atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#2927: Hydrogen sulfide!

Well, I went to O'Reilly's and got the battery, and filled it; now it's charging.

Working with acids of moderate strength makes me nervous about the same way working with a chainsaw does. I know I'm messing with something that can bite me if I'm not careful, so I'm extra careful.

Still, red fuming nitric acid it ain't. I've spilled a few drops of battery electrolyte on my skin before (including today) and all I had to do was wipe it off, and wash with soap and water in the immediate future. The stuff that comes in the bottle with the battery isn't all that strong, because the battery is in a state where you add the electrolyte and then charge it: the acid will get stronger as the battery charges.

Of course dumping fresh electrolyte into a brand-new battery produces gas, and the battery got noticeably warm after I'd filled it. I could smell the hydrogen sulfide (hence the title of the post) and knew that this thing was soon going to be chock-full of electrons eagerly seeking a lower energy state. Whee!

* * *

This is a factor I hadn't considered but it fits with my "China is not going to take over the world" assertion.

One of the economic truths that applies to any country dragging itself out of the 15th century is that--as industrialization progresses--the workforce becomes more expensive.

When someone has a choice between working on a farm and working in a factory, wages can be pretty low and still be attractive, because agriculture is hard labor. (Seriously, I don't know why people do it; but thank God they do, you know? Because otherwise we'd all be eating mud pies and grass clippings.) But as the economy becomes industrialized, things start happening and people start wanting/needing/expecting higher wages. For one thing, the average worker hates it when he's building gewgaws he can't afford to buy himself, but that's not the whole picture: the other problem is--as the article asserts--that price competition begins to be a factor when the inevitable demographic changes begin.

A scarce resource commands a higher price than a common one. While there are 1.2 billion Chinese breeding away indiscriminately, there's plenty of low-educated-low-skill workers being produced.

In China's case, the demographic change is deliberate; the government introduced a policy to keep the populace of the country at only mildly insane levels. But the unintended consequence of this is that the pool of cheap labor is shrinking--and because cheap labor is becoming more scarce, it's ceasing to be cheap labor.

The same thing happens in any developing economy; in China it's just happening earlier in the cycle. In other countries people voluntarily breed less as the average income rises, for various reasons--but the result is the same.

* * *

So Obama gave a big jobs speech last night. I didn't listen to it; I had more important things to attend to. (Like ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL.) Anyway, because I'm such a genius I can sum it up even without having seen it:
Blah blah blah jobs blah blah blah economy blah blah blah taxes blah blah blah fairness blah blah blah working families blah blah blah millionaires and billionaires blah blah blah high speed rail blah blah blah saved or created blah blah blah increase spending blah blah blah infrastructure blah blah blah.
Did I get everything?

...the Dow dropped two hundred points after opening. All the gains of the week are gone. As I write this, a bare 90 points seperate us from open of business on Tuesday, right after the huge "OMG EUROPE IS GOIN' DOWN IN FLAMES!" drop happened.

To be fair, however, it's not all Obama. (Like he could possibly be that effective.) Karl Denninger says, "Greece has the mother and father of all inverted yield curves, with the 1 year now trading at or near an implied 100% interest rate."

See, if your bonds are good, the interest rate is low, because the investor's risk is low. So if you buy a $100 US savings bond you can expect that you'll get a certain return on it--and at worst you'll get your money back--so it's safe, and the interest rate is low.

If, however, it's possible that you won't get your money back, the interest rate must rise: the risk of owning the bond is substantially higher, thus the potential reward for taking that risk must be correspondingly higher. The longer the odds, the higher the payout. (That's why the lottery can have a $100 million grand prize: the odds of winning are infinitesimal.)

So if Greece's bonds are trading near a 100% yield, it means they're not a good risk. If you buy a Greek bond and it's not rendered invalid before maturity, you get back twice as much as you paid for it...but that assumes that the bond will actually still be valid at maturity. The market thinks it won't be.

Greece's budget is coughing up blood. They're kiting checks; there's no money in the checking account and there's no paycheck coming in a day or two to cover the outlays.

What can we do? Nothing. This is all Europe, here.

* * *

On my way back from Og's last night I was listening to more of the old anime OST CDs. One of them had selections from the OST for the Kimagure Orange Road special. That's the one where Saeko Shimazu (who did Shinobu in Urusei Yatsura) did the voice for Madoka. She's good and has a nice voice, but it is decidedly not Madoka's voice.

Hiromi Tsuru has the Madoka voice. Sorry, Shimazu-san.

...anyway I bought this disk in 1995 when I was desperate for anime music and it was virtually impossible to get, thinking it was the OST for the OVA series. Wrong! ...but it was pretty good, so I enjoyed it. Anyway.

I was listening to it on my way home from Og's place, and in a couple of quiet passages I was hearing the sounds of running water, like a fountain or a stream. It's been long enough since I last listened to these CDs that I thought, "Hey, that's a nice touch."

Then I hit the track advance button...and could still hear the "running water" sound while the drive mechanism sought the next track. Uh oh.

Got home, shut everything off but the blower, and listened...and sure enough, with the thing set on "vent" and running at moderate speed, I could hear water sounds. A check of the carpet on the passenger side revealed wet carpet.

It's been raining, so I must assume that there is a blocked drain hose somewhere that's keeping water from draining correctly, so it's puddling in the HVAC unit and dripping onto the carpet. Argh.

I guess I know what I'll be doing after it stops raining!
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