Re: But now I'm a big G.

1

I was never taught cursive as such and always assumed that what people mean when they talk about it is what I learned as "joined-up writing," which is pretty much what you mean by point 1. The ability to jot down notes quickly is useful. Refusing to take the pen off the paper in the middle of a word is just silly. Also cursive 'G' looks horrible.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:12 AM
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Yes, it's not as if the style of handwriting taught in American schools is particularly beautiful, so there's little aesthetic loss to bemoan.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:17 AM
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I actually remember that G having two loops, one on each corner, like a horned owl, but I can't find one that matches my memory, so I wonder if I made that up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:18 AM
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I had an awful time with handwriting in grade school (just really, really poor eye-pencil coordination) and my handwriting is still slow, painful, and moderately insane looking (like, not conventionally illegible, it looks like someone who learned to write last week and isn't clear on how to hold the pen yet).

And I've found it inconvenient over the years -- it would have been very useful, all sorts of times, to be able to take quick legible notes, and that just doesn't work for me. So I tend to think that handwriting instruction, regardless of the style so long as it's something reasonably optimized for speed and legibility, is a good idea.

But I don't have terribly strong feelings about this. Newt and Sally's school either didn't teach them cursive or didn't take it seriously, they both print only, and I didn't do anything to remedy that. Sally's her father's daughter, and has a lovely clear hand that she naturally lays out in a graphically appealing way. Newt is my son, although not as bad as I was at the same age, and is barely legible and illiterate-looking until you actually read for content.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:22 AM
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3: Me too.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:26 AM
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There are nearly as many types of cursive writing as there are computer fonts (this may be an exaggeration, but not much), and most of them are a lot simpler than the one linked and do not include a capital G anything like that atrocity. The method standardly taught in American schools (I believe it's called "Palmer") isn't taught anywhere else in the world, I promise you.

I don't think teaching cursive should be an educational shibboleth for the good and sufficient reason that nobody is going to handwrite anything longer than a post it note ever again once they escape the clutches of the educational system. On the other hand, it's probably a good idea to encourage kids to understand that it's often quicker to join letters together, whether it's whole words or just ligatures of a couple of letters. You never know when the battery on your tablet is going to die.

There's another thing, which is that in a typewritten world there are access issues for people who for one reason or another can't learn to type fast. I don't know if anybody addresses this in education, but if not, they need to start yesterday.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:26 AM
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it would have been very useful, all sorts of times, to be able to take quick legible notes, and that just doesn't work for me.

But legibility almost always gets sacrificed for quickness. I don't think that's connected very well with cursive instruction in school.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:27 AM
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An interesting point about handwriting: your handwriting tends to be the same-ish whether you're writing on college-ruled paper or painting on a banner. So somehow your handwriting is more deeply structural to your brain than just a fine motor skill or gross motor skill.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:28 AM
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I had forgotten about struggling to get good handwriting grades in elementary school. I remember all the teachers hated my lowercase 'r' for one reason or another. Either the part that sticks up on the left was too short, or it was too long. I think the reason the teacher hated it switched from one year to the next.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:29 AM
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I am quite skeptical at that guy's claim that he can handwrite 80 words per minute.

His arguments about reading cursive at the archive are also stupid:

Those unable to write cursively, often experience difficulty reading the script of others. That was difficult enough in past times, but what we are seeing now is quasi-illiteracy in all things cursive. If a document hasn't been transcribed, students won't use it. Need I remind humanities professors how few documents have been transcribed?

First of all, arguing that every kid should be taught cursive because they might want to do archival research someday is insane. Second of all, there are already lots of cursive hands that are obsolete and can only be read by specialists. I am one of those specialists, and am currently working on things like this.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:31 AM
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Need I remind humanities professors how few documents have been transcribed?

Need he? Well, NEED HE????


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:34 AM
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Paleography for all! We are failing our children.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:35 AM
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I am doing my small part to make Webern's letters to Schoenberg accessible to the wider world. You're welcome, humanity.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:35 AM
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I'm certainly not attached to the way handwriting was taught in '70s NYC public schools, it did me no good at all. I'm just thinking that fast, clear writing would be a useful thing to know, so it would be a useful thing to teach.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:35 AM
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I see the guy at the link thinks "write" refers only to cursive writing, and everything else is "printing". Didn't that come up here before recently? It seems bizarre to me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:36 AM
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I write by hand a lot because nearly everything I do at work gets logged in my lab notebook, but I'm an outlier. I also have three distinct 'fonts' of handwriting that I use pretty much at random.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:36 AM
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After panic that I couldn't make sense of any of 10, I realised with relief that it's in German.

most of them are a lot simpler than the one linked and do not include a capital G anything like that atrocity. The method standardly taught in American schools (I believe it's called "Palmer") isn't taught anywhere else in the world, I promise you.

Indeed. Certainly wasn't what I learned.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:37 AM
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And:

One business leader tests perspective candidates by devising mock scenarios.

"Perspective" candidates, huh?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:37 AM
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I'd draw the same distinction where the nature of the hand was the topic under discussion -- that is, if I'm talking about the content, writing is any means of generating text, cursive, print, or typed. But if I'm talking about what you're doing with the pen, writing is writing and printing is printing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:38 AM
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19 to 15.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:38 AM
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The dude also makes false comparisons: his lightning fast handwriting (again, 60wpm by hand? yeah right) to someone who uses hung-and-peck typing.

An accomplished typist cranks out 60-80 words per minute (WPM). I can write faster than that even with my bad hand. To hit 60 WPM, you need to know how to touch-type, another skill that most students never acquire.

That's not an argument for teaching cursive, it's an argument for teaching typing.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:40 AM
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12 is right. He's actually arguing for teaching palaeography, not cursive writing.

He sort of has a point about exams. It's mad to make people write in an unfamiliar way in exam conditions, and it's bound to be detrimental to their performance. But the answer is to address the security issues with typing.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:40 AM
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And

A mind focused on a screen is less actively engaged with live speakers, be they professors or student peers.

This is also true of a mind focused on taking notes on paper.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:40 AM
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18: They are kind of stretched out and wider at the near bits, narrower for the far away bits.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:41 AM
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23: Everyone knows that electronic anything CHANGES YOUR BRAIN, whereas non-electronic things are wholesome and good.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:43 AM
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21: hung-and-peck, eh? Cock typing is slow and tedious indeed.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:43 AM
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21 60wpm by hand? yeah right

With his bad hand, even. He should have included video.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:43 AM
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The kind of instruction in cursive scripts I imagine being nice and sane would be something along the lines of offering some kind of elective workshop or art unit in italic script to, oh, let's say, third, fourth, and fifth graders.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:44 AM
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I think 24 is describing someone with big breasts and a tiny butt?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:44 AM
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Paleography is a motherfucker. (Still scarred.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:49 AM
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Of course the answer for note taking is to teach the little buggers Pitman.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:51 AM
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He thinks Kids These Days don't know how to touch type? What?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:51 AM
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31: I've daydreamed about that, and gone as far as getting a book and trying to teach myself. Then I gave it up as too hard.

Come to think, that'd be a natural tablet app -- "Teach yourself shorthand"? Someone should sell that, if it isn't there already.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:52 AM
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They had fucking better still teach D'Nealian.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:53 AM
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hung-and-peck, eh? Cock typing is slow and tedious indeed.

I guess that would more properly be hung-and-pecker typing.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:53 AM
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Isn't teaching cursive a cheap way to teach otherwise neglected fine motor skills? That's my only worry. I have excellent handwriting (insert Grice joke), but it's not the formal system I learned unless I want it to be.

(I never understood how one's handwriting was supposed to reveal deep things about one's personality, because mine changes all the time, depending on speed, writing implement, what I'm doing, etc.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:53 AM
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Also 8 hurts me, probably intentionally.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:55 AM
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37: You mean you haven't found the Handwriting Module yet? It's right there next to the Language Acquisition Device.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:56 AM
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Calling it deep structurally may be wrong, but it is interesting how your handwriting stays recognizable at different scales. My scrawling is recognizably the same whether it's on a post-it note or six inches high on a blackboard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:58 AM
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There honest to god sort of is a font-reading area.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:59 AM
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37/39: What I mean is that the folds of one's brain resemble their handwriting. LB's is an ungodly mess.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 7:59 AM
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Of course the answer for note taking is to teach the little buggers Pitman.

All the cool kids are learning Teeline.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:00 AM
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39: it is possible to translate your motor learning for handwriting to different scales. Is that the same for other kinds of motor learning? Could you easily tie a giant pair of shoes? It might be the case that there's something special about the way handwriting is learned and represented as a motor action, but it also might not be, and either way that's no reason to say it's "deeper" than any other overlearned motor skill.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:01 AM
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41: aha! AHA!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:01 AM
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I never understood how one's handwriting was supposed to reveal deep things about one's personality, because mine changes all the time, depending on speed, writing implement, what I'm doing, etc.

Also, handwritings from lots of different countries can be easily identified. German handwriting is really shockingly uniform, and also seems to show less gender variation than U.S. handwriting. Greeks and Russians writing the Latin alphabet are also pretty recognizable. (Probably others are too, I just don't know them.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:02 AM
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What is up with the gender variation in US handwriting? I had a boyish writing style from a time when I was much too young to have taken it on deliberately, but tall, thin letters just looked more appealing than ones that were more bubbly.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:06 AM
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Here is a paper that argues for scale invariance as a general, universal psychological principle.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:07 AM
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There honest to god sort of is a font-reading area.

Calling the VWFA "sort of... a font-reading area" is designed to pain me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:09 AM
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Assuming she's not still furious at all of us, it would be interesting to hear from Messily whether scale invariance obtains in sign language accent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:09 AM
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48: yes, I thought I'd pay forward the jargon misuse.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:09 AM
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it is possible to translate your motor learning for handwriting to different scales. Is that the same for other kinds of motor learning? Could you easily tie a giant pair of shoes?

I've always wondered why soccer players were so good at foosball.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:10 AM
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51: because soccer involves twirling giant wooden men on sticks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:10 AM
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If a blind man had only seen tiny marbles and then regained his sight, would he recognize DEEZ...no, I'm not going to finish that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:11 AM
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If a person was used to making tiny, stupid jokes, could they make a really big, funny joke?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:11 AM
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because soccer involves twirling giant wooden men on sticks.

Welcome to my league.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:16 AM
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Here is a much nuttier paper about the implications of scale invariance as an organizing principle in the brain.

(Nutty, but awesome.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:18 AM
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Our new Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, might be able to get away with scrawling gibberish across a page, but ask yourself: Would you hire some kid who can't sign his or her own name?

You sir, are an idiot. You might want to get that looked at.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:20 AM
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What is up with the gender variation in US handwriting? I had a boyish writing style from a time when I was much too young to have taken it on deliberately, but tall, thin letters just looked more appealing than ones that were more bubbly.

What exactly is the gender variation, beyond, I don't know, dotting 'i's with hearts? Can anyone provide some archetypal examples of "male" and "female" handwriting?



Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:21 AM
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I'm not furious with anyone. But I am about to go into a super fun meeting for my super fun tenure-track search committee. I'll come back later to see if you've all switched to food and/or bikes yet.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:23 AM
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This is probably not related. GWB was an awful president and probably a war criminal but his bathroom paintings are objectively hilarious and awesome. I think there is a good chance he was a lazy and somewhat pleasant person ill-suited for the presidency, taken advantage of by his father's evil cronies. We can only know so much. Invading Iraq was awful in every regard, but given that he already did that, I'm glad he's painting now.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:23 AM
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I am astounded at how bad I am at reading the cursive that I come across in doing family genealogical work. Looking at some of it (lat 19th/early 20th century) almost makes me seasick. A bunch of fucking slanty loops.

My writing and printing are nearly equally unintelligible--I lose focus part way through words and they jsut tail off. I can't even take down a phone number. I think because it is so boring.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:25 AM
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We had to learn cursive in third grade. We also spent a lot of time learning about Brazil because my teacher went there and took pictures. It took me awhile to stop hating Brazil. I never liked cursive, never saw the point.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:26 AM
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I remember being 100% certain in elementary school that handwriting instruction would turn out to be completely useless in later life and hey I was right. I even later took a paleography class and was like some kind of bad ass paleography savant but guess what still no regrets about not learning to write cursive myself.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:26 AM
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58: I don't know if I can really define it. The best quick hit I found was a page for trans* people who are trying to change their handwriting to match their gender presentation. I do agree with the feminine handwriting samples as reading feminine to me, but would have pegged at least the top of the masculine handwriting examples as more feminine.

I'm totally basing this on people who went to school with me, since I knew their handwriting well. Almost the boys and a few of us girls wrote with letters that were tall and angular whether printing or in script. Most of the girls and a boy or two had more deliberate-looking, rounder, wider letters.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:28 AM
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The French were weirdly super into handwriting-as-revealing-deep-personality-traits, to the point where (I heard) businesses in the 1980s would do handwriting analyses for employees, etc. I wonder if that's still true.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:31 AM
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A mind focused on a screen is less actively engaged with live speakers, be they professors or student peers.

This is also true of a mind focused on taking notes on paper.

BUT WHAT ABOUT DOODLING?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:32 AM
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From the link in 47:

Distributions of many environmental magnitudes are observed to be scale invariant; that is, the statistical structure of the world remains the same at different measurement scales [Mandelbrot, B., 1982. The Fractal Geometry of Nature (2nd Edn.). W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, CA; Bak, P., 1997. How Nature Works: The Science of Self-organized Criticality. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK].

STOP IT YOU'RE HURTING ME


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:36 AM
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Payin' it forward, doot doot dee doo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:39 AM
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STOP IT YOU'RE HURTING ME

Yeah, essear, why don't you stupid physicists just extrapolate downwards? God.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:43 AM
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The story of "Graphology" or the pseudo science of personality evaluation through handwriting looks pretty interesting. Lots of respectable people taken in until very recently by what looks to be pretty much just something like Phrenology.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:43 AM
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I think in some ways handwriting instruction inhibits quick, sloppy joined-up writing. The handwriting system I was taught has you end s and x on the left side of the letter. Seems like it would be marginally quicker to reverse the direction so you end up on the right side.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:46 AM
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Hey essear, I read yesterday that twins have a telepathic connection because their brain cells entered a quantum entaglement state when they were still one embryo.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:46 AM
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72 is amazing.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:47 AM
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65. "Graphology" was briefly popular among recruiters in Britain too. All gone now.

My mother in law was into it in a big way. She was batshit insane in every other respect as well.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:47 AM
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Is my link in 71 broken? I meant it to go here: http://www.dnealian.com/images/le-illustration1.gif


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:47 AM
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I could see it as having been more useful in the past. Not science, as such, but for people whose handwriting was developed partially as a means of self-presentation (which I think was truer in the past than it is now, when it's just not a big deal for many people at all), looking at their handwriting might tell you something about them often enough to be interesting. Like looking at people's fashion decisions -- not that it's science, but it's sometimes going to tell you something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:48 AM
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At least we can all agree with LB in 4 that handwriting is genetic.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:49 AM
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71: Your 's' and 'x' are compatible with the cursive I was taught -- you join an 's' to the next letter with a curve under it from where it ends on the lower left, and you do only the first stroke of the 'x' while writing the word, and then come back and cross it like a 't'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:52 AM
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77: Genetic, schmnetic, but the chicken-scratch runs in the family somehow. (Admittedly, with one graphically adept parent and one hopeless case, pretty much any sort of kid could be explained as running in the family.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:53 AM
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I bet math handwriting is easy to spot. Capital U has to have a little tail to distinguish it from the union symbol, little k needs a loop to distinguish it from big K, etc.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:54 AM
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78: Right, but that means kids are being taught to print in a way that is compatible with attractive loopy cursive, not the way that is compatible with quick sloppy note-taking. It undercuts the argument for cursive being quicker, I think. A writing system optimized for speed would look different.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:56 AM
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It doesn't really matter how you feel about him. We can all be glad that GWB is painting, for whatever reason we choose to hold.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:57 AM
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79: I kind of think it is genetic. Mine resembles my mom's, with a few deleterious mutations, and I can't believe I read her's enough to subconsciously copy it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:57 AM
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I just had to teach Nia to make > and


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:58 AM
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I sign my name with a chop. Anyone who doesn't like it can, well, spend their time more profitably caring about something else.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:59 AM
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Oh, hell, stupid rules here about signs! Basically, she can't do greater-than or less-than because she couldn't keep the angle steady and that sort of defeats the purpose of differentiating between the two. Tracing worked fine, but as soon as she started to copy, the angles got all wonky again. So I started having her make two dots on the big side and one dot in the middle (first did it myself three times and had her connect them, of course) and it she got it immediately and was even able to tell me that she only has to make the dots in her head now. However, I would hate to have to go through this with 25 other 6-year-olds and am so grateful that I don't teach handwriting.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:01 AM
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I really need to train myself to make mathy lower-case t's and y's on the board.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:03 AM
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81: This is likely to just be conservative instinct talking, but I think that's about legibility rather than attractiveness. Starting a ligature from the top-right of an 's' looks to me as if it'd turn the 's' into an ambiguous hump instantly. The fast, sloppy solution, if you thought the conventional cursive form would be too slow, would be to skip that ligature and just start the next letter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:04 AM
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Rather than teaching people cursive to train them for archival research, we should teach them to write greek letters for their math and science classes.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:07 AM
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A writing system optimized for speed would look different.

Like shorthand, presumably.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:12 AM
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89: Or just teach them Greek. My gammas are not very good because I started making them in Physics at 13 rather than in Greek at 17.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:13 AM
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Am I the only one who tried teaching themselves calligraphy to improve their handwriting? Had no effect at all. My calligraphy was always kind of terrible, and there wasn't any spillover to my natural handwriting.

Then for a while I was writing letters with a broad-nibbed dip pen, in the theory that the pen would constrain my handwriting and make it more legible. I think it did make it more attractive, looking illegibly archaic rather than illegibly insane, but didn't have any effect when not using a silly pen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:14 AM
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They should teach shorthand if they're so crazy mad for note-taking. I wish I knew it. [pwned over and over again.]

I scrapped my signature at the end of high school and made a new, better one without the standard cursive G because I don't like it.

oh and 13: Thank you!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:21 AM
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We've had this discussion at least twice before. I will add one new thing, that I'd explain engineers' printing to everyone and then deep-six those goddamn junk-producing embossed plastic label makers. Hate those. Also, not useful in circs where the labels won't stick, and who carries them around everywhere?

An old thing; I still recommend Dubay & Getty for a practical fast legible hand, what they call `cursive italic handwriting'. It connects up some letter pairs but not all of them; they avoid connecting loops on the grounds that they're too easy to confuse with letterforms.

I'll be mildly surprised if abandoning handwriting doesn't have any effect on human behavior -- does this make the permanently-wired literate with each other and those on the outs with their data co. not? No notes on the kitchen counter? chalk talks? warnings written with a stick in the mud at the crossing of trails? secret codes with invented symbols? explanations or warnings or notes for adjustment written onto furniture carcases, back panels of equipment, dress patterns? Well, okay, but it seems thin to me.

Less archaic, more surprising: lots of my undergrads can't touch type. They all hunch over laptops and the screen and fingers are in the same field of view. I think they'll be hurting badly from this by 30 (not the inability to touch-type, the terrible posture, which they will have to maintain until they've learned to touch-type).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:23 AM
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92: I kind of did that, too. Well I didn't learn calligraphy with the express purpose of improving my writing but I tried to make my printing more like calligraphy afterwards. As a result, my printing is ugly and illegible. Also, I guess because I type so much, I make tons of very basic errors when writing by hand, constantly writing the wrong letter &c.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:23 AM
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81 gets it right. I use cursive because it's faster, but my "cursive" does not involve the cursive capital letters for example.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:27 AM
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92, 95: At 13 I tried to make my handwriting look like (a) Arrighi's Operina chancery hand and (b) Arabic. Now that I leave off most of the flourishes, it's still serviceable. Greek crept in during math classes.

On the other hand, I'm left-handed enough, and Palmer script is *so vile* for left-handers, that I didn't have anything functional to replace.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:27 AM
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I created my signature in the third grade. The R looks a lot like a Z with a line through it. Since then it has evolved somewhat and the R has come to look more like a standard R. Sometimes it's half-cursive, but never all the way, because the cursive R looks stupid in my handwriting.

Originally the signature involved some underlines too but those have long since been discarded.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:30 AM
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The cursive capital letters I was taught are really all awful. Even writing script, I basically print the capitals. The really excruciating ones are A (only distinguishable from lowercase by size), G, I, K, Q, S, and Z, but none of them are either fast or attractive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:30 AM
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I was taught , I believe correctly, that if your signature is just your name in "proper" cursive then you look like a chump.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:33 AM
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(The subject line reminds me of how when there are two people with my first name at a workplace or other setting, someone will sometimes suggest "Big [name]" and "Little [name]" as a way of distinguishing, and I have gotten good at very succinctly convincing them that this is not how it is going to go down.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:34 AM
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I dunno, I think the chumps are people who spend a lot of time thinking about their signatures in adulthood.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:35 AM
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100: I was never actually taught this, but I guess I believe it -- that there's something weird about anyone who signs their name by writing it legibly in the same manner they'd write another word.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:36 AM
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But the biggest sort of chump would not even be able to be truthful in talking about his theory of signatures because he is only capable of making veiled insults and can't have actual conversations about anything.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:36 AM
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Then again chumps are always trying to find ways to call people chumps. I don't have the patience for it and usually just say it directly when I think someone's an idiot.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:39 AM
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10- The bigger problem with reading that document seems to be the scan-through of the back side of the page. Need I remind people to adjust their scanner settings?
I was hoping this guy at some point also wrote an essay about how we shouldn't teach so much math because who ever needs to figure out the cosine of an angle? Didn't see anything like that, but he is down with old school lecturing presumably writing by hand on a blackboard.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:40 AM
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The only thing my mother ever wrote in cursive was her signature. She was left-handed and wrote everything else in large and small caps, which she was able to do quickly and extremely neatly.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:46 AM
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there's something weird about anyone who signs their name by writing it legibly in the same manner they'd write another word

