Breaking News: Cell Phones and Brain Tumors; Skiers Have Nothing to Worry About!
by John Parker
Since the WHO (World Health Organization) added cell phones to a list of potential carcinogens there’s been a lot of blabbering about how blabbering on and on with your Smartphone smashed against your face might actually be nuking your neurons and increasing the risk of developing brain cancer.
As an aggressive skier I am notoriously thick headed and my gut immediately decided that this new information did not apply to me. But, it did get me thinking (or feeling rather, cause I don’t always think) about my balls. If there is one organ that needs to be in tip-top shape when I’m charging lines and hucking my meat, it’s my balls. I don’t really worry too much about anything thanks to my balls, but if something happened to my balls it would be devastating. That’s why I keep my cell phone in my back pocket, I never put my laptop on my lap, and I always wear two lead aprons when I go to the dentist.
Anyway, hearing all this talk about cell phone radiation and brain tumors made me realize there is at least one hazard out there that I have not been protecting my balls from.
Radioactive Robot Lifties!
These things are a pain in my balls! I prefer human ticket checkers big-time compared to these metallic monsters. Not only do these menacing machines clog up whenever a gaper barges the gate or stores a lift ticket in the same pocket as an iPod, now I have to worry that my soldiers are getting zapped every time I take a lap on KT!? And ladies, my gametes are expendable, I can always recruit more, but your cadets need better care don’t they?
To make sure my balls were safe; I read up on it a bit. The turnstile kiosks that the resorts have been funneling us through like so much cattle are actually stationary RFID (or radio frequency identification) readers. At Squaw it’s the Austrian made Axess Smart Gantry Terminal AX500. Each ticket and pass issued at Squaw has an itty bitty 256 bit integrated circuit attached to a teeny weenie antenna. The tiny chip and antenna (or passive RFID tag) can be uniquely encoded and then identified remotely (albeit not that remotely hence the oft observed “gate grind”) by one of the RFID Readers. The gates generate a localized low intensity radio frequency bubble. When an RFID tag is placed within the range of the “bubble” the antenna in the tag picks up the signal, runs it through the encoded chip, and pings it back to the reader which can then identify the information on the chip as belonging to a unique ticket or pass holder.
The FDA has done research to evaluate the risks associated with exposure to radiation generated by RFID readers and concluded that they pose no significant health risk. RFID tags and readers were cleared for use by the FDA for certain medical applications and other uses back in 2004, but then again the FCC and other agencies have been saying the same thing about cell phones for years. An independent study on RFID readers published in 2009 reported that readers operating at low frequencies (around 134 kHz) exhibited “clinically significant electromagnetic interference to implantable pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators.” However, “the FDA has not received any incident reports of pacemaker or ICD EMI caused by any RFID system.” (Seidman et al. 2009) http://www.heartrhythmjournal.com/article/S1547-5271(09)01146-1/fulltext
RFID technology is blowing up! You can find them in passports, credit cards, cell phones, currency, livestock, pets, you name it. They can even be implanted in people. You can be chipped! There was actually a gym in Barcelona that offered RFID implants for patrons who complained about having to carry an access card while wearing tight fitting workout clothing or bathing suits (seriously, that happened).
RFID tags are in the process of completely replacing the bar code as a way to identify items for shipping and in retail. It’s fast replacing bar codes in the ski industry. Australia’s own Thredbo and Perisher Ski Resorts just dropped $1.8 million (par with US currency) upgrading their ticket checking systems for the upcoming winter season. That can’t be cheaper that hiring lifties.
In theory, RFID tags are hackable. So all those highly motivated ski bums out there (believe me they do exist) may still have some hope at scamming the man. But, if you could read, hack, and duplicate a ski pass, you could probably do the same to credit cards or the new proximity pay methods with smart phones to name a few things. And you could do it remotely, pretty spooky huh?
An RFID chip.
If you really want to be spooked, check out Katherine Albrecht’s book “Spychips”. Or just Google RFID. There is a butt load of conspiracy hype (or is it?) about how we are all being tagged and tracked using RFID technology, like it’s the mark of the beast or something. Too bad RFID readers cost a bit more than your average ski pass these days. The technology is also pretty well protected, not even the MythBusters were allowed to look into it. (Check out this linked video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X034R3yzDhw&feature=related
So, there it is. The gateway to Awesome! Considering all the great lengths every ski resort in the States goes to warning people about how dangerous the sport is and about all of the horrible things that can happen to you while you’re on the slopes, you’d think they would at least provide a little bit of information about these little RF booths, or even better, shouldn’t we be able to opt. out for a manual pass check? Even airport security will handle your balls for you if you don’t want them to get zapped. Why can’t ski resorts do the same? Is that too much to ask?