## Wednesday, June 15, 2011

### My Modest Proposal: A New Mathematical Theorem

Regular readers of this blog may be surprised to find mathematics in these pages, but there are times when questions of art can only be settled through the precise measurements of science.  With that, I propose a new scientific model by which one can gage both intellectual and aesthetic attainments, as well as IQ.  It is, simply, this: an individual’s taste and intelligence is in direct contrast to the volume of his or her car radio.

Attend: let us assume that an individual’s “normal” IQ is 100.  A person listening to his car radio at a normal volume (e.g., audible only to people within the car, even with windows open), is at 100.  If that person is listening to Classical Music, or melodies as defined by the Great American Songbook, add anywhere from 10-to-30 points, depending on taste and depth of understanding.  Listeners to Vivaldi and Jule Styne, for example, are closer to the 110 range, while listeners to Brahms and Cole Porter nearer the 130.  Add additional points for an understanding of musical history and/or theory, details of the composer’s or performing artist’s biography, as well as one’s support for public radio.

Now, working with the same “normal” baseline of 100 and the same car radio at an even volume, let us look at other musical tastes.  If an individual has a taste for country music, deduct 5-to-15 points.  For rock (including, but not limited to, funk, punk, glitter, glam, metal, etc.), deduct 15-to-30 points.  For rapp, hip hop, gangsta ad nauseam, deduct 30-to-60 points.  If you have a taste for gospel, you are a living contradiction – it’s impossible to like gospel and still possess an immortal soul.  (And every adult should  feel intellectually diminished by simply writing the words funk, punk, glitter, rapp, gangsta….)

However, the real key to this intelligence test is volume.  Using the score received above, adjust thusly: any individual playing a car radio in a volume audible to those in the car, but no more, add 20 points.  If the volume is audible to those within the car, but does not inhibit conversation within the car, add 45 points.

If the volume is audible only within the car, but conversation is impossible, deduct 35 points.  If the music is audible five feet away from the car with the windows open, deduct 50 points.  Ten feet away with the windows open, deduct 65 points.  Twenty-to-30 feet away, deduct 75 points.  If the volume is audible 100 feet away from the car with the windows open, you are clearly too stupid to drive.  If the volume is audible 100 feet away and the windows are closed, it is quite possible that the driver is brain dead.

From this, it is clear that those who score lowest on this new theorem are those who play their music the loudest.  Have you never noticed that passing cars never blast (or, to use the common vulgar parlance, crank) Tchaikovsky or Schubert or Jerome Kern or George Gershwin?  That is simply because lack of musical taste plus excessive volume equals the most dire stupidity.

To test the validity of these assertions, in your travels throughout the day, look closely at those drivers whose car radios are the loudest.  Are they usually not unrefined and ugly, antisocial and filled with adolescent aggression?  Indeed, when have you last had to cover your ears because a passing motorist was cranking Stravinsky or Mahler?  Odds are, never.  Civility may be a word that currently has little cultural currency, but it does mean something to the select few.

With these findings on hand, I propose a new set of tests for prospective drivers.  Individuals arriving for their written or road test wearing headphones are immediately excluded from the licensing process.  A complete list of records/CDs/music downloaded must be part of the application process, and a taste for any of the juvenilia that encompasses so much contemporary “music” makes ownership of a car radio or stereo set punishable by law.

I am convinced that application of this new theorem will maximize driver safety, increase civility in our culture, and drive (if you’ll pardon the verb) cultural social responsibility.