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Asshole-Canceling Headphones For The Vain
I've always wanted noise-canceling headphones -- for those times when the buttwad shouting into their phone next to me looks like the leader of the Crips, or when I'm just not up to engaging.

The problem is, when in public, I prefer not to look like an air-traffic controller landing planes. In the past, noise-canceling headphones have only come in the "cans" style -- the big black padded headband with a big earcup on either end.

Well, for $42 (see "more buying choices on the right at the link) I just bought Koss QZ-77s, billed as an "Active Noise Reduction Ear Plug System," and I'm very pleased. Here's the whole deal, just below.


The little gizmo on the right has a switch on it. Leave it on "off," and they're regular headphones with comfier ear thingies (made out of some squishy earplug material). Turn the switch on "on," and the asshole canceling begins. (One AAA battery required.)

My verdict? Well, without music on, you can hear people talking -- it just sounds hollow and weird. But, with music on -- perrrfection! Even with something light, like Jackie Gleason's Music, Martinis and Memories, I couldn't hear a barking dog (I was told it was behind me), or the small simian man barking into his phone this morning at breakfast. I did send him telepathic messages of hate on behalf of civilization in general, and all in the immediate vicinity who weren't as technologically well-equipped as I was.

Posted by aalkon at February 13, 2007 10:08 AM


Great news for muggers everywhere!

Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 13, 2007 1:09 AM


I love you.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 13, 2007 3:41 AM

Great news for muggers everywhere!

Well, yes, worn in the wrong situation, they could be life-canceling headphones.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 13, 2007 4:37 AM

You could always accessorize the headphones with a Doberman. The dog doesn't much care that somone's yakking it up, but if they try to grab your ipod, the dog will give them pause.

Q: What has four legs and an arm?
A: A happy Doberman!

Posted by: brian at February 13, 2007 4:46 AM

You could always accessorize the headphones with a Doberman.

Indoors, that might be a little impractical.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 13, 2007 4:57 AM

> the dog will give them pause.

And paws.

> did send him telepathic messages of
> hate on behalf of civilization

Can you really do that? Do you accept commissions?

Paglia used to talk about an archetype oblivious female jogger who runs through as many neighborhoods as possible nearly naked, but who feels compelled to up the ante by disabling as much of her perception as possible with sunglasses and headphones.

Posted by: Crid at February 13, 2007 5:51 AM

Do you accept commissions?

From time to time.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 13, 2007 6:19 AM

If only cancelling assholes was that easy.

Oh wait ... it is!

*clicks on little red X in top right hand corner of the page*

Posted by: Imelda at February 13, 2007 7:49 AM

They have headphones that filter out annoying sounds. Now we need glasses that filter out annoying sights.


You could tour Europe and never see a single American tourist.

Rednecks would disappear, so would PETA, Meter Maids and annoying relatives who keep asking why you haven't had any children yet!

Fox News would be a blank TV screen and the Washington Post would be a pile of white paper.

Of course the same drawbacks to Noise Canceling Headphones would apply to the glasses. When you are walking down the street enjoying a world without Wal-Marts you could be flattened by an invisible pickup truck with a “Calvin pissing on a Ford logo” sticker in the rear window.

Oooo…I have the idea for my short film! I'll get to work on it.

Posted by: Redpretzel at February 13, 2007 8:15 AM

It seems we have a little deception going on here.

Imelda -- IP address -- is also Chester and Forest and Miranda -- all of whom posted nasty remarks just moments ago (on this entry and others).

Not a surprise, since she mainly comes here because she's angry that I dare speak critically of Islam; say, of Islam's principle of taquiyya: deception that serves the cause.

Imelda, wouldn't your time be better spent combating the Islam-advocated violence by Muslims against other Muslims and the rest of us --rather than criticizing me for coming down against it? And making little sniping remarks like the ones you've made in the past 10 minutes? If you continue to post under multiple identities, I'll ban your sleazy ass.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 13, 2007 8:30 AM

Can someone easily explain how these things technically work? Are there any safety issues regarding hearing loss?

Posted by: eric at February 13, 2007 2:22 PM

I wonder. . .
if the world ever became totally converted to Islam —God forbid! but for the sake of discussion—whom would the jerks of Islam be hateful toward?

Don't they need us "infidels" against whom they can display their basest, least human urges?

Just wondering. . . .

Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 13, 2007 2:45 PM

You can't wear the asshole-canceling earphones, Amy. You just can't. You need the assholes for your research!

Posted by: modestproposal at February 13, 2007 4:46 PM

Amy's post in the Global Warming topic:

Gregg's with Elmore, so this is the best I can do:

Noise-cancelling headphones reduce unwanted ambient sounds (i.e., acoustic noise) by means of active noise control. Essentially, this involves using a microphone, placed near the ear, and electronic circuitry which generates an "antinoise" sound wave with the opposite polarity of the sound wave arriving at the microphone. This results in destructive interference, which cancels out the noise within the enclosed volume of the headphone.

That's what I am curious about. Isn't an "anti-noise" still a noise? So aren't you just doubling up on the noise to fool your ears? Do anti-noises appear in nature? Again, just seeing if one of the science community knows about this technology....

Posted by: eric at February 13, 2007 5:33 PM

There are plenty of assholes when I'm headphone free, believe me!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 13, 2007 5:52 PM

Thank you for moving that, Eric. I was on deadline, and it nearly killed me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 13, 2007 6:04 PM

Me too- getting on a plane (with a soon to be 3 year old, save me Jesus!) Thursday morning and everybody waits to the last minute to get stuff to me. grr....

