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University of California, Davis





The new Pangaea
By Brian Riley
Commentary originally published in: The California Aggie, October 11, 2010, p. 2

There’s a new spirit of unity in the air, wafting through our hallowed halls, making its way out to the quad where discontented students mingle, meandering among us and through us, winding itself around the patterns of our thoughts as we collaborate to create new patterns and new causes.

What is the cause of the current age? We seek unity while recognizing the beauty of diversity, and also cultural affirmation while embracing a pluralistic social scheme...

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The Art of Baseball
By Brian Riley
Posted: March 24, 2013, 11:55 pm Pacific Time

The Oakland A’s are a special team to me, due to precious memories and experiences I had with my dad growing up, so when the opportunity arose to attend Game 5 of last October’s American League Division Series with the A’s facing Detroit at the Coliseum in Oakland, I jumped at the chance.

One reason I had for attending the game was to test out my hypothesis that baseball is a type of art, specifically a kind of live improvisational performance art. By this I mean the way the players make choices and influence and determine the flow of the game...


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Billy Ball
By Brian Riley
Posted: March 30, 2013, 9:35 pm Pacific Time

“You guys play baseball like old people s%*#w—sloppy and slow.” That’s how my dad told me he began his stint as baseball manager one year when I was too young to play on his team, attempting to motivate a bunch of teenaged boys who needed to have a fire lit under them in order to be motivated to win. He asked his assistant coach, a minister, to stay home that day, so he could implement his strategy...

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Skating in the Winter
Written: December 16, 2004
Posted: May 17, 2013, 5:24 am Pacific Time

As the wobbling earth careens past a winter sun, having shaken off the multicolored leaves of nature’s earnest endeavors, so too is the wintertime and the ushering in of a new year a good time for seeking inspiration and reflecting on one’s place in the world.

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Music For Our Pluralistic Age
By Brian Riley
Written: October 11, 2012
Posted: May 20, 2013, 3:35 am Pacific Time

Bread Fam, a new hip hop group with lead singer Random Abiladeze played recently at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen in Davis. It’s a new group, formed officially just last year, that plays deeply alluring music. I had not even known about the concert beforehand, but couldn’t resist being drawn in while taking a stroll in downtown Davis.

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Interview with John Glenn
By Brian Riley
Interview: August 16, 2012
Posted: June 11, 2013, 9:00 pm Pacific Time

BRIAN RILEY: I was reading up on some of the things that were written starting in 1974, when it became a popular topic — colonizing space — putting space stations up. What’s your take on humans colonizing space?

JOHN GLENN: Well, I think it’s good to do research first. I think we’re a long ways from really putting colonies of people out there who would live their whole lives out there in space. I don’t see that happening for quite some time. I think that it’s good for us to be able to travel in space and do research in space, and I emphasize the research, because space travel to me is far more than just seeing how far we can go.

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Interview with Steve Wozniak
By Brian Riley
Interview: August 16, 2012
Posted: June 16, 2013, 10:17 pm Pacific Time

RILEY: Do you think we might have to revamp our general political system in California and the US to improve some of these things that you’re talking about? Like funding for —

WOZ: I don’t see any way to revamp it, so saying “we should” — It’s not just a matter of we make a decision. I think if you ask people: Would you want the political system be really revamped, and here’s few categories and ways, I bet you could get 90 percent of the people to say yeah, they want, but it’s just not gonna happen. I mean, the powers that control what can happen — You can’t move — People actually, you know, believe it or not, as much as they say they want change, they don’t like the way it is, they don’t want very much change at all, ever. They prefer the status quo, the trusted guidelines of life and how it works and what we have and how decisions are made and what we do in life. They really are pretty scared. They don’t want to admit it, but it’s part of that not being as smart as we think we are...

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SpaceShipOne wins X Prize
Rutan designs, Allen pays, Binnie flies and Branson dreams big
By Brian Riley
Written: October 8, 2004
Posted: June 21, 2013, 1:35 am Pacific Time

It was a day for the kids and the spirit of youthful optimism. Sir Richard Branson was there, speaking about his new Virgin Galactic company and how he has made a deal with Rutan to design a fleet of “spaceliners” that will take ordinary people into space. He’s going to take all the profits from that venture and reinvest them in space travel, doing it “for the kids,” he said. He speculated that there might even be a “moon hotel” someday in the future. I asked him if he felt like he was just a big kid like Rutan. He answered: “Absolutely. Peter Pan is my favorite theatrical. I never want to grow up”...

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Exploring the ARPANET
By Brian Riley
Written: September 28, 2005
Posted: June 21, 2013, 1:36 pm Pacific Time

Anyone who’s ever wanted something really badly, but couldn’t have it, will understand how I felt when, as a sixteen-year-old high school sophomore, I stood in front of a computer terminal at Fresno State, all hot and sweaty from having dropped in through the false ceiling above a locked computer lab. My heart sank when I read the message on the screen: “The PDP 11/45 is closed for the Memorial Day Holiday.”

Trespassing is wrong, of course, but that’s what I did that day, having been influenced by a brilliant seventeen-year-old runaway from L.A. named Ray Cucco (koo SOH, as he pronounced it) who, unbeknownst to me, had a sleeping bag stashed on campus and was sleeping overnight in a different classroom every night to avoid getting caught.

