November 26, 2003
Still Cheating on the SAT

Okay, considering that the most searched term from Google on this site is "How To Cheat on the SAT/MCAT" There is an ongoing suspicion of mine that there is a real problem with the integrity in this country. Then again, the rest of the world isn't all that much better, in fact it's probably worse. Cheating, corruption, injustice and unethical behavior... all under the guise of protection by laws. Americans by far don't have a monopoly on that.

One comment "Dudes, it's all about the journey, the destination doesn't matter a bit!" Even if you get into Harvard or Yale, but if you do it without integrity, who cares? Oh yeah, rhetorical question... I'll answer it myself then.

Your parents care and they're willing to look the other way at all the shady and shallow things you have to do to get there. And McKinsey and Co, cares because they won't go recruit at UMass Lowell. And your management cares, about getting the numbers, rather than how they were obtained. What's illegal in one country, is suddenly not only acceptable in another, but openly encouraged and supported.

No wonder so many of the grads I know are shallow, egotistical, and have no idea what to do with their lives now that they've got their precious diplomas. I'm not surprised that so many of us are dissilusioned, embittered, sarcastic, and begrudgingly accepting.

When you know someone who got a perfect score on the TOEFL but can't speak a word of English, there's a problem. Well yes I'm not going to argue that it's a system and it's set up against you. The problem is endemic, from the testing organization (ETS) too focused on profits, to respect the integrity and validity of it's exam. To the schools, who in their search for efficency, depend on the exams because the're cheaper than hiring people to really evaluate candidates.

Thus I say this, the anti-globalists are right. In our current status quo, it's a race to the bottom, efficency is all about getting just enough done, by spending the absolute minimum amount of resources possible.

But I cry out for us to stand apart from this. We're better than a $8.95 polo shirt at Wal-mart. Why should we be setting minimums, when it's so much within our nature to strive for the best.

The NYTimes article

It's not just, individuals acting alone, it's built into our cuture, it's built into the relentless pursit of excellence and efficency. And it's still wrong!

Confronting Unethical Conduct
Jan 1, 2003

By Kirk O. Hanson

The litany of scandals afflicting corporate America has raised many difficult questions for associations and other types of nonprofit organizations. Should executives tainted by scandal be asked to leave an association's board? Should the association or its leaders publicly condemn the behavior of some members of the profession or association? What can the association do to help rebuild the reputation of a profession or industry damaged by the actions of some of its members?

Too often associations choose the ostrich strategy--remaining mute because they fear "kicking a friend while he's down" or bucking the wishes of other association members who think any comment or action will bring heightened scrutiny to their own actions.

I am convinced that many associations have failed their professions and industries in times of scandal and crisis. Often, an association and its members will have already heard rumors or seen patterns of wrongdoing before a crisis becomes public. By choosing to do nothing then—or even after a scandal breaks—associations have failed their professions and industries. Leadership and quick action to shore up public trust is needed.

But what should an association do when one or more of its members is waist-deep in a public scandal? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Condemn the sin, not the sinner. The first response of an association must be to label the unethical behavior for what it is. Public confidence in a profession or industry demands that the profession always be ready to draw clear lines between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It is possible to make a strong and timely statement on the ethics of a specific behavior without judging whether the particular behavior has occurred in this case or whether a specific executive is guilty.

2. Ask the accused to step aside. The credibility of any association depends on the integrity of its leaders. It should be an unwritten law of associations and professional societies that accused individuals step aside temporarily until charges are resolved. This does not admit guilt, but simply respects the special role of the association. An association board or committee member can be labeled "on leave" until culpability is determined.

3. Pull the trigger if guilt is established. Associations must be in the business of building public trust. If the guilt of an individual or member firm is established, then the association must act to force the resignation or withdraw the membership of the guilty. If an association today does not have a process for throwing out a member, it had better create one. Cases where guilt is never proven, but the stench of scandal is strong, present harder choices. Quiet action to force the resignation of an association board member may be called for.

4. Define and advocate best ethical practices, not just minimum behaviors. Most association and industry codes of ethical conduct are least common denominators, a list of provisions that virtually every member can agree to because the standards are so low. Rarely are association codes designed to define and advocate exemplary rather than minimal behaviors. If only the lower boundary is established, those inclined to wrongdoing will always be probing how low is low. In today's ethical climate, restoring trust will require a focus on best practices and exemplary behavior.

