Saturday, November 01, 2008

Questions and Answers

This is on the island of Capri, which I loved. I would like to live there. But it is very pricey: only the super-rich can afford a place there. So I have to be content with Madeira Beach.

deepcover has left a new comment on your post "Hurrah for the Suzy Creamcheese Blog: It Gives Tea...":


You know the Trib and Times pull their punches because they need any ad revenue they can get.

Piss off the district and the district will reduce the ad budget.

Didn't the district threaten you old paper?

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by deepcover to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 5:28 PM

Yes, Elia threatened Patrick for my using some circumlocuation about the sleeping-around in ROSSAC that garnered jobs on the Casting- Room Couch. She said she gave Mileto and Kipley the right to sue La Gaceta for slander. I begged him to get the ACLU. That is the very kind of case it specializes in: the government picking on private industry, especially a newspaper.

Patrick is not a fighter. He's a diplomat. So I resigned and now blog. It's just as well. I am completely free in my blog, and nothing deterred me from exposing ROSSAC on-site adultery.

I talked to a First Amendment lawyer; she said only people with money---businesses--get sued for Internet comments. The litigious don't bother with us who don't have a pile of money.

Blogging is the better route for me and those like me. Patrick and I used to fight over diction all the time. I never did convince him that "sleep with the fishes" is not a sexual reference, that it refers to a murder in the criminal world when the victim's body gets thrown in the river instead of a reference to sex.

Patrick and I are good friends. I am as fond of him as if he were a son. lee

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Chat About English

Everybody is going to have to be patient while two English teachers talk shop here about language and the shoddy language training students get in the schools. I used to get students from area schools in college freshman English who couldn't write a literate sentence much less a paragraph or essay.

Mastery of language reigns the basic metric of education. No matter what else a person knows, he or she must first be at home in his or her language and be able to write and speak it literately.

A reader who is an English teacher sent me a message that I refer to in the first paragraph above but that I lost in my goofiness. I wish he or she would resend it. I would like to mount a copy of it in this place for others to read.

It's an important message that laments how poorly prepared the students who come into high school are in the English language. As I have often observed, I had the same experience with students entering from high school into my freshman-English classes. They would have passed English classes in high school but couldn't write a literate sentence much less an essay. This situation bewildered me. But I set about teaching them grammar, punctuation, and essay structure along with Shakespeare and Yeats and the rest of the gang that my course was supposed to cover.

I attack abuse of language wherever I encounter it. Review my defense of English to the head of Phi Beta Kappa below. I'd jump on the king of the world who abused the English language. The Bay Area Phi Beta Kappans will rebuke me. I will rebuke right back in more vivid language. lee

To: John Churchill, Kelly Gerald, various Phi Beta Kappa chapters, USF President, Eckerd President, and any others who come to mind

From: Lee Drury De Cesare of

The National One Arises for Phi Beta Kappa

John Churchill has become the top guy at national Phi Beta Kappa.

One reads that this new leader will take an “indefinite” leave of absence from Hendrix, his college. He sounds as if he plans to hunker down at National Phi Beta Kappa for the duration.

We PBK members in the hinterlands far from the centers of flossy scholarship wonder what kind of guy Le Churchill is. We can get a hint by doing some forensics on our new head’s writing.

Secretary John Churchill’s fall Key essay comes to hand. It begins with an imagined condescending response to a prospective logic student and then displays some logic gymnastics to remind the uninitiated how dumb they are about logic folderol.

Ungenerous arrogance stains the remark to the student and shows why philosophy-department Laputans reign objects of tart assessments for their conduct in faculty lounges. Our national Phi Beta Kappa leader mispunctuates the condescending sentence.

With Dr. Churchill’s put-down of an aspiring logic student, we enter the domain of solipsism.

Further evidence of this gentleman's self-involvement is that he chose as subject for the Teagle-Foundation-funded “Deliberation of Things That Matter” a discussion that resides in Secretary Churchill’s bailiwick. Why couldn’t it concern the slide of Hemingway’s reputation or how come it took more than a hundred years after its founding for Phi Beta Kappa to admit women and blacks? Answer: Dr. Churchhill knows diddly about these and wouldn’t shine in the discussion.

At the end of the Key essay, Secretary Churchill advocates doughnuts as salubrious to participants’ performance in the Teagle exercise. I submit that Secretary Churchill is not thinking of doughnuts for the gang but of doughnuts for lui-meme.

Be clinical, outback Phi Beta Kappa members. Take a look at Dr. Churchill’s picture to discover the root of this doughnut strategy. It comes from Dr. Churchill’s relation with food.

This me-me-me approach portends narcissism at national Phi Beta Kappa headquarters in the president’s office. The staff is in for a lot of fetching and toting. Picking up dry cleaning may be in its future.

To top things off, Secretary Churchill can’t punctuate and has a shaky grasp of grammar.

