Where do You Stand?

Where do You Stand?
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The nation is nearly evenly divided.  The battle lines have been drawn.  It is time to take a stand.  Grammar has consequences.  What am I talking about?  The Oxford comma (a.k.a. the serial comma), of course.  It is no small matter.  Livelihoods are at stake, as I shall present below.

 

What is an Oxford comma?  By way of example, one might say, "The American flag is red, white and blue."  Or, one might say, "The American flag is red, white, and blue."  Notice the comma between "white" and "and blue."

 

In a recent class action suit against Oakhurst Dairy by truck drivers who distribute the milk, the court ruled in favor of the truck drivers over a missing comma.  The court ruled that truck drivers were not exempted from overtime pay by the Maine legislature.  There is a larger issue here that I will overlook.  Obviously, there is monied interest in the Maine legislation to avoid paying overtime to some of the lowest paid employees to increase profits of the owners.  That is wrong and worthy of an article in itself.

 

At issue is the Maine law which exempts certain employees from overtime pay as described in the ruling:

 

Specifically, Exemption F states that the protection of the overtime law does not apply to:
 
The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of:
 
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
 
Clearly, the Maine legislature meant to exclude drivers in the "distribution of" the named products.  If an Oxford comma had been used, the law would have been clear, but the style manual for the Maine legislature discourages the use of Oxford commas and commas in general, except where necessary. 
 
The exemption should have read:
 
The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment, or distribution of:
 
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
 
 
Notice the commas after "shipment."
 
The truck drivers argued that the law reads:
 
The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment, or packing for distribution of:
 
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
 
 
With that reading, the truck drivers are clearly not excluded from overtime pay.  It was not what was intended.
 
The court agreed that there was enough ambiguity to rule in favor of the truck drivers.  The missing commas will cost the dairy company on the order of ten million dollars.  Truck drivers will receive some well-deserved compensation.

 

Although I agree with Oakhurst on the interpretation of the law, I thought they made a weak argument.  The appealed to the sense of asyndeton, for example.  It's a term I had to look up.  Merriam-Webster defines it as the "omission of the conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words or clauses (as in "I came, I saw, I conquered")."  I simply put it all down to the style of the Maine legislator.

 

I was taught not to use the Oxford comma.  Nevertheless, you will find that I use it.  It adds clarity.  Some may say that I overuse commas, but, again, I believe it adds clarity.  I find myself reading some sentences by others over and over to determine what the author intended, where a comma would have made it clear.

 

I'm no grammar queen.  In fact, I routinely admonish the grammar queens on WB.  I routinely butcher the English language and offer no apologies. There are some authors I choose not to read because of their grammar and spelling issues.  It makes my head hurt trying to figure out what they are trying to say.  There are many who have a high opinion of their writing ability who shouldn't.  Then, there are those who write so beautifully, simply, and eloquently that it is candy for the eye.  I read their articles whether or not I am interested in the subject or not.  I don't care so much if the grammar or spelling is correct.  I want to understand the message.

 

Where do you stand on the Oxford comma?

Comments

Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:29am
I was taught in one grade, in one school to use it.  Then in another grade at another school, to not use it.  Later I had teachers who just came out and said, it's not clear which way to go anymore, so it's up to the writer.  I hung onto the grammatical rule of when there's an "and" included.  I usually only include the Oxford comma when it's not followed by an "and".
 
With a keenness for the written word from about the 5th grade, I paid close attention to writing instruction, technique, style, and structure.  There was so much contradiction between teachers and methodologies that I decided to take what I learned and make my own sense of how to communicate, and how to write a fervent passage.
 
Ultimately it takes practice, practice, practice.  The writer's own personal approach and style means everything.  That's my view.
 
Now, how does Leroy rate Tom's writing?  Do I make your head hurt or is it candy?
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:41am
One more proof of a nation mired in the details of form while blissfully ignorant of content. 
 
I'm horrible on form and I know it. Make no apologies.
 
A young writer went away for a while to work undisturbed. His mate was pleased to see him on his return, greeting him with a clearly amorous intent. Having missed the intimacy he swept her away to the bedroom. Sparing you the further sordid details it will have to suffice that at the critical moment the writer had misaligned his pen and was poised for a "back door entry".
 
His mate responded " What are you doing?"
 
The young writer replied " I'm gonna make another little writer!"
 
The mate replies " Dumbass! You've got it in the wrong hole!"
 
The young writer: " That's okay. We need editors too."
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:42am
So, that's where I stand :)
Pardero Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:55am
Leroy,
I agree with you. Longer sentences lack clarity. I  add commas for clarity, and even read aloud, to look for a missing comma. Did I use way too many?
 
It has been a long time. If you have any spare time, tell me why no commas in the following: ( I won't ding you on the homonym). What kind of clause?
 "There are many who have a high opinion of there writing ability who shouldn't"
 
I better hit The Elements of Style before I write another word.
Pardero Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:03pm
Leroy,
"There are many who have a high opinion of there writing ability who shouldn't"
 Why not: Many have a high...
Strunk and White's book got me through high school. I will be reading it. I will edit my bad writing.
Glad you brought this up, Leroy,
although I may be short of new material, anyway.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:20pm
"Now, how does Leroy rate Tom's writing?  Do I make your head hurt or is it candy?"
 
Tom, to have the effrontery to ask that question implies that you already know the answer, and, indeed, you would be correct.  I only wish that I could write so clearly.
Pardero Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:22pm
Restrictive clause gets no comma. Oops.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:23pm
TBH, you are being disingenuous now. You are a master of the English language.
 
Great anecdote, BTW.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:29pm
Pardero, what can I say?  Hmmm...you have a very easy style that communicates what you want to say with warmth and purpose.  You are among the best on WB and one I always read.  It's about communicating and on that point, I have a lot to learn from you.
Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:34pm
That's the first time I've been accused of effrontery.  I knew you often  disliked the content in my work but it's nice to hear that I'm a clear read.  Clear, fluid writing can only come from clear, fluid thoughts.
 
Your response though, is received as rather Lebowski-esque when he tells Sobcheck, "you're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole." Is that how it was intended, only reversed..."you're not an asshole, Tom, you're just wrong"?  :)
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:44pm
Don't read too much into my choice of words, Tom.  I gave some thought to choosing the word "effrontery," but I erred on the side of going overboard.  I was hoping you knew me well enough.  Perhaps I miscalculated.  It's true that I tire of hearing about NAZIs but I otherwise enjoy reading your articles.  I've even been called a NAZI for supporting you.  I don't support assholes.  You are up there with the best of them.
Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:48pm
Well thanks.  The WB McCarthyists will paint you with swastikas just for the last comment.  I appreciate the honesty.  You're as straight a shooter as there is on WB, in my experience.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:53pm
Holy shit Leroy! That happen to you too? I thought it was just me :)
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 12:54pm
thanks for the compliment, BTW, but I am far from a master. Churchill was a master of the language. I'm just a rodeo clown :)
Ian Thorpe Added Mar 26, 2018 - 1:37pm
I'm generally as much in favour of the Oxford comma as I am of the Oxford collar. But like most of us who contribute here I have no love for the grammar police.
 
The example above is an excellent illustration of why the Oxford comma should be used, it most cases it does not matter but occasionally the meaning of a phrase or sentence can be changed by its absence.

Not long ago someone using the tag "Christian Republic" decided to ridicule my grammar, in particular the placement of a comma, having previously completely failed to ridicule my lack of religious faith.
 
This person wrote:
"Ian: (I'm a writer,) 
  Now that's funny right there! I love writer humor! Just kidding... I was poling fun at your misplaced comma, not the declaration of your vocation."

I'm not quite sure what the point was, years ago when I was learning English grammar in one of our elite schools, the rule I was taught on punctuating text in parentheses is that the punctuation always goes with the text it refers to, and as "I'm a writer," was an aside the comma goes inside the parenthesis.
But it wasn't that which made me turn the sarcasm generator up to eleven, it was the triviality of the complaint.
I'm always easy going about lax grammar and spelling in web pages, after all it's not as if we're being asked to pay for what we read online.
 
FOOTNOTE: Chistian Republic's enthusiasm for WB waned rather quickly, perhaps because of the lack of enthusiasm shown by the community for pedantic religiosity. 
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 1:44pm
Bloody heathen, you are! 
 
Remember Chris Crawford? Erazamaputz.....there was a real gem. And with Doug Cotton's great pieces on climate change it's only a matter of time before the Dr. Wendell will emerge from his lair!
 
You had that thing about the shite shovelers, right? How 'bout this: the arbiting arses? Huh? Right? It works :)
opher goodwin Added Mar 26, 2018 - 1:49pm
All grammar and spelling is only the majority verdict. It is intended to make meaning clear. For that reason it needs to be precise. 
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 1:51pm
As I said, I don't get hung up on grammar or spelling.  We all make mistakes.  What grates on me is when someone always confuses "then" for "than," for example.
 
Grammar queens tend to piss me off.  Sometimes you need a grammar queen.  Most times you don't.  Many years ago before spell checking was common for emails, I wrote a lengthy email to my best friend.  Whether it was too many beers, a brain fart, or just ignorance, misspelled "bum" twice, writing it as "bumb."  I knew it didn't look right, but I was too lazy to look it up.  It was an informal email.
 
Rather than addressing the content of the email, my friend wrote one paragraph berating me for my mistakes.   To imagine my friend, think about the character Winchester from MASH.  He has a similar look and personality.  He opened his paragraph by announcing that he viewed himself as the defender of the English language and just couldn't let it pass.  I used some news event to pass off my errors with a little wit, which he didn't appreciate.  Then,  I cut and pasted his response into Word, I believe it was.  Without much effort, I identified thirteen grammatical or spelling errors, which I called to his attention.  He informed me that he did not make any mistakes.  His errors were all typo's.  It pissed him off so bad that we didn't communicate for a couple of years.  Isn't there some saying about grammar queens casting the first stone?
 
While a freshman, my roommate asked me to proof his ten-page paper.   He used the phrase "some what" about ten times.  I told him his English professor would burn him for that.  He was insulted.  He was only looking for technical errors, not for comments on style.  I asked him how he did on his paper a couple of weeks later.  He had to reluctantly admit that he received a C for overusing the phrase "some what."  Be careful what you ask for.   My roommate is one who over-estimated his intelligence.  He wanted to be a marine biologist like many of the day, inspired by Jacques Cousteau.  If you remember Cousteau, then you are too old.  He only managed to do as well as he did because he studied so hard.  He eventually gave up and went into Parks and Recreation Administration, the degree of choice by athletes who otherwise would never graduate.
Jeffrey Kelly Added Mar 26, 2018 - 2:16pm
I don’t use the comma before “and,” I was taught that the conjunction takes the place of the comma.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 2:17pm
"All grammar and spelling is only the majority verdict. It is intended to make meaning clear. For that reason it needs to be precise."
 
Unfortunately, you are correct, Opher.  For that reason, words that are used incorrectly so often come to be accepted usage.  The words "ensure" and "insure" come to mind. 
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 2:25pm
"Remember Chris Crawford?"
 
He was a piece of work.  I remember him praising the use of obscure words.  What's the point, other than the attempt to make yourself look superior to others?  From what I saw, he had nothing to be superior about.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 26, 2018 - 2:52pm
Wow. Englis relly is a dificult lagnuage. No wonder I am ofen misunderstod LOL
Stone-Eater Added Mar 26, 2018 - 2:55pm
BTW: Try German. Lots of commas, and - If I dare to say - not all of us master it, because now we have the Neue Deutsche Rechtschreibung. Means all of a sudden the government decided to change grammar...
 
Note that I didn't use commas but - -'s ;-)
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:02pm
In another thread I recommended Steppenwolf. Even the best translations can not remove the German use of multiple clauses within one sentence. This is one point where many native English speakers/readers have difficulty with Hesse and German Lit in general. Even when reading a translation it is helpful to be able to "think" in German. Punctuation is vital in German! When you read Hesse you'll see so many colons and semi-colons you may think the text was interspersed with keyboard emojis
Stone-Eater Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:08pm
LOL
 
Ich möchte anmerken, dass dies nicht in allen Fällen der Fall ist, umsomehr Hesse sich oft in Zweideutigkeiten ausdrückte, die vom Leser eine gewisse Vorbildung bedingten, welche - zugegebenermassen - zu dieser Zeit nicht für alle Mitglieder der Gesellschaft verfügbar war, da der Bildungsstand der meisten Mitbürger - elitäre Klassen ausgenommen - relativ niedrig war.
 
Erm....ok.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:15pm
Naturlich :) Das stimmt! I am able to think it through once I've read all, but if one tries to ubersetzen mid stream? Mensch! Unglaubliche Katastrofen!
Stone-Eater Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:17pm
PS - BTW:
 
I think English is one of the easiest languages to learn - at least the basics. But what people underestimate IMHO is the fact that English has one of the biggest vocabularies and - just an example: How many meanings has the verb "to get" LOL
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:18pm
And we allow these people to build cars! Its a damned scary world we live in!
Dave Volek Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:24pm
In Canada, we have confusion about this Oxford comma. I don't recall anyone using this term; rather is referred to as American English or British English.
 
BE: "Ted ate his potatoes, carrots and meat."
AE: "Ted ate his potatoes, carrots, and meat."
 
Central and Eastern Canada tend to prefer the British style. Western Canada prefers the American style. And we have Canadian style guide writers who take one side or the other.There's no consensuse here.
 
It's fun to watch grammarians battle with each other. 
 
As for the dairy companies in Maine, I would say that they were splitting hairs with the language to their advantage. It's hard to understand why these truck drivers should be exempt from overtime and other truck drivers get the pay. The companies should have sought clarification before letting this bill get too large. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:31pm
If I may offer my rough but on the fly rendering in something resembling English. In German this thought is very fluid, and is naturally expressed as a single statement (in terms of sentence structure). In English, however, we have not yet mastered walking and chewing gum to same level as our Teutonic cousins, thus we break this up into multiple sentences:
 
Stone would like to observe that although not always the case,Hesse is often misunderstood or misinterpreted in different times than those in which he wrote. Readers have formed certain preconceptions - in a herd like manner- understanding of it not relevant to all or as many as in the times it was written. 
 
Something to this effect....I'm missing out something at the end, sorry. 
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:33pm
If I wanted more precise I'd go to a translator :) Thats best I can do off of memory. I'm a little ungeubt!
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:38pm
I can tell you that Stone is every bit as sarcastic in German as he is in English :)
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:41pm
The thing I like about German: language is a tool. German provides an extraordinary tool for the formation of complex ideas. This probably accounts for the preponderance of German philosophers.
 
Ok Doug Plumb, there's your cue :)
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 26, 2018 - 3:47pm
Hidage: Do you want to say that Germans like myself tend to write way too long sentences with the proclivity of putting together far too many words, phrases and subclauses within any one sentence, only interrupted with an occasional comma, Oxford or not, because we wouldn't know how to express ourself in a clear and easy to understand fashion? That's racist!
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:09pm
Sie besitzen es, freund :)
 
Guilty as charged
Doug Plumb Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:37pm
 
re"The canning, processing, preserving,

freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment, or distribution of:"
 
That code was badly written. No ambiguity for legislation. Send its writer back to the whore house from which he or she came.
 
re "There are many who have a high opinion of there writing ability who shouldn't. "
 
You spelt there wrong. I hate that.
 
I like grammar, I like the proper expression of math as well, which a lot of people don't do well - but they always get the equal sign in the right place and think its ok. English is the finest language ever developed by man, it was the latest language and could take into consideration faults of others. Its had lots of foreign use.
I know I am probably not one of the clearest writers on here. I agonize to express my ideas, I find a way and it just pours out. I don't mind being corrected or a sentence highlighted, WTF ?
I was looking for some youtube instruction on grammar, maybe take an advanced course for linguists or something. I couldn't find anything.
I think its important, for the cause of freedom itself. All free people should wish to preserve their language because the pen really is mightier than the sword. The law is very much about language and we have lost many of our rights by not understanding the language, do you understand?
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:42pm
Entirely Doug. For once :)
 
Doug Plumb Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:42pm
If I knew more about grammar, I'd have an opinion.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:43pm
Bullets, though one ought not discount their worth, are used but once. But a hail of words?
Doug Plumb Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:47pm
BTW I read Damien in one sitting, I thought that it was very well written. I didn't like his other famous book (Siddarta or something) at all and didn't finish it.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:47pm
"You spelt there wrong. I hate that."
 
Good catch, Doug.  Fixed.  Like I said, I routinely butcher the English language.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 4:52pm
Yes, Damien is a page turner. A timeless tale of youth. Siddartha was after he was fully immersed into the eastern religions. Hesse was a DEEP thinker
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 26, 2018 - 5:08pm
Dear God! Its after 5:00! Time for the familiar green bottle. Cheers all! 
William Stockton Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:10pm
Leroy, you just took me full circle.  I came here to be a better writer . . . not a political bottom-feeding hack.
cheers
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:18pm
"As for the dairy companies in Maine, I would say that they were splitting hairs with the language to their advantage. It's hard to understand why these truck drivers should be exempt from overtime and other truck drivers get the pay."
 
It's hard for me to understand anyone should be exempt from overtime, especially among the lowest paid hourly workers--and not just the truck drivers.  Very clearly, someone is benefiting off the backs of these workers.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:20pm
"Leroy, you just took me full circle.  I came here to be a better writer . . . not a political bottom-feeding hack."
 
Thanks, William.  I am glad to have played some part in your conversion from a political hack to a better writer.
Leroy Added Mar 26, 2018 - 11:39pm
BTW, William, where do you stand on the Oxford comma?
Michael B. Added Mar 27, 2018 - 12:06am
Leroy, LOL! Great post, it mixes it up a little bit! I'm not a grammar Gestapo agent, and as long as I understand what people are trying to say, I leave them be, unless they are people who claim to have PhD's but write at a fifth-grade level. My (hopefully constructive) criticism is usually in the form of helpful hints, especially with people for whom English is a second or other language, and they usually appreciate the effort.
 
I worked as an editor for a certain publication (since gone) some years ago, and it never ceased to amaze me how much a seemingly minor typo in spelling and/or punctuation can totally change the meaning of something, as you related in your post. As far as legal mumbo-jumbo goes, nothing seems to compete with this one, from the Court of Sessions of Scotland:
 
"In the Nuts (unground), (other than ground nuts) Order, the expression nuts shall have reference to such nuts, other than ground nuts, as would but for this amending Order not qualify as nuts (unground)(other than ground nuts) by reason of their being nuts (unground)."
 
How's that for nutty legislation, lol.
William Stockton Added Mar 27, 2018 - 1:16am
Leroy,  . . . where do you stand on the Oxford comma?
 
I would say I am for the Oxford comma.  That is the way I was taught.  It seems to make a sentence structure more precise.
 
With the Oxford comma:
Please bring me a pencil, eraser, and notebook.
 
Without the Oxford comma:  Please bring me a pencil, eraser and notebook.  
One might imply, without the comma, the eraser and note were always paired together biconditionally. 
 
I guess I am more of a deductive, rather than an inductive writer.  Although, my writing sucks I still have hopes for improvement.
Michael B. Added Mar 27, 2018 - 1:31am
I vaguely remember a writing style in the early 90's called MLA or something like that. Among other things, MLA did not include commas before conjunctions like and, but, and or.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:08am
TBH
 
I remember when we were in school we had competitions on who could form the longest German phrase which still makes sense. The funny thing is I had English in school, then learnt to speak it fluently in my 2 years of work in anglophone countries, and I never really forgot much of it during the decades.
 
On the other hand I had French in school as well, have been speaking it in Africa and with my wife (she doesn't speak German or English) for almost 25 years, but I've never gotten as good in it (writing and speaking) as I have in English.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:11am
Of course French is a Latin language, while German and English resemble each other in structure, and many words are the same, from hand to arm to finger to....but I've always preferred English to German, because English doesn't use that damn polite form and has only one article, while German has 3 and French has two.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:12am
...and swearing in English is more fun anyway LOL
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:31am
There is a book you might enjoy called The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. I think it's still around
Stone-Eater Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:34am
TBH
 
Thanks. I'll get that to impress people ;-)
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:41am
might be useful for embassy cocktail parties
Michael B. Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:42am
I was told by a Russian that "for ze longest time, I thought ze Russian language vas ze richest in profanity and vulgarity, but after being around you Michael, I've decided it is English." I took that as among the highest praise possible, like Gary Kasparov telling me I kicked his ass in chess, or Boris Yeltsin saying I drank him under the table, lol.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:47am
Yob tvoyu mat :)
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:50am
Captain Kirk must have a date tonight
Michael B. Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:02am
TBH, too late - Mom died a couple of years ago.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:11am
Yep. Sick sumbitch. :)
Michael B. Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:14am
Funny, I recall the late, great George Carlin. I forgot which album it was on, but he talks about "the dozens", which was basically an insult contest. He said that some groups had certain rules, like "No Mothers", meaning someone's mother was off-limits. Carlin goes on to say something like, "We didn't have that rule. Usually the first thing we went after was someone's mother. Question: Where were you last night? Answer: I was out with your mother, HAHAHAHAHA!" Definitely a cheap shot. It takes someone special for me to bring their mothers into the fray.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:18am
It wasnt Carlin, but I remember a good one:  Your mama's so fat, she went to the Dr. and got diagnosed with an incurable, flesh-eating disease and he gave her a hundred years to live
Flying Junior Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:46am
Leroy,
 
You stole my title.
 
http://writerbeat.com/articles/18520-Where-Do-You-Stand-
 
I know you saw it.  You commented.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:49am
No nazi for you, Leroy. Just a common thief. My how the mighty have fallen :)
Flying Junior Added Mar 27, 2018 - 4:03am
I have never even heard of the Oxford comma.  I guess it has fallen from use for fifty years or more?
 
I'm more of a stickler about proper punctuation for song lyrics.  I love having a semi-colon at the end of any line that does not have a natural comma or period.  And I cannot abide by beginning a line of lyrics without capitalizing the first letter of the first word.
 
Yet the trend is to simply drop punctuation from song lyrics.  One style is to print nothing but the words.  Another style only includes periods, exclamation points and commas that would occur naturally in prose.  But the kind that I hate the most is when the first word of a line of lyrics starts with a word that is not capitalized.  The last problem is generally illustrated by the second approach.  I guess they may be one in the same.
 
The Sharif don't like it.
 
Oh yeah,
 
And people that don't type two spaces after a period.
 
Just kidding.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 7:47am
"I would say I am for the Oxford comma.  That is the way I was taught.  It seems to make a sentence structure more precise."
 
I agree.  Many say to only use it for clarity.  I say, why not always use it.  That way, I don't have to study each situation to ensure clarity.  It costs me nothing to include a comma.
 
Who says that your writing sucks?  Better than mine. 
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 8:01am
Thanks, Michael.
 
Engineers are some of the worse.  I had a colleague who sat in the cubicle beside me.  Anytime I needed a crash course on theory, all I had to do is ask him.  He helped me solve an issue with a French design that they keep installing over and over, which invariably failed.  He did a brilliant job of proving by theory that it wasn't properly designed.  Great.  I wanted him to get the credit.  I asked him to issue a short report.  It took three days of concentrated effort to write a two-page report.  In the end, it looked like a fifth grader had written the report.  It was a little embarrassing.  Engineers are some of the worst, myself included.  In general, any writing above a tenth-grade level won't be understood.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 8:09am
"On the other hand I had French in school as well, have been speaking it in Africa and with my wife (she doesn't speak German or English) for almost 25 years, but I've never gotten as good in it (writing and speaking) as I have in English."
 
The reverse is true as well.  French speakers never become completely fluent in the English language.  They always retain their accent and they frequently reverse the order of words.  After a year or two, you can't tell a German speaker from a native English speaker. 
 
As they say, English is easy to learn but difficult to master.  That applies equally to native English speakers.  The best English speakers are frequently non-native speakers.  One, in particular, comes to mind, but if I were to mention the name, it would set off a firestorm.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 8:23am
"Leroy,
 
You stole my title."
 
I apologize, FJ.  I am blessed with a short memory.  It allows me to enjoy the same articles and books again and again.  Sometimes it works against me.  Please forgive me for failing to remember the title of your article.  I never even thought to look. 
 
"I have never even heard of the Oxford comma.  I guess it has fallen from use for fifty years or more?"
 
I had never heard of it called an Oxford comma until a couple of years ago.  I just called it a comma.  In the survey referenced above, 57% of the respondents preferred the Oxford comma.  Obviously, 57% of the people do not use it.  Most don't.  And, with the present culture, punctuation and capitalization appear to be optional.  
 
The semi-colon can be your best friend, not only in lyrics but in common prose.  Most writers seem to be unaware of how to use it.  In song lyrics and poetry, punctuation seems to be all over the map.  I don't lose sleep over it.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 8:26am
"No nazi for you, Leroy. Just a common thief. My how the mighty have fallen :) "
 
I screwed the pooch on that one.
Neil Lock Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:36am
Leroy: Your article would have been more persuasive if you hadn’t omitted the open quote mark before your first statement about the American flag. (Oh, and I see Pardero already brought up another issue, which you must have corrected before I saw it :-).
 
As a Cambridge man, I was schooled to abhor anything from Oxford, including its comma. But like you, I tend to use it when it clarifies what I mean.
 
But I’ve taken home some great lessons from this article. One, that Tom Purcell isn’t a grammar nazi. Two, what the hell is any legislature doing writing such an unclear law (even if it had a right to?) And three, Benjamin’s comment is brilliant, but would have been even better if he’d included Germanic portmanteau words like weltanschauung!
Even A Broken Clock Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:40am
Leroy, this sort of story string is one reason why I enjoy writing and reading on this site. After all, we are not sticklers for "proper" grammar, yet we do appreciate the fine distinctions even if we ignore them in our own writing.
 
Dave, you mentioned splitting hairs. Let me just say that it is much better to split hairs than to split heirs.
 
And to quote Churchill (maybe), ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:46am
Player 1 : Where you at?
 
Player 2: Don't end a sentence with a preposition.
 
Player 1: Where you at, bitch?
 
That would be your non-Oxford variety
Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:51am
Heh, Neil Lock has a sharp cut on this Tuesday!  Enjoyed those comments.
Pardero Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:12am
Neil Lock is brilliant as always.
 
Way up the thread, Dave Volek mentions that some grammar textbooks and teachers do not identify an "Oxford comma." I have the same experience. No mention. I do have the little The Elements of Style that I am obviously little familiar with, and it does not give that comma a special name.
Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:13am
As far as the comma itself, Oxford or not, I keep it simple.  I consider the comma part of the dinnerware set for the article.  It's one of the utensils for the reader to consume the material.  Periods and commas are the knife and fork, if you will.  They control pace, space, pauses, they help to facilitate proper digestion.  Without commas, long sentences fade, and lose their emphasis...Without commas long sentences fade and lose their emphasis.  Too many, commas, and the read, stalls, quite boringly, we nod off. 
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:15am
"Leroy: Your article would have been more persuasive if you hadn’t omitted the open quote mark before your first statement about the American flag. (Oh, and I see Pardero already brought up another issue, which you must have corrected before I saw it :-)"
 
Thanks, Neil.  Fixed.  Thanks also for reminding me that I failed to address Pardero's comment.  The sentence was written as:
 
"There are many who have a high opinion of there (their) writing ability who shouldn't."
 
The question was why didn't I use commas.  Firstly, I am not a stickler for grammar.  I tend to overuse commas but didn't, in this case.  Why?  I thought the flow was better without it.  In fact, it seems awkward and perhaps incorrect with commas.  I could have written:
 
There are many, who have a high opinion of their writing ability, who shouldn't.
 
The part between commas should be for clarification.  If I leave it out, the sentence doesn't make sense.  
 
Perhaps he meant:
 
There are many who have a high opinion of their writing ability, who shouldn't.
 
The sentence can stand alone with the phrase after the comma, so maybe it works.  But, if I use a pause at the comma, the flow doesn't seem optimal.
 
It is an awkward sentence.  It could have been better structured, but, I wrote it that way with the purpose of catching the reader off-guard.
 
So, to all the grammarians out there, what is the correct answer?
 
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:17am
Thanks, EABC.
 
"Dave, you mentioned splitting hairs. Let me just say that it is much better to split hairs than to split heirs."
 
I suppose it is also better than splitting hares.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:27am
Leroy, the comma is useful for clarity.
 
As you say, the law could have said: packing for shipment, or packing for distribution of:  which would also have been clear.
 
In legal matters clarity is important, because it is difficult to judge intent.  Unfortunately, law makers are often not clear, thus leaving it up to the courts to sort out what was really written. 
Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:38am
And BTW when it comes to the truckers contract and payment, if the language can't be made clear, then my vote is that  it should be decided in principle, comprehensively for fairness all around.  There should be no quarrel over just compensation.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:39am
"In legal matters clarity is important, because it is difficult to judge intent."
 
I agree that is how it should be.  Sometimes, I think lawyers purposely make it vague.  I was part of a lawsuit.  The agreement to me seemed clear that any dispute would go to arbitration.  The other lawyers whom I consulted told me it was one of the weakest clauses they had ever seen.  It was written by a lawyer who is now a judge.  As a second example, I was charged with writing the legal agreement among ten engineers who wished to form a company.  The idea was to take it to a lawyer to put it into legal terms.  Getting ten engineers to agree on anything is a miracle in itself.  You get down to what the definition of what is is.  It turned out to be a ten-page document that precisely described the relationship we all wanted.  The lawyer turned it into two pages and left our intentions vague.  Not unexpectedly, it resulted in problems down the road.  We were told it had to be that way.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:59am
I have talked to judges about contracts, since I have run companies in the past.  I have asked them if it is necessary to take a contract to an attorney to "put it into legal terms".  They said it is not necessary, the most important thing is clarity.  The biggest problem the judges say they have is lack of clarity, and that contracts are written such that they can be interpreted differently, by different people, even with honest intentions. 
 
They say that 90% of the words in most contracts dont need to be there.  What is important is that the parties involved understand their obligations, rights, and remedies.
 
In writing a contract, the question that needs to be asked of any sentence is, "cant this be interpreted more than one way".  In agreeing to a contract we must realize that it means what  it says.
 
In the past I was asked to sign NDAs as terms of employment.  One I was presented with was written so poorly that it said I would need to get permission for any relative to do business with an oil company.  Since oil companies own gas stations, I think you see the problem.  There were other similar sloppy problems.  When I asked management about this, they said they really did not mean this interpretation, yet that is what the contract said.  When I asked an attorney, they said it means what it says.  Probably no one would act on the vagueness of the contract, but you leave yourself open if some VP gets a hard on for you, and wants to cause you trouble.
 
For me the useful part the attorneys provide is determining whether  the contract is legal and enforceable.  You cant agree to something that violates contract law.  Similarly there is some boiler plate in most contracts about liability which is useful, but which can be copied from most any contract to another one.
 
Taking plain English, and turning it into legalese has no use.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 11:59am
Law of, by and for lawyers is no longer law, but a grotesque perversion of law.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 27, 2018 - 12:06pm
Once literacy became widespread there had to be some new way to screw the masses without their knowledge. Remember that up until a few hundred years ago the written word was the exclusive province of priests, scribes and nobles. Now they converse by new language among politicos, lawyers and accountants to keep their doings cloaked from common view
Neil Lock Added Mar 27, 2018 - 12:29pm
Leroy: There are many, who have a high opinion of their writing ability, who shouldn't. Myself, I'd prefer "Many, who hold a high opinion of their writing ability, shouldn't." Because it's shorter and more precise (and, I think, punchier too). It works even better when introduced by "And" or "But."
 
I was about to bring up the vexed subject of punctuation, but this thread is already thriving...
Neil Lock Added Mar 27, 2018 - 12:40pm
I meant "the ordering of punctuation."
Ian Thorpe Added Mar 27, 2018 - 12:42pm
Leroy, re your point about splitting hares, I've never seen a split hare, but I've seen a few split beavers in my time ....... just thought I'd lower the tone a bit. Some strange things pop into one's mind while waiting for a 1.5 gbyte raw video file to be rendered as MP4 :-)
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 1:31pm
"Many, who hold a high opinion of their writing ability, shouldn't."
 
Yep.  I agree.  It gets rid of the passive voice too.  I have a proclivity for using the passive voice.  It's something I need to work on.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 1:32pm
Ian, I am waiting on TBH's response to that.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 1:48pm
Bill, a layperson can say one thing.  A lawyer can say the exact same thing and it means something different.  One case in point was when I sold some property.  I had a realtor.  People went to the realtor and tried to buy the property.  The realtor was incompetent.  I fired her.  The day the next realtor took over, the people contacted him.  He immediately arranged the sale.  The former realtor went to the people and told them the land was no good for a septic tank, which was a lie.  She tried to nix the sale.  They wanted to be released.  I couldn't release them until the realtor did.  They had no grounds to get out of the contract.  Once the realtor agreed, I wrote the people an email agreeing to release them if they agreed to take care of their obligations.  They had hired someone to come in and dig a hole for a soil test.  They also had it surveyed.  I was just stating the obvious when I conditionally release them.  They went to their closing attorney and protested.  She threatened me claiming that I had agreed to release them unconditionally.  I showed her that it was a conditional release.  It didn't matter.  The conditional clause meant nothing.  If she had written the exact same words, it would have mattered.  Finally, I just released them.  They were just trying to get out of paying.  They were taken to magistrate court and were forced to pay.
 
After my experience with lawyers and the court system, I have zero respect for our court system and lawyers in particular.  They lie at will and are not held accountable.  If justice happens, it is just a secondary consequence.
mark henry smith Added Mar 27, 2018 - 2:16pm
I was once told that I killed my wife for lack of a comma, but I reread the sentence and decided that the reader was incorrect. It said, "Wendy and my dog, Gunner, died."
 
If I'd said, Wendy, and my dog, Gunner, died, I could understand the confusion. But just because I left out the possessive, Wendy's and my dog, which sounds awkward to my ear, doesn't really kill Wendy.
 
Titles are there for the taking. Spellcheck trains us to accept a there for their arrangement now and than.
 
Love, The panda eats, shoots, and leaves.
 
What happened to the picture worth a thousand words post? I can't find it anymore. What you learn is that certain topics are sure to stir up comment. Give me a Nazi and a climate denier and comments are sure to follow.
Eric Reports Added Mar 27, 2018 - 3:47pm
What. Do. You. Think?
Doug Plumb Added Mar 27, 2018 - 4:28pm
The thing about the law is that it has always been this way wrt language. Legalese is just the correct use of English. Its got a special name because most people don't know their native language. The correct meaning of a word is its legal meaning in most cases. Some words have multiple meanings such as Agent, Personality, ...and a few others but their original meaning is the legal meaning. Personality doesn't mean sense of humour or kindness. The word is used to trick people in court into becoming a Crown agent and giving up unalienable rights, but in a subtle and not so obvious way as claimed by detaxers. You have to have agency to accept charges, this requires personality in the jurisdiction from which charges are laid. Guilty.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 27, 2018 - 4:29pm
Latin is a dead language and it was the language of the law when freedom was to be preserved. Destroy the words and you destroy freedom.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 27, 2018 - 5:47pm
I actually came to WB as a bottom-feeding political hack so I don't really give a heck.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:45pm
"What happened to the picture worth a thousand words post? I can't find it anymore. What you learn is that certain topics are sure to stir up comment. Give me a Nazi and a climate denier and comments are sure to follow."
 
FJ must have been too stressed by the article.  Yep.  You're right.  Certain topics are sure to get comments.  I'm pleased that an Oxford comma got as much attention as it did.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:48pm
"Latin is a dead language and it was the language of the law when freedom was to be preserved."
 
Was latin ever a live language?  Did any people actually speak it?  Being a dead language made it a good one to write in.  You didn't have to worry about the language evolving.
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:49pm
"I actually came to WB as a bottom-feeding political hack so I don't really give a heck."
 
Where do you stand on the Oxford comma?
Leroy Added Mar 27, 2018 - 10:53pm
"And BTW when it comes to the truckers contract and payment, if the language can't be made clear, then my vote is that  it should be decided in principle, comprehensively for fairness all around.  There should be no quarrel over just compensation."
 
That seems to be what the court decided.  How can any self-respecting legislator decide some people aren't worth over time?  They are willing to screw over minimum wage workers (not talking about the truckers here) so some wealthy individual can make more money become he has a political connection.
Flying Junior Added Mar 28, 2018 - 2:55am
Gee whiz Leroy.  I wasn't butt-hurt that you used the same title.  I was more or less kidding around.  I'm trying to lighten up.  I was happy to read a post about grammar.  I certainly did not intend to call you a thief.
Flying Junior Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:46am
Thank you for asking.  I keep on thinking that there is somebody on the WB that really needs to hear my voice.  There is someone.  But it’s not going to be somebody who needs to hear my political views.
 
The Writer Beat is a right-wing stronghold.  No one will ever get tired of pseudo-science proving that the climate change scare is false and dangerous.  Pieces about the economic explosion of jobs and middle class prosperity made possible by the Trump tax cuts and his shrewd tariffs will always be welcome.  How soon will we see articles about Mueller disappear?  Will no one ever vilify Obama or Hillary again?  Oh yeah!  Arm the teachers and gun control is never going to work.  Did I miss anything?
 
The first article I penned expressly for the WB was about the violence at Charlottesville and the tepid, Nazi-friendly, if you will, response from the president.  I got a pat on the back from Opher.  You may remember the title.  If I remember correctly some of the gasping and pearl clutching over Trump’s first accidental tipping of his hand came from a small number of republican voices that were, as of yet, not terrified of the monster.  Wasn’t Paul Ryan one of the guys who did not wish to be associated with the Charlottesville Nazis and White Supremacists?  One of the most unlikely allies turned out to be Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. 
 
The monster doesn’t like Bob Corker very much.
 
But back to my post, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words or Why I Don’t Stand with Trump and the Nazis.  It’s not my mission to tilt at windmills and try to convert the alt-right on the WB.  To my way of thinking most have already gone too far.  If this nation does have any hope, it is in the youth vote. 
 
I was talking to Mustafa.  When I saw him post some ridiculous rant which mentioned in passing the day of rage in Charlottesville, I asked him for clarification.  All that time I wasted and all the wasted effort I took in fending off the pack of Miniature Doberman Pinschers that crumpled like dried flowers when I dared to challenge their point-of-view.  Mustafa couldn’t give me one millimeter.  He was only able to agree that some anti-social, psychopathic maniac just happened to show up at the rally and for some reason not related to the demonstration, just decided to kill some people with his car.
 
He was probably Antifa or BLM, right bros?  Violence emanates from the left.  I do have to apologize.  The video of the car murder that I watched ten times is no longer available.  TZM has forty-five seconds of it, but it is very inconclusive.  For one thing, although we do see the car in its last fifty feet of travel in gear going forward at low speed, the front end is already badly damaged.  So we clearly are not seeing the men who clubbed his vehicle while he was still in drive.  What really happened was people began chasing the car with their clubs as he slowly drove his car down a narrow street through the crowd.  By the time he backed out at high speed his car was already badly damaged, particularly on the front bumper, which occurred when he was driving into the crowd in gear at a low speed.  Several of the counter-protestors already appeared to understand that Mr. Fields was doing a vehicular murder.  A car attack.  They began to break his rear window in the last thirty seconds of forward motion.  You can watch that on the edited video.  I repeat.  You will not find the complete video.  The Great Gazoogol has decided to censor it.  If anyone can find it, please let me know.
 
Maybe you guys are right.  He was just scared.  Who could blame him for driving one full city-block in forward gear and then suddenly realizing that he actually needed to back out in order to escape?  That nutshells the irrationality of my opponents right there.  He wasn’t trying to escape.  He was trying to kill as many people as possible.
 
Not one fucking inch.  The very guy I was trying to talk to.  He had the nerve to tell me that he had hoped I would be a liberal that he could reach.  Complete fucking waste of time.  An article without any value whatsoever.  All I got was a dogpile of Trumpie flakes bitching about everything from Obama to black bloggers.  You jumped on top of the dogpile, Leroy.
 
There has been some intersection in political violence between the more militant members of Antifa-associated groups and the black-clad anarchists.  I am not narrow-minded and I am always open to being proven wrong.  But this ridiculous narrative about BLM and Antifa is really just a crock of shit.  I know th
Stone-Eater Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:49am
Leroy
 
Was latin ever a live language?  Did any people actually speak it?
 
Of course. In Caesar's time it was. That's where today's French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese come from. But don't ask me where they use commas :-)
 
BTW: German is an artificial language too - created in the 1850's, because the northern and southern tribes of Germany didn't understand each other. They all spoke dialects, same as we Swiss do until today, but using "high German" as written language.
 
Even English has developed from German and French - starting with the Normans invading what is UK now introducing French vocabulary, or the Vikings up north influencing English with Norwegian/Swedish words and terms which are related to German.
Flying Junior Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:51am
I know that you all think that I am crazy or deceived.  But it just doesn’t hurt my feelings in the slightest.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 28, 2018 - 6:23am
FJ
 
The Writer Beat is a right-wing stronghold.
 
No. WB is a platform where everybody gets his voice according to interest. I don't consider myself being a right-winger. As I said I don't like categories and drawers ;-)
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 10:28am
Leroy: I change my mind everytime I write. I have heard that one should at least be consistent. I'm a rebel.
Leroy Added Mar 28, 2018 - 10:45am
FJ, I don't agree that WB is a right-wing stronghold.  My perception is that Autumn attempts to balance the site.  I could be wrong.  I have seen conservative writers targeted.  I have not seen liberal writers targeted, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  You arrived at this site somehow. 
 
What I see is that the more liberal writers tend to retreat to their safe places when challenged.  Much to your credit, you stand your ground.  Unfortunately, the leftist arguments don't stand up to logic and reason.  Most are not honest liberals.  That is why I believe liberal talk shows fail.  I don't consider myself a conservative, but, for a lack of a better label, I accept it.
 
I really don't understand the left's obsession with fascists and white supremacists.  They are few in number and hold no power.   These groups and groups such as BLM are equally despicable.
Tom C. Purcell Added Mar 28, 2018 - 10:51am
I pity the Flying Jewniors of this generation.  He's been brainwashed and now he's reeling at his first glimpse of reality.  WWII happened, the Soviets won and Germany was conquered, but the details have been pestaled.  It's difficult to reconcile and that's by design.
Leroy Added Mar 28, 2018 - 11:02am
"I know that you all think that I am crazy or deceived.  But it just doesn’t hurt my feelings in the slightest."
 
You seem to be on the verge of being red pilled.  We can only hope ;)
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 11:02am
Liberals drive me crazy, but we need more of them.
Leroy Added Mar 28, 2018 - 11:43am
"Leroy: I change my mind everytime I write. I have heard that one should at least be consistent. I'm a rebel."
 
I'm inconsistent with how I handle quotes.  The classic American method is awkward.   Does that make me a rebel?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 12:30pm
I also change the quotes as I see fit. What is the American way? Single 'quotes'? Or "Double quotes"?
Leroy Added Mar 28, 2018 - 12:36pm
Generally, the punctuation is inside the quotes.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 12:37pm
See how rebellious I am. *g*
Thx
Mark Hunter Added Mar 29, 2018 - 12:14am
I was taught that it wasn't necessary, but then I met my wife, the English major. In fact, she's editing one of my manuscripts, and jumped me just tonight over missing an Oxford comma (and not in a good way). She has me pretty much trained to always use it.
Leroy Added Mar 29, 2018 - 8:20am
Same here, Mark.  I wasn't exactly taught that it wasn't necessary.  It was more like this is the way to do it.  It was never discussed.  It was never called a serial or Oxford comma.  There was no comma there to be given a name.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 29, 2018 - 1:20pm
Leroy
 
I really don't understand the left's obsession with fascists and white supremacists. 
 
Really, you seem to have different definitions of "left" than we have in Europe. Here the "left" stands for "everybody's welcome no matter if you work for us or not" and PC.
 
Not that I would like it. But the "right" stands for "give the corporations all the money they need and fuck the ones who fail to lick their ass".
 
That's why I'm neither of all them idiots.
Leroy Added Mar 29, 2018 - 5:41pm
Stoney, the basic difference here is that the left believes in big government where the right believes in limited government.  In reality, there is not much difference between the two.  Trump approved the latest budget buster budget.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 5:49pm
First I thought it was ugly. It is probably a newer development. It doesn't exist in German. Then I started using it occasionally and sometimes it helps me structure things better because it can also be used in long sentences (have I mentioned that I'm German).
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 5:51pm
I think I don't mention often enough that I'm male, Jewish and German. ;-)
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 5:52pm
In Europe the difference between left and right is that you hold all positions of Jill Stein when you are on the left and you hold all positions of jill Stein when you are on the right. However, the reverse is also true very often.
Leroy Added Mar 30, 2018 - 11:06am
In the US, the left holds the position of Maxine Waters.  The right holds the position of Paul Ryan.
 
My beliefs are along those of William Douglass Campbell:
 
“I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. I'm not an independent. I am a damn American.”
 
Flying Junior Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:39am
Trump approved the latest budget buster budget.
 
I can dig it, Leroy.  Anyone who professes to wish to reign in the MIC and the Pentagon and yet somehow was tricked into voting for Trump should be smart enough to feel betrayed by now. 
 
I could have guessed that would be exactly what he would do.
 
Silver lining is that I don't believe there are any plans right now to build new nukes.  We can be thankful for that much.
 
Thank you for staying honest.
 
Trump ≠ Libertarian.
 
Not by any stretch.  He's more like the type of guy who would welcome a worldwide depression no matter how many people starved and died.  As long as it didn't hurt his own bottom line.  Even better if he could swoop in like a Buzzard and buy up assets and properties on the cheap from foreclosures and bankruptcies. 
 
I left a bad joke about hell for you on Lynn's page.
Flying Junior Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:49am
Remember just about the first thing that Trump did to flex his muscles as commander-in-chief was to drop the MOAB bomb on some military airbase in Syria?
 
How much do you suppose it costs to build, purchase, transport and drop the largest conventional weapon ever invented in a remote land like Syria?  One billion$$$?  Two billion$$$?  I doubt that anyone will ever tell what the cost was.  Classified information.
 
Nothing makes a guy like Trump happier than wasting somebody else's money.  Yes.  U.S. taxpayers.  Honey Badger doesn't care.  I hope you guys are all happy with your nine hundred bucks or whatever you are getting from the great republican tax heist of 2017.  Because, you're not really getting the lion's share of it, are you?
 
Are you guys okay with going from 20 trillion$$$ to 40 trillion$$$ in national debt?  I'm thinking it might not be safe or wise.
 
What's the difference, anyway?  Let's just pick a day on the calendar for mutually assured destruction some time in the next couple of years.  Let's drop the big one.  We'll turn the desert sands to glass.  Hillary was going to start a war with Russia.  At least we don't have to worry about that anymore.
Flying Junior Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:55am
Shucks!  There went another trillion $$$.  I'm guessing from the national debt clock that in maybe another ten or twenty minutes the national debt will approximately equal...
 
$21 trillion, $111 billion and $4 million.
 
21,111,400 millions of dollars.
 
Pretty soon it won't really fly to blame Obama.
 
But enjoy that one large.  You earned it.
Flying Junior Added Apr 2, 2018 - 4:03am
We just hit my mark.  3:58 a.m. EST.  $21, 111.4 Billion.
 
Good time for a tax cut and the largest budget ever passed.
 
Look again next week.
Leroy Added Apr 2, 2018 - 9:30am
Today's headline:
 
Trump's Approval Rating Hits 50%
 
That has to be pretty depressing for you, FJ.
 
But, there is a silver lining for you; the Democrats should do well in the mid-terms.  It is not that the Democrats have done so well; it is because the Republicans are too stupid to capitalize on Trump's success.  They keep distancing themselves from what is working for Trump.  It is like they are afraid of success.  Maxine Walters for Majority leader!
Flying Junior Added Apr 2, 2018 - 4:02pm
Is she really the favored horse?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Apr 2, 2018 - 4:13pm
She is the Republican's favorite horse. LOL
I think Liz Warren will run. She is characterless and can take whatever position is needed. The left is split between a socialist wing, a identity politics wing and a pro-working class wing. The equilibrium must move back to the working class. In short time only a fake person like Warren can move the needle and prepare the ground for whoever comes up after her.
Leroy Added Apr 2, 2018 - 8:05pm
"Is she really the favored horse?"
 
I was just kidding.  She is widely known for being a loonie tune (no offense to our Canadian friends) even among the Democrats.  She is at best a useful tool for Pelosi.
Leroy Added Apr 2, 2018 - 8:07pm
Pocahontas has an identity problem.
Flying Junior Added Apr 3, 2018 - 5:09am
I just divided the U.S. national debt by the amount of credit card debt held by Americans.  That national debt clock is a scary place.
 
Thumbnailed it half an hour ago.  National debt at $21.113 trillion.  Credit card debt at $1.031 trillion.  That gives a quotient of 20.475.
 
That should scare any fiscal conservative.  The national debt exceeds the total amount of credit card debt owed by U.S. citizens by more than a factor of twenty.
 
Imagine some future hell envisioned by a latter day Kafka in political and metaphysical fiction wherein you had to pay more than twenty times your consumer debt just to escape debtor's prison.
 
That's where we are today.  My liberal friends were telling me that there really is no need to worry about the debt for some time to come.  Those guys were twenty years behind me.  Maybe 2001 would have been a good year to continue paying down the debt in view of the booming economy.  The only way to pay down debt today would be to give the shaft to elderly Americans who have been paying FICA and SSA taxes for their entire working careers.  Not to mention younger people who are still planning on getting old.  That's what the republicans want to do, right?  See the political thought of the true voice of the republican party, Paul Ryan.
 
Here is the real kicker.  Net annual interest on the U.S. National Debt.  This includes U.S. Treasury Notes and Bonds, Government Account Series and other Securities.  $288.173 Billion at this instant.
 
So we are looking at paying $300 Billion in interest every year for the foreseeable future.  That's almost a dollar for every man, woman and child living in the U.S.  Interest rates may go up soon, particularly as government debt becomes less desirable and our credit standing diminishes by virtue of the ration between GDP and total debt.  Sadly, the National Deficit somewhat exceeds the current interest payment on the debt.  So we are not even treading water.   We are sinking.
 
It's simple economics.  When you are maxed out on credit, your score goes down.  When your burden is light, your score goes up.  Trump's policies may cause interest rates to go up.  I mean around the world.  Does anyone doubt that? 
 
Since I have not yet discussed the National Deficit, it is not unfair for me to choose Federal Spending as the liability of each and every one of us.  This is not the total debt, interest and spending divided equally between 327 million people between the ages of 1 day and 110 years.  That would be called a flat tax.  But the amount per citizen is an important measure.
 
So on top of the $1.ºº that each one of us that is still breathing pays every year to cover the interest on the national debt...  We are still on the hook for covering government spending.  What is the current level of government spending?  On the happy side, GDP has more than doubled since the year 2,000.  This is better than 3% growth per year.  Just what the doctor ordered for our crazy economic system.  We almost hit that with 2.9% expansion in 2017.  Maybe if Trump doesn't rock the boat any more than he already has, we will ride this thing out.
 
The remainder of our monetary responsibility can be calculated by government spending divided by 327 million people.
 
Government spending at this instant is at $4.11 trillion per annum.  Republicans look at this number and see $1.174 trillion in Medicare/Medicaid, $964 billion in Social Security payments and a paltry $649 billion to the military.  Oddly, I couldn't convince friends on the Writer Beat that payroll taxes had exactly nothing to do with income taxes.  They laughed at me because I was so simple that I didn't understand that all of the credit and expenditures came out of the same Treasury.  A vast swimming pool filled with tax monies and non-existent government obligations.
 
I  tried to explain to them that we have all been paying FICA and SSA taxes through our payroll taxes every month since we began working.  It's not the same thing as federal income tax.  They just laughed like dogs that couldn't understand English.
 
$4.11 trillion ÷ 327 million = $12,569
 
So on top of the dollar that I have to pay to service the debt, I'm still on the hook for twelve-thousand, five-hundred and seventy dollars.  In truth I only have to pay eight or nine thousand dollars.  Thank the Goddess for the Trump tax cuts.  That's eight hundred bucks in my pocket!  Thank you Donald.  I feel so much better.
Leroy Added Apr 3, 2018 - 4:19pm
Well, if we only pay a buck each to service the debt, then it is a bargain, FJ.  We should go into more debt.  Somehow, I doubt your calculations.  Maybe it should be $1,000 each.  What do you think?
Flying Junior Added Apr 3, 2018 - 4:52pm
I think I was having too much fun using the Great Gazoogol as a calculator.  The one dollar isn't bad.  But that would be like taking out a huge line of credit on your house and finding out that you can barely afford to pay the interest on top of your other living expenses.
Flying Junior Added Apr 3, 2018 - 4:53pm
You should visit the National Debt Clock if you have never seen it.  It is something else!
 
http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Leroy Added Apr 3, 2018 - 7:14pm
You are preaching to the choir, FJ.  I hope that I am wrong, but I think we are past the tipping point on the debt.  Bush the Junior started down the path of no return.  O double-downed.  Trump is blowing it out of the water.  Maybe there is a bigger plan, but I am too feeble-minded to imagine how we get out of it.  I am at the point where I no longer care.  We went from subprime mortgages to subprime auto loans.  We never learn.  I am the scourge of the loan industry.  I pay my bills on time.
Katharine Otto Added Apr 3, 2018 - 11:02pm
Leroy,
Thanks for the grammar lesson.  I was taught to use the Oxford comma, but now I know it's not necessary.  You certainly generated a long thread.  How did we get to the national debt?
 
I thought Obama was hired by his handlers to bankrupt the US.  I was wrong, because we're not there yet, or at least, we're not admitting it.  I figure the Fed is in a pickle, because the government isn't receiving enough in revenues to pay interest on the national debt.  I'm guessing the government is desperate for income, which may partially explain the new tariffs and Jeff Sessions' pledge to step up search and seizure.  Off shore and wildlife refuge exploration and drilling concessions, too.  Just a hunch.
Leroy Added Apr 4, 2018 - 9:17am
Thanks, Katharine.  I prefer it because it adds clarity.  Maybe it's a false economy to exclude it.
 
It was Bush who set us on the path of destruction.  O double-downed on it.  Clinton was supposed to complete the troika to do what Napolean and Hilter failed to do.  That plan was upset.  Trump changed course and is leading us down another path of destruction.  Maybe there is a plan, but time ran out a long time ago.  At best, he can make America mediocre again.