Thursday, June 15, 2006

Finger paint fiasco

An area of lawn at Irvine Valley College was supposed to evoke IVC students' “patriotism and piety.”

By Bud Towne

June 15, 2006

OK everybody, stick your hand in the paint and then smear it onto the paper!

That was the idea, anyway. Officials at Irvine Valley College sought to get a large crowd of students together yesterday in a bid to create the “world's largest finger painting.” The project is a part of a month-long campaign to draw attention to the campus by celebrating what some IVC administrators are calling “IVC’s awesome patriotism and piety.”

“Our students are way more patriotic and pious than students at other colleges,” chirped a high-ranking administrator. “So we decided to fingerpaint, since IVC is a school, sort of, and finger painting happens at school.”

“We had high hopes,” added a second administrator.

“Just think of it! We’d be in the Guinness Book of World Records! It would be the crowning glory of a long series of achievements at this fine college!”

But then, yesterday, no students showed up.

"It would have been great," said the first administrator, shaking his head. "I believe that world record holders get a free trip to the brewery."

"Eventually," said the other administrator, "we scraped up a few young scholars who were sleeping in the library.”

“But those guys had really small hands,” said the first administrator.

In the end, maintenance personnel were instructed to spray paint a large blue hand on the 100-yard wide piece of canvas on the lawn in front of the Student Services Center. But since it was the only image on the canvas, and it was smack dab in the middle, it looked tiny.

“It’s better than nothing,” said the first administrator.

“Yeah,” said the second.

For a related story, go to Smile...for the "World's Biggest Camera"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Shiny nuts and bolts

Time passes slowly up here in the mountains,
We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains,
Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream,
Time passes slowly when you're lost in a dream.

--Bob Dylan

Wow, what a great looking day! Took some pics this morning around my house. Check ‘em out!

On this fine day, only slightly diminished by news of Karl Rove’s good fortune, I drove to IVC to interview a prospective part-timer. He turned out to be just what we were lookin’ for, plus he’s a jazz musician, having tickled them ivories with the likes of Poncho Sanchez. Very cool.

I showed the Piano Man around, explaining about the general atmosphere of shitulosity. “Oh, I’m used to that,” he said. “I teach at Santa Ana.”


A few minutes later, I ran into a colleague who was bitchin’ and moanin’ about room A203, which is sort of attached to the Humanities and Languages Office. “Good Lord,” said the colleague, “sometimes I go in there on Monday and it’s up to here in trash!”

“Here” was his chest. I think he was exaggerating. But I’d heard this complaint about 203 before, from various others. Even the chest part.

He explained how often he had complained and how it didn’t seem to matter. “How hard is it to clean this room on some kinda schedule?” he roared. “Just how hard is that?! Why do I gotta keep callin’? Jeez!”

I got my camera and went in there. Though there wasn’t much trash, except some spillage from the trash container, the room did look generally crapulistic. Urinary even. The floor was Scuff City, the white boards were bird-shit grey, and the phrase “don’t give a shit” wafted lazily across the room.

Rebel Girl had called me a week or so ago to report that “they” were tearing down those shitty old temporaries that we’ve been carpin’ about on these pages over the last few months. Carp carp carp.

I told her I wasn’t about to drive way out to Irvine just to take a picture of that.

So, today, I checked it out. Sure enough, where the notorious “Shithouse” once stood, now there’s a big ugly empty lot, mostly dirt.

With trash. And chunks of asphalt. And big shiny nuts and bolts.

Oddly, I found a friend there, loitering peevishly. I walked up to her. She snickered and grumbled. Then she announced: “I think this is a hazard. They should rope this off.” She pointed to the nuts and bolts.

They didn’t look so bad to me, but what do I know?

“How come there are nuts and bolts?” she asked. She nudged a nut with her toe as though she were checking for signs of life.


I left. The sun was shining. There was a fine breeze. It was good.

People keep asking me, “So what’s happening?” But I dunno. Nobody who knows stuff tells me anything. Plus, I don’t wanna bother ‘em during summer.

One thing’s for sure, though. It’s during the summer when they try to get away with stuff.

Don’t be surprised if, when you come back, you find that they tore the college down and hauled everything away.

Except for those shiny nuts and bolts.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The greatest bad for the greatest number

I recently came across a fascinating and prescient old Mother Jones article, published in January of 1998. Its full title:
GOD'S VICE-REGENTS: the religious right has conquered the Republican Party in California--now they're bringing the same game plan to your state.”

What does this old article have to do with us? —Everything, I’m afraid.

In the article, Suzanne Herel wrote: 

A faction of right-wing Republicans who believe in governing by the Bible has already taken control of the California Republican Party. Now they're poised to duplicate that feat in 35 other states—and counting—under the banner of the new National Federation of Republican Assemblies [NFRA]. Their immediate goal: to cultivate a Reaganesque candidate who can win the presidency in 2000. Their long-term goal: an America ruled by the word of God.

George W isn't Reaganesque, but he sure is rightwinged, and religiously so. Herel continued:
The story begins a decade ago. Frustrated by the failure of Pat Robertson's 1988 presidential bid, some of his followers in Sacramento hatched a plan to take over the California Republican Party. First they packed the then-moderate California Republican Assembly (CRA), a mainstream caucus with a heavy hand in the state party's nominating process, with their Bible-minded colleagues. By 1990 they controlled the CRA, and since then the CRA's clout has helped the religious conservatives nominate and elect local candidates and—crucially—catapult true believers into state party leadership slots.

