It seems a week doesn’t go by without the New York Times doing a story on Detroit. I don’t think it’s ever been something I didn’t know about already, but that’s the Times’ job — to be the gatekeeper and curator of Our Vast Interesting Nation for its readers. To the extent that they’re trying to dispel the image of Detroit in the right-wing media, i.e., Detroit is a place where women have sex with pit bulls in dank drug houses (thanks, Weekly Standard!), I approve.
Anyway, everyone who lives here and pays even minimal attention knows the Slows Barbecue story. I see the piece also dug up that obscure, underexposed source, Toby Barlow. But it’s nice to see Supino’s Pizza getting some love — I like to stop here on Saturdays from time to time, but since I’m almost always alone, I have yet to try their signature pie, the Bismarck, which features an egg cracked over the top just before it goes into the oven. They don’t sell that one by the slice. One of these days.
Next stop for the NYT will doubtless be Saturday’s Halloween party at Theater Bizarre; fingers crossed they overcome the downside of success before that. Which is? What else?
Organizers say the city is demanding they get a temporary liquor license to give away beer to patrons — and fear inspectors will issue more requirements in days leading to Saturday’s affair.
Alan and I went to one of their summer events a couple years ago, and I was delighted to see Detroit police officers mingling through the crowd, which was peaceful and fun-loving. This Saturday-night party is truly one of a kind, and it would be a tragedy to see it shut down over this. (Hear that, Republican readers? I am coming out against regulation.) Watch the video at that link. That gives you a good sense of the place.
What else is going on this weekend? Elsewhere in the same story:
On Tuesday, the City Council denied a permit for a Highland Park company that has operated a “haunted bus tour” for a month through East Robinwood near Woodward. Organizers from Creative Images and Things acknowledged the desolate, burned-out street made a perfect stage for the 15-minute tours that include fake zombie attacks. But council members worried about a lack of streetlights — and the city’s image.
“I just think it sends the wrong message at this time,” council President Charles Pugh said.
For the record, I disapprove; most of the houses on this street are abandoned, but not all of them, and the poor souls who are stuck here deserve better than to have a bunch of suburban d-bags rolling through in buses, not to mention the fake zombies. (This is the street, by the way; Jim at Sweet Juniper put together a panorama that gives you an idea.) However, Charles Pugh’s silly comment almost makes me want to take the opposite view.
This has been a long, exhausting week. I know I say that every week, but this week is super-duper long and extra-schmextra exhausting. Productive, though — that always mitigates things. But I’m ready for the weekend. Let’s see what sort of bloggage we can dig up:
Scott Lemieux on Juan Williams. Key passage:
For the role of being a Washington Generals Potemkin “liberal” on Fox News, his former NPR affiliation, lazy sub-mediocrity and uncritical immersion in shallow center-right conventional wisdom are major assets.
Exactly right, and this is why, while I disapprove of the current practice of booting pundits for not being perfect, I can’t get upset about this one. Williams never dispensed a single comment, anywhere, that I found insightful or even interesting. Booting Dave Weigel from the WashPost was a loss. This? Not so much.
CDC finds regional disparities in teen-pregnancy rate. Bottom line:
Whatever the reason, the regional disparities are stark. In Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, for instance, 2008 birth rates were less than 25 per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19, CDC found. In the same year, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas all had rates topping 60 per 1,000 teens.
Mississippi had the country’s highest rate (65.7), CDC says, while New Hampshire had the lowest (19.8).
Leslie Kantor, national education director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the report “makes it crystal clear that the teen birthrate is lower in states that provide students with comprehensive, evidence-based sex education.”
I think there’s more to it than that, but it’s interesting just the same.
Clarence Thomas’ old girlfriend says he loved the porno. Shocked, shocked, etc.
The weekend awaits, eventually. Hope yours is great.
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 9:39 am
Well, the young folks* and I’ve been on a public school-related roll lately, going to school board meetings downtown, and school meetings at South Side, and then a particularly interesting meeting last night at North Side, where Tony Bennett (not the singer), Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction slipped into town, held a lively public meeting that went on for 21/2 hours, and then rolled out. I’ll give the guy credit – he took every question that anyone had, and answered (more or less) directly, if not bluntly. (I went after him for including “Charter Schools” in his Power Point agenda for reforming the schools, and he gave me a somewhat cool assurance that FWCS was acting vigorously, blah blah blah – and in any case, if it came to that, there would be a public hearing first, including him and the state board, etc etc)
Tonight, it’s off to the Senate debate, where we get to see a Central Casting, old school bag-man (Coats) versus new-comer (statewide, anyway) Ellsworth. The Dark Side is having a good inning (thanks, Evan Bayh), but we’re only to the intermission of President Obama’s** administration, and I suspect he’ll have a stirring second reel – leading to a happy ending and a great sequel.
*One or the other of the older kids will usually come with me, with the unstated expectation that we’ll stop for a goodie on the way back home.
**My lovely wife is working on an upcoming book fair at our public school, and was talking to a friend who is involved in one at her parochial school. Her friend was listing all the books they have to remove from their parochial offering – any Halloween-related books (OK, whatever), any Harry Potter books (eh), any Vampire/Twilight books (whatever), aaaaaaannnd – anything to do with Barack Obama!
jdg said on October 22, 2010 at 9:48 am
beware: I ordered the bismarck before any other supino pizza, and I literally couldn’t bring myself to try another pie for months. . .then I tried the red white and green and forgot about the bismarck.
Julie Robinson said on October 22, 2010 at 10:03 am
For the record, I approve of today’s column.
coozledad said on October 22, 2010 at 10:05 am
One of the many great tragedies of porn is its strict appeal to men. There doesn’t appear to be anything remotely similar for females.
I think National Lampoon got it right long, long ago with their piece on “Orgasmic Coma”. Physicians were trying to counteract the effects of pornography induced catalepsy by showing the patients footage of urinating nuns. It only worsened matters.
