Archive for the ‘Mistakes’ Category


October 3, 2015

Back on 9/23, I got e-mail from a representative of a California public radio station, sent at 9 a.m. (though I didn’t get to it until later), asking me to do an interview by phone for them at 11:45 that morning, on Yogi Berra and his language. Now, I was offended at the extremely short notice (though journalists do this to me a lot), and I had other reasons for not wanting to do it. After some thought, I decided to meet rudeness with rudeness and just delete the message.


Briefly: sources?

September 11, 2015

In looking up material for my recent goldenrod posting, I came across the site for the Herbal Extract Company, which claims to provide a goldenrod supplement for medicinal purposes. The site is a mess, with pages that look like templates, with no real content — like the goldenrod-sources page, which asks the question:

What foods are good sources of goldenrod?

but, so far as I can tell, provides no answers. My problem actually goes deeper than that, since I don’t understand the question. My guess was that it’s asking about sources of goldenrod ‘goldenrod extract’, in which case the sources are either goldenrod plants or companies like their own, but not foods. (In a slightly different context, it could be asking about sources of goldenrod ‘goldenrod honey’, in which case the answer is either the plants, or bees, or companies that sell foodstuffs like honey.)

My impression is that the wording of the question involves some sort of semantic reversal involving the noun sources, but I don’t see how to reformulate the question so that it asks something reasonable and could have a useful answer.


December 14, 2014

Running the rounds recently, the story of a university lecturer who ranted herself out of her job. From RawStory: “Florida St. communications lecturer resigns after bemoaning ‘Northern fagoot elitism’ on Facebook” by Scott Kaufman on the 10th:

A senior lecturer in the College of Business at Florida State University resigned over the weekend after she posted a torrent of racist, homophobic comments on a Facebook photograph of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The spelling FAGOOT was widely taken to be an illiteracy, but (though the woman seems to be thoroughly repellent) I very much doubt that that’s what was going on.