• Nexus

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

    From Freeway Speeding to Financial Instruments, Big Gambles Can Spin into Disaster

    By Bhagwan Chowdhry

    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 …

  • Who We Were

    When I Got Sent to Anchorage Instead of Pyongyang

    During a Bloody War in Korea, Army Life in Alaska Postal Unit 50 Was Pretty Good

    By Manuel H. Rodriguez

    On October 3, 1951, after learning that I would be spared deployment to Korea and getting a customary 14-day leave from the U.S. Army, I reported to Union Station in Los Angeles, dressed in my Class A uniform, shoes and …

New at Zócalo

Who We Were

The Shoe Salesman Whose Name Became Synonymous with Basketball

Chuck Taylor, Though a Mediocre Player, Knew How to Hustle and Perform

By Abe Aamidor

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 large manufacturing concerns, such as General Electric or the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co., or by fraternal organizations such as the Knights of Columbus. Professional contracts hardly existed; players were paid $5 or $10 a game. You couldn’t make a living at that.
    Like struggling musicians or actors, basketball players needed a day job. But Taylor’s day job—selling the ...

Connecting California

Small and Speedy, Gonzales Is a City on the Move

With a Growing Economy, Good Schools, and a Low Crime Rate, It's Outpacing Bigger Salinas Valley Rivals

By Joe Mathews

Here’s a nasty bit of conventional wisdom: California’s small, rural places are supposedly desperate and doomed, with few economic prospects in an era when state policy favors the urban coastal mega-regions with high-paying jobs and reputations for world-class innovation.
    But if that’s true, how do you explain Gonzales?
    The small city of just 9,000 sits in the heart of the poor and agricultural Salinas Valley, a region known for its high poverty rate, a weak economy tied to agriculture, and a history of gangs.     Despite all that, it has a success story to tell.
    Start with Gonzales’s relatively low crime rate (a stark contrast with the higher-crime city of Salinas just 20 miles up the 101), and then look onward to its 95 percent high school graduation rate, new health care facilities and enviable ...

Connecting California/Joe Mathews

  • Let's Make a Deal to Keep Immigrant Families Together

    California Should Have the Right to Grant Legal Residency to the Undocumented

    To: Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Attorney General Jeff Sessions
    From: The Golden (and Still Sovereign!) State
    Re: An alternative to your mass deportation of Californians ...

  • In California, Pro Football Is for Losers

    As Big Cities Shed the NFL, Only Smaller, Poorer Cities Are Desperate Enough to Host Teams

    No one can know for sure whether any of California’s four National Football League teams—the 49ers, Raiders, Rams, and Chargers—will emerge as big winners in the new season.
        But we already know who the losers will be: California cities foolish enough to host NFL teams. ...

  • Connect the World? The Bay Area Can't Even Connect Its Trains

    A New Light Rail System Underscores the Frustrations of California's Richest Region

    The northern terminus of SMART, the new light rail system officially opening this weekend in the North Bay, is the Sonoma County Airport Station in Santa Rosa. But after my 8-year-old son and I disembarked from an Alaska Airlines flight, we ...

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