Saturday, August 9, 2008

The trustee races

I visited the County Registrar of Voters website this morning to find out who’s running for a seat on the board in our district:

Trustee Area 1
(Irvine, etc.)

CAROLYN INMON, Retired College Professor
Candidate Statement Issued:7/31/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/7/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/31/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/7/2008

(Inmon is the faculty union’s candidate going up against Dave Lang. Lang is a strong supporter of Chancellor Mathur.)


Candidate Statement Issued:7/15/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/6/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/15/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/6/2008

(Lang, of course, is the Benedict Arnold of SOCCCD. Several years ago, horrifying long-time faculty supporters, he suddenly became Mathur’s greatest champion, after Tom Fuentes. On the Red County blog, Lang is described as Tom Fuentes’ “ally.”)

Trustee Area 3 (Laguna Beach, etc.)

ARLENE GREER, Businesswoman
Candidate Statement Issued:8/5/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/8/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:8/5/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/8/2008

(Near as I can tell, Greer is somewhat involved in Newport Beach politics. She’s interested in environmental or “green” issues. I think she’s the president of a NB home-owners association. Elsewhere, she seems to call herself a “homemaker.”)

WILLIAM (BILL) JAY, Governing Board Member, SOCCCD
Candidate Statement Issued:7/25/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/7/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/25/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/7/2008

(Bill has been a solid supporter of the faculty. He’s supported by the faculty union.)

RANDALL S. JOHNSON, Real Estate Investor
Candidate Statement Issued:7/29/2008
Candidate Statement Filed: NOT FILED?
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/29/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed: NOT FILED?

(I’m having trouble finding out much about this guy. In Red County, he’s described as a “new face.” Hmmm. The question is: is he a member of "Team Fuentes"? Dunno.)

Trustee Area 6 (Lake Forest, etc.)

BOB BLISS, Retired College Professor

Candidate Statement Issued:7/23/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/5/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/23/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/5/2008

(Bliss taught at Saddleback College for many years. An author. Supported by the faculty union.)

Candidate Statement Issued:7/17/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/6/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/17/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/6/2008

(An open enemy of faculty. Somewhat of a conspiracy nut re accreditation.)

Trustee Area 7 (Mission Viejo, etc.)

CARL CHRISTENSEN, Retired Educator

Candidate Statement Issued:7/28/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:7/28/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/28/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:7/28/2008

(Christensen, a retired Saddleback College professor, has appeared at board meetings, complaining about the poverty of history courses in some areas at SC. His priorities seem, well, odd.)

MO ENTEZAMPOUR, College Professor/Administrator
Candidate Statement Issued: NONE?
Candidate Statement Filed: NONE?
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:8/8/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/8/2008

(This fellow has been an adjunct at IVC. He appears to be a division dean at Cypress College.)

Candidate Statement Issued:7/15/2008
Candidate Statement Filed:8/6/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Issued:7/15/2008
Declaration of Candidacy Filed:8/6/2008

(Williams is supported by the faculty union.)

The “candidate statement” links at the county site appear not to be working. I'll provide the statements when I can.

Debating the merits of Tom Fuentes in the blogosphere

On Monday, “tylerh” posted about the SOCCCD trustee races on the popular “Red County” blog (District races). (See my Red County whistles in the dark.)

(You know about local political blogs, right? In these parts, Red County is the most popular conservative blog.)

Tylerh, a denizen of the Red County's blogpen, referred to “Tom Fuentes' efforts to maintain fiscal sanity,” and I took him to task for that. This generated a fair among of back-and-forth between Tylerh and me and between others and me. The former was civil and reasonable. The latter: not so much.

At one point, someone who calls himself “Amused,” entirely ignoring my substantive points, accused me of fallacy. He’s mistaken, of course. I just posted a response to that, but I see that it does not yet appear. Hmmm.

Check out the thread here.

Retired Saddleback College professor Carl Christensen's contributions to the "debate" are amusing. Remember him? Months ago, he addressed the board complaining about a lack of certain history courses at Saddleback College. He's running against Williams, who has union backing. (His blog.)

Chris Emami has just posted (on Red County) concerning the county's college trustee races.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Philosophical reflections

I shall take the unusual step of advertising for my new blog, Contra PalaVerities. My posts there tend to be more philosophical. They're sure to piss you off. Some recent posts:

Manifest falsity: why do we embrace stupid ideas? Pursuing Aristotle's cool view about the moral self. Dissing the "self-esteem" philosophy. Sometimes, you can be blamed for something even though you literally couldn't have done otherwise!

Acting just like a vicious human (and free will): How come we call heinous evil-doers "animals"? Recent evidence that our brains "decide" before we consciously decide. Does Ralph the robot have free will? Can we make sense of moral responsibility?

Human folly is so very entertaining: poor thinking about "cause and effect" is common. Why do people believe that "stretching" is important in exercise? Poor causal thinking?

The lives of moral soldiers: a defense of Amanda Beard, the naked swimmer gal on the PETA poster. On how a commitment to defend animals is not a matter of being "pure." (This one's my favorite of the bunch.)

What is the matter with us?

As you know, on the 16th—about a week from now—Barack Obama and John McCain will be in town to have “civil” conversations with Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren.

But three days earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney will also be in town. According to Red County’s “Tomahawk,” Cheney will be “headlining” a reception for Ken Calvert (probably at San Clemente’s Casa Pacifica, Nixon’s “Western Whitehouse”). (VP Cheney Headlining Reception for Ken Calvert.)

Tomahawk obviously likes Cheney. He explains that “This is a rare opportunity for Republicans to see our outgoing Vice President again as this might be his last visit to Southern California.”

He also explains that the contact person for this event is McCain’s OC fundraiser. Tomahawk doesn’t mention the venue “for security reasons.”

How very strange. A secretive fundraiser? A pro-torture “headliner”?

No doubt you are aware that Cheney is an unusual Vice President. Among the many journalists who have explored Cheney’s unusually powerful role—and dark deeds—is the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who recently published The Dark Side.

Publisher’s Weekly describes the book:

Fighting with memos and legal briefs, Mayer reports, hard-liners led by Dick Cheney, his aide David Addingtion and then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected any constraints on the treatment of prisoners or limitations on presidential power in fighting terrorism, while less militant administration lawyers invoked the Constitution and international law to oppose their initiatives. As a counterpoint to the wrangling over the definition of torture and the Geneva Conventions, the author looks at the use of techniques like waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation against prisoners by the American military and CIA; her chilling account compellingly argues that this "enhanced interrogation" regimen constitutes torture….

Yesterday, on the OC Reg’s “Total Buzz,” Norberto Santana, Jr. noted the odd event (Dick Cheney on the hunt for OC dollars). Why odd? Because Cheney is among the most unpopular men in the universe. Cheney is less popular even than the President.

And no wonder.

Santana was curious about this, so he called the event’s contact person, Stacy Davis. The moment he mentioned that he’s a reporter, Stacy became silent. She transferred him to Julie. Julie told him nothing; she said that he’d have to “call the White House.”

Let’s just say he was having trouble getting any info about this Republican fundraiser.

Eventually, Santana called local Republican activist Adam Probolsky.

Probolsky has several connections with Irvine Valley College and the district. He helped orchestrate and stage Tom Fuentes’ coronation as Steve Frogue’s replacement as trustee back in July of 2000. Remember that? He was on the board of IVC’s Foundation. He’s been known to take classes at IVC. Maybe even philosophy classes. (Now why would he do that?) He’s also known as a guy who likes to cruise around Irvine pretending to be a cop; he was one of Mike Carona’s junior (reserve) deputies.

Naturally, Probolsky was very excited about the Veep visitation:

“From a fundraising perspective, he’s a freakin’ rockstar,” Probolsky told me. “He will bring in massive amounts.” ¶ “Just take a picture of the man. A super successful businessman. Decades and decades of high level government service. And by all accounts, a political strategist in his own right,” he said. ¶ “He’s a gun-toting, cool Republican,” said Probolsky, who was adamant about not confirming anything at all to do with Cheney’s Orange County visit. ¶ “For a guy like McCain, who’s trying to be the un-Bush…he may present a problem. But that’s on a national level. In Orange County, in Riverside, Dick Cheney is a huge draw.”

I know a lot of people, including a lot of conservatives. Often, these conservatives seem like nice people. They seem decent, intelligent.

But some of them, especially here in OC, love Dick Cheney. I just don’t understand that. Cheney obviously gives not a shit about the Constitution. Cheney has made us a country that tortures people (call it what you like). Cheney urged our invasion of Iraq, an adventure that has led to the deaths and horrible injuries of tens of thousands—likely hundreds of thousands—of innocent people. He did so long before 9-11.

I think that, years from now, we’ll look back at this time and wonder what was the matter with us. Here we have a man who flouted the law and waged war dishonestly, ruthlessly, cruelly—making sure that his pals got rich along the way. Just as the country shakes off its disastrous stupefaction and begins to see this man for what he is, he sneaks into Orange County to meet with a group of rich locals who just love him over in Richard Nixon's old digs.

And we barely notice.

Jane Mayer on legality, morality & efficacy of torture:

See also
Jane Mayer discusses the politics of TV's 24

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's the old Saddleback Church shuffle

I’ve been trying to get tickets for the August 16 “Civil Forum” at Saddleback Church here in Lake Forest. That’s the event that will bring JOHN MCCAIN and BARACK OBAMA together for one night of bliss. Well, no, but they'll be questioned by "global strategist and philanthropist" Pastor Rick Warren—you know, the guy who's on Larry King.

This is very cool, I figure. And it’s right here in ridiculous Lake Forest! (The town used to be called "El Toro." Everybody just called it El Boro.)

Last week, the OC Register indicated that, supposedly, tickets would be made available (by the Church) within days, but that date kept getting pushed back. Church websites kept saying that an announcement would be made soon.


But I want to go to this thing, so I kept pressing. When I called the Saddleback “forum” number, I was told that the info I need is on But when I went to, up popped a little ad (for the event) that said, “for more info visit”

OK, so I went there, and up popped another event ad plus some stuff off to the right. A blue button announced that tickets would be available at date X. Well, that date's kept changing.

So I clicked on the “general event information” blue button. That opened up to something that advised me to call the original phone number!

I was getting the old runaround. And from a church!

Today, announces that tickets will be available on the 13th, just three days prior to the event. Good grief. Meanwhile, there’ve been some rumblings about how Pastor Rick “Superstar” Warren wants his flock there for the event and maybe there wouldn’t be much room for non-church riff-raff.

That’s me. Things aren't looking good.

So I figured, what the hell? I’ll just request “Media Credentials”! I’m media. Sort of. So I did that, right there on (yet another blue button).

So if, starting tomorrow, you find that Dissent the Blog has gotten awfully quiet, start looking for me. Try Egypt.

I don’t trust that Secret Service a bit. Not a bit.

UPDATE: Someone's comment (below) includes what seems to be an email sent by the Saddleback Church to members regarding tickets for the event. (Sent August 6.)

The email notes that “Our congregation has over 100,000 attenders and members, but we only have about 5,000 seats available!” Evidently, the church solicited ideas and recommendations regarding how to distribute tickets from members.

The upshot: tickets will be distributed via five “ticket drawings.” One drawing is for free seats (presumably poor seating). The other drawings are for tickets that go for $500, $1000, and $2000.

Members are urged to apply by email. The deadline was this morning at 8.

If this email is genuine (I think it is), it seems unlikely that anyone who is not a member of the church can get tickets, unless the church has decided to reserve some tickets for nonmembers. Don’t know.

Signs of the coming UHPAWKOLIPS

This morning’s Inside Higher Ed reports that a British university lecturer has thrown in the towel on correcting student spelling. In an essay, he writes,“Either we go on beating ourselves and our students up over this problem, or we simply give everyone a break and accept these variant spellings as such.”

I predict that the next thing to go is the "no drooling" rule.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mountain jackass

OK, this really pisses me off. As you may know, nearby Whiting Ranch is a lovely wilderness area, right up against suburbia. It was also the scene of two mountain lion attacks (one lion, two victims) four years ago. Well, in today’s LA Times (Mountain lion attacks Orange County hiker) we learn that some IDIOT came across a female lion and her three cubs in the park and walked over to pet a cub. Naturally, mom lunged at the jackass, scratching him. He wasn’t badly hurt.

"[The jackass] said [the cubs] seemed so cute and cuddly and passive," [Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim] Amormino said. ¶ When he went to pet one of the cubs, the mother lunged at him — and then ran off.

Here’s the worst part. Officials are searching for the cougars. Why?

“[M]ountain lions that have contact with humans ‘are generally put down’."

On the other hand, “Amormino said he has contacted a San Diego wildlife sanctuary that has agreed to take the lion and her cubs if they can be tranquilized and caught.”

MOUNTAIN JACKASS, PART 2: it is beginning to look like today’s “mountain lion” attack never happened. The Times reports that officials found no evidence of the presence of mountain lions in the vicinity of the alleged "attack."

The OC Reg identifies the “victim” as “Kevin Lassiter, a 47-year-old man from Foothill Ranch...After reviewing a picture of the wound, a wildlife forensic pathologist with the Department of Fish and Game determined that the wound on the man's arm was likely not caused by a mountain lion."

Patti Smith rules; Captain Adjunct remembers; Mathur contributes

In this morning's New York Times, Manohla Dargis reviews—and thoroughly enjoys—a new film about the great Patti Smith: Patti Smith: Dream of Life.

Sounds like a must-see!

Meanwhile, over at the OC Register’s College Life blog (Summer Reading (1971)), Captain Adjunct, aka Red Emma, aka Andrew Tonkovich reminisces about childhood trips to the public library, endless entertaining explorations of hagiography—all against a backdrop of bombs dropped on kids far away. And yet, says the Captain, it was the Golden Age of public education.

Today, I came across a record of Chancellor Raghu Mathur’s political contributions. As you know, some observers object to the "politicization" of the SOCCCD by Mathur and the Board. For instance, our board, led by Don Wagner, acted to cease the colleges' memberships in the American Library Association, since, in their judgment, the organization is a bunch of "liberal busybodies." A few years ago, trustee Tom Fuentes lead the board in denying approval of a study abroad trip to Spain on the grounds that Spain had "abandoned" our soldiers by pulling its troops out of Iraq. (The action was later reversed, over Fuentes and Wagner's objections.)

It is commonly supposed that chancellors should advise trustees and steer them clear of unnecessary controversy and politics. Despite his extraordinary $300K salary, Mathur does not lead the board at all, repeatedly standing by mute as the board stirs up anger and conflict. Further, he has allowed the board to conduct itself in a manner that has now threatened the continued accreditation of our two colleges.

If these trustees were genuinely "fiscally conservative," they'd fire Mathur's ass for the lousy job he's done all these years. No doubt, urged on by so-called "conservative" Tom Fuentes, they'll give him a raise instead.

Evidently, Mathur's not given much political money lately. According to NewsMeat, in April of 2006, the fellow gave $500 to Bill Morrow (House). He did the same the previous December.

Back in December of 1991, he gave $250 to Senate candidate John F. Seymour.

Naturally, both candidates are Republicans. Mathur's a Republican. All of the trustees are Republicans. Their pal Mike Carona—they love to bring that guy around—is a Republican too. Wall-to-wall Republicans. Zero clue.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Someone explain why this isn’t evidence that John McCain is addled?

Freakin' Sturgis?

Is he, well, addled?

Sometimes, he seems unable to utter sentences; then, when he finally gets them out, they make no sense: “My friends, we need a Commander in Chief who’ll (end?) the war in Iraq. We’ll win it the right way, and that’s by winning it.”

We'll win it by winning it. That’s just great.

(The first 2 minutes):

Do you know what this Sturgis motorcycle thing is like? Do you have any idea?

Cindy should do what? What’s the matter with the poor fellow?

(The first minute and a half):

We've experienced nearly 8 years of the ignorant LOUT presidency. Please don't tell me that we're gonna exchange that for a (possibly) addled OLD COOT presidency!?

Lie detector

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind is making the rounds, promoting his new book, The Way of the World. In it, among other things, he describes how a desperate Bush administration manufactured evidence to support its worrisome theses about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

According to the A.P. (White House denies fake Iraq-al-Qaida link letter),

"The White House had concocted a fake letter from [director of Iraqi intelligence] Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001," Suskind wrote. "It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al-Qaida, something the vice president's office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link."

Denying the report, White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said, "The notion that the White House directed anyone to forge a letter from Habbush to Saddam Hussein is absurd."

Absurd? Don't think so.

Here's Suskind on the Today show earlier this morning:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Red County whistles in the dark

TODAY, on the popular Red County (OC) blog, Tyler H (one of RC’s stable of conservative bloggers) reports on the upcoming SOCCCD trustee races.

According to Tyler, “the Tom Fuentes' [sic] led majority seems well-positioned to deliver another victory this year.” He is referring, I suppose, to the block comprising Fuentes, Don Wagner, John Williams—and Dave Lang.

No doubt Don Wagner, the president of the board, will be pleased to hear that Tom is the leader.

C’mon Don. Don’t that piss you off? Not even a little?

Tyler refers to “Tom Fuentes ally and Area #1 Trustee David Lang.” It pleases me to have Lang’s sympathies stated so clearly and publicly. For many years, Lang had strong faculty support (especially at Irvine Valley College), owing to his distaste for board majority toady (President, then Chancellor) Raghu P. Mathur. But then visions of "OC Treasurer" danced in Dave's head—no doubt he figured that Fuentes would be helpful there—and so he suddenly became Mathur's big supporter. Why? Cuz Fuentes just loves Mathur. Why? Cuz Mathur will do anything Fuentes tells him to do.

Lang is the Benedict Arnold of the SOCCCD. We’ll never forget you, Dave.

Tyler thinks that, judging by Lang’s challenger’s (viz., Carolyn Inmon’s) recent political history, he is likely to hold onto his seat.

Incumbent Bill Jay (area 3: Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach and Dana Point) is seeking reelection. According to Tyler, he faces real estate investor Randall Johnson. Tyler tags Jay as the enemy, cuz he's a unionist:

Bill Jay has not been supportive of Tom Fuente's [sic] efforts to maintain fiscal sanity and is regarded as a "Union Guy", so it is unsurprising that the pro-Faculty website Save the socccd is supporting Bill Jay. Randell Johnson is a new face.

Fiscal sanity? Like our huge problem complying with the 50% law, caused by Fuentes’ man Mathur? Like the ATEP black hole, promoted by Fuentes' man Mathur?

And what about Accredular sanity? Thanks to the Fuentes board and their toady Mathur, for the first time in the district's history, its two colleges face the possibility of losing their accreditation (in January). The Accreds are not impressed with endless trustee micromanagement and the pall of despair created mostly by the ruthless and conniving Mathur.

BTW: gosh, Tyler, thanks for the mention. I didn’t think anybody read that little website (Save the SOCCCD). As soon as I created it several months ago, I couldn’t get anybody in the union leadership to visit it (I wanted feedback so that it would be OK with the PAC). I pretty much had to abandon it.

Well, at least this Tyler fella reads it.

Tyler seems wary of trustee John Williams, who is the incumbent in area 7 (Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita):

Area 7 … is the most curious race. Sixteen-year incumbent John Williams faces "Retired Educator" Carl Christensen. Tom Fuentes ally … Don Wagner considers John Williams a solid Republican, a fiscal conservative, and a helpful ally on the board. However the Save the SOCCCD website is also currently endorsing John Williams. Perhaps Carl Christensen is so focused on his favorite issue (he is a history teacher who recently spoke to the board about the need for more history classes) that he hasn't noticed that both opposing factions are supporting his opponent?


On Friday, Red County’s Jubal (aka Matt Cunningham) posted about Tom Fuentes’ race against Bob Bliss (Tom Fuentes' Community College Re-Election Campaign Off To Powerful Start).

Fuentes, said Jubal, is “off to a powerful start” in his re-election efforts. The union, says the Jube, “might as well save their money, because Tom Fuentes will run over Bliss like a freight train.”

How come?

Well, first, Fuentes is the incumbent. Second, Fuentes has made lots of friends over the years, and they’ll pony up some big money. Then there’s Tom’s impressive list of endorsements (Jubal presents a list of 81—the usual suspects).

Jubal speculates that this is a case of a union leadership supporting candidates it knows will lose—to placate the rank and file.

Well, we’ll just see about that.

P.S.: At Red County, I've commented on both the Tyler and Jubal posts, indicating to each writer the error of his ways! I do hope they'll try to respond. Probably not. We're small potatoes.

Indications of a willingness to kick academic butt

Recently, I attended a meeting in which faculty and others discussed Saddleback College’s accreditation difficulty. The Accreds had sent the college a letter in February essentially requiring the college to “address” long-standing recommendations (in a report due Oct. 15)—or else.

Clearly, one reason the Accreds’ latest threat has not inspired much reaction in some is the conviction that the Accreds are all bark and no bite. Given their history, that view is understandable. The SOCCCD’s two colleges have been dinged for trustee micromanagement and a “plague of despair” for years. (Hell, they were carping about that ten years ago!) We’re still living under such dingage. And we’re still accredited.

But things change. At the meeting, I explained the special circumstances that we are now in: some time ago, the Dept. of Education spanked the Accrediting agency (ACCJC/WASC) hard for failing to enforce its own rules—for being namby-pamby. Prima facie, this gives the Accreds a motive to finally kick some academic butt.

It’s a bit more complex than that—we’ve reported on the details here on this blog for quite some time—but, essentially, we’d be taking a hell of a chance ignoring or discounting the Accred’s threat to pull the colleges' tickets. (Both of our colleges got such letters.)

Well now hear this. Our old pal Jeff Gottlieb over at the Times is reporting on some Accred butt-kickage in LA (Los Angeles Southwest College is put on probation).

According to Jeff, “Los Angeles Southwest College has been placed on probation by the regional accrediting agency, an action local college officials call unwarranted.”

Here’s the kicker. The president of Southwest asserts that “It's completely unprecedented to put a college on probation where there was no previous indication the college was in trouble….”

He notes, reports Jeff, that “probation was primarily given to colleges that failed to respond to accreditors' recommendations from previous visits.” That’s not Southwest’s situation.

So, here’s evidence that things have changed in Accredville re butt-kickage. Take note.

Another fine example of Mathur's leadership

I KEEP trying to ignore it, but no one will let me.

Many citizens of our little district community were amazed last Thursday when Chancellor Raghu Mathur spammed us with Governor Schwarzenegger’s infamous executive order in response to the state budget impasse. You know the one. According to the AP:

Schwarzenegger's order…eliminated 10,300 seasonal, contract and part-time positions. It also ordered that up to 200,000 permanent, full-time state workers will receive the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour in their paychecks until the budget is passed. (Associated Press.)

The order included a “request” that, among others, state college employees be included in the action:

IT IS FURTHER REQUESTED that other entities of State government not under my direct executive authority, including … the University of California, the California State University, [and] California Community Colleges … assist in the implementation of this Order and implement similar mitigation measures that will help to preserve the State’s cash supply during this budget impasse.

Naturally, that line was in the email Mathur sent to district employees. Mathur offered no explanation of what the Governor's order means for our district and its employees. He allowed us to think that, apparently, we too would be living on minimum wage. Good grief!

Then, 77 minutes later, came a second Mathur missive, which said:

We would like to offer clarification of the Governor’s executive order to address our state’s budget crisis. This information was forwarded to inform employees of the dire nature of the crisis and how it will affect some state employees.

Please be assured that employees of the South Orange County Community College District will receive their payroll checks. There are no plans to terminate temporary/hourly employees at this time.

Let us extend our support during this difficult period to the families affected by the Governorʼs executive order.

Raghu P. Mathur, Ed.D

Oh. So he forwarded the Governor’s order to “inform” us of the “dire nature of the crisis and how it will affect some state employees.” I guess he figured we wouldn’t understand the seriousness of the situation unless we went through 77 minutes of supposing that it would affect us directly.

Thanks, dad. You sure are tough on us kids. In fact, you’re solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

But that’s because you care.

Sam Kinison in "Back to School": he really seems to care

This morning’s Inside Higher Ed reports on a national survey of college administrators:
A majority (60 percent) believe that faculty members should play a bigger role in running campuses, with most of the rest happy with the status quo and only a few believing that professors should play less of a role. But while seeking more of a faculty role, the administrators share a highly critical view of faculty knowledge and perspective when it comes to campus decision making, with a broad consensus finding professors focused far too much on their own issues or departmental issues, and lacking either the knowledge or perspective to think about institutions as a whole and to promote change.
Sounds about right.

