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2012 Fall Politics Issue

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Will the first man to signal the most famous touchdown in history please come to the courtesy phone? The 30th anniversary of the The Play approaches this fall with its legion of honor seemingly set in stone: The Fantastic Four—Kevin Moen, Richard Rodgers, Dwight Garner, and Mariet Ford—earned their spot in history with a touchdown that […]

Grave Matters

Thomas Laqueur studies the role of cemeteries in civilization. The way my mother told the story, it was only by the frailest of good fortune that her father and all his descendants, herself included, came to exist. On a gloomy spring day not long after the Civil War, her grandfather had been plowing a grown-over field when […]

Tea and Sympathy

The Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies—formerly called the Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements—opened in March 2009, just a month after the Tea Party was officially founded. The timing was pure coincidence. Executive director Lawrence Rosenthal says he was putting the center together just as “the Bush government was closing down”—apparently taking the […]

His Truth is Marching On

Rousas John Rushdoony and the rise of Christian conservatives. The nerve center of the Christian Reconstruction movement is located in the tiny Gold Rush town of Vallecito, about three hours east of San Francisco, off Highway 4. The founder of the movement, the late conservative theologian Rousas John Rushdoony ’38, C.Sing. ’39, M.A. ’40, relocated here […]

The Big State that Couldn’t

California, the giant adolescent, has been outgrowing its governmental clothes, now, for a hundred years,” Carey McWilliams, the state’s greatest chronicler, wrote in 1949. More than 60 years later, state government has still failed to catch up with the growth, diversity, energy, ambition, and chicanery that have shaped California. Here’s why: Constitutional chaos: In 1879 […]

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 […]

The Empty Town Hall

The decline of newspapers has left Americans without a common source of information. Somewhere, deep in my jaded heart, the America I want to believe in still lives, and it has a very specific image: Freedom of Speech, a Norman Rockwell oil painting commissioned in 1943 by The Saturday Evening Post. My father hung a print […]

Does Your Vote Really Count? Why the Act of Voting is Irrational

If the 2008 presidential election is any guide, the odds your vote will make a difference in the state of California are slim. Very slim. One in a billion, according to a study by Berkeley law and economics professor Aaron Edlin and his colleagues. The researchers based their estimate on multiplying the probability that your […]

Un-making Waves

A Berkeley engineer tames the seas. University research has entered uncharted waters before, but perhaps not as literally as Mohammad-Reza Alam’s. If his work is successful, those heading out to sea in future years may worry less about the effects of waves and storms. The new assistant mechanical engineering professor discovered a trick of physics that […]

Something in the Air

Berkeley scientists take a closer look at CO2. Although most people realize global warming is threatening the environment, it’s tough to understand the exact impact on our lives. Berkeley chemistry professor Ronald Cohen hopes to change that by zooming in on what’s going on right in our back yards. “We don’t need more measurements of […]

Frozen in Time

Berkeley scientists take flash-freezing on the road. Postdoctoral Earth and planetary science researcher Birgit Luef strides through the cramped labs deep in the bowels of campus’s Donner Lab. She’s making for a handy new device she helped develop—something called a “portable cryo-plunger”—a slender cylinder sitting on one of the tables. On this particular day the most […]

Tapping the Forest

To secure water for California, scientists look to the trees. The recent history of the forests of the western Sierra Nevada goes something like this: Cut down all the trees for timber, leave the trees to grow back for wildlife habitat, cut down some of the trees for fire suppression, leave some of the trees alone […]