Friday, February 29, 2008

A pointless post about a pointless article

It's late, I'm tired and nobody is reading, but boy is this awful.

Riding shotgun with LAPD

I did a ridealong once when I was in high school. All I remember is that the cop struck me as rather racist. Something about a prostitute, too.

Head out for a night on the streets with Los Altos Police Sgt. Scott McCrossin, and you’ll be prepared for almost anything.

I doubt this is this case, but I trust you'll show us with some good expository writing.

There’s a riot helmet and gas mask in his trunk. He has books on case law and hazardous materials at the ready, along with a Spanish/English dictionary and detailed maps compiled by the fire department. For quiet moments in the night, the policeman’s pleasure reading: an industry SWAT magazine. But McCrossin’s No. 1 tool, used much more than the AR-15 strapped behind the driver’s seat, is a beefy flashlight. He deploys it through the night on parked cars, construction sites and suspects on the city’s dark streets.

Things the officer appears to be prepared for:
  • a riot
  • a gassing
  • a legal argument
  • a Mexican
  • getting lost
  • doing nothing
Things Eliza Ridgway appears to be prepared for:
  • awkwardly watching the officer encounter the things on the above list.

In daylight, Los Altos police often chat with residents taking in sun outside the Sub-Acute Rehabilitation Center, neighbors walking dogs and business owners. At night, it’s a different story. That’s when the illicit and forgotten – the homeless, drug abusers, burglars and vandals – tend to come out.

"The illicit and forgotten" = the homeless? I hope that was a typo.

[Bunch of truly, stunningly boring stuff happens]


“All of your reports need to be nice and perfect here,” Langone said, speaking ruefully of what a vocal and close watch the community keeps on the department.

I'm too sleep-deprived to understand sarcasm right now, let alone be able to do it myself. So, rather than try to write something clever, I'll just say that I still can't figure where anybody would get the idea that Los Altos keeps a "vocal and close watch" on the police department. If that were the case, shouldn't more people (perhaps the local newspaper) have opposed the department's effort to enact an unconstitutional law banning day workers and lemonade stands from the city's streets?

Am I missing something?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Terrorists, your game is through

An injunction! (And also one of these!) Why didn't we think of that earlier?!

University officials filed a lawsuit against the Animal Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Brigade and five unnamed individuals because of various attacks on professors who have been conducting animal research over the last two years.

While the concept of filing for an injunction against people you can't identify is funny, the organization's planned defense is even funnier:

“The Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Brigade are two underground organizations that do not exist."

It's not clear how these non-existent organizations are planning to go about filing this defense or the threatened countersuit, but it should be interesting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You people still aren't getting your land back

Far more stunning than Fidel Castro announcing his resignation in today's edition of Cuba's amusingly-named government newspaper was that BigDra had nothing to say about it. Perhaps he's still paranoid or embarrassed about this.

Speaking of embarrassing, the New York Times had this to say about the leader of the Cuban Revolution this morning:
He embraced a totalitarian brand of communism and allied the island with the Soviet Union. He brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in the fall of 1962, when he allowed Russia to build missile launching sites just 90 miles off the American shores. ... His record has been a mix of great social achievements, but a dismal economic performance that has mired most Cubans in poverty.
As Joc said, that's one version of history. Another might attribute the poverty and lack of political freedom to the Bay of Pigs, the crushing embargo, the CIA's efforts to assassinate him, attempts to seed rain clouds over the mountains in order to kill crops in the plains and the continued harboring of terrorists in South Florida.

I'm not saying Castro's perfect. As a loudmouth, I found the restrictions on the press and other forms of expression particularly bothersome, especially when the social accomplishments of the Revolution are such a source of pride for the people that it's hard to imagine how democratic reforms would endanger them. But choosing from between Fidel and the types of people featured in the Museum of the Revolution's "Hall of Cretins" (Reagan, Bush I, and Batista), it's hard to see Castro as the bad guy.

