no thoughts, but flowers

Pink begonias
I’ve written and re-written that title, putting the comma in, then taking it out, then putting it back. Flowers instead of thoughts, or thoughts of nothing except flowers? I guess if I knew which I meant, I’d know which I should have written.

quibbles & niggles

Having picked up Pride and Prejudice to look up Bingley’s comments on accomplishments the other day, I decided to re-read the whole book.

Along with Kipling’s Kim, it’s one of my ‘comfort books’; this time, however, I wasn’t reading it while ill in bed, so perhaps I was more critical. Certainly it struck me that it would be hard to cite Austen as a role model for good writing.
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parenthetical pharmaceuticals

I found this on a box of non-prescription tablets:

instructions for taking tablets
I'm a little bit in the dark about the instructions

The way I read that, the commas make the phrase “half an hour before going to bed” parenthetical, so you are advised to go into a darkened room to take the tablet. After that, presumably you can switch the lights back on to go to sleep.

There’s probably some neat pun on “comma” and “coma”, too, but I can’t think of one right now.

parenthetical pedantry

The more I read on-line, the more I think the mathematicians have it right. The meaning of 4+3*6 is perfectly well defined. You have to do the multiplication first.

If you want to force the addition to be be done first, you just slip in some parentheses: (4+3)*6.

Sadly, text isn’t like that. And with the internet encouraging writing by all and sundry, and forcing hurried writing by those who should know better, it’s easy to produce potentially ambiguous statements like this, from a piece about the need to encourage social inclusion by reading, on the London Book Fair site:

Not only are those who read less likely to be divorced, but they are less likely to smoke and be unemployed

My original reading of the first phrase parsed “those who read less” as a unit, and the phrase apparently claimed members of this group were “likely to be divorced”.
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