Column: Dispatches From The Edge: Afghanistan: A River Running Backward

By Conn Hallinan
Friday March 28, 2008

When historians look back on the war in Afghanistan, they may well point to last December’s battle for Musa Qala, a scruffy town in the country’s northern Helmand Province, as a turning point. In a war of shadows, remote ambushes, and anonymous roadside bombs, Musa Qala was an exception: a standup fight. -more-

Column: Undercurrents: Brace Yourself — Perata is Being Touted as a ‘Good Fit’ for Mayor

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 28, 2008

Back South, they say that if a single buzzard passes over your rooftop, don’t pay it no mind. But if you see a couple of them circling, you best check out in the yard. They’re most likely looking for easy pickings. -more-

Bay Area Architecture: The Identity Crisis Behind San Francisco’s Skyscraper Boom

By John Kenyon
Friday March 28, 2008
The current and proposed view of the San Francisco skyline from the East Bay.

Back in the late 1960s I had lunch in Regent’s Park in London with the editor of the RIBA Journal. As we strolled around in that lovely landscape, he gestured to the new Post Office Tower, a novel “foreign object” rising above the grand old trees and Regency terraces. Almost 600 feet high, crowned by a revolving-view restaurant and hung with satellite dishes, it was a living insult to any passionate contextualist. “I don’t dislike it,” said my colleague, “but it quite takes away that special joy of London—a collection of distinct neighborhoods.” -more-

Where Are We Going, and Why Are We in This Handbasket?

By Jane Powell
Friday March 28, 2008

With more bad economic news being revealed daily, I think even those of us who aren’t planning to sell, buy, or refinance a house are getting rather nervous. It’s come to the point where one starts to wonder how surreal it could get, given that some lenders are suddenly deciding to cancel or freeze home equity lines of credit, even for borrowers who have made all their payments on time, or are refusing to subordinate to new first mortgages, making it impossible for people to refinance. -more-

Garden Variety: Westbrae Nursery: Your Chance to Start a Trend

By Ron Sullivan
Friday March 28, 2008
Tree peony blossom the size of my dainty hand at Westbrae Nursery.

All you gardeners within striking distance of northwest Berkeley: Here’s your chance to be influential. Westbrae Nursery on Gilman Street changed hands in January and just had an official Grand Opening. Jeff Eckhart, who owns the business now along with his sister Chris Szybalski, told me he has a few definite ideas about new directions and he’s open to more. -more-

About the House: Rebuilding Together Needs You

By Matt Cantor
Friday March 28, 2008

I don’t know about you but I’m a person that’s very expert at feeling sorry for myself. If it’s not done my way, I’m grouchy. If they didn’t know what I wanted or anticipated how I was going to respond, I feel slighted. I’m not proud of it but that’s just the kind of gigantic baby I am. Waaaa. That’s why I volunteer. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Egrets, Deer and Prince Kropotkin

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday March 25, 2008
A great egret, perched on a fence at Lake Merritt.

Partnerships across species lines aren’t all that uncommon in nature. Where Darwin saw evolution as a process of deadly competition, the Russian aristocrat-anarchist Pyotor Kropotkin observed “mutual aid” everywhere-cooperative behavior not just within species, as in the beehive or wolfpack, but even between unrelated creatures. -more-