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Mikmania

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Left-handed people are such a sorry lot. Though they are a minority (perhaps 10% of the population), no antidiscrimination laws protect them. They bump elbows with their partners at the dinner table. They are clumsy with scissors and wrenches. In a world designed and dominated by righties, they are condemned to a lifetime of snubs, of fumbling with gadgets and switches and buttons. Possibly because of a stressful birth or because the left side of the brain sometimes doesn't know what the right side is doing, they suffer disproportionately from migraine headaches and stuttering. Since lefties also tend to be dyslectic, they are forever going right when they want to go left, transposing digits when they punch up phone numbers and, when writing words, getting their letters all mixed pu.

 

Now they have something else to worry about. Two right-handed Ph.D.s, Diane F. Halpern of California State University and Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last week that righties live longer than lefties. The researchers examined the death certificates of 987 men and women in Southern California and found that the mean age at death was 75 for right-handed people and 66 for lefties. One reason for this discrepancy may be that left-handed people seem to be more susceptible to fatal accidents (7.9% vs. 1.5%), groping, as they must, through the mirror images of their daily lives.

 

The California study was quickly attacked by other researchers, who contended that other factors may be more relevant, such as illness or poverty. Still, the report cannot come as a complete surprise to lefties, who have suffered from superstition and suspicion for centuries. Even the Bible equates left-handedness with evil, right-handedness with virtue and godliness. Matthew's parable, for example, tells of the sheep "on the right hand" that were sent to heaven; the goats were on the left, so they went to hell.

 

And it's been hell ever since, aided and abetted by snide, pejorative language. From Latin comes the disapproving sinister (on the left, inauspicious) and the flattering dexterous (on the right, skillful). The Spanish word for left-handed, zurdo, means malicious. If you are gauche (left) in France, you are tactless and unsophisticated. Adroit comes from the French a droit (to the right), and we know what maladroit means -- especially when we see a left-handed violinist bowing northwest while the rest of the string section is northeast. A left-handed compliment is not nice, but a right-hand man is indispensable. If you get up on the wrong (left) side of the bed, you are grumpy. Even rwiting about it can give a leftie a migraine.

 

Still, lefties do not always cede the upper hand. Tennis players like Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe have an advantage that puts a deadly spin on the ball, and southpaws from Ty Cobb to Sandy Koufax have always been prized in baseball. And how about history's Left-Handed Hall of Fame? Lefty Napoleon! Lefty Picasso! Also such a contemporary personage as that stunning example of dyslexia in motion, Gerald Ford.

 

If you think hard about all those achievers, the news from California is not so depressing after all. So you die sooner. So what? Who wants to live forever, rihgt?

 

 

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972749,00.html#ixzz0yUONmSOd

 

 

poor lefties...

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