Air on the side of caution: more misused pears

fun with homonyms

Mixmatched pear of shoes?

That’s advice I saw somewhere about how not to fall for scams:

“If you suspect the email could be legitimate, air on the side of caution anyway.”

It’s an error of course, not an airor. The expression is err on the side of caution.

Air and err are two homonyms that someone mixed up. Something I like to call misused pears. (Although actually the preferred pronunciation of “err” according to the American Heritage Dictionary is ur rather than air.)

Lots of people err when typing, but not on the side of caution. I wouldn’t advocate being so cautious as to look up every word in a dictionary, but at least learn what the right word is and then proofread!

But that mistake somehow reminds me of a sign I saw posted in a town where I used to live: “Do not air out your dog here.” I wish I had taken a picture of it. That sign isn’t a misused pear, just a very strange euphemism. Whoever posted it certainly didn’t care how much air came out of a dog! Continue reading

Happy birthday, Wikipedia


Wikipedia's Twitter page

Wikipedia’s Twitter page

Wikipedia just passed its 15th birthday. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what online information and online research were like before it burst on the scene. It is one of the first and by far the largest ventures in user-written content.

It is not, I repeat, not an authoritative source of information suitable for student papers or other serious research—unless perhaps it is the only available source. But that’s not because Wikipedia is created by volunteers instead of recognized experts. It’s because it’s an encyclopedia.

Continue reading

Raucous good times at the library

Library action figure with real shushing motion. Modeled on a respected librarian with a good sense of humor!

Library action figure with real shushing motion. Modeled on a respected librarian with a good sense of humor!

I hope the stereotype of a librarian as a frumpy woman with no friends and a fetish for quiet had a decent burial long ago.

Librarians are very creative people who enjoy having fun as much as anyone else.

A few years ago, I presented some videos of library book cart drill teams!
You might find similar shenanigans at a parade. Some librarian conferences have regular drill team competitions.

But what about singing, dancing, running, riding book carts, and even laughing aloud in the library itself? At the reference desk and circulation desk! Even in the stacks!! Librarians do all that and more in parody videos of popular songs. Continue reading

Recalls: Government websites you should know

government recallsIt seems like the news constantly brings word of new recalls. Sometimes it’s cars. Sometimes it’s food. Sometimes it’s toys.

There seems to be no limit to what can get recalled. What are we supposed to do, besides wait for the random news story, to keep up with them all?

Six government agencies have collaborated on a site for you to find information, report dangerous products, or just find safety tips. It’s called, logically enough, Continue reading

Victory for Google Books, larger victory for the public

book scanning for Google Books

Book scanning at the University of Michigan, one of the libraries participating in Google Books

Have any of your Google searches turned up pages from a book?

Google began to experiment with scanning books in 2002 and announced plans to establish a digital library, now known as Google Books, in 2004.

The project quickly became mired in controversy as the Authors Guild, some individual authors, and several major publishers sued Google for copyright infringement.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld a 2013 district court ruling on Authors Guild v. Google that Google’s activities constitute fair use under copyright law. The Authors Guild plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. Continue reading