Justice, Where Fore Out Thou?

Please read this gut-wrenching article and sign Michael Moore’s petition.

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34332-michael-moore-is-right-michigan-gov-rick-snyder-has-to-go

After seeing two amazing movies this weekend that point to scathing misdeeds of the Church (in the movie “Spotlight”) and of the horrors of the bankers gutting our personal savings and pillaging the U.S. Treasury via their sub-prime and C.D.O. scams (in the movie “The Big Short”), I’ve been thinking about how all of these powerful and relentlessly greedy people continue without remorse and with no justice ever serving them.

In this particular exposé linked above, the central points that sound an alarm for me with regard to a horrific situation at the college I teach at, City College of San Francisco:
The whole story starts back in 2011, when a new financial emergency management law in the state took effect, allowing Governor Snyder to unilaterally ignore democratically-elected mayors and city councils, and appoint little dictators called “emergency managers” in cities and districts that were in financial trouble.
In other words, it gave Governor Snyder the authority to appoint city dictators to “cut costs” and “balance budgets.”

The A-HA moment for me!

Many outside interim administrators and two special Trustees have been sent to “fix” alleged problems at my college that have only turned it completely upside down and inside out. Several news stories have recently surfaced  regarding wrongful expenditures by our former Chancellor who was placed in power by the State Chancellor’s Office and the Special Trustee With Extraordinary Powers (yes, that was his title). The Special Trustee was empowered to oversee the college alone while our democratically-elected and deposed Board of Trustees had to sit on the sidelines,  not even being allowed to meet. (rings of Michigan, no?)

A new financial system was put into place by an Interim Vice Chancellor of Financial Affairs that was supposed to create a “proper system” that had (allegedly) been lacking at CCSF (according to a Financial Crisis Managment Report that bears the signature of this new VCFA when he was at another college!).  This report was found to be riddled with errors, but the then “emergency manager” who was our first interim Chancellor refused to call out the errors allowing a wrong assessment to be used against us to this very day.

With all of the new, strictly-managed financial systems in place,  how were the two outsiders from Houston (the aforementioned former Chancellor and President) allowed to spend lavishly on themselves with trips abroad, expensive meals, and purchases for themselves that were not for the college?  Where was the financial control over them?  (I know that, like me, many of the faculty experienced difficulty in being reimbursed promptly for expenses that were owed to us from attending various  conferences and such. We had to pay up front for the conference fee, travel, and hotel, only to be forced to wait 5-months or more for reimbursement.)
“Emergency Managers” put into place do not have the best interests of the institutions nor constituents that they are supposed to serve at heart. They empowered for a brief time and bestowed with huge salaries, extra perks such as housing and vehicle costs, and double-dipping into pension programs that are covered by the taxpayers.

Average americans have been RIPPED OFF LONG ENOUGH!

I have been thinking a lot about not only our situation at CCSF, but about America’s “institutions”, and how it’s tough these days to find even ONE that bears any resemblance to honesty and truth.  The underserved and the middle class have been cut off at the knees and continue to drown in a cesspool of greed caused by corrupt City Planners, Mayors, Governors, Congressmen, Chancellors, Presidents, and even Judges, who allow the snakes of the mega-corporations to control all of it.

OVER IT_Dana

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.  (And guess what?  For 2016, I’ve added a new one!  Surf over to DanaJae.com and let me know what you think!  I’ve been tinkering there for a little while…)

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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BOOKS, Beautiful Books and Stores

It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Santorini to check out this “Most Beautiful Bookstore on Earth“. Check the link for a great story and gorgeous photos of this great wonder of the world.  I like to travel and hope

Atlantis Books

to make it there before they are forced to move from their lovely cave containing words.

