January 12, 2018

"Pencils eschew digital jujitsu. They are pure analog, absolute presence. They help to rescue us from oblivion."

"Think of how many of our finest motions disappear, untracked — how many eye blinks and toe twitches and secret glances vanish into nothing. And yet when you hold a pencil, your quietest little hand-dances are mapped exactly, from the loops and slashes to the final dot at the very end of a sentence."

From "Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories/A photographer captures a colorful world of craft and complexity."

That was a nice change of pace. I looked at the comments to see if readers would somehow drag Trump into the erstwhile refreshingness. But no! Top-rated comment: "Wonderful! Let's have more like this." Trump is implied though, right?

55 comments:

mockturtle said...

I use a pencil, which is sharpened every day, for crosswords, lists and calendar notations. The friction of the graphite on the paper is satisfying in some obscure way.

CJinPA said...

"Trump is Implied" seems like a useful term. Maybe reporters can just throw this line out there in order to feed their viewers'/readers' insatiable hunger to make it about Trump, even when there is no connection.

"The quake killed 24 and left 115 homeless. Bolivian rescue crews are working through the night. Trump is implied."

David Aitken said...

I Pencil

Tim at large said...

Sondheim said in an interview that he always wrote with a nice soft pencil, and kept plenty on hand, because sharpening them was always fun and provided relief from the pain of writing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I looked at the comments to see if readers would somehow drag Trump into the erstwhile refreshingness.

Instead of looking at the comments, maybe you should have looked in a mirror.

Tim at large said...

LOL, They should just leave the Trump bashing as an exercise for the reader “Trump is implied”!

Tim at large said...

Face it, he’s a real-estate genius, living rent-free in everybody’s head.

Ann Althouse said...

"I use a pencil, which is sharpened every day, for crosswords, lists and calendar notations. The friction of the graphite on the paper is satisfying in some obscure way."

That's funny. I never use pencils and my reason is I don't like the friction! I choose pens (and paper) that give the least friction possible.

When I used to draw with pencils, I would find the softest, greasiest graphite (even though this would be too easily smeared accidentally (I liked smearing it on purpose, so smeariness was also a plus)).

The friction is both felt and heard. Maybe you like that scritchy-scratch. Me, I hate the subtle rough on rough sound. For example, a dry paper towel used to wipe something dry on the kitchen counter affects me like fingernails on a blackboard. I have to tell Meade, don't use dry paper towels when I'm around. I can't even stand it when people wipe dry hands on dry paper towels.

CJinPA said...

Milton Friedman on The Pencil & the Free Market

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Gppi-O3a8

Original Mike said...

I love pencils (traditional wood ones; not those mechanical abominations). Every few years I buy a big box. About time to do that again.

I've wondered about the manufacturing process. Enjoyed the article. Thanks!

Fernandistein said...

And yet when you hold a pencil, your quietest little hand-dances are mapped exactly, from the loops and slashes to the final dot at the very end of a sentence."

Did quiet little hand-dances create those lame little sentences? I bet not.

David Begley said...

And happy birthday to Ann Althouse. Still young enough to be confirmed to SCOTUS.

Original Mike said...

"That's funny. I never use pencils and my reason is I don't like the friction!"

Nah, the friction is great. It lets you know something is happening!

tcrosse said...

I do crosswords in pen. It forces one to commit.

rehajm said...

Lesson of the Pencil by Milton Friedman

rhhardin said...

How do they get the lead in pencils was one of the questions answered on some 50s TV quiz show.

rehajm said...

This place is for pencil aficionados: CW Pencil Enterprise Fun page views if you're into 'em...

(Not a paid endorsement)

rhhardin said...

One advantage of typing is that you can tell O from 0 and I from 1. It's which key you press.

rhhardin said...

The IBM convention is that you decorate the alphabet, so the keypunch lady knows which character it is supposed to be.

The ham convention is to decorate the numbers.

Remote terminals solved the problem. Just hit the key you want.

Bill said...

I have four fountain pens, and occasionally write letters with them. But gel pens are my absolute favorite. I love pencils, but graphite eventually fades.

tcrosse said...

You tell 0 from O by drawing a slanted line through it. You tell 1 from l by underlining it. You tell Z from 2 by drawing a line through it. That's how we did it in the Navy.

David said...

Thank God for pencils. Without them I would have been a gum chewer.

Dude1394 said...

Thank you for the link, that was beautiful.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Henry David Thoreau's father was a pencil maker.

rhhardin said...

Do you draw a line through zero or oh? Hams (probably Navy too) draw the line through zero. IBM (for coding sheets for keypunch ladies) draws the line through oh.

rhhardin said...

I've worked Chuck KM0O in MN 15 times, according to my online log.

rhhardin said...

