Friday, December 15, 2006

Taking my rightful place among bloggers on the left

I hereby join two other blogger, Michelle Malkin and Tammy Bruce, in officially declaring myself to be a woman of the Left.

Of the dominant left hand, that is. I'm not only a lefty, I'm very strongly left-handed, from an unusually left-handed family. Of the four of us--mother, father, brother, and myself--only my father was right-handed.

Although my politics have shifted my handedness has not. I was brought up in a left-handed culture, one in which the minority was right. Not only that, but several of my best friends growing up were also left-handed. So I somehow got the idea that left was best, and that it correlated with all sorts of good things such as creativity and intelligence.

And in fact, left-handedness does appear to correlate at least somewhat with those things, as well as mental slowness and certain types of brain damage. It appears the left-handed population is more likely to harbor outliers of both types--I'll leave it to my readers to determine which category I might fall into.

I've never felt left-handedness itself to be a handicap, however. Little things like having to learn to use a scissors with my right hand were a bit difficult at the outset, but now I wield one as well as anyone.

My mother, raised in the early part of the century, had a far more arduous time of it. Back then it was common practice to switch lefties, and she was forced to write and eat with her right hand. Perhaps for that reason, she's had a problem all her life in distinguishing right from left (not in the political sense, however); her spatial differentiation is somewhat poorly developed. It used to amuse me when I was little (children are so cruel!) to watch her taking a surrepticious glance at her wedding ring when asked for directions, in order to cue herself as to which was left and which was right.

I have a theory--unsubstantiated--that there's a higher-than-average number of lefties in the blogger population. I'd love to do a survey. In fact, I'd like to propose that Pajamas Media, often accused of being too heavily skewed to the right, try to redress that imbalance by trumpeting how many of its bloggers are actually lefties.

The following theory, discussed in Wiki's article on lefthandedness, conforms to my own experience, and could help explain any preponderance of lefties that might be found among bloggers, at Pajamas or otherwise:

Left-handed persons are thought to process information using a "visual simultaneous" method in which several threads can be processed simultaneously. Another way to view this is such: Suppose there were a thousand pieces of popcorn and one of them was colored pink. The right-handed person — using the linear sequential processing style — would look at the popcorn one at a time until they encountered the pink one. The left-handed person would spread out the pieces of popcorn and visually look at all of them to find the one that was pink. A side effect of these differing styles of processing is that right handed persons need to complete one task before they can start the next. Left-handed people, by contrast, are capable and comfortable switching between tasks. This makes them appear (to the right-handed majority) as if they do not finish anything. Alternately, left-handed people have an excellent ability to multi-task. Perhaps the anecdotal evidence that suggests they are more creative stems from this ability to multi-task.

This is exactly the way I seem to work.

And Wikipedia has thoughtfully compiled this list of famous lefties. Take a look. I'm not sure how valid it is, but it's fun.

The list of sports figures is exceedingly lengthy, as would be expected. The advantages of left-handedness in most sports is well-known. Musicians, likewise, seem to be legion.

But to me the most fascinating are the politicians and world figures. Sure, you'd expect Castro and Hugo Chavez to be lefties. But both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (switched, like my mother was, and like his own politics were--he started out to the left and ended up on the right)? And how about the three Presidential candidates in 1992--Clinton, Bush I, and Perot, lefties all. What were the odds?

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