Patterico's Pontifications

5/13/2008

Cell Phone Etiquette

Filed under: Air Security,Gadgets — DRJ @ 1:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There are many opinions about proper cell phone etiquette.

For instance, schools usually require students to turn off their cell phones during class. In addition, most pharmacies and doctor’s offices in my town have posted signs that they will not talk to patients about health care matters while patients use their cell phones. It’s surprising how upset some people get when they see that sign and have to turn off their phones.

You can almost always tell when drivers are on the phone because of the way they drive or the way their heads are tilted as they hold the phone to their ear … or the presence of an earphone and the fact they are talking with no one else around.

When it comes to driving and airline travel, however, cell phone use is more than a question of etiquette. For instance, Federal Aviation Administration regulations bar cell phone use on planes because it could interfere with the flight’s navigation system, and airlines can be fined up to $25,000 for allowing the use of cell phones during flights.

Fifty-year-old Joe David Jones, president of Austin environmental technology company Skyonic Corp., has direct experience with this FAA rule. Jones was cited for disorderly conduct because he refused to disconnect his cell phone during a recent Southwest Airlines flight:

“Jones had forgotten to turn off his phone during takeoff and received the message about his father as the plane moved closer to Dallas, said Mark Clayton, Skyonic’s vice president of corporate relations.

“His father’s heart had stopped,” Clayton said. “The cardiac unit requested a call immediately to discuss decisions regarding his father’s immediate care. “So Mr. Jones attempted to call them back. And it took several tries.”

“He expresses regret for the inconvenience that it caused the airline and its passengers, but he felt compelled because of the life and death nature of it to make that call.”

According to a police report, Jones was on his cell phone for about 20 minutes at the end of the flight. The report said Jones, when asked to turn his phone off, responded with an obscenity.”

Jones’ father may have been in a dire medical situation but he was in the care of physicians, so it’s hard for me to understand why Jones was unable to communicate his problem to the flight crew and request assistance with emergency communications. My guess is he just didn’t care that his cell phone was a problem for someone else.

— DRJ

84 Responses to “Cell Phone Etiquette”

  1. DRJ…your last line said it all…

    reff (bff229)

  2. Forgotten to turn it off? Really. With all the announcements, he just felt he was too important to play by the rules.

    Just watch. Next we will have a rule requiring that cell phones be in checked luggage because of this bozo.

    Dr. K (5139b5)

  3. i’ve developed a TTP for dealing with the terminally important here in LA.

    when i’m out somewhere (restaurant, store, etc), and the self absorbed are being irritating, either through volume, content, or holding up the line through lack of focus, i simply join in the conversation, offering suggestions, comments or pithy observations.

    this inevitably results in my being told that it’s a private conversation, where upon i suggest that they take it somewhere private, as the rest of us have no interest in their banal and pointless existence.

    /w*rks every time. %-)

    redc1c4 (292479)

  4. Not to defend someone flaunting the law or being a jerk, but the danger of modern mobile phone equipment to airline navigation systems is highly debatable. At least part of the reason for the ban was because of causing problems with the phone service itself, because mobile phone routing systems make essentially two-dimensional assumptions in their service algorithms. Also, the spectrum used by mobile devices has changed drastically over the years.

    Uncharacteristically, wikipedia has a rather good summary with citations (will wonders never cease) at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_on_aircraft

    In short, this guy may have been a jerk, but the idea that he was endangering other occupants of the plane may well be (and probably is) more a case of “everybody knows” rather than rigorous science.

    quiescere (05ad3c)

  5. “Cell Phone Etiquette” is close to being an oxymoron. I sure haven’t seen much of it. If I get the chance to join in the conversation of a nearby cell phone user, here’s what I’ll say: “Hang up!”

    dchamil (1652f3)

  6. Oh puhleeeeeeze! Have any of you been in a similar situation? I have. I got a call that my Mother was in ICU unable to speak for herself. Because she was an organized and responsible person, she had previously provided her Powers of Attorney for Health Care to her physician and the hospital, so they knew that I was the ONLY one legally able to make the life and death decisions the situation required. When you get a call like that, the last thing you are thinking about is cell phone etiquette or who might be selfish enough to be offended. You aren’t thinking about rules or that another type of communication might be able to be set up for you. Your entire focus is on the decisions you are being asked to make and dealing with the abject fear that encompasses you when you hear that a beloved parent has stopped breathing or is on death’s door.

    Sara (3337ed)

  7. quiescere,

    I expected someone to say that and it may even be true, but I have three responses:

    1. We don’t get to pick and chose the laws we obey and the laws we don’t.

    2. The same could be said of equipment at hospitals but that doesn’t make it okay to disregard similar instructions in that venue. After all, not every hospital and hospital room has state-of-the-art equipment that is unaffected by cell phone frequencies.

    3. What if this one time it did interfere with an airport/plane navigation system?

    DRJ (5f6016)

  8. Twice in the last few months while we were out shopping my 4 year old has noticed someone babbling audibly with a Blue Tooth and asked, “Daddy, why is that man/woman talking to him/herself?” My reply both times has been, “Shh, honey. They might be mentally ill.” The look I get when they realize they can’t respond back with an obscenity is priceless.

    Go_Fish (6d0473)

  9. Sara,

    If it is a true life and death situation, doctors have the authority to act without instructions from the next of kin. They may not choose what you want but they can act.

    But if you think your loved one is worth the lives of all the people on that plane, you must be a very special person.

    DRJ (5f6016)

  10. Oh, and add failure to proceed in a timely manner on a green light and inability to steer with one hand while yakking on phone to the list of tells.

    Go_Fish (6d0473)

  11. The cellphone on airplanes is a convenient fiction that I support although this situation seems to be an exception. My brother-in-law is a pilot and they use cellphones in the cockpit all the time. I support the ban because I don’t want some ditz spending four hours next to me babbling into her cellphone but there is no danger to the airplane.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  12. Dr. K: i’ve forgotten to turn my cell phone off several times. I pull the cell phone out of my pockets and throw it in my bag when I go through security, and then I often don’t take the phone back out of my bag after I go through security.

    By the time that the announcements come by, I’ve forgotten all about it (and since I’m not paying attention to the announcements anyhow, they don’t jog my memory). When we land and I deplane and pull my phone out of my bag to check time, etc, I notice that it’s still on and feel guilty.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  13. 1. We don’t get to pick and chose the laws we obey and the laws we don’t.

    It isn’t a law, it’s a regulation put in place by an agency who’s “Powers That Be” are not elected. It can cease to be a law simply by them saying “forget that one”. No vote, just a decision.

    2. The same could be said of equipment at hospitals but that doesn’t make it okay to disregard similar instructions in that venue. After all, not every hospital and hospital room has state-of-the-art equipment that is unaffected by cell phone frequencies.

    However, all airplanes used for comercial flight have roughly the same electronic packages. The reason they were banned in the first place was the first couple of generation Cell Phones had horrible “signal leak”, and older electronics packages had weak shielding. This hasn’t been the case for years, maybe even a decade.

    3. What if this one time it did interfere with an airport/plane navigation system?

    And what if this one time taking your shoes off during the flight causes teh pilot to pass out? The physical possibility of a modern (up to FAA regs) commercial flight experiancing interferance is so statisticly minor as to effectly not exist (nothing is “impossible”, only “improbable”, and this counts to the far, FAR side of the latter).

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  14. DRJ: there’s very little evidence to support the claim that using your cell phone on the plane risks causing the plane to crash. It *does* risk confusing cell towers on the ground.

    Many airlines are seriously considering allowing cell phone use in flight.

    I don’t see this as a safety issue, but rather as an etiquette issue … and on balance, in a life or death situation, ISTM that etiquette requires that his neighbors put up with the annoyance.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  15. most of us posting on this site can remember back when we didnt walk around w/ a cell phone constantly. and we got along just fine. even in this day and age they arent that necessary. and for those who think its a stupid regulation, work through the proper channels to change it. or ignore it and pay the price.

    chas (a235bf)

  16. Cellphones don’t interfere with planes or hospital equipment.

    ParatrooperJJ (8a6914)

  17. “For instance, Federal Aviation Administration regulations bar cell phone use on planes because it could interfere with the flight’s navigation system,”

    In the interests of scientific research, I’ve tried to ascertain the effects of cell phone use on the nav systems in the following airplanes: GIV, CL601, LR45, A300 & A310.

    I’ve been unable to discern any effect on any nav system (GPS, VOR, ILS, NDB) in any of these different airplane types. None of these airplanes has been equipped for LORAN (needless to say) so I can’t comment on potential effects on that system. I didn’t bother to check in the DC10 because I couldn’t see how a cell phone could affect an INS.

    If anyone has further information on how airplane nav systems might be affected by cell phone use, I’m interested.

    GH (1873ea)

  18. I suppose the cause of the crash of Flight 93 was all those cell phone users calling to report the hijacking. What a load of B.S. Every plane I’ve been on in the past decade has a phone embedded in the seat back. Doesn’t seem to be a problem using those phones at a gazillion dollars a minute.

    My problem with this story is the fact they charge the guy with disorderly conduct making it a criminal offense.

    I faced a stop breathing situation twice with my Mother. Since she had the Powers of Atty for Health care and a separate Directive to Physicians, they could not legally treat her beyond simple triage without my okay. I don’t know how the law works if these documents are not legally in place. But, with the state of health care today, I would not trust any doctor or health care worker to make those decisions, especially for the elderly. I was told time and time again to “just let her go” she “has lived a full life.” Yet, she fully recovered and lived another 5 productive years to the ripe old age of 94.

    If you trust a doctor as a god-like individual to make these kinds of decisions for you or a loved one, you are a fool, especially when dealing with elder care.

    Sara (3337ed)

  19. Jeez and what happened before cell phones?

    “It isn’t a law, it’s a regulation put in place by an agency who’s “Powers That Be” are not elected.”

    So its like all of the Code of Federal regulations.

    stef (87fe55)

  20. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t have a problem with people talking on cell phones.

    I have a problem with people talking loudly, whether it’s to a person next to them or someone on the other end of the phone call. Cell phones just make it more likely that people will be talking loudly.

    I am, however, still shaking my head about the time a couple months ago when I was at a social event, waiting in line to get food. The person I was chatting with apparently decided I wasn’t interesting enough and pulled out her cell phone to call a friend. Ouch.

    MamaAJ (788539)

  21. A 2006 study by scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University shows that interference caused by mobile phones may create more interference to aircraft navigation systems than previously thought:

    The Carnegie study, carried out with support from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, showed that phones and other portable electronic devices such as laptops or games consoles can interfere with critical aircraft electronics.

    “We found that the risk posed by these portable devices is higher than previously believed,” said aircraft electronics expert Bill Strauss. “These devices can disrupt normal operation of key cockpit instruments, especially Global Positioning Systems receivers, which are increasingly vital for safe landings,” he said.

    While standard airline safety warnings inform passengers they must keep their phones switched off during flights, this has long been dismissed as an unnecessary precaution.

    Until now, the main logic behind the phone ban has been that high speed planes full of passengers making calls cause massive disruption to regionalized cellular networks as they sweep overhead.

    Cynics have also accused the airline industry of implementing the ban to force passengers to make use of the costly satellite phones usually installed in modern aircraft.

    The situation is set to change from December 2006, following revisions by U.S. federal regulators that will permit flights to carry onboard transmitters linking aircraft to satellites and allowing passengers to use mobile phones as normal.

    But Granger Morgan, head of Carnegie’s Engineering and Public Policy department, said the new study should prompt a rethink. “We feel that passenger use of portable electronic devices on aircraft should continue to be limited for the safety of all concerned,” he said.

    Researchers using a special antenna that tracks radio emissions found that on average, one to four cell phone calls are made from every flight in the northeast United States. Some of the calls were made during sensitive flight stages such as shortly after take-off or during the final approach, exposing aircraft to greater risk of accident, the researchers said.

    DRJ (5f6016)

  22. A cell phone is a radio signal. Radio signals on the same frequency cancel each other out. The phenomenon is known as ‘a heterodyne’ and is very common in places like airports were everyone is one the same frequency as the tower.

    http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2002/03/28/heterodyne/

    talks about a suspected heterodyne in causing the Tenerife crash.

    I am not sure about improvements to radio communications//cell phones to know if the situation could never occur again.

    Adriane (09d132)

  23. Researchers using a special antenna that tracks radio emissions found that on average, one to four cell phone calls are made from every flight in the northeast United States. Some of the calls were made during sensitive flight stages such as shortly after take-off or during the final approach, exposing aircraft to greater risk of accident, the researchers said.

    And how many of those were being made by the pilots/crew? A passenger, as indicated by the story, will catch hell for that.

    Pablo (99243e)

  24. I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but once you’ve been through it, your perspective changes. My suggestion is to talk to your loved ones and find out what they want and decide if you feel you can, in good conscience, carry out their wishes. My Mother made it clear she did not want extraordinary measures taken, however, she also did not want to be starved to death or be left to die of dehydration, nor did she want to experience pain, so that was part of her directive to continue to supply sustenance and pain meds. I knew I wouldn’t be able to pull the plug without a waiting period to be sure the situation was irrevocable, so we agreed on a one week waiting period and then a reevaluation. It is one less stressor when you know in advance what you have to do or what your loved one expects you to do. If you do not think you can carry out their wishes, then don’t accept the responsibility in the first place. And once you are in agreement, don’t give a rat’s a$$ what strangers, meddlers, social services types, or doctors think you should do, not a one of them has your loved one’s best interests or desires at heart, especially those social services types.

    Sara (3337ed)

  25. So let’s see, according to this story Mr. Jones makes a major mistake in failing to turn off his cellphone once the doors close on his flight. He apparently then compounds the mistake by checking a message that comes in while he is aloft, then finally completes the hat trick by making a call (and several attempts) before the flight has landed. Regardless of whether his father’s life was in such a precarious situation that the doctors absolutely had to talk to him right away to decide upon treatment, I would say that the fine is justified and Mr. Jones should have the good grace to accept it.

    An interesting similar situation to consider: Let’s say a friend suffers a heart attack while riding in my car with me and I choose to rush him to a hospital. On the way, I run several red lights. Fortunately for everyone involved I don’t cause any accidents, but a cop spots me and tails me the final few blocks to the hospital with lights flashing. As soon as we load my fried onto the ER gurney, should the cop write me up a citation for running the light?

    JVW (c86819)

  26. As I recall, the majority of cell phones in use today are digital. The FAA, however, is notorious for being stuck in an ice-age. Their como gear is all analog, and in a spectrum that does not conflict with cells.
    The contention that the cell use will interfere with GPS is laughable. In the work I’ve done in the Coast Guard Auxilery, we have multiple GPS units operating on single boats, alont with 3 or more VHF-FM marine radios, sometimes a Hi-Seas HF unit, plus radar and ADF units. Cell phones have never interferred with this equipment. And, in fact, when checking in with command, if we are discussing a sensitive subject, we will be directed to call on a cell, so no-one can eavesdrop.
    All that being said, I see no reason to relax the rule. Just what everyone needs is to sit captive in an alloy tube, listening to 350 boring conversations – loud conversations.

    Another Drew (a3eda6)

  27. JVW…
    It will probably depend on your attitude when approached by the officer.
    Should he: He has the legal authority.
    Will he: It’s usually up to you.

    Another Drew (a3eda6)

  28. There’s an entirely different reason, unrelated to airplane equipment, why leaving your phone on while in a flight is a bad idea.

    It screws up the cell system. Most of them, anyway. It isn’t really a problem for CDMA, but for systems like GSM and IS-136, it’s a real problem.

    Cell systems are all based on frequency reuse: different phones in different locations are on the same frequency. The reason that works is that they’re a long way from each other, and can only really “see” a single cell. So the calls don’t interfere with one another.

