Human Behavior

Price is Right? Drinking Premium Wine is Image Therapy—If We Know It’s Pricey

Thirty years ago, the most-prized wines in California—including Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet, Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet—sold for under $30. Opus One got attention with its shocking price of $50. Inflation since then has roughly doubled the value of money. But the cheapest of those famous wines now costs about four times as much. Heitz Martha’s Vineyard is now $200; Opus One is $225. Read more about Price is Right? Drinking Premium Wine is Image Therapy—If We Know It's Pricey »

I Just Don’t Get It: Why Do So Many People Treat Pets as Human Equals?

This rumination begins with a phone call from my brother, but it’s really about domestic animals, dogs and cats mostly, and our changing mores about them: How they are now viewed as peers and family members rather than pets, how we’ve come to define ourselves as their guardians rather than their owners, whether our growing obsession with them is somehow a simulacrum for the complicated and messy human relationships that formerly dominated our lives, and whether apotheosizing them somehow minimizes our sensitivity to human suffering. Read more about I Just Don't Get It: Why Do So Many People Treat Pets as Human Equals? »

Hunger at UC Berkeley: A Sizeable Share of Students are Financially Forced to Skip Meals

UC Berkeley sophomore Anthony Carrasco loves his Monday afternoon class lecture on the History of Punishment, but sometimes the torture feels a little too literal.

“Instead of thinking about the Panopticon, I start thinking about heating up the stove and frying eggs. I start to imagine all the things I could put on the eggs: cheese, hot sauce, salt, pepper,” he says. “It’s very difficult to process everything that’s going on and deal with just being really hungry.” Read more about Hunger at UC Berkeley: A Sizeable Share of Students are Financially Forced to Skip Meals »

An Unusual Life Unfolding: Noted Bear Biologist Gains Acclaim in Origami World

Bernie Peyton is profoundly dyslexic, and that made his early years growing up in New York City difficult. School was hellish: He struggled to read, he was bullied, and it was hard to make friends. Then when he was 9, his stepfather gave him a book that changed his life.

Peyton still has the book—a beautifully illustrated instruction manual on origami by Isao Honda that contains examples of various works pasted to the pages. He recently opened the volume in his Berkeley home, and thumbed through it reverently. Read more about An Unusual Life Unfolding: Noted Bear Biologist Gains Acclaim in Origami World »

Are You Paid Less Than a Tech Intern? Cal Student Conducts Eye-Opening Survey

Tales of internship compensation are typically depressing, in that there is, all too often, no compensation. But in the spirit of misery loving herself some company, recent findings by a UC Berkeley student revealed how much students are being offered for summer internships at top U.S. tech companies—finally giving people with “real jobs” a turn to feel sad and underappreciated. Read more about Are You Paid Less Than a Tech Intern? Cal Student Conducts Eye-Opening Survey »

Victory Vantage: Ex-Cal Star Shares New Life on Warriors Coaching Staff

It is April 12, one day before the Golden State Warriors will barge into NBA history with their 73rd victory of the season, and practice is winding down at the team’s downtown Oakland headquarters.

Stephen Curry lofts majestic three-point shots at one basket, as usual. Klay Thompson sharpens his silky-smooth release nearby. And on an adjacent court, backup point guard Shaun Livingston unleashes a stream of friendly trash talk in a spirited one-on-one game against…who, exactly? Read more about Victory Vantage: Ex-Cal Star Shares New Life on Warriors Coaching Staff »

A Line in the Darkness: In Solitary, a Letter from the Outside Can Be Everything

I have been incarcerated most of my life, in and out of juvenile facilities as a minor, and as an adult I’ve been in and out of the prison system therefore spending many years in solitary confinement. My first experience of solitary confinement was in 2001. Being behind bars in a cell is bad enough, but getting placed in “The hole” is a dark, lonely, and eerie place. There is a misconception that society has. Read more about A Line in the Darkness: In Solitary, a Letter from the Outside Can Be Everything »

What Sparked This Pulitzer-Winning Novelist? Dual Life, ‘Mind-Blowing’ Berkeley & a Movie

For over 20 years—before 9/11 and Black Lives Matter and Trump’s wall-building scheme, before “white privilege” and “male privilege” were common phrases—Viet Thanh Nguyen was wrestling with questions of social justice and power. For years he dreamed of writing a novel that would explore these important concepts in a well-crafted, entertaining, even funny way. And that, in turn, would coax people to keep reading, even the parts that many Americans would like to ignore, and ultimately it would inspire them to look at themselves and the world with fresh eyes. Read more about What Sparked This Pulitzer-Winning Novelist? Dual Life, 'Mind-Blowing' Berkeley & a Movie »

Poor Journalism: Is Media Coverage of the Poor Getting Better or Worse?

In 2000, Tina Rosenberg, a journalist for The New York Times, pitched a story for its Sunday magazine about the AIDS epidemic ravaging the world’s poorest nations. She wanted to show how pharmaceutical companies had pressured governments in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 12 adults were living with HIV or AIDS, to deny access to generic drugs, making treatment unaffordable.

Her editor’s response: “I cannot subject our readers to another 7,000-word story on how everybody is going to die in Malawi.” Read more about Poor Journalism: Is Media Coverage of the Poor Getting Better or Worse? »

Stretch Your Appeal: In Fast-Paced Dating World, Take Up Space to Stand Out

In online dating, a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. When Christian Rudder, a founder of OKCupid, analyzed the dating website’s data, he found that profile photos drove 90% of users’ choices. With so much riding on a split-second impression, what’s the best way to impress potential mates? Read more about Stretch Your Appeal: In Fast-Paced Dating World, Take Up Space to Stand Out »

Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country

Lately, I’ve been thinking about an incident that happened in 1965, seven years before I was born. It centered on an antiwar protest in Berkeley, one of the first of countless such protests to come. Though just a blip in the grand scheme of Vietnam era turmoil, it seems to point to something important about America and the nature of patriotism.

It starts with a guy named “Tiny.” Tiny was 6’7” and 300 pounds. And he really liked to fight. Read more about Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

All Quiet on the DMZ: The History of the Cold War Didn’t Always Make History

We all have a certain subset of memories burned deep in our forebrains: images so vivid, so invested with emotion that the decades serve to sharpen rather than diminish their resolution. It could be a few mental frames from childhood: a tableau of mother and puppy on a vast expanse of lawn. Or a traumatic event: the onrush of ruby brake lights just before a collision. Such memories seem fixed in amber, impervious to time; richly detailed images that can be examined again and again from all aspects. Read more about All Quiet on the DMZ: The History of the Cold War Didn't Always Make History »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

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