Latest Caterpillar Poll: Woolly Bears Are Undecided

With the third and final debate over, those voters who haven’t yet made up their minds will be focusing on their choice for President. But what do the woolly bear caterpillars of Bodega Bay have to say about the election?

Caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillars are having a hard time picking the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. (Eric Lo Presti/UC Davis)

The caterpillars shot to fame a few months ago when UC Davis graduate student Eric Lo Presti pointed out in a blog post that cycles in the caterpillar population tracked with the fortunes of political parties in presidential election years. Going back as far as 1984, Democrats won the White House in years when the caterpillars were abundant in March, and Republicans when the caterpillars were less prolific.

“Real Revolutionaries Carry a Banjo:” Jesse Drew on Pete Seeger

Jesse Drew of the Cinema and Technocultural Studies program at UC Davis met legendary musician Pete Seeger several times, most recently during filming of his documentary, “Open Country.” Seeger died Jan. 27, and Prof. Drew just posted a remembrance, “Real Revolutionaries Carry a Banjo.”

Seeger should be considered a founder of country music, Drew argues:

Not folk music, mind you, as that has been around for some time. Coun­try music. Nashville, I believe, owes Pete a statue in the cen­ter of town.

Read the whole article here.

Seeger also recorded an intro for Davis community radio station KDRT:

The Pentagon on campus, Gorilla health, fixing California: All in UC Davis Magazine

The Fall issue of UC Davis Magazine is now online with some great feature articles.

There’s my story on the role of the Defense Department in funding research on campus — from breast cancer to electrical engineering.

Clifton Parker talks to faculty experts and gets a more hopeful perspective than you might expect on the future of California’s political system.

And from Rwanda, Don Buroughs describes how the UC Davis Mountain Gorilla One Health Program is working to protect the health of these remarkable creatures — as well as that of the people who live and work in the national park where the gorillas live.

Talk: Can ag science get support inside the Beltway?

The Chancellor’s Colloquium Distinguished Speakers Series opens Wednesday, Jan. 12, with a talk by Roger N. Beachy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The UC Davis Humanities Institute, which is organizing the series, announced that Beachy will address the question: “Can Support of Science for ‘Agriculture’ Prosper Inside the Beltway?”

Also, since first announcing the series, the Humanities Institute has made a change in the lineup: The second speaker in the three-part series is now listed as Laura D. Tyson, a business professor at UC Berkeley and an adviser to Presidents Obama and Clinton. Her talk is scheduled for March 30.

Japanese consul speaks on political change

Contributed by Clifton Parker

Japan’s stunning political shift last summer is a reflection of deep-rooted angst within the Japanese people, a top diplomat of that country said.

Yasumasa Nagamine, the San Francisco-based consul general of Japan, told a campus audience Jan. 28 that he expects big adjustments ahead as a result of the Democratic Party of Japan’s landslide election in August 2009.

“A very dramatic change has taken place,” said Nagamine, who has worked as a Japanese diplomat for 33 years.

“The Japanese people feel a loss of direction and frustration about future planning and job security.”

UC Davis expert testifies at Prop 8 trial

UC Davis psychology professor Gregory Herek is testifying today for plaintiffs seeking to overturn Proposition 8, the state ballot measure passed in 2008 that bans gay marriage in California. Herek, an internationally recognized authority on prejudice against lesbians and gay men, testified this morning that for gays and lesbians, the distinction between ‘marriage’ and a ‘domestic partnership’ was about more than just words. He also testified that research shows that gays and lesbians do not choose their sexual orientation and that they are subject to stigma.

Grad student blogs from World Universities Forum, Davos

UC Davis graduate student Abigail Boggs has been blogging over the weekend about her trip to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Universities Forum with Chancellor Linda Katehi. So far, she has blogged on “How universities think,” innovation and universities in China, and (satirically) on “How to Destroy a Department.”

Katehi addressed the conference today on “Privatizing a Public Research University.” In her talk, according to Boggs, Katehi summarized the history of public universities from the nineteenth century on, and the achievements of publicly-funded schools such as the University of California. But she also described a long-term trend to reduce public investment in research and education, as attitudes shift away from public funding of education for the public good towards seeing education as a personal entitlement.

How should Senator Kennedy’s seat be filled?

On Findlaw.com, UC Davis constitutional law expert Vikram Amar discusses the issues around filling the late Senator Kennedy’s seat. The Seventeenth Amendment permits, but does not require, state legislators to authorize governors to appoint someone to fill a vacant seat until a new election can be held. Massachusetts, like most states, did have this system until 2004, but changed it that year apparently to block a Republican Governor from filling Sen. John Kerry’s seat, had he won the Presidential election that year.

The New Delta is coming, like it or not: leadership needed

A new Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta is coming, one way or another, write UC Davis water experts Jay Lund, Peter Moyle, Jeff Mount and  Richard Howitt, with Ellen Hanak from the Public Policy Institute of California in an opinion article in last weekend’s Sacramento Bee. (Scroll down the page for the article; it’s prefaced by a column by Daniel Weintraub).

The new Delta will have more open and sometimes saltier water in its central and western portions, with diverse, wildlife-friendly farmland nearby. The estuarine ecosystem will likely be healthier. And regions relying on Delta exports may receive somewhat reduced, but cleaner and more stable water supplies. This transition will cause disruptions, but in the long term it can create a healthier and more stable economy for the Delta region, with more recreation and an attractive, productive agricultural landscape.

Can health care make Americans healthy?

The US spends a lot of money on health care, but does badly on measures like life expectancy, childhood illness and maternal mortality compared to other developed countries. Will reforming the health care system make Americans healthier?

Probably not much, according to a number of experts in this article by Carrie Peyton Dahlberg in the Sacramento Bee. Providing universal health coverage and easier access to primary care will probably have some effect — especially for populations that have little access to health care now. But the biggest differences come from factors like income, crime, family structure, exercise and nutrition.