Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Greece, Something from Sid and a Duck Story

Austerity in Greece


Just got back from a European sojourn which included a few days in Greece.  I couldn’t visit there without an awareness of the economic travails that country is experiencing.  The people, as I see it however, are not standing in line to adopt an acceptance of austerity.  (Perhaps they follow this blog.) Note the picture taken in an Athens sidewalk café, and these are not just visiting tourists.  (This is very similar to pictures I took, but were unable to post on the blog.)



 
As I saw it, their economic crisis seems to manifest itself primarily with “Ten Euro Crisis Menu” signs in front of restaurants and tee shirts spelling out “F - - k the Crisis.”  Unemployment is high and some people are certainly suffering but there seems to be a dividing line between the realities of the monetary and financial world and the attitude of the people in the street who always manage to make the best of what they have, including their expensive and unhealthy smoking problem.  They will survive the current economic malaise, if lung cancer doesn't get them first.
Jack Lippman 

                                                                

Sid's Corner


Once Upon A Time


Once upon a time in a far away village called Konotop lived a man named Avrum. Southwest about 200 miles in a similar village called Chudnov lived a maiden named Pessel.



To my knowledge they did not discover each other until they met in a section of Boston, MA called Dorchester to which they had each separately emigrated in the 1920’s.

 
Dorchester MA probably in the 1930s or 1940s.



Like Romeo and Juliet they fell madly in love, married, and birthed a son, Shamai (Shahm-eye). As dictated by the times and circumstances they lived in a small apartment…well under 1000 square feet…with Avrum working as a professional photographer. Life was a struggle, but good as the two lovers raised their beloved son midst the loving support of their friends, parents, and relatives who had also settled in the area around Boston. Life was sweet.



In those days émigrés strived to become American; there were no dual language offerings. If one was to be an American, English had to be mastered. And so Pessel and Avrum became citizens as Albert and Pauline, claimed their favorite song as “What Is This Thing Called Love”, lived day to day with their hopes and dreams focused on their beloved son…and their emerging life in their newly adopted country.




Then out of the blue as Rabbi Harold Kushner so eloquently explores in his 1978 book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, disaster struck the family in 1935 with the untimely death of Albert at twenty-seven leaving his young bride, Pauline, as a single mom with a twenty-two-month old son.

In those days there were no grief councilors so Pauline entered into a lifetime of grieving as she determinedly raised her son as a single mother in a age when such was not the norm. She strived to strike a balance between devotion to her son and making a new life for herself. For her and her son the fairy tale morphed into her version of a Greek tragedy.

Or was her ensuing life and that of Shamai’s not a tragedy but just simply the normal course of events for human life? 
A friend of mine often opines that life is a joyous journey full of problems whilst Buddhism’s first noble truth offers: 



To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

And in the Old Testament, Ecclesiastics’ author provides us with what some consider a rather pessimistic view of existence that includes: "Death is to be going home to be with God and have no more hardships. Therefore, people should be glad for them. And to cry at birth because it is the beginning of life and hardship." .

All of humankind’s history is filled with the truths embodied in the above statements and so poignantly struck home with recent events such as Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the Cleveland ten-year imprisonment of three young women.

The aforementioned Rabbi Kushner is only one of a myriad of examiners of the “why” of all this that have attempted to offer any semblance of an answer to humankind’s ageless question.
  

And then there’s my favorite, bestest philosopher who’s convinced me that we are all simply living in a cosmic version of a Woody Allen movie. 

“And what of Shamai and his mother?” you ask. Well unlike the Greek Oedipus Rex, Shamai did not kill his father and marry his mother. She never recovered from the emotional effects of her sudden loss but did live long enough to see her son grow into manhood, marry, and have children of his own. And Shamai? Well as of this writing he survived the emotional dumping ground of his growing-up years and is an octogenarian patriarch of his own dynasty of children and grandchildren going through their own version of life’s joyous journey filled with problems.



                                                            
                                                        



DOLLY AND THE QUACKER

By Harvo1@comcast.net for his grand daughters Brooke and Madison



A duck named Dolly was in need of a mate

She didn’t want the run of the mill, one who’d just join in a date

To the Princess Mother she came, telling Her of her woe

The Queen gave advice, telling her how to go



“We have a problem Princess Mother.”

“What’s the problem Hawkeye?” asked the Queen of Jungle Central. Hawkeye was a general scout who soared over the landscape, allowing his keen vision to keep track of things. Princess Mother used him like the Creator used angels.

“Dolly is very unhappy. I saw her this morning by the water’s edge. She was alone and lonely.” Ever since Hawkeye had joined the Jungle Central community he had become a loving and caring member who showed kindness and concern for other animals, some of whom he used to hunt for food. No more! Like other Jungle Central beings he was a vegan.

“Thanks for looking after her Hawkeye. You’re a good and loyal citizen. If you see Dolly tell her to come to me.”
“Yes Princess Mother. Always a pleasure to serve.”

Later on Dolly waddled up and spoke to Princess. “Yes Mother, I am sad. I am lonely. I need a mate.”
“So, what’s the problem? You’re young, pretty and have a fine set of feathers and pedicured webbed feet. In Jungle Central you are considered a beauty. Many male ducks would be overjoyed to be feathering their nest with you.”
“But Princess Mother. I just don’t want to get entangled in any old web. I want an ideal superb duck.”
“A life’s companion, right?”
“Someone who’ll stay with me to help raise the ducklings. Someone who will help me build and maintain our nest. Someone who can talk to me and share ideas. A first class egg!”
“I take it that most ducks you’ve met are bland and lackluster.”
“How true. They cluck in small sentences. They have few original thoughts. Oh Princess Mother, what am I to do?”

The Queen of Jungle Central thought for a moment and then said “Why don’t you set up a test? Go down to the big pond today and walk around. When male ducks waddle up to you to talk, start quacking. This will upset most of them and they will waddle away. Those are the ducks who don’t seek long lasting relationships. But there will be a duck who will quack back. He’s the one.”
Dolly was overjoyed and she waddled off to do the Queen’s bidding. True to the Queen’s predications, that very day when Dolly quacked her way around the park most male ducks shied away from her. All except one tall and handsome drake. As he approached Dolly’s heart beat rapidly. She swooned as he came over and began quacking back.


And so it was, Dolly’s dream mate appeared and they waddled off to live happily ever after. All of Jungle Central proclaimed gleefully “Dolly got her quacker.”
Harvey Sage

                                                  


                                                                    





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Thursday, May 9, 2013

COLLEGE ACCREDITATION and BY THE SEA

College Accreditation Ain't What It Used to Be


Years and years ago, when one considered “going to college,” the institutions one had in mind were recognized public and private colleges and universities which were accredited by recognized regional accreditation agencies.  Generally, credits were transferable on some basis between such accredited institutions.  Some of these schools were more selective than others and had very high standards of admittance (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Northwestern) and admission to some others was somewhat easier, particularly if they were “state” schools, which carried a responsibility for higher education in their states. Admission requirements similarly varied for smaller accredited schools.

Princeton
  
Usually, admission was based on one’s high school record and how well the applicant performed on a standardized admission test such as the SAT or ACT.   Applicants didn’t always get into the school they wanted, but the important thing was that the college one attended was an “accredited” school. If a student wanted to transfer to another college or continue on to medical, dental or law school afterwards or do graduate work, they had better have been doing their undergraduate work at an accredited college or university, as described above.  That is still a pretty good guideline to follow.

Such traditional regional accreditation was and still is given by organizations such as the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  It should be kept in mind that all of these associations, which readily communicate with one another, operate differently and have different standards.

Well, things are a bit different today.  While we still have the colleges, universities and accreditation agencies discussed above, another kind of institution, specializing in the kind of training formerly dispensed by industrial technical schools, computer technology schools, business schools, cooking schools, health care schools and the like has proliferated. These schools are now calling themselves degree-granting colleges or universities and sometimes, they are even “accredited” by the same regional associations listed above.  

This does not mean, however, that their degrees and credits are worth as much as degrees and credits from more traditional institutions carrying such accreditation and will be readily accepted by other “accredited” institutions.  The bottom line is that “accreditation” no longer means today what it meant a generation or two ago.  That is worth repeating.  The bottom line is that “accreditation” no longer means today what it meant a generation or two ago.   

Also, there are many other “national” (as opposed to regional) associations providing accreditation.  While such national accreditation may qualify the institution to accept government funds, they may not enable the student to readily  transfer to or do graduate work in schools carrying more traditional regional accreditation.  


Included in the accreditation process for colleges and universities may be such factors as the nature of its faculty (full time, part time, adjunct, tenured, etc.), how much “distant” learning (online or by mail) its programs involve, whether there are any "classroom" courses. and if there is any face-to-face contact with faculty.  It should be noted that the North Central Association has a more generous approach to evaluating a school’s faculty than other Associations.  A recent article on the web site of the American Association of University Professors (http://www.aaup.org/report/looking-other-way-accreditation-standards-and-part-time-faculty) mentions that ‘the North Central commission’s handbook includes neither a discussion of faculty status nor a statement on institutional commitment” and that “there are no written guidelines, in fact, precluding a faculty that is 100 percent part time.”  



DeVry University Building

Perhaps that is why the accreditations for the University of Phoenix, Capella University, DeVry University, Walden University and Kaplan University (the company that used to offer only SAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT, etc. study courses) come from that Association.  Schools outside of the geographic areas where the North Central Association’s generous rules prevail cannot receive that association's accreditation and that is perhaps why schools such as the University of Southernmost Florida end up with accreditation from one of the lesser known national associations rather than from a regional association.  (While that school's "nursing education" program is okay for those who want to move on and take the exams required to become a nurse in Florida, whether that "credibility" extends to other states and other areas of academic study is questionable.)  Also, there is a law school in California (Concord School of Law, part of the aforementioned Kaplan University) which doesn't even require an undergraduate degree as part of its admission requirements!  But the only state which will let its graduates take their bar exam is California, nowhere else!  You gotta be careful.

Sometimes the basic entrance requirement for acceptance in these schools is any  high school diploma plus the ability to pay or to qualify for government tuition subsidies, the kind for which many veterans are eligible.

The very well known University of Phoenix is such a school.  As an advertising gimmick, this giant “university” (which carries North Central Association accreditation) purchased the naming rights for the football stadium in which the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play.  It is called the University of Phoenix Stadium. 
 

Unfortunately, the “U of P” doesn’t have an intercollegiate athletic program, but it is traded (APOL) as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Apollo Group, which specializes in purchasing such institutions.  This should enable its graduates to see how well their alma mater is doing on the NASDAQ in the absence of their being able to follow its standing in the weekly Coaches and Sportswriters ranking of NCAA football teams. 



NASDAQ  Graph of APOL shares

Any high school graduate, regardless of grades or class standing, should feel reassured that the way is open to them for a college or university degree!  Some of these colleges may also have programs for those without a high school diploma.  Slick advertisements for many of these “colleges and universities” can be seen on television any time of the day or evening.  If you can operate your set’s remote, have a credit card or can write a check, you’ll probably be accepted.  How much you’ll learn, probably, will be entirely up to you ... but isn’t that true at "real schools" such as Princeton, Mississippi State or Florida Atlantic University as well?  Or do the faculties they employ make a difference?

Individuals tempted to apply to any of any of these perhaps dubiously accredited institutions should first take a long hard look at the less expensive state and county run community colleges available in their areas.

Jack Lippman
                                                         

By The Sea    (from my original short story archives)

Sol strode southward at a steady pace along the innermost edge of the damp sand where the wavelets had reached up in irregular crescents during the last high tide to make it smooth.  A pair of sea birds soared playfully overhead against the warm blue sky.  He felt good, walking down the beach from where he had parked his car, descending the wooden staircase to the sand where he had paused to put his sneakers and socks into the canvas bag which now swung purposefully from his shoulder.  He was already many hundreds of yards beyond the populated area of the beach, with its lifeguard stand and scattered clusters of umbrellas, blankets and beach chairs.  This was closer to nature where strutting birds and sun-bleached driftwood were all that interrupted the stretch of shore.

To his right, behind the beach, he saw clumps of beach plum and hardy pine whose roots searched deep into the sand for drops of water.  Further back, an irregular line of palms rose against the sky.  And then he saw them, behind a sandy hillock about ten yards back, beyond where the morning’s waves had reached, left there by their owner, a pair of sandals tossed down upon the sand.   He turned and walked up the beach toward them, and as he got closer, he saw the green blanket a few yards further back, and on it a neatly folded towel and the halter top of a pink bathing suit and a pair of shorts, casually thrown down upon the blanket.



He looked toward the water and saw her, about forty yards out in the ocean, swimming parallel to the shoreline.  Her naked back glistened under the afternoon sun, and when she would dive downward, as she did occasionally, her bare legs looked like shimmering towers before submerging.  Sol watched her for a few minutes, and then continued walking up away from the shore until he reached the first line of foliage.  Seeing a sizable log, apparently washed ashore the last time the sea had raged up that far, he kicked it to make sure it wasn’t home to an insect colony, swept some sand from atop it and sat down.  Somewhat hidden by a beach plum bush, Sol was then able to comfortably watch the naked swimmer for about fifteen minutes without the risk of being seen. 



Apparently finished with her exercise, the swimmer turned toward the beach, and stroking to catch successive breaking waves, rode them shoreward, her long black hair being swept across her back as she was pushed through the churning foam.  Sol smiled as he watched her breasts rise as she leapt to catch still another wave.  Leaning forward and no longer concerned with not being seen, he took pleasure from watching her, now but thigh-deep in water, poised with arm extended toward the shore but head turning to the ocean to select the next crest to ride.  Sol thrilled in seeing her wet buttocks swing as she turned to position herself for still another surge to finally ride in to the shore.  As he saw her walking toward the blanket, shaking off excess water from her swim, much as a spaniel coming out of the surf might do, he was filled with longing.



  Rising slowly, Sol walked from his hidden perch toward the blanket, where the naked woman was now toweling herself dry.  As he drew closer to her, he fully realized how beautiful she was.  He had almost reached the blanket when she turned around, in all her nakedness, toward him, a look of surprise crossing her face.  Sol reached out with his right hand, grasping her arm, as his left hand reached into the canvas bag hanging from his shoulder, pulling from it a white terrycloth robe.



“Sol,” she said.  “You surprised me!  But I see you remembered!  I was so afraid you would forget the robe, like you did last time.  Let me get dressed so we can get back to where you parked the car.  By the way, what do you want me to make for dinner tonight, or should we go out?”   



“Let’s order in tonight, Honey,” Sol replied.


JL 

                                                            

Late Nooz From The Boonies
Sanford and Girlfriend     Fort Sumpter Attack

I see where duh folks in South Caralina elected there philandering ex-governor to a seet in Congriss.   These are the descendants of duh nitwits who wuz stoopid enuf to attack Fort Sumpter and start the Civil War.  Democracy can be dangeris when peepul is dumb.  
JL
                                                                                        

                                                 

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