Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bedbugs and Bean Leaves...

A long-established home remedy for bedbugs is to spread bean leaves around.  The bedbugs collect on the bean leaves and get stuck.  Then you just throw the bean leaves away, or burn them. 

Scientists have known about this home remedy for a long time.  Unlike many such remedies, this one actually works, and is well-documented.  Annoyingly, scientists couldn't figure out why it worked, and therefore could not devise an technology to make use of the same technique – any time of year, any where they had bedbugs.

Now they've figured out why, and the story is fascinating.  See here and here for details and photos.  Bean leaves are using the same technique that pikemen used to attack armored knights: aim for the greaves!

Looks Like We've Passed the Sunspot Peak...

It looks like we've passed the sunspot number peak for this cycle, and it was a lot lower than even the revised NOAA forecast:

Fewer sunspots means lower solar irradiance, something that (according to observational history, but not climate models) is closely correlated with colder climate.  We've had a colder-than-usual winter.  It will be interesting to see what our weather is like for the next 5 or 6 years, as this cycle progresses...

California: Trying to Set a Record for Speed of Decline...

That thing we call “health insurance” doesn't much resemble actual insurance any more.  The piling on of state mandates makes the problem even worse.  California is considering yet another new mandate: coverage for treatment of infertility, including things like artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, etc.

That doesn't sound all that surprising; just another way to redistribute some wealth (we'll all end up paying for those couples who need infertility treatments).  But there's a twist to the California law: its definition of infertility is very carefully written: it says that any couple who has active sex for a year without producing a pregnancy is by definition infertile.  Any couple.  Including homosexual couples.

So the effect of this new mandate (if passed) would be to allow any gay or lesbian couple who wanted a kid to have the entire tab for “infertility treatments” be picked up by the rest of us.

Every time I think that our California legislators have found every possible way to demonstrate their craziness, they prove me wrong.  They've done it again.

We gotta get outta here...

Progressive Narrative Oopsie!

The current progressive-driven efforts for gun control are predicated on the assumption that restricting high-capacity magazines would reduce violent crime.  Gun owners in general find that notion risible.  Progressives find that notion compelling.  Who would really know?

Well, how about the police who are on the ground fighting violent crime?  Seems like they'd know more than your average progressive or gun nut.  What do they think?  Oops:

I'm sure the progressives will have their 47 reasons why police are unreliable information sources for this issue.  The percentage is telling, though.  Damned few police think this is a good idea.

Much more, and the internals, here...

Quote of the Day...

From the one and only James Delingpole:
Should Michael Mann be given the electric chair for having concocted arguably the most risibly inept, misleading, cherry-picking, worthless and mendacious graph – the Hockey Stick – in the history of junk science?

Should George Monbiot be hanged by the neck for his decade or so's hysterical promulgation of the great climate change scam and other idiocies too numerous to mention?

Should Tim Flannery be fed to the crocodiles for the role he has played in the fleecing of the Australian taxpayer and the diversion of scarce resources into pointless projects like all the eyewateringly expensive desalination plants built as a result of his doomy prognostications about water shortages caused by catastrophic anthropogenic global warming?

It ought to go without saying that my answer to all these questions is – *regretful sigh* – no. First, as anyone remotely familiar with the zillion words I write every year on this blog and elsewhere, extreme authoritarianism and capital penalties just aren't my bag. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it would be counterproductive, ugly, excessive and deeply unsatisfying.

Some Nostalgia for You...

Via reader Simi L.:

20 Photos that Change the Holocaust Narrative...

A collection of 20 powerful images related to the Holocaust, including the one below depicting Holocaust survivors at the very moment they realize they're being liberated.

Every time I try to imagine myself in the place of the Jews in Nazi Germany, my imagination fails.  It fails again here; I dissolve into tears just trying...

More here...

FJ Mods: Projects Always Expand...

There's a pattern in the FJ modification projects I'm undertaking – they always seem to expand into bigger, more complicated projects than I initially expected them to be.

