Metaphor gone wild

If coal were a medical patient, its prognosis would be creeping toward the critical list.

Despite the major forces trying to align to save it, coal’s future as a major energy source is being attacked by a variety of pathogens: government regulations, market forces and moral arguments. As a result, government charts plotting coal’s life expectancy look like the flat vital signs of a very sick patient.

(Inside Climate News)

Also, flat vital signs indicate a dead patient, not a “very sick patient.”


Buzz at the Times

We are sad to announce that Michael Gold and Tim Herrera will be leaving us to join The New York Times. The pair started at The Post within weeks of each other (just over a year ago) and are departing within days. Michael’s last day is May 29 and Tim’s last day is May 27. …

During his time with us, Tim wrote several buzzy stories, including pieces on what Facebook doesn’t show you and how he stopped eating food that comes in a package.

(Washington Post memo via Poynter)

Well, we can understand why the Times would want him.


Testy Business Copy Editor

I hate to say it, but the machine-written story is better (especially if you delete the crap about forecasts and earnings per share). The human-written story is a train wreck. (NPR)





Doesn’t look secret to us



This and that

Try the pesto sacchettini. Avoid the diesel.

We take it for granted that we’ll have to pump our own gas and bus our own dishes at Panera Bread.

(New York Times Book Review)


This and that

Recently his officers pulled over a Chevy Blazer driven by a couple with three children in tow.

(New York Times)

We’re guessing it was the three children tied to the bumper and being dragged along behind that first alerted the police.



Let’s not get ahead of ourselves

Tsarnaev was sentenced to death. He will get the death penalty if and when he’s executed. 



This and that

* Things are getting a bit tense in comments these days, so in an attempt to make this environment more civil, I’m going to start banning more words.

Words like “moron,” “idiot,” etc. are currently banned now. You might be able to see your posts, but nobody else can. I’ve too often allowed those words to slip through the net, but no longer.

This morning, I banned “dope” and “stupid.” If you use those words, your comment will not post. There will be no exceptions. I’m tired of the vitriol. Repeat violators will be banned for life.

* This is not a public space. This website belongs to me. No one has an inherent right to say anything that comes to their minds here. Go scream in a park, or on a street corner or wherever. Not here.

You’re obviously free to disagree with me, the subject of a post, another commenter or whatever your heart desires. But the level of hostility is just getting out of hand. So keep it civil or you’re gone.

(Capitol Fax, Illinois) Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.



This and that

SYDNEY, Australia — Search crews looking for a Malaysia Airlines jet believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean have found the remnants of a shipwreck — including an anchor and possibly a ship’s bell — resting on the seabed almost two and a half miles down.

It is not what searchers were hoping to find. Paul Kennedy, search director for Fugro Survey, a division of a Dutch company hired by the Australian government to look for wreckage from the Boeing 777-200 flying as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said the debris was not from the jet.

(New York Times)

Must be some other jetliner’s anchor and ship’s bell.





Omit needless words

Make “storm” “storms,” drop “systems” and you get another word to play with.



This and that

I’m sensing a future Associated Press Stylebook entry.

The World Health Organization doesn’t want researchers and scientists naming newly discovered diseases and ailments using any people names or locations, as the practice can prove negative in either scenario.

The global organization is urging the research, scientific, governmental and media industries to follow some best practices regarding the naming of new human infectious ailments as naming conventions have proven to be unnecessarily negative to the name or geographic location.

“In recent years, several new human infectious diseases have emerged. The use of names such as ‘swine flu’ and ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome’ has had unintended negative impacts by stigmatizing certain communities or economic sectors,” explains Dr. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security, WHO.

(Tech Times)


Seems like stealing to us

Such is the reality of entertaining in the White House: Despite the elegant setting, or maybe because of it, there’s always a risk items might disappear into visitors’ pockets, purses and other hiding places.

Most of the pilfering is minor: towels embossed with the presidential seal from the washroom, or cheap spoons the White House rents from a caterer for large parties. Other items are pricier, including the place-card holders, small silver spoons and cut-glass pieces dangling from sconces in the women’s washroom.

The “stealing” is not new and is reflective of the enduring high regard in which people hold the presidency and the power it represents.

(Washington Post)

Why is “stealing” in quotes?



Testy Business Copy Editor

Tribune Publishing completed its second full quarter as a separate company with results much like the rest of the industry, eking out a small profit but still facing revenue declines.

Net earnings were $2.5 million for the first quarter of 2015 on revenues of $396 million.  That’s a profit margin of 0.6 percent. In the same period in 2014, the business earned $12 million.

Revenues fell 4.9 percent total, 5.7 percent in advertising year to year. CEO Jack Griffin pointed out in a conference call with analysts that the rate of decline was an improvement on the last quarter of 2014 when it was 10 percent..

The results are not strictly comparable because Tribune Publishing was still operating as a division of Tribune Co. in the first quarter of 2015 and has added a few properties since.


Acutally, the quarter-to-quarter numbers are not “comparable” at all.


The third sex

Millennials as well as men were most likely in the survey to say that they would take a pay cut, forgo a promotion or be willing to move to manage work-life demands better.

(Washington Post)


This and that

And that was the moment. I could have said something. I really wanted to say something. I’m a writer; whole sentences sprang into my mind. I could sense mounting clouds of invective building up in the primitive areas of my brain. I found several crushing retorts; I only had to choose among them.

But what I said was, “Thank you.” Not a very sincere “thank you”; still, that’s what came out of my mouth. Why? Years of spiritual work, I think, coupled with intense therapy and practice of anger-softening techniques. Or that could be a lie. It could be that I’ve had to live with copy editors for many, many decades.

Not everyone gets that privilege; I understand that. Some people have described embracing maturity as a way to hasten personal growth; that, sadly, doesn’t work for me. For me it’s something else: Whenever I open my mouth to say something intemperate, I hear the ghostly echoes of one of those notes that copy editors routinely send along.

“J: Are you sure you mean ‘scumbag’ here? It originally meant ‘used condom,’ and it retains that sense of describing something disgusting. Latterly, it’s come to mean either (a) a person (usually male) who abuses his power in sundry unscrupulous and creepy ways, or (b) what used to be called a ‘cad’ or a ‘bounder.’ The receptionist has no power; he is only carrying out the policies of a larger faceless entity. You could try ‘pencil-neck bureaucrat’ or something similar.”

“J: It is not true to say that Kaiser is the ‘jumped-up fever dream of a guilt-ridden cement mogul.’ The idea for the health plan was not original with Henry J. Kaiser, who was better known as a shipbuilder than as a paving contractor. Also, he was hardly ‘jumped up’; when the Kaiser Permanente health plan was started, he’d been in business almost 35 years. Could suggest ‘rapacious industrialist and Jeffrey Tambor look-alike.’”

“J: ‘Begs the question’ doesn’t mean what you think it means. You’re using it to mean ‘raises’ the question, when actually it means using an unsupported statement to bolster an argument. Thus, ‘and all that begs the question of whether you’re a soulless cyborg’ is meaningless. Try the direct, forceful statement: ‘You are a soulless cyborg.’”

And by the time that tape stops running through my head, I am halfway to the elevator, brilliant whimsical rejoinders lost in a maze of formalistic objections. And yet I am happy — every time a copy editor has talked me down from the edge of malice, it’s been a good thing. In life as in work; always best to edit.



We’re not all ‘Americans’

More than 18.3 million Americans visited the nation’s capital last year, marking the fifth straight year of record-breaking domestic tourism, according to report to be released Tuesday by D.K. Shifflet and Associates, a travel research firm, as well as Destination DC, the city’s nonprofit tourism arm. That’s an increase of roughly 900,000 visitors–or a 5.2 percent uptick–over 2013.

(Washington Post)

The 18.3 million actually  is the number of visitors from the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2014, according to Kate Gibbs, a spokeswoman for Destination DC. Many non-Americans live in those countries. Media widely throw the term “American” around carelessly.

Destination DC calls travel from the U.S., Canada and Mexico “domestic,” by the way.





Hed writer! Stat!

Eh, it’s too late.



Albany Republican-Democrat

Yes, really, from the Albany, N.Y., Times Union



Stylebook latest

AP hasn’t made up its mind about the idiot epicene, so the copywriter for its Amazon page for the 2015 Stylebook makes up AP’s mind for it (or them).

The style of the Associated Press is the gold standard for news writing. With The AP Stylebook in hand, you can learn how to write and edit with the clarity and professionalism for which they are famous. Fully revised and updated, this new edition contains more than 3,000 A to Z entries—including more than 200 new ones—detailing the AP’s rules on grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, and word and numeral usage. You’ll find answers to such wide-ranging questions as: