Right Now, It’s All We Can Give Them


It’s at times like this – with our neighbors on the Gulf Coast wind-blown and inundated – that many people’s thoughts turn to prayer. Government officials call for prayers for the victims. Victims look skyward with their own prayers. Families and friends safely located outside the disaster zone ask their Higher Power of choice for just a quick sign about the safety of their trapped kin. Over the coming months, as the rebuilding takes every ounce of strength from the victims, many will pray again for strength, or help, or money, or food, or above all, patience. Some will only pray to ask why.

Some of those prayers will be answered, at least in the eyes of those who offered them up. Many prayers will result in nothing. Some of those who prayed will lose hope and never pray again, while others will find the strength they so crave and take that as a sign that prayer is absolute and works.

It’s for times like this that Gods and religions exist. They are the life preservers that give buoyancy to the down-trodden. They are the last familiar shreds of humanity that people cling to when events become so monstrous that they can’t be fathomed by their everyday minds. At times like these, even the most cynical non-believers won’t begrudge the believers their hope. It wouldn’t be a humane thing to do.

Clearly, spirituality and religion are distinct concepts. One is a personal relationship, while the other is a belief system created and maintained by humans. Even the best and most well-intentioned religions can have flaws. Sometimes those flaws are quite large, allowing the underlying worst of humanity to seep out like so much contaminated water. Other times religions work as they should, with petty differences about beliefs and irrational canons about worldly matters taking a back seat to the common human condition. It is the same light and dark perspective that is already playing itself out in New Orleans and Biloxi as you read this. Some stoop to help their fellow men, wading hip-deep in filthy water to carry those who are weaker to higher ground. Others stoop a little lower to pick up a rock and toss it through a window so they can loot an abandoned home or business.

It’s at times like this that life becomes very clear in a way that it can’t on a “normal” day. You are either light or dark. You are either good or bad. It is our omnipotent hope that there are more good guys than bad, because those poor folks along the Gulf Coast will need all the help they can get for a long time to come. If you belief in prayer, now’s the time. If not, a kind thought will do. Right now, it’s all we can give them.

How We Became a NASCAR Dad

We are now officially a NASCAR Dad. Sure, we’re not fond of His Squandership, but that doesn’t make any difference. We became a NASCAR Dad the hard way – by driving a race car. All you rednecks just sit back and take notes, maybe you’ll learn something.

Mrs. Poobah and Her Daughtership treated the old Poobah to a wonderful and omnipotent 50th B-Day gift – 20 laps in a race car of our choice. We chose a Pro Truck for a variety of reasons, including our general lack of experience with driving anything that gets only six gallons per mile and the fact that we thought it looked the most inanely
macho
of all the choices. We figure if we’re going for a testosterone-fueled adventure, we might as well look the part. We were going to chew tobacco and spit it out the window during the race, but it kept blowing back on us as we tooled along at 100 mph – and we all know what blowback at high speed is like.

The adventure began after a walk around the half-mile course while a racing instructor flung any manner of scary stories in our general direction. “Too high on this turn and you run right into that concrete wall. Too low and you
fall off the edge into certain death and oblivion,” he said casually. He was also quick to point out that lots of students get
sick and vomit, something he apparently has a strange prohibition against. He also pointed out that since all of us had testicles hidden way up inside our body – except for the women in the class who had none at all – we weren’t allowed to do anything unless specifically instructed to do so, especially not vomiting. Not following
our instructor’s advice would surely result in a
fiery crash that would kill us, the driver, and probably our loved ones located far back from the track. Since the man possessed a hand with only had one finger and a thumb, we figured he must know of which he spoke.

Post walk-around, we waited our turns and watched other students in the hope they would do something stupid enough to take everyone’s mind off the stupid things we were likely to do. As it turns out, there were no fiery crashes, no vomiting, and only one case of a driver begging off. “I was out late last night and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize anyone’s safety,” he said demurely as a large stain appeared on the front of his pants.

When our turn came, we dressed in the nattiest and largest fire-retardant racing suit in stock and topped it all off with a jaunty red helmet. Fully prepared, we wiggled and squeezed through the door of the truck and waited patiently as the pit crew swarmed over us like an astronaut, connecting straps, shoving our legs into the cramped quarters under the dashboard, and putting the steering wheel back in place. The crewman told us not to worry that our Buddha-like belly rubbed the wheel. “That happens with lots of folks,” he said with a grin.

After a short talk with an instructor who repeated all the dire warnings from the morning walk-around, we moved to the track and waited our turn to enter the track. After our first lap, the instructor released us to go “hog wild”. That was the signal to bump our speed up from a heady 60 mph to 65 mph. However, by the third lap we were making a steady 100 mph or so on the straightaways and managing a respectable 60 mph or so on the curves. Not too much fishtailing, very little skidding, and we managed to follow the “lines” of the race pretty well. We also managed to keep the truck off the wall, out of the grandstands, and on the track instead of the debris-filled in field. Best of all, no fiery crash – a definite plus in our book.

As we drove the truck we couldn’t help thinking, “You know, this is just like driving the freeway at rush hour xcept it’s lots louder, way hotter, and much safer.” Our advice to NASCAR – put an air conditioner in those things. They’re wickedly hot.

Soon enough we got the checkered flag, entered the pits, and rolled to a quiet and somewhat anti-climactic stop. The engine ticked quietly, the pit crew opened the door net, and we made the long squeeze and wiggle out of the driver’s seat. There were no beauty queens waiting with big trophies (the brass ones we mean) or champagne sprays. Mrs. Poobah did offer to throw some spring water at us, but after our childhood experience at a Baptist
tent-revival
, we declined. Water hasn’t been the same for us since.

Afterward, we thought about what we could say about our experience, but as King George says, “It’s HARD work.” In the end, we figured it was a nice day out. And these days, that’s not such a bad thing at all.

The Nature of George

For a boy who was a self-confessed C-student, Boy George sure does have a way with words. His habit of taking a complete cockup, renaming it, and turning it into a “success” is legendary. Who can forget the No Child Left Behind Act which is anything but or his attempts to change the phrase suicide bombers to homicide bombers or his rebranding of the phrase the war on terror for the phrase a global struggle against the enemies of freedom (we think they dropped that last one because it was just too much of a challenge for the Texas Tard’s reknown oratorical skills…”global enemies who struggle for freedom”, “uh, freedom struggling for a globe that is the enemy”, “how ’bout freedom is our enemy on the globe”…).

This morning’s media dispatch highlights yet another of George’s brainstorms in a teacup – removing the phrase “respect for nature” from a UN statement on poverty and UN reform. Even for Bush Inc. – whose motto is, “Earth First, We’ll Log the Other Planets Later” – this represents a bit of a puzzler. Who would be stupid enough to say, they’re anti-nature? That’s a bit like saying you’re for clubbing puppies.

Even the Russian delegate was non-plussed, “Nature is something which needs a lot of respect,” he said. This, from a country with oceans of radioactive ooze, rusting nuclear submarines, and factories that spew enough smoke to bring tears to the eyes of black lung victims. EVEN THEY UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT!

Additional bad words from the statement included respect for “human rights, freedom, equality, tolerance, and multilateralism”. If the Chimperor was suddenly seized by a desire to be truthful, why not demand the removal of these words too? Obviously, he doesn’t believe in these concepts either.

Ric Grenell from the US mission tried to explain that nature, “is too broad a subject, and if we had to define the multiple ways the US government respects nature, the document would be too long and way off its original intent.”
Ric, Ric, Ric. There are so many holes in that wimpy argument it’s hard to know where to start.

First, we’re thinking that, “defining the multiple ways the US government respects nature” would be a pretty short list. We’re confident that drilling ANWR, strip mining, clear cut timber cutting, and the like wouldn’t qualify as ways to show “respect” for nature. Now ways of thumbing our nose at nature – THAT would be a long list.

Second, we’re sure that Revoltin’ John and Co. are only there for the UN reform part anyway – the hell with small potatoes issues like poverty and multilateralism. So why not just balk at all the other topics and cut straight to the reform issue? We already confident that the Attack Walrus is only going to sit at the table with his fingers in his ears while saying, “la…la…la…la…I can’t hear you…la…la…la” anyway.

Our guess is that the Bushinator really does like to club puppies. So Barney, you’d better watch out. If Daddy says he’s taking you to a “ballgame”, watch out for where he keeps the bat.