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Lighten up, Javert

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As good than gold:

"With Hugo's help, Melenchon channels in remarkable ways the anxiety of a growing number of French citizens who ask if progress is possible only by accepting the economic and monetary policies of European institutions that seem no less relentless and rigid as Inspector Javert."

I can remember when people knew their as from their than. This is from The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style. "One as is usually not enough when a sentence likens two things in a simile or contrasts them in a comparison. Idiom calls for an as ... as pair: 'as happy as a lark' or 'twice as high as last year's price.' "

The excerpt above should have read "institutions that seem no less relentless and rigid than Inspector Javert." Or a second as could have been inserted: ... "institutions that seem as relentless and rigid as Inspector Javert."

Understatement of the year:

"Describing how he stalked and executed teenagers attending a political youth camp on the wooded island of Utoya, Breivik, 33, said: 'I have never experienced anything so gruesome. It was probably even more horrendous for those I was hunting.' "

I wouldn't be surprised.

Mr. Breivik is the most chipper mass murderer I've ever read about, and the families of his victims the most benign survivors. In the newspaper stories, it sounds like they're worried about hurting his feelings. Their Viking forebears would have been less forgiving, I suspect. (I know quite a lot about Vikings, having watched a Kirk Douglas-Tony Curtis documentary on the subject.)

Or did they drive away in the coupe?

The ivory-billed woodpecker has vanished (again), and so have the Brinkley-area establishments that profited off its pursuers. "After five years of scouring the swamps and bayous in search of the elusive bird — at a cost of about $10 million — researchers with Cornell University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called it quits. Not long after, the once-booming business trading on the woodpecker's lure went bust. 'They all flew the coup,' Penny Childs laughed last week." I'll bet it was the Fouke Monster that staged the coup.

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