Monday, March 02, 2009

We've moved

Come join us at our new home on wordpress: nemesisofevil.com. That goes for both of you.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Greek Security

In case you somehow missed the story of the notorious Greek prisoners escaping from Greece's maximum security prison by helicopter for the second time in three years, check it out here.

My favorite part is that their accomplice was a woman, who lowered a rope ladder from the helicopter and fired at jail guards with a machine gun. Maybe she could teach NOE a thing or two about feminism...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Kasperzak zings bag lobbyist

The Professor talked himself into a flip-flop, but the Mountain View City Council voted 5-2 to support the County's controversial bag fee. A "representative" of the "affected industries" spoke out against the measure.
After Kinney gave each member 71 single-sided pages of information,
council member Mike Kasperzak said Kinney needed to "cut down on [paper
(sic) waste" with his handouts.

I think Kasperzak has spent the last two years writing and practicing one-liners he'd like to give if reelected to the council.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A meta-review of a mini-book

I want to make two things clear at the start of this post: I have not read Richard Sutherland's 43-page "book" None Dare Call it Reason, nor do I plan to.

However, I did read the Town Crier's review of it. Given that the book criticizes the Republican Party, and the Town Crier's publisher is a leader in a local Republican Party organization (a fact once again mentioned nowhere), you can probably guess that the thing did not get four stars.

This is my favorite part:
What the book doesn’t have is a consistent sourcing of the facts Sutherland cites. Considering his indignation over government officials’ so-called lies that the American people have embraced, Sutherland should have meticulously footnoted attributions lest readers suspect he is duping them, too.
Considering the Town Crier is consistently unable to point to any supporting evidence (let alone "meticulously footnoted attributions") for many ridiculous claims and assertions while ignoring overwhelming evidence against others, I hope somebody over there got the irony.

At least the review didn't criticize it for being a book.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A new entry for the Town Crier's greatest hits album

This week, we find the leaders of the fifth-most educated small town in America trying to one up each other with dumber and dumber reasons for opposing a tax on plastic bags. The Los Altos City Council began the shenanigans by voting 4-1 against Santa Clara County's proposed 25¢ per bag fee. The reasoning (apparently provided for them by the sinisterly-named American Chemistry Council) seemed to be that people ought to get paid for things that they should be doing already. A few days later, the award-winning editorial pages of the Town Crier joined the fray, and you can imagine where it went from there.

County should ‘bag’ the bag tax

Ha!

A recent proposal by the Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission for paper and plastic grocery and retail bag reduction and a 25 cent per-bag tax received a cool reception from the Los Altos City Council. The issue wasn’t so much bag reduction – in these “green” times, reductions are appropriate. It was the "tax" part of it that council members rejected.


I'm sending both this headline and opening paragraph to the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

We’re glad they did. Councilwoman Val Carpenter hit the nail on the head when she said the city would be better off implementing incentives for residents using fewer bags than agreeing to impose a tax. And the prospect of another tax in this weak economy is equivalent to hitting the taxpayers when they’re down. Frankly, there are far bigger environmental issues to tackle, such as toxic waste disposal and water conservation.

The Town Crier editorial writer may be happy about this, and Val Carpenter did in fact say that, but everything else in this paragraph is wrong.
the city would be better off implementing incentives for residents using fewer bags than agreeing to impose a tax.
My idea to give people an incentive to use fewer bags: charge a fee that they can avoid by using fewer bags.
And the prospect of another tax in this weak economy is equivalent to hitting the taxpayers when they’re down.
Three issues here: 1) Technically, it would be the tax itself doing the hitting, not the prospect of it, 2) this fee would be especially easy to avoid, and 3) I'm pretty sure Los Altans can afford an extra quarter in the extreme circumstances where it becomes necessary.
Frankly, there are far bigger environmental issues to tackle, such as toxic waste disposal and water conservation.
This sentence is particularly egregious. Its premise is a false dilemma that imagines society can either address the problem of plastic bags or deal with other environmental concerns, but not both. It also lacks any evidence for its claims. And given that the Town Crier still pretends that we are not changing the climate, I find it a little hard to trust assertions like this one. In fact, I even question the writer's frankness.

The editorial goes on to argue that the market should magically provide reusable bags, missing entirely the idea that plastic bags are artificially cheap because of the external costs that the market is not capturing. And in a coup-de-grace against both logic and the English language, we get this:

For anyone who’s been in Whole Foods Market, an occasional price break would be quite welcome.

Let's leave aside for now the irony of complaining about high food prices and then letting it slip that you shop at whole foods. Also, let's ignore that one of Whole Foods' main selling points is that the food it sells has fewer associated externalities than does the food from Safeway, Trader Joe's or Ralph's, thereby justifying the higher costs. The main problem with this is that Whole Foods presumably sets its prices in a way that takes into account the discounts it gives shoppers for using renewable bags, essentially taxing shoppers in the same way that the County's proposal would.

Hopefully Mountain View will have a more intelligent debate when it takes up the issue this week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Are they civilians now?"

How are we saying goodbye to the Bush Administration?

Having lost my motivation to write a big angry blogpost after then-President Bush paid tribute to my college teammate and his father in his farewell address, I figured I'd check out the tubes to see how other local groups are marking the occasion. (Oh sure, some people are celebrating the historic nature of Obama's inauguration, but we're not here to spread positive feelings.)

Ed Sheldon (and maybe MoveOn) reserved Civic Center Plaza in Mountain View for a "Goodbye Bush" party this afternoon.

Gimmicky new Castro St. restaurant uWink attempted some old-fashioned profiteering.

Karen Meredith mooned her tv.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A customer then fell down

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman advocated that Israel conduct terrorist attacks against civilians. But, being a local blog, we'd much rather make fun of the Town Crier's parallel construction error.
... police and fire department officials responded to a pedestrian accident and alleged fraud at US Bank. Los Altos police arrested a woman on suspicion of attempting to cash a fraudulent check, according to Detective Wes Beveridge.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Skanks for recycling

As many readers know, I license modeling shoots for my company. My favorite content harmonizes the beauty of the model with her surroundings, whether it be the mountains of Alaska, beaches of the Caribbean, or train stations of Mountain View.

Catcall-inspired HotChixDig is a burlesque modeling site that purports to raise money for environmental protection. These local envirosluts really know how to turn a fella on... to the value in replacing his water heater or clumsily attempting to fix his decades-old alarm clock.

