Friday, February 17, 2012

IVC's student Dissenters: Where are they now?

Delilah at center; Deb at right; circa 1998
     PAST IS PRESENT. Things got pretty crazy at Irvine Valley College and the SOCCCD in the late nineties, what with Brown Act lawsuits, accreditation spankage, State Chancellor’s Office fiscal warnings, Holocaust-denying trustees, and numerous 1st Amendment battles.
Delilah and friend
     STUDENTS. Some student leaders really stand out in my memory of that era, including Deb Burbridge and Delilah Snell, who organized student protests against the Mathur regime (see photo above) and, as a consequence of Mathur and the Board’s crushing authoritarian response, signed on to 1st Amendment lawsuits guided by the redoubtable Carol Sobel and Wendy Gabriella.
     I'm here to tell you that these former students have gone on to big—or, at any rate, good—things. Wonderful things.
     These days, Deb is a full-timer at Long Beach City College, a Professor of Life Science. By all accounts, she’s a blazing success. I've heard about her prowess in the classroom for years.
     And Delilah? Well, you can see her visage in yesterday’s OC Register:

Protesting harsh consequences to
speech enabling instructor, late 1999
Road Less Traveled moves to downtown Santa Ana

     For years now, Delilah has been a ubiquitous local leader of—well, I’m not sure I grasp the category. But her name comes up a lot with regard to all things green and sustainable. She’s into cooking and organics and DIY and crafts. (Recently, my sister has developed an enthusiasm for home-made, green household products, and she has managed to fall into Delilah's orbit. Seems like everybody does eventually!)
     And that, I suppose, is what her store Road Less Traveled is all about. It's moved to a bigger and better location; hence, the news story. Check it out (and see pic below).
     DISSENTERS. One of the best accounts of Deb and Delilah’s early “dissentular” efforts appeared in The Nation—in an article co-written by yet another standout among IVC students of that era, the stunningly energetic Sanaz Mozafarian:
Sanaz off Broadway (2004)
     Last year students, local residents and members of the Jewish and gay communities joined the faculty and staff efforts to challenge the board. In a rare show of Orange County activism, students Delilah Snell and Diep Burbridge gathered nearly 100 of their colleagues for a series of campus demonstrations, the first in the college’s near-twenty-year history. They denounced the hiring of [Raghu] Mathur, demanded the recall of [trustee Steve] Frogue and called attention to the possible loss of the college’s accreditation. The rallies attracted major media coverage. In response, the board, Mathur and their cronies claimed the students were “misled” by a handful of “disgruntled employees” and “leftist” faculty. Even freedom of speech took a nosedive. Snell and Burbridge were initially told to give twenty-four-hour notice before each demonstration and to submit to college officials for review everything they would be passing out. After meetings with the president in which they were accused of “misleading” others and hostile encounters with board supporters, the students were at first permitted one hour a week to hold their demonstrations. Soon it was reduced to thirty minutes.
Sanaz in a film (2005)
     Now the students, represented by the ACLU, are suing Mathur and the board for violating their First Amendment rights. According to the lawsuit, filed this past summer, the demonstrations were relocated from the center of campus to an isolated area where students were told to keep their noise level down. When the limits were questioned, students were told it was not in the “best interest of the college” to hold a longer protest in a more visible part of campus, given the “political climate.”
     The board’s actions are astonishing, but what is even more astonishing is that at a small commuter college, in a largely Republican district where most people never learn the names of public officials, these students cared enough to challenge injustice and are fighting to secure future students’ rights. So much for apathy. (THE NATION, 10/5/98 “What do students want?”)
Sanaz c. 2000
Dafna Kory
     It appears that, after the above article was published, Sanaz continued her journalistic career for a while (she seems to have interned for The Nation and the Village Voice and worked for the Independent Media Center) and then, I think, she briefly went into acting. (Not sure it's the same SM, but it sure looks like her. Same name, same face.)
     Don't know what she’s up to these days, but she seems capable of anything. (Possibly, she's gone into finance or investments.)
     We do get some terrific students here at Irvine Valley College.

