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The Dilbert Deception

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Yeah, I love Dilbert. I think just about everyone who has to work for a living does, with the exception of Tom Peters, who thinks he's breeding cynicism, and certain humorless left-wing economist types, who think he's a tool for the establishment. (But do any of them actually WORK for a living...?) But... what if they're right? One of the nice things about my secret identity - mild-mannered bookstore boi - is getting my hands on the joy known as Advance Readers Copies. These are the 'proofs' of books that are sent around, prior to publication, so that people like me can read them, get excited and recommend them to customers when they come in. Sometimes I read good things, sometimes I bust the Rule of 50 and fling the book after 5. Sometimes I get a sneak preview of cool stuff that I can then turn around and hand-sell to others, as planned. And sometimes I find out something really interesting before other people do. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has a new non-Dilbert book due out this October: "Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! (Or) Cartoonist Ignores Helpful Advice". I'm about 38 pages into it, and may keep reading if the humor improves. (Adams' true talent is turning workplace stupidity into comedy gold through cartoons, but his pure prose humor isn't nearly as funny). But it's on pg 3 that we discover something... interesting as he's recounting his personal success stories, in order to make the case for doing the book everyone's told him he shouldn't write. "Several years ago I was approached by some advisers for people in high places. I can't give you the details of this story, or even tell you why I can't give you the details. But the gist of it was that they needed help squelching some bad ideas that had taken hold in the public consciousness. They thought humor might be one part of the solution, and they were Dilbert fans, so they tracked me down." Apparently, the "bad ideas sounded terrific to the uninformed person," rendering easy negation impossible, since any credible counterargument would have to rely on logic and an overly-complicated explanation. So Scott Adams - trained hypnotist - "suggested a few cleverly designed, hypnosis-inspired phrases that were the linguistic equivalent of kung fu. "They were simple (that's my specialty), and once you heard those phrases, they made any competing ideas seem frankly stupid. ... The people in high places tried my phrases. The phrases became world headlines the next day. I could tune the TV to any news channel and hear the words coming out of pundits' mouths." And, according to Mr. Adams, the phrases "smothered" the bad idea. Now, if he can't talk about it, and can't even say WHY he can't talk about it, I'm thinking that's Federal, and probably National Security. And given the nonsense we've had to endure, courtesy of W and his gang, you can understand why I'm kind of concerned. He doesn't give a time table, except that this happened "several" years ago. And since Dilbert's been published since 1989, that could mean it was sometime during the 90's, and Clinton's era, rather than W's time in office. But I have a hard time imagining Clinton's advisers seeking out humor help from Dilbert's creator. (I can't even think of a bad idea they would have needed help squelching from that era - at least one they were ABLE to squelch.) So, provided this isn't some joke on his part, I'm wondering what kind of funny - or not so funny - comeback the Bush-league pundits have dropped on us over the last few years that might have had its genesis in Scott Adams? Did he let them use his powers for evil? Or did he actually do the right thing and ally himself with Bushco on one of the few things they did right? This may lump me in with the "self-important, humorless, autofellating ass hats" that make up Mr. Adams' critics (according to him) but I don't know if I'll ever look at a Dilbert cartoon the same way again until I have unraveled this mystery.
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J. Edward Tremlett is a lot of things, currently. He's back in the states after a seven-year stint in Dubai, UAE. He's been published in such diverse places as The American Partisan, the International American, The End is Nigh, Pyramid Magazine (more...)

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