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Cell Phones and the Bouncing Red Ball
January 11, 2012 - By: - In: In the News / Awards - Comments Off on Cell Phones and the Bouncing Red Ball

Which Amendment in the Bill of Rights is for cell phones? Better figure it out soon, ‘cause the black suits in the black helicopters are preparing to take your God-given rights away, namely the right to keep and bear smartphones while driving your American Dream-mobile. Call it the Spirit or Route 66.

Those eggheads over at the Transportation Safety Board have recommendation that states ban cell phones in cars as a matter of public safety!  This includes hands-free too, because people are too stupid to have a conversation and drive a car at the same time, scientists have discovered.

Doh! I already knew that.  I can’t drive and do anything at the same time, except whistle, and then just the two or three songs I know by heart. Gotta love that whistling on a long drive.

“There is a large body of evidence showing that talking on a phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, impairs driving and increases your risk of having a crash,” Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said.

So say the Swedes, too.  “There is no evidence suggesting that hands-free mobile phone use is less risky than handheld use,” says the Swedish government.

Yet 40% of US drivers believe that hands-free is OK. But conversation is deeply distracting. In fact, unless you hold your hands over your ears and sing in a loud voice, you will immediately start listening to the sound of any voice you hear speaking your native languages.

“When someone is speaking your native language, you can’t will yourself to not hear and process it. It just goes in,” Just said. Even if a driver tries to ignore the words, scientists “can see activation in the auditory cortex, in the language areas (of the brain).”

So I guess I should be doing public service spots to discourage people from calling 1-800-Translate from their car phone and using interpreting services at the same time. Like maybe some touring racer calling his business partner in Shanghai to complain about QA on the last shipment. “Wang, listen up, we’ve got a problem…” Boom!  I have a vision. Just got to get the budget for it.

So what was I talking about? Yes. Talking takes serious, fast thinking, and demands a lot of our attention. The more focused we get on the conversation, the less attention we have for other matters.

Our capacity for speech, and our capacity to recognize our own limits, is wrapped up around our consciousness and our experience of self.

Attention’s bouncy red ball leaves a lot out of the big picture, which in this case is a great iceburg afloat in the misty Artic sea. Imagine that your little red ball is getting tossed from seal nose to seal nose, depending on what come to your mind. And let those barking seals be metaphors for all the kind of stuff you think about, work, play, love, each a locus of memory and habit, each dancing about on the great iceberg that is your true mind, the great one-ness that does all the heaving mental lifting of your being, governor of your heart and soul, ever-ready guardian from danger and death, and 90% of all of that hidden below the waterline of a stormy sea, unknown to the sentient seals on the summit, which are you, if you catch my drift.

So now when we talk, let’s follow the little red ball. Maybe that’s why so many prefer less intense exchanges by text and blog, so much less demanding than the full-on face-to-face required for a friendly conversation (and no germs either). In other cases, such as my own, that little red ball is more like a laser pointer flickering up the drapes. Meow!

So what did we learn?

  1. Someday the gov’mint is gonna take your cellphone if you drive or stop you from driving altogether, Make you buy some dang robot to drive for you, no doubt, but at least then you can use your cell phone anytime as your God-given right, in accordance with that Article in the Bill of Rights, whichever one it is. Plus it will be for your own good because you ain’t got the smarts to talk and drive at the same time either (no offence intended).
  2. Someday you are going to tell your barber or masseuse that you actually prefer quiet to talk, and you will then receive the best rub-down or hair cut you ever got from them. Try it, it works.
  3. Someday you will remember where that little red ball got off to. It was just here a minute ago…
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