(Last) Weekly Roundup: Screenless In DC Edition

I got an email last night, more than two days after the fact, from the nice people (by which I mean overseas-sourced Mechanical Turks) at SPIN scooters, telling me something along the lines of Parking Photo Not Approved. As many of you no doubt know, SPIN is one of the half-dozen providers of urban rental scooters, following in the footsteps of BIRD. What makes SPIN different: they have some sort of backing from Ford, and the scooters are slightly but usably faster than the competition from Lime and elsewhere. (As I noted while leaving a Lime in the dust along the reflecting pool near the Washington Monument: “Lime? More like lame, am I right?”) Beyond that, you are also required to take a photo of your scooter when you park it, so they know you didn’t vandalize the scooter or park it on top of a homeless person.

Which I had done, Saturday at 1:07PM. Now, late in Monday’s evening, SPIN was indicating their dissatisfaction. What was I supposed to do? Find the same scooter, two-plus days after the fact, and photograph it again? Why wait this long to tell me the photo wasn’t good enough? I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s famous letter to Lord Chesterfield, who had declined to be a patron to Johnson’s Dictionary until Johnson had effectively finished the work: “The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind: but it has been delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary and cannot impart it; till I am known and do not want it.”

What didn’t SPIN like about the photo? Hard to tell. I thought it was pretty well done, particularly since at the time of photography my Samsung S21 Ultra looked as it does in the image opening this column. Yup, that’s what you call “a thoroughly destroyed $1,799 phone” — and on just the fifth day of ownership? Sucks to be me. But that’s not all.

This past weekend had been scheduled as a four-day mountain-biking trip to the outstanding Highland Park in New Hampshire, but given that my wrist was till cracked it seemed a bit optimistic to hit even a five-or-six-foot drop with a free-floating piece of bone in there. I came up with an alternative itinerary: Go to Washington DC and see the two Smithsonian airplane museums plus the Natural History Museum.

I’ll admit that I had concerns about making the trip. Not to indulge too broadly in hyperbole, but it’s probably not a great idea to be a Midwestern white man anywhere near the “holy ground” of “our democracy” right now. You go there one day, someone holds a demonstration the next day, your cell provider cheerfully hands over your whereabouts to the FBI without even the suggestion of a warrant, and next thing you know they’ve got you locked in solitary and are denying you access to medical care. I told myself that this was paranoid conspiracy thinking and that such a thing had only happened to, oh, a couple hundred people so far this year.

We started at the Udvar-Hazy facility forty-five minutes outside of DC. This is a very good museum, filled with planes, and if you don’t live down the street from the Wright-Patterson Air Force base, as I do, it would no doubt strike you as the very best museum. My son John was fascinated by the Concorde, although he initially thought it was a Valkryie. I had to explain that there were twenty Concordes built but only two XB-70s, one surviving, and that one just happening to live in Ohio. There was something funny about this, like a rich kid thinking a stainless-steel watch is white gold because he has no experience with stainless steel.

Then we headed downtown, parked a mile away from the museums, and acquired a SPIN scooter to ride in their direction. I pointed out the various Smithsonians: the new African museum, the Native American museum. “Is there a German-American museum?” he asked. “Probably not,” was his answer to himself, because he’s twelve years old and like most attentive children of that age he already has the iceberg bulk of understanding how the world works. Imagine being a young middle-class white boy in 2021; you dimly realize that the entire establishment hates you and wants you dead, but you have no idea why. You haven’t done anything!

“Turns out there is a German-American museum,” I quipped, as we stood in the Air&Space building on the mall looking at a reconstructed V-2 rocket and a half-dozen boosters from the space program, “and this is it.” I can’t say I am pleased about the changes that are being made to the, ahem, German-American museum. When I was an East Coast child, my father brought me here once every few months for years; today, almost all of the good stuff that I yearned to see again and again has been sent out to the autist’s outpost of Udvar-Hazy. What remains: massive “interactive” exhibits purporting to teach aerodynamics and rocketry to a moronic mass of lumbering humanity. Nobody reads the walls or interacts with the displays. They’re just here because they’re visiting all the museums on the Mall and this is one of them.

The same fate is in the process of befalling the Natural History Museum; fossils and stuffed animals are fighting, and losing, a battle for Lebensraum with massive “explainer” displays that, from their language and construction, appear to be aimed at people who have an extensive vocabulary but also an extremely, dangerously, low IQ. The Twitterati, I guess. “It’s hard to find the names of the actual dinosaurs,” John noted. “They’re in the corner of the signs, small enough to cover with your hand. But there’s always a lot about the climate.” He’s right. Is this Apatosaurus or Diplodocus or Camarasaurus? The answer can be found in eight square inches at the upper left edge of a more-than-dining-table-sized panel explaining how the climate encouraged dinosaurs to fight or some nonsense like that.

