Monday, June 28, 2010

More than just a costly mistake.

Out here in Aggieland, home of Texas A&M University, we have a bit of an embarrassment on our hands.  Now  TAMU is known for its military history and a creed that in the first sentence states, an Aggie does not lie....

So you can see how this might piss some folks off when the number 3 man at the university, the Senior Vice President of Administration, is found to not only lied about having a Masters, but a PhD.  But wait....and here is where the fun begins....he told students - Corp of Cadets no less - that he was an ex-Navy SEAL.

Oh the poor man....he made a "costly mistake."  A 'mistake' me says! How do they define a mistake?

  1. a wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention
  2. identify incorrectly
  3. an understanding of something that is not correct
  4. err
  5. error 

OK, so 1 and 3 apply, 2, 4, and 5 do not since he knew what he was stating was incorrect.  So he did, in deed, make a' mistake'.  What else did he do while he made that 'mistake'? (oh the list could go on and on about the damage his 'mistake' caused, but we're just going to look at one incident):
Kemos mentored prospective SEALs, told detailed stories about his supposed exploits during his time with the elite fighting unit, and in April even spoke at a dinner for cadets about ethical dilemmas he faced while he was a SEAL.
At some point I just can't give the guy any benefit of the doubt.  At some point it moves past a mistake into something else entirely.  How does one talk about "ethical dilemmas he faced" when he is -at that very moment - being unethical?  Didn't the guy see the irony in this?  If he did see it why did he continue, if he did not, then how did he get where he is?

I mean, at some time didn't he understand what was taking place because of his own actions?  I mean he is described as "extremely knowledgeable" a "problem solver" and a "competent guy."  He must have had something going for him to allow the smart people at TAMU to promote him to a $300K job as the number 3 guy.

So what does this say....I mean if you look at it from a distance?  You don't need an advanced degree to be good at your job and a lie can move your forward quicker than honesty.  Oh, c'mon Jeff, the guy just lost his job!  He is now disgraced and all that stuff.  Yeah....that is true, but for one year he made as much money as an honest janitorial worker makes in 12 years.  For most of my coworkers - educated, competent, problem solvers as well, it will take us 5 to 6 years to make that.

Now, by choice, I have decided to live by a different set of standards which has cost me.  Honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior has not paid off - I know this - and I accept this.  And if I had it to do all over I would have adopted these core values earlier in my life, not later as I did.  What I have received is beyond any monetary reward or career boost that could ever be offered.  I do not live a life of irony through my choice of behavior.  I can look my kids in the eye and tell them what you see is exactly what I am.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What makes me tick - or - use the word "ponder" in a sentence.

I read an interesting article in today's Sunday paper, The Eagle, called "A global teacher of 1,516 free lessons and counting"

This guy, Sal Khan, makes YouTube videos on all sorts of different topics such as math, history and science.

In the article he is quoted as follows:
I just ponder things until they're clear.
I have always said something similar to that about myself.  The question to ask about anybody is what makes them tick.  Most people tick to the status quo - what they think should be their motivation.  For most it's the pursuit of wealth or material objects, others it's their religion, or kids, or prestige and status.  For others, like me, it's none of that.  What makes us tick is something different, that is, we march to the beat of a completely different drummer.

When I went back for my Masters the usual reason most people figured was to help my career - you know, the pursuit of wealth.  Although that's a factor, that's not the real reason.  Nor was the desire to prove something about myself or to correct mistakes I made in my youth (although that was the motivator).

Instead it was really just my curiosity.  I like to understand things for no other reason than to understand them.  And for this reason, when or if I am ever asked to describe myself in one sentence, I will tell them:
I am curious; I ponder things until I can understand them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

So Sorry....Not!

Yea, one of my least favorite people - Bill Byrne, Texas A&M's Athletic Director - was in the news.....again.

Seems everyone has an opinion on the Aggies leaving or staying with the Big 12 and one of them upset our highly paid AD with their comments.  From the Eagle: A profane e-mail to Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne prompted him to respond with an angry voice mail.
"Someone who has the guts to write something like that needs to have his [expletive] kicked," the 65-year-old Byrne said in the call, which was posted on Byrne later issued a 1,700-word statement defending the Aggies' decision to stay in the Big 12 and apologized for the outburst.
Now we all lose our tempers, but someone making the salary that Mr. Byrne's makes should have learned over 45 years of being an adult how to keep it to himself.  But stuff happens and people lash out, so if an apology was needed, it's good to see that he owned up to it.  Well at least that's what the paper says he did.
"After reading over 200 similar e-mails the other night, I finally had one set me off and I called the writer. I'm a very competitive person and like many of you, I was raised not to back down when challenged. I've also got a bit of an Irish temper which came across in my voicemail. I regretted what I said as soon as I hung up. I should have been above that, and I made a mistake. For those of you who were offended by my response, I apologize, and I assure you that it will not happen again," Byrne wrote.
You see, it's not an apology when you state "for those of you who were offended."  You either did the offense or you did not.  How I feel about it has nothing to do with whether or not an apology is appropriate.  If you were truly sorry for your actions you would have just said "....and I made a mistake for which I apologize.

By this statement you are not sorry, only sorry that it ended up on YouTube.  It is tantamount to when as a kid your mom tells you to apologize to your brother for hitting him.  I'm sorry comes out of your mouth but without your mom standing behind you - or YouTube in this case - an apology would never had been forthcoming.

And that's why you are still one of my least favorite people.  Consider this a challenge to your not-so-sincere hands-caught-in-the-cookie-jar apology.  I'm calling you on it.


I took some time off to watch back to back episodes of Lost based on the recommendation of both my boys.  Seems I did not give it enough time after turning it off six years ago after the episode where they shoot the polar bear.

Yea, I hate dumbed down crap that gets produced.  Lost wasn't one of these shows, but that polar bear kept me from sticking with it.

Well I finished all 130 something episodes and I really liked it.  Still waiting to discuss with my boys the ending and not sure I really liked the way they concluded it.

But the that was worth all those hours watching.

Note to all writers and producers - put out a product that you would want to watch (that's what the Lost people did) not a product you think I want to watch.