Communicate for Success—English Tips, Vol. 2

The words "English Abuse" in a circle with a red line through itA good command of the English language is essential for success. Rightly or wrongly, people judge you on how well you communicate. Here are five more tips for using the English language well. You may also wish to review Vol. 1.

Well, that’s good—Everyone “feels good,” unless they have arthritis or the nerve endings in their fingers are dead. If you are without illness or pain, however, you “feel well.”

Less is fewer than more—Both “less” and “fewer” are opposites of more. If the items can be enumerated, use “fewer.” “I have fewer than 10 crayons on my desk.” On the other hand, if you can’t count the amount on one or twenty hands because the amount is indefinite, use “less.” “I have less clutter on my desk since I removed the crayons.”

Since vs. because—The words “since” and “because” are not synonyms and are not interchangeable. “Since” denotes time. “Because” denotes causal effect. “It’s been 10 days since I saw you.” “I won’t be able to see you for 10 days because I’m avoiding you.”

“I” before “e” except after “c”—The thousands of exceptions to this rule make it useless. When in doubt, look it up. That’s why God created dictionaries.

I would accept it, except ….—“Except” excludes. “Accept” includes. “I would accept you into my life, except for the fact that you can’t spell.”

More to come. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any.

Communicate for Success—English Tips, Vol. 1

For several months, historian Bruce Kauffmann and I have traded content for our respective newsletters. (You can sign up for mine and receive a free download of 12 Steps for English Abusers here.)

The words "English Abuse" in a circle with a red line through itMy offerings for Bruce’s newsletter focus on tips for good English usage. Here are five of them:

Anytime vs. any time—If you can substitute “whenever,” then spell it “anytime.” If not, it’s two words. For example, you wouldn’t write, “I don’t have whenever to talk to you right now.” Therefore, “any time” would be the correct usage. But you could write, “I can talk to you whenever” (anytime).

Can vs. may—If you ask, “Can you pass the salt?” I’ll say, “Yes, I can,” because I am physically capable of doing so. If you ask, “May I have the salt?” I’ll pass it to you because you have correctly and politely asked me to do so.

Rain, rein, reign—OK, so of the three, few mess up “rain.” I only include it to prove I’m not a homonym-phobe. But rein and reign? Easy tip: If you’re speaking of someone taking on a royal persona, use “reign.” It has an extra letter (g) that does nothing, like royalty, who we should rein in.

Why isn’t “its” “it’s”?—After all, “its” is possessive, and possessives take apostrophes, right? Richard’s bike, for example. Or, Mary’s little lamb. But “it’s” is a contraction, so it deserves the apostrophe too. In this case, the joining of a possessive eliminates the apostrophe. Think of “its” as three possessive letters who do not wish to be separated by an apostrophe. Would you destroy such love?

Pet peeve alert—“Over” and “more than” are NOT interchangeable, despite the Associated Press’s recent ill-advised decision to treat them similarly. “Over” denotes height, direction, or an end, not an amount. You can be over the hill. You can be over your lover. You can hover over the bed. You cannot have over $50. You can only have more than $50. You can only have more than five marbles. If you have over five marbles, I will question whether you have any marbles at all. Over and out.

More to come. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any.

12 Steps for English Abusers

I had an epiphany on Black Friday. It occurred after I logged onto Facebook and saw my friends spelling the contraction “it’s” as “its” for the umpteenth time. I already had a headache from overindulging the day before and my coffee had not yet kicked in.

Miffed as only an English nitpicker can be, I immediately Googled “misuse of its” in an attempt to see if anyone kept a tally of this insidious abuse of the English language.

misuse of its

Despite nearly 42 million results—and Carpe Diem blogger Mark J. Perry’s quarterly rants against abusers landing in the top four spots—no tally could be found. It’s the fifth result that caught my eye, however. Specifically, the phrase “misuse and its treatment.”

Could there be a program for English abusers? So I Googled “English recovery program” and found:

english mountain recovery

Eureka! But my excitement was short-lived. I quickly realized it was an alcohol and drug recovery facility.

But wait. Perhaps I was onto something. Perhaps I could modify the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step recovery program into a program English abusers could follow. And so I did. Get your FREE copy of our 12-Step Recovery Program for English Abusers here.


Consistent Voice Communications,

Media Musings: Uptick in ticks when Dating Naked

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of August 30, 2014


I’m writing this naked. That’s why the words are blurred. If your eyes are ogling this essay and it’s not blurred, I’m going to sue WordPress for allowing my naked thoughts to be so provocatively displayed.

No sex on beach insigniaThat has to be the thinking behind Dating Naked star Jessie Nizewitz’s suit against Viacom and two production companies. She’s suing them for not blurring the front of her behind while wrestling her date in her birthday suit. No one has a right to see her naked when she’s dating naked and wrestling naked on a naked beach.

By the way, if you haven’t seen the pictures, Nizewitz looked hot! Not scorch-birds-in-mid-air hot, though. To be scorch-birds-in-mid-air hot you need to be a BrightSource Energy plant in the Mojave Desert. And a BrightSource she’s not.

BrightSource planted 300 garage-size, solar energy mirrors in the desert to bring environmentally friendly energy to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. These mirrors are so hot that federal wildlife investigators report an average of one bird every two minutes lights up in a puff of smoke as they attempt to fly over them. Plant workers call the flying flamers “streamers.” Thousands of birds a year disintegrate in puffs of smoke. Not all take a direct hit, of course. Some just have their feathers burned away, which makes them streaking streamers and more akin to chicks wrestling naked on the sand. Others that don’t take a direct hit merely have their gooses cooked.

If that doesn’t bug you, what if you had a cooked goose but couldn’t eat it because you got ticked off? Or ticked on, to be more accurate.

The tick in question is the Lone Star tick. Meat-eaters bitten by the Lone Star tick develop a meat allergy. Which would be fine, if the tick really was a Lone Star tick. Texas could use a few more laid back vegans. But you won’t find it in Texas. It’s an eastern bug. One Long Island, New York, allergist confirmed 200 cases. Within hours of being bitten, victims develop a high sensitivity to meat. One victim couldn’t even eat raspberry-filled pastries because the artificial flavoring contains a chemical made from the anal scent glands of the North American beaver. Come to think of it, I’ve given up raspberry-filled pastries too.

Colorado has been bugged by an uptick in children being hospitalized after eating marijuana-laced goodies. That led to a proposal to limit the active pot ingredient in food products and to ensure the labels clearly state these are not toddler treats. These treats are reserved for mommies and daddies with toddlers.

And if Mommy and Daddy still get the munchies after munching marijuana morsels, they can pig out on a bag of potato chips. Just be careful what you say around that bag of chips. MIT researchers have developed a tool to listen in on conversations by recording the vibrations your speech makes on the bag. It’s not just your paranoia after all. Being afraid of a 9-year-old girl shooting an Uzi? That’s unfounded paranoia. Being afraid of a bag of potato chips? That’s just good sense.

And good sense is rampant in that state where marijuana possession for personal use is still illegal: California. Proving that you can go so far left to be on the right, California has devised an ingenious new abstinence program for college campuses. Under the pending law, to have sex, the couple would have to explicitly agree to the undertaking. It’s called the affirmative consent standard and colleges and universities would have to incorporate it to be eligible for federal funding. Some have interpreted the law as requiring “students to agree to a verbal or written contract before sex.”

“Sign here and here, andAnonymous couple signing contract initial here and here. OK, good. I’ll have it notarized and we’re good to wrestle naked on the beach.”

But wait. The language also requires mutual consent “ongoing throughout the sexual activity.”

“Um, we’ve been at it for five minutes now. We need to re-up the contract.”

Men with premature ejaculation issues would be exempt from this provision.

It’s just not worth it. I’m getting dressed now. This column just doesn’t turn me on anymore.


This column is dedicated to the memory of Robin Williams. We had some good laughs, didn’t we?


Coffman, Keith. Reuters. “Colorado’s edible pot facing proposed tighter rules on packaging, potentcy.” The Washington Post. 3 August 2014.

Feltman, Rachel. “MIT researchers can listen to your conversation by watching your potato chip bag.” The Washington Post. 4 August 2014.

Locher, John. The Associated Press. “Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air.” WTOP. 18 August 2014.

Sullivan, Gail. “California bill defines what it means to say ‘yes’ to sex.” The Washington Post. 29 August 2014.

Sullivan, Gail. “Firing-range instructor hands 9-year-old an Uzi. Now he’s dead.” The Washington Post. 27 August 2014.

Talmon, Noelle. “‘Dating Naked’ Star Files Lawsuit After VH1 Fails To Blur Her Private Parts.” Starpulse. 22 August 2014.


