Saturday, July 25, 2009

Great pups, a burning motorcycle, 1978

I've been scanning and archiving old family photos.

Found some pics of a trip I took with Attila and Ildico to the top of Santiago Peak in 1978. Drove my old '66 Bug. That thing could go anywhere.

They sure were great pups.

Here's a shot (click on the photo to enlarge it; look at the center) of my little brother Ray and me. Ray had just bought himself an old motorcycle, and he had just got it to start. Boy was he happy. He road it around for a while. Then he asked me if I wanted to take a spin.

So I did. [Actually, I now think the guy to the left is my other little bro, Ron.]

I had ridden the thing for maybe two minutes when I heard Ray screaming. I couldn't tell what he was saying, though, later, I learned that it was, "You're on fire!"

I soon figured that out for myself. Somehow, the thing had caught fire, and it didn't look good. I laid it down.

Almost immediately, it was engulfed in flames. My mother had heard Ray screaming (imagine that) and managed to call the fire department. Apparently, she was convinced that someone was actually on fire.

The fire department showed up after a while. By then, an oak tree had caught fire. But they got it out. There was nothing left of Ray's motorcycle. I was burned, but not badly. I think I've got a scar on my hand from that day. Maybe.

I do believe that this episode set my mom back some. Poor thing.

There were many such episodes, where my brother Ray was concerned.

As I recall, Ray tried to blame me for the incident. That was typical of him.

Over the subsequent years, I often lent my bro money. I knew I'd never see any of it again.

The last time I saw him was the night I picked him up from county jail. It was maybe 2 or 3 in the morning. He had lost some teeth. He didn't look good.

He wanted to go to a Del Taco, so we went there. He loved that crap.

That night, as I recall, he asked me when I was gonna pay him all the money I owed him.

I just smiled.

Ronny, Ildy, Ray, and Attila, 1978.

It’s so old-fashioned!

...Speaking of bullshit, from a scientific perspective, the direction that America’s space program has taken in recent decades is seriously wrong-headed. During the Bush Administration, things got worse still: for the Bushies, science was an enemy.

Early indications are that Mr. Obama understands the value of science and has made wise decisions—in particular concerning our space program.

Many scientists complain that, Buzz Aldrin to the contrary, if we seek to attain scientific knowledge, we must abandon our prejudice in favor of manned space flight, which is both expensive and unnecessary. Robots can do almost anything astronauts can do, and they can do it much more cheaply.

Initially, in this regard, America’s space program had some stunning, though now appreciated, victories.

Yeah, but didn‘t we get caught with our pants down by the Soviets with their Sputnik? Weren’t we playing nothing but catch-up?!

As Bob Park explained yesterday (What’s New), that’s not really what happened:

Launched on 4 Oct 1957, [the USSR’s] Sputnik carried no instruments. It just beeped…. But a month later, Sputnik 2 carried a Geiger tube and a radio transmitter to relay the Geiger output back to Earth. It also carried a tape recorder to store data when the satellite is over the horizon, but it wasn't working on launch day.

Soviet scientists placed a call directly to Premier Nikita Khrushchev requesting permission to delay the launch for a day, but Khrushchev refused; he wanted to announce another successful launch at a meeting of heads-of-state the next day….

On 31 Jan 1958, only four months after Sputnik, the US launched Explorer 1 carrying an experiment designed by James Van Allen, Physics Chair at the University of Iowa. It was just a Geiger tube, a radio transmitter, and a recorder – but the recorder worked.

Data from a full orbit confirmed the existence of charged particle bands around Earth, now known as the Van Allen belts. It was the first major discovery from beyond the ionosphere.

Soviet scientists were crushed; only four months after Sputnik, the US had taken the lead in space science and has never relinquished it.

Manned space flight remains a sideshow. In the end, all that will endure is the science. James Van Allen was the true American space hero. During [my] long talk with Jim a year before his death in 2006, he summed-up manned space flight: "It's so old-fashioned."

"You cannot ignore the facts"

a priori (adj.): Based on a hypothesis or theory rather than on experiment or experience.
—American Heritage Dictionary

“Let’s get empirical.” As a citizen of a college community, I find myself saying that a lot. “Let’s get empirical” means: let’s take a look at what actually happens in the world.

