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2022-09-30 07:05 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 318 references
[Comments enabled]  

If you're a DeSantis lover click away now.

You were fairly warned.

Ian came roaring into the Naples/Port Charlotte area as a strong hurricane and trashed a bunch of people's homes and businesses.  Hurricanes do that, as South Florida was rudely awakened to by Andrew in the "modern era", not that Andrew was the first -- nor will Ian be the last.

I lived in Florida for 20 years, on the water, and Ivan came to visit quite-closely, along with a bunch of lesser storms over that time.  From roughly June to November I was checking what was up in the tropics on a more-or-less daily basis.  It goes with living in the State, and trips out of town on an extended basis during those months are unwise, especially if you can't abort them and get back within 48 hours or so.  I have a bit of a perspective on these things, as you might imagine.

Unlike a tornado or earthquake you get plenty of warning with a hurricane.  Two or three days is usual from "you're likely to get it" to getting it, and frequently you get five days of warning, although the uncertainty at that timeline is frequently large.  Being just 50 miles off one way or the other on where it goes is the difference between taking it in the face and it raining on your back porch, as I pointed out when Michael came in with first-hand live footage.  It rained and was a bit windy in my Lanai.  Over toward Panama City and Mexico Beach they got pasted.

A friend of mine lives in Venice.  They're fine; a bit of cosmetic damage, but nothing serious.  Fort Myers?  Pasted.

"Climate change" is the bogeyman for whatever happens with the weather.  Its nonsense.  You need only look at the actual record of hurricanes to find plenty of really nasty ones that have hit the US, including Florida.

But before A/C made it so popular, and particularly post-Andrew and may I remind you the population of the state has risen about 60% since then the simple reality is that if you put more people on what was swampland, fill it and then pave it over, you put more value in both assets and humans in the path of the natural destructive forces of nature while at the same time building things on subsiding (that is, sinking) ground and, to top off the stupidity, you also destroy much of the natural buffer that used to be there in the form of those swamps you turned into subdivisions and commercial buildings.

CNN ever pointed this out in a shocking bit of truth wildly out of character with their usual histrionics.  But what they didn't point out is yet another part of the reason for the destructiveness of these storms -- frauds.

Post-Andrew the state toughened building codes, and that was good.  But what they didn't do was put anything into criminally punishing firms and individuals who commit fraud against said codes, nor have they gone after the myriad scammers that show up after every storm both in the contracting business and among homeowners themselves.

After every one of these storms you can find "newer" houses -- post Andrew -- that clearly did not meet the roofing codes.  How do you know?  Because the evidence is in the middle of the street or speared through the neighbor's building missing the allegedly-required enhancements.  Stopping this is not difficult: First you throw every contractor personally in prison who cheats in this manner no matter when they did it when the storm comes and the roof is in the next door neighbor's back yard and you throw in prison all of the so-called county inspectors who either didn't actually inspect or knowingly signed off on work that was crap.

personally caught a bit of this but not in storm mitigation -- in my case it was electrical work that I had done to install a dock and it was done wrong.  The county "inspector" signed off on the work but obviously never opened the newly-installed subpanel and look, which means he didn't inspect anything.  I subsequently found it when I went to install a whole-house surge suppressor, fixed it and reamed him a new orifice but he should have gone to prison because it was possible, given time and ordinary wear and tear, that this could have led to a hazardous condition including possibly electrocuting me while I was on my dock at some point in the future.

You see when it comes to permitted work all such scams must have not one but two people committing crimes -- first, the contractor who does the not-to-code thing, and then the so-called "inspector" who doesn't actually inspect, whether out of laziness or perhaps something more-direct.

The same thing applies to roofs.  If there's supposed to be a secondary barrier (basically an adhesive rubber membrane) there so if your shingles get ripped off it doesn't rain in the house for the next eight hours where's the inspector verifying it is in fact there before it gets covered up?  Ditto for the hurricane "clips" and ties again, before they're covered up and inaccessible.

Then there are towns and other entities (including HOAs) that prohibit cutting of trees that are in the fall line of your roof.  In a hurricane-prone area that's nuts and should lead to criminal liability for the HOAs and municipalities involved.  It is not that the wind blows its what the wind blows and a 100' tree coming down on your roof is going to destroy it and at least part of your house every time.

