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Language, One More Time

Prescriptivists are often seen as obsessives with too much time on their hands. But we are all prescriptivists, rule enforcers, to an extent. These are not grand, all-out battles that we fight, however. “Skirmish” might be a better word. I will give you “on accident” with as much grace as I can muster but will fight to the death to preserve the downfall/pitfall/drawback distinction. I will join in the derisive laughter about split infinitives, but will get exceedingly shirty if you misuse the semicolon and the conjunctive adverb.

On Accident

So the fruit of my loins protests that he broke the goldfish bowl "ON accident," and I blanch, or pretend to. Does Dan’s new wording mean that something is going somewhere in a hand basket? I don’t think so, and that exposes our assumption that language change is always for the worse. Why is this so?

Simple Mac Troubleshooting

Macs have a reputation for being user-friendly and easy-to-use personal computers. And, generally speaking, they live up to that reputation. Most Macs perform flawlessly for years. However, every Mac occasionally misbehaves. You might know what we're talking about. Sometimes programs on your Mac won't launch, wireless hotspots won't appear in the menu bar, or applications keep crashing. Things just act wacky.

Whose Language Is It, Anyway?

A friend sends along an item from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Reign in those vocal chords.” Uh oh. The English teacher in me feels at once very annoyed and very tired. And it is as bad as I expected. Turns out, the Oxford University Press, in regard to its dictionaries, has decided to accept as correct spellings which were once deemed incorrect in certain stock phrases.

Cape Cod

I married well. I don't mean just the Longsuffering Diana, that pearl beyond price. I mean the whole Dinsmore clan that she brought to the marriage with her. A wonderful dowry they have proven to be, generous and witty and convivial. I have known them for more than thirty years now and, like a good vintage, they only improve with age. By any measure I lucked out big time.

Flannel Sheets

Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight

Elizabeth Akers Allen

The World’s Greatest Granddaughters came to town this weekend. Their coming is always a glorious upheaval along the lines of a violent meteorological event.

The older will jab the doorbell in staccato fashion, an eldritch grin on her face. Then their mother, our daughter, will give them the go-ahead. This breaching of the outer defenses signals the mad dash and ululating cries—POPPYPOPPYPOPPYNANANANAPOPPYNANAPOPPYNANA!

10 Things to Love About Mac OS X Leopard

It's been a couple months since Apple released its new operating system Mac OS X Leopard, and that's more than enough time to give it a nice once over. (See our introduction to Leopard and some of our favorite Leopard features.) The first thing you'll notice is the new look. Not just the new dock or the new login screen, but also the folders and the crisper, sleeker look of icons and folders.

Celebs Sounding Off... Sort of.

A few weeks ago, a friend forwarded to me, with tacit endorsement, an essay by Jay Leno that a friend had found on the Internet. I found the jingoistic ideas expressed in it repugnant, but that’s not the point (after all, I disagree with most of what is floating around on the Internet). No, the point is that Jay Leno—with the exception of one line of his that got lifted from an old Tonight Show monologue—had nothing at all to do with it.

Block Internet Ads with Safari AdBlock

It seems we here at Macinstruct discuss blocking pesky Internet ads at least every couple months. There's a good reason for our ad-blocking articles: Advertising is more distracting and pervasive than ever before. Flashing banners and animated graphics can prevent you from focusing on what's really important -- the content.

Phantasmagoria: After the Sandia Report

Back around 1989, Gentle Readers, when public education was the topic du jour, a research team under the auspices of the Sandia Corporation, here in Albuquerque, was charged with taking an honest look at our public schools in order to see if they were really as bad as everyone seemed to think. A preliminary report was issued (leaked?) in early 1991 and it said, to some people’s relief and to others’ outrage, that the public school system was doing a pretty darned good job, all things considered. Clearly that would not do.

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