The Four-Wheeled Pants Suit

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Americans’ love affair with the car has cooled off but not because Americans don’t love cars. Rather, it is because of what cars have become.

Once, they were like the pretty girl who smiled at you in class, back in high school. They made your pulse uptick, filled your mind with happy possibilities. You wanted one. And – once upon a time – the one often led to the other.

Or at least, helped.

Now, cars are like a sourpuss pants-suit-wearing wife who long ago stopped smiling at you – and bats away your hand when you try to hold hers. You don’t want to see – much less hear her anymore – and wish you could get away from her, but you need to stay married for the sake of the kids or so as to avoid losing your shirt.

This transition occurred because of the sourpuss, pant-suit-wearing types, not necessarily your wife – which makes it even worse.

Pants-suiters such as Joan Claybrook – the old sourpuss who headed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (italics added for the should-be-obvious reason) back in the ‘70s, when saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – as defined by some old sourpuss – somehow became a function of government, formerly concerned with ensuring that people’s rights were respected and dealing with people who caused harm to others.

Claybrook was a disciple and acolyte of another pants-suiter who happened to be male, nominally – Ralph Nader. He was the John the Baptist figure of Safetysim, the cult which first ruined cars and is now ruining everything else.

Nader anointed himself a “public citizen” and began to “represent” the “public,” despite not one member of the actual public ever having voted to give this man proxy power to “represent” them or anyone else. He and his termagant protege began to agitate for the government to impose (via regulations) “safety” standards upon new cars; which is to say, to impose them upon new car buyers – most of whom had previously expressed no interest in them, as via a willingness to pay for them. And who may have had a very different view of what “safety” constitutes.

For some, “safety” meant a car that was road-worthy, free of defects in design or manufacture that rendered it dangerous to drive  – controlled by a driver competent to sit behind the wheel.

For Nader and his heirs – including Claybrook – it meant a car that idiot-proofed against a driver who probably should be a passenger.

One example will suffice to make the point.

Nader became famous by smearing the Chevrolet Corvair, which was an unusual car for an American car of the early ‘60s. It was rear-engined, like a Porsche – which made the front end light and also made for easy steering without need of power steering. It was a very nimble-handling car, which was also very unusual for an American car of the early 1960s.

But it was important to read – and follow – the tire inflation pressure recommendations, which were not the same, front-to-rear. And that was also unusual, for an American car. The sticker was right there, but some people didn’t read it – and inflated all four tires to the same PSI. This worsened the lift-throttle (in a curve) oversteer tendency that all rear-engined cars – including the same era Porsches and VW Beetles – were prone to. Just as front-drive cars today tend to understeer when put into a curve at high speed.

But understeer is more forgiving of unskilled or careless driving. The car tends to “plow” toward the inside of the curve and backing off the accelerator will not usually upset the car alarmingly.

Oversteer is different. The rear end breaks away and the car tends to pirouette into a spin if the driver doesn’t know how to correct for this. It is less forgiving than understeer and magnified in the case of the Corvair with incorrectly inflated tires. But it is also enjoyable – for those with skill, who know to keep on the throttle in the curve. And who follow the tire inflation pressure specifications.

The problem, then, was not the car but its owner/driver. The latter often mismatched because the Corvair – unlike the Beetle – was powerful enough to get the unschooled into trouble, sooner and – unlike the Porsche – was affordable enough to be purchased by lots of people, some of whom who didn’t have much experience with rear-engined, European-style sporty cars. 

Ralph who-didn’t-drive and who dislikes cars blamed the car – describing it (though not the fundamentally similar Porsche or VW Beetle) as Unsafe at Any Speed. His fame – and influence – spread. Abetted by an if-it-bleeds-it-leads media, corporations were browbeaten and government was empowered.

Cars were festooned with ugly “5 MPH” bumpers, ruining their looks like braces mar the face of an otherwise pretty girl. Seatbelt interlocks were ordered. You had to “buckle up” before you could drive.

Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety became policy. Not roadworthiness. Not competence. Beauty – and fun – took a back seat to how fast you could drive a car into a tree and live.  Every time someone did something idiotic, everyone else got idiot-proofed. Someone reverses over a kid they didn’t “see” – because the Safety Booty of their government-mandated car is so bulbous no one can see what’s behind it anymore?

Mandate that all new cars be fitted with back-up cameras.

An idiot pushes the accelerator to the floor and “unintentionally” accelerates into the living room? Hound Audi to near ruin.

Outlaw bed-mounted, rear-facing jumpseats. Make T-Tops impossible, via “roof crush” regulations.

Idiots drive SUVs at 90 MPH on balding, under-inflated tires? Blame Ford – and Firestone. Force a redesign of all SUVs to accommodate idiots who neither understand nor respect the difference between an SUV and a sports car. Make every new car buyer pay for electronic tire pressure inflation monitors so as to not have to bother with actually confirming the tire pressure, themselves.

Claybrook became the head of the federal saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety apparat under Jimmy Carter. She was eventually succeeded by another pants-suit wearer, the harpie wife of Bob Doooooooooooooooole. She was the one most responsible for the “passive restraint” mandates that led – first – to those idiotic automatic-buckle-you-up seatbelts that many cars made in the early ‘90s came with and then to the deadly air bags all new cars now come with.

All six or more of them.

Fast forward to now and practically every new car is a kind of mobile pants-suit, jabbing you in the ribs at every turn via “driver assistance” technology that jerks the wheel when you attempt to turn off the road or change lanes without signaling first – even if there’s no other car in proximity to see you signal. Lights that flash in the dash – and brakes that come on, unbidden – when the four-wheeled-pants-suit thinks you are too close to whatever it thinks you are too close to.

The engine cuts off at every red light. If you try to back up with the door open – so you can see the curb, say – the pants-suit summarily puts the transmission into Park. Soon – within just a couple of years – the pants-suit will analyze your breath to make sure you’ve not been drinking.

And they wonder why people drink – and no longer feel much affection for what cars have become.

. . .

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  1. 04 Z71 Suburban and 08 Hyundai Elantra here. The former has a few bells and whistles I could do without, especially the sunroof, which I never use…but is an expensive repair that HAS to be done if it breaks. The latter is as close to a simple car as I could find, in new enough condition and with a manual transmission, in good condition.

    I drive many makes and models for a living, and all these new cars trying to think for me can be a bit annoying…and even dangerous (having to force the car to steer over an old line in a construction detour, for instance), and I feel a palpable sense of being back in control when the day is over and I can hop in one of my “inferior” old cars to head home. Then there are my bicycles… and I have to wonder when that industry is going to come under the same tender attention cars have gotten.

    • Same, Veloym –

      I test drive a new car each week and – with a few exceptions, like the Supra I am driving this week – they are serially annoying, with all of their relentless driver-countermanding “technology” (as this crap is styled). I bristle at being presumed an incompetent in need of “assistance,” especially given the “assistance” is itself incompetent. Hyper-cautionary braking, as if the car were being driven by a glaucomic old lady. Electronically induced steering yaw in the travel lane. Beeps and buzzers – on and on.

      Hulk smash!

  2. Someone will probably be demanding that a safety device be installed to prevent people from getting killed trying to do this. All the way down the driveway and across the street…

    Sully Police District – A 65-year-old man died early Thursday after being struck by his 2013 Toyota 4Runner in front of his home in Chantilly. Officers responded at 12:09 a.m. to the 13500 block of Tabscott Drive and found Edgar Gutierrez pinned between his SUV and a light pole. Rescue personnel freed Gutierrez from the vehicle and pronounced him deceased at the scene. Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives determined Gutierrez was working on his SUV and left it in gear when he exited the driver’s seat. The SUV began to roll, and Gutierrez tried to stop the vehicle. The vehicle rolled out of his driveway and across the street pinning Gutierrez between the door of his vehicle and a light pole.

  3. This is why I drive a 20 year old car. Wish it were twice as old, but lots of trash that is not on it. It has a back-up camera, but that is an add-on and I want it. You have to LOOK in addition, however.

