Monday, October 08, 2007

In Praise of Common Sense

Heaven forfend that anybody should accuse Pretty Lady of being neurotic, controlling, hypersensitive, or a hypochondriac. But gracious. She could have told you this:

Children shouldn't use cellphones. No one should drink diet sodas sweetened with aspartame. And think twice before getting X-rayed with a CAT scan except in a bona fide life-threatening emergency.
In addition, most commercial cleaning products are enormously and unnecessarily toxic; Pretty Lady could have told you that, from the age of six, when she used to get a dizzy, nauseated, sick headache, sore lungs, and inflamed nasal passages every time she cleaned the bathroom. One may get one's bathroom perfectly clean with castile soap, baking soda and lavender oil, and it smells infinitely better than Comet.

Pretty Lady does not, truly, understand why or how modern humans have become so divorced from their basic, animal common sense. Surely that creepy, numbing, plasticky flavor in a diet soda would Tip One Off that aspartame is Not Fit for Human Consumption; it is like drinking liquified nerve gas. Why is it that we sit around, in the manner of domesticated cattle, guzzling this swill until a government employee tells us, thirty or forty years after the first anorectic teenager dies horribly of aspartame poisoning, 'Oh, BTW, that stuff's toxic.'

And why, when we are so all-fired worried about cancer, do we endure the chronic signals of our animal intuition as regards smaller discomforts, such as headaches, backaches, stomachaches, bloating, sniffling, sneezing, intestinal complications, accelerated heartbeat, insomnia and shortness of breath? Friends, these symptoms mean something. They are one's body sending the signal, "That's Bad Stuff out there. We are eating and drinking and breathing Bad Stuff. I've Got It Covered, for now, but couldja ease up for a bit? This ain't easy."


DuckMan said...

Surely that creepy, numbing, plasticky flavor in a diet soda would Tip One Off that aspartame is Not Fit for Human Consumption; it is like drinking liquified nerve gas.

I knew there was a reason I never, ever drink diet soft drinks if I can possibly avoid it. (I don't like to drink stuff that tastes bad.)

Chris Rywalt said...

I'm a little unsure as to why children shouldn't use cellphones. In fact during that whole article Devra Davis struck me as one of those cranky old environmentalists who think that Industry is Trying to Kill Us and that everything new is bad for you. She started off sounding pretty reasonable, but by page 3 she'd wandered off into kook territory. When you use a cellphone your ear gets hot because you're cooking it with microwave radiation? Really? Has that ever happened to anyone anywhere? Claiming that a cellphone is a microwave oven is like claiming that a flashlight is a microwave oven, or a TV remote control. Technically it's true! They all use ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION! GASP!

My children don't have cellphones for a much more pragmatic reason: What the fuck do they need cellphones for? They're eight and ten years old! They see almost every human they've ever met every day!

Nuts, all of you, nuts.

Desert Cat said...

Well there is this: broadly the microwave frequency range falls between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. Most microwave ovens operate at either 915 MHz or 2.45 GHz. Cellphones operate in a range from about 825 to 894 MHz--right there in the same ballpark as microwave ovens. And yes, it is the same type of EMR and has the same effects.

The difference is the power level. A typical cellphone puts out from 2.5 to 3.6 watts of power--a portion of which ends up absorbed into your ear. A small microwave oven starts at about 500 watts.

But it is enough that when I am way out in the boonies trying to use my cellphone at the limits of it's range and it cranks up the power to max, I can indeed feel my ear and head warming up on that side.

Most TV remotes use IR (infrared light beams), and flashlights run on direct current--no EMR to speak of.

Desert Cat said...

Ok, technically light is EMR yes, but far far outside the microwave range.

Chris Rywalt said...

That was my point, DC. It's all electromagnetic radiation. Saying "It's the same stuff microwave ovens use to cook your food!" is wildly misleading, because you could just as easily say your remote control also uses the same stuff. Obviously it's the power that counts, not the transmission medium.

Chris Rywalt said...

DC sez:
technically light is EMR

By the way: THERE'S NO TECHNICALLY ABOUT IT! Light IS electromagnetic radiation, just like microwaves, x-rays, infrared, ultraviolet, radio waves, and all of that.

