Little Brothers

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Every new car is infested with Little Brothers – in the form of code and programming that “corrects” outright or thwarts whatever it is you wanted to do.

It goes way beyond the Seat Belt Nanny.

Have you tried backing up a new car with the driver’s door cracked open? Several won’t allow it – refusing to engage Reverse until you close the door. You can try all day to move the shifter into Reverse – but programming controls whether the transmission will comply. It’s all drive-by-wire now, you see. So no direct, mechanical connection between the gear selector and the transmission. When you select a gear, you are merely asking the computer to engage Drive or Reverse – and the computer is the ultimate Decider, not you.

But why would you want to back the car up with the door open? Not that it is anyone’s business – certainly not an insolent computer’s – but that’s how people used to be taught to Reverse in close quarters, because you could see better. The curb, for example. Of course, this entailed some judgment and motor skills which are now lacking – and certainly not taught. Instead, people are taught to gape at a screen rather than actually look in the direction they’re backing the car up.

And if you try it the old school way, Little Brother will step in to “correct” you. The transmission shifts itself into Neutral and – in some cars – the electronic parking brake engages.

Speaking of that. . .

The computer-controlled “eBrake” is replacing the traditional driver-controlled pull-up emergency brake.  Unlike the pull-up brake controlled by the driver, which can be partially and gradually engaged as the driver likes, the eBrake is either all the way on – or all the way off – your role limited to pushing the button.

And sometimes, not even that.

In several new cars, the eBrake turns itself on, automatically – whenever the shift lever is moved to Park. Or when you try to Reverse with the door open a crack.

Yes, really.

Speaking of stopping. . .

Automatic Stop/Start is another  “feature” I don’t think many of us actually asked for – but which is nonetheless becoming part of the new car standard equipment roster. It turns the engine off even though you prefer it to be running – one assumes, since you haven’t turned it off.

Or even arrived at your destination yet.

The idea – not our idea – is that by turning the engine off whenever an opportunity presents itself – as when momentarily idled in traffic or caught at a red light – some gasoline will be saved.

Even though we might prefer not to.

And why might we prefer that?

Because with the engine off, the AC no longer works and the battery is being drained to power every electrical accessory that you’ve got running. This is hard on the battery. As are the multiple restart cycles. On the alternator, too – because it has to work harder to keep the battery – which is being discharged – charged up. Both are likely to not last as long.

It is also hard on you – and not just financially.

The paint shaker-esque start/stop cycles get old quickly. Also the slight but present lag before you can actually get moving again. It takes a moment for the engine to start – even when a super-fast starter motor is used. An already running engine is ready to go right now. An auto-stopped one is not.

But the most irritating thing about it is this business of being pre-empted and “nudged” one more time by a peremptory piece of technocracy.

Speaking of which . . .

If you’ve been in a new car recently, you may have noticed the helpful little traffic sign icons that illuminate on the LCD display (almost all new cars now have these) as you drive. The bossy car knows the speed limit – a mortifying thing, when you stop to think about what that means – and will express its unhappiness that you’re traveling faster by turning the icon from white with black lettering – just like the real roadside speed limit signs – an angry red.   

This is called Traffic Sign Recognition – and it goes beyond speed limit signs. It also includes (currently) Stop signs and No Right on Red signs. For the moment, the Little Brother somewhere within your dashboard merely stomps his electronic foot at you – by flashing red. It’s kind of like having a perpetual mother-in-law along for the ride – except you can’t open the door and kick her out.

Besides which, the computer won’t let you open the door.   

What’s almost certainly coming is more than just an electronic foot stomp in the form of a futilely flashing light on the LCD display. New cars – most of them – already pre-empt your decisions about when to apply the brakes and will do that for you – or rather, contrary to you – if the Little Brother decides you should have but didn’t. This technology is marketed as automatic emergency braking or collision avoidance or pedestrian/object detection.

“And this model comes with a virtual mother-in-law in the back seat to make it feel authentic.”

Point being, the car already has the technology – and the effrontery – to hit the brakes when it wants to. It’s not much of a step farther down the road to tie that technology in with the Traffic Sign Recognition technology to prevent the car from going faster than the speed limit, make it come to a complete stop at every Stop sign and never make an illegal U-turn or right-on-red, no matter how actually reasonable/safe it may be to do so.

The law is the law, after all.

And your car not only knows the law – it knows best, too.

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies…  

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      • eric, your TA is a rare piece in that it’s a multi-purpose car although most people don’t think of them this way. There was a time when a TA or Corvette pulling a boat wasn’t uncommon here in the LSS(Lone Star State). I wouldn’t try to kill one with a big tandem axle trailer but pulling a bass boat or small ski boat to the lake was common. Somehow I don’t see a new ‘Vette pulling a trailer of any sort. And straight TA’s are too valuable to their owners to do things like that……now.

  1. I wonder if an eye dropper is large enough to collect and measure the amount of fuel that is actually “saved” with an Auto Start/Stop system. If an eye dropper is too large, those little capillary tubes used to draw blood from a fingertip would probably work.

  2. Not sure what it says about me when every subject on this site seems to date me. Maybe it’s this “back in the day”……cause back in the day I used to have to look for S rated tires, the highest rating at the time. I was going to drive that car or truck one hell of a lot faster than that but you took what you could get.

  3. I know this will expose my age, but when taking Driver’s Education in advance of the Pennsylvania Driver’s Examination, the instructor pointed out that if you didn’t make it obvious to the Examiner that you checked the rear (ie, turned your head past 90 degrees left before pulling into traffic, since the test was on the road and not in a coned-off lot), you would probably fail the exam. I don’t know that they can be that strict anymore, since this automaton feature will do the checking for you.

  4. I think this is part of why people say things like, “Man, I’d love to buy a brand-new 1999 Civic Si” or “…brand-new 1993 300ZX.”

    • Hmm, I wonder. New cars have to meet new car regulations – but what if someone manufactures an older, approved car. Could you manufacture a 1993 300ZX today, and sell it as a 1993 300ZX? Does the certification happen for the model year, or the year that it’s built?

      • Hi OL,

        You can rebuild/restore a car – but you can’t sell it as “new.”

        In other words, a company could legally restore a 1993 300ZX to as-new condition and sell it. But it’s not legal to build a new car from scratch and sell it as a “1993” model (and so subject to the emissions and safety crap in effect at that time).

  5. *@#*%# E-brakes…

    My new Jeep has one of those. It’s a standard shift, so they had to add a little fillip where if you are trying to start uphill from a full stop, the car gives you a couple seconds extra wheel-lock after your foot comes off the brake so you don’t slide backwards. Unfortunately, if you are pointed downhill and attempting to reverse up the hill, you’re on your own.

    I was entirely happy with my hand brake lever.

    • The 4WD Subaru 4-spds from back in the day had a “hill-holder clutch”, which worked great in hilly places like San Francisco and Seattle. Totally voluntary too. Lovely innovation. What happened to it? Oh, I know, it’s nearly impossible to get a manual-trans Subaru anymore, and they went from shift-on-the-fly 4WD to AWD all the time. Complexity grew, mileage dropped. I could coax my ’87 5-speed XT to 39mpg on the hwy. Today, I’m lucky to get 26mpg on my ’06 Outback, with the damn anti-lock brakes I had to disable, while it’s still legal to do so.

    • Hi Bill,

      I agree, and briefly had some hope. But Trump appears to be more concerned with the usual neo-con nonsense (regime changing North Korea, lately) than with doing anything substantive about the regime in DC.

    • Trump is Owned! He talked the talk on the campaign trail but walking the walk aint happening. All of his support within his administration has been usurped and replaced by a Junta of Generals and Goldman Sachs Banksters. What does that spell? More war and more debt on our balance sheet. But even the Keynesians can’t forestall the inevitable forever.

      • Trump ran on a return to the original Alexander Hamilton system. A government that sees an unending right to alter anything and everything, should it advance the centralized moneyed interests.

        A hard nosed America First mentality. Aiming to make all Americans as gung ho about America as Israelis are for Israel. (Of course observant and Orthodox Jews hate Israel, but you never hear much about them.)

        Trumpism is supposed to be a leaner meaner government, but not much has happened yet. It’s hard to avoid the trap as wanting to be seen as doing something. What I find most surprising as there’s no Carl Icahn or any other contrarian that seems to be willing to go out on a limb in the way Trump has. Truly pathetic.

        There does seem to be some backsliding into classic neo con staples like a worldwide military and police presense. And not much actual draining of the swamp.

        I don’t see much else out there besides Trump yet. Hard to get excited by Rand Paul and the other alternatives available.

