A Worthy Read

richtel-book-imageTCTers may recall the actual journalism of Matt Richtel. Turns out, he has now shaped his work on the politics of distracted driving into a pretty fascinating book, A Deadly Wandering.

It reveals not only the forces promoting the form of mass murder known as “the connected car,” but reviews some pretty important research into the interface between technology and brain science. Both these topics speak volumes about the ruinous direction of human culture under corporate capitalism.

To that point, Richtel quotes David Strayer, the ex-GTE engineer turned safety crusader. While still employed by GTE (now Verizon), Strayer discovered proof that cell phone usage by automobile drivers was wildly and obviously dangerous. The reply of his bosses was, Strayer recalls, this:

Why would we want to know this? That will not help us sell anything.

marx This is not only Fred Taylor-level system voicing, but also a pretty direct confirmation of Karl Marx’s analysis of Mr. Moneybags’ core worldview and ethical status:

Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence, Capital is heedless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society.

5 Replies to “A Worthy Read”

  1. I expect High Arka to chime in in tune with her latest post 😀

    Capitalists being assholes and all that, sure, but the ‘public’ you generally try to defend here is not innocent: a very significant portion of the population has embraced the idea of Progress – and specifically equates technological progress with Progress – so they do, in fact, eagerly swallow every new gadget that would “empower” them, or “improve their quality of life”.

    (Me? I’m increasingly against technology, almost indiscriminately, even, in contemporary context. The sacrifices in freedom it requires are too big. As Evgeny Morozov quips, “Being against Technology today mainly means being against Bullshit”)

  2. It’s going to be great fun when the person rear-ending me at a stoplight isn’t apologizing about her phone, but instead counter-suing Apple, Inc. for Siri’s failure to “BRAKE, Siri, BRAKE!” when she screamed it 0.7 seconds before encountering my bumper at 54 mph. Apple claims she shouted it too late, driver claims she shouted it several times but the car wouldn’t stop, and HuffPo publishes an emotional interview with a speech therapist who explains how homeschooled children aren’t being properly taught to how to enunciate their velar consonants, a problem we really must address in future education reforms with help from the Gates Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust. Five years later, every classroom is equipped with a driving simulator, which really helps keep order when a teacher has to switch between one of her two classrooms to see how the second group is doing on their critical response to Tom Sawyer.

    To avoid the future expense of having to explain the accuracy of Siri’s internal record-keeping to yet another jury of nincompoops who think 4 seconds is “about the same” as 0.7 seconds, Apple hires the former operations manager at G4S Secure Solutions to join a team of other grassroots safety activists lobbying Congress to finally agree on the details of the total-coverage planetary cloud of security cameras linked to all of our cell phones. The Honored Representative from Utah finally gives the consent of his coalition when it is determined that the primary neurowave generator facility will be constructed in Cache County, northern Utah, ensuring “[S]afe American roads, now and forever,” but the Bill’s proponents then encounter tension with police advocacy groups, who rightly point out that funds from traffic violations make up a necessary part of their budgets to protect us all from terrorists, and radical citizens’ groups, who claim it is “mind control” to prevent a driver from knowingly exceeding… (snip)


  3. Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean it really got out of hand fast. It jumped up a notch :).

    While I suppose systematic evidence on the magnitude and consequences of distraction for driving is useful, at the same time it is just plain insulting to human intelligence to expend all this effort to find out something that is available to literally anyone by means of a little introspection – it is SO easy to space out in a car and get into an accident even with NO distractions at all, and it is triple easy to do so while fidgeting with, talking to or listening to a gadget. Duh…

  4. It’s its own separate insanity that a single study anywhere had to be done to determine that cell phones and driving don’t mix well. But look at how many other things we’ve had to ignore just to get this far: cars and alcohol, cars and the elderly, cars and epileptics, cars and stroke patients, cars and heart patients, cars and sleepiness, cars and cataracts, cars and testosterone, cars and estrogen…

    There’s an interesting intersection between political correctness and the automotive industry, because cold-hearted insurance claims, traffic studies, and precision driving tests would show that certain kinds of teenagers, almost all the elderly, and many adults have dramatically higher rates of uncertainty and reduced dynamic spatial perception and responsiveness–because of the age- and sex-specific nature of a lot of the results, automakers have been able to help repress them, using notions of social justice to protect the rights of half-blind octogenarians to run down teenage shopping cart gatherers in the parking lot of the local store.

    Anecdotally, I have a plethora of female friends who can’t back up, can’t manage the gas when traveling up steep inclines, can’t parallel park or park between other cars, and can’t determine the difference between the right and left lanes of the road when the lane divider isn’t freshly painted–and they don’t have to renew their licenses or take a single re-test until sometime in the 2040s.

  5. I’ll probably die/get injured in a car accident. I suppose I *could* drive better, just can’t muster the motivation to pay more attention. That’s how much I dislike it. I’ve hit plenty a car just sitting in a parking lot, minding their own business, and probably badly cut somebody off (that I notice) every week or so. Radically higher degree of attentiveness to avoid these things seems to be a too high a price for not dying, LOL.

    The point being, I just don’t want to get better at it, and don’t even see how “driving well” can be a point of pride, ever. At least not in the way knowing how to ride a horse well can be.

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