Noise: The Exuberant Beetles of Brazil

Prolonged exposure to loud noise probably causes heart flutter, headaches and constriction of the blood vessels—not to mention partial deafness. But noise can also be an expression of exuberance, and there are no more exuberant people than the Brazilians. Citizens of Rio de Janeiro and Sāo Paulo hold polite sidewalk conversations by shouting at each other above the city noises. Do they mind? Quite the contrary. "Sāo Paulo is noisier than here," says Housewife Itacy Buarque de Macedo, "but our noise is more simpatico."

Most of the racket comes from...

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