Consistent Voice Communications,

Media Musings: Catty Klingon fowl downed Malaysian jet

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of July 26, 2014


Artist's rendering of an airliner crashing into a man's forehead

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Whiteisthecolor

When Malaysia Flight 17 crashed in the Ukraine, the rebels were struck by a lack of blood tainting the wreckage. The passengers, in fact, had been dead several days before the crash, according to Russian media.

We know that isn’t true, of course. What is true is that U.S. President Obama ordered Russian President Putin to down the plane because Swedish scientist Hauteir Hokes, an expert on chemtrails, had proof that airliner exhaust was tainted with government-added mind control substances. The other passengers were collateral damage.

Which may or may not be true. But what is true is that Russia has invaded American homes with feline spies. One blew its cover recently. Kush, a Russian blue, attacked its owners, Teresa and James Gregory, in their Florida home. The attack was so vicious that the Gregorys retreated to their bedroom, where they called 911. Kush was taken away. According to mainstream media accounts, the cat was taken to an animal shelter for 10 days of observation before being returned to the couple. My impeccable sources, however, tell me that the so-called “animal shelter” was actually a re-education center run by the Russian mob.

Mainstream media, of course, is part of the cover-up, which is why they failed to disclose the all-important occupations of Teresa and James Gregory. My sources tell me they work on a supersensitive and super-secret NSA human behavior-modification program and have been known to bring documents home with them, where Kush had easy access. They have stopped that practice and, once the Russians released Kush from the re-education center, the Gregorys had her sexual organs removed as punishment.

Mainstream media, while intimating the Ukrainian rebels are demented, also are covering up the fact that the rebels suffer from dementia. The proof is in the pictures from the crash site, where the rebels are pictured wandering around the wreckage strewn with rotting corpses and making no attempt to cover their noses. Researchers have discovered that a decreased sense of smell is an early indication of dementia. The researchers used scratch and sniff tests for their studies, but crash and sniff tests are just as effective.

What really stinks, however, is the Malaysians shot down their own plane. They did so because most of the passengers were Dutch. Having the geographic knowledge of the average American, Malaysian authorities thought the Dutch are from Denmark, because, after all, both start with D. Denmark, of course, is the largest pork-consuming nation on the planet. Malaysians eat no pork. They do, however, eat a lot of chicken, which is on its way to outpacing pork as the most consumed animal. According to my sources, by taking out the Dutch, they hoped to drive up the demand for chicken and capitalize on the growing chicken industry.

The real culprit, of course, is not the chickens. It’s Kush and his cushy friends. Ever wonder why cat videos are so popular on the Internet? Mind control. We’re naturally drawn to cats, one University of Kent philosopher proposes, because they look like human babies—“their big eyes, smallish noses, and dome-shaped heads trigger the evolutionary nurturing instincts that we have evolved toward babies.” This makes them perfect foils for the sort of mind control the Gregorys have been working on at the NSA. When Kush realized she and her kind were being used, she rebelled.

But Kush’s rebellion comes too late. The Internet mind-control program has been fully implemented. Scopes confirms this, as well as confirming that Ukrainian rebels are actually the descendants of Klingons who crash-landed here 300,000 years ago. We refer to them even today as Neanderthals. The destruction of MH17 was an evolutionary act. Still reeling from being abandoned by their ancestors, they believed they were shooting down the mother ship.

You’re reading this on the Internet, aren’t you? Then it must be true.



Associated Press. “Couple bringing crazed cat home after calling 911.” WTOP. 19 July 2014.

“Countries Compared by Lifestyle > Food and drink > Pork > Consumption per capita. International Statistics at” USDA Census of Agriculture. Aggregates compiled by NationMaster. Accessed 27 July 2014.

Demirjian, Karoun. “Russians have many theories about the MH17 crash. One involves fake dead people.” The Washington Post. 22 July 2014.

Ferdman, Roberto A. “The coming global domination of chicken.” The Washington Post. 14 July 2014.

Kunkle, Fredrick. “Alzheimer’s researchers hunt for new tools to identify disease’s onset.” The Washington Post. 13 July 2014.

Stein, Perry. “Why Do Cats Run the Internet? A Scientific Explanation.” New Republic. 1 March 2012.

Imperial politics: right or wrong for the country?

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid smiling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“Rather than using the 10-day recess for the Independence Day holiday to reach a deal with (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell, (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid on Monday escalated the fight, warning that continued delaying tactics by Republicans would prompt him to unilaterally change long-standing rules about debate time.” (Emphasis added.)