     P.S.: DAFNA KORY. I just heard from Rebel Girl. She reminded me of a few other “dissentular” students from the late 90s/early 2000s, including Dafna Kory, who, I’m told, has hit the big time in the world of DIY jams (the kind you put on toast). She’s also an impressive independent filmmaker. Read about her jamology here: Jam Maker Dafna Kory Turns Hobby Into Thriving Business (Civil Eats)
D. Kenneth Brown
     KEN BROWN. Mid-to-late-80s IVC student Ken Brown eventually got his MA (at Claremont) and PhD (at UCI) and taught philosophy for us by about 2000, and he did a great job. At a meeting of the School of Humanities and Languages, however, knowing the risk and with nothing to gain, he dared to openly object to one of the absurd and unprofessional actions taken by of our then-Dean. As a consequence, said dean ceased giving Ken teaching assignments. (I was plenty steamed at the time.) In my book, that makes Ken an honorary "Dissenter."
Pourya Khademi
     A few years later, Ken landed a plum job at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I couldn't be prouder. (See him lecture: Virtual Persons. I've posted the video below.)
     POURYA KHADEMI. Yet another student Dissenter is the estimable Pourya Khademi, a wonderful professional musician, among other things. (I believe that he graduated from Cal in 2010.) Pourya played an important role in the successful SOCCCD 1st Amendment lawsuits of the early 2000s. Check out his wonderful playing in the video below.
Jason Davis
     JASON DAVIS. I'm not sure that recent IVC student Jason Davis is a "Dissenter," but he certainly provided this blog with lots of great pics and info over the years (including a flow of stuff from his two years at UCI). And he's definitely got a dissentular personality--or worse! He's working on a collection of writings (from his blogs) about his Iraq experiences. In the meantime, he's got a real job working for both as a writer and photographer. I have high hopes for the scarily multi-talented Jason.
     There are others, for sure, but I'll tell you about 'em some other day.

Diep (Deb) Burbridge in bio mode
Delilah Snell
• Students Defy Protest Policy (LA Times, 1999)
• Students sue community college district for putting restrictions on campus speech (SPLC, 2000)
• Suit Aims at Rights of Speech (LA Times, 2002)
• District Is Muzzling Free Speech, Judge Rules (LA Times, 2002)
• McNair Scholars Program Will Showcase Student
Research Projects at Summer Symposium
(PolyCentric, 2002)
• Meet & Eat: Delilah Snell, Certified Master Food Preserver in Southern California (Serious Eats)
• Delilah Snell Is a Patchwork Kind of Gal (OC Weekly)
• Project Small (Blog)
• The Imperialists (Sanaz Mozafarian, The Village Voice, 2000)
• What do students want? (Sanaz Mozafarian, et al., The Nation, 1998)
• Sanaz Mozafarian in New York on 9-11 (DtB, 2006)

Pourya Khademi
D. Kenneth Brown
Delilah's The Road Less Traveled

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Senate meeting: a "civil" discussion

