Latest Reader Q (Sept. 19, 2017)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:

Ray asks: Went to a Walmart today to have new tires put on vehicle. Employee came out to vehicle with a hand held computer and asked me a battery of questions. VIN#, license plate data, mileage, any dents, etc. I asked why all of this data was needed just to change tires and he told me a new policy was in effect. Later, I asked a store manager same question and was told a new mandate from DOT required all service centers to obtain this data? Do you know if this is correct?

My Reply: I am going to check with my friend Tim – who owns a car repair shop – but I can’t find anything on the DOT/NHTSA web sites to the effect that car owners are required to provide such information. There are regs about identifying tires, their date of manufacture and so on (see here) but these apply to the manufacturer, not the end user (customer) and this business about collecting information about dents is almost certainly Wal Mart’s own Orwellian rigamarole.

I would have told them to show me the regulations. Not theirs. The government’s.

Private businesses are becoming as intrusive as the government, unfortunately.

PS: Check back in a bit; I will add whatever I find out after speaking with my friend about this.

UPDATE: There is no law requiring this, according to my friend Tim. However, he says many shops are collecting this info. They use the VIN to – as an example – find out whether the car originally came equipped with speed rated tires – and because of that, refuse to sell you tires with a lesser speed rating. But the really creepy thing is that by accessing the VIN, they gain access to detailed info not only about the vehicle but also about other things as well, things which are arguably none of their business.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. I’ve been lying in this bed
    for three weeks thinking about it
    and all I know is

    I don’t want to go to prison
    and I can’t play Cathcart’s game.
    – What else can you do?

    – I can run away.
    You’ll desert? How would you

    get off the base? That’s insane.
    That’s why

    it’s the only sensible thing to do.
    They’ll call you a coward.

    It’s your country.
    I’ve flown 300 missions

    and I’ve fought for three years,
    now I’ll fight for myself.

    – Suppose everyone felt that way?
    – I’ d be a fool to feel different.

    What would your friends say?
    I haven’t got any.

    Nately was blown to bits,
    McWatt killed himself,

    Hungry Joe was chopped in two,
    Dobbs disappeared,

    Aardvark’s a murderer,
    Doc Daneeka’s a zombie.

    They’re all gone.
    The only friend I had was Snowden

    and I didn’t even know him.

    What about Orr?
    – Orr’s at the bottom of the sea.

    – No, he isn’t. Don’t you know?
    – Know what?

    – Orr’s in Sweden.


    After 3 weeks at sea, Orr was found
    by a trio of Swedish girl scouts.

    – A miracle.

    – He rowed all the way.

    – He rowed?

    – In that tiny little raft.

    Think of that, all the way to Sweden!

    – He’ll sit out the rest of the war.

    – It’s a miracle!

    It’s no miracle.

    He has to have planned it.

    – He went to Sweden deliberately?

    – It’s 1000 thousand miles away!

    He always said that

    crash-landing was good practice.

    – Getting shot down in the sea.

    – On every mission that he flew!

    That is a miracle.


    getting shot down in the sea!

    He made it?

    He made it?

    He made it!

    That son of a bitch made it!

    – Are you crazy? Is he crazy?

    – If he made it, so can I!

    – We gotta stop him.

    – I can do it, Danby!

    – They’ll catch you!

    – I can do it.

    – This is insane!

    – What about your clothes?

    They won’t recognise me

    out of uniform.

    You’ll be on the run,

    in constant danger of betrayal!

    I live that way now.

    – For God’s sake, hurry up!

    – So long, Chaplain.

    – How do you feel, Yossarian?

    – Fine, except I’m scared to death.

    – You’ll have to keep on your toes.

    – I’ll keep on my toes.

    – You’ll have to jump.

    – I’ll jump.


    Final Scene of Catch 22


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