Human Behavior

Mar-a-Lago on the Line

I miss the days when I had Donald Trump on speed dial. Not that I enjoyed our conversations—if converse is the right term. Even then, years before he hit the campaign trail, the Donald was a monologist.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Reading Roundup: Bugs and the Power Ranger, the Horse He Rode in On, More

Bugs and the Power Ranger

In life, as in fishing, there are always a few that get away. And so it is with most issues of the magazine. Take our Bugged issue, for example. We had all kinds of bugs in there: insects, cyberbugs, surveillance devices, viruses, even VW bugs. The one thing we wanted to include but didn’t find a solid enough Berkeley connection to was Bugs Bunny. We looked and looked.

But we didn’t look hard enough.

Truth and Power

In a letter to an Anglican bishop in the late 19th century, English Catholic Baron John Dalberg-Acton would drop what would become one of the most popular aphorisms about the nature of man: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” For a hundred some years post-Acton, the bulk of scientific research supported this ubiquitous idea, with countless studies revealing that when humans are handed power, they become more self-serving and ruthless.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Q&A: Robert Reich on Saving Capitalism

Robert Reich is one of the country’s most influential and prolific political analysts. While Reich has held a variety of high-profile media and advocacy positions and serves as the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, he remains best known for serving as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor.

All That Glitters: Uncovering Sardis, Ancient City of Gold

Many famous names from the ancient world are mythical figures who probably never lived, like Hercules or Odysseus. Not Croesus (pronounced KREE-sus), King of Lydia, a fabulously wealthy region of Anatolia (now part of western Turkey), who ruled from 561 to 547 BCE. He was the richest man in the world and his wealth was built on gold that was present in abundance in the waters of the Pactolus River, which flowed through his capital, Sardis. The Lydians were the first people to mint coins of gold and silver and were the inventors of coinage itself during the reigns of previous kings.

Soldiering On, Veterans Find a Home at Cal Center

This September, just three weeks into Laurina Sousa’s first semester at Cal, she was in crisis. “I had imposter syndrome,” she says. “I felt like I couldn’t relate to my classmates…I felt lost.”

A child of immigrants, Sousa grew up in Hayward, California. Money was scarce, so when she graduated high school, the thought of going to UC Berkeley struck her as comical. “I wanted to be a millionaire too,” she says, laughing. “College just wasn’t on the horizon.”

WATCH: Does This Thing Have Selfhood?

What is the self? The answer to the question, often explained away by religious thinkers and philosophers as “spirit” or “soul,” has long been science’s “big blind spot,” says Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and professor at UC Berkeley.  

Zen and the Art of Bug Repair

If you ever owned an old air-cooled Volkswagen, chances are you also owned a copy of the “Idiot’s Guide,” or at least knew about it. Its real title was How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot “with complete spelled wrong on the cover,” one joker put it, “so you know it must be good.” In fact, the title was an allusion to The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

An Entomological Etymology

Over the centuries, bug has become an astonishingly versatile little word, with roughly six common meanings and 170 slang uses. But why? Where did the word come from and how did it manage to so infest the English language?

The question was buggin’ me, so I called up Geoffrey Nunberg, renowned linguist and professor at the Berkeley School of Information, to see what he could tell me.

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

One Woman’s Idea to Save a Whale, and Aid a Community

Katherina Audley is afflicted by fish fever, but she didn’t contract the dire malady from sautéing a flounder. She was born in Alaska, where the five varieties of Pacific salmon flourish, and all are totemic species for the locals. Alaskans spend what Lower forty-eighters may consider an inordinate amount of time catching, preserving, preparing, eating and thinking about fish. And not just salmon, but halibut, rockfish, grayling, steelhead and rainbow trout, char, northern pike, and whitefish.

We Lost It at the Eclipse

Until last Monday morning I was what Berkeley astrophysicist Alex Filippenko calls an “eclipse virgin.”  I’d seen partial solar eclipses before, which mostly meant observing the shadows cast on the ground through leaves or through a pinhole in cardboard. A total solar eclipse is different. It’s like a brief opening of the heavens, a fleeting glimpse at celestial perfection. The lead up is an interesting mix of sensations. The temperature drops, the light takes on an eerie quality, and shadows become impossibly crisp.

An Atomic Bomb Survivor Recalls the Horrors of Hiroshima

August 6 marks the 72 nd anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It’s a day Jack Dairiki, Cal ’58, remembers well because he was there. He was 14 years old.

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