New Bookmarks
Year 2005 Quarter 3:  July 1 - September 30 Additions to Bob Jensen's Bookmarks
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Choose a Date Below for Additions to the Bookmarks File

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September 30, 2005

 

 

Bob Jensen's New Bookmarks on September 30, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University 

For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/ 
Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.  Think it over 
http://www.inlibertyandfreedom.com/Flash/Think_It_Over.swf

Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- http://www.costofwar.com/ 




Click Here for Tidbits and Quotations Between September 16 and September 30

Click Here for Humor Between September 16 and September 30

Click here for commercialization corruption of higher education --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#EducationCommercialization

Click here for business school ranking controversies --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#BusinessSchoolRankings

For Fraud Updates go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

For my Tidbits Directory go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbitsDirectory.htm

My communications on "Hypocrisy in Academia and the Media" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisy.htm 

My  “Evil Empire” essay --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisyEvilEmpire.htm

My unfinished essay on the "Pending Collapse of the United States" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm 




Economics is the only field in which two people can get a Nobel Prize for saying exactly the opposite thing.
Economist Jokes --- http://netec.mcc.ac.uk/JokEc.html


Jensen in a Blue Suit:  The head is somewhat familiar but where did that body come from?

September 26, 2005 message from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

Amy,

I agree with you, we wouldn't want Bob any other way. Bob is so energetic, he sends out links to all the interesting and related sites that I could ever possibly use. I recall when Ed tatooed a Nike swoosh on Bob's forehead. I've come to think of Bob as Superman in a crew cut. Can anybody come up with this image?

David Albrecht

September 27, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Amy and David,

Thank you for the kudos. I hate to take too much credit for some things that are mostly due to circumstance.

My wife is in New Hampshire awaiting my retirement from teaching in May. Aside from short visits once each month this fall and less next spring due to risks of blizzards in the mountains, I don't have much else to do besides work seven days per week. I've never really handled leisure very well.

I'm too old (and too poor) to chase wild women, and my single malt allotment is one ounce per day. In some ways the AECM is my therapy. Many years ago I was a library crawler in the stacks. I'm still a library crawler, but the stacks I wander through are now on the Web.

The example that I'm trying to set in academe is one of open sharing. My hope that some of our many lurkers will be become sharers in the likes of Jensen, Dunbar, Albrecht, Beresford, Fordham, Williams, Jagdish 1, Jagdish 2, Bonicker, Sansing, Campbell, Scribner, and the various others who weekly make the AECM something special. I include in this list the many of you who make less frequent but often more useful comments/replies on the AECM. I am truly grateful when we hear from subscribers outside the United States (even you Mac) who help to make this a smaller world and closer world.

And what I really like is the academic way in which we can vigorously debate issues without taking anything personally, even when Fordham and Williams go off on lengthy and sometimes emotional tangents (I love it). I'm actually grateful when Sansing, Williams, and others point out my errors and shortcomings. They do a great service to me personally by helping me to learn and to keep me from spreading long-lasting errors on the AECM.

What often disappoints me is that some lurkers need to be specifically prodded to share. They only tell us about their experiences with a type of software or database when a Dunbar or somebody else specifically requests a response. It would be better if they shared their experiences early on with new software and databases and interesting Websites before being prompted to reply on the AECM. Richard Campbell is very good about early-on sharing with software.

And I would truly like to inspire some of our younger and newer members of this profession to share more frequently with us. It seems like our most active contributors are getting along somewhat in years. We need to learn more from younger whippersnappers. I also wish that more of the leading current researchers in our top journals more openly shared on the AECM. It would be great if they discussed their research with us.

I'm forever grateful the Barry Rice for starting this listserv and the rest of you who truly work at making it one of the better forums in the world in terms of adding value to our teaching, our research, and even our entertainment.

Thanks for the good times,

Please turn up your speakers and
Imagine All the People --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/imagine.htm 
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on

Bob Jensen

September 27, reply from David Albrecht (using a picture provided by Ed Scribner)

Ed,

I believe you have captured the vision I have of Bob!

Dave

At 05:41 PM 9/27/2005 -0600, Ed Scribner wrote:

 


Stupid questions you may be asked in interviews

"Stupid Interview Questions," by Liz Ryan, Business Week, September 21, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/StupidIQ 

Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is the great-granddaddy of goofy questions, and I give you permission, if you have any misgivings about a job opportunity, to walk out the door when you hear it. It's such a time-waster that only the most hidebound interviewers will utter it, but it lives on.

Here's why it's dumb. No company will guarantee you a job for five years, much less a career path. To construct such a plan for yourself, you'd have to make predictions about industries, companies, and your likes and dislikes that could only serve to constrain your choices. And in any case, why is it so all-fired important to have a dang career plan in mind? Every successful entrepreneur and many top corporate people will tell you their key to success: I did what I felt driven to do at the moment.

So when you get asked this question, you can say: "I intend to be happy and productive five years from now, working at a job I love in a company that values my talents" and leave it at that. Or you can give the expected answer and say: "I hope to be three levels up the ladder, here at Happy Corp." Or you can say: "I hope to own this company," just to shake things up.

But for an interviewer to ask the question at all is a bad sign. Come on, people! There are millions of thoughts in the human brain. Can we change the ones we use in job interviews every decade or so?

If you were an animal/a can of soup/some other random object, which one would you be?
  This is a question typically asked of new grads, because it's considered cute. It's supposed to test how people think. But it's asinine. You can pretend to think about your answer for a moment (eyes to the ceiling, chin resting on hand) and then come up with something. Or stare blankly at the interviewer and say, deadpan: "Are you serious?" Or try one of these answers:

(Animal) "Oh, any crepuscular animal would do well for me -- a rabbit or a bat, perhaps." (Crepuscular means most active during dawn and dusk, so you'll get to show off your extensive vocab.)

(Soup) "Probably the low-sodium chicken broth." Fix the interviewer with a penetrating gaze -- she won't know whether you're mocking her imbecilic question or are deadly serious.

What are your weaknesses?
By now, such a large percentage of the job-seeking public has gotten clued in on the politically correct answer to this one -- which is, "I'm a hopeless workaholic" -- that the question's utility is limited. But it's also offensive.

This is a job interview, not a psychological exam. It's one thing for an interviewer to ask you what you do particularly well. It's another thing to ask what you don't do well and expect to get a forthright answer -- in a context where it's clear to both parties that you're being weeded in or out. The most honest answer might be this: "That's for me to know and you to find out." But that won't help your chances.

So if you can't bear to repeat the "workaholic" line, I'd say something that is true of yourself but also terribly common -- like the fact that you get bored easily, or prefer numbers to people or vice versa. None of these is actually a weakness, but that's O.K.

What in particular interested you about our company?
Now, on one level this is a reasonable question. If you say: "I'm interested in this job because it's three blocks from my apartment," you might not be the world's best candidate. But the disingenuous, and therefore offensive, aspect of this question is that it assumes that you have unlimited job opportunities and have pinpointed this one because of some dazzling aspect of the role or the company.

I mean, please. Most of the job-seeking population is living on the lower two-thirds of Maslow's pyramid, where the most appealing thing about any job is that you got the darned interview. Why am I interested? Because you guys called me back. But you can't say that, so you have to rhapsodize about the company's wonderful products and services and the world-class management team and so on.

Now, it's important to show that you know a lot about the company. But you have lots of ways to demonstrate that in an interview (and lots of ways for the interviewer to ask you to do so) without pretending that the company had to fight every employer in town to get an audience with you. Everybody involved knows the company is shredding 10 times the number of résumés it's reading, so let's not pretend it was your breathtaking credentials that got you the interview. It was the fact that the company responded to your overture, unlike 90% of the employers you contacted.

Below the director level or so, where it might be reasonable to assume you sought out the company for particular job-hunting attention, it's not necessary to pretend that you carefully chose it from a raft of others pursuing you. So unless you approached the outfit in the absence of a posted job opportunity, it's just silly to ask: "Why us?"

Rather, the interviewer can say: "When you saw our ad on Monster.com, what made you respond?" And, of course, the logical answer is: "Because I know I can do the job that was posted." Duh. No one said job-hunting was easy.

What would your past managers say about you?
This is a fine question, but it's not a true interview question. It's an intelligence question. It's like the question on one of those "honesty" tests that are becoming more and more popular in the hiring process (to add insult to injury, they're often called Personality Profiles): "Do you think it's O.K. to steal from your employer?"

These are intelligence questions because you have to have the intelligence to know the answer in order to be smart enough to go and get a job.

The trick here is to say something sufficiently witty or pithy to make you stand out from the crowd, because the standard answers are so tired: My managers would say that I'm hard-working, loyal, reliable, and a great team player. Snoozeville.

Why not try: My past managers would say that I was an outstanding individual contributor who also supported the team 100%. Or: My managers would say that I came up with breakthrough solutions while never losing track of the bottom line. You can probably dream up something better.

The point is, this is a softball: Don't think too much about it. It says more about the interviewer (who lacks the moxie to think up unique or penetrating questions) than it ever will about you.

The secret of good job interviewers is that they never ask traditional, dorky interview questions. They don't need to. They jump into a business conversation that does three powerful things in a one-hour chat:

a) Gets you excited about this opportunity (or, as valuably, makes it clear that you and this job are not a good fit)
b) Reveals to the interviewer how you'll fit into the role and the company, based on your background, perspective, temperament, and ideas
c) Gives you a ton of new information about the job, the management, the goals, the culture, and what life at this joint would be like.

If any of this doesn't happen, it's a problem. If you're lukewarm on the job when you leave the interview, or if you don't feel you've had a chance to show what you know and how you think, or -- worst of all -- if the interviewer used your time together to satisfy his need for more information about you while sharing almost nothing about the job, that's an enormous red flag.

And if you get called back for a second interview while you're still information-deprived, say so. "I'm interested in learning more about the opportunity before a second interview," you can say. "Would a phone call with the hiring manager be an effective way to help me get up to speed?" That kind of suggestion respects the hiring manager's time and won't waste yours on a second, no-new-data interview.

Try it. You might save yourself some aggravation -- along with some extra time you can use to work on your five-year career plan and on tackling those pesky weaknesses of yours before the next interview.

Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education

If we are really concerned about academic standards, then we should apply those standards uniformly to the University of Phoenix and the major universities now listed in the Top 25 NCAA Division 1 football, basketball, and baseball rankings.

Battle Over Academic Standards Weighs On For-Profit Colleges
Now Congress appears poised to pass legislation that favors the for-profits, a group of heavily marketed schools that are often owned by publicly traded companies. Traditional colleges -- the public and private nonprofit institutions from the Ivy League to state universities that long have formed the backbone of U.S. higher education -- are fighting the changes. The traditional colleges question the rigor of many of these newer rivals, which offer degrees in such subjects as auto repair and massage therapy but have also branched out into business and other courses of study. The eight regional associations that have long set standards for traditional colleges recognize only a few of the thousands of for-profit colleges. These gatekeepers evaluate everything from the faculty's level of preparedness to the quality of libraries. Meanwhile, some for-profit graduates have been left with heavy debts and unfulfilled goals.
John Hechinger, "Battle Over Academic Standards Weighs On For-Profit Colleges:  Many Traditional Schools Don't Accept Degrees; Congress Ponders New Law," The Wall Street Journal,  September 30, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112804419660556426,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Jensen Comment
I remind readers that there is a definitional definitional difference between the commercialization of colleges and the corporate (or for-profit) colleges.  Commercialization of not-for-profit colleges is in many ways a much more serious (at least much bigger) problem as is noted by former Harvard President Derek Bok --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#EducationCommercialization

The debate is really not over distance versus non-distance education except from the standpoint where both non-profit (even Harvard) and for-profit (notably the University of Phoenix) might try to cut costs and use distance education as a cash cow.  Bok lists this as one of his three most serious problems with the commercialization of non-profit universities.  For example, the 100,000 online students at the University of Wisconsin provide a serious source of revenue.

The so-called corporate model is simply a form of ownership that allows newer colleges and training schools to raise equity capital for financing new operations.  I personally don't think the model is necessarily bad per se.  Some corporate universities are quite rigorous and prestigious.  These typically are affiliated with prestigious corporations and consulting firms that help draw quality students into the programs.  The problem is that most for-profit schools are newer institutions that do not have established reputations required for drawing top students.  A university can never have academic respect without quality students.  In spite of Jay Leno's continued snide remarks about community college students, some of these students have great abilities and become outstanding students.  Jay now has dug himself into a hole on this one by ignoring appeals from community colleges to cease and desist.

My bottom line advice is to be careful about definitions.  Commercialization is an enormous problem for academic standards, curricula, and program growth/decline in not-for-profit as well as for-profit colleges.  So is the problem of academic standards when full-time basketball players from UCLA sue the university after four years because they still can't read.

If we are really concerned about academic standards, then we should apply those standards uniformly to the University of Phoenix and the major universities now listed in the Top 25 NCAA Division 1 football, basketball, and baseball rankings.

My added comments on this are at  http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#EducationCommercialization


Community colleges are upset with Jay Leno
Leno had perturbed leaders of two-year colleges with his occasional cracks and gibes questioning the intelligence of those who’ve attended the institutions, and by ignoring letters they’d written urging him to stop. So in June, Young, president of Ohio’s Northwest State Community College, hit upon an idea: inviting (daring?) Leno to hop on one of his Harley-Davidsons and ride with the motorcycle-driving Young while talking about community colleges. The comedian (or, more likely, his publicists) ignored that invitation, too, and so last month, the college announced that Young and some of her aides would head out to Hollywood, where Leno tapes “The Tonight Show,” on a seven-day swing in which they would also tout the crucial role that two-year institutions in preparing workers and educating lifelong learners.
Doug Lederman, "Letting Leno Have It (Gently)," Inside Higher Ed, September 29, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/29/leno


How can you play 70 games of baseball, half of which are out of town, and pretend to go to class?
"The Brutal Truth about College Sports," by Skip Rozin, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005; Page D7 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112673590440041002,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

Big time college sports are a mess. While headlines hype the new football season and speculate on an eventual champion, accounts surface daily of athletes' stealing, assaulting women and getting busted on alcohol and drug charges. And when a title game is played, shadowing the coverage will be news of woeful graduation rates.

Meanwhile, the juggernaut that is college sports keeps getting bigger, with more television networks airing more games, not just on weekends but during the week, and colleges expanding their seasons to meet TV's unquenchable thirst -- up to 40 games each basketball season and 70 in baseball.

. . .

College sports' current crisis has generated unprecedented reform efforts by groups inside and outside the establishment. The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics and the 16-year-old Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletes, for example, both work in cooperation with the NCAA. The Drake Group has bypassed the NCAA; its plan for full disclosure of all classes taken by athletes was read into the Congressional Record in March by Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky in hopes of getting Congress involved.

Their combined efforts have netted tougher NCAA academic requirements, but reform energy still gets bogged down in issues like the political correctness of team names. Substantive improvement has been minimal. The system is broken, and the impact is far reaching.

"The transgressions that universities commit in the name of winning sports undermine the values of the institution," says Derek Bok, former president of Harvard. "In all too many cases, they tarnish the reputation of the university by compromising its admissions standards, its grading practices, and the academic integrity of its curriculum."

To create winning teams, reformers believe, universities break rules on training, on the allocation of funds to athletics, and most frequently on athletes' eligibility. Deception begins early, when schools recruit sports prodigies who are ill-equipped -- or uninterested -- in academics. Popular rhetoric maintains that these students are preparing for pro careers, just as medical students are training to be doctors. This is naďve thinking. The best 1% to 3% may become professionals, but far too many of the rest are left with no degree and a clouded future.

"The biggest problem is recruiting fine athletes who should not be in college," says Andy Geiger, who retired this summer as Ohio State's athletic director after 11 years that included a national football championship and scandals in football and basketball. "Do we really want a gifted athlete at our school for any reason other than our own gain? Are we only in it to use these kids and then spit them out?"

At the core of the college sports problem is an obsession with winning. Winning is admittedly the goal in all competitions and is a treasured American characteristic, but universities are supposed to live by different standards from those that govern big business, the New York Yankees, or war.

Continued in article

September 15, 2005 reply from Carol Flowers [cflowers@OCC.CCCD.EDU]

Having gone through this with a son in sports, I find the whole thing a joke. I applauded the requirement of 12 units of C to stay eligible. However, I didn't realize they are not at class most of the semester -- they seem to be at away games most of the time. Scholarship offers came with tutorial help (tutoring turns out to be all but non existent (not to mention that you need to be in the area for the tutor to tutor). Sports and education don't mix. I only observed one team whose coach I respected for trying to enforce eligilbility (after the ball game the athletes went to dinner, then had a mandatory study hall from 8-9 pm at away games). However, I questioned how much the students absorbed at that hour and after a big game and dinner!!! But, kudos to the coach for attempting to keep "education" in the college experience.

Carol

Jensen Comment

I think the problem lies heavily with professional sports team owners.

College is a free way that they can filter out the best athletes who are put to the test and dump the majority of others who just don’t quite cut it. It would be analogous to sending all young people to war and then making professional soldiers out of the ones that win medals.

I think sports are important to the physical and social development of young people as well as giving them confidence and pride. But I like the way Trinity does it in NCAA Division 3 where there are no athletic scholarships and athletes are not dreaming of professional contracts.

Bob Jensen

September 15, 2005 reply from Paul Williams

Carol, et al,

You have pointed out the real problem in college athletics for the athlete. Of course it is hypocritical for the Wall Street Journal to harumph about college sports. College athletics is big business increasingly funded and promoted by big business. At NC State we have completed a third phase of a four phase renovation of the football stadium -- total projected cost over $100 million dollars. It sits beside the RBC Center (named after a corporation), where the Wolfpack plays basketball (and the Carolina Hurricanes play hockey) -- total cost $170 million. When all is said and done, there will be $300 million dollars invested in two college sports. Both facilities are plastered with ads for corporations and the luxury seating (the biggest cost of the facilities) is rented by corporations for the purpose of entertaining clients. Major college sports are entertainment, merely a medium for advertising and corporate promotion. Wealthy alumni and the business community are the prime movers behind the enormous investment in athletic facilities and the prime providers of the money. The university goes along because it has Title IX obligations it must finance and the big revenue sports are what fund it. Women's la crosse does not generate time on ESPN. And before we bash Title IX, the explosion in women's participation in sports at the collegiate level indicates that all women lacked was opportunity. Women crave the opportunity to participate in sport. Women and the men in the minor sports play for the love of playing. No lucrative pro career awaits a woman or man playing la crosse, but they work as hard at it as any of the revenue players.

What to do for the athletes since no university administrator is going to say let's just scrap our $300 million investment in facilities -- the alumni would have their head. Let's just quit being hypocritical about the "student athlete." Much of the problem is the NCAA and its rules that have a rather Victorian smell to them. Trivial behavior is criminalized by the NCAA in a vain attempt to foster a prissy rectitude that has never existed in the history of humankind.

When Tiger Woods was still a college player at Stanford he played at Bay Hill in Florida. Arnold Palmer wanted to meet with him, took him to lunch in the grill room, picked up the tab for a burger and fries and voila put Arnie, Tiger and Stanford in violation of NCAA rules. The tab was less than $20. There is no longer the amateur athlete -- look who competes for the US during the Olympics. The problem for the athlete is being a student AND an athlete at the same time.

Why don't we face the reality of big time college athletics and take the pressure off of the athlete? During the season, let the athletes play their sports -- why do they have to be a students at the same time? Every sport can have a season that corresponds to one semester or another. Football is played during the fall semester and the bowl season ends before the start of the second semester. So football players play football in the fall and are full time students during spring and summer. Basketball doesn't need to start in November. It could start after final exams in the fall and, instead of March madness, we could have April madness. Basketball players would be students in fall and summer semesters. There is no sport whose season could not be accommodated to just one school term or another. If a student wanted to and could take classes during the season, then all well and good. But they shouldn't be made to take them.

As Bernie Sliger, president of FSU when I was there, harped on constantly, "The more successful the athletic program, the more money people give to academics." It may be a brutal truth about college athletics, but most of the brutality is absorbed by the athletes because of archaic notions of the "scholar/athlete." And we on the academic side benefit as well. Those athletes bring a lot of resources to us academics, too. Perhaps a lot of the "crimes" athletic programs commit could be alleviated if we let young people be a scholar sometime and an athlete sometime, but quite expecting them to be both.

Paul Williams

September 15, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Paul,

Well said about the new NCS Stadium. This reminds me of Rochester/Simon School's new investment in "games" intended to lift its US News MBA program ranking from 26th into the Top 10 or Top 5. Has the Wolfpack ever made it into the media's Top 5 in basketball or football? Perhaps your new $300 million investment will pay off --- if that's the real anticipated payoff.

Also, I think you just made my point when choosing the word "hypocritical" when the WSJ reported a position harmful of big business. The WSJ is really two newspapers wrapped into one, where one of those "papers" is allowed to roam free and call it like some very good reporters roaming about.

In my September 14 edition of Tidbits, I wrote the following --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2005/tidbits050914.htm

How can the media and professors achieve greater credibility?
You probably observed that I quote a lot from both The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and The New York Times (NYT).  Both have credibility in spite of their opposing biases on the editorial pages.  The WSJ is unapologetic in its biases for financial institutions and business enterprises.  And yet the WSJ is the best place to look for damning criticism of particular accounting firms, financial institutions, and corporations.  CEOs live in fear of WSJ reporters.  For example, when Enron was riding high, before the Watkins memo, WSJ reporters did some very clever investigations and wrote articles that commenced the slide of Enron share prices (particularly dogged reporters named John Emshwiller and Jonathan Weil).  The NYT sometimes has editorials that make me want to vomit.  But the Business Section of the NYT is one of the best places to go for balanced coverage of business and finance news.  

Certainly not all of my accounting professor friends agree with me about the WSJ.  David's Fordham's book length reply is just too long to paste in here.  Some others like Bobbi Lee agree with him.


The proof is in the pressure to change grades:  Repeating the same frauds year after year in academe
Louisiana State University has settled a lawsuit by a former instructor who said that she was pressured to change the grades of football players, the Associated Press reported. No details of the settlement were released and the university denied wrongdoing. Last year, LSU settled a similar suit for $150,000.
Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/19/qt
 

Coach Takes the Test
More evidence that many universities are losing (or never had) quality control on athlete admissions and grading

The National Collegiate Athletic Association punished Texas Christian University’s men’s track program on Thursday for a set of rules violations that included some of the most egregious and unusual examples of academic fraud in recent history. They included an instance in which a former assistant coach took a final examination alongside a track athlete — with the consent of the faculty member in the course — and then swapped his version of the test with the athlete’s, allowing him to pass.
Doug Lederman, "NCAA Finds Fraud at TCU," Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/23/tcu



Derek.Bock, Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Pr., 2003. 233p. alk. paper, $22.95 (ISBN 0691114129). LC 2002-29267.
Reviews are provided from many sources.  One review is at http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/crljournal/crl2004/backjan2004/bokbookreview.htm

Athletics is the first area subject to Bok’s critique. Candidly and mercilessly, he summarizes the ugly history of intercollegiate football—its failed promise to "build character," its unsupportable claim to have helped minorities achieve a high-quality education, and its grievous undermining of academic standards. Students whose academic achievement and potential would hardly qualify them for careers in any learned profession are not only routinely admitted to universities of every quality but are even turned into national celebrities. Looking at the revenue-generating sports, mainly football and basketball, Bok informs the reader that as of 2001, some thirty coaches were earning in excess of a million dollars annually, far more than most college and university presidents. Bok strongly focuses on the almost complete disconnect between athletic prowess and academic achievement. He builds a powerful indictment:

What can intercollegiate sports teach us about the hazards of commercialization? First of all, the saga of big-time athletics reveals that American universities, despite their lofty ideals, are not above sacrificing academic values—even values as basic as admission standards and the integrity of their courses—in order to make money.

Indeed, Bok reaches the conclusion, described by him as "melancholy," that through their athletic programs, "universities have compromised the most fundamental purpose of academic institutions."

Turning to his second area, scientific research, Bok maintains that the record has been no less dismal and the battles between the worlds of intellect and industry no less ruthless: Scientists have been prohibited from publishing (or even discussing at conferences) results unfavorable to their commercial sponsors’ marketing goals. Companies have punished universities by threatening to withhold promised financial support should scientists dare to publish data unfavorable to sponsors’ interests. Researchers have been threatened with lawsuits, even grievously defamed. Companies have imposed a militarylike secrecy upon faculty who work with them, severely edited scholars’ reports, and even had their own staffs write slanted drafts to which university researchers were expected to attach their names. By Bok’s account, some elements of the commercial sector merely look upon faculty and graduate students as company agents—virtual employees, hired guns—charged to produce a stream of research from which will follow a stream of revenue for their businesses. Bok’s charges are not vague hints; he cites prestigious institutions, names researchers whose careers were jeopardized or damaged by threats and personal attacks, and provides many poignant details.

In the third area, higher education itself, Bok outlines the temptations of easy money, ostensibly available via universities’ willingness, indeed eagerness, to use the income from distance education (both domestically and abroad) to finance programs only indirectly linked to higher education. Bok further suggests that some schools willingly exploit the Internet more for the money than for any possible social benefit.

"Is everything in a university for sale if the price is right?" asks the book jacket. Are universities now ready to accept advertising within physical facilities and curricula? Will they permit commercial enterprises to put company names on the stadium, team uniforms, campus shuttle buses, book jackets sold at the campus bookstore, plastic cups at food service points, or even on home pages? Will universities sell the names of entire schools as well as of buildings? Worse yet, will some schools be tempted to accept endowed professorships to which the sponsors seek to attach unacceptable or harmful restrictions and conditions? There appears to be no end to the opportunities.

To respond to these and similar troubling questions, Bok’s two concluding chapters lay out practical steps the academic community might consider to avoid sinking into a quagmire of commercialism in which the academy is sure to lose control of both its integrity and its autonomy. Throughout his work, Bok reminds his readers of the obvious, but sometimes camouflaged (or ignored), distinction between the academy and commerce: The mission of the former is to learn, that of the latter to earn. Conflict between these missions is inevitable, and should it disappear, the university as we know it also may vanish. We may not like what replaces it.



In line with Bok's "Commercialization of Higher Education," a newer (2005) book explores the role of market forces in changing higher education — and the danger of market forces having too much influence

Three longtime observers of higher education explore the ways — positive and negative — that universities are changing in Remaking the American University (Rutgers University Press).  The authors are Robert Zemsky, a professor and chair of the Learning Alliance at the University of Pennsylvania; Gregory R. Wegner, director of program development at the Great Lakes Colleges Association; and William F. Massy, a professor emeritus of higher education at Stanford University and currently president of the Jackson Hole Higher Education Group. The three authors recently responded (jointly) to questions about their new book.
Scott Jaschik"Remaking the American University," Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/21/remaking
Q: Of the trends you examine, which ones are most worrisome to you?

A: What worries us most is that universities and colleges have become so preoccupied with succeeding in a world of markets that they too often forget the need to be places of public purpose as well. We are serious in arguing that universities and colleges must be both market smart and mission centered. Not surprisingly, then, we are troubled by how often today institutions allow their pursuit of market success to undermine core elements of their missions: becoming preoccupied with collegiate rankings, surrendering to an admissions arms race, chasing imagined fortunes through impulsive investments e-learning, or conferring so much importance on athletics as to alter the character of the academic community on campus.

By far the most troublesome consequence of markets displacing mission, though, is the reduced commitment of universities and colleges to the fulfillment of public purposes. More than ever before, these institutions are content to advance graduates merely in their private, individual capacities as workers and professionals. In the rush to achieve market success, what has fallen to the wayside for too many institutions is the concept of educating students as citizens — graduates who understand their obligations to contribute to the collective well-being as active participants in a free and deliberative society. In the race for private advantage, market success too often becomes a proxy for mission attainment.

Q: We’ve just come through rankings season, with U.S. News and others unveiling their lists. Do you have any hope for turning back the ratings game? Any ideas you would offer to college presidents who are fed up with it?

A: On this one there is no turning back — the rankings are here to stay. Two, frankly contradictory ideas are worth thinking about. First, university and college presidents should accept as fact that the rankings measure market position rather than quality. An institution’s ranking is essentially a predictor of the net price the institution can charge. The contrary idea is to make the rankings more about quality by having most institutions participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement and agree to have the results made public. Even then, we are not sure that prestige and market position would not trump student engagement.

Continued in article



In line with Bok's "Commercialization of Higher Education," a newer (2005) book explores the role of market forces in changing higher education — and the danger of market forces having too much influence
Three longtime observers of higher education explore the ways — positive and negative — that universities are changing in Remaking the American University (Rutgers University Press).  The authors are Robert Zemsky, a professor and chair of the Learning Alliance at the University of Pennsylvania; Gregory R. Wegner, director of program development at the Great Lakes Colleges Association; and William F. Massy, a professor emeritus of higher education at Stanford University and currently president of the Jackson Hole Higher Education Group. The three authors recently responded (jointly) to questions about their new book.
Scott Jaschik"Remaking the American University," Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/21/remaking

Q: Of the trends you examine, which ones are most worrisome to you?

A: What worries us most is that universities and colleges have become so preoccupied with succeeding in a world of markets that they too often forget the need to be places of public purpose as well. We are serious in arguing that universities and colleges must be both market smart and mission centered. Not surprisingly, then, we are troubled by how often today institutions allow their pursuit of market success to undermine core elements of their missions: becoming preoccupied with collegiate rankings, surrendering to an admissions arms race, chasing imagined fortunes through impulsive investments e-learning, or conferring so much importance on athletics as to alter the character of the academic community on campus.

By far the most troublesome consequence of markets displacing mission, though, is the reduced commitment of universities and colleges to the fulfillment of public purposes. More than ever before, these institutions are content to advance graduates merely in their private, individual capacities as workers and professionals. In the rush to achieve market success, what has fallen to the wayside for too many institutions is the concept of educating students as citizens — graduates who understand their obligations to contribute to the collective well-being as active participants in a free and deliberative society. In the race for private advantage, market success too often becomes a proxy for mission attainment.

Q: We’ve just come through rankings season, with U.S. News and others unveiling their lists. Do you have any hope for turning back the ratings game? Any ideas you would offer to college presidents who are fed up with it?

A: On this one there is no turning back — the rankings are here to stay. Two, frankly contradictory ideas are worth thinking about. First, university and college presidents should accept as fact that the rankings measure market position rather than quality. An institution’s ranking is essentially a predictor of the net price the institution can charge. The contrary idea is to make the rankings more about quality by having most institutions participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement and agree to have the results made public. Even then, we are not sure that prestige and market position would not trump student engagement.

Continued in article


September 29, 2005 reply from Kim Robertson

Bob,

Somewhat related to your recent email: There is a "survey of higher education - The Brains Business" in the Sept 10, 2005 edition of The Economist magazine.

Kim

The Brains Business
For those of a certain age and educational background, it is hard to think of higher education without thinking of ancient institutions. Some universities are of a venerable age—the University of Bologna was founded in 1088, the University of Oxford in 1096—and many of them have a strong sense of tradition. The truly old ones make the most of their pedigrees, and those of a more recent vintage work hard to create an aura of antiquity.…
"The brains business," The Economist,  September 10, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/BrainsBusiness

 




 

Business School Ranking Controversies

'03 Update | '02 Data | '01 Update | '00 Data | '99 Update | '98 Data | '96 Data

 
2004 rankings ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/04/?campaign_id=nws_mbaxp_oct10&link_position=link8


 


U.S. Top 30
1 Northwestern
2 Chicago
3 Pennsylvania
4 Stanford
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Cornell
8 Columbia
9 MIT
10 Dartmouth
 
11 Duke
12 Virginia
13 NYU
14 UCLA
15 Carnegie Mellon
16 UNC Chapel-Hill
17 UC Berkeley
18 Indiana
19 Texas - Austin
20 Emory
 
21 Purdue
22 Yale
23 Washington U.
24 Notre Dame
25 Georgetown
26 Babson
27 Southern California
28 Maryland
29 Rochester
30 Vanderbilt


Non-U.S. Top 10
1 Queens
2 IMD
3 INSEAD
4 ESADE
  
5 London Business School
6 Western Ontario
7 IESE
  
8 HEC - Paris
9 Toronto
10 HEC - Montreal


U.S. Second Tier
•  Arizona State
•  Boston College
•  Boston University
•  Brigham Young
•  UC Irvine
•  Case Western
•  Georgia
  
•  Georgia Tech
•  Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
•  Iowa
•  Michigan State
•  Minnesota
•  Ohio State
•  Penn State
  
•  Rice
•  Southern Methodist
•  Thunderbird
•  Wake Forest
•  Washington
•  Wisconsin

Jensen Comment
These differ somewhat from how business school deans rank business schools in the  rankings --- http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/mba/brief/mbarank_brief.php

01. Harvard University (MA) 
02. Stanford University (CA)
03.  University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 
04. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
      Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
06. Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)
      University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
08. University of Chicago
09. Columbia University (NY)
10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)

Business Week's Executive MBA Rankings and Profiles ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/03/emba_rank.htm?campaign_id=nws_mbaxp_oct10&link_position=link9

The entire ranking system is now considered dysfunctional to program integrity and is being studied as a huge academic problem by the AACSB (See below)

MBA (Casino?) Games:  The house plays the odds and hopes to come out ahead!
Resorting to contests and prizes shows just how tough times are for full-time M.B.A. programs. The Graduate Management Admission Council reports that 72% of full-time M.B.A. programs experienced an application decline this year as more people opted to keep their jobs and seek a part-time, executive or online M.B.A. degree instead . . . Simon's business-strategy contest resulted from a challenge put to students on the school's advisory council to concoct ways to improve the M.B.A. program. As an incentive, alumni kicked in $10,000, half for the students with the best proposal and half to implement their idea. Several student projects focused on the application slump, which clearly is the most pressing issue at Simon. Applications were down 23% this year, following a 24% drop in 2004. This fall, the incoming class of about 110 students compares with 150 last year and 185 in 2003. "These are the toughest years in management education I have ever seen," says Dr. Zupan.
"MBA Program Hopes Online Game Will Lure Recruits with Prizes," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2005; Page B12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112657077730738778,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace


Since curriculum revisions are not working well to reverse the slide of MBA applications, some universities not happy with their US News, Forbes, WSJ, and Business Week rankings may turn to gaming with sizeable rewards

Can an online game offering thousands of dollars in prizes reverse the slide in master of business administration applications? The University of Rochester certainly hopes so. Starting Sept. 26, potential M.B.A. applicants to Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration will begin playing a business-simulation game that promises a full scholarship of more than $70,000 to the winner, plus smaller scholarships for the runners-up. The goal is to attract top-notch applicants who may never have heard of the Simon School but find the game, and the scholarship money, enticing. "We hope to get a little viral marketing going so that people spread the word that Simon is an innovative place worth taking a look at," says Dean Mark Zupan.
"MBA Program Hopes Online Game Will Lure Recruits with Prizes," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2005; Page B12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112657077730738778,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

The following tidbits were in my August 29 edition of Tidbits:

Earlier threads on the business school ranking controversies

Business Week's Rankings of Business Schools
'03 Update | '02 Data | '01 Update | '00 Data | '99 Update | '98 Data | '96 Data

 

U.S. Top 30
1 Northwestern
2 Chicago
3 Pennsylvania
4 Stanford
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Cornell
8 Columbia
9 MIT
10 Dartmouth
 
11 Duke
12 Virginia
13 NYU
14 UCLA
15 Carnegie Mellon
16 UNC Chapel-Hill
17 UC Berkeley
18 Indiana
19 Texas - Austin
20 Emory
 
21 Purdue
22 Yale
23 Washington U.
24 Notre Dame
25 Georgetown
26 Babson
27 Southern California
28 Maryland
29 Rochester
30 Vanderbilt


Non-U.S. Top 10
1 Queens
2 IMD
3 INSEAD
4 ESADE
  
5 London Business School
6 Western Ontario
7 IESE
  
8 HEC - Paris
9 Toronto
10 HEC - Montreal


U.S. Second Tier
•  Arizona State
•  Boston College
•  Boston University
•  Brigham Young
•  UC Irvine
•  Case Western
•  Georgia
  
•  Georgia Tech
•  Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
•  Iowa
•  Michigan State
•  Minnesota
•  Ohio State
•  Penn State
  
•  Rice
•  Southern Methodist
•  Thunderbird
•  Wake Forest
•  Washington
•  Wisconsin

Jensen Comment
These differ somewhat from how business school deans rank business schools in the  rankings --- http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/mba/brief/mbarank_brief.php

01. Harvard University (MA) 
02. Stanford University (CA)
03.  University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 
04. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
      Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
06. Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)
      University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
08. University of Chicago
09. Columbia University (NY)
10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)

The entire ranking system is now considered dysfunctional to program integrity and is being studied as a huge academic problem by the AACSB (See below)


From Jim Mahar's blog on August 26, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

 

What's Really Wrong With U.S. Business Schools?
by Harry DeAngelo, Linda DeAngelo, Jerold Zimmerman:

Wow, it sounds bad. I (Jim Mahar) am very glad I chose a small university (St. Bonaventure). However, the choice leads me to not really comment on the paper since being at a small university removes me from many (but not all) of the problems cited in the paper. Moreover, I do not feel I can add any value to what the authors say.

Rather I will only give you the abstract and link.

Abstract:
"U.S. business schools are locked in a dysfunctional competition for media rankings that diverts resources from long-term knowledge creation, which earned them global pre-eminence, into short-term strategies aimed at improving their rankings. MBA curricula are distorted by 'quick fix, look good' packaging changes designed to influence rankings criteria, at the expense of giving students a rigorous, conceptual framework that will serve them well over their entire careers. Research, undergraduate education, and Ph.D. programs suffer as faculty time is diverted to almost continuous MBA curriculum changes, strategic planning exercises, and public relations efforts. Unless they wake up to the dangers of dysfunctional rankings competition, U.S. business schools are destined to lose their dominant global position and become a classic case study of how myopic decision-making begets institutional mediocrity."
Cite:
DeAngelo, Harry, DeAngelo, Linda and Zimmerman, Jerold L., "What's Really Wrong With U.S. Business Schools?" (July 2005). http://ssrn.com/abstract=766404

Jensen Comment:
The DeAngelos and Jerry Zimmerman are leading advocates of capital market research and positivist methodology.  Harry and Linda are from the University of Southern California and Jerry is from the University of Rochester.  Their business schools rank 23 and 26 respectively in the latest US News rankings.  Their WSJ rankings are 23 and 20.

I think the authors overstate the problem with media rankings and curricula.  I don’t think curriculum choices or PR enter into the rankings in a big way.  Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton will almost always come out on top no matter what the curriculum or PR budget.  What counts heavily is elitism tradition and alumni networking (helps Harvard the most), concentration of researchers/names (helps Stanford the most), and insider tracks to Wall Street (helps Wharton the most).  These, in turn, affect the number of MBA applicants with GMAT scores hovering around 700 or higher.  The GMAT scores, in turn, impact most heavily upon media rankings.  The raters are looking for where the top students in the world are scrambling to be admitted.  Can the majority of applicants really tell us the difference between the business school curriculum at USC versus Stanford versus Rochester?  I doubt it!

Media rankings differ somewhat due to differences in the groups doing the rankings.  The US News rankings are done by AACSB deans who tend to favor schools with leading researchers.  The WSJ rankings are done by corporate recruiters who are impressed by the credentials of the graduating students and their interviewing skills (which might indirectly be affected by a curriculum that is more profession oriented and less geeky).

The major "media rankings" are given in the following sources as reported in Tidbits on August 19:
Business school rankings and profiles from Business Week Magazine ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/04/?campaign_id=nws_mbaxp_aug16&link_position=link6

The Wall Street Journal rankings of business schools --- http://online.wsj.com/page/0,,2_1103,00.html

US News graduate business school rankings --- http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/rankindex_brief.php

August 27, 2005 reply from Dennis Beresford (University of Georgia)

Bob,

Thanks for this link. The DeAngelo, DeAngelo, and Zimmerman paper is quite interesting. Because football season doesn't start until next week, I had a little time to kill this afternoon and used it to read this paper.

My own rather short academic experience causes me to agree with the paper's assertion that MBA program rankings tend to drive much of what happens at a business school. We recently proudly reported that we were number 30 in the US News rankings (
without pointing out that there was a 30 way tie for that spot). And we also trumpeted the fact that the Forbes rankings just out reported that our MBA graduates earned $100,000 in starting pay vs. $40,000 when they entered the program. (I think the ghosts of Andersen must have developed those numbers.)

We went through a curriculum revision a couple of years ago and we now emphasize "leadership." (I suspect this puts us in the company of only about 90% of MBA programs that do the same.) Most of our classes are now taught in half semesters. Perhaps there is good justification for this but it seems to me to encourage a more superficial approach. And managerial accounting is no longer a required part of the curriculum in spite of our pointing out that most of the elite schools still require this important subject.

While I agree with the premise that MBA programs are focusing too much on rankings and short term thinking, I believe the paper's arguments on how to "cure the problem" aren't well supported. In particular, while I strongly agree with the idea that MBA programs should primarily help students develop critical thinking and analytic skills, I think the authors are too critical of the practical aspects of business education as described by Bennis and O'Toole in their earlier Harvard Business article. The authors of this paper seem to feel that more emphasis on research published in scholarly journals will bring more of a long-term focus to MBA education and will address the concerns about rankings, etc. I think a better response would be to balance the practical and theoretical - although I know that is a very hard thing to do.

As a final note, would you agree that the capital asset pricing model and efficient markets research "inspired" indexed mutual funds?
Asserting such a causal connection seems like a pretty big stretch to me.

Denny Beresford

August 29, 2005 response from Paul Williams at North Carolina State University

And we all know what rigorous conceptual framework these folks have in mind. This paper is the knee-jerk response to the Bennis/ O'Toole paper. This is an argument that has been going on since business schools were started. It's the on-going argument over case method vs modeling as the proper way to teach business.

Odd that such believers in market solutions should question what is obviously working -- would universities play this game if it didn't work? Or is it only universities that are irrational? (I'll bet Rochester and Southern Cal are playing the game, too. What kind of research do you suppose Bill Simon expects for his millions?) Passions run so high and retribution is swift. Note what happen to Bob Kaplan's service on the JAR board when he suggested (after he got some religion at Harvard) that case studies might be a worthwhile thing for us to consider.

Denny, et al:
You have made some very good points about blending. A very long time ago, Aristotle, in the Nichomachean Ethics, described three types of knowledge: techne, episteme, and phronesis. Techne = technical knowledge (how to bake a pie). Episteme = scientific knowledge. Phronesis (the highest form) = wisdom, i.e., the knowledge of goodness; how to be a good citizen. Business is a practice and the Harvard approach is one that acknowledges that "wisdom can't be told" (the title of the classic 1950s essay on the value of the case approach). Modelers miss a key element of management. It is not a constrained optimization problem, but a process of intervention. Experience matters


The ratings game is played because it pays off. Duke didn't have a graduate program in business until 1970 compared to UNC's, which predated Duke's by about 25 years. When Tom Keller became dean he had a stroke of genius and hired a public relations firm to promote the MBA. Duke always marketed itself from the day it was founded as the "Harvard of the South" and was able to attract wealthy Northeasterners not able to get into Ivy league schools. Now Duke is able to attract highly talented students, high priced faculty and big donattions (note that Wendy's founder Dave Thomas didn't raise millions for Eastern State U.).
Marketing works -- look how many pick-up trucks with 1975 technology under the hood got sold as Sport Utility Vehicles (Pick- up Trucks with Walls doesn't have the same ring). Half the battle at becoming the best is telling people you are, a fact every con man knows. People don't give money to Harvard because it needs it -- they give to Harvard to say they gave to Harvard. Do you think any of the terminally vain people who give money to get their names chiseled on the buildings do so because they have read all of the brillians academic papers people inside the building have produced? No, they give it because someone has told them that the people inside the building are writing brilliant academic papers.


It really becomes a post-modern moment when the people writing the papers truly believe they are brilliant.
 

You can read about the Bennis and O'Toole paper at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession

September 7, 2005 Update

A report on the controversial paper by Harry DeAngelo,  Linda DeAngelo, and Jerry Zimmerman now appears in an AACSB report at   http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/enewsline/Vol-4/Issue-8/lead-story.asp

The study precedes an upcoming AACSB International report that calls for the media to change the way it assigns rankings to business degree granting institutions. The AACSB document, to be released in September, calls the ranking methods used by BusinessWeek, Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report, and other media outlets flawed because of inconsistent and unverified data, which confuses rather than helps the consumer.

 


As accounting courses in MBA core are shrinking, finance courses are increasing

From Jim Mahar's Blog on August 29, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Core Finance Trends in the Top MBA Programs in 2005 by Kent Womack, Ying Zhang:

Following Friday's mention of the DeAngelo, DeAngelo, and Zimmerman paper that looks at what is wrong with MBA programs at some universities, I was sent the following paper by Womack and Zhang. They survey MBA programs to see what trends exist.

The good news?
More finance! "Five of the nineteen schools responding have increased hours spent in the finance core substantially, compared to results of our earlier survey in 2001."

The bad news (at least for students): fewer electives:

"The recent survey results, however, suggest in general that most other schools seem to be migrating in the other direction, towards more required course hours."

The paper is full of many really cool things. For instance focusing on finance:

"Principles of Corporate Finance by Brealey, Meyers, and Allen (BMA) and Corporate Finance by Ross, Westerfield, Jaffe (RWJ), were used by 8 and 6 schools this year respectively, and remain the prevailing main textbook choices by most schools." “Average outside class hours expected per session”. The mean for all schools responding is 4.2 hours, with a wide range of 2 to 8 hours." "...programs continue to spend significant amount of time (on average, 9% of in-class time) on Present Value and other primary background topics. Diverse professional backgrounds and entry mathematic proficiency levels demand finance professors “level the playing field” before teaching other challenging topics."

VERY Interesting for anyone in an MBA program!

The is available from SSRN as well as from Womack's web site.
Cite: Womack, Kent L. and Zhang, Ying N., "Core Finance Trends in the Top MBA Programs in 2005"
. http://ssrn.com/abstract=760604

You can read about the Bennis and O'Toole paper at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession

AACSB to fight MBA program rankings in the media

A report on the controversial paper by Harry DeAngelo,  Linda DeAngelo, and Jerry Zimmerman now appears in an AACSB report at   http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/enewsline/Vol-4/Issue-8/lead-story.asp

The study precedes an upcoming AACSB International report that calls for the media to change the way it assigns rankings to business degree granting institutions. The AACSB document, to be released in September, calls the ranking methods used by BusinessWeek, Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report, and other media outlets flawed because of inconsistent and unverified data, which confuses rather than helps the consumer.

 



The long-awaited PCAOB auditor inspection reports

Denny Beresford clued me into the fact that, after several months delay, the Big Four and other inspection reports of the PCAOB are available, or will soon be available, to the public --- http://www.pcaobus.org/Inspections/Public_Reports/index.aspx
Look for more to be released today and early next week.

The firms themselves have seen them and at least one, KPMG, has already distributed a carefully-worded letter to all clients.  I did see that letter from Flynn.

Denny did not mention it, but my very (I stress very) cursory browsing indicates that the firms will not be comfortable with their inspections, at least not some major parts of them.

I would like to state a preliminary hypothesis for which I have no credible evidence as of yet.  My hypothesis is that the major problem of the large auditing firms is the continued reliance upon cheaper risk analysis auditing relative to the much more costly detail testing.  This is what got all the large firms, especially Andersen, into trouble on many audits where there has been litigation --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#others


Bob Jensen’s threads on the future of auditing are at
 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#FutureOfAuditing

Bob Jensen’s threads on the weaknesses of risk-based auditing are at
 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#RiskBasedAuditing

At the above site the first message is the following AECM message from Roger Debreceny

 April 27, 2005 message from Roger Debreceny [roger@DEBRECENY.COM]

Hi,

While doing some grading, I have been listening to the Webcast of the February meeting of the PCAOB Standing Advisory Group (see http://www.connectlive.com/events/pcaob/) (yes, I know, I have no life! <g>). There is an interesting discussion on the role/future of the risk-based audit. See http://tinyurl.com/8f5nt at 42 minutes into the discussion. A variety of viewpoints are expressed in the discussion. This refers back to an earlier discussion we had on AECM.

Roger

--
Roger Debreceny
School of Accountancy
College of Business Administration
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2404 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

www.debreceny.com  


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 20, 2005

TITLE: SEC Chief Gets More Posts to Fill as Accounting Overseer Resigns
REPORTER: Deborah Solomon
DATE: Sep 24, 2005
PAGE: B3
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112748562811949862,00.html 
TOPICS: Accounting, Public Accounting, Sarbanes-Oxley Act

SUMMARY: William J. McDononough announced that he is stepping down from his post as chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

QUESTIONS:
1.) How and why was the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) formed?

2.) What is the purpose of the PCAOB and what are its functions?

3.) Given the changes described in this article for entities under the purview of the SEC, what do you think is the tenor of public company regulation at this point in time?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
 


The changes taking place at BDO Seidman demonstrate the challenges facing second-tier accounting firms as they confront an era of tougher regulation and instill more investor confidence.

"BDO Seidman Faces Accounting's New World," by Diya Gullapalli, The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2005; Page C1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112777859638752753,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

In KPMG's shadow, 95-year-old BDO, the nation's sixth-biggest accounting firm with $440 million in revenue, has had its share of tax-shelter woes. Like KPMG, it faces civil lawsuits in state courts, filed by former clients now facing potential IRS penalties.

However, at least for now, according to a BDO spokesman, the Internal Revenue Service has put its BDO tax-shelter probe on administrative hold, meaning it isn't under active pursuit. An IRS spokeswoman declined to comment on the probe's status. A BDO spokesman said the Justice Department hasn't interviewed anyone at the firm on the matter.

. . .

The changes also included Mr. Kolins's election as chairman. With about four decades of audit experience at BDO, Mr. Kolins, 61, signaled a shift from Denis Field, who hailed from the tax side and was BDO's youngest-ever CEO, at 41, back in 2000. Mr. Kolins serves on an advisory group at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the auditing profession's main regulator.

In February, in a letter to the PCAOB, he said BDO "strongly support[s] the broad objectives" of the board's proposal to restrict sales of tax services to audit clients.

BDO last year picked up more new clients, 109, than any other big accounting firm, according to proxy-advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. The average new client had about $100 million in stock-market value, though BDO also audits larger clients like Barnes & Noble Inc. and Jones Apparel Group Inc.

The heightened focus on audit work meant BDO's tax-services division contributed just 26% of total revenue in the 2005 fiscal year ended June 30. By comparison, four years before, tax services represented 47% of the firm's $420 million in annual revenue.

Expanding the audit side hasn't come without its own risks. Some new clients taken on by BDO last year were rejects of the Big Four. They were shed as the bigger firms, flush with new accounting assignments created by the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley securities-overhaul act, got pickier about their client base. Besides KPMG, the Big Four consists of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Deloitte & Touche LLP and Ernst & Young LLP.

More in the article


Google Desktop Search (GDS) and ScanSoft Plug-ins

September 25, 2005 message from

I've just given up on a two week attempt to get GDS functioning on my primary system.

The deciding factor came when I was trying to figure out why the ScanSoft GDS plug-in was blowing things up so badly. I read the ScanSoftGDS.ini file and learned the following:

"; Note that Google Desktop Search 1.0 indexes more text if recognized by ; our plugin. The difference could be large, e.g. it would index the first ; 7 pages with its built-in PDF reader while it would index the first ; 24 pages with our plugin. ; The built-in PDF reader creates nicely formatted text in Google's cache, ; while our plugin creates unformatted text."

And

"; Note that Google Desktop Search 1.0 itself limits the indexable size ; to 37500 characters. No words over this length limit are indexed, even ; if we recognized them [in the OCR]. This may change in the future."

Being able to fully search PDF files was rather important to me in terms of trying to operate on a paperless basis. I have over 16,000 of them, some scanned documents but most not, and many are hundreds if not thousands of pages. Almost always more than seven, or even 24 pages. So even if I give up on the idea of OCR and indexing on scanned documents, the page limitation is the deal killer.

If anyone knows a way to verify or modify that limitation, I would be interested.

I probably won't re-try the ScanSoft plug-in though. The initial index update that begins when it installs never seems to finish, even seems to go backwards at times. I killed all unessential processes and services, and even raised the priority of the Scansoft software in task manager.

Other than that, I learned that it works best to install the GDS software without plug-ins initially. Then immediately upon installation go into preferences and uncheck all file types, and enter any search restrictions you have in mind.

This lets Googledesktopcrawl finish the initial indexing in the least amount of time - a single digit number of hours rather than days for a large number of files like I have.

Then you can check the boxes for all file types you want indexed.

As files are created or modified, they will be added to the index. To be considered modified, the files date/time stamp must change, so all you have to do is change something that is inconsequential to your use - a field in the file metadata (aka properties) for example.

This way you can control the files that get added, and control the use of system resources.

The killer for me was when I added the ScanSoft GDS plug-in, lost what I had gained on the indexing, and learned about the page limitations.

Scott Bonacker, CPA
Springfield, Missouri


A person can be a professional thief only if he is recognized and received as such by other professional thieves. Professional theft is a group way of life.”
Edwin Sutherland

There will always be white collar crime as long as it pays big even when you get caught.
Bob Jensen --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#CrimePays

Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz Questions

  1. What is the main temptation of white collar criminals?
    Why do auditors often lose professionalism?

     

  2. Who are the two richest Enron executives to emerge unscathed by Enron's scandal?

     

  3. What are some of the main lessons learned from the Enron scandal?

     

  4. How many facts at the height of Enron's success can your recite?  For example what were its 1999 sales, profits, and cash on hand (at least as reported in Enron's somewhat fictional 1999 financial statements?  How big were the subsequent earnings and debt restatements?  Who held the most stock?  What was CEO Ken Lay's salary before other benefits? How many employees did Enron have on the payroll in 1999? 

     

  5. When was Enron formed and who founded it?

     

  6. When Enron's name became Enron, a consulting firm was paid over $1 million to recommend a name that turned into a laughing stock.  What was that absurd name that became an embarrassing joke?

     

  7. Who were the leading executives and Board of Director members and what did they eventually earn from their stock sales until paying fines or being forced to return money to Enron?

     

  8. What executive committed suicide by gunshot after Enron imploded?

     

  9. What are some of the leading books that have been written about Enron?
     
     

  10. What set Andy Fastow and Michael Kopper apart from most of the other Enron executives prior to the illegal self declarations of bonuses from a secret bank account set up just before Enron declared bankruptcy?

     

  11. What was the main source of the idea that Enron (before it was named Enron) should extend into the energy trading line of business in addition to its gas transmission line of business?  Who did this person work for at the time (it wasn't Enron)?

     

  12. In the simplest of terms, what is a special purpose entity (SPE) and why is it allowed by the SEC to remain off the accounting books (the FASB mainly went along with the SEC rule on these entities)?  Discuss the pros and cons of allowing SPEs to be unconsolidated in the books of the primary investor.

     

  13. What was the first SPE formed by Enron that was approved by the Board of Directors?  What did Andy Fastow promise the Board, a promise that he violated in the worst of possible terms?

     

  14. The first SPE was set up to hedge Enron's investment appreciation in Rhythms NetConnection.  A contractual obligation prevented sale of the investment at a time when its high value was volatile.  Andy Fastow proposed an SPE designed to hedge against a fall in the value of the Rhythms investment.  What type of derivative financial instrument was proposed to carry out this hedge?  Explain how the hedge would've worked optimally.

     

  15. What is most unusual and actually unethical about the way Enron's SPEs were managed?  How were these related party dealings disclosed and yet obscured in the infamous Footnote 16 of Enron's Year 2000 Annual Report?

     

  16. Frank Partnoy presented the best testimony before the U.S. Senate about Enron's misuse of derivative financial instruments after Enron imploded and was being investigated.  Summarize Partnoy's major conclusions about these hedging activities and their accounting.

     

  17. In round numbers, what is the amount Andy Fastow ultimately admitted to skimming from over 3,000 SPEs he set up in Enron?  What is the best estimate of the actual amount he stole from his company?

     

  18. Was Andy Fastow considered a financial genius by financial experts within Enron?  Elaborate.

     

  19. Enron's auditing firm was Arthur Andersen (or just Andersen).  In the early 1990s, who was the managing partner on the Enron audit from the Houston Office?  What was Enron earning in audit billings to Enron per year?  What were the consulting fees per year paid to the Andersen's Houston office?

     

  20. David Duncan became Andersen's managing partner of the Enron audit in what year? Was Duncan a great accountant?  What were his credentials when Andersen made him the managing partner on the Enron audit?

     

  21. At one point in 1999 Duncan privately agreed with his Andersen colleague Carl Bass that Enron should take an added $______ charge to earnings, but that these were not material.  How much was this charge?  Why do you really think Duncan did not want to force Enron to make this charge?

     

  22. A WSJ reporter was the first to uncover Enron's secret "Related Party Transactions."  What reporter was this and what are those transactions that he/she investigated? 

     

  23. What is Chewco and why did it ultimately lead to a major split between Enron and Andersen?

     

  24. Virtually all of Enron's executives benefited from massive fraud just prior to the declaration of bankruptcy by Enron in December of 2001.  What was this fraud?

     

  25. What Time Magazine's Woman of the Year was noted for a very foul mouth?
    Hint: She's best known for her whistle blowing memo. She was an undervalued accounting executive without much to do. She finally took the trouble on her own to unravel the exceeding complexity of one of Andy Fastow's most complex SPEs that "had no skin."

     

  26. Did Rebecca Mark have a high level position in Enron?
    Was she competent?
    What famous accounting ratio could she just not comprehend?

     

  27. Aside from Andy Fastow's suggested use of SPEs for off-book transactions, who was the main instigator of accounting irregularities for items on the books of Enron? 
    What were some of the most typical types of accounting irregularities?
    Also mention some of Fastow's accounting irregularities.

You can read Bob Jensen's answers the above quiz at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm


Enron/Andersen Fraud Update

September 15, 2005 message from Andrew Priest

Just wondering if anyone has seen this movie/documentary? Interested in feedback and if it is a good teaching tool?

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (M)

Directed by Alex Gibney, this is the inside story of one of history’s greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America’s 7th largest company walked away with over one billion dollars while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best-selling book The Smartest Guys in the Room by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind and featuring insider accounts and incendiary corporate audio and videotapes, Gibney reveals the almost unimaginable personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy. The film comes to a harrowing end as we hear Enron traders’ own voices as they wring hundreds of millions of dollars in profits out of the California energy crisis. As a result, we come to understand how the avarice of Enron’s traders and their bosses had a shocking and profound domino effect that may shape the face of our economy for years to come. [M] 109 mins. <http:// www.enronmovie.com>.

Regards
Andrew Priest

September 15, 2005 reply from Heidemarie Lundblad [lundblad@GTE.NET]

The movie is entertaining and factual. It has reduced some of the complex issues to make the subject more accessible to people not familiar with things such as derivatives, SPEs, etc. I liked it. Particularly, since it includes the video clip of Jeff skilling's Titanic joke. As a resident of California I took it the rip-off of California electicity users by Enron (and others) personally. It has been argued that the movie is too "left". However, i am not sure how one can ignore the close political ties of Enron and the current administration.

Heidemarie Lundblad

September 16, 2005 reply from Miklos Vasarhelyi [miklosv@andromeda.rutgers.edu]

I have seen the film in its opening in new york. i have been involved with a "cooking the books" course for a long time and was wondering about its educational value.... my conclusion was that the film really did not deal with any accounting issues as the movie makers did not understand them and in certain parts they were very sensationalistic and unfair to the parties involved...

however i always recommend my students to see the film as it raises awareness of many things.

miklos

September 18, 2005 reply from John Schatzel [jschatzel@STONEHILL.EDU]

The correct site is www.netflix.com  (for the Enron DVD) - just type the name of the movie in the search box and it apparently is available.

I saw the movie this summer. I went into it with an open mind and left feeling like I learned a few more details about the situation or whatever spin one wants to put on it. I figured it would be critical of the people who ran the company and it was. The movie was not geared toward an audience of accountants. They even said toward the beginning that this was a story about the people. It could be called the Lemony Snickets of accounting and a series of unfortunate events. If you are on the lookout for good stuff to add to your course, the "biggest" problem with the movie is that it's two hours long and I don't see how one would easily fit it into an accounting or auditing course. The second problem is that its not available on DVD yet (or at least it wasn't in August or I would have just purchased it The book is available.). DVDs are cheap so it's certainly worth a rental (if you can find one) or a purchase. I teach an advanced auditing course, which covers a number of cases including ZZZZ Best, Regina, ESM, and Enron. I use the "Cooking the Books" video as well because the clips on ZZZZ Best, Regina, and ESM are short and they are interesting. Even if the "Smartest Guys" video were available, I think you could only show a few parts of it and those parts would be mostly examples of ethical matters or the perils of executive management. It's certainly worth a look, but think it will take a lot of thinking to figure out how to use.

Prof. John Schatzel
Stonehill College

Bob Jensen’s on-going threads on Enron are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm


I like the Journal of Accountancy, read it carefully, and praise the AICPA for making it available free to the world
From the AccountingWeb on September 29, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101342

Journal of Accountancy Marks 100 Years

AccountingWEB.com - Sep-29-2005 - The Journal of Accountancy is celebrating its centennial. The official publication of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA’s) continuous publication for 100 years is being recognized with an official proclamation congratulating the Journal on the accomplishment. “The history of the Journal of Accountancy is really the history of the nation’s accounting profession,” Barry Melancon, AICPA President and CEO said in a prepared statement. “Everything that has happened over the past 100 years to make this a robust, important profession has been reflected in the magazine’s pages.”

In its formative years, the Journal was the lone source of technical information. Before there even was a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Journal reported on, analyzed and influenced the accounting profession and now accounting terms are as common in daily newspapers as mayoral campaigns. Along the way 1,200 issues have been published, circulation has climbed to 368,000, and many awards for excellence have been earned.

A special 100th Anniversary issue is already available in hard copy and an electronic copy will be available on the AICPA web site beginning October 1. The issue includes features delving into the history of the magazine and the accounting profession along with articles exploring the issues and ideas that will shape the industry and carry it into the future successfully.

The Journal of Accountancy Website is at http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/joahome.htm

It will probably be no surprise that a highlight for me each month is the section called Smart Stops on the Web.  The folks who find those "smart stops" do a great job.


Introducing Microsoft's intended Quickbooks killer and other news from Richard
September 28, 2005 message from Richard Campbell

Here is a link to a free trial of "Small Business Accounting 2006".

https://www.accountingtrialkit.com/store.asp 

___________

There is a significant update (50 Megs)to the above. One of the updates to Outlook is improved anti-phishing capabilities.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officeupdate/default.aspx 

Richard J. Campbell
mailto:campbell@rio.edu


KPMG was eventually fired, due to SEC pressure, from the enormous Fannie Mae audit. 
"New Fannie Mae Violations Surface:  Accounting Flaws Include Possible Overvalued Assets, Insurance to Hide Losses," by Dawn Kopecki, The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2005; Page A3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112793973737254864,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Investigators combing through Fannie Mae's finances have found new accounting violations, including evidence that the company may have overvalued assets, underreported credit losses and misused tax credits, according to people close to or previously involved in the inquiries.

Some people familiar with the examination said evidence also indicates the company may have bought so-called finite insurance policies to hide losses after they were incurred. Securities regulators, including New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, are cracking down on corporations that they say bolstered earnings by using abusive financial reinsurance policies that are more akin to loans, where little or no risk is transferred to the insurer.

These people didn't provide details on the new violations, and it isn't clear how much new damage -- if any -- these problems will create for the company. But the people indicated that the alleged new accounting violations were designed to embellish the company's earnings and are in addition to the violations that the company and its regulator have already disclosed.

According to the people who have been involved with or are close to the investigations, for example, there are questions about how Fannie booked certain tax credits, including those used to lower its annual tab with the Internal Revenue Service. Fannie reduced its corporate-tax rate in 2003 from a statutory minimum of 35% to an effective rate of 26% by recording tax savings of $988 million in tax credits and an additional $479 million from its tax-exempt investments, according to its year-end earnings disclosure.

Earlier this year, Fannie Mae acknowledged that it violated accounting principles in recording its derivatives and other transactions, estimating a possible cumulative after-tax loss for the restatement period from 2001 through mid-2004 of as much as $10.8 billion, based on the company's finances as of Dec. 31, 2004. The company has said that its restatement process won't be completed until the second half of 2006.

In a statement released late yesterday, Fannie Mae noted that its regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, has found that the company was "adequately capitalized" at the end of the second quarter. The company also said it believes it is "on track" to reach an Ofheo mandate that it build up its capital to 30% above the normal requirement by the end of this month. Regarding the various investigations, the company said: "We will continue to provide updates through our regulatory filings as issues are identified and resolved."

Ofheo said Fannie's projected surplus over minimum capital requirements "is sufficient to absorb uncertainties in the estimated impact to capital of the [company's] accounting errors, based on current information."

News that investigators may have found new accounting irregularities triggered a selloff in Fannie Mae stock, which dropped 11%, the largest percentage decline since the stock-market crash of 1987. The stock was off $4.99 to $41.71 in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. That is the lowest closing price since July 1997.

The company's board initiated its own review of Fannie's finances after Ofheo accused executives of manipulating accounting rules in a scathing report delivered to the board 12 months ago. Fannie vehemently defended its accounting until the Securities and Exchange Commission sided with Ofheo last December and directed the company to correct errors in its application of two rules under generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. Fannie began its multiyear earnings restatement and ousted Chief Executive Franklin Raines and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Howard shortly thereafter.

Continued in article

You can read the following at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm

"The Potential Crisis at Fannie Mae," Comstock Funds, August 11, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/Fannie133

We have no proprietary information about Fannie Mae, but what is publicly known is scary enough. As you may recall, last December the SEC required Fannie to restate prior financial statements while the Office of Federal Oversight (OFHEO) accused the company of widespread accounting regularities that resulted in false and misleading statements. Significantly, the questionable practices included the way Fannie accounted for their huge amount of derivatives. On Tuesday, a company press release gave some alarming hints on how extensive the problem may be.

 

The press release stated that in order to accomplish the restatements, “we have to obtain and validate market values for a large volume of transactions including all of our derivatives, commitments and securities at multiple points in time over the restatement period. To illustrate the breadth of this undertaking, we estimate we will need to record over one million lines of journal entries, determine hundreds of thousands of commitment prices and securities values, and verify some 20,000 derivative prices…”

 

“…This year we expect that over 30 percent of our employees will spend over half their time on it, and many more are involved. In addition we are bringing some 1,500 consultants on board by year’s end to help with the restatement…Altogether, we project devoting six to eight million labor hours to the restatement. We are also investing over $100 million in technology projects to enhance or create new systems related to accounting and reporting…we do not believe the restatement will be completed until sometime during the second half of 2006…”

 

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads about Fannie's FAS 133 violations at Fannie Mae at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm

KPMG was eventually fired, due to SEC pressure, from the enormous Fannie Mae audit.  You can read more about KPMG's woes at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#KPMG


Disaster Kits (Especially note Mossberg's disaster gadgets)
September 22, 2005 message from Jim Borden

Scott,

Not sure if this is the type of emergency checklist you were looking for, but it may be helpful nonetheless. from WSJ.com - A Doctor's Emergency Kit ---

Water-purification tablets. Those are the top priority in the survival kit of Tom Kirsch, the emergency-department operations director at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Kirsh, who has 15 years of experience in disaster response, also keeps a pocket-sized LED, or light-emitting diode, flashlight, which can last for hundreds of hours (a regular flashlight will last only four to five).

continued at http://snipurl.com/DrsEmergencyKit

This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after it is e-mailed.

Also, Mossberg had a column in yesterday's WSJ about gadgets for use in emergency situations: http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/solution-20050921.html 

Jim Borden
Villanova University


"This Is a Test of Emergency Power Systems," by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2005 --- http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/solution-20050921.html

Regardless of how "wireless" communications technology has become, your laptop, cellphone, BlackBerry, radio or TV will keep working only if the batteries can be recharged. These gadgets may be your communications lifeline, but, as we saw during Hurricane Katrina, they can become useless if the electrical grid is down for days or weeks -- just when you need them most.

Of course, if you stock numerous extra batteries for each device, and keep them charged fastidiously, you might ride out a long power outage. But that takes a fat wallet and an iron will. You could use a car charger to keep these gadgets going in a power outage, but during Katrina many people couldn't get gasoline to power their cars. You could recharge your gadgets from a home generator, but few people own them or stockpile the fuel they consume.

So this week, my assistant Katie Boehret and I tested gadgets that are specifically designed to work in emergency situations. We tested two radios that use cranks to recharge their batteries, including one with a built-in cellphone charger. We also took a look at disposable chargers for cellphones, smart phones and even iPod music players.

Obviously these products won't help you stay connected should the communications infrastructure itself go down, as happened during Katrina. If the cellphone towers, Internet providers, and TV and radio stations are knocked offline, even a well-charged laptop, phone or radio might be useless. But it's best to have your end of the system ready if some of these networks do remain operational, or come back on line during the crisis.

The crank radios were pretty easy to set up and use, which is a relief for anyone who might buy them and not learn how to use them until actually necessary. We found the $50 Multi-Purpose Radio FR300 by Eton Corp. at Hammacher Schlemmer ( www.hammacher.com ) and liked its multifaceted functionality, which includes picking up the audio signal from TV stations.

This sturdy-looking, square radio has a carrying handle on top and comes with a case. Its front displays a speaker, small flashlight, and tuning display for five settings: AM, FM, the TV1 and TV2 television audio bands, and a "WX" band for the government's weather channels. Katie used a slide bar just below that display to choose which she wanted to hear. She turned the tuning knob to hear a specific radio station; a smaller knob built into the larger knob allows for more precise tuning. There is a collapsible antenna.

To generate power for the FR300, we simply folded a plastic crank out from the radio's side, and turned it for a little while, evoking a loud whirring sound. Eton says that two minutes of cranking should suffice for an hour of radio play time, but we got 35 minutes out of a 30-second crank, which is even better than that estimate.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broadcasts can be tuned in on the FR300 by setting the slide bar to the WX setting. A separate tuning knob lets you turn to whichever is the strongest of the seven NOAA channels. You can set another separate knob on "Alert" so as to hear whenever the NOAA announces emergency weather news in your area. A siren is also built into this radio.

A small cellphone-charging piece plugs into the back of the FR300, and five included adapters permit charging of certain Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, Siemens and Sony Ericsson phones. Katie easily plugged her Samsung cellphone into the adapter and had it charging after a few cranks.

The $70 Freeplay Eyemax Weather Band Radio from Innovative Technologies Distribution Inc. ( www.windupradio.com ) was similar to the FR300, but it lacked a few features. This radio has its crank, speaker and tuning display all lined up on the front, with a tiny flashlight at one end and an antenna at the other.

A solar panel on its top can be used to operate the radio in direct sunlight, which might be a nice feature if you're not up for repeated hand-cranking. The Freeplay also comes with an AC adapter, unlike the FR300. But the FR300 can run on three AA batteries, which might be more useful during an evacuation; the Freeplay had no option for disposable batteries.

While the Freeplay Eyemax is also advertised to receive seven NOAA weather-band channels, its weather-tuning display is confusingly represented on the same display as AM/FM tuning. We liked the FR300's separate weather-channel knob better because it allowed us to set one weather station and not have to change it after listening to the radio.

The Freeplay's estimated crank/run time was more accurate -- as the company said, 30 seconds of cranking enabled the battery to work for 35 minutes, the same as the FR300.

Katie and I also re-tested a product we have reviewed in the past -- Cellboost by Compact Power Systems Inc. These are tiny disposable cellphone chargers that can give your phone 60 minutes of usage time or 60 hours of standby time. But this month, the company introduced the same devices for smartphones, which are cellphones designed for email and Web browsing. Other new Cellboost models power portable game stations, camcorders and even iPod music players -- though these aren't necessarily emergency lifelines.

I use the Treo 650 smart phone every day, for email and phone calls, so I tested the $8 Treo Cellboost, which promises 60 minutes of talk time. As soon as I attached the Cellboost and flipped its on/off switch, it worked like I had plugged my smartphone into its wall charger. Katie tried the $8 BlackBerry charger and the $10 iPod mini charger with the same simple results. The Cellboosts for iPod and iPod mini each afford eight hours of play time.

Compact Power Systems also introduced a product called the iRecharge, a rechargeable portable battery that fits snugly around your iPod, iPod mini or iPod shuffle giving the iPod and iPod mini 12 hours of extra play time and the iPod shuffle 40 extra hours. It has an on/off switch, so you can charge your iPod as needed, as well as a charge-level indicator that glows to tell you how much juice is left.

Katie used the iRecharge with her mini, and it worked easily. The iRecharge for iPod and iPod mini is sold for $80 in a Value Pack with a disposable iPod Cellboost, belt clip and a leather carrying case. The iPod shuffle's iRecharge Value Pack costs $40.

We highly recommend getting a couple of Cellboosts to keep in your briefcase, purse or glove compartment; each charger remains usable for up to two years. And we recommend a crank radio as well. But, while Cellboosts are an inexpensive solution for recharging your gadgets, crank radios are more of an investment. Be sure to look for one with as many power sources as possible -- such as a slot for disposable batteries and AC adapter -- and make sure it includes a good flashlight.

Then, pray you don't have to use any of these things.


From Jim Mahar's blog on September 15, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Modern Finance vs. Behavioural Finance: An Overview of Key Concepts and Major Arguments by Panagiotis Andrikopoulos

It is about the time of the semester when many finance classes turn their attention to market efficiency. Thus, it is perfect timing for Andrikopoulous' refresher comparing and contrasting Modern Fiance and Behavioural Finance.

SSRN-Modern Finance vs. Behavioural Finance: An Overview of Key Concepts and Major Arguments by Panagiotis Andrikopoulos:

A quick look in:

"Modern Finance has dominated the area of financial economics for at least four decades. Based on a set of strong but highly unrealistic assumptions its advocates have produced a range of very influential theories and models." "The importance of these two psychological biases in the under- and overreaction hypotheses is that investors under conservatism will only partially evaluate new publicly available information, or even disregard it altogether if it is not in favour of their beliefs" "Under the representativeness heuristic, investors will consider a series of positive company performances as representative of a continuous growth potential, and ignore the possibility that this performance is of a random nature." "Overreaction and under-reaction to new information may be viewed as a combination of three distinct inefficiencies; firstly, the inability of investment players to correctly distinguish between the length of the short-run and the long-run...; secondly, the excessive optimism of all investment agents due to biased self-attribution, and thirdly, the influence that one investment group has on another."

Of course, not everyone believes this new Behavioural School of thought. Again from the paper:

"Soon after the first empirical papers on behavioural finance were published, their claims came in for considerable criticism from supporters of the modern finance paradigm."

"important counter-argument disputes the existence of certain regularities and argues for the existence of research biases and other methodological shortcomings in behavioural finance studies. More commonly, the evidence on the existence of pricing anomalies is accepted but in that case, the most important response concerns the existence of additional risk factors, e.g. value premium can be explained as compensation for bearing additional systematic risk."

In this light of continually counter-punching against evidence suggesting rationality does not dominate

"It is also claimed that the positive contributions of modern finance are at an end and that its energies are now devoted to protecting itself in various ad hoc ways from the threat posed by the vast and growing anomalies literature. The simplifying models of modern finance, under this view, should be regarded as merely rough first approximations to how markets really behave, and that they stand in need of substantial revision and extension."

Andrikopoulos concludes:

"Nevertheless, the rational expectations model and the efficient markets model can never become obsolete, since they represent an ideal market. Should the behavioural finance revolution succeed, its applications in practice will simply move real markets closer to the ideal of semi-strong market efficiency."

Very nice. I like the perspective it gives even though at times I thought he made the division stronger than it generally appears to be.

My view? Probably be that modern finance is a very good first approximation and more often than not, the correct view. That said, I will concede (and indeed stress) that markets are far from perfect and behavioural finance is rightly here to stay for it does add to our understanding and (as Andrikopoulos points out) most assuredly moves markets closer to the ideal held by modern finance.

Cite: Andrikopoulos, Panagiotis, "Modern Finance vs. Behavioural Finance: An Overview of Key Concepts and Major Arguments" (June 2005). http://ssrn.com/abstract=746204


Don't forget my Tidbit on September 14, 2005 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2005/tidbits050914.htm

I believe I have found the missing link between animals and civilized man. It is us.
Konrad Lorenz

In the past I've stressed the need for replication in research --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession

This is an example of one of those very interesting studies in need of replication on a wider scale with real investors making real portfolio decisions.

"Brain Regions Blamed for Bad Investment Ideas:  Risky vs. Safe Investment Mistakes May Spring From Different Brain Regions," by Jennifer Warner, WebMD, August 31, 2005 --- http://my.webmd.com/content/article/110/109839.htm

A new discovery may help explain where boneheaded investment ideas and get- rich-quick schemes come from.

Researchers say two different brain regions may be involved in making risky vs. conservative investment mistakes, a finding that may eventually help economists build better models of people's investment behavior.

"Overall, these findings suggest that risk-seeking choices (such as gambling at a casino) and risk-averse choices (such as buying insurance) may be driven by two distinct [brain regions]," write Camelia Kuhnen of the Stanford University School of Business and colleagues in the Sept. 1 issue of Neuron.

They say activating either of these two areas can lead to a shift in risk preferences, which may explain why casinos surround their guests with reward cues, such as inexpensive food, free liquor, surprise gifts, and potential jackpot prizes.

This anticipation of reward stimulates the risk-seeking area of the brain and may increase the likelihood of individuals switching from conservative, risk-aversion investment behavior to risky investment behavior. A similar story in reverse may also apply to marketing strategies used by insurance companies.

Where Bad Investment Ideas Come From

In the study, researchers used brain imaging to analyze brain region activity in a group of adult volunteers who were asked to make investment decisions between two stocks and a bond by pressing a button.

Before each session, researchers told the participants they would receive a percentage of the cash that they made by investing or would lose cash from their participation fee if they were not successful.

Continued in article


I really hate to be the bearer of bad news for an organization I love (the AICPA), but here goes. This may be the end of Barry Melancon.

From the AccountingWeb on Setpember 13, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101286 

The 118 year old American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA, the Institute), the profession’s trade organization and one of its standard setting boards, while adjusting to changes in its role and focus resulting from the accounting scandals, is facing charges from some of its own members that its financial reporting does not clearly describe the AICPA’s financial activities. CPAs Reforming Our Profession (CROP) ( www.cpas4reform.com ) is an organization of 160 AICPA members, who began their activities in 2002 and presented a detailed report analyzing and criticizing the AICPA’s financial information to Council in May 2004.

CROP founders Andrew Blackman, Mitchell Freedman, Harold Katz, John Levy, Stan Mills and Kendall Wheeler, presented an updated report at the Spring 2005 Council meeting and continue to press the Institute to provide more explanation for various business transactions and business practices. In addition, CROP has criticized the AICPA’s presentation of financial information for lack of transparency.

CROP questions the financial relationship between the AICPA and CPA2Biz (C2B) (www.cpa2biz.com) the AICPA-sponsored web portal that has incurred huge operating losses since 2001. The CROP reports contain very detailed analysis of the transactions surrounding the disposition of Capital Professional Advisors, Inc. (CapPro), a subsidiary of C2B. CROP has also questioned the changes in the AICPA’s asset composition in recent years and its impact on financial liquidity, and has noted a decline in affinity income.

Phyllis Bernstein, writing an opinion for NPA Magazine about the CROP reports said “CROP has questioned data they found unclear and requested information which, in their opinion, was dribbled to them in small batches without enough “Meat on their bones” to answer their questions.” Bernstein writes, “In my opinion, a not-for profit organization should issue financial statements in which the numbers “get up and dance” and tell the story of what’s happening.

Barry Melancon, the AICPA’s CEO responded to Ms. Bernstein’s opinion in the same issue of NPA Magazine saying, “The annual report includes a formal Management Discussion & Analysis (MD&A), which goes beyond what is required of a not-for-profit entity, but is consistent with our belief in transparency.” Melancon, whose second 5-year contract as CEO of the Institute will expire at the end of 2005, claims that the AICPA had met with CROP numerous times. He said that the current Chair, Robert Bunting, and Vice Chair had met with CROP this past spring.

The authors of the CROP report continue to press for more information about the complex stock transaction by which Nationwide Financial Services in October 2002 purchased CapPro with C2B preferred stock. CROP also questions the net gain on disposal of CapPro, recorded by the Institute in the 2003 financial statements. Stock valuations generally fluctuated widely during the period C2B owned CapPro, from July 2001 to October 2002.

CapPro was initially purchased by C2B in July 2001 for a $3,000,000 note and $140,000 of stock, according to the CROP reports and the AICPA’s 2002 Annual Report. CapPro incurred significant losses in the short period that C2B owned it, according to CROP.

AICPA management described the sale and the reported gain in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) of the 2003 Annual Report.

In October 2002, CPA2Biz completed the sale of Capital Professional Advisors, Inc. (”CapPro”) to an investor holding CPA2Biz common stock and Series A Preferred Stock. The Purchaser exchanged all of their CPA2Biz equity instruments in exchange for the common stock that CPA2Biz held in CapPro. The financial statements are presented to reflect CapPro as a discontinued operation for all periods. The loss from the discontinued operations was $0.7 million and $3.1 million in 2003 and 2002, respectively. The current year loss is offset by a gain on the disposal of $6.3 million.

CROP reports that the net gain on the sale was $5.6 million.

The Purchaser, Nationwide Financial Services, was named provider of the Member Retirement Plan in July 2002 and Preferred provide, retirement savings plans for CPA Clients in April 2003.

CROP continues to question the financial ties between the AICPA and C2B. AICPA management, which asserted in the MD&A for 2003 that the Institute as a stand-alone entity is not liable for C2B obligations, acknowledged C2B’s losses in their MD&A discussions for 2003 and 2004 saying in 2003, “CPA2Biz sustained significant losses during its first two and one-half years of operations. . . .CPA2Biz completed several initiatives [in 2003] to improve its liquidity and better position itself under current market conditions.”

The AICPA’s 2003 Notes to the Combined Financial Statements, for example, describe changes in a note granted to C2B by the AICPA, “The unsecured note bore interest at 10% and required a principal payment of $3,600,000 in March 2004. In July 2003, the loan was modified to bear interest at 5% and is payable in various installments through May 2008. The effect of the substantial modification of debt terms resulted in a gain of approximately $61,000.” (Note 8).

The CROP reports compare financial data on AICPA liquidity from 1998 to 2004. They say “In spite of the two recent and significant dues increases, liquidity of the AICPA assets has declined substantially since 1998. They report that unrestricted net assets have dropped from a $48 million surplus in 1998 to a $60 million deficit in 2004.

According to the published financial statements for the past three years, unrestricted net assets for 2002, 2003 and 2004 totaled $(49 million), $(54.9 million), and $(60.6 million), respectively. C2B’s impact on unrestricted assets was $(80 million) in 2002, $(90 million) in 2003 and $(101 million) in 2004. Total assets report C2B preferred stock valued at $87 million in 2002, $80.9 million in 2003 and $82.3 million in 2004.

Some of the detail in the CROP reports suggests that CROP has had access to more information than what is provided in the published financial statements. For example, CROP was able to note the monthly losses of CapPro. CROP makes reference to Board of Directors minutes in the reports as well as conversations with AICPA personnel.

Barry Melancon refers to recent contact with CROP according to NPA Magazine. He said that AICPA personnel discussed the Institute’s accounting for deferred costs related to the computerized CPA exam with CROP. He describes the accounting treatment by saying “our contractual arrangement with our exam partners requires that we break even. Therefore we appropriately classified those expenditures as deferred costs, a cumulative $32.3 million asset on our books as of April 30, 2005.” He adds, “We fully expect to recoup that investment through our contractual share of exam fees on or before 2014.”

CROP has also criticized the AICPA’s consolidation of not-for profit with for-profit entities in its financial statements, saying that does not lead to clarity. The AICPA notes in its financials that the accounts of the for-profit and not-for-profit entities have been combined in accordance with Statement of Position 94-3, Reporting of Related Entities by Not-for-Profit Organizations. (SOP 94-3).


I love New Zealand’s Robert Walker.  He has a way of turning almost any message into scholarly theory.
His brief reference to Ijiri refers to the following Tidbit:

Dr. Ijiri was one of my major professors in the doctoral program at Stanford.  I'm naturally drawn to things he writes.  He is one of the long-time advocates of historical cost based accounting.  He is in fact much more dedicated to it than Bill Paton (but not Ananias Littleton) where Paton and Littleton are best known advocates of historical cost accounting.  The following is the lead article in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, July/August 2005, pp. 255-279.

US accounting standards and their environment:
A dualistic study of their 75-years of transition

Yuji Ijiri
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract
This article examines the 75-year transition of the US accounting standards and their environment.  It consists of three parts, each having two themes: Part (1) Past changes: 1. The first market crash and the second market crash; 2. Facts-based accounting and forecasts-based accounting,  Part (II) Present issues: 3. The reform legislation (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and the reform administration; 4. Procedural fairness and pure fairness, and Part (III) Future trends: 5. Forecast protection and forecast separation; 6. Principles-based systems and rules-based systems.  These themes are each examined from dualistic perspectives by contrasting two fundamental concepts or principles.  The article concludes with the strong need to focus on "procedural fairness" in establishing accounting standards as well as in implementing the reform legislation and administration, in contrast to "pure fairness" that is almost impossible to achieve by anyone.

Below you will find Robert Walker’s reply to my posting of the recent AICPA message on the CPA-L list. 

Bob Jensen 

Reply from Robert Walker

I would like to begin by thanking Bob Jensen for continuing to supply material to this forum.  He has come up with two gems of late in regard to which I am sure we can resume our periodic debates on matters other than those related to taxation (important but boring*).  The two matters to which I refer are:

§         The most recent contribution regarding a ‘ginger group’ called CROP.

§         A reference to the recent article by Ijiri.

 

In this message I will concentrate on the first of these as I have only just secured a copy of Ijiri’s latest musings.  I shall digest it and attempt to provoke a debate.  Perhaps I could say this: Ijiri proves that it is possible to both a genius and wrong.   

In respect to the matter of CROP, I read the manifesto to which Bob has directed us.  It was if I had a sense of déjŕ vu.  The list of demands or theses, shall we say in imitation of Luther, strike a strong resonance with me here in New Zealand far from the apparently vastly over-complicated world of the AICPA.  The issues identified are the same as apply to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand (and, for that matter the ICAEW of which I am also a member).

There is one thesis upon which I would like to comment and it is thesis 3, which states:

Provide better mechanisms for the voice of opposition in AICPA publications and communications and evaluate the ideas of those with thoughts contrary to the "common wisdom".

To me contention is the very essence of a professional body.  Even were I to accept Ijiri’s contention in regard to cash accounting (see the article Bob directed us to), I would still say that we do not deal in mathematical certainties.  In the absence of such certainty, human truth, if that be the right word, is derived from a process of disputation – that is, thesis, antithesis, synthesis or point, counterpoint, harmony.  Nietzsche might have it thus:

 

The falseness of a judgment is to us not necessarily an objection to a judgment … The question is to what extent it is life-advancing, life-preserving … and our fundamental tendency is to assert that the falsest judgments (to which synthetic judgments a priori belong) are the most indispensable to us, that without granting as true the fictions of logic, without measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, without a continual falsification of the world by means of numbers, mankind could not live.  (Beyond Good and Evil verse 4)

The continual falsification of the world by means of numbers is what accounting is.  The picture we create, or more importantly the technique we use, has utility in its time and its place, in its context.  When the context changes the picture created and the technique used must be changed to suit the new context.  We must be very alert to the change of context to ensure we adapt the picture and the technique to new circumstances to create the next false judgment that has utility.  The process of accounting necessitates an intellectual openness, a willingness to see the other point of view, to engage in debate, to dispute.  For if it does not have this it becomes ossified, fixed in amber and useless.  In other words, the “common wisdom” must inevitably be wrong at some point in the passage of time and the way this ‘wrongness’ is revealed is by the dissenter challenging the orthodox view.  The dissenter is the most precious person of all.

Some years ago I read a review of a book in the New York Review which compared medieval guilds with modern professional associations.  The case advanced by the book was that if they were not careful professional associations will go the way of the guilds as they serve the same purpose in their respective contexts.  From memory the reviewer disagreed and gave the example of the medical profession.  Apparently, doctors and their students have some sort of mock diagnosis and treatment disputes.  A set of symptoms is put to two or more disputants.  A furious debate takes place in which different treatments are advocated and eventually some sort of resolution is reached.  The purpose of doing this is self-evident – it is the stone against which the medical blade is sharpened, new and different approaches are formulated and disseminated, knowledge (human truth) is shared and developed.  The professional organization which facilitates these debates is therefore essential to its practitioners.  It is in consequence vibrant and will survive.  It understands its role – it is to enhance the practice of its discipline by a process of learning through disputation.

What then will become of those professional bodies that stifle debate, that behave as a form of totalitarian state?  The answer is simple: they have denied their central purpose and should and will die. 

Forgive me Scott & others.

Robert B Walker [walkerrb@ACTRIX.CO.NZ]

September 17, 2005 reply from Robert Walker

I am just pleased that someone listens to what I say. New Zealand has something of an anti-intellectual tradition and accountants are not dissimilar anywhere. Being an intellectual accountant is almost an oxymoron.

I attach a piece of paper with quotations that summarise the sources of my thought.

The first is about having a single theme driving what one does and thinks. In my case, and in Yuji Ijiri’s case for that matter, it is double entry bookkeeping.

The second is about the nature of time and its flow past a single point, being now. That too has relevance to accounting of course. Despite what Ijiri might want otherwise, we now stand as those who scan the future to try to make sense of the fragments we see.

The great irony is that The Theory of Accounting Measurement provides the road map for implementing forward looking accounting. But then that is the reason Ijiri doesn’t like it. That is because he knows how over-whelmingly complex, even with computers, it will become. It is sad that Ijiri is removed from the mainstream because he is labeled the defender of HC. However, I note that Denny Beresford was as keen to get the latest article as me.

Another great irony for me is that I came upon Ijiri as I wanted to preserve historic cost accounting too (in about 1990) and for the same reason as him – we both perceived the attack on HC to be an attack on double entry. Anyway he discussed Wittgenstein early in his book. I went to the library to get a copy of Tractatus (or whatever) and it sat next to a translation of Nietzsche’s works. I had just then be reading Fukuyama’s The End of History in which he advocates following Nietzsche’s theories and so I took a copy of that as well. I was soon hooked. Ijiri and Nietzsche in the same company, that slightly flatters the first but not by much and that is high praise indeed. I envy you being taught by him.

Robert


September 24, 2005 message from David Fordham

Google needs to be more careful. They are going to blow their cover. By expanding so much, they will arouse suspicion and mistrust, thus nullifying their basic goal of becoming the epitome of our Orwellian older male sibling. If people become suspicious, they will be unable to fulfill their objective of being the undercover watchdog of our society, and then we will be back to resorting to wiretaps, search warrants, undercover cops, and other such primitive data-gathering techniques for our safety and security.

Multiple choice question: What does Google stand for?

a. Great Opportunity to Operationalize a Gullible Luddite Exploitation?
b. Gargantuan On-Line Operation of Government Law Enforcement?
c. Gradually Overcoming Our Ghastly Legal Environment?
d. Grand Omniscient, Omnipotent God-Like Entity?
e. All of the above

Regarding (a), I enjoyed some more mirth this morning when a friend, who voluntarily uses Gmail, uses Google searches numerous times per day, and even has a Google desktop program running on his always-on computer, complained about the installation of a traffic camera on a Virginia interstate as an invasion of his privacy. Stop and think about it.

Regarding (b), I was brought up watching Mission Impossible, and my brother-in-law who works in the Pentagon has convinced me that there are covert operations which even the above-average American cannot begin to imagine, involving data mining, artificial intelligence analyzing patterns, looking for potential threats, etc. in unimaginable volumes of electronic data. It is not beyond my imagination to believe that we have already been the beneficiary of some of this effort in the form of a prevention of some form of terrorist attack or other prevented mischief which we will never know about. Granted, I'm a fan of James Bond movies, and I could be overestimating governments' abilities somewhat, but I believe the average American grossly underestimates the capabilities of our undercover technological operations, and it's a good thing, too.

Regarding (c), the readers of this list know where I stand with respect to the formidable challenge that our protectors have in overcoming the hands-tying roadblocks they face in their jobs. By developing a system whereby citizens voluntarily participate in a data-gathering effort, they can overcome some of the legal hindrances posed by an involuntary data-gathering effort.

Regarding (d), the religious zealots who worship the ground George Orwell walked on rejoice at the fulfillment of his prophecy, even if it exists primarily in a virtual, rather than literal, sense.

I myself subscribe to (e). Because of the life that I lead and the choices I make, I feel much safer, more secure, and enjoy far more individual liberty and happiness as more and more knowledge is generated, whether by raw creation or by assembly. Being accountants, and more importantly, being accounting professors, we are inextricably part of the ghastly plot to efficiently and effectively collect, analyze, and disseminate knowledge. Any differentiation of knowledge as personal, corporate, private, public, etc., is purely arbitrary and capricious, dependent upon manmade definitions and semantics rather than objective natural characteristics.

Okay, remove tongue from cheek. Let's see how much heat, smoke and light we can generate on this list from this one.

David Fordham
Pot-Stirrer to the Max
James Madison University

September 25, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

I think all your multiple choices are absurd.  You might even have borrowed them from the ACLU.

Anybody knows, or should know, that whatever is placed on a Web server is public information.  The Web crawlers were with us before the Google geeks even started their first year at Stanford.  The Pentagon may have invented the Internet (not the Web), but I hardly attribute the invention of Web crawlers to Big Brother. 

Plugging into the library of the world is a voluntary act, and Google hardly owns or controls this library.  Google’s 100,000+ computers simply crawl around the stacks trying to help us in a better way than any of the bumbling competition like Microsoft. 

Actually Microsoft may be more of a risk, because who knows what Trojan horses Big Bill buried deep in his secretive systems that run our PCs even when they are not connected to the Internet.  Other companies, like Google, providing software that we install inside our PCs are also threats.

I hardly blame law enforcement for becoming more active on the Web.  The bad guys were the first cowboys in the Web’s Wild West (the eventual WWW), and I’m thankful that the roaming marshal’s are smart enough to start bringing electronic detection into sexual and financial exploitation.  As of yet, however, this seems to be a losing battle since the unruly West became the entire World.  Some of our real enemies around the world are out to destroy the “West”ern world.

You and David Albrecht are frightened by Big Brother.  I’m more frightened by anarchy and revolution in an era where a few zealots with airplanes can down skyscrapers, poison water reservoirs, unleash dirty bombs, and flood a rebuilt New Orleans anytime they feel like it.  And zealots aren’t afraid to sacrifice their own lives in their destructive causes.

I’m very frightened by a vicious and technologically-savvy Russian mafia that makes the old Sicilian bunch look like pretty nice guys henpecked by their wives. 

I’m not frightened by Big Brother.  In fact he gives me comfort in an increasingly lawless and vicious world at the dawn of anarchy with every other mother’s son roaming about with an AK-47 and a trunk full of fertilizer.  I like video cameras on every corner of town.  I don’t want them inside my house, but I’m even willing to let them inside if my neighbors are inside their houses plotting to destroy me.

We’ve both grown overly paranoid David.  You’re frightened by Big Brother.  I’m more afraid of unknown neighbors far and wide.

I’m forever grateful that a small-minded Osama grew impatient.  Instead of patiently waiting with his billions until he could buy weapons of mass destruction (particularly biological weapons) under our totally-trusting noses and soft bellies, he let his intentions be known by blowing up a number of buildings which, on a world scale, were totally insignificant. 

We eventually may fail to prevent worldwide holocaust, but now it won’t be because we did not harden our bellies and put up some type of guards, albeit bumbling Big Brother guards that are probably too little too late.  There’s always a risk that Big Brother will be owned by the bad guys, but I have faith that this will not happen as long as our media/blogs remain vigilant and free. 

Ben Franklin said “THOSE THAT WOULD SELL THEIR FREEDOMS FOR A LITTLE SECURITY DESERVE NEITHER.” But the worst weapons Ben Franklin faced were single-ball muskets and some microbes that could be quarantined. As for me in the 21st Century, I’m willing to sell my freedoms for the sake of continued living in a civil world.

Bob Jensen

Later David sent a long reply pointing out that I totally misinterpreted him by equating his Big Google remarks with Big Brother.  I apologized for this and contemplated removing my above remarks.  Then I decided that since David actually agrees with my main points it's best to leave them in, but please do not think of him as against Big Brother surveillance.


September 28, 2005 reply from Jagdish S. Gangolly [gangolly@INFOTOC.COM]

You are right that to be on the web, the pages have to be world-readable/executable. However, you can prevent web robots from indexing whichever pages you don't want them to index by using robot.txt file in your root directory. The details are at http://www.robotstxt.org/

Jagdish


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 30, 2005

TITLE: Mortgage Risk: a Hot Export
REPORTER: James R. Hagerty and Ruth Simon
DATE: Sep 22, 2005
PAGE: C1
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112734367410147939,00.html 
TOPICS: Advanced Financial Accounting, Securitization

SUMMARY: This article provides an excellent review of the securitization process. Related articles help students to understand the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the potential losses that might occur in an economic downturn.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What is the process of securitization?

2.) Why do market participants want to buy mortgage-backed securities? Why do banks want to sell off the mortgage receivables they generate in their lending practices?

3.) What is the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in this mortgage process? Why are those entities playing a smaller role in this area than they had in the past? You may refer to a related article to help answer this question.

4.) In general, what are the accounting issues associated with the securitization process? What accounting standard or standards governs the treatment of these transactions for the original lending institution that sells the mortgage loans to an investment bank?

5.) What are the accounting issues associated with the investment in the mortgage-backed security? What accounting standard or standards governs the accounting for a mortgage-backed security if the holder is a business preparing financial statements?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

--- RELATED ARTICLES ---
TITLE: Freddie Mac's McQuade Urges Less Haste In GSE Reform
REPORTER: Dow Jones Newswires
ISSUE: Sep 19, 2005
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,BT_CO_20050919_005718,00.html 

TITLE: Mortgage-Securities Drop Will Depend on Economy
REPORTER: James R. Hagerty
PAGE: B7 ISSUE: Sep 17, 2005
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112691821832143845,00.html 

 







Tidbits and Quotations from September 15-30, 2005

 

Tidbits on September 16, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Turn up your speakers
KatrinaUSA PowerPoint File (after it loads hit your spacebar or right arrow key) ---
http://snipurl.com/KatrinaUS
For me this show also runs automatically while passing from picture to picture.  I really like the music.

Petrea Sandlin visited Sugar Hill this summer and took the picture below
of New Hampshire's new Old Man on the Mountain

The building in the background is where I plan to continue
to inundate you with Tidbits after I retire in May 2006
(Unless I'm too tempted by the golf course behind my study.)


 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (in other words hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp


Music:
Audio Samples of the Hardanger Fiddle (Norway music) --- http://www.hfaa.org/music_samples.html

Norwegian bands --- http://dmoz.org/Regional/Europe/Norway/Arts_and_Entertainment/Music/Bands_and_Artists/

Chopin Midi Library --- http://www.gressus.se/chopin/midi/chopin.html
 

Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

Synopses of Operas (no sounds but hundreds of operas) --- http://www.naxos.com/intro.htm

National Portrait Gallery: Portrait Search http://npgportraits.si.edu/code/emuseum.asp
There are a lot of images plus a lot of missing images.  When testing how it works, I suggest you dip back into history such as searching for pictures of Abe Lincoln.

Photography
Niagara Falls from above ---
http://www.spaceimaging.com/gallery/ioweek/archive/05-04-17/niagara_falls_state_park_1024.jpg

For Cat Lovers Only (not me) --- http://catsinsinks.com/




Some good news from Louisiana:  Scientists discover how fish oil protects the brain
Louisiana State University scientists say they have discovered how the fatty acids found in fish oil help protect the human brain from the type of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease. Their study shows that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in coldwater fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, reduces levels of a protein known to cause damaging plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. What's more, the researchers discovered that a derivative of DHA, which they dubbed "neuroprotectin D1" (NPD1), is made in the human brain. That natural substance plays a key role, too, in protecting the brain from cell death, the study showed.
"Scientists discover how fish oil protects the brain," Tehran Times, September 12, 2005 --- http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/12/2005&Cat=7&Num=10
Jensen Comment:  And the other  good news is that two cans of sardines are only about a buck.


CNN's negative coaching before interviews
Pundit Michael Kinsley, certainly no conservative, says CNN has been coaching guests to "get angry" when they appear on the cable news channel to discuss Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Kinsley, once employed by CNN, opines for the Los Angeles Times these days. The question viewers should be asking -- "Is it news or is it Jerry Springer?"
"The Thursday wrap," The Pittsbugh Tribune-Review, September 15, 2005 ---
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/opinion/archive/s_374160.html

NBC should've coached more
Lauer and Couric each tried repeatedly to focus on the NEGATIVE while interviewing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and New Orleans Police Chief, but both responded POSITIVELY.
"Katie and Matt glum-faced on (the NBC) Today Show after being upstaged by optimistic disaster "victims", Free Republic, September 8, 2005 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1480048/posts
 


The pegs have been coached
If the peg is removed from the holder and the holder predicts rain, the peg locks itself shut, preventing clothes from being hung out.
"Clever clothes pegs check the weather," CNN, September 13, 2005 --- http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/09/12/spark.pegs/


 

Does this mean liberals are never stale (as opposed to 'fresh") and that liberals themselves never take sides that are "things that are dark, mysterious, taboo"? 

At least you're admitting your "defined" biases Terry!
Still, (Terry) Gross, who interviews both cultural and political figures on "Fresh Air," said that arts-themed programming is liberal by definition. "Art is about keeping an open mind to things that are dark, mysterious, taboo," she said. "Which is exactly the type of thing that certain people in the religious right don't want us to be thinking about."
Clayton Warfolk, "NPR's Gross Challenges Claims of Media Bias," NPR, September 14, 2005 --- http://journalism.berkeley.edu/ngno/stories/016709.html
 

Jensen Comment:  I'm critical of liberals that are always deconstructing, by "definition," anything conservative and "Grossly" unable to criticize liberals even when the emperor on the left side of the street is sometimes naked.  Neither Milton Friedman nor Ward Churchill nor Bill Moyers is always right (or wrong).  Do Berkeley journalism professors/students ever find fault on the naked emperor on left side of the street?  Or are emperors on the right always wrong by absolute "definition?"  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisyEvilEmpire.htm

I had an uneasy feeling watching Bill Moyers last night on PBS.  As an interviewer he was obviously following a liberal pre-scripted "definition" of globalization as inherently evil.  Actually the person being interviewed was quite articulate and made some very good points in my judgment, but in Moyers' mind his arguments had to be inherently wrong before the interview even started.  Moyers was most certainly not keeping an "open mind to things that are dark, mysterious, and taboo."

I prefer the younger Moyers I admired for so many years, a Moyers who avoided fiery sermons and was open to opposing viewpoints.
When I learn something new—and it happens every day— I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest.
Bill Moyers --- http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96jun/moyers.html


This is the older (wiser?) Bill Moyers.  I almost thought he was Rush Limbaugh looking into a mirror that reverses right and left.
“I believe this nation can’t survive half democracy and half oligarchy, just as it can’t survive half slave and half free,” said Moyers, who at times had the air of a Southern Baptist minister preaching to his congregation.  Moyers derived much of Tuesday’s lecture, held in the muggy Ben Light Gymnasium, from his latest book “Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times.” Moyers, whose three-day visit to the college was part of the annual Park Distinguished Visitor Series, said three forces have aligned to take control of the nation. “The political right, the religious right and joined with the corporate right create a powerful force in American life,” Moyers said in a media session earlier in the day. “The religious right provides the foot soldiers, the political right provide the ideas and the corporate right provides — through all the subsidies and offshore tax breaks — the spoils of victory.” During his public lecture later that night, he said, “The vultures are circling the carcass of democracy.”
Jim Harvern, "Bill Moyers up in arms about the state of democracy," The Itacan Online," September 15, 2005 --- http://www.ithaca.edu/ithacan/articles/0509/15/news/8bill_moye.htm

Jensen Comment:  So what will we ever do if liberals sink further in the 2008 election Mr. Moyers?  Should we incite more youth to despise business and religion? Or should the liberals perhaps soften up with something more practical and constructive to work within the business system that supplies the wages and taxes of the economy?  Socialists in Russia tried to destroy the business/religious system itself and turn government into one big bungling enterprise.  That experiment failed miserably.  Even socialism's most ardent advocate (Heilbrenner) declared socialism to be dead. 

I think globalization is inevitable.  America will sink faster than a rock with high tariffs and more entitlements.  There are stances against globalization, tax cuts, the military, and religion that are killing liberalism on election day.  Are you preaching on the decks of the Titanic Mr. Moyers rather than helping to launch the lifeboats of liberalism in the next election?  I think Hillary Clinton's less-liberal strategy, like that of her husband before her, is on a better track to possibly (albeit remotely) win the Presidency.  She's certainly well in front in the Democratic polls at the moment. 


Helping Out
Colleges who are sending ships, boats, and employees to the Gulf Coast --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/14/katrina


Stories from Hell
"New Orleans in Throes of Katrina, Chaos," by Allen G. Breed, The Washington Post, September 2, 2005 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/02/AR2005090201532.html


Charitable Deductions for an added two thirds of taxpayers!
September 15, 2005 message from Scott Bonacker [lister@BONACKERS.COM]

Nine hundred and forty-two nonprofits sent a September 12 letter to Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asking him to support the reinstatement of the charitable deduction for the "more than two-thirds of Americans" who do not itemize their deductions; the letter says that group donates $36 billion annually to charities.

http://www.pgdc.com/usa/item/?itemID=300474 

An excellent idea, as long as the money is distributed better. If everyone did all their giving to the Red Cross for example there would be lots of gaps.

Scott Bonacker, CPA
Springfield, Missouri

Jensen Comment:  The main worry is that many people are suckered in by phony or nearly-phony charities that solicit funds and keep most of it for "profits" to themselves.  This bill should be passed with a mandate that the IRS do better job denying life to many, many phonies out there.


Barf Opinion: 
It's time to starve the (charity) beast and leave it all to government
private charities used by the government to justify the abdication of its duties to its citizens.

Hurricane Katrina has prompted Americans to donate more than $700 million to charity, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. So many suckers, so little foresight. Government has been shirking its basic responsibilities since the '80s, when Ronald Reagan sold us his belief that the sick, poor and unlucky should no longer count on "big government" to help them, but should rather live and die at the whim of contributors to private charities. The Katrina disaster, whose total damage estimate has risen from $100 to $125 billion, marks the culmination of Reagan's privatization of despair. The American Red Cross leads the post-Katrina sweepstakes, quickly closing in on the $534 million it took in just after 9/11. But Red Cross spokeswoman Sheila Graham told the AP it needs another half billion "to provide emergency relief over the coming weeks for thousands of evacuees who have scattered among 675 of its shelters in 23 states." . . . Granted, in terms of popularity of likelihood of success, trying to make a case against giving money to charities compares to lobbying against puppies. The impulse to donate, after all, is rooted in our best human traits. As we watched New Orleanians die of thirst, disease and anarchic violence in the face of Bush Administration disinterest and local government incompetence, millions of us did the only thing we thought we could to do to help: cut a check or click a PayPal button. Tragically, that generosity feeds into the mindset of the sinister ideologues who argue that government shouldn't help people--the very mindset that caused the levee break that turned Katrina into a holocaust and led to official unresponsiveness. And it is already setting the stage for the next avoidable disaster. It's time to "starve the beast": private charities used by the government to justify the abdication of its duties to its citizens.
"CHARITIES ARE FOR SUCKERS," by Ted Rall, Yahoo News, September 14, 2005 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ucru/20050914/cm_ucru/charitiesareforsuckers&printer=1
Jensen Comment:  Barf!  Giving money to government does not necessarily make government more responsible about what it does with that money.  To the contrary feeding more money to government may make it less responsible. 

Leaving restorations to government in a nation this size of the U.S. makes efforts like Katrina cleanup dependent upon bureaucratic and Congressional choices as to funds allocation between competing demands such as military versus the U.S. Postal Service versus recovery versus an endless line up of pork barrels.  The winners are the ones are generally biggest lobbies. 

Charity is voluntary and allows for gifts of service as well as clothing, vehicles, housing, food, etc.  Charities generally allow for designation of gifts to a certain degree (not usually to naming a particular individual recipient but to specific causes such as blood banks, battered women, hospitals, etc.).  Sure some charities are infiltrated with criminals and/or incompetents who waste gifts.  I don't put much faith that government is less criminal or wasteful.  Crime and waste follow the money trail whether it is within government, private enterprise, churches, or charities.

At least when we give to charity we have some choice as to which charity is more honest, helps causes of particular interest to us, and sometimes engages in the act of raising funds in our churches, communities, etc.  Government is generally funded forcefully from taxes, the spending of which we have no direct controls and weak indirect controls afforded by being one among millions in an election of people who probably will not represent our interests on each and every issue (pork barrel)  that comes up.


Counter Opinion:  Countries are not governed by the will of the people

"States 'not run by people's will'," BBC News, September 14, 2005 --- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4247158.stm

Sixty-five percent of citizens across the world do not think their country is governed by the will of the people, a poll commissioned by the BBC suggests. The Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 poll questioned more than 50,000 people in 68 states for the BBC World Service survey about power.

Only in Scandinavia and South Africa do the majority believe that they are ruled according to their wishes.

But 47% thought elections in their countries were free and fair.

The figure is 55% for the US and Canada and up to 82% in EU countries - but just 24% in West Africa.

The survey also found that only 13% of people trusted politicians and only 16% thought they should be given more power.

About a third of those asked thought more power should go to writers and academics.

A quarter felt more should go to religious leaders - who are also seen as the most trusted group.

A fifth of those asked thought military, business leaders and journalists should be given more power.

Other key findings include: (see article)


Counter Opinion:  What happens sometimes when you leave it to bureaucrats?

I wish I were kidding. Hundreds of firefighters who volunteered to help with Katrina relief were held up for days in Atlanta while they took classes on sexual harassment and community relations, all courtesy of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of coordinating federal relief. At the White House, concerns about overriding the female governor of Louisiana reportedly contributed to the decision not to take control of a national disaster that clearly had overwhelmed state and local officials.


I liked this one on unlikely heroes.  Bravo to the three of them!  But by law they never should've done these things  without first having sexual harassment training in Atlanta?

"Three heroes and the brutal banality of bureaucracy," by Kathleen Parker, Jewish World Review, September 14, 2005 --- http://jewishworldreview.com/kathleen//parker091405.php3

Katrina's detritus will be months in the sifting, but what best reveals what went wrong may be found in the contrast between bureaucrats ensnared in red tape and three individuals who sprang into action as circumstances required.

Their names are Deamonte Love, Jabbar Gibson and Sheriff Warren C. Evans.

Deamonte Love is probably the most familiar. He is the 6-year-old who led a troupe of tiny refugees to safety after rescuers separated them from their parents. Deamonte was the oldest of the group, which included his 5-month-old brother, three toddlers in the 2-year-old range, a 3-year-old and her 14-month-old brother.

All held hands as Deamonte led the group along Causeway Boulevard in New Orleans, where he identified himself and his associates to authorities. In a sea of helpless victims, while heartier adults dithered or complained, Deamonte found the guts and fortitude to take care of himself, his family and friends.

Another victim of the storm, Gibson is perhaps better known as the 20-year-old who commandeered a school bus and drove 70 homeless passengers from New Orleans to the Houston Astrodome, beating the other 25,000 or so refugees awaiting evacuation from the Superdome by officials still trying to figure out who was in charge.

When no one is in charge, as seems to have been the case for too long in New Orleans, a leader eschews the clipboard and takes action. While city officials couldn't find their way to use hundreds of available school buses to evacuate some 100,000 residents without transportation, Gibson "stole" a bus and rescued 70 strangers.

A photo of the abandoned and eventually submerged school buses has become an iconographic image in Katrina's record — a kaleidoscopic history that would qualify as comedy if the results had not been so tragic. At times like this, bureaucracy isn't just a frustrating boondoggle; it is a faceless accomplice to negligent homicide. "No one is to blame because, sir, we were just following the rules."

Not Warren C. Evans. The sheriff of Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit, ignored his own governor's pleas to wait for "formal requests" and put his leadership instincts to better use. While other law enforcement volunteers were held up for 2-3 days dealing with paperwork, Evans led a convoy of six tractor-trailers, three rental trucks and 33 deputies to Louisiana.

Explaining his pre-emptive action to The New York Times, Evans said: "I could look at CNN and see people dying, and I couldn't in good conscience wait for a coordinated response."

Meanwhile, other more obedient citizens and potential rescuers, as well as evacuation vehicles, medical and food supplies, even a floating hospital, were stalled or unused as officials and politicians bickered over territory and protocol and — in an indictment that speaks for itself — gender sensitivity concerns.

I wish I were kidding. Hundreds of firefighters who volunteered to help with Katrina relief were held up for days in Atlanta while they took classes on sexual harassment and community relations, all courtesy of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of coordinating federal relief. At the White House, concerns about overriding the female governor of Louisiana reportedly contributed to the decision not to take control of a national disaster that clearly had overwhelmed state and local officials.

There are other examples of such absurdities too numerous to list, but two stand out. Amtrak offered to evacuate people from New Orleans, but city officials declined and the last train left the city — empty. A Navy hospital ship, the USS Bataan, which was in the Gulf of Mexico through the storm, had 600 empty hospital beds and six operating rooms, awaiting relief orders while the injured and ill on land were without aid. Although the Bataan was among the first to help in rescue missions, federal authorities were slow to use the ship's other resources.

Continued in article


Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004 ---
http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf 

Poverty
Comparing states using 3-year-average poverty rates for 2002–2004 shows that the poverty rate for Mississippi (17.7 percent)—not statistically different from the rates for Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia— was higher than the rates of the other 44 states (Table 10).

At the other end of the distribution, the 3-year-average poverty rate for New Hampshire (5.7 percent)—not statistically different from the rate for Minnesota—was lower than those for the other 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Based on 2-year moving averages (2002–2003 and 2003–2004), Figure 9 shows that the poverty rate declined for three states and increased for seven states. The poverty rate decreased in Arkansas, Hawaii, and Oklahoma. Four of the states that experienced increases were in the Midwest (Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin), two were in the South (Kentucky and Maryland), and one was in the Northeast (Pennsylvania

Health Insurance Coverage
Comparing states using 3-year-average uninsured rates for 2002–2004 shows that Texas (25.1 percent) had the highest proportion of uninsured, while Minnesota (8.5 percent) had the lowest (Table 11). Comparisons of 2-year moving averages (2002–2003 and 2003–2004) show that the proportion of people without coverage fell in three states and rose in eight states (Figure 10).

The uninsured rate decreased for Idaho, New York, and Wyoming. Five of the states that experienced increases were in the South (Delaware, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee), one was in the West (Montana), and two were in the Northeast (Massachusetts and New Hampshire).
 


Government versus business social actions
Many people who think that government is the answer to our problems do not bother to check out the evidence. But it can be eye-opening to compare how private businesses responded to hurricane Katrina and how local, state and national governments responded. Well before Katrina reached New Orleans, when it was still just a tropical depression off the coast of Florida, Wal-Mart was rushing electric generators, bottled water, and other emergency supplies to its distribution centers along the Gulf coast. Nor was Wal-Mart unique. Federal Express rushed 100 tons of supplies into the stricken area after Katrina hit. State Farm Insurance sent in a couple of thousand special agents to expedite disaster claims. Other businesses scrambled to get their goods or services into the area. Meanwhile, laws prevent the federal government from coming in without the permission or a request from state or local authorities. Unfortunately, the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana are of a different party than President Bush, which may have something to do with their initial reluctance to have him come in and get political credit.

Thomas Sowell, "FEMA versus Wal-Mart," Jewish World Review, September 14, 2005 --- http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell091405.asp 
 

What would Milton Friedman say about Wal-Mart's monumental efforts to aid Katrina victims?
Jensen Comment:  Nobel Prize Economist Milton Friedman years ago advised against benevolence of corporations and goals of being social responsible beyond strict adherence to the laws of the land.  He argued that social accountability beyond adherence to law was not mission of private enterprise and not generally in the best interest of investors.  That of course in no way blocks corporate employees from making personal sacrifices as long as they do not use significant amounts of corporate resources in the process. 

Although I'm a strong believer in the brilliance of Milton Friedman, I must admit that this is one area where I disagree with him.  Businesses control such a vast amount of the wealth and resources of the nation that I think it is imperative for them to have societal goals beyond just that of making profits.  And I think corporate responsibility is often just plain good business in the best long-term interests of the companies and industries.  But there are dangers in becoming overly political or in failing to recognize that social choices by corporations are not social choices as elected representatives of competing constituencies.  This is remains a paradox in capitalist economies.

Here are the basics of Friedman's argument:
"Corporate Social Responsibility A Dialogue," by T. Franklin Harris, Jr. --- http://snipurl.com/Adialog

The Profit Motive Theory
Plato: Milton Friedman accepts your argument concerning the fraudulence of "corporate accountability." Therefore, he believes businesses should be allowed to function freely in an unregulated environment. This does not, however, mean that businesses have no responsibilities.

Aristotle: Yes, but Friedman acknowledges the validity of only one responsibility: to make a profit within the bounds of the "rules of the game." But what are those rules?

Plato: To operate within the rules of the game means to "engage in open and free competition without deception or fraud." (Friedman 1990) But Friedman's argument goes further than simply to require that corporations seek to earn a profit. The profit motive theory expressly forbids corporate involvement in social activity even if it is done freely, without government coercion.

Aristotle: Why is that?

Plato: The basis for this claim rests on the necessity to play by the rules of the game, which means honoring contracts. The managers and executives of corporations are the employees of the business's shareholders. As such, they have a contractual and thus, moral-responsibility to their employers: "That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom." (Friedman 1990)

Thus, it is the moral duty of corporate executives to carry out the wishes of the shareholders, who, in the main, invest in order to make a profit. Managers cannot morally engage in any activity that reduces the corporation's profitability.

Continued in article



New college student site for conservative thinking
The Center of the American Experiment, a conservative group in Minnesota, on Tuesday launched a new Web site, IntellectualTakeout.com, for college students. Organizers said that they hoped to provide information and ideas in the battle of ideas on campus.
Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/14/qt

From the Center of the American Experiment --- http://www.amexp.org/Publications/Archives/PressReleases/pressrelease091305.html

 

 

St. Paul - Center of the American Experiment today launched the groundbreaking IntellectualTakeout.com website, which will bring intellectual diversity to Minnesota college campuses by exposing students to conservative free-market ideas that are not always readily available in the classroom.

"IntellectualTakeout.com is about the free exchange of ideas and giving college students the tools they need to decide for themselves where they stand on the issues," said Center of the American Experiment CEO Annette Meeks. "Our goal is not to indoctrinate students but to instead spur thoughtful debate and discussion of ideas on campus."

IntellectualTakeout.com, which is a project of American Experiment's FACT program, provides students with quick access to a menu of conservative ideas and perspectives on a number of topics, including Cultural Studies, Economics, Education, Environmental Studies, Foundations in Liberty, History, Political Science, and Hot Topics. The information on IntellectualTakeout.com, which has been compiled by American Experiment policy experts and university professors, comes from a number of distinguished and credible sources.

The "Ideas to Go" section of the website provides quick one-page issue summaries that students can take to class or use as a quick reference for other school work. The summaries provide students with both liberal and conservative perspectives on a number of issues. The "Ask the Professor" feature on the website allows students to submit questions directly to policy experts on a wide variety of issues and topics. The website, which is available at no cost, also connects students with other like-minded students and alumni, and assists them in job searches.

Meeks highlighted the need for IntellectualTakeout.com by citing a recent study, funded by the Randolph Foundation, which found that a startling 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges identify themselves as being liberal. In sharp contrast, only 15 percent identified themselves as being conservative. She also cited incidents at Minnesota college campuses, such as St. Olaf College's decision this year to require incoming students to read a one-sided essay on the environment.

"Evidence clearly shows that the liberal ideological perspective dominates the ivory towers on our campuses," said Meeks. "Not only are students shortchanged, but the intellectual health of colleges and universities suffers when only one ideological point of view dominates campus discourse and stifles dissent."

American Experiment will be promoting IntellectualTakeout.com during a number of visits to Minnesota college campuses this fall. Those visits will be part of a larger media and promotional campaign to make Minnesota college students aware of the website.

 


Who were the least popular presidents of the U.S. in modern times?
Clues:  One of them won a Nobel Peace Prize and another was a Bush who does not have "W" as a middle initial.  The other dubious "winner" resigned the presidency in order to get a legal pardon from his replacement.
Over all, 41 percent of respondents approved of Mr. Bush's performance in office, while 53 percent disapproved. Those figures are in line with other national polls conducted in the last week, roughly equal to the worst ratings Mr. Bush has ever received, comparable to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton's worst ratings, but well above the worst ever posted by the president's father, Jimmy Carter and Richard M. Nixon.Support for Bush Continues to Drop, Poll Shows ""(Bogus! Big time oversample of Dems) NY Times," Free Republic, September 15, 2005 ---  http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1484963/posts

Also see http://www.opinionjournal.com/pl/?id=110007244


Sometimes late but rarely last
"Bush can recoup from hurricane, but can Dems?" Jewish World Review, September 14, 2005 --- http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/kondracke1.asp 

President Bush has an opportunity to recover from his post-Hurricane Katrina political doldrums, but Democrats do themselves no good by trying to take political advantage of a national tragedy.

There's no question that Bush's initial response to Katrina was late and uninspiring. Or that his administration's emergency management showed deep and troubling flaws, especially in view of a continuing terrorist threat.

One particular worry that's gone unmentioned so far is: If Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has functionally had to assume the role of director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who's minding the store on terrorism?

Already wounded by high casualty rates in Iraq and exploding gasoline prices, Katrina has sent Bush's approval ratings down to 40 percent in the latest Pew poll and 42 percent in a CBS/New York Times poll.

The record suggests, however, that Bush is often slow on the uptake in crises and then manages to recoup. He could do it again.

Meanwhile, Democrats have had practically nothing constructive to say and are losing credibility by placing blame solely on the federal government.

Bush did a miserable job of attending to the terrorist threat prior to Sept. 11, 2001. His immediate performance that day was weak. But he came roaring back to rally the country, and he boosted his fortunes in the process.

The immediate Bush response to the Indian Ocean tsunami also was tepid. But then all-out U.S.-led relief efforts became possibly one of the most important steps yet taken in the contest with Islamic extremists.

Continued in the article

Jensen Comment:  I think Bush eventually emerges as a "winner" in all but national opinion about Iraq because he's too chicken to turn down money requests for almost any cause.  He never vetoes appropriations requested by Congress.  This irresponsibility can make you popular while you're in office but turns you into a huge loser among future generations who have to pay for the mounting national debt (not the biggest problem) and entitlements (the biggest problem) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm


"America's Race-Obsessing," by George Will, The Washington Post (as reprinted in The Wall Street Journal), September 14, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112664747160439651,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

America's always fast-flowing river of race-obsessing has overflowed its banks, and last Sunday Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois' freshman Democrat, applied to the expression of old banalities a fluency that would be beguiling were it without content. Unfortunately, it included an amazing criticism of the government's "historic indifference" and its "passive indifference" that "is as bad as active malice." The senator, 44, is just 30 months older than the "war on poverty" that Lyndon B. Johnson declared in January 1964. Since then the indifference that is as bad as active malice has been expressed in more than $6.6 trillion of antipoverty spending, strictly defined.

The senator is called a "new kind of Democrat," which often means one with new ways of ignoring evidence discordant with old liberal orthodoxies about using cash to cope with cultural collapse. He might, however, care to note three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal.

Continued in article


Racism is the forever obsessing the U.S.  The number one problem is not skin color per se as much as it is fear that segregates poor and colored in housing and schools. 
"Color Of Crime, Sound Of (Big Media) Silence" by Jared Taylor --- http://vdare.com/taylor/050913_crime.htm

[Recently by Jared Taylor: Further Down The Road (Paved With Good Intentions)]

Today, September 14, the New Century Foundation releases The Color of Crime, our relentlessly factual study of race, crime, and the criminal justice system.

For anyone who ever wondered just how much more likely blacks or Hispanics are than whites to commit various crimes, the answers are here. 

It takes hard work to pry the facts out of the reluctant grip of federal crime databases. But the results are eye-opening:

  • Blacks are just 13 percent of the population but they commit more than half the muggings and murders in the country. Hispanics commit violent crimes at about three times the white rate.
 
  • The proportion of blacks and Hispanics in an area is the single best indicator of how dangerous it is. The racial mix is a much better predictor of crime rates than poverty, unemployment, and dropout rates combined


 

  • Although Jesse Jackson and Bill Cosby wring their hands over black-on-black mayhem, blacks actually commit more violent crime against whites than blacks. A black is about 39 times more likely to do violence to a white than the other way around, and no less than 130 times more likely to rob a white.

 
  • And yes, everyone's suspicions about rape are correct: Every year there are about 15,000 black-on-white rapes but fewer than 900 white-on-black rapes. There are more than 3,000 gang rapes of whites by blacks—but white-on-black gang rapes are so rare they do not even show up in the statistics.

There is plenty more—but just as interesting will be how the Mainstream Media will treat these facts.

Back in 1999, we released an earlier, less detailed version of this report. [PDF] Even before publication, the Associated Press, Time, CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, Knight-Ridder, and the Washington Times wanted copies. A dozen other media organizations, including the Washington Post, attended the press conference with which we launched the report. At the same time, we arranged to have copies delivered to more than 450 news organizations with offices in the Washington, DC area.

The result: complete silence—with one exception. The Washington Times ran a substantial story on the report, in which it interviewed several prominent criminologists who confirmed the accuracy of our numbers but said they were too inflammatory to be discussed publicly. [VDARE.COM note: One other exception: Dr. Walter Williams, in his Creator's Syndicate column.]

Maybe no other editors thought people are interested in race and crime.

Or maybe they were afraid people are too interested.

Some years back, a group called Violence Free Duluth in Duluth, Minnesota, studied a year's worth of the city's gun crimes. They looked into type of gun used, whether liquor or drugs were involved, the relationship between shooter and victim; age, race, and sex of criminal, etc.

But when they released their report they left one thing out: race of perp.  

Frank Jewell, head of the organization, explained that "we didn't include it because it might be misinterpreted."

Duluth's deputy police chief Robert Grytdahl added that race might distract whites from the real problem: "It's a comfortable place for white people to park the [gun crime] problem. It would be a huge distraction, and we wanted to focus on firearms." [Duluth Gun, Crime Study Withholds Race Data, [Pay Archive] By Larry Oakes, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 30, 1999.]

Mr. Jewell and Mr. Grytdahl are saying, almost in so many words, that the people of Duluth can't be trusted with the truth.

Duluth is about 90 percent white. What if it turned out most of the gun crime was committed by the other 10 percent?

Someone might think Duluth has, not a gun problem, but a minority problem.

When an organization deliberately suppresses its findings like this, it is not doing research: it is putting out propaganda.

It is impossible to know whether the national media suppressed the findings in our earlier report or just didn't think they were newsworthy. But if they thought no one was interested in race and crime they were wrong. Radio talk show hosts greeted the report with shouts of joy.

Over the years, I have spoken on hundreds of radio programs. But no other subject has ever caught the attention of hosts and listeners the way this one did.

Over and over, I was asked to stay on the program longer than scheduled because listeners could not get enough. Producers called up a week later and had me back again because listeners demanded it. Some producers even called because they had heard me on a rival station and wanted a piece of the ratings bonanza.

Most whites lose the power of speech when the subject is race, but they can tuck right into a purely factual discussion of crime rates. Everybody—and I mean everybody—knows blacks commit crime way out of proportion to their numbers. People want to know just how way out the proportions are. 

Needless to say, some listeners didn't want to hear that blacks are in jail for robbery at 15 times the white rate. A surprising number of black callers claimed our "racist" white government cooks the statistics. Most white callers said one of two things: either that I was "racist" or that I was brave. (Somehow, no one ever thought I was a brave racist.)

It is a sorry day in America when you are either brave or racist if you dig up and publicize crime data the Department of Justice has been collecting for decades.

The main point of the "racism" accusation was that, even if the numbers were true, publicizing them only encourages other "racists" and feeds stereotypes. This is the Frank Jewell argument: White people can't be trusted with the facts.

Of course, the Internet makes it hard to keep facts under the rug. People know the big media are full of pablum; that's why they come to sites like VDARE.COM and my own American Renaissance.

In fact, more and more people are laughing outright at mainstream prudery. When I talked about crime on the radio, talk-show hosts were exultant: "You didn't read about this in the Baltimore Sun did you? That's right, folks, this is where you get the real news."

This time around, it would be pleasant if AP or the LA Times wrote about The Color of Crime.

But we're not counting on it.

The internet and talk radio will get the word out—and big media will sink just a little further in the minds of people who are tired of being told they can't be trusted with the truth.

Jared Taylor (email him) is editor of American Renaissance and the author of Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America. (For Peter Brimelow’s review, click here.) He is sorry his organization is too poor to give away free copies of The Color of Crime, and urges you to buy it here—$8.95 each, ten copies for $60.

Jensen Comment:
I might note that I found the above link yesterday, somewhat surprisingly, at the NPR site.  Perhaps the "media" is "silent" about racial crime statistics because of worry that obsessing on these crime statistics will only further divide the white and colored sides of our streets.  Our long-standing traditional money-throwing solutions of project housing, school subsidies, tax breaks and subsidies for factory relocation, busing, prison rehabilitation, and police force size and brutality are pretty much failures.  Before Katrina, New Orleans was one of our worst crime-infested cities, but the same problems can be found in Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Newark, Camden, Los Angeles, and literally every other city in the U.S.  Segregation problems have been with us for centuries, but in modern times they've been greatly exacerbated with opportunities to pursue the American Dream by dealing in drugs.  There are no simple solutions to our race-obsessing problems. 

One experiment that offers some hope is the legalizing of narcotics coupled with severe sanctions for letting drugs get into the hands of children.  By severe sanctions I mean a minimum of thirty years in prison without parole so that there is a high incentive to protect children from addiction.  And the sanctions must apply equally to whites.  Reducing the illegal drug trade, however, is only one small solution to a much larger poverty problem.  For the bigger and better solutions I defer to our sociology scholars who study racism and crime in depth.  Most drug addicts are lousy parents.  I think ethical birth control and abortion incentives should be greatly expanded for addicts.

And if we look to Europe for solutions to crime and poverty, we find them lacking.  Europe has fewer blacks and a much higher proportion of  poor in Middle Eastern  ghettos.  Middle Eastern males now comprise over half of the inmates in French prisons.  Their crimes are generally for things like rape, robbery, and murder rather than crimes of religious terror --- http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2mail/mail319.html  
Also see http://cheznadezhda.blogharbor.com/blog/RuleofLaw/CriminalJustice/_archives/2004/12/20/210579.html


The Manhattan Solution:  Some Louisiana leaders want to leave refugees in Texas
Some parish leaders in the area have concerns about FEMA's plans to temporarily house evacuees in trailers and mobile homes, and leaders in Livingston Parish voted not to allow them there. Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer said his parish is already overcrowded and lacks the infrastructure to handle the additional influx. Some residents say they feel bad for the evacuees, but they agree with Grimmer's position.
Ellen Tandy, "Livingston votes no to FEMA housing," The Advocate, September 15, 2005 --- http://www.2theadvocate.com/stories/091405/new_livingstonfema001.shtml
Jensen Comment:  Some Louisiana politicians are hoping to use Katrina's devastation as an opportunity to invoke what might be called the Manhattan Solution to poverty and crime in New Orleans.  The Manhattan Solution entails making real estate too high priced for the poor.  It worked to some extent on the Island of Manhattan, but the outcome was to relocate more vicious street crime and poverty to Brooklyn, Newark, and other surrounding NYC areas.

And I admit that racism and street crime in Manhattan have not been solved with real estate pricing.  Rent is too low in Harlem to drive all the poor out of Manhattan, and criminals still commute into Manhattan to commit muggings and to sell narcotics to Wall Street's suits and ties.  The Manhattan Solution has taken place in other cities.  San Francisco real estate prices drove the poor to nearby Oakland.  But the streets of San Francisco have hardly become crime free.

 I think some Louisiana officials are hoping to relocate their hundreds of thousands of poor refugees out of Louisiana entirely.  If the Federal Government does not insist on construction of low income housing, the newly constructed homes and condos in New Orleans will be quite unaffordable.


No credibility in pork barrels

"Katrina Puts Spotlight on Mr. Cochran:  While Instrumental in Landing Billions for Recovery, Tests Lie Ahead for Mississippi Senator," The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2005; Page A4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112666111875039997,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Bigger names in Mississippi politics have long obscured Thad Cochran's steady rise in Congress. But in Hurricane Katrina's wake, no lawmaker is more important to the Gulf Coast, or a more calming force amid the chaos engendered by the storm.

As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mr. Cochran has been instrumental in securing $62 billion for the disaster recovery. A greater test will come in the months ahead as questions mount about paying for and managing the federal reconstruction effort.

"An enormous amount of money is going to be made available to rebuild," says Mr. Cochran, a veteran of more than three decades on Capitol Hill. "It's a challenge, but an opportunity for improvements that could have lasting consequences."

Mr. Cochran must protect the credibility of the process by controlling his committee's appetite -- and his own -- for pork-barrel spending. Katrina's costs will complicate his task of completing the regular spending bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The Senate has borrowed heavily from defense funds to fill gaps in the president's domestic budget, and as chairman, Mr. Cochran is vulnerable to conservative criticism for being a big spender.

Continued in article


Smoke Breaks Boost Memory
Cigarette smokers have known for centuries that lighting up can help them concentrate. Now pharmaceutical companies are trying to create cleaner, safer ways to improve upon that effect . . . Earlier this summer, biopharmaceutical company Targacept reported that a compound called ispronicline acted like nicotine to increase memory and concentration in elderly test subjects. Targacept next plans to test the drug on people with Alzheimer's disease.
Brandon Keim, "Smoke Breaks Boost Memory," Wired News, September 9, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,68712,00.html 


Comparison Shopping --- http://www.bizrate.com/


Thin and bald:  Why Dieters' Hairlines Sometimes Recede
Hair loss can be triggered by a variety of factors including pregnancy, stress, surgery and age-related hormonal changes, to name a few. But few people realize that weight loss can also cause hair to shed, likely due to a nutritional deficiency. Although iron deficiency is often associated with diet-related hair loss, a range of nutrient deficiencies can result in thinning hair, dermatologists say. Changes in levels of zinc, magnesium, protein, essential fatty acids and vitamins D, B and A can all trigger episodes of shedding hair. The problem affects both men and women, but women are more likely to notice it and seek treatment, say doctors.
Tara Parker-Pope, "Why Dieters' Hairlines Sometimes Recede Along With Their Waistlines," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2005; Page D1 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112656550533838620,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

But for those who want to keep their heavy hair, we have new "chic" fashions
The plus-size market is starting to incorporate the latest fashion trends -- including gaucho pants, camisoles and form-fitting jackets -- in its collections as quickly as the rest of the apparel industry.
Ellen Byron, "For Plus-Size Women, More Chic Choices," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2005; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112656531750338613,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
 


Habitat for Humanity --- http://www.habitat.org 


Question
Historically, what is the "pulp" meaning of pulp fiction and how does it different from "slick" fiction?
Clue:  It has nothing to do with the content of the fiction itself, at least not directly.

Answer
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulp_fiction


India's new WPA program:  A pińata of graft for bureaucrats
The REGB, recently passed in parliament with unanimous support across political parties, is supposed to provide 100 days of work in a year to every rural household across the country that wants it. This is expected to cost around $9.1 billion, which amounts to 1.3% of GDP. And by some estimates, costs may reach four times that figure. The bill is in line with the rhetoric of the Congress-led coalition government, which came into power last year disdaining the liberalization policies of the preceding BJP government, and promising to introduce "reforms with a human face." . . . Whatever money does make it through all the confused bureaucracy could still be siphoned away at the end of the line, where local distribution is meant to take place. The recently passed Right to Information Act, a welcome move that is supposed to increase transparency by forcing the government to make its paperwork available to anyone who wants to see it, can only be of limited help. Most of the country does not even know about it, or would not dare to use it against an oppressive local government.
Amit Varma, "Good Intentions, Bad Ideas," The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112672807076840768,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


"Podcasting Takes Off," by Kevin Bullis, MIT's Technology Review,  October 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/10/issue/datamine.asp?trk=nl

Podcasts--those amateur or professional audio or video programs delivered automatically to a subscriber's computer or MP3 player--let consumers listen to their favorite shows whenever and wherever they want. But though the technology for podcast subscriptions has been around for several years, the mainstream has only recently caught on.

An explosion in podcasts' popularity in the first half of this year, culminating in the launch of a podcast directory at Apple's iTunes online music service, has providers scrambling to keep up with server demands and businesses looking for ways to turn a profit.

Several factors may have sparked podcasting's new popularity: Broadband access and new applications and directories make acquiring podcasts painless, for example, and other programs make creating them a snap. Phenomenal sales of iPods and other portable digital music players, which let people take the show on the road, also likely have helped.


Business School Ranking Controversies

Business Week's Rankings of Business Schools
'03 Update | '02 Data | '01 Update | '00 Data | '99 Update | '98 Data | '96 Data

 

U.S. Top 30
1 Northwestern
2 Chicago
3 Pennsylvania
4 Stanford
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Cornell
8 Columbia
9 MIT
10 Dartmouth
 
11 Duke
12 Virginia
13 NYU
14 UCLA
15 Carnegie Mellon
16 UNC Chapel-Hill
17 UC Berkeley
18 Indiana
19 Texas - Austin
20 Emory
 
21 Purdue
22 Yale
23 Washington U.
24 Notre Dame
25 Georgetown
26 Babson
27 Southern California
28 Maryland
29 Rochester
30 Vanderbilt


Non-U.S. Top 10
1 Queens
2 IMD
3 INSEAD
4 ESADE
  
5 London Business School
6 Western Ontario
7 IESE
  
8 HEC - Paris
9 Toronto
10 HEC - Montreal


U.S. Second Tier
•  Arizona State
•  Boston College
•  Boston University
•  Brigham Young
•  UC Irvine
•  Case Western
•  Georgia
  
•  Georgia Tech
•  Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
•  Iowa
•  Michigan State
•  Minnesota
•  Ohio State
•  Penn State
  
•  Rice
•  Southern Methodist
•  Thunderbird
•  Wake Forest
•  Washington
•  Wisconsin

Jensen Comment
These differ somewhat from how business school deans rank business schools in the  rankings --- http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/mba/brief/mbarank_brief.php

01. Harvard University (MA) 
02. Stanford University (CA)
03.  University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 
04. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
      Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
06. Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)
      University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
08. University of Chicago
09. Columbia University (NY)
10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)

Business Week's Executive MBA Rankings and Profiles ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/03/emba_rank.htm?campaign_id=nws_mbaxp_oct10&link_position=link9

 

The entire ranking system is now considered dysfunctional to program integrity and is being studied as a huge academic problem by the AACSB (See below)

MBA (Casino?) Games:  The house plays the odds and hopes to come out ahead!
Resorting to contests and prizes shows just how tough times are for full-time M.B.A. programs. The Graduate Management Admission Council reports that 72% of full-time M.B.A. programs experienced an application decline this year as more people opted to keep their jobs and seek a part-time, executive or online M.B.A. degree instead . . . Simon's business-strategy contest resulted from a challenge put to students on the school's advisory council to concoct ways to improve the M.B.A. program. As an incentive, alumni kicked in $10,000, half for the students with the best proposal and half to implement their idea. Several student projects focused on the application slump, which clearly is the most pressing issue at Simon. Applications were down 23% this year, following a 24% drop in 2004. This fall, the incoming class of about 110 students compares with 150 last year and 185 in 2003. "These are the toughest years in management education I have ever seen," says Dr. Zupan.
"MBA Program Hopes Online Game Will Lure Recruits with Prizes," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2005; Page B12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112657077730738778,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace


Since curriculum revisions are not working well to reverse the slide of MBA applications, some universities not happy with their US News, Forbes, WSJ, and Business Week rankings may turn to gaming with sizeable rewards

Can an online game offering thousands of dollars in prizes reverse the slide in master of business administration applications? The University of Rochester certainly hopes so. Starting Sept. 26, potential M.B.A. applicants to Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration will begin playing a business-simulation game that promises a full scholarship of more than $70,000 to the winner, plus smaller scholarships for the runners-up. The goal is to attract top-notch applicants who may never have heard of the Simon School but find the game, and the scholarship money, enticing. "We hope to get a little viral marketing going so that people spread the word that Simon is an innovative place worth taking a look at," says Dean Mark Zupan.
"MBA Program Hopes Online Game Will Lure Recruits with Prizes," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2005; Page B12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112657077730738778,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

The following tidbits were in my August 29 edition of Tidbits:

From Jim Mahar's blog on August 26, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

 

What's Really Wrong With U.S. Business Schools?
by Harry DeAngelo, Linda DeAngelo, Jerold Zimmerman:

Wow, it sounds bad. I (Jim Mahar) am very glad I chose a small university (St. Bonaventure). However, the choice leads me to not really comment on the paper since being at a small university removes me from many (but not all) of the problems cited in the paper. Moreover, I do not feel I can add any value to what the authors say.

Rather I will only give you the abstract and link.

Abstract:
"U.S. business schools are locked in a dysfunctional competition for media rankings that diverts resources from long-term knowledge creation, which earned them global pre-eminence, into short-term strategies aimed at improving their rankings. MBA curricula are distorted by 'quick fix, look good' packaging changes designed to influence rankings criteria, at the expense of giving students a rigorous, conceptual framework that will serve them well over their entire careers. Research, undergraduate education, and Ph.D. programs suffer as faculty time is diverted to almost continuous MBA curriculum changes, strategic planning exercises, and public relations efforts. Unless they wake up to the dangers of dysfunctional rankings competition, U.S. business schools are destined to lose their dominant global position and become a classic case study of how myopic decision-making begets institutional mediocrity."
Cite:
DeAngelo, Harry, DeAngelo, Linda and Zimmerman, Jerold L., "What's Really Wrong With U.S. Business Schools?" (July 2005). http://ssrn.com/abstract=766404

Jensen Comment:
The DeAngelos and Jerry Zimmerman are leading advocates of capital market research and positivist methodology.  Harry and Linda are from the University of Southern California and Jerry is from the University of Rochester.  Their business schools rank 23 and 26 respectively in the latest US News rankings.  Their WSJ rankings are 23 and 20.

I think the authors overstate the problem with media rankings and curricula.  I don’t think curriculum choices or PR enter into the rankings in a big way.  Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton will almost always come out on top no matter what the curriculum or PR budget.  What counts heavily is elitism tradition and alumni networking (helps Harvard the most), concentration of researchers/names (helps Stanford the most), and insider tracks to Wall Street (helps Wharton the most).  These, in turn, affect the number of MBA applicants with GMAT scores hovering around 700 or higher.  The GMAT scores, in turn, impact most heavily upon media rankings.  The raters are looking for where the top students in the world are scrambling to be admitted.  Can the majority of applicants really tell us the difference between the business school curriculum at USC versus Stanford versus Rochester?  I doubt it!

Media rankings differ somewhat due to differences in the groups doing the rankings.  The US News rankings are done by AACSB deans who tend to favor schools with leading researchers.  The WSJ rankings are done by corporate recruiters who are impressed by the credentials of the graduating students and their interviewing skills (which might indirectly be affected by a curriculum that is more profession oriented and less geeky).

The major "media rankings" are given in the following sources as reported in Tidbits on August 19:
Business school rankings and profiles from Business Week Magazine ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/04/?campaign_id=nws_mbaxp_aug16&link_position=link6

The Wall Street Journal rankings of business schools --- http://online.wsj.com/page/0,,2_1103,00.html

US News graduate business school rankings --- http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/rankindex_brief.php

August 27, 2005 reply from Dennis Beresford (University of Georgia)

Bob,

Thanks for this link. The DeAngelo, DeAngelo, and Zimmerman paper is quite interesting. Because football season doesn't start until next week, I had a little time to kill this afternoon and used it to read this paper.

My own rather short academic experience causes me to agree with the paper's assertion that MBA program rankings tend to drive much of what happens at a business school. We recently proudly reported that we were number 30 in the US News rankings (
without pointing out that there was a 30 way tie for that spot). And we also trumpeted the fact that the Forbes rankings just out reported that our MBA graduates earned $100,000 in starting pay vs. $40,000 when they entered the program. (I think the ghosts of Andersen must have developed those numbers.)

We went through a curriculum revision a couple of years ago and we now emphasize "leadership." (I suspect this puts us in the company of only about 90% of MBA programs that do the same.) Most of our classes are now taught in half semesters. Perhaps there is good justification for this but it seems to me to encourage a more superficial approach. And managerial accounting is no longer a required part of the curriculum in spite of our pointing out that most of the elite schools still require this important subject.

While I agree with the premise that MBA programs are focusing too much on rankings and short term thinking, I believe the paper's arguments on how to "cure the problem" aren't well supported. In particular, while I strongly agree with the idea that MBA programs should primarily help students develop critical thinking and analytic skills, I think the authors are too critical of the practical aspects of business education as described by Bennis and O'Toole in their earlier Harvard Business article. The authors of this paper seem to feel that more emphasis on research published in scholarly journals will bring more of a long-term focus to MBA education and will address the concerns about rankings, etc. I think a better response would be to balance the practical and theoretical - although I know that is a very hard thing to do.

As a final note, would you agree that the capital asset pricing model and efficient markets research "inspired" indexed mutual funds?
Asserting such a causal connection seems like a pretty big stretch to me.

Denny Beresford

August 29, 2005 response from Paul Williams at North Carolina State University

And we all know what rigorous conceptual framework these folks have in mind. This paper is the knee-jerk response to the Bennis/ O'Toole paper. This is an argument that has been going on since business schools were started. It's the on-going argument over case method vs modeling as the proper way to teach business.

Odd that such believers in market solutions should question what is obviously working -- would universities play this game if it didn't work? Or is it only universities that are irrational? (I'll bet Rochester and Southern Cal are playing the game, too. What kind of research do you suppose Bill Simon expects for his millions?) Passions run so high and retribution is swift. Note what happen to Bob Kaplan's service on the JAR board when he suggested (after he got some religion at Harvard) that case studies might be a worthwhile thing for us to consider.

Denny, et al:
You have made some very good points about blending. A very long time ago, Aristotle, in the Nichomachean Ethics, described three types of knowledge: techne, episteme, and phronesis. Techne = technical knowledge (how to bake a pie). Episteme = scientific knowledge. Phronesis (the highest form) = wisdom, i.e., the knowledge of goodness; how to be a good citizen. Business is a practice and the Harvard approach is one that acknowledges that "wisdom can't be told" (the title of the classic 1950s essay on the value of the case approach). Modelers miss a key element of management. It is not a constrained optimization problem, but a process of intervention. Experience matters


The ratings game is played because it pays off. Duke didn't have a graduate program in business until 1970 compared to UNC's, which predated Duke's by about 25 years. When Tom Keller became dean he had a stroke of genius and hired a public relations firm to promote the MBA. Duke always marketed itself from the day it was founded as the "Harvard of the South" and was able to attract wealthy Northeasterners not able to get into Ivy league schools. Now Duke is able to attract highly talented students, high priced faculty and big donations (note that Wendy's founder Dave Thomas didn't raise millions for Eastern State U.).


Marketing works -- look how many pick-up trucks with 1975 technology under the hood got sold as Sport Utility Vehicles (Pick- up Trucks with Walls doesn't have the same ring). Half the battle at becoming the best is telling people you are, a fact every con man knows. People don't give money to Harvard because it needs it -- they give to Harvard to say they gave to Harvard. Do you think any of the terminally vain people who give money to get their names chiseled on the buildings do so because they have read all of the brillians academic papers people inside the building have produced? No, they give it because someone has told them that the people inside the building are writing brilliant academic papers.


It really becomes a post-modern moment when the people writing the papers truly believe they are brilliant.
 

You can read about the Bennis and O'Toole paper at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession

AACSB to fight MBA program rankings in the media

A report on the controversial paper by Harry DeAngelo,  Linda DeAngelo, and Jerry Zimmerman now appears in an AACSB report at   http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/enewsline/Vol-4/Issue-8/lead-story.asp

The study precedes an upcoming AACSB International report that calls for the media to change the way it assigns rankings to business degree granting institutions. The AACSB document, to be released in September, calls the ranking methods used by BusinessWeek, Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report, and other media outlets flawed because of inconsistent and unverified data, which confuses rather than helps the consumer.

The AECM threads on these business school controversies are available (scroll down) at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#083105

 



"MBA Blogs," Business Week, September 12, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/MBAblog 

You're invited you to join BW Online's new MBA Blog feature as a guest blogger

STORY TOOLS Printer-Friendly Version E-Mail This Story

Our upcoming MBA Blog feature is an online community where you can interact and share your pursuits of an MBA, job search, life as a grad student, and much more. Whether you want to create your own web log online, exchange advice, or launch a professional network - come join our MBA Blog --- http://mbablogs.businessweek.com/


Bob Jensen's threads on Weblogs and blogs are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Weblog


As James Cagney would've said:  "Those dirty rats!"
Up to 40,000 people are facing hunger in northern Nicaragua because rats have devoured their crops, officials say. The plague has affected Miskito Indian communities which live by the Rio Coco river on the country's Caribbean coast. Last week, the area - which is also regularly hit by flooding - was declared a disaster area, but the rats have yet to be exterminated. A UN team has visited the area to see how much aid is needed. Nicaragua is one of the world's poorest countries. The UN mission is due to release its findings in the capital, Managua, on Friday...
"Rat plague leads to hunger fears ," BBC News, September 8, 2005 --- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4227074.stm


Database of Historical Erotica (actually Porn)
The pictures illustrate the evolution of photography and of erotica over more than a hundred years. Some of the images pre-date the Civil War; the site also features drawings first published hundreds of years before that. Others hail from more recent decades, up to 1979.
Regina Lynn, "This Old Porn Is New Again ," Wired News, September 9, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,68790,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2
Jensen Comment:  Aside from search engines like Google and Yahoo, porn sites are the most popular sites on the Web.  They are also the most likely place to catch computer diseases like viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, etc.  Much of the porn is now generated by a mean criminal organization called the Russian Mafia.  These dangerous animals exploit and terrorize women of poverty from all parts of the world.  They also are trying to get porn customer credit card numbers and other personal information for purposes of robbery and extortion.  The good news is that the dangers that now lurk in porn surfing are becoming a wonderful preventative for addiction. 


Anonymity Debate
InformationWeek Daily Newsletter, September 12, 2005

Last week my colleague Tony Kontzer expressed concerns over a presentation he heard about the Stealth Surfer drive:

 

"... a pocket USB storage device that's commercially available, highly affordable, and undoubtedly one of the biggest pains in the rear end ever to hit cybercrime-fighting. Pre-loaded with a Mozilla Firefox browser and an assortment of clever little applications, including one called the Anonymizer that uses SSL encryption to hide all IP activity, the Stealth Surfer allows a PC to be used for browsing, E-mail, and God-knows-what-other online activities with nary a shred of evidence left behind. That's because all the caching, history, cookies, keystrokes, and data is stored on the device. Even the applications run entirely on the device, making them invisible to network administrators. (As you can see, this would also be an extremely handy device for anyone wanting to job hunt on company time.)

 

"A few cops, images of evidence walking away dancing in their heads as they listened, let out sighs and whews and sheeshes and any other low-key indicator of shock and dismay they could muster."

 

I'm sufficiently mistrustful of authority that I'm glad that gadgets like the Stealth Surfer exist.

By definition, anonymity is used to hide behavior that the user doesn't want other people to know about. In a free society, those activities are usually immoral and sometimes illegal. They can include criminal activities such as child pornography, terrorism, and drug trafficking. They also include activities that are legal but that many people would like to eliminate, such as viewing porn involving adults.

So it's easy to see why some people would view anonymity as a threat.

But even in a free society, anonymity is often used to protect beneficial activities. People go online to learn about addictions, sexual problems, diseases they fear they might have. We might prefer that they learn about these things through more open channels--we might prefer that the teenager who feels unwholesome sexual longings go to a parent, guardian, clergyman, or teacher to discuss the issues--but sometimes people are afraid. And anonymity can help a person feel less afraid, less alone, and get the courage to step forward and face a problem head-on.

So far, I've been talking about anonymity in free societies. Totalitarianism brings another layer of complication into the discussion. Anonymity is essential to dissent and planning political change in totalitarian regimes. Here in America, we take for granted the right to go on the Internet, denounce powerful people as thieves, liars, and cowards, and proceed on with our day without fear of any recrimination at all (except for nastygrams from people who like the leadership, of course). But in other countries, you can get thrown into prison for engaging in political speech the government doesn't like. In those nations, anonymity is an essential tool for political change.

Continued in article


Not Good Enough For Congressional Auditors
The FBI is managing its enterprise architecture program in accordance with many best practices, but other needed procedures have yet to be adopted, the GAO says.
"FBI Progress On Enterprise Architecture Management Not Good Enough For Congressional Auditors ," InformationWeek, September 9, 2005 --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=170701993


The U.N. needs more accountability than more money.  See  Volcker's shocking UN Report.


Johnny could only sing one note
And the note he sang was this:
Ah

Johnny One Note Lyrics sung by the The Supremes --- http://www.lyricsdepot.com/the-supremes/johnny-one-note.html
 

September 8, 2005 message from Glen Gray [glen.gray@CSUN.EDU]

Does anybody have any experience with Microsoft’s OneNote? What caught my eye was the mention in an article that you can use OneNote to record audio (e.g., during a meeting) on your computer (like a tape recorder). I was looking at the program on the Microsoft site and see that OneNote is software for organizing stuff (note, files, graphics, etc.).

 

Any thoughts for comments on OneNote? Any comments on other programs that I could use to record audio? I particularly want to record during meetings. I know that there are stand alone recorders, but it is one more thing to take to the meeting.

 

 

Glen L. Gray, PhD, CPA
Dept. of Accounting & Information Systems
College of Business & Economics
California State University, Northridge
Northridge, CA 91330-8372
818.677.3948

http://www.csun.edu/~vcact00f 

September 9, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Glen,

There is a highly favorable review (that does not go far into the audio features) at http://wordprocessing.about.com/od/choosingsoftware/a/onenoterev.htm 
I suspect Richard Campbell will weigh in on this with better suggestions.

I would think there is a problem with audio hardware much the same as I have a problem with my video camera at meetings. Unless I sit in the front row, it is difficult to pick up the speaker’s voice. If there is audience/class discussion throughout a room, it is very difficult to capture individual speakers.

The FBI probably has better audio capturing hardware than we can put on our laptops, but I would not expect OneNote software to magically allow us to get quality recordings at many meetings.

That does not mean that we should not download the free trial offer just to test out OneNote for all the many features claimed in the review above. It would seem that it will work optimally with a Tablet PC.

Bob Jensen

September 8, 2005 reply from Amy Dunbar

I don’t have experience with OneNote, but capturing audio is always a struggle for me. Camtasia is wonderful for screen capture video with audio, but to just record audio has presented more problems for me. I used to use the Microsoft Sound Recorder (under Accessories in Windows) and convert the wav file to an .rm file using Real Producer. Now that I have left the Real world (;-)), I am recording in Screenblaster and rendering the file as an MP3 file. I find it annoying, however, to have a music program, like ITunes, open it. I just want it to immediately play when the student clicks the link. If anyone has a better solution for converting wav files to a better format, I would love to hear about it. A UConn ITS person recommended CDEX

http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/ , which is open source freeware.

 

Back to what you were asking, Glen. How would you capture everyone’s voices unless they had mics? I know audio conference tools can capture everyone, but in that case, each person is speaking into a mic at his/her computer.

 

And speaking of audio conferencing, does anyone know how many people can be in a Skype audio conference? I have only experienced three at a time. I am teaching a small PhD class, and I have asked my students to download Skype ( www.skype.com ) so we can easily find each other because all of us work at home a lot (which is a good thing in these times of skyrocketing gas prices). When a California colleague’s cell phone connection was to weak to have a conversation, we switched to Skype, and it worked like a charm.

Amy at UCon

September 9, 2005 reply from Jim Richards [J.Richards@MURDOCH.EDU.AU]

Hi Amy,

My recollection with Skype is that the maximum is 5.

Cheers,
Jim Richards
Murdoch Business School
Murdoch University South Street
MURDOCH WA
Australia

September 9, 2005 reply from Jim Richards [J.Richards@MURDOCH.EDU.AU]

Hi Glen
You may find that to record using your laptop might need a good quality omni-directional microphone to pick up a sufficiently loud signal.

Some open source software that can be used to record and export mp3 files is Audacity ( http://audacity.sourceforge.net ).

We use it at my local Church to record all of our ministry. You need to also download and install LAME to be able to export to mp3.

Cheers.

Jim Richards
Murdoch Business School
Murdoch University South Street
MURDOCH WA 6150 Phone: 61-8-9360-2706 Fax: 61-8-9310-5004

September 8, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Amy,

 

But I want to add that the new version of Camtasia allows for camcorder input so that the image is no longer just confined to computer screen images. Even though digital video takes up massive amounts of space, Camtasia videos do not have to be space hogging full screens and the videos can be compressed in the final production.

The big problem with video capturing at meetings is that the video is often less interesting than the audio unless the speaker is using visual aids. Capturing video of a talking head is a total waste of space digitally speaking. I still use an analog camera and space is no problem since video tapes are cheap ways to store lots of video.

My problem of course is that my hundreds of video tapes will soon be as obsolete as my withering 8-track audio tapes. Soon we won’t be able to buy new machines that will play video tapes, so take good care of the old players in your house or office. And consider putting them to DVD in the near future.

Bob Jensen

September 12, 2005 Tidbit from Bob Jensen

HotRecorder™ --- http://www.hotrecorder.com/about.html

HotRecorder™ is a new technology that allows users to record and add sound effects (Emotisounds™) on voice communications held over the internet. It also includes voice mail for Google Talk™ and Skype™!

HotRecorder™ is a unique application that works in conjunction with Google Talk™, Skype™, AIM™, Net2Phone™, Yahoo! Messenger™ 7 and FireFly™.

The creation of HotRecorder™ responds to the growing demand of users throughout the world, for a tool that will allow them to record, play, save, send and search their voice communications, plus many other options.

Jensen Comment:  This product is on the vanguard of a new generation of software and textbooks that are either free (with pop-up advertising) or fee-based (without any advertising).  Don't you wish more things in life were like that, including cable television shows?

Also note that recording of telephone conversations without permission is legal in some states and legal in others --- http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.recordlaw.html
I assume one party consent means that a lurker cannot record a conversation without the consent of at least one party (such as a bank) to the conversation.

There are twelve states that require all party consent. They are:

 

California
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Illinois
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Montana
New Hampshire
Pennsylvania
Washington

 

There are 38 states that permit one party consent. They are:

 

Alaska
Arkansas
Colorado
District of Columbia
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

September 12, 2005 reply from Amy Dunbar

YIKES! Something new to worry about. I just downloaded the "premium" version of HotRecorder (the advertising was so annoying, I popped for the $15 very quickly). I enabled HotRecorder to work with Skype, called my brother, and recorded our conversation. Nothing happened on his end to tell him the conversation was being recorded. So now we have to be careful what we say on the phone, too, at least when we are talking on Google Talk™, Skype™, AIM™, Net2Phone™, Yahoo! Messenger™ 7 and FireFly™. It looks like you choose the application you want the recorder to work wtih. I have the choice of Skype or AIM because those are the two programs I have installed. I can switch back and forth, depending on what I am using for audio.

Has anyone use http://www.freeconferencecall.com ? The "free" is for the use of the conferencing technology. Each conference attendee pays for the land line charges to call the number. The number I was given for the next 120 days is 605-772-3001. I wonder what the charges for the long-distance call will be.

Amy Dunbar
UConn

September 12, 2005 reply from Fred Barbee

I am what is generally considered a lurker but this is a very interesting topic to me. I currently use a tablet PC and an LCD projector in class. My latest toy is a wireless adaptor for the projector that allows me to move my Tablet PC to various places around the classroom and still use the projector. I am interested in recording (using Camtasia) portions of my lecture - specifically when I work problems on the tablet pc. I would like to have a good quality wireless microphone to allow for a little more flexibility. Are any of you doing this? If so, can you give me some feedback?

Fred Barbee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Accounting
University of Alaska Anchorage
College of Business & Public Policy

afrfb@uaa.alaska.edu 


Converting Home Videos to DVDs

Q: Are there services that will take home video and burn it to a DVD that can be played anywhere? I know I can do this on my PC, but it takes too much time and I keep running into problems when I try it.

A: There are such services. One that I have tested and found to be good is called YesVideo (yesvideo.com). You bring your videos into a store that works with YesVideo -- including CVS, Walgreen, Best Buy and Target -- and they send the tapes to YesVideo, which converts them to a very nice DVD. You also can get the same service online, at Sony's ImageStation site ( www.imagestation.com ). Sony calls its service Video2DVD, but it really is just the YesVideo service. My full review of the service is at: ptech.wsj.com/archive/solution-20040128.html. Because YesVideo works through retailers, prices vary, but are usually around $25-$35 for a two-hour video. Each DVD is divided into chapters based on a YesVideo process that tries to detect scene changes in your videos. At the end, there are three 60-second music videos made from scenes on your videos. The company also will put your prints, slides and even old film onto DVD, but this costs more and is handled by fewer retailers. Details are at the YesVideo Web site.
Walter Mossberg, "Converting Home Videos to DVDs," The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2005; Page B3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112492084317722331,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

At last there will be a way to efficiently store digital video
But this is no ordinary recording process. The disc has more than 60 times the storage capacity of a standard DVD, while the drive writes about 10 times faster than a conventional DVD burner. That means the disc can store up to 128 hours of video content--almost twice enough for the full nine seasons of Seinfeld--and records it all in less than three hours.
Holographic Memory
By Gregory T. Huang , "Holographic Memory," MIT's Technology Review, September 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/09/issue/feature_memory.asp?trk=nl


Convert AVI to WMV, BMP, JPG, etc. - OSS Video Decompiler 4.0 --- http://www.tomdownload.com/multimedia_design/video/oss_video_decompiler.htm

Powerful Video Decompiler that supports decompiling video files to extract the individual image frames. Supports AVI to WMV, AVI to GIF, AVI to (PNG, JPEG, JPG, EMF, WMV, BMP, and more). Video Decompiling (Supported formats AVI to GIF, AVI to PNG (Portable Network Graphics), AVI to JPEG, AVI to TIFF, AVI to EMF, AVI to WMV). Convert multiple video files at once (Batch Conversion). Many modern features were added to the latest versions. Now you can save and load video conversion and effects settings using XML.


Presentation Pop Out Tools

September 11, message from David Beckman CPA [ddb@IOWALAW.COM]

I am making a presentation later this month to professionals that are returning to the University for continuing education. I want to focus participant's attention on particular line items on my PowerPoint slides. I will be using an add-in for PowerPoint called PopOut Presenter that does 60-minute type call-outs or tear-outs. Experts at PowerPoint can do some of what it does within PowerPoint, but this is easy, quick and only cost $15. It is available at:

http://www.popoutpresenter.com

September 11, 2002 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

Thank you for linking to a useful product that I never heard about before.

There is a helpful PowerPoint FAQ page that discusses add-ins of various types at http://www.rdpslides.com/pptfaq/
It is interesting to search at the above site using the phrase "pop out"

Bob Jensen

Links to two Bob Jensen helpers for tools are as follows:

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/newfaculty.htm#Resources


The Council was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1914 to work toward the ideal of world peace. Today it is the world's premier forum for research and education in ethics and international policy. We provide a home for those who explore the ethical dilemmas posed by issues such as deadly conflict, human rights violations, environmental protection, global economic disparities, and the politics of reconciliation
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs
---  http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/index.php


September 8, 2005 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]

EDUCATION PAPERS IN SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF FIRST MONDAY

Several papers in the latest issue of FIRST MONDAY (vol. 10, no. 9, September 5, 2005) have an education theme:

"Professors 0nline: The Internet's Impact on College Faculty," by Steve Jones and Camille Johnson-Yale, reports on findings from a nationwide survey of Internet use by U.S. college faculty.

http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_9/jones/index.html 

"Using Virtual Lectures to Educate Students on Plagiarism" by Laura A.
Guertin discusses the value of using virtual lectures, as well how to create and distribute them. Guertin provides a sample template for a virtual lecture on plagiarism.

http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_9/guertin/index.html

"Cats in the Classroom: Online Learning in Hybrid Space" by Michelle M.
Kazmer explores how teachers and students can create an online environment that compensates for the "loss of face–to–face interaction in the shared space of a physical classroom."

http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_9/kazmer/index.html
 

"Electronic Courseware in Higher Education" by Maureen C. Minielli and S. Pixy Ferris explores "electronic course management systems from a pedagogical perspective, with the goal of aiding educators to effectively utilize electronic courseware in the classroom."
http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_9/minielli/index.html

First Monday [ISSN 1396-0466] is an online, peer-reviewed journal whose aim is to publish original articles about the Internet and the global information infrastructure. It is published in cooperation with the University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. For more information, contact: First Monday, c/o Edward Valauskas, Chief Editor, PO Box 87636, Chicago IL 60680-0636 USA; email: ejv@uic.edu ; Web:
http://firstmonday.dk/ .

 


Powell takes the heat for WMD exaggerated fears
Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state who told the United Nations that Saddam Hussein was concealing weapons of mass destruction, has conceded the assertion will always be a "painful blot" on his record. During a lengthy TV chat with Barbara Walters, the queen of the serious interview, Mr Powell tried to explain how the West had made mistakes in the run-up to war. Asked whether the statement about WMD tarnished his reputation, the former general responded: "Of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now." The soldier-statesman made a dramatic and detailed presentation to the UN Security Council a month before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It relied on the extensive use of intelligence material, which later turned out to be inaccurate.
Francis Harris, "WMD a painful blot, says Powell," Sydney Morning Herald, September 11, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/09/10/1125772731299.html


The Codless Seas
More than 50,000 people have left the island (Newfoundland) since 1992.

John Gimlette as quoted by Elizabeth Royte in "'Theatre of Fish': The Codless Seas" --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/books/review/11royte.html


Terrorist novels before and after 9/11
The authors of recent terrorist novels have more or less conceded they would not have handled their material in the same way had they started work after 9/11.
Benjamin Kunkel, "Dangerous Characters," The New York Times, September 11, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/books/review/11kunkel.html


Einstein on Religion
Scientific materialists, who regard all forms of religious belief as superstition, are often puzzled and even embarrassed by Einstein's frequent remarks about God. But conventional religious believers - knowing that Einstein was a Jew - often jump to the conclusion that he was referring to the traditional Judaeo-Christian God, and invoke his authority in support of their own beliefs. I suspect that both groups have misunderstood Einstein and that we should all read more carefully what he wrote about science and religion. In 1940, for example, he submitted a paper to a conference on this subject in which he clearly stated that, in his view, there could be no "legitimate conflict between science and religion". The main source of conflict between the two, he argued, lay in the concept of "a personal God". As the physicist Max Jammer describes in his 1999 book Einstein and Religion, that remark created a furor at the time. Many people in the US assumed that by denying the existence of a personal God, Einstein was denying any kind of God. What we now call the "religious right" was then vocal in its criticisms (and probably would be today).
"Subtle are Einstein's thoughts," PhysicsWeb, September 2005 --- http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/18/9/2/1


When there's fraud in education, look first at the Board of Trustees
When David Cary Hart was appointed chief executive of Drake Business Schools in February 2004, the schools had virtually no money, they were behind on their rent, and New York State was demanding repayment of roughly $5 million in tuition grants. Mr. Hart moved quickly to save the company, long regarded as a flagship in a troubled industry. He dismissed two top executives. He had the former comptroller arrested on theft charges. He even found a way to interest banks in lending Drake money. Then, just before Memorial Day, as he entered the subway near Drake's Queens campus in Astoria, he was shot, and the police speculated that the attack might have been related to his inquiry into Drake's finances. As he lay in the hospital, Drake's trustees shut the schools and filed for bankruptcy.
Karen W. Arenson, "The Decline and Fall of Drake Business Schools: A Textbook in Crisis Nonmanagement," The New York Times, September 11, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/nyregion/11drake.html


Starting Salary Survey
Accounting firms lead all other employers in hiring new college graduates according to the summer 2005 issue of Salary Survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the Westchester County Business Journal reports. Starting salaries for new hires in accounting will average $43,370, an increase of 5.3 percent over last year.
"Starting Salaries Increase for Accounting Grads," AccountingWeb, September 7, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101269

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm#careers


September 12, message from Editor@purityplanet.com

I was wandering the web and came across your page at: http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/book99b.htm  and saw that you had bookmark links on your page. I work with a site called Purity Planet and our site offers information about air and water filters, vacuums, humidifiers and more. Clean air and water is essential to everyone. I wanted to take the time to email you and suggest it as a link for your page. I enjoyed my visit to your site and thank you for taking the time to read over my suggestion.

 

Kind Regards,
Michael Tinnes,
Purity Planet

http://www.purityplanet.com/ 

 


I think a few other people got this letter from Gerald Grinstein
PS:  I'm flying to New Hampshire free in October courtesy of my Skymiles account with Delta

AS ALWAYS, DELTA AT YOUR SERVICE

Dear Dr. Jensen,

As you may know, Delta Air Lines filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. We have taken this action as part of our ongoing efforts to make Delta a simpler, more efficient and cost-effective airline. On behalf of the tens of thousands of Delta employees worldwide who look forward to welcoming you onboard every day, I want to assure you Delta is open for business as usual:

Your travel plans are secure -- We are operating our full schedule of flights, honoring tickets and reservations as usual, and making normal refunds and exchanges. You can count on the convenience and choice you've come to expect from the more than 7,500 daily flights to 502 destinations in 88 countries that we, along with our SkyTeam(R) and codeshare partners, provide worldwide.

Your SkyMiles(R) are secure -- The award-winning SkyMiles program has not been affected, and you can continue to enjoy the program's benefits--including Delta Crown Room Clubs, double miles on qualifying purchases with the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express(R), and the opportunity to earn and redeem miles on the thousands of flights offered by SkyTeam and our vast network of global airline alliances.

Delta is honored to have been named "the Most Preferred Airline" this year by business travelers* and we thank you for voting our SkyMiles program as the Best Frequent Flyer program in a Travel Savvy magazine survey. From upgraded features on delta.com, to refurbished cabins, to new routes and international destinations, to fewer restrictions and service fees, we're transforming Delta to be even better for you.

We encourage you to send comments and suggestions via e-mail to restructure.delta@delta.com. You can also learn more about our reorganization by visiting delta.com/restructure.

Click here to email restructure.delta@delta.com: mailto:restructure.delta@delta.com

Click here to visit delta.com/restructure: http://e.delta.com/ct/click?q=e9-gd8pQxVJO9NIP8X9R4f5P1qd5XTJ

Today, as always, Delta's proud team of dedicated professionals is at your service. As the people of Delta work together to become a more competitive airline, we appreciate your loyalty and the opportunity to meet your personal and business travel needs--now and in the future.

Thank you for choosing Delta.

Sincerely,

Gerald Grinstein
Chief Executive Officer




Forwarded by Betty Carper

One Flaw in Women

By the time God made woman, He was into his sixth day of working overtime. An angel appeared and said, "Why are you spending so much time on this one?" And God answered, "Have you seen my spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic, have over 200 movable parts, all replaceable and able to run on diet coke and leftovers, have a lap that can hold four children at one time, have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart -and she will do everything with only two hands."

The angel was astounded at the requirements. "Only two hands!? No way! And that's just on the standard model? That's too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish." But I won't," God protested. "I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart.

She already heals herself when she is sick AND can work 18 hour days." The angel moved closer and touched the woman. "But you have made her so soft." "She is soft," God agreed, "but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish." "Will she be able to think?", asked the angel. God replied, "Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate."

The angel then noticed something, and reaching out, touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak in this model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this one." "That's not a leak," God corrected, "that's a tear!" "What's the tear for?" the angel asked. God said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her love, her loneliness, her grief and her pride." The angel was impressed. "You are a genius. You thought of everything! Woman is truly amazing." And she is!

Women have strengths that amaze men. They bear hardships and they carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love and joy. They smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up to injustice. They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have. They go to the doctor with a frightened friend. They love unconditionally. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding. Their hearts break when a friend dies. They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left.

They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning. They bring joy, hope and love. They have compassion and ideals. They give moral support to their family and friends. Women have vital things to say and everything to give.

HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE FLAW IN WOMEN, IT IS THAT THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH.




 

Tidbits on September 19, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (in other words hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp


If you think a gallon of gasoline or heating oil is expensive, think of how cheap it is to make a gallon of soda (a little sweetener mixed with a lot of water) or beer (mostly fermented water) relative to what it takes to get oil deep from out of the ground and put it through a very complex and possibly explosive refining process.  And you're still willing to pay more for a gallon of Coke or Miller Lite or even bottled sring water without protesting?
Bob Jensen
Think about it while, for a moment, not letting your disdain for oil company executives and Middle Easter sheiks overtake your reasoning.

Music:

 Hope Has Its Place --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/pity.htm

Let Me Be Your Hero --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/hero.htm

John Scofield's MP3 audio clips (jazz) --- http://www.johnscofield.com/music.html

 Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

Big Bands Database (many bands from around the world, but no samples) --- http://www.nfo.net/

This Is No Two-Bit Music Player --- http://www.onebitmusic.com/
If one geek's trash is another geek's treasure, start sending all those CD jewel cases you've been tossing to New York City, care of digital media artist Tristan Perich. Perich is the man behind One Bit Music, a project that uses simple electronics to turn clear, plastic CD cases into personal, lo-fi music players.
Rachel Metz, "This Is No Two-Bit Music Player," Wired News, September 15, 2005 ---
http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,68826,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3
 

Photographs

History:  100 Life Photographs That Changed the World --- http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0309/lm_intro.html

Lauri Kangas Photographs --- http://www.photon-echoes.com/ 

Kenneth Parker Photographs --- http://www.kennethparker.com/

Dayvid Lemmon's Mechanized Eye Photography --- http://www.mechanizedeye.com/humanart/

Exploring the Seasons of Japan Through Haiku & Photography --- http://www.thingsasian.com/goto_store/item_detail.1678.html

Fine Art Photography --- http://www.fda.gov/opacom/enforce.html

Photographs of the Golden Age of Jazz --- http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/wghtml/wghome.html
Also see
http://www.si.edu/ajazzh/




Trillions of your tax dollars allegedly down the drain in accounting adjustments
To the right (on the opening page of the site below) you will find a running total of the amount of "unsupported adjustments" used by the Department of Defense in FY2000 to balance its books. This total is based on the report of DoD's inspector general. The counter runs on a calendar year. It is a simple attempt to demonstrate the scale of ENRON style accounting in the US government.
"How fast does $1.1 trillion disappear in a year?" ---
http://www.whereisthemoney.org/

"Bush Unveils Plans to Rebuild Gulf Coast" ---
http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050916/NEWS/509160384/1039

Jensen Comment:
Bush is making an enormous mistake that we will one day regret! 
This is why I think New Orleans should not be rebuilt below Lake Ponchetrain:

A photograph of that huge building in Oklahoma City with its entire face blown off on April 19, 1995 will forever live in my memory.  Aside from the carnage, what impressed me most was the sheer power of cheap fertilizer chemicals in the back of a small rental truck parked some distance from the building.  This is a frightening thought when you consider the following:

  • If an 18-foot rental truck can carry so much cheap and relatively easy-access explosive power, what destruction can be packed into a 54-foot moving van?  Perhaps and enormous bomb could be placed on a ship tied up on a dock in New Orleans or a barge being pushed down river from up north where a lot of fertilizer is readily made available.  Perhaps a bomb might not be necessary at all on a Kamikaze airplane crashing straight into a levee.
     
  • A relatively low-IQ bomber can learn how to make a fertilizer bomb on the Internet --- http://www.hydroponicproducts.com/fertilizer-bomb-formula.html
     
  • Hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents were able to flee before Katrina hit because of technology that allows for early warning and tracking of hurricanes.  In Oklahoma City in 1995 there was not one second of advanced warning before a fertilizer bomb killed hundreds of innocent children and adults.
     
  • Suppose a vicious drug cartel becomes exceedingly angry because we succeeded in squeezing its revenues.  For revenge, the cartel could set off a little bomb that would put a small crack in a Lake Ponchetrain levee and afterwards try to extort millions by threatening that the next explosions at several places on the levee will be 1,000 times more powerful.
     

Who's willing to kill hundreds of thousands of people and inflict billions of dollars worth of damage in a newly-rebuilt New Orleans?  The list of possible bombers is endless?

  • As I mentioned above, it could be a drug cartel or an organized crime group bent on extortion.  Instead of risky nuclear extortion, it might be a less risky extortion endeavor by North Korea or some dissident dictator. 
     
  • It could be a Timothy McVeigh-type angered by being passed over for a Special Forces assignment and not being issued a green, red, or black beret.  It could be a soldier angered about being assigned to dangerous Iraq.  It could be an relatively ordinary citizen angered by a costly Tax Court decision.
     
  • It could be a Eric Robert Rudolph-type angered by a rumor that an abortion took place in the Tulane Medical Center that is very close to the Lake Ponchetrain levee.
     
  • It could be a white supremacist with visions of a hundred thousand welfare mommas floating face down in the muck who could no longer bring a million new n_____s into the world.  Media coverage during Katrina (was there a single white victim shown of television?) and the aftermath of increased government assistance makes it much more likely that white supremacists will accelerate and magnify atrocities against African Americans ---
    http://www.publiceye.org/racism/white-supremacy.html
     
  • It could be carried out by any one of thousands of hate groups like Al Qaeda.  Or it could just be two brothers from Afghanistan who are upset because U.S. bombs killed their parents.
     
  • It could be some bipolar mental case having a bad day..
     

I'm no expert on explosives.  Perhaps the levees will be rebuilt strong enough to withstand truck bombs and Kamikaze crashes.  In that case, I think an Al Qaeda cell might be eager to take on a more complicated undertaking because of the glory that a complicated killing of hundreds of thousands of Americans would reap in Allah's hereafter.  Terrorists could design an underground/underwater mission that is more complicated than blowing up the Bridge on the River Kwai.

In a statistical sense, the rebuilding of New Orleans on its present site is a disastrous mistake due to the high probability of future breaches in the levees.  For maximum impact, the evil doers may have to patiently await a tidal surge, but such surges are common in New Orleans.  And tidal surges are much more dangerous in recent years due to the frightening disappearance of the Mississippi Delta that historically cushioned New Orleans from the sea.

I should also think that Holland is also nervous with the rising threat of Islamic militants in that nation below sea level. And I doubt that Russia would be stupid enough to rebuild a city under sea level with angry Chechnyans all about.  Why is the U.S. so naive?  It's like we keep forgetting that we do have enemies, millions (billions?) of them!

New Orleans is more vulnerable to attack in the future because of Katrina's media coverage and the costly havoc she reaped.

Turn up your speakers
KatrinaUSA ---
http://snipurl.com/KatrinaUS
 

__________

Media coverage during Katrina (was there a single white victim shown of television?) and the aftermath of increased government assistance makes it much more likely that white supremacists will accelerate and magnify atrocities against African Americans --- http://www.publiceye.org/racism/white-supremacy.html 

Black activists are also giving white supremacists ideas that initially (honestly) inspired my above tidbit on why New Orleans should not be re-built south of Lake Ponchetrain.

Nation of Islam leader and Air America may reap what they sow
Liberal radio asserts that white people deliberately blew up the levees to kill as many blacks as possible
Two hosts at the liberal radio network Air America are defending Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan - saying he's not wrong to suspect that white people deliberately blew up the levees in New Orleans. "You cannot blame people for coming up with conspiracy theories," Air America host Chuck D. said, after he was asked Thursday about the paranoid pronouncement by MSNBC's Tucker Carlson . . . But the Air America host refused to budge, insisting instead that there was a chance Farrakhan could be right.

"Air America Hosts: Farrakhan Not Wrong on Levees," NewsMax, September 15, 2005 ---
http://newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/9/16/11533.shtml

September 16, 2005 reply from David Fordham

. . .the Dutch aren't terribly concerned about threats to their dike, because they don't have "a dike". They have LOTS and LOTS of little dikes. If something happens to one, the "downstream" protectors start kicking in. In America, we seem to be eliminating everything small in favor of "mega-" everything. We abandon small rail lines and take them up and put the money into single mainlines. We shut down small generating stations and build mega- humongous ones. We close down small colleges and build huge universities. We close down neighborhood schools and build huge magnets where no one, not even the principal, can know all the kids names. ("Anonymity supports criminality" will one day become a famous quote.) We close down little military bases and consolidate them into megabases. (I heard that we now have only two submarine bases on the whole Atlantic coast...

I guess we are following Will Rogers' advice to "put all your eggs in one basket, then watch that basket!") If New Orleans is rebuilt at all, they need to do like the Dutch, and cut lots and lots of canals to get lots and lots of earth and build lots and lots of dikes. That way, when one fails, you have a minor flood which inconveniences, rather than a major disaster which devastates.

I'm still trying to figure out how the Flemish have been able to build buildings for 600 years that don't crack. If you tour Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brugge, Oostende, Knokke, or any of the other Flemish or Dutch towns, you see these old, old buildings which are leaning because the sand and silt they were built on has settled. But THEY DON'T CRACK! The brickwork is still all together in one solid piece! I don't know how they do it. My home, built in 1985, is cracking due to the "ground settling", according to the contractor, yet these Flemish buildings lean 3 degrees from vertical and don't have a crack anywhere in the masonry. Puzzling.

David Fordham

September 18, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Mac,

I changed the n-word to n______s in tomorrow's above tidbit. I had a not-so-surprising number of private emails complaining about my use of the n-word. It seems to be a more banned word than the increasingly popular f-word or its equivalents which are hard to avoid on any given day in the media and the movies and overheard campus conversations.

I was at a dinner party last night where we ended up watching "Million Dollar Baby" (MDB), that big-time Academy Award-winning movie that I'd not yet seen --- http://milliondollarbabymovie.warnerbros.com/intro.html 

I previously avoided the MDB movie, because I naively expected another Rocky I, Rocky II, Rocky III, and so on. I was wrong, especially about my wrongly-anticipated MDB ending.  I guess that's because MDB is based on a true story whereas Rocky is Hollywood fiction.

