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The “Best” E-mail Signature Is Actually the Worst

I have no particular opinion about how to close an email. I just checked my “outbox” and I see that I haven’t closed any of my recent messages. Several were responses to requests from other people, so “Thank you” would be out of place, and even “Here you go” would be so unnecessary it would sound awkward (if not rude). When closing an email, I usually just stop writing. A…

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100 Careers for English Majors

Anyone with an English degree will tell you that picking this major can lead to a lot skeptical questions: “What are you going to do after school?” or “What kind of a job can you really get with an English degree?” But the awesome part about this major is its flexibility—you’re not confined to a specific vocational track. Instead, the skills you learn can be applied to a ton of…

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Reading-Is-Fundamentalists Slaughter 52 Illiterates

Committed to the eradication of illiteracy “by any means necessary,” RIF was formed in 1973 by a coalition of dissident librarians censured by the government for their extremist views. Some 500 deaths have been linked to the group in the past 24 years, including a 1991 incident in which an armored bookmobile exploded at a Ku Klux Klan rally outside Mobile, AL, killing 83 illiterates. — Satire from The Onion

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This Is Your Brain on Writing

When I teach creative writing, I notice that novices frequently write as if describing a what a TV screen would show if a camera had zoomed in for a close-up of their narrator’s face. By contrast, an experienced writer would rely on a much wider range of storytelling techniqes, including dialogue and interior thoughts. “What do you mean?” I say, my brows furrowing in confusion. “Hold on,” says the old man.…

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Canadians Love Poop, Americans Love Pizza: How Emojis Fare Worldwide

The company SwiftKey analyzed more than a billion pieces of emoji data, organized by language and country. According to SwiftKey’s chief marketing officer, Joe Braidwood, the results were fascinating. Here’s a sample of what researchers found: People are mostly likely to send happy faces: “The overall thing we noticed is that 70 percent of all emojis sent are positive and so that’s probably a good thing that we’re talking to…

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The Benefits of No-Tech Note Taking

I quibble with The Chronicle headline writer’s notion that paper & pencil are “no-tech,” but hand-written notes are valuable. Students tested right after a lecture tended to answer factual questions equally well regardless of how they took notes, but students who handwrote their notes did consistently better on conceptual questions. What’s more, when students were tested again a week later, the longhand note takers performed consistently better on both factual…