Friday, November 4, 2011

The Craig Justice file: immortal roles on the silver screen

Administrator noir
     There's just no getting around it. Throughout his career, current Irvine Valley College VPI Craig Justice has been a distinctly "noir" kinda guy....
     ...Think "Craig Justice" and, right away, you think "hard boiled" and "cynical" and "dark." Golly.
     Film Noir (literally 'black film or cinema') was coined by French film critics … who noticed the trend of how 'dark', downbeat and black the looks and themes were of many American crime and detective films released in France to theatres following the war, such as The Maltese Falcon (1941), Murder, My Sweet (1944), Double Indemnity (1944), The Woman in the Window (1944), and Laura (1944)…. Fear, mistrust, bleakness, loss of innocence, despair and paranoia are readily evident in noir…. (Tim Dirks)
Here's Craig in what is arguably his most familiar role—as the natty giggling psychopath in Kiss me, Death!  God, he was wonderful in that. The part when he shoves that old woman down the stairs still gives me chills.

And who could ever forget him as Herman "Finger" Cain's duplicitous consigliere in The Godfather? The man is plainly born to play these parts.
Here he is as Spiv Eddy in the otherwise forgettable Night Bastards 'n Shades.  
That one was a real stinker. They can't all be good, I guess.
Craig as the immortal "Weepy-Boy Santos" in They Drive at Night. (He's the one driving and weeping.)
Next week: Craig & Kumar's Novato Adventure

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lego® Community College (reifying our Romper Roomian reputation?)

Solving "real-world problems" with Legos® 
Believe it or not, Irvine Valley College® is an actual college. It has always struck me as odd that IVC is best known for hosting such decidedly non-collegiate (i.e., adolescent or prepubescent) and noisy events as the "Astounding Inventions" thing. The latter entails a yearly invasion of wise-crackular, gizmo-clutching urchins, some of whom end up on the Tonight Show, bein' cute and funny, thereby promulgating the notion that IVC is seriously kid friendly, like a kind of Irvinian Disneyland, but without Mickey or Goofy or Clock Towers.
So the IVC "brand" already tends towards a kind of "It's a Small World" vibe. But now we learn (at the IVC website) that IVC leadership have decided to cement the college's Romper Roomian reputation in Super Glue, cuz, through their efforts, the "First® Lego® League Qualifying Tournament" will be held at the campus on Sunday, the 13th!
No doubt we'll get lots of press.
According to a flier available at the college website, “each year, FLL identifies a real world problem that today’s scientists and engineers are trying to solve” (see flier).
I'm not sure what this year's "problem" is. I provide a suggestion above.


At one recent "Astounding Inventions" event, an IVC Chem instructor taught the children how to whip up C4 in their bathtubs. ("Listen, we all know they're gonna try an' make the stuff. They may as well do it right.")*
Irvine Valley College's coveted "Do-Bee" Scholarship Button  (Winners also get 250 bucks plus a jumbo jar of Cosgrove Honey) *
Typical "astounding" inventor : "My helmet--plus ducking and covering--will save you from the atomic bomb."*†
At IVC, delightful and infantile blue and white balloons are flown at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, "bouncy houses" can be found in the playground in front of the Student Services Bldg. I enjoy watching the students bounce idiotically.
At IVC, it is not unheard of for an instructor to send a student to a corner for a "time-out."*
One time, for some kind of "multicultural" event, officials provided a showing of "The King and I." (Oh, that's a different issue. Sorry.)

*Tea Partiers: here, I'm just kidding, OK? Send all complaints to IVC administration. All non-asterisked examples are quite real, however.
Actually, this urchin's invention is "The Human Lightning Catcher" 
It's IVC after all

Ryals, et al.: Teachers of the Year!

From OC Reg:

Kay Ferguson Ryals of Irvine Valley College, South Orange County Community College District, is congratulated by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, at the 2012 Orange County Teachers of the Year, awards presentation and recognition ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel.
With William M. Habermehl, County Superintendent of Schools (pics from OC Reg)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Don Wagner and Derek Reeve: scary especially to students

     For Halloween, The Liberal OC Blog has posted about OC’s Scariest Politicians.
     You will be utterly unsurprised to learn that former SOCCCD trustee Don Wagner and current Saddleback College Poli Sci instructor Derek Reeve made their top ten:
10. Don Wagner — Mr. Wagner, the state assemblyman from AD-70 often goes to a number of functions at Irvine schools which we find hysterical because he does so little to help OC schools in his district get enough money just to make state average. Despite a career in education. Mr. Wagner has fallen into his party’s platform of never ever raising taxes and gripes about teacher’s unions. We didn’t think it was possible for anyone to top Chuck DeVore in a lack of action to help schools, but Wagner has. Just ask IUSD to call on Wagner for help and listen to the screams.

5. Derek Reeve — This conservative council member is all about guns and offending Muslims. But for students at Concordia University, the plagiarism scandal over writing Reeve submitted to Patch.com that was lifted from other authors without attribution means you won’t have to worry about getting a bad grade in poli-sci if you are a moderate or a — gasp — liberal. In fact, if you are one of those and got a bad grade in a Reeve taught class, you have grounds to appeal.

