The Whatever Digest, 9/6/18

An overcast morning here, and apparently it’s going to rain for (checks weather forecast) the next four days. Whee! Here’s what I’m thinking about today.


That New York Times anonymous op-ed: Oh, you know the one, in which an unnamed senior official at the White House says they are part of the resistance inside the government, keeping Trump from doing something really crazy? As opposed to all the batshit things he’s actually already managed?

Yeah, not a fan of it. I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that Trump is unhinged, incompetent and unfit for the role of president, but inasmuch as that’s the case, the solution is boot his ass out of the Oval Office, not attempt to route around him. That said, no one in this administration or the GOP in Congress, which it controls, has the moral courage to either invoke the 25th Amendment, or begin hearings followed by impeachment followed by booting Trump out on his ass, so I guess senior staffers furtively running about hiding papers from the President is all we have between us and armageddon, at least until next January at the earliest.

Not that that will work anymore, either. Now Trump is aware he’s being handled and thinks there’s a traitor in the White House, besides him I mean, and his anger and oppositional behavior will now come out to play even more. This anonymous op-ed isn’t going to make it any easier to handle the President and his irrational impulses. So, thanks, anonymous senior staffer! You’ve done a bang-up job here.

Folks are already making the point that whoever this anonymous staffer is — and we’ll know who they are soon enough, one way or another — is among other things positioning themselves as a Voice of Reason for the post-Trump era, i.e., on our side, rather than in fact entirely complicit. Aaaaand, meh? No. If you want to come clean, fine, do that, and bring all the files with you. Short of that, nah. You’re still complicit.

Honestly this presidency is just so exhausting. Please vote in November, okay?


And, no, I’m not particularly interested in who the anonymous op-ed writer is. I joked yesterday on Twitter it was Ivanka, but that’s pretty much the only one in the White House I’m sure it wouldn’t be, to be honest. Well, her and Stephen Miller, albeit for entirely different reasons, since the reason Miller wouldn’t have written it is that he’s a pustulant little shit who will never work again outside of this White House, so there’s no percentage in him stabbing Trump in the kidneys.

As for the rest of them — well, who cares who wrote it? All of them are moral cowards at this point, and thus conversely (and perversely) I can imagine any of them writing the op-ed, trying to make themselves the hero of the story rather than the fellow traveler. In that sense, it doesn’t matter which of them wrote it. It could be any of them, and it would still be crap.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, some good news: India has decriminalized gay sex. Congratulations to all the Indians who can now legally love who they love.


Audi has apparently given up trying to sell manual transmissions in the US, because they’re unpopular and no one likes them, save for a few weirdos. As one of those weirdos myself (I specifically ordered my Mini Countryman as a manual), I’m not terribly surprised, and while I enjoy manually shifting, I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that my next car will not be manual. And actually “resigned” is not exactly the right word, since I fully intend my next car to be a hybrid of some sort or another, probably one where the electric motor drives the engines and there’s a gas generator as a backup (example: the Chevy Volt), and there’s no need for a manual transmission because electric engines don’t actually have gears.

(And no, I don’t want to go full electric yet. I live out in the boonies, folks. The electric infrastructure isn’t anywhere close to built-out enough for me. Hell, I barely get Internet. Catch me in 2030 and we’ll see where we are on that.)

There’s the joke that my Mini is theft-proof because it’s a manual, and while I’m okay with this theory never being tested, as the years go by it gets truer. My next car, on the other hand, whatever it is, will not have the same “protection.” Of course, I’m not in any rush to get that next car. I’m cheap, and my Mini is paid off. I’ll be manually shifting for a while yet.


In other personal news, I’m giving thought to getting a smartwatch, mostly for the purposes of tracking health stuff, although I wouldn’t mind looking down at my wrist to check messages and such. A couple years ago I got a Fitbit-branded wearable and it worked fine, but I lost it, and then when I found it again I lost the little dongle that charges the thing, and then I lost them both, so here we are.

My problem is not that there aren’t smartwatches to get — there are many, several good, that connect into the Google/Android ecosystem that I’m embedded into — but that all the tech sites I’m looking at for research are sort of waving people off from getting smartwatches right now. Apparently in the next few weeks new watches are coming out, with new faster processors and abilities and possibly shootable lasers or whatever. Which, one, okay, but two, having decided that I want to get a smartwatch, I want to get one now. I’m just not very patient when I decide I want technology.

But I guess I’ll wait. For now. Hrumph. In the meantime, maybe I’ll walk a little more anyway. And take my phone. It has Google Fit on it and will track my steps. I just can’t wear my phone on my wrist. Or shouldn’t, anyway.


To finish up today, here’s Sarah Harmer’s song “Lodestar,” since the word “lodestar” is on people’s minds today thanks to that anonymous op-ed. This is a much better use of the word, if you ask me. It’s one of my favorite songs of hers.

