Yes, Virginia, There is a Punctuation Fairy

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 31, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

And she just handed Hillary et al a freebie. Am I going to have to turn this into a grammar/punctuation blog? New York Observer interviews Joe Biden:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical—albeit in a slightly more backhanded way—about Mr. Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

And Allah runs with it, saying that Drudge’s emphasis on “clean” isn’t the half of it. The “clean” is a non-starter for me; the man clearly means “clean-cut,” or, as others will have it, “free of corruption.”

On first read, though, the whole of it is a huge insult to past black candidates, almost irrespective of what office they were running for. But on listening to the audio, it becomes clear that the worst thing Biden said about any other black candidate is that they weren’t “mainstream.” It’s all about the missing comma–commas, let’s not forget, indicate a pause in the speaker’s words. On the audio there’s a pause big enough to drive a train through. Try it with the comma:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

Patronizing to Obama it may be, but it’s no expression of all-encompassing racism.

Moral of the story: Listen to the audio. Moral of the story for New York Observer: Hire either a transcriptionist who knows the job or a copy editor who has access to the audio. Or both. That’s ridiculous.

Yls Said It

Filed under:Blogging — posted by Anwyn on January 29, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

Over at Ace’s, the perfectly coined phrase to sum up 95 percent of the PC idiocy of our world today:

“Protesting reality.”

Yeah, Baby!

Filed under:Cool — posted by Anwyn on January 27, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

Billy Joel to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

He was pretty much my first favorite pop/rock musician, so that’s good karma for me. And good karma for me means my team has to win, right?


The World According to John Kerry

Filed under:Jerks,Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 12:12 pm

The Middle East doesn’t trust us because we walked away from Kyoto and failed to “move toward” AIDS in Africa.

I really cannot believe the gross stupidity of that man, aid and comfort to the enemy aside.


Filed under:Mothering,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on January 26, 2007 @ 10:14 pm

Anwyn’s Note: Originally post at Electric Venom, but accidentally deleted in a database wipeout. Reposted here.

I saw the URL for this site on the back of a PT Cruiser on my way home today. Joyful birthing? Sure. But just above the “joyful” part, on the Cruiser, were more words: HypnoBirthing: The Mongo Method. The Hypno part is here.

I’m dubious. Most of the stuff it talks about–reducing stress to the mother, reducing C-sections and other interventions–I’m 100 percent in favor of. But it never really gets into the specifics of the “hypno” part, and frankly, I was taught all the things it alludes to–that fear leads to stress leads to pain, that your body can do the work just fine on its own if you can relax to the proper degree, etc.–in my regular childbirth class at the hospital. I can’t believe it takes all these specialized methods to help women help themselves to a reasonable, manageable birth experience. Actually, I take that back–I can believe it. If more women took the time to read up and prepare, with tons of courses and books already out there, these “methods” wouldn’t keep proliferating. As for the Hypno part, well, that page talks a lot about daydreaming and the state you enter just before sleep. If that’s all it is, that’s just the same as The Zone, and yes, I got into it while having my son. So really, if it’s just teaching you to zone out and relax, I’m all for it, but if it’s actually hypnosis that somebody else needs to perform on you, count me out.

And that guff about no-pain birth/labor? A doctor’s endorsement at the site says:

I have made the transition to HypnoBirthing®-The Mongan Method. I now believe that birthing involves no pain.

Yeah. That’s cuz you’ve never done it, Jack.

Grey’s F-Word: Flap (Like a Chicken)

Filed under:Jerks,Television — posted by Anwyn @ 11:17 am

Event: The Grey’s Anatomy flap over Isaiah Washington’s alleged sexual slur against costar T.R. Knight has, predictably, landed Washington in “treatment” for his “behavioral issues.”

Problem: This latest brouhaha came not because he supposedly called Knight the name, but because he denied doing so. He was fatuous enough to use the word in question in public again when he denied the orginal cause of complaint and is now installed for the de rigeur reprogramming of public figures who publicly use words deemed unacceptable by the self-appointed hate-crimes police.

Subsequent to his use of the word after the Globes, costar Katherine Heigl, according to the AP, “characteriz[ed] the incident as one that should be handled privately among the show’s cast and crew.” If she thought that, she was the only one of the three who did. The same article reports that Knight went flogging the incident on Ellen DeGeneres’s show, repeating the word in public yet again (no charge when it’s one of the wronged group doing it!).

Two words, neither of them beginning with an F: Grow up. Don’t call your costars names. And wronged costars, challenge him to take it outside, or hell, leave it inside, but why would you want to continue fostering disunion on the set, discomfort where you work, by dragging the whole world into the problem? Oh yeah–because if you didn’t, you couldn’t get GLAAD to do your dirty work for you by dragging the guy off to “rehab.”

