November 29, 2005

Bluetooth in the Bathroom

Steve Yastrow has an amusing post on Tom Peters' blog (he of In Search of Excellence fame) regarding cell/hand/mobile phone (take your pick) usage. He notes that society is changing as we become more comfortable in using hand phones. People (presumably, he's referring to Americans in particular) are not as embarrassed to be seen talking to an invisible "other."

"Years ago, we started to see people walking through airports talking on cellphones with headsets. In order not to seem like wierdos talking to themselves, these folks would routinely hold the headset microphone to their mouths, so you could clearly see that they were on the phone.

"Then people dropped their hands from their headsets, assuming you'd know they were on the phone because of the cord dangling from their ear. After a while, the introduction of the bluetooth headset took away that cord, but by then nobody was self-conscious anymore, and it became commonplace to see people walking through airline terminals talking without shame to an unseen companion."

Now, it appears that men aren't afraid of talking in the one place that seems to have been the most taboo for guys having a conversation - the bathroom:

"Many times in the past year I've walked into an airport men's room and seen a lone man standing at a bank of urinals, actively engaged in a hands-free conversation with someone hundreds of miles away, presumably with a hidden bluetooth headset in his ear."

The question that struck me about this article is, how will Asian culture adapt to the Bluetooth headset? When I was in Korea, a couple years ago, I was introduced to the custom of covering one's mouth while talking on a hand phone. Speaking loudly in public is considered rude behavior in Asia, and Koreans (and other Asians) try to avoid doing so, especially while talking on a hand phone.

The question now is, how will Asians be able to keep their voice levels down and remain "polite" while using Bluetooth? It's hard to say. Here in S'pore, it's becoming more common to see people (mostly businessmen) talking away somewhat loudly while using their Bluetooth. But Singaporean society, in general, seems to be getting louder and louder (in their speech). It would be nice to see how this issue is playing out in some other countries, like Korea and Japan.

November 27, 2005

Arizona State University: Truth, Knowledge, A Great Tan!

There was an interesting set of articles in the Arizona Republic the other day about my alma mater, Arizona State University. In one article, it seems that ASU will be listed in the May edition of Playboy magazine for being one of the top ten party schools in the U.S. But the University's President, Michael Crow, isn't terribly happy.

"In ASU's case, the party-school ranking is 'a gross simplification that doesn't have anything to do with who we are and what we are,' Crow says.

"Crow has made an enormous effort to ratchet up the academics. He hired Ed Prescott, who then won the 2004 Nobel Prize in economic sciences. He helped recruit 162 National Merit Scholars to attend ASU last fall. He envisions a 'New American University' that will offer quality education to many and foster economic growth.

"Now comes Playboy's list.

"'How do they really know?' Crow asks. 'How do they really assess that? ASU is a very serious school with very serious students. It's also a place where people have a great time and is a great place to be.'

"The party-school image stems partly from some of ASU's inherent qualities. It's huge, with about 52,000 students on the Tempe campus alone. It's sunny and warm throughout the school year.

"In the Princeton Review, some ASU students describe the school like this:

"It's a place where 'almost everyone is beautiful: tall, blond, skinny, and bronzed. . . . Everyone works out and takes care of their bodies, but at the same time (they know) how to have a good time.' As one student puts it: 'It is rare to find an academically oriented soul on campus.'"

Thus sayeth the Greek freshman from out-of-state who's discovering how to "party" by getting drunk and stoned from his or her similarly-intoxicated Greek brothers/sisters. What a goof!

"Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey says the 2006 list is different from Playboy's last one in 2002, when ASU was No. 1, or the previous one in 1987, when the Sun Devils were 13th.

"'Others were pollings of students and readers,' she said. 'This time, it was just some editors who thought of some great party schools.'"

In other words, why waste all that money on asking people what they think? We'll just make it up as we go along. A small comfort to Dr. Crow, I imagine.

Of course, party rankings really don't mean all that much:

"'When students are hunting for a university, it's not a significant issue to students if it's on a party list,' Mark Nickel, spokesman for Brown University (33rd on Playboy's 1987 listing of party schools), said.

"But there's another concern about such ratings. John Lucas, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, blames the publications and Web sites for glorifying the party culture.