80 Comments on “The Whatever Digest, 9/6/18”

  1. I deliberately chose an older smartwatch for my wife (a garmin something or other) because it has longer battery life (couple of days), has a display that works in bright sunlight, and has better health tracking than most OS based smart watchers (android or iOS).

  2. I also am one of the “weirdos” that prefers a manual transmission. It never occurred to me that this might make my car less attractive to potential thieves!

  3. The problem with the 25th Amendment is that it won’t take power away from Trump for more than a few days, at best. It’s intended for a situation where Kennedy had survived the assassination attempt, but was severely brain damaged. Section 4 lays out how it works, very clearly. If the VP and Cabinet declare the President incapacitated the VP assumes the Presidential duties immediately. BUT, if the President contacts the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate saying “I’m not incapacitated!” he resumes power immediately and then it takes a supermajority of both Houses to remove him. Impeachment is easier in the current situation. Which is to say, we need to vote as many Republicans out as we can in November (60 days from now folks!) and hope he doesn’t blow up the country before January.

  4. As regards smartwatches, I’ve been served well by a Withings Steel HR (currently the Nokia Steel HR, but Nokia sold Withings back to the guys they originally bought it from, so go figure). It’s not overtly techy, so I’m not sure if it’d be what strikes your fancy, but for health tracking, it’s pretty good, and the heartbeat-sensor version can go over a month between charges. (There’s a less sophisticated version without a heartbeat sensor or a screen that never needs charging, just replacement of the standard coin battery once every nine months or so.)

    As for Mr. Anonymous (I’m going out on a limb assuming it’s Mister, but given the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania, that’s probably a nice strong limb), a good close historical analogue, I believe, would be Wilhelm Keitel.

  5. We wound up using valet parking this past weekend, and on our way our we realized it was taking a long time for them to bring our car back. Eventually the person who went out came back — he’d gotten to our car and he couldn’t drive it because it was a manual transmission.

    So that’s a data point, I guess.

  6. I gave up a manual after I lived in LA. For me, the constant foot on the clutch sucked. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked downshifting to get that bit of speed to enter the freeway. But driving in traffic, in a large city, with a manual transmission, just lost all its luster for me. If I was living like you, I would definitely have a manual car. I have driven everything from a ’68 Bug to a dual axle grain hauling truck and I miss a manual on some days. But for my money, automatic is the way to go in the urban jungle.

    As an aside, how do you like your Countryman? I am shopping for new cars and this is one is on my list.

  7. Anybody who says “We considered the 25th Amendment, but we were worried about a constitutional crisis” is a coward. The President just slammed the Department of Justice for prosecuting corruption because the Republican Party might lose congressional seats.

    It’s already a constitutional crisis.

  8. As a similar manual-clinging curmudgeon, I have precisely the same constellation of thoughts about it (and my left foot gets really confused when I get behind the wheel of an automatic after driving a manual for more than a day or two).

    On the watch front, FitBit’s Ionic is, for some of us, “smart enough,” and will pair with both Apple and Android phones to at least preview messages, if not allow replies outright (and it does a good job of step and sleep tracking, though I wish it were marginally better at identifying ice skating in terms of steps rather than estimating caloric burn based on heart rate, which is an extremely niche thing about which to complain).

  9. I’m currently driving my first automatic transmission car in almost 30 years. I couldn’t get the convertible Beetle that I wanted with a manual and I eventually resigned myself to the inevitable. I still miss it but on the bright side the automatic is super convenient for driving after my upcoming knee replacement. So there’s that.

  10. My Accord Sport has a manual, which I used to enjoy driving, until (like Shane above) I mived to a city with bumper to bumper traffic. Too much work.
    Fossil makes a decent smartwatch, which I recently bought. It replaced my old FitBit and uses Google Fit instead. However,doesn’t measure HR, so not ideal for fitness,but does let me see my work emails and meeting reminders. Gotta run. Back to the corporate hamster wheel.

  11. Every car I’ve ever owned has been a manual… my next one, probably not… knees are getting older. But maybe a paddle shifter….

  12. That anonymous op-ed came out at a great time to distract away from the Kavanaugh supreme court nomination, about which we should be calling our senators demanding that they don’t support him. Also, his documents be released, that time be given to review them, he should be screened for perjury based on said documents, also he’s going to take away women’s reproductive rights and believes that Trump is a King who is above the law and can pardon himself, and he was a huge jerk to the father of a Parkland shooting victim, showing that he has zero empathy and wants to broadcast as such which is terrifying in a supreme court justice.

    So yeah, way to take those headlines away from a true menace that needs to be stopped. Good timing, whichever Social Conservative is fine with children ripped from their parents and put in concentration camps but not so happy with removing free trade. (p.s. has scripts to call about the Kavanaugh nomination– plenty of senators claim to be undecided)

    Re: plug-in Hybrids– My DH is really happy with his Honda Clarity. Though it has faux wood paneling in the interior which… I dunno. I think a hipster millennial who doesn’t remember the 80s (much less the 70s) designed it. I’m guessing the 2019 model will have some different options there.

  13. As someone who has owned an electric car for over a year now, I have yet to actually experience a case of range anxiety. Mostly I charge at my house, at work, or at my Mom’s house. I’d go so far as to state that every household with two cars should have one electric car, as the odds of needing to drive both cars > 180 miles in a single day without having at least 30 minutes in there somewhere to do a quickcharge is really tiny.

    As to smartwatches, I love my garmin one. I got it initially because I wanted to get metrics on my sleep. Then I loved the activity tracking details. Then I loved all of the connectivity aspects. I do recommend them.

  14. Nicoleandmaggie:

    Current events in the Senate are putting the spotlight back on Kavanaugh, I suspect.

    Joe Tortuga:

    I had that happen to me recently, too.

  15. Manual transmission rocks. I already gave up though, since I can never find them. Like finding a unicorn these days.

    As for the op-ed, I’m mostly with you, but I do find it a little bit comforting there are adults trying to do a bit of damage control in there. I expect when trump leaves there won’t be anything left of the White House, he’ll have even pulled out the copper pipes in the walls and sold them for scrap.

  16. My wife is convinced that soon the kids will be completely clueless as to anything we do if we drive her manual transmission Jetta and write in cursive.

  17. If Trump chose people like himself, he shouldn’t be surprised that they would look out for themselves first and him second, but that probably doesn’t register well with him. When you elect someone to be deplorable, it shouldn’t be a real surprise that he (and the like-minded folks he chose) acts that way. I don’t think they should get credit for being less deplorable than the one they chose to serve, though – they chose to serve him and help him to be deplorable, just not as much as he might want.

    Mostly, like the rest of the Republican Party, they’re simply hoping that they’ll get what they want (which they have, because a chunk of the country either actively wanted the same things, hated the other guys (and gals) enough to screw themselves, or just didn’t care enough), and that he’ll eat them last,

    I never learned to drive a manual – I never saw the point (there wasn’t enough fun or benefit to me to care). I also live in a city, see too many crappy drivers, and figure that the discipline that a stick imposes isn’t enough to keep most people’s minds on the road. I am also really tired of the whining about Millenials not driving sticks, as well (the complaints’ origins having significant overlap with the deplorable committee)

  18. Might I recommend a Prius? I own two, one of them 12 years old and the other 10 years old. Ordinarily I start thinking about trading in at 10 years old, but both these cars are still running like tops and I’ve had no major repairs to pay for (so far), so I’ll just keep running them.
    The beauty of the Prius drivetrain is that power to the axles comes from BOTH the gas engine and the electric motors (plural). The electric motors also act as generators to recover energy to the traction battery. No shifting needed because the electric motors provide the starting torque needed.
    It’s a very neat system and I think it’s superior to the system you describe. I don’t know much about the Volt, so I may be wrong. I’m thinking you should look into the Prius at least. I think modern Priuses (Prii?) are getting over 50 mpg these days, and there are plug-in versions available.

  19. I suspect the downfall of the manual transmission is a combination of the increasing urbanization of America, and the generally less driving done by the Millennial generation and Gen Z (who really deserve a better collective name). Driving in urban traffic is hard enough for folks who don’t often drive, without adding the extra complication of learning to do it with a manual transmission.

    I mean, so many people can’t even parallel park without their car helping them—imagine if they had to do it with a manual transmission? On a hill?

    I’m your age, and I learned to drive manual transmission in college, where I was in a small, uncrowded city in central Virginia. And literally the only reason I learned was so I could be sure I could drive someone else’s car if we were at a party and they had been drinking. I haven’t driven a manual transmission in a quarter century. I could probably do it without stripping the gears (err on the side of stalling, that’s me!), but it would be comical.

    Most fuel-combustion cars these days come with “semi-automatic” transmission if you know where to look. It’s like driving a manual but without having to work a clutch, and you just bump the shifter forward or back, rather than slot it around. I use mine if I’m driving in snow because that’s where the low gears are hiding.

  20. The last few times I’ve been to a place with a valet I had to park the car myself anyway. Because, well… even valets don’t know how to drive a manual.

    I have also resigned myself to not having it on my next car.

  21. My Model 3 doesn’t even have a transmission. I’ve driven hybrids since 2000. Even though I live in the boonies, I don’t worry much about range. A couple hundred miles should do fine (technically 310 miles, but only if you fully charge, which isn’t good to do regularly).

    The last time I drove manual was also my first time driving a LHD car on a three-hour journey from London to Hereford. The rental car agency took my reservation for an automatic, but didn’t have any on hand when I arrived.