Sunny Girl
     I’m too bushed to write a lengthy account of today’s senate meeting. Maybe tomorrow. For now, I’ll provide a brief and partial account.
     When we got to “my” agenda item (for it was thus described on the agenda), IVC Academic Senate President Lisa Davis Allen provided some background: that this civility thing started with a request from Chancellor Poertner, etc. Her comments were helpful.
     Then it was up to me to “present” my view. I reminded everyone that VPI Craig Justice had sent out the civility report exactly two weeks ago—with a brief introduction in which he stated that the document was for our “review.”
     I went straight to the offending sentence of the “Statement on Civility” that was included in the report—the business about how supervisors should be on the lookout for employee incivility and include such observations in personnel evaluations.
Sunny Girl
     I briefly described my own experiences with abuse of district policies, namely, the use of the district’s anti-discrimination policy to attempt to shut down Dissent back in 1998. Back then, I was called in to meet with the Chancellor, who looked right in my eyes and said that my use of “Mr. Goo” to refer to Raghu Mathur in Dissent was discriminatory. “How so? ‘Mr Goo’ is merely an allusion to Mr. Magoo,” I protested.
     But no! The Chancellor looked at me and said: “'Mr. Goo' is plainly an allusion to the term ‘gook.’”
     I kid you not.
     (Back to today's meeting:) I next suggested that, in my view, there likely are instances of bullying at IVC and that they should surely be addressed, though I could not see how a civility code would be helpful in that regard. In the meantime, I said, a policy that permitted disciplining of those deemed “uncivil” opens the door to abuse, to silencing dissent.
     After my "presentation," many senators (et al.) spoke, some noting the odd circumstance that union representatives were not invited to the December “workshop” upon which the report was supposedly based. Others emphasized the danger in allowing supervisors to wield so undefined a notion as "incivility."
     Dan R suggested that the approach to IVC's problems represented by the report was unwise.
     Eventually, Lewis Long, the faculty union president, assured all present that there was no way that the union would allow citings of “incivility” to become part of the personnel evaluation process. He also questioned the college's focus on "incivility," suggesting that we should be developing a statement/policy re free speech.
     It turns out that the participants in December’s “workshop” were rather surprised to see the aforementioned objectionable elements of the report. They (at least three workshop participants were in the room) seemed to say that Mr. Spevak, the hired gun who wrote the report, included elements that were not part of the discussions back in December.
     Jeff, echoing Lewis, seemed inclined essentially to leave the report (or at least it's problematic attachments 3 and 4) behind and to pursue a statement or policy that promoted safe and free speech rather than one that punished "incivility."
     At one point, even VPI Craig Justice stated that the “discipline” business in the report just didn’t belong there.
     Meanwhile, LDA insisted that, had I not asked to make the report an agenda item, the senate cabinet would have done so on their own.
     Well, that's reassuring.
     I briefly noted that the information vacuum that attended the release of this report for two weeks led to some discord and confusion that could and should have been avoided.
     Craig asserted, plausibly, that the report was supposed to inspire "dialogue," and it had surely done that. At any rate, we all agreed, I believe, that the dialogue that occurred at today's meeting was good.
     It turned out to be a good day.
     Well, there’s more, but I’ve gotta book.

The scourge of "reassigned time" was a union Old Guard preoccupation back in the day, as was homosexuality
As I recall, somebody had made Rich's life miserable on this day.  Probably the Chancellor.
I seem to remember that Andreea kept saying "moose and squirrel" to cheer him up. Didn't work.

OCC's Hearlson back in the news

     Michelle Woo of Navel Gazing reports that, according to at least one student, right-wing Orange Coast College Poli Sci Professor Ken Hearlson is spouting off indecorously in class:

Student Claims OCC Professor Ken Hearlson Wrote "Gays are Racist" on White Board During Class
     …[18-year-old Ali] Azarifar claims that political science professor Ken Hearlson made several anti-gay remarks in his U.S. government lecture on Feb. 7, the day of the [Prop 8] court ruling. Some of the alleged comments include:
     "Being gay is a sin."
     "No one voted no on Prop 8 because gays are racist."
     "Soon, all of the U.S. will be illegal for the gay community to marry."
     "Gays don't go to black churches because they are racist."
. . .
     In 1998, a student said that [Hearlson] told his class that if a homosexual ever taught his child sex education, he'd "string him up by the toes and shoot him in the face with a .357 Magnum." In 2001, a week after the Sept. 11 attacks, Hearlson was accused of calling Muslim students "Nazis," "terrorists," and "murderers." (An investigative report said that most of the allegations were "unsubstantiated.") And in 2003, the tenured professor harangued college protestors at a peace rally.
. . .
     A gay rights supporter made this flier in hope of bringing attention to Hearlson. [Azarifar’s boyfriend, Nolan] Robert, who is active in the gay community, aims to start a larger movement.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The IVC civility initiative: "Roy Bauer will present his concerns" (What? They're not faculty concerns!?)

