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Friday on a holiday weekend

You’re off to the beach or the mountains or the neighborhood barbecue. I’m off to the news desk for today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Don’t cry me a river; just check out the items below before you check out for the weekend.

Hot damn: The Library of America is bringing out H.L. Mencken’s complete Prejudices series in two volumes, an excellent and thoughtful [cough] Christmas/birthday/anniversary present for that bookworm in your life.

A loss to literature: Sorry to report that Beryl Bainbridge has died. You may have read years ago her grimly comic Bottle Factory Outing, but she captured my heart with According to Queeney, a magnificent historical novel about Samuel Johnson in his last years with Mrs. Thrale and her family. Reading one of her books would be a tribute to her.

Who could tell?: Jan Freeman quotes a wicked anti-prescriptivist suggestion from Language Hat: Someone should arbitrarily denounce a perfectly good word, or compare two equally correct English sentences and announce that one is good and the other bad, and then watch the prescriptivist forces fall into line.

English majors will recall the terrifying experiment in I.A. Richards’s Practical Criticism, in which he removed authorial identification from thirteen poems, some celebrated and some low-grade, discovering that without the marks of prestige readers had difficulty separating the good from the bad.

Separating the true authorities from the bogus is equally tricky.

THAT’S what they meant: The language blog Johnson at The Economist goes from strength to strength. A couple of days ago it explained what was back of the Russian diplomatic language about the latest espionage brouhaha.

Only one more week: You think Twitter will stop overloading every ten minutes once the damn World Cup is over?

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 11:55 AM | | Comments (5)
        

Comments

Sorry to say, John, but I'm afraid Twitter's problems can't be laid solely at the feet of the World Cup. There were no matches Wednesday or Thursday, yet Twitter's API was suffering from some of the worst problems I've seen in the past year.

I'm afraid the service is simply overloaded even at the best of times.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, I confess to tweeting quite often with the #wc2010 hashtag.

Sorry to see you speak so negatively about the World Cup. (Is the correct adjective "damn" or "damned?") It is, after all, a great equalizer, in which a tiny country the size of Ghana can compete against a world power like the U.S. and prevail.

I left out this morsel from yesterday's received tweets: The Gannett organ in St. George, Utah, put the article about its new pay wall behind its new pay wall.

Alas, no more Beryl Bainbridge works to anticipate. Darkly funny she was, like Muriel Spark--and those knife-sharp descriptions, one of which, in "An Awfully Big Adventure," I marked with a turned-down corner and am going to go reread right now.

Alas, no more Beryl Bainbridge works to anticipate. Darkly funny she was, like Muriel Spark--and those knife-sharp descriptions, one of which, in "An Awfully Big Adventure," I marked with a turned-down corner and am going to go reread right now.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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