    It’s no fun to stall in a roundabout. Other drivers are not friendly in that situation. After making that journey three times, I decided to take the train instead.

    I’ve driven manual transmission cars before, and owned a couple (including my first hybrid). I don’t hate them, but I see them as unnecessary. I cook, but don’t raise my own chickens. I take pictures, but don’t make my own photographic paper and chemicals. If I took up painting, I wouldn’t scour the countryside looking for suitable pigments for my paints.

    I suspect the op-ed writer also has a book in the pipeline for when she or he is resigns from the administration to spend more time with her or his family.

  22. Just a note – the Honda CR-Z (2016 last year of manufacture) IS a hybrid with a manual transmission option … so the unicorn does exist. That isn’t to say it’s a great hybrid (MPG on par with gas econoboxes, and only two seats). Personally, I’d hold out for the next generation Mazda3 with the Skyactiv-X engine (should be combined city/highway mileage of about 37 mpg – so mid-30’s city, low-40’s highway).

  23. I have a Moto 360 2nd Gen (Android Wear) watch that is almost 3 years old. The biggest issue with it is the battery life, especially since it degrades over time like any Li-ion battery. When I got it it would last a full day (but not two) hooked up to my phone. Nowadays it only lasts about 14-16 hours in airplane mode (dead or dying by bedtime) and barely makes it past lunch if it’s actually hooked up to anything. And of course the battery isn’t replaceable – even the phone/tablet repair shops near me that do screen replacements and battery swaps won’t touch smartwatches.

    If you do want to get one, you will absolutely want to wait as the ones on the market now are basically the same as mine. The new ones are supposed to be more powerful and more efficient, but we’ll have to see. It feels like smartwatches are going to be just another piece of technology where you junk it and buy a new one every two years.

  24. Ah, but Dave Crisp, if we Brits moved to the US, it looks like we could corner the niche market of valet-parking manual cars (or failing that, stealing them). Although we might get thwarted by having to cope with driving on the wrong (ie right!) side of the road.

  25. I taught myself to drive stick in 1983 in a 65 Bug. Then I taught myself (using “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”) how to replace a clutch.

  26. I haven’t driven a car with manual transmission since we bought our first Prius in 2003, and I must say that I don’t miss it. Stop-and-go rush hour commutes while driving with a manual transmission were really getting rough on my knees.

    If we had a need for a second car, it would definitely be an electric. But my wife doesn’t drive, and we need to have a car available that can also drive long distances, so we’ll stick with a Prius.

  27. Electric car-owner here, so automatic is how it rolls! (UK) I like these daily digests – I’m imagining they’re easier to write in that you don’t have to build up to a Big Post on a Big Issue, but can just make a few comments and turn to something else? I like the variety :)

  28. With the exception of one, all my two-dozen-plus cars have had manual transmissions. I’ve had to special-order more than a few of them, too, since very few rational dealers in this country are going to have three-pedal cars sitting on their lots.

    That said, my days with manuals are numbered because, frankly, most of the reasons for preferring a manual transmission to an automatic (or “auto-manual”) are gone: it used to be that manuals were lighter, more reliable, produced better performance, and were capable of superior gas mileage than autos, but that ceased to be true a few years ago.

    The thought of a plug-in electric or hybrid with a CVT makes me wanna move somewhere where bicycling everywhere is an option…

  29. We live in the rainforest on a Pacific island, get gigabit internet and have a power grid perfectly able to support an EV. It’s just you poor people south of the border that are suffering from institutionalised stupidty.

  30. I’m glad to know how to drive a manual, but I confess I’m no longer interested in rowing my car, especially after spraining my left knee TWICE last year. I too look forward to something with a big electric motor in the drive train.

    I speculate on the op-ed item as a way to gaslight Mr. Orange into an indefensible position on that 25th Amendment deal. As you point out, “his anger and oppositional behavior will now come out to play even more,” and if what Woodward writes is true it won’t be too long before he starts a press conference with I INTEND TO FIND OUT WHO TOOK THE EXTRA HELPING OF STRAWBERRIES! If he does get shoved into acting in such a way that even the apparently unshiftable base begin to wonder if it isn’t time for him to go have a rest, his follow-up letter to the one Pence & Co. send across will have to be more than merely coherent.

    But I speculate.

  31. Pence is waiting until the last week of January next year to invoke the 25th. He wants to get the full 10 years he’s allowed as President, because of course! He saved the Republic! by removing the madman from office!

    The Trump supporters will have no recourse until 2020,so congress will support Pence, especially is the Dems get their thumbs out this year. (Yeah Pence sucks, but he sucks less with a Dem controlled Congress.)

    As to manual transmissions, semi tractors don’t get them anymore. At least not the big companies. Well, the transmission is a manual, but the driver doesn’t use it. It is controlled by a computer that does all the shifting. We can override it, but it complains. And there is a switch to put it into manual where we have to do all the shifting, but that is disabled by the company I drive for, they didn’t like some of the drivers using it all the time.

