Distrust in law enforcement, or the Miami Beach Urban Police State Week

* PICTURE RELATED to my state of mind right now *


I’m a native of South Florida. I was born and raised here for 32 years, for better or for worse. This morning, however, according to a Polk County police officer and the Florida Highway Patrol, I woke up as a fresh off the boat illegal immigrant from Guatemala with a fake ID.


So a little bit of background on this. This is Memorial Day Weekend. There’s an unofficial South Florida tradition that Memorial Day Weekend and the week following are Urban Beach Week on Miami Beach. During this week, there are a lot of events on the week centered around hip hop and rap music. While these aren’t my cup of tea, usually, I totally respect anyone’s ability to enjoy their culture and music as much as anyone else.

Unfortunately, our local officials (which we MIGHT have elected, but who knows anymore) see the crowd Urban Beach Week brings in as an undesirable, criminal force, just a pure stream of thugs driving stolen cars packed to the gills with drugs, leaving just enough space for a few high powered firearms in the glovebox. Plus, *gasp*, they’re not Caucasian. THE HORROR!

The solution? Temporary police state.

So it didn’t entirely surprise me when I was driving down to work this morning and saw a row of traffic cones squeezing all the traffic on I-95 just north of the Macarthur Causeway exit into one lane, then fanning back out into a police checkpoint. Officers were stopping everyone momentarily and letting them go again, I figured they were checking for proper paperwork so I pulled out my license, registration, and insurance card, and plopped them on the dash ready. When it was my turn, the officer, whose badge identified him as being from Polk County, Florida, but had black electrical tape over the name and badge number. This seems, sadly, to be VERY COMMON practice when officers are brought in from out of the area. It originated as a liability limiting and intimidating measure with the Miami Model we’re… uhhh… so proud of. So very proud of. So very proud—

The officer takes one look at my ID and says “Please show me your actual ID, or are you fresh off the boat?”

At this point I was both furious and a bit nervous. I told him to request backup and have it verified, because, well… it’s a real Florida state driver’s license. It may not be REAL ID act compliant but that’s because it predated REAL ID and I haven’t gone through the process of updating it yet. It’s still legally valid in Florida as proof of identity, as a driver’s license, and works for everything except getting past airport security and into certain U.S. government facilities.

The lack of the REAL ID star in the corner wasn’t what bothered him, though, it was that the print is blurry.

Here’s the thing. The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles uses these shitty old Datacard printers to produce our IDs and driver’s licenses. These printers are never cleaned, maintained, or calibrated, and they’re run until they just plain die outright in a cloud of foul smoke (it happened right in front of me when I got my first driver’s license!). On mine, there’s both a C/M/Y/K print registration problem, likely due to worn feed rollers and/or guides, and the print is kind of light and foggy looking due to a temperature calibration problem.

But it’s the real thing. That’s the important part.

This officer, however, refused for almost 15 minutes to actually radio in the info from my ID for verification or do anything useful like calling over another officer as I was repeatedly and politely asking him to do. Instead he kept going on about how much trouble I was in for using a fake ID and asking me how I snuck in from Guatemala and telling me how INS would probably keep me in jail for months before finally sending me back.

FINALLY, another officer came over to see why he was holding up his line so badly, scanned the barcode on my ID with a PDA of some sort, looked at my license plate and VIN number, and told me everything was good. I explained to him what the other officer was doing and… he just laughed it off.

Some laughing matter.

To say this left me shaken is an understatement; now I’m kind of worried I’m going to face this kind of bullshit consistently throughout the week. Thankfully it’s only on weekends that I actually drive all the way in to work… for the week I usually use public transit, and buses don’t get stopped at the checkpoints.

Because, you know, no criminal element ever takes the bus. They all take stolen cars.


There’s a lot being said now about the public’s growing distrust in law enforcement….. here’s another story in the mix. Le sigh….

I kind of wish I’d filmed the whole thing in retrospect, but I’m really nervous that someone who isn’t even willing to stop a moment and verify a perfectly legal Florida ID as proof of valid US citizenship would also treat being recorded as a severe offense.


Gateway to the ghetto.

If you were to arrive in Miami as a visitor, on a trip to the beach starting from Miami International Airport, your experience could be like this.




Then if you got on the MIA Mover, you’ll see giant billboards, stalled expressways, and a few junk yards out the windows before pulling into Miami Central Station and possibly getting on this:

Bus #03198, this is a 12 year old bus that was made to last 11 and will be kept in service until 16!

It’s like a perfect, gradual descent into something noticeably closer to third world. I’d say “hell” if I believed in one, but I don’t, so “Liberty City” will have to do.

There’s a lot that needs cleaning up in this megapolis, but alas, the priorities are all wrong. Miami will never be able to be taken seriously as a city.

Largest mall in America, worst possible planning.

“There are a lot of folks in this town” who see these as good jobs, Gimenez said. “Everybody is focused on high-paying jobs. Not everybody is qualified for them. Twenty-thousand jobs are twenty-thousand jobs.”

I dunno, just give us another dodgy flea market and call it a day
I dunno man, just give us another dodgy flea market and call it a day

Yes, Gimenez, tell that to the people who will be employed at minimum wage and can’t afford basic living expenses and the commute to and from work. Vete pa’ la pinga. Thank you for the decades of complete lack of any urban and community planning.

This shit made me mad. Read on if you dare.

Read more “Largest mall in America, worst possible planning.”