Will the IVC Academic Senate defend the policing of "civility"?
5th in a series

     Two weeks ago, an IVC administrator distributed a report that (it said) was based on the results of a December workshop. That workshop—an all-day affair at the IRWD “Duck Club”—was part of a larger effort instigated by Chancellor Poertner, who had asked the college to address some accreditation concerns.
     The latter request led to formation of something called the “IVC Working Group on Civility,” which first met in October.
     In November, a Sacramento consulting firm was hired; they provided a “facilitator” named Spevak. (He was the author of the report.)
     Spevak, the Working Group, and two guests (including to UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky) gathered for the “workshop” in mid-December (some members of the “group” did not participate in the workshop). They were tasked with brainstorming about episodes of “incivility” on campus and what could be done about them.
Will Hays
     As we’ve explained previously, one element of the report was a draft of a “civility statement” that included the following paragraph:
When encountering incivility, members of the IVC community are encouraged to confront it respectfully but directly and to intervene appropriately in situations where others are inflicted with uncivil behavior. Supervisors should call attention to uncivil behaviors of persons they supervise, and when necessary, note such behaviors within with [sic] the processes of evaluation or progressive discipline.
     Let’s call the notion that “supervisors” should note “uncivil behaviors” and include them in the “process of evaluation or progressive discipline”—the Disciplining Incivilitynotion, or DI.
     The report also included a “draft” of “possible elements within an … Action Plan on Civility and Mutual Respect….” That draft presented a list that included the following:
Send recommendations related to civility and mutual respect to the District for its related new or revised policies and procedures.
     Let’s call the action of sending “civility and mutual respect” recommendations to the District for the sake of “revised policies and procedures” the “prospective incivility policy” action, or PIP.
     At this point, I wish to draw attention to some facts:
  • Given that IVC’s “civility initiative” seemed to be, among other things, an effort to produce or clarify a basis for employee (including faculty) discipline in response to perceived “incivility,” one would have thought that the unions would have been included in the “Working Group,” or at least in the group that met for the workshop in December. But, in fact, they were not invited.
  • Evidently, it did not occur to those who participated in the December workshop to demand or ask that the unions be involved, if not immediately then in future. (I say “evidently” because I have heard nothing from any leadership, including faculty leadership—two academic senate officers attended the workshop—about this oversight.)
  • Board Policies have been wielded against vocal critics of college and district officials (et al.) previously. In 1998, I was called into the Chancellor’s office and told that a letter would be placed in my personnel file. It stated that, in my newsletters (Dissent and The ‘Vine), I had violated the district’s “workplace violence” and anti-discrimination policies. (I protested, but to no avail.) I was ordered to cease violating those policies in my writings. I took the matter to federal court and prevailed. Judge Manella described the district's actions as “Orwellian.” Judge Feess, who took over the case, stated that the district was stretching policies (one of which he declared unconstitutional in itself) simply in order to silence a “vigorous critic.” He said that my writings were plainly protected by the 1st Amendment. The letter was removed from my file. (See “Make things nicer!” and Roy Bauer’s 1st Amendment Battles or "One Gadfly, One Gadfly Swatter")
  • The civility report was initially distributed in a fashion that made it easy for faculty (and perhaps others) to overlook. I cleaned up the messy emailed copy and made the entire report available as a DtB post. I distributed the url to all members of my School. Among them is Lewis Long, the President of the Faculty Association (faculty union).
  • Upon reading the report, Lewis immediately wrote IVC administration, objecting to their failure to include union representatives in the Working Group (he called it a “serious omission”) and strongly objecting to the above-mentioned Disciplining Incivility (DI) notion among other elements contained in the “civility statement” of the report. (Lewis also noted the inclusion of reference to “training the recidivists” in the report.)
  • I am told that Lewis has now been made a “co-facilitator” of the Working Group.

Not long ago, the IVC Senate supported free speech and
successfully fought administrative & district overreach
—even in court! A golden era of senate leadership
     Last Thursday, I emailed the President of the IVC Academic Senate, Lisa Davis Allen (a workshop participant), asking if it would not be wise to agendize the inclusion of DI in the civility statement of the report:
I'm assuming that you are as appalled as I am by that paragraph and especially its direction that supervisors note "uncivil behaviors" "within the process of evaluation or progressive discipline." Might we therefore add an agenda item about this?
     In the five days since I sent that email, I have not heard back from her. But, today, I did receive the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of (the Rep Council of the) Academic Senate. Item 14 is the following:
Statement on Civility and Mutual Respect
H&L Senator Roy Bauer will present his concerns on the Statement of Civility and Mutual Concern [sic].
     My concerns?
     I’m not sure what to make of this. Am I to assume that my “concerns” are not shared by LDA or the senate cabinet? Dunno.
     I’ve apprised Lewis and the members of my School of these developments.
     And now I've apprised you, dear reader.

For previous posts in this series, see top of left sidebar.

What does academe think of speech/civility codes? The AAUP’s statement

On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes

     The statement that follows was approved by the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure in June 1992 and adopted by the Association’s Council in November 1994.


On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful or disturbing that it may not be expressed.

