In my first months as chancellor, I’ve been thinking a lot about journeys. I remember vividly the first one I made to California to take up my faculty position here. I was a young, freshly minted Ph.D.; I drove across the country with a friend, and it was the first time I had been west of the Mississippi. Indeed, it was the first time I had been west of Philadelphia.
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
I am a nudist by nature and an exhibitionist by inclination, so when streaking became a thing on college campuses, I was on the front lines. It was 1974, my second quarter at UC Berkeley. An 18-year-old free of parental oversight, I plunged headlong into whatever I felt like plunging into. By day I studied Marxist philosophy en route to a degree in political science, but the night belonged to cheap booze, Afghan hash, and windowpane LSD.
1 California Magazine: You were born in Shanghai to Russian-Jewish refugees who, after WWII, moved to Hong Kong and then Tokyo. You attended college in Canada and eventually settled in Berkeley and became a U.S. citizen. How did your upbringing inform your academic interests?
The Turing Award is basically “the Nobel prize of computing,” named after the founding father of the field and given to those who kick the most butt in computer science. So if you had to guess which university has won the most awards over the last half-century, you’d probably say Massachusetts Institute of Technology, maybe Carnegie Mellon.
Posted on June 27, 2017 - 3:01pm
When I was five years old, I was entered into my first swimming competition.
Waiting for my event to begin, I stood at the edge of the pool, nervous and unsure of myself. The buzzer went off, and I dove into the pool. I swam my heart out, loving the feeling of adrenaline coursing through my veins. The cheering of the crowd was muffled underwater, making me feel a world away. As I reached the end of the pool and the race, I raised my head out of the water and the sounds of the crowd burst back to full volume.
Posted on May 30, 2017 - 2:20pm
One of the best ways to flaunt your Earth-hugging bona fides these days is to buy an electric car. It shows you’re willing to put your money—a lot of your money—where your mouth is, assuming your mouth spends a fair amount of time declaiming on global warming, atmospheric carbon emissions, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and the sinister intentions of the global hydrocarbon extraction cabal. Buying a Tesla demonstrates you’re doing your part to keep our planet cool and green.
Posted on May 2, 2017 - 4:58pm
Chuck Berry is dead at age 90. He is considered one of the founders of rock ‘n’ roll, but Beatle John Lennon thought he was unrivaled, once saying, “If you had to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you’d call it Chuck Berry.” Unlike Elvis, Chuck Berry actually wrote all of his own songs. Elvis was a good performer, but Berry wrote songs that captured the teenage experience which was the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll.
Posted on April 25, 2017 - 10:44am
After the first of January, the real holiday season for canines starts—that week when discarded Christmas trees are laid next to compost bins, and all the neighborhood dogs take turns anointing them in their own special way.
The latest trendy theory among progressives is that emotions, not facts, are most effective in convincing conservative Americans to change their minds for the good of the country.
Posted on February 23, 2017 - 4:28pm
The deadline on Wednesday for activists protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to leave their encampment on the banks of the Missouri river follows months of contentiousness. Journalists covering the Standing Rock resistance—which at one point drew around 14,000 people—have faced myriad challenges.
Posted on February 22, 2017 - 4:00pm
On August 28, 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison from Paris about the French revolutionaries, relaying an important piece of strategic information: “Mirabeau is their chief.”
Posted on January 31, 2017 - 4:46pm
No state did Obamacare quite like California.
Here, we built our own state-insurance market. Here, we got a jumpstart on shifting low-income residents onto Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid program) as early as 2010. Here, insurance policies were standardized, consumer protections were tightened, and multi-lingual, statewide PR campaigns were kicked into overdrive. While other, redder states dragged their institutional heels, California took to the Affordable Care Act with gusto.
Posted on January 25, 2017 - 5:14pm
Over the course of the 2016 election, media companies wrestled with increasingly knotty ethical challenges—how to avoid false equivalencies in reporting, what to call a blatant lie, and how to respond professionally (impartially?) to a candidate who routinely called journalists “liars” and “scum”.
Posted on January 18, 2017 - 1:58pm