The Coastal Post - June, 1997

Technology Marches On

O2 Good For You?

By Jim Scanlon

Are your eyes sore? Is your throat raw? Are you gasping for breath from acrid air? Well just hold on, the genius of modern entrepreneurial spirit is coming to the rescue! Oxygen bars are are springing up throughout Southern California which, according to the Los Angeles Times will give you a quick boost of energy to face the rigors modern life and the competitive market place.

While residents of South Central and East LA may continue to stop at the local Korean liquor store for a twelve pack of Bud or a bottle of El Cheapo muscatel, residents of West Hollywood will be able to boost alertness, fight fatigue, stop headaches, and combat stress with whiffs of pure O2. You can be like pro football players on the sidelines! One imagines that pure H2O will go with the O2, and even perhaps sprout juice with delicious chlorophyll (C55H72MgN4O5)

Three O2 Spas are also scheduled to open in Manhattan, which one supposes will feature "O2 With Attitude!" Right now, I'm terribly sorry I deleted a piece of junk e-mail spam purporting to show that ozone (O3) is highly therapeutic. Ozone is often what causes your sore throat, sore eyes and raspy lungs. It is poisonous and explosive!

Cell Phones Bad For You?

After Republican campaign advisor Lee Atwater died from a brain tumor located just behind his ear, exactly under the spot where the ear piece of his cell phone rested, there was a flurry of frightened interest in the connection between cell phones and brain cancer.

You may remember Atwater as the originator of the Willie Horton ad campaign, which was credited helping defeat Michael Dukakis in his bid for president. (Atwater apologized to Dukakis before he died--but not to Willie Horton!)

Well the subject has come up again in Australia, of all places. Researchers in Sydney exposed specially bred mice to microwave pulses similar to those experienced by cell phone users and the furry little creatures exposed had twice the rate of immune cell cancers as those not exposed. The mice were bred so as to be susceptible to lymphoma--cancer of the white blood cells. Presumably, if you have a family history of lymphomas, you might want to get rid of your cell phone pronto! Or you can wait five years for researchers to tell you that there are still "uncertainties in the data" and that "more testing--and funding--are needed." There was no indication that the stricken mice acted as if they might be trying to apologize to anyone for something.

According to New Scientist (10 May, 1997) a UN health official in Geneva said," If the results of this study can be replicated, we have got to be seriously concerned." One suspects that there will not be any great rush to replicate this study.

Good Grief-Cyberdeath and Cybermourning

A cyber creature hatches from an egg on a liquid crystal screen and it grows steadily. Your creature requires constant care and attention and will beep or bleat plaintively to draw your attention to its cyber needs. If you neglect it for more that six hours, it dies. Well, sort of...

Yes, that is the problem with a Japanese import, the Tamagotchi ("Cute Little Egg" in Japanese) Cyberpet, from the Bandai Corporation which brings you high tech, high end video games and "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." Children get upset when their little creature dies. If it is not fed and played with enough, if its pixilated droppings are not cleaned, if it's happiness meter is low, it "sprouts wings and is gone forever." The manufacturer says it "returns to its home planet millions of miles away".

According to a report in the Living Arts section of the New York Times (May 22, 1997) the Japanese pet does not sprout wings and fly away, but a tombstone with a cross appears.

This high tech pet has been banned in several US school districts because it became a distraction when children were constantly checking them, and seeming more concerned with the pet than with succeeding in school. Some parents have been forced to baby sit the banned creatures while their children were at school..

One girl who had been awakened at 4 in the morning, said "I wanted it to die!" but she would not commit cyberinfantacide. She apparently understood prevention and said she would not reset the egg when it reached the end of its "natural" cyber life cycle.

Of course, while adults may want to teach children responsibility, caring, and nurturing, the bleeping of the creatures and the honest cybercidal indifference of children so used to the pixilated death of blips on TV and computer screens may be what is really frightening school officials and parents.

Newer models are said to be equipped with pacifier-like "pause" buttons which should help make the Tamagotchi a mega success.

Seismic Mystery & Terror Cult In Australia

Was it a meteorite, and earthquake of a terrorist mega bomb? I got a strange electronic press release from the National Science Foundation reporting that in 1993 Australian Aborigines saw a blazing object streak through the night sky and crash, shaking the dry ground of the Aussie Outback.

What got US scientists interested was the fact that a Japanese religious group named Aum Shinrikyo owned a large ranch nearby and was known to be testing weapons and mining uranium. ( I guess they were nuclear monks or something). This group was later accused of murdering a lawyer and his wife and their small baby whose bodies were never found. They released suffocating nerve gas on a sleeping village and on subway riders, killing several, injuring hundreds, terrorizing all of Japan and frightening the rest of the world.

American scientists studying seismic records think it might have been a meteor, but since they do not have a digital record of a meteor impact and haven't been able to find a crater the size of a football field, they are not sure.

A report on the incident "Earthquake Sources: Processes and New Observations," will be presented at the Spring Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Baltimore May 28, 1997.

Some say coincidence. I say-not!