Worst Car Design Trends

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Looks may be in the eye of the beholder – we can argue about the aesthetic appeal of the Pontiac Aztek all day long without anyone proving they’re right – or wrong.

But functional flaws are objective.

Here are some picks of the litter:

* Steamroller wheels (and tires) – gnomesayin'

I recently reviewed the 2015 VW Passat TDI (see here). It’s a middle-of-the-road, family-minded large sedan. Emphasis on economy of operation, quiet and comfort. Yet it comes shod with large diameter 17 and 18 inch wheels – which in turn mount what are known within the car biz as “low aspect ratio” – that is, short sidewall – tires.

Functionally, large diameter wheels and short-sidewall tires are a liability in almost every way imaginable. Yes, yes, they impart sharper steering response. In a track environment, ok. High-performance street… ok. But this is a Passat.

Not a Porsche.

I doubt one out of a thousand drivers would notice (much less complain about) the difference in steering feel/response between a Passat shod with 16×8 (better yet, 15×7) wheels/tires and one with 18s.crapper

But the car would have dramatically less unsprung mass/rolling resistance – and fuel economy would increase noticeably.

I’d bet buyers would care about that.

The ride would be much better (less harsh), too. Less “tuning” of the suspension would be necessary to compensate for the tires’ lack of give. Replacement tires would cost less  – and you’d need to replace them less often because standard-type all-season tires are less vulnerable to damage than these inch-high sidewall/low profile tires that are being fitted to family cars and even minivans these days.

Ironically, VW puts more sensible 16-inch shoes on the gas-engined Passat. But you’ll need to buy them over the counter and have them installed on your TDI, if you want the advantages of lower rolling resistance, better mileage and less susceptibility to blow outs.

The ultimate idiocy is low-aspect ratio tires and “twennies” (or twenny-twos”) on an SUV or pick-up truck. The gold toof crowd may think it’s “dope” – and that’s exactly what it is. Like putting M/S-rated knobbies on a new Corvette.

Gnomesayin’?

* Beefy behinds – 

This one’s an example of the law of unintended consequences. The federal government decrees that new cars will be designed such that they are more able to absorb being slammed in the rear by another vehicle. The car industry responds by enlarging – and raising ever-higher – the ass ends of new cars. At the same time – and almost necessarily – the rear glass moves upward, grows smaller and (increasingly) slants ever more toward the horizontal (the “fastback” look). Result? More crashworthiness, perhaps, if you’re rear-ended.fat ass 1

But less rearward visibility, too.

It is becoming so hard to see what’s behind you that almost all new cars now come standard with remote-view back-up cameras. Indeed, these have been mandated by law. All new cars will have them within a year or so. But it doesn’t solve the problem. Arguably, it makes it worse. Because cameras do not provide the same field of view – or depth of view – as the human eye. It is harder, for example, to see a kid on a bicycle coming at you down the sidewalk as you’re backing up… until said kid is literally on the verge of impacting your car (or rather, the reverse). Because the camera’s view is too limited – and too shallow.

Cars built in the Bad Old Days (pre 2000s) may not have had all the “safety” features that current cars have. But in a very real way, they were safer to drive because you were less likely to need “safety” features” … because you were less likely to hit something because you could see where you were going (and what was going on around you).

Also: They (the pre-2000s stuff) tended to have bumpers. All new/recent cars have “fascias” – the industry term for the huge plastic ass-covers (they use the same thing up front) that are easily damaged in minor accidents and usually not fixable and which cost a small fortune to replace.

* “Collision Mitigation” technology – 

It sounds like a good (or at least, not terrible) idea. An electronic safety net that deploys automatically when a distracted or inattentive driver fails to notice, say, that traffic up ahead has come to a complete stop – and fails to apply the brakes. The system intervenes, and – the latest versions of it – can actually bring the car to a dead stop without the driver even touching the brake pedal himself.collision mitigation pic

Anyhow, that’s how it’s presented in the TV commercials. But how does it work in the real world?

Not so great.

The system – which uses radar proximity sensors or cameras that feed info about what’s in the car’s vicinity to the car’s computer, which controls everything (including the braking system) – can’t tell the difference between a car temporarily stopped up ahead with its left turn signal on that’s in the process of turning off the road and a car actually stopped in the middle of the road that’s not going to move out of the way before you get there. In the former case, there’s usually no need to stop much less slow down – because the turning car will be gone by the time you get to where he is. To where he was. Your brain knows this, because you have a brain and can use it to draw conclusions from such things as the car ahead’s turn signal being on. The computer on the other hand, only “sees” an object in the car’s path – and because it cannot think/draw conclusions from clues such as a turn signal flashing, it reacts in its pre-programmed way, jamming on the brakes if you do not and even if you do, assaulting you with flashing lights and loud, obnoxious warning buzzers.

Which some might regard as … distracting.

* LCD touchscreen monitors – 

Buttons and knobs are going the way of the eight-track tape player and the VCR. But as slick as the new integrated touchscreen LCD monitors you’ll find in many new cars may look, you may be appalled to discover (usually, after the warranty runs out) that every accessory controlled via the touchscreen no longer works once the touchscreen no longer works. That means: Air conditioning (and heat), seat heaters, the GPS, the stereo… whatever system is accessed and operated via the touchscreen. Which in many new cars is almost all of them.LCD screen 1

Lots of buttons and knobs may be “busy” looking – while the touchscreen de-clutters the car’s dash. But buttons and knobs – being mechanical things – are naturally more durable than electronic things. More important, though, individual buttons that control individual things (e.g., the AC/heater fan speed) are not affected by the failure of other buttons for other individual things. If the knob or button that controls the fan setting breaks off or stops working, the AC/heat will still work. With a touchscreen, you lose it all – not just the fan speed control and the AC/heat but everything else, too – if the touchscreen goes dark or fritzes out on you.

Which will happen, eventually. Buttons and knobs can last decades. LCD touchscreens live shorter lives. And tend to cost a lot more to replace when they croak.

Here’s where an extended warranty (or some money put aside for just-in-case) might be sound policy.

* The Six Year Plan –

Soon to be (and in some cases, already is) the seven-year plan.

Loan, I mean.loan 1

For homes – which (usually) at least hold their value – a long-term financing scheme is a reasonable way to spread out the cost of acquisition. At the end of the loan – once the loan’s paid off – you’ll (usually) have something that’s still worth something.

Cars not so much.

Because cars are appliances. Like a computer or a ‘fridge. They are not meant to last forever or even for a very long time. They almost invariably lose value the longer you own them. Are worth less as the years go by. And often, are worthless (or nearly so) after about 12-15 years. But the key point is that they lose value from the moment they’re first tagged, the rate increasing as the years go by. At about 5-6 years out, many new cars are only worth about half what they sold for new. That is, what you financed when the car was new. Which means, you could find yourself under water – owing more than the car is currently worth – after just 5-6 years, depending on the vehicle. As loan periods extend to seven (and eventually, eight) years – as automakers and their finance arms resort to desperate measures to keep the wheels turning – this problem is going to get worse and become more commonplace.

Something’s got to give.

I’m just not sure what it’ll be!

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117 COMMENTS

  1. I find this all morbidly fascinating, really.

    This is: ‘Dirty Bit.’ Somewhere at the root of this clusterfunk, is a rehash of “Time of My Life” from the movie Dirty Dancing. You got to go deep sea diving, through all the affectations and digitipixelations and such not.

    The mathematics is still there, though poorly and cybernetically presented. But still, even a husk of an echo of a song such as this could be transcribed to human instruments and played by proper musicians, if one had a mind and patience to do so.

    What little art there is nowadays, is in a cryptic notional shorthand form only. It would take many teams of polymaths working around the clock to reconstitute it all into something with human dimensions and traditionally recognizable as music.

    But “Dirty Bit” may yet be made into a righteous tune – as Bill & Ted might say. It would take a lot, but it could be done.
    – – –

    Dirty Bit:

    [Fergie:]
    I got freaky, freaky, baby
    I was chillin with my ladies
    I didn’t come to get boojie
    I come here to get crazy
    I was born to get wild
    That’s my style
    If you didn’t know that,
    Well baby now you know now,

    … dirty bit

    – – –

    Even Habanera could have a Black Eyed Peas Opera Version… viz.

    … dirty bit. long bout of hideous technoscritch screaching… then…

    L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
    Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
    Et c’est bien in vain qu’on l’appelle
    S’il lui convient de refuser.
    Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière.
    L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait.
    Et c’est l’autre que je préfère.
    Il n’a rien dit mais il me plait. L’amour! L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!

    … dirty bit. even longer more hideous technoscritch guttersnipe gut screaching… then…

    … dirty bit.

  2. Sandra Bullock raps some Sugar Hill. Lots of big city white girls her age or a little younger still know dis song by heart. Just aks ’em.

