I wrote this story for USA Today in 1997. At the time, there was a concern about a “bird flu” that had killed six people in Hong Kong. The news brought back memories of talking to my grandfather, Victor Baldwin, about the 1918 flu, which had killed his mother and nearly killed him. I was a columnist at USA Today, and so I pieced together notes from those conversations and went to the town where he lived as a boy to research the larger story.

It seemed appropriate to re-publish the story today. Though in retrospect, it seems so innocent.


Chris Dixon, blockchain’s most vocal VC, on dismantling the “Disneyland internet”

Credit: gmast3r/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Chris Dixon, arguably the most prominent venture capitalist focusing on blockchain, is friggin’ tall. Prior to sitting down with him inside the spa-like Silicon Valley offices of Andreessen Horowitz in August, I had talked to him a handful of times over the years, but always on the phone, so I didn’t exactly know about his height.

As far as either of us can remember, Dixon and I initially talked in the mid-2000s, when he was running his first company, SiteAdvisor — a web security startup that was bought by McAfee in 2006. Next, Dixon cofounded Hunch, a wisdom-of-the-crowds recommendation site…


Working session with Christopher Lochhead, Al Ramadan and Dave Peterson. (I’m taking the pic.)

We think we’ve invented a new way to write a business book.

I once read a story about how U2 writes songs: four guys squeeze into a small studio to jam and provoke each other until something magical comes out, and all four get the songwriting credit.

That’s close to how my three co-authors and I wrote our book, Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets. In fact, our introduction to the book begins: “Most books are by a soloist. The one you’re holding is by a band.” Our band approach to business book writing has…


Staff Sgt. Robert Lott, 101st Airborne Division

“Dear Bob,” began a letter I wrote to Bob Lott on his 80th birthday in 2004. “I hope you’ll take this the right way, but as much as anybody I know, you’re the one who has taught me the most about growing old — or at least about growing old the way I would want to grow old.”

Long before I was born, Bob saved a group of soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II by improvising with a broken bazooka. As the space age unfolded, he designed experiments that went into unmanned NASA spacecraft that…


About four years ago, I set out for Boston for an unusual date with its mayor, the legendary Thomas Menino. I was trying to find out how Menino’s brain worked.

Menino died on October 30, and none of the many obituaries and tributes really told you about his brain, which must have been remarkable considering he won five terms in office — one of the most successful city politicians in history — yet often seemed to many people like an amiable dunderhead.

My day with Menino was part of my research for a book, The Two-Second Advantage, about how computer…


I had never before run from gunshots. To be clear, I had never even been in the vicinity of gunshots, unless you count the shooting range in the basement of Tiro A Siegno, an old Italian club in Greenwich Village, where a group of us not long ago ate a huge meal, drank more wine than was necessary, and then stumbled down the stairs to an area where these crazy proprietors gave us guns so we could fire at paper targets and hopefully hit them.

But on a pleasant night in New York’s Harlem, just a few blocks from where…


My mother handed me a yellowed sheet of paper, a resume typed in 1959. The first item, “Personal Details,” listed my father’s name. It said that he was 22 years old, and said he was exactly the height and weight I’ve been most of my life.

Why he put his height and weight on his resume, I don’t know. I can’t ask him. Eleven years after he wrote that resume, at the age of 33, he died from complications from a brain aneurysm.

I was 10 when he died. I knew my father as a kid, and I know him…

Kevin Maney

Writer of columns, books, songs, tweets, blogs, texts and a novel that never left my desk drawer.

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