In a U.S. News & World Report column on what is politically correct, an item says, "The Eddie Bauer catalog offers pitch-saturated kindling wood 'felled by lightening or other natural causes.'"
Here is copy to warm a tree-hugger's heart .'.. at first bark. But I find a major splinter. If kindling wood is "any sticks or scraps of dry wood suitable for starting a fire"- and dictionaries agree it is just that - how does it get "felled by lightning?" I don't know about you, but this tenderfoot has yet to spot his first kindling-wood tree. One envisions a rain-drenched forest ranger, shouting into his radio mike, "All right, we just had a bolt hit that big kindlingswood tree on Bearcat Ridge. Man, there's kindling all over the place! Patch me through to Eddie Bauer!"
Careful writers run routine reality checks on their work to confinn that all is progressing as it should. This whimsical item is an example of wording that, like a two-year-old momentarily unguarded, suddenly wanders away. Be ye ever watchful.
* The initialism PC is being published more and more nowadays, albeit only one 1990s dictionary defines it. Just as a refresher, here is the phrase according to the Random House Webster's College D. -"politically correct, adj. Marked by or adhering to a typically progressive ortho| doxy on issues involving esp. race, gender, sexual affinity, or ecology. Abbr.: PC, P.C. - political correctness n."
Users of PC unglossed must recall the letters also can signify personal computer, Peace Corps, printed circuit, postcard, percent, and protective custody.
. Is the editor as proofreader redundant? Probably not so long as citations like the following continue to eruct. Test your PC (personal capacity) by finding the soft spots in 1 ) the lead of a book review printed in a journal of Wall Street, and 2) the close of a Reuters dispatch:
1. "The sad facts of Edgar Allen Poe's life seem unremarkable (in terms of tragedy or even weirdness) when compared with the lives routinely paraded before us by Oprah or Phil or Sally Jesse."
The sad fact here is the arrogance of the writer, who couldn't be bothered to look and learn that Poe spelled it Allan, not Allen. The same savoir-faire dissed the reader with Sally Jessy spelled Sally Jesse.
2. "He said the coelacanth was believed to have been extinct for about 100 years, until one was caught off the South African Coast in 1938."
The so-called living fossil, thought to be the forerunner of land vertebrates, presumably went off the scope at the close of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. But, hey, who's counting? …