This pile-up of negative evidence against Le Churchill rouses critters in tropical-clime Florida chapters with litigious instincts to rebel prospectively.

One of this tribe, I will go first.

I suggest that national Phi Beta Kappa’s quixotic admission standards must change.

National Beta Kappa has turned down the University of South Florida’s pleas for a chapter for years while at some colleges and universities with chapters as much as forty percent of the invitees shun the invitation to join. National PBK should close out those 40-percenters and open slots for institutions eager for a chapter such as USF. If the students can’t afford the fees at USF, the Bay Area Phi Beta Kappa must hold bake sales.

Phi Beta Kappa should stop its prissiness in selecting new chapters. While turning down USF, Phi Beta Kappa recently granted a chapter to nearby Eckerd College despite whacko punctuation’s bestrewing the Eckerd president’s online message that also displayed the rhetorical felicity of zilch. Literacy on the school’s Web page should be a requirement for granting a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Ditto for Phi Beta Kappa’s national secretary’s appointment.

National Phi Beta Kappa should not search out minute centers of academic preciosity as chic choice but should embrace large redneck centers of learning that succor blue-collar parents’ offspring such as USF. To avoid doing so is unpatriotic and snotty.

One wagers that an examination of the national staff’s academic credentials would reveal that its members come from such big-state, working-class schools, where the tuition was within their parents’ budgets, This socially and academically insecure preference for boutique colleges by national Phi Beta Kappa is nothing but tryin’ to get above your raisin’ as we say in Georgia.

For this conduct, my tribe of aunts and genealogy whackos at our yearly dinner on the grounds at the family cemetery in Burnt Fort, Georgia, would accuse the culprit of a college degree’s making him or her uppity and would avoid dishing out any chicken and dumplings or big slabs of peach pie with hand-whipped cream to this family snoot.

The bottom line is that avoiding big gallumpy universities for little boutique ones is un-American. The uncouth many are at the heart of democracy both out and in academe.

Two of my seven grandsons now go to USF. Hence, I do what grannies are born to do: urge that national PBK rethink its shunning of USF.

What’s a granny for if not to lobby for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at the university that two of her precious grandsons attend?

I suggest a contest that invokes Dr. Churchill’s automatic phallic ad bacullum metaphor to settle this request. This ad bacullum aside is the sort that men produce from their instinct to remind women that guys rule the world. Will we ever see the day when men abandon such tiresome phallic prancing to subdue us women? Can’t the head of Phi Beta Kappa be sophisticated enough to avoid it? Didn’t he take any psychology classes along with the logic hieroglyphics he parades in the first paragraph of his Key essay?

I suggest that national Phi Beta Kappa field a team to compete with USF in a punctuation smackdown. I shall offer my services as USF coach.
The USF team will mop up the floor with the national Phi Beta Kappa punctuation weenies, especially if punctuation-challenged Secretary Churchill insists on a team slot. In defeat, National Phi Beta Kappa must bow to the victor and bestow on USF a tardy PBK chapter.

Then my two grandsons will have a chance to become members of Phi Beta Kappa and even to become its national secretary. This is the reflected glory for which we grannies yearn.

Employers today beg colleges and universities to give them graduates not who can deconstruct Spinoza but who can write literate sentences correctly punctuated. Our Phi Beta Kappa secretary flouts this request in his own practice. He must start a review of his grammar primer in between ordering national staff around. This move may fend off impeachment rumbling in the fens and the bogs of the academic world from those of us who pick fights about literacy as diversion.

The decline in intellectual rigor that allows the secretary of Phi Beta Kappa national to circulate a badly punctuated missive with blowzy grammar to members nationwide provides evidence of the academic slide in the country.

Alas, alack, and weladay for the oldest honor society in the land to show such crude evidence of its joining forces with literacy barbarians.

I offer this missive as letter to the Key editor for publication in the time-honored tradition of academic vitriol’s honored place in our society since Phi Beta Kappa’s founding in 1776.

Lee Drury De Cesare
Chapter Sigma of New York


Excerpts from the Churchill message with corrections:

At the beginning of one semester a student, eager to enroll in the course, told me she wanted to take logic in order to learn how to think.”

“Eager to enroll in the course” is a restrictive adjectival prepositional phrase modifying general noun “a student.” Commas should not surround it. A comma would be well after “semester” since there is a long compound prepositional phrase beginning the sentence.

If(p, then q) and then q…but If(p then q) and not-p….

Unless the notation of logic has some exotic rituals of punctuation, then there should be a space between both if’s and the parentheses signs. This is a small punctuation civility that the president of Phi Beta Kappa should observe.

“especially the ad baculum: ‘If you…nose.’”

Usually a whole sentence precedes a colon. In your sentence, the colon were better a comma.

As a feminist I defy this penis-invoking metaphor. It must be the author’s way to remind women that men celebrate being guardians of the mighty phallic apparatus that rules the world in war and in rape. To an accusation of feminist paranoia, I answer that I have found being paranoid condign attitude to macho pretensions.

“People don’t just disagree about what the facts are, they disagree about what the facts mean.”

A comma splice ranks remedial-English mess-up. One expects a member of Phi Beta Kappa to recognize a sentence. If he does not—and especially if he sends messages to the membership as secretary--the fellow should review his grammar primer perhaps in study hall.

“And much of argumentation consists of trying to get the other person to take agreed upon facts as we do.”

The above models one of several instances in which Secretary Churchill omits a hyphen between two-or-more words acting as single adjective before a noun. This device helps the reader comprehend more easily.

It helps when people are polite and civil, and when they not only wait their turn, but also take their turn when it comes.”

The redundant comma after “civil” splits compound adverbial clauses. The redundant one after “turn” splits a compound verb.

“On the other hand, there are issues about protracted, perhaps intractable disagreements.”

The nonrestrictive element needs a comma on each side.

“There is learning to cope with frustration—frustration at the social level (‘He’s not even listening to me!) and epistemological frustration (‘No one could ever know that!)

The writer owes readers an end-punctuation period after the close of the parentheses.

“So much can go wrong that has nothing to do with logic, narrowly conceived.

The redundant comma cuts off a restrictive past participial phrase.

And so much of what goes right does so because of factors affecting our social and even animal nature.

“Factors” gets an apostrophe for possessive before the gerund. I have an interesting fight with the editor of the North American Cambridge English Dictionary on this issue ( I think I carried the day. I ratted him out to those Oxford Dictionary guys in England who wear rump-sprung tweeds and perpetual looks of superiority.

And so much of what goes right does so because of factors affecting our social, and even animal, nature. It will be important to remember this the next time we are tempted to wander off into an abstract analysis of reasons and conclusions.

The pronoun "this" has no antecedent: the reader has to infer one. Requiring the reader to provide an antecedent for a pronoun ranks sloppy writing.

Secretary Churchill's Key essay:
Deliberating, Again

I used to teach logic. At the beginning of one semester a student, eager to enroll in the course, told me she wanted to take logic in order to learn to think. I suppressed the catty comeback: "Oh, no. If you don't already know how to think, you'll just fail logic." The unspoken retort does, though, lay bare something about the notion of a course in logic. It is true that if you can't think, you'll do poorly. So what are you being taught?

Some of an introductory logic course amounts to learning a kind of notation that formalizes what we can already do: If(If p, then q) and not p, then not necessarily not-q; but If(lf p, then q) and not-p, then not necessarily not-q. And if Socrates is man and all men are mortal, then. ... But what I enjoyed most were the so-called informal fallacies: the heap argument, the slippery slope, and the various ad hominem arguments, especially the ad baculum: "If you make that claim again, I'll punch you in the nose."

It is in these murkier regions that the human element of logic emerges. When people make cases for the things they hold true, arguments take on a distinctly human cast. People don't just disagree about what the facts are, they disagree about what the facts mean. And much of argumentation consists of trying to get the other person to take agreed upon facts as we do.

The word "deliberation" is rooted in a Latin word for weighing. We weigh facts, trying to assess their meaning. How much do we know and understand about that process? That's the question we decided to explore in Phi Beta Kappa's project called "Deliberation About Things That Matter," funded by the Teagle Foundation.

We asked several Phi Beta Kappa chapters to partner with a curricular authority on their campus - a dean, an honors program, a curriculum committee - to examine that question. How do people learn to deliberate? Can it be taught?

We wanted to draw on the variety and inventiveness of the chapters themselves, and so we placed no further restrictions on their designs. The chapter at a major state university in the southwest added follow-up discussions to a major speakers series that was integrated with a curricular reform exploration. Chapters at several small liberal arts colleges formed consortia of faculty who developed deliberative teaching and learning styles for their courses. Another chapter melded the deliberation project into a semester-long orientation series for new students. We had explicitly encouraged such blends, hoping for lasting effect.

We learned that coffee and doughnuts can be important. That's a symbolic statement gesturing toward an interesting array of human factors that seem to conduce to good deliberation. It helps when people know something about what they're discussing. It helps when people are polite an
d civil, and when they not only wait their turn, but also take their turn when it comes. Listening sympathetically to the opinions reasons of others turns out to matter a lot.

At a more profound level, there are issues about protracted. perhaps intractable disagreements, persistent uncertainties, and learning to live with clear resolution. There is learning to cope with frustration --frustration at the social level ("He's not even listening to me!") and epistemological frustration ("No one could ever know that!")

What has been most interesting so far - and we are a long way from having weighed these reports fully - is the importance of the matrix of human interaction within which deliberation occurs. So much can go wrong that has nothing to do with logic, narrowly conceived. And so much of what goes right does so because of factors affecting our social, and even animal, nature. It will be important to remember this the next time we are tempted to wander off into an abstract analysis of reasons and conclusions. Evidence matters, but so do doughnuts.

Hurrah for the Suzy Creamcheese Blog: It Gives Teachers a Voice in the Running of the Schools That the Board Fails to Give Them

Read the accounts of any School Board meeting and compare it with what you saw in person or on Ch 18. You scratch your head wondering how they edit what happens. It's a shallow pool in the editing room.

Ms. Brown and Ms. Stein:

I copied the above excerpt from The Wall
, Suzy Creamcheese’s blog that the teachers flock to in order to express their unexpurgated opinions.

This teacher whom I quote above is right about the tepid and oblique comments of the press about school board meetings and ROSSAC vile conduct. I don’t know why you both don’t report things as they are when reviewing school-board meetings or reviewing administrative and board conduct off the dais. The answer is probably pressure from above.

Objectivity is an epistemological impossibility. Reports sift through individual consciousness and individual prejudice. In case of newspaper reporters, it coincides slavishly with the political courage or lack of it of the brass of the newspapers they work for. The level of courage displayed by a newspaper comes from the guts or lack of it of the paper’s top people, the ones who have insinuated their way up the journalistic administrative level by means of sycophancy and timidity.

Local papers have long colluded with the skullduggery that those who run the county schools engage in. It is a brand of journalistic cowardice that does no good for our students. The national election has constantly invoked the importance of education in our country. But how we will get good education without cleaning out the Augean stables of school boards and administration lairs is beyond me.
Administration in Hillsborough County comprises the academic dummies. They have degrees in marginal subjects with Styrofoam intellectual content. When they get out of some usually 3rd-rate college with an academic-lite degree, they head for administration because that’s where the money is. Smart college graduates go into teaching to be lorded over by the C and D students that clog administration.

The board is not interested in improving schools but in colluding with the administration to continue board members' sitting on the dais and implying to the community that they are sponsors of education. What hog wash. That stance gets refutation with board members' going along with anything the superintendent puts before them for their automatic approval.

The superintendent hires under-qualified people for administration slots whose chief credential is loyalty to the superintendent. These toadies garner up to $150,000 in yearly salaries. Compare that to teacher salaries. What does the discrepency say about shool-board aims? It says they don't give a damn as long as they sit in their ceremonial chairs on the dais.

The superintendent created two boutique jobs for superintendent administrative buddy Hamilton; these passed on the consent-agenda conveyer belt with not a murmur from the board--and not any comment in the newspapers, which act as stenographers for the board, not as astute observers or, God forbid, intelligent analysts.

Yet the board has the nerve to stamp “equal-opportunity employer” on every available surface. That claim is an abuse of the English language and a violation of the Federal equal-opportunity laws.

The proliferation of the blogs from the inside, non-administrative school people decry this situation encourages me. They do what the press is too complacent or too cowardly to do: tell what it’s like on the inside and tell how the administration with board complicity tolerates the retaliation by Elia and her goons inflict on any school employee with the courage to speak out openly. This retaliation is in charge of Linda Kipley, head of Professional Standards and the holder of a home-ec degree.

Gradually these inside critics will go public as their levels of indignation and courage rise. When enough do, the voters will smarten up as a result and wade into the school board and administration rackets to defeat complict school-board members, all of whom qualify for this colluder title now. That’s when the schools will improve and educate the students to a higher level of achievement.

Lee Drury De Cesare

C: All school board members
Administration members
Paul Tash
Rosemary Goudreau
Patrick Manteiga
Letitia Stein
Marilyn Brown

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Knowledge Is Power

The tall and beautiful young woman with me is the first baby born in Tampa NOW. She is now a gynecologist. She's 5'9". I could have been somebody if I had been 5'9" instead of a measly 5'5 1/2"--shrunk to to mere 5'5" since I have gotten old. lee

There is nothing like knowing the facts when you are trying to change the world. I want to see how fast Steve Hegarty's salary rose after his hiring. He couldn't punctuate when the board hired him. I haven't checked his writing lately. He sneers at me when he comes into my orbit. Doesn't speak. Just sneers. Boo hoo. lee

Linda, is the "recognition" meeting a regular meeting with audience comment tomorrow?

I missed last meeting because one of my grandsons made me a new computer and left out my calender in the files transfer. I still want to see the man's personnel file who took Davis's place as head of the technology devision. I will give you a check for the file you have copied for me.

I need these data: Steve Hegerty made $91,000 when he was hired a couple of yearfs ago I believe; I saw a notation that said he now makes $101,000. Is that correct? What is his salary history with dates? On hiring he made how much? How many raises has he got since then and for how much? Thanks. ldd