I’ve Responded To All 347 Comments On WSJ’s “End Of Car Ownership” Article

People’s opinions don’t matter. That’s not to say their opinions don’t matter to me, or don’t have value to society. Quite the contrary: opinions have an immense impact on our world. No, I mean that people’s opinions don’t matter to themselves.

Your opinions should be the most cherished and challenged parts of you. They deserve long nights of deliberation and diligent exploration of facts. Most of all, after all that effort, they require the humility to change. An opinion is the position you’ve taken based on what you’ve learned, and if you’re always learning, you are inevitably going to change your opinion. It’s a tough pill to swallow: that you ought to work very hard on something, all the while striving to reach a point where you can say it was wrong.

What we often do, instead, is form opinions prematurely, defend them irrationally, and disown them when a more convenient one comes along. They’re so easy to create and replace that it seems wasteful to invest any effort in them. That’s why they don’t matter.

Here are 347 of them, most of which haven’t been deliberated or researched, and are likely to be erased from memory when their replacements roll off the line. They are nearly worthless, as appraised by the owners themselves — but because they do have value to the rest of us, intended or otherwise, they deserve to be acknowledged. Just kidding; most of them are Russian bots.

You will quit driving your GT500 when:

  • You no longer have the equipment, knowledge, or access to maintain it
  • You no longer find it financially viable to continue driving it
  • Agencies of public safety conclude that you driving your GT500 is not as important as the public not being subjected to you driving your GT500
  • Society no longer sees the ownership of a GT500 as an aspirational symbol of status or character

All of these are impending consequences of autonomous vehicles. There are productive paths that you, as a car enthusiast, could be pursuing to help ensure enthusiasm and the joy of driving continue to exist, and possibly even flourish beyond their current state. Crossing your arms on the internet in defiance as if you could punch your way through revolutionary macroeconomic shifts is not one of those paths.

The value proposition of a car as someone’s mobile storage facility is indeed one that needs more consideration on the part of autonomous vehicle researchers. Much of the “junk” is unnecessary in the proposed future, of course — petty cash, music, car seats, sunshades, vehicle paperwork, maps, etc. But something like kids’ toys and baby strollers are frustrating to move around between vehicles.

That said, does improving the baby stroller situation sound like an insurmountable problem to you? With all of the upside being presented by this technology, and all the research being done, you believe the conclusions of the article are silly because there is currently no one thinking about how to keep your baby stroller conveniently at-hand?

“Self-driving cars will be great as long as the human can drive when the urge presents itself.” Cool, so you see the value after all. What was all that mess about the stroller?

If I may summarize: you keep hearing about amazing technologies, but as you get closer to dying, they aren’t emerging fast enough to impact your life. Shouldn’t you be spending your time helping to move them along then, rather than mocking the pace of that which you look forward to witnessing?

There’s always one...

You couldn’t manage four examples of failed technological speculation?

I love the epiphany at the end. Sure, you will “submit” — but it’s safe to say you’ll submit well before you’re forced to, once you start seeing the benefits of autonomous vehicles. Right now you clearly aren’t looking for those benefits, so you see it as stripping you of some weightless joy for no good reason. Most of the things you have and cherish in your home wouldn’t exist if innovators listened to consumers.

Is it hard to imagine there was a Faith A. Burns in the early 1900s who had a joy of horseriding or walking around in the street with her kids, and didn’t want that stripped of her in the name of the productivity and efficiency of motorcars? And yet here you are, the Faith A. Burns who ruined your ancestor’s autonomy, complaining about things changing. I suppose the irony here is that autonomous vehicles could give granny Faith her safe streets back, to do with as she pleases. But no, you want this specific freedom you grew up with. That’s definitely the good one, right? The one you were around for. Your time is the best of times, and everything before or after you is inferior. Make sure to tell granny Faith how wrong she was to think the same of her own time.

Why are you concerned about who’s buying something and paying insurance on it if it isn’t yours? Do you you see a bus or train go by and think, “DEAR GOD, WHO IS INSURING THAT THING?!”

Yeah, get your commie hands off our roads which were definitely built by capitalism and in no way succeeded through policy resembling other forms of government and also are certainly not spiraling into disrepair because of our refusal to acknowledge infrastructure maintenance as a non-partisan issue.

