Cal Alumni Association

Editor’s Note: Goodbye

For most of the last ten years, this spot has been home to my 500-plus-word personal essays—somewhat eccentric attempts to lure readers into the magazine by riffing on the current theme. Themes that have included, among the 43 issues, global warming, electioneering, music, war, food, and power.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Up in Arms about Flamethrowers? Take Aim at Handguns Instead.

Elon Musk has taken some heat over the past few months for selling flamethrowers through his firm, The Boring Company. The devices aren’t actual flamethrowers, though, hence their name: Not a Flamethrower. ­They’re more like hypertrophied blowtorches, perfect for caramelizing a crème brulee the size of a garbage can lid, perhaps, but thankfully unsuited for combat. Musk’s devices use propane and spout a three-to-four foot fixed flame. True military flamethrowers spew burning jellied gasoline up to 150 feet.

State AG Bans Employer-ICE Cooperation. Can He Do That?

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided 77 Northern California businesses, in what’s being called the largest localized ICE sweep since Trump was elected. So far, no one has been arrested.

We Lost It at the Eclipse

Until last Monday morning I was what Berkeley astrophysicist Alex Filippenko calls an “eclipse virgin.”  I’d seen partial solar eclipses before, which mostly meant observing the shadows cast on the ground through leaves or through a pinhole in cardboard. A total solar eclipse is different. It’s like a brief opening of the heavens, a fleeting glimpse at celestial perfection. The lead up is an interesting mix of sensations. The temperature drops, the light takes on an eerie quality, and shadows become impossibly crisp.

WATCH: The Music Keeper

Cal Performances will stage the first ever modern-day performance of the original The Temple of Glory, a gem of the music library’s collection, this weekend at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. 

All the Presidents’ Historians: How Legacies of Leaders Change

Donald Trump’s critics say he’s the worst president ever; his fans say he’s one of the best. That’s par for the course: Barack Obama and George W. Bush got mixed reviews, too, depending on who was doing the reviewing. So what do historians say?

WATCH: A Dream Denied?

Join the conversation on immigration on Tuesday, April 11 at the Cal Alumni Association’s panel discussion “A Dream Denied? The Immigrant Experience in the Campus Community.” Click here for information on how to attend and watch the live online broadcast of the event. 

If you missed the event or would like to watch it again, you can view the recording here.

End Your Summer On a High Note: Bear Music Fest

The weekend of September 9, the Cal Alumni Association’s family camp, The Lair of the Golden Bear, hosts its inaugural musical festival, Bear Music Fest. Part of a typical all-inclusive Lair weekend, the festival performances will take place across two of the three primary campsites, and feature artists representative of the Bay Area music scene.

The Mountains Are Calling: Cal Says Farewell to Lair of the Bear Extraordinaire Bob Merritt

The Lair of the Golden Bear lost one of its best friends, Moraga lost one of its founding fathers, the law lost an eminent scholar and practitioner, many worthy causes lost one of their biggest benefactors, a remarkable family lost its beloved patriarch, and Top Dog lost its best customer on February 22, when Bob Merritt died at age 74 from complications following heart surgery. There will be a celebration of his life at Cal Shakes in Orinda on Sunday, May 31.

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.

“We know of at least 700 Cal grads working here, and that’s only the people we found on LinkedIn,” says Zhu. “There have to be a lot more.”

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Blind No More? Berkeley Neuroscientists’ Engineered Molecule Causes Mice to See Light

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, a blind character wore a visor that helped him to see the world. With any luck, that won’t be science fiction for long.

UC Berkeley Professor Richard Kramer and his colleagues, including graduate student Ivan Tochitsky, have engineered a molecule that, when injected into the eyes of blind mice, causes them to react to light. With a little extra hardware, Kramer says, this molecule could help humans suffering from diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

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