Cal Culture

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.

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.  

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.”

“Separating Fact from Fantasy” Panel Takes on Fake News

Those gathered at UC Berkeley on a recent Thursday night for a panel on fake news were primarily concerned with debating the scope and responsibility of Silicon Valley’s tech giants for disseminating false information leading up to the presidential election. No one on the panel could have predicted the unprecedented shift the conversation would take around the issue of fake news just a few days later.

Waxing Poetic: New Tech Revives Sounds from Past Treasures

In a corner of the Digital Imaging Lab in the basement of UC Berkeley’s Moffitt Library, recent graduate Olivia Dill is checking on the latest shipment of fragile wax recordings from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. These hard wax tubes, invented by Thomas Edison in the 1880s, are one of the earliest sound recording media.

Christmas at the Kingfish

Like most businesses this time of year, the Kingfish Pub in North Oakland is decked out for the Holidays, strung with lights and garlanded with pine boughs. There’s a neon sign in the window advertising Anchor Steam Christmas Ale and a wreath hangs in the middle of the marquee that juts out from the low-slung, conifer-green facade and sags like the bow of a foundering ship. It almost looks as if the whole place might sink beneath the pavement. But while many another watering hole has sunk and vanished over the years, the Kingfish abides.

WATCH: Inside Children’s Fairyland

Martin Snapp, Children’s Fairyland’s unofficial historian and, arguably, its biggest fan, leads us on a a brief tour of the Oakland institution. You can read his colorful history of Fairyland, which includes appearances by Walt Disney, Mayor Libby Schaaf, and the inventor of the magnetic key card, here.

Warehouse Fire Illuminates Holes in Public Safety Net

The pain hasn’t subsided. For many people, it never will. Some traumas are simply too great to overcome, and there can be no true healing—only a bleak and comfortless accommodation.

The Struggle Continues: Checking in With Revolution Books

Many Americans are fired up in a bad way about Trump getting elected, and the Revolutionary Communist Party, aka RevCom, founded in 1975 by UC Berkeley grad and party chairman Bob Avakian, are particularly vocal about it. A stroll by Revolution Books, in the alleyway just west of Telegraph, between Durant Avenue and Channing Way, will tell you as much. Outside the store sits a signboard with a large poster of Trump in a KKK cap, complete with Hitler-stache—an image made all the more sinister by the gloom of the dark, rainy skies that have been drowning the Bay in the wake of the election.

The Original Happiest Place on Earth

Seated in her office behind a door bearing signs reading, “Warning: I have flying monkeys and I’m not afraid to use them!” and “What happens over the rainbow stays over the rainbow,” C.J. Hirschfield, the executive director of children’s Fairyland in Oakland, smiled as the sounds of toddlers gleefully sliding down one of the park’s newest attractions, the Jack and Jill Hill, a gently sloped mound covered with AstroTurf, filtered through her window.

Alumni Gazette: Rocket Science, Woman Power, and Updating The League

Ever hear that old cliché “This ain’t rocket science?” I wouldn’t use it around Ashley Chandler Karp because what she does is rocket science. A propulsion engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, she’s helping design the next generation of rockets, which will bring samples from Mars back to Earth for more extensive testing than can be done on the Martian surface.

As if that weren’t ambitious enough, they also have to figure out a way to transport the stuff here without getting any contamination from the Red Planet on the container.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Keepin’ It Real with President Napolitano: The State of the State’s University

Janet Napolitano and I met in her office in downtown Oakland on the afternoon of November 4, 2016, just four days before Hillary Rodham Clinton was thwarted in her attempt to make history by becoming the first woman president of the United States of America.

Some people thought that Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona and Secretary of Homeland Security in the first Obama administration, might herself have been a candidate for the White House. Instead, she became the first woman president of the University of California in 2013.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

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