Saturday 25 Jun 2016

The Einstein Font
David Simmonds



Desk of Albert Einstein on 18 April 1955, the day of his death.

You will of course spot the logical fallacy in the following,

Point 1 All women have two ears.

Point 2 Fred has two ears.

Point 3 Therefore, Fred is a woman.

All women may have two ears, but it doesn’t follow that all two eared creatures are women. Fred is probably a man, although he could be woman, with a masculine-sounding name. He or she could also be a dog, a cat or an elephant.

If I laid out something similar, you might treat it as a bit fishy:

Point 1 Einstein was a genius.

Point 2 Einstein had a distinct, but tidy handwriting style.

Point 3 If I adopt Einstein’s handwriting style, I will become a genius, too.


Writing a genius does not make or does it?

Einstein may have had tidy handwriting, but that doesn’t mean all geniuses do, or that only geniuses do or one can somehow acquire genius from mimicking Einstein’s handwriting.

Well, unbelievably, maybe, a German software developer received over $50,000, in a crowd funding campaign, to develop a software program that replicates Einstein’s handwriting. What attracted the develop was y the fact that Einstein’s handwriting was small, neat and orderly;  in short, “beautiful,”  just like a mathematical formula should appear, although Einstein was a physicist. The font released in late 2015, which is the centenary of Einstein’s announcement of his general theory of relativity.

According to the Toronto “Star,” the developer doesn’t claim using his handwriting font will make genius bloom. He merely states, “when one uses Einstein’s handwriting as a font, a spark of his genius potentially could reflect in one’s own writing.” The developer draws the analogy to wearing your best clothes instead of a sweat suit. When you do, he notes, “it can inspire you a little.”

We can just laugh that one off, can’t we? Well, my first instinct was to do so, but now I’m not sure. Consider the following,

Point 1 Einstein was a genius.

Point 2 Einstein kept a notoriously messy des, which is true.

Point 3 If I keep my desk messy, I will become a genius too.

Surely, that syllogism contains the same logical fallacy, as does the handwriting example. Einstein may have had a messy desk, but it doesn’t follow that all geniuses do, that only geniuses have messy desks or that a non-genius can acquire genius by deliberately keeping a messy desk.

Let’s not toss that logical fallacy so fast. The ‘messy desk’ issue has been tackled experimentally by researchers at the University of Minnesota, who have concluded that one’s working environment can influence one’s behaviour. Just as a tidy environment tends to encourage consistency and adherence to deadlines, a messy environment tends to induce creativity and risk taking, which are the hallmarks of a genius, such as Einstein, are they not? Although, as a matter of straight logic, the messy desk example, if fallacious, may not be far off. Maybe parents should start screaming at their children to hurry up and mess up their rooms or there’ll be no allowance this week.


Messy desks or rooms are a sign of genius.

If the messy desk syndrome has an effect on creativity, so too might the use of Einsteinian handwriting. Maybe the software developer friend is on to something after all. Maybe kids should start bugging their parents to have the Einstein font to present their math homework to bring out and present the genius behind their math homework.

Of course, if everyone went out and bought the Einstein font, perhaps everybody would become a genius, in which case “genius” would become a humdrum appellation. A new term, such as “pure genius” would be need for those who did not have to rely on a stimulant like the font, which would therefore lose its marketability. The font developer should perhaps consider restricting sales and upping his prices or trying to persuade some pure geniuses to buy the font in order to keep it off the market. All signs point to some major headaches.

Anyway, based on my experience thinking about the Einstein font, and given what the software developer says what happens when one wears one’s best clothing, I’m now reasonably convinced by the following,

Point 1 Elvis was a great performer and made millions.

Point 2 Elvis wore a low-cut one-piece white jumpsuit.

Point 3 If I wear a low-cut one piece white jumpsuit, I will become a great performer and make millions.


Investing in a jump suit might make me rich and famous or not.

An Elvis impersonator suit sounds like the sort of sensible investment I should have made a long time ago. Please don’t try to talk me out of it. In the meantime, I’m going to count my ears and see if can make some headway on that woman-or-man problem.

 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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