I Have Issues!!

I am reminded of something I heard recently. It was about the need of our culture to be more civil in its discourse. It goes beyond the usual sniping in our political life, and the feeding frenzy of reporting "news". It's just that we are not very nice to each other.

I heard that the number one free app from the Apple Store was yet another social media application. We need more? What on earth did this program do that was so appealing?

As it turns out it mimicked the current apps, but added an anonymous comment feature, supposedly to get useful feedback. Somebody realized that people were creating bogus profiles in order to "get the truth out", and thought they would add this feature, because people wanted it.

Now, it didn't take me long to figure out what road this was going down. Haters love to hate, and if it can be anonymous, with no consequences? Well, people will go there.

With a little self analysis, I know that I'm not going to participate in this. It's not that I am a fully realized moral person. I have issues! I've done very good with the big issues: I don't lie, I'm not very envious, I haven't murdered anyone, I don't steal, I'm not venal. I'm mostly a pretty good person. But I have issues, little ones, but they are still there. 

Reasonable people are not blind to their own faults. They know that they have them, sometimes they rationalize that the faults are small, or that they are righteous in feeling that way… We sometimes are just stuck in our human frailty. We know we shouldn't feel this way, but we do. We see that other people do not seem to have this problem, but that doesn't matter, because we still feel what we feel. How do we address the unrighteous feelings, when we cling to the reality of feeling them?

Can we take solace that the faults are small? Well, sure, it's better to be a little unforgiving than to be a mass murderer. At least I hope so! I guess it depends upon who is doing the judging.

I find that I cling to the absolute kingdom of my car. I enter the vehicle, and I rule, (and I obey the rules mostly). And when the older gentleman in the neighborhood waves at me, I do not wave back. He waves at me because he thinks I'm going too fast. I am going slightly above 25, but not 30. I ignore him, but not completely, for at least a few blocks I have thoughts that are not kind, or neighborly. Ha! I say.

I am a different person in my car.

It's a small issue, but is it contained? The automobile creates this space where you can't effectively apologize for your mistakes. You are isolated and you can only be alerted that something is not right. Often the response is simply to speed away, and get some distance from the incident. There is nothing worse than cutting someone off, then having them pull up next to you at the next stoplight. Suddenly my neck is longer working, I can only stare straight ahead.

I've wondered why someone hasn't invented an electronic apology sign, or why hasn't the makers of automobiles installed a bright blue light that you could hit when you have offended someone, and you are sad about it. Nope, it's never going to happen because we choose to mutter, and perhaps go into road rage, rather than to work things out.

But it is a small issue, contained mostly within my vehicle. However, I have noticed that when I'm in line at the grocery store, that I have some of those same feelings. I count how many items that the person in front of me has. Are they in the wrong line? They don't seem to have their money ready, they can't remember their PIN number. THEY ARE PAYING WITH CHANGE!!

Perhaps I have carried my "incivility" from my car.

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Typography-Z

The Twenty sixth Letter — Z


The all inclusive expression “from A to Z” would not have meant much to the Phoenicians or the Ancient Greeks. In their alphabets the Z was the sixth or seventh letter, respectively. Even the Romans didn’t have a Z at the end of their alphabet until around the first century BC. The 26th letter of our alphabet was the seventh letter in the Semetic alphabet. They called the letter Za (pronounced zag”) and drew it as a stylized dagger. The Phoenicians used a similiar graphic sign, which they called zayin which also meant dagger or weapon in their language. Roughly the same symbol is also represented in other cultures, with the same meaning. Around 1000 BC the Phoenician zayin became the Greek zeta. The Greek character, while looking more like a dagger than the Phoenician zayin, did not look like the Z we currently know. Actually it looked more like our capital I.

The Romans incorporated the zeta into their alphabet, by since the sound was not required in their Latin language, they eventually dropped it, giving the position in the alphabet to the letter G. In fact, the only reason the Z is in our present day alphabet is because the Romans had to bring it back because of the use in so many Greek words. Because it was not part of the traditional Latin language, the letter was relegated to the last spot in the alphabet hierarchy. 

The Romans used a modified version of the Greek zeta in their Monumental Inscriptions, although there is not one to be found in the famous Trajan Column. It was only when the letter was written by scribes and calligraphers that the top and bottom strokes began to be offset from each other and connected by what became a diagonal, rather than a vertical stroke. This design change was probably made because it was quicker and easier to write that way. The lowercase z is just a smaller of the capital Z for the same reason.

Structure

Although many people might not notice it, the Z takes on two forms. If drawn with a chisel shaped pen or broad flat brush, held in a natural position, the horizontals would be thick and the diagonal would be thinner. But many designers and lettering artists find this horizontal emphasis unsatisfactory, and the resulting weak middle stroke attractive, and as a result draw the letter in such a way that may be technically incorrect, but to their eyes, optically more comfortable. Most serif typefaces are drawn in this modified design. 

The Z is not a square letter, but is about 3/4 as wide as it is tall. The horizontal strokes are usually the same length, but in many designs the top horizontal is drawn just slightly shorter than the bottom to give the character a firm foundation on which to rest. In Roman versions of the letter, the Z is pretty much left to its own devices, so it tends to be one of the more conservative letters. In Italic designs, however, the type designer quite often takes a little creative freedom and draws the lower horizontal with a slight flair, or even a full fledged swash.

With credit to Allen Haley,
 Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.

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Typography-Y 

The Twenty fifth Letter — Y
What happened to the Y? After the Roman conquest of Greece in the first century BC, the Romans added the Greek Y to the Latin alphabet for use in the Greek words which they began to use. The sound value given to it by the Greeks was unknown in the Latin language, and when used in the adopted Greek words, it took on the sound as the letter i. The early English scribes frequently used y in place of i, particularly when the minuscule (which did not have a dot at that time) fell in close proximity to the m, n, or u, potentially causing confusion to the reader.
Structure
The Y is clearly related to the V and W, but it is better to consider it as a cousin rather than a sibling. The point is, while the Y has a V as an important part of the design, this part should not be as wide as a normal V. The Y is one of those characters that looks deceptively easy to construct- but it is not. There is a delicate balance that must be maintained among its three parts. Too much emphasis in one place or another will make the character look awkward and will detract from it’s legibility. The most common mistake is to make the vertical stem too short.

This in turn makes the top part too big and the bottom optically incapable of supporting it. Generally a Y is a Y is a Y, with very little deviation from the standard model. There are, however, a couple more stark exceptions. Palatino, for example has an elegant swash to its left diagonal, and Kabul takes on the characteristics of a lowercase letter.
With credit to Allen Haley,

Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.

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Typography-X

The Twenty fourth Letter — X


Some could contend that the letter X really unnecessary. Fewer words in the English language start with X than with any other letter, and its sound is duplicated by the Z or KS combination. The Phoenicians did not use the sound of X, and many scholars contend that the Greeks did not employ the letter to represent phonetic sound. Even the Romans were not exactly sure where to use the letter, so they relegated it to the very end of their alphabet.

The Phoenician ancestor to our X was a letter called samekh meaning fish. Although some historians maintain that this character more likely represented a post or support, with a stretch of the imagination the drawn character could also be seen as the cortical skeleton of a fish.

An X letter did not exist. The Phoenician alphabet adopted by the Greeks. When they took over his system they had no use for all of the Phoenician sibilant letters so they only took those letters which represented sounds that they required. Three Phoenician sound values that were difficult for the Greeks were shin (sh sound), trade (tsk sound), and the samekh (which represented a sharp sound). None of the Phoenician letters represented the soft s sound that was common to the Greek language, so they chose letters which came close and modified their value slightly. The Western Greeks chose the Phoenician trade and renamed it San, and attached the sound value offs to it, while the Eastern Greeks took the Phoenician shin, called it sigma, and gave it the sound of sh. The letter samekh became the Greek xi, but had different sound values in the eastern and western Greek alphabets.

The Romans adopted the X sound from the Chalcidian, or western Greek alphabet, but gave it he design of the chi (two diagonally crossed strokes), a letter added into the eastern Greek alphabet about 500 BC. The Monumental Roman letter became the prototype for both the capital and lowercase X we use today.

Structure

The X is not drawn as a true symmetrical letter. If it was it would appear to be upside down. As with most letters it is constructed in such a way as to appear to look “correct”, when mathematically it may not be.

Actually the diagonal strokes cross just above the true center, making the upper part smaller than the lower. This gives the character a firm foundation upon which to rest, and helps move the eye horizontally across the page. In serif font designs the 7:00 to 1:00 stroke is lighter than the other diagonal, and is usually more oblique than the other heavier one. This makes things look right visually.

Since the X is not a wide letter, it should be drawn only about 1/2 to 3/4 of its height. If it is drawn widely it ungainly and subsequently hampers he smooth flow of reading. While Xs are constructed of only two diagonal strokes there is still a wide variety of designs. Some characters look like crosse Ls and others can look like flipped Cs.

With credit to Allen Haley,
 Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.

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Typography-W

The Twenty third Letter — W

The graphic form of W was created by the Anglo-Saxons in or around the 13th century. They called their letter “wen”. They used the V for both the V and the U sounds, but a double V for the sound of W. eventually the double Vs were joined to create a single letter. This early ligature was adopted to the alphabet as a regular letter, rather than an accessory.

The French preferred to use one of their own letters, and doubled the U instead of the V. They called it bay. The English called it “double U”. In type it is created by double Vs, in handwriting it is drawn as double Us.

Structure

There are many ways to construct a W. it can look like two side by side Vs which share a middle serif. It can also be drawn as two overlapping wider Vs, resulting in four separate serifs on the top, sometimes joined by a hairline. In some cases the two inner serifs are eliminated, an a pointed apex takes their place. There are other versions where the second V cuts on the right diagonal of the first. No matter how it is drawn, the W is a wide width character, often the widest in the font.

With credit to Allen Haley,
Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.

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Typography-V

The Twenty second Letter — V

In the Medieval period two forms of the letter U represented the v sound: one with a rounded bottom, and one that look like our modern V. It wasn’t until relatively modern times that the angular V was retained to represent our V sound, and he rounded version officially relegated to the sole function of g the vowel U.

Structure

The letter V is considered to be a medium width character. About three-fourths width as it is high. In serif forms its apex is nearly always pointed. When this is the case of he point is always extends beyond the baseline as far as the round characters in order to insure the optical height of the letter, and the constant baseline in text copy. In certain typefaces the designer has drawn the serifs longer on the inside of the strokes to compensate for the imbalance of the undercut that the V naturally has, when set next to rounded letters in particular. 

With credit to Allen Haley,
Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.

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Typography-U

The Twenty first Letter — U

The story of the letter U is also the story of the letters V, W, Y, and is also related to the letter F.

In ancient times, a snake like mythical creature called Cerastes was depicted by the Egyptians as a hieroglyph to represent a consonant sound roughly equivalent to our F. This was the forerunner of the Phoenician aww, the most prolific of all their letters. The way gave birth to our f, u, v, w and y. It looked like our present dat y, and represented the semi-consonant sound of w, as in the words know or wing.

Sometime between 900-800 BBC the Greeks adopted the Phoenician was, and used it as he basis for not one, but two letters in their alphabet. Th upsilon for the vowel U sound, and the digamma, for the sound that equates to our letter f.

The upsilon form was used by the Etruscans and later by the Romans. The Romans used the letter for both the semi-consonant W and the vowel U, but again, the form looked more like a Y, than either then V or U. In Roman times the sounds W, V, or U as we currently use them, were not systematically distinguished: context usually determined the correct pronunciations.

As a result their sharp angled Monumental V was used as a w in words like VENI, pronounced “wainey”, and as the vowel U in words like “IVLiVS”, pronounced “Julius”.

Structure

The U is categorized as a medium width letter, but since it does not occur on the Trajan Inscription there is no Monumental model for it. The U can take on three forms. For example, it may be an enlarged version of the lowercase u, where the left stroke curves to meet a vertical right stroke. Or it may be symmetrical strokes united by a curved baseline. Or finally, there is a thick/thin version where the left stroke is thick, and the right stroke is a hairline, the thick/thin version, with no baseline serif is by far the most popular design.
With credit to Allen Haley,


Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.

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