Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Pick-Up Line

Having already downed a few power drinks she turned around, faced him, looked him straight in the eye, and said, "Listen up good-looking, I screw anybody, any time, anywhere, your place, my place, in the car, front door, back door, on the ground, standing up, sitting down, naked or with clothes on, dirty, clean . . . it doesn't matter to me. I've been doing it ever since I got out of college, and I just love it."

Eyes now wide with interest he responded, "No kidding. I'm a lawyer too. What firm are you with?"

Hat-tip: Stephanie

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Monday, September 28, 2009

PM John Key on Letterman

I thought it was cool that while in NYC Mr. Key took the time to stop by Letterman and do the "Top Ten Reasons to Visit NZ". It's good PR for New Zealand.

And I'll translate the "Kiwi-isms" in #5:
  1. whanau (pronounced "fah-know") - Maori for "family".
  2. bach - vacation home or weekend get-away cabin.
  3. chilly bin - ice chest; cooler
  4. jandals - flip-flops, thongs, or whatever you call cheap sandals.

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Now THIS is Funny!

Obama isn't black. He just has a good tan!
Berlusconi calls Obama 'tanned' again

By Frances D'emilio, AAP September 28, 2009, 8:53 am

Premier Silvio Berlusconi is still talking about President Barack Obama's "tan", and this time the gaffe-prone Italian leader has made a wisecrack about Michelle Obama's skin colour as well.

Berlusconi told a Milan rally of conservative supporters on Sunday he was bringing greetings from the United States from "What's his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama!"

Shortly after Obama's election in November 2008, Berlusconi raised eyebrows by saying the victor was "young, handsome, and even has a good tan".

This time, Berlusconi, a billionaire media mogul who began his career as a cruise ship entertainer, also took a jab at the First Lady.

"You won't believe it," he said, "but two of them went to the beach because the wife is also tanned."

Berlusconi is known for his gaffes.
To me, it's only a gaffe if it's unintentional. I think Berlusconi knew exactly what he was saying.

You gotta love this guy. At least he is one leader who doesn't have his head up Obama's ass and perhaps sees the current US president for the charlatan/Manchurian Elect that he is.

Of course, the article's writer doesn't find it very humorous as he felt compelled to mention the fact that Berlusconi himself admits to admiring younger women and suggests that Berlusconi patronizes prostitutes - even though there is no evidence or law enforcement investigation to support that claim....
The 72-year-old Berlusconi has made no secret for his admiration of attractive women. He has been on the defensive in a sex scandal that erupted last spring after his wife complained he was infatuated with young women and announced she was divorcing him.

Prosecutors in the southern city of Bari are investigating a local businessman, a suspect in a cocaine investigation, who has said he sent about 30 young women to dinners and parties at Berlusconi's Rome palazzo residence and Sardinian villa. The businessman told investigators he paid the women's expenses and in some cases extra money in case they had sex with the premier. But he stressed Berlusconi was unaware of these arrangements.

Berlusconi, who isn't under investigation in the scandal, has denied ever paying for sex.
...but the media will plant that seed anyway. That way, the public won't take much of what he says seriously.

And you gotta love this, too.
The premier, commenting on Obama's use of a teleprompter in public speeches, cracked: "He's not reckless like those of us who say what comes to mind."

"We all asked ourselves, 'Does he know what he's doing, or is he just someone who knows how to read well?'"

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Absolutely Awesome!

There's nothing else I can say. Watch and be amazed!

Hat-tip: MPR

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Engine Tech I: Torque and Horsepower - What's the Difference?

Many people who are self-described "gearheads" often have very little understanding of just how an internal cumbustion engine actually makes power, and two properties that are commonly misunderstood are torque and horsepower, specifically the difference between the two and their relationship to each other. Here we will try to clear-up some of this confusion without getting too involved in the theory and mathematics involved, although we cannot totally ignore either. When possible, any discussion or reference to the math and physics associated with engine dynamics will be limited to what is relevant to the discussion and kept in simple terms so those without degrees in engineering can understand them and apply them practically.

