August 2011

I’m a serial comma guy, and so is my good friend Andy. Unfortunately for Andy, serial commas are verboten at his workplace, and this requires him “to violate a fundamental law of that which is right and good.” (I might have said “right, good, and just.”)

Hoping to assuage his hardship, I whipped up a batch of cereal commas for him as a birthday gift. He’ll have to decide whether or not he can risk sneaking some into work.


Shown: eight cereal commas in various sizes. Four were made with Rice Krispies and Fruity Pebbles, and four were made with Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, and Alpha Bits. Also shown are two pieces of the Ateco Plain Comma Cutter Set with which they were cut [full set below].

Please note that the Ateco cutters are backwards. Instead of cutting comma shapes, they cut reversed comma shapes. Although their rolled edges prevented me from using them upside-down without injury, it was not difficult to turn the treats over after cutting. The treat at center left in the photo is unturned.


The authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.

Published annually by the United States Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia branch. Since 1878.

Slated for termination.

The 2012 budget does not include funding for the Statistical Compendia Branch which would mean the elimination of not only the Statistical Abstract, but all titles produced by that branch (State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA Counties, Quick Facts). No new editions would be produced in print or online. [source]

Cutting the branch will save $2.9 million, or just under $0.01 per American. The branch’s 24 employees will go.


“Killing the publication for the sake of a tiny saving would be a truly gratuitous step toward a dumbed-down country.” —Paul Krugman

“Without the Stat Abstract, statistics will become more hidden, and our collective knowledge will suffer.” —Robert J. Samuelson

“It democratizes knowledge by making enormous amounts of information comprehensible and easily accessible.” —E. J. Dionne

“Never heard of the Statistical Abstract? Go here. You’re in for a treat. ” —Ezra Klein

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