Archive for August, 2017

The lead editorial in Tuesday’s print edition of The New York Times contained a grammatical error so bad I read it four or five times trying to figure out if my eyes or my knowledge of the King’s English were failing me.

The editorial, titled “Drop the Bluster on North Korea,” urged the Trump administration to reach out to North Korea in an effort to initiate talks regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The last paragraph of the editorial went like this:

“Are the North Koreans even interested in talks? American experts who study the issue say there have been repeated signals in recent weeks that they is.”

The italics are mine because those are the two words at issue. “They” — as everyone with an eighth-grade education knows — is a plural subject, while “is,” is a singular verb.

Like I said, I was so confounded I read that sentence over and over to see if I was missing something. But no, there it was, clear and simple, a classic and embarrassing screw-up.

The next thing I did was read the paragraph to our daughter Brooks, who is also an avid Times reader. After reading it to her, I said, “That’s pretty funny, isn’t it?” And she replied, “It are.”

Today I put in a call to Phil Corbett, standards editor for the Times, to see if he knew about the screw-up and what his reaction was. He didn’t pick up, so I left a message. A few minutes later, he sent this email:

“Thanks for the call. My reaction: ugh. I assume something that egregious must have resulted from a last-minute editing change where someone didn’t read it over one more time. Glad they fixed it online, but ouch. Bear with us, and I hope that won’t happen again.”

…It was a bad error, but you gotta like it when the standards editor’s response is “Ugh.”


For almost a month, I’ve been wanting to follow up on the July 6 crash at K-7 and Parallel Parkway crash that killed Paul W. Scott, a 68-year-old Tonganoxie resident. Scott, a retired Johnson County firefighter, was sitting in his tan SUV that Thursday — stopped at the Parallel Parkway intersection — when a white SUV plowed into the rear of his vehicle. Scott’s SUV was pushed into a box truck, which, in turn struck a third SUV.

Paul W. Scott

Scott was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver of the white SUV was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The drivers of the other two vehicles escaped with minor injuries.

In a July 8 post, I said it was very likely the driver of the white SUV was not paying attention, and I speculated he might have been texting or dialing up a song on his phone. A week or so later, I called Officer Cameron Morgan, the KCK police public information officer, to see if charges had been filed. He told me a detective had the case and was investigating. I checked with Morgan a week or so later, and the answer was the same. Another week went by, and the answer was the same.

By the third check, I was starting to get suspicious…Could it be the driver of the white SUV was someone important? Or someone with connections, and law enforcement was playing the delay game or even trying to make the case go away?

Today I requested another update, and Officer Morgan sent me this response:

“The subject causing the accident has died so no charges will be filed.”

That’s about the last thing I expected to hear, but it didn’t answer all my questions.

I sent Morgan another email, asking for the driver’s name, age and city of residence. He replied:

“I’ll have to ask the detective but he’s not answering my call right now. I believe he died in Nebraska so you would have to check with that city if they released his name. I don’t believe they will though.”

Realizing I had assumed the driver had died of the “serious injuries” from the crash, I sent Morgan another email, asking if the man (note that Morgan used the word “he”) died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash and if he was a Nebraska resident.

Morgan answered one of my two questions…

“No, he didn’t die from injuries in the crash. I believe it was possibly suicide but you would have to confirm that with them.”

One of the things I love about the news business is the element of surprise. Not only will there be no charges but the man responsible for the crash is dead, in all probability having killed himself.

I would still like to know more: Who is this guy? Where did he live? How old was he? But with suicides, the information flow often dries up. What was a public case becomes a personal, family matter, and what he was doing behind the wheel on the morning of July 6 becomes moot…I think it’s fair to speculate, though, that the Parallel Parkway crash took not one life but two.

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