Also, it's hard to deny that this story, from Tad Szulc's biography Fidel: A critical portrait, is cool. It takes place right after the Granma (the boat for which the newspaper is named) landed in the Sierra Maestre. The rebel army was nearly destroyed in the ensuing ambush, its forces scattering into the mountains, where they hid for several days before a local sympathizer alerted Fidel that this brother was camped out close by:
Just before midnight, the brothers embraced in the canefield. Fidel asked Raul: "How many rifles did you bring?" and Raul replied, "Five..." Fidel shouted: "And with the two I have, this makes seven! Now, yes, we have won the war!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Viva Kosova Libre!

The dissolution of Yugoslavia was finally completed today as members of the Kosovar parliament declared independence. It's been a long road for the majority ethnic Albanian population of the former Serb province. In 1999, NATO forces led by the US and UK bombed targets in Serbia stopping the Serbian military's latest campaign of ethnic cleansing in the region. Since then Kosova has been in limbo as a UN administered territory. Perhaps now it can move on, garner investment, invest in infrastructure, health, and education and move towards eventual EU membership.

At the independence celebrations today in the capital city of Pristina, many of newly independent Kosovar waved American flags. Kosova is perhaps the only place in the world where NOE can sport his stars and stripes bandana and people won't think he's an asshole. Maybe he should go and have a proud stroll down Bill Clinton Blvd, one of Pristina's biggest avenues. Now the only question is: can he use his Rapid Rewards to get there?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Town Crier's brave stand against the Kyoto Protocol


Politically correct, yes, but practical?

It's not often the Town Crier actually comes out against anything. It backed the war in Iraq using a sports cliche that it got backwards. It stayed entirely silent when a confessed child molester awaiting sentencing was free to visit local elementary schools. This is no knee-jerk reactionary opinion page -- it takes something that's really wrong to garner criticism from the Town Crier. Gay kids qualify, of course. But efforts to stem global warming? This should be interesting.

The Los Altos City Council’s Jan. 22 decision to allocate $14,600 to begin investigating what the city can do to reduce air pollutants comes across – initially – as the right thing to do in this era of CO2 emissions consciousness.

Please enlighten us as to why it isn't.

As part of the recent action to evaluate current greenhouse gas emissions at the city level, the council directed Mayor Val Carpenter to add her signature to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

Didn't they realize that Mountain View already did this? Shouldn't we just freeload off of their efforts -- we do it for everything else.

It seems politically correct to take this action. But from a practical standpoint, we wonder about the priority and direction of the effort, and whether the study is money well spent.

Zing! It's politically correct! I knew it was a bad idea. Q.E.D.

First, the study is only to determine the current emissions levels in city-operated vehicles, wastewater operations and other sources within the city of Los Altos. This seems like a good first step, but the net needs to be cast citywide. We think the $14,600 could be better used on a marketing campaign beyond city government to reach the community at large, to get people out of their vehicles. Walk-to-School days are fine but not nearly enough.

They better make it more than $14,600, given that the town newspaper consistently belittles the importance of climate change and has in the past advocated against enforcement even of existing parking restrictions.

Will the commendable volunteer energy that has pushed through this first effort be able to take the emissions information and use it to enact change, particularly given the city’s slim budget?

Let’s imagine that the study concludes in part that Los Altos police vehicles emit a high level of air pollutants. The council then recommends that level be lowered as part of the “Cool Los Altos” philosophy. Would this mean replacing an entire fleet of vehicles with more environmentally friendly ones to the tune of millions of dollars?

First of all, asking rhetorical questions is not the same thing as making an argument or taking a position. How in God's name do people give them awards for this sort of garbage? (That's not rhetorical, by the way, I'm really curious about the thought process that leads to the determination that this is good writing.)

Secondly, yes. As in, yes, it might mean that, if the emissions inventory suggested that this was a cost-effective place to make reductions. It's easy to imagine that it would be, considering that the city already spends money replacing its fleet periodically. Mountain View, for example, has rules in place that prioritize emissions reductions when fleet vehicles are being replaced.

We want to lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as the next city. But such thinking also needs to take into consideration bottom-line costs and available funding to address any recommendations.

Hard-hitting stuff there TC. Way to be the voice of reason. It was looking for a minute like the Los Altos City Council might run off spending money willy-nilly on environmental protection.

While the lobbying to get this part of the plan through was clearly effective, it failed to offer any examples of likely action to take. It would be easier to support this project if we had some examples, now, of possible solutions. We shouldn’t need an emissions study to come up with those ideas. We need a task force that is working on it – which is the only thing the city didn’t decide to do.

It's an INVENTORY. You measure things first, then you decide where best to place your effort. That said, here's a suggestion: stop killing trees to print this drivel.

Given a lack of direction and available budget, is this another study that leads to nowhere (most likely created by a new cottage industry)?

Hmm, after reading that cutting parenthetical aside, I am reconsidering my concern about climate change. It's all just a cottage industry lobbying effort. Exxon was trying to tell us all along, but we didn't listen.

Yes, we have nothing better to do

Speaking, as I often am, of the Bullis class of 1992, Becky Remmel has launched one of the best online stalking efforts I have ever seen. "Where in the World is Molly Curfman" is a Facebook group dedicated to tracking down former classmates who moved before the time capsule was buried underneath the Bullis Bear -- not just Molly but also the tall kid known as "Joshua Giraffe" and our one and only Latino classmate. (For the record, I was not the one who made Ms. Kates cry.)

Readers can infer a number of things from our ongoing obsession with elementary school. I choose to focus on the fact that growing up during the drought wasn't so bad -- our parents inability to water our lawns was a small price to pay for it being 80 degrees and sunny every day.

(This means Jon had sex!)

Congratulations to Jon and Kara Sigua, proud parents of Jackson William Sigua, born Feb. 1 in the 8-pound weight class. (Also, congratulations to Jackson. Although upon seeing a picture of him, one of Kara's friends remarked that Kara "should make babies professionally," he deserves some credit for the achievement.)

Jackson's middle name comes from his uncle Will, NOE's choice for Los Altan of the Year. Jackson was born almost exactly one year since Will was killed in action in Iraq, inspiring an unprecedented show of community support and unity. His nephew will be proud to carry the name.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pressure's on

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I've been playing hooky and spending my weekends skiing rather than scouring the local news. In the meantime, some of the Wiener children have actually been productive:

Jocelyn won a McClatchy Presidential Award, one of nine the newspaper conglomerate gave out in the second half of 2007, for her article on the fates of the former members of an inner city pee wee football team.
Fifteen years later, Sacramento Bee reporter Jocelyn Wiener tracked down the survivors of a champion youth football team from a rough part of the city. In a series of interlocking profiles she told a heartbreaking story about the terrible risks and temptations that African American boys face growing up. Combined with extensive web presentations, the effort turned stories that might well have faded from view into a compelling and challenging public portrait.
Andy (despite the fact that the last "book" he read was Johnny's Damon's autobiography Idiot) has been left and right getting into law schools that rejected me.

Bubba qualified for boardercross nationals, though I'm betting he's prouder of the following comment on the sophomoric college rumor Web site (which features recent posts entitled "Being Drunk" and "Jews, thoughts?"):
i agree theres a big difference between hot and well known, but if you were just doing this within the sophmores (which are usually most social) in the greek system I would say...

5 most "popular" boys: (I would do them all)
carmel ashur- social and pretty hot
lorenzo einaudi- sig nu social chair, not as hot but great body :)
asher luzzatto- social and hot, good style
adam groth- knows everyone, one of the coolest guys
matt wiener- phi psi social chair, pretty hot too
Somehow, I feel that correctly answering a trivia question in class last week is not quite the same.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sports Stars Love Animal Cruelty

Its been well-established that sports fans and even the public generally care more about the way professional athletes treat animals than the way they treat women. The latest example of sports stars lust for violent animal deathmatches brings together past and present baseball greats. A video briefly posted on youtube last week apparently showed perhaps the two best Dominican pitchers of all-time (NOE may dispute that assertion) releasing fighting cocks into the biggest cockfighting ring in Santo Domingo. Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez were reportedly 'soltadores' for a cockfight in the country's premier cockfighting battlefield. Cockfighting is legal in the Dominican Republic, but that doesn't mean that Americans don't frown upon this off-season pastime. The venue is called Coliseo Gallistico de Santo Domingo which doesn't really compare to Bad Newz Kennels…