A Sentence in Need of Clarification

Sometimes I read a sentence so laden with academic jargon that its purpose is defeated. One such sentence appears in Voigt’s The Art of Syntax, a book built on an interesting premise, but one that, at times, is unfilled. Here’s the sentence.

Ordinarily, a coordinated (independent) “but” clause is worth more to a sentence than a restrictive (subordinate) “if” clause; Kunitz’s exactly parallel lines, using a limited and reshuffled lexicon, redress the grammatical power of the rational objection. (30)

Specifically, this is the wording that caused me to pause: “redress the grammatical power of the rational objection.” How can a “rational objection” have “grammatical power”? Somehow, according to Voigt, both Kunitz’s parallel lines and his vocabulary set right the rational objection’s “grammatical power,” but how?

Further, why is a coordinated clause worth more to a sentence than a restrictive one? How much more is it worth? And what determines a clause’s worth?

Finally, what is the connection between the sentence’s first independent clause and its second? The sentence would flow better if its second clause explained “worth more” instead of detouring.


Not Expecting Much from Giant 2016 Draft

Based on their past draft performance, I don’t have high expectations about how the New York Giants will do in the 2016 draft. They have two many needs: defense line, safety, linebacker, offensive line, end, running back. So where do they start? With the “best” player available? Unfortunately, since Joe Don Looney they have not been that good at identifying them. For example, in 2012 their pick of David Wilson seemed to be an overreaction pick after the Bucs selected Doug Martin the pick before. Both Bobby Wagner and Lavonte David were still available, but then the Giants rarely draft linebackers in the first few rounds. (Who’s behind that thinking?) Further, in 2016, the top two linebackers, Jaylon Smith and Miles Jack, are both recovering from significant injuries, which should make them even less attractive to the Giants. They need help NOW. The next highest-rated linebacker, Leonard Floyd, is rated #13 on NFL.com’s top 100, but he only weighs 231, NFL.com labelling him “painfully thin.” In 2015, the Giants were the ninth worst against the run, so if they were going to draft a linebacker, they need a run stopper.

Safety? They are as weak at safety as Popeye is without his spinach. NFL.com gives their top-rated safety, Duke’s Jeremy Cash, only a 5.68 rating. That is not a rating worthy of a #10 pick. Further, NFL.com states that “Cash is much too stiff to be asked to make a living in coverage and any team considering him will likely view him as a box safety,” something the Giants do not need to spend a high pick on. So, let’s eliminate the safety position as the one to spend a top pick on.

To be continued

Football Giants Losing the Draft Game

A recent article on nj.com had this title: “Giants’ late-round draft record among NFL’s worst with Jerry Reese at GM.” The article was a followup to a question to Giants GM Jerry Reese about the Giants’ poor draft performance in the lower rounds: “Have you researched that? Do you know that for a fact?” Reese said. “OK, until you know that for a fact, then I don’t think you should say that. That’s just my opinion. If you know that for a fact, then you can tell me that. But give me the facts on that.”

The author of the article, Jordan Raanan, did just that. Followup research revealed that the Giants ranked near the bottom from 2007-13 in Rounds 3-7. (See Raanan’s article for the details.)

But how could Reese NOT know that? Doesn’t his department gather data on their draft performance versus the other NFL teams? If they do, isn’t he aware of it? Worse, if they don’t, why not?

Here are some of the Giants recent draft busts:

  • Damontre Moore (Round 3)
  • Adrien Robinson (Round 4)
  • Brandon Mosley (Round 4)
  • Marvin Austin (Round 2)
  • Jerell Jernigan (Round 3)
  • James Brewer (Round 4)
  • Phillip Dillard (Round 4)
  • Clint Simtim (Round 2)
  • Ramses Barden (Round 3)

Here are some of their recent draft misses:

  • In 2013 they drafted Damontre Moore in Round 3. Still available when they drafted: Logan Ryan and Jordan Reed.
  • In 2012 they drafted Reuben Randle in Round 2. Still available when they drafted: Dwayne Allen and Mohamed Sanu.
  • In 2012 they drafted Jayron Hosley in Round 3. Still available when they drafted: Lamar Miller and Bobby Massie.
  • In 2012 they drafted Adrien Robinson and Brandon Mosley in Round 4: Still available when they drafted: Josh Norman and Alfred Morris.
  • And so on





iThoughts (for iOS) Tip #3

Navigating within the Notes Area

The image below (from v. 2.15) contains one Level 0 topic (“Inheritance”) and three Level 1 topics — children of the Level 0 topic. One of the children has been selected (“Added as”); previously, the “Inheritance” topic’s text was added to the Notes area, indicated by the green 10 (info on how to add text to the Notes area).


In Tip #3, information will be provided about each of the ten green-numbered items. To do #1-8 below, the Notes area needs to be open with text in it.

  1. The icon beneath #1, when pressed, causes a black horizontal bar with this info to appear: | Select | Select All | Paste | BIU |.
  2. Each time the icon beneath #2 is tapped, the Notes area cursor will move one word to the left with the cursor positioned before that word’s first letter.
  3. Each time the icon beneath #3 is tapped, the Notes area cursor will move one word to the right with the cursor positioned after that word’s last letter.
  4. Each time the icon beneath #4 is tapped, the Notes area cursor will move one character to the left.
  5. Each time the icon beneath #5 is tapped, the Notes area cursor will move one character to the right.
  6. This icon opens the Text Style window. It allows you to change the following in the selected note text: font, color, font style (bold, italic, underline, strikethrough) and, if all the note text is selected, its alignment (left, center, right).
  7. The minus sign decreases the size of the selected note text.
  8. The plus increases the size of the selected note text.
  9. The “V” opens the Notes area; an inverted “V” closes it.
  10. Just typing text in a topic does not automatically add that text to the Notes area. A topic’s text must be selected and transferred the Notes area; similarly, just typing new text in the Notes area does not automatically add that text to a selected topic.

iThoughts (for iOS) Tip #2

How to Add a Note to a Topic

  1. Select a topic. In the image below (from v. 2.15), the main topic (“Inheritance”) has been selected, indicated by the dashed line outlining it.IMG_0027-rev
  2. Double-tap the topic to switch to text mode, indicated when a blinking cursor appears in the topic.
  3. Tap and hold on a word until a horizontal black bar appears with these options:
    1. Select | Select All | Paste | BIU
  4. Tap “Select All.” All the topic’s text will be highlighted.
  5. A new horizontal black bar appears with nine options: The rightmost one is “Add to Note.” Tap it.
  6. The selected text will now appear above the map in the Notes area, separated from the map by a horizontal line. Centered just below the horizontal line is a large caret (^): When the caret is upside down, the Notes area is not visible. To its right is a plus sign; to its left, a minus sign. Tapping the plus sign increases the note’s font size; tapping the minus sign decreases it.

Note: Text added to a note in the Notes area does not appear in its topic.

iThoughts (for iOS) Tip #1

The screenshot below is from v. 2.15. It’s of a map made using iThoughts, a well-priced, well-constructed, mind-mapping app. To enlarge the map, click it.

IMG_0024-halfThe map has three nodes, called “topics” in iThoughts. The yellow oval (“Map1”) is the starting point.The orangey rounded rectangle (“Francis Christensen”) is a child of “Map1.” The topic “Appositives” is a child of “Francis Christensen.”

Above the map is the Notes window with this text: “An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right beside it.” That quote is associated with the topic “Appositives” and appears in the Notes window when the “Appositives” topic is tapped, causing the topic to be enclosed within a dashed outline.

The tiny, grey, nicked icon in the bottom right of both “Francis Christensen” and the “Appositives” topics indicates that each has an associated note in the Notes window.

To create a note for a topic, tap the topic to select it. If the Notes window is not visible, tap the symbol centered at the top of  the map that looks like a “𝘃” to open the Notes window. Then, tap in it (causing the keyboard to appear on-screen) and start typing.

➤ Tap the “+” to the right of the “𝘃” to enlarge the Note text (or the “-” to the left of the “𝘃” to reduce the text’s size).

To learn more about iThoughts, visit its website.

A Look at Commas; A Peek at Semi-Colons

Punctuate this wording (qtd. in Truss 13):

“Charles the First walked and talked half an hour after his head was cut off”

Note: The information in parentheses is one way in MLA to give a clue about the quotation’s source. The quotation is from a work written by Truss, who quoted it on page 13. In an MLA essay, the source would be revealed in a works-cited page; however, as this post does not have one, here is the source’s title and author: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. Its subtitle reveals its contents: “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”

The correct way to punctuate the “Charles the First” quote is by adding two periods and a comma, placing one period after “talked,” the comma after “after,” and the other period after “off.”

One purpose of punctuation is clarification. The opening quote, without punctuation, has a completely different meaning. However, the period after “talked” is not the only way it could have been punctuated. It could have been punctuated this way: “Charles the First walked and talked; half an hour after, his head was cut off.” But when I read that aloud, it does not sound right. The change in punctuation signals that what precedes the semi-colon is equal in “weight” with what succeeds it, that both are equally important. But that is not the case: The first independent clause, “Charles the First walked and talked,” just sets the scene; whereas, the second, half an hour after, his head was cut off,” gives much more important information, for losing one’s head significantly changes one’s ability to walk and talk.

A rule: When writing, precede and follow a semi-colon with an independent clause.

I wrote “A rule” rather than “The rule” because it is a rule that can be broken — as skilled writers do.