News and views:
News: A World Health Organization panel has concluded that cellphones
are “possibly carcinogenic,’’ putting them in the same category as
certain dry cleaning chemicals and pesticides, as a potential threat
to human health.
Views: While there’s some debate over the validity of this finding,
there’s no question that cell phones have done something to our
At the same time they provide the ability to communicate instantly
with anyone, anywhere, anytime, cell phones have also (1) accounted
for a sharp uptick in auto accidents caused by people who think they
can chat and text while piloting a two-ton vehicle through traffic
and (2)accounted for a sharp uptick in rude and boorish behavior by
social morons who converse loudly in restaurants, theaters, elevators
and, yes, even public restroom stalls.
I wonder if the study probes the dangers of second-hand phone
Not that the WHO findings will result in a massive life style change.
After all, we have been warned that any number of life’s little
pleasures from grilled meats to martinis to coffee to sunlight are
hazardous to our health, disclosures that often are met with a shrug
of the shoulders.
Living can lead to death, or so it seems.
Should you be concerned? To the amazement of no one, the cell phone
industry says don’t worry, be happy.
But Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center in Los Angeles, told CNN: “The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very
low-powered microwave oven.
"What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to
what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain,"
"So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors,
there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory
function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell
In other words, if the idea of sticking your head in a microwave and
hitting the start button causes you some discomfort, try holding your
cell phone at arm’s length. Better yet, try texting. It may save your brain and improve your hand/eye coordination.
News: A United Airlines passenger smacked a fellow flier over an
unwelcome seat recline this past weekend, according to a story in the
Washington Post. Fighter jets escorted Ghana-bound United Airlines Flight 990 back to
Washington Dulles International Airport after the fight broke out
Views: There’s no question this happens with some frequency. What
elevated this particular incident to news status is that someone
decided to scramble the United States Air Force to resolve it.
I was on a flight to Denver several years ago, sitting in the last
row of seats, when I fell victim to Abrupt Recliner Syndrome.
A woman sitting in front of me thrust her seat as far back as it
would go but I couldn’t recline in self defense because last row
seats don’t adjust.
She was so close I could smell her toothpaste.
I eventually called the flight attendance because I couldn’t drop the
tray table in front of me to eat my lunch. No fisticuffs ensued.
It’s just another example of the complete disregard the airline
industry has for its customers’ comfort and well being.
As the amount of leg room has declined to near claustrophobic
proportions, reclining seats seem like a genuinely bad idea. Among
other things, it’s a good way to get your lap top buried in your
Of course, you can always turn your fresh air valve up to full blast
and aim it at the recliner’s head or loudly complain that your
tuberculosis is getting worse. But that might lead to the kind of bad
blood that results in a F-16 escort.
Besides, any day now, airlines will probably start charging extra for
reclining seats which could minimize the issue.
News: In a survey ranking the gross national happiness of each
nation, China came out first.
Views: And North Korea came out second. Rounding out the top five
were Cuba, Iran and Venezuela. The United States finished last.
And who, you might well ask, conducted this survey? Why, none other
than everybody’s favorite paradise on earth, the People’s Republic of
I, for one, actually believe North Korea is a happy place. Because
unhappy citizens don’t get to stick around long enough to take part
As for the Chinese, they’re No. 1 because they’re happy they’re not