Friday, February 19, 2010

Who will provide "oversight" of the SOCCCD Chancellor hire?

Item 6.1 of the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees concerns “Chancellor Recruitment.” The board will “discuss and take appropriate action on recruitment of [the] new Chancellor.”

Included in the agenda item is Board Policy 4011.6: Employment Procedures for Chancellor. Section 1, point 7 of this policy concerns “oversight”:

According to 4011.6, the Chancellor or Board designee “will appoint the search committee….” Further, according to the policy, the Chancellor or Board designee will select the committee chair.

I don’t know about you, but I will quickly cease to have confidence in the search and hiring process if Raghu Mathur is chosen as the provider of oversight of the hiring process.

Two weeks ago, I contacted IVC’s Academic Senate cabinet, requesting that they agendize something (e.g., a senate discussion) that might yield some action to encourage an honest and professional Chancellor hire. As a result (I suppose—the cabinet doesn’t communicate with me, evidently) some sort of “Chancellor search” item did appear on the agenda of last week’s senate meeting, but the meeting ran long and the item was put off until the meeting of the 25th.

But it now appears that an important decision regarding the integrity of this search/hire might be made on Monday, the 22nd—naming the Oversight Person for the hiring process. The agenda item does not make that clear.

Mathur has a history of manipulating administrative searches.

A few years ago, during the trial for a civil suit—a widely-respected and experienced applicant accused Mathur of discrimination in a dean hiring process that yielded a stunningly disastrous hire—attorneys pursued whether Mathur had done “reference checks”—i.e., calling and verifying references listed on the selected candidate’s application. As I recall, it appeared that, had the reference checks been done or had they been done competently, important damning information about Mr. Disaster’s history would have come to light.

In court, to the amazement of observers, Mathur stated that, somehow, the form that documented these reference checks (he was supposed to have done them) had been lost.


Yes, lost.

Item 5.13 concerns a speaker for the IVC Academic Senate “Distinguished Academic Lecture Series.” In April, Jazz man (and UCI professor) Kei Akagi will present “message of jazz.” He will receive $2,400 for travel expenses/honorarium. (Presumably, this is an honorarium.)

Oddly, this has been added to item 5.13:

We're renting or leasing a Lexus? For whom?


Anonymous said... — Yes, the Chance is good [at] losing or discovering information "vital" to the district (aka "him"). 5:45 AM, February 20, 2010
Anonymous said... — Usually the senate meetings run long because a self important philosophy instructor talks too much... 7:28 AM
Bob Cosgrove said... — You know, at the Saddleback Senate we relish having folks who engage, even when we disagree. Senates are forums for different views on topics of concern. Be happy that you have someone who is ethical and thinks.
IVC has had a series of excellent Senates over the years and I know since I have attended many of them. Your Senate has been receptive and skeptical of some of the ideas we have shared with you and you with us.
But the exchanges often identified common ground. 7:44 AM
Anonymous said... — 7:28, as I recall, that instructor barely spoke. He did recommend a change that was ultimately endorsed by the senators. 8:16 AM
Anonymous said... — I like the fact that ideas ARE discussed in the Senate -- that the Senators are asked to cosider -- and not just rubber stamp agenda items. In general, if the meetings run over -- it's a matter of minutes. Everyone knows that. Senate meetings are from 2-4.
(same with curriculum -- or used to be -- items read and discussed -- now it's not -- people bragging in the meeting that they don't read the stuff and never will) 8:18 AM
Anonymous said... — Face it, many people resent doing their jobs, fulfilling their responsibilities. They just want their paychecks and the shortest work day possible. 8:54 AM
Anonymous said... — Oversight? yeah right. 9:42 AM
Anonymous said... — Gee, hard to see how looking out for ethical integrity and thoughtful consideration of crucial issues to the welfare of the District translates into "self-important." 

"Self-sacrificing," yes--especially when those lacking that sense of integrity or work ethic simply attack.

