The van that I drive for my dad’s business is a decent ride. It’s got a lot of pickup and the braking is good and it isn’t difficult to control, so I can’t complain about it much. But I keep flattening the rear driver’s side tire. 4 times in 6 months! The first time was totally my fault. I rubbed the tire on a curb while making a tight turn. I’ve done this many times in many cars, and when I did it last spring, my time was due—I ripped the side-wall of the tire. Fine. But then I discovered a funny little thing about the rear driver’s side tire. When I put the jack in the recommended place, I lifted the entire van, but the tire stayed put. The strut wouldn’t lift. So I jacked it up higher, and higher until the strut reached its maximum stretch and began to lift up, too. I swear the front tire on the same side was lifted off the ground. The 3 ton van was being held up by a tiny jack and the passenger side tires. The spare tire barely fit in place, but I dared not raise the van up more. It was ridiculous. I hoped never to have to change that tire again, but the night that I got the new tire put on (okay, new used tire), all the air leaked out of it. The next day, I cursed to the heavens, got in the van, and, yes, drove the van on the flat tire to the nearest tire place. It wasn’t far, but it was a real risk. The tire wasn’t that mangled, though, and it was repaired in minutes. But not repaired well. There was a slow leak in it. I wasn’t really surprised at this, since I didn’t treat it at all well. So I kept filling it up with air every week, telling myself that I should just get a new one, until I ran over a pothole in early September, and Blammo! there went the tire. O accursed tire! Why dost thou trouble me so? Well, I had to stick the spare on, this time. There was just no way to get it to a tire place. I thought back to the first attempt at changing the tire, and attempted to put my dinky jack (no jokes!) on the strut, but it just wouldn’t fit. I had to get my father’s bottle jack to do the job right. So again, the spare and another trip to a tire place. Each time I had to change a tire, and other tires went flat, just not with the same frequency as the rear driver’s side, I told myself, I’ve got to get one of those X-shaped tire-irons, because each time I had to change a tire that the tire guys replaced, the nuts were put on too tightly with their pneumatic drills. I would watch these guys tighten them, and then hammer them in for another 3 or 4 bursts and think, “Great, but where will you be when I have to put the damned spare on?” And I would also think that I wanted one of those cool hydraulic floor jacks that quickly lifted the van up. Ah, to dream. So tonight, with a couple of flat tire free months behind me, the first thing that I thought when I hit another pothole is, “What’s that hissing sound?” And then, “It better not be that same stupid, fucking tire!” which, of course, it was. A gas station just up the block would be my base of operations for the next two and-a-half hours. First off, I could not get the lug nuts off with the standard issue tire iron. I wrenched and torqued and struggled for naught. I tried pipe wrenches and ratchet wrenches, and nothing worked. I had to call Katherine to rescue me with an X-shaped tire iron. Blessed be to the inventor, Saint X-shaped Tire Iron Guy. I still had to struggle to get those damned lug nuts off, but I did, with the right tool. But then, my job was only partial finished. I still had to get the tire off the ground. And I tried to sneak the dinky jack under the strut, which was totally out of reach, and nearly lost my hand when the jack shot out from beneath the van. Luckily, the tire was still on. But enough was enough. I stopped everything, went to Sears, and gots myself a hydraulic jack. Yeah. In minutes, the job was over. As Katherine said, “With that jack you can do this in just a half-an-hour, instead of just over two!” True, indeed. So, now seriously, if anyone needs a good jack, let me know. That thing was expensive as hell, and if I don’t put it to use, it’ll just be a waste, because, dammit, I ain’t gonna be poppin’ no more goldurn tires! Sheesh.
I can admit when I was wrong, and these past couple of weeks have been full of humble pie. So when I said bin Laden was definitely dead, I was, in fact, mistaken. A little late, but I wanted the record to be clear. I wonder why he isn’t, of course, as should most Americans, but apparently, I am in the minority. [sarcasm] I feel so much safer, knowing that he is alive. [/sarcasm]
What follows is a self-typed transcript from the 03 Nov 2004 Talk of the Nation radio program on NPR. This segment was titled “Election Over, Debate over Morals Persist.” The host is Neal Conan. Neal is speaking to George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley. They took a call from a listener, Grace from Louisiana. This transcript starts at about 5:48 on the stream from NPR. The emphasis below is mine to highlight something I felt was beyond belief, and the grammar is theirs, but the spelling is mine. Grace: Hello? Neal Conan: Hi, you’re on the air, Grace. Grace: Yes. Thank you. Ah, I am a first time voter, for the first time in 30 years. Uh. In Louisiana we had the, uh, the amendment for, for, uh, towards marriage that we had, uh, in September. And I registered to vote to vote specifically for that issue. And, uh, as you may know, uh, 79% of the population voted for it, and an activist, uh, judge, uh, has, um, is in the courts right now, he said that it was unconstitutional. And that really goes to the, the grassroots of why you have seen the results in this election, is that we, uh, as a Christian most Christians in this nation trust that God chooses the king, and that means the president. And we have enjoyed the luxury of religious freedom in this nation, which is what this nation was the basis of its founding. And we have seen, in recent years, that an oligarchy is forming in this country where activist judges are using preference over principle in their interpretation of the Constitution, uh, assuming that this church, that the Constitution has a separation of church and state. The only constitution in this, in this world that had that clause in it was the Soviet Union. In the United States Constitution, they do not have a separation of church and state. So we have seen the Ten Commandments taken out of the state capital in Alabama, and we have seen, uh uh a uh an increasing attempt to take away the Christian heritage from this country. And, and we are for everyone having their basic freedoms, but we have been seeing our freedoms to express our beliefs threatened increasingly more. George Lakoff: (interrupts) Free, freedoms are not threatened, but in effect we do have a separation of church and state in our Constitution. Grace: (interrupts) It’s not in… George Lakoff: If you read that Constitution very carefully, there is going to be no established religion in this country. Grace: (interrupts) And the reason for that… (Crosstalk) Neal Conan: (speaking over crosstalk) Uh, Grace, if… (Crosstalk. Grace’s voice fades out) George Lakoff: In particular, (garbled) wrong about the, the, um uh you know, uh, the way that, uh, your freedoms have not been impugned. In fact, it’s the reverse. The oligarchy in this country, uh, is the Right, the Radical Right, and Bush is part of the Radical Right. This is a radical issue. Uh, he wants to impose a hierarchy in this country, and, uh, this is not, uh, this is supposed to be a democratic country. That hierarchy is a hierarchy of, among other things, financial success, uh, for one thing. Secondly, a particular view, not only of Christianity, but of religion in general, a “strict father” version of Christianity, not a “nurturing” version of Christianity. And most Christians in this country follow the “nurturing,” not the “strict father” model of Christianity. Ah, your model of Christianity is not that of most Christians in this country. And most Christians in this country want a separation of church and state as is given in the Constitution. Neal Conan: Well, ah, I think we, uh, saw the divide illustrated…
At some point in my life, I am going to have to accept that I am not part of the mainstream. It is clear to me that a majority of my countrymen are completely blind and deaf. They gave legitimacy to the worst president, the vilest mindset, and the party of reactionary, knee-jerk politics. I felt the winds of change, and it turned out to be smog from an oil refinery. My days of a prognosticator are over, for sure. My logic is so flawed that I predicted that this administration would reap what it had sown, but time and time again, these udder incompetents squeak through, and no justice is served. How does a reelection help the chances of prosecuting those that leaked a CIA operatives name? How does a reelection show the world that the Iraq war was an aberration? Four more years of anti flag-burning amendments! Four more years of anti gay-marriage amendments! Four more years of idiocy from the top down. There are some who think that maybe Bush will be a bit more restrained in his second term. For those that do, I offer this quote, from CNN on Wednesday, 03 Nov 04:
“President Bush’s decisive margin of victory makes this the first presidential election since 1988 in which the winner received a majority of the popular vote,” said Card, referring to the White House victory by Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush. “And in this election, President Bush received more votes than any presidential candidate in our country’s history.”
p>We’ve given them a mandate. What was once just ugly has turned malignant.
Goodbye, George. I won’t miss you. I won’t weep at your passing. Goodbye, George. You represented the worst in us. You pretended your faith was your wisdom, when you had neither. You pandered to your base of religious misanthropics. You pandered to animal fears that fester deep in our society. Goodbye, George. And to all your bastard handlers, too, Cheney and Rummy and Rove. Goodbye all you Nixonites, still skulking around in the system. You should have been purged 30 years ago. But today, we show you the door. Goodbye, George. Although you pass into historical footnotes, we still pay the price of your idiocy. Tomorrow, we shall have to face the enormous task of cleaning up after your destruction. And tomorrow we shall, never shrinking from our duty, but today we celebrate the end of your madness. Goodbye, George. Your only mistake, in your own words, was appointing the wrong people. Can you imagine the hubris? Our only mistake was pretending, wishing, hoping, despite the enormity of the evidence, that you would rise into the honorable position of Leader of the Free World. Goodbye, George. And to those that spun us ’round. Goodbye Condi Rice. Goodbye Tom Ridge. Goodbye Tommy Thompson. Goodbye Andy Card. Goodbye Scott McClelland. Goodbye John Ashcroft. You all failed us in innumerable ways. Goodbye, George. The world is safer without you.