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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted on August 31, 2016 - 2:11pm
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.
Posted on August 29, 2016 - 12:19pm
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.
Posted on July 11, 2016 - 3:35pm
Ever since I was a little kid watching my first conventions in 1952—the veep nominees were Richard Nixon and John Sparkman—I’ve been fascinated by the characters who occupy the number two spot.
Posted on June 30, 2016 - 5:35pm
It was all going entirely too well, beginning with the weather.
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.
It was late afternoon on a glorious day in October. My friend Natasha and I were picking our way down a country lane, toward the train station in a village about an hour from Moscow’s Kievsky train station. Our close friends, a lesbian couple, owned a dacha in the village, a cozy cottage where a group of us gathered often to escape the city.
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.
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.
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.
Posted on May 31, 2016 - 10:32pm
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.
Posted on April 21, 2016 - 5:39pm