Author Archives: John

Yes, that useless pseudo-rule against ending sentences with a preposition is a useless pseudo-rule

It always has been, and it always will be. One of the many problems with arguing with strangers on the internet is that people insist upon things that they are not sure about. They argue, often heatedly and passionately, in … Continue reading

Posted in Grammar | Comments Off on Yes, that useless pseudo-rule against ending sentences with a preposition is a useless pseudo-rule

The infinitude of prime numbers—Euclid’s proof in my own words

Euclid is believed to be the first mathematician to prove that there are infinitely many prime numbers. Most of us learn only that Euclid established and codified the framework of two- and three-dimensional geometry, but he accomplished far more than … Continue reading

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Stupid, pedantic formalism fetishists are turning however into a conjunction that is replacing mid-sentence but

The more I hear people speak and read their writing in all kinds of situations, in real life or in TV/movies, in blog posts, essays, or informal discussion threads, in scripted dialogue or narration or while ad-libbing, the more often … Continue reading

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Summer miscellany

Typical Redditor: Reads seven Harry Potter books that are about love, friendship, family, innocence, loyalty, cooperation, the triumph of good over evil, the corrupting influence of power, and the good that will come to good-hearted people, and all he can … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Food, Life, TV | 2 Comments

The coins in the dark puzzle

In the New York Times’ Numberplay column yesterday, Gary Antonick presents an old but good logic puzzle: There are twenty-six coins lying on a table in a totally dark room. Ten are heads and sixteen are tails. In the dark … Continue reading

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Farkers are antisocial, maladjusted creeps

Yet again, immediately upon ignoring my better judgment and revisiting Fark.com one lazy afternoon, I was reminded why I avoid even reading its discussion threads for years at a time. By and large, its members seem to be oblivious, ignorant, … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Interwebs, Morans | 1 Comment

Seeing Brave in the theater

Shortly after it came out, Kathy and I went to see the Brave in the theater. It was a good movie and all, but one thing I’ll never forget is seeing a mother and two children walking back into the … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Life | Comments Off on Seeing Brave in the theater

Sentences I like

This is my second post about sentences I’ve encountered that struck me as very well-worded, poignant, impactful sentences that I would have been proud to write. (Here is the first post.) His teeth felt strange in his head, tiny tombstones … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Writing | 2 Comments

Weird Al wrote “Talk Soup” at the request of E! for their show Talk Soup

Holy crap, I never knew this before: Weird Al Yankovic wrote his 1993 song “Talk Soup” at the request of the E! television network to be used on their show Talk Soup. Well, to put it bluntly, they kind of … Continue reading

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Middle-schoolers are awful

My first week of middle school, I started realizing how awful middle-schoolers are as human beings in general. The boys, at least. This was mainly manifested in P.E. class, where I repeatedly saw 6th-grade boys push and shove and grab … Continue reading

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Scientific terms list for spell-checkers/spelling dictionaries

[UPDATE: This post is out of date. Please see my static page Scientific word list for spell-checkers/spelling dictionaries for up-to-date information about these scientific word lists. I mean, the links to the files custom_scientific_US.txt and custom_scientific_UK.txt below will take you … Continue reading

Posted in Career, Language, Science, Writing | 11 Comments

Google needs to add back Google Scholar as an option to click on in Google search results

As a scientific editor whose job is to improve the grammar, language, and style of manuscripts by non-native English speakers to the level of native speakers, I experience plenty of frustration every day. But the amount of frustration broken English … Continue reading

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Sub rosa

There is a fairly strange episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, from the last season, called “Sub Rosa”, that I only saw for the first time sometime in college, in which Beverly Crusher is basically seduced by this spirit … Continue reading

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That’s why God invented…

Have you ever thought about how silly most statements that begin with “That’s why God invented” are? It annoys me when people follow that phrase with something that is obviously man-made. “That’s why God invented helmets,” “That’s why God invented … Continue reading

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Disappointing Twitter accounts

Since Facebook is too boring and Reddit is too douchey and just all-around awful for anything other than funny pictures, I created a Twitter account earlier this year to follow some of the news and commentary of some people I … Continue reading

Posted in Interwebs | 2 Comments

Stop suggesting rewording or rearranging when word order is not the problem

A recent comment on my post about en dashes, in which the commenter offered one very helpful fix but otherwise tried and failed to improve the clarity of several phrases by rewriting the phrases altogether, is only the latest example … Continue reading

Posted in Blagging, Grammar, Language, Writing | Comments Off on Stop suggesting rewording or rearranging when word order is not the problem

Synapses, neural connections, stars, and atoms in the universe

Possibly because of the movie Amélie and possibly because people like to quote statistics or calculations without knowing what they mean, it’s fairly easy to find some absurd claims about the number of synapses or “neural connections” in the human … Continue reading

Posted in Science | 6 Comments

Nice Isaac Asimov reference in The Fall of Hyperion

I just finished The Fall of Hyperion, the excellent sequel to Dan Simmons’s wondrous, life-changing Hyperion. I really loved this tip o’ the hat to Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics on page 458 of the paperback version. I don’t … Continue reading

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Klaus has destroyed my enjoyment of The Vampire Diaries

Which is to say, the writers have. The main problem with writing about the CW show The Vampire Diaries is that it constitutes a public admission that I watch the show. But I might not be watching much longer. It’s … Continue reading

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The en dash vs. the hyphen: more examples for precise English usage

As I wrote in my first post about the en dash and as I explain more extensively in the hyphen vs. en dash section of my grammar page, the en dash can provide wonderful clarity where the hyphen cannot in … Continue reading

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