March 5th, 2014

#4147: Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I honestly don't know what's going on with about 90% of the LiveJournal stuff--user rankings, social capital, a slew of other nonsense--because I don't care about it. What I care about is being able to put a post up when I feel the need to. The rest is frippery and nonsense.

Still, a few months ago my ranking was something like 49,000; now it's around 3,000,000. I know this is an artifact of a new system being put in place and populated; I just don't know what the system is, exactly.

And I don't really care. I just happened to notice.

* * *

Radio Shack is looking to close about 1,100 stores, because there are too many of them as it is and they no longer serve any really useful purpose.

See, it used to be that Radio Shack was the go-to place for all kinds of electronic parts and assemblies. You need a 470 uF electrolytic capacitor? They have it--and if they don't, they can order it and have it in a few days. You don't have to drive an hour to get to Fry's; just go to the RS down the street!

...except the decline of the electronics hobby, and the ability of the do-it-yourselfer to repair--well, just about anything electronic these days, has resulted in them having to shift their focus. It's been years since I was last in one of their stores and even then they were turning into "just another cell phone store", with less and less shelf space devoted to components and other hobbyist supplies. RS has always charged a premium for their stuff, and about 90% of the stuff they sell is available elsewhere at a lower price.

The article points out that their stores are too densely sited. I noticed that a couple of weeks ago, driving down Lincoln Highway: there were two stores within a couple miles of each other on the same street, and both of them a short drive from a third. That's nuts.

RS's business model of having multiple small "hole in the wall"/neighborhood stores is probably not a good way to go in today's business environment, since price, availability, and selection are much more important today than individualized service is.

It's sad, but that's how it is.

* * *

Global warming has frozen Niagara Falls twice this year.

Anthropogenic global warming blah blah blah polar vortex [handwaving] etcetera means of course the warming Earth is making Niagara Falls freeze. You can't get that kind of effect from a very weak solar maximum!

* * *

Obamacare is wrecking the economy. Thanks, Obama! Thanks, Democrats!

* * *

Well, there are tracks in the new-fallen snow, and they are the tracks of the wily Comcast line technician. Here's hoping they fixed whatever is causing all the nonsense with our connection, so we can watch Gravity and Thor: the Dark [whatev] without all the tiling we've been getting.

More importantly, maybe I can play WoW without all that stinkinous lag. Priorities!

...Mrs. Fungus wants to watch Gravity but I am less enthusiastic, mainly because it won so many Oscars. These days Oscar-winning movies are generally not entertaining; witness please the fact that 12 Years a Slave won because it was supposed to win, not on its merits as a film.

I don't know how good or not the film actually is, but any time you have people voting for it solely because it's a movie about slavery (which, incidentally, makes the United States look as bad as possible in the process) and not watching the movie because it's a hard watch--what does that say about the validity of the academy's votes?

Mrs. Fungus insisted on watching the Oscars to see who won "Best Picture", but if I'd known in advance what the candidates were I could have saved her the trouble. When I did know, I told her that the slave movie would win.
My question is, these two Academy members, they understand the point of a secret ballot, right? My God, can you imagine what a spineless coward you’d have to be to be buffaloed by your own subconscious into altering your vote on a secret ballot? I think it might be time to dissolve this entire organization and start over again.
This kind of nonsense is why I don't watch that bullshit any longer. It's nothing and its importance and relevance to my daily life is nonexistent, and all it really amounts to is a bunch of hyper-rich self-styled intellectuals circle-jerking each other in public.

The fact that Gravity won Oscars is not encouraging to me. I am never encouraged to watch a movie by how many awards its won; in fact that's a strong disincentive when I consider all the ramifications.

Hey, but maybe this time it'll be different. I did like Amadeus, even though it beat out Andrew Powell for the "Best Score" Oscar (Ladyhawke).

* * *


Bureaucrats gonna bureaucrat. There has never been a better argument for de-funding public education.

* * *

Libs are thin-skinned and cannot handle life outside of the lefty echo chamber. Borepatch observes that this is a sign of how weak their positions are, and I don't believe he's wrong.
Unwilling to do the heavy lifting of logical reasoning, they take the easy path of suppression. I don't think that this is right. The Establishment does not appear to promote based on intellectual horsepower, but rather on compliance to the Approved™ canon of dogma. ... Certainly the typical Progressive Intellectual rarely displays - very likely because he cannot - what [John Kenneth] Galbraith packed into his book [The Affluent Society, 1958]. On the contrary, the reaction when challenged is to shame and ostracize.
The worst aspect of the lefty echo chamber is that they continue to pat themselves on the back, insisting they're "open-minded" and "support freedom of expression" and "speak truth to power".

The reality is, shall we say, different. For one thing, in many areas the lefties are the power, and anyone attempting to speak truth to it is--as Borepatch points out--suitable only for ostracism and censure. The debate over global warming is a paradigmatic example: all those who support the thesis that human carbon emissions are causing global warming have agreed that it's so, and therefore no further discussion, investigation, or debate is permitted.

The fact that global warming has stopped for over fifteen years, despite ever-higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, notwithstanding.

We're not allowed to disagree with them because they are right; they've decided. And therefore the only possible path forward is to listen to them and do what they say because they are the experts. You are not allowed to speak truth to their power, you do not have the freedom to express incorrect viewpoints (the correctness of which are decided by them, of course) and there is no need for them to be open minded about what you think because they all agree that you are wrong.

Reality is, however, beyond their ability to coerce and intimidate. Because they're losing their grip on the reins of power, it's obvious that the only thing they can do is find a way prosecute people who disagree with them.

Uh, right.

* * *

Of course, Comcast line tech is doing his thing, and I just saw him carrying some coax up the driveway. I have no idea what that means, but I guess I'd better post this before the link goes do--

#4148: I hate Fram oil filters

So I said today that I had to change the oil in Mrs. Fungus' car.


I bought a 5-qt jug of oil at Meijer a couple of weeks ago, along with a Fram filter. "I don't like Fram filters, but this one is just a filter cartridge and shouldn't have the issue with the anti-drainback valve not working that made me swear off Fram oil filters lo these many years ago."

What a mistake that was.

Everything went normally--removing Toyota's STUPID f-ing filter housing. What the fuck, may I ask, is wrong with using a spin-on filter? The location of the filter housing is not anything special; a spin-on filter would work perfectly there. But no; Toyota has made a commitment to some stupid shitty thing or another, meaning no spin-on filter for you, bitch. Argh etc.

...but that was a bridge we crossed last year, and the filter housing came off easily. I got the oil drained from the crankcase and everything went just fine. Reassembly was the reverse of assembly, right?

Started car, and then heard this odd little flatulent noise come from the engine compartment. You know that noise it makes when you have bad gut malf and you pass gas and liquid at the same time? It was like that.

That is not a good and proper noise, I thought, and shut off the engine. Dreading what I would find I got out of the car and looked under the engine and--sure enough--there was a nice big four-quart puddle of fresh 5w20 under the car. And I said many bad words.

It turns out that the o-ring that came with the Fram oil filter was too damned big. When I put it on, it rolled right out of the ring land and onto the outside of the filter housing, where it won't seal anything against any significant pressure.

I went to Advance Auto, and got an oil-change deal for $25 with tax: a PUROLATOR filter and five quarts of 5w20. And everything went together exactly the way it was supposed to, and when Mrs. Fungus started her car there were no leaks.

Before I added fresh oil again but after getting the oil filter on, I corrected the exhaust rattle the car has developed. It sounded like "heat shield" to me and my investigation under the car--I already had it up on jack stands to put the oil filter in AGAIN!--revealed that the exhaust heat shield at the back of the car had fallen off two of its three mounting bolts. Metal fatigue.

I repaired it with a time-hononred remedy: I got a coat hanger, cut off the hook, and wired that bitch back in place. It shouldn't go anywhere, at least until the coat hanger rusts out.

So after the car was refilled and off the jack stands, I turned my attention to the third garage project of the day.

My desk chair (new just a handful of years ago!) is falling apart, and I've decided never to buy this brand ever again because of it. But I haven't got any money for furniture right now, so I have to make do, and generally speaking I really don't mind all that much. Today I leaned over in my chair and crack something gave way under my butt, and when I pulled it apart I saw that the mounting flange which secures the base to the chair itself had cracked.

"No problem!" Thought I. "This is annoying, but I have a welder!" I even knew what I had to do: use the die grinder to clean paint and rust off the metal, exposing the crack; then make with the old flux core. Clean up the weld with the die grinder, maybe hit it with a little paint, and presto! There was only one minor issue with this plan.

I don't really know how to weld.

I've seen it done on TV countless times, and I've read several "how-to" manuals on the subject, but I have no training whatsoever. No one has ever sat down with me and my flux-core welder and said, "Okay, doofus, if you want to make anything approximating a decent weld with this junk, first you have to...."

I pick a wire feed speed by guess and by gosh, and then run the wire tip over the joint between the two pieces of metal I'm trying to weld, and hope for the best. The results are less than stunning; tonight's effort was probably the most pathetic-looking excuse for a shitty-ass cold weld I've ever had the misfortune of seeing. It seems to be reasonably solid (I put the chair back together and am now sitting on it. My other alternative is a milk crate) but God alone knows how long it'll actually hold.

And before I take it to someone who knows what he's doing, I'm going to have to spend a lot of time cleaning this shit off. I'm too embarassed to let anyone see it.

On the plus side, at least I know that I don't know how to weld. I'm not out in my garage trying to build a go kart or a dune buggy or something with my craptastic lack of welding ability, thinking that I'm John f-ing Henry or something. (No, wait, he was a driller. Never mind.)

Still, it made me feel manly. I guess that'll have to do.