New Bookmarks
Year 2006 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 

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 Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
 

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   
 

Bob Jensen's various threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

Click here to search this Website 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/

Choose a Date Below for Additions to the Bookmarks File

August 31

July 31

September 30 

 

 

New Bookmarks on September 30, 2006

 

 

 

Bob Jensen's New Bookmarks on September 30, 2006
Bob Jensen at Trinity University 

Click Here for Tidbits and Quotations Between September 1 and September 30

Click Here for Humor Between September 1 and September 30

Foilage in New Hampshire's White Mountains --- http://www.nhliving.com/foliage/index.shtml
Fall Foilage --- http://gonewengland.about.com/cs/fallfoliage/l/blfoliagecentrl.htm
Foilage Pictures --- http://photo.net/travel/us/ne/foliage

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
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/.

Bob Jensen's Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
 

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   
 

Bob Jensen's various threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

Click here to search this Website 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/




Click Here for Tidbits and Quotations Between September 1 and September 30

Click Here for Humor Between September 1 and September 30

Links to Documents on Fraud --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm

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

Bob Jensen's Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob.htm

Bob Jensen's links to free electronic literature, including free online textbooks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Bob Jensen's links to free online video, music, and other audio --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Music.htm

Bob Jensen's documents on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory.htm 

Bob Jensen's links to free course materials from major universities --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Bob Jensen's links to online education and training alternatives around the world --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

Bob Jensen's links to electronic business, including computing and networking security, are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce.htm

Bob Jensen's links to education technology and controversies --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm

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




Bob Jensen's complete set of Enron Updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#EnronUpdates

Bob Jensen's threads on the Enron scandal are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan --- FactCheck.org --- http://www.factcheck.org/

The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment.
Celia Green as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-06-28-06.htm

Asked to define "truthiness," [Comedy Central's Stephen] Colbert tells [CBS Sixty Minute's interviewer Morley] Safer, "Truthiness is what you want the facts to be as opposed to what the facts are. What feels like the right answer as opposed to what reality will support." --- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/27/60minutes/main1553506.shtml

This is what makes "truthiness" a perfect word for postmodernism and its postpositive critical theory:

In particular, a dominant trend in critical theory was the rejection of the concept of objectivity as something that rests on a more or less naive epistemology: a simple belief that “facts” exist in some pristine state untouched by “theory.” To avoid being naive, the dutiful student learned to insist that, after all, all facts come to us embedded in various assumptions about the world. Hence (ta da!) “objectivity” exists only within an agreed-upon framework. It is relative to that framework. So it isn’t really objective....
Scott McLemee, "The Power of Postpositive Thinking," , Inside Higher Ed, August 2, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/08/02/mclemee 


I have the honor of chairing the committee that will choose the recipient of the American Accounting Association’s 2007 AAA Innovation Accounting Education Award.

This award is doubly significant because of a $5,000 prize, courtesy of the Ernst & Young Foundation, and improved chances of publication in Issues in Accounting Education.

We encourage you to send in submissions via instructions now available at http://aaahq.org/awards/award6.htm

Members of the Selection Committee are shown below:

*Bea Sanders

AICPA

bsanders@aicpa.org

212 596 6218

*Amy Dunbar

University of Connecticut

adunbar@sba.uconn.edu

860 486 5138

*Edmund A. Scribner

New Mexico State

escribne@nmsu.edu

505 646 5163

*Linda Kidwell

University of Wyoming

lkidwell@uwyo.edu

307 766 3136

*Roger Debreceny

University of Hawaii

Roger@debreceny.com

808 956 8545

*Robert Larson

University of Dayton

Robert.Larson@notes.udayton.edu

937 229 2497

*David Otley

University of Lancaster

d.otley@lancaster.ac.uk

+44 (0)1524 593636

EC Liaison

Nancy Bagranoff

Old Dominion University

nbagranoff@odu.edu

Chair --- Bob Jensen rjensen@trinity.edu


Bob Jensen's Video Collection of Accounting Research at the University of Mississippi

Over the years I videotaped many presentations at meetings, particularly AAA meetings and some EAA meetings. Most of the presentations are by accounting professors and/or leaders from industry.

I've now donated these tapes to be archived at the University of Mississippi which seems to have the largest library of accounting history, particularly history of accounting in the U.S.

The tapes include some classic presentations and some real duds. In some cases the speakers like Ray Sommerfeld are now dead. Their presentations bring tears to the eyes of some old professors like me.

It may take a while for Dale to get these tapes cataloged, and eventually he may have digital copies of selected presentations available for distribution. In other cases, scholars may have to travel to Mississippi to view the presentations.

Except in the areas of technology, it's amazing how many problems in accounting are recycled without being able to solve systemic problems such as those illustrations listed at the following two links:

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

http://snipurl.com/JensenTheory

-----Original Message-----
From: Dale Flesher [mailto:acdlf@olemiss.edu
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 2:20 PM
To: Jensen, Robert
Subject: RE: AAA Videos

Bob:

I have just received two boxes of videotapes from you (144 tapes to supplement the 50+ you sent a couple of months ago).  This looks like a gold mine of information.  You had mentioned earlier that you would recommend some for digitization.  I have discussed this possibility with the librarian in charge of our AICPA National Library of the Accounting Profession and he indicates there are no major problems in digitizing the videos and making them available to the general public, although he wasn't sure about copyright restrictions. 

To ease his initial fears about copyright, we might begin with some videos of you speaking, since you could grant copyright release from both the photographer and the provider of information.

Let me know your thoughts, and thanks for the donation.

Dale Flesher




Making Tutorial Videos From Computer Screens:  Camtasia versus Captivate

September 27, 2006 message from Bob Jensen

Hi Dan,

I have a Camtasia video tutorial on how to use Camtasia. It is one of the easiest video production programs I've ever used. Initially I did not like it because you could only produce avi files that could only be viewed by users having a Camtasia codec viewer. What changed my mind is later versions of Camtasia Producer that allowed us to compress the avi files into common video formats, including wmv MS Media Player videos that can be played by virtually anybody in the world. (I don't much care for Real Media compressions, but since this option preceded the wmv compressor, I produced some rm videos before Producer was capable of wmv compressions.)

My tutorial (badly in need of updating) on how to use Camtasia is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HelpersVideos.htm 

You can view some of my Camtasia tutorials that were produced under older and current versions of Camtasia at the following links:

Accounting Theory --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5341/ 

AIS (mainly MS Access and Excel tutorials) --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5342/ 

I've not yet tried the forthcoming upgrade (in October) that will allow us to do even more exciting things with Camtasia. One of the huge limitations of older versions of Camtasia was that only computer screen shots could be put into Camtasia videos. It is now possible to add other scenes to your computer-screen shots.

Bob Jensen

September 27, 2006 message from Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]

Bob and others:

Let me summarize the differences and similarities between Camtasia and Captivate. I use both and I will upgrade to both Camtasia 4 and Captivate 2 next month. On Monday, I am allowed to talk about the features of Camtasia 4 and I will be doing a couple of web conferences about the new release.

Camtasia:

1. Full-motion video recording - records like a videocamera 2. Callouts can be added in post-production.

3. SCORM output is possible. This means that you can add a Camtasia-generated movie to a WebCT course and verify that a student has viewed the movie. In Camtasia 3.0, the quiz output does not properly record in the WebCT gradebook however.

4. Superior customer support. I am not saying that because I am a beta tester. They will freely admit any bugs and offer free updates to their software between releases.

 

Captivate:

1. Stop-action recording - records stop-action, individual frames. Like an early Disney animation.

2. Easier to add callouts and other actions to individual slides. Callouts are automatically added as you record screen activity. If you do a "File>Save As" that caption is automatically added.

3. In Respect to SCORM In Captivate 1.0, the quiz output does not properly record in the WebCT gradebook however.

4. Inferior customer support. After the Adobe - Macromedia merger, they fired a lot of the Captivate team and shipped development off to India.

5. Captivate is a superior tool in respect to SIMULATIONS. The simulation below was done in Captivate 2.0.

http://www.mark-fletcher.co.uk/cp-sample/sample.htm

More later. I'll show some stuff I have done in Camtasia 4.

Richard J. Campbell
School of Business
218 N. College Ave.
University of Rio Grande
Rio Grande, OH 45674
Voice:740-245-7288

http://faculty.rio.edu/campbell


"What’s a Couple of Hundred Trillion When You’re Talking Derivatives?" by Floyd Norris, The New York Times, September 23, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/23/business/23charts.html

Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Senate Republican leader in the 1950’s, is supposed to have said, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” What would he have thought of derivatives today?

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association, a trade group, reported this week that the outstanding nominal value of swaps and derivatives at the end of June was $283.2 trillion.

Compare that with the combined gross domestic product of the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and China, which is about $34 trillion. The total value of all homes in the United States is about the same amount.

To be sure, notional value is an exaggerated term as it greatly overstates the amount at risk in many contracts. But the growth rate is real, and in the fastest-growing area of swaps — credit default swaps — notional value is closer to the amount at risk, because such swaps promise to make up the losses if a borrower defaults on the notional amount.

The value of outstanding credit default swaps doubles every year — a trend that must eventually stop — and now equals $26 trillion. That is about the same as the total amount of bond debt in the United States, and corporate debt, on which most credit swaps are traded, comes to just $5.2 trillion.

The credit derivatives cover the risks of default by individual companies, and offer insurance against default for bond indexes and specified bond portfolios.

The growth of the market has forced the swaps and derivatives association to change the way its credit swaps work. It used to be that if a company defaulted, the writer of a credit swap would have to pay par value for the bond he had guaranteed, and could then sell the bond to reduce his losses.

But in some cases defaults led to bond rallies, as those who had purchased credit swaps scrambled to get bonds to deliver. Now traders can choose cash settlements, with the amounts to be paid determined through auctions.

Until 1997, the association provided separate numbers on currency and interest rate contracts, but innovations blurred the distinction between those categories, and now it publishes a combined total. At the end of June, the figure was $250.8 trillion, up 25 percent over the previous 12 months.

Growth in that market slowed markedly early in this decade, as worldwide markets cooled, and there was even one annual decline, from mid-2000 to mid-2001. But growth picked up in 2002 as economies began to recover.

The volume outstanding of equity derivatives is rising by about 30 percent a year, and now totals $5.6 trillion. It could go farther, with world stock market capitalization now about $41 trillion, according to Standard & Poor’s.

Robert Pickel, the chief executive of the association, said that the growth in derivatives enables “more and more firms to benefit from these risk management tools.” On the other hand, the situation allows more and more traders to load up on risk if they choose, and hedge funds have become major derivatives traders.

The combination of large unregulated hedge funds trading ever larger amounts of unregulated derivatives in nontransparent markets makes some people nervous. But so far, anyway, little is being done to change the situation, and nothing devastating has happened to markets.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
One of the main differences between a "financial instrument" versus a "derivative financial instrument" is that the notional is generally not at risk in a "derivative financial instrument." For example if Company C borrows $600 million from Bank B in a financial instrument, the notional amount ($600 million) is at risk immediately after the notional is transferred to Company C. On the other hand, if Company C and Company D contract for an interest rate swap on a notional of $600 million using Bank B as an intermediary, the $600 million notional never changes hands. Only the swap payments for the differences in interest rates are at risk and these are only a small fraction of the $600 million notional. Sometimes the swap payments are even guaranteed by the intermediary, thereby eliminating credit risk.

So where's the risk of a derivative financial instrument that caused all the fuss beginning in the 1980s and led to the most complex accounting standards ever written (FAS 133 in the U.S. and IAS 39 internationally)?

Often there is little or no risk if the derivative contracts are held to maturity. The problem is that derivatives are often settled at fair values before maturity at huge gains to one party and huge losses to the counterparty. For example, if Company C swaps fixed-rate interest payments on $600 million (having current value risk with no cash flow variation risk) for variable-rate interest payments on $600 million (having cash flow variation risk but no market value variation risk), Company C has taken on enormous cash flow risk that may become very large if interest rates change greatly in a direction not expected by Company C. If Company C wants to settle its swap contract before maturity it may have to pay an enormous amount of money to do so either to counterparty Company D or to some other company who will take the swap off the hands of Company C. The risk is not the $600 million notional; Rather the risk is in the shifting value of the swap contract itself which can be huge even if it is less than the $600 million notional amount.

A tutorial on how swaps are valued is available at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133swapvalue.htm
Illustrations of how this is accomplished are provided in the 133ex05a.xls Excel workbook at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/ 

Perhaps derivative financial instrument risk is even better illustrated by futures contracts. Futures contracts are traded on organized exchanges such as the Chicago Board of Trade. If Company A speculates in oil futures on January 1, there is no exchange of cash on a 100,000 barrel notional that gives Company A the right to sell oil at a future date (say in one year) at futues price (say $80 per barrel futures price on January 1) when the beginning spot price (say $85) is greater than the forward price. The spot-futures prices differ by an amount called basis. Basis becomes zero at the settlement date. Futures prices on a given contract vary from day to day depending upon market price outlook. Basis is typically negative in what is termed a normal backwardation market. It can be positive for options contracts, however, in a contango market. The terms backwardation and contango are explained at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm 

Futures contracts are unique, relative to forward contracts and options contracts, in that futures contracts are settled in cash for daily changes in the futures price of a contract. Daily settlement is based on the changes in the futures price of the particular contract. If the futures price of this December 31 contract is $80 on January 1 and $75 on January 2, Company A must provide $500,000 = ($80-$75)(100,000 barrels) to its margin account (for the benefit of the counterparty) on January 2 even though the futures contract itself does not mature until December 31. On January 3 there may be more cash outflow or inflow depending upon how the futures price of this contract changes between January 3 and January 4.

Note that the risk is not the gross value of the entire notional of 100,000 barrels of oil. The risk is affected by the size of the notional, but the gain or loss is determined by the change in the futures prices rather than total spot price per barrel. The risk is in the change in the futures prices from day to day. In the case of futures contracts, the profit or loss is the netting of the daily settlements of cash inflows and outflows to the margin account.

I provide illustrations of futures contract accounting versus options contract accounting under FAS 133 at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/285case.htm
More illustrations are provided in the 133ex01a.xls through 133ex10a.xls Excel workbooks at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/

Hence, derivative contracts may have enormous risks even though the notionals themselves are not at risk. Prior to FAS 133 these risks were generally not booked or even disclosed. In the 1980s newer types of derivative contracts emerged (such as interest rate swaps) in part because it was possible to have enormous amounts of off-balance-sheet debt that did not even have to be disclosed, let alone booked, in financial statements. Astounding frauds transpired that led to huge pressures on the SEC and the FASB to better account for derivative financial instruments.

Most corporations adopted policies of not speculating in derivatives by allowing derivatives to be used only to hedge risk. However, such policies are very misleading since there are two main types of risk --- cash flow risk versus value risk. It is impossible to simultaneously hedge both types of risk, and hedging one type increases the risk of the other type. For example, a company that swaps fixed for floating rate interest payments increases cash flow risk by eliminating value risk (which it may want if it plans to settle debt prior to maturity). The counterparty that swaps floating rate interest payments for fixed rate payments eliminates cash flow risk by taking on value risk. It is impossible to hedge both cash flow and value risk simultaneously.

Hence, to say that a corporation has a policy allowing hedging but not speculating in derivative financial instruments is nonsense. A policy to only hedge cash flow risk may create enormous value risk. A policy to only hedge value risk may create enormous cash flow risk.

As the NYT article above points out that derivative financial instruments are increasingly popular in world commerce. As a result risk exposures have greatly increased even if all contracts were used for hedging purposes only. The problem is that a hedge only reduces or eliminates one type of risk at the "cost" of increasing the other type of risk. Derivative contracts increase one type or the other type of risk the instant they are signed.  Hedging shifts risk but does not eliminate risk per se.

