Weekly Roundup: The Long Shadow Of Mr. Beast Killed 300 Kitchens Edition

If I have to explain Mr. Beast to you, chances are you won’t get it — but I’ll try anyway, just so you understand why my son and I paid fifty bucks to wait an hour and a half for ten bucks’ worth of food, and perhaps so we all understand the occasionally unpleasant aspects of the Internet a bit better.

Or, if you have a male child under the age of fifteen, you can ask him to explain it better. You don’t? Alright, here goes.

Mr. Beast, a 22-year-old college dropout, is to YouTube what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar. He understands it at a fundamental, intrinsic level. Once upon a time, movie studios had something called “high concept”, which was a way of saying you have to be able to explain a movie in a single sentence. (The so-called “elevator pitch” is a corporate-toady version of this.) Mr. Beast takes the high concept and turns it into maximum high concept, a single idea taking the place of plot or story. The video that brought him to the attention of the public was “Counting to 100,000”, and much of his work follows in this semi-autistic vein (“I PUT 100 MILLION ORBEEZ IN MY FRIEND’S YARD”). Other videos feature him giving away money (“I’LL PAY FOR ANYTHING YOU CAN FIT IN THE CIRCLE”, “I BOUGHT EVERYTHING IN THE GROCERY STORE.”) He is hugely popular with young people, particularly young Internet-raised boys, who naturally resonate to the OCD, counting-to-numbers-and-spending-big-numbers aesthetic of his channel. He has given away millions of dollars on YouTube and along the way has earned something like $25 million for himself.

Here in the car business, we think Doug DeMuro is a pretty big deal in the video-clown game because he has 3.5 million subscribers; Mr. Beast has almost fifty million. Last week, they all bought hamburgers, which brings us to the, ahem, meat of this story.

The idea behind Mr Beast Burger is about as Modern Internet Capitalism as you can get. It’s a “virtual restaurant” available in most major cities across the country. You buy your meal through the Mr. Beast app (of course there is an app) or via DoorDash/Grubhub (but not Uber Eats, at least not where I live.) The menu is extremely simple, with about eight choices in total.

Standing up the 300-plus Mr. Beast “locations” would be the work of a couple years and a few billion dollars, but Mr. Beast gets around that problem through the simple expedient of leveraging existing capital — to wit, the hundreds of sit-down chain restaurants that are currently floundering because of government restrictions on eating inside. (Or, in the case of California, eating anywhere but your home; if you want to gather and party without masks, the only acceptable reason is a totally spontaneous and not in any way planned Biden victory parade.) A company called Virtual Dining Concepts contacted restaurants to ask if they wanted some additional business. The founder of VDC is also an executive for Earl Enterprises, which owns Bravo! Italian Kitchen and Buca di Beppo, so all of those locations have signed up. Of course, they have zero experience with this kind of food.

Remember that last sentence, it will prove to be important later.

Mr. Beast launched his “restaurants” in his typical fashion, by giving away cash and iPads to the first customers. Then he asked all of his followers to give his burgers a try. Let’s do some numbers real quick. Mr. Beast has about 150,000 fans for each one of these “virtual restaurants”. To put this in perspective, imagine that Manhattan had… ten restaurants, and Brooklyn had fifteen.

Do you think that would be a problem?

And so it has proved with Mr. Beast Burger. The various online forums for DoorDash and GrubHub drivers have blossomed with nightmare conditions; being told to wait for over an hour, “red zones” where you have to accept Mr. Beast orders and deliver them before you can do anything else, and furious customers who rather naturally don’t feel like tipping for a two-hour wait time between order and delivery. One Reddit thread detailed a considerable number of people whose burgers were almost entirely uncooked. Another told of over twenty GrubHub drivers packing the parking lot of a Bravo, multiple orders in hand, while two cooks struggled to deliver one order every ten minutes.

I didn’t know any of this last week when my son asked if he could have a Mr. Beast meal. I did know that it was expensive, well above premium burger places like Shake Shack or Five Guys. Our meal was $43 plus tip, for two of us. That got us one burger, two grilled cheese sandwiches, two orders of fries, two cookies, and no drinks. We waited almost 100 minutes for the food. When it arrived it was the same temperature as the outside air, which was to say about thirty-seven degrees F, so I reheated everything and we sat down to chow.

Speaking truthfully, I’ve had worse meals, although most of them were served in various educational and/or correctional facilities. John, on the other hand, thought it was just great, and he told me he couldn’t wait to order again. I considered the fact that my son, who on many occasions eats like the proverbial bird, had just consumed an entire double burger on the cusp of what would be a much-needed growth spurt, and I ruefully agreed that we’d make the Mr. Beast call again in the future.

No doubt Mr. Beast will become even richer after all this is done — there could be a million dollars’ or more worth of highly-profitable orders coming in every day — but since I have no financial stake in the enterprise what fascinates me is the multiple ways in which our fundamentally broken society has made the whole thing possible.

Start with Mr. Beast himself. Most of his viewers, just like (whisper it) most of DeMuro’s visitors, are children and/or people in foreign countries who are almost worthless from an advertising perspective — but YouTube doesn’t give its advertisers a lot of freedom or leeway. If you want to reach a few legitimate buyers, you have to show a lot of ads for VRBO and luxury watches to ten-year-olds. The clients put up with it because YouTube is the only game in town.

YouTube is the only game in town because it is widely considered to be a money pit for Alphabet, its evil owner; after losing billions of dollars a year for a decade, Alphabet now claims YouTube is profitable, but it doesn’t disclose exactly how, and it merges YouTube revenue with other enterprises in its reporting. The clued-in crowd on the Internet thinks that Alphabet subsidizes YouTube for two reasons:

0. To have monopoly power in the online advertising space;
1. For reasons of social and societal control.

YouTube is well-known for the ferocity with which they “demonetize”, even mildly conservative political outlets, but it’s more than that; the company’s crusade against “gun vloggers” is so jihad-esque that it’s swept up airgun and airsoft channels in its wake. (Demonetization, for those of you who don’t know, means that YouTube keeps showing ads on your stuff, but they keep the money instead of giving you a cut.) Imagine having your airsoft channel defunded because of “concerns about violence”. You can get shot directly in the face with an airsoft and not die. I know it because my son has shot me in the face with his airsoft gun. Twice.

