Book Recommendation: The Best Punctuation Book, Period. (2014) by June Casagrande

Most writers know how to use a comma, period, exclamation point, and quotation marks, but very few will know how to modify the use of the aforementioned punctuation marks for the multiple, different style formats without guidance. For example, is it correct to place a comma before or after and? The answer is: sometimes, sometimes not (it depends on the format one is writing within).

To mitigate confusion one could simply look up the rules online through a grammar website, but that would generally take far longer consulting a dogeared and highlighted copy of grammar book, since you would have to find a website with all the grammatical rules in question (often this would required hopping around from site to site) and then find a site (or sites) which contained the requisite style formats to be used.

To circumvent the aforementioned scenario and, at the same time, improve your grammar, one could do worse than to consult June Casagrande’s The Best Punctuation Book, Period. The book contains numerous examples of proper use (and abuse) of the comma, period, exclamation point, question mark, em dash, en dash and many more, and also features a lengthy, alphabetically-organized section, titled ‘Punctuation A To Z,’ which lists a word, phrase, or abbreviation, alongside its recommended variations across multiple, primary-style formats (such as: book style, news style, science style and academic style).

For general purposes, Casagrande’s punctuation compilation makes for excellent reference material. There is even utility in the book’s last-page synopsis-advert:

Great writing isn’t born, it’s built—sentence by sentence.

Hieroglyphic Ire and Monolithic Representation

The internet’s propensity for time-compression fosters a sense of palpable immediacy. One no longer wants things soon, or, quickly, but now. As such the desire for a suitably curt response is fed into a matrix of intensifying entropy. As information processing capabilities increase so does the corresponding speed at which the information being processed can be transmitted; as the speed of the information being transmitted increases so does the speed of the responses to said information. A brief example of the phenomenon of systemic informational entropy can be seen in generative language fragmentation; one breaks up the lengthy pronunciations and de-syllableizes the words to reach for the core meaning the better to more quickly to communicate. Thus, in place of the affirmational text, “Okay,” one substitutes merely, “k,” precisely because k is more economical and is also understood to be representative of okay, which is itself a colloquial shorthand for “alright,” “very good,” “very fine,” or “that is fine.”

This principal is, perhaps, pushed to its limits by online “meme” pushers. The obnoxious and inherently baleful variety include such examples as the right-libertarian’s Helicopter Pilot For Pinochet rigmarole (a typically half-ironic proclamation of the intent or desire to liquidate communists) as well as the more broadly established right-meme of Communists Aren’t Ppl. Then there is the ubiquitous “reee” image of a crab-man wailing, a encapsulation of “autism.” Then there is the ludicrously absurdist “Flying Spaghetti Monster” (which looks exactly like it sounds) oft employed by progressive atheists in a effort to mock the deity (or deities, depending upon your theological persuasion) of the Abrahamic faiths. Then there is the “tips fedora” gif or jpeg, a image of a fat, ungainly man with messy facial stubble smugly tipping a trilby (which isn’t a fedora but a different type of hat altogether, by the way) which is utilized as a counter-punch by the faithful to rebuke the irreligious or materialistic.

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Popular derisionary picture circulated by religious traditionalists, typically of a venomous and baneful variety
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The “tips fedora” man is actually wearing a tribly – which is similar to saying “tips cowboy hat” when one is actually wearing a bowler.

What all of these popular hieroglyphic representations of ire share in common is their propensity to reduce every single facet of, not just a individual’s, but of a entire coherent group’s attributes to one linear, mono-singular character trait. Therefore when one is posting the “tips fedora” man what one is really doing is saying that the targeted individual is both a member of a particular irreligious group and that he shares a projection of their imagined traits. It, of course, is very rarely a accurate representation, anymore than the Flying Spaghetti Monster accurately represents the views of the faithful.

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A priest, a rabbi and a imam are greeted by a peculiar surprise at the gates of heaven.

Of course, such memetic derisionary tactics are not meant to actually foster a dialogue they are merely meant to spit venom, merely a digital placeholder for “you’re a fool,” or, “fuck you, idiot.” Therefore a discussion of the hieroglyphics of ire with anyone who is not actually interested in fostering and reciprocating a dialogue is completely pointless because the purveyors thereof have ceased to retain any semblance of individuation and have instead subsumed themselves into a pure machinic process. They are not really the generative force behind such messages (given that popular memes are typically created by but a single individual and are then passed around and around until they fall into obscurity ) but rather only a envoy of another’s message. They are purely mouthpieces carrying around the word’s and ideas of others without any capacity to realize that their “social” signaling – in maximizing speed and recognition – utterly sacrifices any depth or breadth of communication. The response to any naysaying regarding such aforementioned hieroglyphs is always met with “its just a joke” but this is obviously not true, especially in any case where no one is laughing.

There is a pervasive assumption that because the majority of a user-base upon any given platform acts in a certain way (usually absurdly and crudely) that the whole of the purpose of the platform is just that. Therefore if people are curt and strangely sadistic on Twitter, that is the whole of the purpose of the platform. If people are coddling and emotionally fragile on Tumblr then that is the whole purpose of the platform. And so on and so forth. Of course this is absurd, indeed, patently false, and it is false precisely because the individuals who operate and utilize these platforms do not control them. They might declare their rights (and they always have ever so many – an obnoxious cornucopia) but they have no ability at all to enforce these “rights” they are largely at the mercy of the operators who own the monopolistic companies that control the sites (which is precisely why so many individuals are now clangorously raising their voices to declare them public utilities and have them regulated as such). So when someone tells another that X site is just for lulz (which is just a excuse for juvenescent and puerile behavior, a catharsis for mundane repression with which they cannot properly contend) that may well be their aim but it is not necessarily others. It is certainly not mine, as I much prefer conversation to digital, imagistic vomit.

The Respect Demand, Or, How To Refute Yourself Without Realizing It For The Sake of Appearing Non-Partisan

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Consider this most common of political responses.

“I don’t agree with your argument, but I respect your opinion.”

Scarcely has there been a more popular and simultaneously ridiculous statement made in the whole history of modern American discourse than this one. Yet, it is one that you, whoever and wherever you are, have doubtless heard a thousand times over. It is a tempering tactic utilized primarily by political Centrists (or those who are aping as such), and may also be heard a great deal by the acolytes of individuals who proclaim themselves to be “Freethinkers,” or, “Rationalists” (which usually do not use the word to denote the philosophical school). But it is wholly wrongheaded, given some contingencies, for if the opinion which one respects is inexorably tied to the argument that one disagrees with, and one does not respect the argument then by parsimony, one cannot, also, respect the opinion. If, however, the opinion is suitably disconnected from the aforementioned argument than the equation swiftly changes.

That is to say, if [the argument] is not equal [congruent] to R [your respect/admiration] but IS equal to O [the opinion informing A] and A = O then so R MUST also = A. And yet it fundamentally cannot because, though A = O, R cannot equal A, and thus one reaches a inescapable logical impasse. The equation is self-refuting.

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There are also other linguistic formulations very similar to the aforementioned such as, “I respect your opinion but I disagree.” This presents a slightly different problem and thus a slightly different solution but the core of the issue is still quite the same which is that in the effort to appear polite, one dons a mask of fawning adoration and pretends of the man or woman who stands in starkest opposition before him as if they were some esteemed colleague when in reality nothing of the sort could possibly be any further from the truth. If one disagree wholeheartedly with a position then one clearly has no respect for it and if that same position informs a suitably portion of the personality of the person who is holding it then that same person is also, not worthy of respect. What people mean, if they were being truly honest with themselves, is that they do not respect opinions they disagree with but rather that they respect the rights of others to have them. This too is a vexed question, for “rights” in any objective sense do not exist. All rights are merely those with the ability to crush you restraining themselves and their like cohorts from doing so. Accepting this, one should have no respect for rights, either, but rather, one should have respect for the powerful whom are cognizantly self restrained.