    White Guy version of Rappers Delight.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-qEZ9zeIJw“> Nother good Cab Calloway song. Zah Zuh Zaz

    There’s a depth and feeling of American culture that’s sorely missed I should think. A Borg-mindedness has permeated and stunted our very being. All of us to some degree or other, I believe. All of us are mechanized and assimilated at a very young age to serve the grand collective. Being artistic, contemplative, and soulful is not much encouraged.

    The degradations cut across all cohorts and spectrums.

    La Vie En Rose – Daniela Andrade
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ba_WoSZXvw

    La Vie En Rose – Louis Armstrong
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IJzYAda1wA

    Hold me close and hold me fast. The magic spell you cast. This is la vie en rose
    When you kiss me heaven sighs. And tho I close my eyes. I see la vie en rose
    When you press me to your heart. I’m in a world apart. A world where roses bloom
    And when you speak…angels sing from above. Everyday words seem…to turn into love songs.
    Give your heart and soul to me. And life will always be. La vie en rose

    – Merica – A million miles from La Vie En Rose and increasingly lagging much much further…

  3. Sugar Hill Gang performs #2 rap song of all time: “Rappers Delight.”

    Just 3 guys with microphones. No instruments. They’re singing and rhythmically chanting over portions of previously recorded musical accompaniment. Or at best, some roadies paid to play someone else’s licks so they can “freestyle.” Personally I enjoy this kind of refried performing.

    But I would have to ascribe 95% of the value produced to the original artists. 2% to the engineers who created the loops and meshed them together. This leaves 3% credit to the three front-men seen here performing their song on an episode of “Soul Train.”

    Here in Vegas, I enjoy going to shows with cover bands. Raps are kind of a combo of karaoke and cover bands. Almost 100% derivative usually.

    With a cover band, you can sit at a table and order drinks, enjoy yourself, as opposed to being seated in a third world plastic incarceration device in a vast arena matrix of assigned watching chairs utterly bereft of fun and spontaneity of any kind.
    – – –

    On September 20, 1979 and September 21, 1979, Blondie and Chic were playing concerts with The Clash in New York at The Palladium. When Chic started playing “Good Times”, rapper Fab Five Freddy and the members of the Sugarhill Gang (“Big Bank Hank” Jackson, Mike Wright, and “Master Gee” O’Brien), jumped up on stage and started freestyling with the band.

    A few weeks later Rodgers was on the dance floor of New York club Leviticus and heard the DJ play a song which opened with Bernard Edwards’ bass line from Chic’s “Good Times”. Rodgers approached the DJ who said he was playing a record he had just bought that day in Harlem. The song turned out to be an early version of “Rapper’s Delight,” which also included a scratched version of the song’s string section. Rodgers and Edwards immediately threatened legal action over copyright, which resulted in a settlement and their being credited as co-writers.

    Rodgers admitted that he was originally upset with the song, but would later declare it to be “one of his favorite songs of all time” and his favorite of all the tracks that sampled Chic (although it was not technically sampled). He also stated that “as innovative and important as ‘Good Times’ was, ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was just as much, if not more so.”. “Rapper’s Delight” is said to be the song that popularized rap music and put it into the mainstream.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapper%27s_Delight

    I do kind of like freeeeeeestyle. Probably because it’s freeeeeeeeee!

  4. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music. They physically manipulated tape loops or vinyl records on a phonograph. The use of tape loop sampling influenced the development of minimalist music and the production of psychedelic rock and jazz fusion. They created the alternative DJ club scene of London and New York City.

    Hip hop music was the first popular music genre based on the art of sampling – being born from 1970s DJs who experimented with manipulating vinyl on two turntables and an audio mixer. The use of sampling in popular music spread with the rise of electronic music and disco in the mid-1970s to early 1980s, the development of electronic dance music and industrial music in the 1980s, and the worldwide influence of hip hop since the 1980s on genres ranging from contemporary R&B to indie rock.

    Sampling is now most often done with a sampler, originally a piece of hardware, but today, more commonly a computer program. Turntableists continue to sample using traditional methods. The inclusion of sampling tools in modern digital production methods increasingly introduced sampling into many genres of popular music, as well as genres predating the invention of sampling, such as classical music, jazz and various forms of traditional music.

    Often “samples” consist of one part of a song, such as a rhythm break, which is then used to construct the beat for another song. For instance, hip hop music developed from DJs looping the breaks from songs to enable continuous dancing. The Funky drummer break and the Amen break, both brief fragments taken from soul and funk music recordings of the 1960s, have been among the most common samples used in dance music and hip hop of recent decades, with some entire subgenres like breakbeat being based largely on complex permutations of a single one of these samples.

    Samples from rock recordings have also been the basis of new songs; for example, the drum introduction from Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” was sampled by the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mike Oldfield, Rob Dougan, Coldcut, Depeche Mode and Erasure, among others.

    Often, samples are not taken from other music, but from spoken words, including those in non-musical media such as movies, TV shows and advertising. [Colourbox – Just Give Em Whiskey]

    A well-known example of sampling includes the sample of Queen/David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” (1981) in Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”

    – What about Black Car culture. Is “Pimping one’s ride” a legitimate form of automotive manufacturing? Do blacks make their own kinds of cars with their spinning rims and shiny metals. Is it merely derivative? Is it full-blown intellectual property theft?

    I think black manufacturing processes can be thought of a kind of feminism. They require a more masculine underlying mental manufacturing process to provide them the raw materials for them to work with.

    Africans don’t even build stagecoaches, much less automobiles. But they are able to do a riff based on them. They’re able to maintain them. To customize them. They do create something unique using the fruits of others labors as a basis. As long as this is done voluntarily, it seems to me like a net good thing.

    • Hi Tor,

      If someone wants to “pimp” their ride, that’s their business!

      Some people enjoy golden showers, too. It’s their right to partake.

      But I wouldn’t do either myself!

      • Right on. I am not against women of any culture, lots of black woman are highly attractive. But it does seem like blacks in America have underperformed, to put it mildly.

        I am curious about African American car culture. Why the rims, bright colors, animal prints and so forth?

        Outrageous Vintage Racist Ads
        http://www.oddee.com/item_96917.aspx

        I did find the first African American Auto Company that was in business from 1893 to 1939.

        The C.R. Patterson & Sons Company was a carriage building firm, and the first African American-owned automobile manufacturer.

        Around 1920, the company reorganized as the Greenfield Bus Body Company but after ten years of steady, if unspectacular growth, the Great Depression sent the company into a downward spiral. Frederick Patterson died in 1932, and the company began to disintegrate in the late 1930s.

        I do know that in pre-code cinema up until 1934, blacks freely interacted with whites and acted like normal guys in films. They did tend to have more menial jobs, but were portrayed as intellectual equals with whites, and had a unique cultural perspective all their own that wasn’t just derivative of the culture of the dominant whites.

        Top Five Pioneers in African-American Auto History
        https://www.historicvehicle.org/News/Articles/All-Articles/2013/02/19/African-American-Auto-History

        TOP AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY
        http://madamenoire.com/106920/top-african-americans-in-the-auto-industry/

  5. The utter musical illiteracy and innumeracy of Americans exists regardless of hip hop music. My grandfather played fiddle at dances that were held after harvest every year. My grandmother had a piano in her parlor, as did every other family of a certain class in her generation.

    There’s a deep cultural artistic intelligence that’s been almost totally eviscerated. There’s precious few threads remaining to the capacity to create music, or any kind of art really any more. There’s been a terrible loss that’s painful to even contemplate.

    Places like here in America and India aren’t really cultures at all any more. They’re geographical battlegrounds where the herding game is still afoot. I’m of a mind the game need not ever be won. That everywhere doesn’t need a homogeneous imposed cultural gang for everyone to serve and perpetuate.

    The French are already French. English are English. Chinese are Chinese. I don’t wish anarchy upon them unless they wish it themselves. Many lands and tribes are well established and very likely to long endure. But what might best serve the market, might be new realms where there is no dominant breed.

    I don’t know if this is even a possible reality or not. But it’s something I think should be considered. Sure the Swiss are amazing people. They self-limit and force each other to save and share and assuredly they prosper in the long term.

    Yet it’s rather sad, the way they’re all nearly exactly the same. For all their accomplishments. They’re all made of biological ticky tacky, and they all look just the same. I rather like all the variety and the zones of order and the zones of chaos. It’s vibrant. It’s alive. It’s real. Maybe Southern Charm is all that’s possible in the Southern Latitudes. But I hope it never makes it’s way more North or West. It’s not all that much preferable to the awful Yankees and their idiotic oppressive lunacies.

    At least Texas works and stands on it’s own. It’s never claimed to be a victim of Spanish peoples. Or African peoples. Or even wretched Yankee peoples. It’s always proudly stood stoic and kept it’s best self hidden and unseen. And slowly over long time frames, it has thrived and it continues to endure.