It is already assumed that the reader has a basic familiarity and knowledge of the mechanical parts of an engine, so many terms used in that regard will not be defined along the way. You can refer to this automotive dictionary of terms for further clarification.



Basically, torque is the measurement of force applied to rotate an object around a pivot point at specific distance (radius) from the pivot point. In very simple terms, think of a wrench and a bolt. The closer you put your hand to the pivot point on the wrench, the more effort or force you will need to tighten or loosen the bolt; the further away, the converse is true. In common parlance, many will call this leverage. Go here and here for more in-depth discussion if you feel so inclined to indulge in more of the physics and math.

Now, let's consider this in terms of an engine. Our pivot point would be the crankshaft centerline, and our radius arm is the connecting rod journal. The measurement of the distance between the rod journal centerline and the crank centerline determines the stroke. Thus, the longer the stroke, the more torque will be applied to the crankshaft. The movement of the piston in the cylinder applies a certain amount of force to rotate the crankshaft, keeping in mind that there is also a certain amount of force required to rotate the crankshaft, which is determined by many factors including (but not limited to) internal resistance (namely rotational component mass and friction) and external resistance (commonly referred to as "load") such as vehicle weight, aerodynamic drag, gearing, inclines, etc.



Here's where things get tricky. The first thing to remember is that there is no such thing as horsepower - per se. While torque can be measured, horsepower is a calculation of torque measured against a time factor.

Let's use a simple example. Two people, standing atop a structure 20 feet above ground, are each holding a rod with a 20 foot length of rope attached to it and attached at the other end of the rope is a 10 pound weight. Both are able to twist the rod and raise the weight from the ground, thus they are able to apply the same amount of torque. Now they are going to have a race against the clock to see who can lift the weight to the top in the shortest amount of time. The one who can do it the fastest will be the one who applies the most power. In other words, while both are able to apply the same amount of torque, the one who can raise the weight to the top the fastest is able to apply that same amount of torque faster - that is, twist the rod faster to perform more work.

In terms of an engine, that time factor is engine (specifically, crankshaft) RPM. Horsepower is calculated using the following formula:

HP = (torque x RPM)/5252

James Watt first determined the concept of horsepower and its calculation using dray horses to pull a certain amount of weight for a given distance in a certain time period.
The unit, horsepower, was originated by James Watt (1736-1819), the Scottish engineer who developed the first practical steam engine. When Watt offered to sell his steam engines to farmers and miners, he was probably asked how many horses they would replace. The value of the horsepower was based on his experiments with strong dray horses that were able to do about 50 percent more work than a standard horse in a working day. He concluded that an average draft horse could steadily exert a 150 pound force while walking at a speed of 2.5 miles and hour. The horse thus performed work at the rate of 33,000 foot-pounds per minute, or 550 foot-pounds per second. Watt defined this rate as 1 horsepower.
Read that entire piece if you want to know how the constant of 5252 was derived as well as the origin of the term "brake horsepower" and how a dynomometer works. It is worth noting that, while in America and other countries, the unit of power is horsepower (SAE) although there are variations like the German DIN, while in other countries such as New Zealand and Australia engine power is rated in kilowatts. Also worth noting is that, while in America torque is still measured in lbs./ft., elsewhere it is measured metrically in kiloPascals (kPa) or Newton-meters (Nm).

We now have defined torque and horsepower and have a glimpse of the relationship and differences between the two. It should be clear that based on our formula we can see that more power can be achieved by increasing torque at a given RPM or increasing RPM - or both. Let's take a look at some sample graphs I've prepared to further illustrate this relationship.

Using some common variations of a small-block Chevy, let's first examine a typical stock bore and stroke 350cid (4.00" x 3.48"), very similar in power specifications to the ZZ4 crate motor available from Chevrolet.


