Monday, November 15, 2004

Capital Idea

Mr. Spellcheck and I have an uneasy relationship. I compose my blog posts in Microsoft Word, so I do need him, but he can be a petty critic. Lord knows I could use an editor, but it ain’t gonna be him (spellcheck that!). Actually, we get along much better when I write than when I edit. If space is really limited, I resort to what I call the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) method of editing, wherein I remove all vowels and the reader is left to decipher what looks like a personalized license plate.

After years of working together, he still objects to my use of the passive voice. Occasionally, just to humor him, I let him convert a sentence or two to the active voice, often to hilarious effect. This past week when I was feeling poorly, I was tempted to give up the fight and let him have his way with an extra long post, wondering if readers would notice any difference from my usual gobbledy-gook (a term with which apparently he is not familiar). Then I figured, let him get his own blog. Everyone’s doing it. We’ll see how many errors he makes.

One thing I don’t understand is his random use of capitalization. He likes to capitalize Internet and Web as if they are deities instead of commonplace tools accessible to nearly every home and workplace. Well, I think I have a better idea. Since my newly installed Sitemeter tells me I have a half-dozen readers and yet have received nary a complaint, I am going to spend the capital from my mandate to capitalize or not capitalize as I please.

Some very important things are capitalized, like Mr. and Mrs. Then why not Marriage, Family, Friends, Freedom, Democracy, Military, Soldiers, Troops? I would add Politics and Conservatism to that list, plus Reading, Writing, Music, Laughter, Work, Faith, Love. There is nothing more necessary to Life than Food and Water. At a minimum, Food should be capitalized in order of difficulty of preparation: Souffle, Mousse, Turkey Dinner With All The Trimmings.

I note that Tivo and its cable equivalent, DVR, are rightly capitalized. TV is capitalized, but what about Widescreen TV? Remote Control? Video Games? Recliner? Laptop Computer? Camera Phone? Mr. Spellcheck must lead a very ascetic life. He would capitalize none of these.

I don’t think he should be in charge of deciding what’s culturally important. I would leave e. e. cummings where he belongs but send him some company: michael moore, tina brown, e. j. dionne, paul krugman, maureen dowd, al hunt and judy woodruff. If it were up to Mr. S, the new york times, msnbc, cbs, abc, dan rather, mark halperin, paul begala, james carville, katie couric, chris matthews, and lawrence o’donnell would all appear more upstanding than they deserve. You can create your own lists, but be prepared for him to bleed red and green all over your document.

To those of us who paid attention during English class, Mr. Spellcheck can be a nuisance. To most of the world, he is the only connection to proper grammar and spelling. After all, he is simply trying to promote traditional standards of style that facilitate communication in a respectful way. The service he provides is honorable, conservative, and thankless, if my attitude is typical. By conservative, I mean paleoconservative.

I apologize for those other names I called him. I notice that they are not in his vocabulary. ’m I bad. He could teach me a few things.

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