Cell phone driving bans

The NTSB has recommended a ban on all things to do with cell phone use, including hands-free devices, except in emergency situations:

The recommendation suggests going far beyond the current restrictions on texting and talking on the phone while driving to include outlawing the use of hands-free devices.

The five-member board of the NTSB made their decision after a 19-year-old driving his pickup truck near Gray Summit, MO, crashed into a school bus, which in turn ran over a smaller vehicle and crashed into another bus. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old aboard one of the buses were killed in the accident. Records show that the pickup driver had sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the crash.

“Driving was not his only priority,” said NTSB chairman Deborah Hershman. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”

This is a stupid basis for a recommendation. It’s an anecdote that can be equally countered with any other anecdote: I used to text and drive when I had a phone more convivial to single-hand use. I never once had an accident, nor did I ever come close to hitting anyone or anything. Bam, texting for all! Or not.

Moreover, this shitty anecdote only addresses texting. That involves looking away from the road frequently and/or for relatively extended periods of time. That is not what happened during a phone call.

I think if the interest here is safety, it can be generally achieved without inconveniencing too many people. Let’s outlaw the people who have the hardest time dealing with technology and driving. First, that means young people. While I know a lot of people will get behind this because they’re simply jealous of youth, the actual rational basis is that young people have limited driving experience. Ban those under 20. Second, anyone over 65 needs to have the phone taken out of their hands. Of course, not a lot of old people text, especially while driving, but plenty of them talk on the phone. Ever seen an old person try to deal with technology? It isn’t pretty. They have to focus more than people who have grown up in this modern age. They aren’t functioning at a fast pace. They can’t handle it. Factor in driving and it gets uglier. Ban ’em, I say.

Tech impaired duck is an old duck

Staying young

I have often criticized older generations for not being with it. As one looks at people today, it becomes clear that adeptness with technology drops considerably with age. But that isn’t what I really mean when I talk about oldness.

Oldness to me means a rejection of what is new because it is new. It means an irrational anger at younger generations. Just take a look at the local newspaper. How many articles have we all seen that tell parents to keep their kids away from those new-fangled computers? Or what about when there is vandalism and it is assumed a few teenagers just got out of hand?

None of this is to say that there isn’t value in getting away from the computer or that teenagers aren’t often the culprits in particular types of crimes. As anyone who has spent more than a week reading FTSOS knows, I love hiking and traveling, and so I value being out of the house. And as anyone who has spent more than a week in high school knows, teenagers are no strangers to vandalism.

But there are problems with these views. Let’s start with those new-fangled computers. How many parents have encouraged their kids to go outside not because they see value in being outside, but because they don’t see value in computers and other devices? Just think about all the times your mom turned off your Nintendo even though you hadn’t saved in the past hour. How many parents would have disassembled a half-finished puzzle? There was no value in our newer technology for the generations that missed out.

And the vandalism. Yes, teenagers do often engage in it, but that does not justify assumptions. After all, don’t minorities make up a majority of our prison population? Is it okay to assume a given crime was done by a black person? So why the double standard with young people?

I bring this up because of Fred and Joanne Wilson. They are a tech-savvy couple who has done everything they can to make sure their kids are up-to-date:

The parents and kids publish a combined nine blogs. They bring a duffle bag on family trips just to carry all the cords, adapters and batteries for their electronic devices. Mr. and Ms. Wilson, both 49, write almost every day on their blogs, which cover everything from financing start-ups and music (his) to entrepreneurs, family and the key to cooking a prime rib (hers).

Jessica, 20, and Emily, 18, have two blogs each; Joshua, 15, has one, plus two Xboxes. When Josh expressed an interest in building websites, his mom hired a graduate student to tutor him in coding.

And no one in the family is fat.

While Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are both nearly 50, neither one is anything close to old. They embrace what is new. They aren’t afraid of technology, nor do they devalue it because they didn’t grow up with it. This recognition of exo-generational products is refreshing.

I just hope my generation will manage to rise to the same level of youth.

Didn’t we already know this?

A new study says older brains are less nimble than younger brains:

The elderly have a harder time multi-tasking than young adults because older people are far less nimble at switching neurological connections in their brains between activities, according to research released on Monday.

The findings of neuroscientists from the University of California at San Francisco add new insights to a growing body of studies showing that one’s ability to move from one task to another in quick succession becomes more difficult with age.

I thought this was already pretty clear. I don’t mean from the stand point of common sense – it is clear from the position, but evidence is important in actually knowing what is true. What I mean is that for the past several years Facebook has been open to everyone. Once the company did away with requiring school email addresses to sign up, the number of technologically inept people skyrocketed, primarily with old people. (As I’ve said before, “old” does not necessarily refer to age here.) It wasn’t too long until it became obvious that quite a few old people were unable to deal with Facebook like adults. From responding to other posts by making wholly new status updates to trying to keep their conversations straight between posts, links, and statuses, anyone who has been paying attention knows that Facebook is not the place for old people.

(Click to enlarge. If old, retrieve your reading glasses.)

Good news for gay atheists

Your numbers and the numbers of those who accept you are on the rise.

According to a new report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the gap on some issues has widened into a chasm, notably on issues related to gay rights and tolerance.

“Young people are more accepting of homosexuality and evolution than are older people. They are also more comfortable with having a bigger government, and they are less concerned about Hollywood threatening their values,” said the report, which was released on Wednesday.

The report also found “Millennials” (aged 18-29) were far more likely than their elders from “Generation X” and the “Baby Boom” to be unaffiliated with a specific faith. Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980, Baby Boomers from 1946 to 1964.

While I fully plan on lamenting later generations as I grow older, I like to take advantage of earlier generations still being around to do the same thing to them*. Because really, Baby Boomers and Gen X really fucked a lot of stuff up, the least of which might be their slow come-around on social morality.

The number of those 18-29 who accept homosexuality (and presumably same-sex marriage, by and large) nearly double up the rickety old fogies who reject it (63 to 35 percent).

Those without any particular faith go from 13% for Baby Boomers to 25% for the 18-29 group. Unfortunately, this doesn’t fully translate into better acceptance of the fact of evolution. Only 55% of my generation accepts it while 47% of all other older groups accept it. (Incidentally, these numbers seem to be higher overall than what commonly gets touted.) One reason may be that while religion is obviously the primary root for ruining the thinking parts of people, the poor focus on science education is also to blame here. Of course, with the older generations making most of the policy decisions and passing most of the terrible laws, it’s not surprise the younger generations have been harmed.

And while this still seems like a generally positive trend, that may not be the case.

But in other ways American Millennials are not so radically different in their religious beliefs.

“Though young adults pray less often than their elders do today, the number of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades,” the report said.

“This suggests that some of the religious differences between younger and older Americans today are not entirely generational but result in part from people’s tendency to place greater emphasis on religion as they age,” it noted.

Credulity is as much a trait of the very old as it is the very young, it would seem.

*Of course, I don’t restrict myself from yet again doing the same when it comes to my own generation. Maybe it’s just humanity.