The year 2020 was the worst year I can recall. The pandemic that emerged in January accelerated during the late winter and early spring, stabilized in the summer, and remerged with cooler temperatures. We’ve had more than 300,000 fatalities in the US and close to 2 million globally, and the toll is rising. In addition, … Continue reading »
In this year of the election, pandemic, and general mayhem, we still have a lot to be grateful for.
The way UC Berkeley schedules classes is pretty nutty. It’s not just that they begin 10 minutes after the announced time, with a 10 AM class actually starting on “Berkeley Time” at 10:10 AM and a course scheduled for 3:30 PM-5 PM commencing at 3:40 PM. That would be needlessly confusing in itself. But what … Continue reading »
Why do we teach? What outcomes do we seek in our students when we step into the classroom or create a learning opportunity? I seek a variety of outcomes: some easy to accomplish, others exceedingly difficult. On the easiest end of the spectrum, I often expose students to facts, formulas – essentially knowledge they need … Continue reading »
Has it been six weeks that we are in house arrest? Time and space are so transmogrified that it feels like living on a spaceship or a lifeboat. I don’t grasp the rules. Am I a potential threat or a potential victim of the current global plague? Or both?
If you read no further, understand this: Black Lives Matter = if anyone kills a Black person, their punishment should be the same as if they killed someone from any other race.
Reflections from a Berkeley professor, 50 years after another round of tumultuous college graduations
The people who put their lives at risk to save others, over three centuries ago during the “Black Death,” were illiterate farmers. They had no central heating, no running water, no phones, and no microwaves to make life easier. I think, I am going to stop feeling sorry for myself.
We are working together by staying apart. Over the last week, you’ve been asked to make drastic changes to your lives. At UC Berkeley, we’ve suddenly moved to remote instruction. You’ve been asked to keep your distance from friends and classmates (maintain ~6 ft spacing). You’ve been asked to wash your hands with soap and … Continue reading »
If I asked you to name the biggest political party in the United States, what would be your answer? You probably have two guesses that come to mind: the Democratic party or the Republican party. Well, it’s neither. It’s the party of Non-Voters. Let’s look at the last presidential election: 100 million Americans who were … Continue reading »
Happy Birthday to ya! Happy Birthday to ya! Happy Birthday! The Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday” is very popular in the Black community. We’ll appease people and sing the traditional version all the way through, then immediately bust out in the more enthusiastic rendition Stevie released in 1980. For a long time, I thought … Continue reading »
The annual meeting of social scientists and economists (ASSA Meetings) was in San Diego, which was quite an improvement over previous years, where we met in the cold northeast. This was especially enjoyable, as I was remembering the meetings in Philadelphia, which were drastically underprepared for the snow that happened to occur during those meetings. … Continue reading »
When the U.S. threatens to abandon the international consensus on protection of cultural sites, as an archaeologist and a citizen I must act, even if action is limited to raising a voice in protest. Today I tendered my resignation from the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. State Department on requests from other … Continue reading »
This last year was mostly a good year. Professionally, I gained a triple crown: I was awarded the Wolf prize for agriculture, became a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (USNAS), and became president of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). My grandchildren are growing and Leorah and I are enjoying this … Continue reading »
The World Laureates Association (WLA) is an initiative of a Shanghai businessman, Wang Hou, and several Nobel laureates, and as I understand, is supported by the municipality of Shanghai. I was fortunate to be present at the second annual meeting in late October in Shanghai. There were about 72 laureates present at the meeting, … Continue reading »
This is an excerpt from an interview conducted by USC Professor Henry Jenkins about my new book, The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child. In what sense was the One Laptop Per Child “a Charisma Machine”? What are the implications of applying a term like Charisma, which has historically … Continue reading »
It has now been three years in a row that, from my vantage point in Berkeley, I have been affected by the California fires. And as the Kincade Fire rages near Healdsburg, I am in touch with many of my friends and neighbors in Berkeley, Oakland and Marin County, whose power has been pre-emptively shut … Continue reading »
Nearly 50 years ago an American ping pong player got on the wrong team bus at the 1971 World Table Tennis Championships in Japan. He got on the Chinese team bus thus sparking an era of “ping pong diplomacy” between the United States and China (immortalized in the film “Forest Gump). Ping pong is and … Continue reading »
In 1968, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act, the nation’s first open housing law. This critical piece of legislation not only prohibited racial discrimination in housing, but sought to reverse decades of federal, state, and local policies that promoted and deepened residential segregation by requiring government agencies to “affirmatively further fair housing” and to replace … Continue reading »
Sure, technologists can be smart. But to assume that expertise in software engineering converts to expertise in child development, public health, or the moral implications of technology more broadly — and that technologists thus need not consult expertise in other areas — has led to the ethical crises raging across the technology world today. Note: … Continue reading »