Errors & Omissions: If you're going to mess about with numbers, get them right

Conversion course: One of the most frequent source of mistakes is the mania for converting currency amounts in newspapers. It is often unnecessary, which makes it all the worse when an editor gets it wrong, as someone did in editing Patrick Cockburn's Monday Essay about America's withdrawal from Iraq. He wrote that Iraq's entire military procurement budget for 2004-05, $1.2bn, was stolen.

With helpful intent, someone had inserted £780,000 in brackets after this amount. This understates the theft by a factor of a thousand. My feeling is that people either understand numbers or they don't. If someone understands billions they can probably cope with the idea in their head that a dollar is worth about two-thirds of a pound. In the rest of the article, dollar amounts of $50, $85m and $60bn were not converted. That is fine by me, and avoids the risk of making a distracting error.

Not disinteresting: Tom Mendelsohn's review of Lovebox – it is a pop music festival – on Tuesday said that Paloma Faith went through "her tired, white-bread standards to the disinterest of most". Disinterest is one of those words that has almost given up the ghost. It has a precise meaning, in disinterested, of being impartial – in the sense of not having an interest, or a stake, in the matter in hand. It is now used interchangeably with uninterested, to mean couldn't care less, and by back-formation disinterest means uninterest, except that there is no such word. The trouble is that "lack of interest" would not work in this context. The word for which the writer was searching his mental dictionary was indifference.

Getting our goose: Our Nature Club column on Tuesday was about the culling of Canada geese in New York to reduce the risk of bird strikes to aeroplanes. Andrew Lea writes to point out that it was illustrated with a photograph of "regular farmyard" geese. This is, he says, "as crass as illustrating an article on Shakespeare with a picture of Tom Stoppard on the basis that both are playwrights beginning with the letter S". He has a point.

Lawn makers: On Wednesday, Johann Hari wrote a romanticised comment about the right of self-obsessed so-called protesters to turn a pleasant patch of green opposite the Palace of Westminster into a pile of litter, after the site was finally cleared so that everyone else can enjoy it. He is entitled to his opinion, but it is notable how often the defenders of these supposedly ancient liberties, which were invented in this case nine years ago, get their history wrong. Hari wrote of "protesters being cleared from the lawn of the Mother of Parliaments". England, and not its Parliament, is the Mother of Parliaments.

Good and bad news: We committed a minor sin of editorialising in our report on Thursday of the Deputy Prime Minister's busy day at the office. His remark about the "illegal invasion of Iraq", we wrote, "overshadowed the good news that Mr Clegg brought to the Commons". Well, some people would say that declaring the Iraq war illegal when speaking for the Government was "good news", but they might accept that this was a matter of opinion rather than fact.

The good news to which we referred was that "the controversial family detention unit at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire is to close". Leaving aside the question of whether the word "controversial" is needed, its application to the detention unit should have alerted us to the existence of people to whom its closure is not necessarily good news. Of course, to most readers of The Independent, it is taken as read that detaining the children of people held for deportation is wrong. But there is another point of view, as there is on the legal status of military action in Iraq, which should not be prejudged by our news reporting.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album