So the dentist walks into the room, and describes my condition by quoting Friday’s Bleat. Well, okay, then. We’re in good hands.

The reconstruction process – I’m getting everything done at once – will take place Wednesday, and I will be hopped up on goofballs. Floating on Ether, as the old Curious George cartoon had it. I think he actually floated after he huffed the stuff. Odd lesson for a kid, but I didn’t believe that anymore than I thought that exposure to Alum made your head shrink and your voice go high, as the Warner Brothers cartoons insisted.

It’s Earth Day, and I can’t think of the day without recalling Steven Levy’s book “The Unicorn’s Secret” – it concerns the crimes of Ira Einhorn, the Unicorn Killer, a sociopathic changeling involved in the first Earth Day, and subsequently famous for killing and mummifying his girlfriend, then hiding in France for a few decades. (He blamed the killing on the CIA. The jury, having had their minds warped by remote viewers in Reston, did not buy the defense.) He said he invented Earth Day, but he was likely a squeaky axle who claimed credit for the revolution of the wheel. If you read Levy’s book, though, you can see why people believed his claim: he had the magnetic personality, effortless stream of highflown palaver, and counterculture cred – i.e., corrosive, plaster-cracking body odor – that charmed squarejohn corporate types desperate to connect with the Age of Aquarius.

Speaking of murderers: the Yorkshire Ripper, as he was known, is suffering health problems. He’s too fat. I remember reading about this case when it was still unsolved – a fellow was caving in skulls with a hammer, and the best minds of the Yard couldn’t track him down. Now he’s so fat he has to go to a special hospital. It’s the Sun, so you can take it all with a dram of goose drippings, but it doesn’t seem absurd. The Sun has reported that the Ripper’s unit had a smashing holiday meal, including vegetarian and hallal options. Causing humans pain is one thing, but animals? That's another matter.

They also played charades. Which seems apt.

As does this: A “French Muslim” – as opposed to a Frenchman, I guess – has invented a religiously observant watch that goes backwards. The article nods to “critics” who “say that the notion that modern science was revealed in the Koran confuses spiritual truth, which is constant, and empirical truth, which depends on the state of science at any given point in time.”

You can argue about that formulation, but it will be a great day when the critics are Saudi clerics, and they go on record with their names opposing this pseudoscience.

Domestically: this is Blll Ayers. (Slate link.) Get to know the lad; you’ll be hearing more. In today’s paper I read a brief excerpt of a Chicago Tribune defense, taken from an editorial called “Guilt by Association” :

First, you have to wonder why ABC News thought it was a good idea to have George Stephanopoulos, who was one of President Bill Clinton's highest-ranking aides, serve up questions at a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Because we’ve been told that members of the network media are above partisan concerns?

Second, you have to wonder why Stephanopoulos, who has been resurrected as a television commentator, thought to ask Obama about . . . Bill Ayers.

Because of Mr. Ayers’ illustrious past as a domestic bomb-planter, perhaps. Strange as it may seem some people have a few questions.

Obama knows Ayers, a former radical and member of the Weather Underground who is now an academic in Chicago. They met years ago. They served together on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which provides money for anti-poverty efforts.

These are magic words, meant to inoculate: Academic. Anti-poverty efforts. You may believe that an “academic” is someone devoted to a disinterested pursuit of truth bravely following logic down the harrowing corridors where ideology is the first casualty; you may also be a freshman in college with your tuition paid by your parents. There’s a touching naïvete about the description of Ayers as a college professor, as if that means he has entered a realm of pipe-smoking rumination about Truth and Beauty. Doesn’t that make him an Authority? Aren’t we supposed to question Authority? Note to Dick Cheney: get yourself to the Department of Political Science at the U of Wyoming, and watch those calls for war-crime prosecutions melt away. The editorial also notes that it's difficult to move in Chicago academic circles and not encounter Ayers, and no doubt truck drivers and housewives and guys heading to the office on the train nodded in agreement: boy, true dat.

The editorial continues:

So we're going to side with Mayor Richard Daley on this one.

"There are a lot of reasons that Americans are angry about Washington politics. And one more example is the way Sen. Obama's opponents are playing guilt by association, tarring him because he happens to know Bill Ayers."

Actually, I think this is an example of Chicago politics, but we’re not supposed to be angry about that. At least it’s good to know that “guilt by association” is off the table, and McCain needn’t fear any photos of him in the same room with Trent Lott. The mayor continues:

"I don't condone what he did 40 years ago but I remember that period well. It was a difficult time, but those days are long over.”

It was a difficult time. What a wonderful absolution. Oh, we all went a little mad. Some of us listened to Steppenwolf, some of us bombed government buildings and plotted robberies that killed people, some of us were rotting in Vietnamese prisons having our teeth bashed out by torture experts. Those days are behind us now, best forgotten. (Unlike the McCarthy era, which will be the subject of 163 movies about the blacklist next year, bringing the total to 45,203.)

You know, it may be hard to find a candidate who doesn’t belong to a church whose leader delivers eyebrow-singing speeches on the evils of America and also built a house Jim Bakker would approve, and it may be hard to find a candidate who doesn’t move with ease in the same social circles as some people who bombed the Pentagon, but it can’t be that hard to find one who doesn’t do both.

If these positions – serial killers shouldn’t be fat or given holiday parties; religiously-inflected science is empirically suspect; religious identity should not trump national identity automatically in a news story; one ought not shrug at an association with previously romantic terrorists who did naughty things in a “difficult time” because they’re academics now – if these positions are dismissed as “right wing positions,” well, I thought the same thing when I voted for Carter. Of course, I could have been insane then, unable to grasp the delicate nuances of a complex world. The ground ever moves beneath our feet, doesn’t it.

There’s been discussion over at Instapundit about various forms of lust for bygone cars of questionable style; let me recall one that still makes my heart skip a beat or two when I recall my youth.

I had a Pacer.

I loved it, but rust took us apart. Until that day I was inordinately fond of it, because it was simply the most futuristic car on the mass market, and futuristic in a way only the benighted 70s could have produced. It was round in an age when most cars had the aerodynamic profile of a tipped-over Frigidaire, and it was wide – had the wheelbase of Sophie Tucker, it did. The hatchback area was big enough for sleeping, and I slept it in a few nights when I was between apartments or off in the woods. I don’t remember any gearhead details like “pickup” or “top speed,” and the latter wasn’t that important in the 55 MPH era, anyway. Half the cars I drove in those horrible dark times shimmied like Little Richard in a KY Jelly factory, and the engines sounded like a skeleton pitching a fit on a tin roof. (To quote Foghorn Leghorn.)

Best feature: twice I drove it in a horrible blizzard, and lived. Once I was driving back to the Cities from Fargo, and the road simply disappeared; you couldn’t see more than six yards ahead, and you had only the tracks of the previous car to guide you. But that was nothing compared to a storm that closed the Interstate entirely. There’s nothing quite like being on a highway that’s been closed already; the radio said I-94 has been closed, but there you are, driving along, wondering what waits ahead. I pulled off at Alexandria, checked into a Holiday Inn, and I believe I had my first scotch ever in the hotel bar. It seemed like a manly thing to do. I have cheated death in my Pacer! Bring me Sloe Gin! Doesn’t quite work.

Anyway. Worst car ever? That thing was as close to George Jetson’s car as we got in those days.

You doubt me? Don’t be doubting me.

New comic - just a couple of months away from installment number #100 on that series, and Matchbook #300. My little heart is filled with blood, and pride, when I think of that. See you at!