‘Lefties’ rule, especially in White House
So you're a "leftie?"
Turn on the TV news at any time of any day and watch two prominent U.S. senators battle it out to become the next president of the United States.
Both are minorities, and that common bond has nothing to do with age or race.
Watch them signing autographs, and you'll notice that both Barack Obama and John McCain are left-handed. Yesterday was their day -- World Left-Handed Day.
About one in 10 people are left-handed. With a world population of 6.684 billion, that means about 668,000,000 people are left-handed. It does vary from country to country, race to race, even ethnicity to ethnicity. "Lefties" are more apt to be male.
Three of our last four presidents were left-handed -- Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Soon, we can say that four of the last five were lefties.
But left-handedness has some hazards. Statistics show that left-handed people are also more likely to be schizophrenic, alcoholic, delinquent, dyslexic, have Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as mental disabilities. They're also more likely to die young and get into accidents.
Studies also show that lefties might be more intellectual. Tests conducted at St. Lawrence University in New York found that there were more left-handed people with IQs over 140 than right-handed people. Not bad for a minority. Famous left-handed thinkers in history include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin.
Other presidents who were left-handed are Jefferson, Garfield, Hoover, Truman, JFK and Ford. So are tycoons Bill Gates, Steve Forbes, Ross Perot.
In 2006, in a study at Lafayette College and Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that left-handed men are 15 percent richer than right-handed men who attended college, and 26 percent richer if they graduated. The wage difference is still unexplainable and does not appear to apply to women.
Left-handedness also appears to occur more frequently in both identical and fraternal twins, and in individuals with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Down's Syndrome, autism and mental retardation.
Rules prohibit playing left-handed in some sports -- polo, for example -- and special equipment is required for southpaw athletes in some sports, such as baseball gloves and golf clubs. Many tools are made only for right-handers. But you can find left-handed scissors, knives and monkey wrenches.
In many languages, the left side is often associated with awkwardness, clumsiness. "Two left feet" means to be bad at dancing. In Mandarin, the adjective "left" means "improper" or "out of accord." In Russian, "to stray left" is a euphemism for being unfaithful to a spouse.
Left-handers suffered severe prejudice during the 18th and 19th centuries, and their left-handedness was often beaten out of them.
In the field of music, there are guitars, trumpets and other instruments made specifically for left-handed musicians, though most simply adjust and play instruments that were designed for those who are right-handed. Guitarist Jimi Hendrix played a right-handed guitar strung upside down to accommodate his left-handedness. Paul McCartney first played John Lennon's right-handed guitar upside down, too. Ringo Starr is also left-handed, even though he plays a right-handed drum set, which gives him a distinct style.
Here are a few other notables who were or are lefties: Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Joan of Arc, Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Gandhi, Napoleon (& Josephine), Oprah Winfrey, Fidel Castro, Helen Keller, John Dillinger, Jack-The-Ripper, Mark Twain, both Don and Phil of The Everly Brothers, Judy Garland, Cole Porter, Michelangelo, George Burns, Charlie Chaplin, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Keanu Reeves, Mark Spitz, Dorothy Hamill, Bill Russell, John McEnroe, Babe Ruth and Kermit The Frog.
Left-handed people seem to occupy the extremes when it comes to both health and ability. They are said to be the extremely gifted and the extremely compromised.
That brings me back to today's news about our two left-handed candidates for president.
Keith Haugen is a musician, composer and teacher. He is right-handed.