Disastrous Atrocity

Filed under:9/11,Need a Good Editor?,Sad — posted by Anwyn on May 31, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

September 11 is listed in the “Major Disasters” section, subheading “Aircraft Disasters,” of son’s new almanac. It is the only hijacking in the list–the rest are accidents–and the phrasing is poor: “Two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, one went down in a PA field.” No, Almanac editors, the planes didn’t crash; they were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The one in the PA field did crash, and it’s due only to the heroism of the doomed passengers who did not allow it deliberately to be flown into yet another important American building full of people. I do not understand people who still insist on avoiding calling 9/11 what it was: an atrocity. It was not a tragedy, as many news outlets and politicians have called it. It was a disaster, as the Almanac calls it, but that does not give its true character: It was a cold-bloodedly planned, determinedly executed mass murder-suicide.

I hadn’t before said anything to my son about 9/11. He’s only seven and it happened before he was born. But he likes to read to us the lists of events and cool facts in his almanac. It really gave me a jar to hear it in a list of accidents consigned to history. Unprepared, I ended up giving him the nutshell on what happened, including the heroism of the Flight 93 passengers, but I couldn’t do it without tearing up. He listened intently, but next time he wanted to read the list to us, he sternly warned me not to repeat the story of 9/11 and not to cry. He then omitted it from the list, because the fun, for him, was quizzing us on “What happened?” in each particular disaster, and he didn’t want to hear the painful story of 9/11 again. At least he grasped that there was something different about that one.

In Other News, How Can I Meet This Met?

Filed under:Heh,Need a Good Editor?,Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on May 9, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

A Mets pitcher, specifically, who named one of his bats … Orcrist.

Then the NYT apparently managed to screw up the origin of the name, but they apologized, so all good.

Maurice Sendak & The Hobbit

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on March 27, 2011 @ 9:27 am

An American edition of The Hobbit, marking its 30th anniversary, was proposed to contain drawings by Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame. Tolkien requested samples, and Sendak provided two. But “the editor,” whoever was the liaison between Tolkien and Sendak, mislabeled the drawings, calling Sendak’s wood-elves hobbits.

This blunder nettled Tolkien. His reply was that Sendak had not read the book closely and did not know what a hobbit was. Consequently, Tolkien did not approve the drawings. Sendak was furious.

In hopes that all could be smoothed over between the two, the publisher arranged for a meeting in Oxford while Sendak was in England touring for the U.K. release of “Wild Things.” The day before their meeting, Sendak suffered his first major heart attack. He was 39. Sendak spent several weeks recovering in a hospital in Birmingham. He never met with Tolkien, and the project was abandoned.

I find this tale of the ignorant “editor” a little far-fetched; the article doesn’t name the publisher, but just says “the American publisher,” which is presumably Houghton Mifflin. Either the “editor” who labeled the drawings wasn’t familiar with the book (unlikely), or looked at Sendak’s drawings and thought they were of hobbits rather than elves and didn’t bother to check (a bit more likely). It also seems reasonable to think it might have been some random person at the company or Sendak himself who mislabeled the drawings.

In any case, I’m not sorry the project didn’t go through. In the sample drawing at the article, Bilbo looks OK, but Gandalf looks about as tall as Bilbo and a bit too Wild-Thingy for me. As my seven-year-old son might say, “That’s boring to my taste.” Gandalf supplies the drama, the not-your-usual-afternoon-tea part of the pastoral Hobbiton scene. If he looks like a dwarf in a long cloak, where’s the adventure in that?

Via Neatorama.

Dear Mr. Hitchens and Newsweek

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 10, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

The fact that you, Mr. Hitchens, do not personally believe in God, or any god, does not precisely give you the right to lower-case God in a Newsweek article, and the Newsweek editors who allowed it should turn in their stylebooks. The fact that you believe there is no such being as God does not negate the fact that in writing, the word God, capitalized, is used to refer to a distinct, specific entity commonly acknowledged to be the God of Judaism and Christianity, the God of the Bible.

When you start lower-casing Santa Claus, Sherlock Holmes, and Allah, Newsweek, then you may let Hitch get away with this cutesiness. Not before.

Via the headlines at Hot Air, where even Hitchens fanboy Allah doesn’t lower-case God except in cases of interjectional “thank God” moments.

Update: I assumed it was obvious, but I guess it should be noted that an advanced search for “god” at newsweek.com shows numerous instances of capitalized “God.” Hitchens did this to make a point and the magazine’s editors supported him. But as I point out on the comments below, while other gods who fall under the umbrella of the lower-case common noun (including God) have identifying proper names (Zeus, etc.), and while God does have other proper names (Jehovah, etc.), God is his most common proper name and thus is capitalized. Hitchens could have made his point in a stylistically correct way by simply referring to “men of the Judeo-Christian god,” but chose to go for the shock value and broke the rules in so doing.

Of All the Editors in the World

Filed under:Blogging,Need a Good Editor?,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on January 8, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

…I never thought I’d have much respect for one at the Huffington Post. I read this post taking Al Gore to task for spreading the nonsense that is human-inflicted global warming climate change last week and was duly shocked that the HP ran it–shocked, surprised, and pleased.

Now Arianna huffs, in an effort to retain her cred with her peeps:

When Ambler sent his post, I forwarded it to one of our associate blog editors to evaluate, not having read it. I get literally hundreds of posts a week submitted like this and obviously can’t read them all — which is why we have an editorial process in place. The associate blog editor published the post. It was an error in judgment. I would not have posted it. Although HuffPost welcomes a vigorous debate on many subjects, I am a firm believer that there are not two sides to every issue, and that on some issues the jury is no longer out. The climate crisis is one of these issues.

Dear Associate Blog Editor at HuffPo: Bravo. Even if you only did it to stir the pot, bravo anyhow. When Arianna fires or disciplines you, I hope you decide you’d rather retain your integrity than that job.

Via Hot Air headlines.

A Letter from My Congressperson!

Filed under:Jerks,Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on December 29, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

Or, How Politicians Lie to Themselves so That They May Lie to Me About My Own Positions

In response to my emailed form asking him to vote NO on the auto bailout:

Dear Ms. Anwyn, If That Is In Fact Your Real Name:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your opposition to government loans for the auto industry. I appreciate knowing your thoughts on this issue.

Well, that’s a relief; I’ve been under the impression members of Congress do not want to know my thoughts on this issue. Oh, right–they don’t:

I understand your concerns with the federal government providing assistance to the auto industry, and I share your anger with the automakers’ business plans’ that focused on production of large SUVs and high-profit luxury vehicles instead of the fuel-efficient vehicles consumers demanded. However, in this economy, when over 1 million have already been lost this year, I believe Congress has a responsibility to protect the 3.3 million jobs GM, Chrysler, and Ford provide for American workers. In Oregon, more than 37,000 jobs are directly liked to the “Big Three” automakers.

Whew! So THAT’S the problem–huge businesses deciding, for kicks, to make a boatload of product that nobody will buy while paying their workers artificially high wages! No, wait–that’s not what they were doing, that’s what Congress actually wants them to do–make bicycle-shaped cars that run on hamster wheels. Should make them solvent in no time flat, yes?

Our nation is facing serious economic turmoil that has been characterized by a sharp downturn in auto sales. While I am deeply concerned about the business decisions that contributed to the automakers inability to respond to our nation’s current economic crisis, I believe we should help the auto industry weather the current economic crisis. That being said, I believe any assistance should be tied with conditions, and the federal government must have broad accountability and oversight powers. These conditions should be based on the automakers overhauling their business foundations for long-term viability.

