Run flats? Nope, not so much

When I bought the Mini back in 2012 (used) the guy I bought it from said he’d just had four new tires put on it, all of them run-flats. That means you can drive on one of them for roughly 100 miles if it deflates to get someplace where you can have it fixed.

Uh-huh. My right rear tire showed signs of being low yesterday, so when I went out today the first place I stopped was a Chevron station at the bottom of the hill to get some air into it. I got it back up close to the 35 PSI it’s supposed to have and drove about a mile to Office Depot to get a pen refill. I got out of the car there and the tire was damned near flat again.

Fortunately, right next to that Chevron station is a tire place, one that’s been around for 50-60 years. It’s reputable and its people know me; I’ve been going there for years. So I turned the car around after buying my refill and went right back there. I showed them the tire and asked if they sold run-flat tires. No, they said, so they’d try to patch the one that went bad. I sat down in the waiting room to wait.

A few minutes later the clerk found me and said “You know what? None of these tires are run-flats. They’re just ordinary steel-belted radials.”

“But, but,” I sputtered, “I was told they were all run-flats when I bought them!”

“Well, they’re not. So what do you want us to do?”

“Do you have a radial that will fit the wheel?” I asked.

“Lemme check,” she said. Slight delay. “Yep.”

“Okay,” I said. “Lemme have it.”

So they did, at the cost of $153.96 for the tire and a service plan.

But. This car is meant to have run-flats. There is no space for a spare tire anywhere in the car without eating up what little storage space there is. So now I’m faced with either riding without a spare and hoping for the best or buying four run-flat tires at $286 or more apiece.

That’s not a fun choice at all.

Oscar Noms panned

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its nominations for its awards today, and the first thing that jumped out at observers was that every acting nominee was white. The second thing observers noticed was that “Selma” was nominated for Best Picture but its director was left off the nomination list for Best Director.

And there was much gnashing of teeth.

But look. According to an LA Times survey done three years ago, the membership is primarily aging white men.

A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect. Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.

Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.


The academy is primarily a group of working professionals, and nearly 50% of the academy’s actors have appeared on screen in the last two years. But membership is generally for life, and hundreds of academy voters haven’t worked on a movie in decades.

Given those realities, maybe it was a miracle last year that 12 Years a Slave won best picture, and no surprise that Selma was off the acting radar.

Ted and Marco’s Scientific Adventure

So is the sky gonna fall, is Texas gonna sink, and are Florida’s Everglades gonna dry up now that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio each chairs a Senate subcommittee with responsibility for science? Cruz has NASA, atmosphere and science policy in his group, while Rubio has NOAA in his.

Probably not, says Roger Pilke, director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research.

“I think we should expect business as usual, with a few new faces,” he says. “I don’t expect Republican revolution of the sort we saw in ‘94, but who knows.”


Even skeptics like Rubio and Cruz don’t have the juice to defund, gut or kill NASA, an agency closely tied to the national identity and scientific research, or NOAA, which provides weather forecasting information to the airline and shipping industries, and has jobs “that show up all over the country,” Pilke says. “It’s not quite pork, but they’re spread around nicely.”

He does suggest that the science community needs to try to figure out how to work with these people. “It’s not easy, I know, but a more confrontational approach going forward doesn’t help the agency and help policy.”

I remain astonished that science has become a partisan issue. It’s now an article of faith in the Republican party that climate change is not happening, that scientists keep saying it is only because they want grants from the federal government to study it, and that it’s squishy Democrats and liberals that believe in that stuff. Manly Republicans and conservatives know better.

What caused this split?

NFL Playoffs Sunday

In the early game the Packers scored two second-half touchdowns to come from behind and defeat the Cowboys 26 – 21.

In the second game barring two miraculous scores the Colts are going to defeat the Broncos. It’s currently 24 – 13 with under 3:00 to go. Manning and the Broncos couldn’t get any offense generated for most of the game; they had four 3-plays-and-punt series, three in the second half when they were already behind.

NFL Playoff Saturday

The Pats held off the Ravens in a wonderfully watchable game, 35 – 31. They now await the winner of tomorrow’s Colts – Broncos game.

This one wasn’t decided until there was only 1:39 left in the game, when Flacco was intercepted in the end zone by Duron Harmon. After three kneeldowns the Pats punted, the receiver made a dumb mistake and ran for the sidelines rather than calling for a fair catch, and then Flacco heaved a Hail Mary pass into the end zone from about 60 yards away. It was batted back into the field of play and fell harmlessly to the ground.

The second game has the Panthers facing the Seahawks. It’s underway, and with 9:02 left in the first quarter there’s no score.

Double standard

Every time there’s a horrific attack on innocents by guys who scream “Allahu Akbar” while they’re shooting or bombing we can count on immediate cries from the right wing and even from the more sensible middle of “Where are all the responsible Muslims? Why don’t they condemn these actions right now?”

Leaving aside the fact that Fox News rarely shows or tells its viewers about all the Muslim clerics that do condemn terrorist activities immediately, I’m curious. Where was the demand that millions of Christians go into the streets to protest the murder of Dr. George Tiller by a rabid pro-life activist? Where was the widespread condemnation of all those people who helped Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph hide from the Feds for as long as he did? Where were the street protests when a white supremacist shot up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin? Why did no one call for mass protests against each one of the several hundred arson, bombing and property crimes that have occurred at abortion providers’ clinics?

Why, for that matter, is the white guy who shot up that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 not called a terrorist, whereas any brown-skinned shooter or bomber automatically is?

As Charlie Pierce frequently says, this is not About Race because nothing ever is About Race.

Charlie Hebdo

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there were 61 members of that tribe killed in 2014. 27 of them were murdered.

Create a 2015 spreadsheet and enter 12 victims into the murder column.

Religious extremism is nothing new, but it surely seems to manifest more often these days. I don’t know how to stop it, either. The zealots don’t appear to listen to their reputed leaders unless the leaders tell them what they want to hear, which is no way to run an organization or a cult or any social program.