Last week, on our commute to her school, my daughter made a rather dismissive comment about cars. She said "Ian, cars aren't cool anymore". I've heard quite a few kids say that recently, and studies show that more and more kids are opting out of learning to drive, partially due to the financial climate, but also out of dissatisfaction.

And I think it's true that cars aren't cool anymore. There was a time when cars were cool - back in the 1920s, when most of them had an open cockpit, when you started them with a crank and when you needed to wear goggles and a heavy driving coat. But now? She's right - they aren't cool, and I think they're not very 'manly'.

My daughter made me realize that, as far as 'manly' commuting goes, driving a car leaves something to be desired: it's air conditioned, you sit in a comfy chair, you can drive in your shirt even in a blizzard, there's a radio, cupholders, GPS, etc. It's hardly 'Scott of the Antarctic'. The motorist's motto is something akin to "Hope the seat warmer is working" or "Glad I've got my coffee".

Meanwhile, those on bicycles and motorbikes have a different and much more rugged experience: you're out in the elements, you're on a saddle (how manly is that!), no radio, no cupholder (other than a cage with a bottle of near freezing water), no GPS, you must balance and wrestle the bike through rain, wind, snow. Your motto, like that of the Post Office is "Victory or Death". If you cycle more than half a mile you get more excitement than a motorist gets in a week.

Even car ads have a sort of desperation about them - they're all about danger, thrills and driving fast somewhere exotic, but when the ad gets to the interior, it always just looks kinda weak. And the outside... well, they all look the same - and they're almost always offered in shades of grey. And you know that when you actually drive it, it's not going to be an experience of driving like a bat out of hell on the Nurburgring - it's going to be pottering along at 5mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic while cyclists and bikers pass you by. The fact is, the modern car experience is slow, frustrating and BORING!

So, assuming other members buy the premise, what happened to make cars go all wimpy and boring? And when did it happen? Was there some key moment when the car lost its manliness? Why is it that modern cars just don't have that 'manliness quotient' anymore?

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Ummmm, no. Any car can be manly, it is up to the driver to bring it out of the vehicle. .

Perhaps.  Perhaps you can also be manly while wearing a cute demi-bra and pantie set.  Or maybe a nice chemise.  I'm not sold on the concept though.

Most of my friends race. From 24hr of Lemons to American Iron Horse to just local SCCA and NASA events. It really isn't the car. I've seen these guys take cars that most of you guys would laugh at and run them through the moves. Sure, the cars they fix up for the bigger races can do more, but I've seen them lap Porches in a Rabbit

What you're saying is that excellence compensates for mediocre circumstances. Men who know cars inside out can do things others cannot. But any man who knows a car can distinguish the powerful from the impotent. There is something to be said for that difference.

Hell, if a man loves a woman, he gets a sense of beauty that is not obvious to other men. But all men have a sense of whether a woman is beautiful or ugly. Should that distinction be thrown away, too?

No, I am saying that a man can use a tool efficiently and to the extremes of its ability and that most people who bitch and whine and cry about the superficials such as some manliness quotient or beauty honeslty don't know dick about the ability of the vehicle or tool in question nor would they be able to get a fraction of the utility out of that tool/vehicle.

What does any of that have to do with having a Neon as a daily driver?

It means that it isn't any of your business deciding some arbitrary manliness quotient to what any one else drives and that if you aren't getting your fill of manliness because of what you drive than your manliness is severly lacking in many other places.

So, you drive a chick car.  Got it.

ppssssssttttttt I think he drives a prius... 

Shields, I cannot see why it is any of your business that Shane decides what anyone else drives. But if it is--surely, you admit that there is a point in taking pride in things. I often think that only the few experts are apt judges of the various domains of knowledge. But unless the tyranny of the wise replaces the good ol' American way, what is there to be done? Abandon all judgments of courages or beauty?

What the hell did he just say? Seriuosly, I have no clue what was just said here.

Alright, let me explain it again.

If you take the principle that only experts really are apt judges of a thing--like the greatest drivers for cars or the greatest doctors for bodily health or the greatest architects for buildings--then the tyranny of the wise is the embodiment of that principle.

You cannot vote on what buildings will stand, & endure; nor on medical treatments; nor on the mechanics of cars. It has to be done by science, in accordance with necessity. Ultimately, only a few are apt judges. If you transform that into a political principle, to see what you're thinking about really, as it would happen with people, then you arrive at the tyranny of the wise.

But men are opinionated creatures--the Bible calls the Jews stiff-necked: They do not like to bow. All who will not live on their knees must use their own judgment. All Shane did was judge about beauty & nobility, really, because that's what manliness aspires to achieve. You are wrong to say he should not 'decide for others'--these judgments are naturally universal. They apply to all mankind; they may be wrong or right, but not small-minded... Also, he is right. It becomes a habit; the philosophers call the agreement of judgment & inclination taste. You need to keep judging up until you curb your worse inclinations, strengthen your better inclinations, & improve your judgment. Otherwise, experience is useless. You end up like Forrest Gump-

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