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Comma Curiosities in the New Yorker

I noticed recently some rather curious comma choices in the New Yorker. Specifically, its editors seem to prefer to set off with commas prepositional phrases of "in" + a year. They don't do it all the time, but they seem to do it a lot lately. Some examples:

When he died, in 1984, he was remembered mostly for his popular study of multiple-personality disorder, written with Corbett Thigpen, “The Three Faces of Eve.”

After receiving his doctorate, in 1963, and returning to Vancouver, he set about what would be his life’s work.

Few experts understand counterinsurgency and counterterrorism better than this former Australian army officer and anthropology Ph.D, who has advised the American, British, and Australian governments, was one of General Petraeus’s strategic whizzes at the start of the surge, in early 2007, and writes so well that you’d never imagine he’s spent his whole career in government, the military, and academia.

His good looks, charm, and verbal skills—qualities that made him such an effective predator—convinced many in the Tacoma community that he was innocent, up until the time he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, in 1979.

Most editors whose work I see would make those

"When he died in 1984, he was ..."

"After receiving his doctorate in 1963 and returning to ..."

"... was one of General Patraeus's strategic whizzes at the start of the surge in early 2007 and writes so well ..."

"... he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1979."

Theirs are all valid choices. The writer or editor has a lot of freedom to decide which bits of information are "parenthetical" and thus should be set off with commas. But personally, I suspect this is just another example of the New Yorker thumbing its nose at conventional editing/writing wisdom.