Baltimoreans refer all the time to the great university and hospital in their midst as "John Hopkins." Now someone an ocean away has taken up for those poor, misidentified institutions: Ian Mayes, the readers' editor for the Guardian newspaper in London
"Johns Hopkins has in the past week achieved the dubious distinction of sharing with Lucian Freud the title of the most persistently and frequently misspelt name in the Guardian," Mayes wrote earlier this fall. "Lucian (not, as I said so often in the corrections column, Lucien) is now, dare I say it, almost always spelt correctly. I would have said the same for Johns Hopkins until the recent outbreak.
"The erroneous and apparently irresistible John Hopkins was corrected five times between 1999 and 2002. It clearly had some effect: the paper and its readers have enjoyed a period of several years in which Johns Hopkins popped up very rarely without the required terminal s on both parts of his name."
But the s went missing again in October, after the British medical journal The Lancet published a study on post-invasion Iraqi deaths by Hopkins researchers. What followed, Mayes wrote, were two letters to the editor about the "John" Hopkins estimates. A correction. Then a story that made four s-less references to the place.
"It is a distinguished university that deserves to have its name spelt correctly," Mayes wrote, "even in the Guardian."
While the Brits have no doubt snapped to, the name continues to be mangled in Charm City. There's proof in the new Yellow Pages. Under Hopkins' appointment and referral service, it says: "Johnson Hopkins Hospital."
Help from Hopkins for the s-deficient
Both Hopkinses owe that pesky s to a 19th-century philanthropist who had the bucks to start a university and hospital, but the misfortune of a plural-sounding first name. It's been trouble since the start.
Mark Twain warned the school, about a decade after its founding in 1876, that the public "wouldn't have full confidence in a college that didn't know how to spell 'John.'"
"You know, the name is, um, is a very distinctive one, but it's also a very counterintuitive one," said Dennis O'Shea, spokesman for the university. "So it's very easy for people to get it wrong. And we're all the time trying to help people get it right."
To that end, the university tucks a piece of paper in press kits with a giant S on top ("it's Johns Hopkins University," it says.) The school and hospital gently correct s droppers, be they journalists or Northern Exposure's Dr. Joel Fleischman, who in a 1994 episode was involved in a "John" Hopkins clinical trial.
A Hopkins spokeswoman dashed off a letter to the show's producer, according to a story at the time in The (Hopkins) Gazette.
"'Dr. Joel' might have made it into Hopkins," it said, "if he could have gotten our name right."
Good reviews far away and close to home
What's more exciting to a newly published children's novelist - A great review in The New York Times? Or a five-star thumbs-up on Amazon from a young reader?
Well, to be honest, Laura Amy Schlitz is probably more thrilled about last Sunday's Times review. It used words like "delightful," "page-turning," and "fascinating" to describe A Drowned Maiden's Hair. The book, which started out in September as Amazon's 300,000th most popular seller, cracked 2,000 after the review. An earlier, equally positive review in the Wall Street Journal also boosted sales.
"It's exciting and overwhelming," said Schlitz, a longtime Park School librarian. "Even though I've always considered myself a conceited person, to keep having my expectations exceeded is disorienting."
Of course, Schlitz also appreciates the glowing review a Park student posted on Amazon, especially since it plugged her other book. (That one, The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy, is a nonfiction account of a "wonderful lunatic" of an archaeologist.)
"Wonderful book!" the young reviewer wrote. "Laura is my librarian and is amazingly gifted in the art of storytelling. I also recommend her other book - I used it for a research project."
Could this mean slots in the ballparks?
Outgoing Gov. Robert Ehrlich has been mostly mum about his job prospects. But on the radio with WBAL's Chip Franklin the other day, he sounded like he had his eye on Bud Selig's job.
Franklin: There's a possibility that you could be considered to be the commissioner of baseball in a year or so. And ... what a job!
Ehrlich: One thing I would do is hook up Chip Franklin for any game in any stadium in the United States of America.
Franklin: But then you would get calls from everybody like Peter Angelos saying, "Wait a second. Why aren't you tougher on the union?" And that kind of stuff. So really, you are prepared for the job.
Ehrlich: I am prepared for a lot of jobs, no doubt about that, particularly competitive jobs.
Selig said last Friday that he plans to retire when his contract expires in 2009. Is Ehrlich really on deck?
A Major League Baseball spokesman told The Sun's Childs Walker this week that no search process has begun and that it would be premature to discuss any names of possible replacements.