Friday, February 24, 2006

Correction: The Internet is seething mass of information and misinformation, and it seems I've done my part on the misinformation front.

Remember back, oh, 11 months ago when I wrote about the crazy family of Isaac Merritt Singer? It seems that I got it all wrong. Singer had 24 children instead of 22, Daisy Fellowes had four daughters and not three, and it was Virginia Woolf who made the comment about Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac, that " look at [her] you'd never think she ravished half the virgins in Paris..." and not the other way around.

How do I know that I was perpetrating a pack of lies and calumny? Because I got an e-mail telling me so from Sylvia Kahan, pianist, professor and author of Music's Modern Muse: A life of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac.

I asked Professor Kahan how the hell she happened on my falsehoods, and she replied that she periodically does a web search on "Winnaretta."

So, the moral of the story is, on the one hand, you can't trust the internet and we all do our part to make sure bad information is a gift that keeps on giving; on the other hand, there's a lot of room for self-correction and when you do lie, Professor Sylvia Kahan will definitely find you.

Now, if only we all had a Sylvia Kahan to keep us on our toes. I think she's the bee's knees.

The Swedish word for the day is förtänksam, which is the closest translation I can find to the English word circumspect. If you take the word apart, it literally translates to something like thinking aheadful, more or less, and seems to be more accurately translated as prudent.

- by Francis S.

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