Out, damned noise; out I say

“Noise: a stench in the ear.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

 That sums it up for me. Noise, one of the most detestable nuisances of our time. No matter where you live, there is no escape… You will be regularly assailed by noise-making contraptions.

Souped-up cars, pick-up trucks, Harley Davidson motorcycles, gas-powered chain saws, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, grass mowers… and this is just the top of the crop. There are also continuous noises and low-frequency noises and even though they are not as obvious as the above mentioned, they still impact your well-being.

We are now besieged by permanent noise, and it isn’t just annoying — it is bad for your health. Scientists have confirmed that noise pollution produces stress that can lead to all kinds of unpleasant ailments, including death. Can noise kill you? Rarely. but yes. The threshold for death is usually pegged at around 185-200 dB. “

I am now reaching an age, where my hearing is not what it used to be. In my youth, I could hear a mouse fart… not anymore. I presently struggle to comprehend words spoken in a low voice or in a noisy environment. One of my pet peeves, for instance, is the introduction of the morning news on major networks. The voice of the announcer is muffled by some ridiculous, totally unnecessary background noise. It prevents hard of hearing people (and we are legions) to clearly understand what is being said. Whose utterly stupid idea is this? ABC, CBS, NBC can you hear me? Stop that nonsense.

But besides machine-generated noises, there are also numerous commotions produced by humans. And they can be as bad as machine noises. Some human beings are loud and sitting next to them in a public space can be extremely annoying. Contrary to what you might think, noise pollution is not exclusively generated by hairy men. Women used to be dainty creatures speaking in whispers. Not anymore. Some women are now as boisterous as drunken sailors, and it can be highly irritating.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been an early supporter of women’s causes, but noise making is not one of them.

“All noise is waste. So, cultivate quietness in your speech, in your thoughts, in your emotions. Speak habitually low. Wait for attention and then your low words will be charged with dynamite.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

“The earliest noise complaint in history also concerns a bad night’s sleep. The 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh recounts how one of the gods, unable to sleep through humanity’s racket and presumably a little cranky, opts “to exterminate mankind.”

 I would not go as far as that, but for some repeated offenders, some caning might be appropriate.


A contrarian world

Like it or not, we live in a contrarian world… a world rife with anger and discord. And contrarians are not making our lives easier. But what exactly is a contrarian? Is it something like a politician? a malapropian? Close, but not quite.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a contrarian is…

“Someone who automatically tends to take the opposite point of view from the person to whom they’re speaking, or to disagree with society at large out of a sort of knee-jerk reflex.”

And that’s why it rubs me the wrong way. I have nothing (or little) against somebody who argues intelligently with me, but I highly dislike people who automatically disagree just for the sake of disagreeing.

“I swim against the tide because I like to annoy.” ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón

There are two distinct species of contrarians. The smart ones and the stupid ones, and I am sorry to say that the latter vastly outnumbers the first ones.

A smart contrarian is a person who opposes or rejects popular opinion, especially in stock exchange dealing. He buys shares of stock when most others are selling, and sells when others are buying. It is a risky business, but it can be hugely rewarding.

“I paraphrase Lord Rothschild: ‘The time to buy is when there’s blood on the streets.’ David Dreman

The stupid contrarian is usually (but not always) somebody with very little schooling, not very successful, and unhappy about his condition. He also seldom or never traveled abroad and would not recognize a croissant if it flew into his mouth. He is highly susceptible to side with rabble-rousers.

You don’t have to look very far to see some of those. Just look at Congress. Some of these people make a career of being contrarians. They don’t bring much to the pot, but they made a name for themselves for being useless “mavericks”.

Contrarians are like bedbugs, irritating and difficult to get rid of. Some constituents like them for their rebellious attitude, but they just do a disservice to the nation… especially in the fight against an unyielding pandemic.

Some countries have already mandated the wearing of masks and proof of a “Health pass” in public venues. There is no doubt that contrarians of all stripes and colors will vigorously protest this preventive measure. If they persist, I have a solution.

Relocate them in some sparsely populated island (like Pitcairn) where they could live and thrive (?) with like-minded contrarians.


Freedom is not free

Contrary to what some misguided people imagine, freedom is not the liberty to do anything you please.

Individual freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. You might be the king of your castle, but you are a trespasser on somebody else’s rights or property. And you might go to jail for exercising your so-called freedom when it clashes with official rules and common sense.

Refusing to wear a mask where it is mandated, does not fall under the category of individual freedom either. It is more an act of ignorance than defiance, and ignorance is definitely not bliss… Thousands have already died and many more will follow if we are not vigilant.

“Give me liberty or give me death” sounds catchy, but death will certainly come calling if you insist on your so-called freedom to do as you please.

The pandemic is not over… far from it, and like a cat, it has at least nine lives and probably more. Now is not the time to lower your guard and pretend that everything is back to normal, for it might never be “normal” again. Like a serial killer, the invisible enemy has settled among us and is inclined to strike unprotected victims.

The efficiency and safety of existing vaccines have been widely demonstrated and it does not make any sense for anybody to refuse an extended lifeline. Especially when it is offered everywhere and at absolutely no cost to anybody who wants it.

According to doctors and scientists, the individuals who had the common sense to get vaccinated are much less vulnerable to the Delta Variant than those who refused a prick in the arm. But the unvaccinated are highly susceptible to be infected and spread the disease.

“The freedom to be yourself, which everyone should try to access, is also, for some, the freedom to be a jerk or a bastard.” Guy Bedos

You are not alone on our poor mistreated planet, and before defending your “rights” you ought to think at least of your family and friends. Lack of intelligence is far from bliss… it is a lethal flaw, and the virus is licking its chops looking at you.

There is absolutely no excuse for the unvaccinated. When your house is on fire, your individual beliefs don’t matter anymore. It is Do or Die. Follow the evacuation orders or gamble with the devil… and Satan seldom loses.

In some extreme situations, individual “rights” are totally ignored. The global situation is dire (pandemic in Japan) and for the good of the majority, drastic measures should be implemented. Today, your freedom has been totally devalued, and would not buy you a cup of coffee.

Get smart and get vaccinated while you can. It is free, and it will certainly prevent you from spending harrowing weeks under a ventilator… or eternity in the Great Beyond.