Human Behavior

Think an Old-Time Matchmaker is an Anachronism in Digital Age? Think Again

In an age of Tinder and Match.com, of TV romance carnivals such as The Bachelor, Judith Gottesman is a proud anachronism—an old-fashioned matchmaker in a new age. Her business, Soul Mates Unlimited, concentrates on matches for Jewish singles all over California, including many in their golden years.

“Don’t think because they are 75, 85 or 95, that they want to settle for a warm breathing body,” she says, sitting at a café near her home in San Rafael, where she works. “They are looking for soul mates.”

Cari Borja’s Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers

Racks of gowns, manikins, and sewing machines crowd the edges of Cari Borja’s design studio, but a huge dining table occupies the center. It’s where she holds the dinners that resemble the fieldwork of an anthropologist outside the Ivory Tower. For a series of 52 meals—44 already served—she has transformed her studio into a salon where guests, from the famous to the unknown, discover connections and savor a slow meal.

A Lunch at Chez Panisse Inspired the Imagination, the Palate and a Dissertation

If you’re going for a Ph.D. in business, there are plenty of American universities where you can get this prized degree, but only one of them is less than a mile from the birthplace of California cuisine. Sohyeong Kim was an aspiring Ph.D. student on the day in 2009 when her faculty advisor took her to lunch at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, changing both her outlook on eating and her dissertation topic.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Preschoolers Really Do Outsmart Adults: Here’s How They Do It

My not-quite-2-year-old can’t articulate beyond the monosyllabic level: “Ma” and “Pa,” of course, and “Wa” for water. But what really gets him jacked is his “La”: an old iPad that is now his exclusive, if crusty and sticky, property. He plays games that still confound me, and cruises the internet with ease, ferreting out YouTube clips and videos that amuse him. In short, when watching him, I sometimes get the uneasy feeling that I’m witnessing the evolution of a (terribly cute n’ cuddly) cyborg: O brave new world, That has such people in’t, etc.

You Can’t Say That! Is It Time to Write the Epitaph for Epithets?

Pity the poor bigot. The racist, the homophobe, the sexist—nowadays, they launch their contumelies at their own peril. It’s not that we’ve all learned to link hands and sing “Kumbaya” in high, clear tenors, of course. Bile remains a most abundant humor, as demonstrated by any website that allows anonymous comments.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Stress Can Be Really Good For You—But It Might Also Lead to Mental Illness

Ah stress: It can be a blessing and a burden.

Its bursts can spur us to make decisions under pressure, giving us an energizing jolt as the body responds with quickened breath and the mind moves at a rapid-fire pace.But it can also be overwhelming—whether it results from caring for an elderly parent, working for an unsupportive boss, or straining to pay off crushing debt. That quickened breath instead turns into a shallow gasp, and the mind becomes a vice holding on to feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Scratch That: Berkeley Biologist Traces Cellular Circuitry to Explain Itching

There’s no way into the animal mind, you say? No plumbing of a beast’s true feelings? Not so. Simply observe any footage of a bear rubbing its back against a tree, or even your own mutt vigorously scratching behind the ear with a hind paw. Observe the slack-jawed, stuporous expressions of relief and satisfaction. Yeah. We know what’s going on.

We are not bound by cosmic harmony: It is the Itch that unites us all.

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