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Pens and Writing in the News

We like to keep up with pen news, with help from the ever-useful Google. These are a few pen-related articles that caught our interest this week.

Drunk with a pen gun – UK papers are reporting that a Manchester man has been sentenced to five years in prison for trying to sell a tiny gun that looks like a pen to someone he met on the street.

The accounts don’t make clear whether it was an actual ink pen modified into a gun, or just a gun made to look like a pen. The Manchester Evening News said it was a “James Bond-style pen gun” disguised as a fountain pen, while the Daily Mail reported that it was “adapted from an old-style cartridge pen.”

Hugh West, 41, offered to sell the gun to a man he saw sitting in a parked car in Rusholme. He showed the man how to put in the bullet and fire the gun, but the man turned him down and called the police. After his arrest, West said he found the gun in an alley where he stopped to urinate.

This was our favourite part. According to the Daily Mail, his attorney told the court:

“His intention was to try to turn it into beer as quickly as possible.”

We don’t recognize the pen, but if any of our readers do, we’d like to hear. One newspaper commenter said he thought it wasn’t a pen at all, but a modified mini-flare gun like the kind carried by RAF crewmen.

Felt-tip writing fades, elderly man fined £80 – Harold Cadwallader, 87, got himself a ticket from the parking warden in Suffolk because the sun bleached out his disabled permit, and he blames the pen that was used to fill it in.

Cadwallader told the Daily Mail he was going to his weekly bridge game and parked in a disabled parking bay (he’s had three heart attacks and a stroke and had a hip replaced). When he came back, he found the ticket on his windscreen. Apparently, the writing on his permit had faded to the point that it was illegible.

He said:

“The problem is that the details on the card were filled out in this felt-tip pen which was not really suitable for the job.”

The retired headmaster called the Suffolk Coastal District Council to complain.

“My argument is that they should be using something better than a felt-tip pen to write out the details. It should really be filled out with something that is not going to fade and is going to last for the life of the badge.”

Cadwallader said he was told he should put the permit where the sun doesn’t shine. Ouch!

Maybe they should try using pens with Uni Super Ink. It’s supposed to be fade resistant. Anyone ever tested that claim?

Uni-ball Signo 207

Autism affects kids’ ability to write – WebMD has an interesting report on a new study that could explain why children with autism have poor handwriting. The reason isn’t that they don’t know how to properly form letters by hand; they just have fine motor control problems that make it difficult.

Hans Asperger, the first to describe relatively high functioning people with autism, noted that "the pen did not obey" one of his original patients. But research failed to show exactly what was wrong.

Now Amy J. Bastian, PhD, PT, and colleagues at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute, have identified a central clue. Using a test that dissects five separate aspects of handwriting, they showed that normal-intelligence kids with autism can align, size, and space their letters as well as normal kids.

The problem is that they have great difficulty forming their letters – suggesting that the problem relates to motor control. That's new, because motor signs are not classically associated with autism.

According to the researchers, they found that some kids can be taught to improve their motor skills and, thus, their handwriting.

They also warned that parents should not jump to conclusions. Poor handwriting is not necessarily an indicator that a kid is autistic. It could mean the child will grow up to become a doctor.

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