John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I am not making this up, you know

Item: Wikipedia, which discovered last week that there might be some value in editing articles before publication, is now going to indicate which articles you can believe with a color-coded background. (Hint: orange, bad; white, good.)

Item: The debate over health care reform is taking on a refreshing candor. Yesterday, David Sheets out in St. Louis put up a link on Facebook to FactCheck.org’s article “Twenty-six lies about H.R. 3200."* Among the Facebookers responding was one Dan Devine, who said, in part:

There are many good ideas to reform the current structure, which has worked well enough for me. I've worked hard to get the coverage I have and don’t want risk losing it. The current package seems to be a way to provide free health care for the baby boomers as they age; sorry, I’m not interested in helping them.

If you, dear reader, are like me, a person in your fifties, particularly if you are also someone whose presence is no longer required in the workplace, I plan to take Mr. Devine’s hint and see whether I can contract with the Oriental Trading Company or Archie McPhee or some similar company to manufacture buttons for us reading:

DO NOT RESUSCITATE

You know it’s the right thing to do.

Item: If you join me in the categories mentioned in the previous item, there’s a word for it, to which we are alerted by the ever-alert Fritinancy: mancession. A mancession is a recession in which unemployment hits men disproportionately more than women.

Item: I will be back in the classroom at Loyola tomorrow morning at 9:25, where seventeen vulnerable undergraduates are signed up to be introduced to the occult secrets of copy editing. Keep them in your thoughts.



*FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and similar operations are not among those sites for people who already know what they think before they hear any specifics. They hark back to the outdated principles in print journalism — you remember newspapers — of attempting to publish verifiable, factual material.

4 comments:

  1. This recession has had the odd effect of making perhaps millions of laid-off Americans wish they were older so they qualified for Social Security and Medicare. Maybe we need buttons that say, MAKE ME 65. They would be worn by people both younger and older than 65. Dan Devine's selfish comments are unsurprising; we're often a selfish nation. What he doesn't realize is that reform would make him more likely to keep the insurance he has. As things stand, he's a pink slip removed from ruin.

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  2. Fifties? I can only hope to live that long on "insurance" that would bankrupt me if my doctor actually diagnosed anything during a checkup.

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  3. This week's New Yorker has a cartoon showing a man slumped over his office desk. A sign on the desk instructs, DO NOT RESUSCITATE.

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  4. Does the annual rite of School Opens mean that you'll have less time to carp about middle-aged white males and all the damage they do? How about white females of various ages? Are they exempt from censure because they are females? Or are they equally guilty because,while female, they are also white? What's a liberal to do - caught between alleged sexism on one hand, and missing opportunities to point out peevers on the other? (I'm glad you will have a direct deposit again: no peeves about that, even if a white male in payroll makes the deposit.)

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