Friday, April 20, 2018

In "an FBI zone"

     Got home late last night. There were two messages on my phone answering machine. 
     One was from the FBI. On the recording, a friendly and intelligent-sounding fellow, Special Agent E, said that he wanted to talk to me about some information I might have. He left his number.
     That was odd. I tried to think what this could be about. I came up with nothing.
     This morning, just after 8:00, I called Special Agent E. He answered.
     “Oh, great. Thanks for getting back to me so soon,” he said, chirpily.
     “Sure. What’s up?” I asked.
     “We got an anonymous tip that you’ve been posting on &#! (some kind of site), claiming to be the Night Stalker killer and the Golden State killer.”
     “I’ve been posting where?”
     “&#!,” he repeated.
     “Never heard of it. And I’ve certainly never made such claims—there or anywhere else.”
     “Yeah, I hear you. But we’ve got to run this stuff down. It's our job. Could you come down to the office so we can get your DNA? That way we can exclude you. We’d sure appreciate it!”
     “Yeah, sure, I guess,” I said. “But the County already has my DNA. Why don’t you just get it from them?” (Years ago, I got a big ticket—expired Drivers License—and was offered a deal: agree to add my DNA in the County system and the infraction would disappear. I said, “OK.”)
     “Yeah, well, we’re the FBI, so, no, you’ll have to come to our office and do it again.”
     We agreed that we'd meet at noon. The FBI office is in Orange, near the Theo Lacy Facility (jail). He said he’d call back to confirm. 
     After an hour, we determined that our meeting would have to be postponed to 1:30.
     “See you then!” he said. “If I’m not here, ask for Special Agent S, OK?”
     “OK,” I said.
     “And thanks for cooperating!”

     At 10:00, I left for a meeting of the School of Humanities. On the agenda was a demonstration of a contraption we’re supposed to use to move wheelchair-bound folks down the stairs during an emergency. I was looking forward to that bit of fun.
     During the rest of the meeting, colleagues expressed annoyance and frustration over various events and situations on campus. We're a pretty disgruntled group.
     I really laid into that cluster fuck called the “Guided Pathways” initiative:
     “It’s demoralizing, at this late stage of my teaching career,” I said, “to keep having to deal with idiotic and counterproductive state and accreditation mandates and initiatives.” I explained that virtually everyone—even the janitors—are being pulled into committees and workgroups to help develop “Guided Pathways,” which, we’re told, is only for “some students,” and yet this damned thing is obviously some kind of full court press, as far as administrators are concerned.
     “It seems clear,” I said, “that no one on campus has any idea what this Pathways thing is supposed to be or how it’s supposed to work. Many, including me, are sure it’s a massive waste of time and money. 
     “Again,” I said.

     At just after 1:00, I left IVC for Orange, taking the 5 to the 55 and then to the 22. 
     The FBI office is right across the street from what used to be called “The Block.” It’s in a dreary building that once housed ITT Technical Institute—no one has bothered to remove the lettering out front. The Bureau apparently keeps 110 employees there, though I sure didn't see them. There are 5 commercial tenants in the building.
     I went up to the second floor and followed a sign. I found a door to the FBI reception area. It was locked. I looked around. There was a switch on the wall. I flipped it. After a few seconds, I heard a voice over an intercom.
     “What’s your name?”
     I gave it and the unseen Fed remotely unlocked the door. Upon opening it, I confronted a large metal detectorthe kind you see at Federal buildings and courthouses. I walked through it to a smallish waiting room. The receptionist was standing behind a glass wall and counter. Through the glass, he asked me to sit down and wait.
     I looked around a bit. There were several “most wanted” posters on a wall. Very cool. One posting explained that those who enters “an FBI Zone” must have no camera equipment, recording equipment, wi-fi equipment, or any kind of electronics. 
     I didn’t have any of that.
     Pretty soon, Special Agents E and S came out and greeted me. They were informally dressed and friendly. We shook hands and smiled. They had me walk through the metal/gun detector again. They asked me to removed my keys. Metal was detected again.
     “It’s OK,” said Agent S.
     They had me sit down where I had been sitting (outside, I guess, the “FBI Zone”). 
     “This’ll only take five minutes,” said Agent S. Agent E started fumbling with the DNA equipment. There were three swabs.
     “Have you heard about these crimes?” asked Agent S.
     “Didn’t they catch the Night Stalker years ago? He died in prison, right?” I said.
     Agent E stuck a swab into my right cheek.
     “Yeah, but this crime concerns the original Night Stalker, who's also called the Golden State Killer.”
     According to Wikipedia,

     The Golden State Killer is a media epithet for an unidentified serial killerserial rapist, and serial burglar who committed 50 rapes in Northern California during the mid-1970s and murdered 12 people in Southern California from 1979 through 1986. Other monikers include the Original Night Stalker, East Area Rapist, the East Bay Rapist, and the Diamond Knot Killer.
     The crimes initially centered on the then unincorporated areas of CarmichaelCitrus Heights and Rancho Cordova, all east of Sacramento, where at least fifty women were raped between June 18, 1976, and July 5, 1979. ... In 2001, several of the Northern California rapes were linked by DNA to murders in Southern California. All of the DNA-linked assaults occurred in Contra Costa County but the distinctive modus operandi (MO) of the rapist makes it very likely the same man was also responsible for the attacks in the Sacramento area. His last known crime, the only one after 1981, took place in 1986.
     The Golden State Killer has never been apprehended….

     “Do you have any idea why someone would accuse you of claiming to be this killer?” asked Agent S.
     “It could be political,” I said. I told Agents E and S about publishing a newsletter years ago (Dissent) that criticized the college President where I work—and the corrupt faculty union that placed a group of right-wing morons—Steve Frogue, John Williams, Dorothy Fortune, and Teddi Lorch—on  the district Board. I made some enemies, I guess (I said). At one point, someone “informed” the board that I was a fraud; I had no Philosophy degree. On another occasion, someone sent sex equipment to my office. 
     The IVC cops got quite a kick out of that.
     Special agent E—a lawyer, S told me—stuck a swab into my other cheek. I waited.
     “Nowadays," I said, “I’ve got a blog, and I’m guessing that some reader got steamed about my criticisms of our current college president, a real jackass.”
     “A real jackass, eh?" said E.
     "Yeah. A real jackass."
     "Maybe it’s an ex-student?” asked S.
     “Naw, don’t think so,” I said. 
     After a few seconds I suggested that it's a shame that the FBI has to waste its time with these so-called “tips.” 
     “Well, we’ve got to check ‘em all out,” said Agent S. “It's our job.
     “It would be kinda ironic,” I said, “if I were this killer. I teach Ethics and I’m a goddam Eagle Scout.
     S looked at me.
     “So you know how to tie knots,” said Agent S.
     “Well, yeah. Fucking Boy Scout knots.”
     It was an odd moment. Agent E poked me with one last swab.
     The moment passed. The two agents thanked me again and I got up and walked to the door, careful not to bump into the massive metal detector.
     “It’s been exotic,” I said. “Good luck finding your killer.”

     I headed downstairs and stood just outside the building, near where it says “ITT Technical Institute,” not “FBI.” 
     It was a beautiful day. Just to the left, I could see the CashCall building towering before me. 
     It’s pretty damned ugly, that "CashCall."
     I could also see the Crystal Cathedral a mile or so off to the west. My in-laws came to OC once—maybe 25 years ago—and made a point of visiting that stupid place.
     The Crystal Cathedral went bust. Nowadays, it’s owned by the Roman Catholic Church. They're calling it "Christ Cathedral."
     “More assholes,” I thought.     

     A couple hours later, I briefly spoke with my little bro, who came to watch over my mom tonight.
     I told him my FBI story. 
     He was amazed.
     "I used to work in that building," he said, after a while.
     "You mean the 'ITT Technical Institute' building?"
     "Yeah. I recall that ugly CashCall building across the street."
     "And that stupid Crystal Cathedral?"

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

IVC's new "School of IDEA." We kid you not.

200 people "came together." It was "spectacular"

     We here at IVC received this email today from the President's Office:
South Orange County Community College District Dedicates First Building at the Advanced Technology and Education Park

Officially Marking the Opening of Irvine Valley College’s School of Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation (IDEA) 
Over 200 people came together to mark the grand opening of the Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation (IDEA) building at the Advanced Technology and Education Park (ATEP) in Tustin. Following the ceremony, guests interacted with exhibits from community partners and programs within the School of IDEA.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to today’s spectacular event. The event would not have been possible without the teamwork that took place. It truly was an effort of the entire college and district to get the building ready for the celebration. 
     So was it the opening of the School? Or the opening of the building for the School?
     As usual, the President's Office doesn't know the difference. And doesn't care.
     Whose idea was it to name the new School (and building) "IDEA"? Glenn?
     Bad IDEA.
     I recall much groaning about that moniker at Academic Senate meetings a while back.
     There's a rumor that Saddleback's new building out at ATEP will house the new School of WTF. They haven't yet decided what the letters stand for.

A "filmmakers' village," but not at ATEP - DtB, December 2, 2011

Secret ugly stuff

Enquiring minds wanna know: just what is going on at the SOCCCD?
Actually, it was a Tuesday MORNING:

It must be great having principles

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