Sunday, December 23, 2007

What do you have in common with residents of San Juan Court?

You haven't had a hostage crisis at your house either.

For a brief tense moment Wednesday, a Los Altos neighborhood came to a standstill as police searched for a gunman with hostages.

An emergency phone system warned residents to stay inside; police helicopters circled overhead and SWAT vans filled the street.

As it turned out, nothing had happened. It was all a hoax.

Kudos to the Town Crier for having the restraint not to blame this on Mexican nationals.

(While this is sort of a "things that are not happening in Los Altos" story, it differs from the prototypical entries in that series, because -- unlike contaminated pet food, bowling and Black Friday -- a hostage crisis would be interesting if it were to actually happen.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bullis Charter School: not just for poor kids anymore

The County Board of Education believes that allowing Bullis Charter School to reserve spots for the richest areas of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills will increase its minority enrollment.

Which minorities could they mean? Children of people who think Toni Casey ought to hold elected office? Gypsies?

As a sidenote, BCS board president Ken Moore cites Bullis's historical efforts to serve rich neighborhoods as a reason to let it continue to do so. Aside from the fact that appeals to tradition tend to be logical fallacies, Bullis has been around for fewer than 3.5 years. By comparison:
In conclusion, sucks to your history.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Below is an e-mail from the principal of Los Altos High School sent out to all coaches earlier today.
From: Satterwhite, Wynne
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 12:02 PM
To: Cave, Kim
Cc: Cave, Ralph; O'Neal, Morenike; Dawson, Cristy
Subject: Music at Athletic Events

Hi Kim,

At the Board of Managers meeting this morning, we voted that lyrics will no longer be allowed at athletic events. Please make sure that your coaches know that this rule goes into effect immediately. (Minutes to follow).



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Daily Bruin violates the Best Evidence Rule

A year after repeatedly electrocuting a kid who was lying on the floor of the library in pain, UCLA has finally come out with a new policy regarding when officers can use Tasers. (This according to the Daily Bruin, which has not actually seen a copy of the new policy).

The highlights include a prohibition on Tasing people engaged in passive resistance and a requirement that police officers actually get trained by someone other than the company who makes the weapon.

Can someone please tell me why it took more than a year to come up with this?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Who owns the sidewalk?

I don't know of any studies that conclude one way or another whether there is in fact enough room in downtown Los Altos for everyone who wants to get a good view of the Festival of Lights parade. But, if there were, why would Town Crier-letter writer Anna Durante feel the need to tape off space and claim it as her own? And wasn't she just "scoring a spot" at another family's expense?

This supposed "tradition" of reserving spots has quite a few problems: it encourages private individuals to monopolize public space (for longer and longer periods of time), it creates a lot of litter, and it smacks of Los Altos's embarasingly recent efforts to exclude the poor and the brown through an unconstitutional and costly ordinance that forced day workers to cross the street and stand on the sidewalk in Mountain View.

Another letter writer, Honor Spitz, raises one other concern I didn't think to include. It makes downtown Los Altos look like "one great big outdoor emergency shelter." (Isn't "Spitz" a Jewish name? I guess Mark Zuckerberg isn't the only Member of the Tribe who wants to ruin Christmas.)

Next year, I'm going to kidnap somebody, blindfold them, drive them around for a while, and drop them off in downtown Los Altos, just to see if they think they have arrived at an emergency shelter.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Honoring our choices

Today marks one year since my friend and teammate Nate Krissoff died in Iraq. After writing and rewriting drafts of this post several times, I've decided I can not articulate what an inspiring person Nate was. Here's someone who can...

At 61, doctor joins Navy to honor his son

After his eldest child is killed in Iraq, Bill Krissoff decides to enlist. With help from the White House, he joins the medical corps.

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 1, 2007

SAN DIEGO -- When Marines came to his door a year ago to tell him that his eldest son had been killed in Iraq, Bill Krissoff reacted like any father: with confusion, devastation, then numbness.

Nathan Krissoff was so young, a lover of poetry, a champion athlete, a leader whose maturity and selflessness had impressed fellow Marines.

The father in Krissoff found no resolution to his grief. The physician in him did.

At an age when many people think about retirement, Krissoff decided earlier this year that he would enlist as a doctor. He was 60 years old, decades above the military's preferred demographic.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Catching up with a former Voice intern (unfortunately not THAT one).

The Economist has apologized for plagiarizing a story that former Voice intern David Herbert wrote while in Uganda this summer. Yes, that David Herbert. (Turns out I'm not the only Voice alum who's "basically ethically bankrupt.")

Suggests Herbert, "If you reference this on your blog, try not to talk about my own indiscretions."

Sorry Dave. Maybe next time you'll think twice about telling a higher-up, "That's your lede? Why don't you print that out so I can wipe my ass with it."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Things that are not happening in Los Altos, Part III

The newest entry in the Town Crier's award-winning series on what's outside Pleasantville: Black Friday.

What part of "public right of way" doesn't Los Altos understand?

My guess is either "public" or "right."

Festival of Lights Parade-goers have taken to "reserving" their spots on downtown sidewalks days in advance of the event. This is the same mindset that led the City of Los Altos to try to ban Mexicans from its sidewalks eight years ago. It's so distasteful that even the Town Crier mentioned the conflict that it caused. (I have to think Mary Beth Hishop got reprimanded for not focusing exclusively on the smiling children.)

Next year, please join in following the lead of the Portland Mercury Civic Clean-Up Squad and reasserting the public's right to the public right of way. NOE welcomes suggestions for less fascist-sounding names.