Category Archives: Opinion

Motorcycle oil filters exposed!

(Originally posted on 2008-01-23 as /archives/158)

Toby Creek is a geek: in the best possible way.  Read along as he “exposes” motorcycle oil filters, and by “expose” I mean that he literally cuts them open and shows us what’s inside.

Read Toby’s Fram review.  It begins with the words: “If anything, the Fram will show you how NOT to build a high performance oil filter.”

Here is my next filter (I copied the picture from www.tobycreek.org):

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I adopted Gershwin!

(Originally posted for date 2007-11-30 as /archives/124)
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I adopted my wonderful daughter Gershwin Rose Santo Kile (f/k/a Malahat Huseynova) on 2007-11-30.  Kay had adopted her from an Azerbaijani (Azeri) orphanage five years ago.  I would have legally remained Gershwin’s stepfather without this adoption. Our judge was Judge Frank J. Yeoman Junior.

I couldn’t adopt Gershwin when Kay and I married.  I had to wait a year (that’s Kansas Law), even though:

  1. There is no “real” father (Gershwin was abandoned).
  2. Kay was single when she adopted Gershwin, so there wasn’t even a “real” stepfather.

Ironically, the Azerbaijani bureaucracy demanded that a father’s name be put on the birth certificate, even though their government provided the proof that there was no father.  In the eyes of these post-Soviet bureaucrats — this isn’t lying — it’s filling out the form correctly.  Kay put “Santo Kile” in the blank.  I would have been tempted to write “Not Applicable”, because the clerks didn’t read English anyway.

In any case, Gershwin’s middle names became “Rose Santo”, and her last name became “Kile”, when Kay’s adoption was complete.

Thank you, attorney Kevin Cook!

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Too Much Stuff In A Car Story

(Originally posted on 2007-07-04  as /archives/38)

During my freshman year (1986) I lived in Hood Hall (under my old name: W. Paul Caligiuri). Some other guys that lived there would circle the place for hours in an old white convertible. I think it was a 1959 Cadillac deVille.  When it was time for a dorm picture, the driver drove the car over, and offered for us all to get in it, and on it, in the tradition of how-many-people-can-you-fit-in-a-phone-booth? Folks opened the doors afterwards, but they wouldn’t close.  For a few seconds people were trying to figure out what was wrong when I loudly said, “That thing is shaped like a ‘U’!”  Needless to say we never saw that car again.

Why this image? I like it. It’s a wrecked car. No, it’s not the one in the story. John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Okie Noodling

(This was originally posted on 2008-01-07 as /archives/143)

Noodling is a traditional form of fishing where the fisher uses his own arm as bait, and risks being wounded, or risks being sucked down by the massive fish.  The movie (Okie Noodling) is fun.  I have a copy. I bought it on a hunch, because I dig The Flaming Lips (soundtrack), and I dig fish.

The practice is controversial, because the fish are pregnant females, so overfishing is risky to catfish populations.  Proud noodlers believe that their techniques are fair, and safe, and say “that’s not noodling” about other folks’ techniques.  The movie doesn’t really explain this, which is unfortunate.

Jeremy Bennett and his friends actually were noodling during the movie’s tournament, and that they actually caught the largest cat, but instead of entering their fish they had more beer, or something.  Yes, that tournament win would have gotten them into the movie, and like everyone in that movie, Jeremy would have said, “that’s not noodling”, but these guys don’t brag about getting the largest catfish, they just eat it.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Talking about Noodling forced me to find an old picture from the very first noodling contest held at Pauls Valley. The pic is in terrible shape; i had to scan it in and then play with colors just so you can view it. These guys were your real winners. Erick Strickland on the left (RIP friend) was the best noodler to ever walk the banks of the soggy Oklahoma rivers. Micheal Martin in the Middle is a [deleted] and a good noodler when he’s not scared. I don’t know the other guy in the picture. The one man missing from this picture is Kieth Lamb, and he is the only person that could ever go 1-on-1 with Erick in technique, finding fish….doing it all. These 2 individuals were the best……….They were your true but not technical winners that day from the okie noodlin video. The fish on the right bumps the scales at about 68 pounds, with the other 2 in the lower 60s. that’s 180 pounds of fish that would have smashed both the biggest stringer and largest single fish weighed in that day, into oblivion ——- Long story short —–these guys were about an hour late to the weigh in. (not to bad considering that the contest lasts for 24 straight hours)

And one more thing, Erick and Keith Noodled the correct way. (There is a correct way to do it). They taught me the correct way. No gloves, sleeves, shirts, hooks, stringers, shoes. Just you, the fish, and the fish’s hole or crevice that it decided to be in that day. You take your blood, cuts, breaks, and scars with the sport. No complainers.

One thing I learned is that beer helped me become a better noodler. It seemed to provide a bit of lubrication between the utter fear of inserting my arm under a rock and waiting for it to get bit – akin to the feeling you get by slamming your hand or forearm in a car door (repeatedly).

Above all……the caught fish get cleaned, and then eventually eaten. very, very little waste. – Jeremy Bennett

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Tornado Season “Advice”

(Originally posted on 2016-04-30)

Fort Smith Arkansas border street: On the OK side? This is tornado country! On the Arkansas side? Meh.

To be clear: the street was directly on the border. The north side? No shelters. The south side? Shelters.

Did Oklahoma offer tax breaks for building shelters? (Yes, but…) Do Arkansas people realize that they aren’t going into that hail just to get to an outdoor shelter? “We’ll just fire a few warning shots, shake our fists at the air, stay away from trailer parks, and lie in a ditch anyway.”

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Campy-est Credit Card Ever!

(Originally posted on 2008-11-19 as /archives/1513)

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Yes, this was my credit card. Most of the available designs were very conservative, but then there was this one. I chose this design because I wanted to see the look on cashiers’ faces when I produced it. It mostly elicited no response at all. I mean LOOK AT THAT THING! The designer’s Mom, and myself, had to be the only two people that chose it. Using that card is like legally changing your middle name to “Danger”. Nobody would do it. Oh. Yeah. Right.

The credit card was meant to help fund the first X Prize project (Ansari).

The card came with a super-low interest rate, a free coffee table pictures-from-space book, and an entry into a sweepstakes every time that you used it.

I won lesser prizes in the sweepstakes many times; you would think that I had that thing rigged. I won a Seiko chronograph watch (3rd prize). I also won multiple ball caps (5th prize), multiple desk sets (5th prize), these Swiss-army-like credit card things that had knives and such in them (ironic, being that it was a credit card sweepstakes)(5th prize): weird stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t win the Big Kahuna Burger prize of $100,000.

The X Prize (I am no longer talking about the sweepstakes prizes here) was eventually won by the SpaceShipOne team. The spacecraft was designed by the famous aircraft engineer Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company, and funded by Paul Allen (the quieter Microsoft founder).

Here is the sweepstakes information for those that wanted to enter via the send-in-a-postcard route. I found this information here:

First USA X Prize Sweepstakes
prizes: Grand (1): A flight for one person to sub-orbital space, includes air for 2, lodging, meal allowance, ARV $100,000, if available at time of winner selection,or $100,000 cash alternative. Quarterly (1): A MIG 25 flight for one person, or a Zero G experience, or a trip for 2 to the Kennedy Space Center, or a Space Camp Adventure. 2nd (2): A 286X astronomical telescope, a “Starship Earth” 3D star atlas globe, a Konica digital still camera or a Casio hand-held personal computer, ARV $599. 3rd (5): Seiko chronograph watch, night scope binoculars, a Franklin Mint Columbia Shuttle replica in porcelain or a Grundig aluminum finish short wave radio, ARV $223. 4th (25): Apollo official patches, Nikon aviator frame sunglasses, a 200 x 50mm refractor telescope or an international Star Registry, ARV $70. 5th (200): Merchandise or a mug, ARV $19.
TO ENTER: On plain 3×5 paper, hand print NAZ, Phone, and the words: X PRIZE.
* Mail in envelope to:
      X PRIZE
P.O. Box 7290
Melville, NY 11775-7290
NOTE: Must be at least 18. Unlimited entries. Open in US. Entry also online at www.firstusa.com/xprize. F/E ineligible: Visa, First USA, Don Jagoda. J/A: National Judging Institute. W/L: Send SASE beginning after 9/30/98 to X PRIZE SWEEPSTAKES WINNERS, P.O. Box 7999, Melville, NY 11775-7999. The name of the Grand Prize winner will be made available as soon as possible after the drawing but in no event later than 8/30/07.

