November 13: Cyrus on The California Report

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my piece on the creation of the world’s longest California roll, is airing today on, appropriately enough, The California Report.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

FRI – San Francisco – 4:30/6:30/11 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM –
SUN – Los Angeles – 10:30 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg

You can also find it on The California Report site later in the day and on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Longest California Roll record returns to the Golden State

Yesterday afternoon, I reported on the creation of the longest California Roll yesterday for an upcoming edition of The California Report. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley. The new record, set at 330 feet, apparently defeated the old record set in Hawaii in 2001 by 30 feet.

I interviewed student Zach Brown, Chef Ming Hwang, Prof. Duncan Williams, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine, who certified the new record.

NBC, AP, Oakland Tribune, The Daily Californian all have stories up, too.

It was pretty freakin’ rad.

October 17: Cyrus on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my piece on UC Berkeley’s parking spaces for Nobel Laureates will be on Weekend Edition Saturday (October 17)!

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams).

New York – 8 to 10 am Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM –
Washington, DC – 8 to 10 am Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM –
Los Angeles – 5 to 10 am Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 8 to 11 am Eastern – WBUR – 90.9 FM –
San Francisco – 5 to 10 am Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM –

It will also be archived at and here if you miss it.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Update: Audio is here, and I made NPR’s front door!

Also, you can scope some bonus photos of the parking spaces here.

New York Times Op-Ed (Herbert): Cracks in the Future

October 3, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
Cracks in the Future

Berkeley, Calif.

While the U.S. has struggled with enormous problems over the past several years, there has been at least one consistent bright spot. Its system of higher education has remained the finest in the world.

Now there are ominous cracks appearing in that cornerstone of American civilization. Exhibit A is the University of California, Berkeley, the finest public university in the world and undoubtedly one of the two or three best universities in the United States, public or private.

More of Berkeley’s undergraduates go on to get Ph.D.’s than those at any other university in the country. The school is among the nation’s leaders in producing winners of the Nobel Prize. An extraordinary amount of cutting-edge research in a wide variety of critically important fields, including energy and the biological sciences, is taking place here.

While I was roaming the campus, talking to students, professors and administrators, word came that scientists had put together a full analysis and a fairly complete fossilized skeleton of Ardi, who is known to her closest living associates as Ardipithecus ramidus. At 4.4 million years of age, this four-foot tall, tree-climbing wonder is now the oldest known human ancestor.

Give Berkeley credit. The school’s Tim White, a paleoanthropologist, led the international team that worked for years on this project, an invaluable advance in human knowledge and understanding.

So it’s dismaying to realize that the grandeur of Berkeley (and the remarkable success of the University of California system, of which Berkeley is the flagship) is being jeopardized by shortsighted politicians and California’s colossally dysfunctional budget processes.

Berkeley is caught in a full-blown budget crisis with nothing much in the way of upside in sight. The school is trying to cope with what the chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, described as a “severe and rapid loss in funding” from the state, which has shortchanged Berkeley’s budget nearly $150 million this year, and cut more than $800 million from the higher education system as a whole.

This is like waving goodbye to the futures of untold numbers of students. Chancellor Birgeneau denounced the state’s action as “a completely irresponsible disinvestment in the future of its public universities.”

Karim Sadjadpour: Iran After the Election (Oct. 1, 4 pm, UC Berkeley)

My cousin and Iran analyst extraordinaire, Karim Sadjadpour, will be speaking this Thursday on the UC Berkeley campus to discuss:

the impact of Iran’s elections on the balance of power within Iran and on its foreign policy. Sadjadpour will also assess the implications of recent events on US policy options.

The Travers Lecture Series on US Foreign Policy is co-sponsored by the Institute of International Studies and the Institute of Governmental Studies. Throughout the 2009-2010 academic year, the IIS and the IGS will co-sponsor a continuing series of lectures and seminars on the foreign policy challenges facing the Obama Administration.

Karim Sadjadpour is an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He joined Carnegie after four years as the chief Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group based in Tehran and Washington, D.C. A leading researcher on Iran, Sadjadpour has conducted dozens of interviews with senior Iranian officials, and hundreds with Iranian intellectuals, clerics, dissidents, paramilitaries, businessmen, students, activists, and youth, among others.

October 1, 2009
4:00 pm
Barrows Hall
Lipman Room, 8th Floor

May 20: Katie Hafner Reading in Berkeley

Katie Hafner (former New York Times writer and a mentor and friend of mine) will be giving a talk and reading at Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley on May 20 at 7:30 pm about her book: A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano, which is just out in paperback.

It was nominated recently for the Northern California Book Award for general non-fiction (Physics for Future Presidents by UC Berkeley professor Richard Muller won).

In case you think this is a book strictly for pianists or musicians, I can promise you it’s not.

Kirkus called it “the musical version of Seabiscuit.”

And for the musicians among you, it is truly a delightful read.

WSJ: Brunch as a Religious Experience Is Disturbing Berkeley’s Karma

The Wall Street Journal, February 10 2009:

But last spring, some of the temple’s neighbors decided they’d had their fill. They asked the city’s zoning board to shut down what they call a “commercial enterprise” operating in a residential zone. At a public hearing, a dozen neighborhood opponents sounded off: Some said they couldn’t stand the “offensive odors” of Thai food being prepared; others objected to litter, traffic and clanging pots early in the morning. One compared the temple to a McDonald’s.

At a hearing in September, neighbor Carolyn Shoulders complained: “If anybody whose neighbor on the other side of their backyard fence had a thousand people over every weekend, they would really get tired of it.”

In a recent interview, she said she has lived on the street behind the temple for 10 years. “They don’t have to, in essence, run a restaurant in our backyard,” she said. “You want to relax on the weekend.”

Berkeley, a city where a group of protesters recently lived in trees for nearly two years, now is weighing whether zoning laws ought to be sensitive to karma.

The weekly brunch at a Buddhist monastary in Berkeley, Calif., has grown wildly popular for the bargain it offers. But not everyone is pleased with the crowds it is drawing. WSJ’s Geoffery Fowler reports.

Abbot Tahn Manas, who has lived at the temple for 22 years, says the event is critical to the Buddhist religious practice of “earning merit.” Monks are forbidden by their religion from earning money or accumulating earthly goods on their own. Providing for monks and temples is the religious duty of Buddhists of the Theravada school; it helps them build goodwill for later in life or for the next life. In Thailand, they earn merit by giving money to monks in the street. Berkeley Buddhists earn merit by volunteering at brunch, thereby serving the temple.

Berkeley Daily Planet: Cody’s Books Closes After 42 Years in Berkeley


Cody’s Books, founded on Telegraph Avenue in 1956, expanded to Fourth Street in 1998 and San Francisco in 2005, closed on Telegraph in 2006, closed in San Francisco the following year, moved to Shattuck Avenue in March, and then, yesterday, on June 19, 2008, went out of business.

Shoppers and passersby at the 2201 Shattuck store Friday found a locked store and a sign taped on the glass doors reading: “Cody’s Books is Closed-Thank You.” Above the windows a recently hung temporary banner proclaimed: “Now Open-Cody’s Books.”

An employee greeted a few people who knocked on the locked doors Friday afternoon, informing them that Cody’s was indeed closed for good.