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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Photography and Creativity Helps Alleviate Stress | Spyros Thalassinos, Make your ideas Art

When I began this blog, I thought one of my regular topics would be photography, travel photography in particular. I'm an active photographer and thought I might post and comment on my photography, providing information and tips, as well as frustrations, about it. But I've found I'm focusing my blog more on writing and creativity.

This article, though, links creativity with photography, and it also discusses using them to relieve stress, a common ailment during this holiday-giving-and-celebrating time of year.

So I'm highlighting this article today. Thalassinos writes:
Using photography and other creative ways will help your mind to open up to beauty that was left unrealized because of depression and stress.
Here are headings for the suggestions in this article about coping with stress through photography and creativity:
  • Photography makes you go out into the world.
  • Creativity gives you an opportunity to be with other people
  • Photography makes you view nature differently
  • Photography makes you preserve who you are
  • Photography makes you feel important
  • Photography alters your perception of beauty.
Thalassinos' article is featured today, Nov. 24, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

The Helpful Guide to Simple Christmas Links [and Communicating Simply] | Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

Giving is a form of communication. But like communication, the purpose of any particular act of giving, the method of giving, the circumstances, the consequences, and the response to giving can be either positive or negative or both.

And we sure experience all those things during the holiday season at year's end. It's often the only time we communicate with some, even many, people--by communicating through Christmas cards and letters. And it's a time when we likely put in more time and effort than usual to communicate with particular people--in what we share with them, what we give to them, what we spend on them.

Having spent decades as a professional communicator--in journalism, education, public relations and marketing--I know communication isn't free. It has its intended expenses and unexpected costs.

But one thing I've been learning and relearning in the past decade or so is that we can complicate communication so much that the people we're trying to reach don't get it. They don't understand our messages and thus don't respond as we hoped they would. Or our messages are so unclear that they get lost in the always-present interference between us and our audience.

In writing, for one thing, I've been trying to practice and promote the principles and methods of plain language. It's an international effort to write and design documents so clearly, so concisely, that readers will understand them the first time they read (or view) them. They're documents that meet the needs of readers while meeting the needs of the writers.

And that brings me to this article by Joshua Becker. Becker's article is a useful annotated list of links to other thoughtful articles about giving (and communicating) simply during the Christmas season.

He writes:
I am not the first to write about enjoying a simpler Christmas. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, there are countless posts/articles/guides on experiencing a simple, stress-free Christmas. And in an effort to create a valuable resource for myself and others, here is a comprehensive list of the best links in one handy, thorough, shareable guide.
The links are listed under several headings (followed by some sample headlines):
Rethinking Christmas."35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget"
Gift-Giving Guides."The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide"
Simple, Practical Guides."Three Steps to a Simplified Holiday"
Holiday Printable Guides."Christmas Budget Worksheet"
Emotional Needs."This Christmas, Give Peace"
For more information on communicating simply, visit the Plain Language tab above and Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It covers these seven steps:
  • 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.
Becker's article is featured today, Nov. 24, in my online daily paper, Garbl's Simple Dreams--available at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What are we grateful for? Commas. | Grammarly Blog

My response to the poll described in this article was the period. But Grammarly fans had other ideas:
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Grammarly team polled more than 1,700 Facebook fans on what piece of punctuation they are most “thankful” for in their writing.

The semi-colon, em-dash, and period, were top contenders; yet, overwhelmingly we learned that English writers are most thankful for the comma.
The period (aka full stop) came in fourth. I like the period because if we use enough of them, reasonably, our sentences will be shorter and easier to read. Too many commas in one sentence can make it harder to comprehend.

