Called one of the world’s worst books by Publisher’s Weekly, How To Avoid Huge Ships was written by a Seattle harbor pilot who surely thought he was sharing invaluable advice for amateur mariners. The NY Times tells us that the purpose of this $100+ book was 112 pages of “safety tips” for yacht and trawler captains.
When I took a look on Amazon, there was little more I could discover about its content. The book was written by John W. Trimmer, initially self-published in 1982, and has 1,407 reviews.
But then I read some of the reviews and could not stop laughing. So, let’s start with the reviews and then conclude with a perfect holiday week economic Bottom Line.
The 1993 edition:
The Reviews: How to Avoid Huge Ships…Or I Never Met a Ship I Liked
From the NY Times:
- “One critic said on Amazon that he wished the book had included more tips on differentiating between huge and less huge ships, so readers could be sure ‘what size of ship they were avoiding.’”
- “I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer’s other excellent books. How to Avoid a Train and How to Avoid the Empire State Building. These books are fast paced, well written and the hard won knowledge found in them is as inspirational as it is informational. After reading them I haven’t been hit by anything bigger than a diesel bus.” Thanks. captain! (By Citizenfitz)
- “I was jogging around the block when all of a sudden I was almost struck by a huge ship! Thankfully I had read How to Avoid Huge Ships. I have lived to tell the tale and now I only hope future generations read this lifesaver.” (By Marai)
Quite long but worth the read…
“It is a perfect example of the cruelty of fate- my life was forever changed by a huge ship. It was the winter of 1991, 2 years before Cap’n Trimmer published this masterpiece. If only I had known… the wanton destruction that only a huge ship can do to life and limb and all smaller vessels. My bonnie wife and I had set sail in our beloved scupper, ‘Nam Chowder (a pun from my years in the Navy). We were heaving to in the deep and treacherous waters off Cape Hatteras, when lo and behold a ship appeared, as sinister as Poseidon in denim cutoffs.
“O wife!” I called out. “A huge ship approaches!” But right at that moment, the huge ship sounded her horn, and my cries were drowned out in the overwhelming din. My fair wife continued to snack upon Exxtreme Olestra Pringos with reckless abandon- and so focused on these leakage-inducing sweetmeats that she failed to notice the huge ship, barreling towards us at a blinding 6 knots. I screamed like a hyena, bellowed like a bull, but so intense was her snack craving that my warnings were ignored. Finally I rushed towards the bow, to snatch the bushel of crisps from her unsightly maw and force her help in avoiding our certain shiply doom, but my extremities became tangled in the rigging and I could do nothing but struggle as the huge ship continued its advance, closing within a few hundred cubits.
“Lord, hail this ship and allow us safe passage, I beg of you!” I cried, but it was no use. God and his minions have no time for foolish adventurers upon his seas, who disregard the dangers of huge ships. And so it was, that a huge ship smashed our boat into splinters, and my wife was keelhauled for an eternity, her lifeless, bloated body finally floating to the surface in he wake of the huge ship, still clutching her snak pak. My body was torn assunder, and I sustained such horrific injuries that I shudder to recall that terrible day. Know that I peck out this review with my eyelashes, for the huge ship took everything from me save the use of my facial muscles.
Although he will not admit it, Cap’n Trimmer wrote this book in honor of my late wife, Grossinda, for her memory lives on in every book sold, so that the world may know of the dangers lurking in the bowels of every huge ship. Make no mistake, huge ships are out there and their hunger for fresh souls know no bounds. May everyone read this book and commit to memory its passages, and Grossinda’s demise will not be in vain.
It is my creed- to find the huge ship that took everything from me. Armed with this book and the grace of God, I will get my revenge. HUGE SHIP- I COME FOR YOU!” (By Chester Huffy)
Our Bottom Line: Deadweight Loss
When a loss to one party is not offset by a gain to someone else, we have created deadweight loss.
So, if cousin Susie hated the scarf you gave her, it was no longer worth the $35 you paid for it. If the value to her was $15, then the deadweight loss is $20. Or, as Joel Waldfogel explained (with a bit of a smile), gift giving creates an “orgy of value destruction” and the “misallocation of resources.”
Below, Dr. Waldfogel tells us why we shouldn’t give gifts. Do note that he is now at the University of Minnesota:
You can see how giving a $100 copy of Huge Ships would create massive deadweight loss.
My sources and more: To read more about Huge Ships, the NY Times, and Publishers Weekly are possibilities. However, like me, you might just go to Amazon’s 879 reviews. As for deadweight loss, Joel Waldfogel, wrote “The Deadweight Loss of Christmas” and Scroogenomics.