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How The Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

In Death of a Salesman, Biff impulsively steals Bill Oliver’s fountain pen. That would be roughly culturally equivalent to a modern Biff swiping a businessman’s custom iPhone case, rather than a modern pen. This history of the ballpoint argues that the new pens cut down on leaks, but in the process made handwriting more physically demanding. The ballpoint’s universal success has changed how most people experience ink. Its thicker ink…

Is the Question Part of the News? (Rarely!)

When Is Asking the Question Part of the News? (Rarely.) 

We mostly only encounter the phrase “when asked about” in reporting, so when students start writing news reports, they tend to gravitate towards that phrase in order to signal to the world, “I am doing journalism now.” In truth, journalists use that phrase only in very specific circumstances, when omitting it would give a distorted impression of the truth. Usually, my students can revise so that the quote does more of the work, making…

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Employers Will Hire You For: 1) Leadership; 2) Teamwork; 3) Writing; 4) Problem-solving 5) Work Ethic (NACE 2014)

What do employers say they are looking for in new hires? Do they want drones who are good at following instructions and memorizing the “right answers,” who like working by themselves so their perfect grades aren’t threatened by the unpredictability of group work? No. Here’s what employers do look for: Leadership experience Ability to work in a team Communication skills (written) Problem-solving skills Strong work ethic A GPA above 3.0,…