i newspaper, March 3, 2018

This is unforgivable. The correct spelling is ‘dachshund’. ‘Daschund’ is not even close. It’s not even the right number of letters!

In the intro, ‘to opens’ is sheer carelessness. In the last par, is it really necessary to point out that Picasso was a painter, Brando an actor and Einstein a scientist? These must be among the best known names of all time, and anyone capable of reading a newspaper would not need the job descriptions. I can only assume that the person handling the story had not heard of them. Another case of taking money under false pretences.




The Times, April 2, 2018

This has just been shovelled through on autopilot – and a rotten autopilot at that. How can the Fischer-Spassky rivalry be a metaphor for the Cold War unless you say that Spassky is Russian? Similarly, how can you say Kramnik and Kasparov are compatriots without saying which country they come from (Russia)? And when someone has a distinctly Italian-sounding name, it would be interesting to say that Fabiano Caruano is Italian-American, and that he played for Italy from 2005 to 2015 when he switched allegiance to the US. (I didn’t know this stuff, but it was simplicity itself to find it.)

I’ve just noticed that in the fourth par it says that Caruano will challenge the ‘world champion’ Carlsen for his ‘world title’. I give up.


Sunday Express, April 1, 2018

For the nth time, anything that comes from an egg ‘hatches’ or ‘is hatched’. It is not ‘born’. Maybe I will see it done correctly before I die, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Ducklings are ‘nidifugous’ (Latin: nidus nest, fugere to flee) which means they are able to walk, swim and catch their own food as soon as they hatch. There are no ‘first tentative steps’. This is not an obscure piece of knowledge – anyone who has seen young ducklings must be aware of it. I’ve said it before – there seems to be an attitude these days that knowing anything about nature or science (or Latin, for that matter) is ‘nerdy’ and that it is a badge of honour to be ignorant. How sad.


The Times, March 28, 2018

Animals should always be referred to as ‘it’ unless there is a good reason to specify gender, for example a female protecting her young. In this case it is particularly silly to call the bird ‘he’ because male and female herons have identical plumage, so the casual observer could not possibly know if it was a male. The copy calls the heron ‘it’, so I suspect the caption was written by a different person – often a recipe for disaster. If caption and story are handled separately they must be cross-checked.

I have grave reservations about the story in any case – if you have ever seen a heron you will know it is the most timid of birds, unlikely to stand there while someone kills it. And how did he kill it? How did he get the duckling out? While we are at it, when did it happen? Where did it happen (North Wales is a big place)? Far too many unanswered questions for my liking.

As for the intro, the less said about that the better.





The Times, March 26, 2018

I would say 99.9 per cent of Times readers know that the spelling is Fanny Cradock, not Craddock. Presumably there is no one on the Times staff over the age of 12, but ‘it’s before my time’ is no excuse. Subs (and writers) have got to have a general knowledge extending before their own date of birth, and to get the name of a major figure of twentieth century popular culture wrong makes the paper look foolish. Moreover, readers will think ‘If they can’t get something as well-known as this right, can I trust anything else in the Times?’

I have to say that I think the expression ‘I thought I was for the pot’ is inappropriate these days. The anecdote would survive without it.


By Jonathan Amos BBC Science Correspondent

Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, is sliding towards the sea.

Scientists have established that the whole edifice on the Italian island of Sicily is edging in the direction of the Mediterranean at a rate of 14mm per year.

BBC  News Online, March 24, 2018

An edifice is a building, usually a grand one, but always man-made, so you cannot apply it to a volcano. The best word I can think of to use here would be ‘formation’ but why not just call it a mountain? I don’t think the word ‘whole’ adds anything.