A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

23 January 2008

Men Without Hats

So, while I will remain obsessed with my new purpose in life: pinpointing the precise moment that hats fell out of favour with the motion picture industry, I have a theory which I think holds more water than a ten gallon hat.

The incidence of melanoma has increased exponentially in direct proportion with the decline of hat wearing. What?? It's true. This thought has been floating around in my head for years and to me it makes perfect sense. Without a brim blocking out ultraviolet light...the incidence of skin cancer has gone up. Oh, sure...you can argue that the ozone layer has been depleted thereby letting more harmful rays reach our collective heads to begin with. But I can then counter-argue that advances in medical science and higher self-awareness should cancel each other out and the line on the graph should remain relatively constant. But they don't.

Take in consideration these studies from the National Cancer Institute's website...I broke it down into five year increments from 1950-1994 (1950 was the earliest year I could retrieve figures) because the trend clearly is more dramatic when viewed in such short time frames...the figures literally jump right out at you. There is no denying the rate of skin cancer has risen sharply...and in such a relatively short period.

Melanoma of skin (white males - all ages) (Click the preferences to get other figures.)

I'm thinking there's more to it than just going out in the sun...it's the combination of going out in the sun without a hat. We aren't working outside as much as we used to, sunblock usage has gone up and so has our overall knowledge of the subject in general...common knowledge would dictate these figures should be declining instead of escalating. While one could argue that years ago people died of melanoma but the cause of death was attributed to something else, I would surmise that only a small portion of doctors back then would not have recognized advanced melanoma.

So, I will stick to my hat theory and hope someone in the medical community uncovers these facts...and then perhaps we'll finally get a national cover-up we can all look forward to for a change.


  1. Your hat theory holds water only if there is a higher incidence of melanoma on the scalp and forehead and perhaps the earlobes than there was in hat wearing days.

    Have you ever seen those old photographs of vacationers on the beaches around Atlantic City taken around the turn of the last century? The women are covered head to toe with the latest styles in beach wear. They'd be lucky to get their knuckles sunburned. The men are similarly covered and if, on the rare occasion, one is actually shown without his shirt on, we are treated to this white-as-a-ghost torso with a tanned and weather worn head attached to it. My point is that people in the early part of the 1900s just weren't allowing "any" parts of their body, let alone their scalp, to receive nearly as much sun exposure as they allow today. The dictates of modesty made the effective sunblock, not the dictates of fashion. Then again if we narrow our study to the head, you might have an argument. Then again if I didn't know you were writing with tongue firmly planted in cheek it wouldn't be as much fun being such a goddamn cynic.


  2. Yes, I was thinking that when I was searching around...altho I would figure that you could also count nose and lip cancer in there as well...but, you are correct, it makes no mention of where exactly the melanoma was...so it could be on your elbows and shoulders for all I know. I just thought the figures were quite shocking as they presented themselves...plus, my whole "hat theory" worked into it so well.

    And while I agree that people were covered up like crazy during the turn of the century, these melanoma figures don't go back that far, they only go back in the 50s...and people already started showing a bit more than their ankles...lest you forget Rudi Gernreich in the 1960's... http://www.historyofashion.com/historyofashion/gernreich.html - :)

  3. I don't know. Maybe it's a combination of ozone depletion and whether or not the "leathery" look is in or out of style.

    Here's an idea. Those early postwar years were a time of rapidly rising affluence. People of all class distinctions suddenly found themselves with more disposable income and more free time to expose their skin to damaging levels of ultraviolet radiation. Also, as the cost of air travel gradually came within the reach of more people, so did a lot of exotic, sun drenched getaways that might have been previously inaccessible. More spending money, more square inches of skin exposed to the sun, more time in the sun made more affordable by ever increasing affluence and access to the world - it all adds up to higher incidences of skin cancer. Makes sense.

    I must say, though, that wearing a hat is probably the best way to protect your face and neck from damaging sun exposure. I don't wear one as often as I should if I'm going to be outside for any length of time. Maybe I will from now on.