aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Arguing for the Tanning Salon
[T]here’s something misguided about the crusade against tanning salons. Actually, two things: liberal bias against industry, and conservative bias against sensuality.
Liberal bias puts too much scrutiny on indoor rather than outdoor tanning. Seeing nature as good and industry as evil, we treat salons as though they’ve perverted sunshine into a carcinogen. Politicians and medical associations say indoor tanning is worse because it cooks you faster and its risks are harder to recognize. That’s exactly wrong. Outdoors, you have no clue how much radiation you’re getting. Your estimate, based on the season or hour, is pure guesswork. You probably never think about altitude. You mistakenly assume that clouds, your white T-shirt, or being underwater are shielding you from more than a fraction of ultraviolet rays. You have no idea that the “SPF” factor advertised on your sunscreen tells you nothing about whether it blocks the rays that cause melanoma.
Yes, an indoor lamp can cook you faster. But you can choose the cooking rate, and knowing that rate, you can control the dose and customize it to your skin type. You can even regulate the composition of the light, avoiding rays that cause sunburns. A salon operator can program her machines to shut off after 20 minutes. Try shutting off the sun.
Conservative bias, meanwhile, puts too much emphasis on abstinence rather than moderation. Health advocates, determined to convince the public that tanning isn’t risk-free, have simplified their message to the point of untruth. Even Cosmopolitan has suddenly gone prude. “A suntan is actually just as destructive to your skin as a raw, pink sunburn,” the magazine warns in its May issue. Wrong again. The most thorough review of data, issued five months ago by a European Commission science panel, found clear correlations between sunburns and skin cancer, but no such clarity in studies of tanning salons and skin cancer. That’s because a sunburn conveys how much radiation you got; a salon doesn’t. The less often you tan, the softer the light, and the shorter your exposure, the lower your risk. It isn’t the degree of risk that drives doctors crazy. It’s that people are taking that risk, as the AAD puts it, “solely for cosmetic reasons.” Pleasure! Superficiality! Yuck!
Listen to the arguments against tanning, and you’ll hear echoes of the arguments against premarital sex. “Just one time in a tanning bed has the potential to cause harm,” warns Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., co-author of the federal bill to regulate salons. The AAD says you should wear a broad-brimmed hat and long pants, apply sunscreen half an hour before you go out and again every two hours, and stay out of the sun until 4 p.m. You might as well be in a chador. As for the idea of getting a “base tan” to prevent sunburn, dermatologists protest that this flimsy shield will only embolden you to persist in risky activity. Sounds like the case against condoms, doesn’t it?
Part these clouds of bias, and the truth shines through. You can’t stop tanning; the best you can do is help people control it. Toward that end, the industrialization of ultraviolet light is a blessing. It gives us the power to clarify, modulate, and customize dosage. Salons need oversight to make sure they help clients understand and manage this power. But if you shut them down or lock out teenagers, be prepared to enforce a dawn-to-dusk curfew or face an epidemic of skin cancer. If you liked back-alley abortions, you’ll love backyard tanning.
Technology without guidance can be dangerous. The emerging peril in the tanning world isn’t staffed salons; it’s coin-operated, unsupervised machines, already proliferating in Europe, in which kids can toast themselves for lunch money. But with guidance, technology often solves its own problems. It won’t be Congress that stops teens from cooking their skin. It’ll be tanning sprays and lotions, which continue to improve in appearance, durability, and popularity. And guess who’s going to lead the way? Salons.
New York City is a special case. Significantly fewer hurricanes travel that far north and strike land, because of various climatic features. But ... roughly every 40 to 70 years a big hurricane hits New York, or comes close. New York is a geographical time bomb when it comes to potential hurricane catastrophe.
Much of Manhattan, but especially Lower Manhattan, is right at sea level. Additionally, because New York harbor is like a funnel, surge that enters the harbor has nowhere to go. It’s going to go up the Hudson River. It’s going to go up the East River. There’s nowhere to spread out. These are narrow river valleys, and there’s nowhere to go but up. So, the water gets funneled into New York harbor, it goes into the rivers, accelerates its speed, elevates in height, and suddenly you’ve got some of the highest storm-surge values in America.
You could easily see JFK under 20 feet of water from a major hurricane. Lower Manhattan disappears, including the site of the 9/11 Memorial. You have really fantastically high surge-tide values there. Just sea-level rise will cause big problems, especially for Lower Manhattan, and then with more intense hurricanes you’re likely to see at some point a catastrophic event where surge tides are a really big threat.
