Nostalgia is more than just fondly remembering what was. It is a kind of lamenting what is. Sometimes, it can be both at once, as when what was and what is cross paths, the one arriving – the other, fading away.
Cars you can still realistically screw around with yourself, for instance. These are still around and many people still drive them daily. They are vehicles like my 2002 Nissan pick-up, which I recently relieved of one of its two factory installed catalytic converters. You may ask – why would I do such a thing? Hold that thought a moment. The point is I could do it.
I do not mean just that I could physically do it – though that is part of it. The important part is that I could do it without electronic repercussions. Shorn of the second of its two factory installed cats, the truck’s computer did not sound the alarm. Or rather, flash it. The “check engine” light (which is really a check emissions controls light) did not come on because the computer could not tell I had cut off the second cat, there being no sensor aft of where the cat had been. The one just ahead of it – which is still there – was probably installed where it was to assure that the exhaust gasses passing by had been chemically converted sufficiently by the first cat, snugged up close to the engine.
In any event, what the computer doesn’t know won’t hurt me is the point. I was able to get rid of the second cat without the truck policing me for doing it. The truck runs noticeably better now, too – which brings me to the why I did it.
The cat I cut off was as old as the truck and likely half-choked by accumulated carbon. By removing it, I restored the flow that had been lost and probably at least partially made up for the restriction of flow created by the first cat, still snugged up close to the engine, where it, too, has been accumulating carbon build-up within its honeycomb lattice of platinum and palladium for lo these past 21 years.
I also nixed the probably restrictive factory muffler for a much less restrictive (and much better sounding) “turbo” muffler.
The engine could now breath more freely again – and that redounded to my benefit in the form of peppier response from the engine and a less thirsty engine. I italicize this to salve the apoplexy of some who, upon reading this story, have become apoplectic over my having “defeated” an emissions-control device. Indeed I did. But the truck still has its primary cat and I am willing to bet the exhaust stream is still very “clean” – to use the over-used and never specifically defined word that is so beloved by the “environmentally” apoplectic.
How “clean” is sufficiently clean? The italics being an attempt at obtaining specificity. The “environmentally” apoplectic will say: As “clean” as demanded by the regulations and standards! If that means 97.5 percent “clean” then 97.3 percent is “dirty” – except of course it isn’t actually.
Not meaningfully, at any rate.
Emissions regs and standards in force since the ’90s are similar to China’s “zero COVID” regime. Which is, of course, enforcement for its own sake – at any cost. One person “testing positive” is sufficient to justify the immiseration of tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands) who’ve caused no harm and present no threat. Similarly, “emitting” a fraction of a fraction more than a standard or reg allows harms none and no one would even know, where it not for Pecksniffian government apparatchiks, who justify their existence by endlessly issuing new and harsher regs and standards because they cannot admit that the ones already issued have solved the problem originally posited to justify them.
“Noncompliance” – rather than material evidence of harm caused – is used to justify what was done to VW. And to all of us, who have been denied more efficient, more affordable and wrenchable (bear with) vehicles for the sake of complying with ever-more-draconian regulations and standards that must be complied with . . . for the sake of complying with them.
See also “masking” and “vaccinating.”
By unplugging my truck’s exhaust, I materially increased its efficiency. Fuel economy went up noticeably, by about 2 MPG. This is a much bigger difference than the not-noticeable difference between 97.5 and 97.3 percent and the environmentally apoplectic ought to take great comfort in it. By reducing the amount of gasoline my truck uses, I have reduced the amount of gas it emits. Including the gas the “environmentally” (in air-fingers quote marks to call attention to the amorphously scientific but chiefly emotive nature of this “discipline”) apoplectic are most apoplectically “concerned” about.
The one that amounts to 0.04 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Our fractional contribution to that fraction of a percent supposedly constituting an existential threat to us all.
Like the “unvaccinated.”
The “environmentally” apoplectic will nonetheless be outraged that I didn’t just buy a new second cat – and restore the truck’s exhaust system to factory-spec. No matter how much it cost me to do that. For the sake of restoring 97.5 percent over 97.3 percent (and nevermind whether the amount of gas my truck burns – and so emits – goes up by more than 0.3 percent).
I decided not to be. Instead, I saved myself a significant amount of money by not buying a new second cat – and by not burning up as much gas. All of which I was able to do because my truck is old enough to allow it.
It is wrenchable.
One can work on it, outside of the box. Try this with a new vehicle and its electronics will sound the alarm. It may even send out the alarm – as many new cars are designed to communicate with the vehicle manufacturer (and the DMV) and via such means impose the necessary correction. I here make mention of the pending remote-control “kill” switch all new vehicles will be required to have beginning with the 2025 models.
Some new vehicles are already so compliance-sensitive that it is necessary to take them to the dealer to change out the battery or a dead headlight. It is all part of the Internet of Things.
And I want no part of it.
The old stuff helps with that.
. . .
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