There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Writing, technically speaking

As someone who is occasionally guilty of committing technical writing, I found this contest for the worst manual amusing and instructive. I don't know how fair it is to describe the winning entry as a "manual"; it seems more like a rant. I love how the writer (no doubt the boss) spends nine pages berating employees and generally treating them like five year olds who need a time out, then closes with "Your are part of the Industrial FAMILY-WELCOME!" If my family was like that, I'd ask to be put up for adoption.

I know the intent of the opening of the winning entry is to provide a list of things not to do, but the way it's worded, you would think that poor workmanship, stealing, and unexcused absences were encouraged, nay, required. It reminds me of when I was hired at a department store during college and spent my first two hours of indoctrination being forced to watch three videos about how I shouldn't steal; then having a talk with the Loss Prevention Manager about how I shouldn't steal; being told by him that he had fired two people working in the back room for cracking open a single walnut from a bag that had broken open (he took particular pleasure in the fact that one of the unfortunate fired employees was pregnant at the time), then having to walk three miles downtown to the police station to try and get a statement from them that I hadn't ever stolen anything. Welcome to the family! Needless to say, I ran away from home as soon as I could.

The contest is like shooting fish in a barrel in some ways. Clearly most of the entries were just badly translated or something. But it's still instructive and amusing to look at. I'm glad that none of my work has found its way into this contest and trust that it never will. (Found via WebWord).

Posted at 10:15 AM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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