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Countersteering

(Originally posted on 2008-03-04 as /archives/160)

This simulator could have been awesome, but the steering works backwards! BACKWARDS!

Someone asked me, “Are you using countersteering?” at my last track day, and I didn’t know how to answer that question. I thought, “Is there any way that I could not be countersteering at these speeds?”  Countersteering occurs when the rider of a single-track vehicle (bicycle or motorcycle) pushes on the right side of the handlebar to turn right, and pushes on the left side of the handlebar to turn left.  By pushing on the same side, the rider is “turning” the handlebars the opposite way.  With cars you steer right to go right, but with bikes you steer left to go right.

OK, so you might be thinking, “I don’t do that! I lean!”, but you are doing that.  Imagine this: a bicycle rider holds her arms out straight.  She needs to turn right, so she leans to the right.  What’s happening here?  As she moves her weight to the right her right arm begins to push the right side of the handlebars out farther than the left: she is now countersteering.  Countersteering has more to do with initiating the turn than the leaning itself does.  You might have to sit on a bike and actually try this out to be able to picture it.  Do it in an exaggerated fashion, lock your arms, and watch the handlebars as you lean.

Motorcycle instruction usually includes discussion on countersteering because the locking-of-the-arms-thing greatly slows down steering.  Sometimes the effect on steering is so bad that riders ride right off the road when they tense up.  If the rider can learn to loosen her arms, and consciously push on the opposite side of the handlebar, then she will turn much quicker.

I literally practice holding the bars loosely when I ride my wife’s cruiser.  I take each hand off the handlebars one at a time (it has a throttle lock).  I practice bending my arms.  Etc.  This can actually help in all kinds of conditions.  That instability that occurs next to a truck?  It’s less troublesome if you hold the bars lightly.  When you push back against the shaking of the bars, your pushes lag behind the bars movement slightly.  Your periodic pushing summates with the periodic movement of the bars increasing the shaking.  Really.

So, how does this all work?  Countersteering initiates the lean by using the bike’s momentum to pull it over.  Imagine the momentum that you feel when a car turns.  When you turn to the left the momentum makes you feel like you are being pushed slightly to the right in your seat: correct?  This is the same with a two wheeled vehicle.  Turning left simultaneously causes momentum to push your vehicle to lean to the right (like an upside-down pendulum).  The bike then turns in the direction that it is leaning.  It’s that simple.  Really.  I didn’t understand this for a long time, because I was told that the affect was caused by gyroscopic precession, and for sure, that occurs, but it doesn’t cause bikes to turn.  Anyway I am sitting there watching a Kieth Code video, and he explains it.  He only spent a few seconds on the subject, but it made the whole thing clear.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for countersteering. The very top says “For the similar technique used in automobiles, see opposite lock.”  Please ignore that first statement.  The technique described there is about pointing your car’s wheels in the direction that you want the car to move, even if your car’s body is stepped-out.  This automotive technique is not remotely like the motorcycle technique, even though Doc Hudson says otherwise.

Before I tell you about this next part I want to make something very clear: I very much appreciate MSF instruction.  Without the MSF I wouldn’t be riding.  I would have no idea how to get started.

I took the MSF Basic RiderCourse twice.  In 2007 I took it near Topeka Kansas (where I earned 100% on both tests), and in 2003 I took it in Plano Texas.  While in Plano one of the RiderCoaches told us some things about countersteering that weren’t exactly correct.  I don’t know if any of those things are part of the official curriculum, but I want to quickly cover them, just in case you are told something similar.

  • She told us about countersteering, and that it is caused by gyroscopic precession occurring at a 90-degree angle, but she didn’t tell us what plane the 90-degrees was measured from.  This Web site has a good example of what she was talking about. This is all true, but that force doesn’t cause countersteering to work.  In fact gyroscopic precession makes turning more difficult.  Robby Kasten proved that with his wonderful reverse rotating rotors invention.
  • She had us sit on motorcycles that were standing still and told us to turn our bars and feel the motorcycle fall in the other direction, while using our legs to not let it fall all the way.  About 50% of the time my motorcycle fell in the same direction.  Of course it did.  Countersteering doesn’t work while standing still: gyroscopic, momentum, or otherwise.  A motorcycle should never be used as a Ouija board!  To be sure the RiderCoach in Kansas had us do the same exercise, but he made it clear that we were to make the bike lean ourselves by using our legs and imagine that the handlebar turning caused it.
  • She told us to watch the other RiderCoach’s front wheel, and to see how it was facing the opposite way while he was riding around.  I couldn’t see this, and I said so, and the reason that I couldn’t see it is that it just wasn’t so.  The front wheel doesn’t go the opposite way once you are leaned over.  (The speedway/flat track thing is something slightly different.  It works more like the automobile-reverse-lock technique once the bike is leaned over.)
  • She told us that countersteering doesn’t work under 13 MPH. This is not true. What is true is that there is another, much-safer, turning-technique that involves turning the handlebars in the direction of the turn, weighting the outside peg, and using your own body to lean the bike. That doesn’t mean that countersteering won’t work. It just means that you are capable of exerting enough-force to overcome-it at those slower-speeds. Here is a video that proves that countersteering works at-all-speeds, and on-all single-track-vehicles (motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, etc.)

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Proof Of Citizenship Is Not Trivial For My Child

(Originally posted on Nov 25, 2015 as /archives/10617)

This is from Episode 10 of “The Newsroom” by Aaron Sorkin. In it, Jeff Daniels, as Will McAvoy, takes on the Tea Party.

In it he says, among other things:

Dorothy Cooper is a 96 year old resident of Chattanooga Tennessee and has been voting for the last 75 years.  This year, she has been told she can’t.  A new law in Tennessee requires residents to show a government issued photo ID in order to vote.  Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license, because Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a car. Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a passport; a vacation abroad was never in her future.

In Kansas It’s Far Worse

In Kansas we need to show proof of citizenship to vote, and to get a driver’s license: not just ID.

If you are a US citizen, then your child becomes a US citizen as soon as they become legal residents. The combination of your proof of citizenship, your adoption papers, and their proof of residence is proof of citizenship.

However: in my experience government employees are not familiar with this law, and do not know how to read this law, and will demand that you produce the Certificate of Citizenship for foreign born adopted children.

In Kansas, in order to get a learner’s permit, so that my child can drive, required me to educate four levels of management at our DMV. It escalated to the highest level. It took many hours of time, over a couple of days of time, to get this done. That’s with extremely helpful people. If they weren’t so helpful, it would have gone much worse.

Natural born citizens can use a birth certificate, but it costs $550 for any person that is already a US citizen, but wasn’t born in the USA, to get citizenship papers.

In our case naturalization was automatic when my daughter was adopted by her American mother. INS doesn’t automatically provide proof of citizenship for adopted children, but adopted children are naturalized citizens. It was very difficult to convince the DMV though: I needed to convince four levels of management that a foreign birth certificate, and adoption papers, are proof of citizenship, because of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. (Ironically, Sam Brownback’s children have the same status.)

My child, who is a US citizen cannot vote without that $550 piece of paper, because: Sam Brownback.

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Here is the video.

Here is the transcript. I copied it from DAILY KOS, and they copied it from the video:

Good Evening, I’m Will McAvoy.  Today is Monday, August 8 [2011].

And this past Friday, for the first time ever, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the US Treasury.  You would think that would be tonight’s top story.  Or you might think it would be the Dow closing down 634 points on its worst day of trading in 3 years.   Or the austerity riots in Europe.  Or any statements of the Republican candidates running for president. Or the President himself.  But it’s not.

Tonight’s top story is a woman named Dorothy Cooper.  

Dorothy Cooper is a 96 year old resident of Chattanooga Tennessee and has been voting for the last 75 years.  This year, she has been told she can’t.  A new law in Tennessee requires residents to show a government issued photo ID in order to vote.  Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license, because Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a car. Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a passport; a vacation abroad was never in her future.

