The Berkeley High Women’s Basketball team played Southern California’s Mater Dei for the Division I state championship at the Power Balance Arena (formerly Arco Arena) Saturday night. Unfortunately, there was none of the jubilation we experienced last week when they won the NORCAL Div. I title in the same arena because this time they lost the game, 40 to 57. -more-
A judge ruled today that Daniel Jordan Dewitt is mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges that he murdered Berkeley hills homeowner Peter Cukor last month. -more-
While searching for Hate Man downtown, I stopped off to reminisce with Drayco, who was stabbed last year in a tree in People's Park. The stabber said it was more like some pokes, but Drayco left a lot of blood in the park. I know. I was there for five hours watching the cops label every drop. Drayco agrees he lost a lot of blood, even though he refused emergency room treatment until the next day when cops picked him up. He didn't want to upset the pitbull puppy that now looks like a mule. -more-
Doe Library at the UC Berkeley campus greeted its second official century on March 21, 2012, with music, cupcakes, speakers, exhibits and—most important—evidence that it is still the vital heart of the academic campus envisioned in the early 20th century when it was designed and constructed. -more-
Callers to the Planet who live and work in the area near Russell and Sacramento in Berkeley have reported hearing gunshots and seeing many police officers and cars in the area about 1:35 today. The Berkeley Police Department dispatch operator says that there were "loud reports" heard, but no shooting victim has been located. -more-
As the whole world watched Berkeley police last week, I was scrambling for my piece of the media pie that had gone viral after the chief sent his info officer in the wee hours to a local reporter's home, seeking changes in the reporter's story. -more-
Hate Man was, reportedly, ordered by an Alameda County judge Monday to stay away from People's Park for three years.
The world-famous eccentric had been dodging trespassing tickets for years, managing successfully to stay one step ahead of the law, he has told me, but Monday, he misstepped.
Word of the eviction went out late Monday on local activists' Google lists. -more-
Four Occupy Cal protesters were arraigned today on misdemeanor charges for their involvement in a demonstration at Sproul Plaza at the University of California at Berkeley campus on Nov. 9. -more-
The Berkeley City Council in its infinite wisdom passed, on an 8-1 vote, a new Downtown Area Plan with attendant zoning changes which are supposed to facilitate its execution. Eight of the councilmembers voted for it, with Kriss Worthington, who's been around the block all too many times, the only no vote.
Arreguin and Anderson, who should know better, spoke enthusiastically of the "community benefits" the plan is supposed to provide, though Anderson, perhaps older and wiser, expressed some apprehension that they might get forgotten in the end. Since five skyscrapers downtown are the big ticket item, it might be appropriate to dub it the “pie in the sky” plan, in honor of
Woody Guthrie ’s Joe Hill's famous ditty, invoked in this space more than once: “There’ll be pie in the sky bye and bye.” The modern refrain would be a sarcastic “oh sure.”
The Editor's Back Fence
Happy Bonnie Hughes Day! Rumor has it that the Mayor and/or the City Council will issue a proclamation honoring arts impresario and civic gadfly Bonnie Hughes, and it couldn't happen to a nicer person. When I heard that this was in the works, I asked Bonnie if she might be suffering from a terminal illness, which is why sometimes people in Berkeley get proclamations, but no, she's fine. Whew!
Bonnie has put in an incredible amount of service to the people of Berkeley and the world in the 20 years or so I've known her and before. She's managed to combine two particular passions, the arts and civil liberties, in an amazing way which could only have worked as well as it has because her personal charm overwhelms any potential adversaries. -more-
Every parent raising black sons knows the dilemma: deciding how soon to have the talk. Choosing the words to explain to your beautiful child that there are some people who will never like or trust him just because of who he is - including some who should be there to protect him, but will instead have the power to hurt him. Training him how to walk, what to say, and how to act so he won't seem like a threat. Teaching him that the burden of deflating stereotypes and reassuring other people's ignorance will always fall on him, and while that isn't fair, in some cases it may be the only way to keep him safe and alive. -more-
Decade-Long Decline in Math and English Proficiency at Berkeley High Reported; Decline in College Readiness
Did you know Berkeley High students as a whole are less ready for college math and college English than other students in Alameda or California? This is one of the many alarming facts contained in the report prepared by Berkeley High in anticipation of a school visit by the WASC accrediting team on March 19-21. The full report is available at: http://bhs.berkeleyschools.
Many of us are traumatized by the decision by labor to abandon the Millionaires Tax. Let us consider just how this came about. First, The two largest unions in California, SEIU with 700,000 members and CTA with 325,000 immediately jumped on the Brown bandwagon. And even the California Nurses Association (CNA), which rhetorically supported the millionaires tax refused to donate even one penny to the campaign, and its leadership did absolutely nothing to galvanize a signature campaign. Many other unions and labor councils throughout California gave it only luke warm support. -more-
Recently released documents (dated March 8) reveal that in total violation of Berkeley's just cause eviction protections, the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) has agreed to force Berkeley's low-income public housing families out of their long-time public housing units, prior to the transfer of Berkeley's public housing properties to billionaires Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of The Related Companies of California, LLC, (a.k.a. Berkeley 75 Housing Partners, L.P.). -more-
One of the most surprising aspects of contemporary Republican politics has been their across-the-board attack on women’s health services and women’s rights. Rather than an isolated misogynistic program, these attacks should be viewed as one part of a conservative agenda to roll back gains made in the sixties.
Recently, MoveOn reported Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP’s War on Women ranging from changing the definition of rape to denying abortions in all circumstances to limiting access to contraception to defunding preschool programs and family planning agencies. It’s not only the women’s movement that’s being attacked, but also the civil-rights movement, the consumer movement, the environmental movement, and the gay-rights movement. All the accomplishments of the sixties are under attack by Republicans. They’ve returned to the conservative ideological framework that worked for them up until the McCain-Palin campaign, -more-
MY COMMONPLACE BOOK(a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
Writers are forever eight, over aware, and indignant.
—Adam Gopnik New Yorker, 3/17/08 in an article categorizing types of artists by mental/temperamental age. -more-
In 1976 Margaret Elliot Murdock was interviewed about her father and her San Francisco and UC, B early days. I gleaned herstory from her responses. Part 1 was mainly about her San Francisco childhood. Part 2 (last week’s column) took her to Berkeley and the University, and this week, Part 3 to the Sather Tower bells. -more-
Medical scientists believe that the brain structure is abnormal for persons with a major mental illness such as schizophrenia. Some persons with schizophrenia, perhaps a third, have enlarged ventricles, or empty spaces within the brain, which translates into less overall ability to function, reason, and experience the environment. Other brains of persons with schizophrenia are closer to normal, with structural problems that are more subtle, and more localized to within only some areas. Because of this theory, it makes sense to believe that a person with schizophrenia will still have problems even while medicated. A lack of control of impulses is frequently one of those problems. -more-
Editor's Note: Twenty years ago, journalist and historians Ruth Rosen, then a professor at U.C Davis and a columnist on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times, anticipated the public and state's unwillingness to stop the decline of the University of California. We reprint this to remind our readers that the gradual free fall of education in California has a long history.
Californians can no longer assume that their children can aspire to attend one of our public universities. In the next few weeks, legislators and administrators, faced with the state's whopping budget crisis, plan to raise student fees, chop departments, slice budgets and fire hundreds of faculty. Before long, access to California’s public universities will be sharply limited and higher education will become a privilege for the few. -more-
Insect metamorphosis is a strange and stirring phenomenon. Complex metamorphosis, that is, the process as it occurs in beetles, butterflies, bees, and flies. Whereas grasshoppers, say, just get larger at each successive molt, a moth completely reorganizes itself at every life stage. Gross anatomy, internal organs, physiological processes—everything changes when it transforms from larva to pupa, and again from pupa to adult. -more-
Antipsychotic and other types of medications, when used to help people get well, are moderately good things. Before these medications existed, countless mentally ill persons spent a lifetime literally being chained up, and had nothing added to them to hold their horrific disease in check. If not chained up in an asylum, persons with severe mental illness often became the “town idiot” or the “town drunkard.” It isn’t accurate to claim that mental illnesses didn’t exist prior to the invention of the medications. They did exist, and they who suffered from them had a very sorry lot in life. -more-
Arts & Events
Book Review: 'A Coward's Guide to Self-Defense--Combat Tactics for the Thinking Person,' by David I. Marshall
"Intensive martial arts training had gradually led me to a point of deep and painful recognition, pulling me toward the unexpected but undeniable: All the styles, systems, concepts, techniques, mindsets, myths, opinions, raging debates, and dear God, let's not forget secrets, don't necessarily work. At least not the way they've been advertised." -more-
Produced by PianoFight, OCTOPUS’S GARDEN by Scott Herman premiered Saturday at 414 Mason Street near Geary.
It is a domestic drama of the conflicts of a lesbian couple in choosing the sperm donor for their planned pregnancy. Told in reverse chronology, it has some very talented actors. However, the writing is mundane; it contains a few amusing moments of situational tension that evoke laughter, but it is the actors who carry the show by the easy believability of their performance and the emotional connections between them. -more-