Why the Drive Matters . . .

21
1934
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Cars are just the vehicle for the drive – the being able to go where you like, whenever you like and how you like.

It is something much more than merely transportation. A bus or a train gets you there, too. But it follows the route or the track; you sit – and ride. Neither is your steed, under your control. It is impersonal, homogenous and collective – like the sidewalk.

Is it any wonder few of us feel anything for a bus or a train?

It is the drive that accounts for the affection people have for their cars. No wait, no schedule. Just go, anytime you like wherever you like with as many stops as you like – or not – in between. Roll the window down – or turn the AC up. Listen to your music. Even in traffic, you had options. Pull off here; take that road, over there. Or maybe just pull over for a pit stop and some coffee. It’s all up to you. No wonder people love their cars – and the drive.

Or at least, used to.

The drive is less today because much of it has been taken out of the hands of the driver. Who is transitioning into a passenger who happens to occupy the left seat.

This process is not accidental and it has a purpose, which is to end the drive in favor of the ride. Very much for the same reasons that there is an effort under way to get rid of cash money in favor of electronic money. Cash enables you to buy what you want without anyone else knowing you bought it. Cash is harder to control. Digital money is very easy to control and everything it is used for is known the moment it is used.

Cash is a physical manifestation of the abstraction of human liberty – and personal mobility is another expression of the same, in the form of the drive.

In your own car. 

Ergo, the drive must be controlled in order to wilt attachment to the car. Which will result in people giving it up in favor of the ride, under government control.

This has been a work-in-progress for at least a generation but it’s speeded up considerably over the past decade or so as “advanced driver assistance” and “autonomous” not-you-driving technology has been developed, made practical and embedded in practically ever new car.

Manual transmissions are almost gone. Cars literally park themselves.

Electric cars will drive themselves. Elon Musk specifically touts this capability, which is as much a draw as the “ludicrous speed” he also touts but which is illegal to use. Not just the 150 MPH on top, either. Do a 3 second to 60 run in front of a cop and see what he does.

There is much more driving to be done in a Lotus 7 or its modern analog, a Mazda Miata.

Those who’ve driven either or similar know what that means.

As driving recedes in the rearview, it is natural that affection for cars fades. When the drive is just a trip it is no longer an event in itself but rather a means to some other end. We get there more reliably, “safer” and even more quickly.

But something’s been lost along the way.

Or – more precisely – something is in the process of being taken.

.  . .

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Seems to me we are fast approaching a time when ‘another’ car will cause an accident with you. As I drive my new ram around it does things that take control out of my hands. I think that’s the key ‘takes control out of your hands’ whether it be your car or others. just yesterday i was backing up in my own parking lot with 2 others in the truck and it slams on the brakes. uncomfortable. it ‘saw’ a obstruction that I knew was there but dismissed it. luckily for now I can turn this sensor off.
    Our brains are still so much better than any software, assuming we use our brains. I guess that’s the rub.
    it’s coming, if it hasn’t already that these computers cause an accident or worse.

  2. Just think of all the highway funding the Psychopaths In Charge will get their grubby paws on if they can get us to quit driving. No doubt delivered to the Military Industrial Complex, or the Medical Industrial Complex. Which is why both of them are among a very few that have been riding ever increasing profits for decades, if not generations, regardless the over all condition of the economy.

  3. ‘There is much more driving to be done in a Lotus 7 or its modern analog, a Mazda Miata.”
    Without doubt. I’ve been driving one of the latter as a daily driver for about 20 years. You don’t gawk around at things that aren’t on the road, or you’re likely to be not on the road either, since the steering is VERY responsive. Too bad they aren’t very compatible with people over 6’ tall, which I’m not. Although mine is an ’06, and perhaps they are more tall compatible than mine since then.
    They don’t just allow you to drive, they require you to drive. I don’t love inanimate objects, but I do love to drive them.

  4. And now………trucks that back trailers up themselves.

    I mean WTF?

    If you can’t back up a trailer, go to the local school parking lot & practice.

  5. The people who want you out of the driver’s seat don’t drive. They’re driven. Oh sure, ol’ Uncle Joe has his Corvette, and once a year he can take it out for a press event, but otherwise, it’s all back seat for him.

    A high school friend of mine was a morning DJ at the end of the George H W Bush presidency. He made up a sketch where Bush called into the station to catch up. The gag was that George got his 78 Buick out of the garage and promptly drove it into a ditch, because he hadn’t driven himself since 1980 and had forgotten how.

    If you’re one of those sorts, having a driver (and pilot) are the goal. They don’t understand why anyone would be against self-driving vehicles, other than what will happen to the poor truck drivers… oh wait, they can learn to code…

  6. Back in the 80’s, as we got our licenses, our town and every other town had cruising strips. My friends and I used to go out town after school and cruise the town and we gather together later and plan trips out of town. Back then getting your license was the ticket to freedom and having your own car to drive was an adventure. I guess the move “Dazed and Confused” comes closest to summing up a lot of the experiences then. These days, not so much.

  7. When I was in High school in the 70’s we used to spend time in deserted parking lots doing burn outs and doughnuts. Also sliding all over and spinning in the snow in the winter. It’ how I learned to control a vehicle. Ok, so we also turfed a lawn or two of that unnamed a-hole teacher.

  8. The technocrats/safety freaks have wanted humans out of the driver’s seat for nearly a century. Look up Norman Bel Geddes.

  9. There is always a fast horse, or a good pair of boots. And both things have their charms- An old girlfriend and I hiked and hopped freights a long time ago and it was definitely freedom. And I have to note that hopping a freight is no longer possible due to surveillance technology, like so very many things.

    Rush had that part of their beautiful, hopeful, but dystopian vision wrong- you cannot hop the turbine freight anymore. And the Barchetta is easy prey for a helicopter gunship.

    But if the things of the past are to be our future, then humanity is giving up on the future. There is more to life than existing and safety. And modern life of, say, 1950 America, was vastly safer and better than what we have now.

  10. There probably won’t be that unscheduled, unplanned, just get in the car and go somewhere “drive” in the future. The last year has only proved that is the case.

    They want to take that “open road” from us. Even if you one of the “lucky ones” and have an “electric mobility appliance” (EMA), it won’t be able to go very far because frankly batteries won’t get better. Nobody wants to sit in a rest stop waiting for the appliance to slowly recharge. There is a reason why the elite like passenger trains over cars and even planes. Trains run on their schedule, not ours.

    It’s not just the drive, its the freedom to just go somewhere whenever and for no reason. Or just take up stakes and move somewhere better for you. Soon there won’t be anywhere to go to.

    When I was a kid (1980’s), many people dreamed of moving to California to make it big. That sure isn’t the case anymore. Even in the 1980’s the California dream had big cracks forming. Today people think of Texas and Florida as the place to go too. But those places have the same cracks forming too.

  11. “advanced driver assistance”

    Or as I like to call it, driver retardation systems.

    The one that really pisses me off is adaptive cruise.

    Forty cars all lined up behind a semi. No one even knows how to pass anymore.

    Even on the gravel or unmarked country roads people just love to get on your ass. The super bright headlights just add to it.

    This time of the year I really enjoy watching the farmers working in the fields. Last evening I had the cruise set for 65 on a stretch that was eight miles between stop signs in the middle of the open fields.

    Half a mile in someone gets right on my ass. Plenty of room to pass, no oncoming traffic as far as the eye can see.

    Not wanting to be a dick and make the person do 80 out in the boondocks, I tap the decelerate button 10 times quickly. So now I’m doing 55, still on my ass with the lights in my rear view mirror.

    Every so often I hit the decelerate button until I’m down to 25. Still on my ass. Road is wide enough to pass a modern tractor pulling that preying mantis looking stuff.

    Finally I tap the brakes to kill the cruise and coast to a stop with my right sides off the pavement. Still right up on my ass.

    For over seven miles I slowed from 65 to zero to let this person pass. Just couldn’t do it. They had to back up to go around me.

    This isn’t common, but it does happen from time to time.

    I guess the good news is no masks were involved.

    • I use my good old fashioned ebrake for dealing with tailgaters. I generally travel 5 over to avoid armed thuggery. When someone gets on my ass i slow to the psl in passing zones to allow them to safely pass. Often they just get really close and don’t pass. This is when I drop the Ehammer on ’em. They get no brake light warning so they really panic. I repeat until they pass or back off. I’ve yet to be hit by one of these meatballs which is a shame since the driver that rear ends another car is automatically at fault in my state.

      • “ I use my good old fashioned ebrake for dealing with tailgaters.”

        I’m enough of a dick as is so I try to avoid being one.

        That doesn’t work anymore.

        I’ll give your method a try. I didn’t know the ebrake didn’t activate the lights.

    • RE: not knowing how to pass a semi on the highway. That’s because when you floor it there’s a marked delay while the transmission hunts for the right gear. Because your foot introduced a variable the programming wasn’t designed to deal with, acceleration. The programmers (who never drove stick but will attempt to tell the confuser how to shift) wrote for maximizing fuel economy and running up to 9th gear as quickly as possible. After a few times jumping into the left lane, feeling the engine lug for a second or so, then white knuckling when the lifted F150 barrels down into your rearview mirror and you’ll probably give up and accept the 70 mph Qualcomm governor on the semi in front of you. Unless you figure out how to drive the damn thing…

  12. ‘Electric cars will drive themselves.’ — EP

    Motorcycles will hold out longer from such ‘upgrades’ thanks to their additional degree of freedom on the roll axis.

    Two-wheelers can be gyroscopically stabilized, of course, like a Segway. But as with batteries, there’s a weight penalty.

    Still, the per-mile fatality rate for motorcyclists is some 25 times higher than for cagers. Rather than ‘upgrading’ two-wheelers to self-driving, the Bidenoids probably will just ban them … for our own good.

    Just like they’re about to ban the menthol cigarettes heavily favored by African-Americans. Some folks just need to be forcibly ‘upgraded,’ so they can live healthier and happier on the safety-first liberal plantation. Just don’t call it ‘patronizing,’ please.

    After all, Uncle Joe ain’t no Uncle Tom. :-0

    • Yep. Motorcycles have always been seen as an even bigger ticket to freedom than cars. I’m not a Harley guy or a 1% by any means. But for several years I had a job and I commuted 25 miles on my sport bike every day that it was above 34 degrees. Can’t even begin to tell you how satisfying it was to be out there, dressed for the elements, living real life — while surrounded by sheep-like drones in SUVs and minivans.

      I’m sure many of them thought I was crazy — but I pitied them.

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