You can read more about scandals in derivative financial instruments contracting (such as one company's "trillion dollar bet" that nearly toppled Wall Street and Enron's derivative scandals) at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#DerivativesFrauds

You can download the CD containing my slide shows and videos on how to account for derivative financial instruments at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/

You can find links to all my tutorials and my glossary of FAS 133 and IAS 39 at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm


From the Financial Rounds blog on September 23, 2006 --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/

Saturday Link Dump

Unknown Daughter and Unknown Wife are going away for an overnight with Unknown Niece and Unknown Sister-In-Law. So, it's a boy's couple of days for the Lad and I. I'm putting in a couple of hours at the office while the rest of my family is at my daughter's soccer game, so I thought I'd post a few things for your reading pleasure.
 
Tim Harford's Dear Economist columns are now available online here, with an RSS feed here. Browse through some of his back columns - he's one of the best comenters out there when it comes to applying economic principles to just about anything.

Calculated Risk reports on the implied probabilities that the Fed will either pause in their increases or even cut rates in December - they're increasing.

Truth On The Market adds his $0.02 to the back and forth on options backdating in the blogosphere. He's also got links to previous posts by others.

ProfessorBainbridge.com links to this violent (but funny, in a sick kind of way) online procrastination tool. You've been warned...
 
I'll probably post more later. After Unknown Son and I do some Guy Things, we'll probably go to my office for a bit -- I'll use my laptop, and he'll use my computer - he's got a lot of internet games he likes to play and I've got two 19'' monitors on my office system.

And yes, we're a couple of nerds. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday Link Dump

Here's the latest Link Dump:
 
DealBook comments on the growing popularity of the “buyout-hunting game” (i.e. predicting which firms are likely to be the next targets of P-E firms)

CXO Advisory Group reviews a study that compares "behavioral finance" run mutual funds to good old fashioned, value funds.

Here's the latest
FOMC press release. The main news: no rate increases for now, since the housing market is tanking and inflation seems likely to slow down in the near term.

ProfessorBainbridge.com asks the question
"Can Sarbanes-Oxley 404 Be Fixed?"

In other Sarbox news, The Financial Times has an opinion piece by the Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange. She argues that the loss of U.S. IPO listing business to the LSE is due to the fact that it's simply a better exchange.

The Wall Street Journal (online subscription required) just published its annual ranking of MBA programs.
 

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science reports on a paper by Alan Gerber and Neil Malhotra on the bias in journals towards papers that report "statistically significant" results.
 

Finally, Sound Money Tips has some good advice on saving money on toy purchases. I particularly liked the link provided for buying used toys.
 
Enough for now- time to get back to my "real" job. I've got referee reports to write and data to torture.

Piled Higher And Deeper Explains The Scientific Method
Jensen Comment: To see this module and the accompanying graphic, go to the September 21, 2006 module at http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/


Withdrawals from Section 529 tuition plans are now permanently free of federal taxes.

"Congress Clears Up Uncertainty Over 529 Plans," AccountingWeb, September 8, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102539

Parents worried about huge college costs have one reason to breathe easier: Withdrawals from Section 529 tuition plans are now permanently free of federal taxes.

One line in the massive Pension Protection Act clarified the uncertainty about these college savings plans. A federal law that allowed tax-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses was put in place in 2001, but a sunset date of 2010 was also set. The pension legislation, which became law last month, removed the expiration date.

"To have that issue put to rest and know that your 529 programs are going to receive the same favorable tax treatment indefinitely is a real victory," said Doug Chittenden, vice president of institutional product management at TIAA-CREF, according to MarketWatch. TIAA-CREF runs 529 programs for several states including Connecticut, Minnesota, Georgia, Tennessee and Vermont.

A 529 plan is similar to a 401(k) retirement savings plan. Every state and the District of Columbia offer at least one 529 plan. There are two types, explains Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary: prepaid tuition plans and savings plans. A prepaid tuition plan allows people to pay a child's tuition in advance. The savings plan, which is more popular, allows people to invest in a tax-free investment account, she wrote.

“I was a fan of the 529 savings vehicle even when it wasn't a sure thing that it would retain tax-exempt status. Now there's no question this should be an essential part of your college investment plan,” Singletary wrote.

The 529 plans have been popular savings vehicles. The College Savings Foundation estimates parents, grandparents and other investors have stoked 529 plans with more than $77 billion, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Tax experts advise investors to study the plans and be aware of unexpected consequences. For example, the pension bill did not change the existing rules on withdrawals, rules that many people, including CPAs, are not aware of.

“Withdrawals for college tuition and expenses are reduced by tax-free scholarships, fellowships and certain other financial assistance. If the remaining expenses are less than the qualified distributions, part of the earnings will be taxable,” MarketWatch reported.

Rick Darvis, president of College Funding, Inc. and founder of the National Institute of Certified College Planners, said, "You cannot blindly assume that just because you use a withdrawal for qualified expenses, that it's going to be tax free.”

The College Savings Plan Network ( www.collegesavings.org ) provides links to each state's 529 plan website with details about what plans each state offers.

"Rating 529 College Savings Plans," by Jan E. Eighme, Journal of Accountancy, September 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/sep2006/eighme.htm

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Section 529 college savings plans offer numerous advantages and have few disadvantages compared with other options. Their benefits include tax savings, estate planning benefits, high contribution limits and no income limitations. One of the few drawbacks to these plans is that investment products usually are chosen by the state treasurer’s office and the 529 program manager.

Withdrawals used to pay for qualified educational expenses usually are free of federal taxes. With any other withdrawals, the earnings portion is subject to federal taxes and a 10% penalty. If a child doesn’t go to college, the funds generally can be used to pay for another family member. There are two types of plans: prepaid tuition plans and savings plans. The two most common asset-allocation options clients can choose for savings plans are age-based and static-investment allocation.

Clients will want to consider which states have the best-performing plans. Unfortunately, because 529 savings plans are relatively new, it is difficult to determine their long-term investment performance.

Because 529 plans invest in mutual funds, it is possible to use the long-term performance evaluations of these funds from a rating service such as Morningstar or Lipper in order to calculate weighted-average ratings for a state’s 529 portfolio options.

Also see "A College Savings Plan With One Less Worry," by James Pethokoukis, The New York Times, September 17, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's taxation helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation


The IRS tells you how to get in trouble with the IRS --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/sep2006/tax_ex1.htm

Bob Jensen's taxation helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation


The Enron stuff is very sexy, but that type of fraud was not pervasive.
Backdatings of executive stock option frauds are another matter.

From Jim Mahar's blog on September 22, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

The sleuth who exposed (stock option) backdating scandal

I always like to see finance professors in the news!

Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/21/2006 | Sleuth who exposed backdating scandal:

A few "look-ins":
 
"From his second-floor office at Iowa's Tippie College of Business, [Erik] Lie spent months analyzing data to demonstrate how companies were illegally and retroactively timing, or backdating, stock option grants to fatten bonuses paid to top executives.

 

"He's uncovered a scandal that has just mushroomed," said Adam C. Pritchard, a former attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission and now a law professor at the University of Michigan.

and later in the article:
 
"'The Enron stuff is very sexy, but that type of fraud was not pervasive,' said Andrew Metrick, a professor of finance and corporate governance at the Wharton School in Philadelphia. 'This is widespread, pervasive. I think when this is all said and done, the total amount of dollars that we'll find have been stolen from the corporate till is larger here than any other case we've seen.'"

Bob Jensen's threads on abuses in accounting for employee stock options --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on why "Incompetent and Corrupt Audits are Routine" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#IncompetentAudits


Once Again We Ask:  Where were the auditors?

"Union to Accounting Firms: Backdating?" SmartPros, September 13, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x54687.xml

The AFL-CIO, one of the largest shareholders in public companies, is seeking to learn about the role that big accounting firms may have played in the burgeoning stock options timing affair.

In letters Friday, the labor federation asked the Big Four accounting firms -- Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Deloitte & Touche -- to provide information on their potential involvement as outside auditors for companies now under federal investigation for possible rigging of option grants to boost their value to the recipients.

"Given the potential damage to shareholders due to options backdating, I am concerned about what role (name of accounting firm) may or may not have had in the backdating ...," the AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer, Richard Trumka, said in the letters to the chief executives of the four firms, which were made public Monday. "I urge you to describe what steps are being taken to determine (name of firm)'s involvement in stock option backdating where it has occurred."

In backdating, options are issued retroactively to coincide with low points in a company's share price, a practice that can fatten profits for options recipients when they sell their shares at higher market prices. Backdating options can be legal as long as the practice is disclosed to investors and properly approved by the company's board. In some cases, however, the practice can break federal accounting and tax laws.

Spokesmen for PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG had no immediate comment on the AFL-CIO request. Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche spokesmen didn't immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

Last week, government officials said they want to know what roles corporate directors as well as outside attorneys, accounting firms and compensation consultants might have played in helping executives manipulate the timing of option grants to enrich themselves and their colleagues.

More than 100 public companies, many of them in the technology sector, are under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the affair. The Justice Department is investigating scores of companies for possible criminal violations. And the Internal Revenue Service is looking at possible tax-law violations in option grants by some companies.

The potential cost to shareholders escalated Friday, when computer chip supplier Broadcom Corp. said it may need to boost a charge it takes to $1.5 billion or more for option accounting flaws -- double what it had estimated in July.

On Monday, chip maker Nvidia Corp. and software maker Wind River Systems Inc. both warned that they will miss regulatory deadlines for filing their most recent quarterly reports, joining a long list of tardy tech companies scrambling to clean up a stock options mess. The delay will expose both Nvidia and Wind River to being dropped from trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. But that process takes several months, giving the companies time to comply with the SEC's reporting rules before getting bounced from the Nasdaq.

The AFL-CIO has some $400 billion in assets and is a major investor in companies, including many of those that are under investigation.

Cablevision awarded options to a vice chairman after his 1999 death but backdated them to make it appear they were awarded when he was still alive. Cablevision restated its results as an options probe escalated.
Peter Grant, James Bandler, and Charles Forelle, The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115884346082669986.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

"Backdating Woes Beg the Question Of Auditors' Role," by David Reilly, The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2006; Page C1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115102871998288378.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing

Where were the auditors?

That question, frequently heard during financial scandals earlier this decade, is being asked again as an increasing number of companies are being probed about the practice of backdating employee stock options, which in some cases allowed executives to profit by retroactively locking in low purchase prices for stock.

For the accounting industry, the question raises the possibility that the big audit firms didn't live up to their watchdog role, and presents the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the regulator created in response to the past scandals, its first big test.

"Whenever the audit firms get caught in a situation like this, their response is, 'It wasn't in the scope of our work to find out that these things are going on,' " said Damon Silvers, associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO and a member of PCAOB's advisory group. "But that logic leads an investor to say, 'What are we hiring them for?' "

Others, including accounting professionals, aren't so certain bookkeepers are part of the problem. "We're still trying to figure out what the auditors needed to be doing about this," said Ann Yerger, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, a trade group. "We're hearing lots of things about breakdowns all through the professional-advisor chains. But we can't expect audit firms to look at everything."

One pressing issue: Should an auditor have had reason to doubt the veracity of legal documents showing the grant date of an option? If not, it is tough for many observers to see how auditors could be held responsible for not spotting false grant dates.

"I don't blame the auditors for this," said Nell Minow, editor of The Corporate Library, a governance research company. "My question is, 'Where were the compensation committees?' "

To sort out the issue, the PCAOB advisory group -- comprising investor advocates, accounting experts and members of firms -- last week suggested the agency provide guidance to accounting firms on backdating of stock options. A spokeswoman for the board said, "We are looking to see what action they may be able to take."

To date, more than 40 companies have been put under the microscope by authorities over the timing of options issued to top executives. Federal authorities are investigating whether companies that retroactively applied the grant date of options violated securities laws, failed to properly disclose compensation and in some cases improperly stated financial results. A number of companies have said they will restate financial statements because compensation costs related to backdated options in questions weren't properly booked.

All of the Big Four accounting firms -- PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Deloitte & Touche LLP, KPMG LLP and Ernst & Young LLP -- have had clients implicated. None of these top accounting firms apparently spotted anything wrong at the companies involved. One firm, Deloitte & Touche, has been directly accused of wrongdoing in relation to options backdating. A former client, Micrel Inc., has sued the firm in state court in California for its alleged blessing of a variation of backdating. Deloitte is fighting that suit.

The big accounting firms haven't said whether they believe there was a problem on their end. Speaking at the PCAOB advisory group's recent meeting, Vincent P. Colman, U.S. national office professional practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said his firm was taking the issue "seriously," but more time is needed "to work this through" both "forensically" and to insure this is "not going to happen going forward."

Robert J. Kueppers, deputy chief executive at Deloitte, said in an interview: "It is one of the most challenging things, to sort out the difference in these [backdating] practices. At the end of the day, auditors are principally concerned that investors are getting financial statements that are not materially misstated, but we also have responsibilities in the event that there are potential illegal acts."

While the Securities and Exchange Commission has contacted the Big Four accounting firms about backdating at some companies, the inquiries have been of a fact-finding nature and are related to specific clients rather than firmwide auditing practices, according to people familiar with the matter. Class-action lawsuits filed against companies and directors involved in the scandal haven't yet targeted auditors.

Backdating of options appears to have largely stopped after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate-reform law in 2002, which requires companies to disclose stock-option grants within two days of their occurrence.

Backdating practices from earlier years took a variety of forms and raised different potential issues for auditors. At UnitedHealth Group Inc., for example, executives repeatedly received grants at low points ahead of sharp run-ups in the company's stock. The insurer has said it may need to restate three years of financial results. Other companies, such as Microsoft Corp., used a monthly low share price as an exercise price for options and as a result may have failed to properly book an expense for them.

At the PCAOB advisory group meeting, Scott Taub, acting chief accountant at the Securities and Exchange Commission, said there is a "danger that we end up lumping together various issues that relate to a grant date of stock options." Backdating options so an executive can get a bigger paycheck is "an intentional lie," he said. In other instances where there might be, for example, a difference of a day or two in the date when a board approved a grant, there might not have been an intent to backdate, he added.

"The thing I think that is more problematic is there have been some allegations that auditors knew about this and counseled their clients to do it," said Joseph Carcello, director of research for the corporate-governance center at the University of Tennessee. "If that turns out to be true, they will have problems."

Suspected Fraud:  Attorneys, Auditors, Others Getting Attention In Options Timing Affair
"It's hard to believe ... that the executives did this all by themselves," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said at a hearing Wednesday. "And to be honest, the idea that all executives at different companies came up with this idea at the same time stretches the imagination." Grassley said he planned to write to "several major corporations" that have engaged in backdating of stock options, asking them to provide the minutes of board meetings in which directors discussed the matter as well as documents from attorneys, accountants and consultants who assisted. In backdating, options are issued retroactively to coincide with low points in a company's share price, a practice that can fatten profits for options recipients when they sell their shares at higher market prices. Backdating options can be legal as long as the practice is disclosed to investors and properly approved by the company's board. In some cases, however, the practice can run afoul of federal accounting and tax laws. "We need to understand and bring enforcement action against all the actors who were involved with this abusive scandal," Grassley declared.
"Attorneys, Auditors, Others Getting Attention In Options Timing Affair," SmartPros, September 11, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x54672.xml

Conrad W. Hewitt, chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, sought on September 19, 2006 to clarify the proper accounting for backdated options, reserving the harshest accounting for companies that followed a practice of reducing the exercise price after options were issued.
"S.E.C. Clarifies Accounting for Backdated Options," by Floyd Norris, The New York Times, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/business/20options.html

Mr. Hewitt offered some good news for companies, saying that if complete records were not available it would not automatically mean that companies had to restate their books, limiting the accounting damage for companies that issued backdated options.

Mr. Hewitt’s guidance also clarified that there was no accounting damage from “spring loaded” options, issued by companies that already know that forthcoming good news is likely to raise the stock price.

Such guidance is not officially blessed by the commission, but in this case accountants had expected it after Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, promised last week that “we will soon issue further accounting guidance that will help honest companies to avoid any problems with the law.”

The guidance also warned that companies that allowed executives to falsify the dates they exercised options might be required to restate their books as well.

In recent months it has become clear that many companies were not following the rules for issuing options and were getting the favorable accounting treatment that used to be available. But there have been questions about the proper accounting to use.

Under the normal accounting that then prevailed, companies did not have to show any expense for options issued to employees, so long as the exercise price was at or above the market price at the time of issuance.

Some companies followed a practice of adjusting the exercise price later if it fell. Mr. Hewitt’s guidance took the position that in such cases the option never had a formal completion time, and thus variable accounting was required. That means a company must record an expense as the stock price — and therefore the value of the option — rises, for the life of the option.

Some companies have used that variable accounting for all the backdated options they issued, something Mr. Hewitt said would often not be necessary.

In one common practice, employees were told the exercise price would be the lowest market price during the first month of their employment. In that case, the S.E.C. said, the only expense will be the difference between the price at the end of the period and the low price.

So for a company that issued 100 options at $30 each, when the end-of-the-month price was $32, there would be an expense of $200, which would be taken over the several-year period in which the options vested.

The practice of allowing options to be exercised retroactively was popular with executives because it could minimize the tax they owed. For example, if an option for 100 shares with an exercise price of $20 was exercised when the stock was at $30, that would create taxable income of $1,000. But if the executive was able to claim he or she had exercised it earlier, when the price was $25, the income would be only $500.

In such a case, Mr. Hewitt said, the company would have to record an additional $500 in compensation expense, because it would have given up a $500 tax deduction it had coming. (Companies normally get tax deductions equal to the taxable profit received by employees when they exercise options.)

The memo did not cover the most important tax issue for companies: the amount they owe. A deduction is allowed for only the first $1 million of compensation expenses for executives, but some categories — like the profits employees realize on options — do not count against that limit.

But Mark Everson, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, has told Congress that profits on backdated options would count — and companies could lose millions of dollars in tax exemptions.

Also see http://accounting.smartpros.com/x54789.xml


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 22, 2006

TITLE: SEC Accountant Issues Guidelines on Stock Options
REPORTER: David Reilly
DATE: Sep 20, 2006
PAGE: C3
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115871130408368314.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Accounting, Fair Value Accounting, Securities and Exchange Commission, Standard Setting, Stock Options

SUMMARY: "The Securities and Exchange Commission's chief accountant issued guidance on how companies should account for employee stock options in light of regulators' probes into "backdating" of this type of compensation." Specific guidance issued in a letter by Chief Accountant Conrad Hewitt is developed from the SEC's observations from reviews of cases investigated during the options backdating scandal.

QUESTIONS:
1.) Through what mechanism is the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issuing this new guidance on accounting for stock options? How does this guidance differ from that provided in statements of financial accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)?

2.) Summarize the requirements currently in place to account for employee stock options. What accounting standard establishes these requirements?

3.) Refer to the related article. What were the political pressures that were put to bear on the FASB when it implemented changes in accounting for stock options?

4.) Define the terms "in the money", "at the money", and "out of the money" stock options.

5.) How do current accounting requirements differ from those that were in effect prior to issuance of this most recent standard? Relate this description to your definitions provided in answer to question 4

6.) Describe the issue of options backdating. Again, relate this answer to the definitions provided in answer to question 4.

7.) Based on comments in the main article, how has elevating the accounting for stock options to the face of the financial statements, rather than merely requiring disclosures of the fair values of stock options granted to employees, likely impacted the audit process over these activities?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

--- RELATED ARTICLES ---
TITLE: FASB Appears in a New Light on Stock Options
REPORTER: David Reilly
PAGE:
C1 ISSUE: Aug 14, 2006
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115552025107534780.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac

"SEC Accountant Issues Guidelines On Stock Options," by David Reilly, The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2006; Page C3 --- Click Here

The Securities and Exchange Commission's chief accountant issued guidance on how companies should account for employee stock options in light of regulators' probes into "backdating" of this type of compensation.

But chief accountant Conrad Hewitt made clear that in considering problems related to options accounting the commission would distinguish between honest mistakes, such as paperwork errors, and those that showed a company was trying to game accounting rules. Mr. Hewitt's tone echoed previous comments made by SEC Chairman Christopher Cox that indicated the commission would look closely at a company's intent when investigating possible backdating practices.

Stock options give employees the right to purchase stock at a preset price, known as the strike or exercise price, at a future date. Under accounting rules in place until the start of this year, companies didn't have to recognize any expense related to options grants if the exercise price was equal to the company's share price on the date the options were granted.

However, many companies retroactively picked a grant date to correspond with a low-point for their stock, in effect setting a lower bar for executives.

Under accounting rules in place at the time, such grants could have required companies to book an expense because the exercise price picked wasn't actually the same as the company's share price on the real grant date. Starting this year, companies have had to take an expense for all options grants.

Mr. Hewitt's letter laid out examples where questions have arisen over whether a company should have taken an expense for options under the old accounting rules. In cases where companies picked an exercise price over a 30-day period, for example, they generally should have recorded an expense for the options, the letter said. However, so-called springloading of options, where companies grant options ahead of good news, doesn't result in an accounting issue, the letter said.

The SEC guidance to companies follows an alert to auditors on backdating issues in July from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. More than 100 companies are under investigation in relation to backdating, according to recent congressional testimony from Mr. Cox. The agency has brought civil charges against executives from two companies in tandem with criminal charges by prosecutors.

Mr. Hewitt stressed that the guidance related only to accounting issues, not legal matters arising from backdating issues.

Bob Jensen's threads on abuses in accounting for employee stock options --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on why "Incompetent and Corrupt Audits are Routine" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#IncompetentAudits


Sort of Knocks Your SOX Off:  Accounting Firms Post Double-Digit Growth Rates
The past year has been profitable for the majority of accounting firms, with an average growth rate of 16.5 percent, the highest reported growth since 2000, according to the CCH Public Accounting Report Top 100 list released Friday. Firms outside the Big Four posted stronger overall results than their larger counterparts, with non-Big Four firms growing their revenue at an average rate of 21.9 percent compared to 14.7 percent for the Big Four.
"Accounting Firms Post Double-Digit Growth Rates," SmartPros, September 5, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x54636.xml

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


"The Accounting Cycle:  The Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting Op/Ed,"  by J. Edward Ketz, SmartPros, September 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x54322.xml 

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board have joined forces to flesh out a common conceptual framework. Recently they issued some preliminary views on the "objectives of financial reporting" and the "qualitative characteristics of decision-useful financial reporting information" and have asked for comment.

To obtain "coherent financial reporting," the boards feel that they need "a framework that is sound, comprehensive, and internally consistent" (paragraph P3). In P5, they also state their hope for convergence between U.S. and international accounting standards.

P6 indicates a need to fill in certain gaps, such as a "robust concept of a reporting entity." I presume that they will accomplish this task later, as the current document does not develop such a "robust concept."

Chapter 1 presents the objective for financial reporting, and the description differs little from what is in Concepts Statement No. 1. This objective is "to provide information that is useful to present and potential investors and creditors and others in making investment, credit, and similar resource allocation decisions." The emphasis lay with capital providers, as it should. If anything, I would place greater accent on this aspect, because in the last 10 years, so many managers have defined the "business world" as including managers and excluding investors and creditors. To our chagrin, we learned that managers actually believed this lie, as they pretended that the resources supplied by the investment community belonged to the management team.

FASB and IASB further explain that these users are interested in the cash flows of the entity so they can assess the potential returns and the potential variability of those returns (e.g., in paragraph OB.23). I wish they had drawn the logical conclusion that financial reporting ought to exclude income smoothing. Income smoothing leads the user to assess a smaller variance of earnings than warranted by the underlying economics; income smoothing biases downward the actual variability of the earnings and thus the returns.

Later, in the basis of conclusions, the document addresses the reporting of comprehensive income and its components (see BC1.28-31). Currently, FASB has four items that enter other comprehensive income: gains and losses on available-for-sale investments, losses when incurring additional amounts to recognize a minimum pension liability, exchange gains and losses from a foreign subsidiary under the all-current method, and gains and losses from derivatives that hedge cash flows.

The purported reason for this demarcation between earnings and other comprehensive income rests with the purported low reliability of measurements of these four items; however, the real reason for these other comprehensive items seems to be political. For example, FASB capitulated in Statement No. 115 when a number of managers objected to reporting gains and losses on available-for-sale securities because that would create volatility in earnings. (I find it curious how FASB caters to the whims of managers but claims that the primary rationale for financial reporting is to serve the investment community.) Because one has a hard time reconciling other comprehensive income with the needs of investors and creditors, it would serve the investment community better if the boards eliminate this notion of comprehensive income.

Two IASB members think that an objective for financial reporting should encompass the stewardship function (see AV1.1-7). Stewardship seems to be a subset of economic usefulness, so this objection is pointless. It behooves these two IASB members to explain the consequences of adopting a stewardship objective and how these consequences differ from the usefulness objective before we can entertain their protestation seriously.

Sections BC1.42 and 43 ask whether management intent should be a part of the financial reporting process. Given management intent during the last decade, I think decidedly not. Management intent is merely a license to massage accounting numbers as managers please. Fortunately, the Justice Department calls such tactics fraud.

Chapter 2 of this document concerns qualitative characteristics. For the most part, this presentation is similar to that in Concepts Statement No. 2, though arranged somewhat differently. Concepts 2 had as its overarching qualitative characteristics relevance and reliability. This Preliminary Views expounds relevance, faithful representation, comparability, and understandability as the qualitative characteristics.

The discussion on faithful representation is interesting (QC.16-19) inasmuch as they distinguish between accounts that depict real world phenomena and accounts that are constructs with no real world referents. They explain that deferred debits and credits do not possess faithful representation because they are merely the creation of accountants. I hope that analysis applies to deferred income tax debits and credits.

Verifiability implies similar measures by different measurers (QC.23-26). I wish FASB and IASB to include auditability as an aspect of verifiability; after all, if you cannot audit something, it is hardly verifiable. Yet, the soon to be released standard on fair value measurements includes a variety of items that will prove difficult if not impossible to audit.

Understandability is obvious, though the two boards feel that users with a "reasonable knowledge of business and economic activities" can understand financial statements. I no longer agree. Such a person might employ a profit analysis model or ratio analysis on a set of financial statements and mis-analyze a firm's condition because he or she did not make analytical adjustments for off-balance sheet items and other fanciful tricks by managers. This includes so many of Enron's investors and creditors. No, to understand financial reporting today, you must be an expert in accounting and finance.

Benefits-that-justify-costs acts as a constraint on financial reporting. While this criterion is acceptable, too often the boards view costs only from the perspective of the preparers. I wish the boards explicitly acknowledged the fact that not reporting on some things adds costs to users. When a business enterprise engages in aggressive accounting, the expert user needs to employ analytical adjustments to correct this overzealousness. These adjustments consume the investor's economic resources and thus involve costs to the investment community.

In the basis-for-conclusions section, FASB and IASB explain that the concept of substance over form is included in the concept of faithful representation (see paragraphs BC2.17 and 18). While I don't have a problem with that, I think they should at least emphasize this point in Chapter 2 rather than bury it in this section. Substance over form is a critically important doctrine, especially as it relates to business combinations and leases, so it deserves greater stress.

On balance, the document is well written and contains a good clarification of the objective of financial reporting and the qualitative characteristics of decision-useful financial reporting information. I offer the criticisms above as a hope to strengthen and improve the Preliminary Views.

My most important comment, however, does not address any particular aspects within the document itself. Instead, I worry about the usefulness of this objective and these qualitative characteristics to FASB and IASB. To enjoy coherent financial reporting, there not only is need for a sound, comprehensive, and internally consistent framework, we also must have a board with the political will to utilize the conceptual framework. FASB ignored its own conceptual framework in its issuance of standards on:

* Leases (Aren't the financial commitments of the lessee a liability?) * Pensions (How can the pension intangible asset really be an asset as it has no real world referent?) * Stock options (Why did the board not require the expensing of stock options in the 1990s when stock options clearly involve real costs to the firm?), and * Special purpose entities (Why did the board wait for the collapse of Enron before dealing with this issue?).

Clearly, the low power of FASB -- IASB likewise possesses little power -- explains some of these decisions, but it is frustrating nonetheless to see the board ignore its own conceptual framework. Why engage in this deliberation unless FASB is prepared to follow through?

J. EDWARD KETZ is accounting professor at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Ketz's teaching and research interests focus on financial accounting, accounting information systems, and accounting ethics. He is the author of Hidden Financial Risk, which explores the causes of recent accounting scandals. He also has edited Accounting Ethics, a four-volume set that explores ethical thought in accounting since the Great Depression and across several countries.

Also see
"The Accounting Cycle: Herz Encourages Simpler Accounting: Again, Bah, Humbug!" by: J. Edward Ketz, SmartPros, December 2005 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x50933.xml

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm

The following messages appear at the link http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#Replication

December 3, 2004 reply from Robin A Alexander [alexande.robi@UWLAX.EDU

Interesting. I too came from a math background and finally realized there was no accounting theory in the scientific sense. I also came to suspect it was not a system of measurement either because to be so, there has to be something to measure independent of the measuring tool. Rather it seemed to me accounting defined, for instance, income rather than measured it.

Robin Alexander 

December 3, 2004 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Robin,

I think the distinction lies not so much on "independence" of the measuring tool as it does on behavior induced by the measurements themselves, although this may be what you had in mind in your message to us.

Scientists measure the distance to the moon without fear that behavior of either the earth or the moon will be affected by the measurement process. There may some indirect behavioral impacts such as when designing fuel tanks for a rocket to the moon. In natural science, except for quantum mechanics, the measurers cannot re-define the distance to the moon for purposes of being able to design smaller fuel tanks.

In economics, and social science in general, behavior resulting from measurements is often more impacted by the definition of measurement itself. Changed definitions of inflation or a consumer price index might result in wealth transfers between economic sectors. Plus there is the added problem that measurements in the social sciences are generally less precise and stable, e.g., when people change behavior just because they have been "measured" or diagnosed.

Similarly in accounting, changed definitions of what goes into things like revenue, eps, asset values, and debt values may lead to wealth transfers. The Silicon Valley executives certainly believe that lowering eps by booking stock options will affect share prices vis-a-vis merely disclosing the same information in a footnote rather than as a booked expense. Virtually all earnings management efforts on the part of managers hinges on the notion that accounting outcomes affect wealth transfers. In fact if they did not do so, there probably would not be much interest in accounting numbers See "Toting Up Stock Options," by Frederick Rose, Stanford Business, November 2004, pp. 21 --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/bmag/sbsm0411/feature_stockoptions.shtml

Early accounting theorists such as Paton, Littleton, Hatfield, Edwards, Bell, Chambers, etc. generally believed there was some kind of optimal set of definitions that could be deduced without scientifically linking possible wealth transfers to particular definitions. And it is doubtful that subsequent events studies in capital market empiricism will ever solve that problem because human behavior itself is too adaptive. Academic researchers are still seeking to link behavior with accounting numbers, but they're often viewed as chasing moving windmills with lances thrust forward.

Auditors are more concerned about being faithful to the definitions. If the definition says book all leases that meet the FAS 13 criteria for a capital lease, then leases that meet those tests should not have been accounted for as operating leases. The audit mission is to do or die, not to question why. The FASB and other standard setters are supposed to question why. But they are often more impacted by the behavior of the preparers than the users. The behavior of preparers trying to circumvent accounting standards seems to have more bearing than the resulting impacts on wealth transfers that defy being built into a conceptual framework. Where science fails accounting in this regard is that the wealth transfer process is just too complicated to model except in the case of blatant fraud that lines the pockets of a villain.

It is not surprising that accounting "theory" has plummeted in terms of books and curricula. Theory debates never seem to go anywhere beyond unsupportable conjectures. I teach a theory course, but it has degenerated to one of studying intangibles and how preparers design complex contracts such as hedging and SPE contracts that challenge students into thinking how these contracts should be accounted for given our existing standards like FAS 133 and FIN 46. One course that I would someday like to teach is to design a new standard (such as a new FAS 133) and then predict how preparers would change behavior and contracting. Unfortunately my students are not interested in wild blue yonder conjectures. The CPA exam is on their minds no matter where I try to fly. They tolerate "theory" only to the point where they are also learning about existing standards. In their minds, any financial accounting course beyond intermediate should simply be an extension of intermediate accounting.

Bob Jensen

September 26, 2006 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]

Bob,

Internal consistency seems to have become the holy grail of accounting. It is simply not attainable, and the earlier we recognise this fact the better.

If logic teaches us anything, thanks to Kurt Goedel, it is that no logical system can be complete, consistent and decidable all at the same time. Some thing has got to give.

In law, generally, consistency has been given up since legal principles are inherently conflicting. In accounting, we seem to be chasing "internal consistency" the way a dog chases its own tail.

Having given up consistency as an overriding principle, law has developed interesting, useful, and intellectually demanding theories of reasoning about law. In accounting, on the other hand, we have been caught up in this morass of consistency ever since accounting was divorced from common law.

Accounting is not science the way Physics is (even Physics recognises frailty of human reasoning these days). It is an endeavour to coherently but normatively interpret certain social exchanges.

Jagdish


More Than a Numbers Game: A Brief History of Accounting
Author: Thomas A. King
ISBN: 0-470-00873-3
Hardcover 242 pages
September 2006

Inspired by a 1998 speech by former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, this book addresses the why of accounting instead of the how, providing practitioners and students with a highly readable history of U.S. corporate accounting. Each chapter explores a controversial accounting topic. Author Thomas King is treasurer of Progressive Insurance.
SmartPros Newsletter, September 25, 2006

Jensen Comment
The Chief Accountant of the SEC under Arthur Levitt was one of my heroes named Lynn Turner.

Let me close by citing Harry S. Truman who said, "I never give them hell; I just tell them the truth and they think its hell!"
Great Speeches About the State of Accountancy

"20th Century Myths," by Lynn Turner when he was still Chief Accountant at the SEC in 1999 --- http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speecharchive/1999/spch323.htm

It is interesting to listen to people ask for simple, less complex standards like in "the good old days." But I never hear them ask for business to be like "the good old days," with smokestacks rather than high technology, Glass-Steagall rather than Gramm-Leach, and plain vanilla interest rate deals rather than swaps, collars, and Tigers!! The bottom line is—things have changed. And so have people.

Today, we have enormous pressure on CEO’s and CFO’s. It used to be that CEO’s would be in their positions for an average of more than ten years. Today, the average is 3 to 4 years. And Financial Executive Institute surveys show that the CEO and CFO changes are often linked.

In such an environment, we in the auditing and preparer community have created what I consider to be a two-headed monster. The first head of this monster is what I call the "show me" face. First, it is not uncommon to hear one say, "show me where it says in an accounting book that I can’t do this?" This approach to financial reporting unfortunately necessitates the level of detail currently being developed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB"), the Emerging Issues Task Force, and the AICPA’s Accounting Standards Executive Committee. Maybe this isn’t a recent phenomenon. In 1961, Leonard Spacek, then managing partner at Arthur Andersen, explained the motivation for less specificity in accounting standards when he stated that "most industry representatives and public accountants want what they call ‘flexibility’ in accounting principles. That term is never clearly defined; but what is wanted is ‘flexibility’ that permits greater latitude to both industry and accountants to do as they please." But Mr. Spacek was not a defender of those who wanted to "do as they please." He went on to say, "Public accountants are constantly required to make a choice between obtaining or retaining a client and standing firm for accounting principles. Where the choice requires accepting a practice which will produce results that are erroneous by a relatively material amount, we must decline the engagement even though there is precedent for the practice desired by the client."

We create the second head of our monster when we ask for standards that absolutely do not reflect the underlying economics of transactions. I offer two prime examples. Leasing is first. We have accounting literature put out by the FASB with follow-on interpretative guidance by the accounting firms—hundreds of pages of lease accounting guidance that, I will be the first to admit, is complex and difficult to decipher. But it is due principally to people not being willing to call a horse a horse, and a lease what it really is—a financing. The second example is Statement 133 on derivatives. Some people absolutely howl about its complexity. And yet we know that: (1) people were not complying with the intent of the simpler Statements 52 and 80, and (2) despite the fact that we manage risk in business by managing values rather than notional amounts, people want to account only for notional amounts. As a result, we ended up with a compromise position in Statement 133. To its credit, Statement 133 does advance the quality of financial reporting. For that, I commend the FASB. But I believe that we could have possibly achieved more, in a less complex fashion, if people would have agreed to a standard that truly reflects the underlying economics of the transactions in an unbiased and representationally faithful fashion.

I certainly hope that we can find a way to do just that with standards we develop in the future, both in the U.S. and internationally. It will require a change in how we approach standard setting and in how we apply those standards. It will require a mantra based on the fact that transparent, high quality financial reporting is what makes our capital markets the most efficient, liquid, and deep in the world.

Bob Jensen's overview of accounting history is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

Especially note the module on "Controversies in Setting Accounting Standards" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting


Question
How can you block out portions of a digital screen projection while lecturing?

September 25, 2006 message from Ramsey, Donald [dramsey@UDC.EDU]

I am getting the hang of using my new digital projector in the classroom, to display solutions to the homework. With our old overhead transparencies, I could show each individual journal entry, or whatever, by covering the unwanted material with a piece of paper, revealing each item progressively. (You know what I mean.)

But with the digital, I have not discovered any way to do this short of transferring each item to a PowerPoint slide show, which would clearly be a lot of work. Likewise, I could copy each item to a separate Word page; again a lot of work. Does anyone know of a better way?

It’s a real teaching problem, because the students tend to immediately begin copying the entire screen into their notebooks, and not pay attention to the one item under discussion.

Donald D. Ramsey, CPA,
Department of Accounting, Finance, and Economics,
School of Business and Public Administration,
University of the District of Columbia,
Room 404A, Building 52 (Connecticut and Yuma St.),
4200 Connecticut Ave., N. W., Washington, D. C. 20008

September 25, 2006 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

Donald, what application are you using to display your digital images?

If you are using Word, Excel, or some sort of picture viewer to view Word, Excel, PDF or JPG images, you might try this:

Create a rectangle the same color as the background of your image. Then, in the classroom, use the mouse to grab and move the rectangle, moving it out of the way as you want to "uncover" each portion of your solution.

I've used that trick successfully with several different projection applications. It's a sort of "high tech piece of paper covering". ;-)

A lot of "answer keys" from the publishers come in MS Word format, or Excel. The colored rectangle works great with those.

Some publishers actually provide the answer keys in PowerPoint format if you ask for them. Powerpoint is the way to go, if you have the option. You can create successive slides, each one adding a little bit (by copying and pasting the same slide several times, then eliminating the latter material from the earlier slides). Or you can add custom animation to have successive entries "enter" the view like bullet points.

