California magazine

What’s the Big Deal? Experts Unpack the Coronavirus Outbreak

Listen to the news and you may fear a plague or a zombie outbreak. A cruise ship off Japan’s coast has been quarantined with nearly 3,700 passengers. Its American passengers were just evacuated, including 14 infected with the virus. In Wuhan, China, the very doctor who tried, unsuccessfully, to warn people about the disease, is now dead.

Why Moms 4 Housing Is Such A Big Deal

On November 18, 2019, Dominique Walker and Sameerah Karim moved with their children into an unlocked, vacant house on Magnolia Street in West Oakland. They had been housing insecure for months, moving from place to place, often in hotels which one of the Moms, Misty Cross, described as “Very unsafe for young girls, which I have three of.” But it was also an occupation meant to draw attention to the city’s failure to combat the growing housing crisis.

“We knew that from the beginning this was bigger than us. This is about building a movement.”

Greetings From Atascadero: A Reporter Confronts His Facebook Foes

This is the third installment in our series, Greetings from California, in which intrepid writers file dispatches exploring the untrodden, unappreciated, or just unusual corners of the Golden State. Last year, frequent contributor Glen Martin faced the ghosts of his past when he returned to his hometown of Atascadero, California.

The Real Life Black Mirror?

Recently, I was in a Lyft in Los Angeles discussing the British dystopian television show, Black Mirror, with my driver. I told him about the episode in which every person you interact with can rate you: coworkers, friends, baristas all have the power to determine your social capital. “Oh!” the driver interrupted, “they already have this in China!”

A Massive Project Sheds Light on California’s Criminal Cops

In May of last year, Laurence Du Sault and Katey Rusch stood hunched over a single desk in a records room in a courthouse in Lancaster, California, carefully parsing and then photocopying court files they had pulled on numerous police officers convicted of crimes. No chairs and no breaks, they had already overstayed the window during which they were supposed to have access to the files. When their visit was complete—one of dozens of trips to courthouses they had made that spring and summer—they left with copies of pages from 13 case files.

To Like or Not to Like: Will Killing the “Like” Button Save Insta?

On July 17, Instagram announced the unthinkable: the company was exploring the idea of hiding the number of “likes” from its photo-sharing platform. According to the company, the new design would encourage “followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” ostensibly shifting the emphasis away from the quantity of likes to the quality of content.

Back to the Land: Giving Thanks, Ohlone-Style

Once upon a time, Berkeley wasn’t Berkeley at all—but the sacred, uncolonized land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. This week, as families around the country gather to cook and consume great feasts, share stories and bicker over politics, we decided to return to California’s native roots and ask two local Ohlone people about their Thanksgiving traditions. Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, the latter a graduate of UC Berkeley’s linguistics program, are the cofounders and owners of Cafe Ohlone, a pop-up behind University Press Books that specializes in pre-colonial cuisine.

The Art of Adulting: A Student-Led Class Draws Hundreds

This fall, two UC Berkeley juniors Jenny Zhou and Belle Lau, have taken on the challenge of educating their peers in a semester-long class in ‘Adulting’—i.e. the mundane but necessary duties of adulthood like filing taxes and managing a budget.

“We thought of things that we struggled with,” said Lau. “And then thought ‘well this is probably what other students need help with.’”

It Was the Best Day of His Life. Then Everything Changed.

The Big Game of 2010 didn’t start off well for Cal fullback Eric Stevens. The Bears lost to Stanford, 48–14.

But on his way back to his apartment he ran into Amanda Glass. They stopped and started talking. And talking. And they discovered they had a lot in common, including sports. She was a defender on the women’s soccer team, and, like Eric, she had a reputation as a tough competitor.

“He invited me to a party that night,” she remembers. “And the rest is history.”

From the Winter 2019 issue of California.

Lab Notes: A New Class Brings CRISPR to the People

The announcement came in June. Berkeley Extension, the continuing education arm of UC Berkeley, was offering its first-ever introductory courseCRISPR Genome Editing: From Biology to Technology—on the revolutionary new tool that allows scientists to make precise edits in the genome. A lab and lecture course on CRISPR for anyone who has the interest (and money) to enroll? What a crazy idea. It seemed a bit like offering a workshop on how to enrich plutonium.

From the Winter 2019 issue of California.

Meet CRISPR: Humanity’s Shiny New Tool

One of biology’s wilder facts is that we’re all family. You and me, sure, but also me and a mushroom. Triceratops shared genes with you. So does the virus that makes you cough, and a rosebush. Bacteria left us on the tree of life around 2.7 billion years ago, but the wet world they came from is still ours: One code runs all of life. The same proteins that imprint memories in your neurons, for example, do so in octopi, ravens, and sea slugs. This genetic conservation means tricks from one species can be hijacked. If you stick a jellyfish gene in a monkey, it’ll glow green.

From the Winter 2019 issue of California.

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