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Words Feb. 9

by and


From Gary N. Speed, attorney-at-law:

“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had a headline in the business section that said ‘Trademarking Life?’. Anyone who read the story would realize that it was about patenting life, not trademarking life. (The guys that write the headlines do read the stories, don’t they?)

“A patent is an exclusive right granted by the government to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention. A trademark, in simple terms, is a name or symbol that identifies the source or origin of something. Patenting life raises thought-provoking questions. Trademarking life is really pretty common — doesn’t everyone have a name?”

Thanks for the counsel, counselor. As to your question about headline writers reading the articles they write headlines for, some of them say that technique is too slow and restrictive. These have a chance to become publishers.

Proofreading goes faster too when you don’t get hung up on accuracy:

“The city had also already been planning to even out that section of Napa Valley Road to improve site distances. That should make it safer for cars turning onto the road from Fellowship’s driveway, Henry said.”

Dr. George T. Schroeder of Little Rock writes: “Surely the city had not been planning to improve distances between locations but to improve visibility.” Which would mean “sight distances,” not “site distances.” Yes.

It happens I know who proofread that page of the Arkansas Times, and it’s the same person who recently referred to a large city in Australia as “Sidney.” He’s someone who’s done a lot for this country, asking no special favor in return, and I see no point in embarrassing him now. As George Bush says, “Hindsite alone is not wisdom.”

“The Boys Choir of Harlem has sued the city Department of Education in a last-ditch effort to dodge the Tuesday eviction of its public-school home.” The choir, not the school, is threatened with eviction. The passage should read “eviction from its public-school home.”

 Lang Zimmerman of Mountain Home found an interesting verb on the obituary page. “He was funeralized Dec. 30, 2005, in California.” No word on where he was burialized.

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