Cal Culture

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.

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.

Forget the Robot Apocalypse. Order Lunch.

The robot and I met at the southwest corner of Center and Shattuck. It was 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the streets were bustling. The robot was small and boxy, something like a cooler on wheels. I knelt down at what I presumed was the robot’s front end. It winked a pixilated eye.

Following instructions I’d received in advance, I raised a hand and flashed an “okay” sign. The robot emitted a pleasant dinging sound and a hatch on top slowly opened. I reached in and removed a grease-stained paper bag. Inside were two slices of warm pizza.

Q&A: The Truth About the Flu

The annual flu season is in full career across most of the country and parts of California have been particularly hard hit. We reached out to Arthur Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, for some answers about the nature of the influenza virus, what we can do to control it, and  the risk of another flu pandemic like the one of 1918.

The Toilet Papers

President Trump, as usual, dominated the news this week, first with his “Fake News Awards.” As Ed Wasserman, dean of the Berkeley J-School pointed out in a panel discussion last year, “fake news” as Trump uses it is simply “a catch-all, a pejorative, for news that you don’t like or you disagree with or that you mistrust” as opposed to, well, demonstrably fake news, like the story,

Is Free Speech Smart?

There appears to be a consensus among UC Berkeley law professors that despite his offensive views, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulous had a legal right to speak on campus last September.

Maker’s Mark: The KALX Origin Story

The radio station we now call KALX began life as an oddity in the basement of Ehrman Hall, a dormitory on Dwight Way. It had at its disposal a collection of records, mostly classical, a couple mics, a cheap recorder, and a Corina cigar box containing the most basic of mixing boards. The year was 1962.

This was not a sanctioned operation. It was not a political statement. It was barely even art. Radio KAL was, in fact, the work of geeks; driven, visionary, persistent, highly resourceful geeks.

Westering: Seamus Heaney’s Berkeley Year

The poem was originally titled Easy Rider. Westering, as it is now known, is probably the first poem Nobel Laureate in Literature Seamus Heaney wrote in Berkeley, after arriving here from Belfast in 1970 for a stint as a visiting professor in English. The poem’s original title evokes the 1969 film of the same namestarring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. In it, the trio motorcycle east from L.A. through the nineteen-sixties America of new styles, hair lengths, music, political activity, and sexual behavior.

Editor’s Note: The Power of UC Berkeley

When you check out the table of contents for this iteration of CALIFORNIA you might be surprised by the many entries listed in the feature well. Generally speaking, the well is where we offer up several long-form stories off the theme of the magazine. The number of stories and bylines this time around doesn’t mean we’ve exceeded our usual page count, or eliminated all the other departments. It just means we are offering one very long story and some very short ones.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

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