Gimmicks and Their Downsides

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The problem with new cars is they’re too good for their own good. Well, too good for the car companies trying to sell new cars.

Rust has become almost a non-problem. Reliability is a given.

The internal combustion engine has been refined to near perfection; the huge gains made in the past – from flatheads to overhead valves, from carburetors to fuel injection – are no longer being made.

Hard-starting/stalling, hesitation and surge – these are things which haven’t been “features” in new cars for at least 25 years.

All new cars are largely maintenance-free for the first several years of driving. Most will run for 12-15 years before anything major requires repair. This has been true since at least the early 2000s – almost 20 years ago.

It’s been hard to buy a new car without standard air conditioning since Bill Clinton was president.

It is not possible today.

Power accessories which were regarded as luxuries once upon a time –  e.g., cruise control, intermittent windshield wipers, climate control AC and electric seats – are commonplace and generally standard equipment in most new cars and have been for at least the past five years.

Power windows and locks are givens.

Every new car has a pretty good stereo system – included. Most offer a very good one.

No great strides in functionality, reliability or even luxury are happening anymore – as was routine and expected when a buyer went new car shopping for most of the past 100 years. What’s the difference – in meaningful terms – between a 2015 and 2020 car?

Not much – other than the price, of course.

Which probably explains why it’s getting harder to sell the newest ones.

So how to sell them?


Electrify everything – including things that probably shouldn’t be.

Two examples come to mind – because they’re becoming hard to avoid in the newest new cars: keyless/pushbutton ignition and electric parking brakes. They offer a marginal increase in convenience, perhaps – if you find it a great chore to insert a key in a switch and turn it.

Or to pull up a lever to set the parking brake.

The marginal convenience these gimmicks provide comes at great cost – in terms of money as well as other things.

A keyless/pushbutton ignition system means electronic key fobs – which transmit a signal to the ignition to start the engine when the driver (who may not be the owner; more below) pushes the button. The fobs are expensive. Some of the latest – the ones that have LCD displays built in – cost several hundred dollars each to replace when they go kaput or you lose them . . . vs. $10 to cut a key.

Which will never go kaput. Even if you run it through the washing machine because you left it in your pants pocket.

Fobs can also be hacked – just like an electric garage door opener. If someone figures out the code, they can start your car without a key. And get in it, too – including the trunk – since the keyless system also unlocks the doors (and trunk, where you left your laptop).

This is not possible with a physically keyed system – unless someone physically breaks into the car and physically hot wires the ignition. This sort of thing is more obvious – and more difficult. A guy jimmying a car door or busting open a steering column to get at the wires is much more suspicious than a guy who just opens the door – or trunk – just as you, the rightful owner would . . . and gets “his” stuff.

Or gets in – and drives away.

There’s an additional issue. An additional danger.

With keyless/pushbutton ignition it is possible to leave the engine unintentionally running. You thought you pushed the button – and maybe you did. But the engine remained on. Or it came back on after awhile – because your car has Automatic Stop/Start (ASS) as well as keyless/pushbutton ignition.

Whenever the car stops moving, ASS makes sure the engine isn’t running – to “save gas” (a rant for another time).

But this sets up a potentially dangerous – even lethal – scenario:

The car has stopped moving – so the engine automatically stops running. But you are parking. Since the engine’s off, you don’t push the button to turn it off. Or you thought you had. But the ignition is still hot – and the engine will come back on after you’ve left the car.

It’s easy enough to do – when you don’t have to turn a key to shut off the engine.

If you’re parking the car, you will do this  – turn the key (and thus the engine off) automatically, as a matter of rote.

Because no one parks a car and leaves it there with the key in the ignition.

This makes keyed ignition a failsafe – against theft and death. Unless the driver is wanting that, he won’t leave the key in the ignition – and the engine on – when he parks the car on the street or in his garage and leaves it there.

With keyless/pushbutton, he might. Some have. Several have died – from carbon monoxide poisoning.

An expensive gimmick.

Electric parking brakes are another. Replace a simple pull-up lever and a cable that applies mechanical pressure to the brakes with not-so-simple sensors and wires and actuators.

It adds cost – and takes away control.

You can’t apply the electric parking brake manually – and gradually. It is either on – or off. When on, it applies the brakes full force, just as would happen if you yanked a mechanical parking brake lever all the way up, full force. But with a mechanical pull-up lever, you can pull it up just enough to slow the car in a controlled manner – without locking up the wheels and causing the car to go into a skid –  if the main brakes ever fail.

And the mechanical pull-up brake will always work – even if the car’s electrical system has failed. The electrically activated parking brake won’t.

But all you have to do now is push a button!

Well, that – and agree to buy the new car.

. . .

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  1. GPS has nothing in common with Loran, which was totally terrestrial with a handful of 700′ towers scattered around. GPS has two dozen satellites that move fast enough to require consideration of relativity. Loran wasn’t repeatable over very small distances. GPS is repeatable within one centimeter with a terrestrial base station. Loran was incapable of being used in surveying. A Loran antenna was bigger than a tractor-trailer.

    • I had a Garmin Loran unit on my bass boat. I know it’s limitations. Loran disappeared when GPS came about. I could trace my path back across a body of water….if I was hitting enough towers. GPS for “civilian” use is now accurate to 6″. Nevertheless, GPS is generally more accurate than most radar units. If you have GPS on your vehicle cam you can go back and Prove you weren’t going the speed you’re accused of by idiot cops. The Loran receiving antenna was a very small unit for a boat.

  2. Treason is defined in the Constitution at Article 3, Section 3, as consisting “only in levying War against (the United States), or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
    All members of the American military take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; (and to) bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
    When the military is committed to foreign actions without a declaration of war by Congress, as required by Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 11 of the Constitution, that is a violation of the Constitution, arguably the action of domestic enemies.
    When a member of the military participates in an unconstitutional foreign military deployment, s/he violates both the Constitution and his/her oath to “support and defend” it, giving “aid and comfort” to it’s “domestic enemies,” committing treason by the definition given by the Constitution.

  3. Came across this today –

    “…Security experts performed the tests using the same type of technology that’s commonly used by thieves. They measured the amount of time it took to get into the vehicle and drive it away. The BBC notes that car theft rates in places like England and Wales have reached eight year highs and that more than 106,000 vehicles were stolen in 2018 alone….”

