Thursday, May 12, 2005

Brief 'told you so' and onto CARS!

1) As I remarked in my oft-referenced (at least by me) ivory-billed woodpecker post, I don't think it gets publicized how many species die out on their own, are being created, or get discovered. AP reports a new rodent in Laos discovered by the man who also scored a new striped rabbit in 1999.

2) Today, James Lileks bleats about buying his wife a new car, writing:
Do! Not! Write! With! Advice! Please. I thank you, but these decisions are personal – and besides, I sit next to the guy who edits the auto page, and he has an extraordinary amount of knowledge about cars to boot.

I had to laugh. Nice try, but no admonitions or trust in his intelligence and resources will stop the inevitable.

UPDATE: HA! Tim Blair's already making suggestions and inviting more!
2nd UPDATE: Instapundit piles on!
Even though Tim's an Aussie (another wide country), it only proves my point when the biggest, busiest bloggers can't resist car talk or even just referring to car talk.

Here's a related post last month by Vodkapundit that I remembered laughing about. VP is well-acquainted and enthusiastic regarding matters automotive, and when asking his readers for feedback about specific models under consideration, he laid out clear guidelines of his acceptable scenario and rationale for each option, concluding with (editing mine):
One more thing. My next car will be one of these four. Please, don't try to sell me on the merits of ... or any car not already on this list. That aside, please share your thoughts.

Be sure to read the comments if you want to be amused by the vast numbers of well-intentioned folks pushing unwelcome ideas they're sure he'd love if he thought hard enough. When it comes to advice, nothing spurs a normally respectful American nose to insinuate itself into someone else's beeswax like the subjects of cars or children. And as certainly as parenting is personal, Lileks makes the point that autos are personal, too.

Americans are blissfully irrational about their cars. I've heard people who can't tell a tailfin from a pushpin rhapsodizing to me about the superior vehicular content of their garages. Maybe it's because we spend so much time in our cars, maybe it's our culture of acquisition, maybe lots of things. For me, it has something to do with freedom, independence and individualism, the gypsy optimism that something great is just around the bend. My cars weren't ever just Pintos, but my Pintas, noble ships for exploration.

Arriving in America for their first visit, many people I've met from across the Atlantic marvel at how large the country is. You don't get a sense of the vastness until you've covered those hours' then days' worth of land (thank Jah we've upgraded from covered wagons). And though we all speak roughly the same language from coast-to-coast, the pronounciation, usage, and vocabulary differs tremendously even if you're visiting nothing but TGIFridays. Because the geographies and climates vary so widely, and therefore the natural resources and industries that follow, the people who've settled in a place and the kind of newcomers a place attracts have distinct qualities, too.

We take a fair bit of jawing from the Continent about the ignorance of incurious, untraveled Americans, because they don't count the thousands of miles and diverse worlds we can span without needing a passport. They don't grasp how many discrete, sovereign lands are within America and how many we can visit simply by driving until hitting big water. I don't expect an Irishman who works in Munich and vacations in Majorca to immediately acknowledge how different Salem, Oregon is from Salem, Massachussets. But it is. In how it looks and feels and how life is lived there. So, too, Manhattan from Metairie, Phoenix from Pittsburgh, the Conch Republic from Coeur d'Alene, and so on. The highways and byways connect us to alien vistas and invite us to see how the other millions live.

I've been de-autoed since moving to NYC, and my car lust increases with time. The latest object of my automotive desires is a real charmer. Not a dream machine, like an international star you'd realistically feel too lowly and conspicious to be seen with. But neither is it like dating the neighbor since childhood, someone trusted and well-understood but not stimulating to the imagination. No, this one is like the attractive stranger. Perhaps you don't know the skeletons in every closet, but you like everything you learn. And you have the feeling that perhaps this new friend is just a little (but not too much) more wonderful and attractive than you deserve.

That, my friends, is true love.

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