why not stainless steel?
Monday, March 17 2008
Last night when I explained to Gretchen how the vent loop between the living room and basement guestroom will work, she expressed concern that perhaps sound will be able to travel through one of the vents, thereby diminishing privacy at either end. I hadn't been thinking much about this issue, but today I began work deadening the sound in the shorter of the vents, the one from the guestroom ceiling to the wood stove pedestal. For sound deadening material, I used that dense foam that goes beneath carpet, gluing fragments of it to the walls of the vent as it passes through the floor. The vent actually opens up into a wide void between the floor joists, with enough room for me to install a baffle to force air flow through a U-turn. Covered with that dense foam, the baffle would not only block the straightest path for sound waves, but absorb most trying to ricochet past it or burrow through it.
In the process of all of this, I researched how mufflers work and was surprised to learn that they mostly operate by passively canceling ricocheting sound waves.
Speaking of mufflers, I was back under the car again today, this time with a brand new intermediate pipe. Removing the old one, I encountered the same problems I'd had with removing the muffler, though this time I didn't haul out the arc welder. I cut through the bolts using a reciprocating saw and then called it a day when I could bust the rusted-on remnants loose. I'd banged them with a jackhammer, soaked them in penetrating oil, but the rust was as a solid as a weld. It was so frustrating that I fell prey to conspiracy theories. Surely making such corrosion-prone parts as an exhaust system from anything but stainless steel is a malevolent act of planned obsolescence. They could have at least made the bolts out of stainless steel. Or perhaps even galvanized steel.
This evening Gretchen and I watched a documentary called Mario's Story about Mario Rocha, a 16 year old Hispanic kid wrongly tried and convicted of murder. His luck is terrible in the early phase of his ordeal; his parents mortgage their house to get a real defense attorney who proves incompetent, landing Mario in jail with two life sentences. But in juvenile detention his writing talents impress Sister Janet Harris, who takes up his cause and finds him proper pro-bono legal representation, ultimately getting higher courts to look at his case. Nevertheless Mario suffers like Job as imagined by Franz Kafka, and at one point late in the film I turned to Gretchen and said, "This is a tragedy no matter how it ends."
While we're on the subject of sixteen year olds facing life in prison after botched convictions, I find myself wondering: why are juveniles occasionally tried as adults? I thought the idea of having a separate legal system for minors reflects a judgment by our society that people younger than a certain age are too young to be held fully responsible for their decisions. This idea is the basis for such legal constructions as statutory rape, voting age, and various other age requirements. For a government to be able to pick and choose cases where a child can be legally considered an adult seems "arbitrary and capricious," particularly since such decisions can only work to the detriment of the accused (in other words, the legal system never tries adults as children).
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