"'It causes a problem on campus,' Lucas says of Wisconsin's being ranked in the top 10 on some lists. 'It becomes self-fulfilling. Students say, "We need to follow those rankings. We have to drink more, not just three or four, but seven or eight, instead."

University of Wisconsin police have taken 44 students to the emergency room this fall because they were so drunk, Lucas says. That compares with 25 last fall."

On the other hand, the other article in the Arizona Republic backed up some of Dr. Crow's assertion about how Arizona State is becoming a top-notch university:

"Arizona State University is the country's fourth-highest producer of Fulbright scholars among public universities for the current school year.

"And while ASU ranks 13th nationally with 14 students participating in the country's largest international exchange program, the school's acceptance rate - nearly 40 percent - was higher than all Ivy League institutions.

"'It really does send a signal to the country that we are a very serious research university. It shows we have a wonderful faculty and students that are doing interesting things and I think that's important,' said Janet Burke, associate dean for national scholarship advisement and internships at the ASU Barrett Honors College."

Returning to the original article, Labels frustrate ASU, UA: Tempe fights party reputation; Tucson says it's not Dullsville, the Republic concluded by writing:

"For all the ballyhoo about which school is more about partying than academics, a closer examination of ASU and UA [the University of Arizona] finds they look a lot alike.

"For the 2004-05 freshman class, UA accepted 83 percent of applicants, while ASU accepted 86 percent. The average UA freshman's high school GPA was 3.4; ASU's was 3.3. The average SAT scores of the schools differed by only 10 points.

"Guess they'll have to sort out their real differences later tonight on the football field."

Which, of course, ASU won, 23-20. :)

Arizona State's Zach Miller scores in a 2-point conversion to tie the game, 20-20.  Arizona State went on to beat inter-state rivals, the U of A, 23-20!

November 23, 2005

Desperate American Women?

Renee Thomas, left, and Angela Keathley, right.A couple weeks ago, I resisted the temptation to blog about the two Carolina Panther cheerleaders, Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas, who may or may not have been making out with each other in the bathroom stall of a bar. But then there was the story of 37-year-old Lisa Lynnette Clark, who got pregnant by and married the 15-year old friend of her teenage son. And now, this morning, I read about the case of Debra Lafave, the 25-year-old middle school teacher who plead guilty to two counts of "lewd and lascivious battery" for having had sex with her 14-year-old student.

Lisa Lynnette ClarkIt's making me wonder, just what-the-heck is going on back in America? What are these women thinking? The two boys I can understand. At that age, the hormones are fully raging, American culture fully encourages pre-marital sex (through movies, TV, advertising, and popular music), and the older women offering themselves would be an enormous temptation. But these boys are minors, and while they may have the intellectual and emotional capability to make a proper decision, they may not have enough worldly experience to understand the ramifications of their actions. (Unless Clark has an abortion, how is the 15-year-old going to cope with his impending fatherhood?) The women, on the other hand, are all of an age where they are expected (and legally obligated) to know better. So, are these cases of "desperate American women?"

Debra LafaveAnd what do these three cases say about American men? Pro football cheerleaders who may be hot for each other instead of for guys? A thirty-something divorcee who'd rather bop and marry a teenage boy instead of trying to meet an adult man? And a 25-year-old newlywed who found a 14-year-old more interesting than her brand new husband?



Click here for the latest on Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas.

Posts of mine on Lisa Lynnette Clark:
  • Lisa Lynnette Clark Gonzalez Speaks
  • Lisa Lynnette Clark to be Released from prison
  • What Ever Happened To... Lisa Lynnette Clark
  • Lisa Lynnette Clark Timeline
  • Lisa Lynnette Clark gives Birth
  • Desperate American Women?

    Debra LaFave has had all charges dropped against her in Marion County, Florida (although she will still be on probation for charges in Hillsborough County).

    LaFave also has been interviewed by NBC's Matt Lauer.
  • November 18, 2005

    Dennis Prager, Mobile Accidents, and Coretha Henderson

    This morning's roundup of readings:

    Dennis Prager's recent column in the LA Times has caused some reaction by various Muslims and non-Muslims. CAIR, of course, has responded in the Islam OpEd piece, "A Muslim Response to Prager’s ‘Five Questions.’" Umar Lee, who writes one of the edgier Muslim blogs, also has a response: "Muslim Answers to the Questions of Dennis Prager." Perhaps the best response I've read, though, came from Professor Juan Cole, in his blog, Informed Comment: "Muslims and the 5 Questions."

