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Write here, write now!
June 21, 2001 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Write here, write now! Is this *really* something that taxpayer money should be used for? At least there could be some sort of scientific merit in spending tax dollars on studying methane emissions from cows, or studying ways to alleviate the energy shortage in California, but a penmanship contest? (groan)
posted by davidmsc (22 comments total)

 
I don't know, I can see two sides to this, one is kids need to learn to write by hand and the other is they don't. They do because it would serve the same function as art, or painting or such. You can't expect *everyone* to suddenly go for academic study in school (what it's there for), much less some contest. The kids that want to show off their back-slanted, wide-'w'-'o's and all that will get a chance.

And they don't because with Cold War getting back on we'll all fall under the heavy trap of communism and will be forced to write books upon books of letter 'z,e,k,l,m,n,o,p'. Ofcourse since I've already done that fuck it. Yeah, my english penmanship sucks, the letter are disproportionate and such.

Kids at young age are best used for heavy manual labor, have the little bastards scrub deck or clean closets.
posted by tiaka at 5:33 AM on June 21, 2001


My handwriting has always sucked. Long before I started typing on a computer. In fact come to think of it, I flunked typing class in high school. It's not computers or any aspect of technology that's causing children to have poor cursive. It's just bad teaching. And if you paid me less than 20 thousand dollars a year, I wouldn't do anything good either.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:43 AM on June 21, 2001


I think it's good that 'penmanship' is being encouraged, although I can hardly see why a difference in teaching methods is going to cost so much money.

In France, penmanship is encouraged fiercely. A very important test in French schools is le dictée (dictation test) which allows kids to demonstrate their grammar and vocabulary skills. I know that most English kids have absolutely appalling grammar, so perhaps this is a good idea.

The French also have a national televised competition called Les Dicos d'or in which someone reads a long passage of text, and a large group of people have to write it down as he goes. The millions of viewers often also take part, and check their mistakes at the end.

Sadly, we seem to be heading in the other direction.. with TV programmes telling kids how to type crappy SMS messages 'n as fw ltrs as pssibl w/ no grama'.
posted by wackybrit at 6:06 AM on June 21, 2001


Hell no we shouldn't be spending hard earned taxpayer money for such useless bullshit!
Don't these idiots know we have important stuff like a faith based missile defense system to pay for?
What in the world were these idiots thinking?
Teaching kids to write legibly serves no good purpose of the ruling proletariat.
What maroons!(sarcasm alert)
posted by nofundy at 6:45 AM on June 21, 2001


wackybrit: American kids, and many 'grown-ups' have appalling grammar as well. I think this needs to be more emphasized. the phrase "should have went", for instance, is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

My handwriting always sucked. I always hid behind being lefthanded as an excuse but I never got higher than a 'C' in handwriting in gradeschool. I always thought that, beyond a point, you can't learn good handwriting.
posted by srw12 at 7:40 AM on June 21, 2001


This is a waste and on top of that what could be more useless than writing in cursive? Cursive is illegible because its a crappy format. If anything fast priting should be encouranged instead of this messy script. Its really about time we stop wasting time in school to teach this stuff.

I can't read a single thing my coworkers write to me in cursive, not because they're slobs - which they are, but because cursive is essentially messy. If anything this contest should be discouraging cursive.
posted by skallas at 7:42 AM on June 21, 2001


I asked my doctor about this. He sneered. Said he was a millionaire and no one but a phamacist could read what he scribbled. Losers, he said, had neat handwriting. If you can not be a doctor, then, he noted, make enough bread and hire a secretaryk prefarbly a young woman with a great body....and not a feminist.
posted by Postroad at 7:48 AM on June 21, 2001


$50-100K is scarcely a drop in the budget bucket in California. They probably piss away that much every day on paper clips and such.
posted by briank at 8:16 AM on June 21, 2001


The contest would cost about $50,000 to $100,000 a year...

Let's see: $100,000 divided by 280,000,000 Americans....the calculator that comes with Windows won't even do that math, but it works out to 1/28 of a penny per american per year. Bunch of whining over nothing, while Bush wants to spend billions (trillions?) on Cold War II. Spare us.
posted by jpoulos at 8:17 AM on June 21, 2001


jpoulos -- you're on the right track, but this is a California state legislature thing, so try the math again.
posted by briank at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2001


Damn! I'm OK at math, it's Geography that always killed me. :-)

California Population=33,145,000
Price per California resident per year= $0.0033

Population in work force (presumed taxpayers)=16,545,000
Price per California taxpayer per year= $0.0016
posted by jpoulos at 8:36 AM on June 21, 2001


Price per California taxpayer per year= $0.0016

What does this mean exactly? Is there some price at which we say no way to stupid ideas? Is it 1/2 a penny per person, please inform me so I can start my research applications to teach dolphins how to watch professional wrestling.

If its a bad idea then its a waste of money regardless of how trivial it might seem in the big picture.
posted by skallas at 8:46 AM on June 21, 2001


jpoulos, try checking your figures one more time.

$100,000 / 16,545,000 people = $0.006

i.e., twice as much per taxpayer as per capita (not half as much)
posted by OneBallJay at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2001


Is there some price at which we say no way to stupid ideas?

Could it be related to the ratio of ISP fees spent on MetaFilter posts decrying nominally stupid ideas?

Jeez, skallas, did you have a near-death experience with cursive writing? It isn't an inherently awful method of writing anyway. And this is far from the dumbest idea I've ever heard--when I was in grade school, cursive writing got me into calligraphy, which in turn got me heavily into art.
posted by Skot at 9:00 AM on June 21, 2001


Is there some price at which we say no way to stupid ideas?

I think there is, and I think it's somewhere more than a tenth of a cent per year.

This is hardly the same thing as teaching dolphins how to watch wrestling (which would cost way more than this program). The concept of "writing things down" has played a rather significant role in our civilization, you must admit. Spending $0.016 to empower children to express themselves with a 10-cent pencil rather than a $3000 computer is a bargain, if you ask me.

This is a non-story. California spends more than $100,000 per year on urnial cakes for the men's room at the State House. You're not going to prove some right-wing talking point about wasteful government spending with an example like this.
posted by jpoulos at 9:04 AM on June 21, 2001


jpoulos, try checking your figures one more time.

Like I said, the calculator can't cope. We need a government program to promote the use of an abacus! :-)
posted by jpoulos at 9:06 AM on June 21, 2001


"Snorky...love...The Rock!"
posted by davidmsc at 10:36 AM on June 21, 2001



It is not comparable to the abacus and the calculator, the abacus brings no additional benefit to the calculation over what a calculator can do.

Handwriting adds personality and emotion to otherwise plain writing. And there's the wonderful application of being able to write quick notes to yourself -- which the handhelds still have a way to go on. And there's always the need for a signature to make that otherwise dry document look personal. There will be occasions on which these kids will have to hand write, even in the year 2050.
posted by brucec at 10:59 AM on June 21, 2001


The concept of "writing things down" has played a rather significant role in our civilization, you must admit.

Lets not forget the printing press which for some crazy reason doesn't use cursive. Cursive is antiquated, useless in modern environments, and those that use it into adulthood end up with post-it notes that only they can read.

Your per person calculation is meaningless, if we're going to talk money its going to be about where *else* it could have gone. Opportunity costs and all.

I'm totally for a caligraphy contest because we admit its art and not practical and is a bit more ambitious than just writing correct cursive. Its the assumption that cursive is practical that really gets to me.

And yes, later on today there will be a link to the winners of the worst cursive contest, just give me some time to collect post-it notes from around the office.
posted by skallas at 11:32 AM on June 21, 2001


I'm also keen about simplified spelling and modernization of the english language.
posted by skallas at 11:36 AM on June 21, 2001


skallas: I'm also keen about simplified spelling and modernization of the english language

Esperanto, anyone? Hey, if it's good enough for Bill, it should be good enough for the rest of us. Listen for yourself!
posted by davidmsc at 12:39 PM on June 21, 2001


skallas:

Cursive is practical when one is writing in a hurry; printing is much slower. Cursive, in fact, led to the development of Shorthand, which was mandatory in the business world before Dictaphones came into the picture.

I'm sure a lot of folks view shorthand to be just as archaic as you see cursive, but I still use shorthand quite often, in fact...taking notes over the phone, jotting down directions, and even won a radio contest with it once: they played a quick montage of tunes, and you had to name them all. I was able to jot down the titles in shorthand as they played, and won a VCR for my trouble.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:09 PM on June 21, 2001


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