Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend rundown

While lobbyists from the ag and auto industries spent the week fighting California's efforts to address smog and global warming, hell's demons used enhance interrogation techniques on Jerry Falwell's eternal soul. Meanwhile, I was back in Los Altos, catching up on the news:

The members of the Los Altos School District board is in trouble for using "reply-all" in their responses to Amanda Aaronson's concerns that the plan to redraw school assignment boundaries will screw over Mountain View residents. This is what you people get for not voting for my dad.

The Mountain View City Council appears to be at least considering a plan to preserve a portion of the Grant Road farm. Council member Matt Pear is not happy about this, telling the Voice's Daniel Debolt, "It's an eminent domain action cloaked in a rezoning verbiage. That sums it up I think." Thanks for clearing that up.

With Memorial Day approaching, Michael Shapiro comes out swinging in the San Jose Metro, blasting the Army's disinformation campaign regarding the death of Pat Tillman. The article also relates the similar experiences Karen Meredith and Nadia McCaffrey faced after their sons were killed.

Finally, Los Altos High has replaced its marquee with an electronic billboard. Sorry Craig.

Friday, May 25, 2007

First person to explain why this is funny gets a dollar

The following editorial cartoon is running in Friday's edition of the Daily Bruin.

The cartoonist's name is Trevor Adam Saito. You can view his previous work here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

How to get ahead

With many readers graduating or returning from drug binges in foreign countries this month, I thought I'd share this article by conservative Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, outlining 10 steps to becoming a federal judge by age 35. Even though it's 10 years old, it's is a useful guide for avoiding the peskiness of a meritocracy in any field.

My favorite step is number 7:
Most people believe that the way to get ahead in politics is to do a lot of favors for others so they'll owe you favors when you need help. In fact, people hate to pay back favors -- it makes them feel cheap; anyway, they always think the favor you're cashing in is worth much less than the one you're asking in return. ...

The way to get ahead in politics, in fact, works just the opposite; call it Kozinski's Axiom: Get people to do you small favors and next time they'll owe you big favors. Once people have a stake in your career they start to take pride in your success.
Thanks to Will Evans for the tip.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Town Crier vs. Global Warming

Remember that poll a few years ago in which viewers of Fox News overwhelmingly believed that we had found WMD's in Iraq and that Al-Qaeda had a working relationship with the Iraqi government? Of course you do.

Somebody should poll Town Crier readers and see how they stack up.

A deliciously hypocritical letter from Edward Kelley in this week's issue continues the paper's campaign against the truth.

Regarding Amy Wright's letter published May 16: I would like to ask Ms. Wright to identify the source for her claim that global warming is a subject for which "nearly all scientists worldwide are in agreement."

It's one thing to throw out such a statement to rebut articles you don't like, but it's another to back them up with source material.

My understanding of the subject is that scientists worldwide are far from agreeing that humans are responsible and that global warming is a phenomenon that occurs naturally over millions of years.

I can only assume that Kelley appended his own source material to his letter. Notwithstanding what Kelley incorrectly calls his "understanding," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says human activity is causing global warming.

(Here is the original letter, a response to the Town Crier spilling ink on a global warming denier, a "certified consulting meteorologist," sponsored by publisher Paul Nyberg's South Peninsula Area Republican Coalition. He happened to be appearing in a cafe, previously owned by Nyberg, downstairs from the paper's office.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This week in Westwood

A man is skulking around town with a crossbow (!) and two women are violently attacked. At what point do we start getting breaks on rent?

Next time, use a blog

The editorial board of the Daily Bruin pulled no punches last week in attacking one of its lesser rivals.

The Advocate, an anti-abortion rights publication, had accused the Daily Bruin of acting as a front for the school administration's supposed disinformation campaign aimed at coercing pregnant students into abortions and saving the school the headache of taking pre-natal care seriously. Not so, said the Bruin's editorial.
If there were some way to be further from the truth, this Editorial Board would be surprised.


Students should be wary of accepting the views put forth by The Advocate until its writers start to take the facts seriously.
What's that they say about glass houses?

That same day, the Daily Bruin's front-page story heralded the student government's approval on an on-campus pub. Only problem was that it was not at all true.

The paper deserves credit for putting its correction on the front-page the following day, but it failed to explain the reason it got the story wrong -- reliance on a single anonymous source. It would be easy to dismiss this as an isolated occurence of a student journalist being lazy or making a rookie mistake. But then what would Judy Miller's excuse be?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Take that Tulsky

Loyal NOE reader Will Evans (who also happens to be dating my sister) has won an honorable mention "Gavel award" from the American Bar Association for the investigative work that sunk two judges' nominations to the federal circuit bench (or, as one of them might have put it, "approximately four").

And he did all without a fancy logo or anybody leaking him information.

Bike Commuter(s) of the Year

Congratulations to Mountain View's Jack Miller, named Santa Clara County's Bike Commuter of the Year.
The 2007 Bike Commuter of the Year for Santa Clara County is Jack Miller of Mountain View. Jack has been the ultimate bike commuter for decades. Rain or shine, Jack can be found pedaling from Mountain View to his job in San Jose and back. But Jack’s dedication to bicycling goes far beyond his work commute. As the co-coordinator of the Mountain View Bicycle Exchange, Jack volunteers his time to help repair bikes to be donated to needy families. Jack is always willing to lend a helping hand and he is an inspiration to all who encounter him.
Though not explicitly recognized as such by any official agency, NOE would like to name his mother as an honorable mention in this contest, in spite of her refusal to properly fasten her helment. Even though her commute is only about two miles each way now that she is teaching at Gunn, you might not know it from how long it takes her to get there.

Hopefully you all (at least those of you who are employed) did like Jack and my mom and observed Bike to Work Day today. If not, do not worry -- you still have 364 other days to make up for it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Living the dream

Who wants to be a civil engineer when hanging out at frat parties is so fun?

The most popular man at last Thursday's Phi Psi "Miami Vice" party was one of the few old enough to remember the television show that inspired the theme. While the frat brothers swilled vodka and shotgunned tasteless beer in the corner, the girls were all calling Craig Harrison's name.

The "brain" behind "MV SPARTANS BLOW GOATS" is now the brain behind 575 Productions, a photography company that shoots events for drunk college kids (not excluding a certain brother of mine, described by a law school classmate who attended the party as "Much more of an animal than you.") Generally speaking, the subjects seem to be both willing and blissfully unaware that their parents have internet connections.

Those guys are solid dudes. I'm totally rushing them in the fall.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Misdemeanor rambunctiousness

Great police blotter from my hometown paper this week, and not just because of its new policy of naming arrestees (at least as long as they are from out of town).

Malicious mischief

May 5, 2:51 a.m., 700 block of Los Altos Avenue: Santa Rita School officials reported that a flag pole rope was cut and vandalized with shaving cream, ketchup and chocolate.

This makes NO sense. The criminals poured all of those things on the rope? What would the point of that be? And how did Santa Rita "school officials" find out about this at 2:51 a.m. on a Saturday?

(This is also a convenient segue to a coming post about Craig Harrison, who once built a rope-and-pulley contraption capable of painting the LAHS flagpole as a "science project")

I still haven't figured out the point of this

But Kerri Havnen Gordon's lede is just awesome.
When my older sister was about 10, she liked to pick up the harmless garter snakes that slithered around our rural Wisconsin backyard in the summer. One time, instead of letting it go, she thought it would be funny to stuff the snake down my pants.
This is probably a good time for me to formally apologize to my brother for that time I hit him in the nuts with a baseball and left him lying in the backyard in his Speedo. Sorry about that Andy.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Who killed Bob and Quienno?

In 1991, Wendell, Bob, Quienno were riding high. Their cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, was a massive hit, selling millions of boxes and bringing them fame and fortune beyond their wildest dreams. But before long, it all came crashing down around them.

The following year would be the last time Bob and Quienno ever appeared in a commercial. Wendell remained the spokesperson, but his fellow bakers were never heard from again. What happened to them remains one of the greatest mysteries in the history of fortified cereal. Rumors flew -- about budget cutbacks, drug addictions, disputes over the morality of selling the horrendous reduced-sugar version, even racially-motivated murder.

The answer, it turns out, is contained in my Constitutional Law book. In 1905, New York passed law that limited the hours bakers could work each week to 60. The law was aimed at protecting bakers from omnipresent flour dust and the resulting respiratory problems and eye infections, not to mention rheumatism and swollen legs from standing all day. One professor even referred to the job of bakers as "among the hardest and most laborious imaginable."

This generated little sympathy from the Supreme Court, which struck down the law on the grounds that it interfered with the newly-invented concept of economic due process (which was subsequently overruled during the Great Depression in order to allow for New Deal legislation).

Why has General Mills kept this a secret from the American people? That question -- like the question of how Cap'n Crunch made an entire batch consisting solely of chocolate donuts -- remains a mystery.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Keeping you safe

From the mind of Los Altos's greatest character writer, a belated birthday present:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thank you, famous Jon Wiener

for thwarting my New Year's Resolution of to get this blog onto one of the first ten pages of results when people search Google for Jon Wiener.

A word of advice

If you have to sell drugs, do not do it at school.