Guest Post: Get Out There And Drive

About three times a year, on the big holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter) I am required by marriage to drive south from Louisville, Kentucky to Hodgenville for a family dinner with my wife’s extended family. This past Thanksgiving, I had recently purchased my 2016 Corvette and it was quite the conversation starter unlike my last car.

“I got a Corvette too!” My wife’s cousin exclaimed as we sat down to dinner. “Check out my license plate!”

He pulled out his iPhone and showed me his near-showroom condition 1998 Corvette convertible, complete with a pristine Torch Red paint job in a massive garage.

“Nice!” I replied. I then proceeded to get nerdy, because I felt a potential common bond forming. I am a man of passion, so when I find others share similar interest, I can’t help but get more into the conversation.

“Auto or manual? Does it have the Z51 package?” I inquired, hoping and praying I could not only learn the specifics of the car, but maybe something new about the C5 I didn’t know.

“It is an automatic, but it has an LS1! My license plate tells you it is a 1998 LS1!”

Uh oh.

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Guest Post: Consumerism Gone Cold

This Christmas, my sister sent my kids $25 Amazon gift cards.  Given the absolute bounty my children received, I promptly set these cards aside and, I am ashamed to admit, forgot about them until late last week when I finally thought to mention them.  The results were entirely predictable.  My son, who has a surprising amount of money in his piggy bank, calculated the amount as a part of his overall tally and, after considering his options, decided that the satisfaction of having so much cash outweighed the pleasure of anything that he might actually purchase.  My middle child, meanwhile, demanded that I immediately log into Amazon so that she could spend every last cent as quickly as possible while my youngest, still unclear on the concept of money, was just happy to sit beside her sister and examine the various toys that popped up.  In the end, however, no money was spent as I decided to use the opportunity for what I like to call, “a teachable moment.”

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Guest Post: Haiti Is A Shithole, From The Perspective of a Haitian

Please welcome my lifelong friend, Jadrice Toussaint, as he shares his thoughts on the alleged recent comments made by Donald Trump regarding Haiti—Bark

I’m Haitian, and I’m proud. As a matter of fact, as I write these words, I am in Haiti, celebrating my birthday with my friends and family. And I’ve asked all of them the following question: Why should we be upset as Haitians at Donald Trump for telling the truth? Because he’s right—Haiti is a “shithole.”

We Haitians are amazing and wonderful people. I do find it appalling that a president, who is supposed to be an example as a leader, should make these statements.But for him to say that Haiti is a shithole…well, think about it.

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Guest Post: Red State, Grey Market

(Many thanks to Michael Briskie for some insight on this! — JB)

The import/export business can be confusing – just ask George Costanza. What used to be American-as-apple-pie brands like Cadillac and Buick are now putting Chinese built inventory into their patriotic showrooms, and the CT-6 Hybrid and Buick Envision are just the start. By next year, the Ford Focus will be on the list as well. This nonsensical supply chain is a head scratcher for sure, leaving us with new terms to understand like “domestic imports,” and “American designed.” However there is an even stranger case in the export markets. How can anyone explain why six figure luxury German SUVs manufactured at a Mercedes plant in Alabama, or a BMW factory in South Carolina, built by Americans and intended for Americans, end up being shipped by the tens of thousands bound for mainland China? The globalization meter is getting turned up to 11.

The other day a curious Craigslist post caught my eye while searching the classifieds for another bad financial decision. I had entered “Must Sell” in the home page keyword search, which if you don’t know, is the expert way to find interesting deals on wheels. Buried in between the listings of rotting MG’s and partially completed Chevy Nova restorations was a headline that proudly exclaimed “Luxury Auto Buyer — $3000 to $5000 per car!!!!” Along with it was a picture of a shiny Range Rover Sport.

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Guest Post: Enter The Bitcoin, Part Two

(Pete’s second post on Bitcoin is a sequel to his original post and my followup — JB)

So how does Bitcoin actually work?

It works by the voluntary association of peer-to-peer computer nodes all around the world, much like BitTorrent. Except whereas BitTorrent each carry slightly different files on them, each Bitcoin node carries the exact same data on its SSD, namely, a full history of all the Bitcoin transactions that have ever occurred on the network dating back to 2009. Having each node store all the transactions provides redundancy and decentralisation, while the fact that the overwhelming majority of nodes have their software tailored to the specific needs of their users provides ecosystem diversity in the face of Heartbleed and other 0 day exploits.

