Human Behavior

Learning to Listen: Why Better Health Care May Start with a Simple “How Are You?”

After her second above-the-knee amputation, Ms. G., a 56-year-old woman with diabetes mellitus, started refusing her dialysis and wouldn’t tell the medical team why. Jodi Halpern, hen just a trainee on the psychiatric service, was sent to investigate. On entering the hospital room, Halpern recalls finding the woman in agonizing pain. When Halpern sat down to talk to her, Ms. G. eventually opened up and explained that her husband was divorcing her because he no longer loved her after her amputations. Halpern recalls explaining to her supervisors that Ms. G.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Researching Discontent: Here’s Why a Regime May Need—and Secretly Want—Protests

“Do you really want to have secret informants in every single village?”

It’s a question Peter L. Lorentzen has pondered quite a bit. After all, he’s an expert in uncovering discontent among the masses within authoritarian regimes. Secret informants, he asserts, are expensive and not always accurate. So the world’s dictators are likely using other tactics.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

An Orgasm App? UC Berkeley-Nurtured Tech Team Launches its “Smart” Vibrator

Wave energy. A portable spirometer for kids with asthma. Tools to lower the carbon footprint. A robot-building kit. 

These are just a few examples of what UC Berkeley startups are developing at the Foundry, Cal’s technology incubator. But Liz Klinger and James Wang are working on something else entirely: a smart vibrator. 

Lost Childhoods: First-of-its-Kind Museum Displays the Artifacts of Foster Care Kids

Buried in the garages of suburbia are boxes of stuffed animals, worn-out sneakers, and abstract crayon drawings—the detritus of ordinary childhoods. The items in a new exhibit at Oakland’s Warehouse 416, “Lost Childhoods,” are a little different: a makeshift menstrual pad constructed from wads of toilet paper stapled together. Underpants from juvenile hall. A tattered bill of Monopoly money, with the phone number of a grandmother in Mexico scrawled on the back.

Stressed-Out Students: UC Campuses Strain to Meet Soaring Need for Counseling

When did going to college get so stressful?

Nationwide, more students than ever say they feel anxious and depressed—at some point last year, almost a third were so depressed that they said they found it hard to function, according to the American College Health Association. The problem is particularly acute at top tier schools: About 15 percent of UC Berkeley students have used campus counseling services, up from 10 percent five years ago. At UCLA, the number has jumped to 20 percent.

Justice, Not Retribution: “The Emphasis on Suffering Isn’t Getting Us Anywhere”

Initially the story seemed like something straight out of A Clockwork Orange: Sasha Fleischman, who as an agender youth doesn’t identify as either male or female, was dozing on a municipal Oakland bus. Nearby, three adolescent boys had been laughing mockingly, and then one touched a lighter to Sasha’s skirt. The garment exploded in flame, Sasha screamed and struggled until other passengers were able to extinguish the blaze. Sasha’s legs were a welter of second-and-third degree burns, which would require several painful operations.

“Who Has a Story to Tell That We Need to Hear?” Human Rights Center Gains $1 Million

What happens when the final fusillade of bullets echoes into silence and a violent conflict comes to an end? What of the unidentified victims heaved into mass graves, the children torn from their parents, the families driven from their pulverized homes, the women and girls traumatized by rape, the child soldiers scarred by what they have seen and done?

When the news crews pack up and the world shakes its collective head and moves on, the work of the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law is only beginning.

Go Fish: How I Hooked My Mom on Online Romance And Ended Up as Her Dating Coach

I was 22, my sensitive vegan boyfriend had just dumped me, and my life was over.

Now I circled the park in my running shoes, trying to smooth over the jaggedness of the past two hours. No such luck. Every footstep was a lonely echo, every smiling family I passed another cruel reminder. There was only one thing left to do: I slowed to a walk, and called my mom. “I’ll never date again,” I announced.

This was met with a sigh, and what I could only guess was an eye roll. “Stop being ridiculous,” my mother said. “After all, there’s plenty of fish.”

How Often Do Cops Kill Citizens? Given “Scandalous” Data Gaps, Nobody Knows

Franklin Zimring calls it “scandalous.”

The UC Berkeley law professor—one of the nation’s leading criminal justice experts—is referring to what he discovered when he set out to analyze four decades worth of FBI data on police and citizen killings. Incidents in which citizens killed on-duty police officers had been meticulously recorded. But when police killed citizens? Those incidents were recorded haphazardly, if at all.

In fact, the data was so spotty that he had to resort to finding cases on Wikipedia.

Farewell to Twisted Titles: A Final Send-off for California Magazine’s Punning Game

In 1991 two editors of this magazine, Russell Schoch and William Rodarmar, became intrigued by a wordplay game. So an announcement appeared in the September issue alerting readers to a new feature: Twisted Titles. “It goes like this: Take the title of a well-known book, movie, play, etc.; change just one letter; and then write a blurb for the resulting work.”

It was a hit from the start.

“Enough people sent in responses that we had enough for a whole page in the next issue,” Schoch recalls. “I was astonished by how clever and amusing they were.”

From the Winter 2014 Gender Assumptions issue of California.

Pages

Subscribe to Human Behavior