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Tuesday, 12 February 2013
1. Ancient languages reconstructed by computer program
A team of researchers including computer science professor Dan Klein and psychology professor Thomas Griffiths has developed software that can rebuild protolanguages, the ancient languages from which modern languages evolved. "It's very time consuming for humans to look at all the data," Professor Klein says. "There are thousands of languages in the world, with thousands of words each, not to mention all of those languages' ancestors. ... It would take hundreds of lifetimes to pore over all those languages, cross-referencing all the different changes that happened across such an expanse of space -- and of time. But this is where computers shine." Other stories on this topic appeared in the Register (UK), Science Blog, and SlashGear. Full Story
2. A promising gift
UC Berkeley has established a new scholarship fund for undocumented students. Called The Dreamers Fund, it opens with an initial gift of $1 million from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Foundation. “These are extraordinarily talented kids," Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau says. "To get into Berkeley with all the challenges that entails, they’re deserving of our help.” The scholarships are one facet of what Chancellor Birgeneau says is a comprehensive campus plan to address the unique challenges undocumented students face. He also supported the creation of the Dreamers Resource Center, a physical space where undocumented students can socialize or get counseling or legal support services, use a textbook lending library, acquire funds for emergency needs, or find other resources. Full Story
3. National Jurist rankings conflict with US News’ top choices; law prof blasts methodology
The National Jurist ranking of law schools has placed Berkeley third, following Stanford and the University of Virginia. Post-graduate success comprises more than half of the ranking's criteria, while student satisfaction counts for 35 percent and affordability and diversity is another 15 percent. Full Story
4. Work begins on new Berkeley Art Museum, to open in 2016
Construction has begun on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, scheduled to open in the summer of 2016. The campus museum has raised $95 million worth of pledges towards the $100 million goal it needed to create its new home on Center St. at Oxford, at the western edge of campus. The building was designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, architects of Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and Washington's Hirshhorn Museum. Full Story
5. Opinionator Blog: Academic Freedom Vindicated in Brooklyn
New York Times Online (*requires registration)
Rhetoric professor Judith Butler spoke at a student forum at Brooklyn College February 7, explaining and defending the agenda of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement ( B.D.S.), which had come under fire recently with members of the Council of the City of New York. "Debates about academic freedom almost always begin in confusion and end in confusion," this blogger reports, "but the recent controversy at Brooklyn College is a welcome exception to that rule. When the dust settled, the right thing had happened, the right things had been said, and the wrong things had been repudiated." Full Story
6. Morning Edition: Sen. Rubio's Response Gives GOP A Chance To Woo Hispanics
Education professor Lisa Garcia Bedolla comments on the Republican Party's selection of Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio, from Florida, to deliver the official GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address tonight. Noting that she believes the choice has to do with the party's interest in appealing to Hispanic voters, she acknowledges: "I do think it's important from a symbolic standpoint, both that they selected Sen. Rubio and that he's giving the speech in Spanish and English." The problem, she says, is that Rubio still seems out of step with most Latinos, even on immigration. Link to audio. Full Story
7. Unintended effects in Prop. 8 appeal?
San Francisco Chronicle
Law professor Joan Hollinger comments on the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of the legal standing of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that defined marriage as a male-female union. Full Story
8. CEO of scandal-ridden UK bank sets new tone
Business professor Kellie McElhaney, a corporate sustainability expert, comments on Barclays CEO Anthony Jenkins' efforts to turn around the financial firm after a string of costly scandals. "Trust and corporate responsibility and contributing to society is the best way to differentiate yourself," she says. "A company's responsible products and services are the only way to judge if a company is serious about its values and commitments ... not just CEO's words." Full Story
9. Column: Can't we all share the highway safely?
A column on motorcycles and highway safety notes that the state has contracted with Berkeley researchers to study all collisions involving motorcycles, including whether motorcyclists are wearing helmets, drinking, or lane-splitting. The yearlong study could lead to new safety recommendations. Full Story
10. Hurdles, rewards for neighborhood blogs
San Francisco Chronicle
A story about the slim profitability of hyper-local blogs mentions Mission Local, a nonprofit project of Berkeley's journalism school. Full Story
11. Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party Excerpt
History professor Waldo Martin and Joshua Bloom, a former student of Professor Martin's, have co-authored a new book, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (George Gund Foundation Imprint in African American Studies), excerpted here. Full Story
12. News: Why did the dinosaurs die out? The truth is out there.
Comedy Central (UK)
A Berkeley study providing further proof that the mass dinosaur extinction was due to asteroid impact 65 million years ago has been well-received by volcanoes who, according to this article, "have had to put up with a whisper-campaign of rumours and innuendo" for centuries. “Maybe now we can put this behind us once and for all,” a volcano in the Canary Islands is quoted as saying. “The dirty looks people give us in supermarkets, the accusations on toilet walls, and all the while we’ve been innocent. It’s enough to make even the calmest person erupt with anger.” Full Story