Law + Policy

Ill Informed

In March, the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., released the results of its annual poll, Sleep in America. The survey reported some worrisome statistics: More than half of adults have in the past year driven at least once while drowsy. And 20 percent—up from 13 percent in 2001—report sleeping less than six hours a night. The foundation’s motto, according to its website, is “Waking America to the Importance of Sleep.” And who could argue with that?

From the May June 2009 Go Bare issue of California.

Propping Up California’s Budget

Nobody ever called Howard Jarvis elegant or subtle. He was a gruff, curmudgeonly sort from the Republican political grassroots who had no problem saying what he meant, loudly and often profanely.

When he pushed Proposition 13 onto the ballot in 1978 over the objection of virtually every politician in California, Jarvis made no bones about his goals. He wanted to slash the soaring property taxes that were threatening to price many seniors out of homes they had lived in for decades and then make it harder for politicians at every level to raise taxes again.

From the Fall 2010 Have We Got Issues issue of California.

eBuyer Beware

When Haas professor John Morgan used eBay to buy a Pittsburgh Steelers “terrible towel” (a bright yellow cloth waved by fans to show their enthusiasm) for his four-year-old son, he was happy to pay $9.95 for a set of two, and $3.95 for shipping charges. But Morgan noticed that on some eBay listings the shipping charge for even one towel was as high as $8.00. An expert on retail pricing, Morgan was wise to a common but sly pricing technique used on eBay—a low opening bid offset by a high shipping charge.

Driving Change

Picture yourself strolling down a city street. Fellow pedestrians bustle among shops and offices, while a steady stream of bicyclists flows between you and the distant car traffic. Sunlight dapples the broad sidewalk of the tree-lined blocks ahead, and flowers bloom brilliantly in pavement cutouts and planter boxes.

From the Summer 2010 Shelf Life issue of California.

Pressing Business

The media today—newspapers, books, and, yes, magazines—are in a bewildering situation. People are getting information in new ways, methods of production and distribution are shifting. Writers and editors routinely deploy terms like “business model” and “social media.”

From the Summer 2010 Shelf Life issue of California.

An Ounce of Prevention

In the Spring of 2001, several leading public health associations launched an ambitious effort to raise the profile of their field. Creating the Public Health Brand Identity Coalition–which I think we can all agree is not the sexiest name for an initiative to promote a sharper professional image–the group commissioned a poll about attitudes toward the phrase public health. Almost 80 percent of Americans, according to the survey, did not think that public health had touched their lives in any way.

From the Summer 2010 Shelf Life issue of California.

Copyrights and Wrongs

In theory, copyright protection should be straightforward: Writers and other creators are entitled to exclusive control over their intellectual property. But two Boalt graduates say in a new study published in Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal that digital-age battles over intellectual property rights are sometimes neither simple nor straightforward.

From the March April 2006 Can We Know Everything issue of California.

Social Responsibility

It sounds too good to be true: you pay your workers a living wage, avoid pollution, and treat developing nations fairly. And though these tactics will cost you money, you’ll still improve profit as workers, investors, and shoppers reward your social responsibility.

Yes, it is too good to be true, says business professor David Vogel in his new book, The Market for Virtue.

From the January February 2006 Chinafornia issue of California.

Strange Renderings: The Secret Geographies of UC Berkeley’s Trevor Paglen

The light is fading on a bitter-cold December afternoon in Berkeley, and Trevor Paglen is talking about spy satellites. Specifically, he’s explaining how hard it is to photograph them—not just because our government doesn’t want us to know they’re there but also because they’re a long way away. “You’re basically trying to shoot something the size of a car on the other side of the Earth, but actually it’s even farther,” he says, his words dissolving into a machine-gun laugh.

From the Spring 2010 Searchlight on Gray Areas issue of California.

Behind The Great Firewall

They have closed off Tiananmen Square.

The huge portrait of Mao stares across an empty Square at the giant mausoleum to the south where the Chairman’s body is usually on display. Officially the Square has been blocked off because the President of Malaysia is visiting. But today is June 3, the anniversary of the 1989 uprising that left hundreds dead in Beijing—perhaps more, nobody really knows—and jolted all of China. Police are everywhere. The Square is ringed with soldiers.

From the Spring 2010 Searchlight on Gray Areas issue of California.

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