From the Publisher
The New York Times Magazine
From: The New York Times Magazine
Questions for Cameron Tuttle, the author of The Paranoid's Pocket Guide
You recommend "niche worrying." What is it?
A: Niche worrying is a means of conveniently organizing one's paranoia. It's concentrating at an appropriate time, like focussing on getting Legionnaires' disease from inhaling steam containing Legionella pneumophila bacteria while taking a shower at the gym.
Q: What are your sources?
A: Television, newspaper and the Centers for Disease Control. And ads like those for the Club, possibly the world's most paranoid product. Advertising, after all, preys off our collective paranoia to sell "cures" and "protection."
Q: Is paranoia healthy?
A: I believe so. Think about what adds up to paranoia: information plus imagination. In my book, I include a factoid on insurance policies offering coverage for destruction by satellite. Only an active and alert mind will draw the conclusion that their property is in actual danger. Paranoia is proof that one is aware.
By Jack Harris
A gimmick book, "to help you worry more efficiently." If you have a propensity to worry a lot, this collection of factoids might lend some credence to your condition. It is arranged in short paragraphs and lists with comments in the margins. "The IRS has more employees than the FBI or any other law enforcement agency" then "What are they really doing?" as an aside. A good question, one that has occurred to most of us without the benefit of this guide.
Along the bottom of each page is a sort of first person worry-wart stream of consciousness rant running a spectrum of concerns from the mundane (did I leave the iron on?) to the exotic (there's a tapeworm inside of me) the truly paranoid (angry adolescent spitting in my fast-food) to the self-fulfilling prophesy (I'll be left at the altar). With this attitude, you will lose sleep (the paranoids are out to get me).
Some of the blurbs are eye-opening. "According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 13% of the commercial airline pilots tested positive for alcohol or drugs while on duty," Others are obvious, "Thirty-four percent of hunting deaths and injuries are self-inflicted." Nowhere in this book are the sources documented or footnoted which is what dooms it to the novelty category.
It might go well if the person could flip through a few pages for a baffled grin. One with slower bowels could conceivably push through the whole book in a sitting, with the caution: "One in 6,500 Americans will be injured by a toilet seat during their lifetime. Most will be men."
Paranoia is proof that one is aware. New York Times Magazine
Read an Excerpt
FRIGHT * BITE!
One in 6,500 Americans will be injured by a toilet seat during their lifetime. Most will be men.
Who else has the keys to your car?
A remote keyless entry device lets you unlock your car door at a distance with the click of a button, but someone with a receiver can pick up the signal your keyless remote sends, record it, and resen it later to unlock your car.
Why haven't you been contacted?
Some 3.7 million Americans claim to have been abducted by aliens. Most found it a positive experience.
FRIGHT * BITE!
If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die.
Bottled at the source of what?
Nearly a third of all bottled drinking water purchased in the United States is contaminated with bacteria.
FRIGHT * BITE!
One in six adults has agreed to sex because they were just too embarrassed to say no.
CHEMICAL PEELS AND NASAL SAWS
(Excerpted from the program of a recent World Congress on Cosmetic Surgical Rejuvenation of the Face, Body, and Extremities, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
11:30 a.m. "Use of Cheek Neck Flap in Facial
11:45 a.m. "Removal of EyelinerPigmentation
with an Argon Laser"
1:30 p.m. "An Alternative Method for the Nasal
Osteotomy Utilizing the Dual Plane
Reciprocating Nasal Saw Blade"
2:15 p.m. Workshop: "How to Prevent a
6:00 p.m. Cocktail Party, Grand Ballroom
Good news, bad news.
Women are more than twice as likely to climax during intercourse if their partner has extremely symmetrical features. Men with extremely symmetrical features are less attentive to their partners and more inclined to cheat on them.
A new generation of germs.
Deadly new germs are emerging around the world at a startling rate. Equine morbilli virus, which causes a potentially fatal respiratory illness, was discovered in Australia in 1994; blood banks do not yet screen for recently discovered hepatitis G.; and Bartonella, a bacteria discovered in 1990, can cause illnesses ranging from cat scratch fever to fatal heart-valve infections. Humans are exposed to this germ from cats carrying infected fleas. Medical researchers are baffled and expect to see many more unknown mysterious diseases.
Make mine well done.
Only a few years ago, cooking hamburgers at 140 degrees Fahrenheit was enough to kill most harmful bacteria in the meat. But now burgers must be cooked at 155 degrees for at least 15 seconds to destroy Escherichia coli O157:H7, an emerging, deadly strain of bacteria.
FRIGHT * BITE!
Each year, you face a 1 in 13 chance of suffering an accident in your home serious enough to require medical attention.
Live longer, childless.
A Harvard Medical School study suggests that women who drink at least two cups of coffee a day are less likely to commit suicide or get into fatal automobile accidents. Other studies indicate that CAFFEINE impairs a woman's fertility.
Are you suffering an
to reach a toll-free hotline.
Operators are standing by
on weekdays between
9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Eastern time. At other
times, feel free to leave a
message and someone will
call you back on the next
Some things never change.
While a person's happiness fluctuates, everyone has a naturally set level for happiness much like body weight. So if you're generally an unhappy person, get used to it.
FRIGHT * BITE!
Draw-strings are a leading cause of fashion-related injuries.
Cheerleading now a hazardous contact sport.
Last year, nearly 16,000 cheerleaders required emergency-room treatment for injuries, including sprains, torn knee ligaments, skull fractures, and even paralysis. One of the most dangerous routinesthe Human Pyramidhas been banned in North Dakota and Minnesota schools.
FRIGHT * BITE!
By the year 2010, each person is expected to generate 1,774 pounds of solid waste per year.
When was the last time you talked to Grampa?
Spontaneous human combustion is most likely to happen during a period of strong magnetic disturbance. No one knows how or why a person seemingly ignites without any external fuel, leaving behind little more than a heap of ashes, an uncharred limb, and a pungent blue smoke hanging in the air, but many victims were wearing slippers at the time.
IS YOUR SON-IN-LAW REALLY DUCK HUNTING THIS WEEKEND?
There are paramilitary training sites for militia groups and private armies in 23 states.
In May 1995, an Aryan Nation member living in Ohio was arrested for buying three vials of frozen bubonic plague bacteria through the mail. Federal agents searched his house and found detonating fuses, hand-grenade triggers, and homemade explosive devices.
WHERE IS IT NOW?
In one year, over a ton of explosives, including dynamite, C-4 plastic explosives, ANFO, raw ammonium nitrate, and blasting caps has disappeared from commercial sites in Georgia, California, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Indiana.
GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE DO.
Weapons recently recovered from antigovernment extremist groups:
4. Uzi and SKS assault rifles
5. 9-mm machine guns
6. .50-caliber rifles
7. fully-automatic Mac-10 pistols
9. sawed-off shotguns
11. assault rifles with bayonets
12. freeze-dried bubonic plague bacteria
13. ricin, a biological poison
14. grenade launchers
15. dynamite and pipe bombs
16. blasting caps and detonators
18. machine gun and rifle components
19. automatic weapon conversion kits
20. armor-piercing ammunition
21. night-vision binoculars
22. body armor and gas masks
23. gas grenades and plastic handcuffs.
I forgot to lock my car. My frequent-flyer miles will expire before I can use them. I have a hole in my pocket and my money and keys will fall out. People will think I'm a tourist. The glue on envelopes is spreading a fatal disease. My neighbors hear everything that goes on in my bathroom. If I pluck a hair, it will grow back darker and coarser than before. I'll panic if I have to call 911 and I'll dial 411 by mistake. The dry cleaner smells my clothes. I'll spit out my gum in a winning lottery ticket. I'll arrive at the airport two hours before my flight on the wrong day. If I swallow a watermelon seed, a watermelon will grow in my stomach, I'll call in sick and run into my boss at a movie. I won't be able to remember to whom I lied and to whom I told the truth. I'll call a teacher "Mom" in front of the whole class. I'll buy 6,000 AAA batteries at a warehouse club just because