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  1. #1
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Car addiction and neuroscience....

    We all know the difficulty in persuading people to give up their car commute for a more liberating bicycle ride. Sadly, many will give up their cars when they are pulled off in a hearse.

    But do you believe the visceral connection to their cars is really hard-wired in the brain? The article The Neuroscience of Car Dependence hints there may be more to the brain wiring than we think.

    ...we have very fixed travel habits. The habit of car dependency, in particular, poses a major problem for sustainable cities. As transportation experts push for mobility "carrots" and "sticks" — making alternative modes more attractive while making driving less attractive — they can't forget they're also battling certain aspects of the human brain that nudge us away from considering any changes to our lives at all.
    The researchers cite recent research on the nature of drug habits: they're suggesting you're addicted to your car. Perhaps more intriguing is recent work on the role that stress plays in shifting cognitive function from flexible parts of the brain (in the hippocampus) to procedural ones (in the striatum). In brain imaging studies, test participants placed under stress rely more on the striatum to determine their behavior — overwhelmed by life, we revert to habit.
    The article suggests there may be ways to alter behavior. For example during crisis moments or even after major life events.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by gerv; 04-30-14 at 07:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    We all know the difficulty in persuading people to give up their car commute for a more liberating bicycle ride. Sadly, many will give up their cars when they are pulled off in a hearse.
    So we do get a car after death.

    After death, my mom took 10 car trips and one airplane flight. Quite the traveler she was.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 04-30-14 at 09:28 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    I think we, as a society, are habituated to driving, not addicted. There is a difference. We do not go through withdrawal when we sleep in on Saturday, for instance. But saying that, it takes a "significant emotional event" to change these habituated behaviors. There is a whole huge amount of our economy invested in having us drive too. Notice the car commercials on TV, radio, and in print? What would happen if for each of these ads we had an alternative ad for bicycling, noting the advantages to our pocketbooks, to our health, and to the health of our planet?

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Hard wired... I have heard that term a lot recently for a whole list of behaviours, some pretty aberrant. And I am not buying it completely. Cars have been around for just over 100 years, so people born 150 years ago were "hard wired" for automotive transportation? I don't think so Tim...

    Aaron
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    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    I've been wondering about mainly anthropological and psicossexual factors connecting the automobile and the individual.

    I believe automobile habits were increased and promoted mainly by US authorities, because is part of the american individualism ideology.
    US is the country in the world with more cars per inhabitant (after Monaco if I remember).

    But there is also a psicossexual aspect of the automobile, it is a phallic machine (due to aerodynamic purposes) and one finds a strong connection between manhood and cars, and consequently between professional and sexual success and a car. The social pattern common sense would say that a successful man has an automobile whose price is more or less proportional to his success.

    In women, automobile is seen as a key for emancipation, it is the phallus the girl never had (read how Electra complex appears).

    I believe also in anthropological aspects, as the link between the value of automobile and the success of a man, came from the link our ancestors used to make between wealth and horses.

    I've written a publication about that, it's in Portuguese but Google translation is not that bad
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Hard wired... I have heard that term a lot recently for a whole list of behaviours, some pretty aberrant. And I am not buying it completely. Cars have been around for just over 100 years, so people born 150 years ago were "hard wired" for automotive transportation? I don't think so Tim...

    Aaron
    As someone trained in psychology, I have to agree with your skepticism. I might say people are "addicted to cars" as an inexact figure of speech, but I doubt if it's scientifically much like being addicted to heroin or crack.

    "Dependent" on cars might be more accurate, but depandance is only one of several aspects of addiction.

    ( I haven't read the OP articles yet, so I'm not responding specifically to them.)


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    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    Last month I had access to a vehicle for a few weeks. My neighbor needed to be picked up from an airport about 30 miles away and so he left me the keys to his yukon and told me drive it wherever I wanted. Since I'm a cyclist for mostly financial reasons, I had no problems obliging. I drove it to work quite a few times. I took it to breakfast at the cafe 3 miles away, that I normally ride to. I drove to REI. (ok driving to the bike shop, I felt a tiny bit guilty about)

    That being said, I am a habitual cyclist. But when I woke up every morning and was faced with getting my gear together, making sure I had air in my tires, checking the weather and making sure my son was dressed appropriately or simply grabbing the keys off the counter...

    I think that people simply follow the path of least resistance. I think it's the main reason people have been leaving their cars behind and trying alternatives in the last decade. Road space just isn't expanding as fast as the population and for more and more people the easiest solution isn't to just hop in the car anymore.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    Last month I had access to a vehicle for a few weeks. My neighbor needed to be picked up from an airport about 30 miles away and so he left me the keys to his yukon and told me drive it wherever I wanted. Since I'm a cyclist for mostly financial reasons, I had no problems obliging. I drove it to work quite a few times. I took it to breakfast at the cafe 3 miles away, that I normally ride to. I drove to REI. (ok driving to the bike shop, I felt a tiny bit guilty about)

    That being said, I am a habitual cyclist. But when I woke up every morning and was faced with getting my gear together, making sure I had air in my tires, checking the weather and making sure my son was dressed appropriately or simply grabbing the keys off the counter...

    I think that people simply follow the path of least resistance. I think it's the main reason people have been leaving their cars behind and trying alternatives in the last decade. Road space just isn't expanding as fast as the population and for more and more people the easiest solution isn't to just hop in the car anymore.
    I'm pretty much the same way. But I know the easy way is not the same as the happy way. Sometimes I'm reluctant to get on my bike when it's raining or zero F. But once I get going, I almost always experience something amazing or even awesome. That awesomeness doesn't usually happen in a car, unless I'm in the Rockies or something. But if somebody never tries going somewhere without their car, they never see how awesome their own neighborhood can be.


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    I like this somewhat loose definition of an addiction: An addiction is a habit that is destructive. For most people who use cars as their primary means of transportation, under this definition they are addicted.

  11. #11
    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Hard wired... I have heard that term a lot recently for a whole list of behaviours, some pretty aberrant. And I am not buying it completely. Cars have been around for just over 100 years, so people born 150 years ago were "hard wired" for automotive transportation? I don't think so Tim...
    It is an addiction in the sense that it greys your reason and your analytical reasoning creating on you the so called "state of denial" common to every addiction. People born 200 years ago in my country were not addicted to tobacco and now we have a tobacco addiction in many people. New addictions appear with ages; what people born 150 years ago would say about Internet addiction?
    Internet addiction disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

  12. #12
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    I like this somewhat loose definition of an addiction: An addiction is a habit that is destructive. For most people who use cars as their primary means of transportation, under this definition they are addicted.
    But some people have taken heroin every day for many years, but have had good careers, happy marriages, and no unusual health problems. By your definition they would not be considered addicts because their habit was not destructive. Likewise with some alcoholics, including one of my uncles.

    Also, in what sense are you thinking that a car "addiction" is destructive? You know I have no fondness for cars, but I rarely see them to be destructive to the people who use them.
    Last edited by Roody; 05-02-14 at 07:10 AM.


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  13. #13
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    There's a utility bicycle. Though if they hope to expand the business, I'm guessing black would be a better color for the bike. With fenders to keep the road spray off the coffin, and to attach the little funeral procession flag to.

    Good to know that the cycling addicts now have the same post-mortem choices as the car addicts!

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joao_pimentel View Post
    It is an addiction in the sense that it greys your reason and your analytical reasoning creating on you the so called "state of denial" common to every addiction. People born 200 years ago in my country were not addicted to tobacco and now we have a tobacco addiction in many people. New addictions appear with ages; what people born 150 years ago would say about Internet addiction?
    Internet addiction disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    For that matter, what about the Wikipediholic? This is a devastating disorder where the addict is constantly fact checking every conversation...

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    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    For that matter, what about the Wikipediholic? This is a devastating disorder where the addict is constantly fact checking every conversation...
    That's the opposite of advertising. I base myself in facts providing sources for them! If the links dislike you, just don't click them
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    But some people have taken heroin every day for many years, but have had good careers, happy marriages, and no unusual health problems. By your definition they would not be considered addicts because their habit was not destructive. Likewise with some alcoholics, including one of my uncles.

    Also, in what sense are you thinking that a car "addiction" is destructive? You know I have no fondness for cars, but I rarely see them to be destructive to the people who use them.
    How is car addiction destructive? Let me count the ways (or at least a few of them):
    -Obesity: We are not adapted to a sedentary lifestyle. Without active transportation, one must find time to exercise.
    -Heart disease: See obesity.
    -Diabetes: See obesity.
    -Colon cancer: The lack of movement that typifies the car-addicted lifestyle means that the digestive tract holds carcinogens longer than the digestive tracts of active people. Again, one can take time out of one's day to exercise, but I'm not seeing many car addicts do so.
    -Other cancers: The level of carcinogens inside cars is four to eight times as high as it is outside those cars on the side of the road.
    -Particulate exposure: Like the carcinogens, the particulates produced by cars are at a higher concentration inside the car than outside. Bear in mind that these particulates are known to cause IQ defects in children similar to the effects of lead paint chips.
    -Public health: Assuming that people are happier when they are in healthy communities, the damage of the noise, toxins (don't forget the transportation and refining aspects), direct impact deaths and injuries caused by the car addicts are pretty substantial. There's just bound to be some blowback.
    -No good answer to grand-niece when she asks what you did to prevent catastrophic climate change.
    -The global destabilization of funding oil tyrants.

    As far as folks doing drugs and not suffering destructive effects, good for them. If they aren't suffering any harm or causing any, I don't see why it should be labelled negatively as an addiction.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    How is car addiction destructive? Let me count the ways (or at least a few of them):
    -Obesity: We are not adapted to a sedentary lifestyle. Without active transportation, one must find time to exercise.
    -Heart disease: See obesity.
    -Diabetes: See obesity.
    -Colon cancer: The lack of movement that typifies the car-addicted lifestyle means that the digestive tract holds carcinogens longer than the digestive tracts of active people. Again, one can take time out of one's day to exercise, but I'm not seeing many car addicts do so.
    -Other cancers: The level of carcinogens inside cars is four to eight times as high as it is outside those cars on the side of the road.
    -Particulate exposure: Like the carcinogens, the particulates produced by cars are at a higher concentration inside the car than outside. Bear in mind that these particulates are known to cause IQ defects in children similar to the effects of lead paint chips.
    -Public health: Assuming that people are happier when they are in healthy communities, the damage of the noise, toxins (don't forget the transportation and refining aspects), direct impact deaths and injuries caused by the car addicts are pretty substantial. There's just bound to be some blowback.
    -No good answer to grand-niece when she asks what you did to prevent catastrophic climate change.
    -The global destabilization of funding oil tyrants.

    As far as folks doing drugs and not suffering destructive effects, good for them. If they aren't suffering any harm or causing any, I don't see why it should be labelled negatively as an addiction.
    Most of the destructive things you mention hurt the carfree as much as the drivers. And to say that all or most motorists are fat lazy uncaring slobs is stereotyping.

    Again, I am no defender of cars. But I don't care to base my opinions on lazy stereotyping.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Most of the destructive things you mention hurt the carfree as much as the drivers. And to say that all or most motorists are fat lazy uncaring slobs is stereotyping.
    Most of the things I listed indicated that the dosages of the harmful substances are higher inside the car than outside it, thus the negative impacts are higher for the the drivers than they are for carfree folks.

    Your mischaracterization of what I said is regarding motorists is beyond the pale. I said car dependence leads to obesity, heart disease, etc if they don't allot time during the day for exercise. I'm saying they have a choice to be fat or not, and suffer the health effects of that choice, but it will take more time to be healthy than it would for someone who was not addicted to car use. I'm accusing them of being uncaring either. I assume that most car addicts in America don't give a second thought to the long-term impacts of our culture's unprecedented energy use in large part because we don't have a functioning education system, not because they would not care if they understood what the ultimate consequences are.

    I'll grant that it is fair to infer that I consider car addicts to be lazy. Is there a means of transportation that requires less physical effort than sitting in a car? If they took the slightest effort to learn and follow the laws regarding the safe operation of those cars, I might be moved to not think of them as lazy, but I've never seen such a motorist.

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Most of the things I listed indicated that the dosages of the harmful substances are higher inside the car than outside it, thus the negative impacts are higher for the the drivers than they are for carfree folks.

    Your mischaracterization of what I said is regarding motorists is beyond the pale. I said car dependence leads to obesity, heart disease, etc if they don't allot time during the day for exercise. I'm saying they have a choice to be fat or not, and suffer the health effects of that choice, but it will take more time to be healthy than it would for someone who was not addicted to car use. I'm accusing them of being uncaring either. I assume that most car addicts in America don't give a second thought to the long-term impacts of our culture's unprecedented energy use in large part because we don't have a functioning education system, not because they would not care if they understood what the ultimate consequences are.

    I'll grant that it is fair to infer that I consider car addicts to be lazy. Is there a means of transportation that requires less physical effort than sitting in a car? If they took the slightest effort to learn and follow the laws regarding the safe operation of those cars, I might be moved to not think of them as lazy, but I've never seen such a motorist.
    Everything you say you didn't say, you just said again.

    Drivers are the great majority of people in our society. To say they are a certain type of person, good or bad, is ridiculous. Every type of person drives cars. Almost all gold medal Olympic athletes drive cars. Are they lazy and out of shape? OTOH, some of us carfree "types" are not in the best of shape either.


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  20. #20
    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    According to the literature, addiction is the continued repetition of a behaviour despite adverse consequences. One of the symptoms is the greying of your reasoning and the psychological state of denial. So, with all the consequences cars have, automobile, scientifically speaking, actually cannot be anything else but an addiction.
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    We all know the difficulty in persuading people to give up their car commute for a more liberating bicycle ride. Sadly, many will give up their cars when they are pulled off in a hearse.

    But do you believe the visceral connection to their cars is really hard-wired in the brain? The article The Neuroscience of Car Dependence hints there may be more to the brain wiring than we think.





    The article suggests there may be ways to alter behavior. For example during crisis moments or even after major life events.

    What do you think?
    I think there is an addiction but it's a rather small number mainly those who are constantly purchasing new vehicles. I agree with John and that we are habituated to driving and not physically addicted like crack. Our minds can break free at will and only those who are addicted to shopping can be seen as suffering a medical condition. IMHO.

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    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Most of the destructive things you mention hurt the carfree as much as the drivers. And to say that all or most motorists are fat lazy uncaring slobs is stereotyping.

    Again, I am no defender of cars. But I don't care to base my opinions on lazy stereotyping.
    but the behavior is conducted by the drivers, the ones that have the will to stop the adverse consequences, and then stop addiction. Car free people are just the collateral damages of such large car dependency. Comparing to cigars, car fee people are the passive smokers.

    But as many dependencies (drugs, tobacco, gambling) there is also corporative reasons despite severe consequences. Drugs give a lot of money to drug dealers, tobacco gives huge amount of money to the tobacco industry, gambling to the Las Vegas corporation and derivatives, and automobile addiction gives large funds to Ford, General Motors, BMW, Mercedes, BP, Exxon, etc...