Your humble author believes, and has told everyone who will listen, that cars are next on YouTube’s list. Nearly every entity that attempts to regulate guns (or tobacco) eventually gets around to the regulation of cars. When the car channels are demonetized, there will be a lot of HUGELY SURPRISED PEOPLE out there. Don’t be. You’ve been warned, right here.

In any event, Alphabet is willing to put a nine-figure sum behind YouTube just to retain control of the situation. This is not the type of behavior typically associated with Good People, although those of us who can even remember Google’s famous “Don’t Be Evil” slogan are now a vanishing breed.

(A brief aside: In retrospect, it was mind-numbingly naive of those of us in the Free Software and Open Source communities to ever support or even tolerate Google. Our sworn enemy, Microsoft, was a crummy company filled with crummy people but its primary goal, that of controlling and profiting from computer operating-system software, seems very tame now compared to the ways in which “Alphabet” openly manipulates everything from public opinion to American elections.)

What do YouTube’s transfer payments from bewildered advertisers to Mr. Beast have in common with Mr. Beast’s “virtual restaurant” idea? In both cases, modern computing technology is used to obscure the reality of a situation, at a non-zero human cost. Alphabet is a massive parasite with its proboscis embedded deeply in the carotid artery of nearly every American business. You’d be a fool not to advertise with Google (and its equally equal rival, Facebook) because without them you’ll lose much of your audience — but the tech companies can charge you whatever they want and give you whatever they want, shielded by an algorithm. The days of advertising being “buying a billboard and being able to drive by it in order to check the value you’ve gotten for money” are long gone.

Similarly, the Mr. Beast Burger restaurant is an expensive, parasitical idea laid on top of existing restaurants and their employees, none of whom had any idea that they were about to go from working in a fine-ish-dining Italian kitchen to a fast-food takeout burger joint, literally overnight. But what are they going to do? Find another place to work in December of 2020? If they do, they’ll just be replaced, because the official opinion of today’s managerial and executive class is that only the software matters. In this modern paradigm, all you have to do is get the app right and the messy, unpleasant people/facilities/work beneath the app will just happen by magic.

We’ve tried this as a society before, most notably in the AT&T breakup and utility “degregulation” of the Eighties and Nineties. In both cases, the assumption was that the oily Morlock bits of telephone switches, power plants, transmission lines, and whatnot would just work while all the real effort and energy went into finding new ways to sell and manage the command infrastructure above them. That’s how you got the Grandma Millie Enron call and today’s “new normal” of rolling brownouts or whatever’s happening in California. It’s a calculated strategy of not giving a shit about how things actually work, secure in the belief that you can distort reality enough in the short run to make your millions and get out.

Our world is increasingly a world of abstractions laid one on top of another until the reality of the situation on the ground is completely obscure. In some areas, like modern computing, you just throw processing power at the stupid idea (Kubernetes, anyone?) until it creaks along anyway, kind of like how you can make a 5,000-pound SUV fast and agile if you throw $60k of driveline and suspension at it a la Durango Hellcat. In other areas, like restaurants or utilities or phone service, you can’t really do that. Thus, a 100-minute wait for a cold hamburger.

It’s the Western equivalent of chabuduo, perhaps made worse because it provides even more incentives to the wrong people. It can’t last forever; eventually the power will literally go out and people will discover the importance of paying attention to the basics. In the meantime, there will be a lot of YouTube algorithms, a lot of abstraction layers, a lot of chilly forty-dollar hamburgers. If I have to explain it any further, you won’t get it.

* * *

This week, for Hagerty, I reviewed the mighty G90. Some people think it’s a true-from-the-ground-up luxury sedan with no compromises, while others think it’s Korean junk. I also released a new What If, this one being a joy both to commission and write!

88 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: The Long Shadow Of Mr. Beast Killed 300 Kitchens Edition”

  1. Tom KlockauTom Klockau

    In other news, last week I crossed Checkpoint Charlie at the Mississippi River to the free state of Iowa and ate like a totally normal person at a local Italian restaurant…

    Reply
  2. Avatardejal

    Odysee right now may be the refuge of Youtube outcasts. At one time the name was owned by Google. It seems to be a decentralized video platform. I think it is the consumer face of LBRY.

    “For those who don´t know, LBRY is a decentralized blockchain protocol that allows for the creation of apps where you can upload videos and earn crypto for them. You can upload documents, audio files. It paints itself as an alternative to social media sites like youtube. Content is usually protected from censorship and demonetization.”

    Many run to Bitchute. Which is fine if you know what you are looking for. Very frustrating for browsing new stuff from new people. Happened to be down a bit earlier today.

    Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      I had honestly never heard of bitchute until one of the youtube podcasts I had watched a portion of got pulled a while back. The host had Alex Jones on which I had only vaguely heard of, so I thought I’d give it a watch/listen. Luckily the host backed the thing up on bitchute.

      Reply
  3. AvatarJohn C.

    On the G90 Jack joins in on the full court push for the Koreans. He speaks a lot of a nod to this and a nod to that aspect of old luxury cars reflected here. What is missing is the same thing that was missing from all the newly bigger Japanese sedans from 30 years ago. There is no sense that the were designed for the unique and interesting successful Korean, who had certain needs and sensibilities that are reflected in the cars design. Think how different even the same size Seville was from the XJ6 or the W116 450SE. The worldwide fans of each could argue strengths and faults for hours but I think basically understood that each was serving the intended buyer well.
    In the Japanese tradition of the 78 Cressida, the 86 Legend, the 93 Gs300, the 2006 M45, that the auto testers assured us were game changers, the Koreans have served up a committee designed car, designed for the crazy rich Korean man only tendentially. It will serve as a loaded up middle class driver with no experience with actual luxury, except perhaps a broken down old one he couldn’t afford to maintain. but thinks size and ge whiz features will make him feel like he is big pimpin driving it. It is true that that all the luxury makers are off track, but this car will not lead them out of the cabbage field

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s well known that the LS400, Project F-For-Flagship, was a direct millimeter-for-millimeter copy of the W126 S-Class in many dimensions. Which is fine, because the LS400 was never meant for Japanese consumption. That’s why Toyota made, and makes, the Century, which is tailored to the needs of its owners.

