Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some Thoughts While Driving

While driving without a CD player while driving between three states, there's not much to do but think and hit the "Scan" button on the radio. Although you can sometimes find some gems using the scan method, driving from Kansas to Arkansas yields very few gems and very much crap. Evangelical crap.

I have a slight astigmatism, and even though I wear glasses it can be difficult to read street signs from too far away. So when I'm driving somewhere I am unfamiliar with or am looking for a certain street, I almost always squint my eyes and lean forward like two feet, thinking that the extra couple feet will allow me to read the street signs quicker. That way I won't have to slam on my brakes once I see the street I'm looking for. Makes sense, right?

Well during the thinking portion of my last Kansas/Arkansas drive I realized that leaning forward makes absolutely negligible difference. Say you are going 60 mph and leaning two feet. That means you are going 5280 ft/min, or 88 ft/sec. Each foot you travel takes roughly 11 milliseconds, So by leaning two feet you are saving a measly 23 milliseconds.  If I'm driving slowly to look more carefully at 20 mph, I'm still only saving about 68 milliseconds. According to this quite-unofficial study, the average visual reaction time for a person is 215 milliseconds so leaning forward really isn't saving me anything.

Sorry for all that nerdiness, but I had to convince myself that the lean is a sham. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll quit and will continue looking like a leanin' fool whenever I'm lost.

In other news, the Scan feature actually found something kind of interesting on the drive. A religious program called "Unshackled." The show basically takes "true" stories and gets crappy voice actors to dramatize them, likely trying to convert the listeners. That was entertaining enough for me, but during the commercial and station ID, they were promoting their show by saying how many Middle Eastern listeners they had. Here is what the guy said, verbatim (to the best of my memory):

"Here's a letter from a listener in Kuwait: 'I really love your show and have now accepted Jesus as my savior but my husband is Islamic. I know if I tell him he will either murder or divorce me. I really need prayer.' And here is another from [So-and-so] in Saudi Arabia: 'my son loved your show and has found Christianity thanks to you and was proud of it. He was recently beat to death due to his beliefs. He now lives in Heaven.' So if you'd like to get Unshackled in Arabic in your area, please write to [blah-blah-blah]"

I wish I was making that up. After giving two examples of how you can be murdered for listening to their show, they ask if you'd like to listen to their show. "Gee, murder?? Where do I sign!?"

No thanks.

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