Archive for the ‘Popular culture’ Category

After decades of observing people in academia, I’ve come to a few conclusions.  Two of these conclusions are: professors are smart people, and the gap is very narrow between smart people and those who aren’t.

Plenty of professors have smart phones. So, shouldn’t professors (especially accounting professors) be smart about smart phones?  No, not really.

Laurie Essig is an associate professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies at Middlebury College.  She notes an interesting professorial practice in “Profs Fail iEtiquette 101,” (in Chronicle of Higher Education, may require daily subscription to read).  

[H]alf of those academics I heard from admitted they sometimes use the devices during meetings. When asked why, they said they used them to read materials related to the meeting, but they also checked e-mail and Facebook, texted, tweeted, and read Web sites unrelated to the meeting. …

The academics surveyed said they multitask only when the meeting is big enough that no one notices, only when it’s a mindless task like deleting e-mails, only when the agenda item doesn’t relate to them, only when the meeting is stupid and pointless, only when they need to check on kids, and only when they really “needed to.”

We who rely on people listening to us no longer believe we have to listen when someone else is speaking.

Yeah, so what else is new.  Twenty some years ago at my first department faculty meeting, I was surprised when two of my colleagues brought a stack of papers to grade during the meeting.  Over the years, I’ve seen faculty members read newspapers, journal articles, knit, sleep and snore.  Bringing a laptop, tablet or smartphone on which to do work now seems to be accepted practice.  I’ve done it myself.

textingOn the other hand, professors seem incensed when students use smart phones in class.  I’ve been monitoring a LinkedIn discussion (on The Teaching Professor) about cell phone policies.  Some professors claim to have confiscated phones, kicked students out of class, and lowered a student’s grade, all for a student caught texting during class.

It seems that smart phones and professors are two terms that don’t fit together, an oxymoron of sorts.  Professors have dysfunctional emotional outbursts when catching someone texting during class, yet routinely break the same rules when in someone else’s meeting.  At least in this matter, professors aren’t so smart after all.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Although officially called Thanksgiving Day in the USA, many call it Turkey Day. Ever wonder why?

I have many fond childhood memories of Thanksgiving in Iowa.  It was always spent with Mom’s side of the family.  Each year there was always a huge turkey and many pumpkin pies to eat.   There were so many pies, we kids were allowed to cut our own slices, as large as we wanted.  And Aunt Bessie’s whipped cream was the absolute best.

Thanksgiving feasts have changed quite a bit since then.  In America they are all standardized.  How so?  They all start at the same time–halftime.  And now we have space turkeys who go “Hubble, hubble, hubble.”

Ever wonder why a turkey is called a turkey?  Mignon Forgarty, the Grammar Girl, has the answer.  It turns out we should call it a Mexico.

One of my favorite TV shows was The Smothers Brothers.  Regular Jim Stafford always had a funny song for Thanksgiving.  Hope you enjoy.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Howard Andrew “Andy” Williams (December 3, 1927 – September 25, 2012) has died at age 84.  Although well known for hosting a TV variety show from 1962-1971, he is best known for singing Moon River.

He is not known for any direct ties to the accounting industry.  Neither has Moon River anything to do with accounting.

When I was growing up, I would watch his TV show.  During junior high dance nights, I would slow dance with a pretty girl to his recording of Moon River (I wonder if a very pretty blonde girl named Nancy still remembers).

Andy, you enriched my life.  I bid you a fond farewell.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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A meme is an image or recording packaged in such a way as to communicate a message or capture the fancy of those who see/view/hear it.  It is communicated via the Internet.   Their explosive impact has come of age in today’s social media world.

A few minutes ago I received an e-mail from Auntie Bev, into which she had pasted several meme images.  One caught my eye, and I’ve since been able to determine that it’s a true viral phenomenon, posted to thousands of blogs and Facebook accounts.

I’m not sure about the message of this meme.  Perhaps it is that some cheaters are unstoppable.  Or, masterful cheating is admirable.  Perhaps the message is that because cheating is unstoppable, it’s OK to do it.

Using my screen capture utility, I have snipped the following image from another viral meme.  It delivers quite a different message.

I suppose the message for this one is that opportunistic cheating is everywhere.  Or, it might be that cheating is due to teacher carelessness.  Whatever, the meme is funny.  Darn kids.  If this one would only try to learn as much as he tries to cheat.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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(c) BKA at CardinalAvenue.com

After hearing a sermon on Mother’s day 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd suggested to her Spokane pastor there should be a day for fathers.  There was, on June 19.  After decades of her promotional effort, observance became routine.

In 1966, President Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, and in 1972 observing Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June became a national law.

I am a father, and I can speak with authority on this subject.  On Father’s Day, a hug or a phone call is much more appreciated than the gift of a tie or shirt.

If there is a father in your life, either your own or a friend’s, then you should call them up or reach out to hug them.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  It originally started out as Decoration Day, observed on every May 30.  The first Decoration Day was in 1868 for those killed in the American Civil War.  By 1915, when grave decoration with red poppies became popular, Decoration Day had been expanded to cover the graves of all fallen veterans.

In 1971, the U.S. Congress changed the date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May, coupling the day to a weekend.  That changed everything.  No longer a day only for remembering fallen soldiers, it is now more comprehensive holiday.

I spent a part of yesterday reflecting on my parents, both of whom are now deceased.  I remember many extended family get-togethers with aunts, uncles and cousins.  They were great.  I also remember the many wiffle ball games in which my father played with the Albrecht kids and every other kid in the neighborhood.

This Memorial Day weekend, we focused on creating memories.  Both sons (28 & 24) were home.  They invited some of their 20-something friends.  We had an Indy 500 party, a wiffle ball game, and later on my sons and I played two games of Acquire, one of the best business games ever created.

The Albrecht boys develop a strategy to beat Dad in a game of Acquire.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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“Mommy!” from CardinalAvenue.com

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States.  The Summa wishes Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers of accountants, mothers who are accountants, and mothers who are married to accountants.

Mommy!“, the image at right, is from Cardinal AvenueCardinal Avenue is a site dedicated to home made cards. The artist honors her mother.

Mother’s day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May in the United States and in much of the rest of the world.  Mother’s Day Central has a nice write-up of the American holiday’s history.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Jack Tramiel has passed away at age 83.  He is famous for founding the company that produced the VIC-20 and Commodore 64.  The C-64 is the computer that sparked my interest in the use of computers in the classroom.  I am tremendously grateful or his creations.

Tramiel founded Commodore International in 1978.  He produced inexpensive computers.  The first one I bought in 1982 was the VIC-20.  Folks familiar with today’s computers and their gigs of RAM will find it difficult to believe that the VIC-20 had only 5K of RAM.

The VIC-20 accepted programs written in the BASIC programming language.  This was a relief, as I still had nightmares of writing assembler-level programs as an undergrad.  As an undergrad, computer programs were entered on punched cards for mainframe batch processing.  Programming on the VIC-20 was different.  Programs could be entered directly into RAM, without using punched cards.  I would type in a short game or other program published in a magazine, then spend hours playing it.  I remember a program called the Worm of Bemer, but don’t remember if that was a VIC-20 or C-64 program.  There also was the summer Olympics program, produced by Epyx.

The Commodore 64 program had 64K of RAM, and I purchased mine in 1983.  Programs could be more sophisticated.  The programs I used the most were a word-processor and a spreadsheet program.

At the time I was teaching at Andrews University, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Michigan.  The school purchased a few C-64 machines for its first computer lab.  I had students crunch numbers on them for a budgeting project.

When I entered the Virginia Tech accounting doctoral program in 1985, I wrote my papers on the C-64 and printed them on an electronic typewriter.  While others in the doctoral program wrote papers by hand, then typed them out on an electric typewriter (one’s spouse typed out his papers), I was high tech with my C-64.  I couldn’t have passed through the doctoral program without it.

Jack, I appreciate the work of your life.

Debit and credit –  – David Albrecht

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I’m an accountant, and this is my weekend.  I opted for the busy spring semester of academe instead of  busy season.  But on this weekend we can all take a break.  It’s the opening weekend of seven post-season D1 basketball tournaments.

There are many dozens of basketball games, with four tournaments for men’s teams (N-68, NIT, CBI, CIT) and three for women (N-64, WNIT, and WBI.

There are games to score, statistics to tally, and bracket contests to administer.   You do bracket contests, right?  Print out a blank tournament bracket and pencil in your predictions for every tournament game, 67 for the N-68 and 63 for the N-64.

Bracketology takes on a second meaning for an accountant–how to score the brackets for your contest.  I prefer weighting the first weekend heaviest, say 32 points for the 1st round (1 pts each game), then 32 (2), 24 (3), 16 (4), 10 (5), 6 (6).

This year I filled in brackets for the N-68 (men) and N-64 (women).  I did not fill out brackets for either of the NIT tournaments (men or women), although I have done so in past years.

I like bracket contests that are free.  After all, pride trumps any amount of money.

I teach an evening section of Intermediate Accounting for guys who can’t make it to the day section.  We decided to have a bracket contest scored by ESPN.  There are 320 pts each round, with points per victory depending on the round:  10-20-40-80-160-320.  I went with non-trendy pick Kansas.  So far, my crystal ball seems to be cracked. I’m standing at 20/32 and 10/16 for the first two rounds.

On the women’s side, I’m 25/32 in predicting 1st round winner.  I predict Baylor to win.

Remember, if you have money bet on your bracket and win,  then you must report it on your 1040.  Ask your contest administrator for a 1099.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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February 2 is Groundhog Day observed in North America.  As lived in folk culture, if a groundhog checks outside conditions this morning and sees its shadow, then six more weeks of winter are sure to follow.  If the sky is overcast and the groundhog can’t see its shadow, then spring is about to arrive.  A large Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Groundhog Day received a boost in popularity with the publication of the charming 1993 Harold Ramis film, Groundhog Day.  Bill Murray plays an exceedingly self-centered Phil Connors who must relive February 2 over and over again until learning to serve others instead of self.  I love the film, and consider it one of the finest ever made.

In the world of regulatory accounting, we can reflect on what a Groundhog Day forecast will predict, a longer time of winter or a new time of spring.  It seems as if we have been reliving (metaphorically, of course) a broken world of accounting.  Accounting is misapplied by corporate executives over and over again, leading to prolonged winters of scandal.  Large audit firms prolong this winter because they selfishly serve their own business interests instead of the public.

Of course we all know the forecast:  a longer time of winter.  There is nary a hint of changed conditions that would lead to selfless reporting of corporate financial results. We seem doomed to relive past cycles of accounting scandal.  Where is the accounting world’s Phil Connors?  Stuck in a time warp.  Just as are we.

Debit and credit  – – David Albrecht

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OK, I’m hooked.  Bill Hagaman, CEO and managing partner of WithumSmith+Brown, has created two dance videos for his firm.  Although they most definitely haven’t gone viral, they do attract viewers.

The slow loading 2012 video features a flash mob, comprised of dancing WS+B accountants.  A few of the professional staffers can cut a rug (really dance).  I like flash mobs, having seen my first in the hit movie, Friends with Benefits  (although there’s a cute mob scene near the end of Crocodile Dundee.    I would dance in a flash mob.  Perhaps we can try it at the next national conference for accounting professors.

Watch Party Rock, and see if it hooks you.

Don’t you like it?  Two viewer comments on YouTube say,

  • “I WANT TO WORK FOR WSB !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
  • “Love this! Wish I needed an accountant… I’d hire Withum in a heartbeat!”

If these comments reflect true sentiments of viewers, then the video’s release has accomplished its purpose.

Hagaman commissioned another dance video in 2011.  I’ve Got a Feeling is a low budget ($3,600) offering.  But its amateurishness signals sincerity.  CCH’s Public Accounting Report has a nice write-up on the 2011 video.

Thanks to Rick Telberg for the tip.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Book cookers should get coal from Santa.

Don’t know about you, but I like listening to Christmas music.  Religious, traditional classics, or even Mariah Carey, it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes it seems as if some of the songs were written for accountants and auditors.  Yes, buried deep in the lyrics are accounting and auditing standards.

Here’s an example.  For all those corporate execs who have been manipulating financial statements, here’s a warning from Santa Claus is Coming to Town:

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

I’m sure that if a large firm audit partner has let a client skate away from honest financial statements, there will be a lump of coal in his stocking this year. Santa is the accounting cop that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should be.  I nominate Santa for the head of the SEC Enforcement Division.

The purpose of this post is to write about Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for Christmas accounting.  These are rules for preparing financial statements based on the principle that it is better to give than receive.

In North America, a common question at this time of year is when to open gifts, Christmas eve or day.  We’ve done it both ways in my family, but this year we’re waiting for some time during the day.

How will you account for the gifts?  I expose the following standards:

1. Revenue is a function of what you give away.
2. Expense is a function of what is received.
3. You are in the the black of you give more than you receive.

A North American tradition is to exchange gifts.  Exchanging gifts doesn’t really count under this proposed standard.  You get points only for giving gifts that aren’t expected.  You lose points if you outsource.

On the balance sheet, assets and liabilities are reversed.

4. Assets are the gifts given that remain to be consumed.
5. Liabilities are the gifts received, whether consumed or not.
6. It is good if equity is positive.

Assets are to be valued at fair value, naturally.

If your P/L statement shows red this year (excess of expense over revenue), then now is the time to start planning for next year.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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