Since it takes time and money to go so far, let’s jump on over to Berkeley, CA to check out Half Price Books. Not only do they have a fantastic collection of books and music to sell for a great discount, but they also have the most amazing intellectual tchotchkes and a great BLOG to boot!  If you want something to do this winter, just check out the blog and the plentiful previous posts on all things books.  WOO!  GEEKS UNITE!  Where else can you buy a “Watch Your Rights Vanish” on a heat-sensitive Disappearing Civil Liberties mug?

Disappearing Civil RightsIMG_0566

OK, as it turns out – lots of places online, but GO to the bookstore!  It’s such a FUN place to shop!

Our next stop takes us to Green Apple Books on Clement Street in San Francisco…I have NEVER been able to set foot in that store without buying something. They, too, have an excellent collection of educational tchotchkes for sale which pull me in every time.  I can’t even eat in the neighborhood without hearing the magnet-like pull of the store beckoning me in the door.

Try a walk down the main street of the wee Half Moon Bay and you’ll find FOUR bookstores!  Harbor Books and Gallery at the little HMB airport featuring a great local selection of books on waves, Mavericks,  art, California painters, and more. There are many hours to spend at Coastside Books, Inkspell Books, and oh my!  NO!  The cozy Ocean Books has closed!  (sad face, downturned mouth) And then there were three…

I’m swimming in books that I have no time to read and yet, I still buy more.  Perhaps I am a bit like the character in Richard Matheson’s  I Am Legend, a novel published in 1954 and adapted into four feature-length films, “The Last Man on Earth” featuring Vincent Price (1964),  “The Omega Man” featuring Charleton Heston (1971), and “I Am Legend” featuring Will Smith (2007).

Can you think of anything more HUMAN than books and writing?

OK, music.

UM, and art…

Dancing?  Yes, dancing is cool, but LOTS of creatures can dance!  Check out this interesting article on the findings of UC Santa Cruz researchers!

OK, I’ve got a few hundred books to read and it’s just about winter break.  WOO!   Until next time…

 

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My Happiness Receives A Daily Jolt of Somber

It seems as though I can no longer feel a full 24-hours of happiness. I have never been prone to a bleak attitude and am adept at showing “the tears of a clown” when in public for the want of making others happy by keeping any sadness I feel from them. But not as of a few years ago when my beloved workplace took a hairpin turn to the right throwing off everything and everyone into several tumultuous years that show little sign of self-correcting the negative flow of constant overwork.

Yesterday, I played the song “Yes, We Can Can” by Allen Toussaint demonstrating the 1973 version recorded by The Pointer Sisters in two of my audio classes, pointing out various sonic details in the song and how an audio engineer achieves these sort of things in the mix session. It kept me in a perky state all day as one class at 9a and another at 5:30p heard the great song, and I even sung it during the ride home after a 13-hour work day. “I know we can make it. I know that we can. I know darn well that we can work it out…” I had no idea until I awoke this morning that Allen Toussaint died last night after a performance in Madrid, Spain at the age of 77.  Somehow, I channeled him, bringing my students and me the happiness of his funk groove, great lyrics, and the sonic pleasure of The Pointer Sisters recording of it by Arranger, Engineer, Mixing Engineer, and Producer David Rubinson as Allen took his last breath on earth. R.I.P. Allen Toussaint.

This brings me back to another moment of somber which does not diminish the happiness I felt yesterday provided by the now dead composer, but certainly stepped on my groove for today, the 11th of November. This day usually causes a revolt in my heart as America celebrates Veterans Day because when I read the first line in the link provided:  “The mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) is to fulfill our Nation’s promise to Veterans for their service and sacrifice to our Nation,”  I think of my numerous students who are Veterans trying to obtain a promised education who have to come to me in embarrassment every semester with the reality that they can’t purchase certain requirements of the course because their check from the government has been delayed again. There is no delay when the government sends these soldiers off to war, but when it comes to truly caring for our Veterans upon their return, the U.S. government needs to take a good look at the O.V.A., clean house, and do the job it purports to in its mission statement.  Never mind that I’m a pacifist and wish that no nation need an army. I find the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. more akin to my spirit on this day: “”Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” Still, I thank those who have served and who serve now for what must surely feel like time in hell when we are at war whether it be a declared act of Congress or the multitude of covert wars our country engages in around the globe.

Peace out.

“…just like Pagliacci did/I’ll try to keep my sadness hid

Sad Clown

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On The Importance Of Being November

Hello, November 1 from the early and now BRIGHTER morning of 7 am. The return to Pacific Standard Time (PST) has once again boosted my spirits as it does in annual fashion. I’m awake, alive, stretched, and ready for Sunday! This morning at 2 am, I watched the digital clock on my hand-held spaceship slip back from 1:59 am to 1:00 am in a blip on the screen and heard the Halloween party people at the Dragon Lounge down the block on the corner howl with delight.  The Pacific Daylight Time zone is caput, and it’s the month that celebrates me.

Ancient civilizations flexibly adjusted their schedules to the sun as some of us do during the summer, so it’s not just that Roman water clocks scaled differently during certain months of the year, but the point that more morning light offers our higher brains (and our tending of agriculture) more time to shine.  A Wiki purports to Sir Winston Churchill having once argued that it enlarges “…the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.” There is a fascinating history of DST at this Wiki, and I suggest you read it for fun and adventure. Many a political fight has been waged in the U.S. around the inability to fully standardize DST throughout the entire country due to various benefits and drawbacks. The politics behind it (both for and against) are quite amusing and include reasons to accept the time change that hold Idaho potatoes and fast-food french fries accountable.

November, November a month like no other!  The Julian calendar month of eleven and one of four calendar months that contain only 30 days distinguishes this beauty from the others. It is one that my mother and I celebrated together in the happiest of ways: celebrating our birth month, week, and day; celebrating her sons on Veterans Day that they remained alive through their tours of duty; on Thanksgiving when we would dine with family to give thanks to our solid middle-class standing and the ability to have a special meal together even though it meant some travel at times.  Some other good bits about November gathered from several online sites and a Wiki on November:

These are only half of the available celebrations of the first half of the month of November and none of them include the wonderful Pacific coast chill in the weather!

While the Financial times press forward with headlines for Nov. 1, 2015, warning: “US Faces Fresh Russian Navy Challenge” (double entendre?) adding “…Increased Activity from [the] Black Sea and Med to Pacific,” and “Pyongyang’s arms drive is gaining pace”, I remain couched in my humble and deliriously over-worked folds of my brain, paying homage to my favorite month.

Alas, I’m off to visit Bunbury in the countryside and leave humanity to its own devices.

keep-calm-and-go-bunburying-2

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The Barely Possible Brightness of Teaching

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Speaking on behalf of many of my colleagues, I can say that we suffer vertigo.

Teaching brings forth a host of images and thoughts about the “higher calling” of the profession. Those of us who teach can, in fact, DO. The requirement in public colleges is to keep abreast of current trends in our disciplines, update our curricula, test, grade, evaluate, assess, modify, survey, and reassess, all in the squish beneath the presses of Big Data, while remaining inspirational to our students, of course. Classroom productivity levels must rise so that our tax dollars provide the most bang for the buck. The government wages war on its public educators with such vehemence and ferocity that there are days when I feel as if I’m in an ambush at the Battle of Cajamarca.   A day rarely passes on campus when I can simply arrive to do what I do best and for that which I was originally hired. Each week, underscored by a plethora of meetings to attend, surveys to complete, reports to read and write, then further meetings to assess the reports, drones on and on in a mind-numbing loop jokingly referred to as “Continuous Quality Improvement”–a perfectly Orwellian term if ever there was one.

Professor Dave Hill, the Chief Editor of the Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies at the University of Northampton, UK wrote in the introductory paragraph of his article titled, Class, Capital and Education in this Neoliberal and Neoconservative Period: “The current neoliberal project, the latest stage of the capitalist project, is to reshape the public’s understanding of the purposes of public institutions and apparatuses, such as schools, universities, libraries. In schools, intensive testing of pre-designed curricula (high stakes testing) and accountability schemes (such as the‘failing schools’ and regular inspection regime that somehow only penalizes working class schools) are aimed at restoring schools (and further education and universities) to what dominant elites – the capitalist class – perceive to be their “traditional role” of producing passive worker/citizens with just enough skills to render themselves useful to the demands of capital.”

The remainder of this excellent 25-page article provides a worthy read to educators around the free-market globe as he points to the overreaching agendas in education by those who DO NOT TEACH. One look no further than the opening lines in the Wiki on US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. His insipid professional history reveals the insidious truth about the person placed in charge to reform public education–a charter school-loving puppet who has never taught in the classroom. Early in his career, an investment banker buddy appointed him to direct a public education initiative that led to an eight year-long appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. His not-so-brilliant “Race To The Top” initiative and other plutocrat-inspired ideas as the U.S. Secretary of  Education appointed by President Obama in 2009, has left American educators in a state of vertigo. Thankfully, the National Education Association passed a vote of “no confidence”, asking for his resignation in 2014, immediately followed by the American Federation of Teachers approving a similar resolution.  He will step down at the end of this year, but the scorched earth that he leaves in his wake keeps this educator in a state of flux.

Thank you to my students and the classes I teach for giving me the breath of life and living that I need every day to push forward and onward for all of us.

 BeYourOwnLight
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Poor Rocky, Skipper, Shamu, and Migaloo

All living creatures give me a cause to pause as I watch how in their lives they do what they do. I have never felt dominion over them but rather see myself as one with them.

Today I saw an animal that caused my soul to burst.  You know that feeling you get when you see something that suddenly causes your insides to fill up and you can’t hold back the feeling to cry in a convulsion of tears?

Under a gray sky, I was walking home from my nearby post office, remembering a sweet animal interlude that I experienced a week previous.  A raccoon family had followed me for a few feet poking out of the shadows as I made my way up my apartment steps.   In the park that I live near, I heard loud explosions and crazy monster roars.  I had seen a movie poster in a shop window advertising various films for Friday nights in October and remembered that it was Jurassic Park blasting from speakers over 500 yards away beyond the trees and tennis courts.  I turned around and watched this little animal family stop on the stairs behind me, looking up at me as if to ask, “What the hell is that driving me from my home in the park? Why aren’t you running from those monster sounds too?” I spoke to them for a minute. They cowered for fear I’d yell something at them to shoo away, but I just told them in a soft-voice: “I’m sorry about all of that noise. It will stop soon.” It sounded like the final epic moment of the movie where for 15-minutes the horror of the family caught between the Raptors and the T-Rex pummel one’s auditory senses. The raccoons turned around and walked back into the shadows near the garage.

Back to the present, as I strode up one rather hilly street, I thought about how I would write something in my blog with that animal encounter in mind, and what I would say about us humans taking over every space on this earth in all physical ways including the sonic waves.  I then thought about how some of the mammals of the ocean have been found washed up on beaches with Marine Biologists attributing the increase in deaths from the Naval Sonar Testing.  “Seven times the speed of sound,” boasts the U.S. Navy testing their new sonic weapon.

The thoughts of my writing were blurring my eyes as I starred at the concrete and walked faster up the hill, but was abruptly thwarted by what I found on my trail. There on the sidewalk at the curb’s edge with its little head hanging over, I saw a lifeless raccoon with its little hands folded over the rim. I mentally collapsed in an onslaught of tears just as I am now, reliving the memory of moments ago.  I thought about their little perfect hands the rest of the way  home wiping the tears from my eyes.  Those incredible little hands…so much like ours.

baby-racoon-pictures-cute-animals-pics Raccoon hands

 

 

some research reveals:  Migaloo, and the 52Hz whale, and some other famous beauties of the ocean.

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