Most verbs in English work like this, adding an “s” in the case of the third-person singular:

  • I sing. You sing. He sings.
  • I walk. You walk. She walks.

A few verbs in English work like this, keeping the same form for all present tense forms:

  • I can. You can. He can.
  • I will. You will. She will.

But there is one special verb that is highly irregular:

  • I am. You are. He is.

What’s going on here? In particular, let’s focus here on this question: Where does “am come from?

It turns out that “am” is the last vestige…


Once upon a time in the middle of Eurasia, there was a tribe whose word for “above” or “beyond” was *uper. This tribe had developed some advantages (possibly related to farming or to horses) that helped it spread to neighboring plains and mountains. As this tribe expanded in multiple directions, it split off into distinct groups that very slowly started to change how they spoke...

One group went south, and the word *uper came to be pronounced as “huper.” …


In the depths of the suffering of the Great Depression, Langston Hughes wrote a poem about the failure of America for many of its citizens, lamenting the fate of “the millions who have nothing for our pay — except the dream that’s almost dead today.”

This poem has been alluringly set to music and choreography by the cast of Hamilton:

Today, as millions lose their jobs and racial injustice continues, the gap between the dream of America and the reality of America feels insurmountable. Yet the poem also speaks hopefully about the promise of America, a place where “opportunity is real, and life is free, equality is in the air we breathe.” It is “a great strong land of love where never kings connive and tyrants scheme.”

This November, we must bend America towards its promise.

“And yet I swear this oath — America will be!”


Our office guidelines for keeping safe in response to COVID-19

As many companies around the world consider the prospect of coming back to the office, I wanted to share our experience with operating an office during this crisis.

Because our main office is located in Taiwan, we have been on high alert about coronavirus since late January. …


Our office guidelines for keeping safe in these times

As many companies around the world consider the prospect of coming back to the office, I wanted to share our experience with operating an office during this crisis.

Because our main office is located in Taiwan, we have been on high alert about coronavirus since late January. While Taiwan has not had a lockdown (thanks to swift action on face masks, screening, contact tracing, quarantines, etc), the concern has been ever present, and we have needed to discuss and implement safety measures that help us to operate our office more safely.

Work From Office


How SARS informed Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus

For the past three consecutive days, Taiwan has reported zero new cases of the coronavirus! Notably, this has been accomplished without resorting to a national lockdown. Throughout the entire crisis, people have continued to go to work, attend school, eat at restaurants, and shop in stores. Without significant disruption to lives and livelihoods, the spread of the coronavirus has essentially been stopped (for now) in this country of 23 million.

The Grand Hotel in Taipei celebrates zero new cases.

Of the 429 total cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan so far, only 55 are considered to be local transmissions (usually family members or colleagues of people who have travelled abroad)…

John Fan

Cofounder and CEO of PicCollage

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