Saturday, January 05, 2013

E15 may kill your car?

AAA issues warning on E15 gas - News - Tire Business - The Tire Dealer's No. 1 News Source:

Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey of auto manufacturers conducted by AAA. The group said its automotive engineering experts "also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems, such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false 'check engine' lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15." "It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle," said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. "Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers."

"E15" (fuel which is 85% gasoline and 15% Ethanol) is dramatically different from "E10" .. gasoline which is 10% Ethanol and 90% gasoline).

The difference is, apparently, not minor.

If I understand this correctly, the main problem is that the 'E15' portion of fuel in your tank separates with time.  Eventually, the ethanol proportion becomes much more predominate, so you are are actually burning a much higher degree of ethanol than gasoline.

This (again, this is my understanding) means that vehicles made before 2012 cannot burn high-percentage Ethanol without damage to your engine.

In news reports (besides those published from the American Automible Association) we see headlines such as (from USA Today): "BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and VW have said their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15. Ford, Honda, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have said E15 use will void warranties ... citing potential corrosive damage to fuel lines, gaskets and other engine components."

Why are these petroleum products being promulgated upon the American Public?  (Somebody please say "Nice Alliteration, Geek!)?

Because the Federal government strongly supports E15.

Disclaimer?  Ethanol producers strongly disclaims the claims because the claimants are biased.  (Okay, maybe I'm being just a little facetious here .. but just because I'm mean, that doesn't mean I'm Bad.)
Ethanol supporter-reaction to the AAA report warning consumers about E15 was swift, and included automotive expert Bobby Likis. “I’m both surprised and disappointed in the entire premise of the AAA E15 article in USA Today,” the car-talk host said in a statement. “In the 41 years I have been—and still am—hands-on in the diagnosis, service and repair of cars, I find the repeating of an already dispelled myth that E15 ruins engines distasteful and contrary to the results found in extensive EPA and university studies, as well as in my first-hand experience with over 175,000 cars that have rolled through my service shop. In 41 years, we have not diagnosed a single 'ruined' engine due to ethanol."
Here's what Fox Business has to say:

Me?  *_I_* don't know what's right.  I remember several years ago when the decision was made (by people we elected .. remember that?) to require us all to accept E10 (10 percent Ethanol/gasoline fuel) .. we were told ... 'do it for the environment, and because the only way we can get enough gasoline for all of us is to accept some 'natural' fuel elements to expand our fuel availability' ... we were also told that we would probably have to change all of our fuel filters because E10 would stir up the sediment of our fuel tanks.  To a degree.

So we're now all running on E10, and sediment is not a problem?

Is it true that now the problem is not the sediment clogging our fuel problems, but the degradation of mechanical components which may now be a problem if we are trying to burn 15% Ethanol?

Where will it end?

You know, I'm only mildly upset that the Federal Government is telling us that we "must" accept this new fuel standard.  We bitched about Ethanol years ago, and it didn't turn out to be so bad; does that mean that we should accept an 'escalation' of the Ethanol Standard?

Okay, forget that.  I'm old and cranky, and I tire easily .. especially when the effort to single-handedly rage against the predations of the Federal Government makes me look more like a Curmudgeon than the "Social Critic"  which I picture myself to be.

Umm .. no. On second thought, DON'T forget that.  I'm a cranky old man .. .make that "Cranky Old Man"! ... and my opinion may not be 'right' but I'm still entitled to my opinion.

Tell me, where in the Constitution does it say that the Feds get to tell me what kind of fuel I can/may/would/SHOULD poke into my gas tank?

(Nota Bene:  at this point, the discussion gets WAY beyond the original premise;  You Have Been Warned!)

The Left is pretty good about saying that the Constitution may be misinterpreted about the Second Amendment, but they have no objections to interpreting the Commerce Clause in any manner which best suits their political agenda.

Can't we do the same?

(Probably not .. which pisses me off to no end!)

But, other than the Leftist free-based interpretations, the constitution doesn't 'really' tell us what kind of fuel we must pour into our tank.  And it doesn't 'really'  tell us that the EPA can dictate to us.

Second Amendment:
On the other hand, the constitution doesn't apply to the 2nd amendment:  "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

According to The Political Left, the Founding Fathers didn't envision "Assault Weapons", so we shouldn't accept Black Guns as being 'legitimate' because that refers to a Future Technology.  The Founding Fathers never envisioned high-capacity magazines as opposed to muskets which must be laboriously (and time/labor dependently) reloaded to facilitate even a second shot, let along 20+ shots as fast as you can pull the trigger.

