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City-Provided Wi-Fi Rejected Over "Health Concerns"

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the just-put-on-the-tinfoil-hat-and-it-will-be-all-better dept.

Wireless Networking 360

exphose writes "A small, hippie-friendly town in northern California, Sebastopol, had made an agreement with Sonic.net to provide free Wi-Fi across the downtown area. However, not everyone in town was pleased with the arrangement. According to Sebastopol Mayor Craig Litwin, citizens had voiced concerns that 'create enough suspicion that there may be a health hazard' and so they canceled their contract with Sonic.net. Some more details are at the blog of Sonic.net's CEO."

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360 comments

Take off and nuke the site from orbit. (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | about 6 years ago | (#22867888)

Its the only way to be sure.

Teach her some physics. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868488)

Well, according to the agenda of the council meeting [sebastopol.ca.us], this 'rethink' was requested by council member Linda Kelley (email: lkelley@sonic.net). Maybe a bit of physics 101 would help her to reconsider.

Lay off the weed, man! (5, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 6 years ago | (#22867902)

It's time to lay off the weed, me thinks. WiFi signals are as harmless as any other radio signal. I suppose they may try to get FM and AM radio blocked, as well? I am curious, though, if these same people just happen to be carrying cell phones.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#22867924)

In his science fiction novel Firestar [amazon.com] , Michael Flynn points to the hysteria over electric blankets as proof that a large portion of society is too dumb to appreciate technological advance.

And fifteen years ago there were already fears that power lines were making us ill. If they caused long term effects, surely some would have manifested themselves in the meantime, but it all just looks like fear over nothing.

Active hams spend a great deal of their life around RF. Has there even been any suggestions that they develop certain illnesses more than the average population?

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (2, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 6 years ago | (#22868042)

Actually, it's more than just whether a signal is AC/RF. It also depends on the power level and the frequency.

There continue to be links between cell phone use and brain tumors and, though I haven't heard anything recently about power lines, I would not buy a house near high voltage lines.

On the other hand, I think the wireless signals are at a level that they shouldn't be much, if any, issue. I don't hold my computer next to my head and the base station power level just isn't that high - nor is it mounted right next to my bed.

But there are some signals that there is enough evidence of harm that people ought to be careful.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (4, Interesting)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | about 6 years ago | (#22868098)

You say that there are links between cellphone use and brain tumors but it seems that for every study claiming that, there is a study claiming there is no link.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (3, Insightful)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | about 6 years ago | (#22868138)

You say that there are links between cellphone use and brain tumors but it seems that for every study claiming that, there is a study claiming there is no link.

Who funded or underwrote the studies? I don't know.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (5, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | about 6 years ago | (#22868266)

There have been som studies funded by the UK Department of Health which showed no convincing results from cellphones. Now, they migh, of course, be in the pocket of the cellphome manufacturers, like they might be in the pocket of the drug manufacturers. But with a socialised health service, they are the people who are going to end up payiong the first level, purely medical, costs of any ill effects that there may be. Whcih suggests to me that, if they were going to err, they would be likely to err in the direction of overcaution rather than recklessness.

All the accusations against cellphones have been generally anecdotal i.e. a number of people have been found who were both heavy cellphone users and got brain tumours. But when large scale statistical studues are done, these "clusters" disappear. If you ask averybody with a tumour whether they were a heavy cellphone user, some will say yes. Probably more than really are, becasue moderate users will tend to judge themselves heavier in order to have something to blame for their tragedy - randomness seems much more frightening that a technological accident.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (2)

hardburn (141468) | about 6 years ago | (#22868464)

If the procedure is correct, the data is correct, and the logic is correct, then the conclusions will also be correct. It doesn't matter who paid for it.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1, Informative)

egomaniac (105476) | about 6 years ago | (#22868526)

While this is true, it's much easier to be sure that the data isn't falsified and the logic is sound if it was paid for by a disinterested entity.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868112)

I'm torn with this issue. On the one hand, I don't want Wi-Fi development limited if it turns out that the 2.4GhZ spectrum causes CANCER. But on the OTHER hand, I would really draw a lot of comfort knowing that Yakkity B SoccerMum is endangering herself, instead of the rest of us with this inability to operate a small truck and STFU at the same time.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (4, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | about 6 years ago | (#22868148)

Turns out that any connection between power lines and increased cancer rates was always a false positive. In all cases, it was mitigated by some other cause, such as the community was getting it's water from an aquifer downstream from an old chemical dump. The initial research which made the connection, was falsified, and the scientist, well, he's not doing research any more.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 6 years ago | (#22868556)

"he initial research which made the connection, was falsified, and the scientist, well, he's not doing research any more."

