• No, Empathy Isn’t a Universal Value

    From Saudi Arabia to Peru, There’s No Clear Pattern to How Compassion Works

    By Sara Konrath

    Empathy varies a lot among people, psychological research has found. But it also varies widely among countries and cultures. When my colleagues and I set out to analyze the largest study on empathy ever done—104,365 people from 63 countries ...

  • Chicago Tribune Theater Critic Chris Jones

    Dollywood Is One of the Great Shared Conversations in America

    Chris Jones is the chief theater critic and a Sunday cultural columnist for the Chicago Tribune, where he has reviewed culture, the arts, politics, and entertainment for more than 16 years. His arts criticism also has been featured in the …

New at Zócalo

Connecting California

L.A.'s Revelatory Light Rail for Nerds

The Gold Line Has Become a Brain Train, Linking Educational Institutions From Pasadena to East L.A.

By Joe Mathews

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 leading cancer center, to the world’s greatest scientific university—to explode stereotypes about public transportation and Southern California itself.
    Yes, other parts of California may claim brainier trains: The Caltrain commuter rail runs the Silicon Valley from San ...

Who We Were

What Grandaddy Taught Me About Race in America

From Little Rock to L.A., Learning to See Colors Beyond Black and White

By Myah Genung

I lived most of my childhood convinced that my grandfather, Calvin Muldrow, was Superman. On summer evenings, I’d perch atop his knee as we sat on the creaky back porch of his red brick house in North Little Rock. He’d weave elaborate tall tales about his magical excursions gliding over the jungle canopies of Sierra Leone, or wrestling boa constrictors, or floating aloft past my bedroom window at night to check up on me.
    Grandaddy had a way of blending the fact and fiction of his past into a magic realism that left me curious and amazed. Among many things, he taught me that Superman’s ...

Connecting California/Joe Mathews

  • The Next Great California Bridge Should Span the High Desert

    Infrastructure Linking Palmdale and Victorville Could Boost L.A.—and All of North America

    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 ...

  • California, Let's Celebrate July 4 by Declaring Independence

    With the U.S. Mired in Midlife Crisis, It's Time to Put the Golden State First

    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 ...

  • Why San Diego and The Donald Are on a Collision Course

    United by Patriotic Spirit, Divided by Trump, the Border City Could Become a Battleground

    If you wish to inspect the front lines 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 ...

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