Judge John Hodgman Episode 128: Horseless Miscarriage of Justice


Abraham, a self-described gearhead, brings the case against his sister Sonja: why won't she take his advice when buying a car?

Thanks to Paul Ruh for suggesting this week's case name! To suggest a title for a future episode, like us on Facebook at Judge John Hodgman! We regularly put a call for submissions.

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Knee Cap In Trade?

I drove manual transmission cars for 11 years, from the age of 25 to 36. The original decision was based on the purchase price advantage over automatics, although I must admit that I also found them more fun to drive, even in the stop and go traffic of greater Los Angeles, and specifically, on that thrill ride known as the Pasadena Freeway. However, over time I developed in my left (clutch) knee reoccurring bouts of absolutely excruciating, hot pokerish pain. For as much as two weeks at a crack, the pain that struck when bending it would bring tears to my eyes and require the suppression actual screams. Stairs were torture. I dreaded having to crouch down and stand back up. When driving, there were times I was actually forced to use my right foot alone to operate all three pedals: gas, break, and clutch--dangerous!

After switching to automatic, I continued to have flare-ups, but within a couple years the episodes became fewer and less painful, before stopping completely. I'm positive that if I had continued to drive stick the condition would have continued to worsen, perhaps to the point where a total replacement was required. My advice is to go ahead and learn how to operate a manual transmission so that you're prepared in case there's ever a time when it's your only option. But DO NOT drive a manual on a regular basis--certainly not on daily commutes. Your patellar tendon will thank you. Furthermore, when in Europe, especially when in countries where you need to adjust to driving on the left side of the road, the last thing you need is the additional complication of gear jamming. Finally, for an immediate judgement in your favor, can you identify the following cultural reference: "The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."

Precise Modern Lovers Order

As much as I try to avoid being pedantic, I'm afraid that Judge Hodgman made a judicial error when he implied that "Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers" were the artists behind the sublime "Roadrunner." When that song was recorded in 1972, Jonathan Richman was indeed the creative force behind The Modern Lovers, but his name did not officially precede the band name until 1976. This is confusing because the album 'The Modern Lovers,' the Velvet Underground-influenced slice of teenage rock angst that kicks off with "Roadrunner," was not released until 1976, the same year that Richman released 'Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers,' which had mostly different sidemen and featured songs highlighting the sillier Jonathan Richman we all know and love today ("Abominable Snowman In The Market" being one of that album's more delightful songs). - Hayden Childs


Listening from England this was a very surreal episode. Everyone here drives manual, automatics are for very rich business cars or old people who physically cannot drive manual cars. The spottiest, stupidest teenagers drive manual cars. Also your fuel mileage numbers are terrible, that was for a car with "eco" in the name. Truly weird to listen to.