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The Trump Administration Wants Uranium Mining in Utah—but What About the Dinosaur Fossils?

By | September 22, 2017

The United States has an extensive system of amazing parks. From the Shenandoah National Park, close to where I grew up, to Sequoia National Park, where I am a trustee for Lost Soldier’s Cave, our national parks connect Americans to our remarkable landscapes and wilderness areas.
I have annual passes to both the U.S. and the California Parks and Recreational Areas. So when someone asks …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

The 1938 Hurricane That Revived New England’s Fall Colors

By | September 21, 2017

This morning, while driving in central Vermont, listening to the latest news about hurricanes in Florida and Texas, I caught up with my first leaf peeper of the season. Poking along at about 20 mph in his rental car, the tourist was peering at our hills of orange and crimson and gold leaves while simultaneously looking for a place to pull over to snap a …

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Risk-Taking Is Profitable—but Perilous in Our Interdependent World

By | September 20, 2017

Risks are inherent in life and so, over the centuries, people have devised many mechanisms to pool and reduce risks.
These institutions range from families to religious tithing to formal insurance contracts and diversification strategies for market investing. But, whether formal or informal, social or financial, all serve to ensure that those of us who are unfortunate enough to face adversity at any one time …

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Manuel H. Rodriguez—L.A.’s Chronicler

By | September 19, 2017

Manuel H. Rodriguez earned a B.A and an M.A. from UCLA as well as a J.D. from Loyola Law School. He taught in L.A. schools for 41 years, 35 of them at Los Angeles Valley College. He is the father of three sons, including Zócalo’s publisher and editor-in-chief.

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How Recipe Cards and Cookbooks Fed a Mobile, Modernizing America

By | September 18, 2017

The first edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book—now known as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook—reads like a road map for 20th-century American cuisine. Published in 1896, it was filled with recipes for such familiar 19th-century dishes as potted pigeons, creamed vegetables, and mock turtle soup. But it added a forward-looking bent to older kitchen wisdom, casting ingredients such as cheese, chocolate, and ground beef—all bit …

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From Paradise Lost to Harry Potter, Fanfiction Writers Reimagine the Classics

By | September 15, 2017

As Game of Thrones looks to its eighth season, the show—strictly speaking—is no longer filming the books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Of course, it is still using the characters, world, and settings that Martin established (though its sometimes-drastic departures from the source material have been the cause of controversy before). But as the show has passed the timeline covered …

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Chuck Taylor—the Shoe Salesman Whose Name Became Synonymous With Basketball

By | September 14, 2017

When Chuck Taylor, who was born in rural southern Indiana in 1901, left home at age 17 to play professional basketball, he was following an unlikely dream. The game of basketball—invented by James Naismith, a YMCA physical fitness instructor in Massachusetts in 1891—was still a minor sport in America. Few competitive leagues existed, and those that did were regional. Most organized teams were subsidized by …

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What the Gender Reveal Fad Says About Modern Pregnancy

By | September 13, 2017

My youngest daughter often asks me to tell her about the day when, pregnant with her, I was riding to work on the subway and wondering whether she would be a boy or a girl. Just at that moment, I looked up and saw a deliveryman holding a bouquet of pink balloons and a sign that said, “It’s A Girl.”
Now, both my daughter and …

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When You Live Online, Will Anyone Know When You Die?

By | September 12, 2017

I suspected that something was wrong on the Sunday morning when I saw the beginning of a Facebook post in my newsfeed sidebar that said, in French, “Our dear AJ has given up …” I was unable to read the rest because it was removed as I looked at it, but I was concerned that it might actually mean that AJ was hurt or in …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

When the Idea of Home Was Key to American Identity

By | September 11, 2017

Like viewers using an old-fashioned stereoscope, historians look at the past from two slightly different angles—then and now. The past is its own country, different from today. But we can only see that past world from our own present. And, as in a stereoscope, the two views merge.
I have been living in America’s second Gilded Age—our current era that began in the 1980s and took …