    A culture gets nowhere by using Pharasaic reasoning. By saying at least, we’re not a bunch of bix noods. Or statists. Or commies. Or nationalist socialist slaving plantationists. It has to stand for something all on it’s own.

    I don’t much care about libertarian ideals. Or even the NAP. Only in so far as such ideals serve to allow the market to be of the highest hierarchy. That’s all that I care about really. That we all be free to labor and trade with each other without interference for any reason. Even for one widely believed to be a moral reason truly serving the common good.

    Is that really something for us brave pioneers who risked death crossing an ocean to aspire to. To be some kind of like-minded single polity? It seems like backtracking if you ask me. The PTB want you to think that’s all you can hope for. To be part of a “good nation.” One with shiny happy people who all agree on shiny happy golden rules.

    Not me. It makes me sick even thinking about reverting to that here. The American revolution is when the lie took root. That there was ever only two cultures here. Old England and new white America. Just let all the other thousands of first peoples and countless other immigrant ways of living be damned and forgotten.

    Perhaps Libertarian Authoritarians are the worst of all. They don’t seem to be much about the free market. And the belief in the power of property and freedom to act. They seem to be much more about punishing those currently in power. And to proving they are somehow better, merely on the strength of their ideals and beliefs.

    To authoritarian deluded types. It’s only those who can rule by cudgel that matter. Let us all bang our unique round peg selves into their limited square peg holes. Let us be one homogeneous American people and take our rightful place on the world stage of Games of Thrones and World Shaking Powers.

    We deserve this land because we’re better than those who currently control us. That’s is the delusions of the empty and vapid Great White Bix Noods. The ones who hate all other native peoples for being dirty. And not eradicating poverty. Or evil. For selling their fourth child to the neighbor or making a bargain with them.

    For not making everything as sterile and isolated as today’s prison camp of a nation. One without stench and squalor legally visible to the human eye. Where large families are extinct. And human beings cage neutered domesticated animals within their dwellings and call them pets. And who are themselves pets of another kind. And who deny animals a purpose. And themselves a purpose. And curse all the ancient ways and truths and bitterly cling to their statisms and socialisms and deny they do so.

    It’s pitiful and sad, but maybe that’s what humans have come to. Pitiable and sad. I don’t have any real answers. It’s easy to make the observations. But nearly impossible to make even the beginning of the solutions.

  6. 44% say rap music is real music

    Rap is a method of vocal delivery. Hip hop is a culture.

    Hip Hop began 27 years ago in the south Bronx. It incorporates 5 elements: the DJ, the dancer–break dancer, street dancer, graffiti artist, the MC–the rapper, and then the 5th which is the knowledge of it all and how it connects.

    – It either exists as something offered and accepted in the free market or it is worthless. As entertaining and educational as it may be to listen to experts on a subject. In the end, it is only the spontaneous gathering and trading of a thing which determines whether it is real. Nothing else.

    I grew up in a far northern latitude where all minorities added up to less than 2%. Never felt the least bit threatened. Once I moved south, I quickly took to and kept at it for a long time. I ain’t never registered with any kennel club, and don’t never plan to neither. I don’t see nothing wrong…

    But if you enjoy waiting for the yodelers and the mess-o-soprano fat ladies to sing, that’s fine by me,

    – This whole ending slavery thing has probably been a terrible conceit. It’s a large part of why families are so small. And why birth rates are so low. And why millions of abortions are performed every year.

    – The idiots who think their moral vanity can overcome the free market are the dumbest niggers of them all. When you use force to overcome a man’s property value in his offspring, the costs will always outweigh the benefits. All you’ve managed to do is lower the market value of having children to a pitifully low level, and played right into the inhuman PTB’s hands.

    – Your ethical delusions and uplifter dogooderisms have utterly failed. People have to be left free to find what’s right on their own. Stop believing in ethical authoritarianism. There is no such thing, only an abject nigger would believe in such a cloveritic fairytale.

  7. Phillip the Bruce. I loved that one on not paying taxes. I read it before but it’s worth posting for sure. She ripped them a new one for sure. I’m with her 100% those cocksuckers in their black dresses who sit on their thrones demanding we stand and kiss their asses can all fuck off as far as I’m concerned. The entire idea of respect for the court is one that needs to get flushed. Why in the hell should I ever give respect to a person sitting on a throne like they are a God? Fuck them. Come down off your throne and act like a civilized human being and start acting one in regards to how you apply the law as well. How many lives have these immoral bastards ruined in the war on drugs alone? Just doing their “duty” I’m sure, just like the other totalitarian chicken shits that hide behind the law and the boys in costumes with their badges. This shit is as old as the hills.

    She makes a good point about not being a citizen of the US of A as well. But for the chance of my birth I would not be their “citizen” to bully around. Pure dumb luck that I was born into a world that no longer values liberty and treats “their citizens” like tax cattle.

    I did not sign their social contract and I never will.

  8. I agree with everything you said here, Eric. I can’t stand these new vehicles. The visibility is so obnoxiously low and dangerous. I remember sitting in a pretty recent model year Camaro that a friend had rented, and I felt like I was in a bunker. I could hardly see out of the damn thing. I’m gonna stick with my 04′ Ranger until hell freezes over. Give me the simplicity of nobs and manual doors, locks and windows. None of this touchscreen, driver distracted crap. Not to mention, that is just more junk that will break, and you can’t even upgrade it. So it is already obsolete when you buy it.

    • Lance, you get into the drivers seat, get everything adjusted and then cruise…..only the cruise part sucks. How the hell do you ever get your elbow comfortably on the door sill. Yes, you could do some shoulder damage with it strained to be up there for a while but the enjoyment of windows down, elbow on the door and being able to see all around is gone. I absolutely hate that layout. I always drove as if the big rig that might t-bone me would be the end, never considering clovers amassing in masses unbelievably massive(sic) would get countless airbags mandated and steel crossbars in the door. So much fun trying to figure out how to work on those gasbag OD’d cars. Just put the Corvette style suspension with appropriate tires and the TBI engine with a double OD transmission in a ’67 Malibu and I’m ready to hit the road…..but with a/c these day. That old slow steering was great for fine adjustment when 4 wheel drifting at high speed. It’s not so easy since spinner knobs were outlawed but I did it for years before using one.

      As a family friend remarked to my dad as I came in for a landing in my parking spot in my 55 Chevy pickup “Dang, I never knew those pickups were sports cars”. Well, what can I say. Everything I drove was a sports car aka Fireball Roberts and Jim Hall. Nothing like coming in too fast and trying to modulate the brakes to stop before something bad happened, or taking a curve so fast you had the rear-end strung out all the way around.

  9. Even a practical working ‘Collision Mitigation Technology System’ isn’t going to compensate for some moron whose multi-tasking abilities are limited to heartbeat and respiration that’s writing a text message while driving down the highway at 70MPH.

    The best Collision Mitigation System is to hang up the phone and drive the car…

  10. The most important “safety feature” that isn’t mentioned is driver training at more advanced levels of driving than just ‘barely able’. If you don’t know how to push your vehicle to the limits, then you won’t know how you could possibly avoid the accident all together. We shouldn’t have to train ourselves in high speed maneuvers. It would make a huge difference in accident statistics. Opps, I forgot that less accidents would reduce the ‘safey reasoning’ for mandatory vehicle insurance and lower the rates. The insurance mafia want to control us regardless of how many have to die to prove that relying on insurance doesn’t reduce accidents or save your life. A car that brakes for me won’t allow me to use 50 years of highly tuned skills in accident avoidance. It would probably force me into an accident. We should train everyone on a motorcycle before they are allowed to drive a car. Motorcycle riding makes the driver much more aware than expecting your ‘cage’ to take the impact for you. Ride to live. Live to ride.

  11. Have a friend who drove 18 wheelers – new Volvo cabs with collision mitigation tech on them. The alarms would scream like a banshee every time they drove under an overpass. The things were useless – like the boy who cried wolf, they screamed at everything.

    Now, since it was so effective on 18 Wheelers, our masters and betters have decided to inflict this tech on all of us.

    The pancake-thin wheel-tire combinations can be blamed, i believe, partially on consumers. Upgrade packages often include pimp wheels. And the wife with 2.25 kids goes for it. Whoda thunk?

  12. I don’t ever remember reading about broken rims in long term auto reviews till the advent of run flats partnered with big factory rims, now it’s commonplace.

    • Hi DrOtto,

      Yup. It never happened to me, either… until the advent of low aspect ratio tires on 18/19/20 inch “reeuhms.”

  13. I have been enjoying the comments and information regarding the current trend of Low Aspect Ratio ‘Gangsta Culture’ tires. I have wondered what the deal is with those. They look like wide Model-T tires to me. A giant leap forward into the past.

