Friday, May 22, 2015

Optimun* (for Optimum*)

If you're trying to write a poem (and if you haven't ever tried that, you should!) and you should happen to get stuck, you can always check out RhymeZone for suggestions. And to get into a sing-song mood first, you might even want to give a listen to an old Bob Crosby and the Bob-Cats number called "Way Back Home." (Bob Crosby was Bing's baby brother and fused traditional Dixieland jazz and emerging "Big Band" swing music.) The song consists of six main verses, each one containing up to six rhyming lines, and it starts out like this: "The roads are the dustiest / The winds are the gustiest / The gates are the rustiest / The pies are the crustiest / The songs, the lustiest / The friends, the trustiest / Way ba-ack home..." Each one of these line-ending words ends in —iest, and since we've already done the most common typo for the word rhyme, we're going to go with optimum instead, one of many synonyms or near-synonyms for the word superlative, according to There were three occurrences of Optimun* in OhioLINK today, and 263 in WorldCat.

(Count Basie and Bob Crosby, Howard Theatre, Washington DC, 1941, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Scenary (for Scenery)

The other day I heard a local newscaster remark, "Scenery is one of the things that make this state unique." Really? I thought scenery was one of those things that all places had, pretty much by definition. Of course, he meant the specific scenery found in New York State, not scenery in general, but as my 91-year-old Lebanese neighbor says (she learned this from her mother): "Everywhere you go, the earth is brown and the trees are green." During car rides as a child, my grandfather (an amateur painter and nature lover) would constantly adjure us kids to "watch the scenery." This was probably in part to make us stop squabbling and direct our attention outside the vehicle, but it also gave the word scenery a rather special import. I selected this picture because it depicts a gorgeous scene, although the author doesn't identify its actual location. Everywhere you go there's scenery and today's typo for this word appears nine times in OhioLINK, and 296 times in WorldCat.

(A beautiful photo of a bird flying high in the sky during sunset, 24 November 2011, from Wikmedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 18, 2015

Coucil* (for Council*)

A gentleman from the great state of Florida gave a wacky workshop last week on how to deal with women on the city council, who apparently "ask a lot of questions" and don't like to read financial data. The voters of Austin, Texas, had just elected their first largely female (10-1) council and staff naturally wanted some help with this nutty anomoly, so they turned to Jonathan K. Allen for his wise counsel. He advised them to be "patient" and to try and reframe monetary issues in ways more palatable to females. He suggested "playing nice" with the people you meet on these boards and things because you never know when they just might get elected and be the ones on top! When he got to the inevitable subject of Hillary, however, he suddenly seemed to stammer: "If Hillary Clinton just runs, just runs for the office, you are going to see even greater numbers in leadership positions," then adding: "If she wins, you will see even greater numbers starting at the bottom on top." I'm not sure what that even means, exactly, but it's true that there is no stopping progress. Or for that matter, regress. As someone famously once put it: "It's turtles all the way down." (An image depicted in various ways over the years, but perhaps nowhere so dramatically as in Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss—although the message there is a somewhat different one.) Also known as "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?" and "Who created God?" We probably should table those questions till our next council meeting, however, and end today by reporting that there were 32 cases of this typo in OhioLINK, and 1411 in WorldCat.

(Black-knobbed sawback hatchlings, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 15, 2015

Humantiy (for Humanity)

On May 15, 1925, Yusuf Ibrahim Yazbak, general secretary of the Lebanese People's Party, released a communist newspaper called الإنسانية (Al-Insaniyyah) in Syria and Lebanon. It was named after the French communist paper l'Humanité. A friend notes that it "seems almost meaningful" how the transliteration of the Arabic word for "humanity" is so like our English word insanity. I noticed this too, of course, and replied that I was tempted to make a mild joke of it somehow. Something about it reminding me of the Weird Mr. Yankovic, perhaps, or even Crazy Eddie, who would pretend to be a real mensch (his prices were IN-SA-A-A-A-A-ANE!), but was really anything but. However, I may be trying to divine too much humor from "humanity." The rabble-rousing rag lasted for just five issues before it was shut down by French authorities on June 6 and its editors and other party members arrested. Yazbak escaped to France, where apparently the natives were preferable to the colonialists who were then ruling his homeland. The French and the Arabs (who currently constitute the second largest ethnic group in that country) continue to have a fraught relationship, as can be attested to by various flashpoints ranging from the debate over Muslim head scarves to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. There were zero examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and ten of them in WorldCat.