        Trump says trying to shrink Govt

      • I’m amazed he managed to queer the govt. lock on the NFL. He’s losing support faster than he can tweet and that’s damned fast from what I’ve seen. If anyone there in the WH really wanted him to stay they’d give him a phone with a fictitious name.

        I can say this honestly because I have no use for his opponents either.

        If everybody who votes would watch a movie called The Campaign, they might catch on a bit. Ah, what am I saying. The sheeple would just bleat and look around in confusion and laugh when a laugh track told them to do so.|

        I have to channel my deceased BIL now. He would not stay in the same room with a tv playing anything with a laugh track. As he so eloquently said, “If it was funny you’d laugh”. No shit. Not much funny now. We have the Patriot Act and it took all the humor out of life.

        • As Mao said “the only vote that counts from the barrel of a rifle”

          Out of the mouth’s of Babes and Communists oft times comes the truth about Democracy. And yes I know this was not supposed to be a Democracy. But as Old Ben said “A Republic if you can keep it”

          • Hi QueeQueg, Every time someone pulls that “this is a republic, not a democracy” quote on me, I like to point out to him that many of the governments of many communist countries refer to themselves as being republics. I also like to point out to him that the government school lied to him about this country being the most free one. The Heritage foundation is not even pro-liberty for the common people; and they only rate us as being # 17.

            • In a “Constitutional Republic” the ultimate law of the land is that Constitution whether it’s called the Communist Manifesto or “just a God Damned piece of paper”. Remember when the country was founded most people could not vote, Not Women or slaves whatever the color of their skin and in many places voting was limited to property owners and or those who could read. Now we have true Democracy where most people of age can vote regardless of their position in society or IQ. So we have now what is always the end result of a Democracy. The majority always votes for the gang that promises to give them the most free shit. And to make good on those promises after the gold ran out they invested heavily in ink, paper and now days digital storage. We have what Franklin warned about. A nation of apathetic Prozaked pussified proles too confused and afraid to take charge of our own future. It is exactly the Government we deserve. An Agitator in Chief. A wealth redistribution system that makes Marx look like piker and a burgeoning Police State that will not rest until it is Us or Them.

              “If you can keep it”

                • Brian, since the big C is mostly about ascribing powers to the Fed and the parts about freedom were added to it I’d agree with you. Hamilton, who had a lot of old guard English backing him, tried everything he could to see it benefited TPTB at the time…..and it still does.

                • Brian, right on. The purpose of the so-called constitution convention was to establish a central government not a government to defend peoples’ natural rights. Hamilton’s job for his bankster masters was to establish as big a federal government as he could get at the time knowing that once establish it would grow itself. Which it obviously has.

                  Good to see others understanding this instead of the twaddle they were taught in skool.

          • As the then CEO of Diebold….and I forget his name, said in a public statement to the press “I and the employees are committed to bringing the vote to George Bush this election”. Shit Ronnie, it don’t get any clearer than that and so it came to be. Florida? Who needs Florida? We’ll give him Florida come hook or crook or both.

            Come on Brian….the Heritage Foundation? I don’t think it’s possible for them to add 2 plus 2 and come up with 4. They coulda, shoulda named it The Duplicitous Muthafucka Foundation.

            Read our lips….we dare you to. Spin the record backward and hear the devil.

  6. That’s it, I’m moving to Cuba and getting me one of those ubiquitous cherry 57 Chevys. Where you can drive around with a Rum & Coke in one hand and a Spleef in the other. Funny, they always told me that we were the ones who were free.
    On the other hand this tech is probably necessary for Gen Z crowd of whom over 50% suffer from CCD (constant check disorder). No kidding! some can’t even sleep anymore because they are obsessed with checking their phones. Parents are giving 6 month old babies IPads to pacify them.
    We’re Friggin Doomed!

    • An a/c tech came out to check my outside unit this spring and had the boss’s son with him, a fat boy about 20. I only saw him not looking at his phone briefly a few times. Even picking up some trash he was looking at his phone.

      I saw one business owner who addressed his problem by putting a sign on the door that said “No Cell Phone Use In Shop” where his employees worked. They had more than they could do so using a phone was a no-brainer. The guys back there did have a phone but I didn’t see one being used.

      • Me and some friends head way up into the mountains a couple times a year for as long as we can spare the time. But typically 7 days. No communication short of satellite phone or ham radio. It’s amazing how you start to feel relaxed after a couple days. And even more interesting is the feeling of depression that hits when you get back to civilization.

        We call it doing a Brain Shit.

          • When I was your age it was a given that people took time off from the daily grind to maintain their sanity. Now it’s like if you do take off someone hungrier than you will step right into your shoes. With the typical attention span being 9 seconds now if you were to walk away for a week a lot of folks would forget your name. I ran a website for a couple years in 2000 to 03. Luckily someone who wanted in without doing the work bought me out. I spent a lot of sleepless nights pounding the keyboard.

          • I know what you mean, QueeQueg. My dad, my brothers, and myself take 10-12 day canoeing/camping/fishing trips up in the Canadian wilderness every other year or so. There’s absolutely nothing up there except woods and water, and it’s great. Partaking in such a “media fast” lets you see just how much our media and technology exposure impacts us in our everyday life, and it isn’t for the better. You really see how most of the B.S. we are bombarded with doesn’t really even matter. I know that intuitively, it’s just interesting to actually be in a place where you couldn’t be exposed to it, even if you wanted to. Coming back to the real world is always a kick in the ‘nads in that respect.

            • kingfisher, can I go next time? I’ll pay my way. Texas has some really remote places but you’ll get jacked up by some oil company dick or state police….and that’s assuming you can find anywhere without cell service. Towers go up at a rate you wouldn’t believe.

              A couple years ago we worked with no phone service. Gee, what a relief.

              Here’s a good one fer yee. Back 2-4 years ago the DPS and state poleece and the like wouldn’t even come out to where we worked. It was glorious not having to kowtow to DOT bastards. Once the towers were in place though……..they were replete. Coward sonsabitches.

  7. Excuse my ignorance here but I thought the “E” used to stand for “emergency” brake; as in it was to be used not just for parking put as a backup – emergency – hand brake should the brakes go out. (Which I had happen to me.)

    The new “E”lectric brake does not sound like it would work out in such an emergency. Sounds like it is a typical government mandated “solution” that creates a new problem.

    • Hi Steve,

      Me also.

      Particularly because these same “law is the law” people usually at least dislike Nazis. And yet, what did the Nazis bleat at Nuremburg? They were only following orders . . . that is to say – the law is the law!

      Irony lost on them, of course.

    • It is stunning how the vast majority of people think that “The Law” is something sacred and that it is the ultimate authority. It is not. Justice is the thing that is sacred and is therefore the goal. The Law is only a means to bring about Justice. It is not the goal itself. Therefore any law that does not support the goal of Justice is a “non-Law” and as such is invalid. This is the essence of trial by jury and jury nullification. That is why the government and lawyers are terrified of jury nullification.

      • The Law is a mechanism for imposing Order, not Justice, on society.

        If Justice were the goal, there’d be no speed limits, income taxes, gun regulations, zoning laws or most of the rest of the cornucopia of official dictates.

        • CM, agree. That is why The Law must be fought at every turn and jury nullification is one of the best weapons for that fight.

          ‘Course jury nullification requires a jury of intelligent and moral people so the down side is that such people are quickly becoming fewer and fewer.

      • Put succintly, there are a few laws, everybody has to obey these. Variants of these are: Thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not rape, thou shalt not steal, etc. Breaking these cannot be tolerated and have civilization.

        Note how the powers that be adulterate these laws into thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not fuck, thou shalt not steal without majority support…

        The rest of it is just rules, which are useful for people who know nothing and cannot reason. The rules pretending to be laws are, as Tommy Jefferson put it, “The tyrants whim”.

    • ALL Laws only do 2 things….period
      1 – tell you what you HAVE to do
      2 – tell you what you can NOT do.

      Both are Authoritarian tip-toes & any personal freedom.. just saying 🙂

      • Scarecrow, agreed. Overall the only Just “you cannot do” laws are those that address mala en se acts that violate others e.g. murder, rape, theft, assault, etc.

        And the only Just “you have to do” laws are one, you have to respect the rights of others the same as you want your rights to be respected and two, you have to leave others alone so long as they are not harming anyone else.

        All else is busy body asshole bullshit.

  8. My Volt at least is designed and engineered to do start stop properly in charge sustaining mode. That and the electrical power recovered through regenerative braking make it a good city car. The rest of the little brothers are just pure annoyance headed toward evil.

    • Your Volt doesn’t have oil pressure rapidly headed for zero during it’s start / stop cycles either.

      I would speculate that stop / start engines won’t last the 200,000 miles that engines used to get with good maintenance. Maybe they won’t be chugging oil before the warranty is up. Maybe.

