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How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

The ink used in a fountain pen, the ballpoint’s predecessor, is thinner to facilitate better flow through the nib—but put that thinner ink inside a ballpoint pen, and you’ll end up with a leaky mess. Ink is where László Bíró, working with his chemist brother György, made the crucial changes: They experimented with thicker, quick-drying inks, starting with the ink used in newsprint presses. Eventually, they refined both the ink…

Spring office cleaning thoughts: 1) I used to print a lot. 2) I have enough tote bags.

I used to print a lot. I have enough tote bags. I found more stuff for my box of once-loved tools. It felt so good throwing away all the papers having to do with that one thing. If spiders had to crawl into one box and die, I can forgive them for choosing that other box. I used to spend a lot of time teaching students who were comfortable with…

The crisis in local journalism has become a crisis of democracy

The paucity of reporters has triggered an invisible power shift toward elected officials. A Pew Research Center study of Baltimore showed an increase in local stories based on press releases from elected officials. The trends in journalism exacerbate the divide between the coasts and the rest of the country. In 2014, almost 1 out of 5 U.S. reporters worked in New York, Washington or Los Angeles, compared with 1 in 8 in 2004.…

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Books vs. Kindles: The Choice No One Made Ever

“I bought a Kindle. I didn’t immediately go home and burn all my other books. I didn’t stop buying paper books. I read both and no one came knocking at my door. It’s a boring story, I know. I’m thinking of adding in a talking pig and a plot to destroy Lady Elaine from Mr. Roger’s world of make believe. But it’s the truth. There is absolutely no reason you can’t…