News You Can Use

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on December 16, 2013

The following is an excerpt from’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.

Question and Answer

  • “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Dasani?”–headline,, Dec. 13
  • “Vote Yes on the Bottled Water Ban”–headline, Harvard Crimson, Nov. 15

image1210News You Can Use 
“This Christmas Season, Consider Becoming a ‘Santa Truther’ “–headline, National Review Online, Dec. 11

Bottom Stories of the Day

  • “Canada to Phase Out Home Postal Delivery”–headline,, Dec. 12
  • “Canadian Women’s Hockey Coach Resigns”–headline, Reuters, Dec. 12

The Pause That Confuses 
From the Washington Times:

Britain’s Sky News posted this bulletin about the Nelson Mandela memorial service at 6:36 p.m. London time Tuesday: “Top stories: World leaders at Mandela tribute, Obama-Castro handshake and same-sex marriage date set.”

The prospect of a wedding between the two leaders got the Twitterverse tweeting.

“This is why the Oxford comma exists!” said Carole Blake, a literary agent in London.

The Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma, refers to the practice of putting a comma between the penultimate item in a list and the conjunction that ties together the list. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t use the serial comma, so we would write “X, Y and Z.” The Oxford High Street Journal, by contrast, would write “X, Y, and zed.”

The Sky News tweet could have used an Oxford comma, but making it a rule creates problems of its own. Years ago when we worked on the Journal’s op-ed desk, we received a submission from a writer who argued that the Oxford comma should be universally adopted so as to avoid ambiguities. We wrote back: “My boss, Max Boot, and I find your argument unpersuasive. Do two or three people find it unpersuasive?”

Of course the question would really be a stumper if we’d written the preceding sentence in the first-person plural.

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”