I read "Proof-Abstinence Education Does Work," a post by "Jane Olson." I geared up to deflate the fallacious reasoning of the author "Jane" parrots (not one line of the letter provides evidence of the effectiveness of abstinence-only education, which is what Abstinence Clearinghouse means when it says abstinence). I prepared to recite the evidence that abstinence-only education doesn't work. But the flaws in AC's own blogging provided so much fun, I lost track of the main point. So...
"Jane Olson"... really? Come on, is that real person, or just some poor staffer sitting in the office falsifying a multitude of voices? But then most everyone at AC is a ghost, anonymous voices locked in commentless echo chamberage.
"Proof-Abstinence" Education? The improper punctuation forced me to spend a moment sorting out that "proof-abstinence" was not an adjective modifying yet another crazy scheme to use the federal government to impose ideological messages in the classroom, but merely a victim of a misused hyphen. Check this out:
- "Jane" used a hyphen: - . You make it with the key next to the zero/end parenthesis key, straight up from the right pinky. Among other functions, it connects words that are used together as a single compound modifier. For instance, a light green jacket is a jacket that is both colored like a leaf and suitable for cool but not cold weather. A light-green jacket is a jacket that is a paler shade of green. Free-range beef is not free, and it is not necessarily for my range; the hyphen indicates that free and range work together to modify beef in a way neither word could alone.
- "Jane" meant to use an em dash: — . The em dash connects two distinct thoughts in a single sentence. It may represent one thought or statement that interrupts another. It is also occasionally used (as "Jane" perhaps intended) as something like a colon to introduce a new idea that serves as an example or otherwise logical follow-up to the preceding thought. The em dash, alas, does not appear on the standard English keyboard. The standard workaround is to type a space, then two hyphens, then another space -- like so -- between the thoughts to be connected. If you want to be fancy, the HTML code for an em dash is &mdash or — or — (don't forget to put a semi-colon after the code!). Or, if coding isn't your thing, you can also come back to the Madville Times and just copy em dashes to your own blog. I use them frequently—some might say religiously—and always—always!—correctly.
A blog without comments is lonely but tolerable. A blog without hyperlinks is a bicycle without wheels. I'm not the only who argues that the hyperlink is one of the most important inventions of the last hundred years. If you are blogging, use them. They are the quickest way to cite and direct people to the original source of the text you are taking advantage of. They let your readers see for themselves, a fundamental ethos of blogging.
And they are easy! AC uses Wordpress: watch this tutorial (or this one) to learn how to add links. Or go basic and code your links from scratch. Whichever way you choose, give other authors credit, give them the Web traffic: use hyperlinks.