Thursday, October 02, 2014. Last Update: Thu 6:50 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Dangling by a Thread

Misplaced modifiers can confuse and amuse

“After beating Jankovic in 60 minutes in the semifinals, Stosur’s parents and two brothers flew in from Australia to watch... More

On Your Mark

Trademarks that no one treats as such

When you have a cold, you use a lot of kleenex. When you cut yourself, you put on a band-aid.... More

Proof

Is ‘proved’ the same as ‘proven’?

A basic tenet of the court system, going back to British common law, is that a suspect is “innocent until... More

How Big Is Big?

When numbers are meaningless

It’s that time of year again. Wildfires are starting to spread, well, like wildfires. And meaningless measurements of the size... More

Soaking It Up

There’s more than one way to blot a spill

The aftermath of the Gulf oil spill is giving many readers an education in a booming industry that rarely comes... More

Hyphen Tension

A ‘hyphen’ is not a ‘dash’

Precision is necessary in a lot of things in journalism—facts, spelling of names, etc. It’s also vital in Web addresses—tell... More

Stopping the Flow

‘Staunch’ or ‘stanch’?

Frantic efforts are underway to shut off the oil flowing from a well in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone agrees... More

You Talkin’ ‘Bout Me?

Avoiding reader ‘indirection’

“A 28-year-old man who died early Saturday in a crash was remembered Sunday as an outgoing, optimistic fellow who had... More

Out the Wazoo

Misspellings of ‘yin and yang’ abound

Here’s how language changes: Take a term rendered in a foreign language, let’s say “yin and yang.” Have people start... More

Ex-Sited

An AP style change shakes things up

The Associated Press shook up the world last week. The World Wide Web, that is. The AP, whose stylebook is... More

Beset by Acrimony

Words that no one uses outside journalism

Time for a rant. Journalists seem to love certain words that no one actually uses in normal conversations. Have you... More

Portion Control

The many variations of ‘proportion’

How do I “proportion” thee? Let me count the ways: • “Checks dated by April 30 will receive a special,... More

Exclusive

When a list doesn’t include everything

The newspaper reported a burglary, and said that “four items were taken, including a DVD player, a laptop computer, an... More

Probably Likely

A change that likely needs making

Now that the health care bill is through Congress, President Obama “likely” will sign it soon, opponents “likely” will challenge... More

Your Deal

Confusing a ‘card shark’ with a ‘cardsharp’

You’re in Vegas, putting your poker skills to the test. As you are raking in the chips from a particularly... More

No Lectures, Please

‘Podium’ and ‘lectern’ are often interchangeable

There’s an old joke among journalists—OK, mostly among copy editors—about a passage that says that the speaker “stood behind the... More

Incomplete

Why use “completely”?

“Completely” is probably one of the most completely superfluous words in the English language. Too often, it’s used to emphasize... More

Exit Strategies

Why are there so many ways to leave?

The Eskimos may—or may not—have many words for “snow,” but we English speakers certainly have a number of words to... More

Special Issue

A problematic discussion

Gene Foreman has an issue with “issues.” “I see the misuse of ‘issues’ as a synonym for ‘problems’ as part... More

Meta Data

Self, meet yourself

Lady Gaga and Elton John, two of the music world’s most self-referential and self-aware performers, sang a duet at the... More

Why one editor won’t run any more op-eds by the Heritage Foundation’s top economist - A reply to Paul Krugman on state taxes and job growth made some incorrect claims

This is how Tehran Bureau covers Iran - Its reporting model, using undercover journalists and distant editors, is one way to cover closed societies

Alessandra Stanley’s troubling history of error - Scrutiny alone isn’t enough to solve the problem

Why Bill Simmons might leave ESPN - Other outlets would jump at the chance to gain his following

Simon & Schuster should come clean about discredited Monroe/DiMaggio book - C. David Heymann’s Joe and Marilyn is full of highly dubious information—just like many of his previous books


The Recollectors

Remembering parents lost to AIDS

Swedish scientists sneak Dylan quotes into articles (The Guardian)

Whoever nets the most before retirement wins a free lunch

Mag for dog haters is a hit in Germany (WSJ)

Poop and Pooches. That is all

A data viz reading list (Susan McGregor)

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