Eleanor Jacobs, 91, Dies; a Force Behind the Earth Shoe Phenomenon

from NYTs Eleanor Jacobs, who stumbled upon a pair of odd-looking shoes in Denmark and, with her husband, Raymond, created a short-lived phenomenon by selling them in the United States as Earth Shoes, died on Aug. 25 at her home in Litchfield, Conn. She was 91. Her daughter Susan Jacobs said the cause was congestive heart failure. In 1969, while she and her husband were vacationing in Denmark, Ms. Jacobs’s chronic back pain increased from all the walking she had been doing. She found unexpected salvation with a pair of negative-heel shoes she found at a store in Copenhagen. More […]

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Cheating

from Seth’s Blog There are really only two ways to approach this: “We don’t cheat.” “We cheat when we can get away with it.” The posture of, “our side doesn’t cheat,” is the belief in the validity of the game itself. It’s a statement of moral authority, a promise of consistency and valor. It respects the process. The posture of, “cheat if you can,” is the belief in the ends at any cost. It degrades the system, because if everyone cheats, then there is no system left. Cheaters often brag about their exploits, because they want to normalize them. More […]

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Together, You Can Redeem The Soul Of Our Nation

from NYTs While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity. That is why I had to visit Black Lives […]

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A Different Kind of Civil-Service Organization

from The Atlantic The U.S. national government is failing in its response to the pandemic. One recent example: A month ago, on March 20, the United States and South Korea had about the same number of coronavirus deaths: nearly 100 in South Korea, versus somewhere over 200 in the U.S. Since South Korea has a much smaller population—about 50 million, versus more than 300 million for the U.S.—its per capita death rate was actually much higher. One month later, South Korea’s death total had risen to only 236—while that in the U.S. was rising quickly past 40,000. With adjustments for […]

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Thoughts On “I’m Bored”

from Seth’s Blog If you’re under 14: “Good.” It’s good that you’re feeling bored. Bored is an actual feeling. Bored can prompt forward motion. Bored is the thing that happens before you choose to entertain yourself. Bored is what empty space feels like, and you can use that empty space to go do something important. Bored means that you’re paying attention (no one is bored when they’re asleep.) If you’re over 14: “That’s on you.” As soon as you’re tired of being bored at work, at home, on lockdown, wherever, you’ll go find a challenge. You don’t have to quit […]

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Some Shirts Hide You From Cameras—But Will Anyone Wear Them?

from ars technica Right now, you’re more than likely spending the vast majority of your time at home. Someday, however, we will all be able to leave the house once again and emerge, blinking, into society to work, travel, eat, play, and congregate in all of humanity’s many bustling crowds. The world, when we eventually enter it again, is waiting for us with millions of digital eyes—cameras, everywhere, owned by governments and private entities alike. Pretty much every state out there has some entity collecting license plate data from millions of cars—parked or on the road—every day. Meanwhile all kinds […]

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Gustave Eiffel’s Original Drawings for the Statue of Liberty

from kottke Long thought destroyed or lost forever, a cache of original engineering drawings & blueprints for the Statue of Liberty done by Gustave Eiffel were found among some of Eiffel’s papers purchased at auction last year. Smithsonian magazine has the story of how they came to be found and why the drawings are so significant. More here.

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The Problem For Freelancers

from Seth’s Blog No clients, no work. And the clients have a problem as well: Figuring out who the truly good freelancers are. A marketplace like Upwork is supposed to solve a classic two-sided problem like this one. But the problem is so difficult that marketplaces often make it worse (and charge too much as well). They make it worse by pushing people to be bottom-fishing cheap commodity providers. If someone searches for ‘logo designer’, there is a huge amount of pressure to be the freelancer who checks all the boxes, has decent reviews and is also the cheapest. More […]

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The End Of Handshakes?

from Seth’s Blog In the future, of course, there are no handshakes. Star Trek, Star Wars, even Spaceballs… no one shakes hands. And handshakes haven’t been the standard default for as long as we think–they were codified by the Quakers five hundred years ago, because they were thought to be more egalitarian than tipping a hat or bowing. Today, of course, a handshake is often seen as a threat more than a disarming form of intimacy and equality. More here.

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The Expert Generalist: Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths

from Medium Some of history’s greatest contributions have come from polymaths. Aristotle practically invented half a dozen fields of study across philosophy. Galileo was as much a physicist as he was an engineer when he helped kick-start the scientific revolution. Da Vinci might have been even more famous as an inventor than an artist if his notebooks were ever published. Even in the last 100 years, we have had people like John Von Neumann and Herbert Simon who have made breakthrough advances across fields as diverse as computer science, economics, and psychology. That is, of course, not to detract from […]

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Toward Perfect

from Seth’s Blog Draw a perfect circle. Use a compass or a plotter. Now, zoom in. If you zoom in close enough, you’ll discover that it’s not a perfect circle at all. In fact, anything we create, at close enough magnification, isn’t perfect. It’s foolish to wait until you’ve made something that’s perfect, because you never will. The alternative is to continue to move toward your imaginary ideal, shipping as you iterate. Getting better is the path to better. More here.

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Stop. Stop the Presses.

from Medium At the end of an exceptional first week for our new program in News Innovation and Leadership at the Newmark J-school, the students — five managing editors, a VP, a CEO, and many directors among them — said they learned much from teachers and speakers, yes, but the greatest value likely came from each other, from the candid lessons they all shared. When I first proposed this program about four years ago, I suggested it should offer a smorgasbord of courses to be taken at will. Then I was fortunate enough to recruit Anita Zielina, the ideal news […]

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“There Are Several Reasons”

from Seth’s Blog That’s another way of saying, “It’s complicated.” If you’ve got one reason that’s good enough, share that reason. The other reasons are extra, and if you spend a lot of time on them, you’ve just told us that it’s complicated. Difficult decisions, on the other hand, ARE nuanced, and they involve adding up several benefits to overcome several negative outcomes as well. In those cases, it’s worth beginning by highlighting the things we’re going to avoid as a result of making this choice. More here.

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Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism

from NYTs Mariana Mazzucato was freezing. Outside, it was a humid late-September day in Manhattan, but inside — in a Columbia University conference space full of scientists, academics and businesspeople advising the United Nations on sustainability — the air conditioning was on full blast. For a room full of experts discussing the world’s most urgent social and environmental problems, this was not just uncomfortable but off-message. Whatever their dress — suit, sari, head scarf — people looked huddled and hunkered down. At a break, Dr. Mazzucato dispatched an assistant to get the A.C. turned off. How will we change anything, […]

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The Google Tax

from Seth’s Blog Actually, there are two. The first is the tax we each pay so that companies can bid against each other to buy traffic from Google. Because their revenue model is (cleverly) built on both direct marketing and an auction, they are able to keep a significant portion of the margin from many industries. They’ve become the internet’s landlord. The difference between a successful business in New York and an unsuccessful one is just a few percentage points–the successful ones pay 95% of their profit to landlords, while the unsuccessful ones pay 105%. More here.

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Leadership Tips: Empathy Is Key

from Forbes For everything that goes into products and marketing and every other aspect of your company, running a business is very much a proposition about people. Facing outward, it’s about convincing people to buy your product, partner with you, invest in you; internally, it’s about the work done by the people you bring in and the relationships that enable everyone to work together. Any leader or manager can be said to be as much a manager of people as tasks and responsibilities, and part of effective management is being able to understand and connect with co-workers and employees, often […]

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What Do You Own?

from Seth’s Blog Small business is a resilient backbone of the modern world. Choosing to not simply be the day laborer or the gig worker, but someone who actually owns something. You might own a permission asset–the right people, offering you their attention and trust. You might own a lease or a patent or some other form of property. And you might own a reputation, one that earns you better projects and a bigger say in what happens next. More here.

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How To Be An Expert

from Forbes What is the value of an expert? In an age where information is free and available (without even typing—thank you Alexa), logic would seem to indicate a reduction in value. If information is free, how does the “expert” survive? And yet, in this unique moment in history, we see an overall rise of interest in “experts” and “gurus.” It turns out that we need to update our definition of an expert. Here’s why this matters: in the age of infinite information availability, it’s more vital than ever to realize that expertise is a reflection of your standing within […]

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