California magazine

Confessions of a Former Fashion Writer: I Knew Nothing About Fashion

Here’s how bad it got. The first morning of my first stay in New York, I was hustled down to a press showing of men’s fur coats. It was 1971, and outrageous flamboyance in dress was the coming thing. I was the principal writer for (and later coeditor of) a counterculture fashion magazine called Rags.

I knew nothing about fashion. Read more about Confessions of a Former Fashion Writer: I Knew Nothing About Fashion »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Confessions of a Crime Reporter: Call it Gallows Humor. Hell, It Was Plain Survival

I had pizza delivered to a crime scene once. A computer engineer had bludgeoned and stabbed his wife and 12-year-old son to death and then slashed his own throat.

A group of us reporters stood at the edge of the cordoned-off street for hours, waiting for the police to come out and tell us what was going on. We’d already run the plates of the cars in the driveway and figured out who the occupants of the house were, and knew that the man who lived there had co-invented a famous video game. But we needed confirmation that he was the killer before we filed our stories. Read more about Confessions of a Crime Reporter: Call it Gallows Humor. Hell, It Was Plain Survival »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Giving Credence: Why is So Much Reported Science Wrong, and What Can Fix That?

In January, David Broockman, then a political science Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley, found something unusual about a study he and fellow student Joshua Kalla were trying to replicate. The data in the original study, collected by UCLA grad student Michael LaCour and published in Science last December, had shown that gay canvassers, sent door-to-door in California neighborhoods, could, after a brief conversation about marriage equality in which the canvassers disclosed their own sexual orientation, have a lasting impact on voter attitudes on the subject. Read more about Giving Credence: Why is So Much Reported Science Wrong, and What Can Fix That? »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Berkeleyside: The Nimble Hyperlocal News Site is Winning Awards and Attracting Eyeballs

Protesters gathered near the gates of Sproul Plaza on the Cal campus, carrying signs and chanting a phrase reverberating around the country: “Black lives matter.” The crowd swelled as it headed away from campus to downtown, where, by 6:30, demonstrators lay down and blocked the street. Read more about Berkeleyside: The Nimble Hyperlocal News Site is Winning Awards and Attracting Eyeballs »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Confessions of an Online Journalist: How I Killed My Profession

In the fall of 1994, when I was a young reporter struggling to pay the rent, I wrote a cover story for the San Francisco Bay Guardian: “Plugging In: An Idiot’s Guide to the Internet.” I explained why a 14.4 baud modem was a great deal, and reported that the Internet was a fantastic resource because “all kinds of information are available.”

I am so, so, sorry. Read more about Confessions of an Online Journalist: How I Killed My Profession »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Confessions of a Sex Columnist: Is Covering This Just a Freaky, Masochistic Act in Itself?

When I first started writing my sex column, I was what one might consider “sex positive.” As a kid growing up in rural Maryland, I had been influenced by the sexually liberated Bay Area—the place that elected the first openly gay mayor, inspired famous sex writers Susie Bright and Carol Queen, and, of course, was home to the Sexual Freedom League of 1966, a UC Berkeley student organization that campaigned for legalized abortion and held massive orgies in protest of sexual stigma. Read more about Confessions of a Sex Columnist: Is Covering This Just a Freaky, Masochistic Act in Itself? »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Academics of Arrangement: Berkeley Prof Deciphers How and Why We Organize Things

Robert Glushko’s job is to think about the organization of, well, everything: Ikea, zoos, spice racks, even crime families. He tries to get at the concepts behind how and why we arrange things, and what makes certain arrangements better than others. Take a bus, for example, says the UC Berkeley School of Information professor—it’s really just a vehicle traveling on a series of points on a graph. “If you replaced it with a spaceship, it wouldn’t matter,” he says. The ideas behind plotting a route would be the same. Read more about Academics of Arrangement: Berkeley Prof Deciphers How and Why We Organize Things »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Why a New-Media Whiz Equates Journalism With a Tribe Wandering 40 Years in the Desert

Your journalism crowdfunding platform, Spot.Us, the first of its kind, was acquired by American Public Media in 2011 and has since been “retired.” What do you think went wrong, and what does it mean for the viability of crowdfunding for journalism in general? Read more about Why a New-Media Whiz Equates Journalism With a Tribe Wandering 40 Years in the Desert »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Are Journalism Schools Just Whistling Past the Graveyard—or Resuscitating the News Biz?

The keynote speaker at the 2014 commencement of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism—an elite institution that prepares students for a profession in which the prospects are, let’s face it, a little touch-and-go at the moment— was a former small-time drug dealer and heavy-duty coke addict who had been in and out of rehab five times, a “fat thug” (in his own words) who’d been known to beat women and wave a gun around on occasion. Read more about Are Journalism Schools Just Whistling Past the Graveyard—or Resuscitating the News Biz? »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Say What? Scientists Devise an Algorithm That Detects Sarcasm Better Than Humans Can

Think people know when you’re being sarcastic? Yeah, right.

Studies show that most of us believe we are much better at communicating than we actually are, especially when interacting online. For instance, a 2005 study found that recipients correctly identified the sarcasm behind email statements only 56 percent of the time. Furthermore, the participants remained confident they were being understood even when their actual ability to convey sarcasm varied significantly between email and verbal communication. Read more about Say What? Scientists Devise an Algorithm That Detects Sarcasm Better Than Humans Can »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

He Who Tells the Best Story Wins: Radio and Podcast Host of “Snap Judgment” Talks Shop

In 2007, Glynn Washington was director of a program at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business called YEAH (Young Entrepreneurs at Haas), working to give underprivileged Bay Area youth more opportunities in life, when he seized upon an opportunity of his own. Read more about He Who Tells the Best Story Wins: Radio and Podcast Host of "Snap Judgment" Talks Shop »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Farewell to Twisted Titles: A Final Send-off for California Magazine’s Punning Game

In 1991 two editors of this magazine, Russell Schoch and William Rodarmar, became intrigued by a wordplay game. So an announcement appeared in the September issue alerting readers to a new feature: Twisted Titles. “It goes like this: Take the title of a well-known book, movie, play, etc.; change just one letter; and then write a blurb for the resulting work.”

It was a hit from the start.

“Enough people sent in responses that we had enough for a whole page in the next issue,” Schoch recalls. “I was astonished by how clever and amusing they were.” Read more about Farewell to Twisted Titles: A Final Send-off for California Magazine's Punning Game »

From the Winter 2014 Gender Assumptions issue of California.

Nuclear Nirvana: Could thorium someday power a safe, clean, cheap reactor?

Imagine nuclear power, only without the prospect of meltdowns, dirty bombs, and millennia after millennia of nuclear waste. That’s the carbon-free energy of harnessed fission, but free from the specters of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island. Oh, and the nuclear reactors are special too—they run on a material nearly as abundant as lead.

For the many environmental, political and economic complications that result from our dependence on fossil fuels and the high cost of producing reliable energy, this sure sounds like a silver bullet. Read more about Nuclear Nirvana: Could thorium someday power a safe, clean, cheap reactor? »

Past Presidents

The photograph shows University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, at the Greek Theatre in September 1919. Wheeler, then emeritus, had invited Wilson to visit during a tour he was making on behalf of the newly formed League of Nations. Read more about Past Presidents »

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