Category Archives: Global Corporate U.

Most Cal astronomers call for Marcy’s ouster


Most of the faculty at UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy have signed a petition [on department letterhead] calling for the ouster of serial sexual predator and celebrity stargazer Geoffrey Marcy [previously].

The move follows BuzzFeed’s report that a university investigation had concluded that Marcy had, over the span of a decade, repeatedly groped, fondled, and kissed female students against their wishes and escaped with the “punishment” of posting an online letter of apology.

The text of the letter [PDF]:

October 12, 2015

We, the undersigned UC Berkeley Astronomy faculty, write to make clear that sexual harassment has no place in our Department, and that we fully support the survivors of harassment. We regret the harm caused by our faculty, and reject any suggestion that our sympathies should be with the perpetrators   of   sexual   harassment.   We   are   committed   to   developing   and   maintaining   a supportive,  open  climate  in  which  all  members  of  the  Department  can  thrive,  regardless  of gender,   ethnicity,   sexual   orientation,   disability,   or   religious   faith.   This   goal   has   been compromised by policies that led to a lack of communication in UC Berkeley’s handling of Geoff Marcy’s  sexual  harassment  case.  We  urge  the  UC  Berkeley  administration  to  re-evaluate  its response to Marcy, who has been found in violation of UC sexual harassment policy. We believe that Geoff Marcy cannot perform the functions of a faculty member.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Arons
Gibor Basri
Steven Beckwith
Joshua Bloom
Eugene Chiang
Marc Davis
Imke de Pater
Alex Filippenko
Al Glassgold
James Graham
Carl Heiles
Paul Kalas
Daniel Kasen
Richard Klein
Mariska Kriek
Chung-Pei Ma
Burkhard Militzer
Peter Nugent
Aaron Parsons
Eliot Quataert
Uros Seljak
Daniel Weisz
Martin White

Joining the call for resignation or dismissal were 32 post-doctoral students and the majority of the department’s graduate students.

Quote of the day: Groping for apology in Berkeley


From a noteworthy blog post from UC Berkeley Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development Michael Eisen on the bizarre handling of the sexual misconduct case against a Berkeley media celebrity  astronomy professor:

On Friday,  posted a story about Geoffrey Marcy, a high-profile professor in UC Berkeley’s astronomy department. It reported on a a complaint filed by four women to Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) that alleged that Marcy “repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students, including unwanted massages, kisses, and groping.”

Unusually for this type of investigation, the results of which are usually kept secret, Ghorayshi’s reporting revealed that OPHD found Marcy guilty of these charges, leading to his issuing a public apology in which he, in all too typical PR driven apology speak, acknowledges doing things that “unintentionally” was “a source of distress for any of my women colleagues”.

There’s not much to say about his actions except to say that they are despicable, predatory, destructive and all too typical. It defies even the most extreme sense of credulity to believe that he thought what he was doing was appropriate.

But, unlike so many other cases of alleged harassment that go unreported, or end in a haze of accusations and denials, the system worked in this case. An investigation was carried out, the charges were substantiated, the bravery of the women who came forward was vindicated, and Marcy was removed from the position of authority he had been abusing.

WAIT WHAT? He got a firm talking to and promised never to do it again????? THAT’S IT???

It is simply incomprehensible that Marcy was not sanctioned in any way and that, were it not for Ghorayshi’s work we wouldn’t even know anything about this. How on Earth can this be true? Does the university not realize they are giving other people in a position of power a license to engage in harassment and abusive behavior? Do they think that the threat of having to say “oops, I won’t do that again” is going to stop anyone? Do they think anyone is going to file complaints about sexual harassment or abuse and go through what everyone described as an awful, awful process, so that their abuser will get a faint slap on the wrist? Do they care at all?

Sadly, I think the answer to the last question is “No”.

Read the rest.

Chart of the day: Resistance to malaria drug


UC Berkeley “bioengineer” Jay Keasling became a media darling after Bill Gates decided to bankroll Amyris [previously], a company that would tweak the genes to the antimalarial drug artemisinin which would be far cheaper than the standard version, refined from plants grown by small farmers in Africa and Southeast Asia.

By the time all was said and done, production of the GMO-derived drug was given to a Big Pharma outfit and produced at a price that was no cheaper than the existing drug.

The net result: Small farmer saw their incomes cut.

The notion of artemisinin as a panacea for the disease, a cause Gates no doubt saw as a way to use his wealth to do good, has been soundly defeated, as indicated in this graphic from the 31 July 2014 edition of the Wall Street Journal:

BLOG Artemisinin

World Malaria Day offered some key numbers in April:

BLOG Malaria

Keassling’s company repurposed itself to reengineer the bugs to produce cheap fuel from plant cellulose, fuels more efficient than the ethanol derived from more readily refined plant sugars.

The company went public with much fanfare and media hype, and stock soon rose to $33.85. But as the hype proved just that, shares began to fall, currently selling for $2.13 a share. But Keasling sold out early and walked away with an eight-figure payoff.

And the search for a more effective antimalarial is on.

R. Cobb and Tom Bates, a study in contrast


To esnl, R. [Ron] Cobb was America’s best cartoonist of the 1960s, surpassing even the estimable Paul Conrad.

Cobb never won a Pulitzer, unlike Conrad, no doubt because Cobb worked for an underground paper, the late, lamented Los Angeles Free Press [“the Freep” to fans] while Conrad drew for the Los Angeles Times.

But, like Conrad, the earthiness of Cobb’s characters and his skill with the pen [remember those?] imparted a power to his images that makes them as relevant today as when he drafted them a half-century ago.

We periodically surf the Web in search of “new” Cobb cartoons [meaning those offerings which haven’t appeared online before], and today we found several, including one especially relevant for Berkeley in the second decade of the 21st Century, featuring a figure who could well be esnl on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley, circa 2030, though the notion that the city might provide a bench is ludicrous:

BLOG RCobbBerkeley

My primary beat during the six years I spent reporting for the late, and also lamented, Berkeley Daily Planet was land use — which was the one issue dominating a cash-strapped city government headed by a mayor and city council majority whose election campaigns were primarily funded by the real estate development sector.

Mayor Tom Bates, himself a one-time developer and subsequently state legislator, never met a development he’d didn’t love, nor a developer who wasn’t an instant BFF as well as a near-certain future campaign contributor.

Bates also prides himself on being a Cal Bears Rose Bowl starter in 1959, and his alumni status has been exploited by UC Berkeley’s real estate development arm as the school increasingly builds and leases off-campus, removing property from property tax roles [even that leased property is stricken form the rolls for the duration of the lease], while other administrators press for more high-rise apartment buildings, driven by the end of construction of new university-owned student housing.

In addition, Bates has thoroughly backed the push for the destruction of the city’s last industrial district to pave the way for university-spawned corporate startups.

The next result is a push for downtown high-rise proliferation, eased measures for destroying landmark buildings, and a push for gentrification of the city’s few remaining lower-income neighborhoods housing the folks needed to keep all those glistening new erections working.

Berkeley is losing its historic character, and the latest monstrosity planned for the city center will actually block the view of San Francisco Bay from the university’s signature campanile, which was designed by architect John Galen Howard to offer an unimpaired view of the world-renowned Golden Gate. The project is being ramrodded by Mark Rhoades, formerly the city’s Land Use Planning Manager.

The end result is that the city loses character and rich developers get richer building costlier apartments that force students deeper into debt to pay enrich all those developers and the former public servants on their payrolls and help them bankroll elections to make them even richer.

Meanwhile, Bates and his allies regularly reduce requirements for fixed percentages of low-income housing in new buildings as developers plead poverty.

Ain’t it grand?!

Addendum to a Berkeley police violence protest


Back in December, a brief furor erupted centering on what some perceived as a symbolic and racist event on the Berkeley campus, the appearance on the university’s Sather Gate and a campus tree of two life-size cardboard cutouts of African Americans hanging from nooses.

While many took their appearance to be an efflorescence of racism linked to the ongoing protests in Ferguson, Missouri, they were subsequently revealed as the opposite, a protest against violent racism directed at African Americans.

The figures were those of a mother and son, Laura and Lawrence Nelson, a mother and son lynched by an Oklahoma mob on 25 May 1911. The photo of Laura Nelson is the only image known to survive of 150 African American women known to have been victims of lynch mobs. Many photos survive the 3,300 African American males killed by lynchers.

Belatedly we’d like to add one more element to the story. . .

We just discovered that the killings were also memorialized by America’s balladeer, Woody Guthrie, the singer/songwriter best known for “This Land is Your Land.”

While we couldn’t find any performances by Guthrie himself, here’s a rendition of “Don’t Kill My Baby and My Son” by Brooke Harvey:

Ted Rall: University of Californicate the Students


All whilst making the administrators at the top a whole lot richer.

From the op-ed cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times:

BLOG Rall

Two visions of the 1960s, seen from the Bay


The San Francisco Bay Area was a cultural stew in ferment in the 1960s, with the early years of the decade consumed in political unrest, most notably on the Berkeley campus of the University of California where the Free Speech Movement was to galvanize the nation, and neatly dressed and conventionally barbered students rose up over suppression of tables where student groups leafleted and cajoled students about causes and campaigns of all persuasions.

