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California's anti-car fortnight causes concern

As does HP's new snowballing habit. Ew

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Letters Take a deep breath in. Breathe out and congratulate yourself. You have made it to Friday, and are soon to be rewarded with a weekend (unless you work on Saturdays or something).

Regardless of all that, the one remaining challenge is to make it through the good old letters page round-up. Here are the things that have been troubling you, this week.

Let's kick off with the great news that our mobile phones are to be deployed in the battle against terrorism. Yes, clever sensors in the mobes of the future could detect chemicals - like explosive ones, or, less dramatically, pollen:

Doesn't feel right to me : smells like lawsuit territory. The first person to get a rash will rush to his lawyer and sue the industry maker for millions on grounds that the device didn't warn the user that poison ivy was likely to induce itching. You know I'm right.

Pascal


p>It would be cool if you could use this feature in conjunction with other phones linked via Bluetooth to triangulate the position of the person who just dropped a really obnoxious fart ;)

Other than that, I can't see the point regarding terrorism - most chemical attacks will be using highly lethal gases - if you can detect them, you're already getting exposed. The only possible benefit might be if the phone would analyse the chemicals and information about anything it did not recognise would be sent (maybe via text) to a server that would identify it and tell you what it was.

Then again, the last thing I want as I gag for air and my organs melt and pour from my orifices is a text message from my phone telling me "U R GNG 2 DIE" with some kind of content-tracking "intelligent" ad offering me a discount on undertaking services...

Stephen


"with sensitive enough detection technology it should be possible to provide a warning before the symptoms kick in"

Whoa, not so fast, ombre. With sensitive enough detection technology it's surely inevitable that the false positive rates will go through the ceiling, and the hospitals will clog up with the worried well (cf the Tokyo sarin attacks) immediately prior to the devices being banned.

What happens if you keep it in your back pocket and you fart, incidentally? Do you need to teach it pong recognition. (-:

John


I'm no expert, but I'm sure watching the James Bond films will uncover plenty of prior art for this one.

Cheers

Simon


Yet more anti-evolution ranting, this time from Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who objects to an exhibition of fossils collected by Richard Leakey. Not to the exhibition, as such, more to the claim that we might be related to any of the dusty exhibits:

" 'When you use evolution as God's tool in creating man in his image, you have to reckon with the fact at what stage in the evolution process does man attain to that image?' (Bishop Boniface Adoyo) told Wired.com."

...Not yet, as far as I can tell, and probably not any time soon... Mike


Sorry Boniface, but given the absence of proof, God is still a theory too, so you should word your protests differently, as in "I don't have a clue about what any of this means, but it bothers me so please don't let me in".

Pascal.


"God could be anything and I'm afraid I cannot put my faith in a 'changing God' or an 'anything God'." Oh ye man of little faith :D I wonder how he explains the bloody stupid design of pharynx leading to both windpipe and oesophagus, then. It's been around for millions of years, you'd think a creationist God would have noticed it's a bummer by now.

Rose


This reminds me of that rather accurate phrase i heard once, that Man made God in his own image.. not the other way round!!

Jez


Next, California sues car manufacturers. No, really:

There may be some method behind their madness: the car companies are suing the state because some of the laws being made by the state for clean air and efficiency of cars are, according to the car manufacturers, illegal and unfair. The suit the state is making can, if that is the case, be seen as a "two can play that game" gambit.

Unfortunately, the argument showing this isn't there. E.g. "The accused are guilty of deliberate environmental damage because they are fighting <these> statutes based, not on the environmental impact but on legal finessing" would help show that this lawsuit is more about stopping the manufacturers stonewalling than a blanket "cars are bad" suit.

Mark


So California is to sue car makers... rather than considering logical approaches such as taxing fuel in an effort to persuade people to drive more fuel efficient cars??

Is this the same California that's governed by Arnie; the guy who twisted GM's arm so hard that they gave in and bought the rights to start mass producing civilian versions of the 16mpg Hummer?

What's next..? How about suing oil companies for supplying the fuel for people to burn?? Should we sue god for creating carbon dioxide in the first place? When will these whackos learn?

Jo Phenna

A good point, and well made, but one point. We can only assume that the 16mpg figure you quote refers to metres, not miles. If the Hummer had a fuel efficiency like that, well, people probably wouldn't feel the need to hump them in public.

Click through to page two...ah, go on...

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