Modern Auto Stupidity

Posted On: Monday - May 6th 2019 6:34PM MST
In Topics: 
  General Stupidity  Music  Cars  Curmudgeonry

(The picture here is from a complaint about windows not rolling all the way down,
another valid criticism.)

Cars today are not built very much for "cool" looks or fun of any kind. People just don't want that stuff anymore, especially the young people. That's fair enough, as good gas mileage and reliability are more worthy goals, IMO. Reliability HAS gone WAY up since the 1970's and gas mileage increases would have been a lot higher but for the new heavy mandated safety features.

Fine, but could you not have made these new designs for riding with the windows down, occasionally ... ever? I know that people are spoiled and they want the heat at 73 F on this side, A/C for the passenger, both want their asses heated up, the kid in the back wants it cooler and his DVD turned up ... etc. Electronics can do a whole lot now, until ... well, around the time the warranty expires, and all kinds of troubleshooting and workarounds must be done. You should have sold it by then!

Anyway, it's just that these modern cars must have been tested in the wind tunnels or on the road with windows up ONLY. The kids really wanted the windows down on this long trip, and they can do it with a switch push rather than a crank. Man, the car is NOT made for it, especially for the back ones being down. It was OK at 30 mph, but once near 60 mph, the turbulence became kind of intense. It was a buffeting to the point where I felt like I was under a sudden depressurization in the SR-71. Bang, bang, with a period of about a second or two, it went, ... "we're breaking up, Houston ..." The kids could not hear us tell them to "crank" the windows back up with the effect of this buffeting in all our ears, probably eventually to induce nausea and headaches. Oh, you can do it from the front. Don't panic! Find those switches before tunnel vision sets in!

Even riding with the front windows down above 50 mph has a similar effect, though of slightly lesser intensity. Hey, can't I just take in some fresh air and hear better? (The better hearing makes it much safer driving with windows down too, unless you follow gravel trucks!) What the heck are you supposed to do once you finish your banana anyway?*

It's about the side-mirrors, isn't it? Those things are 4 or 5 times bigger in area than they used to be on those 1980's cars. They've got 2 motors, a defogger, a built in signal light, a glued-on super-convex mirror for more visibility ... geeze, don't break one of these - you're in for $200 USED now. Sure, you can see more in 'em, and you need to because otherwise visibility through the narrow windows sucks in the new cars. Anyway, I believe those big-ass mirrors are what causes the turbulence when windows are down, but the manufacturers don't worry about it.

What a world it is now! Things are built for comfort and (what they think is) for safety, but not for any fun.

Johnny Cougar, from his melon camp somewhere in Southern Indiana, complained about it, but I think riding in the rumble seat would be a lot more fun than being cooped up in the modern boxy constrained contraptions of today.

"I could have a nervous breakdown, but I don't believe in shrinks.
I should be drunker than a monkey, but I don't like to drink ..."

It's just plain old rock-&-roll from Mr. Cougar's mid-80's album Scarecrow, which was chock full of great songs. As for car songs, Peak Stupidity has already featured Rush's Red Barchetta, Paul McCartney and Wings' Helen Wheels, and Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

* I think it would be interesting - annoying, but interesting - to get pulled over for throwing something organic out the window. Is throwing an apple core out into the woods littering? "How so, your honor?" (Course, the cop can just lie about it, if the county needs the money that bad ...)

[UPDATED 5/7 Afternoon:]
Added opinion on mirrors.

Monday - June 17th 2019 7:09AM MST
PS: I'm glad you liked the post, Mr. Fahrquahr.
Peyton Fahrquahr
Saturday - June 15th 2019 4:50AM MST
PS My 2008 Tundra does that re-entry break-up thing with just the rear windows down. Your description does justice to the drama!
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 8:05PM MST
PS: Peak Misalignment? Well, your way sounds better. Good luck with that window, Dtbb. That wasn't John Voit's ex-car was it, by any chance.

