Monday, March 30, 2015

Clue-free rules

If you think your rules for hyphens require you to create compounds where compounds fear to tread, please think again. This case is not about flag-free speech at schools. It's a free-speech case* about wearing the American flag as clothing at school. Even if you shrink at saying "top court" or "high court" for the Supreme Court, surely you'd make an exception here, just to unstack "school flag free speech case."

* I can't find the story on the Eagle site; this appears to be the hometown version of the original. The court has declined to grant certiorari. I think it's kind of cool that an amicus brief was filed on behalf of the Tinker plaintiffs.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Crash blossom test dummy

Looks like we have a frontrunner in the Ill-Placed Crash Blossom of the (still-young) Year competition, thanks to the ever-tasteful Drudge.

The Times's hed -- "Plane Crash Tests Germany's Faith in Its Precision" -- doesn't take you up the garden path: Crash tests (are) cherished notions. Pesky English!

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Today in arithmetic

Sometimes, the journalistic number system seems to have been borrowed from "Watership Down": One, two, three, whatever.

The Download feature last Sunday misstated the recent anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. It was the 70th anniversary, not the 50th.

Here's the (now-corrected) passage that set the correction in motion:

With the 70th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden last month, I thought I would take the opportunity to read Vonnegut’s satirical view. Anniversaries are very good ways of prompting us to concentrate on different things.

Right -- for example, whether the late stages of World War II in Europe were going on at the same time as the American civil rights movement.

I hope it doesn't scare young editors when we say "do the math." Usually, we don't mean anything more fearsome than "do the arithmetic." But the main word is "do": When you see two numbers, or two numbers that imply a third number, do something with them.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Always at war with... wait, what?

There seems to have gone out a decree from Caesar Augustus: Be scared! No, scarederer! Could we suggest that, if they really want to make the fear appeal work, certain media outlets need to spend a little more time in the files?

Not to say no one's going into the files at all -- the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, for instance, is recycling a photo from February 2014 to illustrate the "DANGER AT SEA" posed by Iran. Interestingly, in that case, the story it illustrated was there to point out that the two Iranian dreadnoughts headed straight for our precious bodily fluids electric grid were in real life "a pair of 'rust buckets' Tehran is using to prove to its people it can project power around the globe."

The Washington Times documents a different outcome of Kenyan fecklessness:

The United States is now Iran’s air force.

Good thing we've already sent them the antiaircraft missiles, huh?

The recycling-without-reading prize, though, goes to Times Editor Emeritus Wes Pruden. After a few did-this-in-Caesar-seem-ambitious paragraphs that cover the golf, the Islam and the bust of Churchill comes this:

The president even loves Israel, but in his way. It’s tough love to bring the Jews to heel. Just as Secretary of State John Kerry is topping up a deal to satisfy the mullahs in Iran, comes the news that the United States has declassified a 386-page report that reveals in minute detail Israel’s super-discreet nuclear program. Everybody knows Israel has one, but until now Israel, with American support, has never acknowledged it. To do so, all mature hands have agreed, could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Is there a fixed number of times the party press has to be reminded of this?* The prize for unveiling the "super-discreet nuclear program" goes to ... the party press itself: Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times. Unless you want to give a few points for effort to Ehud Olmert in 2006:

“Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?”

As Fox itself noted -- in a rather detailed explanation of the Nixon administration's frustration over Israel's nuclear program -- Olmert's aides said he was describing responsible states, not nuclear ones. Oddly, though, there doesn't seem to be any record of the Times calling for any Fox reporters' heads on plates. No doubt that's because we were still at war with Eurasia Eastasia.

* The link suggests the original hed: wesley-pruden-obama-reveals-israels-nuclear-progra/

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Dear Wheeler: You provide the prose poems ...

Even amid the haste to do the Party's bidding, there's always room for some elongated yellow fruit at The Washington Times!

The gentle sea cow is the latest draftee in the nation’s ongoing “war on coal.”

Congressional Republicans have rushed to the manatee’s defense in an effort to slow new carbon emissions regulations, while the Obama administration is rejecting claims its forthcoming rules on coal-fired power plants will pose a direct threat to the Florida habitat of the endangered bulbous marine mammals.


Particularly if you remember the War On Birds, you'll want to read the whole thing!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Poorly attached modifier of the week

What are those pesky American officials up to now, The Washington Examiner?

Suspected for years of plotting to dismantle the U.S. electric grid, American officials have confirmed that Iranian military brass have endorsed a nuclear electromagnetic pulse explosion that would attack the country's power system.
Can we get a ruling from the Fellowship of the Predicative Adjunct?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today in noun piles

With a side of claim quotes! Thanks, BBC.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nouning weirds language

By the standards of the redtops, this wouldn't even count as a particularly interesting noun pile, except for -- you know, the noun. And even that is pretty straightforward: A confession becomes a "fess" in the same way a slaying becomes a "slay." The only odd part -- unless the Post is now in the habit of complaining about Those Kids using their 'phones on the crosstown 'bus -- is the apostrophe that marks the clipping in 'fess.
The inside hed also helps you infer a few things about tabloid attribution practice. The quote in the story is "What the hell did I do? . . . Killed them all of course," so the more fastidious version leaves "I" out of the quote. And the standard Old Editor response to a televised admission is that it's a confession when it's admitted in court, not when it's given to some goober with a microphone -- hence the second pair of quotes around "confession." Maybe libel lawyers know better than to think anyone believes the front page anyway?

As for why a distant slay (even one attributed to "bizarre real estate heir and longtime murder suspect Robert Durst") is jostling for frontpage space with basketball, while the usurper is still plotting to give away the nuclear candy store and the Hildebeest* is frantically subverting justice -- well, that's why we have tabloids, innit?

* Almost certainly not coined by either of the Obamas, in case you're scoring along at home. Consider the source.

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