    But if the phone is in the air, it can see a large number of cells. If it tries to open a traffic channel, several cells at once may try to respond to it. And even if only one does, its carrier will still be heard by other cells attempting to use that same frequency for someone else’s call.

    It isn’t as much of a problem for CDMA, for reasons much too esoteric to go into, but even there it’s not really very good. (It doesn’t interfere with other calls, but it raises the noise floor system wide.)

    If the FAA didn’t have regs against it, the FCC would step in.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  29. (Another reason why it’s not good for CDMA is that a phone in the air will tend to do a lot of idle handoffs, which adds significant loading on the paging channel.)

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  30. SDB…
    You’re absolutely correct about the “hand-off” problem.
    It seems that a correction for this, would be each plane is it’s own cell-site, with communication with a satellite. But, for that to work, would require the plane to be sufficiently shielded to prevent leakage to a ground-station, or, the phones would have to be limited in their output.
    Since either is probably prohibitive, it is just easier, and an enhancement of etiquette, to ban their use, and limit conversations to the air-phones.
    Works for me.

    Another Drew (a3eda6)

  31. Agreed, Another Drew (#27), and if I were to “respon[d] with an obscenity” as Mr. Jones allegedly did, I would fully expect the cop to write me up.

    JVW (c86819)

  32. “My guess is he just didn’t care that his cell phone was a problem for someone else.”

    Oh, please. How was that cell phone a problem for anyone except the anal retentive authoritarian types who get hysterical every time someone breaks a RULE? The person being rude here was not the guy talking to the doctors about his father’s heart attack, it was the unbelievable twits who kept harassing him about the call after he explained what is going on. Profanity on his part was certainly called for after a certain point.

    What kind of twit thinks stupid rules like that are inviolable absolutes that can’t be broken even in life or death situations? Cell phone bans on airplanes have one purpose: to force people to use the outrageously overpriced airline phone system. Fears about navigation interference are a hobgoblin. Using the law to punish someone who violates that rule is like using the law to punish someone who sneaks a candy bar into a movie theater.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good idea to ban cell phone use on planes because I don’t want to sit through a two-hour flight listening to someone talk on their cellphone. But rules are made to serve people, not people to serve rules. When the rule is doing more harm than good, any decent person will break it.

    “1. We don’t get to pick and chose the laws we obey and the laws we don’t.”

    Oh, please. Tell me that you have never sped, never made an illegal U-Turn, and never jay-walked.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  33. In this day and age of terrorism and attacks, its possible that the signals generated by the phones constitute a security problem for the air plane while on transit. Phone signals are easy to pick up and in the event of a terrorist attack may expose the plane to harm. (I dont know. Must have picked that up from a movie I watched or something…)

    love2008 (d2a57f)

  34. You’re probably think it would give away it’s position. A problem for ground forces (I recall one imbedded Fox Nes crew being told to shut down because their signal was being used in Afghanastan), but anything likely to be used against a jet probably won’t be honing in on you talking to grandma…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  35. #21 DRJ:

    A 2006 study by scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University shows that interference caused by mobile phones may create more interference to aircraft navigation systems than previously thought:

    Baloney. With almost thirty years electronics experience, much of it in the theory and practice of causing harmful interference, let me say that CNN report is a load of hooey.

    (So, BTW, are the little signs some idiots have put up next to their gas pumps “prohibiting” the use of cell phones near the pump. You’re more dangerous getting back into the car while the pump is running and then getting back out to disconnect, because you can (not will) build up a static charge. I may spend a significant amount of time in jail after the next time some HS dropout tells me how “dangerous” and how many gas stations have blown up because of cell phone use while pumping.)

    While there are good reasons for not using a cell phone in flight (like the flight attendant finding your lifeless, strangled body after I’ve deplaned a transcontinental flight with you sitting next to me) as Stephen mentions above, flight safety isn’t one of them.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  36. Oh, and among the harmful things that can be done with cell phones is this.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  37. #33:

    I dont know.

    No, you don’t.

    And Adriane, … just nevermind. Sigh.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  38. Regardless of whether there is a hazard in any specific usage scenario, the responses here surely indicate that many of you have morphed into the Pavlovian bots that cell companies dreamed of. Not to mention that “Corporate Relations” VP Clayton is a flack who may or may not be telling the gospel truth sans embellishment concerning the dire nature of the call. Pay the fine and STFU would be an appropriate response in this instance, because if he had turned the phone off as requested then this wouldn’t have happened. That this was a one-time error that just happenstance let through an emergency call is either miraculous (unlikely considering his demeanor) or BS. And as courteous and polite as I’m sure all of YOU are regarding your “private” conversations, allowing non-stop blabbing by one and all throughout flights (including redeyes) only invites much bigger problems. Leave it as is – it isn’t fatal to the self-important types.

    rhodeymark (6797b5)

  39. Don’t mistake my disagreement over the policy (What it really is, it’s flawed reasoning for existing) for my thinking people should be allowed to talk on cellphones on airplanes…

    I ride the bus in this city. I listen for sometimes 30 minutes a stretch people talking very loudly on their cell phones. If I had to listen to it for a flight for a couple of hours, I would react much like EW1 would.

    Only my flight attendant wouldn’t ever find all of the body…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  40. #38 rhodeymark:

    Leave it as is –

    Sorry, can’t see that the FAA should be involving itself in what should be a matter for the airlines themselves to decide what constitutes acceptable use by their passengers. Or not.