Quote of the Day

Filed under:Authors,It's the Jihad — posted by Anwyn @ 10:46 am

But the notion that this war is about our moral failings is comfort fantasy, pure and simple. It soothes us with the false idea that, if we but mend ourselves, the scary people will leave us alone. … our enemies were not created by the peccadilloes of free people and will not melt away before a moral perfection that we, in any case, can never achieve.

Via Hot Air.

I Heart My Colts

Filed under:Cool,Hot,Sports — posted by Anwyn on January 22, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

And my Peyton. And, of course, my Allah.

USS Arizona

Filed under:Priorities — posted by Anwyn @ 12:40 pm

Not news: A battleship sunk over forty years ago is slowly turning into an iron-ore deposit.

News: It is the USS Arizona, memorial site for many of those killed at Pearl Harbor, and contains 500,000 gallons of oil that will be freed into the ocean when the hull gives way.

Big News for This Blog, in Which I Agree with Environmentalists; at Least, I’m Sure This Would be Their Opinion Since I Didn’t Bother to Read Them before Posting This: They can pump out the oil, but won’t because it’s the grave of the Arizona’s crewmen?

But how to protect it? That is no simple matter. The Arizona is so important — as a symbol and final resting place for a thousand crewmen — that engineers cannot just prop up the hull, or drill holes to pump the oil out.

When I first read Divester’s post on the matter (via Instapundit), I assumed they either hadn’t sufficiently looked into the possibilities (“National Park officials aren’t sure how to remove it from the wreck”–just a thought, Park Service, but have you thought about asking some ship engineers?) or for some reason couldn’t pump the oil out. But the ABC article implies that they could but won’t because of the hallowed nature of a site that is not only a war memorial but the grave of America’s seamen.

I’m sorry, but after sixty years, would it really be that much of a desecration to take whatever drilling steps are necessary to prevent an oil spill just a fraction of the size of Exxon Valdez, but still presumably dangerous enough to the wildlife and ecosystem? Call me callous, but I think not.

I’m skeptical. If the article isn’t getting it wrong, I’d like to hear from the engineers on whether pumping the oil out is practical or not. Then let’s talk about which is worse: the desecration of the grave of our brave seamen or the potential desecration of an oil spill off the coast of Hawaii.

California Assemblywoman Wants to Spank Spankers

Filed under:Mothering,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn @ 12:15 pm

Or, In Which I Attempt to Speak Like One o’ Them There Law-yers.

First, The Story:

This bonehead wants to legislate spanking. The law would affect only the spanking of children three and under, so it’s not quite as idiotic as it would first appear. It’s still pretty stupid.

Second, The Practicalities:

Who will be witnesses for this “crime?” Who will report it? A three-year-old’s word is unreliable, to say the least. Only the ones dumb enough to spank their kids in public, then. Or parents with an ax to grind against the spanking parent. Chew on that one for a minute. Mad at your ex? “Oh, hey, my ex spanked our son last week … ” and poof presto, a year of free custody!

What’s the law’s definition of spanking? Visible mark on the child in a certain area? Bruise of a certain depth? Traditional spanking is done on the tush, and I have to assume one reason is that though it stings, it doesn’t damage the child or leave a mark. Absent a mark, what’s the standard? How is it to be proved?

Third, The Ideology:

No big mystery here, it’s basically “It Takes a Village” vs. “Mommy and Daddy Know Best.” Guess which one I favor. Come on, guess! It’s fun.

Fourth, The Merits:

“I have to question why our society holds so tightly to physical discipline among the very young,” said Ms. Lieber, who does not have children. “We’re very addicted to violence.”

Really? I have to question why certain lawmakers hold so tightly to the idea that they can legislate out every bad behavior among the populace and why they believe a blanket standard will work on such a personal and individual thing as parental discipline. They’re very addicted to power.

Do I spank my three-year-old? No. Is he old enough to fit the punishment to the crime? Yes, despite what the article says:

Proponents of such laws argue that spanking — especially for young children, who cannot connect the punishment to the crime — is ineffective at best, and cruel at worst.

He went through a biting phase. I managed to stop it through other means. My mother, however, bit me back when I went through the same phase. Guess how many times she bit me? Come on, guess! I’ll tell you this: I never bit her (or anybody else) again. Three-year-olds and older two-year-olds are quite developed enough to connect punishment to crime, especially when it’s laid out carefully to them and properly reinforced. Which brings me to my last merit argument, widely believed but brought to us in this instance by a commenter at Patterico’s:

If you’re trying to instill discipline, how does acting in an undisciplined manner yourself, out of frustration, help?

Actually, acting out of frustration generally doesn’t help. But it doesn’t follow that all spanking is “acting out of frustration.” If you start by establishing that such-and-such a behavior is forbidden, with notice of exactly what will happen if the behavior is repeated, you preclude acting out of frustration or without discipline.

