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Saturday, July 14, 2012

About Time: Bill to Enhance Nuclear Security Moves through House | Arms Control Now: The Blog of the Arms Control Association

Wow! I don't know all the background on what led to approval of this legislation by the Republican-led House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. But as far as I know, it was a rare negotiated and reasonable compromise between the house and the Obama administration. 

Kagel writes:
The Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2012 brings the United States into compliance with the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and the 2005 International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT). ...
Now the U.S. Senate must consider it. Kagel writes that senate approval and subsequent ratification of the two treaties will accomplish these things:
  • Enhance the national security of the United States ...
  • Strengthen international counterterrorism and nonproliferation legal framework ...
  • Encourage other nations to ratify the treaties as well ....
The article concludes:
Will the United States continue holding up another international nuclear weapons and materials related treaty from entering into force? Congress needs to get its act together and finally pass legislation required to ratify the CPPNM as amended and the ICSANT.
When it comes to preventing a nuclear terrorist attack, Congress should be doing whatever it can, as quickly as it can, to protect the United States. Further delays in ratifying these treaties only helps rogue actors reach their goals. It’s about time Congress gets this right.
This article is featured in today's (July 14) Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now -- available at the Peace Now tab above and by free email subscription.

Learn How to Enhance Your Own Creative Genius | Skip Prichard, Leadership Insights

You teach that we need to shift our frame of reference in order to see things from a new vantage point. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this shift? 
That's one of the questions Prichard asks in this interview with Tina Seelig, author of a new book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity. Seelig is the director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation and the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. 
Prichard writes:
Read her book and you will find yourself on the front row of her always-filled class on innovation. It’s a practical guide helping anyone improve his or her creativity. 
Here are some highlights of Seelig's answers to Prichard's questions:

Are we born with a creative gene or are we able to learn it as a skill? ...
That we have the ability to come up with an endless set of novel responses to the world around us is a constant reminder that we are naturally inventive.
You teach that we need to shift our frame of reference in order to see things from a new vantage point. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this shift? ...
For example, how would a child or a senior see the situation? What about an expert or a novice, or a local inhabitant versus a visitor? A wealthy person or poor one? A tall person or a short one? Each angle provides a different perspective on the situation and unleashes new insights. ...
I really appreciated the concept you called “creative procrastination” to build up “creative pressure.” Explain that concept and how you can use it to your advantage.
Every environment has constraints. They include some combination of time, money, space, people, and competition. These constraints sharpen your imagination and enhance innovation. ...
You discuss experimentation and how it isn’t always supported in various work environments. How can organizations help foster a culture to encourage creative thinking? ...
The key is to get concepts out in front of others as soon as possible so that everyone gets rapid feedback on their ideas. ... Experiments provide essential information—whether they work out as you had hoped or not. In fact, failed experiments are incredibly valuable in that they help close off paths that aren’t viable. ...
Attitude plays a huge role in success. How have you seen belief make a difference in someone’s success? ...
That is, your mind-set is a key determinant in how you interpret and respond to situations. ... Essentially, if you believe something is possible, then it is.
This article is featured in today's (July 14) Garbl's Creativity Connections. It's available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Garbl’s Simple Dreams: 24 Things to Do To Enjoy Doing Nothing

This online paper for today (July 14) features three articles especially appropriate for a weekend, though I'm sure the authors would say: "Do them any day of the week!"

Their titles and a few example suggestions:
10 Ways to Enjoy Doing Nothing
I got out of bed and started a magazine called The Idler, in order to remind people of the forgotten, simple pleasures of doing nothing. I even wrote books about it. And, yes, you could say that idleness became my life’s work. So, based on all those years of tough-going research, here are my top tips for people who find it difficult to just be.
4. Go bumbling. Bumbling is a nice word that means “wandering around without purpose.” It was indulged in by the poets of 19th-century Paris. They called themselves flâneurs and were said to have taken tortoises around on leads, which gives you an idea of the tempo of their rambles. Children are good bumblers. Try making a deliberate effort to slow down your walking pace. You’ll find yourself coming alive, and you’ll enjoy simply soaking in the day.
7. Lie in a field. Doing nothing is profoundly healing―to yourself and to the planet. It is precisely our restless activity that has caused the environmental crisis. So do some good by taking a break from “doing” and go and lie on your back in a field. Listen to the birds and smell the grass.
What to do with Nothing to do
If you are used to being very busy, a block of time with nothing to do can actually be frightening. What will you do with nothing to do? Initially your mind will race about all the things you should be doing, all the things you are missing out on, and all the things that you have to do when you are done doing nothing. Give it a try anyway, and keep practicing. It will get easier, and then it will become fun, and then you will do whatever it takes to make it part of your daily life.
Gratitude. Use this time to be grateful. Think of 5 things that happened in the past hour that you are thankful for. Let gratitude open your heart to joy.
Spontaneity. You have nothing to do, but if something comes up that makes your heart sing, lean into it.
Simplify. :zenhabits
Simplify everything. That might sound hard, but with practice it’s actually fairly easy, and leads to a quiet, content, lovely life full of space, with only the things in it that matter to me: my family, my writing, with some reading and workouts thrown in.
Block off some disconnected time. The Internet is amazing, but always being connected means you’re always pulled in a thousand directions at once. It’s hard to focus, hard to connect with others, hard to get out into nature and be active. So schedule some time every day for disconnection: maybe a block in the morning where you get your best work done, and a block in the afternoon when you get out and active, or connect with friends or family.
Wash your bowl. When you’re done eating, mindfully wash your bowl. When you’re done with anything, get in the habit of pausing before moving onto the next thing, and cleaning up after yourself. Put your food away. Put your clothes where they belong. Put your keys in one spot. Clean the sink before you leave it. This simple habit will keep you mindful while saving you lots of cleanup later.
Or, as Henry David Thoreau once said:
In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
Garbl's Simple Dreams is available daily at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.

Friday, July 13, 2012

13 Plain Language - The Canadian Style - TERMIUM Plus® - Translation Bureau

This extremely informative, helpful Web page is at the website of the Canadian federal government. A statement there notes:
The Government of Canada calls for plain language to be used in its communications with the public ....
In its introduction, the site explains (emphasis added):
The purpose of a plain-language approach in written communication is to convey information easily and unambiguously. It should not be confused with an oversimplified, condescending style. Rather, by choosing straightforward vocabulary and sentence structures and by organizing and presenting your material clearly and logically, you can save the reader time and effort and ensure that your message will be clearly understood.
This site is prepared for government workers. But, of course, plain language is a method of writing that can -- and should -- be used in all fields.

The site describes the plain-language approach in these steps:
13.02 Focusing on the reader
13.03 Text organization
13.04 Vocabulary
(a) Use simple, familiar words and phrases ....
(b) Choose verbs over verb-noun phrases ....
(c) Cut out unnecessary words ....
(d) Avoid jargon ...
(e) Explain complicated ideas. ...
(f) Avoid chains of nouns. ...
13.05 Sentences
  • Keep sentences concise. ...
  • Make your point clearly. ... 
  • Use the active voice. ...
  • Convey your message positively. ...
13.06 Layout and design
  • Choose appropriate type. ...
  • Use open space. ...
  • Create contrast. ... 
13.07 Testing
This article is featured in today's (July 13) Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs -- available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

For more information, also check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes the process in similar steps to the article featured here (but with more advice and information).

Growing Ideas is a Process, Not a Lightning Bolt | Carolyn Kaufman, Psychology Today

Supporting her myth-breaking statement that creative "ideas do not explode fully formed from the unconscious like a bolt of lightning," Kauffman writes:
A lot of the research suggests that most writers use a complex, multi-stage process when they create. Different researchers have named different stages, so the discussion that follows merges several theories to give you an overall picture. You’ll notice that the bolt of lightning doesn’t happen until Stage 5.
Here's a summary of the stages Kauffman describes:
Stage 1: Problem Finding/Formulation
Even before you identify an initial idea—even before you start asking “what if” questions—you may need to explore the elements of the problem. ...
Stage 2: Preparation
Preparation involves analyzing the context of the problem, defining what’s needed, and then drawing on one’s existing education and ability to solve problems ....
Stage 3: Frustration
Some stage theories include a frustration stage in which the individual reaches a limit on her ability to deal with the problem/idea. ... According to researchers, this frustration may lead to the crucial next stage.
Stage 4: Incubation
During the incubation stage, you’re not consciously working on the idea, but your unconscious is, trying out different associations or idea combinations. ... The trick with the incubation stage is to keep your unconscious working. It will give up if you do. ...
Stage 5: Illumination
Once the unconscious happens upon something good, it pushes the idea out to the conscious mind. ... Of course, the illumination phase is the most delicate stage of the process ....
Stage 6: Verification
Once you get the idea, it’s still just a seed—it needs to be evaluated, developed, and refined … which may again push you back to the Preparation stage.
Kauffman concludes:
Remember, creativity is fluid; it requires flexibility and a willingness to try things others might not. It also requires you to be an active part of the development of the idea … even when you’re feeling frustrated!
This article is featured in today's (July 13) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

How to Be a Peacemaker |

This article appeared in today's (July 13) edition of Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now! -- available at the Peace Now tab above. It's less about advocating peace between nations and more about encouraging peace between individuals. An excellent idea!

But, its 10 instructions on how to be a peacemaker and its tip and warning for that process certainly should be part of interactions and negotiations among the individuals involved in international peacemaking. 

Here's a summary of the instructions:
  1. Resolve to be a peacemaker. ...
  2. Practice positive thinking. ...
  3. Show respect as you approach the other party ...
  4. Set ground rules like avoiding name-calling, yelling or blaming. ...
  5. Aim to achieve mutual benefit. ...
  6. Listen attentively ....
  7. Show empathy ....
  8. Focus on solving the present problem ....
  9. Brainstorm to come up with a plan that works for everyone. ...
  10. Confirm what needs to be done ....
And its tip and warning:
  • Be an active learner. ...
  • Learn to be thick skinned as you will take a lot of flack. ...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

13 minutes to doomsday | Editorial, The Washington Post

I don't often agree with the editorial board of the Washington Post. Although it once was considered a liberal newspaper, it's become more and more conservative, especially on issues of war and peace.

But the lead editorial on Monday was a nice surprise. The editorial, 13 Minutes to doomsday, outlines what should be a no-brainer, the case for the United States and Russia to take our nuclear weapons off hair-trigger, launch-ready alert.

The title of the editorial refers to the time a president would have to make a decision to launch our nuclear missiles in response to a report that the US is under nuclear attack.  Not a lot of time to prevent doomsday.

The editorial concludes:
Clearly, there won’t be any arms control negotiations with Russia this election year. But this is a complex problem that could benefit from careful preparation. Mr. Obama has declared his commitment “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” A good start would be to give himself and mankind some breathing room. Today, the United States and Russia have as many as 1,800 warheads on alert at any given time. This is overkill and unnecessary so long after the Cold War has ended. We think that both countries should ease off the alert status for strategic forces.
This web page of Peace Action includes a message that people can modify and send to President Obama, urging him to take this simple step to make our country -- and our planet -- safer.

For other related information, check out the Peace Now tab above. It's my daily online paper called Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now.

Garbl's Writing Bookshelf: Recommended Books on Writing

If you're interested in writing resources for your bookshelf or alongside your computer -- or for the desk of a friend, relative or colleague -- check out Garbl's Writing Bookshelf!

There you'll find an annotated list of books I recommend and others available for purchase online through my association with (I make a very small commission on books bought through my website.)

I haven't added other useful books here for a while. But stay tuned! I'm planning to review some new and older books here and add them to my online bookshelf. (Also available are contemporary novels by some of my Favorite Fiction Writers. I also need to update that list.)

As I note at the site, here are the six reference books I keep on my desk near my computer for quick, easy access: 
I also subscribe to the online version of the AP Stylebook. The Chicago and Gregg manuals also have online versions by subscription. Next to my desk is a bookshelf with six shelves of other books on all aspects of writing. 
Garbl's Writing Bookshelf is part of Garbl's Writing Center. At this portal to the Web, you can find these free writing tools:

Our Gardenbrain Economy | Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer, New York Times

An economy is a garden. It can be fruitful if well tended but will be overrun by noxious weeds if not.

