Jeff Ackerman: Fallout from cell phones is the least of our worries |

Jeff Ackerman: Fallout from cell phones is the least of our worries

If you are on your cell phone long enough to die from radiation, you probably deserve to.

Just when I thought California’s lawmakers couldn’t possibly regulate us any more than we already are, up pops state Sen. Mark Leno from San Francisco (shocking that a representative from San Francisco wants to regulate, isn’t it?). Leno is one of those guys who actually believes you can regulate stupidity. You know … the kind of lawmaker who thinks we actually need labels on stoves that read: “DO NOT STICK YOUR FACE HERE.”

Lately Leno has been worried about cell phone radiation and not, for example, the state’s $21 billion budget deficit, or 12.3 percent unemployment rate.

Can you spell disconnect?

While there is no scientific evidence that cell phones cause cancer, Leno knows better. He found people from “other parts of the world” who have used cell phones more than a decade and had increased risks of brain tumors. He didn’t say where those people are, or whether they sleep with their cell phones and chickens and maybe their pigs, but I may have run across a few of them in Vietnam. In fact, I saw three or four of them at the airport last week.

I was standing at the urinal and this guy walks up beside me and says, “I love you, too.” I always look straight ahead at the public urinal, because you never know what the guy next to you is up to. But when this guy said he loved me, too, I had to turn and ask. “Are you talking to me?”

“No. Sorry,” he said. “I’m on the phone with my wife.” He was wearing an ear piece on the opposite ear and I just couldn’t see it. I have a friend who wears a cell phone ear piece on the treadmill at the gym. I swear on my mother’s eyeballs.

Washing my hands, I wondered if the guy’s wife knew that he was romancing her while standing at the urinal. Prior to cell phones he would have had to squeeze into a phone booth, or wait until he got home. For some reason he just couldn’t wait to at least flush and wash before reminding her that she was still his Valentine. And you thought “Sleepless in Seattle” was a romantic tear-jerker.

I should have known the guy wasn’t speaking to me. Nobody talks to anyone anymore at airports. They are either talking into their phone gadgets, or texting, or using their laptops.

So most of us just listen in.

“Do you want me to pick up a loaf of bread?” the guy in the bathroom stall asks, while making natural bodily sounds one tends to make inside a bathroom stall.

“Where am I? I’m at the airport,” he says, the person on the other end of the line probably wondering what in God’s name is that background noise. “No. I swear. That was a jet taking off.”

Then there are the business travelers, the ones who feel compelled to remind the rest of us how important they are.

“Yes. I told him to sell a billion shares and he said he’d get back to me in the morning. No … dammit! I said sell, not buy! Okay … headed to Chicago … have Fred meet me there with the financials … if he’s not there, I will be VERY upset. And tell mommy I love her.”

If Leno gets his way, cell phones will have labels and instruction manuals warning us that if we stick the cell phones in our mouths, or under our armpits more than 24 hours at a time, we may start having crazy dreams and perhaps bleeding from the feet, ears and nose.

That, of course, would drive up the cost of cell phones because it costs money to print a 1,000-page manual for a cell phone when there is no need to.

Leno’s bill, they say, is modeled after one being considered at San Francisco City Hall that would require the radiation numbers to be posted in stores that sell phones and in a font at least as large as the printed price (RADIATION … ON SALE FOR JUST $99.99). And … yes … San Francisco used to be a great city before the do-gooders started telling everyone else what to do and how to do it.

Cell phones pose far greater risks than a little radiation. Someone, for example, always knows where you are. No need to stick tracking devises into our brain while we are sleeping anymore (the government stopped doing that last May). Google Earth can help Big Brother pinpoint our location right down to the third bathroom stall from the right.

“Yes. We have located Ackerman. He is in the bathroom and he appears to be talking to someone. No … wait a minute … he’s singing. It sounds like Moon River. We’ll zoom in for a closer look.”

Jeff Ackerman is the editor/publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299 or

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