Posts

Why Can't I Fly?

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In 1899, French artists presented the world of 2000 . They see the 21st century filled with flying fire fighters, postal deliveries, and the police catching the bad guy. School teachers feed books into a machine that will speak the books to students wearing headphones. Everything has wires - no wi fi here - yet.  These drawings remind me of the original Superman - Action Comics No. 1, July 1938. Maybe it is the printing. The pictures were printed as "illustrated trade cards" for public consumption.  Whenever I see pictures or stories like this, they are always filled with flying vehicles and people. But I always wonder where is my flying car or my wings? While we don't have people with wings delivering packages and such, we have gone a step further further, removing the human equation and allowing drones to deliver packages and unmanned cars to deliver us. It's interesting that these futurists never remove the human element in their visions. People are always present;

Paper Cost Some Everything

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  Over at Lapham's Quarterly there is a story entitled "Flesh and Page" . I knew a bit about the making of parchment and the switch to paper because it seemed like a good story. But this article is a full-blown history of how parchment was made--animal by animal. The author of the article, Bruce Holsinger, asserts instructions for making parchment were not well written, often incomplete, or even insensible. But since parchment was an expensive commodity, medieval creators more likely were loath to reveal their recipes. When making a local product with local animals and local organic base and acidic compounds, recipes were bound to vary and vary widely. Regardless, there are dozens of recipes left from medieval times. Parchment had a reverential place in most societies. So much so, that it caused religious uproars regarding the manner in which animal skins were prepared especially among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. But another argument seems to rival religious authority.

Ever Consider Writing Errors?

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There’s a recent article in The Millions that begins by giving a history lesson on “sorts” and “upper” and “lower” case. Now, this may not be something that gets you excited, but I find it fun to learn history, especially its minutiae. “How Many Errorrs Are in This Essay?” by Ed Simon is a jaunt through the history of errors of all kinds. Did you know the St. James Bible was called the "Wicked Bible" because the first printing contained the error "Thou shalt commit adultery"? Yikes. What a mistake to clean up. Books of the 17th century were created by gathering and placing miniscule "sorts" (individual letters) into frames one letter, line, and page at a time. You couldn't just leave them around gathering dust, you had to take them apart to create new pages. That means the page containing "Thou shalt commit adultery" had to be completely redone, by hand, for hours. But as they say, that's not all. The author goes into the history of huma

The Elevator Pitch

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No matter where, when, or how (before you graduate, after you graduate, etc.), someday you may be lucky enough to meet your career hero, be it Mark Zuckerburg or the chairman of Google. If you are a writer, you may be lucky enough to meet your favorite author, agent, or publisher. What do you do? You prepare for success and pitch yourself. An elevator pitch is a short synopsis of your skills and abilities, and like any other sales pitch, first impressions are important. These pitches are also important when you go to job fairs, networking events, or conferences. thebalancecareers.com Your elevator pitch is a summary (or thesis, if you will) of your answer to the question "Tell me a little about yourself?" - an often used opener to the job interview. Here are some of the basics from thebalancecareers.com: 1) Keep it short. No more than 60 seconds. 2) Be Persuasive. This is a double-edged sword, be persuasive, not needy. 3) Share your skills . Not the fact that

First Impressions

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First impressions are really important when it comes to a job interview, meeting the in-laws for the first time, trying to land a sale, and many, many other social situations... ...and it only takes two to three seconds to make a first impression. According to Mind Tools the key elements to making a great first impression are:      1. Be on time.      2. Present yourself appropriately.      3. Be yourself.      4.  Have a winning smile.      5. Be open and confident.      6. Use small talk.      7. Be positive.      8. Be courteous and attentive. We have all probably heard this list before (or something like it), and you've probably been to a job interview, or have had to meet someone you wanted to impress, but did you ever think about the first impression your writing makes? You should. When you send a letter or an article to a colleague or publisher they cannot help but form some kind of first impression when they open your document; this also applies to your pr

The Annotated Bibliography

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Sometimes writing an annotated bibliography leaves students and even professional writers wondering, Why? The annotated bibliography and the essay for which you are producing the annotated bibliography are two entirely different pieces of writing. NOTHING that you put in your annotated bibliography will appear in your final essay. Understand that your annotated bibliography is the preliminary list of sources you will be using. Often times, when writing a paper, you will change your mind or go into another direction once you dive into the subject. So, more than likely, you will probably need to do a little more research once you begin writing the actual paper. Be mindful and collect relevant college-level sources. Here some things to remember : 1. Qualifications of Author Limit your articles to scholarly/peer reviewed articles and you'll generally be able to find the qualifications of the authors on the first page of the article. The qualifications generally consist of

Is There Hope for Good Writing in the Sciences?

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What first attracted me to this article entitled "Novelist Cormac McCarthy Gives Writing Advice to Scientists … and Anyone Who Wants to Write Clear, Compelling Prose" was STEM - the bane of any English professor. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is the current trend in public education, pushing aside the arts for technology. But STEM should really be changed to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) because while some may believe that the Arts are just a supercilious area of study that no one really needs, that is just false. Rhetoric is taught in the Arts and everyone needs to know how to argue properly, especially scientists. If not, how are you ever going to prove your hypothesis or spot a fallacy in your problem? So what does that have to to with Cormac McCarthy? McCarthy loves science and scientists. The writer of such novels as No Country for Old Men, Blood Meridian, and The Road has   "Since the 1990s, mainta