Flipping The Bird

This week, a super-sized episode featuring scooters, Nebraska’s own Ben Sasse on trade, tariffs, Trump, and Kavanaugh, self-driving cars, Twitter mob, and more. We could say more, but really, you should just listen to the show.

Music from this week’s podcast: Summertime by The Busters

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There are 46 comments.

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  1. Kephalithos Member

    Rob is absolutely right: Self-driving cars, by their very nature, exclude the possibility of spontaneity. And this makes them dangerous.

    Assuming Cooke isn’t overreacting (and I don’t think he is), self-driving cars will threaten one of the most fundamental of freedoms — the ability to move around.

    • #1
    • August 3, 2018, at 3:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Kephalithos Member

    And James, by the way, is right about the appeal of suburban and rural life.

    Cities are claustrophobic. Cities create their own peculiar form of provincialism. Cities are filled with homeless people, pickpockets, posterboard-wielding madmen, and, worst of all, strangers. Cities are massive, imposing, and overwhelming. It’s bloody difficult to leave a city (particularly during rush hour), should (gasp!) one happen to take an interest in what lies beyond the urban fringe.

    Are all these things prices worth paying for the uniquely “human” experience cities offer? Perhaps. But not all of us want to accept the trade-off.

    • #2
    • August 3, 2018, at 3:38 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Annefy Member

    That podcast felt oddly personal.

    The last time I took the train, I went to So Pasadena to have breakfast … with a friend of Rob’s. (college classmate of my husband)

    And I’m listening not while doing my side hustle; instead from my part time job … in a mortgage office.

    • #3
    • August 3, 2018, at 4:05 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Fresch Fisch Member

    Loved the closing tune by The Blasters.

    • #4
    • August 3, 2018, at 5:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Blue Yeti Admin

    Fresch Fisch (View Comment):

    Loved the closing tune by The Blasters.

    The Busters:

    • #5
    • August 3, 2018, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Yay, James excellent Braveheart like rant! Freeedommm!

    Peter’s son’s attitude is very interesting also and consider that with the Zip and the Uber there’s no cash involved , we’re approaching a Jetson’ s like world in that regard. I’m ok with all of it as long as it’s all voluntary , we’ll all get there at our own pace, think cable TV, VCR, cellphones and UBER itself. However, as convenient as that is for one or two people imagine it with four kids, car seats for all, a walker and playpen for the baby, and a few of those giant bags that mothers carry around. I have two daughters with small kids , I confess I don’t know what’s in those bags but they are able to, Bugs Bunny like, pull almost anything out of them.

    • #6
    • August 4, 2018, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. TallCon Coolidge

    OK, my rule is usually to finish a podcast before I comment. But I can’t.

    I agree with Rob on the principle of STOP THE MADNESS. Sure.

    But the New York Times isn’t doing that. They’re not saying “Hey, we’re not going to punish a person for tweets from that person’s past.” What they’re saying is “We can hire her because she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

    • #7
    • August 4, 2018, at 10:50 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Henry Castaigne Member

    TallCon (View Comment):
    TallCon  

    OK, my rule is usually to finish a podcast before I comment. But I can’t.

    I agree with Rob on the principle of STOP THE MADNESS. Sure.

    But the New York Times isn’t doing that. They’re not saying “Hey, we’re not going to punish a person for tweets from that person’s past.” What they’re saying is “We can hire her because she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

    A good point. I’m fine with the NYT hiring her as long as they make some statement like, “We find some of Ms. Jeong’s tweets racially insensitive and hurtful and we have expressed our displeasure with her. Regardless, blah… blah… blah.” Just a little disapproval is all I’m asking for. 

    • #8
    • August 4, 2018, at 2:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. kedavis Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    TallCon (View Comment):
    TallCon

    OK, my rule is usually to finish a podcast before I comment. But I can’t.

    I agree with Rob on the principle of STOP THE MADNESS. Sure.

