Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Remembering Los Altos' war on Halloween

With the war on Halloween back in the news, I was reminiscing earlier tonight about the time the Los Altos School District nearly did away with the holiday 12 years ago.

Michael Radwin has, for reasons that I should not criticize, helpfully created a page of links to Mercury news articles about the struggle, from back when the Merc was a good paper. While it may surprise some of you to see religious fundamentalists once exercised influence in Los Altos, it should hardly suprise you to see the city earn scorn from throughout the nation by toying with a hilariously dumb idea.

(As an aside, shame on all of you who gave out Dots tonight.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Team America: World Police

Apparently, the US military is now protecting foreign cargo ships carrying carcinogenic material near Africa. As if our armed services weren't already doing enough good in the world...

Oh yeah, we're also making it safe for ships from the Axis of Evil to operate off the Somali coast.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Los Altos's anti-gypsy ordinance

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States guarantees citizens certain "privileges and immunities." The Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean that neither states, counties nor cities can discriminate against non-residents' economic activities without a "substantial reason" for doing so.

All of this leads to the following question:

What could possibly be the substantial reason Los Altos has for limiting fortune-telling and palm-reading permits to residents of the county? (See Title 4, chapter 16). Was there a huge problem with gypsies blowing into town and ... doing what exactly?

The offending part of the law reads:
No person shall practice the business of palmistry, fortune-telling, astrology, prediction of the future, or any similar practice for a fee or any other item of value without first having obtained a permit from the city manager.


Any person holding a permit pursuant to this chapter shall be a citizen of the United States, of good character, over the age of twenty-one (21) year, a resident for one year last past of the county, and have a city address wherein operations will alone be lawful.

Another part of the law excludes would-be fortunetellers who have previously been convicted of trickery or deceit.

If any non-residents out there are interested in applying for such a permit and bringing a federal court challenge when the city refuses, I am your lawyer.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Beaumont West

Dancing, pool, pinball.

Los Altos Hills finally lifted its ban on the latter after 51 years. Mayor Craig Jones, who admits to having never heard of the law until resident Steve Kalem stumbled across it, puts an amazing spin job on the story.
"Los Altos Hills, like Palo Alto, is one of those towns where people pay attention," Jones said. "We have the eyes and ears to point it out."
Somehow, despite the town's general ignorance of a criminal law that had been on the books for more than five decades, this story is about the alertness of the citizenry. This is even funnier considering the fact that, according to the Los Altos Neighborhood Network, us flatlanders once had a similar law. Presumably, at some point in time, Los Altos repealed its law, but Los Altos Hills decided that it wasn't quite ready to do so.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vigil for Lucio Casiano

An e-mail from the Day Worker Center list:
Lucio Casiano, a leader in the ministry "Youth for Christ/ Jovenes Para Cristo" from St. Athanasuis Mountain View, was detained by ICE (immigration) on Wednesday. ICE went to his home with a warrant for someone else who no longer lived there, and took him in the process. They are currently holding him in Yolo County awaiting arraignment in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Lucio is a graduate of the Diocese's ILM program and a key leader in our parish. On Monday, we are hosting an prayer vigil in response to his unjust detainment. I invite you to join us in this vigil and request that you forward this invitation to other Just Faith alumnae.

Prayer Vigil for Lucio Caciano
Monday, October 15, 2007
7:00 PM
St. Athanasius Catholic Church
160 N. Rengstorff Avenue
Mountain View, CA

Weekend fashion advice

First, Bill Maher, in
New Rule: Show me a man wearing an American flag pin in his lapel, and I'll show you an asshole.
Los Altan David Mott had this to add in the Mercury's sports section:
Here in Silicon Valley, a necktie is commonly considered overcompensation for a lack of talent.
Both rather good points, but it's distressing to think what they mean in combination for those of us who choose to wear stars-and-stripes bandannas.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Taco-flavored kisses

The Los Altos City Council is now 1-for-2 in deciding whether or not it's a good idea to pass municipal ordinances preventing groups of Mexicans from using public rights of way.
Los Altos didn't change its laws Tuesday to keep a taco truck from feeding high school students, but the idea appears to be gaining support from some council members.

The city is considering a change to its municipal code that would discourage mobile unit vendors from selling food to Los Altos High School students.

One possible ordinance includes limiting to 10 minutes the amount of time a food vendor could remain in one spot during a two-hour period.
This is vintage stuff. The last time Los Altos set out to pass a racist ordinance like this, it nearly banned lemonade stands. Now it is considering making ice cream trucks illegal. This calls for a protest.

By way of background, my alma mater is an open campus with parking passes cheap enough that everyone can afford to drive his or her BMW to school. Rich kids can spend their lunch hour at Jack-in-the-Box or Maldonado's or anywhere else. Strangely, only blog whipping boy Ron Packard seems to get this.
Council Member Ron Packard said he tried out the truck's offerings and bought a burrito and taco for a bargain price of about $3 or $4. Packard said he doesn't want to be unfair to students who don't have cars and can't drive to a restaurant of their choice.
Even though he's right on about this, I am having trouble picturing him hanging out by a taco truck in the back of the high school. I know that high schoolers don't vote, especially not those from other cities, but this has a sort of Dukakis-in-a-tank kind of feel to it, not to mention a George-Bush-on-a-"ranch"/Fred-Thompson-in-a-pickup-truck kind of feel).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The puppies are "safe"

Alza is dying. Its puppies are not (at least, not until some other drug company has the chance to do some testing on them).
ALZA Responds to Inaccurate and Misleading Information Regarding Dogs Housed at Its Campus

October 4, 2007

Unfortunately, inaccurate and misleading information has been circulating on the Internet about ALZA's plans for dogs housed at its campus. There is no public adoption program. The animals will be properly cared for and relocated to a different facility when ALZA closes at the end of the year. We regret this unfortunate misunderstanding and appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
Here are my thoughts:

1) How the hell did Alza manage to keep it out of the press not only that it was developing a premature ejaculation drug, but also that it was testing it on beagle puppies.

2) "Housed at its campus" is rather misleading, but "properly cared for and relocated to a different facility" sounds like something Tony Snow would say.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Month in review

Dear readers,

I have emerged from a September of ass-kissing. Here's a sampling of what we've missed in the last month:

The Sacramento Bee eliminated its poverty beat.

America became ever more unrecognizable.

The Town Crier turned 60.

Here's looking forward to an equally eventful October.

EDIT: To those who have asked to what purpose the Bee, in its wisdom, has decided to put my sister's talent, here's your answer.