Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Issues of being Left Handed

(from I am left handed.  Making my family even more extraordinary is my brother is also left handed.  In a recent post, I talked about the odds of winning the lottery, and one of the odds I mentioned was you were way more likely of dying from being left handed than winning the lottery. One of my readers found this pretty humorous that one can die from being left handed.

There are many famous left handers. They include artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Mozart, and Beethoven.  They are famous in sports including Babe Ruth, Larry Bird and Pele.  Actors from the likes of Charlie Chaplin,  Fred Astaire, Redford, Cruise and De Niro.  Musicians like Hendrix, McCartney, Bowie and Sting and writers like Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, and Lewis Carol.  Bill Gates, J. Edgar Hoover, and presidents like Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton are all left handed. Okay three of the biggest villains in history too, Billy the Kid, The Boston Strangler, and Jack the Ripper were also left handed.  The list is impressive.  You can find a bigger list of the left handed here.

Still though left handers are more apt to have an accident, have a shorter life span or a longer one (depending on the study)  and be at greater risk for psychiatric disorders.  Lefties seem to be more likely to suffer from ADHD, dyslexia, and mood disorders.  They also make up 20 percent of all people with schizophrenia. This is despite the  low number of people who are left handed.

Lefties are only 10 percent of the population.  Mixed handers are 1 percent of the population. Never the less, we have our issues.  There is no statistical difference in IQ but there is mounting evidence that lefties are better at divergent thinkers.  A Harvard University study also shows lefties are likely to make about 10 per cent  lower than the right handed.  A large number of baseball players are cross dominant meaning that they are left handed but right eyed or vice versa.

In more recent studies it has been discovered that while most right handers rely primarily on the left hemisphere of their brain, some 70 percent of lefties also rely one their left side for language.  The problem is though that more is not known about left handers because most brain studies will not use left handers because our brains are wired differently.

Then there are the daily issues.  I am old enough to remember when the left handed were regularly converted by schools to right handed when it comes to writing.  I had heard that one reason was because left handedness was the mark of the devil since Satan sat on God's left hand. This is not really biblical as much as Milton, but it was a fun if not silly idea.  It was probably two fold.  It is easier for a right handed teacher to teach right hand writing and cursive writing is not designed for the left handed, hence the famous "hook" of some lefties which is something I refuse to do. The school was going to convert my brother but my father let them know that my brother was who was, and he would remain left handed.  I had a great uncle who was "ambidextrous" because he was converted from left to right in school.

Then there is the issue of things like spiral bound notebooks, scissors, golf clubs, and sundry tools.
I am told that left handers who learn to play golf right handed are better and stronger golfers.  I would point out though that in boxing and fencing, lefties do better because our stance and fighting hand confuse the right handed.  We on the other hand (pun intended) are used to thinking left handed in a right handed world. If you have a gym class, there is always the problem of the one left handed baseball glove they own. Bring your own.

You can buy left handed spiral notebooks and scissors.  These however cost a lot more.  I once had a student tell me he couldn't write well in his notebook because of the rings.  I did point out to him that he could remove the paper from a three ring binder. He apparently had never realized it.
Ball point pens also do not work as well for lefties since we are pushing the pen and not pulling it.  I used to complain when people used my pen because the pen always seemed to write more poorly after a right hander used it. I also get the joy of having ink or lead all over the side of my hand. Writing at a chalk board could also be an interesting experience as I could write and erase at the same time.

How about sitting at a table?  There is the issue of bumping elbows.  I am forever looking for another leftie to sit next to or a corner or end space for my elbow when I eat.  A waitperson almost never hands me a coffee cup the correct way.  Then there is the fact that cup holders in cars are for right handed and for that matter, measuring cups are also labeled for the right handers.

And now there is technology.  I hold my tablet in my left hand.  If I am reading I must be careful because I will suddenly find it scrolling backwards. I also suspect that my Kinect does not like left handers.  It certainly seems to read my right hand movements better than left.  Computer keyboards also have the number pad on the right side.  Game controllers and the computer mouse also clearly designed for the right handed as is the writing pen for the credit card signature machine.

And yet despite all the minor problems and some of the not so minor ones, I would never give up being left handed.  I love it.  Finding another leftie is like finding a family member you didn't know you have.  My wife has learned how to hand me a coffee cup and I actually don't have to worry about all those mental problems...well past that. I love being a leftie. I am unique and ...

It lets me write a blog about being left handed.