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Terry Mapes
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Email reconsidered
Speed and informality have been the strengths of email since its beginning. They have also been its weaknesses. Letters, whether handwritten or typewritten, take an investment of time to write, and then there is the long wait, usually several days at best, ...

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Smile when you say that, pardner
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that using exclamation points is like laughing at your own jokes. I like the analogy. In either case, it is telling one's audience how to respond. An exclamation point says, "Hey, pay attention here. This is important!" Lau...

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Jack lives on
As an inspiration for novelists and screenwriters, Jack the Ripper has three things going for him. 1) His gruesome murders of London prostitutes in the 1880s continue to shock us, making the nickname given to him still recognizable, 2) he has never been ide...

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Always room for more books
Jesse Stuart When we packed the car to head north from Florida this week, we didn't think we had room for anything else. My wife even lacked sufficient leg room. But did this stop us from stopping twice along the way to buy books? No, of course not. Just on...

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Two extremes
Isaac Asimov For some people, once something is written, it is finished. There is no such thing as a second draft, a revision of an awkward sentence or even a quick read to check spelling and grammar. Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov was famous for this....

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Mere Christians
The word fan somehow doesn't seem right for someone who starts reading C.S. Lewis and then somehow never stops. Follower? No. Devotee? Wrong. Admirer? Closer, but still not perfect, since Lewis was never about drawing attention to himself, but rather to Jes...

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The plague of memory
The more you remember, the more you've lost. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven Others ask, is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Emily St. John Mandel repeatedly asks a slightly different question in her post-apocalyptic n...

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Off the beaten path
Atlas Obscura is to places what Ripley's Believe It or Not is to people. It finds points on the map, usually well off the beaten path, whose very existence can amaze us. There's a lake in Mali where fishing is allowed only one day a year, when at a signal m...

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Illogical language
Most of us can think of English words or phrases that, while they might seem to mean the opposite, actually mean the same thing. Take the words flammable and inflammable. How many people have regretted lighting cigarettes in the vicinity of signs warning IN...

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The quest for proper English
These two groups, the prescriptivists and the descriptivists, haven't gotten on together very well, and the struggle between them is at the heart of this book. Jack Lynch, The Lexicographer's Dilemma Those who compile dictionaries are called lexicographers....
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