Tuesday 23 April 2013


Years ago, when I was teaching bioinformatics, I clagged together a page of queries that 'one' could sic on biological databases for a bit of light relief.  But it was also designed to point out that all data, even that published by reputable authorities (Youtube, Harvard, Reddit, CSIRO, Wikipedia, Friendface) should be approached with caution.  We all mek spelinge errurs.  That original page died with the end of INCBI but it has been cloned

Today, St George's Day, is traditionally associated with the birth of William Shakespeare, because a) he was baptised on 26th April b) he died on the 23rd April c) the English would like to consolidate the connexion between their patron saint and their patron bard.  So who was William Shakespeare?  There is controversy about whether the works of Shakespeare were written by him or by another fellow of the same name, but clearly the poor chap was confused in himself.  Scholars have agreed that there are six extant authentic signatures and none of them agree:

Willm Shakp
William Shaksper
Wm Shakspe
William Shakspere
Willm Shakspere
William Shakspeare
But these guys from the Arts Block are clearly on shakey ground (a joke may have just slipped past you there) because the data show:
that WS was really the comic duo William & Zhubstic - the former a rather slow straightman, the latter a zany Russian with extravagant orange tufts for hair and enormous shoes. Their schtick was later adapted by Matt Groening for the Simpsons.  But if the man himself(s) wasn't sure how to spell his own name, it's open season for the rest of us.  At least the following alphabetical list has been attested at some place and time to refer to him:
Saxpere,  Shagsper,  Shakees Pear,  Shakespear,  Shakespeare,  Shake-speare,  Shakespeart,  Shakespehar, Shakpear,  Shakspere,  Shaxper.
What to do?  The Oracle of Wikipedia has it “William_Shakespeare  so take note and obey, that is the New Normal as they have it nowadays on the Danske Bank ads on the wireless.

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