  4. Came close to buying a Honda HRV crossover for Wifey. The electric e-brake is why I decided against it. Now she has a lovely Subaru XV with a proper hand-brake and has learned how to do J turns 🙂

  5. A question about the ASS System (an appropriate acronym as you have to be one to want it).

    You pull into your garage and the car shuts off. You get out without shutting it off and in a few minutes it starts itself.

    Question, if you don’t put the trans in park will it not start moving as it is still in “drive”? Most cars with auto trans will move at idle speed if the brake is not applied. What am I missing?

  6. One has to wonder why smartphones haven’t become more integrated into new cars instead of fobs.
    Using ones smartphone to enter and start a car seems to be a no-brainer with the majority of people buying new cars having a smartphone long before. Bluetooth should make this easy since it simultaneously limits the range that remote control operates over to little more than the visual range between driver and vehicle. Using a smartphone instead of fob would multiply the number of possible codes infinitesimally over the few hundred used in the fobs. Authentic locksmiths can buy fob code scanners that will open most fob-openable cars in minutes.
    I’d especially like to see a car that can test all of its lights while starting its engine, as it continues to be the case that one can be notified instantaneously of a drop in tire pressure in any of the five tires, but one still has to find someone or a large window to observe whether the brake lights work. Living in a tourist trap town gives one a clear indication of what percentage of drivers never check their brake lights, while being able to see an increase in the number of cars that have a brake light burned out, if not two or all three. This would not take more than the addition of a ammeter into the main power cable from the battery and the appropriate software to check for a change in the current draw identical to the flash rate of the light or its activation by pedal push.

    • Vonu, just pushing on the brake pedal at night, esp in a dark garage will tell you which brake lights are out. And the complex lights out detecting systems are not working properly, or people don’t know what the icon means and just ignore it.

      • I don’t have a garage and seldom drive at night. There is nothing complex about detecting the current drawn by the electric devices on a car and noting when it is usually low, especially when the brake pedal is depressed.
        Large store windows have always worked well for those of us who understand mirrors.

      • I used to keep the truck I was driving in front of the house. When I’d crank it up in the morning I’d do my walkaround with the lights on. Once satisfied the tires were (still ok, since I bumped tires when I got in, a 30 second chore)and checked lights)ok, I’d turn on my lights, flip to bright, turn on signals, hit the brakes and be able to tell from the cab if something didn’t work. I’d check the tractor backup light when I came in by turning off the engine, turning the switch key back on and putting it in reverse and walk back and check it.

        Back up lights are a boon for collecting money since they seem to be shortlived back where they reside. And they are so useful too. Nothing like catching reverse and being able to see the underside of the trailer…..if you were back there to see it. But it’s a moneymaker for govt.

    • “One has to wonder why smartphones haven’t become more integrated into new cars instead of fobs.”

      Not everyone has a smartphone. Should having one be a requirement for purchase of a new car? (I recently took an elderly neighbor to pick up a new car she was leasing. It took several attempts at explanation to convince the sales bot that no, she did not have a cell phone to pair with the car.)

      • Making products that require one to have a smartphone in order to get full benefit from the product, or to use at all, is becoming more and more commonplace.

        There are already power tools which require one to use a phone for “battery management” -so now they will know exactly when, where and how you use your tools!

        They have exercise equipment and things like heart-rate monitors for cyclists and such, that work in conjunction with a phone. So now they can even monitor your vital signs and your exercise patterns!

        The world is quickly becoming a very limited place for those of us who opt out of the phone nonsense and value our privacy.

        I would hazzard a guess that these phones, in conjunction with digital currency are the beginning of the implementation of the “Mark Of The Beast”.-Perhaps in conjunction with something which may soon appear, which will be implanted in one’s body, for “security” so that one’s phone only worksw in conjunction with it.

        Funny- I just today got some spam in the snail-mail from my insurance company, urging me to “download an app” that works in conjunction with a bluetooth beacon, which they would send, which “allows one to get a discount on their insurance rate- just be sure and take your phone on every trip!”(What phone?)

        Can you imagine though? People are actually buying into this crap! It’s to the point where if you have a smartphone, gov’t and corps know your every move, action, word, and thought! And the average person just doesn’t care…..they even willingly PAY for it!

          • Damn, Jason! That pic says a lot. Then those bastards came home and practicing the crap on us. “Heroes” ya know….

            Heck, at least the hippies had the sense and freedom to spit on the sons-of-bitches.

            • History is littered with the tortured screams and corpses of innocent people who thought they had “nothing to hide” from their governments.

              • Government is the collectivized expression of unbridled human nature- thus it legitimizes and institutionalizes greed, coercion, violence, robbery, idolatry- and it is the object of worship and obedience by those who feel no need to overcome those traits.

                This is why governments always end up persecuting practitioners of Biblical Christianity*- whose adherents reject the animalistic pulls of that human nature, and who will not worship and obey the false god, because we worship Another.

                9*=Not to be confused with the ubiquitous modern-day Churchianity, with it’s US flag waving over it’s “altar” (Do they offer sacrifices?) and who venerate the mercenary warriors of the false god; and who promote obedience that god. Most even have a signed contract labeled “501c3” which proclaims Caesar as the head of their church.]

                • Now truck drivers have to buy a flip phone and get another number simply because the big companies hack their cellphones if they have the number and track them and get every bit of info on the phone.

                    • Well, John, they are expensive and outdated. Trucks had those damnable things up till they figured out they could just use the cellphone the trucker had.

                      Before trucks had them though, law enforcement had them. Back in the day, late eighties and ninties, they had GPS in the form of Loran. Truckers used detectors for them which some of the more adventurous LEO’s would turn off. Of course they didn’t stop carloads of huge black guys(witness this one day with my Passport about to jump off the dash and a car load of huge black guys, probably professional athletes passed me doing at least 30 over). The DPS emitting the radar didn’t blink or slow down, hit his brakes or anything else. I laughed my butt off knowing had it been me I would have been stopped and given the 3rd degree.

                      LEO’s, another gutless bunch of cowards that are very discriminating when they could get hurt. It’s the reason, like coyotes and hyenas, they travel in packs.

                    • No, trucks still have trackers. Every truck at work has one, every truck in Ryders fleet has one, I’d be stunned of Penske didn’t have them. I recall GPS-enabled electronic loggers are now required on OTR trucks.

