Introducing the New Issue of 'Pacific Standard': Innovating to Excess

The end of gangs, the women who fight for men's rights, five ways to better understand ISIS, and more in our January/February 2015 print issue.
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The end of gangs, the women who fight for men's rights, five ways to better understand ISIS, and more in our January/February 2015 print issue.
(Photo: Pacific Standard)

(Photo: Pacific Standard)

As I write, trucks are rumbling down America’s highways, carrying stacks of beehives toward California’s Central Valley. By the time you read this, the state’s vast almond crop will be close to bursting into flower. As writer Josh Dzieza explains in “Bees, Inc.,” beekeepers who once made a living selling honey now make their fortunes by trucking their bees across the nation to pollinate our crops. And their business has only ramped up since the specter of colony collapse disorder began to rear its head in the mid-2000s.

Here’s the good news and the bad news, wrapped up in one fact: Thanks to intensive management techniques that treat honeybees like livestock on life support, there are more honeybees today than there were back when talk of colony collapse disorder started. Which has allowed us to double down on the agriculture practices that put the bee population in dire straits in the first place.

Thanks to intensive management techniques that treat honeybees like livestock on life support, there are more honeybees today than there were back when talk of colony collapse disorder started.

Dzieza’s beautifully told story reminds me of two other features we’ve run in these pages. “The Deluge,” an award-winning feature by Vince Beiser, described how, rather than running out of oil (as many people feared—or hoped— we would), we are actually in the midst of a major expansion in oil production, thanks to technological innovations by the extractive industry. “The New Bronze Age,” by Tim Heffernan, described a similar dynamic in metals mining. For those who think we can innovate our way out of any environmental crisis: Be careful what you wish for.

In the mid-2000s, people started panicking about bees; in the late 1980s, they panicked about gangs. Hollywood turned out movie after movie about gang violence, and alarmed police departments dubbed 1988 “The Year of the Gang.” Aside from the steady drip of local crime coverage, the nation’s attention has largely moved on, while the picture of gangs that sits in the popular imagination—as marked by the occasional culturally loaded reference to “gangbangers”—has remained largely stuck in the past.

But as the veteran Los Angeles Times writer Sam Quinones describes in our cover story, “This Is How Gangs End,” the situation has changed dramatically on the ground—for the better. Thanks to innovations in policing and broad changes within criminal organizations, gangs as we knew them have largely vanished from the streets and public spaces of Southern California. The story of that transformation is a masterful feat of reporting.

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As college freshmen, writer Mark Lukach and his now wife Giulia fell deeply in love. Six years later they married, packed a moving truck, and headed west to start their adult lives. Giulia was the organized, responsible one; Mark was the dreamer. Then Giulia had her first psychotic episode. Mark’s story, “Crazy in Love,” illuminates the struggle to figure out how to be equals in a marriage transformed by mental illness. This story will transform you. It even transformed Mark. As we were finalizing the pages of this issue, he wrote to say, “In her previous episodes, I tended to see Giulia as someone I loved, no question, but also as a dependent. Working on this article gave me a new appreciation for how brave and patient she is.” Indeed.

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