11 September 2011


Reading Diary: A Planet Full of Doofuses by Bob Wallace

This book is a mish mash. But then, the inside of my head is sometimes a mish mash (I occasionally say, "Now where was I going with this . . . ?")

There is some humor here, specifically satire; some little plays, some fiction, some serious stuff. There's even a cartoon. If you like all of it, or some of it, that's good. If you don't and instead froth and get outraged (and I've seen a lot of that) . . . well, I can’t please everyone. Not that I want to.

A word . . . about where the ideas for these articles came from. I don't know. They just popped in my head, sometimes whole. Sometimes they seem to write themselves. It’s mystifying.

I hope you enjoy reading them. I enjoyed writing them. Well, mostly.

I "met" Bob Wallace almost eleven years ago, when I e-mailed him about something he had written that I didn't agree with. Today, there are few things he has written in which I can't find something to agree with. Take one of his articles (not included in this anthology, unfortunately) with his thoughts on education, in which he says . . .

The best way to teach any kid is by being a mentor. The mentor sits at one end of a log and the student at the other. If the student messes up the teacher just bounces him in the air. I'm just kidding about that, but I'm not kidding about sitting on the log.

Every time you read something by "UncleBob," you're the student, he's the mentor, and he's probably bouncing you on some log.

The "syllabus" is always a mixed bag--or as he might say, a mishmash.

There are essays here on topics as diverse as propaganda (how it works), Greek mythology (why it's still worth reading) and the Rapture (how it would play out in an ideal cosmos)--but my favourites are those about the school system.

When I was 12 or 13 I sneaked into my file at school and saw a special notation: "IQ 126." No genius, but an IQ of 125 is the mean average for doctors and Ph.D.s. Even now I remember the surprise I felt: I had no idea I was so smart. Not a clue. After all, hadn't all my grade-school teachers put comments on my report cards about what a bad student I was?

Of course, every teacher and administrator in my entire school career completely dropped the ball in my case . . . In their minds, a high IQ automatically meant good grades. Not once in my entire public school career did any teacher ask, "Why is someone so smart doing so poorly in school? Is there something wrong?"

(How Science Fiction Saved Me from Hell--I Mean, Junior High School)

Clearly, someone's twelve-year-old self could have used his own mentor with a log! ;-) If you like SF or had your own reading-fueled imaginative life that got you through school, you'll be able to relate.

Because of the way American life has evolved (in large part due to the interference of the State), there was no place for most teenagers when I was growing up, in society or the family. It's no different today. Teenagers have been marginalized for a long time, including in the family, even if it's not purposely done. Lots of teenager's lives don't have much purpose or meaning, even in their families. There is no true sense of community . . . When I was in high school, we formed our own little communities. The same thing happens today.
(Meaningless High School)

Hundreds of young people meeting in the same place, five times a week, eight hours a day, for the better part of the year, and yet there is no sense of community. Yes, that was my high school as well. (Yours, too?)

What I found so interesting about this essay, however, is that it makes the modern family shoulder half the blame for the meaninglessness teenagers feel in their lives. Wallace quotes the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gassett, who wrote: "People do not live together merely to be together. They live together to do something together."

Those of you who live with a family: what is it that you all do together? What is the work that holds you together?

All in all, I'd say I'm happy I received this book for review. And because I heard from another self-published writer that all promotion is meaningless unless it includes a link to the page where one can order his book, I am going to include my first commercial link here:

I like Bob. He's cool. The ebook is a bargain.

Image Source: A Planet Full of Doofuses by Bob Wallace


The Mike said...

Can I just say that I fistpumped when I saw there was a new Shredded Cheddar post just now? To paraphrase a great pun - Seven days without Shredded Cheddar makes one weak. :)

On the school/community topic - I was home at my high school the other night for a football game with the family. One of the women sitting near me and talking to my grandmother was a teacher when I was in school. She asked if I was in her class or another...and I honestly couldn't remember. She made a joke about how she was just so not memorable, but I replied with the truth: it wasn't her...I didn't remember school. I didn't remember the people at all....probably because I was thinking about football. :0

The Mike said...

And this comment is just because I forgot to subscribe to follow-ups first time. Oops.

Belfry Bat said...

I wish there were more sitting-logs around here... although I can't think of a single tree I'd want to convert.

Well, there's the tree that pulled down our electric cable, but it's all in bits now. Tiny bits.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, The Mike! =D You always know what to say to make my day.

I probably won't be blogging here as regularly as I used to do, but I'm going to try to have two to three posts a week from now on. (*whisper* I'm also thinking of making this more of a movie blog than a book blog. But don't tell anyone yet!)

You're a perfect example of what Bob Wallace was talking about in that essay, The Mike. You're a pretty smart guy and have a good way with words. If school wasn't as memorable for you as an average movie watching experience, then the problem lay in school and not in you.

Enbrethiliel said...


Chopped it up yourself, Bat? ;-)

Honestly, I'm not much of a log person. Give me a good, civilised bench any day. But I'm just girly like that. =P

Syrin said...

Kindle version ordered!

My high school tried to claim repeatedly that we were all a family, but I definitely never found that to be the case. The girls I hung out with formed a very tightly knit community, but we were basically considered nonexistent to everyone else. And to be fair, I'm sure there were other groups we took no notice of ourselves.

The idea that the family is partially to blame is an interesting one, and I'll definitely have to read it before I can say it is right or wrong. To me, being a teenager at home was about slowly achieving more and more freedoms and being given responsibilities I didn't previously have, which is definitely not meaningless.

Enbrethiliel said...


Wow! I got someone to buy a book! =D Thanks for the compliment.

I guess I'm also mostly projecting what I see in my own family. My mother has the kind of laissez-faire parenting style that is best in the country where kids can ramble in the hills, and worst in the city where kids can end up watching TV all day. My younger brothers could use a little more guidance--and a lot more responsibility!

antiaphrodite said...

Seven days without Shredded Cheddar makes one weak.

I...I can't even...

*brain implodes*

Enbrethiliel said...


It's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my blogging.

(Oh, dear. Did your brain implode again? LOL!)

antiaphrodite said...

*brain implodes again*

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I came over on a recommendation to check out your blog and so glad that I did. I enjoyed reading this review, if for no other reason than the mental image I will forever have now on your mention of bouncing someone on a log....LOL

Bob Wallace said...

Some people are not going to be pleased by a lot of things in the book...I am not PC in the slightest. Just warning people.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- Thanks! I'm glad you liked this review. =) I'm returning the visit to your blog as soon as I hit "Publish"!

Bob -- Please note that at least one person bought your book because of my review. You're so welcome! ;-)