Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The not so secret agent professor

Each week, I play music of a particular "theme" as students walk into the lecture hall or classroom before class. This week's theme was "mystique," with one of the featured songs being "Secret Agent Man." (Yes, I agree that it would be more appropriate and inclusive if the phrase "secret agent person" had been used, but this song appears to be from the 1970s or before, a baser time in history).

In any event, this semester, I am experimenting with recording the lecture sessions (but not the discussion sections which may contain voices of individuals who have not consented to be recorded) and posting these on the course web site. As I arrived in my first discussion section, right after the lecture session, I started the music playing and, while waiting for the time to start class to come, I started to take off my backup wireless microphone and the microphone leading to a digital recorder that I keep in my pocket. It was then the irony occurred to me that I was carrying a "hidden" recording device.

One reasonable hypotheses is that absent-minded professors usually do not make good secret agents since we may be too absent-minded to stay in character. Another hypothesis, of course, would go more at the eccentricity angle, suggesting that nothing that we do would be perceived as odd or unusual, allowing us much more latitude in behavior that, among "normal" (i.e., mediocre) people would raise suspicion.

1 comment:

Lex said...

What a wonderful blog! I found the link on your site with the delightful reflections on having AS. I must say, being able to show a great sense of humor, especially online, is far more common with your more intelligent Aspies than is suspected by all too many people.

I just had to comment on this post as you mention the currently politically incorrect view of the use of the word "man" rather than "person" in the song title discussed. I just had to add that it is quite a large joke in the "misunderstood lyrics" collections that this has all too frequently been mistaken as "Secret Asian Man".

Actually, I have laughed until in tears over some of the misunderstood lyrics books I have read (I'm sure that there are lists online these days). My possible favorite is the incorrect hearing of Elton John's line "Hold me closer tiny dancer" as "Hold me close and tie me down, sir". You should take a look at these hilarious compilations if you ever get the time.

Thanks again for writing out here in the great, blue yonder of the web.