This month the U.S. government suspended the health emergency, effectively ending the pandemic.
That doesn’t mean covid-19 is gone (it isn’t); it doesn’t mean it won’t flare back up (it could); it doesn’t mean we won’t have another pandemic someday (we might). But it does mark the end of this nearly 3.5 year period.
Millions of lives were lost, and economic and psychological trauma was enacted, all of which we’re still confronting. As a coping mechanism, a friend and I were talking about the little behavior changes that took root, some of which we may reference for years to come. At the very beginning my Technical.ly newsroom was interested in what and how we would create.
I kept up my resolutions, and they were different than before covid-19. I’ll always reference these few simple behavior changes that now feel entrenched as part of me after so many life changes:
Continue reading How was your pandemic?
Prompted by Technical.ly’s year-long THRIVING reporting series, I joined the CityCast podcast. We’re interviewing hundreds of people from a half-dozen other cities, plus following 10 Philadelphians for a full year to help understand: What are the obstacles and opportunities to economically thrive?
This was originally published on Technical.ly. I republished it here because it feels an especially personal update. This post completes a resolution of mine for the year.
After seven years of publishing Generocity.org, Technical.ly’s parent company Technically Media has transitioned the nonprofit-industry news site to Civic Capital, a philanthropic consultancy.
This is personal to me. In 2015, I led the effort to acquire Generocity, which was founded by philanthropist Sandra Baldino years prior. In the ensuing years, I was publisher for both Technical.ly, which expanded its geographic focus, and Generocity, which remained focused in Philadelphia. Both followed a similar playbook: Find an important industry that is typically covered nationally and report obsessively on it with a local lens.
Continue reading After 7 years, I am no longer Generocity.org publisher
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
Newborn 0-3 mo
Infant 3-6 mo
Baby 6-12 mo
(Parents are over tired)
Toddler: 1-3 yrs
Pre-schooler: 3-5 yrs
(Parents are always late)
Grade-schooler: 5-13 yrs
(Parents are apparently idiots)
Philadelphia is old enough a city that its business community has lived many lifetimes.
Though its Quakerly tradition shunned ostentatious consumption, there are old roots. In 1732, The Rowland Company became one of the first incorporated businesses in the country (and it still operates in Philadelphia). 1881, Wharton became the first college-level business school. The Philadelphia Contributionship(1752) is the country’s oldest property insurance company; Rawle & Henderson (1783) is the oldest law-firm and (since relocated) D. Landreth Seed Company (1783) is the oldest seed companies (George Washington was a customer).
Philadelphia’s global clout declined in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Many of its prominent manufacturing businesses did not adapt to a changing world. Out of my own curiosity I’ve started a running tab of some of the more prominent closures from that time.
Continue reading A list of once-great, now closed Philadelphia manufacturing giants
English is one in a long line of global lingua francas. If it’s the last, we’ll lose an important bit of culture, and reinforce elements of inequality.
That’s what Rosemary Salomone argues in her 2021 book The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language.
In 2010, British Nicholas Ostler author argued that English will be the last lingua franca, due to the values-lock of technology today. Salomone’s book is an exhaustive review of how English came to its vaulted position today – beating French, replacing Latin and joining others like Arabic, Italian and Greek that played versions of the global language of commerce of the past.
I enjoyed the book, though dense, and recommend it for language and history nerds. Below find my notes for future reference.
Continue reading The Rise of English
In June 2009, the veteran lead pilot of Air France 447 was awoken from his scheduled nap to find his junior crew in trouble. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he had three minutes to determine which of the conflicting alerts from the plane’s automated system to respond to, and what were false alarms.
He failed. Nearly 250 crew and passengers died in the Atlantic Ocean.
That’s from the easily most gripping chapter in economics journalist Tim Harford’s 2016 book Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives. That tragic story is a cautionary tale for our age, demonstrating the paradox of automation: “The better the automatic systems, the more out of practice human operators will be, and the more unusual will be the situations they face.”
How quickly could you look up from your smartphone if your autonomous vehicle alerted you that it had disengaged? Software, like many managers and orderly obsessives, wants a tidy world but the world is actually quite messy. That’s Harford’s message: Embrace the mess.
Below are my notes from the book for my future reference.
Continue reading Creativity is ‘Messy,’ notes on Tim Harford’s 2016 book
This started as a video, thread and post.
Two communities I follow that don’t overlap much: (1) Those who are following the battle between YouTuber Coffeezilla and big-time influencer Logan Paul, and (2) those who focus on journalistic process and integrity.
I’m here to tell you these conversations are one and the same.
Continue reading What a feud between YouTuber Coffeezilla and influencer Logan Paul says about journalism
“Economics is about who gets what and why.”
It’s a fundamental part of how the world works, so everyone should better understand how an economy works. So argues business journalist Tim Harford in his 2005 debut book The Undercover Economist, informed by his syndicated columns. Published the same year as the breakout success Freakonomics, The Undercover Economist helped establish a category of pop economics nonfiction books to help explain the world. They’re heavily influenced by behavioral economics and mix in lots of real world examples. Harford was part of a wave of writers that brought in greater familiarity with otherwise arcane economics concepts, a trend that has only continued the last 15 years.
That’s fitting a trend to less academic and more practical uses of the field of economics. Keynes wanted economists to be not great theorists but “rather like dentists” to solve everyday problems. Harford has been part of the movement to make it so.
Below I share my notes from the book for future reference.
Continue reading The Undercover Economist: notes from Tim Harford’s 2005 debut
Ben Shapiro is combative and media savvy enough that he has quickly become one of the country’s best known stewards of conservatism’s future.
The conservative commentator and Daily Wire founder has staked out some considerably right-wing opinions and built a reputation for college-campus debates, in which he and progressive 20-somethings spar for social media attention. In July 2021, he published The Authoritarian Moment, his argument against the popular narrative that conservatives represent the greatest risk of authoritarianism. The greater risk is from the left, he says.
I read generously, but Shapiro just does not come across like a good-faith actor.
Continue reading The Authoritarian Moment: notes from Ben Shapiro’s 2021 book