Self Evident Truth About Distracted Driving

Earlier this week, the topic of discussion on NPR’s “On Point” radio show was the scourge of distracted driving. There are people working on smart technologies to  stop people from doing tasks that require too much attention when they are moving at high velocity. There are apps that track high cognitive activities such as browsing and texting. These apps would be the equivalent of a “breathalyzer,” and cops could ask to see your device if you were stopped for a traffic violation. Supposedly our legal system would let people off the hook if the passenger stated under oath that they were the one using the device, not the driver. Just as social pressure has been used to greatly reduce the acceptability and frequency of drunk driving, social pressure is being used to bring awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

The main danger is often said to be the driver taking eyes off of the road. Usually the eyes are linked to using the device while it’s in the hands. Hands are surely linked to the brain.  But there have been studies showing that hands free driving is still distracted driving, and causes just as many accidents.

We See with our BRAINS

We have to remember, or realize, that we see with our BRAINS as much as we see with our eyes. The largest part of our brain is devoted to visual processing. While some people are undoubtedly better at multi-tasking than others, most of us over-rate our abilities in this area. See  which includes the following

Ophir et al. [8] found that persons who frequently multi-task ….may be those who are the least cognitively equipped to effectively carry out multiple tasks simultaneously.

When we’re talking on the phone, it is not like talking with someone riding in the vehicle with us. It might be more like having a crying baby or a bunch of rowdy kids with us. The person at the other end of the line, the crying baby, the misbehaving kids, do not quiet themselves to allow you, the driver, to pay attention to the road when the situation demands. The person at the other end of the line, the crying baby, the misbehaving kids, are unaware that it would be safer for all if they were quiet, to allow the driver to pay attention to rapidly changing circumstances. In the case of the person at the other end of the line, they entangle the driver in their local “thought field,” (see this related article on shared consciousness), which is usually related to something other than the road conditions.

This realization came to me some years ago, when almost everyone believed that hands free cell phone use while driving meant safe cell phone use. That was well before the advent of smart phones. I had a client who had told me he thought that there should be two levels of drivers licenses. One for regular people, and one for those who had demonstrated that they could read while driving. He was a smart guy overall, and the above referenced work at the University of Utah leads us to believe that there could be test to allow the competent multi-taskers to be certified. But I still do not think I like the idea. A lot can happen in the blink of an eye when traveling at high speed.

Despite this, I’m also not a fan of driverless vehicles.

When is someone going to show that this emperor has no clothes?

We can’t keep our credit cards, bank accounts, medical information, social security numbers secure. We can’t keep our computers free of viruses and malware. How are we going to prevent hackers from creating giant accidents?

I guess we’ll “just have to get used to those giant “accidents,” as we are having to “get used to” attacks by terrorists and the neglected mentally ill.

Update October 30, 2016

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is taking action after the entrepreneur had tee shirts printed bragging about how rich they were going to get.

Hallelujah. Greedy, hubris drenched capitalist gets his come-uppance!


Peaches, Peaches, Peaches

Drowning in peaches, peaches, peaches.

You have to be drowning, you have to have access to and responsibility for the tree.

Otherwise you’d eat the peaches as they ripen. Only when you have too many peaches,  some inevitably go past the stage of perfection to a stage of super-perfection. Because that’s when they are sweetest and most full flavored. And when you get them off the tree that way, starting to ferment a bit, turning brown in the pit, maybe some  bad spots that you have to cut away, those are the ones that make me want to have my own peach trees. Those are the ones that make it worth going through all the work of pruning and fertilizing and all the rest of it.

This was a great year for peaches. I had help in the orchard and thinned the fruit. The result was some really big and beautiful peaches.

Here’s my poem…

Peaches, peaches, peaches.

Not straight from the tree.

Even the warm ones bursting with flavor are too fuzzy straight from the tree.

Mother Nature’s fuzz functions too well.

Rub first in running water.

Cut along the edge of the pit. Grasp the halves and twist.

Open mouth. Bite. Turn so the flesh is down on the tongue.

Chew. Sweetness and flavor explode.

Confusion is the Starting Point of Wisdom

Confusion is the starting point of transforming the world into something new. Confusion makes us stop and if we are attentive to our state of confusion, we will nurture it into a full blown dilemma. Only a full blown dilemma provides the material for new vision. Who cares to keep looking out from the same eyes at the same world? Only those who have successfully cultivated personal wealth, health, and influence.

Teachings of the Great Merwegon

Volume 1, Chapter 4

Comments: I haven’t been making too much progress on my new novel, “Moses of Kosbar,” but wrote this in the group to a prompt of “confusion, dilemma,” and it was well received. I realized that I haven’t really tried to develop the character of the wise one of the planet Kosbar, the one who founded the new religion of the indigenous inhabitants of the planet far from Earth, that eventually gets colonized by homo saps. So I ended deciding to attribute the little saying to Merwegon. We’ll see where Merwegon’s personality goes!



Alphabetical Advice

This was from a prompt to write a piece of advice for every letter of the alphabet. It was surprisingly easy. Of course, not all advice is suited for every situation! But I would guess that I have done most of these at some time. As far as killing my enemies, it’s been insects and woodchucks. Woodchucks are definitely my enemies!

After you have an epiphany, stop to make an aphorism.

Bring a cake when you go to a funeral.

Create something new every day!

Do the right thing!

Every deed requires its own remedy.

Fuck off!

Good people can still act like assholes, and it’s ok to demonstrate that for the benefit of the narrow minded.

Have a happy day!

Into every act, put intention.

Join at least five clubs, especially if you are anti-social.

Kill your enemies. Go ahead. Do it. It will give you karmic experience.

Let the other people worry about it.

Mean what you say and say what you mean.

Never shed a tear for a fascist.

Open the door to your heart.

Pop your corn in an air popper.

Quell your fears.

Rest in peace.

Step aside.

Top it off.

Uncover your light.

Vindicate yourself.

Wait for the right time.

X-ray your castings.

Yell when you need help.

Zip your lips.


To quote Janice Joplin…..that was my statement of great social import! 🙂