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A Tour of the Gourmet Ghetto with “the Balzac of Berkeley”

L. John Harris, food writer, filmmaker, Gourmet Ghetto fixture, has been called the “Balzac of Berkeley.” But on a recent drizzly morning, he could have passed for Proust as he stood outside the original Peet’s, describing the caffeinated madeleine moment he had at the shop nearly 50 years before.

“It was a house blend, mostly likely a French roast, and it reminded me of coffee that I’d had in Europe,” he said. “We’ve all had food epiphanies that flood us with memories. This was one of those for me.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Cal Celebrate 50 Years Together

When the Alvin Ailey dancers are in the house, Zellerbach can feel more like a church than a theater. When the doors open, the audience members file in like parishioners. Some are regulars, while others are first timers, but when the curtain comes up it doesn’t matter. Young, old, student, professional, black, white, devout, secular, right, left; the differences between them disappear during the rapturous gospel of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Facebook?

We may never know the true number of Facebook users who suffered data breaches as a result of Cambridge Analytica’s antics, or what it all means in terms of personal security. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg certainly didn’t provide a great deal of insight when he testified before Congress today.

Underlying the brouhaha are a couple of overriding questions: Who’s to blame, and how to fix it? Also, perhaps, is Facebook’s time done? Is the breach one of trust as much as data, and is it so damaging that the social media giant will founder?

Will the EPA Really Trump California’s Fuel Standards?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decreed a roll-back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles, benefitting automakers and oil companies while predictably enraging environmentalists. In making the announcement, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt declared the CAFE (for Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards set by the Obama administration were too high and “didn’t comport with reality.”

Deep Water in Deep Trouble: Can We Save California’s Drying Aquifers?

It may not be a true meteorological “March Miracle,” but it’s close enough for government work, as government workers are wont to say.  The series of storms that have battered California in recent weeks have pumped up the snowpack in the Sierra and swelled streams at lower elevations. And it looks like we could be in for a last wet gasp from the Pacific, with a fairly robust front poised to dump rain and snow mid-week. For a state that still teeters on drought despite last year’s extraordinarily wet rainy season, that’s good news.

After Heavy Snowfall, a Massive Rainstorm Hits California: What You Need to Know

Water managers and hydrologists are a mite worried. The good news is that the recent cold storms dumped a lot of new snow in the Sierra. That will help keep reservoirs charged and Californians adequately hydrated through the coming year. But there’s a literal dark cloud counterbalancing that silver lining—a massive “atmospheric river,” aka the Pineapple Express, now poised to wallop California.

Rorschach on Skis: Elizabeth Swaney’s Terrible Olympic Halfpipe Peformance—And Us

Elizabeth Swaney’s day-to-day life is not unlike that of any other Olympic athlete. She trains with a coach in Park City, Utah, and spends hours practicing her sport, freestyle skiing. She works multiple jobs—eight, at one point, by her count—in order to make ends meet. And just like any other Olympian, she expected all that hard work to pay off during the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Could the Feds Bigfoot California Over Water?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent lawsuit against the State of California over immigration isn’t just about immigration, of course. More fundamentally, it’s about the limits of states’ rights. The move could be a harbinger of other attempts by the Trump administration to muscle obstreperous states that don’t conform to its agenda. And that begs the question: in what other areas could the feds trump, so to speak, California policies?

Study: Rising Seas Are Quickly Sinking Bay Area Landfill Zones

UC Berkeley researchers have cautioned for some time that climate change-driven sea level rise will inundate much of the Bay Area’s low-lying regions, but a new study indicates the threat is particularly acute for landfill developments such as Treasure Island and Foster City.

Student, Doctor…Spy? The Secret Life of Maurice Fruit

In early 1918, a 26-year-old Russian émigré named Maurice Fruit enrolled as a freshman at UC Berkeley. He threw himself into campus politics, helping organize a socialist club and announcing to a dean that he was “thoroughly in sympathy” with the Bolsheviks who had just seized power in Russia. He also claimed to have been friends with Leon Trotsky.

A Personal Perspective on Guns—and a Modest Proposal

The kids seem to have made a difference this time, likely because they weren’t toddlers and pre-teens. They were adolescents—articulate and impassioned, even fierce. They took their rage to both the halls of power and the streets within a day of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and they made an impact.  Even President Donald Trump—while citing National Rifle Association leaders as “Great American patriots”—has indicated some support, however tepid, for banning bump stocks and boosting the legal purchase age for assault-style weapons.

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