All Is Well?

Hmm. It would be nice to have received an e-mail from my hosting service--"The fire's out in the boiler room"--but the site seems to be back to normal, minus the missing content. I've put up pages for the new book, but I'm not sure I'll put up everything else that got hosed. Please note that for now guest account registering is disabled.

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"We will rebuild him."

Well, this is great. Something or someone hosed my site. Obviously, it's back up, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, but I've lost all my content prior to about April. I guess "lost" isn't the right word. The content exists in other formats, but it will take time to get it back here. On the upside, this also foils the work of more recent spammers.

Anyway, rather than put everything back the way it was, I may start over with a new design, or at least rethink the content I want to feature here. We'll see. If you're curious, check back soon.

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Batman, the Animated Series: Wow, Was This Good

It's now time to begin Batman Week, and I for one am giddy with anticipation. Okay, maybe not, but I've been looking forward to this. Not to spoil the surprise, but there will be four titles in this series. The first is excellent, and the others are pretty darn good, awful, and solid but with a giant asterisk, in that order.

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Banacek: What Is Family Entertainment, Anyway?

Picture this... an American starlet is marrying a "shah." As a wedding present, the shah has given her a one-of-a-kind horse coach, studded with diamonds and other jewels, inlaid with gold, a fabulous treasure on wheels. The gift of the coach has been accepted and now must be sent aboard a cargo ship for its journey to their new home.

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In Defense of "E-mail"

I'm talking here about the word, not the thing itself. Originally, mail sent electronically was known as e-mail. This form of the word has been steadily losing ground to email. I'm here to say that this is wrong.

I've read all of the arguments in favor of dropping the hyphen, and none of them are convincing. Usually, the hyphen-less form isn't so much argued for, as assumed, with a mumbled justification of "words change over time." Which indeed they do, but not every change is for the better.

The common argument for dropping the hyphen is that the hyphen is originally used to signal the connection between two words that have not been commonly seen together to that point. After sufficient time passes, the hyphen is no longer needed. Thus, to the use the Strunk & White example, bed chamber becomes bed-chamber becomes bedchamber.

Here's the problem, though. In other cases, dropping the hyphen is a way of simplifying the language, making the word look more like it is pronounced. That is not the situation with e-mail.

Why? Because in e-mail, the e is literally the letter e. It stands for the word electronic, of course, but it's not a shortened form of the word electronic, which starts with a short-e sound. To see the distinction, suppose that mail sent electronically had been originally called electro-mail. Dropping the hyphen in this case would cause no problem, as electro-mail and electromail would be pronounced the same. But email looks like a word that is pronounced uh-MAIL, not EE-mail.

An analogy would be G-Man, a slang term for an FBI agent. The G is literally the letter G, standing for government, but not a shortened form of the word government. Therefore it would look ridiculous to write Gman or Gmen.

Likewise, writing email for e-mail complicates rather than simplifies. Some would argue that everybody knows how to pronounce email already, so what difference does it make how it is spelled? But that road leads to madness. Why not spell it eml, or 3ma!1 or whatever kooky string of letters pops into our head?

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