I can’t help but think of how fossils were treated two hundred years ago; they were often held to be from the “giants” mentioned in the Bible, and where that didn’t apply they were folded, spindled, and mutilated into Bishop Ussher’s chronology. So it is with our modern theology of F**king Loving Science. The dinosaurs must have a climate story. Of the ten or so panels in the fossil room, just one deals with the actual climate catastrophe of a major asteroid strike. The rest contrive to give a casual observer the impression that T. Rex wouldn’t stop driving his Hellcat Durango to the MAGA rallies and that’s how the theropods became extinct.

To its credit, the Smithsonian has not yet seen fit to mess with the displays that really bring in the foot traffic, namely the gems and precious metals. You don’t have to read about CO2 saturation of the oceans in order to get to the Hope Diamond. You merely walk into the labeled room and wait for it to rotate your way. No dioramas, no explainers. Res ipsa loquitur. The teeming masses of what we used to call “foreigners” but are now probably called “pre-Americans” or something like that don’t need a Lucite panel to explain the appeal of massive diamonds, monstrous sapphires, pounds of gold as found in nature. They all speak that language flawlessly.

In large part, they are on this soil, in this capital city, because of that language, because they arrived as the two generations before mine conducted the greatest yard sale in history, the “yard” in question being the United States of America. Our ancestors got good prices for their junk; starter homes purchased for $50,000 brand new are now worth a million and a half even as they fall apart and people defecate on the street where they are located. If you had put ten grand into a Dow index fund circa 1985 and just left it there, you would now have $197,886. This astounding and historically unparalleled rate of appreciation happened the old-fashioned way: the Greatest and the Boomerest simply opened the gates of the country to foreign buyers and invited them to bid like there was no tomorrow, with citizenship thrown in the deal to boot. And you, their descendant? Did you want something from that yard sale? Grandma’s silver, perhaps? I’m afraid someone from down the street bought it, kiddo; the same someone who owns your rental property and manages you at work.

As we were parking the SPIN scooter, my left hand seized up with some kind of breakage-related nerve drama and I watched my brand-new S21 Ultra fall to the concrete, shattering the screen. It wasn’t the only phone I had; my work iPhone sufficed to navigate us out of the city. But it’s the phone to which all of my accounts are tied in some manner via the ridiculous annoyance of “two-factor authentication”. Can’t use GMail, can’t pay my bills, can’t even watch Amazon Prime Video until the new phone gets here. I’ve never deceived myself that I wasn’t tethered to my phone, not after twenty years of self-employment, but now that tether feels even tighter than before.

Maybe it was my depression at having ruined a very expensive piece of Korean electronica, and the knowledge that I had a replacement policy but there would be considerable hassle involved, but as we left DC I couldn’t help but see it with hopeless eyes. I got the impression that the American capital has been successfully invaded and we are just waiting for the rot to spread. Whether you’re a hard-left type who hates the corporate/Uniparty coziness, or an unapologetic nationalist who thinks that DC should reflect the country around it rather than pay tribute to states beyond the oceans, I can’t see how you couldn’t walk (okay, scoot) these streets and feel any other way. Washington, DC doesn’t feel very American any more.

“Hey, that’s the Lincoln Memorial,” John noted. “we missed it.”

“I wouldn’t say we missed it, I quipped,” but I thought about the President whose name inspired the car I was driving. History tells us that Lincoln preserved the Union. It came at a tremendous cost. An entire generation put through the meat grinder, the whole lineage of ancient families burned and shriveled to nothing, U.S. Grant looking on phlegmatically from a hill as another ten thousand boys in blue and grey die screaming of sepsis on meaningless farmers’ fields. To preserve this Union. A union in which San Francisco can refuse to deport aliens and Texas can make its own abortion laws and Florida can declare the pandemic over even as New York places it at the center of a whole new doxology and theology.

