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Project 007: Fountain Pens

The last time we tried to write a letter by hand we had to re-read it to make sure it actually made sense, and only looked like the work of a first-grader. Sometime in the last few keyboard-dominated years our handwriting skills took a nosedive. For Project 007 Ralph Abercrombie sent us this photo essay..

The last time we tried to write a letter by hand we had to re-read it to make sure it actually made sense, and only looked like the work of a first-grader. Sometime in the last few keyboard-dominated years our handwriting skills took a nosedive. For Project 007 Ralph Abercrombie sent us this photo essay on the lost art of penmanship and the equipment it's best practiced with: the fountain pen.

He writes:"The fountain pen is to paper as brush is to canvas-its use is an art form; the result can be artwork. The ballpoint is a mechanical device born of soulless expediency, wherein grace finds itself sacrificed to convenience and productivity. The force required to propel it across paper precludes finesse and inhibits style. It conveys thought to paper in a precise and mechanical manner, leaving little room for individuality. A fountain pen imbues the written word with the unique character and flair of its writer."



Watermans, early 1900's: red ripple and hard rubber, gold and silver overlay


1800's dip quills: Warren "Penny Quills", Samson Mordan & Co. steel nib dip pens, ivory map pens


Japanese figural pen, early 20th century


A typical lever-filler pen, ca. 1903 Waterman 52-1/2VMany antique and vintage fountain pens are lever-fillers. To fill one, lift its lever (as shown on the disassembled example, above) and submerge its nib in ink. Depress the lever and count to ten before removing the nib from the ink bottle.A plate inside the lever box presses against a rubber bladder; when the lever is depressed the plate relaxes and allows the bladder to inflate, thereby taking in ink through the nib.The flake seen above is of orange shellac; it melts under a heat gun and is used to affix rubber bladders to feed sections. A spare bladder is seen as well.

Gold, Platinum, Rhodium nibs (L-to-R): Montblanc 149, Sailor Professional Gear, Pelikan M1000, Waterman Exception


Ink DrawerOne of the nice things about a fountain pen is that if you can't find the ink color you want for it, you can always mix it yourself. My favorite shade is a deep burgundy made by mixing Noodler's Azure Blue with Foxy Red. I add 5% white to give the ink a glossy appearance.

Inkwells: Victorian, traveller, burst-tops
The full essay is here.
Articles
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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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