A friend of mine had a LeBaron, I think from the earlier 1990's, though maybe even '89. We had to fashion up a bracket one time at a machine shop, for lack of ... money, I think it was.
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 7:39PM MST
PS:I know the feature you are referring to. It isn't that, I have never owned a car new enough. The real problem is the tiny rear window is in a large rear panel on a convertible. I fixed one myself years ago but never again. Had to get a bodyman to get the panel back on right. I swear the carmakers do it on purpose. These cars ranged from 1969 to 1994, and always a rear window. Peak malignity?
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 6:38PM MST
PS: Yeah, that's just not as cool-looking, Dtbb. Could it be one of those controls in which the window goes down after a quick button push and is supposed to stop at the bottom (based, I think, on high current-draw as the torque shoots up at the bottom). One of my cars' windows has broken its little round pins inside twice now, due to that feature being on the car, but not working.

Damn, it's not very hard to push a button for 3 seconds - these are fast motors - so I really didn't need some feature to save me from that hard work. The hard work is in taking the door apart - it'll be twice now - to replace the chewed up parts due to the motor trying to turn when the window is already down.
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 5:25PM MST
PS:Speaking of uncool looking cars. I drive a 94 LeBaron convertible now and have owned several other convertibles. Now with the top down they all look pretty cool with all the windows down. For some reason they all seem to end up with a broken rear electric window. It just looks stupid driving around with one window up!
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 2:59PM MST
PS: "Would you think, that the pilots were a bit tactical for economic - or even patriotic reasons when they just wanted to keep going with their MAXes?"

I just don't think so. I've had pilots tell me plainly that, hey, this 737-900 (not the ones in question) just doesn't do what the 757 can do on the long trans-cons (say, Miami to San Francisco) or that the MD-88's are a lot of work to fly, etc. There are guys who like the airbuses due to the huge amount of room in the cockpit (due to lack of a yoke), and others who are "if it's not Boeing, I'm not going". Most Americans don't really think like that, except possibly long-term Seattleites.

I gotta admit, that was not my kind of music. I am surprised that I'd never heard of it (or her) in that time period. I suppose I was still catching up on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Lynryd Skynryd, and The Allman Brothers at the time of this record.

Yeah, do they really need those rear wipers. The visibility goes down due to rain impingement, so the rear is clear enough. It's another thing to have to get fixed at 100,000 miles....
Dieter Kief
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 2:15PM MST
Thanks for your 737MAX infos! I understoddright away, that you did not want to denfend the MAX's and their MCAS - deficiencies.

Would you think, that the pilots were a bit tactical for economic - or even patriotic reasons when they just wanted to keep going with their MAXes?

Ahh - Laurie Anderson - the wife of the late Lou Reed, here's her airplane song from the album Big Science (her best), called: From the Air -

I forgot to mention, that a plastic arrow from a kids rifle sticks ca. 40 cm out from my rear window-wiper, and a small piece of rubber (7 cm, grey) is dangling from its top. - The whole thing looks a bit freakish, but - you know: Its fun anyway... the cops did see it, but did not mention it, whereas it bothers retirees quite badly - (I'm - now - dead sure about this social fact).
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 1:33PM MST
PS: I am so sorry that I don't know this Laurie Anderson, but on your recommendation (pick your favorite song on youtube), I'd be glad to give a listen, Dieter.
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 1:32PM MST
PS: OK, Dieter, on the 737s: I first had written American airline (not "American Airlines" as a company name), and then later I gave the detail that these were Southwest Airlines pilots. Sorry for that confusion.

The 3 SW pilots, and later 2 more guys I talked to a coupla weeks later, told me that, no, the 30-odd SouthWest 737-MAXes, that had flown about 70-80,000 hours, as I recall (not that awful many, as they were all new - that's maybe 25 to 35 thousand legs for that airline (not any or many 5+ hour complete cross-countries due to odd laws, I think). When you consider they fly 1,800 departures a day, that'd be like 2 weeks of only flying those planes.

They have not had a single situation in which the MCAS system got activated, per all the 5 pilots I talked to. I don't think there'd been any reason to keep a secret from me, for reasons I'd rather not get into. SW Airlines has their own union, and are not a part of ALPA like 80% or so of the rest. Like, I said, it was just an honest conversation.

Now, Dieter, that doesn't mean I think the MCAS system is a good thing, or even that final (probably) variant of the long-production-run 737 line. If the MCAS had activated on a SW flight, would these guys have quickly shut down the electric trim, got into a good flying state, and continued with no problem? I can't be sure. What I told that other commenter was that the crew of 2 just were disgusted that they could not continue flying the 30-odd ones that were grounded. I.E., they were not alarmed by the aircraft.

I hope that helps.
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 1:19PM MST
PS: Hey, Dieter, first of all, it's great to see you on here, and especially with an interesting story/comment! Thanks.

Firstly, I've had my dealings with cops - almost solely involving traffic "issues", meaning cars (mostly), motorcycles, bikes, and even crossing the street. It can be OK if you and them deal like decent human beings. However, we do have rights here, supposedly, and it's good to insist on them, which often conflicts with the good feelings.

My wife had her car scraped-up a bit the other day, and she told me the guy cop said "I bet you wouldn't have even seen this for a few days, if the lady hadn't been honest about this (the car was parked). Your husband would have figured it was you! You're lucky." He was absolutely right, and that's pretty funny and honest of him.

BTW, I'd had one mean broad call the cops and tell them I'd pulled a gun out on her, just because I did get out (this was in a big Northern rude city) and tell her calmly to quit honking, just because I wanted to let 2 people cross the 2-land road (35 mph zone). If I hadn't had lots of missing, errr, stuff like insurance, I'd have tried my best to get that lady for false statements. (Luckily, I had no gun on me, but she saw my way-out-of-state plates and assumed I might, the sick broad).

I'd have been pretty pissed at the 300-pound Yaris driver, personally. "How about just worrying about yourself and keeping up with new extra-stiff shocks!?" may have been a good one, that I'd have probably thought about only 1/2 hour later.
Dieter Kief
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 12:55PM MST
PS Yesterday, in the afternoon, a police car arrived at our house with two young officers: Are you Dieter Kief etc. ... - What had I done: I had driven quite lazily (with hardly 45 mph) and very far on the left side of the little country road on my way home, on the white stripe at times, even - and some fellow German retiree in a white Toyota Yaris, weighing in at about 300 pounds (the Yaris l e a n e d to his side) followed me up to my garage and spoke into his mobile phone - as it turned out: To inform the cops about my "dangerious way of drunken (!) driving", who quickly threafter arrived at the scene.

A few minutes later, one more police car arrived, with a nice lady cop and one more young policeman, in order to help their colleagues out, just in case that there should occur problems with me - which, indeed, did not - other than that the young cop, who wrote the protocol of the whole affair, which included an alcohol test, which I had to take, - ah: the protocol asked for the city of my birth, - a well nown old city not far from Heidelberg, but as it turned out: This young cop hesitated and - blushed - because he for sure did know this old city with it's well known Baroque Gardens and its fairy tail Mosque from the 17th Century - but: He did not know how to spell Schwetzingen - - - as it turned out the charming young lady-cop knew, what made this affair even worse for him, of course...

Now, Achmed, for something else: Do you remember the 737MAX shananigans? Would you mind if I asked you one question, concerning this whole affair: You claimed at one point, you had been talking to pilots from American Airlines, if I remember right. Now - if you don't mind that I ask diectly: Do I remember this right: Did you claim to have spoken to those pilots and do I remember right too, that you said, they said: No problems with the 737 MAXes at AA - no problems whatsoever, good machines, flying idle and safe?

If this is right so far, may I ask you one more question: a) Were those pilots, you spoke to, Unionized pilots and /or b) do you think, they spoke from experience or they spoke from a tactical standpoint, because they knew, that it was crucial for AA to let the 737MAXes apper as airplanes with no issues whatsoever, because otherwise, their company could face severe problems, since it relied heavily on the 737 MAXes?
And maybe BOING and the unionized colleagues of them there might too face severe problem, if the 737MAXes would turn out as - you know - - a kludge a n d a MACS-faulty thing alltogether, too?
I hope you don't mind, that I come back to this old stuff with my questions. Could you tell me a bit more about this subject?

Btw - how do you like Laurie andersons Bigscience album, especially the titkle "From the Air?"
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