atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5683: That was a nice car

I usually wake up around noon. Today I slept, and just woke up from a dream where I owned a really, really nice older car that I'd bought for a song. It was big, silky smooth, extremely comfortable, powerful and nimble...and Russian.

I said it was a dream.

* * *

The herbicide most commonly known as Roundup is harmless to humans and animals. It only works on plants. "Scientist" covered up his research when it didn't show it to be carcinogenic. I shouldn't even scare-quote the word "scientist" there, because he's not. A scientist, researching something, takes the facts as they are, whatever they are, regardless of how he feels about them. What a scientist does not do is bury his research when it fails to produce the result he prefers or--worse, much worse!--fakes data so that it does.

So a common and very effective herbicide has been demonstrated to be safer than previously thought. Good.

* * *

There is nothing new about this ethos. This is how it was done before NASA took over. Actually, NASA did the "fail fast and often" method of developing spaceflight early on, too, because that's the most effective way to do it.

But after the Gemini program, as Apollo began, NASA started to become risk-averse; by the time the Apollo program had been canceled and the shuttle took center stage, NASA had stopped including failure as a price of progress. Everything had to work flawlessly the first time and every time.

The space shuttle was never launched unmanned; the first live flight of the thing was done with people aboard.

...and that's a damned expensive way to develop anything, spacecraft included. There could have been any number of things wrong with the shuttle that made it a deathtrap, things NASA could not know or anticipate because the system had never flown before.

Such as, oh, freezing temperatures making the solid rocket booster seals fail? That's what got Challenger, and it's something NASA never anticipated. (It's also a side effect of congressional pork-barrel spending, ladling out shuttle component construction contracts to get votes.) The effect of changing insulating foams from one that used CFCs to one that was "ozone friendly" *rolleyes* is what doomed Columbia--seemingly innocuous issues like that can lead to a catastrophic loss of the mission, and that's with a proven launch system; how much bigger is the list of unknowns when you're flying a system on which the fuses have never actually been lit? Not for a full-on flight to orbit?

Young and Crippen had to have balls made of iridium-plated brass to fly that heap. Well, in 1981 I would have eagerly jumped into the back seat, given the invitation; knowing what I know now about the thing I wouldn't be nearly so ready.

That's what endears SpaceX to me: they fly a rocket. They make changes and fly it again. They keep moving the envelope outward, and each step along the way they increase the capability of the system. What they're not doing is what NASA does: overengineer a very expensive flight system, then fly it for decades and never improve it.

* * *

The Supreme Court is unanimous that there is no "hate speech" exception to the First Amendment. John C. Wright says it best: "Only the most outrageously unconstitutional case ever gets a unanimous verdict."

You cannot limit speech based on the idea that someone might--or does!--find it offensive. Period.

* * *

I agree with Karl Denninger: Why does Hillary even still have a security clearance?

Let's face the facts: when you're a high government official, you need a security clearance, because you need to see intelligence information, stuff that's classified. But the converse is also true; when you are not a government official, you do not need that security clearance.

If you're the President, you need to see the secrets. When you leave office, you no longer need access to that information, and your clearance expires. You're a civilian again, after all.

Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State until some time in 2013, at which point she became an unemployed politician. As far as I can tell, she wasn't employed in any governmental function or position of leadership or high office after 2013; she therefore did not have any need for a security clearance, and it should have expired at the same time her career at the State Department did.

Yet she still held that clearance, and apparently even now still has it.

Denninger's got it right: "Wut?"

* * *

"Republicans have more sex than Democrats and cheat less on their spouses."

* * *

So, Illinois is boned.

The problem Illinois has is twofold: first, Illinois has spent (or promised to spend) far more money than it actually has. Second, it is flat-out refusing to accept that fact and rein in spending, instead choosing to raise taxes. The state government is split, so there is no way to accomplish that, either, but raising taxes won't fix the problem except in the short term. The problem is spending.

One of the major problems is Medicaid. Denninger segues into his usual rant about how medical providers bill for their services, and he's not wrong; Medicaid and Medicare will only pay fixed amounts, something considerably less than the standard charge for an uninsured patient (whatever you can call "standard" when doctors routinely bill different people at different rates, something that would send a mechanic or a plumber to jail) yet Illinois is way behind on their bills at the moment.

Denninger places the blame for Illinois' woes squarely on the medical system, but in fact it's not just medical care that's the problem, here. Illinois has a number of pension funds which were severely underfunded; the people in charge of them wanted to spend that money elsewhere, so they made ludicrous predictions that didn't match current reality let alone fit what actually happened ("this fund will grow at 8% per year!") and didn't fully fund their contributions. Basically, they had a party and didn't save enough. And now, suddenly, it's a crisis, because people are going to start retiring and drawing money from their pensions, and there isn't enough money in the fund to pay them. And there won't be.

Democrats are bound and determined to run the state right into the same sewer they ran Detroit into. There is no politically possible way to avoid it. Governor Rauner is putting up a good fight, but there isn't any way for him to win this, and the Democrats will take their victory to mean they can continue to tax and spend all the way.

The Illinois GOP is playing a losing game, anyway. Their budget calls for a temporary income tax increase and a 4-year freeze on property taxes. Democrats naturally want the income tax increase to be permanent, with no freezes on other taxes.

But there's no such damned thing as a temporary tax increase. Government never voluntarily reduces its income. Even the huge tax cuts that Reagan presided over led to a huge increase in government income. And when government proposes a temporary tax increase, that tax increase always becomes permanent about the time it's due to expire.

So, here's what will happen: we'll get the tax increase. There may or may not be a freeze on property tax hikes but it won't be four years long. Two, maybe, if we're lucky. Regardless of what the language of the income tax increase is, it'll be a permanent increase. The spending will continue out of control.

This may be our best option. Dissolve the state charter and let it be absorbed by neighboring states which have the good sense not to be run by Mike Madigan.

Nothing sums up the problem better than the first line of that post: "Illinois pols gave government employee unions the key to the vault and the state is now bankrupt and without a plan."

* * *

"But Isn’t That Rayciss?" The left celebrates people who are racist as long as the racism is politically correct racism.

* * *

Francis Porretto makes an interesting point here.
The most recent "government shutdown" frightened Americans so little that Barack Hussein Obama had to make it irritating: he instructed Parks Department employees to prevent access to any federal park or monument, even though the Parks Department remained open and functioning.

Clearly, the "shutdown" wasn’t frightening enough...yet the phrase "government shutdown" remains a scare-staple of the Establishment, particularly among Democrats. They want us to think that calamity of some sort will ensue should we dare to deny them what they demand. It just isn't so. In reality, the fear runs in the opposite direction: The Establishment and its minions fear that we'll discover that we don't need them and in fact would do better without them.
Emphasis his.

That is, in fact, what happened: the government "shutdown" had so little to do with the average person that government had to make it annoying for the citizens even to be aware of it. Those barricades went up so that the people would feel some modicum of pain from the government "shutdown"--because otherwise there would have been no effect on peoples' daily lives whatsoever.

The country was still defended. The social security checks and the rest of the government cheese were still being distributed. 85% of the federal bureaucracy was still running at regular speed. Lest the American public twig to the fact that at least 15% of the federal government is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY, old Barack Hussein had the national park service put up barricades around open-air memorials and statues so the press could cover how grave and serious the government shutdown was.

There was a reason some commentators referred to it as a "Potemkin Shutdown".

* * *

The War on (some) Drugs is an abject failure. Even as our government continues to clamp down on narcotics, to draconian levels, recreational drug users still get addicted to the stuff; and being unable to satisfy their addictions legally, they turn to illegal means.

There's been a big explosion in crime since the federal government began regulating the sale and use of narcotics, and that explosion of crime has occurred because of those regulations, not in spite of them.

Prohibition didn't work when it came to alcohol. Why do we think it can work when it comes to other drugs?

* * *

Today's Dilbert shows what the left is trying to do to Trump.

* * *

I still can't believe how much noise my wife's car was making. The really nice thing is that Toyota made it pretty easy to replace the alternator; two bolts hold it in (three if you remove the upper bracket) and it's right there on top and in front.

I don't really understand why her car and mine don't have automatic belt tensioners, though. Seems like a better way to do things than having to loosen a bolt and tighten a bolt and tighten the first bolt again, and the automatic tensioners ensure the belt's always at the right tension. I never had a belt squeal in any of the Escorts I ever owned, or the Thunderbird. WTF.


Over on YouTube there's a guy who's using a Suzuki GS550 engine to build a cross kart, and in his second video he knocked apart the rear end he'd built and redid it differently.

The best way to do it is to build an independent rear suspension. Problem with that is, you need axles with CV joints to do it right; you use a chain to get power from the bike engine to a sprocket mounted on the chassis, then the CV halfshafts to get that power from there to the rear wheels. You don't need a diff since it's off-road only, so that's about as complex as it needs to be.

What this guy did was to put the whole rear end on hinges and mount the motor to it. That lets him use a single live axle, which is very simple, but it also means this thing's going to have a hell of a lot of unsprung weight. You get that moving and it'll take a lot to stop it, which means anything that makes the rear end kick up will kick it up a long way. You'd almost be better off without a rear suspension at that point.

What I'd do--given that I was going to use a live axle, which is not the greatest idea--is to set up the rear end the way the motorcycle's swingarm is set up: the driven sprocket on the axle moves in a curve which keeps it equidistant from the driving sprocket. You mount the engine to the frame and it doesn't move, and you have a nice light rear end, keeping your unsprung weight to a bare minimum.

The guy demonstrates that he has the chops to do just about anything--he makes his own suspension bushings from bar stock and tube steel--so I don't know why he'd go the way he's going. Granted--you need to buy the CV axles and the rest of the hardware for that setup, so that might be what's going on here. But if you can find a wrecked quad bike in the want ads, that should supply a lot of the parts you'd need for that.

The other thing is, he uses a tubing bender from Harbor Freight, the kind which essentially presses a bend into the pipe. Og gave me his tubing bender, this huge heavy piece of cast iron that lets you manually crank a bend into tubing, but you need a lot of leverage for that. The bends the guy makes in his video look fine to me. And he does some nice work.

What the heck, here's the second video in the series so you can see what I mean:

* * *

I can't believe how late I slept today. Holy crap.

Looked at eBay last night and found a new stator for under $40. I'm going to count the number of nodes on mine and if it matches (should be 18) I'm ordering it. Tired of not being able to ride my damned motorcycle.

...and once it's fixed, two things will happen: the average temperature will rise to 97° and I'll find a job, completely removing all time and motivation for riding my motorcycle. It was ever thus.

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