Posted on January 30, 2020 - 2:12pm
With covers featuring buxom women in tight, revealing clothes, Aya de León’s Justice Hustlers series may seem like beach reads. But, if so, they’re beach reads with a serious agenda: social justice, trafficking, and radical wealth distribution.
Posted on January 23, 2020 - 11:06am
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!”
Posted on January 15, 2020 - 9:53am
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.
Posted on January 8, 2020 - 1:43pm
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.
Posted on December 16, 2019 - 3:36pm
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.
Posted on December 16, 2019 - 3:36pm
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.’”
Posted on December 16, 2019 - 3:35pm
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.”
In a New York Times essay titled “When Science Fiction Comes True,” author and Berkeley English professor Namwali Serpell describes stories as “one of our oldest technologies.”
Posted on December 12, 2019 - 5:05pm
The announcement came in June. Berkeley Extension, the continuing education arm of UC Berkeley, was offering its first-ever introductory course—CRISPR 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.
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.
It was about time! We’d finally figured it out! What would this grand experiment emit? Every newborn had been subjected to the question: What happens if we cut out this sequence or that one? We’d been doing these CRISPR tests for years, so as to evolve using those Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Know thyself! Now, modify. Was it a mercy? Or a sport?
THE YEAR HAS BEEN A JUMBLE FOR ME. Long story short: I was Portuguese, then I wasn’t, then I was again.
It all started after my wife and I spat in vials and mailed the samples off to a laboratory, where our DNA was extracted from the skin cells that had sloughed off into our saliva. Many thousands of DNA segments were read and analyzed, and the results returned via email.
IN THE SUMMER OF 1984 the senior scientists of Cetus Corp., a Berkeley biotech company, found themselves in a bind. One of their employees, a promising young scientist named Kary Mullis, had dreamed up a technique to exponentially replicate tiny scraps of DNA. He called it polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and if it worked it would change the world and likely earn Cetus a mountain of money. The only problem was Mullis was an interpersonal wrecking ball.
Newcomers to the Golden State (of which Berkeley has many, the student body now representing 74 countries and all 50 states) are quickly disabused of the beachy, bikini-clad stereotype of California sold to them in song lyrics. Instead, they find themselves immersed in Berkeley’s funky, foggy, nonlinear climate. In fall, while much of the nation is snuggling into sweaters and snarfing down pumpkin spice what-have-you, Bay Area folks are pulling the popsicles from the freezer for the first time, September usually being the hottest month of the year.