    Then, while reading Underwater Light this morning, I found a link to this article: "Cellphones Get Broken by Tight Jeans." According to the article:

    The most common reasons for "Mobile accidents" according to 300 Swedish retailers.

    1. Dropped the mobile on the ground.
    2. Squeezed the cellphone in tight jeans/pockets.
    3. Used the handset in the rain.
    4. Throw the device on the ground in rage.
    5. The dog/child got hold of the mobile.
    6. Dropped the cellphone in the toilette.
    7. Dropped the handset into the sea.
    8. Forgot the cellphone on the roof of the car.
    9. Perspiration on the mobile during workout.
    10. Dropped the handset in the snow.

    This article resonated with me because, a few months ago, a friend's handphone was ruined when his pants were washed without the pockets being checked first. :)

    Finally, there was an interesting article about the punishment of Coretha Henderson by her mother:

    Coretha and Tasha HendersonTasha Henderson got tired of her 14-year-old daughter's poor grades, her chronic lateness to class and her talking back to her teachers, so she decided to teach the girl a lesson.

    She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."

    "This may not work. I'm not a professional," said Henderson, a 34-year-old mother of three. "But I felt I owed it to my child to at least try."

    In fact, Henderson has seen a turnaround in her daughter's behavior in the past week and a half. But the punishment prompted letters and calls to talk radio from people either praising the woman or blasting her for publicly humiliating her daughter.


    Coretha has been getting C's and D's as a freshman at Edmond Memorial High in this well-to-do Oklahoma City suburb. Edmond Memorial is considered one of the top high schools in the state in academics.

    While Henderson stood next to her daughter at the intersection, a passing motorist called police with a report of psychological abuse, and an Oklahoma City police officer took a report. Mother and daughter were asked to leave after about an hour, and no citation was issued.


    Coretha, a soft-spoken girl, acknowledged the punishment was humiliating but said it got her attention. "I won't talk back," she said quietly, hanging her head.

    She already has been forced by her parents to give up basketball and track because of slipping grades, and said she hopes to improve in school so she can play next year.

    Donald Wertlieb, a professor of child development at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, warned that such punishment could do extreme emotional damage. He said rewarding positive behavior is more effective.

    "The trick is to catch them being good," he said. "It sounds like this mother has not had a chance to catch her child being good or is so upset over seeing her be bad, that's where the focus is."

    -- (Source)

    Personal Note to Coretha: I understand that you feel humiliated by this experience and, quite frankly, I'm surprised that you would stand on that street corner or even have the above photograph taken. But I want you to know one thing: Your mom loves you and has your best interests at heart. It's all too easy to sit back, ignore your education, then wonder why you didn't get into the college you wanted or why your career is going nowhere.

    The article says you're on your school's basketball and track teams. That's great. I hope you're very competitive and do well in those sports. But guess what: competing in sports is nothing compared to the competition you'll face in the real world. People compete all the time. Job applicants compete to get jobs. Salespeople compete for customers. Nations compete for businesses, and so on. Right now, the United States is slowly losing out because countries around the world (especially here in Asia) are much more willing to compete than Americans are. Like you, many Americans have sat back, ignored their educations, lost their business competitiveness, and now wonder why they've lost their jobs to outsourcing or have stagnant wages.

    The good news is that you don't have to be like these other Americans. Take your education seriously! You should strive for A's in every class, regardless of the subject (and whether you like that class or not). Try to get into the best university. And then, when you finally graduate and join us in "the real world," I hope you'll be wildly successful. And, insha'allah, if that all comes to pass, I hope you'll thank your Mom for making you stand on a street corner.

    Good luck!

    November 10, 2005

    Brand "Michael Jackson" / Brand You

    I found this question on MENJ's blog:

    "Although he once famously told Paul McCartney that he was a lover not a fighter, Michael Jackson now finds himself with a tumultuous battle on his hands. Despite the not guilty verdict, his career and finances hang precariously in the balance. His advisors know the only hope is to resurrect the Michael Jackson brand.

    "What do you think this next step should be for the Michael Jackson brand? Think about who his brand should be talking to and how best to reach them."

