politics

Q&A: The Most Toxic Town in America

Located in the high desert of eastern Washington along the Columbia River, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has played a crucial role in global war and peace for more than half a century. It’s also the most heavily contaminated nuclear site in the country—one that few people know about.

Politically Homeless: Q&A With Columnist Max Boot

CALIFORNIA Magazine: In the prologue of your new book, The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right, you say you are now “perceiving ugly truths about America and about conservatism that other people had long seen but I turned a blind eye to.” What are some of those ugly truths?

From the Fall 2018 Culture Shift issue of California.

For the Love of Process: On Curating Cecilia Vicuña’s New Show

Art critic and professor Julia Bryan-Wilson likes process. So when she and Andrea Andersson co-curated About to Happen , a solo show by artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña, she photographed Vicuña gathering materials along the Louisiana coast for a site-specific sculpture at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. Bryan-Wilson thought those photos would enhance the exhibition.

In Hoboken, Humility Proves Stronger Than Hate

Hoboken, New Jersey: birthplace of Frank Sinatra, modern zippers, the edible ice cream cup and, if some historians are to be believed, baseball (although the good people of Cooperstown, New York might beg to differ).

And on November 7, 2017, Hoboken’s voters scored another first, electing Ravinder “Ravi” Singh Bhalla ‘95—who proudly calls himself “everything Donald Trump hates”—as the city’s 39 th mayor and the first Sikh mayor in the city’s history.

Talk of the Town

You might not expect the mayor of Berkeley to show up for a meeting in dad jeans and running shoes. Or to be just 33 years old and living in a rented apartment with two roommates. Or to engage a reporter in a freewheeling discussion on some of the most controversial topics of the day without an aide or PR flack in attendance. But then again, Berkeley wasn’t expecting Jesse Arreguín ’07, who swept into office in 2016 in an upset victory over Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who had been endorsed by former Mayor Tom Bates.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Q&A: Behavioral Finance Expert Terrance Odean on the Stock Market Drop

We accept that what goes up must comes down. What we don’t always understand is why. Like countless financial shakeups throughout history, this week’s stock market plunge has sparked widespread debate as to its causes. While there are no hard-and-fast answers, there are educated insights.

The Tipping Point: Can American Institutions Be Saved?

Depending on how you spin it, the recent government shutdown was either an example of the Republicans cynically rolling the Democrats, or the Democrats electing to strategically fold their tents and fight for the Dreamers another day. Either way, nobody was playing chess; it was more like 52 pickup. So even though President Donald Trump contributed little to the process, other than reneging on an early compromise agreement, he somehow came out looking a trifle less inept than everyone else.

Editor’s Note

Every weekday, the dog and I head up a very steep hill for a compulsory early morning walk, an essential daily ritual for wearing out a highly energetic adolescent canine and fending off decrepitude in his older human companion.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Step Right Up: Why Exactly Did I Vote for Bernie?

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the seductive nature of the 2016 American presidential campaign season. I like the drama, the mudslinging, the tabloid-style coverage, the gaffes, the slip-ups, and the never-ending political commentary from pundits. It’s oddly entertaining, no?

Although, let’s be honest: None of the empty party rhetoric and nastiness can prepare us or the candidates for the realities of elected office. We learned this lesson during Obama’s eight-year struggle to address serious issues while faced with a do-nothing Congress.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: Optimistic for America

On the 7th of June, 2016, in Oakland, California, I was among 1,057 “aliens” who became American citizens. We took the oath. We were welcomed and congratulated. We were told not only that we could vote, but that we should vote and that we could run for office.

In 2016, the United States is going to “naturalize” 700,000 new citizens. At nearly 70 years old, I’ve achieved this belatedly in life and more than a century after the big immigration wave that brought millions of my compatriots to these shores.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: Shaking Up Facebook

Like every other voter preparing for the upcoming election, I often cruise Facebook to gauge the mood of my fellow citizens. Not that I’m a fan of the site. To me, Facebook has always seemed like an inversion of the old “banality of evil” trope: It is the evil of banality, a fount of never-ending Likes and emoticons and pictures of highly caloric restaurant meals and garish sunsets and Frisbee-catching dogs. It is an online Leave It to Beaver updated to the digital age, a place where we can all cozily catch up and be comfortable and make soft, murmuring sounds to each other.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: How to Feign Political Competence in Your 20s

In the Internet age, saying “I don’t know” about a political issue is considered socially unacceptable. After all, if we have all this information at our fingertips, the least we can do is a quick Google search. Like, really. It’s the least we can do. And the least is what most people do.

It’s hard to take a long look in the mirror and see blatant indecision staring back at you. So to avoid this self-reflection, there are ways to fake political knowledge. You know you don’t know anything about politics, but nobody else has to know that.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Starring Role: Berkeley Astronomer Turns Department Politics Into Holiday Plays

Eugene Chiang became a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley in 2001 with the intention of contemplating the stars. But when he took on the role of writer, producer, director, prop/costume designer, and actor for the department’s annual holiday play, he became one himself, at least within the department.

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