The 2 Percenters

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Hell’s Angels refer to themselves as 1 percenters. Soon, those of us who prefer to drive ourselves – as opposed to the car driving itself – will be 2 percenters.

That’s right out of the mouth of Mazda’s North American CEO, Masahiro Moro . . . kinda sorta.

Mazda – which has about a 2 percent market share – will not automate its cars. Or at least, there will be an Off switch. Moro says his company will hew to their motto, Driving Matters – and for Mazda, that doesn’t mean taking the driver out of the equation.

“We believe driving pleasure should never die,” he says.

As opposed to the rest of the industry – which is doing everything it can to kill it.

The first self-driving Cadillacs come out in just a few months (2018 models) and Mercedes and BMW cars already have self-driving capabilities. It’s not just the high-end stuff, either. Within five years, possibly a lot sooner, most new cars will have at least some “autonomous” or self-driving capability built in. Many new cars are already capable of parking themselves – just push a button and let go of the wheel.

Ford promises cars without steering wheels at all within four years. Steering wheels being as superfluous in an autonomous car as a gas tank in an electric car.

Whether it is market demand or a pushy industry that has embraced autonomous cars as the ultimate form of automotive idiot-proofing that’s driving all this is debatable. On the one hand, it’s inarguable that Americans, in the main, have grown incredibly passive – and not just behind the wheel.

They have been reduced to this by endless hectoring about “safety” – which has become synonymous with ludicrously over-cautious driving and an almost religious worship of all traffic laws and regulations, no matter how situationally idiotic (viz, coming to a complete stop at the crest of a steep grade when it’s a blizzard outside – because there’s a stop sign there, even if no other cars are there – and thus, losing momentum and becoming stuck . . . as well as everyone else behind the law-cuck getting stuck, too).

Driving skills are no longer taught – much less expected. They are actively discouraged – in favor of what is termed “defensive” driving, which is Safety Cult argot for passivity and law-cuckery.

At the same time, punishment for not driving “defensively” – even if expertly – has become Abu Ghraib-esque.

This wilts the urge to drive.

In my capacity as an Automotive Journalist, I have Q&A’d lots of people of various ages and walks of life and many of them tell me that driving has become a chore – and a bore.

Your choices are two, they observe:

One, you can drive “defensively” – in which case it’s absurd to be driving anything more zesty than a four cylinder Camry and purposeless torture to be driving a V6 Camry.

Driving becomes soporific, tedious.

Especially if you are not a “defensive” driver – and actually know how to – and like to – drive. Long road trips are excruciating. In almost any modern car – even a Hyundai Accent or similar little econobo  – driving the speeeeeeeeeeeed limit (for saaaaaaaaaaaaaafety) for four or five hours is not unlike a high school kid in the full bloom of youth and vigor being made to shuffle along at the pace of an 80-year-old with diabeetus.

It is hard not to fidget – or nod off.

The disconnect between what cars – even the least of them – are capable of and what we are allowed to do with them has never been more extreme. It is no wonder they fill them all with really good stereos, LCD displays and other stuff to take the driver’s mind off of the fact that he is not doing much (or allowed to do much) in the way of driving.

Your Cuckmobile awaits.

Hence the appeal of automated cars.

It is the obvious Next Step,  a collective heave of despair, an accommodation of a kind of rape. Bye, bye autonomy – us in control. Hello, autonomous cars, driven by computers controlled by the same people who’ve made driving insufferable or illegal and done all they can to rid us of any desire to have anything to do with it.

Literally, we might as well lie back and enjoy it.

Or, you could choose to be a 2 Percenter.

Refuse to let go of the steering wheel; make them pry it from your cold, dead hands if it comes down to that. Trust your judgment and skill. If the law makes sense, follow it. If not . . . well, not.

There are fewer and fewer such.

I count myself among them. I employ illegal (in my state) countermeasures, such as my faithful Valentine1 radar detector – which I never leave home without (and neither should you, if you’re not a “defensive” driver).

I do not obsequiously – mindlessly – obey every traffic law and regulation, most especially those pertaining to things that are no one else’s business, such as whether I am or am not wearing a seat belt but also those pertaining to actions that involve no harm to anyone and which are obviously absurd to follow as if they were moral injunctions, such as speed laws and laws forbidding the turning of right on red and demanding full stops at stop signs even in the middle of blizzards and even if there are no other cars around.

I like to drive – which means, making use of the skill I have acquired over many years actually driving the things. . . . as opposed to being a seat warming “defensive” driver.

Mazda’s Moro is, therefore, my kind of people. A fellow driver and so, an outlaw, too. God bless him.

And, preserve us.

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Author of “Automotive Atrocities” and “Road Hogs” (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia.

30 COMMENTS

  1. The world is rapidly converging to a toxic blend of “1984” and “Brave New World”. Looks like the only places where one might have some freedom are 3rd world countries or South America, where the government is too incompetent to enforce its will on the populace, and where human-driven cars will likely stay on the roads for longer.

    • Hi Escher,

      I think so, too. If I were 20 years younger, I’d pick up sticks and head to Argentina, maybe

      America is Weimar Germany or 1908 Russia all over again.

  2. Eric, serious question here: I get the basics of how self-driving cars operate; but how will a fully autonomous car (particularly one with no steering wheel) know what to do in, say, your driveway? Or which side of the garage you want it to park on? which spot to choose in a parking lot? which pump to pull up to at the gas/charging/Mr. Fusion/unicorn dust station? Or will it make all these decisions for you, and you just have to accept them?

    • Hi Jeff,

      You raise yet another interesting question… it’s too bad more such aren’t asked!

      I suppose it would “map” your driveway/garage and park according to whatever parameters are fed into it, either by the “grid” or (if allowed) you.

      I feel increasingly like the Savage in Huxley’s Brave New World….

  3. Something else to think about before we call become *Capt Dunsels* and let Dr. Daystrom’s M5 run our lives; when you program an autonomous vehicle to go anywhere aren’t you asking someone else *permission* to go to that place/location? With all the technology tracking our every move and knowing what your likely political views might be; let’s say you want to go to a 2020 Trump rally and program your prius to take you there. Ooops, the car won’t start or take that location in the computer. As a matter of fact it will take you anywhere else outside a 5-mile radius of your intended rally. What if I want to take the scenic way home…no you must take the fastest route otherwise your car will increase it’s carbon footprint.
    I like Mazda for their sportscar and now even more for being dedicated to driving free and keeping King George at bey.

  4. Geico sends me this periodical/magazine a few time a year because I have car insurance through them (different rant for a different day that Eric has mostly nailed already anyway). It’s a total fluff piece mostly centering around saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety mostly. The latest copy came this week and included an article on autonomous cars. It had some doozies in it. Here are some of them (Eric your teeth are going to ache):

    “These high-tech wonders promise a world with fewer accidents, faster commutes and more spare time for you to, say, catch up on your favorite TV series as your vehicle chauffeurs you around town. Even cars themselves-whose basic four-wheel format hasn’t changed much since their inventions more than a century ago-may begin to look quite different.”
    -This is a confusing quote. No, the fact the cars still have four wheels hasn’t changed but why would should it? That’s one of the things that makes them an automobile. But today’s cars are drastically different than those from more than a century ago. And are autonomous vehicles going to look different because they’re going to have more/less than 4 wheels? Me thinks not. Will they look different? Probably so but not because they’ll deviate from the “basic four-wheel format” so why even mention it? Arghh.

    “Proponents say one of the most anticipated benefits of self-driving cars is that they’ll increase the safety of America’s roadways. That’s good news for all of us, as 94 percent of all crashes can be attributed to human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).”
    -This just in…..bears shit in the woods.

    “Autonomous vehicles feature a hive-mind capability,” he adds. “If one vehicle encounters a collision with a bus, say, an algorithm is developed to improve how the vehicle responds to that situation in the future. That algorithm is shared with every vehicle in the fleet, so they just get better and better.”
    -Why would the autonomous vehicle have a collision with a bus in the first place? I thought these things were supposed to prevent such things from ever happening.

    “And how much will it cost to own a vehicle that will take you basically anywhere you want to go? Not as much as you’d expect. Some experts estimate that it will add only about $10,000 to the purchase price of a car to make it driverless.”
    -Hmmm, both “non-autonomous” vehicles I currently own will take me anywhere I want to go. And only a mere $10,000 more on top of (and ever increasingly out of reach for most folks) already bloated prices? Well shit, where do I sign? Will you take cash?

    “But will Americans, with their longtime love affair with the automobile, be willing to cede control of their cars to a piece of software? The experts think so. For many people, driving has become a chore: tied to ever-longer commutes or ferrying kids to activities. Taking the driving out of your drive will make it fun again, Driverless co-author Kurman says.”
    -“The experts think so”…what would we do with out them? Zod bless their hearts.

    “One of the things that we propose is a simple rating system that tells you how safe each car is compared to the average human driver,” says Lipson. Such a system, established by the government, would inspire consumer confidence, he says.”
    -Yes, nothing inspires confidence in me like a system established by the government.

    “Still, she’s looking forward to owning a self-driving vehicle some day. “It will be exciting when I buy a driverless car and punch in a destination-and then go in the back and sleep,” she laughs.”

    “Zero to 60 in seconds. Some models are being produced to reach speeds up to 155 mph.”
    -Well slap me with a wet birch and call me silly….I never thought I’d see the day a car could accelerate from 0-60 mph in mere seconds or reach speeds of up to 155 mph. Besides, I thought this was about safety? Won’t such speeds be dangerous? What about the children?

    • Great rant c_dub, I’ve yet to see an explanation of how these abominations will ease your commute. If every vehicle in existence magically transformed into “self driving” overnight it would still take an hour to go 5 miles around here because everyone else in the city is on the road too. Part of the plan is probably to make cars so costly none of us will be able to afford one in the future, so traffic problems solved. If people really don’t want to drive themselves there’s always the bus or a taxi.

      • Dear Mike,
        Part of the ruling elite’s plan is to get everyone else off the roads by hook or by crook, so that their limousines can cruise unimpeded toward their Beltway insider cocktail parties.
        I do not oppose mass transit per se, providing it arises spontaneously out of free market needs.
        But I vehemently object to a ruling class arranging things so that they enjoy all the comforts while standing on our necks. Gun control, so called, is another example of this two tiered class system.

      • Thanks Mike! Yeah, that’s a great question. I guess they’re marketing them so one can sleep/watch tv/jerkoff/etc. on they’re commute instead of actually driving and that will “ease” commutes. It doesn’t really address the problem of traffic congestion that you hinted at. This boy says no thanks and enjoys driving.

        As far as cost, that is most likely true and something Eric has touched on as well. I would not be surprised in the least if that is “their” endgame. “It’s only $10,000 more”…..

  5. Geico sends me this periodical/magazine a few time a year because I have car insurance through them (different rant for a different day that Eric has mostly nailed already anyway). It’s a total fluff piece mostly centering around saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety mostly. The latest copy came this week and included an article on autonomous cars. It had some doozies in it. Here are some of them (Eric your teeth are going to ache):

    “These high-tech wonders promise a world with fewer accidents, faster commutes and more spare time for you to, say, catch up on your favorite TV series as your vehicle chauffeurs you around town. Even cars themselves-whose basic four-wheel format hasn’t changed much since their inventions more than a century ago-may begin to look quite different.”
    -This is a confusing quote. No, the fact the cars still have four wheels hasn’t changed but why would should it? That’s one of the things that makes them an automobile. But today’s cars are drastically different than those from more than a century ago. And are autonomous vehicles going to look different because they’re going to have more/less than 4 wheels? Me thinks not. Will they look different? Probably so but not because they’ll deviate from the “basic four-wheel format” so why even mention it? Arghh.

    “Proponents say one of the most anticipated benefits of self-driving cars is that they’ll increase the safety of America’s roadways. That’s good news for all of us, as 94 percent of all crashes can be attributed to human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).”
    -This just in…..bears shit in the woods.

    “Autonomous vehicles feature a hive-mind capability,” he adds. “If one vehicle encounters a collision with a bus, say, an algorithm is developed to improve how the vehicle responds to that situation in the future. That algorithm is shared with every vehicle in the fleet, so they just get better and better.”
    -Why would the autonomous vehicle have a collision with a bus in the first place? I thought these things were supposed to prevent such things from ever happening.

    “And how much will it cost to own a vehicle that will take you basically anywhere you want to go? Not as much as you’d expect. Some experts estimate that it will add only about $10,000 to the purchase price of a car to make it driverless.”
    -Hmmm, both “non-autonomous” vehicles I currently own will take me anywhere I want to go. And only a mere $10,000 more on top of (and ever increasingly out of reach for most folks) already bloated prices? Well shit, where do I sign? Will you take cash?

    “But will Americans, with their longtime love affair with the automobile, be willing to cede control of their cars to a piece of software? The experts think so. For many people, driving has become a chore: tied to ever-longer commutes or ferrying kids to activities. Taking the driving out of your drive will make it fun again, Driverless co-author Kurman says.”
    -“The experts think so”…what would we do with out them? Zod bless their hearts.

    “One of the things that we propose is a simple rating system that tells you how safe each car is compared to the average human driver,” says Lipson. Such a system, established by the government, would inspire consumer confidence, he says.”
    -Yes, nothing inspires confidence in me like a system established by the government.

    “Still, she’s looking forward to owning a self-driving vehicle some day. “It will be exciting when I buy a driverless car and punch in a destination-and then go in the back and sleep,” she laughs.”

    “Zero to 60 in seconds. Some models are being produced to reach speeds up to 155 mph.”
    -Well slap me with a wet birch and call me silly….I never thought I’d see the day a car could accelerate from 0-60 mph in mere seconds or reach speeds of up to 155 mph. Besides, I thought this was about safety? Won’t such speeds be dangerous? What about the children?

  6. Great article! I’ll NEVER buy/ride in/or “drive” a computer with wheels “car” I’ll stick with REAL older cars/motorcycles!

    (and by the way I’m in my 20s)

  7. ‘ Driving skills are no longer taught – much less expected. They are actively discouraged – in favor of what is termed “defensive” driving, which is Safety Cult argot for passivity and law-cuckery.’

