It’s Just Lines On A Map, You Know

If you have time today, you might want to read about something that happened one hundred years ago. On July 17, 1918, V.I. Lenin (you might know him as the fellow from the Johnny Socko song) ordered the execution of the Romanovs. The details are recounted in dispassionate fashion at Wikipedia but they are enough to curl your hair: one of the children had an entire pistol magazine emptied into him before being bayoneted a few times, after which he was shot in the skull because he was still alive. When the stripped and mutilated bodies were delivered to a gang of Bolsheviks for disposal, they were enraged because they had expected to be able to rape the Romanov daughters before killing them. Failing that, they decided to use their fingers on the dead bodies.

When I read the Twitterati screaming for the triumph of “politics is personal”, that’s what comes to mind for me: a group of “resisters” abusing a dead woman’s body because someone told them she was a class enemy. These are forces which should not be released lightly. We think of America as a place where political discussion has always been relatively polite and reasonable but that’s only because our high-school history books omitted thousands of incidents where things got out of hand in the worst way possible, from the Memphis Massacre to the Bonus Army. I see a lot of people on Reddit and elsewhere, members of both the Blue and the Red tribes, who are very comfortable with the idea of destroying people’s careers and lives because of their particular stance on a political issue. That’s all well and good until the person you’ve destroyed decides that the shame of not being able to feed his children is too much and that the only possible answer is to come to your house and remove your face with a butter knife before committing what they call “blue suicide” nowadays.

Civilization is a veneer that we would do well to keep in place as long as humanly possible. David Brin, who is about as liberal as they come, wrote The Postman as an answer to post-apocalyptic fiction and a reminder that we are all better off because the mail gets delivered every day. As a parent, I would agree.

On the other hand, there might well be a breaking point at which it’s worth reconsidering the whole enterprise, or at least the Terms Of Service associated with said enterprise.

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1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham: Best Of All, It Has Mmmmmonticello Velour!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have here one of my favorites, the 1971-76 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The top-of-the-line owner-driven Cadillac. Luxurious in space, in gadgets, and in power. The best “owner-driven” Cadillac money could buy. Despite the upper-crust European makes seeing increased sales, here in the heartland Cadillac and Lincoln were still the go-to marques for full-sized, uncompromising American luxury.

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Weekly Roundup: It’s A Start Edition

After the minor heartbreak of last weekend’s losses at NCM’s American Endurance Racing double enduro, it was really nice to come back and win both days at MidOhio with SCCA in my Neon. Yesterday I qualified 7th overall, 1st in class, and finished 6th overall, 1st in class. Despite being hit four separate times by the same Miata in this morning’s qualifying race, I was able to qualify 7th and finish 4th overall in the afternoon, just 0.6 seconds behind the third-place Mustang and picking up another first in class.

Click the jump for a video of my reasonably strong start, where I grabbed 3 places in the first 700 feet, and to read a rundown of this week’s contributions.

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Reader Review: 2018 Range Rover Velar

Please welcome Martin, whose loaner-vehicle experience was somewhat more upscale than most, yet not quite up to the level set by his everyday ride. As you can see from the picture, this one’s been in the queue a while — JB

During my time with the 2018 Range Rover Velar, the SiriusXM subscription included with the car introduced me to a variety of contemporary pop music that I had “missed” since I basically stopped listening to terrestrial radio about a dozen years ago. I guess that my arrival into my thirties might have been accompanied by a vague bigotry against modern pop culture, which had become so brainless, coarse and artificial that I retreated to earlier books, movies and music, looking for the intellectual and emotional meat that the current culture could seemingly not produce. I am sad to say that my negative suspicions of the mainstream music industry were confirmed, and in fact my expectations were too high. Top 40 radio is truly the negation of art, a soulless industrial product defecated from a machine fired with cynicism and hypocrisy. I sailed to the safer harbors of earlier decades, jazz, and classical.

Similarly, I had a bias against the small crossover segment. Here it is, the industry giving you what you want, or at least an imitation of it: tall, stilted hatchbacks, offering no greater interior space and worse fuel economy than the vehicles on which they are based. In many cases, actual ground clearance is only the matter of an inch more than the equivalent normal car. But you are sold the frisson of a ruggedly independent lifestyle, in which mountains are crossed and streams forded.

If you want to drive an SUV, you should buy one, and not these poor simulacra, which are neither fish nor fowl. I wanted an SUV, so I bought a Range Rover, and when it was down with the British flu recently (located in some part of its electrical sensor package, obviously), the dealership gave me the keys to a 2018 Range Rover Velar, in P250 S trim. Here was my chance to test my biases against reality. Ain’t nothing like the real thing?

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Failure To Proceed Edition

It was a bit of a heartbreaking weekend. We had everything we needed to take two wins at NCM Motorsports Park: the fastest car, the strongest driver lineup, a cadre of volunteers who could do everything from lift a fuel jug one-handed to swap a water pump in minutes. Sure enough, we were in first place by nearly ninety seconds at the 7-hour mark of Saturday’s 9-hour race. Then the overheating problems began — and they persisted through Sunday. By 5:30 that afternoon, all we could do was send Danger Girl out for the checkered flag, knowing that we’d barely managed enough completed laps to avoid being classified as a DNF.

On the positive side, we made some great friends and enjoyed some good times to go with the bad. I also had a chance to qualify a competitor’s car, which has to be one of the odder things I’ve ever done in racing. (The fact that I qualified the car ahead of ours was just the icing on the proverbial cake.) Marilyn the MX-5 Cup Car and her friends will be back in October for the AER event in Mid-Ohio. There’s a lot of work to be done, and a lot of money to be spent, between now and then.

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1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Coupe: See You On The Dock, Senator!

One 1980s Cadillac you don’t see often is the Fleetwood Brougham coupe. Wait, you may be thinking. Fleetwood Broughams were always pillared sedans or four-door hardtops! At least until the downsized front wheel drive Cadillacs appeared for model year 1985! Au contraire. Mid-year in 1980, for the first time ever, a Fleetwood Brougham two-door entered stage left!

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