SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces. Category: Columns from The Berkeley Daily Planet – Berkeley Daily Planet

Posted By on April 11, 2020

Recasting the Forecast

Bay Area weather can be rather humdrum. Fortunately.

No approaching hurricanes; no sudden tornadoes to fret about.

But that can make weather reports rather dull. And, really!who needs a five-minute computer-assisted, televised weather update when all you really need to do is look out the nearest window?

However, if your job is to report on the weather, you need to make it sound more interesting than it really is. With that in mind, here's a sampling of recent forecasts from the SF Chronicle that show how to make the same-old-same-old appear newsworthy:

"Partly sunny." "Mostly sunny." "Some sun." "Periods of sun." "Sunny to partly cloudy." 'Sunshine and patchy clouds." "Times of clouds and sun." "A blend of sun and clouds."

Want to suggest a few more options? How about: "Overcast with sunny breaks." "Cloud banks with deposits of sunshine." "Gobs of clouds and bursts of sunbeams."

Taking Stock

By now, most of us have had the experience of standing in long linesseparated by six feet of air spacewaiting to enter a grocery store or shopping site only to discover that the items we were looking for were "currently out of stock, but you can try again Thursday."

Now, thanks to two teenagers from Texas, there's an app for that. Darshan Bhatta and Rithwik Parrikonda have created an online tool that let's you virtually explore distant store shelves before heading out to shop. They found a need and filled it and here's the link: InStok.org.

Bernie's Out. What Are the Alternatives?

1. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins explains why he's running: "We have conceived of a campaign designed to grow the Green Party rapidly as we move into the 2020s and provide real solutions to the climate crisis, the new nuclear arms race, and ever-growing economic and racial inequality. I am not out here running by myself. I am running with a collective leadership."

Howie's collective includes former Green Party vice-presidential candidates Cheri Honkala and Ajamu Baraka; national party co-chairs Andrea Mrida, Tony Ndege, and Margaret Flowers; peace activist Cindy Sheehan; black liberation movement veterans Bruce Dixon and Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture; progressive commentators Chris Hedges and Kevin Zeese; environmental scientist and DC Statehood stalwart David Schwartzman; Green New Deal policy expert Jon Rynn; and former San Francisco public defender, our own Matt Gonzalez.

Here are some of the issues Howie promises to tackle:

The fast-approaching existential threat of a climate holocaust that could wipe out human civilization;

The new nuclear war race that poses a threat to our survival;

The unacceptable crises that working families face every month trying to pay for food, rent, utilities, medical bills, child care, college tuition, and/or student loans.

2. Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential candidate, Gloria La Riva, is in the race with a ten-point program:

1. Make the essentials of life [food, housing, water, education, healthcare] constitutional rights

2. For the Earth to live, capitalism must be replaced by a socialist system [to address "global warming, pollution, acidified and depleted oceans, fracking, critical drought, plastics choking the seas, nuclear weapons and waste"]

3. End racism, police brutality, mass-incarceration. Pay reparations to the African American community

4. Full rights for all immigrants

5. Shut down all US military bases around the worldbring all the troops, planes and ships home

6. Full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people

7. Equality for women with free, safe, legal abortion on demand

8. Defend and expand our unions

9. Takeover the stolen wealth of the giant banks and corporationsJail Wall St. criminals

10. Honor Native treaties. Free Leonard Peltier

And who is La Riva's running mate? None other than the aforementioned Leonard Peltier, an iconic Native American activist who "has been in prison for over 43 years, persecuted by the US government for a crime he did not commit."

This wouldn't be the first time a jailed political prisoner has made a bid for the White House. In 1920, Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs ran for president while doing time for criticizing the government's use of the 1917 Espionage Act.

But this may be the first time a woman has headed a presidential campaign ticket with a man as her VP running mate.

But wouldn't it be impossible for La Riva to govern with her chosen VP in the slammer? Not really. If La Riva were to win the presidential race, she could pardon Peltier.

Having a Seor Moment

It recently occurred to me that, while the Spanish language has the words Seor, Seora, and Seorita, I've never come across the word seorito.

If seorita is the word for a young girl, why don't we hear the word "seorito" quando hablando en Espaol?

A query on Spanish Dictionary reads: "Ok, so seorita is an unmarried or young woman: Does it have a male counterpart or are all males seores?" This prompted the following response: "According to my Mexican friends, seorito is a pejorative slang word for transvestite."

Dios mio!

For more analysis of this gender-jiggered dishonorific, I consulted my Spanish-fluent grammar gadfly, Doa Raquel, the Sexy Lexicographer. Her reply began: "You are right: 'seorito' is a pejorative for gay or transvestitea diminishment, as in seorita." Instead, a young man is referred to as "joven."

"Seorita, and Seora are sexualized," Doa Raquel continued. "If you are married, or have children, you say Seora, no matter what age a woman is. If you have children at 16, you are a Seora. A woman who never marries is called Seorita (thus my theory of sexualizing women) or Doa, which is reserved generally for older women. A man doesnt have the same distinctions. Women are addressed according to their marital status (read sex) and men have the distinction of being Seores, I assume this is because no one cares about [a man's] marital status, or one assumes that men will bed women when they can."

To Burn or Not to Burn

On Friday, April 3, Berkeley author and hip-poet emeritus Arnie Passman dropped the following refrain into his email trail:

cremate me and pour favor me into a redwood forest

That short line generated a wide range of responses. Here are a few:

Laurence of Berkeley wrote:

But Arnie, Cremation ruins so many good nutrients.

The forests will be happier if we just get ground up like chopped liver.

So maybe a rose bush?

Since there are now 7.8 billion of us worldwide, we are consuming too much of the planet's essential nutrients. We have to have some way of getting them back into circulation.

My second choice: the way of the Parsis (the Zoroastrians in India). They stick you up on top of a tall pole and let the birds eat you.

Maria Gillardin wrote:

But the buzzards in India are already dying when they eat carcasses of cattle treated with diclofenac. They die within days of kidney failure. Bad for the Parsis of India. They believe burying or cremating the dead pollutes nature and traditionally relied on vultures to devour human corpses.

Cynthia Papermaster wrote:

The forests are fine without us and our nutrients."

Phil Allen wrote:

A failure of progressives, not even to consider the right of buzzards to a living....

I [envision] being buried vertically and my remains used as a pile for an anthill development.

Maria Gillardin wrote:

Since humans are so toxic now, our remains belong in Superfund sites. Crematoria in England emitted 11% of the annual mercury along with power plants and industry (2001). And then there are plastics; chemicals and hormones taken in with food and personal care. Flame retardants, radioactive materials and more. Am glad Im dead by the time I will be disposed of.

Jeffrey Blanfort wrote:

As our species has further developed, it continues to find new and creative ways to despoil the planet, not only for profit but for our mutual entertainment. In short, the origin of the feces is our species. How those who survive us manage our departure is, at this point, of little consequence except to our friends and family who will make an effort, nonetheless.

Annie H. wrote:

Cremation of billions of people is unnecessary and burns fossil fuel which we must stop extracting from the ground and stop burning. Get over it. Please . a beautiful wrapping and a place in the cool earth is enough. We have such place in Mill Valley, where our dear friend Nick Bertoni resides.

Phoebe Anne Sorgen wrote:

Cremation isnt allowed in Muslim or Jewish traditions. Burial is the Pagan way, too, but to each their own. Whatever Arnie wants, Arnie gets.

Whats the name of the natural burial ground in Mill Valley? Know of others in the Bay Area where one can reserve a spot? Know of any that allow a tombstone or permanent plaque w/ name/dates?

Yes, rather frivolous, and against my usual eco-fanatic nature, but in case our species survives long-term, I want that because I helped my mom with genealogy research by reading inscriptions on ancestors tombstones.

My birthday suit is also my burial suit, except I want warm woolen socks or slippers, stockings, and long gloves (as its cold down there,) and jewelry that wont disintegrate. Wrap me in a silk (or other natural fabric) shroud and plant me deep, but not so deep that Ill be unreachable eventually by the roots of a healthy oak, redwood, apple, or other fruit tree seedling planted on top.

Dont forget to throw some de-stemmed roses on top of me. Im in no hurry (plan to live another 3 or 4 decades, if we dont all go under) but this is what Ive wanted ever since reading Thanatopsis over five decades ago (which poem influenced the Transcendentalists) .

Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again

The oak Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.

Yet not to thy eternal resting place Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish a Couch more magnificent.

Thou shalt lie down With .. The powerful of the earththe wise, the good,

Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulchre..

.All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes

That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings

Of morningand the Barcan wilderness,

Or lose thyself in the continuous woods

Where rolls the Oregan, and hears no sound,

Save [its] own dashingsyet the dead are there:

And millions in those solitudes, since first

The flight of years began, have laid them down

In their last sleepthe dead reign there alone.

So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw

In silence from the living, and no friend

Take note of thy departure? All that breathe

Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh

When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care

Plod on, and each one as before will chase

[Their] favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave

Their mirth and their employments, and shall come,

And make their bed with thee. As the long train

Of ages glides away . . . , sustained and soothed

By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,

Like one who wraps the drapery of [her] couch

About [her], and lies down to pleasant dreams."

William Cullen Bryant (at age 17 in 1811)

In parting: When I asked Arnie how he would like to be described for this item"Author, poet and playwright," "Hip-hop bon-mot artist," "Agin' Ragin' Sage," or "High Commander of Haiku?"he modestly opted to go with: "Near Death."

Green Burial Resources

Fernwood Cemetery (Mill Valley)

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SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces. Category: Columns from The Berkeley Daily Planet - Berkeley Daily Planet

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