      The G90 is more Century than LS400. It’s obviously Korean from stem to stern. It indulges itself in any number of oddities, from the shifter to the rear console to the absolutely unique wheels. Overseas it’s used for government and executive transport, and the contrast between the dimensions of the front seat and rear seat reflects that.

      For the record, I’d prefer not to “push for the Koreans” here. Both GM and Ford elected to abandon this market a long time ago: GM when they canceled the C-body Fleetwood in 1993, and Lincoln when they decided to optimize the Town Car for the livery and NYC markets. Now that both firms have abandoned their midsized CT6 and Continental they aren’t even competing with the G80, much less the G90.

      As noted in the review, it’s shameful that the Koreans currently make the only full-sized American luxury car. Having had two full-sized Lincolns in the past decade (Town Car from 2010-2014 and MKT from 2018-now) I’ll be very sorry when it’s time to go shopping in a market with zero American presence.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        I agree that the domestics abandoned this market. Lets go further and ask why do we deserve special offerings? Think back to the 70s. The Germans had built back beyond what anyone could have imagined, within their peaceful limitations. The British had a few, trying to keep it going, with no empire and broke. The Americans, bending over backwards to prove that they would be be British, though even more just to the world’s losers. With all three of our current generation trying to figure out what the cold burger guy did, how to make it beyond using old infrastructure, should we really be surprised by the G90. Am I the only one who noticed with delight that Jack’s son John wanted to eat a cheeseburger? There is hope.

        Reply
    • AvatarScottm

      I lived in Korea for 3 years and trust me, Genesises (Genesi?) are definitely CEO grade. They sell a long wheelbase version that is designed for executive transport with enough room in the back seat for naraebang including $300 bottles of $50 scotch and scantily clad girls to keep the CEO and his lieutenant entertained. Genesis is an aspirational brand in Korea and you are treated as such when you arrive in one.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        A real gentleman will be be with his friends debating who can play John Buchan’s John Macnab tomorrow. A crook with strippers is welcome to his G90.

        Reply
        • AvatarScottm

          John, you are being your usual deliberately obtuse self. You focused on my attempt at a humorous description of the size of the rear seat while ignoring my main point. You commented that this was not really designed for the Korean 1%. I say you are wrong, and in Korea this is most certainly aimed at the 1% that want Korean-made luxury. And it hits the mark.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            Actually I was imagining a world where a Korean 1 percent had something unique to bring their masses and the wider world. Among those 1 percent were Korean auto designers that could capture that spirit in automotive form. This would be how a rising country would join the club.

            Jack suggests we take Korea seriously as a luxury car maker. I suggest that this car was built by pimps and fakers for pimps and fakers. You then say this car is spot on for Korean style pimps and fakers. Your argument is with him not me.

        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          By all means, yes, let’s go back to John C’s idyllic age, when real gentlemen had real mistresses and real bastards.

          Reply
          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            The problem is thinking that society has betters. The difference between you and me is that I recognize that the folks you admire are just as much pimps as the ones you look down on and like 18th century French aristocrats, they just cover up the stench with perfume.

          • AvatarJohn C.

            Don’t you think that Lyons, Mitchel, and Geiger were better than the G90 designers with those traditional Korean names Peter Schreyer and Luc Donkerwolke. I don’t think its a close call.

          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            Don’t you think that Lyons, Mitchel, and Geiger were better than the G90 designers with those traditional Korean names Peter Schreyer and Luc Donkerwolke. I don’t think its a close call.

            I don’t think you’ll find me saying, anywhere, that Hyundais and Kias look better than Jaguars. However, you do know that it was Malcolm Sayer who designed the E-Type, not Lyons, don’t you? I happen to prefer Sergio Pininfarina’s Series III XJ to Lyon’s original, a great design made even better, like having a nice suit properly tailored.

            As for Bill Mitchell being a “better”, according to Detroit lore, he once had to send out an associate to go get $1,000 cash out of the bank to pay the seven hookers who entertained him in his office at lunchtime, He had a notoriously vulgar mouth. According to a now retired senior GM designer, when I asked him if it was true that Mitchell was vulgar, he told me that when he once drew an over-the-top concept for a muscle car, Mitchell said to him, “Just because you fuck around on your wife is no reason to leave your dick hanging out in the open for everyone to see.” You also must remember that Mitchell also had a lot of very talented people working for him.

            Regarding Friedrich Geiger, the pagoda M-B sports cars are perfection on wheels, and Geiger lead M-B styling then, but it was Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi who actually designed the W113 cars. To paraphrase Steve Earle, I’ll climb on the hood of Geiger’s 300SL with my boots on and insist that its “eyebrow” wheel arches look superfluous and tacked on.

          • AvatarJohn C.

            Good stories! I wonder how much our Korean friends had to send their associate to the bank for in order to bring in the Europeans after their own local designers couldn’t come up with a darn thing even after selling so many cars worldwide for 30+ years. Thinking back, they were mostly Mitsubishis.

            Jack is there some sort of embargo on the info or is it just rude to important advertisers to mention in a road test that Hyundai/Kia have to outsource their design tasks?

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            important advertisers
            IMPORTANT advertisers
            IMPORTANT ADVERTISERS

            Do you see any ads on the Hagerty website? Any ads whatsoever? Oh, wait, here’s an ad — it’s for Hagerty Insurance.

            I have never been so non-beholden to automotive PR as I am now, and that includes my time at TTAC. Even if Hyundai offered to advertise with us, we’d have no idea how to place the ads or take the money. It might be illegal for us to do it, thanks to insurance regulations.