Thanks Bob, for putting it well: "Be happy that you have someone who is ethical and thinks." I wish he had more company in the Senate in that respect. 10:39 AM
Bob Cosgrove said... — The Lexis issue—land that was not being used by Saddleback or probably will be. Lexis needed an area to park vehicles. It did not go through the process, unfortunately, for discussion. It was a done deal.
We do receive some money and a new entry way from that side of the college.
The trade off seems ok. 11:34 AM
Brenda Borron said... — I am proud that Roy Bauer is my representative to the Senate. I am proud that he brings courage, integrity, and thought to the Senate meetings. We have all been trained to ask questions, to challenge prevailing ideas, to get to the bottom of things. Surely, if nothing else, our experiences at IVC during the early years of this decade must have taught us that we must be ever vigilant, that we must do the things that we ask our students to do: read critically,think deeply, write persuasively and honestly. That someone would contend that we can be "talk[ing] too much" about the serious issues that confront us — issues that the School of Humanities, through our elected representative, Roy Bauer addresses in Senate meetings — is perplexing to me.
If we are not willing to spend a few extra minutes at meetings of the Senate and the union in order to understand issues, communicate those issues to our membership, call for discussion, and vote as REPRESENTATIVES of our schools, why even bother?
We call it "shared governance" for a reason. All of us share in the governance of the Senate, and we do so through our elected representatives. "Thank you, Roy" is something I often say to Roy privately. Now I'm thanking 7:28 for giving me an opportunity to say it publicly. 11:51 AM
B. von Traven said... — Garsh, thanks. Naturally, our school has two senators, and my colleague has turned out to be excellent. Totally reliable, and she soaks up info lots better than I do. My mind is a sieve. 12:07 PM

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some pop perfection: the 60s

There’s great rock and great ballads and great grunge and great reggae, and on and on.

Then there’s the great “pop song,” a fluffy creature without substance, like Star Trekian Tribbles—and yet….magic!

Gotta love New Jersey's own Shirelles. In 1961, they had the first hit with "Baby, It's You"—before the Beatles and Smith. But the original, Shirelles version sports a seriously cheesy organ solo. It's just the best.

Don’t know why Dion opted for a haircut that makes him look like Gumby. Don’t know why the band are geezers. Don’t know why attention is drawn to the lip-sync fakitude with that awful fadeout. Still, I’ve always loved Dion’s pre-Heroin growl and the pure pop perfection of this silly song from 1961.

Maybe it’s the thumpin’ E string. Maybe it’s how the song always makes me imagine running through the night with The Girl. Dunno. Loved this silly song from Day One. 1967.

Van Morrison is a genius and, by all accounts, a difficult man. One senses that he scribbled out the lyrics of “Brown Eyed Girl” (mostly misspelt) on a napkin and got through the recording session in record time, hoping never to have to think about it again. No such luck. For me it is the perfect pop song. Producer Bert Berns and the band deserve lots of credit too, especially that nifty bass break, the drum sound, the hand-claps, and that 9-note guitar figure. Magic!

Diana Ross and the girls churned out some perfect pop fluff for many years. Exhibit A: “Where Did Our Love Go?” from 1964. It’s a great pop song, sung by babes. It doesn’t get better than that. (Actually, almost nobody wanted to record the song, since it was judged “childish.” All the resentment evaporated when the dang thing became a huge hit.)

If you listen carefully at the start, you can hear Barry McGuire’s original vocal, which was wiped out (but not completely) and replaced with the Mamas and Papas', whose leader, John Phillips, wrote the song. With the new vocal, the recording became a stunningly perfect pop song, produced by Lou Adler, as I recall. This group’s sound seemed to come out of nowhere back in ’65 and early ‘66. I definitely noticed. (Too bad this video is gawdawful.)

Pop Perfection Plus. Plus what? Plus a sense of humor, plainly manifest in this video of the band from 1968. Singer Howard Kaylan (very under-appreciated) responded to the pressure of writing a song like their hit “Happy Together” by writing this similar song that mocks, well, songs like “Happy Together.” Ironically, “Elenore” became one of their biggest hits. Love this band. Their stories of meeting the Beatles and touring with Tom Jones are priceless.

Great production. Teenage group from Queens. They're all so, um, cute. 1964. Love it.

More Shirelles, this time live. Thanks to the band, this version nearly rocks, and the girls are definitely feelin' it. Very, very cool. 1964. Please, please send me back in time!

Paying for 40 hours of “involvement”

The SOCCCD Board of Trustees meets on Monday, the 22nd. You can download the agenda here.

I only just started perusing the dang thing. I noticed the usual “Trustees’ Requests for Attending Conferences,” which is always fun. (Item 5.19)

Naturally, “the Chancellor recommends that the Board … approve/ratify the Trustees’ requests….”

Looks like the trustees are really cooling their jets in the travel department, but there is one item: two days at a “safety” conference in Long Beach at $320 per person—registration costs, I guess. As usual, the info provided (about exactly what this money pays for) is unclear and unhelpful. This pattern is a kind of endless FU-gesture to the Brown Act.

Item 5.3 is the celebrated—and sometimes controversial—“Study Abroad Program to Santander, Spain.” Back in 2005, trustee Tom Fuentes and his pals nixed the program in part because Spain “has abandoned our fighting men and women” by pulling its troops out of Iraq. The world guffawed.

Another Fuentean complaint was the cost per student. It appears that the cost per student for the 2010 trip depends on how many students sign up. It’s $163 per day (per student) for 20-24 students, $154 per day for 25-29 students, or $151 per day for 30 or more students. (Evidently, this includes airfare and medical insurance.)

Such a deal!

It will be interesting to see if Board President Don Wagner maintains his objections to this popular program now that, um, that nasty umbilical cord to Tom is cut, stomped upon, smashed against a wall, and burned.

Item 5.5 is odd. Apparently, $3,400 is needed to complete the “cosmetology” program review. Saddleback College’s cosmetology department “contracts with Lake Forest Beauty College.” The college has a new owner, it seems. “The program review,” we’re told, “is b being [sic] completed by the new ownership.”

What this boils down to is that owner Heidi Berman (or her staff) will be paid $85 an hour for 40 hours of “involvement.” OK, whatever.

Item 5.12 is the two colleges’ “Community Education” programs (non-credit, fee-based). The agenda item says that these programs are “high-quality.”

It’s always fun to look at this list of "high-quality" and community-college-mission-fulfilling educational opportunities. Some highlights:

Saddleback College:

Are you the next American ….? (– I can’t read the last word. Idol?)
Become a Mystery Shopper (– Intriguing, I guess.)
Capturing the Essence  (Of what?)
Cashing in on your ideas
Feng Shui (–As I recall, “Feng Shui” is Chinese for “Bullshit.”)
Hollywood 2.0
How to be your own Private…. (--Private what? Investigator? Ryan?)
Power Entertaining
The Secret Revealed (Um, wow.)
Dare to Drawl (I think they meant "draw," but I prefer "drawl.")
Future Millionaires

Irvine Valley College seems to have a more sober (and less detailed) list of educational opportunities, including Dayan Quigong (evidently, this promotes the circulation of qi within the body).

UPDATE: a friend sent me this link to a site about World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day 2008 at, yes, Irvine Valley College. Check it out.

The site gushes: “Dr. Shin Lin, professor at UC Irvine, gave a brief talk about his research on taiji and qigong using the latest scientific methods and technology. Dr. Lin announced that his research will be broadcast on national television on the NBC Nightly News in the near future!!”

Remembering the wonderful Sidney Bechet

One of my favorite jazz instrumentalists is Sidney Bechet (1897-1959), a pioneer of the form (he first recorded in 1923) and one of its greatest soloists (clarinet, soprano saxophone).

This video combines two of my obsessions: Bechet (recorded in 1939) and silent actress Louise Brooks.

Here’s a live recording from 1958, in France, I believe. The French loved the guy. Check out his vibrato!

UCSD frat party: laughing at stereotypes "fun"

This appeared in last night's San Diego Union-Tribune:

UCSD begins investigation of frat's race-mocking party
University of California San Diego officials have begun an investigation into the off-campus party held Monday that mocked Black History Month, and hope to decide within the next few weeks whether students involved with the event will be disciplined.
. . .
“The Fraternity regrets the display of ignorance and error-of-judgment made by any individual members who may have attended or were associated via social-media with the racially-offensive party,” Garron Engstrom, chapter president of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, said in the statement.

Engstrom, who did not respond to requests for comment, noted the event was not an official fraternity event. He said disciplinary actions have been taken against members, and all members attending the party have been encouraged “to reach out to the African-American community.”
. . .
“The most important thing for me is having the students understand the impact of their actions on the rest of the community,” [Penny Rue, UCSD’s vice chancellor for student affairs] said. “And secondly, to understand what they were thinking.”

In an invitation circulated on Facebook, party organizers said they would be serving “Kegs of Natty, dat Purple Drank — which consists of sugar, water, and the color purple, chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon.”

Male partygoers were urged in the invite to wear white T-shirts “XXXL smallest size acceptable.” Females were given this guidance: “Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as ‘constipulated’, or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as ‘hmmg!’, or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises, grunts, and faces.”
. . .
Several UCSD students said they have been unimpressed by the university’s response, especially given the larger challenge it faces in recruiting black students, who make up less than 2 percent of undergraduates.

“The students are fed up,” said David Ritcherson, the head of UCSD’s Black Student Union. “The campus climate is horrible. People are thinking about transferring.”

Others say the administration has overreacted, and should not get involved with off-campus parties.

Bryan Kim, a UCSD senior from central California, said he had been planning to host a similar racially themed party this month tied to Black History Month. He wanted attendees to dress up as gangster rappers and participate in a costume contest judged by a black friend.

“People laugh at stereotypes because there’s an element of fun,” Kim said. “People need to get a sense of humor or they’re just going to spend their whole life being angry about things they can’t control.”
Meanwhile, a dollop of cynicism on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Politics blog:

State lawmakers take on UC San Diego frats
It's a long way from San Diego to Sacramento (believe us, we've driven it) but apparently state legislators still get invited to frat parties in California's southernmost city.

That's what we can glean from a press advisory sent out today informing reporters of a news conference Thursday hosted by Assistant Speaker pro Tempore Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, and several other members of the Democratic leadership team – including current Speaker Karen Bass and Speaker-elect John Perez, both Democrats from Los Angeles. (The L.A. area is closer to SD, we admit.)

The topic? Lawmakers will "publicly condemn a racially offensive student event hosted this past weekend by students of UC San Diego." The release goes on:

"The event called the, 'Compton Cookout' was organized by members of various Greek fraternal organizations and encouraged participants to mock Black History Month by promoting negative and offensive racial and gender stereotypes. ... Legislators will call upon university officials to investigate the organizers of the event and determine what sanctions; including suspension should be taken against the fraternity or fraternities responsible for the event."

Interestingly, the press conference organizers chose to attach said invite — further publicizing the comments, which seems a bit counter productive. We won't repeat anything, but, ya, it's offensive.

That said, fraternities do offensive stuff all the time – and this latest flap seems perfectly legal, albeit insensitive and racist, so we're not sure where state legislators fit in. But hey, why not jump on a story that's got legs?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Drake scrambles: damage control

Well, the UCI "free speech" saga rolls on. A friend of mine who is presently a student there shared this with me: evidently, a letter (email) from UCI Chancellor Michael Drake to students, sent at 7:15 this evening:

Subject line: Why Do Values and Civility Matter?

To: Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students, School of Medicine Students:
I have spoken and written often about the manner in which we discuss and debate our differences, about our values, and about how we use those values to guide our decision-making. I am disappointed that some in our community seem more comfortable engaging in confrontation than collaboration, and in closing channels of communication rather than opening them.

At this juncture, we have two options. We can continue to amp up the rhetoric of outrage that is reverberating inside and outside our walls. Or, rather than fortifying barriers, we can use this energy to build bridges across the spaces that divide us.

We can discuss our differences respectfully, moving first toward understanding, and perhaps eventually toward resolution. And we can challenge ourselves to be better: What does it mean to be a part of a learning community? How do we engage each other in constructive dialog? How do we move forward?

To that end, I am asking several campus units to join together to host a series of discussions that will help light our path forward. School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky's "First Amendment in a Multicultural Society" lecture last week set a high standard, and we will explore other issues in upcoming weeks. We will announce these shortly. I hope that all interested students, faculty and staff will participate, and that rather than repeating the behavior of so many others and sinking backward, we will move forward as a campus.

I know that we can advance. As we do, we must remember that the collective energy of our diverse communities is among our greatest strengths, and one that clearly enhances our position among the great learning centers of the world.

Chancellor Michael Drake

Rocco v. Williams; instant carnival!

On Monday, we learned that a gal named Callahan is running for John Williams’ county job. She looks viable. Today, we learned that—get this!—STEVE ROCCO wants the job!

Ex-trustee Rocco runs for public administrator

The OC Register’s Jennifer Muir (Watchdog) reports that
Former Orange School District Trustee Steve Rocco is back. He just filed paperwork to join the race for county public administrator.

Rocco is probably best known for his conspiracy rants, dark sunglasses and knit caps. He was elected to the Orange school board in 2004, later survived rumblings of a recall, and ran unsuccessfully for the Santa Ana City Council in 2008 on a platform pledging to fight what he called the Mexican Mafia, their Caucasian Puppetmasters and Judicial Miscreants.

Most recently, he was convicted of stealing a half-full bottle of ketchup from a cafeteria at Chapman University in 2009. (Rocco said he didn’t steal the ketchup — he just wanted to recycle the bottle.)

Rocco paid his filing fee Tuesday to run for the countywide office, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ candidate filing log for the June 8 election. Rocco could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rocco is running against incumbent John Williams, who has had some trouble of his own recently as the subject of two grand jury reports alleging mismanagement in the department. One of Williams’ former employees, paralegal Colleen Callahan, also is in the race. A fourth candidate Kevin Vann also is running for public administrator, but his candidate filing statement does not list a phone number or job title, and he could not be reached for comment….
This could be good. With a flaming lunatic like Rocco in the race, it could actually get some media attention. People might actually think about who oughta perform the "administrator" job.

Thinking voters. Such a prodigy, were it to actually to occur, could spell disaster for Williams--and for Rocco. And Callahan is a looker with knowledge of the job who manages to sound reasonable.

So there you go.

Happy pup

This just in. Matt Coker reports that, at long last, biker and hubby-of-SandyB Jesse James has been reunited with his beloved pup, Cinnabun: Jesse James and Cinnabun Reunited. We’re glad.

