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A boy called Herself:

What pronoun do you use when the competitors are a man and a woman? The Associated Press has made its choice:

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“LOS ANGELES — Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton sought common ground Thursday on basic Democratic policies on immigration, health care and tax relief in their first one-on-one debate, but grew testy at times as each tried to distinguish himself as the candidate best able to assume the presidency.”

Hillary wants to distinguish himself, huh? I think I'd have written “himself or herself.” Maybe the AP plans to alternate between “himself” and “herself” in cases like this, but I doubt it. Most readers would be jarred to see a man referred to as “herself.” It should be just as jarring to see a woman called “himself.”

There were two bylines on the AP story incidentally, one male and one female. Maybe they worked it out. The woman was Nedra Pickler, whose harsh judgments of Democratic candidates in 2004 gave rise to the verb “picklered.” I've read this year that some Republican candidates have complained of being picklered too. Apparently she's practicing bipicklership.

nMichael B. Dougan of Jonesboro, a historian among other things, saw an advertisement in an old newspaper for “sorry calico” at three to four cents a yard, and “sorry cotton checks” at four cents a yard. Unless this is uncommonly truthful advertising, “sorry” is being used in some way unfamiliar to Dougan. And me. Can anybody help?

“Nominally a blues man, Patrick Sweany sings with one of those genre-defying, deeply soulful voices that Memphis producers used to turn into gold. Catch he and his band tonight at White Water.”

Keith Jones, who saw this item on a blog, challenges us to “Catch I if you can.”

nWayne Jordan read that football players on a team that had lost its coach were “wrecking their minds” over who would be a suitable replacement. Sounds pretty drastic. Why couldn't they be satisfied with racking their brains?

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