Month: January 2010

Ten Reasons Why Lists Suck

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Actually, I don't have ten, but it's a nice number to project authority on a subject matter, which is why using lists and touting them in a blog post's title helps make the thing go viral. I guess people cannot digest paragraphs, or good ol' expository writing or–heaven help us!–essays anymore. They need lists, so they can have etch little compartments in their tiny little brains and also have food for fodder when trying to sound authoritative on a subject: "Yeah, there are three good reasons why…blah, blah, blah."

So my main (numbers one through ten) reason for generally shunning lists is this–you can't develop a logical argument or a good piece of exposition by hanging it all on lists. Oh, sure, you can squeeze in a list in lots of written pieces, but I'd say for the most part lists are mere shameless expositions of laziness (when it comes to writing) and hasty ploys to go viral for an audience that disdains having to read and be led to a logical conclusion.

When I read the following article on "blogging like the British," I kept trying to figure ways I could use lists on my restaurant review site, but nothing seemed to really fit the challenge. What am supposed to write, something that goes "the ten reasons I hate Jenny's Slop House are…"?

Anyway, the article has lots of good advice in it, but I would not agree that you have to spell out numbers through 100 (read: one hundred). I start using digits at 10, and that's a good enough artifice (most books might say to use digits after ten) for everyday writing.

Categories: Grammar Sucks

To Google or To Tweet, That Is the Question

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Earlier, the Oxford Dictionary named unfriend the Word of the Year, and now the American Dialect Society has proclaimed google (lower case for Web searches) as the Word of the Decade.

Bing, the Microsoft search engine, has chimed in by announcing that Twitter was the most popular word of 2009.

What does all this mean? That we spend too much time on the Net, and we should remind ourselves to get a life in 2010.

Google that, will ya?

Categories: Grammar Sucks

Mark McGwire and Super Acetaminophen

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I guess it’s best to start with the positive (no plural). At least disgraced baseball slugger Mark McGwire had the courage to own up to his steroid abuse–partially anyway.

In admitting yesterday that he had used steroids (whose names he conveniently couldn’t remember), McGwire fell back on what has now become the number-one cop-out defense of their use. He used them for medicinal purposes.

He was okay up until that point, had he just gone on and said he didn’t realize he’d get hooked when he saw what they did for his performance on the field. Instead, during an hourlong interview with Bob Costas, he repeatedly denied that using steroids gave him any performance boost. He instead thanked "The Man Up Above" for his power to whack 70 home runs at an age (34) when most baseball players are fading fast.

Those who have been exposed as steroid users have now fallen on three standard defenses: complete and utter denial (Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds), "I didn’t know I was taking them because they were in a vitamin a teammate gave me" (Rafael Palmiero), and medicinal use (McGwire, Andy Pettitte).

Another approach is MLB-sanctioned and team-complicit silence (Manny Ramirez), but one should expect nothing less from a sleazeball organization like the L.A. Dodgers.

Anyway, call McGwire’s defense "The Super Acetaminophine Explanation":  Using steroids in "low doses" healed my body without giving me any additional strength or endurance, so it was all okay.

Then if it were all okay, why the hell did you break down and cry on TV and make the rounds of apologizing to everyone, including the Roger Maris family? Remember, Mark, they were just pain killers and body healers, not performance enhancers. No need to apologize for that, now is there?

Categories: Grammar Sucks

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