will happen eventually. We may have to get water to the deserts and level some mountains to make room for everybody.

I spend most of my time in New York City, in an apartment building. I think apartment living is one of the best ideas man ever had. In my building, 400 people share heat, water and electricity, yet have as much privacy as if they lived in a house in the country. About 8.2 million people live in New York City and most of them have dinner in privacy alone or with their families. If they don't want to make dinner, there are thousands of restaurants in town. If I need anything, there are three grocery stores within a few blocks of my apartment, and four restaurants. Don't tell me about the joys of living in the country.

We're going to need more space in 2100 than there is on earth now to support the population projection. Of course, I won't be around to take up space.

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