Is it possible to affect the misuse of these words, or will I just drive myself crazy trying?
Effect. A noun (thing). A change that is a result of a cause.
The likely effect of this lesson will be to cause any reader who is not already aware of the proper usage of these words to stick his/her tongue out at me. Metaphorically. Or in actual fact.
In order to effect complete change in this area, it would be necessary to change the English language.
Well, damn, that was so unhelpful that now I'm confused. I don't have any neat mnemonic tricks for this one, it's too tricky (and I didn't even get into the less common meanings). My only advice is to read more. That's the only way I can keep this silly language straight.
Commenters? I know there are several of you who are dying to weigh in. If you can do a better job of explaining this is a way that's easy to remember, I'll redo the post.