Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on June 27, 2016

GC Shifter

My most devoted readers (Hi, Mom!) know that I’ve used the (Web) pages of Road&Track a few times in the past couple of years to argue for standardizing automotive control location and operation. The general response to my clarion call for action has been a rousing middle finger from the reader, accompanied by an unambiguous suggestion that I use a standardized automatic-transmission shift lever to go fuck myself sideways. What can I say? They were even meaner to John the Baptist, you know.

Last week, some fellow from Hollywood (might have) managed to let his own Grand Cherokee crush him to death. And now, to quote Heath Ledger, everybody loses their minds. There’s a class action lawsuit. The Monostable shifter is being maligned from all quarters, often by the same people who said that the Chrysler rotary PRNDL control was also a problem.

In my previous articles, I predicted that the government, or the courts, would set the automakers’ houses in order if they couldn’t do it themselves. Perhaps that will happen now. I hope not. In the meantime, however, let’s take a brief look at the arguments from control standardization, and the arguments for deviating from those standards sensibly.

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By on June 21, 2016

netjet

Now it can be told: About ten years ago, my pal Rodney was an employee at NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway Company(™). Not for long, however. He was fired for making a very specific suggestion to his female boss. TTAC is a family-friendly site, so the best way I can rephrase what he said would be this: “If you (meaning the boss) were to let me (meaning Rodney) aggressively sodomize you in the company bathroom, not only would you experience a form of pleasure with which you are currently not acquainted, it would also result in a significant change in your management style, for the better, particularly as it relates to me, as you would then experience submissive feelings whenever you spoke to me.”

I should point out that Rodney was speaking from honest experience here, having convinced at least two other women in the corporation to participate in similar activities.

“This time, however, I was the one who got f***ed,” Rodney mournfully confessed to me a few days later. “The worst part is that this put a real crimp in my plans for Obsidian Black.”

“Obsidian Black?” I replied, like I’d been the recent recipient of a traumatic brain injury.

“Obsidian Black,” Rodney clarified.

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By on June 17, 2016

sensai

The meme is called I Hope Senpai Will Notice Me, and it commonly refers to a situation in which someone hopes desperately to catch the attention (no matter how temporary that attention might be) of a romantic interest and/or social superior.

When it happens in the auto industry, it usually comes in the form of an auto industry alpha male temporarily deigning to notice one of our many beta/omega/is-there-something-worse-than-omega-cause-if-so-that-word-applies automotive journalists.

I inadvertently participated in a “Senpai, Notice Me!” moment of my own when I agreed to face Bob Lutz in the CTS-V Challenge. Robert Farago told me not to attend. He’d correctly diagnosed the event as one in which auto journos would crawl on their hands and knees to lick the spittle dripping from Bob Lutz’s super-alpha chin; in particular, I remember the odd shudder of ecstatic, erotic joy that visibly wiggled through Wes Siler’s body when Bob turned to him and offhandedly said, “Hi, Wes.” (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2016

“Please hold,” the woman with the handheld Hertz computer said, as if she and I were on opposite sides of a WATS call instead of standing twenty-four inches apart, “for a manager.” I didn’t have to hold long. The manager was a short Hispanic man with an all-business disposition. “You have fun?” he inquired, kneeling […]

By on June 13, 2016

distracted

Let’s have some fun with this video featuring two narcissists whining at each other about the use of a cell phone in a stopped vehicle. It’s extra fun, because one of them is a cop!

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By on June 10, 2016

If you weren’t in on the secret, much of this morning’s presentation at the Park Hyatt Aviara would have made no sense. A series of four FCA personnel stood up to talk about the new 124 Spider, which was behind them to stage right. On stage left was a pristine Euro-bumpered 124 Sport Spider from […]

By on June 7, 2016

alternatives

“Just because you’re paranoid,” my father used to joke, “it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” WMATA, the metro rail system of Washington, DC, has long been infamous for subpar service, indifferent adherence to schedule, and a truly staggering amount of crime that includes over 100 reported felony assaults in a four-year period.

Starting today, however, WMATA added a new nightmare for commuters who have already been brutalized into submission: the “SafeTrack” program that features maintenance “surges” to replace dangerous and degraded sections of railway. The resulting closures and delays have riders looking for alternatives to WMATA — but isn’t WMATA supposed to be an alternative to owning and operating a private automobile? What’s at the end of this “alternative” rabbit hole?

But if you needed another reason to quit WMATA besides WMATA asking you to quit, there’s a very good “alternative” reason out there as well: roving gangs of rapists.

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By on June 6, 2016

20160604_203845

Okay, I admit: I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It’s not really for me; Mrs. Baruth works in finance. (Without which, as you pimps and players out there should know, there’s no romance.) Rarely do I read the whole thing. This past Saturday afternoon, however, I broke the pull-cord of my son’s TopKart. Then he ran out of gas for his motorcycle. Which consigned us both to an early afternoon inside the house, because I was too lazy to address either situation.

Imagine my surprise to find an advertisement for an independent leasing agent in the last of the Saturday sections, back among the lifestyle articles and the usual Dan Neil attempt to sound like a more fey version of Oscar Wilde. Those members of the B&B who were born prior to the release of “Appetite For Destruction” will remember that stand-alone leasing shops were once very big business. They bought their cars from franchised dealers, often well after they’d obtained the customer’s signature on their own paperwork, and they relentlessly cross-shopped banks for rate and residual deals.

Often, these firms focused exclusively on members of the professional class; the big hitter in central Ohio during the ’80s was un-self-consciously titled “Physicians Leasing Co.” They were largely driven from the field by the beginning of this century by aggressive captive finance providers like BMW Financial. The tendency on the part of most banks to view the end-of-lease termination process as an additional and very lucrative profit center, a tendency that became more exaggerated as the prime rate fell and banking profits sank accordingly, didn’t help their business model one bit.

Nevertheless, here we are, in $THE_CURRENT_YEAR, with a manufacturer-agnostic leasing company advertising in the WSJ. So let’s see what the deals are, and what lessons we can learn from looking at them.

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By on June 3, 2016

check

The difference between genius and stupidity, they say, is that there is a limit to genius. How else can you can explain the latest brake checking crash video making the rounds?

But if you’re willing to limit your stupidity just a tiny bit, you can avoid being the next fellow who finds out the hard way about those steel cables in the middle of the freeway.

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By on June 1, 2016

equality

It’s common for younger and more progressive members of the B&B to lambaste me as a sort of grunting throwback to a past that never truly existed, a Triceratops grazing contentedly through a field of single mothers, pernambuco-necked guitars, and filets mignon while the participation-trophy-shaped asteroid of genderless, sexless, non-meritocratic, feelings-centric, pansy-assed Millennial culture streaks overhead to announce my impending doom. Maybe they’re right — but it doesn’t feel that way to me. The truth is that for most of my life I never really sympathized much with traditional Western culture or “caveman fragile masculinity” or any of that stuff.

When I was a young man, I saw myself as a progressive, non-traditional thinker. If there was a machine out there, so to speak, I wanted to rage against it. Obviously, I’m not exactly Charleston Heston, you know? I listen to disco music and order lime green cars and refer to Robert Bly every chance I get. Yet, here I am, taking a last stand against the overwhelming hordes of adult-kickball players and streaming-video addicts. If nobody else is going to stand up for the culture that lifted us from the caves of Altamira to the Manhattan Project, then I’m going to do it. You could argue that I’m in the position of the last Byzantine emperors: making a last-ditch stand to preserve a system to which I was not born.

With all of this in mind, I’d like to sit down with all of you and take a serious, considered look at the video below the jump. I’d like to argue that it represents several important trends in modern culture — trends of which many TTAC readers approve in theory but might be surprised to see taken to their logical extremes.

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