French Gendarmerie Nationale to use Subaru Impreza WRXs for chase vehicles. French cars were too slow.
PARIS (Reuters) - The next time a criminal in a getaway car in France looks in the rear window the chances are that the vehicle in pursuit will be a blue French police Subaru.
The Japanese car brand, part of Fuji Heavy Industries, has sped past French rivals to win a key contract for fast intervention cars for the highway police.
"We have a contract to supply 63 cars to the Gendarmerie Nationale for patrols on the roads," Subaru spokesman Gilles Varmoux said on Thursday. "There was a tender for four-door, four-wheel drive cars that could go faster than 240 km per hour (149 miles per hour) and had a reasonable price," he added.
The Subaru Impreza WRX cars will replace Peugeot's 306 S16 and the Renault Megane Coupe.
The police forces are among the most faithful clients of the local car makers, but this time the French offerings were just too slow.
"These new vehicles will allow the national police to fight the most serious and most dangerous road offences," the Gendarmerie Nationale, part of the defence ministry, said on its Website.
It added that 156 agents would be trained to drive the cars on the Bugatti racing circuit of Le Mans in west France.
The cars are for the rapid intervention brigade (BRI) which previously had vehicles that could not go faster than 190 km per hour, or about 118 miles per hour.
The BRI, spread over the country at 55 stations, will intervene only in case of a crime or serious offence when a driver has to be stopped immediately.
In 2005 there were 53,000 instances of people on the run in cars or refusing to stop at the police's request.
Most European criminals will also no longer be able to claim that they did not understand police instructions in French -- the cars will relay their messages in a light display in five languages -- French, English, German, Spanish and Dutch -- while there is room for three others.
Sunday, 19th of March, 2006
Saturday, 18th of March, 2006
Tuesday, 14th of March, 2006
It's a silly fear, really – that I will at some point have seen all the interesting buildings in town, have heard all the good 16th century music composed, or seen all the reptiles in the zoo. I suppose I can remember the disappointment I had when I realized I had read every single astronomy book in the kids' section at the local library when I was a kid, and I had to find some other topic of interest. However, the fear is completely unfounded - if I really think about it, discovery of knowledge is more like a funnel or pyramid fanning out. The discovery of one new thing opens the door for the discovery of many other things dependent on it. Besides, simple observations make it obvious that God created enough of a variety of things in the world we live in to entertain us for 90 years, or whatever a lifetime happens to be.
It's a good day for journaling – I have another thought this morning worth recording. Dave Sonius over at Ladue High School once said that some people do their best thinking in the shower – when the warm water hits the back of your neck, stimulating a bunch of nerves at one time and provoking some sort of enlightenment. Since he brought that to my attention I've noticed it happens to me all the time. This morning, I must have been staring at the green scrubber at the bottom of my bathtub when the water hit.
Nobody likes to schedule time in their life to perform dull tasks like cleaning the bathtub. Well, over time, I discover that I end up not scheduling such activities at all – and instead I wind up on a feedback system, where I clean the bathtub when I can visibly see that it is dirty, so that when I clean it I actually feel like I'm accomplishing something. This is not ideal – we all know that it's better and more efficient to perform preventative tasks – there will be a lot less aggregate scrubbing if I just cleaned the bathtub every week. Well anyway I was in the middle of this feedback cycle – I noticed the bathtub was dirty so I threw the green scrubber into the bathtub. That was as far as I got last week (can you tell how much I love cleaning the bathtub?)
This application of multi-tasking may be completely obvious to some people, but I think I was late in being enlightened to a more logical system of cleaning my bathtub. Instead of scheduling time every week to perform the dull task of cleaning my bathtub, I realized I could just leave a scrubber in the bathtub and scrub it during my shower – while I'm enjoying the warm water hitting my back. It makes it a much more pleasant task. I should put more thought into other dull tasks from this point forward – there's some potential happiness to be gained here, as well as efficiency.
Picture - This is what one person did when it started hailing outside. I suppose it works - complete with the hail helmet.
Monday, 13th of March, 2006
"Olivette - Three teens were arrested March 6 for vandalizing numerous mailboxes The youths were apprehended at about 1 a.m. on Crosswinds Drive, just off Old Bonhomme Road.
Police said they began receiving calls at about 11:30 p.m. March 3 regarding a vehicle, with two people hanging out the windows, being driven through neighborhoods. The teens were driving by mailboxes and smashing them with baseball bats.
At least 18 vandalized mailboxes in Olivette subdivisions, mostly off Old Bonhomme Road, have been linked to the teens.
Police said the teens included two 16-year-old boys and a 17-year-old boy, all students at DeSmet Jesuit High School."
Sunday, 12th of March, 2006
Saturday, 11th of March, 2006
Picture - So now it's time to figure out why the A/C doesn't work in my car. Since the compressor doesn't even spin or turn on, I figured it was an electrical problem - a relay or something. But then after reading there is an electrical signal that prevents the compressor from turning on when there is very low pressure in the A/C system, I figured I should check again for leaks. Looked under the intercooler at the low-pressure hose and found a nice round hole sitting there. I'm confused at how it got there, and I'm not even sure if this is the culprit since I stuck my finger in there and wasn't able to verify the hole penetrates the rubber. Hmmm.
Thursday, 9th of March, 2006
First, let's start with an arragement that I've always heard about from percussionists, but never seen before - the 7-timpani arragement. That was about the only thing that stayed in the same place on the stage for the entire concert, and it was definitely necessary and used during the Dutilleux "Timbres, espace, mouvement" after the intermission. Another surprise that piece brought us is the deletion of the violin and viola sections. This may be the only time in my life where I'll see a cellist be the concertmaster. This arrangement also allowed the percussion section to spread out a bit.
