“Pro,” “IQ” and “Smart”

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To understand what those who are destroying everything that once worked in this country mean when they say something, automatically translate it to mean its opposite.

In the context of cars, consider the use of terms such as “Pro” – to describe an electronic crutch for the inept. As for example Pro Park Assist, by which is meant an electronic system that parks the car for the person who is unable to. See also Pro Trailer Assist, which is for the person who lacks the skill to back up a truck with a trailer hitched to it.

In other words, for people who are as far from being Pros at doing the thing in question as Dylan Mulvany is from being the thing he tries to look like he isn’t.

The same can be said of anything styled “IQ” – the latest, dumbest elaboration of “smart,” which first came into currency in the context of the phones that have enstupidated so many. What is smart about pecking at a screen and being tracked wherever you go by a device you’ve been trained to carry with you wherever you go?

By this standard, the East German Stasi was extremely “smart.”

You are presumed to have a low IQ by anything marketed using the latter acronym. As in, someone not smart enough to be able to do whatever it is without “assistance.”

This latter being perhaps the most invertedly offensive of the bunch.

Handicapped people require assistance. And there’s nothing wrong with providing – or offering – it.

To those who are handicapped.

Special bathroom stalls, for instance. And electro-mechanical lifting mechanisms for those unable to otherwise get into and out of a vehicle. Such assistance is just that. But it is insufferable and cloying to “assist” someone who doesn’t need it – and a degradation to impose it upon them.

This is why what is styled “driver assistance technology” – often also styled “Pro” and “smart” – is so hateful, to those who aren’t stupid and have learned baseline driving skills such as keeping the car in its travel lane and parking curbside. The two latter skills used to be expected of 16-year-olds attempting to acquire their license to drive. They were, once-upon-a-time, obliged to demonstrate that they had mastered them in order to pass the driving test that used to be the basis for issuing them a driver’s license. At one time, most new drivers had to learn to shift for themselves, too – because at one time, most (at one time, all) cars had manual transmissions – and if you couldn’t operate one, it wasn’t possible to drive, licensed or not.

As a result of this regime, pretty much anyone who had a valid driver’s license could drive – in terms of possessing baseline skills such as keeping the car in its travel and parking the thing curbside. And didn’t need “assistance.” Just the same as a child that has learned how to ride a bicycle no longer needs training wheels.

But the “driver’s license” is now just that – a permission slip to “drive” that says nothing about the holder’s ability to drive. Unlike a private pilot’s license, which you must demonstrate the ability to competently fly an airplane before you get it.

Instead, the license you get to drive is more like the ear tag worn by cattle in that its primary purpose is to identify the “driver” – who, in these latter days, increasingly does need “assistance,” never having learned how to drive and not being expected to do it competently. The former and latter latter serving as a kind of self-reinforcing feedback loop. The “driver” who isn’t expected to learn how to park a car curbside or keep the car within its travel lane learns to depend on “assistance technology,” such as Lane Keep Assist, to keep the car in its travel lane – and isn’t motivated to learn how to do that on his own, without “assistance.”

And so, he doesn’t.

He thus needs “assistance” – and more and more of it.

Including “assistance” to not forget his kids in the backseat, after the car has parked itself.

Before you know it, he doesn’t need to drive, at all.

This is the probable, deliberate end-goal of all this “assistance.” That is, to dumb-down “drivers” to such a degree that most will not object – will welcome – a car that drives itself. Will need one, ultimately – the driving part being as beyond their capabilities as preparing a meal – as opposed to tossing a frozen burrito in the microwave. When the microwave isn’t working because the power went out, such people starve.

It is part and parcel of a general trend toward learned helplessness, with the inevitable result being a society in which the handicapped outnumber the able, who find themselves an oddball minority of people oppressed by the almost-drooling imbecility of the former – whose incapacity has been normalized, by people who understand the true meaning of “Pro” and “smart” and “assistance technology.”

. . .

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  1. I just read a good article on cops having to take additional police vehicle training. Seems the car/ SUV will stop them from tactical driving. Or catching robbers and murderers by using car chase PIT maneuvers. Whoa there cowboy, Ford won’t let you do that. :}

  2. I was watching a couple of videos on YT about people WANTING to be handicapped. One was a woman who wished to be paralyzed. Another was a woman who wanted to be blind. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of others out there with similar desires, but my point is that we have pretty much reached the point of no return. Humanity is on the verge of becoming the most useless species on the planet.

  3. Oh good grief, at the rate society is sliding, we will surpass the movie “Idiocracy” for real. If we have not already. Will toilets remind the stupid people to wipe their a** after using? And to remind them to use toilet paper? To wash their hands with soap before leaving? Are people that far gone? Yeah, my new Camry has the “Check The Back Seat” reminder…for a kid I do not have, that I might accidentally leave back there. What the hell do I need that nanny for? I wonder how many fewer drivers would be on the road, if such people were not allowed to drive until they showed they could do so?

      • Amen, Bluegrey!

        I would never opt for a push-button/keyless ignition. But if you want to buy a new car, it is pretty much standard now. This is the idiot rip-tide of “progress” . . . from something simple, inexpensive and durable to something complex, expensive and inherently fragile.

  4. First time I saw an ad for trailer backup assist I lost my mind.
    If you can’t back up a trailer, you shouldn’t haul one until you learn. I told my TV all about it.

    I blame the safety cult for all this. Auto makers come up with a new option to set themselves apart.
    Insurance mafia loves it & pays govt to mandate it.
    Govt, believing their job is to save us from ourselves, gladly complies.

  5. Got to love this one…. Self driving car confused by heroes directions….


    This is just one of the reasons why this is far from being street ready. In fact it may never work good enough. The tech industry has had 30 years and they still haven’t made a good actual working web browser for a desktop computer, which should be easier than a computer car……

    • Today’s machine-based perception is really dumb – really, really dumb.

      The way most people approach self driving is that they have a machine learning based perception system to perceive the world, and they build a hand tuned planner (the logic which drives) on top of the perception.

      • Oh weird, my post got cut off.

        The perception is trained in a really compute intensive, but fundamentally, stupid way. You show it trillions and trillions of combinations of things in images, and have it learn how to identify things in those images.

        It has no notion of a police officer or hand signals, because it has no understanding of the world, only statistical classification of image blobs.

        When it encounters an unknown situation that it hasn’t been trained for, it confidently does the wrong thing, because the perception engine is confidently emitting BS and the planning engine is taking this BS as input for its driving decisions.

        The technology is really primitive, and that’s the state of the art. The pure perception based approach doesn’t work so well today. What works better is making the car bristle with lidars, radars, sonars and measure the world around you, but that’s expensive and extremely labor intensive to produce high fidelity maps of the world as a reference.

        (I’m a lead engineer on self driving tech at a company you have heard of, I just don’t want to out myself here).

        • Thanks for the reply! I suspected some of the things you said about the tech. You can see on the screen, the car is thinking the cop is an animal. I have also seen video of a Tesla confused by an Amish buggy (a local problem), and a Waymo confused by,,,,, traffic cones. The problem with these things is that it makes the car stop in moving traffic and do unpredictable things which is dangerous to be very honest. I also think, this tech shouldn’t be in the wild yet, and should still be on the test track. I don’t think this is going to be a general use thing anytime soon.

          Self driving cars could be a great thing for those who would want it or need it. It will be good for older folks, those who can’t drive or shouldn’t because they are incompetent, or just don’t want to. Unfortunately it will be rolled out and forced on folks that don’t want it before its ready for prime time.

          • It’s coming, and it will work well eventually. Today, it works well on fixed, pre-planned routes (eg, airport shuttles, mining equipment, loading docks), what’s coming any moment is long-haul trucking.

            Daimler is releasing a self driving system soon where the liability for accidents is on them, not on you, while the system is driving. The catch is, it won’t agree to drive unless the conditions are 100% right.

  6. Two scary things about all of this ‘driver-assist’ BS:

    a)When those who rely on that technology because they lack the minimal skill to actually drive suddenly find themselves without the “assists”, they don’t suddenly acquire the requisite skill to safely change lanes or brake when something is in front of them. They simply have no clue (“Oh, there’re blind spots I needed to check by turning my head? Who’d have thunk it?!”)…and crash.

    b)If one of these systems stops working and you are unaware that it has stopped working until you are in a position where you are relying on it ….BOOM! -Like if the blind-spot detector just suddenly stops working…but you don’t know because you equate it’s silence with it meaning that all is clear, and aren’t manually looking, since “Why should I, since I have a thing for that?”.

