Sunday, December 21, 2014

One of My Wild Neighbors, "General" Solomon Lowe

General Solomon Lowe (1782-1861)
Every so often on one of my morning runs I feel energetic enough to pass by the Harmony Cemetery in our little town of Boxford.  I've known for many years that there's a certain General Solomon Lowe (1782-1861) buried there, and that he had either three wives (and a mistress, one story goes) or four wives--each of whom presumably he loved with all of his heart in life--but whom he used as kind of decorative ornamentation around his grave in death.

Today, looking for a reason not to finish my Christmas shopping, I finally stopped by to check out the General.  It turns out, back in 1901, a travel reporter for The New York Times had a similar idea.

I leave the story, 113 years old if a day, to him.

At a place known as Boxford, about ten miles from Andover, Mass. far, far from the madding crowd, there is as curious a burying ground as can be found in all New England.  As a matter of fact, Boxford is just a section of country, beautiful country at that, but there is no village or gathering of habitations which could be dignified with the name of town.  The quiet farmspeople go their peaceful ways utterly oblivious to the odd humor to be found in their old burying ground.

I might point out that there's a little city-slickerism going on here, and throughout the article.  Boxford is still today no booming metropolis, but the town had a "center" in 1645 (the same year Manhattan was just being deeded to the Dutch), a railroad stop in 1854, and by 1901 both an East and West Boxford Village.  It also had in 1901 a rather substantial match factory.  It's fair to say, however, that if Route 95 hadn't altered the town's quaint ambiance in the late 1950s we might still have only 600 residents, about the number the Times reporter found in 1901.  

He continued:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Age of Big Entrepreneurship 2: Not All Innovations Are Created Equal

Some time ago I concluded that to understand entrepreneurs and innovation, I was finally going to have to read Joseph Schumpeter.  

Reading about Schumpeter in Thomas McCraw’s Prophet of Innovation[1]  and Richard Swedberg’s 1988 essay[2] was great fun: Here was a brilliant yet flawed thinker, foisting theories on his peers that economist Paul Samuelson said “began to smack of Pythagorean moonshine.”[3]  

Schumpeter championed mathematical economics despite himself not being very good at math; he blithely characterized the inner psyche of entrepreneurs before he’d actually met many; he was a frustrated competitor of John Maynard Keynes, whose basic theories Schumpeter may not have grasped; and he was a man nearly forgotten in the great stagflation of the 1970s.

Today, of course, Joseph Schumpeter is resurrected as the patron saint of entrepreneurs.  One German economist wondered by 1984 if we had entered the “Age of Schumpeter.”[4]