You say “sweet,” I say “cloying”

In a story in today’s New York Times on the search for support from female voters in New Hampshire, Jeb! (Bush) gave an explanation that helps explain his dearth of support.

Asked on Tuesday what message he hoped his mother would deliver, Mr. Bush sounded a sweet note: “That she loves me, that she supports me,” he said, “and that she thinks I’m a capable leader — and she knows a little about it because she’s had a front-row seat watching two presidents be president.”

Am I the only one who immediately thought that his father achieved the distinction of not being re-elected, while his brother is widely regarded as the worst President in recent memory, so having had a front-row seat to that is not particularly auspicious?

Or that the loving, supportive thing would be to suggest he suspend his campaign?

A very awkward sentence

I think I know what this report in The New York Times is trying to say, but a bit of editing wouldn’t have been wasted.  As it is, it could easily be read as saying that Barack Obama had delayed visiting a mosque for years due to a poll conducted last September.  (But props to The Times for unabashedly confirming that the President is a Christian.)

The sentence in question:


Although President George W. Bush visited a mosque in Washington within six days of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to reassure American Muslims, Mr. Obama, a Christian, brushed aside requests for a visit for years in part because 43 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Americans think he is a Muslim, according to a CNN/ORC poll last September.

Le mot juste re Palin/Trump: perfervid

On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, while introducing the topic of Sarah Palin’s endorsement of @realDonaldTrump, David Plotz used the word “perfervid.”  I was immediately moved to finally get this first in a planned-to-be weekly blog posts done (I was on a walk at the time.)

In the 20 or so minutes since, I have tried to think of a better, more precise term, but to no avail.  “Perfervid” was le mot juste in this case.

I wonder if I can slip it into any conversations this weekend…


[Headline corrected from “Pain” to “Palin” 2016-01-25; wondering if that was a Freudian slip.]

Assessing Grammarly’s assessment of me

A week or so ago, I downloaded Grammarly (the free version), to extend spell check and grammar flags to e-mails and other web activities.   I haven’t agreed with all of its suggestions, but anticipated that it would get used to the way I write, and judge accordingly.  (An example of disagreement:  it flagged the use of the comma in the previous sentence.  The sentence wouldn’t be wrong without the comma, but as an Oxford-comma-type dude, I prefer to have it.)

Then, in my e-mail today, I got a weekly “Progress Report and Tips.”  (This I was not expecting.)  After buttering me up with praise (I was going to break out those items, but just saw that I could share them, so they are here, here, and here as shared to Twitter), we got down to errors/tips (reformatted by me):

1. Missing comma with dates:  8 mistake
2. Incorrect spacing with punctuation:  7 mistakes
3. Split infinitive:  6 mistakes


I don’t remember seeing any mention of these (alleged) flaws, and as someone who doesn’t usually skimp on commas, I lack the data to respond to number one.  Nor am I in the habit of splitting infinitives, so I plead ignorance of the specifics again.

I will quibble with the second point.  When I was taught to type (yes, on a typewriter), the norm was to put two spaces after a period.  I know that the fashion has switched to a single space (which the word processors are more than happy to provide), but as I told a prospective employer after a typing test years ago:  If you’re going to penalize for not following the corporate style, it behooves you to let people know the expectations up front.  (I lost the “argument,” but got the job.)

I will be keeping an eye out for split infinitives, will continue using two spaces after periods and colons, and contra Mignon Fogarty, using cardinal numbers in dates.  I hope Grammarly extends grace to me in these matters.  I will be checking next Monday to see what this week’s “top grammar mistakes” (surely that could be worded better!) were.

Review: A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions

A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions
A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions by Katharine Hayhoe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I see that I originally started reading this book three years ago, then got distracted. The fact that the author is speaking tonight in Toronto (and that I am attending) motivated me to re-start and I’m glad I did.

The book makes a compelling case, but is never strident. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews