The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Saturday, August 19, 2006

SPECIALIZATION AND THE MODERN WORLD: Our modern age is one of ever increasing specialization, as the demands of an ever-growing information society require more and more expertise in ever-smaller fields of knowledge. No one, for example, really understands what computers are all about except techies and eight year olds, and there is no point talking to a techie; not only will you not understand what the hell they are talking about, but they almost always smell of stale Cheese Doodles, which is a bit nauseating, to put it mildly. With an eight year old things are different; not only can you understand what they are saying, but you can get them to work for ice cream, which is invariably cheaper than paying a techie’s salary, and if they prove especially recalcitrant you can always threaten to call their mothers and get them into trouble. The sight of a computer ignorant horde of adults putting the screws to a small child is not an edifying sight, to be sure, but sometimes we must do what we must do. Adults need someone who knows this stuff and for the majority of adults in this country today, computers are an awful lot like our cars—we can make them work, but we are more or less clueless about why they work.

Our society’s ever expanding need for specialization, an oxymoron if ever there was one, has even manifested itself in the egregious mold pit wherein I labor day in and day out for my daily bread. Librarians are not merely librarians anymore. No indeed, today there are map librarians, serials librarians, reference librarians (my own not very remunerative field of endeavor), children’s librarians, cybrarians, information specialists, school library media specialists, and a host of other exotics who spend their working lives trying to organize the ever swelling flood of information now threatening the nation’s already fairly limited attention span. Given this pullulating list of librarian specialization, it is surprising, or at least I find it surprising, that there is no one in the field of information science who spends a lot of time and energy thinking about the problem of the hydrodynamic turd and its role in the modern American public library.

I must admit here that I did not know that hydrodynamic excreta was a problem in the modern American public library until yesterday, but you do live and learn, don’t you? In any case, I first learned of this problem from a man of indeterminate mental stability who had locked himself in our men’s room and had flushed the toilet no fewer than 72 times in an apparently endless effort to send the aforementioned excreta on its way to the municipal sewage treatment plant. This, he yelled over the transom, was not possible, given the near perfect hydrodynamic shape of his ordure, which caused said ordure to merely spin around in the bowl like a rookie just up from the minors trying to hit a knuckleball and prevented the excreta from disappearing from public view with the tactful alacrity we all find so endearing about modern American plumbing. It goes without saying, however, that you will not find any studies in the professional literature on this subject, just as there are be no courses taught in MLS or MLIS programs on how to deal with the problem of hydrodynamic stools anywhere in this our Great Republic.

In fact, you would find, should you ever bother to look, that the information science curricula of almost any graduate school you care to mention does not prepare you for a great many things, almost all of which seem to occur in rooms with a great deal of plumbing. There is, for example, the aforementioned torpedo shaped turd that wouldn’t go down the drain, and then there is the problem of what to do with a cadaver in a public bathroom, should you ever be so lucky as to find one there; as I have mentioned here before, I had to figure that one out on my own. Clearly, the benefit of having a cadaver on the men’s room floor is that, unlike an overflowing toilet, the cadaver does not drive up the library’s water bill nor does the staff learn of the cadaver’s presence when some kid tracks a vile admixture of water and human waste out onto the freshly shampooed carpet in the main reading room. This is on the plus side of the ledger. The disadvantage to having a cadaver on the men’s room floor, of course, is that cadavers do not, as a rule, keep well in restrooms or in any room without refrigeration, as you probably know, and that library patrons tend to find a cadaver in the men's room a bit unnerving, if not an actual distraction from the business at hand. This reluctance is somewhat hard to explain, since your average cadaver, assuming it shares the somewhat enervated inertia common to most cadavers these days, will hardly pound on the stall door while you are trying to evacuate a particularly reluctant stool and ask you to please hurry up, he has to go, too, the he in this case having already gone in a larger and more existential sense.

And yet this is the sort of thing one must expect in a society that requires ever-greater levels of specialization from its work force, and whose fault is this, really? Hardly the workers themselves, who must constantly re-equip themselves with new skills lest their employers send their jobs to China or India. No, it is not the fault of the workers, nor is it the fault of their employers, who must struggle to keep up with a global market of infinite complexity and competitiveness, so whose fault is it? Frankly, I blame the Jews.

Now, you maybe asking yourself, why the Jews? Why them and not, say, Eskimos or the Amish? Well, consider the years of experience they’ve had as scapegoats. We’re talking about literally centuries of having to take it in the neck for someone else’s complete lack of religious and economic understanding. This means that we are talking about a highly trained, completely professional group of scapegoats here, not some bunch of amateurs who saw your ad in the classified section of the Village Voice, stuck between the ads for unfurnished apartments for rent, transsexual dominatrixes, and all those Korean bordellos in the West 30’s, and are willing to try anything at least once. Jews are on the job and ready for scapegoating when you need them, so you are not at the mercy of some fly by night scapegoat who’s just in it for the cheap thrills and the money and who will disappear at the end of the week with all of your rubber bands and paper clips in order to set up himself up in the life insurance business. So remember, if your company needs a good scapegoat, don’t settle for the second rate; get the best scapegoats money can buy. Remember, get Jews.*

(*This message has been a paid advertisement brought to you by Mel-Mahmoud Enterprises. Mel-Mahmoud Enterprises, provider of the world’s best scapegoats for at least the two or so weeks; you’d have to check with the LAPD about the chronology, but hurry: I’m pretty sure Mel doesn’t like Mahmoud very much and I know that Mahmoud returns the sentiment. So get in on this outstanding offer while they are still talking to one another. Call now—operators are standing by! Check or credit cards only, please; no cash or C.O.D.s allowed. Offer void where prohibited by law.)
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