Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

John Yoo on Berkeley Again

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:05 PM

We understand why John Yoo needs to ridicule the city that hosts the university he works for. It's the only way his ego can process the fact that thousands of people would spit on him if he walked past. And so Yoo goes to work on Berkeley again, this time in a Q&A with the New York Times' Deborah Solomon. "At Berkeley, protesting is an everyday activity," he says. "I am used to it. I remind myself of West Berlin -- West Berlin surrounded by East Germany during the Cold War. ... There are probably more Communists in Berkeley than any other city in America, but I think of them more as lovers of Birkenstocks than Marx." Hey, tired hippie cliches and a self-regard that allows you to compare yourself to a city! That's pretty good work for one afternoon. But your Berlin analogy needs a little work, Professor. Dial that timeline back to 1939 or so, and you'll have pegged it just right.

Quote of the Day

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 9:34 AM

"I'm here because of pain killers and my commitment to Oakland." Ron Dellums, to KTVU. We know this is a week old, but it's just too bizarre not to point out. Dellums actually spoke to a member of the media, and now we have a pretty good idea why he generally refuses to: Because he comes across as cranky and odd. Here's Dellums explaining his prolonged and repeated absences from City Hall: "If somebody wakes me up at six o'clock in the morning and says a kid just blew his brains out, am I on the job?" Ooooookay. And here's Dellums on how the media focuses on trivialities like Tiger Woods and his habit of charging the public for four-star hotel rooms: "Do you think that's a reality when we've got global warming, global poverty and global pain and serious issues around the country? ... You have distorted the reality of human life and you have a responsibility to talk about the reality. So I thank you for giving me this opportunity and I'm talking to you as a real guy, not some lightweight politician." Man, that's just all kinds of weird. I mean, global pain? Does humanity have a collective case of lumbago that we don't know about? Is Tiger Woods distracting us from noticing that all six billion of us have a really gnarly migraine?

Hey, What's Chevron Been Doing Lately?

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Why, ripping off the public, of course. Reuters reports that the East Bay oil giant has agreed to pay $46 million in royalties that, the Justice Department claimed, it underreported while extracting natural gas from land owned by the federal government. Chevron released a statement, in which officials claim that they agreed to settle in order to make a long, complicated legal headache go away. Uh huh. Funny how they're never so agreeable when they think they can win.

We Love Science! Cancer Edition

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory researcher Mina Bissell got the royal treatment from New York Times science writer (and sister of Judy Bari) Gina Kolata yesterday morning. Bissell is among a handful of cancer researchers who have spent decades quietly developing a provocative thesis: cancer isn't just a matter of genes going kablooie, but somehow arises from the interaction between the cancerous cells and surrounding tissue. The piece opens 20 years earlier, with Bissell handing a paper she had written on the subject to a fellow scientist visiting the lab. "What do you want me to do with it?" her colleague snorted as he dropped it in the garbage. Now, Bissell and others are making fascinating new progress on the genesis of malignant tumors. Read it all, and learn that even now, you're probably walking around, littered with tiny tumors that don't become malignant for some reason. One word: eww.

Ellen Goodman Retires

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 8:56 AM

Huh. Ellen Goodman, whose tepid, mushy column can be found in Dean Singleton's newspapers, is hanging it up after four decades. Good. It's not that Goodman was particularly predictable or repetitive (that honor belongs to Bob Herbert), but almost every columnist starts repeating the same tropes, in the same voice, after a couple of years. Best to give it up and find something fresh to do. Otherwise, you find yourself writing the same old piece forty years down the road. Just like Ellen Goodman.

Lovelle Mixon's Mom Won't Sue Oakland

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 8:43 AM

Chip Johnson has an odd column this morning. After Lovelle Mixon started the shootout that left himself and four police officers dead, local lawyer Christopher Morray-Jones called Mixon's grandmother and talked about the possibility of suing the city. (Mixon's sister Reynete was caught in the apartment when the police stormed it and began the last leg of the tragedy.) The Mixons didn't want to sue, but agreed to let him file a preliminary claim, just in case they changed their minds. Now the press has got wind of it, and the Mixons face public outrage over the chutzpah of suing the city whose officers Lovelle had murdered. And they never wanted to, fully aware of the pain Lovelle caused so many. It's a sad, awkward little epilogue to one of the city's most tragic stories.

Oakland Army Mom's Sad Dilemma

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 8:33 AM

The Trib's Angela Woodall has a terrific, squirm-inducing piece on the choices one Oakland Army specialist had to make when she was told to ship out to Afghanistan. Alexis Hutchinson joined the Army in 2007 and had been in the ROTC program throughout high school. But when she gave birth to a child earlier this year, she ran into problems. The father has become estranged from her, and Hutchinson planned to have her mother take care of the child when she was deployed overseas. But the mother soon realized that she couldn't take care of the newborn on her own, and Hutchinson had a choice to make: obey orders, or take care of her child. She chose the latter, was AWOL for a day, and imprisoned when she came back. Hutchinson now faces an "other than honorable discharge" in the next few weeks. It's well worth reading in its entirety.

Monday, December 28, 2009

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