Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for December 2014

NYC cops have stopped doing their jobs

The NY Posts reports “NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops.”

Is it because cops are genuinely afraid for their safety, or is it an intentional work slowdown to protest against De Blasio?

If the cops are not out there doing their jobs, the criminal element will become bold and start terrorizing the city the way they did back during the crime wave of the 1970s.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2014 at EST pm

Posted in Crime, New York City

Typing beats handwriting

I scored 98 WPM on this online typing test.

That’s a lot faster than I can write, which is about 108 LPM using cursive and 144 LPM printing (which is about 26 and 34 WPM when calculated the way typing is calculated). This may seem slow compared to my typing, but it’s actually well above average for adult handwriting speed. Even my rusty cursive is above average.

My typewritten text is a lot more legible than my handwriting, and it can easily be shared on the internet without having to scan it. Typing beats handwriting by a pretty huge margin both in speed (three times as fast) and practicality.

* * *

If I had to write a handwritten letter, I would probably type it out first, and then copy it from my computer screen. This is the opposite of how it used to be done, when one would write a letter out by hand and then send it to a typing pool.

* * *

A few years ago I switched to a computer for note-taking whenever possible. A lot of people haven’t made this move yet because they have grown up taking notes by hand and using a computer seems strange, but I assure you that once you get used to it, it works a lot better.

That is, if you really need to take notes in order to remember or record something (which is the case with almost all business meetings). For the purpose of learning intellectually difficult material that you can study in advance, there is evidence that it is better to use handwritten notes.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2014 at EST am

Posted in Psychology

Is the Palmer Method racist?

palmer_photo

The photo from the book shows a classroom of only white girls learning to write. Perhaps the Palmer Method was dropped because of its racist origins and its lack of applicability to more diverse classrooms?

Is it a coincidence that the Palmer Method was replaced by the Zaner-Bloser Method in the 1950s, the same decade that Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was decided? I think not.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2014 at EST am

Posted in Books

Sony NOT hacked by North Korea?

The latest theory is that North Korea did NOT hack Sony. The hack was done by a disgruntled employee or ex-employee working with Russian hackers associated with piracy groups.

This makes more sense than the FBI explanation that it was North Korea. North Korea simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to do anything sophisticated like that. Hacking isn’t like building nuclear bombs, which is a long established seventy-year-old technology. The best hackers are smart nerdy teenagers with access to computers and the internet, and Korea doesn’t have a population with access to computers and the internet. You can’t hire someone who has already graduated from high school without exposure to any of that stuff, put them in a top-secret government lab, and tell them “now you’re a hacker, go hack.” It just doesn’t work like that.

North Korea officially stated that “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.” Was North Korea right? Will Obama apologize after being likened to a monkey?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2014 at EST am

Posted in International

Sorry about the last post

Looks like plane wreckage and bodies have been found. Although this doesn’t disprove that the Black Hand was behind it.

* * *

In other important news, Michael Grimm, the guido Congressman from Staten Island, has resigned.

The New York Times writes:

Whoever takes Mr. Grimm’s seat will be unlikely to match his track record as a source of national fascination, or satire. A tough-talking politician with a clenched jaw and an intense stare, a fondness for dark-tailored suits and Brooklyn wine bars, Mr. Grimm brought with him a reputation for controversy, including the time — back in his law enforcement days — when he reportedly waved a gun around a Queens nightclub. He carried himself with a bravado that was on display until the end.

You have to appreciate how the New York Times describes his guido characteristics without appearing to be condescending.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2014 at EST am

Posted in News

Still no trace of the missing airplane. Was it the Black Hand?

Unlike the last plane which disappeared during good weather, this plane disappeared in an area in which there were thunderstorms. But suppose that the entity that made the previous plane disappear is also behind this disappearance, and they wanted to create a more plausible explanation for the plane disappearing? It makes good sense to use the thunderstorms as cover.

If the plane simply crashed, it should have crashed in a relatively small area and something should have been found by now.

On December 15th, a Chinese blogger predicted that a shadowy organization called the Black Hand was behind MH370 and MH17, and they would target AirAsia next.

More information here. The Chinese guy posted numerous times between December 15 and 17 warning people not to fly on AirAsia and then he disappeared.

* * *

Even though Air France 447 crashed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the first wreckage was spotted floating in the water only 37 hours later. It has now been 46 hours since the crash (as of 4:19 PM Eastern Standard Time) and no wreckage has been found, even though Flight 8501 is supposed to have crashed in a more easily searchable area and with a more definitely known position. Sunrise is approaching in the Sea of Java. If nothing is found today, then there’s something more mysterious going on than a simple plane crash.

* * *

From a Wall Street Journal article:

One of the most pressing questions for searchers and investigators now is why signals haven’t been detected from multiple emergency beacons on the Airbus A320. The beacons, known as emergency locator transmitters, or ELTs, are made to emit signals to satellites upon crashing and last about 30 days.

. . .

Beacon signals are often located within hours of crashes. If the plane is on land or in the shallow waters of the Java Sea or Karimata Strait, a region that borders some of the world’s largest islands and where depths are mostly less than 50 meters, the signal should be strong, experts said.

“It’s very unlikely [for satellites, search aircraft and ships] to miss ELT signals, especially if the aircraft ended in relatively shallow waters,” said Mark Martin, chief executive at Martin Consulting, an aviation consultancy.

The plane should have been found yesterday if it crashed shortly after contact was lost. This is playing out just like MH370. They searched and searched and then days later it was mysteriously discovered that the plane didn’t actually crash but had kept on flying to some other unknown location.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 29, 2014 at EST pm

Posted in News

The Palmer Method of Business Writing and the future of cursive

The Palmer Method of Business Writing can be downloaded here, for free. No, it’s not an illegal pirated copy. The linked-to version of the book was published in 1915, so it’s free from copyright.

I would highly recommend this book if, like me, they taught you how to write in cursive in the third grade, but it never stuck, and now that you are an adult you feel that maybe you ought to re-learn what you should have learned in elementary school. The capital letters that the book teaches are slightly more old-fashioned than what you may have been taught in elementary school if they taught you the Zaner-Bloser method, but I sort of like that. Palmer also recommends a strange-looking lower-case ‘r’, but I stuck with practicing the more usual ‘r’ because the Palmer ‘r’ never caught on.

The very title of the book is interesting. A hundred or more years ago, handwriting was necessary for conducting business! This was especially true in the 1800s before commercial production of typewriters. Before typewriters, all writing was done by hand. If you were a lawyer filing a motion with the court, you would file a hand-written document. Imagine that! Today the court would throw that out and tell you not to come back until you learn how to use a word processor and a laser printer.

The next question worth answering is why a cursive form of writing and not manuscript lettering? The best answer is simply that cursive was how educated adults wrote in the nineteenth century and before.

So the importance of handwriting for business and the cultural value placed on good cursive penmanship made teaching this sort of cursive writing an essential part of the school curriculum.

And what about the typewriter? According to a Wikipedia article, commercial production of typewriters began in 1873. Adoption was slow. Very slow. Typing was seen as a specialized skill for women and not something that real business executives would do. In the TV series Mad Men, which takes place in the 1960s, you don’t see a typewriter in Don Draper’s office. If he needs to send a letter or a memo, he dictates it to his secretary, or he writes it down with pen and paper.

No doubt, part of the reason why universal typing was so slow to be adopted was because the schools were so slow to teach that skill. When I was in elementary school in the 1970s, a century after commercial production of typewriters, we learned manuscript in the first grade, cursive in the third grade, and there was one class in typing in the sixth grade, on manual typewriters (even though electric typewriters were the norm by that time), and after that we were never expected to type anything again. Even though typing was an afterthought for the school system, it was the most valuable skill I learned in the sixth grade, a hundred times more useful than “shop” class.

Let’s jump forward to the year 2014 (almost 2015). Today, no one at all uses handwriting in a business setting. I haven’t seen a single handwritten letter or other document in the last two decades. There’s one oddball who likes to mark up documents by hand instead of using comments in Word like everybody else, and it’s annoying because handwriting is harder to read than comments on a computer screen.

That’s right, no one wants to read handwritten text, and especially not cursive handwritten text, because it’s hard to read. Even the examples in Palmer’s book are a lot harder and slower to read than properly typeset text, and Palmer is an expert on handwriting and penmanship. Imagine having to reading a regular person’s handwriting! That surely must be the worst part of being a school teacher.

There are many obvious flaws in the cursive alphabet taught by Palmer. A carelessly written ‘c’ can look like an ‘e’ or an undotted ‘i’. ‘e’ and ‘a’ can easily look like each other, as can ‘a’ and ‘o’ or ‘b’ and ‘f’. If you don’t close your ‘s’ it can look like an ‘r’. There are also certain tricky letter combinations, of which ‘wr’ and ‘wi’ are the worst.

Despite arguments that cursive is superior than unjoined manuscript because it’s supposed to be faster, the illegibility of the cursive writing of a person with poor penmanship cancels out any speed advantage, if there really is any. There is little evidence that Palmer or Zaner-Bloser cursive is really any faster than printing. For people who are used to writing in manuscript, it’s faster than cursive. For people who are used to writing in cursive, it’s faster than manuscript. Traditional cursive was not scientifically designed for either legibility or speed. If anything, the difficulty of writing legible cursive may have been seen as a benefit from the perspective of the scrivener’s guild!

Other arguments for the need to teach cursive are specious. I’ve read over and over again that children would not be able to read the original Declaration of Independence or read a letter from grandma. If these are the best arguments in favor of teaching cursive, then there isn’t much reason to teach it. Good luck getting people to even read the typewritten versions of historical documents. Even twenty years ago before cursive was dropped, no one read the original handwritten version of the Declaration. As far as grandma goes, if she knows her grandkids can’t read her cursive, she should write in manuscript or even send them an email.

In the twenty-first century, school systems have finally started dropping cursive from the curriculum. The reason sometimes given for this is that schools are too busy prepping kids to take multiple-choice tests to have time to teach cursive, which is the same reason given for everything that’s dropped from the curriculum, but in the case of cursive it no longer serves any broad social benefit to teach this to everybody. Typing is a much more useful skill to teach children. Typing would prepare children for the real jobs they will have as adults.

Does this mean you don’t want your own children to learn cursive? The answer to that might be a negative. Writing in cursive is still seen as more upper class than writing in manuscript. I saw this at a comment written in the NY Times:

One observation from someone who has taught at a major public university and grades a national exam with written components: cursive is increasingly becoming a sign of class status. Students who write in cursive are academically successful and, based on my anecdotal evidence, come from more affluent backgrounds and the best secondary schools. Cursive is not going anywhere. The writing form is simply becoming a marker of status as we give up on the masses ability to master it. Our schools should do more than produce mindless worker bees to sit before computers.

I first noticed this class distinction when I taught a small class of twelve students. During discussion, I have always written students’ important observations on the board in cursive. Two weeks into the class, two students (who came from a poorer part of the state) raised their hands. They informed me that they could not read cursive and that “I might as well be writing Arabic on the board.” I enquired and found students from more affluent school systems in the class had received cursive instruction and had no difficulty reading my handwriting.

So cursive is good for your own children even though there’s no societal benefit from it.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 29, 2014 at EST pm

Posted in Education

The Indonesian Bermuda Triangle

Another commercial passenger airplane disappears in the vicinity of Indonesia. So far not a trace. Spooky.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 28, 2014 at EST am

Posted in News

Police turn their backs to De Blasio

Reported by ABC news:

Hundreds of police officers turned their backs on a screen showing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as he spoke at the funeral of one of two officers killed last week in what has been called an “assassination.”

I think that De Blasio will get close to 0% of the prole white vote next election. Which doesn’t necessarily mean he will lose. And of course things can always change between now and the future, but I think that it’s just not in De Blasio’s constitutional makeup to do any of the right things to reconcile with prole whites.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 27, 2014 at EST pm

Posted in New York City

Is chess declining in popularity?

In October, the New York Times canceled its chess column which had been a feature since 1962.

I think this is evidence of chess’s decline in popularity, although I have had a hard time finding anything definitive on the internet about whether chess is truly declining in popularity, which is perhaps masked by increasing interest in teaching chess in elementary schools, but that could actually in fact be further evidence of chess’s decline, for what used to be considered an entertaining game is now thought of as a learning exercise for small children.

Fifty years ago, what else was there for a nerdy guy to do besides play chess? Personal computers didn’t exist. Even Dungeons and Dragons didn’t exist. And television sucked compared to the quality of what you can watch today. But today, there are so many other entertainment options available, no one has time for chess. The type of people who used to play chess are now playing League of Legends or some other computer game.

Furthermore, I think that computer chess programs have ruined the mystery of chess. No one, not even the world’s best chess player, can consistently beat the top computer chess programs, and I can’t even beat Smallfish (the best free chess program for the iPad) on its easiest “beginner” setting.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 27, 2014 at EST pm

Posted in Nerdy stuff

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