As an editor and teacher who has spent many years fighting the comma wars, I naturally read this City Lights post, and Samuelson's column, with great interest. Most of my students are so averse to commas that I have become something of a crusader on the topic, even though mastery is unobtainable.
I know no better comma story than this one (retold in Lynne Truss' "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"), which resulted from legendary comma battles between James Thurber and Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker. Someone once asked Thurber why a comma appeared in this sentence he wrote for the New Yorker: "After dinner, the men went into the living-room." Thurber replied, "This particular comma was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up."