As many of my regular readers know, my wife has been a professional librarian (complete with her MLS degree) since before I met her 16 years ago. Every year, if she is going to take any vacation at all, the time she is most likely to take it is between the end of the fall semester and the start of the spring term.
Also, being an avid reader, this vacation is the most likely time for her to do large amounts of reading that does not relate to what colleges call “professional development”. One year, she read “Anna Karenina”. Another year, she decided to read Melville’s “Moby Dick”.
This year, she decided to fill in a gap in her science-fiction/fantasy reading. She chose to read the first book of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide” series.
Imagine my barely restrained peels of laughter Saturday evening when she brightly announced that she thought she had found the origin of the name of the “Google” search engine; promptly reading out a passage of the book where one of the characters is having a conversation with the massive artificial intelligence “Deep Thought” and she encountered the term “googleplex”.
I tried to be gentle as I suggested she check to see if the term Google might have a separate definition of its own, distinctly different than “googleplex”. She asked me 3-4 times if I was sure she would need to do that, to which I replied that the only way she would know for sure was to do the search herself. So she did.
Three minutes later she put the dictionary down and sternly announced, “I hate it when you’re right.”
The whole problem with modern US education is that there aren’t enough people willing to correct mistakes of understanding like this at the time they pop up, and as those mistakes pile up, entire academic careers become refuse dumps. I can’t let my wife go down that road. You should not settle for it with your families either.