July 28th, 2010

#2191: I ain't got no brains

...so after writing yesterday's post and finishing by saying I was going to watch some anime, I didn't end up watching any anime. Instead I went to bed.

* * *

It really must suck to be John Kerry because he's been under so much media pressure about the taxes on his ultra-luxury yacht he's going to pay them.

Why doesn't the national Republican party leadership have this much of a spine?
"Senator Kerry will only pay the taxes because he got caught," party Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said in a statement. "He should spend more time creating jobs rather than customizing his yacht. Democrats think they live by another set of rules, and the voters of the commonwealth will soon remind them they do not."
It really isn't that hard to accomplish. The press will gladly take your statements and do its best to make you look bad, but the people of the United States are smart enough to know that the press is leftist and always slants its coverage in favor of Democrats. They'll figure out who's the skunk despite the best efforts of the mainstream media--and I think this episode proves that.

* * *

Put this lunatic in a psych ward. She's a "witch" who is "not subject to earthly laws".

Riiiiiiight.

* * *

When you're the government, pesky things like "profit" and "value for the money" don't apply. Government Motors is planning to sell the Chevy Volt for $41,000, which is ludicrous. Even with the $7,500 tax credit you get for buying one.

The thing is, at least, a true hybrid; it has a gas engine to provide power. It can only go 40 miles on a single charge, so the gasoline engine is necessary to make the thing useful at all. The gas engine will power the car long enough to go about 300 miles.

On this, however, I call "BULLSHIT": "GM said it would cost about $1.50 worth of electricity to fully recharge the Volt each night."

$1.50 worth of electricity is 15 kilowatt-hours if you're paying $0.10 per kwh. There is no way in fucking hell that car can go 40 miles on 15 kwh of electricity in anything even approaching real-world conditions. And even granting that as a possibility, the laws of thermodynamics demand that you can't get all 15 kwh back out of those batteries: some power will be lost in conversion, because charging a battery converts electricity into chemical energy, and using the battery to power a device then converts chemical energy into electricity. There are always conversion losses.

Yet we're supposed to believe that $1.50 worth of electricity can move a car as far as $3 worth of gasoline? I don't buy it.

* * *

Did you know that a Democrat introduced a bill to reinstitute the draft? This is the first I've heard of it.

I remember Rangel introducing a draft bill during the Bush administration so the Democrats could lie about Republicans wanting to bring back the draft, but this is the first I've heard of Democrats wanting to bring back the draft for real.

* * *

In the "this is not news" department, SEIU supports illegal immigration.

* * *

GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME I don't care if it's "experimental". They're finding ways to regenerate teeth! Yahoo!

* * *

So I fell asleep last night and didn't do anything, and yet after waking up this morning and getting the animals fed I'm still wanting nothing more than to return to bed and sleep some more.

It's been like this for days and Mom thinks it's nervous tension; what on Earth do I have to be tense about? :P

I haven't even logged on to WoW since Saturday.

I've been feeling consistently hypoglycemic, and only this morning I thought, "When did I last have a non-diet drink?" I drank nothing but diet soft drinks yesterday, but for the two milkshakes I got from McDonald's...which are more like very soft ice cream than drinks, anyway.

That amounts to going cold turkey from sugar water, and past experience has shown that my metabolism won't stand for that. No wonder I feel wobbly.

Today's program will be, I believe, about the same as yesterday's. I'm going to call Mom and see what she wants, and then do what needs doing, and then collect myself and head over to the hospital.

*sigh*

* * *

I don't know what to think of Zettai Karen Children yet. I downloaded it because I had read good things about it; the first episode was not very appealing to me.

...I don't even remember what day it was that I saw it. Never mind; I'm going back to bed.

#2192: My own "garage of horror" story

Inspired by this Jalopnik post and its comments.

Oddly enough, it was a Volkswagen, too, upon which I was working.

The 1974 412 was a fun car. It was made of pure butt uglium, but it was an air-cooled VW and it was fun. I got it for nothing: a friend dickered the used car salesman down to $360 (from $450) for me and I bought the car in February; July came and the lot had never cashed the check. The check was invalid after six months, so I got the car for free.

It needed everything, anyway--the rear tires were mismatched, the engine vacuum plumbing was FUBAR, there was a huge hole in the driver's side floor.

If I plugged this one hose in, the car got excellent fuel economy, but had no power. If I left the hose off, the car sucked gas, but had plenty of power. It remained thus until springtime.

Come spring I got out my Haynes manual and tore out all the vacuum piping and then reinstalled it according to the diagram in the manual. I also replaced spark plugs, wires, cap, and rotor. The car then ran well, had plenty of power, and consistently got 27 MPG.

The car used 165R15 tires, which (at the time) could be had for $25 each. I used my income tax refund to replace the mismatched rear tires.

Little by little I improved its drivability and utility--for mere pennies, as most of what it needed was labor--until one day I got around to replacing the fuel filter.

The car was fuel injected. It had an analog computer to determine injector timing, and a pair of points in the distributor was dedicating to bank-firing the injectors. The fuel system ran at about 30-40 PSI. The most interesting bit was how the fuel system worked: low-pressure tubing ran from the fuel tank to the fuel pump, which pressurized the fuel line running to the engine at 30 PSI or whatever; the return line (running at a very low pressure) then returned excess fuel to the tank. The important part was that fuel pump was outside the fuel tank, and the fuel filter was plumbed between tank and pump.

When I went to replace the filter, gasoline spilled from the line until I elevated the end above the fuel tank. I had to get a gas can and let the fuel drain into that while I changed the filter.

But the rubber fuel hose between tank and filter was 15 years old, and brittle; and when I tried to put the fuel line onto the new filter, it broke, and gasoline spilled all over the driveway. I was laying in a puddle of gas.

Finally getting the end back into the gas can I let it drain all the way. My skin was sore--chemical burns from laying in gasoline--and I was fuming as I went back to take the fragment of fuel line off the filter.

I cracked my forehead against the corner of the gas can, hard enough to see stars. "WHAT ELSE IS GOING TO HAPPEN?" I hollered.

...I ended up going to the auto parts store (twenty minutes each way) to get new fuel line so I could re-plumb the entire operation there, because I wasn't about to risk having another old, brittle hose break like that.

The high pressure lines from the pump back were steel, and intact; it was only the low-pressure plumbing between the tank, filter, pump, and return lines that needed to be replaced. I replaced all of it.

A couple months later, one of my fuel injectors started leaking. It was not a big leak, but it was not something one could afford to ignore, either--not when you've got fuel spilling onto the cylinder head of an air-cooled car, mere inches from the spark plug. No.

Price for new fuel injector: $90.

The fuel injector was attached to the fuel rail via a short length of mesh-covered hose, which was permanently crimped to the injector with a brass collar. A radiator clamp held the end of the hose to the fuel rail; and since it was just the hose part that was leaking, I reasoned, perhaps I could get some high-pressure fuel hose and use that to replace the leaking hose.

High-pressure fuel line: $10 per foot. You couldn't buy it by the foot; you had to buy a package of 4-6 feet at that price, when I needed about two inches of the stuff. It would have cost me $40-ish to buy the package.

...and then I looked at the hose itself and its pressure rating. The high-pressure stuff was good to about 80 PSI; the "low pressure" hose was rated at 40 PSI. And I just happened to remember that the VW's fuel system wasn't pressurized to more than 40 PSI; so I decided to give it a try.

I cut myself trying to get the ferrule off the fuel injector, but it did come off, and I snipped off a 2" segment from the $10 worth of fuel line I'd bought. Two $0.40 radiator clamps later, I had the fuel injector back in its place. I gingerly turned on the car's ignition and stared at the fuel rail.

Nothing.

Started the car; it ran fine, and there was never another fuel leak while I owned it.

So I guess this isn't such a horrible story after all, but WTF, it's not like you paid anything for it.

#2193: Okay, so where's all the damn oil?

Sailor V went so far as to call me to tell me about this story.

Look: all over the planet, oil seeps from underground and into the oceans. Lots of it. Like, the entire BP oil spill, all hundred days of it, every day. But it's everywhere, not just in one spot.

The theory of evolution teaches us that whenever there is a food or energy source available that is not being competed for, some form of life will adapt to exploit that source. That's why we find "extremophile" bacteria near deep ocean vents and in the boiling, acidic waters of thermal springs like those at Yellowstone. Oil seeping from the bottom of the ocean is an energy source; we wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't. It's a nice dense source of energy; and there are bacteria which like nothing better than tearing into hydrocarbon molecule chains.

So what happens? There's a bloom of oil-eating bacteria for a while in the Gulf of Mexico; and as the food source depletes, the bacteria die off. The bacteria themselves convert petroleum into other things (amino acids, protiens, etc) and other lifeforms eat the bacteria. This is called the food chain and every organism on the planet has a place in it.

We've seen this startlingly fast bioremediation take place before, every time there's been an oil spill. Most noteworthy is Prince William Sound (Exxon Valdez) which--we were told--would be an ecological disaster for decades...and which, instead, was spic-and-span in a matter of a couple of years.

Crude oil is not some horrible, poisonous substance which only comes to the surface when Man starts screwing around with the planet. It's a natural byproduct of a natural process; it naturally enters the biosphere in limited quantities entirely without Man's help, and there are organisms which take advantage of it.

"It is still far too early to know how much damage the spill has done — and may still be doing — to the environment. Tar balls continue to wash up on beaches." You can pick up a tar ball and put it in a plastic bag.

End result: next year it'll be as if the spill had never happened. Same as with Prince William Sound.