By the People

People, we do have power. Don’t forget that.

From: Arroyo Seco News <>
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 4:27 PM

The Los Angeles County Supervisors today approved a motion instructing the County Department of Public Works to conduct a full environmental impact report on the sediment management program at Devil’s Gate Dam and Hahamongna in the Arroyo Seco. The motion, introduced by Supervisor Mike Antonovich,  included a provision that Public Works staff report back to the Supervisors within 90 days on short-term measures that might be needed to ensure the functioning and safety of the dam. Supervisors Antonovich, Zaroslavsky and Ridley-Thomas supported the motion. Supervisors Molina and Knabe abstained.
Just a month ago, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the DPW would proceed without an environmental review on the basis of an Emergency Declaration. But then a storm of public concern about the 170,000 trucks and pollution and habitat destruction as well as the fallout from the destruction of the Arcadia Woodlands changed the whole picture.  The Save Hahamongna petition, which collected over 540 signatures in just a few weeks, focused the opposition tactically, and the Pasadena City Council waded in on Monday night with a resolution supporting Supervisor Antonovich’s motion.  At the Supervisors’ Meeting this morning, the County Counsel indicated that it was now the intent of DPW to pursue the project based on a maintenance exemption rather than an emergency declaration, but all the wiggling and persuasion of the Public Works managers was not convincing to the majority of the Supervisors.
Today’s victory is the first step in ensuring that Hahamongna and its nature as well as the local neighborhoods are protected. A very important step in the right direction!  We are sure that everyone, including the County, will come out winners from a better program that includes the evaluation of impacts and alternatives and fully involves the cities and stakeholders.
Congratulations to everyone involved.   Let’s party!


The crowd turned out at Kidspace by the Rose Bowl, in the beautiful Arroyo Thursday night for the Arroyo Verde Awards given by the Arroyo Seco Foundation.

Tim Brick led the festivities which included awards to:

  • The Hahamongna Bloggers for Best Advocacy (about 25 of us blogged on the same day to protest development plans in the Hahamongna Watershed Park) below JPL
  • Foothill Municipal Water District for Greening the Arroyo–Agency
  • Urban Semillas and Miguel Luna for Greening the Arroyo–Organization
  • Arroyo Green Team, Audobon Center for Volunteers
  • Nolan Pack and PCC Student Government for Citizen Activist
  • Michael Cacciotti, mayor Pro-Tempore, City of South Pasadena (great remarks!)
  • Highland Park resident Virginia Neely for a Special Award for her historical record-keeping and assistance to many
  • Nicole Possert for Lifetime Achievement

 See my earlier post for the list of Hahamongna bloggers, and add to that Steve Scauzillo

Thanks for the great party! So nice to be recognized! And hats off to Petrea Burchard, Karin Bugge, and Barbara Ellis who hatched the united blogging idea.

While we all got certificates, Petrea’s in possession of the festive froggy award that glows in the dark! That should keep her hoppin. And thanks to new friend Robert for taking a slug of these photos.

Here are some pix. They’re also on flickr at

Gotta read Altadena Hiker if you love Hahamongna

Bob Stane, who everyone knows from all the great music he produces at the Coffee Gallery Backstage and the comedy he set loose at the Ice House for years, is making more than anyone else could out of his “fork in the road” on S. Pasadena Ave. I’m heading there today for a photo myself to catch all the action. Just read on and be amazed. Then give him a hand with food and decor!