    These things are actually why we’re seeing the number of accidents INCREASING; and they’re training people- even formerly competent drivers, to be BAD drivers.

    Being a driver of 20+ year-old vehicles, I’ve avoided having most of this garbage- but my ’02 Excursion does have a “back-up camera” and rear parking sensors. I at least thought it would be cool having the back-up camera, but in reality, I rarely give it a glance; and I purposely tested the back-up sensors, and noticed that…sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t! As expected, not something to rely on..so what good are they? Even if they worked 100% of the time, considering that they only only start alerting when something is within 6 feet AND require you to be just CREEPING along at an unrealistically slow speed even for backing-up/parking…again, what the hell good are they?

  7. This reminds me of how helpless my kids are at getting anywhere in their cars (they are good drivers) without Google Maps on their phones. The concept of going east, west, north and south are completely foreign to them. When I try to give them directions somewhere in those terms, their eyes just glaze over. 🙁

    • Robbie, my wife is directionally challenged as well. All she understands is right, left, or straight ahead.
      I was fiddling with GPS navigation long before most people knew it existed, so I do appreciate the technology. But what drives me crazy is that I can’t find any program now that will let me plan a route on a desktop computer (where I have a real keyboard and mouse) exactly the way I want it and then load it to my phone. With Google Maps, I can customize it on the computer, but when I transfer it to the phone it reverts to the original canned route. When I asked about this on several forums the response was “Why would you want to do that?” Further proof that most people are content to brainlessly follow what the phone says is good for them.
      Do you know of any way to do this?

      • I’m not sure.

        I usually plan my route at home.
        I’ll use maps.me or osm maps to mark key points on my route to keep me on course.

      • Roland, I am directionally impaired also, to a certain extent. If I am going on a long road trip in unfamiliar areas, I use my road atlas. I sit down, find my destination, write down interstates and major roads along the way, keep that info on a piece of paper I can easily glance at while driving, or pull over consult it and the atlas. And of course I always know the direction I’m supposed to be going and make an effort to look at it on the rearview mirror. (I look in the rearview mirror often of course, but generally don’t note the direction, no need in everyday driving.) Years ago could drive anywhere, even without a map, just use road signs. I have become crippled by GPS—-sad—okay and age, don’t like admitting that part—easier to blame GPS, lol.

        • Hi Elaine. I’m a big fan of GPS navigation. At the very least, it’s great when you’re lost, because it will show you exactly where you are in relation to where you want to go. And I like turn-by-turn instructions when I’m on urban streets because I increasingly have trouble reading tiny street signs while also paying attention to what’s going on around me. “Turn right onto Elm Avenue in 800 feet” is very helpful. But I don’t want to just put in the destination and then blindly follow an app’s suggested route all the time. I want to use my own knowledge to plan the route exactly the way I want it. Half-baked options like “Avoid highways” or “Avoid toll roads” don’t cut it.

  8. I was thinking about how an autopilot system might be implemented if someone actually took 5 minutes to think about it.

    One way could be a certification process. Most trades are familiar with this sort of thing. You get a new piece of equipment or software, and the manufacturer will usually add on training. Once you go through the training and quiz (and maybe hands-on practical exam) you get a certificate. Sure, training usually leaves a lot to be desired, but for the important stuff it can be very good. And it can go on the resume’ under education. None of this is mandatory (except in aviation, which institutionalizes training under “ratings”), but often required by the company.

    Of course that’s not seen as feasable for automobiles, at least in the US. Bad drivers aren’t removed from the road, and if driving is deemed too difficult it’s the fault of the manufacturer and highway engineer, not the driver. This is pretty much how everything is going these days. HR departments chastise tech department managers for making the jobs too hard for someone with a room temperature IQ, so dumbing down is the order of the day. Problem is you can’t break down driving to be much simpler than it already is. And dealers aren’t going to take the time to sit people down and go through the certification process, not when getting them off the lot before remorse settles in is the priority.

    I know I’m the exception around here, but I’d love a functional autopilot for highway driving. I’m fully able to maintain situational awareness without keeping hands at ten and two for hundreds of miles. And I’m aware that autopilot isn’t something that can be used in every situation. But as we’ve seen with Tesla drivers, the “cool factor” takes over and the system is used in unintended ways. But autopilots on cars aren’t cell phone cameras, so instead of dick pics texted to girls we get dicks sleeping behind the wheel.