But in the spirit of giving, here's advice from Garbl's Editorial Style Manual on use of the comma--to prevent errors in using them:
comma (,) The following guidelines treat frequent questions about eight essential uses of the comma.
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. 
Second, use a comma to join two independent clauses with a conjunction. An independent clause is a group of words that could stand on its own as a complete sentence; it begins with its own subject. The most common conjunctions are but, and, for, nor, or, so and yetThe council's Water Resources Committee will go over the resolution Jan. 12, and the full council is scheduled to act Feb. 11. 
Don't create run-on sentences by combining two or more independent clauses with only commas. Either insert conjunctions after the commas or break the clauses into separate sentences. 
Third, use a comma to separate an introductory phrase or clause from the rest of the sentence: After graduating from college, he joined AmeriCorps. It may be omitted after short introductory phrases (less than three words) if no ambiguity would result: On Thursday the Kennewick City Council will decide the issue. When in doubt, use the comma, especially when it separates two capitalized words.
Fourth, enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. Parenthetic expressions are word groups that are not essential to the meaning of a sentence. If a parenthetic expression is removed, the sentence would still make sense: The social services manager, who toured the Snoqualmie Valley last week, will make her recommendations today. They took one of their sons, Leif, to the concert. His wife, Donna, is a middle school teacher. 
As shown in the examples, commas always go both before and after a parenthetic expression within a sentence. If you'd prefer to stress a parenthetic phrase, put it between dashes; you can play down such a phrase by placing it between parentheses. 
Also use commas to set off a person's hometown when it follows the name: Rachel Solomon, Danbury, opened a new restaurant. If using a person's age, set it off by commas: Tom O'Rourke, 69, opened a new restaurant.
Do not use commas to set off an essential word or phrase from the rest of a sentence. Essential words and phrases are important to the meaning of a sentence: They took their daughter Jennifer to school. Their son Nils works at Ticketmaster. (They have more than one daughter and more than one son.)
Fifth, use commas to set off words and phrases such as however, meanwhile, in fact, in addition, moreover, nevertheless, as a result, thus, therefore, for example, finally and in other words. Usually, place a comma after such expressions when they begin a sentence, and place commas before and after the expressions when they are within a sentence. 
Sixth, use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank. If the adjectives could be rearranged without changing the meaning of a sentence or if the word and could replace the commas without changing the sense, the adjectives are equal: A sleek, new car. A thick, black cloud. 
Use no comma when the last adjective before a noun outranks its predecessors because it is an integral element of a noun phrase: a silver articulated bus.
Seventh, use a comma to set off a direct one-sentence quotation within a paragraph: Theodore Roosevelt said, "It's not the critic who counts." Use a comma before the second quotation mark in a quotation followed by attribution: "No comment," said Jerry Carson. 
And eighth, use a comma to separate the parts of numbers, dates and addresses. Use a comma for figures higher than 999: More than 5,000 people attended the event.
Use commas to set off the year in complete dates: The department released its report Nov. 16, 2002, for public review. But don't separate the month from the year when not using a date. They held their first retreat in January 1994.
Use commas to set off cities from names of states or nations: She went to Vancouver, Wash., to tour the bridge retrofit program. He traveled to Paris, France, on vacation. 
The Grammarly article is featured today, Nov. 22, in my online daily paper, Garbl's  Style: Write Choices--available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

8 Counter-Intuitive Ways to Improve Your Well-Being & Creativity :: Tips :: 99U

I'm thankful today, Thanksgiving 2012, for the possibilities, realities and consequences of creativity, of striving to be creative, of being creative.

Here's an article I read this morning on achieving creativity. Its purpose:
To help you break the busy-ness cycle and work happier, we've rounded up a handful of counter-intuitive ways to tweak your habits and your mindset. They range from obvious-but-oft-ignored tips to the slightly more eccentric.
Here are the headings for the eight tips:
  1. Eat breakfast. 
  2. Sit less. 
  3. Exercise in the middle of the day. 
  4. Get an office pet. 
  5. Shorten your commute. 
  6. Use ALL of those vacation days.
  7. Distance yourself from the problem. 
  8. Explore your dark side. 
This article is featured today, Nov. 22, in my online daily newspaper, Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Need a list? Here are some to-dos (and some to-don'ts) for putting them in your documents

It's that time of year for creating shopping lists. But if you're also thinking of putting a wish list--or other type of list--in a document you're writing, this blog post provides some suggestions. They're from the entry in  Garbl's Editorial Style Manual on formatting lists of items within paragraphs and when aligned vertically with bullets or numbers.

In developing these guidelines, I've considered and consolidated the sometimes conflicting advice of various style manuals. I'm curious if these guidelines are clear to you and cover most of your needs. 

lists Lists are useful in texts to save space and improve readability. To use this technique most effectively, follow these guidelines:
  • Put words and ideas common to all items in the lead-in, introductory sentence.
  • List only comparable items; choose list items that form a logical group.
  • Present only one idea in each item.
  • Keep the list items grammatically parallel.
  • Use only words, phrases or short sentences.
  • Provide adequate transitions before and after lists.
  • Do not overuse lists or make them too long.
  • Use consistent punctuation and capitalization in list items.
When listing information in paragraph form, use commas to separate items in the list if the items are brief and have little or no internal punctuation. If the items are complex, separate them with semicolons. To stress sequence, order or chronology of list items, begin each list item with a number or letter enclosed in parentheses or followed by a period.