I love this guy. He asks the tough questions… to himself.

You know what’s really funny about this? I’m reading your comment as one of hundreds that have introduced absolutely nothing unique to the discussion, yet you’re the one saying this article written by the Wall Street Journal is formulaic and redundant. You can justify squandering two minutes of your life to say something useless on the internet, but you can’t see the justification in publishing an article that might educate new people, or at the very least, make money off ads?

Everyone uses the word “freedom” like it’s all upside. It’s zero-sum. There’s nothing inherently good about freedom. The freedom of driving is the oppression of having to earn enough money to own the vehicle, to maintain the roads they drive on, to cover the costs of your (and others’) accidents, to be held accountable for the lives of others in situations where one would normally have no reason to be, etc. It’s also the oppression of having half your city or town off-limits for real use because cars are dangerous, expensive machines that need their space. And it’s the oppression of not having clean air to breathe, which seems like the kind of thing a rugged individualist like you would hate to give up.

There are dozens of other ways in which you are oppressed by your car, but the kicker for me is that you walked into all of this oppression having been prescribed to you by your predecessors, yet you’ve taken to it like Stockholm Syndrome and have no interest in challenging it. If life only gets worse as “freedoms” are taken away, why aren’t you railing against cars in general, and anything else that stops you from being a guy standing alone in an open field with no laws and no social support?

It’s kind of a primal urge, like all those other primal urges we’ve repressed and marginalized for the net benefit of society because that’s literally what civilization exists to do. Can you point me to another article where you’re commenting on how not being allowed to pillage and rape and murder is “meh”?

Here’s why those economics don’t work the way you think: https://medium.com/@mitchturck/your-data-point-is-incorrect-but-i-ll-use-it-f53ca7366645

Here’s why the economics don’t even matter: https://medium.com/@mitchturck/remember-when-we-thought-self-driving-cars-were-a-long-way-off-8264989b8987

Here’s a photo of a cute puppy:

I’d love to see one person honestly list out all the things they said they’d “never” do. This is what you’re ready to go William Wallace on, huh? Ok. The internet will check back in with you circa 2035. For the record, you’re in better shape than Greta and her GT500. Choppers should be pretty easy to let loose into recreational areas.

Who let this rational guy in here?!

Point of contention, though: it’s difficult to afford a new car. It is rather easy in this day and age to afford a used car, and those are more reliable than ever. So perhaps, millennials don’t aspire to new car ownership like their parents did. That said, this is all speculation and plays almost no role in the current success of ridesharing. Uber is overwhelmingly more successful in the few cities where nobody, of any age, finds car ownership convenient.

You tell ’em Willy!

Fair point, though it assumes trends emerge in an easily identifiable fashion. If the drop in vehicle sales over the past five years doesn’t impress, you could easily make the mistake of thinking it’s going to grow at that pace and overshoot the point where real impact will start to happen. People are very, very unskilled at identifying exponential shifts.

It’s all one big industry-wide marketing strategy to up-end itself and send executives scrambling to cut unprecedented investment checks in hopes of keeping their company afloat through the near-zero visibility perfect storm of autonomy, electrification, and ride-sharing… but THIS GUY KNOWS BETTER THAN TO FALL FOR THAT GAG.

Still the only real news source.

I bet someone’s going to chime in and tell you it’s a lifestyle choice, just like doing heroin or deciding to make a living as a mime.

Yep, there it is.

Ohhh, and Robert comes back over the top!! Kate is totally blind-sided! This is CommentBash 2015 all over again! What’s the next move here folks?! What’s it gonna be?!

HOLY MOLY PEOPLE, none other than John Sieminski coming out of retirement, traveling all the way down the comment thread from his last momentous post, and dropping the hammer all over Robert! Robert is paralyzed by the mild snobbery, surely lying lifeless on the floor of his home office! Get a medic! GET A MEDIC!!

Ah, you were doing so well with that first sentence. We could’ve kept on that one, right? Pondering the possibilities, the limitations, the proof points… wouldn’t that have been fun, and hell, maybe even educational? But then you went the hacking route and revealed that you don’t foresee shit; you just regurgitate whatever fear-mongering clickbait your favorite news source blurts out at you.

I want to meet the guy who is “often” saying the phrase, “pedestrian detection in NYC would be a joke”. Is there an opening in your circle of friends? How long does the conversation need to go before you say that extremely specific thing? Can you just leave me a voicemail the next time you get the feeling it’s about to come out?

  1. That is neither possible nor useful to society.
  2. Your words are a third grader’s regurgitated collage of the talking head commentary you’ve been watching on TV. You know the rest of us have TV too, right?

Right, thank you Pierce.

Phil, those were a lot of words that did not include the phrase “pedestrian detection in NYC would be a joke”… I’m starting to doubt the validity of your prior claim.

The next FIFTY years?! A fraction of the market for fifty years! It’s such a horribly unsupported number that you’ll have no problem forgetting you ever said it. That’s a cheap opinion if ever there was one.

I feel like Pierce is in the wrong room. Or maybe he’s the one person in this thread who actually subscribes to the Wall Street Journal.

SIEMINSKI THE IMMORTAL RETURNS YET AGAIN FROM THE DEPTHS OF COMMENTDOM! IS HE HUMAN? IS HE BOT?? ONLY THE WOMEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE STANDING OUTSIDE HIS DRESSING ROOM AFTER THE EVENT WILL FIND OUT!!

When in doubt, butcher a Hollywood actor’s quote. Fun fact: the use of both cars and guns generate roughly the same number of deaths in America every year, which makes your choice of quote pretty comical considering Charlton Heston would definitely not be in support of waving your loaded gun around with the safety off as you run down the street and text on your phone and sip a Big Gulp and listen to the radio and stare at the woman on the corner.

Phil’s circle of friends might be smaller than I estimated if he’s trying to make small talk with folks in the WSJ comment section.

Ok, Phil’s responding to himself so maybe he actually has no friends? He’s definitely a bald-faced liar since he’s now like four comments in and hasn’t repeated his supposed catch phrase, “pedestrian detection in NYC would be a joke.”

Also — sharp eye there Phil, spotting how articles published by media outlets that are located on the coasts are probably written by employees who also live on those coasts.

Now John, I gave you two awesome coming-out-of-retirement color commentary calls… you’re jumping the shark here. Don’t become the Brett Favre of this thread.

Biggest economic shift of the century may work for 85% of the population; society to ponder whether to move forward or continue dumping resources down the drain. More at eleven.

OMG, Pierce! Jinx!! Wanna hang out later?

Fuck, dammit… John. We talked about this.

Compressed traffic is exactly what makes this useful. If everyone was taking trips to random places at random times, it’d be a much more jarring shift to ridesharing and autonomy.

IBM still sells mainframes and you still get your news from websites that haven’t been updated since 1996. IBM’s biggest projects are AI and blockchain solutions, both of which play an integral role in the future of transportation.

I don’t fault Ron Brock for his misguided opinion… with a dreamy name like that, who would have the nerve to tell him he’s wrong? It’s just Ron Brock and a sea of yes-men.

Great, this guy likes the technology and has some concept of how it might help him in the future rather than just beat the “freedom” out of him. Nice to see.

That said — not really following the “more cars sold than ever” logic. I think you mean “more miles traveled than ever”, which is a popular point of consideration amongst researchers of this technology. More miles doesn’t equate to more cars when cars are shared and on-demand. We own a buttload of cars today… that number will never be larger than it is now.

There is a bed bug inside your brain, Kate. And it’s not benign.

You’re not supposed to actually read the article, Jason. Who has time for that shit?

Steven, had I known you were going to swoop in and post a summary of everyone else’s whiny gibberish, I could’ve avoided all this work.

Good lord, Dennis, go home! I’m so sorry man. Someone should’ve told you the Jetson flying car wasn’t coming today. How long were you waiting? Was it on the schedule? Did you check the website? Shit. Shit shit shit. I’m so sorry man. We’ll get you a voucher or… something. Sorry.

No one’s going to contest that it’s more luxurious to share a ride than have your own car. If you have experience with it, you should consider trying to help solve the problem. That said, everyone has a price. At some point the discomfort is trumped by the economy — maybe a lower price point for you than others, but there are a lot of people out there who would love to have reliable, low-cost mobility, and can’t afford to mind the smell of a stranger’s tuna sandwich.

John, like Brett Favre, is slowly devolving into a small child in need of constant attention.

