Last year (July of 2007, to be exact), I was walking through the Tenderloin District of San Francisco and noticed this huge banner on the side of a building at the intersection of Turk and Hyde, sporting the phrase,
Carole Migden: LEADING California’s Campaign Against The War.

Say what? The State of California has a “campaign” against “The War”?

What campaign? First I’ve heard of it. And which “war”? The war in Afghanistan? The “war on terror”? The war in Iraq? And in what way is Carole Midgen the uncommander-in-chief?

Carole Midgen, for those who don’t know, is a California State Senator, representing Marin County and this part of San Francisco.

Most importantly, Midgen is only a state politician, and as such has absolutely no role or decision-making power when it comes to national foreign policy. It’s not like she’s a congressperson or some other federal official.

I realize that this is a moot point by now, over a year after the fact (especially since Migden will be replaced in November by a new State Senator), but: Who paid for this banner? And why?

…and I won’t take “No” for an answer.


“be peace now” commands this stereotypical Berkeley street denizen.

In a strange way, it’s reassuring that some places actually live up to their reputations.

Obama and the National Waffle Association

Spotted on a car in San Francisco:

Fast-a-thon — the new Ramadan

The Berkeley chapter of the Muslim Students Association seems to have hit upon a fresh idea for luring in naive new students: They’ve re-branded Ramadan as an apparently secular event called “Fast-a-thon.” Here’s their flyer advertising Fast-a-thon, which was posted in various locations on the U.C. Berkeley campus where students from the general population could see it:

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, and entails fasting from sunrise to sundown. The dates for Ramadan vary from year to year, but in 2008 Ramadan lasts from September 2 to October 1, putting Fast-a-thon right in the middle of the Islamic fasting period.

Notice how nowhere on the calendar are the words “Ramadan,” “Islam,” or “Muslim” mentioned, nor anything indicating this event is connected to a religious holiday. The only clues are the stylized crescent-and-star symbol and the word “Iftar” — neither of which are necessarily giveaways to someone unfamiliar with Islamic terminology. It seems the purpose of Fast-a-thon is to strip away any obvious religious aspect of the event, to make it seem like nothing more than a fundraiser for the nonprofit group Doctors Without Borders.

I suppose their one explanation might be that the event is intended only for Muslim students, but the fact that the flyer was posted in public hallways and outdoor kiosks where the entire student body could see it, and that all mention of religion has been removed, suggests that the goal of Fast-a-thon is to introduce non-Muslim students to Islamic customs — without their knowing it.

(And this is indeed an MSA-sponsored event. Immediately afterward, there will be an MSA prayer session, which I imagine the new Fast-a-thoners can attend if they’re interested.)

There is an Islamic concept called dawah, which means prosletyzing Islam to non-Muslims — similar to “evangelism” and “fellowship” in Christianity. From all appearances, it seems that Fast-a-thon is an attempt at crypto-dawah — getting people involved in Islamic practices unwittingly, and perhaps only after the fact letting them know that they have participated in a Muslim religious ritual.

Every year, newly arriving U.C. Berkeley students must run a gauntlet of attempted indoctrination from all sorts of religious, spiritual and cult-like groups — ranging from the Hare Krishnas, to the “Moonies” (Unification Church), to the Scientologists, to the Benjamin Creme New-Age-y sect, and many more, as well as various mainstream Christian groups. The “normal” religious groups prosletyze openly; but one of the hallmarks of the cultish campus groups is that they try to lure people in through deception — they invite new prospects (generally freshmen, at the beginning of the school year in September) to events without telling the students their true intended purpose. At least not until they’re already somewhat involved. The Moonies and the Scientologists are particularly notorious for this technique.

One wonders: Has the MSA resorted to the same trick, in order to get potential new converts in the door?

UPDATE:

According to this 2006 article in the Daily Cal and Wikipedia, Fast-a-thon happens at many other campuses as well, and has been around since September, 2001. What’s not clear is whether or not the cloaking of the religious underpinnings of Fast-a-thon is unique to the Berkeley campus; from the descriptions online, other Fast-a-thons seem openly characterized as being for the purpose of “getting students of all faiths to sign up to fast for a day according to Islamic traditions” to introduce them to “the Islamic way of life.” Are non-Muslim Fast-a-thon participants nationwide aware of this before they sign up, or do they only learn of it at the iftar ceremony when the fast is broken?

Berkeley Tree-Sit Finally Ends

Newly posted at zombietime:

Berkeley Tree-Sit Finally Ends

The ongoing “tree-sit” protest to stop construction of an athletic training center on the U.C. Berkeley campus finally came to a conclusion on September 9, 2008, when the last tree-sitters came down from the one remaining tree. The scene attracted a huge crowd of sympathizers, detractors, onlookers and media.

A recent legal ruling had cleared the way for the university to begin construction after a seemingly interminable series of delays which lasted over a year and a half. Within hours of the ruling, campus work crews felled all but two of the disputed trees which had occupied the work site — one that was to be transplanted elsewhere, and the other (a redwood) which housed the last four tree-sitters. A few days later, on September 9, after negotiations failed to convince them to come down of their own accord, the police had no choice but to bring them down whether they liked it or not. The stage was set for the final act.

Click on the picture to see the rest! :


Clown is sad! Sad about trees!

Wish-fact faux pas at U.C. Berkeley


The University of California has placed a series of banners all over the Berkeley campus, each depicting a different student above a purported quote. Included among them was this peculiar one, with a quote that could be considered somewhat insulting. I’m working on the assumption that the quote is either made up by the ad campaign designer, or at best the result of coaching. But why would this particular student be identified as someone who needs to learn how to “become an open-minded thinker”? Is the implication that she wasn’t open-minded to begin with? Judging from the other banners, it seems the quotes are “wish-facts” that the U.C. administration wants to be true. In this case I feel that U.C. may have committed an unintentional faux pas.

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN (AP) — All financial problems worldwide were solved yesterday when a hobo from Kandahar found $723 trillion in a ditch.

“I was just looking for a shady place to lie down,” the unemployed vagabond said through a translator. “I prefer ditches, when I can find them. This seemed more comfortable than the average ditch, but then I realized, ‘Hey, I’m lying on money.’”

The hobo, who goes by the single name Abdul, hasn’t yet decided what he wants to do with the money. “They tell me there’s enough here to pay off all national debts, provide free health care for everyone in the world, to end starvation and eliminate class differences around the globe,” Abdul said. “But then where am I going to sleep?”

Upon hearing news of the discovery, Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, said, “Well, looks like I wasted my entire life. Sixty years of studying economics and enforcing monetary policy for nothing. I could have been partying the whole time.”

The Obama Meme: Chapter 3 — Obamarxism

Submitted by eagle-eyed zomblog reader “C”:

C writes: “This image is from the financial district in San Francisco, corner of California/Front.

Is the tagger pro or anti marxism? Since it’s San Francisco, I’m not sure how to interpret it.”

Code Pink Photo Dump

Code Pink has been protesting in front of the Marine Corps Officer Recruitment Office in Berkeley for a solid year now. On rare occasion other groups will join them and they’ll combine to make a somewhat larger protest that will make the evening news — but in actuality Code Pink has tried to maintain a presence in front of the office every single day. Most of these day-by-day micro-protests go completely unnoticed by the media (and the public), but Code Pink is doing their best to keep the pressure on continuously (though on some days they can’t seem to muster even one protester).

Anyway, over the past year, I’ve had occasion to pass through downtown Berkeley quite a number of times, and whenever I did, I tried to snap a picture or two of whatever’s happening in front of the recruiting office. Most of the time these daily protests fell far beneath the threshold of something that would merit a full zombietime report. And so the pictures were filed away and forgotten.

Until now.

This posting will be nothing more than a melange of random snapshots of the ongoing Code Pink protests over the last several months, in no particular order, and with no particular narrative. Just a “photo dump,” as the expression goes. If you have a need for an as-yet unseen photo in your coverage of Code Pink or Berkeley or whatever, feel free to use any of these.


The message on the back of the Code Pink truck slowly evolves over time in a way that is only noticeable if you have a series of pictures extending across several months. This is what it said early in 2008…


…and this is what it said months later. Or is is the other way around?


I just can’t get enough of these hilarious Code Pink Mercedes Benz logos. To this day I can’t understand how a “peace group” can have trouble making a peace sign. Even more mystifiying: Most of the women in Code Pink have been “peace” protesters for their entire adult lives (even long before they joined Code Pink), and yet after all that time they still can’t consistently get it right.


Oh, that’s rich! How clever!


To celebrate Mother’s Day (or something along those lines), Code Pink baked a bunch of pink man-shaped sugar cookies and displayed them on a pink camouflage tarp in front of the office. The broken cookies, according to Zanne Joi, represented dead and injured soldiers.


Whenever a video camera hove into view, someone would inevitably march back and back wearing an “Impeach” sign.


Sometime in 2008 Code Pink decided to jump on the Global Warming bandwagon by declaring that “War Is Not Green!”


They used their oh-so-”green” gas-guzzling flatbed truck to stage a week-long campover directly in front of the office. Needless to say, the police were none too pleased.


At one point Code Pink had exhibited a long piece of butcher paper on which someone(s) had written an interminable rant. This is just a small section of it.