Wicked Laser: you could poke somebody’s eye out with that
Some days, I feel like I’m only a few minutes away from gumming out my own personal version of “My name’s Jack Crabb. And I am the sole white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn.”* Only mine would be more prosaic: “My name’s Maureen Rogers. And I am the sole person who remembers when teachers used a rubber tipped wooden pointer to focus our attention on something they’d written on the blackboard.”
Actually, what I just wrote was the third thing that came to mind after I read an article in The New York Times on the dangers of laser pointers.
My first thought was who the heck needs a laser pointer that’s so powerful it can damage someone’s retina. (And my second thought was that I can’t imagine many things that would be worse than losing your eyesight.)
As for who needs a laser pointer, what’s so all fired important in a Power Point presentation that you need to go beyond the simple and relatively harmless red laser pointers to rivet the audience’s attention on the bullet point of “interest”? (Personally, my true feeling is that there’s damned little in any ppt/pptx I’ve ever suffered through and/or delivered that’s so important that even the simple and relatively harmless red laser pointer is warranted.)
But green’s brighter and altogether better than red, don’t you know, and you can order a green laser pointer on the Internet for the low-low price of $29.95. And now:
… eye doctors around the world are warning that recent cases of teenagers who suffered eye damage while playing with high-powered green laser pointers are likely to be just the first of many.
And bad enough they’re blinding teenagers – ah, think of the innocent, Jack Crabb days of yore when it was believed that playing with yourself caused blindness – green laser pointers:
…have also been implicated in a ninefold increase over five years in reports of lasers’ being aimed at airplanes.
Which could cause a real problem if one got focused on the retina of Captain Bob. I know, I know, there’s autopilot and instrument landing and all that, but I for one would feel a lot better if teenaged boys went back to playing with themselves, rather than damaging their eye sight and endangering air traffic with laser pointers.
So far, the evidence on the laser harm to teenaged eyes is anecdotal, but doctors are very wary about how easy it is to get your hands (and eyes) on high-powered lasers, and many such doctors are providing the anecdotal evidence on laser harm.
One doctor who questioned whether kids could get a hold of a laser powerful enough to do the sort of eye damage he saw in one patient went on line and bought one that was 10 times greater than the FDA limit.
“I kept waiting for the error message telling me I could not complete the purchase,” [Dr. Robert Josephberg] said.
Naturally, those purveying these weapons of eye destruction are weaselly about it:
Sam Liu, chief executive of Wicked Lasers, said in an interview that its products did not violate the F.D.A. restrictions because those over the five-milliwatt limit were not called pointers.
Moreover, he added, “we make it extremely clear on our Web pages that these lasers are not only eye hazards but fire hazards.”
So I had to trip on over to Wicked Lasers to see if Mr. Liu was a
weasel man of his word.
Yes, indeed, from the info on the S3 Spyder III Arctic – “the world's most powerful laser you can legally own” (emphasis theirs), which can be had for $299.95, we learn that it’s:
…able to burn through balloons, plastic, and much more. You won't believe all this power is FDA approved and completely legal in the US.
Am I missing something here? Who on God’s green-laser (or blue-laser) earth needs a three-hundred dollar instrument to burn through balloons? Is this what clowns do at kiddie parties these days? No more of those boring ‘let’s make a dachshund out of balloons’ entertainment. Let’s beam us some holes through those suckers.
I’m sure there are plenty of legitimate users for this sort of laser – the Spyder’s not a pointer, by the way; just wanted to make sure you knew – and I suppose that if lasers are outlawed, only outlaws will have lasers. Still, what do we make of this caveat:
Note: This laser is too powerful to be used as a gun sight. Never point it at another person, animal, or vehicle.
Too powerful to be used in conjunction with an assault rifle. Wow.
But most parents, other than the ritziest of the ritz, probably don’t have to worry about Junior ordering an expensive laser that’s too powerful to be used as a gun sight. No, Junior will be plunking down that $29.95 for a laser that has twice to five times as much power as the measly laser pointers who can get at a big box retailers which are, apparently, for weak-kneed, scaredy-cat laser pointer users. Wicked Laser’s CORE gets “more attention exactly where you want it…” For Power Pointers, I guess that’s the hockey-stick sales projection. For reckless youth, I guess it means focusing the attention on your best bud’s eyeball, or beaming it at yourself in the mirror.
The CORE lets you “grab the attention of the entire room with a captivating green laser light.” For business presenters, that would be captivating the audience with the “miracle occurs here” assumption contained in bullet point three. (‘Our projection is based on the assumption that our competitors will go out of business, and that we’ll meet our planned product-ship date for the first time in seventeen years.’} As for the room that teenagers will be captivating, I guess that’s the ophthalmologist’s waiting room. (Grumble, grumble. Hair-brained kid. Grumble, grumble. Irresponsible parents. Grumble, grumble. In my day...)
A safe attention-getter. As a class 3R laser it's perfectly safe for presentations and star gazing (as long as you're responsible - don't point it at eyes, planes, and vehicles).
“As long as you’re responsible.”
Yep, that would pretty much sum up the average teenager ordering a super-cool laser pointer online, wouldn’t it?
Lines uttered by Dustin Hoffman’s character in ancient movie Little Big Man – so old it’s barely a talkie.