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.

Alain

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