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About MeEdit

Name: James Townsend

Age: 18

Occupation: Student, part-time tutor, researcher, essayist, and amateur artist. Also an occasional sales rep/heavy-lifter.

Interests (in absolutely no particular order): Art, history, pure mathematics, cryptography, physics, transhumanism, cartoons, marksmanship, fencing, Mongolia, Judaism, economics, postcards, lasers, computational neurobiology, computer science, neural engineering

Activities: Cycling, making sudoku puzzles, writing, drawing, learning French and (attempting) Hebrew, reading the Economist, and screaming at the TV when I walk by it.

Current Plans: Going to attend the University of Chicago in the fall of 2008. Have some ideas for what I'm going to study, but not saying anything definite yet.

James' Big List o' Copyediting and Style Guidelines/Good Things to KnowEdit

Most of these should come as no surprise to a good number of people, but I am just trying to keep a running list of them for reference. Let's begin, shall we?

  • Wont and won't are two separate words entirely. One may be wont to avoid mistakes in article writing but that won't make them infallible!
  • Copious use of colons, semicolons, and em dashes does not necessarily make you a more intelligent person, but using them improperly almost always makes you look silly.
  • If it already existed prior to a person seeing or experiencing it, it was discovered, described, identified, or something along those lines. If it didn't exist in any way shape or form prior to a person experiencing it, etc., it was probably either created or invented. ex. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto.
  • Seriously...It's okay to write "between five and seven million soldiers died in the war," but if you ask me (and a lot of folks, I'd reckon) things like "between 5 and 7,000,000 soldiers died in the war" should be avoided--on Wikipedia at least. Why? Because its ambiguous: do you mean between five soldiers and seven million soldiers, or what? This should be clear from the context in this example, because it's a large number, but the confusion grows as the gap between the values shrinks. And really, there are so many perfectly wonderful ways to avoid this situation (by rearranging terms, parenthetical statements--quoting might even work) that it is fairly ridiculous to let something like this ride on. So. There ya go.

I am an awful and vindictive person when it comes to grammar and punctuation. One day it will come back and bite me in the ass. I know.