    My 2001 Toyota 4Runner 4WD (I call it my beautiful green truck) came equipped with P265/70R16 tires.

    The original tires supplied by Toyota were Bridgestone Dueler H/T’s. Those are very likely the worst tire of any kind that I have ever owned on any vehicle. They were particularly bad on wet roads.

    I replaced them early with a set of Michelin’s and it was like transforming my 4Runner into a whole different vehicle. There has been no looking back after the Mich’s.

    Currently my beautiful green truck sports a set of Michelin LTX M/S tires of the same size as it was originally equipped – P265/70R16.

    I have them rebalanced, rotated, and a front end alignment done at least every year, but the Toyota dealer always sets the tire pressure too high. I have spoken with them about it, but they insist that 38psi-40psi is preferred.

    Their own instruction manual says to set them at 32psi and I find that it makes a huge difference. At 32psi they hold the road better – especially on wet roads. That’s important as it rains a lot here in Houston. So much that I call it the swamp…

    My 4Runner also rides very much more comfortably with the tires at 32psi – less like a truck, but it will never drive like a car.

    2001 was the next to last year that 4Runner’s were built on a truck chassis – a Tacoma pickup truck I think.

    To many of us that 2002 model was the last real 4Runner.

    I think it fell victim to the car magazines that used to deride it for driving like a truck.

    I’m probably going out on a limb here, but I suspect that the reason that it rides like a truck is because: IT IS A TRUCK!

    The new 4Runners all drive very nice and comfy. They are huge compared to my 2001 model. The new ones look like they backed into an air hose compared to mine. They have a lot of the more modern conveniences than my now fourteen year old friend, but they aren’t trucks!

    I got it with selectable 4WD because there are some places that I have to go for business where in addition to the ruggedness of a truck the 4WD is just needed. I may only need it 1% or 2% of the time, but when I do it has to be there.

    Truthfully it has come in handy during ice storms and flooding so I am just as glad to have it even with the weight penalty. I am willing to accept the trade-off.

    I keep my 2001 4Runner as pristine as I can and I wouldn’t trade it even up for a new one. I simply wouldn’t be able to replace it. Those that are still around are all owned by folks like me that won’t part with them.

    No gangsta wheels.
    No low aspect ratio tires.
    No collision mitigation computer.
    No LCD touch screen.
    No six or seven year plan.

    It’s paid for…

    It’s not just another huge barge floating down the highway.

    It’s a truck and I won’t part with it!

      • eric, another thing about new trucks like the company Dodge’s I have to drive, is the ignition “key”, a plastic fob of a sort. And I could live with that but the lag time between twisting it into the “start” position and when the starter engages is purely nanny bs. Yes, I’m sure the computer figures out whether it’s ok to start. I’d just as soon it didn’t. I never had any problem of engaging one wire to another via contact in an ignition switch and having the starter go the instant it was twisted. I guess I’m still in the mode of getting away fast if I have to. I’ll die in that mode too.

    • I’ve had several sets of Michelin’s in my life, on a variety of vehicles. They were great replacements for bias ply and in some aspects, very good tires. I always noticed though they were taller than other tires of the same size. That didn’t bother me for the most part until I put some 235-85-16’s on my 4WD pickup. The thing had to practically be set up for an upcoming curve and then you had to steer into it as you got further into the curve. There was just too much flex and on a big ext cab long bed diesel they were simply overtaxed. I replaced the whole ball of was with some 265-75-16’s on 8″ wheels and it was like going from a truck to a sports car practically. I ran over the first curb I came to the steering was so much more responsive. Now those Toyo AT’s on those wheels were nothing short of exceptional for a big pickup……so much so that at 52,000 miles they were still soft riding and excellent handling and still well-balanced but didn’t have the tread depth for the down and dirty 4WD I required so I replaced them with another identical set. Since that time I have asked countless people who’ve had these same tires, almost exactly the same size, and they have all said they were the best tires they ever had.

      I knew a couple people who had that size tire in Michelin and both dreaded wearing them out. One guy said he had 65,000 miles on his and they probably had 30,000 miles of life left, but were so hard and harsh he couldn’t stand the thought of being the one to wear them out. Same thing with Goodyear from people I’ve spoken with and my own experience.

      And yes Steve, those 4Runners built on a truck frame did ride and drive like a truck and while they were a bit harsh in the sound and ride dept. they were good vehicles. The later ones are made for those who have no real use for them. Soccer moms don’t need 4WD although they may think they want it. I see pickups all the time that have only briefly once or twice been in 4WD. If I needed 4WD those few times, I’d save money, tires, maintenance, fuel, insurance, comfort and lesser handling and get a 2WD. My 2WD pickups are always a much nicer ride in most every respect than the 4WD’s. Since pickups now frequently sell for N of $60K, I’ll continue to buy 4WD because I need it but only have one pickup instead of 3 or 4 like I used to.

      • “…I knew a couple people who had that size tire in Michelin and both dreaded wearing them out. One guy said he had 65,000 miles on his and they probably had 30,000 miles of life left, but were so hard and harsh he couldn’t stand the thought of being the one to wear them out…”

        That’s how my Michelin’s feel when the dealer sets the tires at 38-40psi. Sometimes even higher.

        At 32psi it’s a much nicer ride. They hold the road better at the lower psi too…

        • You have a choice. A guy pulling a triple axle or dual tandem axle gooseneck with everything at maximum weight doesn’t have that choice. You make sure it’s as cool in the morning as it can be and then put 80 or more pounds of pressure in those tires. Those Toyo’s suffered that fine, and didn’t get uber mileage but what’s the point when you can’t tolerate getting that last 30 G for twice the price. He paid $1200 a set for Michelins and I paid a total of $600 for a set out the door in Toyo’s. I’d much rather change tires twice as often. At the end I have half the amount of rock damage, punctures(and possibly boots), big steel pieces that cause flats and slams of the sidewalls(heavily loaded)into whatever might be there, big rocks in deep silt. In the case of many dumps or landfills, you have no idea of what is in that 12″ or more of pure silt. it’s a shot in the dark.

  14. As a matter of curiosity I checked the Tire Rack site for replacement wheels for the Passat. It only offered 18 & 19 as options. I put in 15 x 7 for the wheels and it said it wasn’t available for that model. Unless you have clearance issues with the brake caliper I can’t see why you couldn’t swap.

    Touch screens are like 25 year old chicks for middle aged men, they’re fun and flashy at first but, when they break(or get pregnant) that’s when the headaches begin.

  15. Big rims aren’t necessarily bad, though I find them aesthetically wrong on most rigs and especially sport utes and pickups. My next rat rod I’ve started gathering bits for will have 20 in chrome triple wires with knockoffs and low profiles. I grabbed them off Craigslist for $250 and immediately started visualizing a modern Stutz Bearcat/American Underslung setup hanging down between them, probably with a cheap Lincoln 460 or Caddy 500 under a minimal hood in front of the cowl and buckets.
    It’s gonna be wicked cool. As usual, the only hard part is getting legal title to drive my property on the streets I paid for.

  16. With the advent of radar proximity emitters/sensors, how will this affect Radar Detectors. Won’t the detectors squawk for every car that emits Radar signals?

      • That’s good to hear about the detectors. In my neck of the woods, Suburbans/Yukon’s and Tahoe’s are popular. They set K-band off on my V-1 all the time. Luckily the cops have switched primarily to Ka band…….but there are still a few sheriff’s vehicles with K band.

        Damn the safety cult and their annoyances.

        • ancap, same way here. And now the DOT has changed from B&W to solid black with nothing on the vehicle to show any difference from an identical civilian Tahoe you see all the time. Their red and blues are inside the black back windows and you can barely see them when on and not at all when off and the fronts are behind the grill in a way as to not be seen when not in use. MF’s, I hate ’em all.

          I know we all despise traffic controls but imagine if you will(a great nightmare for the average driver)a junta meant specifically to stop you in a commercial vehicle and collect as much revenue as possible.

          First load of the morning this last Friday the 13th I was stopped as soon as I turned onto an access road by an insane rookie. He red-tagged both tractor and trailer(sure sign of a rookie), not only costing me lawyers fees but a load of finish rock. 14 violations, one of which was no display of DOT numbers on the door. They couldn’t have been any larger and fit the door. I guess he has selective vision. Two tickets stuck. One was a non-working high beam and the other was a diesel drip. He had me fire it up and work the steering wheel 3 times before he determined movement of the pitman arm on the shaft. I couldn’t see it and since it was brand new, it really didn’t exist. He cost the company a day’s work for 3 people, a load of finish rock and a great deal of unnecessary hassle.

          • I keep my eye out for the DOT bastards all the time. We run side dumps, transport and pickups with 5th wheel trailers. The DOT are scum of the earth. Running all black Tahoe’s or Pickups with a black shell. Hidden lights and all.

            A pair of binoculars works good if you are traveling by a frequent temp scale of theirs. I also snap a picture of them and put it on waze when I’m driving by in my pickup. Bastards all!

  17. Thus I become more and more like Mr. Wilson, but with good reason. I think most of my fellow Americans are, outside of their jobs, idiots. It’s funny to listen to auto fix-it shows and hear the losers complain about how expensive repairs are to touchscreens and other gadgets. Too bad their mass stupidity limits my choices.

  18. This talk of ‘reeeeums’ has me thinking about a change in tire size next time replacements are needed. Not just for the reasons mentioned but in order to increase my mpg by raising the final drive ratio.
    Is there a table or simple formula somewhere that will help me decide what to buy in place of 205-45/16s? Just the tires, I’m not in position to change reeeeums.

    • Phillip:

      Go onto “tirerack.com.” Great site. Every make and model of tire on the planet I think. Reviews on all of them too.

      Search for “tires by size”

      Type in your current tire size: 205/45/16.

      If you can find your particular brand, look at tech specs page, it will tell you revolutions per mile (or overall diameter). If not – most tires with the same specs will have very similar revs per mile.

      Now, if you want to keep the same rims (since they are only 16s, we can’t call then reeeeeums), look for same or similar section width (maybe between 195-215), and look at 50, 55, or 60 series tires.

      If you go too big – you may end up scraping fender wells and things like that. So don’t go too hogwild and jump up to 75 series tires or something.

      Lower section width will give reduced rolling resistance also (in general – assuming section width is proportional to tread width – which is a good rule of thumb).

      Now, you can see the higher profile tire revolutions per mile will be lower compared to your current 45 series revs/mile.

      To calculate how many RPM you will drop at any given speed, you can just do the math below

      Current RPM x new tire revs per mile / current tire revs per mile = new RPM.

      Your speedometer will also be reading low with higher profile (larger diameter) tires. You can have this adjusted if it bugs you – or just know that 80 mph really means faster than 80 mph now.

      Poor man’s overdrive…

      Good luck.

      • Thanks Blake. I have bought tires from Tire Rack before, but only the ‘standard’ (OEM) size. You have given me confidence that I am on the right track.

  19. “Barlow and Tinny-Peete arrived at the concrete highway where the psychist’s car was parked in a safety bay. “What—a—boat!” gasped the man from the past. “Boat? No, that’s my car.” Barlow surveyed it with awe. Swept-back lines, deep-drawn compound curves, kilograms of chrome. He ran his hands futilely over the door—or was it the door?—in a futile search for a handle, and asked respectfully, “How fast does it go?” The psychist gave him a keen look and said slowly, “Two hundred and fifty. You can tell by the speedometer.” “Wow! My old Chevvy could hit a hundred on a straightaway, but you’re out of my class, mister!” Tinny-Peete somehow got a huge, low door and Barlow descended three steps into immense cushions, floundering over to the right. He was too fascinated to pay serious attention to his flayed dermis. The dashboard was a lovely wilderness of dials, plugs, indicators, lights, scales and switches. The psychist climbed down into the driver’s seat and did something with his feet. The motor started like lighting a blowtorch as big as a silo. Wallowing around in the cushions, Barlow saw through a rear-view mirror a tremendous exhaust filled with brilliant white sparkles. “Do you like it?” yelled the psychist. “It’s terrific!” Barlow yelled back. “It’s—” He was shut up as the car pulled out from the bay into the road with a great voo-ooo-ooom! A gale roared past Barlow’s head, though the windows seemed to be closed; the impression of speed was terrific. He located the speedometer on the dashboard and saw it climb past 90, 100, 150, 200.”

    Kornbluth, C. M. (2011-10-01). The Marching Morons (The Galaxy Project) (Kindle Locations 316-317). RosettaBooks – A. Kindle Edition.

    I won’t spoil the ironic twist, but for whatever reason when I see rims (or is it rhyms?) on an SVU or truck I’m reminded of this passage. If you haven’t read The Marching Morons, it is the basis for the plot of Idiocracy. At the time it was written, the “solution” given to solve the world’s problems were too close to recent world events, so the point was lost to some extent.

    That and “About as useful as tits on a bull.”

  20. I lived in Odessa, Tx. 6 years ago. Not sure anyone under 50 had stock wheels/tires. I’ve seen vehicles that weren’t worth $2k with $5k of wheels/tires. Cue Forrest. Everywhere I went though I’d see vehicles shod with this insanity on the side of the road with a flat. People can’t change tires either.

    I learned to change a tire even without a jack. I predicted 30 years ago vehicles would eventually come with some type of automatic jack, just pick the corner, push a button and a screw jack would unwind or something similar. Was that ever wrong thinking. Had I predicted a society too stupid to change a tire, I’d have been right on. After all , it involves being able to read for the most part.

    This is part and parcel of disfunctional schools and the vast brown immigration. Mainly though, it’s the schools. And for reasons that I don’t understand, women have become the exempt group for flat changing.

    I was once in court, on a charge unrelated to drinking, but the judge insulted my wife by telling me I could no longer drink. Why is that? I asked. Well, if your wife is away from home and has a flat tire, you can’t go fix it for her. It made me livid and my wife as well. My lawyer is trying to hold me down and I’m cussing the judge(this is a “ruling” class I have even less respect for than cops). She changes her own flats…..on anything. She’s been changing flats on cars since she was 16 and can change a flat on anything including a big rig….can you? It was nearly shooting time at this point….with me being the one shot. I’ll help anyone change a flat, and if they’re physically able, I’ll instruct them. I watched my mother fumble with all the paraphernalia of flat changing without much success when I was a kid and thankfully, a trucker stopped and did it for her. We were good guys once upon a time. I learned not to stop for the most part since then since they either don’t have a spare or have “already called” and will spend hundreds of dollars getting someone to change their tire. I see a huge amount of those big wheel jobs on the side of the road, abandoned, these days.

    My nephew, a very smart guy, had a Yukon with 22’s his wife had to have. It got to the point it was a horror to drive. He couldn’t figure it out. I pointed out the discrepancy of wheel size and he blew that off, those were non-negotiable, his spoiled wife’s spoils. He’s just put new tires on it with a price I won’t even speculate. Nothing improves(the old adage, doing the same thing expecting different results comes to mind) so he finds an Escalade he wants and works a trade. We’re looking the Caddy over(wow, a Tahoe with bling)when he notices the stock 20″ wheels and remembers those bling 22’s with the new tires. Hold the phone, it’s an emergency, forgot to have them changed out. A few hours later and all is well, an Escalade with wheels and tires doomed to ruin its front end too.

    Damn, this is depressing.

    • Hi Eight,

      The whole “ghetto” thing eludes me. I do not grok it.

      Why are ghetto thugs and ghetto thug “culture” so popular?

      My take: There is tremendous social pressure to never criticize anything that involves blacks; indeed, to literally worship everything that involves blacks. This makes it very hard to criticize rap, and the associated ghetto/underclass memes. It opens one up to charges of “racism.”

      I don’t hate people because they’re black. I hate thuggery and stupidity. Regardless of the skin color of its purveyors.

      I’m a huge admirer of Neil deGrass Tyson, for instance. But then, he’s not a thug, a low-IQ cretin who mumbles doggerel “poetry” while grabbing his dick and shuffling back and forth across a stage like an orangutang.

      • Neil deGrass Tyson is a well compensated state supporting if not state supported celebrity intellectual. He’s there to tell us why we must sacrifice and obey. He’s part of the modern priest class. He’s not a thug himself but a part of the greater system that employs thugs. If he is successful the state doesn’t require thugs we just sacrifice and obey because he has convinced us that it is in our best interest to because of something that’s called science but bears no resemblance to what was originally called that.

          • Yeah, but ask him about the mere possibility of intelligent design and he’ll immediately turn gangster on you. He’s a tool. A means to an end, of the proper demographic to elude proper criticism for the many things he thinks and says that are wildly unintelligent, unscientific and very much state-sponsored. Everybody likes him superficially. But dig into what he really believes and stands for and you’ll change your tune. He’s the establishment’s scientist-equivalent of Jamie Dimon. Poster boy on the surface. Same ugliness inside.

      • Dear Eric,

        Agree, enthusiastically.

        People should not “be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

        I have more in common with African American libertarians such as Walter Williams than with green camp “Samurai fascists” on Taiwan.

        The sad thing about it is that the thugs will denounce educated and cultured African Americans as “Uncle Toms” who are “not black enough”.

        I mean really, think about it. What kind of insanity is this?

        Only ignorant, thuggish, inarticulate “gangstas” who slur their words qualify as “real” blacks?

        How sad is that?

        • Morning, Bevin!

          In re:

          Only ignorant, thuggish, inarticulate “gangstas” who slur their words qualify as “real” blacks?

          How sad is that?

          Indeed. And it’s so gross, so malicious, I can’t help but believe it to be deliberate. That is, a purposeful effort to create a savage underclass (on the one hand) and then use that underclass as a wedge or foil to terrify the middle and upper classes while at the same time also dragging them down to if not the same level, exactly, a much lower one at least.

          • Dear Eric,

            Yup. “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

            The militant thuggish underclass is arguably even more pathetic than the “white bread” and “straight” people being intimidated.

            They imagine they are defying the “white establishment”. In fact the one percent that constitutes the ruling nomenklatura is probably laughing at them from their Manhattan penthouses. Having duped them into equating thuggery with having “soul”, the one percent has successfully put them “in their place”.

            • But w/o the ‘thugs,’ to whom would Jesse and Lewis be important?
              When I was 10 (61) we moved from south Jersey to Little Rock. In preparation, my Dad told us, “It’s not the color of a man’s skin that makes him a nigger.” And believe me, we met some white niggers.

              • Yup.

                We have plenty (wiggers; white trash) in my neck.

                Numbers-wise, there are more of them, too.

                I think it’s very important to remember (those who can) and note (for the sake of the record) that the current loathsome “black” culture would have been repellent to most blacks before the era of Perpetual Aggrievement and Entitlement dawned in the late 1960s. Many people do not realize that prior to this time, the majority of blacks (like the majority of whites and other races) were not born out of wedlock, had stable families to grow up in that were future-time-oriented and valued education, correct grammar, civility and manners, etc.

                No, really.

                It’s very hard, I’m sure, for people in their 20s today – who grew up with the gnomesayin’ milieu – to grok.

                But it’s true, nonetheless.

                • Yes, and it is still true that whether a ‘household’ is classified as poor correlates more with whether there are 2 parents in the house than with skin color.
                  Men like Walter Williams and (usually) Thomas Sowell are heroes to me. Sowell will occasionally come out with something statist, but they are primarily founts of uncommon common sense.

                • Dear Eric,

                  “Many people do not realize that prior to this time, the majority of blacks (like the majority of whites and other races) were not born out of wedlock, had stable families to grow up in that were future-time-oriented and valued education, correct grammar, civility and manners, etc. ”

                  Little known, but 100 true.

                  Back then they wanted the same things middle class European Americans and Asian Americans wanted. They should have gotten it.

                  Instead, the gubmint relegated them to permanent welfare state dependent slave status.

                  • Uncle Sam’s plantation.
                    Of course the original minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act during the Depression, was racist in origin.

              • Dear Phil,

                Jesse Jackson. Al Sharpton. Yup!

                If by “Lewis” you mean Louis Farrakhan, I think he’s actually a different story. The Nation of Islam is surprisingly socially conservative. They wear suits and bow ties, reject Ebonics, reject government welfare.

                In fact, if the NOI was white and Christian, instead of black and Muslim, people would probably describe them as militant rightwing conservatives!

                They have a strong emphasis against drugs, against prostitution and pimping, and against violence and gang involvement. They urge blacks to set up black-owned and black-operated businesses, thus working to raise the standard of living in poor neighborhoods. They also look with disfavor on black reliance on the government welfare system, which they perceive as often perpetuating the cycle of poverty.[32]

                The Nation of Islam look to restaurants and food service industry as one focus for economic growth. The Nation of Islam owns thousands of acres of Georgia farmland, and has operated countless restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores, bookstores, hair care shops, and other enterprises. In 1995, the NOI opened the Salaam Restaurant and Bakery on the south side of Chicago, at a cost of five million dollars. Their fundamental ideology is to avoid reliance on government subsidies or white business partnerships and to “Do For Self.”

                http://answering-islam.org/NoI/noi1.html

                I’m not saying I approve of them. I’m merely saying that they have very little in common with the gangsta rapper demographic.

                • Thanks Bevin, I guess I spoke out of ignorance. Something I hate when others do it.
                  And I couldn’t think of Sharpton’s name. He may be worse than Jackson.

                  • PtB, Sharpton is an FBI protected murderer. He continues to run illegal businesses. If you’re black and trust him because of same, it equates to me trusting a rattler because we’re from the same place.

      • Ghetto culture is psychological warfare waged by one minority, using another minority as a cudgel, against a majority population that the first minority hates like poison. That’s all there is to it. The object of the game is get one of the majority to say something negative about the awful ghetto culture that they’re forced to endure, then the first minority and its media tools can yell and scream, to their hearts content: “racist, racist, racist”, like the bleating sheeple(four legs good, two legs bad) that they are. This is the essential nature of the anti-racist game, which is enabled by the media worship of ghetto culture; so, can you see, now, that the only socially acceptable racism in modern America: is racism of the the anti-White variety?

        If White people had a country of their own; this wouldn’t be happening.

        So much for “White privilege”; how does a supposedly privileged majority allow itself to be browbeaten like this? I’d like to know.

        • Dear KA,

          It always get back to one thing and one thing only.

          The Myth of Authority.

          As long as people insist on believing that “We need a government to keep everybody in line because they will run amok otherwise”, then this sorry state of affairs will never change.

      • Rap (especially pre-2000) is popular because of some of the same principles I think you believe in. 1) Being left the f*^% alone to do as one pleases. 2) Cops are corrupt and the War on Drugs is a farce. Its a commentary about the conditions in which they were raised. My opinion I suppose.

        • Yes there was a fair amount of freedom oriented messages in some rap music. It’s in all music. But even so I still find rap to be a crude form. It’s nothing like what preceded it quality wise.

        • Well, maybe some of it. I can’t really say because it’s unintelligible. Also, monotonously repetitive (boom boom boom click click click click) and not really music; certainly does not involve musicians, as that involves the playing of instruments.

          • Dear Eric,

            Yeah. Not music, and definitely not singing either.

            Just muttering into a microphone held right up against one’s lips. Absolutely no singing technique involved whatsoever. Total dependence on electronic amplification.

            Pathetic.

            Contrast this with opera singers, who train for years, even decades in Bel Canto voice technique to sing so they can be heard in opera houses totally lacking electronic amplification.

            • One of my voice teachers was a mezzo in the chorus of the Dallas Opera. I saw/heard her sing at an event once where the acoustics were such that she had to use a mic to be heard through the whole audience. But she held it down by her waist so she wouldn’t blow it out.

            • Dear Phil,

              As a classical music buff who loves opera most of all, I would have to second that.

              I liked 50s rock and roll, and 60 surf and hot rod oriented rock, but much of what followed left me pretty cold.

              • Actually I like almost all classical music except opera. But I did take voice lessons for a while, and developed an appreciation for the human voice as a musical instrument. cRAP, no thanks.
                50’s and 60’s (my HS days) I don’t mind, but if the “rock” has a modifier added to it: hard, acid, metal, etc., then it doesn’t fit the definition of music as I was taught – variations in tone, with melody and at least the possibility of harmony, tempo, and volume (technically, loudness) – and the latter 2 don’t just mean “fast and faster, loud and louder.”

                • I enjoy a wide variety of music, from classical to The Budos Band and Primus, even some country – but rap never made the list.

                  • Leaving aside the critiques of it as an art form, cRap is also just unpleasant, repetitive dreck. brrrrrrrrmmm brrrrrrrrrrm brrrrrrrrmmm (over and over and over again). No melody, no harmony. Just the monotonous, endless – mindless – beat. Then add to that the ugly vocals. A thug mumbling/shouting the most god-awful dreck imaginable. Mufuggah! Mufuggah! Bix nooood!

                • I can think of loads of rock that are neither faster nor louder. I can also think of music that used to be called country/western as well as “Texas” music that could be termed “white” soul. There’s everything in those two genre’s from Hot Rod Lincoln to He Stopped Loving Her Today(1982 BTW)that are and always will be “classics”.

                  A huge number of bands made outstanding music in the 50’s and 60’s it would be hard to peg to any spot.

                  BTW, listen for me on Asleep at the Wheel’s “Live at the Armadillo World Headquarter” on Miles and Miles of Texas.

        • Donald, I see this as you do. I compare “rap” to the 50’s “beatnik” movement. Many similarities that are basically commentary on the state of the state. Rap simply put a beat to the prose as did some of the beatnik crowd who mainly used some sort of “music” and quite often a beat(beatnik). The prose or poetry of beatnik often embodied the same message(s) as rap…..occasionally violent, scathing commentary about cops, govt. etc. But the “beat” in beatnik had the same roots(sic)as the beat of rap. When rap first began those who remembered the “beat” crowd saw the similarities. The Beat crowd never presented it as “music” per se while African heritage is a primarily beat oriented culture(s).

          It was presented as music because there was little other way to take it to the masses.

          While I don’t recognize it as music as such, I do recognize it as social commentary poetry. Much of the first of it and even to this day is spot on in it’s message.

