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Archive for November, 2012

November 28th, 2012

I Suppose Repacking The Bearing Greese Isn’t An Option…

Walking up the front steps to Casa del Garrett I hear the familiar sound of my shoes crunching over spent shells from one of my bird feeders.  Crunch, crunch, crunch…up the steps, then into the house.  Once inside, I start up the steps to the second floor.  I notice the crunching sound is still happening.  I take the steps a little slower and listen carefully.  Crunch, crunch, crunch…

The sound is coming from my right knee, which has been feeling a little stiff lately.  Oh Foo.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Suppose Repacking The Bearing Greese Isn’t An Option…


Feelings. Hungry, Hungry Feelings…

“Here’s what we know about life. I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it. Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right. Not everything natural is good for me. Arsenic is natural.”Rick Warren

Hate is natural.  Prejudice is natural.  Who to hate is learned, but the capacity to hate is there, deep in the ancient pit within the human consciousness.  We all carry the history of millions of years of life on earth within us every moment of our day.  Tribalism is natural to us.  To be afraid of the alien other, and to hate them, is natural to us.  Blind obedience to the alpha leader is natural to us.   The unthinking, bloodthirsty mob is in our blood.  But so is love, so is kindness to the stranger, so is curiosity, and the yearning for truth and meaning.  We are, by nature, civilization destroyers, but also civilization builders.   The mindless beast is within us all.  The good person is the one who will not unleash it within themselves, or in others.   Do you want to be that good person Rick, or do you want to feed the beast?  Every moment of your day Rick, it’s one or the other.

You’re right Rick.   Just because you have feelings that does not make them right.   What makes them right, or makes them profoundly evil, is how your feelings translate into acts.  Do you help your neighbor in this life, or do you let the beast eat them?  Who is your neighbor Rick?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Feelings. Hungry, Hungry Feelings…

November 27th, 2012

Love

I have saved every love note @AnneWheaton has ever given me, because she’s my favorite.

It’s a wonderful thing, love. At least, I figure it must be…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Love


Breakfast Club Memory…

So I’m sitting here in front of Bagheera, my art room computer, listening to old Don McNeaill “Breakfast Club” radio shows.  And listening I think to myself that the first childhood you get is always your parent’s childhood. Eventually you grow a bit older and you join your generation in its childhood. But the very early years of childhood are always your parent’s childhood, because that’s the one they had and that’s the one they try to give you, and my preschool one in the 1950s even though we had a TV in the house, was mostly a radio childhood and I fondly remember the Breakfast Club.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Breakfast Club Memory…


The Shock You Never Forget, That Changes Everything

On Twitter…

Atrios ‏@Atrios basically my whole life path can be explained by the fact that a girl refused to kiss me when we were playing spin the bottle in 8th grade

Possibly he’s being a bit ironic there, but it’s true that time in your life looms larger than all the rest of it combined.  Objects are closer than they appear…as the rear view mirror warns.

I had my share, and maybe a bit more than my share, of middle school shocks, but I’m somewhat grateful I managed to escape that humiliation in grade school because playing that game with the other boys was not an option back in 1968.  I say somewhat because living in a world where I could have played that game with the other boys might have left me better able to cope with adulthood, even allowing for a slap in the face like the one Duncan Black got once upon a time.  But by 8th grade I was already a pretty disconnected little guy.

My life changing shock didn’t happen until the summer after I graduated.  More on that as A Coming Out Story unfolds…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Shock You Never Forget, That Changes Everything


Small

This just came across my Twitter stream…

Joseph Weisenthal ‏@TheStalwart There’s no empirical evidence or theoretical basis for arguing that cutting taxes is a means towards smaller government.

After the recent revaluations from former Florida GOP members that all that talk about voter fraud was itself fraud, you’d think people would finally stop listening to the rhetoric, and pay more attention to the behavior.

Yes, yes…they yap about “smaller government all the firggin’ time, but you need to understand what is meant in the first place by “smaller government”. It was never about reducing its staffage or its costs. Size is a relative matter.

What they’re talking about isn’t size, it’s power…specifically the power of the federal, not state level government. They want it small enough it can’t enforce equal rights laws. They want it small enough it can’t stop Wall Street and big corporations from raping the middle class. They want it small enough it cannot defend the rights of women, minorities, the poor, and the powerless. That is all that was ever meant by the term, “small government”.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Small

November 24th, 2012

The Stupid…It Is…Amazing…

So we had this old Cary Grant classic Room for One More on in the background this afternoon and I just heard Robert Osborne explain that after an earlier broadcast the network had been inundated by angry viewers demanding to know why they cut the word God from the pledge of allegiance in the movie.
Digby

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Stupid…It Is…Amazing…


Sometimes The Shock Will Be Genuine…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sometimes The Shock Will Be Genuine…

November 23rd, 2012

Let’s Celebrate The Year End Holidays By Making Ourselves Miserable…

…standing in long lines to get into shopping malls and stores for phantom bargains and dog piling on this year’s must-have gift, getting pissed off at everyone around us, cursing and maybe even take a few swings at complete strangers, driving through massive traffic jams, spending hours hunting for a parking space, tempting traffic accident fate on highways full of drivers too busy worrying about their shopping lists to pay attention to the traffic around them, generally raising blood pressure and sulking angrily at home because you couldn’t find what you were looking for Anywhere, because the holidays are a time of peace on earth good will toward all…

A piston engine…I looked Everywhere and they were all sold out..!

I started seeing people posting on Facebook and Twitter last night about the long lines in shopping malls. Are you people nuts? Never mind the relentless consumerism…how do you plan on enjoying the holiday season when you’re getting wound up tighter than a watch spring fighting crowds and traffic???

Buy your gifts online. That’s what I’ve done for years now because I decline to make myself miserable in holiday feeding frenzies.  I Hate Crowds. And from what I’m reading, everyone else does too.  So I have a question: why do all of you keep doing this to yourselves?  This is Peace On Earth Goodwill Toward Everyone time, not Work Yourself Into A Frustrated Temper Tantrum time.

Relax.  Kick back.  It’s the end of the year.  Time to reflect on life…all the things you have to be thankful for…and all the people you love.  Sit down at your computer…we’ve all got one these days…and browse the online catalogs.  There are tons.  It’s nothing new, just a new twist on an old Christmas tradition…the wish catalog.  When I was a boy there were these big phone book sized catalog things people ordered from by mail.  And every year we got mail ordered stuff from relatives, along with the usual Christmas packages.  What the magical wonderful computer does for us 21st century people is put all those catalogs right at our fingertips!  Think of it…every catalog you ever wanted to browse…there.  And you can fill out your order, specify gift wrapping and a nice card to go with it, pay and you’re done.  All from the comfort an convenience of your own home!  You can shop in your pajamas even!  And things still come in the mail just like they did when you were a kid.  Your loved ones will be just as delighted.

A little less traffic might make the holidays nicer….just saying.  Seriously…this is a time of year to remember how good life is, and how wonderful that we are human beings, and not sharks all piled together in a feeding frenzy.

   

[Update…]  Kevin Drum does a little digging and discovers the origin of the term “Black Friday” really is as dark as you’d expect from just hearing it and not knowing it’s supposed to mean the day retail sales go into the black (profitable) zone.

…all the evidence points in one direction. The term originated in Philadelphia in the 50s or earlier and wasn’t in common use in the rest of the country until decades later. And it did indeed refer to something unpleasant: the gigantic Army-Navy-post-Thanksgiving day crowds and traffic jams, which both retail workers and police officers dreaded. The retail industry originally loathed the term, and the whole “red to black” fairy tale was tacked on sometime in the 80s by an overcaffeinated flack trying to put lipstick on a pig that had gotten a little too embarrassing for America’s shopkeepers.

Another success in the annals of public relations…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Let’s Celebrate The Year End Holidays By Making Ourselves Miserable…

November 22nd, 2012

Naked

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Which is probably why some gay men of my generation stick to casual sex…why the advice I constantly, reliably get from gay friends of my generation and older, about my chronic loneliness is to just go out and get laid.  It’s the cure that’s worked for them for so much of their own lives.  But for some of us that would only make it worse.

You can work your way past shame and self loathing.  Getting yourself to a place where you can trust another person…intimately…after so many years right when you’re so very young, being emotionally battered and bruised by your own family…your own parents…friends…that’s a lot harder.  Nearly impossible for some.  For some gay folk of my generation, it will always be a time before Stonewall…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Naked

November 21st, 2012

B20

A letter I just mailed off to Mercedes-Benz USA…

November 21, 2012

Customer Assistance
Mercedes Benz USA
P.O. Box 350
Montvale, New Jersey 07645

Dear Sir or Madam;

Last December I traded in my 2008 C300 for a 2012 E350 Bluetec. I’d wanted a Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan since I was a teenager, and I have been delighted to own this car ever since I drove it off my dealer’s lot.

