Monday, July 29, 2013

How Do You Like Them Apples?

A friend of the The Other acquaintance...Alright already...just a neighbor...became very interested in an apple, but not just any apple, he wanted an apple just like his golf buddy over in Sandy Springs had. Now this neighbor had never actually had a taste of his buddy's apple, but his buddy went on and on about how red and beautiful, how juicy and delicious this apple was until TOD-neighbor became obsessed. He had to have one of those apples.

He discussed this apple issue with other friends, colleagues, fellow parishioners and neighbors until many of them became interested too. To this day he contends that four out of five folks who heard about these apples became obsessed with having one.

As he now relates the story he and many of the other apple fans went to the market in Decatur and got apples--well in the interest of full disclosure they nicked 'em--and they were indeed things of beauty. All shiny and fresh. He took pictures of his and posted them on the internet for all to see.

His anticipation grew unbearable and it was soon time for a private taste of purloined heaven. He hesitantly sliced into that gorgeous apple anticipating the juicy, delicious treat he had lusted after for so long. Instead he found the flesh full of worms and at the center a decaying putrid core emitting odor so foul it brought tears to his eyes, breakfast revisited the back of his tongue, and the cat, known throughout the neighborhood for sharing the leftover portions of voles, fled never to be seen again. Try as he might he could not get far enough away fast enough. The former object of his adoration now made road apples seem like a delicacy. He was not alone.

Enjoy your apples!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tough Times Ahead

Straight from the AJC:
"Georgia high schoolers who performed poorly on the end-of-course coordinate algebra test given earlier this year will face another big challenge in the coming school term: a tough new analytic geometry course."
They continue by proclaiming this geometry course will include an end-of-course test of similar rigor to that of the algebra test that exposed such glaring lacks of student knowledge and teacher competence. But these tests carry no consequence for either and are consequently meaningless. Students move on to the next course steeped in ignorance and teachers get a pass on not being able to, well, teach. Officials console themselves with the predictability of the outcome but excusing the crushing failures as a direct consequence of some minor change in material sequencing, presentation or evaluation depicts an educational house of cards in an intellectual room of fans. Their advice? Don't touch anything, no matter how bad it is as this will cause it all to fall apart.

This isn't cutting edge knowledge chasing the latest revelations of the Large Hadron Collider yet the response is "more teacher training". Gobstopping, eh? Yes indeed, explaining that y=mx+b is fluid. It gets better. The Cobb County School Superintendent declares:
"We've had so many changes in math. That could have something to do with it. Our teachers have had so many changes in the math curriculum. They're so confused right now. We need some stability in math. If you keep changing it, it's hard to get everybody prepared."
Oh dear!

Just what was that college education all about then?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Propaganda Payout

When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me,
"Come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree."
"Don't put your faith in love, my boy", my father said to me,
"I fear you'll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree."

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

A recent visit down the rabbit hole revealed much unrest in The Wold. Not The Other Dunwoody, but in THE Dunwoody. The original one---you know, the funny one. If what the nuns said is true and disappointment is the result of unmet expectations then there's a lot of lonely expectations out there because they've yet to meet with anything resembling satisfying results. Or so it would seem.

And it is no longer the usual suspects that need to be rounded up and shot for not being pretty and not being proud and perhaps complaining just a bit too loud. We are now seeing disillusionment take hold amongst not only ardent supporters of citihood but also amongst those who took lead roles in the early days of charting the City's course. Some had already been dismayed to find that not everyone in Dunwoody thought exactly like they nor did many others find the need to change so many things simply because we were now unshackled from the chains of Decatur. And they were facing increasing resistance from a City Hall that was establishing itself as the sole power 'round these parts. It turns out to be much easier to grow a bureaucracy than a garden. And a brown thumb and someone calling "switch" comes in handy.

And this disappointment is not the result of incompetence, at least not exclusively, but rather because quite a few unreasoning folks believed what they were told setting expectations beyond any realistically achievable level. Under ordinary circumstances these "tellings" would be mere prevarications but when put to the purpose of manipulating an audience and used in conjunction with other contrivances to achieve an end completely divorced from the merit of the means then what we have is "propaganda".

