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Category Archives: Culture

How much does cursive matter anymore?

⬆︎ Spencerian script, 1884. This was the ideal in business correspondence. Source: Wikipedia. The Atlantic has an interesting piece this morning by a former Harvard president: “Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive: How will they interpret the past?” The article mentions that learning to write in cursive was dropped from the standard American curriculum […]


Source: Wikimedia Commons The media are so full of pieces about Queen Elizabeth II that I hesitate out of modesty and the risk of redundancy to add to it. We Americans may be more interested in royalty than the British, probably because we don’t have royalty. But, as other pieces about Elizabeth II have said, […]

Scots: Language? Or dialect?

Concise Scots Dictionary. Edinburgh University Press, 2017. Second edition; first published 1985. 852 pages. In the academic debate about whether Scots is a language or just a dialect, it had seemed more likely to me as a mere reader and non-academic that Scots is a dialect. This was only because I can understand it, or […]

The Royal family (of writing instruments)

⬆︎ A Parker Duofold Centenntial fountain pen, first bought in London in 1995, now in my hands Earlier today, Henry, who frequently comments here, sent me a link to a Washington Post story that I had almost missed. It’s “Beyond the keyboard: Fountain pen collectors find beauty in ink.” I was about three weeks ahead […]

We’re overdue for a Sir Walter Scott revival

I’ve written here in the past about how, when I can’t find newer fiction that appeals to me (often the case), I read a classic. It was back in 2013 when I read The Antiquary. Last year I read The Heart of Mid-Lothian, and earlier this year I started (but didn’t finish) Ivanhoe. I found […]

Ink’s place in the retro movement

Up through the 1970s, this type of ink, made by Scheaffer, was available just about everywhere. As I recall, the available colors included black, blue-black, red, and green. Scheaffer also made inexpensive fountain pens that were sold into the student market. Just about everybody had one. I wore out (and lost) a great many of […]

The Essex Serpent

I was hesitant to watch this. What I’d read about it made the story seem contrived. A sea monster? Really? Was it a bodice-ripper? If so, that’s not my genre. I also knew that the story was set in the flats and fens and swamps of southeastern England — a part of England you probably […]

Another forever home for another typewriter

I have written here in the past about empathy for mechanical things. The syndrome must surely be related to the feelings — should I call them moral intuitions? — that cause us to adopt homeless cats. The mechanical version is the conviction that beautiful old machines ought to have a home. They ought to be […]

How reason propels the arc of justice

The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress. Peter Singer. Princeton University Press. Second edition, 2011; first published 1981. 208 pages. Peter Singer, born in 1946, is one of our most progressive moral philosophers. In 1975, he published Animal Liberation. For years, he has argued for altruism, from utililitarian principles. In 2015, he published The […]

Young lives, ruined by Hitler

Generation War, a German production, 2013 We Americans have seen many movies about World War II, but we probably haven’t seen a movie about how the war looked from a German perspective. Generation War is hard to watch, as the misery and disillusion of the Germans escalate year after awful year. The stories of the […]