Monday, March 30, 2015

Sideways

No. Not the dog buried out front of the Tech tower. What we're talking about is a fine piece of Italian machinery, a car, a Maserati, that actually drives sideways. This must be a great feature for parallel parking.

And how do we know this Maser drives sideways? Because the Smyrna Police told us.

See, Smyrna and Cobb PD sent around six officers to get a probation violator who, when he saw the cops a-coming snatched the closest ride, the aforementioned Maser, and "tried to run over the cop(s)." But that story has some holes in it. To start with it would be the six bullet holes in the Maser since not a single one is in the windshield. They are all in the passenger side windows indicating that as the driver was attempting to run over the cop(s) he most certainly was driving sideways. If the cop(s) are to be believed.

And there is a problem with that because numerous witnesses say otherwise.

And by the time media arrived on the scene there were at least three Cobb County cops on site none of whom fired their weapon leaving the Smyrna PD holding the [body] bag. Of course the boys in blue are not talking and even left it to next of kin to publicly id the decedent. No indication why a small multi-jurisdictional platoon was called for to round up a probation violator or why that did not include anyone from the county where the violation occurred. And no one knows the sad owner of that crudely punked Maserati. In any event the story as it is being told so far does not add up.

Clearly something went sideways and you can be pretty sure it was not the Maserati. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shaggin' Wood

Under the boardwalk, down by the sea, yeah
On a blanket with my baby, that's where I'll be

out of the sun
[under the boardwalk]we'll be havin' some fun
[under the boardwalk]people walkin' above
[under the boardwalk]we'll be makin' love
Under the boardwalk, boardwalk!
Looks like we got some real shag lessons goin' on down at City Hall and the Poh-Leece is planning to shag their way on over to Myrtle Beach for an annual City-paid holiday. That's right, the Police Chief wants to build into our budget a junket for select officers to attend Bike Week at Myrtle Beach each and every summer. Now of course he is trying to fly this under the radar as "providing assistance" and promises it will be reciprocal. Yeah, right. Like Myrtle Beach is going to send over help for the Arts Festival or Lemonade Days--who wouldn't want to leave the Carolina coast for that? Or maybe they'll send someone who doesn't sell his badge for cars and trips. Or maybe the psychology is based on the belief that if we GIVE them a vacation they won't feel the need to parlay trust for tickets.

And you have to wonder, is Billy's Brigade going to fire up that APC and see if it is seaworthy or are they going to convoy all those nice new Police SUV's? Or is the host city going to provide our boys with all the recreational toys they'll ever want? Part of a reciprocal agreement where we let them cut donuts in the dog park with our ATV?

If our force is as understaffed as we're told every time Billy wants to expand then maybe we should be keeping these necessary members of our Police, charged with maintaining our OUR safety, close to home instead of sending them off on a junket, no matter how nice the destination. Seems like Billy should be solving cold-case murders, improving employee screening and moderating his hypocritical justifications for budget expansion rather than shaggin' the Citizens Of Dunwoody.

And it appears our new City Manager has another data point indicating an upgrade of Police leadership is past due. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Is In The Air

And Dunwoody's finest linear park is in bloom!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Post : Hire Education

A few months ago, there was quite the uproar in the higher education scene about Harvard offering a course on anal sex. Called "What What In the Butt", this was a workshop that was part of a greater "Sex Week" initiative seeking to help college students practice healthy and pleasurable sex.

Most of the comments about this course revolved around the topic. How risque! Many wondered if there were more worthwhile educational programs to which Harvard's resources should be directed.

And this is an interesting point. As part of a greater Sex Week initiative, this course was not worth college credit. Which is a relief! Harvard charges--according to its own website--$58,607 per year in tuition, room and board. What does that come down to? Let's suppose a student is taking 4 courses a semester. That's eight a year. So each course costs about $7,325. The Fall 2015 Harvard academic calendar begins on September 4 with the last day of classes being December 4. Now during this time you also get days off for Columbus Day and Turkey Day…but let's be generous and call it a twelve week semester. Each course then is costing $610 a week, which means--assuming you meet 3 hours a week--each lecture costs a little over $200. 

While between merit and need-based scholarships it's hard to say who, if anyone, actually pays Harvard the $58,607 per annum tuition, room and board it IS interesting to think of things in these terms. Is "What What in the Butt" worth the cost? Now, again, this was not a course for credit. And I don't want to pick on Harvard. As nothing lies or shocks like a statistic, here are some other courses from very well-respected colleges that may not be worth the price tag. 


School: Davidson College
US News and World Report ranking: 11 (National Liberal Arts)

Annual Tuition: $60,119

Course Title: ENG 472: Gossip

Course Description: Drawing on cultural studies and performance studies, this trans-historical and transnational course investigates the role gossip plays in literature, psychoanalysis, journalism, politics, television, film, and new media. The seminar foregrounds the imbrication of gossip and scandal with constructions of gender and sexuality.

School: Georgetown
US News and World Report ranking: 21 (nationally)

Annual Cost (from School's Site): $67,420

Course Title: PHIL 180--Philosophy and Star Trek

Course Description: Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? That's the plan. This course is basically an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments. The questions that we will wrestle with include:
  1. Is time travel possible? Could we go back and kill our grandmothers? What is the nature of time?
  2. Could reality be radically different from what "we" (I?) think? Could we be brains in vats?
  3. What is the relation between a person's mind and his functioning brain--are they separate substances or identical? Can persons survive death? Can computers think? Is Data a person?
  4. What is a person? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people "split" or are "fused")?
  5. Do people have free will, or are they determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what they wind up doing, while believing they have free will? Or both? What is free will?

School: Princeton
US News and World Report ranking: 1 (National Universities)

Annual Tuition: $66.595

Course Title: Freshman Seminar: "Getting Dressed"

Course Description: Princeton's own writeup on the course which includes: "The seminar is an inquiry into the social significance of clothing and a close examination of the relationship between clothing and identity in 20th-century America. To explore that juncture, students keep a literary sketchbook in which they record their observations about the ways clothing comes into play in the news, in their surroundings and in their own lives. The journal helps the students hone their powers of observation and learn key skills for examining the world."

School: Skidmore College
US News and World Report ranking: 37 (National Liberal Arts)

Annual Tuition: $59,942

Course Title: SOC 251: The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media

Course Description: The class will cover topics such as the rise of the disney princess, gender stratification, the hyper-commodification of childhood, transitioning to adulthood, what happens to Disney stars as they age, and a discussion on bisexuality, queerness, and the female body, according to the course description.

School: University of Pennsylvania
US News and World Report ranking: #8 (National Universities)

Annual Tuition: $66,800

Course Title: RUSS 125: The Adultery Novel In and Out of Russia

Course Description: The object of the course is to analyze a series of 19C and 20C novels (and a few short stories) about adultery. Our reading will teach us about novelistic traditions of the period in question and about the relationship of Russian literature to the European models to which it responded. The course begins with a novel not about families falling apart, but about families coming together-Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. We then will turn to what is arguably the most well-known adultery novel ever written, Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Following this, we investigate a series of Russian revisions of the same thematic territory that range from "great literature" to pulp fiction, including Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and other works by Tolstoy, Chekhov, Leskov, and Nagrodskaia. As something of an epilogue to the course, we will read Milan Kundera's backward glance at this same tradition in nineteenth-century writing, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In our coursework we will apply various critical approaches in order to place adultery into its social and cultural context, including: sociological descriptions of modernity, Marxist examinations of family as a social and economic institution, Freudian/ Psychoanalytic interpretations of family life and transgressive sexuality, Feminist work on the construction of gender.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pavement To The People

Have you heard? The City is planning to put about one and one half interstate lanes worth of sidewalk over by the Kroger shopping center in Georgetown.

And folks are pissed.

They don't seem to have much problem with really wide sidewalks, er, mutli-use trails on the bidness side of the road but on the more residential side, not so much. Rather odd. Seems like you'd want these multi-use runways where the people are and most folks round these parts live in a residence. Do you really want to play frogger on Chamblee-Dunwoody to get to that Live-Work-Play Expressway on the other side?

This Smart City is having a real hard time figuring out where to put all their pavement. Maybe they should do it the way they once did on college campuses across the country. First you plant grass. Everywhere. Then after about a semester, you pave the areas that no longer have grass. Because that's where folks are walking. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hall Effect

No, not THAT Hall Effect. We're talking about the now infamous test cheating scandal whirling about the now deceased Beverly Hall. That Hall Effect.

Most pundits are pondering her legacy. Will it be "Cheater in Chief?" Or will hollow excuses about how she didn't conspire, perhaps didn't even know (willingly or not) paint a prettier picture? Or will this be countered with "if she didn't know she should have," implying she raised the Peter Principle to levels that cannot be explained even by the Black At All Costs policy metastasizing in our neo-Urban PC public schools?

But it isn't about her legacy. There are much more important things going on here.

First there is the "perception of" culture that permeates government at all levels but is most odious in public education where one would expect facts, and knowledge thereof, to be highly prized. These days when it comes to public service (which is EXACTLY what public schools are alleged to be) reality no longer plays a part as it has been deliberately displaced by the "perception of" some reality. How many times have you heard a teacher or principal tout the wonderful education your child is receiving at their hands even when every objective fact tells you exactly the opposite? Why do they do this? Because it is significantly easier to convince a parent of an easily outed falsehood than to actually deliver on an educational commitment. And they've become so adept at the former and incompetent at the latter that in today's schools there really is no other viable option. Hence Bev's pre-retirement predicament.

Then there is the bureaucratic pyramid where success is defined by outrageous compensation, self-serving awards from your "peers" and undeserved ovations from your bosses for doing little more that putting as much distance as possible between yourself and the service your organization is supposed to deliver. In this regard it isn't about Cheaters Hall at all. It is about the fact that society has constructed a system that can do little else but create the likes of a Beverly Hall and given the very existence, let alone actions of the Blue Ribbon Committee we have become a society that will accept nothing else.

Perhaps there is something to be learned from the so-called not-for-profit sector. Remember William Aramony? The former head of United Way convicted for all sorts of malfeasance--rumored to be only the tip of the iceberg? Sound familiar? The one positive that came of all the bad behaviour permeating the not-for-profit industry, and like education it IS an industry, is that the public took notice and established watchdog organizations tracking how much of the money taken in goes out to benefit of the stated cause and how much is doled out in "administration." When you examine the cozy relationship  not-for-profits have with business executives who earn gold stars for "employee participation" then the fact that schools (unlike not-for-profits) are taxing authorities becomes an irrelevant distinction. Do parents have the courage to look under the highly polished rock of their children's schooling? Do they dare stare down the harsh truths and actually do something about them? Or, are the Bev's of the world right that parents much prefer a warm, fuzzy "perception?"

You may not like it but so far the facts suggest that Beverly Hall knew us better than we knew her and much better than we know ourselves.

Monday, March 9, 2015

'S No White

Ignoring pleas from The Other Dunwoody, DeKalb's most notorious Unnecessary Combatants refused the "Name Writ Large" contest afforded by our recent snow event and have instead continued to regale us with more public pissin' contests. Once again it involves Miz 'Laine's Termite Hatin' former Chief of Staff and yet another Ethics Board member. While the termite trauma involved Ethics Board Chairman John Ernst this time we're treated to belly buckin' with Robert Blackman. Why wait for the Fourth of July for fireworks, eh? Or so sayeth the AJC:
The spat occurred when Blackman questioned Lundsten about his allegation that Board of Ethics Chairman John Ernst had failed to be impartial.

Then Lundsten accused Blackman of being biased against him and said the ethics board member called him “slick” at a previous meeting in December. Blackman denied Tuesday he had called Lundsten any names. Lundsten responded by saying Blackman was lying, using a vulgarity [TOD: thereby doing exactly what he accused Blackman of].

That’s when Blackman said Lundsten could meet him outside.
Really? You sometimes have to wonder if everything local politicians need to know they learned in the high school cafeteria.
YO! Youse! Meese! Tree o'clock. Unda da bleacha's. Be DAHR!
No matter the source of this early onset Civility Alzheimers, this food fight slung some of the slop over to the Cool Kids' table where it has splattered all over Snow White. Miz 'Laine's successor ran on a commitment not only to the Big T but to also clean house, replacing all existing staff with her own. The naive amongst us assumed this meant not only riding into office on a White horse but also with a full set of Pink Slips. But the AJC report indicates the Chief of Staff is only on administrative leave, was not dismissed but has submitted his exit paperwork, end date undisclosed. 
Commissioner Nancy Jester placed Lundsten on administrative leave Thursday after an internal review. Lundsten has submitted his resignation papers to the county. He had already been planning to step down after helping Jester, who was elected in December to replace Boyer, transition into the job.
It is nice to know that the Chief of Staff is the one who is really in charge though the stated intent of "job transition" is baffling. What can Snow White possibly learn other than how not to do things and there is now sufficiently detailed public record that color commentary is unnecessary. Or perhaps having tasted of the poisoned apple provided by DeKalb's other wicked witch she feels inoculated and immune to the effects of even a full barrel of similarly tainted apples. Surely she's not channelling her inner Turing... Still it seems more prudent to sanitize the barrel and start over with fresh apples. Or maybe we misunderstood, jumping to the conclusion that cleaning house would be first order of business and should have known that removing the existing staff "after I take office" could well have been "quite a while after." No matter where this is along the political line that includes "it depends on what 'is' is" it is on that line nonetheless.

