October 10th, 2011

#2992: New desktop image

Dubbing eps 1-4 of Asobi ni Iku Yo! to DVD, I came across the following image, which was perfect for a desktop wallpaper:



Tell me it's not.

(Obviously the image I use is 1680 pixels wide.)

Damn but the lack of censorship makes the fan service worthwhile!

From left to right:

Doctor Durel (ship's doctor)
Eris (scout, the story's female lead)
Captain Kuune (captain of contact ship; made of hot)
Melwin (first officer)
Chaika (I think she's the engineering or science officer; not sure)

Why are they in school swimsuits? Why, because they're at a diplomatic negotiation, of course. Sheeze, don't you know anything?

#2993: I don't much like FedEx, though, and this is why.

You see, when FedEx delivers something they have to get a signature. They can't just leave the package by the front door the way UPS can for most things.

Which is why the motherboard isn't sitting on my desk right now. I heard the truck driving away; I did not hear the guy knock.

I mean, come on: there is a sign on the window next to the door that says "BELL OUT OF ORDER: PLEASE KNOCK". It's quiet in the house. If I could hear the truck, why couldn't I hear the knock?

It doesn't much matter; they'll try again tomorrow and the case isn't scheduled to get here before Thursday. It just annoys me.

My problem is I regard UPS as the default delivery service. FedEx, to me, is the "expensive" option and when I get free shipping on something, to me that means it's going to be UPS, so I don't even consider the possibility that someone might be shipping via FedEx.

I guess what I am going to have to do is to make a habit of always saying in "delivery instructions" something approximating "OK TO LEAVE AT DOOR".

* * *

This story bothers me a bit, and I'm not sure why. It's this paragraph:
States that have elected two Republican senators tend to have much lower levels of economic inequality than states which have elected two Democratic senators. Democrat-dominated states tend to have higher percentages of very rich people, higher percentages of very poor people, and a lower percentage of middle-income people.
Why is the latter case true? Why are the Democrat-controlled states places where there are such wide income disparities?

But then I gave it some thought, and I realized a few things.

1) Democrat-run states have the largest cities in them. (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc.) Cities are where the richest and poorest people concentrate themselves.

2) Large numbers of the poor vote Democrat, because it's Democrats who give them more bread and circuses.

3) The very, very rich (ie guys like Warren Buffett) can insulate themselves from the effects of a Democrat-dominated government by donating money to candidates and by sheltering their incomes from taxes in various ways.

4) Democrat-dominated states tend to squeeze out the middle class in favor of the very rich and the poor.

So I guess it's not all that surprising after all; it just takes a bit of thought to understand.

* * *

Remember that Barack Hussein Obama mm-mm-mm wants to "bankrupt" coal power.

It's no skin off his nose if you freeze in the dark. He'll be nice and warm.

* * *

I was wondering what the hell good putting bar codes on bullets would do, since a bullet generally does not hold up well after striking a target. Well, this makes an iota more sense: they'll put the bar code on the cartridge casing, not the bullet.

This makes it easy to identify who bought the ammo used in a murder if:

1) The murderer didn't use a revolver (or did but didn't reload it) and
2) The murderer didn't pick up his spent brass and
3) The murderer didn't think to take a nail file or sandpaper to the microcode on the casing before inserting it into his gun.

People who come up with these anti-gun measures would do well to learn the correct terminology if they really want to make the point. Although it is common to refer to a single unit of ammunition as a "bullet", the correct term is "cartridge", because the cartridge consists of several parts--only one of which is the actual bullet.

My confusion over this comes from the fact that when a criminal shoots someone, the only part of the cartridge he cannot easily retrieve is the actual bullet itself--that is to say, the projectile, which (if he has done his job properly) is lodged somewhere in his victim. If the murderer uses a revolver and fires one shot to kill his victim, the empty cartridge casing remains in the gun's cylinder, and is unavailable for recovery at the crime scene.

