Mobile phone base antenna radiation and Bees

April 17th, 2007 § 2

I am always lecturing my friends and girlfriends to not spend so much time talking on their mobile phones. I often hang up on them after a few minutes as I get a headache from speaking on the mobile phone. It all goes back to when I had to supervise a set of television commercials in the Moscow countryside but had to prep an expensive hair commercial with the London office of Grey Advertising at the same time. Only a very powerful telephone would hold the signal. A model from Siemens was found. It worked and I was able to talk for half an hour at a time if necessary. Signal clear as day. I was delirious and spaced out afterwards. To my everlasting good fortune that telephone was subsequently lost in the back of a black cab (and no the cabby didn’t return it) while on a junket to London related to said hair commercial.

Curiously cellphone studies with negative results – cancer, loss of brain capacity – for the industry lead to research funding removal and persecution. At the same time the big cellphone and mobile network providers are taking out huge liability insurance contracts. I don’t have the time now to document the above but at one point I did do the research and will stand by those statements.

Sticking a mini-microwave beside your head is not going to improve your health or mind. End of story.

It turns out that cellphones are not only harmful to people but absolutely fatal to bees.

Radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees’ navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive’s inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London’s biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned….

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world’s crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, “man would have only four years of life left”….

German research has long shown that bees’ behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a “hint” to a possible cause.

Birds and the bees sounds better.

The spread of the problem sounds likely to me. Blanket coverage by cell phone base antennas came first in the United States.

I imagine that the base antenna has to be quite close to the hive (or on the route to food) to cause this problem.

Countries with limited cellphone converage will be fruitful.

Perhaps mankind will eventually learn not to believe big industries claims for healthiness.

Cigarette manufacturers claimed for decades that smoking was good for your health, before finally admitting that it was neither bad nor good. Only after decades of lawsuits did they concede the obvious which is that smoking is bad for your health.

My mother told me this story from her childhood in Vancouver.

They used to go to Woodwards to do their shopping. In the shoe department, there was a very neat machine that the kids liked to play with. Put your foot under a panel and then pulled a lever. On a screen in front of your eyes, you could see the bones of your feet.

You could use it as often and long as you liked. The machine was there to help the shoe saleman scientifically find you the right pair of shoes.

If you haven’t guessed already, the machine was an xray machine. And children were spending whole minutes radiating themselves with no lead protection.

It was only a few years later that Woodwards removed the xray machine. I hope not too many of those children have bone or blood cancer now.

Later in the same article some other cellphone studies are cited:

Blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today’s teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives.

If you value the long term health of your brain, don’t use your cellphone for more than a minute or two at a time!

While you are at it, stop believing the claims of major companies that their products are good for you or your dog. They just want your money. As long as your dog doesn’t up and outright die, they don’t mind how sick the pooch might get eating their manufactured poison. But that’s a story for another day.

Gun Laws, Virginia Tech and Glenn Reynolds

April 17th, 2007 § 2

virginia tech shooting
virginia tech shooting

Another shooting tragedy in an American educational institution. What is wrong with Americans? Can they not see that loose access to firearms kills? It seems Americans will never learn. G.W. Bush’s first official reaction was to defend free access to handguns:

The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.

Tell your concerns to the madman with a gun in his hand, Mr. Bush. While the bodies are still warm, right wing web pundit Glenn Reynolds opines that even less restrictive gun laws would have saved lives in Virginia.

These things do seem to take place in locations where it’s not legal for people with carry permits to carry guns, though, and I believe that’s the case where the Virginia Tech campus is concerned. I certainly wish that someone had been in a position to shoot this guy at the outset…

Another American takes Glenn Reynolds hypothesis to its logical conclusion. The consequences are frightening:

Not that I want to dive into the politics of this right away, either, but GR’s point is idiotic – there are SO many reasons you wouldn’t want the students to be carrying guns. If the law-abiding student failed to take down the attacker, the attacker would now have an additional firearm – and no real need to reload. Furthermore, picture an entire campus loaded with armed students. Once the first shots go off, you would potentially have dozens of students waving guns in the hall. They’d be just as likely to open fire on each other than on the actual murderer, not to mention all the additional people who could die in the crossfire. Also, the police would have a horrible, horrible time trying to separate friend from foe. This oversimplified “if everyone had guns, this wouldn’t have happened” attitude is terribly wrong.

Basically the more guns on hand, the worse a blood bath would be.

Firearms result in deaths from domestic violence (in this case as well) and facilitate murderous rampages by crazed people.

It’s all well and good to say people should not ever be crazed. But it happens. One cannot outlaw human nature.

When there are no guns handy, your crazed person has limited access to weapons of immediate destruction. He or she can only grab an automobile and ram into somebody else (a few dead at worse). He or she might come after people with a knife or an axe. Neither of those variants will result in anything like the death toll of a crazed person with a firearm.

virginia tech candlelight vigil
virginia tech candlelight vigil – photo: spector

The NRA argument that the right to bear arms protects the population of the United States from military dictatorship was preposterous from the beginning and has since been proven wrong.

In any case, the military dictatorship has much bigger guns now. They have tanks, APC, grenade launchers, sonic blasters and war planes. What do they care about a few disgruntled citizens with pistols. It just gives the government an excuse to shoot dissenters dead rather than have to imprison and try them in an open court of law.

According to the philosophy behind the original right to bear arms, Americans should be encouraging people to own their own tanks and warplanes, to protect themselves from tyranny. Anything less defeats the purpose of the right.

The politically correct thing to say here would be to express grief for the fallen. Still, it’s difficult when their elected leaders continue to support the policies. Something like feeling empathy for the chronic drunk driver whose ran over his own child while intoxicated at the wheel. Stop drinking and driving!

