published Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Cell Phones

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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woody said...

Clay, your sense of humor is priceless. However, back on track, I have to admit I feel a bit old for the one on the left, while I vaguely remember the one on the right. In fact, I believe my wife and I stored one away with all of our out-of-date vinyl. (For anyone under the age of 25 vinyl was the compact discs (okay, so 33s and 78s weren't all that compact) of my era.)

Again, thank you Clay, Woody

October 27, 2009 at 6:07 a.m.
rolando said...

For those who have not experienced the comparative "home theater" sound quality of the old Weco-produced, Bell-owned phones that were an American mainstay...well, you missed something.

I still have and use an old on-the-wall version of Clay's Weco phone in the garage. One with the 25-foot cord. [Weco stands for Western-Electric Company, the Bell production-side company.] Every power tool I have could be running and the real-life bell ringing can be heard over it all. No wimpy little tune for it. Tumor-free, to boot.

October 27, 2009 at 7:28 a.m.
SCOTTYM said...


We've an old phone that's a dead ringer for the one on the right, for use when the power is out and the cordless set goes dead. It's even the same poop brown color.

Those old handsets were a lot easier on the neck when trying to cook and talk at the same time. Of course you had to be careful not to strangle the dog with that 25-foot cord. :)

If one wants to avoid the only convincingly proven health risks of a cell phone....don't talk on it while driving.

My favorite apps.

October 27, 2009 at 7:51 a.m.
OllieH said...

I like this cartoon, too!

I am definitely old enough to remember the phone on the right. In fact, I remember when phones went from a rotary dial, to the push buttons (like in Clay's cartoon). Not only did it seem like something straight out of the Jetsons, but it made it much easier to be the first caller to the local radio station to win free concert tickets.

These little bitty cell phones seem to put out a lot of radiation. I heard some doctor compare talking on a cell phone to holding your head right against a microwave oven while it's cooking.

Past concerns over the possible health risks related to the use of cell phones have always been refuted with studies that have concluded otherwise. The studies, however were always funded by the cell phone industry.

I'm glad to finally see a long-term, independent, study come out to combat some of these industry reports.

October 27, 2009 at 8:30 a.m.
Yano said...

The old phones put out magnetic radiation. And there was the affect on your blood pressure whenever you had to untangle the cord.

October 27, 2009 at 9:23 a.m.
OllieH said...

All electrical devices emit some radiation. But remember, a phone is powered by a very minimal 5 volt electrical system (delivered through the phone line). So, an old-style corded phone emits less radiation than most electrical devices.

There is absolutely no radio frequency involved in the operation of a corded phone, however, so there would be none of the radiation related to that. And that (the radiation created through the cordless connection) is the main source of cell phone radiation, and the main danger related to cell phone technology.

Admittedly, the blood pressure problem related to untangling the phone cord is a definite down-side to the old-technology.

October 27, 2009 at 10:05 a.m.
rolando said...

LOL, Yano. Good ones...but "magnetic radiation"?? That's a new one. We were designed for that kind...the Earth puts it out. LOL anyhow.

October 27, 2009 at 10:46 a.m.
rolando said...

If my fading memory still holds on, OllieH, those old ringers were powered by a pulsating 90-volt DC ring pulse. If you happened to be across both leads when an incoming call came, you would remember the experience quite well. Ninety volts will light up your lights...the old EE-8 military phones had a crank magneto -- like granny's old wall phone. It would really light up the lights...the faster cranked, the higher the jolt.

But I digress...

October 27, 2009 at 11:04 a.m.
dss said...

The same generation that flaunted the tumor-free phone also possessed lead paint and lacked car seats and bicycle helmets. Not exactly a danger-free era!

October 27, 2009 at 11:23 a.m.
OllieH said...

I'll defer to you on the electrical specs on these phones, rolando. All I know is that any ill-effects on your health by their continued and regular use would have been well documented by now.

October 27, 2009 at 11:36 a.m.
toonfan said...

dss wrote, "The same generation that flaunted the tumor-free phone also possessed lead paint and lacked car seats and bicycle helmets. Not exactly a danger-free era!"

Lead paint is the best of your three examples, dss. Once we discovered the health risk related to the use of lead paint, it was corrected, or its use was limited to areas that were less accessible to gnawing children.

That's all we're asking of cell phone companies. The level of radiation of each model phone is well documented. Although the phone industry insists that the phones are harmless, the models with the higher emission levels are usually the models that are given away for free or at a nominal charge. The phones with the lower radiation rates are usually the more expensive models.

The point is- these companies can, and do, produce safer phones. But like the automobile manufacturers who resisted mandatory seat belts or air bags, they fear any increased manufacturing cost would effect sales.

Public safety, and not profits, should be the main concern. I'll gladly pay a couple of hundred bucks more for a cell phone now, to save the cost of brain surgery twenty years from now.

October 27, 2009 at 11:54 a.m.
WeeWo said...

These posts are COMEDY! It's great to see a change from the typical, everyday political banter that you see on here and they even have a bit of a history lesson in them. Very refreshing! Thanks, Clay!!

LOL... I must be REALLY old... I can remember the phone on the right when it had a rotary dial! You know, if cell phones have done one thing, they have increased the time we spend ON the phone. It's funny, you can be out in public, a cell phone rings, and 75% of the people in the area frantically look for their phone to see if it is their's that's ringing. We have become slaves to all this new technology.

October 27, 2009 at 12:05 p.m.
EaTn said...

I believe the jury is still out on the dangers of cell phone. Open the case and look at the battery- does it look like something that could fry your brain? Maybe us guys should be more concerned about a wireless computer sitting on our lap for hours.

Remember when lightning running in on wired phones was a danger? A couple years ago I was sitting on the porch with a friend and another neighbor was outside talking on a cell phone during some threatening weather, and my friend said " look at that fool, don't they know that lightning can run in through the phone and kill them?"

October 27, 2009 at 3:59 p.m.
InspectorBucket said...

WeeWo writes:

"LOL... I must be REALLY old[. . . .] You know, if cell phones have done one thing, they have increased the time we spend ON the phone."

I am also an oldie, but I did view Clay's cartoon via my iTouch this morning.

The iTouch--the non-phone Apple handheld--has many merits. It is far easier to carry than a laptop, and it can accomplish almost everything that my MacBook can do. However, I despise tapping messages into the little thing.

One last note: I do not think that any of us in the 40 - 80+ years old age group realize how it is now TALKING WITH VOICE that has begun to fall by the wayside for the 20 & below demographic.

Walk on any campus around. You will discover the majority of students texting messages--before, during, after class, &c.

Phones are good for hitting up parents for cash and credit. For everything else, by measure of these youngsters, tapping and texting will do you.

October 27, 2009 at 5:24 p.m.
rolando said...

I text a bit myself, IB. I have grown spurs on the edges of my thumbnails to ease the process. They wear rapidly but grow faster.

Texting is great for delayed conversations. I text the wife, get on my bike [or she gets on hers], ride off and check it when I get wherever I'm going. I suspect that is what is happening with the younger set. Plays H with English grammer/spelling, of course.

It is also great for privacy.

BTW, texting while driving ANYTHING is pure idiocy.

October 27, 2009 at 7:27 p.m.
rolando said...

Here's another safety thought...

Since cell phones are now known to cause brain tumors, etc, and to transmit freely in all directions [except that shielded by the user;s head], there MUST be a second-hand danger to passers-by -- small children, spouses, neighbors, fellow bar patrons, etc.

Quick, California! Start passing laws making it illegal to use a cell phone in public, in the work place, within 1,000 feet of a school, in restaurants, even in homes. Areas for the free use of cell phones should be clearly marked and well shielded to stop horizontally directed radiation.

Oh, the humanity! [Apologies to Herbert Morrison]

October 27, 2009 at 7:41 p.m.
rolando said...

Once again we agree, toonfan. Those dangers dss listed are vastly over-rated. Last time I checked [circa 1999], about 100 kids a year died while bicycling by directly caused head injuries that could have been prevented by a helmet. Out of how many million bicycling kids?

In my experience in four different cities scattered here and there, most helmet laws are promoted by people who sell helmets...

Same thing for child booster seats... Airbags are proven restraints that work when combined with lap belts and 4-point shoulder harness.

October 27, 2009 at 7:52 p.m.
una61 said...

I got rid of my land line awhile back. I get relief from the marketeers and I hope the savings will help pay for the increase in my health care insurance premiums after the Obamacrats get done reforming health care.

October 27, 2009 at 10:43 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Where does that wire go?

October 28, 2009 at 2:27 a.m.
SCOTTYM said...


That's what you use to hang it on your belt. ;)

October 28, 2009 at 7:40 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

I once considered old style phone receiver that plugs in the cell phone for the weirdness of it.

The cost of such gadgets outweighed my need for the unusual.

Especially the wireless ones.

October 28, 2009 at 2 p.m.
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