                      The shuttle buses and livery cars I drove 15 years ago had GPS trackers.

                    • Well no John, they don’t have them now. Oh, there might be a few but it’s been a while since I saw one on a truck.

                      I had friends who leased their trucks and would have to spend $1200 dollars getting them on their trucks. Not now, they just use a cellphone or it’s incorporated into the cam they have on one if you allow that. It’s not a “mandatory’ thing any longer. It became too hard to get independents to spring for the cost.

                      Of course, what do I know, I’m just out there nearly every day and my friends with their trucks leased haven’t had them in a few years. But I’m sure you’re correct.

                  • ROTFL!! 🙂

                    Coming from an obvious imbecile such as yourself I take that as a compliment. I can’t speack for Nunz, but I’m sure he would agree!

                    • Note that the execution was-entirely-justified under the Geneva Conventions.

                      The photo you posted shows a man who had just cut the throats of a sleeping South Vietnamese Lt Col Nguyen Tuan, his wife, their six children and the Col. Tuan’s 80-year-old mother. You are defending a child-killer. Good job. The list of people I wish ALS on is damn short, but you’re on it.

                    • Sez you, jackass.

                      In any event it was merely a generic illustration of what governments frequently do to people who believe they have “nothing to hide”. Sorry that you are too stupid to comprehend that.

                    • Gotta love it, Jason, eh? They go halfway across the world to interfere in other people’s messes; pick a side(As long as it’s the side that Uncle tells them to pick) and justify all that they do, as long as it’s for “their side’.

                      And never have a pang of conscience, ’cause they can always invent/believe in some fairy tale to justify their dastardly inhuman deeds. Oh, no wait…we’re the sub-humans! Darn!

                      Then they come back here and do the same damn thing! “Yeah we laughed when we blew him away, because he was a drug dealer; we’re protecting THE CHILDREN, don’t ya know!

                      I’m hocking a vicarious loogie right now!

                    • The FACTS behind the photo are actually quite well known…though I do understand you prefer to wallow in ignorance as you defend the indefensible.

                      I hope you get terminal cancer. Something agonizing, but that you don’t die from for at least a few years.

                    • You’re the moronic twit here John, as evidenced by your increasingly ridiculous comments. Thanks for the comic relief, I’m laughing my ass off at you.

                    • “Gotta love it, Jason, eh?”

                      You’ve got that right, Nunz. Due to U.S. Gunvermin involvement in a conflict we had no business being involved in, how many people that were no threat to us died and were butchered? Let alone our own people, many of whom were essentially kidnapped off the street and forced into it?

                      This was mass murder by any reasonable definition of the term. Where was the punishment of those responsible? I don’t recall them getting so much as a slap on the wrist.

                      Since they were “the government” the perps of course received no punishment at all despite the misery and deaths they caused – and this guy has a cow over a photo used as a generic illustration. The mind boggles.

                    • I bite my tongue when Vietnam vets expect to be thanked for their service, and ignorant state-worshipers oblige. The U.S. military lost in Vietnam. It was humiliated. It had to turn tail and run. Do these fools not remember that? And the dominoes did not fall. Decades later, it was the Berlin Wall that came down, not the Statue of Liberty. The result of what the warmongers now call isolationism is that today Vietnam is a much better place, and its people produce things that Americans buy every day.

                    • Hi Roland,

                      The Vietnamese civil war – and American involvement in that war – occurred before my time (I was much too young to be drafted) but I agree with the gist of Muhammad Ali’s comment: No Cong ever called me nigger. In other words, he didn’t feel an obligation or duty to pick up a gun and shoot at people who hadn’t done anything to him.


                      I’m not defending the North Vietnamese communists – obviously, I hope. But that isn’t the same thing as opposing the government of this country dragooning American men and forcing them to go to Vietnam to shoot at Vietnamese communists, or drop bombs on them.

                      Especially since most of those “communists” were just ordinary Vietnamese people caught up in a whirlwind they had nothing to do with sowing.

                    • Johnnie boy, your nonsense reminds me very much of the following:

                      “A tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”

                      It’s like old Bill was thinking of you when he wrote that. He must have been prescient.

                      Your wishes of death and destruction against those you have a disagreement with tell us your character, and your total lack of the understanding of context identify you as a low-grade moron. Your apparent love of killing in the name of the State is disgusting in the extreme to any rational person.

                      If you participated in the Vietnam war you participated in mass murder, making the guy being executed in that photo look like a choir boy in comparison (assuming the Official Narrative behind it is even true).

                    • You really need to work on that projection, Jason. You’ll feel better if you stop defending the indefensible.

                      I agree with you, Eric-the US should never have been involved in Vietnam (except for one simple warning: screw with the Embassy in Saigon and you get nuked).

                    • Oh, Johnnie, you are so mercifully free of the capacity for critical thought. Much ado about nothing, indeed.

                    • John in NH: “The photo you posted shows a man who had just cut the throats of….”

                      And you know this how? Oh…because your government- which is comprised of tyrants, thieves, murderers and pedophiles told you so…just as they told you that some third-world student pilots hijacked some jets on 9-11; and that Saddam had WMDs, and that Syria is gassing children…. LOL.

                      Homer Simpson wasn’t too far off when said that it takes two to lie- one to lie; and the other to listen.

                      Those who keep believing the lies are willing participants. Those who not only believe the lies, but who use them to justify evil, are as evil as those who promote the lies.

                    • Roland, who wins a war is who ends up with the plunder.

                      In ancient times that meant who controlled the territory at the end of the war. However over time that shifted to who made the most money.

                      The winners of the war in Vietnam were the corporations that made bombs, weapons, aircraft, and so on. The losers were everyone else.

                      The war in Vietnam was fought to achieve corporate metrics.

                      It’s like judging today’s economy. Are the metrics good? Then the economy is good. Never mind what actually is going on.

                    • True, Anon,

                      But how are “we” any better- picking a side in someone else’s civil war (Imagine if the Vietnamese had come here in 1862 or so, and decided to favor The North- and then justified the killing of Southerners “Because they killed a Union general” or something…)

                      And not to even mention all of the napalm we dropped on people- including innocents, women and children….and the homes and communities we destroyed; the people whose lives we ruined, maimed and killed…and all for what?