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Response to Stanley Fish’s New York Times Opinionator blog post: “Norms and Deviations: Who’s to Say?
By Brian Riley
Posted on NYTimes.com: June 1, 2008, 8:23 pm Eastern Time
Re-posted on BrianRiley.us: May 6, 2014, 12:30 am Pacific Time
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This is not such an intractable conundrum as one might think. First of all, one must avoid making invalid generalizations. Not all people who are physically deaf belong to a social group on that basis. To automatically classify them such (assign them to a social group according to their physiology) is the quintessence of racism and should be avoided.

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Our future heritage
By: Brian Riley
Commentary originally published in: The California Aggie, October 18, 2010, p. 2

Many people nowadays, myself included, are engaged in a process of soul searching — a quest to find our place in the world and to figure out the meaning of life in these modern times. For me the journey began with a trip back to my childhood hometown in Illinois, where the French-Canadian ancestors on my mother’s side of the family settled in the 1800s...

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Limiting free speech
By: Brian Riley
Commentary originally published in: The California Aggie, November 22, 2010, p. 2

UC Berkeley was the site of the famous Free Speech Movement in the 1960s — a movement that was triggered by the administration’s refusal to allow political advocacy on campus. As a “daughter institution” of UC Berkeley, we here at UC Davis should feel an especially close kinship to those historic events. Indeed, many of us are regular participants in the current ongoing protests at the “mother campus,” and this brings a greater sense of unity to the broader movement...

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The human family
By: Brian Riley
Commentary originally published in: The California Aggie, November 8, 2010, p. 2

Recently I was invited to be one of several guest speakers at a meeting of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association here on campus. At one point the members of the BGPSA were being asked to stand up, one by one, to identify themselves. When the sequence of introductions came around to me, I somehow instinctively sprung up from my seat and gave my name and major, eliciting smiles among many who interpreted what I did, as a white person, as a symbolic gesture of goodwill and unity...

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A “conversation” with Yudof
By: Brian Riley
Commentary originally published in: The California Aggie, October 4, 2010, p. 2

Yes folks, Mr. Hierarchical, His Top-Down-Dude-ness, the Incredible Man on His Flying Budget Trapeze, the Pontifex Maximus Capitalismi, seer, sage, soothsayer, Lord of the Regents, the man whose housing rental costs exceed the combined tuition of more than a dozen students, the President of the University of California … (drum roll) … Mark Yudof … (thump) … was here on campus last Thursday...

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The Audimax spirit continues
By: Brian Riley
Commentary originally published in: The California Aggie, October 25, 2010, p. 2

The quest for Basisdemokratie, that is, democracy from the base or grassroots, lives on in Austria, as students celebrated the one-year anniversary of the “Uni brennt” protest this past weekend in Vienna. Inspired partly by our own University of California walkout in September 2009, students at the University of Vienna took over their largest lecture hall, called the “Audimax” (short for “Auditorium Maximum”), on Oct. 22, 2009 and stayed there for two months...

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Evolution of ‘The Tonight Show’
Commentary originally published in: The Fresno Bee, Saturday, June 6, 2009, p. B7

Jay Leno is no longer “The Tonight Show” host, a fact that causes many of us to think of the history of “The Tonight Show” and wax philosophical about it.

For those of us who are old enough to remember Johnny Carson, it was hard to avoid making comparisons between Johnny and Jay...

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It’s time to toss our outdated schools system
Commentary originally published in: The Fresno Bee, Saturday, August 21, 2004, p. B9

I’ve had some wonderful teachers in my life, but what they could do for us was severely limited by the schools system. I have vivid memories of the stultifying feeling I felt in second grade while having to do boring math worksheets in lockstep with my classmates. I thought to myself: “Ten more years of this?”

When a visiting scientist put on a chemistry demonstration at an assembly, I was captivated and wished that school could have been that fascinating every day...

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A grade-school journey reveals sincere gratitude
Commentary originally published in: The Fresno Bee, Saturday, April 3, 2004, p. B9

Call me sentimental, but in the last several years I’ve managed to find and meet most of my old elementary school teachers, learning a lot about myself and a lot about teachers in the process.

On one trip, I barely made it over the Rockies in my old Toyota Chinook RV, but somehow I managed to crawl into my sleepy old hometown in eastern Illinois. What a shock it was to find my first-grade teacher in the very same classroom where I had known her 28 years before...

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The Bilingual-Bicultural Revolution in Deaf Education
By Brian Riley
Presentation given at UC Davis: Thursday, May 21, 2015
Posted: June 20, 2015, 7:36 pm Pacific Time


Gallaudet University is the world’s only university for Deaf students, and it’s very interesting how I was attracted to go there as a master’s degree student. I thought I was just fascinated with American Sign Language. It’s a fascinating language. I saw a flyer for the Linguistics program at Gallaudet: “Sign language linguistics”—that was a new idea. As soon as I saw that flyer, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my master’s degree, so I set my sights on Gallaudet. I went there a year before to check it out, and I’m so glad I did, because I had the most fascinating experience.

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