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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, February 28, 2020

Help Clean Up the Blighted Vacant Lot Next Door!

Why should we have to look at this? It's an eyesore for the entire neighborhood that's gone on far too long.

We the undersigned request that the City of Oakland require the owners and developers of the property listed above to improve the property while development decisions are being made as to its disposition, such that it no longer violates City Code 8.24.020 -- Blighted Property.

The property is in violation of several Code Sections including A 2 (abandoned work), C 4 (creates a public risk by obsolete and/or abandoned equipment, supplies, etc.), D 1 (preponderance of debris, weeds and garbage), D 5 (insufficient landscaping), and D 7 (buildup of debris and garbage along fences).

Additionally, there has been arson on the lot, posing a health and safety risk to us all.
Our neighborhood has been gravely impacted by the developer’s lack of attention to the site. The large Kaiser-owned lot at Broadway/MacArthur, Oakland has been recently landscaped while Kaiser makes decisions about how to develop the lot. JRDV should be required to do the same!

We request that the City of Oakland force the developer to:

1.      Clean up the property of all garbage, weeds, equipment, abandoned building supplies, etc., and commit to monthly clean up until such time that construction resumes.
2.      Landscape to a park-like level with trees, bushes, ground covers, etc.
3.      Erect an attractive fence (wood or non-chain link metal) around the entire perimeter.
4.      Come into compliance with all codes and regulations.

Residents and shoppers should not have to be subjected to this blight any longer.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Feed Me To The Trees

We're all going to die -- sooner than necessary to all appearances -- but I'm glad to see my own preference for eventual disposal is getting closer and closer to being a legal as well as practical reality here in the state of California, as it already recently has done in Washington, via The Los Angeles Times:
A Los Angeles lawmaker wants California to allow for human composting, an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial or cremation in which the dead are turned into soil. The state of Washington became the first state to allow human composting when Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law last year permitting the practice. “I would love to be a tree one day,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who introduced Assembly Bill 2592 to allow for human composting, or “natural organic reduction” as the upstart industry calls the process. “I think this is about giving people another option.” Washington’s law goes into effect on May 1, with a Seattle business called Recompose preparing to open a funeral home that offers the service in early 2021. Recompose’s process involves placing a body into a vessel with wood chips, alfalfa and straw, allowing it to be decomposed by microbes and reduced to a nutrient-dense soil in about a month. The end result is about a cubic yard of soil per person, which is then returned to families or donated to conservation land for use. Supporters of the practice say it’s an end-of-life option that will have a positive impact on the environment. Alternatively, cremation is an energy-intense process that produces carbon dioxide emissions, while traditional burial uses chemicals to embalm bodies and a non-biodegradable coffin to store them... The newly introduced California bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the state Capitol... The process recreates what happens to animals on the forest floor without chemicals or emissions while allowing the soil produced to be used to plant trees that help the environment. Recompose plans to charge $5,500, which is less than the average burial with a casket but more than the average cremation. “When I started this several years ago I was shocked at how many people find this not only palatable but comforting and meaningful,” said Katrina Spade, the chief executive of Recompose. “People who recognize that soil is the basis for all life on Earth and also are aware of the climate implications of sequestering carbon through the creation of soil find this attractive.” People in California have expressed an interest in the process and have been contacting the company. “I knew the moment I heard about this, it was what I wanted to do,” said Nikolaus Kraemer of Los Angeles. “I’m 55 and healthy, but I would put this in my will or advanced directive that when I’m dead I don’t want to be pushed into a crematory or buried six feet under. I think this is a peaceful way to go back to where we came from.”
I couldn't agree more.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday Walk and Brunch

Preparing lectures for the week to come, Benjamin and Adorno Wednesday and Plato's Symposium Thursday, all material I've taught countless times before. Something of an avalanche of material from my thesis students to keep track of as well, especially since it turns out I've got twice as many thesis students this term than I expected! Independent studies have rather deliriously proliferated as well, possibly I say YES too readily to some of these things... Yesterday was lovely, spring seems underway early this year, trees are blooming everywhere, the plum trees especially really are day-dreams of pink mist right about now, but there were blooms everywhere, white, yellow, purple, Eric was snapping pics all afternoon. Even with all the work on hand I've set aside Sundays for nonsense this term, pretty much using the weekend as a weekend for rest and recuperation without chores or school prep for the first time in a long time. Breathing in and breathing out.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Collecting Who

Expecting the blu-ray set for Sylvester McCoy's* third season to arrive by the end of next month or so, which is already wonderfully exciting, only to hear that Tom Baker's truly excellent third season will be the next release from The Collection in a few months' time.

