Author Archives: Guest contributor

UC Berkeley mascot Oski celebrates 75th birthday

Oski contemplates how to blow out the candle and eat his cupcake with a mouth that doesn’t open. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)
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By Berkeley News / Gretchen Kell

With his trademark cardigan, white gloves, high-stepping gait and goofy grin, Oski, UC Berkeley’s mascot, was created in 1941 to embody a perpetual college sophomore – growing in wisdom, but not yet grown up.

This week, Oski turns 75, but remains more sophomoric than geriatric. Busier than ever with some 300 events a year and his own Twitter handle, Facebook page and Lair of the Golden Bear camp, the furry-headed, mischievous icon isn’t about to retire, or act his age, anytime soon.

“Oski has a wide-eyed, childlike view of Cal, as if he’s thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m here,’ and that’s Oski every day,” says Mal Pacheco, a Cal Athletics volunteer adviser to the campus’s Oski Committee. “He personifies Cal spirit, and as long as Cal is Cal, Oski’s going to be that Cal spirit.”

Oski’s milestone birthday, Tuesday, Sept. 27, will be celebrated in a belated, but bear-sized, way. Events include a Homecoming 2016 pep rally on Sproul Plaza at noon on Friday, Sept. 30; apublic lecture immediately after that, at 1:15 p.m., called “Oski Bear and the Struggles of Being a 75th-Year Sophomore;” an Oski hat giveaway on Saturday, Oct. 1, atHomecoming headquarters before the Cal vs. Utah game; a ticketed Bear Affair Tailgate BBQ; and a special tribute on the football field. … Continue reading »

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Don Buchla, Influential Synthesizer Designer, Dead at 79

Don Buchla
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By Kevin L. Jones
KQED

Don Buchla, the electronic musical instrument designer who built one of the first modular synthesizers and whose influence on electronic music is still prevalent today, died Wednesday at the age of 79 from complications from cancer.

Born in South Gate, Calif. in 1937, Buchla attended UC Berkeley before founding his musical instrument company, Buchla & Associates, in 1962. He was soon commissioned by the influential San Francisco Tape Music Center to build an electronic instrument that could be controlled with voltage for experimental composers Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender.

With an additional $500 grant from the Rockfeller Foundation, Buchla designed and built the Buchla 100 series Modular Electronic Music System, the first-of-its-kind synthesizer combining multiple components that either generated or manipulated sounds.

Subotnick would use the instrument to write and record Silver Apples of the Moon, the first electronic music composition to be commissioned by a record company and the composer’s most popular work. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s radical roots on show in major London exhibit

A graphic by Jay Belloli made at the Berkeley Political Poster Workshop in 1970 is on display at the V&A exhibit.
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By Yasmin Anwar / UC Berkeley

A magical mystery tour of 1960s youth rebellion, which launches this month at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, has to include a stop at UC Berkeley.

Students here birthed the Free Speech Movement, led anti-Vietnam-war protests and occupied People’s Park. The campus is where anti-establishment gurus like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Timothy Leary, who urged a generation to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” cut their counterculture teeth.

Berkeley’s rich history of radicalism has thus earned it a place at the much-heralded V&A exhibit, “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-70,” which runs through Feb. 26.

The wildly eclectic retrospective features some 350 iconic artifacts, including a moon rock from NASA, shards of Jimi Hendrix’s smashed guitars, the first computer mouse and a kaftan worn by Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick at Woodstock. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Policy, not rhetoric needed to fight climate change

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I was frankly perplexed by Ben Gould’s recent op-ed attacking two forward-thinking environmental policies I have brought before the Berkeley City Council. One would expect that the Chair of the city’s Environmental Commission would embrace meaningful steps to combat climate change.

Mr. Gould’s premise is that green building policies, many of which will be mandated in 2020 – less than four years from now — by the State of California’s Zero Net Energy program, are actually cynical attempts to stop … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Why I disrupted Chez Panisse

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Friday night, I entered Berkeley’s world-famous Chez Panisse with a bouquet of flowers. I looked to Chez Panisse as an example of fine dining at its best. The sights and aroma all created a seductive mood in the restaurant. I was there with the flowers for a reason you might not expect, though: to remember the animals Chez Panisse was serving that night with a flower for each plate.

Commenters quickly noted that my … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Councilman Arreguín can’t greenwash his anti-housing policies

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Councilman Jesse Arreguín has put forward two items on Tuesday’s City Council agenda which impose infeasible requirements for new housing construction while making one-acre farms the easiest thing to build in Berkeley. While they’re presented as necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, looking through the nearly 50 pages of recommendations, it’s pretty clear that these proposals aren’t really about reducing emissions. They’re a laundry list of ideas that look and sound green, but have little actual benefit for the environment. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Draft bicycle plan is good, but not good enough

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Berkeley’s draft bicycle plan, released Aug. 29, is a good improvement over its current plan, and is better than most bicycle plans currently under development in other East Bay cities such as Concord, Pleasanton and Moraga. But Bike East Bay members and thousands of people who bicycle in Berkeley every day have higher expectations for the number 2 city in the US for bike commuting.

As explained below, in order to meet Mayor Tom Bates’ stated goal of having the … Continue reading »

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Operating ‘the world’s largest video game’: Reba Siero retires from storied career at Berkeley Lab

Reba Siero at the 88-Inch Cyclotron. (Credit: Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)
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By Glenn Roberts Jr. / Berkeley Lab

Catherine “Reba” Siero’s comfort zone is here in the control room, surrounded by walls bristling with a busy mix of modern and time-tested knobs, dials, buttons, glowing lights, switches and screens.

For the past 23 years Siero, who is retiring next month, has served as an accelerator operator at the 88-Inch Cyclotron, a powerful particle-beam machine that started up 54 years ago at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), then managed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Her career at the lab stretches back about 37 years, first as a UC Berkeley student conducting biology research at Berkeley Lab. From 1981-93 she ran the control system for particle-beam-based medical treatments at the lab’s Bevatron accelerator, an early version of a machine called a synchrotron.

Siero moved to the 88-Inch Cyclotron when the Bevatron — responsible for pioneering cancer treatments, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the antiproton, and the discovery of the antineutron  —was decommissioned in 1993.

“This is the world’s largest video game,” Siero says as she begins the methodical process of releasing a powerful beam accelerated by the cyclotron’s 300-ton copper and steel magnet toward a heavily shielded experimental chamber called a “cave.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Why the Pacific School of Religion/Mather Holy Hill project is bad for Berkeley

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The Mather LifeWays project proposed for the Pacific School of Religion campus and its surroundings has the potential to do great harm to the Northside neighborhood and to Berkeley as a whole.

The over-scaled senior housing development would do away with the beloved historic PSR campus, an oasis on the hill. Gone will be the beautiful open space, the western vista, and all but one of the campus’s architecturally significant buildings.

The Mather development would tear the fabric of a residential neighborhood, … Continue reading »

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Cal opens first kosher dining spot in UC system

Café 3 on the UC Berkeley campus, designed by Mesher Shing Architects. Photo: Courtesy UC Berkeley Communications
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By Joel Bahr / UC Berkeley

Cal Dining has just opened the first dining station in the UC system that is certified kosher. It is designed to appeal not only to the Jewish community on campus, but also to Muslims who eat halal foods, as well as students who are vegetarian and vegan.

The new food station is part of an overall revamping of Café 3 to emphasize plant-forward meals that are sourced locally and sustainably. This is in line with Cal Dining’s overall goal of producing menus that are both nutritious and sustainable.

“We’re focused on creating more plant-forward menus on campus,” said Shawn LaPean, Cal Dining’s executive director. The kosher option, which will feature certified meats, is largely an extension the university’s aim to feed to a broader range of palates and food cultures.

“Not only will the menu at Café 3 be much healthier and more sustainable, but it’s also in line with some of the larger trends we’re seeing nationwide,” said LaPean.

Located at 2400 Durant Ave., Café 3 features eight different dining stations, including the kosher-certified station, a Mediterranean bar that is also kosher, an omelet bar that exclusively uses organic and cage-free eggs, a salad bar that uses locally grown produce, a pizza station, a local cheese bar, a grill with plant-forward sandwiches and entrée items, and a vegan and vegetarian station inspired by international flavors. … Continue reading »

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Britt Badgley Alamo: Beloved educator and mother, a fierce and fervent fighter

Britt Badgley Alamo, holding her daughter, Elsa, who is now 7. Photo: Courtesy
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Fiercely outspoken at times, at other times unmoved by the ring of the phone, Britt Badgley Alamo was underestimated. She could spit fire. She was a doting mother and a caring wife; a child, herself, who carved a way in a world that she struggled to make sense of. 

Born into a world of complexity and strife, she was smart and heady; and, she became studious at an early age: reading, questioning, exploring. Somehow she set out on one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, paths a woman in her shoes could follow: She became a public school teacher in a setting where some students are undernourished, abused at home, or cannot read and write. 

She knew her students’ parents and called them to task when needed; she called Child Protective Services when a child looked like she hadn’t eaten enough; she was also, as her colleague Martha Cain puts it, the sunshine club at Longfellow Middle in Berkeley, known for her energy and enthusiasm.

See the GoFundMe page.

Britt was active in the school district’s union as site representative. She traveled to other cities to canvas on college campuses for union support and she walked in protests. Britt believed fervently in the right to quality, free public education for all students regardless of where they come from or who they are. Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Proposed Berkeley development on Adeline highlights key community issues

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Who Berkeley residents vote onto the Berkeley City Council this November could dramatically alter how the city looks in the future. The Berkeley City Council currently stands divided, with pro-development council members claiming the majority of votes, but that could all change once ballots are cast this fall. While some on the council favor more aggressive development as a way to abate the housing affordability crisis, others take issue with the rampant building that tends to favor affluent residents while displacing those without large … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley visitor center to open at Memorial Stadium

The new Koret Visitors Center at Cal Memorial Stadium opens Sept. 1. Photo UC Berkeley/Brittany Hosea-Small
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By Joel Bahr / UC Berkeley

Despite playing host to 175,000 visitors per year, UC Berkeley has never had a permanent location to welcome guests and prospective students. That will change on Sept. 1 with the opening of the Koret Visitor Center at California Memorial Stadium.

Featuring themed alcoves, video boards, timelines chronicling the university’s illustrious history and an interactive world map that showcases Berkeley’s global impact, the Koret Visitor Center will be a place that champions the campus’s accomplishments while also welcoming in future generations of Berkeley students, their families and the general public.

“It’s a place where guests and visitors from around the world will come to hear the Berkeley story,” says La Dawn Duvall, executive director of visitor and parent services. … Continue reading »

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