natureA lot of wishy-washy, sentimental stuff has been said about the positive benefits of nature – stuff that we appreciate but often find a bit unsubstantial – but a new study gives some scientific support for that idea.

The preliminary results of a new study showed that feelings of awe can make people less self-centered and more generous. The study had subjects stare at our very own Valley Life Sciences Building and our eucalyptus grove. Those looking at our lovely trees reported more “humility, compassion and cooperation.”

In an urban environment like Berkeley, most people probably neglect to experience nature. This is why we love the fact that our school has areas dedicated to nature. It’s calming and apparently improves our willingness to cooperate.

Maybe all group projects should have a mandatory meeting in our eucalyptus grove? We could all sit in a circle, sing kumbaya and tree-hug our differences away.

Or imagine corporations having their offices in a building symbiotic with nature, complete with little capuchin monkeys delivering all memos? We know our productivity would rise just by being around awesome trees all day. This is our attempt to surreptitiously convince all of those Randian leaders of industry to plant a damn tree for once. read more »

Let’s face it: we all use the restroom. Usually, it’s quite a boring and forgettable event (hopefully), but not if you decide to do your business in the bathroom stalls of VLSB!  Every stall of the girl’s restroom is covered top to bottom with a colorful explosion of beautiful, random, funny and/or just plain odd graffiti. Ranging from a couple words scrawled in pencil to full-scale murals, this dense concentration of art begs the question: what compelled these people to adorn the stalls? Boredom? A desire to break up the bleak white stall walls? An art bug? Whatever the motive, the pieces are just plain interesting to look at! Here are some of our favorites: read more »

Perhaps the only building on campus that is in dire need of an easy-access coffee shop (other than Dwinelle Hall, which finally got its fix a few semesters ago) is the Valley Life Sciences building. Home to many sleepless molecular and cell biology majors, and others who’ve decided to throw their lives away to science–VLSB can be a gloomy place to study without an hourly dose of everyone’s favorite psychoactive stimulant.

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We previewed it Monday, and now a recap is in order. Here are the highlights and commentary on the amazing John Amaechi talk

  • If it weren’t for his British accent and his drinking a large cup of tea, we’d be scared shitless of Amaechi. He’s fucking huge.
  • The lecture begins with a video on LGBT athletes and their double lives. Interesting stuff, but it can’t hold a candle to the entertainment value of the IBM promo that follows it. Did you know that IBM is the most gay-friendly multinational computer technology company? We didn’t.
  • Damn, J.A. moves around a hell-load for a 6-10, 325-pound dude. We tried taking a good picture of the man, but he’s just too damned peripatetic.
  • J.A. is blessed with that stereotypical British speaking ability. We as Americans are obligated to worship Brit elocution skills. For example, the Clog didn’t even want to use the word elocution in that sentence. Some lord-of-the-lexicon limey convinced us that it was better than inventing the word talkability or calling him a cunning linguist.
  • He has interesting thoughts on the incongruence of being a gay pro athlete, but has no comments on the incongruence of being an athlete who uses the words like incongruence.
  • That’s actually bullshit. Amaechi does talk about the incongruence of being a well-spoken athlete. We’ll put our snide aside for one second just to say that Amaechi is a hilarious, yet thought-provoking speaker.
  • He states the obvious, saying, “Tim Hardaway is an idiot.” That one gets a huge crowd response. We are now all united in our hatred of the T in Run TMC.
  • Just like we sort of said in our preview, Amaechi makes the point that athletes can’t handle his gayness because “they don’t want their own gay activities highlighted.” Hell yea, Amaechi agrees with the Clog. We must be doing something right.
  • By the way, J.A. dishes some interesting gayish NBA locker room activities. The best ones are toenail painting and co-reading magazines naked, or “ass-cheek-to-ass-cheek” as Amaechi calls it. For once, we’re speechless.
  • And we’ve regained our voice. But we’re exhausted. Amaechi held court for over two hours, pontificating on everything from Don’t ask, don’t tell to macho advertisements. The dude clearly loves the academic setting. Here’s to hoping he becomes Berkeley’s most physically imposing prof.

  • We told you about Jimmy Carter coming to Berkeley. That’s exciting news, but there is possibly an even more thrilling pontificator on our horizons.

    John Amaechi, the first openly gay former pro basketball player, is coming to VLSB Wednesday night to promote his new book, Man in the Middle. For those of you still skeptical of this ex-NBA role player’s ability to top Carter, we ask you this: Is Jimmy Carter six-foot-ten, British, and flamboyantly homosexual? Didn’t think so. And that’s his mistake.

    The sports media shitstorm that followed Amaechi’s self-outing was nothing short of ridiculous. Talking heads from all jocks of life appeared on ESPN to give their spiel on athletes and gayness, while ball players were repeatedly questioned on how comfortable they’d be playing with the dudes from the “other team.”

    Then the athletes had their homophobic responses, essentially conveying the following message to America: We don’t like Amaechi because we’re part of a quasi-gay male bonding ritual that we can only enjoy if we firmly establish a straight pretense—and this guy threatens that pretense with his actual open gayness.

    This long-winded subtext was delineated most biliously by former NBA star Tim Hardaway. For those of you don’t waste your lives watching ESPN in the middle of the afternoon, Hardaway went on an insane homophobic rant when asked about Amaechi.

    But we should put all that history on the backburner and instead enjoy Amaechi’s waning 15 minutes. He’s actually a bright dude, and should prove it on Wednesday. His brightness adds to his amusement quotient. He’s a bit like a GEICO cavemen: a sensitive misfit, whose intellectual tendencies contradict his social category. Take this excerpt from an ESPN profile on the man:

    He doesn’t much like jock talk, but he will jabber for hours about national drug policies, juvenile crime and social problems; he says he ‘teeters between being opinionated and arrogant,’ yet he attempts to be open-minded; he listens to opera before games, and he writes poetry.

    Dude, that’s so blue state.

    It warrants mentioning that we somehow made it through this entire piece without making a basketball metaphor related gay joke. A Pulitzer should be in the cards.