Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Tom and Raghu poop on our parade

Emily, our stringer in Laguna Woods, just sent me an account of Raghu & Tom’s participation in Lake Forest’s “Fourth of July” parade. I decided to pass it on to you.

Evidently, Emily and her partner, Percy, were visiting with their friends, Rheneas and James, who live in Lake Forest, when they realized that the parade was about to commence. So they hotfooted on over to a shady spot alongside Lake Forest Drive.

Here’s Emily’s account of what happened next.
First off, we had no idea that Raghu P. Mathur and Thomas A. Fuentes would be participating in this parade. We figured that summer would give us a break from those guys, but no.

Rheneas and James explained that the annual parade is known for exactly two things: huge gaps between discrete parade participants and an apparent utter lack of standards regarding who may participate. Hell, they even let kids on BigWheels roll down the road, making their stupid hollow plastic roar.

There were plenty of dads pulling radio flyer wagons that held kids decked out in patriotic outfits. Lots of red, white, and blue; lots of whistles and shit. One family got confused, I guess, and offered a Cap’n Crunch display, complete with red, white, and blue cereal nuggets, which were fired into the crowds with foot-long Bangsite carbide cannons and what looked like a makeshift “Piccolo Pete” bazooka. One of those Piccolo Pete’s went awry and flew into the artificial lake and caught a fireworks barge on fire. (Fire Works Display Goes Awry in Lake Forest.) That was probably the highlight.

Dump trucks, trash trucks, flat bed trucks, and fire trucks meaninglessly rolled by. I mean, except for the fire truck, we see this stuff all the time. But the crowds were friendly and waved and shouted and belched at ‘em as they paraded past.

There was a squad of surly motorcyclists from Cook’s Corner, which is interesting, since Cook’s Corner isn’t in Lake Forest. Inexplicably, the Bellflower Marching Band (you'd think there would be a closer parade for those kids to march in) squalled through. There was a champeen baton twirler, scads of scout troops and sports teams, and even the El Toro High Home Coming King and Queen (oddly, that car held but two little girls in the back seat while the driver yelled out that the two sovereigns had failed to materialize).


There were mariachis (luckily, the Minutemen were a no-show), car clubs, and even dignitaries, including the mayor, the city council, John Campbell, Dick Ackerman, Chuck Devore, Tom Wilson and a token Democrat in a PT Cruiser with a bag over her head.

That crowd merged with “Lisa Haley & the Zydekats,” “Dow Jones & his Industrials” (boy, that brought back memories), and a solitary Benjamin Franklin Plumbing truck that, for all we know, was headed to a job.

The theme: “America on Wheels."

“Anything Goes” was more like it. But we were having fun.

Not having a program (Rheneas said they existed, but no one has ever actually seen one), I was caught up in the spirit of waving to and clapping for anyone and everyone who wandered by—cuz, without that, the parade is just stupid. Well, it would be stupider.

There was an endless parade of largely unexplained convertibles, and since I never know who is in them, I tried to make a point of reading the signage (if any) on the sides of the car doors.

Participant #76 was a fancy silver convertible that sported four arms thrashing akimbo and a sign announcing, "Your Community Colleges.” Underneath that it said "Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College.”

“Hey, that’s us!” I shouted.

But then, to my horror, I read “Tom Fuentes,” and my blood ran cold. My eyes quickly scanned upward and, sure enough, there sat Raghu and Tom, as cozy as pee in an iPod.

They were in short sleeve shirts, baseball caps, and shorts or casual pants. Can you imagine? Can you frickin’ imagine? Blecccch!

I was mortified, for I had by then whooped and hollered at that car for a good five seconds. The suddenness with which I ceased my whoopage was so noticeable that a pall of silence fell upon the immediate crowd, and then, apparently through some causal mechanism not unlike “the wave,” stunned silence rolled through the entire audience along Lake Forest Drive. For all I know, it just kept going until it hit the ocean, thereupon causing a tsunami of wonderment and fear that shall smash into Japan any moment now.

So mortified was I that I averted my gaze and stared for several moments at the grass beneath my feet. Later I wished I had followed the car to get a better description.

I just wasn't prepared.

I remember this: there was a pooper scooper squad that came close behind.

That seemed appropriate.

That’s the best I can do. Hope it’s good enough.

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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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