August 10th, 2015

#4850: EPA needs to be held to the standards to which it holds others

EPA spilled a million gallons of toxic wastewater into a formerly-clean river. They were working at an abandoned mine and breached the containment of the wastewater.

If you or I did this, we'd be facing enormous fines. EPA needs to be held accountable for this.

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Expect Scotland to become a net importer of food relatively soon. Banning genetically-modified crops is pure eco-luddism.

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Karl Denninger on why Donald Trump is striking such resounding chords with people:
What is being misunderstood is that this is not so much about Trump as it is about the Republican party, which has lied repeatedly over the last several decades and, when in power, has failed to deliver on any of its promises despite having the ability to do so.

The mealy-mouthed games have finally awakened the people of this country who understand that there is a Constitution and it has meaning -- the original meaning in the words, not some load of crap after-the-fact that happens to be convenient for you at the time.

The cuckservative games, whether condescending crap that spews repeatedly from John McCain, the crying of Boehner, the outright lies of Ryan and McMorris-Rodgers and more have finally reached the point that the people of this country with a view toward the original intent and wisdom of the founders of this nation, never mind the Republican structure of our government, have simply had enough.

We're not going to vote for another McCain, no matter what name he has. We're not going to vote for a Bush who takes credit for a Florida "economic miracle" that was in fact all built on housing market leverage, liar loans and illegal mexican labor. We're not going to vote for those who claim to be opposed to virtually every program President Obama has championed and led yet while holding the power of the purse to stop every last one of them they were instead funded, continued and expanded!
This is exactly how I feel about all this. As I've said previously, not voting isn't going to fix this, but I don't have to vote for the GOP shit sandwich to make my voice heard.

I have to wonder how much of Trump's increasing poll numbers are people saying, "WTF, the GOP establishment wants to keep Trump out? All the more reason for me to support him! GO, TRUMP!"

I strongly suspect I am not alone. Trump is not what I would consider a serious candidate, but he could hardly do worse than the last several jerks who held the office. (Especially the present tenant.)

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NASA is treating space-grown food as if it expects everyone involved to die or mutate. Today, the astronauts are going to eat lettuce grown in microgravity aboard the space station.

...reading the article I am astounded at the level of caution on display, here. What could possibly be so different about a head of lettuce grown in microgravity that it would become toxic or otherwise unfit for human consumption?

We need to stop micromanaging space exploration. This is ludicrous.

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Speaking of ludicrous--

Last night I dug into the pile of stuff downstairs, determined to find the old 8-bit hardware. Here's the inventory:
2 C-64s
3 1541 floppy drives
1 1581 floppy drive
1 1520 plotter
1 NEC MultiSpeed laptop
1 Macintosh SE
1 Atari 520 ST
1 ST 354 floppy drive
1 Amiga 500
1 TRS-80 Model I
I don't have the faintest idea why I have three 1541 drives, but it does mean that one of them is superfluous and can donate its housing for the mini-ITX project.

The NEC MultiSpeed is the laptop I got in 1990 for $5, and fixed up. My first DOS machine! Since I recycled the CGA monitor, I have to reply on its non-backlit LCD, but it powered up and tested its RAM and looked for a boot disk.

I don't know if the Mac will work. I had a SCSI ZIP drive, and got the cable to hook it to the Mac, and made a backup disk of its hard drive; to do that, though, I had to open it up and remove the terminating resistors from the internal hard drive. I have no idea where the ZIP drive and the external SCSI cable for it have gone; furthermore, although I kept the terminating resistors I haven't the foggiest idea what happened to them, either. If the thing boots up without them, great; otherwise I'll have to find a set. (They are, as I recall, eight-pin SIP, but I have no idea what value.)

But I'm looking over this inventory with a view to reducing it; with the exception of the TRS-80 none of these things are particularly valuable but in good condition they'll fetch a handful of shekels each. (Even better: the Amiga has its RGB cable. I even have a monitor for it.) Realistically speaking I am never going to use any of this stuff ever again; I intend to keep a C64 and a 1541 but the rest of it can go.

My big autumn project will be getting an adapter to hook a 1541 to a USB port (Zoomfloppy in all liklihood), and then seeing what I can archive. I don't really care about the software so much as the writing that I have, on disk after disk after disk; floppies do not withstand the test of time even under ideal conditions. I don't know what I'll be able to recover, if anything.

If that's the case--if my disks have perished, which is the way to bet--I will not be overly sad, because the important stuff got printed, anyway. I made it a habit, long ago, to end an evening's writing session by printing what I had written; the stuff that didn't get printed was inconsequential. What I have on those disks is stuff I want, not stuff I need. It would, however, be very nice to burn a CD of all that stuff.

El-Hazard is more than powerful enough to run a C-64 emulator. (You can run a C-64 emulator on a Raspberry Pi, for crying out loud.)

* * *

Well, today is the second day of my little working vacation. Today I will put more parts onto the Fiero's engine, and have fun doing it.

#4851: 90%.

The last 10% is always the hardest, though.

So after having a liesurely pre-blog surf and doing nothing much important (mostly YouTube) for a while after eating, I hied myself out to the garage to see what kind of sense I could make of the Fiero.

As I'd predicted, reassembly didn't take very long. Mostly it was just figuring out where to lay the vacuum lines; the Fiero's 2.8 V6 has them all neatly clipped together, so all I had to do was to figure out the correct orientation, then get everything lined up. Had to reroute a few pipes, but otherwise that went smoothly enough.

Getting the EGR pipe attached to the manifold was a bitch, of course, but I got it done; I found that one gasket had stuck to the manifold at disassembly, so I do indeed need only one gasket. It's literally a $2 part and it's the only thing keeping me from attempting to start it today. Of course it is not available locally. has it, though, so I'll be ordering it a little later on.

Got the upper plenum mounted to the lower, and all bolts snug. I'll torque them later, as I need to find a torque pattern, but since I'm not starting it today this isn't critical. Finally, for want of anything else that I could do--the battery needs to charge and I need the EGR gasket to go any further--I put the hood back on. I reached down the front of the engine and turned it a little bit, by hand, so--hallelujah!--it's not seized.

The only bolts I have left? The nut and stud for the air cleaner. Everything else is on the car. I'm not surprised, though. I took it apart in an evening, for crying out loud, and it just sat like that for four freakin' years.

I have a lot more work to do, of course. Once the engine is running I must attend to the brake problem, and change the oil, and clean clean clean clean clean, and give 'er a good waxing, and fix some other issues here and there.

* * *

The problem with having spare assemblies on hand: while digging through the trunk trying to sort out the various bits and pieces, I came across a distributor, complete with cap, and for a hideous, horrifying couple of minutes I thought I might have put in the wrong distributor. The one I found had no markings on it, which meant a bad couple of hours trying to find TDC and then reinstalling the distributor.

Then I saw that there was a distributor cap in the engine bay, still attached to half the plug wires; and since the distributor that I put it was lacking a cap--and its pickup coil still had the protective tape around the wires--I knew that I had indeed put in the correct distributor, and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The one I'd found was my spare, thank all that's holy.

I have at least three complete sets of fuel injectors. I do believe that somewhere in the garage I also have a complete plenum for a V6, including throttle body. All that came from the '86, which (long-time readers may recall) I sold in 2009 for the princely sum of $100 as it was lacking its engine and transmission. Or maybe I threw the plenum in with that car? I can't recall, and it doesn't really matter anyway.

As soon as I cool off a bit (it's like 95 outside) I'm going to go attend to a few Jeeply matters. Whee!


1) I still can't find an EGR gasket for the thing. I can order one from The gasket costs $2; the shipping is $13. *sigh*

NAPA has them for $4.45 quantities of 10. Argh.

2) Started doing the Jeepy things, and it started raining. It's stopped now, but I'm finishing up with ordering my EGR gasket. What a thrill.

#4852: I really wish I could figure out WTF is going on with the Jeep's front end.

So the rain was over and I had finished ordering the EGR gasket, so I went back outside.

Before it rained I had gotten the brake caliper off the passenger side. I continued my work by removing the cotter pin and the funky nut-shaped castle washer thing that keeps the axle nut from even thinking about loosening.

The axle nut on the Jeep is 36mm. I have a 32mm axle socket, and I don't have $20 to spend on one that's the right size. Whoopee. Therefore, getting a gander at the front end bearings is going to have to wait a while longer.

In the wake of the storm that passed through, the wind has died completely, and it's incredibly sticky outside. No wind, high humidity--even with a fan, I was sweating my ass off. It was cooler and more pleasant before it rained, damn it.

Anyway, I tried a trick I saw on YouTube: I put a lever under the tire and lifted, to see if there was any play in the suspension. The tire did move more than it should. It moved in a narrow arc. The driver's side did not, which leads me to believe that there is something going on with that passenger side wheel. I just need another pair of eyes on it, because I couldn't really tell where the movement was coming from. It looked like the wheel's axis was where it was pivoting, which would mean bearings almost certainly, but I'm not entirely sure. I could be sure if I could disassemble the dang thing and check the bearings, but I can't do that. Argh etc.

Good thing: I can get a new hub for about $40-ish from Rockauto. Shipping will probably be pretendous. *sigh*

I haven't even started looking at the instrument cluster, either. *sigh*