Non-profit pimp Avida Verde who maintains a blog on the site, reports that an increasing number of prospective Hot Chix are lining up to be photographed half-naked. She indicated that she may "auction off the privilege of having the shoot at someone's house," and is currently editing video to put on the site.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Quest is back

For those of you who travel overseas (so this applies to everyone but xenophobic NOE), the name Richard Quest may ring a bell. He's the over-enthusiastic presenter/journalist on CNN International who has been away awhile since his April arrest in Central Park under particularly perverted circumstances. Up until now, I thought he'd lost his job. But alas, CNN International decided to keep him on and he's back this week with a new episode of CNN Business Traveler where he shows us about planes at London's City Airport. Check local listings for air times.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Army sends John Doe letters to 7,000 Gold Star families

Just in case anybody had any lingering feelings of positivity about the Iraq War. Len Ramirez of KPIX interviewed Karen Meredith on this story earlier today.

UPDATE: Karen, who has plenty of experience dealing with the army's bureaucratic errors (not to mention its substantive errors), puts it in perspective on her blog:
This "Dear John Doe" error is not the worst thing the Army has done and sadly if won't be the last "unfortunate mistake" they make. These kinds of errors, however unintentional, are so painful to a family member who lost a loved one. I wish the Army could get it right the first time. We deserve better.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Los Altos marches to the left

Eight years ago, when Los Altos voters favored Al Gore over George Bush, the Town Crier predictably made sure to mention "the city's rich Republican history." (Just as predictably, the paper failed to mention its publisher's prominent role in local Republican politics). Four years later, a similar article by Miss Mischief characterized my hometown as "typically a Republican stronghold."

It's time to dispense with that idea. Los Altos is a place with many problems. But I am happy to report that Republicanism is not one of them.

Since the 2000 election, the margin by which Los Altos voters have favored the Democratic candidate for President has tripled, with Barack Obama pulling in more than twice as many votes as John McCain this year.



In Los Altos Hills, the margin is slightly smaller, but the trend is the same.



The local electorate's take on Prop. 8 is further evidence of the city's liberal tilt: despite the Town Crier's courageously bad endorsement of the measure, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills strongly rejected it (63-37 and 60-40, respectively).

Has Los Altos changed, or has the Republican Party?

Nationwide, voters with postgraduate degrees went Democratic by as much as 64-36 margin. (This is not surprising given their choice between a former law professor with Joe Biden as a running mate and Warren Buffett as an economic advisor and, on the other hand, the trio of a gas tax holiday advocate, Sarah Palin and Joe "the Plumber"). With 40% of its population over the age of 25 holding advanced degrees, Los Altos is likely lost to the Republicans for the foreseeable future. It may not be long before reporters are referring to its rich Democratic history.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is it the bike racks you don't like, or the Mexicans who might use them?

A half-dozen angry and seemingly confused neighbors showed up at a Design Review Committee meeting two weeks ago to try to get the city to reject a use permit for a new day worker center on Escuela Ave. After belatedly learning that the Design Review Committee is charged, oddly enough, with design review:
The neighbors complained about a large sign proposed the front of the facility which would list the center's fax number and Web site address. There were other proposals they also didn't like: a bike rack large enough to hold 32 bikes, the lack of a front porch, a lack of parking and a bench that made the area look like a "bus stop."
*Sigh*

A Holiday Fund appeal

Things are tough all over.

In Mountain View, the city is again facing $5 million or more in budget cuts, and the day worker center must divide among a hundred or so workers job requests that number in single digits. When one employer wrote a bad check after hiring several workers and declined to make good on it, the director drove all the way to Monterey County to collect. Things have become so bad that day workers are giving up and going back to Mexico and other home countries.

And in Los Altos, the house at 47 View St. appears to have been taken off the market after its list price was knocked down from $27 million to $19.9 million. (The absurdity of this property revealed itself again on Thanksgiving night, when a homeless veteran died in a bus stop just one mile away).

Some of you may need special encouragement to open up your wallets for charity this year, so here it comes:

It is time for NOE readers (and contributors) to support the best thing the local papers do all year -- the Holiday Fund drives through which the Voice and Town Crier fund a combined 22 local charities. The economic downturn is doubly painful for those who rely on these charities, as an increasing number of clients must share fewer resources. Even the Holiday Fund drives themselves have suffered, both at about 60% of last year's total. Please go to the websites now, read the profiles of the charities, and make a donation. For further inspiration, you can look to the example of Bob Schick, who made his dedicated his donation to the Voice fund to the memory of the prune trees in Cuesta Annex.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The tragedy of the commons of the Festival of Lights Parade

In 1968, Garrett Hardin wrote that "the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy," using the example of an unregulated cow pasture to demonstrate how individually rational exploitation of a shared resource tends to the lead to the destruction of that resource.

Kudos then, to the Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade Association for recognizing that the free-for-all claiming of space on downtown sidewalks in advance of the Festival of Lights parade presented a commons problem that would inevitably descend into mayhem without some form of regulation or management.

The Town Crier did an impressive job of publicizing the new rules, and its follow-up report (which seems to be at least temporarily inaccessible online) indicated that people followed them, if somewhat reluctantly.

As much as I would like to congratulate last year's civic clean-up squad for helping spur this development and ensuring that Los Altos no longer looks like an emergency shelter, I am disappointed that I won't get to see Erik Koland tape off all downtown sidewalks using Spanish surnames. Just imagine the reaction that would have elicited.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Los Altos finally Tases a dude

The back of Sgt. Scott McCrossin's trading card hopefully already credits him for hosting the most boring ridealong in the history of journalism, as well for convincing a judge that it was perfectly reasonable of him to pull a guy over for hanging an air freshener from his rearview mirror.

His stats just got even gaudier. On October 30, he became the first Los Altos police officer to use a Taser on a suspect.

By comparison, Mountain View police have had Tasers about twice as long (four-plus years compared to two in Los Altos) and used them 34 times. (I covered the the first nine of those times in one of my favorite stories ever.)

The circumstances of Los Altos getting onto the scoreboard are a little ironic:

Los Altos Police responded to a single-vehicle crash at El Monte Avenue and El Camino Real at approximately 1 p.m. Oct. 30 and observed the driver grow “combative with a Mountain View police officer ...”

You might think that having Tased people 34 times, Mountain View police are pretty set as far as their Tasing needs go. Keep in mind, though, that Mountain View has more than 34 officers, so not all of them have had the pleasure of pumping electricity into a suspect's body. Still, I wonder what happened afterward. Did the MV officer get angry about McCrossin stealing his Tasee? Or did he shed a tear about how much Los Altos police officers are growing up? Maybe share a tip with McCrossin on the best grip to use when electrocuting a suspect?

I of course haven't bothered to try to find out the facts of the case, making it hard to judge from the story what "combative" means, and in turn exactly whether the use of the Taser was appropriate. Detective John Korges told the Town Crier that it was “definitely within policy, and definitely a prudent use of the Taser.” It seems this was good enough for the Town Crier, but a routine departmental investigation is reportedly underway anyway.

More on this, perhaps, after finals.

UPDATE: The Center for Investigative Reporting has been kicking Taser's ass this week, mainly by letting company officials talk. National litigation counsel Michael Brave is quoted in California Lawyer maintaining that "Exercise is far more harmful to you." In this week's Columbia Journalism Review, Taser defends the claims it made to analysts and the SEC that it somehow has a right to review news stories about it before they are published.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Town Crier and the importance of editorial endorsements

Q: What was the largest newspaper in the state of California to endorse Proposition 8?
A: The Los Altos Town Crier

On October 22, our hometown paper joined the Paradise Post (circulation: 8,000) as only the second paper in the state of California to endorse Proposition 8.  The Town Crier's circulation of 16,500 made it the largest newspaper in the state in favor of the measure, a distinction it held through election day.

Given that the opposition of almost every other paper in the state opposed it yet the measure still passed, it seems that either newspapers don't have quite the influence they think they do, or that the Town Crier has a lot more influence than we thought.

My guess is that the truth is somewhere in between.  Blog-hero Nate Silver, as usual, probably got this one right:
When you're voting for Dog Commissioner, and you have no information about the candidates, you might well go with whomever your local paper decides to endorse.  In a race like Obama-McCain [or a 14-word measure like Prop. 8], on the other hand, you already have all the information you could ever want, and probably have established a fairly strong preference for yourself.
Precinct-by-precinct results are yet to come out, but the Town Crier's endorsement in local elections seems to be pretty crucial to a candidate's hopes: the five candidates they endorsed this year all won election.  At the same time, the electorate probably can make up its own mind about its feelings on things like children's hospitals and veterans' services.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You stay classy, Mike Evanson

Tip to all police officers reading this blog: If you are going to sue your department for not treating its officers fairly, don't spend your off-duty time getting drunk and firing your gun.

San Francisco police are investigating Sgt. Mike Evanson after his weapon discharged at a Los Altos-area Halloween party for children and adults. Moments earlier, the host had asked Evanson not to micturate on the lawn.

Evanson, who was off-duty at the time, has previously made news for his role in a neither funny nor offensive Christmas video that tried to mock women, blacks, Asians, gays, the transgendered and the homeless. (Segments of the video are preserved in the CBS5 video library, dated Dec. 7, 2005). The department suspended Evanson and 19 other officers who participated in the video. They have since sued the city for its preferential treatment of the Asian officers involved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NOE Newsflash: Town Crier endorses Los Altos

LOS ALTOS, CA -- The editorial board of the Los Altos Town Crier has selected Los Altos as the area in which Los Altos residents should do most of their holiday shopping.

In a studious, point-by-point analysis, the board argued, "why not shop and spend downtown and in our other shopping districts? The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. For starters, there’s available parking."

"Shoppers may choose from 11 women’s clothing stores, eight jewelry stores, five children’s stores and a toy store," the Town Crier writes, "the downtown also has two shoe stores and two pet stores."

The decision of where the town's residents will shop may have impact on retailers from Stanford Shopping Center to as far as the Gilroy Premium Outlets.

"We're beyond humbled," said Phyllis Dreer, 78, of Main Street Antiques. "It would have been easy for the Los Altos Town Crier to have urged Los Altos to do most of its shopping outside of Los Altos."

Edward Landis, 82, quickly interjected, "Just like it would have been easy for Town Crier to have endorsed against Prop 8, like the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union Tribune, and even the Orange County Register did. But no, our paper has the courage to speak out against the unpleasant things outside Los Altos, like homo-marriage and stores larger than Draeger's."

The editorial also reiterated one of its long running themes: Los Altans have more money than some other people who live nearby. "Residents from our communities will be shopping and spending more than other areas," writes the editorial.

After reading this, 36-year-old Mountain View resident Miguel Sanchez (pictured at right), an illegal immigrant living with 13 of his illegal immigrant relatives, could only cartoonishly shrug as he pulled out the insides of his pant pockets to reveal that they were completely empty.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The new bar"

Although its exact name and precise location have yet to be determined, the new bar in downtown Los Altos is already generating buzz. Its first true test will be in eight days, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when the sons and daughters of Los Altos (including those who consider themselves "prodigal") return home for the holiday and immediately look for somewhere to drink. A current resident (and former teammate) sends along this preview, edited for length but not for political correctness:

The new bar is cool. I definitely like the layout and the fact that there are a bunch of tables. There also are back rooms for when we go there with groups and aren't feeling like mingling with other people. The price of beer is good too; if I remember correctly, Sierra Nevada's were only $4 — maybe $4.50, but still less than the $6 you pay at Bandera’s [Los Altos Grill]. So that's a plus.
Right now it is the new thing and everybody in Los Altos wants to go there, so it's a little crowded, and unfortunately the crowds are old people trying to be young again. I'm all for partying with adults, but, at least when I was there, it seemed like there were a lot of people with a "I'm too young for Bandera's" attitude, when in reality they fit right in at Bandera's. Hopefully it will be nice when the crowds die down and it becomes a quieter place, not as crazy as it is now.
The food is good too. I tried the wings, a classic bar food, and they were good. The Boardwalk has better, and these wings were a little smaller than usual, but overall I enjoyed them. I also had a burger there, which was good as well. The garlic fries were delicious, not like at a Giant’s game, but still really good. Our waitress was pretty retarded and one of our meals came out later than the rest, not even to the point of any of us complaining, but still later. She ended up taking it off the check without us saying anything at all. So that was really nice.
Overall, I give it my approval. I think it's a really fun place to go and obviously it's great because we can walk to and from. I will be spending many a night there in the future. I talked to the owner that night, just real quick, and asked him what time they close and he said that it's usually between 12-1 AM, but that's only because people are leaving. If people stay and are partying, they will stay open until 2 AM, which is really nice. I don't know what it's like after midnight; had a late dinner there and hung out for a bit afterwards, but didn't stay late to close the place down. I really want to do that and see what it's like, but that most likely won't be until the night before Thanksgiving.

It is worth noting that our contributor's approval is essentially a necessary and sufficient condition for success as a Los Altos watering hole.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We may need to lower our expectations slightly

Contrary to the normal spirit of this blog, I thought I would use my inaugural post to deliver original news from a high level source.  

While certain elements of NOE's readership believe the Obama election is a precursor to our city's ascendency to national prominence, and perhaps will yield a key foreign policy role for the LAHS water polo team, a member of future White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's team put an end to such optimism in an exclusive interview with your correspondent.

"It is safe to say that BO [Barack Obama] has no special plans for Los Altos," says the source, a veteran staffer in Emanuel's congressional office.  "At the moment, I don't think his diplomatic efforts center around the deployment of the high school polo team, either."  The source is familiar with the Swamp Dogs, and has assured concerned parties that attempts will be made to bring their capabilities to the attention of the White House.

When pressed on the indifference the President-elect apparently feels towards Los Altos, the Emanuel staffer elaborated on the possibility that the Town Crier's endorsement of Proposition 8 may be to blame.

"What assholes.  But, no, I don't believe that has anything to do with it." 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Palo Alto still has a long way to go to be as racist as Los Altos

"At last, my hometown outdoes yours," writes a Palo Alto native, referring to Police Chief Lynne Johnson's instruction that officers who see black people in certain neighborhoods stop them and "find out who they are," especially those wearing bandannas.

Johnson quickly backtracked from what was most likely a verbal misstep. She was, after all, referring to suspects described by witnesses as bandanna-wearing black men and thought to be responsible for a rash of localized robberies. But that failed to stem the outcry against her. East Palo Alto residents organized a protest march. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Mayor Larry Klein condemned the remarks. The Weekly called for her to resign.

Does anybody seriously think this backlash would have happened in Los Altos?

On the ridealong I did in high school, the police officer made no secret that he was tailing people based on their race, nobody raised an eyebrow. When the city banned day workers from standing on the street, there weren't exactly a large number of people wearing paper bags over their heads. (It was a standing-room-only crowd, though, as perhaps a hundred people turned out to stop a pool from being built in their neighborhood).

If you're interested in reading more about this overblown story (or kerfuffle, if you prefer), I highly recommend the Town Square threads on Palo Alto Online. My favorite comment suggests that racial profiling would be unnecessary if black people were more like Will Smith, or perhaps his character in "The Pursuit of Happyness." It tops even the recent comment from "PA Resident" on the Voice website suggesting that Proposition 8 was justified because "the gay person I know" is happy with the way things are.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NOE 2008 Election Special

Four years ago, the day after John Kerry conceded the 2004 election -- a day so depressing I spent it staring at birds in an effort to console myself, only to make myself more upset when I realized the birds were bound to suffer worst of all -- my paper ran a banner front-page headline declaring that Matt Pear, Nick Galiotto, Laura Macias and The Professor had won election to Mountain View's four open city council seats. The story's "Klemke Wins!" quality notwithstanding, this wasn't so bad in itself. But we found out the very next day that though 100% of precincts had reported, the county had yet to count the paper votes, about 1/4 of the total cast. This led to an embarrassing headline the following week when we had to backtrack from our original story. If there was a saving grace, it was that every other paper made the same mistake in interpreting the county's data, and that none of the results actually changed.

This is a long way of saying that I have at least a plausible excuse for waiting so long to post an election recap. With the possible exception of Measure B (more on that later), the local elections finally appear set. Based on results posted as of 11:00 a.m. Monday morning, it seems safe to say that all incumbents won. But why stop there? This is local politics, after all, and therefore calls for some snide analysis.

Los Altos Hills "Town" Council: Beating John Vidovich
Complete Precincts 9 of 9


PercentVotes
RICH LARSEN
21.38%2,527
JEAN (JOHN) H. MORDO
19.91%2,354
GINGER SUMMIT
19.87%2,349
JIM ABRAHAM
13.47%1,593
TONI C. CASEY
13.18%1,558
JOHN VIDOVICH
12.19%1,441





Three-time mayor Casey, whom some observers have compared Saruman, returned to the local political scene (over the polite objection of the Town Crier) to complete her downfall. The strict property rights, anti-Barn (but, she stressed, pro-Little League) agenda on which she and Abraham ran carried the endorsement of the Palo Alto Daily News but not, to its credit, the Town Crier. She called for an unenforceable moratorium on campaign signs, as they are out of keeping with the city's character. (That character, the Town Crier immediately reminded readers, is "pleasant"). She also claimed the endorsement of both a deceased resident and, less impressively, the organization of which she is president. And, as the Town Crier accurately predicted, her organization attacked Mayor Mordo with last-minute mailers that wrongly accused him of breaking the law and labeled him as arrogant after he publicly apologized for false statements he had made.

She finished behind every other candidate except for Vidovich, who didn't spend a dime on his campaign despite the million dollars in unwanted federal subsidies he had lying around. It's refreshing to see not even Los Altos Hills is conservative enough that affiliation with the Bush Administration is a winning platform. Perhaps the town is becoming an ideopolis.

Mountain View City Council: Read NOE, win a seat
Completed Precincts 43 of 43


PercentVotes
LAURA MACIAS
17.73%13,315
TOM MEANS
15.31%11,497
MIKE KASPERZAK
13.82%10,383
JOHN INKS
13.62%10,231
JOHN R. MCALISTER
10.21%7,666
CHRIS CLARK
9.76%7,332
ALICIA CRANK
8.31%6,240
TRACY GORDON
5.87%4,410
DIANA WANG
5.37%4,030





Maybe it's an infinitesimally small sample size (I'm still waiting for new correspondent Happy to run the appropriate regression analysis), but if there's one trend that jumped out at me from the Mountain View returns, it's that the winners tend to read NOE, at least occasionally. The Professor, a regular commenter, and Macias, who once called this post "smarmy" (which I still choose to take as a compliment), cruised to reelection. Kasperzak finished third, returning to the council as a Democrat. I don't have any evidence that fourth-place finisher John Inks is a NOE reader, but I also don't have any evidence that he isn't.

The surprise, according to both the Voice's analysis and this theory, is that Miz Crank did not fare better. This is somewhat of a shame for the city. Perhaps her emphasis on public safety resonated less as economic shocks and other big news made the six homicides earlier this year fade from the collective conscience. As it happens, it's beginning to look like that spike in the murder rate was more statistical noise than some kind of violent crime wave. I can't say I'm sorry about that, but it might have been better for Miz Crank's campaign had that not been the case.

Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District Board: Forgiving Phil Fallaice
Completed Precincts 76 of 76

LinkPercentVotes
SUSAN SWEELEY
43.64%24,442
PHIL FAILLACE
32.21%18,040
COLIN RUDOLPH
24.15%13,526

Sweeley ran away with the board's first contested election in years, overcoming an unfortunate paraphrasing about the achievement gap in a Voice profile. I'd like to think that the difference in support between Sweeley and fellow incumbent Faillace is a result of people remembering the latter's effort to ruin the science curriculum at the high school back in 1997 (an effort which in turn forced me to give a speech to the student body in protest, taking off my shirt only when the closing lines didn't go over as well as I had hoped). I think a much more likely explanation is that the district has 6,000 voters who vote like my mom.

Santa Clara County Measure B: Not forgiving BART-to-San-Jose
Completed Precincts 1,142 of 1,142


PercentVotes
YES
66.48%393,322
NO
33.52%198,319





BART-to-San-Jose looks headed to defeat, again, no thanks to the local papers. The most mystifying twist this election was that so many of them finally caved in and endorsed this misguided project. It seemed almost like they were sick of having to argue against it. Or perhaps they were adhering to Koland's stance on high-speed rail: 'We waste billions of dollars on a lot of these, and we usually don't get anything cool in return.'

The only thing about this proposal that has changed since local papers and county voters rejected it in 2006 is that BART boosters had the decency not to hold hospitals and social services hostage this time. It's not as if tunneling under downtown San Jose to pick up a small fraction of riders at a huge portion of the cost suddenly became a good idea. Of course, defeat at the polls hasn't stopped the project before, and it probably won't stop the project this time. But that's no reason to endorse it.

Loretta Sanchez is my new favorite Congresswoman

The fighting Congressional Sanchez sisters came to UCLA Law today to talk about their childhoods and hawk their book, Dream in Color.

Loretta, who last appeared on the blog two years en route to her crushing defeat of Tan "Rusty Shackleford" Nguyen, provided my favorite moments of the lecture:
  • Justifying her decision to interrupt herself mid-sentence and get up from her seat to step on a cricket: "I thought it was a cockroach"
  • Describing her parents' impression of her childhood intellect compared to her older brother's: "The retard."
  • Recounting her decision to run against "B-1 Bob Dornan" in 1996 after he refused to meet with her: "Screw you."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Suck it, Paly

12-1, Los Altos water polo repeats as De Anza Division champs, claiming the sixth title for the Forces of Good in the last 10 years.

Somebody put the highlights up on TownTube.

Friday, November 07, 2008

CHANGE!!!!!

Change comes to Los Altos!!!!

I love the postal service as much as anyone, except maybe my college friend Addorio. I mean, just think how mind-blowing it is that you can put a letter in a box in Los Altos and for 42 cents have it probably show up in a box you've chosen 3,000 miles away. (And nevermind the fact that you could do the same thing much faster for free via e-mail). But: really? Still no mention anywhere on the site of the fact that Obama won?

The Town Crier isn't ignoring the election entirely. It has the results of the high school board election, although for some reason not the Los Altos Hills City Council race. (More on both races in a later post). Also, this:
This year’s presidential race and state propositions have engendered hurt feelings that go beyond the election results.
Also, with help from the Town Crier, they've engendered hurt feelings that are directly attributable to the election results. Of course, it hurts more to lose a campaign sign than to lose a fundamental right.

So Much for "Change"

Barack Obama's "change" is starting to look a lot like Clinton redux. Someone might want to tell him that reassembling the Clinton administration and appointing the same, old Democratic party faithfuls isn't "change."

In fact, its quite the opposite.

Good to see that Lawrence Summers hasn't lost any respect from the people in power after his humiliating, forced resignation from his post as president of Harvard in the wake of ignorant, sexist comments.

I bring out the worst in people

An election recap is coming soon, but first: The high school teammate responsible for talking me into starting a blog does his first bit of correspondent work today, reporting from the scene outside the Westwood Mormon temple -- which happens to be built, I believe, by the grandfather of a fellow teammate and friend of the blog. The correspondent sent two drafts of his report. One was mature and informative. The other is below. Pictures will be uploaded tomorrow.
Throngs of queers, queens, and quacks queued up on the streets of Los Angeles today to collectively piss on the outcome of Tuesday's election. Angelenos who had forgotten about the political predispositions of Orange County and most of Central California gathered outside the three-hundred foot Mormon Temple, made of white Utah cement by men in ordained undergarments, to protest the decision to amend the Golden State's constitution to prevent these crudes and creeps from slipping rings onto each others fingers for a change. The irony of exercising their constitutionally-protected right to free assembly was indeed lost on this crowd, as they were more concerned with displaying their wit and verve with signs like Shame on You, Joseph Smith: Prophet Polygamist Pedophile, and You Have Five Wives I Want One.

The party soon began sauntering up Westwood Boulevard in search of more impressionable citizens to molest and riot police to dance in front of. It wasn't long before the honking horns and gawking onlookers weren't enough attention and the whole gaggle decided to sit in the road and pout, flashing a red pair of ass-less chaps at the shield-and-jack boot bulls. Unfortunately for those of us looking for simple, animal entertainment, once the Freedom-Protector-in-Charge bellowed for everyone to move along, the crowd responded as if someone had muttered the safe word through a ball gag. Once it became clear that the leaders of the protest weren't going to spill any precious bodily fluids in the name of civil disobedience, the whole scene took on the flavor of a Gay Pride parade, but without the clever outfits. And that's when the author and his male coed compatriot got the balls out.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congrats to the Bastards at the LATC

Bruce Barton and other Freedom Haters look as if they have scored a victory for the forces of darkness in an otherwise bright day. Proposition 8 looks to have passed with the full support of out-of-staters, the Mormon Church (which donated 40% of Yes on Prop 8 funds), ignorant LATC directors and the very slim support of California voters.

Its a sad thing when 1) there is a vote to deny rights to a certain sector of the population and 2) when it passes.

At least Toni Casey lost.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Acres of suspense, possibilities captivate Los Altos residents

LOS ALTOS, CA -- A group of perhaps 14 people gathered outside the Los Altos Civic Center for the unveiling of the precise number of Acres of Possibilities.



Bill Bluth, 76, openly admired the City Council's dedication to cost savings, exemplified by the decision to leave the remaining 40 percent of the 6' x 10' high-resolution printed color sign uncovered.

"They covered the most important part," he said. "We have absolutely no idea how many acres of possibilities there could be."

Onlookers offered various guesses.

"They're using an exclamation point, so I figure it's at least 10,000," said Jarvis Whitaker, 73.

A woman in her 60s, who declined to give her name, took the unveiling in a more serious fashion. "I've had a life of misery, and frankly, I can't take another disappointment in my life. As long as there are no fewer than 19 acres of possibilities, I think I'll be OK."

Many were simply happy that the unveiling was covered by Town Tube, the Los Altos Town Crier's new video endeavor.

"I'm just so thrilled that this going to be on Town Tube," said Phyllis Dreer, 78. "They really don't have much in the way of compelling content. Most of the videos are just pleas from Bruce Barton to submit videos."

Edward Landis, 82, quickly interjected, "Oh, and then there's that video of the (Los Altos) pet parade. It's like a minute long and it's all kids. I didn't even see a damn pet in it. What the fuck was that about? It makes our town look retarded."

Mayor Val Carpenter pulled back the construction paper to reveal 18 acres of possibilities.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking: Town Crier endorses Prop. 8

Why can't the Town Crier just come out and say it doesn't like gay people? Then we wouldn't have to endure a constant stream of illogical excuses for its positions:
We think it is time to stop the courts from making our laws. That’s why we elect a representative government. The ripple effect of letting the current court ruling legalizing gay marriage stand will be endless lawsuits, especially regarding tax-exempt status for churches and educational institutions.
If I were more mature, I could write several law review comments on all the things that are wrong about these three sentences. Instead, I'll do this my way.

We think it is time to stop the courts from making our laws.
The Supreme Court upheld the decision under due process and equal protection law. Other examples of courts "making our laws" under these doctrines include:

Obviously, it is time to put a stop to this nonsense.

That’s why we elect a representative government.
The California State legislature has voted twice to allow same-sex marriage. The governor vetoed the bills both times, saying he would prefer the courts to sort out the constitutional issues. The proposal that the Town Crier is endorsing circumvents representative government by asking the entire electorate to amend the Constitution in a way that would eliminate certain due process and equal protection rights for one group of people.

The ripple effect of letting the current court ruling legalizing gay marriage stand will be endless lawsuits,
It was not the gays who brought the original lawsuit; and, to repeat, they based their argument on due process and equal protection rights. Those are not the kinds of lawsuits we should fear.

especially regarding tax-exempt status for churches and educational
institutions.
This is a particularly obnoxious claim that basically threatens that churches and religious schools will illegally take political stances against the Constitutionally protected rights of gay people, and implies that the right itself is to blame, rather than the people consciously breaking the law.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pointless or worthless?

I can't speak with any authority about Charlotte Jarmy's personal finances, even though I did have an unread compendium of her columns collecting dust in the "free book" pile atop the filing cabinet at the Voice. I am confident, though, that when politicians and talking heads refer to "Wall Street" and "Main Street," the latter is not a substitute for "Elite-Super Rich Families."

They are simply being good neighbors

Months ago, the Town Crier referred to Los Altos Hills as an environmental leader. If that seemed phony at the time, consider it again in light of last week's rather unsurprising report that the Hillpeople don't really give a damn if everybody else has to conserve water.

Responding to California’s second year of below-average rainfall and the driest spring on record, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a proclamation in June, officially declaring that the state is facing drought conditions and calling on citizens to reduce their water consumption by 10 percent voluntarily.

While the 27 water district agencies that serve the Bay Area have reduced water usage by 13 percent, Purissima Hills Water District, which serves two-thirds of Los Altos Hills residents, has cut back its water usage only 2 percent, according to data from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency.

If any city has reductions to make, it's Los Altos Hills, where the residents use twice as much per capita as the rest of the Bay Area. At least, I suppose, they're not slobs.

Mom, maybe it's time to talk about those five lawns again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The French Still Just Don't Get It

French politicians are outraged that their anthem was booed during a soccer game that pitted the home team "Les Bleus" against ex-colony Tunisia.

In my experience (which includes extensive research into France's former and present colonies), the French just can't imagine why people wouldn't like them as colonial masters and why people might harbor some hard feelings about their colonial legacy and their current situation as immigrants in France. Its the same pompous, self-righteous attitude that when confronted with major riots by minorities in the fall of 2005 that led French politicians to a botched response that failed to address the underlying causes and allows those social tensions to continue to simmer and make people want to boo La Marseillaise.

Even Americans aren't so stupid as to be shocked and demand an official investigation when their anthem is booed.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Somali Pirates Are the F#*$in' Best!

Piracy off the Somali coast has been getting more and more press of late - especially with the pirates recent (and awesome!) seizure of a Ukranian cargo ship carrying tanks destined for god-knows-where (there is dispute - some say Sudan, though Kenya insists they are for its own military) to undoubtedly wreak further havoc on poor Africans.

After France, the US and several other nations decided to begin patrolling waters near the Somali coast, NATO now wants a piece of the pirates.

So far this year, our favorite bad guys have cost "up to $30 million." No word yet on how much this NATO deployment will cost. My guess is that it'll be a little more than $30 million.

Yom Kippur Rules!

1) Don't drive your car

2) But rioting and destroying property are just fine.

What a holiday!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Congratulations to this "Matt" fellow

As the High Holy Days draw to a close, I realize that it has been a while since I've blogged about what is truly important in life: water polo.

So, leaving aside the question of whether "Matt Wiener" is actually my brother, congratulations to him on his award.

(Also, so long as we're talking about important stuff: go Sox.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Welcome to the blog

Some chick, as she prefers to be called, is this month's featured employee at the San Francisco Aids Foundation. The accompanying profile is semi-accurate, poorly written, somewhat trivial and mildly embarrassing to somebody close to me. It is, in other words, a perfect excuse for a post.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It finally makes sense

The Los Altos City Council spent September caricaturing itself, first by ensuring that First Street remains inconvenient for bicyclists and then by putting the brakes on a proposed link to the Stevens Creek Trail.

Here is a sampling of quotes from the meetings, helpfully provided by the Town Crier.

Councilman Ron Packard:
"We want to encourage bicycling on the whole Peninsula. On the other hand, do we want to become part of a bigger community?"
Resident David Lambourne:
"It’s hard to support any plan in which a path runs in and out of our city."

Mayor Val Carpenter, paraphrased:

Mayor Val Carpenter said the project had already eliminated multiple street parking spaces, and that she was loath to remove more for a bike lane, noting that she observed many cyclists using downtown as a launching point for regional travel rather than a family-oriented destination.

Packard again, paraphrased:
City Councilman Ron Packard referenced the city’s Fremont Bridge remodel as a project that sacrificed charm for bicycle friendliness, and suggested that he didn’t want to make the same choice for First Street.
The takeaway from all of this: the City Council finds parking spaces charming, but not bicycle facilities, especially if they somehow connect to places outside of Los Altos.

Yes, Los Altos has a proud history of treating bicyclists like they were Gypsies. Perhaps that is what the Town Crier was getting at.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy New Year, Jews

I won't be posting much this week; I have a lot of people I need to apologize to.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh Snap!

Our Fearless Publisher has strongly discouraged more Intrade posts from this reporter.
However, Oh Snap!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dead guy endorses Toni Casey

This might have been an honest mistake, but it's still really funny.

On the other hand, Duffy Price, who leads the town activist group Hills 2000 and is helping Mordo’s campaign, noted that council candidate Toni Casey is listing endorsers on her materials who are, in fact, not endorsing her. One resident, Lou Antonioli, said Casey listed her husband, who has been dead 10 years.

She "took full responsibility for the error," but that hasn't mollified the town vandals.

Casey showed me campaign cards that had been defaced, with devil’s horns and a mustache drawn over her image, saying things like, “She has caused enough damage to LAH.”

It occurs to me that a certain of our correspondents is currently neither in Argentina nor in England.

Me? A hothead?

As BigDra recently reminded me, and as I recently for some reason mentioned during an interview with a judge, I have a blog. I suppose I should post something.

It has been a busy few weeks: a certain individual visited, and I earned my first ever red card this Sunday while politely explaining to a referee why he had misapplied a well-known rule.

Speaking of mistaking reasoned analysis for anger, the Voice celebrated the unveiling of Mountain View's new child care center in Rengstorff Park, crediting "cooler heads" for the completion of the project. Readers familiar with the project may remember that city used millions in taxpayer dollars and eliminated an acre of parkland in the part of the city that can least afford it in order to subsidize one private company over others in the same industry.

Being cool-headed himself, perhaps The Professor can explain why we shouldn't use the word "boondoggle."

UPDATED UPDATE: To be fair, for once, the Voice refers specifically to Jac Siegel's concerns about parking and Matt Pear's "grumbling" about liability, presumably for the cost of the loan should the operator go belly up. While those are hardly the best arguments against the project, I don't think they indicate a lack of cool-headedness. Pear's previous complaints that the project was "cradle-to-grave" socialism, on the other hand, might qualify.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feedback on a Business Idea

Dear Readers. Just wanted to pick your collective brains on a business venture I've been thinking about for the last few weeks. What is this business you ask? Well its quite simple. After the Palin-McCain victory in November, I would be all set (website, etc) to help sane Americans establish themselves abroad. What do you think?

Oh yeah, when my email and phone are jammed with emails and calls on November 5th, make sure to mention the NOE blog and I'll give you guys priority...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

About Goddamn time

A while back I made an observation that the much-vilified airline industry was responsible for far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the global beef industry, yet no one was calling for a cut in beef consumption.

So now, a year and a half later, the UN is calling on people to reign in on their carne consumption.

I'm just waiting for our patriotic backlash against this call and stereotyping to begin because the UN official making the call is an Indian (most likely a Hindoo).

What's not to celebrate?

The great nation of Swaziland recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its independent and its bonehead King's 40th birthday. The King celebrated in style, which is nothing new. No one was celebrating the world's highest HIV rate...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You, too, could be a victim

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Los Altos police have accused three people of trying to blackmail a Silicon Valley businessman by threatening to publish video of him having sex with an alleged prostitute.


Poor guy.

The alleged extortion ring probably had other victims as well. Police searched the home of one of the suspects and found cell phones, cameras and computers with footage of other men visiting prostitutes, said Detective Sergeant John Korges of the Los Altos Police Department.

"How many more victims are out there who don't know they're victims?" he said.

Probably not too many, but just in case, if any readers have recently had sex with a prostitute you met on a social networking site and faced demands to pay a lot of money or have videos of the encounter posted online, you might be a victim.

The alleged scam began when the businessman, whose name is being withheld by police, contacted the prostitute on a social networking web site, police said. They arranged to meet, and had sex in a Palo Alto hotel room.

About a week later, the man received an e-mail containing explicit photos of the encounter and demanding $250,000.

The businessman - who Korges said is in his 50s, married and has children - contacted police. Acting on their suggestion, he arranged a meeting on Thursday with the alleged extortionists at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, a location police chose to minimize the number of people nearby. He also haggled with the alleged extortionists, convincing them to lower their demands to $50,000.

Nothing undermines a blackmail attempt like having the Chronicle printing that you are willing to settle for 20 percent of your original demands.

Also:

Police said they have not located the prostitute.

Whatever, we're rich

Grace Acosta is usually one of the few tolerable writers for the Town Crier, so I have been trying to give her the benefit of the doubt for this week's tired column about how much Jason Lezak pulling off one the greatest swims meant to Michael Phelps.

It's hard though, given sentences like this:

At a time when it seems like “whatever” can be a response to everything from “Soup or salad?” to “Atrocities are being committed in Darfur and the Congo,” there is nothing more gratifying than witnessing someone care a lot and/or express joy.

If my hometown doesn't have a motto (and I can't seem to find one anywhere online if it does), I propose that we adopt "Los Altos: Where "whatever" can be a response to genocide."

Loyal readers may remember that it can also be a response to earthquakes in China and flooding in Buurma.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maybe a giant birdhouse or the world's largest jungle gym

Everybody's got an idea for what to do with Hangar One, at least so long as somebody else is paying.

Imagine for a second that the hangar never existed. Now imagine that somebody offers to pay the Navy $500,000 for the right to build a giant steel skeleton that is going to cost somebody -- either the public or some enterprising business -- more than $10 million to either use or demolish. Is that a deal the public wants the Navy to take?

The Navy announced last month that it could strip the hangar's contaminated siding and clean its steel frame for about $500,000 less than it would cost to take down the whole thing. (Notably -- and I'm only pointing this out to needle my sister's fiance -- the costs of demolition are more than twice the Navy's original number, but the estimated costs of fully restoring the hangar are also much higher than previously suggested).

That simple comparison tends to obscure the point, though. If the Navy goes with its preferred option, at some time in the future somebody is going to have to put up a whole lot more money either to replace the siding or to take the structure down.

Anna Eshoo, resisting calls to get the federal government to be this somebody, framed the issue to the Voice's Daniel DeBolt as follows:
Further appropriations money "would have to come up in a new Congress," she said. "I don't think it's news to anyone that dollars are scarce. When the country is spending $2.5 billion a week on the war it really hits home. Funding for infrastructure, funding for education -- as sad as it sounds all of these areas are really pushed. If this is to be a priority I will work on it. But it's tight, everything is tight."
I'm not ready to admit that tearing down Hangar One is the best option, but it is refreshing to see a Democrat actually stand up against earmarks. I suppose that it is a little easier to do so when nobody is even in place to benefit from this one.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Over the LATC's Head

Despite my recent resignation from this blog, NOE has yet relinquish my access to the site. So, I feel compelled to post, though I will resist from posting about how NOE and Koland's Labor Day Party at their new place in LA has been canceled and instead post about our favorite whipping-boy/rag the Los Altos Town Crier.

A while back I posted about local scholar David Grewal's new book Network Power and how the LATC probably would not cover it. Well, either LATC staff reads this blog or they actually flipped through the copy Yale University Press sent them a few months ago, because this past week someone "special to the Town Crier" decided to review it. But don't worry folks, the LATC hasn't lost its touch. The reviewer complains that it was over her head and makes a comparison of the theory of network power to that of String Theory. She wishes Grewal could use "techniques of creative nonfiction" to clarify his argument. If anyone knows what "techniques of creative nonfiction" are, please let me know.

Oh yeah, and for a more educated review of Network Power, check out today's Boston Globe.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My sister, gardening neocon

Recently retired from the Sacramento Bee, my sister apparently has nothing better to do than go on local public radio and suggest I am naive about pest control in gardens.

Ironically, just days after her piece aired, I remained alone among my family members in both knowing of and heeding the brown apple moth quarantine, which, as a reminder, prohibits moving fruit out of yards in Los Altos, Mountain View, and most parts of Los Altos Hills.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maybe they are compensating for something

Since you keep asking, the 140-foot phallic symbol next to City Hall is a communications tower for the police department, and not just a way of taunting local peaceniks for their pole on the other side of the library being only eight feet tall.

One of the most interesting parts of this story is that it turns out "monopole" actually is a word.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The waterfall in the neighbors' backyard is really for the good of the community

A few backdated posts aside, it's been, in the words of Jim Anchower, a long time since I rapped at ya.  So I won't argue with you guys if you want to call me lazy for writing about a letter to the Town Crier rather than something for which the paper was itself responsible.  But Barney Dragony's complaints about increases in water rates are too positively Los Altan for a blog purporting to be about Los Altos to ignore.
Water rates - (sic) don't reward the slobs

Unbelievable. We Los Altos citizens who keep our town looking nice by keeping our lawns and trees green plus adding the very essential element, oxygen, to the atmosphere are to be penalized for doing so, while the slobs among us get rewarded for letting their properties dry up and go to seed and blight our town. Unbelievable!

Suppose we all get together and let the town revert to a desert. Swell, I can just imagine the uproar.
Five bucks says his proposed solution is to pay people based on how much water they manage to use each month, generating the revenue by a tax on people who irresponsibly conserve electricity.

Somebody call a doctor

I've got Olympic Fever.

UPDATE 7/13: And also a massive crush on Natalie Coughlin.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"лицеме́риe" Means Hypocrisy in Russian

And so does invading Georgia.  With the world's attention distracted by the spectacle and controversy of the Beijing Games, Russia invaded Georgia to support the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Thus far about 1500 have been killed.  Russia has constantly opposed any independence movements (and most recently opposed independence for Kosova) so as not to give any legitimacy to its own rebel province of Chechnya.  So, this recent move of violating the territorial sovereignty of a neighboring country to support the splintering of a country seems a bit inconsistent, no?

Violence has been reported in the Georgian city of Gori.  Gori, is the hometown of Russian hero Joseph Stalin and high on the Foreign Correspondent's list of places to visit since Gori boasts what is presumed to be the world's last standing statue of Joe Steel.  So far there has been no mention on any damage to the statue...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

NOE 1, Taxi driver 0

"The case is closed."

An officer with the San Francisco Airport police taxi division proudly informed me last week that he had cited a driver, suspended him without pay for a day, sent him to taxi school, and made his company refund my money.

"He took advantage of you," the officer explained.

"I bet he won't do that again," I replied.

"If he does," said the officer, "he'll be terminated."

So, what did the poor driver do to me to deserve such vindictiveness?  If you guessed "failed to inform you that a trip to Los Altos would cost meter-and-a-half, which didn't really matter because Koland's company was covering your travel expenses anyway, and you probably only cared about it because your dad made you feel like a pushover afterward and your mom told the driver that you were an attorney and wouldn't let him get away with this," you were right.

Goddamnit


McCain's price has risen 20% in the last two weeks. Not coincidentally, it was two weeks ago that McCain and the GOP embarked on a slathering of attacks on Obama.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday Ken Ballard

I'm all for hoisting conservative "hatemongering a-holes" (as one local newsperson described them) on their own petards. But it was still disappointing to see chickenhawks Michelle Malkin and Melanie Morgan get coverage when they came to town a month ago to dumb down our national discourse, while a heartfelt birthday celebration for native son and actual patriot Ken Ballard go ignored.

I had the privilege of joining Ken's other Karen Meredith along with other family and friends Saturday at Cuesta Park, who gathered to hear stories and release gold balloons in his honor. This somber annual tradition is documented in Neil Young's new film "CSNY: Deja Vu," now playing at the Aquarius in Palo Alto.

I had the privilege of meeting two of the other Bay Area Gold Star Mothers in attendance: Mary Tillman, whose new book about the simultaneously inspirational and infuriating story of her son Pat just arrived in the mail, and Nadia McCaffrey, who made international news when she invited the press to see her son's flag-draped coffin and is in the midst of launching a hospice for veterans in upstate New York. These mothers are linked in their loss, their antiwar activism, and the indignity they suffered when the Pentagon lied to them about how their sons died.

I did not get a chance to talk to Dolores Kesterson, who was also there, but the 2005 interview in which she humiliated Bill O'Reilly through the simple act of remaining sane is still a revelation to watch.