Jesse James’ dog, Cinnabun, is returned home (OC Register)

UCSD fraternity “Compton Cookout” inspires outrage

Party Mocking Black History Month Angers Many at UCSD (Inside Higher Ed)
Many University of California at San Diego students are outraged over a "Compton Cookout" party held by fraternity members to mock Black History Month, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Attendees were encouraged to wear chains and cheap clothing. A guide for women attending the event said: "For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks — Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes."
Students sue to restore affirmative action at UC (Contra Costa Times)
Students represented by a civil-rights group filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to overturn California's ban on affirmative action in public university admissions. ¶ The complaint, filed in San Francisco, argues that Proposition 209 violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause by turning certain students away from the University of California's most selective campuses….

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Late at night, thinkin' about Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson 1911 — 1938
When I first heard his recordings, there were no known photos of the man.
Little was known about him.

This photo of the great bluesman emerged in 2008. Probably genuine.

These two photos were discovered in 1973.
They did not appear until about ten years ago.

Johnson didn't like to talk about himself.
Thus his surviving friends have provided little information about him.
A reliable music researcher says he met with Johnson's killer, sixty years after the fact.
Won't name him for legal reasons.

Recently alleged photo of R. Johnson sold on Ebay
My vote: yep, it's the Great Man
I'm hoping for more; and for more info

Despite his obscurity during his lifetime, Johnson was profoundly influential.
In 1938, he was sought for a major venue for black musicians in New York;
he died right about then. It isn't clear where he is buried. Three burial sites are claimed.

The latest idiocy

Gary Robbins on the OC Reg’s College Life blog report the latest idiocy in the UCI “free speech” saga: Zionist group urges boycott of UCI
The Zionist Organization of America today issued a news release asking people not to give donations to UC Irvine, which launched a $1 billion fundraising campaign in 2008. ZOA also urged students not to apply for admission to UCI, claiming in the release that “the university has for years enabled bigotry, discrimination and the violation of civil rights by failing to condemn longstanding anti-Semitic and Israel-bashing speech and conduct on campus and failing to enforce its own policies against the perpetrators.”
. . .
Cathy Lawhon, director of media relations at UCI, said by email, “We have no comment on ZOA’s press release.”
See Matt Coker’s Zionists Call for Donation, Enrollment Boycott of UC Irvine, Slam Chancellor (2/17)

Rebel Girl's Poetry Corner: "this past was waiting for me"

There's a great deal to say today - even though the person Rebel Girl writes about often said so much in few words.

Lucille Clifton died last Saturday February 13, 2010 at age 73, at the end of a life that began in a large working class family in Depew, New York.

Clifton's bio is impressive - 11 poetry books (first one published at age 33), 20 children's books, a host of honors: three time nominee for the Pulitzer, National Book Award winner, poet laureate of Maryland for 11 years, professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets, and just this year, the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America to honor "distinguished lifetime service to poetry." And, not the least, she was mother to six children, grandmother to several, teacher of multitudes.

A poem:

i am accused of tending to the past

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother’s itch
took it to breast
and named it
she is more human now,
learning languages everyday,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.

~ Lucille Clifton

Rebel Girl worked with Clifton during the summers at the Community of Writers in Squaw Valley where Clifton had been a staff poet since 1991. At the poetry workshop, Clifton wrote new poems each day along with the other staff poets and participants. She composed her daily poems on a typewriter, working on one of Oakley Hall’s shabby IBM Selectrics. It was Rebel Girl's job to collect everyone's first drafts early in the morning and make copies on the wheezing xerox machine. She'd wait for the copies to emerge, standing there, reading the poems, imprinted on the warm stack of thin white paper. Clifton's drafts were elegant, powerful, spare - and often many would appear a year or two later in magazines and journals, collected eventually in one of her books.

Rebel Girl still remembers Clifton's final poem from two years ago, how it achieved what her work did so well – three spare lines that captured the spirit of the previous night’s party at the Hall House, the week itself – and much more. That poem, the last, as it turned out, that I'd see from her, went something like this:

over the mountains
and under the stars it is
one hell of a ride

One more:

mulberry fields

they thought the field was wasting
and so they gathered the marker rocks and stones and
piled them into a barn they say that the rocks were shaped
some of them scratched with triangles and other forms they
must have been trying to invent some new language they say
the rocks went to build that wall there guarding the manor and
some few were used for the state house
crops refused to grow
i say the stones marked an old tongue and it was called eternity
and pointed toward the river i say that after that collection
no pillow in the big house dreamed i say that somewhere under
here moulders one called alice whose great grandson is old now
too and refuses to talk about slavery i say that at the
masters table only one plate is set for supper i say no seed
can flourish on this ground once planted then forsaken wild
berries warm a field of bones
bloom how you must i say

~Lucille Clifton

She said it.

