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What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

Generally, it is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper that leads to the production of ‘old book smell’. Paper contains, amongst other chemicals, cellulose, and smaller amounts of lignin. Both of these originate from the trees the paper is made from; finer papers will contain less lignin than, for example, newsprint. In trees, lignin helps bind cellulose fibres together, keeping the wood stiff; it’s also responsible for paper yellowing…

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All the world’s an app

A review of three books — The App Generation, Status Update, and It’s Complicated — that explore and critique the function of social media in our lives. I used to ask the internet everything. I started young. In the late 1980s, my family got its first modem. My father was a computer scientist, and he used it to access his computer at work. It was a silver box the size…

Show, Don't (Just) Tell

Show, Don’t (Just) Tell (New Example)

I wrote down this example on a student paper a while ago, and thought I’d add it to my existing handout on showing and telling. Winning is important to me. It doesn’t matter to me what I do, so long as I win.  Unengaging and unconvincing. This is like saying “I am a hard worker” or “I am a fast learner.” Anyone can make those claims, but without proof they…

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Creative writing majors getting rich as demand skyrockets

See, it’s funny, because poets need to suffer for their art, and people who get well-paying jobs are too isolated from their own existences to be able to write meaningfully about longing and desire and grit, right? (It’s satire, folks.) Petroleum giant Exxon Mobil is one of many Fortune 500 companies that is using innovative ways to snag creative writing majors fresh out of graduation. In March, the company finished…