May 7th, 2013

#3827: I can't believe it. I can't stand it, either.

I cut the grass on Saturday and it almost needs cutting again. I can let it go another day or three, but I'll have to cut it by Friday and I'm unhappy about it.

The unusually cold spring we had DUE, NO DOUBT, TO MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING has led to a sudden and explosive growth as the weather has tardily warmed. The lily of the valley plants have doubled in size since Saturday and leaves are bursting forth from all the foliage.

It's a party, I guess.

* * *

It's nice that we have the ability to recover pieces of history like this. Dang thing has been at the bottom of the ocean for 70 years and now they're talking about bringing it up--that's pretty cool.

* * *

Speaking of history, we do indeed have a lot to recover from the sea. How long did the last ice age last? Humans (homo sapiens) have been around for a long time, and it's for damn sure that there's a wealth of anthropology and archaeology which could be done if we knew where to dig.

But because so much water was locked in glaciers during the ice age, sea level was lower than it is now--some two hundred feet lower, in fact--and humans tend to build their cities by the water. (Even in modern America, about 80% of the population lives within five miles of the coasts.) When the glaciers melted and sea level rose, the old cities were swallowed.

An interesting question--one that probably can only be answered by finding one of those old cities and digging it up--is, "How fast did the waters rise?" Two hundred feet worth of sea level is a lot of water; I doubt it all melted overnight, but how fast did it melt? If it took, say, ten years, then we'd see a gradual progression away from the original siting, up towards higher ground. Some cities would have had to be abandoned entirely as the waters rose simply because there was nowhere to go. It'd be interesting to know.

Even so, little by little we learn that--gosh!--Earth has been both colder and warmer than it is now, and these temperature variations have been significant and natural even within historic times. There is no good reason to think that modern variations in temperature are somehow less natural than the others.

...which is why people like Michael Mann are trying to hide the medieval warm period and other such historical variations. It doesn't fit their template.

* * *

Monty brings teh DOOM!...yesterday.

One of his links: it's surprising that CNBC is saying this when there's a Democrat in the White House. The "real" unemployment rate is 13.8%--that's U6, the figure which includes the underemployed and the "not actively looking" unemployed.

Meanwhile, the government is fixing to game the GDP statistics in order to make them look bigger than they actually are; the feds are planning to change how GDP is calculated in order to garner a 3% increase in GDP. By 2014 you can expect the press will be reporting the GDP figures without noting the change in the calculation, so it'll look as if the economy had expanded under Obama.
While the government said the GDP revisions will present a more encompassing look at the economy, critics are howling that the changes are an attempt to mask weak growth and rationalize more debt.

"It shouldn't come as a surprise they are going to change the way this number is reported," said Michael Pento, founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies.

"When GDP numbers are chronically bad [averaging just 1.45 percent in the last two quarters] and the labor force participation rate is perpetually falling, our government will do the same thing they did for the inflation data--tinker with the formula until [they] get the desired result," he said.

Under the new math, the government will add research and development spending, as well as the capital value of all books, movies, records, television programs and plays produced since 1929.

In jacking up the economy's size, the revisions also will skew the ratio of debt to GDP, considered important in determining government spending.
And look at that last bit, which is critically important. If our debt-to-GDP ratio falls--even if it's merely due to government number fiddlating and adjustering--it lets them fool themselves into thinking that we can go on spending money with wild abandon and running the presses at "emergency maximum" the way we have been. That way, no one has to face the disastrous consequences of admitting we're in a whole stew of pickles.

The Keynesian machine which worked very well before 1980 has begun to choke on its own exhaust--began choking, in fact, in 2008--and everything they're doing now is mere tinkering with the fuel mixture rather than, y'know, opening a window and getting some fresh air in the room.


Victor Davis Hanson talks about the price of cropland in California, and the inevitability of busts following booms. He starts by talking about almonds--have you seen what almonds cost, these days?

...but there's no inflation.

* * *

Borepatch headlines this "Grotesque" and I cannot disagree with him. Short form: liberal couple are having twins, and considered aborting one of the babies so they aren't unduly inconvenienced, and now are dreading the birth of their twin sons.


Some people should not be parents.

* * *

This book is going to be a waste of money. If you think The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister is going to be worth buying, I invite you first to look up a little book called The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.

Released in 1978, NoLL was a thin book with a few sentences per page, all of them cribbed from Heinlein's book Time Enough For Love, which was written from the viewpoint of his "self-insert" character Woodrow Wilson Smith, AKA Lazarus Long.

You can read all of Lazarus Long's aphorisms here, for a lot less than the price of the book. Heinlein's dead and he had no children, so you are not stiffing anyone by not buying the book.

W&WoTL is going to be exactly the same sort of thing. Like NoLL it's pure marketing, and plenty of people--plenty!--will buy the thing solely because it's got George Martin's name on the cover.

Here's a sample of what will be in the book:
The Lord of Light wants to burn everyone. The Drowned God wants to drown everyone. Where is the god of tits and wine?
...and that'll be one page of the book. Mark my words.

As far as I've seen of the series, Tyrion Lannister is a fairly likable character. Most of the characters in the series are wholly unsympathetic; some are somewhat likable, but only a scarce handful are actually sympathetic characters, and Tyrion is one of them. He gets some great lines and he's got some principles even if he is less than noble; his character is complex and interesting, unlike some of the cardboard cutouts that prop up the margins. My biggest fear is that Martin is going to have him do something totally out of character that will ruin him.

Speaking of which--right now, Varys is also interesting and complex. We don't know where his true loyalties lie, and he seems to be a good guy, but we don't know. The suspense is well-maintained. Unlike Littlefinger, who broadcast his treacherous nature almost from the get-go; or Cersei and Jaime, who were obvious bad guys from the beginning. (But Jaime, in the 3rd season, seems to be evolving, slightly.)

A Clash of Kings is nearly a thousand pages long. I have agreed not to read A Storm of Swords until the current season of the TV show has ended. Please do not send me any spoilers.

* * *

Two FMLs today:

Today, my nose started running while in bed with my boyfriend. I kept trying to wipe it off with my arm to avoid ruining the moment. My boyfriend then looks up at me in horror. Turns out it wasn't mucus; it was blood. And it was all over his neck, his shirt, and his silk sheets. FML

Proof, once again, that women do indeed get nosebleeds when sexually aroused, just like men. Also--why was her nose alone in bed with her boyfriend?

...teaching basic grammar and sentence construction has apparently gone the way of the dodo. I see too much of this nonsense.

Today, I tried lying to my parents for the first time. My mother is a neuroscientist and my father is a psychologist. Somehow, they managed to make me admit that I was lying before I'd even finished. FML

...his parents are obviously a hell of a lot smarter than he is.

* * *

I don't have to cut the grass today, but there are things I must do, and the sooner I get after them, the sooner they'll be done.

#3828: Well, that's interesting. And messy.

Mrs. Fungus' car is due for another oil change, so I cleaned up and went to the parts store. They have a deal, $20 for 5 quarts and an oil filter, but I still have the filter from last time. I'm going to need to find a way to get that over-torqued filter housing off the car so I can change the filter this time. I ended up buying $15 worth of oil. (I'll end up going back later this month to get an oil filter and 5 qts for the Jeep, though, because it's going to need a change soon, too.)

Anyway, after I got the oil, I got back on the motorcycle and rode to Harbor Freight. They've got a special on mechanic's gloves, and while I was trying to find the ones that were on sale I found a perfect set of biking gloves: kevlar-reinforced faux leather palms with mesh backs...and they were under $9 with tax. (Turns out you need the coupon to get the mechanic's gloves at $4 per pair. Well, later, I guess.)

After that, a quick jaunt down the expressway to the grocery store, then home, where I started working on the garage.

See, in order to get the MGB functional again, I need to get at the car, so I ended up cleaning the area around the car, specifically behind it. And I finally cleaned out the parts washer.

I've had it since 2009 but have not used it since I finished the Great Escort Engine Project. The solvent in the washer was, essentially, window cleaner; I set the spigot up to pump the stuff into a cat litter bucket and dumped it down the toilet. Once the pump could no longer pump, I dumped the remainder on the driveway and hosed the thing out.

I would not have done this if the stuff was even as strong as the window cleaner you get in a bottle for $1, but it was so dilute I could barely smell any ammonia...and I do recall that the solvent boasted being "environmentally friendly", so fuck it.

I had to wipe slimy greasy gunk from the waterline, though. The ammonia had reacted with the oil that had gotten into the water, and it turned into a kind of slimy gel.

Once I had it cleaned out, I had a gander at the thing again. The pump is, of course, a generic fountain pump, like you'd find in a cheap tabletop fountain. There is a drain plug in the bottom of the tub, and because it is threaded I do believe I could get a fitting which would screw into the bung and let me attach some kind of hose or pipe to the thing. Then all I would need to do is to get something that can pump real solvent, and some kind of tank for storing said solvent. A couple of filters and some piping, and presto! A real parts washer!

At least the thing is empty now. That's a step in the right direction.

* * *

Before putting the bike away, I tried adjusting the front brake light switch. The brake light is supposed to come on whenever you squeeze the lever for the front brake or step on the pedal for the rear; the rear works famously but the front would only come on if you squeeze really hard.

...turns out that thing didn't work very well for a reason: it's broken. *whimper*

Supposedly, all you need do is loosen two screws and adjust the thing, but I couldn't move it far enough so that it would work correctly. When I took it off, the whole thing fell apart. There's a spring and there's supposed to be a contact in there, but the spring was so badly rusted, it was only holding shape by force of habit. I touched it and it crumbled...and in any event the contacts on the circuit board are in pretty crummy shape, too.

Looks like I need to get a replacement. Whee.

On the plus side, I'm in the habit of applying the rear brake first because the front brake light switch has been iffy from the get-go, so buying a new switch is not time-critical or anything. Mainly it's just annoying; looks like one can be had for about $10 off Ebay.

What I would like to do is to drop the bike off at the shop in town here and tell them, "Okay: tune her up, adjust the valve clearance, sync the carbs, check the timing, and adjust everything so that it's right. Here are photocopies of the relevant manual pages."

...I cannot do what I would like to do, though, until I have a job. Money is the answer to all your problems when you haven't got any.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a really nice day, the same way today was; I'm hoping I can get out into the driveway and make some stuff happen. Adjust the bike's adjustables (at least the ones I am equipped to adjust, since I lack the tool for synchronizing the carbs) and then crawl under the MGB and figure out why the hell the damn car won't roll. $5 says the damn wheel cylinders leaked again and the brake pads absorbed the fluid and swelled. Argh etc, but I do have a spare set of brake shoes for that car...somewhere.

Once I can roll the car in and out of the garage, then I can work on cleaning out the fuel system and getting that ready. That's going to involve dropping the fuel tank, unfortunately, but there's little I can do about that. Change lubricants, prime the carb, start 'er up...then get the damned timing adjusted right.

There's a long way to go, but fortunately most of it is just effort, and once the car is starting and running reliably then I can move on to finding a set of correct tires that won't break the bank. I'm hoping to find a used set for not a lot of money, so at that point I'll be calling tire places and boneyards; then I want to take the wheels over to a local company and have them blasted and powder coated...but, again, that's a ways off. First the mechanicals have to be attended to; once that's done I can worry about cosmetics.

I want this thing to look and drive like a $5,000 car...but I must move. Winter is coming.