those fabulous furless geek brothers (rendered unimportant by recent events)

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THE BIG BANG THEORY is an end­lessly re­watch­able show: aside from the fab­u­lous char­ac­ters and the in­ter­twin­ing of their per­sonal lives, the di­a­log is chock-a-block full of hu­mor of all sorts, from the zany to the kind that re­quires the viewer ei­ther have a rea­son­able IQ or ac­cess to the In­ter­net to look things up. And CONTINUE READING

my forte is not my fortay, it's just my fort

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WE HEAR IT and we say it in­cor­rectly! We usu­ally hear "for­tay" when peo­ple say "forte," an al­most uni­ver­sally mis­pro­nounced word! I can't say it's a part of everyone's daily vo­cab­u­lary, but if you read enough you'll come across it reg­u­larly. I'm writ­ing this be­cause it was used in a cou­ple of movies that we watched re­cently. Un­for­tu­nately, while the CONTINUE READING

on william strunk and vigorously concise writing

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WILLIAM STRUNK JR was Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity. In 1918, he self-published a guide for his stu­dents on Eng­lish us­age and writ­ing called The El­e­ments Of Style. The slim book con­sisted pri­mar­ily of eight "el­e­men­tary rules of us­age" and ten "el­e­men­tary prin­ci­ples of com­po­si­tion" ac­com­pa­nied by a "few mat­ters of form.' It CONTINUE READING

about editing and those confusing proofreader's marks

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ASIDE FROM MY OWN WORK, I have edited sev­eral books and many ar­ti­cles for oth­ers. I have no for­mal train­ing in, merely study about edit­ing. I never used the field's ac­cepted nomen­cla­ture or proof-reading sym­bols. I just used my Strunk & White and every­thing worked out hunky-dory for those writ­ers!

Wikipedia de­fines edit­ing as "the process of se­lect­ing CONTINUE READING

at least hillary knows the difference between "alternative" and "alternate"

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LAST NIGHT'S SLUGFEST con­sisted of ninety min­utes of Don­ald Trump and Hillary Clin­ton call­ing each other names ("liar" popped up more than once) and de­clar­ing each other un­trust­wor­thy and un­fit for of­fice. Pol­icy dif­fer­ences and other mat­ters that should con­cern these two can­di­dates were set aside so that each could im­pugn the ba­sic CONTINUE READING

some (piss) poor writing about hillary's "role" in the attack on benghazi

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THE LAST WORD ANYONE would use to de­scribe me is "con­ser­v­a­tive" — at least not re­gard­ing most is­sues re­lated to pol­i­tics. But there's more to life than pol­i­tics: I re­main old-fashioned on the is­sue of pre­scrip­tive ver­sus de­scrip­tive dic­tio­nar­ies (strongly be­liev­ing in the for­mer) and the mis­use of the des­ig­nated hit­ter in ma­jor league base­ball (not at all what you CONTINUE READING

Why I Capitalize Every Word In Every Title

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I CAPITALIZE EVERY WORD in every ti­tle that I write in the text sec­tions of my books and es­says. That in­cludes cap­i­tal­iz­ing the def­i­nite and in­def­i­nite ar­ti­cles and those perky prepo­si­tions! I al­ways have and no doubt I al­ways will. I do this for sev­eral rea­sons, which I share here in a ges­ture of bon­homie. But be­ware: this ap­proach is at CONTINUE READING

on those pesky dashes as punctuation marks

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USE OF THE DASH FOR PUNCTUATION is a lost art in con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can Eng­lish (AmE) and British Eng­lish (BrE) for many writ­ers and ap­par­ently many type­set­ters. It's a shame, as a well-placed dash or ten can ease the flow of read­ing and there­fore lead to in­creased un­der­stand­ing and plea­sure. Here I ad­dress the way that I — who use CONTINUE READING