Weekend 5-13-12

I attended commencement this past Friday, which is unusual for me. Under normal circumstances I stay far away from campus over commencement weekend, and for good reason. This is a weekend on which noise is made and the lawns of law-abiding citizens are vomited upon. I do not have a lawn — I live in an apartment building, which is good because plants, including lawns, are not one of my areas of strength — but you hear things, sometimes. I know someone who knows someone who lives near a bunch of frat houses at a large southern state school in Alabama and she has a pair of “condom tongs.” I guess we should be glad the kids are using protection though, right? And indeed who among us has not, at some point, thrown up on and/or gotten it on near someone else’s lawn?

The reason I attended this time was that my cousin was graduating from the business school. Normally there is a sort of natural antipathy between business school types and people like me — or perhaps antipathy is a strong word. A kind of mutual incomprehension. They condescend to us and we secretly suspect that their discipline has no content. But never mind that right now. I approve of commerce. I do not doubt that business schools are teaching something. I have no idea what it is, but I’m sure it’s something.

Anyway, I genuinely like my cousin and wish her well, so I went to the business school commencement. There was what I suppose was intended to be an inspiring speech by a guy who runs some large company, in which he used phrases like “taking the initiative” and “growing a business” and mentioned “leadership” a lot. I was not inspired, but I was not the target audience, so I’m sure it was fine. People seemed to like it.

There was a brass quintet! My aunt (my cousin’s mom) is also in a brass quintet and she and I both cringed a little at the volume of the sound – they’d miked the quintet, which, being a brass quintet, was plenty loud to begin with. (My aunt plays the French horn.) But we were outdoors in a tent, so I guess they were worried the sound wouldn’t carry. It did, I assure you.

There is no real point to this story, other than the brass quintet. My aunt and I do not see eye to eye on many things. She is a creationist, for example. She also believes that the government destroys everything it touches and I . . . I am a state employee. As of August, I will be teaching at a public university. But we can have a meeting of the minds as far as music is concerned.

6 thoughts on “Weekend 5-13-12

  1. I think you can feel quite comfortable about the business school for business schools do teach things but they have almost nothing to do with business. I speak with the authority of someone who for many years managed graduates of the world’s finest business schools. The truth is the business school is a sort of Nature reserve for displaced social scientists. Can’t get funding to study headhunters in New Guinea, go study GM workers in Dayton and so on.

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    1. Excepting the ones educated abroad, I doubt any one of the business majors at my school would have known what New Guinea is. It clearly wasn’t among the world’s finest business schools, but it did suck up a lot of the university’s budget to no clear advantage, either to the university or to civilization as a whole.

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      1. Ah yes, undergraduate business “education” really is rather pointless. My experience was with MBAs. Most of them had a degree in something a bit less contentless as well.

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        1. I get the impression from my cousin (now an MBA!) and others that the coursework and research/projects are a mixture, depending on the student’s focus – sometimes it’s economics or psychology/sociology and sometimes it’s more technical stuff like accounting, all of which clearly have content and purpose – but there seems to be a significant slice of it all devoted to buzzwords, networking and handshakes, which is the part that always makes me wonder about content.

          Did the MBAs you worked with tend to find that what they learned was worthwhile? If so, I take back the statement about lacking content.

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          1. There is some core content to an MBA that is highly relevant; cost accounting, basic marketing theory, some strategic frameworks. IMO most of that can be learned in about six weeks (that’s how I did it!). Most of the rest is case studies plus a load of BS. The case study stuff might be better learned on the job. I suspect there’s more teachable stuff for corporate finance specialists (not my field) but for core ops, strategy, marketing most of the theory is junk.

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            1. Ok – this makes sense to me. Sounds like the students are learning things that are useful/important to know, but there may be a fair amount of padding going into making it into a full two-year degree.

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