Hillbilly Elegy is one of the most fascinating books I've read in awhile. It gives a cultural context to this group of Americans. It is written by one of their own.
It's about the Scotch-Irish people who came to the Americas and dominated Appalachia's gritty coal mines until coal fell out of favor; the risks of coal dust finally proven not just for miners, but for everyone else as well.
The decline of mining drove the ambitious among them to the industrial cities of the north: Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, etc., where they populated the automobile and other factories then fueling the world economy.
J.D. Vance describes his people as "feuding" folk - citing his own ancestral connection to the legendary Hatfield-McCoy feud that apparently went on for generations. He asserts that this fighting nature is so ingrained in the culture that the only ones who escape it are those who marry outside it.
Women's History Month, like all the other months designated for special cultural observances, always provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the ideals that are most important to us.
In 2015 the United States Treasury announced that the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury Secretary, on the $10 bill would be replaced by the image of an American woman - starting in 2020. There were online votes in which interested parties were asked to select from among a list of top contenders. However, the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton" renewed appreciation for Mr. Hamilton, and it was decided to let the $10 bill alone. The woman's portrait would instead go on the $20 bill.
We have learned that the woman will be Harriet Tubman.
We affectionately call Harriet Tubman "Black Moses" because her bravery in various capacities - surprising for a woman - rescued hundreds of enslaved people. Many supporters are pleased about this because Tubman's image will replace that of America's 7th President, Andrew Jackson, who got rich as a slave owner and was instrumental in robbing various Native American tribes of their land.
I want to make a point about brand integrity and the inherent difficulties of doing business - and why you have to be aggressive about managing your brand online. I will do it by way of this little story:
The guy who sold me this Kirby Heritage II vacuum cleaner in 1988 struck gold that day! Full price, back then - what was it? $1300 in monthly payments, so probably twice that amount in the end. I was too young to know how to bargain. I'll wager that my sale alone sent that young salesman and his family to Hawaii.
But here's the thing: it's 30 years later, and I'm not mad about it.
I did second-guess myself for quite awhile, I remember. Every time I looked at the massive Kirby vacuum, I threatened it, muttering under my breath: 'You'd better last the rest of my freakin' life, buddy!'
But behind the sale, which the salesman had no way of knowing, was the fact that my parents still had the Kirby vacuum cleaner that I grew up with. (In fact, they have it to this day, in 2018.)