Musician turned business professor
Feb07

Musician turned business professor

Professor of accounting Kirk Fischer loves to teach, and he especially enjoys teaching accounting. He did not realize his love for teaching, however, until later in life after he gave up his first love of music. While growing up in Rockford, Ill., Fischer dreamed of being a rock  musician. If you saw him today in his clean haircut and business casual clothes, you probably would not believe that he got to live that dream during the ‘60s and into the mid-70s as the keyboard player for the rock band Flagship. In the ‘60s Fischer listened to bands like The Doors, and his favorite keyboard player of all time was Chester Thompson. Fischer said, “Ray Manzarek from the Doors was one of my heroes. … It was pointed out to me when I was a kid that I was very good at being a musician, so I naturally headed that way. It became the pursuit of fame and wealth. It was about ego.” Though he played nearly 10 years, the band never performed on the big stage. Fischer’s decision to get out of music came because he got married and had to support a family. “One of the reasons I left rock and roll music was drugs. I can say that I was never a participant of the drug culture, but I was a direct witness. It was also very pragmatic. I had a family to feed.” He chose accounting because he thought it would be practical. He soon came to realize that not only was he good at accounting but also he sincerely enjoyed it. “I decided to get a bachelor’s degree. From, ‘81 to ‘84, I attended Northern Illinois University. At this point, my children were coming along,” Fischer said. “I gave up music in about 1981. I raised my family and started my business. There were no regrets, and I was content that I had been there and done that.” Fischer spent 20 years working in the  business world. He excelled at his job and went to the executive ranks of Professional Datasolutions Inc. Though successful, he was not fully content and began to ponder retirement. “I had what my wife would call a midlife crisis, but it was more of a reassessment. You start questioning how does this end?” Fischer said.“A retired doctor at my church gave me the book Finishing Well. What was put forth by the author was that we as professionals have accumulated significant skill sets, and we have a responsibility to use that skill set until that skill is used up.” He had always enjoyed teaching and since he lived in Temple,...

Read More
The end to online piracy?
Jan24

The end to online piracy?

You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a baby. You wouldn’t murder a grandma and then steal her wallet. You wouldn’t steal a movie. Piracy is a crime. This is essentially the message of a popular anti-piracy commercial that often precedes movies on DVD and in the cinema. Obviously only a sociopath would do things like commit murder and steal cars without remorse. There is no comparison. Of course, you will likely steal a movie if you know how to download it. Stealing a car requires significant effort, and you are likely to be caught. Stealing a movie, however, requires very little effort. Once you find a website that has the films available, all that is necessary is typing what film you want to watch and approximately four clicks of your mouse. You could get a virus on your computer, but the odds are low as long as you are not stupid. The best part is that the victims are richer than you will ever be in your lifetime, so you don’t feel any guilt. Downloading movies illegally truly is a crime of convenience. As people choose the easy way more and more, major media companies have begun to report sizable losses. Many large players in the media industry are pushing for strict legislation against piracy. This has led Congressman Lamar Smith to propose a bill to end illegal sharing of software and media by blocking all sites that distribute those materials. The government wanted to create a firewall that would censor the Internet. The language in the SOPA bill was vague and had harsh punishments for those in violation of the law. It looked like it was from the Ayatollah of Iran. The Internet decided to strike back. On Jan. 18 several major websites including Wikipedia, Imgur, and Reddit all blacked out to protest the proposed SOPA bill. Their homepages were replaced with images that explained their view on SOPA and messages imploring visitors to contact their congressional representatives and senators. Google also threw in its support by blacking out the logo over the search bar and adding a link to information against SOPA. Some websites, knowing the average person doesn’t have their representative’s office on speed dial, had easy ways to find  representatives. Wikipedia reported that four million people found out their congressman’s information. The phone lines in Washington were jammed. Most congressional aides spent the day answering phone calls. Many newspapers have reported that numerous congressmen have pulled their support from the bill. Representative John Carter of the 31st district of Texas announced on his Twitter feed that he has withdrawn support of the bill...

Read More
SGA to create freshman seminar bill for non-traditional students
Jan24

SGA to create freshman seminar bill for non-traditional students

The Student Government started the semester with eight vacant spots. Some members have graduated; some have  resigned, and others have moved up from officer position to a spot in the executive cab. Seven seats are empty in SGA. Along with losing several class officers, Kirsty Brischke is no longer the SGA adviser. She has been replaced by Tiffany Wurdemann. Even at the beginning of the semester a number of bills are in motion. One of the largest changes will be to the constitution. Internal Vice President Caitlin Hiett is spearheading the plan. Hiett said, “I work with the class vice presidents on the constitution. Our main goal this semester is to completely change it. We are going to have a skeleton constitution that is cut and dry.” Hiett only wants the essential elements of SGA in the constitution. Her plan is to cut it from a 15-page document down to three pages. There is also a plan to have a manual that will incorporate more rules. She said, “We amend the constitution every year, and it becomes a mundane task. It should really only be amended every five years. We are trying to make it narrow.” The executive cabinet is planing a service project for which SGA members will serve students. This was suggested by President Kassidy Harris. A specific project has not been decided, but the plan that is being discussed involves a finals week gift package. Harris said, “We are looking into how to serve the students during finals. We are probably going to give out free scantrons. We don’t know exactly though; it is still in the planning.” Along with the structural changes,  officers are researching a number of significant bills. They include legislation for a campus radio station and a new freshman seminar course to be offered to non-traditional students. Sophomore Christian studies major Senator Eddie Kahler is continuing to push forward on two bills, the radio station bill and another regarding printer points. He reported that the radio bill has gathered support from members of the communication department. Kahler said, “It is a hefty bill. There are lots of details to work out, licensing, where to store the equipment, and who will do all the work. Slowly but surely we are making progress. I’m going to talk to Dr. Weathersbee … and the communications department at some point.” Many of the non-traditional students at UMHB have military backgrounds. They may be incoming freshmen, but they have more worldly experience than the average 18- year-old. SGA is attempting to pass a bill that will create a special freshman seminar for such students. Kahler said, “We...

Read More
New group grows rapidly, promotes culture
Jan10

New group grows rapidly, promotes culture

The Association of Black Students is one of the university’s newest organizations and is starting out full force as it gains numbers. It is responsible for the campus gospel choir and step team. Last semester they spearheaded a breast cancer awareness campaign called Pink Out. Director of Student Organizations Tiffany Wurdman said, “They are one of the most active organizations, and they are a group we have met with a lot because they are passionate about bringing change to this campus.” The organization was chartered a year ago and started as a small group of seven friends. In a year it grew to a thriving group with 70 official members and 30 active members. President of ABS senior communication major Jasmine Austin said, “At the end of the year, we wanted to expand. We were thinking we could get six or seven more people and then we could really do something, but at the sign up date we had like 100 people sign up.” Contrary to what the name might suggest, the Association of Black Students does not exclude other ethnicities from joining the group. It a diverse group of students with members that hail from all walks of life. The aim of the organization is to create a broader understanding of black culture. ABS Vice President junior criminal justice major Pearlie Gault said, “We are not discriminating against any person at UMHB. We are basically here to educate everyone about the black history and the culture of African Americans. Our motto is black is the presence of all colors.” The gospel choir was one of the first parts of the association. They have not performed at many events and are still getting off the ground, but they have at least two performances scheduled this semester. The step team is a recent addition to the organization. It is a small team of roughly eight members. Last semester they performed for a Preview Weekend event. Austin said, “ Our step team is ambitious. They want to expand and perform at more events. I think that when they do begin to book dates, they will get bigger.” ABS hopes to continue to grow  this new year. They have a number of events planned for black history month including an open mic night, an event called Gospel Explosion and a special black history themed chapel. The first open mic night is scheduled just after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Director of Media Services Dr. George Harrison will do an impression of Martin Luther King and give a speech. Along with some poetry readings and songs, important facts about black history will be...

Read More

An age of deception

The Internet is the source of a plethora of information, and with the explosion of  smart phones, the world is literally at your fingertips. Directions to your grandmother’s house, Aaron Rogers’ career passing yards and a synopsis of The Cave by Plato are available within seconds. Yet we live in an age of misinformation. Full of disclaimers and fine print, advertising has to be one of society’s greatest sources of false information. The distortion of truth has spilled over to the once objective profession of journalism. In the last decade, different news agencies were guilty of manipulating photos. In 2006 Reuters published a photo of the aftermath of a bombing in Beirut. The picture was altered to make the smoke darker. A similar case of manipulation was Time’s darkening of O.J. Simpson’s mugshot in 1994. Along with the manipulation of photos, some stories are fabricated as well. In a 2004 broadcast, former CBS anchor Dan Rather purportedly used forged documents that discredited Bush’s involvement during the Vietnam War. Another journalist, Janet Cooke, completely fabricated a story about an 8-year-old boy who was addicted to heroin. Hoaxes persist through society,  but many of them are anecdotal. One of the most famous is the story of the NASA space pen. The gist of the tale is that NASA needed a pen that could write in a zero gravity environment, so they spent millions of dollars developing the instrument. The Russian space program simply solved the problem by using a pencil. The truth is that around a million dollars were spent in developing a “space pen,” but it was developed by a private company. The pen was then sold to NASA at roughly $2.95 per pen and eventually to the Russians as well. Using a pencil in a zero gravity environment is actually dangerous because if it were to break, shards would be floating through the cabin. It is common knowledge that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon. However, it is not common knowledge that this claim is false. In fact, no man-made object on the earth is visible from the moon. Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut, said, “The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white, some blue and patches of yellow, and every once in a while some green vegetation.” The truth about these tall tales is readily available, yet the myths persist. In some cases the myth is more romantic than the truth. Once a story has been told, it will be passed around, and it is difficult to undo the damage. As the quantity...

Read More