Posts tagged ‘BTW’

Thank God for Proxy Servers

Apparently, despite the fact that I spend a high monthly fee to HBO to be able to stream all their content, I cannot get the content I paid for when in France.  I have an account with Express VPN and it has always served me well.  I was able to log in via this VPN and was able to stream the most recent Game of Thrones episode.  I could have probably waited until I got home but the Internet seems to be filled with like 6 million spoilers.

BTW, unlike much of the most vocal Internet, I was totally fine with how the major character deaths were handled in the last episode.  I thought they were symbolically consistent with how those characters got to where they are.

At home I almost always surf through a proxy server, even though that means I have to endure endless identity confirmation tests from websites as they don't recognize my IP.

Diesel Emissions Cheating, Regulation, and the Crony State

One of my favorite correspondents, also the proprietor of the Finem Respice blog, sent me a note today about my article the other day about cheating on diesel emissions regulations.   The note covers a lot of ground but is well worth reading to understand the crony-regulatory state.  They begin by quoting me (yes, as I repeat so often, I understand that "they" is not grammatically correct here but we don't have a gender-neutral third person pronoun and so I use "they" and "their" as substitutes, until the SJW's start making me use ze or whatever.)

"My thinking was that the Cat, Cummins, and VW cheating incidents all demonstrated that automakers had hit a wall on diesel emissions compliance -- the regulations had gone beyond what automakers could comply with and still provide consumers with an acceptable level of performance."

Exactly. More importantly, the regulators KNEW it. I was researching energy shorts and had a ton of discussions with former regulatory types in the U.S. I was stunned to discover that there was widespread acknowledgement on the regulatory side that many regulations were impossible to comply with and so "compliance trump cards" were built into the system.

For instance, in Illinois you get favorable treatment as a potential government contractor if you "comply" with all sorts of insane progressive policy strictures. "Woman or minority owned business" or "small business owner", as an example. Even a small advantage in the contracting process for (for example) the State of Illinois puts you over the edge. Competitors without (for instance) the Woman or Minority Owned Business certification would have to underbid a certified applicant by 10-15% (it's all a complex points system) to just break even. It got so bad so quickly that the regs were revised to permit a de minimis ownership (1%). Of course, several regulatory lawyers quickly made a business out of offering minority or women equity "owners" who would take 1% for a fee (just absorb how backwards it is to be paying a fee to have a 1% equity partner) with very restrictive shareholder agreements. Then it became obvious that you'd get points for the "women" and "minority" categories BOTH if you had a black woman as a proxy 1% "owner." There was one woman who was a 1% owner of 320 firms.

Some of my favorites include environmental building requirements tied to government contract approval. The LEED certification is such a joke. There are a ton of "real" categories, like motion detecting lights, solar / thermal filtering windows, CO2 neutral engineering. But if you can't get enough of that, you can also squeeze in with points for "environmental education". For instance, a display in the lobby discussing the three solar panels on the roof, or with a pretty diagram of the building's heat pump system. You can end up getting a platinum LEED certification and still have the highest energy consumption density in the city of Chicago, as it turns out.

U.S. automakers have been just as bad. There's been a fuel computer "test mode" for emissions testing in every GM car since... whenever. Also, often the makers have gotten away with "fleet standards" where the MPG / emissions criteria are spread across the "fleet." Guess how powerful / "efficient" the cars that get sent to Hertz or Avis are.

Like so many other things in the crony capitalist / crudely protectionist United States, (e.g. banking prosecutions) foreign firms will get crucified for industry-wide practices.

Gee, I wonder if state-ownership of GM has been a factor in sudden acceleration / emissions prosecutions?

BTW, I wrote about the silliness of LEED certification here, among other places, after my local Bank of America branch got LEED certified, scoring many of their points by putting EV-only spaces (without a charger) in the fron of the building.  In a different post, I made this comparison:

I am not religious but am fascinated by the comparisons at times between religion and environmentalism.  Here is the LEED process applied to religion:

  • 1 point:  Buy indulgence for $25
  • 1 point:  Say 10 Our Fathers
  • 1 point:  Light candle in church
  • 3 points:  Behave well all the time, act charitably, never lie, etc.

It takes 3 points to get to heaven.  Which path do you chose?

My Speaker Project, and Thoughts on a Businesses Liability Kills

I am in the process of building some speakers for my home theater.  This is something I have never done before, but the idea has always intrigued me.  So much so I have actually played around with software and designed a lot of cabinets and crossovers, but never built them.  I am finally going to build an L-C-R for my home theater, and since they go behind my projection screen (the screen is perforated for sound transmission, just like in movie theaters) the pressure to produce flawless cabinetry is reduced significantly.  In fact they will probably be built out of raw MDF finished in black, though I will try to make them look nice just for the practice.

Anyway, one of the reasons I have put off this endeavor is that I do not own a some of the key tools, and do not have the space for these tools.  I have a nice router, belt sander, jig saw, etc.  but I do not have, and really don't have the space for, either a table saw or a drill press.

Which led me to wonder if folks had well-outfitted workshops that they lease out by the hour for such work.  After all, with a good plan in hand, I probably don't need more than an hour on a table saw to get what I need -- most of the project will be in routing the speaker holes and counter sinks, assembly, and sanding/finishing which I can do at home.

Of course, I could not find such a thing.  I could not even find a storage locker that would let me use it as a work shop.  Thinking about this, I am not surprised.   No matter what I get a customer to sign, now matter how well maintained the tools, if someone cuts their hand off using a tool in a stupid and careless way, there is likely going to be a jury somewhere that still wants to assign me liability.

My readers tend to be very nice about rushing to help -- I got about 10 emails offering to help me with my server migrations.  I turned them down because part of the point was to learn to do it myself, and my learning process tends to be by trial and error doing things myself.  Anyway, please do not offer me your shop -- I have found a local community college that allows its shop to be used after one has completed a training and familiarization course (which seems a reasonable precaution).

I am excited about getting started, and am just starting to accumulate the materials.  BTW, in case it becomes relevant to you in the future, a full 4x8 sheet of 3/4-inch MDF is really heavy.

Postscript: I will let you in on my secret ambition.  I really, really want to build a pair of line arrays, as much for their shear bad-ass looks as anything else.  Of course, my wife would freak and I am not sure where they would go in my house, but someday....