Use a colon to introduce a list only if a full sentence or clause comes before it. That introductory statement should end with the following: or as follows: or like this: or other similar phrases. The first paragraph of this lists item is also an example of when a colon should be used. Or simply use an introductory sentence like this one (followed by a colon): Here are some examples. 

Do not use a colon after phrases like The problems include ... or Members of the task force are .... The previous sentence also shows when a colon is not needed.

Here are two examples:
  • We think he should (1) increase his administrative skills, (2) get more education and (3) increase his production.
  • You should expect your vendor to do the following: train you in the care of your system; offer regular maintenance, with parts replacement when necessary; and respond quickly to service requests.
When listing information in a column (a vertical list), follow these guidelines:
  • End the introduction to the list with a colon if it is a complete sentence, as described and shown above for a list within a paragraph.
  • Capitalize the first word in each item if one or more of the items are complete sentences. Preferably, all or none of the items should be complete sentences.
  • Don't end list items with a semicolon. And don't use periods or other ending punctuation on items in the list unless one or more of the items are complete sentences.
  • Put a period after the final item in all lists.
Avoid ending the introductory phrase with a verb. If you can't avoid that, you should:
  • end the introductory phrase with a colon (as shown above).
  • treat each item in the list as the end of sentence.
  • begin each item with a lowercase letter.
  • end each item with a period.
In that list format, don't put a conjunction like and or or after the second-to-last item.

Here are some guidelines for using bullets, numbers or other punctuation marks in a vertical list:
  • Use bullets before each item in the list when rank or sequence is not important.
  • Avoid using an asterisk (*) or dash (--) to stand for bullets; most word processing and graphic design programs create bullets easily.
  • If using numbers to introduce items in a vertical list, don't enclose the numbers in parentheses but follow each with a period and a space.
Here are some guidelines for indenting a list:
  • Indent each item in the list if one or more of them develop a complete thought or contain more than one sentence.
  • If an item extends beyond one line, align the beginning of each line with the first word of the item after the number or bullet.
Here are some more examples:

The team is studying three alternatives:
  • expanding the existing plant
  • building a new facility
  • improving all facilities.
Here's the procedure for typing a three-column table:
  1. Clear tab stops.
  2. Remove margin stops.
  3. Find the precise center of the page.
    Set a tab stop at center.
The vendor for your system should:
  • train you in the care of your system.
  • offer regular maintenance, with parts replacement when necessary.
  • respond quickly to service requests.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What do you think?

I launched this blog in early 2012, but I didn't give it a focus and start blogging regularly until April.

Since then, I've been testing topics and my interest in blogging about them.  I've been testing methods to provide information, advice and ideas. And I've been testing my interest in continuing to maintain this blog.

In response to that last test (about my interest), I still have the energy that I had when I began. I've gotten into a routine for producing it, though I hope its content hasn't gotten routine as a result.

But I continue to wonder what regular, occasional and new visitors to my blog think about it. Only a few of my blog posts have gotten any comments. The site statistics vary, though when I link my posts to the StumbleUpon website, the number of visits rises.

So here are some sample questions I'd like to get some answers for in emails sent to post a comment below:

I've covered these topics, some much more than others. Which ones interest you the most?
  • plain language/plain English (aka clear, concise writing)
  • editorial style/writing tips
  • creativity
  • simplicity
  • nonprofit communications
  • progressive politics/citizen action
  • peace activism.
Other topics: philanthropy/altruism, serendipity, travel photography, music, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, writing process, grammar, word usage, writer's block, writing for the Web.

How often do you visit my blog? 

What day(s) and time(s) of day to you usually visit?

Are you a writer, editor or communications specialist?

Do you work for a nonprofit organization, a private company or a government agency?

Do you check any of my daily online papers--in the tabs at the top of this page? Which one(s)? How often do you check them?

Do you visit my other websites? Which one(s)? They include:
  • Garbl's Writing Center (You can reach all the sites below and others from this portal page.)
  • Garbl's Pencil
  • Garbl's Plain English Writing  Guide
  • Garbl's Concise Writing Guide
  • Garbl's Writing Resources Online
  • Garbl's Editorial Style Manual
  • Garbl's Writing Bookshelf.
Anything else you'd like to tell me?

Thank you for your interest and support!

Monday, November 19, 2012

7 Ways to Outsmart Your Brain And Be More Innovative | Stephen Shapiro, Innovation Excellence

"Innovation is about change," Shapiro writes in this blog:
It is about doing something different than you did previously. It is about trying something that you have not done before, and therefore may feel is a danger to your survival.
He continues by describing seven ways the brain's survival instinct prevents innovation. He then provides seven solutions to counteract those challenges.

Here's a summary of his solutions:
  1. Innovation is not just about creating something new and different. It should solve a problem that people have. ...
  2. [D]on’t stop with the obvious answers. Keep pushing until you are out of ideas and then still push forward. ...
  3. Ask better questions. Einstein reputedly said, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” ...
  4. Work with people who are not like you. Find people with different backgrounds, personality styles, and interests. Appreciate their contribution to you and your professional efforts. ...
  5. [G]et someone to poke holes in your logic. Don’t go to the same people for input. Seek out people who you suspect would reject the idea. ...
  6. Sometimes you need to purposefully retrain the brain. Attend conferences unrelated to your work. Read magazines from different industries. ...
  7. Quiet that [judgmental] part of the brain through meditation, yoga, showering or any other relaxing activity. This allows you to gain access to the creative parts of your brain. ...
Shapiro's article is featured today, Nov. 19, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

My Pet Peeves: From the T Entry in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 17th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the T 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 and L peeves | M peeves | N peeves | O peeves | P peeves | Q and R peeves | S peeves

take action Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with act or another action verb.

take exception to, take issue (with) Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with challenge, disagree (with), dispute, object (to), oppose, protest, question or resent.

talk to, talk with The first term suggests that one person is doing the talking, such as a supervisor to a worker. The second term suggests that it's a mutual discussion between or among the participants.

tall in height Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in height.

target Before using this word, visualize aiming an arrow at it. If you can't hit the target or miss it, avoid mixing metaphors and choose another word. Besides using hit and miss when mentioning atarget, consider using verbs like concentrate on, focus on, single out or aim at. If you prefer verbs such as achieve, attain or pursue, substitute nouns such as objective, goal or result for target.

tee ball Not T-ball. This version of baseball for young children got its name because the ball is placed on a tee, which looks nothing like the letter T.

telephone numbers Recommended forms for the United States: 206-937-XXXX, 800-XXX-XXXX, 937-XXXX, NU2-XXXX, FOR-FREE (367-3733). Using periods (or dots) instead of hyphens is trendy and potentially confusing.

For metropolitan areas with multiple area codes, put the suitable area code before all telephone, cellular phone, pager and fax numbers.

Refer to toll-free number instead of 800 number800-XXX-XXXX (toll free). Including the number for long-distance and toll-free numbers is unnecessary.

terminate Overstated and formal. Simplify. Try end, stop, finish, wind up, limit or fire

than I, than me Because of words understood or not stated, these phrases have different, potentially confusing meanings. "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than I" means "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than I like peanut better." "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than me" means "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than she likes me." To prevent unfortunate misunderstandings, use the correct pronoun and consider using all the words necessary. 

than, then Often confused or misspelled. Use than when you're comparing things: No one is more aware of local driving behaviors than bus drivers. Use the adverb then when you're writing about time -- if one thing follows or results from another, suggesting a logical conclusion, or meaning "soon afterward": If this, then that. First they toured the vehicle maintenance shop; then they visited the sign shop.

that, this, these, those, it These pronouns must always refer clearly to a specific noun or other pronoun--or to a complete idea. Avoid using them alone to refer to the complete sense of an earlier statement. The result may be unclear and imprecise. 

Instead, first ask yourself, "This what?" (or "That what?" or "These what?"). Then repeat a key word from the earlier sentence or clause, or include a word that refers to the earlier sentence or clause. Change: This helps prevent reader confusion. To: This rule helps prevent reader confusion. Change: If the dog leaves any food in the bowl, throw it out. To: Throw out any food the dog leaves in the bowl. Or: If the dog leaves any food in the bowl, throw out the leftovers. See these kind of, those kind of ... below.

