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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Balancing Creativity, Efficiency and Sustainability | Andrew Stein, Stein Vox

I like the messages in this article, though as a writer/editor I struggled a bit with its random organization. Below are excerpts of some key points I got from the article.
This is about balancing three important factors – creativity, efficiency and sustainability. If done well, balancing these three factors builds strong learning and high-performance organizations. It strengthens businesses with new ideas for products and services to complement business from existing products and services – and, in a word, drives growth. ...

Creativity is the mind, soul and heart of a company that it cannot survive without. ... [C]reativity in corporate culture must be actively nurtured and visibly enabled by leaders. Ideas and innovation in terms of process, failure and eventual success must be celebrated. People in this organization have daily infusions from the creative types in design and marketing departments. ...
Efficiency is a domain of cost control, productivity, and financial measures. These are all internally focused and  corporation-centric. Customers don’t care about efficiency from this perspective. ...
[S]ustainability is much more important than being green and environmentally friendly. That is only a small part of it. Balancing sustainability is the factor that ensures people are thinking about today with the same sense of importance today as they know it will have tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. ...
Why it’s A Dilemma Now
Many companies, led by executive teams and boards of directors, have a natural propensity to overdo efficiency in lieu of creativity and sustainability. After all, management, academia, MBAs and corporate culture have driven this reaction for two hundred years. We’re good at it. Creativity and Sustainability is hard to teach, do, and measure. ...
A Different Economy ...
Apply the 80/20 rule, recognizing that the last 20% of efficiency measures cost too much in other terms to implement for too little gain. More innovation will always produce better results.  ... To have more successful products that add incremental revenue and growth to the bottom line, one has to invest (in a balanced way) in innovation.
Efficiency Suicide
Existing products become obsolete over time. Without innovating new products and services, too much focus on operational efficiency accelerates obsolescence and results in corporate suicide. Companies are only just now learning how serious this is. ...
Leadership Focus ...
True leadership is about serving the organization and creating a corporate culture such that it naturally thinks creatively, and delivers innovation and drives greatness. True leadership is about creating an environment that celebrates failure as a step toward an innovation the will become the next new product or service – and result in real growth for the company.
This article is featured in today's (July 7) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Friday, July 6, 2012

How to identify – and avoid – travel photo ‘porn’ | Paul Sullivan, Matador Network

As an amateur travel photographer (skilled but uncompensated), I think this article is excellent. I know I take some "pretty pictures" when I'm traveling that could be taken almost anywhere. But I also try to take photos that give a sense of place -- be they of people, buildings, plant life, "things" and, yes, scenery. I think my past work as a newspaper reporter and photographer helps with that.

Sullivan notes and then adds:
The Photographic Society of America defines a travel photo as:
an image that expresses the feeling of a time and place, portrays a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state, and has no geographical limitations.
And yet so much of what seems to pass as travel photography today fails to express this “feeling of a time and place,” preferring instead to package travel and place as a kind of product.
BTW, by travel photo "porn," Sullivan is referring to photographs that reduce people and places to stereotypes.

He asks, "How do travel photographers avoid creating travel porn?" And answers:
For me, the more detail and context we provide in our images, the less they’ll seem like pretty but meaningless postcards and begin to take on a narrative — that is, a “soul.” We photographers may not have nouns, verbs, and adjectives at our disposal, but we do have angles, light, perspective, and framing, amongst other compositional tools and strategies, to present alternative interpretations of a scene.
Some other advice (with links in the article to photo examples):
Shifting angle to include at least part of the subject’s facial expression may have given us clues about her identity or state of mind. A different angle may have also opened up a world of detail in the background.
Neither cities nor people are perfect, and the non-beautiful aspects are intrinsic to telling a story and building a more truthful and compelling narrative. ...
One of the most inspiring things about viewing the world through a camera lens is the opportunity to see it in a different way ...
As any documentary or travel photographer will tell you, a good way to improve your images of people or place is to spend as much time as possible with your subject/s. ...
Rushing through cities and communities without taking time out to understand or explore properly can only lead to superficial representations. ...