    • Rk,

      ” But autopilots on cars aren’t cell phone cameras, so instead of dick pics texted to girls we get dicks sleeping behind the wheel.”

      You made my day with this one!

    • Reminds me of that old T-shirt ya used to see back in the 80’s:

      See Dick Drink.
      See Dick drive.
      See Dick die.
      Don’t be a Dick.

  9. Even ‘Pro’ trucks (18 wheelers) are Automatics now. How sad is that! I taught my youngest how to drive a manual just as my mother taught me. Before he could drive the car without me he had to be able to get the car/truck moving with just the clutch. No gas. At that point he could shift as smoothly as any ‘pro’. Secondly he had to be able to use the hand brake (if available) to not roll back at a light.

    • Yes, Ken, sad indeed. I’ve always been very good with a gearbox, but if I applied for a job today I would be on a “level playing field” with any schmuck who can mash the accelerator and point the thing in the right direction.
      Then again, I’ll bet the old two-stick guys thought those of us who cut our teeth on 13-speed Roadrangers were wimps too.

  10. Popular Xeroxed poster at work in the 80s, that picture of John Wayne in combat gear captioned “Life’s Tough, it’s Tougher if You’re Stupid”.

    Check online the requirements for getting a German driver’s license, good luck American schlubs!

  11. This all started with ABS, don’t have to learn how to drive in slippery conditions, just mash the brake pedal. I disconnected it in both cars after it made me come within inches of rear-ending somebody. Just have to remember to reconnect it when I go for the saaaaafety inspection this month, for which the insurance mafia has already sent me two reminders.

    • Amen, Mike –

      And now they are putting ABS on bikes (though most have an off switch). This will just encourage people who don’t know how to ride fast, safely to ride faster, irresponsibly.

      • No off switch on the Harley, and the ABS controller is sensitive to bad fluid so it’s a visit to the dealer for fluid flush every two years. You can’t activate the ABS at home to get the fluid thru it – their computer only.

        • That’s terrible, Sparkey!

          Harleys used to be elemental machines that owners worked on. Now they’re designed to increase the cashflow of the Harley store. I spit on that and fart in their direction.

          • Oh it’s a two wheel version of a modern car re: all the electronics, including CANBUS. That part actually worked in my favor as it automatically recognized all the LED lighting replacements I installed. The 2018 came stock with one LED, the license plate light, odd.

            Not so good if it gets the funk, my buddy finally got his 2011 back after 8 months of Harley dealer + factory head scratching. Fractured wire in the TPS circuit, two in a row bad O2 sensors, the final piece of the puzzle a failed MAP sensor. Runs perfect now.

            • Hi Sparkey,

              In re: “Fractured wire in the TPS circuit, two in a row bad O2 sensors, the final piece of the puzzle a failed MAP sensor.”

              That is why I will never buy such a bike. None of mine have any of those items, which is why anything that goes wrong (which rarely ever does) I can fix. Several of my bikes are more than 40 years old – and they still run reliably. It depresses that something simple and elemental – a motorcycle – has become as complicated and unapproachable as a (new) car.

  12. It started long before the electronic assistance craze. For a long time, drivers have been taught that their main job is to scan the roadside constantly, looking for a sign that will tell them what to do.
    Any road that lacks curve signs with ridiculously low suggested speeds is “dangerous.”
    Not only do you need a sign to tell you to stop at an intersection, you need a sign to warn you that the stop sign is ahead.
    And when assistance is lacking, you need a sign to warn you that it isn’t there, e.g., “No Passing Zones Unmarked” (Horrors! We’re all going to die!).
    The electronic nannies are just the logical extension of the notion that your job is not to pay attention to what’s going on around you and react appropriately, it is to obey.

    • “curve signs with ridiculously low suggested speeds”
      Which can be useful driving a road strange to you. I simply add the appropriate MPH depending upon what I’m driving. There are roads in some areas where they mean it. At least there used to be. I remember driving in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas decades ago, where if there was a curve speed sign, you better not exceed it by much, unless driving a high performance sports car.

  13. If I see the word “pro” in print, my mind immediately flashes to the Hunter S. Thompson line, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

    I think that fits in the case of the “pro” assistance technologies.