    Now that’s interesting. When I learned to drive, back in high school during the mid 60s, DEFENSIVE DRIVING had precisely the opposite meaning. It meant what fighter pilots refer to as SA, SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.

    It mean close attention to one’s driving. Anticipating potential accidents and making sure that they could not materialize. No daydreaming. No “multi-tasking”. No texting of course. After all, they didn’t even have cell phones back then.

    Well I guess it had to happen. Orwellian Newspeak being the ruling principle in today’s education. Yet another indicator of civilizational decline.

  8. My favorite scene in Pirates of the Carribean: “That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom.”

    Replace “keel and a hull and a deck and sails” with “frame and body and seats and engine” and “ship” with “car”, and there you go.

  9. Meanwhile, got word this week that my work truck is going in for “an adjustment.”

    https://derivesystems.com promises a 6% increase in fuel economy. They’ll probably install a speed limiter too. The supervisor I mentioned this to said they limit the engine RPM to 3K. So much for getting up to highway speed on the on-ramp. Now I get to be a clover! At least when I drove a bucket truck people would generally understand that the thing won’t go that fast off the line and give me some room. Now they’ll just think I’m an idiot who can’t drive.

    Could be worse, though. The installers have had GPS locaters installed on their vehicles for a few years now. The intent is so customers can know when their tech is going to show. But of course the supervisors can track them too. For now, most of the sups are OK with some deviation from the scheduled route as long as the work is getting done. But it will only be a matter of time until someone up the food chain (or possibly Uncle smells a way to collect more income taxes) decides to crack down on non-work activity and forces everyone to get in line.

    • I retired from the electric utility here a few years back, and at that time all the trucks had GPS trackers installed; my boss was cool with my running the occasional errand, but it went above his level to the Big Brother monitoring system. Every employee’s home address and all the Dunkin’ Donuts locations were programmed into the computer so it would spit out an alert if you dared stop there. They were also programmed to alert any time you exceeded the speed limit, which was laughable for my hulking bucket truck, but some of the guys that drove pickups would occasionally get bagged. I heard from my buddies still working there that even the supervisors now have them in their cars too, so much for being on the “team”. Our overlords won’t be satisfied until everyone gets an rfid chip implanted in their neck so we can be catalogued and monitored anywhere on the planet; “mark of the beast” indeed.

      • Dear Mike,

        “Our overlords won’t be satisfied until everyone gets an rfid chip implanted in their neck”

        That is not hyperbole. The logic of totalitarianism eventually leads to that give time. It’s not a matter of whether a totalitarian mindset will create a totalitarian system with such extreme measures. It’s only a matter of when.

  10. As my driving skills degrade from lack of ability to use all the power and control current cars have, my skills in purposefully not obeying every stupid law/stop sign increases. At least we have that.

  11. As the world becomes more hostile to my sensibilities maybe I’ll be able to work for Mazda. The list of things I won’t do as an engineer continues to grow.

  12. Motorcycles will probably be the last holdout, and one of the reasons I got back in the wind after a long dry spell. It will take a little work to turn them into two wheel people pods, although I am sure there are armies of control freak propeller heads feverishly working on the “problem”.

  13. I hope Mazda can hold off as long as they can with cars for drivers.

    Unfortunately all will take for that to end is a new CEO who isn’t committed to that, or some new regulation that can’t be dodged.

    • Dear rich,
      I definitely second that. As long as government remains in existence, it will always be able to raise the bar so high that private enterprise simply cannot hurdle it. When that happens, a valuable technology will have been given the death sentence.

      Some naive individuals might take comfort in the ingenuity of private enterprise when they make end runs around crippling government constraints. But they overlook the fact that all the government has to do is hand down an arbitrary edict. Private enterprise has to actually work out an engineering solution.

      The two entities are hardly on an equal footing. This was a key point that Ayn Rand underscored in “Atlas Shrugged”. The number that the feds did on VW re: diesel engine smog tests was merely one example. It is so much easier for tyrants to destroy, than it is for inventors to create.

  14. Eric, you nailed it. I’ve been meditating this a lot lately. The choice to be an outlaw, to blithely ignore the dictates of anile nitwits, I made decades ago. But as the police state continuously grows more brash, bold, and arrogant, I find myself afraid a lot. And I’m damned tired of living in fear. Life is about living, not safety. About making your own decisions and living with them. God did not gave me an IQ many standard deviations above the mean to allow superstitious retards to make choices for me. F@ck them WITH fish heads.

    • They’ll just let you age out of existence and then put huge yearly fees on classic cars. If you refuse to pay and still run the car they have no problem making your hands cold and dead.

      • Dear Anonymous,
        That’s the bottom line isn’t it?

        When push comes to shove, the government reaches for its gun and points it at your head. Comply or die.

        And people wonder why governments love “gun control”, more accurately known as victim disarmament?

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