Piratas de radio

Doc Searls finds something unexpected, or at least unlicensed, on the radio in New York:

I went to RikaFM.com, where a graphic at the top of the page says “‘FCC Part 15 Radio Station’.” Part 15 is what those tiny transmitters for your mobile device have to obey. It’s an FCC rule on interference that limits the range of unlicensed transmissions to a few feet, not a few miles. So clearly this is a claim, not a fact. I’ve listened in the car as well, and the signal is pretty strong.

“A few feet” is putting it mildly: the rule specifies a maximum field strength of 250 microvolts per meter at a distance of 3 meters, down in the microwatt range. My wireless router has more coverage than that. Then again, it doesn’t operate on the FM band.

And they’re streaming live, albeit in mono, on their Web site. It’s a bit more interesting than the canned regional-Mexican stuff we get down here on the legit Spanish-language stations.

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You’ll note it’s not the Y-Trail

Doug DeMuro’s Frankfurt Auto Show recap for TTAC contained the following paragraph:

Nissan revealed the all-new X-Trail, which will be sold stateside as the Rogue. Female drivers rejoiced, while male car shoppers thought to themselves: Am I comfortable enough with my sexuality to like this?

No photo was offered, so I went out hunting, and came up with this rendering courtesy of Australia’s The Motor Report:

2014 Nissan X-Trail

It’s not as bizarre as the Juke, but scarcely anything is as bizarre as the Juke. Still, I continue to maintain that a Real Man™ drives what he damn well pleases. Were I buying in this class, I’d probably rather have a Mazda CX-5, which is similarly devoid of the sort of boy-racer styling cues that DeMuro suggests, possibly tongue-in-cheek, that the lads covet.

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Play or be played

Opening later this month is a film titled Runner, Runner, about which Vanity Fair interviewed female lead Gemma Arterton:

She plays Rebecca Shafran, the right-hand girl of nefarious poker-Web-site owner Ivan Block (played by Ben Affleck), who is forced to contend with Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), a Princeton student who has lost his tuition money on the site. Embroiled in the billion-dollar online-gambling industry, Rebecca “finds herself trapped and in too deep in a world of crime she doesn’t really enjoy,” Arterton says of her character. “She is the only female in the movie, so I had to make her earthy and give her a lot of substance,” Arterton adds. “I made her a little more female — she was a man’s idea of a woman before I brought some of my ideas to the writers.” As for the plot, it’s when Block takes Furst on as an apprentice, and Furst and Shafran fall in love, that, she says, “it gets messy and complicated.”

We’ve seen that concept before: “a man’s idea of a woman.” Any similarity to an actual woman is a coincidence and not intended.

Then again, I seldom get to see actual women wearing Donna Karan New York in NYC townhomes, so:

Gemma Arterton in repose

Complicated, perhaps, but not the least bit messy.

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A generous hardware review

Testing this new notebook with Windows 8 is busy fashion designer and efficiency expert Rarity.

Well, at least it wasn’t the Worst Possible Thing.

(Plucked from an EqD Nightly Roundup.)

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And not a moment too soon

Respondents to Oklahoma City’s annual survey (you can see it as a PDF, if you’re so inclined) are generally pleased with city services with a couple of notable exceptions: the transit system is inadequate, and the streets are worse.

One of the worst streets, however, is about to become less so:

Look for the work to start in January on rebuilding four miles of May Avenue between NW 36 Street and Britton Road. Roadbed will be reconstructed, wheelchair ramps will go in at 14 intersections, and the street will be resurfaced with asphalt. Drainage will be improved on the west side of May between Summit Place and Britton.

Drainage would first have to exist in something other than Public Works’ imagination for it to be “improved.” I’ve always assumed that this was their way of telling southbound drivers that they’ve just left The Village.

Cost of the project: $3.8 million. That’s $950,000 a mile. And they’ll have to do it again before the decade is out. The Feds — meaning, of course, people from Fairbanks to Fargo to Philadelphia — will put up 80 percent of that.

