the Library of Congress on Flickr

Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber, Alfred Palmer, photographer, 1943

In fun Flickr news, the Library of Congress has a new Flickr page where they'll be posting some of their enormous catalog of public domain photos. Well worth a visit.


Point Pinole

The typically racist New York Times

In July of 1892, an enormous explosion in what was then West Berkeley rocked so hard that windows across the bay on Nob Hill crashed to the ground. An unknown number of people died and many more were injured. The blast wasn't the first to destroy a factory of the Giant Powder Company – the first company licensed to use Alfred Nobel's recipe for dynamite. They'd already blown themselves out of locations in Oakland and San Francisco. After this explosion they relocated to the most distant Bay Area spot they could find – Point Pinole in what is now Richmond, but what they then dubbed Giant, California – a company town now totally disappeared.

There's a lot to say about this bit of history: about how Nobel tried to tame his own guilt for inventing Dynamite by establishing the Nobel Prizes in his will (and what a joke those prizes have become ever since one went to Henry Kissinger); about the life-threatening work of running a dynamite factory, and the mostly Chinese workforce, hired by white bosses who knew they could exploit local xenophobia and pay Chinese workers less to do one of the most dangerous jobs possible; about the sulfur mining in the Oakland hills that supplied the dynamite factories and that left a superfund site that still drains sulfuric acid downhill into a pretty little pond at Mills College. But instead of all that, I'm posting to say that Point Pinole is an absolutely lovely spot for a hike. Almost all the trails are flat and much is wheelchair accessible, the fishing is, apparently, not bad, and if you don't mind walking around directly on top of a major earthquake fault, the views are lovely.

There's not much left of the explosives factories. Apparently the old narrow gauge railway that moved explosives around the premises was purchased for use at Disneyland. Most of the buildings were destroyed. Bethlehem Steel bought the land to build a steel plant, but nothing came of it and finally the East Bay Regional Parks acquired the land in the early '70s. It's a lovely place to take a walk, whether you care to nerd-out about history or not. Point Pinole, here's a little of what it looks like:




Martin Luther King Jr.

...A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, This way of settling differences is not just. This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death...

Full text and audio of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, Beyond Vietnam, is available here.


Driven Out

driven out

Since I started tracking visits to this site I’ve noticed one post gets more visits than any other. I wanted to pass on a related resource for folks who came here to read about the violence that Chinese-Americans faced in the Western United States throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Driven Out is the deepest, most thorough examination of that shameful piece of history that I’ve found. I’ll display a rare moment of agreement with the New York Times in saying that the book contains an unfortunate lack of analysis and narrative that would have made it better reading, but I still recommend this to anyone looking for more on the issue. Pfaelzer's research is strong and she looks unflinchingly at what she rightly calls pogroms of Chinese-Americans, citing case after case after case of legal and extra-legal violence and expulsion of Chinese immigrants. Its difficult reading, but worthwhile for the sake of understanding a long-suppressed history.


Friday Night Videos

I've been wanting to launch a Friday music feature here on Bay Rad and I guess I'm finally getting around to it. Mostly I'll be posting explicitly political music and activist soundtracks but I couldn't resist the adorable and historical Carolina Chocolate Drops for an opening act. I chose the first video because it starts with a history lesson:


Cliopatra Awards

Forget the Oscars, the Emmys and the Darwin Awards. The real news is finally in: here are this year's winners of the history blogging awards! Oddly, they don't have a category for screeds by crotchety leftists, otherwise I would have been a shoe-in.


Bay Area Directory of COLLECTIVES

collectives directory.jpg

My dad just dug this handy guide to Bay Area collectives out of some long-buried filing cabinet. It looks to have been printed in 1980. I note with some amusement and some sadness that several pages of the booklet are taken up by a critique and rebuttal of itself. For some obsessive-compulsive reason I decided to scan the whole thing, so if you'd like to find out where you could have purchased collectively produced bagels in 1980, or if you want to know where Lilith, A Woman's Theater was located, feel free to click here for the full set of scans.

(Look, they've got it at Bolerium for $15 bucks!)


Freedom of Information Act

Unbelievably, Bush just signed a bill that will reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to reduce some of the bureaucracy that comes with requesting government records and to create accountability for delays in processing those requests. These reforms should allow the public and the media better access to government records, although they won't require any more actual openness on the government's part. In other words, if the FBI crossed out large portions of your grandmother the communist labor organizer's record before sending you a copy, they can still do that. Bummer.

Still, there's no better time than now to request your FBI file, or if your life hasn't been interesting enough, get your grandpa's.


General Strike Heads Up

The Davis Radio Theater will be premiering a new radio play about the Oakland General Strike on KDVS tonight at six. You can stream it live from the KDVS site. Enjoy!
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