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Possible Upside to Stress

We all know that stress is bad for us. Stress kills, you’ll have a heart attack, you’ll have a breakdown. Here, squeeze a little foam ball, take a walk, practice mindfulness, pet a puppy, etc., etc. —just don’t stress out. It’s bad.

Except it turns out that, maybe (so far, it’s true for lab rats), some stress is good for our brains. Read more about Possible Upside to Stress »

Not So Much the Dead: Les Blank, R.I.P.

When the filmmaker Werner Herzog ate his shoe onstage at the old UC Theater in Berkeley, circa 1978 or ’79, Les Blank was there to film it. (The day was April 11, so this is an anniversary of sorts.) The shoe—a chukka boot, to be precise: leather uppers, gum soles—was cooked at Chez Panisse for 5 hours, after being stuffed with garlic and doused in hot sauce. (Mr. Blank was crazy for garlic Read more about Not So Much the Dead: Les Blank, R.I.P. »

Annals of Funny

Here’s a news flash to lighten your day: Berkeley University Librarian, Tom Leonard, has the winning caption in the New Yorker’s weekly Cartoon Caption Contest. Reached on the phone earlier today, Leonard said the fact that he and his wife have been babysitting their daughter’s cat probably helped inspire him. “I’ve had more cat time than normal lately, so I was reminded of that attitude cats have.” Read more about Annals of Funny »

Earth Day

With Earth Day approaching it’s a good time to remember the late evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, who earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1963. Margulis, who was once married to the astronomer Carl Sagan, was famous for advancing the theory of endosymbiosis to explain the origin of eukaryotic cells; in short, the complex cells arose from interactions between various bacteria. Now widely viewed as a major scientific breakthrough, the theory was attacked for many years, and Margolis never backed down in her defense of it. Read more about Earth Day »

Berkeley in Books: Evacuation Order #19

Julie Otsuka has been awarded the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic. Otsuka, a California native who studied art at Yale and later took her MFA at Columbia, opened her first novel, When the Emperor was Divine, in Berkeley, a few months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when, by Executive Order, all Japanese and Japanese-Americans were being removed to internment camps. Here’s how it opens: Read more about Berkeley in Books: Evacuation Order #19 »

Before Pinecrest

The footage is of the Lair of the Golden Bear from the year 1948, shot by none other than Robert Sibley, former longtime executive director of the California Alumni Association and also for many years editor of the California Monthly, the predecessor publication to CALIFORNIA. Lair veterans will qulckly notice that this is not the Lair they know and love, but rather its forerunner, in Shasta County. Read more about Before Pinecrest »

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