Undercurrents: Director of Public Safety Should Seek Cause of Violence

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday September 21, 2007

One of the things I like least about our New Age Of Information Overload is that it seems to have birthed a sort of mix and mismatch trend in journalism in which a reporter—or columnist—does an online Google search of a subject of which they appear to know little, comes across two disparate bits of information that have some tenuous connection, slaps them together, and thereafter loudly announces that they have uncovered a “trend.” As a six-degrees-of-separation parlor game, this can function as an amusing distraction. As a way to conduct our community dialogue on social issues, it can be damaging, leading us into the realm of silliness, when it is seriousness that is called for. -more-

East Bay: Then and Now – Orchids and Industry Thrived Side-by-Side in Berkeley

By Daniella Thompson
Friday September 21, 2007

At the turn of the last century, wharves, lumber mills, farms, breweries, tanneries, and Victorian residences dotted West Berkeley. The largest employer south of University Avenue was the Standard Soap Company, which had occupied half a block between the bay shore and Third Street north of Allston Way since 1876. -more-

Garden Variety: The Orchid, the Legend, The Avowed Homosapiens

By Ron Sullivan
Friday September 21, 2007

This past Sunday I got a bargain, a cymbidium orchid in a gallon pot for five dollars. Nice healthy-looking thing, too. If I’d been willing to stagger around the crowded Sycamore Congregational Church bazaar conking innocent children on the head with a bigger pot, I could’ve had even more bargains. -more-

About the House: The Fight Between Old Houses and New Houses

By Matt Cantor
Friday September 21, 2007

If you stop and think about it, the notion that old houses are better is just as silly as the notion that new houses are better. The truth is that both things are true. Older houses are better in some way and newer houses are better in others. Construction is fraught with misconceptions. Another one is that the framing or “bones” of old houses is better than that of newer ones. -more-

Quake Tip of the Week

Friday September 21, 2007

Is Your Child’s School Prepared? -more-

Bungalow Details Revealed

By Steven Finacom, Special to the Planet
Friday September 21, 2007

Jane Powell is a bungalow and old house zealot. Every community should be lucky to have even one person like her. -more-

Column: The Public Eye: The Iraq War: Where’s the Strategy?

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday September 18, 2007

On Sept. 13, George W. Bush spoke to the United States about Iraq. In his most somber assessment to date, the president claimed the surge has achieved modest results and a few troops can return home. However, “Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America,” therefore additional troops will only “return on success.” Bush implied that large numbers of Americans would remain in Iraq throughout the remaining 17 months of his presidency. He didn’t present an exit strategy, but rather a profession of faith: U.S. troops can “win” in Iraq. -more-

Wild Neighbors: A New Field Guide to All Things Sierran

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday September 18, 2007

A few years back, the Planet asked me to review a slim (hip-pocket-size, actually) volume called Sierra Birds: A Hiker’s Guide by John Muir Laws, a joint venture of Berkeley’s Heyday Books and the California Academy of Sciences. I gave it a thumbs up, calling it “ideal…for beginning birders or hikers with only a causal interest in birds,” but also useful to seasoned watchers. Laws, like Peterson and Sibley, had written and illustrated his own guide, which did not assume knowledge of formal bird classification: all the streaky brown birds were illustrated together. The art was lively, the text concise and to the point. -more-