We chatted with Sara Imari Walker, Corey Gray, and Sheree Renée Thomas ...
Why Do We Want to Find Aliens?
Humanity’s Fascination with ‘Little Green Men’ Dares Us to Imagine What’s Out There
The most memorable taxi ride of my life occurred when I stepped into a cab driven by a man named John, back in 2016. We fell into a conversation about our lines of work. He told me how much he enjoyed his job. As a taxi driver, he got to meet the wonderful menagerie of humankind and find out their life stories—and be paid to do it, no less. And I described my day as a working astrobiologist: how I try to use instruments to detect the signs of living things on other planets, either their fossil remains, or the parts of cells that are alive and well today.
At the mention of extraterrestrial life, John glanced at me in the rearview mirror, a glimmer in his eyes. “I wonder,” he mused. “Could there be alien taxi drivers out there?”
At first the notion struck me as bizarre, even slightly ridiculous. But then I realized that it was a sweeping and rather profound question ...
The 2023 Zócalo Book Prize Honors Explorations of Community
We’re Looking for the Best Nonfiction Books on Human Connection
Could a Tattoo Cure What Ails You?
Medicine Is an Art. Art, Too, Can Be Medicine
Tattoos and medicine may seem an unlikely pairing, but medical tattoos are nothing new. Religious tattoos of ancient Egyptians honored the gods and, possibly, directed divine healing to ailing body parts. Circa 150 CE, Galen, a Greek physician working in the Roman Empire, tattooed pigment onto patients’ corneas to reduce glare and improve their eyesight. In the past century, more and more people have tattooed their medical histories, such as blood type, hereditary conditions, and even medical requests such as “do not resuscitate,” on their wrists and chests. Modern doctors have also used tattoos in reconstructive and cosmetic procedures to disguise scars and restore the appearance of lost body parts, such as nipples for mastectomy patients.
Today, that history comes full circle—as researchers now try to determine if tattooing could be used as a medical tool, giving healthcare providers a better way to administer drugs ...
Can Fighting Money with Money Create Fairer Elections?
Less Than 1 Percent of the Population Donates to Local Races. In Oakland, Giving Voters ‘Democracy Dollars’ Might Even the Playing Field
In Petaluma, the Future of Democracy and the Fate of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest Are Intertwined
What Happened When a Sonoma City Convened Citizens to Figure Out What to Do With Its Fairgrounds
Will California Get SMART About Mass Transit?
A New Train Could Help Battle Climate Change, Serve Expanding Metro Areas, and Create a Northern California Mega-Region
Why Is Fantasy Stuck in the Middle Ages?
From the Latest Tolkien Adaptation to the New Thrones Series, a Genre Is Reckoning With Its Most Well-Known Setting
Hot Girl Summer Is a Utopian Notion
We’ll Never Reach Its Coconut-Scented Siren Call, But That Shouldn’t Stop Us From Trying
Are We Entering a New Age of Vaudeville?
This Ecosystem of Diverse, Constantly Changing Variety Acts Was Once America’s Most Popular Form of Entertainment. Now It’s Back—on TikTok
Can California Lead a Reproductive Justice Movement?
From Sister-Friends to 'Full-Spectrum' Doulas, the Golden State May Be a Model for Care
As the full weight of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade bears down on the nation, California is seeking to become a sanctuary state for reproductive rights. The governor has signed a new law protecting Californians from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care. And the …
Where I Go: The Specter of the Cinema Café
My Favorite Diner Became a Casualty—and a Warning—of Merced’s ‘City on the Rise’ Ethos
Where I Go: A Big, Slow-Moving Boat
Aboard a Container Ship, I Found the Courage to Navigate Toward a New Future
Where I Go: Your Doctor, My Car, Our Neighborhood
What Volunteering to Drive My Aging Neighbors Taught Me About Life and Community
Comedian and Pulitzer Prize Finalist Kristina Wong
No, You're Not Going to Cut up Your Kid’s Underpants!
Political Satirist Bassem Youssef
I’d Like to Tickle Shaquille O’Neal
Investigative Journalist and Author of High Conflict Amanda Ripley
Don’t Write People Off. Ever.