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Since the seminal book by sociologist E. Digby Baltzel, Puritan Boston & Quaker Philadelphia, in 1996, articles by a range of thought leaders appear episodically to remind us that Philadelphia is a city still on the edge of greatness. But a deeper understanding of Philly shows that the city is a paradox for becoming a great city and there are advantages to being on the edge.

For total population, while not as big as the Apple, LA, and Chi-Town, the City of Brotherly Love has been battling three newcomers in the Southwest and holding its own as one of the most populated cities in the US. While not the paragon of hospitality, Philadelphia gets high marks by tourist magazines for being inviting to several subgroups such as the LGBTQ community and young African American professionals. Funny thing though, as locals we may not be the best guides to the most popular sites to see; seeing the liberty bell and other sites in Old City quickly become a faint memory from grade school. We are more likely to take you to the Whispering Wall (Memorial Hall Park), to find the statue of Chief Tedyuscung in the Wissahickon, or visit the Devil’s pocket and Swampoodle blocks of Philly. More… “A City on the Edge”

Stephen F. Gambescia, professor of health services administration at Drexel, has perfect attendance at school reunions.

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The Shape of Things to Come is the name of the H.G. Wells science fiction novel of 1933 which inspired Alexander Korda’s 1936 movie, Things to Come. Is there a shape of things to come? Does history have a shape as a whole?

For some ancient Greeks and Romans, history was a downhill slide. In Works and Days, the Greek poet Hesiod identified five ages, each worse than the one before, from the age of the Gold to the present age of Iron. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid presents a version of this scheme.

Nowadays some optimists think that history slants in the opposite direction. Some techno-utopians argue that technological progress is following an exponential curve, a J that is bending upward toward the vertical. At some point in the next generation or two the “singularity” will occur — a sort of secular apocalypse in which advanced technology transforms humanity and the world beyond recognition.
More… “The Shape of Things to Come”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.

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