University of California

Hidden Treasures: Take Home a Masterpiece from Doe Library

Compared to the opulent and tranquil UC Berkeley Morrison Library, the modest adjoining art storage room, at first glance, isn’t much to write home about.

But looks can be deceiving; what it lacks in appearance, it makes up with cultural richness. The Graphic Arts Loan Collection (GALC)—peeling white shelves, offset by dusty linoleum floors—houses more than 800 original pieces of art, diverse as the university itself.

Can’t Beat the Devil? Eat the Devil.

It’s as ugly as a box of rocks and a literal scum-sucker to boot. But don’t judge a fish by its exterior: The dietary proclivities of the South American armored catfish excite aquarium hobbyists, who employ the homely bottom feeders to hoover up the algae and slime that accrete to their tanks.

Q&A: Last Week’s UC-Wide Workers’ Strike

The three-day strike of UC’s ten campuses and five medical centers is over, and the 24,000 service employees represented by AFSCME Local 3299 have, presumably, gone back to work, cleaning buildings, preparing and serving food in the dorms, and generally performing all the quotidian and often dreary chores required to keep the greatest public university complex on the planet functioning. The picketers were joined in a sympathy strike by 29,000 nurses and other medical staffers.

James Rickman Leads Playboy In the #MeToo Era

A visitor walks between Roc Nation and United Talent Agencies until she reaches the heavy glass doors of a beige building in a Beverly Hills office park: once inside, she tells the lobby attendant she has an appointment with Playboy magazine. If the visitor has an A cup and a complexion that can be accurately described as “dapple-gray,” the attendant will still permit her to access the elevator, provided the visitor has an appointment. (Fortunately, I did.) The attendant will not laugh; this is a city of dreamers.

A Cal Labor Expert Explains Hidden Restaurant Industry Practices

Saru Jayaraman, director of UC Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center and lecturer with the Goldman School of Public Policy, has spent the last two decades advocating on behalf of restaurant workers. This may not seem glamorous but Jayaraman’s efforts recently brought her to the red carpet alongside comedian Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes, to HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and to interviews with NPR and 60 Minutes.

Is WaterFix Another Megaproject Gone Awry?

The 20 th century was the century of the megaproject, and as usual, California pointed the way for the nation. Southern California’s freeway system and the State Water Project, both largely completed by the 1970s, were mighty testaments to the conceit that we could build our way out of any problem. That view, of course, has since been tempered by inconvenient realities.

Michael Pollan and Me: When Lives, Books and Acid Trips Collide

Two journalists who’ve spent varying amounts of time teaching their craft at Cal give themselves an assignment that, in the end, blows away that well-worn rubric of “who, what, where, when, why.”

They are Michael Pollan, famous for his smart writing about food, and Don Lattin, a.k.a. me, known for my reverently irreverent writing about religion. Pollan and I found a subject that falls within each of our “beats,” a magic mushroom that offers the omnivore a tantalizing glimpse of God.  

Save the Drama For Your Llama: Cal’s First Llamapalooza

It was a Friday morning and I was feeling distressed, unsettled. Maybe because I sensed the stress of Cal students as finals week approached… or maybe it was the bad lamb I had the night before. Regardless of cause, there was one thing for certain: I needed a reason to smile (and to get a paycheck). So I grabbed my notebook and headed to Llamapalooza, UC Berkeley’s first llama festival, in the hopes of lightening my emotional load.

Silicon Valley Wants to Hack Your Kid’s School

For some years now, Republicans have endeavored to “fix” American education by promoting charter schools, vouchers and merit-based raises. Progressives typically have decried these efforts, maintaining they come at the expense of public schools, particularly public schools that serve disadvantaged students. Variation in educational achievement, they claim, has more to do with student demographics, district funding and English proficiency than, say, the educational chops of individual teachers.

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook Celebrates the Unusual and Unknown

When I go to Berkeley Bowl with Laura McLively, I immediately feel like a tourist, too delighted to keep my cool among the rows of citrus and loose leafy greens. Used to produce sold in hard plastic clamshells at my Los Angeles Trader Joe’s, I marvel at the wall of eggplants, not just purple but white, green, and some—like the tiny, speckled Indian graffiti eggplant—all three colors at once.

Press-Democrat Staff on Surviving the Fires and Winning Pulitzer

The North Bay fires were national news mere hours after they ignited early in the morning of October 9. The dawn sun, glimmering wanly through the pall of smoke cloaking Sonoma and Napa Counties, illuminated the smoldering ruins of hundreds of homes. No relief was imminent: the hot, dry winds that had sent the flames howling from Calistoga to Santa Rosa continued unabated, and the forecast was for more of the same.  This was a natural catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina—possibly worse.

New Report: How UC Can Meet Its Ambitious 2025 Carbon Neutrality Goal

The University of California believes it can go carbon neutral by 2025. That means zero carbon emissions from powering its buildings and vehicles on all ten campuses. But according to a recent report and related commentary by experts from across the system in the journal Nature, it could be a tough goal to reach. That’s a position shared by Berkeley professor and energy expert Dan Kammen, who was not affiliated with the report. “We’re not actually on pace for our 2025 goal,” he said—more like 2035 or 2040.

“Toe-to-Toe with the Rooskies?” We Ask Steven Weber

The Mideast returned to a high boil last week with the launching of more than a hundred cruise missiles by the U.S., Britain and France against Syrian chemical weapons depots. In the run-up to the strike, President Donald Trump lashed out against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia, tweeting promises of destruction from above:  “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice, and new and ‘smart!’” Trump inveighed.

Retiring Cal Bands Director Robert Calonico’s Many Musical Lives

Robert Calonico hasn’t been leading a secret life, but his nocturnal activities might shock the thousands of students who’ve played under his baton. During his four-decade career as a band director, including a 28-year reign as Cal’s director of bands, which is rapidly coming to an end, Calonico has quietly maintained a thriving practice as a top-shelf saxophonist and clarinetist. 

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