(photo: Lucille Clifton receives the National Book Award in 2000.)

UPDATE: To read the New York Times obituary, click here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Irvine crime wave: illegal balloon jumping

Earlier today, the OC Reg reported an unauthorized parachuting, evidently a crime. (See Man parachutes from Great Park balloon.)

The crime occurred on the Great Park balloon, in Irvine, Sunday morning.

The balloon, carrying 12 passengers, was rising to its top height of 400 feet when, at about the 330 foot mark, the pilot “felt a jolt and noticed that a young man had climbed to the top of the netting that encloses the gondola.” Or so said a city spokesman Craig Reem.
The man threw a parachute out in front of him and then jumped, quickly floating to the ground, Reem said.

"When he reached the ground, he scooped up the parachute and leaped over a nearby fence to a waiting car," Reem said.

Somebody was waiting for him in a white Toyota Supra, and the two left through the park gate at Marine Way, Reem said.
The kid was in his mid-20s, with blond hair. You know the type.

The Reg notes that federal laws were likely broken. Evidently, it’s illegal to fall on people.

Reem explained that the jump was dangerous, owing to the lowness of the balloon. “But it’s not the lowest ever attempted.”

The Reg helpfully notes that Austrian Felix Baumgartner once leapt “from the 98-foot Cristo Redentor statue in Rio de Janeiro.”

I’m sure blondie’s taking notes.

* * * * *

In another eye-opener, the Reg reports today that people are rating OC towns, on a scale of 1 to 5, on a site called “Yelp.” (See O.C. towns rated online, from 1 to 5 stars.)

Irvine isn’t doing very well.

For instance, Sam Y., who no longer lives in Irvine, gave the city one miserable star:
"Irvine is a planned community. a fake city, its owned by a corporation. like raccoon city from resident evil. and every once in a while people will freak out and go do something crazy. it looks nice but the place is real creepy. be careful there. i would write more but i don't want the irvine company to come get me."
Hey, Sam’s one of my students for sure. I recognize his punctuation.

UCI marketing prof Mary Gilly says
"Everything is viewed as brands now; cities are viewed as brands, they have brand associations … Irvine is viewed as being safe and boring ... so it's not surprising that people would review Irvine like they would a restaurant or Coca-Cola."
Nobody cares. Meanwhile, T.O. gave the city five stars, saying: "Who the **** writes a Yelp review on a city? ... I find this section to be completely useless."

Well, OK. Nice consistency.

Annie N. spoke directly to Irvine:
"You have no culture. You have no mom-and-pop stores. ... Nothing here has been untouched by the Irvine Company. The only good thing about Irvine: no electrical poles and wires. That actually amuses me for some reason. One star for you."
Annie's an English major, no doubt. Resident Anita L. was more positive:
"I love living in Irvine. ... I never thought I'd say this but I do. Though I still miss living in the Bay Area, lil guy is getting an excellent education, we live in an area free of crime. ... My only question is why are they constantly repairing the roads when they are still in mint condition?"
Oh, that’s cuz people in trailer parks don’t want to hear train horns. So they get tens of millions of state dollars to build a tunnel under the track, thereby inconveniencing thousands of other residents for years and wasting a buttload of money.

Explaining her review, Gilly said, that she is motivated by “altruism”: “– I don't want anybody else to suffer what I suffered."

“Williams was rarely there”

In today's OC Register:

Paralegal to challenge public administrator
A former employee in the county public administrator’s office plans to challenge her old boss, John Williams, for the elected position, saying Williams is an absentee leader and echoing claims of mismanagement documented in two grand jury probes into his office last year.

Colleen Callahan, 49, was a supervisor in the department’s legal unit before she quit last year after 11 years on the job. She said she had planned to work at the public administrator’s office until she retired but became so unhappy with management choices and low morale at the department that she changed her mind. She is now a superior court clerk at the Orange County Courthouse.

“I know it’s a long shot, but it’s not right for him to be there,” Callahan said. “I’ve seen so many people hurt and great employees he pushed out. We’re there to service the public.”
. . .
Last year, the PA/PG was the subject of two scathing grand jury reports that allege that Williams doubled salary costs, squandered the estates and engaged in questionable personnel practices, such as spiking an employee’s salary within a year of the employee’s retirement. (You can read about the first report here, and the second report here.)

Williams has defended his performance, saying the reports were riddled with inaccuracies and that grand jurors struggled to understand some of the complicated data they reviewed. And county supervisors in December narrowly voted down a proposal to reduce Williams’ authority by splitting the two roles and requiring Williams to report to the county’s CEO.

Callahan said that when she was with the department, Williams was rarely there. She pointed to a recent Register analysis of his travel records in his role as a trustee for the South Orange County Community College District, and wondered how he had time to travel and do his job at the county.

If elected, Callahan says she’ll cut department management in half and fund more front line workers who directly care for people….
Naturally, Reg readers have written comments about the above story. John C wrote:
I too was an employee of this department, and it is the truth that Mr. Williams was never there. His usual hours on the days that he shows up were in by 10:00 a.m. and after an hour and a half lunch, out by 3:00 p.m. (I never saw him but going by when his car was parked right out side the door in the employee of the month parking spot). No doubt on South Orange County Community College District business, but still on the County of Orange tax payers dime! Its time to put an end to his almost 30 year political career and to stop the corruption! He is only running again to keep his cronies (who have covered his @$$ while not in the office and who commit perjury by falsifying his timesheet every pay period. It should be noted that he just moved all the clerical staff out of the management area, no doubt so they can’t note his coming and going.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Flying into a mountain

Topo map: USGS; doomed flight, June, 1965; click on map

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. I don’t seem to remember much from my childhood. I do remember the family occasionally going to drive-ins to see such movies as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), "Prudence and the Pill" (1968) (gosh dad, what's this movie about?) and, later, “Catch-22” (1970).

I really loved Catch-22. I was 14 or 15. I recall talking about it with my dad into the night. He seemed happy that I was moved by the film. He was encouraging me to think, feel.

I vaguely recall one odd moment in 1965, just before my tenth birthday. Very early in the morning, my father woke us up and told us that a big jet had crashed in the mountains, just a few miles away. It had carried soldiers, he said.

It was a foggy, drizzly night. I stared out the window. I really didn't know what this event meant. It seemed to mean a lot to my dad. (Note: there've been over 70 plane crashes in the Santa Ana Mountains in the last century or so.)

LOMA RIDGE. The worst air disaster in California history occurred at 1:46 a.m. on June 25, 1965. A Boeing C-135 Stratolifter was transporting soldiers to Vietnam. The flight had started in New Jersey and had stopped at El Toro Marine Base. It was supposed to continue west to Hickam Air Force Base near Honolulu, but it never got there.

Runway 34R at El Toro Marine Base points north, right into foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains called Loma Ridge, which rises in some places to over 1,500 feet before petering out in the cities of Tustin and Orange.

As Anthony Pignataro explained in an article in 2000,
…Marines leaving Runway 34 always made an immediate left turn to avoid the 1,500-foot Loma Ridge that lies just four miles north of the base. The transport aircraft in the 1965 crash didn't do that. Instead, that plane—operating in near-blind conditions just before 2 a.m.—flew straight into the ridge.

Why Air Force Captain William F. Cordell, the aircraft's pilot, did that remains a mystery: the portion of the official Marine Corps accident report detailing causality is redacted (a standard procedure in military crash reports). But local commercial pilots studying the crash surmise that Cordell was about 30 seconds late in banking left—half the time it takes to reheat a cup of coffee in the microwave. (He Who Forgets History is a Damned Fool, 3/9/00)
83 servicemen died. There were no survivors.

Because of the weather, and despite the brilliant orange flash caused by the crash, search and rescue didn’t find the crash site for four hours. It was just 150 feet below the top of the ridge. Just over the ridge was Irvine Lake. (See topo map above and photo below.)

When it hit, the plane was going about 300 mph at about 1,150 feet. Wreckage was strewn for at least a mile.
According to press reports from the time,“…the plane hit below the crest of an S-shaped ridge, tearing into the earth and skidding to the top. The tail apparently catapulted upward, flinging bodies, luggage and wreckage over two higher hills.” The report, in the LA Times, goes on to say; “…the body of a crewman, possibly the pilot, lay in a 10-ft piece of cockpit 300 yards from the impact point. A hunk of wing lay 100 yards closer to impact, and a piece of engine was all that could be identified at the crash point.” (Tragic Trail)
Most available reports of the crash list the number of dead at 84. In fact, however, 83 died. One soldier who was supposed to be on the flight arrived late, too late to stop the plane, but just in time to watch it take off.

"Eighteen seconds later, I saw a ball of orange flame," he later said. The event appears to have ruined this fellow's life. For an account of his experiences, see Nick Schou’s Memorial Daze (OC Weekly, 5/26/05).

(Here’s a link to a UPI story entitled El Toro Marine Air Station, CA Air Disaster Kills 84, published the day after the crash.)

THE EL TORO AIRPORT. According to Pignataro, when, in the 1990s, Big Money types like George Argyros pushed to have the El Toro base converted into a commercial airport, the plan was to keep 34R and have large planes head straight for Loma Ridge, where, with enough effort, they would just barely clear the hill. (See.)

