Friday, October 31, 2014

Pscy* (for Psychic, Psychological, etc.)

What could be better on Halloween than a story about the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe?  While trolling for lesser-known facts about the author, I came across something appropriately eerie that might even be new to many of you.  In 1862, psychic medium Lizzie Doten published her book Poems from the Inner Life.  In it, she claimed some of the works originated from “conscious communion with disembodied spirits” of famous writers who had shuffled off this mortal coil.  (Indeed, Shakespeare was one of them.) Six of the poems are purported to come from Poe himself. About her experience with the spirit of Poe, Doten had this to say:

The influence of Poe was neither pleasant nor easy. I can only describe it as a species of mental intoxication. I was tortured with a feeling of great restlessness and irritability, and strange, incongruous images crowded my brain. Some were as bewildering and dazzling as the sun, others dark and repulsive.  Under his influence, particularly, I suffered the greatest exhaustion of vital energy, so much so, that after giving one of his poems, I was usually quite ill for several days.

But from his first poem to the last … was a marked, and rapid change. It would seem as though, in that higher life, where the opportunities for spiritual development far transcend those of earth, that by his quick and active perceptions he had seized upon the Divine Idea which was endeavoring to find expression through his life, both in Time and Eternity; and that from the moment this became apparent, with a volcanic energy, with the battle-strokes of a true hero, he had over-thrown every obstacle, and hewn a way through every barrier that impeded the free out-growth and manifestation of his diviner self…. As he last appeared to me, he was full of majesty and strength, self-poised and calm, and it would seem by the expression of his countenance, radiant with victory, that the reward promised to ‘him that over-cometh,' had been made his sure possession…. Upon earth he was a meteor light, flashing with a startling brilliancy across the intellectual firmament; but now he is a star of ever increasing magnitude, which has at length gravitated to its own place among the celestial spheres.

As Ripley’s would have it, “Believe It or Not!”  But there’s no doubt that Pscy* is a typo of high probability.  There are 61 English-language instances of it in OhioLINK and 502 in WorldCat.

(Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, 1849, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Postii* (for Positive, Position)

I will confess to being something of a cynic.  But do even those of you with the most positive outlooks on life find that motivational posters make you want to vomit? You know the ones--beautiful or (dare I say it?) inspiring pictures that are ruined with saccharine captions like “Teamwork: When all work together, we all win together” and “Goals: The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”

Enough people do find them laughable that there whole lines of spin-off posters devoted to lampooning them. Heck, I can get behind that same artwork if it’s accompanied by “Attitudes are contagious. Mine might kill you” or “Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

So have I disillusioned you too much, or might I yet motivate you to stamp out the typo Postii* in your library catalog? There are 10 such English-language errors in the OhioLINK database and 70 in WorldCat.

(Model of a saccharin molecule, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cocao (for Cocoa, Cacao, etc.)

“Cup of cocoa could give the elderly the memory of a 'typical 30 or 40-year-old'.” So reads the latest headline (this one from The Independent) about the benefits of chocolate, or more specifically, of the antioxidant flavanols found in cocoa beans.

Next come the usual disclaimers about the small size of the study being described and how more research needs to be done before scientists can truly interpret the results. But the most disappointing is the sort of statement that inevitably follows: “However, experts said the study did not mean people should eat more chocolate”. I’m so waiting for someone, somewhere, to finally say, yes, eat all the chocolate you want! Never mind all those calories and fat, the benefits far outweigh them!

And now we’ve wandered into fantasy land. Perhaps it would be best if we just stuck with cleaning up the error Cocao in our catalogs. There are 77 instances in WorldCat and 1 in OhioLINK. Hint: it’s a typo in several languages other than English, although you’ll have to evaluate each one carefully. And then, by all means, reward yourself with (a sensible amount of) chocolate.

Deb Kulczak

Friday, October 24, 2014

Eveden* (for Eviden*)

On another crime show the other night (I seem to watch a lot of these), the original suspect told a 911 operator that she had observed blood on her murdered friend's "headboard." This word somehow got transcribed as "forehead," however, and became a major part of the state's case against her. The investigator argued that the witness couldn't possibly have seen the victim's forehead since the body had been completely wrapped in trash bags and blankets. It's hard to know whether he made that error by mistake or on purpose, but if the latter, it was evidently an ingenious, if thoroughly corrupt, move, allowing for a certain plausible deniability. (Oops, typo!) In any case, it underscores the often critical importance of proofreading one's records; it can actually be a matter of life and death. We uncovered evidence of Eveden* twice in OhioLINK, and 57 times in WorldCat.

(Antique oak sleigh bed with high headboard, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oinion* (for Opinion* or Onion*)

With regard to some murder mystery or other recently, a commentator commented: "This is an onion that continues to unpeel." Which sounds laughably wrong at first, until you consider the alternative: "This is an onion that continues to be peeled" is arguably even worse. And not to make you hypercorrect grammar nazis cry, but it appears in fact that unpeel may actually be acceptable. (The adjective unpeeled is not in dispute.) It's sort of like ravel/unravel, flammable/inflammable, thaw/unthawwords that look like total opposites, but in fact mean pretty much the same thing. There was another mystery of sorts in my garden this past summer, in which some plants that looked a little like forgotten garlic, unharvested from the year before, started to turn up as I turned over the soil. I thought perhaps they were stunted garlics with tiny bulbs (which I now know as "field garlic"), though a fellow grower was of the opinion that they were probably wild onions. They're very tasty, but rather hard to peel. I only wish they could "unpeel" themselves! We uncovered just one Oinion* in OhioLINK today, along with 14 in WorldCat.

(Mixed onions, 15 June 2013, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 20, 2014

Haitain* (for Haitian*)

The other night on a TV crime show, the victim was said to have "baby doe eyes." This struck me as another one of those conflated idioms I've written about here before: doe-eyed, baby doll, baby blues, etc. The usage was a bit disconcerting at first, but you got the general idea and in a small way it actually made the sad story just that much more poignant. Speaking of murderers, Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier, the longtime Haitian dictator, passed away earlier this month as well. He succeeded his father, Fran├žois ("Papa Doc") Duvalier, at age 19, making him the youngest president in the world. He ruled Haiti from 1971 till 1986 when his reign was finally overthrown. After creating a vicious state militia, trafficking in illegal drugs, and selling the body parts of his countrymen in order to support his lavish lifestyle, Baby Doc was accused of the "zombification" of Haiti. Duvalier returned from France in 2011, after a nearly 20-year self-imposed time-out for bad behavior, whereupon he was promptly spanked with charges of embezzlement, abuse of power, and corruption. (The statute of limitations had run out on his most horrific crimes against humanity.) There were a lot of people still hatin' on this Haitian in 2014, though there were only two cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 21 in WorldCat.

(Photograph showing the now-deceased Jean-Claude Duvalier and his then wife, Michele, fleeing Haiti, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thansk* (for Thanks*)

I’m late on my blogging this week due to having stuffed myself into a sleepy haze on Monday – Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.

This got me wondering about the history of Thanksgiving in Canada, and I stumbled across a little document on the Canadian Heritage website.

It turns out, Thanksgiving first occurred here in 1799—before we were even officially a country. There was no set date until 1957, when a proclamation determined it would be the second Monday in October.

What really tickled me, however, was seeing the reasons proclaimed for holding Thanksgiving, which were often thanks for an abundant harvest, but sometimes differed from year to year. On Wednesday, 6 Feb. 1833, it was held for “Cessation of cholera,” and on Monday, 15 April 1872, “For restoration to health of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.”

And then there’s Thursday, 21 Apr. 1814, when Thanksgiving was held “For glorious victories over our enemies.” Looks like we didn’t always live up to the stereotype of friendly, polite, meek Canadians.

Leanne Olson

(Wild turkey photo by Gary M. Stoltz, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)