WE are prisoners of the metaphors we use, even when they are wildly misleading. Consider how political candidates talk about the economy. Last month President Obama praised immigrants as “the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.” Mitt Romney says that extending the Bush-era tax cuts will “fuel” a recovery. Others fear a “stall” in job growth.
Activist/educator Eric Liu and venture capitalist Nich Hanauer, both of Seattle, begin their column with those words. They then go on to describe, metaphorically, how our current outdated "Machinebrain" economy must be replaced by a more realistic "Gardenbrain" economy.
This self-enclosed [Machinebrain] metaphor is the gospel of market fundamentalists. But there is simply no evidence for it. Empirically, trickle-down economics has failed. Tax cuts for the rich have never once yielded more net revenue for the country. The 2008 crash and the Great Recession prove irrefutably how inefficient and irrational markets truly are.
What we require now is a new framework for thinking and talking about the economy, grounded in modern understandings of how things actually work. Economies, as social scientists now understand, aren’t simple, linear and predictable, but complex, nonlinear and ecosystemic. An economy isn’t a machine; it’s a garden. It can be fruitful if well tended, but will be overrun by noxious weeds if not.
The writers describe how the Gardenbrain metaphor "challenges many of today’s most conventional policy ideas" -- including regulation, taxes and spending.

As they conclude, the authors write:
Seeing the economy this way does not make you anti-capitalist. In fact, nothing could be more pro-business and pro-growth than a Gardenbrain approach — because by focusing our attention on the long term over the short, on the power of markets to create wealth through evolutionary adaptations and on the health of the whole rather than a part, it gives us prosperity that is widely shared, sustained and self-reinforcing.
Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer are the authors of The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy and the Role of Government. Eric and Nick also co-authored The True Patriot, and together the two have created the True Patriot Network to advance the book's ideals of progressive patriotism. 

Plain language is a process | Usability in Civic Life

Using a typical election ballot as an example, the blogger describes five steps to make its instructions to voters easier to read, comprehend and use.

The blogger writes:
There are great lists of guidelines and tips for writing in plain language, but when you are faced with making confusing instructions clear, where do you start?
One way is to think about plain language as a process. Instead of trying to get the whole thing write in one try, edit in a series of steps.
Here are headings for the five steps:
  1. Put the instructions in a logical order
  2. Remove centering and capitals. Add emphasis on the most important instructions
  3. Simplify phrases to use common words
  4. Continue simplifying and using active phrasing
  5. Make the text large enough to see
As the blogger concludes:
The final version is short, clear, direct, and easier to read.
This article is featured in today's (July 12) Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs -- available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

For more information, check out Garbl's Plain English Writing GuideIt describes seven steps to help you write clearly to meet the needs of your readers -- and your needs too!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rules for Spelling Differences Between British and American English | English Language Blog

This article provides useful information about the "predictable differences" in spelling words in Great Britain and the United States. And as the headline says, it provides "rules you can follow to learn these differences."

Blogger Gabriele writes:
It is important to keep in mind that even though these words are spelled different in these two different countries, the meanings of these differently spelled words remains the same. There is no right or wrong spelling of these words in English, but it is important to keep in mind that they are spelled differently in the context of the two cultures.
The rules cover these differences between words in Great Britain and the U.S.:
  • Words that end in: -our / -or
  • Words that end in: -re / -er
  • Words that end in: -ise /-ize
  • Words that end in: -yse / -yze
  • Words that end in: -ogue, -og
  • Words that end in: silent –e
  • Words that end in: past tense -ed
Also, an earlier article, "British English and American English Spelling Differences," focuses on some common words that don't fit dependable rules that govern many of these cross-Atlantic spelling differences.

Instead, Gabriele describes the spelling differences of the following words in the U.S. and Great Britain. I've supplemented most of Gabriele's descriptions with entries from Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. It emphasizes the U.S. spelling and use, sometimes differing a bit from Gabriele's advice:

dependant/dependent -- dependent Commonly misspelled.

disc/disk -- Use disc for compact discs, laser discs, videodiscs, disc jockeys and phonograph records. Use disk for computer terms like hard disk, disk drive and disk space. A floppy disk is a diskette.

enquiry/inquiry -- Synonymous, but inquiry is more commonly used in at least the United States--and thus the preferred choice. Also consider using simpler question.

ensure/insure -- Commonly confused, though ensure is usually the correct choice. Use ensure to mean guarantee or make certain of something, or try using simpler be sure or make sure. Use insure for references to insurance. See assure.

gray/grey -- Gray is the preferred spelling.

insurance/assurance -- assure Assure means "to state confidently to another person or group that something has been or will be done": The director assured the council that staff will act on the resolution. See the ensure, insure.



Garbl’s Simple Dreams: "27 Simple Sages Reveal How They Simplify, Organize Their Amazing Lives"

My daily online paper about simplicity, Garbl's Simple Dreams, features an article today (July 11) that compiles useful, inspired, expert advice on simplifying our lives.

Joel Zaslofsky, author of the article, "27 Simple Sages Reveal How They Simplify, Organize Their Amazing Lives," writes that he posed this question to the experts on simplicity:
What are two core principles or life experiences that are crucial to your success in simplifying life, personal finance, or your overall organization?
Zaslofsky explains that he framed the question so each person responding could come at it from a different angle and add unique insight. Some people, for example, latched onto their organizing principles. And others focused on simple life experiences or the role that money plays for them.

He writes:
Their responses totally blew me away and I believe they will do the same for you.
My online paper is available at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.

Show plain language your sensitive side in our multilingual society | Caryn Gootkin, The Media Online

In this article, blogger Gootkin cautions against the temptation to overwrite and baffle with jargon, focusing on why plain language is so important in her country of South Africa:
[I]nflated language and overwritten descriptions work well for humour. Especially if the topic you are making fun of is the annoying tendency to use inflated language and overwritten descriptions.
But beyond that, there is no reason for such loquaciousness.
Emphasizing that elegance in writing, stylistic flourishes and witty wordplay are fine, Gootkin draws the line at verbosity.
You should always write in plain language, no matter what the context of your writing is, because you will get your message across more quickly and in a way that more people can understand more easily. ...
She notes that South African law compels the use of plain language when communicating with consumers. But she suggests it should be required in every field, with one exception.
If you are a technical specialist, and are communicating only with other specialists in your field, knock yourself and your peers out with jargon and grandiloquence, if you must. But not when there is a chance one of us mere mortals will read your writing.
We need to be sensitive, Gootkin writes, in our choice of words and sensitive to the needs for potential readers.
If your writing is not "user friendly" you will alienate the vast majority of your potential readers, either because they can’t understand what you need them to or because they are too annoyed by your arrogance to bother to try.
This article is featured in today's (July 11) online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs -- available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

For more advice on this topic, check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. There you can learn how to improve your writing skills by using plain-English techniques:

Transforming Conflict through Art in Libya | Colette Rausch, United States Institute of Peace

It’s a very important message to the wounded, the people who lost their legs or an arm. They got depressed because they’re so young and they lost limbs. So he just wanted to give them the message that even if you are broken, your life is not over. Your life continues and you can be a part of the country. This is the message. That is why he loves the broken things because we all have this, like these failures and these scars inside.
Those are the words of Libya artist Salwa Al-Tajoury, who returned to her native country from France after the end of Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule. According to author Rausch, Salwa felt compelled to return to help her people free themselves from Qaddafi.

Her comment above refers to sculptur Ali Al-Wakwak, who under the former regime had been prohibited to work as an artist.
Now that the fighting was over and Benghazi was free, Al-Wakwak pivoted back to being an artist, now using the detritus of war to sculpt artwork chronicling the horrors of it as well as the promise of humanity.
A former palace of Qaddafi in Benghazi has been transformed into an art-and-war museum. The artwork of Sawa, Al-Wakwak and others is on display at the museum:

Referring to Salwa, Rausch writes:
She still hasn’t come to grips with the fact the violence is over. But despite what she witnessed, she was glad she had come back to play a role. Salwa felt that she was able to help her people in some small way and she could have never remained in the safety and comfort of her home in France while her people were dying and suffering for such a worthwhile cause.
This article is featured in today's paper (July 11), Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now, available at the Peace Now tab above and by free email subscription.

Top 15 Finger Drawings – A New Dimension for Creativity | Best Design Tutorials

Need some creative inspiration ... or at least a chuckle. Check out the finger drawing photos here.

The blogger writes:
Out-of-the-tank thinking is not everyone’s game, it requires creativity. There are various ways in which one can show creativity. ...
In line, also is finger drawings. A cute way to express messages and thoughts, these have opened a new era of creativity. Finger drawings enhance the objective of creativeness. It brings to our notice that with the invention of this technique, getting a drawing done on any part of the body is no longer impossible.
As the blogger suggests:
We have pooled in some finger drawings to inspire you, which will definitely create an urge in your mind to bend towards creativity. We bet that some of you will even try out this form of art in reality.
This article is featured in my daily paper for today (July 11), Garbl's Creativity Connections.  It's available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

About Me: Gary B. Larson of Seattle, Washington

For a change in content today, I'm providing some background about me.

I've been a professional communicator for more than 38 years. From the beginning of my career, my mission was to help people learn about, understand, influence and use the essential services of their government. I have dedicated much of my life to that mission through my work, writing, hobbies, political involvement and continuing education.

After more than 30 years in the public sector, I'm seeking employment, freelance or contract opportunities with progressive firms, agencies and nonprofit organizations that support the environment, the arts, civil rights, health, education and other human services. I want to write for a good cause. I want to be an advocate.

Garbl's Pencil & Good Cause Communications: Ready to write, edit and teach for you

If people can't, don't or won't read your brochure, newsletter, report, letter or website, why publish it? And if people read it but don't do anything as a result, what was the point of publishing it?

As a communications specialist, I will help you connect with people through the written word and prompt your readers to take action that meets your needs -- and theirs. As a writer and editor, I will strive to plan, write or edit documents for you that people will read, keep readers interested, and prompt them to respond while they're reading or afterward. As a writing trainer and coach, I will work with your staff to enhance their writing skills.

I'm especially interested in working with and for progressive firms, agencies and nonprofit organizations that support the environment, the arts, health, education, civil rights, and other human services. I want to write, edit and teach for a good cause. I want to be an advocate.

You can learn more about my services at Garbl's Pencil & Good Cause Communications

Monday, July 9, 2012

Combating Writer’s Block: 6 Tips to Get You Rolling - InboundWriter

When you suffer that inevitable writer's block, the World Wide Web is filled with new and old articles, blogs and websites with advice on how to handle it. Just do a search and you'll find that advice, some useful, some not. The effectiveness of each idea depends on your receptiveness to it, your particular situation and many other factors.

This website is the latest to cross my threshold of email alerts on this topic.

Here's a summary of the blog:
1. Study your competition ...
By remaining informed about the current trends and topics being discussed in the online community, writers can ensure the freshness and relevance of their own entries and hone their creative process to produce the desired results online.
2. Expand your horizons ...
In-depth online research can also provide new angles on the same old subjects and provide you with insight into the current trends in your particular field of interest.
3. Add a personal touch ...
Sharing a personal anecdote can also be an excellent way to restart the creative process and get back to your regular writing schedule more quickly.
4. Establish a pattern ...
By associating your creative process with a particular area and time, you can more easily establish the writing habit and ensure your ability to stick to it.
5. Analyze your market ...
By tailoring your writing to meet the needs of readers, you can often achieve better results and increase your popularity with the audience that matters most.
6. Augmenting the creative process
Writers should also consider services that provide added analytical information and trend data in their field of interest. These innovative services can often provide valuable general information and may suggest new ideas, topics and subjects for your writing. ...
Some other websites with advice on this topic are listed in Writing Process section of Garbl's Writing Resources Online.

To whom it may concern | Grammar Monkeys | Wichita Eagle Blogs

The good news in this article is that most recommended uses of whom are dying, being replaced by who. The sooner the better!

Grammar Monkey writes:
An interrogative (question) sentence like “Who did you see with my brother?” would have had “whom” in times past, but gets “who” almost exclusively now, unless you’re speaking with an incurable fusspot. Likewise, a declarative sentence like “I saw the neighbor who you’re always talking about” would also have had “whom,” but most people will say “who” these days (or leave it out entirely), because the object is not directly after the preposition.
The blogger explains that whom is being dropped everywhere except after a preposition; for example, to whom it may concern.

Various grammar guides (including this article) have tried to explain the use of either who or whom by telling writers to substitute he or him for the confusing pronouns. If he sounds better, use who; if him sounds better, use whom.

But my problem with that test is that to make it work, the writer must rewrite the sentence. The test isn't simply inserting he or him into a sentence as written. Simplicity and clarity are not part of the process even when trying to figure out which word to use.

So I'm glad that writing authorities like Bryan Garner, Patricia T. O'Conner, Bill Walsh and even the venerable Theodore Bernstein (way back in 1971) are OK with this change, now under way.

