University of California

Myth of the Dropout: “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” Never Really Described Berkeley Ethos

Timothy Leary’s dead, but his legend lives on—albeit on life support.

The acid guru died at his home in Beverly Hills in 1996 at age 75. By then he was no longer the Pied Piper he’d once been, the public figure whose most popular slogan, “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” made him the bogeyman of the establishment—a figure Richard Nixon once called “the most dangerous man in America.”

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

The Ballad of John and Helen: Berkeley-Based Meyer Sound Are Global Audio Pioneers

Drop out. It’s such a leaden term. Yes, yes, Helen Brodsky dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1968, dashing the hopes and dreams of her Cal alumni-laden family. Before even declaring a major (she was leaning toward Russian Lit), she and her new boyfriend, John Meyer, an autodidact with a gift for tinkering and engineering, decided that unsettled times called for adventurous spirits, and lit out for the East, ending up in India.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Learning to Listen: Why Better Health Care May Start with a Simple “How Are You?”

After her second above-the-knee amputation, Ms. G., a 56-year-old woman with diabetes mellitus, started refusing her dialysis and wouldn’t tell the medical team why. Jodi Halpern, hen just a trainee on the psychiatric service, was sent to investigate. On entering the hospital room, Halpern recalls finding the woman in agonizing pain. When Halpern sat down to talk to her, Ms. G. eventually opened up and explained that her husband was divorcing her because he no longer loved her after her amputations. Halpern recalls explaining to her supervisors that Ms. G.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Natural by Design: Next-Gen Robots Run, Flap, Crawl—and Talk to Each Other

Imagine a city in the near future devastated by a powerful earthquake. Rescue workers arrive and unleash hundreds of tiny robots. Some of these robots flap into the air with “wings,” sending images of the disaster area to the ground team—a swarm of insect-like devices the size of a matchbox that scuttle over the concrete and disappear into crevices. One robot’s sensors detect a person trapped under the rubble, so it signals to a larger, stronger robot for assistance before moving on to the next building.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Saving the Sequoias: The Most Magisterial of Trees in California Face a Big Risk

Ronald Reagan was (in)famously unmoved by ancient forests, claiming that “when you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all.” But most of us still feel a frisson when we stroll among old-growth trees, particularly when they’re the biggest dang trees on the planet: Sequoiadendron giganteum, otherwise known as giant sequoias. (That’s biggest by volume, by the way. Coast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, may be taller but typically are more slender.)

Researching Discontent: Here’s Why a Regime May Need—and Secretly Want—Protests

“Do you really want to have secret informants in every single village?”

It’s a question Peter L. Lorentzen has pondered quite a bit. After all, he’s an expert in uncovering discontent among the masses within authoritarian regimes. Secret informants, he asserts, are expensive and not always accurate. So the world’s dictators are likely using other tactics.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Killing It in Berkeley: Richard Pryor Crushed His ‘Cosby’ to Become Comedy’s Top Badass

Richard Pryor was snoozing, draped across the back seat of a car driven by an erudite, bespectacled white man named Alan Farley. It was February of 1971 and Pryor was fleeing Los Angeles, trailing personal and professional casualties: three children with three different women, a few high-profile onstage breakdowns, two parents recently deceased, a flop debut album, and one angry manager who quit after Pryor pistol-whipped him in a tiff over money.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Stressed-Out Students: UC Campuses Strain to Meet Soaring Need for Counseling

When did going to college get so stressful?

Nationwide, more students than ever say they feel anxious and depressed—at some point last year, almost a third were so depressed that they said they found it hard to function, according to the American College Health Association. The problem is particularly acute at top tier schools: About 15 percent of UC Berkeley students have used campus counseling services, up from 10 percent five years ago. At UCLA, the number has jumped to 20 percent.

Lick Gets Googled—But Is Cool Million Enough to Save the Endangered Observatory?

For everyone who cares about saving the University of California’s cash-strapped Lick Observatory, news that Google is donating $1 million is a boon in more ways than one. Not only will the contribution—a full third of Lick’s current barebones operating budget—support the observatory’s day-to-day activities, but it’s already inspiring other donors to chip in.

Political Payoffs: With Software and Sweat, MapLight Connects Campaign Money to Votes

It’s hardly news that money has a corrosive effect on the political process. Well, maybe it’s news of the dog-bites-man variety: Your jaw isn’t likely to drop to your clavicle in shock, total shock, when you hear that Senator So-and-So voted to deregulate the highly-polluting widget industry shortly after receiving a hefty campaign contribution from Widget Amalgamated.

One Fewer Radical at Berkeley: Emma Goldman Papers Forced to Go Elsewhere

Managing an archive is like herding cats: You think everything is moving in the right direction, and suddenly you’re out wandering around the suburbs, looking for a lost tabby—or in the case of the archivist, the dusty stacks in search of some elusive source material.

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