Lee Zion is an editor of the Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer and in his final memo to his reporter colleagues before taking up a new job, he gives them this useful bit of advice: Keep your sentences to less than thirty words.
With the appearance of software that can detect plagiarism, those who are too lazy to compose their own prose have been forced to take steps to try and avoid detection. Thus the word ‘rogeting’ has entered the lexicon, coined by a lecturer in business information systems who found strange phrases in his students’ essays.
Yes, this series actually is coming to an end! But not before I add some final thoughts.
Insults usually have no basis in fact. In fact, the more spectacular insults may have absolutely no contact with even reality. They are meant to inflame passions by ascribing qualities to the other person that, looked at dispassionately, may not even be derogatory. [Read more...]
In my private discussions with other bloggers about the issue of whether one should ban offensive commenters, the point was made that even if I could live with such comments, other readers may find them so offensive that they leave and never return because they think that by allowing them, the host is condoning such views. The suggestion was also made that men seem to be more comfortable with creating and being in a heated atmosphere and that if the blog host is not careful, the blog may become an exclusively male preserve. This is a serious argument that merits serious consideration. What is the blog host’s responsibility to provide a congenial environment to all who choose to visit? [Read more...]
I participated in an interesting discussion recently with some other bloggers about what to do with commenters who seem to be either trolling to create mischief or being outright abusive and insulting to either the blog host or to other commenters or anyone else. Should such people be banned? [Read more...]
Once in a while, a furious debate flares up about the proper tone that people should use in exchanges with one another on the internet. This occurs within the skeptic community as well, the most prominent division being between the groups now referred to as accommodationists and the new atheists. The most common charge laid against the latter is that they sometimes use intemperate language in criticizing both religion and the accommodationist position. [Read more...]
Scholarly articles tend to follow pretty much a four-step formula.
In order to make the case that their research is important, [Read more...]
In a comment to a previous post Jared A suggested that I would benefit, especially in my posts on religion and atheism, from using words more precisely in order to make my points clearer. In particular, he said that the word ‘myths’ usually refer to sacred narratives, while ‘scriptures’ refer to sacred writings. The beliefs in the scriptures, if codified, are referred to as ‘doctrine’ and [Read more...]
Some time ago I listed some phrases that had become such clichés that whenever I heard them, the annoyance they produced was sufficient to distract me from what the speaker was saying. Readers then added their own peeves.
Here is the current list of the phrases I hate and [Read more...]
What with one thing and another, I forgot to mark the sixth anniversary of this blog, which began on January 26, 2005. I never imagined that it would continue for this long. I estimate that I have written close to two million words. For most of the time, the blog consisted of an op-ed length essay every weekday but last year I started adding some short posts as well.
I am now undertaking a new book project that will take up some time so I may have to cut back on the essays a bit. These take more time because they consist of reasoned arguments that have to be thought through and worded more carefully. But at the same time, those essays are the ones I like the most because I also learn from researching and writing them, so they will not disappear.
Thanks to all the people out there who read and comment.