Headline, The Takeaway »

Your Complaints About Globalization Are Old News

By | June 8, 2017

Syrian migrants were being rebuffed by their richer neighbors. Walls were being raised to keep out barbarian hordes. Old empires, having closed themselves off to trade, were in decline. Revolutionary religions and philosophies were being exported overseas, stirring up violent conflicts but also forging connections among far-flung peoples.
These were all challenges of the ancient world—times and places far removed from the 21st-century United States. But …

Headline, Nexus »

How Hospital Rooms Went from Airy Temples to “Inhuman” Machines

By | June 7, 2017

In the March 1942 issue of the journal Modern Hospital, Charles F. Neergaard, a prominent New York City hospital design consultant, published a layout for a hospital inpatient department that was so innovative he copyrighted it. The plan held two nursing units—groups of patient rooms overseen by a single nursing staff—in a single building wing. For each unit, a corridor provided access to a row …

Headline, Nexus »

At “Constitution Cafés,” We, the People, Are Trying to Form a More Perfect Union

By | June 6, 2017

Are Americans finally ready to un-rig their Constitutional system?
I’ve spent nearly the past decade traveling the United States and talking with people about the Constitutional system, and I think the answer is yes.
My work on the question started in 2008, with an experiment called the Constitution Café. These were an evolution of the Socrates Café, public gatherings around the globe (from Tokyo to Sydney to …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

What California Festivals Need–More Garlic, Less Gaga

By | June 5, 2017

You heard it here first: The next bubble to burst in California, perhaps even before Silicon Valley and real estate, just might be the festival bubble.
The festival economy is growing so fast that it runs the risk of overheating. Even after expanding from one weekend to two in 2012, and increasing capacity this past year from 99,000 to 125,000, the Coachella Arts and …

Headline, Nexus »

Our Real “Existential Crisis” Is Bigger Than Trump’s Presidency

By | June 2, 2017

Apparently, these are existential times. During the weeks leading up to last year’s presidential election, The New York Times columnist Charles Blow announced that then-candidate Donald Trump was “America’s existential threat.” A Time magazine opiner, doubling down, declared that Trump was an “existential threat” not just to America, but the rest of the world, too.
More modestly, other voices worried that Trump was an “existential …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

For the Female Phone Operators of World War I, a Woman’s Place Was on the Front Lines

By | June 1, 2017

In 1917, U.S. Secretary of War Newton Baker disliked the idea of female workers on Army bases so intensely that he didn’t even want to build toilets for them. They might tarry. Females did not belong in the Army, Baker thought, though the more forward-thinking U.S. Navy already had welcomed women into its ranks to replace men in landlubber assignments.
Many adventurous and patriotic young women …

Headline, Nexus »

How William the Conqueror Became England’s Peacemaker

By | May 31, 2017

Since the publication of my William the Conqueror in the Yale University Press English Monarchs series in October 2016, I have often been asked how long it took me to write the book. In response, I usually say that it has taken 50 years and three years.
Both numbers are inaccurate, but they contain two essential truths. It was around 50 years ago, as a …

Headline, Readings »

Quench Your Curiosity With Zócalo’s Top 10 Summer Nonfiction Book List

By | May 30, 2017

Summertime was invented for catching up on great books, whether lolling on a Gulf Coast beach on July 4, sheltering under a tent in the Adirondacks, or slouched in a lawn chair at Griffith Park. Every year at Zócalo Public Square we ask some of our favorite recent event guests and contributors to hand-pick their favorite nonfiction titles. This year’s selections range from books on …

Headline, Nexus »

Why Wiping out Monuments to the Confederacy May Not Be a Path to a More Inclusive Society

By | May 26, 2017

To better understand the historical and contemporary context of last week’s drama in New Orleans over de-Confederatizing the city’s public landscape, it might be helpful to shift our gaze from the banks of the Mississippi to the banks of the Tigris.
It may seem strange to compare Confederate statuary erected in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century South to the self-aggrandizing monuments built by former Iraqi …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

When Pac-Man Started a National “Media Panic”

By | May 25, 2017

In the early 1980s, spurred by the incredible popularity of Atari, Space Invaders and Pac-Man, everyone seemed to be talking about video games, if not obsessively playing them. A 1982 cover of Time magazine screamed “GRONK! FLASH! ZAP! Video Games are Blitzing the World!” If you turned on the radio that year you’d likely hear “Pac-Man Fever,” a Top 40 hit by Buckner & Garcia. …

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