    • Hi Esther,

      I love my ’02 Nissan pick-up because it has no LCD screen or “safety” or “assistance” stuff beyond ABS and two air bags, one of which has a key to turn it off. I baby this truck so that it will last as long as possible.

  4. I think,it would be a good mental exercise for everyone here to list all the cars they owned, and once, loved or, hated.

    1968 Mustang hard top 2 each
    1967 Mustang convertible, restored
    1968 Mustang fastback, restored, car shows
    1971 BMW 2800 CSA, restored, car shows
    SAAB 900 S
    Isuzu Trooper
    Ford Aerostar van
    Honda four door early 90’s
    Subaru early 80s
    Mazda Millenia
    Jaguar XK 8
    Chevy Silverado extended cab, 2004 which I still drive.

    There are others I am sure I left out.

    • Hi Mark,

      My cars (in order):

      1986 Honda Accord – Reliable car, but awfully small. Although it is amazing what two willing teenagers can do in a front seat.

      1995, 1999 Isuzu Rodeos – The 95 didn’t have AC so there was no such thing arriving anywhere with good hair in 95 degree heat. Both trucks were tanks though. I may/may not have hit a few mailboxes and parked vans in both of them. I would have bought another, but they stopped making them in 2004.

      2007 Lexus RX330 – Probably my favorite vehicle. Had a car ram in the back of it going 65 mph on a major highway when we all stopped due to an accident ahead….only damage….the bumper fell off. Their Honda Civic (that hit me) did not hold up as well.

      2014 Toyota Highlander – Solid vehicle. The automatic trunk button never works, but other than that I have no complaints. The third row backseat is only useful for small children. Anybody over 5’2″ is going to have leg cramps.

      In my 25+ years of driving I have owned five cars. Every single one of them was Japanese and they all made it to 200K+ miles before I sold them. The Highlander does not have that much on it, but it will before I sell it in another 5 years. Honestly, I will probably buy another Japanese vehicle….probably a Sequoia.

    • OK, I’ll bite
      1967 Pontiac Tempest 350 Powerglide (waay too much power for a new driver, it had to go)
      1967 Ford Anglia (yes, the Harry Potter one. Never left me stranded, though it did require roadside repair work frequently! Learned the Ways of Lord Lucas and all the foul language that attends his failures, and those of Sir Castrol of Girling too. I know what brake fluid does to school books and homework due to Sir Castrol of Girling.)
      1982 Plymouth Turismo 2.2L (first new car, loved it, rust got it after 20 years)
      1973 Yamaha RD-350 (powerband of a gnat, but WOOHOO, twist throttle and HOLD ON!)
      1984 Yamaha RZ-350 (absolute all-time favorite moto. YPVS gave a very nice powerband, legendary brakes and handling, simple, bulletproof, high performance Yammie water-cooled 2-stroke engine, same as on the Banshee)
      1988 Dodge Aries Wagon 2.2L 5 speed manual (my favorite family car, reliable, outstanding fuel economy, huge cargo volume, light, inexpensive, roomy)
      1984 Plymouth Voyager 2.6L Torqueflite (extermely slow but reliable)
      1994 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3L 41TE (reliable and long-lived)
      1967 MGB (favorite simple and direct easy to work on car, still have it. 2nd most beautiful car ever made IMHO, 1st being the Jaguar E-Type.)
      1973 VW 412 Variant (love the quirky air cooled VW ethos, but dislike the dropped valve seat…)
      2002 Dodge Intrepid 2.7L V6 (Excellent handling, braking, A/C performance, room. Piss poor rear visibility. 42LE transmission ate two solenoid packs. PISS POOR cooling system design, and water pump driven by timing chain. Ate two timing chain tensioners in 150K miles. Loved the car, loved the engine’s performance, loved the fuel economy, ABSOLUTELY HATED the engine’s reliability. Not the worst car I have driven, see below.)
      1999 VW Beetle 2.0L 5 speed (not bad, and cheap. Nice handling. 2.0L slow, and ate ignition coil sets)
      2002 Beetle TDI (very reliable, good VW handling, outstanding fuel economy, still have it)
      2009 Jetta Sportwagen 2.5L Tiptronic (favorite all around car, very reliable, excellent handling, decent room, decent performance, still have it)