But even before the intermission, we had a very modern violin concerto by Oliver Knussen. You know where this is going from the very beginning - the piece starts with two percussionists at the chimes. It may even be accurate to say that the percussion had more notes in this piece than the strings section. It was a piece with a lot of well-written and well-executed textures, though, I actually enjoyed it.
But then when we get to the final piece, the Ravel orchestration of Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, everyone gets back on stage for a nice full orchestra with 8 string basses, among other things. I don't remember if this was also the piece tonight where there were 3 tam-tams on the stage at once too.
I thoroughly enjoyed it - and the Dress Circle seats were perfect for enjoying the more modern pieces where the orchestra is best enjoyed as a whole, both visually and audibly. Yes, this is a good one - if you're reading this and it's still Friday, March 10th, you've got a chance to go tonight too. Get balcony seats, obviously.
Sunday, 5th of March, 2006
I went in and watched Carmen after we played, which is something I probably needed to have done earlier in life - it's one of those classics and I've been exposed to the music a lot and know it pretty well.
Saturday, 4th of March, 2006
Well anyway, time passed and I never got a chance to do touch-up paint on the mirror, the driving improved on Delmar, and I started parking in the driveway, so the mirror just sat around - I almost felt like I wasted $20. Then the hail storm hit - and among other things it shattered my driver-side mirror. And, like the other things, it turned out to be one of the more convenient things to fix - cause I had already sunk money into the part 2 years ago. The foresight I had about pulling that mirror worked out after all - in a different way than I had imagined.
As I'm getting the mirror up there for a test fit to make sure it does indeed have the same mounting points I also discover that the 97 mirror is also significantly larger than the 98. That's a nice bonus, I've always felt the Legacy could use a slightly larger mirror, though I wasn't complaining since it was good compared to the useless little things on the Cavalier I used to drive.
Removal and installation of the mirror was pretty straightforward once I figured out that I needed to remove the entire door trim to get to the lower 2 screws - I seem to have forgotten how I removed it from the junkyard car 2 years ago, though I think the door trim was already gone from that car if I recall correctly.
Well while I'm looking at my May 2003 entries I may as well also revisit the topic of air pressure zones on a car. I noticed that without a grille on my car at speeds exceeding 50 mph I would get the most surprising and hideous buzzing noise from the hood. A visual inspection at those speeds revealed that the high pressure air under the carbon fibre hood was bending it upwards and the air was spitting out the gap between the hood and the fenders at a very high velocity. The shape of the hood (curved down) and the increased surface area of the structure under it probably contributed to the high pressure zone too, I'm sure. I've seen that hood lift clear off the car and almost onto the windshield while it was parked - on a windy day when it's unlatched. I managed to catch it in time. I'm sure other people have driven the Legacy around without a grille before - but I suspect that the stock steel hood does not flex as much as carbon fiber. Of course, the diagram that I posted in 2003 also shows there is a low pressure zone above the hood - so we now have like a total of 4 contributions to this phenomena.
It's interesting to point that Subaru engineers were diligent enough to have designed a grille that channels the high pressure air hitting the front of the car into the radiator, instead of being tumbled around in vortexes under the hood. It's great to know that it serves a functional purpose on this car, and I'll have to continue to disagree with those who think it looks better without one - especially since it reduces hood flexing at high speeds.
Thursday, 2nd of March, 2006
Due to recent concerns on the rollover safety of the "15-passenger vans" (which I've thought has always been misleading since the count is only 15 if you squeeze 4 people in the back row which nobody ever wants to do), the people that use them have either been forced to spring for the larger "mini-busses" or bought 2 minivans and just hire more drivers. Many organizations can't even get insurance for 15-passenger vans anymore. If you think about how large the market base for the 15-passenger van was - hotels, airport/parking shuttles, schools, churches, large families - either of those solutions presents a compromise in some way, especially with the rising fuel costs of operating a mini-bus. There's even a story floating around about how a small school found that hiring a limousine to pick up their elementary students was cheaper than getting a school bus, since their routes only picked up a few students at a time.
Most of the components of this 6-door Suburban are already mass-produced - they just need to make a new stretched body frame. But all the interior appointments should be pretty straightforward. It would be cool to see this truck mass-produced and running around town - in fact the story goes that GM considered it when the Ford Excursion came out.
The 2006 Consumer Reports Top 10 Cars are out. This year we've got 5 Hondas, 2 Subarus, 2 Toyotas, and a Nissan. The Impreza WRX/STi won the "Fun to drive" category, and the Forester was the "Best SUV less than $30k" - beating out the Honda CR-V. Congrats to Subaru for impressing the Consumer Reports people - having half of your lineup on the Top 10 is definitely commendable. Honda's big lineup took honors in every single sedan category (under $20k, $20-30k, and $30-40k) as well as the minivan and truck category. That's 5 out of the 12 platforms that Honda offers - pretty good too. Toyota's wins were with hybrid cars - the Prius being the best "green car" and the Highlander as best SUV over $30k. While Toyota was busy with hybrids Inifniti nudged the Lexus LS430 off the luxury car podium with the new M35 sedan. A big ouch for the Big 3 this year.
Wednesday 1st of March, 2006
So the ETS (Educational Testing Service) continues its latest campaign to improve their non-existent ability to measure something useful about the general intelligence or knowledge of an aspiring college student, and is now going to change the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). Fortunately for everyone, the planned deployment in October 2006 has now been postponed to the fall of 2007. While the current exam is 2.5 hours and is multiple-choice, the new one will be 4 hours and features a two-part writing intensive section. Sounds like those who want to go to grad school need to sign up for the GRE before fall of 2007 - it may be worth it regardless of where you are in your undergraduate studies.