The Stories Doctors Tell

Physicians and Patients Stitch Together Narratives to Diagnose and Heal

The belly pain is so bad that Mrs. Alves, a woman in her 40s, is worming uncomfortably on the ER stretcher. “I need an answer,” she says. I promise her that pain medicine is on the way. What I can’t promise her—despite countless tests and specialists’ opinions already on record—is the definitive answer. The diagnosis, the root cause of her symptoms, proves elusive. But her distress is real. And when there’s distress, there’s a story.

To be an emergency physician for nearly 30 years is be humbled again and again by …

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California’s Beauty Doesn’t Love You Back | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

California’s Beauty Doesn’t Love You Back

The Stunning Hillside Homes, Epic Mountains, and Gnarly Waves That Draw Us Here Also Threaten Our Existence

Early in the film Chinatown, a Southern California coroner named Morty chuckles after examining the dead body of the city’s water department chief.

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An altar with framed photos of martyrs and heroes who opposed martial law under Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.’s and similar policies under Rodrigo Duterte. A black sign with golden yellow words "Remember Reflect RISE UP" leans against the table.

Using Memory to Fight Fascism in the Philippines

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The numbers—70,000 detained, 35,000 tortured, 3,200 killed—represent the victims of President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.’s era of martial law, from 1972 to 1986. They serve as a reminder of one …

How the 2003 Recall Created Today’s Republic of California

Governors on the Left and the Right Have Touted the State as the Global Capital of Freedom. Can the Reality Match the Rhetoric?

Twenty years ago, editors at the Los Angeles Times sent me to Sacramento to interview an anti-tax activist named Ted Costa, who had filed a petition that would lead to …

Can Kevin McCarthy Outlast an Ancient Roman Emperor?

Didius Julianus’ 66-Day Reign Shows What Happens When a Compromised Ruler Runs Out of Things to Give His Allies

On January 7, cameras recorded a beaming Kevin McCarthy as he ascended the rostrum of the House of Representatives and raised the speaker’s gavel. If one knew nothing about the …

What We Lose When We ‘Cancel’ Russian | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What We Lose When We ‘Cancel’ Russian

After the Ukraine Invasion, Enrollment in the Language Hit Historic Lows. But Turning Away Isolates the Entire Post-Soviet World

Feeling decisive one morning during my sophomore year of college, I picked my major: Russian. I had been studying the language and was excited for the opportunity to read literature, …