                      It would be like someone coming here to snuff the pigs (a good deed, undoubtedly)….but in the process, killing many of us; destroying our homes and towns and livelihoods; killing our relatives, etc. And then saying “Yeah, but we were there for a good reason; and did thus and such…so boo-hoo”.

                      It reminds me of someone I once heard, saying how the Afghanies or…whomever they happened to be fighting….were “all pedophiles” because they ‘d commonly marry “underage girls”.

                      That same logic would have justified them killing Almanzo Wilder (Husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House On The Prairie fame) because he courted Laura when he was 25 and she 15- as was common then, and even well into the 20th century.

                      What it comes down to, is that “we” have no business meddling in the affairs of others who have done us no harm; and when we do….we only cause evil. Picking out one example which may have been a case of justice being served (MAYBE- we’ll never know) doesn’t justify everything else, obviously.

                    • Well said, BrentP. It baffles me that anyone would be proud to be associated with the U.S. military. I suppose in Korea the grade would be “incomplete.” It lost in Vietnam. Since then, it has done the equivalent of beating up girls. Oooh, you’re so tough! Aside from Desert Storm, it has never really won, since nobody can say what winning is supposed to look like. But the biggest embarrassment was on 9/11, when after spending trillions on supposed defense, it couldn’t prevent a handful of guys armed only with utility knives from killing 3,000 innocent people on American soil. Pathetic.

                    • Roland – what’s worse is that apparently, our loss in Vietnam was deliberate. We had the north on the ropes, and then pulled out because the people who really run things didn’t actually want to stop communism. Of course, from a certain point of view, that should have perhaps been easy to see coming, since we were apparently propping up the USSR at the time as well.

                    • Hi Jason,

                      John wishes a painful, lingering death on those who do not share his outrage at spitting on soldiers but advocates the nuclear annihilation of those unlucky enough to be near others who have the temerity to interfere with a structure of US hegemony.


                  • John,

                    I’m confused, or perhaps sub human, because I don’t know what specific passage from Nunzio caused such opprobrium. Care to let me know?


                    • Jeremy, all of John’s blathering about “defending the indefensible” is utter and complete bilge. There is nothing that Nunzio or I have done here that rises to the level of “indefensible”.

                      In point of fact the “indefensible” one here is John himself. He has referred to others as “subhumans” and wished a long, painful, lingering death to those does not know but has an online disagreement with. This puts him firmly in the camp of the lowest of human strata and is what set the tone for this entire exchange – John’s own indefensible positions.

                      A reasonable, rational person might have stated for example in my own case, “I understand what you’re getting at, but that picture may not be the best to illustrate the point for the following reasons… Here’s a better one…” But instead he enters the starting gate with “subhumans”, making mountains out of molehills, and it all goes downhill from there.

                      To borrow a term from my yid friends, John is a schmuck.

                    • Meh, I dunno, Jason; I’d say that John is more of a putz.

                      (Gotta love Yiddish!)

                      Hey, ya know, while we’re on this topic: I went to the dentist today, and he had a copy of American Rifleman [Thank goodness for small rural towns!] which I was reading. Holy glockenspiel! The magazine was half filled with veneration of the mercenaries!!! So much for a good read. The BS never stops!

                    • Nunz, you may have a point re putz vs. schmuck! 🙂

                      That “American Rifleman” sounds like a real disappointment. My favorite gun book though is one that really gives “progressives” the shivers!

                      I don’t know if you recall the “How & Why” series of children’s books circa 1960s. There was one devoted to guns, instructing kids on the history of firearms, emphasized gun safety, and recommending that young gun enthusiasts join gun clubs to further their knowledge and skills! Makes the gun grabbers go apoplectic!


                  • John,

                    Ah, I see. Is there any attitude toward soldiers other than reverence that one may proclaim without becoming sub human? Does it matter what soldiers actually do? Does it matter which State these soldiers kill and die for?

                    The contempt directed toward soldiers that you despise perhaps caused a brief respite in the machinations of the permanent war State. Today, absent the draft, young people are cynically exploited by false claims of noble duty, sacrifice and advancing freedom. The lack of war support by average people is neutered by the despicable “support our troops” narrative, created by people who care not one whit for the soldiers, serves their ends, not ours.

                    Blind reverence for soldiers perpetuates war, gets more soldiers killed, piles up civilian corpses, decimates our freedom, makes the world more dangerous and rewards the power elite.

                    Please watch this powerful scene from “The Americanization of Emily”.



                    • Treason is defined in the Constitution at Article 3, Section 3, as consisting “only in levying War against (the United States), or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
                      All members of the American military take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; (and to) bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
                      When the military is committed to foreign actions without a declaration of war by Congress, as required by Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 11 of the Constitution, that is a violation of the Constitution, arguably the action of domestic enemies.
                      When a member of the military participates in an unconstitutional foreign military deployment, s/he violates both the Constitution and his/her oath to “support and defend” it, giving “aid and comfort” to it’s “domestic enemies,” committing treason by the definition given by the Constitution.

                    • Hi Jeremy!

                      I have enormous sympathy for any kid dragooned into the military (i.e., drafted) who is literally made a slave and also something worse because he’s forced to kill rather than merely work. I cannot imagine many things more awful than this.

                      I have less sympathy for people who freely choose to become what amounts to paid killers for the government – i.e., mercenaries.

                      Some don’t understand this, of course. And some join the military because it is a way out of terrible circumstances. This doesn’t change the awfulness of the thing itself.

                      A citizen (and volunteer) militia for the defense of kith and kin strikes me as morally defensible because it’s an elaboration of the principle of individual self-defense.

                    • Thrre is a yawning chasm between “reverence” and being spit on, and anyone honest would admit it.

                    • Well-said, Eric!

                      A militia can be good, if comprised of good people.

                      An army can never be good, because all just follow orders and do the will of others- and if by chance any good person should join, he will either refuse to carry out those orders, or become an evil order-follower.

                      All who follow orders are evil. That is how we end up with tyrants who are able to inflict their will on the masses, because order-followers abound- and thus the Hitlers and Maos and Stalins of this world thrive, because others are always willing to kill in their name- but none kill the bastards giving the orders.

                      and the sad thing is, there are no lack of volunteers for the military who join simply because they think it would be “cool” to drive tanks and shoot people- while not suffering any legal repurcussions; and in-fact, even being venerated as “heroes” for doing so.

                      I’ve had people admit that to my face. The words of a fellow teen have haunted me for decades- he said “I want to shove a bayonet up some Jap’s ass” (This was in the early 80’s, no less. Yes…such people are true morons.

                      He did end up joing the Navy.

                      Such is not uncommon. Then they come home and become evil sadistic cops.

                      And speaking of cops, it’s funny: We can not implement justice in our own land- our courts and law-enforcement system being nothing but an oppressive monstrosity which often punishes and kills the innocent- and ultimately does more harm than the collective criminal world that it is supposedly protecting us from- and yet some think that by taking morons from amongst the rabble; teaching them to hate the “enemy” on command; and going to foreign lands to meddle in conflicts we do not understand amongst cultures which are foreign to us, that that somehow is helpful to someone?

                      Yeah, it’s helpful alright…to the tyrants who control this world; and who have so warped the minds of billions that they think that serving these tyrants and killing and oppressing in their name is somehow “fighting for freedom”.

                    • And why shouldn’t there be a yawning chasm, John? Just as tyhere is between someone who you merely aren’t too crazy about because he tells corny jokes, vs. someone whom you wish would get hit by a Mack truck because he rapes 3 year-olds.

                    • Hi Eric,

                      I have sympathy for many soldiers, drafted or not; both are slaves. It is easy to understand that those drafted are slaves, and difficult to see that the same is true of those who enlist. An enlistment job contract is unique in that it is the only legally recognized job contract that makes it a crime to quit. Sure, one may, if contractually stipulated, be subject to civil penalties for quitting a “normal” job but one can’t be legally thrown in prison, or killed, for doing so. In short, an enlistment contract is a slave contract (I wonder if Walter Block approves).

                      Those who enlist are lied to and manipulated, either directly by a recruiter, or indirectly by the cultural narrative seemingly endorsed by John. War is not noble, soldiers do not fight for our freedoms, nor protect us. Soldiers fight to advance the interests of horrible people. What they do should not be honored or respected. But, many soldiers are victims and deserve sympathy.

                      Consent is an important issue for libertarians, it is the basis for any valid contract. Without it, no contract is legitimate. But, consent is a thorny issue; only voluntary, informed consent is valid, coerced consent, through physical threat or fraud, is not. I suggest that many young people, mostly men, do not give valid consent when they enlist.

                      Kind Regards,

                    • John,

                      I asked you if there was any attitude toward soldiers other than reverence that does not render one sub human, your response does not answer that question. The reverence you seem to endorse does not help soldiers, it just makes many more of them. Soldiers do not deserve respect as soldiers, though many deserve sympathy as victims.


                    • “it is the only legally recognized job contract that makes it a crime to quit”

                      It is the nature of government. Government only knows one thing, violence.

                      The penalties for quitting a military are also very old, older than the USA. So ancient it cuts through the mask that government wears today.

        • When I bought my go pro it used app that wasn’t problematic. Well it updated itself and now won’t work unless I have location services on. But then I have location services on but cellular data off so then still problems.

          They all want to spy on people. So I will vote with my money.

          • Brent, I keep my “location” off. When I go to weatherunderground, it always wants to know if I’d like to turn on location. I never do but I have no doubt it’s on, at least to the degree of triangulation if not outright GPS. I think when the S5 dies I’ll probably buy another $25 flip phone. I may see how a package VPN that serves my phone too works.

            I researched the VPN companies. The #1 rated only had their track record and abilities plus guarantees on its site.

            The #2 rated came on like an asshole and said “We have you now” trying to impress me with their capabilities. The only problem was they were hundreds of miles off on my location. I crossed them off the list. If they can’t even know your location when they try, how good will their VPN service be? Even my service provider thinks I’m in Austin Texas. Good enough.

  7. The more I read about the “new and improved” crap on newer vehicles, with all the saaaaafety stuff include, it makes me hope all-the-more, that my standard transmission, 2007 vehicle never dies. Or, that I can always find replacement parts, or rebuilt parts for it. Drove a Toyota Forerunner when my car was getting fixed. It was the usual, key-less, push-button starter (weird), automatic transmission (where’s the clutch pedal?? Ha ha). But also, it had a light on the driver’s side mirror. It started flashing one time, and I was thinking to myself, “what the hell”? Turns out, it was a saaaaaftey feature: To let me know someone was driving up next to me in my blind spot. Our roads suck up here. There is a reason why we are like participants in a game of “Frogger”: We are all dogging the ruts and pot holes. I am sure a newer vehicle would “not allow” that. Sigh.

  8. It used to be that you could use the manual parking brake as an emergency stopping method. Not so sure about an all electric brake. I’m glad my 2017 car still uses a key. It’s the first vehicle I have ever had that has power windows and power seats. I hate the window wiper stick. Some of the other features are ok, but I admit to having to look in the manual to see how something operates. Whatever happened to simplicity and driver responsibility? If I can get 12-15 years of service from a 4 banger and no rust showing and no major repairs, I will be happy. I can’t imagine what kind of ditzy abomination they will have on the new car lots in 12-15 years…by then I’ll be over 80 (if I make it that long) and it might not matter since I won’t even be able to afford a two seater at $75k.

  9. My ’83 VW Jetta had the best system I’ve ever seen to keep you from locking the keys in the car. When the driver’s door was open, it was not possible to push the lock button down. To lock the door you had to insert the key from the outside and turn. Clever mechanical solutions are so much cooler than complex electronic crap.

    • Honda had a similar action. But if you pulled the inner door handle while pushing down the door lock it would lock without the key, and without being outside the vehicle. The problem? After a while, it was an unconscious action, while I would just do these steps together without even thinking about it, and led to at least twice where I locked the keys inside. There, providing Murphy’s Law is alive and well!

      • You seem to have Murphy confused with Peter, where technology would promote the driver to his/her highest level of incompetence.

  10. “Because no one parks a car and leaves it there with the key in the ignition.”
    Well, I suppose one could. But if you have your house key on the same ring, as most of us old-fashioned key users do, it is impossible to get into the locked house if you left the car running in the garage.
    I’m sure some clever inventor will come up with an electronic safety interlock ($3,500 plus tax and installation) that will sense when you walk through the door into the house and automatically shut off the car. It will run on Microsoft Windows and require a connection to the internet, so what could go wrong? Then Congress will mandate it out of compassion for the elderly, children, puppies and kitties. Problem solved!

