Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Know What I'll Hear Tomorrow

Breaking news:

There was an incident this evening at Baruch College CUNY in Manhattan, where the City University of New York's Board of Trustees was having a meeting, where one of the issues (if not the only one) was a proposal to increase tuition. The news has begun to go viral, but this posting will not link to it because I do not want to boost the hit numbers of the websites which are now spinning the story. I have watched the posted videos. My comments, in no particular order:

1. I have witnessed (and indeed, participated in) "nonviolent" demonstrations which were conducted with far, far better decorum.

2. The arrestees were apparently told to disperse and cease and desist, and were arrested only after failing to do so.

3. The people excluded from the Board of Trustee's meeting were denied admission because they did not register in advance. Advance registration is a prerequisite for admission. Advance registration is open to anybody.

4. Even with the proposed tuition hikes, CUNY's tuition is by far one of the best educational bargains available anywhere.

I'm sure that I will hear more about this one within the next 24 hours.

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Ice Cream on Wall Street

As usual, I have been busy with various and sundry projects, personal and professional. At this point, my wife and I are still not sure of our Thanksgiving schedule. On account of business and personal matters at their end, my wife's brother and his wife are not situated to do their usual hosting of the Thanksgiving dinner this year. Whether and how long we will travel this year is still undecided, what with the demands on our respective schedules. We shall see what happens.

Within the past 72 hours I have gotten into several different conversations, with different people, regarding various facets of the Occupy Wall Street dirtbags. The one theme that resonates the most is their inconsistency if not hypocrisy.

It seems that the uberleftist Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream people have endorsed the OWS movement! The company news release whines and moans about (A) the absence of employment opportunities; and (B) the big bad greedy corporations.

I will quote from the Midrash: "Do your ears hear what your mouth is saying?" [Midrash Rabbah, Bereshith, 38:13].

First of all, the OWS crowd has cost lots of people their jobs, including many who have jobs that are not in the stock exchanges or the financial markets.

And secondly, Ben and Jerry's is now a subsidiary brand of Unilever, a big international conglomerate that is about as ubercorporate as they come. In fact, those who seek employment at Ben and Jerry's are processed through Unilever's corporate offices.

It's too bad that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law aren't doing Thanksgiving this year. It would have been interesting to hear what my wife's niece, with her far, far left political tendencies (and whose education and living expenses have been well subsidized by her parents), says about the OWSers.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Teaching at the Teach-In

I do have a certain degree of tolerance for liberals (having once been one myself in the idealistic and sheltered days of my youth). If the individuals in the upper echelons of the faculty union I am effectively compelled by law to join (or else pay them an agency fee equal to what my dues would be) were mere liberals, then I really wouldn't have much of a problem.

Unfortunately, my union is run, from the very top downward, by far left radicals who make the likes of Ted Kennedy or Andrew Cuomo seem like right-wing fascists by comparison. For the past few weeks, my union nomenklaturaniks and their apparatchiks have been promoting a "Teach-in" on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Murphy's Law did a posting on 4 November 2011 which explains just who the OWSers really, really are. Taking him up on his invitation to disseminate it, I put it to paper (4 pages) and had my local Minuteman Press guy run about 50 copies (Thanks, Murph!).

After arriving on campus today and tending to the business of collecting my paycheck from the Bursar's Office, I then went to the "Teach-in" to take a look. In the room reserved by the union were about 180 - 200 people, mostly students (including one of my own former students, who never did impress me as a clear thinker), all attentively taking in the panel discussion without question.

I wondered what good I could do. For one thing, that particular panel's presentation had just begun, and would last more than an hour, and I had too much on my "must do" list to wait around. And because it was a peaceable gathering, any attempts to agitate may well have backfired (I would have given further consideration if there were a few more like me there, but I didn't see any -- quite the opposite).

Seeing the empty expression on so many of the attendees' faces, I began to wonder whether I could be more effective if I attempted to vaccinate those who had not yet entered the room, instead of trying to cure those already in the room who were eating up the party line without question. A few seconds later, I realized that the alpha panelist on the dais was none other than Frances Fox Piven herself. That sealed the deal; if I am in the same room with Frances Fox Piven then there definitely is something wrong!

I immediately exited the room and then started placing my own printed literature on the tables in the cafeteria across the hallway, right next to the flyers already on the tables which promoted the Teach-in! I also tacked a few to some bulletin boards around the campus.

But I had the most fun when I taught my classes this afternoon. The lecture was on real property, so when I got to the part of my lecture notes about the right of property owners to exclude others from their property, the Zuccotti Park situation with the OWS trespassers fit in real nicely.

And one of my students, who works in Manhattan's financial district, told me and the class that one of the OWS protesters physically assaulted him, and told my student that the attack was because my student was wearing a necktie. A few other students chimed in with their own anti-OWS comments and observations.

I also gave my students something to think about: If they are so indignant that people who work in the financial industry have such high salaries, why do they not complain about the entertainers and professional athletes, many of whom are paid even more? And I also mentioned that the labor unions who have backed the OWSers would not do their memberships any favor if the shutdown of the financial markets they now seek were to tank the values of the members' pension funds.

I also suggested that Barack Hussein Obama might benefit if the OWSers were to get really violent, because then he could try to use it as a pretext to declare martial law and cancel the 2012 election. A bit far-fetched? Perhaps! But at least some of my students are going to think about it, and will at least question the much vaunted OWS movement.

My union urged me to participate in their Teach-in, so I did! But they are surely not very happy about what I taught.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

To Burn or Not to Burn

Though I am by no means anti-technology, neither am I on the cutting edge of the computer state of the art. Within the past 2 months I purchased a new computer after the one I had been using for a number of years got one glitch too many. I also purchased a new printer/fax/copier/scanner for similar reasons.

And so, I now have a working Adobe Acrobat program (the software for which I was able to procure at a generous discount on account of my status as a higher education faculty member).

My filing cabinets have been getting loaded, and I really, really do not wish to purchase another one because, being that my wife and I are inveterate packrats, there really isn't too much space around here to accommodate another.

And so, I am now archiving paper files into PDF documents. I have already freed up almost 6 inches of file drawer capacity by PDFing some of our credit card statement files. But that gets boring, and besides, I really don't want to overburden the secretaries in my Department with the task of emptying the shredder machine too many times in one week.

And so, I have taken it upon myself to PDF my Letters to the Editor files from the past 40 years. I have written Letters to the Editors of diverse publications. There were periods when I wrote almost every week (and, there were periods, like when I was in law school, where my letterwriting time was very limited). I still write Letters to Editors. My publication rate is about 1 in 3 or 4, which is quite good. And I have saved just about every one of them (I even retain the copies of the ones which do not get published).

The first 9 years' worth were the most difficult because I didn't have regular access to copy machines at the time, so I kept the actual newspaper clippings (which by now are all good and yellow), and the carbon paper copies. In most instances, using the document feeder on my scanner was out of the question; I had to individually lay each item on the scanner glass. But the next batch is a bit easier, inasmuch as most have already been copied to 8.5 x 11 sheets, and, with a few exceptions here and there, can just be arranged in order and fed through the scanner via the document feed. I have freed up about an inch of file drawer capacity on the project thus far.

A number of interesting observations:

First, the progression of the technological state of the art available to me is apparent. When I was in high school, it was all typewriter and carbon paper. And, environmentalist that I am, I did then, and do now, use the blank reverse sides of whatever 8.5" x 11" sheets I have for my copies. What was on the reverse (or, rather, the obverse) of my copies is often interesting.

Along somewhat similar lines, once I started working for the Government, I started keeping more complete documentation of my Letters to the Editor (e.g., background documents, articles which inspired the LTEs, notes, et cetera), paralleling the recordkeeping habits which I, as a government bureaucrat, learned as a matter of survival.

Most interesting of all, however, is the metamorphosis of my sociopolitical views over the past 40 years. Reading some of what I wrote in high school, I come off as a flaming liberal. But I have shifted my world view, as I matured, experienced more interactions beyond my suburban middle class upbringing, and got burned a few times by the real agendas of those whom I naively accepted as allies. Case in point: After Israel was attacked in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, many self-professed tolerant and reasonable humanitarians showed their true colors.

Which all begs the basic question: Might some of this stuff embarrass me? Do I really wish to preserve it for posterity? Shouldn't I burn some of those old letters?

I did think long and hard about it. And, after serious deliberation, I decided that yes, I will preserve my Letters to the Editor. Moses himself had flaws which are mentioned in the Torah (which actually gives that document some credibility; would the writings of a Chavez or a Castro or an Obama be so open about such shortcomings?). While I have no current plans to publicly post my correspondence with editors on the Internet, I do wish to keep an accurate record. There are too many people today who seek to rewrite history. I will take the risk of having my liberal past uncovered. I would rather be called a liberal than be thought of as deficient in my credibility.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

More Folly than Honor

My views regarding Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, the three American (?) hikers detained by Iran, are and have been essentially the same as those enunciated by Debbie Schlussel. I have been following the story since its inception, or, rather, it has been followed for me by a certain acquaintance of mine who also happens to be a friend of Josh Fattal's mother.

Josh grew up (and his mother still lives) in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. On 5 October 2011, the Township's Public Affairs Committee proposed that Josh Fattal be honored. Now, some friends of mine (not the mutual one with Josh Fattal's mother -- yet) have informed me that the Township Board of Commissioners has unanimously voted in favor of the proposal!

In my book, Joshua Fattal ranks with those Jewish Kapos who did the bidding of the Nazis in the concentration camps. He is not a hero. He is not a proud American. He is a self-hating Jewish leftist anarchist.

But he does outrank, albeit not by much, the shmucks on the Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners who all voted to honor him.

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