Wednesday, July 01, 2015

VIII score and seven years ago

How about those Roman numerals, Ask The Editor?
Q. The Roman numerals entry doesn't make clear AP's stance on movies. Would it be "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" or "Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope" or "Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope"? – from New York on Wed, Jul 01, 2015
A. Star Wars: Episode VIII
Thanks for clearing that up.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Today in BENGHAZI !!!!!!!!!!!

Skulduggery, jiggery-pokery, applesauce; the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is on the case!

New documents released by a federal court show President Obama called then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the night of the 2012 Benghazi attack -- but the contents are being withheld by the State Department.

It had previously been disclosed that Clinton and Obama spoke the night of the terror attacks.

Well, that takes some of the fun out of your exclusive.

But the documents offer additional information about the timing of the call -- after the initial attack on the U.S. consulate, but before the second wave where mortars hit the nearby CIA annex and killed former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty. 

It's going to take a while, but eventually the importance of the timing becomes clear:

... Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement: "It is little wonder that Mrs. Clinton and the entire Obama administration have fought so hard to keep these documents from the American people -- they shine a spotlight on the administration's incompetence and indifference. All evidence now points to Hillary Clinton, with the approval of the White House, as being the source* the Internet video lie." 

In other words, it's time to bring out our favorite Fox lead story from -- could it be Sept. 12, 2012?

Here's the small type, should you be having trouble:

URGENT: Unconfirmed reports of US envoy, three others killed in attack on American embassy in Libya as Muslims angered by online film ridiculing prophet Muhammed launch violent and deadly protests in Libya and Egypt.

It's going to be a long campaign season if we have to bring this up every few weeks, you guys.

* The missing preposition is Fox's, not mine.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Style reminders

A few style reminders as the weekend draws to a close. We've been over some of these before, but just in case:

The term for a female doctor is "doctor"
The term for an adopted daughter is "daughter"
The term for a gay marriage is "marriage"


And one more thing:
The group on the left is the Supreme Court. The group on the right is the Supremes. Please take note of this distinction when writing headlines for a grownup audience.

These rules apply in my shop. You are, of course, free to write your own. If you don't like the advice, ask the boy at the front desk about our money-back guarantee.


Hullo, sweetie!

Did the Nation's Newspaper of Record simply not get the message about what happens when you cross your own timeline?

Ms. Martinez de Luco likes to cite a biblical passage from Leviticus in which Jesus tells farmers to leave some fallen grain behind for the needy.

Sunday's correction:

An article in some editions last Sunday about Ana Martinez de Luco, a Catholic nun who runs a can and bottle redemption center in Brooklyn, paraphrased incorrectly from a passage in Leviticus that she likes to cite. It is God, not Jesus, who tells farmers to leave some fallen grain behind for the needy.

It will be noted by Friends of the Loyal Order of the Passive Voice how much better the offending paragraph sounds now:

Ms. Martinez de Luco likes to cite a biblical passage from Leviticus in which farmers are told to leave some fallen grain behind for the needy.

The sourcing is pretty clear in the original, but I still like the way the object is fronted here.

Should the wise editor go after "biblical" as a Needless Word here -- on grounds that anyone who's gotten this far into a Times story about a nun already has a pretty good idea that Leviticus is somewhere in the Bible? Sure. But at least we can be grateful that the Times didn't call it a Gospel passage.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Antonin Scalia, writing coach

What's the lone bright sunbeam of the day over at The Daily Caller?

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution recognizes same-sex marriage, but Justice Antonin Scalia spun up a scorching dissenting opinion lambasting the court for its decision.

“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” Scalia wrote.

Good to know we've got an editor on the case -- especially the since it's the editor who just this week single-handedly restored "jiggery-pokery" to its rightful place in the American vernacular. And the one who, in the same dissent, puts the apostrophe back in "o'erweening." And who, modestly reminding his audience that he went to Harvard, isn't interested in how they do things over at Cornell:

I join the Chief Justice's dissent in full. I write separately to call attention to this Court's threat to American democracy. ("Do not overstate. When you overstate, readers will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in their minds because they have lost confidence in your judgment or your poise.")

Huh? ... What say? ("Do not affect a breezy manner. ... 'Spontaneous me,' sang Whitman, and, in his innocence, let loose the hordes of uninspired scribblers who would one day confuse spontaneity with genius. The breezy style is often the work of an egocentric, the person who imagines that everything that comes to mind is of general interest and that uninhibited prose creates high spirits and carries the day.")

But that risks getting ahead of the hippie joke, which really hit the style button at TDC:

He went on, his style* some of the most inflammatory we’ve seen from the court.

“‘The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.’ (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”

Uh ... groovy. But for some reason, The Daily Caller omits the following line:

Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.

Two things. One, "The Honeymooners" was not a documentary. Two, from the vantage point of a "long-lasting marriage": Ur doin it wrong.

* OK, one more quote from the masters:

"He's supposed to have a particularly high-class style: 'Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole' ... would that be it?"

"Yes," said the Managing Editor. "That must be good style."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's history, not ... wait, what?

This error is particularly amusing when it's top of the page for the foamy-mouthed party press, normally given over to great glee when libruls demonstrate their ignerance of history and gunz and things like that.

Getting the Confederate battle flag confused with the Stars and Bars (that's you, The Washington Times, and you, Fair 'n' Balanced Network) is actually kind of a Secret Handshake thing. Like spelling the plural "ya'll," it marks you as, um, somewhat less than the real thing -- someone who isn't really paying attention. Meaning that when you say "It's HURRITAGE, not hate," the rest of us can be forgiven for thinking: Clearly not heritage, so that narrows things down a little.

There is a contender for Genuinely Deranged Articulation of the Existential Threat to All We Hold Dear, but first, we need to actually commend the Charlotte Observer for running a "Stars and Bars" headline with a picture of -- the Stars and Bars! Nice job, you lot.

Anyway, you'll want to enjoy Todd Starnes's column about the looming apocalypse* for yourself. Here's a taste:

A full-fledged cultural cleansing of the Southern States is under way - and the latest victim is the General Lee.

Warner Brothers announced they will remove the Confederate Flag from atop one of the most famous cars in television history. They will also ban any Dukes of Hazzard merchandise that once sported the Confederate flag.

I have some very, very bad news for Todd. "The Dukes of Hazzard" is not actually an artifact of Southern culture. Nor, for that matter, is "The Beverly Hillbillies" (Lester and Earl, on the other hand, are the real thing.)

Things get much sillier from there, and the week is young.

* Wednesday's version; the original seems to have been scrubbed.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

They all look alike

Q: Do all blues singers look alike at the Nation's Newspaper of Record?
A: Looks that way:
An obituary on Friday about the jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman referred incorrectly to the blues singer Clarence Samuels, with whom Mr. Coleman worked early in his career. He was not blind.

Q: No, I don't mean "do they all see alike?" I'm wondering if all musicians look alike!
A: Apparently:
Because of an editing error, a jazz entry in the Listings pages on Friday about Eric Revis, at the Jazz Gallery in Manhattan, referred incorrectly to the pianist in Mr. Revis’s trio. The pianist, Kris Davis, is a woman.

I'm fine with "because of an editing error" in this case; someone knows the trio and its work well enough to refer to "the fearlessly introspective pianist Kris Davis," and that person shouldn't have to explain the Times's gender biases to an annoyed musician. Given that "the pianist Kris Davis" is also listed elsewhere in town later in the week, a wake-up call is probably useful -- but I'd like to know it's been sounded behind the writer who thought every blues singer's first name is "Blind," too.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Don't bogart that national security exclusive

Bear in mind, this isn't just any old exclusive: It's moved up to the No. 2 spot at this writing, and it's competing with another Lois Lerner tale, the latest on Rodham Hood's anti-media campaign, and the tasteful shark follow-up hedded "Bit his whole arm off." So let's have a look at how many layers of qualification there might be between the headline and -- oh, let's call it the "evidence":
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was apparently “high” with a small group of Afghan soldiers when they were picked up by nomads in 2009, according to a former CIA operative who was running a network of informants on the ground.
Good so far?
... "The call came in and what it said was they had just broken out the message that an American soldier along with two or three Afghan soldiers had been captured or taken by a group of nomads," Duane 'Dewey' Clarridge told Fox News, speaking for the first time publicly about the incident.
Well, never let your mom throw out your baseball cards. The Duane 'Dewey' Clarridge? Speaking publicly for the first time about the incident?
He added that the call said, “they were using the Pashto ‘diwana,’ which in this case meant high on hashish."
Read more »

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