Within each full transaction history on each node, transactions are chunked into “blocks” that are no more than 1 MB in size with a median transaction being 227 bytes in size. There are now over 500,000 such blocks that are indelibly linked together to form a “blockchain,” which can be thought of as an append-only registry that keeps track of all the bitcoins in existence. Since this registry is public, Bitcoin “ownership” is therefore simply the ability to use one’s private key to demonstrate control of a piece of the blockchain by cryptographically signing a transaction. He who owns the keys, owns the kingdom, as it were. Once the transaction is signed, it’s broadcast to the other nodes on the network who ultimately relay the transaction to a miner. If the miner likes the look of the fee attached to the transaction (there is a competitive fee market, currently around $10 for a median-sized transaction), the miner incorporates that transaction into the next block he “discovers,” which is then appended to the longest chain.

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Guest Post: Enter The Bitcoin, Part Zero

(I’ve asked Pete Dushenski, of Contravex mild fame and arguing-on-this-site minor fame, to give our readers a sort of primer/polemic on cryptocurrency in general and Bitcoin in particular. We are starting with an introductory piece he’s written to get you up to speed. This afternoon I’ll be running a piece of my own to help you understand “hashes”, which are a big part of Bitcoin. Then tomorrow we will run the second part of the Bitcoin article. Many thanks to Pete for contributing this — JB)

When Jack asked me to write this, he told me that

Milton’s goal with Paradise Lost was “to explain the ways of God to man.” Here, you would be explaining the ways of the future to the merely present.

So,

What is Bitcoin ?

The future.

Is the future bright ?

Indeed!

How does Bitcoin work ?

Let’s find out.

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My First (Ass-Backwards) Track Day

Track Day Helmet

Some of you mentioned that you’d like to hear about more track stuff—so here’s more track stuff! Please welcome our newest Guest Writer, Steve Ulfelder!—Bark

Hot diggity, I thought as the alarm rattled me from Fangio dreams, the day is finally here! All the heel-toe practice, all the years watching racing on TV and wondering if I had what it took to push my car and myself to the limit, all the research about venues and sanctioning groups—the payoff was finally here in the form of My First Track Day!

<needle-scratching-record sound effect>

Nah. This is not that My First Track Day story (for which, I assume, you are grateful). I came at my own first track day the same way I approach most things in life: ass-backwards.

I spent a decade autocrossing, then 12 years in SCCA Club Racing. Though mediocre in both disciplines, I eventually became a solid racer. I was the guy at the front of the middle of the pack, unlikely to win but less likely to do anything stupid.

Mediocrity be damned: I was out there, doing it. All told, I must have run nearly 150 SCCA races.

How’d I manage to do this without ever trying a track day?

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Guest Post: A Time For Us and Ours

 

shelby charger

I’ve been watching with great interest as the photos from Jalopnik’s recent ‘Radwood” ‘80s and ‘90s car show come trickling out over the internet.  I’m happy to see that, after years of being overshadowed by the cars of the earlier decades, cars of this era are finally getting some love.  As a member of Generation X, I feel a special kinship with these cars and it’s not just because they were the cars I drove and/or lusted after back in the day.  No, it’s because I have, over the years, come to realize that when I look at these cars I am looking into a mirror.

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I, Billionaire

Welcome our good friend, Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez, whose YouTube channel all about old, cool cars and how to waste time and money on them is quickly approaching 150k subscribers. He’s also been a stablemate of mine at Jalopnik in the past. He’s here to share his thoughts on other subjects with us.—Bark

 

If an intrepid group of aliens were to visit Earth and evaluate the state of the country in all measurable metrics, then listen to how people actually perceive these metrics through the lens of media, they’d be right in turning their flying saucers right the hell around and hitting that old intergalactic dusty trail in search of more reasonable beings.

Now, unless you’re a soap opera character that just came out of a three-season coma, you have no excuse in knowing that news publications over the past decade have all but ditched the practice of presenting facts with authority and accountability, in favor of presenting a bias-confirming narrative with some half-truths sprinkled throughout long, laughably wrong partisan rants.

Whichever side of the political spectrum you’re on, you’ve likely seen spun stories about nothingburger events shared thousands of times over by the friends and relatives that are mad enough to click, but not mad enough to actually research past a headline with sharp teeth.

This is one such story, and while it’s clearly meant to provoke those with differing viewpoints, it comes across as ill-informed, and just the slightest bit sad. I’m referring to Hamilton Nolan’s “Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich,” posted on Splinter News, also known as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gawker.

Let’s go through this stinky onion layer by layer and try not to cry.

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