LATELY, I’VE BEEN COLLECTING NEWS of wildlife appearing in deserted towns and cities around the world: Wild goats roaming shuttered Welsh villages, jackals skulking in the streets of Tel Aviv, Indian bison ambling along vacant highways in New Delhi, coyotes howling in North Beach. As we shelter in place, the animals are rushing into the void. And not just the charismatic megafauna, either. Witness the legions of dumpster-deprived rats battling nightly on Bourbon Street.
ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.
Under shelter-in-place our lives have gone digital: distance learning, virtual conferences, online cocktail hours, and more. As Internet usage is up, bandwidth has been strained. According to BroadbandNow, which provides comparison data about Internet service providers, average download speeds in Berkeley dropped 15 percent between February and March. At least we have ways of staying connected while remaining physically distant—even if it means some buffering. Here we imagine a day in the life of a Berkeley student.
Researchers Investigate How to Decontaminate Masks for Reuse
I FOUND OUT VERY EARLY ON THAT I COULD RUN FAST. Shell, the company my dad worked at for 40 years, hosted these annual picnics where they’d put on a 50-yard dash for the kids. I’d win every year, my dad bragging, “That’s my boy!” Now, if it had been up to him, I would have played third base for the Giants. But at age 13, I pledged the next decade of my life to becoming the world’s fastest human.
The last literary essay I wrote was about dystopian fiction. At the time, in 2016, I had been struck by the publication, within the space of a few months, of a large number of novels offering visions of the future in which some catastrophe—climate change, natural disaster, financial collapse, a pandemic—destroys society as we know it, plunging humankind back into a nightmarish anti-Eden. I was curious about what such novels—written by authors who did not characteristically write science fiction—said about our current state of mind, our anxieties and fears.
Let me begin with heartfelt congratulations to the 2020 graduates of Berkeley who, like their peers across the country, were deprived of their commencement ceremonies by the coronavirus and the need for social distancing.
As the death toll for COVID-19 crosses 100,000 people in the United States—the highest number of any country in the world—African Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by the virus. Nationally, African Americans are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as would be expected based on their share of the population according to an NPR analysis.
Posted on June 2, 2020 - 4:26pm
In January of 2014, a woman in her 80s, who sometimes used a cane to walk, stood on a platform hundreds of feet up in the canopy of a Costa Rican forest, getting ready to leap into the sky.
“Nobody thought it was a good idea,” says Darek DeFreece, who was president of the Cal Alumni Association at the time. CAA was leading the trip through its Cal Discoveries Travel program. “I went and talked to her, and she said, ‘Look, I’ve got one more chance to do this in my life, and I want to go.’”
Posted on May 29, 2020 - 9:36am
UC Berkeley’s spring semester has been anything but normal. On March 13, the university announced that the remainder of the semester would take place online because of the coronavirus outbreak. This was not the first time that alternative instruction has been necessary at Cal.
Posted on May 15, 2020 - 7:12pm
Rebecca Alturk would have graduated from UC Berkeley in May. As she crossed the stage to retrieve her diploma, cheered on by her mother and 6-year-old son, she might have reflected on her childhood living in motel rooms between evictions, or her rocky start at Cal, trying to balance raising an infant with a full course-load.
Posted on May 11, 2020 - 3:46pm
Of all the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, the delay of the Major League Baseball season ranks pretty low on the list, closer to the cancellation of Coachella than the shuttering of all public schools. And yet for many people sports would have been the ideal distraction from the stress and uncertainty of the present moment. Alas, baseball is just one of a long list of things we must do without for the foreseeable. But remember, baseball is America’s most written-about sport.
Posted on May 5, 2020 - 3:40pm
In August 2019, it was reported that Ring, the doorbell-camera company owned by Amazon, was partnering with hundreds of local police departments around the country. As part of this new collaboration and an increasingly extended surveillance system, Ring provides law enforcement with the video and audio that the device records outside of residents’ homes.
Posted on May 4, 2020 - 2:10pm
Cooking has taken on new significance as we shelter in place. As always, we turn to the kitchen for comfort, creativity and sustenance but now also with renewed gratitude for the people who grow, harvest, prepare and sell us our food. For this installment of Quarantine Culture, we asked esteemed chefs and cookbook authors from the Cal community to share with us some simple recipes for these times, when runs to the grocery store are kept few and far between and the pantry staples are calling our attention. Give thanks and bon appetit!
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:52pm
EVEN BEFORE the novel coronavirus struck, an urgent race was on to get migrants out of America’s overcrowded detention centers, where they were already at risk of abuse, malnutrition, a lack of medical resources, and insufficient access to legal services.
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:51pm