The Mind of Howard Gardner

From his Harvard bio, one of my personal heroes. Few academics have captured my imagination, and affected my thinking, as consistently or as deeply as Howard Gardner.

Harvard Professor Howard Gardner has written more than a dozen books with the word “mind” in the title. Few researchers have spend so much of their professional careers thinking about how our minds work, whether our minds might be better trained, and whether our minds can be put to better use. He’s a brilliant thinker, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his evolving work over these past few decades.

Earlier this year, with co-author Emma Laskin, Gardner republished Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership with a new introduction, and that led me to the slimmer 5 Minds for the Future, a slim book that captures his evolving philosophy in a succinct, deeply meaningful way.

From the start, Gardner’s 5 Minds for the Future is more contemporary, acknowledging the tangentially  overlapping work of Daniel Pink, Stephen Colbert (“truthyness“)  and the enormous changes brought about by globalization. Gardner is famous for his theories about multiple intelligences (“M.I.” these days), but M.I. is not what this book is about. Instead, Gardner presents his case as a progression from basic to higher-level thinking, and his hope that we will climb the evolutionary ladder as a collective enterprise.

He begins by revisiting one of his favorite themes, the disciplined mind (which provided both title and subject matter for his 1999 book). Here, the goal is mastery, which requires a minimum of a decade’s intense participation, a thorough examination of all relevant ideas and approaches, deep study to understand both the facts and the underlying fundamentals, and interdisciplinary connections. This is serious work, and it must be accomplished despite the sometimes crazy ways that schools think about learning, and the equally crazy ways that the workplace may value or advance those with growing expertise. The disciplined mind does not simply accept what has been written or taught. Instead, the disciplined mind challenges assumptions, and digs deep so that it may apply intelligence when conventional thinking does not produce valuable results. No surprise that Gardner is deeply critical of those who invest less than a decade in any serious endeavor, or those who fake it in other ways.

Next up the ladder is the synthesizing mind which accomplishes its work by organizing, classifying, expanding its base of knowledge by borrowing from related (and unrelated) fields. Placing ideas into categories is an important step up the ladder because the process requires both (a) a full understanding of  specific disciplines and how they relate to one another, and (b) the means to convey these ideas to others. And so, Gardner views the Bible (a collection of moral stories), Charles Darwin’s theories, Picasso’s Guernica, and Michael Porter’s writings about strategy as related endeavors. At first, this seems to be a stretch. Then again, each of these are bold combinations of ideas based upon a complete understanding of a domain–(a) above–conveyed in a way that connects people to the synthesized ideas (b).

You may know Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as the author of the excellent book FLOW, but his best work may be a book simply entitled CREATIVITY.

Then, there’s the creating mind. At this stage, the progression begins to make a lot of sense. Novel approaches are not based upon random ideas that may or may not work. Instead, the creating mind grows from deep study of a specific domain in a disciplined manner, followed by various attempts to organize that knowledge in ways that propel an argument forward. At a certain point, the argument has been advanced, and the opportunity for new thinking presents itself. Many creative professionals are required to advance new ideas without the requisite discipline, and so, our society generates lots of ephemeral stuff. In the creative space, Gardner’s thinking has been affected by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who believes:

creativity only occurs when–and only when–an individual or group product is recognized by the relevant field as innovative, and, sooner or later, exerts a genuine, detectible influence on subsequent work in that domain.”

I would argue that the respectful mind ought to precede the disciplined mind as the ladder’s first rung, and Gardner provides ample evidence to support my argument. For one thing, the respectful mind is the only one of Gardner’s five minds that can be nurtured beginning at birth. What’s more, the ability to “understand and work effectively with peers, teachers and staff” would seem to be a prerequisite for any disciplined approach to learning and personal development. The whole chapter is nicely encapsulated by a sentence from renowned preschool teacher Vivian Paley:

You can’t say ‘you can’t play.'”

A decade ago, Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon wrote a book called Good Work, and this effort has expanded into The Good Work Project. Central to this effort is the ethical mind, which carries a meaning well beyond the ethical treatment of others. Here, we begin to touch upon the idea of professional or societal calling, and one’s role within a profession or domain. It begins with doing the best work possible–that is, the work of the highest quality, as well as work of redeeming social value–but it’s not just the work itself, it’s the way that you apply yourself to the job at hand. Here, Gardner covers the diligent newcomer, the mid-life worker who continues to pursue excellence every day, the older mentor or trustee whose role is to encourage others to build beyond what has already been accomplished.

In less than 200 pages, Gardner accomplishes a great deal. If time permits you to read only two Gardner books, I would start with Frames of Mind, which explains his theory about multiple intelligences, then jump to 5 Minds for the Future. After these two, you’ll probably want more. His book about leadership, mentioned above and discussed below, is certainly worthwhile. And Good Work will fill your head with wonderful ideas and inspiration for all you could do to help make the world a better place.

BTW: If you want to watch Gardner discuss 5 Minds for the Future, you’ll find his 45-minute video here.

As for Leading Minds, it’s an extraordinary book, a collection of analytical biographies written as parts of a whole, a cognitive view of leaders and leadership. He examines leaders by taking part their fundamental identity story: who they are, how their domain and influence grew, how and why they succeeded, how and why they were unable to accomplish their ultimate goals. This is not a book whose core ideas can be reduced to a few bullet points. Instead, it’s a few hundred pages of reflection on the nature of leadership shown through the examples of Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Alfred P. Sloan, Eleanor Roosevelt, and a half dozen other 20th century figures. The significance of some names is fading; it was disappointing to find that this revised edition of a 1995 work did not include anyone who made his or her mark in the 21st century.


Outta Here! – A Friendly How-to Guide

With good cell phone service and a robust Internet connection, we’d like to think we can live, and work, pretty much anywhere. True enough, if the term is days, weeks or months, but what about years? What about (gasp!) forever?

Why leave? You’ll find lots of good reasons (good stories, too) in the newly revised second edition of Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America by Mark Ehrman:

The US had become unbearable after 9/11…We purchased 1.25 acres of land about 20 minutes south of Oaxaca…There is nothing like living, immersing oneself entirely, in another country, culture, language, etc.” — Cara Smiley, 40

I have been leaving the US all my life–starting with study abroad and then the Peace Corps…” — Kerry Kittel, age 49

Life here in Copenhagen is just so much more livable than any place I’ve experienced in the US. I take a train and boat to work. I ride my bicycle to buy groceries…” — Bill Agee, 50

You might think of this as the ultimate traveler’s book (no tourists allowed). Pages of (fascinating) personal stories are followed by advice about visas, second passports, and citizenship. There are many ways to gain citizenship, or at least, residency… marry in, play your ethnic race card, buy your way in, teach English, etc.

Fantasizing about where you might go…and stay? If you’re looking for the world’s highest rate of Internet penetration, try Greenland, Iceland, Norway, or Finland. Best infrastructure? Switzerland, Hong King, Singapore, France, Iceland, or Sweden. Fastest Internet? South Korea. Safest? Germany, or Canada. Growing job market? China, India, Taiwan. Best place to start a new business? New Zealand, Australia or Canada.

Need a more in-depth analysis? That’s the second half of the book. Sixty-one countries, each considered in terms of governance, Internet, healthcare, working there, taxes, women’s issues, life expectancy, moving there, and more.

If i was among the 300,000 who left home, where would I like to go? In fact, I would love to spend a month, maybe several, in every one of those sixty countries–but I suppose that answer evades the question. If I had to choose today, my starter list would probably include:

  • Bahamas
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Where would you go? And stay?


And, from the same publisher, the real dirt on living in the country. The book is called (of course!) Get Your Pitchfork On!

Pastrami…on the road

(Hey! Don’t start here!! Start with the first part of this article.

When we last met, we discussed the excellence of the pastrami sandwich available at Manhattan’s Second Avenue Deli and Katz’s. If you’ve let a week go by without one of their sandwiches, there’s still time to correct the error of your ways.

Once a familiar sign throughout the five boroughs (okay, maybe not Staten Island), the kosher delicatessen is becoming an endangered species. (Those three Hebrew letters, read from right to left, spell the word Kosher, but some also feature non-Kosher foods on the menu.)

With David Sax as our guide (see his book, Save the Deli), we first travel to the Bronx for “hush puppies”–little hot dogs wrapped in potato–at Liebman’s, which carries a full New York deli menu, and continues a generation-old tradition. It’s a neighborhood place, worth the easy trip from Manhattan. Then, not so far from Yankee Stadium, there’s Loeser’s, a comfy old fashioned place that David describes in his blog. In Queens, the queen is Ben’s (with restaurants on Long Island and Manhattan), but neighborhood places like Buddy’s remain.

Knishes from Knish Nosh in Queens (and now, in Manhattan, too!). They don’t get much better than this.

While in Queens, there is one place where you must eat. It’s called Knish Nosh (for the uninitiated: a Knish [KUH-nish] is a large baked dumpling, and Nosh is casual eating, nibbling–the noun form would be a nosh, and the verb form, noshing). Few may disagree, but this is probably the place to buy the best knishes in New York City (maybe even the world). Potato or kasha would be the purist’s choice, but mushroom, mushroom/carrot, sweet potato, and spinach would also score on a top knishes list. And–who knew?–there are now Knish Nosh outposts near Central Park and 106 Street, near CitiField (where the NY Mets play) around Flushing Meadow Park, and in Florida, too.

In Brooklyn, where there may have been as many kosher delis as churches, choices are few, but the few choices are good ones. There’s Adelman’s, a throwback to the era when Brooklyn might have been the center of the world, and here’s a rundown on the others–with pix of tasty sandwiches.

A good home-cured corned beef sandwich served in Newark, NJ at the long-running Hobby’s.

Across the Hudson, Hobby’s Deli is all that remains of a once-grand tradition in downtown Newark. It’s favored by the city’s power elite, quite the place to meet friends and business associates while enjoying a corned beef or pastrami sandwich. In northern New Jersey, it’s Eppes Essen in Livingston, and others celebrating the old style, often with a more generalized deli menu alongside the kosher favorites. Outside of NYC and its suburbs, demand is lower, so options are few. Philadelphia has Famous 4th Street, and Baltimore, Attman’s, where you can enjoy a terrific sandwich and then wander by the Inner Harbor or Fell’s Point, both nearby.

Old-style delis are famous for pastrami and corned beef, chicken soup and kneidlach (matzo balls), but there’s nothing quite like a kosher hot dog. In fact, there’s a wonderful category of Jewish sausages–frankfurters, “specials” (fat hot dogs), Kosher bologna, Kosher salami (soft or, for connoisseurs, the garlicky hard version). Here’s Nate N’ Al’s take on the simple dog.

For old-style New York City deli, however, you’ll need to follow the Jews to southern California. Nate n’ Al’s is the Beverly Hills institution–the place where Larry King and half of the entertainment industry seem to gather on a regular basis. The sandwiches are worth the trip (for years, my NYC-LA routine required lunch at Nate n’ Al’s immediately after landing at LAX). Here, the sandwiches are special, but it’s the chicken soup that reminds everyone of their bubba (translation from the Yiddish = grandma). Sax calls it “some of the finest chicken soup known to man–a wide bowl of silky broth dominated by a single, almost meaty matzo ball.” He also recommends the kishke (KISH-kuh) at Brent’s–a once-standard, now hard-to-find slice of Jewish sausage made by stuffing a cow’s intestine with matzo meal and schmalz (chicken fat); remember, all of this is based upon peasant food! (In fact, kishke is delicious, but only when freshly prepared; the frozen alternative is just awful.) One LA old-school favorite is found downtown, near the La Brea Tar Pits (no, it’s not that old): Langer’s. Here, it’s all about the perfect pastrami sandwich. Again, Sax:

How do you describe the taste of a perfect pastrami sandwich?…The specific flavor profile–at once peppery, smelling of the sea, and hinting of butterscotch–would sound contradictory and confusing. Any turn of phrase or illustrative metaphor–how the peppercorns and salt and sugars dazzled my taste buds like a Chinese New Year’s fireworks show going off in my mouth00would never measure up to the real thing. It is simply legendary…”

So it’s off to Las Vegas, where the casino outposts of the Carnegie and Stage Delis smell as sweet but taste nowhere near as good as the NY originals, and then, down the road to nearby Henderson, where New Jersey’s Michael Weiss takes the craft seriously, and “pickled his own corned beef and tongues, cured and smoked his own pastrami, and baked his own bread and pastry,” according to Sax. The result is deli magic. Deli done right. Worth a trip just to rediscover the roots of this fading cuisine. Houston is home to “a traditionalist succeeding jun a modern market”, Kenny and Ziggy’s, where “the giant noodle kugel [pudding] had the consistency of a soufflé.” Watch them on Food Network.

Outside the U.S., three delis belong on every foodie’s bucket list.

The first is Schwartz’s in Montreal, where the smoked meat sandwich more or less combines all that is sacred about corned beef and pastrami. Here, the spectacular sandwich begins as “raw brisket from Alberta” which is then “rubbed with a mixture of coarse salt, cracked peppercorns, and Schwartz’s special spice mix, which involves much less sugar than a New York style pastrami, with more pepper and fewer aromatic spices. Briskets are then cured in plastic barrels for a…week…ready to enter the smokehouse…stained with burnt fat and old spices…[where they] smoke for five to seven hours…” (While in Montreal, be sure to sample the uniquely sweet, smallish, delicious bagels from St. Viateur.

The second must-visit is to B&K Salt Beef Bar, home to “stupendous” chopped liver (made from ox, not chicken, as is the US tradition), followed by a sandwich of either hand-cut tongue or salted beef, cured for a remarkable two-and-a-half weeks. Both are made with good Scotch beef, and that makes all the difference.

The third diverges from the peasant food history. It’s located in Antwerp’s diamond district. Hoffy’s treats delicatessen as fine food, with small portion sizes (take that, Carnegie Deli!). Start with the pickles, which are always difficult to get right. In New York delis, the brine must contain the right balance of salt, dill, garlic, and other herbs and spices–otherwise, they just don’t taste like sour pickles or, with a different recipe, half-sours. Here at Hoffy’s, the focus is on the garlic, and the flavor soars. Meats are lean (never the case in a New York deli), extremely tender (similar to NY deli), and according to Sax, the best is the veal–a meat not often associated with NY deli–“creamy pink and tasted almost sweet.” Portions are small, and elegant: bite-sized portions of stuffed cabbage, gefilte fish, chopped liver, and apple kugel.

There are so many Jewish specialities, so many variations, such unique flavors and delicacies, each wrapped in years of tradition. Blintzes and lox, the bialy and the plateful of rugeluch; the mushroom barley soup and latkes. But the tradition is fading. The people who opened the delis came from an Eastern Europe that no longer exists. There will be no more Jews with the old traditions emigrating from Poland or Lithuania or the Ukraine. They’re gone. There are fewer Jewish neighborhoods to support the delis–the people who used to live, in great (but poor) communities, in Brooklyn or lower Manhattan now live with everybody else. The small delis can no longer support themselves–except in areas where the tradition lives strong, as it does, largely due to the Jewish show business community, in Los Angeles. And yet, this is a cuisine worth nurturing, worth embracing. How? I guess that’s why Sax calls his book Save the Deli! Without a concerted effort, the few remaining delis will be gone, and with them, a great cuisine may vanish, or, perhaps worse, may be reduced to Nathan’s hot dogs, Einstein’s bagels, and the occasional frozen knish.

Long may it wave! A corned beef sandwich from Attman’s in Baltimore, founded 1915. Will they survive the next 100 years?

The Google of Its Day

No, it’s not easy to detect the precise moment when the trouble began, when the world began to change, when everything that worked for a century suddenly stopped working. There are theories, and books written, and somehow, the old ways seem distant, and inconceivable in their naiveté. And there are new ideas, new companies, new ways of thinking and connecting that don’t much resemble the old. But one thing is clear: everything else may change, but in my world, in your job, in our town, everything is going to be just fine if we just cut some costs, say the magic words “social networking” three times daily, and reinforce one another’s thinking about the value of maintaining the status quo.

I keep thinking about Kodak. George Eastman was 24 years old when he (and other hobbyists) figured they could build an industry by making photography easier. From 1878 until 1883, he opened a factory, and by 1888, he was selling shares. He struggles to find a market in the US, finds one in Europe, brings it all back home, and by 1900, Kodak is the hot start-up company. It sells cameras for $1 and rolls of film for 15 cents. By 1907, Kodak employs 5,000 people (about the number it employs today). By 1914, Kodak builds a skyscraper. By 1924, George Eastman gives half of his $75 million (in today’s dollars, $2 billion) fortune to charitable causes–including $12 million in start-up funds for what becomes MIT. In 1932, at age 77, Eastman kills himself (the suicide note read: “Why wait?”). Still, Kodak kept on growing: in 1935, Kodak introduced Kodachrome color slide film, in and jumping ahead to 1962, Kodak sales exceeded $1 billion, and the company was heavily invested in future technologies, a strategy employed well into the 2000s, when the company was an early leader in digital photography at all levels, from medical imaging to consumer cameras.

Kodak was the Google of its day. — The Economist (see history or official Kodak history)

Today, Kodak is almost non-existent. Nearly gone. After closing its factories, leaving the camera business and nowadays, selling off its patents, a century’s success is fading like the (Polaroid) snapshot in Back to the Future 2.

Why did Kodak fail? Some theories:

Kodak did not fail because it missed the digital age. It actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. However, instead of marketing the new technology, the company held back for fear of hurting its lucrative film business, even after digital products were reshaping the market. — Forbes.

And then there are companies like Kodak — which saw the future and simply couldn’t figure out what to do. Kodak’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on January 19 culminates the company’s 30-year slide from innovation giant to aging behemoth crippled by its own legacy. — Knowledge@Wharton

The company might have been able to innovate more quickly on the digital front if it had set up a separate lab in Silicon Valley, then allowed it to grow independently and tap into the area’s tech culture and expertise.” — Knowledge@Wharton

And what should Kodak have done?

— Enter the cell phone business? It tried this a bit. Didn’t work.

— Recognize that it was really in the memory business and diversify into storage? Nice try.

— Increase its R&D? Kodak did that, spending most of the money on improving film technology.

— Diversify into healthcare? It did that too. Didn’t work.

— Spin off its chemical business? It did that, generating some cash. But small potatoes.

— Integrate backwards into semiconductors? Way out of its competency.

In the end, Kodak (now on the brink of bankruptcy) was a well run company that failed. It was an early technology company, and it never lost its technology roots. It then became a marketing behemoth and a superb consumer company. It then morphed into a financially run enterprise and it did that well–until it failed. — Information Week

And what does this mean for the rest of us?

That’s a question I want to explore in future blog articles. Clearly, the digital revolution in motion, gaining considerable momentum as the spookiness of the bubble fades from memory. I would imagine that schools and education will be the next frontier, the next “it can’t happen here” that will be utterly transformed, but there are significant political and economic class issues driving the status quo. I wonder whether the top ranks of the Fortune 500 will continue to be dominated by companies associated with cars and fuel in thirty years (remember: thirty years ago, Kodak was still hot stuff). We’re been seeing tremendous technology-driven changes in health care, and now, with new rules and an increasingly stable economy, and the dreadful statistics about health care needs of aging baby boomers, the opportunities in this area seem rich, particularly in the digital space (tele-medicine,  patient education, digital tracking of patience care, etc.)

Infographic: US Education Spending vs. Results

Doing some research, I came upon this colorful infographic that compares educational investment and results in a dozen different countries. No big surprises, but it’s easy to follow. It’s clear that Mexico spends a very small amount per student and achieves only modest results, and it makes sense to see France in the middle of per-capita spending and also in the middle of the results. Clearly, the US and the UK are out of whack–spending is high, but their results are middling. Why the mismatch? And why is the US’s purple circle so much larger than any other circle? Population accounts for only part of the reason why.

U.S. Education versus the World via Master of Arts in Teaching at USC
Via: MAT@USC | Master’s of Arts in Teaching

A Nice Pastrami Sandwich…

It started in Poland. And Romania and Russia. And, of course, Germany. Two million Jews, long separated, settled in the US, many  in a small parcel of Manhattan known as the Lower East Side. They lived in tenements, they bought food from pushcarts. and in time, those pushcarts became markets and small sit-down restaurants.

A century later, not much remains. Except Katz’s, of course. The corner of Houston and Ludlow Streets has seen its share of changes–from a Jewish community to a dangerous place popular with drug addicts and ne’er-do-wells, to its modern incarnation as home to various dot.coms, NYU students, and those with enough money to live in the neighborhood. It’s the oldest deli in the country, and among the survivors. (Not a bad starting place: learn some Yiddish from Katz’s.)

Pastrami on rye from Katz’s on NYC’s lower east side. To the left, a half-sour pickle, and to the right, a sour pickle.

Like good barbecue (which uses similar cuts of beef, including the brisket and the navel), the proper preparation of pastrami requires a great deal of loving care. It’s dry-rubbed, then allowed to cure for as long as two weeks, then smoked for about five hours. It’s a costly process that involves a few dozen steps, some at the meat processor, more at the store. Most stores cut corners and buy meat injected with flavor. The best stores have their own processes, including the best way to cut the meat (always hand-cut, never by machine!) A good sandwich contains about a half pound of the succulent, slightly fatty, slightly salty, slight smoky red meat; a ridiculous sandwich, served, mostly, to tourists who now frequent Manhattan’s The Stage and the Carnegie Deli (both located between Times Square and Carnegie Hall), weighs a pound. (These are very smart, if very full, tourists. The pastrami at both the Stage and the Carnegie smells, and tastes, fabulous. But there is lot of it!)

Sadly, I’ve just named half of Manhattan’s Jewish delicatessens. In times past, New York’s kosher delis (not always completely kosher; times change), there were dozens. Now, there are a handful. All good. Some better than the best. Katz’s is in the better category, a definite must-do for visitors to Manhattan. Arguably, the reopened 2nd Avenue Deli is better still. There’s Artie’s on the upper west side. Sarge’s is a good neighborhood place (once, I sat next to Abbie Hoffman). On Manhattan’s upper east side, Pastrami Queen is another good choice. (Update: I recently tried Pastrami King in Merrick, on Long Island; it’s the newer version of the Queens, New York Pastrami King, and, to be honest, rather under-spiced, lightweight and devoid of interesting flavor—but the dining room was a white tablecloth design and sadly the deli sandwiches occupied a relatively small portion of the Pastrami King menu;; I’d give it a meh.)

Sliced pastrami from the reopened 2nd Avenue Deli in Manhattan. One of the world’s best, it rose from the ashes in 2007, and remains very popular in its new location on east 33rd street, a mile or two from the original lower east side site.