      I can see a great opportunity in after market ( must be labeled off-road-only) engine computer field. They would be difficult to detect.

  9. One thing that doesn’t seem to be completely automated is the self-parking routines. My Cherokee is able to control both the gas and brake pedals when using the enhanced cruise control, panic brakes when some idiot cuts me off (which actually increases the danger especially if someone is tailgating me). But the few times I’ve messed around with automatic parking it 1) takes forever, 2) requires me to push the pedals, and 3) take 3 times longer to park the vehicle than if I just do it myself.

    Point 2 is that even though the thing is capable of doing the whole thing, it won’t happen because that would take away the liability if there’s an accident. The lawyers would just say that it couldn’t be Fiat’s fault because I had to push the gas and brakes. I still think the dead man’s switch or “alerter” system that will require the so-called driver to press a button at random times or the vehicle will just stop. If there’s an accident the first thing the lawyers will do is pull the logs and see how long it took to hit the alerter.

  10. When one has a choice regarding a company whose products don’t cut it, the most effective means are not to buy. If, as is the case with new vehicles, one has no choice regarding the features, then one must forego new, opting instead for used. Yeah, there’s a cost to having principles. In the case of buying used, that cost is being unhip i.e. falling behind the Jones’ but that is more than made up by materially lower financial costs. That’s a trade I’ll make almost every time.

        • Hi Kelly,

          Unfortunately, they all are doing this – or are going to. It begins – typically – with the higher-end cars, which now tout gadgets and tech as much as they once touted features and amenities which lesser cars lacked, such a climate control AC and a really top-drawer audio rig, but which are now common in ordinary cars. Then it filters down the line. So, as a for-instance, a decade ago almost no cars had “adaptive” cruise control; today, most cars have that. Same for the rest of it. It is going to get worse. The only way out that I know of is to keep what you’ve got or buy something older that hasn’t got these nuisances!

  11. I just came from a street auto show. Beautiful old cars with distinctive interiors, straight-forward no-nonsense trucks that you could have at one time tromped inside with muddy boots, machines that were understandable and did our bidding. I could weep.

  12. Then the signal was made for the freemen to anchor
    All in the Downs that night for to lie
    Then it’s stand by your stoppers, see clear your shank-painters,
    Haul all your clew garnets, let tacks and sheets fly

    Now let every man toss off a full bumper
    And let every man drink off a full glass
    And we’ll drink and be merry and drown melancholy
    Singing, here’s a good health to each true-hearted lass

    • richb, I’ve seen it that way for a long time now. The 2000 and newer pickups, esp. the diesels will be easy to pick off since so many have had the egr, DEF delete done to them to simply keep them running. They’ll mandate tailpipe and OEM original everything on the driveline so it’ll be old stuff before emissions or those easily made to comply to their emissions standards. Then the emission standards will be applied to everything regardless of model and we’re effectively back to horse and buggy. Ah, nothing like running out in the middle of the night to address the pack of dogs or the cougar that’s trying to have horse doovers(our high school pronunciation for hors d’oeuvres due to an English teacher who slaughtered the English language). Pitching hay and trying to stay stocked up on grain. Getting bucked off and crippled or killed. Or just having one step on your foot, or shaking their head and knocking you out or biting you badly enough the infection kills you. Gee, I can’t wait.

  13. My new car (2017 SS) has one of those e-brakes and it absolutely ruins what is otherwise a good experience. What makes it worse is it is so bloody pedestrian in nature; you can’t disengage it unless your foot is on the brake — I have a manual transmission! I ain’t going anywhere if I take my foot off the brake and I’m not on a slope and my foot is on the clutch. What’s worse it really want’s you assertively pressing the brake before it will disengage the e-brake. I mean WTF! This was supposed to be a ‘drivers sedan’ (I mean it’s got the 415HP and RWD, to go with the speed manual). End result, I really don’t use the parking brake anymore.

    At least it doesn’t have the engine auto-start/stop feature (perhaps I was spared this since it’s the manual transmission, don’t know if the automatics were spared this nonsense). And the MIL (Mother In Law) lights can be disabled, and do not need to be disabled again when you stop and then restart your car. Unfortunately when enabled they really are like the MIL is riding shotgun with you, but, worse imagine it’s Clover MIL. Drive with any assertiveness and your radio cuts, out, you get a bunch of beeps and a bunch of red octagon shaped lights illuminate your dashboard. First time that happened it actually nearly caused the ‘so-called-accident’ that claim that these prevent. This happened because there were 2 clovers pole positioning each other from the red light. After literally 90 seconds of them creeping to just below PSL, driving side by side neither daring to go faster than the other, one finally gives me the light of day and I can finally pass this clover cluster… but… it would require a bit of aggressiveness (‘God forbid’). So, I hit the gas, obviously I’m approaching the clover in front of me fairly quickly and the bloody red octagons and sirens go off! Freaked me out and damn near caused me to screw up the maneuver. These are supposed to be ‘safety’ features? At any rate, moment I got home, checked the manual and found out how to turns this system off completely. Not looking forward to the next car I buy, as I can bet you that in the near future you will NOT be able to turns this nonsense off.

    • Time to buy a roll of two inch guerilla tape and “fix” the stuppid TeeVee screen that constantly assaults you.

      THen find the speaker connexion from that infernal critter to the speaker through which it tortures you.
      My old 77 Benz diesel sedan is getting better and better all the time….. it hath NONE of this insanity. If it ever caught any of it I think I’d shoot it to put it AND me our of our misery.

      WHAT are they thinking?

    • You think a beep and lights are bad – Had a funny experience last year in the US – rented a GMC Yukon XL with the full spec (forget what its called). As I was pulling up to the exit gate where the guy at the counter checks your papers, suddenly some shit vibrates under your ass ! I jumped up, foot almost came off the brake and car shot forward, stopped it with an inch to spare. Asked they guy at the counter WTF that was – he told me its a “safety” feature which goes off whenever you get close to something!!! Whatever happened to a beep or some shit!! GMC really took it one step further…… was actually quite funny, whoever I let drive it, didnt tell them about the little surprise awaiting when when getting close to something……

      • Not acceptable to old guys like me who drop, or rightly, throw their phone when it vibrates unexpectedly. I’ve sat on rattlers, stood on em and kneeled down right against one. It’s just too much of that unconscious thought.

  14. Anyone know how the car companies are doing at selling this kind of shit in other countries? Especially one’s with inept or too-small, poorly funded governments?

    • The markets that are “under” regulated are getting pretty rare. Most of them are too poor a market to create new cars for anymore, but at least they can still get what is left of the older vehicles. It’s too bad some of the older cars can’t be continued to be made for those countries, but moving the lines there must be too expensive to move.

      The main big markets all have heavy regulation (US, EURO, China, India,AUS). So there is no cheap car development anymore. China is now on the electric car bandwagon, matching euro phase out mandates. It will only make it easier for the US to follow that now too.

      So even if somehow the US would bail on the regulations, I doubt it would stop it now. The other countries are even less likely to ditch regulations, and the automakers are frankly too invested in it now to stop.

  15. The reason the Electronic Hand Brake is being eliminated is for cost reasons – it is also lighter. This is the reason VAG uses it on the MQB chassis. Few, if any, real drivers like it but those people not complaining are overwhelming. One of the main reasons I purchased a new Audi S1 rather than a TT was because the S1 had a real handbrake. Some people have told me I need to adapt to the times but they have not tried to drive car with an electric hand brake onto vehicle ramps. They also rely upon the Hill-Hold feature on an upward incline and ride the clutch to release the brake when driving off. In addition, they think there is no option other than to stop a car and sit there with their feet on the brake pedals.

      • eric, I stopped for fuel at an Alon convenience store yesterday. Wind was howling but I kept hearing this loudspeaker like it was far off and the wind is blowing the words away. I step over the pumps and it’s GS tv. Goddamn tv was what I said. Luckily, most of my time was spent where I couldn’t see or barely hear it cleaning the windshield. Mark one place off my list.

  16. For the most part, you can just blame the lawyers and the stupid old lady that dropped hot coffee on her otherwise dried-up old crotch.

    You want to pop the door and peek out at the curb? Well, if you fall out somehow, some lawyer has already got the paperwork ready for you to sign, claiming that the automaker somehow failed to protect you in your carelessness and stupidity.

    • Hi John,

      Yes, I agree with you. The Safety Cult became a mainstream religion beginning in the ’80s… that’s when “moms” came to dominate almost every debate, too.

        • I went for years or decades not seeing those things. But I guess the millenials have discovered them so lately I’ve seen at least two and maybe another couple. I waited at the store recently to see who was driving an ancient beater with one but no one arrived. If the baby was on board I’d say it was ready for some bbq sauce or maybe just a turn and a light oiling.