5. Keep your ethics current with the changing nature of your profession or industry. The ethical failures in the accounting, financial services, health care, and telecommunications industries can in part be attributed to the rapidly changing structure and altered characteristics of those industries. Ethical norms codified by the firms and their associations in the past addressed problems of a simpler time. Only through visionary action and timely debate on new ethical issues facing the profession or industry will public credibility and trust be sustained.

These five guidelines are good rules for any era, but we don't live in normal times. American business and its professions are under acute scrutiny by the public and by all levels of government. Restoring trust now demands even more committed action.

This is a moment in which every association should renew its ethics efforts, a time in which it should foster an active and public discussion about best ethical practices for its profession or industry. Association meetings should be filled with serious debates about the implications of the current scandals for the professions represented, about how the new economy, globalization, and other developments have changed the structure and public responsibilities of particular industries. Every association ought to know how it intends to help restore public trust across all professions and industries.

Among other measures, I believe that every profession and industry should be conducting a kind of industry ethical analysis, which would highlight the inevitable ethical tensions it will encounter and would point the way toward best ethical practices as well as minimum standards.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2003 issue of Association Management, copyright 2003, American Society of Association Executives, Washington, D.C. In January of each year, the entire issue of ASSOCIATION
MANAGEMENT is devoted to addressing the needs of your board and other volunteer leaders.

Kirk O. Hanson is the Executive Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara

Posted by justin at 11:14 AM
November 18, 2003
The power of staying put.

I sometimes think of my life here in Cambridge is, one friend put it: A desparate game of "Last man standing." After all, with the relentless change and the constant flux of transient folk in my life. I can't pick who stays or leaves. I don't pick my loyalties, they're a blessing from God. I can only say that after all these years looking at, who I have managed to keep in touch with, and who I have deep friendships.

There's value in the ability to reconcile our fundamentally opposing viewpoints and our varied cultural, social, and educational backgrounds and world and to value each other for our differences.

I find myself restless, always pursuing, always striving, finding less and less fulfillment. I don't seem to need simply another Bible study or another church service to find soul satisfaction. ... Disillusionment with one's church, then, is not a reason to leave but a reason to stay and see what God will create in one's life and in the local church. ... Thinking that I know my true needs is arrogant and narcissistic. Staying put as a life practice allows God's grace to work on the unsanded surfaces of my inner life.

Yeah, I'm sticking around, I'm still here. I've long ago given up the expectation that anything remains constant. Sure, I carry baggage from my past. I live with my issues, and deal with my demons. What else can I do?

Posted by justin at 11:12 AM
November 03, 2003
Where is home.

I don't even know who really originally sang this.

And she said "Hey ramblin' boy won't cha settle down?'
Boston ain't your kinda town
There ain't no gold and there ain't nobody like me
I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee

Now this drifter's world goes round and round
and I doubt that it's ever going to stop
But all of the dreams I've lost or found
and all that I ain't got
I still need a lean to
Somebody I can sing to.

I somtimes wonder how much my life is as a wanderer. Because I fully admit that I am one of those people. I guess the thing which I'm coming to realize in my life right now is that I will eventually find where I belong.

Full song...

Please Come To Boston
Written by - Dave Loggins
Please come to Boston for the springtime
I'm stayin' here with some friends and they've got lotsa room
You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk
By a café where I hope to be workin' soon
Please come to Boston
She said, 'No, would you come home to me?'

And she said, 'Hey ramblin' boy now won't cha settle down?
Boston ain't your kinda town
There ain't no gold and there ain't nobody like me...
I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee'

Please come to Denver with the snowfall
We'll move up into the mountains so far that we can't be found
And throw 'I love you' echoes down the canyon
And then lie awake at night till they come back around
Please come to Denver
She said, 'No, boy, would you come home to me?'

And she said, 'Hey ramblin' boy why don't cha settle down?
Denver ain't your kinda town
There ain't no gold and there ain't nobody like me
'Cause I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee'

Now this drifter's world goes 'round and 'round
And I doubt that it's ever gonna stop
But of all the dreams I've lost or found
And all that I ain't got
I still need a lean to
Somebody I can sing to

Please come to LA to live forever
California life alone is just too hard to build
I live in a house that looks out over the ocean
And there's some stars that fell from the sky
Livin' up on the hill
Please come to LA
She just said, 'No, boy, won't you come home to me?'

And she said, 'Hey ramblin' boy why don't cha settle down?
LA can't be your kinda town
There ain't no gold and there ain't nobody like me...
No, no, I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee'

'I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee...'

Posted by justin at 05:57 PM