Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cell Phone Phollies

To me, it was always obvious. Cell phones cause cancer. Or rather, it is believed that cell phones are as likely to cause cancer as talcum powder, high-voltage power lines, Jersey Shores and, for all I know, Big Boy tomatoes. 

The possible cell phone/cancer risk has been around as long as the gadgets themselves. I remember some 21 years ago being given a test phone that looked and felt like a brick and came with its own power supply in a blocky leather shoulder bag.  I was reviewing the thing for a local tech magazine and the supplier warned me against actually holding the phone too close to my ear. He smiled when he said it but was serious: “We don’t know a lot about these things. The radio waves might be bad for you; we’re just not really sure yet…”

The latest scare comes from the World Health Organization, an arm of the United Nations which in a recently released report announced cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic” to people using them. Industry folks dismissed the report, of course, saying that five billion people use cell phones today and that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the devices is far too weak to cause harm. Additionally, spokesfolks at the CTIA, which represents cell phone makers, say the study used outmoded equipment. To be fair, WHO is quick to the draw when it comes to cancer-causing products, having already identified coffee, hair-coloring products, chlorinated water, polyurethane foam and printing inks as dangerous to one’s health.  But then again, so are buses when you stand in front of them and they’re moving. Personally, I think it’s important to remind any and all organizations that life is a terminal disease.  You always die from it.

I’m not sure whether cell phones can cause cancer, but I’m pretty sure they’re dangerous. Without even mentioning the fools who carry on conversations while driving, endangering not only themselves but other motorists, cell phones have demonstrated the treacherous stupidity of many of their users. Ask, for example, former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who stands accused of trying to get a hotel chambermaid to have sex with him. DS-K could have gotten away with it, but while waiting for his flight for France to take off, he realized he’d forgotten his cell phone at the hotel and called the concierge there. By that time the maid had reported the assault. Police drove to the airport and scooped DS-K from his first class Air France seat. All because of his cell phone.

Or remember the burglar in Maryland who left his phone in the house he had broken into and robbed? And what of the aptly named Representative Anthony Weiner (D NY), who denies using his phone to send a photo of a (perhaps his) bulging Fruit of the Loom-clad midsection to a Twitter follower? About a year ago, an acquaintance found her spouse shacked up in an NQA motel by reading the text messages he’d forgotten to delete from his phone.

This is my favorite story from, a website for gearheads.  “Brothers Jared and Cooper Colwell and two other men were sleeping at their home in Midvale, Utah, when a pair of ski-masked crooks busted into the house and demanded everyone's cash, wallets, and cell phones…Jared thought he recognized one of the burglar's voices—it sounded like a friend of theirs named Randall Talbot who had previously crashed at their pad for a few weeks. Figuring they had nothing to lose, the Colwells texted Jared's cell phone with a message saying "Randy, I really want my phone back; I'll pay you $300 for the phone right now." Sure enough, Randy and his partner-in-crime agreed to a meeting at a local store. The Colwells called the cops, who were there to greet [the thieves] as they emerged from behind a dumpster at the rendezvous point—reportedly poised to grab the $300 and take off."

Here’s my advice: Hang up. Hang up now.

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