August 11th, 2007

#485: Buncha Stuff

Today's Day by Day strip makes an interesting point, and it's one that I mentioned before. (Also here. But I can't find the one about NASA "normalizing" the data, which was what I really wanted to link to.)

NASA's climate data, if the strip is correct--and Muir bases his strips on real events--has been discredited. The data is produced by someone who is apparently a Democrat activist first and a scientist second.

Those of us who have doubts about the magnitude of the effect that man-made CO2 has on the global environment already understood that NASA's data was not necessarily gospel. During the 1990s (and the Clinton years in particular) NASA added "environment" to its bailiwick; and no one is getting any grant money for saying, "hey, there's nothing we can do to affect the global climate."

With the data from the ground stations coming increasingly under fire, and with the ice core data supporting the theory that CO2 trails climate, rather than leads it, the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) movement (which I like to characterize as "global warming=man made=apocalypse") is running out of "safe havens" for its "concensus". After Mann's "hockey stick" was discredited, and after reports of climate scientists saying "we have to get rid of the Medieval Climate Optimum", it's looking less and less like AGW is anything other than a religion.

If the science was truly "settled", people who support AGW wouldn't need to denounce folks like me as "traitors" and "flat-earthers" who "have their heads in the sand". They'd be able to point to actual, incontrovertible evidence which supported their theories. (Also there would be no need to "get rid of the Medieval Climate Optimum", by the way.)

* * *

The "Powerblock" on Spike TV continues to be rather bland. Today's Horsepower TV (HPTV) was a re-run, and it was the same-old-same-old: take a 1970s GTO, put an air-bag suspension in it, and upgrade to four-wheel disk brakes. *yawn*

My best guess is that they throw about $8,000 worth of parts into the car, more or less, including new wheels and tires, and they're all "bolt on" parts. The biggest real modification to the car is when they clearance the upper control arms for the air bags in front. Otherwise? Pfft. Unbolt old part, bolt on new part. Repeat.

Any swinging dick can do that crap. (I would have added a female equivalent for this, but I can't think of one.)

Meanwhile, on Extreme 4x4 (E4) they're putting Toyota axles on a Suzuki Samurai and building a new custom four-link suspension for the thing. On Muscle Car (MC) they're rebuilding a 1960s Pontiac Lemans, when they're not building a freaking race car from a '66 Mustang or building a hot freakin' Dodge Challenger. They straighten frames and do a lot of serious metalwork on that show.

And on Trucks! (T!), which is second only to HPTV in lameness, today they are installing suicide doors in a Nissan truck. They're trying, at least.

But HPTV? The last several projects they've done have been 90-99% "bolt 'em up" projects. The only one that isn't is their "Rat Rod" project...and at that, it's still about 80% "bolt-'em-up". They bought a new frame and had it powdercoated to look rusty. Freakin' posers. I have to give them credit; they did actually channel their vintage (1932?) Ford body themselves. But that's not exactly rocket science, since by definition the channel metalwork is hidden. And again, 99.997% of that "Rat Rod" is "throw money at it, insert tab 'a' into slot 'b', and presto!" Anyone can make a fast rat rod if they have $20,000 of someone else's money to spend buying the components.

I realize that it's a TV show, and TV shows are not going to be about Joe Blow building his '69 Camaro in his garage. "There's no show this week; my kid broke a leg and I had to pay the doctor bills. Later." But at least the host of MC, Lou Santiago, does things himself. They don't have the facilities to powder-coat frames, but he cleaned and straightened the thing himself. Every bit of metalwork his project cars need is done in-house; he does a lot of it himself. (Of course the "powerblock" studio has behind-the-scenes technicians who do a lot of the actual "grunt work", too.) The hosts of E4, Ian and Jesse, do a lot of their own work. Those two shows alone show a lot of actual fabrication and mechanical work you don't see on HPTV or T!. In fact, E4 shows things like rebuilding transmissions, regearing tranfer cases, and performing axle and differential work--really nitty-gritty stuff. The guys on HPTV hardly ever get their hands dirty.

Bleah.

* * *

I've been pondering the notion of taking a welding class at the nearby community college. I think that'd be pretty cool. It might get me off my ass with regards to actually using my welder, too. Wouldn't that be a shocker. (So to speak. Heh.)

Harbor Freight has a really sweet arc/MIG welder for $1000 which can weld all day at 100 amps, and can go up to 250 amps in short bursts. You could weld a bridge with something like that. Of course, it requires a 240-volt outlet, so I'd either have to unplug the dryer and do my welding in the basement (out of the question) or get the garage wired for 240....

* * *

I do want to get a 240-volt line in the garage. I intend to build myself a powdercoating oven (see also) and that'll take 240V. Besides, sooner or later I expect to upgrade to a slightly more powerful compressor, which will also want 240. Man! No 240V line in the garage? What were the builders of this house thinking?

* * *

Every once in a while I think about how much fun personal watercraft (PWC) are.

In 1993, a friend of mine got a Polaris SL-750, and it was a blast. It had a top speed of about 50 MPH and it was pretty stable. And they're much less expensive than boats are.

I could have a great deal of fun just cruising around on the nearby Cedar Lake; but there are other lakes within shouting distance and there's always the Illinois River. And while I am positive my Fiero could pull one on a trailer, I'm positive that a Jeep Cherokee could. (Heh.) It's a lot easier to hook up and go with one; with a full-sized boat, it's an all-day project, but with a PWC, you can just say, on the spur of the moment, "Hey, it's nice out and I have a free afternoon. I think I'll go to the lake!" It's easier, faster, and costs a hell of a lot less in just about every respect.

I'm not going to do anything about this impulse this year, and I probably won't do anything about it next year, either. But I'm tired of not having anything to do on hot summer weekends, and I sure do enjoy a day on the water. And I ought to be able to get a decent used PWC for not a huge amount of money. You can expect to pay on the order of $7-$10k for a new one; but a used one ought to be less.

* * *

My brother's 13-year-old daughter, in sandals--in thin sandals--is as tall as I am in bare feet. Yeesh. If she doesn't stop growing she's going to be a freaking amazon. (She's already taller than Risa-chan in Lovely Complex. And Risa-chan is five years older than my niece.)

* * *

Finally, I called off work last night, and slept all night; and this morning I feel a lot better than I did last night. My throat even feels better.

I think I made the right call.