Peace and Quiet

Meanwhile, in the UK….

The Guardian’s Rachel Cooke asks, “Who wants a din with their dinner?”  The answer, of course, is no one.  But we don’t always get what we want.  That could change, though.  Cooke reports that UK charity Action on Hearing Loss is stepping up to the plate to take on restaurant noise head on.  Namely, the organization is in the process of “funding the development of a mobile phone app that will enable customers to record decibel levels when they go out to eat.”  Cooke says that “[t]he idea is that, duly named and shamed, the noisiest offenders will perhaps be minded to do something about the pain they seem so determined to inflict on diners and, far worse, their own long-suffering staff.”

Cooke likes the idea, but she doesn’t think it will work.  She notes that “a certain tabloid newspaper” sent reporters armed with decibel recorders to various well-known restaurants and recorded punishingly high decibel readings–two restaurants clocking in at over 105 decibels–but the restaurants are still loud after the tabloid’s exposé.

So is there anything that can be done?  Yes there is.  Cooke writes:

A tolerance for extreme noise is, alas, just another aspect of what we might call the booming 21st-century restaurant industry’s near sadistic approach to customers: the same treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen attitude that brought us restaurants which refuse to take bookings, and maitre d’s who would rather stare at an iPad than meet your eye. * * * All this is beyond infuriating, of course – except we’ve only ourselves to blame. The customer, in these scenarios, might well seem to be a craven, masochistic figure, contemptible in his desperate willingness to be humiliated and kept in line all for the sake of a few small plates and a bottle of slightly filthy organic wine.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still king.  If only more of us walked, fingers in ears, things would change faster than you can shout “uproar”.

She’s right.  Until more of us refuse to eat in loud restaurants by walking out after telling management why we are leaving, things won’t change.  But until they do New Yorkers can check out our sister site, Quiet City Maps for reviews on restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in the city based on noise level.  With Quiet City Maps you won’t have to deal with punishing noise over a plate of pasta, cafe au lait, or cocktail again!

Link via @QuietEdinburgh.

Something to consider before you buy a house:

Outer Loop noise startles nearby homeowners.

You save money for a deposit, gird yourself as you plunk it down, and, finally, embrace home ownership.  Congratulations!  Sadly, a few years later a stretch of highway that had been planned finally opens and your peaceful home becomes a hellhole.  As the residents of Feyetteville are learning, there are few options, especially for those who purchased homes in neigborhoods that did not predate the planning for the new stretch of road.  Buyer beware.

The best thing to happen to mass transportation:

The Cult of the Quiet Car.  For those of us who have suffered silently (well, except for the passive aggressive throat-clearing) as unthinking monsters shout into their phones during an hour plus train ride, the advent of the quiet car heralded a return to civility, life before mobile phones.  All hail the quiet car!

Link via @jeaninebotta.

Noise keeps you up at night?

The Audiophiliac has the cure.  And his short answer is this: get some disposable earplugs.   Not exactly earth shattering.  Although The Audiophiliac’s review of options may be useful, it is, after all, a short answer for a short-term remedy.  Perhaps the author should consider the longer-term remedy and contact his city councilperson demanding real noise regulation in New York City.  Just a thought.

Dear Wall Street, about your commute:

Anti-Noise Activists Want East Hampton Town Airport Shut Down.

In fairness, Wall Street barons have to commute to their Hampton estates by helicopter because the traffic on the Long Island Express Way is horrible (yes, tongue was planted firmly in cheek).  Interestingly this issue is pitting the 1% against the 1%, though, admittedly, the helicopter crowd may more accurately be described as the .001%.  Still, it’s easy to take sides here, because noise is noise is noise is noise.   The airport will never be shutdown, but good luck to the activists.  May they at least get some relief.

If only the New York City police were as vigilant against motorcyclists:

Police report lodged against Pokemon GO players for noise pollution.  The complaint was that “the activities of Pokemon GO players have disturbed the peacefulness of the area,” and the police responded.  Imagine making that call to 311 and the response thereto.

 

Technology harnessed to combat noisy neighbors in Northern Ireland:

New app targets noisy neighbours, “permits anyone with a smartphone to record and upload a snapshot of the actual noise nuisance that they are experiencing.”  While there is the possibility of the app being used as a tool of harassment, the Belfast Telegraph reports that “there are inbuilt safeguards within the technology that will provide verification to the council’s investigating officer of the recording’s authenticity and a facility to ‘block’ those who have used the app maliciously.”

Maybe U.S. cities should consider employing technology to help them monitor and respond to noise complaints.  If nothing else, it could help address the frustration suffered by those trying to lodge complaints, as a visit by the police or other authority often comes after the offensive noise has stopped.

Need some white noise to help you sleep? You’re in luck:

White Noise 7 is out, and wants to be like Instagram for restful sounds.

When the White Noise app first went live in 2008, it went from being one of the first mobile apps to go live in the Apple store to the number one app in the fitness and health category.  Eight years later and the White Noise app remains popular and now allows users to upload sounds from around the world.  White Noise 7 is ad-supported, so no cost to download.

Location ‘no longer top priority’ for Brisbane’s first home buyers.

So what is the most important factor for first home buyers looking at apartments?  Noise.