Apparently Clarence was into the kielbasa circus videos, featuring guys who make horses run in terror. There’s something odd about that, isn’t there?
Peter said on October 22, 2010 at 10:24 am
Cooz: Not to Mrs. Thomas. Hiyo! Have a great weekend everybody!
beb said on October 22, 2010 at 10:56 am
Brian S. – since the Vatican in its infinite wisdom has decided that the Simpsons aren’t so bad. They’ve also decided that the Simpsons must be Catholics even though its been pretty clear for all 20+ years that they’re protestants of a bland denomination. Obviously the Pope hasn’t watched any of the episodes where G-d appears. Unlike the Pope, he’s a pretty laid back dude.
There’s rules and there are rules. Closing down a single event venue over a temporary liquor license is wrong but also it shouldn’t hard to apply for one either. So who’s at fault here? On the other hand foreclosing on a guy after months of refusing to take his mortgage payments is wrong. First they claimed they didn’t own his note, then they do. In fact the foreclosure is so filled with evidence of massive fraud, deception and failures to follow the law that the Federal government should just step in and stop it.
The Prez wonders why the people are so cool towards him and then he does nothing about the banks when they are caught breaking a mountain of laws.
Don’t cry for Juan Williams — he’s already got a newly minted $2 mil contract with Fox News.
I forget where I hear (Freakonomics?) this but someone was making the case that teen pregnancy was as much influenced by the future prospects of the girl as by any amount of education. That is to say, if one is born into poverty and appears will live in poverty for the rest of one’s life, what’s the point to putting off having kids? Thus Mississippi’s high teen pregnancy rate may not be due to abstinence only teaching but to the structural poverty of its citizens.
basset said on October 22, 2010 at 11:01 am
I had (homemade, left over from last weekend) barbecue for breakfast today. Slow’s does look good, the pizza place looks even better.
Deer season is approaching here in Tennessee; bow is already on, muzzleloader starts Nov. 6, so I’ve been reading a deer-hunting board. Where the discussion on Williams is mostly around this level:
“Only after Geoorge Soros gave NPR $1.8 million did they fire Williams. The same day Soros gave his own company, Media Maters, another $1 million to fight Fox to shuit them down and end Freedom of the Press.
Like I said, the liberals only want Free Speech and Freedom of the Press for themselves and nobody else.”
And this is on a hunting thread, the same board has a “political forum” that I’m not going anywhere near.
Sue said on October 22, 2010 at 11:28 am
Yeah, basset, NPR is so freakin’ liberal that although Juan was allowed to appear on Fox anytime he wanted, NPR felt it was necessary to remind its reporters about its ‘no politics’ policy by telling them that they could not attend the Stewart/Colbert rally as private citizens.
basset said on October 22, 2010 at 11:34 am
exactly… but there is no discussing anything with these people.
and I’m going to be in the woods with them. and they all have guns.
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 11:40 am
When I go huntin’ for meat, it’s either in the deep-freeze in the garage, or else toward the back of the Meijer (their meat is better than WalMart’s).
(and we’ll skip the easy joke about what Justice Thomas reaches for, when he’s huntin’ for meat)
moe99 said on October 22, 2010 at 11:52 am
OMG. The birth rate disparity means we’re going to be overrun with bubbas in 20 years! Guess we better hang on to the Senate, as the House will be Tea Party Central.
OT. I am an inveterate spell checker and reader. Yesterday I finished reading Lionel Shriver’s latest, “So Much for That” because I’ve embarked on a mission to read all the fiction books nominated for the National Book award this year. I wasn’t sure I could read or finish it because it dealt with a woman who was dying of cancer, but found I really enjoyed and related to a number of aspects of the book, except the ending (which isn’t a bad idea). However, I was disgruntled to find the word “hued” used where what was meant was “hewed.” So I looked up the internet address of the editor and sent her an email. Not only did I get a nice response from the editor, this morning I woke up to a nice email from Ms. Shriver! My day is made.
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 11:57 am
Moe – now THAT’S the way to end the week!
nancy said on October 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm
Moe, I did that once for a Steve Lopez novel, only I wrote to the author. I prefaced it with all sorts of ass-kissing about how much I liked the book, the columns he writes for the LATimes, etc. There’s just this little matter of a LONG list of typos and usage errors — I found at least a dozen, and I only started taking note of them about midway through. It included lots of dumbass errors, including one of my pet peeves: “here, here.” (It’s “hear, hear,” godDAMNit.)
Anyway, no reply. Ever. I haven’t bothered to check a subsequent edition to see if they were all fixed. Pissed me off. People PAY me to edit them. The least he could do is thank me for some free nitpicks.
paddyo' said on October 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm
I mean . . .
And what Julie @3 said . . . and yesterday’s, too. And all those amazing comments. The nn.c commentariat is in high clover these days. What a joy to read.
Hey, Bassett, good luck in the woods with your long-bore forum friends. But don’t go near Texas, where a Dallas GOP House candidate envisions using those deer rifles for something more than meat. Violent overthrow of the government a possibility, hey, why not?
Sue said on October 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm
paddyo’, Sharron Angle was there first with her “second amendment solutions”.
Bob (not Greene) said on October 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm
Paddyo’, even better than the story are the comments afterwards. Damn, I gotta move me to Texas and start up an arm-band manufacturing company. Whole lotta loony goin’ on down there.
coozledad said on October 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm
It should be a warning to voters when they see so many Republican candidates with their entourages of contract thugs. It should also remind people the war on drugs was just a big wet kiss for the oligarchs in Colombia and their biker mules here in the US. We provide both the market and price stabilization.
Julie Robinson said on October 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm
Yesterday we got a newsletter which asked if we wanted future “additions” sent via email. And I found two typos in the latest Janet Evanovich book. (Which I am ashamed to admit, I read.)
I suspect many of us here at nnc were the school’s underappreciated smartypants. My senior class prediction was that I would prove the Encyclopedia Britannica wrong, and I did find an error in a textbook that even the prof hadn’t noticed. It wasn’t just a typo, and he contacted the publisher to have it corrected in future editions. But I never got a personal letter like you did, Moe–well done!
basset said on October 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm
some of the more heated gun-rights advocates here are claiming on a local newspaper site that, since the Second Amendment was meant to ensure an armed militia which could rise up and overthrow tyrants, any weapon the military uses should be legal in private hands.
just to keep it even, y’know.
nancy said on October 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm
Some liberal smartypants — Michael Kinsley, I think, but I’m not sure — once suggested that if the right wanted to invoke the “well-armed militia” argument, then they should be made to walk the walk, too. Regular musters, basic training, inspections, k.p., all of it. See how many want to hear reveille for two weeks a year, and that right there are the ones who can still keep their firearms.
beb said on October 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm
Nancy’s complaint about “Hear! Hear!” vs. “Here, here” falls into the understandable error category, since few people have ever heard the expression used in context, as an interjection given by the audience during a speech. Since it”s not polite to interrupt a speech they just assume it’s the other kind of ‘here.’
This is the case for that other great bugabear of grammar nazis. the confusing about its/it’s. People forget that it’s “its” that the rule-breaker. Possessives take apostrophe-s, except when they don’t. But we shouldn’t be so hard on people who haven’t memorized the list of exceptions to the otherwise simple rules of English grammar.
Bassett’s comments about deer hunting reminds me that a woman in New England was killed during deer hunting season because she wore white gloves to do some yard work.
nancy said on October 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm
“Here, here” is an understandable error for a member of the general public to make, beb. It’s not something you should ever see in a book carrying the imprint of a major publisher. Pros are supposed to know the difference.
prospero said on October 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm
George Soros is totally transparent, to use the current term. Who financed the Swiftboat slander? (That would probably be the seriosly creepy Mr. Scaiffe.) How did that work? Kerry served, W pretended to. It’s my contention that people that buy this sort of horseshit are clearly too dumb to be allowed to vote. When you are a conservative nutcase on a mission, the truth is no opposition.
W was a draft dodger that supported the war. Kerry despised the war and served honorably anyway because he said he would. And then there are lying bastard Republican twats. And morons that bought this shit.
No joke y’all. W didn’t just dodge the draft like cheney, he signed off smearing his opponent that served with fortitude. This is the Republican way. If you shoot somebody in face with birdshot, it was his fault.
Second Amendment people are all “right to bear arms” and they choose to ignore the limiting clause about militia. They aren’t just hypocrites, they are liars.
Here in South Carolina, Jpe Wilsom votes consistently for shit that outsources jobs. People lie their asses off.
Who raParna Pharm? the invasions off the books? And who invented Government noney foir Big Pharmz, Thazt wold be Republican,
basset said on October 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm
When I worked in northern Michigan in the late 70s we used to have a betting pool in the newsroom on how many hunters would get shot during the season.
Knowing exactly what you’re aiming at is one of the basic safety rules of any kind of shooting, no excuse for something like that white gloves situation.
Jolene said on October 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm
This is the case for that other great bugabear of gram mar nazis. the confusing about its/it’s. People forget that it’s “its” that the rule-breaker. Possessives take apostrophe-s, except when they don’t.
Well, sort of. When I first started teaching (nothing like undergraduate prose to give you a sense of what people who have graduated from high school actually learned), I got the explanation that you give when I asked how people could possibly confuse it’s and its. I was actually sort of glad to hear that explanation, as it seemed better to think that these were “principled errors,” (i.e., possessives take apostrophes) rather than simply errors.
But possessive pronouns don’t take apostrophes. There’s hers, yours, theirs, all of which follow the same principle as its. Moreover, there’s a failproof way of checking, to wit: If you can substitute “it is,” use the contraction. If not, use the possessive pronoun. These errors occur, in part, because people don’t know, in grammatical terms, what they are saying. That is, they don’t know they are using a word that is a possessive pronoun vs. a contraction of pronoun and verb.
So, yes, I was a smartypants student, at least when it came to writing, and I’ve been both an editor and a teacher of writing, so I try not to be too much of a pain in the ass, but it’s a challenge.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I really respect the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates, so it kills me when I see small errors of grammar and orthography in his work. Same goes for Matt Yglesias, another smartypants blogger. He’s remarkably fluent, and I find it surprising that someone so articulate lacks (and doesn’t seem to care about) these niceties.
It helped somewhat that I worked for a long while w/ an extremely smart research colleague–someone who had been an undergrad English major and still reads widely–but could come up w/ some real howlers in grammar and spelling. Took several years for him to master the unorthodox spelling of my last name.
paddyo' said on October 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm
Sue @ 15 — you’re right about Angle, and she still hasn’t (and won’t) answer journalists’ questions about that astonishingly incendiary remark.
She and AZ’s Gov. Jan “beheadings-in-the-desert” Brewer are bald-faced practitioners (NN, please tell me that’s the correct usage; I’m not saying “bold-faced,” as in typography) of the I’m-ignoring-what-I-just-said-and-you-damned-media-had-better-too school of run-and-hide political campaigning.
LAMary said on October 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm
“…but could come up w/ some real howlers in grammar and spelling.”
Jolene, I’m not sure there are many people who would find a spelling or grammar error a howler anymore. (Looks around office) Nope. None here.
paddyo' said on October 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm
And right on, Jolene. I think one of the biggest problems these days is, there are no — or very, very, very few — EDITORS in the blogosphere. Not just among the typing-in-pajamas-in-attic crowd but also those who blog at “respectable” sites whose keepers should know better. Hell, even we smartypants nitpickers never catch Every Last One of our keyboard misstrikes on our own. And in the spreading practice of self-publishing actual bound books and such, it’s rampant. I just don’t get it. There’s really no excuse for the typos and mistakes.
nancy said on October 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm
I read something astonishing the other day — that Andrew Sullivan has FOUR assistants to help with his heavy lifting. This was in a tweet, so no context was offered; are they paid, do they work for anyone else, etc. And while I don’t count him as one of the offenders in sloppy usage, you’d think that if the Atlantic can afford four assistants for at least one of their bloggers, surely they can find a decent editor for Coates.
Catherine said on October 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm
I do a lot of work with teaching English using phonics. The disconnect in English between letters and sounds is very, very pervasive — to the point where research shows that people learn to read and spell English fluently by sight, not by following rules. Visual learners have a big advantage, and so do people who read a lot. As I said to my 13 YO in trying to convince her to take Mandarin at school, you have already learned English. The sounds in Mandarin are different, but it if you can learn to read English, you can learn to read Mandarin. It’s the same difficulty level.
moe99 said on October 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm
Jolene, I’ve offered Yglesias at least four times to edit his work for free. And Coates is the other one. He had a great post on the culture of poverty but it’s impact was severely tempered by a number of typos that were no brainers. In fact in my email to Ms. Shriver’s editor, I mentioned Coates!
Jolene said on October 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm
I’ve thought that, too, Nancy. I can’t imagine that there weren’t be someone available to scan his prose quickly, and it’s not that he’s not aware of the problem. I actually wrote to him w/ a couple of suggestions for avoiding certain errors once upon a time, for which he thanked me, and he occasionally acknowledges his shortcomings. I also sent a note about it to James Fallows, w/ whom I’d corresponded passingly on other topics. (You can see that this bothers me, but it’s only because I really do think he’s a terrific thinker and writer.)
So, it must be that he just doesn’t want to bother w/ small corrections in blog postings. That wouldn’t be the right choice for me, but he has a loyal and high-quality group of followers, so it’s obviously not a deal-breaker for everyone.
And speaking of him, he’s been hosting what he calls The Effete Liberal Bookclub, focused on the Civil War. There are weekly discussions of books that he has read and his followers read together. They’ve gone through McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom and will start Howe’s What God Hath Wrought in November. Might be of interest to our history buffs. (Both books available through Nancy’s Kickback Lounge, of course.)
Dorothy said on October 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm
There is a real estate firm in town whose signs are printed “Real Estate Pro’s”. The letters are in red with white background. There are three properties near mine that are for sale by this company and the signs are hammered into the ground on the parcels. I get the feeling that if I confessed to this crowd that I want to take a red magic marker and color in all the apostrophes, you all won’t think I’m crazy.
Jolene said on October 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm
Dorothy, here’s a story about some people who do go around correcting things and have written a book about their experiences. The book comes w/ a marker, a bottle of correction fluid, and such. I told my family I was going to join them.
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm
Jolene, our nation really would benefit if the sincere, literate teabagger crowd (and a small crowd THAT would be, one supposes) would read about the American Civil War. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom is a marvelous book (as is mostly everything from him); or Shelby Foote’s The Civil War; or more bite-sized books such as anything from Stephen Sears.
Folks might stop and ask themselves, just exactly how things got to the point where “Second Amendment Remedies” (and what a stupid euphemism that is, eh?) actually did come into play, across the fields of Tennesse and Virginia and Maryland and Pennsylvania and Georgia and the Carolinas, and up and down the Mississippi.
Jolene said on October 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm
Amen, Brian. On a more cheerful note, I wanted to make sure you all know that President Obama has made a video for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project. It’s very touching. Should say that Hillary Clinton made one too. And Tim Gunn, among other notables.
Obama’s getting criticized, of course, because the policy changes he says he wants to make haven’t happened yet, but, even so, the video is a great gesture and not one that many presidents would make.
bobolink said on October 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm
I embarass my kids often when correcting apostrophe abuse in sinage. I am convinced the apostrophe will just slowly disappear since it takes too much effort to shift to insert it when texting. Another thing I’ve noticed, particularly in the food service industry, is dropping the “d”. For example, mash potatoes serve with gravy. Drives me crazy.
Dorothy said on October 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm
I’ve heard about those folks before, Jolene. My daughter and I want to form our own little team and go around doing it, too.
Speaking of her, she had to call a reporter last night to get clarification on something he had written. She phoned around 6 PM, and after the phone rang about 7 or 8 times, someone clicked the phone on, and then immediately shut it off (i.e. hung up on her.) So she waited a minute and called back in case it was an accident. The guy did it again, but did not click the phone off completely so then she could hear him bitching to his wife about the copy desk bothering him at home. He blathered on and on and Laura hung up after listening only for about 30 seconds. She was astonished – the guy’s not a newbie, he knows that the copy desk might call sometimes. But she always apologizes when she has to bother someone at home. And she did think the jerk should have been glad it was 6 PM and not 11 PM when she called.
Several minutes later he called back all jolly, acting like nothing was wrong. “Oh I saw this number in my caller ID and I wondered what you needed!” What a putz! She got her question answered, did not let on she heard him griping, but after the call she emailed his boss to let him know he’d acted like a complete ass. I can’t wait to hear if she gets any feedback about his reaction to knowing he was overheard.
The poor girl had a rough day – she nearly got t-boned in traffic on the way to work, got out of her car,slammed the door and then realized she’d left the keys in the car with the engine running. Within 5 minutes she had the situation resolved since her window was open about 2 inches. And she had a friend pounce on her about some petty b.s., thinking Laura was mad at her but nothing could have been further from the truth. She showed a lot more class than I would have, though with that reporter. He would have had a good tongue lashing for me if I’d been the one he pissed and moaned about.
LAMary said on October 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm
The President’s video is really good. I’m still very proud to have voted for him and I still have hope he’ll rise above all the noise and get great things done.
nancy said on October 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm
Dorothy, if Kirk is reading I’m sure he’ll have something to say about that, as over the years we’ve traded a few stories about just that situation. One guy at the D actually said, in response to a perfectly reasonable question about a story being edited, “I’d prefer it if you didn’t call me at home anymore.” As though that’s an option. As though it isn’t part of the job for everyone. What a tool.
On the other hand, we had an assistant metro editor in Fort Wayne for a spell who was simply incapable of making a decision. I mean: In. Capable. She called everyone, seemingly every night, with question after question that weren’t even about stories, just sort of brain-picking: “We just had a fatal accident on US 30. Do you think we should cover it? Would you cover it? You can’t? Well, who do you think I should call?” It got so bad that reporters got the newly available Call Block feature installed on their phones, and were actually blocking their own employer.
Those who did so included a woman who left the paper and moved to Atlanta. This editor continued to call her, in Atlanta, to ask advice on this or that story assignment, until finally the new Georgian exploded at her one night: JESUS CHRIST WOULD YOU LEARN TO MAKE A DECISION, etc. She probably hung up and called someone else.
beb said on October 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Nothing excites this crowd like a good copy-editing story! 🙂
A.Riley said on October 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm
Since we’re talking copyediting, I write to ask your tears of sympathy.
I’m translating a short piece from specialist jargon to standard English. Usually no prob, right? Well, this one was written by a couple of disaster relief & development NGO staffers who never met an acronym or initialism they didn’t like. It’s the stiffest dryest deadest prose . . .
All I want to do is condense it down to a two-page handout I can use to back up a little speech. Something that the people can bring to their groups & tell pretty much the same story. That’s all I want. Is that so hard? Is that so impossible? It is to *weep.* I shoulda started from scratch, that’s what I shoulda done. Argh.
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm
A. Riley – you have my tears!
Sue said on October 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm
One of my Spanish teachers was from Peru, and our class often got into a ‘which language is more ridiculous’ discussion (I think he probably had this discussion with most of his classes, he was that kind of teacher). We were all “Two forms of to be! Subjunctive tense out the wazoo!”. He was all “Kansas and Arkansas!” But he got us on what most non-native English speakers use to describe hell by telling us the ‘tahkay teemay toevay sahfay’ story. That’s how his mother pronounced a sign she saw one day when she was visiting them in Florida.
Take Time To Be Safe.
Yes, silent E.
Also, I read somewhere a story about an editor who filed off the semicolon key thing on a writer’s typewriter.
Also, Mark Twain didn’t like proofreaders: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/10/mark-twain-on-proofreaders.html
Sue said on October 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm
Juan Williams’ favorite blog:
Julie Robinson said on October 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm
Dorothy, you totally have my permission! And you get a gold star for using the correctly spelled griping instead of gripping, which I often see.
In happy-daughter-news, ours has finally gotten her replacement credit card delivered to her in Ireland, so Mom can sleep again.
mark said on October 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm
Well, Dorothy, your daughter really gave that guy what he deserved for trying to put her off for several minutes, especially since she had such a bad day. Who knows, maybe she can get him fired, or a cut in pay for his outrageous behavior.
Bob (not Greene) said on October 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm
Another gem from Mark!
Sue said on October 22, 2010 at 4:07 pm
mark appears to be having a bad day.
Catherine said on October 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm
Sue, thank you for that link! I have been perseverating about that very thing ever since I heard the remark (way to miss the point, I know). What is Muslim garb, anyway? Is there Jewish garb? Is there Christian garb? Is it marked by polyester pants stretched tightly over hips made abundant by too many church suppers?
Kirk said on October 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm
It’s amazing how many reporters, veterans though they may be, never come to appreciate how many times their ass has been bailed out by the copy desk. It’s also dismaying that so many of them aren’t smart enough to know that, whether they like it or not, the copy editors get last crack at their story so it makes little sense to piss them off by treating them shabbily.
On the other hand, there are a few nitwit copy deskers who seem to like to call reporters, ostensibly to ask about their story but in reality to let them know they’re really smart because they caught this blunder and are fixing it. Too many of those dweebs, no doubt.
But, bottom line, the smart writers know that the desk is there to rescue them and conduct themselves accordingly.
Kirk said on October 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm
And that reporter’s unprofessional conduct is out of line, so screw him if he gets a pay cut or loses his job (not that one such incident would warrant either).
Catherine said on October 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm
Here’s an example of an English sound (ur) spelled at least 4 different ways. Say the following words, and then try to explain to an English language learner why the same sound is spelled so differently; AND try to explain how you know that.
Dorothy said on October 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm
Thanks y’all for the shout-outs for copy editors. My daughter is one smart cookie, I don’t mind saying. I’m sure yins are sick and tired of hearing me sing her praises. She says she was mortified to hear what the guy said, as if she was peeking in their bedroom window or something. I’m so not like her – I would have hungrily stayed on the line to hear every single word he said, that’s what a snotnose I am! She takes after her dad in this regard, anyway.
Bob (not Greene) said on October 22, 2010 at 4:39 pm
You don’t appreciate copy editors until you don’t have them. Here at our humble chain of weeklies in suburban Chicago we have zero, count ’em, zero, copy editors. So as you might imagine lots of mistakes get made. Most are typos, which at least we can fix on the web. The decision long ago was to put what meager resources we have into reporters. Of course, not all reporters are good editors or copy editors, so some are banned from editing copy. All the same, some who do edit copy do a perfunctory spell check and let it go at that. You can get yourself in ALL kinds of trouble with this setup. Can I get an Amen, Kim?
LAMary said on October 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm
Marginally interesting linguistic note: snotnose in Dutch is snotneus, which is pronounced the same way and used the same way. I know this from reading the funnies in Dutch newspapers.
Jeff Borden said on October 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm
The best copy editor I’ve ever known worked at Crain’s Chicago Business. Not only was she sharp as a tack about grammar and spelling, but she had the kind of institutional knowledge only a long time in one place can produce. She certainly could be sharp-edged, but what I really admired was her ability to focus on facts and details, not intent or style.
I used to tell her she’d pulled more bacon out of the fire than a short order cook. And Kirk is absolutely correct. This woman saved me from more than a few embarrassing gaffes. Excellent copy editors are a gift from God to any reporter. Only the truly dumb or arrogant ones deny that.
prospero said on October 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm
Back at @39 and LAMary
A President that isn’t a stupid tool of the reactionary bastards that appointed him? The deficit is W’s to own. That is a fact. Qhen Republicans disavow this, they are talking about running two invasions off the books while cutting taxes twice in two years. It’s a sad case that Americans are fucking morons, but that is exactly what happened. And when grown-ups got in charge, Senators said NO.
In the long run, the whole bidness about the activist court might be the most opprobrious thing about the Republican agenda, if you don’t count their intention to win state Cecretariats and just fuck up voting. They are quite sure that preventing people that don’t look just like then from voting is a productive strategy. No, wait, it’s Ken Blackwell promising to steal Ohio and then stealing Ohio. The hilarious thing is these morons doing the bidding of their overlords and never sharing that cash.
Nobody get’s rich, the rich just get richer on the bones of people that work.
Deborah said on October 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm
Sue, loved the Muslims wearing things link.
And for the record, in the design field people get called at home all the time. I would be pissed if a fabricator or co-worker didn’t call me at home or while I’m on vacation if they have a question. Granted, I want it to be an important question, but even if it’s not that important I always say “thanks for calling” rather than have them guess and maybe not guess correctly. When something is being cast in bronze (for real) I want to make sure it’s done right.
LAMary, I’m with you on being proud of Obama, he’s great and I wish him the best, hope things pick up for him soon.
prospero said on October 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm
Nsncy, Iggy’s ok, but in the day, he was never Rob Tyner. or the Quackenbushes. or Wayne Kramer or Sonic Smith. He wasn’t Bob Seger. And in the day of wussies spouting on TV.
You have Persection Smithu. Much better world,
Jeff Borden said on October 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm
Wow! That was some article about the ex-girlfriend of Clarence Thomas. (I finally got around to reading it.) Looks like Ginni Thomas made a real error with her foolish phone call. Now, there is fresh evidence that Anita Hill did tell the truth about ol’ Clarence after all. Maybe even Pilot Joe will become a believer, LOL. Clarence sounds like one skeevy dude.
Deborah said on October 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm
Jeff B, Ginni made no error in the eyes of her peeps. They’ll only think the former girlfriend was a slut and Anita Hill was asking for it. What I want to know is what happened to Clarence’s first wife? Anyone know?
Deborah said on October 22, 2010 at 7:33 pm
I just made the depressing mistake of looking at Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo poll tracking post about the upcoming elections. OMG we are doomed. Please tell me this isn’t happening.
Dan_g said on October 22, 2010 at 9:27 pm
Regarding copy editing: I once had a girlfriend, fluent in Japanese, with a degree in English with a minor in Zoology.
She taught English in Japan and worked parttime as an editor for a Japanese medical magazine published in English.
She would clean up the copy and the Japanese authors would put it back because their version of English sounded better to them.
Regarding English language spelling: “Theirs know weigh too no watt two due.”
Jolene said on October 22, 2010 at 10:27 pm
“Theirs know weigh too no watt two due.”
This sentence and Catherine’s comment at 53 point up the importance of early reading and lots of talking in families. Kids who hear lots of conversation know lots of words, and they can more readily connect the words they know to the symbols on the page without having to struggle to make the connection–or so it seems to me. As I’m writing this, I realize I don’t know a lot about the science of teaching reading–if there is such a thing–but I do know that having been read to by adults is a big predictor of early school performance.
As I’m rambling along here, I’m thinking that I really ought to get involved in some sort of literacy tutoring. I did it once before w/ a woman my own age when I lived in Pittsburgh, and it was both fun and rewarding. Time to get off my duff and get involved again.
Your reference to “their version of English”, Dan, reminded me of something I heard some time ago re there being more people in the world who’ve learned English as a second language than people for whom it is their native language. At least I think that’s what I heard. As I get older, I seem to have more and more of these unanchored, possibly true things that I sort of remember floating around in my head. Makes me think I should perhaps check everything on Google before I say it.
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 10:27 pm
I just made the depressing mistake of looking at Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo
Deborah, take your pick –
Despite doom-saying about Democrats’ chances in the midterms, the latest NEWSWEEK Poll (full results) shows that they remain in a close race with Republicans 12 days before Election Day, while the president’s approval ratings have climbed sharply. The poll finds that 48 percent of registered voters would be more likely to vote for Democrats, compared with 42 percent who lean Republican (those numbers are similar to those in the last NEWSWEEK Poll, which found Democrats favored 48 percent to 43 percent). President Obama’s approval ratings have jumped substantially, crossing the magic halfway threshold to 54 percent, up from 48 percent in late September, while the portion of respondents who disapprove of the president dropped to 40 percent, the lowest disapproval rating in a NEWSWEEK Poll since February 2010.
So, OK. If the Republicans take the House, and get their orange speaker, and the Democrats hold the Senate** (by any margin), I’m happy. And indeed, as Dorothy reminded us earlier this week, our exceptional president still has a little somethin’ somethin’; a little can of political whoop-ass that he can break out when the occasion calls for it.
And as a bonus, if the GOP is really as tone deaf and radicalized as it sometimes seems that they are, then they will over-play their victory in the House, and bash their heads against the pillars of the White House.
*I think us non-journalists in the crowd cannot credibly use words like “Lede”; besides that one wouldn’t want a leaden lead
**speaking of the Senate, I’ve got to say, I was very impressed by the Democratic nominee, in the Senate debate we attended this evening. Brad Ellsworth is the pretty boy in the race to replace Evan Bayh here in Indiana. In fact he looks a lot like Bayh – but he was also focused, cogent, scrappy, and on-point; while Coats seemed genuinely flustered and flat-footed most of the evening.
As it happened, we sat just behind Steve Shine (the county chairman of the Republican party, hereabouts), and in my unscientific, untrustworthy opinion, he didn’t seem very impressed with his guy (Coats the bagman), and he had nothing to pick at with my guy Ellsworth. So – and remember you read it at NN.c first – I think Ellsworth may well be a surprise victory for the Democrats on election night in a week and a half.
Kirk said on October 22, 2010 at 10:33 pm
Brian, you’re right. “Lede” shouldn’t be used in public. “Lead” is correct. “Lede” is for internal use only, as are “folo,” “hed,” “writethru” and “to kum.”
brian stouder said on October 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm
Kirk – you got me laughing! At the risk of again earning Julie’s derision (and rightly so!) – when I read “folo,” “hed,” “writethru” and “to kum.” the first thing I thought of was those movies Justice Thomas rented! (Long Dong Silver gets Hed; kums writethrough the roof)
Kirk said on October 22, 2010 at 10:56 pm
Thank you very much. You’re a great audience.
Jolene said on October 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm
Brian, everytime I hear Chuck Todd review the prospects for Nov. 2, he has the Indiana Senate seat in the “pick-up for Repubs” category. Maybe Ellsworth should send videos of that debate to everyone in Indiana.
brian stouder said on October 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm
Jolene, with regard to Bayh’s Senate seat, all we hear hereabouts is “fuhgetaboutit” – and indeed, I have internalized and accepted the likelihood of Coats-the-bagman’s election.
Therefore it was a genuinely pleasant surprise to see how easily Ellsworth dispensed with old Coats, at the debate.
But, while Ellsworth is a pretty boy, Coats is an old, white, whiney Republican, and a familiar face, and these are large assets (in some places) in 2010, apparently. Indeed, Allen County, Indiana went narrowly for McCain in 2008 (despite that the state went for Obama), and old Coats is like McCain-lite – so whaddaya gonna do, eh?
But Ellsworth’s chances – slim though they may be – went from incredible to credible, in my estimation
coozledad said on October 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm
Via T-Bogg: Wingnut flying monkey FAIL
At KUNC, an NPR affiliate in Colorado, general manager Neil Best said that Thursday, the start of a pledge drive, was one of the station’s best fundraising days ever. Best said some callers who criticized the firing seemed to be reading from a script since they used some of the same words, such as “totalitarian.”
Rehm said several other stations also reported callers may be reading from a script. In other cases, it was clear the callers weren’t listeners or supporters, she said.
“When people say, ‘I’m never going to watch you again,’ that’s an indicator,” she said, because NPR isn’t on TV.
Stations in some big cities such as New York, Washington and Philadelphia, all three of which have been holding pledge drives, said fundraising remained strong even as complaints rolled in. In Denver, Colorado Public Radio President Max Wycisk said the episode could boost fundraising.
“It might actually help, because it reinforces how seriously public radio takes its integrity,” Wycisk said.
Julie Robinson said on October 23, 2010 at 3:18 pm
Brian, I have to confess my thoughts were along the same lines! And in reality, like almost any Democrat in Indiana, Ellsworth reads more like a Republican to me.
Somehow the Republicans think our daughter will vote for them and keep calling our house asking for her. We find this amusing, since if anything she is a Green. I flat out told the guy he was wasting his time calling our house for anyone. Maybe I should just let them keep wasting their time, but I’m finding it irritating.
JayZ(the original) said on October 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm
Jeff B and Deborah at 61 & 62
Even if Ginni continues to have the Teabaggers’ support, I doubt she is receiving any positive strokes from Clarence right now.
moe99 said on October 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm
My thoughts exactly JayZ!! Bet it is icy in the Thomas household these days…
Jolene said on October 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm
Ruth Marcus, who reported on the Clarence Thomas hearings as they were happening, reminds us of details re Thomas’s behavior w/ other women. Had Joe Biden been a little braver and Ted Kennedy a little more straitlaced, they might have been able to handle those hearings a little differently, and we’d have been spared Thomas’s presence on the court.
Jolene said on October 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm
And speaking of being spared the presence of unpleasant people in public life, I must say, once again, that John McCain should be relegated to an especially hot place in hell for giving us Sarah Palin. Have had CNN on for a while, and they’re playing parts of political rallies around the country. She was speaking in Florida, and, my God, that woman has the worst speaking voice I have ever heard. Not to mention that she made pretty much no sense whatsoever.
brian stouder said on October 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm
She was speaking in Florida, and, my God, that woman has the worst speaking voice I have ever heard. Not to mention that she made pretty much no sense whatsoever
Jolene, as recently as a decade ago, I viewed politics (or, more precisely, political contests) the same way as sports; a sort of souped-up reality show, without too much relationship to day-to-day real life. (If I thought about it at all, I would have said something like “the permanent bureaucracy really runs things, and the president’s main job is to decide who in the world needs an airstrike or two”)
To be honest, it took the disillusionment provided by our mis-directed response to the terror attacks of 9/11, and our still-born response to Hurricane Katrina, to make me think a little harder about those assumptions*.
By way of saying, while I will never agree with prospero’s unrefined contempt for voters who vote however they will, and for whatever reason they choose, still – more and more the concept of “getting the government we deserve” is what I have been pondering.
Consider – I (for one) feel a strong attachment to President Obama. Why? Oh – I can list off policy points that he espouses and with which I strongly agree – but also, and being honest about it, I really like him and his whole family. And I love the way that he always seems to hit the right note, at the right moment and in the right language, on every occasion.
This raises the question (with regard to Obama): Which came first? My emotional, visceral attachment to him and his campaign-crafted image, or my agreement with his policy points? Afterall, I was already put-off by W’s Iraqi invasion by 2004, and I admired Kerry and liked what he said, but I stuck with W right up ’til Katrina.
So – I think my own deep-seated dislike for pretty Sarah Palin (et al) stems from the realization that I would’ve fallen for her empty-calorie offering, if I was 25.
Here’s a related little bon-bon that I found, when I googled the term “government we deserve”
*yeah yeah yeah – only an idiot should require a cataclysmic attack on New York City, and biblical-proportioned natural disaster to actually begin to rethink his assumptions, but indeed, I’m just such an idiot!
brian stouder said on October 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm
Actually, the bon bon is here:
A 33 question civics test, that apparently stumps our elected officials as often as not.