Well, I think that E15 refers to "a Future Technology", too.   And the Feds don't have any right to mandate what kind of fuel we should/may/must use to fill the tanks of our motorcars .. which technology also did not exist in the 18th Century.

See .. the thing about the Political Left is that they feel that they are allowed to pick and choose which interpretations of the American Constitution they may use to advance their own political platforms.  So, they think that they can say "not 18th Century technology, does not apply, enough said" when the subject is firearms.  But when it applies to automobiles, they are entirely silent vis-a-vis Constitutional issues/priviliges/issues.

(When you started reading this, you didn't expect that I would turn the discussion from The Commerce Clause to the Second Amendment, did you?  I'm feeling just a little smug, here.)

I'm thinking .. we need to find some kind of  'meeting of the minds' where the Left and the Right agree which issues are applicable to the U.S. Constitution, and which do not.  No, I don't really expect that to happen, but it would be very nice is someone .. say, the Supreme Court ... would chip in here and say WAIT A MINUTE!

That IS covered by the Constitution.  It says what you can do, and ... gee! .. if it doesn't say you can do that, you cannot!

It seems to me that the Commerce Clause (intended to prevent imposition of trade between the states) is being over-worked by the Political Left.  As an example, it has been cited as a means to limit transfer of firearms, and (a failed attempt) to impose liabilities on firearms manufacturers when their product is used to commit crimes .... an onus which, by the way, is not imposed on automobiles which are also used to commit felonious crimes.

By now, you are probably wondering how I'm going to tie this all into a single neat knot.  Commerce clause v. Second Amendment.  E15 v AR15   Liberal v. Conservative interpretation of the Constitution.  Executive Branch v. Judicial Branch v. Legislative Branch of the Federal government.

The sad truth is .. I can't do that.

Oh, I COULD do that, using my own egocentric view of what I think the relative responsibilities should be between the branches of the government.  But in case you haven't  noticed, the Federal Government (and probably every governmental entity from President to Alderman) is composed of  [ptahhhh!] Politicians.  All they want is to be re-elected.  Giving us the finest form of government possible is not only not their primary priority, it doesn't even show up on their electoral horizon.

This E15 issue is really 'small potatoes' for our elected representatives. It only matters to "The Little Man" who just wants to full up his tank without breaking his car.

Suppose you tell me how much faith you have in YOUR elected representative, at any level, really cares whether his administrative fiat breaks your car?

The reasonable answers vary between "Oh, I think my political leaders REALLY care!" to "Fuck All".

Actually, I don't think there's much to be considered in the Mediocre Middle.

The definition of Curmudgeon is:  "a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person.".  The definition makes no distinction between one who is entitled to be bad-tempered in opposition to the imposition of unrealistic administrative fiat, and one who is consistently and unrealistically oppose to being told what to do  .. even if the "what to do" part is objectively realistic.

I became a curmudgeon the day I first learned that "no gun zones" were typically imposed on public meeting places; a condition which eventually became endemic to mass murders.  The only relationship between "E15" and "Assault Weapons" is that E15, which is patently bad for us, is mandated.

Do the math.

UPDATE: January 7, 2013:
See the comments.  The question is not why the Federal Government needs to introduce :"feel good" legislation in response to every social situation that catches their attention.

The question is why the Federal Government is performing it's constitutionally mandated responsibilities by simply enacting more laws which restrict our rights as citizens.

Go back and read the Constitution.  And think again about the question stated earlier:
" ... we need to find some kind of  'meeting of the minds' where the Left and the Right agree which issues are applicable to the U.S. Constitution, and which do not."

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher

"Funny ... I thought you would be taller."

I've been reading Lee Child books since "The Killing Floor".   I often wonder how the author can keep the 'franchise' going, but I'm never disappointed.  As is the case with Vince Flynn's "Mitch Rapp" series, the author seems always able to maintain the impetus ... somehow.

I think the secret is that each author has defined his iconic character so thoroughly that their readers know what to expect and they are never disappointed.

The late (and sorely missed) author John D. McDonald scored similarly with his "Travis McGee" series, and in 1983 one of his novels was made into a movie starred Sam Elliot (who in 1979 co-starred with Tom Selleck .. see below .. in "The Sacketts") in a thoroughly believable character.   Elliot LOOKED like he could outsmart and out-tough anyone he came across ... maybe that's why he was so believable playing opposite Patrick Swayze in "Roadhouse"?  (Note that as late as 2011, people were still trying to make movies out of Travis McGee novels.)

