Commas

Well, folks, this has been a week of small changes.  Realization that the paragraph separation in my interior is 1 mm larger than line separation.  A few nits. I’ve been consoling myself with the fact that I can almost always find small errors in books published by the big houses.

Sometimes, the ‘wrong’ things I see are the movement of usage.  Younger writers seem often to be stingy with commas.  It usually works out, except when it doesn’t.  Recently, I got whacked for using the Oxford comma … you know … the one that goes before the ‘and’. “Unnecessary” was the terse comment in the margin.

I understand that commas are going the way of the bring/take difference and the dilution of ‘awesome’ to mean “better than OK.”  But really … consider the sentence: “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” Three invitations. Could happen, right? JFK did have a sort of raffish way about him, and Joe might have treasured a get-together with a group of ecdysiastically-inclined ladies.

Now, try the sentence without the Oxford comma:  “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.” Two invitations that might have started WWIII.