Bob Stane Says:  Today, we have two sermons in one.  Double your pleasure, double your fun.
Both have the subtle thread of volunteerism running through them.  Oh, Bob, you have started your novel.  No Chuckie and Chuckette,
I have not.  Wait for it.   Here is the fun part.  As you know, we scored big with THE FORK.  It ran on TV all over the country and was featured in The Chicago Tribune, with color photo.  (Internet Version).  Also The Los Angeles Times featured us with a half page as
did The San Gabriel Tribune.  It went on and on and is still a “happening” event. The door is only slightly ajar. The demons are peeking around the corner.
The conquest of the media world is only a greedy grasp away.  I can almost taste the heady essence of complete power.
Of course with absolute power comes absolute corruption.  Well, I can’t be perfect.  Stay with me on this one.
We are starting The Fork In The Road Gang with everything that goes along with belonging to, and  flaunting,  a snooty and exclusive  organization.  A fraternity  that is much too good for such as I.  But that will be worked out.
You, however, are invited to join.  Can you feel that warm tingle go up and down your spine?  Delicious.
Read the copy about the food drive.  There is a lot more opportunity for future glory in this than you might think.  Then go down to the next item of forkiness  and absorb the hint of evil that goes with ongoing holidays and Pasadena events.        Oh, yes, yes, yes.

THE FOOD DRIVE:  (Good deeds, etc. The Holidays are here)
“Put The Fork In Hunger”  food drive to benefit Union Station Homeless Services.  Largest Food Drive Ever!
This Saturday and Sunday from 8 to 4 P.M.  Bob Stane, Ken Marshall (The Coffee Gallery Backstage) and Philip Coombes( will be launching Pasadena’s largest food drive ever! benefiting Union Station Homeless services.  Union Station Homeless Services  will be feeding more than 5,000 people in the park on Thanksgiving Day and any non-perishables you can drop off at the fork this weekend will be greatly appreciated and much needed.
The food drive will be taking place at The infamous “Fork” located at the “fork in the road” where St. John and Pasadena Ave. meet. (or divide depending if your cup is half full or half empty) This is just South of Huntington Hospital and Bellfontaine.  (From now on, this piece of dirt is dubbed, “Fork  Plaza”). Please look for the volunteers wearing bright Orange shirts.  Simply go slow, roll down your window and give your non-perishable food items to the volunteers with outreach bags.

We are also looking for volunteers (anyone? anyone?) to help on both days of the event, Hint:  students  looking for  service hours.  For further information or to volunteer, please contact Philip Coombes at or call 626 644-3227.  (do not call Bob Stane, phone or e mail Phil.). Adults welcomed and needed. Call now.
Easiest route is from Arroyo (Pasadena Freeway).  Go west on Glen Arm.  Go north on Pasadena Ave.  Admire fork. Volunteer or drop off food.  Go around the corner, park, and gaze. Think about the audacity and the work and imagination that went into this stunt. Now your appetite is whetted.  You are doomed.  However, if Glenda, The Good Witch shows up you may get away with it.
Mapquest. Type in 866 N. Pasadena Ave. Pasadena, CA.  The Fork lives to the left of this address.


What’s next, Bob. Exploit me, take full advantage.  “See World Conquest.”
The Fork In The Road, at Fork Plaza, has only started to infect the community.  So much potential  mischief, so little time.
Get this insight.  “The Fork and Fork Plaza” are new players on the Pasadena scene.  New and shiny. Just right for seasonal exploitation.
The television cameras are waiting for the close up, CB.
We need a Santa hat for the top of the fork.  There will be lights (we hope).  Other wonderful decorations and “inspired” things might happen or appear. The top of the fork is 24 inches wide.  Just right for some sewing genius who can make a hat or ?  A craft project or do you have a huge Santa hat in your garage?  Ideas welcomed.  Ken will install, do not
climb any ladders.
All right, Bob, what do you really want to do?  Spill your guts.  O. K., you got it out of me.  What I really want is to get The Fork featured in The New Year’s Day parade television coverage and as a feature, on TV, during the football game, January 1, both.  That will require ideas.  And a crown on the top if the fork.  See “crafts.”  Want to see your work on TV?  Sure you do.
Now, Bob, how are you going to get it on TV on New Year’s Day? Answer: Remember, The Fork is a new player and the TV commentators have about worn out anything else that might be spectacular in Pasadena.  That leaves The Fork and my festering imagination to supply (safe and sane) visuals.  The Rose Court?  Maybe.  The Cheer leaders of both football teams?  Dancers? Perhaps.
Actually, there is much more but I cannot tell you as I need to reserve much of the ideas to seduce the TV channels.  I have great visuals in store. Can’t give it away. So cool.  You will be proud of me.
Hint:  I may need someone to craft a large pie.  Envision a round wash tub (tin/zinc) cut down (shortened) to pie size.  Then a pie crust (made of?).     Oh, yes, a pie.  That warm tingle is, again, going up the spine.  You will think of better things than I.
Now you can contact Bob Stane.  Think outside the pie:
This is going to be good.  (or as Terry Southern wrote of Guy Grand’s escapades in his book “The Magic Christian,” “it cost him a pretty penny to get out of that one.”).