Suer he's not doing research on the autism/vaccination link?

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (4, Insightful)

jridley (9305) | about 6 years ago | (#22868290)

I bought and live in a house near high voltage lines. Remember the distance-squared law? If you're worried about high voltage power lines 400 feet from a house, you should be very concerned about the 110v 2 feet away in the wall, and absolutely terrified by an electric blanket a fraction of an inch away!

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

polar red (215081) | about 6 years ago | (#22868414)

I dunno, there are stories that when you hold up a tube lamp under a high-voltage-line, it will light up, anyone know anything 'bout that ?

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#22868692)

Are you a tube lamp? No? Then don't worry about it.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

gomiam (587421) | about 6 years ago | (#22868788)

Do you disturb the electromagnetic fields you walk through? Then you might have to worry about it. Then again, studies concluding that you don't really need to worry are quite more common than those concluding that there is a real risk: even if it isn't a discriminating factor, it might be pointing in the right direction.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

russotto (537200) | about 6 years ago | (#22868732)

Yes, a tube lamp will light up under a high voltage line. But, if you walk across a carpet holding a tube lamp, it will light up (intermittently). Ban carpets!

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

mikael (484) | about 6 years ago | (#22868780)

But, if you walk across a carpet holding a tube lamp, it will light up (intermittently). Ban carpets!

Cool! A new way to charge up battery powered devices like cellphones and laptops.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | about 6 years ago | (#22868420)

There continue to be links between cell phone use and brain tumors and, though I haven't heard anything recently about power lines, I would not buy a house near high voltage lines.

Inverse square law. You get orders of magnitude less EM radiation from the 12KV power lines in your backyard, than the 120V wires running through your house.

Though I would like to disagree with the GP, your comment is a good example of what the GP was talking about.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 6 years ago | (#22868744)


In his science fiction novel Firestar , Michael Flynn points to the hysteria over electric blankets as proof that a large portion of society is too dumb to appreciate technological advance.

It's not really a question of smarts, but more to do with a general distrust of the government and science. Government lies and deceives all the time, as we've seen in the last 7 1/4 years. Science is poorly presented by the mass media where "study X says A causes cancer." then the next year "Study Y says A doesn't cause cancer". All the important details are left out, like maybe Study Y had a small sample size, and was conducted in rats. So people get trained to distrust anything they hear, even if it's become a well established "fact".

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#22867950)

Well, these guys aren't the only ones [google.com]. Of course, this controversy has been raging for quite sometime over cordless phones, radios, microwaves and other devices that make use of low-level radiation. I doubt that this low-level radiation is causing any sort of severe problems in most people, especially considering that we're constantly being exposed to low levels of background radiation, and higher levels of radiation from the Sun.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#22868022)

All I can hear is the Adam Smith song from South Park.

Dum dum dum dum dumb!

You know, being born will get you killed. Faith, cynicism, not going to change it either way. Bruce really wasn't particularly deep or insightful there...

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (2, Informative)

zopf (897522) | about 6 years ago | (#22868502)

er, Joseph Smith? I don't think South Park had anything against the Wealth of Nations...

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (4, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | about 6 years ago | (#22868262)

considering that we're constantly being exposed to low levels of background radiation, and higher levels of radiation from the Sun.

You know, you might have hit it right on the spot there. People seem to confuse different types of radiation. They assume that just because it's called "radiation", it's the same as the ionizing radiation from the earth and from those evil nucular power stations! It's completely different. A campfire radiates heat, that doesn't mean it will give you cancer.

Electromagnetic radiation doesn't even begin to affect us until they are about one million times higher in frequency than cellphones and wifi. Then we're talking about UV-light, and we have a pretty strong source of that hanging over our heads during the day. I never see EM-sensitive people complain about the sun.

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (2, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | about 6 years ago | (#22868404)

Every weekend scores of millions of people put on special clothes congregate in special buildings and perform goofy rituals in order to secure approval in an non existent being. I think we can let some little hippy community slide on the not wanting the Wi-Fi thing, regardless of how stupid it may be.

Now if they start trying to pass national referendums banning Wi-Fi on Sundays or some shit like that...

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868524)

Bhima.Pandava@gmail.com

Re:Lay off the weed, man! (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 6 years ago | (#22868408)

I recently lived in nearby Berkeley, where the cell phone reception is generally terrible because the city government has blocked installation of new transceivers for something like a decade, due to fear of health effects. I imagine the people of Sebastopol who complained about the wifi are probably the same way about cell phones.

OMG TEH RF (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 6 years ago | (#22867912)

If they're so worried, they should probably get rid of cell phone towers, and petition radio and television broadcasters to turn off their transmitters, too?

well, fortunately (5, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | about 6 years ago | (#22867918)

Fortunately, non-free WiFi and non-open WiFi doesn't have the same kinds of health hazards.

Re:well, fortunately (2, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#22867994)

However, running aircrack-ng may result in your neighbour coming over to beat the crap out of you.

Re:well, fortunately (1)

kextyn (961845) | about 6 years ago | (#22867998)

Thank god. For a minute there I thought I'd have to build a faraday cage in my apartment.

from the blog (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 6 years ago | (#22867920)

When it's at it's highest power level, you hold it next to your head to conduct a conversation. Ever notice that your skin gets warm after a long call? That's the only side effect of RF energy - warming.
Uh I thought it was because it's a computer that has no way to shed heat other than to bleed it out into the air / someone's face.

Re:from the blog (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#22868020)

Yes. There is absolutely *no way* that a mobile phone can cause appreciable RF heating. A microwave oven heats water, because it's an incredibly powerful microwave source at a very specific frequency focused into a resonant metal box. A mobile phone typically produces 1/1000th as much power, and spreads it as evenly as possible around the antenna.

Re:from the blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868350)

A microwave oven heats water, because it's an incredibly powerful microwave source at a very specific frequency focused into a resonant metal box.

There's nothing special about the frequency used in microwaves. Anything 2-3 GHz would work the same. Sure the magnetron and waveguide would have to change size, but the cooking chamber and the effect on water would be the same. It's just an urban legend that water resonates at 2.4 GHz.

The world is flat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868386)

The world is flat. If you sail westward, you'll fall off the edge.

The world is round. We'll sail westward and arrive in India from the east.

Think carefully before you choose a side.

Re:from the blog (1)

petecarlson (457202) | about 6 years ago | (#22868664)


A mobile phone typically produces 1/1000th as much power, and spreads it as evenly as possible around the antenna.

That would be a theoretical 0db antenna. In the real world, antennas have gain which focuses the rf output. Most cell antennas have gain of about 1db which isn't much.

Re:from the blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868070)

Oh and not to mention, your own body heat heating the phone!

I guess corded receivers have been slowly irradiating us for years as well!

Re:from the blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868426)

I think you'll find that most of that heat comes from the face and can't escape because someone's holding a phone in the way.

Maybe we should avoid mobile phones - because we're bad for them.

Re:from the blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868748)

The main source of heat in a cell phone is the RF Power Amp. They are only about 50 percent efficient. That means a 1 Watt phone is radiating 1 Watt of IR heat during transmission. That is plenty to warm your face, but no different than other sources of IR radiation. Compare that with your 1500 Watt hair dryer and you will realize that you are in no danger.

I don't want to have to wear a tin foil hat (2, Funny)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | about 6 years ago | (#22867928)

When I'm downloading naked pictures of Bea Arthur

Re:I don't want to have to wear a tin foil hat (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 6 years ago | (#22867960)

When I'm downloading naked pictures of Bea Arthur
Actually, according to this (http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/) study by some bored MIT students, the tin foil hat would HELP you to receive said pictures more effectively, possibly.

Re:I don't want to have to wear a tin foil hat (2, Funny)

HairyCanary (688865) | about 6 years ago | (#22868544)

Don't mix up aluminum foil and tin foil, they are very different things...

Stupid hippies (4, Funny)

Nursie (632944) | about 6 years ago | (#22867934)

So, something with far less power than a cell phone system and you've bought the hype.

Quick, lets go sell them some electromagnetic wave blocking paint, we could make a fortune.

