Welcome to BerkeleyIt looks like UC Berkeley’s On the Same Page program keeps getting better by the year. Rather than have incoming students donate their saliva or read yet another piece on environmentalism and how everything we eat contains corn in some way shape or form (yeah, we’re still bitter about how truly lame On the Same Page was in the summer of 2009), this year’s noobs get to lend their voices to the campus. For science, naturally.

This summer, freshmen and transfer students will record themselves cheering on Cal with “Go Bears,” and a few other phrases that reveal any accents, twangs or drawls that linger in their speech.  The anonymous voice samples accompany an interactive world map so that users can analyze accents within California as well around the world.

After a few years at Cal, participants will complete new recordings in order to determine if their time on campus has had an effect on the way they speak.

We’re guessing that hella people will have started saying hella.

Image Source: Majiscup under Creative Commons
UC Berkeley asks incoming students to say more than ‘hello’ [LA Times]


If you aren’t intrigued by that title, you must have a heart colder than the Icelandic winter. And yeah, we know it’s cold — in fact, we know everything there is to know about Iceland since we just watched the movie “Jar City,” which was screened today in 142 Dwinelle.

“Jar City,” based on an Icelandic crime novel, follows two men: one, a grieving genetics worker who just lost his child to disease, and the other, a stoic Scandinavian detective trying to solve a grisly murder. The movie was screened because of its relevance to genetics (and thus the On the Same Page program).

But this isn’t sci fi — the genetics component springs from reality. Iceland is very ice-olated (forgive the horrible pun) and has been keeping detailed geneological records since the 1200′s, so their populace was viewed as ideal for genetic research. In 1998 they passed a law giving the rights of the entire population’s genetic information to a private read more »


You’ve probably heard by now about the controversy surrounding the 2010 On the Same Page program. This year’s freshmen were asked to swab their cheeks in order to get their DNA tested for specific genetic variations on three genes (lactase, ethanol, and folic acid, if you were interested). And if you’ve heard about that, you might be wondering about last night’s keynote speech by MCB professor Jasper Rine, entitled “Looking for the Good News in Your Genome.”

Let out your bated breath, because here comes a highlight reel of the evening’s speech:

-The controversy sprang mostly from, according to Rine, “misunderstanding” and “discomfort.” He claims that under California law, read more »

dna test

In a typically Stanfordian move, the rival institution trails UC Berkeley’s “Bring Your Genes to Cal” program with its own smaller, more expensive and more in-depth take on student genetic self-testing. Yet, despite the relative prudence of their approach, Stanford is still incurring intense scorn from bioethicists — which makes us look like completely reckless geno-hawks by comparison.

Read on and we’ll bring you up to speed on both programs; plus, we’ll condense the developing ethical debate. read more »

dna testing

What if Cal uses our DNA samples to get going a eugenics-like alumni legacy program?  Or what if we all get a letter years down the road:  “Seeing how gene sequencing technology has improved since you submitted your ‘On the Same Page’ program sample back in 2010, we have taken the liberty to run a more in-depth analysis of your genetic make-up. You have two months to live, and you ain’t never goin’ to space.” It’s a slippery slope, man; either way, Jude Law is going to incinerate himself.

Okay,  okay, the real criticism that has surfaced against “On the Same Page” is somewhat more down to earth. Read on for the concerns raised and Cal’s comforting response. read more »


OK, can we just call foul on this whole issue? Last year’s incoming L & S freshmen had to read “Omnivore’s Dilemna,” and this year’s incoming freshmen get to have their genes analyzed.

Yeah, that’s right. Think back to when you were a freshman, bleeding blue and gold and desperate for any sign that you were a college-bound adult. Last year we got a big honking book in the mail–this year they get a cool little cotton swab.

If the freshies want to participate, they send the swab back with a tiny bit of their own DNA. The sample will be analyzed for “three non-threatening genetic factors affecting our health: the ability read more »

dragon-cover.jpgIf you’re a freshman this year, whether you remember it or not, you received a book in the mail over the summer. You were instructed to read the book so you’d have something in common with all the other freshman, and you could bond over the shared experience when you finished telling each other your name, major, and residence.

You even had the opportunity to partake in some enlightened discussion about what you learned in specially tailored seminars. The culmination of the program known as “On the Same Page” came when the author of the book, Gary Willis, came to speak at Zellerbach Hall. And there was much rejoicing.

The book was “Lincoln at Gettysburg,” and if you’re like us, it’s sitting on your shelf, untouched and collecting dust with all your other textbooks, because you brought it with you to the dorms on the off-chance you were somehow going to be graded on it. Luckily, you weren’t, because you didn’t read it. (No offense, Gary Willis.) read more »

Every year the College of Letters and Sciences selects a book to feature in their On the Same Page program. Every freshman and transfer student in the college receives a free copy, a chance to hear the author speak, and the opportunity to participate in classes and lectures related to the selection.

This year, the featured book was Garry Wills’ “Lincoln at Gettysburg.” Wills spoke Wednesday night in Zellerbach Auditorium to a crowd of about 600 on the relevance of the Gettysburg Address in the 21st century.

Not like numbers matter, but, well, they do. Or at least they feed our curiosity … Last year’s featured author was Stephen Hawking, who drew so many people that all 2,000 seats in Zellerbach were filled, and 800 people watched a live broadcast of the event in Wheeler Auditorium.

Why did so few students want to listen to a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of dead presidents and dead late-antique Catholic saints?

Though we might have answered the question for ourselves, we still ponder.

The Clog was curious if there was some special magic that Garry Wills lacked, other than the fact that no one has heard of him before. We brainstormed a few things that might make students a bit more enthusiastic about the ways in which UC Berkeley attempts to educate them.

3) Six thousand books were given out, and the market price for “Lincoln at Gettysburg” is $19.99 a book. Ignoring the fantastical possibility that the books were bought at comegetused.com for half the price, the sum total of this purchase is $119,940. If that money was put solely into advertising his lecture, maybe lecture attendance would tip into the quadruple digits like Stephen Hawking … because everyone knows that no one reads even the required reading.

2) Maybe if the College of Letter and Sciences chose Wills’ other book, “Why I Am A Catholic,” students would have a more enthusiastic response.

1) Never mind the fact that he doesn’t have a rare motor neurone disease, if Garry Wills had a wheelchair and a speech machine, perhaps students would appreciate his every effort at speech a bit more.

Image Source: Anna Callaghan, Daily Cal
Historian Speaks on Gettysburg [Daily Cal]
Book Project Continues with Lincoln at Gettysburg [College of Letters and Science]
Earlier: Renowned Cosmologist Draws Sold-Out Crowd