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//grammargrinch.blogspot.com to expose your comma-determined ejection from the NYT op-ed roster momentarily.

10 Comments:

Blogger Matt said...

A hormonal fate that gives blessings to inevitable male dominance powered by prenatal hormone baths of the little fellow’s brain ...

Tsk. You gals really let yourselves down with those limp, pussy-footing passive verbs, don't you?

2:41 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

... if hormones make the male of the species an aggressor overlord powered by testosterone ...

Yes, you do.

2:42 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

...that will change any second now.

Don't you maintain that Strunk and White want us to rid our writing of cliches? And redundant adverbs like "now"?

2:45 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

… you better learn to use commas because, after the switch flipping, there will be only one male columnist …

From Strunk and White:

“If a parenthetic expression is preceded by a conjunction, place the first comma before the conjunction, not after it.

He saw us coming, and unaware that we had learned of his treachery, greeted us with a smile.

Edit:
… you better learn to use commas , because after the switch flipping, there will be only one male columnist …

Look at those stone cracks in your glass house!

2:54 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

... momentarily.

Oh no! You're one of those!

You meant "soon", right?

2:58 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

... although men daily have Stockholmed women about how dumb they are and how smart men are since the cave days?

Why not move the adverbial "since the cave days" closer to the verb it modifies (have Stockholmed) where it belongs?

4:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

...you better learn to use commas because, after the switch flipping ...

Sorry; I forgot to mention your missing hyphen. Normally you're big on those too.

The hyphenless way you've written it needs a possessive before the gerund, doesn't it? (Another favourite of yours; but only when others do it.)

Hyphen? Possessive before gerund? Correct use of commas? Maintaining your own standards that you dish out with vitriol?

Doubtful.

7:30 PM  
Blogger twinkobie said...

I found all these critiques after I switched to the new beta of Blogspot. These comments reveal how deeply a challenge to patriarchy disturbs guys. lee

9:45 AM  
Blogger twinkobie said...

I see that the guys are bitter against any resistance to their hegemony. Tough, fellows (elliptical clause. Pout on. lee

6:19 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Resist whatever you imagine exists, Lee. You write with flabby passive verbs, and you can't use a comma correctly in a sentence that condemns another's comma misuse.

I see that you use the "elliptical clause flim flam" when it suits you. Pity you can't close your brackets.

4:07 AM  

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