2661: Age Milestone Privileges
|Age Milestone Privileges
Title text: If you reach 122, you get complete unrevertible editorial control over Jeanne Calment's Wikipedia article.
This is a list of "age milestones" in the United States. As usual for Randall, he has added many fictional entries to supplement some real life ones. The real milestones are the ages at which Americans are generally allowed to do certain things for the first time. These are a mix of legal restrictions (such as the age for driving and voting), rules from private companies (such as movie theaters and car rental companies) and medical guidance (like the shingles vaccine).
|Legal driving age in the US is set by the individual states, but the general rule is that Americans are allowed to begin driving on public roads at age 16. There are various levels of restrictions on this privilege, however. In Randall's state of Massachusetts, and in 8 other states, 16 is the minimum age to apply for a learner's permit. In most of the country, 16 years is the minimum age for a restricted driver's license.
|Attend R-Rated movies alone
|In the US, the Motion Picture Association assigns ratings to movies based on whether they consider the film's content to be suitable for children. In this classification, "R" stands for "restricted", and the guidance from the MPAA is that no one under the age of 17 should be allowed to see it if not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. It should be noted that this guidance does not have force of law, but is sufficiently accepted that nearly all US theaters adopt it as a policy.
|The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents a minimum age of voting from being set above eighteen, meaning that eighteen-year-olds are old enough to legally vote anywhere in the country. Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will turn 18 before the general election, but Randall's state of Massachusetts is not one of them.
|While individual states have official power over the drinking age, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act restricts federal funding from states that do not enforce a drinking age of 21 years. This has resulted in a de facto national drinking age of 21 in the US, which is higher than most countries. It should be noted that some states allow minors to drink alcohol under certain circumstances, but no state allows anyone under 21 to buy alcohol.
|Rent a car
|Car rental companies set their own age restrictions on renting cars. The industry standard in the US is to charge a higher rate for drivers under the age of 25. Thus, there was not a "prohibition" per se, but 25 is a milestone for "regular" rates and fees on car rentals.
|Run for Senate
|This entry is slightly incorrect: According to Article 1, Section 3, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, one must be at least 30 years old in order to become Senator, not run for Senate. For example, Joe Biden was 29 years old when he was first elected to Senate but turned 30 before being sworn in.
|Rent a Senator's car
| This is the first joke entry in the table. For one thing, most Senators do not rent out their cars, which they probably need to use regularly themselves because they have jobs to commute to, and it would be a security hazard to allow random strangers access to their vehicle.
This could also be a reference to the Ambassador, a now defunct car brand.
|Run for president
|In the United States, according to Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, a person must be at least 35 years old to be eligible to hold the Office of President. Similar to the age 30 entry, this is slightly incorrect. However, unlike the Senate case, this technicality has not been relevant for anyone elected as United States president — at least not yet (as of 2024).
|Rent a flying car
| A 25-year-old might be able to rent a non-flying car today, but not a flying car, because the technology is not mature enough to the point where they're available to rent. The joke is that by the time a 25-year-old reader becomes 40, the technology will exist and they'll be able to rent a flying car. Unlike the earlier lines, the limitation has nothing to do with their age, just technological development.
Alternatively, even once flying cars are developed, their usage will be more restricted. For example, young people are perceived to be more reckless and/or otherwise dangerous.
This whole issue may be virtually negated if the newly developed flying cars are introduced only as self-flying cars (an off-shoot of self-driving technology but devoid of many of the dangers of navigating roads, i.e. person-controlled vehicles, pedestrians and other ground-based hazards), in which case the age (or even presence) of the renter may be very much more irrelevant than the nature of any route/destination the guidance computer is tasked to fulfill. The question would then be how much a potential passenger would trust pure electronics to avoid all the actual dangers for what is essentially a flying taxi, compared to a human controller who may be fallible but presumably at least has their own fully developed common sense and a degree of self-preservation as well as any requisite training.
|Learn about the God-Empress
|Obviously, the restriction of knowledge of the "God-Empress" does not actually exist because this comic is visible to people under 45 years old. According to 1413, she will be public knowledge by 2040 anyway.
|Full AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons) membership is available to anyone age 50 and over. Officially, there are no age restrictions to membership, but members under the age of 50 do not have access to full benefits.
|Get a shingles vaccine
|At the time of the comic, the CDC recommended that adults 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine called Shingrix (this line was not in the original version of the comic, corrected later)
|Click to skip captchas
|Older people might have more difficulty understanding captchas. Also, they could be more inconvenienced because some older people move more slowly, so it would take them longer to move the mouse, and people would care more about older people anyway. However, this would be impractical to implement because if the computer knew the person's age, it would know that the user is a person, not a bot, so there would be no point in a captcha anyway.
|Vote for God-Empress
|It appears that a person must have knowledge of the existence of the God-Empress for ten years before they are sufficiently qualified to elect a new one. Since the God-Empress is (presumably) in power for life, it is likely that most people would have to wait much longer than ten years.
|$80 national parks lifetime pass
|The US National Parks Service has a lifetime membership pass for Americans ages 62 and over, which allows access to national parks and other areas managed by the NPS.
|Eligible for Medicare
|Medicare is a US government-run health insurance for older people, and indeed begins eligibility at age 65 for the general public.
|Collect Social Security
|Social Security is a system of benefits for retired individuals, disabled persons and widows/widowers. U.S. individuals may collect reduced Social Security benefits starting at age 62, and they can collect increased Social Security benefits if they wait until age 70. 67 is considered "Full Retirement Age." There is some debate about whether one would be better off waiting or taking it right away, but for most people Full Retirement Age (67) is at least close to optimal.
|See "Skip ads" button on live TV
|Some DVRs and streaming applications have a feature to skip over commercial breaks in recorded programs, but this could not be available in live TV, since it would require jumping forward in time. Time travel is currently impossible.
|Run for God-Empress
|The name suggests that this would also only be available to women.
|Ride any animal in a national park
|The National Parks Service probably could institute this relatively safely because most people over 75 would not be able to run fast enough to outrun/catch up to an animal and mount it and would not have the rebellious/risk-taking/adventurous streak that would incline them to try.
|Eligible for Megacare
|This is based on becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65.
|Click to toggle whether an ad is positive or negative about the product
|In line with previous milestones regarding advertisements, this implies the ability to control reality and change the mood of the ad one is watching as it is running. Obviously, this is impossible, but could potentially be pulled off by adding an option to change the ad to another ad about the same product, but with the opposite viewpoint of the product. Ignoring the issue that ads that are just negative about a specific target don't tend to be commissioned. Except perhaps in certain areas of political campaigning. Furthermore, the wording appears to imply the new ad is the same as the one you were watching previously, ie. same actors, rather than a different ad about the same product.
|Click to make any movie R-rated
|It is unclear whether this would actually make the movie less appropriate or change the Motion Picture Association's rating to be erroneous.
|Get a letter from the president
|In the US (which other milestones, such as running for president starting at age 35, indicate is the country being referred to), you can instead get congratulated by the weatherman (Al Roker) on the Today Show. However, the United Kingdom is much closer. People there can apply to receive a card (formerly a telegram, later a TeleMessage) from the monarch on their 100th birthday.
|(35+67) Collect a presidential pension
|The idea behind this joke is that it is the minimum age of presidency plus the minimal age to collect Social Security. There are several reasons why this must be a joke. Two are that Social Security begins 67 years after the person was born, not 67 years after the person's job started, and that the United States government would not bother to set up such a system because the vast majority of people, including former presidents, do not live to 102 years old. In fact, as of 2024, no former United States president has ever lived to 102 years old. The current oldest former U.S. President is Jimmy Carter at 99. Good luck Jimmy, only 3 more years!
|Get a birthday card from the God-Empress
|Being a God-Empress would be more important than being the leader of a single country. This would make the God-Empress's time more valuable, so she only has to send a birthday card to the few people who reach the age of 105. Contrariwise, the God-Empress is presumptively all-powerful and furthermore capable of delegation of ministerial tasks such as card transmission, so the utilitarian fact that the scarcity of 105-year-old people reduces workload is not a plausible justification.
|Leave your own birthday party early by putting on a magic ring
|This is a reference to the Lord of the Rings where Bilbo leaves his eleventy-first birthday party (the Bilbo Baggins Farewell Birthday Party) invisibly by using the One Ring.
|Vote 100 times
| Presumably a joke meaning the person can now cast 100 votes, for each election issue that a younger person can only vote for once, giving their opinion a vastly increased personal weight (or subtlety, if they vote more across the board than merely grant 100 votes to the same outcome), although it may not greatly change the result unless sufficient voters exist (of a like mind) to disproportionately swing the result towards the result desired more by these elder voters than their one-vote juniors.
It is the 100th anniversary of their having (potentially) first voted, and as such is a century milestone. But if there were exactly one election at the same time each year, the first vote on or after their birthday would actually be the 101st vote the person has been eligible to cast in their lifetime. If the sole election of each year were held at a different time of each year, someone who voted in every election might vote for the 100th time at either age 116, 117, or 118. However this milestone would happen earlier because there are often multiple elections per year, e.g., primaries, general elections and possibly runoffs. There may also be several reasons why the person may not have been given the opportunity to vote every year since they were 18, e.g. prior to the women's suffrage being officially ratified barely 100 years ago, but most importantly that the mandated minimum voting age was 21 until much more recently.
|Collect the pensions of all elected officials
|It is very unlikely that any government would award the pensions of all elected officials to anyone because they have reached the age of 120 years.
|Drink alcohol in an R-rated movie while getting a shingles vaccine from the president
|This entry references four earlier milestones (attending an R-rated movie, drinking alcohol, becoming President, and getting the shingles vaccine) whose corresponding ages (17, 21, 35, and 50) sum to 123. While not exactly 125, this may have contributed to the inspiration or age selection of this milestone.
|Age rolls over, become a baby again
|Integer overflow happens in computers when there are not enough bits (binary digits) to store the result of a calculation, and typically happens in computers at a given power of two, such as 128. An unsigned 7-bit number can hold the values 0 to 127 (127 being 27 - 1) and an attempt to go beyond 127 will overflow, also called rollover, back to zero. 7-bit numbers are not common native values in today's computers. For the more usual integers of one byte (8 bits), while a signed byte would roll over after 127, it would typically rollover to -128 rather than to zero, whereas an unsigned byte would rollover to zero but not until after 255.
The title text mentions Jeanne Calment, who holds the record for the oldest person ever (there are biblical references to older people, such as Methuselah, who supposedly lived to 969, but their ages haven't been verified). She reportedly was age 122 when she died in 1997. There's some controversy whether Calment actually claimed her mother's records, including birth certificate, as her own. "Editing wars" have been fought over her Wikipedia page. Randall claims that if you match her age you get sole editorial control over that article. However, if anyone managed to exceed her achieved age, presumably they would get their own page (albeit that they should not be encouraged to edit it themselves) and hers would cease to be as interesting - although that might depend on what use is made of the unparalleled editorial control now granted.
and associated privileges
17 Attend R-rated movies alone
21 Buy alcohol
25 Rent a car
32 Run for senate
35 Run for president
40 Rent a flying car
45 Learn about the God-Empress
50 Join AARP
50 Get a shingles vaccine
52 Click to skip captchas
55 Vote for God-Empress
62 $80 National parks lifetime pass
65 Eligible for Medicare
67 Collect Social Security
68 See "Skip Ads" button on live TV
70 Run for God-Empress
75 Ride any animal in a national park
80 Eligible for MegaCare
85 Click to toggle whether any ad is positive or negative about the product
90 Click to make any movie R-rated
100 Get a letter from the president
102 (35+67) Collect a presidential pension
105 Get a birthday card from the God-Empress
111 Leave your own birthday party early by putting on a magic ring
118 Vote 100 times
120 Collect the pensions of all elected officials
125 Drink alcohol in an R-rated movie while getting a shingles vaccine from the president
128 Age rolls over, become a baby again
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