As opposed to what? As opposed to appealing to unverified theories and our sense of the facts.

People, especially teachers, really love their sense of things, their intuitions. They trust ‘em—just like W trusted his "gut."

Screw that. Gotta look at the facts. Unfortunately, one can’t always get the facts. Getting reliable data can be difficult.

But sometimes one can get them. If relevant data (experiments, studies, surveys, etc.) are available, we need to look at all that before making decisions. That’s why I’ve been keen to monitor good studies (no, not instructor and administrator anecdotes) regarding the viability of “online instruction.” OI looks like a classic case of something shiny and new that some will embrace without bothering to ask whether it works.

Let’s give this general fallacy a name: “inappropriate a prioriism.” It is the fallacy of making decisions on the basis of theory or our sense of things—when relevant empirical data are available and have not yet been examined.

Incidentally, so far, there are strong indications that OI does work for at least some kinds of learning. But, really, not enough is known about it to justify a wholehearted embrace. (It is possible that OI works well, not because of anything intrinsic to OI, but because of the circumstance that OI students spend more time studying. My “sense” of things [oops!] is that study time is more important than “mode of instruction.”)

PRESIDENT EMPIRICUS

One thing that has impressed me about President Obama is his apparent tendency to get empirical.

A couple of days ago, Paul Krugman offered a defense of Obama’s efforts with regard to health care reform (Costs and Compassion). At one point, he stated:

I don’t know how many people understand the significance of Mr. Obama’s proposal to give MedPAC, the expert advisory board to Medicare, real power. But it’s a major step toward reducing the useless spending — the proliferation of procedures with no medical benefits — that bloats American health care costs.

And both the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have also been emphasizing the importance of “comparative effectiveness research” — seeing which medical procedures actually work.

If ever there were an area of human thought and action afflicted by “inappropriate a prioriism” it is health and medicine. Here, the affliction is widespread and system-wide. It’s the perfect place to “get empirical.” That’s what Obama wants to do.

Perhaps another example of Obama’s “appropriate empiricism” concerns reform of K-12 education. In the LA Times this morning (Obama chides California for not using test scores to evaluate teachers), we learn that

President Obama singled out California on Friday for failing to use education data to distinguish poor teachers from good ones, a situation that his administration said must change for the state to receive competitive, federal school dollars.

Obama's comments echo recent criticisms by his Education secretary, Arne Duncan, who warned that states that bar the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers, as California does, are risking those funds. In an announcement Friday at the Education Department in Washington, Obama and Duncan said the "Race to the Top" awards will be allocated to school districts that institute reforms using data-driven analysis, among other things.

"You cannot ignore facts," Obama said. "That is why any state that makes it unlawful to link student progress to teacher evaluations will have to change its ways."

Obama recently announced that considerable federal funds will be made available for instruction in the states, but it is largely tied to recipients' efforts at determining what actually works.

THE IRRATIONAL EGOIST

Now, as it turns out, emphasizing “the facts” in education is an approach that can be abused, a fact illustrated by eight years of George W. Bush and his right-wing “learning outcomes” crowd.

Whether the subject was education or foreign policy, Bush was consistently factually challenged. Not only did he and his people commit the fallacy of inappropriate a prioriism, they dove still deeper into irrationality, routinely proceeding as though the truth is somehow “known” (by the righteous? the God-fearing?) independent of the evidence and the “evidence” is something that one manufactures or exploits to sell this “knowledge.”

I do hope that the era of Presidential anti-rationality is over. Looks like it is.

Prima facie, it should be possible to determine whether a teacher teaches well or not. At the very least, we should be able to identify the very bad teachers. Getting rid of them would be a great help.

EDUCATIONIST ANTI-RATIONALISM

There’s one problem though. The California K-12 educational establishment rivals the Bush Administration for systematic anti-rationality. Remember California's absurd embrace of “whole language” reading instruction? (Empirical evidence did not support the "whole language" approach. It did support the "phonetic" approach that WL eschewed.) Remember the emphasis on “self-esteem”? (There were no studies supporting the idea that encouraging high self-regard prevents problems like teen pregnancy, criminality, and drug use. No matter!)

