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repost from Badger BMW club magazine

The following article appeared in the July 1998 issue of "bimmer 
immer," the publication os the Badger Bimmers, the Wisconsin chapter 
of BMW CCA.  It is being sent out with the permission of the author 
under the condition that if it is redistributed in any way these 
credits must accompany it.

The friend who pointed out the article to me thought I would 
sympathize with its message.  He was right.  Hope you enjoy it.


Engage..., by C.R. Krieger, President of the Badger Bimmers

For those of you who are online (about 70%, according to BMW CCA's 
national survey), there are newsgroups.  I find that, at least 
locally, very few people even know what they are.  If you know, you 
know.  If you don't, my description is, they're bulletin boards that 
are kind of like not-quite-realtime chat rooms.  That is, depending 
on your ISP, the messages that are posted will be there for a day or 
so for you to read as you choose.  One can post replies to the 
messages, and they're usually threaded by the subject of the original 
post.  Once in a while, you'll find almost immediate replies to your 
comments, meaning the next correspondent is online at the same time 
as you are.  Newsgroups cover a wide variety of topics including 
almost anything in which you could be interested.  My ISP carries 
over 24,000 to choose from.  Back when they only had about 14,000, 
they had managed to overlook the very one I wanted: alt.autos.bmw.  
After I complained about it, it got added, and I've become a regular 

Since there are no standards (aside from access to a modem and the 
ability to type; not necessarily in English) for posting to 
newsgroups, it's a world-wide free-for-all where you have to beware 
of the advice and information you may want to believe.  This can be a 
valuable resource because there are a couple of well-known 
participants, including a few very good BMW-certified service 
technicians and prominent 'CCA member/co-founder Michel Potheau.  And 
then, there's me.  If you've bothered to read almost anything I've 
written here over the past few years, you know I have this touch of 
attitude and I don't lightly tolerate stupidity.

So let's get right to the point.  Last week, I saw a post from a guy 
in New Jersey.  He said he wanted to lower and stiffen the suspension 
on his new 328 so, he claimed, he wouldn't bend his 'soft' 17" wheels 
with low profile tires so much.  HUH?  What's wrong with this 
picture?  If you LOWER and STIFFEN the suspension, you're obviously 
going to bend the wheels even MORE when you (as it turned out) drive 
through huge potholes on the Jersey Turnpike.  I, in my own 
inimitable style, pointed this out (The words, "moron" and "idiot" 
may have crept into my reply.).  The original poster offered a few 
more details about his driving habits (the above mentioned potholes 
and a 1" bend in the side of one wheel) and I proceeded to advise him 
to contact a well-known 'CCA rallyist in Philadelphia to tell him how 
to set the car up for off-roading.  HOLY FLAMEWARS, BATMAN!  I caught 
hell from a variety of sources, including a couple of 'CCA members 
and another supposedly embarrassed Badger, for being so fiercely 
blunt (and a smartass; but that goes without saying).  So I offered 
an apology, saying that I might have been a bit over the top with 
attitude, but remaining steadfastly unrepentant for considering him 
an idiot.  I mean, this fellow had already decided what he was going 
to do to his car (I don't think my replies, and others with similar 
content, changed his mind.), and I not only would have been happy to 
help him find the proper sources, but I would have been pleased to 
see the car benefit from it.  But then, he went and tried to justify 
his project with a totally stupid (not to mention contradictory) 

In my apology, I went further, saying that I feel those who don't 
have any idea what they're doing shouldn't be upgrading the 
performance of their cars (Even if they're willing to admit it's 
purely for looks or for ego gratification.).  My favorite example is 
the current craze for M3 front strut tower bars.  One guy during this 
same week wrote to inquire how to install one.  Folks, trust me when 
I say that installing a strut bar is obviously a no-brainer if you've 
ever actually seen one in place.  My assumptions from his question 
are: 1) he's never actually SEEN one on a car and 2) he's clueless 
about why he needs one.  Sure, they stiffen the chassis, but how many 
of those who have installed them have even a remote idea what effect 
it has had on the car's handling?  Damn few, I'll wager, so my 
standard advice to those who inquire about them, and him, is usually, 
"Get the chrome one so your friends are impressed."  Well, you can 
already guess what happened.  Flamed again.  Then, my supporters 
started creeping out of the woodwork.  I received several e-mails 
telling me I was absolutely correct and that I shouldn't change a 
thing about my approach (not that I'd really planned to).  Hey, where 
were you when I was getting cyber-toasted?

Well, this newsgroup is not just 'CCA members, not just North 
Americans, and not even just BMW owner/drivers.  Like any other 
publicly accessible part of the 'net, it's open to everyone, 
including the clowns who are trying to sell Alfas and Chevy small 
blocks in every automotive newsgroup that exists (it's called "cross-
posting" and it's considered rude when done to excess).  And idiots 
have rights (modems and keyboards), too.  We just need to be vigilant 
enough that they don't reproduce or anything.  Heck, maybe I should 
have let him bend up all his wheels, lose his job, break up his 
marriage (when his wife finds out he spent ALL THAT MONEY on the 
Bimmer), and therefore, NOT reproduce!  Nah.  Stupidity can still be 
cured ... sometimes.

C.R. Krieger
President, Badger Bimmers, BMW CCA

Jim Adney, jadney@vwtype3.org
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

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