    Creating dependency on others of something we own and provide, is one of the most ancient and effective ways of getting money
    Last edited by joao_pimentel; 05-03-14 at 05:40 AM.
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

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    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I think there is an addiction but it's a rather small number mainly those who are constantly purchasing new vehicles. I agree with John and that we are habituated to driving and not physically addicted like crack. Our minds can break free at will and only those who are addicted to shopping can be seen as suffering a medical condition. IMHO.
    That's the "state of denial" from addiction. All addicted say they can "break free" without actually doing it by their own will.
    Obviously, the visible and direct consequences are not as severe as crack, though largely speaking I'd say car addiction is much more severe than crack addiction.

    One of such adverse consequences is traffic collisions.

    Worldwide it was estimated that 1.2 million people were killed and 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle collisions in 2004. This makes motor vehicle collisions the leading cause of death among children 10 – 19 years of age (260,000 children die a year, 10 million are injured) and the sixth leading preventable cause of death in the United States (45,800 people died and 2.4 million were injured in 2005). It is estimated that motor vehicle collisions caused the death of around 60 million people during the 20th century around the same number of World War II casualties.
    Last edited by joao_pimentel; 05-03-14 at 09:33 AM.
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joao_pimentel View Post
    It is an addiction in the sense that it greys your reason and your analytical reasoning creating on you the so called "state of denial" common to every addiction. People born 200 years ago in my country were not addicted to tobacco and now we have a tobacco addiction in many people. New addictions appear with ages; what people born 150 years ago would say about Internet addiction?
    Internet addiction disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I agree about "addiction" my beef is with the use of the word "hardwired". Addiction is a very real problem and in the case of many addictions like alcoholism there is a definite genetic link. And I have seen studies that link increased addiction to various personality types, again part genetics.

    I think GodsBassist hit the nail on the head about taking the path of least resistance, humans are inherently lazy for the most part and will usually take the easiest appearing path. IMHO much of it is conditioning. I know that if I don't get a bike ride or a walk in at least once a day I am in a foul mood for much of the rest of the day. That can be tracked to endorphins, again genetics play a part in that. I am active person by nature and cannot stand to be cooped up inside all day. I don't care how foul the weather is, I am going to get outside for at least half an hour and get some sort of exercise in. In my case it cannot be substituted for inside exercise though that is better than nothing. Is that hardwired in? I don't know, I come from a long line of farmers, and other outdoor people. Interestingly enough my dad is not much of an outdoor person, though both of my grandfathers and grandmothers were, as well as my great grandparents.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  25. #25
    Senior Member joao_pimentel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I agree about "addiction" my beef is with the use of the word "hardwired". Addiction is a very real problem and in the case of many addictions like alcoholism there is a definite genetic link. And I have seen studies that link increased addiction to various personality types, again part genetics.

    I think GodsBassist hit the nail on the head about taking the path of least resistance, humans are inherently lazy for the most part and will usually take the easiest appearing path. IMHO much of it is conditioning. I know that if I don't get a bike ride or a walk in at least once a day I am in a foul mood for much of the rest of the day. That can be tracked to endorphins, again genetics play a part in that. I am active person by nature and cannot stand to be cooped up inside all day. I don't care how foul the weather is, I am going to get outside for at least half an hour and get some sort of exercise in. In my case it cannot be substituted for inside exercise though that is better than nothing. Is that hardwired in? I don't know, I come from a long line of farmers, and other outdoor people. Interestingly enough my dad is not much of an outdoor person, though both of my grandfathers and grandmothers were, as well as my great grandparents.

    Aaron
    There is also people addicted to physical exercise! As I said, the literature broadly defines an addiction as some adverse behaviour to which you find very hard to cease. Obviously there are many types and degrees of severity and consequences. We cannot compare coffee addiction (I'm into) to heroine addiction! Though, considering the provided data, car-wired phenomenon perfectly fits the broad scientific definition of addiction.
    Tomorrow I'll sell my car and I'll buy a copter. Time is money

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