PEOPLE & OPINION

Flo’s Wisdom — on the Eve of 50 Years as a Waitress at Pamela’s

Around 1 p.m., right after the lunch rush, 87-​year old Flo Silbach will start slowing down. She won’t quit, though. Oh no, no way she’s quitting. Her shift at Pamela’s Diner in Millvale doesn’t end until four. So, instead of shuffling around the tables and booths, jotting down orders in…

Remembering Prominent Pittsburghers Who Passed Away in 2017

From Henry Hillman to Dr. Thomas Starzl, we’ve said goodbye to many influential Pittsburghers this year. Remember those who have passed away and their impact on the region — and the world — in this compilation of our Last Chapter department.

Burger, Beaumont, Fincke, Lowry, Frankel, Papadakos, Dozzi, Troan

by PQ Staff
Herb Burger, 87: A leading Pittsburgh advertising executive, Burger led the PR effort that created the 1980s slogan, “Pittsburgh: The city with a smile on its face” while president of Creamer Inc. After the firm was sold, Burger started the St. George Group. He was the first chairman of the…

The Trouble with the Elites

C. P. Snow titled his last book, written shortly before he died, “A Coat of Varnish.” What he meant, as he put it, was that “Civilization is hideously fragile.” Civilization, that is to say, is like a thin coat of varnish spread on top of human savagery. The varnish looks…

Europe Fails to Build the New Man

Since human beings settled into communities — that is, since most of us stopped being hunter-​gatherers — a primary goal of mankind has been to improve how we are governed. We wanted governments that were more representative, fair, and efficient, governments that could improve our economic circumstances and defend themselves (and us) from outside…

Standing Tall

by PQ Staff
This fall’s NFL national anthem controversy was an opera whose bloated cast of characters would be hard to match — from President Donald Trump, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to team owners across the country to rich NFL players professing social concern. And as many problems as the world seems to have,…

Sarah’s Wisdom Behind the Counter

“Okay, what’s today’s joke?” The guy at the counter orders his Americano, sits down, lets the anticipation build for a few seconds. His eyes are dancing behind thick black glasses, grinning like he’s about to bubble over into a thousand little joy bubbles, because he’s got a joke.

The Instability of Europe

Between the first and second world wars, most of the European governments — Britain and, to a lesser extent, France, being exceptions — lived lives that were, to paraphrase Hobbes, weak, unstable, and short.

On Populism

Civilization is like a very fine suit of clothes that is just slightly too small for us. The term “populism” derives from the Latin, populus, meaning “people.” It doesn’t mean “people” in the sense of “There are a lot of people who don’t read my blog.” It means “people” in…

Nailed It

I recently received a nail salon gift card, which I thought was a bit unusual, because I have short, raggedy nails and giant “Man-​Hands.” My “Man-​Hands” are definitely passed down from my father’s side — my Uncle Willis could bend bottle caps into little tacos just using his thumb and index finger — and…

Tommy the Unlikely Donut Man

Tommy Gozion had never made a donut in his entire life. Which was weird, given the fact that he tacked some neon to the storefront along Route 8 and announced to the world that Valencia Donut was open for business.

To Experts: a Few Words of Wisdom

“I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty.” –William F. Buckley

Back to the Middle Ages: A Century of “Expertism” in America

The vast Federal regulatory apparatus that we know and love today got its start early in the 20th century under President Woodrow Wilson. Appropriately, Wilson was the only President in U.S. history to earn a PhD – he’d been president of Princeton University.

It was a Good Idea in Theory…

Back in 1986 I launched a wealth management firm I conceitedly called “Greycourt” — it’s an anagram for my name. The firm met with modest success and in 1988 I incorporated it. I was probably the most hopeless, bumbling entrepreneur in the history of private enterprise, but somehow I’ve been with Greycourt…

Don’t mess with Mel Messmer

My buddy Bill Downes and I were in good spirits. It was 1960, and after enjoying a light movie at the theater, we were strolling along California Avenue, the main street of Avalon, a small suburb north of Pittsburgh. It was a steamy, red-​sky summer evening. We were chattering away,…
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