Anyone who browses through book stores is likely to run across those "Complete Idiot Guides." But lately, those folks who publish these books have gotten a bit out of context.

Initially, the "Complete Idiot Guide" was to help us folks who couldn't speak technease or in some cases were just plain inept at what others view as very simple tasks.

There were selections like "The Idiot's Guide to Computers." This basically was to teach you that this thing would not bite you and you did not have to sacrifice your first born to install a program in one. And the reason we had to have "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computers" was because the people who wrote the instruction manuals were greatly offended by words like "the green thingamajig" and the "oblong whatusit."

Now there is a directory of "Complete Idiot Guide" books. And someone indeed has gotten out of bounds.

For instance, there's one called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fibromyalgia."

Hey folks, if this suggests that we should all have a walking-around knowledge of fibromyalgia, then 95 percent of this nation is remedial.

Fibromyalgia, which is a debilitating disease, just doesn't come up in conversation a lot. I don't even recall it being a word at a spelling bee. And spelling bees can call on words that may have been used only a dozen times during the entire course of human events.

Now I appreciate that six million people suffer from this disease. I think a book titled "Understanding Fibromayalgia" suffices.

Then we have the "The Complete Idiot's Guide to American Government." Now there's a cart-before-the-horse conglomeration of thought. It's the "idiots in government" that we need a guide to -- you know, those who spend millions of dollars developing a Thermos jug that will withstand the crash of a Boeing 747, an endeavor that completely discounts the fact that after the crash not many people will be sitting around drinking coffee.

Then comes "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy."

Everyone has a philosophy whether spoken, written or expressed in other fashions while tearing the labels off beer bottles. The predominant question in philosophy is "who am I and what I am I doing here?" I understand it came up a lot in Vietnam.

Philosophy can run as deep as looking at the stars and considering the possibility that we are not alone and as shallow as contemplating the fuzz in one's navel and wondering how many T-shirts have actually disappeared there. Memorize the names Aristotle, Plato and Socrates and you're good to go.

Again philosophy is not all deep stuff. Some of it is just perspective. Does one view life as getting bald or growing more face?

To have great socially redeeming value, I think whoever is in charge of all this needs to get us back to more valid "Complete Idiot Guides." This could include "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baking Cathead Biscuits." I've known many people who said they only served rolls because they just couldn't make good biscuits from scratch. Now I would not extend this particular thought to dumplings because I think there's an art to that and a "Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Dumplings" would also be out of context.

And how about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Tea?" Over the years, I've heard many people say they simply could not make good ice tea. I'm not suggesting that world peace hangs in the balance on this small point, but keep in mind that the old Soviet Bloc was always very cantankerous with us and at the same time they had an incredible shortage of toilet paper. Maybe it's just an uncanny parallel or maybe small things do impact great complexities. Could it be a geo-political subtlety that they are always trying to make softer toilet paper?

Oops! I'm getting into philosophy. Better stop it here and move on into art. My wife is making chicken and dumplings for supper.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer. E-mail:

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