Typographical Surprises

Or, You’ve Just Gotta Laugh

Typos are the terror of the journalist and the scourge of the editor. In this technological age of word-processors, spelling checkers and state-of-the-art document sharing they should never happen. But take it from an overworked editor – they do, and more often than might seem apparent to the untrained eye. They range from the embarrassing to the downright silly when they slip on through. Once, in a thirty-six hour stretch of poverty-inspired freelance editing I accidentally changed the abbreviation for a mainland Chinese government department to that for a well-known Hong Kong kindergarten, to the outrage of the author who assumed an ulterior motive. What could I say? Dear client, I screwed up because I haven’t slept in two days . . .

So pity the poor Sydney Morning Herald sub-editor who let this one through earlier today. Discussing an advance that could make possible the cordless charging of electronic devices, or what Intel calls its “Wireless Energy Resonant Link”, the SMH quoted the company’s Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner as saying that:

It turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields.

Okay . . . so who spotted ‘elective fields’ instead of ‘electrical fields’? Not difficult, right? But after 8 hours no-one at the SMH has. Still, I’m not complaining. Just imagine the possibilities if the claim were literally true. Ballot-based charging? Electricity delivered according to your choice of optional course? Or maybe the quote really is accurate. Justin Rattner might be a little confused.

It’s a puzzling world. But sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh.

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