Technically indeed.

Desert Cat said...

But my point is, there is more similarity than just the fact that it is EMR. It is EMR in the same wavelength range as microwave ovens. That similarity is important because it is in that range that the heating effects commonly associated with microwave ovens occurs.

Chris Rywalt said...

Argh. The heating effects occur at ALL wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, because the heating is caused by oscillation of molecules in an electromagnetic field. Radio and TV broadcasts work because of this.

The question is whether the temperature increase is noticeable or not. The oscillation induced in water (as in human bodies) by radio waves is so diffuse (because of the low frequencies) that it's easily washed out by other movements, like breathing. As the frequency increases, of course, the oscillation increases. Which brings us, eventually, to microwaves, followed by infrared, followed by light. After that, we're into ionizing radiation.

So, again, tying cellphones to microwave ovens is absurd. Do they use similar frequencies? Yes. Does that have anything to do with similar effects? No.

Cooking your ear. Yeah, okay.

If there are any problems with cellphone radiation -- which problems would also attend radio waves and visible light -- it's in non-thermal effects. The fact is, we have almost no idea what electromagnetic fields do to living tissues outside of ionizing effects and thermal effects. The field is wide open.

k said...

Bit by bit, I'm trying to remove every bit of plastic from my life that I can.

The aspartame bit? I was doing some serious Following of Politics back when it was approved by the FDA for human consumption. The story of R. Reagan and his friends at aspartame inventor GD Searle - the company which owned the market on birth control pills - is an interesting one.

However, if you're one of the vast majority of Americans who've elevated Reagan to deity status, it's not a story you'd want to hear or talk about. So I'll only mention one small side point.

When it was found that aspartame seemed to inhibit healthy sexual growth in kids around puberty, this was actually spun from being a health concern, to being a Good Christian Thing to Do. It was said that this would help those days' bad kids Grow Up Straight.

Oddly, this didn't seem to be put forth as a joke, but as a rational point in its favor.

Desert Cat said...

The heating effects occur at ALL wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation,

To a degree, yes, However long radio waves typically pass through solid objects without markedly transferring any of their energy. Very short waves such as light penetrate solid objects very litte if at all. They reflect or are absorbed right at the surface.

Microwaves penetrate solid objects a certain amount but are absorbed to heat the interior of such things as leftover casserole or a human ear.

You'll never actually cook your ear. But it sounds like you've never had a long conversation on a cell phone at the extreme range from the nearest cell. There is a most definitely noticeable heating effect.

Look, I'm not suggesting the hysteria is justified. But you can't really avoid the fact that microwaves do interact with solid objects including living tissues differently than do much longer or shorter waves.

Doom said...

Bah, Reagan was a Democrat until he realized he would never be elected as one. He was an actor after all. *sigh*

However, I was curious about PL's comment about cleaning. ATM, when I do get around to cleaning my 'facilities', I just use bleach. Well, it gets it clean, but... With no windows in there, and a vent which is so-so, it gets a bit odd, bio-chemical-mechanically for me. So, I was curious about the tactics for using castille soap and the rest of the things for cleaning. Not for environmental reasons, I don't believe there is an issue, but for my own sake. I use castille peppermint soap for bod, and lavender soap for my hands in the lavoratory. I guess I am wondering if that isn't a bit thick for cleaning? And, I am curious about how the rest of it works. Is there a site which relates the usage?

Oh, I "fell down" for a bit, then started engineering calculus III (after 4 years off), then had computer problems to include a virus which had transmitted more than I care to know, and allowed full access to my machine, email, maybe my blog, Guild Wars, and whatever else. I've cracked the calculus, give or take (87.5 raw on first test and doing homework without a blink now), and am just getting bookmarks and settings on my computer back, and finally have time to say hello to old friends. *sigh* I still talk too much. Don't worry, I'm going into a self-study of physics in order to take eng physics II after a 5 year hiatus. So, I'll be away again, for a bit.

*kind thoughts toward you all*

prettylady said...

Doom, bleach is not good for you, particularly when it's all over your house and you're breathing the fumes. The soap I use for cleaning is a natural biodegradable brand called Lifetree--fresh & natural bathroom cleaner, lavender. Check your local whole foods store, or online.