What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

I wonder what goes in this space?


Ridiculous Web site of the month, part 4

Jesus Junk ... in Space!

In December 1969, Jesus Movement evangelist Arthur Blessitt decided to take up his cross. Literally. He put a wheel on an 8-foot wooden cross and has walked over 37,000 miles with it, visiting 305 countries in the process. Wherever he goes, he preaches.

OK, so that's a little unusual, but I can respect him for it. However, now that Blessitt has pretty much covered the globe, with only a few remote islands left to visit, he's started to think about the next step. What lies beyond. Something that isn't so ... terrestrial.

So he cut a couple of slices off his cross, made a 2-inch mini-cross out of them, and is planning to launch it into orbit on a commercial satellite—along with the Bible on microfilm and a couple of fluorescent "Jesus stickers." They'll be up there circling the earth along with Timothy Leary's ashes and the socks missing from your dryer.

I suppose Blessitt has every right to do this. There are no laws protecting the cross. People can wear it around their necks, or drag it around the world, or put it in a vat and pee on it and call it art, or burn it on the neighbor's ... on second thought, there are limits on what you can do with the cross.

Now, do I think sending the cross into space desecrates it? No, but it's pointless. Absolutely pointless, and not too cheap besides, I would imagine. Dammit, Blessitt, if God wanted a cross in space, he would have put one there.


That's my father-in-law

I don't remember Doc Walton telling me about this—and I'm married to his daughter.

Maybe your father-in-law has accumulated so many kudos that you wouldn't even notice if he were honored by a state legislature. But as far as I'm concerned, this is pretty significant.

Worth a blog entry, anyway. Congratulations, sir, even if it's a couple years late.


Typo in Tokyo

What is the cost of a typographical error?

How about 40 billion yen ($343 million)? That's how much a trader at Japan's Mizuho Securities cost his employer when he entered a computerized sell order on the Tokyo Stock Exchange for 610,000 shares of a newly issued stock at 1 yen apiece, rather than 1 share at 610,000.

Heads pretty much always roll in Japan when bad stuff happens, and indeed the president of the stock exchange has resigned over the incident. No word yet on who the trader was or what's happened to him.

But for editors like me, the moral of the story is clear: People who think they can't afford to have someone check their work—or worse yet, people who think they don't need their work checked—are wrong. Your mistakes may not cost you $343 million, but they will cost you something. Readers of your ad or marketing copy might not buy your product because you were unclear about its benefits. Your proposal might be rejected because it was vague. Your insights might go unappreciated because you buried them under wordiness.

Those are the costs of miscommunication. Instead of paying them, try investing up front in improved communication. Then at least you'll have something to show for the expense, and at best your written work will get you closer to your goals. So hire an editor—me, for instance. Editors don't bite, and we might even have some tips on hot Japanese stocks.


Happy family

Yeah, it's happened. Sarah and I have gone all soft. We have long and earnest conversations about diapers and sleep patterns and developmental milestones. We've become our own worst nightmare.

But look at the guy. Can you blame us, really?

Merry Christmas. And thanks to my pal, Jim Mannino, for this great photo.


Get your kicks

Here is my latest piece of feature writing. I am one of the last people I thought would be doing sports stories, but it turns out that I really enjoy it. I'm sorry to report that at about the time this piece went to press, the SPU women's soccer team lost the Division II national title game in sudden-death overtime. But as they say, it'll give 'em something to shoot for next year.

Where's Will?

Please pause for a moment to mourn the demise of one of my favorite Web sites, and one which I found extraordinarily useful:


This site was nothing more or less than a fully text-searchable compendium of the works of William Shakespeare. Type in a phrase and you could see at a glance what play it was from. You could look up any scene or line you wanted, or just sit and read through a play if that was your pleasure. I spent considerable time mining it for quotations, and now that it's gone, I miss it terribly. There are other Bard references online but none of them are half as good.

Anyone know who pulled the plug on The Plays? How can we get it back? I'm willing to help.

I would insert a Shakespeare quote here, but I no longer have my favorite tool for looking them up. See how annoying that is?


What tree did YOU fall out of?

This, alack, is a real e-mail I received earlier today.
Dear Staff:

To brighten the office, we would like to put up a non-denominational winter tree in the _____ area. We would like to do this with the support of staff, so if you are offended by this tree, we will post an envelope marked, “tree” in the lunchroom, and you can submit your concerns in that envelope. Your concerns will be anonymous and we will take down the tree immediately. Please send us your thoughts by Wednesday, December 7th; otherwise, we will proceed with decorating the tree.
I composed several possible responses:
  • I'm offended that you want to kill a living tree to observe a holiday.
  • I'm offended that you're trying to "non-denominationalize" a symbol of a Christian holiday. (Don't give me yer crap about the tree's "pagan origins"; today it's widely recognized as a Christian symbol. Leather shoes have bovine origins, but no one expects them to moo or give milk.)
  • Call it "non-denominational" if you want, but I'm offended that you're not putting up a non-denominational menorah or lighting some non-denominational incense or baking non-denominational Kwanzaa cookies or sacrificing a non-denominational goat to celebrate the winter solstice. Let's celebrate ALL the holidays!
  • Wanna know how an angel feels? You will, after I ram that non-denominational tree up yer rear end. No holiday symbols in the workplace! Bah humbug!
  • It's a great idea! Can I bring some non-denominational ornaments?
  • I'm allergic to trees.
Quick—which of those responses should I put in the envelope? I have only until Wednesday...