Just in case you required proof that the New York Times' resident postmodern academic curmudgeon, Stanley Fish, is an asshole, read his latest piece: I Am, Therefore I Pollute. Read the reader comments too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Oh great. California cancer chips.


Friday, our pal Marla Jo Fisher wrote about the many graduates of local vocational schools who find that their diplomas, though costly, profiteth them nothing (Students wanted jobs, but got debt instead).

Marla informs us that “Each year, some 400,000 students are enrolled in the state's for-profit schools. At last count, 160 of such schools were operating in Orange County.”



This morning’s New York Times discusses the saga of the making of “What We Do Is Secret,” a movie about the 70’s Hollywood punk band The Germs (A Phoenix of a Film Exhumes a Punk Prince).

Germs' singer Darby Crash committed suicide in 1980, all according to plan:

In 1975, at the age of 17, he devised a five-year plan for achieving immortality: form a band, collect a following, release one album, then commit suicide. … On the night of Dec. 7, 1980, Crash injected a lethal dose of heroin and lay down in his leather jacket.

It was a good plan. Unfortunately, John Lennon died the next day and so, today, only fans of punk remember the Darbster.


Also in today’s Times—a terrific review of a book that recounts author Ammon Shea's reading of the entire Oxford English Dictionary (From A to Zyxt):

Shea is well equipped for the task he has set himself. He owns about a thousand dictionaries, which he keeps on shelves in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend, Alix, who teaches psychology courses at Barnard. Some of the dictionaries he bought from a book dealer named Madeline, who lives in a loft in Lower Manhattan. Madeline owns 20,000 dictionaries. She taught Shea, he says, “the ineffable joy that can be had in pursuing the absurd.”

Amazingly, Shea’s word odyssey sounds interesting. The book is divided into chapters, each one a letter in the dictionary, Chapter A to Chapter Z:

Months in, Shea arrives—back-aching, crabby, page-blind—at Chapter N. “Some days I feel as if I do not actually speak the English language,” he writes, his verbal cortex overflowing. “It is,” he observes, “like trying to remember all the trees one sees through the window of a train.” Once he stares for a while, amazed, at the word glove. “I find myself wondering why I’ve never seen this odd term that describes such a common article of clothing.”

I recall playing “Boggle,” a word game, with my brother Ray. I claimed the word “four” (pronounced, it seems, to rhyme with “Bauer”). Ray looked at me. “That’s not a word,” he declared. I wasn't sure. We looked it up in a dictionary.

Soon, we burst out laughing. The Bauers don't need no stinkin' dictionary reading marathon to manage to look at an utterly familiar word and to not recognize it!


Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle informs us that “Frito-Lay and two other potato chip companies have agreed to reduce the levels of a cancer-causing chemical in their products in a settlement of a state lawsuit….” Or so said California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Evidently, the culprit is something called acrylamide. The stuff is “used industrially for treating sewage….” It is present in lots of fried potato products:

Besides Frito-Lay, which sells most of the potato chips in California, the other companies agreeing to reduce acrylamide levels are Kettle Foods, maker of Kettle Chips, and Lance Inc., maker of Cape Cod Chips, Brown's office said. In another settlement last week, Heinz agreed to cut in half the acrylamide levels in Ore-Ida frozen french fries and tater tots and pay $600,000 in penalties and costs, the state said. … Procter & Gamble agreed in January to reduce acrylamide by 50 percent in Pringles potato chips. McDonald's, KFC, Wendy's and Burger King agreed last year to post warnings about acrylamide in chips and fries.

Nobody knew it was in these chips until a few years ago.

Good grief.


On Friday, physicist Bob Park noted that mass murderer Radovan Karadzic was finally arrested after 13 years.

How, Bob asks, could the fellow support himself in hiding all this time? Says Bob,

"No problem. He practiced alternative medicine, which requires little more than a lack of scruples. He was fully qualified."

TUBES: "White Punks On Dope" (circa 1977)

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