I’ve been misreading things even more often than usual lately. Two recent items: …in the difficult time after his resumption of coffee. (Was really “after his assumption of office.” (Magister Ludi, p. 315)) Non-OMG food. (Was really “Non-GMO food.”)

Plausible typos

Some typos are more harder to detect than others. I’m currently reading the 1989 Mandarin Paperbacks edition of C. J. Cherryh’s novel Downbelow Station, which is rife with the sort of typos that a spellchecker won’t catch, because the erroneous word is also a valid English word. (Okay, “rife” is an exaggeration; I really only […]


I like the phrase “I know, right?”, but I somehow almost never encounter a situation in which it seems like it would make sense for me to use it. But I think that may partly be due to my not noticing such opportunities when they occur. For example, I just came across a Facebook exchange […]


A 2013 SMBC comic that I just saw suggested that the superlative of Fourier is Fouriest. Which reminded me that in 1998, I found a typo in the dictionary. Here’s the email that I sent to Merriam-Webster about it: Hi. I was just leafing through my copy of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate, and I found […]

Endangered alphabets

I’ve long been fascinated by writing systems across languages and history. Languages, whether written or spoken, sometimes remind me of living organisms: Over time they not only change and adapt, but can become endangered and extinct. To reduce the chances of language extinction, the Endangered Alphabets Project aims to play an active role in preserving […]

Eshoo question

A metaphor I was amused by: “The $64,000 question is: How do we put socks on this octopus?” —Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, in a telephone town hall this evening. (A quick web search suggests that the socks/octopus thing is a relatively common phrase, but I hadn’t heard it before.)