A University of California at Berkeley student has been arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated assault and hate crimes for allegedly making homophobic statements to another student, taking the other student's cellphone and then beating him late Tuesday night. -more-
A 25-year-old University of California at Berkeley student was robbed while walking south of campus early this morning, according to UC police. -more-
Tim's Vermeer: A Tricky, Magical Film from Penn and Teller
Opens February 14 at the SF Embarcadero and February 21 at the Elmwood in Berkeley
The new film from Penn and Teller (the multitasking Odd Couple behind the X-rated comic-doc, "The Aristocrats") is an irresistibly entertaining film about a self-effacing Texas inventor and his obsession with the 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.
There is a mystery that drives this film. But, in this case, it's not a question of "Whodunnit?" It's more a matter of "Howdunnit?"
There was always something special about Vemeer's masterpieces —a certain heightened clarity and illumination that give canvases like "Girl with a Pearl Earring" an eerie, almost photographic presence.
More than eight years ago, a Texas tinkerer named Tim Jenison became hooked on the idea that there was a special trick at work behind Vermeer's paintings. Jenison became fixated on trying to prove his suspicions. Bolstered by his experience as a pioneering designer of desktop video and CGI imagery, Jenison believed he knew Vermeer's secret: It was all done with mirrors—some 150 years before the invention of photography, Vermeer had found a way to capture living images by projecting them on canvas.
This theory clearly appealed to a pair of professional magicians like Penn and Teller. -more-
We just learned about the defeat of the UAW in Tennessee by a vote of 712 to 626. What really happened? The politicians and corporate leaders in the vicinity engaged in a vigorous campaign to defeat unionization. But UAW failed to be as vigorous as their opponents were. Although Volkswagen remained neutral, it imposed a serious constraint on the Union. It insisted that as a condition for being neutral, the Union should refrain from visiting workers at their home. UAW should have never accepted this condition. As experienced organizers know, visiting workers in a relaxed environment on a one on one basis is a powerful tool for winning support. Second, UAW decided against reaching out to the community. What a disastrous mistake! Unfortunately, a social movement approach is foreign to the current union leadership. -more-
On the chilly morning of St. Valentine’s Day, when their western sisters dig their pretty noses into outrageously expensive bouquets of red roses, dutifully delivered to their city offices by stressed couriers, most Russian women will be lucky to get a card and a chocolate rose from a supermarket.
Valentine’s Day in Russia is a reason to party and celebrate (read: drink and dance till early hours of the morning) but flowers will have to wait until March 8, International Women’s Day, an official public holiday in Russia when men try to be gentlemen and let women relax from home chores.
Probably, the only Russian ladies enjoying courier-delivered roses will be members of online dating services and the flowers will be sent by their overseas boyfriends. I am using the term “boyfriends” loosely here, as most online romances only flourish in cyberspace, with splashes of courier-delivered roses and chocolates being the only real things women might get.
Russia, fresh from Perestroika, opened its borders in the early ’90’s. It meant Russians no longer needed exit visas from the government to leave the country. Straight away, a whole universe of dating services started to offer introductions to beautiful Russian women who wanted to marry western men.
To an outsider, this might have looked like a way for women from a poor country to find a better life, but in truth what these women really wanted was to find a husband and start a family. Surprisingly enough, given Russia’s history of equal rights for men and women since the Revolution of 1917, Russian family paradigms remained rigidly centered around a man’s role as provider, and a woman’s role as wife and mother, so much so that successful career women feel inadequate if they do not have a husband and kids, and no amount of career success can make them feel good about themselves. -more-
Too many bicycles and autos collide, often resulting in serious injury and even death for the cyclist. Although all bikers are at risk, according to the California Highway Patrol teenage cyclists were involved in more traffic collisions than any other age group. It is urgent that our elected officials, both at the state and local levels, take notice and do something about it, particularly addressing the high risk of night cycling. -more-
All the brouhaha over Russia’s alleged leak of a tapped phone conversation between America’s top diplomat and a US State Department official has more than a touch of irony. While our National Security Agency have their electronic spooks in every corner of the world taping emails, phone conversations which has outraged many of our more ‘cherished’ allies, we feign outrage that the naughty Russians may have been listening to our diplomatic communiques. -more-
Charles J. Fillmore, one of the world's greatest linguists -- ever -- died last Thursday, February 13, at the age of 84 in San Francisco. He was the discoverer of frame semantics, who did the essential research on the nature of framing in thought and language. He discovered that we think, largely unconsciously, in terms of conceptual frames -- mental structures that organize our thought. Further, he found that every word is mentally defined in terms of frame structures. Our current understanding of "framing" in social and political discourse derives ultimately from his research, whose importance stretches well beyond linguistics to social and political thought -- and all of intellectual life. The world has lost a scholar of the greatest significance. -more-
In the last couple of weeks a verse that my sixth grade teacher induced me to memorize has once again popped into my brain. I’ve written about this before, when Molly Ivins died, but for those of you who didn’t go to the kind of school that featured memorizing nineteenth century poetry, here it is once more: -more-
I’m a middle-aged, affluent, prototypical WASP. I was born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County where my father and grandfather were small businessmen and Republicans. Knowing all this you’d expect me to be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. But I’m not. I’m unabashedly liberal. -more-
I once heard a psychiatrist assert that consciousness is probably an illusion. He was an extreme example of being polarized toward the medical model of mental illness.
There are some psychiatrists and others who worship science and believe it is the whole answer to life. They don't realize that their dogmatic clinging to the belief that today's science must account for everything (or else it doesn't exist) is a religion too. It is arrogant to believe that human knowledge is anything but in its infancy.
The reader shouldn't construe that I am siding with creationists, who I believe to be deluded members of a Christian cult. I am simply saying that physical science isn't nearly advanced enough yet to justify the level of faith in it that some people have. A good scientist ought to agree with this. -more-
Arts & Events
Parks are where children grow up, homeless people live and communities come together. We have created a documentary film to show the role of parks in the Berkeley community and present it to the public. The documentary follows the stories of a variety of people and their experiences in parks. Behind the Swings focuses on safety, park activity, and park histories. In the end, we hope that the viewer will understand why parks are such powerful and appealing environments to so many different people. -more-
Some laughs for Valentine's Day—or the night after? Try riotous Johnny Steele's "Good Juju—Mongrel Saves Man"at the East Bay Media Center Performance Space, 1939 Addison (between MLK & Milvia), in the Downtown Berkeley Arts District. 8 p. m. February 14-15, Friday-Saturday nights. $25. Online at johnnysteele.com or 843-3699. -more-