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Reality Injection: Why California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic is Only Getting Worse

Pertussis continues to spread in California, with 3,458 cases reported between January 1 and June 10: In less than half a year, the toll of the sickened already has exceeded all reported cases for 2013. State health officials have now declared a pertussis epidemic—deeply worrisome, considering the bacterium* poses a particularly dire threat to infants.  Read more about Reality Injection: Why California's Whooping Cough Epidemic is Only Getting Worse »

Happiness Isn’t Just a Warm Puppy—UC Berkeley is First to Make it an Online Course

Happiness: So fervently sought, so elusive. But just what the hell is it? Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz expressed his take in 1962 with his book Happiness is a Warm Puppy. That declaration gained a lot of pop (and pup) cultural traction, but it hardly told the whole story. Turns out the nitty-gritty of happiness isn’t quite so simple. Read more about Happiness Isn't Just a Warm Puppy—UC Berkeley is First to Make it an Online Course »

Doomsday 4: A Massive Quake Could Be Only the Beginning of the Bay Area’s Woes

Update: UC Berkeley seismologists just published data proving that the Hayward Fault is essentially a branch of the Calaveras Fault—meaning that both could rupture together, generating a more devastating earthquake than the predicted “Big One.” And we thought we were envisioning the worst with this article from our apocalyptic Summer 2014 issue. Read more about Doomsday 4: A Massive Quake Could Be Only the Beginning of the Bay Area's Woes »

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Doomsday 3: California May Oscillate Between Drastic Droughts and Deluges

Editors’ Note:  The Summer 2014 issue of California magazine is called “This is the End.” Every day this week: a different catastrophic scenario.

California’s climate, long known for having a sunny, likeable disposition, is poised to become a major bad actor. As anthropogenic climate change threatens the Sierra Nevada snowpack and brings even more uncertainty to a region already prone to extreme drought and flooding, catastrophic weather events may define our future. Read more about Doomsday 3: California May Oscillate Between Drastic Droughts and Deluges »

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

First Native American US Ambassador Starts UN Job: Cal Alum Focused on Human Rights

Keith Harper says he always wanted a career that helped his people—indigenous people.

Harper’s dream, which he cultivated while a student at UC Berkeley, was more fully realized this week when he became the first Native American of a federally recognized tribe to earn the post of U.S. Ambassador. This week, he begins his new job as the U.S. representative on the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, which is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more about First Native American US Ambassador Starts UN Job: Cal Alum Focused on Human Rights »

California Game-Changer: Is This the Beginning of the End of Teacher Tenure?

Lowly Superior Court rulings rarely make national news headlines. Then again, Superior Court rulings rarely mash so many political hot buttons at once.

Consider then yesterday’s mercury-raising ruling out of Los Angeles County—simultaneously touching on union power, public school reform, and the constitutional rights of the state’s children—and it’s no wonder that the decision already is being called a “game changer” by supporters and an “attack on teachers” by opponents. Read more about California Game-Changer: Is This the Beginning of the End of Teacher Tenure? »

Project Nile: Africa is Divided by a River, but United by a New Musical Collaboration

Africa has its share of environmental problems, and the Nile River is a prima facie case in point. The longest river in the world, its basin supports about 300 million people. The demands on the Nile and its major tributaries are extreme—for urban water supplies, for agriculture, for hydropower and fisheries—and they are growing. And as the demands grow, the potential for conflict grows with it. Some of the flash points are especially fraught: A dam under construction in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile is the largest hydro project in Africa, and has enraged Egypt. Read more about Project Nile: Africa is Divided by a River, but United by a New Musical Collaboration »

Hitting the Big Leagues: My Daughter Now Knows She Can Play with the Big Boys

It was the summer of 2008 when my 7-year-old daughter asked me to run for president.

We were shooting hoops behind our sublet in the Berkeley flats, where we’d come to escape the swampland heat of Washington, D.C. If I were elected, Sofia explained, I could make a law allowing women to play Major League Baseball. Read more about Hitting the Big Leagues: My Daughter Now Knows She Can Play with the Big Boys »

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Think an Old-Time Matchmaker is an Anachronism in Digital Age? Think Again

In an age of Tinder and Match.com, of TV romance carnivals such as The Bachelor, Judith Gottesman is a proud anachronism—an old-fashioned matchmaker in a new age. Her business, Soul Mates Unlimited, concentrates on matches for Jewish singles all over California, including many in their golden years.

“Don’t think because they are 75, 85 or 95, that they want to settle for a warm breathing body,” she says, sitting at a café near her home in San Rafael, where she works. “They are looking for soul mates.” Read more about Think an Old-Time Matchmaker is an Anachronism in Digital Age? Think Again »

Cari Borja’s Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers

Racks of gowns, manikins, and sewing machines crowd the edges of Cari Borja’s design studio, but a huge dining table occupies the center. It’s where she holds the dinners that resemble the fieldwork of an anthropologist outside the Ivory Tower. For a series of 52 meals—44 already served—she has transformed her studio into a salon where guests, from the famous to the unknown, discover connections and savor a slow meal. Read more about Cari Borja's Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers »

POSTERity: Hunt for Depression-era National Park Posters Leads to Berkeley

It all started 43 years ago. Doug Leen was working as a seasonal ranger at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and his supervisor told him to clean out a complex of outbuildings south of Jenny Lake. Leen began hauling junk out of a barn when he saw it hanging from a nail: an old cardboard government poster featuring the park’s rugged peaks. Read more about POSTERity: Hunt for Depression-era National Park Posters Leads to Berkeley »

Mass Appeal: Researchers Score Public Support—and Cash—Via Crowdfunding

Marcus Lehmann is at work alongside a 50-meter-long water tank in a high-ceilinged engineering lab at UC Berkeley’s O’Brien Hall, surrounded by wrenches, tape, wires, electronics, pipes, lab notebooks and other flotsam and jetsam. Within the tank, he generates ocean-like waves to test a promising invention: a carpet-like device that captures wave energy. It holds the promise of someday being able to harness the power of the ocean, a potential huge source of renewable energy. Read more about Mass Appeal: Researchers Score Public Support—and Cash—Via Crowdfunding »

NPR’s White House Reporter Tells Grads A Secret to Her Success: Not Realizing Limitations

Tamara Keith—National Public Radio’s new White House correspondent—told graduating philosophy majors that when she received her UC Berkeley degree in philosophy 15 years ago, her dream job was to cover presidential campaigns for MTV.

“But,” she quipped, “covering the White House for NPR would have been a very close second.”

As the department’s distinguished alumni speaker, she offered graduates the following triad of advice: “Never give up. Don’t take no for an answer. Seek out mentors.” Read more about NPR's White House Reporter Tells Grads A Secret to Her Success: Not Realizing Limitations »

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