Sunday, October 29, 2006

‘F’ the Fallen

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) ISUPK blasting those down on the ground and down on their luck. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Saturday’s scene at H and 8th Streets NE revealed an apparently passed-out man in the middle of the sidewalk, and another inebriated fellow who argued with the usual amplified screamers. At one point, Yahanah—one of the ISUPK members—apparently frustrated with the man's questions, screamed the word “fuck” into the microphone. The fatigue-clad men laughed about the expletive, just as the neighborhood's parents of young children would not.

A Metropolitan Police Dept. officer was on the scene, so I presumed the man on the ground was either not in immediate danger or help was on the way. About 10 minutes later, D.C. fire personnel arrived to aid the fallen man (below). The amplified noise never stopped during the rescue.

It was non-stop weekend amplification without limits—on Sunday, the Rev. Dallas Williams used his amplifier at the intersection for about an hour.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Under the Streetlight

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) No, it’s not a Halloween image--just the usual Saturday scene at H and 8th Streets NE. The photo was made Saturday, Oct. 21 at about 7 p.m. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Feeble Arguments Need Amplified Boost

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) In between bites of a sandwich, Yahanah (with the microphone) has no problem using the amplifier to quell another opposing argument at the corner of H and 8th Streets NE Saturday. Forget the telemarketing calls that briefly interrupt dinner at home. The amplified speech at H and 8th Streets NE is a four-hours long continuous disruption for everyone in the community. One group yet again awakened one neighbor’s ill toddler from a nap. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

It is now obvious that the Isreali School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK) uses their amplifier for a purpose beyond deliberate harassment of H Street residents and businesses: The group needs it to ensure only its arguments are heard over any opposing views.

Time and time again, a pattern repeats at the corner of H and 8th Streets: A passerby attempts to engage the ISUPK in debate, only to be buried under an avalanche of decibels. There is no equal exchange—the amplified argument allows no opposing word to be heard.

Either the ISUPK lacks true belief and confidence in its apparently frail doctrines or it is unable to articulate them against any other views. Or maybe it is both.

And instead of becoming better orators or honing their arguments, the ISUPK men simply fall back on their crutch—the loudspeaker. They’re now dependent on the device—addicted to the power of an amplifier. No better than the drug dealers they claim to abhor.

How pathetic and hypocritical.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Canada Explores 'Assault by Sound' Charge

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Neighbors try to converse while bombarded by sound waves from one group’s blaring amplifier. The noise from one group rages for more than four hours each Saturday. Sound waves are physical matter that can transcend fences and other barriers. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

While fences can keep out some things, they can’t keep out harassing waves of sound, which also are physical objects.

A blogger named listener recently posted this to interesting tidbit Quest for Quiet:

The noise you are experiencing is loud enough to be considered assault. It is like a directly contacting physical touch in that noise is a physical force. It is unwanted touching, molestation by noise, invasive physical contact with a wave rather than a solid material. It is relentless.

There is a way to lay a charge, up here in Canada, if a prosecutor won't lay the charge. Ultimately I expect to see such a precedent set.

The U.S. Military must agree. It uses sound for waging psychological warfare and is exploring new sonic weapons.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Noise Harassment Not Sporting

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) An employee of the Sports Zone—located on the southeast corner of H and 8th Streets NE and only feet from the source of disturbingly loud amplified speech—gazes at the typical Saturday scene in front of his store. Business was not necessarily brisk during the hour I spent at the corner Saturday. In a Sept. 14 Voice of the Hill story, one property manager said, the noise issue “has been going on for so long that a lot of [tenants] don’t even realize the impact anymore.” Sound levels Saturday mostly ranged from 85-100 decibels—with frequent peaks of more than 105 decibels—at least 12 feet away from the amplifier. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

D.C. Neighborhood Wrestles Aircraft Noise

Sunday’s Washington Post carried a story ("In the Palisades, Everything But Clear Skies") about one D.C. neighborhood’s ongoing effort to reduce the effects of aircraft noise.

Residents and a nonprofit group are studying noise patterns of aircraft flying into and out of Washington National Airport. The people are not fighting the airport, but rather working on solutions agreeable to everyone. My only suggestion is that they employ decibel meters to quantify the sound levels instead of using subjective terms like “less loud, normal, and louder.”

Hopefully, such best practices can be applied elsewhere to improve our continuously crowding world.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Two Men, One Amplifier, Unfair Debate

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Goody, a resident living near H & 8th Streets NE, attempts to make his viewpoint heard over another man’s use of a blaring amplifier. Goody was upset that the neighborhood’s children were forced to listen, in his view, to “objectionable language.” The one-sided exchange happened Saturday on the southeast corner of the intersection. The amplified group loudly raged on for more than four hours. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

D.C. Jokingly Calls ‘Excessive Noise’ a ‘Menace’

The next time you find yourself imprisoned at home some afternoon, unable to escape the physically punching sound waves from one unreasonable person’s electrified amplifier, you can take comfort knowing the District of Columbia’s “declared public policy” should protect your community. Or not.

To the residents and businesses near H and 8th Streets NE suffering from more than four hours of extremely loud (100 decibels) amplified speech every Saturday, this “public policy” is nothing more than lip-service, at best, and a joke, at worst.

Title 20 District of Columbia Municipal Regulations “CHAPTER 27 NOISE CONTROL GENERAL PROVISIONS” reads:

2700.1 It is the declared public policy of the District that every person is entitled to ambient noise levels that are not detrimental to life to life, health, and enjoyment of his or her property. It is hereby declared that excessive or unnecessary noises within the District are a menace to the welfare and prosperity of the residents and businesses of the District.

It is the declared public policy of the District to reduce the ambient noise level in the District to promote public health, safety, welfare, and the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of the District, and to facilitate the enjoyment of the natural attraction of the District.

Funny? Our neighbors and businesses think not. Review the District of Columbia’s entire “CHAPTER 27 NOISE CONTROL” here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Dose of 102 Decibels

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) The sound level meter reads 102.4 decibels (dB) measured about 12 feet away from the blaring amplifier. The measurement was made at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30. The non-stop noise disturbs residents, business owners and customers for more than four hours every Saturday. The broken D.C. noise law provides no limits on non-commercial amplified speech between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Free speech is a right. Making unlimited noise with an amplifier should not be, as it apparently is in the District of Columbia. It is an issue of health and safety.

Several neighbors and I scraped together $80 for a handheld Extech sound level meter. It gauges the loudness of sound, which is measured in decibels (dB). The city noise inspector at the Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs used a similar device when he issued three separate citations to one noisemaking group at H and 8th St. However, those citations were thrown out after the D.C. Office of Attorney general pointed out the loophole in the city statute.

So, just how loud is 102.4 dB like I measured at H and 8th Streets NE Saturday?

According to the League for Hard of Hearing, here are points of reference measured in decibels:

0 dB: The softest sound a person can hear with normal hearing
10 dB: normal breathing
20 dB: whispering at 5 feet
30 dB: soft whisper
40 dB: quiet residential area
50 dB: rainfall
60 dB: normal conversation
85 dB: heavy traffic, noisy restaurant
90 dB: power lawnmower
100 dB: factory machinery
110 dB: rock concert, shouting in ear
120 dB: thunder

And is 102 dB dangerous to human ears? Absolutely. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety says without proper hearing protection, exposure to 103 dB for less than eight minutes may cause hearing loss. Most people wait longer than that at intersection’s four bus stops.

The city council must fix the broken noise law to protect health and safety for all residents. Clearly, it’s an important issue--it's time for the councilmembers to have their hearing checked.