Between the Issues

Flipped Out

Our adventure began with a two-​sentence conversation with Eric as we watched our new favorite HGTV show, “Flip or Flop.” The show stars Tarek and Christina El Moussa — a young, attractive (and a bit annoying) married couple who buy property, flip it, and sell it, usually making an outrageous profit.

Hath Not a Jew

Of Shakespeare’s major comedies, The Merchant of Venice is my least favorite because it’s the least funny. In a post-​Holocaust world it’s difficult to stage the play’s anti-​semitic jokes, and directors often make the understandable choice to shift the tone contour of the play toward the political and tragic.

The Art of Lazar Ran

From origins at the Vitebsk Fine Arts School in Belarus (founded by Mark Chagall in 1918), to safe-​keeping in an Ohio home for decades, the art of Lazar Ran and his contemporaries has taken a circuitous path to appear on the walls of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. The collection…

On Karoshi, Part III

As noted in my last several posts, Japanese salarymen worked long hours without overtime pay for a selfless reason: to pull their defeated country up by its bootstraps. And they succeeded wildly. By 1978 Japan had surpassed Germany to become the world’s second-​largest economy, a position it held until it…

The World Through a Food Truck

“Just don’t tell Baba our chicken is better.” It’s the only request Ryah asks customers who stop by to visit Leena’s, the food truck she operates out of a ’91 Chevy Step Van that began its life delivering the Pittsburgh Post-​Gazette.

On Karoshi, Part II

The word “karoshi” was invented in 1978 to describe an increasingly common phenomenon: Japanese workers, mostly the venerable salarymen, were dropping dead of heart disease in the prime of life. There was a reason it all happened in the 1970s. The shocking — to the Japanese — and humiliating loss in World War II

Seeing the World Through Music

Nietzsche famously castigated Euripides for killing the tradition of the chorus in Greek tragedy, because the audience no longer had music to inform its comprehension. He even felt that Euripides caused the death of tragedy itself by trying to make it too Socratic, too rational.

On Karoshi

“Karoshi” is a Japanese word that means, literally, “death by overwork.” For nearly half a century it’s been quite common for Japanese workers, usually the legendary “salarymen,” simply to drop dead, almost always from heart problems, after working long hours for many years. Other Asian cultures, especially, South Korea and…

Exploring the Work of Damianos and Mulcahy at the Westmoreland

To paraphrase a new friend, director general of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts Jamal Shah: in celebrating life, art follows the inquisitive human mind in its desire to delve deeper as it challenges the established reality and surprises us with new realities. It challenges us to deepen our…

The Illusion of Control, Part III

In my last post I pointed out that, contrary to the claims of Modern Portfolio Theory, families who own businesses aren’t at all uncomfortable with the “single stock risk” they are taking. (I’m not counting startup companies, which mostly fail.) I also pointed out that, once a family sells its…

Miraculous

I found the miraculous in the dim lamp that hung above your head, swinging.

Seeing a Garden in a Pile of Debris

Julia had fired up the chainsaw because she had been bored, really. Retirement had been fun for an hour or two, but she needed something to do.

The Illusion of Control, Part II

When I was writing my last book, Family Capital, my objective was to make it appealing — well, tolerable — for people who didn’t care much for investment issues but who knew they really should learn something about them. Adult children, for example. But also spouses, cousins, attorneys, accountants, bankers, trustees and others who…

Thanksgiving in Greensburg

Childhood expands and does not measure. Adulthood counts and contracts.

The Illusion of Control

“Tell me, sweet lord, what is’t that takes from thee/​Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep? *** In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watched,/And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars.” —From Lady Percy’s soliloquy in Henry IV, Part I
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