This comes on the heels of actions taken by President Obama to sidestep Congress on a number of issues. Republicans say many of these actions are unconstitutional and House Speaker John Boehner has threatened to sue the president over the issue.

My question is this:

Media Musings: Throw the bums back in

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of June 28, 2014


Eagle clutching American flag with an I Voted sticker on it, perched on a shelf of American history booksA Seattle anesthesiologist had his license suspended because he sent nearly 250 sexually explicit texts during surgeries. He probably will run for public office.

In Maryland, you can’t run for office unless you have skeletons in your closet. On the ballot this month was a state House delegate who was convicted of driving a car and a boat while drunk; a county official accused of misspending, plagiarism, and assault; and a state senator who was censured by colleagues for using his office for private gain.

My favorite though is the state Senate candidate who is on probation for breaking election laws—and may have his probation revoked for running for office.

General Motors is recalling 29,000 Cruze model Chevys because of faulty airbags. But we don’t recall U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his 434 fellow members of Congress because they are faulty airbags.

Oh sure, there are the exceptions. Rabid Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, then the House majority leader, was trounced from the right by an unknown Tea Partier. And most of the Maryland scoundrels lost their bids for election or re-election.

But on average, 90 percent of members of Congress who seek re-election win. Some hope the tide will turn this year. After all, 22 percent of Americans polled by Gallup in April believe members of Congress do not deserve to be reelected, the lowest percentage recorded in an election year—except for January when the number was 17 percent. But that’s Congress as a whole. When asked about their specific incumbent, 50 percent support their member of Congress’s reelection.

For comparison, in 1992, 29 percent of Americans believed members of Congress as a whole should be reelected. Eighty-eight percent of them were.

Why the disconnect? Scientists have found the answer, as scientists always do. It was found in the 1946 Three Stooges movie The Three Troubledoers, when Moe asks Larry and Curley, “Are we mice or men?” Larry and Curley’s answer: “Mice!” And so we are.

Using electric-shock therapy, researchers proved the theory of learned helplessness. First they enclosed a group of mice in a room with no chance of escape and lit them up. Then they opened a door and electrified the room again. While most of the mice said, “I’m out of here,” 20 percent endured the shock in a whimpering ball rather than take the escape. The mice acted as if nothing they could do would change their situation, and so they did nothing.

Voting for an incumbent under the banner, “Throw the bums out,” is learned helplessness. Possibly worse is not voting at all, which is the learned-helplessness course taken by more than 46 percent of the voting age population in the 2012 election.

What’s an electorate to do? We could follow Pope Francis’ lead and excommunicate the mafiosi. That would only knock out about 30 percent of the Congress, but that’s still a lot more than we do through elections.

Or we could send them in search of public restrooms in DC’s Metro system. They’re there, but they’re hidden. It took a Washington Post reporter 20 minutes to find a useable one at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station—with the station manager’s help. Members of Congress have perfected the art of investigating crap and getting lost in the process. If they’re stalled in the stalls they can do the country no harm. There are mirrors for reflected selfies but there’s no wi-fi by which to send them. And every day would be a travel day.

Or we can be anesthetized by sexually explicit selfies that no longer shock us and vote the bums back in. I’ll pick you up in my Chevy Cruze on the way to the polls.



“Three Stooges Quotes.” The Three Stooges Online Filmography. Accessed 28 June 2014.

Associated Press. “GM recalling more than 29,000 Cruzes to fix air bags.” The Washington Post. 26 June 2014.

Bever, Lindsey. “This might be a first: A Seattle doctor is suspended for sexting during surgery.” The Washington Post. 10 June 2014.

Fisher, Marc. “In Maryland, it’s electable scoundrels vs. unelectable rogues.” The Washington Post. 24 June 2014.

Jones, Jeffrey M. “Ahead of Midterms, Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Strong in U.S.” Gallup Politics. 14 May 2014.

Kim, Meeri. “Why are some depressed, others resilient? Scientists home in one part of the brain.” The Washington Post. 5 June 2014.

McDonald, Michael. “2012 General Election Turnout Rates.” George Mason University. Last updated 22 July 2013.

Pullella, Philip. “Pope Francis lambastes mobsters, says mafiosi ‘are excommunicated.’” The Washington Post. 21 June 2014.

St. Martin, Victoria. “On the hunt for the elusive Metro restroom.” The Washington Post. 7 June 2014.

Consistent Voice Communications,


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