[R]ules that ban or punish speech based upon its content cannot be justified. An institution of higher learning fails to fulfill its mission if it asserts the power to proscribe ideas—and racial or ethnic slurs, sexist epithets, or homophobic insults almost always express ideas, however repugnant. Indeed, by proscribing any ideas, a university sets an example that profoundly disserves its academic mission.

...But freedom of expression requires toleration of “ideas we hate,” as Justice Holmes put it. The underlying principle does not change because the demand is to silence a hateful speaker, or because it comes from within the academy. Free speech is not simply an aspect of the educational enterprise to be weighed against other desirable ends. It is the very precondition of the academic enterprise itself. [END]

2003: VPI White forbade instructors'
discussing the Iraq War in the classroom.
(Some had been criticizing the invasion,
upsetting some students.) The matter
faded without resolution.
Ask Glenn about it!
     Of course, at IVC, as far as I know, nobody is being accused of racist or "hate" speech.
     Bullying seems to occur on our campus. I've made inquiries, and the most persistent claims of bullying seem to center largely on some, um, administrators.
     I'm certain that there are some in our benighted corner of the world who view me (or even my journalistic partner Rebel Girl) as a bully. After all these years of writing about the district and the colleges, I know this: some people at this college are remarkably thin-skinned. Criticize them to any extent, and they go apeshit.
     I recall a colleague who responded to my gentle jibes (really) about xx xxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx with colossal shriekage and accusations that I was endangering the existence of her program. (—It was something about how a certain trustee might find out that the xxxx of xxxx have some decidedly unconservative ideas! Ridiculous.) I reminded her that we worked at a college—that, in such a place, there can and should be disagreement and debate and dialogue.
     And, yes, there should even be criticism. Imagine!
     That seemed to go nowhere with her. My mild and playful remarks about xxxx were, to her, an assault completely incompatible with civility and, I suppose, civilization. (She's a Republican from xxxxx. Maybe they don't have free speech there. Could be.)
     Over the years, I have occasionally reminded readers that WE INVITE SUBMISSIONS FROM PERSONS WITH OPPOSING VIEWS. We always have done so. We do so now. We've often declared that we seek correction of errors—that we welcome a chance to set the record straight, if we have been in error. We've consistently bent over backwards in this regard. We really try to be fair and honest and to encourage debate (though not with loutish 13-year-olds).
     It is often said, and we at DtB certainly agree, that the best response to speech one hates is "more speech."
Years ago, a certain IVC administrator took this painting down because, he said,
its presence exposed the college to sexual harassment complaints/suits

Monday, February 13, 2012

Don at work

Bill puts $100,000 cap on future state and local pensions (SacBee)

     Assemblyman Donald Wagner has introduced a bill that would cap state and local pensions.
     The Irvine Republican's measure, AB 1633, would cap pensions for workers who don't participate in Social Security at $100,000 per year. Workers who do participate in the federal program couldn't receive more than $80,000 per year from a state or local pension….

O.C. lawmaker wants to cap pensions at $100K (OC Reg)


     MATHUR AS PARIAH. Seems like everyone but me attended Thursday’s memorial ceremony for Richard McCullough at Saddleback College’s McKinney Theater. Friends, including Saddlebackians, are telling me that the event, which was well attended, was all that it could be, marred only briefly by a couple of bigwigs who insisted on speaking, despite not being on the program (there was an opportunity for “others” to speak, a category apparently not good enough for said bigwigs).
     I’m told that, to everyone’s surprise, former Chancellor Raghu P. Mathur (who ousted McCullough as SC Prez) attended the ceremony, although I’ve been assured that, if you look up the word “pariah” in one of those illustrated dictionaries, you’ll see a picture of Raghu sitting alone in the otherwise packed McKinney auditorium.
     To everyone’s relief, the fellow did not speak.