Tony not Chuck

Tim at large said...

Not going to read it and waste one of my peeks at the NYT, but did he ever justify the word “jujitsu” or was it just that he was stuck in a pattern and couldn’t stop?

tcrosse said...

You could get a call-sign license plate in Minnesota, which would feature the zero with a line through it. Many found this confusing.

Curious George said...

"tcrosse said...
You tell 0 from O by drawing a slanted line through it. You tell 1 from l by underlining it. You tell Z from 2 by drawing a line through it. That's how we did it in the Navy."

I always draw a line through a 7 to distinguish it from a 1.

gspencer said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Pencil

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
That's funny. I never use pencils and my reason is I don't like the friction! I choose pens (and paper) that give the least friction possible."

I don't share your adversion to pencils, but I do love pens that flow ink and glide on the paper. My latest fave is the Biv Atlantis. They come with a tiny red rubber ball on the tip that has to be removed before use. the 1.6 tip is a delight.

Oh, happy birthday Althouse.

mockturtle said...

"tcrosse said...
You tell 0 from O by drawing a slanted line through it. You tell 1 from l by underlining it. You tell Z from 2 by drawing a line through it. That's how we did it in the Navy."

I always draw a line through a 7 to distinguish it from a 1.


All of the above.

paul white said...

Ticonderoga #2 is responsible for all my success in life.

mockturtle said...

Althouse, I didn't know until Begley let the cat out of the bag. Happy Birthday! Wishing you the very best!

mockturtle said...

Paul White proclaims: Ticonderoga #2 is responsible for all my success in life.

The only pencil worth buying.

mockturtle said...

Perhaps my respect for the pencil stems from the wonder of my father's drafting table. The pencil was an instrument of creative design.

My husband liked his pencils short and dull. My mother used to save her worn-out stubby ones for him.

Another pencil-intensive activity is the golf score card. No pens there!

tcrosse said...

The European 1 has an extended eave which makes it look like a 7, so the European 7 has a line through it.
Bic Atlantis FTW

Original Mike said...

The ability to erase allows you to organize your thoughts. Write it down, then rearrange into an outline.

Ann Althouse said...

"I do crosswords in pen. It forces one to commit."

When I used to do the NYT puzzle in the paper version, I had to use pen, whether I needed to go back and write over things or not. Pencil on newsprint is atrocious. If the puzzles were printed on high-quality paper, I might have been able to use a soft, very sharp pencil.

Pen is particularly tough when doing the acrostic and impossible for doing the diagramless, which was kind of my favorite. But those 2 were always in the Sunday magazine, which has higher quality paper.

anti-de Sitter space said...

"That was a nice change of pace. I looked at the comments to see if readers would somehow drag Trump into the erstwhile refreshingness. But no! Top-rated comment: "Wonderful! Let's have more like this." Trump is implied though, right?"


Ha ha.

Althouse cracks me up.

This quote is meta-gold.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, I didn't know until Begley let the cat out of the bag. Happy Birthday! Wishing you the very best!"

When you hear them celebrating Rush Limbaugh on his show (which they will do soon), then you know it is also my birthday.

It's Howard Stern's birthday too.

tcrosse said...

The diagramless is best done on a separate piece of graph paper.

Levi Starks said...

Great article, but poor header. Implies that all Pencil making factories will close, and that no new factories will ever be opened.
We don’t know that. But it fits the all or nothing narrative of those who hate Trump.

rhhardin said...

There's the pencil test for bra-wearing. You can't do that with a laptop.

rehajm said...

Ticonderoga #2 is responsible for all my success in life

One could interpret this to mean I peaked in grade school

Tim at large said...

Speaking of golf, there are those who say Trump’s best club is the pencil. Saves him the most strokes, but supposedly the same was true of Obama, who was a short knocking hacker, like myself.

Tim at large said...

I always draw a line through a 7 to distinguish it from a 1.

I used to do this, but I ended up getting yelled at by the boss, who said the lady inputting the numbers didn’t like it. It took a couple times to break me of it. I guess the first time I couldn’t believe that they were serious.

Ann Althouse said...

"The diagramless is best done on a separate piece of graph paper."

I agree. I think that's what I did, actually. Then you can get high quality paper.

mikeski said...

tcrosse said...
I do crosswords in pen.


They say Confucius does that.

tcrosse said...

They say Confucius does that.

Well, that's what Confucius say.

Kirk Schaumann said...

The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance by Henry Petroski.

Deb said...

Best pencil I ever used was the Faber Castel Velvet no. 2 but they no longer make them. I still have a box.

Zach said...

If you liked that, you'll love Mr. Rogers visiting a crayon factory:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xhbctEcAAA

Zach said...

I like the shot of the mixer operator. Street fashion people dream of looking that cool.