    • I consider myself lucky enough to live in a place where many people leave their keys in the ignition with the windows open, although I usually lock the door, even if the window is down, if I’m going to be out of sight.

    • I carry two complete (mostly) sets of keys…. So if I start one of the trucks and remember I left something in the house or shed that I need…..

      I can leave my vehicle running and lock the doors if I’m just getting out to run in somewhere quick (Much less wear on the engine; and keeps the interior cool in A/C weather)

      Or if I’m using the tractor and have to move the truck….

      Been carrying two sets for decades. I like low-tech solutions!

      • In the ’70s I had a Rabbit diesel, and I left a single key in the ignition all the time so I could leave it idling. I carried another one for the door on a ring with my other keys. Not real smart, I guess, since if somebody had broken in, no further work would have been necessary to drive it away.

      • I started doing something similar when I went longhaul in 1990. I got a copy made of the ignition key to the Freightliner I was assigned to and attached it to my right belt loop with a spring clip and a length of decorative chain so that I could leave the original key in the ignition so I could leave the engine running to support the A/C. I always made sure to transfer it to new pants, so I wouldn’t lock myself out. I called it my idiot key.
        These days I carry a separate set in each front pocket and leave the key in the ignition because the plastic on the key is identically colored to that on the steering column, making it virtually impossible to see in the ignition lock.

        • I honestly can’t remember how I did it when I was running Freightliners, but I know I left the Cat running most of the time. I assume I had an extra key that I kept in my pocket. Man, getting old sucks!

  11. Over the years everything seems to be getting smaller except car keys. Back in the day the key was just a small thin strip of metal. Now it’s some gob of plastic. Not a problem for the ladies I guess; they just throw their wad of keys in their handbag or purse (in my my wife’s case, her “duffel bag”).

    But for us guys it’s a huge uncomfortable bulge in our pocket. Own two cars and maybe a pickup and then sitting down causes the keys in your pocket can to be painful sometimes.

    If everything else has been miniaturized over the years, why not vehicle keys? How about an optional key without the buttons on it? Maybe just a small disk or thin strip of metal with a chip and small battery inside?

    • Mug,

      “Own two cars and maybe a pickup and then sitting down causes the keys in your pocket can to be painful sometimes.”

      They (and they know who they are) say that carrying a firearm is supposed to be comforting as opposed to comfortable.

      With that in mind, if you can afford the vig on two or three vehicles, sans the monthly nut, you shouldn’t mind.

      If you’re able to cover the vig AND the monthly nut, you might consider hiring a driver. Let him deal with the pain.

  12. Eric:

    Back in the day, car keys worked well. Gone are the day when you could cut 5 or 10 new keys and place them in strategic locations (the home of a parent or grandparents, the office, bottom of a wallet, inside a shoe, etc.). The new electronic keys have a code embedded in an electronic chip. I was told that the chip includes the VIN. Sequential or serial numbers follow the VIN. There is insufficient room on the chip for extra sequential numbers after 9. Also, the new electronic keys are unreasonably expensive to copy.

    I purchased a new MBZ, 240D in 1983. After about 20 years the key wore out and I had to play with it to turn on the ignition. The remedy was simple. Keep one of the new keys in a safe place and never use it. When the keys start to fail, copy the pristine key and you are good for another 20 years.

    The fob presents another problem. When the battery fails, you need to be near an electronics store.

    My 2017 Ram 2500, assembled to my order, has a manual transmission. The old pull-up lever allowed the driver to gradually release the break as the clutch is released. The new pedal operated parking break does not allow the driver to use this technique.

    • Hi Tony,

      Yup. I do the same with my old Trans-Am. I have a set of brand-new GM keys for it; but the originals still work perfectly, almost 50 years after they were cut…

      Excellent point in re using the pull-up brake to avoid rolling backward in a manual-equipped vehicle. They’ve taken that away from us, too…

      • Eric, my father taught me this technique, as we lived in a very hilly area. This prevents accidental drift back into a driver who decides to get too close, especially when stopped on steep hills. Maybe insurance companies can put the kibosh on electronic brakes, at least for manual transmission vehicles?

    • Sir,

      When the battery fails, do as I do, keep spares in the glove compartment.- I have a VW. It tells me when the battery is low.

    • The chip contains one of a few hundred codes because one based on the VIN would take nothing more than reading the VIN off the top of the dashboard, in addition to costing hundreds of dollars rather than just one to replace.

    • Tony, I learned as a teenager to use the foot parking brake and hold the release at the same time. You can modulate one pretty well doing that. The ones you pull at the bottom of the dash work well too. Just keep it turned so the ratchet doesn’t engage. I doubt my wife could do it on her best day. It’s equivalent to being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Not everyone can even keep an even keel simply walking. It ain’t getting better.

      I don’t know how the young, bearded fatties can get anything done on the job except to speak into a two way hand held and tell you(finally)you can go on when I’ve been there seeing the entire construction zone from my semi and there’s not an oncoming vehicle in sight. God, that really pisses me off. Thanks boys, I really appreciate you stopping me having seen me coming for a mile and could have asked long before I got there if there were traffic coming.

      I got so pissed on RR 33 one day I pulled over into the barditch and blasted by the flagman and did a u-turn and headed back a quarter mile to a road that would take me around the entire mess of construction. The guy looked confused. Confusion probably wasn’t the look he was seeing on my face. Barely had I performed this maneuver than everybody in line started turning around and following me. Hey, this truck driver must know something we don’t. Yep, it was Triangle Rd. according to the sign. I used Triangle road until it became part of the construction. I’d already been run over once from behind in that bullshit. I didn’t need another ambulance ride thanks.

  13. Yet another irritating “feature” of the Electric Parking Brake” is that it cannot be applied without battery power. Even worse, for the sake of “saaaafty” most cannot be disengaged if the ignition system and braking system are inoperative. So for the poor bastard that has to perform repairs in either of those circumstances, tough shit. We won’t even go into the shit that happens if you lose electrical power while driving. I’m sure that’d never happened in the history of automobiles, right?

