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Monday 31 May 2004

Tino Manor Entertainment

Many of you have been writing in, asking, “How does Tino Manor handle its A/V entertainment needs?”

Well, okay, none of you have actually asked — recently. But I spent some time this afternoon re-wiring this mess, so you’re going to hear about it.

This is where the house’s audiovisual entertainment comes from:


Clicking on the picture will pop up a larger version. In the rack on tie right, from the bottom you find:

  • An original TiVo
  • A very old Sony satellite receiver
  • A Sony stereo receiver, used really just as a switch and an amplifier
  • A Philips DVD player/recorder
  • A Philips DVD player, for playing Region 2 DVDs
  • A Sony DVD player, for playing Region 1 DVDs
  • A Sony NTSC VCR
  • A Daewoo PAL VCR
  • A manual AV switch for switching between the VCRs and two of the DVDs
  • A frighteningly old TV with AV inputs, used to see whether all this is working
  • A Radio Shack RF modulator
  • A Cisco 765 ISDN router
  • A 110-220 transformer for running the PAL VCR
  • An auxiliary antenna for the wireless network

Also in the AV rack but not visible are: a UPS to make sure that we don’t miss a second of TV during our frequent power blips; a couple of distribution amplifiers; a speaker switch; some gizmotry to see to it that all of this can be controlled with IR remotes from anywhere in the house; and several miles of wire.


Speaking of remotes: I think that this has got out of hand.

Left to right here you have remote controls for:

  • The projector
  • Sony DVD
  • Daewoo VCR
  • Sony VCR
  • Philips VCR #1
  • Philips VCR #2
  • Sony VCR again — some controls are only on this remote control and not on the other
  • X-10 lights
  • Philips Pronto, which is supposed to replace all of the others, but doesn’t
  • TiVo
  • Sony stereo receiver

And yes, all of these are necessary all the time. Before long I will have to buy a bigger coffee table.

The problem with the Pronto, which is supposed to be the be-all and end-all of universal remote controls, and which costs several hundred dollars, is that it’s based around a touchscreen. This sounds like a great idea, since it’s infinitely customizable; but the problem is that you have to look at the thing because there’s no tactile feedback. And because you can’t fit too much on the screen at one time, you’ve got to split the functions of most devices onto several pages — so in the end I wind up with an armload of remote controls.

And you still have to re-wire things if you want to use the Playstation.

Posted by tino at 19:31 31.05.04
Tuesday 25 May 2004

Online Advertising Sucks

In Wired:

Speaking at the Ad:Tech conference, a three-day expo of Internet advertising technology, a panel of representatives from CNet, New York Times Digital and Yahoo said customer feedback would play an increasingly important role in decisions involving the deployment of new advertising technologies.

Advertising, by its very nature, is all about customer feedback. The point of advertising something is to get customers to feed money back to you in exchange for whatever it is that you’re advertising.

The problem is that the assclowns in the advertising industry, full of hubris, seem to believe that if people don’t respond to ads, it must be either because there’s something wrong with the customers, or because the potential customers aren’t noticing the ads. The clear solution then is to make the ads more intrusive, louder, brighter, and to make them flash.

This, of course, won’t result in people going out of their way to make sure that they never see the ads in the first place.

This arrogance on the part of advertisers applies to all media, not just INTERNET. (Aside: Why do so many people not only not realize that the word ‘Internet’ takes the definite article, but that it’s not an acronym?) Try to sell me something that I just might be interested in, and I’ll be likely to watch your ad, and then more likely to buy your product when I’m shopping. I am not interested in:

  • adult diapers
  • cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • erection-producing drugs
  • drugs, in fact, of any kind
  • mortgage refinancing
  • payday loans
  • collect-calling schemes
  • the latest tits-and-explosions movie
  • the latest Boomermobile
  • your nasty home PC loaded up with ‘easy’ to use features

Everyone’s different, and everyone’s different at different times, but the ads that would be well-targeted at me right now would tout:

  • antique Porsche parts and accessories
  • high-end mobile phones
  • almost anything battery-operated that fits in a pocket
  • network scanners

Is anyone advertising any of that stuff? No. On TV, I just might be persuaded to understand this. The technology is in place, but the business model not, to narrowly target advertisements; so it’s still necessary to show us all the same ads, which means that we all see the ads meant for Madison Avenue’s dream consumer. Older people complain that advertisers focus exclusively on college kids, but to me it seems like the advertisers are mainly chasing after incontinent, slightly dim prole Zeppelin fans who have degenerative health problems and who are really overextended financially.

Online, though, the advertising business model is brand new, but I still see ads primarily for garbage that I’m not buying because I have absolutely no desire for it, not because I remain unaware that it’s available in five colors and on easy payment terms etc.

The people selling advertising online now say that they’re seeing more demand, so prices are likely to rise. This might result in the advertisers putting down the crack pipe and coming to understand that the best way to sell something is to sell something that people want to buy.

Posted by tino at 13:53 25.05.04
Sunday 23 May 2004

In The Suburbs

A new photo gallery, In The Suburbs, has been added to Tinotopia. Most of the pictures are from an area in northern Virginia that I find to be particularly horrifying. Describing the area more precisely than that — ‘an area in Northern Virginia’ — is hard; it’s so center-less that it doesn’t really have a name. You might call it ‘Sterling’, or ‘Dulles’ or, if you’re a real-estate marketeer, ‘Cascades’.

It’s what comes to my mind when I hear the word ‘sprawl’, and it’s awful. It is not entirely without charm; in particular there’s a strip mall where the developers made a real effort. Unfortunately, the result serves mainly to emphasize just how bad the whole place is.

Posted by tino at 11:55 23.05.04
Saturday 22 May 2004

Bill Cosby Lets Some Truth Slip Out

Following on the heels of Maryland Governor Erlich’s comments that people who live in the U.S. should learn to speak English, Bill Cosby, at a party in Washington commemorating the 50th anniversaty of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, has pointed out that Black America has a problem with English, too:

“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English,” he said. “I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t.’ ‘Where you is.’ … And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. … You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!”

And it’s not just English, either.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal,” he said Monday night. “These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids - $500 sneakers for what?

Now, I don’t think that too many poor parents are buying $500 sneakers for their kids. But the basic message — that it doesn’t help matters when many poor people (many of whom are black) do not appear to be even trying to live within their means while at the same time clamoring for more government assistance — is still true. It rather sends the message that they will, with their limited means, look for luxuries while expecting someone else to provide them with the necessities. This does not engender respect.

When Cosby finally concluded

‘Finally’? How often do you read in a major publication, the sentence ‘When Bill Cosby finally shut the hell up’? Elsewhere in the article, it’s mentioned that Cosby’s speech was met with ‘laughter and applause’, so it doesn’t sound like he was delivering a self-serving rant. But the Washington Post (whose story this is, though it appears in Newsday; I couldn’t find the original) sees things differently. Anyway:

When Cosby finally concluded, Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and NAACP legal defense fund head Theodore Shaw came to the podium looking stone-faced. Shaw told the crowd that most people on welfare are not African-American

Undoubtedly true; but it’s also undoubtedly true that African-Americans are overrepresented among welfare recipients. That is, about 12% of the American population is black, but more than 12% of welfare recipients are. That the NAACP chooses to congratulate itself in that less than 50% of welfare recipients come from that 12% of the general population is telling, I think.

and many of the problems his organization has addressed in the black community were not self-inflicted.

Perhaps, then the NAACP should start addressing the problems in the black community that are self-inflicted, rather than blaming all their woes on others.

Posted by tino at 13:48 22.05.04
Tuesday 18 May 2004

It’s All About the Benjamins

I have not been writing here because I have been too busy embracing and extending Tinotopia’s capabillities. Specifically, I have improved the photo gallery here, and it’s about ready for testing now.

To shake the thing down — I’m having trouble viewing thumbnails in some browsers myself — I have added a gallery of photos that illustrate some urban planning principles and that some of you may find interesting.

Comments on the photos can be made, but you’ll have to register with a valid e-mail address first. I generally prefer to let anyone say whatever they like, but that does tend to bring the idiots out of the woodwork; I have things configured so that, should you register and leave comments, only your username, not your real name or e-mail address, is shown.

Posted by tino at 12:36 18.05.04
Tuesday 11 May 2004


The governor of Maryland recently said that he agreed with last week’s statements by the Maryland state comptoller, who had complained about people coming to live in the U.S. and refusing to learn to speak English.

Precisely, the governor said that multiculturalism is bunk. And crap:

“I reject the idea of multiculturalism,” Ehrlich (R) said on WBAL-AM (1090) radio. “Once you get into this multicultural crap, this bunk, you run into a problem. With respect to this culture, English is the language. Should we encourage young folks here to be assimilated, to learn the culture and values? Of course.”

That has, of course, been met with Righteous Indignation from the multiculturalists.

Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery), a first-generation immigrant from El Salvador, said she believes the governor and comptroller need diversity training.

Ah, diversity training. What’s up with that, exactly? These days, whenever anyone says anything that the multiculturalists don’t like, the recommendation is for diversity training. Who is this training designed to reach, exactly? Are there people out there who address black men as boy (or boyah) and who refer to Mexicans as wetbacks and so forth simply because they don’t know that these things are considered socially unacceptable by the multi-cultis?

But I digress. The Washington Post quotes Ms. Guiterrez further:

“I think what the governor said absolutely is offensive,” Gutierrez said. “It’s also a dangerous comment. What I am sensing is that these kinds of comments from leadership, from people who are in high-level positions, are really fueling an environment that is very dangerous and negative. It says it is okay to consider people who are different as something less.”

Certainly it cannot have escaped Ms. Guiterrez’s notice that people who cannot speak English are effectively less, in the United States. They’re less successful, less employable, and less wealthy, largely because they’re less-integrated with the mainstream culture.

It will be a long time in the future, if ever, before anyone who cannot speak English is elected President, or governor, or as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, or as Montgomery County Dogcatcher. All the CEOs of the Fortune 500, and I would bet of the Fortune 1000, and, if such a thing existed, of the Fortune 10000, speak English.

It seems to me that the governor has done something that’s rare these days for a politician: he’s admitted the obvious.

This is, according to Ms. Guiterrez and her amigos, ‘dangerous’. It fuels a ‘negative environment’. Ms. Guiterrez would seem to prefer the presumably positive environment of the ghetto.

While it’s true that them as has, gets, the United States’ wealth is due largely to American culture. American culture — which doesn’t mean our sparklingly-witty movies and TV shows — is why people come to the United States in droves, and why hardly anyone leaves.

But for that culture — the culture that makes millionaires out of immigrants — to be useful, the immigrants need to be members of it. Physical location isn’t enough to reap the full benefits. More and more native speakers of English in the United States now speak Spanish as well. I expect this trend to continue, and I expect us all to be richer (in all senses) for it. But saying that it’s ‘dangerous’ to suggest that immigrants should assimilate is just nuts.

* * *

One of the classic stereotypes of the Ugly American is of a fat, sweaty, red-faced man in a Hawaiian shirt shouting at a hapless local in some foreign land: WHERE-O IS THE TOILET-O??! The belief that foreigners understand English better when it’s shouted is one that dies hard.

It is true, though, that Americans don’t speak foreign languages at the same rate as people in similarly-industrialized and -wealthy nations. The main reason for this is that the United States is very large, and most Americans never leave the country or have to deal on a regular basis with people or companies in other countries. Add to that the fact that, if someone in another country speaks only one foreign language, it’s highly likely to be English, and there’s no real pressing need for most Americans to themselves ever learn to speak anything but English.

This is, of course, offered by the multi-cultis as evidence of the average American’s racism, xenophobia, etc.

So: Americans not speaking French or Spanish or German and going to visit France or Spain or Germany? Xenophobia. But people not speaking English and coming to live in the United States? Well, that’s multiculturalism. And if any English-speaking Americans point out that you’ll be more successful in this country if you’re able to communicate with people, now that’s xenophobia and racism, not to mention ‘dangerous’. Yeah, that sounds like a plausible philosophy.

Posted by tino at 17:04 11.05.04
Monday 10 May 2004

More Wal-Mart in Front Royal

The recent election in Front Royal gets some coverage in the Washington Post.

In that election, the mayor and three town-council members who had voted in favor of an unpopular location for a Wal-Mart were turned out, and replaced with four people who specifically ran on a platform of telling Wal-Mart to put their store somewhere else.

Andrew Stokes, manager of the Alvin B. Stokes general store — which was established in 1946 by his grandfather — sells everything from cast-iron skillets to saddles.

This is an unbelievably meagre description of the Stokes general store. The best description is that it’s somewhat less indescribable than the Stokes Mart across the street. If you’re ever in Front Royal both of these are must-sees.

Stokes said that salesmen who sell him his products have told him that he can expect a Wal-Mart superstore to cut into his gross revenue as much as 20 percent the first year it is open. But he still wants the store to come to town because, well, the residents need a big outlet like that.

Get this? One of the town’s biggest retail merchants wants Wal-Mart to move in. This is an unusual situation, to say the least; the town just doesn’t want to Wal-Mart in a location that’s going to be a disaster.


Keith Morris, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said last week’s election would not change the corporation’s plan to build on the site. “We had previously been approved by the Town Council,” Morris said, “and that was the final vote that was necessary. Just because you change some faces on the local governing body does not take away the fact that we have already received our approval.”

He’s probably right. He’s definitely right as far as the composition of the council not changing the validity of the council’s previous vote. There is some question of whether the council’s previous vote was valid in the first place, though, a question which is to be discussed in court in September. (The controversy surrounds whether a council member who had recused himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest counts as a warm body for the purpose of establishing a quorum.)

But is this good business? “Notwithstanding the residents’ opposition to our building here, as expressed in the recent election, we’re going to build here anyway”? Wal-Mart’s rezoning was approved by the narrowest of margins, and even then only as a result of parliamentary shenanigans. A few months after that, the town voted out of office the people who supported Wal-Mart.

At this point, most businesses would conclude that they have a public-relations problem on their hands. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, tells the town to stick it where the sun don’t shine. So to speak.

I’ve said before and I will say again that I generally admire Wal-Mart as a business. I am not at all in Wal-Mart’s target demographic, but I still find shopping there less frustrating than I do more retail experiences. I have never — never — personally encountered a situation where Wal-Mart has broken the customer service rules.

But this statement from the Wal-Mart spokesman strongly supports a couple of the complaints the anti-Wal-Marters make: specificlly, that Wal-Mart is arrogant, and that they don’t care about the communities they inhabit. Wal-Mart has certainly shown that they don’t particularly give a damn about what the people of Front Royal want.

And Wal-Mart can do that, because their stores draw from a larger area than a single town, and because the people of Front Royal won’t cut off their nose to spite their face; even if Wal-Mart makes their contempt for the town clear, the prices are still low, and the selection still vast.

I do not think this is over, at all. Since I wrote about this topic the other day, I have come to believe that the answer must be some kind of tax-kickback scheme from the town. With a new council in place, the tax-kickback environment may have changed, and Wal-Mart might suddenly be more amenable to building on the ‘too-rocky’ site in a better location.

Posted by tino at 17:22 10.05.04
Thursday 06 May 2004

Wal-Mart in Front Royal, and Town Elections

So on Tuesday there was an election here in Front Royal — or, I should say, there in Front Royal, since I don’t actually live in the town.

The mayor and three town council members were voted out of office, and it’s not much of a stretch to say that Wal-Mart was voted out of office, too.

Last summer, the big kerfuffle here was about whether a zoning variance — I think it was a zoning variance, I’m not entirely certain — should be approved to allow Wal-Mart to build a new store on the north end of town.

Now, rather unusually, the residents of Front Royal were (and are) generally in favor of having Wal-Mart move into town. I’m not sure whether this will be good for the town in the long run (eventually a town with the distinction of not having a Wal-Mart will in and of itself be a tourist attraction), but in the short term, at least, it would be very nice to be able to buy things without dealing with K-Mart or driving twenty miles.

I greatly admire Wal-Mart as a business and as a company, but their stores are just awful. On balance, we’d be much better off with the thing, though.

Wal-Mart wants to build their store on an incredibly ill-suited site, though, and last summer the town council approved this. Wal-Mart prefers this terrible site to the obviously superior one about a mile away because, they say, the other site is too rocky, and the site-preparation work would cost too much. This might be plausible but for the fact that their preferred site has about a 30-degree slope, presents serious ingress and egress problems for vehicles, is not visible from the Interstate highway, and is in a floodplain.

The ‘too-rocky’ site is relatively flat, next to a highway interchange, on a four-lane divided road, etc., etc. Wal-Mart is a very strange negotiator when it comes to store-siting issues. They are very persistent in attempting to build stores in places where there’s a lot of opposition, because even in the most anti-Wal-Mart places there are enough potential customers for them to make money.

When Wal-Mart is welcomed, at least, they threaten to pull out at the drop of a hat as soon as anything doesn’t go their way. This is what they’ve been doing in Front Royal: they say that if they can’t build where they want, they’ll take their Supercenter and go home, even though there’s clearly a market for them here.

In this view, the actual suitable Wal-Mart sites are outlined in red. The site they want to build on is outlined in yellow:

(See this page for better illustrations of the sites.)

The south-easternmost red site is now going to be occupied by a strip mall anchored by Lowe’s. In today’s Warren Sentinel, there was a story about the county turning down a request from Lowe’s for a sales-tax kickback:

“It’s not our job to subsidize a retail business to possible advantage over other retailers”, [Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman] Tony Carter later commented.

In Virginia, counties and towns are separate entities; Front Royal is completely surrounded by Warren County, and Warren County has its courthouse, offices, jail, etc. in Front Royal, but Front Royal is not part of Warren County.

The unsuitable-but-preferred-by-Wal-Mart site is in Front Royal; the other sites are in Warren County.

It occurs to me that the Front Royal officials may have been of a mind that it is their job to subsidize private businesses. I haven’t seen any hint of this anywhere, so it’s just speculation; but it certainly wouldn’t be unusual for a town to offer tax kickbacks — let’s be honest, that’s what they are — to a big company that chose to do business in its jurisdiction, and this may well have influenced Wal-Mart’s preference for the floodplain over the site next to the highway.

It is interesting that Wal-Mart, having got their zoning variance close to a year ago now, has not done any site-preparation work. Usually they break ground the day after any vote in their favor, so they can show specific harm if the town or county later changes its mind. Perhaps they were waiting for this election to see whether or not they’d be able to get tax concessions from the town.

Anyway, it will be even more interesting to see what happens now that the pro-Wal-Mart-in-the-floodplain officials are not longer in office.

Two Warren Sentinel stories about the election are reproduced ‘below the fold’, so to speak:

Incumbents swept out of office

Eastham defeats Tennett: Brooks, Darr, Grady take council seats

The Warren Sentinel

Was it a public referendum on the Riverton Wal-Mart rezoning?

Yes, no or maybe depending on who you talked to in the wake of Tuesday’s town election (see related story).

However, one thing is not in dispute - three incumbent councilmen and a mayor identified either as proponents or facilitators of that rezoning were voted out of office on Tuesday.

The reactions varied from ecstatic celebrations of victory by Save Our Gateway supporters of Stan Brooks, to quiet, philosophical acceptance of defeat by outgoing Mayor Robert L. Tennett Jr.

One common theme surfaced in the comments of both winners and losers Tuesday night - gratitude for a campaign conducted without much of the venom displayed during portions of last year’s debate over the Wal-Mart Riverton rezoning request.

“I want to thank all of my volunteers and supporters, and I especially want to thank Mayor Tennett for his many years of service to Front Royal. We all owe him a debt of gratitude,” said victorious mayoral candidate Jim Eastham.

“The people of Front Royal have spoken and I embrace their decision though it’s not the one I was hoping for,” Tennett said shortly after the final tally was announced around 9 p.m. “Throughout my many years of service as mayor and as a town councilman it has been my only wish that the voice of the people be heard and acted upon.”

Tennett added his “heartiest congratulations” to Eastham, calling him a gentleman and a friend and adding, “I will do my part to assure that there is a smooth transition of power between my administration and his.”

All the council candidates concurred that the campaign had been conducted with dignity and fairness.

However, perspectives on the result were somewhat divided.

“I believe the results are a clear message that the people are ready for a change and I am hopeful we’ll be able to meet their expectations. I believe they want managed growth,” said

Eileen Grady, adding, “I think other issues of concern are the budget, the growth of the town government and action on infrastructure improvements.”

“From the outset the three [winning council] candidates and I tried to make this more than a referendum on Wal-Mart,” Eastham concurred. “There are many other issues out there … such as town finances, planning and infrastructure that we all individually addressed as a part of our campaigns. Apparently the people responded to those issues, which will have an impact on Front Royal for years to come. And I am glad the voters were able to make this more than just a vote on Wal-Mart.”

“I guess they played a better game than we did,” said Hollis Tharpe, whose fourth-place finish was one place (and 114 votes) out of the money. “It’s obviously disappointing to me that the incumbents were not reelected but I’ve had four good years on the council. But I am saddened by the fact that [the winners] may want to get rid of some employees who work very hard for this town.” Tharpe declined to comment on whom he thought those employees might be.

Town Manager Rick Anzolut was the lone town official present Tuesday evening as results came in at County Registrar Carol Tobin’s office in the Warren County Government Center. As the final Fork District precinct results showed a sweep from office of a mayor and half a council he has worked with since the last millennium, Anzolut was asked for a comment.

“I don’t have anything to do with the election - I’m not running for anything, why would you want to quote me?” the town manager said with a good-natured smile.

Could election impact Wal-Mart rezoning?

The Warren Sentinel

There was little dispute that the Front Royal Town Council’s 2003 rezoning of the 121-acre Richards Estate to accommodate a socalled Wal-Mart “supercenter” weighed heavily on the public consciousness in yesterday’s town election.

But exactly how that weight was distributed over yesterday’s result and it’s implication on that rezoning’s future are much less clear.

Mayor-elect Jim Eastham and the three council challengers who displaced incumbents yesterday all expressed firm opposition to the Wal-Mart rezoning during the campaign.

Mayor Robert L. Tennett Jr. and incumbents E.D. “Dusty” McIntosh and Hollis Tharpe all supported the Wal-Mart rezoning while recused councilman Eugene Tewalt stood by his recusals and presence to facilitate a council vote on the matter.

Were those the deciding factors in the election?

“Absolutely, it played a strong part in the election,” second place council finisher Tim Darr said.

“Not with that close a vote - no!” top incumbent vote getter Hollis Tharpe said in disagreement. Tharpe’s 990 votes were 114 shy of thirdplace finish and reelection.

“I don’t think it was a one issue election - there were a lot of things involved in that one issue,” first-place council vote getter and former mayor Stan Brooks said of the Wal-Mart rezoning. “Such things as communicating with the public and being open minded, asking such things as how does this affect the Riverton community? So what I think the election was saying is that Front Royal believes in thinking about and planning its growth and not letting growth just happen to it.

“I think people accept that growth will come but they also want to be left with a community that is liveable,” Brooks concluded.

“As for Wal-Mart, we [the election winners] all see a need to have a Wal-Mart in the community if we are ever going to become a regional shopping center,” Mayor-elect Jim Eastham said. “But that site is not the best place for it. Their initial site north of Shenandoah Motors would be fine because it has the roads and infrastructure to support [such] a store now.

“I look forward to working with the new council in creating a new vision for the future, and charting a course to get us there,” Eastham concluded.

“The community has spoken and together we can move on,” Brooks added.

Was their election a mandate for a revisiting of the Richard’s Estate rezoning?

“Yes! But I think the bigger mandate is about future growth,” Eileen Grady said Tuesday. Reminded that legal challenges to the current council’s rezoning decision scheduled to be heard in a 26th District Circuit Court in September still made Wal-Mart a “future” proposition for this community, Grady paused and added that if it is a legal option for council to revisit the rezoning, “I’d vote no [on the rezoning]. I don’t have a problem with that.”

“I don’t know - it’s a tough question,” Tim Darr added.

Posted by tino at 17:57 6.05.04
Monday 03 May 2004

Neologism: Extreme Dummy

I propose the following term: Extreme Dummy.

Dummy here is used as it’s used by the publishers of the Dummies books. They’re not really suggesting that their customers are stupid; it’s just that while you might know something about, say, high finance, you can still be totally clueless — a ‘dummy’ — about other things.

Everyone’s a dummy about most things, and the Dummies series fills a real need: most books about a given topic assume a certain familiarity or even expertise with the material, and until the rise of the Dummies phenomenon, the novice had the choice of following a course of expensive and lengthy formal training, or of jumping into the topic in medias res and struggling for a while until he figured out what was going on.

The Dummies books provide a good introduction to a now vast number of topics, giving the reader the necessary background to be able to evaluate other books, formulate Google searches, etc. in order to learn more.

An Extreme DummyXD for short — is someone who cannot or will not be helped by the Dummies books or by other methods of foundational instruction in a given field. The Platonic XD reads the Dummies book on a given topic and is just as helpless afterwards as before. Extreme Dummies are usually people who have concluded that they don’t understand a thing because understanding is impossible, and so no amount of education or training will make any difference.

Posted by tino at 13:10 3.05.04