A current project provides a great example.  I'm installing a CB radio.  How hard could that be?  It's a small box with two wires coming out the back (power and antenna).  Easy, right?


Where do I mount the thing?  In the cramped interior of an FJ, there's really only one place that we liked: on the ceiling, in the middle of the car (between the driver and passenger).  That way we can both use it, and it's out of the way of both us and the airbags.

That means I have to take the headliner out (the “headliner” is the fuzzy-coated plastic piece over your head when you're sitting in an FJ).  It was not obvious how to do that, so I bought temporary access to the online shop manual to find out.  The good news: one can remove the headliner with just the tools I already owned (one slightly special tool is involved: one that makes it easy to pop off the special fasteners used on many interior parts).  The bad new: removing the headliner requires first removing most of the interior of the FJ – something like 50 plastic and metal parts.  That took an entire day.

The antenna is mounted on the rear door hinge.  That means the antenna wire has to be routed through the rear door – and that means the rear door has to be disassembled.  Compared to the headliner, that's easy – but still, that took another hour.

Then I discovered that there's a 1.5" gap between the headliner and the actual metal roof.  I could fill that gap easily with a piece of 2x4, but how do I fasten the 2x4 to the roof?  Some research gave me the answer: install powerful magnets in the top of the 2x4 piece, and use glue.  The magnets act like a clamp to hold the piece to the roof, so I don't need to make any holes in the roof.

It took me nearly a day to route the antenna wire just 12 feet.  First I had to get it through the door, which is accessible only through an awkward hole.  Then I had to route the cable through a pre-existing rubber “boot” that holds all the other wires going to the door.  Naturally, that boot is almost full of wires, so snaking the antenna wire through there was a challenge.  Then I had to route it around all the bits of framework and around the side “curtain” airbag mechanisms, attach it to the roof, and get it over to where the CB radio would be mounted.  All of this work was overhead – not my favorite :)

Then I needed power to the CB.  The radio came with a 6' long power cable, with an inline fuse holder just 8" from the radio.  A fuse holder under the headliner seemed like a really bad idea – I'd have to disassemble the FJ just to check the fuse!  Plus the 6' cable wasn't nearly long enough – it's 10' just to get under the dashboard.

Where do I get power from under the dash?  More research in the online shop manual convinced me that I really didn't want to even try that; it was better to be in the engine compartment, so I'd have a place to mount a “real” fuse holder.  That means 14' of cable.  The original power cable is 28 gauge copper, just barely big enough to give an acceptable voltage drop at 6'; too small for 14'.  So I upped it to 14 gauge (overkill, but cheap), spliced it right next to the connector that led into the radio, and routed the cable into the engine compartment.

Now I needed power.  That's easy, right?  Battery is right there!  But wait...I don't want the CB to work when the car is turned off; leaving it on accidentally might drain the battery.  I want power that's on only when the ignition is turned on.  But that doesn't exist within the engine compartment, at least, not in any obvious way.  Back to the shop manual.  It turns out that there are two places I can find power that's switched by the ignition: one for the ignition coils, and one for the fuel injectors.  However...both of them are fused for just their intended purpose, not for my CB.  So I need a relay that turns on and off with the ignition coils, and a circuit that senses the ignition coil power without drawing any significant current from it.  That's something I might want for other purposes as well, so I fused the relay input for 30 amps, and I put a secondary 3 amp fuse in for the CB.  The engine compartment is starting to get a lot of wires :)

And that's all just for the CB!  I have a bunch of electrical projects to do: CB, roof-mounted headlights, dual battery system, 2KW inverter, and the on-board air compressor.  I'm quite likely to have other things down the road as well.  So all the under-the-hood stuff I built to be easily modified and extended – but of course that adds even more work.

Projects are ever-expanding...

More on Margaret Thatcher...

A couple items:

Althouse on Rush Limbaugh, who called Margaret Thatcher “One of the greatest Americans quote, unquote I've ever met”.

Margaret Thatcher's 19 most badass moments, including this one (watch it to the very end, it's short):

Oh, how I long for American politicians at the national level with such fervently held beliefs!