Features & Columns

San Jose Hosts Inaugural Viva CalleSJ

Viva CalleSJ organizers want to model their extended block party
after CicLAvia's Open Streets event in Los Angeles. Read More


Algorithm Nation

You can be perceived as compulsive," it began. Not flattering, I thought, but it's possible. "You are consistent; you enjoy familiar routines. You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of self-expression." Typical observations for an astrologer, but these didn't come from a person. I was reading my "hyper-personal" profile, a description of my personality traits and values created solely from what I post online. » Read More

Conservation Meets Tech at Nerds for Nature

Dusk creeps across the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. The salty, grainy smell of baked marsh grasses wafts through the door of a conference room at the Peninsula Conservation Center, as Zach Miller, lean and alert, stands by the door, waiting for the clock to strike 7. As stragglers settle in, Miller introduces himself. Born and raised in Mountain View, he's an ex-lawyer working for Acterra, a nonprofit that connects volunteers to environmental opportunities. » Read More

Elon Musk: Silicon Valley's Man of Mystery

Just as the world was growing weary of the endless paeans to Steve Jobs as our times' defining entrepreneur, along comes a figure who seems to be even more audacious, complex and transformational-while just getting started. His steely resolve makes Jobs look like a cultural romantic. Elon Musk combines a disciplined scientific mind with a dash of John DeLorean recklessness. » Read More

Silicon Valley Startups Develop Plant-Based Meat and Dairy Staples

A little more than decade ago, Pat Brown made the switch from vegetarian to vegan. He had no problem changing his diet and giving up eggs and milk and other products derived from animals. But there was one thing he couldn't live without: cheese. Most vegan cheeses are made from oils or ground up nuts, but Brown wanted something authentic. A microbiologist who has taught at Stanford for 25 years, he was well aware of the relatively simple biochemical reactions required to produce cheese. » Read More

Silicon Valley Fall Arts Preview

The season in music, stage, film & visual arts. Perpetually tardy bursts of Indian Summer heat enable our region to forget that August's end means the sunny season's demise is nigh—at least technically speaking. And as the weather cools down, and the El Nino rains pick up (fingers crossed), opportunities arise to consider just how to spend the darker, drearier days. » Read More


'Our Lives in This Place' Promotes Public Spaces

Near the Naglee Park Garage, a portable kiosk sits on the southern side of San Carlos Street. At the kiosk, anyone can walk up and rifle through stacks of bright, artsy postcards, all printed with quotes from various community members of proposed urban village projects. » Read More

Chang-rae Lee Visits SJSU to Discuss New Novel

Novelist Chang-rae Lee writes about disenfranchisement. His characters and environments tend to unfold in Hermann Hesse-level proportions of alienation. Someone, somewhere, always seems to be inner-scrambling to reconnect with a mislaid page of his own composition. For example, one can imagine Jungian shades of Harry Haller from Hesse's Steppenwolf and Emil Sinclair from his Demian and transplant them to Lee's protagonist in A Gesture Life. They may even be distant literary cousins. » Read More

Kepler's Books 60th Anniversary

I sat right next to Joan Baez when Kepler's Books and Magazines in Menlo Park turned 50. It was a helluva show. That was 10 years ago, and now the legendary independent bookstore will celebrate its 60th year on Saturday with a free block party. Baez, of course, was a fixture at the store during its heyday in the 1960s, just after Roy Kepler, along with Cody's in Berkeley and City Lights in San Francisco, helped usher in a brand new concept: paperback books » Read More

ImagineSJ Kickstart Ideas for Arts and Entertainment

Last week, the anti-man-about-town attended another installment of ImagineSJ, a giddy nouveau-marketing exercise designed to install local arts practitioners on panel sessions in order to foster discussion about the cultural issues of the neighborhood. The first installment two months ago focused on the "San Jose music scene," as if everything was somehow reducible to one and only one "scene." Nothing even remotely new or substantive was offered, as it was the same conversation thousands of us have already had in every bar, restaurant and party over the last 20 years. » Read More