    MENJ thought the question was "bizzare" (sic), but as a business lecturer I think the question is quite appropriate for someone seeking a marketing position. Actually, the question is not only relevant for marketers, but for all of us who seek jobs. Tom Peters has long stressed the need for people (employees) to create "Brand You," in which we think of ourselves as a brand to be marketed to other people (employers). And I wholeheartedly agree with the concept.

    So I would ask my readers: (1) How would you answer the above question, and (2) (not to be answered here) what do you think you should do for yourself, for "Brand You?"

    The Puppet Master?

    Two comments in Dan Froomkin's November 8th column in the Washington Post ("Bush's Tortured Logic") that caught my eye. The first was taken from Thomas M. DeFrank's article in the New York Daily News, "Dubya-Cheney Ties Frayed by Scandal":

    "Multiple sources close to Bush told the Daily News that while the vice president remains his boss' valued political partner and counselor, his clout has lessened -- primarily as a result of issues arising from the Iraq war.

    "'The relationship is not what it was,' a presidential counselor said. 'There has been some distance for some time.'"

    No surprise there. I read about this almost two weeks ago in Justin Raimando column, "Earth to Bush: Ditch Cheney" (31 October 2005). But what was interesting was the second comment that Froomkin quoted, from James Carroll's article, Deconstructing Cheney," in the Boston Globe:

    "When the World Trade Center towers were hit in New York, it was Cheney who told a shaken President Bush to flee. The true nature of their relationship (Cheney, not Bush, having shaped the national security team; Cheney, not Bush, having appointed himself as vice president) showed itself for a moment.

    "The 9/11 Commission found that, from the White House situation room, Cheney warned the president that a 'specific threat' had targeted Air Force One, prompting Bush to spend the day hiding in the bunker at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska. There was no specific threat. In Bush's absence, Cheney, implying an authorizing telephone call from the president, took command of the nation's response to the crisis. There was no authorizing telephone call. The 9/11 Commission declined to make an issue of Cheney's usurpation of powers, but the record shows it."

    Which makes me the President's recent slump in the polls due to this distancing between Bush and Cheney?

    November 9, 2005

    What People Want

    One of the things I enjoy doing daily is checking out my web counters. I'm curious as to where people are from and what types of information they're looking for. So it should be of no surprise that I keep an Excel file of web traffic statistics and other data.

    In October, Dictator Princess had an amusing post about what her readers were looking for. What follows is something similar.

    In the past two weeks or so, I've had several unusual searches that led to hits on my three blogs. In no particular order, they are:

    • "Dirty images of Sania Mirza" - From India. To be honest, this type of hit has become very "garden variety" in recent weeks. There are a lot of horny guys in India (but also in Pakistan, the U.A.E., and elsewhere) who are looking for nude photos of the rising young Muslim tennis star, Sania Mirza. One guy, last night, typed in "www.sania" for his search, and wound up here. (Web address squatters, take note. ;) ) I've written a couple of posts regarding the controversy surrounding the fatwa on Sania's tennis court apparel (see the sidebar for links), but the only picture I have of her on my blog is a rather typical shot of her hitting a tennis ball with her racquet (and, of course, she's fully clothed).

    • "Slavegirl brainwash" - From Argentina. One can only wonder what this guy was thinking.

    • "Ukranian hookers" - From Redmond, Washington, USA. Bill, say it isn't so! I thought you were happily married. (Just kidding!!! ;) ) Actually, this hit was from someone coming across my story about my visiting Texas Street (located in Busan, South Korea).

    • "Islam and gay marriages" - From Leicester, UK. One word: Haram!

    • "German shepherd smoking a pipe" - From Lakewood, Colorado, USA. I gotta admit, the first image I had in my mind was of a dog of the German Shepherd breed smoking a pipe. :) Although it makes more sense to think of a shepherd (occupation) who is German (nationality) smoking a pipe. Someone coming across my Shepherds Wanted - Must Know Accounting post.

    • "Sex with mother-in-law" - From the United Arab Emirates. Ewwww! One word: Haram! (See 4:23)

    • "Naked people posing sheep" - From Lakewood, Colorado, USA. This came in last night, and it's another one where you really have to wonder what this person was thinking.

