I have some real problems with Gordon Hester's recent attack on Paul Brodeur's series of articles in The New Yorker on the hazards of electromagnetic radiation. Hester writes: The use of the term "radiation" by Brodeur is a complete misnomer, by the way - he's talking about fields. Anyone who's taken a high school physics course knows that this is bull -- electromagnetic radiation IS radiation, whether it's ELF 60 Hz radiation from power lines, or X-rays from nuclear reactions. The only difference is wavelength (or frequency, or energy, which are different ways of expressing the same thing). Calling them "fields," and avoiding the term "radiation," is an attempt to mislead the unwary, to put some good "spin" on the story. Sure, you can discuss the electric and magnetic fields separately, but it is NOT a misnomer by any means to refer to the subject as radiation. Hester's piece was the second I read today from CMU. The first was a booklet by M. Granger Morgan, also of the Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy, entitled, "Electric and Magnetic Fields from 60 Hertz Electric Power: What do we know about possible health risks?" The booklet was mentioned in the July issue of the IEEE Spectrum, and is for sale by CMU for $3. The booklet also goes to great pains never to use the word "radiation" in connection with electric power lines, except to say that it's not like X-rays or other forms of "ionizing radiation" (quotes in the original). It also tries to discount epidemiological data that establishes a correlation between ELF radiation and cancers and birth defects, by saying that just because a rooster crows in the morning when the temperature is rising doesn't mean that the rooster CAUSED the temperature to rise. There seems to be a concerted effort on the part of the Dept. of Engineering and Public Policy at CMU to lobby the public that there's nothing to get excited about here, that scientists don't all agree on the interpretation of the data and that therefore we should follow a "prudent" course (they use that word a lot), by which they mean no government regulation at all, just maybe you should put your electric blanket back on the shelf in the closet. To understand why an academic institution would go to such lengths to try to dampen public interest in the health risks of ELF radiation, I had to read the fine print in the front of the booklet, where I discovered that the research was supported, and the production costs of the booklet paid for, by the Electric Power Research Institute, a lobbying arm of the electric power industry in this country. Jan Wolitzky, AT&T Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ; 201 582-2998; mhuxd!wolit (Affiliation given for identification purposes only)
Quoted, from the 18th July editon of the London "Daily Telegraph". Customs 'lose' 35.6 million wine bottles Customs officials admitted yesterday that their computers had "lost" 35,600,000 bottles of wine, destroying the reliability of figures on how much wine Britons are drinking. "We never dreamed the error by Customs could be so enormous," said Mr. Alastair Eadie, chairman of the Wine and Spirit Association, which queried returns dating back to the start of last year. It emerges that the computers developed such a liking for wine that they kept millions of bottles to themselves. Figures were entered correctly, but not released when needed to compile statistics. All wines, apart from small quantities made at home by enthusiasts as a hobby, have to go into bonded warehouses so duty can be charged on them before they are sold. That is why records are kept on computer by the tax collectors. At the start of last year, Customs and Excise updated its computer methods and something went wrong. "All the information went in but not all of it came out again," it was stated. It did not mean that vast quantities of wine escaped duty. That was correctly paid whenever supplies were drawn from bond. It meant sales were grossly understated when official returns were issued at the end of each month. The trade relies on these figures for a nationwide picture of how sales are going. Wine merchants became suspicious as official figures showed sales declining when shop returns suggested otherwise. And the monthly statistics started to suffer delays, being issued later and later. "What's gone wrong?" the Association asked. Now they have the answer. The correction means that wine drinking in Britain rose by more than 3% instead of declining 1% as originally reported by Customs. "This is splendid news," said Mr. Eadie. "And the provisional data for the first quarter of 1989 shows a rise of nearly 5 and-a-half percent compared with the first quarter of last year." Sales of sparkling wines, which includes champagne, alone increased by 22% "Three months is scarcely enough to suggest a trend for 1989 as a whole but they make a fine start." Mr. Eadie said. "Wine trade prospects have definitely brightened considerably."
Confessed computer hacker Kevin Mitnick was sentenced Tuesday to 1 year in prison, followed by three years of "supervised release," the first six months of which will be spent in a residential psychological counseling program, according to an article by Henry Weinstein in the ' Los Angeles Times' 19 July 1989. The 7.5 months Mitnick has spent in custody while charges were pending against him will be credited against his one-year prison sentence. Prosecutor Asst. U.S. Attorney James R. Asperger said, " We think it's a very fair sentence. The sentence shows computer hacking is serious business that can result in jail time."
> o Enhanced deterrence through the ability to hit mobile targets. Unless the Soviets have developed mobile cities this is not deterrence. This is "counterforce". This is "first strike". One of the RISKS of developing such technology is that in a potential East-West conflict situation the opposing forces might implement a "use them or lose them" strategy with respect to their delivery vehicles (as they would say in the DoD). Lee Naish (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There is a RISK in *BECOMING DEPENDENT* on technology, instead of merely using it for efficiency and convenience. (Imagine not having ATMs anymore and having to run to the bank before it closes.) From RISKS-DIGEST 9.4: > Unspecified hardware problems caused 104 brief failures in a new ... > An emergency technical crew was FLOWN IN [emphasis mine] from New Jersey > and worked all night Monday to correct the problem. Wouldn't it have been funny if we REALLY NEEDED the TRACON working in order to fly in to California? Then the emergency crew might have had to take AMTRAK... Jake Livni
I will have very limited time and net access for the next 3.5 weeks (but only a day or two of vacation). If this is a period when mishaps and disasters cry out for RISKS discussions, send in your contributions anyway and I'll get to them whenever possible. PGN
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