A long shot in the presidential race, greedy writers, a controversial nose, and other matters. WORRYING ABOUT LEFTISTS

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Looking at a campaign photograph last week, it suddenly struck us that George Bush's left-handedness would not, after all, be an issue in the campaign this fall. What the photograph showed was Bill Clinton tossing out a baseball to open some game or other. And yes, it turned out that Bill too is a left- hander. Not yet sighted on the pitcher's mound is Ross Perot, but he's another one. Since only 8% of American men over 40 are portsiders, it is around 2,000 to 1 against all three candidates being of this persuasion, and yet here we are. The coincidence does not end there. The real stunner is that people are choosing among lefties at the moment in history when we are coming to understand the pathological nature of sinistrality. A just-published volume, The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes & Consequences of Left-Handedness, by Stanley Coren, is fairly devastating on the problems of lefties. Coren, a psychologist based at the University of British Columbia, has earlier noted data indicating that they have shorter life spans and are significantly overrepresented among victims of an extraordinary number of illnesses, beginning with allergies and sleep problems and going on to more serious matters, such as epilepsy, myasthenia gravis, alcoholism, and schizophrenia. The crusher in his new book is another study of mortality and handedness, which not only confirms the earlier message but rather persuasively puts the righty-lefty gap at an extraordinary level. Among American women, average life expectancy of left-handers is about five years less. Among men, it is ten years less: 62 years instead of 72. Professor Bernard Cohen of the University of Pittsburgh, a physicist who has analyzed the risks associated with various activities, calculates that lifelong cigarette smoking reduces male life expectancy by seven years on average. Stanley Coren's data mean, incredibly, that left-handedness is worse for you than smoking. How can this be? Coren has a double-barreled explanation of those mortality rates. He says that southpaw problems stem partly from a history of intrauterine injury and/or birth defects, partly from a high accident rate in a world designed for starboarders. Coren is persuasive in arguing that left- handers need a lot of help from industrial designers. The reviewer in the Atlantic drew a different moral from Coren's tale. ''Should handedness be weighed,'' he asked, ''in determining whether a candidate is fit for office?'' It may be too late.