Now let's add to this the outrageous games played by both homeowners and others when it comes to "insurance."  I've seen it.  Someone has an older roof, it needs replacement but they don't feel like paying the check for that.  Tropical storm comes in, no worse than an average thunderstorm in terms of wind and suddenly they have "roof damage" and claim it on insurance.  That's fraudHave you ever heard of someone going to prison for this?  The roofing company knows damned well there was no storm damage and certainly not worthy of what was claimed, as does the "homeowner."

Then there is the orgy of schemers and scammers that inevitably show up after these storms.  Seen that too.  All I'll observe in that regard is that sharks have a purpose and they are often hungry, but once again nobody ever goes to prison for any of this.

Could Florida fix a lot of this?  You bet.  But they never have, and won't.  After all it generates a lot of business activity, doesn't it?

Could Florida, after Andrew, insisted that those who wish to build or do major repairs and upgrades in a surge-prone area do so with no living level below the highest reasonable surge level including reasonably-expected wave height on top of that?  Yep.  Oh, but the old people want a slab-on-grade single-floor house on the water!  Uh...... ok then that particularly house or other structure is deemed uninsurable and the prospective owner, before its built, signs a permanent waiver that gets attached to the deed.  If the storm comes (and it eventually will), so sorry so sad that's just tough crap.

Oh but then those palatial mansions could not be insured!  Correct -- and maybe they wouldn't be built either.

Look at some of the pictures.  Many of these homes have intact roofs.  The structure didn't fail, it flooded.  There's not a damn thing you can do about that other than don't build anything you care about that low.  Mexico Beach was full of places that were cheap vacation spots or cheap residences when built because the people who put them on the beach back then knew damn well that a hurricane would destroy them.  That was then, 30 or 40 years later said "cheap place to look at the nice ocean" gets flipped a few times, embellished and suddenly is a million dollar+ house that still gets destroyed when the hurricane comes -- and it always eventually does.

Do we know that building things right through code changes works?  You bet.  Witness Charlie, which trashed Punta Gorda.  Ian came through the same place, almost-exactly.  The school and courthouse, both of which were badly damaged by Charlie, were rebuilt properly.  Guess what?  Neither took so much as a broken window from Ian.

Of course there's also the barrier island problem, which is a whole different level of crazy.  Barrier islands are not permanent.  They never have been.  Oh sure, maybe they are from the perspective of a human lifetime, but maybe not too.  Sanibel Island anyone?

Hell, Navarre Beach had a pass cut through by man in the 1960s -- and shortly thereafter Hurricane Betsy had other ideas and closed it back off!  One storm erased what man created in a few hours.

I get it.

People like to live near the water.

They bid up property near the water but don't want to build a house on structural piers that will laugh at 15' of surge and then a structure on said piers that will laugh at 150mph winds.  They also want to shift the cost of "beach renourishment" to be paid in part by someone else to get around the fact that nature reshapes beaches all the time, frequently via storms, and if you don't intervene at very high expense your house on piers might be 50' into the surf.

I get it.

Really, I do.

But then we must accept that we're basically giving the finger to nature, and there's a reason we call it mother nature, frequently using another word right after "mother" rather than "nature."  Having lived on the Florida Gulf Coast for 20 years the standard "chestnut" of people who live there is that about once a decade you get a "good one."  Maybe not in the face, just close, but close enough to matter and when enough of those decades pass one of them will be "in your face."

It's not "global" anything; there have always been hurricanes, including really bad hurricanes -- and there always will be.

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2022-09-28 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 612 references
[Comments enabled]  

In case you haven't noticed productivity has been in the tank.  Even the government admits it, but you see it everywhere.  Staff in stores that aren't doing much if anything at all, surly assistance, firms apologizing when you come in the door because they're "short-staffed" and similar.

Productivity is simple to define: It is doing more with less.

That's all.

It is, over the five or so thousand years of recorded human history, the single event that moves the common status of mankind forward.

But now, it has stopped.

What you often hear is "well, the government paid people to sit at home and drink beer" and, indeed, that did happen.  Remember who asked for and made that happen: A so-called "Red" President who was also the self-described "king of Debt."