If we leave the matter of evaluating teachers up to them, we’re in big trouble.

I say we get Penn and Teller. (Nobody's perfect: read this.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"It breaks the heart"


For those looking for my usual report on the meeting of the SOCCCD board of trustees—well, I didn't attend the meeting. Had better things to do.

Meanwhile, big changes are unfolding state-wide:

THE PROPOSED CA BUDGET:

“State universities and local community colleges alike will take deep cuts under the state budget deal.” –So begins the OC Reg’s take on what the not-yet-approved state budget means for higher ed:

Higher education could lose $3 billion under budget deal
The deal includes $3 billion in reductions to higher education, to be allocated between the UC and CSU systems. This is on top of $813 million already being cut by UC.

Local community colleges–which follow a different budget schedule than the state or K-12 districts–have [been] cutting budgets, trimming back programs and digging into reserves in anticipation of this week's state budget deal.

Coast Community College District…has worked to keep cuts away from classrooms.

…The district does not anticipate employee furloughs or layoffs for 2009-10, but at the same time, a hiring freeze has been instituted.

No new instructors could spell trouble, as all community colleges in the state are bracing for the deluge of students who have been turned down by UC and CSU systems.

Nevertheless, the district will not be offering additional classes to accommodate the influx.

North Orange County Community College District used its reserves, in part, to manage the cuts that came in 2008-09.

But the district now faces sacrifices in its curriculum, and the district chancellor’s staff has been meeting weekly into the summer months to continue budget planning.

“We’ve reduced summer school session classes two-to-one,” [spokeswoman Christie] Noring said….

The proposed tuition hike is a point of concern. The district has already started fall registration, but once fees are raised, the district will have to call back students and collect the balance of fees.

Equally worrisome are the future of soft dollar “categorical programs,” such as matriculation counseling, equal opportunity, and special needs students. Funding for these directives depend on state budget earmarks.

“The programs that stand to lose the most are [those for] our most needy students.”

Scott Lay, president and CEO of the Community College League of California, said similar stories are playing out across the state.

While layoffs may not been happening, most community college districts will not be renewing the same course load, and therefore part-time instructors will be cut.

“Silent layoffs,” said Lay….

Lay sees one small victory amid the crisis. The state has promised to repay K-12 schools and community colleges $9.5 billion as the economy rebounds. Payments would likely begin in 2013 and community colleges would see about 11 percent of the money.

Lay says California’s community colleges are facing a roughly 12.5 percent cut while experiencing a 10 percent rise in enrollment.

“We have record high school graduation rates. We have veterans coming back. We have the redirected students from other university systems. We have the unemployed workforce looking to be retrained,” Lay said. “The demand is significant and real.”

According to the League’s projections earlier this year, a district like Coast would lose 9 percent or 7,062 students in 2009-10 due to state budget cuts.

“The students are pouring onto campuses demanding technical training and education, and it breaks the heart of these administrators to not be able to provide for them.”

Attila and Ildico, receiving a Christmas treat

THE VETS ARE COMING:

As Lay suggests, part of the dilemma facing community colleges (viz., that funding is reduced just as demand for education is sharply increasing) concerns the new GI Bill of Rights, which supports vets who seek to go to college. The law kicks in in two weeks.

In this morning’s Inside Higher Ed (Survey of Services for Veterans), Elizabeth Redden describes a report on preparedness of colleges for the expected influx of vets:
…A new report from a group of five higher education associations, "From Soldier to Student: Easing the Transition of Service Members on Campus," represents, the authors write, the first attempt to assess the current state of programs and services nationally.

A total of 723 institutions responded to the survey, out of 2,582, for a 28 percent response rate. … Among the findings, 57 percent of institutions said they currently provide programs and services specifically designed for service members or veterans. The report's conclusion notes a number of areas where colleges are meeting the needs of veterans, and also areas where they're not.

Where colleges are doing well, the report notes, is in recognizing prior military experience….

But colleges have much more work to do in the following areas, the report notes:

• Assisting in the transition to college….
• Offering
professional development to faculty and staff, on transition issues and issues specific to students with brain injuries and other disabilities.
• Easing the path to re-enrollment for service members once they return from deployments…
• Helping veterans connect with other veterans….

