Law Humor

Better Writing: William Safire's Self-Violating Rules

I never intended to be a writer.  I really don't consider myself a writer.  I'm a speaker, and there is a difference.  As a speaker, I can muddle through bad grammar, odd word placement, and misuse of terms and phrases by modulating my voice, raising an eyebrow, or using a great hand gesture.

People speak differently from how they write.  On this blog, I don't try to "write" I simply type what I would probably say if you and I were sitting down to have a discussion about a topic.

That said, I found this great collection of writing tips from William Safire, the writer, columnist, and word snob.  I love his stuff, even if I don't always follow his conventions.

Here is his list of rules (see if you notice something about them....)

William Safire's Rules for Writers:

  1.   Remember to never split an infinitive.    
  2.   The passive voice should never be used.    
  3.   Do not put statements in the negative form.    
  4.   Verbs have to agree with their subjects.    
  5.   Proofread carefully to see if you words out.    
  6.   If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.    
  7.   A writer must not shift your point of view.    
  8.   And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)    
  9.   Don't overuse exclamation marks!!    
  10.   Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.    
  11.   Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.    
  12.   If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.    
  13.   Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.    
  14.   Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.    
  15.   Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.    
  16.   Always pick on the correct idiom.    
  17.   The adverb always follows the verb.    
  18.   Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

Good stuff.

Chris Nichols 1.800.906.5984

Spell Check & Contracts

I actually read the Terms Of Service (TOS) on websites where I register.  It's that thing you always have to check mark before you download software or register yourself.  These contracts are pretty interesting, but the one I read today, on a MAJOR website had a pretty funny spelling goof....

17. Procedure For Making Claims of Copyright Or Interllectual Property Infringement

We respect the intellectual property of others, and we ask our users to do the same. We may, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, disable and/or terminate....

Anyhow, I'm guilty of typos all the time, and I do try to use the spellcheck, but the above goof is, well, pretty bad.

-Chris Nichols 1.800.906.5984

When Will the Governor Sign the Bill??

Waiting for the Governor
     We are all waiting on the new State Teacher's and Employees Health Plan Lien to be signed into law by the Governor.  A lot of us lawyers are impatient for this to happen because we have been waiting since 2004 for the "new" legislation to give a makeover to this "super lien".
Things Look Good
     The Governor has not signed off on the bill yet, which is part of a much bigger package that must be reviewed.  Holly at the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers says she has no indication that there is any sort of veto lurking, so it's just a matter of waiting.
The Situation is in Control
     I've driven past the Governor's mansion a few times in the last week or so, and I saw Holly camped out on the side walk in a small village of lobbyists that sleep in cardboard boxes and tents while legislation waits to be finally approved.  It looks like Krzyzewski-ville (K-Ville) over at Duke University. 
     Holly had a megaphone in one hand, and a cardboard sign in the other that said "Sign the Bill!"  She was chanting with the others, 'Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Super Lien has Got to Go!"  It was a truly moving sight that brought a tear to my eye.  That's dedication, and I just happened to have my handy Nikon Coolpix 5 digital camera there to capture the moment . 
     I've heard through the grapevine that she may be staging a hunger strike if this technique does not work. 
     All kidding aside, Holly is monitoring this closely and will let us all know ASAP when the bill becomes law.
-Chris Nichols
Click on Photo to see larger size. 1.800.906.5984

What's the last thing a "red neck" says before he dies?

Ok, I was driving in the mountains on the Fourth of July with my family.  We had just come from Brevard, on our way to Hendersonville where I also have an office space.

We look ahead and see this giant truck.  I start laughing after a few seconds.  Too funny!!!  Let's see if you get the joke....

Have you ever heard that joke. the one about the red neck?  Obviously this self proclaimed red neck has.

(click on the photo below to enlarge the license plate that contains the punchline)

Hey_yall Not much is funnier than real life, huh?

If you don't get it, say it out loud, beginning with the words, "Hey, y'all ___"

Chris Nichols

Nichols Law Firm 1.800.906.5984