Posted in Around Town, Issues

Gearing Up

We’re ready for the Rose Parade tomorrow. If my mom feels well enough (she’s visiting from Oregon), we’ll be there.

Beijing 2008

Leave a comment if you’d like a shirt. I’ve given away most of my stash, but I have a couple left. I’m not gonna march, yell, or drop leaflets. I’m simply going to turn around when the Beijing 2008 float goes by. And then turn back around and watch the rest of the parade.

  • You can read about the issues here (Reporters Without Borders).
  • Here’s the link for the Visual Artists Guild. The VA Guild posted this YouTube video entitled “North American Campaign for Free Burma Road Trip (Pasadena)”–worth watching if you’ve never see Ann Lau in action. Yeah, it’s got Bill Paparian too. Whatever.
  • A recent report from Amnesty International re: persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is here.
  • Metroblogging LA (thanks frazgo) has a nice round-up.
  • Best of all, our own US State Department published this report in 2006. That last one is a real read-it-and-weep.

Truth be told, I’m looking forward to the Dodgers float. All hail the mighty Vin Scully.

Peace out.

Posted in Cool Stuff, England

Happy Boxing Day!

Thanks to spending several years in the UK, I celebrate Boxing Day. It’s a day to hang out with family and friends, watch sports (Portsmouth vs Arsenal, the team my brother supports, is about to start), and play with your new stuff. I have the new Joni Mitchell CD to play with.

No one really knows the origin of Boxing Day, but there are theories.

For your reading pleasure:

What British kids say about Boxing Day

Encyclopedia Britannica on Boxing Day

Snopes on Boxing Day

Wikipedia article on Boxing Day

Update: Well, here’s proof that great minds think alike.

Posted in Around Town, Let's Get Visual

Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena 4

Another in my occasional series about changes in Northwest Pasadena. Obviously, all my graffiti posts provide a counterpoint to this series, but we try for fair and complete reporting around here.

Long a place of buying and selling of the not legal kind, this holiday season debuted a couple of new products in my Northwest neighborhood:

Plant & Art Sale

Note the correct spelling of every word on that sign.

Previously in this series:

Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena 3 – In which District 1 city council rep Jacque Robinson raffles off most (or at least a portion) of her Rose Bowl and Rose Parade tickets to Northwest residents. I’m the lucky winner of the opportunity to buy Bowl tickets at face value.  Why yes Virginia, they are still for sale.

Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena 2 – In which I try to get rid of the base of a bed the old-fashioned way, and it doesn’t work until Craigslist is invoked.

Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena 1– In which one house proclaims its opposition to Xmas lights due to global warming.

Posted in Issues, Useful

Great Ideas 4

This one is simple. Let’s Go Metric! I love it that there’s an organization for just about everything, even going metric.

From today’s The Writer’s Almanac:

It was on this day in 1975 that Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act and started the “go metric” campaign with school activities, bumper stickers, public service announcements, and wall charts. But in 1982, Ronald Reagan disbanded the Metric Board and canceled its funding. The metric system was developed 200 years ago, during of the Age of Reason, and is based on numeric intervals of 10, while the U.S.’s measurement system is based on seeds and body parts. Today, the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar are the only nonmetric countries in the world.

From my previous blog entry about this topic: This map makes me laugh. Only Myanmar and Liberia (those bastions of democracy!) join us in being non-metric. We have this.

The US government won’t implement metric here at home, but will on the moon. It’s painful to think about the money that is being wasted because we’re not metric, and the lost business opportunities as well.

In case you’re wondering, as I’m writing this it is 12 degrees, and today’s high will be 19. When I lived in England, I used to think 25 was a really hot day. Since then, I’ve been to the Imperial Sand Dunes when it was 45 degrees.

Hmmm. This conversion to metric may take some doing. We’re going to need this handy tool.

Go Metric!

(seen at Caltech)

Previously in this series:

Great Ideas 1 – Let’s Keep Church and State Separate

Great Ideas 2 – Let’s Free Health Care From the Shackles of Capitalism

Great Ideas 3 – Let’s Get Rid of the Electoral College

Posted in Around Town

Bill Does Us Proud

Congratulations to City of Pasadena’s own Mayor Bill Bogaard, Metroblogging LA’s very own Grinch of the Year.

Bill bested AMPTP‘s Nick “The Bean” Counter, poster-child of producer-greedy badness in the current Writer’s Strike. Considering the economic impact of the strike, it was quite a feat for Bill to win this (dis)honor.

UPDATE: But not to worry. Our local newspaper has come out in Bill’s defense:

Not Taking on a Global Issue: When your mother’s been wrongly imprisoned in a forced labor “re-education camp” for the crime of having a religion, whatever that religion might be, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

And so of course as Americans we find infinitely compelling the plight of Shuying Li, imprisoned in China for being a member of Falun Gong, and her daughter Yaning Liu, who is trying to get her released. Liu’s work for her mom is moving. The Chinese arrest of a citizen for having a few pamphlets of the spiritual movement in her home is inexplicable to freedom-loving people. It’s also evidence of a government that is deeply insecure about its legitimacy without the iron first of totalitarianism.

But we also find it more than a little ludicrous that since a Beijing Olympics float is scheduled to roll in the Rose Parade Jan. 1, the mayor of Pasadena is all of a sudden the court of last resort for everyone with a beef with the police state that is China.

Liu certainly has every right to join in the protests against the float, which she has done, in the Council Chambers at Pasadena City Hall and elsewhere.

And we applaud her for speaking openly about her mother’s plight, as she did in a recent story by Staff Writer Todd Ruiz. She did so even though four Chinese government officials recently visited her father and asked him “to talk to me and try to persuade me from talking to the press and interrupting their Olympic celebration,” Liu told Ruiz.

Yes, when in extreme situations, people sometimes act extremely.

Liu has our enormous sympathy – and, more than that, we think that our government should go to bat for her and her mother.

But the government that should and even can do so is not the government of Pasadena.

It would be just as logical to go to Rosemead Mayor John Tran for help. After all, there’s a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rosemead, selling millions of dollars worth of Chinese-made goods each year. There’s some economic muscle behind that relationship, distant as it is.

It would certainly be far more logical for Liu to go to her own mayor, Manuel Lozano of Baldwin Park, for help. She lives there. Her mayor might be able to help a constituent figure out the best way to put pressure on a foreign government, at least.

And the office of Rep. Hilda Solis, the member of Congress who represents Liu and her Baldwin Park neighbors, would be an excellent choice as far as American government figures go. Solis’ office could certainly be helpful in helping gain access to State Department or other federal avenues of possible diplomatic pressure on the labor-camp happy thugs of who rule China. (Liu recently said she did contact Solis’ office, to no avail; Thursday Solis did send a letter. Earlier, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, wrote a letter to Chinese officials on Liu’s behalf.) The Chinese officials want the hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to Beijing for next summer’s Olympics to believe that nobody’s unhappy in China. But they don’t realize that in arresting everyone who is unhappy, the whole world will know about the chicanery – or the rest of the world, that is, where there’s a free press.

But the Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that puts on a big parade and accepted an Olympics float. It probably would have accepted a Tehran Olympics float or maybe even a Pyongyang Olympics float, if there were such.

Yes, Pasadena has among its many sister cities a district of Beijing. The sister cities program is again a volunteer organization almost entirely run by local citizens.

Pasadena officialdom has little or no leverage with its counterpart in Beijing. Sure, bring on the protests against what’s wrong with China – protest is the American way. Just don’t look to a medium-sized California burg’s City Hall, with a mayor who is disinclined to get internationalist, to take on the fight.

As I said over at Pasadena’s Political Underbelly – “It (The Tournament of Roses) probably would have accepted a Tehran Olympics float or maybe even a Pyongyang Olympics float, if there were such.” Uh, not exactly. Economic ties with China run deep around here. (But great suggestions for the Doo Dah Parade.)

“…mayor who is disinclined to get internationalist…” Hey, he went to China, didn’t he? Supports the whole sister city thing, right? Disinclined to offend is more like it. Unfortunately, that’s not going to work on this one.

Pasadena officialdom has little or no leverage with its counterpart in Beijing.” I don’t think this is true. It would be a big deal to if Pasadena broke off the sister city relationship over human rights issues. But even if it is true: So what? Leverage or no leverage, it is appropriate to speak out.

protester

I don’t want the mayor to “take on the fight.” I just want him to take a stand beyond the furrowed brow and hand-wringing.

PS – I’m not sure what being a “volunteer organization” has to do with anything. In this editorial, the fact that the Tournament of Roses and the Sister Cities organization are volunteer-driven implies they haphazard, or ill-conceived, or less credible. Are volunteer organizations incapable of addressing big issues? Can we really say the Tournament of Roses are a bunch of dummies who don’t know one oppressive government from another?

Posted in Around Town, Let's Get Visual

Leftovers

I try not to be a conspiracy theorist. Conspiracy implies malice aforethought. If you’re going to do that sort of thing, it takes a lot of careful work.

The thing is, the malice that comes from NO thought often rivals the intentional sort. That explains why the City of Pasadena has, willy-nilly, put these lights on certain blocks of Northwest Pasadena. Not certain streets, mind you. Just certain blocks.

(My apologies for lame photo. Cell phone, you know. It was dark. I was hoofin’ it home from work. Tengo hambre. Whatever.)

Street lights on Tremont

These are the old-fashioned street lights, not as fancy as the ones that line Linda Vista of course (is it possible the LV ones retain their incandescent bulbosity?). These are the lights that your modern urban planner would call outmoded, because now street lights are supposed to:

1) Light the street (sodium vapor lamp-light)

2) Light the street for a pedestrian, which these do in their better-than-nothing-besides-Pasadena-Heritage-won’t-complain way.

(Specificity alert.) The thing is, just taking Tremont St. as an example (traveling east to west), the old-fashioned lights pictured above are not between Fair Oaks and Navarro, but they are between Navarro and Glen Ave. Tremont ends at Glen. There are none of these lights on Glen (a north-south street–too long). On Wyoming, a short jog to the north of Tremont, there are none of these lights between Glen and Mentone, but west of that intersection the lights resume and then continue to Lincoln Avenue. Which was bless’d with a passel of them some time back.

Does it seem like Pasadena had a few extra lamp posts and plopped them down wherever? Why yes, Ward, I think the Beav was up to something even if he didn’t think he was.

It is okay to make a mistake if you didn’t mean to? In some cases, yes, but that’s not the case here. Somebody meant to put these lights where they are. Thanks to them, I can see part of the way home!

(Logic leap alert.) My brain has hoppity-skipped over to “The Bogaard Dilemma.”  ‘The Chinese weren’t mean to me when I went to their foreign land. I ate their food and everything.  Now, someone’s mom is in prison in Pasadena’s sister city and she wants my help.  But if I help her I’ll have to help evvverrryyyooonnnee.  And I just can’t eat that many girl scout cookies.’

While I’m at it, that grocery cart thing does NOT apply only to older Latinas. I didn’t have the cojones disrespect to take the photo to prove it, but I saw it today.  On a street without the fancy streetlights.