Last night, I was practically bored out of my mind and listlessly searching the Internet, when I decided to Google my Internet nickname. Sure enough, I found a list of places I’ve been on the Internet. But then I noticed an unusual hit– it was to Google Books. That was when I discovered that a fellow former Epinions reviewer and I were both quoted in what appears to be a scholarly book about the Middle East.
This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself quoted or linked somewhere interesting. For instance, some years ago, I found that someone had cited me in what appeared to be a college paper about Alyssa Milano’s charitable efforts. The person who wrote the paper had made some rather unflattering comments about me that I don’t think are really based in truth. However, having been a college student myself– albeit before there was Google– I can kind of understand what they did. They probably never thought I’d read what they wrote about me.
I don’t like to Google myself for that reason. I don’t want to know what strangers on the Internet think of me. I figure no good can come out of my looking for their opinions. I happened to find the Alyssa Milano paper by accident.
As for last night’s discovery, it was also purely by the accident of boredom. I was watching more Audit the Audit videos on YouTube, and noticed a thread on Facebook about obscure phrases people don’t use anymore. I mentioned the term “knothead”, which is what my parents used to call me. Just for fun, I looked it up online, and before I knew it, found myself adding the “usc” I’ve used as my Internet handle since around 1999 or so.
The book reference, made by someone named Silke Schmidt, PD Ph.D., was based on an old book review I wrote for the now defunct review site, Epinions.com. I was a “Top Reviewer” for books, music, and hotels & travel on Epinions, so I was a pretty prolific poster on the site. In those days, I reviewed all kinds of things, but mostly those things in my “hatted” categories– the ones where I had special designations and, therefore, made more money. And because I was a Top Reviewer for books, I read a lot of books– some of which I probably wouldn’t read today.
It seems that Dr. Schmidt found my Epinions review of a book called Howling in Mesopotamia by Haider Ala Hamoudi, which was about an American-Iraqi and the Iraq War. Ordinarily, I probably wouldn’t choose to read such a book, especially at the time at which I read that one. Google tells me I bought a physical copy of it in May 2008, which means I probably reviewed it soon afterward. We lived in Germany at the time, and I specifically remember reviewing it in our very first German house.
I don’t know anything about Silke Schmidt, and it appears that (she?) doesn’t know anything about me, as she refers to me with male pronouns in her book. I see she also quotes my Epinions colleague, Bryan Carey, who was a legend on Epinions because of the vast number of “very helpful” reviews he wrote on the site, and the money he made there. Schmidt misspells his name, which is natural enough, given that she doesn’t know him. In two footnotes, Schmidt explains:
If I recall correctly, I read Howling in Mesopotamia for a number of reasons, the first of which had to do with my Soldier husband spending time in Iraq. In 2008, Bill was still on active duty, and had been in Iraq the previous year. I also used to live in Armenia, which isn’t very far from Iraq. My time living in that region piqued my interest about the Middle East, although Armenia is a Christian nation that used to be part of the Soviet Union. It borders Iran and Turkey, and while Iraq isn’t a direct neighbor, it’s not far away at all.
In 2008, I was a lot more politically conservative than I am today, although I haven’t gone totally liberal. Today, I’m not sure I would have made the same comments about my impressions of Howling in Mesopotamia that I made in 2008. I also never dreamed my comments would be immortalized in a book. I’m not upset about it, though. It doesn’t look like that many people have read the book, anyway.
I guess if I were going to characterize how I feel about finding myself quoted by my Internet handle in a book about the Middle East, it would be “bemused”, “perplexed”, “surprised”… And I wonder why Schmidt didn’t leave a comment or send me an email asking for clarification before quoting my review. When I was on Epinions, it was easy to reach me by email, as it was listed right there on my member page. But then… I know that writers often work under deadlines, and academics are forever reading.
I see that Dr. Schmidt was born in 1983 and teaches at the University of Marburg. Schmidt’s book was written in 2014… and since Epinions died in February of that year and the vast majority of the reviews disappeared soon afterwards, it’s a lucky thing that Schmidt could even find the reviews quoted in the book. Most of them are now long gone from the Internet by now.
Well, color me amused that my review of a long forgotten book captured the attention of a German scholar, especially since I now live in the scholar’s homeland. I guess it just goes to show how everything a person does can affect someone else. You just never know who you’ll touch, or where you’ll touch them… 😉 I don’t remember my review of Howling in Mesopotamia as being one of my more successful reviews, in terms of views or Epinions income share earned (Epinions reviews sometimes generated real money for reviewers– although typically not a lot of money, especially in the categories for which I usually wrote). It’s nice to know I did at least help out an academic by writing my opinion of the book.
I was thinking I might write about some of the totally batshit Republican proposed policies I’ve seen bandied about today, all of which I’ve read about since waking up this morning at about 4:00. But, I think I will save that topic for another post, on another day. No sense getting riled up today, as I watch it snow and rain and contemplate taking Arran in for yet another vet appointment this evening.
The weather is depressing enough without another commentary about completely wacko right wing religious nutjobs (Bryan Slaton) in Texas trying to secede from the Union and proposing to give traditional Christian families with at least four children tax breaks. Or Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ potentially signing a bill that would remove the need for work permits for children in Arkansas… so that children can be put to work instead of sent to school. I’m so sick of these crazy extremists in the United States… they make me want to stay away, even though I am still a Texas resident. I just want things to be more moderate again. Is that too much to ask? Arggggh!!!!
Oh… and I did manage to make new music videos yesterday. Indeed, they are posted under the same handle Silke Schmidt found on Epinions.com. I think when Bill goes away, I get inspired to sing sexy songs.
I think I’ll end this post now, practice guitar, and consider a visit to the local Rewe for some beer… It’s too shitty outside right now to walk the dogs, and I have a cold sore.