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN: And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man Barack Hussein Obama won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States. A civil war that, in many ways, began at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, ended 147 years later via a ballot box in the very same state. For nothing more symbolically illustrated the final chapter of Americas Civil War than the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia the state that once exalted slavery and whose secession from the Union in 1861 gave the Confederacy both strategic weight and its commanding general voted Democratic, thus assuring that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States. This moment was necessary, for despite a century of civil rights legislation, judicial interventions and social activism despite Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther Kings I-have-a-dream crusade and the 1964 Civil Rights Act the Civil War could never truly be said to have ended until Americas white majority actually elected an African-American as president. That is what happened Tuesday night and that is why we awake this morning to a different country. The struggle for equal rights is far from over, but we start afresh now from a whole new baseline. Let every child and every citizen and every new immigrant know that from this day forward everything really is possible in America.


And if you want to understand clearly what is happening with our environment, read Friedman’s new book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.” He spoke at Caltech last week and brilliantly sums up the crisis we’re facing.

Whose Face will be First?


N E W S  R E L E A S E


For Immediate Release

October 29, 2008



Caltech-Led Researchers Find Negative Cues from Appearance Alone Matter for Real Elections



PASADENA, Calif.– Brain-imaging studies reveal that voting decisions

are more associated with the brain’s response to negative aspects of

a politician’s appearance than to positive ones, says a team of

researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech),

Scripps College, Princeton University, and the University of Iowa.

This appears to be particularly true when voters have little or no

information about a politician aside from their physical appearance.


The research was published online in the journal Social Cognitive and

Affective Neuroscience ( on October 28.


Deciding whom to trust, whom to fear, and indeed for whom to vote in

an election depends, in part, on quick, implicit judgments about

people’s faces. Although this general finding has been scientifically

documented, the detailed mechanisms have remained obscure. To probe

how a politician’s appearance might influence voting decisions,

Michael Spezio, an assistant professor of psychology at Scripps

College and visiting associate at Caltech, and Antonio Rangel, an

associate professor of economics at Caltech, examined brain

activation in subjects looking at the faces of real politicians.


Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner at the

Caltech Brain Imaging Center, the researchers obtained

high-resolution images of brain activation as volunteers made

decisions about politicians based solely on their pictures.


The researchers conducted two independent studies using different

groups of volunteers viewing the images of different politicians.

Volunteers were shown pairs of photos, each with a politician coupled

with their opponent in a real election in 2002, 2004, or 2006.

Importantly, none of the study subjects were familiar with the

politicians whose images they viewed.


In some experiments, the volunteers had to make character-trait

judgments about the politicians–for example, which of the two

politicians in the pair looked more competent to hold congressional

office, or which looked more likely to physically threaten the

volunteer. In other experiments, volunteers were asked to cast their

vote for one politician in the pair; once again, their decisions were

based only on the politicians’ appearances.


The results correlated with actual election outcomes. For example,

politicians who were thought to look the most physically threatening

in the experiment were more likely to have actually lost their

elections in real life. The correlation held true even when

volunteers saw the politicians’ pictures for less than one tenth of a



Importantly, the pictures of politicians who lost elections, both in

the lab and in the real world, were associated with greater

activation in key brain areas known to be important for processing

emotion. This was true when volunteers simply voted and also when

they closely examined the politicians’ pictures for character traits.

The studies suggest that negative evaluations based only on a

politician’s appearance have some effect on real election

outcomes–and, specifically, may influence which candidate will lose

an election. This influence appears to be more uniform  than the

influence exerted by positive evaluations based on appearance.


This finding fits with prior studies in cognitive neuroscience as

well as in political theory.


“The results from our two studies suggest that intangibles like a

candidate’s appearance may work preferentially, or more uniformly,

via negative motives, and by means of brain processing contributing

to such negative evaluations,” says Michael Spezio, the lead author

on the study.


“It’s important to note that the brain region most closely associated

with seeing pictures of election losers, known as the insula, is

known to be important in processing both negative and positive

emotional evaluations. Its increased activation in response to the

appearance of election losers is consistent with its association with

negative emotional evaluations in several domains, including the

sight of someone who looks disgusted or untrustworthy,” Spezio says.


“Candidates try to evoke emotional reactions when they campaign for

office, and this research gives us a new perspective on how much

emotions might matter, and how they might matter, in terms of how

voters view candidates,” says study coauthor R. Michael Alvarez, a

professor of political science at Caltech and codirector of the

Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project.


One surprise in the study is that negative evaluations, such as the

perception that a candidate is threatening, influence election loss

significantly more than positive evaluations like attractiveness

influence election success.


“While these findings are certainly very provocative, it is important

to note their limitations,” says study senior author Ralph Adolphs,

Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and professor of

biology at Caltech, and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center.


In particular, Adolphs says, the observed effects, while

statistically significant, were rather small. “There is no doubt that

many, many sources of information come into play when we make

important and complex decisions, such as will happen in the upcoming

elections. We are not claiming that how the candidates look is all

there is to the story of how voters make up their minds–or that this

is even the biggest part of the story. However, we do think it has

some effect–and, moreover, that this effect may be largest when

voters know little else about a candidate.”


Adds Spezio, “Given the size of the effects we see, we are likely

detecting the influence of voters who have little or no information

about a candidate’s views or life story, for example, or who choose

not to pay attention to that information. Our finding is consistent

with literature showing that humans prioritize negative information

about outgroups”–groups of individuals who are perceived to not

belong to one’s own group, as defined by characteristics such as

profession, age, gender, social community, and shared values, but to

an outside group. “A voter who knows nothing about a candidate will

likely put that candidate into a default outgroup position. From

there, negative attributions are expected to get the primary weight

in decisionmaking. And that is precisely what we see,” he says.


“Earlier behavioral studies showed that rapid, effortless inferences

from facial appearance predict the outcomes of political elections,”

says study coauthor Alex Todorov, an assistant professor of

psychology and public affairs at Princeton University. In 2005,

Todorov published the first study to show that voter decisions are

significantly associated with character-trait judgments that are

based entirely on the visual appearance of political candidates.


“However,” Todorov adds, “these studies did not show how these

inferential processes could play out at the level of individual

voters. Two types of evidence will be critical to delineate the

causal effects of appearance on electoral success: work by political

scientists studying real voting decisions and work by cognitive

neuroscientists studying the proximal mechanisms of the effects of

inferences on decisions. The fMRI studies are an important step in

the latter direction.”


The coauthors of the study, titled, “A neural basis for the effect of

candidate appearance on election outcomes,” are John O’Doherty,

associate professor of psychology at Caltech, Kyle Mattes of the

University of Iowa, and Hackjin Kim of Korea University.


The work was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the

National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.



Ok, I’m posting this because I’ve been saying it the last week and I’m laying claim to it.

This is my shorthand for the McCain-Palin circus ticket.

This man really knows how to do it…

Just when I thought politics couldn’t get any worse (though we certainly now have some drama), McCain chooses Annie Get Your Gun for VP.  She’s like a throwback to the 1800s.  I know it doesn’t matter much here in Democratic California, but here’s a link to show your support of the Blue Team.

Click this link to get a free Obama/Biden sticker — even the shipping’s free.

Here’s the report from Tuesday’s Town Council Meeting.

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