    • Maybe they should have used electric spring brakes like the pneumatic ones on commercial trucks. Caging them, as necessary, would be easy, for towing.

      • Ford (and to a lesser extent, Freightliner) DID use an electric/spring system 20-25 years ago. It was made by Lucas-Girling…spring brakes used a switch (looked like an air brake release diamond) to release, using hydraulic pressure from the power steering pump. (Don’t look at me, I didn’t design it.)

        Complicated and cranky, it was probably a good idea, but impractical.

      • Vonu, that would be too simple and it would add a few pounds. No telling what the weight of those brakes would cause in fuel useage over their lifetime. Maybe 5 gallons of fuel over 20 years and we just can’t have that. But the military of this country uses as much fuel as the rest of the country……practicing.

        Every time I’m down I 20 I see the countless huge planes doing touch and go’s at Dyess AFB. You can see the unburnt fuel boiling out behind them. No catalytic converter there.

        • Most airliners drop fuel just before landing to reduce the potential threat in a crash, which are more common in landings. You can prove this to yourself by sitting under the approach to any airport, or by asking any airline pilot that you trust. My PM source is a retired airline and general aviation pilot and I started using him when he was a lowly FedEx contractor, in 1987. He is one of the few airline pilots who went to the trouble to become a DHS/FAA air marshal.

          • Hey Vonu, Do you know if airlines still dump their holding tanks during flights? I suspect they do over the ocean, but I know they used to do it over land as well.

    • GTC I lost electrical power once while driving. Manually I steered the car – a 1992 Holden Commodore V6 – to the side of the road and stopped in front of the only auto repair facility on the road for kilometers. They came out and put out the small fire under the bonnet for me.

  14. This is probably not really the forum to ask about this but there’s another problem – with the electronic parking brake, how are you supposed to use it to induce a slide?

  15. So does the electric parking brake run your battery down after sitting for a while, and then release the parking brake ???

      • That makes no sense at all. I can engage the transmission park pawl by putting the lever in “Park” so why would an electric parking brake even exist ????

        If you park on too steep of a hill, sometimes an AT won’t come out of Park because of the pressure on it. That’s when you need a separate parking brake to engage first.

        A manual parking brake uses a lever/pedal to pull a cable to engage the rear drum brakes.

  16. I just came back from a long vacation and was reunited with my favorite Chrysler 300 V8 RWD. Made me smile after driving all the crap new stuff with all the stuff Eric mentioned above.
    The 300/Charger/Challenger in V8 trim still has a normal E-brake, no ASS, etc… but it does have the key fob.
    I really hope FCA keeps these cars going longer than ’20-21 !!!

  17. I believe you’re wrong about Electric Handbrakes being more expensive. All the electronics for the brake is already there in the form of ABS, Traction Control, Etc. A simple wiring modification and a button are much cheaper than a handle, cable, rods, etc. Electric Handbrakes weigh less also. This is the reason Konigsegg gave for changing its cars to an Electric Handbrake.
    I had an Audi A3 with an Electric Handbrake and hated it. Nearly impossible to drive onto front wheel ramps and I never quite got the nack of starting on a hill when the Hill Holder feature activated. I either stalled the engine or had to ride the clutch. Since I learned to drive, while sitting at a red light, I use the parking brake rather than hold the car with the brake pedal. I never did this with the A3 for fear of the Electric Handbrake not releasing. I’ll always remember the Opel trying to back out of a parking space at the gym with an Electric Handbrake which would not release. Also, replacing the rear pads on a vehicle with this type of brake is much more complex.
    Two years ago, when I was going to replace my other car, the determining factor when deciding whether to buy an Audi TT or an S1 was the Electric Handbrake. I really like the look of the TT but since the S1 had a real handbrake, I went with it.

    • Doug – I’ve taken apart my LR4’s brakes and there’s a separate parking brake mechanism, i.e. parking brake drum shoes to grab the inside of the rotor on top of the normal caliper brake pads, separate actuator, etc… Anything to operate the parking brake is in addition to all the other electronic crap.

    • What Michael says! The parking brake on modern cars does not use the service (hydraulic) brakes to do it’s thing. ABS can not apply your brakes; it can only allow them to slip a little while your foot is on the peddle applying them. E-brakes are a completely separate system (not hydraulic).

      • I’m only familiar with VAG products (Audi, VW, Skoda, Seat) and they use an actuator which mechanically forces the pads onto the rear discs. The Electronic Handbrake is the result of VW going with the MQB platform. It was touted for its weight savings and lower cost – cost most likely being the main consideration.

      • I just lost a door key recently and have no idea(cats)where it might be. It’s not the end of the world though, I have a spare and a brand new one with that big end cut off in my wallet. Now I feel like to have to carry my wallet.

        Spending nearly all day operating a truck, loader, grader, etc., I can’t tolerate a wallet and those who do often end up with back problems. Since I had L5/L4 surgery in 76 I think it behooves me to avoid sitting on a rock.

        Just bought a 98 3/4T 4WD, ext cab long bed pickup. It’s a POS but once the heat breaks, whenever that might be(December?), it’s going to be a body/bed replacement for Blackie, the ultimate pickup.

        Why is Blackie the ultimate pickup? By GM’s own body/frame specialists, it has the best frame made up till they started boxing them. I intend to box it also when the body and bed are off. The 98 has a PMD for the fuel and Blackie has a mechanical pump with a Heath manual boost control. It’s slow… me, a perfect fit. But it gets 18 mpg and got that nearly 30 years before the new ones even claim such.

        It’s gonna be a big job but I think almost everything on the inside will fit from the 93(great condition)into the 98. I have a plethora of keys for it and the 98 has one key for door and ignition. I get around having one stolen with an underhood disconnect. Get in and nothing works. Thieves don’t have THAT much time. They’ll just figure it’s dead and blow it off.

        Everything about it is superior to the 98 including controls and every handle is chromed steel on the 93 while every handle is plastic bs on the 98. I lucked out thanks to my cousin who found it. It’s black also so removing the dents and repainting, I won’t have a chip showing white or red or blue nor any other color except dark gray primer.

