The Oxford Comma Rides Again

images.jpgA Maine court ruling in a case about overtime pay and dairy delivery didn’t come down to trucks, milk, or money. Instead, it hinged on one missing comma.

The serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma for its endorsement by the Oxford University Press style rulebook, is a comma used just before the coordinating conjunction (“and,” or “or,” for example) when three or more terms are listed. You’ll see it in the first sentence of this story—it’s the comma after “milk”—but you won’t find it in the Maine overtime rule at issue in the Oakhurst Dairy case. According to state law, the following types of activities are among those that don’t qualify for overtime pay:

The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

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Words To Remember

 

A valuable clip from How to Write Articles and Essays Quickly and Expertly by Stephen Downes:

  • Argument: convinces someone of something
  • Explanation: tells why something happened instead of something else
  • Definition: states what a word or concept means
  • Description: identifies properties or qualities of things.

imgres.jpgI know these words are often found in other contexts, especially in the computer world (arguments = parameters). But what is important to remember is that these are all neutral words. By this I mean that they each can be used for Evil as well as for Good: an argument might convince someone of something false or dangerous; an explanation might be based on a falsehood; a definition might be chosen to advance a mendacious agenda; and a description might be designed to create a false image of a person, place, or situation.

We see a lot of this sort of stuff in politics these days.

Porn is the secret of my future success

Excerpted from article by Lydia Millet in Salon:

I've spent years writing books. Novels, no less. And for what?
I'm turning my hand to the one thing that pays. Sex

lydia_millet2-620x412It seems to me that the time for subtlety, in our American life, has passed. Do we look for subtlety in news media nowadays? In pop music? In fashion? In TV, movies? Even in visual art, is subtlety what we seek out and richly reward? Do we seek delicate phraseology in politics or other forms of public life?

We do not.

Why, then, is literary fiction, that boutique culture where I’ve set up my modest shop, such a stubborn holdout? One thing: sheer arrogance! We offer no popcorn, no concessions of any kind, not the Raisinets, not the sour gummy worms, not the Junior Mints. We offer no booming sound system. We offer no beautiful actors. We offer no dance performances and only the most minimal costuming. We certainly don’t offer libations. Not even wine or beer. Much less cocktails. Strictly BYOB.

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Show, Don’t Tell

There is an old saying in the study of writing that suggested the author should demonstrate his ideas and themes in his narrative and not just tell the reader through boring exposition. The same is true about religious extremists and brain-dead politicians.

Booker

Unfortunately most religious extremists and greedy politicians are not even interested in hearing the truth so Booker’s eloquence is lost in the mendacity of the oligarchy.