Weekly Non-Roundup: Fast And Furious Edition

This was an unusual week for me: I didn’t write anything! Nothing at all! Brother Bark did, so we are still having a roundup — but in order to fill the time and provide some material for discussion, I’ll offer a few articles which have come across my screen in the past week.

Before we get into that, however, we should note: today is the ninth anniversary of Brian Terry’s death.

Who was Brian Terry? He was the Border Patrol agent killed by a “gunwalked” AK-47. You can click the link to read more; you can also read the MediaMatters article which pins more blame on President Bush than on Obama or Holder. Regardless of which centrist President allowed more guns to hit the streets, however, it is difficult to deny the fact that the ATF basically facilitated the murder of American peace officers in an effort to, ah, well that’s not clear.

If that’s not frightening enough, try this chicken-and-egg analysis of declining divorce rates. What’s interesting to me is the odd duck(speak)-blind spot of the writer; it’s okay to say that people aren’t getting married because of declining economic prospects but it’s not okay to assert the reverse, that many of the declining economic outlooks out there are due to lowered marriage rates. I can easily recall a few times during my first marriage where we needed both of our incomes just to eat — and when I started making more money, that freed my wife of the time up to pursue a better career herself.

Next up: an at least half-cogent argument that bad art is chasing good art out of movie theaters on a global scale, thanks largely to capeshit and its discontents. The killer assertion is buried pretty deep, well past an odd genuflection towards the usual GaMeRgAtE wUz RaCiSt idiocy:

What superhero movies and violent video games aimed at 16-year-old boys and YA fiction novels for teenagers have in common is that they were once looked down upon by the culture at large and have since become market forces so supermassive that no individual’s objection to them means anything at all. Yet their adherents will tolerate no dissent, rushing to the barricades at the drop of a mean tweet.
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It’d be funny if it weren’t funny at all. Most of the time, corporations have to pay people to lay down this kind of Astroturf on their behalf. This is what nerds are now: a volunteer army of PR freelancers for the biggest media companies in the world, shouting down anybody who refuses to read “BLACK WIDOW EQUALS FEMINISM” or “BABY GROOT IS AWESOMESAUCE” off a cue card held by a dancing Spider-Man.

An educated person can easily make the riposte to this pearl-clutching that “high culture” was once anything but: Shakespeare’s plays were viewed by the “groundlings”, and a hundred years ago there was a riot at a classical concert. Yet I think it’s obvious to any perceptive observer that this is a continuum fallacy and unworthy of further discussion. The fact that a type of art may make the transition from “low art” to “high art” — consider how the blues has gone from an amusement for Southern prisoners to a scholastic discipline with eager and over-educated re-enactment — does not mean that there is no distinction between the two categories. The movies of the “MCU” are absolute and utter trash. Which is fine, because there’s a market for trash and it’s often satisfying to consume low culture, but that doesn’t exonerate or elevate Avengers: Endgame or Captain Marvel beyond their determinedly humble origins.

Last but not least, here’s a dystopian view of the unholy relationship between healthcare providers and Internet behemoths. Oh, and a reminder: your commercial DNA test isn’t very smart and it was probably done in China.

* * *

Brother Bark told TTAC readers to avoid used Benzes. I think Bark has his finger on the pulse of reality where TTAC’s reader base is concerned, but as a counterpoint I’ll mention that I found significant differences between the current S-Class and the recently-redesigned LS500.

34 Replies to “Weekly Non-Roundup: Fast And Furious Edition”

      • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

        Did you ride it or just sit on it? Because that’s an article I’d like to read. We are of an age (and similar build) – I can’t imagine riding that for more than a few minutes before my back would seize up. I would probably have to be surgically removed from the seat.

        And is there a hidden kick stand, or does it just balance like that?

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I rode it…. it’s in motion for that photo. To say it’s a challenge would be an understatement. I would not willingly take it above, say, 45mph.

          Reply
          • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

            Good camera – I Zapruder’ed the thing trying to figure out if you were moving.

            It does really look cool, but I can’t imagine trying to ride it (rider position aside). The steering geometry looks scary; and that low to the ground, you would basically be invisible to 90% of drivers.

    • Avatarbaconator

      Or me. 2002 S500 purchased dirt-cheap with 180k miles. Just sold it with 230k miles. Total cost of ownership over 5 years, including purchase price and subtracting out the sale proceeds, was just a touch over $200/month.

      Honestly, if you’re the sort of person who has to take the car to a mechanic for every single thing, *any* car made in the CAN-BUS and sensors-on-everything era will be a nightmare out of warranty. Our GMC truck would be a financial disaster if I took it to the dealer for every electrical glitch and suspension clunk.

      For those of use not afraid of a screwdriver and a search engine, 7-12-year old Benzes are great value.

      Reply
      • AvatarKevin Jaeger

        I put about 100k on a 2001 C class and it was a perfectly fine ride. Yeah, I had to get a yaw sensor from a junkyard to shut up a stability control warning and I replaced some suspension components that likely wouldn’t have been required on a Camry. But it was a fine highway cruiser and not at all difficult to maintain.

        But I guess someone needs to feed the TTAC crew their daily diet.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          In Bark’s defense, he has to assume that the person will buy as much Benz as they can “afford”, which means they won’t be able to maintain it.

          The problem with a used S-Class isn’t always the maintenance, it’s the combination of the price and the maintenance.

          Put another way — my Milan couldn’t have any kind of mechanical failure that I couldn’t easily cover. The same wouldn’t be true if I bought a used Ferrari 458.

          Reply
          • AvatarKevin Jaeger

            Yes, true enough. There certainly are people who shouldn’t buy an old Benz – or an oil burning Milan, for that matter, if they don’t have the resources to deal with those types of issues.

          • Avatar-Nate

            And therein lies the rub :

            That shiny $2,000.00 Mercedes on the BHPH lot ? .

            It hasn’t had an oil change in ten years and almost no service at all since the original owners sold it on .

            My 1984 300CD has over 480,000 miles on it and runs fine, they only way it can do this is because I like to take the various fiddly bits apart and massage them back to health .

            One of my Foster boys ignored my strict warnings and bought a 5 year old Mercedes, it runs and gets him where he needs to go byt the amount of things on it that don’t work is staggering .

            In good conscience I cannot recommend any Mercedes over 6 years old .

            -Nate

          • AvatarBaconator

            That’s fair. I can’t defend a Mercedes as something as cheap to maintain as a Fusion – it’s still not. I *do* think that people underestimate the degree to which mechanics’ labor drives maintenance costs, as compared to parts costs.

            The internet has driven the cost of parts for all cars down further and further, while shops have managed to drive their rates well north of $100/hour, and upwards of $200/hour in some areas. (Not that this has raised the wages of the technicians themselves very much – a microcosm of everything else in America.) That has led to an equalization in the cost of running a 10-year-old Benz vs. a 10-year-old non-luxury vehicle.

        • AvatarHarry

          It isn’t just labor or parts cost over time, it is the fact that you can no longer replace parts, you have to replace entire assemblies, as the individual parts are not available. That is where the home mechanic who provides the labor can save beaucoup Deutschmarks. I can’t recall how many thousands of dollars the Mini dealer wanted for replacing my wiring harness and DME when there was an oil leak (fixed under recall) that through capillary action damaged the DME. I was able to disassemble the DME, clean, and in one case splice in and replace a connector in the harness in about 5 hours for under $100 in parts.

          I get that for a garage replacing the spring/strut at a unit is just plain quicker, to the point that they charge more to replace a strut individually. But in my case, the parts cost was worth many tens of hours of labor. It was absurd.

          Reply
    • AvatarGreg Hamilton

      Hey I bought I used cheap Mercedes when I was in college. My friend and I would alternate playing the chauffeur whilst the other sat in the back. I was immediately granted membership in the Mercedes club at work where we all patted ourselves on the back on how smart we were. It cost $2800. I sold it two years later for $2500. Fun times.