I voted for the auto industry rescue (H.R. 7321, the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act) when it was considered by the House of Representatives on December 10, 2008. The rescue would have provided up to $15 billion in short-term bridge loans to the automakers. In addition, H.R. 7321 would have created a “Car Czar” to hold the car companies accountable for developing and implementing viable long-term restructuring plans. The bill also would have prohibited participating automakers from providing excessive compensation packages to their executives, including so-called “golden parachutes.”

Well, thank God, as long as somebody’s making concessions.

H.R. 7321 was passed by the House by a vote of 237 to 170. The bill, however, stalled in the Senate, and it now appears unlikely that Congress will enact a rescue package for the automakers before the end of the year.

Hoo-rah-ray and a tiger.

Congress will likely re-consider a revised auto industry rescue when the 111th Congress convenes in January. Although we disagree on this particular issue, I will keep your concerns in mind as Congress debates further auto industry rescue proposals.

No, you won’t. You refused to even acknowledge my concerns, which centered on the UAW’s unreasonable contracts and refusal to make concessions. Because then you might have had to comment on them in this letter.

Thank you again for sharing your views on this issue. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact me at 503-326-2901 or 800-422-4003.

With warm regards,

David Wu
Member of Congress

Please do not respond to this message. This mailbox is unattended. If you wish to contact me, please use my website, www.house.gov/wu. Thank you.

I wonder if ol’ Wu has a staffer who gets off on sitting around, answering emails from constituents by re-stating their position in the way most disconnected from reality, or if he just wrote that one-size-fits-all piece of garbage and they mail it out to everyone who complains, no matter what’s in their email? Your Congress at work! You missed an apostrophe and a few other typos, guys. In the midst of your giggling over your cleverness (“Also, this one’s ticked about pork! Let’s put in ‘we’re just as angry about public money being spent on defense rather than on the homeless as you are’!”) you think you could put down the bong and do some proofreading?

I Can Has Pajamas Media Gig?

Filed under:Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on December 28, 2008 @ 9:07 am

When a Victor Davis Hanson column contains not one but two uses of the misspelled “wierd,” it may be time to hire a copy editor or at least a proofreader, no? I can edit in my PJs just as well as not …

I Can Has TV Guide Gig?

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Television — posted by Anwyn on December 16, 2008 @ 2:26 pm

When your only writing objective (and, apparently, your only task altogether) is to summarize a TV show and you can’t even get the character names right, it’s time to step out of line. Lester, not Larry, as a commenter helpfully notes … and as TV Guide still hasn’t fixed.

Not Even the English Can Write the Queen’s English Any More

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on November 22, 2008 @ 8:22 pm


Its turns out that Mrs Clinton’s delay in accepting the president elect’s offer to be his top foreign policy adviser had much to do with her negotiating the terms of the job and insisting on the right to choose her own state department staff and possibly even some of the plumb Ambassador postings.

and this:

Obama will have in his gift the right to appoint Supreme Court justices, possibly as many as five out of the nine: Roe v Wade, which gives a woman the right to an abortion if she chooses, would be safe.

Assignments and posts are plum, as in the good stuff in plum-cake, not plumb, as in straight. And the appointments themselves are what the president can give, not “the right” to appoint. He appoints them himself; he doesn’t gift that right to anybody else.

An Englishman of my acquaintance refers to two languages: English and “an American derivative.” His English appears to be slowly dying on the pages of his own country’s papers.

Links via, where else, Hot Air.

I’m Glad I Didn’t Know It Was Even an Option

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Television — posted by Anwyn on August 28, 2008 @ 9:13 am

NBC picks up the back half of the upcoming second season of Chuck. I had no idea that was even a question. Best. Show. On. TV.

Blood-boiling industry jargon of the day:

NBC is giving an early vote of confidence to “Chuck,” picking up the back nine episodes of the sophomore skein.

Skein? Where did this even come from? Were they calling seasons “threads” and then needed a fresh word, so they went to “skein?” I hate this. It doesn’t make any sense. A “thread” might be borderline, since you can talk about plot threads, etc. A skein of television shows is just pure, unadulterated nonsense.