At the very least, some decent advance desk research about a country, city, or culture can help provide ideas and knowledge. ...
Sullivan concludes:
Borrowing from a documentary mindset, traveling slowly and thoughtfully, thinking about what’s inside (and outside) your viewfinder before you click the shutter: These are all ways to avoid visual travel porn — and to make a much more intimate connection with your audience.
For other articles on this topic, see my daily online paper, Garbl's Picture-Perfect Traveling, at the Travel Photography tab above and by free online subscription.

Do you have an Anti-Creativity Checklist? | Braden Kelley, Innovation Excellence

I like the Anti-Creativity Checklist in this blog. Well, no, I don't recommend using the list. I recommend not using the list -- except to remind yourself of what you should not do.

Got that? Make sense?

Here's the list, though blogger Kelley got it from a video that's also available in his article:
  1. Play it safe. Listen to that inner voice.
  2. Know your limitations. Don’t be afraid to pigeonhole yourself.
  3. Remind yourself: It’s just a job.
  4. Show you’re the smartest guy in the room. Make skepticism your middle name.
  5. Be the tough guy. Demand to see the data.
  6. Respect history. Always give the past the benefit of the doubt.
  7. Stop the madness before it can get started. Crush early-stage ideas with your business savvy.
  8. Been there, done that. Use experience as weapon.
  9. Keep your eyes closed. Your mind too.
  10. Assume there is no problem.
  11. Underestimate your customers.
  12. Be a mentor. Give sound advice to the people who work for you.
  13. Be suspicious of the “creatives” in your organization.
  14. When all else fails, act like a grown-up.
This article is featured in today's (July 6) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Oxford commas? Let common sense prevail | David Marsh | Comment is free |

I agree with the conclusion of this article:
In short, it's as unwise to say always use an Oxford comma as it is to say never use one. The best rule is common sense.
That said, grammatically speaking, it's never incorrect to include the so-called Oxford comma. But sometimes, as the article notes, including it in some sentences might be as confusing and misleading as not including it in other sentences.

Thus, the wise advise above. Use common sense based on the particular list and order of list items in each sentence.

Here's the general rule for the serial (or Oxford) comma in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
First, in a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term: She opened the closet, grabbed a coat, and picked up an umbrella. In a complex series of phrases, the serial comma before the final conjunction aids readability. In a simple series, the comma is optional before the conjunction: The van is economical, roomy and dependable. Also, put a comma before the final conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series needs a conjunction: He likes folk, rock, and rhythm and blues. Don't put a comma before the first item in a series or after the and in a series. See listssemicolon.
This article is featured in today's (July 6) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Five Ways to Commit Innovation Suicide | Gijs van Wulfen, Innovation Excellence

In one of his earlier blogs, van Wulfen identified "40 reasons why people are struggling with innovation." He writes (emphasis added):
And a lot of mistakes are made over and over again. That’s why I like to share with you five ways to commit innovation suicide. So you can avoid them in practice.
Summarized, here they are:
1. Start without business need ...
Remember: necessity is the mother of invention. So don’t try to convince others to innovate when there is no business need, because they will turn you down. ...
2. Start appointing an innovator ...
[T]here’s a huge risk that as soon as you appoint an innovator the rest of your organisation will lean back waiting. Because it is not seen as their responsibility anymore.
3. Start with an idea ...
Once you get your idea you will probably fall in love with it. That’s a great feeling. But love makes blind, unfortunately. The psychological phenomenon of selective perception will make you see only the positive points of the idea and only listen to people who are supporting you. ...
4. Start with a brainstorm ...
[W]hen you brainstorm unprepared with the usual colleagues hardly anything new appears. And you think the problem is not getting new ideas. But you are wrong. The problem is to get rid of the old ones! ...
5. Start neglecting customers ...
[E[ffective innovation is all about getting new ideas for simple solutions to solve relevant customer problems or needs. Meeting potential customers in person and finding out the customer’s frictions belong to the most effective techniques when you want to create new product ideas. ...
This article is featured in today's Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Becoming Minimalist Most Popular Posts | Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

My daily online paper, Garbl's Simple Dreams, frequently features an article by Becoming Minimalist blogger Joshua Becker.

Here are the titles listed in his blog:
  1. The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life
  2. 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget
  3. 15 Clutter Busting Routines For Any Family
  4. A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes
  5. Life Habits to Improve Your Writing
  6. Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids
  7. 51 Untruths I’ve Learned from Television
  8. 10 Reasons to Escape Excessive Consumerism
  9. 18 Good Reasons to Get the TV Out of Your Bedroom
  10. Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books
  11. Don’t Just Declutter. De-own.
  12. 15 Surefire Ways to Impress Others.
You can find my Simple Dreams paper at the Simplicity tab above. You also can get it through a free email subscription.

12 Patriotic Songs Better than Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." | Josh Jackson, Paste Magazine

I know it's a day late, but for listening anytime and for the next Fourth of July, this article provides an intriguing list of tunes.

Jackson comments on most of the songs. Here are their titles and performers:
1. Bruce Springsteen - "Born in the U.S.A."
2. Johnny Cash - "Ragged Old Flag"
3. Paul Simon - "American Tune"
4. Ray Charles - "America, the Beautiful"
5. Estelle featuring Kanye West - "American Boy"
6. Wilco - "Ashes of American Flags"
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Fortunate Son"
8. Aaron Copland - "Appalachian Spring"
9. Ryan Adams - "New York, New York"
10. Violent Femmes - "American Music"
11. Bob Dylan - "With God on Our Side"
12. Jimi Hendrix - "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Jackson also provides 12 honorable mentions, mostly from Twitter followers:
1. The Dixie Chicks - "Travelin' Soldier"
2. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - "This Land Is Your Land"
3. Aimee Mann - "Fourth of July"
4. David Bowie - "Young American"
5. Shooter Jennings - "4th of July"
6. Beastie Boys - "Fight for Your Right to Party"
7. Team America soundtrack - "Freedom Costs a Buck-o-Five"
8. Little Stevens - "I Am a Patriot"
9. Tom Petty - "American Girl"
10. Ozomatli - "Who Discovered America"
11. The Muffs - "Kids in America"
12. The Weepies - "All This Beauty"
This article is featured in today's (July 5) Garbl's Americana Songbook -- available at the Americana Music tab above and by free email subscription.

Socially unsure about your writing? | John E. McIntyre,

McIntyre reviews the latest book by Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time.

He writes:
She will take you gently by the hand and calm your apprehensions with soothing, sensible advice.
Of the 101 troublesome words (and phrases), McIntyre notes Fogarty's comments on these:
  • free gift
  • over, more than 
  • gone missing 
  • between 
  • none 
  • lighted, lit 
  • healthy, healthful.
  • kudos 
  • noisome 
  • unique
  • bemused 
  • hopefully
  • It is me, It's me, It is I. 
McIntyre concludes:
It is, like Ms. Fogarty's other publications, quite a handy little book. If it should help relieve a little of your anxiety about writing and bolster your confidence in the exercise of your own language, then it will well repay your attention.
Another review of Fogarty's book -- by Literary Marie -- also notes these terms:
  • African American, African American, black
  • couldn't care less, could care less
  • e-mail, email
  • I'd've
  • lay, lie
  • momentarily,
  • out loud, aloud
  • peruse
  • than I, than me
  • utilize, use
  • whet, wet.
Both reviews are featured in today's (July 5) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription. 

The 10 Wordiest Expressions You Should Not Use - The Plain Language Programme

Besides reviewing the expressions listed at this site, check out Garbl's Concise Writing Guide.

That free guide provides alternatives to overstated, pompous words; wordy, bureaucratic phrases; and verbose, sometimes amusing redundant phrases:
Write Richard Lederer and Richards Dowis, Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay, 1999: 
Contrary to what some people seem to believe, simple writing is not the product of simple minds. A simple, unpretentious style has both grace and power. By not calling attention to itself, it allows the reader to focus on the message.
If you like that quotation, that site also provides More Words of Wisdom about concise writing.
The "Wordiest Expressions" article is featured today (July 5) in Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs -- available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grammar tics of the Founding Fathers | Heidi Stevens,

Here's an amusing column, appropriate for the Fourth of July.

Stevens writes (emphasis added):
[W]e're getting a little tired of the rancor and name-calling and general ill will directed at our fellow man. We think it's time to direct it at the Founding Fathers instead.
Not that they didn't do big, important things like, you know, framing our Constitution and winning independence from England. But can we talk for a moment about their grammar?
With tongue in cheek, Stevens notes problems with the Second Amendment, random capital letters in our founding documents, and various wordy, redundant phrases.

But she warns:
Of course, there's a good chance you will start a fist fight (or worse) by dissing the Founding Fathers at your Fourth of July gathering. Particularly if your fellow attendees forget to bring their sense of humor.
So she concludes with excerpts from Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines that Get Laughs, Go Viral, and Live Forever by Jay Heinrichs.
The ancient rhetoricians understood it well. To make language sound impressively magical, they advised, darken it. Make it a little obscure. That's because a clear meaning takes the mysticism out of sacred language.
Proper grammar works well in a memo, but not so well in Amber's ways of graying, or above the fruity plains, or in all those greats God shed for thee. None of that stuff made sense to me as a kid, and I'm a better American for it.

The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups (& How to Beat Them) | Mignon Fogarty,

I doubt if many people can easily, promptly make a clear distinction between who and whom, as writer Fogarty suggests. (I'm a professional writer/editor and typically have to consider the difference if I choose to use one word or the other.)

But I like the rest of Fogarty's article! She begins:
I trust that you all know the difference between who and whom, and I trust that typos are the only reason you use the wrong it’s. It happens to the best of us. For most writers, if you can just maintain your focus (perhaps with caffeine and frequent breaks), you’ll get the basics right.
Here are the headings for the 13 problems Fogarty discusses:
  1. Half can be both singular and plural.
  2. Companies are not exactly people.
  3. American is a flawed term.
  4. The word dilemma can be, well, a dilemma.
  5. Earth isn’t treated like the names of other planets.
  6. Gone missing might be annoying, but it isn’t wrong.
  7. Kinds is always plural.
  8. Until is ambiguous.
  9. Next is also ambiguous.
  10. The plurals of abbreviations aren’t always logical.
  11. They and their may soon be acceptable singular pronouns.
  12. Possessives of possessives can get messy.
  13. Apostrophes can occasionally signify plurals.
For more similar advice, check out Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. It can help you be clear, concise, correct and consistent in your use of the written word. 

Fourth of July | Fearless Founders Inspire Fearless Citizens | Case Foundation

Here's a perfect article for inspiration on Independence Day, the Fourth of July 2012. The blogger begins:
When we look at the history of our great country, seven key political leaders and statesmen stick out as exceptional leaders in their time: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. These Founding Fathers took action and fought for their ideals, creating the land of the brave, the home of the free, the United States of America. These Founding Fathers were, in a word, fearless.
The blogger asks:
Two hundred and twenty-five years after the signing of the Constitution, how would these fearless Founders engage with their communities and support their nation?
And the blog provides some possible answers for six of the seven fearless founders listed above:
  • John Adams
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • George Washington.
This article is featured in my online paper for today (July 4), Garbl's Good Cause Communications. It's available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.

The 'Busy' Trap | Tim Kreider,

Having been semi-retired for more than a year, I admire the point of this wonderful article.

Kreider writes:
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
And he concludes:
My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.
I should note, however, that I called myself semi-retired above because I am actively seeking employment, freelance or contract opportunities. I need  to supplement my current minimal income until I am old enough to retire completely and begin collecting all my pension and Social Security proceeds.

Plus, I'm too young, energetic and creative to hang up editorial pencil!

For more information about that, see Garbl's Pencil & Good Cause Communications!

This article is featured in my online paper for today (July 4), Garbl's Simple Dreams -- available at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Plain Language Humor: Nine Easy Steps to Longer Sentences | U.S. Plain Language Action & Information Network

This amusing article has been around for awhile. But I still enjoy it -- and its not-so-subtle message.

You can follow the steps at the link, but it begins this way:
Are you tired of short, direct, and simple sentences that seem to take forever to fill up a page? Are you paid by the word? In either case you can benefit by increasing the number of words in your sentences and the bulk of your writing. And it's easy if you just follow nine simple steps, many of which you may already know and practice.
To show how easily you can apply these steps, I'll start with the following ludicrously short and simple sentence and increase its verbiage step by step.
More night jobs would keep youths off the streets.

For more advice on clear, concise writing, check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It covers the topic in these steps:

Court Wrestles with Adverb in Prostitution Case - Law Blog - WSJ

I certainly don't support pimps enslaving minor teen-aged girls in prostitution. And I'm certainly no legal scholar, as are the judges and prosecutors in the case discussed in this article.

But I do consider myself an expert on grammar and writing -- possibly more expert on grammar and writing than the judges and prosecutors involved in this case.

And I think they got it wrong by ignoring the grammar in the law cited for this case (emphasis added):
The law states that whoever “knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution” shall face at least 10 years in prison.
I suppose it could be argued that knowingly modifies only the verbs that follow it (persuades, educes, entices, coerces) -- meaning that the pimp knows he's persuading, educing, enticing or coercing. But that's absurd, IMHO; of course, he would know he's doing the things he's doing (assuming the prosecutors had evidence of that behavior).

So the adverb knowingly is modifying, correctly, the entire phrase that begins with those verbs -- and that phrase refers to individuals who are teenagers.

I understand and agree with the legitimate judicial distaste for the vile behavior of the pimp. But based on the grammar of the law, I think the prosecutors should have been required to prove the pimp knew the teenage prostitute was indeed less than 18 years old.

Guess I should note that I don't have the advantage of knowing all the legislative and legal background for writing and interpreting the legal citation above. Perhaps that background provides more explanation of what knowingly is modifying (or is supposed to be modifying).
This article is featured in today's (July 3) Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above -- and by free email subscriptions.

Garbl’s Creativity Connections for July 3: More than 7 provocative articles

Wow! Check out just some of the provocative headlines in today's online "paper":
  • 10 Ways To Spur Creativity
  • Why Boredom Is Good for Your Creativity
  • Jerks Can Be Creativity Killers, Alright
  • How creativity can be your balance point to achieve success
  • 8 Counter-Intuitive Ways to Improve Your Well-Being & Creativity
  • Four ways that technology influences creativity
  • How Hierarchies Kill Creativity
Creativity Connections is also available at the Creativity tab above -- and by free email subscription.

Fifty Organizations Urge President Obama to Pursue Robust and Effective Global Arms Trade Treaty | Arms Control Association

My daily online "paper" for today (July 3) features several interesting and hopeful articles, including this one.

A joint letter from the 50 organizations says:
Thousands of civilians around the globe are slaughtered each year by weapons that are sold, transferred by governments or diverted to unscrupulous regimes, criminals, illegal militias, and terrorist groups. The lack of high common international standards in the global arms trade also raises the risks faced by United States military and civilian personnel working around the globe.
The organizations urge the Obama administration to support positions on several unresolved issues. They include:
  • Strong Criteria Explicitly Linked to Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law
  • Comprehensive Coverage
  • Include Ammunition in the Scope of the Treaty
The paper, Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now, is available at the Peace Now tab above -- and by free email subscriptions.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in your Life | Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

Simplicity brings balance, freedom, and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, “Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simply focus on the essential?”
So begins blogger Joshua Becker. To aid readers in living "a more balanced, joyful lifestyle," he lists his 10 most important thing to simplify your life.

Here's a summary of his suggestions:
  1. Your Possessions - Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. ...
  2. Your Time Commitments ... When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.
  3. Your Goals ... Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.
  4. Your Negative Thoughts ... Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  5. Your Debt ... Sacrifice luxury today to enjoy freedom tomorrow.
  6. Your Words – Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip. [As a writer, editor and plain-language advocate, I especially like this!]
  7. Your Artificial Ingredients – Avoid trans fats, refined grain (white bread), high-fructose corn syrup, and too much sodium. ... 
  8. Your Screen Time – Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. ...
  9. Your Connections to the World ... A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things.
  10. Your Multi-Tasking - Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. ...
This article is featured in my daily online paper, Garbl's Simple Gifts -- available at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.
For more information on clear, concise writing, check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Some Pet Peeves of Editorial Style -- In Alphabetical Order

Every so often, I'll be cutting and pasting items from my online reference, Garbl's Editorial Style Manual, that crop up in work I'm editing ... and bug me. 

So, starting with the A's:

abbreviations and acronyms Stop! Before reading the rest of this item, ask yourself: "Do I want to abbreviate or shorten a word or phrase to aid me as the writer and typist, or do I want to aid the reader?" If your answer is "the reader," you're on the right track. Must you abbreviate continued, additional, average or attorney?

Use abbreviations and acronyms only when they will help your readers by making written text simpler and less cumbersome. If you're trying to save yourself time and energy as the writer or typist, your priorities are a mess. Do not use an abbreviation or acronym that would confuse your readers, that they would not recognize quickly. When in doubt, spell it out.

Do not provide an abbreviation or acronym after spelling out a term if the shortened version isn't used elsewhere in the document.

adjacent to Pompous. Simplify. Replace with next to, besidebynear or close to.

alleged Often misused. Don't use this adjective to describe something that is true or already verified. For example, if the police have verified that a burglary happened, it's simply a burglary; it's not an alleged burglary, even if they don't have a suspect in the crime. And when they arrest someone for the crime, he is a suspect; he's not an alleged suspect. Drop alleged. The person accused of the burglary, however, is an alleged burglar. And if he's convicted of the crime, he's no longer the alleged burglar; he is the burglar in that crime.

allow, enable, permit Enable means "to help, make possible, practical or easy": The new trucks will enable the company to provide better service. Allowand permit suggest power or authority to give or deny. Permit suggests formal sanction, approval, consent or authorization. Allow, in contrast, suggests merely the absence of opposition or refraining from banning actions: The city permitted the TV station to broadcast from the park. Our supervisor allows us to dress casually on Fridays.

Also, think about using simpler help for enable and let for allowThe new trucks will help the company provide better service. Our supervisor lets us dress casually on Fridays

alternate, alternative Often misused or confused. As a verb, alternate means to occur in turns--first one, then the other--or every other one in a series:Day alternates with night. As an adjective, it means arranged by turns: The chefs worked on alternate weekends. As a noun, it means a substitute: He's my alternate to the convention. As a noun and adjective, alternative means a choice between two things or among several things: They preferred an alternative landscape plan for the park. The alternatives are native Northwest plants and (not or) imported plants. Think about using simpler choice as a noun and different or other as an adjective.

amenity Usually plural as amenities, it's vague and overused. Simplify. Think about using conveniences or features instead, or be more specific: The new park features a wading pool and climbing toys.

America, American Though often used as a description for residents of the United States, American also may be applied to any resident or citizen of nations in the Caribbean and North, Central and South America. And America may be applied to any of those geographic areas. When possible, use a more precise term: United States or U.S. instead of AmericaU.S. citizen or U.S. resident instead of Americanhistory of the United States or U.S. historyinstead of American history. Because they are used only in the United States, terms such African American, Asian American and Mexican American may be used.

and, but Some teachers wisely taught us not to begin every sentence or fragment of a sentence with and (or but). And others taught us mistakenly not to begin any sentence with those conjunctions. Whatever the lesson, the result has been a common misunderstanding that it's incorrect to begin sentences with conjunctions. Ignore that myth!

And and but are simple, clear and correct transition words between related (and) and contrasting (but) sentences. Go ahead and use 'em--And instead ofAdditionally, Furthermore, In addition or Moreover, and But instead of However. But don't overdo it. They'll lose their punch. A comma is unnecessary following And and But at the beginning of a sentence.

approximately Overstated. Replace approximately with simpler about, nearly, roughly or almostAbout approximately is redundant. Drop approximately.

assist, assistance Overstated and formal. Try simpler help unless someone has special skills to assist someone else.

at this juncture Formal. Use only when writing about a significant or critical activity or time. Critical junction is redundant. Pompous and comical if misused. Try using simpler now instead.

awesome Cliche. Depending on your point, try good, inspiring, wonderful, impressive, serious or difficult. And better yet: Give details about why you think something is "awesome."

Persuasive Writing – Powerful Ways to Engage Your Readers - RINF: Webmaster Tips Help & Online Business, Internet Marketing News

This blogger begins by emphasizing that persuasive writing must create a "win-win situation" benefiting both readers and the writer. That focus is important for sales, the Web and blogs, he writes ( and most o other purposes too).

RNF writes:
When I first started writing sales orientated content I made some big mistakes. I tried to sell too hard and now I look back I realise this was actually putting readers off rather than drawing them in. I focused too much on the general benefits of the product itself instead of how it could benefit the reader personally. This was not persuasive in that it didn’t present a winning situation for the target audience.
RNF provides an example of how he goofed in his initial persuasion attempts but how he turned that mistake into a lesson learned.

He then describes three of his techniques "to help make my content writing more persuasive and engaging to readers": repetition, clear reasons, and consistency.  
For more related advice, check out Garbl's Action Writing Links. It's an annotated directory of websites that can help you get people to read your writing, keep readers interested and persuade them to respond while they're reading or afterward.

Also check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. The first step is Focusing on your reader and purpose

Mitt Romney and the New Gilded Age | Robert B. Reich, The Nation

Some excerpts from Reich's article in the July 16-23, 2012, edition of The Nation
We’ve entered a new Gilded Age, of which Mitt Romney is the perfect reflection. The original Gilded Age was a time of buoyant rich men with flashy white teeth, raging wealth and a measured disdain for anyone lacking those attributes, which was just about everyone else. Romney looks and acts the part perfectly, offhandedly challenging a GOP primary opponent to a $10,000 bet and referring to his wife’s several Cadillacs. ...
We’ve had wealthy presidents before, but they have been traitors to their class—Teddy Roosevelt storming against the 'malefactors of great wealth' and busting up the trusts, Franklin Roosevelt railing against the 'economic royalists' and raising their taxes, John F. Kennedy appealing to the conscience of the nation to conquer poverty. Romney is the opposite: he wants to do everything he can to make the superwealthy even wealthier and the poor even poorer, and he justifies it all with a thinly veiled social Darwinism.
Not incidentally, social Darwinism was also the reigning philosophy of the original Gilded Age, propounded in America more than a century ago by William Graham Sumner, a professor of political and social science at Yale, who twisted Charles Darwin’s insights into a theory to justify the brazen inequality of that era: survival of the fittest. Romney uses the same logic when he accuses President Obama of creating an “entitlement society” simply because millions of desperate Americans have been forced to accept food stamps and unemployment insurance, or when he opines that government should not help distressed homeowners but instead let the market “hit the bottom,” or enthuses over a House Republican budget that would cut $3.3 trillion from low-income programs over the next decade. It’s survival of the fittest all over again. ...
The reforms of the Progressive Era at the turn of the twentieth century saved American democracy from the robber barons, but the political power of great wealth has now resurfaced with a vengeance. And here again, Romney is the poster boy. ...
Robert B. Reich, chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. His latest book, Beyond Outrage, will be out in paperback in September.

This article is featured in today's (July 1) Footprints: Progressive Steps -- available at the Progressive Politics tab above and by free email subscription.

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