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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 17, 2006 / 17 Adar, 5766

Giving ‘Go to hell!’ a new meaning: Monetizing the Afterlife

By Gene Weingarten


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Every so often someone gets an idea so brilliant and original that it becomes an instant phenomenon, guaranteeing its creator immeasurable wealth and a place in the pantheon of entrepreneurial geniuses. And then there are ideas like Paul Kinsella's.


Paul, 31, is a stock clerk and freelance cartoonist from New Athens, Ill. He had his brainstorm and set about creating a Web site to introduce a new commercial enterprise. Despite some favorable publicity, for some reason he has yet to find his first customer. He hopes it will be me.


Me: Please explain the principle behind AfterlifeTelegrams.com.


Paul: We send a telegram to a dead person on your behalf.


Me: And how do you do this?


Paul: We give your message to someone who is terminally ill, he memorizes it, and when he gets to the afterlife, he finds your person and delivers it. We charge $5 a word, 100 words max.


Me: It's sort of a dead-letter office.


Paul: You could say that!


Me: So, this hasn't exactly caught on?


Paul: I asked a psychic why, and she said most people seem interested in getting messages from the afterlife, not to the afterlife.


I visited Paul's Web site, which takes itself quite seriously. If you are planning to message a recently deceased person, you are required to certify that you are no longer grieving. This is so Paul can't be accused of taking advantage of the distraught. For similar reasons of taste, he has no plans to solicit the dying as his messengers. He has one person on hand, a friend of his with serious liver problems. Beyond that, he hopes potential messengers will contact him. Their families get the money: Paul plans to take his profits only through Web traffic to the site and its links.


Me: There are about 18 times as many dead people from all of time as there are people living on Earth today, not counting dead Neanderthals and Australopithecans, who might well have souls, albeit really scruffy ones. So the population of the afterlife would be at least 18 times larger than that of Earth. What makes you think that your messenger could even find the right person?


Paul: That's a good point. If it's all random and chaotic, that's gonna stop him. But we would hope that they have worked out some sort of registry.


Me: What if the Hindus are right and we are reincarnated as cows? And you'd have all these cows with elaborate AfterlifeTelegrams.com messages they are contractually obligated to deliver to other cows, but they have no way to do it. Imagine the frustration. Isn't that cruel?


Paul: I admit reincarnation might screw things up.


Me: What if the dead person is in Hell? Would your messenger have to go there to find him?


Paul: Yes, he has to do everything within reason.


Me: Including confronting Satan?


Paul: You might not have to. It might just be like visiting someone in prison. You might just have to go up to the Plexiglas and knock.


Me: What guarantee can you give that the terminally ill person won't be a prankster and deliver a subversive message, causing great consternation among the dead? For example, let's say the paid-for message is, "Mom, I love you." But the delivered message is, "Dad says he slept with your sister."


Paul: We will seek messengers of high moral character.


Me: I know you don't intend to transmit nasty messages. But what if people cross you up? For example, a person could send a nice, chatty telegram to his deceased ex-wife that says, "I miss your cooking, but Wally made a nice stew." You'd send that, right?


Paul: Probably.


Me: Well, what if Wally was her schnauzer?


Paul: Hmm.


So, although Paul and I agreed there were still some wrinkles to be ironed out, I nonetheless decided to become his first customer. Creating the message was an interesting challenge. Since you can't count on an answer, or even a return receipt, your message isn't the beginning of a dialogue, it's the whole ballgame. You need to go for maximum impact.


My first idea was to telegram Karl Marx: GOT ANY MORE GREAT IDEAS, MEATHEAD?


But then I realized something: The people in the afterlife probably are just as clueless about the goings-on here as we are about their world. For all Marx knows, the world is a worker's paradise by now. That's precisely why Paul's service is of value. It's a chance to deliver information the deceased couldn't otherwise get, and about which they would be curious.


And that opens all sorts of possibilities.


I considered various approaches. Here's the telegram I settled on and paid for, the very first message to be delivered by AfterlifeTelegrams.com:


TO ADOLF HITLER STOP HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU STOP I AM HONORED TO BRING YOU GREETINGS FROM THE CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY, HYMAN MANDELBAUM.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Gene Weingarten writes the Below the Beltway humor column for The Washington Post. To comment, please click here.


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