...unless the murderer is a complete idiot, of course. Empty the revolver into your victim, and then contemptuously empty the spent casings onto your victim's body, just like in the movies! You're a badass! ...who has just made it very, very easy for the police to find you even in the absence of microstamped cartridges. Unless, you know, you wiped each cartridge of fingerprints as you loaded your gun....

There are already several ways to tie cartridges and bullets to the guns that fired them. Pistols generally have rifled barrels, and rifling is unique for each gun; that's why we have ballistics labs. But of course bullets fragment and deform when they strike their target.

Guns have firing pins and the wear pattern for each pin ought to be unique; so if you recover spent brass and a weapon from a crime scene it ought to be relatively simple to compare the spent brass to the firing pin and see what comes out. This is probably not very reliable.

None of this requires any new law.

And what does a law requiring microstamping of cartridges do for the guys who like to reload their own ammo?

* * *

Speaking of gun control efforts, Michelle Malkin reprints Issa's reproof of Holder's bloviation.

* * *

If you're a fan of Ernesto "Che" Guevara you probably won't read this article.

In the words of José Vilasuso, who was part of the Cuban revolutionary murder machine, "Executions took place from Monday to Friday, in the middle of the night, just after the sentence was given and automatically confirmed by the appellate body."

...this is what Marxists refer to as "justice".

* * *

DOOM!

* * *

I have precious little else to discuss today. The linkaround is sparse because it's Monday and not much has changed since Friday.

The Dow has apparently undergone another one of its "melt ups", which I will now and forever refer to as "X transformation" due to my little discourse on it last week.

I don't see anything in the news feeds that could result in such a precipitous rise--nearly three hundred points, most of it in the first half-hour of trading--so it's got to be an X transform and not anything rational.

General trends have been upward over the past week, but there have been a lot of sudden and large up and down shifts.

The big problem is, Greece is still Greece. The Euro solution to their debt crisis is "more debt!" which is not going to fix a damn thing.

The thing I hate about this--other than the fact that we're looking at world-wide economic depression--is that the suspense is killing me. It's like an overwrought scene in an action movie where you know the protagonist is about to fall off a cliff, but he's fighting tooth and nail to hang on, and the director is lovingly focusing on each little pebble and bit of dirt that falls from under his fingernails as he claws to hang on to the precipice, and the action simply goes on far too long, so you're squirming in your seat and looking around the theater instead of watching the movie, because the suspense has become numbing. (Especially when you know that the protagonist is going to survive his fall and come out uninjured, because it's an f-ing movie.)

This is like that. A crash is going to be bad, yes, but the funny thing about economic depressions is that they have happened many times before and the world did not end.

A depression will not be fun, no. It's going to mean hardship for a lot of people. It's particularly going to mean hardship for a lot of folks in the elite and ruling class, people who are not accustomed to hardship and therefore are clinging to that rain-slick bit of stone with everything they've got. They have everything to lose--their wealth and power and comfortable lives--and so they don't care if the little people have to take a pounding in the economic chaos generated by their efforts to hang on. The elites know that if they can't stave off a depression, they are going to lose their comfortable offices inside the beltway and the people will stop listening to what they say. The elites might have to move away from the coasts and take jobs that require actual work--and out in the hinterlands!--if that happens!

But a depression is also inevitable at this point; we've spent too much money we don't have and the piper must be paid. And it's not just us; it's everyone in the developed world. There's no way to grow out of the debt, not now; we could have done it 20 years ago but that was on a different part of the asymptotic debt curve, the more level part; we're on the vertical part of the curve and it's too late.

Too much waste, too much fraud, too much abuse--the system is groaning under the weight of vaporous currency and a correction is long overdue, and it'll be worse the longer we stave it off.

* * *

Well, looks like it's "pre-winter" after Tuesday this week. It's going to start raining again, and then it'll get cold, and though we might not have freezing temperatures before November it won't be very warm much longer.

So we're looking at waiting until May for the return of nice weather. Such is life in a temperate zone.

My motorcycle insurance is year-round, though, so if I can find winter riding gear for not a lot of money I can ride the thing whenever it's not actually snowing, if I want to.

#2994: THERE ARE NO SWEAR WORDS BAD ENOUGH

So everything was coming together and it was finally going to be the day that the Escort left the driveway!

I went out there to clean it out, and to make sure everything was in readiness for its new life. I decided to move it a bit to make sure the rear brakes were free. I only moved it about ten feet.

When I stepped on the brake, it worked and the car stopped...and then suddenly the pedal went to the floor.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU--

I moved it back to where it had been sitting, using the parking brake to stop the car instead of stepping on the pedal again. I shut the engine off, got out and instinctively looked at the rear end first, and found--as expected--a puddle of brake fluid forming under the driver's side rear rocker panel.

Now, I've had to replace brake lines before. It happens. Like when my brother last drove my Dad's van and blew a brake line because the damn thing had been doing more sitting than moving for the past year. I have all the tools on hand already and it doesn't really take much know-how to do it. I don't particularly enjoy it, but it's doable and usually it's just time-consuming.

I got the Escort up on jack stands and pinpointed the leak. Turns out the car has two brake lines running to the rear wheels; that makes sense for a car that's got a variant with ABS and rear disk brakes. (And quite possibly traction control, as well--if not in the US then at least the Mazda version does somewhere, I'd bet.) The two lines go to a fitting bolted to the rear crossmember, and from there they go to the wheels.

Once I had identified which brake line was blown, it was a simple matter to go get parts and splice the hard line. I had to go to two parts stores to get everything I needed, but I managed it.

...turned out I had not gotten everything I needed; I was short by one male fitting, so I had to go back and buy more.

I axed the part of the line going to the middle of the crossmember and spliced directly from the hard line coming from the front to a stub of the brake line that goes to the flex line to the wheel. It would have taken about three times as long to do the repair if I replaced the line to the block, and it wouldn't work any better than it will this way...and it's a $600 car. I'm not taking out the f-ing fuel tank to replace an unnecessary brake line. (If Sailor V wants to retrofit ABS--no, even then this way would still work, I'm pretty sure.)

So finally--the sun having set and working by the light of a cage lamp--I got the system buttoned up and started to bleed it. I really need another person on hand for this, as my vacuum pump has never worked very well for bleeding brakes, but I managed to get a significant amount of air out of the rear circuit and gave the brakes a pressure test by pumping them and pushing them all the way to the floor. They are holding pressure, though there's still a lot of air in the system and I need to completely bleed it, but unlike before I can feel plenty of resistance.

And I heard this tiny little sound...

hisssssss

...and there was more brake fluid dripping onto the driveway. Not nearly as much as before; but a look under the car told me that the other rear brake line had developed a pinhole leak in about the same place as the first one did.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU--

Called Sailor V and told him it wasn't going to happen today, not at all, and resolved to give up for the night.

Tomorrow morning I get to go buy more brake line and more fittings, and patch the other rear brake line. Maybe then I can finally get this thing the hell out of my driveway.

* * *

The funny thing is, the van had ABS and it had a single brake line for the rear brakes. I traced these two brake lines several times, and each time I came to the same conclusion, so it's not like I glanced at it and made an assumption.

Perhaps for large trucks with live rear axles a three-channel ABS system (two front and one rear) works fine. I've never dealt with ABS on a front-drive vehicle with all-independent suspension, so I wouldn't know, but it makes sense to me that a vehicle like the Escort would have a four-channel ABS system.

...so Sailor V wanted me to check the fuel lines and such. The fuel lines are all plastic and rubber, because they only need to handle about 40-odd PSI. (Unlike the brake lines, which have to handle about 2,000 PSI or so.) Generally speaking, any plastic that can stand up to gasoline can stand up to whatever gunk is in the atmosphere.

Besides, brake fluid is hydrophilic and the brake lines are mild steel; they aren't even galvanized or painted, so they rust. What else can you do?

* * *

Exhausted, filthy, and dejected, I put everything away and dragged myself into the house. I took a shower, then ordered General Tao's chicken from the chinese place. F it; I didn't want to cook and the meal I ordered will feed me three times for only a couple dollars more than a bacon mofo would cost.

What a pain in the ass.