DiscoverParking ThoughtAnd Where Did Italics Come From❓| 84
And Where Did Italics Come From❓| 84

And Where Did Italics Come From❓| 84

Update: 2020-03-12


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In this edition we come to you from Meridian Idaho and talk about drivers training. We also talk about where italics came from. While most people know it came from Italy they often miss the backstory of how a math text book changed that country resulting in the font style we have today.


music by Dyalla Swain

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Automated transcript

hello and welcome to parking cop the
show where we highlight the good in the
world from the extraordinary to the
everyday you’re gonna want to like and
subscribe wherever you happen to find us
go ahead you know where those buttons
are go ahead and hit them on this show
we’re gonna talk about how curiosity
meets gratitude and my name is Jacob and
I’m glad you’re here today it sounds a
little bit like I’m doing this off
script and it is because I am I’m
sitting in a parking lot outside of
Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian
Idaho Meridian is an interesting town it
used to be significantly smaller and it
derives its name because it’s Old Main
Street actually points directly north
and when folks and surveyors had found
that out they decided that they when
they needed a name for the town that was
going to be there and they called it
meridian so I’m here waiting in this
parking lot of this high school because
my son is working on his driver’s
training in the state of Idaho you can
get your driver’s license at the age of
and so at the age of and some
change he is working on getting his
permit that will help prepare him for
getting his license and we’re super
excited about this he’s very active in
sports and and you know we would
appreciate it if he were able to drive
himself to and from practices and things
like that and that would be really good
now I will tell you right now that I
know something that his driving
instructor is out there with him does
not know and that is that Daniel is
currently driving with a broken bone in
his hand he started playing rugby and
broke somebody stepped on him or I can’t
remember how the injury happened but
during the last game you know it broke
the bone in his hand and it’s a little
bit uncomfortable he doesn’t feel like
wearing the cast and so the instructor
has no idea that this guy is actually
out there on the road with less less
finger dexterity than he would normally
have but so far she’s been very
praiseworthy of his performance and
that’s really cool one of the things
that happened to me when I was learning
to drive was my dad’s first driving
lesson with me was to take me into the
high school parking lot
and help me go in front of the car and
push against it and then he stepped on
the gas and my father wanted to teach me
that a car is a big thing and it can
damage a person and that there was no
amount of person that was not going to
be damaged by the car so as strong as I
thought I was and as big as I thought I
was all pounds of me my father
decided to teach me that I wasn’t gonna
be bigger or stronger than the car no I
didn’t run me over a per se right but he
did teach me that lesson and our first
driving experience now one of the things
I did with my kids and Daniel I’ve been
doing this for a while I would let them
drive in our neighborhood very quiet
very few people and we would teach them
you know and give them the opportunity
to practice turning and a few other
things and putting them in a safe
environment where they can rehearse and
experience what that’s like the neat
thing is is for those sorts of things
you don’t have to do it all once you can
give them the experience and then have a
pause between the next time they’ll do
it because driving requires so much
mental power especially when you’re
first introduced to it that it’s an
experience you relive over and over
again in your mind and that process of
reliving it and rehearsing it over and
over again your mind allows you to learn
and evaluate and make better choices so
once a month or so you know from about
the age of you know maybe every three
months honestly about the age of you
know I think it was or and a half
once he was tall enough that it was
comfortable for him to see you toss him
the keys and say hey let’s go around the
block and totally illegal but we now
have a much safer driver that’s gonna be
on the road pretty soon so I’m waiting
here not to pick him up but because
there’s something around this and with
this driving school where it’s a parent
ride-along and so I get to do that here
in just a few minutes and while I’m
waiting I figured I’d talk to you guys
and give you the update on the family
and then I also want to tell you my
version of the story of italics where do
italics come from no I know you guys are
smart you’re gonna go and your computer
you need to say italics are right here I
can go ahead and bold the font and I can
use italics and and it’s true that
that’s where that is but that’s not the
way I tell a story
of how we ended up with italics so the
way I tell a story of how we ended up
with italics is a bit of a history
lesson and I’m not a perfectly accurate
history lesson but it’s accurate to the
spirits of the history so the Italian
peninsula right the one that’s shaped
like a boot down there South of
Switzerland and all that in Europe was
one of the first areas where a book
changed the world and that book was
written by a man known as Leonardo deep
leonardo de pisa and leonardo de Pisa
was an interesting gentleman he had a
young age you know probably about the
same age as my son rode on a ship with
his father and went down towards
northern Africa and while in northern
Africa for several years right this is
in the twelve hundreds well in northern
Africa for several years down there
doing various merchant type activities
he learned and picked up mathematics but
he didn’t learn and pick up mathematics
from the traditional sense he didn’t
learn and pick up mathematics in the way
that was being taught on the continent
he learned and picked up mathematics
from the way it was being taught by
those well let’s let’s use the word
Arabic right let’s use the Arabic
because it’s Arabic descent right the
the language of mathematics that he
learned was from the Arabic tradition
and in the Arabic tradition right they
didn’t use X and V and and R I and I
to make you know numbers right that
would be you know right XVII they
used the symbols that are more familiar
to us today something very similar to
the what the Phoenicians might have laid
down right but these were modified a
little bit by those of the Hindu
tradition so the hindu-arabic numbering
system the one we know now the one that
has zero one two three four five six
seven eight nine ten right
that numbering system that beautiful
numbering system that actually has a
placeholder for is a marvelous
wonderful invention it is a way of
describing something to hold nothing
right and mathematics used to be
philosophy in the Greek tradition right
mathematics and philosophy were often
if you go back and read the works of
Archimedes and some of the other early
mathematicians they were logic problems
they were thought problems they got you
thinking and they used a mathematical
notation to help express some of that
but the notation hundreds of years later
thousands of years later from the Arabic
tradition more difference.the thought
problems were still there the philosophy
and a lot of ways was still there but
the tradition the numbering scheme was
different so when that book entered into
the book that leonardo de Pisa wrote
when that book entered into the you know
Italian peninsula all of a sudden the
merchants had a much more effective and
efficient way to calculate their books
to understand what they should be
charging for their items and you had an
explosion of wealth yes you’ll hear in
the history books that it was due to
increased trade and the improvements of
ships but all of those things the
increased trade in the improvers ships
right were really consequences of the
fact that people were able to identify
opportunities for wealth and manage
their wealth better than they ever had
before Leonardo da pieces book changed
the world now this episode of the
podcast is not about Leonardo two pieces
book you might remember him and knowing
him by the distinct name of Fibonacci
and the Fibonacci sequence is based on a
problem that was what would normally be
today in our textbooks written in the
margin about some rabbits and how many
rabbits you would have at the end of the
and while leonardo de pisa did not
invent that problem the Fibonacci
sequence right that was illustrated by
that problem like his nickname became
more popular than the book itself now
that book that explosion of wealth right
was huge and significant in the Italian
peninsula and so what happened next that
was pretty interesting people started
storing wealth they had more wealth than
they knew what to do with and they could
spend it on different things in wealth
in the medieval times was defined
differently than it is now wealth was
defined by knowledge and knowledge was
defined by books
I once visited a mean evil castle in
Germany and you know during the tour one
of the gentleman asks the tour guide
they said how is this castle valued
right what is what is the value of the
castle and the tour guide said there is
no value for the castle because you know
in a feudal society the King owned all
of the labor he owned all of the
resources and therefore there this
castle that is so beautiful that you’re
talking today has zero value there was
no way of valuing it and the gentleman
persisted and said no surely there must
be some way of valuing you know what was
here and then the lady explained that
you know looking at the tower that had
been blown up right and during part of a
siege she explained that one of the ways
that would happen to value what a castle
had was the library the library not the
gold was the first thing that got
distributed so that way you know the
wealth was separated appropriately for
those who had it and and what I mean by
that is she explained how when the
castle was taken over all of the books
that were written in the Germanic
language were considered inferior to
those written in Latin so much of the
Germanic language books didn’t survive
the ones that did went back to you know
some of the lesser Lords or you know
captain’s who helped you know invade the
castle but that the books in Latin many
of them were kept by the primary king
who was invading and the others were
sent to the Pope in the hopes that if
the Pope accepted them into the Vatican
library that it would be considered a
way of blessing off and approving of the
conquests of that castle now what a neat
idea knowledge books this was the
definition of wealth and when you apply
that definition of all to what we have
today on other devices to how many
things that we have available to us all
of us are significantly wealthier than
at any other point in time in history
what an amazing thing they would fight
for the knowledge in those books and
here we have the ability to dial them in
at any whim we have off of our devices
and you guys are dialed in to listening
to this but I told you we’re going to
learn about where italics comes from
this explosion of wealth
a demand for more books in Italy and
then they could keep up with the
printing press had been invented by this
point Gutenberg’s printing press the
technology had made it down to Italy and
people were wanting passionately to be
able to leverage that new technology to
create more and more and more and more
books right libraries were being created
libraries in people’s houses and their
domiciles books were going everywhere
and then the technology didn’t match the
supply the supply and demand equation
was off balance there was not enough
paper right paper was expensive and
paper scarcities was a very real thing
paper was expensive they needed to use
every square inch of the paper and make
it out as efficient as possible and so
what they did with their Gutenberg
technology printing press right instead
of having the letters going straight
vertical right which would yield you
maybe lines on a page they realized
that if they slanted the letters it
would still be legible and you can fit
potentially sixteen or seventeen lines
on a page and that need because of that
paper shortage allowed those who were
printing books to be able to develop the
Italian style of print and today we know
it as a telex net paper shortage right
created a need and the market response
is amazing
they slanted the letters and today we
still have that history in tradition so
the next time you’re looking to want to
sound smart at a party right you’re
to take this story and explain to people
that you know where italics came from
and I think that’s a fun story we’re
sharing now this is the part of the
podcast where we wrap things up and I
tell you that the best way to say thank
you for this podcast is to share it with
someone that you know now if you’re just
here because maybe I had a Google Bowl
title great glad to have you if you want
to stick around for the long haul over
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mind now at the end of every episode I
like to offer my audience a challenge I
like to ask you to do something today
not just the SUBSCRIBE stuff every
podcaster does that but rather that if
you’re going to live in a world where
you can literally choose to be anything
why not choose to be grateful









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And Where Did Italics Come From❓| 84

And Where Did Italics Come From❓| 84