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Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

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Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Old 04-18-10, 04:10 PM
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Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

I completely agree with this wonderful essay.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...922694492.html

APRIL 17, 2010

An Homage to Hummer

Comedian Penn Jillette laments the passing of the 'big, stupid' vehicle


By PENN JILLETTE

There's a feeling one gets when one sits behind the wheel of a really big stupid military-lite American Hummer. You have that feeling of being strong and safe, high on your pleather throne, above the fray, above the danger, not having to listen to anyone or anything, the rumble of a too-big motor giving you a wiggle and jiggle and tickle inside you. You have the power to run over anyone else on the road, if they dare monkey with you and your Hummer. Don't tread on you. Kill one of ours, we'll kill 100 of yours. You're Arnold Schwarzenegger before he was a wimpy whining begging politician in a state where he has to smoke his cigars in a tent. Put the Hummer bumper against a small building, put the lead Terminator foot down on the Hummer pedal, and the Hummer will move that small building. The Hummer is the four-wheel "heavy metal thunder" that Steppenwolf (the band, not the book or the artsy Chicago theater company) sang about. The Hummer is "Born in the U.S.A.," not the ambivalence that Springsteen slid into the lyrics, but the "Born in the U.S.A." we all knew from the straightforward title and the 2 and 4 of the drums. Do you know that feeling?

I don't. I don't know that feeling at all. I got my Massachusetts driver's license the day I was legally able, but only so I could safely drive my mom's little Ford Falcon 100 miles to see Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in Boston. I like Steppenwolf, the band, the book and the artsy Chicago theater company. I liked Springsteen right up until "Born in the U.S.A.," and I drive a little tiny pink Mini Cooper. The Cooper is engineered for 6'6" max, so I have only one extra inch to squeeze in. I didn't even get the stick shift. My little Mini doesn't go way fast, but even in drive-fast-take-chances Nevada I rarely go faster than 55 miles per hour.

The Mini has a comfortable heated seat and I had some guy in a heavy-metal T-shirt add in a great after-market stereo. I can ride my 20 minutes to work and back contentedly. I can pull into my "Penn & Teller" designated parking space at any sloppy angle I happen to land at, and the Mini fits easily with plenty of space all around. It fits sideways in my big stupid garage. I never have to back up and straighten it out. I never scrape the side mirrors. My Mini gets high enough MPG that I never get dirty looks…for that. My license plate reads "ATHEIST" and when friends drive my car, they report plenty of dirty looks, but I've never seen any of that. I drive oblivious. I don't ever notice the world around me. I'm in a little moving chair with loud music, nut talk or slanted news.

Cars mean nothing to me. I'm not a car guy. I let my motorcycle license lapse as soon as I could afford something more comfortable than my Vespa motor scooter to get me to gigs. I don't need the top down and the wind in my hair. I don't desire fast and furious or low and slow as the tempo. I don't crave rumble. I've never revved my car at a light for an attractive woman or an auto-rival, not even as a joke. I've painted most of my cars bright pink. My heart is so much closer to multilevel-marketed Mary Kay pink than speed-freak Motörhead chrome and black. I don't even know which "O" to put the umlaut over in "Mötorhead." I've seen Mötörhead live a couple times, but I couldn't get the exact pronunciation from Lemmy at that glorious ear-ringing volume.

Now it looks like the Hummer will be no more. General Motors has set a deadline of May 1 for any last-minute bids to save the brand, but it seems unlikely anyone will step up. Meanwhile President Obama has taken over GM and is jacking fuel economy standards up to 35 miles per gallon. The Hummer gets like 10 miles per gallon. The new standards would barely allow a Hummer unicycle. American auto manufacturers are thinking in terms of electric vehicles so the disgusting smoke will come out of coal smokestacks many, many miles away, and not right out of the tailpipe where you can see it, smell it and enjoy it.

Having a Hummer is stupid. It's stupid to waste that much gas. It's stupid to waste that much money on gas. It's stupid to parade your insecurities on public roads. Hummers are stupid looking. You don't need an attack vehicle for the Krispy Kreme drive through. My wife and I saw Adrien Brody in a Hummer at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons and it made him seem less like an eccentric pianist and more like a…Hummer. When Carrot Top came by my house to do my radio show, he drove up in a Hummer. It fit well with his big muscles. I have a friend who made his father turn around and take his new Hummer right back to the lot. My friends have to be able to take a great deal of embarrassment, but even they have to draw the line somewhere.

Hummers are stupid and wasteful and if they go away because no one wants to buy one, that'll be just a little sad. It's always a little sad to lose some stupid. I love people doing stupid things that I'd never do—different stupid things than all the stupid things I do. It reminds me that although all over the world we humans have so much in common, so much love, and need, and desire, and compassion and loneliness, some of us still want to do things that the rest of us think are bug-nutty. Some of us want to drive a Hummer, some of us want to eat sheep's heart, liver and lungs simmered in an animal's stomach for three hours, some us want to play poker with professionals and some of us want a Broadway musical based on the music of ABBA. I love people doing things I can't understand. It's heartbreaking to me when people stop doing things that I can't see any reason for them to be doing in the first place. I like people watching curling while eating pork rinds.

But if any part of the Hummer going belly-up are those government rules we're putting in on miles per gallon, or us taking over of GM, then I'm not just sad, I'm also angry. Lack of freedom can be measured directly by lack of stupid. Freedom means freedom to be stupid. We never need freedom to do the smart thing. You don't need any freedom to go with majority opinion. There was no freedom required to drive a Prius before the recall. We don't need freedom to recycle, reuse and reduce. We don't need freedom to listen to classic rock, classic classical, classic anything or Terry Gross. We exercise our freedom to its fullest when we are at our stupidest.

There's a lot of bad stupid around. Really bad stupid. But we can't stop the real horror by stopping just-plain-stupid stupid. We're not going to stop overseas wars by stopping people from driving big stupid cars. As long as we think that "nation building" is part of our destiny, no amount of independence from foreign oil is going to stop us from getting into meddling, expensive, immoral foreign wars.
As long as we let terrorism fill us with terror, we're not going to get our nonstupid freedoms back. Our government declaring that we need alternative energy sources, and betting our money on who might get a smart idea, is not going to give smart people smart ideas. It's really easy to see stupid all around us, but I don't think we want to be too quick to stop it. We need to protect other people's stupid to save freedom for all of us.

Yeah, Adrien Brody and Carrot Top wasted gallons of gas driving their stupid cars. I can feel smug about my Mini Cooper's sexy 37/28/32 MPG measurements. But I don't think we should be too quick to feel happy about the stupid Hummers going away. We're all making bad choices all the time, and most of mine are way stupider than driving a Hummer. I love my freedom of stupid. I bumped into Adrien one time and had a great talk with him, we got along great. I know Carrot Top well enough to call him "Scott." I know that they're both a lot thinner than me. They're both in a lot better shape. They eat better than me, and they can do a lot more push-ups and sit-ups. They can run farther and faster than me. So, in the near future, with us all being involved in each other's health care, Adrien and Scott might make up for their wasted gas mileage paying for my high-blood-pressure meds. If we're all getting together to stop the stupidity of driving a Hummer, will we have to stop the stupidity of eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and pie? Freedom is freedom to be stupid.

They came first for the Hummers.

Then they came for the pie.
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Old 04-18-10, 04:19 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Slippery slope arguments are stupid.
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Old 04-18-10, 04:25 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Hummer (and ALL large SUV) sales have declined dramatically due to gas prices, long before new fuel rules. It is true the new fuel rules might wipe them out, but sales already have, so, not really.
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Old 04-18-10, 04:32 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by OldDude View Post
Hummer (and ALL large SUV) sales have declined dramatically due to gas prices, long before new fuel rules. It is true the new fuel rules might wipe them out, but sales already have, so, not really.
Plus, hummers were trendy, and people who worry about trends will just go on to the next thing. Hybrids currently, although the recent resurgence of the muscle car will probably inspire a flurry of sales to the haves.

After that, it might be BMWs, or pickup trucks, or who knows what.
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Old 04-18-10, 05:33 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

I love the idea of a Hummer unicycle, though.
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Old 04-18-10, 05:41 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

I really thought the article was lame. Anyone can say anything is "stupid" and come up with an argument. Personally, I find hybrids stupid. Why? Two engines in one car makes no sense to me. And the cost does not justify the outcome compared to similar traditional cars (Prius v. Corolla for example).

I applaud "things" like the Hummer. Someone came up with an idea (turning a military vehicle into a street car) and got it to production and good sales. There was obviously a market for it. IMO it means we live in a country/time when people can be successful with ideas. This is a good thing!

Course that same thing makes an argument that hybrids are ok. There is obviously a market.

Last edited by Sdallnct; 04-18-10 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 04-18-10, 05:53 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by Suprmallet View Post
I love the idea of a Hummer unicycle, though.
As a joke I decided to look up "Hummer unicycle" on Google and discovered that Hummer makes bicycles!

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Old 04-18-10, 06:26 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
I applaud "things" like the Hummer. Someone came up with an idea (turning a military vehicle into a street car) and got it to production and good sales.
Yeah, it was a really original idea.

Spoiler:


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Old 04-19-10, 12:43 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Yeah, it was a really original idea.

Spoiler:


LOL...fair enough. So someone recycled an idea that worked well once before...lol
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Old 04-19-10, 06:48 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
LOL...fair enough. So someone recycled an idea that worked well once before...lol
Actually, in the 70's a division of AMC produced both Jeeps and Humvees. AMC went down the tubes, brand ownership bounced around, with Chrysler eventually owning Jeep and GM the Hummer (civilian Humvee) brand.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:35 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Free people don't necessarily have the right to do stupid things if those stupid things have a detrimental effect on their neighbors. You may or may not believe in man-caused global warming, but the people who banned Hummers clearly do, and if they are correct, then the fact that my neighbor drives a hummer affects me.

Personally, I think they should be banned because they are too big to safely share the road with the rest of us when driven by people who don't have training in operating oversized vehicles.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:37 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by OldDude View Post
Hummer (and ALL large SUV) sales have declined dramatically due to gas prices, long before new fuel rules. It is true the new fuel rules might wipe them out, but sales already have, so, not really.
The F-Series, Dodge Ram, and Silverado are bigger than any SUV and all three were in the top 10 best selling vehicles of 2009. These vehicles will never be "wiped" out. I'm not sure which you are speaking of? The Ford Explorer? Is the Ford Escape much better? (#11 best selling vehicle)
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Old 04-19-10, 09:38 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Plus, hummers were trendy, and people who worry about trends will just go on to the next thing. Hybrids currently, although the recent resurgence of the muscle car will probably inspire a flurry of sales to the haves.
THIS is why there is no more Hummer. Trends. Plus, did you ever sit in an H3? The affordable H3 inside was tiny, it was like being in a box.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:41 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Personally, I think they should be banned because they are too big to safely share the road with the rest of us when driven by people who don't have training in operating oversized vehicles.
People rent U-Haul trucks and drive them around without any training. Those are way more frightening.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:07 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
People rent U-Haul trucks and drive them around without any training. Those are way more frightening.
The difference is that people usually only drive U-Hauls for a day or two so they don't have time to develop a belief that they are long-haul truckers who know how to maneuver their giant vehicles. So they tend to drive cautiously because they recognize they are driving far more vehicle than they are used to driving. With Hummer's, by contrast ... well, I'll let Penn explain:

There's a feeling one gets when one sits behind the wheel of a really big stupid military-lite American Hummer. You have that feeling of being strong and safe, high on your pleather throne, above the fray, above the danger, not having to listen to anyone or anything, the rumble of a too-big motor giving you a wiggle and jiggle and tickle inside you. You have the power to run over anyone else on the road, if they dare monkey with you and your Hummer. Don't tread on you. Kill one of ours, we'll kill 100 of yours. You're Arnold Schwarzenegger before he was a wimpy whining begging politician in a state where he has to smoke his cigars in a tent. Put the Hummer bumper against a small building, put the lead Terminator foot down on the Hummer pedal, and the Hummer will move that small building. The Hummer is the four-wheel "heavy metal thunder" that Steppenwolf (the band, not the book or the artsy Chicago theater company) sang about. The Hummer is "Born in the U.S.A.," not the ambivalence that Springsteen slid into the lyrics, but the "Born in the U.S.A." we all knew from the straightforward title and the 2 and 4 of the drums. Do you know that feeling?
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Old 04-19-10, 10:14 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Personally, I think they should be banned because they are too big to safely share the road with the rest of us when driven by people who don't have training in operating oversized vehicles.
Have you ever rented a U-Haul? Did you need special training for it?

edit: nevermind, I see somebody else already pointed out the hypocrisy.


I actully think a special license for operating larger vehicles like Hummers is a good idea. I don't think such vehicles should be banned however, even though I agree that they are stupid.

Last edited by Red Dog; 04-19-10 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:21 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Big motor? I believe the Hummer H3 had a paltry 5-cyclinder or something.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:22 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Free people don't necessarily have the right to do stupid things if those stupid things have a detrimental effect on their neighbors. You may or may not believe in man-caused global warming, but the people who banned Hummers clearly do, and if they are correct, then the fact that my neighbor drives a hummer affects me.

Personally, I think they should be banned because they are too big to safely share the road with the rest of us when driven by people who don't have training in operating oversized vehicles.
If CAGW is the reason to ban Hummers, then we need to ban all heavy commerical trucks because they burn WAY, WAY more fuel than hummers or all SUVs combinded.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:26 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Do you think work vans like these are larger or smaller than a Hummer H3?

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Old 04-19-10, 10:26 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
If CAGW is the reason to ban Hummers, then we need to ban all heavy commerical trucks because they burn WAY, WAY more fuel than hummers or all SUVs combinded.
Large cargo ships are the worst of all.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:31 AM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

The least fuel efficient vehicle on earth is the massive vehicle that moves the Space Shuttle to its launch pad.

I'm pretty sure that's still true anyway, if something has passed it it's been recently. So NASA blah blah blah CAGW blah blah blah.
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Old 04-19-10, 12:36 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
If CAGW is the reason to ban Hummers, then we need to ban all heavy commerical trucks because they burn WAY, WAY more fuel than hummers or all SUVs combinded.
There is a difference between a large vehicle that is driven in order to transport goods from one point to another and a large vehicle that is driven because somebody wants to look cool. One may logically feel that the additional carbon output is worthwhile in order to facilitate interstate commerce but not worthwhile in order to satisfy someone's desire to drive a big truck.
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Old 04-19-10, 12:39 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Do you think work vans like these are larger or smaller than a Hummer H3?



Smaller, but again -- I don't tend to see work vans being driven around by people who don't seem to take seriously the fact that they are driving something significantly bigger than the majority of the rest of the cars on the road. I do see that with people who drive Hummers.

But my "ban them" comment was really an off-the-cuff comment, and I think Red Dog's solution -- keep them, but make people get a special license for oversized vehicles like Hummers -- is a perfectly good solution, too.
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Old 04-19-10, 12:50 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
There is a difference between a large vehicle that is driven in order to transport goods from one point to another and a large vehicle that is driven because somebody wants to look cool. One may logically feel that the additional carbon output is worthwhile in order to facilitate interstate commerce but not worthwhile in order to satisfy someone's desire to drive a big truck.
I don't know about you, but I blame the people who don't buy locally produced goods for killing the earth too.

It is a silly rational. The effect of people who want to look cool is dwarfed by the truckers. If my group's actions have a .0000001% impact vs. 1%, why would you even pay attention to me? It is like the people who say we should balance the budget simply by eliminating earmarks.
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Old 04-19-10, 01:20 PM
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Re: Hummers are stupid. But free people have a right to do stupid things.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
But my "ban them" comment was really an off-the-cuff comment, and I think Red Dog's solution -- keep them, but make people get a special license for oversized vehicles like Hummers -- is a perfectly good solution, too.
Psssh. Next you'll be saying I have to have a special license to drive my motorcycle. Hummer brand, of course.
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