How Loud Motorcycles Could Reduce The Deficit

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Many many motorcycles are too loud.
Don't get us wrong. Sometimes we like loud stuff -- great music, a good movie. ZVOX is all about loud when loud is good. But when we're reading a book in the back yard the sound of a 40-second 103 decibel internal combustion fart is just bad.
If you don't own a Harley, you're almost certain to agree with us.
If you do own one, you're almost certain to disagree with us. You'll tell us that your Harley needs to be loud for safety reasons. Then you'll put on your low-visibility black leather jacket and your totally useless skullcap helmet and ride away, thus demonstrating that your safety concerns are limited to areas that make you look (or sound) cool.
The EPA has national regulations banning the use of loud motorcycle exhaust pipes, and many states and towns have laws on the books. But they are rarely enforced, because proving that the bike is too loud is complicated and requires testing equipment and, often, court appearances. Maine has passed a law that requires bikers to have a current stamp proving their systems are within the legal noise limits. They even require the sticker be displayed prominently from the rear -- so police officers can see (or not see) it.
Monetizing noise.
Here's an idea. Each state should do what Maine's doing -- then enforce the law. Start collecting $250 fines from every loud Harley, every time it gets caught. Then offer a "safety exemption sticker." For $1,000 a month, motorcyclists can get a sticker that allows them to ride around with loud pipes. Currently there are about 7 million motorcycles in the United States. We don't know how many have illegal pipes -- but it sounds like a lot of them. If 10% of all motorcyclists received one $100 noise citation, that would raise $70 million. If 10% of bikers chose to pay $1,000 a month for the privilege of being loud -- for just four months of the year -- that would raise $2.8 billion a year. And if any bikers decided to go back to legal pipes, the world would become a better, quieter place -- and a lot of mechanics would get a lot of work. Good for unemployment!
Of course we think that the people buying the "safety exemption" stickers should also have to agree to wear bright pink helmets and jackets (to help them stay safe), but state legislators probably aren't as cruel-hearted as we are.
For more information about noise pollution of all sorts, check out www.noiseoff.org -- a truly great web site.

Installing The New Apple TV - A Love Story

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Thursday, October 14, 2010
We just installed our zippy new Apple TV system. Because the installer (me) is old and rather bone-headed, the installation (including re-registering a lapsed Neflix account) took about half an hour of fussing and running up and down stairs between office PC and living room TV. I'm pretty sure most people could get it up and running in 10 minutes or so.

After hookup and keying-in passwords, operation of the device is gloriously simple. Intuitive to a fault. Picture quality on my new Samsung LED-backlit 40" TV is excellent -- a powerful testimonial for the quality of a good 720P HD signal. Audio quality is also good.

This simple little $100 box gives me access to my entire I-Tunes audio and video libraries, plus it lets me watch YouTube and Netflix videos. For me, it's all about I-Tunes music and Netflix. My living room ZVOX 575 home theater system is now -- for the first time, really -- also my first floor audio system. The I-Tunes user interface, translated to my TV screen (or my iPhone, which can act as a remote for the Apple TV system) is simply great because it is simple. Simple good. Complicated bad.

In the past I've used Netflix on demand on my PC, but having the service available on my main TV changes the game. I was quickly bouncing from the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup" to episodes I'd missed of "Archer" and "Better of Ted." This thing is fun!

But more than fun, it's simple. Sites like Gizmodo and Engadget tend to poo-poo the Apple TV because it's not 1080P and because other similar devices will do more. But the 720P picture I get is perfectly great -- and iTunes, Netlfix and Youtube are pretty much all I want. So Apple's remarkable simplicity and affordable price won me over....for now. But I may have to check out the recently-announced Sony BluRay player with built-in Google TV.

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