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


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.


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.


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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Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

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The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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