The Shadows in the Cave

I recently watched The Power of Nightmares: The Shadows in the Cave, a BBC documentary.  Some of its findings are contested, but I consider it startling even if only half of it is true:

  • It may be that al-Qaeda is no more formal an organization than the average businessperson’s professional network.
  • The “dirty” part of dirty bombs apparently causes virtually no harm.
  • Counter-terrorism prosecutors have used lack of criminal activity as evidence of “sleepers” and claim to have found secret messages in ordinary-looking home videos and doodles.

I’m not sure if I agree with the documentary’s emphasis on neoconservatists being the driving force behind American counter-terrorism.  Regardless of the political philosophy, I recall the first 12-18 months of reactions following 9/11 were widely supported across all parts of society.

Many, Louisiana

I ran across an interesting nugget in Google Analytics today.  Apparently someone in Many, Lousiana went to my website yesterday, generated 226 pageviews, clicked an ad, returned, and generated another 383 pageviews.  It’s odd, but I’m not sure that its worth looking into further.

Blogs and Bibles

I think this article is short-sighted.  It’s a long article, and I won’t debate all of it.  And I won’t ridicule the whole thing like BoingBoing.  However, I think they’re overlooking at least one wonderful aspect of the Internet and blogs: the emergence of the Internet and blogs has greatly increased the awareness of minority opinions and private realities.  While there are plenty of blogs that say steretypical things like “I love Brittney Spears” and “iPods are cool,” there are plenty other that say rarely talked about things like “I have a balloon fetish” and “feel tired after my chemo” and “pastor to flirt at church“.  With the Internet, many people who previously thought they were alone in the world can discover that there are thousands or millions of other people who are like them in a particular aspect.  Without the Internet, we would only know about these things if they happened among our relatively small circles of direct contact or if they were in the media.  Stopping blogs is not a good solution; it would be wrong to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  In response to the many Bible verses cited in the article, I would like to respond with “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Rough day

Monday this week was a bit rough.  My front left tire blew out while I was driving on the freeway to school, I learned my teamlab team members rated me lower than most other leaders, I discovered another team was not on track towards completing our report, and I almost hit a deer driving home!  *sigh*

Fortunately, Tuesday seemed to go much better, so this week could turn out okay overall.  And besides, almost hitting a deer isn’t anywhere as bad as actually hitting a deer.

Really busy

Wow…. it has been a long time since I last updated.  I have little excuse for not posting anything in August, but in September I have been very busy.  On top of taking 6 classes while working approximately 2 jobs, I have been recovering having all my luggage stolen the night before I returned from Germany.  (I wish I had posted more of my photos online before that night!)  I also spend much time enjoying the company of Heather rather than working on pesky homework.  However, commitments I’ve made to my teammates will keep me on track for most classes.

Fall is supposed to be the heavy season for fulltime MBA recruiting, but I’m not sure how much that applies to me.  First, I’m really busy.  Second, many of the companies I was interested in last year didn’t seem to get serious about interviewing for internships until May, so it seems doubtful they would interview and extend offers in the fall for work starting the following summer.  Some of the work I’m doing now for Journeys International and for my entrepreneurship class has the potential to give me networking potential and strong referrals, as well as skills that would be very helpful in starting a new venture.

Feedback spam from and

In the past month, I have received several feedback spam messages on my neglected VW Cabriolet website.  Each submission sends me an e-mail (which the spammer might not know) and typically posts the message online (which I assume is the spammer’s intent).  However, they’ve screwed everytime and simply sent the e-mail without posting.  It’s actually surprising they can screw this up.  A quick search on Google shows that they’ve been more successful posting their spam elsewhere.  It will be interesting to see if they read this post and realize their mistake.

I just launched my first attempt at an online job search. The idea is to eventually expand it to speed up the application process, but I figured getting a search online would be a good first step. If nothing else, I’d be happy to see it indexed in Google.

Discussion-based classes

A number of my recent classes have been based, in some part, on class discussions.  In terms of engagement, there are some clear benefits to this approach.  However, there are a number of negative factors that become clear over time.

When a teacher asks a question to the class, there are more things that could go wrong than right.  First, some students will misinterpret or misunderstand the question.  Second, from among the students who were able to understand the question, some will have answers that are incorrect.  If you consider that most teachers want to ensure they hear from all students, this is a sure plan to get lots of wrong and unrelated answers.

Some might disagree, but I find these bad answers annoying.  It’s discouraging when the teacher teacher tells you that you’re wrong, regardless of how much tact they use.  It is time consuming when a teacher turns down several qualified answers while they are waiting for their desired answer which will segway to the next question.  The point of class is for the teacher to share knowledge with the students.  To have students try to guess it piece by piece is horribly inefficient.

The root issue is that a true discussion is between peers, where neither party is authoritative.  Each side contributes, and the combination of ideas may bring new insight.  In a classroom setting, the teacher is considered authoritative.  Each side may contribute, but the teacher nixes ideas he disagrees with.  This uneven situation wastes time and discourages many students.  Isn’t there a better way to increase engagement?

What is going on at school

I have fallen quite behind in blogging; while My Yahoo claims my last entry was one month ago, I don’t know that I’ve written anything substantive since January. So let’s cover the major news.

For being in an MBA program, I don’t spend much time writing about it here. (If you do want to hear about the MSU full-time MBA program, you can read the diaries.) With 17 credits, I am taking one more class than many of my peers. This reduces my free time, but I have a hard time turning down a free class (a result of block tuition). I did seriously consider dropping one class, but that was due to professor quality rather than time constraints. My time is further reduced because I work for Journeys International in Ann Arbor on Fridays, as well as working remotely during the week.

There are a number of fun things related to my classes. In my entrepreneurship class, the professor has invited some real-life entrepreneurs to come in and give presentations and Q/A sessions about their experiences. It has been pretty interested to see the different paths and philosophies. On Thursday, my team will be pitching our business plan to a number of venture capitalists the professor has invited. In my investments class, I am part of a team that is investing an imaginary $1,000,000 in the stock market. Despite having a very passive strategy, we have consistently been in the top third of the competitive rankings. I would like to thank the efficient frontier for this.

My search for a summer internship has continued. While my classmates studying HR were interviewing heavily last fall, it appears that many of the companies in the tech industry didn’t get around to posting internships until March. With each company having its own resume system, apply to these positions can take a lot of time. I have an idea on how to improve this, and I’m planning to write a patent for it.