            You’re correct that Hyundai/Kia has hired in out-of-country or out-of-corporation design talent, the same way that Volkswagen did with Giugiaro, the same way Lamborghini and Ferrari have done with virtually every single important and memorable car they’ve ever built, the same way that Audi did when they hired American student Freeman Thomas to design the TT, the same way Bentley did when they hired the Dutchman who then went on to design the G90… oh, then you had J Mays, who designed cars for VW Group and then Ford…

            To my knowledge, General Motors is probably the only car company in the world to rely almost exclusive on homegrown talent. That’s how they got the Sting Ray, the Nomad, the Aztek, and the Envoy XUV. A little hit and miss.

          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            Jack is there some sort of embargo on the info or is it just rude to important advertisers to mention in a road test that Hyundai/Kia have to outsource their design tasks?

            In the 1950s, Ghia built most of Chrysler’s concept cars in Italy and in some cases they contributed the designs as well. Of course it went both ways, Ghia sold Virgil Exner’s design to VW for the Karmann Ghia.

          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            To my knowledge, General Motors is probably the only car company in the world to rely almost exclusive on homegrown talent. That’s how they got the Sting Ray, the Nomad, the Aztek, and the Envoy XUV. A little hit and miss.

            Back when Pratt was the only school of design in America, long before CCS and Art Center, before one could get professional training as a car designer (well, not counting Andrew Johnson’s correspondence school), GM started the Fisher Body Craftsmens’ Guild, ostensibly a scholarship contest for teen boys, who had to build a model of the Fisher coach to qualify for the original design competition. More importantly, the Guild was a means by which GM could identify talent to later hire. Many of the winners of the competitions went on to careers working for GM as well as the other automakers, like Chuck Jordan, who headed GM styling before Ed Welburn.

            It wasn’t only styling. GM liked to do things the GM way. GM had their own in-house engineering and management college, the General Motors Institute, in Flint, now Kettering University. In the 1960s and ’70s, if you got into GMI out of high school you were pretty much guaranteed a job for life at GM if you graduated.

            Michael Lamm and Dave Holls book on American automotive styling discusses how in the 1930s, GM would put new designers through a training program on designing things for manufacturing, like designing hoods and roofs so they could be nested to stack multiple parts on one pallet, to save shipping costs.

          • AvatarJohn C.

            I don’t deny being old fashioned, but it seems like a good thing when a brand’s signature look comes from in house. I knew early on Hyundai used compromised from what he drew Gugiaro style on their fake Colts and Galants in the 80s but would have thought they were doing more for themselves by now. I had heard stories of American 18 year olds sending drawings in the 1950s to Harley Earle and being responded to with job offers and a little cash to get to Detroit and buy a suit. I know GM is way too far gone to work so well now. You would actually think big and growing Hyundai still could work that way and so inspire young Korean designers who probably aren’t going to have much luck getting credentialed from a few approved far away design schools who will all churn out the same thing.

  4. AvatarIce Age

    Mr. Beast is everything that’s wrong with YouTube, all conveniently rolled up into one guy.

    Using sensationalistic thumbnails, getting rich without first providing something of value to civilization and confusing notoriety with fame. If this guy sat on his ass and did nothing all day, it would be a net benefit for society.

    Why is it that every time we invent a new communications technology, we use it to indulge our worst impulses?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Compared to, say, DeMuro, at least Mr. Beast gives stuff away and helps people out.

      Doug’s charity of record is his retirement fund.

      Reply
      • AvatarIce Age

        Granted, Mr. Beast is charitable…but isn’t one supposed to perform charity secretly?

        And I don’t care for DeMuro either.

        He’s a grating, nerdy, trainwreck combination of Quentin Tarantino, Dave Barry and Jerry Seinfeld that uses the same off-putting pose in EVERY SINGLE THUMBNAIL that’s less “Here it is!” and more “Whaaaaat? I wasn’t doing anythiiiiing!”

        Reply
        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I recognize the success of those whose work I don’t enjoy. DDM is not to my taste, but then neither is Van Halen, but both found a market for their wares. I think our former colleague who runs an automotive reliability stats site is a duplicitous ass but he’s figured out how to make a living off of the intenet. Whether you like something or not, you have to admit when its successful.

          Reply
      • AvatarFred Lee

        I’d love to see an inside baseball post about just how much a DeMuro or Hoovie makes. I don’t begrudge DeMuro his success, he’s found a niche and exploited it.

        What I do find interesting is that, while both DeMuro and Hoovie clearly have found an audience, at the same time they’ve both become incredibly stale and repetitive. I’ll confess to subscribing to both, but I watch probably 5% of their content, and am always reminded why I stopped.

        Reply
        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          Rather than guys showing off supercars, I tend to watch the rebuild and fabrication channels, like Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez, Rich Rebuilds, Samcrac and the Project Binky guys in the UK. That gives me an idea, maybe I can persuade one of those guys to take on my Elan. Actually, the Project Binky guys are on a completely differently level than the other rebuilders. No disrespect to those other builders but Nik Blackhurst and Richard Brunning’s fabrication and engineering skills are on the level of the companies making million dollar concept cars for the big automakers, maybe even higher. Better engineering than most Ridler winners.

          The project has taken so long that they’ve also done a couple of side projects, like converting a commercial van to carry their rally car, changing out the drivetrain and suspension.

          Reply
        • Avataryossarian

          i’d like to put in a vote for mustie1. he’s does everything wrong youtube-wise but he can fabricate all kinds of stuff from scraps and routinely starts things that have been rusting in a field for 30 years.

          Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          His appeal, and I think it’s very calculated, is that he is completely nonthreatening and passive in his demeanor. You don’t envy him, you don’t want to be him. Mr. Beast is the same way; no teenaged boy watches him and thinks, “Man, that dude could beat me up and steal my girl.”

          All of Doug’s “awkward” and “autistic” behavior is complete acting IMO. In my very brief professional dealings with him, his private self came across like Jeremy Piven’s character in Entourage.

          Reply
          • AvatarIce Age

            And that’s another reason I hate DeMuro.

