Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where the sidewalk ends

Housing debates in Mountain View often feature complaints that city council members have forgotten what city they represent. This is usually a rhetorical device.

In Los Altos, however, the city council appears to have quite literally forgotten its jurisdiction. At its last meeting two weeks ago, the council debated and voted on the future of the Grant Road farm, which, for those of you keeping track at home, is in Mountain View.

Council member Lou Becker, casting a dissenting vote, put the objection much more politely than I might have:
"My concerns are (that) I don't want to give them an impression that we're trying to tell Mountain View what to do. The decision is really totally theirs."
Of course, Los Altos has been telling Mountain View what to do for years, just not so blatantly. One of the few things I took from the Voice when I left was a copy of a college paper written by Nick Perry called "Exclusion across El Camino." It documents how land use policies (particularly minimum lot sizes) have enabled Los Altos to remain a wealthy bedroom community while Mountain View, among others, have struggled to survive as full-service cities in the face of rising housing costs (wrought in large part by Proposition 13, but that's for another rant).

This is particularly relevant now with a "slow-growth" majority on the Mountain View council. "Not-In-My-Backyard" mindsets may have a lot to do with that change in Mountain View. But I think that Los Altos' consistent refusal to do anything other than pat itself on the back for adding a condo here or there is largely ro blame. Viewed from that perspective, Mountain View's political climate becomes easier to explain (and defend) as "Not-Just-In-My-Backyard."

My favorite line in Perry's paper, by the way, comes from the introduction: "Where the sidewalk ends, Los Altos begins." It doesn't quite work as an insult, given the tenor of Shel Silverstein's poem. But it might at least explain why the Los Altos City Council got confused about the farm.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

At least they still cover San Jose

After a busy weekend spent imposing on people, I received a suggestion from a reader to "tear apart" the Mercury's biennial "isn't Mountain View cute?" drivel. However, the article doesn't give critics much with which work -- it's essentially a summary of (pick one) the census/the state of the city address/the introduction to the budget and even less useful.

It wasn't that long ago that the Merc had a reporter covering Mountain View full-time. Sure, one of them publicly bitched out the council and then baked cookies for all of the members, but at least someone on staff over there was expected to know what was going on in the city. The alternative is to write this kind of embarrasingly condescending garbage -- a 1,200-word complete history of the city the reporter visited once.

Of course, things could be worse. The Monterey Herald, another former Knight Ridder paper recently acquired by Media News, has only reporter covering Monterey, and only half-time at that.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This just in

A reader sends the following...

And they say it's the PRIME SUSPECT! How did they know? Was it the tattoos? The cigarette hanging precariously from it's mouth? The miniature toy Harley hiding behind the tree?

As I was driving down Castro, I actually saw the police frisk it for weapons, break out the cuffs and throw it in the back seat. There was an angry lynch mob holding bats and rocks. Women beating their chests. Children crying. Oh Jon, the HORROR!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Make that "not hiring"

Palo Alto Weekly A&E Editor Rebecca Wallace, who also happens to be Embarcadero Publishing's sole competent blogger, is holding a caption contest for Laurie Naiman's photo of Sears Mountain View.

Just what L.A. needs

More highway lanes.

Maybe that's unfair (but, hey, this is a blog). 405 definitely could use a carpool lane. In fact, I think it would even be worth it for California taxpayers to spring for the cost of one. How much do new signs and some white paint cost?

Adding another lane to the highway, besides being shortsighted and defeating the purpose of a carpool lane (to discourage solo driving), would be especially ironic/infuriating given that is less than a mile away from Westwood Village, where Michael Dukakis just became the first person in history to convince Los Angeles leaders that they should dedicate less land to cars.

They would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling adults

The mystery of the headless Los Altos Hills cows reads like a Scooby Doo episode in reverse. The vagrants terrorizing the local populace for no apparent reason are teenagers, while the motley crue of detectives who implausibly solve the case are adults.

Hard to say this story isn't still amusing, but aren't we forgetting who the real criminals are?

Bomb scare at the Coffee Bean

The police are keeping people away from the intersection of Weyburn and Gayley (the bomb squad is on the scene right now), so, since I can't go get dinner and don't really feel like cooking, get ready for a flurry of posts.

UPDATE 9:26 P.M.: Something just blew up.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Welcome disappointed perverts

As many of you know, I've long been upset about all of the impostor Jon Wieners out there that are more famous than I am. So after a recent talk with Jesse Lewin, I've decided to do some shameless Mike Cassidy-style self-promotion. Okay, fine, I'm somewhat ashamed of it.

As a first step, I installed a handy stat counter on the site. The best thing about this tool is seeing the stray search terms that lead unsuspecting surfers from all over the world to Nemesis of Evil.

Three of my recent favorites:
  1. Places to visit in Somalia -- And BigDra thought that nobody read the foreign dispatches.
  2. Taser vagina -- I blame Erik Koland for this one.
  3. Rebecca Wallace porn -- This led to the main page, even though I had already removed both NOE's porn coverage and a link to Palo Alto Weekly arts and entertainment editor Rebecca Wallace's blog.
You know what? As long as we're linking to everyone and their mothers, Mountain View Voice managing editor Don Frances.

Monday, February 12, 2007

An unnecessarily complicated attempt to brag about my sister without sacrificing my usual mean-spiritedness

We here at NOE seek to be educational as well as entertaining, so here are some tips for aspiring journalists:

1) Myspace is not a source. But if you for some decide to use it as such, say, for an obituary about a sergeant in the U.S. Army, and it tells you that the sergeant was actually employed as a papier machet artist, and -- not getting the joke -- you print that information without verifying it, don't get defensive when the grieving family calls and ask you to correct what you've written.

(To be fair to the Merc, they corrected the story and ran an excellent article excellent article by Patrick May about Will Sigua's memorial celebration.)

2) If you are going to run an article about an award your paper won, say, for a story written by my sister Jocelyn, you should probably have the article on-line somewhere so that people don't have to go to an anti-immigration message board to read it.

3) Keep your opinions about squirrels to yourself.

So far, off to a bad start

As if knocking over my cereal this morning weren't enough of a bad omen to begin the week, the Nixon dollar is coming.

If anyone wants to design a Bush $1,000 or a Hoover penny, I'll be happy to post the images here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

R.I.P. Will Sigua

Los Altos grieves today for Will Sigua, who died in a firefight in northern Iraq Wednesday.

I won't try to encapsulate his life here, but the support that (I've heard) the community has been displaying makes me proud of my hometown, and should be a source of both comfort and pride to his family. Family friends and visitors have been pouring in, some from many hours away. Former coaches have been calling. The fifth-graders from Santa Rita, with whom Will kept in regular touch, delivered a banner that they made for him when they learned the news.

Though we owe them much more, our thoughts and prayers are with the Siguas.

[UPDATE: Feb. 2, 8:55 p.m]. Will's mother released a statement about Will to the press, saying "he loved serving in the 82nd Airborne" and that he "believed his unit would make a difference."

The AP is reporting that Will's patrol was attacked in a town called Bayji. In the story, Will's commanding officer describes him as "the type of leader you want your men to be."

[UPDATE: Feb. 3, 10:26 a.m.] The Mercury has a very touching story this morning about Will, featuring some of his correspondence with his mother.

Will's friends have been paying their respects on his myspace page. From his commanding officers:

"From the moment he was an E-5, he held the position of squad leader—the toughest and most rewarding job in the Army. He kept his men safe and shared their hardships with them; he was truly an exemplary leader."
[UPDATE: Feb. 8, 8:41 a.m.] Will's memorial service is scheduled for 3:30 Friday at the Crowne Plaza in Palo Alto. Donations can be made to the William Sigua Memorial Fund, c/o the Los Altos Community Foundation, 183 Hillview Ave., Los Altos 94022.

Also, the Town Crier article is up, with a few more comments from Will's friends. I was half-expecting to find an apology for the paper's thoughtless beating of the drums for war four years ago. Maybe next week.

[UPDATE: Feb. 27] Kudos to the L.A. Times for running a great article about Will this weekend, based on an interview with David and stories from his memorial service. It leaves out the part about four different girls referring to him as their first boyfriend, but it's great nonetheless.