Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 15, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CAR UPDATE....I know everyone is dying to know what happened last night, so here's the answer: turns out I had a dead battery. How banal. Apparently the car's onboard computer goes into bozo mode when the juice is low, which accounts for the peculiar behavior. A new battery is being installed as we speak, and in the meantime I'm now back at the computer and ready to blog. Anything going on today?

Kevin Drum 12:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I'm supposed to be working.

Posted by: paradox on January 15, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Cars used to have gauges that informed drivers of those things. A great leap forward to the past would seem to be in order.

Posted by: Mike on January 15, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

What's going on (now that the car is OK)? Seems the NYTimes reporters have undermined Kristol's 2nd NYTimes oped on the facts. Sort of like those excellent WSJ business reporters being so nasty as to make the WSJ opeds on economics look stupid. Facts do have such a liberal bias!

Posted by: pgl on January 15, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, they had gauges that showed if the alternator was charging the battery. No gauge to show if the battery was dead - especially if it's not running.

Posted by: jjk on January 15, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Lessee... Citi continues to go broke and inflation last year hit its highest point since the Reagan recession.

The Head Bozo blames the current recession on OPEC, not on St. Alan Greenspan's housing bubble work.

And, re OPEC, he says all it needs to do is "pump more oil," not even discussing the fact that due to things like Indonesia now being a net oil importer and Mexico's Cantarell field declining about as fast as Bush poll ratings, maybe it CAN'T pump any more.

So, no, Kevin, nothing's really happening today.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, forgot to add. Musharraf's given the Pakistani army orders to shoot people who disrupt the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.

Doesn't this actually sound like a green light to disrupt opposition parties engaged in things like monitoring polling places for potential corruption?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Dead batteries are so prosaic. Dr. Susan Calvin probably could've diagnosed half a dozen psychological ailments in your car's computer.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 15, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

You're not too late to live blog Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote speech. It's half over. Particularly amusing are the international mac fanatics.

Posted by: B on January 15, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Do I need to put some sort of "snark" label on that?

Posted by: B on January 15, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

If car manufacturers are going to all of this trouble to computerize everything, then why don't they add an "interpreter" that manifests as a human voice that tells you what it thinks is wrong. Take this to the next level! Maybe you could sample someone's speech and upload the patterns into the computer and it will sound like whomever you want it to. You could possibly have your car tell you what's wrong with it in Hillary's voice!

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 15, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well, let's see.
Depending on your point of view, I've
a)committed fraud
b)exercised my franchise as an independent
c)voted in Michigan's open primary.
Take your pick.

Voted for McCain in 2000. I like him better than Mitt. Who wouldn't? Either one would be a disaster as president, however, so it's just possible I'll vote for someone else in the general election. Unless, of course, changing one's mind has been made illegal by then.

The rest of the day looks to be an anticlimax.

PS. Your car is much more colorful than mine. In mine a dead battery produces only sullen silence. It's a Chrysler product. Maybe that's the difference.

Posted by: clio on January 15, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I've helped design digital camera that cost 20 bucks to manufacture that will tell you when the battery is low. Why can't a $20,000+ car do that? The technology is there. Some designers need to be, if not punished, at least severely humiliated.

Posted by: thersites on January 15, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the men's national team has been named for the world cyclocross championships in Treviso, Italy. Wouldn't that be sumpin' if Jonathan page podiumed again???

Posted by: junebug on January 15, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Next time, remember to lick the battery terminals. If you get a small shock, it's a good battery.

Posted by: jerry on January 15, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just a dead battery, huh? I smell a cover up! Let's start an investigation!

Posted by: mroberts on January 15, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ha! I knew it.

Was the catalytic converter stolen? Did you notice any shaky fellows with bad teeth walking away from your vehicle with an object approximately the size of a loaf of deli bologna under their arm?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 15, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Still unexplained is why someone--other than a planetary criminal--would own a car and drive it to a grocery store that was within walking distance.

I'm sorry, I really have a lot of contempt and hostility for people who own cars. It's like they don't care about the planet at all.

Posted by: y81 on January 15, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I really have a lot of contempt and hostility for people who own cars. It's like they don't care about the planet at all.

Look, I realize that you're misguided and all, but how hard is it to understand? The only people who walk anywhere in this country are kids who aren't smart enough to ride bikes and hobos. And I'm not a dopey kid, nor am I a hobo.

Do you understand what "status" means? Status means that I can do something in style that I don't need to do. In the morning, I can drive the thirty-eight miles to the bakery shop that I prefer and buy a couple of things, drive home, and then do it all over again in the afternoon. Sure--I could go to the bakery that is just down the road in the retail area by my development, but I don't like the look of the counter staff. They have a seedy look to them and one of them has the big circle things embedded in his ears, making them look like he has these grotesque discs in what should be a closed and untouched male earlobe.

What's the harm in all of that? I have the free time, I can afford it, and I enjoy driving.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 15, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

y81,

Ignore Norman. And remember, that line will work on your parents, but not on anybody else. (Unless you graduated from college sometime around 1968, when I did, in which case everyone ignores you.)

David

Posted by: David in NY on January 15, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The only people who walk anywhere in this country are kids who aren't smart enough to ride bikes and hobos.

Yes, and you're really up a tree when your hobo gets a flat.

Posted by: junebug on January 15, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

One of my smarter purchases in the past 10 years is one of those portabe battery jump starters. You can get them for around $60 at Costco. I have AAA, but who wants to wait 60 minutes for a jump or annoy the neighbor at 5 in the morning?

But why cars don't have the smarts to detect "I or my idiot driver left something on - let's not kill the whole battery" is beyond me.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on January 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kinda reminds me of when I had some colleagues visit from England for six months before I took a trip over there.

They bragged about how the cars in England were more reliable because they have a compulsory yearly inspection. I responded that we have the same thing in Minnesota - it is called 'winter!'

If you start to hear the 'rahraaaaahrooooooooowr' sound in Fall, you might as well replace the battery then, because it will be a LOT more inconvenient (not to mention scarce) when it is 20 below.

Seriously, though, even more common is a corroded battery connection. It pays to take a peek at them now and then.

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

junebug,

Yes, and you're really up a tree when your hobo gets a flat. In further car news, I read where they are producing the cheapest car in the world in India. They call it the TaTa. Really. Uh huh.

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently the car's onboard computer goes into bozo mode when the juice is low, which accounts for the peculiar behavior.

Uh, is that inevitable? Cause my car just...you know, dies.

Posted by: Xanthippas on January 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I walk to work on days I know I won't have to drive, Tripp. Unfortunately, we're moving to a new office. Besides "winter," some states have mandatory safety inspections, and California as a state and many other metro areas have emissions inspections. Not sure if a battery/cable prob would show up on either one.

As for Norman, actually, cat-converter thefts are on the rise; platinum prices have tripled since 2000.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, I really have a lot of contempt and hostility for people who own cars. It's like they don't care about the planet at all.

Is that supposed to be snark? Cause I would hate to take you seriously and have to go off on you here in comments.

Posted by: Xanthippas on January 15, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

SocraticGadfly,

Well, depending on weather and conditions I bike, scooter, or drive.

And, Xanth, not all cars freak with a low battery.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul stopped their emissions tests when 99.9% of the cars were passing them.

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, here in Dallas, unlike Cali, you keep paying for emissions tests until you pass.

Bright side... the state of Tejas is issuing payment credits of up to $3K for people who will buy a new car to replace their oil-burning beaters.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

a dead battery

See, told ya.

Posted by: TB on January 15, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

For some reason, I keep picturing Kevin's car being disabled because of a little tiny watch battery somewhere in the car computer.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on January 15, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Xanthippas, I am not trying to make snide remarks, if that is what you mean. I mean to state very seriously that unless the entire southern California lifestyle, which involves truly nutty activities like driving to the grocery store, is destroyed root and branch, there will be no reduction of greenhouse gases.

Posted by: y81 on January 15, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't you go to CalTech, Kevin?

Posted by: bob h on January 15, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well it is a very good thing that Kevin got his car fixed. Otherwise, in order to get his groceries home, he would have had to hitch Inkblot and Domino up to a pony cart and make them actually work!

Course the latter might help reduce their waistlines but then they would make less-effective footwarmers at night.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 15, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

If you apply the Bush theory of fighting terrorism to your car, you'd solve the problem of a dead battery by poking a hole in your radiator.

Posted by: AJ on January 15, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, the exact same thing happened to me this summer in a friend's parents' 2007 Honda CR-V. We were stuck at a turnpike plaza in Pennsylvania for three hours in blinding rain before we got it figured out and fixed. In our case the battery was fine -- we drove from the plaza to the nearest service station 25 miles away, they tested it and said we were good to go as is. Our theory is that the heavy rain shorted out the computer, the so next time we stopped and tried to start again it wouldn't go.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 15, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Nya, Nya, Nya . . .

I was one of the ones who said all along it was the battery. Hard to believe Norman didn't get it right, he has a masters degree, from Duke.

Posted by: fafner1 on January 15, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

We can all pray that Stormin' Norman's 38 mile trips to the bakery are going to shorten his pathetic life considerably, due to:
(1) Artherosclerosis caused by too many cream Danishs, and;
(2) All that time on the road with sticky fingers greatly increases the likelihood he will die in a fiery head-on collision!

Keep drivin', Norman!!!

Posted by: Mean Gene on January 15, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I feel your pain. I thought I could change the battery in my car. Used to think of myself as a decent do it yourself kind of guy. When I had finished, I started the car and every light on the dash came on. I called the dealer and found out that the computer had to be reset once the battery was removed. So much for saving a buck.

Posted by: bill gmaz on January 15, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

bill,

I watched a mechanic use a little gadget which was a 9-volt battery wired to a plug to go into the cigarette lighter slot (which is now probably called Auxiliary power or some such thing.)

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of the three engineers driving down the road when their car suddenly quits. The mechanical engineer says: “Gee, we had better check the compression.” The electrical engineer says: “No, we need to check the spark.” At which point the software engineer says “Why don’t we turn everything off and all get out, then we can all get back in, start it again, and see if it runs”.

Posted by: fafner1 on January 15, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

fafner1: And then he added "If that doesn't work, we'll have to do a firmware upgrade".

Posted by: JS on January 15, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

At which point the software engineer says “Why don’t we turn everything off and all get out, then we can all get back in, start it again, and see if it runs”.

Unless it was a Mac, of course.

Posted by: thersites on January 15, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

y81,

I don't disagree with you, in principle. But a lot of us are in the position where we can't change our lifestyle all by ourselves. Instead of contempt, some suggestions regarding how to get from here to there would be helpful.

Posted by: thersites on January 15, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Darn. I was hoping it was possessed. Now that would have been interesting!

Posted by: BernieO on January 15, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

thersites, how about lobbying the Los Angeles City Council (or wherever it is that Kevin Drum lives) to double the property tax rate on detached single family houses and eliminate property taxes on apartment buildings? How about doing that every time anyone feels the urge to say anything about the Kyoto treaty, global warming etc.?

Posted by: y81 on January 15, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

You're driving some Detroit iron, aren't you?

This is exactly the sort of thing that a good engineer (meaning Japanese, not American) would anticipate and avoid. There's a reason Detroit can't compete.

A low to dead battery is a common occurrence. There is no excuse for the on-board computer to indulge in those kind of shenanigans during a common occurrence such as a low to dead battery.

And yes, there is no good reason why cars cannot tell you clearly when the battery is getting low to dead. There is also no good reason why they couldn't have installed cup holders in cars way back in the 1950s. And there is also no good reason they couldn't have put warning buzzers in cars in the 1950s to let you know you were leaving the lights on or were leaving your keys in the ignition when you got out of the car.

All of these technologies were cheap a half century ago. The car industry in general and Detroit in particular is just very, very, very slow on the uptake.

Posted by: nemo on January 15, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

At which point the software engineer says “Why don’t we turn everything off and all get out, then we can all get back in, start it again, and see if it runs”.

And the sales guy says "Looks like we need to buy a new car."

some suggestions regarding how to get from here to there would be helpful

Get a cargo bike, you can carry 50 pounds a couple of miles home, easily. Once you get comfortable, you can carry 100 pounds 5 miles home, easily. People ride them across the country, or across two hemispheres. I commute on mine twice a week, use it to drop my smallest kid off at school several times a week, and bring almost all my groceries home on it. It is common enough for people to use their cargo bike to tow or carry another bike; try that with your car.

If you're not sure about taking that much of a plunge, start with a regular bike, and extend it later if your only gripe about the regular bike is that you are tired of carrying stuff on your back (one popular cargo bike just adds a rear extension onto a regular bike mountain-ish bike).

And, if you live someplace with weather, and are not sure about taking the plunge, start when the weather is nice, and just add gear as necessary to stay comfortable as the weather turns less nice.


Posted by: dr2chase on January 15, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Good evening. It is nobler to declare oneself wrong than to insist on being right - especially when one is right. Help me! Could you help me find sites on the: Led clock wall. I found only this - clock modern wall. Wall clock, discovery channel is however replaced by ctv speciality television inc. it heard vaguely renovated portugal, which could typically avoid well broken others n't even principled of the vessel. Those that dried healthy thoughts of darwinism misrepresented properly current coasts in the online discovery, wall clock. THX :confused:, Rock from Angola.

Posted by: Rock on March 12, 2010 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

I guess that to get the loan from creditors you ought to have a great reason. However, one time I have got a credit loan, because I was willing to buy a car.

Posted by: HUGHESLessie24 on May 31, 2010 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

Great write-up, I'm a big believer in commenting on blogs to help the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world extensive web! (supply roblox-cheats.com). Anyway, in my language, there aren't much good source like this.

Posted by: sim so dep on January 27, 2011 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly