Gov. Jerry Brown

Keepin’ It Real with President Napolitano: The State of the State’s University

Janet Napolitano and I met in her office in downtown Oakland on the afternoon of November 4, 2016, just four days before Hillary Rodham Clinton was thwarted in her attempt to make history by becoming the first woman president of the United States of America.

Some people thought that Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona and Secretary of Homeland Security in the first Obama administration, might herself have been a candidate for the White House. Instead, she became the first woman president of the University of California in 2013.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Flowing Consequences: Was Lifting Our Water Restrictions Really a Wise Move?

The decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to lift mandatory water restrictions is good news for any Californian who likes to raise petunias and zucchini and take showers lasting longer than three minutes. But is it really a good idea? After all, last winter’s greatly hyped and much-anticipated El Niño turned out to be something of a bust.

Fried to a Crisp: Why Some Experts Say We Must Burn the Trees to Save the Forests

The recent rains have blunted the psychological impact of California’s four-year drought, washing down the streets, perking up the landscaping, and heightening anticipation for a stormy El Nino-driven winter. We know, however, that one wet year is highly unlikely to end water shortages. What we may not fully grasp is that the damage done to the state’s forests is so far reaching that it may be permanent.

Trading in Tropes: Video Mashup Shows What TV Writers Think of “Berkeley”

As the 2015 enrollment data shows, the real UC Berkeley is an extremely diverse place. But UC Berkeley as depicted on television? Not so much.

TV Land has been slow to surrender its use of Berkeley as code for Birkenstock-wearing, bean-sprout-loving, radical feminist tree-huggers. Only a few shows are acknowledging the contemporary reality of an institution perennially ranked at or near the top of the public universities worldwide.

In the Driver’s Seat: When Can We Expect To Hand the Wheel Over to Robots?

Steven Shladover thinks that you, my human friend, are an excellent driver—and that fact makes his job exceptionally difficult. That is because Shladover, program manager at UC Berkeley’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), has spent 40 years researching automated vehicle systems. The Holy Grail of this field is the self-driving car: the artificially intelligent chauffeur that promises to one day relieve us of our driving duties. If recent media accounts are to be believed, this sci-fi dream may be right around the corner, but the veteran Shladover is not so sure.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Tweaking Toxic Avengers: California Questions the Consequences of Prop. 65

Way back in 1986—when it was still Morning in America and women wore padded shoulders and men slathered on so much hair gel their coiffures looked molded in aspic—a citizen referendum passed in California that foreshadowed the current Era of Open Data. Ever since, Proposition 65 has required companies with more than 10 employees to post notices about carcinogenic compounds found on site, and granted private citizen the right to sue businesses that don’t prominently display the requisite warnings.

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