      Reply
  1. AvatarCJinSD

    Holder and Obama walked guns to justify stripping us of the constitutional protections they took oaths to uphold. It may be mean-spirited of me given my perspective, but I’m watching Netflix’s ‘Flint” documentary series. Watching these poor people living in a Democrat dystopia and regurgitating anti-Trump talking points is…I don’t know what it is. Trump is a better man than me, because he actually tries to help all Americans regardless of how undeserving they might seem of his efforts.

    Reply
    • AvatarKevin Jaeger

      One of life’s great mysteries is how that gun running episode passed largely unnoticed and certainly without anyone ever being held accountable. On the surface the idea that the feds were deliberately selling weapons to the Mexican cartels seems too bizarre to be believed, but once it was established you’d think the least we should expect is some real accountability for those who did such a thing. It’s the kind of scandal that would have drawn bipartisan outrage at one time, but we live in unusual times.

      I watched the Flint series a while ago and had a similar reaction. We see the full dysfunction of daily life in Flint on display and then see the bizarre level of near hysteria – my god if a Republican president is elected something BAD might happen. There must be some kind of name for that in psychology terms.

      Reply
      • Avatarsgeffe

        “Republican Derangement Syndrome?”

        Does Bark have ANY pull at all to get the asinine comment system fixed at TTAC? The system was 20 years out of date, but you could “bookmark” a thread in the comments, then link back to it, and leaving a comment would take you back to your comment. All that’s gone, for some ridiculous functionality which pulls the next article in the line-up, and you have to click a “Read all comments” button to see anything, then have to scroll or search to find your place again! Infuriating, to say the least!

        Reply
    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “Watching these poor people living in a Democrat dystopia and regurgitating anti-Trump talking points is… I don’t know what it is”

      Unfortunately, most people are simply unable to think beyond the narratives and manipulation constructed for them. Obviously this applies to sheeple on the left and right, but it’s the left that has the most influence in media, music, movies, television, etc. Thus, it’s the left – and Democrats – that have the most numerous and reliable partisans…

      Specifically, compare the Flint crisis to the Hurricane Katrina crisis… they may seem unrelated at first, but hear me out: each city suffered a chain of failures at the local/state/federal levels. In both New Orleans and Flint, local governments were completely incompetent, the states tried to fix it but couldn’t, and the federal agency (FEMA in LA, the EPA in MI) failed to prevent/mitigate each crisis despite having oversight and regulatory authority.

      Now examine the political fallout from each… New Orleans: Democrat Mayor->Democrat Governor->Republican President. The blame went right to the top… despite the egregious incompetence of Mayor Nagin/Gov Blanco, and Bush’s efforts to disregard politics and focus on the problem, the Bush administration bore the brunt of public outrage, thanks mostly to the media’s campaign to pin responsibility for Katrina on him. Flint: Democrat Mayor->Republican governor->Democrat President. Now, the federal government “magically” escapes any blame despite lapses in oversight and an inadequate response once the crisis set in… the media campaign instead focuses on Gov Snyder instead of elevating to President Obama, or more appropriately in either case, placing the blame squarely on the incompetence of local politicians.

      So that’s what it is… in Flint, in Baltimore, in Detroit, in New York, in San Francisco, in Los Angeles. That’s the power of propaganda… the manipulated and woke love their overlords directly responsible for the miserable conditions in their cities, and hate those who dare to deliver them from it.

      Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      I’m not sure that the Flint water crisis can be attributed to Democrats running the city or the Republican governor at the time. This was a failure of government at all levels, the city employees running the Flint water system, the Flint city council and mayor that opted to stop buying water from Detroit (which some say gouges other communities for water – though I have to say that Detroit’s tap water is very good) and move to the regional consortium that was building a new water system (in part as a jobs program), the state Dept of Environmental Quality which told the Flint water system it didn’t neccesarily have to add anticorrosives to the water drawn from the Flint River, and the Federal EPA which gave unclear direction to the state DEQ. That’s putting aside the state officials who screwed up once the presence of lead was known, some of whom are being prosecuted for alleged crimes.

      As it happens, because this was a generalized failure of government, including plenty of Democrats as well as Republican, the people who love government, i.e. Democrats, want to obscure that fact and blame former Gov. Snyder and his administration.

      By the way, there are plenty of Michigan communities whose kids are being exposed to higher levels of lead than in Flint, but that news didn’t get much attention.

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        That first sentence should have been: “I’m not sure that the Flint water crisis can be solely attributed to Democrats running the city or just the Republican governor at the time.”

        Reply
  2. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    I’m not a doctor, and I didn’t play one on TV, so I guess I’m lucky in that out in the woods where I live, there are still doctors who deal in that mysterious stuff known as “cash”. I have tried the “self diagnose” in the past and was quite certain I had leprosy, gout, and glaucoma at various times.
    And for what its worth, I will NOT have one of those spy devices, be it Alexa, Ring, Nest or any other snooping device, other that this stupid box I’m typing on at the moment, in my house.

    Reply
  3. AvatarPaul M.

    I think concept of luxury has passed Mercedes sedans by. At least in America. Here large SUVs rule. A Range Rover is what the old BMWs were (sporty). A G55 is the closest luxury Mercedes there is. An Escalade or new Navigator are imposing in a way no Mercedes GLE or BMW X7 are. And last for those few adherents to European snobbery of BMWs past, that don’t drive Ranger Rovers or G55s, there is Tesla. That pretty much covers the luxury segment with one distinction. The luxury truck. This is a segment that didn’t use to exist but now a fully loaded RAM, is simply a luxury car that also has a bed, as does a Ford F150/F250 King Ranch. A Denali brand also brings with it a certain snobbery and look at me you poor sad Chevy and Toyota people.

    Reply
    • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

      John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles for me.

      After seeing Blues Brothers for the first time, I chased everything that I could find from them. Thankfully, my local Public Library had a pretty big selection of blues albums (and record players with headphones). So I could listen to my heart’s content.

      Reply
      • Avatardejal

        Ray Charles and “America, The Beautiful” brings tears to my eyes. That should be the national anthem AND SUNG THAT WAY. Unfortunately, that means very few could sing it. Just looked it up on Youtube, yeah, I’m tearing up. The man put his guts into everything he sang.

        Reply
  4. Avatarhank chinaski

    Holder was awful. One of his other infamous actions was refusing to prosecute blatant, financial industry malfeasance because it might make their stock go down and hurt the economy.

    TTAG re-re-ran your Bren 10 piece again and dated it yesterday.

    Like the capeshit Scorsese disparaged, what was ‘the Irishman’ but a franchise sequel to Goodfellas (or it’s near clone, Casino)? Not to say they’re bad films, but both could be considered ‘Godfather’ fanfic.

    We were happy enough with our early aught C-class for about a decade. It was once kind enough to wait until reaching our driveway at the end of a road trip to throw its idler pulley .

    Reply
    • AvatarBaconator

      “The Irishman” was a documentary. That stuff actually happened, or was represented in the book “I Hear You Paint Houses” as being fact and fact-checked as much as possible by the book’s author. That makes it more than just another gangster movie.

      Reply
      • Avatarhank chinaski

        I won’t dispute that, as Henry Hill and Frank Rosenthal (Ace Rosenstein) were real individuals as well. But stylistically similar films with shared casts, themes and audiences run a similar playbook to the MCU and related franchises. Production costs being what they are, ROI is king which means familiarity and predictability and catering to at least one core fanbase. In the case of the MCU and SW, they currently hook a second reliable group: the woke non-white-male-cis crowd out to make a point. It will work until it doesn’t, when the core fanbase moves on, the franchise runs out of taboos to break and fails.

        As an aside, the recent Korean film ‘Parasite’ is worth a look (this year’s Veloster in film, heh).

        Reply

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