            The idea of hiding a sharp mind behind a constructed veneer of affable buffoonery is sneaky, manipulative and dishonest.

        • Avataryossarian

          how can you say that? he invented “quirks and features!”

          actually, the entourage comparison makes sense.

          Reply
        • AvatarBooty_Toucher

          Doug has a well refined formula tailored to his audience and medium. He shoots interesting cars of all types. His “quirks and features” segment is perfect for a medium where you can’t actually drive the car. He drives enough cars to give credibility to his “Doug Score.” His annoyingness and poor fashion sense are definitely deliberate.

          Also, he’s not a car reviewer. Compared to other similar content producers (Hoovie, Tavarish, et. al.), he’s no more annoying and has a much better formula. For actualy reviews, I’ll watch

          Doug is also a smart guy. I remember noticing his byline back when he wrote for Jalopnik and TTAC. He’s no Jack Baruth, but he’s well above average. It’s impressive how he parlayed that to Youtube success, refined his Youtube formula, and most recently used his notoriety to launch a car auction site.

          I think he’s a douche, but Doug is definitely having the last laugh.

          Reply
  5. AvatarJames

    The useful idiots were naive (as they always are), but the fellow travelers always knew and intended the “hidden” cost of “Free Software.” The objection to Microsoft was that they sold software for PCs, which any Joe could buy, rather than renting time or space on IBM mainframes/DEC mini computers/Sun workstations managed and controlled by the computer elite.

    It’s important to keep in mind that no one in computers actually wanted the PC (except Microsoft, in the past). They all wanted central control–the whole debate and dispute has always been over who would rule. The system administrators preferred IBM; the programmers prefer Google.

    Reply
    • AvatarJames

      I want to add one more thing, briefly: Richard Stallman never managed to write an OS kernel. The HURD was a running joke for decades… So, why not? Is a kernel so much harder to write than anything else produced by the Free Software Foundation? Of course not. So, why not? Well, simply because there was never any need.

      Stallman never bought a computer in his life, right? And all the Unix machines he used, at the Institute of Technology and whereverc else, came with OS kernels preinstalled.

      Of course they did! They also came with CPUs and RAM. “GNU” is a compatibility layer on top of the integrated computer systems provided by your local university. (If not yours, then certainly theirs–and you have your class divide concisely illustrated.)

      All of this was described in Steven Levy’s book _Hackers_. The world of Personal Computers was repugnant to the Free Software crew because it was a mess of the unwashed selling idiotic computer programs to each other–i highly recommend _Hackers_, with its very nice account of Sierra On-Line’s rise.

      It cannot be a surprise to anyone who was paying attention that once the university crew gained superiority over the computer industry, they would remake it in their image. What you dislike about YouTube was an inevitable and entirely predictable consequence of giving Berkeley graduates control over the Internet–which was done because the alternative, millions of unwashed MSN subscribers doing whatever they liked, was too disgusting (at least to the Free Software crew) to allow. No war but class war!

      The Personal Computer was an aberration, a brief moment of independence in the middle of the long march.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I’ll confess to no small amount of computing elitism in my past; during the “Ping of Death” phase in the days of non-switched cable network segments I used to use a cronjob to torture my PC neighbors.

        For me the turning point was watching IT people jump all over THIN CLIENTS! Yes, what a wonderful idea! If you’re a control freak who wants your users to suffer.

        Reply
        • AvatarJames

          I used a thin client once–early greyscale Sun terminal, with the optical mouse on a sticky reflective pad.

          As per elitism–i remember the university LAN, 15 years ago, that managed to DOS my Xbox’s NIC and ARP-poison/HTML-inject garbage into web pages, from zombie PCs… Reduced my opinion of network administrators even further. ARP poisoning, in particular, was an amazing oversight on the part of the men paid to keep the network running!

          Thin clients were another amazing oversight, on part with SACD (if I may be deliberately confrontational). In the real world, scaling up has always been more expensive then scaling out.

          Reply
          • Avatarhank chinaski

            Interesting DOS story from last night. Clone #2 is playing ‘Rust’, a survival type online game with PvP elements. Some clown threatens him with a ‘DDOS for 3 days’ if he doesn’t hand over [random valuable crafted loot]. Clone refuses. Sure as shit, network gets sluggish. Log in, router CPU at 80%, up from a normal ~5%. Reboot router to get a new lease, back to normal. Fuckin’ people.

          • AvatarJames

            The beauty of Ethernet DOS is that getting a new lease doesn’t help you… And the beauty of ARP poisoning is that getting a new lease only works probabilistically (since multiple zombies are trying to steal your lease on startup…)

            A few years after I left college, I read a report (from Microsoft) describing the ARP poisoning attack: zombie on your Ethernet steals your lease at startup, does man-in-the-middle to inject IFRAMEs into HTTP responses, tries to turn your machine into a zombie.

            This “worked” for HTTP because you could just ignore the slight corruption in the web page; but broke HTTPS because the result isn’t a valid response. My wife used to hunt for Ethernet jacks that were far enough away from the zombies so she could access the internet… Fun days, nice to hear you’re still enjoying them Hank…

  6. AvatarMatthew H

    I am smitten by this Korean, and the wheels are divine. A few more inches to the wheelbase and I might even go full adolescent and put a poster of it (if such things existed) on my garage wall.
    I only wish for a little more hip, something to push it past the anodyne styling. Hear me fellow man; be ye not ashamed of excess! Revel in your indulgences, for time will surely take everything from ye!
    (Goes back to dreaming of a red on red 95 Fleetwood WITH the landau top)

    Reply
  7. Avatarsilentsod

    The line of layered abstractions speaks to me at a professional level.

    I despise this love of abstraction after abstraction in my profession and seeing it spread to the real world, outside of just code, is disheartening. There is value in commanding the fundamentals and knowing how systems operate instead of burying knowledge in layers of obfuscating cruft.

    Reply
  8. AvatarArk-med

    Abimelec NAILED IT with the angle of the C pillar. With that detail, he epitomized the Giugiaro æsthetic. And the lack of DLO-fail makes me very happy.
    And the bbs chat format, ill-auguring today’s cancel culture, was doubleplusgood (“there is no new thing under the sun”).

    Reply
  9. AvatarArk-med

    An odd coincidence occurred at my household two nights ago. My eleven year old boy, who’s normally reluctant to ask for burgers (he prefers chicken tenders or nuggets— I occasionally override that, suggesting a burger), requested a double patty burger from the local favorite, Mighty Fine Burgers. The to-go bag was markered “beast style.” He scarfed down the whole thing. As was normal with burgers and him, I expected a sizeable leftover snack, but was denied it this time. I chalk it up to his growth spurt. Coincidence, because he doesn’t watch Mr. Beast.

    Reply
  10. Avatargb

    I see a 21st century game show led by Andy Griffith in “Face in the Crowd” though the burger video is infuriating. Parasite is the exact word to use when describing this and the big tech food delivery services. Restaurant profit margins are incredibly slim and the cut these companies demand is onerous.

    Reply
  11. AvatarKoR

    I know they are in different classes, but functionally they seem to serve about the same purpose. So, out of curiosity, how would you compare the driving experience of a G90 to that of a Navigator or an Escalade?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s not close, largely due to noise and roll center.

      The Navigator is much better than the outgoing Escalade, and I suspect the new one as well — but in both cases you’re pushing a barn door through the air, which causes significant noise. Every body motion will affect you more; you’re at the end of a longer stick. On the positive side, you can hit a bigger pothole in the trucks, and the wheelbase of the Navigator L or Escalade ESV does a lot to tranquilize expansion joints.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        SUVs/CUVs have never been as quiet, comfortable, or nimble as an equivalent sedan, but they gained a foothold because CAFE rules were more lax for “trucks” and hence buyers could get the size and V-8 power they wanted but could no longer get with the more heavily regulated sedans. Now the CAFE gap in space and power is largely gone, but people stay with the SUV/CUV because they like the higher seating position and the more upright proportions that make entry and exit easier for 55+ year old bodies with stiff necks, bad knees, and sore backs who are the primary buyers of new cars. Somewhat elevated noise levels are also not a big deal for older buyers who have hearing losses due to too much high volume Rock and Roll music in their youth (or for their kids who ride in back with headphones on), and ride-adjustable suspensions on SUVs and low profile tires on most luxury sedans take away much of the sedan ride advantage.

        But the biggest factor in the luxury end of the market is that most buyers of luxury cars no longer use them for road trips from Chicago to New York or Munich to Paris, but instead fly or perhaps Zoom. If most of your driving is sitting in slow moving traffic during a commute or short-runs to drop off kids or do some grocery shopping, then the added quietness, all-day comfort, big power, and better handling of a luxury car are largely irrelevant versus a cheaper model, pickup/SUV, or range limited electric. Rich people also tend to be intelligent, and to spend $70 to $100K on a fast depreciating luxury sedan for commuting and errand running is a big waste of money – as you have noted yourself a full-size pickup is a much smarter buy due to lower depreciation and maintenance costs. Thus I predict that we are fast approaching the end of the line for the luxury sedan and mass-market cars more generally.

        Reply
    • Avataryossarian

      as someone who spends too much time commuting in nyc by uber, i can tell you that my preferred ride is a toyota avalon.

      Reply
  12. AvatarTJ

    I quite nearly unwittingly ordered this the other day. It appeared in ubereats, and I just assumed it was a new a burger joint. Glad I went another route, and glad I’ve now been warned.

    Ironically, Bucca di Beppo and Bravo! are nearly across the street from each other here in ABQ.

    Reply
  13. AvatarCrancast

    Also got wrapped up in Mr. Beast’s web. The burger was Five Guys-ish – on their first test kitchen night in a brand new market, only with exclusive sit-down burger shack pricing. Turned the experience into yet another teaching moment. The labeling was well done. Fake exclusivity from the limited locations to the wait times, very much a thoughtfully designed in feature. The selling of an experience, connection and virtually nothing to do with food. The commitment to make it all happen from the promotion, logistics, execution, and selling the story. Impressive and very annoying at the same time. The current generation is so easily manipulated.

    Do not read the ‘What If’ pieces, but the masterful photochop does not disappoint.

    Finally on Hyundai/Genesis, jumped off that cliff purchasing two 2017 Sonata 2.0T Sports for family members ($6k on the hood plus lots of other promo’s at the time). Good fit and finish, mfg in US, still committed to sedans. I am curious, are Korean made units held in the same regard as Lexus/Japan made units from back in the day? Asking because Genesis has leapfrogged Acura for me, but not sure about Lexus – product only of course.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Regarding the mainline cars, I wouldn’t pay a dollar more for a Korean Sonata over an American one.

      The Genesis cars are built in Ulsan to somewhat different standards.

      The best comparison I can think of: Marysville builds an Accord every bit as well as any other plant in the world, but Suzuka built the S2000 to a higher standard.

      Reply
  14. Avatarcrm114

    The truth is, I’m surprised by the whole thing. I earnestly thought he was just some aspie car reviewer who launched an interesting car reliability website that was wound down. I had no idea he was duplicitous, or that True Delta ever made any money.

    I also can’t tell if this reply is being posted in the right spot. I guess I’m in the dark about a lot of things.

    Reply
    • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

      I agree on all counts.

      I used (and contributed to True Delta), but I had no illusions about the usefulness of the data – due to sampling bias.

      I emailed with Karesh once or twice – he seemed nice enough, but I am a terrible judge of character. As far as the website, I was definitely not the intended audience – I have owned my two vehicles for a combined 30 years.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        Karesh was nice until he thought you disagreed with him or you might not help him secure the bag, as the kids say — he made a big deal years ago about wanting to sue me for defamation over my opinion of him and his site. He and Steve Lang were kind of in the same boat as these enthusiastic self-promoters who thought they were going to get rich off the Internet’s naivete. In Michael’s defense, at least he didn’t go into the TTAC backend, delete his articles, then re-sell them somewhere else.

        What bothered me about TrueDelta was (what I felt to be) the absurdly small sample sizes, largely self-selected, and the massive conclusions Karesh would derive from the data. With the Ph.D of which he is so proud, he should have known better — but he always had some reason why having 15 out of 410,000 owners reply was perfectly valid. Unlike his putative counterparts at Consumers Union, he also actively solicited relationships with the manufacturers, particularly when it came to press cars.

        Reply
          • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

            The smartest person I know is a PhD Chem E.

            We only call her “Doctor” when we want to annoy her. (Although it does impress the sort of people who are impressed by that sort of thing; which annoys her more.)

          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            I worked in a DuPont paint lab with a lot of CEs with PhDs and they were all exceptionally smart, but the smartest person in the lab was a chemist that I worked for who just had a BS from some small Christian school. Then there was Les Miller who shared a lab with the chemist that I worked for. Les was already retirement age when I hired in and he stayed there into his 80s. Les just had a bachelor’s degree from some mining college in Kansas, but he probably knew more about paint chemistry than anyone else in the lab. All day long I’d watch a parade of very smart and accomplished PhDs pick his brains.

        • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

          I worked with a Consultant who did the exact same thing with laughably small sample sizes. (We were looking at performance on manufacturing lines). Even with a line running 24/7 for a year, he would rarely sample more than a 24-hour period. He had some BS reason why his sample was representative, even with evidence to the contrary.

          I just wonder if some people are incapable of understanding the “weird” link between statistics and the real world. Like they are hard-wired to believe that their particular brand of superstition is different than everyone else’s.

          Reply
  15. Avatarstingray65

    This whole “new economy” thing is incredible and built on near zero interest rates. How many social media platforms and how many sharing apps (AirBnB, Uber) actually earn a profit? Amazon took about 2 decades to start earning profits, and Elon Musk found out how hard it is to make a profit on a complicated physical product and after 17 years still doesn’t really generate a profit when subsidies are subtracted from Tesla earnings. These “new economy” ventures are mostly built on the promise of “disrupting” traditional bricks and mortar businesses such as taxis, hotels, print media, and traditional retailers that have invested in physical infrastructure, are hampered by heavy regulation and taxation, and are expected to earn a real return for their owners and shareholders. Most of the “disrupting” is due to the fact that investors are patient and willing to subsidize the business until such time as they achieve high “brand” recognition and can sell or take the firm public and earn billions, but such patience entirely rests on the fact that putting money in the bank earns 0% interest. It really isn’t hard to invest a few thousand or million in an “app” or servers and then lose money attracting customers by undercutting the prices of businesses that need to earn a profit and have real expenses to cover, but the simple fact is that an app doesn’t fundamentally change the cost structure of the physical side of the product and its delivery, so investors are delusional if they think Uber is going to make the taxi business into a huge profit center, or delivering cold burgers is going to make profits that McDonald’s can only dream about.

    This delusional thinking is also having an impact in other aspects of life, as now every girl dreams of being an Instragram “model” or “influencer” and every boy dreams of being a “Youtuber” or Go-Pro “hero” instead of starting a real business or inventing a real product or studying to get the qualifications necessary for a real 9 to 5 job, and who can blame them when they see relatively talentless people gaining fame and earning millions by creating social media content and attracting huge audiences that advertisers pay them to reach. I wonder how that “influencer” and “Youtuber” business model will hold up as it is increasingly discovered that most of those huge audiences are penniless children, foreigners, bots, and others fake consumers who can’t afford or otherwise can’t buy the advertiser’s product, and that most social media content providers don’t make a real living from their “profession”?

    Investors in business models that are dependent on “future profits” and electrons changing hands are also going to be unpleasantly surprised when the grid goes down because Tech billionaires funded election fraud has helped “elect” candidates intent on making electricity more expensive and less reliable.

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      StingRay,
      A lot of what you say is true. Tim Pierce has been a successful session guitar player for the past 30 years. He was discussing how a lot of today’s pop music is wall to wall vocals, unlike, let’s say Motown, where the vocalists and musicians gave each other space to create music. The vocalist is up front all through the song, not because they want to be a singer, but because they want to be a celebrity with their own brand, selling headphones and vodka. Hip Hop probably accelerated that because instead of Stevie Wonder playing every instrument on an album, rappers just sampled stuff.
      That being said, there are people who have figured out how growing a YouTube audience is an effective way to market real world goods. Ethan Van Sciver has leveraged his YouTube channel to the tune of over $2 million in crowd funded comic book and merchandise sales in just a couple of years, allowing him to start his own publishing company and taking on other creators. Josh Scott’s YouTube channel, where he promotes even competitors’ guitar pedals, is undoubtedly a factor in JHS pedals’ success.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        Thanks Ronnie for the examples. I wasn’t familiar with Ethan Van Sciver and I have no problems with an artist taking more control of his content and hopefully earning a larger portion of the revenues generated by his own work by going direct to the consumer using social media, but such people with both creative talent and some apparent business savvy are pretty rare group to sustain a business model. The biggest potential problem I see for him is that he seems to be Republican and Conservative, which means Facebook/YouTube will be coming after him very soon if they haven’t already. From their point of view it just isn’t “fair” to have a white male expressing dangerous viewpoints and earning profits on their woke platform, which is another Achilles heal for social media – only 20% of the population (or less) is woke and most of them are broke, while 30-50% of the population is Right leaning and actively looking for platforms that don’t deplore them and demonetize or ban them.

        Reply
      • Avatardejal

        Ethan Van Sciver. 2 f’ing million? I followed him for awhile, but a lot of times it was him reading web sites word for word. I guess his comic book character did ok. A frog wasn’t it?

        He was correct about the suits at the top.

        Reply
        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          Reading stuff word for word seems to be a YouTube thing. There are lots of channels that have robots reading off Reddit posts. When they do that, I pause the video and then read the text myself and I fast forward through it.

          EVS has done pretty well with Cyberfrog, whilch looks to have legs (no pun intended) as a character and I won’t be surprised if there are CF movies and video games. He just launched a new project Reignbow Brute, a very nicely constructed satirical conceit wherein popular cartoon and toys that were targeted to girls are masculinized, to parody the way characters popular with males continue to be gender swapped. RB is a tiny troll who lives in Fairyland, in fact the last real man in Fairyland. The plot revolves around Brute finding out that he had a son, Hero Pocket, that was the product of a one night stand with his mother. In Brute’s world, Polly Pockets are sluts, because they have one hinge, at their waist, and can only bend over. So Brute is given custody of his son and he has to learn how to be a father at the same time that he tries to teach his, raised by females and thus feminized, how to be a man.

          Reply
      • AvatarIce Age

        To add to your point about rap’s ascendancy in the world of pop, rap isn’t like music, in that it doesn’t demand a singing voice or the ability to play an instrument, so anyone can do it. That basically-nonexistent barrier to entry, coupled with the world’s focus on notoriety as a positive end in itself, explains why rap is so popular.

        Reply
        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          I personally think that rap was invented so the black kids who didn’t have any musical talent could be stars.

          Do any rap lyrics approach the art, “Johnny’s in the basement, mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement, thinking ’bout the government”? I’m open to the question, but then I’d also like someone to show me an Eddie Van Halen solo that was more than just pyrotechnics, something lyrical and melodic.

          Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      This is a very astute point — low-to-zero interest rates make it more attractive for investors to distort, er, “disrupt” the market.

      Reply
    • Avataryossarian

      the uber app fascinates me. it is so obnoxious. i keep location off on my phone and the uber app does everything it can to get me to give it permission to know my location. it actually suggests that i’m in a location in a foreign country even though i only use it between my house and work. as soon as i turn location on, it suggests the correct pickup and destination. it also sets the price for the same trip at the same time of day completely arbitrarily. the “surge” pricing is bs. it slowly raises the fee until i stop tipping and then the next time it lowers the fare. lol, as they say.

      Reply
  16. AvatarNoID

    About those wheels on the G90, are they two-piece? I see what looks like a seam, but it could be some stupid styling feature. Two make the two pieces connect halfway between the hub and rim is not something I’ve seen before, but I’m not a wheel guy so what the heck do I know?

    Also, my son talks about Mr. Beast at least once per day it seems. Ordering one of these burgers has been a topic of recent discussion, but not once (until now) did it ever involve social commentary. Thanks for keeping the language to a bare minimum in this one, I was able to share it with him and thus provide him with a different take on the whole thing. Between keeping him from getting all starry-eyed over these YouTube sensations, which looks like so much easy money to his generation, and trying to pry decent books into his reading list in between the young adult trash that falls into his lap from the Libby app and his peer groups at school, his adolescence is already exhausting me. I suppose I shot myself in the foot by including the entire Star Wars ‘Fate of the Jedi’ nine-book series among his Christmas presents, but that was really a gift for me masquerading as one for him.

    I don’t know if I’m maturing or if Star Wars authors are getting worse, but more often I’m let down by the newer novels. They simply aren’t holding my attention the way they used to. Timothy Zahn still knows how to write and thank God (or in this case Disney) that they saw fit to allow his Thrawn character make the leap from Legends over to the Canon stuff, but so many of these new authors simply can’t write worth a damn.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      If you’re referring to the circular seam in the center of the wheel, that’s for the modesty plate covering the lug nuts. As far as I can tell these are one-piece gravity-cast wheels.

      Reply
      • AvatarNoID

        I see. Taking a second look at the proportions makes that clear, the center cap is not a large enough diameter to cover the lug nuts (though it does seem larger than most center caps I’ve encountered).

        Reply
    • Avatardejal

      May I suggest on Youtube “The Critical Drinker” for movie reviews. He’s done a lot of Star War critiques. I expect him to be banned from Youtube in a bit.

      Reply
      • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

        I second this (admittedly unsolicited) recommendation.

        He is an absolute riot, and his verbal prose is a good match for the local sense of humor. He is also alarmingly handsome.

        Reply
        • Avatardejal

          He also comes across as correct in his critiques. He gives reasons that make sense. Throw the Shtick out and he does very good reviews. But, I would hate to see Tatiana disappear, the guys in the mud, the puking midget and Milla Jovovich from the Fifth Element. I Pateroned some money to him and got one of books in PDF form, think it was. Pretty good.

          Reply
    • Avatarjc

      I don’t think Andrew Johnson took a correspondence course in auto design; maybe carriage design; or tailoring; but I thought his consuming interest was Tennessee and US politics.

      Reply
    • AvatarTL

      I had the same reaction to the G90 wheels. Too many painful memories of hands cramping from spending what seemed like hours scrubbing 1980s BBS style wheels. Never Again.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        Ah, but the G90 wheels are NOT like BBS basketweaves. They’re concave and flat-fronted, with almost no visible depth to the spokes and no texturing within. You can swipe a brush across them and be fine.

        Reply
      • Avatarsilentsod

        Cleaning the BBS wheels on my since sold 1988 RX-7 Convertible was a massive chore. I always hated them and go out of my way not to buy wheels styled that way.

        Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        Like the Chrysler 300’s “Bentley Grille” (which is styled after Virgil Exner’s Chrysler concepts in the ’50s, not Bentley), “BBS style wheels” is a bit of a misnomer. BBS copied the wheels the Jim Hall came up with for the Chaparral race cars. Hall regrets that he never secured the intellectual property.

        Reply
  17. Avatarcarrya1911

    Becoming China is the goal. It makes a relative few immensely powerful and wealthy and anyone who challenges their authority or position gets smashed beneath the treads of a tank. That’s the perfect society to almost all of our “betters”

    Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      Becoming China should not be the goal. During the Qing dynasty, there was embarrassment on how much better run were the tiny European trading enclaves like Hong Kong and German Kiautschou in the hands of their betters but still Chinese populations. Sun Yat-sen rose up promising good governance in the manner of the enclaves, but then turned it over to warlords as soon as he became President. We do ourselves a disservice when we kid ourselves about the capabilities of others.

      Reply

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