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:


This and that

Yes, it’s a review, but the reader lays down his nickel to find out what’s going on in the world, not to find out what’s going on with the journos telling us what’s going on in the world.

Some years ago I sat on the gusty, sun-drenched roof deck of a beachside hotel in Rio de Janeiro sipping ice tea with Maria Elisa Costa. A half-century earlier, her father, Lúcio Costa, had devised the master plan for Brasília, which is pretty much where a new, extraordinary exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, “Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980,” begins.

(Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times)


Breathless deathless prose

The Baltimore Orioles have closed Wednesday’s game against the White Sox to the public, an unprecedented move in major American sports that means there will be no fans at a Major League Baseball game for the first time ever. The move followed riots and protests in the city that exploded this week after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Updates from what many are calling a “ghost game:”

(Los Angeles Times)

Followed by some Twitter photos (long shot of empty stands; “lots of reporters”; no lines at the women’s restrooms). If it’s the first time, it’s the first time “ever,” so you don’t need “unprecedented,” either. Don’t riots always “explode”? “What many are calling” may save you from an indictment for plagiarism, but not from one for verbiage.


Smile for the apocalypse!


KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Social media is a chronicle of life, and sometimes death. So it should be no surprise that a site of great human and cultural loss in Nepal’s devastating earthquake is now barraged with the clicking of smartphones.

Near Kathmandu’s famed Dharahara Tower, a historic nine-story structure reduced to an enormous pile of red brick dust, dozens of people clambered around the debris clicking selfies and photos of their friends posing in front of the wreckage. The tower built by Nepal’s royal rulers in the 1800s was one of the country’s most treasured monuments, and was photographed far more than other buildings destroyed by Saturday’s quake.

It is unclear how many people were killed in the tower, but it was believed to have been filled with tourists.

Note: If you think there’s anything “new” about visitors going to disaster sites and taking pictures, you haven’t seen the images from the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (for instance). Sometimes the locals would hire themselves out as “corpses” and drape themselves over the rubble to add that special touch.


This and that

To the ever-growing index of expurgated ledes, add the “No, not really” lede, in which the writer says something startling, then lets you in on the joke. Today, a theater review; tomorrow, Page One.

Here’s some unusual tabloid fodder: Anne Hathaway has joined the Air Force!

Well, no, not really. But that Oscar-winning actor gives a fiercely good performance as a cocky pilot raining bombs down on Iraq and Afghanistan in the solo play “Grounded,” by George Brant.

(New York Times)


‘A man walks past’

Every good news photographer carries in his gadget bag 1. A child’s doll, to be dropped in the ruins of a burned house, or shoved into a chain-link fence after a windstorm, 2. A stuffed duck, for flood stories, and 3. This guy.




Next time, you auto look it up

Owning a limited copy of a unique commemorative artwork is quite a coupe.

(WA Today, Australia)


Try that again






A woman was literally swallowed by the ground below her when the London sidewalk she was walking along collapsed on Thursday morning, according to officials and witnesses.


A spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, said investigators were trying to get the bottom what happened.

(NBC News)


Wooden ships, iron men, clattering Teletypes

I typed a headline and attached it to a carefully edited story pieced together from a dozen new leads and multiple rewrites from both wire services. Delivering the long strip of pasted-up, marked-up copy to the slot man, I got up without saying much and went for a cup of coffee.

I remember feeling terribly sad and empty.

(Tyler Morning Telegraph)


This and that

If only we had a system of rewards to encourage reporters to look into these things.

The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig won the National Reporting award for work that helped shake up the Secret Service after a series of security lapses. But the Pulitzer Board’s decision may prove controversial given that Leonnig erroneously described a security guard who rode in an elevator with President Barack Obama as a convicted “felon” in one of the articles submitted. The Post didn’t correct Leonnig’s report for more than a month after publication, ultimately doing so only a day before Kenneth Tate, the security guard who accompanied Obama in the elevator, revealed himself in The New York Times and provided a much different account than Leonnig’s anonymous sources had.

Another one of Leonnig’s prizewinning stories was a May 2014 report about Operation Moonlight, a Secret Service operation in which agents were reportedly diverted from their jobs to protect a personal friend of the agency’s director. Leonnig’s sources said that the operation went on for more than two months, but an Inspector General report later found “no evidence” that it lasted more than a few days.

