Headline, What It Means to Be American »

The Slave Gardener Who Turned the Pecan Into a Cash Crop

By | December 14, 2017

Pecan trees, armored with scaly, gray bark and waving their green leaves in the breeze, grow in neat, uniform rows upon the Southern U.S. landscape and yield more than 300 million pounds of thumb-sized, plump, brown nuts every year. Native to the United States, they’ve become our most successful home-grown tree nut crop. Hazelnuts originated here too, but they come from a shrub, which can …

Featured, In the Green Room »

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block Talks Rhythm, Jet Lag, and Curing Depression

By | December 13, 2017

Gene Block has served as UCLA chancellor since Aug. 1, 2007. He previously was vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, where he was also the Alumni Council Thomas Jefferson Professor of Biology. Chancellor Block is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and holds a joint faculty appointment in integrative biology and …

Essay, Headline »

Will Squid Soon Rule the Oceans?

By | December 13, 2017

The future is full of tentacles.
Even now, both giant and colossal squid writhe throughout the deep, while hooked and flying squid migrate from sea to sea in swirling swarms. Otherworldly glass squid and jewel squid proliferate in the open ocean. And market and common squid blanket shorelines with their egg capsules and their own dying bodies.
Then, of course, there are the octopuses: giant and pygmy, …

Essay, Featured »

Why Americans Insist on Putting a Price Tag on Life

By | December 12, 2017

Everything, as they say in America, has its price. It has been found that a lack of sleep costs the American economy $411 billion a year and stress another $300 billion. Countless other studies have calculated the annual cost of pain ($560 million), heart disease ($309 billion), cancer ($243 billion), and diabetes ($188 billion). Surf the web at work sometimes? That costs the American people …

Headline, The Takeaway »

Depression Isn’t Just a Global Epidemic. It’s a Silent One.

By | December 12, 2017

Depression is still the illness that dares not speak its name. Taboos persist. Social stigmas endure. Many confounding mysteries remain about exactly what causes depression and how best to treat it—even though it affects tens of millions of people worldwide, and even as the number of suicides globally has soared to 1 million.
Those painful realities formed the backdrop to a Zócalo/UCLA event titled “How Can …

Connecting California, Featured »

To Be Blunt, California’s Marijuana Industry Is Stoking High Anxiety

By | December 11, 2017

California’s 2018 transition to legal marijuana contains a mind-bending paradox: Ending prohibitions on marijuana is going to require an awful lot of aggressive law enforcement.
When January 1 rolls around, California will not merely be permitting adults 21 and older to buy marijuana for recreational purposes. The state and its cities also will be scrambling to create a new and wickedly complicated regime to regulate and …

Featured, Poetry »

Christmas letters written,/ then destroyed #poem

By | December 8, 2017

Underneath this day, another
The way morning – shang –
sits on top of afternoon
What is past is
what we see –
Speculation as to how long this war will last.
Con Cater says 3 months. Ethel Taylor says 12 months.
I say three years.
The pages fill. Each day a blank.
Then, my stomach –
moldy flour,
wanting news from home, and
a body is what we bring,
what we …

Essay, Headline »

When Alaskan and Russian Native People Thawed the Cold War’s ‘Ice Curtain’

By | December 8, 2017

As the Russian city of Provideniya’s deteriorating concrete buildings came into view below, Darlene Pungowiyi Orr felt uneasy. So did the other 81 passengers landing in that isolated far-eastern Soviet outpost in 1988.
They were aboard the first American commercial jet to land there since the United States and USSR had imposed a Cold War “Ice Curtain” across the Bering Sea some 40 years earlier. Orr, …

The Takeaway »

Barack Obama Had an ‘Iron Will’ to Succeed—but What Was at His Core?

By | December 7, 2017

Historian David J. Garrow acknowledges that he’s “cynical” about Barack Obama, a conclusion that he reached while conducting 1,000 interviews and spending nine years researching the formation and political rise of America’s 44th president.
Garrow shared some of his reasons for what he called his “huge disappointment” with the Obama presidency at a Zócalo/KCRW “Critical Thinking with Warren Olney” event, “How Did Barack Obama Create Himself?”.
Hosted …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

Why We French Canadians Are Neither French nor Canadian

By | December 7, 2017

Whenever my family visits Québec, people other than our relatives are surprised to hear Americans—even our grandchildren, ages five and six—speak fluent French. They’re amazed to learn that French is our mother tongue and that we also speak English without a French accent. Likewise, if we leave our native New Hampshire to travel elsewhere in the United States, we get blank stares upon mentioning that …