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There are a lot of highly volatile but interesting companies I would like to take a position in, but only for the short term, as I think their long-term success isn't certain. Wouldn't it make sense to buy these companies using money from an IRA?

I'm 55 and doing just that. I have two IRA's, one a SEP-IRA for my company and one a Roth IRA. I am using the Roth to trade, except for the 5 shares of NOK I bought the other day. If I lose the money, it's my fault, but so far so good. Like you, I wanted to invest in some speculative stocks (bio-techs), but am keeping a close watch. With the online Roth, I can easily place a stop order for 1/2 of the stock and hold the remainder.

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