[Editor's Note:This is the second of two articles. Yesterday's article described in greater detail how Berkeley's new SmartBoot system, to be implemented on October 18, will work.]
Under the recently announced SmartBoot program, the Berkeley Police Department will drive a "boot van" around town. Equipped with cameras, computers, and a network connection this van will automatically detect parked cars from the scofflaw list - those with too many overdue parking tickets. When the van spots a scofflaw it stops and a parking enforcement officer boots the car with SmartBoot. Violators can remove the boot themselves if they are able to pay their fees and past due fines over the phone with a credit card. -more-
[Editor's Note:This is the second of two articles. Yesterday's article described in greater detail how Berkeley's new SmartBoot system, to be implemented on October 18, will work.]
Abdul Fattah Jandali, a young Syrian Muslim immigrant in Wisconsin, never met his son Steve Jobs. When a baby was born to the 23-year-old Jandali—now known as John— and his 23-year-old German-American girlfriend, Joanne Schieble, in 1955, there was no chance he'd be able to grow up with his biological parents. -more-
[Editor's Note: This is the first of two articles about Berkeley's new SmartBoot system. Tomorrow's article will explore the risks to citizens created by the city's use of this technology..]
Have you accumulated too many overdue parking parking tickets? If so, the Berkeley Police Department is putting you on notice: your car may soon be booted.
Beginning October 18th BPD will start using new tools to enforce against parking scofflaws. The "boot van", equipped with cameras, a computer, and wireless network connection, will roam the city scanning the license plates of parked cars, looking for those with too many overdue tickets. -more-
Fever, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. For members of the University of California at Berkeley community, these symptoms could spell more than a common cold -- they could mean a case of the mumps.
The university community is experiencing an outbreak of the viral infection after several cases of mumps were confirmed in students last Thursday, campus health officials said.
On Tuesday, UC Berkeley's health services website posted an alert about the outbreak, encouraging all Cal students, faculty and staff -- regardless of their vaccination history -- to receive an additional dose of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, or MMR. -more-
Charles Rawson Collier, a long time resident of Berkeley, passed away on September 6,2011, just days before his 76th birthday. Charles came to Berkeley in 1964 with his first family to work as a visual artist, producing acrylics, etchings and prints. He soon became involved with the Free Speech Movement, participating in demonstrations and rallies at the Peoples’ Park and elsewhere in Berkeley. He with his wife Corlu founded the Committee for the Rights of the Disabled (CRT), a precursor of the Center for Independent Living in the Berkeley area. Charles advocated for handicapped accessibility on San Francisco transport and many other issues. He himself fought lifelong adversity and disability to live independently in his own home until his recent illness. -more-
University of California at Berkeley professor Saul Perlmutter won the Nobel Prize in physics today by being part of a team of scientists who discovered that the universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating pace. -more-
Rumors escaping from last night's special meeting of the Berkeley City Council,reported this morning, indicated that as widely expected Deputy City Manager Chris Daniel will become Berkeley's Interim City Manager when Phil Kamlarz retires at the end of November. This has now been confirmed in an email from Councilmember Jesse Arreguin forwarding a communication from the city clerk's office.
Councilmember Worthington, seconded by Councilmember Moore, moved to appoint Christine Daniel as Interim City Manager for a period of 6 months, subject to review at that time and to authorize the Mayor to negotiate salary.
The motion, which passed unanimously, was sponsored by Berkeley's two gay councilmembers, possibly because Daniels will be not only Berkeley's first woman city manager, but also the city's first Lesbian and first openly gay city manager. -more-
The American Planning Association has designated Berkeley's Northbrae neighborhood, the home of Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, as one of "America's Great Places". From the APA website: -more-
Saul Perlmutter, who led one of two teams that simultaneously discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, to be shared with two members of the rival team.
Perlmutter, 52, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a faculty senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), led the Supernova Cosmology Project that, in 1998, discovered that galaxies are receding from one another faster now than they were billions of years ago. -more-
Federal and state laws require the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District to adjust its ward boundaries every 10 years in order to equalize populations following the completion of the federal census. -more-
Parent trigger laws, according to their proponents, give parents power. Gregory McGinity, managing director of policy for the Broad Education Foundation, calls them "a way for parents' voices to be heard."
Sounds good. But is the parent trigger concept a way to put parents in charge of their kids' education, or is it part of a political agenda that will rob parents of even more control? While hardly anyone argues that parents don't want, and don't deserve, a voice in their children's schools, many educators, and even parents themselves, doubt that parent trigger laws increase their involvement.
Many teachers believe parent trigger laws are a way for charter schools to gain a bigger share of the education system. For McGinity, that's not a bad idea. The Broad Foundation promotes the proliferation of charter schools, which he says simply offer parents "a different way for a school to operate." Teachers, however, are alarmed. They see the expansion of a privatized education system, and view parent trigger laws as a means for rushing the process forward.
Their concerns illustrate the big stakes behind passing and implementing these laws. Several very conservative players in national education reform have made parent trigger proposals a key part of their agenda. As they're introduced in state after state, California's experience is being watched closely. -more-
“Hot” is not what makes toys great, because “hot” gets cold fast. What is more important is play value of the toy, appropriateness for child’s age, interests and abilities plus the child’s ability to be playful, and engage with the right toy that best matches the child. Dr. Toy reminds parents and teachers that “play is children’s work” and should be respected and understood by all adults. We should be thinking: “What products or ‘tools for play’ can we obtain to provide wholesome experiences for children and plenty of positive play interactions?” -more-
As Jimmy Durante used to say, ever’body wants tuh ged in tuh duh’act. (If you’re too young to remember him and/or don’t come from Brooklyn, Everybody Wants to Get into the Act.) After a frustratingly slow start, the Occupy Wall Street action finally has legs.
Over the weekend, it became front page news in the big national papers. They all ran approximately the same story, recounting how the previously invisible campers took to the road and were arrested in impressive numbers while trying to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in the auto lane. Most of the stories featured approximately identical quotes from various Poli Sci professors at second-tier institutions, ones easily located in the metropolitan areas where the newspapers were published, on the order of “If they want to accomplish anything, they’ll need a program and identified leaders.”
Well, no. The most useful analysis of what seems to be going on could be found on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times Science Section, in a fascinating article about slime molds. Here’s the basics: -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Today the Planet received a press release from the office of Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), touting a bill she sponsored that would let homeowners borrow against the value of their property to finance installing solar energy systems, backed by government bonds, with payback billed with property taxes. This plan is similar to one originally floated in Berkeley by her husband Mayor Tom Bates's then assistant, Cisco DeVries.
The release describes the Berkeley experiment as being "highly successful" but for another point of view, see Berkeley's Solar Plan Goes Dark, The city has decided to abandon its once-touted home-solar financing program. an article by Judith Scherr in the East Bay Express.
You be the judge. Here's the release: -more-
Here's a particularly juicy post on Richard Brenneman's blog, pointing to a juicy story on another blog: -more-
As is often the case in sleepy Berkeley, there's not much news this weekend. Most likely this issue will be up until Monday, if you're wondering. -more-
Reader Roger Marquis sent me the link to a broadcast by environmental lawyer Gary Patton on KUSP in Santa Cruz.
It's about a blatant attempt to gut CEQA which had been passed by California Democrats in Sacramento and when he wrote was on Jerry Brown's desk. Roger said:
"I haven't read anything (yet) about how our representatives voted on AB900, the latest attack on CEQA. Here's the story on Gary Patton's Land Use Report.
Wish we had something like this here in the East Bay."
Here's what happened after the Patton broadcast aired on September 12:
Brown signed AB 900, along with SB 292, whose implementation was required for AB 900's implementation. State Representative Nancy Skinner voted for both these awful bills; State Senator Loni Hancock voted yes on 900 and no on 292. -more-
“If people have an exciting idea, certainly we can try and show community support so that we can encourage the property to move forward,” Worthington said. “Having a vacant lot sitting there is costing the city a lot in terms of lost vitality to Telegraph.”
—Daily Californian 10-4-2011
This quotation was a prominent part of the most recent story on the vacant lot at the corner of Haste and Telegraph currently being demonized by public officials, press, residents, and students. The latest article in the Daily Californian describes University of California architecture students eagerly offering designs for projects-to-be in an atmosphere of urgency.
The article neglects to mention that the vacant lot at Haste and Telegraph was previously a single room occupancy hotel which provided both retail space and 77 units of crucial low-income housing. The building was the victim of deliberate arson, as the previous residents know who received warning the night before one wing was set ablaze. -more-
Berkeley residents are beginning to understand why there is no money for those nasty potholes, decayed play structures, community pools, and safety-net social services. They are also beginning to see cracks in the whole civic structure as the City is forced to cover tens of millions in unfunded pension and infrastructure liabilities. -more-
Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available. -more-
Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street - -more-
Berkeley's civic leaders have a reputation for making profound declarations on national and global politics but when it comes to decisions regarding quality of life issues of people right here in Berkeley they seem to be incompetent or uncaring. Much can be said about the treatment of people who are poor and homeless or mentally ill but even in small matters one might wonder how decisions are made about what and for whose benefit. My experience is an example.
I live in a senior residence near Dwight and Telegraph and enjoy the shops and restaurants as well as the street life along the Avenue. I also appreciate the easy access to downtown Berkeley on the #1 and the #1R bus which I use almost daily to go to the library and the YMCA. AC Transit is a boon – buses run fast and frequently, but no matter how efficient the system is, riders must always expect to have a wait. That's why benches are placed at bus stops. That's why there was a bench at the bus stop on the corner in front of Peet's on Dwight and Telegraph. On July 10 that bench was removed. That was extremely disturbing. -more-
First of all, please give me credit for my ability to understand this issue. It is not that I don’t understand, I simply do not agree. -more-
Tom Friedman Tries to Scapegoat Baby Boomers -- He Should Remember That We Helped Forge American Prosperity
Baby Boomers, who have now morphed into “young seniors,” certainly did not contribute to the economic decline of America. On the contrary, this huge demographic bulge—as we have moved through our highly-publicized life cycle-- helped create the country’s consumerist prosperity with our teenage allowances and middle age purchases.
Yet running through the debate on the national debt is the subterranean belief that “young seniors,” once known as Baby Boomers, are stealing from future generations by having too many hip replacements and using up too much medical care to stay healthy and active. -more-
Elderly musicians hear better than elderly non-musicians. Age-related hearing loss is a significant detriment to quality of life in the aged although it is poorly understood. Oxidative stress causing loss of hearing cells is one theory. Chronic exposure to loud noises in the environment is another. It would seem that listening and playing music throughout one’s life could damage the ear. However, a new study comparing aged musicians to non-musicians suggests that decline in cortical auditory processing may be reduced in musicians whereas decline in cochlear function is similar to non-musicians. According to lead researcher Benjamin Rich Zendel, being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing. This advantage widens considerably for musicians as they get older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians. -more-
We were bad. Incorrigible, they said. We had curious minds, awkward bodies and awakening hearts. When we disrupted the class with our chattering and chaotic behavior, the teacher asked us to leave the room and stand in the hall until we behaved properly. On our report cards we received "unsatisfactory" for our social behavior.
The year was 1957. Our teacher viewed us as difficult, inattentive, and troublesome, but no one ever suggested to our parents that we had a medical problem or learning disability that required medication.
But that was then, when we were 11 years old and the great waves of hyperactivity/ADHD diagnoses and stimulant medications were still a thing of the future. Now we wonder what would happen if we were misfits in 2007. Would we be referred for medical diagnosis? Would we be among the nearly 10% of children currently treated with psychoactive drugs? -more-
Lost in debate over whether the Obama administration had the right to carry out the extra-legal execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Yemini cleric and al-Qaeda member, is who pulled the trigger? It is not a minor question, and it lies at the heart of the 1907 Hague Convention, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the 1977 additions to the ‘49 agreement: civilians cannot engage in war.
