Diary of a Mad County

Photo courtesy Californians for
Schwarzenegger 2003WEDNESDAY, July 28 I don't know if you keep track of these things, but a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a conversation I'd had with my son about urinating on a baseball to clean it and how he told me that that's why guys peed on their muskets during the Civil War and me saying there were no muskets in the Civil War, that they actually used urine to sterilize surgical instruments. Ring a bell? Anyway, Jim Roberts of Long Beach sent me an e-mail pointing out a few minor mistakes, the first being "there were muskets in the Civil War. Both smooth bore barrel and rifled barrel muskets. (A musket is simply a shoulder-fired firearm. So, technically, an M-16 is also a musket.) After a while, the name of the latter type of musket was shortened to 'rifle.' Maybe you were thinking of flintlocks, the staple of 18th century armies and an earlier type of musket." Yes. Flintlocks. I was thinking of flintlocks. I often do that. Think about flintlocks, you know, when I'm not thinking about cat-o'-nine-tails. Jim continued, "I don't think surgeons used urine to sterilize their instruments during the Civil War because nobody at the time knew that sterilization was necessary. The germ theory of infection had not yet been thought of. The pathogenic nature of certain microbes, particularly bacteria, was discovered only at the end of the 1860s, but, of course, not in time for the hundreds of thousands of young and old who died of disease and gangrenous wounds." Hey, Jim, stop telling me how to raise my kid. Actually, you sound like a smart guy, so I'd be interested in your thoughts on my son's latest theory: that his friend Dalton's habit of eating teriyaki chicken for breakfast is appreciably more bizarre than his own taste for sliced cheddar cheese and apples dipped in syrup. Discuss.

THURSDAY, July 29 Something called a Margie Rice switches her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, saying, "I don't feel like the party is the same party it was when I registered as a Democrat 54 years ago." Who of us is, Margie? Fifty-four years ago, Strom Thurmondwas still a Democrat, as was President Harry Truman, whose No. 1 priority was fighting the Soviet Union. Fifty-four years ago, there was a Soviet Union. Anyway, Margie says the last straw came when Democratic Party officials had the audacity to ask her, a Democrat and the mayor of Westminster, to campaign for John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate. Outrageous. She says she couldn't do it since she finds herself agreeing more with George W. Bush these days. And why not? A vintage former Democrat like her is bound to be enamored of a tax-and-spend deficit-maker who entangles the U.S. in disastrous and protracted foreign conflicts. That's old-school!

FRIDAY, July 30 The California Senate barely passes a budget a month late. Only four of 14 Republicans vote yes on the $105 billion spending plan pushed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, how things have changed. Someone defuse my head before it explodes. Thank God for the recall. Now, instead of budget impasses, name calling, and angry Democratic lawmakers feuding and breaking with the Democratic governor, we have budget impasses, name calling, and angry Republican lawmakers feuding and breaking with the Republican governor. Recent numbers show Schwarzenegger's approval ratings are dropping faster than rentals of Last Action Hero.

SATURDAY, July 31 Part of the money in the state budget will go to compensate Wal-Mart employees who were paid so crappily that they needed $86 million in state assistance last year. This would seem to fly directly in the face of those Wal-Mart commercials that argue that Wal-Mart saves communities, old people and terminally ill children. The other big-boxer, Target, doesn't need to run ads like that, mostly because it's way cooler and because, frankly, we don't want to know if Target is doing bad stuff, which is why we don't linger too much at the handbags, toys and T-shirts that have "Made in China" tags on them. Unfortunately, today those tags are on T-shirts that read, "Shopping is my therapy," "I Love Shopping," "P is for pampered," "Boy patrol," "I have issues," "S is for spoiled" and, "Drama queen." These are part of the new Emaciated Olsen Twins clothing line of shirts dubbed the "Low Self-EsTeens."

SUNDAY, Aug. 1 My wife is coming home from Washington, D.C., today and calls to tell me that she'll be late since the terror alert has been raised to Orange from, I dunno, Eggshell, Tartan, something, and they're really clamping down at the airport. "Don't let the kids watch the news, I don't want them to hear about it," she says as a caring mother, and isn't that just like a mother—to not only be concerned that her kids might worry about her safety but to also think so much of them as to assume they may actually be watching the news? The only way my kids are watching the news is if Cartoon Network started running a daily report under the title of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Still, it freaks me out to hear this from her, and I start to wonder about someone we've never met trying to destroy our family. (Why it gives me solace to think of a loved one or treasured acquaintance planning to do the same I can't say.) Anyway, this bothers me for some time until I suddenly think about how many others who don't know me, my wife or my kids want to kill us: Christian snipers, angry school kids, fast-food and tobacco industries, murderers both serial and ritualistic who crave my blood as a portal for their own becoming. And this gives me great comfort. I have no idea why. The world is a hard place; you takes your comfort where you can.

MONDAY, Aug. 2 Theo Douglasfalls down in OC Weekly World HQ—goes crack! Don't even try.

TUESDAY, Aug. 3 Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges announces that it fell far short of its earnings targets for the fiscal fourth quarter, a revelation that causes its stock to plummet 45 percent. Investors were apparently upset not only at Corinthian lack of earnings, but also for failing, once again, to get its football team ranked in USA Today's preseason top 25. Corinthian officials say one reason for the low earnings was the high cost of an ad campaign to counter lawsuits brought by angry students claiming they had trouble transferring units to other schools. As you would expect, students at Cal State Long Beach are said to be watching the lawsuits very closely.



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