  32. I’m pretty much expecting trump to unleash a massive tweet blast along the lines of “yes so I got help from my friends in Russia and had people killed! So what that’s what winners do to MAGA. Suck it up loser dem libruls!!”
    (I debated using all caps as trump is sure to do but I couldn’t be that mean to you)

  33. I too am a “weird one” who prefers a manual transmission and just bought one in August, sadly, as my 1992 Pathfinder’s suspension finally bit the dust. I guess 26 years is a long time to drive a single car but for me too short. I was hoping to keep it until the classic brick-shaped SUV’s became classic cars.
    Alas! But the new car is a Mazda CX5 and a zippy manual. It’s a pure delight to drive, though it was hard to find. It’s a 2014, so not new but significantly new to me. I don’t think the actual new ones come with a manual option anymore ether so four years old is the golden age. I wonder if it will last me 26 years. Also, it sucks having a car loan again after nearly a quarter century without one.

  34. Like him or not (and I don’t), I am a bit outraged that “trusted” persons in the White House would take it upon themselves to actively interfere with the President’s job. I can see them getting in The Donald’s face, even quitting or getting fired (and THEN hitting up the NY Times), but to commit “treason” in an anonymous manner is, to me, unacceptable. Grow some balls, guy or gal, and write your memoirs once you’re outathere like everyone else does. I think this sets a really, really bad precedence on trust issues for the staff of any future President.

    I can’t imagine the shitstorm that would have occurred if someone had done something like this to President Obama, and yet most of the press seems to feel that this is somehow acceptable behavior in the Trump administration. And now Sen. Booker feels that releasing confidential files on Judge Kavanaugh is OK because he feels it’s the “right thing to do.”

    Damn. Sure glad I stayed only in local politics…

  35. On smart watches – I got a Fitbit Ionic which is sort of an almost smart watch. its got a display large enough to read (at 61 its an issue), several days of battery life, and I can wear it in the pool after my exercise. I’ve killed more than one Fitbit after forgetting to take it off before jumping in the pool.

    On manual transmissions – I’ve had manual cars since my first car in the seventies but my latest vehicle is a hybrid RAV-4 so it doesn’t even have an old style automatic. However, I still have a 1965 Mustang with a V8 and four speed for the weekends. No modern conveniences at all in that car! Seat belts were an option.

  36. I learned how to drive in Europe and went out of my way not to learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission. I don’t like driving. I am not going to add an unnecessary complication to my driving.
    As soon as fully self-driving cars get affordable enough I fully expect to get one of those and then I’ll never have to bother again.

  37. I’ve owned a Chevy Volt now for 2.5+ years and LOVE it. I agree that having the gas motor is good too. I am at 75% electric and the rest gas. I also have solar panels that power some of the whole house and car. I highly recommend solar (buy it) and the Volt for local and long distance driving. Wait for the 2019s to get some better features.

  38. You like manual transmissions because you live in a rural area. I grew up in a similar area and stick shift was fine and kinda fun. When i moved to my city phase, with interstate 8 lane parking lots with constant stop and go traffic, stick shifts sucked.

    Once we go all electric, the point will be mute anyway. They dont make electric cars with manual pulse width modulators.

    As for the anonymous op ed, i think the guy wants to be mr “reasonable” after trump is out. But he’s too chicken shit to actually do anything to stop trump while trump still has power.

    I am unimpressed.

  39. The author of this op-ed is a coward, plain and simple. He (I’m going with “he” to avoid constantly having to write “he/she”) seems to expect a pat on the back for what is effectively running a slow coup d’etat. If the man is unfit for the office (he manifestly is unfit), he needs to be out of the office ASAP, using the constitutional means provided, not merely kept away from sharp objects and prevented from running with scissors.

    The truth is that the author, and his co-conspirators, is happy to keep Trump in place, albeit neutered by their non-cooperation, as long as he is delivering what they want (tax cuts for the wealthy, massive deregulation, and conservative judges). He reminds me of Augustine – make me pure, Lord, but not yet.

  40. Spoon: “but to commit “treason” in an anonymous manner”

    Ahahahahhaahhaahahahahaha. Ahahahah hah bbn sgah nbn n agaga. Hahahahaha hahaha haha

    (Deep inhale)

    Haha bbn ahaha bbn hahahnahahs hahahahah. Ahah ag as bbn shah hag as hah hahahaha.

    Fascism’s first rule is “criminalize all dissent”. Treason is illegal. Criticism in a democracy is vital.

  41. I bought a Garmin Vivoactive when they first came out and still have it and use it. Has the basic apps I want for walking, biking, and swimming, has a decent battery life, and pairs nicely with my Pixel 2. Don’t know how the later versions are different.

  42. Spoon: I can’t imagine the shitstorm that would have occurred if someone had done something like this to President Obama, and yet most of the press seems to feel that this is somehow acceptable behavior in the Trump administration.

    Don’t know which members of the press you’ve been listening to, but most of the ones I’ve heard have said that “Treating a president like a wayward child is a very bad precedent, even if the current president is a wayward child. The op-ed writer should at the very least have spoken out publically.” That doesn’t sound quite like “this is acceptable behavior” to me.

    As for “the shitstorm that would have occurred if someone had done something like this to President Obama” . . . uh, I think one of the take-aways for me from the reaction to all this, and to the previews of Woodward book, too, are the many journalists saying “This. This is exactly what we’ve been hearing off the record for MONTHS now. This is nothing new. We tend to believe all this because it is nothing new–to us. Will someone please speak up ON the record and maybe do something?” Apparently, no one heard anything about Obama being incompetent, impulsive, or idiotic off the record . . . so likely anyone doing “something like this” would have gotten a rather different reaction.

  43. I would have liked to learn how to drive a manual transmission. Unfortunately, driver’s ed when I was in school got loaner cars from a local dealership that (for some odd reason) didn’t want to replace clutches on a weekly basis. OTOH, there’s way too many hills around here for easy three-pedal driving.

    Since I’m currently living someplace with a garage, a plug-in electric would only require running an additional power line to the garage. But I lived for decades without a garage, and stringing a power cord out the window to my car just doesn’t seem like a great idea. I don’t see electric cars really taking off in older communities (defined as “large areas built before car ownership was common”) until recharging the things takes about as much time as a trip to the gas station.

  44. Yeah Pedro, but it turns out he stole the entire plot and all the details from reality, so it’s really bad. Plagiarism from such a once-trusted source. SAD!

  45. I support what Kim Helliwell at 10:43 said, as I have a Prius too, with the brakes charging the motor battery. I found it through Consumer Reports yearly comprehensive vehicle magazine. There is a page listing fuel economy, best to worst. They put a check mark on cars that rate excellent in all areas, and the Prius qualifies. Hence, as Kim notes, still “runs like a top” after ten years.

  46. I love my Model 3. I had some initial range anxiety, but I mostly got over it after several trips. There are still parts of Canada I won’t attempt. I occasionally miss my six-speed RX-8.

    I don’t have a smart watch. I have the most badass dumb watch ever made: The Omega Speedmaster Professional.

    I’m really surprised that CNN and CNBC didn’t spend more time on just how awful an effective coup d’etat against the elected President is. Yes, we chose badly. Unelected, unnamed, hidden officials should not get to reverse or subvert our choice.

  47. I’m approaching the point where I’d like to purchase a used manual vehicle so I can teach my wife and children how to drive one. Sounds like I won’t have many to choose from.

  48. Science fiction fans may like how the Prius speedometer was easy to see, in digital readout, unobstructed by the stupid blankety-blank steering wheel, by being over in the middle of the dashboard. Same with my (nondigital) Yaris. But the new improved Prius and Yaris have the speedometer stuck back in the old un-new, unimproved position. Yuck.

  49. “There’s the joke that my Mini is theft-proof because it’s a manual, and while I’m okay with this theory never being tested, as the years go by it gets truer.”

    I think that this was true even in the past. Back in the 1980’s, when Rivercon (Louisville’s late lamented convention) was at the Downtown Holiday Inn, several cars were broken into on the Saturday night of the con. My Camry was one of those cars, and since they tried to remove part of the ignition, I suspect that they were attempting to steal it before they noticed it had a manual transmission.

    Most of my recent cars have been automatics but the two Volkswagens I’ve owned, including my current Jetta, have had what they call a tiptronic transmission which, though there is not a clutch, allows you to shift gears manually. I find I only use it, however, during Louisville’s infrequent snow or ice storms.

  50. Some good points on Sec. Resister. I can just see Trump going crazy trying to remember what papers were on his desk the previous day. But you are right, we would be better if the “resisters” on Trump’s government just impeached him.
    I used to drive a manual & liked it, until my knee went to hell. Now I have an automatic which is ok. You’ll probably miss your manual drive on occasion, but I generally don’t think of it much.
    I enjoy these digest posts. I’m hoping they last past September. If they’re too much trouble to do every day, maybe you could pick a regular day & do one a week?

  51. Re: That New York Times anonymous op-ed: Good assessment. At the very least this just goes to show that the “great leader” doesn’t engender loyalty from subordinates with childish, ignorant, dishonest, and vindictive behavior, as well as his own disloyalty to them. It’s really hard to “hire [and keep] the best people” with that kind of character.

  52. I still miss my 1998 manual VW Golf. Zippy was so much fun to drive. Alas, now driving a Prius and a Leaf to do my part for the environment, and I regret nothing.

