Sunday, January 3, 2016


Good books spoiled
By ignorant authors


I recently complained about books by popular authors that are replete with errors of fact.

As examples, moving the University of South Florida to Miami (it's main campus is in Tampa); Another author who wrote about a no-goodnik who used a ".38 Beretta." I suspect the author didn't know there are .38s and .38s - S&W Specials for wheel guns, and .38 Super for the few semi-automatics that fire this caliber. I scoured the WWW and the only Berettas I found associated with with ".38" fired .380 ACP. The .380 ACP and the .38 Special S&W bullets are not interchangeable nor are the common .38.Special and the less common .38 Super.

The same author insisted on referring to semi-automatics as -automatics. There is a big difference:: with a semi-automatic, the trigger must be pulled once to fire one round; an automatic is akin to a machine gun - bullets keep firing as long as the trigger is held back (or until the magazine/clip is empty or the barrel warps).

There ARE .38 Super SEMI-automatics. Taurus made a nice .38 Super, but it no longer is produced. .38 Super seems to be a less than popular caliber.

A Cheaper Than Dirt advertising magazine has 12 pages listing nothing but ammunition in small type; in all 12 pages,.38 Super appears three (3) times compared to .38 Special that appears 13 times. Cheaper Than Dirt caters mostly to semi-automatics; .380 - a semi-auto caliber - has 13 entries.

In the same novel I learn that cop cars have red flashing sirens . I've seen red (and now, blue) flashing lights, and I have heard sirens of many types, but I never have seen nor heard a red flashing siren . Is it red because its siren sound embarrasses it?

The same author wrote that, at a fictional press conference, "flash bulbs went off like small rapid-fire explosions." Nice turn of phrase, but press photographers replaced bulbs with strobes by the 1960s. Someone - author, researcher, proofreader - failed to do their job - or was thinking of old monochrome movies such as the original Front Page.

I have never in my years as a "journalist" seen any professional photographer use bulbs. Too slow, too dangerous. Strobes replaced blubs on film cameras and some digi-cams.

Later on in the same book, the author, an Okie from Tulsa who apparently never SAW a firearm, has a character ask if a potential killer used a ".35-gauge sniper-scope rifle?"

There are so many things wrong in this one sentence. First, rifles are measured either in caliber (U.S.) or millimeters (elsewhere), not in "gauge" which is the measure for a shotgun bore. Dave Cushman has a web page that lists bore sizes from the monster 4 gauge (OD 1.2") to the small 67 gauge (OD 0.537"). Akin to wire and hypodermic needle sizes, the smaller the number the bigger the wire diameter/needle length. Worse, our author claims the gun is a POINT 35 (0.35/100) GAUGE. If 4 gauge OD is 1.2 inches, in my mind I'm picturing 0.35 gauge with an OD of a battleship's 16-inch gun.

I've seen sniper scopes MOUNTED on rifles, making them a "sniper-scope equipped rifle," but I've never seen a "sniper-scope rifle."

I am so frustrated at this point that I may never finish the tale.

Then there is grammar - or lack thereof

Grammar is another irritant. Someone put something "in" their pocket; correctly, they put something "inTO" their pocket. When I was in grammar school, a/k/a elementary or primary school - anyway, about third grade - the teacher graphically explained that "a boy jumped INTO the pond and joined other boys (already) IN the pond." I assume the boys were "skinny dipping," hence the absence of girls. (It was a different time with different mores, and the water was cleaner.)

The use of "over" is over the top when writers use it as a substitute for "more than" or "greater than." While I am certain followers of Fowler will disagree, "over" only means "above" something, even figuratively ("over the rainbow").

Whatever happened to "ly" endings that turned an adjective into an adverb? Your Dictionary provides some good examples of adverbs and when they are needed. A very common error that people make is to say "I ran to the store quick" or "He runs very quick." This is not the proper form of the word "quick." In both of these sentences, "quick" is modifying "ran" and "runs." Those words are verbs, and need to be modified by an adverb. Therefore, the appropriate form of the word to use is "quickly.". Gooder grammar - yes, I wrote that - is becoming a thing of the past. Again, I blame the misuse of adjectives as adverbs on sloppy proofreaders, the last bastions of proper use of the language.


A web search for .38 Super semi-automatics, both new and used, failed to find even one Beretta .38 Super. The caliber was missing from Beretta's own site. The most common .38 Super semi-automatic currently manufactured is from Colt

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