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Old 09-18-2006, 10:55 AM   #1
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Cell Phone Jamming: Illegal and Unethical?

I came across this at ArsTechnica, and subsequently read the NYTimes link.

Some quick info: Apparently the Communications Act of 1934 makes it illegal to interfere with any type of radio communications. I actually never knew this.

The NYTimes article talks about various types of cell phone jamming, and has some quotes from various people on both sides of the argument.

This particular comment got to me:
Quote:
"You're not allowed to barricade the street in front of your house because you don't like hearing an ambulance," said Travis Larson, a spokesman for the Cellular Telephone Industry Association, who asserts that blocking systems inhibit customers' rights and can block emergency calls. "Just like roads, the airwaves are public property."
Well A) The ambulance isn't driving through my home and B) My home is not public property. Why should owners of various establishments not be able to do whatever they want inside their theaters, restaurant, ect? There is the legal way, which is build the jamming into the walls through the use certain building materials.

So, should it remain illegal to use cell phone jammers in theaters, restaurants, ect?


Personally, when I go see a movie, I'll turn my phone off (or put it in silent mode if I need it on) when the previews start. If someone need their phone on in case of an emergency, why are they at a theater? If everyone would just use the silent mode on their phones, that'd solve half the problem. The other half is the people who have a conversation in the middle of the theater where everyone can hear. /side rant
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:21 PM   #2
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When I was a kid an young adult, there were no cell phones. People had emergencies. They did like everyone else: borrowed a phone or used a pay phone.

I find it rude and socially unacceptable to speak on your cell phone in a restaurant and am annoyed to no end by cell phones in classrooms. There should be an automatic dismissal from class that day for college courses when your cell phone rings -and in many of the classes I've attended, that's the case. In one, the professor requires that you meet with him before coming to the next class if it rings. His rule is that if your phone rings, he assumes that there is an emergency and you are to leave and not re-enter class until meeting during office hours. A fair policy.

I know that high schools also have problem with cell phones, and this is a place where jammers should be employed if they haven't any rules prohibiting cellphones.

Cell phones used by motorists are also problematic, and using them while driving should be a ticketable offense. If I need to use the phone, I park. If my phone rings while I'm driving, I let it go to voicemail. This is simple. Actually, I have a cellphone that almost never leaves silent mode. Some have vibrators that are just as noisy as ringers.

If there was one piece of technology I could "un-invent" it would be the cell phone.


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Old 09-18-2006, 02:23 PM   #3
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I work as a sound engineer at a concert hall, and before every concert we have to play a recorded message that says, basically: "Hey morons! Turn off your pagers and cellphones, willya'?"
Even with that there are 2 or 3 times a show that one goes off, usually at the quietest part of the show.

Concert tickets aren't cheap, so you would think that anybody here is a.) really interested in seeing the concert; and b.) respects the artists on stage.

I have trouble figuring out where letting your cell burst out (and worse, actually taking the call, which happens frequently ) fits with those 2 things. It distracts you from the show you paid to see, is annoying to everyone else in the theater, and shows the utmost disrespect to the artists on stage.

It's all win/ win... no?

My phone is always on silent, and either left in the office or off when I'm working.

Having a jammer here wouldn't bother me overly much... but it might interfere with some of the other wireless technologies we have to work with here (walkie-talkies for security and ushers, wireless mics, wireless networking for our P.A. system computers, etc...)


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Old 09-18-2006, 05:29 PM   #4
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I think jammers should be allowed in concert halls, theatres, churches and most of all cinemas. All the places where people are expected to turn their phones off anyway.

If everyone is supposed to have their phone off in the cinema, and there is an emergency.. how is that different to if everyone's phone is jammed in the cinema and there is an emergency.. or just being in a reception blackspot. They'll still get the message when they leave, like they would normally.

I'm not sure places like restaurants should have jammers, but people should set their phones on silent.

If the industry is worried, why can't they make a "switch to silent" standard that allows the "jammer" to just toggle all the phones into silent mode?

