Human Behavior

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.” 

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 72nd 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.

Is Peeing in the Pool Dangerous or Just Gross?

For many swimmers, the bracing aroma of swimming-pool chlorine is assurance that pool water is free of disease-causing microbes.

Unfortunately, that summery smell may actually signal troublesome levels of urine, sweat, and body-care products in the water. And according to researchers, bodily fluids in pool water are worse than unsavory—they react with pool disinfectants, forming chemical compounds that may be hazardous to your health.

The Skinny on Body Peace and Other Campus Resources for Eating Disorders

This spring, a handful of college kids were in a basement classroom of Barrows Hall gathered round an overhead projector. On the screen, there was a meme: a photo of a half-naked model with super-imposed text that read, “Real women have curves.” One of the students scoffed and said, “She doesn’t.” Everyone laughed. At about 5’7” and weighing in at roughly 110 pounds, she really didn’t. And noticing things like that was the point of why everyone showed up—to talk about body image.

LandPaths Takes a Road Less Traveled to Community Building

LandPaths is a highly successful Sonoma County conservancy-cum-outreach program that fills a variety of needs: maintaining and restoring open space reserves, connecting kids and families to the outdoors through hikes, camp outs and paddle trips, and supporting summer camps and colloquia.

Stranded? Meet the Band of Bay Area Volunteers Here to Save You

How’s this for a job description? No pay (in fact, you’ll have to buy your own equipment, and it doesn’t come cheap), ability to push through mental and physical exhaustion, crazy hours, and willingness to complete two years of rigorous training before actually getting started. Oh, and assignments sometimes end in heartbreak.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Yet the people who do it say they wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Ann Coulter at Berkeley: Untangling the Truth

It’s been about a week since Ann Coulter tried but failed to speak on the Berkeley campus, and the outrage continues unabated. Outrage that once again a conservative was silenced on a liberal campus. Outrage that the university cancelled her appearance and refused to provide appropriate protection for her. Once again, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement is depicted as a place where free speech—at least for conservatives—went home to die. But what actually happened between the university, Coulter and the three student groups that wanted to host her?

All the Presidents’ Historians: How Legacies of Leaders Change

Donald Trump’s critics say he’s the worst president ever; his fans say he’s one of the best. That’s par for the course: Barack Obama and George W. Bush got mixed reviews, too, depending on who was doing the reviewing. So what do historians say?

Finding His Tribe: The Art of Charles Gatewood

I couldn’t decide what made me feel dirtier—looking at hundreds of pictures of naked girls, or rifling through the personal belongings of a man I’d never met. But I was doing both one evening in the Bancroft Library reading room, traversing the late photographer Charles Gatewood’s massive archive chronicling the kink, tattoo, and body modification subcultures of America and especially the West Coast.

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

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