          I want to ask if it’s an advertisement for pedophiles or simply child thieves that there’s an easy mark on board or a warning about the driving being distracted. Legitimate questions either way.

          Last year on the interstate a girl pulled over right in front of me as I was going around a slower truck…..only she was barely faster than that truck so it wasn’t a matter of just backing off since semi’s aren’t known for coasting abilities but I had to brake. I was close and once past I never saw a baby, except for the driver and her driving method……or did I? Safety first for those people. The baby could have been stashed in the spare tire well, small crossover thing. Who am I to second guess though. It might have been a preemy stashed in the glove compartment. no place to fly off to in a frontal collision. I carried a great nephew a couple times in the extra cab. I could have rigged up a team of horses quicker. No wonder people have one of those godawful carriers in every vehicle. And don’t think they’re cheap either. Seems like that one was a couple hundred dollars.

          I gotta tell this one. A couple years ago I was speaking with the cashier at Lowe’s where I’d bought a lawnmower with tires, muchly preferring the hooved type. She asked what I did noting my hands were “work hands” like her father had. I said I was a trucker and she said her dad had been too. She said he’d died of injuries received in a truck/truck wreck like I’d just been in. I got a ticket for not wearing my seat belt but I walked away. Her dad was strapped in and big rigs have the seat belts on the seats so if a seat lets go you’re strapped into it and that’s what happened to her dad. He didn’t die right away languishing in terrible pain before the end. She goes on to tell me “they” said her dad probably wouldn’t have lived, an easy 20/20 hindsight bullshit for safety suckers, if he hadn’t been strapped in. She took this as truth even though she had to watch her dad die over a few months I’m sure he enjoyed immensely.

          I’ve seen this before. I guy all strapped up in his seat stuck in a goat and barb wire fence. Nobody was even getting close to him with good reason since he died right there. Well, I’ll take my chances although since being ticketed for no seat belt, but it nearly cost me my life in a truck/train wreck when the seat belt wouldn’t turn loose. Those big lights on the Northern Pacific sure get big fast.

        • Instead of baby on board it’s now those stick figure “Families” with stick figure mom, dad, however many offspring, and Fido.

          What – they want a cookie for having kids and getting a dog?

        • actually those make sense… its a notice to first responders at a crash site that there might be a small child somewhere in the car. I never did figure out why it was just a sticker that was always there, baby inside or not. I have seen some window mounted signs advising of a baby present in the car, which appearead to be portable.. sort of like the wheel chair crip symbol hangers that are only displayed when someone wants to get away with using the up front crippledparking spaces.
          Such signs give a heads up for those at a crash scene to check that car to make sure if there WAS a child aboard, he can be found and removed to a safer place.

          • Tionico, but is it not simple common sense for anyone let alone trained “first responders”* to do a thorough search of a car involved in a wreck?

            Did not people do this before the invention of these Baby (of a sanctimonious I’m-so-special-because-I’m-a-mom twit) on Board signs? In the past how many kids actually died because no one checked the back seat?

            *A reasonable argument can be made that more often than not it is common people who are the first ones on the scene and not government employees.

        • I hate those bob stickers too. Wish I had a bigger vehicle with a bullbar so I could ram them and run them off the road. Who cares that you think your lil baby is so precious that the rest of the world must make way for the lil tart!

          • Hi to5,

            The “mom” thing, which became mainstream in the ’80s, is the source of much of our current woes. The neurotic obsession with saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety especially.

    • Hello Brother John, I agree with you about the stupid lawyers and petty lawsuits and such, but the McDonalds lady vilification efforts by corporate interests has unjustly forever tainted the opinions most people in our age range about what really happened in this case. Most coffee is served at around 140-150 degrees. McDonalds at the time was serving coffee at above the boiling temperature of water: 180-185 degrees. Styrofoam cups are nearly at the melting point at this temperature. Her burns required hospitalization because they were third degree, and covered 6% of her body.

  17. The reason the parking brake (both the handle and the pedal) got removed is for crash performance reasons. They were injuring people because they protruded into the cabin.

    And I expect there was also an element of “regular people don’t need to be doing handbrake-turns” nanny-ism. But if driver training weren’t such a joke in the US, people would get in to far fewer accidents.