One powerfully persistent misleader goes like this:
"81% of the citizens of the metro-Atlanta area where I called home had just voted to form the newest city"
Not all citizens in Dunwoody could (or can to this day) vote and of those who could a majority did not as the vote was held at a time most opportune for passage rather than greatest vox populi. But the lie persists in a strength and rap-like repetition that would make Goebbels proud.

Equally prevalent and more destructive are the chants of "local control" and "our neighbors". Like the others these are 81% false.

So now we enjoy the fruits of the seeds that were sown when any means necessary was brought to bear on the goal of secession. People are increasingly pissed off. Just like they were before we made ourselves a City, but this time they're not pissed at DeKalb, they're pissed at City Hall--for the very same reasons. A critical thinker would expect no less but had we a sufficient supply of those we'd not have the main ingredient for this bullshit bouillabaisse. Some say this Smart City maintains this deficiency pointing a Vernon Jones-like finger at those who protest and while these protesters are ineffective they are improving every day. But under no circumstances should those who fomented discontent be surprised that the army of World-War-Z-like angry zombies they created has turned on them. After all these shakers and movers worked pretty hard to become a local version of Decatur's dysfunction. They may have missed the mark creating "better" government but they were spot on when they said that voters wouldn't have to drive as far to complain.

Some say the zombie whiners are wasting their and others' time on something of little consequence and have rolled out the "Starbucks Defense" used by those who want to minimize the impression of government malfeasance by ignoring the aggregate and focusing on the "small amount of money/discomfort/inconvenience" suffered by individuals. Karma should be given greater respect.

Others claim that the zombie army is misdirected and that there are bigger fish to fry citing DeKalb County Schools. This is reminiscent of Kings of old who sent idle armies on Crusades lest they turn their swords inward defiling and deposing Kings and Court. But the decay of DeKalb County Schools is not a recent truth and it begs a question. If fighting the good fight against DeKalb County Schools is both noble and winnable why didn't all the City-Hoodies fight that good fight, that Crusade, against DeKalb County government? Is it simply that in their mind victory is singularly defined as "we're no longer part of DeKalb?"

It looks like we're embarking on another war against "Big Bad Dekalb" and should expect no different results this time around.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Honky Donkey

Our Gang in Honky Donkey
Come on Algebra,
this is no place for you.

Truer words were never said.

At least not in DeKalb County. "Algebra" is the schoolhouse equivalent of some banned barnyard creature not allowed under school zoning around these parts or perhaps some wild creature that cannot or even should not be tamed.

And it isn't like the rest of the state is adding up to a great success, but that only makes DeKalb the worst of the worst which appears to be right in our wheel house.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Whenever a government spews forth missives like:
The accompanying financial statements present the City and its component unit, an entity for which the City is considered to be financially accountable. The discretely presented component unit is reported in a separate column in the government-wide financial statements to emphasize that it is legally separate from the City. 

Discretely Presented Component Units
The Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau has been included as a discretely presented component unit in the accompanying financial statements. The Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau (“Bureau”) is fiscally dependent on the City as it does not have the power to levy taxes, determine its own aggregate budget without the approval of the City of Dunwoody, Georgia, or issue bonded debt and the City is required by contract to provide a majority of the operational revenues for the Bureau. 

Financial information with regard to the Bureau can be obtained from the Bureau’s administrative offices at 41 Perimeter Center East, Dunwoody, GA 30346. Separate financial statements for the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau are not prepared.
then you know two things:
  1. They're doing something they ought not
  2. They really don't want you to know about it
We all know that these quasi government bureaus are ripe for malfeasance as they are subjected to almost no budgetary oversight, public review or any form of mandatory transparency--as in "separate financial statements are NOT prepared". Wouldn't want the mere citizens to get a real clear view of what's going down downtown.

Then there is the redundancy of it all. Do not hotels perform their own marketing and wouldn't one expect them to do it well? It is a competitive private enterprise. And what about the the PR money we spend from the general budget on an engineering firm to polish our City image? How many groups have to spend how much money to convince someone that Dunwoody is a cool place? Perhaps the lady doth protest too much.