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That’ll do, pigs

Bill Quick has changed his mind on term limits:

There was a time when I opposed term limits, on the theory that the right to vote guaranteed the application of term limits if constituencies desired to do so. In other words, while term limits might automatically remove “bad” legislators and executives, they might also force the removal of “good” ones against the wishes of their supporters.

I no longer feel this way.

We have created a political and cultural situation — or, rather, the progressive movement, expressed through both of our major parties, has created it — that more or less guarantees the impossibility of removing any legislator at the federal level, no matter how atrocious their record or behavior, by means of the ballot. Only in the smallest and most egregious instances do we ever see malefactors in high office removed by vote, and even when that happens, voting districts have been so gerrymandered that a more or less carbon copy is guaranteed to achieve succession. And in the end nothing ever changes, and the progressive project marches ever onward to greater and greater power, and greater and greater tyranny.

We’ve had term limits for a while here in Soonerland, and while they haven’t been an unalloyed joy — some of the replacement pols have been even more disappointing than their predecessors, and it sometimes seems that the revolving door between lobbyists and legislators is moving faster than ever — I still prefer them to the alternative. At least the replacement pols will be replaced themselves in due time.

Then again, P. J. O’Rourke might have been right all along: “Term limits aren’t enough. We need jail.”

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Take that, fanboys!

A fairly tepid review by Derek Kreindler at The Truth About Cars of Jeep’s new Cherokee drew a call from someone at Allpar.com, perhaps the largest Mopar fan site, to have TTAC barred from future Chrysler press events.

To which Jack Baruth, in his capacity as TTAC Editor-in-Chief pro tempore, replies:

When the administrator of a major Mopar fan site calls for Derek’s voice to be silenced because he doesn’t like the review, what he is in effect saying is this: “I value the sales success of a Chrysler product over the individual experience of Chrysler owners.” He’s siding with the corporation, not the driver. I suppose that’s fine for some people. It doesn’t wash here. The English car magazines used to whitewash the failings of cars like the Rover Metro and Jaguar XJ6. Today the companies that made those products are in non-British hands. Because you cannot lie and whitewash your way to success in the automotive business. In the long run, the customer will find out. Every cheat, every slip, every cut corner, will eventually show. You cannot wallpaper a bad product forever. Eventually, the truth will come out and the manufacturers will fail. If you love Chrysler, then you’d better hope that they make a good car. That’s all that can save them.

TTAC will continue to give positive reviews of Chrysler products — when the product is good. When that is not the case, we will continue to alert our readers to problems. We do not apologize for that, we will not walk that back, we will not change. If that means that we are no longer invited to evaluate Chrysler products, we will rent Chrysler products. If that means that we don’t get to party with the cool kids, we can live with that.

The Allpar poster, I am told, is not actually an admin on the forum.

And lest anyone think Kreindler is all ate up with Mopar hate, this is the end of that review:

The current Grand Cherokee is my favorite SUV at any price. All trim levels, from the lowliest Laredo to the insane SRT, shine with excellence. I wish I could say the same for its baby brother.

First few Google hits for “TTAC hates”: domestics generally, the Ford Focus dual-clutch automatic, the XAP Zebra (damn!), Lexus, the Ford Fusion, the Volkswagen Eos, VW TDI models generally — and we’re still on the first page. Evidently nobody’s happy.

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Maybe a little truth

But this time, it’s mostly dare, and as you’d expect, some of those dares are marginally disgusting, albeit still funny.

SDK, incidentally, stands for Settle Down Kids. I think.

I saw the original Little Brother Fake Tweet, although I didn’t recognize it as such. (And really, this one would have seemed more likely, but it happened after the fact.)

Also this week, since RB is back in school: essential school supplies.

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Quote of the week

Voyager 1 has left the solar system, and as major achievements go, this one has its drawbacks:

Anyone else bothered by the fact that we sent a thing into space that contains a map to its origin planet and an open invitation?

“Hi, we’re a barely space-faring civilization that you could probably conquer and subjugate with your equivalent of a Boy Scout troop! Here’s a map to our home planet. Stop by anytime!”

Oh, they will.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Same old, only samer and older

Does this sound like you? Because it definitely sounds like me:

[T]here are a couple of blogs I’ve been checking in on periodically over the last couple of years. It doesn’t matter how long the span of time is between my visits because their latest post says exactly what they wrote three months ago. It’s a deafening and nauseating regurgitation of glowy self-effacement. Personal disclosures and shock-jock phrases are the de rigueur for bloggers.

They think if they abandon discretion they will prove how genuine they are. And, even if we’re not convinced, we might hang around long enough to observe the train wreck. For a blogger, that means traffic and we’ll do anything for hits, right? We’re constantly trying to figure out how to be awesome, how to go viral.

Let’s see. What was I talking about three months ago?

Dead to rights, folks; I haven’t changed a thing. The train wreck goes ever on.

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The short version

Does this meet the disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission?

Then again, do disclosure requirements even mean anything anymore?

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Scrubbing the scribes

On the off-chance that some of you are curious about my none-too-secret side activity, here’s a look at where a lot of it happens:

I’ll vouch for, um, much of that.

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License with the plates

The first book of Nephi, which opens the Book of Mormon, as told by Will Truman:

God tells Lehi to get the heck out of Dodge (Jerusalem) because there is some bad stuff coming. Lehi tries to round up his family, but a couple of his sons (Laman and Lamuel) object. God picks Nephi, the youngest (at the time) son, as his favorite. This causes much trouble and murmuring with the other brothers. Laman and Lamuel are tagged as bad apples, though God (through Lehi and/or Nephi) alternates between telling them that they are bad apples and that they should behave. There is another son, Sam, who seems to be a swing vote between good (Nephi) and evil (the other two). God gives Nephi some shapechanging powers and gives them a magic compass. After some time in the wilderness, Nephi builds a boat and they sail off to America.

That murmuring can get you into a lot of trouble.

As I recall — one of my best buds in the Service was LDS — the descendants of his brothers, Nephi envisioned, would be a “dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” Mind you, this was written before MTV.

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Neither shalt thou haze

Leipzig University issued this rule just in time for the fall semester, 1495:

Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen. Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water or urine, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation.

Senator John Blutarsky was not available for comment.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh.)

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Thanks to our BFF Vlad

A reasonable stance on the Syria deal, courtesy of the Crimson Reach:

1. We don’t attack Syria, which would be pointless, wasteful, kill innocent people, possibly unconstitutional (given what I assume would be a “no” House vote), risky, and of course — by design — accomplish nothing tangible.

2. Lefties get to go around pretending that the “deal” is real and the [chemical weapons] ban it imposes is meaningful, that the Russians are a trustworthy partner, and that this is a victory — in short that this outcome is what the Obama administration planned all along.

Which, in the final analysis, is fine with him:

I’ll do that trade all day long. I literally do not care about the politics or political-point-scoring angle of this. I do care about the not-using-our-military-to-engage-in-pointless-wasteful-attacks aspect.

I guess we’ll have to live with that.

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For future Pontifexcursions

I always thought it was a shame that the Pontiff never got to drive a Pontiac.

Pope Francis has already taken delivery of the official Popemobile, a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class, but that’s really not his style, and he’s now gotten a personal vehicle more in tune with his tastes: a 29-year-old Renault 4 with a stick shift — I don’t think they made any with automatics — received as a gift from a parish priest in Verona.

To me, the niftiest aspect of the 4, which none of the wire services have mentioned, is that the wheelbase differs depending on which side of the car you’re measuring: the rear suspension consists of two full-width transverse torsion bars, and of necessity, one is mounted in front of the other. (The difference is 1.8 inches, the right side being the longer.) Since the 4 is front-wheel drive, this doesn’t matter a whole lot for handling, but it’s the sort of thing that sticks with you, and by “you” I mean “me.”

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