    But the New York Times isn’t doing that. They’re not saying “Hey, we’re not going to punish a person for tweets from that person’s past.” What they’re saying is “We can hire her because she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

    A good point. I’m fine with the NYT hiring her as long as they make some statement like, “We find some of Ms. Jeong’s tweets racially insensitive and hurtful and we have expressed our displeasure with her. Regardless, blah… blah… blah.” Just a little disapproval is all I’m asking for.

    Yes, the obvious difference is that her bosses essentially agree with what she posted. If she were a white woman and had made the exact same comments about black women, she would have been out the door – or maybe even out the window – a millisecond after clicking “send.”

    • #9
    • August 4, 2018, at 6:39 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. kedavis Member

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):

    Yay, James excellent Braveheart like rant! Freeedommm!

    Peter’s son’s attitude is very interesting also and consider that with the Zip and the Uber there’s no cash involved , we’re approaching a Jetson’ s like world in that regard. I’m ok with all of it as long as it’s all voluntary , we’ll all get there at our own pace, think cable TV, VCR, cellphones and UBER itself. However, as convenient as that is for one or two people imagine it with four kids, car seats for all, a walker and playpen for the baby, and a few of those giant bags that mothers carry around. I have two daughters with small kids , I confess I don’t know what’s in those bags but they are able to, Bugs Bunny like, pull almost anything out of them.

    Uber started out hyping income opportunities etc, and shows/hosts like Hugh Hewitt were promoting “drive with uber” etc, but I never believed that Uber – or Lyft – really meant to have that kind of model long-term. I always figured they were just waiting for self-driving cars (which were already on the horizon when they started up) so they could be completely centralized and not have ANY drivers – “employees” – that they had to share the money with.

    (And maybe it’s just me, but if I were Peter’s son, I would change my name at the first legal opportunity.)

    • #10
    • August 4, 2018, at 6:54 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Henry Castaigne Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    (And maybe it’s just me, but if I were Peter’s son, I would change my name at the first legal opportunity.)

    What’s wrong with the last name Robinson?

    • #11
    • August 4, 2018, at 11:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. kedavis Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    (And maybe it’s just me, but if I were Peter’s son, I would change my name at the first legal opportunity.)

    What’s wrong with the last name Robinson?

    I didn’t mean the last name. And if he has a daughter named, oh, let’s say, Bertha, or Hortense, she should change her name too.

    Anyway, do kids these days understand that Uber and Lyft etc, can’t exist unless OTHER PEOPLE own cars to drive them around on their whims? Even aside from many practical issues such as hauling around kids and their… equipment… there’s something to be said for individual responsibility that is being lost these days. And good luck calling for Uber if you need to get out of town because of an earthquake or wildfire or something.

    • #12
    • August 5, 2018, at 1:48 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. kedavis Member

    And I guess Rob doesn’t know that, at least in my experience with Uber (not on my own, I was riding with other people who didn’t have their own car) you do tell them where you’re going when you request a ride. That’s how they figure out how much to charge. And the driver gets directions and a map.

    I have no doubt, Uber and Lyft etc will be among the first adopters of self-driving cars, because they never really wanted to have to share the money with individual owners/drivers.

    • #13
    • August 5, 2018, at 1:53 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. FredGoodhue Coolidge

    I see a big difference between the job Sarah Jeong was hired to do and the job of almost everyone who was caught with embarrassing statements. Sarah Jeong was hired to be the voice of The New York Times. She directly represents their opinions.

    • #14
    • August 5, 2018, at 4:04 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Percival Thatcher

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    TallCon (View Comment):
    TallCon

    OK, my rule is usually to finish a podcast before I comment. But I can’t.

    I agree with Rob on the principle of STOP THE MADNESS. Sure.

    But the New York Times isn’t doing that. They’re not saying “Hey, we’re not going to punish a person for tweets from that person’s past.” What they’re saying is “We can hire her because she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

    A good point. I’m fine with the NYT hiring her as long as they make some statement like, “We find some of Ms. Jeong’s tweets racially insensitive and hurtful and we have expressed our displeasure with her. Regardless, blah… blah… blah.” Just a little disapproval is all I’m asking for.

