“One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes.” I discovered this marvellous piece of advice in a New York Times blog about the art of writing sentences. For some people the NYT is a favourite dartboard, but it does have some superb nooks and crannies. The blog attributes this guideline for style to a French mime, Etienne Decroux. Something tells me this is apocryphal, but it is a remarkably good slogan for the art of the mime.
Moving now to an apparently unrelated topic, we are once again changing our policy on comments. For a while we tried to enforce a five-comments-per-reader policy, but this has proved too onerous for the editors and sometimes unfair to commenters. However, what I have noticed is that often there are bushels of potatoes and very few pearls on the thread of comments. The art of good writing (I refer readers to the NYT’s blogger’s hints, “The Secrets of Sinful Prose”) is packing the maximum of sense into the minimum of words. We have a 300 word-limit – which is also hard to police – and good contributions to the debate can easily be shoehorned into this guideline.
Anyhow, we welcome comments – although all of them are moderated – because they add spice to the site. We don’t live in a bubble at MercatorNet and it’s great to get a variety of viewpoints.
So far this week, we have posted several controversial articles. One, by Mat Hardy, an Australian academic, suggests that there may be more ethical complications to drone warfare than meet the eye. Then, three contributors tackle the contentious area of birth control. Brian Clowes dismantles bogus statistics about illegal abortions in Colombia; Father Michael Giesler explains why US Catholics are so upset with the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate; and from New Zealand Richard McLeod criticises his government’s moves to incentivize contraception for mothers on welfare. Finally, Margaret Somerville analyses noisy and sometimes violent protests in Montreal this summer against… well, against something or other.