The case of the cat and the bicycle

A good editor is like a good detective. Both take note of the obvious, and both notice the things that slip by others.

Here are two examples to think about.

One

Some guy tweeted this the other day:

Two

The same guy put a bicycle in the header of his new Twitter page.

Go ahead. Take a look. Be curious.

Why a cat and why a bicycle?

A casual reader or distracted digital passerby might not ask why. It’s just a cat and just a bicycle. An experienced editor, like a good detective, wonders about the choices and the writer’s or the suspect’s reasoning.

Are the cat and the bicycle just eye-catching visuals or is there some deeper significance? Were the selections deliberate or careless?

Why those images?

In this case, a reader familiar with the writer’s work might recall the fate and symbolism of a yellow-eyed cat. The reader might also begin to wonder if the bicycle foreshadows something not yet revealed.

A skilled detective might begin to poke around.

What do you think?

B.J.

When message trumps spelling and grammar

Much human written communication is more clear if the spelling, grammar and punctuation are good.

Having said that, I will be embarrassed if you find a typo or other mistake in this post. If you do, feel free to mock me. I write and edit for a living, after all, so you should expect a certain level of quality in this space.

However, please think before you belittle anyone else over such details.

Sometimes spelling and grammar are simply not important.

Twitter users like to pick on poor spellers. Those pickers annoy me to no end, regardless of the pickee*. Their reactions to a Trump tweet a few weeks ago were typical.

Here’s one example.

Brian Klaas is a journalist, by the way. You can find my response here if you’re interested, but here’s a summary:

I don’t care that Trump can’t spell or punch letters on his phone without making a mistake. Millions of people are poor spellers. It doesn’t matter. The message matters.

Mocking a person over spelling in social media marks you as a snob.

For another example of what matters, take a look at Inmate Blogger, which I came across just the other day. Read a few of the posts by incarcerated men and women.

Some are polished and punctuated to near perfection.

Some are profoundly eloquent in their rawness.


 

* pickee: One who is picked upon. If it is not in your dictionary, it should be.

Columnist’s phony ‘compromise offer’ to the politically correct

Accusing the Denver Post of pandering by proxy to the ignorant, intolerant right end of the political spectrum by publishing pieces like this one by Jon Caldara might be a bit of a stretch, but what the hell.

As a writer and editor myself, I would demand better of a person who identifies as “a Denver Post columnist.” I would expect a columnist to have a better understanding of the importance of words than Caldara exhibited in his “compromise offer.”

No one is “mandated” to use what he derisively calls “politically correct terms.” In our still free society, we can learn to respect others’ wishes regarding how they prefer to be identified, or we can be like Caldara: Insult them as hyper-sensitive snowflakes and whine like a spoiled child about how many syllables they expect us to use.

I know Caldara didn’t really intend to reach out to anyone with his phony compromise. Some years ago I edited nationally syndicated opinion columns, so I’m familiar with some of their devices. He used “sincere” when he meant “insincere.” He proposed to make a deal with the imaginary “PC” monolith that the right so loves to hold up to ridicule. He tried to use his son, his “Downs kid,” to gain some sympathy and score anti-PC points.

Jon, here’s the same question I asked you on Twitter: How many syllables in “libertarian-conservative”? Probably way too many by your standards, but if that’s how you identify, stick with it.

Dear Denver Post, I think I’ll go with “pandering by proxy” after all. You can do better.