Bought and paid for

forwarded without comment:

SUPREME COURT The Supreme Court has tossed out a lawsuit that accused two oil companies of inflating gasoline prices by at least a (b) billion dollars.

Justices unanimously ruled gas distributors didn’t prove ChevronTexaco and Shell violated antitrust laws. The joint venture started in 1998 and ended four years ago.
In the court’s decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the companies had a legal partnership. And he said the joint venture’s pricing decisions don’t “fall within the narrow category of activity” that’s illegal.
Distributors filed a class-action lawsuit in California accusing the oil companies of using the partnership to fix gasoline prices. The suit said the move broke antitrust provisions of the Sherman Act.

Is it redneck in here? Or is it just me?

Between the incessant nattering about cars and engines and pictures of my bird dogs comes e p o n y m o u s’ condemnation of canned hunting and defense of regular old huntin’ and fishin’.

On a more personal note I’d like to add that while I’ve never hunted, I did grow up fishing with my grandpa. I love fishing and I love eating and preparing fish so spending a few hours on the lake was always a relaxing prequel to a delicious meal.

Are you sure that we’re actually liberal blogs?

Oh, right. We irrationally hate the least popular president since Nixon. We must be UNHINGED LATTÉ DRINKING COASTAL ELITE METROSEXUALS….

Dodge Day Afternoon

Here is the text of a post I made on the Mopar web board I use. I mentioned (I think) half of my regular readers in it… so I thought I would bring it here so you guys could see your names in lights…

[snip]
The Sludge Strikes Back:

Several people on the Mopar web board responded and introduced me to the concept of “short-tripping,” and told me that it was likely that there was plenty of carbon goo up in the intake.

Today I spoke to Mike the Mechanic and he laughed and laughed and repeated some words back to me that I said when I was drooling over the Dart, like “It’s a gen-u-wine little old lady car! She barely drove it!” etc….

SO, I have been obsessing about how to get that goo out of there. Two suggestions (of several) have caught my attention:

1. the slow but sure method: Frequent oil changes for a while, new hotter plugs, some frequent long drives to get the heat up. Clean oil will gradually get some of the sludge out of the case and sound maintenance practices should wear away at some of the impaction.

2. the sorta goofy but kind of fun method: Two guys I respect suggested using steam- one said lift the air cleaner off, turn the idle screw until the motor is running at about 1800 rpm, then mist some water over the intake, it will suck in the water, combustion will turn it to steam and melt the carbon deposits away. (Hi, Fixer!) Seems reasonable. Here’s my favorite variation on that idea:
Mike said we should rinse out an antifreeze bottle, put about half a gallon of water in it, then drop one end of a vacuum hose in it with an aquarium aerator on the end. Place the bottle in front of the passenger seat. Cut a hole in the lid of the bottle, and slip the running end of the hose to it. Attach the running end of the hose to the main vacuum port on the back of the carb. Crimp the hose with a pair of tiny vice grips, and go for a drive. On downhills, where the accelerator is not needed (and vacuum is peaking), uncrimp the hose by releasing the vice grips. This will pull water into the combustion chamber, aerosolize it into tiny droplets, which will be converted to steam (lots of it, since the vacuum going downhill is plenty strong) and the steam will force the carbon out of the tail pipe. Repeat until water in the bottle is gone, or all the beverages in car are gone. Sounds like a pleasant enough way to spend this coming Sunday afternoon, right?

Other suggestions that came along were “Run 1/4 quart of Dextron ATF in with each of the oil changes. It has dispersants that will push some of that stuff along.” (Hi, Gordon!) You guys have any thoughts on that?

How would you de-carbon-ize your top end?

-Patrick[/snip]

Everyone said something we already know- “You’re getting good advice from your buddies. Do what they tell you.”

Duh, I knew that.

A couple of guys suggested Sea Foam, too. Might do that after the steam to get the residuals out. I am running the 1/4 qt of Dextron today. I drove the 17 miles to work with it in there, and I will drive home, drop the old oil and put in fresh at lunch and put on fresh filters.

I am starting to daydream about finding myself a Plymouth Satellite and putting a performance package in it. ;-)

Annoy the NSA

I don’t know how familiar you might be with PGP. A brief history can be found here.

Essentially, PGP is bulletproof encryption for your web communications. It’s .gov strength message security for everyday folks. There was a big stink back in 1997 or so, when the NSA lobbied congress to ban it, and back then you used to have to go through all sorts of hoops to download it, including having to promise that you weren’t living in Afghanistan. Also, the creator of PGP was harassed by the government and threatened with jail time:

Shortly after its release, PGP found its way outside the US, and in February 1993 Zimmermann became the formal target of a criminal investigation by the US Government for “munitions export without a license”. Cryptosystems using keys larger than 40-bits were then considered munitions within the definition of the US export regulations; PGP has never used keys smaller than 128 bits so it qualified at that time. Penalties for violation, if found guilty, were substantial. The investigation of Zimmermann was eventually closed without filing criminal charges against him or anyone else.

The attempts by Congress to ban the product failed, and then some company bought the rights to what had (up to that point) been free and readily available (coincidence?).

In December, 1997 PGP Inc. was acquired by Network Associates, Inc. Zimmermann and the PGP team became NAI employees. NAI continued to pioneer export through software publishing, being the first company to have a legal export strategy by publishing source code. Under its aegis, the PGP team added disk encryption, desktop firewalls, intrusion detection, and IPsec VPNs to the PGP family. After the export regulation liberalizations of 2000 which no longer required publishing of source, NAI stopped releasing source code, over the PGP team’s objection. There was consternation amongst PGP users worldwide at this and, inevitably, some conspiracy theories as well.
In early 2001, Zimmermann left NAI. He served as Chief Cryptographer for Hush Communications, who provide an OpenPGP-based email service, Hushmail. He has also worked with Veridis and other companies.
In October, 2001, NAI announced that its PGP assets were for sale and that it was suspending further development of PGP. The only remaining asset kept was the PGP E-Business Server (the original PGP Commandline). In February 2002, NAI cancelled all support for PGP, with the exception of the re-named commandline product. NAI (now McAfee) continues to sell and support the product under the name McAfee E-Business Server.

Suddenly you had to pay for it, and then it was never ported to OS X (as far as I am aware) and it sort of fell off of my radar.

Recently, I discovered the GnuPG project.

There is an OS X port and a plug-in for Mail.app.

Here is a Windows tutorial. You should all be using it, especially you retired mil. guys who oppose the war, since you’re the Voice of Credibility on this Iraq thing, and you know that the Bushistas have it in for you. You know who you are.

My public key can be downloaded here. (right-click, “save as…” then Import into the GPG key manager.)

Just do it. I wanna see some encrypted emails before the end of the day.

Well, then.

I seldom do this, but I am reposting a comment on someone else’s weblog in its entirety here, because it’s just so damn spot-on. You can go here to TBogg’s and see it in its original context.

I am going to repost a comment left for Vodkapundit on his blog, because he might delete it:

I’ve spent 17 months in Iraq, working for the CPA in 03-04 and on reconstruction contracts for a couple of tours since. I probably am a “liberal” by your definition, and a retired reserve officer.

I’m in Iraq now, Green Zone Baghdad. I was listening to mortar fire yesterday afternoon. They (Sunnis? Ba’athists? someone else?) were shelling the neighborhood of one of my Iraqi co-workers, I later learned. I’m waiting for him to come into work now, he’s usually very early.

Not to mention whether we have to worry how, if the shit really hits the fan here, we are going to get out. The helicopter-off-of-the-roof-of-the-embassy theme is a recurrent mordant joke here.

Of course, this is the fruit of this undermanned and underresourced war, always on the razor’s edge of ruin, while Rumsfeld and Bush spout their happy horseshit. The thing is, it could have gone so much better with competent people in charge who followed the Weinberger and Powell doctrines, rather than the marginal and disorganized effort this has been from the beginning. I’ve always said one of the problems with this is that it is run by people whose philosophy is anti-goverment, and it is a situation where government is needed. They are not like the New Dealers who helped rebuild Europe and Japan. But hey, “stuff happens.”

Yes, I know that you might agree with me on that, but why not place the blame where it lies, instead of talking about how civil war might be a good thing.

The idea that some people might find your schadenfreude about an incipient civil war “insult[ing] or inflam[ing]” does not seem to occur to you.

You, apparently a military age male, follow that post with one talking about how much fun paintball is. Yes, shooting as a game, your fun war metaphor.

I suggest you apply for a direct commission in Army Reserve Civil Affairs, they need people desperately. You might also be able to get a job with a contractor on one of the reconstruction projects, maybe the new Regional Reconstruction Teams. Then you might learn that this shit is in earnest, not some parlor word game.

Posted by: Green Zone Cafe at February 27, 2006 01:52 AM

I don’t know what I could add to that.

Question of the (yester)Day

La Hermana de Shakespeare has the following question of the day from yesterday:

A twist on the old Actors’ Studio question about what one hopes god would say upon one’s arrival in heaven. Instead, “If there is a god, what would you say to him/her when you arrive?”

That’s easy, if a little sad, for me:

“My dogs are all here, right? Because if not, I want to go where they are.”

Being right would be more fun if thousands of people weren’t dying

and the planet wasn’t going to shit and the anti-sex cretins hadn’t taken over South Dakota.

But there’s a least a grim chuckle in the Nation’s recap of “David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend, a traditional gathering of the right-wing tribes” by Marc Cooper:

But here’s the serious part: there’s a lot of fear and trembling going on among Republicans. A rich sampler from this weekend’s panel discussions:

Conservative Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake: He pleaded with fellow conservatives to take the high road of liberalized immigration reform in the escalating debate and not go down the immigrant-bashing path. “I encourage Republicans to not repeat what happened in California in 1994,” he said referring to GOP support for Prop 187. “It works for one cycle and then you pay a price for a decade.”

Former Congressman Pat Toomey, current head of The Club for Growth: “We have to acknowledge we have a President who is not popular… The war in Iraq is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room and a major downturn could drown anything we do… We won in 1994 because we promised small government and going into the 2006 elections this is key idea we have abandoned.”

They’ve made this bed, and it’s not so comfortable, I am guessing. However, like I said, I’d be happier about it if it hadn’t come at such a ghastly price.

Hat tip, btw, to Agent Little Bird.

Dart Story #6

So I spent the day dinking with it. I took a two foot length of vacuum hose, hooked it to the back of the choke pull-off and sucked on it. It was working just fine, and held a seal, so I guess the diaphragm in that is intact.

As you may recall, yesterday I disconnected the choke, and the choke plate was perpendicular to the top of the block. All lean, no fat, y’know. So, when I tried to crank it this morning, nada. Nothing. Not gonna start with no choke when cold, no way. Starter fluid elicited a good 30 seconds of running, then once that ran out, nothing.

So, last night this guy on one of the Mopar boards I go to for advice offered to send me a choke thermostat! It should be here by the end of next week… I can drive it with the choke on until it’s warm, then disconnect it when it’s running well. No big deal, just put a bag of twist ties in the glove box, etc, right?

Well, that just didn’t sit right with me, so I went and got the can of carb cleaner and a toothbrush and went to work. I sprayed and scrubbed all the linkages for the t-stat, and went ahead and got after the rest of the carb, as well. I drove it about ten miles, came home, lifted the air cleaner can off, and the choke was still closed. I checked to see if the t-stat was articulating at all, and it felt fine- the spring felt springy and the whole assembly seemed in good shape.

Then I remembered what someone at the Mopar board had said…

You will also need to make sure manifold heat valve is working and passage in intake manifold is not blocked with carbon. Manifold area around choke spring should get too hot to touch after only a couple minutes.

I pulled the t-stat off and the little bowl underneath, and underneath was the nastiest ball of crud you have seen in your cotton-pickin’ life. Oh, man, that was some nasty stuff. I started scooping it out with a flathead screwdriver and throwing it away. It was a golfball sized wad of black crud, studded with those Yoohoo-colored globs of water/oil/carbon you see on your dipstick when your head gasket is gone.

Here’s what I think happened: This Dart was a little old lady car. It has 79k original on it, and I bet it was hardly ever driven over 40mph. (It has some “parking by braille” scars on it, too.) I doubt she ever got it warm enough to really blast all the moisture out of the block (and, and the main thermostat was bad, too, when i got it, so it was running cold all the time until I replaced that) or even for the choke to shut off. All that carbon has been building up in there for 30 years. I am afraid to pull the plugs, now, and see how carbon fouled they are…

I dug and I dug down into that crap until I got to the bottom, then stole some Q-Tips from the wife’s makeup table, soaked them with carb cleaner and rooted around in the manifold heat valves. (There must be a better tool for this….) Once I had gotten it as clean as it was gonna get, I put the t-stat assembly back together, cranked it and let it run while I cleaned up my tools. Sure enough, after about ten minutes, the base of the t-stat was too hot too touch, and the choke was slowly starting to open.

I think we’ve turned a corner, here, gentlemen.

I think, if that guy sends me the other t-stat, I will go ahead and replace it, because it never did seem to get the choke plate as lean as I thought it should be once it was warm, but at least I think I tackled the root of the problem.

I only called Mike about six times today, which I hope he didn’t find too annoying. Mike, if your reading this, there’s another dinner in this for you.

It’s been a good day, with some interesting discoveries. I really like dinking with this Dart.

I also spent way too much time trying to put an oversized oil plug in Mrs. Dog’s Honda today, which was not much fun. At all. And it’s still not right enough to suit me. Those Honda oil pans are fucking shitty.

Fixer, I am going to look into that Edelbrock carb/intake combo after I fix dinner. I will let you know what I find out.

Dart Story #5

Mrs. Dog and I were headed into Athens today to do a little running around. Errands (we’re making red beans and rice tomorrow, so we had to go buy some boudin, and I wanted to run buy a carburetor rebuild kit for the Dart, etc) and we came to the 1st traffic light on 441, whereupon the Dart idled down to a halt and wouldn’t start again. It has done this more than once on cold, wet days, and today was the coldest and the wettest….

I pushed it to the side of the road, stood on the accelerator and kept cranking it until it started. This is the same symptom that I earlier took to mean “bad fuel sending unit” because it happened at just under a quarter of a tank, and it mimics the behavior of a car that has run out of gas. However, today I knew I had a nearly full tank.

After cranking it for a very long time with the pedal on the floor, it finally buh-buh-buh-buhrumbled back to life. Mrs. Dog said “Let’s take it home,” and I said “Nah, it does this every now and then, and then it runs ok after that.”

And it does, but she was skeptical.

I realized it was getting late, so we went straight to the NAPA store, and I told the guy there (a transplant from Long Island, by the way, which is where I guess all the best mechanics come from) that I needed a rebuild kit, and he said “What’s the number on the carb?”

I said “2 barrel Carter factory for a V-8 318, and that’s all I know.”

This (as readers Fixer, Gordon, Darren and Mike -but not me- know) is not enough information. He asked me if the car was there, and I told him it was, and we went outside. Now remember that this is minutes before closing time, and we pulled the air-filter can off so that he could look at the carburetor, whereupon he said “Oh, shit, pal. Your choke is stuck closed.” And so it was.

Talk about your forehead-slapping moments. How many things does this explain…? Let me count the ways: 1. The rough idle, conking out at stoplights in the morning? check. 2. Running rich? check. 3. Bad fuel economy? check. 4. Flooding out? check. 5. Strong gasoline smell/gas on the outside of the carb? check (This means that the carb and the fuel sending unit are both probably fine. That’s a savings of almost $150 AND all of my Sunday.)

So, it needs a new choke thermostat. I was told this would be very hard to find and very expensive, so the nice guy at NAPA just disconnected the choke, used a zip tie to hold the choke plate in the open position, told me to give it a little extra gas before starting it in the morning, and he told me to start hunting for the thermostat. It ran better as soon as I cranked it. I mean, the car already ran pretty well, but now it’s running like a freaking CHAMP. (And, to Mrs. Dog’s delight, we discovered that it’s got a HECK of a lot more pep. Not that we tested this too thoroughly with the streets full of rain and traffic, but we did do a nice zero-to-sixty on the way home.)

He also told me to check and see if I needed to replace the choke pull-off. At this point, I thought, “How do I tell him I don’t know what that is?” I just didn’t. I ordered a Chilton’s manual off of eBay today. Nine bucks, ppd! Two mechanics both recommended the Haynes manuals (and one friend recommended against- sorry, Ben, I had to go with the mechanics) but I couldn’t find a Haynes book for the V-8 Dart, only the V-6. I imagine I will discover the secrets of the choke pull-off in the Chiltons book, if I don’t find out in the comments here.

Additionally, I found a choke thermostat for my car on eBay, as well. The auction ends in two days, and I will most assuredly buy it, UNLESS you guys think I should buy a manual choke kit instead and install that. Opinions?

I can answer this one, professor Black!!

Atrios sez:

Still, when/if the time comes it’ll be incumbent on journalists figure out how to respond to such actions by the Bush administration. America’s Most Famous Journalist, Bob Woodward, is in a prime position to take the lead. As a recipient of classified information from the top levels of the Bush administration he’s the one who is uniquely able to get on TV and call bullshit. Will he?

Er….

Lemme shake the Magic Eight Ball here….

Let’s see, it says “FUCK NO.”