      Cars the family had of note:
      1971 Ford Pinto 1.6L 4-speed. (Nice transmission, grossly underpowered Kent engine, lackluster handling and piss poor brakes. More Bondo than a NAPA store’s shelves. Lean on a fender and cave it in. WORST CAR I’ve driven long-term.)
      1999 Subaru Legacy Wagon. (Excellent reliability, good handling, slow, but easy to work on. Loved it. Wish it was still with us)

    • Lol X – my Mrs did that with her fathers car when we were in Karachi. Her excuse – the car we have in London has the beeping parking sensors (so she just waits for the sound)…. this one didnt beep (instead had a camera you have to watch)…. hence she kept going till she heard another sound !!

  5. “a car that idiot-proofed against a driver who probably should be a passenger.”

    How does one keep those who should be passengers out of the driver’s seat?

  6. My least favorite of all these “features” has to be that I can’t back up my truck with the door open (very useful when gauging distance while backing up to hitch a trailer without “eyes” to guide you.)
    I think all these kindergarten teacher karen-Olympian types, while trying to make the world idiot proof have only allowed idiots to multiply like rodents. Thus the self fulfilling prophecy of people being too dumb to parallel park, shift gears, back up etc.
    We’re approaching peak feminine in this society. Nobody gets boo-boos or the sniffles anymore, everybody gets a warm cup of milk and a cookie, and we’re all precious boys/girls. I can’t imagine civilization holding on much longer at this rate.

    The positive: if you are functionally literate, can drive a standard transmission, and do things any average person from 50-60 years ago did just to live life, you look like a demi-god.

    • “do things any average person from 50-60 years ago did just to live life”

      Couldn’t help but think of my own mother. In some ways she seemed to be very dependent on others (emotionally), yet she brought up 3 kids without big daddy gov’t assistance (parents divorced when I was young), and showed me how to be strong in many ways in life.

      And – she drove a stick shift (’64 Impala).

    • Hi Sicilian,

      In re: “If you are functionally literate, can drive a standard transmission, and do things any average person from 50-60 years ago did just to live life, you look like a demi-god.”

      Yup. Just being capable of speaking and writing coherently is enough to put you leaps and bounds ahead of most college graduates today. Anyone who has skills – competence, at anything purposeful – is in the catbird seat. The downside is that it’s depressing, frustrating and angering to have to deal with idiots and idiocy at every turn…

      • Unfortunately, it takes a certain minimum percentage of the population that is capable to support an ongoing economic enterprise. I have no idea what that percentage may be, but we all may soon find out, in hindsight.

      • ‘Just being capable of speaking and writing coherently is enough to put you leaps and bounds ahead of most college graduates today.’ — eric

        A brief tour of Twitter turns up scores of persons who have mastered polysyllabic words and even the PhD Lit-level skill of crafting complete sentences … but have been so brain damaged by public school, college and the MSM that they lack analytic capacity.

        All of these could be replaced by a simple algorithm, and some in fact ARE bots, mindlessly spewing Kultursmog like a ghost repeater.

    • “if you are functionally literate, can drive a standard transmission, and do things any average person from 50-60 years ago did just to live life, you look like a demi-god.”

      You feel like a Joe Bauers(Idiocracy) bee-bopping among the masses….


      • You feel like a Joe Bauers(Idiocracy) bee-bopping among the masses…. a demi-god

        That’s a close description of the time I backed my large SUV into a slot in a store parking lot next to a woman sitting in her car (parked nose first) with the window rolled down.
        When I was done she looked over at me and said, “I WISH I could do that!”

        I didn’t know what to say.

        • I have had the exact same experience a few times. “How do you do that”? “I learned how”. Somehow, some way, too many people presumed that since they had the license from the all powerful all knowing state to drive a car, they no longer needed to improve their skills. They still drive the same as they did when they were 16-18.

        • Sometimes upon completing such “feats of magnificence” you just get the same stare a dog gives you when you tell him don’t drink from the toilet…..

