(Stain) fightin’ words

I just noticed that our bottle of Clorox 2 in the laundry room advertises that it “removes odor-causing stains at the source.”

Now, by nature, I’m not a fighting man. But I’ll be damned if I let a Clorox 2 bottle threaten my baby like that.

A question for my Christian readers

I’ve been thinking, reading, and having a lot of discussion with friends lately about Christian theology. It’s been very interesting and eye-opening.

One thing I’ve found is that there’s considerable uncertainty and disagreement among Christians about the nature and purpose of Christ’s sacrifice. In particular, I’ve gotten two major responses to the question below, and both responses have come from multiple believers.

So I’m curious. If you’re a Christian, how would you answer the following question:

Was Christ’s sacrifice absolutely, fundamentally necessary for the salvation of mankind?

The two main responses:

  • Yes, there’s simply no other way that humanity could have been saved.
  • No — Christ’s sacrifice was important and central to salvation, but hypothetically, God could have saved humanity without it.

And of course there are many other possible answers, including: both/neither are somehow true, the question is flawed, I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, etc. But even if you think it doesn’t matter, I’d still be curious what you believe the answer is.

Let me know in the comments!

Can’t talk, must edit

Haven’t had much blogging time lately because of a big new copyediting project — another MIT Press book, actually, which is exciting.

Anyway here’s Evan:

RE: Stuff

Not far from where I live, there’s a store called Cigars N Stuff.

I love this name. It’s simultaneously so specific and so vague, so mundane and so ambitious. They’re saying that what might be in their store is the mathematical union of the sets {cigars} and {literally anything}. I can’t help being intrigued.

It’s like: “What’s in that store? Cigars and what else?”

“Not sure. Maybe Gouda cheese, or badminton rackets, or a lapis lazuli base-seven abacus. Possibly a Heisenberg compensator, or Season 3 of Avatar on Betamax, or a monopole, or Proxima Centauri, or the hedonic treadmill.”

“But definitely rolled-up tobacco?”

“Definitely that, yes.”


Achievement unlocked: Sitting up!

Favorite words (addendum)

I was recently asked what some of my favorite words are, and I gave a brief list that hit a few of the highlights. Ever since, more and more cool words are coming to me. So here’s an addendum with a bunch more favorites. (This, likewise, could easily be ten times as long, given more hours for contemplation.)

Originally I was planning to explain the meaning of every single one, and why I like it. But life is busy, so I’ll have to present the list unadorned, aside from a few links. Maybe I’ll circle back to some of these in the future.


  • ambergris
  • anathema
  • anserine
  • apophenia
  • armada
  • ataraxia
  • bergschrund
  • betwixt
  • cachalot
  • callipygian
  • chanticleer
  • chaoskampf
  • chthonic
  • cloaca
  • contrapositive
  • desultory
  • deuterocanonical
  • diadem
  • ersatz
  • exegesis
  • firmament
  • fusillade
  • fussbudget
  • genuflect
  • gnosis
  • gubernatorial
  • heretofore
  • ineluctable
  • insipid
  • lapidary
  • lieu
  • nocebo
  • numinous
  • O
  • orrery
  • pariah
  • penultimate
  • peripatetic
  • quark
  • quaternary
  • quicksilver
  • seraphim
  • schlub
  • sidereal
  • skullduggery
  • sunder
  • syzygy
  • tardigrade
  • vindicate
  • widdershins

Authors and beta readers: A guide

Recently I distributed the complete first draft of Crane Girl to a select group of beta readers, which got me thinking …

Perhaps you know an author in real life.

My condolences.

Perhaps that author has chosen you as a beta reader.

You poor, poor soul.

In case you have to talk to this author of yours, here’s a handy translation guide to help you make sense of what they’re really saying.

Author says: Hi, how are you?
Author means: What did you think of my book?

Author says: How’s your job been going this week? How’s your cousin? Is she feeling better yet? Oh, good, I’m glad to hear that.
Author means: What did you think of my book?

Author says: So, did you happen to get a chance to look at the book at all?
Author means: I have thought about nothing else for the past ninety-six hours.

Author says: It’s fine if you didn’t read it yet.
Author means: “Fine” is the name of the pin I will stick in your voodoo doll.

Author says: Oh, you did read some of it? What did you think?
Author means: I will define my self-worth entirely based on what you say in the next sixty seconds.

Author says: I want your honest opinion.
Author means: I want your honest opinion to be “This is the most sublime piece of literary craftsmanship since the invention of cuneiform.”

Author says: What was your overall impression?
Author means: Negative impressions will be shattering, and positive impressions will not be believed. There is literally no good answer.

Author says: Thanks!
Author means: I am twitching on the floor.

Author says: All right, talk to you later.
Author means: You should probably find a saner friend.