In Chaotic Times, California Offers Leadership

After a Century of Earthquakes, Fires, Booms, and Busts, We Are the Masters of Disaster

America, I see you flailing—and failing—to respond to this pandemic. Why don’t you just let California handle it?

No joke. In normal times, you’d be wise to avoid letting Californians run anything. While our artists and businesses are strong at creating culture and technology, our elected leaders typically struggle with everyday issues like managing budgets, schools, housing, and traffic. And in our daily lives, Californians famously flout the rules in favor of going our own way.

But in emergencies, we transform into very different people—calm, competent, and cooperative. You’ve seen it during …

Why Californians Secretly Love Earthquakes | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Californians Secretly Love Earthquakes

While Destructive, Tremblers Have Been a Force for Progress and They Give Our Lives Meaning

Of all the lies Californians tell ourselves, one of the biggest is that we hate earthquakes.

The unspoken truth is that we love earthquakes, as well we should.

Don’t give the beaches …

Mexico’s ’85 Earthquake Didn’t Start a Revolution

And Neither Will the 2017 Tremor—Unless Public Disillusionment Erupts

Can the shaking of earthquakes upend political power?

This question often has been answered by referencing Mexico. Political scientists often link Mexico City’s devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake on September 19, 1985, …

The Destruction in Nepal Is Sickening

As an American, Here’s What I’m Doing to Help

I was at my house not far from the center of Patan, a city right next to Kathmandu, when the shaking started. It was about noon on Saturday and my …

Sipping Espresso After the Big One

How I’ve Prepared My Family and Neighbors for the Inevitable Disaster

As a native Californian, I’ve always accepted earthquakes as part of life here. So I didn’t use to think about them too much. When the Northridge earthquake hit in 1994, …

The Northridge Earthquake Rattled My Marriage

Along with Death and Destruction, the 6.7 Temblor Also Broke Hearts

When the Northridge earthquake struck on January 17, 1994—20 years ago this week—I wasn’t physically injured.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt. Earthquakes only last a few seconds but can …