And yes, nonsense industry jargon really does make my blood boil. Yes, I know you raise your eyebrows in consternation because inappropriate word use makes my blood boil. That’s why I’m an editor and you’re not.

Two Glides, Two Silvers

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Sports — posted by Anwyn on August 18, 2008 @ 10:49 am

I haven’t been watching the Olympics much, but I did see Phelps get his seventh, and last night I watched the frame-by-frame replay of Phelps vs. Cavic and the whole women’s 50-meter freestyle.

Michael Phelps vs. Milorad Cavic. One one-hundredth of a second difference between gold and silver. Cavic glided while Phelps took another stroke and came out on top by a fingertip.

Dara Torres vs. Britta Steffen. One one-hundredth of a second difference between silver and gold. Torres glided while Steffen took another stroke and came out on top by a fingertip.

No room for coasting in the Olympics.

What up with this quote, AP?

His Olympics looking lost, Michael Phelps decided to flap those gangly arms one more time.

Lost? His whole Olympics would have been lost had he gotten only seven gold medals instead of eight? Yeah, what a loser, all right. The reporter, that is.

Yeah, But If We Did This, We Couldn’t BS Our Way Through Life Nearly As Much

Filed under:Miscellaneous,Need a Good Editor?,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on August 13, 2008 @ 8:33 am

A plan for widespread certification rather than four-year degrees. It makes a lot of sense. I had a conversation not too long ago with an architect who went to a technical school rather than a university, and he talked about how the young college grads in his office struggle to keep their heads above water because their university courses hadn’t taught them about the building codes and laws they need to know to be licensed in their state.

No technical barriers stand in the way of evolving toward a system where certification tests would replace the BA. Hundreds of certification tests already exist, for everything from building code inspectors to advanced medical specialties. The problem is a shortage of tests that are nationally accepted, like the CPA exam.

It makes a lot of sense for editors. Though I doubt individual employers would stop testing individual candidates on their skills as they do now, at least they would know going in what skills those candidates are supposed to have, if they’re certified as having passed tests on the various style manuals, and could stop wasting their time testing everybody with a degree who thought editing looked easy enough for them to do.

Oh wait, except that’s how I got into editing myself. Well, no, not really–I focused on editing as what I really wanted to do, as opposed to what I studied in college, and I passed with flying colors the test my hiring manager gave me. But still, would my employer have looked twice at me under a certification system that I had not entered yet? A widespread system of certification would make it more difficult to change careers in that way, would make it much harder to apply for a new batch of jobs and see what shook out, but then editing is somewhat unique among professions in that it doesn’t necessarily require a specific degree or certification (like passing the bar, for example) but it does test you at the door. Perhaps it is one of very few professions that you can currently switch to relatively easily, as I did, and maybe for people wanting to switch to other professions, a certification system would actually make it easier, in potentially not having to go back to college before being able to switch.

At any rate, the point is well made about cutting through a lot of BS in the four-year system … and in life, as well, including BS like this:

Here’s the reality: Everyone in every occupation starts as an apprentice. Those who are good enough become journeymen. The best become master craftsmen. This is as true of business executives and history professors as of chefs and welders.

I wish that were true, but think back to college, think of that professor whose class you knew was bogus or lightweight. What’s he or she doing there? The dual-pronged BS of the college system: It confers degrees on people who might actually be ready for not much and promotes teachers who lead to the same result. A certification system would certainly require colleges to be more competitive outside the zone. That would be a good thing.

Via Hot Air headlines.

Proliferation of What?

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on June 30, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

We don’t know, just that it’s to be “non-nuclear.”

[Christie Brinkley] is also on the board of directors of the Global Security Institute (they work for world peace and non-nuclear proliferation) and was recently in Rome for the Nobel Laureate Peace Summit.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace