By Dave Barry, Crown Publishers, 0-517-58546-4

[p127] People often become deranged by pets. Derangement is the only possible explanation for owning a cat, an animial whose preferred mode of communication is to sink its claws three-quarters of an inch into your flesh.

[p147] The taxpayers also cannot be relied upon to support performing arts usch as opera. As a taxpayer, I am forced to admit I would rather undergo a vasectomy via a Weed Whacker that attend an opera.

[p167] The First Rule of Car Buying is one that I learned long ago from my father, namely: Never buy any car that my father would buy. […] For example, my father was one of a very few Americans who bought he Hillman Minx, a wart-shaped British car with the same rakish, sporty appeal as a municipal parking garage but not as much pickup. Our minx also had a Surprise Option Feature whereby the steering mechanism would disconnect itself at random moments, so you’d suddenly discover that you could spin the weheel all the way around in a playful circle without having any effect whatsoever on the front wheels. Ha ha! You can imagine how I felt, as an insecure 16-year-old with skin capable of going from All-Clear Status to Fully Mature Zit in seconds, arriving at the big high school pep rally dance, where all the coll guys had their Thunderbirds and their GTOs with their giant engines and 23 carburetors, and there I was, at the wheel of: the Hillman Minx. A car so technologically backward that the radio was still receiving Winston Churchill speeches.

[p175] [Dave Barry appearing in night court for a traffic violation.] Only there was no judge. They herded us traffic violators into a courtroom with flags and a judge’s bench and everything, but instead of an actual human, they had a judge on_videotape. Really. I could have just stayed home and rented the American system of justice.

[p184] Some of you [alert readers] had excellent ideas for increasing government revenue, such as:[…] o “Fine people $50,000 for each unnecessary education-related letter attached at the end of their names. For example, ‘Robert H. Monotone, B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D.’ would be fined $400,000 annually.”

[p208] Ultimately, however, anger benefits nobody. If you keep it bottled up inside, it eats away at you, until eventually you turn into a bitter, spiteful, hate-ridden person working in Customer Service.

[p257] One of the gerat benefits of living in America is that, regardless of your race or religion or hygiene habits, you are entitled to have a credit rating maintained by large corporations with powerful computers that know everything_about_you. For example, let’s say that this morning you deposity your paycheck at the bank, made a phone call, wrote a check for your electric bill, and charged some gasoline with your credit card. By this afternoon, thanks to high-speed laser fiber-optic data transmission, the computers will know every_sexual-fantasy_you_had while you were doing these things. And don’t think they keep to themselves, either. They go to computer parties, they have a few too many diskettes, and the next thing you know they’re revealing your intimate secrets at a rate of four billion per second.

That’s why I was so excited about this offer from my credit-card company to sell me the TRW CREDENTIALS service. TRW is a large company that collects credit information about people and sells it. According to the TRW CREDENTIALS offer, if I give theme $20 a year, they’ll let me see my information.[…]

In other words–correct me if I am wrong here–they’re telling me that I should give them $20 a year so I can look at the information ABOUT ME that they have collected WITHOUT MY PERMISSION and have been selling for years to GOD ALONE KNOWS WHO so I can see if it’s INCORRECT.

Which it very well could be. Because even with computers, things sometimes go wrong. I know you find this hard to believe, inasmuch as we live in such a competent nation, a nation capable of producing technological wonders such as the Hubble Orbiting Space Telescope, the only orbiting telescope in the universe equipeed with dark glasses and a cane. But sometimes mistakes do get made, and they could affect your credit.[…]

However, I don’t like to do business with an outfit unless I know something about it. So I’ve decided to develop a file on TRW. I’d certainly appreciate anything you can contribute. But I don’t want any wild speculative unfounded rumers, such as: o TRW is the world’s largest distributor of hard-core pornography. o TRW has destroyed two-thirds of the Earth’s ozone layer. o TRW is a satanic vampire cult headed by the love chiled of Jim Bakker and Leana Helmsley.

There is no need to run the rist that absurd statements such as these might get into print. In fact, it would probably be a wised idea for TRW to examine my file, from time to time, just to make sure nothing_inaccurate appeared in there.

I’m sure we can work something out.