So we drove. Towards Breezewood, the infamous Town Of Motels. Away from the wealthiest place in America. The seamless metal sea of new Audis and Bimmers parted around us, dissolved to the dross of eleven-year-old Impalas and rusting pickup trucks even as the signs for seven-figure attached condos were replaced by McDonald’s, Burger King, Pilot. The political gravity that had gathered all unto itself, that made Fairfax County wealthier than Beverly Hills during the Sacred Administration Of The Most Serene President Obama. It had no pull on us as we drove away. We are not its kind. Not particularly welcome. And ruled by force, with the illusion of consent long shattered. We entered Pennsylvania. Parked at a gas station. Stepped out into the crapsack world of America beyond the beltway. And though we were still hours away, I knew I was home once more.

* * *

For Hagerty, I wrote about low-budget racing and expensive Mustangs.

75 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Screenless In DC Edition”

  1. Rick T.

    “… he initially thought it was a Valkryie.” One wonders if the Western world still has the will – and skills? – to build an aircraft like this which is six decades old.

    Your museum observations are timely:

    “Many of the (Art Instituted of Chicago) volunteers—though not all—are older white women, who have the time and resources to devote so much free labor to the Museum. But the demographics of that group weren’t appealing to the AIC, and so, in late September, the AIC fired all of them, saying they’d be replaced by smaller number of hired volunteers workers who will be paid $25 an hour. That group will surely meet the envisioned diversity goals.”


    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I think that if the fate of the planet hung in the balance, America could build another Valkryie just like the Fifties original, assuming they had the existing Valkyrie to copy. Probably cost a billion dollars or more.

      A plane that offers the same leap of technology over current equipment that the Valk did over, say, a B-58 Hustler? Well, that is a fantasy. The Russians are working on it. They have the will and the skill but not the hard currency, one suspects.

      • hank chinaski

        They’ve been repatriating tons of physical gold and have Nord Stream, and with it (maybe) the EU by the short hairs. If I could write my R’s backwards I’d think of moving there.

        • Panzer

          Their economy is the size of Spain’s despite having more than three times as many people and incomprehensibly more natural wealth..

          It’s all just bluster and bullshit with them

          • hank chinaski

            Correct on both points, but I think we’re much higher on the bluster and bullshit scale. Putin isn’t trying to get Mexico into the Warsaw Pact, for one. For it’s size, our economy is a hollowed out, leveraged to the hilt, FIRE skinsuit. If there were more ways a leadership caste could all at once destroy a country, massively profit from it, *and* display a naked loathing for it’s people and culture, I’d shudder to imagine them.

          • jc

            “It’s all just bluster and bullshit with them” I’m not gonna pretend to know a thing about the Russian economy but I’m not sure we can throw too many stones about their economy being BS from the US. It really makes a man feel like a piece of shit when my 401k goes on a TEAR while my buddies from home barely make enough to keep food on the table.

          • Panzer

            With that comment about Mexico joining the Warsaw pact, I imagine you’re referencing Ukraine.
            Well.. The Ukrainian people want to be more oriented towards Europe and the Russians position on this is THAT THEY’RE ALL NAZIS AND LITERALLY HITLER.

            Sound familiar?

            As to you’re other point, no, we’re not ‘more bullshit than them’ we still produce vastly more capital than them, we have the best tech industry in the world (not just IT) and the most innovation. It’s just our lack of manufacturing base makes us vulnerable and causes major social headaches.

          • yossarian

            “Their economy is the size of Spain’s.”

            the difference is that spain’s balls are in the hands of the eu. putin has prioritized russian independence and self reliance over creature comforts. if you think it’s all bluster than how do you explain crimea?

          • Panzer

            But that’s not true, Russia is not independent at all. If they had modernized and diversified their economy with all that skilled labour and natural resources, they would still be a superpower and second only to the United States.
            Instead, they continued being a feudal kleptocracy and so now the only thing they can sell which is worth anything is their oil and gas.
            What would happen to Russia if Europe decided to diversify their supply?
            Crimea was a one off, the bloodless product of years of hollowing out their Ukrainian client. How do you think an invasion of the rest of Ukraine will go? Are you pretending that the Kremlin is not desperately trying to unentangle itself from the Donbass?

          • gtem

            ” The Ukrainian people want to be more oriented towards Europe”

            Which Ukrainian people, though? The Western corner towards Poland/Romania, Galicia? I think they should do what they please, and have their little Euro country with gay parades and all the other pleasantries, and leave the Russian speaking East/South to exist as they always have.

          • Panzer

            Or maybe the ethnic Russians in the Donbass should fuck off and go live in Rostov, since they aren’t Ukrainians.

            The other 90% of Ukraine will join the EU and strengthen the anti SJW block of Poland and Hungary with another 40 million citizens, and it will be grand.

          • John C.

            The current President of Ukraine Zelensky is Jewish as are fake name potential Ukraine Defense Secretary Alerander Vindman and also fake named Fionna Hall. If you think that crowd is going to join some bloc with Orban to put “their” country on the path of righteousness you are spending too much time with the wacky weeds.

          • yossarian

            “But that’s not true, Russia is not independent at all.” they have a strongly positive trading balance. yes, it’s largely due to energy and raw material sales but they also are big exporters of military hardware and wheat. a lot of their trade with china doesn’t show up in global accounting because they now work around the swift system when possible. they have a lot of work to do to improve manufacturing and service economy but even now they can feed, fuel and defend themselves which is more than you can say for europe.

          • gtem

            “ethnic Russians in the Donbass should fuck off and go live in Rostov, since they aren’t Ukrainians.”

            Do you have the slightest idea of the ethnic (if it can be called that) or linguistic makeup of the country? Half of Kiev is Russian speaking. Half the country should vacate from where they live and “repatriate” to Russia? Brain-dead take.

          • Panzer

            Oh I know that much of southern and eastern Ukraine is Russophone. Notice how I said ‘Donbass’ and not ‘all Russophone parts of Ukraine’?
            The reality is, is that just because those parts of Ukraine speak Russian does not mean that Ukraine is Russian territory. We speak english here in New Zealand and Australia. Does that mean Britain should run our nations as dependent territories then? How would that work in regards to America?
            No, the ‘they speak Russian so therefore it is Russia’ take is the braindead one.
            But then again, braindead takes are probably the best we can hope for from a Russian people who pretend the world owes them a favour for ‘defeating fascism’ when it was in fact they themselves who taught the Nazis how to build Auschwitz.

          • gtem

            “just because those parts of Ukraine speak Russian does not mean that Ukraine is Russian territory”

            “No, the ‘they speak Russian so therefore it is Russia’”

            I’m not in the slightest advocating for Russia to annex half of Ukraine. I’m merely pointing out that this “ukrainian identity” built around Ukrainian mova, “Holodomor” etc is much more localized, has little relevance to people living in the Eastern half of the country, and has been pushed on them since 1994 as they try to unify the country and force more national identity. Replacing Russian street signs in the East with only Ukrainian and English (wtf?) says a lot about the level of disrespect shown by the Western nationalists to people in the East. And it was the repeated US-State Dept funded color revolutions (end goal bringing Ukraine into NATO and on the IMF teat) that ultimately lead to the chaos. Russia’s calculated geopolitical play of taking Crimea and arming the restive Donbass was a chess move to delay/prevent Ukraine from joining NATO (a prerequisite is that a new member not have any existing territorial/border disputes).

            That’s my take on it anyways, you obviously might see things in a very different lens and I’d be curious to hear it.

          • John C.

            Gtem, if the area is Russia, wasn’t eastern Ukraine Don Cossack?, why not just annex them if it can be done without war. Baltics excepted, none of the former Soviet Republics have done well for themselves 30 years on and allowing these outsider color revolutions must be troubling to Russia and they must wonder when it will be tried on Russia itself. Gosh it even happened here with Belarus fighting it off so far better than the USA. Do you think that Russia is better off without all the minorities than the Soviets and Czars were with them?

          • gtem

            John C, I’m not sure of the value of annexation to Russia, at least not at a justifiable cost. Although one wonders if that move would have overall lead to fewer deaths than the current long-simmering conflict.

            As to color revolutions in Russia, they (US State Dept and its various tentacles) are certainly always trying, and Putin’s response has been (rightly) to crack down on “NGOs” etc. The artificial propping up of Navalny, who is a redditor-tier idiot opportunist, is another blatant case of State Dept. meddling. That guy has zero genuine mass support, heck genuine support would be the Communists and ultra-nationalist LDPR.

          • Panzer

            Gtem, i’m not sure how anyone can say that the ‘West Ukrainian’ nationalists are disrespecting anyone else in Ukraine.
            In the end they forswore banning the official use of the Russian language (in comparison to you Russians who banned their language -13 times- including the famous Ems Ukaz) and then there’s how you and other Russian nationalists minimise the Holodomor as if 5 million dead in the worst famine in history is no big deal, and as if the Russian people have no responsibility for the creation and maintenance of the Soviet Union.
            Furthermore, the way you dismiss their revolution as State Dept. meddling is preposterous. The CIA couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, no, 2013 was ground up, CIA interference is a myth you Russians tell yourselves for comfort, much in the same way the liberals created ‘Russian collusion’ to explain away 2016.
            The Ukrainians are not trying to dictate anything to Moscow or St Petersburg, merely to shed their post Soviet heritage and be more like Poland.
            I doubt this makes them the Nazis of Russian propaganda.

          • Panzer

            Right, so because the Ukrainian president is Jewish, this means he’s engaging in a secret conspiracy to make Ukraine like California.
            It’s this sort of big brain shit that makes it impossible for anyone to take you seriously John.

            Yossarian, I’m not sure how you can say their trade with China is a benefit, it’s mainly natural resources but also military tech that the Chinese will reverse engineer and then use in a future campaign to retake Siberia.. In other words, Russia has no choice but to sell her dwindling military edge to a rapacious China, hardly a relationship one would call advantageous. Maybe they can fuel themselves, but they certainly can’t feed themselves unless they magically increased their arable land exponentially since the Soviet era when they were heavily reliant on American grain shipments. Defence? it took 15 years to subdue the Chechens, two wars (one of which they lost) hundreds of thousands of casualties, to conquer an area the size of New Hampshire.
            You got some wishful thinking going on there my friend.
            The Europeans can do all those things, they just choose not to, it’s easier for them to get the Americans to pay for their defence, but I digress.

            ‘Yossarian’ sounds Armenian, is that so?

  2. bluebarchetta

    Well, that was depressing. On the plus side, your popularity seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. I see “FJB” everywhere now, which I can only assume stands for Follow Jack Baruth…

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I’m not particularly a fan of widespread public vulgarity. Coarse words are a spice for language and you don’t just dump pepper in your guests’ food. Also, there are a lot of kids in my neighborhood, so my lawn sign reads “Let’s Go, Brandon!”

      • trollson

        Agreed 100%. Don’t the people with the “F Biden” flags realize they’re just as tasteless as the “F Trump” crowd?

        It is kind of entertaining that it seems to get under the skin of the current white house occupant though. He can’t help but comment on it, on multiple occasions.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      That’s what I’m hoping. Also looking to do a tie-in with this Brandon fellow, whomever he is.

  3. -Nate

    Ouch .

    You’re so bitter Jack .

    I hope John doesn’t follow your footsteps, life is to be enjoyed, not _endured_ .

    Only you can choose .

    I remember D.C. in 1963 and again in the earl 2000’s (my sister lives in Silver Springs, I visited) it’s not what I’d consider a nice town but there’s so much to look at there .

    Why not simply replace the broken screen ? .


    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Just because I think the Enola Gay should have dropped the Little Boy on DC instead of Hiroshima doesn’t mean I’m bitter…

      Replacing the screen on this system is nearly impossible.

      • Jeff Weimer

        I was thinking of doing it with my S8, but no; the effort required wasn’t worth the squeeze for a 2 generation old phone. I can only assume it’s much more difficult now.

        • -Nate

          It’s not because of the Enola Gay comment, you’re choosing to be bitter and it’s been showing in your writing .

          A sad thing indeed .


          • Depressed Clutch

            I’m mostly bitter about failing to have children…but Jack has a great son and seems miserable. But I also look at the state of the world and think that if I *did* have children, it would be very difficult to imagine a viable future for them.

          • -Nate

            Not everyone is good with kids .

            I was amazed to discover that kids seem to like and gravitate to me .

            Of course, that fact that I flat refuse to lie to them helps .

            I now have grand kids and great grandkids, it’s nice when they want to sit with me or tell me about their thoughts and lives ~ if you _listen_ to children you can learn a lot quickly .

            I too worry about the world we’re leaving them, all I can do is my best .


  4. John Van Stry

    My next phone will probably be the cheapest flip-phone that I can find. I’ve pretty much had it with smart phones and they’re getting so damn big now, I might as well just buy a tablet or another laptop (which would undoubtedly be cheaper) and leave it in the car or at home.

    Smartphones are the opiate of the masses, for sure.

    • yossarian

      i’m still on an iphone se. the original one that fits in my front pocket. i stopped updating software just before contact tracing got added to the os. there’s a guy in koreatown who periodically replaces my battery or broken screen while i get lunch. i’m never upgrading but then again i said that about my palm treo, too.

      • NoID

        I finally bit the bullet and gave my old SE to my son and got a new SE, which is the size of what I used to consider a large phone but today is the smallest mainstream phone one can purchase. It’s absolutely dwarfed by my wife’s 10.

        If someone made a modern phone the size of the old iPhone SE I would buy one tomorrow.

