As Simple as 12345

The United States Postal Service (USPS), that darling of Benjamin Franklin and his vision for America now gone virtually bust in the face of the digital revolution, created the ZIP code in 1963. The Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) was introduced in 1944 by Robert Moon, but it took nearly 20 seasons of moons for the […]

The End of Reading?

Letter writing has definitely gone bye-bye in favor of 140-character Tweets, misspelled and garbled emails and text messages, and shout outs in all their various forms, but now a noted editor and journalist has driven the last nail in literacy’s coffin by declaring the end of reading. Tina Brown (pictured),  recently departed from both Newsweek […]

‘Silly Remarks’ at Gettysburg

I don’t know what they do today in public schools, but back in the Pleistocene when I studied Latin, trigonometry and the classics (or pretended to anyway), they made us all memorize and perform Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Not sure about classroom recitals these days, maybe students memorize Jay Z lyrics or lines from Quentin […]

‘That’re’ Contraction Not Real English

Contractions are a handy feature in English grammar, allowing us to combine a couple of words into one. Contractions such as we’re and they’re are fine, but I just received an email using the would-be contraction that’re, which is completely bogus and not acceptable in standard English. Another such unacceptable contraction would be there’re. Though […]

Orwellian, or Politics as Usual?

When I came across reports of the following “clarification” of his health care promise by President Obama, I immediately thought 1984, Brave New World and all that stuff. But first let’s see what he said yesterday: “If you have or had one of these [health insurance] plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law […]

‘What I Didn’t Know’

…is a nice piece of writing by Christopher Kimball in the November-December 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated, of which he is the editor. Kimball, like Julia Child before him, is not only a master chef but a master at writing English as well. His columns are down to earth but ultimately meaningful, personal and life-affirming […]