California magazine

Lawsuit Against Uber Alleges “Fraudulent Scheme”

While the ride-sharing service Uber has smashed transportation paradigms left and right, its performance has been controversial. The company’s business model—a digital go-between for car owners and riders—offers reliable transportation, but largely ignores the pesky regulations that shackle cab companies. People who need lifts generally think that’s pretty damn cool, given the convenience and affordability of an Uber ride. Cab drivers, regulators, and some employees are not as charmed, and they’ve dragged the company to court on numerous occasions to demonstrate their pique.

Filmmaker Dan Krauss Documents Ethical Quagmires

Moral complexity often rests at the heart of truly great films, and Dan Krauss has consistently gravitated toward documenting powerful stories on dubious ethical ground, where we see shades of grey, rather than sharp black and white.

Unruly Tenants: Moving Day at 1600 Pennsylvania Can Be Rough

The on-again-off-again détente between the outgoing and incoming administrations was off before apparently being on again—at least, as of this writing—with The Donald tweeting last week, “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!” only to reverse himself a few hours later when he told reporters that the transition was going “very, very smoothly.”

So has it always been this awkward?

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.

Do Dems Have a Pelosi Problem?

It’s no secret that things started going sideways for the Democratic Party long before November 8. In 2009, the Democrats had a lock on both federal legislatures, with 257 seats in the House of Representatives and 57 in the Senate. Following the 2016 election, those numbers had plummeted to 194 House members and 48 senators. 

Greening the Planet: The Fertilizer Effect of CO2 Slows Warming

A new study led by UC Berkeley Lab researcher Trevor Keenan suggests that increased plant growth is slowing the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a finding that could help explain the mystery of why the uptick in CO 2 concentrations has leveled off since 2002, even as emissions have increased. “We believed one of the planet’s main carbon sinks had unexpectedly strengthened,” Keenan explained in a Lab press release. “The question was: which one?”

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

People Are Strange When You’re Sleep Deprived

Got a lousy night’s sleep? Feeling kinda grouchy? Turns out waking up on the wrong side of the bed won’t just make you cranky. It will make others seem that way, too. A 2015 study from the UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory found that a single sleepless night can fundamentally alter the way we perceive others—making even the mellowest of fellows seem like the strangest of dangers.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

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.

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