Sadness and the WRGP rebranding.

I apologize in advance, I tend to get a little politically incorrect when you take something I held dear, grind it to dust, mix it with dirty sewer water from the pipes under the campus Burger King, and shoot it through a Pepsi machine.

Years ago when I was in school I was working for Radiate FM, WRGP-FM 88.1 FM Miami.

Radiate promo image by Dr. Sprock.
Radiate promo image by Dr. Sprock.

We called it Radiate FM, the Radioactive Underground.

As of about the middle of last year it fell under new management, and subesquently, down the proverbial toilet. Staff who had been with the station for years were suddenly fired for merely playing songs the new general manager didn’t like, the conditions under which one could get a show on the station changed in very awful ways, and it generally just lost all its staff and character.

I very much enjoy one former staff member’s review of the new format he posted to Facebook using their emoji feature:

radiateRebrandingIt’s now just “WRGP, FIU Student Radio”, but it’s not there for the students anymore. It’s there for the new general manager and her sorority buddies. That’s about it.

I have no idea if their new transmitter installation is finished or not (whatever the hell is in that room nowadays, it bleeds like hell and I’ve had to replace and shield the hell out of cabling in the next room over to keep a modulation monitor and Arbitron PPM decoder happy!). Either way, they’re on the air, and you can tune in any time and enjoy them becoming progressively less and less enjoyable to listen to.

Back when I worked there, we were reminded by a few engineering consultants that the station’s license including its two translators were worth about $25 million… we tried very hard to ensure that none of the consultants would convey this information up to Mitch Maidique, who had the campus named after his grubbing slimy ass as part of his golden parachute, since he was hellbent on liquidating and lend/leasing every part of the university they didn’t absolutely need to remain in basic operation and keep attracting new students.

Meanwhile we had a pretty damn huge base of loyal listeners who really enjoyed our programming, from South Florida and all around the world via a streaming system I set up. The budget wasn’t there for like, a proper system like Streamguys or whatever, so I just pretty much put it all through Icecast on a Linux box and it allowed as many people to stream as would fit over the pipe the university gave us. We won the Miami New Times award for best radio station for several years, beating out WVUM, which is, well, WVUM. (Stay tuned for my thoughts on WVUM’s programming some time, it’s kinda… silly…)

One of many, many godawful video billboard installations around campus.
One of many, many godawful video billboard installations around campus.

Several times it came up that there was some group that really wanted the license for a while to convert WRGP into an NPR affiliate (you know, in addition to WLRN-FM just across town?) and remove all the student participation and programming… The school thankfully said “not for sale… for now.”

"I'm wearing this shit eating grin because I just scored another few million for me and my bud Armando Codina!"
“I’m wearing this shit eating grin because I just scored another few million for me and my bud Armando Codina!”

Hell, the building that contained Radiate’s studios, classroom space, the university bookstore, and most of the student life offices almost got converted into a shopping mall on several occasions.

And we held out for this?

Their new logo isn’t even worth posting, it’s just a vaguely soundwave like line behind the letters “WRGP”. Yawn.

I’m not totally sure how Radiate could return to its former glory now, as the new management and media board worked together closely to ensure that only current staff members, carefully handpicked by the new management, can provide any input to the media board on the station’s image and charter… maybe someday when they all graduate, there will be an opening for someone who actually knows how to run a radio station. Until then, sit back and laugh at those fools gradually starting to gravitate towards an oh so hot early 2000s mallcore sound on 88.1 WRGP-FM Homestead, 95.3 W237CP Miami, 96.9 W245BF North Miami Beach……..

Dell… What a turdbrick…

Can’t use it as a computer, can’t even set it on fire. This is why I’ll never willingly buy a Dell.

Do not try this at home. I am a Certified Broadcast Technologist and juuuuuust irresponsible enough to do this without setting myself on fire as well. 😉

“Spontaneous Disassembly” or EXPLOSIVE Z-Bola.

Never a dull moment. See this breaker? I flicked it earlier in the week to reset the transmitter’s control shelf (just visible off to the left of the photo with its huge nest of ribbon cables).


Then came the phone call on a Sunday morning that we were off the air. I came into the room, opened the back of the transmitter, found CB1 had tripped, reset it and began to walk away…

And then came the explosion. Yep, my transmitter SHARTED. Here’s the aftermath.
Read more ““Spontaneous Disassembly” or EXPLOSIVE Z-Bola.”

WOIR-AM… There are no words


Greetings! I am FAILTUNER! Enjoy my field of nightmares!

I saw two AM towers I’d never noticed before while driving away from the site WDNA-FM is on after fixing a major case of explosive Z-Bola (more on that in another post). I’d never seen them lit before despite them having beacons at the tops? I drove in for a closer look and whooooa brother is there ever a mess to be found here. This is a good example of bad broadcast engineering and maintenance practices. FOUL!!!
Read more “WOIR-AM… There are no words”

Y’alls on crack.


I bought some Lite-On led displays with integrated shift register driver a few years back. They’re kinda cool, reducing the microcontroller pin count needed to drive two digits of alphanumeric displays to a mere three — chip select/enable, clock, data in. Not bad at all, even if they don’t have serial out like a proper shift register; the last cell of the shift register is connected to output latch to remove the need to externally fire the latch.

But good luck reading that datasheet.


So far so good, right?




AAAUGH. WHY?! WHHHHYYYYY??!!! All this is missing is a liberal use of Comic Sans.

Please, do not do this.