Attila the Pup (1975)

Pics: (1) as soon as I got my new lens, Annie ran out with it and took pictures of flowers--in the shade. "Sun is the photographer's friend," I intoned. Does she listen to me? She does not. So I just photoshopped the heck out of her dreary pic. I like the way only the leaf and the edge of some petals are in focus. (2) It's hard to explain the love everybody in my family had for these two wonderful dogs, Attila (male) and Ildico (female). I won't even try. They were extraordinarily sweet creatures. Here they are, in their old age, receiving some sort of treat, Xmas 1985. The always-dignified Ildy (at right), a spectacular athlete, was the smaller dog; by midlife she was hobbled by hip dysplasia. Even so, she was quietly dominant (her dominance is less quiet in this photo), and, despite her pain, she had a very long and good life. Atti (or "Billy"), at left, was fabulously loyal and good natured, a great protector. My wonderful pal. (3) Billy, 1975, the super-pup.

P.S.:

TigerAnn insisted on going outside again, so I took a coupla "posie" shots:

Way crazy, eh?

Too conventional? Guess so.
(This bougainvillaea flower is seriously small: maybe a sixth of an inch across. I think I spotted Raquel Welch wavin' at me from its center.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A budget; hard times ahead

Budget accord reached (LA Times)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders announced Monday that they had reached a deal to close California's $26.3-billion deficit and begin paying all of the state's bills again, potentially ending months of partisan wrangling and a cash crisis that threatens to push California into insolvency.

Their agreement, which could go before the full Legislature within days, does not include any broad-based tax increases, relying instead on deep cuts in government services, borrowing and accounting maneuvers to wipe out the deficit.

It is not clear whether the package will pass when lawmakers vote on it, perhaps Thursday. Concern that it could unravel as interest groups catch wind of its contents and pressure the rank-and-file to vote it down was evident in legislative staffers' reluctance to share some details

Education would … lose billions of dollars, although the deal skirts suspension of voter-approved funding formulas. Schools are expected to have to increase the number of students in classes, lay off teachers and scale back their offerings. Education lobbyists won a provision that requires the state to ultimately pay back money it is cutting, but districts are struggling now….

President Roquemore (IVC) has forwarded (to the campus community) a letter from Scott Lay, President/CEO of the Community College League of California.

Lay writes:
…[T]he plan cuts community colleges by $936 million in state general funds. Student fees would increase to $26/unit effective with the fall semester ($17/unit for the two districts on the quarter system).

Even with $70 million in additional student fee revenue and up to $130 million in one-time federal funds, the cuts are the deepest in the history of California's community colleges. With booming enrollment from four converging forces--record high school graduates, redirected four-year students, returning veterans, and the newly unemployed--the budget will significantly constrain access and limit essential student services.

Nobody is happy with this budget, and community colleges are no different. However, we did succeed in extracting a commitment in the deal to repay K-12 schools and community colleges $9.5 billion as the economy rebounds. This is an important restoration of quality that will likely begin in 2012-13. We certainly have several difficult years ahead….


See also in this morning’s Inside Higher Ed:

No Vacancy
At American River College, in Sacramento, desperate times are calling for desperate measures. ¶ Like so many community colleges in California, all reeling from …[budget cuts], American River simply does not have enough classroom space to accommodate all of its students. Last month, for example, estimates noted that almost 250,000 students statewide would be kept from community colleges due to dwindling space.

The crunch has been especially noticeable in general education courses required for graduation or transfer to a four-year institution, such as introductory English composition and college mathematics. Students nearing graduation who have put off these courses now jockey for position against an influx of first-time students who fear that if they do not take them now they will never get the chance to finish on time and within their budget.

As a result of unprecedented student demand and a dwindling state budget, small classes have become a thing of the past….

Students are not the only ones feeling the pinch at American River. Adjunct faculty members, like their students, are scrambling to find classes for themselves.

Further south in San Diego, at Miramar College, there is another kind of overcrowding issue. Academic counselors, responsible for helping students survey the uncertain terrain of cut courses, are becoming harder to see.