  18. Apart from the fact that all this gadgetry will one day probably be used to control (or at least grass us out), the sad thing is it takes so much of the actual enjoyment out of driving…… Like remember when shifting a gear used to mean something moved – now most autos are just a joy stick! Engaging 4wd meant pulling a lever, metal hit metal. Now, push a button and a light comes on the dash!! And electronic handbrakes!! How will future generations ever know the joy of a handbrake turn!!!

    • anyone else remember “fixing” the handbrake on the BMC Minis? With front wheel crive and a VERY stiff antiroll bar, the rear wheels could be induced to do some interesting things in fast turns. Separate the cabling at the splitter/equaliser, then fit a double handle. Now you can apply ONLY the brake you want to use… not both. Some setups included a slightly longer lever fixed below the “fiddle brakes” so that one could apply both sides equally.

      One other early system had the push botton lock set to only lock when the button is PRESSED. That made it NOT set when the button was not pressed. Meant brakes could be very accurately applied for a second or two, then released by simply letting go the lever.

    • Or sliding around a turn on a gravel road while you wonder which way the car will go! He he!! Or the fishtailing as you come off a grass berm at 110 kph onto a bitumen road. Wheeeeeeee!!!!!! While the old dick you avoided shits in his pants as you pass his door.

  19. The car companies have proven to be our worst enemy in all of this depressing nonsense. They have never shown any character or bravery by screaming “no” at those that foist this bullshit on us.

    But then again, maybe I shouldn’t blame them: There are VW folks in jail today for doing the right thing in the diesel fiasco.

      • My comment keeps going in the trash.
        I can’t imagine the old timers of the car biz going for this crap. I bet old Henry Ford the second would have told that federal drone to go **** himself (and he would have gotten away with it). Now it’s yes master, can I have some more taxpayer dollars please?

        I think that is the main reason they can’t say no. They won’t get bailed out next time. All the American auto makers have struggled to stay in business since the Cafe and crash regs started up back in the 70’s.

        • The more likely reason is that they who will not comply, and do so eagerly and with FEELING, risk government attacks of the sort that has buried Volkswagen and put some of their good guys in jail.. for designing a fuel control system that produces less pollution than what was mandated, meets their pre0set standards, but doesn’t do it THEIR way……. Carrots and sticks are great motivators.

    • The last real fight was airbags. When the government was willing to make a regulatory sacrifice of children and small adults they folded. Since then the automakers seem to go at solo trying for whatever regulation that will give them an advantage.

      • I can’t imagine the old timers of the car biz going for this crap. I bet old Henry Ford the second would have told that federal drone to go **** himself (and he would have gotten away with it). Now it’s yes master, can I have some more taxpayer dollars please?

        I think that is the main reason they can’t say no. They won’t get bailed out next time. All the American auto makers have struggled to stay in business since the Cafe and crash regs started up back in the 70’s.

        • The crash standards of the 1970s were not that big of a deal. The automakers were improving crash protection for decades and things really didn’t swing far off the private standard curve until late 1990s other than airbags.

          CAFE was designed to kill the domestic automakers, eliminate their bread and butter. Even the emissions regs which really should have been started in 1903* or so did as well because of the timing. Right after most of the big three had developed a new generation of engines.

          *pollution limits would have come about through property rights with the proper court decisions. Regulations/limits would have been necessary in some form. But had they started early, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. Of course they need to stop at some point too and now we’re beyond that.

          • In Bob Lutz’s Car Guys Vs Bean Counters he mentioned that the CAFE regs required the domestic automakers to revamp everything to comply, while the foreign automakers needed to do nothing, since all they made were small econoboxes anyway. Why would fedgov want to hurt domestic automakers specifically?

            Contrast this with today, where the domestic automakers are in bed with fedgov, pre-emptively push the safety and autonomous bullshit, working together with fedgov to eliminate personal transportation, and the foreign automakers get punished for providing what people want. GM kills people and nothing happens, VW lies about emissions and well… Just curious as to the reasoning on why and where the switch happened?

        • richb, have a bit of patience. Your three posts are a minute apart. Sometimgs the system gets crowded, sometimes the mods want to take a qukck look at a post. Its nothing personal…… or sinister.

    • You have to pick and choose your battles. The airbag cult won in 1990 when the passive restraint rule implemented. Automakers relied on biased polling and customer focus groups to determine whether battles were worth fighting. That’s what an insider told me. I contend that with a little outreach public opinion would be more solidified against what the government (and industry) is doing right now.


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