    • A demigod, or a direct and personal threat to their extremely exaggerated opinion of themselves. “How dare you step on my ego”! Governments tend to enforce the lowest common denominator, and here we are. People being praised for being average. Participation trophies. Reducing education requirements. Graduating students who don’t even meet those reduced requirements.

    • Re: the positive
      Theres a catch22 in being functional in a world of addled know-nothings who only have enough dexterity to thumb their fondletech… The curse of competence… You see, in the working world everybody in a particular tier is equal in the eyes of the college educated HR dingleberries. So the meatbag that can function gets to pick up the slack for everybody else that are mentally or physically retarded. Due to this the competent worker gets paid the same as the NPC’s who need direction and assistance with every task. Whats worse is the microbrains get assigned to easy positions and the competent get to slave away, destroy their bodies or get burned out dealing with the impossible BS churned out by the indoctrinated hive mind for little to no extra compensation. Unless you’re hired into an incredibly well paid position it’s best to emulate your idiot peers, otherwise you’ll be harped on endlessly to assume more responsibility for an employers shitshow with no meaningful benefit.

      • Hi Classic,

        Your point is very well-taken, unfortunately. I think it explains, in part, why I went solo all those years ago. A story will help explain what I mean:

        Back in the ’90s, I worked as an editorial writer/columnist for The Washington Times, in DC. There was a woman “of color” there who was only there because she was a woman and “of color” – and she worked it. This woman could barely compose a grammatically correct sentence and forget a coherent editorial. Her copy was unintelligible as well as illiterate and had to be routinely re-written by other staffers, myself included. Guess who got promoted to editorial page editor, eventually?

        This sort of thing plus perhaps a spider sense regarding general trends prompted me to go out on my own, where I was beholden to myself alone and whatever failed or worked was because I failed – or because I worked.

        And that works, for me!

        • And for that I thank you.
          It’s a relief to read something different than the copy-paste garbage the corporate writers defecate into black & white (insert due to human caused climate change here).
          My rebellion is a withdrawal of participation in part like Kevin Spaceys character in American Beauty left his “real” job to flip burgers, I also take entry or easy to get jobs that are plentiful and can give fuck-all about. In addition I scrounge, fix, and make or do without rather than purchasing new. This denies the borg tax revenue and the landfill machine another consumer. On top of all that I’ve bought into this fetid, reeking society so little that attempts at coercion or the “nudge” push me further out of line than back in it.
          I could have a business as a mechanic or handyman but people are intolerable. I’ll leave complaint department duty to the indoctrinated and enslaved.
          You’d be surprised how cheap one can live in flyover country with a shanty, shallow well and solar panels.

          Salute Mr. Peters.

      • Classic underachiever:

        Your points are precisely why I am now self employed. The competent 20% (or less) of an organization doing 80% (or more) of the heavy lifting is a thing. Yes it is exhausting working for myself at times but not nearly much as carrying the dead weight of a bunch of witless do nothings. I am much more in control of varying degrees of incompetence and silliness I have to deal with on a daily basis.

    • The one time I really like having the backup camera is when hooking up the trailer. There’s even crosshairs on the screen. But would I have paid for it, knowing how to line up the ball without it? Probably not.

  7. Man, that article was a bit of an emotional/sensual bumpy rollercoaster!
    First three images were a series of big dips, then two uplifting images, followed by a doosey of a dip image, then a super great rise image, then darkly down again.
    The final image was fitting for the coast to the end of the ride.

    I’ll try to focus on bed-mounted, rear-facing jumpseats for the rest of the evening, that’s such a swell idea, I wondered why they disappeared. Now I know.

  8. Following your analogy, I used to say that I like something about all cars. Just like I like something about all girls. I mean, provided any given example wasn’t too far out of bounds. But now, that is a “used to say” and a “used to think”. With cars, it’s becoming where there’s more I dislike than like in general. Like riding the bus. Not nice but, especially in a travel destination, sometimes a necessity. Huge difference from something I used to, not just enjoy, but be enthusiastic about.

  9. Claybrook was also responsible for that absurd 85 mile an hour speedo with the highlighted, enlarged 55.

    So that we would all be tricked into slowing down.

    A text book example of “I’ve got a hunch” legislation.