I was startled when hearing the n-word in MDB movie. Hollywood manages to carry on its n-word tradition to make us aware and uncomfortable, and I guess I was trying to do the same in the above tidbit.  But I should've remembered that Mark Twain's n-word book Huckleberry Finn is the most banned book in American libraries even though new books are shelved daily that are filled with the famous f-word, the other f-word demeaning gays, and worse.  Those are allowed even in some high school libraries and most certainly in college and community libraries.

For my above Bush-Mistake module, I would like to thank David Fordham for his comments about Holland's dikes. I added his comments to my Tidbit.

Cheers,

Bob Jensen

September 18, 2005 reply from Eric Press

Predictably, someone is quick to ask Jensen if he really used the n-word. I'll give good odds he did. The man has freed himself from fears of retribution; I've noted the loosening of bonds for a while.

Once upon a time, no one would ask Jensen if he wrote the sentence. That's not because back in the good old days everyone was all racists anyway. Rather, once readers were willing to reason before their knees jerked, and less inclined to conjure up some umbrage. It was obvious from his context that Jensen is referencing the mental state of a white supremacist. He articulates a view of the consequences of the supremacist's vile act, in the supremacist's terms.

Alas, we have lost our licenses. Everything is literal, and the words we utter before students and colleagues are freighted with the peril that, should they cross a shifty bound defined by a vocal if ill-educated crowd, one has put a career at risk. Thus, administrators are fired because, referring to a penurious deed, they describe it as "niggardly". It does not matter that the word's origins have nothing to do with "negro," much less its pejorative form, the dreaded n-word.

The subjugation of human dignity by pettyfoggers who hunt for nuanced racial slander is widespread. Jensen' transgression is a bold step. He's probably sick of small mindedness, and figures at this stage (he's about to retire), nothing can hurt him anyway.

The sharpest satire on where language police and PC-witch hunts lead is Phillip Roth's The Human Stain. Lillian Hellman's Children's Hour doesn't do a bad job, either.

Eric Press -----

September 18, 2005 reply forwarded from a friend

Personally, I never had a doubt about you or had a problem understanding what you were doing.

The article at http://www.ccgmedia.com/article_tricknology.php  is an interesting read, and this writer is often critical of behaviors that reinforce myths.

I have enjoyed reading his articles.

This is meant as a message of support, hopefully you aren't feeling like you need it though.

September 17, 2005 reply from Carol Flowers

I find this whole conversation about the n word amusing. I think referring to these words as the n and f words is ridiculous. It sounds so politically correct and I'm sick of politically correct!

I don't think being politically correct changes attitudes. It merely masks them.

 


Can't we make a political exception for Katrina victims in this time of crisis?

Teachers unions demand Katrina's education funding relief to be limited to only children enrolled in public schools
Department of Education announced a plan today to pay 90 percent of the educational costs of students and schools affected by Hurricane Katrina for one year. But the plan, which seeks $2.6 billion in new hurricane relief spending, came under immediate attack from Democrats and officials of the nation's two largest teachers' unions, who asserted that a major component - payments to families with children in private schools - amounted to a national voucher program.
Michael Janofski, "Plan Will Pay 90% of Costs for Students Hit by Storm," The New York Times, September 16, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/16/education/16cnd-educ.html
 

Jensen Comment:  In New Orleans, enrollments in private schools are mostly from middle income and even lower income families.  This is particularly true in Catholic schools in New Orleans since the Roman Catholic church has a dominant presence in New Orleans. 

Come on teachers unions!  Lay off the political pressures for the sake of all children caught up for a short time in the wake of the Katrina disaster.

Across Nation, Storm Victims Crowd Schools --- http://snipurl.com/CrowdedSchools


Announced on NPR on September 15, 2005

Katrina Aid Efforts Continue
Billboard, NY - 1 hour ago
... conductor Klauspeter Seibel says. The concert will be offered to National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates and streamed live on NPR.org.
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Nashville KATC
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Nashville WVLT
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Nashville KATC
all 13 related »

Look for a barrage of Katrina coverage
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WI - Sep 13, 2005
... horizon, dubbed "Higher Ground." This one, featuring Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, is a National Public Radio production, but ...




Equal Education:  A Long-Range Goal
Achieving true diversity at the college level won't happen without erasing a significant black-white "achievement gap" that persists in America to this day. And true to O'Connor's expectation, doing so will likely be the work of decades, if not a quarter century. That is because you really can't close the white-black achievement gap at the college level. Rather, it must be done in the early childhood development years. And doing so won't be as easy as providing need-based financial aid. Rather, it will require a sustained commitment by society to providing a range of quality neonatal and early childhood health care, day care, parental education and pre-school services for at-risk youngsters, both white and black. "Justice O'Connor's expectation is realistic if, and only if, the nation acts promptly to put in place the measures that would eliminate or substantially reduce racial disparities that occur between birth and young adulthood," Lisbeth B. Schorr, director of Harvard University's Pathways Mapping Initiative, argued in an essay published last year.
"Equal Education A Long-Range Goal," The Ledger, September 12, 2005 --- http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050912/NEWS/509120310/1036 


New Mammogram Finds More Cases New Computerized Version Found Between 15 Percent and 28 Percent More Cases in Women Younger Than 50 ---
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/16/AR2005091600559.html?referrer=email


"He ain't heavy;  he's my buddy"
. . . On second thought, he's too damn heavy! (Ker plop) 
Scientists at RTI International Health, Social and Economics Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used two data sets that encompass more than 45,000 full time workers between the ages of 18 and 64 for the new analysis. They compared figures that included body mass index (BMI), sick days and total medical expenditures. In general, a BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight. The researchers found that as BMI increased, so too did medical expenses for both men and women. The additional costs ranged from $162 for slightly obese men to an extra $1,524 for men with a BMI greater than 40. For overweight women, these costs ranged from $474 to $1,302. When the team factored in the cost of lost work days for obese employees, they calculated that the per capita cost of obesity amounts to between $460 and $2,485 annually.
"Study Assesses Annual Cost of Obesity to Employers," Scientific American, September 14, 2005 ---
http://sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=000F169F-356B-1327-B0E183414B7FFE87


Puzzle forwarded by Auntie Bev

This is a pretty neat puzzle --- http://www.brl.ntt.co.jp/people/hara/fly.swf 
Click & Hold, to move the puzzle pieces into place.
Hope you enjoy it. I did.
Auntie Bev


Amazing:  Since then, the military has paid closer attention to blogs

"State of the Art:  Their War," by Daniel Schulman, CJR Columbia Journalism Review, September 2005 --- http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/5/stateoftheart.asp

Ernie Pyle, the legendary correspondent, understood soldiers. He knew how they marched, how they mourned, how they endured. With few exceptions, the coverage coming out of Iraq today doesn’t portray the grunts in the same deeply personal light. It is a different era, and most journalists have never served in the military and have only a passing acquaintance with the worlds that most soldiers come from. But for readers who want a taste of the soldier’s life, a modern-day Ernie Pyle is no longer necessary; soldiers themselves are blogging their experiences from the front lines.

Since combat began in Iraq in March 2003, “milblogs,” as they’re called, have been cropping up in increasing numbers. Some are sophomoric and laced with obscenities, while others offer frank and poignant accounts of what it’s like to fight this war. Their popularity has drawn the interest of book publishers, along with the scrutiny of military higher-ups concerned that milblogs could breach operational security. For the Pentagon there is also something else at play here: how to manage the flow of information from the field — especially when the military’s official version of events is contradicted by blogging soldiers.

In August 2004, a twenty-eight-year-old Army infantryman named Colby Buzzell, writing anonymously under the handle CBFTW (the last three letters stand for, alternately, “fuck the war” or “fuck the world”), posted his account of a vicious firefight with insurgents on his blog, My War. “We were driving there on that main street when all of a sudden all hell came down all around on us. I was like, this is it, I’m going to die. I cannot put into words how scared I was.” The battle received scant media attention, and the Pentagon played down the extent to which Buzzell’s brigade had even been involved in the fighting — crediting Iraqi security forces with the victory. Days later, though, a report in the Tacoma, Washington, News Tribune, which covers Buzzell’s Fort Lewis-based detachment, noted the discrepancy between Buzzell’s version and the Pentagon’s. This drew attention to Buzzell’s blog, and soon his officers learned his identity. Buzzell was later briefly confined to base, an experience he details in his forthcoming book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq, due out in October.

Since then, the military has paid closer attention to milblogs. Some have been censored, others ordered to shut down. The crackdown, though, may have unintended consequences for the military. The best of these blogs offer Americans back home a chance to connect with soldiers in ways that today’s media coverage does not.

Continued in article


Really personal personal finance blogs
Open talk about the details of personal finance may break a social taboo. It certainly seemed so when Mr. Wang first did it in April. "I'm going to take the plunge and join the level of financial transparency that other personal finance blogs are willing to reveal," he wrote. If other financial bloggers can "bare it all (and have for quite some time), I think I can do it, too," he said. "I'll detail, to the cent, my spending this month along with my budgetary targets."
Elizabeth Harris, "Psst: Want to Know My Net Worth?" The New York Times, September 18, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/18/business/yourmoney/18blog.html


New search tool from Google:  Putting order into the wild west of the Blog Frontier

It's tough to make money in a chaotic environment, and things don't get more rough-and-tumble then in today's blogosphere. The universe of blogs has everything from little Johnny's web diary to serious journalism and corporate marketing. Nevertheless, there's money to be made, and Google is taking the first step to finding that pot of gold. The Mountain View, Calif., company has launched a blog-search tool that looks to bring order to the unruly blogosphere. Experts say some blogs, such as those doing credible work in journalism and commentary, are beginning to show commercial potential. The problem, however, is to find and categorize them, which is something Google does better than anyone.
InternetWeek Newsletter, September 15, 2005
Also see
http://www.internetweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=170703264

Google's blog search page is at http://blogsearch.google.com/

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on Weblogs and blogs are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Weblog


Until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes - everywhere is war.
Bob Marley

Bear Bryant:  The Last Coach
"The Last Coach" (W.W. Norton & Co., 546 pages, $26.95) is Allen Barra's attempt to do for Bryant what David Maraniss did for Vince Lombardi in "When Pride Mattered": take a legend and bring him to life. While "The Last Coach" lacks the narrative sparkle of Mr. Maraniss's portrait, it is a worthy work that does much to separate myth from fact and to restore our sense of Bryant himself, as he actually was. Though Bryant was successful early on -- at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M -- it was back at his alma mater that he truly made his mark, building Alabama into the most dominant school in football over the course of 25 seasons. His often undersized Crimson Tide teams executed fundamentals splendidly and out-hit even their bigger opponents. Bryant himself mixed homespun cordiality (he was a terrific salesman on the recruiting trail), a nearly sadistic will to win (his training camps were the stuff of legend) and a mastery of gamesmanship. Though he would often mispronounce or just plain forget his players' names, he rarely lost the battle of the sidelines. Former assistant Bum Phillips paid Bryant the ultimate coach's tribute when he said: "Bear can take his'n and beat your'n, or he can take your'n and beat his'n."
Michael Maccambridge,
"
The 'Bear' Essentials," The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005; Page D7 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112673668988841027,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep 

Jensen Comment:
Coach Bryant probably did more for civil rights in Alabama colleges than any other human being.  Coach Bryant recognized the value of African American athletes' pride and skills.  He also made them study and learn in their courses.  Years ago when I was on the faculty at Michigan State University, a speech by renowned MSU Coach Duffy Dougherty made me appreciate Coach Bryant at Alabama.  I can't remember the exact words, but Duffy's key quotation went approximately as follows:  "I once sent a letter to Bear Bryant complaining that he was recruiting players too aggressively in MSU territory."  Duffy was not referring to Michigan.  He was referring to Alabama where for years Duffy recruited top black athletes who could not be admitted to the University of Alabama because of their race.  Bear Bryant changed all that. 

I also remember that Bear Bryant brought dignity to college sports.  He wanted his many fans to be courteous to opponents win or lose and to dress for games --- I mean coats and ties in the stadium.  And he was painfully honest in defeat.  He did not want the south to project an image of redneck fools.  Once when I was invited to give a lecture at Alabama, my friends took me to a game between Alabama and Notre Dame.  Notre Dame solidly won the game.  That same evening on television, the "Bear" did not try to make excuses or complain about referees.  He announced that Notre Dame was a bigger and faster team that could probably win any day of the week.  That's my kind of man and my kind of coach.


Black faculty members allegedly struggle in academe
Black faculty members “continue to struggle for full inclusion in the academy,” according to a new book,
Exposing the “Culture of Arrogance” in the Academy: A Blueprint for Increasing Black Faculty Satisfaction in Higher Education.  The book is based on surveys of and interviews with black faculty members and the experiences of the two authors: Gail L. Thompson, an associate professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, and Angela C. Louque, a professor of education at California State University at San Bernardino.
"Culture of Arrogance," Inside Higher Ed, September 13, 2005 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/13/black


Black Colleges Confront Challenges
Like many academic conference-goers these days, a lot of the presidents, other college administrators and government officials attending a meeting on historically black colleges in Washington this week had a not-insignificant distraction for their hearts and minds. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t dive headlong into the issues and topics they were here to address in the formal sessions of the National HBCU Week Conference, which was put on by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities: barriers to college access for African Americans and other minority students, black colleges’ relationship with the federal government, and institutional governance, to name a few.
Doug Lederman, "Black Colleges Confront Challenges," Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/14/hbcu


Treasury, IRS Announce Special Relief to Encourage Leave-Donation Programs for Victims of Hurricane Katrina
Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service officials announced Thursday special relief intended to support leave-based donation programs to aid victims who have suffered from the extraordinary destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Under these programs, employees donate their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments made to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Employees can forgo leave in exchange for employer cash payments made before Jan. 1, 2007, to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief for Hurricane Katrina victims. Employees do not have to include the donated leave in their income. Employers will be permitted to deduct the amount of the cash payment.
"Treasury, IRS Announce Special Relief to Encourage Leave-Donation Programs for Victims of Hurricane Katrina," SmartPros, September 9, 2005 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x49695.xml


Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
Charles Mingus as quoted by Mark Shapiro at the link shown below.

Bonding with your kids in the age of cell phones
It's not that we don't have anything in common, but he's 17 going on 18 and I'm 21 going on 29 going on 50-something, and we are a few generations apart. We are supposed to have different perspectives and different outlooks on things. That's the way it goes. However, when my son and I are in the same vehicle, assuming none of his friends pass by in their vehicles, call him on his cell phone, and interrupt our bonding moments, sometimes we hit upon a subject we can talk about without one of us losing patience with the other. ...
Felice Praeger, "Totally Awesome in a Groovy Far-out Kind of Cool Way, Not," The Irascible Professor, September 12, 2005 ---
http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-09-12-05.htm
Jensen Comment:  But mom can get even by phoning her son when he's with his friends.


New services and software make it easy to use cell phones and PDAs to locate where you are--and get you to where you want to be --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=170701926

Remember when cell phones went from fat, bulky, exotic devices to slim, must-have, everyday tools? That's what's happening to GPS technology right now, Fred Langa says ---
http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=170701704

Communication systems fail, while electronic records and logistics software hold up --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=170702045



The Žižek Effect
It’s not just her willingness to let Slavoj Žižek be Slavoj Žižek — responding bitterly to an orthodox
deconstructionist in the audience at a lecture at Columbia University, for example, or revisiting some familiar elements of his early work on the theory of ideology. Nor is it even her willingness to risk trying to popularize the unpopularizable. The film ventures into an account of Žižek’s claim of the parallel between Marx’s concept of surplus value and Lacan’s “object petit a.” (This is illustrated, you may be relieved to know, via a cartoon involving bottles of Coke.) Beyond all that, Žižek! is very smart as a film. How it moves from scene to scene — the playful, yet coherent and even intricate relationship between structure and substance — rewards more than one
viewing.

Scott McLemee, "
The Žižek Effect," Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/13/mclemee

Croak
Scientists will meet this weekend to launch an action plan aimed at stemming the global decline in amphibians. About a third of frog, toad and salamander species are facing extinction; threats include fungal disease, pollution and habitat loss. The Washington DC meeting is expected to call for the establishment of a large-scale captive breeding programme. The cost of preserving amphibians from extinction may run into tens of millions of US dollars per year.
Richard Black, "Frog action plan to cost millions," BBC News, September 14, 2005 --- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4244554.stm


Necessity: Military Tribunals and the Loss of American Civil Liberties
“In a time of war,” wrote Cicero, “the laws are silent.” (That’s “inter arma silent leges,” in case some nuance is missing from the usual English rendering.) Related stories Real Knowledge, July 12 Throat Culture, July 7 Ambiguous Legacy, June 21 Show Clio the Money!, May 31 Few Rules for New Constitution Day Requirement, May 25 E-mail Print Well, perhaps not quite silent. Marouf A. Hasian’s In the Name of Necessity: Military Tribunals and the Loss of American Civil Liberties, available next month from the University of Alabama Press, revisits more than 200 years of American argumentation for and against the legitimacy of “military justice.”
Scott McLemee and Scott Jaschik, "Necessary Evils," Inside Higher Ed, September 15, 2005 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/15/mclemee


SmartPros Book Digests
SmartPros Book Digests features more than 600 online business book summaries adapted from the most popular titles on the market. Each book is carefully condensed into 300, 600 and 4,500 word digests, enabling the subscriber to quickly and easily absorb a book’s core concepts. The annual subscription features as many as 50 new digests each year. All digests are published in PDF format, allowing subscribers to quickly download, read and/or print. 
Annual subscriptions include full access to all new reviews and the complete archive. Users can also purchase individual digests. You can access SmartPros Book Digests at: www.smartpros.com/bookdigests
 


For those of you who will be visiting San Antonio, I have some helpers that I wrote up for the 2002 American Accounting Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/SanAntonioJensen.htm
There might even be a Spurs game.
Bob Jensen

September 12 message from David E. Stout [destout@ysu.edu]

Call for Papers, Academy of Business Education (ABE) Conference Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas: April 5-6, 2006

The 2006 ABE conference will be held at the historic Menger Hotel, next door to the Alamo and at the entrance to Riverwalk, in beautiful San Antonio, Texas.

I am serving as the accounting track chair for the 2006 ABE meeting. As such, I am soliciting paper submissions and other proposals. Papers in any area of accounting education are appropriate for presentation at the meeting. To be considered authors should send a two-page abstract (minimum) to me (destout@ysu.edu). Submission deadline is NOVEMBER 1, 2005.

Need an idea? Want to know what the ABE annual meeting is like? Take a look at the most recent meeting by clicking on "2005 Program" at the following site:
www.abe.villanova.edu

I look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!

David E. Stout
Youngstown State University
Accounting Track Chair
2006 ABE Meeting

office tel: (330) 941-3509
home tel: (330) 965-9504


Free Trade and the EU:  The EU is not as protectionist as we're led to believe in the U.S. media
We know we shouldn't, but most of us can't resist clinging to a few comforting illusions that reinforce our view of the world. Here's one: The European Union is a bureaucratic monster whose protectionist policies and cosseted agricultural sector do great harm to developing countries. I have a surprise for you: In fact, the opposite is true. Today the EU is the most open market in the world for the poorest countries, and their largest trading partner. Our trade preferences for developing countries are used more widely than any others. Imports under these specially reduced tariffs are higher than those under the equivalent American, Japanese and Canadian trade preferences combined. Equally, the reality of our common agricultural policy is rather unlike the caricature. After a decade of reforms, the wine-lakes have dried up and the butter mountains have melted away. These reforms won't stop. But we shouldn't dismiss what has been achieved already.
Jose Manuel Barroso, "The EU Throws Down the Gauntlet," The Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2005; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112649175648837703,00.html?mod=todays_us_opinion


Fraud Reveals Workings of Internet Theft
The illicit haul arrived each day by e-mail, the personal details of computer users tricked by an Internet thief: a victim's name, credit card number, date of birth, Social Security number, mother's maiden name. One more Internet "phishing" scam was operating. But this time, private sleuths soon were hot on the electronic trail of a thief whose online alias indicated an affinity for the dark side. The case moved ahead in part because of an underground tipster and the thief's penchant for repeatedly using the same two passwords _ "syerwerz" and "r00tm3."
Ted Bridis, "Fraud Reveals Workings of Internet Theft," The Washington Post, September 11, 2005 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/11/AR2005091100550.html?referrer=email


National Park Service: the American Civil War ---  http://cwar.nps.gov/civilwar/


U.S. Food and Drug Administration --- http://www.fda.gov/opacom/enforce.html


Masood Farivar, "With Friends Like Pakistan," The Wall Street Journal,  September 14, 2005; Page D14 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112665029430239704,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

Well before we come across this anecdote in "I Is for Infidel" (PublicAffairs, 186 pages, $25), we have grown accustomed to Ms. Gannon's enterprising instincts and, not least, her eye for the telling detail. Her closely observed chronicle of Afghanistan's descent into chaos, and its attempts to rebound, is full of vivid incident and astute analysis. She conveys with particular skill the Afghans' sense of despair as the world abandoned them and their country slid into anarchy, only to be taken over by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

For causing this tragedy Ms. Gannon takes everyone to task: the former anti-Soviet mujahideen for turning their country into a killing field and for committing unspeakable crimes; the U.N. for ignoring the Taliban's gruesome rule in the forlorn hope that to do so would promote peace; and the U.S. for failing to court moderate Taliban members and later for sacrificing Afghanistan's security for the sake of prosecuting the war in Iraq. But she saves her sharpest indictment for Pakistan's military and intelligence service. She argues that it has been in cahoots with terrorist groups for decades, groups driven by a "jihad ideology" according to which Islam justifies all kinds of violence.

The military's omnipresence in Pakistani life, Ms. Gannon notes, is in part a legacy of British rule, under which Hindus dominated the civilian bureaucracy and Muslims the military. When the British left, a feudal ruling class arose. Its members included, alongside major landowners, military men with a strong religious sense of mission and no interest in establishing democratic institutions. As one Pakistani general tells Ms. Gannon: "Jihad has always been a motivating concept for our troops from day one." The concept motivated Pakistan's military all the more forcefully, in the decades after independence, with each of Pakistan's humiliating defeats at the hands of India.

Continued in book review


"Lonely Days, Lonely Nights Red America vs. European blues," by Jonah Goldberg, National Review, September 12, 2005 --- http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200509140840.asp

Here's a gloomy thought for you: America is going to be lonely for a very long time. After reading the October issue of The American Enterprise, "Red America, Blue Europe," that's the only conclusion one can draw. There is a grand myth that the world, particularly Europe, loved America before George W. Bush came into office. The reality is that it only dislikes us a bit more than it used to.

Anti-American books tore up the best-seller list in France throughout the Clinton presidency. The staged anti-globalization riots during the 1990s were not love letters to America or the Democratic party. In 1999, Bill Clinton needed 10,000 policemen to protect him from Greek activists who aimed to firebomb him. Protesters in Athens continually pulled down a statue of Harry Truman. Despite the relentless jackassery of people like Michael Moore and others who attributed 9/11 to Bush's policies — including our failure to sign the Kyoto Treaty (stop laughing) — al-Qaeda got its operation up and running throughout the sunny days of Bill Clinton and the dotcom bubble.

In the 1980s, anti-Americanism was also a big problem, but fortunately the elites of Europe generally understood — with some lamentable exceptions — it was better to have America as a friend than the Soviet Union as a ruler.

But now that the Cold War is over, European elites have been liberated from the need to play well with the United States. Elections in Germany and France have largely been won in recent years by running against America. The U.S. is the only superpower and European elites don't think anyone but them should be superpowers. The Chinese have a similar attitude, of course, and pretty much every foreign policy article and expert I can find says we're going to be playing Cold War-style games with China for the next 50 years.

In other words, we are facing at minimum two enormous problems that will far, far outlast the Bush presidency, and, unlike in the past, it's not entirely clear we can rely on our friends to stand with us. This is a broad generalization, which means that it's open to contradiction by a great many facts while still, I think, remaining true. We do have some real friends, most notably Britain, Japan and Australia.

But much of Europe seems lost to us. There are many reasons for this, but two stick out. First, they're free riders. They know that America is the only country left with the means and the will to maintain international order. Our economy keeps their economy afloat. We keep the sea lanes open. Our scientific innovation gives them medical breakthroughs they buy on the cheap.

Second, because we're behind the wheel, they can indulge their vanity by playing backseat drivers. They reject the basic assumptions of American strategic imperatives. So they toy with selling weapons to the Chinese. They play games about whether or not Islamic radicalism is even really a problem. They are always willing to credit the worst possible explanation of American actions.

A columnist for the British Sun wrote this week, "America may have given the world the space shuttle and, er, condensed milk, but behind the veneer of civilization most Americans barely have the brains to walk on their back legs." Then he got offensive, writing that the people of New Orleans were "finding themselves being blown to pieces by a helicopter gunship."

Continued in article


From Jim Mahar's blog on September 13, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Are casinos really important for (French) national security?

Don't do it France! I hope they come to their senses. This would entrench management even more.

French Anti-Takeover Plan Under Fire: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "A soon-to-be-published decree, touted by ministers after rumors of a PepsiCo Inc. bid for French food company Danone SA provoked a political outcry in July, would give the government a veto over takeovers in 10 industries deemed sensitive to national security.

Sectors on the list, already confirmed by the Finance Ministry, include several over which most states retain tight control, such as arms manufacturing and encryption.

But the decree also covers companies with activities in biotechnology, data security, casinos and antidote production -- fueling concern that it could lead to a broader kind of protectionism."

Jim Mahar


Bait and Switch:  Investigative Adventures in Unemployment
Nobody reads Barbara Ehrenreich without developing a heightened sense of how American business operates. So readers of her new book, "Bait and Switch," will notice how closely its publisher has made it conform to her last one, the best seller "Nickel and Dimed." Their titles have the same ring. Ms. Ehrenreich uses the same basic investigative reporting methods. Perhaps inflation or an extra 16 pages accounts for a $1 rise in price.
Janet Maslin, "Investigative Adventures in Unemployment," The New York Times, September 15, 2005 ---
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/15/books/15masl.html


Electronic Books and Journals

Selected Poems by Lord Byron --- http://englishhistory.net/byron/poetry.html

Baen Free Library --- http://www.baen.com/library/

Emily Dickenson Electronic Archives --- http://www.emilydickinson.org/

 

Bob Jensen's links to electronic books and journals --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm#ElectronicBooks


How to find out-of-print books, music, and movies
Alibris is the world's most comprehensive source of used, new, and hard-to-find books, music and movies. Visitors to Alibris shop millions of new, used, out-of-print, foreign language, and collectible titles from our worldwide network of independent sellers and from our very own shelves. With great customer service and a satisfaction guarantee, Alibris helps people find the books, movies and music they want.
Alibris --- http://www.alibris.com/help/gettingstarted.cfm?S=R




Tidbits on September 21, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp


Music:

Israeli & Jewish Music Samples (some of these are long and slow to download, but most are lively and festive) --- http://www.juedische-musik.de/files/15.htm
I had to download a free RealPlayer add-in utility for the above music, but everything was quick and automatic after requesting the first music file selection.)
Also see http://www.your-mp3-source.com/jewish-music-mp3.html

If You Ever Leave Me (Will You Take Me With You) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/if.htm

Unknown Legend (the Air She Breathes) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/legend.htm

Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

Ancient Eastern Music Meets Modern Technology
The robot was a flop. The laser koto was intriguing. And the two electronic music concerts presented here last week under the rubric Project RITE (Reinventing Tradition and Environment) revealed the fertile explorations taking place outside major concert venues -- explorations informed by everything from computer science to the ancient Japanese court music called gagaku.

Barbara Jepson, "Ancient Eastern Music Meets Modern Technology," The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005; Page D7 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112673539312040977,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

 

Photographs

Move your mouse around and experience the dynamic panorama (free Quicktime required)
At panoramas.dk you can see interactive 360 degree panoramas also called VR Photography by some of the best VR Photographers in the world. They are presented in Fullscreen and you need Quicktime New panoramas are presented weekly. Scroll down for the last features. The Archive contains more than 160 panoramas from all the world.
Never seen a fullscreen 360 degree QTVR panorama before? Just click on the image to see the featured panorama this week.

Panorams.dk --- http://www.panoramas.dk/ 

Panoramic photographs in Virtual Sweden --- http://www.virtualsweden.se/




Why is a student at Our Lady of the Lakes University (San Antonio) asking the Justice Department to ferret out a problem at that university?
A student at Our Lady of the Lakes University has asked the U.S. Justice Department to rule that the San Antonio institution is violating her rights by barring her ferret from classes, according to KSAT news. The student says that she suffers from a variety of mental disorders and needs the ferret to get through the day.
Inside Higher Ed, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/22/qt


Bush Pays Off
Bush's proposed spending on Katrina amounts to $400,000 per family!

Whatever It Takes' Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?
In his Katrina policy the president is telling Democrats, "You can't possibly outspend me. Go ahead, try. By the time this is over Dennis Kucinich will be crying uncle, Bernie Sanders will be screaming about pork." That's what's behind Mr. Bush's huge, comforting and boondogglish plan to spend $200 billion or $100 billion or whatever--"whatever it takes"--on Katrina's aftermath. And, I suppose, tomorrow's hurricane aftermath.
Peggy Noonan, "'Whatever It Takes' Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?" The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110007291


When Katrina slammed into New Orleans, FEMA quickly dispatched 200 trucks full of ice --- to Maine!
Do you suppose they're filling up to head for Fairbanks when Rita slams into the Texas coast?

The trucks started arriving this weekend, and they're expected to keep coming through Sunday. City officials say they have no idea why the trucks are here, only that the city has been asked to help out with traffic problems. But the truck drivers NEWSCENTER spoke to said they went all the way down to the gulf coast with the ice -- stayed for a few days -- and then were told by FEMA they needed to drive to Maine to store it. The truck drivers, who are from all over the country, tell us they were subcontracted by FEMA . . . The truck drivers, who are from all over the country, tell us they were subcontracted by FEMA. They started arriving over the weekend, and city spokesperson Peter Dewitt says as many as 200 trucks could come to the city by the end of the week.
"FEMA Sends Trucks Full Of Ice For Katrina Victims To Maine,: Ksdk.com, September 21, 2005 --- http://ksdk.com/news/us_world_article.aspx?storyid=85020  

"Fixing FEMA Five Provocative Proposals." by John Helyar, Fortune, October 3, 2005 --- http://www.fortune.com/fortune/articles/0,15114,1105705,00.html

The Inevitable Water versus Wind Homeowner Claims Disputes
Homeowners on the Gulf Coast say insurers such as State Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide aren’t playing fair. If floodwaters are swept into a home, is the wind to blame?
John Simmons, "A Civil War Over Claims?" Fortune, October 3, 2005 --- http://www.fortune.com/fortune/articles/0,15114,1105654,00.html


PLANET-DISSOLVING DUST CLOUD IS HEADED TOWARD EARTH!
Is this a tabloid headline or is it a distinct possibility? 
I lean toward the tabloid side and will not yet commence constructing an ark in my barn in New Hampshire.

"The existence of this so called chaos cloud is only a theory. Americans shouldn't panic until all the facts are in."

"PLANET-DISSOLVING DUST CLOUD IS HEADED TOWARD EARTH!" by Mike Foster, Yahoo News, September 12, 2005 --- http://movies.yahoo.com/mv/news/wwn/20050912/112653720010p.html 

Scared-stiff astronomers have detected a mysterious mass they've dubbed a "chaos cloud" that dissolves everything in its path, including comets, asteroids, planets and entire stars -- and it's headed directly toward Earth!

Discovered April 6 by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the swirling, 10 million-mile- wide cosmic dust cloud has been likened to an "acid nebula" and is hurtling toward us at close to the speed of light -- making its estimated time of arrival 9:15 a.m. EDT on June 1, 2014.

"The good news is that this finding confirms several cutting- edge ideas in theoretical physics," announced Dr. Albert Sherwinski, a Cambridge based astrophysicist with close ties to NASA.

"The bad news is that the total annihilation of our solar system is imminent."

Experts believe the chaos cloud is composed of particles spawned near the event horizon of a black hole (a form of what's called Hawking Radiation) that have been distorted by mangled information spewed from the hole.

"A super-massive black hole lies about 28,000 light-years from Earth at the center of our galaxy," explained Dr. Sherwinski.

"Last year the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking revised his theory of black holes -- which previously held that nothing could escape the hole's powerful gravitational field. He demonstrated that information about objects that have been sucked in can be emitted in mangled form.

"It now appears that mangled information can distort matter.

"Just imagine our galaxy the Milky Way as a beautiful, handwritten letter.

"Now imagine pouring a glass of water on the paper and watching the words dissolve as the stain spreads. That's what the chaos cloud does to every star or planet it encounters."

To avoid widespread panic, NASA has declined to make the alarming discovery public. But Dr. Sherwinski's contacts at the agency's Chandra X-ray Observatory leaked to him striking images of the newly discovered chaos cloud obliterating a large asteroid.

"It's like watching a helpless hog being dissolved in a vat of acid," one NASA scientist told Dr. Sherwinski.

Ordinarily, Hawkings Radiation is harmless.

"It's produced when an electron- positron pair are at the event horizon of a black hole," Dr. Sherwinski explained. "The intense curvature of space-time of the hole can cause the positron to fall in, while the electron escapes."

But when "infected" by mangled information from the black hole, the particles become a chaos cloud, which in turn mangles everything it touches.

"If it continues unchecked, the chaos cloud will eventually reduce our galaxy to the state of absolute chaos that existed before the birth of the universe," the astrophysicist warned.

Some scientists say mankind's best hope would be to build a "space ark" and hightail it to the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.1 million light-years away.

"We wouldn't be able to save the entire human population, but perhaps the best and the brightest," observed British rocket scientist Dr. David Hall, when asked about the feasibility of such a project.

But even if such a craft could be built in time, evacuating Earth might prove fruitless if theories about the origin of the chaos cloud are correct.

"A black hole at the center of Andromeda is about 15 times the size of the one in our own galaxy," Dr. Sherwinski noted. "It might be like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire."

Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a senior White House official said the president's top science advisors are taking the findings in stride.

"This is a lot like global warming, where the jury is still out on whether it's real or not," said the official.

"The existence of this so called chaos cloud is only a theory. Americans shouldn't panic until all the facts are in."


After reading through the above module, I decided I really need the module below.

There's hope for all of you if Bob Jensen heeds the message!
"Time saving tips on wasting time on the web,"
Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 2005 ---
http://csmonitor.com/2005/0914/p25s01-stct.html There are only a few pins on this sad map
Mailinator is about saving you from spam. But in the process it ends up getting plenty of its own (averaging over a million emails a day!). This map shows (in semi-realtime) ip addresses that are currently sending the most spam to Mailinator --- http://www.mailinator.com/mailinator/map.html


When will you meet your Braine L'Alleud?
. . . most people don't know that the battle of Waterloo (famous as Napoleon's defeat) was NOT fought in Waterloo, or even anywhere NEAR Waterloo! It was fought outside the town of Braine L'Alleud, towards the town of Mont St. Jean (where Hugo wrote Les Miserables). But everyone believes Napoleon lost at "Waterloo", because that's what the London Times reported!

David Fordham, James Madison University


"Fewer A’s at Princeton," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/20/princeton

Princeton University students need to work harder for the A’s.

The university released results Monday of the first year under a new grading policy, designed to tackle the issue of grade inflation. In the last academic year, A’s (including plus and minus grades) accounted for 40.9 percent of all grades awarded. That may not be consistent with a bell curve, but the figure is down from 46.0 percent the previous year, and 47.9 percent the year before that.

Princeton’s goal is to have A’s account for less than 35 percent of the grades awarded. Nancy Malkiel, dean of the college at Princeton, said that based on progress during the first year, she thought the university would have no difficulty achieving that goal.

The data indicate that some fields have come quite close to the target while others lag. The only category that stayed the same the year the new policy took effect (natural sciences) was already near the target.

Percentage of Undergraduate A’s at Princeton, by Disciplinary Category

Discipline 2004-5 2003-4
Humanities 45.5% 56.2%
Social sciences 38.4% 42.5%
Natural sciences 36.4% 36.4%
Engineering 43.2% 48.0%

The university did not impose quotas, but asked each department to review grading policies and to discuss ways to bring grades down to the desired level. Departments in turn discussed expectations for different types of courses, and devised approaches to use. For independent study and thesis grades, the Princeton guidelines expect higher grades than for regular undergraduate courses, and that was the case last year.

Malkiel said that she wasn’t entirely certain about the differences among disciplines, but that, generally, it was easier for professors to bring grades down when they evaluate student work with exams and problem sets than with essays. She said that by sharing ideas among departments, however, she is confident that all disciplines can meet the targets.

Universities should take grade inflation seriously, she said, as a way to help their students.

“The issue here is how we do justice to our students in our capacity as educators, and we have a responsibility to show them the difference between their very best work and their good work, and if we are giving them the same grades for the very best work and for their good work, they won’t know the difference and we won’t stretch them as far as they are capable as stretching,” she said.

Despite the additional pressure on students who want A’s, she said, professors have not reported any increase in students complaining about or appealing the grades.

In discussions about grade inflation nationally, junior faculty members have complained that it is hard for them to be rigorous graders for fear of getting low student evaluations. Malkiel said that she understood the concern, and that Princeton’s approach — by focusing attention on the issue — would help. “What this institution is saying loud and clear is that all of us together are expected to be responsible. So if you have a culture where the senior faculty are behaving that way, it will make it easier for the junior faculty to behave that way.”

Melisa Gao, a senior at Princeton and editor in chief of The Daily Princetonian, said that student reactions to the tougher grading policy have varied, depending on what people study. Gao is a chemistry major and she said that the new policy isn’t seen as a change in her department.

Professors have drawn attention to the new policy at the beginning of courses, and Gao said that some students say that they are more stressed about earning A’s, but that there has not been any widespread criticism of the shift.

Many companies are recruiting on campus now, and Gao said that students have wondered if they would be hurt by their lower grades. Princeton officials have said that they are telling employers and graduate schools about the policy change, so students would not be punished by it.

But, Gao added, “at the end of the day, you have a number on a transcript.”

Bob Jensen's threads on grade inflation and teaching evaluations are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#GradeInflation


Katrina a Textbook in What Not to Do
Katrina is what classrooms call a teachable moment. Everyone is picking through the mistakes from all levels of government for lessons that will spare more lives and property when disaster visits the country again.

"Katrina a Textbook in What Not to Do," SmartPros, September 19, 2005 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x49790.xml


The Big Will Just Get Bigger
Will Windows Upgrade Hand Power to Big Media?

Microsoft's successor to the Windows XP operating system, known as Windows Vista, will come with new technologies meant to provide a secure digital media environment. The idea is to make it easier to download HDTV-quality video to your desktop or laptop. But, in the process, critics fear you will lose something: the freedom to use whatever hardware or software you want. So what you'll hear about Vista depends on whom you ask. According to Microsoft representatives, the new operating system (which was known until recently by its Microsoft code name, Longhorn, and is now scheduled to ship in late-2006) will be a vastly more secure platform for delivering high-quality entertainment content. But ask analysts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the well-known Internet civil-rights organization based in San Francisco, and you'll hear talk of Vista turning into a highly restrictive sandbox--where only the major movie studios decide who can play.
Andy Patrizio, "Will Windows Upgrade Hand Power to Big Media?" MIT's Technology Review, September 19, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/articles/05/09/wo/wo_091905patrizio.asp?trk=nl


A Katrina Fill Up for Every Pork Barrel:
The frenzy to pay for Katrina reminds me a lot about the frenzy at Enron just before it imploded with creative accounting rather than sane financial management:  Bush just can't say no with his unused veto pen!

"Welcome to the GOP's New New Deal," by Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2005; Page A17 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112709761314344586,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

There's an old adage that no one in Washington can tell the difference between $1 million and $1 billion. Seldom has that Beltway learning disability been more vividly demonstrated than in the weeks since Katrina.

When President Bush announced last Thursday that the feds would take a lead role in the reconstruction of New Orleans, he in effect established a new $200 billion federal line of credit. To put that $200 billion in perspective, we could give every one of the 500,000 families displaced by Katrina a check for $400,000, and they could each build a beach front home virtually anywhere in America.

This flood of money comes on the heels of a massive domestic spending build-up in progress well before Katrina traveled its ruinous path. Federal spending, not counting the war in Iraq, was growing by 7% this year, which came atop the 30% hike over Mr. Bush's first term. Republicans were already being ridiculed as the Grand Old Spending Party by taxpayer groups. Their check-writing binge in response to the hurricane only confirmed, as conservative leader Paul Weyrich put it, that "the GOP, once the party of small government, has lost its bearings and the Republican establishment doesn't seem to get the message that the grass roots of the party is enraged."

Congressman Todd Aiken of Missouri complains that Congress was forced to vote on the $62 billion first installment of funds "even though we knew a lot of the money may go to waste." Mr. Aiken and several dozen other House conservatives proposed an amendment to the $62 billion hurricane relief bill that would offset at least some of the emergency spending by cutting other government programs a meager 2.5 cents out of every dollar that federal agencies spend.

Was the amendment defeated? No. The Republican leadership would not even allow it to come to a vote, on the grounds that there was no waste which could be easily identified and cut.

Dozens of other reasonable proposals to offset Katrina's tidal wave of deficit spending have been similarly repelled. Mike Pence of Indiana suggested a one-year delay on the multitrillion dollar new prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. For 220 years, seniors have managed without this give-away; one more year of waiting would hardly be an act of cruelty. It would save $40 billion, but there were no takers. Then there was the well-publicized idea by Republicans and several Democrats in Congress to cut $25 billion for bike paths, train-station renovations, nature trails, parking garages, auto museums and 6,000 other such pork projects in the just-enacted highway law. It was torpedoed by the powerful committee chairmen who patched this abominable bill together in the first place.

It's only been 10 days since reconstruction funds were voted out of Congress, but there are already stories of misspending. For example, the Louis Vuitton store reported selling two monographed luxury handbags for $800 each, both paid for by women with FEMA's $2,000 emergency disaster relief debit cards.

Rapacious trial lawyers are already on the hunt rounding up Katrina's victims to unleash a barrage of multimillion dollar lawsuits. Now they have been empowered by Congress to finance these lawsuits against taxpayers … with taxpayer dollars.

The government has just allocated $250 million for "counseling and legal services." After 9/11, the federal government authorized tens of millions of dollars for "counseling" to traumatized families of the victims. A Republican Study Committee audit discovered that millions went for "peace" and "diversity" workshops, a "yearlong celebration of trees, gardens and other healing places," theater workshops, anger-management classes and multiculturalism programs to discuss "who we are and why we are here." (Isn't that what churches are for?)

Politicians from seemingly every congressional district appear to be elbowing their way to the orgy table for a slice of this $200-billion pie. At last count, 12 governors declared their states emergency disaster areas, and thus eligible for federal aid. Iowa, Michigan and Utah, for example, states nowhere near the Hurricane, are lining up for disaster relief funds.

Conspicuously missing from the post-Katrina spending debate is a question for some brave soul in Congress to ask, What is the appropriate and constitutional role here for the federal government? Before the New Deal taught us that the federal government is the solution to every malady, most congresses and presidents would have concluded that the federal government's role was minimal. One of our greatest presidents, Democrat Grover Cleveland, vetoed an appropriation for drought victims because there was no constitutional authority to spend for such purposes. Today he would be ridiculed by Ted Kennedy as "incompassionate."

We all want to see New Orleans rebuilt, but it does not follow that this requires more than $100 billion in federal aid. Chicago was burned to the ground in 1871; San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake in 1906; and in 1900 Galveston, Texas, was razed by a hurricane even more ferocious than Katrina. In each instance, these proud cities were rebuilt rapidly and to even greater glory -- with hardly any federal money.

Alas, in the world of compassionate conservatism, the quaint notion of limited federal power has fallen to the wayside in favor of an ethic that has Uncle Sam as first, second and third responder to crisis. FEMA, despite its woeful performance, will grow in size and stature. So will the welfare state. Welcome to the new New Dealism of the GOP.

Both political parties are now willing and eager to spend tax dollars as if they were passing out goody-bags to grabby four-year-olds at a birthday party. The Democrats are already forging their 2006 and 2008 message: We will spend just as many trillions of dollars as Republicans, but we will spend them better than they do. After witnessing the first few Republican misappropriations for Hurricane Katrina, the Democrats may very well be right.


FEMA Battered by Waste, Fraud
The national disaster response agency that mishandled the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe has for years been fraught with waste and fraud. In five years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency poured at least $330 million into communities that were spared the devastating effects of fires, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, an investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has found. Taxpayers' money meant to help victims recover from catastrophes has instead gone to people in communities that suffered little or no damage, including . . .
Sally Kestin, "FEMA Battered by Waste, Fraud:  After some recent disasters, money poured into areas that suffered little or no damage," South Florida Sun-Sentinel, September 18 2005 ---
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/college/la-na-fema18sep18,0,1386746.story



Vive la Difference
Author unknown (at least to me)

Race, class and gender:  Gender differences debunked
The theory that "men are from Mars and women from Venus" is a myth, according to new research. Psychologists in the US have found that the two sexes are far more similar than we have been led to believe. And they say the stereotype may be hampering both sexes in their personal and professional lives. The best-selling 1993 self-help book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus suggests that better communication between the sexes can be promoted by conceiving of them as coming from different planets, with different behaviour and value systems. But researchers from the University of Wisconsin reviewed 46 studies conducted during the last 20 years looking at gender differences. They say the idea that men and women are so psychologically distant has been vastly overestimated in the media, and that they are in fact more similar in personality, communication, mental skills and leadership than has been realised.
Jonathan Lessware, "Gender theory brought back to earth," Scottsman, September 19, 2005 --- http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=1960102005


Race, class, and gender:  Class hypocrisy among professors
“Though academics are good at theorizing class when it happens to other people,” as Hayot puts it, “in my experience they’re not great at explaining or even seeing it as it operates in their own world.... Class in the American university is a subject that fades continually into the background, like a photograph that wishes incessantly the return to its condition as unmarked, unfixed film.”
Scott McClemee, "Class Dismissed, Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/20/mclemee
 


That N-word on campus
Bob Jensen's threads about hypocrisy in academia the media are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisy.htm
I especially complained about cartoonist depictions of Condoleezza Rice.

"Explosion Over the N-Word," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/20/florida

When Kanye West blasted President Bush’s treatment of poor black people in New Orleans after Katrina hit, the rapper unintentionally set off a hurricane of words in Florida.

The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper, ran a cartoon last week that criticized West’s statements by showing him holding a large playing card marked “The Race Card,” and having Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, exclaim with scorn at West: “Nigga Please!” Since the cartoon ran, there have been multiple rallies against the student newspaper, with the latest drawing several hundred on Monday; the president of the university and other senior officials have condemned the cartoon and called on the paper to apologize for it; and there have been reports that students reading the paper on campus have had other students come up and grab the paper away from them, saying that it is racist.

In a statement published in the newspaper, Bernie Machen, Florida’s president, said of the cartoon, “Such depictions reinforce hurtful and damaging stereotypes. They poison the ongoing struggle to overcome the racial barriers that divide our country, and give comfort to bigots who seek affirmation for their racism.” He added that he and many students and faculty members were “disgusted by the image and discouraged that such an insensitive cartoon could be published in a newspaper that, while independent from the university, is written and edited by UF students.”

The newspaper is holding its ground and refusing to apologize. In fact, it is going on the offensive, calling many of its critics hypocrites. An editorial published Monday noted that the university has invited West and numerous other performers to its campus, paying them tens of thousands of dollars — even though they use various forms of the n-word in their work.

In addition, the editorial noted that some of the students who are leading attacks on the paper use forms of the n-word in their profiles on Facebook, the popular Web site with which college students meet others and stay in touch with their friends. Many black students at Florida, the editorial said, are members of a group called “N*ggas That Pledge.”

Mike Gimignani, editor of the paper, said in an interview Monday that the university was using “double standards” to criticize the paper. Editorial cartoons need to be short and to the point, and good cartoons get people talking and thinking, he said, adding that this one succeeded. “I would run it again tomorrow,” he said.

 


It seems more likely that the New Orleans police officers themselves were hiding it?
It was like a modern-day treasure map: a computerised diagram of neighbourhoods with codes marking the addresses where US National Guard soldiers discovered caches of goods taken by looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "There's probably still loot out there," said Capt. Gregg McGowan. "We're not going house to house looking for it, but if we find it, we secure it so police can check it." In the chaos that followed Katrina's flooding, looters targeted everything from grocery stores to gun shops to trendy women's clothing boutiques.
"Katrina's hidden loot," News24.com, September 19, 2005 ---
http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1772966,00.html


Divorce Myths Versus Facts (from a sociology professor)

"Debunking Divorce Myths," by David Popenoe, Discovery Heath, September 15, 2005 --- http://health.discovery.com/centers/loverelationships/articles/divorce.html

Fact: Divorce rates are rising.

Fact: Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

Fact: There are ten myths of divorce.

Divorce Myth 1: Because people learn from their bad experiences, second marriages tend to be more successful than first marriages.

Fact: Although many people who divorce have successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of remarriages is in fact higher than that of first marriages.

Divorce Myth 2: Living together before marriage is a good way to reduce the chances of eventually divorcing.

Fact: Many studies have found that those who live together before marriage have a considerably higher chance of eventually divorcing. The reasons for this are not well understood. In part, the type of people who are willing to cohabit may also be those who are more willing to divorce. There is some evidence that the act of cohabitation itself generates attitudes in people that are more conducive to divorce, for example the attitude that relationships are temporary and easily can be ended.

Divorce Myth 3: Divorce may cause problems for many of the children who are affected by it, but by and large these problems are not long lasting and the children recover relatively quickly.

Fact: Divorce increases the risk of interpersonal problems in children. There is evidence, both from small qualitative studies and from large-scale, long-term empirical studies, that many of these problems are long lasting. In fact, they may even become worse in adulthood.

Divorce Myth 4: Having a child together will help a couple to improve their marital satisfaction and prevent a divorce.

Fact: Many studies have shown that the most stressful time in a marriage is after the first child is born. Couples who have a child together have a slightly decreased risk of divorce compared to couples without children, but the decreased risk is far less than it used to be when parents with marital problems were more likely to stay together "for the sake of the children."

Divorce Myth 5: Following divorce, the woman's standard of living plummets by 73 percent while that of the man's improves by 42 percent.

Fact: This dramatic inequity, one of the most widely publicized statistics from the social sciences, was later found to be based on a faulty calculation. A reanalysis of the data determined that the woman's loss was 27 percent while the man's gain was 10 percent. Irrespective of the magnitude of the differences, the gender gap is real and seems not to have narrowed much in recent decades.

Divorce Myth 6: When parents don't get along, children are better off if their parents divorce than if they stay together.

Fact: A recent large-scale, long-term study suggests otherwise. While it found that parents' marital unhappiness and discord have a broad negative impact on virtually every dimension of their children's well-being, so does the fact of going through a divorce. In examining the negative impacts on children more closely, the study discovered that it was only the children in very high-conflict homes who benefited from the conflict removal that divorce may bring. In lower-conflict marriages that end in divorce — and the study found that perhaps as many as two thirds of the divorces were of this type — the situation of the children was made much worse following a divorce. Based on the findings of this study, therefore, except in the minority of high-conflict marriages it is better for the children if their parents stay together and work out their problems than if they divorce.

Divorce Myth 7: Because they are more cautious in entering marital relationships and also have a strong determination to avoid the possibility of divorce, children who grow up in a home broken by divorce tend to have as much success in their own marriages as those from intact homes.

Fact: Marriages of the children of divorce actually have a much higher rate of divorce than the marriages of children from intact families. A major reason for this, according to a recent study, is that children learn about marital commitment or permanence by observing their parents. In the children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a lifelong marriage has been undermined.

Divorce Myth 8: Following divorce, the children involved are better off in stepfamilies than in single-parent families.

Fact: The evidence suggests that stepfamilies are no improvement over single-parent families, even though typically income levels are higher and there is a father figure in the home. Stepfamilies tend to have their own set of problems, including interpersonal conflicts with new parent figures and a very high risk of family breakup.

Divorce Myth 9: Being very unhappy at certain points in a marriage is a good sign that the marriage will eventually end in divorce.

Fact: All marriages have their ups and downs. Recent research using a large national sample found that 86 percent of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980s, and stayed with the marriage, indicated when interviewed five years later that they were happier. Indeed, three fifths of the formerly unhappily married couples rated their marriages as either "very happy" or "quite happy."

Divorce Myth 10: It is usually men who initiate divorce proceedings.

Fact: Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower. Also, the higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be "badly behaved." Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.

Copyright 2002 by David Popenoe, the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

David Popenoe is professor of sociology at Rutgers University, where he is also co-director of the National Marriage Project and former social and behavioral sciences dean. He specializes in the study of family and community life in modern societies and is the author or editor of nine books. His most recent books are Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society and Promises to Keep: Decline and Renewal of Marriage in America.


Divorce:  The problem more likely than not is money rather than sex
The annual cost of owning, not the price of the house itself, is what homebuyers should (and do) consider when contemplating a purchase. And when comparing the cost of owning with annual rent or annual income -- which is a good way of determining whether house prices are out of whack in relation to the rental market or families' ability to pay -- annual cost is the right measure to use. That cost is simply the net cash outflow required to own a house for a year -- namely, the after-tax cost of financing the purchase price either by borrowing or through the lost risk-adjusted return on the equity tied up in the house, plus carrying costs such as maintenance and economic depreciation -- less the expected appreciation on the property.
Chris Mayer and Todd Sinai, "Bubble Trouble? Not Likely," The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2005; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112708454245544394,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


Divorce:  Go to the boutiques to shop for a lover after your divorce
Online social networking is moving from the dating warehouses found on sites like Yahoo and Match.com to boutiques where people can find companions with similar interests. Sites aimed at all types of people from animal lovers and cowboys to boat enthusiasts are popping up all over the Internet. These emerging niches, according to a story on today's InternetWeek, are part of an overall market that's becoming big business—$473 million last year.
InternetWeek Newsletter, September 19, 2005


It's going to be a close shave:  Gillette's new five-blade wonder
Yet there's good reason to believe Fusion can repeat Mach history. For starters, it offers compelling technology. Like Mach3, it incorporates multiple innovations -- not just more blades. By spacing the blades 30% closer than before, Gillette says it has created a new "shaving surface" that reduces irritation. Fusion also features a smoother coating on its blades, and an enhanced "Lubrastrip" infused with vitamin E and aloe. As it goes head to head with Schick, Gillette maintains that the combination of these improvements produces a shaving experience that most men find significantly superior. Peter Hoffman, president of Gillette's Blades & Razors Div., says Fusion was tested on some 9,000 men, who compared it to both Mach3 products and Quattro. "They preferred Fusion by a 2-to-1 margin over its rivals," says Hoffman. That's the same kind of overwhelming preference men showed for Mach3 over its rivals back in 1998.
William C. Symonds, "Gillette's Five-Blade Wonder," Business Week, September 15, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/NewRazor
Jensen Comment:  Can you imagine the shelf space stores must now take up with refills from the past four decades of different types of blade razors from multiple companies?


Tiresome articles (she's written at least two) about gender differences in bitching
that I just don't think exist in my university:  We have equal opportunity bitching here,
and I haven't yet discovered the "Golden Boys" on our campus.
Despite our sexually progressive campus, bitches must be women, and golden boys will be boys. Good soldiers alone promise equal access to all. Bitches and golden boys needn’t work very hard to earn their titles. Often, the die is cast before heels or oxfords touch down on sod. A woman, rumor has it, might have asked for too much start-up money upon receiving her offer. Golden boy status is often earned far, far earlier — frequently, birth, does the trick. While many bitches belie the canine etymology of their label — many of our local brood are quite stunning — for men, being golden often means, well, being golden. And tall.
"Bitches, Good Soldiers and Golden Boys," Inside Higher Ed, January 19, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/19/haberle

Is she from Mars?  I don't think my liberal arts college would sanction a men's caucus?
"The Quotidian Miasma of Discrimination," by "Phyllis Barone," " Inside Higher Ed, August 17, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/08/17/barone


Brown University discovers the real meaning of diversity by hiring a particular African American
Loury, an economist who doesn’t like the way he is tagged by some as a conservative, freely acknowledges that he stands out as a black scholar who rejects some views that are widely held among black scholars. For example, Loury has questioned the value of affirmative action. So where is Loury now? He has moved to Brown University, an institution frequently mocked and attacked by conservatives for being politically correct. Loury says that his move may suggest that he and his new university both may not be what others assume.
"A Less Leftist Brown," Inside Higher Ed, September 16, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/16/brown


From Brown University
Radical America
(Metadata and Magazine) ---  http://dl.lib.brown.edu/radicalamerica/index.html 



How sad that more can't be done for cities worse off than New Orleans

Detroit:  America's worst junk yard
Like Eminem, Paul Clemens is white. But unlike Eminem, Mr. Clemens grew up inside the city itself, not in its suburbs. "Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir" (Doubleday, 244 pages, $23.95) is an insightful but ultimately despairing tale of coming of age in one of America's tougher cities. "By the time I was born," asserts Mr. Clemens, "civilization surrounded the city and the Wild West lawlessness was contained within." . . . Not surprisingly, Mr. Clemens tends to see Detroit's recent history as an indicator of what may lie ahead for American society as a whole. "Whites, a minority in Detroit for many decades now, may some decades hence become a national minority," he writes. "The Motor City, as ever, remains ahead of the racial curve -- a case study, or cautionary tale." No doubt Detroit is a cautionary tale, though of exactly what is harder to say. For one thing, the city's decline began well before Coleman Young. Nearly two million people lived in Detroit at its postwar peak; the population had already declined to 1.5 million by 1970. (The latest Census estimate is less than 900,000.)
Tom Bray, "Running on Empty," The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2005; Page D8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112716634130345377,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
Detroit has surpassed Cleveland as the nation's most impoverished big city, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
Survey figures released Tuesday show 33.6 percent - more than one-third - of Detroit's residents lived at or below the federal poverty line in 2004, the largest percentage of any U.S. city of 250,000 or more people. The top five were Detroit; El Paso, Texas (28.8 percent); Miami (28.3 percent); Newark, N.J. (28.1 percent); and Atlanta (27.8 percent). Detroit has lost about half its population since a half-century ago. It is now the country's 11th largest city with just over 900,000 residents. Cleveland, which was No. 1 in 2003, dropped to No. 12 as the percentage of its residents living in poverty fell from 31.3 percent to 23.2 percent. The poverty threshold differs by the size and makeup of a household. A family of four with two children was considered living in poverty if their income was $19,157 or less. For a family of two with no children, it was $12,649. It was $9,060 for a person 65 or over who was living alone. Nearly half of Detroit's children under age 18 are impoverished, according to the survey. With 47.8 percent of its children living in poverty, Detroit trailed only Atlanta (48.1 percent) among the largest cities.
"Detroit now ranks as nation's poorest big city," Free Republic, August 31, 2005 ---
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1473961/posts 

Jensen Comment:
New Orleans (before the Katrina disaster) in 2004 ranked low in household income at 62 out of 70 cities ranked.  However, well over half the families in New Orleans earned enough to pay income taxes on earnings.

The rankings for 2004 are at http://snipurl.com/ACS2004
The rankings for 2003 are at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Products/Ranking/2003/R07T160.htm

See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/

 

Students under stress in Canada
Canadian students are smoking fewer cigarettes than they were six years ago but the effects of binge drinking and the prevalence of psychological stress are high and worrisome, according to the 2004 Canadian Campus Survey.
Inside Higher Ed, September 16, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/16/qt
Jensen Comment:  Because of the way students preparing to become Chartered Accountants must combine work experience with a series of rugged examinations, I sense that many of those students are particularly stressed, especially in graduate school.  I doubt that any of them have time for cocktails let alone binge drinking.


Should our students seriously study foreign languages?
Our colleges and universities encourage study abroad, develop internationalization initiatives, and welcome international students, but American students and faculty flee from the serious study of languages other than English. We teach the literature of our international trading partners in translation because so few of our students can read anything of substance in someone else’s language. And, as we usually do in American academic circles, we worry about all this a lot.
John Lombardi, "Should Our Students Study Chinese?" Inside Higher Ed, September 16, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/16/lombardi


The Institute for Higher Education Policy --- http://www.ihep.org/

The mission of the Institute for Higher Education Policy is to foster access and success in postsecondary education through public policy research and other activities that inform and influence the policymaking process.