      • dejal

        You have Volte on that phone? That’s the future. Digital voice. If not, your phone will be data only in a year or two.

    • Ice Age

      Here’s the last item on the Evil Overlord List:

      “100: Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.”

  5. ScottS

    Unfortunately I share much of your pessimism. If you want to understand why Washington DC doesn’t feel very American any more go pick someone up from the International Terminal at Dulles sometime. It’s a nonstop stream of Democrat Permanent Majority voters arriving 24/7. To be fair it isn’t much different in London even after BREXIT.

    Smartphones are part of the Final Solution Part 2. Those convenient little notifications telling me haw many minutes to my next expected destination are daily reminder that it will be easy to find me when my number is up. Some of my younger friends refer to the Apple watch as “master race” and I don’t think they are wrong. Just depends one which end to the political spectrum you’re in.

  6. stingray65

    “To preserve this Union. A union in which San Francisco can refuse to deport aliens and Texas can make its own abortion laws and Florida can declare the pandemic over even as New York places it at the center of a whole new doxology and theology.”

    Actually, the US was formed on the idea that states could pursue their own interests and that federal power should be limited, so your examples fit the original political union idea pretty well except for San Francisco being allowed to ignore federal law entirely. The Civil War was largely a disagreement about state’s rights over the continued legality/expansion of slavery and the stronger allegiance that many citizens felt for their home state over the union, which is why Robert E. Lee reluctantly resigned his commission in the US army because not doing so would mean leading an army against his home state. Sad to say that few Americans today feel much allegiance to DC beyond the welfare checks they receive, as the Left hates the very idea of America including the slave owning namesake of the capital, and the Right is getting mighty pissed off by the heavy handed and corrupt bureaucracy that selectively enforces laws in only one direction and cares more about the Constitutional rights of illegals over citizens. Thus I won’t be surprised if more than a few people decide to violently fight for state’s rights again.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      You’re right of course, but we’re no longer talking about a polite discussion about which rights are reserved to the states and which to the Fed, as has happened frequently since the Civil War. Now it’s everybody making their own moves and doing what they want, knowing that the Feds are alternately feckless and murderous but you have a good solid chance of it being the former.

    • hank chinaski

      Some are hopeful that the 9 high druids will help restore balance in the Force, but I’m not. Their scattered circuit acolytes hounded the Donald at every turn. If one had decreed he wasn’t allowed to wipe after a presidential BM, it would not have been very surprising.
      To my knowledge there has been *one* case of judicial pushback this term, in upstate NY regarding offering religious exemption for jab mandates, but naturally the very large private businesses in question are free to deny them.

      The Union was intended to be voluntary from the start. John Wilkes Booth did nothing wrong, and did it years too late. I also agree that the Enola Gay missed.

  7. Ronnie Schreiber

    Yup, that’s what you call “a thoroughly destroyed $1,799 phone”

    I can understand owning 200 guitars and enough vehicles to fill your garage and driveway but why on Earth would you spend that much money on a phone (even if it’s deductible expense)? Is there anything that you need to do with a phone that you can’t accomplish with a $200 Samsung Galaxy Prime?

      • Disinterested-Observer

        Years ago, in the before times when cell phones and their cameras were not ubiquitous, I was living in a beautiful place, like Ansel Adams beautiful. I though it hilarious that some people only saw it through the viewfinder of their cameras. That being said, since then there are a plenty of things that I wish I would have caught, especially with family, were my phone not broken.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          John Mayer wrote a song, “3×5”, to that effect. Of course the current youth have no clue at to what a 3×5 could be…

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        The quality of images that high end phones can capture is very impressive, particularly because the lenses and image sensores are so tiny.

        My childhood was mostly documented with mostly black & white (color was much more expensive to process) still photos taken with consumer Kodak Instamatics shooting 126 format film (28mm), my dad’s 35mm color slides he shot first with an Argus and later with SLRs (there are literally thousands of slides still stored in slide projector carousels) and grainy 8mm home movies. BTW, if you want to see what kind of high quality goods some American companies made mid-century, check out Revere 8mm movie cameras. “Built like a tank” doesn’t do them justice.

        My own kids’ childhoods were documented with 200-400 ASI color film in my late father’s Konica SLR and some 8mm video tape, which was way better than silent 8mm film but hardly hi-res.
        One of my favorite family photos is a very poorly lit b&w shot taken July 20, 1969 of my older brother Jeff smiling broadly at the camera. I think it was taken on a old Kodak box camera he’d found. You can barely make out the Apollo 11 lunar module on the screen of a television set behind him.