Its illegal to use your phone when driving in the uk.. if you are caught you get a big fine, and points on your license.



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Old 09-18-2006, 06:43 PM   #5
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Not for general public use. One amusing way around it I've seen was for meetings and the like the guy who is speeking gets to answer the phone if one rings. I know it can be used in something like a terrorist situation so that they cannot coordinate their attacks by phone or maybe someone on the outside can update them on efforts to stop them. That I have no problem with.
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Old 09-18-2006, 08:42 PM   #6
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Private establishments are just that: private. If the owners want or don't want cell phone jammers, that's their decision. Personally, I would love it if people couldn't talk on their cell phones at the movies, in resturants, etc. I am annoyed to no end by seeing people talking on cell phones. It's both rude, distracting, and there are always people nearby if there's some sort of emergency.


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Old 09-19-2006, 02:32 AM   #7
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Let me say first, I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. I hate that they ring at the wrong time. I hate it when I forget to turn the ringer off at an event. I hate when I'm in the middle of an exam and the person hears the phone ring and feels they _must_ answer it. I had a lady one time talk for 5 minutes about pizza while in my office. Crazy. I just about said to her, "I'm sorry, I seem to be interrupting your call. Would you like me to come back later?"
Now, I just say to anyone old enough to carry the things around, "If it rings, do you mind if it goes to voice mail?" People almost always turn the ringers/phones off at that point. Now if it rings, I don't give them the opportunity to answer it, unless they tell me it might be an emergency. I just keep doing whatever it is I'm doing and ignore the phone.
Our church has signs on every door into the sanctuary that says 'please turn ringers off.' For the most part, we do. Every now and then someone forgets and either silences it quickly or makes a rather embarrassed run for the foyer.

Personally, I don't need someone knowing my business 24/7. I'd like to take a shower and go to the bathroom in peace. I'd like to have a meal without the phone interrupting (emergencies excepted, of course). When I'm with someone in my office, I'll take a quick look at the caller ID to make sure it's not a school emergency, and then it goes to voice mail. The phone stays on vibrate (mine's not too obnoxious) so it's less distracting.

However, I've used my phone more than once in emergencies, and so for that reason I'm leery of anything that completely blocks a signal. I've dealt with a couple emergencies in the church sanctuary, and one of those needed EMS. I received an emergency call at my office that my son had passed out (not a good day for us, fortunately everything turned out OK). I drove an hour to/from work for an office at least once a week for awhile, and in Wisconsin where the winters can get nasty, having that peace of mind of instant access to help is good.
I'm also mandated to help in emergencies, even if it's nothing more than calling 911. I can't tell you how many accidents or just plain weird things I've called into 911 (weirdest being a guy on the side of the interstate squatting behind his car with his pants down. I was afraid the idiots who were staring at the guy were going to cause an accident. The conversation with dispatch undoubtedly made their entertainment reels that year).
Since so many places have taken out pay phones and don't offer in house phones for use because so many of us have cell phones, it would make it a lot slower to call 911 (or your country's equivalent) in an emergency. How many of you, off the top of your heads, can think immediately where the phone is at your church, school, theater, grocery store, and so on? How many of you think you could find it in an emergency when the adrenaline has your heart racing?
Needing to call 911 is a hopefully very rare occurence, but when you need them, you need that immediate access. Blocking the signals throughout an entire building could cause problems with timely access to emergency services. I'm willing to live with a few rings in church in order to have access to fire/police/ambulance.

People also work in jobs where they're required to be 'on call' (lots of medical personnel, police, fire, etc.), and jamming their phones would make them inaccessible. Sure, you could argue that they shouldn't go to the places that jam signals. In the case of my church, however, I'd rather not force someone to skip church because of a cell phone signal. I also don't want people to be out of touch in certain situations, like if they have a family member who's critically ill, a spouse who's in the military and whose hours are very irregular so there's not regular time to call, parents who live in one town and work in another and need to be available if the school/daycare or the child has an emergency, those sorts of things.

I'm not comfortable living with signal jamming, but I really like toms' 'switch to silent' idea. People would be able to see the flashing and leave for a spot where they could talk. They'd be accessible without the ringing, and that's the best alternative I've seen suggested yet.


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Old 09-19-2006, 05:07 AM   #8
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Another good idea is, besides vibration alert, not to pull the phone's ringing volume to maximum. And there is also a ring once option availabe in most phones I know.


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Old 09-19-2006, 05:25 AM   #9
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Jamming cell phones won't be a wise option.

Since most people in this human society depend most of the time on cell phones.

Jamming them will be dangerous to people who will be in emergency situations.

Reasons: health problems, violent situations accidents and being lost.
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:43 AM   #10
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So, should it remain illegal to use cell phone jammers in theaters, restaurants, ect?
Is it illegal to decide who's getting called on your private property? It shouldn't be.

I say jam the idiots. Quick solution to the emergency situations: Put an "EMERGENCY" button on the wall in the concert hall that shuts down the jamming system. If someone has a heart attack, just press that button and you can call an ambulance. My school had call buttons in every classroom, which instantly put you in touch with the office through this Intercom system.

Quote:
Reasons: health problems, violent situations accidents and being lost.
We're discussing cell phone-jamming in theatres and concert halls. You don't get lost in those.

Quote:
"You're not allowed to barricade the street in front of your house because you don't like hearing an ambulance," said Travis Larson, a spokesman for the Cellular Telephone Industry Association, who asserts that blocking systems inhibit customers' rights and can block emergency calls. "Just like roads, the airwaves are public property."
You are allowed to block private roads, though, are you not?

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Old 09-19-2006, 07:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windu6
Since most people in this human society depend most of the time on cell phones.

Jamming them will be dangerous to people who will be in emergency situations.

Reasons: health problems, violent situations accidents and being lost.
How we then survived the last two million years, escapes me.


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Old 09-19-2006, 10:03 AM   #12
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Technical question: Is it possible to have a "smart" electronic jamming system that stops all calls other than "9-1-1"?

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Old 09-19-2006, 10:08 AM   #13
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I'm not sure how technical it is, but there's a program that reads the lines of code in a phone. It might be possible to prevent it from dialing certain numbers, especially in this day and age where a computer can very easily be blocked from certain web sites.
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Old 09-19-2006, 10:36 AM   #14
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How many of you, off the top of your heads, can think immediately where the phone is at your church, school, theater, grocery store, and so on?
Grocery store - By the doors, movie theater - outside by the ticket booths, high school - inside by the front gate (but students aren't supposed to use them during school), don't go to church, the mall - various entrances.

There is the other method mentioned in the NYTimes article. It involves having the phone automatically go into silent mode when people go into certain areas.

It mostly boils down to the person. Yeah, they have silent mode on, but then they go and have a conversation during the movie. I've yelled at a few people to turn off their damn phones. Usually they do the "How rude" thing and hang up.
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Old 09-19-2006, 10:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
Technical question: Is it possible to have a "smart" electronic jamming system that stops all calls other than "9-1-1"?
Technically, which phone of the 50 people present would that be? A jamming system jams, a whole frequency band etc. But it is not capable of jamming special information transported within this jammed frequencies. This could only be done if the "jamming system" is kind of a firewall instead, and thus it has to create a own cell where all the communication is send through, which means "tons" of radiation for those people in the "blocked" room.

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I'm not sure how technical it is, but there's a program that reads the lines of code in a phone. It might be possible to prevent it from dialing certain numbers, especially in this day and age where a computer can very easily be blocked from certain web sites.
Yeah. I'd like to go to the cinema and have some stupid watchdog people read all my messages and whatnot on the phone during that time.

Why all this technical stuff, when people just have to "silence" their phone using one of the various options available? That or blocking the whole signal for one room (e.g. cinema).


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Old 09-19-2006, 03:00 PM   #16
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How we then survived the last two million years, escapes me.
This society depends so much on electricity in technologies if a major solar mass ejection happen and we don't turn off the power grids fast enough we will be in the Stone Age for months.
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
You are allowed to block private roads, though, are you not?
You can block a private road except to emergency vehicles.

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Grocery store - By the doors, movie theater - outside by the ticket booths, high school - inside by the front gate (but students aren't supposed to use them during school), don't go to church, the mall - various entrances.
Humor mode on: Smart-aleck. I bet you know where all the fire extinguishers and first aid kits are, too.

I'm liking the 'automatic silent' mode idea more and more.

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Old 09-19-2006, 03:36 PM   #18
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I'm liking the 'automatic silent' mode idea more and more.
They'd compensate by talking extra loudly.

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I bet you know where all the fire extinguishers and first aid kits are, too.
Of course I do. They're in my backpack along with the shovel in case of avalanches, the emergency rations, and the thermos can of therapeutic chicken soup.

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Old 09-19-2006, 04:51 PM   #19
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If a private building wishes to jam cell phones, that's their choice. No idea why doing so would be illegal as long as they made certain on the door that cell phones are jammed inside. To not do so would be unethical.

Want to talk on a cell phone at a restaurant? Be my guest. People talk loud at restaurants to the people sitting around them anyway. No difference.

Personally I don't see why people would get pissed off by cell phones as long as they're not watching a movie or trying to listen to a lecture in school. Do I think that public schools should implement a policy of kicking out a student with a ringing phone at school? No, that's too much. If a private school wants to do so though, that's their choice. But sometimes students (even teachers) forget to silence/turn off their phones at school. One time my phone rang at school, and it was a wrong number. Thankfully the teachers just looked the other way, when technically they're supposed to confiscate it. Again today, a friend of mine had her phone ring in class. The teacher allowed her to turn it off without consequence. Most teachers are like that - they don't care if students have phones as long as they're not being used in class. The administrators, however, will GLADLY take your phone away.

What's very popular is students secretly text messaging. And you know what, that should be perfectly fine. If students don't want to pay attention, that's their choice. As long as they're not bothering anyone else.
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Old 09-19-2006, 04:58 PM   #20
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Yeah. I'd like to go to the cinema and have some stupid watchdog people read all my messages and whatnot on the phone during that time.
In this case it's meant to be used in the case of finding out which phone number someone might call, say a terrorist during one of their operations, or effectively pinpoint someone and shut down their phone. I cannot think of anywhere phone reeading or blocking has actually been used but that's the basic idea. I think they tried to find the Oklaholma bombers by tracing their celluers.
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:28 PM   #21
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Everyone talks at restaurants, so i don't see the problem with that.

Most people have their phones turned off in theatres, churches and cinemas.. so i dont' see the problem with jamming for those that forget/are evil.

You could connect it to the fire alarm system.. or have another "break glass in case of emergency" panel for turning off the phone system.



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Old 09-20-2006, 02:50 PM   #22
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If a private building wishes to jam cell phones, that's their choice. No idea why doing so would be illegal as long as they made certain on the door that cell phones are jammed inside. To not do so would be unethical.
A warning should be obligatory, as there are people with health problems and the like who could suddenly depend on a cell-phone.

An emergency override button is a must, too, I think. Someone having a heart attack? Press the button and dial 911.

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Old 09-21-2006, 04:19 AM   #23
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If it's for small places that you can easily exit if you need to make a call, and signs are clearly posted indicating that jamming is taking place, I have no problem with it.

If it becomes so widespread that it becomes hard to make or receive calls in public during the day, I will definately reconsider that opinion. I carry one with my virtually every waking hour I'm not at home, and in fact it is my ONLY phone (I don't have a land line). Thus in a way I am reliant on it. I keep it on vibrate, and if I do answer it in a space, I will quietly and quickly tell the person I have to call them back/step out and do the same (or just hit "ignore" and pick up the voice mail later).

I think a lot of people just need to learn cell phone ettiquette, but there's no real way to enforce that, making these types of things necessary.

Now if you're a doctor on call or something, I can see the dillema. Too bad there isn't a way to just allow certain frequencies like that through (emergency frequencies?) to avoid that possible problem (if you're a doc on call, don't go into a building with jamming on.... an important reason to have signs clearly posted).

Cell phones HAVE saved lives in some cases, so I would be opposed to widespread jamming for fear of eliminating those situations (even if they are rare in public).


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Old 09-21-2006, 12:41 PM   #24
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Now if you're a doctor on call or something, I can see the dillema.
But then again, if an area jams cell phones, then what the Heck is the on-call doctor doing there in the first place?

If you were, say, a volunteer search&rescue worker, would you spend your shifts spelunking in a deep cave when you knew people could suddenly need you at any moment?

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Cell phones HAVE saved lives in some cases, so I would be opposed to widespread jamming for fear of eliminating those situations (even if they are rare in public).
It is arguably not only the best argument, but very possibly the only good one.

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Old 09-21-2006, 02:50 PM   #25
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But then again, if an area jams cell phones, then what the Heck is the on-call doctor doing there in the first place?
On-call simply means the doctor is available if needed. Do you expect him/her to simply sit around and do nothing with their time other than wait to help?

To me this idea seems like nothing more than a means to penalize behaviour we find annoying. What next, infant muzzles?

Just do what I do, offer the annoying ****er a chance to keep their phone. If they don't accept take the phone.


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Old 09-21-2006, 02:56 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
But then again, if an area jams cell phones, then what the Heck is the on-call doctor doing there in the first place?

If you were, say, a volunteer search&rescue worker, would you spend your shifts spelunking in a deep cave when you knew people could suddenly need you at any moment?
Doctors actually do things besides read medical journals and stay at home on their days off.

For the cave thing--if someone's on call, they have to be in a position where they can get to the fire station/hospital/wherever within a specified period of time (varies by profession), and they are required to be accessible. Obviously if I were on call, I couldn't go caving because the cell wouldn't work and I probably couldn't get back out of the cave in a decent amount of time.
However, I could go to movies, theaters, church, etc. as long as it was close enough and my cell worked. I don't mind having it on silent and leaving the theater to go talk in the lobby.
If a lot of places jam cells/pagers, then those would be off-limits, and if I were on call, it wouldn't leave me a whole lot of fun things to do, especially in the middle of winter in the (US) Great White North.

For the emergency thing--unless there was some kind of universal location for a universal style emergency call button that everyone was familiar with, it wouldn't be too useful.
People won't know where to look when there's not an emergency, much less when there is one, and it's incredibly difficult for them to think clearly in serious situations. It took me several years to get used to working through the adrenaline wave that comes with an emergency. Fortunately, in my field we almost never have something life-threatening come up, so it's rarely an issue.
Most people are so stunned in an emergency that they usually just stand there looking at the scene. If I had to tell them to go look around the room for the emergency button, they probably wouldn't be able to find it simply because of shock. I'm not trying to be mean about that--if I didn't have the training, I'd have a tough time functioning, too, and it's just the reality. If the injury or illness is serious (say, heart attack), we'd be losing precious seconds looking around for that emergency switch and figuring out how it worked--break the glass? lift a cover? pull a switch? Simple things are hard to figure out in the middle of a serious situation, and I can't tell you how many times I've had to give instructions for really simple things to some really intelligent people who would have figured it out in moments any other time--like 'Turn off your car. Your engine is overheating. It may catch on fire. Turn it off and take the keys out of the ignition.' (No kidding--actually said that when I stopped at an accident one time. Only problem--the guys spoke only Spanish, and my Spanish is limited to Yes, No, Where is the Bathroom and 2 Margaritas, please. After some constructive sign language including shaking my keys, we achieved communication, which was good because the radiator fluid had poured completely out of their truck, and the engine was starting to smoke).
If you have some universal spot for a universal style emergency switch, then it might work. Since we don't have universal spots for fire extinguishers (at least in the US to my knowledge--they just have to be visible but not in any specific spot), I wouldn't hold out too much hope.


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Old 09-21-2006, 03:08 PM   #27
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On-call simply means the doctor is available if needed. Do you expect him/her to simply sit around and do nothing with their time other than wait to help?
This neighbour of mine has a search dog (don't know what they're called in English) and is part of a rescue organization charged with helping people taken by avalanches, lost in the mountains, etc.

He says he stays at home when he's on duty as he dares not be stuck in traffic somewhere or something when he gets a call.

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Old 09-21-2006, 03:14 PM   #28
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I could see not venturing too far from home in a major city like Chicago/LA/NYC/etc, but I don't have the traffic worry by me. As long as I can put down whatever I'm doing at that moment and drive to the office, it's not an issue. Now, I wouldn't do something like pay a ton of money to go to something like a fancy restaurant or expensive play/opera/concert/etc., because Murphy's law, as soon as I spent that money, the phone would ring. However, if I need to pick up some milk and bread at the store or something equally simple, I'm not worried about leaving the house.


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Old 09-21-2006, 03:27 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
This neighbour of mine has a search dog (don't know what they're called in English) and is part of a rescue organization charged with helping people taken by avalanches, lost in the mountains, etc.

He says he stays at home when he's on duty as he dares not be stuck in traffic somewhere or something when he gets a call.
I fail to see any real point in this. So your neighbor doesn't leave his house. So what?

I used to do a lot of volunteer work, as well as handle emergency situations. I expected to have to use my phone a lot, I did. Did I sit around? No, I lived my life, but I accepted that I need to be capable of getting where I need to be if something happens. Cell phone and proper planning helped make life not only enjoyable, but also made it so I could do all that was required without sacrificing a social life.

Asking someone to give up socializing is rather dangerous, especially if their job is to help others. Mental strain caused by this could render them completely useless. Because if they go crazy, how the hell are they going to help someone if all they can focus on are the crazed badgers they see on the walls?



It's all very simple, just let the doctor watch his/her movie until he/she gets paged to come in to perform a life saving operation.



To me, this is a foolish and petty debate. Wah, someone interupted your movie. Solve your problem yourself, legislation or action should not be taken simply because you find something annoying. I find people talking about NASCAR as though it were a serious sport to be annoying, doesn't mean I'm going to crusade that we have each and every hillbilly caged and muted to avoid such a thing.


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Old 09-21-2006, 04:40 PM   #30
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Wah, someone interupted your movie. Solve your problem yourself, legislation or action should not be taken simply because you find something annoying.
A lot of people have, they've stopped going to the cinema and started downloading films, or watching dvds at home.



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Old 09-21-2006, 07:58 PM   #31
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I'm just saying the danger is if he or she's in a jammed area and doesn't KNOW IT, that could be dangerous. If he or she knows which areas are jammed and is on call, he or she can avoid those areas for fear of missing an important call (and hiding in a jammed area to avoid calls could be grounds for dismissal).

That's all I'm saying. If everyone starts randomly jamming and nobody knows, that could cause real problems, even if it would eliminate a lot of annoyance. I think schools confiscating people's cell phones arbitrarily is also unethical (even if they want to claim the constitution doesn't exist on school grounds).


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Old 09-21-2006, 08:00 PM   #32
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Drat, they lost the ability to tolerate.

Personally, I hate it when phones go off in movies, but other than that I don't really care.

And if it's in the movie, I tell the people to shut the **** up.

Case closed afterwards.

My philosophy is don't let it bother you, and it won't.

(If you're having a hard time doing this, go into your car, stick your keys into the ignition, leave the door open so the car beeps, and listen to your radio. Eventually you won't mind the beeping.)




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