This U.N Document is "is still a remarkable expression of world unity"
The "outcome document" adopted last Friday at the end of the United Nations world summit has been described as "disappointing" or "watered down." This is true in part -- and I said as much in my own speech to the summit on Wednesday. But taken as a whole, the document is still a remarkable expression of world unity on a wide range of issues. And that came as welcome news, after weeks of tense negotiations. As late as last Tuesday morning, when world leaders were already arriving in New York, there were still 140 disagreements involving 27 unresolved issues. A final burst of take-it-or-leave-it diplomacy allowed the document to be finalized, but so late in the day that reporters and commentators had no time to analyze the full text before passing judgment. It is no criticism of them to say that many of their judgments are now being revised, or at least nuanced.
Kofi A. Annan, "A Glass at Least Half-Full," The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2005; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112708454142944392,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


Tyco Fraud Update

First a quote from 2004
PricewaterhouseCoopers also fell prone to faulty risk assessments. In July, the SEC forced Tyco, the industrial conglomerate, to restate its profits, which it inflated by $1.15 billion, pretax, from 1998 to 2001. The next month, the SEC barred the lead partner on the firm's Tyco audits from auditing publicly registered companies. His alleged offense: fraudulently representing to investors that his firm had conducted a proper audit. The SEC in its complaint said that the auditor, Richard Scalzo, who settled without admitting or denying the allegations, saw warning signs about top Tyco executives' integrity but never expanded his team's audit procedures.

"Behind Wave of Corporate Fraud: A Change in How Auditors Work:  'Risk Based' Model Narrowed Focus of Their Procedures, Leaving Room for Trouble,' " by Jonathan Weil, The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2004, Page A1
You can read a longer part of the above article at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#PwC


Jensen Comment:
Dennis Kozlowski is eligible for parole in eight years on a 25-year sentence.  This is far too lenient and once again shows how white collar crime is punished much too lightly --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#CrimePays
But at least Dennis is not going to do his 8/25 in Club Fed (of course in Club Fed he would probably not get such an early parole opportunity.

"Tyco Endgame," The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2005; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112718329059445833,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

There aren't any $6,000 shower curtains in New York state prisons, where Tyco felons Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz will be enjoying all or part of the next 25 years. The former CEO and CFO were sentenced yesterday for their roles in looting $600 million from their company and paying off one or more directors to avert their eyes. They won't become eligible for parole until about seven years.

Thus concludes one of the sorrier chapters in U.S. business history. And while it took a while -- the first Tyco trial ended in mistrial -- the outcome strikes us as just. Not because of their greed -- there's no law against lavish living yet -- but because of their crimes. Messrs. Kozlowski and Swartz were convicted in June on 22 counts of grand larceny and conspiracy. The verdicts were a victory for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who last week survived a tough primary challenge.

Of all the fin de sičcle corporate scandals, the Tyco heist has always seemed the most audacious, a case of stealing money in plain sight. If you want to liven up the conversation at a business lunch, mention former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Chairman Ken Lay and whether they were complicit in the fraud for which several former executives have been convicted. There are still those who believe former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was unaware of the fraud that was taking place under his nose, despite his conviction. The Tyco scandal didn't inspire such ambiguities.

Messrs. Kozlowski and Swartz aren't headed for Club Fed by the way; under New York correctional policy, criminals with their sentences usually serve their time in maximum-security prisons. In addition, they were ordered to pay restitution and fines of $175 million. A case of justice in plain sight.

Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on Tyco can be found in various places at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm 


Enron/Andersen Fraud Update

September 15, 2005 message from Andrew Priest

Just wondering if anyone has seen this movie/documentary? Interested in feedback and if it is a good teaching tool?

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (M)

Directed by Alex Gibney, this is the inside story of one of history’s greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America’s 7th largest company walked away with over one billion dollars while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best-selling book The Smartest Guys in the Room by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind and featuring insider accounts and incendiary corporate audio and videotapes, Gibney reveals the almost unimaginable personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy. The film comes to a harrowing end as we hear Enron traders’ own voices as they wring hundreds of millions of dollars in profits out of the California energy crisis. As a result, we come to understand how the avarice of Enron’s traders and their bosses had a shocking and profound domino effect that may shape the face of our economy for years to come. [M] 109 mins. <http:// www.enronmovie.com>.

Regards
Andrew Priest

September 15, 2005 reply from Heidemarie Lundblad [lundblad@GTE.NET]

The movie is entertaining and factual. It has reduced some of the complex issues to make the subject more accessible to people not familiar with things such as derivatives, SPEs, etc. I liked it. Particularly, since it includes the video clip of Jeff skilling's Titanic joke. As a resident of California I took it the rip-off of California electicity users by Enron (and others) personally. It has been argued that the movie is too "left". However, i am not sure how one can ignore the close political ties of Enron and the current administration.

Heidemarie Lundblad

September 16, 2005 reply from Miklos Vasarhelyi [miklosv@andromeda.rutgers.edu]

I have seen the film in its opening in new york. i have been involved with a "cooking the books" course for a long time and was wondering about its educational value.... my conclusion was that the film really did not deal with any accounting issues as the movie makers did not understand them and in certain parts they were very sensationalistic and unfair to the parties involved...

however i always recommend my students to see the film as it raises awareness of many things.

miklos

September 18, 2005 reply from John Schatzel [jschatzel@STONEHILL.EDU]

The correct site is www.netflix.com  (for the Enron DVD) - just type the name of the movie in the search box and it apparently is available.

I saw the movie this summer. I went into it with an open mind and left feeling like I learned a few more details about the situation or whatever spin one wants to put on it. I figured it would be critical of the people who ran the company and it was. The movie was not geared toward an audience of accountants. They even said toward the beginning that this was a story about the people. It could be called the Lemony Snickets of accounting and a series of unfortunate events. If you are on the lookout for good stuff to add to your course, the "biggest" problem with the movie is that it's two hours long and I don't see how one would easily fit it into an accounting or auditing course. The second problem is that its not available on DVD yet (or at least it wasn't in August or I would have just purchased it The book is available.). DVDs are cheap so it's certainly worth a rental (if you can find one) or a purchase. I teach an advanced auditing course, which covers a number of cases including ZZZZ Best, Regina, ESM, and Enron. I use the "Cooking the Books" video as well because the clips on ZZZZ Best, Regina, and ESM are short and they are interesting. Even if the "Smartest Guys" video were available, I think you could only show a few parts of it and those parts would be mostly examples of ethical matters or the perils of executive management. It's certainly worth a look, but think it will take a lot of thinking to figure out how to use.

Prof. John Schatzel
Stonehill College

 

September 16, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Actually, the most factual account that I’ve seen is the recent book:
Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of Fools:  A True Study, (Broadway Books, 2005).

This book is very long and in some parts is very dreary with fact after fact.  Although Kurt Eichenwald’s a New York Times liberal who would love to play up the role Republican leaders played in Enron’s crimes, their direct roles are virtually non-existent except for Senator Gramm and his wife Wendy.  And even in the case of Phil Gramm, it seems likely that he was legislating on free market dogma rather than his own get rich crimes.  I think I was overly tough on Wendy, who served on Enron’s Board, in my early account of the Enron scandals at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm
In any case, Wendy should’ve never been allowed to serve on Enron’s board given her former government executive position in energy regulation and her marriage to a powerful senator whose voting directly impacted on Enron’s future.

Enron’s Board of Directors is less criminal than many of us thought.  They were certainly not competent, and Fastow, Skilling, and Lay were really, really good at serving up cooked accounting books for Enron’s Board.  Ken Lay comes off better than expected in terms of not being a vile crook, and even Jeff Skilling is duped (I think in most instances because he just plain didn’t want to listen to McMahan and other whistle blowers).  The CEO at the very top, Ken Lay, focused to a fault on external relations with politicians and customers.  He showed almost no interest in looking inward at his company even when criminality clues were thrown in his face.  Lay and Skilling were like the parents who never ask why somebody else's blood is smeared all over the clothes of their son.

Everybody was afraid of Andy (is that Adolph?) Fastow, including his bosses Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay.  Literally everybody in Enron who dealt with Andy considered him a scheming little prick.  They just did not realize he was skimming off $60 million in hidden "management" fees for managing off-balance sheet SPE funds for which he'd promised Enron's Board that there would be no fees to him since he was being paid to be the CFO of Enron.  Herr Fastow channeled most of these ill-gotten fees through Michael Kopper or Kopper's secret gay lover who nobody knew anything about. 

The book details how Fastow and Kopper were the dastardly co-conspirators who stole from Enron itself in a series of high crimes, especially in their outright fraudulent JME-fund SPEs intended to hedge Enron's share prices.  Instead, the cash was skimmed off or squandered with ineptitude and replaced with Enron shares themselves.  It's impossible to hedge a company's equity share values by holding the shares themselves.  That's what Sherron Watkins meant, in her whistle blowing memo to Ken Lay, when she asserted "there's no skin in these funds."

Their schemes worked with unbelievable luck and lies, because both Fastow and Kopper come off as also being unbelievably and arrogantly stupid and foolhardy “conspiring fools.”  There were inquiries over time from several executives within Enron, but Fastow always steered them off by threatening their year-end bonuses if they tried to investigate Fastow's domain of over 3,000 off-book SPE funds.  Even Fastow's worst enemies buckled at the mere hint of reducing their compensation.  Greed ruled over ethics everywhere in Enron.

Financial institutions (Merrill Lynch, Citibank, etc) who participated in Fastow’s schemes were sometimes duped by and heavily pressured by Fastow.  In a few instances it appears they went along with what they knew to be unscrupulous dealings by Andy Fastow.  Like Enron's auditing firm Andersen, these financial institutions just did not want to lose Enron as a client since Enron gave them so much business.  As CFO of Enron, Fastow had the power to give them business or take it away.

There were also outright criminals in the energy trading side of Enron, but Fastow was not particularly involved in those crimes of market manipulation of energy prices.  Enron was an incredibly complex conglomerate with business ventures that really did not do much communicating with one another.

When Enron's finances were caving in just before declaring bankruptcy, virtually all the top executives turned covertly criminal by sneaking $200 million (about all that was left in cash) into an obscure bank and writing themselves generous bonuses on cashiers checks.  I say "virtually all" because it is not clear the the executives at the very top were involved in the bonus scam.  Before then Skilling had resigned and Fastow was fired by the Board of Directors.  Members of the Board  had no knowledge of these self-declared executive bonuses.  And Ken Lay never seemed to know anything about anything except where the next dinner parties were scheduled in Washington DC.

I’ve not yet finished with the book, but it would seem that Fastow and Kopper got off way too light in retrospect.  Fastow should get life in prison without parole.  Kopper should sit in the same cell for 35 years, and some of the energy traders should be in cells across the hallway.  Lay, Skilling, and most other Enron executives should be stripped of their entire fortunes, but I don’t think they deserve prison time.  Some would argue about where the buck stops, but I’m more inclined to ask where it starts in the case of Enron.  The worst crimes, and there were many, lead back to Fastow, his stooge Kopper, and the traders who delighted in stealing from state treasuries, especially from California. Oregon, and Washington.

If you care to know what Enron officials (the Cast of Characters) received in stock sales, you can see a listing at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#StockSales
An obscure and incompetent trading executive named Lou Pai is the biggest winner (over $270 million) but that was sheer luck because he got a divorce long before Enron's share prices plunged.  He didn't particularly want to sell at that time, but when he got a strip tease dancer pregnant Lou's wife demanded a cash settlement in the divorce.  That turned out to be the luckiest timing in her life or his life.  I don't know how much the dancer got in the end.

What's clear is that Enron had way too many unethical and unbelievably incompetent executives (“fools”) like Rebecca Mack who kept throwing billions after badly invested billions and took most of her pleasures in life in corporate jets and luxury hotels.  She was a very high level executive in charge of all international operations, including huge electricity and water generating plant constructions and operations.  Skilling and Lay never could teach her the simple fact that the Return on Investment (ROI) ratio has a denominator.  Up to the very end when Skilling fired her (too long after her billions in damages), she kept screaming “look at the numbers” where the numbers she presented were only based on the ROI numerator.

It’s entirely clear at last that literally every Enron executive considered accounting and banking games in which the only goal was to manage earnings and otherwise cook the books.  Andersen’s managing partner, David Duncan, comes out very badly in this book.  He ceased being an auditor and turned into an ardent advocate of Enron book-cooking, especially when it came to making presentations to good Andersen auditors like Carl Bass.  Bass is a hero (well only sort of because he could’ve been more forceful at Andersen’s headquarters), and Duncan is what we least want in our auditors --- ever! 

Duncan didn’t want to give up the Andersen Houston Office’s $1 million per week billings from Enron no matter how burned up (from cooking) the books became.  Duncan is also portrayed as an accounting light weight who spent far more time on the golf course than in his office.  Duncan should also have a cell near Fastow, but Duncan will probably get off because after being arrested he helped nail Fastow, Skilling, and Lay. 

It must be sad for David Duncan to live with the fact that he was the lynch pin that brought down the huge worldwide Andersen auditing and consulting firm.  But Andersen probably would’ve toppled anyway.  Andersen’s top executives gave up total quality management (TQM) of audits (e.g., in Waste Management, Worldcom, etc) long before Enron’s implosion.  Looking back at the deterioration in audit quality in Andersen, Andersen deserved to die as an auditing firm.

Bob Jensen (with more to come on the Enron saga)

Bob Jensen’s on-going threads on Enron are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm


If you think a gallon of gasoline or heating oil is expensive, think of how cheap it is to make a gallon of soda (a little sweetener mixed with a lot of water) or beer (mostly fermented water) relative to what it takes to get oil deep from out of the ground and put it through a very complex and possibly explosive refining process.  And you're still willing to pay more for a gallon of Coke or Miller Lite or even bottled spring water without protesting?
Bob Jensen
Think about it while, for a moment, not letting your disdain for oil company executives and Middle Easter sheiks overtake your reasoning.!

What happens when the oil tanks are empty?
Prophets have been warning Americans of the terrible things in store for decades, but Kunstler joins a fresh corps whose numbers seem to have been increasing as quickly as the price of gas. The past two years have seen books with titles like Paul Roberts's The End of Oil, Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over, Tom Mast's Over a Barrel, and David Goodstein's Out of Gas and a film called The End of Suburbia by Gregory Greene, to name a few, and to leave out their long and unsettling subtitles, most of which approximate Roberts's choice, which is On the Edge of a Perilous New World. These authors may someday join the ranks of the dated alarmists--Jeremy Rifkin, among countless others, issued similar warnings in Entropy in 1980--but then again, they may be right. One may demonstrate that the alarm rings too often and too soon, but that does not mean that danger will never come. Kunstler's predictions may seem excessively dire to many, but a significant number of people are paying attention and getting ready. His book has been hovering in the top 1,000 on Amazon.com for months, and the topic of peak oil has gained traction beyond the encouraging environment of the Internet. In the past 18 months, 82 groups with about 2,000 registered members in cities around the world have been organized through Meetup.com to discuss the issue. At a recent meeting of the 100-member New York forum, participants were quoting Kunstler repeatedly--during, for instance, a discussion of where to move after the crash.
Bryant Urstadt, "The Get-Ready Men," MIT's Technology Review, October 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/10/issue/review_ready.asp?trk=nl 

Solutions Scenario
A growing, influential body of writers believes that the exhaustion of cheap oil will be disastrous. In this issue, we take a look at The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, by James Howard Kunstler. The author, a novelist and journalist who has written for the Atlantic and Rolling Stone, writes that we will fall into "an abyss of economic and social disorder on a scale that no one has seen before." Are he and his fellow doomsayers right? Hardly. To agree with Kunstler is to believe that alternative sources of energy cannot replace oil. This means dismissing the combined powers of natural gas, solar power, wind, coal, hydroelectric, biomass, and nuclear power. Doomsayers argue that these alternatives are a "mirage," as Kunstler puts it, because they will never produce as much energy as cheaply as oil. But that assumes we will not devise ways to use energy more efficiently. It also ignores the rapid progress in improving energy technologies, particularly in solar, wind, and nuclear power.
"Solutions Scenario," MIT's Technology Review, October 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/10/issue/readme_solutions.asp?trk=nl


"Jackson Action," by Charlie Ross, The Wall Street Journal,  September 15, 2005; Page A21 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112675449038241518,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

Prior to the legislation, Mississippi was known as the "jackpot justice capital of America." The American Tort Reform Association had labeled certain jurisdictions "judicial hellholes." A survey of more than 1,200 senior in-house counsels for the U.S. Chamber Commerce ranked Mississippi 50th in virtually every category of judicial system nationwide. Insurance companies were fleeing the state. Others were refusing to write new policies. The medical field was particularly strained: Liability insurance was in many cases unaffordable, and in some cases unavailable.

One year later, the story is very different. Mass Mutual Insurance Group, St. Paul Travelers, World Insurance Co. and Equitable Life Insurance Co. are returning to Mississippi. State Farm Insurance eased its growth restrictions for homeowners' insurance and lowered its rates on property insurance.

The Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, which writes 60% of the medical malpractice coverage for doctors in the state, had raised its rates 20% the year prior to the tort reform legislation. After its passage, MACM did not raise its rates at all. "Those people who said tort reform would not work and actively fought any civil justice reform," Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said. "I think this indicates they were wrong." MACM also recently announced an end to its moratorium on new business; it also just declared it will cut its rates for 2006.

Continued in the article


Exploratorium: Science of Gardening --- http://www.exploratorium.edu/gardening/index.html 


Cleaning out the Vatican's unwanted
The Vatican has ordered investigators to look for gay students and faculty members at Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States, The New York Times reported. The investigators have also been asked to look for faculty members who dissent on church teachings.
Inside Higher Ed, September 15, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/15/qt

An Unwanted the Vatican Overlooked
The Catholic Diocese of Austin is investigating after a priest called about 15 children to come forward during evening Mass so he could prick them with an unsterilized pin to demonstrate the pain Jesus suffered during crucifixion. "What I was trying to teach them is that suffering is a part of life," said the Rev. Arthur Michalka, 78, on Friday.
"Priest Pricks Children With Pin," CBS News, September 17


How can you play 70 games of baseball, half of which are out of town, and pretend to go to class?
"The Brutal Truth about College Sports," by Skip Rozin, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005; Page D7 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112673590440041002,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

Big time college sports are a mess. While headlines hype the new football season and speculate on an eventual champion, accounts surface daily of athletes' stealing, assaulting women and getting busted on alcohol and drug charges. And when a title game is played, shadowing the coverage will be news of woeful graduation rates.

Meanwhile, the juggernaut that is college sports keeps getting bigger, with more television networks airing more games, not just on weekends but during the week, and colleges expanding their seasons to meet TV's unquenchable thirst -- up to 40 games each basketball season and 70 in baseball.

. . .

College sports' current crisis has generated unprecedented reform efforts by groups inside and outside the establishment. The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics and the 16-year-old Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletes, for example, both work in cooperation with the NCAA. The Drake Group has bypassed the NCAA; its plan for full disclosure of all classes taken by athletes was read into the Congressional Record in March by Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky in hopes of getting Congress involved.

Their combined efforts have netted tougher NCAA academic requirements, but reform energy still gets bogged down in issues like the political correctness of team names. Substantive improvement has been minimal. The system is broken, and the impact is far reaching.

"The transgressions that universities commit in the name of winning sports undermine the values of the institution," says Derek Bok, former president of Harvard. "In all too many cases, they tarnish the reputation of the university by compromising its admissions standards, its grading practices, and the academic integrity of its curriculum."

To create winning teams, reformers believe, universities break rules on training, on the allocation of funds to athletics, and most frequently on athletes' eligibility. Deception begins early, when schools recruit sports prodigies who are ill-equipped -- or uninterested -- in academics. Popular rhetoric maintains that these students are preparing for pro careers, just as medical students are training to be doctors. This is naďve thinking. The best 1% to 3% may become professionals, but far too many of the rest are left with no degree and a clouded future.

"The biggest problem is recruiting fine athletes who should not be in college," says Andy Geiger, who retired this summer as Ohio State's athletic director after 11 years that included a national football championship and scandals in football and basketball. "Do we really want a gifted athlete at our school for any reason other than our own gain? Are we only in it to use these kids and then spit them out?"

At the core of the college sports problem is an obsession with winning. Winning is admittedly the goal in all competitions and is a treasured American characteristic, but universities are supposed to live by different standards from those that govern big business, the New York Yankees, or war.

Continued in article

September 15, 2005 reply from Carol Flowers [cflowers@OCC.CCCD.EDU]

Having gone through this with a son in sports, I find the whole thing a joke. I applauded the requirement of 12 units of C to stay eligible. However, I didn't realize they are not at class most of the semester -- they seem to be at away games most of the time. Scholarship offers came with tutorial help (tutoring turns out to be all but non existent (not to mention that you need to be in the area for the tutor to tutor). Sports and education don't mix. I only observed one team whose coach I respected for trying to enforce eligilbility (after the ball game the athletes went to dinner, then had a mandatory study hall from 8-9 pm at away games). However, I questioned how much the students absorbed at that hour and after a big game and dinner!!! But, kudos to the coach for attempting to keep "education" in the college experience.

Carol

Jensen Comment

I think the problem lies heavily with professional sports team owners.

College is a free way that they can filter out the best athletes who are put to the test and dump the majority of others who just don’t quite cut it. It would be analogous to sending all young people to war and then making professional soldiers out of the ones that win medals.

I think sports are important to the physical and social development of young people as well as giving them confidence and pride. But I like the way Trinity does it in NCAA Division 3 where there are no athletic scholarships and athletes are not dreaming of professional contracts.

Bob Jensen

September 15, 2005 reply from Paul Williams

Carol, et al,

You have pointed out the real problem in college athletics for the athlete. Of course it is hypocritical for the Wall Street Journal to harumph about college sports. College athletics is big business increasingly funded and promoted by big business. At NC State we have completed a third phase of a four phase renovation of the football stadium -- total projected cost over $100 million dollars. It sits beside the RBC Center (named after a corporation), where the Wolfpack plays basketball (and the Carolina Hurricanes play hockey) -- total cost $170 million. When all is said and done, there will be $300 million dollars invested in two college sports. Both facilities are plastered with ads for corporations and the luxury seating (the biggest cost of the facilities) is rented by corporations for the purpose of entertaining clients. Major college sports are entertainment, merely a medium for advertising and corporate promotion. Wealthy alumni and the business community are the prime movers behind the enormous investment in athletic facilities and the prime providers of the money. The university goes along because it has Title IX obligations it must finance and the big revenue sports are what fund it. Women's la crosse does not generate time on ESPN. And before we bash Title IX, the explosion in women's participation in sports at the collegiate level indicates that all women lacked was opportunity. Women crave the opportunity to participate in sport. Women and the men in the minor sports play for the love of playing. No lucrative pro career awaits a woman or man playing la crosse, but they work as hard at it as any of the revenue players.

What to do for the athletes since no university administrator is going to say let's just scrap our $300 million investment in facilities -- the alumni would have their head. Let's just quit being hypocritical about the "student athlete." Much of the problem is the NCAA and its rules that have a rather Victorian smell to them. Trivial behavior is criminalized by the NCAA in a vain attempt to foster a prissy rectitude that has never existed in the history of humankind.

When Tiger Woods was still a college player at Stanford he played at Bay Hill in Florida. Arnold Palmer wanted to meet with him, took him to lunch in the grill room, picked up the tab for a burger and fries and voila put Arnie, Tiger and Stanford in violation of NCAA rules. The tab was less than $20. There is no longer the amateur athlete -- look who competes for the US during the Olympics. The problem for the athlete is being a student AND an athlete at the same time.

Why don't we face the reality of big time college athletics and take the pressure off of the athlete? During the season, let the athletes play their sports -- why do they have to be a students at the same time? Every sport can have a season that corresponds to one semester or another. Football is played during the fall semester and the bowl season ends before the start of the second semester. So football players play football in the fall and are full time students during spring and summer. Basketball doesn't need to start in November. It could start after final exams in the fall and, instead of March madness, we could have April madness. Basketball players would be students in fall and summer semesters. There is no sport whose season could not be accommodated to just one school term or another. If a student wanted to and could take classes during the season, then all well and good. But they shouldn't be made to take them.

As Bernie Sliger, president of FSU when I was there, harped on constantly, "The more successful the athletic program, the more money people give to academics." It may be a brutal truth about college athletics, but most of the brutality is absorbed by the athletes because of archaic notions of the "scholar/athlete." And we on the academic side benefit as well. Those athletes bring a lot of resources to us academics, too. Perhaps a lot of the "crimes" athletic programs commit could be alleviated if we let young people be a scholar sometime and an athlete sometime, but quite expecting them to be both.

Paul Williams

September 15, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Paul,

Well said about the new NCS Stadium. This reminds me of Rochester/Simon School's new investment in "games" intended to lift its US News MBA program ranking from 26th into the Top 10 or Top 5. Has the Wolfpack ever made it into the media's Top 5 in basketball or football? Perhaps your new $300 million investment will pay off --- if that's the real anticipated payoff.

Also, I think you just made my point when choosing the word "hypocritical" when the WSJ reported a position harmful of big business. The WSJ is really two newspapers wrapped into one, where one of those "papers" is allowed to roam free and call it like some very good reporters roaming about.

In my September 14 edition of Tidbits, I wrote the following --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2005/tidbits050914.htm

How can the media and professors achieve greater credibility?
You probably observed that I quote a lot from both The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and The New York Times (NYT).  Both have credibility in spite of their opposing biases on the editorial pages.  The WSJ is unapologetic in its biases for financial institutions and business enterprises.  And yet the WSJ is the best place to look for damning criticism of particular accounting firms, financial institutions, and corporations.  CEOs live in fear of WSJ reporters.  For example, when Enron was riding high, before the Watkins memo, WSJ reporters did some very clever investigations and wrote articles that commenced the slide of Enron share prices (particularly dogged reporters named John Emshwiller and Jonathan Weil).  The NYT sometimes has editorials that make me want to vomit.  But the Business Section of the NYT is one of the best places to go for balanced coverage of business and finance news.  

Certainly not all of my accounting professor friends agree with me about the WSJ.  David's Fordham's book length reply is just too long to paste in here.  Some others like Bobbi Lee agree with him.

Association of College and Research Libraries January 2004, Vol. 65, No. 1
Book Review Bok, Derek. Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Pr., 2003. 233p. alk. paper, $22.95 (ISBN 0691114129). LC 2002-29267.
http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/crljournal/crl2004/backjan2004/bokbookreview.htm 

Athletics is the first area subject to Bok’s critique. Candidly and mercilessly, he summarizes the ugly history of intercollegiate football—its failed promise to "build character," its unsupportable claim to have helped minorities achieve a high-quality education, and its grievous undermining of academic standards. Students whose academic achievement and potential would hardly qualify them for careers in any learned profession are not only routinely admitted to universities of every quality but are even turned into national celebrities. Looking at the revenue-generating sports, mainly football and basketball, Bok informs the reader that as of 2001, some thirty coaches were earning in excess of a million dollars annually, far more than most college and university presidents. Bok strongly focuses on the almost complete disconnect between athletic prowess and academic achievement. He builds a powerful indictment:

What can intercollegiate sports teach us about the hazards of commercialization? First of all, the saga of big-time athletics reveals that American universities, despite their lofty ideals, are not above sacrificing academic values—even values as basic as admission standards and the integrity of their courses—in order to make money.

Indeed, Bok reaches the conclusion, described by him as "melancholy," that through their athletic programs, "universities have compromised the most fundamental purpose of academic institutions."

Turning to his second area, scientific research, Bok maintains that the record has been no less dismal and the battles between the worlds of intellect and industry no less ruthless: Scientists have been prohibited from publishing (or even discussing at conferences) results unfavorable to their commercial sponsors’ marketing goals. Companies have punished universities by threatening to withhold promised financial support should scientists dare to publish data unfavorable to sponsors’ interests. Researchers have been threatened with lawsuits, even grievously defamed. Companies have imposed a militarylike secrecy upon faculty who work with them, severely edited scholars’ reports, and even had their own staffs write slanted drafts to which university researchers were expected to attach their names. By Bok’s account, some elements of the commercial sector merely look upon faculty and graduate students as company agents—virtual employees, hired guns—charged to produce a stream of research from which will follow a stream of revenue for their businesses. Bok’s charges are not vague hints; he cites prestigious institutions, names researchers whose careers were jeopardized or damaged by threats and personal attacks, and provides many poignant details.

In the third area, higher education itself, Bok outlines the temptations of easy money, ostensibly available via universities’ willingness, indeed eagerness, to use the income from distance education (both domestically and abroad) to finance programs only indirectly linked to higher education. Bok further suggests that some schools willingly exploit the Internet more for the money than for any possible social benefit.

"Is everything in a university for sale if the price is right?" asks the book jacket. Are universities now ready to accept advertising within physical facilities and curricula? Will they permit commercial enterprises to put company names on the stadium, team uniforms, campus shuttle buses, book jackets sold at the campus bookstore, plastic cups at food service points, or even on home pages? Will universities sell the names of entire schools as well as of buildings? Worse yet, will some schools be tempted to accept endowed professorships to which the sponsors seek to attach unacceptable or harmful restrictions and conditions? There appears to be no end to the opportunities.

To respond to these and similar troubling questions, Bok’s two concluding chapters lay out practical steps the academic community might consider to avoid sinking into a quagmire of commercialism in which the academy is sure to lose control of both its integrity and its autonomy. Throughout his work, Bok reminds his readers of the obvious, but sometimes camouflaged (or ignored), distinction between the academy and commerce: The mission of the former is to learn, that of the latter to earn. Conflict between these missions is inevitable, and should it disappear, the university as we know it also may vanish. We may not like what replaces it.



The proof is in the pressure to change grades:  Repeating the same frauds year after year in academe

Louisiana State University has settled a lawsuit by a former instructor who said that she was pressured to change the grades of football players, the Associated Press reported. No details of the settlement were released and the university denied wrongdoing. Last year, LSU settled a similar suit for $150,000.
Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/19/qt
 


Derek.Bock, Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Pr., 2003. 233p. alk. paper, $22.95 (ISBN 0691114129). LC 2002-29267.

In line with Bok's "Commercialization of Higher Education," a newer (2005) book explores the role of market forces in changing higher education — and the danger of market forces having too much influence
Three longtime observers of higher education explore the ways — positive and negative — that universities are changing in Remaking the American University (Rutgers University Press).  The authors are Robert Zemsky, a professor and chair of the Learning Alliance at the University of Pennsylvania; Gregory R. Wegner, director of program development at the Great Lakes Colleges Association; and William F. Massy, a professor emeritus of higher education at Stanford University and currently president of the Jackson Hole Higher Education Group. The three authors recently responded (jointly) to questions about their new book.
Scott Jaschik"Remaking the American University," Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/21/remaking

Q: Of the trends you examine, which ones are most worrisome to you?

A: What worries us most is that universities and colleges have become so preoccupied with succeeding in a world of markets that they too often forget the need to be places of public purpose as well. We are serious in arguing that universities and colleges must be both market smart and mission centered. Not surprisingly, then, we are troubled by how often today institutions allow their pursuit of market success to undermine core elements of their missions: becoming preoccupied with collegiate rankings, surrendering to an admissions arms race, chasing imagined fortunes through impulsive investments e-learning, or conferring so much importance on athletics as to alter the character of the academic community on campus.

By far the most troublesome consequence of markets displacing mission, though, is the reduced commitment of universities and colleges to the fulfillment of public purposes. More than ever before, these institutions are content to advance graduates merely in their private, individual capacities as workers and professionals. In the rush to achieve market success, what has fallen to the wayside for too many institutions is the concept of educating students as citizens — graduates who understand their obligations to contribute to the collective well-being as active participants in a free and deliberative society. In the race for private advantage, market success too often becomes a proxy for mission attainment.

Q: We’ve just come through rankings season, with U.S. News and others unveiling their lists. Do you have any hope for turning back the ratings game? Any ideas you would offer to college presidents who are fed up with it?

A: On this one there is no turning back — the rankings are here to stay. Two, frankly contradictory ideas are worth thinking about. First, university and college presidents should accept as fact that the rankings measure market position rather than quality. An institution’s ranking is essentially a predictor of the net price the institution can charge. The contrary idea is to make the rankings more about quality by having most institutions participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement and agree to have the results made public. Even then, we are not sure that prestige and market position would not trump student engagement.

Continued in article

Coach Takes the Test
More evidence that many universities are losing (or never had) quality control on athlete admissions and grading

The National Collegiate Athletic Association punished Texas Christian University’s men’s track program on Thursday for a set of rules violations that included some of the most egregious and unusual examples of academic fraud in recent history. They included an instance in which a former assistant coach took a final examination alongside a track athlete — with the consent of the faculty member in the course — and then swapped his version of the test with the athlete’s, allowing him to pass.
Doug Lederman, "NCAA Finds Fraud at TCU," Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/23/tcu

You can read more about quality control problems in college athletics at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#CollegeAthletics


In a speech Monday at Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, Dan Rather claimed there was a "new journalism order": politicians applying pressure to news conglomerates, "dumbed-down, tarted-up" news coverage, 24-hour cable competition and a "chase for rating and demographics" — all of which creates an "atmosphere of fear"
Dan Rather --- http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/53734.htm

. . .  claimed there was a "elite MBA program order": deans applying pressure to faculty, "dumbed-down, tarted-up" course coverage, law school competition and a "chase for media rankings" — all of which creates an "atmosphere of fear"
Just re-working the quotation a bit


The Wall Street Journal Flashback, September 16, 1985
Oil Turmoil: Saudi Arabia has decided to increase oil production and cut oil prices, moves that could trigger a global price war. Prices could conceivably fall by next spring to $18 a barrel from the current market average of about $26.


September 15, 2005 --- Ida Robinson-Backmon [irobinso@ncat.edu]

Bob,

The alternative meeting site for the upcoming Diversity Section Meeting (moving from New Orleans) is Embassy Suites Hotel Atlanta-Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, Georgia on the same dates, October 6-8, 2005. Program agenda and related information can be found on the AAA homepage ( http://aaahq.org)  or at http://aaahq.org/meetings/2005DIV_program.htm 

We are excited and energized as our inaugural meeting program now consists of several concurrent sessions that focus on critically important diversity topics, in addition to other accounting and tax topics that are of immediate concern to academicians and practitioners. The Friday evening reception will provide the opportunity for attendees to receive information about grant supported diversity research. The panel sessions on Saturday will address controversial diversity issues. Saturday’s schedule will also feature a panel of editors from high quality journals who will address their journals’ interest in diversity research and effective research methods.

The deadline to make your hotel reservations is TUESDAY, September 27. Additional information is available online.

If you have not previously registered, please take this opportunity to register at http://aaahq.org/meetings/2005DIV_online.htm . The early conference registration fee is available on or before September 22.

To register for the Diversity Section Meeting online you will need your AAA username and password. The site is case-sensitive so please be sure to enter your username and password exactly as they appear below. Your username and password are:

Username: aaa1783 Password: Jens1783

Please note that faculty/doctoral candidates interested in interviewing or administrators wishing to submit job announcements and receive candidate information can contact Dr. Leslie Weisenfeld (weisenfeldL@wssu.edu).

Sincerely,

The Diversity Section Executive Board




Tidbits on September 23, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp 


Music:

Lillie Lewis --- http://www.ampcast.com/music/6463/artist.php

Bad Country Songs
It's hard to kiss the lips that chew you your ass out all day long --- http://jbreck.com/itsshardtokiss.html

Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother (dare you to sit still during this one) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/muther.htm

Really Bad Country Song Titles --- http://www.downstream.sk.ca/country1.htm

Jazz:  A film by Ken Burns --- http://www.pbs.org/jazz/

"The Thrill Is Strong for 80-Year-Old B.B. King" by Farai Chideya, NPR, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4858654

Hear the blues guitar legend play at his own birthday party:

Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

Photographs

From the Vysoke Kolo - the Giant Mountains --- http://www.wild-landscape.com/galery/a_gal_66/cechy/cechy16.html

Scenes from the Pacific Northwest --- http://www.photospectives.com/archives/cat_nature.html

Our Eyes in grey scale --- http://www.oureyes.net/galleries/stefanrohner/stefanrohner.html

Disfarmer Photographs (maybe from your grandmother's yearbook) --- http://www.disfarmer.com/

Photos from John Wimberly --- http://www.johnclearygallery.com/currentexhibit.html




One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay 'in kind' somewhere else in life.
Ann Morrow Lindbergh


Question
If the pumps were working to capacity in New Orleans, how long would it take them to drain an Olympic-sized pool?

Answer:
1.9 seconds according to Page 55 of Time Magazine, September 19, 2005.


These student excuses are familiar and the message interpretations would be hilarious if they weren't so true
Semiotics 101 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/21/weir


Psssst! 
Did you hear what happened when Stanford University took charge of a minority high school? 
What major changes were implemented and what are the outcomes to date?
Led by education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford this summer formally took control of East Palo Alto High School, which emphasizes project learning, individual attention and a culture that promotes academic achievement.
"For East Palo Alto, a Stanford-Run High School," Stanford Magazine, September/October 2005 --- http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2005/sepoct/farm/news/school.html


Harvard welcomes military recruiters on campus:  Fighting would be a losing battle
A sign that hangs over one of Harvard Yard's gates tells students: "Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind." This week, it befell Harvard administrators to take a step of their own -- albeit a small and grudging one -- in that direction. The news is that Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan will allow military recruiters on campus. It was a decision made under duress. As recently as last November, Ms. Kagan had upheld the school's longstanding ban on military recruiters on account of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals, which, she claimed, violated the school's nondiscrimination and equal-opportunity principles. But then the Pentagon threatened to block $400 million in federal grants, or about 15% of the university's budget, and Harvard caved. Now we know where Harvard stands when given the choice between sticking to its "principles" and feeding from the government trough.
"To Serve Better Thy Country," The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112735655824448291,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
Jensen Comment:  What's interesting is that resistance does not officially focus on anti-war policy.



U.S. Supreme Court to decide on law affecting military recruitment on all college campuses
A reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide the constitutionality of a law that restricts the flow of federal funds to colleges that deny military recruiters the same access to students they give to other employers. Now, a broad array of institutions, law students and professors, and other groups have weighed in with legal arguments on behalf both of the federal government and of the law schools that are challenging the law.
Doug Lederman, "A Supreme Battle Takes Shape," Inside Higher Ed, September 22, 2004 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/22/solomon
 

Opening for a College President
For the second time, Glendale Community College has come close to picking a new president — and has decided to re-open the search instead, The Arizona Republic reported. The aborted searches come at a time that many community colleges report increasing difficulty in finding new presidents.
"Inside Higher Ed," September 22, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/22/qt 


Never have so many good wines been available so (relatively) cheap
The removal of bans on the interstate shipment of wine is creating opportunities for wine lovers.
"The Pinot Noir Is in the Mail," The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112735370629848219,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

This is the golden age of wine. Never in history have so many good wines been available at such attractive prices.
"Message in a Bottle," The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112736027088748347,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


Never have so many good wines been available so (relatively) cheap

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today named 12 professors among its 25 new fellows, who will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. The academic fellows are: Terry Belanger of the University of Virginia, Lu Chen of the University of California at Berkeley, Claire Gmachl of Princeton University, Sue Goldie of Harvard University, Pehr Harbury of Stanford University, Nicole King of Berkeley, John Kleinberg of Cornell University, Michael Manga of Berkeley, Todd Martinez of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kevin M. Murphy of the University of Chicago, Olufunmilayo Olopade of the University of Chicago, and Emily Thompson of the University of California at San Diego. Complete biographies of all the fellows will be available today on the foundation’s Web site --- http://www.macfound.org/
Inside Higher Ed
, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/20/qt
Recipients this year --- http://www.macfound.org/programs/fel/announce.htm
  • a molecular biologist reconstructing the emergence of multicellular organisms from unicellular life (Nicole King)
  • a sculptor integrating architecture and the optical effects of color and light into exquisitely constructed, contemplative spaces (Teresita Fernández)
  • a pharmacist reducing preventable drug and drug delivery errors in the healthcare industry (Michael Cohen)
  • a laser physicist engineering state-of-the-art lasers for novel and important applications in such fields as environmental monitoring, medicine, industry, and communications (Claire Gmachl)
  • a conservation biologist protecting endangered, diverse and previously unknown plants and animals of Madagascar (Steven Goodman)
  • a violinmaker producing new and world-class instruments for the twenty-first century (Joseph Curtin)
  • a clinician/researcher translating findings on the molecular genetics of breast cancer in African and African-American women into innovative clinical practices in the United States and abroad (Olufunmilayo Olopade)
  • a rare book preservationist raising the profile of the book as one of humankind’s greatest inventions (Terry Belanger)
  • a photographer using the personalizing power of portraiture to bring the faces of the world’s displaced into focus (Fazel Sheikh)
  • a fisherman fusing the roles of applied scientist and lobsterman to respond to increasing threats to the fishery ecosystem (Ted Ames)

Perhaps the largest fraud in history
More than a billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry, seriously affecting the newly-installed government's ability to combat the insurgency, according to a British newspaper report. It is believed the money was siphoned overseas in cash and has since disappeared to finance buying arms in Poland and Pakistan. "It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history,"
"$1B DEFRAUDED FROM IRAQI ARMY," World News Australia, September 19, 2005 --- http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/region.php?id=120957&region=6


What are the E-scores of representatives in Congress? --- http://www.lerner.udel.edu/econ-e/

Econ-E score is shorthand for economic-efficiency score. This measure is constructed by investigating votes in the 106th and 107th Congresses on issues where economic efficiency was at stake.  Simply put, we included votes on legislation that economists would widely agree should yield national benefits that exceed costs (efficiency enhancing) or nationwide costs that exceed benefits (efficiency diminishing).  Efficiency enhancing policies increase the size of the national economic pie; efficiency diminishing policies reduce its size.  This measurement of efficiency does not depend on who gets the slices of the pie, but rather just its size.   Economic efficiency is an important criterion used by economists, but not the only criterion, when assessing the desirability of public policies.  Our intention in constructing the Econ-E score is to report the performance of Congressional members relative to this important criterion and then to seek an explanation for their voting pattern. Presently, this site simply reports the Econ-E score for members; we will add our explanation for their voting pattern later.  To include enough votes for reliability, we only score members seated in both the 106th and 107th Congresses.  We plan to add additional Congressional data over time.


Now, Every Keystroke Can Betray You
In a twist on online fraud, hackers and identity thieves are infecting computers with increasingly sophisticated programs that record bank passwords and other key financial data and send them to crooks over the Internet.
Joseph Menn, "Now, Every Keystroke Can Betray You," Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2005 --- http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-fi-keyloggers18sep18,0,1672126.story

Cyber cons, not vandals, now behind viruses-report ---
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/19/AR2005091900026.html?referrer=email


As the number of American graduates going into top MBA programs continues to plunge, the number of graduates from India (and China) is surging upward
The burgeoning Indian economy is creating a serious demand for high-quality managers to oversee the nation's growing businesses. That makes the MBA a valuable commodity that insures a quick return on investment. And the growth of India's middle class means more Indians than ever before are able to afford brand-name American degrees. As a result, even though foreign applications to American B-schools have dropped overall since visa restrictions were tightened after September 11, 2001, applications from Indian students are increasing.
"India's MBA Gold Rush: To get an edge in the country's exploding economy, more Indian students are seeking business degrees -- both abroad and at home," Business Week, September 13, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/IndiaMBA


Top women graduates who are not bound for professional careers in a dog-eat-dog world
This is one of the reasons for plunging demand for elite MBA programs

"Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood," by Louise Story, The New York Times, September 20, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/MBAmothers

At Yale and other top colleges, women are being groomed to take their place in an ever more diverse professional elite. It is almost taken for granted that, just as they make up half the students at these institutions, they will move into leadership roles on an equal basis with their male classmates.

There is just one problem with this scenario: many of these women say that is not what they want.

Many women at the nation's most elite colleges say they have already decided that they will put aside their careers in favor of raising children. Though some of these students are not planning to have children and some hope to have a family and work full time, many others, like Ms. Liu, say they will happily play a traditional female role, with motherhood their main commitment.

Much attention has been focused on career women who leave the work force to rear children. What seems to be changing is that while many women in college two or three decades ago expected to have full-time careers, their daughters, while still in college, say they have already decided to suspend or end their careers when they have children.

"At the height of the women's movement and shortly thereafter, women were much more firm in their expectation that they could somehow combine full-time work with child rearing," said Cynthia E. Russett, a professor of American history who has taught at Yale since 1967. "The women today are, in effect, turning realistic."

Continued in article


Perhaps the women above would rather be "sweeping beauties."

"'Sweeping Beauty' Cleans Up With Poetry," by Susan Stamberg, NPR, September 22, 2005 ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4793976

A quotation from "Sweeping Beauty" by Faith Shearin



The aunts won't be dickered down,
they’ll tell you a buck is a buck,
as they wash and rinse freezer bags,
scrape off aluminum foil.

The aunts know exciting ways
with government cheese,
have furnished trailer homes
with S&H green stamp lamps and Goodwill sofas;
brook trout and venison thaw
in their shining sinks.

With their mops and feather dusters
and buckets of paint on sale,
with their hot glue guns and staplers
and friendly plastic jewelry kits,
with their gallons of closeout furniture stripper,
the aunts are hurricanes who'll marbleize
the inside of your closets
before you've had time
to put coffee on.


New from Wharton:
The 'Masculine' and 'Feminine' Sides of Leadership and Culture: Perception vs. Reality
Workers' general notions about the effectiveness of male and female managers can be as important as their actual leadership abilities or business results, according to a recent Wharton Executive Development program entitled, "Women in Leadership: Legacies, Opportunities & Challenges." As a result, women executives need to be exceptionally aware of their own leadership styles and strengths -- as well as changes underway in their organizations -- in order to make an impact. Participants also discussed the role a strong corporate culture has played in the success of such companies as cosmetics giant Mary Kay Inc.
"The 'Masculine' and 'Feminine' Sides of Leadership and Culture: Perception vs. Reality " Knowledge@Wharton, September 22, 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1287


New from Wharton:
The Upgraded Digital Divide: Are We Developing New Technologies Faster than Consumers Can Use Them?
TiVos and Treos and BlackBerrys. Wi-Fi and HDTV and plasma screens. Picture phones, digital cameras, iPods and now iPod cell phones. Complexity among consumer technology products has never been greater -- a good thing if the complexity means product improvement. But Wharton experts say new bells and whistles pose challenges to businesses and consumers alike. Complexity -- along with choice -- can have a big impact on how firms make and market new and improved gizmos, and on the decision processes of the people expected to buy them. Are we at a point, one commentator asks, where the next innovation will actually be the idea that ease of use is the most compelling feature of tech products?
"The Upgraded Digital Divide: Are We Developing New Technologies Faster than Consumers Can Use Them?" Knowledge@Wharton, September 22, 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1292


Anti-terrorism Help:  Thank You Canada
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Winnipeg is in on her way back to Canada from her six-month deployment to the Persian (Arabian) Gulf region as part of Operation ALTAIR, Canada’s continuing campaign against terrorism. The Canadian Patrol Frigate has been away since April 10, working with a coalition of naval forces including the United States, Great Britain, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan and Japan. “The professionalism and hard work of the crew has never failed to impress me,” said Cmdr. Kevin Greenwood, Commanding Officer of HMCS Winnipeg . “I wish people could see how well this group works together; the sense of pride and teamwork that we benefit from. They make my job easy, every day.”
"HMCS Winnipeg Begins Journey Home," National Defense Canada, September 21, 2005 --- http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/newsroom/view_news_e.asp?id=1762

Canada demands justice over photographer murdered in Iran
Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he had told his Iranian counterpart that Ottawa expected justice to be rendered in the murder of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi. Pettigrew had a rare meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki here Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. "I have indicated to him that Canada was determined in going to the bottom of Madame Kazemi's case," he told reporters.
"Canada demands justice over photographer murdered in Iran," Yahoo News, September 21, 2005 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050921/wl_mideast_afp/irancanadaunjustice_050921192151 


This is one rip off that replaces some of the North Korean nukes
North Korea's government is producing high-quality counterfeit $100 bills and is working with criminal groups in China to sell the fake U.S. money internationally, U.S. officials say. Some details of the production of what federal officials call "supernotes" were disclosed after arrests last month in several U.S. cities of people linked to a major Asian crime ring trafficking in fake money, arms, drugs and cigarettes. A senior Bush administration official said one of the 10 indictments in the case contains the first disclosure of the North Korean government's role in the counterfeiting. The indictment identifies Chao Tung Wu, a Taiwanese national in custody on charges of dealing in counterfeit bills. He told an FBI undercover agent that "the government of a foreign country," identified only as "Country 2," is "making counterfeit U.S. currency which Wu could sell to the" agent.
Bill Gertz, "Arrest ties Pyongyang to counterfeit $100 bills,"  The Washington Times, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.washtimes.com/national/20050920-121229-5045r.htm


"Deloitte Reaches Deal With Japanese Insurers," by Mark Maremont, The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2005; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112726731682246973,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Deloitte & Touche LLP has paid a huge sum to settle litigation with a group of Japanese insurers over the collapse of an obscure North Carolina reinsurance agent, underscoring the legal risks faced by auditing firms from their work for even the smallest of clients.

The precise amount of the settlement is confidential, but it appears to be in the range of $250 million, based on a disclosure by one of the Japanese firms. Aioi Insurance Co., which had the biggest potential claim, said Friday it would post an extraordinary gain from the settlement of 10.6 billion yen, or $95 million. Because the gain was an after-tax figure, the actual cash payment to Aioi was likely even larger.

The settlement -- which arose from a dispute over "finite" reinsurance, a controversial financial product that regulators have been probing more broadly -- appears to be one of the largest ever paid by an accounting firm over its audit work. The biggest such settlement was a $335 million payment in 2000 by Ernst & Young LLP in a shareholder suit related to the Cendant Corp. scandal.

The Japanese firms and a related Bermuda entity had sued Deloitte in state court in Geensboro, N.C., in connection with its audit work for Fortress Re, a reinsurance agent that sold policies on behalf of a pool of Japanese companies. The plaintiffs claimed that Deloitte improperly let Fortress hide liabilities that should have been on the books. Reinsurance is purchased by insurance companies to spread risks in case they are hit by large claims.

Fortress, which specialized in reinsurance for aviation risk, collapsed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, leaving the Japanese firms with losses they estimated at $3.5 billion. The case had been scheduled to go to trial earlier this month.

Deborah Harrington, a Deloitte spokeswoman, declined to comment on the size of the settlement, saying only that "the litigation was settled amicably."

Continued in article

Deloitte still has an enormous lawsuit and some smaller ones pending --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Deloitte


FINANCIAL REPORTING: MORE SCIENCE, LESS ART
Governments and investors alike now demand more financial transparency from public companies. And, given the impressive evolution of technology and business practices, there is no excuse for reporting that is anything but spot-on. Intangible factors that are not taken into account when following U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (G.A.A.P.) -- such as brand value, intellectual capital, growth expectations and forecasts, and corporate citizenship -- are now being recognized as important drivers of shareholder value. A new white paper from Accenture explores "Enhanced Business Reporting" as a means for businesses to gain and communicate a clearer picture of company goals and performance.
Frank D'Andrea, "FINANCIAL REPORTING: MORE SCIENCE, LESS ART," Double Entries, September 21, 2005 --- http://accountingeducation.com/news/news6481.html

The Accenture report is at http://www.accenture.com/xdoc/en/ideas/outlook/6_2005/pdf/share_value.pdf

Bob Jensen's threads on intangibles are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#TheoryDisputes


Critical Infrastructures in National Security
Sean Gorman
, the former George Mason University graduate student whose research into weaknesses underlying the nation's critical infrastructures sent government officials scrambling to seize and/or classify it as a threat to national security, has published much of his work in a new book entitled "Networks, Security And Complexity: The Role of Public Policy in Critical Infrastructure Protection." Two years ago, Gorman raised the hackles of the national security community when it got out that his dissertation included detailed maps of the intersections of and weak spots in the power, telecommunications and transportation networks that support the business and industrial sector in the U.S. economy. At the time, former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke said Gorman's findings were so sensitive that he "should turn it in to his professor, get his grade -- and then they both should burn it."
Brian Krebs, "Mapping the Matrix," The Washington Post, September 19, 2005 --- http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2005/09/sean_gorman_a_f.html?referrer=email


Now I'm supposed to be depressed?

For nearly half of 600 bloggers surveyed, blogging is a form of therapy, America Online said Friday, referring to research conducted by Digital Marketing Services. Around a third of the respondents said they write frequently about subjects such as self-esteem and self-help, while around 16 percent said they blog because of an interest in journalism. Another 12 percent said they do it remain on top of news and gossip. About 8 percent said they are interested in exposing political information.
"Blogging the Blues Away," ZDNet, September 16, 2005 ---
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5868949.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed

Don't believe the EPA fuel economy reports on cars:  Even the new hybrid cars don't economize so well

"Consumer Reports: Overstating gas mileage [EPA figures on gas mileage are off by huge amounts]," Free Republic, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1489186/posts

"The EPA tests don't correspond to the way most of us drive," Kleman said. "Their tests represent driving on a 75-degree day on a road with no curves or no hills, which is ideal for maximizing fuel economy."

The EPA tests haven't changed in 30 years, so they don't take into account today's driving conditions. There's a lot more congestion, idling in traffic, and widespread use of air conditioning.

Consumer Reports runs its own fuel economy tests. The engineers say these tests—done outdoors—give a much more accurate assessment of the actual mileage you'll get from a car.

Consumer Reports' tests often turn up results that are substantially different from the EPA's—especially for stop-and-go city driving.

For instance the EPA says you'll get 22 miles per gallon with a Jeep Liberty diesel, but Consumer Reports found you'll get just half that—11 miles per gallon.

With a Chrysler 300 C, the EPA says you'll get 17 miles per gallon, but Consumer Reports' tests get only 10.

As for a Honda Odyssey minivan, the EPA gets 20 miles per gallon; Consumer Reports gets just 12.

The differences Consumer Reports turned up with hybrids in city driving are even greater. The EPA says the Honda Civic hybrid gets 48 miles per gallon; Consumer Reports measured just 26.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on consumer rip-offs are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm


Now I really am depressed

From Jim Mahar's blog on September 16, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Kimmunications: Investment Return Doesn't Mean Diddly

Even when the stock market goes up, investors may lose out if they try to time the market. The extent to which market timing occurs is debateable but no doubt substantial. That is the gist of a recent blog entry over at Kimmunications.

Kimmunications cites a Dalbar study that finds individual investors lose a great deal as a result of this attempt to time the market.

"over the 19 year period 1984 to 2002, the S&P 500 was up an average of 12.9%. U.S. stock mutual funds had a return over the same period of only 9.6%. That is the investment return of U.S. equity mutual funds. But the stock mutual fund investor had a return of only 2.7%!"

Without seeing more of the study, I have always had by questions on how investors could do that poorly (I would have to guess that many investors got in right at the top), but unfortunately the paper is not available online (I did email them for a copy).

That said, the idea is sound and I absolutely love the figure that shows that actual stock picking makes up only a small portion of overall returns---it will be an excellent teaching tool!


No Comment
First Amendment Lessons --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/19/first



Are you looking for a video on DVD?

Scheduled video releases --- http://videoeta.com/

Popular video ordering and rental site --- http://www.netflex.com/pages/1/index.htm

Are you looking for a movie at a theatre in your town?
Bob Jensen's entertainment bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob2.htm#History
 


What do parents do with these adult children after they're too old for K-12 schools?
Faced with the difficulty of getting scarce help for their mentally or physically frail children, some parents are resorting to measures they once considered unthinkable. A Chicago mother dropped off her adult daughter, who has the mental functioning of a 7-year-old, at a shelter, after being told only the homeless or orphans could get into a supervised group home. A couple in Georgia, raising four other children, went to court and let their autistic son become a ward of the state in a bid to get him into therapeutic foster care. Nationwide, an estimated 80,000 developmentally disabled people are waiting for in-home help or an opening in a group home. Some have been on waiting lists for more than a decade. In Texas, there are 46,000 people waiting for such help -- or about four times the number of people actually receiving assistance.
Clare Ansberry, "Needing Assistance, Parents of Disabled Resort to Extremes:  Demand for Aid Increases As Children Get Older," The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112718367988545842,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one


How well do these sex offenders registries really work?

From InformationWeek Between The Lines newsletter on September 20
 

 I learned all of this depressing but valuable information in two minutes using a new Web site developed under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Justice in close concert with 28 states across the country. The site is called www.nsopr.govNSOPR stands for "National Sex Offender Public Registry"—and it provides real-time access to public sex-offender data to help parents safeguard their children. And if value to the public can be measured in Web-site traffic, this one has been a monster success: The site received 27 million hits in its first 48 hours of operation, and since then has added bandwidth, load-balancing servers, and access to more than 1,000 related sites.
 

Is Gwyneth Paltrow a Genius?
If X is the amount of actual mathematics in a given movie, then X was pretty close to zero in Proof, the Hollywood version of the Pulitzer Prize winning play about mathematical genius, according to three math graduate students who attended its premier Friday in New York City.
David Epstein, "Is Gwyneth Paltrow a Genius?" Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/19/proof
 


From The Washington Post on September 19, 2005

Yahoo, the number one e-mail service, is shifting to a more dynamic design that mimics the look and feel of a computer desktop application like Microsoft's Outlook. Who's number two?

A. AOL
B. Comcast's Webmail
C. Google's Gmail
D. MSN's Hotmail
 


GAO reports that astounding prices of our textbooks are not
justified on the basis of the costs of supplementary materials

"Just What the Professor Ordered," by Ian Ayres, The New York Times, September 16, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/GAOpublishers

In time for the new school year, the Government Accountability Office has released a sobering report on the soaring price of textbooks. Over the past two decades, the report tells us, "college textbook prices have risen at double the rate of inflation."

We're used to paying $25 for a hardcover novel, but my casebook on contracts now sells to students for $103, and the best-selling general chemistry textbook (co-authored by my father-in-law) costs $148. At state universities, textbooks and supplies account for 26 percent of all student fees, including tuition. At junior colleges, they are a whopping 72 percent.

The G.A.O. report falls short, however, by attributing this run-up in prices to the development of "CD-ROM's and other instructional supplements." The real problem is the lack of price competition. A series of mergers has ensured that although there are hundreds of textbooks to choose from, the five largest publishers control 80 percent of the market.

It's easy for prices to drift upward when the person choosing the product doesn't really care how much it costs. Instead of competing on price, publishers compete for professors' attention with an excess of computerized bells and whistles.

Indeed, the pricing problems with textbooks are eerily analogous to those affecting prescription drugs. In both cases you have doctors (Ph.D.'s or M.D.'s) prescribing products. In neither case does the doctor pay for the product prescribed - in many cases, he or she doesn't even know what it costs. And the clincher is that in both cases, the manufacturers sell the same product at substantially reduced prices abroad.

The analogy to prescription drugs suggests a possible solution. Perhaps universities can take a lesson from managed health care. Health maintenance organizations are often criticized for being too stingy, but let's not forget that they've played an important role in containing health care costs.

So just imagine what would happen if universities started to provide textbooks to their students as part of the tuition package. Of course tuition would have to rise, but for the first time universities would start caring about whether their professors were too extravagant in the selection of class materials.

This "textbook maintenance organization" wouldn't require a huge centralized bureaucracy. Universities would probably give professors a textbook budget per student. Those who exceeded the budget would have to seek their deans' approval. Some enlightened colleges might even give a share of the savings to professors who don't use up all of their budgets.

Even publishers might not do so badly under this new system. Under the current arrangement, many students protest exorbitant prices by simply refusing to buy textbooks. They make do with slightly older editions, read library copies or share with other students.

Not only do publishers lose these sales, but teachers are irritated because students cannot read along in class or look up information that is relevant to the discussion. Under textbook maintenance organizations, we'd return to the old days where everyone was on the same page.

Still think a system where schools provide free textbooks would never work? Well, we already have one at the elementary and secondary levels. Unlike Hogwarts, which requires Harry Potter to buy books each year, most American public schools own their assigned books and buy new editions only when it's absolutely necessary.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment on September 16, 2005
In fairness, there may be something to the claims by textbook publishers that profits are cut hard by costs of sales representatives and losses of new book sales in used book markets that return nothing to the original publishers.  Whether or not we want the sales representatives stopping by our offices every semester, these sales representatives are paid only from the new book sales.  This does not, however, justify the occasional practice of publishers to come out with "new" editions that are not very new in content and are solely aimed at destroying the used book market for an "older" edition.  A new addition should have substantial new material and substantive rewrites.

Here's a university that "rents" textbooks to students!
September 16, 2005 reply from Chuck Pier

We already have a system similar to this at Appalachian State. We are one of the few (I have heard, but not verified the number to be around 7 in the U.S.) 4 year universities that have a textbook rental system.

How does it work?

The answer depends on who you ask. If you ask the students, alumni and parents they love it. Why? Because they pay one fee (currently $76 per semester) and they get a rental textbook which they return at the end of the semester in almost all of their classes. They must purchase textbooks if their class requires more than one text (they get the "lead" textbook free all others must be purchased); if they are in graduate school; or in other particular circumstances (e.g. lab books, or tax textbooks which are updated every year).

If you ask the professors (which we have via surveys) about 80% do not like the system. Why? The professor must choose a book and live with that choice for three years. We chose an Intermediate textbook recently that we found we did not like, but we must continue to use it for three years, despite our dislike of the text. If there are multiple sections for a course, everyone must agree and use the same text. There is also the mention that students place a value on an item based on what they pay, therefore a rental text does not have much value to the student. The lack of students buying textbooks has also limited the free market from working around the campus. We do not have private bookstores because they cannot compete with the rental system. This causes the cost of books that are not in the rental system to be high because there is no competition over these books other than the internet; the University Bookstore is the only game in town.

My feelings are quite divided. For the most part I am not bothered by the textbook rental system, other than being locked into a textbook I do not like, or a selection by my colleagues that I disagree with. We as a department already choose a textbook for each course anyway (1 intermediate text, 1 principles text, etc.). I also teach a lot of tax courses so I am not tied to the textbook rental system. Perhaps the biggest selling point for the textbook rental system from my view is this; all the students pay the rental fee as part of their tuition and are entitled to a textbook. I know that every student in my class will have the textbook. At other schools where I have taught without the rental system up to 1/3 of my class may not actually buy the book.

We are currently studying the system and I feel that there will be changes made, but for the most part I feel that it will stay as part of the tradition at Appalachian.

Charles A. Pier, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Department of Accounting
Walker College of Business
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608
email:
pierca@appstate.edu

Jensen Comment on September 17, 2005

Textbooks three and four decades ago were even more pricey after inflation adjustments.  This was true even in those glorious years of many competing publishers.

Textbooks were pricey in those competitive years (before the days of computer supplements) largely due to the expensive way in which they were marketed.  Unlike pulp fiction novels that are marketed to street bookstores through wholesale distribution networks, textbooks were marketed by all those many book representatives/salesmen (I mean men in those days) who gave us a lot of time and free samples.  This was a very expensive way to market textbooks, and it also badly disrupted many of our days on campus.

Now the monopolist publisher (is there more than one?) still has book representatives and salespersons, but the cost is much lower because there are so few textbook salespersons in the nation, along with fewer choices of books.  Instead on three reps per week, I now maybe see three per semester standing in my doorway.

Some years back almost every large accounting program (Texas, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, etc.) each had at least one author with a name on a Principles of Accounting textbook.  There was almost enough of a market in two large universities to justify the fixed cost of publishing the home author's book. 

Publishers deliberately tried to get at least two authors from two large universities on a book.  A book hit gold if each partner author was from a large university such as the Eureka Success of signing a Texas and an Illinois professor to "author" an accounting textbook. 

In some cases, my suspicious mind wonders if some of those "authors" mostly lent their names and affiliations rather than their sweat.  In fairness, I think the books that stuck around edition after edition after edition were really authored legitimately by hardworking professors.  Even in those cases, however, the test banks and other supplements were cheaply outsourced, which generally meant that the test banks were much lower in quality than the textbook's illustrations and problems.

My point is that textbooks cost more because of the way they were/are marketed. 

I might add that I am slow to blame the campus bookstore for the price of textbooks.  Typically the bookstore's margin is relatively small given the cost of shelving and handling so many books.  What saves the butts of campus bookstores is the publishing company's tradition of buying back unsold new books.  But even that entails a lot of un-boxing, shelving, storage, and re-boxing.

If campus bookstores had to survive only on textbooks they would go out of business. On our campus the bookstore is selling textbooks almost at a net loss.  What keeps it going is the extremely high (and I do mean high) markups on other items like logo-clothing, supplies, and electronic goods.

And I don't buy into the publishers' arguments today that the high accounting textbook prices are due to the computer supplements.  Virtually all the accounting textbook supplements today (the CDs, the online test banks, the videos, etc.) are really cheap shots.  The accounting textbook market just isn't big enough to warrant what publishers spend dearly for in large markets of economics, mathematics, biology, and other disciplines having courses in a college's core curriculum taken by every student on every campus (not just business majors).

What is hurting the publishers badly is the used book market.  So what?  The used car market is also eating the lunch of GM, Ford, and Chrysler new car plants in spite of built-in obsolescence ploys used by publishers and car manufacturers.  McDonalds has it made because there is no second hand market for a Big Mac with fries.

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on publisher frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudReporting.htm#ScholarlyJournals


On the spot: What Schröder's devious strategy in Germany
Gerhard Schröder was publicly jubilant despite his party's defeat at the polls in the German election last night. Roger Boyes, correspondent for The Times in Berlin, explains the wily political operator's plot to turn defeat into victory. "By claiming victory today, Gerhard Schröder is bluffing - he's basically trying to disorientate Frau Merkel. His ambition is to reach a position where there is a grand coalition with himself as Chancellor despite his party's second place, and he is playing a typically complex tactical game to get there.
"On the spot: What Schröder is up to," Times Online, September 19, 2005 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1787883,00.html


September 19, 2005 message from MacEwan Wright, Victoria University [Mac.Wright@VU.EDU.AU]

I am seeking some guidance as to what sort of fees are charged for subjects that are purely web based delivery, and how these compare to standard face to face delivery fees.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I have been warned that web based delivery with chat pages etc can be extermely time consuming. Has anyone definite experience in this regard?

Kind regards,
Mac Wright

February 20, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Mac,

I have a document on distance learning cost and compensation that is, I'm sorry to say, badly in need of an update --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/distcost.htm 

With respect to experience ranging from almost no student-faculty interaction (e.g., Stanford's Master of Engineering degree under ADEPT) to high student-faculty interaction (Dunbar's Instant Messaging), you can see some discussion of this at the following two sites:
 

General modules that I update regularly:
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm 


Award-winning modules that I update rarely:
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateel.htm 

 

Some other sites of possible interest are shown below:


My regularly-updated dark side document: http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm 


There are quite a few references to the distance learning literature and some very long quotations at: http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm 


The index to most of my education technology documents is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm 


September 18, 2005 message from somebody (I don't think I like him) named James Francis at a dupont.com email address

Do you want a University Degree without studying? An Income that starts off high? The 0pportunity to just get in the door?

We can help. We have a LEGAL Offshore University that issues valid Degree's in any subject for a small fee.

Our Degree's work worldwide. Here's an example.

"I had no exper1ence at all in Marketing. I applied as a marketing consultant for a company. My University Degree & reference letters(issued with degree) got me the job in 1 week! My income is now $90,000 a year vs. $25,000. They still have no idea about not going to University, but love me at work for my creativity. You guys rock!."

- Jared T. xxxxxx Miami, Florida

Call Today: 1-206-984-(you don't want to know)

Registrar Office Kathy Helm

Actually I got identical messages from names other than James Francis. This could possibly be a phishing fraud that does not even give out fake diplomas.

Bob Jensen's threads on diploma mill frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudReporting.htm#DiplomaMill


Liar's Poker
Wall Street Journal Flashback
, September 19, 1991
Salomon investment bankers complain that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were the two firms that most aggressively sent their clients free copies of "Liar's Poker," which depicts Salomon traders as adolescents and gamblers. Goldman denies sending out the books.

Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads (including commentaries on Liar's Poker) are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm


I did, however, gain useful insight into the nature of literary criticism: you need not make sense, add anything new to the body of human knowledge or spend much time researching a given topic to publish a monograph with a respectable publishing house..
Mike Grayson as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-09-20-05.htm

"The Rise of the Critic and the Death of the Teacher," The Irascible Professor, September 20, 2005 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-09-20-05.htm

A few years ago, while researching Catch-22 for my Master's thesis on Joseph Heller, I came across a book promising "a new approach" to that seminal piece of postmodern American fiction. The author of the critical study in question admits on the first page of his book that he had, in fact, "been entirely unfamiliar with the previous criticism" on Joseph Heller as he wrote the book, allowing him to "come to a different assessment of what Heller was doing…far from the interpretation of the herd, so to speak." Needless to say, I was rather excited to have located a book that could potentially enlighten me as I sought to complete my thesis (and degree) in time to start work on my doctorate.

. . .

With the remarkable emphasis placed on publishing, we seem often to forget the students we teach. The sad fact that an impressive publishing record is more important to hiring committees at many large research institutions than the ability to teach undergraduates only exacerbates the problem. If the goal of most junior and adjunct faculty is to land a tenured position, teaching frequently figures somewhere below finding a parking space on many academics' list of priorities. After all, why would teaching help you get a teaching job?


Literary Theory Explorations --- http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/literary_theory_explorations

Examples: 

Welcome To: Literary Theory Explorations

Home > Literature and writing > Writing (Rhetoric), collections and criticism of more than two literatures > Philosophy and theory

Literary Theory Explorations


Note: We are actively seeking a new Feature Writer to adopt this Retired Topic. If interested, please Contact Member Services for more information.

By Dhalgren13
 
  Related Subject(s): Critical theory
2 Jan 2002 Featured Article
The Further Education (Part Two)
An examination of the importance of studying history from all angles, in the continuing education of the world

26 Dec 2001
Skip and Jump and Dance and Sing: Ugly Thoughts for an Ugly Time
The Ugly and the Absurd, two desperate literary minds at work or play.

19 Dec 2001
Changing the World, One Step at a Time (Part One)
A look at the furthering of Multilingualism, in an attempt to create a better world society

12 Dec 2001
By Any Means Necessary
A look at the importance of journalism in general, and within the realm of literature.

4 Dec 2001
Every Good and Perfect Gift (a book review)
A book review for first time Novelist Brenda Jernigan's new novel, Every Good and Perfect Gift

27 Nov 2001
The New and Free Media
An examination and call for a free media/news, a probing look into the flow of information, and it's necessity.

20 Nov 2001
Indicting The Canon
An attack on the literary canon, best sellers and all the other crap that is ruining Literature

13 Nov 2001
THE GREAT RIP OFF: My Tribute to Ken Kesey
A good-bye to Ken Kesey, and a look at how his philosophy of life/art, and his works influenced myself and many of the friends and authors I know

If you like these articles, there are more articles available.

 


Memepool Tidbits (I've never used this before, but it's a bit like Jensen's Tidbits. but these are a bit more weird in my viewpoint) --- http://memepool.com/
You might want to click on the link to "Recent Articles."  It also has a search link.  Type in a search term and hit the Enter key.



College is sometimes a time for transgendering
T.J., who is studying student affairs administration, is one of four transgender students featured in TransGeneration, an eight-part Sundance Channel series premiering tonight. The series follows the students through the 2004-5 year at college as they take on not only the rigors of academics, but also various stages of transitioning from their birth sex.
David Epstein "College Is a Time of Changes." Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/20/transformation
 

College hiring up 14.5% --- http://www.naceweb.org/FormsLogin.asp?/pubs/JobOutlook/default.htm

More Salary Gains for Class of 2005 --- http://www.naceweb.org/press/display.asp?year=&prid=222

Average starting salary offers to new college grads continue to increase, according to the Fall 2005 issue of Salary Survey, a quarterly report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The Fall issue is NACE’s final salary report for the college Class of 2005.

“Overall, starting salary offers rose consistently over this past academic year with the majority of disciplines reporting higher increases this year than they did last year,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

Business graduates reported healthy growth in salary offers. Management information systems graduates, for example, posted a 5 percent increase to their average starting salary offer, raising it to $43,653. And, average offers to marketing grads rose by 4.9 percent, boosting their average offer to $36,409.

Accounting grads saw a 4.6 percent increase, raising their average starting salary offer to $42,940. Business administration/management graduates witnessed offers that rose 3.2 percent, bringing their average offer to $39,480.

For the most part, those graduating with degrees in the computer sciences saw smaller increases than those in the business disciplines—but their actual salary offers were higher than those to most business grads. Salary offers among computer science graduates, for example, rose just 3.3 percent over last year, but that increase spiked their average salary offer to $50,664. Information sciences and systems grads also fared well this year, posting a 3.6 increase that raised their average offer to $43,902.

Among engineering graduates, most reported increases to their average starting salary offers. Chemical engineering grads saw one of the smaller increases, only 2.1 percent, inching their average offer to $53,639, still the second highest of all the engineering majors. Civil engineering graduates posted a stronger increase of 4.1 percent, raising their average offer to $43,774.

Computer engineering graduates saw a 1.8 percent increase to their average salary offer, raising it to $52,242, and electrical engineering grads received a 1.3 percent increase, bumping their average offer to $51,773. The average salary offer to mechanical engineering graduates rose by 3.3 percent, pushing the average offer to $50,175.

For the most part, liberal arts grads as a group fared well, with some individual disciplines posting significant changes. Liberal arts and sciences majors saw a notable increase of 10.1 percent to their average starting salary offer, boosting it to $32,725. Psychology majors saw a healthy increase of 6.5 percent, raising their average starting salary offer to $30,073, and offers to sociology grads were 7.5 percent higher than last year, boosting their average offer to $31,368.

NACE will publish its first set of salary statistics for the college Class of 2006 in February, when it releases the Winter 2006 Salary Survey report.

About Salary Survey: Salary Survey is a quarterly report of starting salary offers to new college graduates in 70 disciplines at the bachelor's degree level. The survey compiles data from college and university career services offices nationwide. Salary Survey is issued in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, with the Fall issue serving as the year-end report. (Salaries reported in this press release reflect offers to bachelor’s degree candidates.)  


Yahoo: Mistrust Is Popping Up
Yahoo has been taking a beating in the blogosphere lately. On Sept. 6 came the revelation that it provided information that helped Beijing jail a journalist. Days earlier, a report said Yahoo was actively supporting the companies that spawn pop-up ads. Around the same time, bloggers started griping about new Yahoo software downloads that change the preferences on users' PCs.
Ben Elgin, "Yahoo: Mistrust Is Popping Up:  A string of issues related to its trustworthiness, especially about adware, could tarnish the portal's reputation on the Net," Business Week, September 12, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/YahooMistrust
 


Update on Worldcom Fraud
Former WorldCom Investors can now claim back some of the billions of dollars they lost in a massive accounting fraud, after a federal judge approved legal settlements of "historic proportions." The deal approved Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, will divide payments of $6.1 billion among approximately 830,000 people and institutions that held stocks or bonds in the telecommunications company around the time of its collapse in 2002.
Larry Neumeister, "Judge OKs $6.1B in WorldCom Settlements," The Washington Post, September 22, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/WorldcomSettlement 

Bob Jensen's threads on the Worldcom fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#WorldCom 

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


Black Women and the Web
When pundits talk about African Americans and the Internet, they often focus on the Digital Divide -- the fact that fewer black people have online access than their white counterparts. But a new study released on Sept. 14 suggests that black women also approach the Net differently, devoting little time to personal e-mails or other recreational pursuits. Moreover, they're much more apt to go online to investigate companies before buying their products or services.
"Black Women and the Web:  A new study suggests they're more inclined to take a "strictly business" approach to the Internet than those from other ethnic groups," Business Week, September 15, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/BlackWomenWeb 


Impact of Salary Caps?:  Hockey Greats Retire En Masse http://www.canada.com/montreal/montrealgazette/news/sports/story.html?id=b7602f08-


Favorite Poem Project --- http://www.favoritepoem.org/


Bad Poetry (says who?) --- http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/bad/


An accounting firm tracks facts about automobiles (kinda weird huh?  But it's quite good.)
PricewaterhouseCoopers AUTOFACTS ... is a team of analysts and advisors within the PricewaterhouseCoopers Automotive Practice dedicated to the continuous analysis of the global automotive industry. AUTOFACTS' organisational structure, processes and technology have been designed to support high quality, strategic automotive analysis, delivered on-line.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Autofacts --- http://www.autofacts.com/index.html


Thrilling Detective Trivia --- http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/

Wit & Wisdom (Just one of the categories)

 


From The Wall Street Journal Weekly Accounting Review on September 16, 2005

TITLE: Delta and Northwest Are Poised to File for Bankruptcy Protection
REPORTER: Evan Perez and Susan Carey
DATE: Sep 14, 2005
PAGE: A1
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112665062604939713,00.html 
TOPICS: Bankruptcy, Board of Directors, Debt, Debt Covenants, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Pension Accounting

SUMMARY: �The carrier�s boards [were] each scheduled to meet Wednesday to decide whether they�ll file for bankruptcy protection� By Thursday, Delta and Northwest both announced that they had, in fact, filed for bankruptcy protection. Questions ask students to understand the implications of bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11 for management, workers, customers and oters. Financial reporting issues include a financing deal for Delta led by General Electric Company�s commercial lending unit and issues in pension funding.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What is a bankruptcy filing? How can a company file for bankruptcy and leave customers, such as air passengers in this case, unaffected?

2.) What are the management issues associated with operating a company that is under a bankruptcy filing?

3.) Both the main article and the related one discuss the ways that accounting information is used to assess likely future outcomes from operating under bankruptcy protection. Identify the accounting information and the ways in which it is used to assess potential future issues.

4.) In the main article, the author describes 4 specific items of debt payments that are due by this coming year end. List each of these items and describe where each is classified in the financial statements.

5.) General Electric Co. led a group that provided financing to Delta about one year ago. Why do you think GE is involved in financing of Delta Airlines?

6.) What authority establishes requirements for pension payments? How does that required payment differ from the yearly cost of operating a pension? Do you think these airlines have been fully funding the annual cost of operating their pensions? Explain your answer with a citation from the article.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

--- RELATED ARTICLES ---
TITLE: The Middle Seat: Surviving Chapter 11
REPORTER: Scott McCartney
ISSUE: Sep 04, 2005
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112673184069740844,00.html




 

Tidbits on September 26, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp 


Music:

In the past I've provided links to various types of music available free on the Web. 
This weekend I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Inspirational and Patriotic Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Inspirational
Romantic Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Romantic
Country and Western --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Country

1950s-60s Juke Box Tunes --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#JukeBox
Humor Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Humor

Banjo, Fiddle, Bluegrass, and American Folk Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#AmericanFolk
Foreign Folk Music and Other Music From Foreign Lands --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#AmericanFolk

Jazz and Blues --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Classical
Classical Music Christmas and Other Seasonal Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Holiday

Imagine All the People --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/imagine.htm
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on.

Bruce Cockburn's What is the Soul of a Man? --- http://cockburnproject.net/flash.html
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on.

NPR Live Concert Series 'Higher Ground,' a Show for Hurricane Relief ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4837922
There is a lot of recorded music available here.

Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

Colleges pay a flat sum for unlimited online music
Those colleges enroll more than 670,000 students — and many other institutions are expected to join the list soon. The idea of offering these deals, pioneered at Pennsylvania State University, is to pay a flat sum for unlimited online music. The motivation is simple: Colleges are tired of being caught in the middle as the music industry tries to crack down on students who engage in illegal file sharing, frequently involving college networks. The report on how colleges are responding was prepared by the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities, which is led by Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, and Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America.
Scott Jaschik, "The Spread of Legal Online Music," Inside Higher Ed, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/22/filesharing

 

Photographs

World Peace of the Year Photo Contests ---
http://www.worldpressphoto.nl/index.php?option=com_photogallery&task=blogsection&id=15&Itemid=115&ba

Pictures of China High Rise Buildings (This is how I remember it in Taiwan and Hong Kong) --- http://www.photomichaelwolf.com/hongkongarchitecture/

 




Did you know that your recorded television shows may self destruct: 
You'll never be able to show them to your grandchildren 
But then why would you ever want to watch them your self or with anybody else?

From The Washington Post on September 23, 2005
TiVo's latest software upgrade gives broadcasters the ability to erase recorded material after a certain date. What shows recently sparked online complaints after users discovered they were marked for deletion?

A. "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost"
B. "King of the Hill" and "The Simpsons"
C. "Joey" and "ER"
D. "Reba" and "Smallville"


Jensen Comment:  If you really want to record it and keep it, I think you should just put the new-style TV camcorders in front of the TV on a timer.

Breakthrough in Camcorder Technology
P.S. David Pogue is one of the leading experts in technology

"Aha! Video Straight to a Computer," by David Pogue, The New York Times, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/technology/circuits/22pogue.html

EVERY now and then, humanity wakes up, looks at itself in the mirror and realizes that it's been wasting a lot of effort doing things the old way just for the sake of tradition. From the caveman who first put a bunch of rolling logs under something heavy, to the genius who packed four times more orange juice onto a truck by condensing it first, history is filled with "Aha!" moments that propel society forward.

. . .

The result of this brainstorm was the new Everio G series: tiny, lightweight, reasonably priced camcorders that contain iPod-type miniature hard drives. There are four models in all, ranging from the GZ-MG20 to the GZ-MG50. The differences are the prices ($750 to $800 online), light sensitivity, hard drive capacity (20 or 30 gigabytes), zoom lens power (15X or 25X), and the resolution of the low-quality still photos (0.3 megapixel or 1.3). Not one of them uses a tape or DVD.

The hard drive holds five or seven hours of video at top quality - easily a vacation's worth. The 2.5-inch screen displays each shot as a thumbnail image (or as an entry in a chronological list), so you can jump directly to anything filmed without having to rewind or fast-forward. You can assemble up to 99 video playlists on this screen, too (selected scenes that play back in a certain order). And who among us hasn't, at one point or another, accidentally recorded over something important on a videotape? (Oh, sorry - touchy subject.) On a hard-drive camcorder, that is impossible.

UNLIKE JVC's Everio MC200 camcorders, which feature lower-capacity, removable hard drive cards, the Everio G's drive is permanent and built in. (It's mounted on gel supports for shock resistance, and uses a laptop-style motion sensor to protect the drive from sudden jolts.) Once it fills up, that's it; the camcorder is out of commission until some hard drive space is emptied.

You can do that by deleting some scenes, using the thumbnail table of contents view. You can play the video back on a TV (both RCA-type and S-video jacks are built right into the camera), while recording it with a VCR or set-top DVD recorder, then delete the originals.

But you're really supposed to transfer the video directly to a computer, edit it, and maybe burn it to a DVD. When you get right down to it, this camcorder doesn't make much sense for people who don't ordinarily edit their own video on a computer

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's helpers in video technology are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HelpersVideos.htm



New Services Give You Reliable Ways to Keep All You Files Updated

September 23, 2005 message from Amy Dunbar [Amy.Dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]

On September 1, Mossberg’s Personal Technology column, “New Services Give You Reliable Ways to Keep All You Files Updated,” talked about three products. Two of them looked promising to me.

Has anyone used either BeInSync http://www.beinsync.com/index.php?rfrid=aw_dp_beinsync 

or FolderShare?

http://www.foldershare.com 

Either service looks much easier than using HandyBackup software to synchronize all my school-computer files to an Iogear Ion drive and resynchronizing when I get home to home computer.

Any comments?

Amy Dunbar
University of Connecticut School of Business Accounting Department
2100 Hillside Road, Unit 1041 Storrs, CT 06269-1041

September 24, 2005 reply from Scott Bonacker [lister@BONACKERS.COM]

I've been using PowerSync from linkpro.com for several years to maintain a synchronised backup on an external USB hard drive. The only compromise I've had to make is because of the way that Windows handles daylight savings time. I turned off the automatic change feature in windows, and have to check the system clock periodically to make sure it doesn't try to drop/add an hour. Otherwise I am forced to totally renew all backup files twice a year when the time changes.

It has been a lifesaver several times. All of the dynamic data files are backed up regularly, and all of the information I need to restore the applications is maintained on a daily basis.

Scott Bonacker

September 25, 2005 reply from Mike Groomer [mikegroomer@INSIGHTBB.COM]

Amy,

I use a portable 2.5" USB 2.0 HD -- 40GB. I have had this physical drive in three different containers. This HD contains all file types.
Essentially, I port the HD between the office and home and sometimes take it on the road with me. The current container is both USB and Firewire capable. I back up this HD to the desktop at home and my laptop using a program called ViceVersa. Prior to going on a road trip, I will back the HD to the laptop and reverse the process when I get home. I find this approach works for me and have been doing this for the last five years.
Essentially all my files are in one place (the portable HD) and for the most part don't have to worry about version control.

Mike

Jensen Comment:
And if you want to see Amy's new grandchild go to
http://www.business.uconn.edu/users/adunbar/family_site/html/maddy-mae2.htm


Pepper Pad:  First Look: Wireless Internet Media Player
My dissatisfaction started soon after I powered up the Pepper Pad. From a cold boot, this "instant-on" device takes nearly 2 minutes to get up and running. You can then put the unit in a sleep mode for faster subsequent startups, but the battery continues to drain. And I was surprised by the battery's short life span: During my informal tests, the unit lasted less than 2 hours on a full charge. The Pepper Pad's SVGA (800-by-600 resolution) LCD screen provides a bright but just less-than-crisp display of text, photos, and videos. MP3 music sounded decent from the front-mounted stereo speakers. Video playback was even, and videos saved to the hard drive played smoothly, without any fluttering. Pepper's preloaded software includes a Mozilla-based browser, a game pack, an Internet radio player, an MP3 music player, and AOL instant messaging. You can buy Pepper-specific apps from the company's online store (but you cannot run other Linux or Windows apps Considering that there are more powerful (and more versatile) notebook computers available for the same or a lower price, I can't recommend this first iteration of the Pepper Pad. 
Michael Lasky, "First Look: Wireless Internet Media Player--Too Little, Too Late, The Washington Post, September 23, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/PepperPad


Warnings when you are checking to see if all or parts of a student's paper are plagiarized: 
It is best to first get implied consent from students to store their papers on your computer

September 22, 2005 message from Dr. Jagdish Pathak [jagdish@UWINDSOR.CA]

My University has a licence to use this plagiarism check software. I have made use of this on regular basis within the policy laid down in course outline beforehand. We also have developed an academic integrity committee at University level with student reps in membership. I represent Business School and we have made AI policy as an integral part of senate bye-laws for future legal repercussions. My experience of catching cases of plagiarism has been extremely successful. However, you will have to seek 'informed consent' of the students concerned that work submitted by them may be placed for turnitin check and if any one refuses to do so will have to be provided some other mean of assessment or else. Our policy is made after reviewing many policies in Canadian and US Schools and the related case laws.

It will be interesting to place some of the research papers received for review to such test for your own satisfaction as turnitin database has grown manyfold by now.

It is OK if you do not allow this software (Turnitin) to store your student paper in database for ethical purposes BUT this practice also restricts you in many ways. For example, if this paper is resubmitted by some other student after some time lag, you may assess it unknowingly for a different student and turnitin will once again give you same result what it gave in case of first time submission! (which'll be a real unethical case in fact.) Secondly, some topics of papers may fit well with more than two courses like 'ethical practices' fit well in accounting, management, marketing and even MIS area. If a paper on this topic is submitted in one term to accounting area, next term to management area, and further next term to marketing area by the same student who knows full well that his/her paper is not in turnitin database. What is the remedy left to a faculty in such instance?

Whereas, by permitting your paper in database, you or the author of the paper gets ethical advantages. Turnitin NEVER permits any one to see your paper without explicit permission from you. Turnitin will simply tell that while issuing report that certain percentages are copied from such and such paper submitted to such and such school. If instructor desires to know the contents of that turnitin cited paper, he/she will have to send a mail through turnitin to the original author of paper and who may or may not permit you to look at the contents of the paper.

I have had a case where a student in EDP Auditing distance course submitted a case study which was found to have been copied verbatim (97%) from one MS dissertation of Mid-West technical university of US. I wanted to double check the output of turnitin by looking at the contents of the dissertation, and therefore sent an e-mail through turnitin to the original author of dissertation who replied to me in next 15 minutes in affirmative and also wondered that her family has originally come from Windsor only, though some years back!

Jagdish Pathak, PhD Guest Editor- Managerial Auditing Journal (Special Issue) Associate Professor of Accounting & Systems Accounting & Finance Area Odette School of Business University of Windsor 401 Sunset Windsor, N9B 3P4, ON Canada

Voice: 519.253.3000 Ext3131 FAX: 519.973.7073 |
e-Mail: jagdish@uwindsor.ca 
Cyber Home: http://www.jagdishpathak.com

Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm


Unusual jigsaw puzzle forwarded by Barb Hessel

I love to send unusual sites and this is one.
Barb

Not your usual jigsaw puzzle! This is so neat!

http://www.brl.ntt.co.jp/people/hara/fly.swf 


Question
What may be a leading cause of the rise in obesity among teens?

Answer
Excess body fat in teens -- even those who aren't overweight -- seems to be linked to less-elastic blood vessels, a condition that can mean future cardiovascular disease, researchers say in a study. The findings underscore the dangers of the obesity epidemic, even in youngsters. An estimated 30% of schoolchildren are believed to be overweight. "The message about this is that it's yet another reason to be concerned about the rise in overweight and obesity among young people," said Peter Whincup, lead author of the study and professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London.
"Teens' Fat Linked to Blood Vessels," The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005; Page D3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112734090049947854,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal 


Question
How can you really, really erase your hard drive?

Answer

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Hard Drive," by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005; Page B8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112734821839648054,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace 

Q: I am giving my PC to my sister and I would like to completely erase my files from the hard drive. How can I do this?

A: What you need to do is wipe out the files in a way that is more thorough than merely deleting them in the standard manner. This process is often called "wiping" files, and makes the files impossible, or at least very difficult, to recover. It works by overwriting the portion of the hard disk formerly occupied by a file's data with nonsense characters.

You could format the disk, but that also would wipe out the operating system, which would require your sister to buy and install a new copy. So you need a program that wipes out only the folders and files you target. On an Apple Macintosh, this capability is built in. You just move the files to the trash and then select "Secure Empty Trash" instead of the usual "Empty Trash" command.

On Windows, you need add-on software. There are many programs that do this, but one that I have tested and can recommend is Window Washer, which is available at webroot.com for $30. You can find others by doing a Web search for "file wipe" or by doing a similar search at download.com.


How Informative are Analyst Recommendations and Insider Trades?
A new academic study fills that void - and concludes that when insiders and analysts directly disagree, the insiders are usually right. The study was written by three finance professors: James Hsieh of George Mason University and Lilian Ng and Qinghai Wang, both of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. It has been circulating in academic circles over the past year; a copy is at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=687584 
Mark Hulbert, "The Analysts vs. the Insiders," The New York Times, September 25, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/business/yourmoney/25stra.html

"How Informative are Analyst Recommendations and Insider Trades?"
JIM HSIEH George Mason University
LILIAN K. NG University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - School of Business Administration
QINGHAI WANG University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - School of Business Administration
Link --- http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=687584

Abstract:
This study jointly evaluates the informativeness of insider trades and analyst recommendations. We show that the two activities often generate contradictory signals. Insiders in aggregate buy more shares when their firm's stock is unfavorably recommended or downgraded by analysts than when it is favorably recommended or upgraded. This result is robust to various controls such as varying degrees of analyst coverage, firm size, book-to-market ratios, and stock price momentum. We find that analyst recommendations affect insider trading decisions, but not vice versa. Our further analysis shows that insider trading is informative when signaling positive information, and analyst recommendations are informative when conveying negative information. The overall results imply that corporate insiders and financial analysts do not substitute each other's informational role in the financial market.


Ten Things You Didn't Know About the World Bank & Debt Issues --- http://snipurl.com/DebtRelief10Things

What are the 18 poorest nations that will have their World Bank debt dropped?
Finance ministers from around the world reached agreement on Saturday on a plan to wipe out as much as $55 billion in debt owed by impoverished countries. The deal still needs to win support from the major shareholders of the World Bank, which would forgive a large portion of the outstanding loans, but American and European officials said they were confident the plan would win approval on Sunday. The agreement, which will initially affect about 18 countries, came after two years of grinding debate between the United States, Japan, Britain and most of the wealthy nations in Europe.
Edmund L. Andrews, "Deal Is Reached to Drop Debt of 18 Poor Nations," The New York Times, September 25, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/politics/25imf.html


The Bank has been at the forefront of debt relief initiatives for years. It therefore welcomes the recent proposal by leaders of the eight richest industrialized countries, the G8, to cancel the debt of 18 of the poorest countries in the world. It is another positive step in providing the financing poor countries need if they are to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an international set of development targets to be reached by the year 2015. The Bank has provided debt relief to low-income countries through the joint World Bank and IMF Debt Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC Initiative) which started in 1996. Two thirds of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs, 28 countries) are receiving debt relief which will amount to US$56 billion over time. The World Bank’s contribution to the HIPC Initiative for the 28 countries approved so far is expected to be about US$14 billion over time.
World Bank Debt Relief --- http://snipurl.com/Sept2005DebtRelief


An ancient manuscript gives up its secrets
Last spring, researchers from a Baltimore museum traveled to Palo Alto with three pages of a 1,000-year-old goatskin manuscript in a sealed container the size of a cigar box. For five days in May, Uwe Bergmann, a physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and his team painstakingly X-rayed the fragile leaves of a palimpsest believed to include the oldest known writings of Archimedes.
"When Archimedes Met the Synchrotron X-rays help decipher an ancient manuscript," Stanford Magazine, September/October 2005 --- http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2005/sepoct/farm/news/manuscript.html


Question
What's the most booming business in the world?

Answer
"Dutch Court Fight Lays Bare Reality Of Kidnap Industry:  Mr. Erkel's Two-Year Ordeal Ended in Ransom Payment Despite the Usual Denials A Mysterious Intermediary," by Andrew Higgins and Alan Cullison, The Wall Street Journal,  September 22, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112735374607948223,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

From Iraq to Chechnya to China, the kidnap industry is booming. According to companies that offer ransom insurance and groups that track the problem, kidnapping generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year, enriching criminal gangs and helping fuel armed insurgencies. In almost all cases, for fear of encouraging the practice, governments and companies that pay ransoms deny cooperating with kidnap groups.

In Mr. Erkel's case, this script has unraveled. In an unusually public spat, the Dutch Foreign Ministry has gone to court in Geneva to try and force the Swiss branch of Médecins Sans Frontičres, or MSF, to pay back the money it says was used to purchase Mr. Erkel's freedom -- plus 9.2% interest. Documents in that case, which was filed in June 2004, plus numerous interviews in Europe and Russia, lift the veil on the kinds of shadowy negotiations often held between kidnappers, intermediaries and victims' governments, employers and families.

European countries, in particular, often bend their no-ransom pledges, according to many people who work in this field. A string of French and Italian hostages were freed in Iraq earlier this year and few experts believe government denials that ransoms were paid. The U.S. government sticks to its stated policy of not paying. American companies and individuals, however, often cough up through intermediaries hired by insurance companies, says Greg Bangs, a specialist in kidnap and ransom policies for Chubb & Son, an insurance company.

The practice is buoyed by the tangled relationships in many parts of the world between kidnap gangs and the local law-enforcement agencies ostensibly charged with capturing them. In June, the Kremlin-backed president of Chechnya, Alu Alkhanov, told reporters that Russian forces were responsible for as much as 10% of the reported kidnappings in the region -- though he said the practice was legal because they were detaining suspected insurgents. Human-rights groups say families often pay Russian troops to secure the release of an arrested relative. The local police chief investigating the Erkel case says a portion of ransom payments often ends up in the pockets of security officials.

Continued in article

Sixty Minutes (CBS on 9/25/2005) ran a module where a kidnap victim had to live blindfolded in a basement room with up to nine other people for ten months.  All were blindfolded in an concrete room below ground that was only eleven feed long and eight feet wide.  It had no plumbing or fresh air.  He was eventually rescued.


Question
What is another booming business in the world?
I think I'm just blogging on the wrong topics!

Answer
Blog network pioneers keep their finances close to the chest, but salary information for scribes behind hit sites like Gizmodo, Fleshbot and Gawker is starting to trickle out. Time to quit your day job and blog for a living?

"Can Bloggers Strike It Rich?" by Adam L. Penenberg, Wired News, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,68934,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

When it comes to the profit potential of blogs, Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media, calls himself a skeptic.

It's a surprisingly pessimistic perspective coming from the Brit who has launched a network of 13 theme blogs -- including Fleshbot (porn), Gawker and Defamer (gossip), Gizmodo (gadgets) and Wonkette (politics). His most popular properties (Defamer, Gizmodo and Gawker) report between 4 million and 6 million visits per month and millions more pageviews, he and his top talent have been featured in articles in the ink-and-pulp press (Wired, The New York Times Magazine) and Denton rarely misses an opportunity to trumpet ads on his sites for blue-chip companies like Absolut, Audi, Sony, Nike, Viacom, Disney and Condé Nast.


What is a booming business on the Gulf Coast, albeit not for all companies?
Mr. Garrett's complaints are being echoed by a growing number of minority business owners across the Gulf Coast who say they're being shut out of the first wave of Katrina-related contracts. They blame longstanding ties between federal and state officials and white-owned companies, as well as Bush administration moves that eased affirmative-action rules for new contracts as long as a state of emergency exists. The critics say they are particularly concerned by provisions of the federal Katrina relief funds that temporarily waive a requirement that federal contractors provide written affirmative action plans and that double the size of the contracts that can be awarded without giving special opportunities to the economically disadvantaged.
Yochi J. Dreazen and Jeff D. Opdyke,
"Minorities Say Katrina Work Flows to Others," The Wall Street Journal,  September 23, 2005; Page B1 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112743429825649371,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
Jensen Comment:  I have this feeling that the problem gets worse when Louisiana politicians and bureaucrats let contracts. 


Art detective exposes hidden images to fuel Da Vinci Code conspiracies
Amid the obsessive scholars and scheming prelates who inhabit Dan Brown's global blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code, there is a real person. Maurizio Seracini works in a high-ceilinged, colourfully frescoed palazzo just across the river from the Uffizi gallery in Florence. His premises are packed with machines that look as if they belong in a hospital or laboratory. Brown calls him an "art diagnostician", which is not a bad description for someone who probes paintings with state-of-the-art-technology, often to advise museums, dealers and collectors on their restoration.
John Hooper, "Art detective exposes hidden images to fuel Da Vinci Code conspiracies," Guardian, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,11711,1573915,00.html


Why do I feel good about this Microsoft failure?
A study conducted earlier this year concluded that more consumers found MSN's search results to be less relevant to their queries following the switchover, say people familiar with the matter. Meantime, MSN executives say they have been surprised at how quickly Google has increased the average ad revenue it generates for each consumer search. Within the MSN unit, Microsoft is pushing hard to increase the relevance of the results it returns to users. And it is planning an ambitious marketing campaign to bolster the MSN brand against Google, which commands the leading share of search queries despite buying almost no advertising.
Kevin J. Delaney and Robert A Guth, "New Search Engine From Microsoft Gets Cool Welcome," The Wall Street Journal,  September 22, 2005; Page B1 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112735486532848253,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

Keynote is not so keynoting
According to The Wall Street Journal, Keynote, at the request of Microsoft, withheld a consumer survey that would have shown the software maker's MSN search engine slipping. The study, according to the newspaper, found that based on its ability to find relevant results, MSN fell to No. 5 from No. 3.
Antone Gonsalves, "Search Engines Missing The High Road," InternetWeek Newsletter, September 23, 2005


New from Wharton: 
Around the World on $48 (or So): How High Can Discount Airlines Fly?

As two more major U.S. airlines, Delta and Northwest, file for bankruptcy protection, it's the discount carriers that appear to be winning the battle for America's skies. But it's not only in the U.S. that discounters are giving the more established carriers a run for their money. Discounters are taking off in Mexico, India, China, Europe and points in between. What kind of competition do these discounters face, from the majors and from each other? And what obstacles, especially in countries like China, are governments and regulators putting in their way?
"Around the World on $48 (or So): How High Can Discount Airlines Fly?" Knowledge@Wharton, September 22, 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1286


New from Wharton: 
A Month after Katrina: Lessons from Leadership Failures

Hurricane Katrina not only devastated the city of New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast of the U.S., it initiated a bitter debate about the leadership -- or lack thereof -- exhibited by government officials before, during and after the storm. Called into question have been the actions of an array of leaders: President Bush, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown. To identify some of the leadership challenges raised by the New Orleans disaster, Knowledge@Wharton interviewed two Wharton faculty members and a former Wharton vice dean who is now dean of the business school at Arizona State University.
"A Month after Katrina: Lessons from Leadership Failures " Knowledge@Wharton, September 22, 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1289


New from Wharton: 
From Pro Footballer to Businessman: You're a Rookie All Over Again

Hall of Fame footballer Ronnie Lott is sitting in front of a classroom, lecturing a small group of fellow players about the importance of learning the playbook. But the playbook that he is discussing has nothing to do with running and tackling. Lott is counseling a group of current and former NFL players on making the transition from pro football to business. It's part of a year-long executive education program called "Entrepreneurial Management: Transitioning with Success," organized by the Wharton Sports Business Initiative and sponsored by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Lott's talk is one of the follow-up sessions that are a key part of the program, which focuses on everything from financial analysis and entrepreneurship to real estate development and stock market investing.
"From Pro Footballer to Businessman: You're a Rookie All Over Again," Knowledge@Wharton, September 22, 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1290


SmartPros has some good summaries of recent top selling books (longer reviews are available for a fee)

Here are three summaries on some of this year's bestsellers:
 
  The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
  Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger and Better From a Crisis
  The New Workforce: Five Sweeping Trends That Will Shape Your Company's Future

From the Scout Report on September 23, 2005

The Kaiser Family Foundation: Medicare and Medicaid at 40 [Real Player, pdf] http://www.kff.org/medicaid/40years.cfm 

The Medicare and Medicaid health programs are two of the most influential government policies. Signed into law forty years ago, they have continued to provide medical protection to a wide range of people in American society. To celebrate and document the achievements of this program, the Kaiser Family Foundation has created this site, which contains a number of helpful materials, including a retrospective video, a timeline of key developments in the history of Medicare and Medicaid, and some key statistics on the program. The site also provides access to a number of crucial articles from the journal Health Affairs. Some of these pieces include “Medicare, Medicaid, And Health Care Quality” by William L. Roper and “What Does It Take To Run Medicare and Medicaid?” by Nancy-Ann DeParle.


Trust for America’s Health [pdf] http://healthyamericans.org/ 

With a genuine and informed concern for the American populace, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is “dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.” By assembling a team of topical experts and policy analysts, they have been able to offer broad appraisals of the various public health issues (and potential crises) that are affecting the country. Their website provides the web-browsing public ample access to the wide range of material they have generated through their work. The “Current Reports” area on the homepage contains such timely reports as “How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2005” and “Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities:The Search for Causes and Cures”. Another very helpful feature is the “Your State’s Health” section. Here, visitors can click on any state they might be interested in and receive some brief statistics on such areas as the percentage of adults with asthma or the percentage of obese adults. Additionally, visitors can learn about each state’s cancer tracking mechanisms and bioterrorism preparedness.


Informed Public Perceptions of Nanotechnology and Trust in Government [pdf] http://www.wilsoncenter.org/news/docs/macoubriereport.pdf 

Public perception and understanding of science and technology can be a difficult and daunting subject. This latest report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, authored by Dr. Jane Macoubrie, explores public attitudes toward the growing field of nanotechnology. In its 31- pages, the report reveals that the public is interested in the potential advances afforded by this technology, which exploits the unique behavior of materials and devices when engineered at a scale of roughly between one and one hundred nanometers. The report also shows that people are concerned about the general lack of consumer awareness of the field and the potential lack of government oversight of this rapidly emerging technology. As David Rejeski, the director of the Project on Emerging Technologies commented recently, “The kinds of safety measures and disclosure the public wants make sense in terms of both long-term corporate strategy and good public policy”.


A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges Of A New Era [pdf] http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG290.pdf 

The world of the visual arts is, at times, a chaotic one. There are a myriad of different institutions attempting to garner the attention of experts in the field, the general public, and various philanthropic organizations. It can be a complex landscape, but this latest report from the RAND organization goes a long way to document the many challenges that the visual arts community faces. While some pundits have described a largely positive portrait of the visual arts, this 152-page report released in August 2005, offers a bit of a more critical perspective on the current situation. Among its many findings, the report notes that the growth in overall museum attendance in recent years is primarily a product of population growth and higher education levels, rather than a result of museums' attempts to broaden the diversity of their audience. The report also suggests that the majority of the art museums around the country will need to ask a number of key questions, including what their primary goal is and how will they measure their success.

 


White collar crime punishments are a joke even if whistle blowing does make them less funny
The main whistle-blower in the accounting fraud at HealthSouth Corp. received the longest sentence so far in the case, while another former executive received probation. U.S. District Judge Robert Propst sentenced former Chief Financial Officer Weston Smith, 45 years old, to 27 months in prison, one year of probation and ordered him to pay $1.5 million in forfeited assets. He pleaded guilty in March 2003 to conspiracy, fraud and violating the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate-reporting law. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Ingram, who asked the judge for a five-year sentence, said Mr. Smith was the first person to reveal a $2.7 billion fraud at the Birmingham, Ala., rehabilitation and medical-services chain and would deserve an even longer sentence had he not come forward when he did.
"HealthSouth Ex-Finance Chief Is Given 27-Month Prison Term," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112741852577848939,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Bob Jensen's threads on HealthSouth and Ernst & Young are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Ernst

It pays to be an accounting cheat because you don't have to return your bonus that you got by cheating
Hundreds of companies have restated earnings in recent years - 414 in 2004 alone, according to a recent study by the Huron Consulting Group. And in many cases, the revisions came in the wake of discoveries of questionable accounting or other possible wrongdoing that meant the numbers leading to bonuses were inaccurate. But a review of restatements by large corporations shows that companies very, very rarely - as in almost never - get that money back. The list of restatements was compiled for Sunday Business by Glass Lewis & Company, a research firm based in San Francisco.
Jonathan D. Glater, "Sorry, I'm Keeping the Bonus Anyway," The New York Times, March 13, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/13/business/yourmoney/13restate.html


This is absolutely unfair!  If a CEO loots his/her company, the company pays insurance for all legal costs of the CEO even if he's convicted of looting the company that pays the insurance premiums.
A company that insured Tyco International Ltd. executives must pay legal bills for former Chief Executive L. Dennis Kozlowski, who is on trial on corporate-looting charges, an appeals court said. In a 5-0 ruling, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division left open the possibility that Federal Insurance Co., a Chubb Corp. subsidiary, could later recover some of the costs from Mr. Kozlowski. A lower court judge had ruled that Federal Insurance, which provided liability coverage to Tyco, was required to pay Mr. Kozlowski's legal bills . . . Mr. Kozlowski and Mark H. Swartz, Tyco's former chief financial officer, are accused of stealing $170 million from the conglomerate by hiding unauthorized pay and bonuses and by abusing loan programs. They also are accused of making $430 million by inflating the value of Tyco stock by lying about the company's finances. Their retrial in Manhattan's State Supreme Court on charges of grand larceny, falsifying business records and violating state business laws is ending its second month. Their first trial ended in a mistrial in April.
Associated Press, "Insurer to Pay Kozlowski's Costs," The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2005; Page C3 --http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111161345997387951,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Bob Jensen's threads on how white collar crime pays even if you get caught. http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#CrimePays
For example Andy Fastow stole over $60 million from Enron and was required to pay back less than $30 million.  Where will the remainder be when he emerges a free man in a few years?


Effects and Unintended Consequences of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on Corporate Boards
JAMES S. LINCK University of Georgia - Department of Banking and Finance JEFFRY M. NETTER University of Georgia - Department of Banking and Finance TINA YANG University of Georgia - Department of Banking and Finance
SSRN http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=687496

In response to the high-profile scandals like Enron and WorldCom, President Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) into law on July 30, 2002. The Act represents the most sweeping overhaul of the securities law since the Great Depression and brings significant changes to corporate governance and boards of directors. Using a sample of nearly 7,000 public firms, we study the impact of SOX on corporate boards. We find that board independence - characterized as the percentage of non-employee directors (outsiders) on the board, the percentage of firms with a majority of outsiders on the board, and the percentage of firms with separate CEO and Chairman - increases significantly after the passage of SOX. Firms increase board independence by adding non-executive directors rather than removing executive directors, resulting in larger boards. Further, board changes are most significant for firms that are targeted by SOX and for firms with large managerial ownership. In addition, director turnover and replacement increases significantly after the passage of SOX. Executive directors are less likely to be added to the board in the post-SOX period than in the pre-SOX period, while non-executive directors are more likely to receive the nomination. Finally, we provide preliminary evidence of some of the effects of Section 404, specifically increased numbers of committees and committee meetings. There is also strong evidence that SOX has imposed disproportionate burdens on small firms. For example, small firms paid $5.91 to non-employee directors on every $1,000 in sales in the pre-SOX period, which increased to $9.76 on every $1000 in sales in the post-SOX period. In contrast, large firms incurred 13 cents in director cash compensation per $1,000 in sales in the Pre-SOX period, which increased only to 15 cents in the Post-SOX period.


I'm assigning this as an introduction to XBRL:  A good non-technical book white paper on XBRL
"Business Case for XBRL" --- http://www.xbrl.org/us/us/BusinessCaseForXBRL.pdf

Then I will assign selected references from http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#TimelineXBRL


"The Peter Principle in Academe," by Margaret Gutman Klosko, Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/workplace/2005/09/21/klosko

Those who leave faculty appointments to write mystery novels, travelogues, self-help books, and biographies are usually not seen again in the academy. Some make a lot of money, and some, very little. But they all own themselves, and although the work is hard, they can sleep late in the morning. They are not promoted, and when they fail, they only make their families, cashiers, and waiters miserable. Still they disappear without a trace like everyone else.

On the other hand, those who go into academic associations, government, or, as in our case, academic administration, choosing steady income and health and retirement benefits, either gather moss in middle management jobs, or rise to higher levels of the administrative ladder — directorships, deanships, vice presidencies, presidencies, etc. In all sectors of the economy, as the Peter Principle describes, administrators typically rise to their levels of incompetence, and then fail — quietly usually, but sometimes in magnificent blazes of failure.

As you read this, academic administrator, you may be rising, stagnating, or failing in your career. Whichever stage you are in, if you are an executive academic administrator, you probably are reporting to someone who is in the process of failing. (This corresponds to the existential truism that everyone alive is dying.) If your boss is in the terminal stages of failure, and s/he is after your hide, your life may seem to you to be unbearable. It should not be, for there are ways of understanding your situation and your boss’s situation that can give you a more serene and humane outlook on the pain your supervisor is inflicting on you, as well as a glimpse at your own future.

I offer words of enlightenment, which, I hope, will help you safeguard your heart and your job, no matter how temporarily.

Continued in article


Student governments of Emory and Washington University declare war on one another

"Student Government or Student Humor?" by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/21/emory

What with the lingering U.S. presence in Iraq, the devastation of Katrina, and the uncertain economy, it’s no surprise that some students feel troubled.

The student government at Emory University is trying a novel approach to helping students: declaring “war” on Washington University in St. Louis. At Wash U., however, students appear to have other concerns and most of them are ignoring the war, possibly forcing Emory combatants to take both sides in a war of insults.

Last weekend, graffiti, leaflets with insults, and toilet paper in trees appeared on both campuses. But sources familiar with the skirmishes said that Emory students staged not only the “attack” on Washington, but also the one at Emory, in hopes of riling students. Most Emory students have not fled to bomb shelters (or anywhere for that matter). But the president of the student government — a senior named Amrit P. Dhir — held an emergency meeting of the student government and announced that he was abolishing the legislative branch and replacing it with himself as “supreme leader.” The war declaration banned students from wearing Washington University clothing (unless it contained insults) and said that freedom of the press was “to be tolerated ... for now.”

Continued in article


I volunteered for this (face) transplant:  I hope they remove extra chins
In the next few weeks, five men and seven women will secretly visit the Cleveland Clinic to interview for the chance to have a radical operation that's never been tried anywhere in the world. They will smile, raise their eyebrows, close their eyes, open their mouths. Dr. Maria Siemionow will study their cheekbones, lips and noses. She will ask what they hope to gain and what they most fear.
"Facing Up to Ultimate Transplant," Wired News, September 19, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,68907,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_7


This is a really big deal:  What's the latest in fighting restenosis?
Today, restenosis in coronary arteries afflicts less than 10 percent of patients thanks to the development of the drug-eluting stent (DES), which slowly releases a drug that inhibits the growth of scar tissue. Drug-eluting stents now command more than 90 percent of the $3 billion U.S. coronary-stent market, according to the Millennium Research Group. DESs have not been approved for peripheral arteries. Johnson & Johnson pioneered the new generation of stents, but the $50 billion company lost its dominant market position to a partnership between medical-device company Boston Scientific of Natick, MA, and Angiotech Pharmaceuticals of Vancouver, BC. The two companies signed a pact in 1997 that led to the development of Boston Scientific's Taxus stent, which was introduced in the U.S. in March 2004.
Jim Kling, "The Lucrative Elution," MIT's Technology Review, October 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/10/issue/brief_elution.asp?trk=nl


Why was this poor man ever jailed in the first place?  This was really, really stupid! 
Did Barney make the arrest in Mayberry?
The mother of a quadriplegic man who died while serving a 10-day jail sentence filed a lawsuit today against District of Columbia officials and Greater Southeast Community Hospital over the deficient care that led to her son’s death. Mary Scott, mother of Jonathan Magbie, joined the American Civil Liberties Union and local attorneys at a press conference on the courthouse steps this morning to announce the lawsuit. “My son died last year because doctors at the Jail and Greater Southeast Hospital completely ignored his medical needs,” said Scott. “Today, I am seeking justice for my son and my family. The wrongdoers must be held accountable for Jonathan’s death.”
"ACLU and Local Attorneys File Lawsuit Over Quadriplegic Left To Die At DC Jail," ACLU, September 20, 2005 --- http://www.aclu.org/


Many people have rushed to pronounce the Orange Revolution dead.
Opponents of Ukrainian democracy -- foremost in a Kremlin visibly nervous that this experiment might catch on in the neighborhood -- want to declare last year's political turnover a fatal mistake. The European Union for its part points to the troubles in Kiev to justify its preferred hands-off approach to Ukraine. To these doubters, Ukrainians can respond that democracies are seldom placid. The upheavals in the Berlin Republic this past week are a good reminder that open, competitive politics can be messy. But, as the recently freed peoples of the New Europe would rush to attest, it's better than the alternative. In Ukraine until recently, and in Germany two generations ago, and in Russia today, that alternative is authoritarianism. Ukraine's current crisis grew out of the Orange Revolution. It's not a betrayal of it.
"Orange Crushed," The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112733645300747723,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


Thanks David, but what if we look inside and find it empty?  I'm reminded of a senior professor years ago who served at a renowned accounting research university for six years in a city known for its winds.  His comment was:  "I looked into that black box and found that there was nothing inside?"

September 21, 2005 message from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

Elinor Mills, a writer for ZDNet news, has an interesting article out today. In it, she speculates about Google's apparent long-term strategy. It is found at: Google builds an empire to rival Microsoft http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5875433-2.html?tag=st.next  
By Elinor Mills, CNET News.com Published on ZDNet News: September 21, 2005, 8:00 AM PT

To a certain extent, it builds one of her earlier articles: Google balances privacy, reach http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5787483.html?tag=nl 
Elinor Mills, CNET News.com Pblished on ZDNet News: July 14, 2005, 4:00 AM PT

If one can dream about future Internet-based computing power while at the same time overlooking issues of privacy (the other David has written that there is no such practical thing as privacy), then today's article is certainly thought-provoking. In many ways, I look forward to the day when computing is no longer constrained by storing programs and data on either desktop or laptop.

As an aside, we wouldn't need Turnitin, because plagiarism detection would take place automatically, even as a person writes the first draft of a paper.

Education would be much different, I think, if everything ever done on a computer is stored forever in Google's data base. Since Google is thinking big, perhaps everything ever spoken into a phone or communicated via radio or television would also be so stored. If home conversations get recorded (a by-product of Internet-based home management applications), then everything except a person's innermost secret thoughts would get recorded and stored in a data base.

This would eventually lead professors to get to the stage where they finally can peer into the minds (virtual minds) of students to see what they truly think, to determine what the student knows today, to offer the chance for the student to learn something new, and then to assess the actual quality of the student's learning experience.

David Albrecht

 


Short Soaps, Three Stooges What's on cell phone TV and is it worth watching?
"Short Soaps, Three Stooges," The Wall Street Journal,  September 22, 2005; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112734855989648068,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
Jensen Comment:  Then again, who's going to watch Gone With the Wind on a cell phone screen?


Trends in cell phone television
So far, companies are exploring three major business models, which offer subscriptions to pre-recorded video clips, live network television, or customized content prepared specifically for cell phones. Verizon is putting a big marketing push behind its video-clip subscription service, VCast. The service offers fare such as sports highlights, comedy shows, and CNN segments, along with various games, and is currently available in more than 60 metropolitan areas in the United States. Verizon offers the service within its high-speed EvDo wireless networks. To subscribe to VCast, Verizon users must first sign up for the company's EvDo service ($60 per month), then pay an additional $15 per month. The clips are downloaded at speeds typically around 500 kb/s-- less than half the speed of a home DSL modem, but almost ten times faster than existing cellular data networks.
Eric Hellweg, "TV to Go," MIT's Technology Review, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/09/wo/wo_092305hellweg.asp?trk=nl


What is MIMO and how will it affect your life?
Still, each new generation of wireless gadgets gets better, generally cheaper, and seemingly more popular. Now an emerging wireless networking technology called MIMO promises real breakthroughs in speed, accessibility, and reliability. That has implications for today's corporate networks, home Wi-Fi networks, and cellular networks. MIMO stands for "multiple input, multiple output." Wi-Fi routers based on the technology use a series of radios in conjunction with several "smart" antennas to send and receive signals simultaneously. Handling multiple signals makes possible much stronger, more reliable, and faster transmissions--in theory. Consumers will see MIMO in a new class of wireless networking products categorized as "pre-n," after the nomenclature of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' 802.11 wireless Ethernet standards committee. The IEEE wireless standards with the broadest impact have been, in the order in which they reached market, 802.11b, 802.11a, and 802.11g.
Michael Fitzgerald, "Hearing Multiple Signals," MIT's Technology Review, October 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/10/issue/review_signal.asp?trk=nl


Learning now not to manage employees at Microsoft
It appears Microsoft is listening to its critics. The company has overhauled its business operations on the heels of media reports that its bureaucracy had led to a lot of unhappy employees. Indeed, the company has lost scores of workers, some to competitors, with executive Kai-Fu Lee's jump to Google causing the biggest stir.
InternetWeek Newsletter
on September 21, 2005


"Tenure, Turnover and the Quality of (K-12) Teaching," by Hal R. Varian, The New York Times, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/business/22scene.html

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Eric Hanushek, John Kain, Daniel O'Brien and Steven Rivkin called "The Market for Teacher Quality" sheds some light on these contentious issues. (A summary of the paper and a link to the text are at www.nber.org/digest/aug05/w11154.html.)

. . .

From my reading of the paper, both effects appear important and there is no simple answer. The data do suggest, however, that teacher effectiveness is pretty clear by the end of the second year, so the information to make an informed decision is available at that time.

The authors also investigate the contentious issue of racial matching of students and teachers. Here they find strong evidence that minority teachers tend to be more effective with minority students. "Students who have had both a black and a white teacher perform better relative to classmates during the year in which they had a teacher of their own race," they said. Again, it is unclear whether this is because of a role model effect (students respond better to a teacher of their own race) or an empathy effect (teachers empathize better with students of their own race) or something else entirely.

The authors also look at teacher mobility. There is some evidence that teachers who quit teaching or switch schools tend to be below average in effectiveness. This is consistent with the survival-of-the-fittest model.

Continued in article


How time flies

The Wall Street Journal Flashback, September 21, 1990
The two German parliaments independently ratified the treaty that will officially unify their nations Oct. 3. The 1,000-page unification treaty details how all functions of the East German state will be united with those of West Germany.

I wonder if the victim's name is Humpty Dumpty
When police arrived Monday, Contreras Alvarez held out his wrists to police, said Mint Hill Police Chief Brian Barnhardt. Then he showed officer a torso on the bedroom floor. He later helped police find the dead man's head, legs and arms scattered across hundreds of feet in a wooded area behind the home, police said. Police did not release the name of the man killed because they were still trying to notify his family . . .
"N.C. roommate charged with murder after dismembered body found," News-Record.com, September 21, 2005 --- http://beta.news-record.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050921/NEWSREC0101/50921005


Iranian Authorities Torture Gay Youth --- http://gaypatriot.net/2005/09/20/iranian-authorities-torture-gay-youth


Links to Agatha Christie's books and movies --- http://christie.mysterynet.com//

The works and life of Samuel Dashiell Hammett --- http://www.transki.freeserve.co.uk/ 

Link forwarded by Richard Campbell

Black-Scholes Options Pricing: Creating (Interactive) Matrix Calculators with Xcelsius --- http://infommersion.com/Learning/nl_0905_art3.html

Bob Jensen's calculator bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob3.htm#080512Calculators


Perhaps these pensions should not be included since these airlines are probably going to dump their pension obligations on the Federal Government anyway.

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Week in Review on September 22, 2005

TITLE: Delta, Northwest Omit Pensions from Filings
REPORTER: Susan Carey and Evan Perez
DATE: Sep 16, 2005
PAGE: A3 LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112683441976042541,00.html 
TOPICS: Advanced Financial Accounting, Financial Accounting, Pension Accounting

SUMMARY: The article discusses pension funding requirements, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), and legislative actions in detail.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What is the implication of the statement in the article title that these two airlines have omitted pension payments from bankruptcy court filings.

2.) What is an underfunded pension plan? What are possible different measures of a pension plan's funding level? Who establishes requirements for funding pension plans?

3.) What is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC)?

4.) Why might U.S. Congress enact a law to delay requirements for funding company pension plans? In your answer, consider the plight of the PBGC as described in this article.

5.) Why are discount airlines better able to compete and remain profitable than are so-called legacy airlines?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


Question
Have U.S. Post Offices stopped accepting dollar bills because of the wording on each bill reading "In God We Trust?'

Warning:  There are to be no pictures of money on Federal Property!
September 22, 2005 message from Will Christensen

. . . Post Offices in Texas were forced to remove posters which said “In God We Trust” from their lobbies. In response, a movement has been started to write “In God We Trust” on the back or front of the envelopes of the letters we mail.


Try not to let your mind wander...It is too small and fragile to be out by itself.
Unknown but perceptive author (forwarded by Dick Haar)




 

Tidbits on September 28, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp 


Music:

Lively folk song downloads (these are good) --- http://www.jamesreams.com/listen.html
With lots to choose from for free

Old time bluegrass banjo downloads --- http://www.silcom.com/~peterf/ideas/fiddlel.htm

Mike Maloney sings a couple of Irish folk songs --- http://www.stevevincent.org/music-samples.html

Christian folk music --- http://www.stevevincent.org/music-samples.html

Killin' Time --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/time.htm
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on.

In the past I've provided links to various types of music available free on the Web. 
This weekend I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Inspirational and Patriotic Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Inspirational
Romantic Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Romantic
Country and Western --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Country

1950s-60s Juke Box Tunes --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#JukeBox
Humor Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Humor

Banjo, Fiddle, Bluegrass, and American Folk Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#AmericanFolk
Foreign Folk Music and Other Music From Foreign Lands --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#AmericanFolk

Jazz and Blues --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Classical
Classical Music Christmas and Other Seasonal Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Holiday

Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

 

Photographs

Eternity Travel (a great site from the Museum of Science in Boston) ---  http://www.mos.org/quest/et/

Beautiful pictures of female soldiers from around the world, sorted by country.
Courtesy of the Iran Defence Forum --- http://www.irandefence.net/showthread.php?t=29
The Iran Defence Net is at --- http://www.irandefence.net/showthread.php?t=29




Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.
Jules Renard


Inbred Historians:  Diversity Problem in History Departments
Only applicants from elite universities need apply
Recent decades have opened up history faculties so that they include more female and minority scholars. But a new report released by the American Historical Association says that in key respects history departments are becoming “less diverse.” Top doctoral programs are admitting Ph.D. students from a narrow group of mostly private institutions and top departments are in turn hiring from a narrow range of institutions, the report says. The preference of elite institutions to admit graduate students from other elite institutions is, of course, nothing new. But the history report says the discipline — having become more egalitarian — is now shifting back with regard to its mix of public and private graduates. In 1966, 57 percent of history Ph.D.’s had received their undergraduate degrees from private institutions, 37 from public institutions, and the remainder from international institutions. In the 1980s, public and private graduates had achieved parity. But in the 90s, the gap returned, growing to a 47-42 percent edge for private institutions, even though far more undergraduates attend public institutions.
Scott Jaschik, "Inbred Historians," Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/26/history 

Jensen Comment on the X-Chromosome Problem.
Elite colleges of business also have an inbreeding problem.  Often its the same lack of diversity of hiring found among Ivy-type history programs hiring their own as described above.  If it isn't that, there is the X-Chromosome Problem that leaves selected doctoral programs with an overage of X chromosomes.  Professor XR1 at top University R has a doctoral student XC2 who gets tenure at University C.  XC2 then has a doctoral student XR3 who is hired back at old University R.  XR3 then has a doctoral student XC4 who is hired at University C.  XC4 then has doctoral student XR5 who is hired . . .


Ruse by the industry to make you think you are eating less salt
How much (Salt) should you eat? Note that 2.5g sodium = 1g salt

From Number Watch, September 2005 --- http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2005%20September.htm

The health authorities advise eating no more than 6g per day. This includes processed foods so check the ingredients lists on labels.

Note that sodium (often noted on labels in place of salt) is more than twice the strength of salt. So 2.5g sodium equals 1g salt. It is a ruse by the industry to make you think you are eating less salt.

Always taste food before adding salt because it may not need it. Be aware that salt is "hidden" in or added to many everyday foods, including breakfast cereals, biscuits, stock cubes, soup, ready-cooked meals (especially those containing meat), crisps and other snack foods


Geologic Time: The Story of a Changing Earth (from The Smithsonian)  http://www.nmnh.si.edu/paleo/geotime/main/index.html


Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more embroils the fray
By which he reigns: next him high arbiter
Chance governs all.

John Miltion, Paradise Lost --- http://www.heartofmath.com/first_edition/pdfs/pg481.pdf

Liking some women less and less:  Even before Rita the Katrina oil spill was a huge disaster on U.S. Gulf Coast
Hurricane Katrina unleashed at least 40 oil spills from ruptured pipelines, approaching the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill. And the delicate environmental situation has worsened as the influx of salt water has damaged the area's wetlands.
Ken Wells, "Oil, Saltwater Mar Louisiana Coast, Threaten Future:  Katrina Dumps 193,000 Barrels Over Damaged
Marshlands; Fishing Areas Are Polluted," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112743511286949395,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one


Where were the protective fathers when Katrina warnings grew more urgent?
It took the media a while to acknowledge that most of Katrina's victims were black. Apparently, it will take longer to mention that most of the victims were women and children. I noticed three commentators who brought up the delicate subject of the mostly missing males--George Will, Gary Bauer, and Thomas Bray, a columnist for the Detroit News. Will noted that 76 percent of births to Louisiana's African-Americans are to unmarried women, and probably more than 80 percent in New Orleans, since that is the usual estimate in other inner cities. Will wrote: "That translates into a large and constantly renewed cohort of lightly parented adolescent males, and that translates into chaos, in neighborhoods and schools, come rain or come shine."
John Leo, "All in the Family," Townhall.com, September 26, 2005 --- http://www.townhall.com/columnists/johnleo/jl20050926.shtml


The Gulf Coast: A Victim of Global Warming?
There are troubling signs in the meteorological record of a link between global warming and hurricane intensity, says Emanuel, a professor in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. But the best available science suggests that the now-scattered populations of the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts are the victims of mere happenstance. There are simply too few examples of catastrophic hurricanes hitting U.S. shores to make out any statistical trend, says Emanuel. "It would be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming," Emanuel wrote on his website this month.
Wade Roush, "The Gulf Coast: A Victim of Global Warming?" MIT's Technology Review, September 24, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/09/wo/wo_092405roush.asp?trk=nl


TCU Coach Takes the Test
More evidence that many universities are losing (or never had) quality control on athlete admissions and grading

The National Collegiate Athletic Association punished Texas Christian University’s men’s track program on Thursday for a set of rules violations that included some of the most egregious and unusual examples of academic fraud in recent history. They included an instance in which a former assistant coach took a final examination alongside a track athlete — with the consent of the faculty member in the course — and then swapped his version of the test with the athlete’s, allowing him to pass.
Doug Lederman, "NCAA Finds Fraud at TCU," Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/23/tcu

You can read more about quality control problems in college athletics at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book05q3.htm#CollegeAthletics


Smoking Grasso:  Is It Time to Dumb Down or Shut Down Engineering Colleges?
With the return of students to campuses this month comes annual hand wringing over the lack of diversity in our science and engineering classes. The United States is at a 14-year low in the percentage of women (16.3 percent) and African Americans (7.1 percent) enrolling in engineering programs. An engineering student body that is composed largely of white males is problematic not only because of its narrow design perspective, but also because failing to recruit from large segments of the population means the number of new engineers we produce falls well short of our potential. Although this is not a new problem, it is becoming ever more urgent. We are faced with an engineering juggernaut emanating from India and China, with more than 10 Asian engineers graduating for every one in the United States. Educated at great institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology or Tshingua University, these engineers are every bit as technically competent as their American counterparts. So here we sit at the beginning of the 21st century, in the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, with a comparatively small supply of home grown engineers, facing an explosion of technical mental horsepower overseas . . . If we do, our progeny stand a fighting chance of having a life worth living. And by giving engineering a larger, more socially relevant framework, expanding it beyond the narrow world of algorithms, the field should prove more attractive to women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups.
Domenico Grasso, "Is It Time to Shut Down Engineering Colleges?" Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/09/23/grasso
Jensen Comment:  Grasso's proposal to take the hard technical courses out of engineering curricula for the sake of diversity hardly gives me comfort in his vision of future "engineering" graduates.  Let's dumb down our engineers so they can compete better with Asians and Indians?  Give us a break! If we want more diversity lets try harder to get improve the skills and motivation of diverse inputs into the programs rather than dumb down the programs themselve.


Down's Syndrome Mice Offer Hope
Scientists have transplanted a nearly entire human chromosome in mice in a medical and technical breakthrough that could reveal new insights into Down's syndrome and other disorders. The genetically engineered mice carry a copy of the human chromosome 21. It is the smallest of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes with about 225 genes. Children suffering from Down's syndrome, which is one of the most common genetic disorders, inherit three copies of the chromosome instead of two. The achievement caps 13 years of research by scientists at the National Institute for Medical Health in London and the Institute of Neurology. "We are very optimistic that we will be able to get insights into what goes wrong with people with Down's," said Dr Victor Tybulewicz, who headed the research team.
"Down's Syndrome Mice Offer Hope," Wired News, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,68972,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_4


"The Real Reasons You're Working So Hard ...and what you can do about it," Business Week Cover Story, October 3, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/BWOct3

The good news -- if there is any, time-challenged amigo -- is that you are not alone. More than 31% of college-educated male workers are regularly logging 50 or more hours a week at work, up from 22% in 1980. Forty percent of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep on weekdays, reports the National Sleep Foundation, up from 31% in 2001. About 60% of us are sometimes or often rushed at mealtime, and one-third wolf down lunch at our desks, according to a survey by the American Dietetic Assn. To avoid wasting time, we're talking on our cell phones while rushing to work, answering e-mails during conference calls, waking up at 4 a.m. to call Europe, and generally multitasking our brains out.

. . .

This epidemic of long hours at the office -- whether physically or remotely -- defies historical precedent and common sense. Over the past 25 years, the Information Revolution has boosted productivity by almost 70%. So you would think that since we're producing more in fewer hours, such gains would translate into a decrease in the workweek -- as they have in the past. But instead of technology being a time-saver, says Warren Bennis, a University of Southern California professor and author of such management classics as On Becoming a Leader, "everybody I know is working harder and longer."

And the long-hour marathons aren't a result of demanding corporations exploiting the powerless. Most of the groggy-eyed are the best-educated and best-paid -- college grads whose real wages have risen by more than 30% since the 1980s. That's a change from 25 years ago, when it was the lowest-wage workers who were most likely to put in 50 hours or more a week, according to new research by Peter Kuhn of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Fernando A. Lozano of Pomona College.

With so many managers and professionals stuck at work, there is a growing consensus among management gurus that the stuck-at-work epidemic is symptomatic of a serious disorder in the organization of corporations. The problem, in a nutshell-to-go is this: Succeeding in today's economy requires lightning-fast reflexes and the ability to communicate and collaborate across the globe. Coming up with innovative ideas, products, and services means getting people across different divisions and different companies to work together. "More and more value is created through networks," says John Helferich, a top executive and former head of research and development at Masterfoods usa, a division of Mars Inc. and the maker of such products as M&Ms. "The guys who are good at it are winning."

Unfortunately, the communication, coordination, and teamwork so essential for success these days is being superimposed on a corporate structure that has one leg still in its gray flannel suit. Without strict gatekeepers (read secretaries), Tom, Jane, and Harry feel free to plug themselves into your electronic calendar. You and a colleague in another part of the company may dream up a great idea for a new product -- but it takes months to get approvals from your boss, his boss, and their boss. Or the corporate bigwigs order you to join a taskforce that is supposed to promote collaboration and innovation -- but it ends up taking a big chunk of your time. And no matter how many layers of management were supposed to be taken out, there always seem to be more people on the e-mail distribution lists.

You are not imagining things. Despite years of cutting corporate bloat, managers are a much bigger share of the workforce than they were 15 years ago. "We've added a new set of standards without fully dropping the old," says Thomas H. Davenport, professor of information technology and management at Babson College and author of the new book Thinking for a Living.

Continued in the article


Getting Angry Can Be a Good Thing --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4859208
Cecilia Munoz is vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza. Born in Detroit to Bolivian immigrants, she has worked on behalf of Hispanic-Americans. Munoz was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2000.


"Teaching the Benefits of Balance More B-schools are including courses on managing the complex relationship between your career and your life," by Jeffrey N. Gangemi, Business Week, October 3, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/BWOct3b

And it may be even more important in attracting and retaining top-notch women workers. According to "The New Workforce Reality," a study by the Simmons School of Management and Bright Horizons Family Solutions, an organization based in Watertown, Mass., that provides work-life counseling, 88% of women respondents listed respect for family and personal time as an important attribute in an employer, and 82% said they place value on working for an organization that's flexible in granting time off.

That's why B-schools are trying to help students better juggle their varied responsibilities. Stewart Friedman, a professor of organizational management at the
Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, teaches "Total Leadership," a course for both full-time and executive MBA students that preaches greater integration between personal and professional life.

. . .

BEYOND GOOD PAY. 
If any successful company is a model that embodies the opposite of "caffeine culture," says Hunt, it's SAS Institute, a privately held software company based in Cary, N.C. Hunt leads students through a case study that examines why SAS enjoys a 98% customer-retention rate year-to-year, when the average in U.S. industry is 80%. It also shows consistent growth and profits in the highly competitive software industry.

Students observe connections between customer satisfaction and SAS's 97% employee-retention rate, which alone is estimated to save between $60 million to $75 million annually in HR costs. And with on-site day care, health care, and workout centers, hours that employees would otherwise spend driving to the doctor's office conserved an additional million dollars last year, estimates Jeff Chambers, the vice-president for human resources at SAS.

"I thought the best job was the one that paid the most money," says Marc Vaglio-Laurin, manager of certification test development at SAS, who got his MBA from Duke University
Fuqua School of Business in 1989. But having spent seven years in corporate finance with four different companies, Vaglio-Laurin says even after 10 years at SAS, he would never voluntarily leave his post.

Continued in article
 


Fewer American Women Dying of Breast Cancer
There is more good news in the battle against breast cancerbreast cancer. Newly released figures show that deaths continue to decline, dropping about 2% a year since 1990. The drop was most dramatic among women under the age of 50, whose breast cancers tend to be more aggressive and harder to treat. The number of breast cancer deaths for this age group declined by 3.3% annually between 1990 and 2002. The figures were published today by the American Cancer Society, which reports each year on breast cancer trends. ACS officials credited earlier diagnosis and better treatments for the "slow, steady drop" in breast cancer deaths over the 12-year period.
Salynn Boyles, "Fewer American Women Dying of Breast Cancer:  Deaths Have Dropped Steadily for More Than a Decade," WebMD, September 22, 2005 --- http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/112/110386.htm?z=1727_00000_5024_hv_03


Teflon:  The Next Big Fraud in Litigation
Now that fraudulent asbestos claims have made the tort lawyers wealthy
"Claims against Teflon just don’t stick," by Doug Bandow, Cantonrep.com, September 22, 2005 --- http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=243424&Category=14&fromSearch=yes

Teflon is a wonder product. Before Teflon, washing a pan or pot was among the most disagreeable of tasks. Cleaning up is a very different task in today’s post-Teflon world.

There are even some unintended health and safety benefits from Teflon kichenware. You can cook using less fat, grease or oil, which is better for your heart, and there’s less chance of fire.

It’s a wonderful example of how a profit-minded company, in this case DuPont, came up with something that makes life easier, healthier and safer — all at once.

But no good deed goes unpunished in today’s legal system. In July, attorneys filed a $5-billion class action lawsuit against DuPont over the alleged health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

There are 14 plaintiffs, “but the class of potential plaintiffs could well contain almost every American that has purchased a pot or pan coated with DuPont’s nonstick coating,” explained attorney Alan Kluger.

Continued in article


From U.S. News & World Report, September 24, 2005

NEW!
Diseases & Conditions
Allergy & Asthma Center
Brain & Behavior Center
Heart Center
Bones, Joints & Muscles Center
Cancer Center

 


Best Places to Work in Federal Government
2005 Best Places to Work rankings, which rate job satisfaction among federal government employees at 248 organizations. Here you will find ratings of employee satisfaction, rankings by demographic group, and "Best in Class" scores for 10 workplace quality measurements, such as "Effective Leadership" and "Work/Life Balance." The rankings are created by the Partnership for Public Service and American University's Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.
"Best Places to Work in Federal Government," US News and World Report ---
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/best-places-to-work/home.htm

Office of Management & Budget on the top ---
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/best-places-to-work/rankings/agency-honor-roll.htm


Thanks George:  Dumb and Dummers in charge of government agencies?
How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?

A Time Magazine inquiry finds that at top positions in some vital government agencies, the Bush Administration is putting connections before experience  . . . The Bush Administration didn't invent cronyism; John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife. Jimmy Carter made his old friend Bert Lance his budget director, only to see him hauled in front of the Senate to answer questions on his past banking practices in Georgia, and George H.W. Bush deposited so many friends at the Commerce Department that the agency was known internally as "Bush Gardens." The difference is that this Bush Administration had a plan from day one for remaking the bureaucracy, and has done so with greater success. As far back as the Florida recount, soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney was poring over organizational charts of the government with an eye toward stocking it with people sympathetic to the incoming Administration. Clay Johnson III, Bush's former Yale roommate and the Administration's chief architect of personnel, recalls preparing for the inner circle's first trip from Austin, Texas, to Washington: "We were standing there getting ready to get on a plane, looking at each other like: Can you believe what we're getting ready to do?"
Mark Thompson, Karen Tumulty, and Mike Allen, "How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?" Time Magazine, September 25, 2005 --- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1109345,00.html


Mossberg:  Yahoo Email Delivers That Desktop Feel Most Users Expect
Web-based email programs, like Yahoo Mail, have long been inferior to email programs that take the form of standard applications installed on your computer. The Web offerings have been short on features, short on email storage and clumsy to use. Lately, however, that has begun to change. A number of major Web-mail providers have introduced versions that offer much more of the ease of use and power of desktop email programs like Microsoft Outlook. Yet they still retain the core advantage of Web-mail services: They can be accessed from any computer, Windows or Mac, with your settings and preferences always present. All you need is an Internet connection and a Web browser.
Walter Mossberg, "Yahoo Email Delivers That Desktop Feel Most Users Expect," The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,personal_technology,00.html


The Dow moved from $600 to over $10,000 in 40 years
The Wall Street Journal Flashback, September 26, 1961
Stocks broke to new low ground on the current decline, with aluminum, aircraft and missile shares under special pressure. The Dow-Jones industrial average sank 9.71 points, or 1.38%, to 601.86, its lowest level since July 25, just prior to President Kennedy's Berlin crisis speech.


Really dumb bank robbers
"Dumb and Dumber's tears win less jail time," Sydney Morning Herald, September 25, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/09/24/1126982270076.html

They were dubbed "Dumb and Dumber" because of the clues they left.

Even Carroll's lawyer described the crime as "absurd".

Mr Smith pointed to the fact Carroll and Prince robbed the WestStar Bank, where they were regular customers. Their Australian accents made them easily identifiable.

During the robbery, the pair wore name tags from the Vail sports store they worked at, and tried to buy plane tickets to Mexico with the stolen loot.

Prosecutors denied it was a robbery committed by bumbling fools.

"Two athletic young men going into a bank with what looked like real firearms and pushing people around is an horrific event," assistant US lawyer Greg Holloway said.

Both Carroll and Prince were also ordered to pay $US21,658, which represents the funds not yet recovered from the bank robbery.


Brain scans reveal truth about lying: it's easier to be honest
Lying is more difficult than telling the truth, and that may be the key to a better lie-detection test, researchers say. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania said they made the discovery when they watched brain scans of volunteers as they gave honest answers or told lies. The brain's frontal lobe, the region that regulates thinking, puts a lot more effort into devising a lie than telling the truth, and brain scans document that activity. The finding, in the journal Human Brain Mapping and discussed in an article in the latest issue of the journal Nature, is said to advance the science of detecting deception.
"Brain scans reveal truth about lying: it's easier to be honest," Sydney Morning Herald, September 24, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/09/23/1126982230876.html


We're dopes about drug use:  Ecstasy preferred over booze even among adults
Everyone knows but doesn't say that the reason nightclubs want to charge for water is they don't make enough from alcohol because their young customers prefer ecstasy. During the millennium New Year's Eve celebrations in the city, police were stunned by the good behaviour of the record crowd. Drug experts claimed the mob's docility was due to its widespread consumption of ecstasy instead of alcohol. While the prohibition of heroin has been widely embraced because of the drug's addictive nature and obvious social problems it engenders, society has turned a blind eye and come to an uneasy truce with other illicit drugs. But with drug use no longer solely the province of the experimenting young, that truce may come under threat. Harm minimisation advocates say the increasing disconnect between public rhetoric and private drug use is hypocritical and doomed. They beaver away on legalisation and demonising zero-tolerance advocates.
Miranda Devine, "We're dopes about drug use," Sydney Morning Herald, September 25, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/09/24/1126982266527.html 

"Is Meth A Plague, A Wildfire, Or the Next Katrina? Or is it a million times more horrible than all of them combined?" by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine, September 2, 2005 --- http://www.reason.com/sullum/090205.shtml


Conflicts of Interest
Is this what is behind the New York Times support for eminent domain that empowers developers?
Those “values” and “democratic ideals” included using eminent domain to forcibly evict 55 businesses—including a trade school, a student housing unit, a Donna Karan outlet, and several mom-and-pop stores—against their will, under the legal cover of erasing “blight,” in order to clear ground for a 52-story skyscraper. The Times and Ratner, who never bothered making an offer to the property owners, bought the Port Authority–adjacent property at a steep discount ($85 million) from a state agency that seized the 11 buildings on it; should legal settlements with the original tenants exceed that amount, taxpayers will have to make up the difference. On top of that gift, the city and state offered the Times $26 million in tax breaks for the project, and Ratner even lobbied to receive $400 million worth of U.S. Treasury–backed Liberty Bonds—instruments created by Congress to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. Which is four miles away . . . Nowhere was this anti-populist, ends-justify-the-means approach on more naked display than after the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. That June 23 decision upheld governments’ broad leeway to use eminent domain to transfer property from one private owner to a richer one—in that particular case, from Connecticut homeowners to an upscale real estate development. While much of the country howled in protest at the fact that, in the words of dissenting Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory,” the Times, in an editorial entitled “The Limits of Property Rights,” let out a lusty cheer. Kelo, the paper declared, is “a welcome vindication of cities’ ability to act in the public interest” and “a setback to the ‘property rights’ movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations.”
Matt Welch, "Why The New York Times ♥s Eminent Domain," Reason Magazine, October 2005 --- http://www.reason.com/0510/co.mw.why.shtml


A very negative book review

"Under the Spell of Malthus: Biology doesn’t explain why societies collapse," by Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine, August/September 2005 --- http://www.reason.com/0508/cr.rb.under.shtml 

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond, (New York: Viking, 592 pages, $29.95)

Jared Diamond’s new book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, is neither “superb” (The New Statesman), “incisive” (The Washington Post), “magisterial” (BusinessWeek), nor “insightful and very important” (Boston Herald). It is, instead, a telling example of how a smart man can be terribly misled by a fixation on one big idea. In this case, Diamond, a biologist, is trying to apply biology’s master narrative to human societies.

In 1838 the founding father of modern biology, Charles Darwin, read the 1798 edition of the Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus famously concluded that human population increased at an exponential rate, while food supplies grew at “arithmetic” rates. Thus population would always outstrip food supplies, dooming some portion of humanity to perpetual famine. As a description of human behavior, it was, as we shall see, a wildly inaccurate argument. But it sparked a genuine revolution in the life sciences.

Reading Malthus was a “eureka” moment for Darwin, who declared in his autobiography, “I had at last got a theory by which to work.” Darwin realized that Malthus’ thesis applied to the natural world, since plants and animals produce far more offspring than there is food, nutrients, and space to support them. Consequently, Darwin noted, “It at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species.” This insight launched one of the most important modern scientific theories, the theory of biological evolution by means of natural selection.

. . .

Similarly, Diamond describes how Polynesian seafarers settled Easter Island by 900 A.D. This 66-square-mile island is one of the more remote scraps of land on the planet. It lies in the South Pacific 2,300 miles from Chile and 1,200 miles from the next nearest Polynesian island. Easter Islanders don’t seem to have had any contact with outsiders until Dutch explorers stumbled on them in 1722. Archaeological evidence shows that Easter Island was once covered with a subtropical forest which was home to the world’s biggest species of palm (now extinct). Today, no native tree species exceeds seven feet in height. Evidently the Easter Islanders cut down all of their trees by 1600, leaving none to regenerate the forests. This complete deforestation caused severe soil erosion, which cut farmers’ crop yields, leading to starvation and cannibalism. Easter Island society apparently “collapsed” in a civil war around 1680, at which time the island’s population may have declined by 70 percent.

When Diamond discusses the “collapse” of the Mayan civilization in Central America around 900 A.D., he hauls out the standard Malthusian explanation: “It appears to me that one strand consisted of population growth outstripping available resources: a dilemma similar to one foreseen by Thomas Malthus in 1798.” This population/resource imbalance led to civilization-destroying warfare, which Diamond declares is “not surprising when one reflects that at least 5,000,000 people…were crammed into an area smaller than the state of Colorado.” Before nodding your head in sage agreement with this analysis, keep in mind that Colorado itself is today crammed with 4.5 million people whose standards of living are vastly more luxurious than those of 10th-century Mayan nobles and peasants.

Anthropologist Lisa Lucero of New Mexico State University at Las Cruces told USA Today that she disagrees with Diamond’s analysis of the “collapse” of the Mayan civilization: “There’s no evidence for massive violence and massive disease among the classic Maya.” She believes the evidence indicates that the Mayans simply moved on because of widespread drought.

. . .

Meanwhile, Diamond calls on Americans, Europeans, and Japanese to reject their “traditional consumer values.” So in essence, Diamond’s solution to the problems he believes humanity faces is to reduce the living standards of the world’s wealthiest societies (U.S., Europe, Japan) and curb economic growth in the poorer countries. This is Malthus’ legacy at its worst, and when Diamond embraces it, Collapse collapses into claptrap.


U.S. money is not doing the job in securing nuclear sites in Russia
Despite U.S. Help, Program Faces Resistance, Delays Amid Chill in Relations A Warehouse Sits Empty
The warehouse shows how the effort to secure Russia's vast arsenal remains an uphill battle even as concerns about nuclear terrorism have risen in the post-9/11 world. So far, the U.S. has provided state-of-the-art security for 48 of the 85 nuclear warhead storage and handling sites slated for upgrades, but there could be dozens more sites that the two sides may never agree to work on. With Russian nationalism and oil revenues on the rise, the relationship is increasingly uneasy. Russian officials say flatly that they will never allow the Americans near two huge weapons assembly facilities that are believed to hold a quarter of the country's highly enriched uranium and plutonium not already in warheads. Since 1991 the U.S. has spent about $7 billion on Russian nuclear security and achieved some important successes. To help Russia meet its arms-control treaty commitments, the U.S. has paid to slice hundreds of nuclear-launch missiles, submarines and bombers into scrap metal. Thousands of weapons scientists have received at least temporary nonweapons work. In a separate commercial venture, 250 metric tons of highly enriched uranium taken from dismantled warheads have been blended down and burned as fuel in American nuclear-power reactors.
Carla Ann robbins and Alan cullison, "In Russia, Securing Its Nuclear Arsenal Is an Uphill Battle," The Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2005; Page A1 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112770020335451782,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one


Save the face of communism and starve the people
North Korea has formally told the UN it no longer needs food aid, despite reports of malnutrition in the country . . . Analysts say North Korea might be worried that accepting more food aid now could be perceived as a sign of weakness. The North may also have lost patience with efforts by foreign agencies to monitor deliveries of food, according to the BBC's Seoul correspondent, Charles Scanlon. In recent years, the UN and other international agencies have been feeding up to six million of the poorest and most vulnerable North Koreans.
"North Korea rejects UN food aid," BBC News, September 23, 2005 ---
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4273844.stm
 


The American Distance Education Consortium --- http://www.adec.edu/admin/adec-background.html

What is ADEC?
ADEC is a non-profit distance education consortium composed of approximately 65 state universities and land-grant colleges. The consortium was conceived and developed to promote the creation and provision of high quality, economical distance education programs and services to diverse audiences, by the land grant community of colleges and universities, through the most appropriate information technologies available.

ADEC Mission and Guiding Principles The driving vision behind the organization is the extension of educational content and opportunity beyond the traditional boundaries of the university walls, to serving not simply on-campus students but lifelong learners, broader domestic and international communities, under-served populations and even K-12 schools and the corporate/business community.

Through ADEC, members engage in a teaching and learning model that epitomizes a university without walls that is open, accessible, and flexible. The model seeks to provide instructional delivery and/or access anywhere, anytime, and to virtually anyone who seeks it.

Primary emphasis is placed on educational and informational programs and services that fall within the traditional areas of competitive advantage for land-grant institutions. Specifically, this includes programs related to food and agriculture; nutrition and health; environment and natural resources; community and economic development; and children, youth, and families.

Guiding Principles
The consortium draws upon the best and most effective subject matter specialists and information resources to share knowledge and content with learners. ADEC programming is offered locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally and is characterized by the following guiding principles:

Design for active and effective learning.

Principle: Distance learning designs consider context, needs, content, strategies, outcomes and environment.

Support the needs of learners.

Principle: Distance learning opportunities are effectively and flexibly supported.

Develop and maintain the technological and human infrastructure.

Principle: The provider of distance learning opportunities has both a technology plan and a human infrastructure.

Sustain administrative and organizational commitment.

Principle: Distance education initiatives are sustained by an administrative commitment to quality distance education.

ADEC members seek to meet local, state, national and international demands through provision of distance education opportunities and place equal emphasis on each of the traditional land grant imperatives of teaching, research and service.

ADEC is designed to serve diverse audiences using appropriate combinations of technologies including: Internet2, commodity Internet, satellite uplinks, downlinks, VSATs, digital television and audio conferencing. These communications tools help ADEC member institutions interact with learners domestically and internationally. Typical methods of distance learning include: one-way video/two-way audio satellite, two-way video and audio conferencing, multiple user audio-only conferencing, Internet based access to educational programs.

Bob Jensen's threads on distance education alternatives are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm


Turmoil at the University of Wisconsin in Madison:  Is demotion sufficient?
Paul Barrows, a former vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who left his position after having an affair with a graduate student, is suing Madison, charging that he was disciplined by the university without being given full due process, The Capital Times reported. Madison officials have faced a barrage of criticism for not firing Barrows and they released a report Thursday that said he could not be fired, but that he could be demoted, which the university did.
Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/23/qt
 

THE OTHER WAR By Stephanie Gutmann (Encounter, 280 pages, $25.95)

More sad evidence of media bias and incompetence
She gives us a number of other examples in convincing detail. There is the famous case of 12-year-old Mohamed al-Dura, killed during a crossfire between Palestinians and Israeli troops. France 2, a large, state-financed TV network, disseminated a 10- to 20-second scrap of videotape filmed by a Palestinian stringer with a narrative line saying that the boy had been shot by Israelis. This claim was accepted as gospel by other channels. A painstaking investigation later proved that, because of the caliber of the bullets used and the angle of fire, the Israelis could not be charged with the boy's death. This exoneration came too late to have any effect on world perception. The list is endless -- slovenly reporting coupled with bias makes for distorted journalism. Ms. Gutmann feels that the situation is improving. For one thing, the Israelis have tightened up the process of granting press cards, filtering out "reporters" with strong prejudices and flimsy credentials. For another, readers and viewers have discovered that journalists can be as self-serving as anyone else. A number of Web sites have come into being to bring truth and objectivity to otherwise distorted accounts. "The Other War" has a similar purpose and accomplishes it forcefully.
Sol Schlindler, ""Bookmarks," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page W12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112743140458249257,00.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal


Dressing up accounting reports under FAS 106:  Retired Sears employees get 106'd
Sears Holdings Corp. has begun to notify its retirees that it will make further cuts to their medical benefits, citing rising health-care costs and competition from retailers that provide little or no medical coverage to retired employees. The moves are the latest in a series of cuts in retiree benefits in recent years. In the past, such cuts helped Sears generate income, thanks to accounting practices that transform reductions in retiree benefits to accounting gains.
Amy Merrick, "Sears Plans More Cuts To Retirees' Medical Benefits," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page A2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112742906285649152,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

A summary of FAS 106 is available at http://www.fasb.org/st/summary/stsum106.shtml
The entire standard can be downloaded free (scroll down) from http://www.fasb.org/st/#fas125


Riding on the rims
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said Friday it will close an undisclosed number of plants in various locations, part of a sweeping restructuring aimed at improving its North American tire business and saving up to $1 billion over the next three years. The Akron, Ohio, company, one of the world's largest tire makers, did not say how many jobs would be affected. It also did not say how many plants it will close or their locations, but added that cutting high-cost capacity will be a key consideration. Goodyear said it plans to cut high-cost manufacturing capacity between 8 percent and 12 percent, resulting in expected annual savings of $100 million to $150 million. The company also said it would increase sourcing from Asia and seek other ways to boost productivity. The company said it would record restructuring charges between $150 million and $250 million over the next three years. The company said it is targeting total cost cuts between $750 million and $1 billion by 2008.
"Goodyear Tire to Shut Down Plants," Earthlink, September 23, 2005 ---
http://start.earthlink.net/article/bus?guid=20050923/43337dc0_3ca6_1552620050923-166254225


The Truth About Oil
From Fortune Magazine's Preview Guide on September 26, 2005

"The Truth About Oil," pp. 102-111: The talk of travelers this summer was rising gas prices, and as we move into autumn, prices don't seem to be falling with the leaves. This has left many Americans angry, but not necessarily for the right reasons. First of all, while the magnates of Big Oil are certainly raking in the profits, they're not the ones setting the sky-high prices — the markets are. Hedge funds aren't to blame, either. They account for less than 3% of volume in oil futures. Besides, fear of a dwindling supply drives oil prices harder than speculation. That fear itself may be misguided. While oil is not a renewable resource, economists expect that high fuel prices will spur oil companies to dig deeper and farther afield for oil, eventually leading to larger supplies and cheaper prices. In fact, the Department of Energy projects that worldwide refining capacity will increase 61% over the next 20 years in plenty of markets that will be more than happy to supply gasoline and other refined petroleum products to the U.S. Should the government intervene in the interim? It depends on whom you talk to, but the last time the federal government imposed price controls in the 1970s, the end result was shortages, gas lines, and little change in prices.

Students will see how myths about the current oil pinch have Americans directing their ire at the wrong targets.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How has the spike in gasoline prices impacted gas station owners? When do station owners make the biggest profits? How do they attempt to raise their profit margins?

     
  2. Define peak-oil theory. What are some of the flaws in the theory? Do you agree with the contention that the worldwide oil supply will critically trail demand in the near future? Why or why not?

     
  3. How is the U.S. especially vulnerable to oil shocks? Short of enforcing bureaucratic controls, in what ways can the U.S. government help bring down energy prices?

 


Will the last departing person from Hollywood please turn out the lights
Ever since jumping into the entertainment business in 2002, Wagner and his outspoken partner, Mark Cuban ( http://www.blogmaverick.com ), have been openly challenging established modes of distribution in Hollywood. They're building a high-tech, new-model, vertically integrated studio. Their 2929 Prods. and digital production house HDNet Films produce low-cost movies; HDNet Film Sales raises financing for them overseas; Magnolia Pictures Distribution books them on the 200-screen art-house Landmark Theater chain; and for the first time, with "Bubble" in January, the high-definition cable channel HDNet Movies will air the films at the same time that they go out through their nascent DVD division. "I like Mark and Todd's energy and enthusiasm," Soderbergh says. "They're free-thinking." . . . Last summer, Soderbergh shot the murder mystery "Bubble" on location along the southern Ohio/West Virginia border, with locals who had never acted. Soderbergh used three of the same high-definition Sony 950 cameras George Lucas deployed on the "Star Wars" movies. "I just wanted to make a movie about love and jealousy," Soderbergh says, "but in an environment that you don't often get to see in movies. The whole appeal was the simplicity of it. The idea was just to not tart it up. These cameras make it easy to go in without any lights, on all real locations." "Bubble" is downright radical. Debbie Doebereiner, its 40-ish star, is the blue-eyed, chubby general manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Parkersburgh, W. Va. Casting director Carmen Cuba scoured the area, approaching people who fit writer Coleman Hough's descriptions, then interviewed them at length on tape.
Anne Thompson, "Soderbergh challenges 'out of whack' studios," Breitbart.com, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/09/23/MTFH01570_2005-09-23_11-00-19_SCH325697.html


No yen for it, at least not enough
Japan's government debt, already the highest in the industrialized world, rose 1.7 percent to a record high of 795.8 trillion yen ($7.1 trillion) at the end of June, according to a report released by the Finance Ministry.
"Japan's National Debt Hits Record High," Yahoo News, September 23, 2005 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050923/ap_on_bi_ge/japan_government_debt


No Comment:  The ACLU vs. America
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Alan Sears the co-author (with Craig Osten) of the new book,
The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values
"The ACLU vs. America," Frontpage, September 26, 2005,  http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=19607


New Politics of Race at Berkeley
Berkeley has had a lot of Asian American students for years, but never so many as now. Last year, according to the Office of Student Research, Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students made up just over 40 percent of the student body. This year’s freshman class was just under 48 percent Asian, a record high, according to admissions officials, who said that, once the final tally of registered students is completed, the number of Asian and white students on campus will be nearly the same. In this year’s freshman class, white enrollment is 31 percent, Latino enrollment 11 percent, and black enrollment 3 percent, with the remainder divided among “other” and those who did not identify their race or ethnicity. Part of the reason for the increasing Asian percentages, according to Richard Black, associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment, is simply that Berkeley’s environs have a lot of Asian families. There may be more to it, though. Not only is Berkeley accepting Asian applicants at a higher rate — 34 percent as opposed to 27 percent for the overall population in 2005 – but Asian students are choosing Berkeley more often, too. Of all Asian applicants accepted to the university, 49 percent chose to attend Berkeley, as compared to only 43 percent of students generally, Black said, a “modest indication that Asian students receive greater opportunities at Berkeley as compared to some other [ethnic groups].”
David Epstein, "New Politics of Race at Berkeley," Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/23/berkeley


NEVER ACT ON RETIREMENT ADVICE FROM ANYONE WHO EARNS A COMMISSION AT YOUR EXPENSE!
The Motley Fool Newsletter on September 27, 2005

Stockbrokers? Ha! They wrecked more retirement plans than anybody when they pushed lousy stocks like Enron and WorldCom right up to the crash.

Financial planners? Estate planners? Nix that too! Most work for big banks and financial firms and are nothing more than insurance or annuity salesmen in disguise. They're after a fat commission that will come out of your pocket.

Your brother-in-law? Probably not! Let's face it -- to really be on top of everything that impacts how well you live in retirement, you'd need to be a tax expert... Medicare benefits guru... stock picker... economist... senior's law expert... and Social Security advisor all rolled into one.

It's a real dilemma. On the one hand, you'll probably leak fewer dollars trusting no one but yourself with your retirement. On the other hand, it's next to impossible for you to maximize the profit-power of your retirement dollars on your own and to be an expert in all of the areas that impact what you do with your nest egg.

Tada!


September 26, 2005 message from mseckman@rockwellcollins.com

I saw this item on tidbits and think these are good questions for students to consider in a social view of the pension situation in the United States. However, besides the social implications, accounting students should have a controllership view of pension issues. Otherwise, when the PBGC bail out happens, they may not be prepared. Several additional questions.

1. The principle of conservatism requires pension plan valuations to assume a discount rate at a point in time, yet the return on assets assumption reflects an estimated long term rate. Discuss the reasonableness of those rates in light of liabilities that will be paid over the next 50 years?

2. What is the incentive for contributions to the pension plan and how does it appear in the financial statements?

3. Why would a pension plan sponsor over fund the plan? Discuss the implications of the discount rate and return on asset assumptions in over funding.

4. What is pension immunization and when does it make sense to immunize?

Mark S. Eckman
And remember, ERISA stands for Every Ridiculous Idea Since Adam.

Mark was referring to the following Tidbit on
Perhaps these pensions should not be included since these airlines are probably going to dump their pension obligations on the Federal Government anyway.

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Week in Review on September 22, 2005

TITLE: Delta, Northwest Omit Pensions from Filings
REPORTER: Susan Carey and Evan Perez
DATE: Sep 16, 2005
PAGE: A3 LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112683441976042541,00.html 
TOPICS: Advanced Financial Accounting, Financial Accounting, Pension Accounting

SUMMARY: The article discusses pension funding requirements, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), and legislative actions in detail.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What is the implication of the statement in the article title that these two airlines have omitted pension payments from bankruptcy court filings.

2.) What is an underfunded pension plan? What are possible different measures of a pension plan's funding level? Who establishes requirements for funding pension plans?

3.) What is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC)?

4.) Why might U.S. Congress enact a law to delay requirements for funding company pension plans? In your answer, consider the plight of the PBGC as described in this article.

5.) Why are discount airlines better able to compete and remain profitable than are so-called legacy airlines?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


PARADISE LOST By John Milton, an illustrated edition introduced by Philip Pullman (Oxford, 374 pages, $28)

Unadorned by scholarly apparatus, the book is meant to facilitate direct exposure to the poem without mediation from editors and notes. Mr. Pullman readily admits that, in such a barebones format, "ten thousand jewels have had to lie untouched," and he urges further reading in any number of annotated editions. What his volume lacks in learned detail, though, it amply makes up for in verve and sweep and in the sheer pleasure derived from Milton's language. Mr. Pullman heightens the drama of the story -- Satan's infiltration of Paradise and the fall of man -- with brief introductions to each of the poem's twelve books, and the illustrations, mostly by Michael Burgers from 1688, are apt and elegant. Presented in this way, the poem is so enticing that readers may ultimately agree with Mr. Pullman that "no one, not even Shakespeare, surpasses Milton in his command of the sound, the music, the weight and taste and texture of English words."
David Yezzi, "Bookmarks," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page W12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112743140458249257,00.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal
 


Are there wrinkles in your broadband?
Some new BROADband exports from Germany

Germany is the homeland of the nudist movement. In the late 19th century, youngsters from teeming cities formed back-to-nature clubs. Called Freikoerperkultur, or "Free Body Culture," nudism soon grew into a mass movement. Briefly outlawed by the Nazis, nudism kept a faithful following. In Communist East Germany, it was a cherished and tolerated expression of freedom. Today, Germany's nudist organizations are losing members, and the people still in the game are a wrinkled bunch. Just 50,000 Germans now belong to nudist clubs, less than half the number of the early 1970s, and most are over the age of 50. In the U.S., nudism is said to be growing. The American Association for Nude Recreation, which says it has 50,000 members, says it got a boost in the 1990s, when the Internet helped nudists find others sharing their pastime. Now, too, there are clothing-optional resorts and cruises. With new features like spas and broadband connections, most of today's nudist clubs are a far cry from the rustic nudist colonies of the past.
Cecili Rohwedder, "Why German Nudists Are Wearing Frowns As Others Disrobe," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112743477668449388,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one




Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmark s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

International Accounting News (including the U.S.)

AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
        Upcoming international accounting conferences --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/events/index.cfm
        Thousands of journal abstracts --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/journals/index.cfm
Deloitte's International Accounting News --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
Association of International Accountants --- http://www.aia.org.uk/ 
WebCPA --- http://www.webcpa.com/
FASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
IASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
Others --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm

Gerald Trite's great set of links --- http://iago.stfx.ca/people/gtrites/Docs/bookmark.htm 

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

 




Humor from September 15-30, 2005

Video of Monkey teasing tigers http://gprime.net/video.php/monkeyteasingatiger 


Forwarded by Auntie Bev

This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas but there are more Catholic churches there than casinos. Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed.

Since they get chips from so many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings. The churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan Monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in. This is done by a chip monk.


Forwarded by Dick Haar

Two blondes are sitting in StarBucks. One looks at the newspaper and sees the headline,

"12 Brazillian Soldiers Killed In Conflict".

She then looks to the other blonde and asks, "How many is a Brazillian?"

Jensen Helper:
To date economists estimate that the Iraq war has cost the U.S. about 3,500 brazillians.


Forwarded by Maria

I was testing the children in my Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven.    I asked them, "If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven?" 

No the children answered. 

"If I cleaned the church every day,  mowed the yard,  and kept everything neat and tidy,  would that get me into Heaven?"   

Again, the answer was, "NO!"   

By now I was starting to smile.  Hey, this was fun!  "Well, then, if I was kind to animals  and gave candy to all the children,  and loved my husband,  would that get me into Heaven?"  I asked them again.  Again, they all answered, "NO!"   

I was just bursting with pride for them. 

"Well," I continued, "then how can I get into Heaven?"    A five-year-old boy shouted out, 

"YOU GOTTA BE DEAD."


Forwarded by Dick Haar

An elderly couple was sitting together, watching their favorite Saturday night TV program.

During one of those commercial breaks, the husband asked his wife:

"Whatever happened to our sexual relations?"

After a long thoughtful silence, the wife, during the next commercial break, replied:

"You know, I don't really know--I don't even think we got a Christmas card from them this year."


Forwarded by Paula

More proof that gasoline prices are out of control:
I pulled into a full service gas station today and asked for five dollars worth of gas.
The guy farted, took my five and walked away.


Forwarded by Bob Overn

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Governmentium." Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mess of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass."

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium - an element which radiates just as much energy as the Governmentium, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.


Forwarded by Dick Haar

01) Life isn't like a box of chocolates, it's more like a jar of jalapenos: you never know what's going to burn your a__.

02) I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.

03) Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it.

*4) Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If they aren't there the first time, chances are you won't be needing them again.

5) I don't have an attitude problem, you have a perception problem.

*6) Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and I thought to myself, where in the hell is the ceiling?

07) My reality check bounced.

08) On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key.

09) I don't suffer from stress. I am a carrier!!!

10) You are slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.

11) Everyone is someone else's weirdo.

*12) Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

13) Be careful .. a pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the ass.

14) Don't be irreplaceable --- if you can't be replaced, you won't be promoted.

*15) The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.

16) You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.

17) So this isn't Home Sweet Home . . Adjust!

18) Ring bell for maid service. If no answer, do it yourself!

19) I came, I saw, I decided to order take out.

20) Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.

21) I'd love to live life in the fast lane, but I'm married to a speed bump.

22) The tranquilizer pills are in the bottle with the teeth marks.


Not a politically correct evacuation plan for Huston as Rita approached

· Hispanics use 59 South to Mexico.

· Cajuns use I-10 East to Lafayette.

· Rednecks use 59 North to East Texas or 45 North to stop off at the deer lease.

· Republicans fly Continental to Washington DC.

· Yankees and Democrats use 45 South to Galveston (where the hurricane is presently headed)

· Longhorns use 290 West to Austin.

· Aggies use 610 Loop to get around town (and go round and round)


Forwarded by Paul Golliher

THE OIL SHORTAGE A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in America.

Well, there's a very simple answer.

Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low.

The reason for that is purely geographical.

Our OIL is located in Alaska, California, Oklahoma and TEXAS.

Our DIPSTICKS are located in Washington DC


Forwarded by Auntie Bev

GREAT TRUTHS THAT LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE LEARNED:

1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.

3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.

4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.

5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.

6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.

8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.

10) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.


Turn up your speakers
It's hard to kiss the lips that chew you out all day long --- http://jbreck.com/itsshardtokiss.html

Really Bad Country Song Titles --- http://www.downstream.sk.ca/country1.htm

 




And that's the way it was on September 30, 2005 with a little help from my friends.

 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

 

Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/ 

Jesse's Wonderful Music for Romantics (You have to scroll down to the titles) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/

International Accounting News (including the U.S.)

AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
        Upcoming international accounting conferences --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/events/index.cfm
        Thousands of journal abstracts --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/journals/index.cfm
Deloitte's International Accounting News --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
Association of International Accountants --- http://www.aia.org.uk/ 

Free Harvard Classics --- http://www.bartleby.com/hc/
Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University --- http://athome.harvard.edu/archive/archive.asp

 

I highly recommend TheFinanceProfessor (an absolutely fabulous and totally free newsletter from a very smart finance professor, Jim Mahar from St. Bonaventure University) --- http://www.financeprofessor.com/ 

 

Bob Jensen's bookmarks for accounting newsletters are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm#News 

News Headlines for Accounting from TheCycles.com --- http://www.thecycles.com/business/accounting 
An unbelievable number of other news headlines categories in TheCycles.com are at http://www.thecycles.com/ 

 

Jack Anderson's Accounting Information Finder --- http://www.umsl.edu/~anderson/accsites.htm

 

Gerald Trite's great set of links --- http://www.zorba.ca/bookmark.htm 

 

The Finance Professor --- http://www.financeprofessor.com/about/aboutFP.html 

 

Walt Mossberg's many answers to questions in technology --- http://ptech.wsj.com/

 

How stuff works --- http://www.howstuffworks.com/ 

 

Household and Other Heloise-Style Hints --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob3.htm#Hints 

 

Bob Jensen's video helpers for MS Excel, MS Access, and other helper videos are at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/ 
Accompanying documentation can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/default1.htm and http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HelpersVideos.htm 

 

Click on www.syllabus.com/radio/index.asp for a complete list of interviews with established leaders, creative thinkers and education technology experts in higher education from around the country.

 

Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax: 210-999-8134  Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu  

 

 

 

 

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September 15, 2005

 

 

Bob Jensen's New Bookmarks on September 15, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University 

For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/ 
Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.  Think it over 
http://www.inlibertyandfreedom.com/Flash/Think_It_Over.swf

Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- http://www.costofwar.com/ 




Click Here for Tidbits and Quotations Between September 1 and September 14

Click Here for Humor Between September 1 and September 14

For Fraud Updates go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

For my Tidbits Directory go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbitsDirectory.htm

My communications on "Hypocrisy in Academia and the Media" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisy.htm 

My  “Evil Empire” essay --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisyEvilEmpire.htm

My unfinished essay on the "Pending Collapse of the United States" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm 




Click here for recent Tidbits and quotations

Click here for recent Humor




The Asian ambitious efforts on open courseware
September 9, 2005 message from Marc Jelitto [marc.jelitto@fernuni-hagen.de]

Dear Mister Jensen, searching for open courseware repositories, I found your article e-Education: The Shocking Future. http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI  . Maybe you are interested in the Asian ambitious efforts on open courseware. You find a collection on my (German) webpage: http://marcjelitto.de/lernobje/kursrep.htm 

Greetings from Germany Marc

-- Marc Jelitto, M.A.

Projekt CampusContent FernUniversitaet in Hagen Technologie und Gruenderzentrum (TGZ) Universitaetsstr. 11 58084 Hagen, Germany

Raum C05, 3. Stock, Block C

Tel.: (+49) 23 31 / 98 7 - 47 96 Fax: (+49) 23 31 / 98 7 - 3 97 Handy: 01 73 / 7 46 92 94 (D2)

http://www.campuscontent.org/ 

http://marcjelitto.de/    http://evaluieren.de/ 


Conspiracy of Fools

Sometimes the key mover in Enron's shady dealings, CFO Andy Fastow, was portrayed by the media as a financial genius.  This may not be the case.
Somebody called in Kaminski.  He was soft-spoken yet excitable, a man who quickly assessed colleagues' brainpower --- and Fastow had never made it high on his list of high-voltage intellects.  Long ago, when Fastow had incorrectly boasted that his business was unaffected by interest rate, Kaminski had concluded the man was a lightweight . . . Kaminski smiled to himself.   "How could a man like this be in charge of a business?" A hedge could only offset declines in an asset's value, not operating losses from a failing business.  The only hedge for a money-losing business was a moneymaking business---and one of those certainly wasn't going to be coming out of this meeting.
Kurt Eichenwald, Conspiracy of Fools (Broadway Books, 2005, pp. 9394).
 

Nor are Andersen's managing partners on the Enron audit portrayed as rocket scientists.
Kurt Eichenwald, Conspiracy of Fools (Broadway Books, 2005, pp. 138-139).

Since 1990, Stephen Goddard at Andersen had overseen Enron--meeting the board, reviewing deals, auditing financials.  Goddard wasn't Hollywood's idea of an accountant; this was no boring technocrat with green eyeshades.  He was a specialist in client services, a backslapper who maintained a close relationship with the managers whose numbers his team reviewed.

Thanks in part to that familiarity, Andersen and Enron developed an unusually close relationship.  The firm was both its auditor and its consultant.  Veterans of Andersen's Houston office jumped to Enron as internal auditors; even Rick Causey, Enron's top accounting guru, had been an Andersen manager.  The relationship couldn't have been cozier.

But by February 1997, things had to change.  Andersen rotated partners on accounts every seven years, and Goddard's time was up.  Some partners lobbied to move up Tom Bauer, a top-notch accountant, who audited Enron's trading operations.  But Goddard thought there was only one candidate--David Duncan, a thirty-six-year-old who had worked on Enron for years.  With Goddard's support, Duncan got the nod.

Duncan rarely impressed anyone as a towering intellect, and his background was unremarkable.  Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and raised in Beaumont, Texas, Duncan attended Texas A&M, where he studied accounting.  In college he had been something of a party boy; he and a group of friends had formed what amounted to a co-op for illicit drugs, purchasing large quantities of marijuana that they divided among themselves.  Often, Duncan and his pals could be found around campus laughing it up, stoned.

In 1981, straight out of college, Duncan joined Andersen's Houston office but didn't change his ways.  For years, he and his friends kept up their mass drug buying.  Several days a week he would leave the staid accounting world and head home to toke up; sometimes he branched out to cocaine.  But a few years after starting on the Enron engagement, Duncan straightened up.  He didn't use illegal drugs since.

Enron seemed the ideal assignment.  In his early days at Andersen, Duncan struck up a friendship with Causey, then just another accountant in the Houston office.  The two became close, often lunching, golfing, or going out with their wives.  Now his buddy was Enron's top accountant.

Clearly, Duncan was no accounting whiz, but nobody worried about that; like most partners, he would rely on the experts in the firm's Professional Standards Group to rule on tough issues.  But he struck some partners as top-flight where it mattered--his familiarity with Enron and a close relationship with its executives.  His good looks and disciplined organization didn't hurt, either.

In early February, Goddard and Duncan had an appointment with Lay, to notify him of the coming change.  Lay was polite, if not particularly interested; he vaguely knew Duncan and thought he seemed competent enough.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work more closely with Enron," Duncan said.  "It's really an honor."

Lay smiled.  "We'll have a lot of fun," he said.

By any measure, Duncan seemed a man on the precipice of big things.  But it was not to be; the great opportunity at Enron would be his last high-profile accounting job.

Jensen Comment:
It was Enron CEO Jeff Skilling who really got Enron into its illegal trading practices, although in fairness he did not view them as illegal when he came up (while a consultant to Enron from McKinsey) with some very clever ideas for getting Enron into the energy trading business.  Skilling is portrayed as the brightest of Enron's dim-light bulb executives but he also became the least mentally and emotionally stable.  He was great when things were rolling well but collapsed badly under pressures and pending bad news. 

Bob Jensen's threads on the Enron/Andersen frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm
 


"Teaching Financial Independence to the Next Generation," AccountingWeb, September 1, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101259

While some young adults know how to make money, they might not know how to manage it. Parents still usually control, or have a hand in controlling, their children’s personal and even their business finances. Protecting a grown child’s money may seem natural but with education costs, spiking home costs, not to mention rising loan and credit card debt, transitioning control might be the best idea. “What is new is the increasing number of young adults unable to succeed financially on their own,” said John Gallo, an estate-planning attorney speaking with the Associated Press. “Parents have not been responding to those increased social factors by teaching their kids how to manage money.” Gallo co-authored “The Financially Intelligent Parent” and “Silver Spoon Kids” with his wife Eileen.

Involvement by both the parent and child is ideal in the sometimes complex decisions to be made that can mark younger lives into the future. Eileen Gallo speaking with the Associated Press said, “If parents can think of it in terms of a process, not a cutoff, it can help.” She is a licensed psychotherapist.

“The type of people who make wealth like to make decisions themselves, and want to make decisions for their kids,” said Tom Rogerson, senior director for Mellon Private Wealth Management speaking with the Associated Press. “They may make better decisions for the money, but they leave their kids less capable and confident to make decisions themselves.”

Teaching independence and setting financial goals are part of setting boundaries. Establishing clear terms for possible parental loans will help define repayment methods or systems and savings values. Understanding investments are important as well.

One problem seen by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) involves taking advantage of educational tax breaks. The GAO looked at 1.8 million tax returns targeting those taking tax breaks and found that about one in four taxpayers failed to take an allowable educational tax break or tuition deduction. Taking either of these deductions might have reduced their tax bill by an average of $169 while ten percent of that group might have reduced their tax bills $500 or more.

Rules limit the number of tax breaks that a parent or student may take in a tax year, leaving them to ferret out information and understand the tax laws, apply the laws correctly as well as keeping tax records. Making the best choice of the options offered is not always easy or correct.

The Treasury Department has prompted the Congress to simplify the system of educational tax system breaks. In fact, a presidential panel is currently developing recommendations for Congress concerning the simplification for the tax code, including tax credits and deductions. The panel is expected to present their recommendations in September


Teaching financial independence to the 2005 best in the NFL

"Football's All-$tar Team:  Petulance Pays as NFL Contracts Grow in Cost and Complexity; Top Earners: We Do the Math," by Jon Weinbach, The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2005; Page W1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112622367657735970,00.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal

Offense

Michael Vick
Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons
Earnings: $23.1 million
Comment: Big star, big paycheck. While his passing stats aren't great (he ranked 21st in QB rating last year), the wins keep coming: The Falcons captured their first division title in seven years. Mr. Vick's new contract gives him $37 million in guaranteed bonus money overall, most in the NFL and 7% more than Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning.

Rudi Johnson
Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals
Earnings: $11 million
Comment: Yes, Rudi. While not the biggest name in the NFL, he scored 12 touchdowns last year in his second full season. San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's 2004 rushing leader, has a bigger overall deal, but Mr. Johnson's new pact is more front-loaded, giving him about $9 million in bonus cash next March on top of a $1.8 million salary.

Muhsin Muhammad
Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
Earnings: $8.66 million
Comment: Only in the NFL. After catching 93 passes, scoring 16 TDs and making the Pro Bowl, Mr. Muhammad was let go by Carolina because they couldn't afford to fit him under the league salary cap. Then the lowly Chicago Bears swept in with $8 million in bonus money. Talk about a happy ending....

Antonio Gates
Tight End, San Diego Chargers
Earnings: $6.38 million
Comment: A summer of public grumbling earned Mr. Gates a one-game suspension...and a lucrative new contract (He was scheduled to earn $380,000 in '05). Even though he's played only two years, he led all NFL tight ends last season with 13 TDs. Other tight ends (Tony Gonzalez and Todd Heap) have signed larger overall deals, but it's still amazing what a difference one good year can make.

Orlando Pace
Offensive Lineman, St. Louis Rams
Earnings: $16 million
Comment: Chalk it up to market forces. Mr. Pace, a 6-foot-7, 320-pounder, is the latest offensive lineman to cash in on the NFL's increasing infatuation with the passing game. The trick: He plays left tackle, the position that protects the blind side of a right-handed quarterback. Bona fides include two Super Bowls and six consecutive Pro Bowls.

Adam Vinatieri
Kicker, New England Patriots
Earnings: $2.76 million
Comment: No arguments here. In addition to booting two Super Bowl-winning field goals in four years, Mr. Vinatieri, a nine-year veteran, also led the NFL with 31 field goals in '04. Don't expect him to fall off the list soon: He's a free agent after the season.

Defense

Shaun Ellis
Defensive End, New York Jets
Earnings: $8.59 million
Comment: The Nice Guy approach. While other players were howling about dollars, Mr. Ellis made it clear he wanted to remain with the Jets, who rewarded him with this princely deal, even though he actually had a bit of an off year in '04. The only hitch: now Jets linemate John Abraham wants the same deal.

Marcus Stroud
Defensive Tackle, Jacksonville Jaguars
Earnings: $10.34 million
Comment: A perfect example of negotiating from strength. Mr. Stroud's new contract extension, completed without fanfare in April, rewarded his Pro-Bowl play and remarkable durability (40 straight games) with a $100,000 "workout bonus," a $3.2 million "roster bonus," and a $6.5 "signing bonus," all of which will be paid by the end of next March. The only player in our survey represented by the famously combative agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Keith Bulluck
Linebacker, Tennessee Titans
Earnings: $10.25 million
Comment: Timing is everything. Thanks to a salary-cap mess in Tennessee (and his league-leading 152 tackles in 2004), the unheralded Mr. Bulluck was able to restructure his contract to pad his cash bonus by $1.2 million. "You always want to force the team's hand," says his agent, Gary Wichard.

Samari Rolle
Cornerback, Baltimore Ravens
Earnings: $12 million
Comment: One interception goes a long way. Cornerbacks have maintained their status as marquee players at the negotiating table because passing (and defending the pass) is all-important in today's NFL. Even more surprising: Mr. Rolle signed his deal after a February arrest for domestic assault.

