Cell phones

The Most Annoying Thing About Cellphones on Airplanes

It's not overhearing conversations. It's listening to people complain about overhearing conversations.

It's not that travelers have to overhear conversations. It's that the rest of us have to hear them complain about having overheard conversations.


If you haven't been reading David Rohde's serialized account of his seven months being held hostage by the Taliban, you should be. It's not only a riveting read, it tells you a lot of stuff about Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban that you probably didn't know before.



Thursday October 8, 6:30 a.m., the phone rings. I pick up sleepily. "My family! My family! Magda … my family!" I hear sobbing and low, sad groans on the other end.


I. In 2006, the Sunlight Foundation launched a campaign to get members of Congress to post their daily calendars on the Internet. "The Punch-Clock Campaign" collected pledges from ninety-two candidates for Congress, and one of them was elected. I remember when the project was described to me by one of its developers. She assumed that I would be struck by its brilliance. I was not. It seemed to me that there were too many legitimate reasons why someone might not want his or her "daily official work schedule" available to anyone with an Internet connection. Still, I didn’t challenge her.


In an effort to shame horror-movie writers into abandoning perhaps the laziest trope in their profession, Rich Four Four has stitched together 66(!) instances since 2000 of folks in mortal peril having their cell phones flash the "no service" message or otherwise malfunction at a crucial moment: (via Vulture)

Cell Phones And Polling

Lots of people have probably heard that most polls don't call cell phones. I've always assumed that this doesn't bias the outcomes very much. (Yes, more cell-only users may favor Obama, but there aren't many of them.) Over the weekend, Nate Silver had a post suggesting that it actually does have a significant effect. Nate compared the findings of polls that call cell phones to those that don't, and found that the latter tend to depress barack Obama's share of the vote by 2.8 percentage points compared with the former.


Reader Eric Reuter points to a nifty visual art project with (naturally) a green twist: Chris Jordan of Seattle has put together a series of gigantic photo collages—er, I think the term is photo collages—that try to give some sort of graphical heft to those doomsday environmental statistics you always hear tossed around about humanity's overgorged consumption habits. So, for instance, this one shows "426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US each day": The actual photo's 60" x 100"and, up close, you can make out the individual cell phones.