Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Funny Customers, Mao's Red Book & Johnny Damon

Booksellers as a group tend to make too much fun of their customers, but let's face it, every once in a while they deserve it. There's a book called "Bookworm Droppings" that collects tales from booksellers, and some bookbuyers, of silly things the other guy said. Some of it simply reflects booksellers being a pain in the ass (nothing abnormal there) but some of it is pretty funny.

My favorite customer joke has nothing to do with bookselling at all. It came from a female department store clerk who was asked by another woman (who she didn't know from Adam, or Eve) "Do you think my husband would like this sweater?" "I don't know," the clerk replied. "Next time we're in bed together I'll ask him".

I see there's a new hole in Windows this morning, gee, imagine that. This one apparently might be exploited in Firefox too, so I canna get up on my horse too fast about it. But still, anyone still opening file attachments that they were not expecting might as well just take a sledghammer to their computer now and be done with it -it'd be faster and save the rest of us some hassles by not spreading these things further and faster. Really. Just go grab that hammer and whack away. Once more. Good. Thank you.

The story about that UMass student who says the Feds visited him when he tried to check out Mao's "Little Red Book" is still in the news. This time a teacher wants the student suspended. Seems wrong to me. Are you going to suspend every student who makes up a "my dog ate my term paper" story?

The fact of the matter is that the story might as well have been true-it was true, in a way, so the actual facts of one particular, isolated incident do not matter. People's belief in it -which was instant and widespread, makes it true, in effect, because it reflects our own understanding of, and perception of, the country and society we live in today. The country and society we live in are scared shitless and have become uber-paranoid, either about terrorist bogiemen or government bogiemen. The wildfire spread of that story is simply a reflection of that greater truth.

And who is to say such things do not happen? Since people who are the targets of searches or visits such as the one alleged in the story are prohibited by law from saying anything about them, the question of whether they happen, or how many have happened, or under what exact circumstances they happen, is moot. Nobody can know. I did notice one thing- in responding to the initial story, one Federal agent commented that it seemed "unlikely" that such a visit would happen. As somebody else commeted at the time (sorry, don't remember who -gotta cut out that second beer before breakfast) I'd feel a lot more comfortable if he'd characterized it as "absurd", "impossible" or "ridiculous" rather than simply "unlikely".

Still have to figure out what to do with that extra leap second this year. Maybe I'll spend it reviewing the Red Sox chances of landing a decent center fielder. I mean, not to cry over spilt milk but... but... BUT WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING??? Ok, I feel better now. Go Pats.

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