AC-CENT-TCHU-ATE THE PUNCTUATE

Near the end of my previous post, On Taking License With Language: Using Links To Explain Jokes, Licenses, and Pun Fun I made a play on words with the phrase: [1]

Good Will, Hunting.

The playful part is the comma, for without it there be no play, no ploy.

This example illustrates that not only should you AC-CENT-TCHU-ATE THE POSITIVE, you can also add spice to your blog by the clever use of punctuation.

For example, my insertion of a comma goes against one of the suggestions that can be found in the lyrics to the song: “Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”

I messed around by inserting a comma between two words. Sorry about that, Mr. In Between. Read ’em and weep. [2]

I made another artful use of punctuation in the post On Steve O’Grady’s post: “Where to Innovate? Let Others Make the Call”, in which I made mention of what is believed to be the longest sentence ever written, and the shortest meaningful letter ever written, a letter consisting of the punctuation mark “!” on a page with a company’s letterhead!

Here I ask you to pause so I can share with you an amazing phenomenon I just discovered, an aspect or blogging I haven’t seen before.

I noticed several days ago that some had viewed the post as a result of a search for the longest sentence, yet I was unable to duplicate the search string they used. I then stopped writing this post to call home and say good night to my wife. When I returned to resume writing the post I noticed someone had just reached my blog via a search for “longest sentence les miserables!” I then updated the Trivia page in which I track assorted trivia, among them the search strings that have led people to my blog because one of my posts was returned among the first few found by Google. In this case, I ranked #4.

I think this is a unique aspect of blogging. As you write a post in real time you may ask yourself a question only to get the answer to it with minutes because someone has just read one of your earlier posts! [3]

By the way, these last few minutes have provided yet another demonstration of the beauty of WordPress. In order to recover that search string, I saved my draft, went to the Dashboard, and then Blog Stats to get the exact text of the search string, which I then copied, concluding by returning to my post and pasting in the search string.

I did all this in a few seconds without ever leaving Firefox. WordPress is the best example I have yet seen of a browser-based app.

You can go for hours without having to leave Firefox, which, like WordPress, is open-source.

This is one of the reasons open-source is speeding ever fast right at Microsoft’s heart.

For as software moves to the web, the underlying operating system on your machine will become less and less relevant.

What more do you need once you have Ubuntu and can use it to run Firefox, which gives you access to Google, WordPress, gmail, yahoo mail, as well as technorati, deli.cio.us, twitter, and all the other great social networking stuff?

Add a dash of Google docs and away you go.

Need backup? Go to s3.

Why in the hell will you need anything from MS!? [4]

Beats me, and I expect it will beat them, too!

Having dispensed with the observation that open-source has got Microsoft’s number, as can be seen by the frequent posts on slashdot, and is going to cause ever-increasing pain to Microsoft’s colon, thus putting the end to the “Microsoft Period,” let us return to punctuation, with a dash of zest as we do so, answering questions; marking our progress as we sally forth, perhaps with a few quotations that you may wish to bookmark; as we try to limit exclamations as I make my point, as a mark of progress; dealing with a matter that, while not grave, will require the use of HTML to accent words of special intererest; and also trying to limit parenthetical remarks; with each sentence just a comma, or ellipsis in this ever-growing sentence that may become one with no equal, even though I am writing it without the hope of making a single $, as I know that each observation is just a punctuation mark in this long chase, one which I hope will end with the same happiness as does a rabbit when he finds a tasty caret. [5]

By the way, I came across a great post on punctuation before I wrote the previous paragraph. It was written the folks at the Bank of America, which happens to be my bank, and I noted therein that the symbol they know best — $ — is not a punctuation mark. The BofA post also makes mention of National Punctuation Day, an event celebrated near the end of September, so this post is this a belated part of its celebration.

I also recommend a great book on our wonderful language: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss.

The title is yet another example of the importance of what many deem to be the lowly comma:

The panda “eats shoots and leaves.”

An armed robber who works while dining thus “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.”

Notes:

1. This the second consecutive post that begins by quoting the end of the previous post, thus chaining one post after another. I could go on, but will not do so, IBM has a policy of not allowing the creation of chain letters, or their distribution.

2. See Read ‘Em and Weep: A Bedside Poker Companion and Meat Loaf: Read ’em & Weep.

3. I try to limit the use of “!” but went overboard in this post for the obvious reason.

4. This is an instance of the interrobang. My mom liked it so much that she had a local shop make a rubber stamp with it.

5. This sentence is almost two hundred words long, yet still much shorter than Mr. Hugo’s, who remains the the Victor in the race to write the longest sentence. Way to go, Hugo!

Then again, I can use what we programmers call a “wrapper” to beat Hugo into submission.

“Here is what is believed to be the longest sentence yet written, though this sentence itself is even longer, and is thus parodoxical: The son of a father to whom history will accord certain attenuating circumstances … and if he had had the sentiment of what is great to the same degree as the feeling for what is useful.”

Read it and weep. There you GO, Mr. HuGO. It’s time to start coding. But don’t forget that I know it is considered harmful if you try to GO TO attempt to write an even longer sentence.

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