"...low-level entertainers...."
     IVC DOES TED. Denizens of IVC just received an email from IVC President Glenn Roquemore announcing that,
On Wednesday, February 29 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., IVC will host
The Live Simulcast event will be held in the IVC Performing Arts Center.
     Um, what on Earth does all this mean?
     Well, according to Wikipedia, TED, which stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design,”
is a … set of conferences ... formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading".
     TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event and the conference was held annually from 1990 in Monterey, California. TED's early emphasis was largely technology and design.... The events are now held in Long Beach and Palm Springs in the U.S. and in Europe and Asia, offering live streaming of the talks. They address an increasingly wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture. The speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. Past presenters include Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners….
. . .
     Since June 2006, the talks have been offered for free viewing online…. As of November 2011, over 1,050 talks are available free online….
     TED grants licenses to third parties to hold free TEDx events in cities around the world.
. . .
     According to TED these franchised events were "created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level...TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis."
     I’ve been only vaguely aware of these TED conferences. I’ve seen some of these 18-minute wonders, and some of ‘em strike me as pretty dang flaky. They remind me of some of the crap we used to get jazzed about back in my college days. –You know, Bucky Fuller, thinking away hunger, that sort of thing.
     Naturally, TED has been criticized. Again, according to Wikipedia,
[influential Lebanese American academic and essayist] Nassim Taleb criticized TED for intellectual dishonesty and lack of substance in the latest edition of The Black Swan (2010). He calls TED a “monstrosity that turns scientists and thinkers into low-level entertainers, like circus performers.” 
     I don’t wanna be a stick-in-the-mud, but I’m guessing Taleb is onto something.
     But that doesn't mean that this TEDx event won't be fun.
     Well, here’s what’s on tap, TEDwise, in a couple of weeks:

     If you've got nothing better to do, you might research these speakers and identify those that are leftists. Then read the Lefty list at the next board meeting, being sure to highlight their leftular accomplishments.
     Then watch Glenn.
     What fun.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roquemorean tales, part 2: "principles schminciples"

From early 2008. Pressure group manages to force Rocky and His Friends
to take down all those flags in the Student Services Center.
Glenn Roquemore
"Irvine Valley College has removed the Vietnamese flag from an atrium display of flags from all over the world, in response to threats by Vietnamese immigrants in the area to hold a protest of what they view as an inappropriate honor for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, The Orange County Register reported. A spokeswoman said that the college was trying to be 'considerate.'" 
Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 27, 2008
SEE ALSO Roquemorean tales, Part 1

Corvino on Tuesday

*At Saddleback College
February 14th, 12:00 p.m., McKinney Theater
Dr. John Corvino - The Gay Moralist

John Corvino holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is the editor of Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science and Culture of Homosexuality and the author of numerous articles and opinion pieces, which have appeared in regional and national print media, at the online Independent Gay Forum (, and in dozens of journals and anthologies. Currently he is working on a book, Debating Same-Sex Marriage (with Maggie Gallagher) for Oxford University Press, as well as another book for OUP (yet to be titled) presenting a moral defense of homosexuality.

*From Social {Live} Events


EVENT: Feb 16: Jazz Ensemble Together w/ Guest High School
TIME: 8pm
DATES: 2/16/2012
DEPT: Music

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Over a at the OC Weekly online, Red Emma reviews Hector Tobar's The Barbarian Nurseries.

"Too many questions," says Araceli Ramirez, the protagonist of Hector Tobar's new killer novel The Barbarian Nurseries to her two young wards as the Mexican housekeeper from the South County McMansion (in what seems a lot like Ladera Ranch) and the boys arrive at the downtown rail yard loop where Amtrak passes warehouses, the Los Angeles River and Metropolitan Jail on its slow approach to Union Station. Brandon and Kennan Torres-Thompson, presumed kidnap victims, are on the adventure of a lifetime, assuming your life has been short, privileged and dominated by video games and fantasy-adventure series, here something called, perfectly, The Saga of the Fire-Swallowers, which sounds a lot like the various series the Bibliofella's young reader son consumes like popcorn.

Araceli has been employed by a wealthy family residing fifty miles south, on idyllic and hyperbolically-christened Paseo Linda Bonita in Laguna Rancho Estates (see what I mean?). She's been transformed, first from a complex, creative person with a rich past, a family, talent and artistic ambitions, into one of those one-dimensional shadow beings called domestic help. Then, with the two rich white boys in tow, she suddenly becomes a suspect perp in an Amber Alert drama with accompanying nativist-racist politics, an opportunistic prosecutor, the totally predictable (and not disappointing) media spectacle and the genuine if startlingly sweet curiosity of two children. Raised in the picture-perfect confines of the gated, gardened, upscale life, they ask her about the concrete river, homeless people, the whole concept of the city, as if their little big brains, so familiar with the virtual and the fantastical worlds, lack a place to put it all.
To read the rest, click here.


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