I tend to think just the opposite, that some sort of special signature is weirdly affected. I was kind of weirded out to realize at some point that so many people have a signature they deliberately designed. Then again, I have an unusually developed and distinctive cursive hand, so maybe just writing my name is different enough.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:50 AM
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Huh. Affected, maybe, but weirdly? I hardly ever see a signature that's really someone just writing their name, some kind of either purposeful or at least degenerate (in my case) variation from their normal script is almost universal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:54 AM
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Isn't it partially an anti-forgery thing?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:56 AM
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110: That's how I've always understood it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:57 AM
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Also speed: mine changed a lot the first time I had a job that required signing off on stuff regularly. Huh. How do the typing generations handle that?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:59 AM
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I was always enamored of the anti-forgery Chinese number characters - preventing, for example, a one (一) from being turned into a ten (十). 一二三四五 become 壱弐参四伍.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:03 AM
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mine changed a lot the first time I had a job that required signing off on stuff regularly

I don't even have this excuse. My signature has gone from precisely my name written out in cursive to an illegible scrawl, just with the passage of time.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:03 AM
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My signature is so illegible that not a single letter can be made out.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:05 AM
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I dunno, I've just never understood it. I can see it looking different for the sake of speed. For that reason I dropped my first name but for the initial in my signature, but it still just looks like my first initial + last name.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:05 AM
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One of my grandmothers wrote a lovely Spencerian, but used a modern pen so didn't get the thick-thin stroke differentiation it needs. When I went to college I got a nice note in copperplate style from some very ancient great-aunts who did have the thick-thin differentiation; we peered and peered and decided they were using a dipping nib. It was like a time-travelling letter.

I remember watching the Spencerian grandmother write. It was leisurely. She was stately about everything, so Spencerian might not have been the primary cause. Mm, calligraphers practice having relaxed free bodies while writing, the leisure might be useful in keeping the hand pretty.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:10 AM
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49 (it would be interesting to hear from Messily whether scale invariance obtains in sign language accent)

I'm not a hundred percent sure I understand what this question means, but also "accent" is not a well-defined concept in sign languages yet. Mostly people use it to mean variations in hand configuration, which are not susceptible to any scaling up or down. Variations in scale come in to play primarily in sort of register/volume type things, where signs are bigger when people are farther apart or on stage or something, and smaller in a more whispery setting. Individual accent is still perceptible, or it can be at least if something else (register) isn't interfering.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:18 AM
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Oh, hell, stupid rules here about signs!

It's not "rules here," it's a consequence of HTML.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:21 AM
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My signature is so illegible that not a single letter can be made out.

Mine too, and then some.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:22 AM
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It's not "rules here," it's a consequence of HTML.

Though I suppose that qualifies as part of the rules here, so hey.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:23 AM
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one of the things I don't like about my kids school is that the emphasis on cursive writing. All of the homework has to be in cursive. It is ridiculous,


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:25 AM
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I carefully designed my signature when I was about 12, as one does, and since then it's degenerated into a meaningless scrawl that I can replicate accurately about one attempt in five.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:26 AM
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Interesting... Presumably you could try to show that accent *exists* without identifying how to *describe* it, just by showing that people can consistently identify where people went to school by observing a signing sample. Though I guess it'd be a little tricky because you'd have to make sure that this wasn't just vocabulary variation, and given the amount of vocabulary variation that might be difficult.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:28 AM
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I've always operated under the assumption that signatures are more or less supposed to be illegible. The content of a signature is essentially arbitrary - all that matters is that it's effectively unique and that its consistent between signings.

That said, my signature is just my name more or less as I would write it, on the grounds that my handwriting and drawing is so bad that's the only thing I can reliably get to be self-consistent.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:37 AM
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One could have experts try to match videos of people signing normally to them shouting, with the signer sufficiently disguised or perhaps motion captured. See if certain subjects get confused for each other.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:39 AM
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My bank put a hold on a rent check a couple months ago, and called me to make sure I had written it, because, they said, the signature did not match the one they have on file.

(a) I did not know someone actually looked at the signatures on checks. In fact I was pretty sure they didn't.

(b) It looks exactly the same as the signature on every other check I have ever written for that account. I double checked. Crazy bank people.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:41 AM
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126 is confusing, given the two coexisting subthreads. You make a video of you writing 'Cyrus Q Eggplant' at the bottom of a document, and then one of you bawling incontinently at your kids...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:48 AM
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124- Oh, it definitely exists. People just haven't come to any sort of consensus about how to describe/define it. I'm not sure taking vocabulary out of the picture is necessary (the line between accent and dialect is pretty fuzzy for spoken languages too). The main problems right now are lack of adequately tagged corpora of any size and lack of agreement about the phonetic and phonological structures of signs.

People are doing interesting stuff with this for British Sign Language but they haven't moved (yet) past vocabulary variation.

The main kind of accent people talk about with ASL is a "hearing accent", meant to indicate that the person is both not deaf and not a native signer.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:48 AM
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Interesting. I would have guessed that distinguishing between deaf and hearing non-native signers would be difficult.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:52 AM
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Please googleproof, chris y.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:53 AM
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119: Yes, you're right. I just only seem to forget about that here because I'm not thinking about typing in html. I was frustrated with myself for making a stupid mistake.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:55 AM
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I didn't mean to be a scold, just a pedant! Because everyone loves a pedant, obviously.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:56 AM
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everyone loves a pedant

Ideal mouseover text forever!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:57 AM
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124: Couldn't you just give the filmed signers an invariant script, written to avoid any obvious vocabulary variations?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 10:59 AM
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My bank put a hold on a rent check a couple months ago, and called me to make sure I had written it, because, they said, the signature did not match the one they have on file.

This happened to a roommate of mine once. She ended up going to the bank to compare, and indeed, the signature on file was several years old, and her current signature had morphed a decent amount since then, without her having realized it. I wondered if the rejected check was the first one that had gotten far enough from the file signature to register difference, or if it was the first one they had happened to check since whatever noticeable difference had occurred.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 11:01 AM
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When I was in 6th grade, I started underlining my last name, to make some sort of symmetry with dramatically crossing the t in my first name. I still do it most times, out of loyalty or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 11:10 AM
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Eh, what the hell. I'm sick of going by my last name.


Posted by: Cyrus Q | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 11:11 AM
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She ended up going to the bank to compare, and indeed, the signature on file was several years old, and her current signature had morphed a decent amount since then, without her having realized it.

Isn't there a Sherlock Holmes story where he deduces that a young man does not have a bank account, from the fact that his signature is still clear rather than having been worn down by signing countless cheques?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 11:27 AM
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135: like, a script in ASL?

My signature is febrile. My handwriting is better than it once was, because I decided to return to writing lower-case letters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 12:49 PM
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Yes, a script in ASL -- I'm incredibly ignorant, but there's got to be some system of notation with which you could specify "use these signs in this order." Or if there isn't, have the various signers all watch the same video of someone else signing, and have them reproduce those signs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 12:56 PM
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141: I think it's more complicated than that? Like, there are notation systems that are used in academic contexts, but it would be a bit like writing a script out in IPA; you're specifying a fair bit of what you would want to leave to accent. I also don't actually know anything, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 12:59 PM
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I suppose I should have googled before admitting incredible ignorance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:01 PM
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142: Still, it seems like it should be a soluble problem. If the researcher can successfully draw a line between variations that are accentual as opposed to different vocabulary, there'd have to be some way to get across to the various signers "Say this, using these signs and no others, but however you'd naturally use them." And ideally you'd write the script to avoid signs where there are regional vocabulary differences.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:05 PM
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If the researcher can successfully draw a line between variations that are accentual as opposed to different vocabulary

Right, I wonder how easy this would be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:06 PM
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124 implies that a distinction could be made, but obviously I have no real idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:13 PM
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Anyone have a recommendation for a typing tutor? It's time for my bad-handwriting-having kid to learn to type.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:19 PM
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Way back when I got annoyed at myself for hunting and pecking, I used Mavis Beacon -- I don't know that it's much of a recommendation, I never really stuck with it, but it got me from hunt and peck to slow touchtyping.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:22 PM
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The way this researcher would draw a line between variations that are accentual as opposed to different vocabulary would be by collecting a large corpus of signers, coding the pronunciations of the produced signs, and looking for patterns in feature occurrence and co-occurrence as well as lexical item based on age, gender, age of language acquisition, region(s) of education, language(s) used at home, educational system, while also doing a large-scale perceptual study of signers from diverse backgrounds asking them to view clips of productions with various features and asking them to make guesses about the backgrounds of the signers in question, and then examining the results of both of those things to see which kinds of patterns are associated with vocabulary choices and which are associated with lower-level features, and what kinds of things the signers who produce the different types of signing have in common.

At some point I would also need to come up with a theoretical justification for deciding which features to examine and how to categorize them, and another for determining when two different productions should be counted as variants of the same sign versus different vocabulary items.

Since none of these things have been done yet, to my knowledge there is not currently any way to draw such a line.

(this is basically what I wrote a dissertation about. It turns out to be extremely complicated.)


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:23 PM
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Back in the response to Bloomberg's interpreter, I remember some explanation that a lot of her motions that the hearing perceived as personal expression had meanings that in written translation would be best expressed with additional words. (I looked in the relevant thread, but couldn't find it.) So I wonder.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:24 PM
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147: Typing of the Dead!!! This game is amazingly stupid but I love it, because when I was in Hong Kong it was the only game on which I could compete respectably in a Mongkok arcade.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:26 PM
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I wish nobody had ever taught my boss to write in cursive. Her penmanship is farcically illegible.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 1:32 PM
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148 -- I used Mavis Beacon with maybe similar but slightly better results? I'm an OK touch typist though hardly at old fashioned secretary levels.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:04 PM
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I think Yggles is wrong about San Francisco but for a different reason. It turns out that if you create a really beautiful city and limit housing development there, and put it smack-dab next to a developing economic area, you can have a nice urban playground for trust-funders and wealthy preppies, a decent bedroom suburb for richer, culturally left people who mostly work in the booming nearby suburb, and even a little bit of space left over for some really down and out homeless people. Plus, OK, some space for gay people who lucked out by moving there when the city was in an economic tailspin and some immigrant groups who aren't priced out yet. But basically San Francisco's recent success is by being a limited-development wealthy urban playground neighborhood, that appeals to culturally-left rich people, in an overall region that happens to be booming and that drives its economy. Not sure why that's the great American success story.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:17 PM
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Yeah, I sometimes think of San Francisco as like Manhattan if the rest of the boroughs were less dense and farther away.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:25 PM
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Yes, except on that model Wall Street is actually in the boroughs, as well.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:28 PM
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154 makes it sound like San Francisco is Santa Monica. Or Newton, Massachusetts. Interesting perspective.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:31 PM
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Most wealthy people are educated, most educated people are liberal, but most extremely wealthy people are conservative though also educated. Other educated conservatives want to be extremely wealthy and think they have a good shot at it. But the extremely wealthy conservatives and their toadies have it rough in that they must (1) present themselves in public as reasonable enough so as not to be shunned by their peers and (2) continue to fund the disinformation campaign which has, until recently, been dominating the discourse of the American South. This must create a lot of cognitive dissonance and emotional turmoil. I certainly don't envy them.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:33 PM
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I miss the old crazy-ass San Francisco of the 70s and 80s I knew a little bit as a kid, when the economy was run by insanely stuffy lawyers and bankers who were losing business to everyone, the City was beautiful but cheap and collapsing, and there was a really insane post-hippie super dark vibe everywhere. The San Francisco of battery-throwing Giants fans at Candlestick and Thrash Metal.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:36 PM
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Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:51 PM
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That is my absolute favorite Grateful Dead song.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 2:59 PM
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most educated people are liberal
Depends on how you define educated. Liberals own graduate degrees, but undergraduate degrees lean conservative.


Posted by: Cyrus Q Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 3:12 PM
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There's another thing, which is that in a typewritten world there are access issues for people who for one reason or another can't learn to type fast. I don't know if anybody addresses this in education, but if not, they need to start yesterday.

Similarly, some people have trouble gripping writing instruments. A friend of mine in grad school needed to type instead of handwrite because of this.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 4:04 PM
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162: leave aside business business degrees and it tilts back, doesn't it?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 4:15 PM
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Some people have never heard a violin.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 4:19 PM
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Cyrus Q Eggplant is going to be confusing when Cyrus comments in the same thread.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 4:19 PM
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Was there some transition to the San Francisco subthread that I missed? Was it written in cursive?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 4:25 PM
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It was in the DOMA thread, but Halford snuck it over here with my acquiescence.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 4:27 PM
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||

Hallelujah! My household has just successfully transferred a very pregnant young cat, a stray who's been hanging around our porch and yard for months, to a new home! I cannot tell you what a relief this is! Or how secretly worried I am about her. I mean, she's been living outdoors: she's going to freak out at being confined, being in a new place, plus hormones.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 5:58 PM
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Is "Cyrus Q Eggplant" the same person as "Cyrus", or the same person as "Eggplant", or a new person entirely?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:44 PM
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170: Experiment is working well!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 8:54 PM
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Re: cursive, child attends French school, where a separate grade for penmanship is given for all assignments as a matter of course. Cursive only, of course. Have been repeatedly informed in parent-teacher conferences over lo these many years of the well-documented link between the fine motor skills necessary for cursive and the eventual mastery of calculus. Take this with the usual grain of a fleur de sel as have been told the same thing re: the purportedly well-documented links between many seemingly unrelated skills. On the other hand, the child really enjoys debating the meaning of infinity in math class, which am told by the prof is a critical part of teaching the necessary abstract reasoning skills to form fully functioning citoyens/citoyennes. I find the entertainment value of this schooling to be amazing. They are all just so darn FRENCH!!!

Also, child's handwriting is pretty legible, which is great.

Re: Yglesias and SF zoning, suspect his lame libertarian fantasies might suffer a bit of a dent if he ever figured out that the City actively and aggressively limits the number of on-site parking spaces allowed with new development in many zones. Yep - the opposite of minimum required parking is in fact not no regulation but actually a cap on the allowable number of parking spaces. And believe me, downtown SF would be a complete freaking nightmare if the developers were allowed to build the number of parking spaces they would like to build.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-26-13 9:23 PM
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I can't read my own handwriting, nor can anyone else. The only exception to this is if I focus completely on slowly and carefully writing legibly. This means I couldn't take notes or do handwritten essay exams. My fine motor control is generally utterly fucked, supposedly due to being born six weeks early.

172.1 Other than the legibility issue, none of my French teachers gave a flying fuck about my penmanship. This was equally true in the Francophone and Anglophone schools I attended. Though the Francophone one was very anal about spelling mistakes - fucking dictées at least once a week.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 2:06 AM
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Typing of the Dead seconded. I think it's hard to come by legitimately these days, though.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 4:46 AM
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CAPT. Though "Bother it" I may
Occasionally say,
I never write a big, big G.
ALL. What, never?
CAPT. No, never!
ALL. What, never?
CAPT. Hardly ever!
ALL. Hardly ever writes a big, big G.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 5:01 AM
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"Cursive" sounds like it should be a grammatical term for a type of speech only used for maledictions, like "vocative" or "indicative".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 5:47 AM
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none of my French teachers gave a flying fuck about my penmanship

But French employers sure as hell do! (Or did, anyway; this article from 2011 says the practice of analyzing handwriting samples for psychological insights into candidates for employment is slowly dying out.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 6:03 AM
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My handwriting is quite slow, and my hand cramps if I write too quickly. This impeded my ability to write long essays on exams.

I can't touch type, and when I've tried I am slower. My hand eye coordination just sucks, and I lack binocular vision most of the time. I don't have strong feelings about cursive, but I'd like to see more attention paid to developing motor skills in a formal way outside of PE.

Re signatures: There's one totally negligent professional guardian we deal with a lot whose signature is basically an ampersand.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 6:19 AM
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My hand eye coordination just sucks, and I lack binocular vision most of the time

Touch typing is the opposite of hand/eye coordination, surely. In terms of speed, it's just a question of practising and practising , once you've memorised where the keys are. Hunt and peck is quicker for everyone when they first start.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 6:47 AM
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I learned to touch type by starting with hunt and peck but making a point of using all my fingers, in roughly the manner appropriate to touch typing. I still occasionally glance at the keyboard but am basically touch typing. The transition to touch typing from classic two-finger hunt and peck would have been quite difficult.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:02 AM
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Does TotD help with touch typing specifically, or does it just work on speed and accuracy? I too used Mavis Beacon at some point to get the basics down, but am still not a very fast or accurate typist.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:05 AM
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Lots of people here talking about teaching themselves to touch type. Did anyone else have typing classes in school? I had an entire year of typing in high school. It could profitably come earlier in the curriculum now, and there are certain things I learned that are pretty obsolete. (Centering! Footnoting! Picas!) But still probably one of the more useful classes I had in high school. (Which, yes, is saying everything about how poor the academics were.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:07 AM
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I had typing class in high school but didn't get anything much out of it, but taught myself to touch type later; this means I still use a weird and incomplete set of fingers (my pinkies, for instance, are essentially contextually vestigial).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:09 AM
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My high school had been a girls school until about twelve years before I started there, and the story was that they didn't offer typing because they didn't want their graduates to get jobs where they were going to type. (I'm old enough that the current everyone-does-their-own-typing dynamic hadn't really set in.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:10 AM
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My HS was just the opposite, with a "business" track mostly for female students that was just starting to become less popular when I was there. Typing, advanced typing, shorthand, an "advanced business" class that I think included some bookkeeping. My was somewhere close to gender balanced, but I think that was relatively recent in the mid-90s.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:16 AM
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My ˆtyping classˆ was


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:17 AM
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We had Typing I and Typing II which was clearly leftover secretarial training. As a kid I played with my dad's old typewriters a lot, and when I was older I learned how to type using on the computer that had a very basic typing tutor.

I don't touch type, exactly, in that I make a lot of mistakes, but one of my skills is hitting backspace very, very quickly. I haven't timed myself in a while but I type fast enough to transcribe lectures accurately if the speaker speaks a bit slower than average.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:23 AM
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Does TotD help with touch typing specifically, or does it just work on speed and accuracy? I too used Mavis Beacon at some point to get the basics down, but am still not a very fast or accurate typist.

Just speed and accuracy, IIRC. It's not a typing tutor like Mavis Beacon. Basically it's the old light gun game House of the Dead, but instead of shooting, you type silly phrases. So the two should probably be used in tandem. But frankly speed and accuracy is 95% of learning to to touch type. The "theoretical" aspect of which finger goes to which key to produce which character can be learned in a day. It's doing that reliably and quickly, and being able to correct errors quickly, that takes most time and effort.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:24 AM
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the story was that they didn't offer typing because they didn't want their graduates to get jobs where they were going to type

This was my mother's personal reasoning that led her to avoid all typing instruction.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 7:55 AM
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Lots of people here talking about teaching themselves to touch type. Did anyone else have typing classes in school?

In grade school, yes.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:00 AM
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The "theoretical" aspect of which finger goes to which key to produce which character can be learned in a day.

You could certainly learn to type faster than my high school class went, but boy was it a great foundation. After learning the home row, we'd only add another letter every day or two. Lots of drills with the teacher walking around and calling out what we should type: "j. j. j. u. j. u. j. u. u. j. j." With the combinations getting faster and more complicated as the class period went on. It seems like it should have been boring, but paying attention both to accuracy and to all sorts of postural things was kind of interestingly challenging.

The woman who taught the class was also an absolute master. She was also both of my parents' typing teacher.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:10 AM
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How fast do you type?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:13 AM
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Typing is the sort of skill that is perfect for learning by computer games. I would guess the game basics, reward structure, and difficulty progression in Rock Band or Guitar Hero could be easily adapted.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:14 AM
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Did anyone else have typing classes in school? I had an entire year of typing in high school.

Yep. 7th and 8th grades.

probably one of the more useful classes I had

ditto

(Which, yes, is saying everything about how poor the academics were.)

double ditto

a "business" track mostly for female students

This was called "Business Procedures" in my school, thus making the pretense a little less laughable. I have occasionally regretted not taking this class, because knowing shorthand would have been a rad skill. The people taking that class were able to join a vocational association called the Future Business Leaders of America, though "Future Secretaries and Bank Tellers of America" would have been more accurate. It appears they are still around, though their focus seems to have shifted with the times, and they now emphasize Excel and MS Word instead of filing and using the dictaphone. I guess now they could be "Future Cubicle Drones of America".


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:14 AM
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Fast enough to reach the end of the word.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:16 AM
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I topped out at somewhere over 100 wpm in my class, but I'm not sure now. When I've done online tests more recently, I can still get 70-80.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:19 AM
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a vocational association called the Future Business Leaders of America, though "Future Secretaries and Bank Tellers of America" would have been more accurate

Triple ditto!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:20 AM
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You might say that the dictaphone has been dethroned.

(ducks)


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:20 AM
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I took an elective typing class in high school for a semester. While I did learn to touch type, I was extremely slow and made so many mistakes, that for all practical purposes, I was still completely worthless on a typewriter.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:22 AM
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196: That is fast.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:22 AM
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It's funny, when you're typing that fast, especially on an actual typewriter, it sounds like you're just indiscriminately mashing the keyboard.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:25 AM
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I average somewhere in the 60s, I think, but if I'm really trying for speed and I can get up to 80 or so. Generally I make too many mistakes at that speed for it to be worth it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:36 AM
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They offered typing at my high school. I took it and then had my life force sucked into the internet and I came to type 99 wpm or so if I'm making an effort, though I make more errors than I used to. My only regret, other than everything, is that I didn't concentrate on typing numbers and I still have to look to type them with any accuracy.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:36 AM
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I just took a typing test and got 106 wpm, though that seemed slower than I go when I'm transcribing what someone's saying or writing from my own thoughts, as now. I'm the youngest in the office and apparently one of the faster typists, not that it makes much difference most of the time.

I taught myself touch typing on a typewriter I bought at a yard sale as a child and then was able to test out of it in high school, where it was required. I really hate the way typing on the iPad works, though it's nowhere near as bad as texting on my little flip phone. I wonder whether people who hunt-and-peck think the iPad sort of setup is easier.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:43 AM
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106 WPM is ridiculously fast. I think I'm pretty much around where Ginger Y is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:45 AM
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Also, haven't we had this conversation before? I recall everyone taking online typing tests sometime.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:47 AM
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It's funny, I have a self-image as having lousy manual dexterity, which I sort of believe is just me being hard on myself. And then I realize that despite a life that involves an awful lot of typing, and despite being a ten-finger touchtypist, I've maxed out around 40wpm -- possibly I genuinely am unusually fumblefingered. I knit slow too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:48 AM
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205: I think that I transcribe for a living (though not generally by type) has had a big impact on my typing speed and just the way I talk and interact in general. Lee was complaining that I need to make sure I don't talk over people and I realized that it doesn't strike me as rude anymore now that I'm expected to do it for a large portion of my day. So I'm working on that, but this job has intensified my tendency to assume that I know what people are going to say and anticipate it.

(Sometimes it's not hard. For instance, any of us could have predicted your lack of surprise at the danger of grains for grainworkers.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:49 AM
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207 is all true for me too, except the part about knitting.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:53 AM
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201: It's funny, when you're typing that fast, especially on an actual typewriter, it sounds like you're just indiscriminately mashing the keyboard.

Yeah; I don't register it myself, but my housemate is periodically in the study with me when I'm typing, and has observed that it sounds like I'm just spazzing out on the keyboard.

I took an elective typing course in high school, and enjoyed it in the way Blume describes in 191.1.

I'd been taking piano courses for years, and it seemed to me, still seems to me, that the goal in touch typing is to have the position of the keys so well "memorized" that you go directly from brain to fingers, bypassing the eyes. You should be able to touch type with your eyes closed, e.g., just as you should be able to play a memorized piece on the piano without looking at the keys. In fact I mess up if I look at the keys.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:58 AM
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Piano *lessons*, that is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:59 AM
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Further 210.last: I mean by "brain to fingers" that you don't think about it at all. It's not, like, a cognitive process.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:01 AM
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Well, yes. That's the "touch" in touch typing, the idea that you're not looking at the keyboard (which I don't, I'm just slow anyway.)

Man, thinking about typing slows me way, way down, and kills my accuracy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:01 AM
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206: Also, haven't we had this conversation before? I recall everyone taking online typing tests sometime.

Well, yeah. but it was just over a year ago so maybe everybody's changed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:03 AM
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I mean by "brain to fingers" that you don't think about it at all. It's not, like, a cognitive process.

*moan*


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:04 AM
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(215 not meant as a personal dig, just as a continuation of the "You're doing this to hurt me personally" whining Sifu and I were both doing yesterday.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:05 AM
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rfts, if I were trying to hurt you personally, I'd point out that I have a nice new Moomin notebook and you don't, except that I suppose you actually might and you're just too classy to brag about it on the internet.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:07 AM
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People whose typing style cracks me up:
1. My friend who types with only one hand, so that she can drink coffee while she types. But she types one-handed whether or not she has a drink. (She's way slower than two-handed typers. This isn't an "oh wow and she dazzles!" story.)

2. My father-in-law (a mucky-muck in the oil industry who uses computers all the time but I guess always relied heavily on secretaries) hunts and pecks. My favorite move of his: To capitalize a letter, he pecks CAPSLOCK, then the letter, and then pecks CAPSLOCK again. It's so awesomely slow.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:08 AM
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a nice new Moomin notebook and you don't

Oh, that looks like a very nice Moomin notebook indeed. Well played, well played.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:09 AM
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215: Eh, it's just that I've tried to explain touch typing to people who hunt and peck, and they haven't been able to see what I'm explaining without me analogizing to, say, tying your shoes or driving: you don't *think* about it, right? You just do it.

They seem to think it's this super-complicated feat of memorization which takes great concentration every time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:09 AM
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Everyone in my middle school had to take typing but I don't remember how much. I think one quarter per year, each of 3 years? Maybe?

We also learned about things like formatting business letters in that class, for some reason. I guess in the more advanced levels, it makes sense to be practicing actual large chunks of text but at the time (12 years old) it seemed pretty ridiculous.

My grandmother saw me typing one time and accused me of just pretending so it would look like I was doing something productive. I think she thought I was fake working to get out of helping with dinner. (This was when I was an adult, in grad school, not middle school). Anyway she didn't really totally believe that people could type quickly without looking at their hands, even after she saw the words showing up on my computer screen.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:10 AM
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I took typing classes a few different times in my late teens and as a result I can touch type at modest speeds. I think it was only the repeated drilling of the kind described above which made it a motor skill that I was able to rekindle a few years later when I started using a computer regularly.
On the other hand, while I did take some kind of simplified shorthand class as part of one course, I found it fairly useless. I passed the shorthand "exam" by quickly taking down the dictation in my own scribbles and then writing out the "proper" shorthand to hand up.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:16 AM
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207 is all true for me too, especially the part about knitting, as I don't know how. What's strange is I think I have good speed and control over large motions, but this dexterity ends at my wrists. When I played cello I was quick and accurate at shifting, but I maxed out at intricate finger movements.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:23 AM
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207 I knit slow, too. Less because of manual dexterity than my gnat-like attention span. When I was making myself a sweater, it went quickly because it was just endless stockinette and I could watch a movie and do it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:25 AM
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your lack of surprise at the danger of grains for grainworkers.

Some things cause me to marvel that I survived to adulthood, and this is one of them. How many times did my friends and I ignore the stern warnings not to go play in that enticing mountain of corn/silage/cottonseed/lime/whatever? We were always, "Awwww, why can't we?" And the answer was always some vague and (to our ears) implausible warning of danger.

There were certain things we knew to be dangerous, because we had personal knowledge of someone being injured or killed by them (your classic trio of power tools, firearms, and flammable substances). There was always a frisson of danger in playing with these items. But a pile of grain was just a piece of playground equipment, perhaps with some added element of enjoyment because it was (inexplicably) forbidden.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:26 AM
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224: Yeah, right now I'm staring down a two-week deadline to get a pair of socks done before my mother's birthday. I've turned the heel, but I still have the whole foot to go. The tension in the air is palpable. (And I can't get rid of the annoying hole at the top of the gusset. Wasn't someone here just complaining about that?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:34 AM
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And the answer was always some vague and (to our ears) implausible warning of danger.

