Thursday, September 21, 2006

Percy Dovetonsils David Brooks Flunks Hormones and Commas

Mr. Brooks: I detect a tone of lip-smacking satisfaction in your anatomy/chemistry is-destiny recitation. A hormonal fate that gives blessings to inevitable male dominance powered by prenatal hormone baths of the little fellow’s brain makes the Great Chain of Being with women second bananas for eternity a permanent, hormonally determined delicious fact of life for you, hallelujah.

Hold on, Percy Dovetonsils Brooks.

I offer contrary scientific evidence. To wit, if hormones make the male of the species an aggressor overlord powered by testosterone—now augmented by Cialis and God knows what else Merk will conjure up—why can’t he master commas that are a piece of cake for us of the hormonally rendered docile sex? Why can’t a testosterone powerhouse wrestle errant commas to the ground as we girls can with one hand tied behind our backs, although men daily have Stockholmed women about how dumb they are and how smart men are since the cave days?

The answer, of course, is that this cocktail-party hormonal flim-flam you recite represents an interim report from brain research that will change any second now.

As we speak, some Mary Woolstonecraft Shelly with a Ph.D. in brain chemistry from Bergdorf’s Shoe Department, which carries hormonally bespoke Pradas for women smart enough to demand them, will emerge from her boutique lab in Bergdorf’s basement to reveal that she has fiddled around with brain chemistry when she was not blending a new lip hue and has come across a new wrinkle that had escaped science thus far: this hormone shows that, in the long run, women will enjoy the worm-turns destiny of total mastery over the testosterone-inebriated sex because a newly discovered doodad between the pia and arachnoid maters has a dominance flip switch that women will turn on when it serves their fancy to do. So after the eminent flip-switching, women will rule the universe, and prenatal testosterone brain baths bedamned.

To prepare for that day, Le Dovetonsils Brooks, you better learn to use commas because, after the switch flipping, there will be only one male columnist on the NYT op-ed page—the one who can show mastery of commas-- whilst all the others will be prenatal comma-adept women. The switch flipping will signal the death knell of the anatomy-is-destiny-dumb-white-male-affirmative-action-columnist plan that has obtained thus far in the NYT columnist op-ed male locker room.

lee drury de cesare

Girls can also, on average, hear a broader range of sounds in the human voice, and can better discern changes in tone.

The comma after “voice” splits a compound verb.

These sorts of stark sex differences were once highly controversial, and not fit for polite conversation.

The comma after “controversial” splits a compound predicate adjective.

Over the ages, thinkers have argued that humans are divided between passion and reason, or between the angelic and the demonic.

The comma after “reason” splits a compound adverbial prepositional phrase.

This new understanding both validates ancient stereotypes about the sexes, and fuzzes up moral judgments about human responsibility (biology inclines individuals toward certain virtues and vices).

You have truncated the correlative with omitting “also” and as well have split with a comma the correlative “both validates…and [also] fuzzes up….”

Once radicals dreamed of new ways of living, but now happiness seems to consist of living in harmony with the patterns that nature and evolution laid down long, long ago.

This soothing nostrum drools utter twaddle, Master Brooks. Don’t comfort yourself with its false assurance. Comma-dominant Valkyries are even now at the door of the newsroom poised to eject you from your y-chromosome chair as opiner.

lee drury de cesare
Madeira Beach, FL

I shall post this on www// to expose your comma-determined ejection from the NYT op-ed roster momentarily.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

You're Fired, Charley Manning

Boston Globe: Please forward this to Mr. Manning in his posh offices. Somebody needs to tell him the truth.

A cautious crew of Democrats
By Charley Manning | September 3, 2006

Well it sounds like he is for it and against it.

Mr. Manning is addicted to superfluous adverbs. Strunk & White warns us against these. Graham Greene hated them. If Charley insists on using a redundant “well,” it merits a comma as sentence modifier.

Reilly has actually been the most effective in debates so far by going on the offensive against his opponents with nicely timed cheap shots.

“Actually” is another flabby adverb. Le Charley should dump it. “Nicely” is inept diction; “nicely timed” is a cliché. “Cunning, sly,m or wily” is more potent.

With just two weeks to go, there are some major opportunities coming up for one of the candidates to reach out and seize a victory that will give him the momentum to seriously challenge Kerry Healey in November. 38 words

“Just” and “seriously” are redundant, boggy adverbs. This sentence requires pruning: “With two weeks to go, one candidate can seize momentum to challenge Healey in November.” 15 words

He just repeats the same lines three or four times over and over again, which makes him look like a man of conviction. 23 words

“Just” is another throat-clearing adverb. “Repeats…again” equals “repeats.” “He repeats the same lines to make him look like a man of conviction.” 14 words

But what has been missing so far are ads with an edge.

This flabby sentence should be “Missing have been ads with an edge.”

Well if Reilly believes what the polls are showing, that the race is getting away from him, it makes sense for him to take on Gabrieli. 26 words

If Mr. Charley can’t resist another superfluous “well,” he owes it a comma. This sentence ranks boggy: “The polls showing the race getting away from him confirm the need to take on Gabrieli.” 16 words

But he better have the ``I can't believe my opponents are attacking me, and of course it's not true" ad ready at a moment's notice. 25 words

Charley should hyphenate this neo-adjective phrase before a noun for reader comprehension: “I-can’t-believe-my-opponents-are-attacking-me-and-of-course-it’s-not-true ad ready.” 4 words

Finally, as the traffic picks up after Labor Day, and people are spending more time stuck in their cars, it makes a lot of sense for the candidates to start spending money on radio ads. 35 words

Dump “finally.” Dump the comma after “Day”: it splits a compound verb. Get rid of the floating pronoun “it”: “When Labor-Day traffic finds people stuck in their cars, the candidate should start spending money on radio ads.” 18 words

In most campaigns, television is very important, but radio is always the secret weapon. 14 words

No “very,” Charley. “Radio is the secret weapon in most campaigns.” 8 words

Charley Manning is a Boston-based strategic consultant who has been an adviser on three of the last four winning Republican gubernatorial campaigns: William Weld in 1990 and 1994, and Mitt Romney in 2002.

Grammargrinch would not hire. Srategic Charley is wordy, dotes on redundant adverbs, and has no ear for the music of language. Grammargrinch also would not vote for a candidate with no better sense than to hire Charley.
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