(Al-Insaniyyah masthead, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lehman + Lehmann (for Lehmann or Lehman)

On an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show entitled "My Part-Time Wife," Laura fills in at Rob's office for a few days while Sally is out on leave. It's mostly secretarial work, but she's so good at it that it secretly infuriates her husband. At one point, Rob and Buddy are playing around with a possible joke and Rob goes, "What was the purpose of the journey to the center of the earth?" Without blinking an eye and barely looking up from her typing, Laura smirkingly replies: "To find out if it was chewy or chocolate cream!" Rob clearly thinks that she's showing off, but for a real know-it-all on the subject, he might've turned to Inge Lehmann, the Danish seismologist who, in 1936, proved what the center of the earth was really all about, namely "an inner core with physical properties distinct from the outer core's" and "not a single molten sphere." Inge Lehmann was born on May 13, 1888, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The daughter of an experimental psychologist, she attended a progressive high school operated by Hanna Adler, Niels Bohr's aunt. She died in Copenhagen too, in 1993, at the age of 104. She garnered a great many accolades and, perhaps most wonderfully of all, was once described as "the master of a black art for which no amount of computerising is likely to be a complete substitute." Lehmann was terrifically important, but the only reason I even know who she was is that I clicked the icon on Google's home page today. I seem to be seeing a lot of interesting women over there lately and was gratified to have my suspicions confirmed by the Washington Post this morning. So thank you, Google, and Happy Birthday, Inge Lehmann! There were 81 hits on this combined typo in OhioLINK, and 1476 in WorldCat. Certain of these records, however, do not contain typos, but rather variations in spelling or transliteration, as with genealogy resources and foreign language materials. Still, if you're willing to go to the core on this one today, you should be able to ultimately separate the chewy Lehmans from the creamy Lehmanns. (And watch out for Ingelehmann too. It's not a typo with a missing space; it's an asteroid from outer space, named in Inge's honor.)

(Portrait of Inge Lehmann, 1932, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 11, 2015

Harriett + Harriet (for Harriet or Harriett)

Harriet Quimby was born a hundred and forty years ago today, in the town of Arcadia, Michigan. Adventurous, ambitious, and well ahead of her time, Quimby had been a journalist in San Francisco and a theater critic in New York City for nearly a decade when she decided to take up flying in its somewhat scary salad days. She soon became the first woman to receive a pilot's license from the Aero Club of America, as well as the first one to cross the English Channel by air. (The latter feat was pretty much ignored by the news media, however, who were busy covering the sinking of the Titanic the day before.) Quimby was Amelia Earhart's role model; she was called "the bird girl" by her readers and the "Dresden China aviatrix" by reporters. Ever the eager self-promoter, she designed and wore a vivid lavender satin flight suit, which prompted Vin Fiz to recruit her as an ad icon for a new grape-flavored soda (reportedly, terrible stuff) following the death of the biplane's pioneering navigator Calbraith Perry Rodgers. Tragically, on July 1, 1912 (eleven months to the day after first getting her license), Quimby was also killed in a fluky flying accident. At an air show near Boston, Massachusetts, the plane she was in suddenly pitched forward, ejecting Quimby and the event's organizer William Willard into the waters below. It's believed that had they been wearing seat belts, which were not yet fully standard at the time, they probably would have survived the aircraft's soft landing. Horrific though it must have been, a 2012 article in the Atlantic rather poetically notes: "There were 5,000 spectators there to watch her fall, shimmering against the sky in her purple outfit." Along with being America's first lady of flight, Quimby also authored seven screenplays for director D.W. Griffith at Biograph Studios and even had a small part in one silent film, which is sadly no longer extant. Harriet Quimby was not one of those people who sit around waiting for the right to vote, the movies to start talking, or women to sprout wings. She walked the walk, flew like a hawk, and pretty much wrote the book on female aviation. Or at least the first few chapters. There were 71 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 892 in WorldCat.

(Harriet Quimby, 1875-1912, in the Moisant monoplane she learned to fly in, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 8, 2015

Meddic* (for Medicine, Medical, etc.)

The next time you have your nails done, you might want to consider tipping your manicurist handsomely.  In fact, think of it as a form of hazard pay.  According to a report in the New York Times today, medical evidence is starting to confirm what many in the business have known anecdotally for a long time—that the chemicals in all those nail products are harmful to your health.  Prolonged exposure means manicurists are more likely to experience respiratory or skin ailments, cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and a variety of other conditions.  Not surprisingly, history repeats itself again as regulatory agencies are slow to respond and the cosmetics industry opposes tightened restrictions.

There are 14 entries in OhioLINK for Meddic*, and 131 in WorldCat.  A fair number are for the proper name “Meddick.”

(Nail polish, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak