Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dating myself

Today, I referred to one of my favorite commercials--the 1980s commercial with the jingle "You can reach me at the Hilton. Just call me at the Hilton and we'll get down to your business right away!" I made this reference in the context of cultural differences in values and business approaches. I then sadly commented that 1988--when I was in the MBA program--was before many of the students were born. (These days, a lot of freshpersons and sophomores take the Marketing Fundamentals course). I don't feel that old!

It is better to give than to receive

That's why I was very happy to give a beautiful exam today!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Afghan TV

A story on NPR this morning reported that there are actually more households with TV sets in Afghanistan than there are homes with wired electricity (with some TVs apparently being powered by generators). Saad Mohseni, one of the co-founders of the largest TV network in Afghanistan comments that Afghans have historically been "deprived of all the good things that you Americans have become used to--such as soap operas...."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A historial milestone

Starting today, some of my web sites will be hosted on a Windows NT, as opposed to UNIX or Linux, based server!

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.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Violent crime

One of my favorite podcast series is Life of a Law Student with Neil Wehneman. Normally, I am most interested in constitutional and commercial law, but at the moment, I am going through the series on criminal law. The topics that we have gone through the last several days do not paint a flattering picture of humanity: rape, murder, voluntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, felony murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit unspeakable crimes.

This reminded me of back several years ago when a student heard of my interest in obtaining a copy of the Southern California Iranian Yellow Pages. It turned out that she was well connected and, in addition to the Iranian directory, she also found two different versions of Armenian Yellow Pages, each representing one of the three main variations of Armenian. One ad for an attorney seemed to be aimed at a rather unsavory group. He or she was offering to represent defendants accused of extortion, kidnapping, and a rather explicit laundry list major violent felonies. I hope this bozo is not overly successful in getting those among his clients who are as rotten psychopaths as the crimes they are accused of--probably the great majority--off.