Re:Stupid hippies (4, Funny)

RHSC (1019802) | about 6 years ago | (#22868284)

hippies don't have money. It smells too much like progress and not enough like hippy ass.

Re:Stupid hippies (1)

BillGod (639198) | about 6 years ago | (#22868662)

As Cartman would say "Hippies, all they can talk about is saving the earth. But all they do is smoke pot and smell bad."

maurer is a fraud? (1)

v1 (525388) | about 6 years ago | (#22867944)

When I hear someone saying they can feel or be adversely affected by radio waves I want to yell 'quack' but I suppose that's not the right term for it. Just plain batty? I'd love to see her get some "professional evaluation" to quantify her state of mind. I suppose what you call it depends on whether you think they're just putting on a show, or honestly believe it.

Re:maurer is a fraud? (2, Interesting)

asuffield (111848) | about 6 years ago | (#22867980)

When I hear someone saying they can feel or be adversely affected by radio waves I want to yell 'quack' but I suppose that's not the right term for it. Just plain batty?


My bet is on "paid by a telecom". They hate the idea of there being more than one supplier for any given house.

Re:maurer is a fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868120)

I once saw a similar case on a TV news report. The symptoms the woman described struck me as being similar to a panic attack. Once she had persuaded herself that she was being affected by WiFi/Cellphones, her brain would do the rest of the work for her, convincing her she had headaches, dizziness, nausea, tingling in her arms and legs and so on. I needn't mention that in a blind test she was proven to be unaffected by WiFi.

I don't like condemning such people with language like 'quack' and 'batty'. I, myself have suffered from panic attacks. These are real people with real psychological problems. They need to be helped. They don't need to be directing civil policy though.

Re:maurer is a fraud? (4, Insightful)

Cheesey (70139) | about 6 years ago | (#22868564)

She should call James Randi, since she apparently has the paranormal ability to detect radio waves. For $1m, she could buy herself a nice big Faraday cage.

FM radio? TV? (1)

Winckle (870180) | about 6 years ago | (#22867952)

Well hey, lets just get rid of microwave ovens, radio stations, television signals and police radios.

In fact this technology seems so dangerous I think we should just go back to living in caves.

Re:FM radio? TV? (5, Funny)

Swampash (1131503) | about 6 years ago | (#22867988)

Well hey, lets just get rid of microwave ovens, radio stations, television signals and police radios.

You're thinking too small.

Hint: massive thermonuclear reaction taking place above our heads every day, subjecting the Earth and everything on it to almost inconceivably powerful doses of electromagnetic energy.

Re:FM radio? TV? (3, Funny)

Kamineko (851857) | about 6 years ago | (#22868122)

Hint: massive thermonuclear reaction taking place above our heads every day, subjecting the Earth and everything on it to almost inconceivably powerful doses of electromagnetic energy.
You reckless supervillain bastard! Do you think you could create something like that and get away with it? HMM?

Kinda irrelevant (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#22868560)

Disclaimer: I'm not among the "electrosensitive" crowd, and I couldn't care less about routers and cell-phones.

That said, I find the "but there's a big nuke overhead!!!" argument just as bunk.

The fact is: you don't get all the frequencies from that ball of light. There's this thick atmosphere, including such layers as the ozone layer and the ionosphere. Plus such things as the water in the atmosphere which are just as good there at absorbing a certain band of microwaves, as, well, when you heat water in your microwave. These things absorb almost anything to the left of infrared or to the right of UV-B.

Let's just say there's a reason why they worry about shielding the craft in which they'll send a man to mars. Or why the gamma ray telescopes are put in orbit, and not at ground level. Or why over-the-horizon radar can actually see beyond the horizon, by bouncing the signal on the ionosphere. It's just as almost-opaque to those signals from the other side, you know.

So, yes, you have a big nuke over your head, but you also have some hundreds of kilometres of damn good shielding between you and it. Most frequencies outside the visible spectrum, or nearby, you're _not_ getting the full radiation of that nuke. You're getting them in homeopathic doses, if at all.

Even briefer: It doesn't prove what you think it proves. Sorry. It's as irrelevant as saying that heat can't kill because you have billions of tons of molten lava under your feet and it hasn't killey you yet.