        I think that John and his children will treasure the fact that you have photos and video more than the resolution of those images.

        If I’m going to a family event that I want to record, I will usually bring my camera bag which has my Canon (16 mega pixels) still-photo 3D rig, my Nikon DSLR, and my JVC 3D camcorder. If I don’t feel like taking the bag I’ll just grab the camcorder and use if for both photos and video, even if the resolution (1280) isn’t as high as with my other cameras. If I don’t have my cameras, I do use my phone as backup.

    • S2kChris22

      My phone was “only” maybe $1400-1500 (top of the line last-Gen iPhone, new at the time) but I think I can answer that.

      For one, my phone is now all the computer I ever need; I rarely use my iPad or MacBook. All of my non-work computing is done via iPhone. So I buy the best I can and keep it until it starts to deteriorate (~22 months, like clockwork, just to get you primed for the next one). So I like to have the fastest, with the most memory, and the best performance.

      For the other, top-line phones have, inexplicably, real resale value. If you buy the top of the line and replace as soon as your standard 2yr lease is up, you get maybe $0.50 on the dollar as a trade in allowance, so your net outlay is actually a lot lower.

  8. Steve Ulfelder

    Great race, and an excellent point. I did my share of Spec Miata racing, but my favorite drives were all in SCCA’s Improved Touring classes, when I was driving an ITS RX-7 against E36s and later an ITR S2000 against E46s. The BMWs had me on torque; I had them on handling and brakes; and the resulting races were epic.

  9. stingray65

    Your essay on spec racing was excellent, and I can’t help but wonder how much is driven by the relative lack of brand loyalty these days. During the 1970s when I followed NASCAR if you were a Chevy guy you rooted for Cale, and if you were a Ford guy you rooted for Buddy or David, and if you were a Mopar guy you rooted for King Richard, because the cars they drove at least looked like the showroom models you could buy yourself. NASCAR constantly rejiggered the rules if one brand got too much aerodynamic or power advantage to keep the brands close, but now the cars are identical with only decals to determine if it is a Camry, Mustang, or Camaro. The question is whether anyone is enough of a Ford/Chevy/Toyota guy anymore to care that it is just decals representing their favorite brand, and instead the their interest is based on equal cars and pack racing where the winner is determined by the narrowest of margins. All I know is I lost interest in NASCAR (and Indy) when the cars departed from being anything close to stock in favor of look alike spec racers.

  10. LynnG

    Jack, you should have let Helen and I know you were coming to the DC Metro, you could have left the driving around town to us or more like Helen, she can navigate DC like a cab driver, not so much on my part as I avoid the District of Calamity as much as possible.

    Do have a question though, why would you spend that much money on a phone and not get a protective (padded) case? I have dropped my I-8 multiple times (knock on wood) and the screen has not broken, I credit it all to the $20 padded case. You do know T-Moble is giving away 13-Pros which cost just as much as an S21 but of couse with a new contract. 🙂

    And for those not knowledgable about NVA, Fairfax County may be the richer then Beverly Hills but the county government can not even keep the grass mowed along the medians and right of ways, neither can the state of Virgina keep the brush cleared along the Interstates in NVA. A sign that people may live here, but they are not of here, so they do not care what the overall community looks like, because after they have got all they can for themselves out of the area, they leave.

    • stingray65

      Not mowing is probably at the suggestion of the eco-warriors who want to provide more wildlife habitat, who can then dart out of the tall grass and directly under the wheels of 18 wheelers. Not mowing also allows the bureaucrats to hire fewer men to run the mowers and therefore free up the budget for hiring a more diverse group of desk jockeys who can make it their mission to regulate/tax and otherwise harass the most productive members of society in the name of equity.

  11. CitationMan

    After shattering the screens of my last two iPhones, my current iPhone is inside a Lifeproof brand case. No complaints, other than I assume it’s made in China since they don’t list place of manufacture on their website.

  12. KoR

    A few things:

    1) This brings to mind a quote from Lincoln’s Lyceum Address that has been bouncing around my head endlessly since I first listened to Titus Andronicus’ absolutely sensation “The Monitor.” Which, as an aisde, is certainly one of the better alt/punk/whatever albums of the 2010s and is worthy of a good listen. The guitar on the opening track where this quote is stated absolutely shreds, and Patrick Stickles is one of that genre’s more interesting characters and songwriters.

    Anyway, the Lincoln quote: “If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.”

    Seems more and more apt each passing day.

