How Taiwan’s High Speed Trains Expose California’s Lack of Nerve

While the Golden State Made Excuses, the Poorer, Smaller Island Country Transformed Its National Transit System

When it comes to fast trains, a California consensus has hardened: High-speed rail is beyond our capabilities.

We may be the world’s high-tech capital, but we say that high-speed rail is just too technically challenging for us. We may have one of the planet’s richest economies, but nevertheless maintain that high-speed rail is too expensive. We are a giant, sprawling state of 40 million people, but believe we’re too small to construct even one high-speed rail line.

If we’re right about our own powerlessness to deliver high-speed rail, then how do …

Why California Should Mourn the Loss of Topgun | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why California Should Mourn the Loss of Topgun

The Navy's School for Elite Pilots, Once Based in San Diego, Taught Us to Deal With Technological Failure

Bring back Topgun!

By that, I do not mean Top Gun, the cliché-ridden, late-Cold War, Tom Cruise film about speed-crazy Naval fighter pilots that still defines San Diego in the public …

Why Small, Beleaguered Vallejo Is Huge in California Hip Hop | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Small, Beleaguered Vallejo Is Huge in California Hip Hop

A Bankrupt Neighborhood’s Gift of Gab Created Music Rooted in a ‘Sweet, Idiosyncratic, Hustler Culture’

Conventional wisdom is that California’s greatest art is produced by collisions between the different peoples and cultures in the centers of our biggest cities.

But if that’s true, how …

The Fabulous Fable of Fabiola’s Scholarship Fund | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Fabulous Fable of Fabiola’s Scholarship Fund

While Rich Californians Paid Bribes to Get Their Kids Into College, a Struggling Sophomore Shares Her Small Windfall

This spring—as federal prosecutors announced a major college admissions scandal that had ensnared wealthy movie stars and prominent Californians, who paid millions in bribes to get their kids into elite …

California Isn’t the Center of the World—and That’s a Good Thing | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

California Isn’t the Center of the World—and That’s a Good Thing

For Centuries, the State’s Distance From Traditional Seats of Power Has Forced It to Innovate

The Center of the World is in California. But California isn’t the center of the world.

This seeming paradox goes a long way towards explaining how California became so central to …