It didn't take much time in the political sun for Snow White to pick up tan lines. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Magic Numbers

If you are in need of "Leech Therapy" you need look no further than DeKalb County Schools--so long as the blood you need to hemorrhage is money. 

First DCSD is over-taxing county residents, beyond what is allowed by state law. This is a holdover from the days DCSD ran what is now Perimeter College and were allowed a tax surcharge to cover those expense. You may find this unbelievable, but when DCSD disposed of their college responsibilities they did NOT lower the tax rate bringing it into compliance with state law. Apparently they think they are grandfathered in as the only district allowed to flaunt this particular law. 

Then there is the fact that DCSD is notorious for pissin' money away on almost anything but delivery of an education to children in the classroom. Their educational results are so pathetic and their wasteful spending so conspicuous and ostentatious it would embarrass even the most corrupt and brazen third world dictator. These folks are the Idi Amins of public education. 

Has the State of Georgia done anything to address this? Yeah...NO. They have put in place yet another law requiring that 65% (a number they snatched out of the air, but there is no number you can pick to fix this) of the school budget be spent in the classroom. And what is the DCSD reaction? You might think they'd play some financial shell game that would make a money launderer proud. But they don't have to because the State gives them a waiver. That's right. The State creates a law and then says "you don't have to follow it if you tell us you don't want to." 

And that's just what our Son of a Son of a Sharecropper Superintendent will do and he will pontificate on how he's got the best interests of all 100,000 students at heart. It's time for a change. The citizens, the parents in DeKalb need to put in place a plan to cut that number by 10,000 students per year over the next five years. Then let the super spend 90% of his money, under waiver of course, on Phake PhDs in the Palace and 10% on overworked subs in trailers because at then end of the day there is nothing DCSD can do to save our schools. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snow In The Southland


Just not here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mourning A Passing

The ATLANTA UNIX USERS GROUP (AUUG), after thirty years of existence, has decided to bow to the obvious, fold its tent, and quietly slip into the realms of fond remembrance!

We have had a remarkable run for a Users Group! Our speakers have brought us an extensive range of "newest technology" and have kept our horizons widened.

Our members have provided each other great assistance over the years, especially during the "Open Forum" sessions. And at the heart of those sessions has been Brent Laminack whose extensive knowledge and hands-on experience with so many tools has been a pleasure to watch.

Another great aspect of AUUG has been its welcoming atmosphere! Whether an attendee was a "newbie" to computers or someone with years of experience, they have always been welcomed and their questions answered with a "positive attitude". Over the years many professional friendships have been created. This is one of the special legacies of our years of existence.

Much has changed since we first met in White Hall on the Emory University campus. In those days, 2400-baud modems were a "high speed" transmissions, most people had only 1200-baud modems, and signed into "bulletin boards". The universities and large firms used a great tool called Netnews to share information. E-mail was text-only with no graphics or attachments. It is amazing to realize how much has happened in the past 30 years!

Another big change has been the "demise"of UNIX! Linux has be- come the world-wide open-source operating system, and "UNIX" has all but disappeared (e.g. Solaris, AIX, etc. are now the commer- cial versions).

Therefore it seems that it is also time for the Atlanta UNIX Users Group to also disappear! There are other Atlanta-area user groups which specialize in the replacement technologies, and AUUG attendance has also dropped off, which is also a significant indication of how information can be more usefully obtained via the Internet rather than at a User Group. Speakers on UNIX-related topics are becoming more difficult to find.

After such a fine run, AUUG has much to look back upon with pride! But it is also incumbent to know when one's usefulness has passed.

However, one final item of business:

Recognition of 30 years of continual, dedicated, and exception- al support of AUUG by Brent Laminack! He was at the organization meeting at Georgia Tech in February 1985 when AUUG was formed by the urging of Gene Spafford (currently Professor and Executive Director at Purdue University), and Brent has attended almost every meeting in the 30-year history of the Group! His warmth, humor, and attitude of helpfulness has set the tone of AUUG and been a delight to all of us who have had the pleasure of his company!

Although the Atlanta UNIX Users Group may be closed, those of us who have been a part of its 30-year history have much to look back upon with pleasant memories, and perhaps on the first Monday of each month we may give a thought to all those fine years.