Critics noted the obvious: the 1965 crash. But officials, says Pignataro, “said they’d never heard of the crash,” despite a full-page spread about it in the OC Register (“The Deadliest OC Disaster,” June 24, 1995).

Further, the accident was never mentioned in the county's 1996 Draft Environmental Impact Report.

Pignataro notes that, following the 1965 crash, the Marines “imposed a ban on almost all transport flights from Runway 34.”

It’s Orange County, Jake.

From OC History Roundup: site of the crash, near Irvine Lake, Santiago Canyon Rd.
* * * * *
FLIGHT OF THE P-1. Less than two weeks after the Loma Ridge disaster, another plane crash occurred, this one in Imperial County—that’s east of San Diego County, alongside the Arizona border. The crash took the life of famed stunt pilot and Balboa Island resident Paul Mantz.

Mantz was filming the final scenes of Robert Aldrich’s action-adventure movie, “The Flight of the Phoenix,” a childhood favorite:
Flying sequences for the film would be provided by Tallmantz Aviation Inc., the popular motion-picture stunt-flying company run by legendary movie pilots Frank Tallman and Paul Mantz. The company, formed in 1961, was based out of Orange County Airport … and had provided Hollywood filmmakers with a number of thrilling aeronautical feats and stunts, including the ones performed in 1963’s It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, in which Frank Tallman flew a plane … through an open-ended airport hanger, a highway billboard (advertising Coca-Cola) and, once finally on the ground, into the glass-sided wall of an airport restaurant. (Notable California Aviation Disasters.)
The film ends with Jimmy Stewart’s character flying an airplane, made from parts of a crashed cargo plane, out of the desert and to safety. Frank Tallman was supposed to do the flying, but he had received an injury to his leg while playing with his young son’s go-kart.

That’s right. Go-kart.

So Mantz did the flying:
Joining Mantz for the flight would be Bobby Rose, the “Dean of Hollywood stuntmen,” who would stand behind Mantz in the open cockpit and double for actor Hardy Kruger….

… Mantz and Rose took off from the airport at Yuma, Arizona, for the scheduled 7:00 a.m. call and flew to the nearby filming location at Buttercup Valley. On the first pass the P-1 rose into the air too far beyond the range of the first camera, so Mantz circled around to make another attempt.

As Mantz came in on his second low pass, the P-1 gradually descended, making an unplanned touchdown on the hardened, sandy ground of the desert. This jarring impact triggered a structural failure of the aircraft’s tail boom section, snapping the P-1’s fuselage in two immediately behind the wings. The aircraft began breaking up, with the heavier nose and open cockpit section somersaulting forward while catapulting the now-detached tail section over and past the forward section. Stuntman Bobby Rose was flung from the crash and survived with a broken shoulder and pelvis, but Paul Mantz was killed instantly, crushed as the heavy nose section rolled over on itself.

The entire crash sequence was captured on film by the movie crew, providing investigators with a dramatic and vivid account of how the crash occurred. (Notable California Aviation Disasters.)

FRANK TALLMAN SMASHES INTO SANTIAGO PEAK. Amazingly, Frank Tallman’s go-kart injury became infected and his leg was amputated. But that didn't slow him down:
Undaunted, he taught himself to fly with one leg and returned to stunting. Within a year he had requalified as a pilot of aircraft ranging from helicopters to military fighter planes. He became the first amputee to hold all FAA licenses. (Notable California Aviation Disasters.)
Thirteen years later, Tallman died in yet another crash, this one in the Santa Ana Mountains, not far from where I now sit (at this moment, I'm looking at Santiago Peak, at about where Tallman crashed):
Famed stunt pilot Frank Tallman was killed two days shy of his 59th birthday when his twin-engine Piper PA-23 Aztec … crashed near the top of the 3,500-foot Bell Ridge [actually, Santiago Pk.] in the Santa Ana Mountains of rural Orange County during a rainstorm….

The nearest weather station to the crash site was reporting a 600-foot overcast and heavy rain at the time of the accident. Tallman was flying VFR (visual flight rules) in what the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) deemed were IFR (instrument flight rules) conditions.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies located the wreckage of the plane near Santiago Peak in the Cleveland National Forest at about 7:00 a.m. the following morning, April 16. An extensive search had been initiated by deputies, Orange County fire personnel, the Civil Air Patrol and a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter after several ground stations in the region had picked up an emergency radio signal around midnight.

Tallman, who was flying alone, was found dead in the cockpit, still secured by his seatbelt.
Among his legendary work was his flying for the film—Catch-22!

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

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

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

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

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

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

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary