Image: A man reads a newspaper on a subway car.
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Americans grapple with recognizing facts in news stories: Pew survey

The more you identify with a particular point of view, the harder it is to recognize the difference between facts and opinions, and the easier it becomes to accept as “fact” an opinion that aligns with and affirms your world view. This is not something that only the “Liberal Elite Media” or the “Deplorable Right” are doing — it’s something humans do. Only 26 percent were able to correctly identify…

Uneasy Lies the Head — Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power

John Stubbs reviews Stephen Grenblatt’s Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power The psychology and spectacle of villainy and the intoxicating nature of power clearly preoccupied Shakespeare. The grandeur, amoral freedom of action and sheer theatrical potential of tyrants must have moved and excited him. The case of a confirmed murderous dictator, after all, especially one with the charisma, merciless intelligence and twisted charm Shakespeare bestows on Richard III, gave unequalled scope for…

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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…