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Full-Metal Racket

[whitespace] How your zipper may soon cause cancer

By Bob Harris

Someday soon, your MedicAlert bracelet may itself be hazardous to your health. You're probably already familiar with the disposal problems of nuclear waste. There's not much you can do with it, other than bury it, burn it, or maybe someday launch it into space, each of which poses different serious hazards.

And there's an enormous amount of this stuff. The Department of Energy's database reportedly includes over a million tons of stockpiled radioactive metals like nickel, copper, and aluminum.

Some of which is actually reusable. When the radiation is only at the surface, it's pretty much almost possible to chemically scrub the hot spots off.

However, when the radiation goes deep into the metal, there's no way to clean that out. But the metal companies see gold in all the metal that right now they can't use. So they're pushing for--and the Department of Energy is actually supporting--a new, relaxed standard for how much radiation is OK in a batch of metal.

As this month's issue of The Progressive reports, the new public exposure standard they want is 10 millirems a year. What that means in terms of physics takes a while to explain, but what it means in human terms is simple.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already done a study on the effects of a 10-millirem standard--and come up with figures representing almost 100,000 additional cancer deaths per year. That's a million dead Americans every decade, just so some smelting barons can make a fortune.

If the new level becomes standard, apparently there will be no way of knowing, short of a Geiger counter, what metal in your life is radioactive--that includes the change in your pocket, the silverware in a restaurant, and even your zipper.

Y'know, I would think the administration would put a stop to this. They've already got enough problems with hot zippers.


Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of an enjoyable party? In the wake of this whole Fornigate thing, a person's sexual past and future are now actually treated like a legitimate campaign issue. As if fooling around is any way to choose a leader: FDR and Thomas Jefferson had lovers, and Ben Franklin had entire harems, but Bonnie and Clyde were monogamous, so apparently the Barker gang was most qualified to lead America.

Y'know, the word congress itself is a synonym for sexual relations, which means that every time anyone ever uses the phrase "candidates for Congress" I always think of people cruising a singles joint for their next big score. The only difference being that, unlike our representatives, the folks in a nightclub at least paid their own way in.

Anyway, Republican Gary Muller in Indiana last week actually started making a big fuss over himself because he went out and signed a Fidelity Oath, swearing that he has never cheated on his wife, seduced an intern, or had a fling with a gay guy.

Well, bully for him.

Although you notice he left out houseplants and hamsters. Look, I'm not saying anything here, but maybe there ought to be an investigation ...

And so this candidate for one kind of Congress--whose main qualification seems to be that he isn't a candidate for the other kind of congress-- is daring his opponent to sign a similar oath. It's nothing less than a sexual version of 1950s redbaiting.

Call it Jenny McCarthyism.

So is this really where things are now--that upholding your zipper is actually more important than upholding the Constitution?

Is this the pledge every married guy seeking office will soon be forced to take?

I pledge allegiance to the bag
I won't try and escape, it's imperative
Cause she will go public, the witch is bad
And warn the nation
Of my Bod
I'll be miserable
But she'll deliver me busted
before all.

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From the October 8-14, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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