My Commie Parents: Their Radical Past Wasn’t Exactly Secret, But It Was Past
I wasn’t quite a red diaper baby. More like a pink diaper baby. Kind of Communist-lite. Before my parents had kids, both had been active members of the Communist Party in New York City, but in the early 1940s, they changed their name, moved to Berkeley, and enrolled in graduate school at Cal. My mom didn’t […]
Germany’s Beating Heart: Berlin’s Turbulent Past Gives Rise to Exuberant Culture
“Berlin ist eine Reise wert”—Berlin is worth a trip. That tepid marketing blurb from the 1950s was meant to lure reluctant tourists to the divided city still recovering from the devastation of World War II. No such encouragement is needed today. Twenty-five years after the destruction of the infamous Berlin Wall, tourism is a leading […]
Restless Raul Ramirez—Journalist Refused to be a “Stenographer to the Powerful”
It’s easy to find words to describe Raul Ramirez as a Bay Area journalist—and one of tremendous conviction, courage, and aplomb. Most of them appeared in the obituaries. Raul died in November of 2013 at age 67, just four months after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was executive director of news and public affairs […]
Greenhouse Growing: Climate Change is Wreaking Havoc on your Table
Scientists say that in the next couple of decades, as temperatures heat up and greenhouse gas levels elevate, fruit and nut harvests will not only get smaller, but many of the grains, including wheat, and other ground crops we grow will lose some of their nutrients: protein, iron, and zinc. What that means is that […]
Economic Leverage: UC Students Fought Tooth and Nail to Divest from South Africa
When Nelson Mandela died last December, it seemed that the whole world mourned his passing. Twitter overflowed with love for the former South African president. South Africans of all colors and ages sat vigil outside his Johannesburg home. Leaders from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe traveled to FNB Stadium to memorialize Africa’s secular saint, and Barack Obama […]
Old-School Networking: Blues in Business Come Together to Give Each Other a Hand
At Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco, four recent Cal grads—Angus Hsu ’07, who works in portable housing finance; Fred Fannon ’08, an analytics consultant; Richard Zhu ’09 in the Securities division; and Dana Zhang ’13 from the Global Financial Institutions group—are hard at work creating an alumni network of Golden Bears at the bank. […]
Death to the Fascist Insect: Looking Back 40 Years, Does the SLA Make Any More Sense?
They were all in their 50s now, hair graying or even white, sitting in a courtroom in Sacramento, waiting to be sentenced for a crime they had committed nearly 30 years earlier. Near the judge’s bench stood a large color photograph of Myrna Opsahl, whose life had ended at age 42 on the morning of […]
Radical Roots: Finding Environmentalism Amid the Schisms of mid-’60s Berkeley
The 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement this year is also the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. In the turbulent river of radicalism that reached flood stage in mid-’60s Berkeley, radical environmentalism was just one branch. That is the tributary I want to navigate here. But it is good to sit down at the typewriter—excuse me, the computer—and try to remember that frenzied era in a disciplined way. Ah, the piquancy of the air back then! The smell of tear gas on campus! There were so many flavors of radicalism available that one was forced to focus. You had to pick just one or two.
Free Speech Rhetoric and Reality: Why Savio, Kerr and Reagan Were All “Radicals”
Fifty years ago this October 1, thousands of UC Berkeley students spontaneously sat down around a police car on Sproul Plaza and held it captive for 33 hours in protest of a University rule against political activity on campus. Over the next three months, the Free Speech Movement, as it became known, led a series […]
In the Driver’s Seat: When Can We Expect To Hand the Wheel Over to Robots?
Steven Shladover thinks that you, my human friend, are an excellent driver—and that fact makes his job exceptionally difficult. That is because Shladover, program manager at UC Berkeley’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), has spent 40 years researching automated vehicle systems. The Holy Grail of this field is the self-driving car: the artificially intelligent […]
The Thing Is—Who Knows? It’s a Periodical Package and a Total Mystery
Here’s the thing about The Thing: It is almost impossible to define. It’s a periodical, but unlike any magazine you’ve seen before. It’s a piece of art, but it’s nothing you’re going to hang on your wall. It’s a functional object, but possibly one you’ll be reluctant to ever use. Subscribe to The Thing Quarterly, […]