        I’ve decided to remove the entire interior on the 98 and replace with the 93, better seats, more room, better console, better everything in fact. I will have to change wiring harnesses but I’m fairly much an old hand with that. I had to do it starting with my 68 9500 GMC and that was like trying to bend 1500 MCM. The turn signals didn’t work on the 93 so I can do such as I have done before, do away with the wiring in the column and put individual switches on the dash. Turn on both for 4way emergency. I might put a big truck turn signal switch although I don’t see any advantage except I’m accustomed to manually having to turn off the turn signal with a stalk anyway. If you had self-cancelling turn signals on a big rig you’d be fighting it all the time.

        Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting it changed and intend to do some extra mods such as rear bags added to the already one ton springs. I’ll replace everything in the front end that is soon to be worn out and besides, some of the rubber parts on the steering are much better with other materials. I may bag the cab too.

        I have operated a lot of equipment where the operator sat in an isolated control pod that was air sprung. That’s a lot of whipping and banging that the operator doesn’t have to endure. I wish we had such on our old equipment at work. And new equipment is so sound isolated you can talk on your phone with no problem. I use a Blue Tiger Camo Elite headset and in some trucks, that’s about all that would work. You need something that encloses your ear to keep out the ambient noise and the ability to transmit no sound but your voice. The Blue Tiger excels in this category. In really loud equipment it takes a while to learn to not scream since there’s so much noise in your non-protected ear(DOT won’t allow dual headphones…..a very stupid thing since they think((idiots))having noise blocked won’t allow you to hear car horns and such). You can’t hear car horns anyway. Just the sound of the turbo alone accomplishes that. About the only thing I can hear in a big rig is a KC 135 passing really close to me and even then, you mainly just feel the vibration and the harmonic distortion noises between it and your truck.

        True Story. Bringing a really bad POS KW with windows that wouldn’t go up all the way and a piece of rubber mat where the shifter boot should have been that stayed hovering in the air at 60 mph. I wanted to listen to the radio but the noise(hard quartering wind)made it impossible. I was tired as hell and had already cleaned up from a 12 hour day when word came to do this chore. I got so fed up I stuck those foam ear plugs in to cut down on the noise and suddenly I could hear the radio just fine, just not all that other noise so bad. Live and learn.

        Someone I read said you can’t modulate an emergency foot brake. I’ve been doing it for 55 years at least. Yep, you have to hold the release so you can modulate the brake but I never found it hard to do. Some say you need your left foot to shift gears……hmmm, I don’t. It’s called gear speed/ engine speed matching and every trucker out there with a manual never touches the clutch except to stop and start.

        Over the decades I’ve become to prefer a non-synchro transmission in a pickup. It’s a shame you can’t buy one with that version of your transmission of choice. It would be great if they’d make a small, light truck sizedFuller/ Eaton 18 speed. The last 8 gears are separated by 17% so you can always find the best engine rpm/load pulling gear.

  18. Eric,

    Small note: all keys in recent years have chips in them, and they need to be programmed. When my mom died and I inherited her old car, it wouldn’t start. It turns out one of the fobs was bad; one of the keys had to be replaced also. That cost $700 altogether, because I had to have the car TOWED! Second, I had to replace one of the keys on my first Ford Focus, a 2003. The key alone cost $125, and that was years ago.

    Can you get a key ground to emulate yours? Yes, but all it’ll do is get you in the door. It won’t start the car, because the car won’t see the chipped key and it won’t start.

    Other than that, yeah, I’m with you. I prefer manual parking brakes and keyed ignitions. Why? For the reasons you state. I especially know for sure that the car is OFF…

    • MM, note for next time: You can get most keys duplicated and programmed for all except really new cars, at Walmart for $60.

      Also, on most cars, if you already have a working key, you can use the car to program another key that has been cut already. Ditto key fobs- you can buy ’em on Ebay and program ’em via the car.

      • I didn’t know that. It only happened to me twice: once with my Focus, and once with my inherited Nissan. I’ve seen key fobs @ Batteries Plus…

      • Also, with the Nissan, we didn’t know that the key and fob were bad; we only knew that the damn thing wouldn’t start, so I called my old mechanic and had him take care of it. It was only when I got the car back that we knew the problem.

  19. Another thing about these stupid key fobs. I like being able to take the keys out of my pocket and sticking them in an ignition switch. Off I go. With keyless ignitions and pushbutton start, you have to constantly think about where the transmitter is, maybe take it out of your pocket and put it somwhere. Not everyone likes having full pockets while in a car. The stupid thing can drop on the floor, get caught in between the seats or somewhere else. With a key, with the car running, you know where it is. You don’t always kow where the transmitters might be if they are not in your pocket. It’s a big giant pain in the ass. Carmakers should be rightfully sued for the mishap that occur because of these devices. Part of the deal should be to make a regular ignition key available for every car. I don’t particularly care if it operates wirelessly or not. I just want the damned key out of my pocket an in the dash. t

    • When I drive to the river, I usually take my old truck – I can spend all day in the water and not worry about damaging the keys in my pocket.

    • When I used to take my dog everywhere, I used to leave the vehicle running in the hot weather, with the A/C on for her- and lock the doors- using my second key (I ALWAYS carry two keys, regardless) to get back in. Can’t do that with this keyless crap!

      • I used to do the same thing with my cat when we’d go visit my mom-back when both of ’em were alive. I could stop somewhere, leave the car running with the A/C on, and lock it up with the 2nd key I carry too… 🙂

        Oh, BTW, Teslas have ‘Dog Mode’! You can leave your Tesla with the A/C on. Better yet, it’ll say this on the large touchscreen in case someone see the dog in the car while you’re gone; it’ll tell passersby that the car’s A/C is on and show the temp inside. It’s pretty cool… 🙂

      • Hey Nunz, I used to do the same thing with my dog when I was driving a truck cross country, and would just naturally do it when we were in my car as well. I had a few people cuss me out because they thought the dog was locked up inside a hot car. The thing I don’t understand is how Tesla can have a feature that allows animals to remain in a vehicle with the AC on when it’s against the law to do so without commercial plates.

  20. My LR4 has that stupid electric parking brake. I haven’t used it in years because the actuator stop releasing once set; nearly left me stuck a couple of times until the manual release cable (finally) released the parking brake. I’ve never had a manual parking brake fail that way; worst case with those is the cable snaps and they don’t work, replace with a stainless steel cable then done. Parts alone to fix the LR4 brake actuator are $1000+ for new; for that I could probably replace every brake component on my ’03 VW.


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