PEOPLE & OPINION

The Stubbornness of Culture

In 2013 J. D. Vance graduated from Yale Law School, an accomplishment he shared that year with the following fraction of his fellow Americans: 0.00000063.

Don’t Even Think About Crossing a Hillbilly

We’ve talked about several obstacles to success in middle class Ohio for migrants from southeastern Kentucky: they had horrible accents and they tended to dress funny. But the biggest obstacle was the most difficult to overcome: their behavior.

Don’t Dress Like a Hillbilly

Last week we discussed one of the major hurdles recent immigrants from southeastern Kentucky faced when they tried to assimilate into middle class society in Ohio: they talked like hillbillies. This week we’ll look at a second hurdle: the matter of dress.

Opining on Eponymy

It used to be you had to die to get your name etched in stone.

Kelleman, Fech, Kaminski, Thors, Bhattacharya, Crawley, Miller

Katharine Eagan Kelleman is the CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, succeeding Ellen McLean. Kelleman comes to Pittsburgh from Tampa, Fla., where she led the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and won that region’s 2016 Businesswoman of the Year Award for economic development.

The Inscrutable Foibles of Hillbilly Talk

Although the parallels between my life and that of J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” seem flat-​out astonishing, it’s actually the differences that are more interesting.

Why Were Pittsburgh’s Scots-​Irish So Successful?

If Malcolm Gladwell is right that the cultural legacy of the Scots-​Irish explains the poor outcomes experienced by people in southeastern Kentucky, how do we explain the exceptional success of these same people in Pittsburgh?

The Culture of the Scots-​Irish

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” –Peter Drucker (supposedly)

Bognar, Franklin, Freeman, Ross, Goldstein, McElhattan, Malone

Nadine Bognar, 87: The co-​owner of Bognar and Company, a supplier of coke and coal for the steel industry, she became chairman and CEO in 1992 after her husband’s death. While her business acumen contributed to the company’s continued success, it was her philanthropic efforts and support of a wide…

The Gowns She’s Known

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
There’s less than a month left to liquidate, oh geez, like, 1,000 gowns. Rows and rows of them. Satin and lace all hanging pretty in clear garment bags with a hand-​written tag attached: 60% off!

Buying a Company Town

Joseph Meyer lives in the former manager’s home of an abandoned company town, where there is no running water, no cell service, and until recently, there was not a single resident. On this cold Saturday in December, 63-​year-​old Meyer splits wood to heat his three-​story home. The scene would be…

Leaving Kentucky for Two Very Different Reasons

You can take the boy out of Kentucky, but you can’t take Kentucky out of the boy. – Mamaw Vance

The Weird Parallels Between the Hillbilly Elegy Author and Me

I just completed a series of posts on Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-​First Century,” a book that experienced an astonishing publications history — despite being 700 pages long and a hard slog — because it caught the exact tenor of the times. A very different and more accessible book that enjoyed similar popularity,…

John Fetterman, Public Servant

I was born in Reading, Pa., on Aug. 15, 1969. My parents, Karl and Susan Fetterman, were both only 19 years old at the time, so I was an “unplanned event.” But my mom and dad did get married and, as I matured and came to understand the circumstances surrounding…

Contemplating the Death of Mice

I sit in my living room on a quiet winter morning dimmed by an opaque, gray sky. I hear crunching, first thinking a squirrel is playing on my roof, or winter snow and ice is starting to slide. The intermittent sound is persistent and peculiar. I walk toward it. It…
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