Cursive

Cursive. That archaic mode of recording one’s thoughts.

I have been spending some small bit of my spare time trying to remember how cursive handwriting works. I had abandoned it shortly after graduating high school. This was due both to my block letters being vastly more legible, and the increasing uselessness of handwriting in everyday life. I do remember, as a younger sibling wanting to learn cursive to be like my older sister and her friends. That squiggly, contiguous form of penmanship that they were learning made them seem so much more like adults who seemed to have this ability to pay for nearly anything by simply swiping a pen across the checkbook. This was of course before the prevalence of debit cards which opened up a whole new series of wondrous mysteries where purchasing options were concerned1. It seemed so fancy and beautiful. I was so fascinated by it that I got scolded once or twice by a teacher for drawing lines between my print letters to connect them.

When I had finally reached the age that it was deemed reasonable to be enlightened by the public education system as to the eldritch secrets of what I was assured to be the defacto way of writing2  I soon discovered the hand cramping agony of each loop and arc. My mind numbed at the similarities of lowercase L and B, the capitals T and F had the same issue, and the letter X was basically a V with a line through it. And what the hell was the going on with Z? My technique was awful and my teachers went to great efforts to point this out. My L’s didn’t have enough loop, and my T’s had too much (which is to say any). The little hooks of the letters O, V, and B left me at a loss as to how to start the next letter3, did I just start them at mid stroke or did I bring the pen down to the bottom of the line and start there, either answer seemed wrong at some point or other. I never remembered to dot my i’s or cross my t’s and when I did it was because I had broken the rules and not waited until I had completed the whole word. When I tried to write more neatly I wasn’t able to finish assignments in time and was marked off for having my papers uncompleted. Continued years of physical and psychological anguish over the subject did not improve matters. The introduction of a typewritten requirement to my reports and essays helped to greatly advance my self-worth.

Why then, am I revisiting this ancient horror?

I wouldn’t trouble myself, believe me I am not a masochist. It seems there is no plan to teach it at my daughter’s school. Now, I really don’t think it is all that important. Quite frankly it seems that most of the people who I’ve spoken to who are upset about the removal of cursive from the curriculum are people who still hold a grudge about having to learn it when they were young4. But anyway, my wife has mentioned in passing that she thinks we should teach her ourselves. Which I feel ultimately means I am going to end up trying to show her how it’s done And if that’s is the case, well I should have at least something resembling proficiency in the task.

I’d like to think that the price of keeping art and music in her school is the loss of cursive I am perfectly fine with that. Sadly that’s not the case. Art and Music will consistently be on the chopping block, because just like cursive it isn’t part of the standardized tests. The schools are beholden to these damn tests in order to maintain funding and resources, and so more funding and time is funneled to teaching towards the tests. That’s a negative feedback loop that is draining all of the actual education out of schools. We aren’t losing cursive to laziness, we’re losing it to bureaucracy.

Anyway, that’s What I’ve been thinking about over the past week. How about you?

Happy Monday5

Prompt


  1. I really do long for those days when I was a child and had no need for the petty adult realities of personal finance 
  2.  Apparently they didn’t discuss the matter with my Mechanical Drawing instructor who just a year later would spend weeks teaching us the importance of perfectly drawn block capitals. 
  3.  If, while in grade school, I had been asked to write the word “bovine” there would have been an… incident. 
  4.  And damn it, if I had to shovel coal when we were kids then this lazy, good for nuthin’ generation should have to shovel coal too, by gum. 
  5. Wow it’s been almost a year since I typed those two words. And I still love me some footnotes. 

Bacon Is Bad For You and, Vegetarian Hot Dogs Are Made Of People!

It’s hard to believe it’s only Wednesday and I think the internet may have already spewed forth my favorite headlines for the week. On Monday while I was busy trying to fit a cup of coffee into my schedule, everywhere I looked, my news feeds were flooded with links and headlines that said things like:

Hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats cause cancer, World Health Organization declares 

or,

Bad Day For Bacon: Processed Meats Cause Cancer, WHO Says

At the time, all I could visualize was my vegan and vegetarian friends, with their arms folded across their chests and a triumphant little smirk on their smug little hippie faces. So delighted to be able to push the share button on that one. I mean here it was right, it’s science right? Who’s laughing now? I bet you don’t have anything smart to say about this one.

Relax it’s the internet, just wait a few minutes.

In those minutes we got:

Human DNA found in two thirds of vegetarian hot dog samples, according to report

and

Study Finds Pork And Human DNA In Vegetarian Hot Dogs

Leave it to a FOX News affiliate to cherry pick just the right info out of an otherwise pointless study to slant things enough to get it reposted into my social networks. I was a bit miffed to see the second headline from IFLScience, but I suppose it pays the bills. Usually by the same people who busy themselves with defending the confederate flag and spent a large part of 2012 worrying about the Twinkie Crisis. To be frank none of them seemed to notice that this report in question was about all types of hot dogs not just vegetarian ones. In fairness I’d like to note how skewed that first headline is by quoting the Clear Food, who conducted the study, so you can compare the two:

  • Hygienic issues: Clear Food found human DNA in 2% of the samples. 2/3rds of the samples with human DNA were vegetarian products.

The reason I got such a kick out of these is, none of it is new information. We have been studying and talking for years about how processed meats are bad for us. Even the staunchest of bacon lover knew that with each delicious smokey, salt laden strip we were hurtling that much faster towards the possibility of a protracted, ugly, and, agonizing death. If you’ve been in denial about that, you’re probably an idiot to begin with so this new declaration of fact may have come as some sort of surprise. To those of us who bother to pay even the slightest attention to the information available about what we choose to stuff in our consumption orifices, we’ll probably just shrug and just keep doing what we’ve always done. We’re a stubborn lot that way. Besides put into perspective, a WHO official said,

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed”

As for what is or isn’t in your hot dog. I’d like to remind you that you’re eating a GOD DAMNED HOT DOG! Even if you choose a meatless one it’s still probably just random parts swept up off the floor after they were done making real food, that’s thrown into the hopper of some industrial grinder by some schlub, who’s supervisor is on his ass about production quotas, and then extruded into a tube-like shape for your face cramming pleasure1.  I’d like to think that we all got the memo that said the FDA2 has set what it views as “acceptable” limits of things we’d all rather not know about in our favorite comestibles. I’m not going to get into details, you can just Google that stuff if you feel like being slightly mortified for the rest of your day.

All in all I am glad that there are organizations like the WHO and Clear Foods that apparently have our interests at heart, or are at least willing to make the attempt at convincing us they do. The problem for me is how we get our information dispersed to us; in little packets with flashy names, with very little of anything digestible inside.

Or, am I talking about our food again?


  1. This is partially conjecture on my part and largely an excuse to use the words “extruded”, “tube-like” and, “face cramming pleasure” all in the same sentence. 
  2. Insert the appropriate puppet agency that is responsible for making you feel safe about the food supply in your country, if you like.