Reader Question: The Superstar?

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

T asks: Did you ever do an article on Mel Farr? Your GM Diversity article reminded me of him.The News, Free Press and Crain’s spoke highly of him but when the “On Time Device” went to court he sort of faded away.

My reply: I’m familiar with “The Superstar” – former pro football player and car dealer Mel Farr – but haven’t written about him. I probably ought to because his “on time” device presaged what’s coming . . . for all of us.

Basically, if you missed a payment, Mel could remotely disable the car. This is the same idea – and the same tech – which can and likely will be applied to cars generally. But not for missing a payment. Instead, for driving “too far.”

Or “emitting” too much carbon dioxide.

Perhaps because you posted/Tweeted something politically incorrect.

I’ve been trying to warn people about this possibility for years. By now, it’s so obviously coming that you almost have to be in a coma not to notice the signs.

I hope it can be stopped before it’s too late… .

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

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  1. Most of the used cars sold in those buy here, pay here, lots (or cars sold to people with poor credit) have the remote turn off switch already. You won’t leave the lot with a car without one.

    But at least with those, since they aren’t built into the car, if you can find it, you could remove it. That won’t be the case when the automaker makes it “standard” equipment.

  2. Eric,

    “ I probably ought to because his “on time” device presaged what’s coming . . . for all of us.”

    I wonder what the “P” means when you get the Check Engine Light printout at Autozone.

    Penalty? Punishment? Payment? Presage???

    When will the AGWs start arresting for a bad oxygen sensor?

    Will the vehicle be subject to forfeiture?

    Will driving with a tire pressure light be prosecuted on the same level as DUI? Or perhaps like brandishing a firearm in public?

    Will low washer fluid be a civil infraction or a misdemeanor?

    What dashboard lights will be a primary offense?

    Will “I have electric power steering” be a defense to operating with the Low Power Steering Fluid light illuminated?

    Mel Farr really was a Superstar. From introducing the importance of diversity in the automotive industry to the seminal use of monitoring driver’s behavior.

    And remember the Superstar got his money 💰 ON TIME. And got it plus a 20-25% vigorish from the poor minorities in the hood.

    He did all that only wearing a cape.

    I bet a judge and an AGW can really make the “unaffordable affordable.”

    The cool thing about diversity, is when you can get the Tuskegee Airmen to administer the syphilis to the participants of the Tuskegee Experiment it is lauded as a great accomplishment.

    Mel Farr the Sonderkommando of Detroit.

    This “On Time” mobility limiter was decades ago, back when we were younger. The pro side was “great idea, I want the cops to be able find my loved one.” The con side was, “The cops will be able to stop my loved one and harm them.”

    Now the pro side is, “After giving out tickets all night, I want to be able to disable that hot chicks car.

    There exists no con side.

    Today the Meter Maids have laser guns that scan the VIN and then print the parking ticket.

    But at least we are free from having our tires chalked.

    • Hi T,

      I probably ought not to advertise this, but: I have a backpack with all the essentials on standby and ready to go. I live near thousands of acres of wilderness. I could be gone and damned hard to find in 10 minutes… like a pet turtle allowed to wander in the backyard.

      I think if I could get my teeth cleaned every six months or so, I’d have already lit out for the territories…

      • You can brush your teeth well enough to keep em healthy yourself. Your dentist just doesn’t want you to know that. your body will tell you if they’re getting rotten.

      • Eric,

        “I think if I could get my teeth cleaned every six months or so, I’d have already lit out for the territories…”

        Or at least get the battery changed in your dental tracking device.

  3. I recall when Florida had the bad hurricane a couple years ago. Frog Face, in all his glory-hole kindness, let his subject’s Tesla’s in Florida use a greater percentage of the battery. Damned white of you Elon.

    I’m guessing that woman in Miami made it an extra 30 miles in bumper to bumper traffic before being overtaken by winds and rain.

    My pickup doesn’t have North Star and I’m damned glad of it. I never had a nanny either…..and got away from my mother every time and for as long as I could when possible. When I was old enough to figure ways to get out of her sight, I took advantage of every one of them….even if it were something I wasn’t that thrilled to be doing. I guess I just wasn’t meant to be nannied…..sorta like most truckers don’t take to it very well either. Nothing I like better than to be controlled… any damned thing.

    • This shows the nature of Mr. Musk again. The battery cells are what is expensive. When a smaller capacity battery is made (without tooling up a new pack) what is done is that some of the locations in the cell holder aren’t populated. This saves a lot of money but of course reduces performance. The idea of having a fully populated pack that is software locked is not cost effective but for one maybe two options.

      And that option is to soak the customers later with an upgrade charge. A big upgrade charge. Say 50% of the vehicle buyers decide to upgrade later. Guess what? They have to pay double for TM to break even on all of the fully populated battery packs sold with software gimping for TM to break even. Of course TM doesn’t want to break even so that software upgrade has to cost even more.

      The math of course is based on percentage of people who purchase the software upgrade. If 95% eventually do then it doesn’t have to cost so much. But if only 10% do, look out.

      Another option would be to simply charge everyone for all the battery cells to start with and then charge more to those who actually wanted to use them.

      • This was common practice in the computer industry many years ago. Back when companies would lease IBM mainframes, if they needed to upgrade to the next more powerful model an IBM field service engineer would come out and set a jumper inside the CPU cabinet. This would increase the speed of the CPU and the lease payments would increase correspondingly.


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