    When this nightmare finally comes to a head, not too many Americans will find ‘I’m enabling a racist, insane president because I like tax cuts’ exactly heroic once the metaphorical ship hits the fatal iceberg.

  53. I learned how to drive a manual in my mid-20s (it was my 2nd or 3rd car), and drove that vehicle for a good many years. Even after going back to automatics, my ability to drive a stick has come in handy on several occasions. But at this point I’m very rusty, and disinclined to try to get my chops back in Houston traffic (it’s not quite as bad as LA, but it doesn’t lack much), so I’ll stick with my automatic.

    And the US continues its descent toward becoming a third-world banana republic, with the active assistance of the people who could stop the process if they wanted to.

  54. A. YES. Everything I was thinking about the NYT op ed. No get of jail card free just for trying to do your job..none of this stuff you are doing is done for free, you get paid…. but keeping the mad Emperor in power. Where is a nice Praetorian Guard revolt when you need one?
    B. Gave up my last manual shift, my loved WRX Suburu,because the hubby had a physical problem that made manual shifting painful. It is okay. I survived with my ego intact. Getting old and gracefully adapting is just another way of saying, yes, I am still alive, but different.
    C. And another difference was buying the Chevy Spark, all electric which is the envy of every teen age boy we drive passed. For an urban car, it cannot be beat…snappy, tork, easy to park and in traffic stop and go it is relaxing, not tiring. It is a bit bouncy for long distances in my opinion. Also thinking of the hybrid Chevy when we give up our old gas Volvo at somepoint.
    D. After all the people reporting they have had their lives saved by their Apple watch alerting them they were having a “heart event” (ack), so glad my husband has one. Mine is on the holiday gift list so maybe soooooooooon.

  55. Here in the wilds of Canada, I guess my car is protected from theft twice. First from being a 6-speed, and second from being a SAAB and therefore too ugly to steal. :P

  56. The NYT op-ed adds some fun into the too slow devolution of a bad President into madness.

    Automatic trannies take the fun out of car driving, but so does stop and go traffic.

    Smartwatches have a ways to go before they are actually good at anything. They are like scald protection in a shower valve, they almost work.

  57. Once when I brought my Toyota Corolla wagon into the dealer for mouse invasion issues, the mechanic asked if he could teach one of the other guys to drive stick. Gandy taught four teens and still had the original clutch (a very forgiving one) at 25, so I let them go ahead. I’m sad to see manual going away, but we made the shift (no pun intended) to a hybrid recently, and as you said, no option there.

    My parents drive the Chevy Bolt (fully electric), and while they have to plan their trip around recharging, they drive 240 miles or more to visit me using it, so that time might be nearer than you suppose.

  58. I got my husband a Fitbit for Christmas two years ago. He’s into tech, wants all the data all the time, so I thought it was a nice toy for someone who’s hard to buy for. Six months into tracking everything, he realized that his heart rate was on the slow side even when he was full out running. He actually went to the doctor on his own to get an explanation, and a week later he was having a heart ablation. Scary, but much better than the heart attack that was sneaking up on him (something about the heart cells misfiring, causing incomplete beats which were too incomplete to register on the Fitbit.)
    So, in my book it’s FitBits for everyone! Immediately!
    I loved my manual shifter until the day I tore my rotator cuff. Now I try to love automatics.
    And I can’t even begin to comment on the disaster of the Twitler administration. Too busy banging my head on the wall…

  59. As others have said, stop-and-go traffic killed manual transmissions for me. It was fun until the year-and-a-half I worked on a contract job in Nashville, where 20-30 minutes of crawling along with the car in first gear and a foot resting lightly on the clutch was standard procedure. :(

    Sadly, as much as I enjoyed driving them, they’ve had their day.

  60. I drive a manual 6-speed V8 mainly because it’s just FUN to drive; I don’t drive much or far so fuel consumption/environmental stuff isn’t an issue for me. It’s FUN! When I went to insure it they asked me “manual or automatic?” to which my response was “why would you??” — which they thought was a fair point. That said the manual version of my car is a bit of a rarity. And watching the reaction of people when they find out that the actual owner of the car is a woman older than John Scalzi, not the man who is allowed to drive it occasionally, is also fun lol
    My sister has an old Bug which is definitely theft-proof, even here in Australia where old manual cars still exist in large numbers — it’s a bugger to drive, but she loves it.
    I expect my next car will be an electric but not rushing to buy one; this car is now 8 years old and running beautifully and, did I say, FUN. I really love driving so this works for me.

  61. I must admit that my favorite part of the Anonymous Op Ed piece came today when almost everyone still working for Trump – with the exception of Ben Carson, who doesn’t appear to be aware if he’s alive – rushed to let us know that, he, it wasn’t me. The funny part is that the list includes Rick Perry, who has barely proven himself competent to tie his own shoelaces.

  62. Always loved me some manual transmissions from day one. Took my drivers test in a VW van Champagne Edition. I think it qualifies as multitasking mostly because my cars had no great coffee holders. Now i have an automatic, and coffeecup holders have evolved, and because: 50 plus years old.

  63. My experience with manual transmission- 40 yrs ago my dad bought me my first car. It had manual transmission. Handed me the keys and said “here you go, figure it out.” And I did. Been driving stick for 40 years now.

  64. Loving the 20/20 posts and the digest, btw. Feels a bit like peak blogosphere again… just a bit.

  65. All of the cars I’ve owned (not counting the ones we bought for my wife) have had manual transmissions, but I expect that my next car will not be. My current car is 11 years old car, and if it keeps running for a few more years, I’ll probably be looking at an electric vehicle that’s either self-driving or at least has a lot of assists.

  66. I heard a theory the op-ed was aimed at Republicans as a way of trying to deter them from supporting impeachment since “there are adults in the room” and Pence would be harder to distract so they might not get to pass all those policies they wanted to pass.

  67. Australia has had it’s fourth successive changing of the leadership horses mid-stream by our parliamentarians – not one of the last four prime ministers to take Australia to an election has survived to see a second election as parliamentary leader of their party. Yet I feel sorry for you Murrikans, with this toddler in a toupee in the White House nobody can seem to get rid of. I suppose it’s a case of “roll on the next election, and vote the bastards out” all round.

    For the sake of data points: our car is a manual transmission. 1999 Hyundai Excel. May look at an automatic for the next one, it depends what’s available at our price point (which is “extremely cheap/free” and almost certainly second or third hand).

  68. I absolutely love stick-shifts. One of my earliest cars (Celica) was a stick and it was fantastic. Nothing better for making you use your brain than having to learn how to drive a stick on the fly (picking up the car from a dealer is when I first got exposed to it). Was even able to get a good deal on another because no one wanted to buy it because it was a stick.

    Personally, I voted for GW because I didn’t want another four years of Democratic rule on top of the previous 8. I also didn’t vote for Trump because I thought he wouldn’t make a good President. No thoughts of collusions/malfeasance, just thought he wouldn’t make a good one. Thought that former CEO of HP would’ve been a better candidate.

  69. “I voted for GW because I didn’t want another four years of Democratic rule”

    You’d think given how W turned out to be a bumbling war criminal who invaded the wrong country that you would also mention some regret there, or maybe that you want to reevaluate your “cant have too much of a good thing” approach to voting.

  70. Spoon@9/6 12:51 pm

    The documents that Booker released are the sorts of documents that would have been released for any previous Supreme Court nominee. Booker wasn’t releasing confidential information, he was starting to break a coverup.

  71. Personally, I love my Mazda automatic/manual hybrid transmission. When I feel like having fun, I can shift manually, but leave it in auto mode most of the time.

  72. I want a smartwatch that shoot lasers! Even tiny ones! Okay, it doesn’t have to be a smartwatch, a watch of any intelligence which can shoot lasers is fine by me. Please.

  73. Greg: “TREASON!” was Trump’s word in his tweet referencing the op-ed, used here in parenthesis to note that. Sorry I forgot to put it in CAPS.

    Mary Frances: Not saying that there haven’t been members of the press who also think that anonymous stuff like this isn’t right, because there are, especially in the mainstream press. But it seems that more and more of the press (including a lot of wannabe press) and social media are using such anonymous disclosures to “prove” their own social agendas either for or against Trump. Not including Fox and CNN, of course, who have their own warped agendas. No real complaints against Obama other than he promised a thousand things during the campaigns and delivered on only a handful; more due, I think, to his initial ignorance of how bad working with Congress can be.

    Michael I: Initial reports from NBC and ABC on 9/6 indicated that the emails released included confidential ones. If that has changed then I stand corrected.

  74. Spoon: “Not including Fox and CNN, of course, who have their own warped agendas”

    The tweedledee/tweedledum implication doesnt fly. Fox lies on a scale that far surpasses cnn.

    “the emails released included confidential ones”

    Americans have to stop worshipping their government to the point that stamping something “classified” means it cant possibly be because it covers up wrongdoing in the part of those who stamped it. The Pentagon Papers were classified, and also revealed the president lied to congress and the american people. Torture memos during the iraq war were classified and were documenting war crimes.

    This pearl clutching about anything classified being holy writ is silly. If a classified document reveals crimes being committed by those who stamped it confidential, then that is nothing more than a cover up. If a classified document reveals war crimes by those who sought to render it secret, then it is nothing more than a coverup. Higher principles can override here.

  75. On the thought about living in a rural area and so not getting a fully electric car. We met a guy who owned a hobby farm. He installed a wind turbine and uses that to charge his all electric car. Loves it.

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