The Washington Post isn’t one of the newspapers I normally read online (mostly I stick to the Muscatine Journal and the Wall Street Journal), but I think I’ll be visiting their site more often in the future. Not for the news – though I might read that too – but to read ComPost by Alexandra Petri, who “puts the ‘pun’ in punditry” according to the blog heading.
I found it to begin with by clicking on Google’s Doodle today, honoring Gregor Mendel’s 189th birthday. I had nothing in particular in mind to blog about this evening, and figured that something worthy of a Google Doodle probably also merited a blog post. But I was pretty sure I remembered having done that a previous July 20.
(Oddly enough, it turns out that I wrote that post July 22, 2008, based on what I found at infoplease.com. I checked tonight, and infoplease.com still shows that Gregor Mendel’s birthday is July 22. From wikipedia, I found out that his birthday is July 20; July 22 is often cited, but it is the date of his baptism, not his birth.)
Anyway, the first hit I saw was “Gregor Mendel’s naughty peas and our GM future.” I had no idea what could have been naughty about Mendel’s peas but I decided to find out. I was hooked with the first line: “It started off innocuously, in a garden. These things often do.” I admit I had to stop and think a moment to understand the allusion. Then I smiled, knowing I was going to enjoy reading the rest of the post. And I did.
I can’t say I enjoyed all Petri’s posts as much as the first one I read. Part of it, I suppose, is that they tend to deal with topics at the forefront of many people’s attention, but that I have little or no knowledge of. I had seen headlines about phone hacking recently, but hadn’t read any articles. I heard other people’s opinions about Casey Anthony, but chose not to learn details of the case. I’m not sure I had even heard of Charlie Sheen. (Is he an actor? A musician? A politician?)
But “Save the Oxford Comma! A Grammar Nazi’s Plea” is definitely worth reading. I didn’t even know what an Oxford comma was, at least not by name. But grammar is something I know and appreciate, unlike news about celebrities. Plus it’s just plain well-written. How often do you see punctuation compared to endangered species? Or the economy?
Good writing is probably an endangered species also. But I’m glad to find some of it at ComPost.