Hello World

Oh, wow…I’ve got the keys to ChicagoBoyz. Can I get it started…ran rough for a minute, but now it seems to be turning over nicely. What to write about…perhaps a rant in the classic style.


What exactly is it that you’re talking about that is so overwhelmingly important? It must be very important indeed..

*More important than the lane change you’re doing at 70 mph
*More important than the attractive person sitting across from you at the restaurant
*More important than showing common courtesy to the clerk in the checkout line

The thing is…you talk so loud, it’s hard to avoid overhearing your conversations..and they usually don’t sound all that important. It’s not usually about getting that corporate acquisition done, or even about picking up little Jimmy at school to take him to the dentist. An awful lot of it seems to be …talking for the sake of talking.

When the telegraph was first introduced, a journalist remarked:

“This extraordinary discovery leaves…no elsewhere…it is all here.”

If wired communications reduced the sense of elsewhere, does the abuse of wireless communications reduce the sense of the here and now?

12 thoughts on “Hello World”

  1. On the contrary, extensive use of cellphones enhances my sense of here and now. The presence of all these befuddled twits driving around while yapping on the phone makes plain that any moment may be my last. Such an existential frisson I get!

    BTW, what’s up with people who walk while listening to their phones and not speaking? Did they sign up to be yelled at like that guy in The Onion? Life gets mysteriouser all the time.

  2. I don’t think it is cell phones per se that are the problem but rather that to many people are to comfortable in their cars. We forget that we are in fact hurtling down the road in a quite crunchable metal box, which, if it goes out of control can do a great deal of damage. People drive so much that they get quite comfortable doing other things than actually driving.

    True story:

    Some years back I was zipping down an interstate at 65+mph listening to a radio show whose hosts were decrying the idiots who used cellphones while driving. I was doing the “right on, man” thing in my head until I made a sudden realization…

    … I was at that exact moment using both hands to put hot sauce on my fast food taco while steering with my knees.

    I have never used a cell phone while driving but I am absolutely certain I have done far more distracting things without thought or notice.

    “We have met the enemy and they is us.”

  3. I have a couple of stories about cell phones which go along with this posting.

    A couple of years ago I was crossing NYC on 42nd st by bus. while waiting for a bus there was a gorgeous woman who obviously thought she was even more gorgeous just standing there. We got on the bus and she immediately pulled out her cell phone and had a conversation with someone in a loud voice all the way across town. We were treated to her thoughts on fashion, drinks, dining, dancing, her latest boy friend, etc. BTW she was talking with the person she was meeting for lunch.

    Another time I was taking the bus out Queens Blvd. A guy got on the bus and sat in the back close to me. He spent the entire trip (almost an hour) calling one person after another to tell them that his girl had dumped him and he was defending his point and dissing her to all his friends. This was not done quietly. I finally got him to shut up by telling him that based on what he was doing, I could certainly see why his girl dumped him. If I were in her position I would too. He got pi@@ed off at me and shut up until I got off the bus.

    What makes these people think that they have the right to interfere with my reading or my looking at the sights around me by having these conversations at the top of the lungs? If they want to hold these conversations quietly, fine; otherwise, keep it to themselves. I deserve the right to have some peace and quiet without their problems.

    Another thing about cell phones that really bugs me is the people who get to the checkout line at the stores and carry on their conversations instead of just paying up and moving on. The clerk waits there for them to come to a break in the conversation. In the meantime the rest of us are in line behind them waiting for them to finish.

    Sorry if I seem to be venting about cell phones. I think they may be a good invention but why can’t people handle them better. It is possible to walk without carrying on a conversation over the phone. The person you are talking to can get along just fine for 2 minutes without hearing your voice.

  4. A lot of the problem comes from a deficiency of the technology. The sound quality is not all that great, which means that (a) you need to concentrate more on the conversation in order to decipher it than you would in talking to someone in person (and consequently concentrate less on other things) and (b) you tend to talk louder, since you’re conditioned to assume that when you have trouble hearing the other person, he also has trouble hearing you (and in this case, it’s a good assumption – the poor sound quality works both ways).

    Technological advancement should take care of that within a few years.

    In the meantime, it amuses me that some people still assume that you’re “showing off” when you’re talking on a cell phone. For several years now, just about any idiot could afford a cell phone…

  5. I doubt that very many people are still “showing off” by talking on a cell phone; I do think there are a fair number of people who don’t like to be alone with their own thoughts…

  6. For Drivers, a Traffic Jam of Distractions By KATIE HAFNER and JASON GEORGE Published: March 3, 2005:

    MICHAEL TRUJILLO is beginning to sound like an outlaw. He has turned against a law he was instrumental in passing. As vice chairman of the Public Safety Committee for Santa Fe, N.M., Mr. Trujillo supported and promoted the city’s adoption three years ago of a ban on the use of all but hands-free cellphones while driving.

    “I was seeing people run into things, and it was happening because they were on their cellphones,” said Mr. Trujillo, who owns a valet parking service.

    He left the committee in December, but his feelings about the law changed long before that.

    “In the beginning I pushed it pretty hard,” he said. “But then I realized, ‘God, how stupid is this law?'”

    Leaving the hands free had the potential to increase, not decrease, driver distraction, he said. “If you have hands free, not only are you able to do something else, but you are able to do three different tasks at the same time.” He now thinks the law should be scrapped.

    * * *

    But cellphones, hands-free or hand-held, are just a part of the greater problem of driver distraction, one that may become worse with the spread of technology.

    No one doubts that using a cellphone can cause lapses in attention. Anyone who has groped for a phone bleating at the bottom of a purse or dialed while at the steering wheel knows this. The question, at one time, was whether that was any worse than, say, unwrapping a cheeseburger or lighting a cigarette. Now it’s also a question of whether a cellphone is more of a hazard than playing a DVD, using the calendar or e-mail functions on a wireless hand-held device, or picking out a playlist on an iPod.

    A few states have laws related to watching movies and television while driving, or placing a TV in front of the driver. But what if the cellphone screen doubles as a TV? Of if the phone can take pictures? Or the organizer can send instant messages? Or the dashboard has an ever-present electronic map?

    * * *

    Even before the New York law went into effect, studies indicated that it was the distraction of the conversation itself, not the act of dialing or holding the phone, that accounted for most of the increased risk.

    “There is really good evidence from six independent studies from five different labs that have all come to the same conclusions,” Dr. Strayer said. “There is no difference between hand-held and hands-free cellphone use while driving.”

    He continued: “The main source of the interference is mental, cognitive. It turns out you’re tuning out some important details about driving. When using a cellphone, peoples’ eyes will go to a place or thing, but they won’t see it. It won’t register.”

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