Use this when writing about something near, such as this pencil I'm using or this feeling I'm experiencing. Use that to mention something farther away or more remote in distance, time or thought: that pencil in the desk or that feeling I had this morning. Apply the same distinctions to these as the plural of this and those as the plural of that.

that, which, who, whom That is the defining, or restrictive, pronoun for essential clauses: The camera that is broken is in the shop (tells which one). Which is the nondefining, or nonrestrictive, pronoun for nonessential clauses: The camera, which is broken, is in the shop (adds a fact about the only camera in question).

In the examples above, note the correct use of commas: Which clauses are always set off with commas (or sometimes dashes or parentheses), and that clauses aren't. Essential that clauses cannot be cut without changing the meaning of a sentence. Don't set off an essential clause from the rest of a sentence with commas. Nonessential which clauses can be dropped without altering the meaning. Set off a nonessential clause with commas.

In addition, that is the preferred pronoun to introduce clauses that refer to an inanimate object: Greg remodeled the house that burned down Friday. Which is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a nonessential clause that refers to an inanimate object: The house, which Greg remodeled, burned down Friday.

When an essential or nonessential clause refers to a human being or something with human qualities (such as a family), introduce it with who or whomThat -- but not which -- also may be used to refer to human beings, as well as inanimate objects. Don't use commas if the clause is essential to the meaning. Use them if it is not. 

their, them, they The day may come--and should--when these plural pronouns are accepted as singular pronouns that don't note a person's sex. Some respected writing authorities now suggest this change in language as we eliminate the outdated use of he, him and his as references to both men and women. This updated usage would be similar to use of the pronouns you and your for both one person and more than person, taking a plural verb even when mentioning one person.

Still, for now, consider the potential reaction of your audience--and the reaction you would prefer as the writer or editor--before applying this use. Meanwhile, try other acceptable uses, especially using the plural pronouns to refer to plural nouns. 

their, there, they're Commonly confused, misspelled or mistyped. And computer spellcheckers won't catch the mistaken substitution of one of these homonyms for the other--nor for there's and the plural possessive theirsTheir is the possessive form of the pronoun they, meaning "belonging to them." Don't misspell it as thierThey're is a contraction of they are. (And there's is a contraction of there is.) There (like here) refers to place. But see below for more on there.

there is, there are, there's, there was, there were Avoid beginning sentences with these often unnecessary, wordy phrases. Try rewriting the sentence. Change: There were two native rhododendrons at the nursery. To: Two native rhododendrons were at the nursery. Also, there's is a contraction for there is; it refers to a single noun: There's one signal at the intersection. Do not use it with plural nouns. Incorrect: There's better ways to write this sentence. There sure are!

therefor, therefore Unless you're an attorney who loves legal jargon, you'll never use therefor, which means "for that, for it" Use therefore, or better yet, simplify and use so, then or thus instead.

these kind of, those kind of; these sort of, those sort of; these type of, those type of In this use, these and those are plural adjectives that must modify plural nouns: kinds, sorts and types. Or use singular adjectives this and that instead with singular nouns kind, sort and type. See that, this, these, those, it entry above.

thus A simple, useful substitute for as a result, consequently and therefore. Or use even simpler so. For emphasis, a comma may follow thus (and so) at the beginning of sentences and other clauses. Also, adding ly to thus is a waste of time, space, finger energy and eye movement. Simplify. 

till, 'til, until Till and until are interchangeable. Some consider until as more formal. Don't use 'til or'till

time Avoid redundancies such as 12 noon or 12 midnight and 8:30 a.m. this morning or 8:30 p.m. Monday night. Instead, use noon, midnight, 8 a.m. today, 8:30 p.m. Monday. The construction 2 o'clock in the afternoon is acceptable but wordy.

time frame, time period Two words. Jargon. Consider replacing with simpler period, time, age, era or interval

to a certain degree Wordy. Consider using a simpler phrase, such as in part, less often, less so, partially or some

to all intents and purposes, to all practical purposes Wordy. Simplify. Delete or consider replacing with effectively, essentially, in effect or in essence.

together Usually redundant when used with words like blend, combine, connect, consolidate, couple, group, join, link and mergeAfter the reorganization, all engineers were consolidated together on the fifth floor. Drop together.

