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Oct 24th
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Area Opinions

Columns - Opinion

The Mad Tea Party

The Mad Tea Party

Regular readers of this column may recall that I was never exactly a cheerleader for George W. Bush. I did occasionally refer to him in print as the Cowboy Messiah (in regard to his reckless, faith-based warmongering), or the Weasel-in-Chief. OK, there were even times when I questioned the size, quality, or existence of his brain.

Most people understand that these are policy-based epithets aimed at a political figure whose various courses of action I find damaging in the extreme. Any public figure that represents certain policies is a target for legitimate expressions of dismay from those opposed to those policies.

But never did I ever hurl insults at George W. Bush, the man. George W. Bush, the man, wasn't the point; I saved all my invective—and believe me, there was plenty of it—for his politics of fear and deception, his criminal administration, even his smug demeanor. But never once did I ever stoop to insulting his race, his religion, or his culture.

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Columns - Opinion

Surf City Meditations

Surf City Meditations

The Story of the Three Princes Comes Full Circle
One of the great conceits—and, really, deceits—of historical writing, and indeed of all journalism and literature, is that stories have nice, tidy endings that can be packaged and wrapped in a bow. In a certain sense, all story-telling requires such deception. Real life is never so easily confined to a constructed conclusion. Not even in death, of course, does a life-story end.

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Columns - Opinion

Angry Words Don’t Help the Public Debate

Angry Words Don’t Help the Public Debate

The late New York Times columnist William Safire once predicted the end of a civil public debate by citing a key fact understood by commercial businesses – and ignored by the politicians.

What businesses understand is that there’s no percentage in disparaging the product of a competitor. If a Corn Flakes manufacturer, for example, trashes another company’s similar breakfast cereal, the prospective customer remembers only one thing — that that breakfast cereal is bad.

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Columns - Opinion

Tarplant or Alternatives to the Automobile?

Tarplant or Alternatives to the Automobile?

What is environmentalism? Does the word encourage learning about the natural world, or is it more about not building on that vacant lot near my own home?

This issue is playing out again in that undeveloped area between Santa Cruz and Live Oak known as the Arana Gulch greenbelt. It’s a fascinating battle, one that pits environmentalists versus environmentalists—cycling advocates versus those opposed to any development there at all.

Center stage in the drama is the Santa Cruz Tarplant, a native species that’s part of the sunflower family. The inoffensive and endangered plant is the focus of a debate as to whether a bike path connecting Brommer Street to Broadway ought to be built.

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Columns - Opinion

An Invitation to a ‘Thought Experiment’

An Invitation to a ‘Thought Experiment’

I’d like to invite every “housed” person in our community to join me in a “thought experiment.” It’s pretty simple. When you climb into bed tonight, pull the covers over you and look up at the ceiling, pause for a moment and imagine that you are homeless.

Imagine you’re about to go to sleep under a tree or a bridge somewhere … you’re on a piece of damp cardboard with a couple of dirty blankets. You haven’t had a shower in several days (you had one after waiting for a few hours at the homeless center last week). As you try to go to sleep, think about what you’re wearing: the same clothes you wore all day today…and yesterday and the day before. Imagine how safe you are feeling with no walls around you and no door to lock. Imagine that every material thing you have is in a single bag, which you are using as a pillow. Now imagine that it’s starting to rain…and you hear footsteps approaching.

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Columns - Opinion

A New Yorker Devotee

A New Yorker Devotee

One of the great, unsung hassles of the nomadic life turns out to be not the actual migrations and moving, but magazine subscriptions. I need reading material almost as much as I need water. Without a good story—whether fiction or non-fiction—I begin to feel desiccated and parched. It’s just how I roll.

So driving from the Deep South to California two months ago, narrowly missing a twister in Louisiana and deeply missing the West by the time the sad oil rigs of Midland, Texas, were in the rearview mirror, I began to wish that I’d made my magazine subscription change of address a lot sooner, particularly the New Yorker. Despite the magazine’s impeccably intelligent staff of writers and editors, their subscription department (operated by Condé Nast) gets confused with all my moving. A change of address takes weeks, occasionally months, leaving me frustrated and ornery.

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Columns - Opinion

Can Protests Win Hearts and Minds?

Can Protests Win Hearts and Minds?

Protesters didn’t exactly win over hearts and minds when they shut off Westside streets last week. When protesting UC Santa Cruz students cut off necessary access to campus, when they break car windows, when they intrude on others’ lives, they actually work against their goal.

Protests are a time-honored tradition, certainly an exercise in free speech. And since the ’60s, protesting has become the tool of activists everywhere – even by those tea party folks on the right.

But are protests effective?

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Columns - Opinion

Mumsie

Mumsie

Nobody knew where her red hair came from. Her father believed there had been a red-headed uncle on some distant limb of the family tree, possibly on the McAfee side. But her abundant red hair was just one of the things that made Barbara Anne Bader so special.

Times were tough in the Midwest  during Depression '30s, when Barbara was growing up. But she had an unquenchable zest for fun. She loved to read and draw, and listen to swing bands on the radio. She adored the movies. And she was nuts about the ocean, as only someone born and raised in the flatlands of Nebraska can be. At 21, she moved to California with her kid sister, Jeannie, where she met and soon married Art Jensen, a sailor who shared her love for the sea.

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Columns - Opinion

Corporate Speak and the World of Politics

Corporate Speak and the World of Politics

“Let’s say what we mean; mean what we say and let’s get it done.” —Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman

We the electorate have been attacked by Silicon Valley business-speak. The above quote has been tacked on to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s many television commercials as she gears up for a run for governor.

I feel like hiding. Both the business world and the political world have been overtaken by soundbites and messaging.

It used to be in the business world that the damage stopped with vacuous but inoffensive mission statements like “We (fill in the organization) are the leading providers of (fill in the product) as we provide our customers with the best products and services on the market.”

What was good about mission statements is that they went into the drawer and nobody ever saw them again, except for maybe on the bulletin board where you can also find the phone number for OSHA.

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Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
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Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher