Thursday, June 28, 2018

Miraculous noise

I hand you my ball and chain
You just hand me that same old refrain
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling

I wish I could please you tonight
But my medicine just won't come right
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling

Too many steps to take
Too many spells to break
Too many nights awake
And no one else
This grindstone's wearing me
Your claws are tearing me
Don't use me endlessly
It's too long, too long to myself

Where's the justice and where's the sense?
When all the pain is on my side of the fence
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling

Too many steps to take
Too many spells to break
Too many nights awake
And no one else
This grindstone's wearing me
Your claws are tearing me
Don't use me endlessly
It's too long, it's too long to myself

It scares you when you don't know
Whichever way the wind might blow
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling

When I was a kid, Feliciano lived up the street. But I never saw him, and I'm sure he never saw me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What Socialists were trumpeting in 1906: think "Bernie Sanders" and "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez"

Ida Crouch-Hazlett, 1904
     Here's my latest post on the Family Jenni Blog. It concerns the existence of a Socialist Party and a Socialist newspaper, in Central Montana, in the early decades of the 20th Century: "Conflict within the ranks": the emergence and disappearance of Socialism in early Twentieth-Century Montana

     Anyone who skims or peruses old Central Montanan newspapers from around the turn of the (19th) century cannot avoid noticing that the denizens of that region were (they still are!) mighty conservative—as in "classical liberal" or "libertarian." True, the conservative and dominant Fergus County Argus had competition, for a time, from the Fergus County Democrat, but these Democrats were not socialists.
     But, as its turns out, socialism did emerge—and soon fade—in Montana during the first two or three decades of the Twentieth Century, and it turns out that Lewistown, of all places, was the locus of the state's first socialist newspaper!.... READ MORE

It's a Barnum and Bailey world...

No, the Supreme Court Won’t Stop a Runaway President (Politico)
The travel-ban ruling today contained a strong rebuke to Trump—but a warning to anyone expecting the Court to be a last line of defense.
June 26, 2018
     The Supreme Court’s decision upholding President Trump’s travel ban on Tuesday came with a number of interesting wrinkles. It contained an implicit rebuke of Trump’s motives in signing the order, even though it let the order stand. And it repudiated Korematsu vs. United States, a discredited 1944 decision that allowed the U.S. to send Japanese-American citizens to internment camps during wartime, even as it upheld a policy with a discriminatory motive on grounds similar to that 70-year-old ruling….
. . .
     … Sometimes the Court is willing to deem a government action constitutional by pretending that the government’s underlying purpose was something acceptable, rather than something forbidden. And sometimes the Court decides that even if a governmental action is or might be fully unconstitutional, there's simply nothing to be done about it by the justice system. In other words, the Court sometimes lets unconstitutional behavior stand. If Tuesday’s decision is read closely, it is possible to see both of those limits at work. Indeed, it is reasonable to read the opinions to mean that at least five Justices, not just the dissenting four, believe the President acted unconstitutionally in proclaiming his travel ban. But just because something is unconstitutional doesn’t mean that the Court will strike it down.
     Consider first the majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, which found a way to acknowledge the President’s unconstitutional motivations without concluding that the policy itself was unconstitutional. Roberts’s opinion spent no less than a page and a half chronicling some of Trump’s statements, as a candidate and as President, suggesting that the travel ban is motivated by anti-Muslim animus. (The ban, which restricts travel from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea, is the third version of an order that originally applied only to a group of Muslim countries.) An anti-Muslim motive would make the ban unconstitutional under the First Amendment, which forbids the government to disfavor particular religions. But that’s not what Roberts ruled. In the end, the Chief Justice decided for the President on the theory that the policy “can reasonably be understood to result from a justification independent of unconstitutional grounds.” This is what constitutional lawyers call the “rational-basis test”: even if the actual reason the ban exists is rooted in an unconstitutional motive like religious bigotry, the Court will let the ban stand if the judges can imagine some legitimate interest that could have motivated the order….

"I'm Jimmy Carl Black and I'm the Indian of the group."

The Wassman case is finally over

     Some of you might remember the issue, several years ago, concerning a tenured IVC Librarian, Carol Wassman, whose conduct became a problem for the college. Ultimately, she was fired. Her firing led to a lawsuit, which Wassman lost in 2016. She appealed. She lost that too. The opinion was filed two weeks ago (it became available for publication on the 21st).
     I know about the latter filing because, tonight, I somehow happened upon the recent opinion on a site called “Justia.” Not sure how that happened.
     You can find it here:
Justia Opinion
     Justia provides a summary:
The South Orange County Community College District (the District) dismissed Carol Wassmann from employment as a tenured librarian at Irvine Valley College (IVC) in April 2011. Several years later, Wassmann obtained a right to sue notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and brought this lawsuit against the District, Karima Feldhus, Robert Brumucci [sic], Glenn Roquemore, Lewis Long, and Katherine Schmeidler. Wassmann, who is African-American, alleged causes of action for racial discrimination, age discrimination, and harassment in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), intentional infliction of emotional distress, and two other causes of action (not relevant here). The trial court granted two motions for summary judgment: one brought by the District Defendants and the other brought by Long and Schmeidler, on the ground the FEHA claims were barred by res judicata, collateral estoppel, or failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action was barred by res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the statute of limitations. Wassmann appealed, but finding no reversible error in the grant of summary judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed.
     I looked over the opinion, filed 6-12-18. Here’s some info based on that reading:

     Back in 2010, Wassman’s dean (Feldus) tried to deal with what she judged to be Wassman’s unprofessional conduct. Here’s the beginning of the section of the opinion that discusses that alleged conduct:

     (The section describing the struggle to curb W’s [alleged] excesses is long and remarkable. I won’t go through all of that here. See the above link.)
     During this period, Wassman, as a member of the Faculty Association (union), was represented by two union officers: L Long and K Schmeidler.

     I was a friend of Carol’s, having gotten to know her on the Senate. At some point, I met with her and urged her to accommodate the dean to keep her job. I gently suggested that, if she lost her job and sued, she would not likely prevail. (I felt strongly that she didn't have a leg to stand on. Her conduct, what I knew of it, struck me as very unprofessional.)
     She was not disposed to take such advice. "You can't afford to lose this job," I told her. (I knew something about her circumstances.) But she was unmoved.
     Ultimately, Wassman was dismissed as a tenured librarian. That was on April 2011.

     Wassman filed her lawsuit Dec 2013.
     District defendants: [Dean] Feldus, [Vice Chancellor] Bramacci, [IVC President] Roquemore
     FA defendants (!): Long and Schmeidler.

     Ultimately, Wassman offered six causes of action. (1) age discrimination, (2) racial discrimination—disparate treatment, (3) harassment (hostile environment), (4) wrongful termination, (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (6) unfair business practices.
     1, 2, 4, and 6 were applied to district defendants (i.e., Feldus, Bramucci, Roquemore).
     3 and 5 were applied to all defendants (i.e., union officers Long and Schmeidler too).

     Next: unsurprisingly, district defendants (Feldus, et al.) filed a motion for summary judgment. Long and Schmeidler also filed such a motion. This is a request that the court summarily deal with the case instead of going through all the trouble of a long trial. (I—i.e., my lawyer—made the same move in my 1st Amendment suit against the district in 1998.)
     The trial court granted both motions.
     That was a victory for defendants, a major loss for Wassman.

     With regard to the district defendants: causes 1, 2, 3 were barred for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and “res judicata,” which, according to my Mac’s dictionary, is “a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court and may not be pursued further by the same parties.”
     Cause 5 failed because it was derivative of the above 3 causes, and because of the statute of limitations.
     For L and S:
     Cause 3 was barred for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
     Cause 5 failed because it was derived from the first three and because of the statute of limitations. Also, for technical reasons (incompetence of filing), Wassman had not actually managed to oppose L and S’s motion.

     Wassman appealed.
     At the end of the appeals process, the original judgment was affirmed.
     Well, again, if you're interested in the details, go here: Justia Opinion
     Situations like this cause administrators to adopt a slew of unfortunate CYA behaviors.
     Can't really blame 'em, I guess. Litigation is hell. People start saying amazing things at you. It's hard to process that. You kinda get used to it, I guess, but still....

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