Posted by: eric at February 13, 2007 6:18 PM

Eric- The phase cancellation isn't perfect, which is why it sounds hollow when she doesn't have Gleason playing on her Ipod. It's not really adding noise, it's adding the opposite of what's coming into the little microphones, and it's straightforward math after that:

Starbucks chatter from across the room
Gleason from the Ipod
NEGATIVE Starbucks chatter from the little microphones

Ipods, or any kind of headsets, can fuck up your hearing. I lost mine that way directing TV news and wish others could be warned. You make all kinds of adjustments to the volume of your environment by turning your head away from sounds.

Posted by: Crid at February 13, 2007 6:20 PM

Amy says: "I'll ban your sleazy ass."

PMSL. Ooer Ooer. Amy. Hear that sound? That's my knees a-knockin together. I am so scarwed. Oh mighty, powerful Alkon, please don't ban me. My life would be so empty without access to your website. *Sob* *Sob*

That's the problem with you yanks. You're so Goddamned full of your own self-importance. Ban my arse. Really. You have the power! Knock yaself out. Geeze I'm sick of you Goddammed arrogant sonsabeaches.

You're all the time telling the rest of the world how to live when your own society is one of shallow consumerism and self gratification. You keep people imprisoned without charge, without trial in Guantanamo Bay against the codes of the Geneva convention. You do whatever the hell you please regardless of international law or opinion then you dictate to everyone else how THEY'RE supposed to behave. I'm not angry at you for your anti-muslim stance. I'm in contempt of you for your arrogance and lack of self-awareness. You are a shallow, egotistical American like so many other shallow, egotistical Americans and I have had a gut full of the negative impact people like you are having on my society. So shove that in your bong and smoke it Alkon. You shit me to tears.

Posted by: Imelda at February 16, 2007 4:32 AM

But, I didn't ban you, because I believe in freedom of speech, even for Muslim liars. In Judaism and Christianity, at least, there's a value for telling the truth. In The Religion of Peace, there's a value for lying.

How's that freedom of speech work for you in Islamic countries?

Ooer Ooer.

That sounds like a pig noise. Many Muslims teach their children that Jews are pigs. In fact, it's taught in schools in the Middle East.

What kind of backward people think that way, teach their children that way?

Aaah, again, "The Religion Of Peace."

It's so amazing that you attack me instead of standing up against Muslims who kill in the name of Islam, who use Islam as the reason for killing. Where's your outcry against them?

P.S. My self-importance compelled me to give generously after the tsunami, because I, unlike so many Muslims, don't have a primitive belief in god and the ensuing tribalism -- deadly tribalism, very often, in the case of your particular backward religion.

Again, where's your outcry against murder in the name of Islam? Is outcry against noise-canceling headphones more of a priority? Or is it really my
"arrogance and lack of self-awareness"? Sorry, I can't stop laughing. You post multiple angry posts in many people's names because I'm un-self-aware?

Do you really think that smokescreen is working? I think part of the problem is that you were sold a religion that teaches you not to think, so you can't argue a point all that well; ie, honestly and dealing substantively with the real points. You have to post nasty remarks about of them intimating that I'd be murdered for criticizing Islam.

There's the difference between Islam and the generally more civilized religions. When I post here about Jews and Christians being ridiculous for believing in god and all that ensues from that (banning stem cell research, the teaching of evolution, etc.) they debate me on the points. They sometimes tell me I'm a rude jerk. But, not once has a Jew or a Christian ever told me I'd end up dead for speaking freely against their religion.


Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 16, 2007 5:50 AM

All-seeing All-knowing Alkon,
I am not a Muslim.
I am an anglo-saxon 3rd generation Australian raised as an Anglican, Baptised as a Pentecostal, with a German-Jew heritage on my paternal grandmother's side, living as a non-denominational, non-religious entity. I don't believe in organised religion because I believe it does more to foster war than it does to foster peace. I have my own private relationship with the omnipresence that people argue as being their one true God, Allah or the Spirit in the sky. You really don't know what the hell you're talking about, as usual, which has been my whole grievance all along. I haven't been sold anything except a gut full of propaganda and blind consumerism from a world of humans that I despise, as a species, more and more each day. Roll on the apocalypse, I say.

Posted by: Imelda at February 16, 2007 6:59 AM

What I do know and see is that you're deceptive. I believe nothing you say; I see from your actions the kind of person you are: small, petty, attacking my looks, rather unconcerned about the death cult that is Islam.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 16, 2007 7:10 AM

Ahhh there we have it. Your pride is wounded. I suppose I should apologise. But no, you're right, I'm small and petty and can't see my way to doing that. I'm not unconcerned about "death" cults. However, I don't believe they are confined to the religion of Islam. That is the difference between you and me.
You don't have to believe me. It doesn't matter to me. I am just an angry misanthropist and you just happened to be the bunny that pissed me off on the day. If you'd done anything to dissuade me that my opinion of you was justified, I would've apologised most sincerely and extended the olive branch of international friendship and conciliation. But you kept prodding and poking and so now, when I need to vent, I vent at you.

*heavy sigh* If it makes you feel any better, I wasn't really attacking your looks Amy. I was making a point. Unfortunately, you're just not as intelligent as I gave you credit for and my point was lost on you again and again.

Think what you like. Believe what you like. It's all pretty meaningless in the end.

Good luck to you Alkon.

Posted by: Imelda at February 16, 2007 7:49 AM

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