These CVBs represent little more than a grow the government philosophy of "we CAN tax them so we WILL and then we'll tax them more". Because there is really no public need to be met they piss the money away on friends, family and corporate connections.  Then the greed kicks in...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All I Can Hear

All I can hear I me mine, I me mine, I me mine. 
Even those tears I me mine, I me mine, I me mine. 
No one's frightened of playing it 
Everyone's saying it, 
Flowing more freely than wine, 
All through the day I me mine. 
The drive towards a City School System is no less relentless than the drive towards citihood. But due to citihood we know now much more than we knew then. Or at least we should.

  1. Smaller is better. With schools the thinking is with a smaller budget the magnitude of graft is proportionally reduced. But if it is only proportional then by any measure than absolute value it is the same. But being smaller while retaining many fixed costs drives the smaller system to seek alternative funding--think higher taxes or "grants". With the City smaller hasn't been working as well as expected.
  2. Local control is more responsive. Based on our Cityhood experiment it is only possible to believe in this unicorn when inebriated. As the City has handed over total control to the City Manager, the new schools will to a Superintendent, who will be equipped with the added power provided by a protective outside accrediting agency. In each case the elected officials, your representatives, will be operating exclusively with what the Manager/Superintendent provides, suggests or demands. 
  3. Local control keeps decisions close to home. What we have learned from the City is this notion is patently false. What happens is simple. The City sells local control to State and Federal agencies for grant money, often spending more than originally budgeted to provide matching funds to secure the grant. Local decision making evaporates because the grant requires more than matching funds, it also requires you do what the granting agency wants the way they want it done. In order to obtain State and Federal funding schools will hand over control of their curricula, content, evaluation and classroom practices as well as taking on burdensome meta-work. 
  4. They are your neighbors/fellow parents. The implication is that you and your neighbors are more alike than different and society's affinity for self-segregation makes that seem plausible. Sadly we have learned from our City Council that your neighbors can be really pissy little boys and girls.
  5. It's about the kids (or vision). Perhaps it will start that way but sooner or later it will increasingly be about money--the more we get the more we spend. But let's assume smaller is better and that includes school size--remember it is all about the kids. What happens when that runs afoul of the state's funding scheme that pays more for large schools? Will it still be ALL about the kids? Didn't think so.

And isn't it ironic that these lessons, easily and freely understood from our experiment with City governance will be forcibly pushed into the deepest end of our ignorance pool?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Learning At The Movies

Google Analytics indicates renewed interest in TOD posts related to the "let's put on a city" movements that have become somewhat reminiscent of Rooney and Garland movie plotlines based on children being ignored by the adults and "putting on a show" to get their attention and reveal to them the wrongheadedness of their ways. That the success of these B-grade movies was based on star-power is not the only thing about these rather horrid movies that aligns with our more recent city mania.

But there is a better, slightly newer movie that addresses the more realistic outcomes likely from these single-minded bowel-like movements.


And the great thing about this is that to understand what is about to happen to your life under the control of a fledgling little city you only have to watch the first part. Once Brody and Hooper board Quint's boat the metaphor changes. Now had the Mayor gotten on the boat and been eaten by the shark...but that would be a different movie.

But in the first half of the movie you sense not just the enduring believability of Spielberg's rendition of small town America but if you've been paying any attention at all you simply cannot ignore the direct correlation to some of your nouveau City politicos. The mayor who lives to serve nearly everyone but the citizens. The newspaper publisher who not only abandons his Fourth Estate responsibilities but further calls in favours to ensure others of his ilk conspire in his deceits. The woman speaking fervently on behalf of the struggling businesses regardless of the cost in actual human life including those of her "neighbors". The councilman who when badgered by the mayor to enter the water immediately reaches down to drag his grandchildren in with him.

It is as if Spielberg created the blue print for these new cities springing up around Atlanta.

So head on down to The Fresh Market and pick up a couple Mako steaks and some oil cans, head on home and pop a cold one, grill up some shark, put Jaws in the DVD and chill out while you watch your future. When it's over you'll need a little escapism, so how 'bout some Jimmy BooFAY to round out the day...
But now she feels like a remora,
'cause the school's still close at hand.
Just behind the reef are the big white teeth
of the sharks that can swim on the land.

Can't you feel 'em circlin' honey?
Can't you feel 'em swimmin' around?
You got fins to the left, fins to the right,
and you're the only bait in town.
You got fins to the left, fins to the right,
and you're the only girl in town.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What Would Lenny Do?

Those not living under a rock or imprisoned in Guantanamo have probably heard the latest earth shattering news on the Civil Rights front. No, not from the Supreme Court and not about Mandela. Turns out that a sixty six year old woman born and raised in the Jim Crow South has confessed to having, at some time in her life, actually uttered the Voldemort of Vulgarity -- the Derogatory Derivative of the Word "Negro". And it wasn't like someone put a gun to her head to get her to say it.

Now this News That's Too Old To Be New stirs up much emotion and greed, and on occasion a thought or two. Ponder if you will...
"What Would Lenny Do?"
Classic Lenny would book the Apollo Theatre and take the stage spewing that most Derogatory Derivative of the Word "Negro" until it had lost all its power to offend or he was reduced to a pale grease spot by an angry mob the likes of which are more commonly associated with Detroit winning the NBA championship.

That might be Classic Lenny, but Lenny, while not aligned with his times, was acutely aware of the times in which he lived. It is more likely that Modern Lenny would simply hop on the MARTA and armed with a smart phone take videos of those very people so quick to claim offense but who spew forth that very word as if an eighth grader filling verbal blanks and empty spaces with "like" or "you know". He would sample these into a hip-hop, beat-box satirical video sure to go viral on YouTube.

It is this unfettered non-offending use juxtaposed with oh so public claims of offense when used by others that makes this word both transcend racism and at the same time become the perfect embodiment of racism--new as well as old. And it defies logic even within the black community as it presents a conundrum so corrosive that it tears down many of the gains made by the Civil Rights movement. Even Oprah and Chris Rock cannot agree with one adamantly imposing a total ban and the other observing the futility of the ban whilst noting the ironic humour associated with allowable use vs suicidal utterance. This word no longer stands for just the racial hatred of the old South, but now represents a modern racial divisiveness that thrives on a new hatred which has rendered honest discussions of race in America nothing more than a bloodied mine field littered with the corpses of those who tried while the remaining generals of the Civil Rights movement laugh from the sidelines.

They have won their battle with one word their sword of victory. But they have slain with the edge not the point yielding a brutal and vulgar victory that may yet ring hollow because at the end of the day Paula Deen is being persecuted because of the money in her bank account and she is being judged not on her character but by the color of her skin. That is the very definition of racism.

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Laws Take Effect Today

As is ever the case, July 1st is the official day that the blatherings and blunderings of the gold-domers descends upon us mere mortals. It is the day that most, if not all, new state laws take effect.

Of particular interest in this past session was the confluence of transportation and gun rights in a single law. On the transportation side the issue at hand is colloquially called "left lane bandits", those obnoxious assholes who park their slow-mobiles in the left most lane seemingly in an effort to impede as much progress as possible. This is where gun rights come into play.

The new law, HB666, allows drivers to shoot left lane bandits thereby extending the castle doctrine beyond "stand your ground" to "clear that lane". While this is a state law it is subject to local enforcement and many jurisdictions are imposing a tires-before-head firing policy. Consequently many pundits are recommending that this policy be observed in all cases to eliminate cross-jurisdiction confusion.

Furthermore the humour value of the blond bimbo sippin' a latte in her SUV, dialin' down the speed all the while she's dialin' on her phone and who goes tits over ass when you pop that tractor-trailer sized front tire should not be minimized. Since it in no way constrains the second shot it seems like the kind of common sense policy so often advocated by the White House.

So. It's July first. It's open season on highway idiots. And there is no limit.