One important reason I have wanted to own a diesel is I enjoy taking long, cross-country road trips. The longevity and fuel economy of a diesel was very attractive to me for this purpose. Already I have put nearly twenty-three thousand miles on my E350, mostly from driving up and down the east coast from Baltimore to Florida, the Keys and back. The car is a pure pleasure to drive over long distances.

I have been planning to give my car its first trip to California around Christmas to visit family. But now I have grave concerns about driving this car across the midwest. Recently I learned the corn growing states in the midwest have decided to make biodiesel in grades above that allowed in my car more widely available. I have read that in the state of Illinois for example, due to changes in their tax code that make it more economically attractive, B20 is now almost all there is for sale at diesel pumps.

This is alarming to me. I understand, and you have made it perfectly clear, that this grade of biodiesel will void my car’s warranty. Even were the car out of warranty however, my intention is to always follow Mercedes guidelines as to maintenance and service intervals. This is my dream come true car and I am going to take care of it. If B20 is all that is available to me in the mid-western USA, then that would make it nearly impossible to drive this car to California from Maryland, let alone drive around all the backroads and scenic highways of the midwest just to see what’s there. And if this situation spreads to other states, especially along the east coast, I may end up unable to drive the car anywhere, other than locally, and then only so long as regular diesel or biodiesel no greater then B5 remains available to me somewhere I know I can get it.

I am reading that biodiesel advocates say consumers should not be worried about the spread of B20 because, as they put it, all domestic makers of diesel engines have approved it for use. That may be true, but as I understand it those are all makers of trucks and truck engines. There are currently no domestic makers of diesel powered passenger cars, and as near as I can tell every company importing diesel passenger cars says that using biodiesel in percentages greater than B5 will void their warranties. So I fail to understand how they could implement these biodiesel policies not knowing they would profoundly impact drivers of diesel passenger vehicles.

I’m writing you specifically about a column I read in the Chicago Tribune while researching this problem online. The column, “Motor Mouth”, written by Bob Weber, on October 20 of this year, contained the following exchange:

Q: We recently purchased a BMW X5 diesel SUV. The manual states that that diesel fuel cannot be over five percent bio or the warranty would be voided. However, in Illinois about the only diesel fuel available is 11-20% bio. Also, we need a couple of Mercedes diesel Sprinter vans. The dealer stated that their mechanic said it was okay to use B11 to B20 bio fuel. When asked about their warranty they also said that Mercedes can void the warranty if you use over 5% bio fuel. Both the BMW and Mercedes dealers say its okay to use 11 to 20% bio. However, when we asked them if BMW or Mercedes would agree to honor the warranty they both said no. Fortunately, we didn’t by the Mercedes sprinter vans. However, we can’t understand how BMW can sell diesel cars in Illinois without disclosing the fuel is not readily available in Illinois. Do we have any recourse?
— G.H., Northbrook, Ill.

A: We contacted both BMW and Mercedes-Benz with your question. Although BMW has not yet responded, a spokesman for Mercedes said that valued customers will be “…taken care of for any unforeseen technical challenges that may or may not occur in a variety of cases or scenarios.” In other words, if anything happens to your diesel engine, it will be handled. Frankly, we would be surprised if any carmaker’s service department would go through the trouble of analyzing the fuel used.

This does not sound right, so I decided to write you directly about it. Mr. Weber seems to be saying in his column that even though the owners manual on my car states that only B5 can be used, you have told him that owners of Mercedes-Benz Bluetec diesel automobiles need not worry about using it because if anything happens to the engine we will be “taken care of” and (his words) “it will be handled”. I suspect the handling of it consists of our paying the repair bill out of pocket because our warranty has been voided. I also suspect that determining whether engine or emissions control failure was caused by the use of biodiesel in concentrations greater than B5 would not take too much analyzing on the part of any trained Mercedes mechanic.

Please let me know whether Mr. Weber is giving an accurate account of Mercedes-Benz USA policy toward the use of B20 in its vehicles. Also, please let me know what Daimler is doing to address the problem that is developing here in the USA for customers of its diesel passenger vehicles. I appreciate that this is a situation is being forced on you, and your customers, by these midwestern states. But if this it spreads beyond them and nothing is done your customers may find themselves one day soon with wonderful and expensive automobiles that they cannot drive because they cannot find acceptable fuel for them, nor will they be able to trade them in for cars that they can fuel without worry because they will be worthless.

In the meantime, can I suggest Daimler, and perhaps the other diesel passenger car makers could join forces on this, make available either a web site or a directory of some sort with locations where drivers can find fuel that meets their car specifications? I realize the difficulty in maintaining one, but something that could be used while on the road would be very helpful. Currently the car’s navigation system can be set to only show diesel fueling stations, but that is all of them, including those that only sell B20.

Sincerely,

Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland 21211

The letter is more polite in its treatment of midwest corn state biodiesel advocates then I am inclined to be on this blog.  The level of dishonesty in their claims that B20 is nothing for consumers to worry about is stunning. You realize after reading it a for an extended period that they can get away with it because diesel powered passenger vehicles are not widely sold or used here in the U.S. compared to elsewhere in the world.  Most people hearing that all U.S. makers of diesel warrant their products for B20 won’t know that they’re just talking about truck makers. No U.S. company makes diesel powered passenger cars.  And people generally don’t know trucks are held to lower emissions standards then automobiles, so their engines don’t need the sort of emissions control equipment automobiles do.  Yes, B20 is fine to use in truck engines.  In passenger car diesel engines not so much.

But its reading Bob Weber’s columns on this matter that is especially infuriating. His slipperiness on the issue just oozes off the screen. In October 2011, a year ago as this problem was beginning to reach crisis levels in Illinois, Weber penned this fragrant piece of deception…

Q: All the gas stations in and around Chicago have switched in the past month or so from a biodiesel B5 to biodiesel B20. I understand that B20 fuel voids the engine warranties on Mercedes, Audi, BMW and VW vehicles. They all specify to use only an approved B5 diesel fuel. Some gas stations have even put up signage at the pump stating that fact. Now we find ourselves suddenly in a situation whereby there is no approved fuel available. So what are we diesel car owners supposed to do? — A.A., Chicago

A: Unless you plan to park your vehicle or drive around looking for B5 (5 percent biodiesel) or straight diesel fuel, you have no alternative but to use B20 (20 percent biodiesel). Engine manufacturers warranty the materials and workmanship of their engines. If there are problems caused by the fuel, they are the responsibility of the fuel supplier. That said, reputable fuel suppliers should stand behind their products and cover any fuel quality problems if they occur, states the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

According to the NBB, “Most major engine companies have stated formally that the use of blends up to B20 will not void their parts and workmanship warranties.” Several statements from the engine companies are available on the NBB website biodiesel.org.

Yes, yes…if the B20 a fuel supplier sells does not meet its specifications or is contaminated it is that fuel supplier’s responsibility.  But if it meets all the relevant specifications of B20 and you put it in your car when the car maker is clearly telling you anything higher then B5 will void your warranty, the responsible party is you…more than likely to the tune of thousands of dollars if your engine or emissions system needs fixing because you used a grade of biodiesel your car was not engineered for.  And get that “Most major engine companies have stated formally that the use of blends up to B20 will not void their parts and workmanship warranties” crap.  Those are truck engines.  Every company making and selling diesel powered automobiles in the United States, Without Exception, is stating flatly that the use of B20 Will Void Their Warranties.

They’re even taking steps to make sure in some cases that their truck fleet customers understand it too

Q. I read Sunday’s article. I work for FedEx Express as a technician. We just went through 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (commercial truck/cargo van) training. We were told by the Mercedes-Benz boys that if you by a CDI (capacitor discharge ignition) diesel vehicle in Illinois you are required to sign an engine warranty waiver due to the fact you can’t buy B5 in Illinois. It’s worse in other states, Minnesota being one off the top of my head with B20 or higher biodiesel.

As usual the politicians in the corn states are dictating policy. No one really knows the ramifications of the ethanol additive. But apparently Mercedes-Benz is not willing to chance it.

Dig it.  Daimler, the world’s biggest manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses is making its customers here in the United States sign engine warranty wavers in at least one state.  How does Bob Weber, who writes for the Chicago Tribune, which last I heard was in Illinois, keep telling his readers that there is no problem, nothing to see here, move along?  One thing I am really keen to see is if Mercedes USA has a different story to tell about what they told Weber.  I strongly suspect there was more to that reply he got than he is saying.

And if you think this is only going to be a problem for us diesel car owners…think again…

E15 gas brings conflict to pumps

April 29, 2012 – 8:45 PM

A new blend of ethanol and gasoline may soon show up at the gas station pumps — along with mixed messages on whether it’s safe to put it in your vehicle.

Motorists driving up to pumps for the new, higher-ethanol “E15” will see government-mandated orange-and-black signs that say the new fuel blend is approved for use in all 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.

Two of the biggest carmakers offer puzzling or contrary messages, right on their gasoline caps. Toyota warns on its 2012 model gas caps not to use E15. Ford offers less-explicit advice.

“When you pull up to the pump it will say you can use this, and then you turn to your gas cap, it says you may not use this — it’s going to be very, very confusing,” said Bob Ebert, service director for Walser Automotive Group in the Twin Cities.

Toyota is now selling cars here in the U.S. with gas caps that look like this:

I appreciate that fossil fuel use is unsustainable in the long run and alternatives must be developed.  I appreciate that there will be difficulties going forward with that.  I’ve heard it said that the switch from fossil fuels to something else will be painful, but I think “painful” is the wrong word.  It will be a chore.  It will be work.  Fine.  All life is purposeful work.  We can handle this.  We will find the way forward.  But apart from automobile warranties and the purely engineering aspect of converting to higher grades of biofuels, there is the issue of turning farm land once used to grow food to the production of fuel instead. Last I heard, there were still hungry impoverished people here on planet earth, and taking land out of food production doesn’t strike me as a plan to fix that.

We don’t know yet what the long term alternatives to fossil fuels are.  Meanwhile corn states have used their local tax codes to make high levels of it cheaper than the motor fuels used elsewhere in the U.S. and in Europe, which is having the effect of making those fuels the only kind drivers in those states can put into their cars, whether or not their cars will actually run on them without long term damage.  That doesn’t seem to be concerning anyone in the corn state statehouses.  Eventually though it’s going to start alarming everyone else.

Stay tuned…the clown show is just getting started…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on B20

November 20th, 2012

Adding More Bullshit To Disguise The Stench Of Bullshit

The fall out, or if you will, belly flop into the gutter for Social Science Research, just keeps getting better

Social Science Research editor James Wright published the Regnerus study without benefit of valid peer review, for which reason many scholars are calling for the Regnerus study to be retracted and for James Wright to be removed from his position. (To read some of the calls for retraction of the Regnerus study, see here, here and here).In response to the criticism for having published Regnerus without valid peer review, editor James Wright published — in his November issue — a non-peer-reviewed defense of Regnerus by Walter Schumm, a Kansas State University sociologist who was a paid consultant on the Regnerus study…

And what credentials does Schumm bring to the table…?

Schumm has a long association with the discredited anti-gay pseudoscientist Paul Cameron. He is on the editorial board of Cameron’s fatuously-named Empirical Journal of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior.

Well there’s an authoritative voice if ever there was one!  I have a question.  How does a legitimate, self-respecting, peer reviewed journal of science look at the resumé of someone who sits on the editorial board of a Paul Cameron journal and conclude that person’s scientific judgement makes them fit to print in its pages?

Perhaps Social Science Research should ask Paul Cameron to sit on Its board…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adding More Bullshit To Disguise The Stench Of Bullshit


Lazy Bums On The Government Dole…

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…

This seems like beating on a dead horse…probably everyone knows by now that WalMart pays food stamp wages…but there’s a point here that needs constant hammering on.  If you like WalMart’s Low, Low Prices! fine…except WalMart workers are living on food stamps and probably other public support too, and that’s a large part of how WalMart keeps its prices down (another part is their pressure on companies to manufacture goods in low wage countries abroad, thereby costing American families their livelihoods and decimating this country’s industrial base).  So…the difference between what you paid for your WalMart goods and what they would actually cost if WalMart simply paid its workers a living wage is the part paid for by food stamps.  If you shop at WalMart, you are on the dole too.  Except you could probably afford not to be.

So who’s the lazy bum wanting a government handout here, because it isn’t the WalMart worker.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Lazy Bums On The Government Dole…

November 19th, 2012

Your Daily Motivational Message…

Via The Local – Germany…

‘Ice cream parlour killer’ chopped up two men

…She cried as she explained that she only chopped up his body with a chainsaw once it had started to decompose – and temporarily put the pieces in a freezer before taking them to the cellar and encasing them in concrete…

Something to tack onto my refrigerator to remind me not to get romantically involved with a married German…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Your Daily Motivational Message…

November 16th, 2012

Mercedes Love…Proceedure For Cats

Nice car…  Bluetec diesel is it…?

…I’m here to make sure its residual engine heat does not go to waste.  You’re welcome.

   

Won’t come near me or sit in My lap…oh noooo…but my car is obviously another story.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love…Proceedure For Cats

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