    2) “Whether you’re a hard-left type who hates the corporate/Uniparty coziness” Finally some representation here…

    3) Good lord how long until Johnny Lieberman asks you to step outside like a Camaro to a Mustang?

  13. Tom Klockau

    “The dinosaurs didn’t drive Priuses so, asteroid. A scientist told me!”

    Oops, did I say that out loud? I usually just think that in silent frustration…

    • Will

      My favorite part of that is they’ll say “Birds evolved from dinosaurs”. But if dinosaurs all died from an asteroid, how could they evolve from something that was dead?

      I’m no believer in the story of Adam and Eve, but the idea that we all evolved from the same organism is bull shit too.

      • dejal

        Genesis for such an ancient text did pretty good on the timeline. Nothing, light, planet, animals, then people…….. Pretty good for a bunch of knuckle draggers that didn’t have any science.

  14. John C.

    Gosh the cost of that Samsung is high. Here I go around, amazed at my moral, and intellectual superiority from never using a smart phone, never even have I texted, when you come along to remind how much money I am also saving. I understand that once you are addicted there is no possibility to go back, but I wonder if you understood where it would leave you, how many of you would make the same decision I made a decade ago?

  15. JMcG

    Udvar-Hazy is incredible; Air and Space on the mall is a shadow of its former self. At least now I never have to go into DC again. Well, perhaps to take another look at the Mercury Capsule. That stuff will all get hauled out back and dumped in the street before too many more years pass by.
    Your What-if in Hagerty was the funniest yet. Good to have some laughs here near the end of things.
    Thanks, Jack

  16. MD Streeter

    The Mustang article was good, but I would REALLY love to read that Imperial/Eldorado/Continental article, even if it was written in that Motor Vogue style, and even if that written by Mr. SF from Car and Steerer.

    I’ve alternated between “all right” and “alright” for years. Currently I’m using “all right,” but should I switch back? I mean, again? While there are much more important questions to be asked, this is one of the few keeping me up at night.

    We have Google Pixel 4as we bought with our government money a year and a half ago and their picture/video quality is the best of anything we’ve ever owned and the phones were affordable. I realize Google is watching everything I do and probably listening to a fair bit of it as well, but if anyone is reviewing it they’re in for some disappointment.

  17. trollson

    Agreed about the museums. So much space is wasted on dumbed-down diorama displays instead of showcasing actual artifacts. Eventually it will become like the “whalers on the moon” exhibit from Futurama, or the time machine from Idiocracy.

  18. Ice Age

    Let’s keep something in mind here.

    The United States of America is mankind’s first large-scale experiment in representative constitutional government. As far as we know; I can’t speak for Atlantis. We are unprecedented.

    It’s also populated by a group of people you could argue are a race apart from the rest of mankind. Every one of us, black people unfortunately excepted, are the descendents of human beings who were driven by SOMETHING that made them think they could do better. So they tore up their lives something fierce, just for the chance to start over in a strange land. Since that impulse occured in people all over the world, it’s gotta be genetic.

    Now, couple those things together: an unprecedented nation built on a formal written document, populated by the most restless and ambitious of mankind, societally contemptuous of aristocracy and marinating in a culture of personal rights, freedoms and dignity for FOUR CENTURIES.

    We have no idea how those things interact over long timescales. We’ve been at this for a little over 400 years – nations like China and India are more than ten times as old. We could very well just be getting started as a society and as a culture.

    There is something that makes us all Americans, and it’s not the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Something good. Something insane. Something that makes direct comparison to other nations in history unwieldy, even inappropriate. We are greater than all of them, and I believe that somewhere in that fundamental difference between us and the rest of mankind is our saving grace.

    Where all other nations have had the societal trajectory of a winding road, America’s course is that of a roller coaster. We’re not coming off the tracks – we’re just cresting one of the early hills.

    Have a little more faith and don’t write us off yet.

      • Bill

        I live within a few hours drive to DC, and want to visit the mall etc. But I assume Masking is required, full vax notwithstanding. I won’t mask unless required for medical needs. Led to fun discussions as I traveled to Blue areas to please wife with leaf viewing.

        I drove through a few National Parks over the summer, not staying in any. The visitor centers had been stripped of exhibits and blocked off with police tape. Genuinely friendly Rangers answered questions and distributed literature as though nothing had changed. It’s fairly clear where the Plague has spread, and it’s not in National Parks, football games, or commercial airliners.

        • Guns and Coffee

          This one sentence . . . inspired.

          “Led to fun discussions as I traveled to Blue areas to please wife with leaf viewing.”



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