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2:54 am EDT        70°F (21°C) in North Kingsville, OH

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Tonight, I have a bunch of random, unrelated things to write about. I'm going to start with the idiots with whom I share the road — namely, my fellow "professional" over-the-road truck drivers. As I pulled into the truck stop here, I was dismayed at the exceedingly lazy parking job that just about every driver around me seemed to have done. Generally speaking, it is a big-time no-no to park a truck "nose-in" — that is, pulling forward into a space in which you find yourself blocked in front by another truck or the edge of the parking lot. It is far better to park "tail-in" a space if you can only go one direction to leave said space; many truck parking lots simply don't leave enough room between rows of spaces for a driver to back straight out of a space in which he is "nosed-in," and you run the risk that trucks will park on both sides of you, making it impossible to turn as you are backing out.

Granted, there are certain scenarios in which one should or must pull into a space nose-first, such as at a state-maintained rest area that only has one row of diagonally-oriented parking spaces, but in many truck stop parking lots, it's a bad idea. So needless to say, I was quite dismayed to see several trucks parked "nose-in" when I entered the lot. Not only does it make things more difficult when that driver goes to leave, but it also frankly displays extreme laziness (or possibly even worse yet, lack of skill) on the part of a driver. Let me explain it like this: money is made when loads are delivered, and delivering a load requires a driver to BACK UP (!!!!) into the dock so that the customer can unload the product. Why, I must ask, can't people seem to be able to do the same thing at truck stops?

(Aside: That doesn't even get into the people out here who can only operate a truck in its forward gears. I swear, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard a team driver say, "My co-driver does all the backing up for me," I'd have enough money to qualify for Bush's tax cuts for the rich. In fact, on one occasion, as I was delivering in Buffalo, NY, roughly a year ago, some guy just stopped parallel to the docks, came knocking on my door (as it was obvious I was in my cab), and in exceedingly bad English explained that he didn't know how to back into a dock — and asked me to back his truck into the dock for him! Nice and helpful guy that I am, I did it and didn't ask for any compensation, but come on; if you can't back a rig up, you don't belong in this industry.)

I promised a rant about the Catholic Church in my last update. Actually, I've sort of lost most of the fire behind the originally intended rant, but by a stroke of luck, Pope Benedict XVI gave me a second line of attack on Monday. In the tradition started and raised to an art form by John Paul II, Benedict verbally went on the offensive against women's freedom and basic rights for gay people, just further proving the absolute irrelevance of the Vatican in today's world. It shouldn't be any surprise that less than 10% of European Catholics participate regularly in church activities, and that a large majority of American Catholics simply ignore the Vatican on matters of sexuality.

The originally intended rant also had to do with Benedict, but in a slightly less direct way. Back when Benedict was still merely Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he issued a statement that more or less tacitly approved of the Church's tactic of simply moving priests accused of sexual abuses (rather than defrocking them and allowing them to face criminal prosecution). One of the many lawsuits that abuse victims have filed against the Church actually names Ratzinger personally as a defendant, based largely on this letter; the victims' lawyers are arguing that the letter proves Ratzinger's complicity in the abuse. The court involved in this particular suit was actually going to subpoena Ratzinger and require him to come to Texas, but just as that was about to happen, John Paul II died. The Vatican, keenly aware of the international agreements guaranteeing diplomatic immunity to foreign heads of state, moved quickly to elect Ratzinger as the new pope — and not very long thereafter, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano sent a letter to Condoleezza Rice asking the American government to immediately grant Ratzinger this immunity. What bastards!

There is still some hope for the victims here, though. Since the United States' official diplomatic recognition of the Vatican was not passed by Congress — rather, it came from an executive order by Ronald Reagan — the victims' lawyers are planning to challenge the diplomatic recognition of the Vatican on the basis of Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that a two-thirds vote in the Senate is required to make treaties with other countries. If Bush should grant the Vatican's request for immunity for Ratzinger, the victims and their lawyers will take this challenge to federal court.

Well, I'm off to bed for the night. I'm on my way to Kentucky for a delivery tomorrow morning.

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