California magazine

Not Just Refugees: Photo Exhibit Documents a People in Crisis

Chris Beale doesn’t call himself a photographer. Or a journalist. Or an activist. When asked his profession, the 42-year-old is quiet for a moment before replying, “Gardener. I’m a landscape gardener.”

Two Brains Are Better Than One: AI and Humans Work to Fight Hate

It started with a conversation. About two years ago, Claudia von Vacano, executive director of UC Berkeley’s social science D-Lab, had a chat with Brittan Heller, the then-director of technology and society for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The topic: the harassment of Jewish journalists on Twitter. Heller wanted to kick the offending trolls off the platform, and Vacano, an expert in digital research, learning, and language acquisition, wanted to develop the tools to do it. Both understood that neither humans nor computers alone were sufficient to root out the offending language.

5 Things Philip Dick Got Right: A Total Recall of Electric Sheep

It was a half a century ago this year that Berkeley High grad and Cal drop-out Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? hit the shelves. Set in 2021, the story follows the systematic annihilation of renegade androids in a post-apocalyptic, nuclear-ravaged San Francisco. (In short: man made robot, robot outsmarted man, man crushed robot.) Though a work of fiction, the novel is revered to this day for its astute insights on the future of man and machine—perhaps because so much of the story has, in some form or another, become reality.

Locker Room Talk with the Boys of the Berkeley Gazette

Once upon a time, Berkeley had its own daily newspaper, the Berkeley Gazette, and for a brief, semi-glorious moment, it had two sports-reporting brothers. The paper was small enough that the brothers weren’t exclusively sports-reporters, but being born and bred in Berkeley, with Bear-blood in their veins, they wasted as much ink and newsprint on Cal’s sports program as they could possibly get away with.

Anchor’s Aweigh: Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto Sets Sail, for Good

Say goodbye to another bit of old Berkeley: Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, the oldest restaurant in town, shut its doors on October 24, joining two other landmarks: Brennan’s, which closed in September, and H’s Lordships, which shuttered in June.

Outside, Looking In: Q&A with Journalist Geeta Anand

With a wide smile and a penchant for laughter, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Geeta Anand is hardly as intimidating in person as she seems on paper. From her start at Cape Cod News, a free weekly newspaper, she’s gone on to cover everything from local courts and cops, to biotechnology and business, to foreign correspondence in South Asia, most recently for The New York Times. Her 2006 book The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million—and Bucked the Medical Establishment—in a Quest to Save His Children, was turned into a CBS movie starring Harrison Ford.

Tunnel Vision: This Water Plan Might Make a Splash in the Delta

A long-debated water plan that could change the course—literally—of water in California, will be up for a vote by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) next month. Originally scheduled for November, the vote has been postponed until December 11, per California Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newson’s request.

Burning Questions: A Quick Guide to Key Wildfire Terms

A week after the eruption of the Camp Fire near the town of Paradise, California, 142,000 acres have burned, setting state records for wildfire destruction.

Despite the hundreds still missing and worsening air quality in much of the state, there has been significant progress in battling the flames. As of this writing, according to Cal Fire officials, the Butte County blaze is now 45 percent contained, with full containment expected by November 30.

How Did the Axe Cross the Bay? A Ferry Tale

For those who know, the Stanford Axe is more than just a trophy. Awarded to the annual winner of the Stanford­–Cal “Big Game” (full disclosure: I’m a Stanford grad), the Axe represents one of the oldest college rivalries in the country, dating back to 1892. The origins of the Stanford Axe have been told again and again, including the infamous heist of the Axe by Cal students in 1899, and subsequent repossession by Stanford 30 years later.

Yet, some mysteries remain.

Five Questions for Cal Band’s New Director, Matthew Sadowski

1. You spent much of your professional life in Oregon and Washington, what inspired you to move to California and UC Berkeley?

I was certainly drawn by the name and the reputation, but also the health of the program, and the fact that the last four directors were here for many years, really their entire careers. Within this kind of profession, that speaks loudly. There’s a lot of support and a lot of opportunity here, and at a certain point it became clear to me that this was the way to go.

As California Burns, Experts Anticipate a “New Normal”

Tens of thousands of Californians have evacuated as massive fires, driven by intense winds, rage in both Northern and Southern California. The Camp Fire in Butte County, which destroyed the town of Paradise, grew to 70,000 acres overnight. It sent up a pall of smoke that has triggered air quality advisories across a large swath of the northern part of the state, including the Bay Area. In the South, two fires—the Hill and Woolsey fires—are being fanned by Santa Ana Winds and have forced some 75,000 homes to be evacuated in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

What’s The Deal with Daylight Saving Time?

Older than Red State versus Blue State, older than the Montagues versus the Capulets, humankind’s primal combat is the age-old conflict between the Night Owls and the Early Birds.

Night Owls, of whom (full disclosure here) this writer is one, are sophisticated folks who believe the pleasure of staying up late is exceeded only by the pleasure of sleeping in the next morning—or the next afternoon, if it comes to that. Their hero is Elvis Presley, who famously said, “The sun’s down and the moon’s pretty; it’s time to ramble.”

Polling in PJs: A Day in the Life of an Election Worker

Tonight, I’m cleaning out my garage. Not because it’s dirty or cluttered, but because I’m expecting a lot of guests tomorrow. I need to move some boxes, sweep the floor, finally put those pots and pans on the shelf. I also need to set up the tables, lay out the reading material, and hang some signs. Cleaning is deceptively relaxing; tomorrow has the potential to be hectic, and there’s a lot at stake. I don’t know exactly who’s going to show up—certainly some people I’ve never met before—but I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

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