Jerry Hat Trick

Maybe the years I lived in England infected me with a soft spot for puns, or maybe it’s just that I enjoy playing around with words—as we humans make ourselves extinct, i.e. become extinguished rather than distinguished, I dreamed that insects would regain their ruling spot, setting up their planetary capital in a huge Hawaiian metropolis called Antsville, Hulabama.

Since originality wins in my world, I’m delighted there are no hits from Google on this new megacity—I am considerably more worried that it immediately detected my spoonerism and suggested what should have been my correct search terms.

That’s amazing. I find as years go by that my computer has become dyslexic—because it surely ain’t me—and I regularly msitype wodrs by swapping adjacent letters, but that does not extend to misrepresenting cunning stunts as stunning cunts.

And because today is a freewheeling text—like American foreign policy—no direction home, here are three thoughts on dis thislexia (the WordPress shellpecker is having a field day with me).

The first is that I only fuck up the words when I type—when I write it’s fine, and that’s how I know it’s my computer’s fault.

The second is that the kind of typos I make, typically insertions, deletions, and substitutions, are exactly what happens with genetic mutations, so if you suffer from this ailment, first of all test yourself in longhand—I bet you’re good, so the fault is clearly in your digital friend—and second, understand that you are in fact demonstrating evolutionary biology to the world at large.

The third is that I realized in recent years that I do a lot of typing without looking at the keys, and in general it works out fine. That qualifies me as a touch typist, albeit of the two finger variety—but you can do an awful lot with two fingers—if you don’t believe, me ask Django Reinhardt.

Django breaking the internet—you can see that both the pinky and ring fingers of his left hand are out of play, severely injured in a caravan fire.

Once in a while, I run a blind test for myself, just losing my eyes and ttpomf—that was meant to be just closing my eyes and typing, but I’m chilling, writing this on a laptop, and I do better at a proper click-click-keyboard.

And although ttpomf is vaguely reminiscent of the orang-u-tan covefefe, it’s a far more onomatopeic invention. The double t is there for emphasis of course, but you can see that the number of letters is correct and the wrong letters are shifted by one on the keyboard.

Which in this stream-of-consciousness article begs the question: is typing faster than writing? Science comes to the rescue, as always, unless you live in orangeland. At an annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (who knew?) in 1988, a paper was presented by C. Marlin “Lin” Brown—you can tell it’s proper science because the nick is shown in inverted commas, as in Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor, but why does Mr. or Ms. C. insist on qualifying the given name? Is it so (s)he’s not mistaken for a fish?

Since we’re playing word association football today, you should know that the legendary bluesman Hound Dog—if you excuse the paradox—was not only named after a U.S. president who was a great explorer, builder of the Panama Canal, and enthusiastic big game hunter, but also suffered from a condition called polydactylism—he had six fingers in each hand, so he could have spared Django a couple.

More bizarrely, he apparently sliced off one of said extra digits with a straight razor while he was drunk—but don’t worry, them extra digits were just nubs. And when you search for hound dog polydactyly, the first hit tells you: ‘Polydactyly is a rare occurrence where your dog is born with an extra toe or toes. It’s not considered a problem unless it catches on things.’

Catches on things? WTF?

So Marlin found that typing was five words per minute faster than writing—no details provided about errors. But it’s obvious that you’re much more prone to those when you type—that’s why they’re called typos, not writos. If you can’t spell—and many can’t these days, the principle reason being that in principal they’re not taught properly or don’t give a shit—they’re called spelling mistakes.

That paper should have qualified for an Ig Nobel prize—these coveted trophies have just been awarded for last year. One of the lucky winners published a paper on transporting rhinos upside down, and my favorite provides empirical evidence that orgasms are an effective nasal decongestant. I’m afraid I haven’t yet read the article, but since blowing your nose is also an effective decongestant, and presumably during enthusiastic sexual activity neither party is munitioned with a handkerchief, does this mean that the decongestion assistant is pulverized with nasal mucus at the critical juncture? Curious minds want to know.

My articles are generally like tennis—the game ends when the work is done, but today’s is a soccer game and time’s up—I need to pack a bag and get on an ATR to Spain, where a couple of days on the water will no doubt do wonders for my nasal passages.

But first I need to get a couple of lithium batteries through airport security.

As the jerry hat tricks who were on TV yesterday noted, since 911 air travel has never been the same.

But as luck would have it, I have an ace in the hole. In 2009, Dr. Elena Bodnar came up with a brilliant invention, which won her an Ig Nobel and demonstrated she was a decade ahead of her time.

Her invention? A black brassiere that uncouples to form two perfectly fashioned face masks.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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