The tower of babble

“Are you an engineer?” he asked, interrupting his own train of thought.

My neighborhood is in a tizzy: the Powers That Be in Angelborough held a secret town planning commission meeting and failed to take a vote, but recorded the motion passed, saying that it would be fine to build, half a mile from my home, a cell phone tower. They’re going to put it in The Creepy Zone.

Most neighbors are concerned that it will affect their property values. This other neighbor, however, is concerned because of the microwave emissions. They are, he tells me, particularly dangerous to children.

He and the other bus stop moms were holding a pretty intense discussion when I arrived, by which I mean, “He was lecturing them as to the evils of microwave emissions,” and one of them saw me as her salvation. “You need to talk to Jane!” she exclaimed. “When she talks, everyone listens.”

I said dryly, “When I talk, people’s eyes glaze over.” I am, in this instance, the more reliable one to believe because she would have gnawed off her own arm to escape. The guy turned to me, and I said, “You were telling us the other day that cell phone towers cause cavitation?”

That’s when I was treated to a lot of technical information, with the pause where he stopped and said, “You’re an engineer?” No, but I play one on the internet. And I’m married to a guy who’s named in radar textbooks.

The upshot is, he wants me to get onboard and start fighting this thing. I’ve done none of my own research at this point. For all I know, cellphone towers promote the growth of beautiful shrubberies. I do know there can’t be any long-term studies demonstrating their safety simply because they haven’t been around that long.

But I do sense that anything they have to do that much skullduggery to make happen can’t be a good thing. Granted, they’re putting the thing in The Creepy Zone, where no one in their right mind would go anyhow. But apparently the penumbra from the tower will generously cover our property and the local playground and my children will be tucked in at night with a blanket of energy making sure they can hear you now.

I hate making phone calls, but it seems I’m going to need to. I also hate speaking in public, because it’s daunting when fifty pairs of eyes glaze over at the same time, but I may need to do that too.

But first, research. I can do that. I can always do that.


  1. cricketB
  2. cricketB

    Okay, where did my first comment go?

    1. philangelus

      The interrobang comment is the only other one I’ve seen, and there’s nothing caught in the spam queue. Can you repost?

  3. Ivy

    Is it NIMBY or do none of these neighbors actually use cell phones?

    1. philangelus

      There’s perfectly fine cell phone reception here in Angelborough. There’s another tower less than a mile away.

  4. Lane in PA

    A cell phone tower in the Creepy Zone…hmmm, methinks that could be a recipe for a batch of zombies.

    Start here:

  5. Lane in PA

    p.s. Find out who will benefit from the tower as it will mean monthly revenue for someone.

    1. philangelus

      Thanks for the link! And it’s the town of Angelborough that’s going to make the revenue. Follow the money and see who benefits. :-b

  6. cricketB

    That was a nice long comment, with tech notes and humour and empathy and …

    If I was too out of it to hit “submit” properly, maybe it wasn’t.

    The briefer version:

    According to my Chemical Engineering profs, cavitation is water-vapour bubbles in poorly-designed piping, usually warm water and sharp corners. Pipes banging in older houses.

    There are probably more cell towers than they realize. Churches and tower owners rent space to them.

    The studies are vague, and many confounding factors. It could be the pesticides they spray around the base, or living in a city with many towers also has more pollutants.

    Tower is probably a different provider or wavelength or other tech than existing ones, and will also increase bandwidth. The company thinks it’s worth it to them to pay.

    PH will confirm (possibly that my memory’s off) that intensity drops with the 4th power of distance from transmitter. Good for exposure, bad for users.

    Regardless, it’s not fair of them to assume you’ll a) agree with their viewpoint b) trust them without doing your own research c) add this cause to your A list.

    The politics, secrecy and money trail bother me.