August 24th, 2012

#3545: Is it Friday already?

Seems as if it was Tuesday just a few minutes ago.

*sigh*

...last night I decided on Pizza Hut for dinner, and spent that $10 from recycling on a large stuffed-crust super supreme with jalapenos added. It came to $12.96--so dinner last night technically cost me $2.96--and when the guy at the place gave me my $0.04 change, I said, "Yeah, I better not spend this all in one place." He got a chuckle out of it, which surprised me.

Any-dang-way, after that I did a little WoW and watched the first five episodes of Lovely Complex. Been reading the manga, and I realized it's been a good long time since I watched the anime--and it's hilarious, so WTF.

And after that, Ormus (lvl 80 Ormus on Wyrmrest Accord) went and did heroic LK dungeons with guildies. I'm not sure how many I did with them, but it kept me up until 5 AM having a grand time.

But one of the instances we did was my least-favorite LK instance, The Oculus--because fighting the boss at the end is a royal pain in the ass--but for my troubles I ended up getting a rare drop from it: the blue drake, which is a rare mount. Everyone expressed the proper and polite amount of (mock) jealousy and hatred over my fortune before congratulating me.

But we had a great time. This makes the second night in a row that I had a hell of a lot of fun running Ormus--Wednesday night he got into a raid on Icecrown Citadel which sadly fell apart before we got to the Lich King himself. But there's another one this coming Wednesday (not heroic) so maybe I can see how it goes, anyway.

* * *

Ah, this is so very, very amusing.

Romney cracks a lame joke about birth certificates. "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate; they know that this is the place where [he and his wife] was born and raised!"

As Michelle Malkin points out, when it's the President and the press, it's a laugh riot, but when it's the presumptive Republican nominee for the election, well:

(P)MSNBC: it's "...the basest and the most despicable bigotry we might be able to imagine."

Remember kids: if you don't have permission from Dear Leader to laugh at the joke, it's not funny and it might be grounds for denunciation.

* * *

Might as well get this one out of the way:

Some shithead cut loose with a handgun at the Empire State building.

WEER'D reminds us this crime is impossible because New York City has extremely restrictive gun laws. Like the moron in DC last week, this crime can't have happened as reported because citizens aren't allowed to carry guns there; it's against the law!

Fox News on the story.

Reportedly, the NYPD--in the process of shooting the shithead--also shot some innocent bystanders.

Now: let's say that you're sitting at home and someone breaks in to rob you, only you pull out your gun and shoot him. And in the process, you're not as careful with your fire as you should be and one bullet travels outside your house and hits your neighbor's house. Not even your neighbor--just his house.

What do you think would happen to you?

...but because they're police none of them is going to get in trouble for wounding innocent bystanders in the process of stopping a murderous maniac. Even though NYC has an "only ones" policy, meaning that police (and certain well-connected Democrats and their friends) are legally permitted to carry firearms, on the theory that the police are specially trained to handle firearms and therefore competent to have them, but you stupid proles are not.

I don't call it "competent" when you're shooting people who just happen to be in the way, and if I'd been hit by a cop's stray bullet I would sue, sue, SUE.

There is a problem with that, though. That thing on the cruiser doors about "to serve and protect" don't really mean anything. Police are not legally required to do a damned thing to protect you. In this kind of situation, they're not obligated to take action to save anyone's life or property; their job is to apprehend the perpetrators of crime. Full stop. That's all they're required to do.

Police won't just sit back and wait for the bad guy to run out of ammunition, but they could...if their bosses would back them up on it and take the political heat from the electorate. It really comes down to public expectation--if they did just sit back and let the murderer shoot people until he ran out of ammo, the public outcry would be great enough that the chief of police would lose his job and-and-and.... There are practical and political considerations like this that force the police into a protective role, but when you dig down into the legal theory you discover that the police don't have to stop shit. All they have to do is arrest the guy breaking the law--and if some innocent person gets shot in the process, even if it's by a bullet fired from a cop's gun, the law says that shooting is the perpetrator's fault.

Not the cop's.

Even if the cop is an idiot who shouldn't be trusted with pointy scissors, let alone a gun.

* * *

Exelon is the parent company of Commonwealth Edison, which provides electricity for northern Illinois (and probably more than that).

...so it's not terribly surprising that Obama has connections to Exelon:
Everyone, put on your shocked faces!

“With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House,” the Times intoned, “a review of Exelon’s relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon.”

You mean Hope and Change was all smoke and mirrors? Well, knock me over with a feather and call me Grandpa Daley!

White House press flack Jay Carney played dumb when asked about the report, which detailed “an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors.”
OMGWTFBBQ I am so, so surprised.

Major energy company has "insider" status with corrupt administration and gets regulations bent to suit them--woooow, who could ever have seen that coming?

*rolleyes*

* * *

Government Motors is still sucking canal water.

Incidentally:
Readers with long memories may recall that Charles E. Wilson, president of General Motors and nominee for secretary of defense, got into trouble when he told a Senate committee, "What is good for the country is good for General Motors, and what's good for General Motors is good for the country."

That was in 1953, and Wilson was trying to make the point that General Motors was such a big company -- it sold about half the cars in the U.S. back then -- that its interests were inevitably aligned with those of the country as a whole.
It's just like Joe Biden said the other day! The United States was the leader of the world in making automobiles in the 20th century.

Obama is claiming that GM is "number one again", but it's not--not in sales, not in stock performance, nowhere. The only place it's "number one again" is in paying union babies huge wages and giving them gold-plated retirement packages...while stiffing anyone that wasn't in the union:
[Steven] Rattner himself admitted late last year, in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club: "We should have asked the UAW (the United Auto Workers union) to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay." Non-union employees of GM spinoff Delphi lost their pensions. UAW members didn't.

The UAW got their political payoff. And GM, according to Forbes writer Louis Woodhill, is headed to bankruptcy again.
GM was in the soup because of UAW legacy costs--every car "old GM" made included $4,500 in UAW legacy costs in the price--and that was where the majority of their cost-control measures needed to be taken. They'd already cut non-union workforce to the bone, to the point of losing some of their best and brightest white-collar workers; union workers were (and are still!) GM's largest expense.

The problem comes from the fact that while you need a lot of people to build the cars, you also need people to design them...and it takes a pretty special kind of person to be good at that. Any shithead off the street can bolt on a bumper or hook up a headlight, but it takes a good amount of education and experience to design those assemblies for a modern car. They're not brought down from on high by an archangel, and designing a bumper that looks good, has the right amount of impact resistance, doesn't cost a fortune to make, can be easily replaced, and doesn't weigh more than a few pounds--that takes talent and skill.

And the problem with cutting your engineering staff to the bone is that you lose people with that kind of talent and skill. Or you lose people who will develop that talent and skill (or who were in the process of doing so) who will replace the experienced engineers as they retire.

Hence? The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. Never mind the fact that GM is trying to do too many things with the model; they've taken a good design and made it worse rather than better.

To say nothing of the Volt, which has been an unmitigated disaster for Chevrolet and GM. The article says they sold "about 10,000 per year" but in fact it's been less than that; and GM was originally planning to build 60,000 of them for the 2012 model year. Then they cut that figure to 45,000, after which they finally got hep to reality and cut production to match demand.

Besides: $42,000 for a f-ing econobox. This is the future of automobiles?

GM is a classic example of why and how government just fucks everything up. It cannot be otherwise. Obama would have been a lot better off just letting GM go through a regular bankruptcy, instead of getting his dickskinners all over it.

* * *

Ironically, transportatin is the one spot of good news in the July durables report. But "transportation" includes everything--trucks, trains, planes, automobiles, anything with motors and wheels or wings. And it's "stuff with motors and wings" that drove July's numbers.

How many airplanes do you own? How about your family and friends? Do you know anyone who owns an airplane? When did he buy it? Did he buy it new, or used? (Or build it himself?)

Do you understand what I'm getting at with those questions? To be sure, you sell more aircraft in boom periods than in bust ones--but large aircraft sell all the time because they're an economic necessity.

$5.4 billion worth of large aircraft ain't that many big planes, either. A coule dozen at $200 million a pop. It's enough to keep some people working in some factories for a while, but it's not enough to save the economy from the septic tank, and we're still heading there at mach nine.

* * *

Obama is asking Europe not to let Greece leave the Eurozone before November because when Greece drops out, that's it for the world economy--and everyone knows it.

Denninger says:
I would normally be stunned at the idioicy of such a request by the Obama administration but I am far beyond believing that the current administration has any sort of ability to appreciate the second-order effects of what it does -- and as such, I suspect this conversation really did take place, and that Obama really is this dumb.
I don't know how dumb Obama is, but I do know he thinks he's the bestest with the mostest ever. That kind of hubris leads smart people to do STUPID things.

Like hand someone enough rope to hang you with. Obama's not a stupid man--though, how can you tell when he does such egregiously stupid things?

Hubris.

...he's not stupid, but clearly he believes that Greece and the Europeans are going to go along with him because he's Slammin' Barry-O, don't you know? He the shiznit an' all that! President o' the YOO-nited States and don't you forget it! He can't take a bath because he walks on water, and when he cuts one it's all flowers and perfume!

So of course Greece will hear him make this request, and say, "Why, if it's for YOU, Barry, I'll do anything! I'll give you my underwear and ditch my husband and wait in your bed for you!"

*glurk*

...and as Denninger points out, he's just given Greece a new lever to use in extracting more bailouts from...well, everyone.

* * *

So, today the stock market rallied by 100 points or so. Karl Denninger points out that it's just a reflex from Teh Bernank's latest extrusion of nonsense, emphasis removed:
Given our utter refusal to enforce anything approaching "the law" when it comes to big banks, however, my assumption is that I'm being traded against by people with inside information who will never be prosecuted for doing so.

This sort of casino mentality is nothing new. What's ugly, however, is that this is all the market is trading on nowdays.

There's been no material improvement in employment.

There is no grand new paradigm shift in the economy taking place that grossly boosts productivity.

There is no innovative new product or service that will drive broad-based gains in people's standard of living.

There has been no material drawdown in total systemic debt, and federal deficits haven't come in materially at all.

There are only two ways for equity (and other asset) prices to advance -- either the common weal advances materially or there is more debt-based leverage added to the system.

One is good, the other disastrous as while the former is sustainable the latter never is.

And unfortunately the latter is all there is.
Whatever chimerical recovery the economy may have done in the past three years, all of it has come from smoke-and-mirrors tricks. It's not real prosperity; it's government borrowing huge amounts of money and spending it, propping up GDP by vastly increasing the "G" component.

This has led to a doubling of government debt in the past four years, and it is not sustainable.

* * *

JayG points out that Obama--despite all his 2008 campaign rhetoric to the contrary--really does like the way George W. Bush did things, because he's doing all the same things old GWB did.

...only the media and the left (but I repeat myself) aren't screaming about it this time.

* * *

Okay, let's say it again. "Universal health care" is not, because it's mathematically impossible.

Short form: Canada's health system won't pay for a last-resort prostate cancer drug. If you need the pill and have private insurance, you get it; otherwise, you don't.

So Canada's "universal" health care system ends up being a two-tiered system JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER SOCIALIZED MEDICAL SYSTEM IN THE WORLD HAS EVER BEEN. The people who have money get the best treatment, while the poor and middle class--the very people the system is meant to help--get whatever's left over.

If you truly want to help people get the best medical care--if that's why you want "universal" health care--you cannot give the rich and well-connected better access to care than the common prole gets.

...of course, that's impossible. Not only will the politicians get better care, they will make it the law that they get better care. Which is why letting government be in charge of health care at all is stupid.

* * *

Trying to make Chernobyl worse than it was helps the anti-nuclear crowd.

Okay, 56 people died because of Chernobyl. Not "millions" or even "thousands", but FIFTY-SIX.

It's the worst nuclear disaster in history, and it killed 56 people. More people than that die every day from motor vehicle accidents.

...but that doesn't fit the narrative, nor does it make nuclear power out to be as unsafe as its opponents need it to be. Why, if everyone knew that the worst nuclear disaster in history killed less than sixty people in the two and a half decades since it happened they might start to think nuclear power is safe or something. They might be willing to accept that kind of risk, and we simply cannot have that!

I do increasingly find myself wondering how much of the opposition to nuclear power comes from people who have a state in the fossil fuel industry. If you were able to take a look at the donor rolls of various eco-nazi groups, how many of them would turn up to have donations from the fossil fuel industry in various ways?

Kind of like how DuPont helped to finance the outlawing of chlorofluorocarbons, because DuPont had patents on hydrofluorocarbons?

* * *

Well--because of that WoW marathon last night I'm not very highly motivated to do anything useful today. Well, it is Friday after all, but dang--there should be a limit to how lazy you can be. Come on.

#3546: Garage progress

So after I finished the last post, I got on the motorcycle to go to Og's place to pick up his fuel pressure gauge, in order to continue the Great Fiero Auffixennünger Project.

Front tire of motorcycle: flat. Rear tire: 24 PSI.

*sigh*

...pumped up the front tire, then rode over to Og's place. He had not put the fuel pressure gauge [in secret location] as promised; but since the Ogwife was home and sitting on the front porch waiting for pizza delivery, I was able to go into the garage and find the gauge myself.

After spending several minutes on Proper Beagle Protocol, of course. One must have priorities.

Anyway, then I rode home, ate the remaining pizza from yesterday, and in general chilled out for a little while; once the sun had gone down and the air cooled a bit I opened up the bunker and hied myself out to the garage.

Oh--part of "chilled out" was an abortive attempt to do my grocery shopping. See, Pepsi is on sale this week (4 for $10) and I was going to get Pepsi and some other necessities...but Walt's had absolutely NO diet Pepsi in bottles. Not of any kind.

I could have bought four six-packs of Mountain Dew and I could have bought cans, but I prefer bottles.

So I abandoned my cart in the drink aisle and walked out, intent on coming back when they have the soda I like in my preferred form factor. First time that's happened, though.

Then I read more Lovely Complex and relaxed until it was cool enough blah blah blah etcetera.

First up: Fiero. I hooked up the fuel pressure gauge to the fuel rail, turned the key, and watched the gauge shoot up to 40 PSI right away. Shut off the key, and it lost 4 PSI in about ten seconds.

Something connected to the fuel rail is leaking. I'm thinking it's at least one injector, but it could also be the fuel pressure regulator.

So what I get to do next is to remove the fuel rail and repeat the test. That'll show me which of the injectors is leaking, and I can replace them with known good ones from the spare set I bought [whenever it was].

...but it doesn't mean they're bad; it just means they're clogged with crap. They can be cleaned out and reused, but I'm not going to worry about that right now. First step is to find the leaks and repair them with known-good components; and then when I button the thing up I bet she'll run like a champ again.

Or at least I PRAY she'll run like a champ again.

Anyway:

Not wanting to dive into the fuel rail tonight, I turned my attention to the spare Escort engine. I had to move a few things around, but I was able to work on it in the back of the garage where it's been sitting for three years.

In perhaps two and a half hours, I stripped it down to the long block. Transmission is off, flywheel is off, everything is off except the accessory bracket and head, because I need those things in order to lift the block onto the engine stand for further disassembly. I'm going to tear the thing down completely in order to eke every last little bit of aluminum out of the thing I can--and get more money for it.

The transmission, however, I am going to clean very thoroughly and then put it up for sale on Craigslist for $100. It's a good transmission, dang it; it just looks crummy and I can take care of that in about an hour with some detergent and the pressure washer, and then a good stiff brush.

I might sell the intake process there, too--I mean, it's a complete intake manifold with fuel injectors, throttle body, fuel rail, wiring harness, etc. It comes off as a unit. The exhaust manifold is cast iron, though, and it's going to the scrap yard.

Interesting bit: there was a nut missing from one of the intake manifold studs. Also, one of the exhaust studs was not torqued down. I think someone had the head off this engine at some point, and did a less-than-professional job of reinstalling it.

I'm going to look over the cylinder head before I disassemble it. If it turns out to be fine, I'll sell it on Craigslist, too. Do you know what a cylinder head for this car costs from a boneyard? Last time I checked they were running $300. I ought to be able to get at least $150 out of it, if it's in good shape.

Assuming that the #4 cylinder was burning oil because of rings, that is. If that's the case, then the head isn't the problem and off we go. But if the #4 cylinder looks like it just left the factory (unlikely) then there's a bad oil seal in the head, and. Yeah.

So I'm not just blindly tearing the thing apart, intent on scrapping the entire thing. I'm going to do what I can to extract as much money from it as possible. Heh.

* * *

Speaking of which:

September 15 and 16 are major garage sale days here in the Fungal Vale--it'll be a town-wide event--so I could, theoretically, put prices on a bunch of stuff and see how things go since there'll be plenty of folks out looking for bargains. Why not have a little yard sale? Eh? Granted I have to split most of the proceeds four ways since most of the stuff is from the estate, but I do have a few things of my own that I no longer need and which I could sell. (Example: a complete component stereo system I will never use.)

* * *

Anyway, now it's 11 PM and I'm worn out; in a bit I'm going to go take a shower, because believe me I need one.

Heh.