“We had a number of staff cuts,” said Rick Cassar, academic counselor at Miramar. “Typically, we each saw seven to eight students a day in one-hour sessions. Now, there is such a demand from students that everything is on a walk-in basis. It’s kind of like the DMV. I’m seeing about 30 students a day. Recently, I even saw 54 students in one day, each in short ten-minute appointments. Morale is down in our office, and people are feeling burnt out.”

The concern of the moment, however, is the plight of California’s community college students, many of whom may find themselves trapped without the classes they need to graduate or unable to transfer onward to earn a bachelor’s degree….

Pics: this morning, TigerAnn and I tried out my new 60mm lens.


ARCHIVE PROJECT:

The family film archive project continues. Came across these pics recently. This is my late little brother Ray, on a mountain in the Sierra Nevada, 1975:

And here's my little bro Ronny, on the same mountain:


My dad caught this sunset in 1985, likely in the Bay area.

Mono Lake, 1985:

Monday, July 20, 2009

The “stupid party” slowly comes into view

Richard Weaver, one of the founders of modern conservatism, once wrote a book entitled “Ideas have Consequences”; unfortunately, too many Republicans are still refusing to acknowledge that idiocy has consequences, too.
Lexington (the Economist)

BIG THINGS are happening. As you know, a battle now rages over what the Republican Party will stand for. Now, it's getting ugly.

One aspect of the battle involves the familiar tension between conservatives who call themselves “libertarians” and conservatives who embrace so-called “social” issues (anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, etc.) and that odd assortment of motives, tendencies, and prejudices represented by the gone-but-not-forgotten Bush Administration (e.g., nation-building, “end-justifies-the-means” pursuit of goals, anti-intellectualism, know-nothingism, etc.).

It goes without saying, I suppose, that most of the Bushies’ tendencies and pursuits were assaults on libertarian ideals. It must have been hard for libertarian “conservatives” to support W when, in truth, he was their enemy.

American “conservatism,” at least since the fifties, has been a pretty complicated beast. “Small government” thinking, which is very old (it is associated with “classical liberalism” and such thinkers as Jefferson, Voltaire, and Smith), has long been important to most self-described American conservatives. In recent decades, so has a horror at the availability of abortions. Arguably, neither of these positions is conservative in the most essential sense of the word, namely, preservation of the traditional.

TigerAnn recommends lots of sleep.

Since the Enlightenment, “conservatism,” at least in this country, has maintained a weak traditionalism. Meanwhile, it has grown distinctly pessimistic about human progress, skeptical of utopian or progressive plans and projects, and generally pleased with the tried and true, whether cherished or not. That’s its non-ideological ideology. So it is hard to make a case for anti-abortionism as “conservative.” Conservatism doesn’t clearly point one way or another about that.

(I have long been struck by the paradox that mainstream “conservatives” in our country are the most vocal and dependable boosters of business and economic development, and yet it is plain, I think, that their world of “commerce come what may!” is the eroder of traditions par excellence. [Please excuse me while I check my Twitter account and monitor an eBay auction for the the new Orgasmatron 2.0.])

Libertarians, unlike today’s “Republican base” (i.e., the Bible-toting Bush/Palin crowd), are not merely uninterested in enforcing a way of life. They have an ideology according to which such enforcement is wicked: government should stick to refereeing among citizens who are, by right, free to pursue their lives as they see fit.

GREENHUT V. RED COUNTY

Well, anyway, these tensions are playing out right now in our beloved Orange County.

The OC Register’s Steven Greenhut is a libertarian: utterly fed up with the GOP, he joined the L party not long ago. Meanwhile, the OC’s conservative establishment churns out its message and amuses its Rush-happy loutery on the OC edition of Red County, a right-wing blog.

Apparently, some of Red County’s bigwigs have recently taken aim at libertarians such as Greenhut, labeling them extreme—something the GOP must rid itself of if it is to recover and flourish. The criticism got pretty nasty—and mighty illogical.

So, on the 14th of this month, Greenhut replied.

Eternal vigilance. That's the ticket.

The OC Reg’s Orange Punch blog
Steven Greenhut
Who are the real extremists?

The good Republican folks at Red County have published a post accusing libertarians of being extremists…. Yet one prominent writer at the blog [David Bahnsen], and someone who has zealously joined in the “libertarians are extremists” [commentary] has long ties to Christian Reconstructionism, a form of fundamentalist Christianity that seeks to impose Old Testament law on society. Would it be fair, then, to suggest that Red County is in league with those views, which I believe are somewhat outside the mainstream?

…I can guarantee that many of the Republican activists I dealt with [in Iowa] were racist, angry nutcases. Given the common Mexican-hating among GOP activists these days, maybe it’s fair to say the conservative mainstream holds racist views. … My point: Every movement is filled with people who have some, er, unusual views. I can do the same thing as [Red County's Chip] Hanlon: mock and mischaracterize the conservative worldview and dredge up crazy things I’ve heard from right-wing kooks over the years….

Chip Hanlon accuses me or people like me of hating America, based on his deliberate misconstruing of the libertarian view of big government. If I accused him of hating Mexicans or gays based on the views of people like him on the Right, then he would rightly be outraged, but it’s somehow OK to make outrageous and unsubstantiated accusations against his opponent.

Based on his logic, I suppose that he wants to stone gay people and adulterers, which is a part of the Christian Reconstructionist list of must-dos. And since blogger and commenter David Bahnsen, son of the famous reconstructionist author Greg Bahnsen, is on Red County and is joining in his anti-libertarian crusade, then this must be the epitome of Red County thinking, right?….

…By the way, how many local Republican causes have been funded by [Tom Fuentes’ pal] Howard Ahmanson, a decent man who has rejected many of that movement’s extreme views, but who has in the past been allied with [the Christian Reconstructionist] ... movement? Yet these folks presume to offer the final word on the proper right-of-center mainstream — and they do so by analyzing and over-analyzing one paragraph in a (intended to be) humorous column. They just can’t tolerate any criticism of their support for big government policies in the area of war and spying….

Wow.

Two days later, evidently missing Greenhut’s main point, the semi-literate Mr. Bahnsen responded:

Red County
David Bahnsen
My Reply to Greenhut's Cheap Broadside (or: “I think I doth protest too much”)

…[Steve Greenhut] is trying to make me “guilty by association” when he knows ... that I do not believe what he attempts to lump me in with (I am not a Christian Reconstructionist, I do not believe such a movement of people even exists any more, and I have spent ten years earnestly defining my own worldview as one distinctly at odds with the very things Steve says). Steve knows this. ... He pulled this ploy about my dead dad and about me because he wanted to poison the well. On the other hand, Chip Hanlon and I did not use “guilt by association” to criticize Steve. We used his own words. Period. He continually bashes the men and women who serve in our military. He has a constant theme and focus on denigrating law enforcement. He has every right in the world to disagree with the war in Iraq. His post-July 4th article went far beyond that.

I have known for years that Steve Greenhut “jumped the shark”, and was now in the world of extremist isolationism. ... [Ron Paul and the libertarians]… are oblivious to the threat America faces…. Fine conservative men … disagreed with the Iraq war. [But Greenhut] has gone over the top, and I suspect that reputation he has built for himself explains much of the collapsing popularity of the OC Register’s once distinguished editorial section.… His irrelevant and morally apathetic worldview is no better off today than it was before he wrote the piece.

…What is unforgivable … is the blatant lying and twisting of facts to try and throw a bomb. If Greenhut’s 16 readers at the OC Register blog want to know if I hold to a worldview that is deeply rooted in the Christian-Catholic faith, the answer is yes. If they want to know if I believe that part of my faith involves a belief in Catholic social thought, and world and life view Christianity, the answer is yes. I have no intention of divorcing my faith from my business, my family, or my politics. … I see the political realm as completely distinct from the ecclesial realm, etc. … Steve’s views are the ones out of line with the historical Christian faith, and certainly out of line with the foundational heritage of our great nation.
 


I am not a Reconstructionist, I do not know anyone who is, and my father never believed the things Steve says he did. He is a firebomb-throwing hack who should not be taken seriously. I do believe in moral progress, and I do believe that throughout history, more and more people are going to be persuaded in many of the things that I believe (you know, radical things like family being a key unit in civilization, the rule of law, the morality of free markets, the freedom to practice your religion, etc.). … My hope and faith is purely in the gradual and voluntary (and inevitable) progress of history….

The Tige has her eye on these fools.

… We [at Red County] are fervently seeking to see true fiscal order restored to our party…. We welcome vigorous debate. But sometimes, even though “guilt by association” is a fallacy, one has to be very cautious about who they are lumped in with. ... [R]eal change has never been effected by the brand of Libertarianism Steve now identifies himself with. We Reagan Republicans can boast differently.

Sheesh.

Then, yesterday (7/19), Greenhut offered this:

OC Reg editorial
Steven Greenhut
Steven Greenhut: Watch who you call extremist

…This week, I'm writing about [a]… political divorce [that is] sure to be full of bitterness and custody disputes. It involves the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, following the GOP's well-deserved November election drubbing….

…[S]ome party activists … have decided that the real problem isn't just President Barack Obama, but the small-"l" libertarians who still remain within their midst. Local activists … accused me of … no longer being relevant … because of my July 4 column that poked fun at U.S. military adventurism and the possibly illegal policies of U.S. spy agencies. … The [accusatory] article, written by GOP/Red County honcho Chip Hanlon, uses my column as an example of the supposed extremism and America-hating found within the libertarian movement….

Hanlon goes for the easy straw man: "They argue – with the benefit of hindsight – that we should never have gotten involved in World War II, that Abraham Lincoln is one of history's worst war criminals … . […]… When their full belief system is known, however, support of Libertarians like Paul cannot be defended. But folks like Paul are learning, becoming better at hiding their extremist views."

…Like totalitarians, [the GOP establishmentarians] invited us to renounce our "extremism," make a public apology and join their cause to limit government, which is akin to a drunk calling on members of Alcoholics Anonymous to join him at the bar if they really want to fight alcoholism.

The GOP can't claim to fight for smaller government. The Bush administration set spending records, doubled the national debt, vastly expanded Medicare entitlements and waged a costly Iraqi adventure that has caused tragic losses of life….

Since the election, the same GOP that has sung hosannas to the empty vessel of Sarah Palin has gone out of its way to depict supporters of Paul as cultlike camp followers. … We simply like most of the age-old ideas he espouses, as he's one of the few national figures who still espouses them….

…Sure, the [Libertarian Party] is ineffective and a bit odd, … but it's better than being stuck in an unhappy marriage with a mean-spirited, abusive and angry loser of a spouse.

Maybe the Red County reaction is proof of the long-awaited and much-needed end of the old Reagan coalition, which was comprised of small-government types, social conservatives and military hawks. The GOP is still home for social conservatives and military expansionists, but there's nothing left of value for believers in liberty. And I am so sick of all the Reagan idolatry by that side. I like Reagan, but he did, in fact, expand government. His legacy shouldn't be off-limits to criticism.

I spent some time on Red County following this dust-up and found one occasional columnist arguing, "[…]We should follow Russia's lead in not allowing further building of mosques or Islamic schools in America until Saudi Arabia reciprocates. … Our response to an Islamic challenge could well result in vastly expanded Christian political dominance in America. […]."

Does re-establishing 1940s-era sedition laws and abridging religious freedom sound mainstream to you? ….
...
Let's just end the fighting. Those who believe in truly limiting government, in domestic and overseas affairs, should realize that we are no longer part of the conservative movement and certainly not welcome in the Republican Party. … I can guarantee that it's far more entertaining watching Republicans lose elections from a distance than from within their crazy, immigrant-bashing, warmongering, torture-endorsing, government-expanding, civil-liberties-trouncing hothouse.

Do you suppose these people will ever kiss and make up? I doubt it.

I do have one suggestion, inspired by John Stuart Mill's infamous remark about British conservatives. First, the GOP should embrace honesty as its core “value.” I think that would be great. And refreshing!

It should designate Sarah Palin as its leader and the moose as its mascot.

It should then simply call itself the “stupid party.”

Meanwhile, libertarians will just be libertarians.

(Check out what the OC Weekly's Gustavo Arellano had to say about all this.)

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