Nexus »

You Never Get One Isolated Great Thinker at a Time

By | February 21, 2017

Randall Collins’ curiosity about where ideas come from led him to do 25 years of research on the networks that connected thinkers and ideas through history and across continents. Collins, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, presented these networks and the implications of his study in a 1998 book called The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. We …

Up For Discussion »

TV and Film Have a Role to Play in Repairing a Fractured America–History Shows We’re “All in the Family”

By | February 20, 2017

In American memory, if not always in reality, television and film once played a unifying role. During the Great Depression, decadent Hollywood productions delivered welcome diversion. At the dawn of rock n’ roll, Elvis and The Beatles landed in living rooms across America via The Ed Sullivan Show. During the upheavals of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Walter Cronkite functioned as a reassuring and trustworthy pater …

Poetry »

though I have promises to keep #poem

By | February 17, 2017

          “When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park
           we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied
          that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little
          colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were
          more and yet …

What It Means to Be American »

Medicare Partially Cured American Healthcare, But Also Left Some Scars

By | February 17, 2017

Before Congress passed Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 millions of elderly Americans lacked health insurance. They could not afford to go to the hospital, nor could they cover the cost of a physician. Medical breakthroughs ranging from antibiotics to new surgical procedures kept increasing the cost of health care, but the elderly were left out in the cold, and were unable to buy the insurance …

The Takeaway »

If the Central Valley Wants to Grow up, It Needs to Bridge Its Urban-Rural Character With Unity and Planning

By | February 16, 2017

“Are we urban or are we rural?” moderator Dan Morain asked at the start of a lively Wednesday panel discussion on the future of California’s Central Valley.
“Both” was the answer that emerged over the course of the hour-long exchange among Morain, editorial page editor and political affairs columnist for The Sacramento Bee, and a panel of civic, education, and community leaders before a packed audience …

Connecting California »

California Must Discredit Trump Before Trump Discredits California

By | February 16, 2017

California is already on the defensive in its battle with Donald Trump. Our state needs an offense—now.
Trump’s first four weeks in office have made clear that hopes of California working with this president—in areas like infrastructure—are pure fantasy. Trump is already engaged in non-stop attacks against our state, as if all of California were a political opponent. His strategy is not merely to punish California; …

Nexus »

Why the Trump Administration’s Bad Math Can’t Close the U.S. Tr­­­ade Deficit

By | February 15, 2017

Every American knows that if you want to spend more than you earn, you either must liquidate some of your assets or you must borrow. This is as true of governments and corporations as people. And if you have been doing a lot of borrowing, stopping will result in much less consumption. Teenagers without finance PhDs learn this when their parents take away the credit …

Nexus »

La La Land‘s “Burst-Into-Song” Style Echoes the Intimacy of Early Black, Mexican, and Jewish Productions of Yore

By | February 14, 2017

“Without a nickel to my name/ Hopped a bus/ Here I came …” So sings a young woman at the start of La La Land, the original musical film by Damien Chazelle and this year’s leading Oscar contender. The number begins with a pan across mostly solitary individuals sitting in a traffic jam on an L.A. freeway. As we move past open car windows, we …

What It Means to Be American »

The Cuban Missile Crisis Haunts My Dreams, But as a Child I Regarded My Fighter Pilot Dad as a Nuclear Bomb-Smashing Superman

By | February 13, 2017

On a Tuesday morning in mid-October 1962, my father received a phone call ordering him to fly from where we lived, Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base outside Kansas City, Missouri, to Grand Island, Nebraska. He had to leave immediately. He couldn’t tell my mother why, but he did tell her that the president would speak later that night on television, and that she should listen.
My mother …

Poetry »

She’s made of both the lyrics and the chords #poem

By | February 10, 2017

We drove to Tucson in the cuspy light
of a morning moon—
caraway seed, eyelash,
lemon zest over mountains we knew
were there but couldn’t see.
My daughter sang
all through both hours of the drive.
She played her favorite songs
and belted out the belty ones,
and as we neared the city,
the sun showed us which pocket
of the sky it had been tucked
inside: it said, Light starts here,
the deep southeast, the idea
of Mexico. …