Thursday, December 31, 2015

George Ade's New Year's Fable of Successful Tobias

George Ade's New Year's Fable of Successful Tobias Read by Jean Shepherd:

Ending Up the Year Where You Started

How's that defined-contribution option for new hires coming along?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Peevey Scandal is About to Have Another Season

As we have noted, there is an ongoing scandal unfolding at the state Public Utilities Commission involving its former president Michael Peevey and a grant he tried to provide for a UCLA research program. However, as we have also noted, the scandal appears to be on the PUC side, not with UCLA. From the LA Times:

A state criminal investigation into the California Public Utilities Commission centers on former President Michael Peevey's persistent intervention into the process to assign costs for the failure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, newly released court documents show. Specifically, Peevey pushed the idea of plant owner Southern California Edison funding $25 million of greenhouse gas research at UCLA as part of the $4.7-billion settlement deal. The power plant on San Diego County's north coast closed following a radiation leak in January 2012. A deal assigning 70% of the premature closure costs to utility customers has since been repudiated by two of the consumer groups that negotiated it, amid revelations about undisclosed private meetings, known as "ex parte" meetings, between regulators and utility executives. A sworn affidavit by an investigator for California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, unsealed last month, lays out the developing criminal case in detail for the first time. The 18-page document says improper meetings were held, which might bring misdemeanor charges, but that a conspiracy to commit those misdemeanors could be considered a felony...

Full story at

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bruincard at the airport? Probably not

Yours truly has often wondered if a Bruincard (which is a government-issued photo ID) would pass muster at an airport, should a driver's license be lost. An article in the Sacramento Bee notes that many states are not in compliance with the federal RealID law with regard to their licenses.* It provides a link** to a Homeland Security website which, in turn, indicates that California is not in compliance and has an extension to comply until January 10, 2016 (which isn't all that far away!). In any case, my totally unauthoritative investigation suggests that a Bruincard won't do it for you. But it might supplement other ID if you find yourself at an airport without your license and have to convince someone to let you on a flight.
You might have trouble getting FROM the airport, but not because of a lack of ID. See below:
Recognize Howard Jarvis in the cab? (Google the name if you don't.)

Monday, December 28, 2015

UC Crime Data for 2014

Data below for 2014 from the FBI: Number of students, Number of violent and property crimes. UCLA seems outsized in violent crime compared to other campuses, but comes in second to Berkeley for property crime. Source:

Something to Think About

Changing Faculty Employment at Four-Year Colleges and Universities in the United States

by Liang Zhang, Ronald G. Ehrenberg

NBER working paper #21827 
December 2015

Abstract: We use panel data models to examine variations and changes over time in faculty employment at four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The share of part-time faculty among total faculty has continued to grow over the last two decades, while the share of full-time lecturers and instructors has been relatively stable. Meanwhile, the share of non-tenure track faculty among faculty with professorial ranks has been growing. Dynamic panel data models suggest that employment levels of different types of faculty respond to a variety of economic and institutional factors. Colleges and universities have increasingly employed faculty whose salaries and benefits are relatively inexpensive; the slowly deteriorating financial situations at most colleges and universities have led to an increasing reliance on a contingent academic workforce.

From the paper: [Click to enlarge.]

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Waiting for Block

So far, waiting for Block has been like waiting for Godot
We earlier posted on a "campus climate" issue that occurred recently.* It appears to be a continuing matter, based on a submission posted yesterday in the Daily Bruin (see below).

Some blog readers may recall that back in 2011, when a student posted derogatory comments about "Asians in the library," Chancellor Block posted a YouTube personal reply. (See also below.) So far, nothing has been heard from the chancellor on the latest incident; he apparently delegated someone else to reply. (And that reply apparently went to a list of students as an email and has not been otherwise circulated in contrast to his 2011 YouTube video.)

The Bruin post: 

Submission: Bigoted Facebook posts are most recent examples of anti-Semitism at UC

By Arielle Mokhtarzadeh
December 26, 2015  Daily Bruin website

On Dec.16, 2015, Vice Chancellor Janina Montero released an email in reference to anti-Semitic Facebook posts shared by a member of our community.

While I applaud Vice Chancellor Montero for condemning the hateful rhetoric, the email – without context or explanation – was inadequate.

Individuals at UCLA have long accused the Jewish community of having what they refer to as “Jewish privilege.” That email, without context, may be used to play into their twisted narrative. Moreover, many students were unaware of the incident before receiving the email, leaving them confused. Therefore, for the sake of transparency, I write this piece to share with the Bruin community the words that were so offensive they warranted such a response.

On Dec. 8, 2015, the administration was made aware that a student at UCLA, who also works at the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, had made unapologetically anti-Semitic comments on a Facebook post by UCLA alumna Mayim Bialik about Zionism.

This individual employed traditional anti-Semitic rhetoric to attack the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the Jewish faith. These statements are rooted in nothing but hate, which is why they can and should be characterized as nothing other than blatant anti-Semitism.

She makes dehumanizing and stereotypical allegations about Jews and the power of the “Jewish collective,” saying, “You’re f—ing trolls, armchair politicians who do nothing but pick your nose, scratch your a– … you come into our communities and destroy our small businesses.” She then goes on to say, “You own the entertainment industry, and apparently you have so much power that you want to get me fired and sent back to the ditch I came from, don’t you? Flex your little muscles, do your worst … Where I come from, people like you, with your privilege and your wealth, are not welcomed because we know that with you comes the end of our world, sacrificed at the whims of your fancy.”

The student then attacks the Jewish state and the legitimacy of Jewish self-determination saying, “Go back to Israel, then f—ing Zionist pigs. You don’t belong here either, this land belongs to the indigenous people who were already here. Since you’re so superior, go murder some Palestinian children so you can have their parents arrested and move into their home. Greedy lifeless pieces of s— people. Capitalist colonizers who steal and kill from other races to promote your dead ideologies.”

To add pain to injury, she has the audacity to speak ill of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. She says,“… Spare me your (H)olocaust stories. My people have been systematically enslaved and destroyed by this country, who removes them every time they become a nuisance to white people. No one is hauling your Jewish a– to a concentration camp today …”

She adds, “… go back to Poland or whatever freezer-state you’re from, and realize that faith does not constitute race,” completely denying the fact that Jews were almost always treated as second-class citizens in Europe, if they were treated as citizens at all.

Lastly, the student then savagely denies any and all diversity of the Jewish community saying, “If you’re a Jew, you’re white. Not black, not middle eastern, not Asian – white.”

And let’s not forget her final farewell, “Kiss my a– you Zionist bastards – I hope you all burn in hell on earth for the crimes committed by your people in the name of their Gods.”

In just a little over a year at UCLA I have interacted with remnants of anti-Semitism far too often. They come in the form of “conversations” about Israel, speeches about purported human rights, and eligibility for student leadership positions. It is the new normal and it is numbing.

But what sends chills down my spine is that in this instance, anti-Semitism has manifested itself into the most clear, evil form of rhetoric. It can no longer be absolved or manipulated by subjectivity. In this instance, anti-Semitism is indisputably right before our eyes.

Anti-Semitism is alive and well all over the world – least of all at a revered higher education institution like UCLA.

This incident is not unique, nor are the statements shared by the perpetrator new. Hateful rhetoric, discriminatory attitudes and bigoted sentiments against the Jewish community exist across the UC – it is a fact we can no longer afford to deny.

Am I appalled by this incident? Absolutely.

Am I surprised? Never.

This is the reality of being a Jewish student on a UC campus today.

Mokhtarzadeh is a second-year political science student and vice president of Bruins for Israel.

Below is the video made by Chancellor Block in 2011 in response to the "Asians in the library" video:

Missed Mails Toying?

Some spammers have a better command of English than others. But - more seriously - this is just one of our periodic reminders that clicking on email links can be dangerous. In this case, apart from the clumsy English, note that the return email address has nothing to do with Skype. But even if it seemed to come from Skype, clicking on "view mails" could be dangerous. (Clicking on it in this screenshot image won't produce anything, however, so don't worry.)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

FYI: Body cameras

...The University of California system says it plans to equip police at its 10 campuses with body cameras in late-2016. "We are working to finalize a systemwide policy on the use of body cameras," says Kate Moser, with the University of California Office of the President. "We are consulting model policies and best practices to inform our policy. The campus police chiefs estimate that the campuses will fully implement body-worn cameras in the latter half of 2016."

Full story at

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

UCLA's Normal History

Two views of the State Normal School (1898 top; 1905 below) that eventually became UCLA. At the time of these photos, it was located where the main library in downtown LA is sited. The School then moved to Vermont Avenue (where it was later turned into UCLA and where LA City College is now located).

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A healthy response

Yours truly noted that apparently few get sick and need to see their docs as the long Christmas weekend approaches. Above: Parking lot - normally crowded but not today - under the 100-200 buildings at UCLA. Is this the reverse of the dead grandmother syndrome?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

If he actually said it, it isn't true

The San Diego Union-Tribune has been pursuing the scandal at the state Public Utilities Commission revolving around its former chair, Michael Peevey. The heart of the scandal involves matters before the Commission that were not properly handled. Both Berkeley and UCLA were drawn into the matter but the involvement involves activities very peripheral to the scandal.

In early April, days before The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that state criminal investigators had raised questions about UCLA dealings with the California Public Utilities Commission, the newspaper requested emails and other documents from the university under the state Public Records Act. The law requires public institutions to comply within 10 days, but this week UCLA notified the Union-Tribune that it would delay its response for the sixth time and records now are expected to be released early next year...

Full story at

As far as yours truly understands, there was no illegal activity or wrong-doing at UCLA. If there was a problem, it was on the Peevey/PUC side. So getting the documents to the Union-Tribune sooner rather than later would be a Good Thing.

The story is also a reminder of something we have repeatedly noted on this blog. Your emails - especially at a public university - should not be viewed as private. Some of them may be private but don't count on it. And even ones that might be private have a way of circulating in ways you can't control.  

Monday, December 21, 2015


Not equal
[Beginning of rant.] As we have blogged about from time to time, UC - thanks to the Committee of Two - is now embarked in trying to come up with a pension plan for new hires that will operate with the same PEPRA cap as CalPERS. And, as we have also noted, the PEPRA cap is not suited for UC and its faculty. So any feasible scheme will at best be a way of coping with a bad deal.

The fact is that from the point of view of politicos - such as the two governors who negotiated a pension deal for UC - all pensions are the same. So why should one be any different from another in terms of its underlying formulas? But the two plans are not equal. CalPERS is unlike UC's pension plan in many ways. For example, the trustees of the UC plan are the Regents. The function of the Regents was (is) to keep UC insulated from politics. That goal has not always been achieved, but that insulation is the purpose. In contrast, as the Calpensions online newsletter reminds us today, CalPERS has governance issues related to its board and basic institutions.* UC has not had a bribery scandal; CalPERS has, for example.

Bottom line: CalPERS has its problems precisely because its governance has been far more "political" than has been the case for UC's pension. And now UC has a problem thanks to the ad hoc intervention of two politicians. [End of rant.]

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ever Grander

From time to time, this blog - as a public service - provides a progress report on the construction of UCLA's Grand Hotel. Given the current excitement about the new Star Wars movie, we thought we would give you a musical update. (Sorry: Won't work on iPhones.) See below:

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Give a little; take a little

Rockefeller distributed small amounts, too.
A new payroll system that has given the University of California years of trouble just uncovered another problem: UC has routinely underpaid thousands of its employees by small dollar amounts on each paycheck.
In a Dec. 1 letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, the university asked for assistance in resolving what it deemed a “compliance issue.” While working to switch over to the new payroll system, a lawyer for the Board of Regents wrote, UC discovered that there have been regular issues in calculating extra pay, such as overtime. “The reasons for these failures are complex,” the letter stated, pointing to a variety of incompatible timekeeping methods across its 10 campuses. “We would like to reach a suitable resolution that would provide retroactive payments to affected employees.”

The extent of the issue is unclear. UC declined to specify a number of employees affected, but a “frequently asked questions” list on the university’s website said “less than 20% of UC’s workforce,” which could mean up to nearly 40,000 people. Spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the “vast majority” of cases were less than $5 per biweekly paycheck and more than half were less than $1. Some employees were also slightly overpaid, she added...

Full story at

Give a little; take a little:

Read more here:

Going to the Mat

Click to enlarge
In case you haven't hear of the Harvard placemat brouhaha, below is a guide. The placemat is above.

Harvard Crimson: and

Complaint from Harvard Undergraduate Council:

Harvard's apology:  (Reproduced below)

Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Boston Globe:

The original unaccredited source: (plagiarism?)

December 16, 2015
Dear Harvard College students,
We write to acknowledge that the placemat distributed in some of your dining halls this week failed to account for the many viewpoints that exist on our campus on some of the most complex issues we confront as a community and society today. Our goal was to provide a framework for you to engage in conversations with peers and family members as you return home for the winter break, however, it was not effectively presented and it ultimately caused confusion in our community. On behalf of the Office of Student Life and the Freshman Dean’s Office, we offer our sincere apologies for this situation.
Academic freedom is central to all that Harvard College stands for. To suggest that there is only one point of view on each of these issues runs counter to our educational goals. We appreciate the feedback that we have received about this initiative. Moving forward we will, with your continued input, support the growth and the development of independent minds.
Stephen Lassonde
Dean of Student Life
Thomas Dingman
Dean of Freshmen
And since the placemat appeared in a dining hall, the two deans might have let the Platters say it for them:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Little problem as we undo the Master Plan (without a plan)

Note: Blog readers will know that the legislature, contrary to the Master Plan (or any process to amend it), decreed that some community colleges should give 4-year degrees.

A handful of California’s community colleges may have a problem offering new bachelor’s-degree programs, as planned, by 2017. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, one of the nation’s seven regional accreditors, had asked the U.S. Department of Education to allow it to accredit baccalaureate programs at two-year colleges. The change sought by the commission, called an "expansion of scope," is necessary because the state is allowing 15 of the community colleges to offer four-year degrees. But a federal panel that advises the secretary of education on accreditation matters voted on Thursday to limit the accreditor’s ability to approve new baccalaureate programs. That could leave as many as four colleges unable to begin offering those degree programs before a fall 2017 deadline...

Full story at

(Thanks to Bette Billet for spotting this item.) 

The chilly UCLA campus climate

The UCLA "campus climate" seems to have gotten chilly, apart from the weather. From the Bruin:

A UCLA official criticized anti-Semitic comments made by a UCLA student on Facebook in an email statement sent to the student body Wednesday. Janina Montero, vice chancellor for student affairs, sent the email after a pro-Israel group on campus condemned an undergraduate student for a series of comments posted on the Facebook status of Jewish actress and UCLA alumna Mayim Bialik. UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said the vice chancellor’s decision to send out emails is made on a case-by-case basis, and Montero felt this incident rose to a level that warranted the email. In the comments, the student called Jewish people “troglodyte albino monsters of cultural destruction” and “capitalist colonizers.” The student did not respond to several requests for comment for this article. 

Vazquez said the university will not pursue disciplinary action because the First Amendment protects individual’s private speech. In the email statement, Montero urged students to treat others with compassion and to not stereotype other identities. “The hurtful and offensive comments displayed ignorance of the history and racial diversity of the Jewish people,” she said. “Bigotry against the Jewish people or other groups is abhorrent and does not represent the values of UCLA or the beliefs of our community.” Liat Menna, president of Students Supporting Israel at UCLA, the group that criticized the student’s comments, said she thinks Montero’s statement was inadequate because it did not address the issue of anti-Zionism. Zionism is the belief that Jewish people should have an independent state, such as Israel. “The demonization of Jewish students on campus is directly linked to the demonization of the Zionist identity,” she said. Vazquez said the university is working to prevent similar incidents through community collaboration initiatives, the Diversity Requirement and more accessible ways of reporting bias.


Not surprisingly, the incident has begun to circulate on the internet:

Recently, a student at UCLA who is also a UCLA employee posted a Zionophobic rant on Facebook. Lisa Mendez introduced herself to the public with a blatantly racist declaration in response to a post written by Miayim [sic] Bialik, a UCLA alumna and respected Hollywood actress. Mayim’s post was a declaration of Zionist pride and for Lisa this was an opportunity to attack:

"GTFOH with all your Zionist bullshit. Crazy ass fucking troglodyte albino monsters of cultural destruction. Fucking Jews. GTFOH with your whiny bullshit. Give the Palestinians back their land, go back to Poland or whatever freezer-state you're from, and realize that faith does not constitute race” (Mendez)

Lisa’s statements frightened and appalled many people. Her employment status as a healthcare administrator for UCLA Center for Prehospital Care (CPC), raised even bigger concerns. Many were outraged...

Full story at 

A full copy of the Montero email was not available, however, after a search of the UCLA website and a more general Google search. It is unclear to whom the email was sent. This incident is likely to be raised at the Regents' committee that was formed two meetings ago to deal with anti-Semitism and intolerance.

UPDATE: More info on the Montero email is available at

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Are they paying for this?

The ad on the right popped up in an email subscription yours truly was using (Santa Monica Patch). If you click on the ad (which you can't do on our screenshot), it takes you to another page which contains the sentence:

"Now you can take the same test that noted psychiatry professor Gary Small, M.D., uses with his patients for research studies at UCLA. Answer the following questions about how you judge your own memory ability. We'll email you your personal and confidential results."

If you further click around that page, it appears to be connected to another site - newsmax - which runs news clips and ads. Is anyone paying for using UCLA's name? Small's name? Is permission required? Just asking.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In the dark

Power Outage Leaves Thousands of Westwood Residents in the Dark

The Department of Water and Power Does not have an estimated restoration time.

About 23,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers in the Pacific Palisades and Westwood areas were left without electricity this afternoon after a circuit breaker failed, according to the utility. The equipment failed at 1:37 p.m. and a portion of a receiving station that services the affected areas was de-energized about 10 minutes later, according to DWP spokeswoman Ellen Cheng...

Full story at

NOTE: Yours truly noted traffic jams building up to the west of UCLA due to signals not working. Be warned.

300 Mystery Now Resolved

As you can see, the 300 UCLA Medical Plaza mystery is now resolved. As per the Steve Cederbaum hypothesis, it was renamed after Wendy and Leonard Goldberg, the couple who gave $10 million for a program to study migraine headaches. We might note that the 200 building was previously renamed for a donor. But the 100 building is still unnamed (in case you had any spare change).

The Road to Riches (may be bumpy)

We'll just quote without comment:

The University of California has named a well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur to lead a new venture capital fund aimed at bringing inventions based on faculty and student research to market.

UC President Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday that TIBCO Software founder Vivek Ranadivé would oversee the independent fund that will be launched with $250 million from the office that manages the university's investments.

Ranadivé, a best-selling author and co-owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, says he plans to secure additional funding from private investors and to contribute a 5 percent stake himself.
Napolitano says the university's earnings would be funneled back into its retirement and endowment accounts.

But she says the venture fund's main purpose would be to finance the development of promising products in areas such as life sciences, technology, energy and agriculture.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Med Art or Ad?

From time to time, our blog brings you samples of med art, artworks on the walls of the UCLA medical complex. Presumably, the donors received a tax deduction for their in-kind contributions. In this case, we have illustrations from an obscure children's book that can be seen in the 200 building. The illustrations with accompanying labels might be seen as an ad for the book, not just art. So we won't give you name.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The 300 Mystery: Coming to an End?

The mystery of the new name of the 300 UCLA Medical Plaza building may be resolved later today. But as of this morning, it still awaited unveiling. As you can see, a truck was delivering supplies for a tent and reception. We'll keep you informed.

We know you love a mystery:

Into the Valley of Hasty Planning & Inadequate Funding, Rode the 5,000

Mihai Gherghina sacrificed sleep, study time and Thanksgiving holiday fun to make the application deadline for a long-cherished goal: transfer to a UC campus. When he clicked the "submit" button Nov. 29, a day before the deadline, the Orange Coast College student said he felt huge relief. But that emotion turned to fury when UC officials announced three days later that they would extend the deadline to Jan. 4 for those who missed it — but not those who made it, like Gherghina. The 26-year-old student said he has learning disabilities and could have used the extra time to hone his essay and burnish his application with another honors program he subsequently learned he had been admitted to...

The deadline extension, the first in years, has created major buzz — and decidedly mixed reactions — up and down the state. UC officials said they extended the deadline to expand the pool of high-quality transfer applicants needed to help fill the 5,000 additional seats being earmarked for California students next year and 5,000 more over the following two years. The expansion was approved last month by the UC Board of Regents, which has come under political pressure to allot more seats to Californians after years of increasing spaces for out-of-state and international students who pay full tuition...

Full story at

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Look for slow leaks in the next few weeks (about the budget)

Usually, the month of December is characterized by slow leaks of items that will be in the governor's proposed budget, due in early January. In fact, given the time needed to put the budget together, officials have to have a pretty good idea of what it will be by now. However, the governor has been in Paris until recently at the climate conference. So we may be a bit delayed this year in leaking. But it will come.

The Bureaucratic Incompetence Interpretation at UC-Merced

Given the recent mayhem in San Bernardino, the stabbing incident at UC-Merced in early November has been pushed from the national headlines. But not entirely, as will be noted below. Not surprisingly, it still is newsworthy in the local Merced area.* However, beyond the local news, various conservative news media allege a cover up of the UC-Merced incident, i.e., that it was really terrorism. The allegation arose shortly after the event** and continues to the present.*** 

Shortly after the UC-Merced incident, the local sheriff indicated that the student perpetrator was not a terrorist – presumably meaning someone acting out of religious and/or political beliefs. It was instead due to the mental issues of someone angry about being rejected from a study group. This interpretation was based on a manifesto the stabber left behind. The document was reportedly slated to be released a few days after the incident.**** Put another way, the Merced incident was similar to the incident at UC-Santa Barbara in May 2014 where the perpetrator killed people out of anger at not having a girlfriend. In that case, the killer left behind a manifesto “explaining” his motives.

In contrast, the UC-Merced manifesto hasn’t been released, although there have been various news reports since the incident that somehow interpret what is allegedly in it. At least one blogsite has filed a public documents request which has been rejected. See below:

…In pursuit of the story LLC filed a formal CA Public Documents Act request asking to be provided with an un-redacted copy of Mr. Mohammad’s manifesto. This morning we received the following reply:

“Upon review, we have concluded that the information you have requested is integral to an ongoing investigation. The disclosure of it at this time would endanger the successful completion of that investigation. Therefore we are denying your request at this time…”

Yours truly suggests that the conspiracy/terrorism interpretation could be quickly put to rest if the UC-Merced police would simply release the manifesto (and whatever other relevant documents there are). Surely the UC-Merced police have a copy or could get one from the Merced sheriff. The local sheriff shortly after the event said, "We had an upset teenager that was upset because he got kicked out of a study group."**** Given that official view – no terror conspiracy/just individual mental problems – a view which has not changed in any news report since, there remains only the Galanter hypothesis (see above) as to why the manifesto has not been released, even without a public document request. With all the calls for “transparency” in public matters, not honoring the request seems like bureaucratic incompetence.
***  Excerpt: …Yet, more than a month after the Nov. 4 attack at University of California Merced, local and federal authorities continue to insist that Faisal Mohammad, 18, carried out the vicious attack because he'd been banished from a study group. (John) Price, whose son Byron Price, a 31-year-old construction manager for the family business who was working nearby and was stabbed when he heroically intervened, suspects the White House's reluctance to identify acts of radical Islamic terror has trickled down to investigators who are still probing the Merced attack…