    They should be sure to tell everyone that they are sending her to sensitivity and diversity training.

    • #15
    • August 5, 2018, at 4:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Miffed White Male Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    They should be sure to tell everyone that they are sending her to sensitivity and diversity training.

    They can’t, because that would be a tacit admission that her tweets are in fact racist.

     

    • #16
    • August 5, 2018, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. kedavis Member

    So, not only does Peter not want to go to Mars etc, he also doesn’t understand why not everyone wants to live in NYC or Los Angeles etc.

    He seems to be a lost cause.

    And, sorry James, but Jasperwood is not really “urban.” It might seem like it compared to NYC or much of Los Angeles etc, but not really. For example, people in true urban settings tend not to have gazebos etc, unless perhaps if they are very, very rich.

    Also, I seem to recall a recent comment, unless it was on Duane Patterson’s Aftershow, that one type of situation where people might most want to use self-driving cars – big storms, etc – are one of the main situations where self-driving cars DON’T WORK. If people think travel paralysis etc in cities is bad NOW because of storms, just wait until nobody has their own vehicle to control. Heck, what happens when people don’t even know HOW to control a vehicle any more, should the situation arise? Let alone when companies no longer MAKE vehicles that CAN BE manually controlled.

    It sounds like one more reason to have something like a mid-1980s Mercedes diesel car socked away, which – since it uses mechanical fuel injection rather than electronic – would be operable even after an Electromagnetic Pulse attack.

    • #17
    • August 6, 2018, at 2:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Chris Member

    A few random thoughts:

    1.  Yes, there are people who actually prefer not to live in the city and will need their own transport. And that does not make them strange.
    2. For scooters, I’d love to see the analysis detailing how dense the population needs to be, the number of units needed, distribution efforts to handle surge demand and the need for available backup transport. What if you need one and they are all gone – autonomous scooters?
    3. I doubt the McKinsey people see themselves as part-timers in the future who are also scooter cowboys rounding up the strays for a few extra bucks (pre-autonomous scooters, of course).
    • #18
    • August 6, 2018, at 6:20 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. LibertyDefender Member

    Christopher Riley (View Comment):
    Rob is absolutely right: Self-driving cars, by their very nature, exclude the possibility of spontaneity.

    First, there’s no reason that autonomous vehicles (“AV”) cannot include spontaneity. You can use the same mechanism (e.g. smartphone app) that you originally use both to order the AV and to indicate the destination, subsequently to input a different destination mid-trip.

    Second, I didn’t interpret Rob’s commentary to mean that spontaneity is impossible. I interpreted Rob’s comment to mean that with AVs, anonymity is impossible. Some brain somewhere will know where you are and where you want to go.

    Third – unrelated to Riley‘s post, I reject the implication that only government can provide a network of AVs. This is a tremendous market opportunity, and the spectrum of possibilities is breathtaking and exciting.

    • #19
    • August 6, 2018, at 10:15 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. Miffed White Male Member

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):
    I interpreted Rob’s comment to mean that with AVs, anonymity is impossible. Some brain somewhere will know where you are and where you want to go.

    I’m not seeing the relationship.

    Autonomous vehicles don’t require a central repository/authority. In fact that’s kind of the antithesis of what “autonomous” means – self-driving cars as they currently exist are self-contained and get their instruction from inside the vehicle. This of course doesn’t preclude future systems that seek to optimize traffic flow by requiring central control. But that’s a different question.

     

    Meanwhile, as far as “lack of anonymity” goes, that doesn’t require autonomous/self-driving vehicles – that just requires license plate scanners, which already exist.

    • #20
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:07 AM PDT
    • Like
  21. TallCon Coolidge

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    Third – unrelated to Riley‘s post, I reject the implication that only government can provide a network of AVs. This is a tremendous market opportunity, and the spectrum of possibilities is breathtaking and exciting.