    Firstly, the FAA’s use of large bore cannon to swat at mosquitoes is a waste of my tax dollars; and secondly, carrying a passenger for hire is a contractual arrangement that allows the carrier to specify the terms of hire, and if the passenger doesn’t like it, they can find a different carrier or convince the carrier of their choice that different terms are in order.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  41. I think it is more of a matter of etiquette. It’s offensive an disrespectful to engage in phone talk just anywhere. For example you cant be taking a call during a job interview. It gives the impression you are not serious about the job. it is particularly offensive to take a call in church, during the service. Yet some folks do it. It is wrong to take a call during classes, or while discussing with a client or a boss. Such should be discouraged. And on flight, it can be very annoying to have your neighbour sitting close to you, yapping away on the phone while you are trying to catch a quick nap. Its a matter of common sense. Phone users should use their senses. If they did, the law would be unnecessary. And I also think it is annoying to……(buzzzzzz)…excuse me….I got to take this call……(in hushed tones) click***hello….I told you not to call me with this number……yes…….no……..no…….yes……I love you too…….I ve said that before…….NO!…….

    love2008 (d2a57f)

  42. 41:

    If they did, the law would be unnecessary.

    Bad public policy, compounded by being based on patently false premises, remains bad policy and has the added effect of annoying the populace.

    Since its been demonstrated that there are some people without enough sense to forebear the use of their phones aboard aircraft, perhaps an airline or two could provide a “phone using” class of seating.

    For a more than nominal extra fee, of course.

    /That’s arguably what the “airphones” in the seatbacks are, but maybe they could put them all in the back of the plane or something.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  43. A thing to point out with the study DRJ points to is that it doesn’t show that any flight systems were disrupted or that the signals detected caused any problems. But just that the signals COULD cause a problem.

    Well hell, alot of things COULD cause a problem, but given that the researchers were on numerous flights, criscrossing the country, did they encounter one incident where the flight crew reported a flight system hiccup or disruption? Signs point to ‘no’ given the press release information.

    Now, I’m all in favor of a cell phone ban on planes and public transportation in general. BUT an emergency situation should hold prudence unless cell phones are SHOWN to be a danger on planes, and sorry, they are nowhere near that type of evidence.

    “My guess is he just didn’t care that his cell phone was a problem for someone else.”

    DRJ, my house burned down a year ago come august. I found out about it driving home from work, when my wife called in hysterics. My only thought was to get home period. When a policeman stopped me at the top of the road, not 500 feet from my house, telling me I couldn’t go back, I told him it was my house. When he said he wouldn’t let me back, I told him either I was going back either in or out of cuffs. And I can tell you, I normally treat cops with the utmost courtesy due to their thankless jobs they work.

    Now, its pretty easy to pass judgment when you’re all level-headed and unemotional about a situation. But when its your dad dying, your house burning, your mom in an ambulance, your wife on a floor somewhere, your just not as concerned about ettiquete in general. As I say, I’ll buy all the drinks when its over, but right now, my concern is priority.

    If cellphones were a real danger or shown to be, that changes matters tremendously, but that Carneige Mellon study, at its best, suggests the possibility.

    Schmoe (a8060f)

  44. It’s interesting how many people think they are the only ones who have ever had to deal with adversity.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  45. #44. DRJ: A very true statement, but as people we are selfish because we never truly can see things from another’s perspective.

    Joe David Jones behavior certainly sounds reprehensible, but as Schmoe notes about his own behavior when his house burnt down, it is certainly understandable when viewed in that context.

    And Joe David may be well aware, as I am, that the danger to flight safety of cell phone use is utter fiction, which honestly annoys me more than somebody’s illegal use of a cell phone aboard an airplane.

    It seems to me that to justify bad regulation by lying about the reason for it undermines the very foundation of the republic, diminishing respect for the rule of law, and ultimately being far more dangerous than the putative danger to flight safety.

    As does the attempt to coerce public policy to “combat” anthropogenic global warming, which at least has a basis in the possibility of being possible.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  46. My wife has been a flight attendant for American for over 15 years, and I used to be a frequent business traveler for most of my career. We both think allowing cell phone conversations during flights is a terrible idea, but one thing I haven’t seen mentioned in this discussion is the option of using text messages. This option is now being tested on American and a few others, and would probably alleviate the annoyance factor of receiving and sending important messages during flights. Now, if we can just do something about that constant clicking…

    Dmac (9dd3a1)

  47. Where in the world does all this cell phone animus come from? I see lot of people weaving down the road – not all of them on the phone – but maybe that’s Detroit. I see lots and lots of people on the phone, and even more in animated conversation with their passengers, but still driving safely. And although I’ve never sat beside anyone in a plane who’s on a long phone conversation, I fail to see the difference between that person and the woman who sat next to me a few weeks ago on a transcontinental flight complaining the whole way about the cabin temperature.

    Maybe we wouldn’t all be so brittle about the RULES if the airlines and the TSA didn’t put us in that mode with all their pointless security charade. I dropped my elderly in-laws at Detroit Metro today and got a pass so I could help them get to the gate with mom-in-law’s wheelchair. I forgot that I had my pocketknife along, as usual, but I went through security without a peep. I had to wait while BOTH my in-laws were taken aside, wanded, patted down, my father-in-law had to remove his belt and got special attention paid to his beer belly, who knows why, because he has pins in his hip and she has an artificial knee. All while I’m standing there with a (small) knife in my pocket.