So what’s so special? Start with a good pastrami sandwich. The flavor is powerful, sweet and peppery, salty and smoky, a blend that smells wonderful and tastes even better–when the meat is prepared the right way, it’s over-the-top, or as Food Network’s Guy Fieri would say, “a one way trip to flavor town!” Pastrami can be eaten on a roll, but it is so much finer with good crusty Jewish rye bread (must be fresh). Many people insist upon a dark brown mustard (Gulden’s), but I’m not a fan. I do, however, insist upon both half-sour and sour pickles on the side. A proper pickle will make a cracking sound when you bite in, and will explode with some juice. The appropriate beverage accompaniment would be a (vanilla) cream soda or a black cherry soda, made by a long-time Brooklyn brand: Dr. Brown’s. If you’re a purist, Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda is an even better choice (it’s made with celery seeds). Dr. Brown’s soda is still independently made, and you can (and should) buy it in New York City and Florida grocery stores (or online).

Again, the source is 2nd Avenue Deli. In a kosher deli, these come from, just for sitting down at the table. In most places, you’ll get a small stack of sliced rye bread and maybe some cole slaw, too. BTW: the egg-shaped light-colored pickle is pickled plum tomato, a sure sign of a deli that knows what it’s doing.

Okay, back to the deli menu. For some, the powerful punch of pastrami is too much, so the fall-back choice is corned beef. This is not Irish corned beef, but it is similar. It’s salty and a bit smoky, but not peppery. It’s milder. It’s delicious–but beware of corned beef sold in places that are not serious about their pastrami. The result will be salty, but ordinary, just a wad a salted meat. Of course, you can go for roast beef or turkey (often freshly cut), and these are just fine, but not so different from what you will find elsewhere. Sometimes, you’ll find rolled beef (sort of a cross between pastrami and roast beef), and often, you’ll find tongue. Yes, cow’s tongue, sliced as deli meet. The tongue is cured, like corned beef, and it tastes great, but then, you find yourself thinking that you are eating a slice of a cow’s tongue, and well, pastrami may be an easier choice.

A good pastrami sandwich can be quite filling, not something you should enjoy alone. Bring a friend. That way, you can rationalize a side dish. And there is no better side dish than a potato knish (KUH-nish). It’s a fist-sized potato dumpling, filled with mashed potato, onion and spices, then baked in a very, very thin pastry shell. Actually, even better (and even more filling, a meal in itself) is the kasha knish. Kasha is a buckwheat groat, enjoyed either as a knish or as part of another deli favorite, kasha varnishkis (same kasha, this time with pasta bow ties and, in the best delis, a thin brown gravy).

The popular side dish–easy to make at home, in fact–Kasha Varnishkes as served, perfectly, at 2nd Avenue Deli. Click on the pic for lots more images of menu items.

Hey, this blog article is already getting long, and we haven’t even left Manhattan. There’s good stuff to be eaten in the other four boroughs, and (many would say) even better stuff in Los Angeles (where the NY delis best customers moved), and wonderful surprises in a handful of other places in the US and abroad. The tour continues next week.

Meantime, if this article has made you hungry, two options. First, get yourself to Manhattan this week. (Katz’s is open late.) Second, dig into Save the Deli by David Sax. Nobody knows more, and I suspect, few people care more, than this traveling author.

Avoiding Long-Term Commitment: The New Job Market

I was surprised to learn that most college presidents last about six years before moving on. A friend, who consults in the space, explained, “in many institutions, it’s just an impossible job.” Browsing through my LinkedIn connections, my first connection (his last name begins with “A”) is Len, a PR guy. Len has occupied nine different jobs since 1986; his longest stint was 6 years, and in today’s marketplace, that seems to be both (a) rare and (b) a long time. The February, 2012 issue of Fast Company ran an article entitled “The Four-Year Career” and declared “career planning” to be “an oxymoron.” The article points out that the average U.S. worker’s median level of job longevity is just 4.4 years.

The job market can be enormously frustrating, but deep down, most people understand that the economy is shifting–and that companies require employees for a period of years, not decades. In five years, Facebook has increased its her base from 10 million to 800 million; the first million Palm Pilots sold out in 18 months, and the first million iPhone 4s units sold in 24 hours; eBooks accounted for 1% of consumer trade books sold in 2008, and now, the number is over 20%. As the pace of change accelerates, the need for the same employees in the same seats evaporates. And, to counterbalance, as the pace of change quickens, the reasons why an employee would want to remain in the same seat for, say, five years, become less compelling for individuals in pursuit of active, productive careers.

But wait! There are at least two more pieces to the puzzle.

Cheryl Edmonds, featured in the Fast Company article about Four-Year Careers. To read the article, click on Cheryl’s picture.

The first is career switching. Not job swapping, but wholesale shifts in careers. Returning to the Fast Company article, Here’s Cheryl Edmonds, age 61, who shifts from engineering (1977) to a retail art business (1988) to corporate marketing at HP (1995), then heads to China to teach English (2009) before landing a fellowship with Metropolitan Family Services in Portland, OR (2011) in hopes of finding a new career in the nonprofit sector. Whether the person is 30 or 60, we’re seeing lots of these stories–people navigating the career marketplace as they might choose their next dog (whose longevity is likely to be longer than any current job), or vacation.

The second missing puzzle piece is formal education. Old thinking: go to college, train for a career, get a job, go up the ladder. Now, not so much, certainly not for a large population of liberal arts majors, and nowadays, even law school graduates are encountering a much-changed market for their trained brains. How to provide a proper college education for the likes of Cheryl, above? Marketing major? Engineering major? Liberal arts major? Get a degree, work for a few years, get another? I know a young woman whose college debt exceeded $100K, paid off half of it by taking a corporate job in supply chain management (thrilling!), hated it, sold real estate for a minute-and-a-half, then ended up in nursing school where she picked up a new $50K in debt to add to the unpaid $50K from her first degree. So here’s a system that’s not working very well at all.

On the positive side, all of this tumult leads to a far higher degree of personal control over one’s life than ever before. It also leads to a way of thinking that is counterintuitive for many Americans–if you are going to enjoy this degree of control, you need to think differently about your financial expectations, and about the management of your money. Multiple jobs in a single industry–you can expect to earn more money with every step up the ladder. Multiple careers–you will experience lateral steps, and you may earn less money in the next job, perhaps for a while, perhaps for a long time. (Freedom is not free.) For the entrepreneurs and business wizards among us, the constant jumps present fabulous opportunities to build wealth. For those who do not want their lives to be dominated by work, for whom a 40 hour week is more than enough, the less-fluid government and nonprofit sectors may be better places to work, but even employers are beginning to think twice about the ways they have operated for so long.

FROM: Miss Claire Brown, 6/25/1951……RE: Color TV

History marked time for one memorable hour today, and within its span, the promise of the greatest of all the miracles of mass communication became a reality.

At 4:30 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, color television’s triumphal entry into the public domain was emblazoned officiallyacross the log of man’s progress. In the 60 minutes that followed, this newest ,miracle among the electronic marvels was born.

Premiere, the Columbia Broadcasting System’s widely heralded full hour of star-studded entertainment, featuring Arthur Godfrey, Ed Sullivan, Faye Emerson, Garry Moore, Sam Levenson, Patty Painter, Robert Alda and Isabel Bigley, the New York City Ballet, the Bil Baird Marionettes, and Archie Bleyer’s Orchestra, took its place in history as the first commercial color television broadcast to the public. Brief addresses by Wayne Coy, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, William S. Paley, Board Chairman of the Columbia Broadcasting System; and CBS President Frank Stanton signalized, in a dedicatory vein, the start of regular color television broadcast service to the public by the CBS-TV Network.

The history-making broadcast was carried in New York by WCBS-TV, as well as by CBS-TV Network stations in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the color signals going out over the stations’ regular transmitters and on their regular channels.

Originating in CBS-TV’s Studio 57, at 109th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, the color program was transmitted from Studio 57 by coaxial cable to CBS-TV’s Master Control in the Grand Central Building, New York, and carried from there by telephone cables to the WCBS-TV transmitter and by cable to the network. Thousands of the public, as wellas public and industry leaders and members of the press, saw the color inaugural in the five cities carrying Premiere. Many of the public who had completed home made conversions of their black-and-white sets also wereable to see the historic broadcast in color in their homes. Typical were the two junior high school youngsters in Newark who last week revealed they had been watching CBS color television transmissions for the past 18 months.

In New York, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and Bernard Baruch were among the dignitaries and newspapermen who watched the inaugural on color receivers installed at CBS headquarters. There were also several showings in New York by dealers who are making color television eqUipment which they soon will have ready for the public. Among these were Colortone Inc., which had more than 400 dealers watching the inaugural on sets installed in its downtown headquarters, and Muntz-TV, which showed its new companion-piece in action to the public at its Queens headquarters.

In Boston, the public watched the program on a receiver set up in the Jordan Marsh Department Store, first store in the country to order color television equipment florstore use; Boston public leaders the press viewed the broadcast on CBS-Columbia sets installed in the Hotel Somerset’s Grand Ballroom.

The Philadelphia public saw the color show on a set installed in the lobby of WCAU, CBS affiliate, with clients, public leaders are press watching the program on another color set in the WCAU Auditorium. Baltimoreans viewed the show on sets installed by WMAR-TV in the lobbies of the new Sun Building and the old Sun Building. In Washington, D. C., WTOP-TV had sets in the Warner Building and at its transmitter at 40th and Brandwyne. In addition top government officials viewed the color inaugural on a set in the Hotel Carleton.

The Premiere broadcast was a breathtaking spectacle. His famous red hair and freckles lent an added brilliance to the wit and charm ofArthur Godfrey as he sang and quipped; a  bronzed Ed Sullivan greeted a new audience in a. setting vibrant with full, natural color; Faye Emerson was hostess. On still another stage that brought to viewers all the richness of paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and ·the Museum of Modern Art; and members or the New York City Ballet “were ecstatically colorful in Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse,” staged by Sol Hurok with choreography especially for television by George Balanchine.

“Photo Credit: Ralph Morse / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images”
“Licensed by Getty Images to Ed Reitan” – (photographed off the screen)
George Balanchine Ballet from “Premiere”
The first commercial CBS Color Television System Colorcast
June 25, 1951

Garry Moore and Sam Levenson added a note of comedy mixed with philosophy, against a setting as vivid as their artistry; Robert Alda and Isabel Bigley of the smash Broadway musical Guys and Dolls sang a duet; the Bil Baird Marionettes cavorted in a riot of hues; and “Miss Color Television” herself, Patty Painter, a. veteran of more than 1,000 CBS color demonstrations and transmissions, brought to life the full, rich, rich colors of the commercial products introduced by the new medium’s pioneer advertisers.

Sixteen national advertisers participated in the epoch-making inaugural, constituting what is believed to be the largest such group ever to sponsor collectively a single network broadcast. The pioneering advertisers were General Mills, Lincoln-Mercury Division of the Ford Motor Company, Longines-Wittnauer Watch Company Inc., Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, William Wrigley Jr. Company, Revlon,Thomas J. Lipton Inc” National Biscuit Company, Toni Home Permanent, Monarch Finer Foods, Procter &Gamble Company, Standard Brands Inc., Quaker Oats Company, Best Foods Inc., Pepsi-Cola Company and Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.

Fred Rickey, executive producer for color at CBS, produced Premiere and shared directorial duties with Frances Buss, under the over-all supervision of Jerry Danzig, CBS color program supervisor. Set designers were Paul Sylbert and Michael Baronoff.

The launching of CBS’ regular color television broadcast service to the public was accomplished merely by the addition of the three color cameras, plus monitors and associated control room equipment, to black-and-white studio facilities already existing before the inaugural program in Studio 57, which was chosen for the color broadcast simply because it had suitable time availabilities.

