California’s High-Speed Rail Dreams Could Go “Whoosh”

The Golden State Seems Primed to Repeat the Mistakes and Miscalculations of Indonesia’s New Bullet Train

The good news is that California will almost certainly have a high-speed rail line someday.

The bad news is that it may look a lot like “Whoosh.”

Whoosh is the name of the new high-speed rail line that opened last October on the Indonesian island of Java. Its existence is a breakthrough—Whoosh is the first bullet train in Southeast Asia and the Southern Hemisphere. Similarly, California’s train could be the first truly high-speed service in North America. (Amtrak’s Acela and Florida’s Brightline don’t count—they don’t surpass 150 miles per hour.)

I rode Whoosh …

Will Indonesia’s Youth Install a Political Dynasty? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Will Indonesia’s Youth Install a Political Dynasty?

On TikTok, Gen Z Voters See the Candidates as Father Figures and Kindly Uncles. They Don’t Get the Whole Story

President Suharto’s New Order regime was a dictatorship in which he often liked to refer to the Indonesian nation as a “family” with himself at the helm—a patriarchal …

In Indonesia, an Election Without Artists | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

An Election Without Artists

The Outgoing Indonesian President’s Campaigns Inspired Songs, Paintings, and Poems. Creatives’ Silence in This Race Speaks Volumes

The absence of art in Indonesia’s presidential election has been noticeable.

Back in 2014, when Joko Widodo—known as Jokowi—campaigned to become the seventh president of this republic, …

Our Favorite Essays of 2023 | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Our Favorite Essays of 2023

In the Boxing Ring. At a Parking Lot. Through Prison Glass. These Stories Captured the Sights, Sounds, and Heart of the Year

South Africans got it right when they made “kuning,” the isiZulu word that roughly translates to “it’s a lot,” one of the defining words of 2023.

It was a lot this …

Destined to Be Trans, Muslim, and Indonesian

I Leaned Into My Faith and My Queer Identity—And Gained My Family’s Acceptance in the Process

“This is my son’s taqdir,” said my father—my destiny. “If I kicked him out for being who he is, then I reject what Allah has destined for him, for my …

In an Ancient Indonesian City, Art Is Abundant—and Inclusive

How a Community Built a Thriving Cultural Scene on Cooperation, Cheap Tickets, and Affordable Merchandise

The city of Yogyakarta, which sits between the Indian Ocean and the volcanic mountain Merapi at the heart of Java island, has long been known as one of the arts …