Monday, August 10, 2009

Rules. We Need Them.

Exhibit A: Use of Spaces.
Should we place one space or two between sentences? I was taught to use two, but that was centuries ago in a high school typing class that did substantial harm to my love of learning and showed me that typewriters are incredibly annoying: hot, noisy, inefficient, insatiable for tedious maintenance, destructive of human potential.

The correct answer -- the one for our present-day world, the one in which all the typewriters are moldering in a landfill, where they belong -- is one. Take it from grammar and usage overlord Bryan A. Garner:

Use even forward-spacing in your documents: one space between words and one space after punctuation marks (including colons and periods).

The custom during the reign of the typewriter was to insert two spaces between sentences and after colons. The reason was that letters on a typewriter are monospaced… Continue the custom only if you use a typewriter or the Courier font.
I think it goes without saying that no sane, good-hearted person uses the Courier font, and typewriters should only be used to demonstrate to young people how terrible and difficult our lives were in comparison to the ease and convenience of theirs.

Typewriters. Is there a spirit of anything they didn't come close to breaking before they were finally put down? No.

Exhibit B: Use of Roads by Runners, Cyclists, and Drivers.
This one is more subtle -- arguably too subtle for the vast majority of Americans, certainly too subtle for those who most need its corrective embrace. If you are, by chance, too fucking stupid to handle this rule, please take an extra dose of whatever drug you've talked your doctor into prescribing and tune in as carefully as you can.

In the United States, on any road that is a legal thoroughfare for cars, observe the following:
  • Drivers (of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and all other motorized vehicles): stay to the right-hand side of the road.
  • Cyclists: stay to the right-hand side of the road, within the bike lane if available.
  • Runners (i.e., all pedestrians): stay to the left-hand side of the road, or, if available, on the sidewalk.
Skeptical? Good for you! Take it from Coach Joe English, who conducted honest-to-goodness research on the matter.

Be safe out there, and follow the rules.

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