 Robert B. Parker ("Spenser For Hire", "Jesse Stone") was able to establish characters who were successfully translated to television series not once, but twice.  True, Robert Urich seemed a bit baby-faced for the part of Spenser, but his inimitably playful style translated wonderfully well the late-20th century "neo-Tec" persona of Parker's deranged dreams.  And casting Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone?  (Note that The Jessee Stone" series seems to be losing popularity; Selleck bought rights to the whole series before Parker died, and he's  the one who is not only starring in and producing the series but will finally decide when ... or if .. to pull the plug.)  Frankly, Selleck has always looked a little "lost" to my eye.   Works for me!

But .. Tom CRUISE as the 6'4" Reacher?

From a movie review:
When it was announced that Cruise had been cast to play Reacher - who is described as being 6’5” - many fans of the books voiced their displeasure as how could an actor who is almost a foot shorter  pull off the role, including us. But we were pleasantly surprised by Cruise’s portrayal. While he did miss the mark on a number of Reacher’s mannerisms, he still offers a decent enough performance once you get past the slight ego that creeps in every now and then.

Okay, I may actually go see the movie, just to get a better perspective on the finished product.  I admit to being at least dubious about it.  I was able to accept Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger in a bowdlerized version of "Point of Impact" in "The Shooter" (I even bought the DVD), so I guess I can manage to watch "Jack Reacher" as long as I am careful to avoid attending the movie too soon after I have eaten a full meal.  I don't promise not to hurl, but I'll try.

Actually, whenever I find an author who has the guts and the stamina to produce a viable series of novels, I inevitably begin to wonder how it would play in a movie.  That's probably the reason why I am more accepting than I (in my curmudgeonly mood) am dismissive when I hear that one of 'my' authors has allowed his work to be filmed.  I am certain that the movie or television series will not be true to the originals, and I am prepared to be disappointed.   A teen-age girl may accept a blind date from a guy she expects to be a total nerd; she's still thrilled to be asked out.  In that way,  I'm so pleased that someone has agreed with me that the stories are worthy of an interpretation, I don't mind all that much that their vision may turn out to be entirely different from mine.

In passing, I may note that the "Spenser For Hire" television-movie series was written so closely to the original novels that I'm determined to believe it's not impossible to do a workable movie directly from a book.

I just try hard not to expect it.

Okay?  Have I eaten enough crow?

So, let's talk about how Hollywood is going to screw up the entire Mitch Rapp series!

"American Assassin"   as a book, and as a movie.

Who's going to play Mitch Rapp?


As of November 9, 2012, that's not going to happen.   Cris Hemsworth turned down the role.  This project is so tentative that they can't even find anyone to play him.  When I read the series, I'm thinking 24 hours star  Kiefer Southerland.  The trouble is,  although this book came out in 2010, it was a 'flashback' of Rapp's entry into the Assassination Biz, which means that the character must be played by an actor who is believably being recruited out of college.  That means that the actor must be young; which in turn suggests this is the reason why this particular Mitch Rapp story was chosen --- to appeal to a younger audience.

I can't wait to see how Bruce Willis fits into the story; I'm not familiar with his character (well, he's the guy who trains Mitch and is shown up and put down in the process), so I guess my next thing is to re-read the book, THEN go see the movie.  Although, it might be better if I see the movie first;  I may be less disappointed if I'm not fixated on how "it ought to look".

The plan for now is to wait until I know more about the lead, so I can feel more comfortable expounding on the many reasons why he is entirely unsuitable for the role.    [Yes, that is a joke.  It's not easy being me.]

So many books, so many movies, so little time.
It's probably a good thing that I'm retired.

If you aren't familiar with either Lee Child or Vince Flynn (or John D. McDonald or Robert B. Parker .. .both of whom will be writing no more books), here's my recommendation in a two-step sobriety format:
  1. Watch the movie first
  2. Then buy, and read, the books.  Don't cheat; don't borrow them from the library. Feed the author, buy the books if only to encourage them to write more of 'em.
Unless you just cannot afford it, always buy the books; they're cheap  enough in paperback or from used-book stores (or yechy Kindal) and eventually you may find that you .... as I do .. will be pre-ordering the hardbounds before they're actually published.  There's something immensely satisfying about holding a brand new just-published book and knowing that all of your friends, family and co-workers are counting on you to read it quickly so you can loan it to them.

Then .. make them buy their own damn books.  

Feed the author!

PPS:  why buy books?  So you can re-read them any time you want to.

PPPS:  if it's a new book, put in a request to your local library for the book.  That way, they'll buy more books and feed the author even more ... and encourage more people to read and eventually buy the books --- and feed the author.

"Man, you guys are STRICT!

How the Corvallis police charged $952 for a loud party:
On Wednesday, Aug. 8, the Corvallis Police Department received a loud party complaint for an apartment on Southwest Leonard Street.

The police report noted that the department had experienced previous problems at that address. The officer parked one block away and heard the sound of loud music and thumping bass. Voices could be heard above the sound of the music. The officer was 300 feet away.

It was 11:24 p.m. Officers would remain at that site for nearly four hours, interviewing witnesses and neighbors and arresting four people in the apartment.

At the end of the night, the party had racked up a bill from the police for $952.65.

I live in a college town.  I sleep with my window open.  Almost all of the residences in my neighborhood are rentals.  And on New Year's Eve the parties were in full swing by 8pm, running until almost 5am.

Since I didn't expect to sleep well, I turned on the fan in my window to help blot out at least some of the noise. 

Really boring, except that I had noticed this article in the local paper ten days ago and I've been hanging onto it today so I could drag it out as background for the expected story about how my neighbors kept me awake all night.

Guess what?  By 3am, it was quiet in my neighborhood!  I don't know whether my neighborhood Student Princes read the story and were scared off, or if they're just more mature (or more wimpy) than those of previous years.

On Cinco de Mayo a few years ago .. which fell on a Thursday ... I actually paid a visit to a neighbor who lived in the one-floor apartment complex just over my back fence.  There were teenagers dancing in the parking lot, fighting, the doors to the 'host' apartment were wide open and the music was playing at full volume.  Mariachi music .. unsafe at any speed!

I found the host; he was a patriotic Mexican citizen and about twice my size.  Also, very drunk.  When I identified myself as his neighbor, and asked him to PLEASE quiet down the party because I had to be at work the morning (and I needed some sleep!), he started puffing up.  He looked like he was going to throw a punch, until his girl-friend pointed out that I was paying him the courtesy of asking him, instead of just phoning the police.   She talked him down, the party went back inside, and although it was still loud the noise was at least muffled.  I could live with that.
There was a moment there when I actually regretted my decision NOT  to carry when I went to 'visit my neighbor'.  (Two days later he woke up the neighborhood at 5am playing "El Deguello".  I ignored it.  He moved out the next month, at the end of the term.   Too much partying to maintain his GPA?  I never knew.)

That was the last time I ever actually paid a call on my neighbors.  I realized that when a party gets that far out of control, a Good Neighbor policy isn't always appreciated.

In fact, this town has a separate phone number for 'loud party' calls, just to keep their 911 line clear.

Judging from this article, I'm not the only resident who has learned that it's better to call the police than to be what might be considered "confrontational".  Perhaps we permanent residents are just getting old.  Or wiser.

(Actually, the police policy isn't all that strict. It's applied when a resident has a VERY loud party, they've been visited by the police more than once 'recently' for similar reasons, and there are extenuating factors such as minors present ... especially if the minors are drinking.  Then the hosts are billed for police salaries, use of police cars, and other city services.)

I DO remember when I was one of those students who were either hosting or attending parties.  It was a long time ago.  Great memories of young girls dancing The Frug and vomiting on the patio while people were jumping full-dressed into the pool.  My landlady wasn't happy with me, but I did clean up the mess in the morning and the neighbors didn't complain.  Maybe I was a wimpy student?

But it was a learning experience for me.
I haven't mixed soft drinks with alcohol since 1967.  I had thought it would keep me from getting drunk; instead, it just made me sick to my stomach.  Any drink that tastes better going down than it does coming back up is A Bad Idea.

I know:  Too Much Information.

Mayan Joke

One Mayan shows another his new batch of tequila and encourages him to drop what he's doing and drink some.
The other Mayan says, "Sure - I guess if I don't finish this calendar it won't be the end of the world..."
(Thanks and a HatTip to The G-Man)

So .. I guess 2012 really IS only the end of the Mayan calendar, and not necessarily TEOTWAWKI.

The good news is ... well, see above.

The bad news is .. I hope nobody ever actually DRANK the kool-aid!

(Ordinarily, this would be a cue for me to research and write a Geek-Length essay about people who suicided based on their doomsday beliefs.  EG: Johnstown  and those flying-saucer believers.   But then I found that the "Heaven's Gate" webpage is still active online, and I decided that I'll just let you go there if you want to.)

For myself, I've always wanted to know what tomorrow brings, and I can't wait to see it.

On these days when the world does NOT end .. wow!  I'm really pleased about this.  I actually bought the movie 2012 to see what it might look like, and discovered that the first part is much more interesting than the last part.