    Is it any wonder that people begin to get rather skeptical about all the rules and regs?

    Don (9ca635)

  48. I dont think calls should be banned on flight. There should be some kind of clause to allow for special situations, like an emergency. Sometimes making those calls could make the difference between life and death. Take for example the 9/11 terrorist attack. It was the information some people in the 4th airplane got from outside sources that alerted them to the fact that theirs was no ordinary hijack. That indeed this was a suicide plot to use their plane as a missile to attack the white house. This led to the struggle with the terrorists that led to the plane landing instead in a piece of land in penn. It was the use of a phone that made a difference. Again, it is a matter of common sense and necessity.

    love2008 (d2a57f)

  49. I see lot of people weaving down the road – not all of them on the phone – but maybe that’s Detroit.

    Oh. They’re reloading.

    Pablo (99243e)

  50. Once again, authorities create scof-laws in the general populace. This “No cell-phone use aboard airliners” is analogous to the 55mph national speed limit; in that, though the initial reason for its’ implementation was sound (the OPEC oil shock of ’73), once that crisis passed (particularly in the 80’s, after de-regulation and the bottoming of oil around $12/bbl), to continue on that route for another 10+ years was bureaucratic idiocy (I was going to say “obstinance”, but that would give them too much credit).

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  51. What galls me is the number of times I see someone sit down at a restaurant or bar (especially in airports) and immediately get on the phone. I’ve seen a number of ignored servers/bartenders look like they want to slap the Bluetooth right off a guy’s head. If it were up to me, I’d allow it.

    Pablo (99243e)

  52. I am a habitual cell phone user, from the blackberries to the Treo, and now the Centro. I apologize for my past transgressions, and the future inevitable ones.

    JD (5f0e11)

  53. I could get by without the phone part, but text and internet are essentials for me. I would love to be able to read Patterico, DRJ, and WLS while flying.

    While on the topic, since I know Patterico is a fellow Treo-ite, wouldn’t a Patterico Mobile version be nice? Hint, hint ….

    JD (5f0e11)

  54. My problem with those who think that cellphone use on an airplane comes as follows:

    First, who cares who or what wrote the rules. You don’t like the rules, don’t fly. You can take a train, a car, walk, ride a bike, hitchhike…

    But, you want to take a plane. Follow their rules.

    Second, since when does your “right” to use your cell phone when it is against the rules get to interfere with my “right” to be seated quietly on a plane flying to my destination, and not having to listen to the argument or having my flight delayed because you won’t follow the rules, or having my flight returned to the original point because you have to be removed, or having the arrival and off-loading of the plane delayed at the end because the marshalls have to remove you first because you couldn’t follow the rules.

    Just follow the rules….or take another mode of transportation….

    (and please, don’t bother responding that not flying will take you too long…you can talk on the cell phone the entire trip, take care of all your business, and even catch up on the gossip…)

    reff (bff229)

  55. No one has said they have a “right” to use their cell phone on an airplane, and all I and others have done is point out that the reasons for the rule are false.

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  56. And I’ve pointed out that people who think that rules are absolutes that may never be broken under any circumstances are pricks.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  57. Furthermore, no one –and I mean no one– actually believes that rules like this may never be broken under any circumstances. I’ve yet to see anyone say that the 9/11 victims who used their cell phones on the hijacked flight shouldn’t have broken the rules.

    What you really mean is that you don’t think someone hearing about his father’s heart attack and wanting to find out what is going on is important enough to disturb your in-flight peace and quiet but you don’t want to admit that you are such a heartless bastard that you think your peace and quiet is more important than the emotional distress of the person sitting next to you who thinks his father may be dying, so you come up with this weanie excuse about how he broke the RULES –the HOLY RULES.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  58. I’d have said that if that’s what I meant, Doc Rampage, but on the plus side your small comment helped me make a decision I’ve thought about for a long time.

    I’m leaving Patterico’s Pontifications. This will be my last comment and here is my last post. Unlike Hillary Clinton, at least I know when it’s time to leave.

    DRJ (5f6016)

  59. DRJ~ I am really unhappy to see this last comment of yours, you’ve done a terrific job of posting interesting and sometimes provocative stories.

    I will certainly miss you, and I certainly hope that I’ll continue to bump into you from time to time out there in the Internet.

    :(

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  60. Doc, if she really does leave, you’re in some serious trouble, bubba…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  61. #57 – that is the lamest rationale that keeps cropping up in this thread. those sorts of tragedies arent new, people dealt w/ them before they had cell phones. work to change the rules or accept the consequences when you break them.

    chas (a235bf)

  62. Addressing JVW’s question, I actually know of a particular case where a woman was speeding her husband to the hospital because her husband was having a heart attack. A cop tried to pull her over, but she wouldn’t stop. He followed her to the hospital, and his first reaction was to try to arrest her WHILE SHE WAS TRYING TO HELP HER HUSBAND INTO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. The jerk delayed the husband’s treatment by at least 5 or 10 minutes while the whole thing was sorted out.

    Sure, MAYBE the woman should have pulled over and asked for help, but then again maybe not. Most times, the cop makes you sit in the car for a couple of minutes while he runs your license plate. And if she had gotten out of the car, running towards him in a panic, he might not have reacted well.

    I’m entirely with the guy on the phone here, and this seems an odd case to pick to complain about “Cell Phone Etiquette.” If communication is physically possible, of COURSE the doctors should involve the person who holds the legal right to make healthcare decisions for the unconscious patient. Did the guy break the rules by leaving the phone on? Maybe so. But I would have done the same thing, if I was forced to be in the air while a parent was dying. And when the flight attendants tried to get me off the phone, I probably would have used an obscenity or two, also. And we haven’t heard directly from the flight attendants yet, to know if perhaps he did explain to them what the call was.

    On an unrelated noted, DRJ, while I disagree with you on this topic, it’s a shame to see you giving up posting here; I’ve very much enjoyed your posts.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  63. I just saw this.

    Doc, you will immediately apologize for that comment or be banned for good. That goes whether DRJ stays here or not. That was UTTERLY out of line and I won’t tolerate it.

    Make your decision.

    Patterico (082419)

  64. …the FAA’s use of large bore cannon to swat at mosquitoes …

    The Iron Law of Oligarchy is a many and splendid thing.

    DRJ – wishing you health & happiness in all your future endeavors.

    Adriane (09d132)

  65. Jaysus Keerist. I need to keep up, too.

    DRJ, Doc didn’t mean nothing, I don’t think. Even if he did, it ain’t hardly no reason for you to walk away. We’ll all just slap him upside the head for you and tell him to mind his manners better next time.

    This is not a newspaper, but the newspapermen’s motto applies: Illegitimi non corburundum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

    nk (572685)

  66. DRJ must stay. Obama must go. I speak from the heart.

    I enjoy all your posts, please reconsider.

    Vermont Neighbor (ef4b44)

  67. Not to get into the middle of something, but I don’t think Doc was addressing DRJ. It seems to me he was reacting (probably badly) to post #54 by reff. Patterico will deal with Doc as he wishes, but I do think there’s been a mistake here, although I can’t be sure.

    DRJ, please don’t leave. Your posts, thoughtful comments and unmatched intellect are what inspired me to comment here in the first place. (I don’t really comment anywhere else) Patterico does great work, but he’s too busy to replace you. You are one of a kind and I for one will sorely miss you if you decide to go.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  68. I’ll add that I’m generally in sympathy with the cell phone user on the plane, as it’s my sense from the reading I’ve done that cell phones don’t generally pose a risk.

    But I could be wrong about that, and if I am, DRJ is right. And even if I’m not wrong, there no call to be rude to her or anyone who agrees with her about it.

    Doc’s a long-time commenter here, but he needs to observe basic manners. If he just flew off the handle, fine. Happens to all of us. Apologize and we’ll forget it.

    If he insists on standing on pride, then ta-ta. It’s a big blogosphere, and if you’re rude and can’t apologize, we’ll move on to the next reader.

    Up to him. I hope he has the decency to apologize.

    Patterico (b93920)

  69. I think that Doc was referring to my posts, and not DRJ….

    So, I’ll respond…

    Doc…what other rules are acceptable to be broken on an airline flight? Is refusing to sit down during takeoff/landing acceptable if you are simply uncomfortable in the seat? ( I bring this up because I was once traveling and suffered a back spasm shortly before landing, and was screaming in pain while sitting down, as I had been ordered to do, and then was held after the flight for a “disturbance” while following the rules).

    I ask this question because the realistic failure to follow basic rules leads to anarchy. You use your phone regardless of the rules or for your reasons, I won’t sit down, and both of us had valid reasons for this. What’s next???

    You picked on my comment about a quiet flight, and ignored the other reasons for simply following the rules. We read almost daily of flights interrupted by people who can’t/won’t follow the rules, flights returned to the origin point, flights diverted to other airports, and the like, and with enough of this happening, nearly always because someone had some reason to break the rules (and we all think our reason is acceptable, when it simply is not) that they thought necessary…..

    I’ll close….if he had turned his phone off, as he was asked to do, just following the rules….he would have gotten the message about his father when he got to the ground…..

    And, none of this would have happened….

    reff (59b2ad)

  70. Look, I thinkthe rule is stupid, but I still shut the phone off.

    I don’t exactly agree wih drug laws, but n a jury I could convict based on evidence weighed against the law on the books.

    Same thing.

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  71. DJR!

    Please, ONLY leave if you will make a blog of your own– PLEASE!

    Can’t you see there are folks here who love your way with writing, your view, your way with words?

    Dang it, you’re a large part of why *I* started writing a lot more….

    Foxfier (74f1c8)

  72. DRJ, I’m genuinely sorry that my comment caused you such distress. I would like to add my own heartfelt wishes for you to return. I have always enjoyed your contributions.

    My inappropriate language was not intended to attack you, it was only a result of my inept effort to express how baffled and upset I was that anyone could begrudge a man the courtesy of calling to find out the condition of his possibly-dying father. I’m afraid that I cannot apologize for finding this attitude to be outrageous, but I should have found a better way than name-calling to express myself.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  73. DRJ, here’s a deal for you: you stay on at Patterico’s and I’ll leave. I’m feeling a bit unwelcome here after your bombshell. It’s like when the kid with the constantly runny nose (that would be me) shows up at a party and rubs a bugger on the birthday girl (that would be you) who goes “eeww” and runs up to her room and slams the door. Even if he apologizes, the runny-nose kid should just leave the party at that point whether the birthday girl comes back or not.

