Saturday, October 27, 2012

Plain Language is the Antidote to Grandiosity | Rod Sweet, ThoughtLeaders

After defining grandiose (from the headline), Sweet's article notes a mystery of writing in marketing and public relations:
For some reason, businesses that sell to other businesses are more prone to grandiosity in their written content. Businesses that sell to end users, like Google, Facebook, Netflix and big online retailers, make sure what they write connects. Even their corporate news releases are easy to understand.
Grandiose, BTW, means affected, extravagant, highfalutin, ostentatious, pretentious. And Sweet adds: “fatal for reader connection.”

He continues by describing a "cure for grandiosity." Simply: "stop transmitting and start communicating." Instead of writing to please themselves and their institutional egos, successful companies learn how to communicate with their customers. 

Sweet's column then provides useful advice on connecting with customers. He concludes:
It takes many expensive minutes to write and get approval for a press release. If it’s a dud, it’s a waste of expensive minutes, and there is also the opportunity cost of a missed connection.
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This article is featured today (Oct. 27) in Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription. (Please note that the article is headlined there as "How Speaking Plainly Improves Your Communications.")

For more advice on plain language, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes these seven steps to clear, concise communication:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.

The time is now to craft a sane nuclear policy | Jon Rainwater and Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, San Jose Mercury News

Referring in their column to the final presidential debate this year, the authors write:
Preventing additional countries from gaining these weapons is crucial. But we thoroughly undermine the moral standing we need to stop other countries from building their first nuclear weapon when we are still deploying 8,000 of our own.
They continue:
Whoever wins the presidential election has an opportunity to be a leader of vision who can end the Cold War nightmare of nuclear disaster and create a nuclear weapons policy that fits the realities of the 21st century.  ...
The next time the world hangs at the precipice of nuclear annihilation, the cause is far more likely to be a bomber's computer glitch or a terrorist cell smuggling a warhead into an American harbor than the geopolitical brinkmanship of presidents.
The column concludes by quoting Gen. Colin Powell, who oversaw 28,000 nuclear weapons as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
These weapons "are useless ... this is the moment when we have to move forward and all of us come together to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eliminate them from the face of the Earth."
________
This article is featured today (Oct. 27) in my daily online paper, Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now--available at the Peace Now tab above and by free email subscription.

The Mainstream Media's Trivial Pursuit of Campaign 2012 | Eric Alterman, The Nation

The main point of Alterman's excellent column:
While neglecting the real issues—and ignoring the radicalization of the Republican Party—reporters obsess over made-up “gaffes” and meaningless campaign moments.
Alterman writes, responding to a self-centered, self-pitying concern of journalists that the 2012 presidential campaign is "joyless" (emphasis added):
For the consumers of American journalism, a k a “voters,” however, this campaign has not merely been joyless; it’s been all but substanceless—when it hasn't been deliberately deceptive. For despite the participation of tens of thousands of journalists spending tens of millions of dollars using a dizzying array of communications technology devoted to covering the campaign, the system ultimately fails to justify itself in its most essential purpose: to ensure accountability for citizens and their leaders and to offer the kind of information necessary to help voters make an educated choice for the future of their country.
Alterman describes two of the main reasons for the incompetent news coverage:
First is the role that the relentless focus on campaign trivia plays in the coverage. Save fundraising, which is usually done privately, nothing much happens for most of the time that reporters are assigned to cover campaigns. The result is that most end up filing stories so trivial and ultimately meaningless it’s hard to imagine that even their authors could today defend their relevance or significance. ...
The second, and related, dynamic involves the inability of mainstream reporters to admit to, and account for, the radicalization of the Republican Party—whether it involves the candidates’ commitment to extremist ideology, or their refusal to allow observable reality to compete with their economic theories, their scientific ignorance, or their loyalty to billionaire funders like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson. ...  
And that point leads to a larger indictment of the news media--not just in this election but also in the incompetence of misguided journalists in covering many issues through the country, throughout the planet.

