Sunday, March 29, 2015

Today in arithmetic

Sometimes, the journalistic number system seems to have been borrowed from "Watership Down": One, two, three, whatever.

The Download feature last Sunday misstated the recent anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. It was the 70th anniversary, not the 50th.

Here's the (now-corrected) passage that set the correction in motion:

With the 70th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden last month, I thought I would take the opportunity to read Vonnegut’s satirical view. Anniversaries are very good ways of prompting us to concentrate on different things.

Right -- for example, whether the late stages of World War II in Europe were going on at the same time as the American civil rights movement.

I hope it doesn't scare young editors when we say "do the math." Usually, we don't mean anything more fearsome than "do the arithmetic." But the main word is "do": When you see two numbers, or two numbers that imply a third number, do something with them.

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