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How the South Recast Defeat as Victory with an Army of Stone Soldiers

By | September 28, 2017

Monuments to Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders have long been controversial, but monuments to nameless Confederate soldiers, those lone stone figures in public places, are far more common and have long served as an iconic symbol of the South. Understanding the origins of these stone soldiers who still loom over present-day towns and cities may help us better understand current controversies over them.
The …

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How Trump’s Staff Could Save Him from Himself

By | September 27, 2017

The stupefying deeds of the Trump White House are passing in such a blur these days that it is hard to parse the incompetence. From policies foreign and domestic that churn without solidifying, to presidential tweets that seem the products of insult comedians, to an obsession with fixing blame before even knowing results, this seems more a Three Stooges comedy than a functional administration.
One piece …

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The 1918 Flu Pandemic That Revolutionized Public Health

By | September 26, 2017

Nearly 100 years ago, in 1918, the world experienced the greatest tidal wave of death since the Black Death, possibly in the whole of human history. We call that tidal wave the Spanish flu, and many things changed in the wake of it. One of the most profound revolutions took place in the domain of public health.
The world was a very different place in the …

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How Bullwinkle Helped Us Laugh Off Nuclear Annihilation

By | September 25, 2017

“Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the …

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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 …

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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 …