Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Next, fluoridation will be outlawed in Sebastopol

If you go to the web page for Sebastopol, California, you will see the slogan "Local Flavor. Global Vision."

And you'll also see this item in the city council agenda for March 18, 2008:

11. Discussion and Action to Reconsider the City’s Wi-Fi Agreement with Sonic (As requested by Councilmember Kelley)

The meeting minutes have not yet been posted, but we know the results of this discussion, courtesy O'Reilly Radar:

Our town, Sebastopol, had passed a resolution in November to permit a local Internet provider to provide public wireless access. This week, fourteen people showed up at a City Council meeting to make the claim that wireless caused health problems in general and to them specifically. These emotional pleas made the Council rescind its previous resolution.

And Linda Kelley, who asked to put this item on the agenda? She's a nurse. Not sure where she went to nursing school, but Sonic (who wanted to put wi fi in the city) expressed its view of the medical hazards:

The concern the folks who are opposed have is that Wi-Fi will harm them. Despite many independent university and government health studies of even higher power equipment (cellular base station towers, etc) which show no harmful effect. For more on this topic, see Wikipedia. There is also a great overview at the World Health Organization’s Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity fact sheet.

The studies show that self-identified electrosensitive individuals DO exhibit real symptoms, including headache, skin rashes and anxiety. But, double blind studies show that the symptoms are unrelated to exposure to the radio signals. In other words, electrosensitive individuals placed in a shielded room and not exposed to radio signals do exhibit symptoms. They exhibit more symptoms if they believe the transmitter is turned on, and their manifestation of symptoms is not apparently related to the on/off status of the radio equipment.

The conclusion of study after study is that the symptoms are psychosomatic, and are likely a result of fear and stress. In the case of Wi-Fi and other radio signals, this suggests that what we have to fear from Wi-Fi is simply fear of Wi-Fi.

If you’ve got concerns at this point, please let me put things into perspective. Wi-Fi signals are typically 0.1 watt. 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. That is how microwave ovens work, at a much higher power level of 500-700 watts.

And if the Sebastopol residents think that they're safe, think again.

Our low power mesh Wi-Fi project has been slowly growing in coverage, and we are now serving between 250 and 300 users per day with free broadband access. Service is available in parts of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Airport Express buses to SFO, plus scattered locations around the bay area.

Well, perhaps if the residents stay in Sebastopol, they'll be safe from the evil wi-fi. Or perhaps not:

Wi-Fi is already widely deployed in Sebastopol today by residents and businesses there....WiGLE.net, a Wi-Fi mapping service...shows all Wi-Fi access points detected by volunteers who have submitted them - not Sonic.net’s network (we only have one access point in Sebastopol currently), just everything else (over 250 existing access points).

To give a rather extreme example to illustrate the point, our Wi-Fi plans called for a Wi-Fi repeater on the street light at the corner of 12 and Main St. Today, there are already roughly 25 private access points within a one block radius of that spot.

If there was a public network, would less people spend their own money to buy and set up private access points, resulting in less Wi-Fi transmitters? If you fear Wi-Fi, a single public network might be “better” than hundreds of independent networks!

But I think I know the real reason that public wi-fi died in Sebastopol. It died because the citizens of Sebastopol are ardent private enterprise fans, and don't want their government to do things that smack of socialism. I mean, northern Californias hate all this Communist liberal stuff, don't they?

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp del.icio.us tags]

Sphere: Related Content


D said...

don't forget her misdemeanor vandalism case.


Ontario Emperor said...

This was my favorite quote:

"...arguing in court papers that because she is a lesbian, liberal and a politician, she can't get a fair trial in Sonoma County."

Since when is Sonoma County a haven for homophobic baby seal clubbing libertarians?