The American "liberation" of Iraq has resulted in daily death counts from Baghdad as high as those of this particular tragedy.

I don’t and won’t buy into the xenophobic and diabolical belief that American or British or Israeli lives are somehow more sacrosanct than those of other peoples, whether Iraqi, Palestinian or African.

So given the daily death toll in Iraq, I can’t count this day as any more tragic than another, apart from Americans unrelenting stupidity about gun control

Reality call to What’s with the puff piece on Future Media Architects?

April 8th, 2007 § 0

I’ve been doing some domain research lately for One of the great sources of information for the domain industry is an online publication called DNJournal which does a weekly roundup of the top domains sales.

Very useful information. DNJournal also publish a number of interviews with top domainers (people whose primary economic activity is buying and selling domain names).

Reality call to What's with the puff piece on Future Media Architects? Continues »

LIfe Insurance Profits: One Third of All LIfe Insurance Policies Go Unpaid

April 5th, 2007 § 0

Have you ever wondered how life insurance companies make so much money when the payouts are so high?

Check out this info about the demutualization of Sun Life-Clarica and missing policy holder claims:

LIfe Insurance Profits: One Third of All LIfe Insurance Policies Go Unpaid Continues »

Looking for a robust Toronto based proxy

April 5th, 2007 § 0

Just put up a long writeup on proxy guidelines. over on

If anybody has a robust Toronto based proxy I could use, I am still looking.

I would like the Toronto proxy to work with both Google and Yahoo search.

SeoBook – Aaron Wall’s PDF woes properly formatting an eBook

April 5th, 2007 § 0

I have a few projects to turn into special reports or even books. I want these documents:

  • to look good
  • to include clickable links which work in both Acrobat and Mac OS X preview
  • to be navigatable from the table of contents and/or index

The only PDF I’ve ever owned which got all of these things right (apart from a couple of manuals from Apple for high end programs like Final Cut Pro – if Apple couldn’t get it right for a $1000 application there’d be no hope) – is Aaron Wall’s SeoBook.

SEOBook is the best selling and best book on SEO. What’s great about SEOBook is that is based on real world experience and Aaron has no particular axe to grind in favour of any single SEO technique. A lot of the other books about SEO are written by either programmers or people selling SEO software or link building networks.

The other good thing about SEOBook are the attractive green graphics and professional appearance of the document.

Not only does Aaron’s SEOBook look great bit it is fully navigable. Aaron has added a great index as well. SeoBook is basically the ideal PDF book.

So I turned to Aaron to get instruction on how to easily create such a great PDF document, by doing a search on his weblog at

SeoBook - Aaron Wall's PDF woes properly formatting an eBook Continues »

Very Cool GTD (Getting Things Done) Application for Mac OS X: iGTD

April 5th, 2007 § 3

Getting Things Done

I’ve mentioned David Allen’s Getting Things Done in the past. It’s a great introduction to one man’s system for organising work. David Allen is a highly esteemed productivity consultant and GTD was written in the prime of his worklife.

Strangely, GTD has become something a cult spawning entire websites devoted to Allen’s methods.

When starting to come to grips with running a company of five instead of two, the book was a good starting point for redoing my systems.

Personally I think GTD a little bit of overkill. I’m not sure one can function as tightly roped down as Allen wants one to be. It kind of fits the Polo shirt and place in the suburbs and on the golf course middle manager but I’m not sure it would do for Michaelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci.

There have been interesting attempts to bring GTD to the web browser via javascript but there was too much data loss to make that a viable solution.

For those who are into GTD and on Mac OS X, a Polish programmer has put out a lovely Cocoa version for free called iGTD.

You are a busy person, aren’t you? And there’s an easy way to track all things that have to be done… and to get those things done! iGTD takes some concepts from Getting Things Done methodology and makes them easy to understand and use in your every day life.

It’s a gorgeous application. Simple icons, standard OS interface widgets.


Other pluses. Feature: iGTD uses the existing databases for iCal and Address Book. Benefit: No duplicate data entry – finally an application designer figured that one out. Feature: Linking to documents in the Finder. Benefit: No hunting for the missing file when you need to get to work. Feature: Instant Task Search. Benefit: Easy to find your task notes quickly if you are on the phone and have to look something up (although GTD rules out the telephone most of the time!).

Still I’m not going to try to move into iGTD myself. At least not now. I don’t find time spent overorganising brings commensurate dividends (oh if I could have the months of my life back spent playing around with a PDA (Palm) before 3 years later moving back to a simple black book).

But if you are in the mood for reorganising from the ground up, iGTD would be a good place to start.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has put the full organisation into iGTD about database reliability under stress and whether iGTD brings a productivity boost over the long run.

Google Images, Getty and the Stock Photography Business

April 4th, 2007 § 0

Dan Heller doesn’t seem to think that any company can dominate the stock photo market. Getty Images is making a play now by entering the low end in force (they have the middle and middle-high end under control).

Getty’s objective is less about controlling the images as it is about controlling the places that sell them. And while they may achieve a short-term monopoly on certain distribution outlets, which may result in higher prices for some small specialty markets, that short honeymoon period for Getty will end once photo-sharing sites become new outlets for photographers where the open market can decide their rates. A photographer that may be working exclusively with an agency now will eventually find those greener pastures. Entities that currently have “exclusive” arrangements with agencies may also find those relationships aren’t as valuable.

He has a point. A lot of people find my images on Google. Some people have licensed them. It just takes a single person or company to come up with a good photo catalogue and sales system and search itself can control sales.

Google Images, Getty and the Stock Photography Business Continues »