Yeah but what are the odds?
The waters in the Atlantic and the Gulf are above normal in terms of temperature. The first six months of 2006 were the warmest on record since human record keeping began worldwide. All the trends are more heat, more water, warmer water, warmer atmosphere, and we know where all this leads.
Three of the six most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic basin over 150 years of record keeping happened in 52 days last year. In 2005, there were 27 named storms in one season, which beat the previous record from 1933, which was 21. Never before had 14 full-blown hurricanes formed in a single season. The old record was 12 in 1969. It just goes on and on and on. And that could be the new normal, maybe not this year, but on average.
Read for yourself what he has to say about Miami.
Tie one on
[T]here’s no right or wrong when it comes to shoelace etiquette (so far as we know), but be aware that your knot of choice is only one of 31 ways to complete the task, at least according to Ian’s Shoelace Site. It just goes to show that every walk of life has its own technology.
I’m not a big conspiracy theorist myself, but let’s go with this for a moment. We’ve known about the liquid bomb threat for years:
The most frightening thing about the foiled plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic is that both the government and the aviation industry have been aware of the liquid bomb threat for years but have done little to prepare for it.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
Now the British airline industry is grinding to a halt:
Airlines warned the British government Saturday that the country’s air travel is “grinding to a halt” because of tough new anti-terror security requirements. One airline asked for police and army reservists to help with screening.
And Republicans get to change the subject from Iraq:
Iraq remains a drag on the president and his party; 58 percent of Americans say the United States is losing ground in its efforts to establish stability and democracy there, up from 49 percent last September. (Only 31 percent believes the United States is making progress, down from 40 percent last year.) Fifty-four percent of Americans say they are “not too confident” (24 percent) or “not at all confident” (30 percent) that the United States will establish a democratic form of government in Iraq “over the long term.” Only 11 percent are “very confident” and 32 percent are “somewhat confident.”
But will it work?
“If the Republican Party thinks that this is going to be a good political issue for them, they’re mistaken,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the committee that sets Democratic strategy for Senate campaigns. “We are going to answer them immediately.”
Schumer’s committee issued a blistering memo Friday that, among other things, said Vice President Dick Cheney knew of the alleged terrorism plot when he conducted a rare conference call with reporters Wednesday in which he suggested that “Al Qaeda types” would be emboldened by this week’s Connecticut Democratic primary victory by political newcomer Ned Lamont, an opponent of the Iraq war seeking a Senate seat.
The White House said Friday that Cheney was aware of a plot when he made his call but did not know the timing of the impending British arrests.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called it “disgraceful” that Cheney used such rhetoric while knowing what was about to transpire in Britain.
And how will they explain this?
As the British terror plot was unfolding, the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology. Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of Homeland Security Department steps that have left lawmakers and some of the department’s own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.
Only the females of these insect species sting, and sexor rather reproductionis the reason they first learned how. It started back in the Jurassic Period, in an unknown species of parasitic wasp. Such wasps commonly use their ovipositor, a pointy extension of the abdomen, to lay their eggs on living caterpillars, beetle grubs, and other hapless victims, usually at a rate of one egg per victim. Some species actually have a serrated edge on the ovipositor to saw through flesh and deposit the egg inside the body. The wasp egg hatches, and the larval wasp then feeds on its living host until it sucks it dry, or in the case of a larva inside the victim, until it is big enough to burst forth, Alien-fashion, and fly away.
The intended host understandably does not like big Mama Wasp buzzing around, and it typically throws up a frenzied resistance. But at some point in the primordial struggle, the saw-blade lubricants or other fluids in the ovipositor of some wasp species became paralyzing to victims. This made life infinitely easier for the wasp, and from this eureka moment, venoms evolved to suit an immense variety of circumstances, and ovipositors adapted to function as stingers. Bees and ants eventually evolved from Mama Wasp, and at least 60,000 different species in the order Hymenoptera now possess some form of stinger. Impression fossils of a wasp from Russia show that this evolutionary flowering was already well under way more than 120 million years ago.
Even now, the vast majority of stinging insects use their venom primarily to parasitize tomato hornworms, cabbage loopers, and the like. Insect stinging is thus more a blessing on humanity than a curse: If female parasitic wasps were not out there busily killing agricultural pests, we would starve.
But this is all too easy to forget in a moment of pain. For us, stinging mostly means nasty encounters with bees and other social insects that have retained no trace of the parasitic lifestyle. They now sting purely to defend the hive, and they are dismayingly good at what they do.
Vai Dean Esmay.