Factorial – February 2011

Me first

There’s a Nora Ephron story doing the rounds in the blogosphere at the moment. (I can’t find the original source, sorry, but it’s a good story.)

On screenwriter Nora Ephron’s first day of her high school journalism class, her teacher announced the first assignment: to write the lead for a story to appear in the student newspaper.

He told them the facts and Nora Ephron and the other budding journalists condensed the who, what, when, where and why of the story into a single sentence: ‘Governor Pat Brown, Margaret Mead, and Robert Maynard Hutchins will address the Beverly Hills High School faculty Thursday in Sacramento …’

The teacher reviewed the leads then paused.

‘The lead for this story,’ he said, ‘is: “There will be no school next Thursday”.’

The philosophy of ambiguity

A reader sent me an email entitled ‘The philosophy of ambiguity’, which included items such as:

  • One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
  • Can an atheist get insurance against acts of god?
  • I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
  • What if there were no hypothetical questions?
  • Is there another word for synonym?
  • If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
  • How is it possible to have a civil war?

If you want the full list, email mary@themfactor.com.au

Nothing new

If you thought texting belonged to today’s youth, forget it. Here’s an 1860 example.

An S A now I mean 2 write
2 U sweet K T J,
The girl without a ||,
The belle of U T K.

I 1 der if U got that 1
I wrote 2 U B 4
I sailed in the R K D A,
And sent by L N Moore …

This S A, until U I C
I pray U 2 X Q’s
And do not burn in F E G,
My young and wayward muse.

Now fare U well, dear K T J,
I trust that U R true –
When this U C, then you can say,
An S A I O U.

Write to Govern

My book, Write to Govern, is now available at www.amazon.com

Quote of the month

‘If the semicolon is one of the neglected children in the family of punctuation marks these days, told to stay in its room and entertain itself, because mummy and daddy are busy, the apostrophe is the abused victim.’
John Humphrys, Welsh author


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