Alterman writes;
So intense is journalists’ belief that they must find a way to blame “both sides” for whatever one candidate happens to say or do—whether it’s telling an outright lie, making a 180-degree change in position, or refusing to accept a simple economic or scientific fact—that the Republicans have largely been given a pass for the consequences of their Tea Party takeover. ...
This tendency not only creates a false “center” between the two parties—one in which ideologically driven, reality-denying and frequently paranoid conspiracy theories, together with outright, deliberate lies, are treated as perfectly legitimate positions from which members of the punditocracy feel compelled to demand “bipartisan” compromise from Obama and the Democrats.
As a former journalism student, newspaper editor and reporter, and college journalism instructor, I know that such attitudes and behavior by far too many journalists are based on a significant misunderstanding of the lessons in j-school to be fair, objective and balanced. (And I write that, admittedly, as a continuing student of the news media and current events who has learned that lesson over time.)

The problem with unquestioned, illogical loyalty to objectivity, fairness and balance is that it places another key principle of journalism--accuracy--in a secondary, less important position. And that is inexcusable. Competent reporters must research and report on the accuracy or completeness of statements made by politicians and other news sources--even to the point of reporting that statements are unintentionally or intentionally wrong or misleading. 

Anyway, back to the rest of Alderman's article. He provides a lot of evidence to confirm the point of his column. And I recommend it all to you. I want to conclude, though, with one of his concluding paragraphs:
Should Mitt Romney become America’s next president, liberals and centrists will no doubt find many potential culprits on whom to hang responsibility. But one point appears inarguable: a vigorous, serious and unstinting focus on Romney and the Republicans’ plans for the country, coupled with sharp and sustained analysis of the disjunction between their actual views and the ones they profess for the purpose of winning elections, would demonstrate that they are well outside the consensus of American voters. Yet because the mainstream media cannot be depended on to provide even the rudiments of an accurate portrayal of the two parties’ positions on the major questions facing the nation, the United States now stands on the brink of four years of catastrophic misrule.
________
This article from The Nation is featured today (Oct. 27) in my daily online paper, Footprints  Progressive Steps--available at the Progressive Politics tab above and by free email subscription.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ending Rape Illiteracy | Jessica Valenti, The Nation

President Barack Obama stated the facts clearly and concisely the other day, and Valenti's article goes into great depth on what to do about this significant issue of language, crime, women's rights, culture, and politics.

Obama on Oct. 24, 2012:
I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas. Rape is rape. It is a crime and so these various distinctions about rape, don’t make too much sense to me, don’t make any sense to me.
Valenti writes:
Despite decades of activism on sexual assault—despite common sense, even—there is still widespread ignorance about what rape is, and this absence of a widely understood and culturally accepted definition of sexual assault is one of the biggest hurdles we have in chipping away at rape culture.
She refers to disgusting statements and beliefs of a couple of Republican senatorial candidates and others: "legitimate rape" and pregnancy from rape "as something that God intended."

Valentie writes:
The definition of who is a rape victim has been whittled down by racism, misogyny, classism and the pervasive wink-wink-nudge-nudge belief that all women really want to be forced anyway. The assumption is that women are, by default, desirous of sex unless they explicitly state otherwise. And women don’t just have to prove that we said no, but that we screamed it.
Referring to a recent court decision in Connecticut, she writes:
This is not just a problem of rhetoric or legalese. The lack of an accepted cultural definition of rape leaves room for mischaracterizations that turn back the clock on progress already made.
Valenti discusses a term popularized five years ago in a book and magazine article by an anti-feminist writer: "gray rape"--supposedly caused by "hookups, mixed signals, and alcohol” and “the idea that women can be just as bold and adventurous about sex as men are.”

But Valenti writes:
There is nothing “gray” about this. There is nothing gray about violence, there is nothing gray about “choke on it,” there is nothing gray about rape. But thanks to this made-up definition that isn't recognized by law, medical professionals or sexual assault advocates—and that puts the blame for assault on women’s sexuality—this young woman and countless others think that maybe the sexual assault that was perpetrated against them was something less than a violent crime.
The rest of her article is a valuable discussion about what feminists should do to counter bad policies, bad legislation, and cultural weaknesses and uncertainties.

She writes:
[W]hat’s crucial is that we make a shift from targeting pieces of the culture in a reactive way to proactively changing the broader culture in a more lasting way. We need to spend less time worrying about ultraconservative misogynists and extremist politicians and focus on shifting the way we all think about sexual assault and consent. We need to think and act much, much bigger. ...
The time is ripe for going big. The American public, young women especially, are ready for a new message about sexuality and for a definition of rape that is accurate, strong, progressive and indisputable. ...
Clearly, this is just one piece of a tremendous battle. A widely accepted definition of rape—even a progressive, feminist one—will not change everything, and it won’t eradicate rape. But it is a necessary step to shift the culture. ...
Thanks to widespread online activism and women’s issues dominating election discourse, feminism is enjoying a moment of real cultural power. Now is the time to use it.
_______
Valenti's article in The Nation is featured today in my online paper, Footprints: Progressive Steps--available at the Progressive Politics tab above and by free email subscription.

