Electrek Will Not Be Taking Questions Today

If you’re not familiar with Electrek, go here and read all about Frederic Lambert, the “Editor-in-Chief and Main Writer” at Electrek (according to his unintentionally hilarious LinkedIn page) and his ethically-challenged mindset and probably-illegal behavior.

Since Freddy’s behavior has helped him make more than Donald Trump, he’s starting to act like the POTUS on Twitter by blocking anybody who says anything negative about him or the site. Actually, cancel that—you don’t even have to be negative. He’s just blocking errybody out here.

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Ghosted, Buster

A few right-of-center blogs are having a field day with a certain Ms. Aimee Lutkin and her borderline heartbreaking story entitled “When Can I Say I’ll Be Alone Forever?” Ms. Lutkin, a writer for Jezebel, has openly and honestly spoken about her inability to find love or even consistency in a relationship. In the above-linked article, she writes that

It’s your life, and a life that confuses and depresses people… I wanted to cry at that dinner table, because keeping up the farce that I’m still waiting means staying still. It means diminishing the life I do lead, which is a good one. I’ll never be free to say that I’m alone forever, only that I’m in a holding pattern until real life begins.

The alt-right take on her predicament is obvious: a not-terribly-attractive woman “rides the carousel” until the music stops and then she has to face the consequences of her decisions. The feminist take is equally predictable: she’s a strong woman who “used men for sex” and just needs to get back in the habit of dating so she can be fulfilled again. The question of whether or not “casual dating” is fulfilling for a woman as she heads towards her fifties and sixties is never asked, because it’s irrelevant to young feminists and terrifying to old ones.

So far, none of this is terribly interesting. Here’s what is interesting: what she did to try to fix her loneliness problem, and why it failed to work.

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Ask You: What About Podcasts?

jack baruth mark baruth

In today’s version of Ask You, I ask you: would you listen to a Riverside Green podcast?

I can already hear my brother moaning about this, despite the fact that I’m currently 200+ miles away from him.

Podcasts are awful. Nobody is good at them. I can write three articles in the time it takes to do one podcast.

He’s not wrong. Podcasts take a lot of time to do, and the ROI isn’t great. But I still think they’re fun.

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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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1987 Lincoln Town Car Stars & Stripes Edition – What A Luxury Car Used To Be

In 1987, Lincoln was making hay while the sun shined. After the drastic downsizing of arch-rival Cadillac, which started in 1985 with their FWD Fleetwoods and DeVilles then continued with mini-me Eldorados and Sevilles in 1986-87, Lincoln was poised to take advantage by offering some traditional American luxury!

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Less-Than-Great Santini Edition

What follows is both setup and excuse: On Saturday night, John and I went to Ray’s MTB Park in Cleveland. I brought two bikes with me: my 20″ wheel skatepark bike and my 20″ racing bike. The park bike was just there as a backup, so I didn’t prep it before loading the truck and heading out.

When we got there, John and I headed for the “pump track”, which he’s been using to practice for his BMX races. I went around a few times myself on the race bike and felt pretty good — until I pushed it a bit too far, lost traction in my front wheel, and crashed. I’d put brand-new tires on that bike a few days ago and I guess they were imperfectly scuffed and/or overinflated. Another run through confirmed that I didn’t have as much traction as I wanted. So I swapped back to the park bike.

A three-hour ride in the back of my Silverado had brought the pressure on the park bike’s tires pretty far down, to the point that it felt sluggish and difficult to ride. I should have gone and aired-up the tires but at that point we were running short of time and I didn’t want to waste ten of the remaining twenty-five minutes going out to the truck and getting the pump.

John asked me to take a GoPro video of him riding the pump track. Which I did, and I gave him a headstart so I wouldn’t run him down. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I couldn’t quite catch him. When he continued for a second lap, I fell behind to the point that the video wasn’t any good. I had to call a halt to the proceedings and start again, leading to the footage you see above.

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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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Zeno’s Left Arrow: A Story Of Interface Design

The more we understand about the human genome, the more we understand just how vague its directives truly are, and how thoroughly we are reliant on external forces and pressures to shape our eventual form. There was a time when we thought that DNA controlled everything about our appearance and that creating new species would simply be a matter of learning the language of the genome. Now we know that it is a combination of DNA, the rate at which various tissues can grow, and environmental effects, creating our eventual characteristics through the long and patient application of gravity, blood pressure, and so on. Human beings who grew up on the moon would be deformed; human beings who grew up under even light water pressure would be shaped differently. In outer space we might develop like the most horrifying teratomae, tumors with teeth, hair, and brain tissue intermixed to repugnant effect.

This is bad news for people who were charmed by John Varley’s Gaea Trilogy. In those books, the genetic wizard known as Gaea uses its mastery of DNA to create unbelievable creatures, ranging from the merely mythical (centaurs!) to the oddly inventive (creatures that grow film inside their bodies, use a lens to “shoot” with it, then excrete the film into the mouths of “producers” that develop the film in a chemical-bath stomach) to the batshit crazy (biological jet planes that grow, then fire, explosive rockets). We now know that DNA just doesn’t have that much creativity built into it. It relies on a lot of natural processes to direct development. You can have a pressurized poison gland, no problem; you’re not going to assemble cellulose film of a precise width in a series of mucous-secreting chambers.

In that way, potential DNA-manipulating superbeings are in the same position as engineers from what I think of the First and Second Eras Of Interface Design. The First Era was the era without electricity; think about the first person who created a hand-crank drill or the fellow who designed the first H-pattern manual-transmission shifter. The Second Era was the electromechanical, pre-general-purpose-microchip era; that would be the folks who came up with the astounding Nakamichi Dragon or the first remote-controlled cars. These engineers had some distinct limitations in designing the interface between their products and the human beings who would use them. Most of us think of those limitations as second nature because we grew up with them.

Consider the following example: If you’re a motorcyclist, you’ve no doubt had to stop short at some point while you were in a gear besides first or second. Once you’ve stopped, you then have to kick the gears down to neutral. That’s an example of a mechanical limitation at work. The obvious way for a shifter to work is this: If the motorcycle is stopped, pressing down should engage first gear every time, no matter what gear you were in when you stopped. But with a mechanical shifter, you can’t just magically “skip” gears. If you came to a halt in fourth, you need to kick down three times. Also, you’re expected to remember what gear you were in: comp-sci people call that “maintaining state”. An old-school motorcycle has no way of telling you what gear you’re in. You just have to know.

Well, we are now in the Third Era of Interface Design, where all those limitations have been removed. Virtually every interaction we have with a machine nowadays is moderated by a microchip. It doesn’t matter if you’re operating an automatic transmission, changing the temperature in your home, or choosing which song you want to hear next on your phone. You’re no longer directly connected. You express your wishes to the computer, and the computer decides how to make them happen. Which leads us, quite naturally, to Zeno’s Left Arrow.

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Ask You: What Do You Want To See Here in 2018?

As our first month of semi-commercialization wraps up here, I’m pleased to say that December 2018 is the highest traffic month we’ve ever had here at Riverside Green. In addition to increased content from the two of us Baruths, we also had outstanding content from Thomas Kreutzer, Freddy Hernandez, Michael Briskie, Rebecca Turrell, and Tom Klockau—in other words, we’ve become the most diverse kinda automotive site in the business without actually trying. Funny how that works!

For the first five years of this site’s existence, and even more so since I joined the masthead, we’ve never been particularly focused on driving traffic to our mutual vanity project. However, since we’re serving ads now, it is important that you’re seeing more of what you want to justify putting up with the occasional intrusion from ForeverSpin. So now that 2017 is winding down and 2018 is upon us, the question is simple: what would cause you to come see us more often in 2018?

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Did Trump Kill Obamacare? Depends On Whom You Ask

The Individual Mandate. Man, what a complicated and twisted path it’s taken.

Obama, himself, was against it before he was for it. in 2015, Vox said that it was “absolutely necessary” to making sure that Obamacare could be implemented. By forcing healthy individuals into the marketplace, it would lower the premiums for everybody else by spreading the cumulative risk around. If healthy people opted not to buy insurance, then the plan wouldn’t work.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled by the slimmest possible margin that the mandate was constitutional—not because the federal government can force people to buy a product, but because the federal government does have the right to compel individuals to pay tax—undermining candidate and President Obama’s promise that taxes on the middle class wouldn’t be raised under his administration.

So, despite every liberal in the world screaming at the top of his lungs that President Donald J. Trump is a “moron” and an “Orange Droolius,” Trump beat the Democrats at their own game with his tax plan, which he signed into law earlier this month. Rather than try to “repeal and replace,” an effort which has failed massively in the Senate, Trump decided to simply repeal the individual mandate tax. Say what you want about the guy, this was some brilliant shit.

But did it kill Obamacare?

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