The Limits of Tolerance

inconsiderate cell phone man.jpgSorry for the light blogging, I’ve been presenting at a couple of colloquia in California. (I’d say more now, but given the last post I’m afraid of exposing folies de grandeur.) So here’s my Andy Rooney impression.

At 6’7”, I avoid long plane trips like the plague. Given the airlines’ bizarre presumption that people ranging from 5’ to 7’ can fit into the same-size seats, I have learned every trick in the book to get into the exit row. But a new enemy menaces peaceful flights: the oblivious or ornery who play their DVD players without headphones!

How can one defend against such yahoos? Noise reduction headsets can’t cancel out everything. Well, following Larry Lessig’s “Code,” let’s outline some approaches:

1) The Market: Yes, I could buy first class seats. I could also buy a private LearJet and line it with cork. Not likely.

2) Architecture: Is there some way to design a placticized bubble to descend around these people? Given that the planes are barely kept clean as it is, I doubt it.

3) Norms: I could ask the person to quiet it down. Do you really think that’s going to work? And why should the burden be on me? Perhaps only a mobbing could accomplish the goal.

4) Law: So that leaves us with law. Why can’t someone just decree this practice abominable and stop it?

I think I’m going to petition for a notice & comment rulemaking at the FAA. Anyone have some travel horror stories I should add?

Photo: Inconsiderate Cell Phone Guy.

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