April 20, 2005

Does the Times need a ombudsgeek?


Nerds everywhere -- or at least in my house -- were apoplectic on finding two massive errors on facing pages of yesterday's New York Times. First, an article on the new language created for Jade Empire says that "In a twist, Tho Fan would do without the verb 'to be.'" Considering that the article spends a fair amount of time acknowledging the last true invented language, Klingon, shouldn't the writer know that Klingon was also originally created without "to be"? Hrumph!

But far more unforgivable is this: "The BBC has announced who will play Doctor Who in the next 13-part series of the cult science-fiction television show of the same name."

If I have to explain to you what's wrong with that you don't belong on this blog, or are here because the link from Drunken Stepfather [NSFW] fooled you into thinking there'd be celebrity nudity here. (Only sometimes, sorry).

Posted by Daniel Radosh


What do you expect from a newspaper that would actually print this:

"[Red velvet] cake is the subject of urban legend, which has it originating in the kitchens of the Waldorf-Astoria. A guest who sought revenge on the chef who had billed her for the recipe - for $300, in some versions of the story - started doling it out wherever she went."

Haven't they heard of Snopes.com?

Well, they're saying it's an urban legend. What's the problem?

My problem is that the urban legend is demonstratably false. Plenty of things are the subjects of urban legends, and most of these legends are never mentioned in the news. Mentioning this one in a paragraph about the history of the cake gives the impression that the Waldorf-Astoria legend is true (or at least plausible).

I still get emails claiming that African-Americans will lose their right to vote if the Voting Rights Act is not renewed by 2007. An article that mentioned in an aside "according to an urban legend blacks will lose the right to vote in 2007" would technically be true, but I wouldn't think highly of any paper that published that article.

Jeez, I knew the BBC's budget for "Dr. Who" was terrible, but you'd think they would have kept a little left over for wardrobe.

Jesse -- You're right, I guess. Reading it again I suspect what happened was that the original article had the story has a simple fact. An editor flagged it as an urban legend, and what ended up in the story was a compromise, allowing the writer to eat his red velvet cake and have it too.

The construction is more confusing than just whether the story of the recipe fee (which I had always heard as the Niemann-Marcus cookie recipe story) is true or false. I can't tell from the quote whether or not the chef at the Waldorf is the real inventor of the Red Velvet cake.

I also can't believe that all of the comments are responding to a comment that had nothing whatsoever to do with the original post.

I'm sorry, what? I'm still distracted by that "Beyond the Valley of the Daleks" cheesecake shot.

I've only seen the first Ecclestone episode and he's pretty good. Even Billie Piper you don't want to murder.

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