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We're Hiring an Assistant Editor!

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We're looking to expand the award-winning Mental Floss team.

Mental Floss has won Webby Awards (three!), lost ASME Awards (thrilled to be nominated!), and published 15 books and five board games. Our YouTube channel has 1.3 million subscribers (170 million views!), and we reach 15 million people a month through mentalfloss.com. Our goal is to find fascinating stories and bring them back to our readers. The kinds of stories people want to share, and not just in the social media sense. There are so many incredibly interesting things out there. Can you help us uncover them?

ASSISTANT EDITOR

We're looking for a rabidly curious grammar freak to dream up great stories and edit other people's work in our New York office. You can write about almost anything, and you will. Why Paraguay loves Rutherford B. Hayes. What people did for fun in the 16th century. Why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were so obsessed with pizza. Chaucer. Mini-golf. Drones. Why Syrian golden hamsters spend so much time at the liquor store.

Primary responsibilities will include conceiving and assigning story ideas that fit Mental Floss's smart, quirky voice and positive tone, editing work from freelancers and staff writers, writing posts, and generally elevating mentalfloss.com.

But because we're a small editorial team, you'll wear many hats. You may be asked to help with video scripts and board games and event planning and new apps. Everyone does a little of everything.

Ideal candidates will have:

- Two years of editing, writing, and assigning experience (food and lifestyle experience a plus)
- Lots of ideas for great stories we want to read
- Energetic, positive written voice, and the ability to translate complicated concepts into accessible writing
- Ability to conceive, pitch, and execute timely stories on tight deadlines
- Strong attention to detail and multitasking skills
- Ability to work quickly
- Strong research skills
- Ability to nurture writers with constructive feedback
- Natural curiosity and the ability to generate tons of story ideas (this one should probably be higher)
- Ability to work and collaborate with a team
- Willingness to take ownership of projects
- Knowledge of social media platforms and analytics
- Experience with Drupal and Photoshop a plus
- We should mention that editing part again

How to Apply

- Send your resume and cover letter to jobs@mentalfloss.com
- Put the name of the job you're applying for in the subject line
- Three things you've written or edited that you're proud of

We offer health, dental, vision, and life insurance coverage, an optional 401k enrollment, FSA/transit flexible spending, 15 vacation days, plus various discounts on gym memberships, entertainment, etc. We look forward to hearing from you!

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This Just In
Lincoln’s Famous Letter of Condolence to a Grieving Mother Was Likely Penned by His Secretary
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Brown University Library, Wikipedia/Public Domain

Despite his lack of formal schooling, Abraham Lincoln was a famously eloquent writer. One of his most renowned compositions is the so-called “Bixby letter,” a short yet poignant missive the president sent a widow in Boston who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. But as Newsweek reports, new research published in the journal Digital Scholarship in the Humanities [PDF] suggests that Lincoln’s private secretary and assistant, John Hay, actually composed the dispatch.

The letter to Lydia Bixby was written in November 1864 at the request of William Shouler, the adjutant general of Massachusetts, and state governor John Albion Andrew. “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming,” it read. “But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.”

Unknown to Lincoln, Bixby had actually only lost two sons in battle; the others had deserted the army, were honorably discharged, or died a prisoner of war. Nevertheless, word of the compassionate presidential gesture spread when the Boston Evening Transcript reprinted a copy of the 139-word letter for all to read.

Nobody quite knows what happened to Bixby’s original letter—some say she was a Confederate sympathizer and immediately burnt it—but for years, scholars debated whether Hay was its true author.

During Hay’s lifetime, the former secretary-turned-statesman had reportedly told several people in confidence that he—not Lincoln—had written the renowned composition, TIME reports. The rumor spread after Hay's death, but some experts interpreted the admission to mean that Hay had transcribed the letter, or had copied it from a draft.

To answer the question once and for all, a team of forensic linguists in England used a text analysis technique called n-gram tracing, which identifies the frequency of linguistic sequences in a short piece of writing to determine its true author. They tested 500 texts by Hay and 500 by Lincoln before analyzing the Bixby letter, the researchers explained in a statement quoted by Newsweek.

“Nearly 90 percent of the time, the method identified Hay as the author of the letter, with the analysis being inconclusive in the rest of the cases,” the linguists concluded.

According to Atlas Obscura, the team plans to present its findings at the International Corpus Linguistics Conference, which will take place at England’s University of Birmingham from Monday, July 24 to Friday, July 28.

[h/t Newsweek]

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This Just In
'Super Producer' Donates Gallons of Her Breast Milk to Feed Other Kids
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Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra makes much, much more breast milk than your average mother. So the Beaverton, Oregon, resident has become a major donor to milk banks, giving her milk away to babies in need all over the country, according to Portland ABC affiliate KATU.

Anderson-Sierra has what’s called Hyper Lactation Syndrome, meaning that her body produces far more than her 6-month-old baby can use. Most nursing mothers produce in the range of 15 to 30 ounces of breast milk a day, but she produces around 225 ounces (1.7 gallons). That's a lot of extra milk.

For many mothers, Hyper Lactation Syndrome is a major problem, not an opportunity for charity. It makes most women’s breasts feel overfull all the time, and can lead to plugged ducts and leaking between feedings. It can also cause issues for nursing babies, who can develop colic. Pumping more isn’t usually the answer—that tells the body that the milk is being used, and to produce more—but Anderson-Sierra seems to see her overproduction as the solution to a problem, rather than a problem in itself.

“Breast milk is liquid gold,” she told KATU. “It should never be thrown away.” (It is, in fact, a miraculously versatile fluid, and the recommended food source for babies under 6 months old.) Anderson-Sierra has two full-sized freezers stacked with bags and bags of breast milk in her Oregon home. She donates them to a milk bank that tests her milk and sends it out nationwide, including for use in feeding premature babies in hospitals. The bank reimburses her a dollar an ounce, which she uses to pay for her freezers and to buy more bags and sanitation kits.

Anderson-Sierra spends hours out of her day pumping breast milk, which sounds utterly exhausting. Those preemies in the NICU are grateful for her time, surely. It's a lot more generous than most of us would be with our bodies.

[h/t KATU]

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