Leonnig also came under scrutiny last month after publishing a bombshell story about allegations of Secret Service agents drunkenly crashing a car at the White House. The incident now appears far less dramatic given that the two agents didn’t appear intoxicated to senior officials on the scene, and that surveillance video showed the pair simply nudging a traffic cone. That story, published in March 2015, was not eligible for consideration for this year’s Pulitzer Prize.

(Huffington Post)


This and that

Never let the facts get in the way, etc.

The BBC World Service has admitted falling victim to a hoaxer who informed listeners that the Star Wars films are homophobic and that Darth Vader is “a bad racial stereotype” who listens to rap music.


Failng to spot the absurdity of his tweet – or the Twitter bio in which he describes himself as a “demisexual genderqueen Muslim atheist” – Sheeran invited him to appear on the World Have Your Say programme, where he gave a po-faced assessment of the franchise’s socio-political failings.

(The Telegraph)


This and that


 A World War II-era aircraft carrier was found on the ocean floor near California’s Farallon Islands and it’s looking great. Despite being underwater since 1951, the USS Independence CVL-22 is “amazingly intact,” said officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sonar images even show what could be an airplane sitting in the carrier’s hangar bay.

“After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes,” James Delgado, maritime heritage director for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said in a statement. “This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pacific and after the war was subjected to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship.”

(NBC News)

And by “amazingly intact” is meant “uh-oh” (if that “subjected to two atomic blasts” didn’t register).





HALF MOON BAY — In a ghostly reminder of the Bay Area’s nuclear heritage, scientists announced Thursday they have captured the first clear images of a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay.

The USS Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. The Navy deliberately sank the contaminated ship in 1951 south of the Farallon Islands.



This and that


On this date in 1755, Samuel Johnson published A Dictionary of the English Language, which includes in his Preface this salutary reminder:

“Those who have been persuaded to think well of my design will require that it should fix our language and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto been suffered to make in it without opposition. With this consequence I will confess that I flattered myself for a while; but now begin to fear that I have indulged in expectation which neither reason nor experience can justify. When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation.”


Incidentally, did you pass over without registering the singular they in the passage from Johnson’s Preface?

(Baltimore Sun)

Johnson, the good Englishman, sometimes treated nation as a collective singular noun, sometimes as a plural, depending on context.* He shows elsewhere in the passage that he has no problem getting pronouns to agree with their antecedents.

* Another reason to honor Lincoln during the Civil War sesquicentennial celebrations: The savior of the Union firmly put the American language on the path to treating United States as a singular and not a plural collective.



And then I stopped reading

Whether it’s through experience or innate talent, good copy editors are superpowered — able to see what others miss. Here are five superpowers that all copy editors possess.

X-Ray Vision

A good copy editor is able to spot a typo a mile away. Their

(Business 2 Community)


Because I felt like it, that’s why

(CNN)It’s not going to be enough to slake the thirst of the elusive Mars bunny, but sScientists say new research seems to support the theory indicates that what looks like a bone-dry red planet Mars during the day could be dotted with tiny puddles of salty water at night.



Help wanted. Also, shut up.

Job description

If you are interested in applyign for this apposition you wil copy-edit this piece of text and send it on to loren at the email address below as proof of your competency and skills at copyediting. We also want a cv. We are looking for meticulous copy-editor and an excellent writer to work on a range of exciting clients for our agency. We dont want chancer. Our team are happy that we have great client base and nice projects too work on in pubic relatoins.

Its hard to find someone who may copy edit really well that is why we are filtering all job applicants with this text. If you really are a decent   Copy Editor you will spot all the deliberate miss steaks, and correct them and send them and it to us as clean copy for us to look at. You may edit the words and the text and the grammar and the speling, you may even right it a bit better for us. Its not hard to do if you are a word smith who really knows his or her stuff and loves words which is what our companys need is right now.

You are applying four a fulltime job in a team of we are ten people who work mostly design-related. None are unattractive. The salary is negotiabel depending on experience. We wood prefer to hire someone which has worked on mags before but wood really like to sea a knew challenge.   Goodluck!!!! If u do not do this copy test then your application wont be considered sadly. Were Capetown based.


“We dont want chancer”? Cancer? Chanteuses?