Thursday, February 19, 2015

Our Cars, Ourselves

I'm having one of those moments of frustration in the age of the interweb. A couple of days ago, I read a quote about why cars were such a successful invention. It said something like,

There are two important things humans want that cars provide: to be safe and secure and to see lots of new things as we move freely in our surroundings. Cars are a metal cocoon that protects us as we travel through the world.
That is not the wording as it was graciously written by the original author, just my best attempt to remember the gist of it. I think I saw it on on Twitter and it was an image of a paragraph from an article or book written in the 1970s.

I can't even remember any specific words that were in the quote, other than "car." Even that might have been "automobile." I'm pretty sure "cocoon" was part of it, but when I search that in Google, it keeps turning up links to child car seats.

At the time I thought, Yeah, ain't it the truth, but for some reason I didn't save it in any way that I could find later. And now it is lost in the ether so I can't cite the author or even get the wording right.

The closest I've gotten is this quote from young-adult author Barry Lyga:
Cars are little privacy cocoons that we take with us. If you could refuel while driving you could, theoretically, stay moving forever.
But that is not it. Just a bit similar.

Oh, and by the way, did you hear that fatal road rage incidents have increased tenfold over the past decade (from 26 to about 250)?
As a barometer of highway rage these numbers are a drastic undercount: They include only fatal accidents, not nonfatal ones. Cases like the one in Nevada also wouldn’t be included because they involve shootings, not car accidents. And they don’t reflect the thousands of unkindnesses drivers inflict on each other daily that don’t end in violence.

These figures roughly comport with Washington Post surveys on driver rage. Between 2010 to 2013, the percentage of Washington-area drivers who say they often felt “uncontrollable anger toward another driver on the road” doubled, from 6 percent to 12 percent. Commuters are more likely to experience blinding rage than non-commuters, the young are more angry than the old, and, politically speaking, Democrats are the political group least likely to drive angry, while independents are the most.
Which makes me wonder if Democrats are less likely to have bumper stickers, too?


Update: Well, darn, I found it. Here it is:

The human animal has two profound and conflicting impulses; he wants to be safe and warm, snug, enclosed, 'at home.' And he wants to roam the wide world, to see what is out there beyond the horizon. The automobile is a kind of house on wheels, but it will take you anywhere you want to go. You can conduct your sex life in it, you can eat and drink in it, go to the movies, listen to Vivaldi or the Stones, and you can dominate others, if you have more power and are adept with the gearshift lever. It is a whole existence. Or it is till the gas runs out.
--McDonald Harris, New York Times, May 16, 1979
So aside from the use of generic "he" (in 1979! was it the NYT style?) it's pretty good.

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