Tag Archive: University of Oregon


The beer stand at Oregon’s Moshofsky Center indoor “tailgate” party offered an intriguing choice last Saturday.

One could purchase a 16-ounce Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale for $10.

Or one could consume two 12-ounce Coors Lights (a.k.a. “The Silver Bullet”) for the same price … $10.

Here’s the question: What is more important … the quality of the beer or the cost of the suds?

Back in college we never blinked about the source of our fermented hops, water and barley, our only considerations were access and cost (e.g., Oly quarts for 55 cents).

Heck, we even tapped keg beer and consumed nothing but foam.

When contemplating this national issue, consider that Oregon is celebrated for its microbrew culture (along with Pinot Noirs and Cannabis).

Almost DailyBrett is a big fan of user friendly Mirror Pond pale ale with its smooth full taste, reasonable amount of malt and barley, and low alcohol.

But would your author … even for a nanosecond consider drinking two Coors Lights (24 ounces) for the same cost of one Mirror Pond (16 ounces)?

The real question: Was yours truly willing to make “love in a canoe” in the name of thrift?

“Life Is Too Short To Drink Cheap Beer”

The Germans are legendary for their beers, namely golden (helles) and dark (dunkles) lagers.

Das Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law goes back to München 1487, five years before Columbus set sail for the New World.

Besides setting its protectionist standard for beer (e.g., no Silver Bullets in Deutschland), the Germans also coined the above phrase about life being simply too short to ingest Coors Light or any other Ausländer lager, let alone English ales.

For Almost DailyBrett, is his expected stay on this planet way too short to even consider … let alone drink … Coors Light regardless of price?

Mirror Pond pale ale is the anchor brand for Bend Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, and favorably rivals Chico California’s Sierra Nevada’s Pale and Ft. Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium’s Fat Tire.

Admittedly, $10 is pricey for a one half-pint when you consider you can buy a “sixer” at your local supermarket for approximately the same price. One should also consider and weigh the ambiance of game day at Moshofsky with several thousand of your most intimate fellow Duck fans.

Isn’t Gemütlichkeit or being warm and fuzzy all over with kindred spirits the same whether one Mirror Pond or two Coors Lights are being carried and consumed?

That question is the essence of the dilemma. How many beers do most people quaff before, during and after a nationally televised football game (e.g., Oregon’s 17-7 win over Cal)? For Almost DailyBrett, the answer is typically two.

Okay, let’s rephrase the question: Two Mirror Ponds for $20 (32-ounces total) or two Silver Bullets for $10 (24-ounces).

Would your author actually Make Love In A Canoe?

Gasp, would yours truly consume two beers that are F…… Close to Water?

Alas, dos Coors Lights were the shameful order of the day in direct violation of the Reinheitsgebot, and everything we hold dear in America.

At least your author was not tempted by PBRs at any price or quantity.

When it comes to a race to the bottom, yours truly will only stoop so low.

https://www.coorslight.com/av?url=https://www.coorslight.com/

Mirror Pond Pale Ale

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot

 

… and no one is there to read his posts, do they make any sound …

… and does anyone give a particle of bovine excrement?

Ten years ago today, Almost DailyBrett was digitally born by means of hundreds of keystrokes on an IBM compatible, WordPress and an Internet connection.

Drum roll: A grand total of seven souls (page views and/or unique visitors) ventured to read your author’s blog in the summer month of economic discontent,  July, 2009. The predictable and rhetorical ‘Why Bother?’ question was not far behind.

Your author’s life was changing. He was guided by the immortal words of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page:

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”  

Was my blog the commencement of my own, “Stairway to Heaven?’

Even though your author’s odometer was already showing mid-life mileage a decade ago, there was still plenty of fuel in the Miata. There was an acute need to move the personal brand to New Frontiers and yes, to decide on a new path and to change the road.

Since that pivotal day 10 years ago — July 21, 2009 — Almost DailyBrett’s 573 posts …

Garnered 520 reader comments …

Generated 162,373 page views …

Enticed 110,421 unique visitors …

Hailed from approximately 170 countries around the world.

It is humbling to contemplate the equivalent of a Michigan “Big House” with each seat occupied, spending some of their precious irretrievable discretionary time reading Almost DailyBrett.

Did some arrogant academic (redundant?) types suggest that Web 2.0 blogging is dead? Yes there are oodles of deceased blogs along the path — they all started with great enthusiasm and better intentions — but thousands of decomposing writers laying by the roadside should not be interpreted as the end of blogging, maybe just the end of the beginning.

Those Troubling Widowers

Looking back on Almost DailyBrett’s nearly 600 posts, there are wide variety of topics and themes, which constitute the Top 10 blogs:

  1. The Trouble With Widowers (This post keeps on giving each day even though it was composed in 2012), 18,990 page views
  2. NASDAQ: WEED (Predicted publicly traded marijuana companies), 14,653
  3. Farewell LSI Logic (What is and what should have never been?), 4,379
  4. The Decision to Pose for Playboy (Bared my opinions), 4,106
  5. Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility (Not mutually exclusive), 4,023
  6. Magnanimous in Victory, Gracious in Defeat (Easier said than done), 2,423
  7. Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes (Joe Biden on horrific family loss), 2,247
  8. One Page Memo: Now More Than Ever (Makes more sense than ever in our digital world), 1,902
  9. Competing Against the Dead (She’s gone, and she is not coming back), 1,628
  10. California’s Rarefied Air Tax (April Fool’s blog; Don’t give Gavin any ideas), 1,050.

Your author would be remiss if he did not point out that his “About” page has drawn 1,071 page views.

Yes, a successful blog can pay dividends in terms of personal branding and the ongoing perception of accomplishment. Writing Almost DailyBrett certainly did not hurt yours truly in securing a tenure-track assistant professorship of public relations at Central Washington University at 59 years young. 

Total Douche-o-Rama

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy.”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News.”

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

These are just some of the nicer comments your author approved for posting on Almost DailyBrett.

After 10 years in the blogging trenches sending out rhetorical salvos and more than a few occasions receiving less-the-pleasant feedback and name calling, here are 10 hard-earned rules for blogging:

  1. No one was put on this planet to read your posts. A blog is the ultimate discretionary read. Someone is spending precious nanoseconds of their finite life to read your blog. Boring and lame does not cut it.
  2. Digital is eternal. The most important public relations is your own personal PR. Never blog when you are upset, sleepy and certainly not when you are intoxicated (Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network)
  3. Double Check and Double Check Again. The difference between “pubic relations” and “public relations” is one letter. The level of embarrassment is huge. Don’t rely on the Microsoft Spell Check. If the wrong word is spelled correctly, you are still personally wrong
  4. Employ Pull and Push (in that order) to Generate SEO/SEM. Juicy tags and alluring categories are irresistible to the Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing algorithms. Your blog should always be on page one following a Google search. Social media uploads are essential
  5. Write to Your Strength/Experience. Not everyone shares your interests. Some blogs will do better than others. Follow your passion. Accept that some blogs will barely register a blip on the rhetorical Richter Scale
  6. Be Provocative, Not Notorious. The last thing anyone wants or needs is another partisan rant on social media. Almost DailyBrett has a point of view (e.g., Buy Low Sell High),  but refrains from being another screaming talking head
  7. Avoid Overt Partisanship. In our increasingly tribalized society, your blogs are not going to radically shift public opinion.  Offer new ways to approach an issue. Who knows? You may move the dial just a smidge, and in our polarized world that is and of itself … an accomplishment.
  8. Buy Low Sell High. Offer a proven philosophy. Demonstrate through thoughts and example that economic freedom (albeit not perfect) is still the best way to provide for prosperity and in the end, the pursuit of happiness
  9. Have Thick Skin … to a Point. Don’t blog if you can’t take the heat. Inevitably, someone will not be pleased with your prose. Celebrate responses to a point. You do not need to accept slurs, profanities and name calling
  10. “Opinions Are Like Assholes, Everyone Has One.”  There are times when your personal experience (e.g., press secretary), if you are sure you want to share, maybe can help others. If so, a blog author can be closer to an angel as opposed to an ass ….

And as recommended by University of Oregon Journalism Professor Carol Stabile, write 15 minutes every day. Some days will be better than others. Blogging is a gift of the digital age. The ability to project your thoughts to all continents in mere nanoseconds was inconceivable before 1995. There is a great responsibility that comes with blogging, but an incredible opportunity as well.

Almost DailyBrett note: Even though he went to UCLA and received his B.A. in English (and eventually rose above this baby blue malady), the initial inspiration came from my forever friend and colleague Brian Fuller, editor in chief at ARM. The former editor of EE Times recommended blogging in general and WordPress in particular at a time when his advice made the greatest impact. The success of Almost DailyBrett is in part is attributable to Brian. Buy Low Sell High, my eternal friend!

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/the-one-page-memo-now-more-than-ever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianfuller24/

 

 

 

 

“Neutrality for the sake of neutrality doesn’t really serve us in the age of Trump.” – Jim Acosta, author of “The Enemy of the People”

“The (CNN) chief White House correspondent is saying out loud that Trump is so dangerous that he cannot be neutral, which is another word for ‘fair.’” – Howard Kurtz on Acosta’s “stunning admission”

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the least fair of them all?

Jim Acosta is the greatest correspondent in the history of the planet, and if you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett … just ask him.

His network and many others are invested in demise of one Donald Trump, never mind the 62 million Americans who voted for POTUS #45 in 2016 or more importantly, the 306 electoral votes he compiled.

Story ideas that are favorable to the president are discarded or damned with faint praise, and any morsel — no matter how sketchy the source — is seized upon by the frothing apex predators at CNN and other liberal networks.

They were certain that Madam Secretary would win the presidency.

They were counting on Robert Müller to produce a report that would end the age of Trump.

They are rooting and championing any Democrat with a heartbeat and pulse running for president.

Almost DailyBrett started his studies at the USC School of Journalism in the heady media days following the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

The standard as enunciated by the Most Trusted Man in America, CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, was the imperative to secure and accurately present both sides of every story … whether you agreed with one side or the other.

The same applied to CNN’s universally respected anchor Bernard Shaw, who posed tough penetrating questions to leaders on both sides of the aisle.

Skepticism was essential. Cynicism was to be avoided. Objectivity was the Holy Grail. The goal was to follow the story to where it ultimately led, and then to present both sides clearly and succinctly. You were expected to be professional and neutral.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t analysis born out of the facts on both sides of a given issue. The commentaries of Erik Sevareid of CBS are still classic … even though by making this reference your author’s age is showing.

Reporters Decide Right and Wrong?

“ … He (Acosta) told Publishers Weekly there aren’t two sides to the story when it is a matter of right and wrong. Right and wrong in the opinion of journalists? Sure!” – Howard Kurtz

No one cares about the personal opinion of a journalist, even the chief White House correspondent for CNN.

As Clint Eastwood, playing the role of “Dirty Harry” so famously said: “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.”

There aren’t two sides to every story? Hello?

Sorry to mount the soap box: Almost DailyBrett totally, utterly and completely rejects that premise.

Remember taking Pro Seminar, an exhaustive review of communication philosophy, at grad school at the University of Oregon. Your author never took upon himself to determine the Kantian differences between right and wrong for consumers of mass communication. That lofty aspiration was simply above Almost DailyBrett’s pay grade.

Diva Journalism?

When you take an unhealthy mix of narcissism and combine with a nightly anti-Trump harangue, you come up with the ultimate White House Press Corps’ diva, Jim Acosta.

Jim Acosta may actually be besmirching the good name of … arrogance.

Acosta’s 354-page first-person-singular tome with 100 “I” references and 25 “me” mentions is a celebration of CNN’s chief White House correspondent’s service to the country, the planet, the galaxy and the universe.

Will Almost DailyBrett break down and shell out nearly 20 bucks and purchase Acosta’s, “The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time To Tell The Truth in America?”

Wonder how much the Acosta page-turner will cost a year from now at the discount book rack at Walmart?

Almost DailyBrett Editor’s Note: The credit for “Hero of His Own Book” goes directly to Howard Kurtz, who used these exact words during his Media Buzz review of Jim Acosta’s book. Kurtz is a long-time and widely respected critic of political media for the Washington Post, CNN and Fox News.

https://contemptor.com/2019/06/16/fox-news-media-analyst-jim-acosta-should-be-grateful-to-trump-for-raising-his-profile/

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/dan-gainor-media-obsessed-with-polls-and-trump-comments-on-campaign-aid-acosta-obsessed-with-acosta

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/the-death-of-objective-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/oppositional-journalisms-victory/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/lose-lose-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/what-happened-to-bernie-shaws-cnn/

 

 

 

A “memorable” $211,703 Porsche or Land Rover?

A “visible” $86,423 Rolex?

And let’s not forget the applicable taxes on these two giveaways: $179,977 and $38,005 respectively.

For those scoring at home, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) provided $516,108 in goodies to one man: newly minted co-CEO Keith Block, 57.

The Salesforce.com Compensation Committee justified the corporate largesse in its proxy statement filing:

“In this case, the committee approved this award because it believed that recognizing Mr. Block’s leadership and success in achieving company goals was warranted, and that doing so in a memorable and visible way would be motivational not only for the executive, but for other employees who observe exceptional performance being rewarded in exceptional ways consistent with the company’s philosophy of paying for performance.”

Paying for exceptional performance?

Does Block walk on water? Does he change water into wine? Does he dole out loaves and fishes to feed the hungry?

Before being named co-CEO last August, Block was already earning $2.3 million annually in salary and bonuses (not including stock option exercises) as the company’s vice chairman, president and chief operating officer.

Almost DailyBrett extensively researched and taught the relationship between fiduciary responsibility (doing well) and corporate social responsibility (doing good) as a master’s student at University of Oregon and later as a PR professor at Central Washington University.

Your author also served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) for a decade including preparing 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K news releases and regulatory filings for financial media and the SEC.

More to the point, Almost DailyBrett is a long-time Republican, free-enterprise supporter, and up-to-now a more than satisfied shareholder of Salesforce.com founded by fellow USC alum Marc Benioff.

Let’s state here and now: giving away a cool car and groovy watch (plus paying related income taxes for these two goodies) is inconsistent with Salesforce’s fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders … including not trying to be SaaS-see,  yours truly.

God help the company’s corporate PR department.

Ready to make chicken salad out of chicken feces?

How do you defend the indefensible? How do you stand-up on behalf of the untenable? Did the Compensation Committee discuss its decision with the PR types before giving away a Porsche and a Rolex to Monsieur Block?

And where is Salesforce.com located? San Francisco.

Do you think Bernie, Kamala or Elizabeth supporters residing in the Sodom and Gomorrah by the Bay are going to seize about this outrageous caper as an example about everything wrong with corporate America?

Occupy Salesforce?

Publicly traded corporations (e.g., Salesforce) provide the products we need (e.g., enterprise software), employ millions (e.g., CRM, 29,000) and provide a return on capital to millions investing in their retirement, health care or children’s education.

Buy-side (i.e., mutual funds, retirement systems) and sell-side (i.e. Goldman, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley) institutions hold 82 percent of Salesforce’s 774 million shares outstanding.

In contrast, Almost DailyBrett is a lowly Charles Schwab retail investor with 300 shares.

If your author threatened to sell all of his shares because he is upset by the Keith Block giveaways, would company even notice, let alone care?

Heck, your author’s holding is a friggin’ corporate rounding error.

Salesforce has demonstrated by its regulatory filing temerity, it really doesn’t take fiscal stewardship and fiduciary responsibility seriously.

Actions speak louder than words. The perception and reality both stink.

No carefully massaged explanation and no amount of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – including calling for local tax increases to take care of the homeless – are going to change the undeniable fact that giving away a luxury car, a costly watch and paying the related taxes for one lousy executive … is wrong.

Dead wrong to be precise.

Almost DailyBrett editor’s note: According to Business Insider, the company did not disclose the exact make or model of Keith Block’s new car and watch. However, an educated guesstimate was made by the digital publication based upon the disclosed sales prices and related tax payments for the two luxury items. If the company actually bought Block a Lamborghini instead of a Porsche, your author will accept personal responsibility for the egregious mistake.

https://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-ceo-keith-block-car-watch-2019-4

https://www1.salary.com/Keith-Block-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-SALESFORCE-COM-INC.html

https://www.salesforce.com/company/leadership/bios/bio-block/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

 

 

 

“(The intent of the Tax Wall Street Act is to) drive leeches that are front running the market out of business.” – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) on CNBC

Is the Eugene, Oregon-based author of Almost DailyBrett, a lecherous leech?

Your author builds a career. Your author works all of his life. Your author pays his fair share of taxes. Your author chooses the time (2018) and place for his retirement (Eugene).

Sounds good, but …

My congressman, Mr. DeFazio, wants to double tax everyone’s retirement with a 0.1 percent tax on every stock or mutual fund trade we will ever make as long-term investors, conceivably until it’s time to meet our respective makers.

Ostensibly, DeFazio’s tax targets high-frequency/high-velocity investors, many disguised as algorithms. The only problem is his sweeping tax also applies to millions of real middle-class people … including retail investors residing in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District.

All they want to do is invest their already taxed discretionary income to fund their retirement, pay for their children’s education (e.g., University of Oregon) and maybe to pursue their dreams. Alas, Rep. DeFazio has introduced the “Tax Wall Street Act of 2019” with its punitive stock and mutual fund trade tax.

Mr. Congressman, my family is not Wall Street in Manhattan. We are East of Willamette Street in Eugene.

The honorable congressman thinks he is punishing Wall Street, when he instead is taking dead aim at America’s investor class or the 52 percent of Americans (approximately 170 million), who invest in individual stocks or mutual funds.

Many of these mutual fund investment trades are made by pension managers and by individual employee managed 401Ks at work (e.g., public employees, including school teachers). Almost DailyBrett maintains a humble retail account with Charles Schwab. Sorry, no Goldman Sachs for me.

Why are you (DeFazio) sticking a Wall Street tax on all investors who live in your district, and any other investor in every congressional district across the fruited plain?

DeFazio’s Dithering Performance on CNBC

CNBC’s Kelly Evans asked you point blank on “The Exchange” last week why you didn’t “target” high-velocity algorithmic day traders instead of proposing a sweeping tax, which applies to every middle-class investor in the country.

You dithered, Congressman DeFazio. You know, you did.

When Evans inquired about the use of the projected $777 billion in additional revenues, you suggested restoring some of the expanding deficit triggered by tax reform. Congressman DeFazio didn’t know where and how the money will be spent. He only wanted to sock-it to Wall Street and with it, middle-class investors.

Maybe, you should Occupy Wall Street? How did that movement work out?

Fortunately, there are enough adults in the House of Representatives and certainly in the U.S. Senate to ensure this bill goes absolutely nowhere.

Having made this point, the coast is not clear. The mindset of my congressman and his partner in crime, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and without a doubt many others in positions of immense power, indicates an antipathy to all publicly traded companies (none of which are headquartered in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District).

Every issue large and small seemingly requires the same remedy: a new tax.

Congressman DeFazio, you need to understand that middle-class retirees in your district have already been taxed on their nest eggs. Under your plan, each-and-every-one of your investing constituents will pay an additional tax just for the right to continue to invest their hard-earned money on their futures.

You know you are wrong, but you will piously insist you are right … err correct.

Almost DailyBrett has never been a “high-velocity” trader and never will be.

Just hoping to keep up my velocity for years to come.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/03/08/rep-peter-defazio-on-the-tax-wall-street-act.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/wall-street-tax-act-financial-illiteracy-in-congress/

https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/its-premature-to-start-freaking-out-over-the-wall-street-tax-act-liz-ann-sonders

http://investsnips.com/publicly-traded-companies-in-oregon/

 

 

 

 

The University of Oregon’s student run newspaper, The Daily Emerald, reported that one registered Republican serves on the university’s Law School faculty, and another in its Political Science Department.

To these two poor souls Almost DailyBrett promises to keep your political affiliation, secret. Seriously.

For those of you scoring at home, these two departments sport 44 registered Democrats and two Republicans. Since 2015, more than 98 percent or more than $235,000 in donations from university faculty has been directed to liberal causes.

Only 98 percent?

Working on my 2012 master’s degree at UO, your author could imagine Adam Smith and his “Wealth of Nations” being embraced at the Lillis School of Business. According to the Emerald, only 50 percent of the business school faculty are registered Democrats.

About 100-yards to the east, the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) offers a totally different atmosphere.

Close your eyes. You can envision a lecture by Che Guevara being packed to the rafters. Don’t have to imagine the championing and teaching of Karl Marx, even though his philosophy continues to fail today (e.g., Maduro’s Venezuela).

Is the real philosophical gulf between the overwhelming number of faculty Democrats vs. the un pequito Republicans or more between those who embrace Social Justice and those who defend Capitalism?

For What It’s Worth

“The cultish professor who self-evidently reinforces a set of political beliefs is not something that just about anybody openly and consciously says is okay.” – Professor Craig Parsons, UO Department of Political Science chair

Amen.

The regular readers of Almost DailyBrett long ago determined your author is a registered Reaganite Republican and a staunch supporter of Buy Low, Sell High.

For my M.A. at the University of Oregon, your author created a college course in corporate communications and investor relations and taught it for more than five years.

Remember telling my students each quarter that whether they individually support or oppose capitalism, the main purpose of the class is to provide a realistic explanation of how global markets work. We also assessed the vital role public relations professionals play in presenting to investors an accurate picture of company financials and how a corporation makes money.

As Professor Parsons correctly states, it’s not appropriate for professors to indoctrinate their students. Instead, they should instill their profession-based knowledge – in this case, Wall Street and SEC disclosure rules – about how the real world works.

Is the goal of a university to develop activists or to prepare professionals to succeed in our free-market-driven, digital economy?

Does Political Stridency Enter The Classroom?

Alas, way too many times strident political discourse is being posted on the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media pages by professors. They will piously claim they are exercising their cherished First Amendment right of free speech and therefore commenting as a private citizen.

But what happens when their online rhetoric becomes the subject matter for a course syllabus, and thus is transformed into the classroom for discussion, follow-up quizzes, midterms and/or finals?

Will the student toe the philosophical line in order to secure a good grade?

One overly eager activist associate professor was requiring her students to watch the anti-Vietnam War documentary, “Hearts and Minds.” What about the individual hearts and minds of her students?

Another dean prompted her college to sponsor a series of lectures on mass incarceration, which is all well and good … except there were no speakers from the correctional/law enforcement community.

When asked about the absence of balance in the lecture series, she retorted: “There are no other views.”

Okay?

Disgraced commentator Bill O’Reilly was once lamenting to the late great Charles Krauthammer about the preponderance of liberal faculty on America’s college campuses. Krauthammer told him to accept a reality, which will never change.

The real issue is whether a professor’s political philosophy permeates into the classroom. Almost DailyBrett for the most part was impressed with Millennial students. They are the most-educated generation in the planet’s history and the most moved by experiential learning.

Let’s provide them with the facts about how the real world works and life-long skills (e.g., how to read an income statement and a balance sheet), and then give them the opportunity to excel and grow.

Dominating a classroom to forcefully instill your chosen political philosophy to develop activists is wrong and inappropriate.

Starting later this month, this practice will undoubtedly raise its ugly head once again.

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2018/08/20/does-it-matter-if-your-professor-is-a-democrat/

Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Do bears fertilize Yellowstone?

“Most of the literature supports that argument, which is incredibly destructive because professors are dumbing down their classes for better evaluations.” -University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh

“Professors to some extent can ‘buy’ good evaluations by giving high grades, so the evaluation process is probably a major factor in grade inflation.” – Richard Vedder, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumbing down classes?

Buying good evaluations?

Why do SEOI (Student Evaluation of Instruction) results hold a disproportionate impact on whether an assistant professor achieves tenure at major universities or small colleges?

Sure there are other contributors particularly august empirical research, but student evaluations are given so much weight that some professors may be prompted to go easy on their students.

Are these students ready for the reality of a boss? Have they become, the boss?

If tenure is the Holy Grail for academics, do college professors literally sell their collective souls to drink from the golden chalice?

Will professors avoid teaching difficult classes at unpopular times (e.g., communications research at 8 am) to protect tenure?

If they knew they had to bite into the forbidden apple by sweetening an undergraduate’s grade would they do so in order to earn tenure, making it nearly impossible to be terminated?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the academic world stage right in two months and one day (who is counting?), there are thoughts that keep coming back about how to improve higher education … if that is still possible.

My sentiments are not based upon cynicism, but a realistic acknowledgement about how difficult it is too meaningfully change the culture on our campuses, particularly when the adversaries are powerful professor unions and their CBAs (collective bargaining agreements).

What Is The Purpose of College, Anyway?

“Student evaluations can be useful when they are divorced from tenure, retention and promotion evaluations.” – Former Duke University Professor Stuart Rojstaczar

Walking along faculty office hallways, your author has been repeatedly stunned by assertions that the purpose of a university is to ensure that a student succeeds in her or his chosen … major.

Is the major an end in itself? Finis? Endo Musico?

If that is true the onus is not on whether a student is preparing for a career, but how a professor teaches courses and advises these fledglings in order to simply graduate.

Faculty über alles?

Almost DailyBrett has a differing view:

The mission of a college or university should be to prepare students to land positions with full benefits – not just jobs – in their respective fields of study. The results should be a happy and lucrative professional careers.

The curricula for a Department of Communication or a School of Journalism and Mass Communication should emphasize real-world courses, which lead to a recognized profession including: Digital Journalism, Film and Public Relations.

Are parents envisioning their child prodigy with tons of theory stuck in between the ears moving back home at 22-years-young?

How about reducing the tenure impact of the Student Evaluations of Instruction (SEOIs), and instead introducing a measurement that weighs how many of a professor’s students actually land positions in their respective fields of study and build meaningful careers?

Some are entitled to dismiss the musings of Almost DailyBrett, considering that your author is retiring after four years as a tenure-track assistant professor. This writer will NOT achieve tenure. Believe it or not, there are more ways than tenure to measure a meaningful career and life.

What is more exciting is how many of my students have moved onto the professional ranks and are thriving. As the airlines instruct us: “Put on your own mask before assisting others.” These newly minted professionals can buy low and sell high with their discretionary income because they have been prepared by professional schools.

Let’s see how they are doing in their fields? How can a university measure career accomplishment?

Every university has a “development” arm in the form of alumni associations. Similar to the IRS, alumni associations without fail will always find you.

You can run, but you can’t hide from … alumni associations. Rarely does a day go by without your author receiving a communication from his two alma maters: the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon.

Practicing evolution and not revolution, let’s retain … but lower the impact of student evaluations and academic research. Let’s add into the mix how well our students are doing in landing real positions and building happy careers.

As Sheryl Crow sings, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/17/professors-and-the-students-who-grade-them/student-evaluations-offer-bad-data-that-leads-to-the-wrong-answer

https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/student-evaluations-grade-inflationdeclining-student-effort/24926

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/07/18/uo-study-finds-correlation-grade-inflation-student-course-evaluations/

 

“The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”– Legendary Marquette Basketball Coach Al McGuire

What strategies can American colleges and universities employ to ensure that more freshmen do indeed become sophomores?

Consider the question this way: The late Intel President and CEO Andy Grove wrote about strategic inflection points in his 1996 best seller, “Only The Paranoid Survive.”

There are a few strategic inflection points in everyone’s life.

Get them right, and life may be a good thing as Martha would say.

Get them wrong, and life may end up simply running out the clock of life drinking PBRs in a dive bar.

What Almost DailyBrett is talking about are those poor souls who fall by the wayside may be directly attributable to the failure to make the transition from the freshman to sophomore year in college.

Based upon the experience of your professor author — more times than naught — is once a student takes time off after the frosh year to take a job, the overwhelming chances are the student never comes back to college.

Worse yet the student may have already incurred an educational loan, ending up with the double whammy of zero degree and crushing debt on the books.

Life is off to a miserable start, and it may only get worse.

Are these former students prepared for the demands of our service-oriented, digital, coding-dominated workforce? You know the answer.

Are they one “bad day” from being unemployed … yet again?

Forget about discretionary income to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, these lowly sods are living pay check-to-pay check.

Sure there are examples of early college drop-outs – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – who become billionaires, but how many reach the Three-Comma-Club anyway?

Grooving With A High School Diploma

“If you think education is expensive; try the cost of ignorance.” – Former Harvard President Derek Bok

The numbers may be a tad outdated, but the story is still the same.

Pew Research reported in 2014 a startling gap between those who attain a BA/BS degree (let alone a master’s or Ph.D), and those with only a high school diploma.

The percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree in poverty three years ago was 5.8 percent; the percentage of those with a lowly high school diploma in poverty was 21.8 percent or more than one-in-five.

The college grad made on the average $45,500 per year; the high school diploma holder, $28,000 … a $17,500 per year delta. Multiply a $17,500 gap (which most likely will grow exponentially) by a 40-year career and the gulf reaches $700,000.

What does the $700,000 (at least) gulf mean?

This staggering number translates into the college graduate having discretionary income to invest in markets. Since the depth of the 2009 recession, the S&P 500 is up 270 percent. For 2017, the Dow Jones has increased 22.2 percent, the benchmark S&P has climbed 17.4 percent.

Many ponder, pontificate and bloviate about the growing economic separation between those who succeed in our interconnected, digital, service-oriented economy. Pew provides insights into the gap between those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree (about 29 percent of Americans) and those who don’t.

Colleges and universities are rightfully attuned to the percentage of entering freshmen, who graduate within the next five years.

Almost DailyBrett is asking a different question:

If many would-be sophomores are dropping out and co-signing themselves to a meager life (maybe even poverty), including one-bad-day-away from being unemployed, shouldn’t we be more concerned about freshmen retention?

Let’s review the U.S. News & World Report records for freshmen retention of four universities of particular interest to Almost DailyBrett:

  • University of Southern California, 96 percent freshman retention to sophomore year (BA degree in Broadcasting Journalism, 1978).
  • University of Oregon, 87 percent freshman retention rate (MA in Communications and Society, 2012).
  • Arizona State University, 86 percent freshman retention rate (Offered Ph.D Fellowship).
  • Central Washington University, 77 percent freshman retention rate (Presently employed as an Assistant Professor).

Some loss of frosh students because of plain, old life, and that is to be expected.

Losing 10 percent-to-20 percent or more of a freshman class should set off alarm bells.

Will these lost students be tomorrow’s poverty dwellers?

That may sound extreme, but then again it may not.

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/freshmen-least-most-likely-return

https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2014/07/fewer-freshman-college-students-returning-for-sophomore-year

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/11/19/u_s_college_dropouts_rates_explained_in_4_charts.html

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/562419

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/running-out-the-clock/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-role-of-college-in-exacerbating-economic-inequality/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/02/stocks-are-high-but-investor-numbers-are-low.html

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/central-washington-university-3771

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/asu-1081

After at least four years of more lectures, labs, study groups, readings, papers and presentations than you would ever care to count, the prospect of taking up to another 18 months to attain a master’s degree or maybe even four years to earn a Ph.D is a prospect most graduating seniors would rather not even think about.

And yet the question still persists for some: Should you seriously consider taking the advanced degree plunge right here and now following graduation? Consider that even more employers are requiring advanced degrees; many want MBAs.

Before answering this perplexing interrogative: Consider the unmistakable NFW response by the author of Almost DailyBrett in 1978. Yours truly had just received his bachelor’s in Broadcasting Journalism from the University of Southern California. There was simply no way when it came to the question of signing up for even more college.

I was done, thank you very much.

Looking back at that easy-and-yet momentous decision, your author now regrets not pursuing a master’s degree right then and there, when he was as free as a bird … no spouse, no kidlet, no mortgage, no car payment … absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were right in Stairway to Heaven: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

A confluence of events in my life (i.e., widowerhood, adult daughter, real estate appreciation, fellowship) gave me that one-last-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree in mid-life at the University of Oregon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was very fortunate, very fortunate indeed.

Died and Went to Heaven

When the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication offered me a fellowship, your author jumped at the opportunity in two nanoseconds or less.

You should do the same, if you are selected for an on-campus fellowship at a R1 university.

Becoming a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) provides the following benefits:

  1. An absolutely free master’s degree or Ph.D … yep no-instate or better yet, no out-of-state or private school tuition;
  2. Medical, dental and vision health care benefits for at least the fellow, and maybe the whole family as well;
  3. A stipend of $1,000 or more per month;
  4. Invaluable teaching experience as a teaching assistant to a professor.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote before, I appreciated this unbelievable deal and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was perplexing to say the least when the University of Oregon GTFs went on strike in 2014 … Patience, Kevin. Patience. Let’s not get started on this subject again.

Some have asked: Should I take an online master’s degree or Ph.D? My short answer is nein.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in public relations, marketing, journalism, broadcast, film etc., it is best to be on campus to directly interact with your colleagues and Ph.D professors. Sorry to say, file sharing and texting just don’t cut it.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in accounting, an online program may be appropriate. Having said that, communications requires – face-to-face interaction and diplomacy – no online program can help you advance these interpersonal story telling skills.

What about the necessary evil? The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Brace yourself and come to full acceptance mode as quickly as possible. Any graduate school worth its salt (sorry University of Phoenix, that designation does NOT apply to you), particularly a Research One or R1 university, will require the GRE.

Your author took it twice, the second time after a prep course, and lived to talk about it. Take the prep course and do as well as possible on the GRE.

What About Grad School?

“No one does bull shit better than you.” – A compliment from one of my USC fraternity brothers

Trust me, bull shit does not work in Pro Seminar.

The two-night-per week, three-hours per class, was the most intense review of communications philosophy one can imagine (i.e., Kant, Marx, Althusser, Descartes, Hegel, Le Bon …). Don’t even think about going to class without doing the reading; you can’t hide in plain sight for three hours. Don’t even think about B.S.- ing a full professor with a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

And once you have navigated the benign sounding, but mind-numbing Pro Seminar class with its up-to-five hours per night of reading, you will be ready for … qualitative and quantitative analysis in the next quarter.

Sounds horrible? Right?

In reality, pursuing a graduate degree was an incredible and rewarding challenge. It soon dawned on me that I was only using a mere fraction of my brain. I made some great friends as well.

One of my profs said: “We are working on your intellectual growth.”

Intellectual growth? Me? Really?

Oh, did I mention that my master’s degree was an absolute prerequisite for landing a tenure track professorship in public relations and advertising at Central Washington University? Guess, learning about Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperatives was well worth it.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/did-a-perfect-storm-lead-to-the-gathering-storm/

 

 

Oregon will never be confused with Tuscany.

In Tuscany, thousands wait in line for hours to check out Michelangelo’s “David.”

In contrast, somebody in Oregon is named, “David.”

In Tuscany, one can queue-up for hours to admire Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” standing in her perfect sea shell.

In Oregon, one can find sea shells at the coast, not sure about Venus.

Frances Mayes’ book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and the movie with the same title tells the story of an American (e.g., actress Diane Lane) in search of a life change, and a little love too.

She made a totally impractical, impulsive decision. Seemingly on a whim, she bought a classic “fixer-upper” in Cortona, Tuscany and lived to talk about it. The book’s story and the heroine, who took the ultimate plunge, set off a series of similar decisions as literally hundreds of upper class Americans rushed to Central Italy to buy their own Italian villa in the sun.

Reportedly, some even asked the locals for the Italian word for “cappuccino.”

The author of Almost DailyBrett eventually made the trek to Tuscany with his new bride, Jeanne, to celebrate our honeymoon. We stayed in a 12th Century Italian villa on a bluff overlooking Il Duomo de Firenze, but we resisted the temptation to buy the Torre di Bellosguardo.

That does not mean your author is innocent when it comes to rash, impulsive decisions. In 2010, I came to Oregon at 55-years-young in search of a master’s degree, Oregon football games in the fall, and maybe a little love too.

The impulsive part comes into play when one asks: Why would a middle-age widower (being kind here) decide to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath 2,000-square-foot “tree” house for himself and his American shorthair feline, Percy?

Wouldn’t renting make more sense, particularly when one contemplates widespread academic prejudice: my chances of landing a teaching job at University of Oregon after graduation would be next to none? Renting easily made more sense, except for the George Carlin “stuff” factor.

Carlin’s comedic monologue about the never-ending acquisition of “stuff” (i.e., beds, dressers, chairs, tables, washer/dryer, fridge …) results in a predictable crisis. Can the author of Almost DailyBrett downsize from a 2,200-square-foot Monopoly (ranch-style) house in Northern California to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, and still find sufficient space for his stuff?

Let me interject right now: your author does not do orange metal doors surrounded by Berlin Bunker concrete (e.g., storage units = unintelligent loss of legal tender).

So what did all of the above make me? A displaced Californian with equity to transfer, looking for a tree house to display his stuff, and live and study as well … Under the Oregon Clouds.

Spider and The Fly

On more than one occasion, it has been questioned why would a single-at-the-time, follicly challenged mature dude acquire a 2,000-square foot house with a deck, hot tub and occasionally serving prosciutto and melon with Sangiovese? Was my Eugene house the human equivalent of a spider’s web, looking for “some little girl to fly on by” as suggested by Mick Jagger in The Spider and The Fly?

Almost DailyBrett will piously declare the primary purpose for the turn-key Eugene house with next to zero backyard maintenance was to serve as a place to study, research and finish a master’s degree in Communication and Society. The next steps were finding a full-time teaching gig. The wonderful new wife came later, even though my eyes were always surveying the horizon for both.

The aforementioned Jeanne became Mrs. Brett on her own recognizance, and yours truly was offered a doctoral fellowship to Arizona State University and a tenure track professorship at Central Washington University, taking the latter position.

What that on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand decision meant was transporting my new bride, two alley cats and our  “stuff” to a townhouse in Ellensburg, Washington and renting out the house Under the Oregon Clouds. That plan worked for two years until the renters (e.g., Stefanie and George) decided to move.

Considering that our move back to Eugene was not coming anytime soon, we made the decision to sell the house Under the Oregon Clouds. Think of it this way, a house is bricks and mortar or some variation of that theme. We can always buy another house, another day maybe with sun above. Right?

And yet, the house did not sell as the rain fell during the winter. The house Under the Oregon Clouds is quirky (e.g., it has character). It has three flights of stairs, a car-port instead of a garage (for your stuff). Das Haus ist nicht für Alles.

It did not sell. We couldn’t be happier.

Someday, we will once again visit the 12th Century Firenze villa Under the Tuscan Sun.

More importantly, we will surely move back to that special tree house Under the Oregon Clouds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_the_Tuscan_Sun_(film)

http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/under-the-tuscan-sun/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0CSs4Nf-64

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