We’ve all had to pad that one hard essay with an entire extra paragraph of  meaningless words and hackneyed idioms to get to the page minimum. That’s fine. Hell, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s recommended. But what is not okay is using those phrases in everyday language. They make life boring and can cause cancer. Here is a short list of common phrases you may have heard around campus. These are on the no-fly list. If you hear them used and can restrain yourself from punching the speaker in the face, then you must be a zen master.

1. Rhyme and Reason, as in: “What is the rhyme and reason to repeating yourself, you horse’s ass?”

Unless you’re getting paid by the word to talk, there is nothing to be gained from coupling synonyms together. Just don’t do it. Also, note that this is a placeholder for a more general rule: if two words mean the same thing, only use one. Super simple stuff.

2. Mumblemumblemumblemumble “Oh god I can’t speak today” mumblemumblemumble

See, people are compassionate. If you need a moment to stop and compose yourself no one is going to laugh at you for being slow. They will understand because everyone’s experienced a mental block. What can’t be justified, however, is taking a moment to explain to others that you are having difficulty in your Broca or Wernicke‘s areas. A drowning man does not hold up a sign that says “I need air.” He just tries to swim.

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oregon2_2stormthecourtThe best and worst thing about Cal athletics is its inconsistency.

We all know that we don’t spend the most money on sports compared to other universities — or even close to the most. A decent intercollegiate athletic department like that of Oregon’s has an annual revenue around $88 million, with over a third coming from gifts and donations. Cal Athletics’ revenue for 2011 was $65.2 million, with 24% coming from gifts and donations. Note that these are both public schools who don’t get giant endowments from the school. They have to do the best they can with what they have.

Now the point is that it’s not about the money. Yes, it’s true that more money does buy better equipment and a better coaching staff. It does buy better scouting and ultimately attracts better players. All these factors do lead to better team standings and ultimately greater dedication from the fans.

Except at Cal. The beauty of Cal athletics is that it doesn’t have any of those things. We don’t need money to buy our fan’s loyalty. Our modest athletic budget results in teams that, except for rugby, can’t often do well in their sports. And that’s okay. Cal fans are resolute in their love of the school and our athletes. We don’t need an impressive record to start frothing at the mouth while cheering. It’s only at Cal where the players can take loss after loss and show up to a game against a top opponent and believe they can win. Once, just once in a long while, we get that win. And it’s enough.

Saturday, against No. 10 Oregon, was one of those wins. And it is sweet to know that our team can enter a game with a 12-8 record against a team that is dominating 18-3 and still give it their all until the last second. When our fans rushed out onto the court at the end of the game, it was clear that Cal was proud of the basketball team.

Quite frankly, Oregon’s basketball players have greater athleticism and stats than our own basketball team. But that’s the thing about sports in general, and Cal athletics in particular — the numbers don’t quite give the whole picture. Our athletes and fans do not give up. It’s the same reason Cal can lose to Nevada in football, but then goes on to beat UCLA.

Unpredictability makes each game more interesting and each win more satisfying. It’s the rare moments when we pull off an upset and everyone storms the court or field that makes each loss easier to swallow. And in those moments, all the loyalty and dedication of our  fans pays off in a far greater way than if we were rooting for a team that is known to always win. The inconsistency only applies to how our teams perform, because our fans are consistently and passionately in love with the Bears.

Image Source: Jasmine Mausner, The Daily Californian


08Rug Clark point w reserves clapping 165-KCTowering at 6 feet and 5 inches, Cal rugby coach Jack Clark poses an impressive figure, but even more impressive is his esteemed character and his commitment to Cal athletics. For those of you who live in ignorance of this living legend, prepare to be astonished as we dissect what makes him such a damn good coach.

Clark played football and rugby for Cal when he went here, 34 years ago. That’s probably where he started developing his deeply ingrained sense of Cal pride. The entirety of Cal could be steamrolled into a flat mound and Jack Clark would be sitting on that mound wearing blue and gold.

Clark enjoys reading poetry. No, seriously.  He’s lived the kind of life that has exposed him to some good people. And he’s taken the best attributes from those people and made it a part of him.

Taken straight from his Wikipedia page: “Clark is the winningest coach in Cal Rugby history.” All anyone really wants is the word “winningest” used to describe their achievements.

If you’re expecting someone who is this big of a man to be a misogynist, you’re just plain wrong. And we hate you. After hearing that rugby was being demoted from a Varsity sport to a Club sport at Cal, Clark didn’t lash out against the most probable cause: Title IX. Here‘s what he said: “ I’m a fan of Title IX. I think gender equality is exactly the right mission. I know a lot about athletics and what it can do for people, and the fact that we didn’t have enough opportunities for young women was a crime.”

Perhaps most importantly, the rugby team is the one place where Cal consistently annihilates Stanford. This past Saturday, Cal defended the Scrum Axe with a 176-0 win. The good sport that he is, Clark went through much of the 63 players on the team, showing that the score could have been even higher if he had only played his best players.

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Although given relatively little media attention, UC Berkeley’s electronic sports team has garnered quite a bit of respect both across the nation and internationally. Cal has particularly excelled in several real time strategy games, including Defense of the Ancients (DotA) and StarCraft, with the DotA team becoming the first ever Collegiate DotA League (CDL) champions and the the StarCraft team poised to win its second championship in the Collegiate StarLeague (CSL). We sat down with the Electronic Sports club‘s president and ace StarCraft player Conan “Suppy” Liu and asked him a few question about E-Sports here in Berkeley:

What does it take to become a serious gamer?

Conan: A lot of dedication. Not just playing casually, or for fun, but you have to focus on areas you can improve on. There are a lot of resources online, including videos of some professional players. One good way is to play a game and watch the replay, taking notes on ways to improve your strategy. It’s almost an academic way of gaming.

Are there any skills in competitive gaming that you would say are applicable outside of the gaming environment?

Conan: (Laughs) There is a study linking surgeons to their video gaming abilities, but in terms of realistic applications, gaming involves a lot of problem solving. At least in Starcraft, there’s a lot of strategy and on-the-spot critical thinking that requires you to think very quickly in reacting to your opponent.

How do students get on the Berkeley StarCraft team? How else can they get involved?

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We all know Cal football has not been doing great. Although it pains us to admit it, the team has been playing amateurishly, and we can only hope that Sonny Dykes revitalizes the program to win back some school pride. While our team as a whole has done poorly, we can boast about some incredible athletes who have gone on to stardom in the pros. Here, we will bask in the glory of five of our greatest alumni in the NFL :

5. Jahvid Best

Jahvid (right) with his high school football coach

Best is tough. Best is explosive. Best is fast. Although he is not currently part of the NFL, he more than deserves to be on this list. One thing can be said of Best: He goes out with a bang. Those who have been following Cal football remember Best’s incredible Oregon State touchdown for the Bears in 2009, which also happened to be his last game at Cal. That touchdown gave him his second concussion in two weeks and led to his retirement from college football.

In the 2010 NFL draft, Best was the fastest running back. He joined the Detroit Lions in 2010. The few times he was healthy, Best played incredibly, even having a 75-yard touchdown reception. In 2011, he beat his personal best with an 88-yard reception. Alas, despite his sensational athleticism and his commitment to football despite countless injuries, Best finally succumbed to post-concussive symptoms and is now on the NFL’s injury reserves. He has not played for more than a year, but his achievements in his prime are staggering. Hopefully we’ll see Jahvid again, but even if we don’t, as Bob Dylan said, “It is better to burn out than to fade away.”

4. Shane Vereen

Look, we know no one likes the Patriots, but Shane Vereen is another running back out of Cal who deserves mention. With an impressive college total of 1,167 rushing yards, Vereen left Cal in three years and was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2011. There, he continued to play well, reaching a career best of an 83-yard reception. Currently, he has 308 rushing yards and four touchdowns. But these stats don’t fully explain why he’s on this hall of fame list.

Remember two Sundays ago? Patriots vs. Jets, and the Pats chief running back Danny Woodhead is injured. It’s down to veteran Stevan Ridley and third-string nobody Shane Vereen. Vereen delivers the football to the endzone three times. Yes, Tom Brady deserves some credit for some accurate passing, but Vereen really showed the world what he can do. We don’t root for the Patriots any more than you do, but there are those magical moments when Vereen makes this world a better place and the Patriots head cheater is almost tolerable.

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2368346202_05edffd868_zClasses start today, so we thought you might like some tracks to explore your feelings regarding this newest development. Yeah, we’re bummed that winter break is over. But we’re also glad to be going to the best school in the world.

Here are the 13 songs to kick off 2013:

1. Wizard Flurry Home, Mariee Sioux — If you saw snowfall this break, you’ll understand what she’s talking about here. But even if you didn’t, you’ll like the way she makes you feel. All Native American and shit.

2. When the Roses Bloom Again, Billy Bragg and Wilco — A chance to give a sorrowful farewell to the days of skiing and family feasts, this song’s almost upbeat tune clashes gloriously with its moody lyrics. Wilco’s distinctive voice dominates the vocals and is complemented by Bragg’s folk influences.

3. Submarines, The Lumineers — Filled with angst and youthful loneliness, this simple yet meaningful ballad is filled with folk energy.

4. Newlands, Justice — The key point of this song is not to think too hard. Just move to the prog beat, and don’t worry about the muffled disappointment that was Audio, Video, Disco.

5. Said So What, French Kicks — Reminiscent of The Beach Boys, it’s easy to groove to the warmth of repetition and jangling.

6. Half Gate, Grizzly Bear — This song resonates with beauty. It’s a mastery of composition and eloquently rich with meaning. It’s about barriers between people and the past. Such a good listen when you’re feeling sentimental.

7. One Pure Thought, Hot Chip — A dance track like no other, these guys just want you to smile. Don’t stress the ugliness that pops up — it’s on purpose, and the feels are ultimately satisfying.

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Now that the dust has settling down, and the initial shock — just kidding — is wearing off, we can make some light of Tedford’s departure from Cal Football. To be paid as much as he was, for an embarrassing three wins, Tedford was no million dollar man, even though it costs over six million to let him go. We thought it would be interesting to take a look in retrospect of the legendary Tedford, and recall how it used to be.

Tedford was one of those classic gentleman coaches, who was pure of heart and demonstrated good sportsmanship in a way that has been missing for too long.  Back in 2006, with Tedford at the helm, there was nothing to worry about, we had a hell of a season and Tedford made it look easy. When Cal was getting far ahead, the team would loosen up, taking a knee at the two yard line instead of building a disgusting lead. It was Tedford’s coaching that allowed Cal football fans to come together. Tedford was a hard worker, and his notable successes and multiple PAC-10 Coach of the Year Awards were well deserved. In those days, Cal’s players were the stars of track and field, with a speed and strength that reflected good coaching.  Tedford was the comeback kid, starting as an underdog and becoming a force of constant win.

But like all good things, time puts everything in ruins, and Tedford could only keep it up for only so long. It seemed to all Cal fans out there that Tedford was asleep at the wheel . The problem was that so much winning had led Tedford to rest on his laurels, and he needed more than just a shot in the arm. Near the end, Tedford’s elephant ego had led him to become a one man wrecking machine. When we lost against Nevada, it was clear there was no hope. We watched Maynard get blindsided yet again and again, and it took something out of all of us.

What we need now is a revival, and a coach with the drive to get us there.

Image source: avinashkunnath under Creative Commons


As it gets closer and closer to the dreaded finals week, as essay after essay pile up,  and with the incessantly overcast weather, we thought there are probably a lot of negative feelings floating around. And you know, the best way of getting rid of negative feelings is to actually feel them. As you look at these here villains, let it all out. Yes, good. Let the hate flow through you.

Xenomorph from Aliens

GAH! That ghastly face and that grotesque body evoke some innate sense of disgust and repulsion in all of us. We hate to be prejudiced, but the Xenomorph is so ugly that racism is almost okay. Somewhere, in some Tibetan mountain, there is a monk that is so enlightened that he can accept the Xenomorph as a beautiful creature produced by millenniums of  painstaking evolution. For everyone else, it’s just a creepy alien.

Mr.Henry F. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life

You don’t hate people just for being rich, you just get jealous of them. But Mr.Potter isn’t just a rich person. He’s greedy. He’s selfish. He’s dishonest. And worst of all, he’s got a horrific set of old man eyebrows. He makes a terrific villain because he’s such a caricature of a scrooge.

Wasps

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4223578046_ba89d7edff_zWho is the happiest man in the world? No not Pablo Sandoval! Matthieu Ricard. He is one part molecular geneticist, one part Buddhist monk, and a million parts pure unadulterated happiness. According to this New York Daily News article, Ricard has the happiest brain ever mapped on a machine. His gamma waves, brain waves linked to awareness and happiness, are off the charts. His not-so-secret secret? Meditation. read more »


Walking past the condom-and-rotten-food dumpsters by Greek row, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in the world would ever want more garbage. But would you believe that one country is spending money importing trash?! It’s true. According to this National Public Radio article, Sweden is investing in garbage imports to provide its people with renewable energy. Even in this dreary global economy. Why? Because it’s Sweden, that’s why.

A Swede looks at this picture and feels aroused

A Swede looks at this picture and feels aroused

Swedes have got it good. Their government has a can-do attitude that just gets shit done. Yeah, they’re pacifists, and they stayed neutral during World War II, but don’t hold that against them. At least they didn’t, pay attention here France, surrender. Sweden has one of the strongest economies right now, thanks to their fiscal discipline and their successful welfare programs. Sweden is living proof that a capitalist society can have lots of rich people without having everyone else be poor. They have a lower unemployment rate than the United States, and spend more money on education than Uncle Sam. They’re so progressive they’re retro. According to this Guardian article, when they figured out a form of snuff, yes the pippip cheerio guv’nor snuff, snuff, called ‘Snu’ had fewer health effects than tobacco, they became the only country in the European Union to legalize the substance. Now, they’re enjoying the world’s lowest rates of lung cancer in males.

Sweden is a beautiful country

Sweden is a beautiful country

Sweden’s policy-making process is less a matter of politics and more related to figuring out what works.  They throw tradition out the window and really stop to think and analyze. The more we look at Sweden, the more we realize what we have to learn from them. There’s nothing to keep us Americans from being as successful, but on an even larger scale. We’re a lot bigger and a lot richer. Let’s stop doing things the old fashioned way, and figure out how best to meet the future.

Image source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, loops under Creative Commons

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