    Besides, I wouldn’t want you to think that I only apologized because of Patterico’s threat –believe me, the threat only made it harder to admit that I was wrong.

    So, in order to avoid the possibility of giving further offense to the birthday girl and her many fans, and in order to avoid the possibility of being thrown out bodily, I’m hereby banning myself from from Patterico’s Pontifications.

    Bye, everyone. It’s been a gas.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  74. I think that the point needs to be made that it’s all very well to lay out the rational steps that a calm person should have taken to obey the rules, but people who have just been informed that a close family member is dying are unlikely to be either rational or calm. Indeed, people who are calm under such circumstances are apt to be criticized as ‘uncaring’.

    I guess my position here is that ‘disorderly conduct’ is about right, with a plea for a suspended sentence. I expect people under that kind of emotional stress to be prone to disorderly conduct. I also expect them to be subject to the punishment laid down by the law when this happens. I further expect the legal system to take into account any mitigating circumstances when punishment is assigned.

    I loath compulsive cell-phone chatterers, but I loath “zero tolerance” issues that get people severely punished for doing something understandable (like giving a fried a Midol) just as much.

    C. S. P. Schofield (eaaf98)

  75. Doc, if she stays, all is forgiven on my end…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  76. Besides, I wouldn’t want you to think that I only apologized because of Patterico’s threat –believe me, the threat only made it harder to admit that I was wrong.

    I know it did, but you still did the right thing.

    I don’t really understand what’s behind DRJ’s announcement, but there’s no reason you should have to self-ban, Doc. For what it’s worth, as I said, I tend to agree with you on the substance. Your mode of expression was unacceptably nasty, but that happens to everyone from time to time and you recognized it and acknowledged it.

    I probably jumped down your throat more than I normally would have because I initially read your comment as a direct attack on DRJ, whose readership I badly want to maintain.

    As far as I’m concerned you’re still welcome here, if you want to continue to read and comment. It’s of course up to you.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  77. whose readership I badly want to maintain.

    *chuckles* Because most of us like her more. :)

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  78. This was an unfortunate end to a good post. I hope both will find a way to make their way back, even if a break is desired. DRJ – I lurk more than comment, but I too will miss your posts because you touch on unique subjects that I always seem to find interesting.

    rhodeymark (6797b5)

  79. Hey everyone! It’s okay. We have had people post more insulting and demeaning comments on these threads and somehow we all get along. DRJ, let me say this, you are cool. You were the first person to say something really nice to me when I posted my first comment on this blog. You were the party girl that encouraged me to come into the party and not stand outside the door. Even when some other guests werent so inviting. You are the reason I consider myself part of this family and if you leave, Love2008 will also leave. think about it. And Doc Rampage, (You are really causing one heck of a rampage), we understand you too. If you leave, it will really make it hard for us to put this episode behind us. Feel free to express yourself, the way you feel about it. We like it. If Doc is bad, wonder what anyone will say about the great, bad, big boy LEVI. Yet we all love to read his comments even though sometimes they make us wince with #$$%%@! Hey guys, thats the beauty of democracy. Love to all in 2008.

    love2008 (d2a57f)

  80. This post is a hard one to wrap one’s mind around. It has too many facets. Contracts, both of the passenger with the airline and the flight attendants with their employer; federal regulations; possible technological reasons; acceptable social behavior in a confined space; and, in this poor guy’s case, a family emergency and state criminal law. Hard to make them all into a palatable mixture.

    nk (572685)

  81. I am sympathetic with Jones. What an overwhelming sense of powerlessness to be up in the air and unable to help his dad (even just by being with him). While obnoxious, rude, and inflammatory, one can forgive him due to duress.

    Most people, including myself, have behaved less nobly than we would have liked during intensely trying and draining situations. Kudos to those who can more easily hold it together with grace. The rest of us just do the best we can and sometimes that may be a rather messy proposition.

    Dana (b4a26c)

  82. I think what is being missed is that he was very rude to the flight attendant and that the airline could be fined $25,0000 for allowing him to continue talking.

    John (85b7b1)

  83. John –
    Also that he may have been able to use a phone on the plane– I know there are SOME planes with built-in phones, and a flight attendant may have been able to help.

    Foxfier (74f1c8)

  84. DRJ: Doc’s comment wasn’t particularly nice, but it wasn’t that far out of the boundaries of what one should expect to encounter from time to time on any online forum, including this one. If anything a single commenter can say makes you want to give up blogging, the answer is not to quit and publicly blame that person, but to take a deep breath, count to 10 (or 100), and if you still feel upset, considering continuing blogging with comments disabled. Another option, which I’m sure Patterico will hate but which you might should consider anyway, is to start a blog of your own. That could improve the overall dynamic significantly. You’ll have less traffic, of course, but the traffic will consist entirely of people who sought out you, rather than those who sought out Patterico and happened to stumble across you.

    Doc: as surely as nothing you said (or even could have said) is a reason for DRJ to quit, the same holds in reverse. You made a couple of slightly intemperate comments, got spanked, and apologized. No big whoop, it happens to us all now and then. It’s not a reason to stop reading this blog or commenting here. The way I see it, there are only two good reasons for anyone not to comment here:

    1. They don’t like to comment here.
    2. Patterico has banned them from commenting here.

    I’m pretty sure #1 does not apply in your case, and I know #2 doesn’t. So comment here, dammit.

    Xrlq (c32098)


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