I found that you can usually eliminate at least two answers, and increase your odds (if you have to guess) to a 50-50 shot.
I’d have guessed I had scored 24 or so, for sure. I flatly guessed on two of them, and indeed, I found several of them to be oddly worded enough that the answer chosen was something like a process of elimination/best estimate;
and in the end, I scored a 31! WooHoo!!
Jolene said on October 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm
I got the same score. It’s more than a little disconcerting to see, as the intro says, that college educators get scores of 55%!
brian stouder said on October 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm
One of the ones I missed was toward the end; where they say a “public good” is a thing you benefit from even though you don’t directly pay for it (or some such); on re-reading it, their point is still lost on me.
And the other one was where the test asserts something about tax revenue matching expenditures = equality of benefits per tax payer (or some such), whereas I thought it equalled a balanced budget.
Anyway , it was fun. To be honest, I have to credit Christine O’Donnell with assuring the correct answer on the “wall of separation between church and state”; I may or may not have known that that originated in a private letter from Thomas Jefferson – but I knew that for certain because I just read that, in the wake of her faux pas at her last debate
Jolene said on October 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm
I missed the taxes/revenues question too and also the one re the role of the anti-Federalists in writing the Constitution. The answer, of course, makes perfect sense after the fact. And yes, I think quizzes like this are fun too. At my age, you don’t get that “smart student” feeling very often!
brian stouder said on October 23, 2010 at 10:10 pm
Re anti-Federalists (etc); I credit Sean Wilentz for getting me on the dance floor on that stuff.
His book The Rise of American Democracy provides a tremendous over-view of all the dynamics and players from “Jefferson to Lincoln” (as the subtitle says); and all those names that one runs across here and there get defined and fleshed out. Loco-Focos and Masons and anti-Masons (especially in New York, along with the Barnburners) and soft money and hard money (and therefore Jacksonian Democracy versus the Bank of the US) and ‘Alien and Sedition’ and the Great Awakening and so on and so forth, etc etc.
I’m due to re-read that one, I think.
Aside from that, though – I agree that it was a very pleasant “smart student” moment, when I saw the score (albeit through squinted eyes and with breath held…!)
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm
Re thread comments back in the 20’s — interesting trivial observation: “Hear, hear” as a parliamentary ejaculation is actually a contraction of sorts, from the original outcry “Hear him, hear him.”
But with no apostrophe.
Personally, I think the Sage of Kinderhook has long been unfairly overlooked in American history. He had one of the most colorful vice presidents ever, with all due respect to Joe Biden. Two cheers at least for Martin Van Buren, the Barnburners, and the Free Soil party!
Got 31 out of 33; still not sure why question 33 isn’t a). I’ll bet this blog is triggering an uptick in average scores for the quiz . . .
Linda said on October 24, 2010 at 8:48 am
Anybody see the fascinating story of the congressional candidate in Texas who possibly wants to overthrow the government if the teabaggers can’t win, Stephen Broden? No? How come drunk actresses can get tons of P.R., but not the craziness of congressional candidates?
And the Dallas Morning New’s endorsement–and subsequent withdrawl of said endorsement–must be the d’oh moment of the year. At least for them.
brian stouder said on October 24, 2010 at 10:39 am
Linda – interesting link. Reading the comments, one commenter spouts and spouts about revolution and ‘tree of liberty’ and all the rest; he’s certain that the president is actively working against God Almighty His-Own-Self because….well, I’m not sure why he arrives at that, other than he’s deeply into conclusions and dismissive of thoughtful examination.
Bruce Fields said on October 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm
“still not sure why ques tion 33 isn’t a).”
If they’d used the word “deficit” instead of “debt”, a) would be right.
If annual income and expenses are equal, the *deficit* is zero. But there may still be preexisting *debt* (or surplus), that you’re not paying down or adding to.
33/33, bizarrely–I always thought of myself as a mediocre civics student.
basset said on October 24, 2010 at 9:14 pm
28 for me. and I’m with you on the deficit vs. debt question.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 24, 2010 at 10:48 pm
Neatly explained, Bruce. Thanks! And congrats on the ace.
Rana said on October 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm
30 here. Need to brush up on a couple of things, clearly.
Regarding Brad Ellsworth, we had the opportunity to vote for him for his current office, and it was worth it because his opponent was utterly terrible and his influence was limited to Indiana. Now, though… the thing is, Ellsworth is basically a Republican flying a Democrat’s flag. He’s pro-life, an anti-tax conservative, in favor of things like increased drilling for oil, and so on. I honestly can’t see what about him is worth voting for. I mean, there’s the whole idea of voting against the other guy, but, really, on the issues that matter to me, Ellsworth’s not representing my interests either. So much for the power of my vote…
Dexter said on October 25, 2010 at 12:13 am
Nance, I love Steve Lopez. The other day he wrote about a cannabis experiment he participated in. He gets out there and brings home a good story, no denyin’.
jerry said on October 25, 2010 at 5:10 am
Regarding (in)correct use of the apostrophe you may like to check out http://www.apostrophe.org.uk/ which demonstrates that even in the home of the English language we can’t get it right!
And Jolene (@65) speaks of English as a second language. I’ve heard it suggested that while English is currently the second language of choice it is liable to be replaced by Globish (http://www.globish.com/) which is a simplified form of English. The problem suggested was that we, as English (or American speakers), will be at a disadvantage as effectively we would need to learn to use a subset of English to communicate with Globish speakers.
brian stouder said on October 25, 2010 at 9:05 am
Rana – all I’m going on is the hope that Ellsworth would, in the highly unlikely event that he’s actually elected by us Hoosiers, vote correctly (in the end) on Supreme Court nominations. They’d probably have to twist his arm and give him some extra highway dollars (or whatever), so that would be doubly good, eh? (or, put another way, the road to hell might be re-paved with good intentions)
Halloween Jack said on October 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm
Detroit is a place where women have sex with pit bulls in dank drug houses (thanks, Weekly Standard!)