Posted by: nastylittletruths | May 22, 2008

Noise Pollution

Cervantes in Don Quixote had written, “blessed be those happy ages that were strangers to the dreadful fury these devilish instruments of artillery, whose inventor I am satisfied is now in hell receiving the reward of his cursed invention, which is the cause that very often a cowardly base hand takes away the life of the bravest gentleman.”

As much as the words above can begin a foray into the killing fields of Trinidad, I quote the part about hell liberally to describe my feelings towards the man who invented the sub-woofer. May the hottest place in hell be reserved for him and may he deserve just reward for his cursed invention. As I sit writing this, the low frequency bass from a car’s stereo – somewhere – is vibrating my home, my office and my head.

I remember a story written in Time Magazine some years ago about noise pollution and one startling statistic was how in a densely populated city like Paris, one noisy scooter can wake 200,000 people. In Trinidad it is not uncommon for the musical delinquents to pass slowly with pounding bass any time of the night or early morning probably hoping in some perverse way to reach that number. I remember once my neighbour being dropped home by his friends at 4:00 am (they were all drunk) and playing loud music. I mean drunken stupor is one thing, but no consideration for everyone else who were sleeping at that time?

There was also a morbidly funny story of a 78 year year old retired farmer who after complaining for months about his neighbour’s loud music snapped, walked across with his rifle and killed whoever it was that opened the door. He only wanted to watch the news so he is enjoying it in peace and quiet now in some prison where he is serving two life sentences. It happened here already some years ago in Santa Cruz, I believe.

But with all the evidence available on what high decibels can do to your health, why isn’t there more effort placed on keeping the noise  down? Believe it or not, there is a stigma attached to the complainant more than the offender in most parts of the world so I guess it’s the same here. I mean, the police can’t do anything about serious crimes don’t you think that they can at least help you out with that noisy neighbour? Uh, no… they are “busy” attending to more “serious matters”. Colossal waste of time I tell you.

Here’s an interesting one that can probably help the police figure out why there’s so much carnage on the roads:

A poll set out to discover the top ten driving tunes favoured by drivers and the winner was ‘Bohemian Rhapsody” by rock band Queen. Such ear-pounding anthems have psychologists shaking their heads – not to the beat – but in dismay. This sort of music, they say, can cause aggressive driving. If you hear pounding music that wants to make you move forward and all you can see is the back bumper of the car in front of you, it is quite likely to raise both your blood pressure and your frustration levels.

On open road, fast music is going to make you want to drive faster. It’s also going to make you more aggressive which means you’re tempted to take more risks. These arguments were supported by earlier research which examined the performance of young people between 17 and 25 and concluded that unsafe drivers in this age group are more likely to go for up-tempo music with heavy bass. But that wasn’t all. There was evidence that loud music played in a confined space, such as a car, could have the effect of blanking out that part of the brain that performs logical reasoning.

 The answers are all out there, but we like to re-invent the wheel all the time.

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