So effortless was the inauguration or regular color television service that the necessary technical work and installations in the studio were made in a 12hour period, between 10:00 PM last Wednesday, and 10:00 AM, the following morning, when rehearsals for the first commercial color telecast started.

A cue, thrown this afternoon from the control room of CBS·TV’s Studio 57 to technical personnel on the studio flooritself, opened the color Premiere. A still life picture of an orchid and a book was transmitted to waiting thousands, and the curtain was raised on history’s first commercial color television broadcast.

Today’s inaugural broadcast, establishing regular color television service to the public by CBS-TV, will be followed by daily morning and afternoon network-programs, commercial and sustaining, beginning tomorrow. A pattern of gradual expansion will be carried out, with a color schedule of approximately 20 hours a week expected by fall.

First of the regularly scheduled color programs, which will have its premiere tomorrow (Tuesday, June 26), is titled The World Is Yours! and features Ivan T. Sanderson, noted naturalist. The five-times-weekly show (CBS.Color TV, 4:30-5::OO PM, EDT. Mon. thru Fri.), “starring the earth’s natural treasures,” will be sponsored in its initial telecast by General Mills. Frances Buss will direct the CBS production, in cooperation with Ivan Sanderson Productions Inc. The World Is Yours! will present the wonders of the animal, vegetable and mineral worlds as “a sort of intellectual vaudeville show, informal in manner and functioning without benefit of script, featuring Ivan Sanderson and his “friends, II who comprise a bewildering array of nature’s creatures, including distinguished representatives of the human species. A frequent Visitor and featured participant will be Patty Painter, “Miss Color Television.”

Second or the regularly scheduled color programs, Modern Homemakers,” will make its bow before the color television audience, as a five-a-week series, on Wed., June 22 (CBS-Color.TV, 10:30-11 AM, EDT Mon. thru Fri,).

A cookery and homemaking program conducted by culinary expert Edalene Stohr, Modern Homemakers will specialize in menu-planning, food preparation, and demonstrating the eye-appeal of well-prepared foods, with emphasis on other facets of homemaking as well.

Opening of regular color broadcasting acted as an additional spur to the public to order color equipment from television dealers. Manufacturers or color TV adapters and converters reported they are receiving thousands of calls for such equipment. Typical was Arnold H. Klein, Vice President of Colortone Inc., who said his company was turning its full facilities over to the production of adapters, and that he expected to have 3,000 units in the hands of distributors by the weekend. He said he had received calls for more than 5,000 sample units from leading department stores and distributors from all over the country.

More info. A complete rundown on color TV’s early history. And, a review.

I Want to Watch TV on My iPad (The Plot Thickens)

Last week, a U.S. district judge provided Aereo with a go-ahead on TV that we’ll be able to watch on our mobile devices, but that oversimplifies an interesting story. Here’s the original article, plus an update that, I am certain, will be rewritten once again as the legal dust-up continues. Some of the issues are significant, and will resonate beyond this particular venture. Worth reading.

Here’s the original story published on March 6, 2012:

You’re looking at an array of television antennas. These antennas are used to capture local broadcast signals that you can watch, if you pay a monthly subscription fee, on your computer, tablet, or phone. Aereo (formerly Bamboom) is the company behind the scheme, and, as you might expect, they’ll be spending a lot of time in the legal system as they argue with broadcasters regarding the rights and wrongs of live retransmission (that is, if Aereo is to survive, the broadcast networks want to see monthly cash–just like they receive from the cable operators).

Ah, the free airwaves, the ones that broadcasters use for the public good. Ah, the intellectual property that broadcasters carry over those airwaves, the IP that cable service providers pay to carry. Ah, the unresolved legal gotcha!! Any company that attempts to make those signals available via a secondary distribution scheme must pay for the right, or so say the broadcast networks.

The price for the service? $12 per month. The debut date? March 12. The place: for now, the New York metropolitan area.

For cord cutters, this may be a terrific deal. But it’s unclear whether the courts will block Aereo’s progress, as they have with and others who attempted to climb the walls of the castle without paying the required tribute (or, as I’m adding in my updated version of this article… others who attempted to challenge the current system of copyright and payments for distribution rights to intellectual property).

Slingbox? That’s okay. Over-the-air mobile TV? That’s not ready yet, except in a few markets on a test basis. Watch over-the-air TV? Sure. Watch via cable or satellite? As long as you’re paying for the privilege. Watch on another device? Nope, not yet. Or, maybe the answer is yes. We’ll find out in a few weeks.


Here’s the update that I wrote on March 12, 2012:

From Bloomberg: Predicting a “great fight” with traditional media companies, billionaire Barry Diller said he plans to expand his new Aereo Web-based television service to 75 to 100 cities within a year, reports Bloomberg.

Diller, speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, noted that efforts by Walt Disney Co. and other media companies to cite copyright violations were “absolutely predictable,” since entrenched companies always protect their turf, the story says.

Want to know more? Here’s a bunch of links:

The tech explanation:

The consumer angle:

The business story:

The investment story:


Here’s the update as of July 17, 2012

Again from Bloomberg (July 13, 2012): “A U.S. district judge this week allowed Aereo to continue operating while television networks pursue a copyright lawsuit against the company. Aereo captures broadcast signals with small antennas and streams them to devices such as Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad, without paying for the programming.” As a result of the ruling, Diller is now planning a nationwide rollout.

As I pondered what all of this might mean, I read an essay on TV NewsCheck’s website, written by television executive Lee Spieckerman. I contacted him, and we spoke for a while about the ruling and its implications. In short, he believes that Judge Nathan bungled the decision:

“We see loopy rulings from Federal judges all the time, and I think this fits into that category… She misread the governing law!”