Our first video is a talk by the biographer of the movement’s seminal figure, Mario Savio, which we’ll preface with a clip of Savio himself, delivering the lines for which he is best-remembered. Via Anything that defies my sense of reason…..:

Mario Savio: Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964

Excerpt:

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

“Savio’s moral clarity, his eloquence, and his democratic style of leadership inspired thousands of fellow Berkeley students to protest university regulations which severely limited political speech and activity on campus. The non-violent campaign culminated in the largest mass arrest in American history, drew widespread faculty support, and resulted in a revision of university rules to permit political speech and organising. This significant advance for student freedom rapidly spread to countless other colleges and universities across the country.” Via stonecast, see here:

More here: http://tinyurl.com/3b46o2

Savio’s passion sparked an ongoing interest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, resulting in a large collection of files now posted online.

Robert Cohen, social studies and history professor at New York University, is the author of the 2009 biography Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, and he spoke at Berkeley 23 September at the university’s On the Page forum for new students. He was the logical choice given the Free Speech’s Movement’s 50th anniversary now underway.

From UC Berkeley Events:

Can Students Change the World? Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s

Program notes:

Author Robert Cohen delivers the keynote address for the 2014 On the Same Page program. This year’s theme is the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, and the selected book is Cohen’s biography of Mario Savio, Freedom’s Orator.

The Human Be-In, 14 January 1967

Our second video is historic, captured two years on the other side of the Bay Bridge, at the San Francisco Polo Grounds.

It lacks the fervor of Savio’s speech, with some speakers notably unfocused and others endeavoring to gain an entirely new focus. Many of the musical groups skyrocketed to stardom, and some of the speakers would be reviled in mainstream media.

But the event would prove transformational, gathering the attention of the world’s press and triggering an obsession with all things Hippie [a neologism by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen]. The media feeding frenzy would reach orgasmic levels later that year in San Francisco’s famous Summer of Love.

The Allen Ginsburg Project recounts the Human Be-In through the perspective of Michael Bowen, key organized an event that electrified the rapidly emerging psychedelic movement in the counterculture and showcased legendary musicians, including a trumpet solo from Dizzy Gillespie:

“There were some old rugs and inexpensive Indian cloth prints laid out on (a) flatbed truck along with some pillows. The well-known spiritual, intellectual, and writer friends that Michael Bowen had talked into coming to the event from all over America, sat on those pillows and on those rugs in a human-tableau designed as a piece of living art. They included Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Jack Weinberg, Michael McClure, Richard Alpert, Lenore Kandel, Suzuki Roshi from the local Zen Center, and Jerry Rubin, along with Bowen’s good friends, the drummers with their drums from the mountains of Big Sur, California. The people who were arriving could see that those “famous” individuals, whose work they had read directly, or read about in the media, had also journeyed to the Be-In to simply sit and be with them as equals.”

Cohen – “The Gathering of the Tribes” in a “union of love and activism” was an overwhelming success, Over twenty thousand people came to the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. The psychedelic bands played – Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Poets Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lew Welch, and Lenore Kandel, read, chanted and sang. Tim(othy) Leary told everyone to “Turn on, Tune in and Drop out”, the Diggers gave out free food. The Hells Angels guarded the generator cables that someone had cut, Owsley Stanley gave out free acid; a parachutist dropped like an angel from the sky and the whole world watched on the evening news.

More here and here.

We can remember avidly reading accounts of the event as they poured out of the noisy teletypes at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where we were 20 years old and less than a year into our first job at a daily newspaper. We had dropped our first hit of acid at a college prof’s Christmas party.

With that, from Docs&Interviews on MV:

Human Be-In – Full Program – 1/14/1967 – Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park

H/T to Open Culture.

One key difference between the audience at Sproul Hall was the LSD mentioned by the Allen Ginsburg Project.

It their marvelous 1985 history Acid Dreams, the Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond [out of print but online here], Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain note that Be-In organizer Bowen was a member of “a small but dedicated band of acid evangelists known as the Psychedelic Rangers,” evangelists for LSD who baptized recruits with large doses.

But many other seminal figures, including Ginsburg himself and novelist Ken Kesey, got their first hits of acid as subjects in research funded by the Central Intelligence Agency [which once ran an operation dosing prostitutes’ clients in San Francisco and secretly filming the results]. In the words of John Lennon, “We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD, by the way.”

LSD was cool, the Free Speech Movement had been hot.

Both movements would recede in subsequent years, though their legacies would linger. While Savio spoke of active resistance, Timothy Leary preached a gospel of Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out [a perfect strategy, one might note, for blunting the edge of those who might otherwise Turn On, Tune In, and Stay In.