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When I am Copyeditor General ...: November 2007


Good URLs will go to heaven (and I'll stop with the puns)

You know when you meet someone for the first time and you realize it was just meant to be?

That was the mood at CGHQ today with the discovery of Good URL Bad URL, the creation of self-confessed nerd and URL-aholic Aaron Goldman. He knows how URLs should be presented for maximum readability and comprehension, so it drives him nuts when he sees addresses that are broken up, illegible or just way too long.

He takes pictures! He points out what needs fixing! He's a little obsessed! And he's okay with that!

Copyeditor General's ruling: Call off the search for the Associate Copyeditor General in charge of URLs. We have a winner. Everyone else, go read the list of best practices on and apply what you learn. Let the poor guy take a break.


True beauty will be in proofread copy

Despite my best efforts to be a girly girl, I'm not. And when I go to Sephora, the beauty-supply-and-makeup mecca, I feel as though I need to keep my head down and avoid eye contact with the flawless salesclerks, lest they figure out that I don't know my glossing cream from my brightening serum and laugh me out of the store.

So it was with some relief that I noticed this sign while perusing the beauty tools:

"Unique, pinch-free, compact design makes this pinch-free compact design for go anywhere tool."

Yes, ladies, you're very pretty. But you might want to read your display labels before you put them out.

Copyeditor General's ruling: Small, pointless victories are beautiful in the eye of the beholder.


Facebook users will not fear basic sentences

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the status update, the editable sentence that gives a quick snapshot into each person's life at the moment they wrote it. The functionality is set up as $name + "is" + $message, with the mandatory verb forcing a particular sentence structure:

Carolyn is watching leaves fall.
Carolyn is currently catupon.
Carolyn is asking you to vote parmo.

I enjoy the challenge of fitting my spontaneous updates into a predetermined grammatical form. But apparently not everyone does. As reported on the allfacebook blog and covered in news outlets from Wired to Salon to the UK's Daily Telegraph site, Facebook is giving in to user pressure and removing the verb from status updates.

What's the big deal, you wonder? Doesn't this allow for greater creativity, enabling users to say how they really feel instead of being straitjacketed into the third-person singular of to be?

You'd think so. But given that the FB crowd already struggles with the simple "is" format--ignoring it altogether and writing things like "John is I hate school" and "Sarah is got a new job!!!" and "Lucy is can't get TiVo to work"--I don't hold out much hope that this new flexibility will improve their language use.

The discovery of a Facebook group called "I die a little bit inside when I see grammatically incorrect status updates" did assauge my fear that no-one else had noticed.

What bugs me most is that the Facebook group pushing for the change, "Campaign to lose the mandatory 'is' from status updates," has 64,000 members. A population equivalent to the City of Portland, Maine, thinks it's just too difficult to start a sentence with "(username) is" and would rather complain about it than figure out how to work with it.

Copyeditor General's ruling: CG is going to continue using the verb to be in status updates.


Fortune cookies will not need to be told twice

Oh, come on! Is someone trying to tell me something?

Copyeditor General's ruling: Actually, blind stubbornness seems to be a prerequisite for holders of political office, doesn't it?


Fortune cookies will not pass judgement

Copyeditor General's ruling: Oh, you want nonverbal cues, pal? I'll give you nonverbal cues, all right!


Steven Seagal will keep his juices to himself

Has this ever happened to you: it's a sweltering summer day, you're feeling a little tired, and you think--perhaps not for the first time--why hasn't the star of Marked for Death, Half Past Dead and Today You Die created a delicious energy drink?

Well, wake up and smell the goji berries, baby, because I bring good news: he has.

(You can't see it on the still image, but the lines around the logo above actually throw out pulsating bolts of light energy. It's electrifying.)

According to the website for Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt Energy Drink, the neck-punching actor spent years traveling Asia to collect the ingredients for his all-natural beverage.

Unfortunately, someone spent considerably less time creating the website.

I could analyze everything that's hilariously wrong (or wrongly hilarious) about the site, but I'm a busy person. Instead, I'll just point out (and laugh at) the best parts. I invite you to laugh along.

Steven Seagal now can add “Energy Drink formulator” to a list of talents that already includes veteran actor, singer/songwriter, guitarist, and Aikido black belt [...] His album, Songs from the Crystal Cave, released earlier this year, has already hit the pop charts in Europe."

"...hit the pop charts in Europe." Did real well, too.

... Steven Seagal is a popular action movie hero ...

(which is why 11 of his last 17 movies were self-produced and made for video).

... whose films combine spiritual concepts and social/environmental consciousness with high-voltage violence."

He saves cleans up toxic waste *and* kicks a guy in the throat!

What else? Ah yes:

Should I mention the apostrophic nightmare? Moving on:

Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt is an energy drink as unique as the man who created it. It has pioneered the way for nutritional, all natural energy drinks and emerged as many “firsts” ...

Can a single item "emerge as many firsts"? What does that look like? And does it hurt?

The first "first" is that the drink contains the Tibetan goji berry. Little-known fact: this is another name for the wolfberry, which is apparently a common ingredient in energy brews. Here's one, though the name is a little off-putting. But the name of this one actually means wolfberry, which should have been a bit of a giveaway.

It is also one of the very few energy drinks to be offered in multiple flavors ...

Yeah, it's always a good idea to check before making a statement like that. I did. And hey, looky!

XS Gear drinks comes in three flavors, just like Stevie's brew.

Zipfizz also has a trio of taste sensations.

Naked Juice has kicked it up a notch (but probably not using nunchaku).

My favorite is Odwalla; I'm currently celebrating the seasonal return of their Super Protein Pumpkin drink, which tastes like punkin pie and is only available through the holiday season (after which the stupid government takes it away).

But I digress. Suffice it to say that a quick Goog for natural energy drink flavors throws doubt on "first-emergence" claims.

The name "Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt" was an inevitable afterthought?

Okay, kids, as we're online, let's check

af·ter·thought /ˈæftərˌθɔt, ˈɑf-/ –noun
1. a later or second thought; reconsideration.
2. reflection after an act; an appropriate explanation, answer, expedient, or the like, conceived of too late for the occasion.
3. something added, as a part or feature, that was not included in the original plan or design: The vestry was added to the church as an afterthought.

Or, as it were, the name was hastily appended to the energy drink as an afterthought. Inevitable, really.

When Steven Seagal finished creating a drink that holds untold natural power, there was only one equivalent in nature - The Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt.

Let me make sure I understand: Seagal created a potentially supernatural drink that has only one equivalent in nature: the drink he created. Wow, maybe the man is a god ...

Both mysterious and powerful, it's a symbol of the untold energy the earth has to offer - Such is Steven Seagals Lightning Bolt energy drink.

It's mysterious! It's powerful! Its mystery is exceeded only by its power!

Its name was an inevitable afterthought!

Oh, and I love that the "Latest news" has been updated twice: in October 2005 and January 2006. Overdue for another announcement, aren't we?

Copyeditor General's ruling: While the audience for this beverage undoubtedly expresses a preference for head-butting action and awesome pecs over careful grammar and factual accuracy, and while Steven Seagal could probably turn CGHQ into a pile of smoking rubble in seconds, websites promoting products intended for human ingestion should project a strong, consistent tone of authority and credibility.

Oh, and if some big dude with a ponytail comes around asking questions, you haven't seen me.


The thought will not be what counts

There's a reason some greetings cards end up in the discount bin. Here's one, supplied by Al, owner of the blog Stuff to Think About:

Gah! All I know is that if any child of mine sent me this awful missive, and didn't do so with a generous side-salad of irony, they'd be written out of the will.

(Wait--I don't have a will. Joke's on them! Ha!)

Thanks, Al, for recognizing, correctly, that this would cause me to shriek in horror. You'd get a Deputy of the Week t-shirt if such a thing existed.

And here's a little something The Boy and I found in Building 19 1/17 a few years back. We got two for a buck, if memory serves.

(The caption under the photo on the notepaper reads Treasure of memory.) I know, one shouldn't mock; this one was made in Korea, so theoretically gets a pass. Not from me, though.

Copyeditor General's ruling: If I ever find Hallmark doing stuff like this, there's gonna be trouble.
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