The Grind. The German Side

The Faroe Islands. 2011. The Grind. Just like every year, beaches are flooded with blood as the pilot whale hunt ensues in the towns “chosen” as grounds for slaughtering the poor mammals.

At least 1,000 pilot whales are killed annually for the sake of a tradition that somehow managed to break through the dark ages of human kind. Hysterical people, locals queuing up in dreadful lines, clutching their Tupperware ready to receive the yearly ration of whale meat, generously handed out as “free” by the authorities.

The giant mammals stand no chance. They’re herded to the chosen places and killed in a violent frenzy once they get into shallow waters or are beached. The resulting blood-red mess is a great “excitement” for photographers and greatly horrifies any civilized people who are too curious to resist Googling the stuff and find out what’s it all about...

The view hits you hard and stays with you a long time. It’s simply astonishing how such large and strong animals (but probably too peaceful) are murdered in cold blood each year because that’s what tradition dictates.

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand that Danish/Faroese people of the old needed fresh food, which was kind of scarce on the barren island (presently relying mostly on imports), but to perpetuate this barbaric ritual throughout the centuries seems dumb and completely irrational.

Putting aside how stupid it is to insist on living in a place so wild no crops can grow and everything must be hauled in from neighboring countries, this starts to look a lot like herd behavior. People in the Faroe Islands seem unable to grasp just how cruel and savage this custom is. I’ve even watched interviews of people so proud of it, saying it *must* go on because it was... passed along from the ancestors.

This may be a bit of a stretch, but I see the same conduct in (too) many people who are always ready to explain how “German cars” are the cream of the technology crop and German engineers are unsurpassed in skill.

I’m not denying history here, but buying a car on these criteria is often the wrong thing to do. Over the years, many clients who were initially on the fence went for the “German quality”, ignoring the competition’s better prices and features, only to end up regretting they didn’t use their brain instead of falling for the “tradition” inherited from their grandparents, who drove Mercedes cars that needed to be checked out only once every 20 years.

Tradition isn’t all bad, but it can lead to a lot of trouble if abused. There’s too much idiocy going on in the world in the name of tradition, of “identity” and “ancestral ties”. Does anyone else think we should take a minute for ourselves and just think a little bit, between a Farmville session and a +1 for three day news?

Our team has seen many “German myths” fall, in time. We came across German cars with crap brakes, with crippling and annoying defects, with reliability falling way behind their counterparts with less tradition and, obviously, outrageous prices (to put it lightly).

The bottom line? Letting tradition guide you in life has its downsides, more often than not.

Take the Faroe Islands and their grindadráp for example: doctors have been issuing warnings since the 70s that eating the pilot whale meat poses more dangers than benefits, since it was proven to be high in mercury content due to pollution. Basically, beside decimating the already thinning pilot whale ranks each year, Faroese people also poison themselves by ingesting quantities of mercury way over the allowable limits. Sounds like a very cynical riposte from the whales; a peaceful, passive yet lethal manner of protest...

Getting back to cars, let’s ask ourselves what the Germans did over the years, seeing how much they were praised. Well, they ferociously upped the prices and found themselves having to create “inferior” but “cheaper” cars, to keep selling volumes not just... quality and luxury.

 Take a look at the “niche model” invasion, already introduced or upcoming “small” cars. What course did BMW take? They wanted to create a cheap model and introduced the 1 Series, which had a price tag far from convenient. Seeing how (says BMW) people are that clueless they have no idea they’ve got a rear-wheel drive car, they’re preparing a new 1 Series with the same price but clearly inferior from a technological standpoint and front-wheel drive.

No worries. It will sell, because... tradition, yes tradition, fixes everything. Mercedes is scraping all evolved tech in the A and B Klasse and turns them into dull, everyday cars. They look nice on the drawing board though and are much cheaper to make. Audi came up with the A1, which rivals saloons from other brands in terms of prices. Regardless, all it matters is that it’s a “cheap” car.

I’m sure we’ve all come across proud owners of a, say, BMW 5 Series, a “dynamic and sporty” car with a poor 2L diesel engine that can barely budge the mechanized monster. Electric folding for the wing mirrors was optional so... they just do it manually instead. The bumpers bear lots of scratch-marks because the parking assist sensors or cameras are also optional, the steering is hard to handle because it’s not “the expensive” one, and so on.

Too many uninformed people purchase German cars at “standard” prices and only experience about 25% of what the car could have offered. Can’t blame them though, since checking the long lists of optional features and picking a more powerful engine would jack up the price by at least 100%.

And all this while other automakers divide everything in just 2 or 3 major equipment levels or, in best-case scenarios, create a “base” model that has nearly everything by default, avoiding further week-long delays for creating a compromise configuration between price and desires.

These guys’ problem? Yes, tradition! Tradition favors the Germans and there’s nothing they can do about it. They’ll probably have to offer “cheap” models as well, cars equipped with a steering wheel and two buttons while everything else is optional, just to get “standard” prices as low as the fallacious ones the brave Germans dish out.

Who loses? You, the pilot whales who will be extinct, slowly but surely, hunted mercilessly in the name of tradition, quality car enthusiasts... practically everybody.

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! Just leave “tradition” for the bedroom and try to think for yourselves, get informed before wasting your money based on tradition. You could start by checking out our test drives, guides, news and other resources we work hard to create for your reading pleasure... and ours.
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