Tennessee isn’t alone.  At this moment,  33 states have proposed or already adopted the same voter id laws that have disqualified Dorothy Cooper from the one fundamental thing that we all do as Americans.  It’s estimated that 11% or roughly 20 million people don’t have government issued voter ids and will be disenfranchised this November.   Why?  To crack down on the terrible problem of voter fraud.  Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who is about to enter the presidential primary race, is serious about cracking down on the problem:

>Video of Perry:  “Making sure that there is not fraud, making sure that someone is not manipulating that process makes all the sense in the world to me.”<

Me too.  Because voter fraud is such a huge problem that during a five year period in the Bush Administration, when 196 million votes were cast, the number of cases of voter fraud reached…86.   Not 86,000.  86.  Here’s what that number looks like as a percentage of votes cast.  .00004%.  Four one hundred thousandths of a percent.  This would be called a solution without a problem, but it’s not.  It’s just a solution to a different problem.  

Republican’s have a hard time getting certain people to vote for them.  So life would be a lot easier if certain people just weren’t allowed to vote at all.  I’m ashamed to say that 32 out of the 33 voter id laws were proposed by Republican legislators,  and passed by Republican controlled statehouses.  And signed into law by Republican governors.   I am not ashamed to say that I, however, am a Republican.  And that brings us to tonight’s second story.

I’m what the leaders of the Tea Party would call a RINO:  Republican in Name Only.  And that’s ironic because that’s exactly what I think about the leaders of the Tea Party.   Because the most conservative Republicans today…aren’t Republicans.  

Republicans believe in a prohibitive military.  We believe in a common sense government.   And that there are social programs enacted in the last half century that work but that there are way too many costing way too much, that don’t.  We believe in the rule of law and order and free market capitalism.  The Tea Party believes in loving America but hating Americans.  Tea Party Congressman  Allen West of Florida.  

>Video of West:  I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama bumper sticker, I recogonize them as a threat to the gene pool. <

 They believe in loving America, but hating its government.  Conservative activist, Grover Norquist.

>Video of Norquist:  I don’t want to abolish government,  I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub. <

And they believe that anybody who disagrees with the Tea Party has sinister anti-American motives.  

>Video of Herman Cain:  The objective of the liberals is to destroy this country.  The objective of the liberals is to make America mediocre.  <

Most of all, you must never, under any circumstance, seek  to reach a compromise with your opponent.  Or do any of what Democrats and genuine Republicans both call ‘governing.’  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

>Vidieo of McConnell:  Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.<

And one other plank in the Tea Party platform.  If you are poor, it means that you are either too lazy or too stupid to be rich.  Here’s Andre Bauer, Tea Party Leader and the Lt. Governor of South Carolina [McAvoy read’s Bauer’s words] :  My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.  You know why?  Because they breed.”

It’s almost hard to believe that Republicans can’t get Dorothy Cooper to vote for them.

During Tea Party rallys and in campaign speeches, we’ve been told that America has been founded as a Christian nation and if the founding fathers were here today, they’d tell us so.  Here’s John Adams in the treaty of Tripoli:  “As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”  And here’s Thomas Jefferson:  “…that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.”  And here’s the first amendment to the US Constitution:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

What’s more frightening than the perversion of our great history is that sensible strong smart Republicans, the very men and women who should be standing up to radical fundamentalism, are so frightened in losing primary battles to religious zealots that they’ve thrown in the towel on sanity.  So we get this:

>Video of John McCain:  Yes, that the constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.<

It’s ironic because the biggest enemy of the phony Republican isn’t Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama.  It’s this man.  [image of Jesus Christ].  He said ‘Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.   Care for the weakest among us.  And always pray in private. ‘  

On screen behind McAvoy while he reads:
–    Ideological  purity
–    Compromise as weakness
–    A fundamentalist belief in scriptural literalism
–    Denying science
–    Unmoved by facts
–    Undeterred by new information
–    A hostile fear of progress
–    A demonization of education
–    A need to control women’s bodies
–    Severe xenophobia
–    Tribal mentality
–    Intolerance of dissent
–    A pathological hatred of the US government

They can call themselves the Tea Party.  They can call themselves Conservatives.   And they can even call themselves Republicans.  Though Republican’s certainly shouldn’t.  But we should call them what they are:  The American Taliban.  And the American Taliban cannot survive if Dorothy Cooper is allowed to vote.  

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