Bunch of questions banging around in my head.

Ok, I didn’t think any of these questions deserved a thread of their own, but they are annoying me, so I just wanted to throw them out there.
I watched Hannibal the other day and walked away with a couple of weird questions.** spoiler in here**

Is PS. dead?

You know, post script? The little thing you add to the bottom of a letter. I can understand it when you hand write a letter, but in the age of computers, is there really any reason not to just include all your thoughts above the closing?
Can you really cut someone’s skull off and feed them their brain?

I feel like a complete idiot for even asking this one. I have seen medical shows where they show brain surgery. The person getting operated on is always awake. They put them in one of those frames, but they are awake and aware. So, would it be possible for a doctor to cut off the top of someone’s head like that?

Non-Hannibal questions:

In NJ, we have these sound walls that they line the highways with. They are a good 20 feet high and create a canyon effect as you drive down a road. Since the state is so compact, there are often neighborhoods right on the other side of the walls.

Is there any other place place in the country that uses these walls extensively?
Here’s an internet question that I asked over in ATMB, but if you’re looking to kill some time you might want to click over and read.


I think they’re pretty common nowadays. Baltimore built/is building them almost the entire way around the beltway, especially in populated areas. Suburbs back up right onto them. I think I’ve seen some around parts of DC’s beltway too (although it’s been a while since I’ve been on the Washington Beltway, and could be confusing memories).

I still use it when I’ve finished composing a letter and I’ve thought of something else like a “by the way…” that would look clumsy if I stuck it into the body, or else I just don’t feel like going back into the text & doing the work needed to incorporate it into the body of the letter.

They are a very common site around the capital beltway here in Washington DC, where your tax dollars are hard at work. You can usually see the roofs of houses just on the other side. The walls are useful not only for sound absorption, they also defect our stray bullets.

p.s.: The brain-eating question came up over in IMHO somewhere.

Hence their name: sound barriers.
This is part of a federal money, highway development program. Originally, they were designed to protect neighborhood from the sound generated from highways encroaching on existing neighborhoods.
Local contractors petitioned states to apply for these funds so that they could bid on and win the installation contracts. States acquieced because it was “free government money” and if they didn’t put in for it some other state would get it.
The upshot is, that after the barriers were installed where they were needed, the program just cycled up out of control. Now there is nary a federal highway in the northeast which doesn’t have at least some of its mileage blocked by these barriers.
There’s no end in sight either. The program is still going full bore.

Corrected link:


I found the other thread on the brain thing. Thanks for the heads up. [sub]Is that what the search function is for?[/sub]

I’ve seen your sound barriers in use in a few dense urban regions like the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). In some parts of the GTA, a major highway (called a ‘400-series road’) runs right through a populated area (Mississauga or Scarborough, for example). The residents of the neighboring subdivisions must certainly appreciate the noise abatement, but I had always imagined that these were meant as physical barriers, too… to keep wayward cars out of backyards and wayward children off the 401.

In Europe, on the EURail system (I think that’s what it’s called) they use these walls on some of the regular lines, and on all of the lines serviced by the TGV’s (High-Speed Trains).

As stated above, these are usually put up when a new Interstate goes thru an established neighborhood, or an older highway is widened, and there are houses alongside. There is a formula (no, I don’t know it) that takes into account number of “receptors” (homes, schools, etc.), their distance from the highway, and the projected traffic level. The walls are very expensive, so we don’t put them up willy-nilly*. Once we started putting them up here (Jacksonville), we started getting two kinds of calls: [1] neighborhoods that developed AFTER the highway was in place, wanting the soundwalls (sorry, no, we will check when we add lanes in a few years), and [2] people living near the walls - on the east or north side of the wall - complaining about the walls blocking the sun and causing early twilight.

  • phrase origin - willy-nilly?

(Italics mine)




Thought that slipped by.

By the way, Freedom, I’ll let this one go, but in general, it’s a lot simpler on everyone if you open up separate threads for unrelated questions. Walls along highways have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with cranial cannibalism, and the folks qualified to answer the one are very likely to be different from the folks qualified to answer the other. Besides, I doubt that there’s any subject so trivial that the fine folks here can’t turn it into a full discussion worthy of its own thread. If we can have a full thread about cats doing bench presses, we can have one on road barriers.