Ambrose Bierce

The day that Barack Obama went up with his most devastating ad of the 2012 campaign—quite possibly the most devastating Democratic general election ad in years—I happened to be reading Bill Marx’s review of a new Ambrose Bierce collection in the Columbia Journalism Review. It included this quote from Bierce (best known for his oft-anthologized "An Occurrence At Owl Creek") speaking about the power of ridicule:  “Ridicule, as I venture to use it myself,” wrote the author in the Chronicle in 1890, “seems to me to be the most excellent of offensive weapons because it hurts without damaging.

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This is the most recent item in a debate about humanitarian intervention.

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  Jan Freeman’s column Sunday, subbing for William Safire, on what Ambrose Bierce--along with others--considered “bad language” a hundred years ago was a delight. Ever been self-conscious about the difference between various and several?

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