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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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‘Theological tennis’: The fall and rise of Christian morality

Editor’s note: The following column is a response to the article that ran in last week’s Spiritual Life section, “Back and forth: A stirring game of theological tennis,” by Los Altos resident Mike Bushell.

“If we discovered tomorrow that there were no God, would the world grind to a halt?” asked Mike Bushell, who calls himself an agnostic. “Would you start acting differently? Would society break down into some amoral anarchy?”

According to Bushell, the answer is no. He wrote, “We have the capacity and the responsibility to act morally ... without abrogating that responsibility to a Supreme Being.”

Is he right? After all, the world is changing fast. The widespread rejection of a Bible-based conscience has accelerated that change, and our news media bombard us with evidence of today’s heartless cruelties and amoral lifestyles. In fact, the word “moral” is fast fading from our vocabulary.

Reporter Melanie Phillips describes the social decay in British cities: “What has been fueling all this is not poverty ... but moral collapse. What we have been experiencing is a complete breakdown of civilized behavior. .... It’s a world without any boundaries or rules.”

Especially moral boundaries.

Yet, as centuries come and go, history occasionally reveals sudden, momentous changes that transform cultures in ways that defy logic. One of these leaps began more than 400 years ago. Its transforming power brought light into the dark Middle Ages. It spread hope among people bound by fear, superstition and tyranny.

Historian Randall Roth summarizes what happened. His research showed little variation in the rate of human violence between the 14th and 16th centuries. “Then, in the 17th century, there is a very big, dramatic drop,” he wrote.

Why? How did people suddenly become less violent?

According to James A. Sharpe, historian at the University of York in England, “The great decline in homicide in the 17th century was not accompanied by a rise in property offense prosecutions but rather by their diminution.”

In other words, theft as well as murder plummeted in the 17th century.

People had actually changed their values. They had become more honest as well as peaceable. But again, why?

History teacher Tom Cohen helps solve the puzzle: “The Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation put a lot of emphasis on individual conscience. ... The conscience becomes the internal gyroscope. (It builds) personal self-control.”

By God’s grace, people in Northern Europe were suddenly free to print and read the Bible, live by faith and follow their conscience. A century later, the evangelistic zeal that spread God’s truth and love throughout Europe would cross lands and oceans to reach the earth’s most oppressed people.

We still reap the benefits of a world pacified by the spread of Christianity. But it may not last long, for we now face a reversal of the tide that brought truth and hope to a broken world.

We face a new era. Christianity is mocked and the Bible-trained conscience is being replaced by contrary guidelines that twist, scorn or deny God’s truth. Consequently, many now redefine the conscience to match new cultural values.

But the Lord is our strength and refuge!

“Thanks be to God who leads us in His triumph!”

Berit Kjos of Los Altos Hills is a member of Union Presbyterian Church.

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