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Kevin B.'s Resources

As this is the first day of school in many places, the inner grammar teacher in me emerges. What does it mean to "like" someone? Have you noticed that when people or organizations ask you to "like" them on Facebook, the word "like" is always in quotation marks? In this posting, the word "like" is in quotation marks because I am referencing something someone... read more

We are often told that the United States is a democracy. This simply isn't true. In a democracy, everyone votes for everything. This is a completely unworkable system, except in small towns. We are, rather, a republic. This word comes from the Latin "Res Publica", which means "Public Thing", that is, the public has the say in determining who its decision makers are. We elect... read more

There are many works of art that are considered “classic”. What makes a book or play a “classic”? There seem to be no real set criteria, except to identify certain things that works of literature have in common. A “classic” play, for example, tells a great story and tells it well. We look at Shakespeare’s plays, for example, and they tell stories of love excitement, betrayal, and comedy. They... read more

Saudi Arabia is not exactly a plain; it is rather a plateau. It rises from sea level on the Gulf coast, near Jubail and the oil-producing areas, continues to rise gently until it reaches an area just before the coast near the Red Sea. On the mountains are the two holy cities: Meccah and Medinah. Somewhat between them is the vacation city of Taif. By law, non-Muslims are not allowed in either... read more

I was driving down Tidewater Drive in Norfolk and spotted an Ohio license plate. The plate read "Birthplace of Aviation". Being so close to North Carolina, we can see many license plates that read, "First in Flight". OK, who is correct? It's really quite simple: the Wright brothers assembled the parts for their flyer, if not the flyer itself in Dayton, Ohio. The first mechanical... read more

An “infinitive” is a verb without tense. By this, we mean there is no time attached to the verb. “Walk”, for example, is present tense, that is, “I walk”, “You walk”, and “He/She/It walks”. “Walked” would be the past tense: “I walked”, “You walked”, “He/She/It walked”. The present perfect tense would be “I have walked”, “You have walked”, “He/She/It has walked”. Infinitives, however, have... read more

One of the most wonderful things about Microsoft applications is that they can do so many marvelous things. Conversely, one of the most awful things about Microsoft applications is that they can do so many marvelous things. The reason behind this paradox is that the person using the application becomes so caught up in what the application can do that he forgets why he was using the application... read more

I can't believe what I just read. This week's Parade magazine (8/12/2012) gave a series of questions about "how we learn". This one caught my eye: "Next week your daughter has to give a big speech. The best way for her to prepare is to: (a) Look over her notes a few times. (b) Quiz herself, trying to recall the material from memory. or (c) Read outloud from her presentation outline... read more

We are told that language evolves, but it is probably more accurate to say that we actively change language. One example is the word "contact". "Contact" began life as a simple noun, meaning "touch" or "in close proximity". An example is "I had contact with him." We were accustomed to say "make contact" when we wanted to discuss proximity... read more

The apostrophe must be the most abused piece of punctuation in all of English Grammar. I was walking along a strip-mall and saw this amazing sight: "DVD's on sale". "DVD's" what? This is a terrible misuse of a very valuable piece of punctuation. There are two uses for the apostrophe: 1) To denote a contraction, and 2) To denote possession (usually). First, the contraction:... read more

Percy Ross, the millionaire who gave away his entire fortune, was once asked how someone could become a successful commercial speaker. Mr. Ross' answer was short, sweet, and to the point: "Have something to say." As obvious as this advice is, it is often ignored. We all have something to say, certainly, but we don't always know how to say it. One serious problem is that the speaker... read more