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Will's books

The Silent Man
5 of 5 stars
Another great John Wells book. I previously compared Alex Berenson and his hero, John Wells, with Vince Flynn and his troubled CIA agent/assassin, Mitch Rapp. Towards the end of Flynn's short life and in his final Rapp books, Flynn got a...
tagged: fiction and troubled-assassin
Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones
2 of 5 stars
When I was looking up reviews of drones on the web, I found several mentions of this "book" (a pamphlet,really). It's OK,but all the information can be easily found elsewhere online. The repeated warning about crashing your drone and sta...
tagged: non-fiction
The Martian
5 of 5 stars
Wow. Just . . . wow. This was one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time. The story is fabulous and the execution wonderful. Basically a diary of an astronaut left behind in an escape from a failed Mars mission (though...
tagged: fiction
The Target
2 of 5 stars
I can't even begin to imagine why this book has gotten good reviews. I have read and enjoyed Baldacci's books before, but this is the first book in the Will Robie series that I've read. Probably the last as well. It's the third one of t...
tagged: fiction and troubled-assassin
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
3 of 5 stars
I didn't love this book. While I generally like Gladwell's style and analysis, he seems to be running out of interesting observations or topics to cover. There are a few good tidbits and the book is short. If you love Gladwell, it's wor...
tagged: non-fiction
Anthem
4 of 5 stars
I love Ayn Rand's thought-provoking books and stories. I'm fundamentally aligned with her libertarian way of thinking so, for the most part, her stories are just one's that drive home a point that I already agree with or, at least, under...
tagged: fiction
Thinking, Fast and Slow
5 of 5 stars
This is simply a fabulous book about how the mind works and how our behavior is driven by our levels of thought. It's not a terribly difficult book to get through, although it does require a lot of System 2 thinking - Kahneman's term for...
tagged: non-fiction
Killing Jesus: A History
4 of 5 stars
As with the other "killing" books by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, I really don't like the positioning that the book is based entirely on fact - insinuating the other crappy books I've read are made up. In the documenting of Jesus' li...
tagged: non-fiction
Wooden: A Coach's Life
4 of 5 stars
How can one not like a book about John Wooden? The man is a sports icon. Most of all, of course, he's a teacher, which is exactly what he wanted to be and prided himself on. He based his entire life on teaching basketball fundamentals an...
tagged: non-fiction and sports
Dead Eye
5 of 5 stars
Wow. Just. Wow. This is a great book. In the ex-CIA-troubled-assassin genre, this may be my favorite book ever. Greaney does a fabulous job of balancing action with storyline. Never gets boring, but the reader is overwhelmed by ridiculou...
tagged: fiction and troubled-assassin

goodreads.com

Subaru – The International Symbol for Slow Driving

I’m probably going to get myself in trouble here, but someone has to say something to get this out in the open. 

First let me say that I think that Subaru makes excellent cars.  In fact, they are some of the best engineered cars in the world and are sold at a terrific price point.  They’re not the best looking cars around – I think the common wisdom is that their exteriors are designed by the same engineers who develop the nuts and bolts of their all wheel drive system – but they are reasonable looking (OK, except for the B9 Tribeca), spacious and nicely appointed.  These cars are in no way, shape or form, crippled econo-boxes that can’t get out of their own way either.  When driven sedately, these cars can more than hold their own and when driven hard, like the way that valet who you turned your car over to last night did, they perform superbly.

I don’t have a single problem with Subarus.  It’s Subaru drivers that make me nuts (not you WRX drivers – you drive just fine and can stop reading here).  Inevitably, when I’m stuck behind a line of cars on a two-lane road (or a typical 1.5 lane road as we find often here in New England), there will be a Subaru at the front of the line.  And I don’t mean “once in a while” here.  A recent “scientific” study conducted by . . . me, shows that Subarus are responsible for holding up traffic a mind-boggling 56% of the time (number two on the list – Volvos – but that’s fodder for another post).  What makes this even more amazing is that this driving behavior appears to be consistent regardless of the age, race or sex of the driver.

Yes, I know. This is a broad generalization and you’re thinking that it’s wrong of me to attribute any one characteristic, especially a negative one, to what is probably a diverse group of people.  So PC of you.  But give me the chance to defend my position.

So, back to Subaru drivers.  Geez, they are slow.  Since these drivers have forced me to spend more time on the road, I’ve had more time to consider what Subaru owners have in common to create such a strong correlation between ownership and snail-like driving.  All I can assume is that the combination of the safety (zillion-star crash test ratings), all-wheel drive (good in bad conditions), economy (reasonable gas mileage) and relative low cost to acquire and own Subarus is what attracts a certain type of person that wants to drive like they’re in a funeral procession.  Thats’ right.  It appears that Subaru drivers are people who buy cars to get from point A to point B without any excitement; want to do it safely; and don’t want to spend an excess of money to do it.  Hmmm.  This is beginning to sound pretty reasonable.

Today, a Subaru cost me almost 5 minutes in a 30–minute commute.  I realize how stupid this sounds, but that’s almost a 17% increase in the amount of time it should have taken me to get where I was going.  It’s not like I’m an anxious, go-getting person who drives a car like I’m high on crystal meth or anything . . . well, OK, maybe I’m some of those things, but let’s be reasonable here, the roses exist for some weaker person to stop and smell.  Life’s too short to be spending time in the process of getting where we’re going, you gotta go-go-go until you get there.  After all, they wouldn’t call it “there” if you weren’t supposed to be at that place already!

[taking a break here to meditate and think about the journey – mmmmmmahhhhh, mmmmmmahhhh]

Maybe the problem is that when I’m in my car it is all about me.  I’ll make a deal with you, Subaru drivers.  I’m sure you’re a reasonable person.  Your choice of car is excellent and I’m sure you help bring down my insurance rates.  If you drive at least the speed limit, I’ll try not to have an ulcer while I’m tailgating within 12 inches of your bumper.  Does it sound like a plan?

  • Dave Jilk

    So many things to say about this.  First, a haiku I wrote a couple of years ago: subaru ahead traffic up the mountain slows to a glacial crawl Second, I never understood why Subarus take off from traffic lights so slowly until I drove a friend’s car to go skiing.  The thing had no power at all.  Then, try to go over a mountain pass – sure, you get good traction, but it’s like the Little Engine that Could… eventually… get there. Third, I live in Boulder, where Subarus are about every third car.  I think that part of it is simply that the Subaru somehow has a reputation for being a politically correct car, thus the drivers: 1. Since they are politically correct, anything GOOD that happens for them must be BAD for someone else (zero sum worldview), so they feel guilty if they make it through a yellow, or for that matter even a green light. Consequently, they actually slow down for green lights. 2. Start like a tortoise – remember the “don’t be a leadfoot” commercials in the ’70s?  These are the people who actually followed that advice.  Of course, they’re not counting the extra gas burned up by all the people who end up sitting at the light for an extra cycle (or two). 3. Aren’t in any hurry to begin with – after all, it’s about the journey, right?   I read not too long ago that Subaru has among the WORST fleet fuel ratings.  A typical vehicle only gets about 15mpg.  I don’t really see how that’s politically correct.  

  • Dave Jilk

    So many things to say about this.  First, a haiku I wrote a couple of years ago:

    subaru ahead
    traffic up the mountain slows
    to a glacial crawl

    Second, I never understood why Subarus take off from traffic lights so slowly until I drove a friend’s car to go skiing.  The thing had no power at all.  Then, try to go over a mountain pass – sure, you get good traction, but it’s like the Little Engine that Could… eventually… get there.

    Third, I live in Boulder, where Subarus are about every third car.  I think that part of it is simply that the Subaru somehow has a reputation for being a politically correct car, thus the drivers:

    1. Since they are politically correct, anything GOOD that happens for them must be BAD for someone else (zero sum worldview), so they feel guilty if they make it through a yellow, or for that matter even a green light. Consequently, they actually slow down for green lights.
    2. Start like a tortoise – remember the “don’t be a leadfoot” commercials in the ’70s?  These are the people who actually followed that advice.  Of course, they’re not counting the extra gas burned up by all the people who end up sitting at the light for an extra cycle (or two).
    3. Aren’t in any hurry to begin with – after all, it’s about the journey, right?  

    I read not too long ago that Subaru has among the WORST fleet fuel ratings.  A typical vehicle only gets about 15mpg.  I don’t really see how that’s politically correct.  

  • Chris Wand

    Like Dave, I too live in Boulder.  And Subarus (Will’s caveat about WRX driver’s applies here) are also the bane of my existence.  I think it’s not just the physical attributes of the Subaru that attract its drivers, but the sociopolitical leanings that come with a Subaru.

    I swear, a good portion of those Subaru drivers are driving the way they are to set an example and show the rest of us how to slow down and smell the roses.  And they choose the left lane at 10 mph below the speed limit to teach us that…

    And since Dave is contributing haiku, I feel a need to share a slogan I came up with to convince a friend (a single, straight guy) he really didn’t want to buy a Toyota RAV4:

    “The new 2006 Toyota RAV4:  It’s what Subaru owners buy when they want to look tough.”

  • John Bower

    I have heard that the opposite phenomena exists for VW Jetta drivers. I’ve not noticed it myself. Out here in N. California there seems to be fewer Subarus, so I’ve not noticed this quite as much, besides there are very few major roads in CA that are 2 lanes. The probability of 2 Subarus being side by side on the freeway is very small. If it were to happen, I am confident that the highway patrol would be dispatched to determine the cause of the blockage. I do share the observation with regard to Volvos. I think it’s not quite as bad as it used to be because they don’t push the Donald Sutherland voice over “Volvo, please drive slowly.” On a somewhat different note, I clicked on the Subaru link above. For those of you that do not believe in vehicular reincarnation I give you the AMC Pacer and Subaru Ipreza. http://www.subaru.com/shop/configurator/step1.jsp?model=IMPREZA http://amcpacer.panhorst.net/images/archives/presby1.jpg

  • John Bower

    I have heard that the opposite phenomena exists for VW Jetta drivers. I’ve not noticed it myself. Out here in N. California there seems to be fewer Subarus, so I’ve not noticed this quite as much, besides there are very few major roads in CA that are 2 lanes. The probability of 2 Subarus being side by side on the freeway is very small. If it were to happen, I am confident that the highway patrol would be dispatched to determine the cause of the blockage.

    I do share the observation with regard to Volvos. I think it’s not quite as bad as it used to be because they don’t push the Donald Sutherland voice over “Volvo, please drive slowly.”

    On a somewhat different note, I clicked on the Subaru link above. For those of you that do not believe in vehicular reincarnation I give you the AMC Pacer and Subaru Ipreza.

    http://www.subaru.com/shop/configurator/step1.jsp?model=IMPREZA
    http://amcpacer.panhorst.net/images/archives/presby1.jpg

  • http://www.2-speed.com/ Will

    LOL!  Good call.  Maybe old AMC designers retire in Japan.

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    LOL!  Good call.  Maybe old AMC designers retire in Japan.

  • Ron

    Thanks Will.  Now I see Subarus everywhere on the road.  Actually I think the reason you get stuck behind so many of them is that there are so many of them in New England, and Colorado for that matter.  Going home last night I got caught behind a Corolla doing 25 in 35 zone with a Subaru behind me, right my ass.  

  • Ron

    Thanks Will.  Now I see Subarus everywhere on the road.  Actually I think the reason you get stuck behind so many of them is that there are so many of them in New England, and Colorado for that matter.  Going home last night I got caught behind a Corolla doing 25 in 35 zone with a Subaru behind me, right my ass.  

  • SubaruDriver

    Yep. It is because 56% of people in your area drive Subies… Not because they are underpowered or the drivers drive slow. Look at any area that gets sleet and snow and you will find a large population of Subaru drivers. We leave the light slower because with an all wheel differential you destroy transmissions and diffs when you jump on it. By the time we hit second gear we are at speet limit..even with the 2.0 liter (smallest subaru motor) If you need to get there faster than that you are probably going to need blood pressure meds soon. Subarus get worse gas milage than alot of 2 wheel drive cars….guess why..AWD….no big secret. We sacrifice a little petrol to stay out of the snow banks and dodge your 2 wheel sardine cans as you try to slide into us in parking lots. Maybe you are jelous Dave….maybe you should go test drive a Subie…..It’ll change your life (wink)

  • SubaruDriver

    Yep. It is because 56% of people in your area drive Subies… Not because they are underpowered or the drivers drive slow. Look at any area that gets sleet and snow and you will find a large population of Subaru drivers. We leave the light slower because with an all wheel differential you destroy transmissions and diffs when you jump on it. By the time we hit second gear we are at speet limit..even with the 2.0 liter (smallest subaru motor) If you need to get there faster than that you are probably going to need blood pressure meds soon. Subarus get worse gas milage than alot of 2 wheel drive cars….guess why..AWD….no big secret. We sacrifice a little petrol to stay out of the snow banks and dodge your 2 wheel sardine cans as you try to slide into us in parking lots. Maybe you are jelous Dave….maybe you should go test drive a Subie…..It’ll change your life (wink)

  • DaveJ

    I have driven a Subaru Outback. Over Berthoud Pass. I have never driven such an underpowered vehicle.

    And I don’t care what gear they are in, by the time they reach the speed limit it is time to slow down for the next light.

    But I would rather these drivers stick with their Subarus than get Priuses. Those things have no control in snow.

  • DaveJ

    I have driven a Subaru Outback. Over Berthoud Pass. I have never driven such an underpowered vehicle.

    And I don’t care what gear they are in, by the time they reach the speed limit it is time to slow down for the next light.

    But I would rather these drivers stick with their Subarus than get Priuses. Those things have no control in snow.

  • http://www.2-speed.com/ Will

    “But I would rather these drivers stick with their Subarus than get Priuses. Those things have no control in snow.”

    As if just being a Prius wasn’t a good enough reason to avoid them.

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    “But I would rather these drivers stick with their Subarus than get Priuses. Those things have no control in snow.”

    As if just being a Prius wasn’t a good enough reason to avoid them.

  • Ken

    For what it’s worth, I’ve observed the same thing here in Seattle. Slow drivers are driving Subarus an inordinate percentage of the time.

  • Ken

    For what it’s worth, I’ve observed the same thing here in Seattle. Slow drivers are driving Subarus an inordinate percentage of the time.

  • http://www.2-speed.com/ Will

    Seems to be a consistent market for Subaru. One would think you’d see more advertising from them on those lines. It would be fun to see auto ads targeted at slow drivers – sorta unique. “We have the lowest horsepower in the class . . . “

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    Seems to be a consistent market for Subaru. One would think you’d see more advertising from them on those lines. It would be fun to see auto ads targeted at slow drivers – sorta unique. “We have the lowest horsepower in the class . . . “

  • shay

    Funny you say subarus are slow. When a green light turns im gone like the wind and I’m not a slooow drive by a long shot!

  • shay

    Funny you say subarus are slow. When a green light turns im gone like the wind and I’m not a slooow drive by a long shot!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/2speed Will

    When one generalizes, they're in for all sorts of trouble :-) There are, of course, a minority of Subaru owners who are more than capable of taking full advantage of their cars and making them work at speed. I'm honored that Shay here, as one of the few, has joined the conversation. Subarus are great cars – even better when people use them as they should. Thanks for leading the pack, Shay.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/2speed Will

    When one generalizes, they're in for all sorts of trouble :-) There are, of course, a minority of Subaru owners who are more than capable of taking full advantage of their cars and making them work at speed. I'm honored that Shay here, as one of the few, has joined the conversation. Subarus are great cars – even better when people use them as they should. Thanks for leading the pack, Shay.

  • Shay

    Thanks will your right. I do take advantage of what my subaru can do. I have to chuckle when we get bad snow storms an see fwd cars go no where. Me I sail on by but if you need a pull yes a pull I can do that to. Can yer fwd pull another car in snow? So for you folks in worcester, ma. We subaru wagons may look wimpy an not all that but we can go anywhere…

  • Chris Wand

    Like Dave, I too live in Boulder.  And Subarus (Will's caveat about WRX driver's applies here) are also the bane of my existence.  I think it's not just the physical attributes of the Subaru that attract its drivers, but the sociopolitical leanings that come with a Subaru.

    I swear, a good portion of those Subaru drivers are driving the way they are to set an example and show the rest of us how to slow down and smell the roses.  And they choose the left lane at 10 mph below the speed limit to teach us that…

    And since Dave is contributing haiku, I feel a need to share a slogan I came up with to convince a friend (a single, straight guy) he really didn't want to buy a Toyota RAV4:

    “The new 2006 Toyota RAV4:  It's what Subaru owners buy when they want to look tough.”

  • markrecktenwald

    I have made similar observations myself with Subaru drivers in northeastern Ohio. It reminds me of a phenomenon I observed in the late 70s and early 80s that my friends and I called “Chevette Disease.” Regardless of how underpowered that vehicle really was, the folks that drove them became afflicted with a serious a lack of aggressiveness. I have driven under-powered cars before, but you could still stomp on it and get the heck out of the way–but not Chevette drivers. Once they became infected with Chevette Disease, it was as if they lost their will to drive. Flash forward to this morning. I pulled up behind a long line of cars at a stop light on a 2-lane road. Sure enough, the lead car was a Subaru (I am sure they were braking under green so they would hit the light red). The light turns green and my Mom could have pushed that darn car faster than the driver accelerated. After a long drive with nowhere to pass, we came upon a major intersection with some added lanes and other cars already stopped at a red light. After the light changed, I was easily able to get around the Subaru driver (there was a huge gap in front of him). The road quickly returned to 2 lanes and there were more traffic lights up ahead. By this time I had opened up a pretty good gap on the Subaru. After passing through a green light I glanced back at the slow-poke Subaru–sure enough, the light changed and they were once again responsible for stealing a few moments of the lives of all of those drivers unfortunate enough to have been trapped behind them.

  • http://2-speed.com/ Will

    “Chevette Disease.” Perfect. What an excellent analogy. I totally agree with
    your thoughts about “you could still stomp on it and get the heck out of the
    way.” It's not the car, it's the driver.

    Thanks!

  • Pingback: Another Possible Reason for Toyota’s Problems – The Rest of Us « 2-Speed

  • Markus_MT

    Wow, I totally agree with you. Those BOOBaroos are going to cause me to see my therapist a few more times(at prime time), not to mention the extra ammo at the local shooting range.

    The car has always been great and reliable, but how did it attract the slowest drivers on the planet???

    ~M~ from Montana

  • http://2-speed.com/ Will

    They *are* great cars. I think it's probably Subaru's schizophrenic
    nature. Earthy crunchy all-wheel drive sometimes, high-performance
    rally cars other times.

    A floor wax AND desert topping :-)

  • http://2-speed.com/ Will

    BTW, BOOBaroos is hilarious …

  • John in Denver

    I googled slow subaru drivers just to see if others agreed with my personal observation.

    My take, they're just on average bad drivers. Even in Colorado, you don't need AWD. I shot around last winter in a Jetta and never got stuck, and never was late to work. But then again, I know how to drive in weather. Look at the post by SubaruDriver – you two wheelers in the ditch? I see Subarus in the ditch here all the time.

    So, here's my hypothesis – and yes, its a generalization. A Subaru is viewed as a great car for slow, cautious drivers who for whatever reason lack skills. They don't drive fast because they aren't comfortable doing it. They “need” AWD but can't handle even a crossover. They are very safe, again attracting the cautious, worried type.

    In short, the brand appeals to slow, cautious and unskilled drivers.

  • http://2-speed.com/ Will

    I think you're right on, John. Sorta like the Volvo safety thing (although that seems to be less of an attraction than it used to be). The brand is sorta schizophrenic, though. I remember reading several years ago that the company is basically run by engineers who just get off on their own product (thus the butt-ugly cars they often come out with). They have created moderately priced, excellently engineered vehicles and have ended up in the market you suggest. The cars, however, remain excellent, especially at their price point. The weirdness can be seen in the WRX/STi models. None of those slow drivers buy those, of course, but they are huge among the tuner folks and low-cost performance guys. I'd love to find out if Subaru ever even tried to reach the slow, cautious driver market or if they just fell into it accidentally.

  • Jonshrp

    I drive a Suby. The best car I have ever owned. I am 61 and have driven since 1965. My dad sold Pontiac and Gmc trucks from 46 to the 1970s. I have driven everything from the the goat to the desoto and the reo truck. My 2004 XT is by far the finest.

  • Wwingc

    I live in the Hudson Valley in NY and there is definitely Subaru disease here almost every time there is a problem with traffic there is a subaru to blame.,

  • http://my.opera.com/centralcontracts/blog/ www.centralcontracts.com

    I completely disagree.

  • Anonymous

    I just had a feeling if I googled “subaru owners are the worst drivers” that something would come up!  I live in New England and have to drive through Northampton every day to get home.  I believe: to live in Northampton you have to own a Subaru.  In order to own a Subaru,  you have to agree to: drive 10 miles BELOW the actual speed limit, leave 7 car spaces between you and the car in front of you in any kind of a jam, let any car that pulls up to a traffic jam–even if they’ve only been sitting there for seconds, into the traffic jam, and drive as if at any minute an accident could happen anywhere and you don’t want to be anywhere around it.  Volvo drivers are Subaru drivers who have just a little bit of a wilder streak and who feel as if they’ve “made” something of themselves!

  • http://2-speed.com/ Will

    Perfect! I love the Volvo characterization. As you say, Northampton is like Burlington, VT, Boulder, CO and many other places where Subaru driving is a way of life. Unfortunately, non-Subaru drivers often have to travel through these places and deal with the byproducts. Thanks for the comment!

  • Rick_sapper

     Actually I think a better representation of subaru drivers is their motto, “I inconvenience others only to convenience myself.

  • MarisaBrayman

    I could not agree with this more!  I live in upstate New York, and this happens to be on a daily basis. It’s ALWAYS a Subaru!

  • Pilsneuric

    “quieting” traffic
    nobel Subaru drivers
    banking frustration

  • Andrew Zimmerman

    Writing Haiku’s is a very politically correct way of expressing your irritation!

  • Andrew Zimmerman

    I’m unsure why there is a wave of slow, cautious drivers in our generation, or if things have always been that way. But it is undeniable that the Suburu Outback is a major symbol of slow driver. Not always, but 95% of the time.
    With regards to driving in the winter, usually if you live in an environment like that you have studded tires, so it doesn’t matter.