Headline, Nexus »

Why Scurvy Is Still a Snake in Mankind’s Nutritional Lost Paradise

By | March 21, 2017

At some time in the evolution of the human organism, the gene that had allowed the body to synthesize vitamin C mutated, and the liver enzyme responsible for the synthesis ceased to work. The change had no known negative effect in humans, except when diets were restricted and fresh food was not readily available, as in famines, sieges, sea voyages, and polar explorations.
Then …

Headline, Nexus »

Why Extreme Moderation Is the Vital Alternative to Political Polarization

By | March 20, 2017

Last month, the Bulgarian-French intellectual Tzvetan Todorov died. A scholar on the history of thought, his writings influenced fields as disparate as anthropology, literary criticism, and history. His death was, of course, tragic for family and friends: Stricken by Parkinson’s, he was gone more suddenly than any of us had anticipated. But it was also tragic for readers and citizens who had never met him. …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

The “Greatest Show on Earth” Enthralled Small-Town Crowds and Inspired Shopping Malls

By | March 17, 2017

When Barnum and Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” rolled into American towns in the 1880s, daily life abruptly stopped. Months before the show arrived, an advance team saturated the surrounding region with brilliantly colored lithographs of the extraordinary: elephants, bearded ladies, clowns, tigers, acrobats, and trick riders.
On “Circus Day” (as it was known), huge crowds gathered to observe the predawn arrival of “herds and …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

Welcome to the Affluent Central Coast, California’s Child Poverty Capital

By | March 16, 2017

Californians used to envy residents of our beautiful, wine-and-wealth-drenched Central Coast. Now we have reason to pity them.
And not just because Nicole Kidman has thrown her star power into producing a TV series based on the premise that Monterey’s women might be murderers.
The past year has brought one calamity after another. Last summer’s Soberanes Fire burned a vast swath around Big Sur for 83 days, …

Headline, The Takeaway »

Globalization Doesn’t Have to Be a Winner-Take-All Deal

By | March 16, 2017

California has benefitted greatly from globalization—from cheap T-shirts, to leaps in technology, to proximity to Asia, to its agricultural exports. Why, then, is it disparaged by political leaders—as dissimilar as President Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders—as a boon to very few, at the expense of most? This was the question at the heart of a lively Zócalo/UCLA event entitled “Does Globalization Only Serve Elites?” before …

Headline, Nexus »

No One Wants to Wear the “Fascist” Label, Even If It Fits

By | March 15, 2017

Western democracy may be facing its biggest challenge since 1945. It’s easy to find parallels between Donald Trump, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the French National Front, the Alternativ für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany–AfD), and many similar movements and the fascist and national socialist movements of the interwar years. Racism, extreme hostility to the left, and Trump’s hints that he might not have accepted a …

Headline, Nexus »

Why the Gilden Age Lives on in Manhattan’s Historic Dream Homes

By | March 14, 2017

Sixty-six floors above Midtown Manhattan, Donald J. Trump lives in a fantasy world copied from the French royalty of the 18th century. His residence, an enormous three-story penthouse that has been valued at more than $100 million, embodies his tastes and expresses his understanding of himself. With floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto parts of his real estate and licensing empire, the penthouse was apparently …

Headline, Nexus »

A Government That Pushes Paranoia and Falsehoods May Undermine Its Own Legitimacy

By | March 13, 2017

“Nothing is more surprising,” wrote David Hume in his 1758 First Principles of Government, than “the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.”
What explains this surprising easiness? Trust is at the heart of the answer. Hume believed that since the people always outnumber their leaders (and thus retain the power of “force”), the legitimacy of all government rests merely “on opinion.” …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

How Abolitionists Fought—and Lost—the Battle with America’s Sweet Tooth

By | March 10, 2017

Today, land developer and businessman William Cooper is best known for founding Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But back in the 1790s, Cooper was a judge and a congressman who used his power to market a different sort of pleasure—American-made maple syrup—as an ethical homegrown alternative to molasses made from cane sugar, which was at that time farmed by slaves. …

Connecting California, Headline »

The Olympic Movement Is Relentlessly Corrupt, so Why Should Southern California Host in 2024?

By | March 9, 2017

Los Angeles should drop its bid for the 2024 Olympics—before it gets chosen.
It’s true that Paris has long been the favorite to be awarded the games during an upcoming vote in September. The Paris bid has broad international support, the City of Light has come close to winning the games in recent bids, and sentiment is on its side. 2024 would be the 100th anniversary …