Human Behavior

Opium Dreamland: Reporter Sam Quinones on Heroin, Pills and his Punk-Rock Roots

Punk rock, which was big during the years writer Sam Quinones spent at UC Berkeley, turned out to be more than just the background noise of an undergraduate life.

For Quinones, who double-majored in economics and American history, it provided an opportunity. He produced several punk shows while he was a student living at the now-shuttered Barrington Hall co-op, bringing in well-known bands such as The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. “They were probably the biggest shows ever at Barrington Hall,” he said. Read more about Opium Dreamland: Reporter Sam Quinones on Heroin, Pills and his Punk-Rock Roots »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Division Street Debacle: Nothing Else Works—Why Not Legalize Homeless Encampment?

For superstitious reasons, 13th Street in San Francisco is called Duboce, and Duboce eventually becomes Division Street, running beneath a freeway that splits right to Oakland and left toward the Golden Gate Bridge. It was here, where the sidewalks had little foot traffic and there was some shelter from the rains, that a settlement of homeless people grew up in the past year. It was much like a smaller version of the favelas of Rio do Janeiro or the colonias of Tijuana, yet big enough to upset the San Franciscans driving by. Read more about Division Street Debacle: Nothing Else Works—Why Not Legalize Homeless Encampment? »

The Poll Slayer: New Book Argues that Surveys are Simplistic But Humans are Complicated

It’s virtually impossible these days to imagine an America without those vaunted interpreters of the national mood: polls. They help determine the fate of political contenders, shape social policies, and interpret the mood of the nation. The aggregator realclearpolitics.com lists no fewer than 22 public polls in the past week focused on the Democratic presidential primary alone.

But are polls as useful as we think? Read more about The Poll Slayer: New Book Argues that Surveys are Simplistic But Humans are Complicated »

Are College Students Sexist? New Research Says They Grade Female Profs More Harshly

It’s no secret that women still get the shaft in the work world. It will take 118 years before the gender pay gap closes, says the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report. And even though women outnumber men in the workforce, only 4 percent of CEOs in the Standard & Poor’s 500 firms are female, according to a 2015 Catalyst study. Read more about Are College Students Sexist? New Research Says They Grade Female Profs More Harshly »

Reconsidering Socialism: Younger Voters No Longer See the Label as Toxic

Technically, the jury is still out on whether Bernie Sanders’s identification as a socialist will hurt the Vermont senator in the Democratic presidential primaries. Slate’s Jordan Weissmann says it was the best thing Sanders ever did, because it conveys the notion that he will implement “fundamental changes in politics” at a time where people desperately want them. Read more about Reconsidering Socialism: Younger Voters No Longer See the Label as Toxic »

Back in Bleak: Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Are Likely to Vanish in 20 Years. Then What?

Ever get that feeling that you’re slowly sinking into a financial morass, a fiscal tar pit from which you’ll never emerge, no matter how or what you try? That the odds are so grim that your children and their children will end up in even worse shape than you? That the middle class is indeed moribund if not dead, that the rich are getting richer and the poor (including you) are getting poorer, and that the trend will only accelerate until you’re eking by on the dole—if there were a dole, that is. This isn’t the United Kingdom, after all. Read more about Back in Bleak: Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Are Likely to Vanish in 20 Years. Then What? »

For the Young and the Restless: Why Cal Linguist Declares “Gig” Word of the Year

Each year, UC Berkeley linguist Geoffrey Nunberg chooses a Word of the Year: A word, in other words, that was in particularly wide usage and seems to sum up the zeitgeist. Nunberg had a few good contenders for 2015, including “refugee” (due to the crises in the Middle East and Europe and along the Rio Grande) and “microaggression,” the practice of employing subtle snubs to denigrate or intimidate. Read more about For the Young and the Restless: Why Cal Linguist Declares "Gig" Word of the Year »

Elusive Target: Can New Push to Background-Check More Gun Buyers Make a Difference?

In the short but statistic-fueled period after every recent U.S. mass shooting, the gun control debate is roused from its intermittent slumber. Whether the victims are in grade-school classrooms in Sandy Hook, on a college campus in Oregon, at a predominantly African-American church in South Carolina, or attending a holiday party in San Bernadino, the results have become predictable. Gun control advocates plead for tighter restrictions that might curb violence. Read more about Elusive Target: Can New Push to Background-Check More Gun Buyers Make a Difference? »

Invisibility Cloaks, Vibrator Apps and More: Gifts Inspired by UC Berkeley Innovation

It’s that time of year: many of you are frantically searching for gifts more creative than the candy canes-and-socks combo you usually fall back on. Take some tidings of comfort and joy in remembering that at UC Berkeley, researchers are constantly thinking up new, futuristic inventions with great potential to add to humanity’s store of knowledge and benefit society—not to mention offering the potential of becoming killer Christmas gifts. For your consideration: Read more about Invisibility Cloaks, Vibrator Apps and More: Gifts Inspired by UC Berkeley Innovation »

Confessions of a Tech Reporter: Like Other Freethinkers, I Did What Steve Jobs Wanted

For a brief moment, back when the tech revolution was young, I was an early adopter.

I was sucked in by that 1984 Apple ad that ran during the Super Bowl. I can’t recall a thing about the game, but I remember every detail of that ad: the woman running in her tank top one step ahead of the goons; the rows of corporate weirdos staring in open-mouthed horror; the hammer sailing toward the giant screen, smashing the Big Brother cult. Read more about Confessions of a Tech Reporter: Like Other Freethinkers, I Did What Steve Jobs Wanted »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Confessions of a Former Fashion Writer: I Knew Nothing About Fashion

Here’s how bad it got. The first morning of my first stay in New York, I was hustled down to a press showing of men’s fur coats. It was 1971, and outrageous flamboyance in dress was the coming thing. I was the principal writer for (and later coeditor of) a counterculture fashion magazine called Rags.

I knew nothing about fashion. Read more about Confessions of a Former Fashion Writer: I Knew Nothing About Fashion »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

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