tonight Avoid the redundant 6:30 p.m. tonight. Instead, use 6:30 tonight or 6:30 p.m. today

too When using too to mean "also," no comma is necessary before too at the end of a clause or sentence: She finished her first task and her second task too. But set off too with commas elsewhere in a sentence: He, too, finished both tasks.

to take this opportunity Wordy. Simplify. Delete from sentences like this: I would like to take this opportunity to delete that unnecessary phrase.

total number Redundant. Drop total.

total, totaled, totaling The phrase a total of often is redundant. It may be used, however, to avoid a figure at the beginning of a sentence. A total of 322 people applied for the three jobs. Also, a total of takes a plural verb, and the total of takes a singular verb: A total of 22 days were spent on the trip. The total of 22 days was spent on the trip.

to the point of (that, when, where) Wordy. Simplify. Delete or consider replacing with so (that), so far (that), so much (that), to, to when or to where.

to, too, two Computer spellcheckers won't note the mistaken substitution of one of these homonyms for the other.

toward Don't use towards.

trademark Unless the trademark owner is paying you to follow a different style, capitalizing the first letter is your only obligation in using a trademark; do not capitalize every letter unless the word is an acronym or abbreviation: Subway, not SUBWAY. You do not have to use the trademark and registration symbols--TM and ® -- unless, perhaps, commercial products of another company are named in advertising.

transfer, transferable, transferred, transferring Commonly misspelled. Also, consider using forms of simpler move, change or give

transmit Overstated jargon, unless you're writing about sending out radio or television signals. Simplify. Use send when writing about passing something from one place or person to another. Other simpler choices, depending on what you're writing: broadcast, relay, transfer, pass on, bear, carry.

transpire Formal and pompous when misused to mean simpler happen or occur. Correctly used to mean "to become known or leak out": Reports on the conference never transpired

travel, traveled, traveler, traveling No doubled l's.

tribe Capitalize when used with a proper name: Cherokee Indian TribeHopi TribeSnoqualmie Tribe of Indians. Lowercase when used alone and in plural form: the tribe, the Cherokee and Hopi tribes, Indian tribes, the tribes. Lowercase the adjective tribal unless its part of a proper name: tribal art, Hopi tribal leaders, Muckleshoot Tribal Council. Add an s when making a tribal name plural: CherokeesSnoqualmies.

true fact Redundant and wordy. By definition, a fact is true. If a fact is not true, it's not a fact. It could even be a lie. Drop true. Confirm accuracy of facts and correct them if necessary. 

try and Try and is colloquial. Write: Try to attend the meeting, not try and attend the meeting.

T-shirt Not tee shirt. So named because it resembles the letter T when spread out. Also, if a shirt or undershirt is sleeveless, don't call it a T-shirt.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Op-ed: We should stop 'waging a war' on cars | Seattle Times

I don't agree with the short-sighted opinions expressed in this column, but I'm not linking to it to comment on those opinions. Instead, I was disturbed by the language of the column, in particular, its references to the so-called "war on cars."

Granted, car accidents kill and injure too many people; car accidents damage and even destroy buildings; and cars (and other vehicles) cause air and water pollution.

But last time I checked:
  • Gushers of blood don't pollute a field of grain or a barren desert after enemy cars confront one another with hate (and fear) in their eyes.
  • Dropping cars on cities doesn't kill thousands of people, many of them innocent victims.
  • Shrapnel from exploding cars doesn't rip apart the intestines, kidneys, livers and other internal organs of hundreds of people shopping in crowded public markets.  
  • Recruiting and enlisting cars doesn't send mothers and fathers away from their children for months on end--and too often returning home with a missing leg, a missing eye, or missing brain cells. 
Yes, let's stop "waging a war on cars." Let's not dilute the real-life consequences of war on human life by using that word in a "war on cars" or in terms like "war on religion" and even "war on drugs" and "war on women." Undoubtedly, there are reasonable, accurate and even provocative terms to describe those issues in speeches, headlines, editorials and news articles. 

Instead, if there are no peaceful alternatives, let's "wage war" on only countries, terrorist organizations, and tyrants that have invaded the borders of our country and attacked our people, our institutions, and our freedoms. And let's consider, if necessary, waging war on invaders or tyrants who are massacring people in other countries.
If you are interested in the main topic of the Seattle Times column, here are two alternative opinions presented alongside the column in today's newspaper, under the headline, "What's one big fix for frightful traffic?":

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