This is still a pile-on for the joke about how the “paperless office” was supposed to be the future. I haven’t worked in a paperful office in probably six years. Do you guys work at a paper factory? Because you know that’s cheating.

More importantly, does anyone actually think paper is good as a source of shared information? No. Paper still exists in offices because those offices haven’t progressed fast enough. So if we all agree something should change, and it turns out we haven’t changed it as fast as we expected to, how is that a reality you feel comfortable kicking back and joking about? It means people like you didn’t do your fucking job, and then took it one step further by belittling anyone else for actually doing their fucking job. So let me fix this for you:

Remember the “paperless office”? That was a good idea we’re really far behind on implementing because people like me failed to contribute to its advancement. I have to imagine all this car technology will see the same disappointing outcome, because people like me will fail to contribute there either.

First things first: Dennis, I’m glad you made it home safe after waiting for that Jetson flying car for so long. I can understand why you’re not holding your breath for things after that whole debacle.

No one has a fucking clue what freedom means; that much is clear by reading these comments.

Hold up, are you claiming that an “on-demand” service will not be fast enough for you, while also saying “anyone with a license can now rent a car whenever they need to”? So needing a car now and getting it in 3 minutes is a non-starter, but needing a car now and being forced to schedule a pickup date in the future, then having to get someone else with a car to take you to the place where the rental car is so you can wait 25 minutes to rent it is the pinnacle of freedom?

These are fine points of contention if you assume the future only works the way you envision it. Futures don’t work that way though.

Got it, not going to happen. Oh ok, going to happen, but only in big liberal cities. So let’s see, that’s… oh, it’s all the big cities. So it’s going to happen, but only where 85% of the population is. I feel like this was addressed elsewhere by myself and/or my boy Pierce.

Okay John, you done got on my last nerve so the gloves are coming off.

Do you know what the vast majority of Americans vote for? Money. The jobs issue? It’s money. Immigration? Money. Foreign policy? Money. Taxes? Money. Throw a wad of money in someone’s face and you can get them to vote right, left, up, down, B-A B-A start. There’s no party allegiance when Option 1 is economically viable and Option 2 isn’t an option for anyone who doesn’t own a ranch. You go ahead and schedule a pity party for one at the VFW of your choice in 2035, because all your fellow Righties will be long gone.

China will happily take it to you, champ! Are you ready for that? Or do you want to reconsider participating in global innovation?

That is a great question to ask Google, seeing as ride-sharing has been around for many years now. You found no mention of it in the article because WSJ can’t afford to write a forty-six page article explaining the entirety of the business model, and you wouldn’t have read it if they did.

What will people do if they no longer have their own large mobile storage units to stuff shit into and find themselves in a situation where they’d really like to stuff shit into something? They will lose that shit. And if that shit happens to be family members, they might very well lose those family members.

Is that what you wanted to hear? Are you done now, or is that the thing you want to parade around as the reason why we should continue to routinely and grossly lose family members and valuable resources by allowing humans to continue driving?

Just kidding, I wasn’t about to pretend your doomsday scenario was reasonable. You assume the traffic grid sees no benefit from the ability to plan and coordinate an evacuation across the vehicle fleet, which is of course exactly the kind of benefit that would occur because humans by contrast are not coordinated and proved that in the exact examples you gave.

So far, no one who has used the word “socialist” here knows what it means. But they do know very well what their political parties want them to think it means, which is laughably ironic.

Thank you John. You were talking about me, right?

No one has built homes that revolutionize the way you live, so that’s a pretty big reach. And no, renting a condo is not revolutionary.

You know what Kyle? It might actually change your life a bit. You might have to be ready for that. Can you be a big boy for me and be ready for that? Or are you going to whine about your guns until we agree to stop making progress, and hand a world off to your three children with a note that reads, “sorry we made things worse, but your dad complained a lot.”

Where’s Pierce when you need him?

Pierce, you should run for mayor under the slogan, “The one guy here who thinks about stuff before saying it.”

Head on down to Judy’s Detailing and get a wipe-down for as low as $39! Cars, SUVs, buttholes, we wipe ’em all!


Okay, this has been fun. Let’s call the game early on account of ignorance. Half the remaining comments are just John Sieminski’s cries for affirmation anyway.