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.
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.
Posted on December 5, 2017 - 1:56pm
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.
Posted on November 22, 2017 - 10:30am
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.”
Posted on November 11, 2017 - 1:21pm
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.
Posted on October 26, 2017 - 4:04pm
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.”
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.
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.
Posted on September 5, 2017 - 3:39pm
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.
Posted on August 26, 2017 - 12:15pm
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.
Posted on August 4, 2017 - 10:54am
On April 22, 2017, six tour busses left Berkeley for a trip—the passengers called it a pilgrimage—to the place where 15 of them grew up more than 70 years ago.
Posted on August 1, 2017 - 4:47pm
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.
Posted on July 24, 2017 - 4:39pm
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.
Posted on July 18, 2017 - 3:44pm
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.
Posted on May 31, 2017 - 3:34pm