Not for us. A kid my age suffocated in a grain silo when we were in 5th grade.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:35 AM
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This was called "Business Procedures" in my school, thus making the pretense a little less laughable. I have occasionally regretted not taking this class, because knowing shorthand would have been a rad skill. The people taking that class were able to join a vocational association called the Future Business Leaders of America, though "Future Secretaries and Bank Tellers of America" would have been more accurate.

Girls were steered toward typing and home ec. Boys were steered toward industrial arts.

Also, the smartest kids took Latin, the next smartest took French, and the dummies took Spanish.

French and not knowing how to type have been useful skills.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:37 AM
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I learned to type in the summer between 8th and 9th grades. I also took deliberate efforts to speak to girls for the first time at around that age. Before that my father typed my papers for me late at night while I read them aloud. We fought a lot about editorial suggestions.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:40 AM
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I've never spent much time listening to a person mashing indiscriminately on a keyboard, so I couldn't say whether typing fast sounds like that, but I rather don't think so, as I do listen to my own fingers while they type, and always discern some kind of pattern.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:44 AM
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226: wasn't me. Making socks always seemed singularly ungratifying to me so I haven't done it. (Among other things, I don't like working on DPNs.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 9:48 AM
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Circulars. Slower than DPN, but I don't lose them falling out of the work, and I can do both socks at once.

You might try a pair just to see if you like them -- the one pair I knitted myself (actually, I knitted them for Newt and then the ungrateful child's feet grew) I wear all the time because they're really warm and comfortable. And the pair I'm knitting now is at Mom's direct request because she loves the last pair I knit her so much (despite what they look like -- a really hideous variegated pink/purple mess I bought on clearance.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:03 AM
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LB, have you ever knitted a wool hat with earflaps?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:22 AM
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Are there tests or something that let you know whether you're good at fine-motor skills? I would absolutely have said I'm not, but I'm a fast knitter (after knitting a lot for 10 years wouldn't anyone be?) and I do okay with the hair stuff, though my sewing is still pretty crummy after a year of practice there. And my handwriting is nothing to write home about.

I got really bad about knitting socks and have a lot of singles sitting around that I should really finish someday. Maybe. The ones I've made are well-loved. You anti-DPN people are just saying that to hurt my feelings. DPNs forevs, especially my beloved little square needles!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:25 AM
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My niece is taking typing in middle school, except they call it "keyboarding" now. Sadly, she will never have the satisfying feeling of hitting the manual carriage return as though one is a big city reporter on deadline.

(Though there was a lot more shouting "Get me rewrite!" than actual typing in His Girl Friday.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:28 AM
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233: I have considered it, but no; my hats have been restricted to the ordinary watchcap style, although sometimes with color patterns.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:32 AM
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You anti-DPN people are just saying that to hurt my feelings.

It's not that I mind knitting with them, it's that I lose them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:34 AM
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237: Yes, but then someday you find them! That's why every storage place in my house (and my desk here) has a few dpns lying around waiting to be reunited with their friends someday. I am not actually a knitter to emulate.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:35 AM
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236: If you knit me one I would repay you with free copies of my books.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:35 AM
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234: DPN solidarity, my sister.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:36 AM
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I'm sure you would.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:37 AM
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I'd even take a picture of it and post it on the internet to show how much I liked the shape.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:39 AM
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I see no reason to doubt it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:40 AM
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It's almost as though you have no way to respond to me anymore, LB. I don't get it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:42 AM
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You're right, I'm baffled.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:48 AM
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228: Also, the smartest kids took Latin, the next smartest took French, and the dummies took Spanish.

God, this is sort of painful to hear: it was like that in my high school as well, though the next smartest took German, next next took French, and then the dummies.

UNTIL they trashed school funding in the early 80s in Massachusetts by passing Prop 2 1/2. By the next year the school had abolished Latin, and German went the following year. I moved to Spanish (because I was down with la gente, I guess), which was taught by a guy we called, behind his back, Senor Lluviavilla, who had a Brooklyn accent.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:48 AM
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Say it with hats, LB!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 10:57 AM
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You'rê right, I'm băfflêd?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:00 AM
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Basic Spanish should be a required part of the school curriculum for every US student. We live in the Americas, for crying out loud.

On an unrelated note, apologies if this has already been linked, but: MMA Announcer Can't Stop Telling Us About His Anus


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:03 AM
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LB, I'm the sexiest man alive. Don't you agree?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:05 AM
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I think all comments, serious or not, should end with 249.2 carthago delenda est style.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:07 AM
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I think we've established what your thoughts are worth, Robert Halford.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:08 AM
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That must be very nice for you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:08 AM
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It is! I very much enjoy this new arrangement.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:12 AM
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249: Basic Spanish should be a required part of the school curriculum for every US student. We live in the Americas, for crying out loud.

Agreed. It would take a tremendous sea change for this to happen, unfortunately. This country still looks eastward, toward Europe (which doesn't include Spain and Portugal much, though I'm not sure why), as sister countries whose languages are worthy of our attention.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 11:41 AM
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I don't mind DPNs in theory, but I don't find it easy to avoid laddering and I really don't want to bother with that trick where you I don't even know.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 12:06 PM
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Also, I think this tells me that LB is who I should have asked about magic loop when I was asking people about magic loop.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 12:06 PM
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249/255 This, posted in the wrong thread.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 12:55 PM
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257: I'm not actually sure that I magic loop correctly -- I just pull a bight of the cable out between two stitches to get the cable down to the length I want, and move it around so the laddery stitch isn't in the same place row to row. This may be all magic loop is, but I think the term describes something more specific.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 1:03 PM
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Given that knitting is the new swimming, you should also remember to snap your hips.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 1:11 PM
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I'm beginning to think you lot are using metaphors.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 3:32 PM
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I continued two-finger typing - not exactly hunt and peck after a while since I started to routinely get some of the keys without really looking - for a long time after I did some of the Mavis Beacon tutorials. I never went very far with the typing lessons - and none of my schools taught typing - but I did come away with knowing approximately where to line up your fingers if you were ever seized with a desire to touch type.

Later, probably in high school but maybe as late as college, I realized that not knowing how to touchtype was forcing me to start on my written assignments earlier than I wanted to and I found that if I started with my fingers over asdf jkl; I could more or less figure out the rest. I'm still not sure if I do the border characters like "y" and "b" with the "correct" hands. And I usually have to look at the number line, especially if I'm trying to type the special characters up there. I probably type between 60-80 wpm when I'm not thinking about the words.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 4:11 PM
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I am a slow typist but even so it seems to me that sometimes when I am using a computer keyboard the software records letters out of order. Have any of you encountered this? I expect it would be very frustrating for a fast typist.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 4:41 PM
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I would be pretty surprised if a keyboard recorded closures out of order (opposed to having the buffer wait a bit to flush, or having a character dropped entirely). More likely that some fingers are slower than others in executing intent. Also possible that some keys are mechanically troubled, but I can't think of much that makes characters come in late. Maybe bounce? I don't know that keyboards have had bounce in this decade.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 8:16 PM
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