Of course anyone who has ever put too much on the credit card knows how that turns out; the elation of that weekend in Vegas complete with plenty of booze, maybe some hookers and blow on top turns into serious pain when the bill comes.  It doesn't even have to be Vegas, of course; the local pub and hanging out with the homies works just as well to screw up your world if you put it all on the plastic and can't, when you get down to it, afford that.

Somehow we seem to think that this doesn't apply at a national scale.  One need only look at public opinion when it comes to Congress; everyone hates Congress except for their guy or gal, who they vote for once again because they bring home the credit from the government and spread it around.

How many of said people vote someone out when that's not funded by prior taxation?  Zero.  Ever.

How many of said people vote someone out when they sit back and allow things like NY and California to try to shut down the use of carbon-based fuels, upon which literally every advancement of human achievement over the years has been predicated upon?  Zero.  Ever.

How many of said people vote someone out of office because they will not put a stop to the scam of claiming something is "green" when in fact all that was done is shove the pollution overseas where the people are incapable of resisting, such as is the case with (in particular) lithium-based batteries?  Zero.  Ever.

How many of said people vote someone out of office because every single hospital and other medical institution has, through policies and acts that facially violate 100+ year old law, specifically 15 USC Chapter 1, and by doing so have taken medical expense from 3% of the economy to roughly 20% and, at the same time, have pushed and even tried to force acceptance of various procedures and drugs upon the population?  Zero.  Ever.

How many of said people understand that the entire medical industry is by definition parasitic; that is, it produces nothing and at best it can enable someone to economically produce where they otherwise could not, and that paying for acts rather than results is guaranteed to have a net negative outcome for society as a whole -- and thus this must be stopped and said elected representatives must be compelled to do so by, at minimum, loss of their job if they don't?  Zero.  Ever.

How many of said people understand that the entirety of the last 40 years when it comes to stock and other asset prices (e.g. houses) has been predicated on an always-declining interest-rate environment and thus the interest expense for a given amount of debt has continually trended lower.  Nothing, of course, can continue forever and that is no exception.  In other words this scheme was always going to end and now has, so no, you weren't "geniuses", you were exploiting an unnatural and in fact destructive set of circumstances for your short-term personal gain at the expense of your children and the nation's future?  Zero.  Ever.

Can what is an impending calamity be stopped?  Sure.

Will it hurt more to stop it now than it would have to stop in 2000, or in 2007?

You bet.

I've pointed that out several times over the roughly fifteen years I've penned this column; the longer you keep the distortion going the worse the economic pain is that you must undertake to resolve the problem.

Do recall that both "Blue" and "Red" sides of the aisle have continually refused to accept any of said facts.  Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden -- all the same in that regard.

What was a modest amount of pain in 2000, and a moderate amount of pain in 2007 is now very severe pain and yet if we try to deny arithmetic once again and engage in yet more schemes and scams instead of facing the facts that irrespective of whether you believe in climate change as a result of man or not we cannot have a viable modern society without carbon based fuels as its core simply on the laws of physics, and that Congress must not spend money it does not first tax we are going to continue to dig the hole deeper and deeper until we find ourselves with electric bills so high that we can't pay them and industry will shut down because they can't pay said bill either.

This, and only this, has made possible replacement of actual output with parasitic or even directly harmful acts to our modern way of life including alleged "advancements" that cannot work because they violate the laws of physics and/or mathematics.


Citizenship is not a spectator sport and if you refuse to discharge your responsibility as a citizen then very bad things can and are likely to happen.

The time for the appearance of capacity for such scams to "work" is over because it eventually had to be over.  If you do not recognize that inevitability you are claiming time has no value and thus people will not demand to be paid for said value of time.  Yet this is known false by every single human being on the planet from the point of first self-recognition of time by a young child.  The time I spent writing this column I can never get back no matter what I do.  The time you spend drinking a beer, working or watching a football game you can never get back either.  Every self-aware individual knows this from their earliest childhood.  Time always has had value and always will yet we've denied that for forty years as a matter of policy and trope.  It was always a lie and worse, we've refused to stop lying to ourselves and enabling others, along with ourselves, to exploit said lie for alleged "gains" because being honest about an immutable fact of existence means not having everything we want today.

I know you all like the basics of modern life -- a refrigerator, a stove, an an A/C unit, never mind convenient heat in the winter.

All of that can go away if you don't face facts.

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2022-09-26 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 441 references
[Comments enabled]  

Want to have a better life?

Stop being around people who have no interest in better anything, including most importantly their interaction with you.

There's always an available excuse to keep someone who does that in your orbit.  I don't care if the issue is that they're wildly obese and thus unhealthy, they are convinced the world is ending tomorrow and thus are drinking or drugging themselves half-to-death (and will eventually make it entirely to death if they keep it up) or are simply toxic beyond reason, whether it is being scared of this thing floating in the air or that and demand that you take steps to accommodate them or they scream that everyone but them is a "whatever-is-shiny-today"-ist.

Folks, social interaction is a two-edged sword.  Yes, its positive to get out and be around other people, interacting with them socially in a positive way.  But it is also equally negative or worse for you to do so with people who lie to themselves or project damaging or worse "features" upon others.

I constantly hear people say "oh its a phase" or "but this person needs my help."

Really?  How much of that "help" becomes reciprocal in your direction when things are going poorly for you?

Further, there is a huge difference between being supportive for someone who through no fault of their own has a horrible thing happen and those who put themselves in the position they're in through their own choices.  The former is not anyone's "fault"; a tornado that rips through your house isn't something you can reasonably mitigate against.  That's not what I'm talking about here, and taking someone (including possibly their family) in on a limited basis if that sort of thing happens, provided they do not abuse your offer to evade taking responsibility for finding a new place to live or repairing their damaged residence is reasonable.

In short if you want your life to be better and more-balanced get rid of the people in your orbit who make it less-so.

So-called "social media" exists because said interaction can easily become an addiction. Any addiction is by definition open to exploitation by others, and this sort of thing is no exception.

Yes, this extends to faith organizations and to some extent work as well.

While it is certainly true that just getting up from the chair at work, if you have no other job lined up right now, can result in bad outcomes the refusal to seek other options as well as continuing to bring that toxic environment out of the work place and into your personal life is a choice and to the extent you offload it on others you are now asking them to take your consequence just as a "friend" does so when they do that to you.

When it comes to places of purely-voluntary interaction such as a club, church or otherwise if you remain in your seat when this so much as starts then you've taken it upon yourself.

Delete those elements of your life from your daily experience and, if challenged by the institutions or people who you no longer interact with (all of whom by definition aren't very good at figuring out what they're doing and why its toxic, are they?) tell them why. 

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2022-09-25 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 340 references
[Comments enabled]  

You see, many claim we need "more money" for such, one being John Kirby:

UNITED NATIONS, New York – The U.S. border will need "record" investment to ensure that criminal or terrorist elements do not slip in, Fox News Digital learned during an interview with National Security Agency Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby. 

That's nonsense.

You need only do the following:

  • Anyone who comes across the border at other than a regular and marked legitimate point of entry is instantly deported back across whatever border they violated.  There are no exceptions and it does not matter what the circumstances are that led to them doing so, nor does it matter how far they get into the US before being caught, or how long ago they entered.  We have plenty of regularized entry points into the United States; any attempt at subterfuge is simply defined as an offense, you have no right to parole or to seek whatever relief you were attempting if you use it, you're gone same-day, period, every time.  I don't give a wet crap if Mexico (or Canada for that matter) doesn't like this; their nation is the one allowing the illegal crossings and they can stop it using whatever process or level of force they deem appropriate.  We can and should enforce the return back across said border with military power if necessary -- yes, that means if Mexico lets people approach and cross illegally through our border with them we'll be happy to return said persons using military power to insure they are in fact returned to Mexico.  A person who is here illegally now can avoid being subject to this by self-deporting and then presenting themselves at a regular port of entry and going through the proper process.

  • A second attempt to enter on an "irregular" basis results in a permanent ban on entry to the United States.  Again, no exceptions will be made and yes, that includes if they have citizen or green card relatives in the US already.  When someone is deported for the first attempt they are informed of this so they have fair warning as to the consequence of trying it again.