Closing argument: Though I nominally agree that three and under is too young for spanking, it doesn’t follow that such spanking is automatically tantamount to child abuse. There’s enough real abuse going on that the California Assembly would be daft to pile this one onto their child protection department’s almost assuredly overloaded back.

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

Studio v. Filmmaker

Filed under:Jerks,Movies — posted by Anwyn on January 12, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

Two developments since TORn published Peter Jackson’s open letter about the circumstances surrounding his involvement (or non-) with a movie version of The Hobbit. Let’s just say that regardless of your opinion of the Lord of the Rings movies or your desire to see Jackson make The Hobbit, there isn’t much doubt as to who’s got the high ground here.

Robert Shaye, head of New Line, indulged in a tirade against Jackson and his “arrogant” lawsuit:

“He got a quarter of a billion dollars paid to him so far, justifiably, according to contract, completely right, and this guy, who already has received a quarter of a billion dollars, turns around without wanting to have a discussion with us and sues us and refuses to discuss it unless we just give in to his plan. I don’t want to work with that guy anymore. Why would I? So the answer is he will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I’m still working for the company.”

“Justifiably”? What’s that–because you think he deserved it, Mr. Shaye? No, more like “according to contract.” Very well then. So, according to contract, Jackson and his company had the right to check the accounting processes used in tracking the money from the films. That’s not happening, and your response is that he’s being greedy? A more proper response would have been, “Sure. Your contract says you’re entitled to do that. Go nuts.”

“There’s a kind of arrogance,” Shaye said. “… to think that I, as a functionary in [a] company that has been around for a long time, but is now owned by a very big conglomerate, would care one bit about trying to cheat the guy, … he’s either had very poor counsel or is completely misinformed and myopic to think that I care whether I give him [anything].”

It’s arrogant to suspect a company would be trying to cheat on a contract? More like embarrassment, wouldn’t you say, to suspect that the company thinks you’re dumb enough that they can get away with it? And as to bad counsel … no, obviously he has very good counsel telling him what you just said: That you absolutely don’t care whether you give him anything. If you cared about fulfilling the terms of the contract, they’d have analyzed the accounting already.

Honestly, what was New Line so afraid of that they couldn’t let Wingnut into the books, as specified? Were they worried that Wingnut would find something that would lead to … a lawsuit? Quint at Ain’t It Cool News has a theory, as well as Wingnut’s response to Shaye.

Someone sued Paramount over COMING TO AMERICA in which the books on that film were opened and audited. That lawsuit resulted in Eddie Murphy, having nothing to do with the lawsuit, getting a crazy amount of money and never having to go to court. The studio was cheating everybody, so they were forced to pay everybody, not just the person who sued.

It sounds to me like New Line isn’t risking just having to pay Jackson what they owe him, but if the books on all 3 movies are made public, they could owe so many more people money. Or they could have completely fulfilled their contractual obligations to everybody, but then why would they deny access to a contracted party?

My point exactly. Wingnut responds with high-ground boilerplate that, since they’re only asking for what’s in the contract (supposedly; obviously I’m not a first party to any of this), is perfectly sound.

Fundamentally, our legal action is about holding New Line to it’s [sic] contractual obligations and promises. It is regrettable that Bob has chosen to make it personal. I have always had the highest respect and affection for Bob and other senior management at New Line and continue to do so.

Shaye looks to me like a purse-holder throwing a fit. “I already gave you a quarter-billion, so sit down and shut up.” No, Mr. Shaye: The money was earned per the conditions of the contract. Let’s review: Trying to grab money you’re not entitled to? Arrogant. Asking for the conditions of the contract to be fulfilled? Reasonable and prudent.

At the very least, do ya think it wouldn’t get around in Hollywood if Jackson and Wingnut rolled over and said “Gee, we’re so very rich now, we just don’t know what to do with all the money, so no, of course not, no need to go into the details of that pesky contract. We’re just so grateful that we were allowed to make this money on your watch, Mr. Shaye.” Nothing like starting future contract negotiations from the position that execs think you’re a pushover!

A little reality, please, Mr. Shaye, even though pretend is your business.

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

Good Try

Filed under:Bumper Stickers — posted by Anwyn on January 9, 2007 @ 10:21 pm

I have a category for bumper stickers here because I like to read them and probably spend a few too many brain cells over-analyzing them. I don’t have any on my car because a) I wouldn’t do that to my car and b) why let everybody going down the road in my blue-city, slightly-less-blue state know my sensibilities? Far more fun to fume about their sensibilities in the privacy of my car.

Anyway, on to tonight’s example:

Protect the Environment: Plant a Bush Back in Texas!

(Scroll down to see the sticker in question.)

It’s better than “Somewhere in Texas … a village is missing its idiot” in that it has a direct expression of the particular area of policy disgruntlement rather than just indulging in namecalling, along with a somewhat witty suggestion for eliminating the bad policy. But the longer I stared at it, the more I found myself wondering about the nature of their directive to “plant” Bush … just makes you wonder exactly how deep they have in mind. If it had just said “Plant a Bush in Texas!” it wouldn’t have carried the rather sinister suggestion and would have been funnier.

I know. Focusing on minutiae. Hey, at least I’m in good company.

New Year’s Memes

Filed under:Miscellaneous — posted by Anwyn on January 7, 2007 @ 9:21 am

The door has been opened and the memes are flooding in! Or rather, Patterico dangled links as a reward for ponying up to two more memes, Five Things You Don’t Know About Me and Things I Appreciate about Being a Lawyer Whatever it is I Do. It’d be more interesting if I said three false things and two true things and the commenters guessed which was which, like one of those annoying ice-breaking rituals at corporate meetings and religious convocations, but I’ll just play it straight.

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me:

1) I once shared the stage with Kenny Rogers. Yes, really. He has a Christmas tour every year for which he engages local choirs to back him up. I was in graduate school at the time, his show was approaching Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and our small classical/early music choir, made up of choral grad students and older members of the community, signed on to back him up with harmony vocals, oohs and aahs, and a few well timed step-touches during the big finale number. Yes, step-touches.

2) Speaking of Illinois and the Grad Chorale, though I now consider my profession to be editing, my degrees are in music education (B.M.) and choral music (M.M.). I taught choir in the public schools for three and a half years before finishing my graduate degree and making the switch to editing.

3) I was nearly a casualty of war–twice. During the Civil War, four brothers left home to fight for the Union. Only one returned–my paternal ancestor. On D-Day, my maternal grandfather was on a transport headed to a beach at Normandy. The transport malfunctioned and returned to the English coast.

4) I’ve taken flying lessons–not enough to deliberately solo yet, but enough so that if the pilot of a single-engine airplane I was on became disabled, I could handle the plane and, unlike Indiana Jones, land it, too. I stopped lessons when I became pregnant with my son–I’ll resume and get my license one of these years.

5) Speaking of my son, his birth was the easiest childbirth ever known to woman. I don’t talk about it much because of the dirty looks from the other moms, but I slept through a night of early labor, labored at home until the mid-morning, went to the hospital at 11 a.m. and had my son at 3:20 p.m. without drugs, painkillers, or anesthetic. May not be as interesting as a difficult, three-day labor and epidural story, but believe me I’m happy that this one is the story I have available to tell.

Things I Appreciate About Being an Editor:

Having gone from teaching to editing, I sincerely appreciate that editing doesn’t require much in the way of bending unruly teenagers to my will. Words I cross out stay crossed out. Most of the time.

I enjoy finding the balance between work I need to do and work that needs to be left alone–i.e. a good editor almost pays more attention to writing that shouldn’t be altered than to writing that should. Ignoring that feeling of “but I’m not doing any work at all” and not altering the author’s words when it’s not necessary makes a better editor.

I occasionally edit books meant for college classroom use, and I appreciate being able to strike or alter some of the more egregious political bias before the book reaches students. And yes, I do my best to eliminate bias from both ends of the spectrum. Just the facts, ma’am.

But what I like most of all is just what you’d expect–the knowledge that I am helping to bring books to the consumer. I have always loved books–all my spare time as a kid was devoted to reading, and now I have a job (albeit sporadic freelance at the moment) that pays me to read. Score!


Patterico didn’t specify the inclusion of the outdated and laughably simplistic political test, but since I took it I’ll mention that I scored 24, which makes me more liberal than both Patterico and Allah. Which I sincerely doubt. Like Pat and Xrlq, I skipped the dumber questions, like the one that made you choose between Joscelyn Elders and Pat Robertson. Unlike Xrlq, however, I didn’t take it again and answer all of them. Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that answers like “federal government is too big” were scored on the liberal side. As if.


Your turn, commenters. Come on out of the woodwork, say hi, take up the memes yourself. Or just say hi.

Update: I should mention, the Elders/Robertson question did have an option for “neither,” but I really don’t remember if I picked “neither” or skipped it. I tried to take it again and answer each question, but I just couldn’t do it. “Melting pot” or “multiculturalism” with no other alternatives, “team owners” and “professional athletes” (query: why would I need to trust either? I’m not in the sports business), “stricter controls on the sale of guns” or “mandatory sentencing” or “both,” … if I knew how, I’d write my own test.

Query: Ever notice, regarding the framing of the melting/multi question, that anti-Christian liberals are constantly wishing Christians would become more “melting pot” and blur their Christian identities with secularism and/or other religions, while insisting that most other religions be allowed every possible (and beyond) allowance for maintaining their own uninfluenced system?

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace