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April 16, 2009 3:50 PM

Progress: Cheap pens that write right (and don't smear)

Disposable pens used to be things you wanted to dispose of by throwing them across the room. They skipped. They had to be muscled across the page. They leaked sticky ink that smeared good words — and shirt cuffs if the writer was left-handed. Sometimes America progresses, however, and it has, thanks to generations of Japanese engineers driven by dreams of better pens.

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