Reasonable people

So I decide to give Business 2.0 another try. And get to the “Wheels” section of the April 2005 issue, with a review of the Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG. And these sentences:

The CL65 AMG is, in fact, everyone’s kind of car. There is not a single aspect to the vehicle that a reasonable person could find fault with.

Bwahahah….Let’s see now:

  • Fuel economy: 12mpg city, 19mpg highway. I find a lot of fault with that, since the car I drive (not a hybrid) gets better than twice that mileage in both cases. Maybe the writer’s world will never run out of fossil fuel; must be nice to live there.
  • $186,520: Almost precisely 10 times what we paid two months ago for my wife’s brand-new top-of-the-line Civic EX. Enough difference to pay for 16 high-end cruises or a vacation home in many parts of the country.
  • …for a two-door coupe that weighs 4654 pounds and is 196.6 inches long: A big, heavy, beast of a car with wide doors combined with rough access to the rear seat. The review doesn’t comment on turning radius, but I have my suspicions…
  • The speedometer goes to 220, but the top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. The point being, I presume, that this overpowered beast (604HP) could go at an even more absurd rate of speed if it wasn’t “locked down” to something over twice the top speed limit in the U.S.

Not mentioned in the review, of course: It’s a Mercedes-Benz, which means you’ll spend a fortune on service, given the uniformly lousy reliability ratings and high servicing costs of the brand.

I guess I’m just unreasonable. I’m not going to shame anyone else for buying this car–heck, it gets better gas mileage than a Hummer, at least–but nothing to find fault with? In your dreams.

8 Responses to “Reasonable people”

  1. Matthew Klipstein says:

    OK, you’re right in each of your comments – except Mercedes reliability is unjustifiably maligned. B2.0’s remark was a bit silly. And “limiting” a 220 MPH car to 156 does seem a liitle senseless.

    I’m suspect my membership in the Environmental Defense Fund will be revoked for this, but I think the 65 is a magnificent machine. FYI, the turning radius is excellent. Your passion may be orchids. Mine is cars [and women, of course]; I love my CL65, just as I loved my 360 Modena. I also admire Hondas [especially the now, regrettably, discontinued NSX], and I enjoy orchids, too.

  2. walt says:

    “I’m suspect my membership in the Environmental Defense Fund will be revoked for this,”

    Grammar aside, the organization hasn’t been called that for some time now, so excuse my skepticism as to your membership.

    I’ll admit, looking at the current Consumer Reports car issue, C-class Mercedes only score “worse than average” on reliability, unlike the CLK, E-class, and S-class, which all score *much* worse than average. Maybe CR readers drive their Mercedes too hard?

    I have nothing against you or anyone else being passionate about a car. It’s when you say “no reasonable person” could disagree…well, then I get my back up. Particularly when it’s a gas-guzzling beast.

  3. Matthew Klipstein says:

    Perhaps you could explain to me precicely what solecism you think you found in my previous entry.

    Consumer Reports, which does better reviewing washing machines than cars, gets its reliability data by survey; owners of high-performance cars tend to be a bit fussier, and complain a bit more, about imperfections.

    I’m sorry if it’s out of your price range, but the CL65 [which is not a member of the C Class] is a magnificent car.

  4. walt says:

    This is getting pretty far removed from the blog entry, but:

    “I’m suspect” makes no sense grammatically. “I suspect” would be just fine. (And the name of the organization is Environmental Defense.

    I don’t know what would lead you to believe that the CL65 is “out of my price range.” Choosing not to buy something doesn’t mean an inability to buy it. It’s a nice snide putdown, as is your oh-so-typical comment on Consumer Reports–which, as you say, gets reliability data *from the owners*–a pretty good source.

    I know some Mercedes owners. They love the cars. They also spend a lot of money keeping the cars running.

    You love your CL65 (assuming you have one). I don’t remember anywhere that I said that you were wrong to do so. “Magnificent” is always a personal judgement. You’re entirely free to make that judgement for yourself. You’re not entitled to make it for me or for anyone else, or to say that any “reasonable person” must agree–which was the point of the post.

    I don’t see where I confided my salary or household net worth or anything that could plausibly lead you to believe that I’m biased against heavy, gas-hogging cars because they’re too expensive.

    You might want to stop while you’re behind. At least on this blog. I’m surprised you’re not out driving your magnificent machine instead of trying to justify yourself to the hoi polloi.

  5. Matthew Klipstein says:

    Walt, buddy, you’re the one who began the ad hominem. Moreover, you sound like a malcontent anxious to complain about nearly anything. It appears to me that you’re little more than a whiner with a blog.

    Obviously, the “I’m” was a typo, not a grammatical error. That was a cheap, unimpressive, and not terribly bright, shot.

    Those of us who joined Environmental Defense long ago are aware of the name change, but many of us still refer to it as EDF. I wrote a Brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for EDF in 1978.

    I agreed [and agree] with you that B2.0’s remark about “any reasonable person” seems silly, taken out of context. However, I should think the author was referring only of performance, and not gas mileage. And it’s unhelpful to your argument to try to attribute that comment to me. I haven’t tried to make any judgment at all for you. I haven’t seen the article, but I suspect the context was essentially “no reasonable person could want greater performance.”

    I drew my conclusion about your ability to afford the car from your relentless bitching about fuel economy, woven into your relentless bitching about many things. Fuel economy is, indeed, a reasonable consideration, but it is no consideration at all if you’re buying a CL65 or F430. Also, if you could afford the car, you would be unlikely the refer to those who can afford it as “the hoi polloi,” which, by the way, employed as you apparently used it, to mean “the elite,” is a misuse of the term – commonly made among the uneducated. It actually means “the masses.”

    You are right about my wasting time on your annoying little blog. I’ll avoid it henceforth. You can continue your whining to someone who cares.

  6. walt says:

    Yes, you really should avoid this blog.

    The quote was not at all taken out of context. Fuel economy should be a consideration for anyone who gives a damn about continued health of the economy and environment. Or is it that if you’re sufficiently wealthy, you are freed from any environmental or social responsibility? (“Relentless bitching” – wow, you have a way with words.)

    I know good and well what “hoi polloi” means and was using it correctly, but I see you find an excuse to imply that I’m not only poor but uneducated. Maybe if you actually read my comment–“I’m surprised you’re not out driving your magnificent machine instead of trying to justify yourself to the hoi polloi.” I’m suggesting that you’re trying to justify yourself to the masses, which you apparently presume me to be part of (with your assumption that I couldn’t afford a $186K gas-guzzler even if I wanted one).

    Funny; I don’t remember sending you a notice asking or insisting that you read this blog. I don’t know how you got here, but you’re certainly welcome to leave. And I’m leaving your comment as it was written, with its accusation of “whining” and all: Something most reasonable bloggers wouldn’t do.

    Bottom line: There is no automobile that reasonable people cannot find fault with. None. Not even the Prius, Civic Hybrid or regular Civic, Honda S2000, or Camry. And certainly not a $186K car that gets an EPA estimated 19MPG on the highway.

    Oh, that’s right, you won’t read this anyway, because you’ve stoped “wasting time on your annoying little blog.” Good.

  7. Matthew lipstein says:


    I just had to check back to see if you took advantage of my bailing from your self-indulgent little whining blog to take another cheap shot at me. Sure enough, there you are, shooting away.

    The original facts were that you took one sentence from a car review in a business magazine to lambast the magazine, the car, and then me. You will recall that I began by essentially agreeing with everything you had said. I said “you’re right in each of your comments – except Mercedes reliability is unjustifiably maligned.” I would also agree with your recent comment that “there is no automobile that reasonable people cannot find fault with,” although I might fault your ending a sentence with a preposition. My point was and is that your comments are correct, but you’re missing the point of cars like the CL65. It’s not meant to be a car which Mercedes will sell with the intention of selling many of them or with the expectation of profit. It’s an engineering showcase and testbed.

    So, you started with a review of an automobile in a business magazine [and Business 2.0 is a very good business magazine, in my estimation, although I wouldn’t generally look there for a review of a car]. You took one sentence, which I agreed was a bit overly-effusive, and proceeded to malign both the magazine and the car [about which you clearly know nothing]. Now, I know you read the stats on the car and objected to its weight, power, and fuel economy. But that’s really not the point of a Mercedes AMG65, Bentley CGT, or Ferrari Scaglietti, is it? These cars are exercises in great engineering. Such cars often lead to the creation of valuable technology that eventually makes its way into mainstream cars. Mercedes variable crush rate and passenger cocoon, are good examples. Mercedes developed these concepts and has never enforced its patents; instead it willingly allows virtually ever car manufacturer to copy them. In the CL, Mercedes version of cruise control, employing radar to keep the car a set distance from the car ahead, is brilliant. The car is a showcase for just about every safety and convenience feature Mercedes knows how to build. Walt, Mercedes didn’t build the CL65 to sell as part of its line of cars. They built it to show that they could. It’s an amazingly comfortable ride that can stick with a Porsche or a Scaglietti on any mountain road. Most people who bought the few they made, I would bet, are people like me who drive them a few thousand miles/year at most. So, while I would say the CL65’s mileage is pretty good given the car’s weight and performance, I think even you have to agree that, given the small number of them, and the likelihood that they’re driven sparingly, it’s fuel economy is largely irrelevant.

    You went on to challenge my environmental consciousness, about which, again, you know nothing. My everyday driver was a GM EV1 for as long as GM ran the program, and I’ll buy a Tesla Motors car as soon as it’s available. And, you’ll be glad to hear, my pool is solar heated. I suggested that you were complaining rather too much. After all, you complained about a car review in a business magazine, basing your complaints in part upon a review of an entirely different car in Consumer Reports. The CL has nothing whatever to do with the C Class [which was, I believe, the CR review to which you referred], but for being built by the same manufacturer. They are, in fact, about as far apart as one can get within the Mercedes line. To me, it’s as silly to rely upon Consumer Reports for an opinion about a car as it is to rely upon Business 2.0 for an opinion about a car. Business 2.0 does fine job of reporting on trends in business; its review of an automobile is an amusement. Consumer Reports is a good place to look to learn about a particular washing machine or a blender.

    You then decended to pure ad hominem. You quite harshly criticized me for owning a CL65, while, at the same time, questioning whether I actually own one. Calling me a liar, Walt? Now that was genuinely stupid. You then went off on my referring to Environmental Defense Fund, even though the organization changed its name to Environmental Defense a few years ago, about 30 years after I joined. Then you pointed to an obvious typo and criticized my grammar. I use voice recognition software. It makes mistakes. Sometimes I catch them all, and sometimes I don’t. Which leads me to another point, admittedly well off-subject. Why does a retired [or otherwise unemployed] librarian, who must be [I’m guessing] pushing 70, post his singularly unimpressive resume on the Web? You apparently managed to attend a great university, from which, it seems, you graduated without honors of any kind. You majored in “Rhetoric,” which is a wholly artificial subject, entirely unworthy of being a “major” at Berkeley, composed of jargon such as “rhetorician” and silly questions such as “what is the meaning of ‘audience.’” You then, apparently, managed to complete all of one year of an advanced degree program. Then you use an illiterate colloquialism such as “good and well” in attacking me?

    I suggested that a part of your apparent anger about the car might be due to its being “out of your price range.” You responded that I had said you were “too poor” to afford the car. I never used the word “poor;” you did. Statistically, I’d say I’m pretty safe guessing that someone cannot afford a $200,000 [by the time it’s out the door] car. You also gave some hint of your financial status when you referred to your brand new, “top of the line” Honda Civic. Now, I’m a big fan of Honda [it’s a truly great engineering company], but to say “top of the line Honda Civic” is a lot like saying “top of the line Number 2 pencil.” You also said people who drive Mercedes spend “a fortune” on maintenance and repairs. My friends with Mercedes don’t think they spend “a fortune” maintaining them. Even those of us who own of Ferraris, which do require frequent and expensive maintenance, don’t think we spend “a fortune” on it. Perhaps you and your friends should drive something else. Notably, while complaining about my observation, you never denied it.

    I’ll stick with my original observation: you’re a whiner, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  8. walt says:

    I’m leaving this essay up because it’s neither obscene nor off-topic. Why a lawyer feels the need to keep going off on a “whiner” is beyond me.

    “(assuming you own one)” – I do and did assume you own one. How is that calling you a liar?

    Then you choose to take on my resume (it’s not a resume, but never mind), coming up with my age (wrong by a decade), my employment status (wrong; I’m fully employed), my profession (I’m not a librarian and have never said that I was; I’m a library professional, no more a librarian than a paralegal is a lawyer), my major (how kind of you to determine that UC Berkeley makes up artificial degrees!), what that major is (you know as much about it as I know about you, your lifestyle, and your own automobiles: Zero), and my literacy. And wonder why I have my vita online (the answer’s simple enough: For several years, I was doing a fair amount of speaking by invitation, and it proved to be convenient to have publicity materials available on the web).


    I put up a silly little post (it was a silly little post, indeed “signifying nothing,” until you started making a big deal out of it) taking issue with an over-the-top statement.

    You’ve called me a malcontent, a whiner, unemployed, etc., etc., in comments that now run five times as long as my silly little post. I’ve called you…what?

    “Relentless whining”: I used the term “gas-guzzling” twice, “gas-hogging” once, and cited the EPA estimated mileage twice.

    So far, not including this comment, I’ve written 313 words that could be interpreted as negative about Mercedes-Benz or this particular model. (And there’s nothing negative about the car in this comment.) You’ve written more than 1,500 attacking me, Consumer Reports, Hondas, and any criticism of the Mercedes.

    I apologize for (a) suggesting that you weren’t really an ED member (although your’e the one who brought ED up in the first place) and (b) questioning the turning radius of the car, which turns out to be excellent.

    Now I’ll take my uneducated, illiterate, whining little self and get back to work.