The blogger concludes:
By now, in 2012, it looks like the revolution’s here. Give it a few years of disarray, as most revolutions require, then let it settle down, and wait for “whom” to get the mark of “archaic” in the dictionaries.
This article is featured in today's (July 9) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Choices tab above and by free email subscription.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Some Pet Peeves of Editorial Style -- In Alphabetical Order: The B Section

Here's the second in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. Here's my blog on A peeves.

back Sometimes used redundantly after verbs like refer, repay, return and revertHe referred back to the events on Tuesday. Drop back.

backward Not backwards.

based on, based upon Wordy. Simplify. Consider deleting or change to by, for, from, because of, after, in, on, through or with. Or use based on, not based upon--and not based around either. Also, avoid phrases like based on my personal opinion or based on the fact that. Instead, use phrases like I contend and I believe, if necessary, or terms like because, considering, for, given, in that and since.

basically Overused and often unnecessary. Simplify. Delete or try mainly, most, mostly, chiefly or largely. And if you must use it, spell it right. Basicly is not a word.

basis Wordy, pompous jargon in phrases like on the basis ofon a day-to-day basis andon a regular basis. Simplify. Replace on the basis of with because of, by or for. Also, usedailyregularlypart-time and similar adverbs instead of on a day-to-day basis, on a regular basis, on a part-time basis and so on.

bay A clear, simple word. An embayment is a bay with two more syllables and six more letters; use embayment only when you're paid, graded or judged superficially on the number of letters you use in a document

beg the question Often misused or confused. Use this cliche only when you're questioning the logic of another statement--that it assumes as true the very point someone is trying to prove. This statement, for example, begs the question: We had to attack first to prevent him from attacking us. Don't use beg the question to suggest that someone is evading an issue or raising another question. But reduce confusion by avoiding the phrase. Instead, explain why you question the logic.

between ... and, from ... to Don't mix these phrases like this: daily wages between $118 to $176 or from 1993 and 1996. It's either between $118 and $176 or from $118 to $176 and from 1993 to 1996 or between 1993 and 1996. Also, avoid replacing the to with a hyphen or em dash in from ... to phrases: He was chair from 1994-98. Instead: He was chair from 1994 to 1998. The hyphen or em dash substitute is OK in adjectival uses: his 1994-98 stint as chair, her Jan. 10-15 trip to Europe

biannual, biennial Biannual means "twice a year"; so does semiannual. Biennial means "every two years." But to avoid confusing readers, use twice a year instead of biannual(and semiannual), and use every two years instead of biennial.

big in size Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in size.

biweekly Does not mean twice a week. Semiweekly means twice a week. To avoid reader confusion, use every two weeks or every other week instead of biweekly (andtwice a week instead of semiweekly).

blue in color Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in color.

bring, take Often confused. Their meaning is similar, but their points of view are different. Bring suggests motion toward the speaker or writer: We bring in the mail. If something is coming to your home or office or city, someone is bringing it. Take suggests motion away from the speaker or writer: We take out the recycling. If something is leaving your home or office or city, someone is taking it. Usually, the distinction is easy to make. But it might be best just to say what feels natural to you if you are offering dessert for a potluck dinner: You'll be bringing it to the potluck (its destination), but you'll betaking it with you from home (its origin). Either way, it'll probably be delicious!

bus, buses The verb forms: bus, bused, busing for the transit vehicles. Save buss, busses, bussed and bussing for kissing your sweetie before he or she boards a bus.

Everything I needed to know about creativity… Creative Ideas & Inspiration

Everything I needed to know about creativity, I learned by making mistakes.

Climate Change: ‘This Is Just the Beginning’ | | AlterNet

Some people -- mostly defenders of mufti-national corporations that create their wealth by exploiting gas and oil resources -- question whether climate change is happening. And some people -- again, mostly defenders of mufti-national corporations that create their wealth by exploiting gas and oil resources -- contend that humans have nothing to do with it and can't affect it anyway.

But the thing is: IF it is happening and IF there are things we can do to prevent it, wouldn't it be reasonable and wise to do those things -- for our own health and safety and the health and safety of our children and future generations?

If it's not happening, we still get a clearer environment by acting.

And if it's happening but we can't do anything about it, we also still get a cleaner environment. 

On the other hand, if it is happening and we can do something about it, we'll not only get a cleaner environment but we'll also enhance our future health and safety. 

And if it is happening and we can do something about it BUT DON'T, we're endangering our health and safety and the future for our children and coming generations. 

So why not act now -- before it's potentially too late to do anything about it!?

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