Alan and I are having one of our occasional squabbles (“The Atlantic is a better ocean! The Pacific is a better ocean!”) over the lede on this story:
DETROIT — The 911 call came at 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 28 from a car that was speeding out of control on Highway 125 near San Diego.
The caller, a male voice, was panic-stricken: “We’re in a Lexus … we’re going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck … we’re in trouble … there’s no brakes … we’re approaching the intersection … hold on … hold on and pray … pray …”
The call ended with the sound of a crash.
The story is about Toyota’s sudden-acceleration problem, of course. The driver is described as an “off-duty California Highway Patrol officer.” We both agree that when one is in a car with an apparently stuck accelerator, the first thing to do is shift into neutral. However, I maintain that anyone in a highway patrol would have advanced training in high-speed driving and would know this in his bones, and if he didn’t do so, there must have been a reason — perhaps the car couldn’t be shifted into neutral at speed, I dunno. He maintains I am “overthinking” it, and the guy just panicked and forgot.
And then I realized that this is just about the five-year anniversary of our move to Detroit, and we must be natives for sure now, because we are arguing about cars.
Everyone in that Lexus died, by the way. This just underlines why I am bound and determined that Kate learn to drive on a stick shift, and I don’t care if she burns out a clutch doing so; driving a manual requires you to pay more attention to the task at hand. And there’s another reminder: When we moved here, Kate was in second grade. This time next year, she will be months away from getting her learner’s license. Of course Michigan teens can start driving under supervision at 14 years, eight months. Utter insanity, but that’s how an automotive state rolls. I’m sure kids in Kentucky and Virginia were expected to start smoking at 12, once upon a time, to help the state’s economy.
First of February, today. This is always around the time I notice the light is changing, not so much the time the sun shines but the angle — ask a scientist why, I prefer the poets. The same thing happens the first week in August, when, on lower-humidity days (it never quite gets “low” here), the sun seems distinctly autumnal. As any groundhog will tell you, there’s a lot more winter ahead of us, but today, you can see the high-water mark. And it’s dry.
Both bits of bloggage are old, but not everyone has time to read the internet every day. So here goes:
A Texas politician declines to seek newspaper endorsement, and the newspaper calls this a “major rebuke.” Ha. Endorsements are one of those holdovers from not just an earlier time, but a way-way earlier time, and flat-out refuse to die. The best guesstimates I’ve seen is that in a hotly contentious presidential election year, all the newspaper endorsements in the country might have an influence over 10,000 votes, tops, and that’s being generous. Locally, who knows, but the fact that candidates work so hard to get them, and make such a fuss when they do or don’t, always struck me as sort of pathetic.
Endorsements are based on editorial-board interviews with candidates, followed by a discussion. The publisher usually wins, and the publisher is usually either a pro-business conservative and sometimes a generic center-left liberal. A windy, boring editorial will be published, using the royal “we.” (I sometimes wonder if that royal we isn’t why editorials are so boring; a previous ed-page editor of in Fort Wayne referred to the board as “the page” or “this page,” and solicited columns from “friends of the page,” which is how they were designated: Bob Butthead, Friend of the Page. I once asked why they didn’t ask others to be Enemies of the Page, a far cooler column head if you ask me, but as usually happens when you’re dealing with people who consider themselves not an I but a We, it didn’t go over well.
Anyway, the whole editorial-page structure — Hear Us, Voice of This August Institution — was blown out of the water by the internet, but many of them haven’t gotten the news yet. And so: “Major rebuke.” Now there’s a column I’d read: By Major Rebuke, Enemy of the Page.
And speaking of media institutions that refuse to change, even while the foundations are washed out from under them, Charlie Brooker on how to report news, TV-style. A YouTube link, but funny and worth your time. Wasn’t I just talking about this the other day? If only I’d taken the time to make the video.
Manic Monday is already underway, a day with a perpetually stuck accelerator. Ciao for me, and off to rounds ‘n’ Russian.