Undercurrents: The Only Regret in the Obama Victory—I Wish My Parents Were Here

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 09:45:00 AM

Of many things, I wish my parents had lived long enough to see Barack Obama elected as the 44th President of the United States. I think they would have appreciated it far more than I ever could. -more-

The Public Eye: Beware of City of Berkeley Staff Bearing Chain Saws

By Zelda Bronstein
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 09:45:00 AM

On Oct. 2 the City of Berkeley butchered the big ornamental pear tree that grows in the sidewalk median in front of my house. -more-

The Public Eye: The Obama Moment

By Bob Burnett
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 09:41:00 AM

On election night, Barack Obama’s magnificent acceptance speech felt like a defining moment in American history. Adding to the elation many of us experienced for having supported the winning candidate in a twenty-two month presidential marathon was our sense that America had turned a page and headed off in a new direction. But what exactly is the Obama moment? -more-

Volunteer Canyon Still Lives Up To its Name

By Ron Sullivan
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 10:08:00 AM
Eileen, a former Berkeley citizen who “moved to Marin for love—nothing else could have dragged me out of my town,” spreads mulch around the mugwort and cow parsnip she’s just planted at Volunteer Canyon, Audubon Canyon Ranch.

On Sunday Nov. 9, some 30 volunteers planted more than 700 young native plants in that section of Audubon Canyon Ranch on Marin County’s Bolinas Lagoon. The canyon is named for the volunteers who worked to save the lagoon and other parts of the local seashore from a catastrophic oil spill in 1971. -more-

Wild Neighbors: The Raccoon Brain Revisited

By Joe Eaton
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 10:07:00 AM

Back to the raccoons. Last week I wrote about one way of indirectly assessing intelligence in non-human mammals: the Encephalization Quotient, the difference between actual brain size and expected brain size based on body size. It’s a measure on which humans outscore all our fellow mammals, bottle-nosed dolphins outrank the great whales, and dim creatures like opossums occupy the cellar. Based on data from the German biologist Dieter Kruska, carnivores have higher indices than hoofed mammals, and raccoons outdo their closest relatives, the bears, pandas, and coatis. -more-

East Bay: Then and Now—The Inventor, His House and the Neglected Bequest

By Daniella Thompson
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 10:05:00 AM
The Smyth House

A little-noticed gated driveway branching east off Hillside Avenue north of Dwight Way bears a name most Berkeleyans wouldn’t recognize: Fernwald Road. It leads to a UC apartment complex housing 74 student families. Smyth Fernwald, as the complex is called, is named after the previous owner of the land, engineer, inventor, and social economist William Henry Smyth (1855-1940). Fernwald was the name Smyth gave his estate in the mid-1890s. -more-

About the House: How Good a Deal is a Fixer?

By Matt Cantor
Thursday November 13, 2008 - 11:42:00 AM

It’s funny how little I know about a house prior to pulling up to the curb. Despite some lengthy conversation with my client, it really isn’t until I’ve arrived that I can actually see what I’m going to be dealing with. Had I known on this particular day what it was that I was going to see, I might have turned it down but, in retrospect, it was probably best that I didn’t know and showed up anyway. -more-