Berkeley Alumni

The Peace Corps: What Could Be More Berkeley?

In 1961, the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States was heating up, relations between Cuba and the U.S. were cold, and soon after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration as America’s youngest president, he asked Congress to fund a new Peace Corps. The Peace Corps had its inception in a campaign speech Kennedy gave on the Michigan campus in October 1960, when he challenged students to consider spending at least part of their lives helping the poor overseas.

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

“You can always eat more, but you can’t eat less.”

My boyfriend Mark (whose name has been changed to protect the embarrassed) was reading the back wrapper of a marijuana-infused peanut butter cookie we’d just purchased from a Berkeley dispensary. “What does that mean?” he asked.

“I think it’s a caution to start with a small bite because once you eat it all, you can’t go back.”

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

The SF Bay-Delta Is Invaluable. What Will Happen to It Under Trump?

The Bay-Delta, comprised of San Francisco Bay and the shared delta of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, is the largest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States. It sustains valuable salmon and Dungeness crab fisheries, supports hundreds of family farmers who work the rich peat soils of its reclaimed islands, serves as a recreational relief valve for millions of Bay Area urbanites and the main source of drinking water for around 25 million Californians.

Sinful or Saintly? Christians Navigate Sex Online

One might not think the subject of kink figures much into Christian intercourse (verbal or otherwise). But apparently, evangelical marriage is actually “spicy,” and that’s “the way God intended it to be.” Or at least, that’s what some are preaching as gospel on Christian sex websites, information hubs and support groups for “Jesus-is-love”-makers who want keep their freaky sex nice ‘n holy.

Will Trump Roll Out the Big Guns on Second Amendment Issues?

Avowed Second Amendment enthusiast Donald Trump drew plenty of scorn and outrage recently when he signed a bill overturning an Obama era restriction on handgun sales to certain mentally disturbed citizens. But the action was significant more as a political statement than functional policy, says UC Berkeley Law Professor and Center for Studies in Criminal Justice Director Franklin Zimring, an authority on Second Amendment issues.

Reading Roundup: Planet Nine, UC and Trump, the Woolly Mammoth

The Sad Last Days of the Woolly Mammoth

Hoping to shed light on the woolly mammoth’s decline, UC Berkeley bioinformatics researcher Montgomery Slatkin and a colleague compared the genomes of two of the hairy giants and found that they were mutational hot messes in their last days, with trouble finding where to pee and translucent satin coats that may have looked cool at parties but were hardly enough to protect them from the elements.

Lemony Snicket is Helping Cal Build the Audience of the Future

Last week Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, author of the children’s novels A Series of Unfortunate Events , now a Netflix series that was largely written in Handler’s San Francisco dining room, lead an eclectic assortment of guests—singer/songwriter Thao Nguyen, record producer John Vanderslice, perfumer Yosh Han, poet Matthew Zapruder, and, in a powerful closing discussion, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood—through an evening of music and conversation.

WATCH: Documenting Standing Rock

The deadline on Wednesday for activists protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to leave their encampment on the banks of the Missouri river follows months of contentiousness. Journalists covering the Standing Rock resistance—which at one point drew around 14,000 people—have faced myriad challenges.

How Bears Breed Unicorns: Inside Cal’s Vast Startup Ecosystem

How’s this for a modern take on the venerable office vending machine? You swipe your credit or debit card, open a fridge-like glass door, and choose from an array of fresh entrees and snacks. If you want a receipt, the machine will email it to you, and it keeps track of your preferences: next time there’s a sale on your favorite yogurt, Byte Food’s cloud-based servers will give you a heads up.  

Dammed If We Do: What Could Happen If Oroville Dam Fails

The news from Oroville Dam on Tuesday is nominally better. Water isn’t flowing over the top of wall at the auxiliary spillway, and erosion has stopped. Water releases are ahead of inflows, and the reservoir’s level is falling. Perhaps most encouraging for the close to 200,000 displaced locals downstream of the dam, the evacuation alert has been downgraded.

Marriage Is Driving Some to Drugs And It May Not Be a Bad Thing

Writer Ayelet Waldman was teaching a class on drug policy reform at UC Berkeley when she and her husband, the popular novelist Michael Chabon, decided that MDMA, the illegal party drug fueling those all-night raves, might also be a medicine that could save their marriage. They got the idea after Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the psychedelic chemist and so-called “godfather of ecstasy,” spoke to her class. 

Exploring the Quirky in Berkeley

For Tom Dalzell, a small scratch on the elbow in 2011 prompted a whirlwind of events, one that would take him on a sinuous journey through nearly every street of Berkeley.

The author and labor law activist found his life teetering in the balance after a minor wound became mortally septic. Days later, Dalzell exited the hospital with a reinvigoration for life itself. “I came out very determined to live life very differently,” he says. “One of things I chose to do, as a manifestation of my appreciation of Berkeley, was to walk every block of every street.”

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