Column: Dispatches From the Edge: Spy vs. Spy; War With Syria?

By Conn Hallinan
Friday December 22, 2006

Spy vs. spy, the gang that couldn’t poison straight, or welcome to the new Cold War? -more-

Undercurrents: Debating the Use of the Word ‘Nigger’

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday December 22, 2006

I waited a bit to comment on comedian Michael Richards’ comedy club “nigger” meltdown, in part because there were other more pressing things to write about, in part because the use of the word “nigger” in American life is a serious, long-term discussion that need not rise to the surface only when it has become the talk-show, blogsphere fad of the moment. I’ve written on the subject before, at length, and expect to do it again, from time to time. -more-

About the House: The Benefits of Solar Water Heating

By Matt Cantor
Friday December 22, 2006

The practice of home inspection is tied, to a surprising degree, to a study of history. Some of that history is ancient and broad and some of it is as diaphanous as the study of the last five presidencies. -more-

Garden Variety: Aunt Ron’s Holiday Advice For The Gift-Lorn

By Ron Sullivan
Friday December 22, 2006

Uh-oh. It’s the 22nd. Last-minute gift shopping! If you celebrate Solstice, you’re late already. No matter. ’Tis the season on some calendar or other, and there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten someone, maybe or the quasi-mail service lost that perfect present you found in the Fussbudgets International catalogue. You’ve just now fished it out of your spamtrap, the email notice about the Christmas party at the executive director’s husbands’ brother-in-law’s stepdaughters’ new club, and you know that if you don’t show up you’ll be nominated to that Interminable Search Committee again. And you’re the Human Resources Director’s Secret Santa, oh joy. -more-

Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday December 22, 2006

Why Are We So Complacent? -more-

Column: Christmas in Las Vegas, Part One

By Susan Parker
Tuesday December 19, 2006

Friday, 4:30 p.m.: Arrive at Oakland International Airport with sister-in-law, one four-year-old and one two-year-old. Stand in line to check in bags. Stand in line to pass through security. Stand in line to view flight schedule. Learn that all Southwest Airline flights to Las Vegas are delayed by at least two hours due to bad weather in the Pacific Northwest. Stand in line at gate to see if tickets can be changed to fly out on 4 p.m. flight that is now leaving at 6 p.m. -more-

Crow Talk and Chickadee Alarms: What Birds Are Saying

By Joe Eaton, Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 19, 2006

I’ll admit that I don’t have much of an ear for the language of crows. Ron says they have a specific call that means “Raven!,” uttered when the crows are harassing one of their larger relatives or escorting it out of the neighborhood. This wouldn’t surprise me at all, since they do have an extensive vocal repertoire. -more-