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I agree -- under normal circumstances -- that is is fine. However, if the wires get nicked and wet underground, it is a bit more of a potential problem.
But more important, in my mind, is the same reason that I dislike having modems plugged in when there is a thunderstorm around. Either the phone line or the power line may get hit by lightning. At that point, one line gets yanked up to thousands of volts, and the other is still near ground -- causing damage to whatever is between them -- usually the computer and modem. (In my case, the CSU/DSU for the 56k frame relay is what goes out with a near lightning strike. I lose one to a lightning strike about every other year. So far, the maker has fixed it and returned it free. (However, we had new phone cables put in the ground along our block about a year and a half ago, and so far (fingers crossed) we have not (yet) been hit.
I keep a couple of spare CSU/DSUs around (actually, three at the present) for quick return to service. But they came from hamfests and eBay auctions, not from the maker at the normal price. And *so far* -- the next thing down the line -- the Cisco router -- has not been damaged. I now have a spare for that, too.
Answering machines are another example of a very vulnerable device.
Home computers, with a modem *inside* the box, increases the chances that the rest of the system will be taken out when the modem is. I always go for an external modem.