Saturday, August 11, 2007

Everyone forgets


I see that “our Chancellor” (as the district website prefers to refer to the fellow) has organized a “Chancellor’s Opening Session” (August 14) for insomniacs.

In the past, Raghu has occasionally taken the opportunity of the opening session to try to humanize himself. These efforts have always been entertaining, but not always in the way intended. Who could forget, for instance, Mathur's Spring ‘06 Tonight Show “Carnac” sendup, in which he played Carnac the Raghubansh! (No, I’m not making that up. See Chancellor’s Opening Session: stinkeroo.)

Unfortunately, Raghu and the SOCCCD Not-ready-to-get-fired Players laid an egg.

Whatever the truth may be (and I don’t know it), most of us imagined that there was hell to pay among available underlings after that fiasco. Thus, his effort at self-humanizing had the opposite effect, at least for some.

A year later, Mathur made another effort to “humanize” himself, this time by giving over the session to an Elvis impersonator! (See Opening Session.) He had discovered the OC Elvis, he said, while bar-hopping in Laguna Hills!

OK, I’ve got to admit, that was pretty successful—it was good cheesy fun. Still, many faculty grumbled that the Chancellor’s choice for entertainment was unseemly.

Plus, the thing that really struck me about the whole business was the factoid that Mathur visits bars.

* * * *

AS NEAR AS I CAN TELL, for the fall of ’07, Mathur has returned to the “safe and sane” opening session formula: presentations by the most prominent “experts” and “leaders" that can be scraped up. This formula often produces a snoozefest.

His own planned address sports a clichéd title: “Adding Wings to Students’ Dreams.” (When Raghu isn’t ruthless, he's New Agey.) Just imagine the somnolent blather contained therein:

“So, I tell you, as an instructor, go fort' and be a wing-adder! Always ask, how will my wings help deh students to fly? Assemble mutually-respectful wings and convey them to deh classroom, which are provided by deh taxpayers! Courteously attach them to student dreams with mutual understanding and respect for all! And remember: the world is flat but dreams have wings that fly to the universe and can fill de giant black hole in space!”

The Keynote Speakers are George Boggs and Rusty Kennedy.

Huh? Those names will be familiar to anyone who has followed the sorry SOCCCD saga—that is, our crummy chronicle since Raghu and his greedy and unscrupulous friends engineered control of the BOT in November of 1996.

These days, of course, Boggs is the President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). But he used to be with Accrediting commission (he was on WASC's board).

That's right: it turns out that Boggs was once a watchdog, snapping at our district’s heels.

Back in 1998, the Accrediting Commissioners expressed “concern” regarding our district. According to an April ’98 report prepared by Boggs (and Judith Watkins), the Commission “was concerned that the institutions in the District would not be able to demonstrate that they were in continuous compliance with the eligibility requirements and standards of accreditation.”

As I wrote at the time (see News roundup), as a consequence of that concern, the Commission arranged for a team to visit the District in order to verify its “progress report.” Things went seriously downhill from there.

Rusty Kennedy, too, has been among the legion of appalled SOCCCD observers. He has served with the Orange County Human Relations Commission for many years (he’s now its Exec Director), including some of the district’s zany Frogue years. (The OCHRC is supposed to be on the lookout for racial prejudice, intolerance, and the like. It's largely taxpayer funded.)

At one point in 1996, Frogue got himself invited to the Commission to explain and defend himself against charges of racism and Holocaust denial (made by a wide assortment of unassociated former students of his; he was a high school teacher). (See Frogue defends himself .) He showed up, yammered the way he does. Nothing came of it, as I recall.

(Recently, some OC conservatives have yet again called for an end to taxpayer funding of the OCHRC. Given their politics, surely Mathur's patrons on the BOT, especially Mr. Wagner, are inclined to join in that chorus—another reason to wonder why Mathur invited Kennedy, OCHRC's CEO, to the Opening Session. I mean, inviting Kennedy is a bit like inviting the head of the American Library Association, another "liberal busybody" organization.)

So, what does it mean that Mathur has invited these two to speak—and that they have accepted?

Probably nothing, I guess. They've probably forgotten who we are.

In time—efforts by this blog to the contrary notwithstanding—everyone forgets.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tiger-Ann, outdoors, on this lovely day

Tiger-Ann loves to go outdoors, but only when the weather's fine. (Click image.)

She's a bit of a brat, and so, outdoors, she must be kept on a leash. But we let her go wherever she wants, unless another cat is around.

Sometimes, she finds a nice spot, and she rests there for hours. We go outside a lot to check on her.

The Tige, stalking.

She spots a bird!

I call her "Weasel" or "Weasel Pie." But she's lots sweeter than any weasels I've ever heard of (pace weasels).

Fannie calls her "my daughter." You've gotta know Fannie to know how unremarkable that is.

Fannie often holds her Tiger-Ann and explains at length the difficulties that Fannie had "giving birth" to so strange a child. "But it all turned out well," she says.

Fannie's backyard, Tiger-Ann's fun zone.

It's a beautiful day here in Pacifica, CA. Lots of sun. The ocean is beautiful. The breeze is perfect.

Fannie's still on the mend at the hospital. She'll likely be there for a few more days, but she's doing very well. I visit and we play ukuleles together.

Tiger-Ann sure will be glad to see her mama.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Orange County: home of the Rat Bastard

AS YOU KNOW, former chair of the Orange County Republican Party and current SOCCCD trustee and Prayer Guy Tom Fuentes has an inveterate fondness for rat bastards, people like Mike “Hey baby” Carona, Tony "Baloney" Rackauckas, Mike “Republican mafia” Schroeder, et al.

One of Tom's rude rodent friends, it seems, is OC Treasurer Chriss Street. Since before Street was elected—elected thanks, in part, to Fuentes’ support—we’ve been hearing about his bold and decisive efforts to enrich himself while trustee of the bankrupt Fruehauf trucking company.

Well, now the Department of Justice has gotten into the act. Meanwhile, Street’s habit of feathering his nest with other people’s money persists.

From this morning's OC Register:

Feds investigate Orange County Treasurer: Treasurer Chriss Street faces federal criminal probe; also, his office remodel has cost nearly $1 million.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal probe into Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street's management of a bankrupt trucking company whose assets he allegedly used for a family vacation, gym memberships and Botox injections.

An Orange County Register investigation also found that Street has racked up nearly $1 million in costs for an elaborate remodel of his office, including a trading floor just outside Street's new glass-enclosed office. The Register has also learned that Street awarded a $23,000 no-bid county contract to a former colleague involved in the trucking company bankruptcy.

Street said he knew nothing about the federal investigation and called the allegations "preposterous." He also defended the office expenditures as lifting workers' morale and productivity and that the contract with a former colleague helped increase recovery collections.

The investigation, which was initially launched by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas last May, was turned over to federal prosecutors at their request, said Susan Schroeder, a Rackauckas spokeswoman.

…Last year, Street was sued for $7 million by a Los Angeles investment banker for allegedly wasting bankruptcy trust funds. Appointed to liquidate the assets of the bankrupt Fruehauf, Street instead paid himself $250,000 a year, gave himself bonuses worth $175,000 over seven years and billed $477,000 in expenses, said Daniel Harrow, Street's successor as trustee who filed the lawsuit. The expenses included a family vacation to Spain, cosmetic services and gym memberships, the lawsuit says.

Street is mirroring those spending habits in his new job, already racking up $950,754 in construction and furniture costs for an extensive remodel of his department that, when finished, is expected cost more than $1 million. So far, he's built a trading floor for ten people that's furnished with two 52-inch flat-screen TVs. He's also added floor-to-ceiling windows in his glassed-enclosed office, spent more than $45,000 on Herman Miller chairs for employees and built a "Treasurer's Café" where workers can use Eames tables and chairs. A third flat-screen TV for a conference room cost $7,802….
Re the uniquely pious Mr. Tom Fuentes, see also:
Tom’s crowd
Six Degrees of Fuentes Nation
Fuentes: shredded evidence?
“Kill It and Grill It”—Fuentian titles
Trustee Fuentes’ Spanish Adventure
See also Gustavo Arellano’s open letter to Tom Fuentes

Pedro Point, Pacifica, CA, 7:00 p.m. this evening.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A beautiful day at the city by the bay

THESE PHOTOS were taken today, at about 5:00 p.m., from Lincoln Park, in the great city of San Francisco.

Lincoln Park is at the northwest tip of the city. (Click on photos to make them LARGER.)

This photo, and the next two, look west, more or less. Many of the rest look north, across the strait, to the Marin headlands.

That's the famous "Cliff House" in the middle, in the background. The "Sutro baths" were built here before 1900. The ruins are way cool.

Couldn't see the Farallon Islands today. Dang! They're 27 miles out there. Part of San Francisco County.

For an extremely cool 360 shot of the Golden Gate (from the Marin side), go to Golden Gate 360.

There's the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fannie's doing great. She says, "Hey."

A special hello--and my love--to Mopi!

Autonomy of higher education profoundly compromised?

Check out an interview with McMaster University Professor Henry A. Giroux in this morning’s Inside Higher Ed. Giroux is the author of The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex. As the title makes plain, Giroux believes that President Eisenhower’s famous warning about the “military-industrial complex” applies also to the Academy.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the interview:

Q: You start your book with President Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex. Why was academe left out and how does the warning apply to higher education?
A: Why the academy was left out of Eisenhower’s original speech is a matter of open speculation, but it has been argued that some of Eisenhower’s advisors felt that including the term in the original formulation would have unduly besmirched the sanctity of higher education. And more importantly, it would have targeted and discredited higher education at the Ivy League schools, which played a major role in educating the rich and powerful classes with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to assume leadership in business and government. At the same time, Eisenhower clearly recognized that the arms industry, the defense establishment, and their Congressional supporters represented a combination of unwarranted power and influence whose existence presented a danger to the university in its capacity as “a fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery.”

He was particularly concerned about the influence the military-industrial-academic complex would have on the autonomy of research, teaching, and a culture of learning conducive to educating an informed and critical citizenry. In light of the growing militarization and corporatization of American society, the transition in the last 30 years of the United States from a liberal-welfare state to a warfare state, it is clear that the semi-autonomous nature of higher education has been more profoundly compromised, especially with the increasing withdrawal of state and federal funding for higher education.

I began with Eisenhower’s speech in the book in order to underscore that at least historically there was a deep concern about the autonomy of the university and the necessity for it to have some remove from the influence of military and corporate power. Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial-academic complex strikes me as more worrisome today than when it was delivered in 1961. While some critics might believe that higher education is a hotbed of left-wing radicalism and that college campuses are “intellectually akin to North Korea,” as the notable syndicated columnist George Will once quipped, the fact is that the greatest threat faced by higher education is its annexation by the military-industrial complex and its attack by a well funded group of right wing ideologues and foundations, the result being a fundamental change in the university’s relationship with the larger society that necessarily signals a crisis in democracy and the critical educational foundation upon which it rests….

Monday, August 6, 2007

For mopi

In and around San Francisco, Pacifica.

There are some great people in this world. I know some of 'em. I'm happy.

Be happy, too.

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