  • Any attempt to violate said border by force is declared ex-ante to be an invasion and met with deadly force.  No exceptions.  If you mass with others to try to break down a wall, fence or other crossing point, or try to use force to get across the border, including cutting fences or otherwise damaging or scaling barriers you get shot.  This is clearly noted in enough languages at said border points that nobody can claim they didn't have "fair warning"; they do have fair warning, and just like attempting to rob someone who is holding a gun on you if you're that stupid then take it up with God.

  • Anyone presenting themselves at a border crossing claiming "asylum" who has not presented said claim to a US Consulate available to them somewhere between their point of origin and attempted entry must remain where they presented it on the other side until the claim is adjudicated.  Again, no exceptions.  If you're Mexican and present at the US/Mexico border, fine and well.  If you try to come from Venezuela you had multiple other opportunities including in Mexico and didn't use them; your claim is denied because you deliberately attempted to evade screening of the validity of your claim at multiple points.  Period.  Again, we make this clear via publication worldwide and we have consulates and similar offices all over the world who's job is, in part, to do exactly this.

  • Anyone hiring someone in the United States must run them through E-Verify and put the control number from the system on their 941 and tax deposit information form as proof that it was done.  There is no "additional" burden for this on a recurring basis, only that you use the system once at the time of hiring because you already must file the 941s and submit the informational returns with every tax deposit so the IRS knows where the tax deposits go for Social Security, Medicare and income tax purposes.  There is also no burden on employees as you must already submit to the employer documentation that you're lawfully-entitled to work.  If you're an employer and don't do this you are criminally liable for harboring the person if they're illegally here.  It's not a fine, it's a felony and you go to prison.  Yes, including those who hire "help around the house" such as nannies and similar and I do not care how rich you are.  Period.  That's the thing about prison -- no matter how rich or poor you might be it sucks pretty-much equally for all, unlike a fine that is laughed at by those with sufficient amounts of money.

That's it.

This is trivial to do and it stops the illegal border crossings immediately at near-zero cost or expense.  Those here illegally who desire to actually be productive citizens will self-deport and then re-enter through regular process because not doing so risks permanent banishment with no parole.  If you're remain or enter here illegally you cannot work and if an employer tries to get cute and claim "but they had a (fake) social security card!" they go to prison.  If the E-Verify control number is valid but the credentials bogus then if the government is admitting those with forged credentials and allowing them to work we know where the blame is to be placed for that, and its not on the employer.  If you have a legitimate cause for entry under humanitarian grounds or simply wish to immigrate to the United States and become a citizen via regular channels then you can present yourself and make your case through regular channels.

If you attempt to use violence to unlawfully enter the United States you will be treated as a violent criminal because you are one as proved by your own actionsand whatever level of force that is necessary to prevent completion of your criminal act will be used.


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2022-09-23 07:30 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 589 references
[Comments enabled]  

.... but you ought to.

You're driving down the road and suddenly.... your car stops.

You are sitting at home, there's a nuclear plant a few miles away, and it blows up.

All sorts of nasty things happen.  Some of them happen because of bad luck; it happens.  And some occur because people are stupid.

But some of them happen for other reasons, and figuring out the "why" is important.

I just got back from a fairly long trip in my truck, pulling my trailer.  While there I noted some noise; the tires were getting rather old, they needed replacement anyway, they were truck (as opposed to "SUV") tires, so I figured I'd change them.  No harm, no foul.

I take truck to the tire place and buy 4 new tires.  The old still had some usable tread on them but the cracking was getting a bit alarming, they were seven years old and, while (being a truck) it has a full-size spare it is both dangerous and no fun if you have a blow-out, especially with a trailer on behind you.

On the way home from having the tires changed it becomes blindingly obvious I have a driveline problem; maybe a wheel bearing.  The noise isn't responsive to hard cornering (most of the time a wheel bearing is) nor particularly sensitive to acceleration/deceleration, but is proportional to road speed so that narrows it down; it's not in the engine or accessories and is in the wheel/drive system.

I stick the rear end on stands, chock-and-block the front, put it in gear and it's obvious -- its the differential.

Hmmm... the oil level is good.  The oil was changed about 15-20k miles ago, and I have always used full-synthetic oil of the manufacturer's spec (75w90 GL5.)  The oil looks fine when I drain it, I remove the cover, the gearset looks fine too except that there is a bit of silver on the magnet (that's not good.)  A local shop highly recommended for doing good work on custom trucks (which are cranked up and thus if its not right it'll blow up) can't get to it for two weeks and while their labor price is reasonable the delay is not, so up on stands it goes and I'm pulling it apart looking for the cause, like it or not.  Differentials are not rocket science but they're a bit above things like brakes in that you have lash, preload and engagement to worry about.  Quick inspection of the ring gear and what I can see of the pinion from the bottom shows a gearset in serviceable condition and the wear pattern shows engagement is right up the middle of where it should be.  In other words, at first blush everything looks ok.

So first, just because I'm that sort of guy and am now quite-curious about what's going on, after removing the axles I check the lash; it's in spec, .007.  Pull the chunk out and the pinion preload is also in-spec for a "used" bearing set (which it obviously is) but when checking that, with the chunk out, I can feel some roughness on rotation.

Hmmm..... that's not good up front.

The chunk's two bearings look and feel fine once I have it out.  Normal wear for 100k miles or so is evident as expected but  they're absolutely serviceable and smooth.  Remove pinion nut, drive out pinion, and..... we find the problem staring us in the face.

The damage, once the race is out, is wildly impressive:

Now that'll ruin your whole day -- or, if not caught, your whole differential.  I've seen some pretty-impressive damage over the years in various mechanical things but this, for something that has no collateral damage I can find, takes the cake.  I'd like to know where all the metal is that came off this; it wasn't on the magnet and yet that's a ferrous part (well, its supposed to be) so.... where'd it go?  I know where it didn't go, and that's getting ground up in the gearset because there's no evidence of that anywhere, and you'd certainly expect to find it.

But what I do know is that the lash and preload were in spec when torn down and of the four bearings in the unit only one was destroyed, and only the race.  The rollers on that bearing and the bearing portion itself were all in serviceable condition; the rollers had a lateral visible scratch down low but you couldn't catch a fingernail on it, which given the destruction of the race was quite remarkable and the running surface on the bearing is also serviceable -- but showing some evidence of the possible initiation of spalling on that surface as well if you look real close.

Now look at these two pictures, which are the front (smaller) and rear (larger) pinion bearings.  The rear one you have to destroy (removing the cage and rollers) to get off as you typically can't get a bearing breaker behind it on the pinion when installed, so that's exactly what I did in order to be able to press it off.


Note something verrrry interesting -- there is no Timken marking on the rear bearing itself.

A quick check with my calipers says that there is some variation in the large end of the rollers too; about a thousandth largest to smallest.  I may have to get out the mic and get a lot more-precise with this; I do not know what the acceptable tolerance is on those rollers, nor can I determine easily what sort of variation exists along their length since they're tapered and I do not have the equipment to be able to measure with enough accuracy to be confident in whatever number I was to offer up.

But what appears to be the case is that at the factory, 20 years ago, GM installed into my truck at least one not-matched (e.g. not Timken) bearing with an alleged Timken race which leads me to question whether that race is a counterfeit or is the bearing out of spec which generated point-loading (e.g. the rollers were uneven in size) and destroyed it.  There is no evidence the lash or preload was out of spec due to wear, the gearset itself is fine, all the rest of the bearings and races are serviceable including the axle bearings, the oil that was being used is as-specified by GM, I'm the original owner of the vehicle and nobody has been inside that differential since it left the factory until this happened nor has there ever been evidence of water intrusion or similar into the gear oil.

So why, other than a defective (whether due to not being what it should be or otherwise) did this bearing -- and only this -- fail in that fashion?

Yes, it's a 20 year old truck and thus far out of warranty, never mind the paint looking like crap (thanks for the crappy reformulation that causes this on virtually every vehicle over time, EPA.)  But it only has 100,000 miles on it as its purpose in life is as a tow vehicle and it has been quite trouble-free, all things considered, never mind living away from rust and thus I can still get basically anything apart using nothing more than hand tools so no, there's no explanation to be found in "well, it lived a hard live in the rust belt" because it hasn't and isn't.

Now think about what can happen if this sort of garbage occurs in the nuclear plant next door and, for those who think this is only a "newer" problem well, obviously not.  The truck was assembled at Janesville, a plant that has literally been bulldozed since.

Something to think about.

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