Re:FM radio? TV? (2, Informative)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 6 years ago | (#22868016)

Well, the hippies want us all to live in caves. Hunting wouldn't be allowed as it's not animal friendly. You can squat bare-assed in the dirt, but wiping your ass afterwards would only be allowed if the leaves you use were already dead. No fire either because that isn't friendly to our woodland friends because we would be destroying a vital piece of their habitat... a few sticks. In a way, that means we would go back to a pre-caveman society.

Dirty... Worthless... Hippies!

Re:FM radio? TV? (1)

kextyn (961845) | about 6 years ago | (#22868026)

Well I would be all for letting the hippies live like that. Surely they will all die shortly and won't be able to procreate.

Re:FM radio? TV? (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | about 6 years ago | (#22868134)

...I think we should just go back to living in caves.
have you been in a cave? those stalactites are scary! what if one were to fall down and kill/maim you! trees are no good either some of them are huge! no i'm afraid that caves nor forests are safe enough for these people.

Re:FM radio? TV? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 6 years ago | (#22868194)

Caves are a poor choice. Radiation levels in a cave are higher (naturally occuring background from the rock itself). Have to live in grass huts and never go out in the mid-day sun to minimize exposure to UV.

"Health" Concerns? (4, Interesting)

blcamp (211756) | about 6 years ago | (#22867976)


Could it be that someone there is worried about their own FINANCIAL "health" instead?

Does someone there have a vested intere$t in making sure this deal fell through?

As with anything else... follow the money.

Re:"Health" Concerns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868204)

Oh, I see what you did there! You used a dollar sign in place of an "s" in "interest". My mind is blown, good sir! I award you the award for witty comment of the day award. Award.

Re:"Health" Concerns? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868316)

Maybe the residents wanted 'free' internet (the way it should be). Sonic.net wanted to charge them to provide wi-fi. So, I'm sure they don't have a problem with Panera Bread providing free internet or some other coffee shop, but when a corporation wants to setup a city-wide wi-fi and make profits off of the citizens is when problems happen.

Electrickery next (4, Funny)

gsslay (807818) | about 6 years ago | (#22867978)

What about that Electrickery, man? No one knows how it really works, and it, like, leaks out of the cables if you don't plug something in at the socket. And then you have pools of it lying about your floor, except you can't see it. And everyone knows things you can't see are evil, man.

Turn that shit off back at the town limits. It's the only way to be safe.

Now where's my tinfoil bandana?

Forget Hats - think Insulation (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#22867986)

Well, since it seems to be the tinfoil crazy hat people that want to kill these sorts of projects, why don't we pass a law.

Lets force everyone who obsesses about this sort of health issue to insulate their homes with a layer of tinfoil - it would really be in their best interests (according to their beliefs)...

I wonder if these people use paypass cards (RFID in credit cards, etc) ... maybe someone should tell them to stay away from those readers too.

Re:Forget Hats - think Insulation (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 6 years ago | (#22868030)

Unfortunately, many of those people would not have the common sense to ground the tinfoil so it would act like a Faraday Cage. Instead, it would act as a giant antenna and they would be hearing the Top 40 in their fillings.

Self damning (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about 6 years ago | (#22868006)

I find it ironic that the CEO makes a grossly inaccurate statement that actually hurts his cause:

Compare this to the mobile phone that you keep in your pocket, which is typically three to ten times this power level. When it's at it's highest power level, you hold it next to your head to conduct a conversation. Ever notice that your skin gets warm after a long call? That's the only side effect of RF energy - warming.

The warmth of a cell phone has nothing to do with RF. It is waste heat generated directly by the transmitter - it is not the result of RF energy being absorbed by the skin and converted to heat. Even low-frequency transmitters get very hot when transmitting. VHF and UHF mobile rigs, like those used by emergency services and amateur radio operators, have huge (relative to the size of the radio) heatsinks on the back to dissipate the heat so the final stage electronics are not fried. My amateur handheld (Yaesu VX-7R quad band) can transmit at 5 watts, and the magnesium case literally gets so hot at that output power that it is difficult to hold. That is transmitting at frequencies vastly lower than cell-phones (144-148 MHz) which pass right through skin. It's not the antenna that gets hot, or my head, it is the case housing the transmitter.

Also, batteries get warm when generating high amperage, especially really compact batteries like lithium-ion. So that also contributes to the warmth of a transmitting cell phone.

And these people vote in national elections. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 6 years ago | (#22868064)

Let's hear it for signal to noise drowning them out. Not that they'd get the analogy, what with never using any RF devices.

legal ramifications (5, Funny)

publicopinion5 (1262126) | about 6 years ago | (#22868094)

Is there any way Sonic.net could sue these guys for backing out of an agreement for made-up reasons? This seems like someone not paying their bills because a unicorn told them to.

Re:legal ramifications (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#22868514)

Yes they could sue. But would they win? Probably not.
They would just demand that Sonic.net prove that WiFi was totally safe. Which it can not. They can show that there is a lack of proof that it is dangerous but they can not prove that it was safe. Even then sonic.net would face law suit when Moonduck Smith has an aura misalignment caused by the wifi.

Re:legal ramifications (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 6 years ago | (#22868716)

>Is there any way Sonic.net could sue these guys for backing out of an agreement for made-up reasons?

No, because in every industry except entertainment its suicide to ever sue your own customers. Who would want to do business with anyone like that? There are a lot of lawyers who never receive payment for their services who also never sue their customers. Once the word gets out that youre doing that then its time to close shop.

New Age Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868136)

I've always been amazed by how surprisingly backward American metropolitans are. People are shitting themselves and preventing the deployment of city-wide Wi-Fi over imaginary health concerns? Similar systems have already been put in place years ago in cities outside the US and you don't hear of the populace suddenly being struck down by increased cases of cancer.

No wonder terrorists love attacking America: cowards hold too much sway in government policy and are always looking for new things to be terrorized by.

Re:New Age Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868280)

I'm always amazed by how singularly illogical anti-American trolls seem to be. Although I suppose when you have an important point, like displaying your bigotry, equating a "small, hippie-friendly town" to a metropolis isn't too much of a stretch.

of course there is health hazard (1)

fermion (181285) | about 6 years ago | (#22868182)

Can you imagine what will happen if there if free wifi downtown. As son as the PHB and the like hit the downtown area, they will boot up their computers and begin to work! Not only will they eating, preening themselves, talking on the phone, but now they will be emailing, surfing the web, and who knows what else. The fact that they are supposed to driving a car, already oblivious to most of them, will seem an even less important distraction. The Chaos of downtown will escalate!

Seriously though, new technology always has unintended consequences, and even those of us who instinctively embrace every new thing, must admit that a taking a thoughtful moment before jumping into the volcano might be wise. Given that such general WiFi has not been done indicates that there may be good business, as well as hippie, reasons for it not to be.

No big surprise (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 6 years ago | (#22868184)

EM radiation of various forms has been a boogieman for a long time, and I'm sure it won't change. Hell we saw this at work. The campus is rolling out a new WiFi system with complete coverage. When I say that, I mean it. They are making sure you get a signal everywhere. This necessitates a truly amazing number of access points. There's somewhere in the range of 50-100 in our 5 story building. The placement of these is dictated by where they do the best for signal coverage, not by convenience (like hallways or electrical closets and so on). This means some are in offices.

Well, people bitched, and thus the APs has to be moved in the offices. They didn't like having them directly overhead, so they'd get moved to the side and such.

Now, you want the really silly part? I work for the electrical and computer engineering department. Yes, that's right, people with PhDs in engineering, who have all taken classes on this kind of stuff, are afraid of the radiation boogieman.

If people with extensive educations in related fields are going to bitch and ignore the facts, you can damn well believe that regular people with no understanding will do so.

I think maybe I should just get in to the market of selling whole-house faraday cages.

Re:No big surprise (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | about 6 years ago | (#22868532)

Now, you want the really silly part? I work for the electrical and computer engineering department. Yes, that's right, people with PhDs in engineering, who have all taken classes on this kind of stuff, are afraid of the radiation boogieman.

I think there was a study about Harvard graduates and asking them the reason it is hotter in the summer. They almost all said it was because we are closer to the sun in the summer. (*) This aspect of human behavior astonishes me, but it seems quite common. What I want to know is how do we fix it? More education obviously doesn't work. But this problem of human behavior makes us waste time on non-issues.

(*) I can't find this with a quick Google so I hope I'm not perpetuating an urban myth.

Re:No big surprise (0, Troll)

El Yanqui (1111145) | about 6 years ago | (#22868654)

Look on the bright side. Now we won't have a bunch of freeloading hippies clogging up the tubes.

