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How Do We Make Our Mark?

Methods and styles of writing have routinely been subject to the vicissitudes of technology, even before the digital revolution.


Penmanship has long been the essence of personal expression. Although good penmanship has atrophied in our computer age, methods and styles have routinely been subject to the vicissitudes of technology, even before the digital revolution.Take the ballpoint pen, invented in 1938 by a Hungarian journalist named Laszlo Biro, who had observed that newspaper ink dried faster than the ink in fountain pens, keeping the paper smudge-free. He created a pen using printer's ink and changed the manner and look of written expression. The British government bought the licensing rights to Biro's invention during World War II because the Royal Air Force needed a pen that would not leak at higher altitudes. The basic concept of the ballpoint has remained fairly consistent, though styles have changed. The Bauhaus teacher Laszlo Moholy-Nagy designed a famous Parker Pen, one of the most popular of the genre, but perhaps the most popular of all ballpoints is the Bic Crystal, introduced by Marcel Bich in 1950, the first inexpensive, disposable pen. The digital pen is on the horizon, but the ballpoint will always be the sina qua non.-STEVEN HELLER

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Expression comes in many fonts, colored inks, and paper hues. But one of the most important ancillary inventions for scribblers was Liquid Paper, more commonly known as white-out. Originally called "mistake out," it was invented by a wannabe artist and former Dallas secretary, Bette Nesmith Graham (the mother of former Monkee Mike Nesmith). Seeking a better typewriter correction ribbon, she made a brew of white tempera and pigment that resulted in the most functional liquid since water.

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Another boon to expression was loose-leaf paper, blue-lined with a pink margin and three holes so that it can sit in a loose-leaf binder (U.S. patent #4904103). Who actually designed the paper is something of a mystery, but the concept dates back to the 1850s.

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The most popular precursor to the PDA was Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak's Apple Newton MessagePad, released in 1993 and named after Sir Isaac Newton. It was a lot clunkier than the new organizers, but nonetheless had many of the writing functions-including handwriting recognition software, like inventor Jeff Hawkins's smart Palm Pilot-that are so ubiquitous today.Jessica's pick:I resist the notion that a machine can draw as well as a person, but recently I saw something that made me think differently. Scriptographer is a plug-in to Adobe Illustrator that lets you draw, and then completes the gesture-so a random line becomes an arabesque, or a spiral, or a tree branch. It is captivating precisely because it's so collaborative; a kind of improvisational dialogue that opens your eyes to an entirely new kind of expression.-JESSICA HELFAND
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Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

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When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

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"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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