    • Wow. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since Forza 4 came out. That was the last Forza game I bought. Still have it. So many great games came out in the latter part of 2011. Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Skyrim, Forza 4…

      Man. Didn’t know how good we had it. Thanks for the memories.

  10. Try finding an exhaust leak on a car that shuts the motor off before you can even get out of the door. The Prius was the 1st POS to do that trick, as well as completely cutting the throttle when you have a drive wheel slip leaving a green light, with traffic up your ass, no less! Working on these vehicles is absolutely an irritating pain in the ass with all the “surprise” alarms, beeps, auto-park & auto-parking brakes, etc, etc. When my customers run out “driveable” cars, i’m selling out and they can be the problem of the next poor bastard that unwitting chose this automotive torture and Hell.
    The latest vehicle I own is a 2000 Chrysler minivan, which I don’t even have to so much as “hold the brake” before shifting it out of park, or any other gear. The original owners had the transmission replaced a year before I bought it from them, and aside from that repair, I’ve been the only one servicing it since the day they bought it new in 2000. Hopefully I can keep it functional until I’m done driving, but I’m not betting heavily on that either. I’m sure the PTB will come up with some assinine excuse to get every vehicle off the road that they can’t directly control, before i’m done driving.
    One of my customers recently discovered a “forgotten” hidden remote kill-device in his 2006 Chevy minivan that had been left there by the dealership when he bought it second-hand. The dealer put it in there when they sold it to the 1st owner, but never removed it after the minivan had been paid off. The “kill-device” started randomly shutting off the ignition about 6-8 months ago, until it was finally discovered hidden under the steering column kick-panel.. My customer succeeded in having the dealership remove the device, and fixing the ignition system, at their expense, but they fought with him the whole way through the process! This kind of abuse has become prolific and intentional and I’m fed up with it, myself.

    • Hi Graves!

      Hoping to have the coop doors hung and painted this weekend; then it’s just a few small things and the thing’s done… and I may actually find the time to rebuild the GL650’s starter motor!

  11. I think it telling that none of these people drive. It’s also telling that none of them are taking the bus either. They are all being driven around by people being paid for by us.

    In addition to being sourpusses, they are leeches.

  12. Clever article, Eric. Even drivers who know what they’re doing can fall victim to the dreaded trailing-throttle oversteer. Look closely at the exit of a high-speed turn on any roadcourse and you’ll probably see long, sweeping tire marks left by competitors who lost their nerve or came upon traffic and lifted too abruptly.
    I’m always tickled when I hear racecar driver wannabes talk about “downshifting” to slow the car. Uh, that’s what the brake pedal is for, buddy. Engine braking is the last thing you want when you’re really going fast. The only reason you change gears when entering a corner is so you’ll be in the proper gear to accelerate when you exit.

  13. It took me a while but I realized that the monster in the article’s main photo is cleverly wearing ROY G BIV. That’s one of those photos, like the diaper report photo, that is so obnoxious that it’s hard to look at for long outside of the sometimes strange fascination to endure that which is absolutely disgusting.

  14. “If it saves just one life,” the rally cry of the Karen. Well, if you have no situational awareness, backup cameras, warning buzzers and the like might save a life. But if you are actually operating a motor vehicle as you should, all that stuff just adds expense and annoys. I used to drive an F550 super duty with an aerial lift (AKA, a bucket truck). Every morning I had to do a walk-around, check the tires, lights, warning stickers, etc. I know plenty of people who would blow off the checklist and get through their day. The truck had several safety warning devices installed, including a lockout for the boom and bright red lights when the lift’s hydraulic pump, fed from the PTO, was engaged. We once had a fiber cut at an intersection because someone from the power company left their boom up driving down the road. A coworker of mine drove his bucket truck with a flat tire, it was on the inside of the dually. No one knows how long he’d been driving it with the flat. We’ve had fiber cuts from trash trucks driving off while their dumpster forks were still moving back into travel position. These are people who are being paid to know this stuff, many with decades of experience.

    Eventually if you’re not paying attention when you back up, you’re not going to pay attention to the warning buzzers either. The boiling frog analogy works both ways. New and novel get our interest, dull and routine do not. We eventually tune out the risk. But like the zebra who’s grown accustomed to the lions hanging out at the water hole, eventually we’ll be caught off guard. And no matter how much warning is there, if we don’t pay attention to it the outcome will be the same as the zebra’s. This is why having mental and physical checklists are important. This is why this stuff can’t be idiot-proofed.

    • Great analysis, RK. I’ve used checklists a lot, and once you become familiar with a list it takes a lot of discipline to use it as carefully as you should. I read an account of a Boeing 737 crew who failed to pay close enough attention to the overhead panel pressurization switches, one of which had been set to Manual by a mechanic but needed to be in the Auto position at takeoff. I don’t recall all the details, but the plane failed to pressurize properly, and the pilots lost consciousness. It continued to fly on autopilot until it ran out of fuel. That section of the OH panel was one item on the checklist, so after the crash investigation the FAA mandated that each switch be a separate item. But even then it’s easy to blast right through the list, especially if you’re accustomed to things already being set correctly. Humans gonna human.
      My iMac has a program called Stickies that lets you write little yellow notes to yourself on the desktop. I’ve had one to-do on there for a year now, and I just remembered that I haven’t done it yet. After a while it becomes like the furniture.

    • “If it saves just one life,” is a false argument. Just as “you can’t place a price on a life” is. We put a price on people’s lives all the time. If it costs a million dollars to save a life, or a million dollars to save a thousand lives, where does the money go? Sorry million dollar guy/gal.

  15. Eric,

    This article is an excellent example of why I love your site. That second paragraph especially bit me viscerally and drug me in for the comical, yet painfully true, rant that followed.

    Also, I saw the new “Blazer” for the first time, yesterday. This was immediately followed by the double-take, perplexed frown, and “WTF?” moment. Through many transgressions has GM been assigned to the scrap-heap of history.

  16. That brethalyzer thing they hid in Porkulus Bill v9.0 is very, very troubling. What if say the Texas (using the Lone Star State as an example) legislature passed into law a bill stating something like no vehicle sold in the state will have a working brethalyzer, then the carcos would be losing Texas customers if they boycotted, and may very well end up not implementing the scam. If they did, the “working” part comes into play, allowing the evil thing to be defeated and/or ripped out. What could the DC swamp state do? Cut off highway money tax grift skim kickbacks to Texas? Well, how are they collected? At the pump? The pumps are in Texas. Come and enforce it (re: the Gonzales Flag)!

  17. ‘Now, cars are like a sourpuss pants-suit-wearing wife who long ago stopped smiling at you’ — EP

    Then bad, bad things happen. You start groping pudgy twenty-something interns in blue dresses … well, if you’re a certain politician with a bad case of Peyronie’s disease, that is. Then the pantsuit-fishwife goes lesbo on you (actually happened to a family member of mine) and a slow-motion train wreck ensues.

    While duly saluting Eric’s eclectic library of images, I contend that every allusion to Hillary (who stopped driving in the early 1990s) should, from an abundance of caution, include a graphic of the Michelin man, a talisman capable of warding off her squalid bad juju.

    • Wait… the Michelin man is both white and a man?! OK… though still traumatized, after a break to my safe space, I’m able to continue writing this. Clearly, the Michelin person needs to become non-binary and every fold of his big beautiful fat rolls must be rainbow colored… and he should be wearing a bikini and boots.

      Phew… I feel slightly better now.

      Now, I can follow through on making sure that the good (woke) people at Michelin destroy the patriarchy by properly representing the LGBTQ. Who’s better to get this moving forward, Brian Stelter, Chuck Todd, or Chris Cuomo?

      We have to move fast.

  18. But Eric, they are soooo much smarter than we are. If everybody just did exactly as they say the world would be a fairy land with pixie dust, unicorns, lollipops, and rainbows every where, at all times. If I were faced with driving a new car or not driving, I would be bicycle shopping. Well, if I was ten years younger I would anyway. Don’t even drive much anymore. I expect my 06 MX5 with not quite 40k on it will outlast me. Pants suits permitting of course.


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