Wow (1)

hansamurai (907719) | about 6 years ago | (#22868258)

I love/hate this quote from here [oreilly.com], article linked from the site:

I have had health challenges, and my body cannot handle wifi...it gives me headaches and makes me very sick. I would be unable to go to the store, shop. I have enough problems being limited in my travels, it is outrageous that a place so environmentally conscious would create this in our/my hometown. In Europe they are much more advanced than us, and there wifi is not allowed in cities in the European commonwealth.
These are the kind of people that tick me off to no end when trying to deal with city affairs: the ignorant liars.

Re:Wow (1)

Zelos (1050172) | about 6 years ago | (#22868378)

Where is this "European Commonwealth"? Sounds more interesting than the boring old European Union I live in, with our city-wide [theregister.co.uk] WiFi mesh networks.

Re:Wow (1)

lavaboy (21282) | about 6 years ago | (#22868754)

hmmm... I'm interested in this "European Commonwealth" thingie, too. Here in Germany, we have lots of community WiFi and, even worse, almost 100% GSM/EDGE/UMTS and DVB-T coverage, and WiMax is on the way... So, yeah, we here in Europe are "much more advanced" than the benighted little village in the article, but I really pity the poor residents of this "European Commonwealth" who have to live under such backward and draconian laws...

Of course, there is always the off chance that the quoted person is a traveler from some far, far, future or other-dimensional post-sovereign Europe, and is simply confused as to which time-period/reality he/she is currently inhabiting. Or maybe he/she just plays a lot of spy RPGs... Either possibility is certainly more likely than actually having a physiological reaction to WiFi.

You can't fight junk science with junk science (1)

kriston (7886) | about 6 years ago | (#22868304)

The author, after asserting that only psychosomatic symptoms are evident, goes on to say: "Ever notice that your skin gets warm after a long call? That's the only side effect of RF energy - warming."
This statement is utterly idiotic.
The warming of your skin is from the phone itself generating its own heat from the circuitry and the discharging battery, NOT the so-called microwaving of the skin as this clueless author puts it.

You can't fight junk science with junk science!

Actually, I've been wondering... (1)

theonlyaether (1146549) | about 6 years ago | (#22868318)

I'm too lazy to find the slashdot link from a few months back, but FTA [physorg.com]:

The report explained several types of non-lethal laser applications, including microwave hearing, disrupted neural control, and microwave heating. For the first type, short pulses of RF energy (2450 MHz) can generate a pressure wave in solids and liquids. When exposed to pulsed RF energy, humans experience the immediate sensation of "microwave hearing" - sounds that may include buzzing, ticking, hissing, or knocking that originate within the head.

I've always wondered if this is why people feel some kind of effect from these 2.4Ghz devices. It also makes me wonder why that's the unlicensed band that we play with so much O.o

Then again, I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I do love coincidences and patterns...The bit about the hissing/ticking/knocking I swear I've been hearing more over recent years than I ever did, but that's hardly scientific evidence for any harmful effect, it is however an effect nonetheless. I believe that this deserves more study, honestly enough.

Re:Actually, I've been wondering... (1)

lonasindi (914571) | about 6 years ago | (#22868552)

The bit about the hissing/ticking/knocking I swear I've been hearing more over recent years than I ever did

God forbid that something like tinnitus gets worse as you get older.

Irrelevant (1)

Phat_Tony (661117) | about 6 years ago | (#22868416)

From the article:

"Service is available in parts of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Airport Express buses to SFO, plus scattered locations around the bay area."


I wonder what brand of wireless router they use to provide service on the Airport Express buses? Because for some reason, a particular model [apple.com] comes to mind.

a real brain stumper, this one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22868448)

I've never understood how some people can be so suspicious and concerned regarding something like this in terms of healt effects and then smoke dope like their a coal-fired power plant!

Or worse, cigarettes... guess they've fried their brains for good, if they ever had one.

O'Rielly and Tom Waits (1)

Hesperus (16733) | about 6 years ago | (#22868458)

Can I possibly be the first person to point out that O'Reilly (the tech publisher) is based out of Sebastopol? I would tend to think that a little more geek-friendly hippyness could be brought to bear on the local governement.

As an asides Sebastopol is also where Tom Waits lives.
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