In the main, laws of war focus on the protection of civilians. For instance, Article 48, the “Basic Rule” of Part IV of the 1977 Geneva Conventions, states, “In order to ensure respect for and protection of civilian populations and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between civilian populations and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.” -more-
My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
—W. S. Merwin, b. 1927 -more-
Most persons who have severe mental illness would like to work, if they possibly can. We are often prevented from working by the barriers against us in society and not just by the disability. Having a severe mental illness is a perfectly legitimate reason for not having a job. It would not be accurate to call us bums or freeloaders, any more than someone who suffers blindness or a broken back. While our disability is invisible, it is just as real as a person’s disability that is plainly visible, such as a missing limb. -more-
The defining characterisitic of the 112th Congress has been extreme Republican partisanship, an unprecedented willingness to hold the Federal government hostage until conservative demands are satisfied. The GOP tactic has disrupted the US and demolished the myth of a middle ground in American politics. -more-
The War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s monumental 2007 television production, has recently been shown again. The War follows 40+ persons from 1941 to 1945, focusing on the citizens of four American communities. The book companion to the series is The War; An Intimate History, 1941-1945, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Burns. The words and photographs of two of the men who appear throughout -- Quentin C. Aanenson of Minnesota and Eugene Bondourant Sledge of Alabama – are particularly poignant, especially episode five –“FUBAR -- fucked up beyond all repair.” -more-
Arts & Events
The Berkeley Arts Festival, now in residence at 2133 University Avenue, carries on throughout October. Here are the events, day by day: -more-
The film opens October 7 at San Francisco's Roxie Theater
Last year, filmmaker David Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman created a mega-buzz by pushing the idea that the problem with US education was: lazy, overpaid, unionized, tenure-protected teachers. Guggenheim's solution: "privatizing" education by promoting charter schools (which, in many cases, were publicly supported).
Well, hold onto your cape, corporate crusaders, because a new documentary is set to hit the screen like a load of kryptonite and is guaranteed to blow holes in that argument. American Teacher, a documentary directed by Academy Award-winner Vanessa Roth and narrated by Oscar-winner Matt Damon, puts the superhero cape where it belongs — on the shoulders of the country's dedicated and self-sacrificing teachers.
Instead of looking at the problem through the eyes of desperate parents, anxious children or an über-administrator like Michelle Rhee, American Teacher offers the missing perspective — education as it's seen and lived by the women and men who dedicate their lives to the classroom. -more-
"Many a singer's career has been ruined by the premature singing of songs."
A play about frustrated personal and social aspirations, about mothers and daughters, men and women, Michelle Carter's new play, Patience Worth was premiered by Symmetry Theatre Company—one of the handful or two of the Bay Area's tiny independent troupes that stage unusual shows with acting and production values that can rival the artistry of the bigger theaters—tells the true story of Pearl Curran (Megan Trout), an almost painfully normal young woman of the nineteen-teens, the pain all her own, a yearning to be somebody better, or of a better class. Pearl had little education besides musical training, but became widely published, the words on the page ostensibly not her own, but those of Patience Worth, a 17th century woman's spirit Pearl claimed to be speaking for. -more-
Press Release: Afghanistan Peace Day: On the 10-year anniversary of the US war in Afghanistan, the Afghan and American people call for peace.
Sunday, October 9th, 2011, 3pm - 7pm, Fremont, CA
On the 10th year of the US/NATO war in Afghanistan, the Afghan community along with their American allies will be gathering in Fremont, CA for “Afghanistan Peace Day”. This will be the first time in Fremont that such a gathering for peace will take place. -more-
Friends of Negro Spirituals will hold their 8th Annual Heritage Day this Saturday, 3:30-5:30 p. m. at the west Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline, Oakland. Admission: free. -more-
Taking a play that most literary folk know the myth of and turning it contemporary is a tricky undertaking. Adam Bock has masterfully accomplished this in his new play PHAEDRA produced by the Shotgun Players at the Ashby Stage across from the Ashby BART. -more-
I believe it's safe to state that October is everyone's favorite month of the year, with red leaves falling from liquid amber trees and glorious sunsets. You my not know, however, that October derived its name from the Latin "Octo", meaning 10th month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Having provided readers with this fascinating information, we now list some of the unique cultural and educational events taking place this month. -more-
Hop aboard The Magic School Bus Live as they explore “The Climate Challenge” with Ms. Frizzle and her curious class.
Based on the latest book in the popular Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen, this energetic new musical follows the adventures of everyone’s favorite Magic School Bus characters—endearingly awkward Arnold, petite powerhouse Wanda, spunky Keesha, and their classmates—as they travel with their exuberant teacher from the polar ice to the tropics and from the ocean to the upper atmosphere to investigate why the world is getting warmer, why we should care, and what to do about it. -more-
Opens Friday at the Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco and in Berkeley at the Elmwood.
If you don't have $25 to spend on Joe McGinniss' new book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, you might want to get a quick-read in the form of the new British documentary, Sarah Palin: You Betcha! But, fair warning, you just might find yourself wishing the movie screen came equipped with a fast-forward button. -more-