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Tony's the southpaw, not I. Being left-handed is a definite advantage in baseball,

For batting, yes, but only for a couple of positions on the field. It's a definite advantage at first base and it's a plus as a pitcher, but I don't think there are all that many left-handed third basemen. (There appear to be currently none playing in the major leagues, although although there are a few that bat left-handed.) There are also very few left-handed catchers. (It's essentially impossible to find a kid's left-handed catcher's mitt in a store, and even ordering out of a catalog a surprising number are only made for right-handers. I suspect that we're going to have to order one for Josh for next season, since he seems to like catching.)
And even for first base, going by Yahoo Sports, it seems that being left-handed isn't seen as the advantage it used to be. There are currently ten lefties in the majors who play only first base:

Adam LaRoche (ATL), Todd Helton (COL), Carlos Peña (DET), Darin Erstad (LAA), Hee Seop Choi (LAD), Lyle Overbay (MIL), Justin Morneau (MIN), J.T. Snow (SF), Travis Lee (TB), Nick Johnson (WAS)

four who primarily play first base, but also play in the outfield or as a designated hitter:
Jay Gibbons (BAL, 1B/RF), Rafael Palmeiro (BAL, 1B/DH), Ben Broussard (CLE, 1B/LF), Daryle Ward (PIT, 1B/RF),
and another five who primarily play outfield or as designated hitter, but who also play first base:
Shawn Green (ARZ, RF/1B), David Ortiz (BOS, DH/1B), Lance Berkman (HOU, LF/1B), Ryan Klesko (SD, LF/1B), Brad Wilkerson (WAS, CF/1B)
for a grand total of 19 left-handed first basemen.

By contrast, there are 20 right-handers who play only first base:

Tony Clark (ARZ), Julio Franco (ATL), Derrek Lee (CHC), Paul Konerko (CHW), Sean Casey (CIN), Carlos Delgado (FLA), Todd Self (HOU), Mike Sweeney (KC), Olmedo Sáenz (LAD), Matthew LeCroy (MIN), Doug Mientkeiwicz (NYM), Tino Martinez (NYY), Scott Hatteberg (OAK), Jim Thome (PHI), Phil Nevin (SD), Richie Sexon (SEA), Lance Niekro (SF), Eduardo Pérez (TB), Mark Teixera (TEX), Eric Hinske (TOR),
four who primarily play first base, but also play another infield position:
Chad Tracy (ARZ, 1B/3B), Chris Gómez (BAL, 1B/SS), José Vizcaíno (HOU, 1B/SS), Greg Dobbs (SEA, 1B/3B),
eight who primarily play first base, but also play outfield or as designated hitter:
Kevin Millar (BOS, 1B/LF), Dmitri Young (DET, 1B/LF), Mike Lamb (HOU, 1B/LF), Eli Marrero (KC, 1B/LF), Jason Giambi (NYY, 1B/DH), Mark Sweeney (SD, 1B/RF), Raíl Ibañez (SEA, 1B/LF), Albert Pukolz (STL, 1B/LF),
nine who primarily play another infield position (mostly third base) but also play first base:
Kevin Youkilis (BOS, 3B/1B), José Hernández (CLE, 3B/1B), Robb Quinlan (LAA, 3B/1B), Jeff Cirillo (MIL, 3B/1B), Russell Branyan (MIL, 3B/1B), Wes Helms (MIL, 3B/1B), Michael Cuddyer (MIN, 3B/1B), Miguel Cairo (NYM, 2B/1B), Shea Hillenbrand (TOR, 3B/1B),

and three outfielders or designated hitters who also play first base:

Matt Stairs (KC, RF/1B), Aubrey Huff (TB, RF/1B), Josh Phelps (TB, DH/1B)
for a grand total of 44 right-handed first basemen. All of the other 36 non-pitcher left-handers in the majors are in the outfield:
Ryan Langerhans (ATL, LF/RF), Johnny Damon (BOS, CF), Trot Nixon (BOS, RF), Todd Hollandsworth (CHC, LF), Timo Pérez (CHW, LF/RF), Jacob Cruz (CIN, RF), Ken Griffey Jr. (CIN, CF), Jody Gerut (CLE, RF), Ryan Ludwick (CLE, RF/LF), Grady Sizemore (CLE, CF), Brad Hawpe (COL, RF), Cory Sullivan (COL, CF/RF), Juan Pierre (FLA, CF), Jason Lane (HOU, RF/LF), Orlando Palmeiro (HOU, LF/RF), David DeJesús (KC, LF), Terrence Long (KC, LF/CF), Garret Anderson (LAA, LF), Steve Finley (LAA, CF), Ricky Ledee (LAD, LF), Jacque Jones (MIN, RF), Eric Valent (NYM, RF/LF), Mark Kotsay (OAK, CF), Charles Thomas (OAK, LF/RF), Endy Chávez (PHI, CF), Kenny Lofton (PHI, CF), Tike Redman (PIT, CF), Brian Giles (SD, RF), Dave Roberts (SD, CF), Jeremy Reed (SEA, CF), Jim Edmonds (STL, CF), Carl Crawford (TB, LF/CF), Damon Hollins (TB, CF/RF), Álex Sánchez (TB, CF/RF), David Dellucci (TEX, LF), Laynce Nix (TEX, CF)

There are no left handed catchers, and no left-handed infielders except for first basemen. Two teams (the Yankees and the Blue Jays) have no left handers other than pitchers.

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For some reason, the nuns would not allow us to ... and the hook in my grip has largely straightened out.

So how on earth can you see what you're writing, since your hand must cover what you've written.

It is more difficult, but it is possible. You're just not trying hard enough (speaking as a non-hooking left hander who can see what he writes and never smudges).

Chris Malcolm (Email Removed) +44 (0)131 651 3445 DoD #205 IPAB, Informatics, JCMB, King's Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK (http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/cam/)
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It is more difficult, but it is possible. You're just not trying hard enough (speaking as a non-hooking left hander who can see what he writes and never smudges).

Unlike right-handers whose writing ability is something of a continuum with some excellent writers, some dreadful ones, but most somewhere in between, left-handers, in my experience, appear to come in two types.

Either their writing is virtually illegible - or it is extraordinarily neat and tidy. I've seldom found any left-hander between the two.

I've also never encountered a left-hander who has moved from the one camp to the other. Exhortation, threats, punishment, bribes, humiliation and polite requests have no effect at all.

Politics are not an instrument for effecting social change; they are the art of making the inevitable appear to be a matter of wise human choice. -Quentin Crisp, 'Resident Alien'
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You'll also find far more mathematicians and chess players left-handed than you'd expect from the proportions in the general population ... left-handedness promotes the spatial abilities of men which are particularly valuable in maths and chess (as well as some sports).

I can remember being in maths workshops where right handers were beginning to feel threatened :-)
I long ago saw it seriously suggested, somewhere I've never since been able to track down, that it also facilitated wordplay, as suggested by the claimed higher proportion of humorous, satirical, punny, etc. writers who were left handed.

Chris Malcolm (Email Removed) +44 (0)131 651 3445 DoD #205 IPAB, Informatics, JCMB, King's Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK (http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/cam/)
You'll also find far more mathematicians and chess players left-handed ... valuable in maths and chess (as well as some sports).

I can remember being in maths workshops where right handers were beginning to feel threatened :-)

I can believe that! It is a strange combination of skills, when you think about it, being good at acting, language - and maths. I'm not objecting, far from it, but it makes one wonder what evolutionary driver there might be for this to have survived, but only in 11% of the population.
I long ago saw it seriously suggested, somewhere I've never since been able to track down, that it also facilitated wordplay, as suggested by the claimed higher proportion of humorous, satirical, punny, etc. writers who were left handed.

I haven't seen that. It would work if the corpus callosum were larger in left-handers (as it is in women).
Looking it up, I find an article that suggests just that:

"
Lefty means larger - left-handed people have larger corpus callosum Psychology Today, Nov, 1985 by Robert J. Trotter

Lefty means larger Lefties are different not only in the hand they prefer to use, but also in the way their brains are organized.

This has been known for quite some time. What is not known is why. Now comes a new piece to be fitted into this far from finished puzzle. It appears that the corpus callosum, the primary structure connecting the hemispheres of the brain, is larger in lef-handers and ambidextrous people than in right-handers.
Psychologist Sandra F. Witelson, who made this discovery, studied 42 seriously ill cancer patients who had agreed to extensive neurological testing (including a test for handedness) and, in the event of death, to a postmortem examination of their brains. Witelson's postmortems reveal that the size of the corpus callosum correlates with hand preference. Specifically, the corpus callosum in left-handed and ambidextrous people was 11 percent larger than in right-handers. Witelson's comparison of male and female brains suggests that the hand groups may differ more in men than in women but within each sex she still found the 11 percent difference. Such a difference, Witelson says, could represent as many as
25 million more nerve fibers.

Witelson and anatomist Marc Colonnier are in the process of determining whether there actually are more fibers or whether the existing fibers are perhaps thicker or more sparsely distributed than in the brains of right-handers.
Why this difference? Witelson's explanation is based on what is known about hemispheric specialization. For most right-handers, the left hemisphere performs better on linquistic tasks while the right processes spatial information more efficiently. For left-handers, however, linguistic and spatial tasks tend to be divided between both hemispheres (see "Male Brain, Female Brain: The Hidden Difference," this issue). this bilateral situation may require better communication between the hemispheres and thus the larger corpus callosum on left-handers.

The question now is what comes first, left-handedness or the larger corpus callosum? It is possible that the larger callosum is a result of left-handedness and the associated hemispheric specialization. But, Witelson says, there is no evidence that the nerve fibers connecting the hemispheres increase after birth. Therefore, it is unlikely that handedness, which is not clearly established until long after these fibers stop growing, actually influences the size of the corpus callosum.

An alternative explanation, Witelson suggests, is based on the fact that the corpus callosum has fewer fibers at maturity than in the fetal and newborn stages. This is the result of well-documented, naturally occurring regressive events, such as the death of neurons and the elimination of axons, that take place as the brain is developing and fine-tuning itself. Witelson thinks that fewer fibers are eliminated in left-handers' brains. The next question is what leads to the greater elimination in right-handers. Among the possible answers are genetic influences, hormonal influences or developmental timing.

Should left-handers now start bragging about having bigger brains? Witelson says bigger does not necessarily mean better, in this case. A larger corpus callosum and less hemispheric specialization might be better for certain cognitive skills and worse for others. "We just don't know at this point," she says. "What we have to do is correlate certain measures of intelligence, musical abilities, spatial abilities and so on with the size of the corpus callosum to see if there is a link between anatomy and cognitive skills." We'll have to wait for this next piece to the puzzle.
Witelson is in the departments of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her research appeared in Science (Vol. 229, No. 4714).
"

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Unlike right-handers whose writing ability is something of a continuum with some excellent writers, some dreadful ones, but most somewhere ... from the one camp to the other. Exhortation, threats, punishment, bribes, humiliation and polite requests have no effect at all.

As an ambidextrous person who teaches/remediates handwriting for right- and left-handers alike (among other things, hospitals hire me to get their MDs writing legibly at emergency-room speed),

I've successfully moved my numerous leftie students from the "illegible" camp to the "neat and tidy" one. Those completing this "migration" have included people who lost the use of their dominant hand through accident or through parental/teacherly torture (still prevalent against lefties in some nations).
Happiest day of my life as a handwriting-teacher: the first time I enabled a natural left-hander (switched to right-hand-only by Filipino nuns) to "re-left-ify" herself (which she very much wanted, despite having developed adequate right-handed writing)
Saddest day of my life as a handwriting-teacher: the first of several times that I got an e-mail from a kindergarten-teacher who asked how to make the several lefties in her classroom into "normal" (right-handed) people "so that they will never, ever want to use their left hands again. What is the best way, Kate? (this teacher asked) - it is illegal in my state to hurt them physically, so would it work if I just required all the left-handed kids to wear mittens on their left hand at all times in the classroom? Or what method should be used?"
I wrote this teacher a quite harsh letter.

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http://www.global2000.net/HandwritingRepair
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Saddest day of my life as a handwriting-teacher: the first of several times that I got an e-mail from a ... at all times in the classroom? Or what method should be used?" I wrote this teacher a quite harsh letter.

It's dreadful that that sort of thing still goes on! Wouldn't it be better to teach people to type? Left-handers have an advantage there with the normal qwerty layout being designed so that it allows quick typing as a left-hander.

Death, after all, is the ultimate analgesic. - Prof. A.C Grayling, BMJ Editorial 'Right to Die' 9/4/205
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Peter asks:
... Wouldn't it be better to teach people to type? Left-handers have an advantage there with the normal qwerty layout being designed so that it allows quick typing as a left-hander.

I believe that people (left- and right-handed and ambidextrous) should, if at all possible, learn to handwrite and to type.

Some reasons for knowing how to write/print well and rapidly with a pen or pencil:
/1/ You may, one day, find yourself without a working keyboard.

/2/ You may find that not all of your daily tasks lend themselves to keyboarding or dictation or such. (Some hospitals that "totally computerized everything" 2 or 5 or 10 years ago called me in afterwards because they found that handwriting-goofs of doctors still affected such things as the scribbled Post-Its they wrote to colleagues.)

/3/ Some evidence exist that the muscular feedback involved in writing letters by hand often improves a learner's memory for spelling (as well as his/her odds of learning to compose accurately/easily/fluently) to a degree that does not happen with the simpler muscular feedback involved in keyboarding
/4/ Examinations in many countries require handwritten essays. For example, in the USA the SAT exam (taken as part of college admissions) and many standardized achievement exams given to schoolchildren have recently added a handwritten-essay section taken and graded under strict time-limits. I've worked with several exam-preparation schools, at their request, getting the kids'/teens' handwriting functional for this and other purposes.

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Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Peter asks:

... Wouldn't it be better to teach people to type? ... designed so that it allows quick typing as a left-hander.

I believe that people (left- and right-handed and ambidextrous) should, if at all possible, learn to handwrite and to type.

I agree that it is useful to know how to write - I'm not sure that it has to be possible to write well. I find that I can type for around four hours flat with no strain, but ten minutes writing causes intense pain in my fingers, wrist and hands - this is because I usually only need to write for about a minute a week, mainly the sum of the times that I sign my name.
Some reasons for knowing how to write/print well and rapidly with a pen or pencil: /1/ You may, one day, find yourself without a working keyboard.

What a good opportunity to telephone, record my points with a voice recorder, send an SMS.
/2/ You may find that not all of your daily tasks lend themselves to keyboarding or dictation or such. (Some ... afterwards because they found that handwriting-goofs of doctors still affected such things as the scribbled Post-Its they wrote to colleagues.)

I'm pleased that I never became a Doctor, or a Lawyer or a Policeman - all three jobs involve far more handwriting that I could possibly have enjoyed. I had contemplated the first two, but I feel well out of it.
/3/ Some evidence exist that the muscular feedback involved in writing letters by hand often improves a learner's memory for ... of learning to compose accurately/easily/fluently) to a degree that does not happen with the simpler muscular feedback involved in keyboarding

I can believe that. That's why spelling checkers are so useful. I also know that it is better to write, or use a manual typewriter because the first draft is often to fluid and hence crap - the fix is always to re-write and edit everything you write (that needs it) several times.
/4/ Examinations in many countries require handwritten essays. For example, in the USA the SAT exam (taken as part of ... time-limits. I've worked with several exam-preparation schools, at their request, getting the kids'/teens' handwriting functional for this and other purposes.

I had that problem a few years back. I had to write two three-hour examinations. I explained that my writing is illegible, that I feel physical pain when I write for longer than ten minutes and they arranged for me to have a keyboard. Maybe some people aren't very good at negotiation.
I suppose that the skill that examiners have of reading illegible handwriting will die out some day - I was extremely impressed with a couple of masters at school who could read my writing far, far better than I could, when they asked for help deciphering something I knew there was no point, if they couldn't read it, I certainly wouldn't have the faintest clue of what it might be. I'd rather that everybody could type and people didn't have to wear out their eyes and their patience reading horrible hand-written scripts.
Latin and Greek are, sadly, I know, going out of fashion. People should still be able to learn them, but they now aren't required for Law or Medicine. The Luddite in me finds this unfortunate, but I understand it. I don't understand why writing continues as it does, when it ought to be becoming extinct.
Actually I do have one theory. When I took typing lessons at school I had no trouble getting a place in the entirely voluntary class - most people thought that it was girlie and sissy to type. I've known a number of women who've resisted learning to type specifically so that they won't be treated as secretaries. This old-fashioned sexist view of typing really should be passé by now. I suspect that it isn't because such ideas do take a generation or two to become extinct, that's all.

The time to do it is now, before computers have working voice-recognition and clever mouse driven programs that obviate the need even to type.

Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush?
They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. the speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us - they are the Klu Kux Klan. I *** down the throats of these Nazis. - Hunter S. Thompson in 'Kingdom of Fear'
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