Typos and Tips

Is Amazon.com's book search engine an instrument of left-wing corporate ideology?

You say tomato, I say tomahto. You type "abortion" on Amazon's Web site search engine, and it helpfully asks, "Did you mean adoption?" Or it did until recently, when, as The New York Times reported last week, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice complained. Said one clergy member–spokesperson, "I thought it was offensive. It represented an editorial position on their part."

No surprise that the company, wary of offending investors, quickly caved, changing that particular line of code in its typo-detection software. But what about other potentially controversial search terms, you ask? Our crack team of Seattle Weekly programmers set to work on the Amazon site, and here's what we discovered:

Iraq. "Did you mean Iran? Those WMDs have got to be in there someplace."

Guns. "Did you mean nuts? Or would you like to shop for trigger guards?"

Bush. "Did you mean Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (Vintage, $11) by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose?"

Oil. "Did you mean global warming? See our special on sunblock and air conditioners."

Cheney. "Did you mean chicken-hawk? See related searches: draft dodger, heartbeat from the presidency, Halliburton, corporate welfare."

Alito. "Did you mean Scalito?"

Katrina. "Did you mean Brownie?"

Monorail. "Did you mean pipe dream? Related searches: cults, conspiracies, The Jetsons."

Greg Nickels. "Did you mean Steinbrueck?"

Peter Steinbrueck. "Did you mean Nickels?"

Seattle SuperSonics. "Did you mean Bel-Square Warriors?"

Tim Eyman. "Did you mean homophobia?"

520 bridge. "Did you mean Titanic?"

Viaduct replacement. "Did you mean one resting seagull or violent sneeze away from collapse?

Seattle Earthquake Preparedness Plan. "Did you mean denial?"

Affordable Seattle housing. "Did you mean cardboard box, storage locker, or vacant SaniCan?"

Online dating. "Did you mean Russian roulette?"

Jeff Bezos. "Did you mean boyishly handsome visionary genius of Internet commerce?"

Amazon share price. "That term cannot be found."

bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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