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Tail Lights: September 13, 2014

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Volume 3, Issue 10
Replacing Horses Made them Better

Bill Crittenden
September 13, 2014

2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT from new news source TorqueNews.
When the automobile replaced the horse, horses didn't become extinct. They underwent a transformation of sorts, from the mostly unhygienically kept but necessary beasts of burden of 1895 to the majestic, beloved, and well-cared for creatures of rural recreation and sport we know today.

What once was a menace to health on the streets of New York City, where owners treated them as resources for work, was relegated to the countryside, where owners treat them as family members. A century and a quarter ago, the inescapable scourge of horse feces on the streets was a huge problem for most major cities. Now horses are most visible as the beautiful centerpiece of the spectacle that is the Kentucky Derby.

Now that digital seems to be threatening the future of the printed book, let's look at just two of the main purposes of books: to inform and to entertain.

There is definitely a large portion of the market that consists of books printed and produced merely for conveying or having at easy reference a collection of words, data, or useful images. They exist to convey facts and printing them in book form was the most convenient and cost-effective way to do so. At least, it was until the digital age.

Printed books have been receiving some vocal appreciation from readers as digital content eats up ever bigger chunks of the book market each year, and the show of love seems to be a backlash against the digitization of the written word, a cold technological revolution spreading across the world like a Borg invasion. But fear not, book lovers, as printed books are not, nor will ever be, completely replaced.

Like the horses of yesteryear, the beasts of burden were replaced by technology that was superior for the task in every way possible. Law books, books of statistics. Textbooks. Academic journals. These are the book market's workhorses. They're not for enjoyment (except by a few strange folks), they are printed for the purpose of conveying information. Having them in digital form makes the data they contain accessible in ways books can't begin to touch: several gigabytes of data available, text-searchable and portable on a slim 14-ounce tablet.

Or an entire library's worth of information available in the palm of the hand with an internet connection and a few terabytes of cloud storage.

But even someone who appreciates the capabilities of digital technology also appreciates the printed book for recreation. I have a leather-bound gold-edged volume of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When I settle into a warm chair on a cold night, I don't want to be staring at the same two paragraphs at a time of glowing Arial that I see when I'm working from my phone.

When I take a book on a camping trip, I don't want to have a dead battery end my reading unless it's the flashlight dying at 2am. We go camping to get away from our flatscreens and iPhones, after all.

The printed encyclopedia is already all but dead. Dictionaries are being replaced by apps and Google. Perhaps by the time my son is my age $300 textbooks will have (hopefully) followed the encyclopedias into history.

But nothing will replace the smell or the feel of a real book when reading for enjoyment. I remember waiting in line at midnight for the fourth Harry Potter book, flipping it open and seeing the words on pages well into the book, my eyes trying to recognize phrases while my brain shouted "no spoilers!" and made for page one as quickly as possible.

Digital isn't going to kill the printed book any more than the automobile exterminated the horse, but in a few generations it will transform books from those heavy burdensome things you had to lug around and store everywhere into the stack of treasured favorite novels that every good home will have.

The book as used for information will be superseded by something as superior as a Ford F-150 is to a horse and cart. But then the book as read for enjoyment will be just as treasured and appreciated as the occasional fine riding horse seen along rural roads today.

NHTSA Images

The Fourth of July NHTSA campaign materials are online now, as well as press releases from the organization for 2002-2003 and 2014.

Also, a collection of 5 videos and 98 stock photographs of children and school buses for safety campaign use are also online.

Be careful, NHTSA had it online because the kids are back at the bus stops again!

Just a bit of seriousness before getting back to the fun stuff.

Dead Trees

I've added a few books to the offline collection. As we really do have an interest in anything remotely related to cars, I picked up a couple of NASCAR themed cookbooks. One is Mario Batali's NASCAR tailgating guide, the other is a collection of recipes by NASCAR race team personnel collated by Angela Skinner.


I've added a column to the Home Page where season-by-season motorsports pages will be accessible right next to the year-by-year content indices.

Also, in anticipation of a huge influx of new material vastly ballooning the file sizes of the Publications indices, I've begun to separate patents into their own separate index pages, a sort of sub-page of each year's regular Publications Index.


Speaking of the patents, I've been finding some fun stuff in this area. One I've found is of a design by Henry Ford for his Detroit Automobile Company, a failed business venture of his before founding the Ford Motor Company. Another is the patent for the DeLorean's gullwing doors, and one from NASCAR for a bit of 1990's race car aerodynamics.

True to library form most of it will be boring and technical and useful only to engineers, but there's going to be some fun stuff for the armchair historian and I'll make sure to find more of that, too. I've found all of SLP Engineering's design patents, those will be online soon, as well as design patents for mid-1990's Japanese cars, including the odd but lovable Toyota Previa.

History Beyond the Fenders

This issue's Beyond the Fenders entry is a big update to the Video Guide. As car culture is so wide-ranging, movies in the Library include vintage drag racing documentaries, an auto union labor documentary, classic feature films about race car drivers and car chases, and a road trip film.

But because so much is still copyrighted we can't share it, but we definitely can put a guide together of all of the automotive-themed films that have ever been created! In the last month we've more than doubled what's there, and when it's been built up even more it'll be a great guide for the "car guy" looking for something to watch on NetFlix.

It's at CarsAndRacingStuff.com/library/video/videoguide.php and suggestions for films to add to it can be sent to admin@CarsAndRacingStuff.com.

There is also a similar guide for music called the Playlist that's going to get a big update of its own soon, too.

Ed Carpenter Racing

The 2015 season page for Open Wheel Racing has been started already, as the announcement that 3-time race winning team in 2014 Ed Carpenter Racing will be merging with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to form CFH Racing. That meant I had to hustle and get the rest of the ECR press releases off their site before they shut it down, a lesson learned when Stone Brothers Racing merged and I lost a huge chunk of material that I could have posted from them.

As Ed Carpenter Racing was an entity for the 2012-2014 seasons, making the collection pretty much complete, and put what I call the "Article Odometer" over 22,000.

Current News

With new sources of current news available, we're going to try and keep up with the news and keep at least a few new current news items a day going on the site each evening. Go to the 2014 articles index and bookmark it (new stuff's at the bottom) for all the news or follow @CrittendenAuto on Twitter for links to the highlights.

About The Crittenden Automotive Library

The Crittenden Automotive Library @ CarsAndRacingStuff.com, based in Woodstock, Illinois, is an online collection of information relating to not only cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but also the roads they drive on, the races they compete in, cultural works based on them, government regulation of them, and the people who design, build, and drive them.  We are dedicated to the preservation and free distribution of information relating to all types of cars and road-going vehicles for those seeking the greater understanding of these very important elements of modern society, how automobiles have affected how people live around the world, or for the general study of automotive history and anthropology.  In addition to the historical knowledge, we preserve current events for future generations.

The Library currently consists of over 537,000 pages of books, periodicals, and documents, over 22,000 individual articles, more than a week of video and two weeks of audio, more than 22,000 photographs & other images, and a Reference Desk with more than 120 book volumes and thousands of advertising brochures & documents kept available for the information they contain but can't be copied into the online Library for sharing due to copyright.

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