The Public Eye: Worst Person of the Year: The U.S. Senate

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday December 23, 2009 - 08:58:00 AM

At the end of a decade marked by a general failure of U.S. leadership, 2009 saw the collapse of the Senate. Confronted with an array of difficult problems, a reactionary Senatorial minority put their personal political interests above those of the nation and blocked action by the progressive majority. -more-

About the House: Eaves and Deeply Set Windows Discourage House Leaks

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday December 23, 2009 - 09:08:00 AM

Houses leak. Bad news but it’s true. You knew this, so no big news flash, right? What’s not so evident to the uninitiated is why. And that’s such a large set of issues that I won’t attempt to give a quick, glib answer. That said, there are some big chunks of knowledge that experienced builders and a few architects know. So I will try to see if I can lay out some of them, especially since the rains are upon us, and many buildings are leaking now. -more-

Wild Neighbors: A Romp of Otters at Jewel Lake

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday December 23, 2009 - 09:10:00 AM
Two otters at the Jewel Lake Buffet, Tilden Park. They spent three or four days noshing, then took off for parts unknown.

“Romp,” according to several online lists of collective nouns, is an alternate term for a group of otters. “Bevy” is also available, but that’s too closely associated with “beauties.” And romp fits. Romp is pretty much what they do. They might even be said to rollick. -more-

Dispatches from the Edge: Obama’s Escalation: An Af-Pak Train Wreck

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:40:00 AM

When President Barak Obama laid out his plan for winning the war in Afghanistan, behind him stood an army of ghosts: Greeks, Mongols, Buddhists, British and Russians, all of whom had almost the same illusions as the current resident of the Oval Office about Central Asia. The first four armies are dust, but there are Russian survivors of the 1979-89 war that ended up killing 15,000 Soviets, hundreds of thousands of Afghans, and virtually wrecking Moscow’s economy. -more-

Undercurrents: A Call for a Comprehensive Oakland Citizen Planning Process

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:41:00 AM

The time has come—wouldn’t you think?—for Oakland to stop flailing around with piecemeal “solutions” for the future of the city’s central core and begin organized work on a comprehensive development plan. -more-

About the House: Living Together, Forming Intentional Communities

By Matt Cantor
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:53:00 AM
Kathy and Val in the kitchen of Brigid House on 10th Street.

I am unashamed to call myself a hippie. Though the phrase is still used in the pejorative by many and filled with untoward connotations for some, I choose to remain firmly camped among those who eschew the commonplace, dismal and colorless. I am not opposed to tattoos, public nudity or whole wheat pastry flour. Further, I would argue that, day-by-day, we are winning the war against the opposition. True, things don’t always look good for our side, but I remain hopeful. Heck, we elected a black president, and if you don’t think hippies are responsible for that, you may have taken some of the bad acid. -more-

Wild Neighbors: When Is a Tanager Not a Tanager?

By Joe Eaton
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:54:00 AM
Hawai’i o’o: not a honeyeater.

This summer, when I wasn’t paying attention, the western tanager was determined not to be a true tanager. This was not exactly a demotion, as was the reclassification of Pluto from bona fide planet to small planet-like object, or whatever it is now; more like a lateral transfer. Still, I expect this move came as a shock to a lot of birders. -more-