Friday , April 20 2018
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Cars That Parent Us

Summary:
One of the reasons for liking old cars is they don’t try to parent you. The new stuff won’t quit trying to. The 2018 VW Golf GTI I am reviewing this week, for instance. When you put the transmission in Reverse, the radio’s volume’s is peremptorily turned down – apparently because someone decided it wasn’t saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe to back up while listening to the radio. One can almost see the liver-spotted hand of your mother-in-law adjusting the volume control knob. Many new cars have this “feature” – not just new VWs. It’s incredibly obnoxious. More so because it’s not your mother-in-law and you can’t slap her liver-spotted hand down or – better – hit the unlock button and tell the old bag to get out now if she can’t mind her

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One of the reasons for liking old cars is they don’t try to parent you. The new stuff won’t quit trying to.

The 2018 VW Golf GTI I am reviewing this week, for instance. When you put the transmission in Reverse, the radio’s volume’s is peremptorily turned down – apparently because someone decided it wasn’t saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe to back up while listening to the radio.

One can almost see the liver-spotted hand of your mother-in-law adjusting the volume control knob. Many new cars have this “feature” – not just new VWs.

It’s incredibly obnoxious. More so because it’s not your mother-in-law and you can’t slap her liver-spotted hand down or – better – hit the unlock button and tell the old bag to get out now if she can’t mind her own business.

Speaking of door locks . . . .

They are just as peremptory. Some can be programmed not to be – but the default is uber peremptory. As soon as you get in and close the door, it locks. All locks. Some cars are incredibly aggressive about allowing access to the car, denying the owner access to the trunk or rear cargo area unless he very deliberately unlocks the locks, which the car slammed shut without him having asked it to.

Again, for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

The latest BMW vehicles will countermand your decision to inch the car backward with the door open – by taking the transmission out of gear and pestering you with a cloying chime that sounds kind of like this: Brrrrring! Brrrrring! Brrrrring!

Sometimes, backing up with the door open makes sound sense. You get a better idea of where the curb is and also the distance remaining between the back of your car and the car your backing up toward using your own two eyes – which have greater depth perception and peripheral vision than any fish-eye camera.

But BMW wants you to use the camera instead. No, check that. BMW insists you use the camera.  The car will not let you back up with the door cracked. The nanny cannot be told off.

There is no Off button.

And that’s the rub.

It’s one thing – an acceptable thing – for a car company to include a feature it thinks may be helpful. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s another thing when the feature isn’t wanted – and you can’t countermand the “help.”

This is, however, the new Nudge way of doing things. The mother-in-law you can’t make shut up or kick to the curb.

Eric Peters
Eric Peters is a freelance car/bike/political columnist. He escaped the corporate-owned media Big Boys years ago. Without the censorship of the corporate tools

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