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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

CBS News Doing What It Does Best

I think I'm becoming a skilled professional when it comes to judging the veracity of "reporters" and their "reports" on the network news. I was paying only peripheral attention to CBS Up To The Minute news yesterday morning as I was getting ready to head out of town when this story came on:

Lead Found In Lunchboxes

(CBS) When 5-year-old Henry Smith sat down for his lunch at Berkeley's Monteverdi pre-school his mom was certain he was getting a healthy meal until she did a home test and found his Spiderman lunch box had lead in it, CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

"I can't believe there might be lead in my kid's lunch box. After all we know about lead, why is that still being part of our products sold in the U.S.?" Silas asks. (
Naturally, this caught my attention. What cruel and uncaring corporation would knowingly produce lunchboxes that will have devastating effects on the little tykes that eat out of them? It has to be those Enron bastards!

But then I sifted through the information being broadcast and the word "Berkeley" leaped out. Berkeley. Liberal paranoia-think. Delusion. Fear. Could there be something else going on here? But the report provided some startling facts.

The two moms found out about potential lead in children's soft vinyl lunch boxes after a local group called the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) did independent testing on the popular new lunch totes with faces of super heroes and pretty princesses. The group says two in 10 turned up positive for lead.

The Angela Anaconda lunch box has 90 times the federal limit for lead in painting on toys. "This one's the highest one," Micheal Green, CEH's executive director says.

Two in ten. Evil sunsabitchas.

But wait. Paint I understand. It can be injested. But a vinyl lunchbox? And this CEH. Is the Center for Environmental Health one of those whacked-out leftist groups that finds a "problem" with every product ever produced by mankind? The possibility exists.

But, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency that regulates lead, ... recently did its own testing of vinyl lunch boxes.

"We found consistently less than one microgram of accessible lead in these vinyl lunch boxes. That is not a toxic level and it is a low level," safety commission spokeswoman Patti Davis says.

So this turns out to be a non-story. More scaremongering from CBS. There are probably trace elements of arsenic in the lunchboxes too, but you'd have to eat two tons of lunchboxes before you'd notice the effects.

Interestingly, it was this same CBS News that broke that other famous "there's poison in our childrens' lunchboxes" "story" in 1989. That time the calamity of choice involved apples and a substance called Alar. Before that environmental disaster was proven to be a hoax, apples were being pulled from grocery store shelves, mothers in Berkeley were freaking out and locking their children in their bedrooms, a host of apple farmers was bankrupted, and Meryl Streep had her fifteen minutes of infamy.

All this came to mind as the lunchbox pandemic story ended. It took me less than a minute to take into account the sources of the information and the bizarre nature of the allegation. And to shake my head in disgust and disbelief. I turned the TV off and went to work.

Evil sunsabitchas is right.

Running On Empty

Well, the company got its money's worth yesterday. I was (I think) on the first flight out of Greensboro yesterday morning at 6am and came in on its last flight last night at 11:10pm. I got back to Big Walker Mountain at 1:20am. And my day begins again. I'm heading for Pennsylvania this afternoon.

I've decided, by the way, that four planes in one day is my limit. I enjoy flying on those regional jets that all the airlines have deployed for non-transcontinental flights but my butt was not meant to be in those tiny seats for too many hours in one day.

The upside to this is that my meetings in Kansas City went well. And I survived.

Today brings another adventure.