"The Relay" Online Newsletter
August 2020 Issue
This is the monthly online newsletter for the car club council. All car hobbyist events are listed on this site under "Calendar." Just click on the link above to view the list of car shows and other activities.
We will have a meeting on August 24th. See below for the details. This will be the first council meeting since January. We will go over some of the new laws and talk about the upcoming September 26 show for the council's 25th anniversary. Hope you will be able to attend.
The General Assembly is having a special session on August 18. They are going to discuss police reform and updating the budget to reflect what the lockdown did to it. Senator Steve Newman has introduced a bill that will be heard at the session. It will limit any governor's ability to rule by Executive Order to 30 days. A lot of businesses have been hard hit by the lockdown.
Speaking of the lockdown - the virus has given the government and businesses the opportunity to destroy customer service - and some have taken advantage of it. If you contact DMV for an appointment do not be surprised if it takes you weeks or even months to get one. If we can all go to Walmart then why can't the DMV open? And I want to say this for may be the thousandth time - if you mail anything to DMV be sure to make copies because THEY WILL LOSE YOUR PAPERWORK. Don't believe me? Ask around and it won't take long to find someone who had their paperwork lost by DMV.
Hope you can make our meeting and attend the 25th anniversary show.
Summer time fun
Our next meeting will be Monday, August 24th at 6:30 PM at Bella Italia, 6407 Iron Bridge Rd, Richmond, VA 23234 in the Irongate Shopping Center. Phone number is 804-743-1116. We will discuss our 25th anniversary show that will be on September 26. We will also discuss changes in law that went into effect on July 1 and more.
Car Hobbyist News
On August 18 there will be a special session of the General Assembly. The council monitors all the Assembly sessions to make sure there is nothing being considered that would affect the car hobby. The governor’s announcement of the session states in part “for the purpose of adopting a budget based on the revised revenue forecast and consideration of legislation related to the emergency of COVID-19 and criminal and social justice reforms”. The hearings will be held virtually with the legislators gathering again some weeks later to discuss the bills that are introduced. Hopefully this will give the citizens time to look over the bills and decide if they want to take action. Any bills that affect the hobby will be posted on the council website and you will get an email if action is required.
If you get stopped by the police while driving you may be surprised by the questions you will get asked. The Community Policing Act that became law in July requires the police to ask drivers about their race, ethnicity and gender. Officers will need to record the reason for the stop, the location, whether anyone was searched or arrested and whether a warning or citation was issued. Information collected through the law will go into a statewide database controlled by Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services and will be shared annually in a report to the governor and the General Assembly. “The report shall include information regarding any state or local law-enforcement agency that has failed or refused to report the required data,” the legislation states.
The role of license plate readers is expanding: The Customs and Border Protection agency has been collecting vehicle information at the border using license plate readers for years. Now, the agency will begin incorporating third-party license plate reader data collected from local governments, law enforcement and the private sector and maintained by a commercial vendor.
A privacy impact assessment published July 7 outlines the agency’s plan to incorporate datasets maintained by third-party vendors as part of its investigations. The latest update is the first since December 2017, when CBP authorized the use of license plate readers for data collection.
In 2013 the Virginia Attorney General issued an opinion on license plate readers to end passive collection. What that means is the police were using the readers to collect data from vehicles parked so their owners could attend political rallies and other events. The data collected is supposed to be used for targeted law enforcement purposes. The plate readers are great at catching people who didn’t pay their property taxes on their vehicles. In April 2019 the ACLU won a case in Fairfax to stop the police there from passive collection.
From Techdirt website: “The ACLU attacked the state's use of plate readers using one of the state's own laws. According to the "Government Data Collection and Dissemination Act," the long-term collection of untargeted plate data was illegal. The state's attorney general even issued an official opinion to this end, pointing out that active collections seeking targeted plates was permissible, but passive collections with no end date and unrelated to ongoing investigations wasn't.
That opinion did nothing to alter law enforcement ALPR operations. A lawsuit followed when records requests showed plenty of passive collection was still taking place. The ACLU pointed out (again) these collections violated state law. Fairfax County Circuit Court judge Robert J. Smith agreed.
In his five-page opinion granting the ACLU an injunction blocking the Fairfax County Police Department from engaging in passive, untargeted collections, the County Court agrees with the state Supreme Court's findings: the ALPRs are subject to the state data privacy law and the ALPRs -- despite law enforcement protests to the contrary -- collect protected personal info.”
We all need to be aware that whatever we are doing – even just taking a drive in your car – someone or some camera could be watching you and recording you.
There have been a bunch of cancellations and re-scheduling of events this year and I have worked diligently to keep the calendar up to date as many people never contacted me when their events changed. The council is still planning on our September 26 event for our 25th anniversary. Hopefully there will be no more lockdowns or other measures imposed upon us.
Goodguys Events Postponed Until 2021
To our Members and Supporters,
Due to the ongoing health risks and lack of necessary state and local approvals needed to produce and host our events, we have been forced to postpone the following upcoming events until next year:
• 6th North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh, NC (Postponed until April 23-25, 2021)
• 2nd Great American Nationals in York, PA (Postponed until August 20-22, 2021)
• 34th West Coast Nationals in Pleasanton, CA (Postponed until August 27-29, 2021)
• 15th Nashville Nationals in Nashville, TN (Postponed until June 11-13, 2021)
• 23rd Colorado Nationals in Loveland, CO (Postponed until September 10-12, 2021)
Subsequently, all vehicle registrations and tickets already purchased for any of the postponed shows listed above will automatically be applied and transferred to next year’s event dates. An email confirmation will go out confirming your registration and tickets in the coming weeks.
For all other assistance, or if you would like to request a full refund, please email us at email@example.com.
While we know this is not the news you were all hoping to hear, we do want you to know that we are still working hard behind-the-scenes with our host venues and state & local health officials in Texas, California and Arizona, and have high hopes that our remaining shows currently scheduled for 2020 will take place as planned. We will continue to keep you updated as more news becomes available.
We appreciate your continued support during these challenging times and look forward to seeing you on the road again real soon.
Goodguys Rod & Custom Association
Street Dreams Cruisers 5th Annual Car, Truck and Bike Show - click to see all the photos
The Community Policing Act
From WTOP News
This law took effect July 1.
The law is called “The Community Policing Act” and was passed during the General Assembly’s legislative session in March.
It applies to sheriffs, local police officers and state police officers.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William County, the legislation will help shed light on whether certain groups of people are being disproportionately targeted by police stops.
“The Community Policing Act prohibits law enforcement officers from engaging in bias-based profiling,” Torian said during the legislative session.
A similar law passed by the D.C. Council yielded data that led the ACLU of D.C. to issue a scathing report last month, claiming that Black people are disproportionately likely to be stopped in almost every police district in the nation’s capital.
Under the Virginia law, officers will ask drivers about their race, ethnicity and gender.
Officers will need to record the reason for the stop, the location, whether anyone was searched or arrested and whether a warning or citation was issued.
Some departments are already trying to prepare drivers for the new questions.
“Members of the public should be aware of the new information collected, as it may involve the officer asking them additional questions on a traffic stop,” according to a news release from Arlington.
The new law requires each police agency to collect and report the number of complaints they receive alleging the use of excessive force.
Information collected through the law will go into a statewide database controlled by Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services and will be shared annually in a report to the governor and Virginia General Assembly.
“The report shall include information regarding any state or local law-enforcement agency that has failed or refused to report the required data,” the legislation states.
NEEDED: An Additional Classic Car Mechanic
As our business expands, the Classic Car Center finds itself in need of a professional mechanic with classic car repair employment experience to work on our customers’ classic and exotic cars and trucks. This is a salaried position and represents an addition to our existing full-time staff. In addition to outstanding mechanical expertise, we are looking for an individual who has experience rebuilding brakes, installing new wiring harnesses and repairing/installing air conditioning systems. If you or someone you know has such work experience, have them call our Shop Manager, Bill Grant at 540-370-4474. Classic Car Center · 3591 Lee Hill Dr · Fredericksburg, VA 22408-7323
Live Music Night - click to see all the photos
The interstate highway system is now 64 years old. Revealed in 1954 by Nixon (President Ike was mourning the death of his sister-in-law that day) during the Governor’s Conference, the proposed $50-billion Grand Plan laid out the nation’s need for a modern highway system and how Eisenhower planned to generate the necessary revenue. Two years later, on June 29, 1956, Congress passed the Federal Aid Highway Act.
A police officer in West Yorkshire, England, shared the thoughts of many after being called to the scene of a wreck involving a $300,000 Lamborghini that lasted only 20 minutes on the road before it was totaled on June 24. "It's only a car," the officer tweeted, but he "could have cried." According to the BBC, the car suffered a mechanical failure during its virgin drive and came to a stop in the outside land of the M1 motorway, where it was rear-ended by a van. The driver of the van suffered nonserious head injuries in the crash. The Lamborghini driver was not identified, nor was it clear whether he was hurt in the crash.
Merseyside Police responding to the scene of a crash in Huyton, England, in the wee hours of June 28 say they arrived in time to witness a woman "finishing off a glass of wine," according to the Echo. In the collision, a white Mercedes had plowed into a parked Ford Focus, with both cars sustaining significant damage. Photographs from the scene showed the Mercedes to contain an empty wine bottle on the floor of the passenger seat, along with a wine glass, and another full bottle in a storage compartment. Police announced the arrest of two women, 33 and 35, on suspicion of unauthorized taking of a motor vehicle and drunk driving.
Fisherman Dawson Cody Porter, 22, of Eagle River, Alaska, was arrested June 27 outside the Fisherman's Bar after arriving there driving a stolen fire truck with its emergency lights flashing, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Bristol Bay Borough police said Porter broke into the King Salmon Fire Station around 9 p.m., where he started the truck and drove it through the station's closed bay doors, making his way west on the Alaska Peninsula Highway about 15 miles to Naknek. Police Chief John Rhyshek said Porter caused about $10,000 in damage and put the fire truck out of commission while repairs are made to it.
Car buyer Da Tong Yang of Richmond, British Columbia, became so frustrated with his local Mercedes-Benz dealership that in January he flew to the company's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, to seek help. Yang bought his wife, Guifang Huo, a brand-new S550 in 2017, partially because he believed the $155,000 car to be one of the safest vehicles available, but a year later, the couple claimed, the steering wheel locked, causing the car to nearly crash into a concrete wall. Mercedes-Benz said an "internal electrical issue" was at fault and assured the couple it was fixed. Yang wasn't convinced, demanded his money back or a replacement car, then sued the company when it declined. The case has languished in court, prompting Yang's trip to Stuttgart in early June "to find justice, not only for him but also for other drivers," he told the Richmond News. Despite his personal appearance, litigation is still underway.
An unnamed 66-year-old woman in Ewing, New Jersey, gave $1 to a man begging in a drugstore parking lot on June 18 and became the victim of a carjacking, according to the Associated Press. Ewing police said Tomasz Dymek, 31, of Queens, New York, "was not satisfied with the dollar, so he forced his way into the victim's vehicle and drove from the lot, sitting on top of her in the driver's seat." Witnesses alerted police, who followed Dymek into Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, where the car broke down and officers arrested him.
Koji Ishii, 39, of Tokyo, admits his passion is sometimes more like a “curse”: He is compelled to document every lost glove he sees on the streets of his city. He photographs and records details about each one, whether they’re stuck in drains or washed up on a beach, but never touches or removes them. Over 15 years, he’s curated more than 5,000 stray gloves, including children's mittens, heavy workingman's gloves and lacy ladies' accessories. “I live with the constant fear that there might be a glove right around the corner,” Ishii told AFP. He even gets off buses before his stop if he sees a glove on the ground. For him, the attraction is thinking about how the glove got there and who once wore it. “Lone gloves are a constantly changing, dynamic phenomena,” Ishii said.
A young man has been convicted and sentenced to “protective supervision” after setting several fires that led to the destruction or damage of 21 vehicles. The incidents of arson took place on the night of February 11th earlier this year in the city of Gävle (Sweden) and saw the teen set fires in six different areas across the city. The teen was arrested a short time after the arson attacks but initially denied any involvement with them. A Swedish court found that the 18-year-old was the only person behind the fires after examining both testimony and forensic evidence that was gathered at the various crime scenes, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports. Due to the fact that the perpetrator was 17 at the time of his crimes, he received a far lesser punishment than the already short one-year sentence recommended for adult offenders. Indeed, the court gave a sentence less than the recommended four-month term for juvenile convicts and gave him protective supervision, with certain regulations regarding drug-withdrawal treatment.
Tesla on Wednesday, July1st became the highest-valued automaker as its stock shares surged to record highs and the electric carmaker's market capitalization overtook that of Toyota. On paper, Tesla is currently worth more than triple the combined value of U.S. automakers General Motors and Ford.
Elon Musk is now richer than Warren Buffett. The fortune of Tesla Inc.’s chief executive officer rose $6.1 billion on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after the carmaker’s stock surged 11%. Musk is now the world’s seventh-richest person, also ahead of tech titans Larry Ellison and Sergey Brin. The 49-year-old owns about a fifth of Tesla’s outstanding stock, which comprises the bulk of his $70.5 billion fortune. His majority ownership of closely held SpaceX accounts for about $15 billion. Shares of the electric-car maker have risen 269% this year. The company’s booming valuation helped Musk land a $595 million payday earlier this year, making him the highest-paid CEO in the U.S.
A Tokyo haunted house design company called Kowagarasetai, or "a squad wanting to scare," has come up with an ingenious and apparently surprisingly effective solution: the drive-in haunted house. More accurately, it's a haunted garage that paying customers drive into. As the back story goes ... "This is a garage where a horrible incident occurred long ago. Now people say that if you park your car inside and honk your horn three times, something will happen." Besides the visuals provided by the actors and lighting effects, story details and other sounds play through your car's radio, much as they can at a drive-in movie theater. Producer Kenta Iwana told AFP in a feature about Kowagarasetai that the new drive-in format can actually be more frightening than their normal set-up since there's really no escape.
Imagine waking up to find a stranger’s car parked on your front lawn. Then imagine it was an EV that was plugged into your home. Would you cut the cord? Maybe pile a few garden tools on the car’s hood? If so, you’re not as forgiving as Phil Fraumeni, who experienced this exact scenario. The Florida homeowner initially thought the car might belong to a friend of his wife’s, but once he ruled that out, he reported the presumptuously parked Tesla to the police. By the time the authorities had arrived, however, so had the driver — police explained to him that what he’d done was in fact both stupid and illegal, but he wasn’t charged. You’re a nice guy, Phil. Maybe too nice.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will recall about 925,239 of its older model vehicles in the United States to replace air bag covers on their steering wheels after 14 potentially related injuries. The recall is limited to 2007-2011 Dodge Nitro SUVs, 2008-2010 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.
In Maine a drive-in movie theater is having live concerts that you can enjoy while in your car.
Officials in Orange County, Florida have confirmed that a motor accident death was initially included into the coronavirus death toll. It was later struck off the list, but not until authorities were challenged by the media. Florida Department of Health in Orange County announced on Saturday that it no longer counts the death of a man aged in his 20s in a motorcycle accident as a coronavirus fatality.
How To Know If You Are An Automotive Masochist
Masochist: a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.
After shutting off the little blue roadster’s ignition and walking into the house, the problem became cemented in my consciousness. My two-and-a-half-car garage was already holding two cars unfit to venture beyond my mailbox, along with three motorcycles that weren’t faring much better. (My daily driver, a trusty Chevy pickup, was naturally relegated to the driveway.) Yet I was about to add one more car. Previously, any suspicion that I had a problem snoozed quietly in my subconscious. Suddenly, it sped to the front of my mind like a NHRA dragster.
I am an automotive masochist. Apparently, it took my most recent acquisition to confirm my self-diagnosis.
Some backstory is required. Years ago, I saw a co-worker toodling around in a 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite. It wasn’t perfect, but oh boy did it look fun. Recently I dropped by his desk to ask about the car, and I ended the conversation with one of the most dangerous phrases in the automotive world: “When you want to sell that, give me a call.” He’d owned the car for more than a decade; I didn’t think he would be calling any time soon.
I was wrong. When he called, my first response was: “I don’t think I have the money right now to make you a real offer.” “I bet you do,” he returned. Dangerous, right?
Let’s make one thing clear here. It was not a problem that I bought another car. I am still within my humble means to own another car or two. No, the problem here was that I was excited to purchase this Austin-Healey because it was broken.
The owner drove it over for me to inspect and immediately explained that the clutch would not fully disengage. Driving it was an exercise in futility; despite having synchronizers on most of the gears, the Healey gave new meaning to the term “crash box.” There was also enough clutch drag when the engine was hot to stall it out when coming to a stop. Embarking on a trip required starting the engine in gear, because there was no way to engage the non-synchro first gear with the engine running.
The brakes weren’t the strongest, the carpet was tatty, and the gauge cluster was as accurate as a broken clock. Yet, sitting in my garage and staring at the blue roadster, I didn’t see a slightly rusty project car lubricating my floor with 20W-50; I saw an opportunity to create something awesome. The car’s potential was intoxicating. I spent time rolling around on the garage floor looking at the clutch system and brainstorming solutions.
Then came the conversation with my significant other. The discussion went quickly. “What’s wrong with it?” she asked immediately. How could she know this cute little Brit was a project car? She quickly cut through my feigned surprise: “You never buy anything that needs nothing.”
She’s right, too. Any car or motorcycle being added to my stable requires some amount of work or attention. Every time. No exceptions. How this had not dawned on me over the last 15 years of playing with cars and motorcycles was a mystery that kept me up that night.
I know I’m not alone, though. As I chased my B.S. degree in automotive restoration at McPherson College, the pace at which project cars took up residence in dormitory parking lots was matched only by the flow of oil and other fluids leaking from them. If automotive masochism is an addiction, my fellow students were the opposite of a support group. Just a cadre of enablers egging each other on in (often pretended) attempts to rescue or revive cars that had been written off by so many other enthusiasts.
The tedious task of fiddling with a greasy bearing or adjusting a sloppy linkage is where I am at my happiest. The problem-solving process is just so rewarding. I relish the high of finishing a project while wiping down the tools and drinking a cold one as the lightning bugs flickered into the garage. It’s a feeling unlike any other. It’s possibly a sickness unlike any other, too—luckily, it’s not terminal.
Do you buy your project cars from the parts section of Craigslist? Click to the next page when you read “runs good”? Maybe you look at a project and, even before you buy it, are mentally setting out the necessary tools in your garage. Know that you are not alone—some of us are just slower to realize our vice than others.
Maybe we should start a support group. We could meet in the garage … but I think we would all be too distracted.
27-liter Tank Engine In A Crown Victoria
Ford's body-on-frame Crown Victoria was gifted with an engine bay big enough to receive a diverse selection of engines from aftermarket builders, but a Swedish enthusiast is pushing the limits of its versatility by shoehorning a 27-liter V12 into a former cop car. He's hoping to achieve a power level that eclipses the Bugatti Chiron's.
Daniel Werner told Road & Track he found the engine before sourcing the car. He looked at plane engines, including the 37-liter Rolls-Royce Griffon originally fitted to Spitfire planes, but major packaging constraints led him to the Meteor V12 built by the same company. It has 27 liters of displacement, and it was developed to power tanks during the Second World War. It notably made 600 horsepower in the Cromwell tank used by British forces. He then bought a 2006 Crown Victoria that once served as a police interceptor in Stockton, California. It was already in Sweden, it had a blown engine, and it needed a new home. He named the car the Meteor Interceptor.
600 horses in a Crown Vic sounds like plenty, Ford shipped the final examples with 224 horsepower, but it's not much when the cavalry comes from a boat anchor-like lump that weighs more than a Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. Basic physics convinced Werner to aim for 2,500 horsepower by twin-turbocharging the Meteor and installing a custom ECU. It will spin the rear wheels via a TH400 transmission reinforced to handle the 12's monumental output.
Looking at his Instagram account confirms the swap is, predictably, not very straightforward. Installing it required cutting out most of the sheet metal in the engine bay and removing a big chunk of the firewall. Many parts are custom-made, including the ECU's trigger wheel, and Werner is adapting front-end components from a Chevrolet C10 pickup to cope with the weight. He's also hoping to raise the engine's redline from 3,000 to 4,000 rpm.
"It's not an intelligence choice of engine if you want to have 2,500 horsepower and race," Werner told Road & Track. "I wanted to do this out of passion," he added candidly. Although the Meteor Interceptor won't live its life a quarter-mile at a time, it's not destined to become a trailer queen, either. Werner explained he will ultimately try to cross the 200-mph barrier in it, and he's confident he'll pull it off. We'll be keeping a close eye on this project.
The Autonomous Grift, And How You’re Going To Pay The Price For It
I can’t tell you what the price of oil, bitcoin, or Tesla stock will be 24 hours from now, but I feel absolutely confident in making the following longer-term prediction: You are never going to share the road with a significant number of autonomous vehicles. “Never,” in this case, is a fancy way to say never. Not in the lifetime of anyone reading this column. I am stone-cold certain about this. If you want to contact me and make some sort of bet, I’m your huckleberry—but give me a chance to convince you on the matter first.
Let’s start with Moravec’s paradox. It tells us that it is remarkably easy to get computers to do things which seem difficult to human beings, such as playing chess at a grandmaster level, but that it is somewhere between “very hard” and “impossible” to get computers to do things that come naturally to people, such as learning a new physical activity, holding a conversation, and operating with a broad set of rules in unpredictable circumstances. Moravec suggests that it took a really long time, something along the lines of a billion years, to evolve the motor-muscle and visual-interaction skills that we take for granted in ourselves and in animals, but that the evolution of rational thought was a fairly quick thing. It took humans maybe 100,000 years to develop the faculties they needed to play chess; it took computers about 50 years to develop the same capacity. Apply that same ratio to a billion years, and you get … a lot longer than Ford, Waymo, or the self-appointed “science geek” in your office would like to believe.
We all intrinsically understand this. We trust a computer to fly us across the Atlantic Ocean or dispense life-saving medication, but we wouldn’t let one play Jarts™ with our children. Five hundred bucks will buy you enough computing power to plot a trajectory to Betelgeuse but five billion dollars can’t buy you a robot capable of taking your spoken order, finding its way to Burger King with no external help, and returning with what you asked for. Now here’s something you might not understand: We are no closer to the “Burger King errand machine” than we were in the year 2000, or 1980, or 1960 for that matter. This is not a problem that can be solved with a new generation of Pentium processor or a faster memory chip. We will need an entirely new kind of computer architecture, and we have no idea how to get there.
“Now wait a minute, buddy,” you’re saying. “If this is such an impossible problem, why are so many brilliant people spending their entire lives on it? And why is a relatively obscure autowriter the only person saying the emperor has no clothes?” Fair question—but it’s also one you could have asked regarding alchemy 800 years ago. There were thousands of utterly brilliant people who wasted their lives looking for the transmutation of lead into gold, because at the time it seemed no more difficult than many other problems which were eventually solved. Most educated men of the 13th century thought alchemy was considerably more possible than the creation of a flying machine, for example.
Autonomous vehicles, along with the “artificial intelligence” to operate them, have seemed just around the corner since at least 1980—but we are no closer to either. We’re just lowering the bar and redefining the terms. When we say “artificial intelligence” today, we really mean “machine learning,” which just means throwing a lot of computing power at things we knew way back in the ’60s. I’ve done a little machine learning for various financial institutions in the past decade. If you give me enough processor time, I can “teach” a computer to “recognize” a picture of a flower about as well as a two-year-old. The difference is that the two-year-old is smart enough to recognize an oil painting of a flower as well … and a crayon drawing … and a cartoon … and a flower made of LEGOs. All of these things are beyond the “AI” that we have right now.
Similarly, the “autonomous vehicles” predicted in magazines like OMNI functioned more or less like human drivers, only better. Forty years later, we’ve drastically simplified the task at hand to “Level 4” autonomy, which basically means “a vehicle that can operate in a thoroughly known and mapped area with no severe weather, no interruption of wireless signal, and no truly out-of-bounds situations like, say, a deer standing in the middle of the road while a child stands on the sidewalk near to said deer.” In 1996, Carnegie Mellon built “Navlab 5,” a Pontiac Trans Sport that went cross-country without human help for all but 50 miles of the journey using a very careful selection of roads. The best “autonomous” vehicles today are a little better than that—but they still freeze up when it’s time to do something absolutely crazy like pulling into a gas station or taking a detour around a temporarily closed road. This, despite the fact that today’s average desktop computer is more than a thousand (yes, thousand) times as powerful as its 1995 equivalent. If increasing the processing power by over a thousand times doesn’t let you pull into a gas station, do you think that increasing it another thousand times is going to do the trick? What about that scenario of the deer in the road and the child on the sidewalk? Navlab 5 had about a million transistors; the Playstation 4 has 5.8 billion. How many transistors do you need to make a decision between a deer and a child?
The people at the real technical end of autonomous driving know all of this, of course. They know that there is no way to put “robot cars” on the road with real human drivers, if only because the robot cars will have to be programmed to let everyone cut in front of them. The only way this can possibly work is if you take the human drivers out of the equation. This makes the problem much simpler. You line the roads with sensors, and if there’s any kind of problem you just shut the whole section of road down until some kind of external agent sorts it out. Those of you who live in cities with subways will recognize this approach to the problem, because that’s how subways work—or how they would work if we trusted subways to be operated by robots. You’d think train systems would be far easier to automate than cars, and you’d be right, but in actual practice very few train systems are automated, and they tend to be back-and-forth zero-complexity systems with low possibility of human interference like, say, the terminal shuttles at the Tampa airport. Think about that. In order for us to trust a computer to run one train back and forth on one piece of track, with no other trains in sight, we have to give that train FAA security. You’ll notice the monorails at Disney World aren’t automated; they have a much more complicated process. Ten years from now, you might be able to automate the monorail, if you were willing to shed a little human blood in the process.
If the co-existence of autonomous vehicles and human drivers is a not-gonna-happen-dot-com thing—and it is—then it should be obvious that the whole thing is somewhere between a grift and a scam. And indeed it has all the characteristics of a scam, from the never-fulfilled promises to the constant redefinition of terms. Like quantum computing and “strong AI” and any number of other wacky technological goose chases, the autonomous vehicle “business” is dependent on there being a knowledge gap between the people writing the checks and the people selling the product. It is also dependent on there being a whole bunch of people in the media who “freaking love science” but whose eyes glaze over at the mention of “NP-complete” or “Fast Fourier transform,” because those are the people who report breathlessly on autonomous vehicles with the same lack of critical thought they would likely display if you could show them a convincing-looking, but completely fake, lightsaber.
The short-term goal of the grift is, obviously, to get rich and get out. The long-term goal is more dangerous: to redefine the American road as a place where human-operated vehicles are expressly forbidden in favor of “dumb cars” that rely heavily on central control and communication to operate in any sort of even remotely satisfactory fashion. At that point, all the stock-market bets will pay off and all the investors will be made whole. Which is a nice way of saying that all the “technology” in “self-driving cars” is actually the same “technology” used for any number of other corporate purposes, whether that purpose is the eternal renewal of copyright for lucrative intellectual property or the implementation of laws that sound like they are keeping companies honest but in practice merely raise the barriers to entry for potential competitors all the way to the troposphere. It’s the “technology” of lobbying the government and manipulating public opinion towards a particular end. And the practitioners of that particular technology are both highly skilled and highly compensated, so they usually get their way.
Which brings me back to the prediction at the head of this column: You are never going to share the road with a significant number of autonomous vehicles. Consider it an ironclad fact. The only thing left to determine is: Will this statement be true because the autonomous cars will never arrive, or because the human drivers will be bullied off the roads? That is up to you, and me, and all of us. Take it seriously.
Repair Mistakes & Blunders
From Rock Auto
A new battery in my Ford Ranger would completely discharge following a few days of the truck not being driven. With a good battery, and an alternator that tested fine, I thought the problem had to be a short somewhere in the wiring. So, I got out my ohmmeter and started pulling fuses while watching for a change on the meter's display. After testing all the fuses and relays in the engine compartment and not discovering a problem, I moved on to the interior fuse panel. All the fuses tested without the slightest change in the ohmmeter reading.
That night, I was tossing and turning and thinking that if it takes two or three days to discharge the battery then it has to be a very small short. And, it would be difficult for me to see such a small fluctuation on the ohmmeter while glancing between the fuse panel and the meter. The next day, I asked my wife to keep a laser focus on the meter while I pulled fuses. After a half-day of her staring at the meter, no short was found.
Later that evening, I reached for my phone and realized I had left it in the truck. As I walked up to the truck in the dark garage, I saw the glove compartment door outlined in bright light. The switch that turns off the glove compartment light was broken, allowing the light in the glove compartment to stay on continuously and drain the battery!
Problem solved and lesson learned. Completely check for the obvious first. I had checked the dome light, door switches and trailer light hook-up but overlooked the light in the glove compartment.
Glen in Tennessee
Important DMV Info
Certain DMV offices have opened for specific services by appointment only as part of a phased reopening plan. Please visit dmvnow.com/reopening for more information.
How the Appointment System Works
Three months of appointment slots are available at any time on the calendar. Each day, a new day of appointments is added to the end of the available 90-day period.
New appointment slots will be posted multiple times every hour. Cancellations can also create earlier availability in the calendar. If you do not see availability, all the posted appointment slots are currently booked.
Scheduling through the website is the most direct route to obtain an appointment. While our DMV Direct call center agents are able to schedule appointments, they also use this website and will see the same availability that you see. Our representatives do not have the ability to create new appointments outside of what is available on the calendar.
We encourage you to check back regularly for updated availability and newly opened locations. DMV is working hard to equip and safely reopen offices as quickly as possible.
CAUTION!!! - if you mail anything to DMV be sure to keep a couple of copies of everything! DMV will lose your stuff! Keep copies!!!
Can Sugar Destroy a Car's Engine?
From Popular Mechanics
It’s a car culture legend, passed down from generation to generation, that an angry person with a bag of sugar can leave your car dead on its axles. Add sugar to gas tank, turn its fuel into a sugary petroleum mess, and wait for the owner to start the car and blow the engine.
It’s also a myth.
Sugar doesn’t dissolve in gasoline. If you add it to gasoline, it stays in granular form.
“We have not seen an engine damaged or destroyed by sugar in a gas tank, nor heard of any truly plausible or established cases of this happening,” says Mohammad Fatouraie, manager of engineering at Bosch, one of the auto industry’s main suppliers of fuel system components.
The Thing About Filters...
A sugar crystal is about 200 microns, a measure of size for small particles. Filters in a car’s fuel system capture particles much smaller than that, so suspended sugar granules in the gasoline would be caught by any one of several filters before they ever made it into the engine. There’s a fabric, sock-like filter surrounding the fuel pump pickup in the gas tank, an in-line fuel filter at the tank pump inlet, a filter on the high-pressure fuel pump in the engine bay, and filters at the inlet of each fuel injector.
Even in a carbureted engine, which doesn’t have fuel injectors or their individual filters, there’s a low chance that sugar would ever make it that far into the engine after all the other filters in the system.
Sugar is roughly twice as dense as gasoline, says Fatouraie, so some granules wouldn’t even make it all the way to the filters. Particles denser than fuel settle in pockets and corners of low-velocity flow, and there are many low-velocity pockets between the gas tank and the engine. If someone dumped sugar in your gas tank and you removed the tank to clean it out, you’d see a lot of the sugar granules collected on the bottom. It could clog the in-tank filters and prevent fuel from flowing properly, and while it’s possible that prolonged running of a car with clogged filters could burn out the fuel pump, Chris Louis, director of engineering at Bosch, says it’s unlikely to reach that point.
If you knew someone dumped a lot of sugar in your gas tank, you’d just have to drop the tank to clean it out and replace the sock filter. You may as well test the fuel pump, to be safe, and if its flow rate doesn’t match the factory specifications, you’d replace it.
Your engine would be fine.
So What Can Destroy an Engine?
So if you shouldn’t be worried about sugar, what should you worry about being added to your tank? People posit that dumping water into a gas tank would cause the kind of damage that sugar can’t, because engines need their fuel to combust and water prevents that. They’re right, but it’d take much larger quantities of water to do serious damage than an angry car vandal with pitcher could carry.
After all, ever since E10 was mandated in North America, there’s been water in every gallon of fuel you put in your tank, says Fatouraie. You’ve seen E10 on gas pumps, and it means that 10 percent of every gallon you pump is ethanol, a corn-based alcohol fuel that appeared on the American market in 1990. There are other popular gasoline-ethanol mixes at pumps, too, such as E15 and E85 that are, respectively, 15 percent and 85 percent ethanol.
Alcohol is very hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water easily. Moisture-laden air inside the gas tank will pass water into the fuel’s ethanol, and so any car you see on the road today already has some water coursing through its fuel lines. It’s just not enough to cause damage. Even adding water outright to a gas tank—cue our angry pitcher-toting vandal—would cause no harm, says Louis, as long as it doesn’t dilute it so much that there isn’t enough fuel left to combust and power the engine.
It’d just displace some of the liquid fuel in the air/fuel mixture in the engine’s combustion chambers, but oxygen sensors and on-board computers would automatically compensate for the leaner mixture and the engine would run fine without injuring itself.
If the piston can’t complete its stroke in the chamber because there’s so much non-combustible water, the engine becomes hydro-locked. It’d cause considerable damage, Louis says, but under normal cases the engine would stop operating before failure is catastrophic. Like the sugar myth that inspired it, this myth is based more on urban-legend.
People often say every myth starts with a grain of truth, but there’s nothing concrete to this one. Early mentions of sugaring someone’s gas tank to get even with them date from the 1950s. Physics haven’t changed. It just all it adds up to is a big waste of sugar.
Support the RPM Act
Sign at this link: www.votervoice.net/SEMA/campaigns/45394/respond
The RPM Act is common-sense, bi-partisan legislation to protect law-abiding citizens who convert cars, trucks and motorcycles into racing vehicles. The bill clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of converting it into a racecar used exclusively in competition. It also confirms that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment.
UPDATE TO THE RPM ACT - click link below
Model A Pickup
Noted Environmentalist Apologizes For The ‘Climate Scare’
From Life Site News
Michael Shellenberger, a hero of the environmental movement, has recanted his earlier views that 'climate change' is an existential threat to human civilization. Why is this important? Because Congress and our General Assembly are passing laws and making policy that is based on climate change and these changes have resulted in energy taxes along with government trying to get us out of gas and diesel vehicles and into electric ones. ~ Fred
One of the heroes of the environmental movement has recanted his earlier views that “climate change” is an existential threat to human civilization. He says he is now embarrassed by his previous views, which he expounded for years as an expert in the field.
In a column published at Forbes.com, and subsequently removed by the editors, Michael Shellenberger now says, “humans are not causing a sixth mass extinction, the Amazon is not the lungs of the world, climate change is not making natural disasters worse,” and denies many other shibboleths of the environmental left. Within hours of its publication, Shellenberger’s piece was removed from the Forbes website.
Shellenberger is a long-time revered member of the environmental movement, the founder of many campaigns, and an author of several books related to environmental issues. He says he has remained silent about his controversial views for a long time because he was afraid of losing friends and funding. He points to what happened to climate scientist Roger Pielka, who was chased out of the climate movement for the heretical view that increased coastal damage is not caused by more hurricanes but by overbuilding in coastal areas.
Though a climate skeptic for some time, Shellenberger decided only recently to speak up because of the increasingly hysterical statements of climate alarmists. Last year, U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the world would end in 12 years due to climate change. Green journalist Bill McKibben said climate change is the greatest challenge humans have ever faced said that it will wipe out civilization. And perhaps most concerning to Shellenberger was recent polling that shows half the people surveyed around the world think human extinction is coming. What’s more, one in five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.
Shellenberger is publishing a new book called “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All” making the case that “factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress, the most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land.”
He also argues, “the most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium.” Shellenberger has become a cheerleader for nuclear energy. He also says, “Greenpeace didn’t save the whales; switching from whale oil to petroleum in palm oil did,” and that “Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon.”
He asserts that his new beliefs come from “the best available scientific studies, including those conducted by or excepted by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], the food and agriculture organization of the UN, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and other leading scientific bodies.”
Without a doubt, Shellenberger’s fears will be realized. If history is any indicator, climate alarmists will punish him. He will lose friends and funding.
Fears of climate change have been used at the UN and elsewhere as a rationale for reducing population and for the spread of UN-style family-planning and abortion. One of the Vatican’s guests at the launch of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si, John Schellnhuber, who also serves on the Pontifical Academy of Science, has said the “carrying capacity of Earth” is no more than 1 billion people, leaving open speculation what he would propose to do with the remaining 6 billion.
Customs To Expand License Plate Reading Program Nationwide
From Nextgov: Nextgov Big Brother is watching ~ Fred
Customs will have access to commercial datasets including license plate images and data from parking garages, toll booth cameras and financial institutions, as well as local governments and law enforcement.
The Customs and Border Protection agency has been collecting vehicle information at the border using license plate readers for years. Now, the agency will begin incorporating third-party license plate reader data collected from local governments, law enforcement and the private sector and maintained by a commercial vendor.
A privacy impact assessment published July 7 outlines the agency’s plan to incorporate datasets maintained by third-party vendors as part of its investigations. The latest update is the first since December 2017, when CBP authorized the use of license plate readers for data collection.
“To meet its vast mission requirements, CBP relies on a variety of law enforcement tools and techniques for law enforcement and border security,” the PIA states. “One such tool is license plate reader (LPR) technology, which consists of high-speed cameras and related equipment mounted on vehicles or in fixed locations that automatically and without direct human control locate, focus on, and photograph license plates and vehicles that come into range of the device.”
Each data collection—or “read”—gathers the vehicle’s license plate number; an image of the vehicle, including make and model; where it is registered; the location and owner of the camera; and any associated location information, including GPS coordinates. “LPR technology may also capture—within the image—the environment surrounding a vehicle, which may include drivers and passengers,” the impact assessment notes.
In the past, officers—customs officials—and agents—Border Patrol—could only access data from CBP-owned and operated readers.
With the release of the PIA, CBP can also use data from third-party vendors. Those databases contain information collected by “private businesses (e.g., parking garages), local governments (e.g., toll booth cameras), law enforcement agencies, and financial institutions via their contracted repossession companies,” the PIA states.
“The LPR commercial aggregator services store, index, and sell access to the images, along with the time and location of the collection. CBP will only have access to images from U.S. based cameras that are part of the commercial aggregator’s services,” the document adds.
CBP offices may have already obtained data from commercial databases prior to the release of the PIA, the document states, but officers were restricted from making “operational use” of the data before the PIA was published.
Using the new system, CBP agents and officers can enter a license plate number, the make or model of a vehicle or the location of the license plate reader and receive “any responsive records” from the database, “with a primary focus on reads occurring within the last 30 days,” the document states.
According to the PIA, aggregating third-party data with its own resources will enable CBP investigators to:
Identify individuals and vehicles that may need additional scrutiny when attempting to cross the border.
Enhance both officer and public safety by enabling enforcement actions to occur in locations that minimize the inherent dangers associated with border enforcement encounters.
Help resolve matters that might otherwise be closed for lack of viable leads.
Instead of adding the commercial data to its existing databases, CBP is using an API to query the vendors’ database through the Automated Targeting System. CBP updated the ATS privacy documents to include commercial license plate data—along with other additions—at the end of May.
In the privacy document, officials liken the new approach to using other commercial data interfaces like LexisNexis.
“CBP has created a web service through which authorized ATS users may create vehicle displays that present vehicles of possible interest, query historical LPR data, and use advanced analytics for enhanced review and analysis,” the document states.
That said, the results of those searches can be saved in ATS if they are pertinent to ongoing investigations. If not, the queries are deleted within four to 24 hours—cached temporarily to speed up repeat queries within a short time span.
“Location-based commercially aggregated data creates a number of privacy risks,” the PIA notes, including unauthorized access or misuse by CBP employees, as well as from external actors like hackers.
To limit the potential for internal abuses, “access to this sensitive information is strictly limited and auditable,” the document states. “CBP has limited access to the commercial LPR information through a newly created role within ATS that requires a multi-level approval process.”
That process includes only using the capability to “identify locations and movements of already identified subjects and associates believed to be involved in illegal activity,” the document states [original emphasis included].
The privacy document cites several risks to individuals, including that people not under suspicion of a crime might be “unaware of or unable to consent to CBP access to their license plate information.”
“This risk cannot be fully mitigated,” the agency admits, as “CBP cannot provide timely notice of license plate reads obtained from various sources outside of its control.”
The only way for a person to truly protect their privacy from these systems is to opt out by not driving in areas with license plate readers, “which may pose significant hardships and be generally unrealistic,” the document states.
“Although the lack of notice and participation poses a privacy risk, especially to individuals who are not under investigation, CBP helps reduce the impact of this risk by only accessing license plate information when there is circumstantial or supporting evidence to a lead and does not retain any information not associated with a law enforcement event,” according to the PIA.
If all other uses are performed appropriately and risks mitigated, one substantial privacy issue remains: the mosaic effect, in which lots of seemingly unintrusive datapoints reveal sensitive information when aggregated together.
“For example, LPR data from third party sources may, in the aggregate, reveal information about an individual’s travel over time, or provide details about an individual’s private life, leading to privacy concerns or implicating constitutionally-protected freedoms,” the document notes.
CBP officials said this risk has been partially mitigated by limiting how far back investigators can reach to five years and by only retaining search results if the information is pertinent to an investigation.
Additional steps are being taken to limit potential abuse across the board, according to the PIA. These include strict user roles and privileged access controls; comprehensive system and privacy training; visible in-system warnings about valid uses; and regular system and process audits.
In this case, use of a third-party system could decrease the potential for malicious data leaks and theft, as well. In June 2019, CBP reported a “malicious cyberattack” on its license plate database when a subcontractor illegally transferred images to its own database, which was then the target of a breach.
While data maintained by a commercial vendor could be compromised in an attack, under the new framework CBP is only responsible for protecting the saved query results.
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