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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

He [Trump] appears to be entertaining the horrible idea that the people who buy cars ought to be free to decide for themselves how much fuel economy matters to them – since they will be the ones paying for both the car and the gas. And – oh my god! – that this is really none of the business of the “concerned” scientists and other professional busybodies who regard their opinions and preferences as holy writ enforceable at gunpoint.

Eric Peters

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22 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • CaptDMO

    Gosh, I USED to be able to do regular tune ups,with simple tools,(and a match book)in my driveway, so I could get the best milage from the standard transmission,(that I could repair) and engine that used “regular” gasoline.
    Now, Cars consume so much 15% cocktails that only a “specialist”, with astonishingly expensive diagnostic tools,can tend to them.
    “Oh, the connector for the flywheel position sensor was loose. We THINK that’s why your car suddenly went into “limp” mode!”
    That’ll be $US150 please.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “15% cocktails “?

  • Laird

    “15% cocktails“?

    I read that as a reference to the ethanol which pollutes our gasoline, thanks to the government. Although as far as I know it’s generally limited to 10%.

  • Paul Marks

    Ted Cruz spoke against the ethanol mandate – and still managed to win the Iowa Caucus events.

    Perhaps Donald Trump (who supported it back then) will (as Patrick suggests) turn free market on the matter.

    It is quite possible – I just do not know.

  • Fred the Fourth

    In California used to be, maybe still is, a seasonal gasoline blend called “E85”. It was not 85% ethanol, but rather 15%. Sometimes referred to as “Oxygenated”, which puzzled me (eth is, after all, C2H5OH). Used here in the winter season, IIRC.
    I could have this all mixed up, since the blends and seasonal requirements change frequently.
    There are, though, a couple of constants:
    1. CA-specific blends are not, generally, made in other states. So when the refiners take the seasonal switchovers as opportunities to do maintenance, there are sometimes temporary shortages.
    2. The CA legislature will convene hearings to investigate the cause of the resulting temporary price bump.

  • bobby b

    E85 is becoming much more popular in the midwest USA.

    That’s 85% ethanol, 15% unleaded gasoline.

    My son pumped five gallons of it into my non-converted car one day. We spent about six hours dropping the gas tank and getting it all drained out. Had he started the car before I noticed, the engine would have been junk.

    About ten states now have “blend pumps” at which you can set the percentage of ethanol you would like, from 10% up to 85%. Coincidentally, these are the states in which corn is the big crop.

  • Bruce

    Ethanol is hygroscopic and if it sits in your tank for a while, it will suck moisture from the air.

    You do not want this to happen, especially as the water starts to accumulate at the bottom of the tank; Hmmm, water in long-term contact with a steel container; what could go wrong?

    Ethanol has a completely different rate of flame-front propagation (as does Hydrogen.

    It may well be possible to come up with a completely new engine design to take this into account, but I am not holding my breath.

    Furthermore, the “OH” group than hangs off the end of an ethanol molecule is rather like that which hangs off compounds like Sodium Hydroxide. This has an unfortunate tendency to react with certain light metals like Zinc and Aluminium, both of which are found in the fuel-handling systems of modern cars, and have been for many decades.

    The “addition” of ethanol is not exactly a new idea, either. Back, post WW2, when engines were built on big blocks of cast iron, and compression ratios were lower, there may have been some practical applications, but, I suspect you will find that with rising compression ratios and the greater use of Aluminium components all through the engines, the problems of “chemistry” became apparent.

  • Fred Z

    Bruce, “chemistry” is an artificial and false construct of cis-gender dead white males.

    Likewise mathematics, logic, physics, medicine, dentistry, morality, courage, persistence, patriotism, thrift and so on.

  • Lee Moore

    “chemistry” is an artificial and false construct of cis-gender dead white males

    And females. Marie Curie won the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, as well as her earlier Physics one. And she won in the middle of a scandal about her affair with a younger, married, chap. So she was pretty cis too.

  • Lee Moore (March 20, 2017 at 4:02 am): “she won in the middle of a scandal about her affair with a younger, married, chap.”

    My (years ago) memory of studying the details of Marie Curie’s life suggest these accusations were not in fact true – just the standard scandal-raking about public figures of the third republic’s press (which makes the UK press, then and now, look like the model of discreet probity -though I note the third republic provided a superabundance of genuine scandal).

    IIRC the man involved challenged the editor to a duel. One still could in the France of those days, though if you’ve read Mark Twain’s account of a French duel in “Innocents Abroad” you will not be surprised that no-one actually got hurt. 🙂

    So the affair probably never happened. However her long and happy marriage to Pierre Curie, with children, demonstrates Lee Moore’s point. IIRC, Polonium got its name because Pierre said “If we call it Curium, everyone will assume I discovered it” while Marie agreed that Povlovskium (her maiden name IIRC) was a bit of a mouthful.

    One of her daughters married a man who turned into a purge-defending communist (he is 100% on record as admitting he knew innocent people were being killed but wanted this information kept discreetly and not mentioned in front of his children – or the common people, whom he regarded as children too). But Marie is hardly to blame for Joiiot-Curie’s becoming such a type.

  • Mr Ed

    The wonderful but late Champcar World Series motor-racing had some wonderful racing at up to 240mph when on ovals, and they ran their cars on ethanol’s nasty baby brother methanol CH3OH. The advantages were, AIUI, that in the event of a crash it was far less likely to ‘deflagrate’ than gasoline, and fires can be put out with water as it is wholly miscible. However, it has a number of disadvantages. It burns with an invisible flame, so a fire was usually inferred by the driver suddenly thrashing around in the cockpit, methanol is hideously toxic and is absorbed through the skin and it corroded the fuel system, a problem solved by running gasoline through the engine to wash out methanol after a run, a process that they called ‘pickling’.

    In the 1970s we heard a lot in school about ethanol in fuel in Brazil, usually justified on the basis of their sugar cane being ‘useful’ and a way to improve their balance of payments, but it seemed that it was all a scam to fleece the motorist. And isn’t ethanol in fuel yet another use for fructose from corn and a way of shovelling ‘pork’ around?

  • PaulH

    From the article: “This brings us back to the moral issue: Why is how much or little fuel our cars use anyone else’s business, since we pay for the car and the fuel?”

    I assume the answer is that for as long as I have to breathe in the poisonous exhaust from your vehicle, I have some say in what it produces. Now that seems to me to be one of the rare cases where “the thin end of the wedge” is a justified expression. So what do the folks here think the answer is?

  • Laird

    PaulH, even if one accepts your premise, the solution is merely to regulate the components of the exhaust, not its inputs which can be left to the market to work out. Your only legitimate concern is the output, not the means by which it is attained.

  • Lee Moore

    a purge-defending communist (he is 100% on record as admitting he knew innocent people were being killed

    Does innocence have a meaning in the communist system ? I thought you were just usefully alive or usefully dead, and that was pretty much it.

  • Mr Ed

    PaulH

    I assume the answer is that for as long as I have to breathe in the poisonous exhaust from your vehicle, I have some say in what it produces.

    Would one apply that principle to human flatulence? Seems a slippery slope to me (as it were).

  • Grumpy

    I thought you were just usefully alive or usefully dead, and that was pretty much it.

    You can also be usefully idiotic, I think.

  • Pat

    Which is why a carbon tax is a good idea. Tax Carbon at the rate calculated by Lord Stern. Then you have placed incentives on consumers to seek lower carbon alternatives to whatever they are using. Not just in cars, but in china, glass, plastics, anything that uses energy in its production. Thus excess CO2 production is solved with minimum fuss.
    The problem having been solved subsidies to green energy sources, cafe regulations, and a raft of other things become redundant and can be scrapped.
    The extra money the government is left with from cutting subsidies and taxing carbon can be put to cutting the deficit, or cutting other taxes.
    There you go, a better solution to AGW and at virtually no net cost.
    Some will object that AGW theory is overblown, some will be ruder than that.
    But since Government has to raise taxes anyway, I cant see why taxing carbon is worse than taxing income or a vast array of other things that are in fact taxed.
    The only snag is getting the green lobby and their subsidy junkie friends to agree to the whole plan.

  • The extra money the government is left with from cutting subsidies and taxing carbon can be put to cutting the deficit, or cutting other taxes.

    Since when does government ever cut taxes or the deficit, upon having extra money? For example, see the extra bales of cash generated by Colorado’s Pot tax; does that money go back to the citizens or reduce budget deficits?

  • Jacob

    “The problem having been solved subsidies to green energy sources, cafe regulations, and a raft of other things become redundant and can be scrapped.”

    Ok, scrap them first and then we’ll talk.

  • bobby b

    “Some will object that AGW theory is overblown, some will be ruder than that.
    But since Government has to raise taxes anyway, I cant see why taxing carbon is worse than taxing income . . . “

    I would be ruder than that.

    But, moving on, here’s why taxing carbon is worse than taxing income:

    You can tax progressively, neutrally, or regressively.

    Who can afford new-tech, high-mpg automobiles? Mostly, the rich.

    If you carbon-tax fuel, those with older-technology, older-vintage vehicles will pay at a higher rate – those least able to afford it.

    And, since you’re not fixing any actual problem, but merely looking to steal more taxes, you ought to at least be neutral about who you steal them from.

  • Pat (March 20, 2017 at 3:23 pm): “Some will object that AGW theory is overblown, some will be ruder than that.”

    “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” Richard Feynman

    1) The idea that it is ‘rude’, rather than a legitimate act of criticism, to point out the errors in AGW theory is precisely why there are so many errors in it. Science depends on – indeed, is defined by – its use of critique as part of its process. (This goes all the way back to Archimedes’ “The Method”.) Whenever any area starts hating criticism and critics as such, it has ceased to be science (if it ever was) and will begin to accumulate errors (even if it lacked them before). What the commenter calls rudeness, and I call sense, is the attitude anyone positively should take towards any such calling-itself-science area. Indeed, I could – with a bit of pushing it – defend the idea that it is ‘rude’ not to, but I’d rather say it is irrational not to assume that any claim from such a pseudo-science is probably wrong; can be right only by coincidence.

    2) It is just and proper for anyone who values science, or who cares little for science as such but values truth in general, to be disgusted at those modern pseudosciences who enforce with increasing thuggery their demand that their answers may not be questioned. How much actual original-meaning rudeness is proper to use in expressing that disgust? Steve McIntyre makes it a rule never to use words like ‘fraud’ in his articles exposing the errors of AGW but just to present the compelling scientific evidence. Others take the wretched manners of the PC as setting a line they themselves should not sink below but may operate within.

  • Fen Tiger

    The idea that it is ‘rude’, rather than a legitimate act of criticism, to point out the errors in AGW theory is precisely why there are so many errors in it.

    That.

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