Too early to call it a tradition, exactly, but one year ago I put up some examples of what I thought were decent turns of phrase accumulated during the preceding twelve months, and there were almost no complaints, so I figure I'd try it one more time. Besides, it beats coming up with an actual topic, you know?

The Secret Origin of a New York Times columnist, from "The Grey Lady and the children", 7 January:

"I think Maureen Dowd is the secret child of Disney's Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable, and whatever Type A personality traits she may have inherited from Kim are offset by Ron's intractable B-ness. Besides, Ron is sweet and goofy, and God forbid Maureen should ever show such a side."

No feigned compassion here, from "Keeping up with the cool kids", 25 January:

"I have never felt the overweening need to present myself as a Kind and Caring Person, and I have this weird idea that results are more important than process — cf. the ostensible War on Poverty, which costs at least as much as we spend perforating insurgents and has gone on for quite a bit longer without even the faintest suggestion of success. Or, for that matter, of an exit strategy."

The official lawn inventory, from "Seed money", 23 March:

"The lawn was characterized as 'fair,' in the sense that you would characterize the Antarctic as 'cool.' They consider eleven weed types to be controllable; I had five of them. Of ten potential lawn diseases, three were recognized. On the upside, I had acceptable thatch, and truly, how many of us can say that?"

A weird lapse in academic standards, from "Minus five for Dr Phil", 18 April:

"I admit to being a couple of generations behind, college-curriculum-wise, but I honestly can't see the value of offering ten extra-credit points for watching an episode of Oprah — especially in an English class, since whatever the technical term for the touchy-feely verbiage woven into the very fabric of that program, it bears only the faintest resemblance to actual English. Now if they assigned Futurama for physics, well, that's different."

On a complaint about the San Diego Padres' inexplicable lack of Latino players, from "I hear one of the Twins was an only child", 22 April:

"You think that's a shame? Not one of the San Francisco Giants is over six-foot-five. Talk about unrepresentative."

On developing a writing style, from "Reads great, less suing", 11 May:

"One of the happier byproducts of this whole blogging thing is that people are getting the sort of drill they used to get in English comp. Over the course of twenty-two years online, my style has gone from "well-nigh unreadable" to "not especially sucky," which is more of an improvement than you'd think."

A look at the American Association for Nude Recreation's Youth Outreach Program, from "Not many birthdays on that suit", 15 May:

"Out of curiosity, I downloaded the enrollment package, and the pièce de résistance is a multi-page (okay, two) Affidavit of Good Moral Character, which details a whole bunch of Thou Shalt Nots intended to disqualify anyone who might cast dark shadows on the lifestyle. On the cleanliness scale, the proverbial hound's tooth doesn't even come close. I can't really blame them: gotta keep the pervs out, after all. But while I haven't come close to these depths of depravity — okay, once I made us