    There would still be a ginormous database controlled by someone. I’m the farthest thing from a privacy nut but that does skeeve me out a bit. (I know Google already knows more about me than I probably do my own self.)

    • #21
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. James Lileks Contributor

    kedavis (View Comment):
    And, sorry James, but Jasperwood is not really “urban.” It might seem like it compared to NYC or much of Los Angeles etc, but not really. For example, people in true urban settings tend not to have gazebos etc, unless perhaps if they are very, very rich.

    Hah! Depends on your definition of urban. It’s certainly not as dense as Manhattan – what is, except for Chicago? My neighborhood is a bit unusual; it was laid out as a suburb in the early part of the 20th century, breaking the grid pattern of the rest of the city, but if you’re saying that an area that’s 95% single-family housing can’t be “urban,” then very little of Minneapolis is urban. 

    • #22
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. LibertyDefender Member

    FredGoodhue (View Comment):

    I see a big difference between the job Sarah Jeong was hired to do and the job of almost everyone who was caught with embarrassing statements. Sarah Jeong was hired to be the voice of The New York Times. She directly represents their opinions.

    And this is why Peter Robinson was right, and his point was the best and clearest point made in this podcast:

    “Donald Trump is right!” The New York Times is fake news. “They’re a fraud, and Donald Trump is right about that, they’re a fraud.”

    If the Republican Party establishment knew what is good for itself, this message would be flown from the rooftops. There ought to be a mass media assault on the New York Times (and their accomplices in the Democrat-Media Complex) exposing for all to see that

    The New York Times is Fake News!
    The New York Times is Racist and Cannot be Trusted.

    • #23
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:26 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Miffed White Male Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    And, sorry James, but Jasperwood is not really “urban.” It might seem like it compared to NYC or much of Los Angeles etc, but not really. For example, people in true urban settings tend not to have gazebos etc, unless perhaps if they are very, very rich.

    Hah! Depends on your definition of urban. It’s certainly not as dense as Manhattan – what is, except for Chicago? My neighborhood is a bit unusual; it was laid out as a suburb in the early part of the 20th century, breaking the grid pattern of the rest of the city, but if you’re saying that an area that’s 95% single-family housing can’t be “urban,” then very little of Minneapolis is urban.

    Doesn’t it come down in part in how you define “urban” versus “suburban”? The descriptions I’ve seen of Jasperwood always make it sound much more like it’s in a suburb than an urb.

     

    • #24
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • Like
  25. Chris Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    And, sorry James, but Jasperwood is not really “urban.” It might seem like it compared to NYC or much of Los Angeles etc, but not really. For example, people in true urban settings tend not to have gazebos etc, unless perhaps if they are very, very rich.

    Hah! Depends on your definition of urban. It’s certainly not as dense as Manhattan – what is, except for Chicago? My neighborhood is a bit unusual; it was laid out as a suburb in the early part of the 20th century, breaking the grid pattern of the rest of the city, but if you’re saying that an area that’s 95% single-family housing can’t be “urban,” then very little of Minneapolis is urban.

    Doesn’t it come down in part in how you define “urban” versus “suburban”? The descriptions I’ve seen of Jasperwood always make it sound much more like it’s in a suburb than an urb.

     

    Agreed. I’m reminded how in the 90’s the average height of buildings in Tokyo was 3 stories high. City or not? Eye of the beholder I suppose.

    • #25
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  26. LibertyDefender Member

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):
    I interpreted Rob’s comment to mean that with AVs, anonymity is impossible. Some brain somewhere will know where you are and where you want to go.

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Miffed White Male

    I’m not seeing the relationship.

    Autonomous vehicles don’t require a central repository/authority. In fact that’s kind of the antithesis of what “autonomous” means – self-driving cars as they currently exist are self-contained and get their instruction from inside the vehicle.

    Of course there must be a central database, if only for the navigation. In the context of Riley‘s post, in which he linked to Charles C.W. Cooke’s prediction that AVs will ultimately lead to a prohibition on human operation of motor vehicles, there will surely be a central database where at minimum each AV’s location and destination will be stored, at least for the duration of the trip.

    Furthermore, if the economics prove as predicted, individuals won’t own AVs, they will simply pay for the travel. That means each passenger will have to submit his identity to the central database for whomever operates the fleet of AVs.

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    Third – unrelated to Riley‘s post, I reject the implication that only government can provide a network of AVs. This is a tremendous market opportunity, and the spectrum of possibilities is breathtaking and exciting.

    TallCon (View Comment):
    TallCon

    There would still be a ginormous database controlled by someone. I’m the farthest thing from a privacy nut but that does skeeve me out a bit. (I know Google already knows more about me than I probably do my own self.)

    What’s the alternative? I share your concerns about Google’s data collection, and data collection is the very reason I refuse to submit to the Apple collective.

    At the same time, I want the dramatically improved efficiency and safety that AVs offer, and few have mentioned the potential for vast taxpayer savings through the elimination of universally unprofitable mass transit systems.

    • #26
    • August 6, 2018, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Miffed White Male Member

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    Autonomous vehicles don’t require a central repository/authority. In fact that’s kind of the antithesis of what “autonomous” means – self-driving cars as they currently exist are self-contained and get their instruction from inside the vehicle.

    Of course there must be a central database, if only for the navigation.

    So how do self-driving cars (to the extent they exist) manage now without that central database?

    Navigation doesn’t require a central database – it requires an accurate GPS and Map.

     

    • #27
    • August 6, 2018, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. LibertyDefender Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    Autonomous vehicles don’t require a central repository/authority. In fact that’s kind of the antithesis of what “autonomous” means – self-driving cars as they currently exist are self-contained and get their instruction from inside the vehicle.

    Of course there must be a central database, if only for the navigation.

    So how do self-driving cars (to the extent they exist) manage now without that central database?

    Navigation doesn’t require a central database – it requires an accurate GPS and Map.

    I’m not as certain as you are that Today’s Autonomous Vehicles don’t use a central database. If they use a route-generation program such as the WAZE traffic app to navigate, then their location and destination is stored in a central database, where their route (as well as alternative routes) is generated.

    (WAZE crowd-sources real time traffic information, and generates routes based on that real time traffic data. Users of WAZE often get updates mid-trip announcing a change in the route due to changing traffic conditions.)

    If AVs don’t use such route-generation software, they’ll get stuck in traffic jams more often than they ought to. But maybe that’s cause to be optimistic: once human drivers are eliminated, the accident rate will drop so dramatically that perhaps future AVs might indeed need only GPS and a self-contained map.

    • #28
    • August 6, 2018, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. LibertyDefender Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, as far as “lack of anonymity” goes, that doesn’t require autonomous/self-driving vehicles – that just requires license plate scanners, which already exist.

    License plate scanners don’t tell anyone who is driving or otherwise traveling in the licensed vehicle. That leads to another rant for another post, regarding the blatant unconstitutionality, the tyranny of ticket-issuing cameras that issue the ticket based entirely on the license plate info. That is not evidence of who is operating the vehicle.

    • #29
    • August 6, 2018, at 3:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Miffed White Male Member

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, as far as “lack of anonymity” goes, that doesn’t require autonomous/self-driving vehicles – that just requires license plate scanners, which already exist.

    License plate scanners don’t tell anyone who is driving or otherwise traveling in the licensed vehicle. That leads to another rant for another post, regarding the blatant unconstitutionality, the tyranny of ticket-issuing cameras that issue the ticket based entirely on the license plate info. That is not evidence of who is operating the vehicle.

    Neither would any other centralized traffic flow monitor tell you who’s in the vehicle.

    • #30
    • August 6, 2018, at 3:55 PM PDT
    • Like
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