NATURE’S MUTE BUTTON

The human body is always improving, becoming more efficient to meet new challenges and discarding obsolete equipment. Genetic experts say the process might be speeding up.

Our skulls are enlarging each generation to accommodate our bigger brains and our pinky toes and wisdom teeth are showing signs of obsolescence. Less tree climbing and sturdier shoes might explain the decreased need for pinky toes, but is our wisdom waning?

It’s difficult to tell with today’s bushy hair styles, but I think our ears might be starting to lap over. The NOISE challenge is, without a doubt, increasing and Nature or the Almighty always responds with a fix when the need arises. There is convincing evidence we are being provided with something like a mute button to block the many negative quality-of-life noises that bombard us.

Perhaps the fix is internal, a new organic switch in our inner ears might be growing that will act like a gun silencer, greatly reducing the decibel level of raucous sounds that make our lives less livable, like leaf blowers, outsized mowers and punk rock D.J.’s at wedding receptions. If our civil authorities won’t intervene, Nature must come to the rescue. We’ve always been able to shut our eyes and mouths. It’s high time we gain the ability to also shut our ears.

You might have noticed some of our young people are apparently already equipped with this mutation and are abusing it by switching it on when there is no real threat to safety or sanity. Typical male teenagers can hear a pepperoni pizza sizzling to completion 25 yards away. (Yes, aroma is involved, but not completely.) But when only 10 paces away from home, they are deaf to shouted orders to return to put out the garbage cans.

“PLEASE TURN THAT DOWN!” I once howled to my son. A group called “Armageddon” was playing a piece entitled “World War IV”, a concerto written for saxophones, drums and howitizers. I’d tried to be tolerant, but the cat was climbing the drapes and the windows were threatening to shatter. “Sorry, Dad,” my son said. “I forgot the radio was on. I was doing my homework and didn’t notice.” (Didn’t notice World War IV?)

While the muting mutation will protect us from the ear-splitting decibel levels of landscapers’ machinery and rock music, it can also be adapted to detect and block trigger phrases that begin with “But first these messages from….” and “Could you lend me…..”

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