    I have a personal bias about the word. When we lived in the Northwest, I knew a “pro” alcoholic, whose full time career was “curating” a web site of cocktail recipes. Part of the reason we couldn’t afford to buy a house was that we supported his household from our bottom line through his wife, my spouse’s associate.

  14. I admit I like the warning light embedded in the mirror which tells me someone is in my blind spot. Then again it’s a blind spot because of the idiocrats mandated thick pillars on top of tall door panels created the blind spot in the first place.

    OT: why the hell are so many windshields breaking? I went 20-some years without even a cracked windshield. In the last 20 I’ve been through nine –fixing to be 10. Is it the windshield angle on the homogenized car leads to perfectly perpendicular strikes?

    • A few speculative guesses:

      1) They make them thinner to reduce weight
      2) Greater rigidity/adherence to the frame for holding back the airbag so shock doesn’t dissipate as easily
      3) loss of trunk means rear wheels are further back, increasing likelihood of stones flying back. – Also mud flaps are out of style.

      • And dump-truck jockeys are idiot amateurs who see no need to keep their load on the truck.
        “I broke your windshield? Prove it!”

    • Mike, I agree about the blind-spot warning. Our new Corolla doesn’t have it. I didn’t really care until I saw that it also doesn’t have a convex spotting mirror on the driver’s side. How stupid is that? Our 2015 Focus that the Toyota replaced had a tiny convex mirror in the corner of the regular mirror, and it worked great. Anything beside you could be seen on it if you bothered to look. Now I have to crane my neck and move my head around to see out of the slits that they call windows. Sucks.

  15. Was taught to always look back at your vehicle after parking and walking away from it: lights left on, parking correctly, vehicle moving (oops), and as a way to remind yourself of anything left undone: forgot your keys? left something in the car? left something on top?

    I never see anyone doing that anymore. All the devices and sensors have trained us to assume everything is taken care of. Forgetting your child in the back seat? Yeah, no excuse for it. But i can see where today’s device trained adult can walk off, their mind on nothing to do with their vehicle…some warning bell or notification will tell me what to do….but having to include a warning chime for someone in the backseat?? Damn. No wonder the typical individual is so easy to scam.

    • I’m currently renting a GMC Acadia, and saw that notice because apparently, a hoodie counts as a person. I’m just wondering what will happen when auto manufacturers make it to where the doors won’t lock when that notice pops up on the dash. “Chop-shops” may end up competing with legit mechanics and parts suppliers!

  16. A minor point but you mixed up Dylan Thomas with Dylan Mulvaney. One’s a famous poet and the others a transvestite.

    One reason for all this “assistance” technology is that crash standards make seeing anything through the side and back windows difficult. I solved that problem by driving antiques.

    Learning to drive a stick shift is relatively easy as you’ve pointed out in the past but the will to learn seems to be missing now. A sports car with an automatic might as well be just a Camry with a spoiler on it.

  17. What such also does is remove any opportunity to be proud of your driving ability. A pride which I carried until I was physically, and a bit mentally, unable to demonstrate that ability. I got old. But I remember it and long for it, because it was a good thing.

  18. This reminds me of how a lot of people think the more features they have on a particular item the better their life is whereas usually the opposite is the case. The fairly recent American pastime of throwing money at something to make it gooder.

    •People who have entire “workout rooms” filled with thousands of dollars of equipment who are in very poor physical shape.

    •The “custom kitchen” with high end pro chefs appliances yet everything they eat is out of a box or pre made package.

    •The guy with a wall full of tools in a pristine garage who doesn’t/cant do his own oil changes.

    •They guy with a safe full of Gucci guns who doesn’t spend even an hour per month training but thinks he’s ready for the zombie wars.

    The world as I see it has largely traded real living for a larp, an image and an illusion. The “smart, pro, IQ” badges are a great way to extract the labor and time of the screen gazing dupe

    • Sad that I’ve known a bunch of the above sort of people. Some people I know wonder why I grow some of my own food when it’s cheap to buy in a store. I figure that telling them when do you want to learn, before or after it gets too expensive would just confuse them?

      The same philosophy covers the rest of your list.

  19. ‘as far from being Pros at doing the thing in question as Dylan Thomas is’ — eric

    Eh, I thought Dylan Thomas performed the ‘pro poet’ shtick rather credibly in Under Milkwood.

    You gotta admit, downing whiskeys hasta la muerte at the White Horse Tavern is taking the role way above and beyond! 🙂


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