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Bizarre signature of Colleen Hanabusa, President of the Senate of the State of Hawaii

(c) Copyright 2009 - 2010 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Above are two photos, each showing a pair of signatures. One signature in each pair is by Hawaii Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. And what a bizarre signature it is! The other signature in each pair (Calvin K.Y. Say) can be seen by scrolling to the right.

To prepare for the upcoming 2009 session of the legislature of the State of Hawaii, a calendar of important deadlines was produced on December 16, 2008. At a "Kane'ohe Town Meeting" on January 14, 2009, copies of that calendar were available for the public to take. The calendar was printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper. Each side had been signed on December 16 by two people: Colleen Hanabusa, Senate President; and Calvin K.Y. Say, Speaker of the House.

Thus we have two separate signatures of Colleen Hanabusa both written on the same day.

As might be expected, there are small differences between the two signatures. Such differences are normal for everyone; for example, careful comparison of the two Calvin Say signatures (scroll right to see them) will show that in one case the loop at the left of the initial "K" touches the 'n" in "Calvin" while there is no touching in the other signature.

Both Colleen Hanabusa signatures are sufficiently alike that we can be sure they were both written by herself.

But her signature is bizarre! If we know the spelling of Calvin Say's name, we can see that his signature is, indeed, his name. Poor penmanship, alas, afflicts many people, especially in their signatures (Hawaii schoolteachers take note!). But what is this weird signature made by Colleen Hanabusa?

Is it some sort of Japanese language character? People who read Japanese tell me it is not.

Is it her name, or her initials? Clearly not.

What is it?

It's the scrawl of someone who wants to be a celebrity. Someone who wants attention. Someone who wants to give the impression of being so busy and so important that she has time only for a scrawl. Someone like Madonna, or Cher; or perhaps John Hancock, whose signature on the U.S. Constitution was written extremely large because, as he said, he wanted to be sure King George could see it even without his spectacles.

The only other plausible explanation why Colleen Hanabusa uses such a bizarre signature is that she is illiterate, and "makes her mark" in the way illiterate people have always affixed their "X" to legal documents in lieu of the signature they don't know how to write (animals have other ways to "make their mark" to claim their territory). But Colleen Hanabusa is an attorney, so she must have gone to college and passed the bar exam, so it seems safe to assume she's literate.

Let's admire the signature some more. Maybe someday she'll tell us why she writes her signature like this. Here are the two photos again. Enjoy!


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(c) Copyright 2009 - 2010 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved