University of California

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. Read more about Preschoolers Really Do Outsmart Adults: Here's How They Do It »

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. Read more about Cliffs Notes for Climate Change? Science Panels Create a Primer on the Planet's Fate »

Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another

The first time Larry Zhou traveled outside of China, it was to start his freshman year at Berkeley in 2010. The University’s bid to admit more international students—they would enhance campus diversity and pay sticker-price tuition—brought a surge of foreign arrivals with Zhou. More than a third came from Chinese territories.

Zhou, now a senior, had studied British English in high school in Suzhou, about 65 miles west of Shanghai. He did so well on a language test that his school encouraged him to study abroad, and he garnered a high verbal SAT score as well. Read more about Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another »

The Kids Are Alright

If you’re reading this, you were once a child. We won’t all become parents, or get married, or live to a ripe old age, but we’ve all experienced childhood. And yet, for all its universality, it is by no means a fixed idea or immutable reality. Our very notions of childhood—the nature of the experience, what expectations and privileges attend to it, how long it lasts—these things have changed with time and circumstance, and differ across cultures. Read more about The Kids Are Alright »

From the Spring 2013 Growing Up issue of California.

Shades of Brown: The Once and Current Governor Reckons With His Own Legacy

Note: Jerry Brown was overwhelmingly re-elected to a fourth term as governor in 2014, benefiting from economic recovery and state budget stability following voter-approved tax hikes. “I jump out of bed and I want to go,” he said on election night. “So tomorrow I’ll be there, figuring out, you know, what the hell you do in a fourth term.” The story that follows was written in 2012, during Brown’s third term, when the economic outlook for the Golden State was still very much uncertain. 

  Read more about Shades of Brown: The Once and Current Governor Reckons With His Own Legacy »

From the Fall 2012 Politics Issue issue of California.

What a Way to Go: Woman Who Created the Darwin Awards Wants to be a Winner Someday

Wendy Northcutt has made a host of obscure people famous, and although very few lived to savor their notoriety, she anticipates one day sharing their dubious honor. It almost happened when a recent heat wave gave her the idea to “air-condition” her sweltering home: She pried up an oubliette floor grate in her hallway, intending to install a fan to suck up the basement’s cooler air. But she left to answer the phone, and hours later she strode back down the hall and obliviously stepped into the gaping hole. In the milliseconds as her body swooshed down, she thought “Oh nooooooooooo! Read more about What a Way to Go: Woman Who Created the Darwin Awards Wants to be a Winner Someday »

From the Summer 2011 The Soundtrack of Berkeley issue of California.

Get Thee to a Nonery

For those of a certain age, Sproul Plaza today seems like an analog locale on Bizarro World, the cube-shaped planet from the Superman comics where everything is backwards. In the 1960s and 1970s, of course, Sproul was a hotbed of social activism. And to an extent, that remains true: The placards are still abundant, and there are plenty of undergrads handing out flyers and advocating in earnest. Read more about Get Thee to a Nonery »

From the Spring 2011 Articles of Faith issue of California.

Strange Renderings: The Secret Geographies of UC Berkeley’s Trevor Paglen

The light is fading on a bitter-cold December afternoon in Berkeley, and Trevor Paglen is talking about spy satellites. Specifically, he’s explaining how hard it is to photograph them—not just because our government doesn’t want us to know they’re there but also because they’re a long way away. “You’re basically trying to shoot something the size of a car on the other side of the Earth, but actually it’s even farther,” he says, his words dissolving into a machine-gun laugh. Read more about Strange Renderings: The Secret Geographies of UC Berkeley's Trevor Paglen »

From the Spring 2010 Searchlight on Gray Areas issue of California.

What it Was Really Like to Be the First Black Lawyer in Justice Dept’s Civil Rights Division

Thelton Eugene Henderson didn’t study the civil rights movement; he lived it. After earning his law degree from UC Berkeley in 1962, he joined the Justice Department as the first African-American lawyer in its civil rights division. Working with his mentor and fellow Cal grad, John Doar, Henderson traveled often to the South to monitor law enforcement on civil rights cases. He investigated the famous case of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls. Read more about What it Was Really Like to Be the First Black Lawyer in Justice Dept's Civil Rights Division »

From the January February 2008 25 Ideas on the Verge issue of California.

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