Ten years of dedication and planning later, the operation is a stunning success. Members of the Bible-waving CRA—which now bills itself as the "conservative conscience" of the state GOP—hold the top 13 elected spots in the party leadership, from state chair on down to second assistant secretary. In addition to the top posts, CRA members now make up roughly two-thirds of the California Republican Party's 1,700 voting members. That means they decide whom to nominate in the primaries—and whom to smear using their considerable resources of influence and money.

…But California was just the beginning. Flush with their success, the leaders of the CRA have exported their model of state party infiltration nationwide…Already 36 states have Republican Assemblies modeled on the CRA, and organizers expect conservative groups in the remaining 14 to organize their own affiliates by Easter. NFRA membership now stands at about 15,000, says NFRA president Stephen Frank, a former president of the CRA who advocates legislating by biblical principles…Says Frank: "Our goal is to organize grassroots support to win primaries for Constitutional conservatives, and elections for principled Republicans."

…The NFRA game plan is grassroots politicking, CRA style: "We need to win council seats, school boards, statehouse races, assembly races, and Congress, and the cumulative will be winning the presidency," Frank says. "We're doing it the old-fashioned way: community by community."

…Dominating the GOP nomination process, CRA has racked up dozens of big primary victories….CRA also claims credit for the winning ballot initiatives Prop. 187, which denied benefits to illegal immigrants, and Prop. 209, which dismantled affirmative action; and CRA now champions the English for Children initiative, which would end bilingual education, and the Payroll Protection for Unionized Workers initiative, which would abolish the automatic payroll checkoff for union dues.

…The CRA's principles support the right to bear arms, strict interpretation of the Constitution, limited government, and "fair" trade and sovereignty. They condemn the separation of church and state, abortion, affirmative action, women in combat, and homosexuality.

And members…advocate legislating by the Bible."Legislation should be biblical principles put into action," Frank says.

…[Former CRA Veep John] Stoos, in an article for the Chalcedon Report, a journal of the radical Christian Reconstructionist movement, goes so far as to call Christian politicians God's "vice-regents...those who believe in the Lordship of Christ and the dominion mandate."

The "dominion mandate," Stoos told the MoJo Wire, "is that individuals are impacted by salvation. You will want to obey God's commandments, and to the extent you do that, you start being a better person. ...If there are enough of these groups in a community, the community is different. If government has a rule of law that is biblical justice, you will have freedom and liberty."

As proof of his theory, he points to the repeal in the 1970s of laws prohibiting homosexual sex acts—biblical offenses. "The proof is in the pudding," said Stoos. "Since we lifted those laws, we've had the biggest epidemic in history."

• The chief funder of the Christian Reconstructionist movement was then—and still is—fabulously wealthy Orange Countian Howard Ahmanson, a pal of Tom Fuentes’.

• Howard Ahmanson also funds the Claremont Institute, on whose Board of Directors sits Tom Fuentes. Ahmanson’s wife and Fuentes’ boss sit on CI’s Board of Advisors.

• Once, in a column that discussed the phenomenon of firms giving campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, Fuentean crony Robert Novak quoted Fuentes as saying that, in Orange County, "we" call such contributors "whores." Mr. Fuentes is known also for his low esteem of so-called RINOs, Republican in Name Only, i.e., Republicans who are too willing to abandon core conservative principles. Fuentes sees himself as unyielding re core principles.

• Trustee Donald Wagner has been affiliated with Education Alliance, an organization funded (initially) by Howard Ahmanson and which originated 1998’s payroll protection initiative (an failed attempt to weaken the political clout of teachers unions). Wagner's 1998 trustee run was supported by EA.

• Wagner is founder of the local chapter of the Federalist Society, a far-right legal organization that is dedicated to a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The FS works closely with the Bush administration--e.g., in the selection of Supreme Court Justice nominees.

• When Tom Fuentes stepped down as Chair of the local GOP in 2004, during his "farewell remarks" (Fuentes' Farewell), he said:

Now, some have asked me what is it that gives me most joy in twenty years as Chairman of this County Party. It is a little thing. It is the fact that anywhere in this county, whenever Republicans gather, we begin our time together with prayer. You may pray in your way, and I may pray in mine, but, my friends, Republicans in this county always acknowledge a power higher than ourselves as did our Founding Fathers. And, the values, principles, and ideals that flow from the acknowledgement of the divinity, guides our conservative social agenda. It gives us pause to reflect on what is really important in life and society. It motivates us to defend causes that are so critical in the cultural war that today engulfs our nation and its society. Because you have allowed me to serve as your Chairman, I have been able to enjoy the opportunity to give encouragement to countless young activists to become involved in the leadership of our party. (My emphasis)


On Thursday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) meets in Washington.

According to the EAC website, “The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent bipartisan agency, is charged with disbursing payments to states for replacement of voting systems and election administration improvements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration. (My emphases.)

Elsewhere on the site, we are told that the EAC is a creature of 2002’s Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA), which seeks to, among other things, “establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems.”

It appears that HAVA came about as a result of the controversy surrounding the 2000 Presidential election. That makes sense.

As near as I can tell, however, lawmakers and those concerned with HAVA/EAC have proceeded on the assumption that improving the process of federal elections means moving toward electronic voting.


As you know, our own trustee Tom Fuentes is on the EAC’s Board of Advisors.


Last Thursday, the Commissioners testified before the U.S. House Committee on House Administration, saying:

Although EAC is amongst the smallest of independent Federal commissions, it may have the greatest impact on the largest number of persons. The changes that EAC has helped states and local governments make in Federal election administration will affect every voter in this country.

Maybe that's true.

At the risk of repeating myself, may I say “UH-freaking-OH!

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary