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Is California an Incubator for New Ideas, or an Insular Bubble?

By | July 24, 2017

California, do you want to be an incubator for great ideas—or a bubble that shuts out the world?
That’s the question Californians need to ask, as we simultaneously confront three big challenges: building a more sustainable economy and future; reckoning with our crisis-level shortages in housing and infrastructure; and protecting ourselves from a deranged Trump administration.
The bubble-or-incubator question is also the best way to understand …

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L.A.’s Revelatory Light Rail for Nerds

By | July 17, 2017

My train line is smarter than your train line.
I’m a regular rider of “The Brain Train,” officially known as the Gold Line on the L.A. Metro system’s. The Gold Line is light rail running from the eastern San Gabriel Valley into downtown L.A. and then back out again to East L.A. Along the way, it connects enough smart institutions—from innovative community colleges, to a …

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The Next Great California Bridge Should Span the High Desert

By | July 10, 2017

What’s the fastest way to change California?
Assuming you don’t have the power to set off a major earthquake, your best bet would be to connect the two small desert cities of Palmdale and Victorville.
These two working-class places aren’t often associated with political power; but building world-class infrastructure to bridge the 50 miles between the two cities might be the most powerful current idea in …

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California, Let’s Celebrate July 4 by Declaring Independence

By | July 3, 2017

Dear America,
I suppose I should wish you happy birthday. But I’m just not feeling it.
You and I, the United States and California, used to be pretty darn close—“indivisible” was your word and “inseparable” was mine. Sure, we had our differences—I’ve always been a little out there—but the differences were what made us a successful partnership.
America wouldn’t be America without California, and California was proudly …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

The Arts Can Do for California What Politics and Big Business Can’t

By | June 23, 2017

Can the arts save California?
On every public policy challenge other than climate change regulations, the state seems stuck. We can’t transform our underfunded and underperforming education system to meet the needs of our diverse people, expand our universities to prepare for future economic requirements, or build nearly enough affordable housing. Silicon Valley, which still bills itself as savior of California and the world, has revealed …

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Why San Diego and The Donald Are On a Collision Course

By | June 19, 2017

If you wish to inspect the frontlines of the conflict between Donald Trump and California, head for San Diego.
Yes, it’s true that the Golden State’s fight against the president has so far taken place in the courts and in cyberspace. And, sure, challenging The Donald’s legitimacy is not a mere local pastime but an all-consuming statewide prizefight. But as a matter of geography, culture and …

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Is A/B Product Testing Turning Us into Silicon Valley’s Lab Rats?

By | June 12, 2017

Test me all night, baby.
No, really. Sign me up to be the subject of A/B testing. I’d even be willing to sign a blanket consent form, right now, so that all of Silicon Valley’s biggest brains can test me for the purpose of improving the human future.
Everybody’s doing it. In fact, you’ve likely been A/B tested without your knowledge if you’ve ever used …

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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 …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

L.A.’s New State Historic Park Is Both a Miracle and a Missed Opportunity

By | May 30, 2017

Riddle: When is a miracle also bound to be a disappointment?
Answer: When the miracle is a project of the state of California.
A case in point is the recent opening of the Los Angeles State Historic Park, an event that contains many miracles.
Miracle one: It’s a large (32 acres) park—with broad grassy fields large enough to fly a kite or hold a big concert, …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

California’s Real Budgetary Sin—We Spend Too Little, Not Too Much

By | May 22, 2017

We have reached the high holy days of California’s budget season, as our governor and legislative leaders decide which programs will gain new life, and which will be sacrificed. And so our state government’s ministers have begun their ritual sermons on the dangers of overspending.
They are preaching nonsense. California’s real problem is underspending.
Go ahead and dismiss my claim as blasphemy. After so many years of …