The first thing you should notice is the relatively flat torque curve with the "meat" of the power over 350 lbs./ft. "under the curve" from 2000 - 5000 RPM. This engine build is relatively easy to obtain using pump gas and "off the shelf" parts. There is nothing exotic involved here, and this engine would make a great "daily driver" for most any vehicle from a street rod to a pick-up, with lots of punch available throughout the RPM range making gear selection less critical.

The second thing you should take notice of is that, based on the formula and the rules of math, horsepower and torque will always be equal at 5252 RPM - if 5252 is a factor in the dividend and the divisor they will cancel each other.


The next graph represents a stroked smallblock of 383cid which is obtained using a stock bore of 4.00" but a crankshaft stroke of 3.75" from the 400cid Chevy. This requires machining down the crankshaft main journals to fit the 350 block, but these cranks have been available for several years from mail-order parts houses ready to drop in. Chevy and many aftermarket sources also make this as a crate engine available with similar power.


You'll notice a nice, fat torque curve down low in the RPM range, offering over 400 lbs/ft. throughout the entire operating range and over 450 lbs./ft. under the curve from just over 2000-4000 RPM. This would make for not only another daily driver but also a great engine for a tow vehicle or any application where heavy weight/high load is involved. You should see a trend developing by now, namely that emphasizing low-end power results in a trade-off sacrificing some top-end power (even though this engine makes more power and torque, that is mostly due to increased displacement. The idea is to look at the shape and slope of the torque curve and where peak torque and HP occur).


These next two examples take us in the opposite direction, trading-off low-end power for top-end power. Here is another 350cid Chevy that pushes the envelope of what would be usable in street applications. The engine would still be pump gas friendly provided that aluminum heads are used along with a good cooling system, but it is not what I would consider a daily driver. Careful parts matching in the intake, exhaust, and ignition systems is necessary to achieve these power numbers. Some careful engineering needs to be considered, as well, especially in the bottom end of the rotating assembly. In limited street and drag racing use where the upper RPM range is seen only in short bursts you could use a two-bolt main bearing block and cast pistons. For extended use such as road racing where the engine would see the upper RPM range exploited for longer periods a four-bolt assembly should be considered as a must, as well as good quality forged crank, rods, and pistons. It should be obvious that this motor isn't designed for a van, pick-up or '59 Caddy build, but it would do nicely in a 'Vette, Cobra kit car, T-bucket, or any other medium to light weight vehicle where off-idle/low RPM performance is not critical. Gearing is definitely a factor to be considered regardless of the application.


Notice that peak torque at 5500 RPM is quite high, yet for a racing application it still has a wide torque range, offering over 400 lbs./ft. from roughly 3700-7000 RPM and over 350 lbs./ft. starting at 3000 RPM through to redline.


Our final example, a 377cid smallblock, is another variation based on de-stroking a 400 block bored .030" over to 4.155" and using the 3.48" stroke of a 350, representing the upper limits of what can be achieved with a normally aspirated smallblock. Although it wasn't too long ago that NASCAR cup engines (limited to 358cid using the 400 bore and a short stroke 3.25" crank) were making this kind of power, (now they are making nearly 100 more horsepower), and some drag racing smallblocks are making over 900 horsepower, these power figures are still at the extreme end. This is max-effort racing territory with high compression requiring minimum 100 octane gasoline. All engineering aspects are critical, and many exotic parts and precision machining are required to not only achieve these power levels but, also, to ensure that the engine lives past the break-in and tuning runs. This is not a "slap it together" affair to be accomplished on a shoe-string budget. Be prepared to spend some serious cash.


You'll see that peak torque is at 6500 RPM, and I must admit that achieving a torque curve as flat as this one would require a lot of work by somebody with very good knowledge of all the "little tricks" to make it happen. In other words, the horsepower can be made, but the torque curve would more than likely be a bit more "spiked" or "peaky" in the real world.



Hopefully, the reader will come away from this tutorial with a little better knowledge and understanding of the relationship between torque and horsepower. There is an old adage that sums it up pretty well: "Torque is acceleration, horsepower is miles per hour." Basically, what that means is that torque is what pushes you back in your seat and moves you down the road; horsepower is what determines how fast you will end-up going.

The other idea that you should grasp is that when building an engine, you are building for torque and where it occurs in the RPM range of the engine. Horsepower will take care of itself.

In future installments we will examine different aspects of how to build for torque in different applications, looking at physical properties like Brake Mean Effective Pressure (BMEP), Mean Intake Gas Tract Velocity (intake tuning theory), Sonic/Pressure Wave Theory (exhaust tuning), camshaft profiling and valve timing, and much more.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Save the Boobs - A Public Service Announcement

September 12, 2009: Are We Finally Getting It?

You know, if I didn't read news on the net and only watched New Zealand news on the tele, I doubt I would have even heard about this event. Oh, sure, any liberal/leftist demonstration in the US or elsewhere gets PLENTY of coverage, ad nauseum, but something like this - nary a peep from the mainstream media (unless it is to criticize or downplay it as right-wing reactionism).

Thanks to an email from Don, a fellow American living on the South Island here in NZ, I bring you this coverage of the largest protest to occur in Washington D.C. - and let me put that in a time frame - EVER! Bigger than any anti-Vietnam War (or any other anti-war) protest or that "Million Man March" which, ironically, never came close to a million.

I'm not into protests or any kind of activism, really, but, "Good on 'ya, America!" Let this be the beginning, and don't let it die and fade away.
I think this gathering should be appreciated as the extremely important historical event that it is. This is the first great conservative anti-statist manifestation in American history. The conservative movement, which developed in the post-WWII, Cold War environment has now fully matured into the most significant political movement of the 21st century. I believe that this day could be referred to in the not too distant future as the day that changed America . This was the day the great silent conservative majority found its voice. Many of the attendees were quite meek and timid and were unsure of exactly what to expect, this being the first time in their lives they’d been involved in a protest movement. Their fears evaporated early in the day and I saw people reveling in the camaraderie , the joy and sheer civility that was exhibited at the entire event. Chants of “Freedom, freedom, freedom”, “No more czars! No more czars!” carried through the air without the slightest hint of rancor or incivility which is the norm at the leftist rallies I have photographed over the years.
The two photos above show a tiny fraction of the two million ABC estimates attended. I saw signs and heard lots of comments comparing this event to Woodstock . At the time this photo was taken, around 1:00 p.m., Pennsylvania Avenue was still jammed completely, and the mall was packed from the Capitol Building past the Washington Monument .

Protesters came from every state in the union. This man came from San Antonio , TX . He said that he was really sorry he hadn’t brought his family. He stated that being a black conservative he was afraid to expose his children to what he expected would be a lot of liberal abuse. He was thrilled with the tenor of the event and the fact that no liberals were present to harass him. He spoke about how incredibly intolerant the left is to black individuals who don’t bow to the party line.

These Ohioans took a day off their rodeo bullriding schedule. They said they’ll be back at it tomorrow.

Mike Pence (R-Indiana) was one of the speakers who addressed the crowd: “After years of fighting runaway government on this hill, you people look like the cavalry to me..I believe we are on the verge of a great American awakening.”


San Diego radio host, Mason Weaver, said from the podium: “I came here because I thought you might want to hear a black man speak without a teleprompter…This government is trying to make a nation of dependent people. Americans have always been independent people…This is not a Republican thing, it’s not a Democrat thing. It’s not a black thing or a white thing. It’s an American thing…We the people are telling them ‘No more! We’ve had enough!”


There were notable differences though, in the behavior of these attendees. Although the legend of Woodstock is that there was a friendly atmosphere of camaraderie, the truth is that most people were there for the drugs, sex and rock and roll. Today in D.C. there was a true kinship amongst these people based on shared values and intellectual understanding of what America is and how its future is imperiled by big radical government."

No one was having sex in the Reflecting Pool let alone the mud, and I saw no one projectile vomiting on the steps of the Capitol. There were no warnings to avoid the bad acid which would send you on a trip to the hospital. Not just a different era, but a different level of civilized behavior and thought. Oh, and by the way, these people didn’t leave tons of garbage behind when they left. Actually they left no trash behind at all.


Hat-tip: Don

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Obituary: The Death of Common Sense

You may have seen this or a variation of it in a chain email. I heard it read this morning on talk radio here in New Zealand while driving to work and thought I'd share it with you. It was not written by George Carlin or that other ubiquitous author, "Ann O'nymous", to which many of those chain emails are far too often mis-attributed. The following piece, entitled "The Death of Common Sense", is a bit altered from the original version written back in 1998 by a lady named Lori Borgman as an op-ed piece in the Indianapolis Star, and it perfectly summarizes the number one affliction that plagues the human condition in modern Western society.
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn’t always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Enough, Already!

You know, I keep getting all these politically-themed emails that bemoan, bash, and bitch about the economy, Obama, health care, ACORN, the media, etc. - ad nauseum.

Enough, already! There is more to life than all that crap, so I think it is high time we remember what email was really intended for and get back to it - NOW!...











There, isn't that better?

When sending me emails, remember: "MORE TITS, less twits!"

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Lighten Up, Francis

OK, enough Obama and all the sundry shit that goes with him. We know things are a mess. We know the press is out to lunch and has their own agenda. And to be perfectly honest, I've really had enough about health care. Aside from the socio-economic and political implications of nationalizing health care, since when have we become so bloody sick that we think we need a million fucking pills for this and pills for that?

Yeah, I know that there are a lot of people who do require regular medication to maintain or regulate vital bodily functions, but let's take some time to laugh, shall we? Take a few moments to not be sooooo bloody serious; otherwise you may find yourself more in need of healthcare than you would otherwise. You know, high blood-pressure and all that.

I can't remember how I found this site, Stuff White People Like, but it is a tongue-in-cheek look at some of our follies and foibles. And, yes, it is written by a white guy. For example, here is #125 on the list of "Stuff White People Like": Bob Marley.

Here's a taste:
During the course of a white person’s education they will go through many phases including but not limited to: “awkward,” “classic rock,” and “being really into a foreign country.” Of these phases, there is only one that all white people are required to go through before they can obtain their bachelor’s degree. It is known as “Bob Marley.”
It is also worth noting that white people tend get into smoking marijuana during this phase. This is why all white people view the combination of the two as one of the most pleasurable experiences on earth. But when white people really want to take it to the next level they will combine Bob Marley, Marijuana, a long weekend and some sort of notable outdoor location (beach, cottage, or patio). There are few activities on earth that are more appealing to white people.

The only acceptable reasons for declining participation are a prior engagement at a music festival or a commitment to go camping.
Note: if you are talking to a white person who is really into Bob Marley, has dreadlocks, and professes to be a Rastafarian, you should end the conversation immediately. These people are of no value unless you need directions to a WTO protest or have questions about how bad a human can smell.
The point here is simple. Don't forget to laugh. In fact, make it a point of urgent necessity to laugh at least once a day (think of it like a vitamin). Listen to some of your favorite music. Read a book. Go for a walk. Whatever - do SOMETHING each day that makes you happy. Smell the roses, as they say. I'm as guilty as anybody else, so I have to remind myself from time to time to take a break. If you just wallow in all the shit going on in the world, it ain't healthy.

Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself - because surely somebody else is.

And never take yourself too seriously - nobody else does.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Can You Handle the Truth?

This might make you uncomfortable; it might upset your sensibilities and beliefs about the “system”. You might not agree with all his observations, but for the most part Carlin hits it on the head, especially his observations on the dismal state of education and why it is the way it is.

Go ahead. Watch and listen – if you can handle the truth.

Here's another one for you. The next time you're behind somebody with one of those "My child is an outstanding citizen at such-and-such school" - type bumper stickers, remember this clip from Carlin.

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