For many Americans, music and podcasts serve as a constant soundtrack to their daily routines. In offices with open floor plans, workers don headphones to block out noise. Others couldn't get through a workout or their daily commute without music pumping through earbuds. Studies have come to differing conclusions about whether listening to music helps or hinders productivity. More troubling is the increase in permanent hearing loss associated with headphone use. We consider the technology, culture and safe use of this ubiquitous accessory.
How Loud Is That Sound?
Loudness is measured in decibles. Hearing loss can occur when you have prolonged exposure to a noise source over 90 dB. Sound on most MP3 players reaches up to 110 dB -- that's 25 dB higher than the recommended maximum listening volume. For comparison, this is how loud some common environmental sounds are:
With Congress expected to pass its first bipartisan budget in years, renewed focus has fallen on the tactics that brought it about. These tactics may be puzzling (or alarming), but according to author Tim Harford, they're not new: They're rooted in game theory. He suggests reading Thomas Schelling's The Strategy of Conflict to learn more.
For writer Diana Abu-Jaber, a special seasonal cookie is a reminder of that mainstay of all holiday activities, the family fight. When she was a child, Abu-Jaber's German-American grandmother would visit, bringing tins and tins of homemade Christmas cookies. Her stay also came at the price of an annual flare-up with her Jordanian immigrant son-in-law.
The two-year deal passed despite opposition from Republicans who are part of the Tea Party faction. It was announced earlier this week, after being pounded out by Rep. Paul Ryan R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
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