    To be fair, I also get a large number of "normal" hits, hits where the request is not only reasonable but suggests areas where I should expand upon. For example, "Muslim names" (I get a lot of these), "Muslim praying time in Bangkok," "Caucasian Muslims," "Geert Hofstede quotations," and others. (Hofstede, in case you don't know, is a Dutch academic famous for his cross-cultural studies.)

    Still, if you look at my keywords, "sex" has brought in six hits, but so has the word "Muslim." "Naked" has brought in 18 hits (probably all associated with Sania Mirza), but "Islam" has brought in 38. But, of course, my number one keyword to date is "Sania" (67 hits and climbing).

    November 4, 2005

    Xenophobia in Florida

    So, I guess I should not be surprised. A city councilman up for re-election has made bigoted comments against his opponent, a Christian who was born in India.

    Sherrill derided Abraham's accent at a political forum hosted and videotaped by the John Knox Village retirement community Oct. 12.

    "I don't know what to rebut because I don't understand what he was saying, and I don't mean that facetiously, I really don't understand him," Sherrill, who wears a hearing aid, told the group of about 40 people.

    He added that when Abraham speaks at city meetings, council members are "baffled" by what he says.

    First, perhaps you should let the other council members speak for themselves; personally, I suspect that you're the only person "baffled" by your opponent's speech.

    Secondly, if you can't understand what other people are saying (regardless of whether they're your political opponents, constituents or fellow council members), perhaps it's time for you to step aside in favor of those who can.

    In a later interview with the Sentinel, Sherrill said that residents would not vote for Abraham if they saw and heard him.

    "I'm usually not prejudiced, but I don't want an Indian in my government," Sherrill said. "As far as I know he could be a nice guy, but these kind of people get embedded over here. . . . You remember 9-11."

    Incredible. That is the cheapest shot I've ever heard any politician make. You, sir, have sunk to the lowest low. Remember, his opponent is Christian, but that matters not one whit to Mr. Sherrill, who apprently equates foreign-born Americans to being potential terrorist cell members. (Hmmm, I wonder what he would think of Arnold Schwarzenegger? Foreign-born, thick accent, and he certainly knows how to handle a gun...)

    In the meantime, the opponent is taking this situation in better stride than I might if I were in his shoes:

    Abraham, who learned English at age 5 and taught the subject at a university in India, said he isn't angry about the remarks or the comparison to the terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

    "It is not a very intelligent comment," said Abraham, 60, a political newcomer. "That is just part of his personality that I cannot correct."

    And the xenophobic bigot begins to show his true color - yellow

    In a follow-up interview Friday, Sherrill backpedaled from his earlier remarks. Sherrill, 69, said they probably came out because he has been under stress from serving on several boards and taking care of his wife, who uses a wheelchair and an oxygen tank. "I'm a little bit bent out of shape," he said. "I think it might have been taken out of context, because I don't really feel that way."

    Sherrill said he was just repeating what he has heard.

    Coward! "Everyone else says this." Time for you, Mr. Sherrill, to retire, stay home and help your wife.

    Eid Mubarak and New Banners for You :)

    First of all, Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim brothers and sisters. This Ramadhan was one of the more difficult for me, due to a fairly severe and persistent head cold and case of bronchitis that hit me in the last third of the month. Despite the illness, I continued fasting and was happy to make it to Eid, alhamdulillah. Eid was yesterday for us here in S'pore (we don't follow the moon-sighting rule due to the weather here); Milady and I went to her parents' flat, then to her aunt's flat in the next block over as that's where her grandmother lives. Of course, home-and-home visits will continue throughout the next few weeks, insha'allah.

    Brother Abdul Khafid has been busy with creating more Muslims Against Terrorism banners. Below are the latest five banners, two for Malaysia, two more for Singapore, and a new version for the United Kingdom. All of the banners can be found on this page. Please put the appropriate country banner on your blog, and suggest that your friends do the same as well. If your country's banner hasn't been made yet, feel free to make the suggestion to Brother Abdul. He has been more than happy to make them, and encourages your feedback. All he asks is that you don't hotlink your banner to his website.

    Malaysian Muslims Against TerrorismMalaysian Muslims Against Terrorism
    Singapore Muslims Against TerrorismSingapore Muslims Against Terrorism
    British Muslims Against Terrorism