Darren Sharper
Safety, Minnesota Vikings
Earnings: $5 million
Comment: In the NFL, it pays to get cut. After the Packers released him in a cap move, Minnesota picked up Mr. Sharper in a deal that strikes some as a gross overpayment. The veteran has played in two Pro Bowls, but partially tore a ligament in his left knee last season and turns 30 in November. One of three players on our list represented by agent Joel Segal.

Joe Gibbs
Head Coach, Washington Redskins
Earnings: $5.5 to $6 million
Comment: You'd think New England's Bill Belichick, winner of three Super Bowls, would be atop the cash heap, but instead it's Mr. Gibbs, the former Redskins coach who returned to try to save the franchise last year. But after a 6-10 season, the pressure is on. Paychecks for coaches, which don't count against the salary cap, appear to have hit a ceiling: Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who topped our list in '99, made about as much back then.

September 9, 2005 reply from Robert Bowers

If I may -

Living in Baltimore, I am an old Colts (Baltimore Colts, that is) fan. Unitas, Berry, Marchetti, Ameche, etc.

John Unitas had both knees replaced and had no use of his arm before his recent sad death.

Art Donovan (tackle) had both knees and a hip.

Bill Pellington (linebacker) had knees and hips. And on and on.

This from players from the 50's-60's era, when a tackle weighed 220-240.

Today tackles can weigh 380 or more. I shudder to think of the kinetic  energy developed when 2 380 pounders slam into each other at the snap of the ball.

Ray Lewis, the all star of the current Baltimore Ravens, has both shoulders damaged, one dislocated, is constantly in pain - now.

Jamal Lewis, he of the outstanding rushing records, has 2 blown knees.

What kind of shape will these players be when they are 50 and 60?

I know all these guys are getting astronomical salaries to play these days.

I hope is was worth it.

Still intact with all my body parts, I am,

Robert Bowers


A Closer Look at the First Mandatory E-filing System Using XBRL
The first mandatory e-filing system using XBRL will officially be launched on October 1. The system, known as the Call Report Modernization Project utilizes the Central Data Repository (CDR) a secure shared database containing the quarterly filings of the nation’s estimated 8,400 financial institutions. Call Reports collect the basic financial data from commercial banks in the form of balance sheets, income statements and supporting schedules. They are used to supervise and evaluate the financial condition of the institutions. The Call Report Modernization Project is intended to simplify and increase the transparency of the call report process. Currently, call report filings are comprised of 2,000 fields of data requiring 400 pages of instructions. Some 1,500 formulas are used to validate the data, which is used by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the public. The Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council (FFIEC) estimates that more than 192,500 hours are spent compiling and filing call reports each year.
"A Closer Look at the First Mandatory E-filing System Using XBRL," AccountingWeb, September 1, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101260

Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#TimelineXBRL


"XBRL GL: More Than Reporting," AccountingWeb, September 2, 2005 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101264

As powerful, and useful, as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is for sharing information between organizations, there is more to business, and accounting than just reporting. There is also more to XBRL than just financial reporting taxonomies. In July, XBRL International release the latest version of XBRL GL, the General Ledger taxonomy which allows for more efficient handling of financial and business information within an organization. The XBRL GL taxonomy represents any information found in a chart of accounts, journal entries or historical transactions. Because it does not require a standardized chart of accounts it can help unite legacy charts of accounts to accounting detail across disparate systems together to create a standard chart of accounts in a cost effective way.

XBRL GL is the language of improved and more efficient communication between accountants. It provides a holistic approach by creating a standardized vocabulary for expressing information from the business documents that flow into financial and business reports. XBRL GL offers a standardized format for moving information between spreadsheets, accounting systems, and service providers both inside and outside the organization.

It offers several advantages over existing solutions, including:

  • Reporting Independence – meaning the information can be collected and represented through flexible links to XBRL for reporting purposes.
  • System Independence – meaning accounting software developers can create a single import/export routine for converting information to XBRL GL.
  • Consolidation – meaning information can be moved between systems or combined easily.
  • Flexibility – meaning the limitations of other approaches can be overcome for enhanced information exchange and reporting.

“It has always been a goal of XBRL to involve the entire Business Reporting Supply Chain,” states Eric E. Cohen, XBRL Global Technical Leader and Founding Chair of XBRL GL. “To me, that has meant standardizing the data that flows in from transactions and business events, and bridging between transactions and reporting (financial, tax, operational, statutory, etc.). That is the role of XBRL GL.”

Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#TimelineXBRL


Question
What/who is  FRAANK?

Answer
The following appears in the Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 19, Number 1, Spring 2005, pp. 1-18.

Financial Reporting and Auditing Agent
with Net Knowledge (FRAANK)
and eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)

Matthew Bovee
The University of Vermont

Alexander Kogan
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Kay Nelson
The Ohio State University

Rajendra P. Srivastava
The University of Kansas

Miklos A. Vasarhelyi
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

 

ABSTRACT: This paper describes the development and applications of FRAANK--Financial Reporting and Auditing Agent with New Knowledge.  The prototype of FRAANK presented here provides automated access to, and understanding and integration of, rapidly changing financial information available from various sources on the Internet.  In particular, FRAANK implements intelligent parsing to extract accounting numbers from natural-text financial statements available from the SEC EDGAR repository.  FRAANK develops an "understanding" of the accounting numbers by means of matching the line-item labels to synonyms of tags in an XBRL taxonomy.  As a result, FRAANK converts the consolidated balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows into XBRL-tagged format.  Based on FRAANK, we propose an empirical approach toward the evaluation and improvement of XBRL taxonomies and for identifying and justifying needs for specialized taxonomies by assessing a taxonomy fit to the historical data, i.e., the quarterly and annual EDGAR filings.  Using a test set of 10-K SEC filings, we evaluate FRAANK's performance by estimating its success rate in extracting and tagging the line items using the year 2000 C&I XBRL Taxonomy, Version 1.  The evaluation results show that FRAANK is an advanced research prototype that can be useful in various practical applications.  FRAANK also integrates the accounting numbers with other financial information publicly available on the Internet, such as timely stock quotes and analysts' forecasts of earnings, and calculates important financial ratios and other financial-analysis indicators.

Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#TimelineXBRL


FOUNDATION Construction Accounting Software Wins Award
FOUNDATION Software received the award as the software supplier for Lighthouse Electric, a two-time winner of the prestigious Silver Vision Award in the subcontractor category. Lighthouse earned its second Vision Award for innovative labor management plan that promises to save over $100,000 in labor costs each year. By using the features of FOUNDATION, as well as those form Congistics ControlBoard, a tracking and scheduling application, Lighthouse was able to create a separate function for the management of manpower that utilizes a single powerful Microsoft SQL database. “Our challenge was to utilize technology and procedures in a way that would easily disburse and control our biggest cost: labor,” Ron Felix, CIO of Lighthouse Electric said in explaining how technology and business came together for his company.
"FOUNDATION Construction Accounting Software Wins Award," AccountingWeb, September 6, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101265

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting software are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm#AccountingSoftware


Cheryl Dunn is an exceptional Book Review Editor for the Journal of Information Systems.  She focuses more on the reviewers than the items being reviewed on the theory that good scholars will provide good stuff when they pick their favorite(s). 

In the Spring 2005 edition (pp. 155-158) the scholar is the Brian Sommer.

This issue includes two book reviews by Brian Sommer, the founder and president of TechVentive, a technology strategy and consulting firm that serves leading technology firms and Fortune 500 companies.  Brian was the longest running and most senior director Accenture's (formerly Andersen Consulting) Software Intelligence Unit--a position that required him to choose software solutions for hundreds of clients.  In addition to being a voracious reader, Brian has published a variety of articles, leadership thought pieces, and training programs.  Brian has also contributed to the information systems literature as an editorial advisor for IHRIM.link and the Review of Accounting Information Systems.  Thanks to Brian for contributing to the JIS book review section.

GERALD ZALTMAN, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2003, ISBN: 1578518261, 352 pages, ($29.95)

PACO UNDERHILL, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1999, ISBN: 0684849135, 256 pages, $25.00)
    We are rapidly approaching the end of one of the golden ages of IT: the age of transaction processing/record keeping systems.  Since the 1950s, firms have used IT to automate manual processes and to process business events more efficiently and effectively.

    But little real knowledge can be gleaned from transaction data alone.  The new "golden age" will involve a redefinition of IT professionals and the kinds of solutions they create.  This age will involve new levels of customer understanding that will focus on more than UPC, RFID, shopping cart, or register data.  As evidence of this new wave, consider the importance of customer intimacy, customer retention and customer growth issues to CEOs in any recent Conference Board study (e.g., CEO Challenge 2003).  If IT professionals are part of the knowledge economy, then why do they know so little about what goes on inside customers' heads?

    How will IT professionals lean about customers?  Not from CRM, supply chain, or sales force automation solutions.  At best, CRM solutions identify buyers and provide scant demographic data about their name, address, and previous purchase data.  CRM will not tell you why a person is likely to buy again, what changes are going on in their job or family that will drive new solution needs, and so forth.  To get insights into the psyche of buyers, IT professionals need reset their understanding of what customers are and how they buy.  To understand the customer, one must put away the programming manuals and prepare to re-learn what it means to be a buyer or consumer.

    I've chosen two books to review: Gerald Zaltman's How Customers Think and Paco Underhill's Why We Buy.


Dr. Ijiri was one of my major professors in the doctoral program at Stanford.  I'm naturally drawn to things he writes.  He is one of the long-time advocates of historical cost based accounting.  He is in fact much more dedicated to it than Bill Paton (but not Ananias Littleton) where Paton and Littleton are best known advocates of historical cost accounting.  The following is the lead article in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, July/August 2005, pp. 255-279.

US accounting standards and their environment:
A dualistic study of their 75-years of transition

Yuji Ijiri
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract
This article examines the 75-year transition of the US accounting standards and their environment.  It consists of three parts, each having two themes: Part (1) Past changes: 1. The first market crash and the second market crash; 2. Facts-based accounting and forecasts-based accounting,  Part (II) Present issues: 3. The reform legislation (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and the reform administration; 4. Procedural fairness and pure fairness, and Part (III) Future trends: 5. Forecast protection and forecast separation; 6. Principles-based systems and rules-based systems.  These themes are each examined from dualistic perspectives by contrasting two fundamental concepts or principles.  The article concludes with the strong need to focus on "procedural fairness" in establishing accounting standards as well as in implementing the reform legislation and administration, in contrast to "pure fairness" that is almost impossible to achieve by anyone.

Bob Jensen's threads on standard setting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting


U.K. Accounting Hall of Fame
Professors David Otley and Ken Peasnell of the Department of Accounting and Finance are two of the fourteen founding members of the British Accounting Association’s Hall of Fame. The ceremony (pictured here) took place at the British Accounting Association 2004 Annual conference at York in April 2004 --- http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/news/3806/

The earlier OSU Accounting Hall of Fame is at http://fisher.osu.edu/acctmis/hall/


Some TIAA-CREF Funds May Close

This may not affect most professors and college staff who are simply in the main TIAA and CREF accounts.  But it is worth noting for others.  What it indicates is how you may still be getting gouged in mutual fund fees from mutual funds other than TIAA-CREF.  Always check the fees and compare with lower cost funds such as those in Fidelity and Vanguard.

"Some TIAA-CREF Funds May Close:  Holders Vote Down Increase In Fees Firm Said It Needed To Stem Investment Losses," by Raymond Hennessey, The Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2005; Page C13 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112553092810928500,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Investment giant TIAA-CREF is considering closing or liquidating nine of its actively managed institutional mutual funds after failing to win shareholder approval to raise fees.

TIAA-CREF had been pushing for the fee increases, which it said would help stem losses related to several funds. But outside observers criticized the idea that TIAA-CREF, which has long been known for low costs, would be in some cases quadrupling fees on some of its funds.

Shareholders balked as well, rejecting new investment-advisory agreements that would have brought the increases. The vote now puts in doubt the future of several TIAA-CREF institutional funds, namely its Growth Equity, International Equity, Small-Cap Equity, Large-Cap Value, Real Estate Securities, Social Choice Equity, Bond, Inflation-Linked Bond, and Money Market funds. TIAA-CREF, which has $350 billion in assets under management, said its board will now consider closing some or all of those funds to new investors, or even liquidating some of the funds.

The "no" votes marked a blow to the firm, which took the unusual step of hiring a proxy-solicitation firm to gather shareholder votes. TIAA-CREF, based in New York, argued that its mutual-fund management unit had for years been setting fees too low to cover the operating costs of the funds. Because of this, TIAA-CREF said this year in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it "cannot continue as an effective investment manager for the funds under the current fee structure." TIAA-CREF has not provided details of how much money the firm has lost on the funds.

"It is very surprising that they brought out their big guns and they still failed," said Christopher Davis, an analyst with Morningstar Inc. in Chicago.

It was also unusual because mutual-fund investors are known for being lackadaisical in their approach to fund governance. "Most shareholders really don't care about voting in a proxy contest," Mr. Davis said. "Investment managers seem to always get their way."

Shareholders didn't reject all of TIAA-CREF's proposed fee increases. New investment-management agreements that included increases were approved for two actively managed funds, the Growth & Income and Mid-Cap Value funds.

For its part, TIAA-CREF had little reaction to the vote. "We felt that we went to the shareholders with a very fair proposal that would continue to rank us in the bottom quintile of fees," said TIAA-CREF spokeswoman Stephanie Cohen Glass, after the vote tally was announced.

TIAA-CREF's proposal to increase fees raised eyebrows among many in the fund industry, which has seen a trend of declining fees over the past several years. In some cases, the fee increases on the institutional funds would have been steep. The Small-Cap Equity fund, for instance, would have seen its annual expense ratio rise to 0.55%, from 0.15%.

An increase, though, still would have ranked TIAA-CREF below most industry averages on management fees.

The results for one fund, the TIAA-CREF Mid-Cap Growth Fund, are up in the air after too few votes were cast to allow a decision. TIAA-CREF will reconvene the meeting for that fund once a quorum is established, with a result possible in September, Ms. Cohen Glass said.

Bob Jensen's threads on mutual fund frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#MutualFunds


Real versus faked coin flips
Dr. Theodore P. Hill asks his mathematics students at the Georgia Institute of Technology to go home and either flip a coin 200 times and record the results, or merely pretend to flip a coin and fake 200 results. The following day he runs his eye over the homework data, and to the students' amazement, he easily fingers nearly all those who faked their tosses. "The truth is," he said in an interview, "most people don't know the real odds of such an exercise, so they can't fake data convincingly." There is more to this than a classroom trick. Dr. Hill is one of a growing number of statisticians, accountants and mathematicians who are convinced that an astonishing mathematical theorem known as Benford's Law is a powerful and relatively simple tool for pointing suspicion at frauds, embezzlers, tax evaders, sloppy accountants and even computer bugs.
"Following Benford's Law, or Looking Out for No. 1 By Malcolm W. Browne (From The New York Times, Tuesday, August 4, 1998) --- http://www.rexswain.com/benford.html

"Using Software to Sniff Out Fraud," Amey Stone, Business Week, September 30, 2004 --- http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/sep2003/tc20030930_2727_tc131.htm 

"Forensic accounting" sleuths are taking advantage of sophisticated programs to catch the crooks in action

In the 1920s, Frank Benford, a physicist at General Electric (GE ), discovered an astonishing mathematical law: In just about any given set of numerical data, numbers occur as the first or second digit at a predictable rate. For example, "1" will appear as the first digit 31% of the time, but "9" will appear first only 5%. While that sounds unlikely, Benford tested lists of numbers from many different sources -- accounting ledgers, geographic data, even magazine articles -- and found that the same probability persisted.

Applied to accounting, Benford's Law makes for a great way to check to see if numbers are fabricated (since when liars make up figures, they usually don't follow the same statistical pattern Benford identified). The law is now enjoying booming popularity as the basis for a fairly easy, routine test that's used to uncover accounting fraud. Easy, that is, if you have a sophisticated software package and enough high-powered computers to crunch numbers from reams of documents.

In 2002, Darrell Dorrell, a principal at accounting firm Financial Forensics in Lake Oswego, Ore., used a computer program to apply Benford's Law to more than 21,000 payroll records of a health-care company accused of defrauding investors. He found that the number "0" turned up as the second digit in the payroll records twice as often as it should have, and "5" showed up 60% more often than would be expected. With that information, plus lots more evidence from other tests, he reported to the company's receiver that the records "appear to be contrived."

FUELED BY FEAR.  

Benford's Law provides just one small example of the way in which technology used to uncover accounting fraud has been growing in both sophistication and popularity. The growth hasn't really been stimulated by technological innovation, which has mostly amounted to fine-tuning sleuthing programs so that they issue fewer false alarms, customizing such programs for use with new industries, and upping raw computing power so the programs can crunch more data. Instead, the boom is being fueled by accounting scandals, terrorism threats, and new regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley financial-disclosure law and the Patriot Act, which both require companies to be more vigilant about avoiding financial fraud and about keeping employees honest.

All of those threats "have made businesses more aware of the potential catastrophic damage to organizations that fraud presents," says Toby Bishop, president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. "In the past, companies were unwilling to spend money on solutions until they had a bad experience," he adds. But over the past couple of years, "financial-statement fraud has risen to the top of the agenda."

Partly, that's because of the weak economy, says Carolyn Newman, president and co-founder of Houston-based Audimation Services, which sells software that's used by forensic accountants. "When individuals have a financial need, or a need to protect their jobs, they're more likely to commit or participate in fraud," she says.

EYE-GRABBING RESULTS.  

However, despite the high-profile instances of malfeasance that have plagued Corporate America lately, the companies leading the charge to find fraud are trying to root out dishonest customers more than crooked executives. In the last 10 years, credit-card companies have cut their losses due to card theft in half using programs like Fair Isaac's (FIC ) Falcon Fraud Manager, which flags potentially bogus transactions at checkout based on analysis of past spending patterns by cardholders. And software that's used to spot insurance fraud typically delivers a return on investment of more than 300%, says Bishop. "Those are figures that will grab the eye of any chief financial officer," he adds.

Returns are so high because fraud-finding software, including programs used by auditors to check a company's financial records, is better than ever. While auditors typically sample small portions of data to check that accounting policies are being followed, now they can easily check every transaction, a capability identified by the oxymoron "100% sampling."

"We're in a complex business environment where the number of transactions companies have to monitor has increased in conjunction with more regulation," says Harald Will, chief executive of Vancouver (B.C)-based ACL Services, a leading provider of software for internal audits. ACL will debut its "Continuous Monitor" suite of software tools in mid-October. "Companies need to manage the risks, ensure that controls are working properly, monitor the integrity of transactions -- and they need to do it continuously," Will says. "The only way they can do that is with technology."

CONFLICT CHECKERS.  Increasingly, companies are also using outside databases to look for relationships between potential new hires and business units, with an eye to uncovering conflicts of interest or illegal activity. The latest systems will scroll through payment information looking for suppliers that aren't listed in any online commercial database -- a possible sign that they aren't legit -- or that operate from addresses that have been associated with fraud in the past.

From its Springfield (Va.) home base, a company called I2 sells the "Analyst's Notebook," a program developed for law-enforcement agencies but becoming more widely used in corporate settings. One of its corporate tasks is to check for conflicts of interest on a company's board of directors. The software will troll through open databases, like D&B (DNB ) or LexisNexis, to look for connections between individuals and companies. Then it will illustrate the connections graphically, with lines connecting people and organizations.

"We can take three feet of written documents and turn them into a picture that shows relationships," claims Jack Reis, I2's president. He has noted increasing demand from forensic accountants -- those who look for fraud. "I expect we're going to see more," he says.


Continued in the article


The Journal of Accountancy ran an article showing how a Benford's Law application in Excel led to discovery of a fraud.

"Turn Excel Into a Financial Sleuth," by Anna M. Rose and Jacob M. Rose, The Journal of Accountancy, August 2003 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/aug2003/rose.htm 

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting software are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm#AccountingSoftware 


Financial Statement Analysis Software

September 3, 2005 message from Angela Lee

Dear Robert Jensen,

In case you missed our demonstration at the American Accounting Association conference in San Francisco, we hope you will find the information below helpful.

FinancialZ, Inc. is a financial software company based in Tempe, AZ. We have an Educational version of our software, Financial Grammar, which is currently being used at universities across the country.

The software is best utilized in managerial finance courses to teach analysis of financial data. It is designed as a teaching enhancement tool to accelerate students' learning of financial analysis concepts (i.e. how to spot red flags). It can be used in either MBA or undergraduate classes. In addition, some of our client-universities currently use it in entrepreneurial courses, financial statement analysis and business development courses. The software is CPA- engineered, (US) GAAP compliant and can be used for AICPA review courses.

In order to download a trial version, go to: www.financialzinc.com . If you look under the PRODUCTS tab, a PDF formatted brochure can be downloaded.

The software can be delivered via CD-Rom or downloaded to the student's computer. The cost is $34.95/per student/per course. If you are interested in incorporating this tool in just one class it can be purchased, by the student, directly from our website using a designated school code.

I invite you to download and experience our software. I will follow up with you again next week to answer any questions that you may have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me at the number below.

Best regards,

Angela Lee Director,
Marketing FinancialZ, Inc. 480.941.4567

www.financialzinc.com

Bob Jensen's links to accounting education software are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm#software


"Cisco's Options Play," by Roger Lowenstein, MIT's Technology Review, September 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/09/issue/review_cisco.asp?trk=nl

If you were working in Silicon Valley in the 1990s, you probably have employee stock options to thank for your Porsche, your second home, and the gratitude of your spouse. If, more recently, you lost your job, you can thank stock options for that, too.

The long debate over whether companies should be forced to account for options is really a debate about what sort of high-tech industry one wants. Will honest bookkeeping tame the goblins of extreme greed that bring bubbles and busts? Or as the ardent champions of options have long maintained, will accounting for options so flatten entrepreneurial zeal as to snuff out serious investment in the Valley?

Cisco Systems' newly proposed plan for valuing its employee stock options has at least introduced a novel idea into a debate that has flared since the early 1990s. Corporate watchdogs have insisted that employee options represent a cost to the public companies that issue them--and that the cost should be properly expensed in financial statements. Those on the other side--who come mostly from the high-tech industry--have argued that the obligation to account for options would discourage companies from granting them and thus diminish a primary method by which the industry attracts talented employees.

This dispute would seem unimportant, if only the stakes were not so high. According to Jack Ciesielski, publisher of The Analyst's Accounting Observer, by failing to book the costs of options, high-tech companies in the S&P 500 inflated their profits last year by 31 percent. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently ruled that companies must begin accounting for options in their first fiscal year after June 15, 2005.

That hasn't quelled the controversy. A bill before the U.S. Congress would reverse the SEC mandate, and William Donaldson, the SEC chairman who pushed for the expensing rule, resigned in June. His proposed replacement, Christopher Cox, a congressman from Newport Beach, CA, has been a fervent opponent of expensing. (Hearings to confirm Representative Cox are expected soon.)

What Cisco is proposing has the appearance of a compromise. To understand this, you need to think a little about how options work--in particular, the options that companies such as Cisco grant to their executives and their ordinary employees.

From the point of view of the recipients, options are free. But as Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett have observed, they aren't "free" in an economic sense. Like other forms of compensation, options bear a cost to the corporation. But what is that cost?

An option conveys the right to purchase a given number of shares at some specified price (called the strike price) within a specified time frame. If the stock rises above the strike price, the option's owner can exercise the option--that is, purchase shares from the corporation--at a price that is now below-market, and thus turn a profit. Frequently, to restrain dilution, the issuer will go into the marketplace and buy back shares--paying, of course, the market price. In the 1990s, corporations such as Microsoft and Cisco spent hundreds of millions of dollars on such buybacks.

On the other hand, if the stock price does not rise, then the option will expire worthless. Since every future stock price represents a different potential outcome, the number of such potential outcomes is limitless. And since we can't know in advance what the stock will do, the value of the option at the time it's granted must take into account the full range of possibilities.

Academics have been devising formulas to value stock options for decades; the creators of the Black-Scholes formula, the first such attempt to be widely adopted, won a Nobel Prize. Under Black-Scholes, the value of an option varies with the price of the stock, its volatility, the duration of the option, the dividend rate, and interest rates. But a good rule of thumb is that a 10-year option to buy stock at $100 is worth about $30 or $40 today.

Jensen Comment:
Empirical studies show that the Black-Scholes model most likely overstates the value of employee stock options because it underestimates market fears that the options will tank.  This and other controversies of employee options accounting are discussed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm

As you may recall, Cisco and other companies in the past have taken a tremendous advantage of a discrepancy between GAAP rules and tax rules prior to the revised FAS 123 due to be implemented next year.
When the options are exercised there is cash foregone rather than a cash outlay. The company simply issues stock for cash at the exercise price and foregoes the intrinsic value (the difference between the market value and the exercise price). In spite of fact that cash never flows for intrinsic value of employee stock options, Cisco has enjoyed a tremendous tax break (millions in some years and over a billion in at least one other year) in tax deductions for the cash foregone.  In other words, a company like Cisco might report over $1 billion in net profit to shareholders and a net loss to the IRS when requesting a a large tax refund.  The revised FAS 123 eliminates the intrinsic method of GAAP accounting for stock options and forces fair value to be expensed at the time of vesting.  Now Cisco is proposing a method of reducing the reported “fair value.”


"Parent Education," The Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2005; Page W4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112562236279729793,00.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal

Here's a look at five recent books that promise to aid parent-teacher communication and help parents get involved in their kids' education:

The Mom Book Goes to School: Insider Tips to Ensure Your Child Thrives in Elementary and Middle School
Stacy DeBroff, Free Press, 2005, 400 pages
Collection of tips for how to help a child succeed at school without alienating teachers. Topics: When to send notes to the teacher, how to address learning disabilities.
Helpful Point: If you barrage a teacher with questions about minor issues or requests for conferences, teacher may become evasive.
Headscratcher: "Even if your child will not admit to being bullied, there are a number of signs: He comes home with bruises..."

* * *

Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child
Cheli Cerra and Ruth Jacoby, Jossey-Bass, 2005, 128 pages
Easy-to-read book (lots of charts, room to jot notes) presents common parental issues with schools, with strategies for addressing them. The goal: take-charge, organized parents who advocate for their child's best interests.
Helpful Point: For parents who work or can't afford to donate money, 30 ways to assist the school. (Examples: donate old books and toys).
Headscratcher: Sections devoted to issues like "The school bus is failing to pick up my child."

* * *

Understanding Independent School Parents: An NAIS Guide to Successful Family-School Relationships
Michael G. Thompson and Alison Fox Mazzola, National Association of Independent Schools, 2005, 58 pages
This book focuses on helping teachers communicate with parents, based on the theory that in independent schools, every teacher will be confronted sooner or later with a difficult, even irrational, parent. But it also can help parents avoid being labeled difficult.
Helpful Point: Tell teachers your hopes and fears for your children.
Headscratcher: The assumption that, in general, independent school parents are "driven, controlling and anxious."

* * *

Teacher Says: 30 Foolproof Ways to Help Kids Thrive in School
Evelyn Porreca Vuko, Perigee Books, 2004, 320 pages
Grade-specific advice on how to help a child be a better student -- from keeping a child healthy to improving science skills.
Helpful Point: Includes tools for teaching (such as foreign language resources) and book lists organized by age for kids who don't like reading.
Headscratcher: The section on hygiene: "Encourage Junior to use his knuckle or elbow to press an elevator button."

* * *

The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Random House, 2003, 288 pages
The author, a Harvard education professor, examines teacher defensiveness and barriers that make parents feel unwelcome at schools. A psychotherapeutic look into how parents' and teachers' childhood experiences can impact their adult expectations and how their kids are educated.
Helpful Point: Parents should understand that teachers bring their own baggage to the classroom.
Headscratcher: All the teachers used to illustrate points are female.


September 7, 2005 message from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

. . .  one of the courses I teach is graduate level Information Security, and one of our major principles is the idea of "layered" security. This concept of layers of protection is the primary distinction between the "mislukking" (literally, the "bad luck incident", or "disaster") of the southwestern part of the Netherlands in 1953 and the current "full scale catastrophe" of New Orleans.

If the news reports are to be believed (see footnote below), the scale and scope of the New Orleands incident far exceeds the "Mislukking", which was a drop in the bucket.

The 1953 incident killed 1,835 people, which is why it is considered a disaster, especially since that represented about 10% of the population of the area affected, most while they slept. But in reality, it was a relatively minor incident, even for the Netherlands.

The Dutch incident flooded only a couple of polders (only two of which, Stavenesse and Margareta, held villages), and partially flooded about six more, most of which held only farmland. Less than 20,000 people and about five square miles were affected in total, whereas the news reports we are getting say half a million or more are affected in New Orleans and dozens, perhaps hundreds, of square miles are under water.

With almost half of its land area below sea level (including major cities such as Amsterdam, Ultrecht, Rotterdam, the Hague, Haarlem, and Broeklaan), the incident in 1953 would have been a true calamity but for one thing: In addition to the dikes holding back the sea, the Dutch have criss-crossed their country with "layers" of dikes, partitioning it into tens of thousands of "polders". If the sea breaches a dike, a polder fills up, but hopefully, the dikes between polders will limit the damage to that one polder. That's exactly what happened in 1953. The sea dikes (zeedijken) were breached in several places, and half a dozen polders flooded, but the secondary dikes held, and thus the damage was relatively limited and did not affect the tens of thousands of other polders. No large towns or major cities were affected.

Since the area of Zeeland was at the time very rural, most of the affected polders contained only farms and farmhouses. Two of them contained villages with populations of about 5,000 - 8,000 people, and of course those people suffered greatly.

In fact, it was the relatively rural nature of the Zeeland province which was the cause of the problem: the money had been spent on good dikes for the more populous areas, and the rural areas weren't as well protected. (sound familiar?)

The Netherlands covers an area a little less than the state of Delaware. If you blew the entire country map up to a square meter (square yard) in size, your thumb could cover the entire area affected in 1953, thanks to the system of "layered protection" dikes. By contrast, at the same scale, it would take both your hands and then some to cover the flooded area of New Orleans (this comparison isn't my own, I saw it on Channel 1, the Antwerp TV station. See the footnote!)

When I was in New Orleans for the AAA a few years ago, I remember seeing the floodgates in the wall down by the river. But I don't remember seeing any secondary dikes or walls or levees or dams in other places in the city as I do in Dutch or Belgian cities. Once the water came into town in New Orleans, unless I missed something, it would seem that it could cover a huge area unimpeded.

The Dutch, by bad luck experience, have learned that if you have secondary dikes creating lots of little polders, a breach will fill up a polder rather quickly, and the water level reaches equilibrium rapidly. Once equilibrium is reached, the water stops flowing, and you can repair the breach relatively easily, even during the height of a storm. If you don't have secondary dikes, it takes a long time for the entire countryside to fill up, thus the water is rushing through the breach for a longer time, and much more water is involved, taking longer to pump back out, covering far more area, and doing far more damage.

One of the hallmarks of the human race is the ability to learn from the "bad lucking" suffered by others. New Orleans offers a great object lesson to my InfoSec students. In Information Security, you have to assume the frontline defense will be breached, and you have to have secondary and tertiary defenses in place and ready.

(I have to wonder why the idea of "layers of security" and redundancy in checks/balances isn't emphasized more in audit and fraud detection classes. Perhaps it is, and my unfamiliarity with the modern content of those courses may be leading me to needless worry.)

Incidently, the Dutch area of Zeeland (literally, sea-land) is very similar to the coastal marshes and wetlands of the coastal U.S. While the bayou's have trees, the zeeland was formerly mud flat, created by the Delta of the rivers (Maas, Scheldt, and Rhine, just like Louisiana's Mississippi delta region). After building the dikes, the dutch constructed windmills to run pumps to pump out the water. One consequence of drying out the land is that the land then sinks even further. So what was originally right AT sea level soon becomes lower than sea level once it dries out. Since the soil is sandy, the salt quickly gets washed into the ground, leaving a rich loose tillable soil. The saying goes, "God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland".

(Footnote: Media reports, especially sensational ones, are notoriously inaccurate. I generally take them with a grain of salt until confirmed by a source which I consider accurate by my own previous experience. The sensationalism promulgated by the U.S. press and media here in Europe about New Orleans is "standard fare" and no more sensational than the coverage afforded stuff like the movie star scandals. Like all the other sensations, most intelligent people here don't put much stock in the U.S. media. However, this time, I received an email from Jim and Debby Carter (trusted) friends of ours in rural Louisiana, who confirmed that New Orleans is indeed almost completely under a foot to six feet of water, and while still sensationalized and biased towards overreporting criminal activity (and disdain for governmental aid or lack thereof), most media outlets have generally described the destruction and damage with surprising faithfulness. According to the Carters, the deaths reported are likely close to the real figures, making this a truly terrible tragedy, akin to the results of hurricanes which rake the Caribbean islands periodically -- where tens of thousands often perish in a single storm. By contrast, European media tend more (not completely, but more) to report factual data using well-researched, mathematically-accurate objective data, letting the readers draw their own conclusions instead of giving conclusions for them. Hence I rely on the "thumb vs. two-hand" area comparison from Antwerp TV more than I would if that same comparison appeared in the NY Times or Wall Street Journal. And I believe my friends who are first-hand witnesses even more. Our sympathies here are with the people of the bayous and the city of New Orleans and its environs.)

David Fordham
James Madison University


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 9, 2005

TITLE: Education Companies Learn a Revenue Lesson
REPORTER: Steven D. Jones
DATE: Sep 07, 2005
PAGE: C3
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112605771096933552,00.html 
TOPICS: Accounting, Accounting Changes and Error Corrections, Restatement, Revenue Recognition

SUMMARY: Two for-profit educational institutions, both clients of Ernst & Young, restated earnings because of a change in revenue recognition practices.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What does it mean to state that a company "recognizes revenue"? In your answer, specifically describe the accounting entries made when a student pays tuition to an educational institution. Identify which entry or entries occurs when revenue is recognized.

2.) What are the two bases for timing revenue recognition that are described in this article?

3.) What is the problem that led to the restatements by Corinthian Colleges Inc. and Career Education Corp? Why did the restatements end up reducing earnings by such substantial amounts? In your answer, define the principle of matching and comment on its relationship to the issues in this case.

4.) What accounting standard requires restatement of past financial results because of the issues in this case? What does the restatement imply about the original accounting that was done by these entities?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

Bob Jensen's threads on revenue accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm


"Education Companies Learn a Revenue Lesson:  A Second for-Profit School Restates Earnings, Decides Internships Count as Classes," by Steven D. Jones, The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2005; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112605771096933552,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

This school year, at least a couple of for-profit education companies will be hitting the books -- but not those books.

The lesson plan: Get revenue recognition right.

Last month, Corinthian Colleges Inc. restated three years of earnings to reflect changes in the way the company records revenue from tuition. Career Education Corp. unveiled a similar accounting change and restatement earlier this year.

Previously, both companies had booked tuition income as revenue over just the time a student spent in classroom instruction -- a practice out of step with the reality of the degree programs being offered. A push to ensure students are job-ready at graduation now means internships -- or externships, in the latest lingo -- of as long as two years for students earning certification as surgical, respiratory and radiology technicians, for example, or becoming nurses or paralegals.

Corinthian's restatement trimmed a total of $28 million from earnings back to 2002. That includes cuts of four cents a share from this year's first-quarter earnings and one cent a share from third-quarter earnings. The company said there would be no change to second-quarter earnings.

In a securities filing, Santa Ana, Calif.-based Corinthian, which operates more than 40 campuses, said it would begin recognizing revenue twice a month rather than monthly and "through the end of each student's externship period." The full restatement will appear in the company's annual report in September.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on revenue accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 9, 2005

TITLE: Lifting the Curtains on Hedge-Fund Window Dressing
REPORTER: Jesse Eisinger
DATE: Jul 09, 2005
PAGE: C1
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112605873549333575,00.html 
TOPICS: Advanced Financial Accounting, Investments, Auditing

SUMMARY: Eisinger analyzes stock price jumps on August 31 and argues that the phenomena may be indicative of window-dressing at one particular hedge fund.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What are the three types of investment portfolios identified in the accounting literature? What type of investment portfolio is discussed in this article?

2.) Describe the accounting for the three types of investment portfolios. What is the biggest difference in the accounting practices' effect on reported profits?

3.) Define the term "window dressing." How does that issue relate to using market values for financial reporting and to their impact on performance shown in the income statement?

4.) Suppose you are an auditor for the hedge-fund identified in this article. How would you assess the potential impact of these issues on your audit procedures? Would you react to the information published? Identify all steps you might take both in your audit steps within the hedge-fund and any external steps you might consider.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

Jensen Comment
The term "Hedge Fund" is an oxymoron. You can read more about hedge funds by scrolling down to "Hedge Fund" at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#H-Terms


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 9, 2005

TITLE: For Annual-Report Purposes, Hurricane Katrina Is 'Ordinary'
REPORTER: Diya Gullapalli
DATE: Sep 02, 2005
PAGE: C3
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112562361481529845,00.html 
TOPICS: Accounting, Financial Accounting, Financial Accounting Standards Board, Disclosure, Disclosure Requirements

SUMMARY: As were the financial effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the losses associated with Hurricane Katrina will not be afforded extraordinary item treatment.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What are the requirements for an item to be treated as extraordinary? What accounting standard(s) establishes those requirements?

2.) What is the presentation afforded to items that are given extraordinary item treatment? How is that treatment useful to financial statement users?

3.) What are the reasons that losses from Hurricane Katrina will not be afforded extraordinary item treatment? In your answer, comment on the sheer dollar size of the economic losses and their impact on deciding whether an item should receive extraordinary item treatment.

4.) Besides extraordinary item treatment, what other ways of disclosing the financial effects of the hurricane might convey the clearest information to financial statement users? In your answer, comment on any points made in the article about this issue.

5.) What types of losses are businesses experiencing from the effects of Hurricane Katrina? List all that you can think of. Then, supposing that the item were afforded extraordinary item treatment, what accounting steps would you take to properly present this information? In addition, describe the steps you would take to present financial statement disclosure that you describe in answer to question 4.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

Jensen Comment: 
Hurricanes across New Orleans are not extraordinary.  But the breaks in levees that destroyed the entire city are extraordinary in my viewpoint.  Levee breaks themselves around the world perhaps aren't all that extraordinary, but levee breaks with such massive destruction are indeed very rare events.  It seems to me that if the distinction between ordinary versus extraordinary is to mean anything in GAAP other than a bad joke, then the New Orleans losses are extraordinary.  But I'm just one lowly bookkeeper among a crowd of accounting standard authorities on this issue.




 

Tidbits and Quotations Between September 1 and September 14

Tidbits on September 2, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/


 Music: U.S. Army Band recordings --- http://bands.army.mil/music/default.asp           

             Patriotic concert band recordings --- http://www.ima.lee.army.mil/sites/band/concertSamples.asp

             Jazz ensemble recordings --- http://www.ima.lee.army.mil/sites/band/jazzSamples.asp

             Small group recordings --- http://www.ima.lee.army.mil/sites/band/smGroupSamples.asp

Nice, but so, so sad!
Hear Marilyn Nelson read her poem "A Wreath for Emmett Till" ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4818586

Not my favorites: 
Q Magazine's
Greatest 100 Albums of All Time
--- http://listsofbests.com/list/13/

Guess what the worst one is (Hint:  It's in Q Magazine's Top 100 List)?
Maxim Magazine's 30 Worst Albums of All Time --- http://listsofbests.com/list/64/

Train of Life (Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline) ---  
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/TOL.htm

Please check on your bank account --- http://www.scottstratten.com/movie.html




The scammers (especially Web and telephone scammers) are already moving to get your cash that you intended to help Katrina victims.  For a discussion of how you can really help legitimate agencies, go to
http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/110/109835.htm?z=1727_00000_5024_hv_03

"Scammers Hit Web In Katrina's Wake," by Brian Krebs and Caroline E. Mayer, The Washington Post, September 1, 2005 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083102574.html?referrer=email

Katrina bloggers shine --- http://www.internetweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=170102802

Many local communities housing victims (such as Houston and San Antonio) are seeking funds and other aid to help those victims.  Some of the local banks, churches, newspapers, and TV stations have set up ways to channel that support.  Avoid door-to-door scammers.


Where will all the college students forced out by Katrina find new colleges?
Hurricane Katrina kicked students out of New Orleans colleges, and institutions around the state and the country are welcoming them with open arms. Meanwhile, the closed colleges in Louisiana must wait for a time their students can return – and many hope that they will not have to abandon this semester.
David Epstein, "Finding New Homes or Temporary Home," Inside Higher Ed, September 2, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/02/katrina


Two brilliant explanations of what caused the catastrophic damages from Katrina

Were there rainbow flags whipping about in Louisiana and Mississippi last week?
In 1998 the city fathers of Orlando, Fla., decided to hang rainbow flags from lampposts in honor of Disney World's "gay day." Zany televangelist Pat Robertson issued an admonition: "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you." --- http://snipurl.com/GayCauses

*******************

Does Bobby, Jr. have any recollection of Galveston on September 8, 1900 when the world's horsepower was still energized by horses and not hydrocarbons?
Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence. . . . Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children ---
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/afor-they-that-sow-the-_b_6396.html   


Question
What is the next big thing about to be announced from Apple Corporation?

Answer
Apple Computer Inc. has a tradition of tightly guarding its announcements, but the prevailing expectation among industry observers is that the event will be the unveiling of a long-awaited cell phone from Motorola Inc. that will contain built-in support for Apple's iTunes software, with a connection to Apple's popular online music store.
Mike Musgrove, "Tech World Awaits Apple's Latest 'Surprise'," The Washington Post, August 31, 2005 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/30/AR2005083001899.html?referrer=email
Jensen Comment:  Be careful with this.  You would not want the phone to answer a call from your boss with a rendition of Johnnie Paycheck's "Take This Job and Shove It."


From The Washington Post on August 31, 2005

When did DVD rentals surpass those of VHS tapes?

A. 2004
B. 2003
C. 2002
D. 2001
 


Photographs of the landscapes in the beautiful U.K. --- http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/apictureofbritain/

Smithsonian images of North American Mammals --- http://www.mnh2.si.edu/education/mna/

Appalachian Heritage http://community.berea.edu/appalachianheritage/


"The Fate of Africa" (PublicAffairs, 752 pages, $35)
... is a heavy book, but it is light reading because it is so unfashionably straightforward. Martin Meredith has written a narrative history of modern Africa, devoid of pseudointellectual frills, gender discourse or postcolonial angst. He takes each of the larger African countries and tells you what happened there after independence. In chronological order. It is a joy. Africa's rulers will hate it.
Robert Guest, "So Badly Misled," The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112543868461627062,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

Recolonizing Africa Radical Islam seeps into the neglected continent
For decades, sub-Saharan Africa has been treated as nothing more than a dumping ground for humanitarian aid -- an instrument the West occasionally employed to ease its collective guilt for slavery, colonialism and its own prosperity, only to turn its attention elsewhere as soon as that guilt was temporarily assuaged. This arrangement unfortunately obscured the mechanism by which the West might truly have invested itself in the region's well-being. The fact that the subcontinent is an important piece of the international security framework, due primarily to the level of Islamist penetration it has experienced, has yet to sink in.
David McCormack, "Recolonizing Africa," The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112544315528227170,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


"Pope Tells Catholics to Multiply," Agence France-Presse, September 1, 2005  http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050831/1/3un34.html

Current Population on Earth --- http://www.worldometers.info/

Projected Population Growth (it's already out of control) --- http://snipurl.com/9wu3


The Marriage Advantage — for Men
Male graduate students who have wives drop out less frequently and finish their Ph.D.’s more quickly than their single counterparts.
Scott Jaschik, "The Marriage Advantage — for Men," Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/30/marriage


Malcomb Gladwell on Tipping Points and Moral Hazard
Gladwell:
The home-run tipping-point notion is really quite fascinating. One of the things that always interests me in sports is how extraordinarily sensitive athletic performance is to social expectations. My favorite example is the four-minute mile. For years, no one even comes close. Then Roger Bannister breaks the record in 1954, and suddenly, everyone can break four minutes. Did runners get "better" in 1954? Not really. They simply became aware that running four minutes was possible. Same thing with baseball players and the Dominican Republic. Dominicans are not "better" infielders than everyone else. But if you are a nine-year-old kid playing in San Pedro de Macoris, you know that it's possible to be a major leaguer, in a way that the same kid growing up in Maine does not. When symbolic barriers are broken -- the first man from the Dominican Republic to make the majors, the first person to break four minutes -- the context in which we think of achievement changes dramatically.
Rob Neyer, "The interview: Malcolm Gladwell," ESPN Baseball, June 4, 2005 --- http://espn.go.com/mlb/columns/neyer_rob/1390690.html

Jensen Comment:  Malcomb Gladwell is a clever writer who spent about 10 years with The Washington Post and, since 1997, is a staff writer with The New Yorker.  One of his best known works is The Tipping Point --- http://snipurl.com/TippingPoint .  His latest contribution is in the August 29, 2005 issue of The New Yorker where he laments the sad state of health care insurance in America --- "THE MORAL-HAZARD MYTH The bad idea behind our failed health-care system" --- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050829fa_fact#top
I think moral hazard is in fact a much more serious problem than he concludes, but I like the way he writes about the problem.  Gladwell often take angles on things that are quite clever and is very articulate.  I might not agree with everything he writes, but I always like the way he writes it.


People without health insurance (in the U.S.) have bad teeth because, if you're paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury.
Malcomb Gladwell," The Terrible Tooth About America, The New Yorker --- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050829fa_fact 

The British, of course, have socialized medicine, which we guess explains why they have such great teeth.
Carol Muller, Opinion Journal, August 30, 2005


The Perpetual Health Care Crisis:  There may be no public policy solution to health care --- http://www.reason.com/0507/cr.bd.the.shtml

Lives at Risk: Single-Payer National Health Insurance Around the World, by John C. Goodman, Gerald L. Musgrave, and Devon M. Herrick, Lanham, Md.: Rowan & Littlefield, 263 pages, $22.95

Miracle Cure: How to Solve America’s Health Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn’t the Answer, by Sally C. Pipes, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute, 219 pages, $14.95


No more low riding cleavage teasers at Northwestern University
The new code asks students to keep midriffs covered, and to leave items like tank tops, hats, athletic shorts, and tops with spaghetti straps in the closet when they come to class. “In a professional environment, and with professional education, we’re not only concentrating on facts and didactic material, but professional behavior and appearance,” Wilson said. She added that, so far, she has not seen anyone in the halls in open defiance of the new code.
David Epstein, "Fashion Police," Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/31/dress
Jensen Comment:  What fun is navel jewelry if it can't be displayed?  Now if we could only require ear muffs, at least among the male students.  Or have I become a fuddy duddy in my advancing years?


Long lost 1948 speech in the files of the American Association for Higher Education
When the American Association for Higher Education shut down this spring, many of its files went to Clara M. Lovett, its last president. She recently found a speech given in 1948 at the annual meeting of the higher education division of the National Education Association, which helped create the AAHE. Lovett thought the speech — about challenges facing higher education as the U.S. confronted the Cold War — had relevance today. With thanks to Lovett for the find and to the NEA for permission to reprint the text, we offer the following thoughts from an earlier generation.
Ernest O. Melby , "The Role of the University in Building World Peace," Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/08/31/melby


Is soy everything that's promised?
Soy is widely considered to be something of a medicinal super food, touted as helping to prevent conditions as diverse as heart disease, hot flashes, osteoporosis, kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, and even cancer. But a new government-sponsored review of soy research shows little to justify the hype. An analysis of close to 200 soy studies conducted over the past two decades showed only limited evidence of specific health benefits associated with eating soy products or taking soy supplements.
Salynn Boyles, "Jury Still Out on Soy and Health," WebMD, August 25, 2005 --- http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/110/109766.htm?z=1727_00000_5024_hv_03



Newspaper fabricates series on Iraq

The Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, published a series of articles about the experiences of a young girl whose father was a soldier in Iraq. While the articles moved many students and faculty members, the girl and her father both turned out to be fabrications. The Chicago Tribune exposed the hoax when it investigated reports of the father’s death. The student newspaper has published an apology.

Inside Higher Ed, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/29/qt
 

Texas A&M is investing millions of dollars to win the trust of minority students
Tadesse, who graduated third in his class from the nearly all-black Jack Yates High School in Houston, is part of Texas A&M's bold effort to increase its minority enrollment without considering race in admissions. The goal is a student body that reflects the diversity of Texas. The state's second-largest university has invested millions of dollars to attract students who didn't have the luxury of wealth or the best schools. The campaign reversed a seven-year decline in the number of black and Hispanic freshmen last fall, and the university is projecting big percentage increases again as classes start today. Officials are pleased with the numbers, but realize that recruitment is a first step. Retention is another. For years, a lower percentage of black and Hispanic students have graduated within six years from Texas A&M than their white classmates. The university is staking a lot on Tadesse, knowing his success could help draw more minority students. He is resilient and earnest and does not plan to leave without a bachelor's degree. "People change in college because they haven't seen things in life," he said. "I feel right now that I'm a grown man."
Mathew Tresaugue, "Deeply rooted in tradition, Texas A&M is investing millions of dollars to win the trust of minority students," The Houston Chronicle, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3328964
Jensen Comment:  This initiative is above and beyond the huge influx of minority students at Texas A&M and the University of Texas arising from having to accept the top 10% of students from all public high schools in Texas irrespective of admission test scores and grades.


Florida Colleges Note Fewer Black Students
As
(Florida's) state college students begin another fall term, many schools are reporting a decline in the percentage of black students admitted to one of Florida's 11 public universities. That trend has state Sen. Les Miller, D-Tampa, worried. As the Senate Democratic leader and a member of Florida Caucus of Black State Legislators, Miller said he is among those who questioned whether Gov. Jeb Bush's 1999 initiative to end race-based university admissions would ultimately hurt minority students.
Lloyd Dunkelberger, "Colleges Note Fewer Black Students," TheLedger, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050829/NEWS/508290317/1039


Florida A&M Students Returning To a College in Turmoil
After a year of scandals, investigations and financial difficulties at Florida A&M University, interim President Castell Bryant is intent on restoring the school's respect. Since she took over the school in January, Bryant has been faced with a slew of problems. The athletics program conceded nearly 200 rules violations, two professors were collecting paychecks while working full time out of state, the National Science Foundation investigated misuse of grant money and more.
Brent Kallestad, "FAMU Students Returning To a College in Turmoil," TheLedger, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050829/NEWS/508290321/1134


Bob Jensen's threads on how credit card companies are cheating you are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO

"Did Credit-Card Issuers Collude to Force Arbitration? by Carrick Mollenkamp, The Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2005; Page C1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112553966818328701,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Many of the largest U.S. credit-card companies require customers to sign away their ability to take disputes to court and instead settle disagreements in arbitration.

Now that practice itself is under attack in court. A lawsuit filed recently in federal court in New York City alleges the credit-card companies held secret meetings where they colluded to promote arbitration, in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The complaint alleges that eight of the nation's biggest card issuers -- Bank of America Corp., Capital One Financial Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley's Discover unit, Citigroup Inc., MBNA Corp., Providian Financial Corp. and HSBC Holdings PLC of the United Kingdom -- "combined, conspired and agreed to implement and/or maintain mandatory arbitration."

Some of the banks named allegedly convened a group in 1999 called the "Arbitration Coalition" or "Arbitration Group," the complaint says.

The suit, which was filed last month and is seeking class-action status, claims that bank representatives spoke or met at least 20 times from 1999 to 2003 to share experiences from arbitration as well as advice on how to set up arbitration agreements with consumers that would withstand challenges in court.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on how credit card companies are cheating you are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


"Applications Drop for 3rd Straight Year at M.B.A. Programs, Though Some Business Schools See Upticks,"
The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 10, 2005 --- http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2005/08/2005081004n.htm


U.S. Census Bureau definitions of income --- http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/definitions.html
Bob Jensen's links to accounting, finance, and economics glossaries --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbus.htm


Amazon.com Nonprofit Innovation Award
Amazon.com, Inc. today announced the 10 nonprofit organizations that are finalists for the Amazon.com Nonprofit Innovation Award. This award is designed to recognize and reward nonprofits whose innovative approaches and breakthrough solutions most effectively improve their communities or the world at large. Amazon.com, in partnership with the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a panel of expert advisors, selected the 10 finalists. These organizations will be featured on Amazon.com web site through September 30, 2005, and customers can vote for their favorites by making contributions at www.amazon.com/nonprofitinnovation.
Stanford University Graduate School of Business Newsletter, July 19, 2005


"Lessons for Google in Netscape downfall:  Search engine faces similar obstacles to those that haunted Netscape. Chief among them: Microsoft," by Elizabeth Montalbano, Infoworld, August 10, 2005 --- http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/08/10/HNlessonsforgoogle_1.html


Study Finds Most States Get Short End of Tobacco Deals
A study by Stanford Professor Jeremy Bulow indicates 29 states would have been better off passing a $4 excise tax on a carton of cigarettes rather than signing the multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement agreement.
"Study Finds Most States Get Short End of Tobacco Deals," AOL News, August 6, 2005 --- http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/business/article.adp?id=20050806085909990003&_ccc=2&cid=403 


"The Power Of Us:  Mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business," Business Week, June 20, 2005 --- http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_25/b3938601.htm 


Sharpe Point: Risk Gauge Is Misused
Past average experience may be a terrible predictor of future performance

The so-called Sharpe Ratio has become a cornerstone of modern finance, as investors have used it to help select money managers and mutual funds. Now, many academics -- including Sharpe himself -- say the gauge is being misused . . . The ratio is commonly used -- "misused," Dr. Sharpe says -- for promotional purposes by hedge funds. Bayou Management LLC, the Connecticut hedge-fund firm under investigation for what authorities suspect may have been a massive fraud, touted its Sharpe Ratio in marketing material. Investment consultants and companies that compile hedge-fund data also use it, as does a new annual contest for the best hedge funds in Asia, by a newsletter called AsiaHedge. "That is very disturbing," says the 71-year-old Dr. Sharpe. Hedge funds, loosely regulated private investment pools, often use complex strategies that are vulnerable to surprise events and elude any simple formula for measuring risk. "Past average experience may be a terrible predictor of future performance," Dr. Sharpe says.
Ianthe Jeanne Dugan, "Sharpe Point: Risk Gauge Is Misused," The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2005; Page C1--- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112545496905527510,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Bob Jensen's threads on valuation and risk are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm


Good news and bad news in the recent SAT results
"SAT Math Scores Are Up," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/31/sat

This fall’s college freshmen were the last to take the old SAT — and they did well on the mathematics portion, posting a 2-point gain, to an average of 520. Over the last 10 years, the average math score increased by 14 points, a gain that College Board officials said was significant and attributed to increases in the number of students taking rigorous math courses in high school.

But the statistics released by the College Board on Tuesday also had plenty of sobering news: Verbal scores were flat. And over 10 years, verbal scores increased by only 4 points, to an average of 508. In addition, over the last 10 years gaps in performance levels among members of ethnic and racial groups have grown. Over the last decade, for example, the average score for Asian Americans rose by 25 points on the SAT math test, while the score for black increased by an average of 9 points. That leaves the average for African American students, 431, at 149 points behind the Asian American average of 580.

The following table shows the breakdowns on scores and gains by racial and ethnic groups.

SAT Average Scores and Gains, by Race and Ethnicity, 2005

Racial/ Ethnic Group % of SAT Takers Verbal Average 1-Year Verbal Gain 10-Year Verbal Gain Math Average 1-Year Math Gain 10-Year Math Gain
Native American 1% 489 6 9 493 5 17
Asian 10% 511 4 19 580 3 25
Black 12% 433 3 1 431 4 9
Mexican American 5% 453 2 0 458 5 5
Puerto Rican 1% 460 3 12 457 5 13
Other Hispanic 4% 463 2 -2 469 4 1
White 62% 532 4 7 536 5 15
Other 4% 495 1 -12 513 5 3
All students 100% 508 0 4 520 2 14

Continued in the article


William and Mary joining Yale and some other universities
The College of William and Mary has announced a new aid program that will cover all student costs for families with incomes of up to $40,000. Under the Gateway William and Mary Program, students will not be asked to borrow at all. William and Mary’s move follows those of other public universities, such as the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Virginia, to increase aid packages for students from low-income families.
Inside Higher Ed, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/29/qt


A highly innovative and interactive site for designing and building a home or other building --- http://www.architectstudio3d.org/AS3d/index.html


If you download files often and are frustrated by download times, you may be interested in the following software:
Download Accelerator Plus 7.5 --- http://www.speedbit.com/


Why States Shouldn’t Accredit
If such a provision becomes law, we will see exactly why some states refuse to recognize degrees issued under the authority of other states: It is quite possible to be state-approved and a low-quality degree provider.Which states allow poor institutions to be approved to issue degrees? Here are the Seven Sorry Sisters: Alabama (split authority for assessing and recognizing degrees), Hawaii (poor standards, excellent enforcement of what little there is), Idaho (poor standards, split authority), Mississippi (poor standards, political interference), Missouri (poor standards, political interference), New Mexico (grandfathered some mystery degree suppliers) and of course the now infamous Wyoming (poor standards, political indifference or active support of poor schools).
n L. Contreras, "Why States Shouldn’t Accredit," Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/08/30/contreras


He should've just called her fluffy
Efforts to tackle soaring obesity rates in the US have taken a knock after a doctor was censured for telling a patient she was fat. Terry Bennett, of New Hampshire, told the woman her weight was harming her health, that her husband was obese and would probably die before her, and, given her weight, she would have problems finding another man. The doctor's comments became public at the same time as a new report that said more than 119 million Americans are now considered overweight or obese. The patient, who was reported to have weighed about 110 kilograms and to have been suffering from diabetes, was upset and reported Dr Bennett to state medical authorities. Her complaint, filed about a year ago, was investigated by a panel of the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, which recommended Dr Bennett be sent a confidential letter of concern. The board rejected the suggestion in December and asked the Attorney-General's office to investigate. Dr Bennett rejected that office's proposal that he attend a medical education course and acknowledge he made a mistake. "I told a fat woman she was obese," Dr Bennett said. "I told her, 'You need to get on a program and peel off the weight that is going to kill you' ." Trust for Americans' Health, an independent advocacy group that released this week's report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2005, says the nation has been let down by ineffective anti-obesity policies.
Francis Harris, "Doctor censured for telling patient she is dangerously fat," Sydney Morning Herald, August 27, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/08/26/1124563027265.html

Epidemiologists are hot on the trail of the obesity pathogen
Watching the Detectives Epidemiologists are hot on the trail of the obesity pathogen," by Jacob Sullum,  Reason Magazine, August 26, 2005 --- http://www.reason.com/sullum/082605.shtml


So much for blowing the whistle on Halliburton
A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.
Erik Eckholm, "Army Contract Official Critical of Halliburton Pact Is Demoted," The New York Times, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/29/international/middleeast/29halliburton.html


Talk about conflicts of interest in auditing
Investors who are worried about the fate of the money they turned over to the Bayou Group, a Connecticut firm that is under investigation by federal and state authorities, will not be happy to learn that there were close ties between the firm and the auditor of its hedge funds. Public documents show that the chief financial officer and head of compliance for the Bayou Group was also a principal in an accounting firm that audited the hedge funds' books.
Gretchen Morgensen, "At Defunct Fund, Close Ties to Auditor," The New York Times, August 29, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/29/business/29bayou.html

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor independence are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Professionalism


"Who Killed PayPal?  'Consumer advocates' can make life miserable for consumers," by Radley Balko, Reason Magazine, August/September, 2005 --- http://www.reason.com/0508/cr.rb.who.shtml
Jensen Comment:  Actually PayPal is not dead.  But its effort to be an independent company, apart from eBay, was killed primarily by the banking industry who used their favorite guns, in Washington, to block competition.


Question:
What is the most popular electronic supplement for successful textbooks?

Answer
Probably electronic test banks and homework assignments/solutions.  Automatic grading of homework and exams is becoming extremely popular.

"Text vs. Text vs. Text," by David Epstein, Inside Higher Ed, August 26, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/26/econ

The introductory economics textbook business can be a lucrative one. Principles of Economics, by N. Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard professor, brought an advance of $1.4 million in 1997, and has since become common shelf material in college bookstores.

Several other intro texts have made professors rich. The new books, for which only microeconomics portions have been unveiled so far, are from authors on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Krugman is famous for his anti-Bush tirades in The New York Times, while Hubbard was on the Bush administration’s Council of Economic Advisers, helping to engineer tax cuts. For the most part, though, the content of their books may not be startlingly different from each other, or from the books already out there.

“It’s like adding Pepsi to the shelf with Coca-Cola. You have more choices. You might have Shasta and Canada Dry, too, but it’s mostly more of the same,” said Fred Gottheil, an economics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who teaches intro courses and is the author of his own textbook, Principles of Economics.

The book publishers, however, beg to differ. They say the books are unique, from each other and from other texts on the market. “Each chapter is going to follow a real case of a real business,” said David Hakensen, a spokesman for Prentice Hall, which published Microeconomics, which Hubbard wrote with Anthony P. O’Brien, an economics professor at Lehigh University.

Krugman’s book,