UC Berkeley

A Lunch at Chez Panisse Inspired the Imagination, the Palate and a Dissertation

If you’re going for a Ph.D. in business, there are plenty of American universities where you can get this prized degree, but only one of them is less than a mile from the birthplace of California cuisine. Sohyeong Kim was an aspiring Ph.D. student on the day in 2009 when her faculty advisor took her to lunch at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, changing both her outlook on eating and her dissertation topic.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Branding the Elements: Berkeley Stakes its Claims on the Periodic Table

Let the other universities brand themselves with the presidents they’ve produced, the corporations they’ve midwifed, their location in a small town outside of Boston, or their number one football team.

At Berkeley, we’re OK with being number 97. On the periodic table of elements. You may have heard of “the table,” as we call it around here. It’s sort of the ingredients list for the universe. All of it, including presidents, corporations, slushy college towns, and inferior (spiritually) football teams.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Club Red: Traveling Along the Edge of Post-Fidel Cuba

We are wrapped in sweaters and sitting in an air-conditioned Chinese-made bus as it glides quietly, frigidly through the Cuban countryside. Outside, it’s about 80 degrees and humid, and people walk past the bus or congregate on corners, dressed in shorts and tank tops.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Stunned Legislature Halts Move to Diversify Colleges Amid Asian American Backlash

A proposed state constitutional amendment that aimed to diversify California’s public universities—but which some opponents dubbed “the most racist bill in the history of California”—has been put on ice. At least for now.

This week’s news that Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 will not be taken up by the state Assembly marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for the bill, which sailed through the Senate in January on a 27-to-9 vote.

Is 2014 the Tipping Point? Activist Researcher Fights to Raise Wages of Restaurant Workers

Big tips make headlines. Consider the almost $500 gratuity on a $6 bill received by a Steak ‘n’ Shake waitress in Indianapolis, or the $1,000 that host Ellen DeGeneres gave Edgar Martiroysan, the pizza delivery guy at the Academy awards. But reality is far less lucrative for most restaurant workers, many of whom struggle to make ends meet in a notoriously low-paid industry.

Finally, A Way to Diversify Cal Universities? Or “The Most Racist Bill” in State History?

Shien Biau Woo is a self-professed liberal. As a Democrat, he was lieutenant governor of Delaware and was once the party’s nominee for the U.S.  Senate. The organization he co-founded, the 80-20 Initiative, advocates for equal rights and opportunity for Asian Americans and twice endorsed Barack Obama.

And yet, says Woo: “Some liberals—and I classify myself as a liberal—they’re crazy. They have crazy theories.”

Preschoolers Really Do Outsmart Adults: Here’s How They Do It

My not-quite-2-year-old can’t articulate beyond the monosyllabic level: “Ma” and “Pa,” of course, and “Wa” for water. But what really gets him jacked is his “La”: an old iPad that is now his exclusive, if crusty and sticky, property. He plays games that still confound me, and cruises the internet with ease, ferreting out YouTube clips and videos that amuse him. In short, when watching him, I sometimes get the uneasy feeling that I’m witnessing the evolution of a (terribly cute n’ cuddly) cyborg: O brave new world, That has such people in’t, etc.

The Weather When You Were In Utero? Study Suggests it Influences Your Heart Attack Risk

Fall and winter birthdays can be a real drag.

September celebrants will forever have their special days clouded by the beginning of a new school year. October through December birthdays are too closely clustered to all the good holidays, leaving the rest of the year a giftless wasteland. And while all the Geminis and Cancers get to have their parties in the park, the children of winter are forced to blow out their candles indoors and out of the gloom.

Piranha Defense

Amidst the murky waters of the Amazon, there aren’t many creatures immune to the serrated mouth of a hungry piranha—but the Arapaima gigas fears naught.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

You Can’t Say That! Is It Time to Write the Epitaph for Epithets?

Pity the poor bigot. The racist, the homophobe, the sexist—nowadays, they launch their contumelies at their own peril. It’s not that we’ve all learned to link hands and sing “Kumbaya” in high, clear tenors, of course. Bile remains a most abundant humor, as demonstrated by any website that allows anonymous comments.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

Cliffs Notes for Climate Change? Science Panels Create a Primer on the Planet’s Fate

No wonder so many scientists are at their wits’ end when it comes to climate change: Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that the planet is warming—and that human activity is much to blame—the public remains skeptical. In fact, one poll indicates that nearly 2 out of 5 Americans believe global warming is just a hoax.

Not to mention that some of those climate change deniers are member of Congress.

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