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No Ducking These Issues

Sorry. We have two disturbing articles in our section today.

There's no way else to describe them. Both consider brave-new-world technologies. One is biomedical. The other comes to you from cyberspace, more obnoxious than a blaring TV at an airport.

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The cover story, by Jane Lampman, dives headlong into the turbulent moral and ethical issues of human cloning. Her extensive examination of what one source calls one of the "greatest decision in human history," on a par with the atomic bomb, is a serious, sober discussion of something we cannot leave to the experts. The significance is obvious, however much we'd rather not think about human cloning.

The import of Tom Regan's column (Page B4), on the use of virtual ads in televised sports, is not so obvious. It's all about a cyber-skunk in the living room.

Television is not baseball friendly. The game's tempo is not electronic. The field of vision needed for a fan to adequately take in what's going on just doesn't fit on the screen. Better to go to the ballpark. Hockey also comes up short on the tube. Too fast for the camera. Football on the other hand thrives on TV.

The game is too complex to follow live in the stands (and the weather can be lousy). A camera goes directly to the action. It tracks the ball in ways not possible to the naked eye. A zoom lens combined with good announcers results in better-informed fans sitting comfortably in their living room.

A highly visible, carefully designed, computer-generated ad that drags a TV viewer's eye away from the game to itself will not only demean a sport, it will alienate fans as well.

Tom's column is a high-inside pitch at virtual ads.

* Comments or questions? Write to Ideas Editor, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or e-mail:

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