Spieckerman’s argument is based in part upon law and in part upon common industry practice. His legal argument tracks back to a 1993 law which requires operators of paid television systems to secure the necessary rights from local broadcasters. The concept is called “retransmission consent” and that ruling has proven to be something of a windfall for local broadcasters as a result of the fees paid by cable operators in exchange for this consent. According to  Spieckerman, these fees are now worth about $2 billion to the commercial broadcast network, plus an additional several billion dollars to local stations. This, plus the additional revenues from political advertising resulting from the Citizens United decision, provide the advertising base necessary for local television news to survive. (Seems to me, we should all understand the economics and consequences of this new approach to journalism funding–a worthwhile topic for a future article). Back to his other argument: “there is no tradition in this country for renting antennas–nobody rents antennas!”

Digging deeper with Mr. Spieckerman, and the real argument emerges. This is all about copyright infringement, and protection of distribution rights associated with intellectual property. Judge Nathan’s ruling begins to disrupt a system by which cable operators compensate owners of cable networks and local stations. ESPN receives $4.69 per cable subscriber–do the math and that’s about $50 per year per subscriber multiplied by 100 million subscribers, and that’s $5 billion per year in subscription fees. Spieckerman believes local broadcast station fees to be 20-50 cents, but acknowledges that these deals are confidential. (Consider that Comcast, Time Warner, and other cable operators charge consumers charge those 100 million subscribers over $1,000 per year–1o0 million x $100 = $100,0o0,000,000, or $100 billion, also good raw material for another Digital Insider article.)

Of course, the local station operators are anxious to negotiate with Diller’s Aereo. And Diller is anxious to go with the Judge’s ruling because it requires no fees. For now, according to Bloomberg,

We’re going to really start marketing… Within a year and a half, certainly by ’13, we’ll be in most major markets.”

To which Mr. Spieckerman counters:

Who is going to be next? This is a pandora’s box, and when you start circumventing and tearing down the few elements there are in the industry and inviting the destruction of an important industry. If I have any intellectual property that I want to distribute, I do not want anybody able to steal my material.”

Brooke’s Illustrated Guide to Media Theory

On the Media host Brooke Gladstone, in cartoon form, illustrated by Josh Neufeld for The Influencing Machine, “a media manifesto.”

Brooke Gladstone is a brave woman. In the interest of explaining why media matters, she loses her head, plays the fool, embeds an Intel chip in her skull, becomes the robotic vitruvian woman, takes on the whole American political system (from its start in the 1700s), allows herself to be drawn in a hundred goofy ways by cartoonist Josh Neufeld, and…while on the high-wire, without a net…attempts to tell the truth about media and its influence on the ways that we think, believe, and act. In the early stages of this graphic non-novel’s development, it was “a media manifesto in comic book form.” Close enough. (If you’re interested, here’s how they did it.)

The Influencing Machine is now a paperback comic, the equivalent of a graphic novel, I guess, but it’s not easy reading. It’s a well-researched, deeply thoughtful examination of why media behaves as it does, how media interacts with law and government, and the interaction of history and philosophy. Pictures and the graphic novel style keep things light, and concise, but this is not a book to be read once, and it’s not a book to be read quickly. The starting point is news and public information, which may seem appropriate, but for most people, most media consumption is not news or information, it’s entertainment. And in that domain–which should include children’s programming, scripted comedy, scripted drama, and the variety shows that keep the masses satisfied (and have for centuries)–media’s influence is powerful, but rarely mentioned here.

She begins with a Victorian era story about machines that control people’s minds–or the fears that such a thing might someday exist.

Then, she explores the ideal of a perfect balance between effective governance and free flow of truthful information…only to find that such a balance is always outweighed by the government’s need for control.

Quoting German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860):

Journalists are like dogs–whenever anything moves, they begin to bark.”

Most profound–and most evident in today’s journalism–is “The Great Refusal.” Simply stated, by Gladstone, “Few reporters proclaim their own convictions. Fewer still act on them to serve what they believe to be the greater good.” With pressure from government to suppress potentially important information (for example, think: embedded journalists and the trade-offs they must make), and lacking the necessary resources to provide information based upon research and time to consider the story so that it can be presented in context, most journalists simply parrot press releases or official statements. Along the way, they must steer clear of various biases, and play within what most people perceived as reasonable boundaries. This behavior gets everybody into trouble because the whole point of journalism should be uncovering stories that ask the difficult questions…but the system is not set up to encourage, fund, or accept that kind of journalism. Instead, posits Gladstone, we live within a comfortable doughnut. What’s more, any journalist who strays finds himself or herself either (a) famous, at least for a while, or (b) difficult to employ. The risk of the latter is very real, and so, the status quo rules.

And so it goes, as Gladstone attempts (and is drawn to be) a bird of a feather, flocking together in homophily while watching global warming destroy habitat–she calls the phenomenon of groupthink “incestuous amplification” and illustrates it with references to global warming and weapons of mass destruction. She considers reasons to be okay and reasons to panic. She wonders about dumbing down and frets about the half  of Americans who never read literature. She briefly touches on intellectual property laws, and G.K. Chesterton’s statement about journalism:

Journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones is dead’ to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”

And she wraps up with notions of globalism, and the ways that news is now a 24/7 global enterprise whose stories may affect us all.

There are few answers here, and the questions, well, they’re often difficult to shape and impossible to answer. At least she’s asking the questions, and placing herself in the middle of a digital storm. Thank you, Brooke, for steering clear of the obvious text presentation (mea culpa here, I’ll admit, as I write another few hundred words of text). The visual presentation, and the illustrations by Josh Neufeld, bring important ideas to life. And if there’s any interest in continuing the adventure to explore the many unexamined territories in the media landscape, count me among your first readers.

We need to talk about all of this stuff because the forces that demand silence are both powerful and ubiquitous. Even if it’s complex, even though it’s difficult to form into digestible bites, even if most people wonder why we’re obsessed with the way that media works, ought to work, and, sometimes, doesn’t work at all.

Below, some sample pages:

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