          I notice young people these days can rap along with the performing artist and get a great deal more from it than I ever could simply because it’s boring to me for the main part. Beat poetry was boring for the main part too but there was a great deal of accurate commentary in it.

          • Hi Eight,

            I don’t see the equivalence at all. The protest music of the ’60s (Dylan, etc.) was music. Harmony and melody; musicians playing instruments; actual singing. All Along the Watchtower; The Times They are a’ Changin. Music. Much of it genuinely admirable.

            Rap?

            It’s the same repetitive/unimaginative noise – generated by electronics. A thug mumbling/shouting unintelligible (usually, violent, invariably simple-minded) nihilistic emulsions about fucking, acquiring “bling” and fucking with people. It’s utterly loathsome, without merit or redeeming qualities.

            Its sole purpose is to render human thought/reflection impossible via the driving, mindless bass beat. Brrrrrrrr ummmp Brrrrrrr ummmp thumpa thumpa thumpa thumpa…. Brrrrrrr ummmp (over and over and over). It’s the soundtrack of the apocalypse, the funeral dirge of Western civilization.

            Gnomesayin’?

            • I am not a fan of rap myself, but it is interesting to see that Jazz and Rock-n-roll were both vilified as primitive “jungle music” by much of mainstream America in the early to mid 20th Century.

              • Dear Escher,

                By social conservatives, yes.

                But not by real musicians, such as classical composer George Gershwin, who incorporated jazz into his own works.

                Rap is qualitatively different. It is as Eric correctly noted, TOTALLY DEVOID of melody.

                Not the same thing at all.

                • The only rap music that isn’t totally 100% garbage are the ones that incorporate rock into the melody and a handful of songs from the mid 90’s. Other than that, it’s rap shit. If it weren’t you’d have classic rap stations on the radio. As it is, people who like rap are embarrassed to admit they liked a song that is 2 or 3 years old.

                  Like AC/DC says, “rock and roll ain’t noise pollution, rock and roll ain’t gonna die”. Rock music is everything that rap is not.

              • Hi Escher,

                Sure, true. But jazz and classic rock involve the playing of musical instruments; a band is involved. A skilled jazzman or guitarist is a skilled musician. It is a skill that takes years to develop and tremendous natural talent, too. Very few people have such skill – or succeed in developing it.

                Is there a rap counterpart of a saxophonist like Clarence Clemmons? A rap analog of a guitar virtuoso such as Eddie Van Halen or Billy Gibbons? There isn’t even a notable rap drummer (ironic given the form’s obsession with beat). It’s all produced electronically – or “sampled” (read, someone else’s previously recorded music is selectively chopped up and replayed).

                This is why cRappers constantly grab their dicks. The don’t have any instruments to bother with.

                Rap requires no musical skill at all. It’s not even necessary to be able to sing (well, to have at least some talent in that respect).

                Literally anyone can do it.

                Just gin up some (usually crude and childish) “poetry,” mumble/shout it to the accompaniment of some god-awful/repetitive/simple-minded/electronically generated “beat” (perhaps with a few random bits of electronic/auto-toned squealing noises tossed in) and – presto! – you are a cRapper!

                Jazz, rock, country… they are different styles of music. But they’re all music.

                Ancap makes a great point about the lack of “classic” cRap. Each “song” is forgettable, replaceable, interchangeable. It’s truly a simpleminded form of expression. Can you – can anyone – put forward a cRap equivalent of say Bohemian Rhapsody? Stairway to Heaven? Hotel California? Born to Run? The White Album? Cheap Trick at the Budokan? Is there anyone out there who believes that whatever cRap “song” is number one today will be remembered by anyone five – let alone 50 – years from now?

                  • Hi Mith,

                    I don’t know the Blondie song… but I do remember the Aerosmith song. It’s good because it’s an Aerosmith song!

                    • An interesting fact about cRap is its utter dependency on the talent/skill of others. Take away the “sampling” of music created by actual musicians (i.e., people who can play a musical instrument) for instance… or the electronically generated beat (and so on) created by machines and so on… and what are you left with?

                      A mumbling/shouting “artist” with no ability to sing or play an instrument. His talent consists of purveying (usually unintelligible, typically coarse and simple-minded) rhymes and gesticulating/shuffling around like an orangutang.

                      The whole thing is just tragic.

                      “Black” music was once upon a time outstanding. Motown; Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin. It had heart, soul. And most of all, talent.

                      Today’s popular music is the incarnation of the soul-less, soul-sucking manufactured treacle described by Huxley in Brave New World.

                • Absolutely no disagreement with you or anyone else on the quality (or lack of it) of rap compared to older genres. I was just trying to say that mass market tastes evolve over time, and what was once beyond the pale (or “edgy” as the media calls it) is co-opted by corporate media and made mainstream. Social conservatives in the 50s and 60s (and many even now I am sure) believed that Rock music played a role in the degradation of popular culture.

                  • “believed that Rock music played a role in the degradation of popular culture.”
                    What? You mean it didn’t?

                  • Escher, they thought rock (or whatever) music degraded the culture. Myself and I think others here are saying that the opposite is true today. That the degraded culture produces things like gangster rap and lady gaga and such.

                    • Hi Brent,

                      I discovered that Lady Gaga actually can sing – quite well, actually. The sick thing is her success appears to be based on dressing up in meat outfits and so on. Her “popular” music is the same auto-toned squealing treacle that dominates Top 40 these days. Sad, because her voice is good.

              • True. They even outlawed pot partly because of drummed up fears of Jazz musicians. But the superiority of say Cab Calloway’s “Refer man” not to mention many other tracks over the last 20 years of rap I think is undeniable.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPkPyVYp6ik

                The gangster rap and everything like it expresses the crudeness and dumbing down of the culture since then. Even when it has a message it still reflects every destructive influence from the 1960s on. Not to say other popular music doesn’t, it does. It too reflects aspects of cheapening and dumbing down of the culture.

                • When they were in the process of outlawing kanabis (Dutch for canvas) they got doctors to testify that smoking Mary Jane made folks violent. Then WW II came along and the sergeants were saying, “We can’t let the GIs smoke pot, or they WON’T fight.”

            • eric, I spoke of Beat, the poetry put to a beat by Beatniks. It wasn’t music and was never purported to be but it was an art form, a much maligned one since people of the Beat often held what we now call Libertarian views and some of it was violent in the same way some rap still is. Most of Beat was written by non-mainstream, obscure writers who identified with anti-culture figures of that time and before. Some of Dylan’s work evokes memories of Beat poetry…..and Dylan was once best known for his poetry and much less for his music. It takes a while for his early vocals to grow on you and it’s mainly the message and the music and less his vocal style that made it what it is. Not hard to pick him out in The Traveling Wilbury’s.

              • And let’s not forget that Buddy Guy, a great bluesman, once referred to Stevie Ray as his “best friend” while performing Blues Jam. You don’t have to be of a particular color to play blues as Stevie proved time and again.

      • Eric,
        You have to get with the times. My 30-40 yr younger friends informed me that white people who act like street niggers are known as wiggers. I don’t get it either because you gave an accurate description of the rap scene, but my suspicion is the young persons lack of identity. That also seems to be the reason for rap in the black community. I have talked to black youngsters and rap appears to come from the way they talk to each other in the inner city and a sense of rebellion against older society norms. The funny thing is all the kids get a kick out of me because they look at me as that biker guy who talks to them and listens to their ideas while sharing my own.
        I identified with bikers when I bought my first motorcycle at 17, but back then we were all considered outlaws or as youngsters. Why else would we want to ride a motorcycle? I helped change the image when I became a biker businessman selling jewelry while riding my motorcycle in 1979. I was told that I couldn’t base my life on motorcycles. Well, I am in my mid 60’s and motorcycles are still a central part of my life. I just followed my dream and wish the kids the same luck to find something that is worthwhile to do in life.

        • Growing up in the sixties a lot of my friends rode scooters and the big deal then was the Cushman Eagles, esp. the Silver Eagles which a fair amount of classmates actually had. I bet they wish they still had them. The “grown-up”(sic)crowd liked and accepted them but just wait for somebody to show up on a Bonneville or a Harley and rumors would abound.

          Of course my screaming Malibu was looked on as a piss on the leg type thing too as were some other friends rides. They offended the “walking dead” crowd. They scared people who should have known better and just generally pissed off the older crowd who had illusions of their Chrysler 440 station wagon as being the balls to the wall runner of all times.

          One night, so bored as to do anything for entertainment, we put on our black trooper caps, ear flaps, funky little bill and all furry inside and shiny black leather outside(it might have gotten below 90 degrees at night). A well to do family in a new Chrysler 440 the size of a Fury, I forget the moniker now, pulled up to the only signal light in town and stopped because it was red, signaling non-existent traffic. We pulled up beside them and sorta cut our heads that way and then back. You really couldn’t see much of our heads but their 16 yr old girl and 14 yr old boy were really interested. Mom appeared to be semi-apoplectic about it all and dad was seriously challenged. We paced them away from the light for no other reason than boredom. After several blocks of this the dad finds some more power and simply wants to go on and leave us so we continue to pace him. Then he nails that bad boy and we simply, easily pace him to the tune of about 120 at the edge of town but I dropped out of it and let them go on. Then somebody mentioned the flashing red light one of them had stolen from a federal convoy of trucks hauling gun turrets for ships. It had a rubber ring for a mount and 4 rubber snubbers to attached to the rain gutters, a really quick mounting system that didn’t scratch your car. So we put in on and quickly ran down the car again and turned the light on and pulled them over. Right beside them with flashing light and maniacal cackling coming from inside, I burned em down and left them in smoke, a gauntlet thrown the dad couldn’t allow to let lie. 33 miles we paced them about 1/4 mile in front so they couldn’t get a plate number and that old Chrylser was a runner too. He was running over 130(probably had some interesting exchanges with his wife too) and did this for 30 miles. I was impressed but knew we’d be reaching another major highway and lots of troopers so I floored mine and ran away from them in time to go over a big hill and pull behind a big truck stop. We waited, lights out for them to pass. That new car was spewing all sorts of vapors/smoke and pulled in to the pumps. He got out and was highly agitated. Family gets out and they look a bit pale. He’s gesturing and talking a mile a minute to someone, an attendant probably. We fired up and eased out the back way we’d come, red light safely stashed in the trunk and did fairly much the PSL back home. That was the most excitement we’d had since the night we spent with extension ladders repainting a billboard at the edge of town. It had a picture of the earth from the moon, a recent happening. It read “Take Stock in America” in the blackness of space between the two, and right under that “Buy US Savings Bonds”. We carefully painted black over the white letters of”buy us savings bonds” and replaced it with same size block letters that said “Support the Brass Dildo”, a moniker we’d bestowed on the 3 of us. It looked like it was put up that way but someone finally noticed it one day and then it was the scourge of the town after someone finally explained what a dildo was to the locals. I wish I had a pic of it. I did have a pic but lost it in college when a roommate absconded with my suitcase.
          We did a lot of stupid but entertaining stuff from boredom back in those days. I had already given up on tv from all the doctor/pig/statist shows so there was little else to hold our attention and girls were rarely found who could stay out that late.

  21. After this winter up here there are potholes that will eat those low aspect tires for lunch, not to mention the dented rims. Agree that touch screens are a giant step backwards and not at all in line with gunverments obsession with our saaaafety; the highways are littered with signs warning “don’t text while driving” yet now you have to do the equivalent to adjust the heat, radio, etc. Brilliant!

  22. Also, don’t forget the lack of car keys. That is reason enough not to buy a new car.

    Another crappy trend is the high heights and long liftovers on pickup trucks.

  23. I saw an Oldsmobile with 30″ wheels on it yesterday. How did I know? The owner had put the numbers on a large vinyl decal on their rear window in white with baby-blue trim. Just crazy. Yes, the owner was urban youth.

    I think the Kardashian-sized ass on cars is not only the result of rear-impact safety requirements, but also the aerodynamic changes needed to meet CAFE standards.

  24. I’ve noticed the same model automobile can be shod with a range from 15 to 19 inch rims. Base trim gets the smaller rims and size increases in lockstep with the price of trim upgrades. Same brakes and suspension but bigger rims with lower aspect tires will keep overall tire circumference identical across the trims.

    It’s a shame manufacturers no longer has a la carte vehicles coming down assembly lines. Options are packaged into peculiar groupings, like heated seats bundled with a sunroof or navigation system. Maybe it is because assembly plants relocated where the natives can’t read build sheets.

  25. Another item in favor of buttons/dials over touch screen:

    Once I am familiar with the control layout, I can make adjustments without taking my eyes off the road.

    A touch screen requires that I look at the screen to make sure I touch the correct area of the screen to make the changes I wish to make.

    Regarding Tires: Is it practical to go one or two inches down in rim size while increasing the tire aspect ratio by an appropriate amount? The only problem, I can think of is if the brake shoes will still fit. Are there any other potential problems from doing this aftermarket?

    • The reason for larger diameter wheels is to clear larger diameter brakes. Without the brakes it’s pretty much marketing nonsense. Sadly most cars just have the bigger wheels but not the bigger brakes.

      Now 17″ tires and wheels I know are functional. 203K miles on them through Illinois’ horrible road surfaces and I’ve only damaged the sidewalls on two (same side, same pothole, same time) of them but not fatally so.

      Downsizing the wheels is usually shown on major tire/wheel retailer websites. If they don’t have it in their wheel calculator they will have snow tire offerings on smaller wheels. That will at least give a diameter and the sorts of designs that will fit. Snow tire packages tend to be narrower so one is on his own calculating from that starting point.

    • Mith, eric just recently tested a new Altima with touchscreen. The year before had pushbotton/dial controls. I don’t know if it’s feasible to change the new one to the old style but it doesn’t seem likely. It would have a totally different wiring harness for a ways there I’d think and maybe nothing would be the same. It really doesn’t seem likely to me that the cars would have many shared parts.

      There are many things I don’t like on new vehicles such as no physical connection between the gas pedal and the injection system. Dodge pickups are notorious for having these parts fail and leaving you with and idling only pickup. Some had a feature of starting and stopping the engine five times to reset the whole thing. My boss had a ’13 Dodge Cummins one ton he just traded for a new one. Why? In his words, IT started having those Dodge electronic problems. Our yard is chock full of old Dodge pickups, mainly one ton dually’s with work beds. I don’t see that at places that use Ford or GM pickups.

      As an aside to that. a buddy of mine decided he’d retired his old Q ship and get something smaller and sportier to drive for work, something he’d hope would make many miles. He found a 350 Z with a blown engine that was nice except for that and cheap so he bought it, installed a crate motor a bit hopped up and had been really happy with it. A couple weeks ago the fuel delivery went agly holding it WOT. He wasn’t able to shut it off fast enough so now he has a new engine that’s blown. Now he knows why the original probably blew.

      I don’t know if he’ll fix it. That probably depends on if there is a way to install a rev-limiter that will over-ride the gas pedal/sensor/fuel delivery it now has. One thing my wife’s Cutlass has that impressed me was a rev-limiter that allowed the engine to only reach 4,000 rpm in neutral. It allows about 5500 or so in gear. Why not have that in every vehicle?

    • A touch screen requires that I look at the screen to make sure I touch the correct area of the screen to make the changes I wish to make.

      Actually, it’s not the touch screen that requires that, it’s the crummy interface design. A suitable pie menu – say, using 8 directions off a 2 row by 3 column layout to get 48 different options, including some continuously graduated ones – would only need to be looked at during a learning phase.

      • Why not get one of these and cut out all the archaic middle man knobs and buttons entirely. You vehicle becomes your own personal “internet of things” at the touch of your gesturing hands.

        Each person in the vehicle could have one, each with different rights and access to various systems.

        Is the car ahead of you careening back and forth in a dangerous manner. Use your car’s wired gloves to take control of his vehicle and safely bring it to a stop at the side of the road. If you drive with a wingman, he can tap into oncoming traffic and make sure they don’t try to drive into your lane unexpectedly.

        Why not use these same data gloves everywhere else too? In your home. At your job. When you’re shopping. You could go to the local megamart virtually. Use the security cam system to browse the aisles and indicate what exactly it is you want to buy.

        The megamart bots and drones will pull your order. Charge your bitcoin wallet, and deliver your groceries and goods to you home.

        In an open society, you could access overhead traffic webcams’s stream and footage archives. At each traffic light, you could obtain vehicle counts. Average speed and weight of all vehicles.

        In the emerging wired world, property is not so simply private. You won’t have to rely on the skills and morality of your fellow beings so much any longer. You’ll be able to override their aggressions before they even occur and you’ll be able to mitigate problems and cooperate in picosecond real time with everyone around you.

        We’ll be more like parts of cells, than individualized atomic humans if its done correctly. There’ll be few limits in this emerging techno-sphere of individual human achievements and creativity.

        • Although I can’t remember the title, I read a book about some group of scientist who worked on all sorts of things including alchemy, ESP and the like. One neat thing they had was a glove that could give you tactile feel of things you couldn’t touch or that existed only in a ephemeral way. Maybe it was one of some short stories. I think I’d like to read it again. Naturally they were attacked by those who thought anything they couldn’t understand was evil…..which was most anything.

  26. I saw steam rollers with negative offset of at least 6 ” on a SUV the other day.

    SO the track was narrower by at least a foot and with those nice stiff sidewalls and high C of G I bet it is on its roof before too long.

    Maybe that trend will die out due to the deaths of its progenitors?

    Stupid

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