Cal Culture

Totally Radical: A New Initiative from Cal Performances Aims to Gather New Audiences.

Venezuela’s Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of two international orchestras at just 34 years old, is often called the poster child for how early exposure to music and the arts can nourish and lift one toward a better life. Growing up with musician parents likely helped shape his career path, but Dudamel credits much of his success to El Sistema, a Venezuelan program started in 1975 that offers musical access to all. Read more about Totally Radical: A New Initiative from Cal Performances Aims to Gather New Audiences. »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

‘Bout That Action: How Marshawn Lynch Threw the Sports Media for a Loop

Marshawn Lynch is a jerk. And he’s also a hero. He’s ungrateful, immature, and stupid. And he’s a genius with a heart of gold. Lynch, star running back of the Seattle Seahawks and former UC Berkeley phenom, is all of these things and more—if the various media portrayals are to be believed. Just don’t ask Lynch himself if any of it is true, because he’s not talking. Read more about 'Bout That Action: How Marshawn Lynch Threw the Sports Media for a Loop »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Can’t We All Get Along? Case Studies of Racial Tensions In and Around Progressive Berkeley

Science tells us that race is in our heads, not in our genes; it’s all a social construct.

It’s an observation that seems to illuminate everything and nothing at once. It makes it sound so arbitrary and trivial—a trick of the mind. And yet history tells us that race has mattered enormously. And the news emphasizes how much it still matters today in terms of what researchers call “life outcomes”: Your chances of securing a loan, for example; or of getting a good education; or of being shot by the police. Read more about Can't We All Get Along? Case Studies of Racial Tensions In and Around Progressive Berkeley »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Righto: UC’s Trigger Warnings and Microaggression Labels Outrage Conservatives

UC Berkeley has been a burr under the Right’s saddle ever since Mario Savio declaimed freely on free speech in Sproul Plaza back in 1964. Cal, in fact, remains the default example for conservatives fulminating about the deficiencies of American higher education. Most recently, they’ve railed against Cal policies on microaggression and trigger warnings. Read more about Righto: UC's Trigger Warnings and Microaggression Labels Outrage Conservatives »

Out of the Gate: Laughing Through Tears

In 1966, the same year that I finished my studies at UC Berkeley, the psychology department made a scientific breakthrough. A graduate student discovered that watching an extremely graphic film documenting the subincision rites (the ritual cutting of the undersides of the penises) of Australian aboriginal boys could raise stress levels, particularly in men. Read more about Out of the Gate: Laughing Through Tears »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Who Is Kennewick Man? Study Determines Racial ID of 8,500-Year-Old Skeleton

An archaeological mystery that called into question the racial history of the Americas has finally been solved. After consecutively assigning him Caucasian, Japanese, and Native American ancestry, a team of scientists including some at UC Berkeley say they have finally determined the geographic origins of the Kennewick Man. Read more about Who Is Kennewick Man? Study Determines Racial ID of 8,500-Year-Old Skeleton »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Black Cop, White Cop: What can two Berkeley police from the century before tell us about race relations in America today?

It was Berkeley in the 1920s. “The Fighting Swede” was driving through town, feeling even more pugnacious than usual. That’s because he was drunk. The Swede had carved out a reputation as a barroom brawler in the waterfront dives on both sides of the Bay, and he was always more than willing to defend his title—especially when he had a snootful of booze.

So he didn’t feel particularly tractable when a cop pulled him over at Ashby and San Pablo. Read more about Black Cop, White Cop: What can two Berkeley police from the century before tell us about race relations in America today? »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Little Pink Houses: Berkeley Staff Cartographer Sets Out to Map the Heart of a Neighborhood

For years, Darin Jensen ’99, lecturer and staff cartographer in UC Berkeley’s Geography Department, has taught his students to create neighborhood maps that don’t merely identify the streets and avenues, hills and creeks where they live, but capture the quality of life that is lived there. Students would take to the streets in search of “dominating social and cultural institutions” such as churches, health clinics, art, parks, and ethnic groceries. Each map was to depict one or two of those elements, to look at each element in isolation. Read more about Little Pink Houses: Berkeley Staff Cartographer Sets Out to Map the Heart of a Neighborhood »

From Shock-and-Awe to Fun-and-Awe: Cal Vets Discover the Healing Waters of Rx Nature

Rat summed it all up to Mole in the The Wind in the Willows:

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it….

Golden Anticipation: For Now, Cal Football Fans Can Claim “We’re in First Place!”

The best time to be a Cal football fan is the long, languid dog-days of summer. Memories from last season have healed, the first hopeful reports from training camp have started trickling in, and technically we haven’t yet been eliminated from Rose Bowl contention. In fact, we’re tied for first place! Read more about Golden Anticipation: For Now, Cal Football Fans Can Claim "We’re in First Place!" »

To Hear History: High-Tech Project Will Restore Recorded Native Americans Voices

Decades of wear and tear haven’t been kind to the 2,713 wax cylinders in UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which linguists and anthropologists have used for over a century to study the languages and cultural practices of Native California. But a new project promises to revitalize these old, fragile recordings — the first of which was recorded by famed anthropologist Alfred Kroeber in 1901 — with cutting-edge optical scanning technology. Read more about To Hear History: High-Tech Project Will Restore Recorded Native Americans Voices »

Go Small and Go Home: UC Berkeley Team Working to Create an Affordable Housing Fix

A team of Cal students is setting out to demonstrate one possible solution to the Bay Area’s gentrification and escalating housing costs: Go tiny.

By next fall, the group plans to finish building a net-zero energy, approximately 250-square-foot home-on-wheels at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station, a 152-acre plot that the university plans to eventually transform into the Berkeley Global Campus. Read more about Go Small and Go Home: UC Berkeley Team Working to Create an Affordable Housing Fix »

Lifelong Learning: Post-Retirement, I Discovered the Joy of Taking Classes at Cal

There were a few days when I forgot my hearing aids, and senior citizens are the first to wither in classrooms built when Berkeley summer temperatures were pleasant, but I didn’t miss a day of the three Cal courses I have audited in as many years. Who wants to give up on learning?

It’s a benefit only possible with the consent of the instructor, and if space is available. Make no mistake, it is work, meaning intellectually rigorous, at the world’s best public university. Read more about Lifelong Learning: Post-Retirement, I Discovered the Joy of Taking Classes at Cal »

Co-Opted: The Ultimate Berkeley Housing Ad—From a ‘Sustainably-Karmic” Community

Hours ago, craigslist posted an online ad seeking housemates for a space that does not promote “ableism, consumerism, negativism, positivism, homophonia, slut shaming or sham slutting.” Applicants need only forego TV, microwaves, doors, and all scented products (yes, foods included, people!)—and they must be non-speciesist in their welcoming of fellow tenant Gaia, the 8-foot-long monitor lizard. Read more about Co-Opted: The Ultimate Berkeley Housing Ad—From a 'Sustainably-Karmic" Community »

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