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THEORETICAL QUANTUM PHYSICS FOR DUMMIES

I ordered one of those For Dummies books to help me record music on my computer easier. While perusing the topics on the official Dummies.Com website I couldn't help but notice that some of the subject matter covered by the For Dummies books looks kind of complicated. "Business Consulting For Dummies" struck me as rather odd. Why would anyone hire an outside consultant for his business who learned his trade from one of these big yellow books with cartoons in them? Maybe if the business owner in question learned his skills by reading "Business Intelligence For Dummies." Just don't look for that business on the Fortune 500 list anytime soon.

In my own case I happen to know quite a bit about recording music but not all that much about the ins and outs of computers. Fortunately for me my son Rob is a computer whiz, even has a degree in Computer Graphics. He's pretty patient with me when he teaches me something new on the computer and I commend him for not rolling his eyes when explaining the obvious to his tech-challenged old man. I suppose he's matured from the days when he had to program my VCR for me. I caught no end of grief over that technical shortcoming. Thanks, pal.

My other son, Mike, is also a musician and like me not such a whiz with computers. No doubt I'll be sharing my Garage Band For Dummies book with him. Unfortunately for Mike and myself (but very fortunate for him) Rob has a life and a pretty wife and a living to earn and the whole nine so he can't really be at our beck and call whenever one of us runs into a computer glitch. He's very generous with his time for his family but I try not to cry wolf too much and solve the minor things on my own. Hence, my Dummies Book.

It also strikes me that I've been working on a computer for years and years now and it bothers me that I haven't made myself the master of these machines. A long learning curve like his would have been fatal to myself and any number of others if computers were, say, cars. Rob assures me that even though he makes his living on computers that he's always learning something new, sort of like a doctor who has to learn about all those pesky diseases and new treatment techniques that have sprung up since he graduated from Medical School. That makes me feel somewhat better and less of a Dummy, but hey, I'm the one who's a musician and had to order the For Dummies book to help me record my music, not him.

I am after all a man, and computers are machines, dammit, and a man needs to know he's in charge of the damned machines, period. I wouldn't take this crap from my car or my power tools, who know who's the boss. I don't let any of the household appliances push me around either. They know I'll just take them apart and fix them or at least mess with their innards and then call a repairman in to finish the job. The computer on the other hand knows it's holding all the picture cards and I won't go near it with my wrenches, screwdrivers and hammers. It knows I'm just going to call Rob, who will then instruct me to push a series of keys in precise order before the computer will grant me my wish. The computer still rolls its eyes at me all the time.

The whole man/machine dynamic is changing here and makes me feel less like a man, and more of a hu-man I suppose, and maybe that's a good thing. I suspect all the other machines in my life breathe a little easier now knowing I'm not the undisputed lord and master of every machine I own and operate anymore. They're also not as subject as they used be to a random overhaul by me, especially since more and more of them are computer-based or at least have a chip or two in there somewhere. Ball peen hammers and open-end wrenches have little or no effect on such things outside of wrecking them completely. Without going into embarrassing particulars, take it from me, I know.

Anyway, there I am online perusing the many For Dummies titles in amazement. There's even a medical section and one title that blew my mind is "Multiple Sclerosis For Dummies." Here's hoping that those afflicted with that terrible disease aren't seeing a doctor who caught up on their disease with this book, or worse, are trying to treat themselves. And here's hoping they don't publish a "Heating Your Home With A Nuclear Reactor For Dummies" anytime soon. Or "Eye Surgery For Dummies." One suspects that our leader Bush the Younger learned everything he knows from "Presidenting For Dummies." So far, so good, no?

Maybe he didn't go far enough in the Dummies.com Catalogue. There's also "The Bill of Rights For Dummies," "Speaking in Public For Dummies," "3rd Grade English Grammar For Dummies" and "Follow-Up Plan to Military Victory For Dummies." Reliable reports tell us that Bush the Younger instead concentrated on "Brush Clearing For Dummies" and "Giving Dopey Nicknames For Dummies." Hell of a job, Brownie! Maybe the good people at For Dummies Publishing can knock one off called "Admitting I Blew It Big Time For Dummies" for when Bush the Younger is finished Presidenting.

Or they can help our troubled young celebrities with "Blonde Bimboing For Dummies" or "Drunken Driving For Celebrity Dummies." They already have some For Dummies books explaining the use of cell phones and blackberries so maybe instructing famous people to install the phone number of a cab company in their speed dial function when they have consumed a bathtub full of champagne to bring them down from the half-ounce of cocaine they just ingested might be an informative and helpful learning tool. Failing that, there's always "Public Rehab For Dummies," "Defense Lawyering For Dummies" and "Talk Show Confessional For Dummies" when they need to repair what is left of their reputations.

And what about the rest of us, the non-presidential, distinctly not famous people who live in this great (and apparently very easily explained) land of ours? How about "Locating Your Universal Remote Control For Dummies?" And who wouldn't benefit from "Mental Therapy on TV For Dummies," a definitive analysis and comparison of Oprah, Dr. Phil and their many life-coach TV pal colleagues. Follow that one up with a weekly guide mailed to our homes called "What You're Supposed To Believe This Week For Dummies" to help us figure out what what we ought to be all up in ams about after watching Bill O'Rightly.

Sometimes that stuff changes pretty quick and you don't want to be caught off guard believing some simple truth that is old hat, like the importance of human decency and understanding in international affairs or the concept of letting your neighbors live their lives and raise their children according to each their own conscience. Everybody knows that stuff is so yesterday but we find ourselves confused as to what to latch onto this week as a set of grounding principles.

Much to our chagrin these basic values are not as timeless as we'd been led to believe. This is a modern world, we're told, and beliefs and truths must adapt an change as swiftly as the technology so we need to get with the program, or abandon the program and latch on to another immediately, whatever the case may be. Sign me up. I'm older now and get confused sometimes with swift change. It's always nicer when someone explains things. This way we Dummies all know what's expected of us.

And who knew they'd be publishing a book called "Doing Business in India For Dummies" that was apparently a best-seller in corporate boardroom circles? who knew there'd be a chapter about shipping the whole kit and kaboodle over there and firing your fellow countrymen who had made you such a bang-up success in the first place? Live and learn, eh?

So that leaves an opening for "Surviving on Minimum Wage For Dummies" or "Decoding Tech Support Calls to Some Guy in India Insisting His Name is William When He Can't Even Pronounce William For Dummies." I think these For Dummies people are not so dumb after all. They've got their finger on the pulse of Dummy Nation and to prove it they cancelled publication of "Evolution For Dummies" and will instead release "Intelligent Design For Dummies" and let others worry about the odd title, figuring that Dummies consider irony the act of taking wrinkles out of clothes.

At any rate, this Dummy just received word from the internet company where I purchased the book that indeed they shipped it, figuring a Dummy likes me needs a slow and careful explanation of how Fed-Ex operates. This gives me an uneasy feeling I'm heading down a road with no U-turns allowed, like just like visiting a website called DUMMIES.COM makes me wish they called their books something else. Books for Lay People just isn't that catchy, I suppose, nor is Topics Easily Explained Books. I just hope for an extra couple of bucks I can get a plain brown wrapper so people will think I'm a fan of hardcore pornography rather than a Dummy.

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