WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — May 9, 2019 — Dr. Richard Cirulli delves further into his growing body of work regarding societal evolution, known as the “Boomerang Series,” with his most recent article: “The Sixties Power Shift By Dr.Richard Cirulli, Ph.D.” this Friday, May 10, 2019th at 10:30am EST on the Westchester On the Level Internet radio broadcast. Listen “Live” or “On Demand”. Use the following hyperlink … http://tobtr.com/s/11321441
The Sixties Power Shift
Down Shifting from Cool to Complacent to Collision
“I’ve been driving all night with my hands on the wheel
There’s a voice in my head that drives my heel
My baby call said I need you here
Its half past four and I’m shifting gears”
The Sixties were a time of cultural collisions; with some on a vertical level between old verses young, and others on a horizontal collision in the form of the variety of adolescent rites of passage. History is short sighted when it defines the angst of the Sixties’ youth-oftentimes referred to as the Youthquake, as a movement that only cut a deep generational fault line in American culture. Histories recoding of this vertical crash overshadows the fact that Baby Boomers’ as a teen cohort were more like unsynchronized gears that rarely engaged.
One of societies’ collective and limited nostalgic memories of the Sixties oftentimes is that of hippies driving around in painted Volkswagen buses heading to either concerts, free love orgies, and/or communes. Regardless of their destination, the drivers found themselves having to navigate even the subtlest of hills by manually down shifting the transmission to make the grade to compensate for its lackluster 48 horsepower engine. Quite the opposite of some of their peers who preference was to pilot muscle cars with unlimited pony power as they power shifted their clutches to the rhythm of rock’s power chords. It was a horizontal collision of the flower power pot heads verses the pony power of the metal heads. What these two divergent groups held in common was not only their teenage angst and rebellion, but also that they were both engaged in the driving process via a manual transmission. Well, harmony is truly the analogy of opposites.
Now as we power shift into the present, we find ourselves driving with automatic transmissions that easily accelerate our behemoth environmentally conditioned mobile cocoons (euphemism for SUV and Volkswagen bus protégé) complete with power windows that allows us to even outsource our physical labor as we head to the sports club. And, to further assist us in disengaging in the thinking process of driving; we now have backup radar cameras emitting “audible proximity alerts” now mandatory on all new cars as of last year. The introduction of safety technology is intended to eliminate human error by removing distractions and poor decisions. Though, the ultimate goal is to eliminate human interaction with the driving process as we now see with Uber’s self-driving cars and Tesla’s autopilot mode.
Safety technology viewed as the panacea for greatly reducing the mortality and morbidity numbers attributed to human error fall short when viewed proportionally when comparing mandatory backup cameras sold against the drop in accidents. Though they have reduced accidents statistically; a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that one in five drivers are not aware of the limitations of technology and are reliant on backup aids. This is attributed to our brain’s ability to over delegate many driving tasks to technology. In essence, the same technology intended to save us from distractions has made us less attentive. A good example of this is Uber’s power shift to self-driving cars, when they found themselves downshifting gears when its self-driving Volvo struck and killed a pedestrian. This was more the result of the driver’s failure to intervene, caused by his inattention while absorbed in watching Hulu until the moment of the crash. Technology was also the cause of the two deadly crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts. The crashes were the result of the malfunction of sensors that the pilots were unable override. In the latter, the pilots were not asleep at the wheel; technology was.
There is some hope in the fact that there is still one device available on some cars that can increase a driver’s vigilance instead of compromising it. The manual transmission complete with stick shift and clutch pedal; though many auto manufacturers are discontinuing this option in the United States. Well maybe we should fall back on that Baby Boomer inspired holistic approach to driving. That is to say more driver awareness with participation, less escapism and denials…and simply using one’s head.
I will close by down-shifting my thoughts, head out to the showrooms in search of a car with a manual transmission, and charter a biplane for my next vacation, and sing alone to Deep Purple’s song, Highway Star.
“Nobody gonna take my car
Nobody gonna steal my head
Now that I’m on the road again
It’s got everything”
(even a human driver with a head) *
Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired Professor, columnist, playwright, author, songwriter, and author of “The Songs of Roland”. You can view his website at demitasseplayers.com .He looks forward to your comments at email@example.com
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