Four Steps to Busting Stereotypes With Strategic Stories | Alexandra Christy, The Communicaitons Network

Christy's article begins with a couple of questions about problems facing organizations with diverse audiences, customers and clients:
  • Are stereotypes about the people you serve getting in the way of achieving your communications goals? 
  • So how do you improve public attitudes toward the people you serve? 
To help communications staff address the concerns of their audience, she asks and comments on the following four questions, but I was especially interested in her comments about the third question:
  1. What does the audience currently feel about the people involved—and what do you want them to feel?
  2. What are the misperceptions about the people involved—and what does the audience not know that would make them feel more positively?
  3. What would surprise the audience about the people involved?
  4. What value do you want to activate?
She writes about No. 3:
In focus groups we conducted, just switching the order of two words—“Muslim American” to “American Muslim”—evoked more positive feelings. When the word Muslim came first, it suggested to the audience that the person valued their religion above the country. When the word American came first, it suggested that the person was a citizen, loyal to the country, shared their values and contributed to society.
Her findings interested me because style manuals and dictionaries name an American citizen's country of origin or heritage first; for example, Japanese American, African American, Mexican American, Norwegian American, Native American. (Hyphens are typically inserted when those terms modify another word, such as African-American history, Norwegian-American celebration).

And as she notes, that word order could be interpreted to place secondary emphasis on the fact that they're Americans. They're Muslim first, Mexican first, Native first. But are they? Or does a particular person want to be considered American first, rather than as an American who's African, Norwegian and so on?

Grammatically, on the other hand, the common word order is correct. An adjective modifying a noun typically goes before the noun, thus a green car, a beautiful photo, a wonderful day. So the common style for referring to race does treat American as a noun and the race as "only" an adjective modifying that noun.

I'm also thinking of preferred editorial style when referring to people with disabilities. Not to suggest at all that a person's race is a disability (or unimportant), but the preference for naming a disability is to "put the person first." Thus: The man who is blind. The child who is paralyzed. The woman with a mental illness (and not the blind man, the paralyzed child, the mentally ill woman). 

I don't have an easy recommendation for these ideas, especially since the current style for referring to race is so ingrained in our language (and grammatically correct). But as most style manuals also recommend: 
  • First, mention a person's race (or age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or other modifying characteristic) only when it's relevant. 
  • And second, ask the person how she or he wants to be identified (perhaps suggesting options if doing that seems appropriate)!
For more related advice, visit these entries in my Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
__________
Christy's article is featured today (Oct. 26) in Garbl's Good Cause Communications--available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mad Dash: How to Use the Dash in Writing - Ben Yagoda, NYTimes.com

Yagoda's column jumps right in to explaining clearly the two main uses of the dash (also noting that a dash is not a hyphen). And he explains how to use them for those purposes.

Summarized, here they are:
  • the Pause Dash. It more or less says to the reader, “Right here, I want you to take a breath. ..."
  • the Parenthetical Dash, in which dashes are deployed in pairs and set off nonessential elements of the sentence.
He also notes a third purpose--"to indicate disjointedness"--that doesn't follow any rules.

Yagoda continues by describing how well-known writers have used dashes. The examples help put a real-life context around the rules.

My online editorial style manual on dashes provides similar advice:

dash (--) Long dashes, called em dashes, have three main uses. In these uses, em dashes are usually less formal but more emphatic substitutes for other typical punctuation marks. To preserve the impact of dashes, avoid overusing them.
First, use an em dash to explain, justify or stress in the second part of a sentence something in the first part: Fans filled all the seats--the concert hall was packed! The new shopping mall will open Tuesday--if the air-conditioning works. The project was finished on time, within scope--and under budget. The manager was new to the agency--brand new.
Second, use a pair of em dashes to make an emphatic pause or abrupt, parenthetic change in thought within a sentence: The new auditorium--opening six months behind schedule--is getting praise from both critics and audiences. If you'd prefer to play down such a phrase, consider placing it between parentheses instead, or between commas.
Third, use a pair of em dashes to set off a phrase that has a series of words separated by commas: Leif Nelson described the qualities--intelligence, a sense of humor and compassion--he wants in a manager.
As shown in the examples above, do not put a space before or after an em dash (an exception to the rule followed by the Associated Press for newspaper use). Avoid using more than one pair of em dashes in a sentence.
A short dash, called en dash, may be used to mean up to and including when placed between numbers, times, dates and other uses that show range: 1993-96, $25-50, $432,000-$560,000 (but $25 million to $50 million), 55-65 years, 7:15-7:30 a.m. (but 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), ages 15-20, pages 167-78. It also may be used to replace to and versus in capitalized names: the Chicago-New Orleans train, the Huskies-Cougars game. Do not put spaces before and after the en dash. 
Note: A hyphen (-) is not a dash. Most current word processing and design software can create em dashes and en dashes. If not possible, use two hyphens to create an em dash, and substitute a hyphen for an en dash. In Microsoft Word, if you don't space after the second hyphen, the two hyphens become an em dash. 
My style manual also provides advice on using hyphens.

____________
Yagoda's article is featured today (Oct. 25) in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices--available at the editorial style tab above and by free email subscription.

5 Ways Plain Writing Helps You, Your Book and Your Business » Sherry Roberts Notebook

Roberts begins her blog by mentioning the U.S. law requiring use of plain language ion government documents.

But the need for using plain language--aka clear, concise writing--is much more far-reaching than that. And her blog describes good reasons for using it. She writes:
Training people to write clearly ... impacts us all, every day and in many ways. It is not dumbing down our language. It is illuminating, instead of obfuscating. ...
Here's a summary of the reasons:
  1. Maybe you won’t sign away the farm—accidentally. The plain language movement will help simplify all the documents you routinely sign ...
  2. Maybe plain language will keep you out of jail. ... Plain language helps us know what is expected of us and keeps us on the right side of the law.  ...
  3. You’ll be able to find the information you need faster. ... If all the instructions in your life were written more clearly, you might have time to buy more stuff and do more things. ...
  4. If you’re a writer, learning to write simply and with clarity will enhance all areas of your writing. ... I’m not trying to stifle creativity here, but be aware that the more flowery the prose, the less understandable it can be and the harder the reader has to work. ...
  5. Plain language will improve your business. ... If you want to be persuasive, write clearly and succinctly; use plain, jargon-free language and influence customers, co-workers, even your boss. ...
For more advice on using plain language, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes seven steps for producing clear, concise and readable documents:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
_________
This article is featured today (Oct. 25) in my daily newspaper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available tat the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Rethinking Open Checkbook for Security Colossus - Scott Shane, NYTimes.com

After the coming election, I will insist that the president and my senators and representative in Congress rethink the "open checkbook" for national security.

Shane writes in this article:
[T]he next administration may face a decision: Has the time come to scale back security spending, eliminating the least productive programs? Or, with tumult in the Arab world and America still a prime target, would that be dangerous? Many security experts believe that a retrenchment is inevitable and justified.
______
This article is featured today (Oct. 24) in my daily newspaper, Footprints: Progressive Steps--available at the Progressive Politics tab above and by free email subscription.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Business Writing: Acronyms Make Me Work Too Hard! | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

Gaetner-Johnston begins her column with two excellent questions:
What do writers have against me and other readers?

Why do they splatter acronyms and initialisms across their messages to us without telling us what they mean?
I'd like to add a question I suggest to writers in the abbreviations and acronyms entry of my online editorial style manual:
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 writers answer "the reader," they're on the right track. My style manual entry continues:
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. ...
My style manual then provides other specific advice on using--and not using--abbreviations and acronyms. And I recommend it to you.

Gaetner-Johnston writes:
One way to get results is to communicate clearly--to avoid making readers work to discern your meaning.
And then her column lists six rules that I also recommend.
_____________
This article is featured today (Oct. 24) in Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On Tour in Peru: An Account of Our Adventure, Aug. 30-Sept. 16, 2012

My wife and I recently took a "Real Affordable Peru" tour through Overseas Adventure Travel. Here's a description of our wonderful learning experiences in Lima, the Amazon Rain Forest, the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu, and Cusco. 

We traveled with a small, friendly group of people from California, North Carolina, Virginia, and Alberta, Canada. We had a local tour leader and occasionally an assistant guide.

In the text, I've inserted links to appropriate photo albums at my Picasa website. Most photos there aren't captioned (yet), but they follow the order of the text.

Map of Peru

Garbl’s Style: Write Choices | The Coolest Word in the English Language

One article featured in my online paper today (Oct. 23) is headlined The Coolest Word in the English Language. It's based on a Facebook poll to determine the coolest English word.

Discombobulated was No. 1, but the list also includes a favorite word of mine, serendipity (No. 4). The article provides definitions from Merriam-Webster for the top 10.

Other articles featured in today's paper:
  • Grammar & Writing Blog | Grammarly • Keep it simple! Use George Orwell’s six elementary...
  • Grammar Girl : What Is Point of View :: Quick and Dirty Tip
  • Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make « amastyleinsider.
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My online paper is available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

Why Innovation Is About More Than Bright Ideas | Debra Kaye & Jure Klepic, Fast Company

I appreciate the reasonable arguments in this article. Kaye and Klepic write:
Not all bright ideas are innovative, even if they appear to be quite creative. And being a game-changer, not creativity, is what makes the difference between a market-altering product and one that has limited appeal.
As I interpret their article, Kaye and Klepic maintain that creativity for its own sake is not enough--at least when an individual or company is trying to promote and market products and ideas. Winning awards for creativity does not equate to capturing public interest and attention--nor does it relate directly to success in selling a product or idea.

Now, I do pay attention to the topic of creativity. I get Google Alerts about it; I buy books about it; I have a daily online paper about it, Creativity Connections.

But the information that grabs my attention the most highlights, first, real-life methods to enhance creativity but, second, real-life successes and consequences of achieving creativity.

The authors focus on the bottom line of creativity and innovation--how people respond in the marketplace. And I'm fine with that. As the title of my online paper implies, for creativity to be effective, it must create connections among people (as well as connections among ideas, places and things). If not, that creativity is mostly a personal achievement--not that there's anything wrong with that.

But a brilliant photograph or other work of art, wonderful lyrics in a song, or a cool idea about a new computer keyboard inside only an artist's or inventor's studio or work room doesn't inspire action and response by a larger audience.

The authors write:
In terms of business and commerce, a creative idea stops short of being groundbreaking if consumers aren't willing to buy the resulting product or service readily and enthusiastically. Innovation pulls multiple threads together for consumers (quality, usefulness, coolness, look, feel, price, and life-enhancement). While creativity may be unique and even admired, it may not captivate others in a big enough way to change the marketplace. Or, it may not offer benefits that shift the market.
A key point of their article:
Making a connection between ideas and consumer wants, needs, fears, and dreams is essential if marketers want to achieve success.
The authors continue their article by focusing on tools used to market creative, innovative products and ideas.  They conclude:
Creativity in marketing today means finding the social media influencers as well as those capable of being influenced, building relationships, and engaging potential customers much earlier in the consumer relationship. ...
Social marketers today need to break the rules of traditional communication streams, manage their communities differently, and become truly innovative instead of just relying on creativity to alter the market and sell their product.
________
This article is featured today (Oct. 23) in Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity link above and by free email subscription.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the O Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 13th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the O section of Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. My style manual covers editorial issues like abbreviations, addresses, capitalization, English grammar, Internet terminology, numbers, plurals, possessives, punctuation, spelling and word usage. It focuses on U.S. standards for spelling, punctuation, definitions, usage, style and grammar.

Earlier blogs:

A peeves | B peeves | C peeves | D peeves | E peeves | F peeves | G peeves | H peeves | I peeves | J peeves | K & L peeves | M peeves | N peeves

obtain Overstated and formal. Simplify. Use get instead. It's an acceptable, simpler substitute.

obviously Often unnecessary and condescending. If something is obvious, why mention it? But if you do state the obvious, don't insult your readers. Drop obviously

occasion Commonly misspelled. Uses two c's but only one s.

occur, occurred, occurring, occurrence Formal, and commonly misspelled. Double the r when adding to the root word, occur. Use occur or simpler happen to refer to "an accidental or unscheduled event." Use take place to refer to "a planned event": The power outage occurred about 5 p.m. The opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Friday. Instead of the general, formal word occurrence, try using event for a significant occurrence or incident for an event with relatively minor significance.

of major importance Wordy. Simplify by replacing with is important, are important or was important.

OK, OK'd, OK'ing, OKs Preferred spelling. No periods.

old Sometimes used redundantly after words like adage, cliche, maxim, proverb and sayingShe often used old cliches when giving advice. Drop old.

on behalf of, in behalf of Sometimes confused. On behalf of means "as the agent of" or "in place of," often in a formal relationship: The attorney spoke on behalf of her client. Think about substituting the simpler for, representing or speaking for for on behalf ofIn behalf of means "in the interest or for the benefit of," typically acting as friend or defender: The character witness gave evidence in behalf of the defendant. Consider using simpler supporting.

one of the Verbose. Drop of the or use a or an instead. Change: One of the purposes of the meeting was to choose a new chair. To: One purpose of the meeting was to choose a new chair. Or: A purpose of the meeting was to choose a new chair. Also, Don't use the illogical one of the only; instead, choose one of the few.

only Placement of only can change the meaning of a sentence: Only David said he was hungry. (David alone said.) David only said he was hungry. (He was not hungry, but he said he was.) David said he was only hungry. (He was not also thirsty or tired or dirty or angry.) To avoid confusion, place only directly before the word or phrase it modifies. Any words separating only from the word or phrase it's intended to modify can lead to ambiguity and confusion.

on, onto, on to, upon Use onto when two elements work as a compound preposition to mean "movement toward and then over": He jumped onto the horse. But use on to where on is an adverb:We moved on to the next subject. Avoid using upon instead of the simpler on

or When all the elements of a conjunction using or are singular, use a singular verb. When all the elements are plural, use a plural verb. When the subject has a mixture of singular and plural elements, make the verb agree with noun or pronoun nearest it. 

oral, verbal, written Use oral to refer to spoken words: The planner gave an oral presentation. Or be less formal and more specific: The planner gave a talk ... The planner spoke about ... The planner talked about .... Use verbal to compares words with some other form of communication: His facial expression revealed the ideas that his limited verbal skills could not express. Use written to refer to words on paper: The two jurisdictions had a written agreement

orientate Simplify. Use orient instead.

other than Wordy. Simplify. Try using except or besides.

outgoing Be careful in using this word as an adjective describing people. It has two differing meanings: One is going away, retiring or withdrawing from a place or position, and the other is friendly or responsive.

over, more than Over usually refers to one thing being above another thing: The plane flew over Bellevue. More than is preferred when using figures, numbers and amounts: More than 300 people attended the meeting. The document had more than 40 pages. But over may be less awkward in some uses: He is over 40. Let your ear be your guide. 

over and over Wordy. Simplify. Try again or repeatedly.

overexaggerate Redundant and overstated. Drop over.

oversight Potentially misleading euphemism that means both watchful, responsible care and an unintentional omission or error. Think about using supervision as an alternative for the first meaning.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern: Touchstone of Liberalism | John Nichols, The Nation

George McGovern: My vote for him in 1972 was my first vote for a U.S. president and perhaps my proudest vote. I continued to respect his wisdom through all the years since. And as one of my bumper stickers said after Nixon corrupted the office: "Don't blame me, I voted for McGovern."

Nichols writes in this article:
McGovern, who has died at the age of 90, was an uncommonly human and humane national figure. It was that aspect of the man that made his 1972 presidential campaign as the most progressive nominee ever selected by the Democratic Party less of a political endeavor than a popular crusade.
As with all crusades, the measure of defeat or victory comes not in the moment but on the arc of history that assesses the value of the vision and determines whether it will remain vibrant for generations to come. ...
Today, of course, America has accepted -- or is in the process of rapidly accepting -- basic tenets of McGovernism, from the principle that it is smarter to feed the world and treat diseases than wage wars to the premise that a broad civil rights commitment must promote the progress of women, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and lesbians and gays. ...
To the last, McGovern remained engaged, still mixing politics, history, literature and humanity in ways that only a handful of American presidential contenders -- Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Eugene Victor Debs (about whom McGovern the historian wrote), Henry Wallace (whose advocacy for international cooperation inspired McGovern the young World War II), Adlai Stevenson (with whom McGovern campaigned) and his dear friend John Kennedy -- dared attempt. ...
George McGovern wrote in 2011:
A bleeding-heart liberal, by definition, is someone who shows enormous sympathy towards others, especially the least fortunate. ... Well, we ought to be stirred, even to tears, by society’s ills. And sympathy is the first step toward action. Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction "Love the neighbor as thyself."
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