Sunday, September 19, 2010

NY Times Copy Editors II

I thought they were perfect. Now I read

Toiling Far Away for Philippine Dreams
Money sent home by Filipinos working abroad accounts for more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product.

No it doesn't. That money might be equal to 10% of GDP, but it accounts for 0% of GDP. It is included in GNP but not in GDP. Surely people have noticed that the middle letter in most announcements changed from an N to a D. What's the difference ? Well money coming from abroad in exchange for work or the use of capital minus money sent abroad that's the difference.

Now of course the genuinely weird thing is that the USA can be the worlds biggest debter and yet people didn't even notice the shift from reporting GNP to reporting GDP. That's because US GNP and GDP are very similar, because US owned assets abroad pay much higher return than foreign owned claims on the USA. This is the issue in the context of which Paul Krugman said "if they are smart enough to understand that, they are probabily smart enough to understand that zero is not an especially important number."

update: not to be outdone, a copy editor demonstrates that he or she doesn't know what the word "species" means

Different species, same name

Current FDA rules don't permit customers to know if salmon in stores has been genetically altered.

Lyndsey Layton

A genetically modified salmon is only a member of a different species if it can not produce fertile offspring with an un-modified salmon. I think it would be good policy to require genetically modified salmon to be modified so that they are a new species, because then if a few escape they won't contaminate the wild salmon gene pool. However, currently existing genetically modifies salmon are not a new species.

"Species" is not an obscure word nor is it a word with a controversial or ambiguous definition. Ignoring the definition and acting as if different genes imply a different species is not the sort of thing I like to know about a member of my species (with somewhat different genes) doing.

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