Perspectives

Step Right Up: Why Exactly Did I Vote for Bernie?

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the seductive nature of the 2016 American presidential campaign season. I like the drama, the mudslinging, the tabloid-style coverage, the gaffes, the slip-ups, and the never-ending political commentary from pundits. It’s oddly entertaining, no?

Although, let’s be honest: None of the empty party rhetoric and nastiness can prepare us or the candidates for the realities of elected office. We learned this lesson during Obama’s eight-year struggle to address serious issues while faced with a do-nothing Congress.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: I’m a Voter and a Lab-Rat

If you shared Facebook’s “I’m A Voter” app in a recent election, you might have become a nice data point for the social media giant and a couple of resourceful political scientists. In the 2010 midterms, the graphic was pinned to 61 million newsfeeds and it turned out that users who saw that their friends were voting were .4 percent more likely to vote than those in the control group (the people without the app). Apparently, this social pressure added 340,000 new voters to the 2010 election cycle.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: Optimistic for America

On the 7th of June, 2016, in Oakland, California, I was among 1,057 “aliens” who became American citizens. We took the oath. We were welcomed and congratulated. We were told not only that we could vote, but that we should vote and that we could run for office.

In 2016, the United States is going to “naturalize” 700,000 new citizens. At nearly 70 years old, I’ve achieved this belatedly in life and more than a century after the big immigration wave that brought millions of my compatriots to these shores.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: Shaking Up Facebook

Like every other voter preparing for the upcoming election, I often cruise Facebook to gauge the mood of my fellow citizens. Not that I’m a fan of the site. To me, Facebook has always seemed like an inversion of the old “banality of evil” trope: It is the evil of banality, a fount of never-ending Likes and emoticons and pictures of highly caloric restaurant meals and garish sunsets and Frisbee-catching dogs. It is an online Leave It to Beaver updated to the digital age, a place where we can all cozily catch up and be comfortable and make soft, murmuring sounds to each other.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: How to Feign Political Competence in Your 20s

In the Internet age, saying “I don’t know” about a political issue is considered socially unacceptable. After all, if we have all this information at our fingertips, the least we can do is a quick Google search. Like, really. It’s the least we can do. And the least is what most people do.

It’s hard to take a long look in the mirror and see blatant indecision staring back at you. So to avoid this self-reflection, there are ways to fake political knowledge. You know you don’t know anything about politics, but nobody else has to know that.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

End Your Summer On a High Note: Bear Music Fest

The weekend of September 9, the Cal Alumni Association’s family camp, The Lair of the Golden Bear, hosts its inaugural musical festival, Bear Music Fest. Part of a typical all-inclusive Lair weekend, the festival performances will take place across two of the three primary campsites, and feature artists representative of the Bay Area music scene.

Don’t Freeze: Targeted Violence Training Teaches Students to Act

Since 2000, at least 160 “active-shooter” incidents have occurred in the United States, according to an FBI study from 2000-2013. And shootings have become more frequent—from 6.4 incidents annually in the first seven years of the study, to 16.4 in the last seven. Like many institutions, the University of California has responded by making training available.

I Support Her, OK I Said It: Or, One Voter Steps out of the Hillary Closet

I voted for Bernie in the California primaries just to tell my friends I did, hung my head in what I hoped was convincing dismay when he lost, and quietly buzzed with excitement over the idea of giving my vote to Hillary in November, what I hoped from the start. I’m playing the long game here.

Wheel of Time: A Grieving Mother Sees All Her Alma Mater Offers, and What it Lacks

The campus was shining as only our spectacular splotch of Bay Area real estate can do. Clusters of high school kids posed for pictures at the university they hoped to attend. Cal T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, and athletic jackets sauntered by. Frisbees flew, and a giant dog galloped over to offer a passionate greeting that left me happily cloaked in white fur.

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Guilt Trip: How to Justify a Bargain Vacation in Beleaguered Greece

From the start, the whole trip seemed haphazard and conceptually incoherent. What was the rationale, our friends asked, for spending a week in the Czech Republic followed by 10 days in Greece and four in Paris?

The simple, reasonable answer: Horse-trading. It was our 20th anniversary and my husband, Dan, and I had learned that collaborative skill of long-term couples through trial and therapy. Dan would pick a place and I would pick a place, and we would start and end in Paris, the home of close friends and a hub for cheap non-stop flights.

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Famous in Guinea-Bissau: In Africa, Berkeley Band Becomes ‘Non-Militarized Face’ of USA

 Drenched in sweat, I rushed to pack up my cello before the crowd stormed the stage again. It was dark, and all the dancing had filled the hot air with reddish dust. We’d just finished our set, and I couldn’t wait to get my gear locked up in the van so I could relax. But as I knelt down to pick up my rosin, the mob of kids rushed my bandmate Brendan and slammed his back against the wall. By the time I turned, a sea of hands and fingers were rippling over his entire body.

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Frat Friends Forever: Monk and Lawyer with a Disability Agree on Almost Nothing, But…

So a lawyer with a disability and a Catholic monk walk into a bar…

What would be considered a bar joke for some is actually a description of a night with a friend for me.

In an era where the only difference between American politics and a WWE match is the amount of spandex involved, the time is right for me to tell the story of why I have regular phone conversations with a Catholic deacon.

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