I've been hoping against hope that we will finally get a season of one of the first two Doctors this year as well, tho' reconstructions and animations of lost and fragmentary episodes makes this hope quixotic I know. (If I may be permitted a suggestion, splitting the seasons in half to bring the episode counts of the first seasons in line with later seasons would also happen to make timely releases of some intact episode runs available profitably enough to speed up the necessary reconstructions as well, seems to me, even if I don't exactly like to encourage the BBC to make me spend even more money on goddamn Doctor Who than I already idiotically do). I fear I'll need cheering up after this upcoming November, and a Hartnell season on blu-ray would really do the trick (say An Unearthly Child through Marco Polo or The Keys of Marinus through The Reign of Terror or Planet of Giants through The Web Planet or The Crusade through The Time Meddler; any of these Hartnell half-seasons would be AMAZING to have on blu-ray and seem comparatively doable, I'll leave the possible Troughton half-seasons for you to puzzle out yourselves, I'd settle personally for an anthology of the episodes in which Jaime and Troughton flirt as palpably as Adam West and Bert Ward did in classic Batman, base under siege indeed). If we really do get another Classic season before year's end, however, I'm guessing it's likely to be another Pertwee production, and that would also suit me just fine (Pertwee's a political low point in the show for me in many ways but is also among the most compulsively entertaining run of episodes, and is visually stunning from the opening title sequence -- my favorite in the whole history of the program -- to the hot pop and psychedelia and spy-fi nonsense forever fluttering in the background). Here's the trailer for the Tom Baker installment soon on the way...

* So, my favorite Doctors of the Classic era happen to be McCoy, Baker, and Hartnell, in that order, yep, and thanks for asking -- and, ah, hell, sure, why not, Eccleston, Capaldi, and Whitaker are my favorite New Whos, in that order, not sorry about it at all.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Working on Thursday's lecture on Euripides' Hecuba, already more or less ready for tomorrow's lecture on the odious Freud. I have still have an ocean of grad student writing to read in preparation for meetings, so I'm feeling behind as always, but the week ahead looks more or less manageable. The rumor mill is cranked up to eleven, but here's hoping the future of SFAI will be clearer in the next couple of days...

Monday, February 17, 2020

DC Statehood

Obviously righteous and right on the merits. Not to mention right as a pragmatically possible prop against ongoing right-wing authoritarianism. Statehood for DC and PR asap!

Sunday Walk and Brunch

The Rose Garden is pruned back to sticks at this point, but it was still quiet and lovely Sunday. One really attends to the trees and birds and wildflowers when the main show is holding its breath for the big upcoming reveal. It is looking like the art school where I do most of my teaching is getting bought out by some other institution still to be announced and suddenly my employment feels crazily precarious yet again. Adjunct life, if you call that living, puh DUMpum. These last years since my health scare have been inflicting relentlessly serial losses, my cat, my dad, my mom, my Berkeley job, and now this, I feel a bit like Captain Catastrophe sometimes these days forever pushing foreword with my fragile little measure of due diligence and self-care day by day by day while forever thrown onto my back foot by the latest new calamity every few months or so one after another... Who knows what's next? Another health scare? Eviction as our apartment goes condo like everywhere else? Another war? Another wildfire? Irresistibly rising authoritarianism in the background is the furthest thing from reassuring on top of everything else. A day with Eric like yesterday is pretty much the only peacock feather I've got to shake against this thick bleak wall of a world. But the plum trees are star-spangled already with pink blooms. Through all of the despondent slog I've managed to continue teaching well (or well enough, the best I could do), kept my fitness up (I've kept off the 120 lbs. I lost since the health crisis and no longer contend with an aching back with all this yoga), kept my insomnia mostly at bay and have all sorts of tricks to effectively fend off panic attacks and the worst self-recrimination, kept my focus on friends and family (a number I can count on the fingers of a single hand now), and so on. These are difficult times. I don't have much to say that feels to me particularly useful or original on a site like this anymore. Hard as it is to believe, I sometimes strongly suspect I'll look back with incredible fondness at the good things I've seen and done and accomplished during what has seemed in its midst to be mostly a season of distress.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Eric and I submitted our ballots by mail yesterday -- looking up every prospective council person and judge and bond measure online together and hashing our way to agreement (not inevitable nor necessary, but usual). Was happy to send a quixotic household signal for sanity and voted for Warren in the primary, tho' we no longer hold out much hope for anything but a pale stale male mediocrity unequal to the moment. Voted for Barbara Lee and to soak the rich here and there, so all in all a decent hour's work for a weekend afternoon after a lovely brunch and a walk to the Rose Garden.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Real Anniversary...

It's a season of anniversaries, but today is the important one: I met Eric eighteen years ago today (after corresponding online a couple weeks first after swapping profiles on a queer dating site in a different online era). We celebrate our wedding anniversary now, since it feels so weirdly official I guess, but today feels like the truly true one.

Standing Apart

Judging from the copies on BART and the recommendations of friends, Jenny Odell's How To Do Nothing felt a few months back like the Bay Area "It" book du jour. I overcame the disinclination to read the book this popularity inevitably produced in me and have been enjoying it quite a lot when I can. I may say something about it when I'm finished, whenever I have time to finish it, a problem with which it concerns itself delightfully I might add. Anyway, from the end of the second chapter, without comment or context:
As the attention economy works to keep us trapped in a frightful present, it only becomes more important not just to recognize past versions of our predicament but to retain the capacity for an imagination somehow untainted by disappointment... [S]tanding apart represents the moment in which the desperate desire to leave (forever!) matures into a commitment to live in permanent refusal, where one already is, and to meet others in the common space of that refusal.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Teaching While Depressed a treat.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Teaching Days

Today in a nutshell, Marx in the City, burritos back home. Tomorrow, much the same: sophists in the City, get home, get high, get to bed, get on with things.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sunday Brunch and Walk

Another blustery day had the branches wailing and little Penny, unused to the commotion, was darting around from window to window, guarding the household from sheets of eucalyptus bark and gnarled branches dotted with preliminary buds. The wind knocked out power lines which closed down our usual cafe, and so we skipped brunch and had a nice walk in Mountain View Cemetery, scaling the hill to the great stone piles of Millionaire's Row, which we still call Numenor between the two of us, given the rather crumbling plutocratic grandeur on display. We had the summit mostly to ourselves, and the wind was less violent up top than we expected and the heart-warm sunlight more than compensated for the cold. We got home and ordered pizza and watched Bring It On for the first time in a decade. It was fun, and it turns out I still know all the words. After a rocky start to the term, feeling a bit more raw even than usual right after Mom's unexpected death, it has turned out that both the communities of my two classrooms are enthusiastic and lovely and my love of the material has helped me push past the worst of my frustrations and made the classes feel pretty successful so far. Here's hoping that continues on this upcoming week. In the Introduction to Critical Theory we are talking Marx and in Patriarchy in Greek and Roman Antiquity we'll be talking the sophist Gorgias' "Encomium to Helen" and a little Thucydides. Preparations are underway, and with this week behind me, hard to believe tho' it is when everything feels to still be getting underway like this, the term will already be a quarter of the way through...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Teaching Day

Nietzsche in the City, then burritos back home.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Iowa Shouldn't Matter. Now, Maybe It Won't

Last night's fiasco in Iowa seems to me a pretty good result. Pundits were deprived of bullshit narratives with which to lard the white male mediocrities (from whom no doubt we will inevitably soon be choosing) with praise at their ingenuity while trumpeting narrative hairballs about the "mis-steps" of the losers ad nauseam. Instead, the narrative is that unrepresentative serially incompetent Iowa sucks yet again and, it is to be hoped, for the last time. Also, possibly yet another data point rubbishing "hi tech" voting apps will nudge our presumably consummately data-driven punditocracy (now that's a laugh!) to notice that "low-tech" paper ballots have not yet been technically beat by a generation of insecure hackable non-auditable unreliable profiteering digi-tech dream machines -- a few legitimate accessibility needs met through digital and other means notwithstanding. Anyway, I'm glad Warren probably gets trashed less than she otherwise would have done because of the Iowa clusterfuck and I'm glad that Biden probably gets trashed more than he otherwise would have done. That's because I personally like Warren far more than Biden, as everybody knows. Hell, I prefer Bernie over Biden and I'm far from a Bernie stan, that's for sure. Who knows what will happen? If you paid as little attention to Iowa last night as I did to the Superbowl the night before and will to the SOTU tonight you are probably better off -- paying attention to play-by-play campaign "news" in the time of Trump is an utterly fruitless and demoralizing enterprise in my estimation. I'm still planning to vote, perhaps quixotically, for Warren in the looming California primary and hoping (and expecting) Biden to come out weakened vis-a-vis Bernie from that contest, and one hopes Bloomberg's gold-plated ascension might have been arrested whatever our weird technocratic mayors have to say on the subject (I'm not holding my breath on that one). I'm supporting any Democrat against Trump come November, needless to say.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Sunday Brunch and Walk

It was blustery yesterday but a brilliant cold blue. And I hear there was some sort of sporting event taking place as well. The upshot was that we didn't have to wait for a table for brunch at our usually crowded little diner and then the rose garden -- clipped back and trembling with pent-up readiness for spring in a few weeks' time -- was quiet and empty as a graveyard. Eric and I chatted on our favorite bench and said hello to the usual neighborhood cats along our route. It was quite lovely. Then we watched Mary Poppins Returns, fussed around with some loose ends and then got nice and high to watch Doctor Who and the Masked Singer and a re-run of Lost in Space, all of which were quite silly and surreal (seems the bloom may already be off the rose with the Masked Singer, but we shall see). After last week's slog things feel like they may be looking up -- I've managed over seven hours of sleep three nights in a row. I'm feeling almost human at the moment.