Category Archives: Comments

Double Spacing and the Legacy of Roy Hobbs


Roy HobbsSomehow, a satirical article author Hugh Howey shared that I reposted on Gas Station Burrito Facebook and initially forgot all about became my most seen and commented on post pretty much ever. There’s about four people who regularly like things I post (and I’m one of them) so when the reach exceeds 1000 people and a few days later there are still comments popping up on it, that’s a pretty solid performance.

It seems to be a rather divisive topic too. Check out the original article and let me know what you think. Most of the comments were people asserting that they were, in fact, still alive, which I take to mean they are still double spacing after a period and take great offense to the author’s presumption all double spacers have died out with Roy Hobbs.

Personally, the double space as a habit pops up more so when I’m typing on a keyboard. Sadly, most of my writing these days is done on my phone simply as a matter of convenience.  I write in very, very short bursts when I can, since like most of you, I’m usually doing twelve other things. When I end a sentence therefore and hit the space bar twice on my phone, it will insert a period and single space before auto-capitalizing for next sentence. The old double space isn’t an problem for then, but if I’m typing on a keyboard, I’m constantly going back to delete unnecessary spaces.

And they are unnecessary.  There’s an entire Wikipedia entry devoted the history, evolution and misconceptions of the double space.  Its a riveting story; Amazon already bought the rights to it, so extra spacing should be exclusive to Prime members soon. You can debate it all you like, but despite your Facebook comments, civilized society has established the rules of the new world order of typesetting already. Quite a while ago, actually. According to the Complete Manual on Typography from 2003, “The typewriter tradition of separating sentences with two word spaces after a period has no place in typesetting” and the single space is “standard typographic practice”.

The Elements of Typographic Style from around the same time also advocates a single space between sentences. They also said, “your typing as well as your typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint [double spacing] Victorian habit”.

In the cutthroat world of typography that may be about as close to a mic drop as it gets.

So for anyone clinging to their double spaces, now you’ll have to adjust your monocle and yell, “Take that, Reginald!” every time you maniacally double space.

Despite the typographic mic drop and the fact that the Daily Mash article was a joke, (and that Roy Hobbs is not real) the debate over redundant spacing rages on and certainly isn’t limited to one grammatical/typographic quirk. Several people saw fit to drag the Oxford comma into it, although there’s no word on what Roy Hobbs had to say on that matter

For a limited time you can support a cause dear to Roy’s heart by purchasing your very own official Roy Hobbs’ commemorative  “Make America Double Spaced Again.” hat.

Roy Hobbs Endorsed Make American Double Spaced Again Hat

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Dear Dave, Why Have You Not Responded to My Letter?

Ok, so it wasn’t a letter.  Well, I mean, I suppose you could consider it one.  Sort of.  I don’t get very many comments on this site, and certainly not many from real people—I’m looking at you Malkovich.  So when I do, I usually don’t realize it for months and then forget to respond to them at all, specifically that guy who found episodes of Jin Jin and the Panda Patrol after I mentioned it.  I swear, I’m going get back to you soon.  There’s another reason I’ve been thinking about comments and responses, and hopefully I’ll be able to share that reason relatively soon.  So this was already on my mind when, in response to a terribly written and pointless rant about car window decals I posted a while back, random internet person Dave informed me that:

Dave 1

this is Dave

“The reason most people put decals on there cars is because they have built the motor, and turned them into little hot rods. A dumb ass wouldn’t know that. And it does make them look cooler. Nice webpage though, it makes you look like a idiot. But if you have anymore why’s hit me up, i’ll be glad to help you understand.”

While it took over a year and half from its original posting for Dave to stumble on it, probably while shopping for new windshield decals, I’m still a little miffed he hasn’t gotten back to me on the response I left for him.  I tried to be timely.  Also, Dave, you could not possibly have spent enough time on my site to establish that I am an idiot.  Stats, Dave, stats.  There just weren’t page views for the day you commented for you to have seen enough of Gas Station Burrito to make an educated determination.  I would like an apology for that comment.

But in an effort to better communicate with all four of my readers and the other two people, in addition to Dave, who accidentally found GSB this year, I’d like to share my response again.  I tried to balance being timely with offering a sincere and well thought out response.  It’s probably the first time I was timely in anything and it was certainly more sincere than what that dick John Malkovich got…

I still don’t understand, but I appreciate your feedback. I’ve been thinking your comments over and I’d like to say this: To me it seems that the decals cheapen the car. I know next to nothing about cars, a fact I am ashamed of every day. Check the oil, fill the radiator, all four tires appear to be attached, that’s the extent of my knowledge. But the guys who rebuild their engines (and their friend’s engine, and their sister’s engine, and their neighbor’s…) the guys who bleed for their cars, who sink every day off and spare dollar into making, replacing, rebuilding, tracking down original parts, all in the service of, in some cases, works of art on four wheels, aren’t the type I’d expect to have decals on their cars.

Maybe I overestimate their pride in their own vehicles. Or I mistakenly thought they would surround themselves predominantly with similar-minded people, the sort who could tell you what you were running blindfolded just by listening to the engine turnover; the kind of person who would expect you to know their car a mile away from the custom exhaust system you helped them install, and to smile without realizing they had when the throaty rhythmic growl of a finely tuned engine hits their ears… and who, when in the company of the type of person who couldn’t tell a Cavalier from a Corvette and answers the question, “What do you drive?” with a color, knows that the subject of cars should never be broached.

With that in mind I find decals cheap and pandering for attention. It isn’t a lack of respect for the cars or those who built (or rebuilt) them. It’s the opposite, in fact. I find them cheap when I consider that those who’s attention they will grab are the opposite audience you deserve. They’re a stage cue for the shallow to swoon. The people you described, who’ve built motors and made hot rods, are exactly the type I would expect to avoid using decals. They’re not sorority girls hanging their graduation tassels from the mirror. They’re scrapped knuckles and grease ground in to the bone, and they are satisfaction that when they turn their key the engine starts because they made it. The people who know their car will know their car. They don’t need a decal to draw their eye, and certainly won’t be impressed by it. If anything, it seems to serve as a distraction from a truly beautiful custom car.

But, perhaps, we just have different opinions on the matter… thanks again for your feedback..

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with this response, wasn’t sure I was making my case clearly enough.  I kept hearing my old boss telling me to stop over-thinking it and hit the button.  Did I make my case?  My opinion is that there are two types of car people: the kind that can rebuild a transmission, and the kind that can slap a light kit underneath their Civic that they bought at Wal-Mart.  Which type sounds more likely to put a decal on their windshield?

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