Listening speed

I listen to quite a few podcasts.  Actually the only reason I replaced my ipod when the last one broke is for the podcasts.  Occasionally something happens and I get behind for a while.  Sometimes I catch up and other times they stay missed forever.  Infact the main litmus test for whether I should unsubscribe a podcast is how many unlistened episodes there are and how long they languish there.

There’s an option to listen to them at “x2 speed.”  Since the sound files are digital, the sound isn’t sped up by playing it faster, but rather cutting out tiny slices.  This prevents the raising of frequencies associated with playing a vinyl album at the wrong speed.  “2x” is not anywhere near double the speed though.  In fact a minute of listening only gets me 15 extra seconds of content.  Typically I forget I’m even listening to it sped up until I hear some intro music or a jingle or something.

The exceptions to this are NPR’s “The Sunday Puzzler” which I don’t get a single answer off before the player when accelerated, and “Brain Stuff” from .  These average about 3 minutes and he explains something.  There’s no conversational give and take.  There’s just a succinct explanation of what a turbocharger is and the feasibility of accomplishing the same thing with a leaf blower.  Or a discussion of follicles and what makes your arm hair stop at a given length, but your head hair does not.  I’m still contemplating the rest-growth cycle of the cells, but he’s in the next episode explaining how bees make honey, or the fluorescent release of light when crushing a sugar crystal and how wintergreen amplifies that effect.

This phenomenon of listening speed being able to outpace normal speech led to me drifting off into my own world a lot in class.  Then your active mind entertains itself and when you snap back to reality you’ve lost the thread of the lecture.  Was this just me?  Is that everyone?  Is that a problem of “smart people?”  Is that a symptom of Attention Deficit?  Why is everything a disorder?  Is there an Attention Surplus Disorder?  Are their social reasons for people to talk slower?  Is this part of why I’m socially awkward?  Is ADD more common in the north or the south?

Whoa.  I was finding the links for this I discovered that Marshall Brain left howstuffworks over a year ago.  I had caught a few  reruns of the podcast, but assumed that he was on vacation or something, I guess that after he sold the company to the discovery channel he agreed to keep writing for them for some period of time.


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