Money talks; big money talks bigger

     Nothing new here. Still: fellow instructors, you might want to read Big Money Talks (pdf), a 2010 report of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which lists fifteen entities that, all together in a ten year period (starting January 1, 2000), spent $1 billion “on candidates, ballot measures and lobbying to influence the outcome of governmental decisions in California” (p. 4).
     On top of the list, as expected, is the California Teachers Association (CTA), of which our own SOCCCD Faculty Association is a chapter. (“Of the 15 identified groups, six are corporations, three are Indian tribes, two are labor unions and four are business associations.” P. 4)
     CTA spent nearly twice the amount of the second biggest spender on the list, the California State Council of Service Employees (a close third: the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America).
     As you know, teachers unions are widely viewed as the greatest obstacles to education reform in the nation’s K-12 systems. It seems to me that anger toward such organizations as CTA is growing among the electorate.
California Community College Locals and Contracts -- Shows all CTA (NEA) affiliates, CFT (AFT) affiliates, and affiliates of the CCI (The California Community College Independents) among California community colleges.
California Teachers Association (CTA) an affiliate of the NEA
Community College Association -- (CCA) The community college division of the CTA (NEA)
California Federation of Teachers (CFT) an affiliate of the AFT
Community College Council -- (CCC) The community college division of the CFT (AFT)
California Community College Independents (CCCI)
27 CCC/CFT/AFT chapters
44 CCA/CTA/NEA chapters
12 CCCI/Independent chapters

(Note: five chapters are for part-timers only)

     My own view (still forming, actually) is that, for both principled and practical reasons, we should separate from the CTA.
     CFT (and AFT) is probably less problematic (than CCA/CTA/NEA).
     But there's a problem: it appears that the (CTA's) CCA and the (CFT's) CCC are merging, something that's been in the works for some time:

Merger talks between CCA and CCC progress (CTA publication)

     What about CCCI? As you can see above, CCCI comprises about a dozen chapters among California community colleges.

Don't ask

San Antonio College Official Asked Student Newspaper to Pay Him for Interview (Chronicle of Higher Education)

     The student-life director at San Antonio College recently declined to be interviewed by student journalists unless they paid him, according to reports by the San Antonio Express-News and the student newspaper, The Ranger. The student paper had exchanged e-mails with the director, Jorge Posadas, but it also wanted a face-to-face interview to discuss the handling of student fees. In an e-mail to The Ranger’s student editor, Mr. Posadas declined to be interviewed but suggested that they could “set up a professional consulting contract” and “negotiate an appropriate fee.” When contacted by the Express-News, he said that his response had been “inappropriate” and that he had misinterpreted a request for budget information as a request for professional consulting.

Socratic Backfire? (Inside Higher Ed)

     …The Socratic style of teaching … is hardly novel. But experts say that while it remains popular in law schools, there are reasons many faculty members have never used it extensively with the current generation of students.
     "When done well, you simply do not impose the teacher's idea, and try to come up with a solution through dialogue," said Michael Apple, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. "In general, it is a guided dialogue."
     Supporters of the method see it as "a process by which you try to make the best logical argument and you focus on process as much as content,” Apple said. But he added that not that many faculty members use it these days. "The reason for its unpopularity sometimes is because we are in a test-based education system. Students can be increasingly impatient where the answer is not clear and when the professor is not giving it to them immediately."
     A lot also depends, Apple said, on who the students are. "It is controversial to some people, for example, students who are deeply concerned that they have to learn a certain amount of content and then take a test at the end," he said. Students may also think that they are being treated as if they were not very smart.
     Walter Parker, a professor of education at the University of Washington, said he teaches using the “Socratic seminar” method. He cautioned against stereotypes of the Socratic method, namely the depiction in the 1973 movie “The Paper Chase," which shows a professor giving harsh evaluations to a student, leaving the students embarrassed.
     "That is not the Socratic method," he said.
     "It is an interpretive discussion of a piece of text during which the professor says very little,” Parker said. “The professor chooses a rich piece of text and plans an interpretive question as he opens the discussion."
     This kind of teaching is more common in the humanities and social sciences, he said.
     The advantage of this kind of teaching is that students learn how to think on their feet, said Patricia King, a professor of education at the University of Michigan.
     “But it requires hard intellectual work,” she said….

Pet Lovers, Pathologized (Kelly Oliver, New York Times)

     …In the United States, we often see our political leaders hunting, particularly bird-hunting, which seems to demonstrate their manly fortitude and bloodlust — qualities intended to persuade us that they can keep us safe. Hunting has become a tool of sorts within the realm of political image making. With few exceptions, President Obama among them, most presidents and presidential hopefuls have been seen hunting. Meat eating, too, is an act used to portray strength. Obama is known to enjoy his burgers, a fact that has helped counter his image as a green-tea drinking elitist. Even Sarah Palin’s so-called new brand of feminism revolves around the image of a tough “mama grizzly,” as she calls herself, shooting and gutting moose to feed and protect her family. As she says in her memoir, “I always remind people from outside our state that there’s plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals — right next to the mashed potatoes.” But while politicians continue to channel “Joe-Six-Pack” by hunting and killing animals to prove that they are tough providers, animal lovers are often infantilized, pathologized and derided. It is true that White House pets have often become celebrities, but they are usually there for the children, part of the pretty picture of the all-American family….

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