Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gloria and Lee 1970: Both PBK: Working for the ERA Ratification in Houston

From: lee decesare []
Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 1:28 PM
To: 'Wolfe, Alvin'; ''; 'NCOLE99@HOTMAIL.COM'
Cc: 'Wolfe, Alvin'; 'Barbara Rowell'; 'Deats, Sara'; 'Dr. Gordon J. Gilbert'; ''; 'Margaret Harris'; 'Mel Estroff'; 'MickeyCastor'; 'NCOLE99@HOTMAIL.COM'; 'Ron Ladd'; 'Sandra Seckel'; 'Dr. Gordon J. Gilbert'; 'Tom Gonzalez'; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''
Subject: FW: PBK Afternoon Programs Yet Another Suggestion from Lee De Cesare

Dr. Alvin Emeritus, I rarely comment on the grammar and punctuation of any papers but the NYT, DC Post, and the Boston Globe in my grammar blog. Even with only those three, you would be surprised how many hits my Grammargrinch.blogspot gets.

It appears that newspaper people didn't get training in grammar and punctuation and know they need help. NYT Sulzberger's pointing out with evident pride when he appeared at Poynter (where illiteracy reigns in the writing department) that most reporters now have college degrees surprised me. One would have thought that they all did and that newspaper work required a college degree.

So my serves as these reporters' covert read at those three papers whose stuff I cover because they know that as professional writers they should know basic grammar and punctuation because many of their readers do.

Grammar-and-punctuation illiteracy is ubiquitous outside newspapers in places which astonish one. The superintendents of both the Pinellas and Hillsborough school boards have a frail grasp of basic grammar and punctuation despite getting bloated salaries and obscene perquisites to preside over a school system supposed to instill this knowledge as the stamp of literacy in students over whom superintendent illiterati preside.

The public doesn't know this fact of superintendent marginal literacy because the newspapers don't report it, and the Board members' grasp of grammar and punctuation is too frail to recognize it.

Newspapers and others (e.g. School Board members and most of the public) don't want to deal with this great secret underground of burgeoning illiteracy because they fear they suffer the affliction too. A "mum's the word" attitude has evolved. Hence, a giant cover-up festers about this growing problem exacerbated by ubiquitous email go-to-hell illiteracy.

We are marching back to the caves and soon will return to picking fleas off each other and scribbling Lescaux-cave treatises when not grunting, poking each other in the ribs, or bopping each other over the head to convey information with the bone we were just gnawing with our Bud Lite. To show you how desperate things have become, I got an email from a hoity-toity Oxford-dictionary guy who confused a gerund and a participle.

PBK seems natural leader out of this wilderness. Does Bay Area PBK have the stomach and intellectual gravity to have a speaker to out this problem? We should be able to dig one up from Oxford. We can pay a don's way, and I will put him up at the beach on my couch, where he can listen to the waves , convene with the seagulls, and observe the p arade of white-as-fatback German tourists who stroll the beach in thong swim attire so as to get maximum sun to ensure skin cancer in their future.

An Oxford don will jump at the chance to say he lectured to PBK American linguistic barbarians. It will provide ├ęclat for him in the Oxford common rooms when he returns to ridicule us.

PBK looms natural leader out of this illiteracy wilderness. But as long as Jan Platt is president, we won't tackle anything controversial--like restoring literacy. Jan has been a Goody Two Shoes ever since I went to Hillsborough High School with her. She would never help me with a thing for women's rights when she was county commissioner because she did not want to appear as other than a collaborator Patient Griselda whom the voters of the patriarchy re-elected because they believe all women should be simpering Goody-Two-Shoes Griseldas.

Can't we impeach Jan and replace her with a fearless PBK swashbuckler? Jan won't protest. To do so would be unladylike. With this swashbuckler at the helm, we can attack the illiteracy and its cover-up tooth and nail. Think how exhilarating that exercise will be. It beats sitting around in PBK forums looking learned and solemn.

Or do you think literacy is too exotic a topic for PBK to sponsor? Would people stay away who feared they themselves are not too sharp on basic grammar and punctuation? I am thinking specifically of the physics and chemistry Ph.D.s, adepts in subjects I shrank back from in college.

After we sponsor a grammar and punctuation festival, we can go on to Elective Affinities and other frivolous subjects that I hear discussed in the Publix check-out line.


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