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2018 Winter Play

How to Sit Better, and Other Questions

Five Questions for Galen Cranz, Professor Emerita of Architecture. You’ve been working on ethnography and space. What are some examples of other cultures’ uses of space that we could learn from? The English pub offers a wide range of ways to sit or stand while socializing. The English have barstools at perching height that support […]

Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Gambling and the Inevitable Remorse

So you’re in Vegas at the penny slots, and you promise yourself you’ll only play a dollar. That’s it! No more. Just enough to have the Vegas experience. If you win, you may regret not wagering a ten-spot to get a bigger jackpot. If you lose, you’ll probably regret sitting at the machine at all. […]

These Robots Are Learning the Old-Fashioned Way—By Playing

For all the loose talk about the Singularity and Skynet, it’s pretty clear we have a long way to go before we’re in the thrall of a malign artificial intelligence (AI) intent on harnessing us for our precious mammalian bio-electricity, à la The Matrix. Still, some of the robots at the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research […]

Necessary Roughness

A century ago, football was in big trouble. History has a way of repeating. It was a sunny November Saturday at California Field and the stands brimmed with 20,000 boisterous fans. Banners waved, blue-and-gold streamers unfurled, and the usual cheers of “Oski Wow Wow! Whiskey Wee Wee!” went up as players took the field. Until […]

Go Play! You Can Read This Later.

Back already? Okay then, read on. It was during the Great Malaise of the Jimmy Carter years that Zippy the Pinhead, clown prince of non sequiturs, first wondered, “Are we having fun yet?” The questioner was a simpleton, but time has endowed his question with the ring of profundity. Or is that an alarm bell? […]