Berkeley in the News Archive

The links to the stories summarized on this page are time sensitive, so stories might no longer be online at that URL. We also include links to the original source publication itself.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

1. Economic Mobility Is New Partisan Flashpoint
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

A story about Washington policy battles revolving around the growing economic-opportunity gap cites research co-authored by economics professor Emmanuel Saez. His study found that the percentage of total income going to the top 10 percent of earners in 2012 exceeded that of the 1920s. Another story citing Professor Saez's research appeared in The Economist. Full Story

2. For poor, health can wane toward end of month
San Francisco Chronicle

This research round-up includes a brief about an effort, led by Berkeley and Stanford professors, calling for more stringent standards and transparency in social science research. The professors charge that researchers are rewarded more when they promise novel, tidy or statistically significant results, rather than more nuanced or mixed findings, and that scholarly journals have lax oversight over mistaken and confusing data. The resolution they propose would include having researchers document and disclose information about their data collection and analysis, provide step-by-step accounts of how they will analyze data before they actually see it, and archive and share research materials that will allow independent researchers to weigh in. Full Story

3. Here's A Horrifying Picture Of What Sleep Loss Will Do To You
Huffington Post

A story about the health risks of sleep deprivation cites a study co-authored by Berkeley and Harvard researchers, which found through Magnetic Resonance Imaging that sleep loss causes the brain's emotional centers to become more than 60 percent more reactive. "It's almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses," says senior author Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory. "Emotionally, you're not on a level playing field." Full Story

4. Microinsurance: A hard sell
The Economist

A story about microinsurance as a means to promote rural development in poor countries cites a new paper by economists at Berkeley and the University of Auvergne. The authors believe that while weather insurance is often undervalued, offering it to groups of farmers may encourage greater usage. Full Story

5. Are Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Living Up to Their Promises in China?
Time Magazine

The non-profit Global Network Initiative has issued a report card with passing grades on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft's success at fulfilling their pledge to protect user privacy and freedom of expression in repressive countries, such as China. Law professor Deirdre Mulligan, a G.N.I. member, says that she hopes more companies will join the program. “You have to start somewhere,” she said. “While it’s only three companies, they have an inordinate reach across the globe.” Full Story

6. Attitudes About Commuting
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

A Berkeley study about commute satisfaction is cited for having found that commuters' attitudes switch from satisfaction to dissatisfaction when their commute takes 46 minutes or longer. Full Story

7. Experts Blog: Investing Newbies, Stick to Mutual Funds
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

Asked about the biggest mistake first-time investors make, business and finance professor Terrance Odean says it is buying individual stocks rather than mutual funds. "The biggest mistake made by those who do buy mutual funds is to choose a fund with great past performance rather than a fund with low fees. Performance is not predictable; fees are. Buy well-diversified, low-fee open-end index funds or exchange-traded funds. To look up the fees that a fund charges go to and enter the fund’s ticker symbol." Full Story

8. The complete guide to the standing office

A story about chairs in the workplace quotes architecture professor Galen Cranz, who wrote The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design. “The industrial revolution meant that you could break up everyone’s work into small parts,” she wrote. “Everyone was sitting in a factory with the work going by, just performing the same repetitive motion over and over again. At first that felt good. You’re taking a load off of your feet.” Now studies are showing that sitting for more than three hours a day can cut life expectancy by two years. To combat that, Professor Cranz says non-seated workstations can "trick" the body into a more active and less sedentary metabolism. Full Story

9. Computer science: The learning machines

Electrical engineering and computer science professor Jitendra Malik comments on a 30-year-old method of deep learning, in which computers use massive amounts of data and processing power to figure out things that humans naturally understand, such as recognizing faces and understanding language. “Over the next few years we'll see a feeding frenzy. Lots of people will jump on the deep-learning bandwagon,” Professor Malik says, but in the long term, deep learning may not win the day, since some researchers are pursuing other promising techniques. “I'm agnostic,” he says. “Over time people will decide what works best in different domains.” Full Story

10. Mantis shrimp's darting eyes ape the way primates see
New Scientist

Integrative biology professor Roy Caldwell comments on a new study of mantis shrimp, which found that the crustaceans scan their environments with the same rapid eye movements that primates use. Professor Caldwell, also a mantis shrimp expert, says that the shrimp hunt by clubbing their prey, and the rapid eye movements must help with that, making it possible for them to locate their target accurately. "They see something, walk up to it, pick it up, and maybe beat the crap out of it." Full Story

11. Sunday Review: Why Do We Fear the Blind?
International New York Times

Blind English lecturer Georgina Kleege is quoted in a commentary about common perceptions of the blind. “The blind are either supernatural or subhuman, alien or animal," she had written. Full Story

12. A Doomed Marriage?
Inside Higher Ed

A story about the institutional challenges of integrating academics and athletics at Berkeley cites two white papers on the topic. The first was co-authored by John Cummins, a former associate chancellor at Berkeley, and the other was a response co-written by physics professor Bob Jacobsen and associate linguistics professor Richard Rhodes. Full Story

13. Racist appeals undermining the middle class

A new book by law professor Ian Haney López, called Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, is reviewed. "While neither the concept of dog-whistle politics nor the phenomenon of single-issue voters is new, Haney López re-frames the debate in terms of race and its impact on our widening political divide and growing economic inequality," the reviewer writes. Full Story

14. Former GWU president Trachtenberg on why university presidencies are derailed
Washington Post

In a review of the book, Presidencies Derailed: Why University Leaders Fail and How to Prevent It, the tenure of Clark Kerr as president of the University of California is discussed. Some, including then-California Governor Ronald Reagan, had felt that Kerr was too lenient in the mid-1960s with student protesters at Berkeley. "Being at odds with an ambitious governor is just one way for a university president to get ousted," the critic writes. Full Story

15. “Bostonian” elitism in China irritates the country’s other college grads

An article about the vanity of Chinese students attending Boston colleges quotes Berkeley political science student Feng Chucheng. He had commented on the social media site Renren about a GQ article on the topic, saying it is misleading and shallow to equate Boston with idealism and entrepreneurship. "The fact that 'Bostonian' is published on GQ actually says something about this article, it’s written to target those people who love to define their lives by labels and occasionally put on the pretense of idealism." Full Story

16. 'At Berkeley' on PBS the latest documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Frederick Wiseman
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)

Frederick Wiseman's documentary, At Berkeley, will air on PBS next week at 10 p.m. on Monday. This review describes the four-hour film as an "admirable attempt by the legendary filmmaker to convey a sense of daily life at the nation's top public university while reflecting its titanic struggle to maintain academic excellence in the face of incredible financial pressures." Full Story

17. The Sound of (Good) Music: 2014
San Francisco Classical Voice

A "personal and perhaps idiosyncratic selection" of upcoming Bay Area musical events highlights pipa virtuoso Wu Man's scheduled Cal Performances date at Hertz Hall on Jan. 26. She won Musical America's 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year Award, and has been a star soloist and a renowned scholar of music through her research of the Chinese string instrument's history. Her Berkeley performance will demonstrate the full range of the pipa through traditional music, as well the works of contemporary composers such as Tan Dun, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass. Full Story

Today's Edition of UC Berkeley in the News