Is Older Always Better?

You may remember Jen McCreight. When an Iranian clerk blamed women wearing revealing clothes for causing earthquakes, she accidentally started a global event called Boobquake, which scientifically proved him wrong.

This year her father, Mike, also got into the newfangled blogging game, and started If I Were King, a little place for him to write about whatever is pissing him off at the time. He’s a smart guy. He makes a lot of good points, and his blog is always an interesting read.

But today he wrote something I found myself disagreeing strongly with. Writing about the US Supreme Court, he argues that life time appointments for justices are no longer a good thing. Justices no longer vote by their conscience – politics be damned – but instead vote according to ideology. “Now justices vote along straight political lines. The new strategy for appointments is to send justices to the Supreme Court at an early age and make damn sure their political ideology is aligned to the party in power.” This, of course, is the part of his post I agree with. Since justices have life terms, political parties make all kinds of manoeuvrings to get someone who’ll vote their way on the bench. And having the same people in their jobs for such a long time reduces the likelihood of change or reform. Decisions that may have been applicable thirty years ago may now, in a different culture, be appropriately overturned. But that won’t necessarily happen if the same people are on the bench, and their opinions haven’t kept up with the changing attitudes of society. Just as the executive branch of government has fixed term lengths, I think the judiciary should too. I like Mike’s suggestion of 15 years.

What I disagree with, though, is Mike’s idea of a minimum age. He proposes that to be nominated, a justice must be at least 55 years old. As I said, an aging Supreme Court is not necessarily a good thing. I certainly respect the advantages of age and experience, but I don’t think it’s impossible to find similar experience and wisdom in a 45 year old, for example. So I agree and disagree with Mike: fixed 15 year terms would be great, but I don’t think a minimum age of 55 is the way to go.

What do you think? Are life terms a good idea? Should there be a minimum age?

Handbags Don’t Cure Cancer

If I wore a bra, it would probably be black. Or grey. Maybe white, red or blue, depending on what else I was wearing. It would be as comfortable as I could get it, but I wouldn’t expect it to cure cancer.

If I had a handbag, I’d like it on the kitchen table. Or the backseat of the car. Maybe even in the bathtub, or on the toilet. But I wouldn’t expect that telling people where I put it would cure cancer.

But that’s the latest Facebook meme going around at the moment. Last year it was “tell us what colour bra you’re wearing… it’ll be cheeky, give the boys a thrill and raise awareness about breast cancer”. This year it’s “tell us where you put your handbag… it’ll be cheeky, give the boys a thrill and remind you about breast cancer”.

I’m well aware that breast cancer is a terrible thing. I do not need to me reminded of it. I have a family history of it. Reminding me about it serves no purpose. I can see, however, that it can be good to remind women to get their regular breast scans – but are “cheeky” Facebook campaigns going to be all that effective? I would be very surprised if many women posted “I like it on the coffee table” thought even for a second “Hey, I really should book in for that exam”. Those that did, I imagine, were already planning it anyway – perhaps because of a recent scare or a history they’re very aware of.

And why do we only see these ‘cheeky’ status updates for breast cancer? Lung cancer is the most common cancer – affecting both men and women – and is by far the most lethal. This year, the US National Cancer Institute expects more men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than women diagnosed with breast cancer. Prostate cancer has a similar survival rate to breast cancer, but nobody’s suggesting Facebook status updates to ‘remind’ men or make them aware to do a PSA test. Let’s face it, breasts get all the attention because they’re sexy.

Well I’m going to change that. I need a catchy, slightly naughty theme to change my status update to. Since prostate cancer only affects men – just as breast cancer mainly (but not only) affects women – I’m going to make it something uniquely masculine.

Next week, I’m going to change my status to “I did it XX times today”.

Where ‘XX’ is going to be the number of times I scratched my crotch.

And I’m going to encourage all my male friends to do so, as well. You know, to remind them to get their prostates checked. And because it’s a little bit sexy, a little bit cheeky, I’m sure it’ll catch on. It’ll go viral. Men will finally take ownership of their prostates. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll even make the prostate sexy, like boobs.

An Alarming Tale

Guest post by Hamish Lucas.

Daylight savings is here again! What a wonderful time of year it is. Crisp cool evenings, warm afternoons and extra long days are conducive to getting more work at home done and more play time with our baby boy. It truly is one of my favourite time of year, which is why, when the clock ran forward an hour last Saturday, I was in an excellent frame of mind. That is until Monday morning.

By Sunday evening i was still yet to put all our clocks forward to match the new EDT (GMT-9). My trusty iPhone with which I am addicted however did not let me down, and automatically updated the time on Saturday night.
With this in mind, and faith in my heart, I went to sleep knowing I would be woken by my reliable, trusty iPhone.

Monday morning 5:30am, all my clocks are reading 4:30 and the iPhone starts its alarm, claiming it’s 6:30!

OK so I cope with that (mostly because I didn’t notice at the time) and get to work early albeit groggy.
Some discussion has ensued as to why this may be. It’s a recurring alarm, set before the Daylight savings period. Clearly there’s a bug, because the alarm is stored in gmt, which didn’t change of course.
Happy with this diagnosis, I deleted all my alarms and reset them.

Tuesday morning: 5:30am – you guessed it, the alarm went off!
In frustration, I set a single alarm for 8:30 so I could sleep in a bit. This logical course of action had the iPhone’s alarm going off at 8:30! So now very late to work, the diagnosis of this bug was really starting to annoy me.

At this point I realise that my diagnosis was – ahem – wrong. If I was right, the alarm would be going off late not early. So it seems that Apple and Steve Jobs have overcompensated. Let’s leave the innuendo alone, I’m not quite furious enough yet to start overt personal attacks.

Now comes some testing between myself and my tech savvy iPhone confederates. As it turns out, this bug, that may or may not have been triggered by the onset of daylight savings, only affects my most favourite of features: The repeating alarm. The alarm that I rely on. The alarm I never have to set. The alarm that knows not to wake me on weekends. This now buggy alarm has done what I thought nobody could do: Turned me from an impoverished iFanBoy to actually noticing all the other little bugs in the iPhone.
Whilst I still think it’s a great piece of hardware, Apple’re going to have to fix this fast, and apologise greatly in order to restore my faith in their programming.

By Wednesday morning, tired, disenchanted and miserable, I made it in to work on time.

Thanks Apple. You’ve ruined my happy Spring.