If the material is not in PowerPoint format, often the publisher will provide it in a format that you can easily cut and paste into PowerPoint. Depending on how many solutions you display each day, cutting and pasting a half- dozen solutions might not be too onerous compared to your other preparation.

More specific suggestions might be available depending on what application you are using to display your material.

September 25, 2006 reply from David Coy [dcoy@ADRIAN.EDU]

I've used a digital projector for several years. The problem you speak of is not easily solved. I am fortunate in that I project images on a Smart Board, which allows me to draw on it in various colors.

Have you thought about increasing the size of the image you are projecting? This would limit the amount of material displayed.

Another possibility might be to distribute copies of the material you are discussing, and encourage them to embellish it with notes and commentaries derived from your presentation.

David Coy
Adrian College

September 25, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

I've used a number of approaches to blocking out all our parts of answers in presentations.

At the low tech end, I've simply added blank lines where you can scroll down or use the navigation buttons to scroll down automatically. See the "View Answer" buttons at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/ExamMaterial/PracticeQuestions/  

If you are using files in software like Excel, MS Word, or Frontpage, it is easy to add blank rows and navigation buttons. Excel file navigation buttons (similar to what you can also do in MS Word) are illustrated in the 138ex01a.xls Excel workbook at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/FAS133OtherExcelFiles/138bench 

(Of course these navigation buttons won't work if you turn off the macros before downloading the Excel file.)

I had a wonderful presentation pointer that would dim parts of a screen and light up where the mouse was pointing in expandable rectangles or circles. It would also magnify. I don't think this tool is on the the market these days.

There is a somewhat more limited magnifying Screen Pen described at
http://www.topshareware.com/Screen-Pen-download-41600.htm 

I think if you search around a bit you will find some more versatile presentation tools that do exactly what you want. Of course these entail software installation which may not be easy for you on classroom computers that restrict software installation.

Bob Jensen

September 25, 2006 reply from Robert Holmes Glendale College [rcholmes@GLENDALE.CC.CA.US]

I use two methods. One is to create Excel spreadsheets by putting the first line on a page. Then make a copy of the page and add the second line. In class you just go to the bottom of the page and click on each tab in succession. After you get the hang of it you can create the pages almost as fast as putting it on one page. Second I have a Gyro Mouse that came with a set of utilities. One of them is a screen that covers the whole page, then you click and drag and move the screen down a line at a time to reveal the information. The gyro mouse is held in the hand and as you move your hand from right to left or up and down, the pointer follows your motions. It has buttons to click and drag and several utilities that you can pop up in addition to the screen. It works anywhere in the classroom and lets you wander about as you control the screen. Gyration.com sells them these days.


Learning Accountability
The Spelling Plans for carrying the recommendations of her Commission on the Future of Higher Education

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plans a many faceted campaign to carry out the recommendations of her Commission on the Future of Higher Education, including providing matching funds to colleges and states that collect and publicly report how well their students learn, building a “privacy protected” database of college students’ academic records, and streamlining the process of applying for federal student aid.
Doug Lederman, "The Spellings Plan," Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/26/spellings


Abolishing the Core Computer Science Curriculum in an Effort to Attract Majors
The Georgia Institute of Technology is today unveiling what some experts believe is a much broader approach to the problem. The institute has abolished the core curriculum for computer science undergraduates — a series of courses in hardware and software design, electrical engineering and mathematics. These courses, in various forms, have been the backbone of the computer science curriculum not just at Georgia Tech but at most institutions.
Scott Jaschik, "New ‘Threads’ for Computer Science," Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/26/gatech

The other, perhaps more costly alternative, is to maintain a core of required courses that are no longer silos in terms of specialized content --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Silos

Students may take the easiest way out in customizable curricula ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CustomizedCurricula
 


Electronic Book Readers Update

"Review: Sony's Reader a step forward," PhysOrg, September 27, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news78593741.html

Sure, there are electronic books available for download at Amazon and elsewhere, but they haven't really caught on. Sony Corp. is now tackling part of the problem with the U.S. launch of the first e-book reader that imitates the look of paper by using an innovative screen technology.

Is this the iPod for books? Not quite. But it is a step forward.

The Sony Reader is a handsome affair the size of a paperback book, but only a third of an inch thick. It goes on sale for $350 on Sony's Web site Wednesday, and in Borders stores in October.

The 6-inch screen can be taken for a monochrome liquid-crystal display at first glance, but on closer inspection looks like no other electronic display. It's behind a thin pane of glass, but unlike an LCD it shows no "depth" - it pretty much looks like a light gray piece of paper with dark gray text.

The display, based on technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff E Ink Corp., is composed of tiny capsules with electrically charged particles of white and black ink. When a static electric charge is applied on the side of the capsule that faces the reader, it attracts the white particles to the face of the display, making that pixel show light gray. Reversing the charge brings the black pigments floating through the capsule to replace the white pigments, and the pixel shows as dark gray.

Like paper, the display is readable from any angle, but it doesn't look as good as the real thing, chiefly because the contrast doesn't compare well. The background isn't white and the letters aren't black. The letters show some jaggedness, even though the resolution is a very respectable 800 by 600 pixels. It will display photos, though they look a bit like black-and-white photocopies.

But it's still a more comfortable reading medium than any other electronic display. The text is easy on the eyes in almost any light you could read a book by.

The other major advantage of the display is that it's a real power sipper. Sony says a Reader with a full charge in its lithium battery can show up to 7,500 pages, an amazing figure that I unfortunately didn't have the time to test.

The reason behind this trilogy-busting stamina is that the display only consumes power when it flips to a new page. Displaying the same page continuously consumes no power, though the electronics of the device itself do use a little bit.

The Reader's internal memory holds up to 100 books, depending on their size. The memory can be expanded with inexpensive SD cards or Memory Sticks.

To load books, connect the Reader with a supplied cable to a Windows PC running the accompanying software. You can transfer Word documents or Portable Document Format files to the Reader, download blog feeds, or buy e-books at Sony's online store. It will also play MP3 music or audiobook files.

 The store is not live yet, so I was unable to test it, but the interface looks comfortably like that of iTunes. It should have 10,000 titles at launch, Sony said, with major titles from publishers like HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster and Penguin-Putnam. In keeping with the e-book market so far, there's no big price break: the electronic version will cost a dollar or so less than the printed book.

The Reader would be a perfect companion for the avid book reader, but for a few things.

First of all, navigation is fairly clumsy. You can't just enter the page number and jump to the page, nor can you enter a word or phrase to search for, as you can when reading a book on a PC. To get around, there are 10 buttons that will each take you a 10th of the way through text. You can also jump to chapter starts, or return to bookmarks. Still, this is very much a one-way device, designed for reading a book straight through from cover to cover.

This lack of interactivity is partly because the screen is slow to change, since it takes time for the pigments to move through the capsules. It takes about a second to display a new page. That means no scrolling through pages, and no note-taking on the screen - imagine having to wait a second for each letter you write to appear.

Secondly, and less importantly, the Reader handles PDFs poorly. It doesn't allow you to zoom in on them, so if they're formatted for standard 8.5-inch-by-11-inch pages, the text will be illegibly small.

Thirdly, the Reader doesn't have a built-in light source, unlike PCs and personal digital assistants. A small clip-on light of the kind sold for books should work well, though.

Because of these drawbacks, it's hard to see the Reader as something that will bust the e-book market open. But it deserves a much better reception than the generally small LCD-based devices that hit the market a couple of years ago, some of which are already discontinued.

Other competition comes from cell phones and PDAs, but none of them match the Reader for screen size, legibility and battery life. Laptops, Tablet PCs and tablet-style Ultra-Mobile PCs have the screen size, but are heavier, more expensive, take time to boot up and have short battery lives.

The real competition, though, will be printed books, which have so far defeated all digital contenders with their excellent "battery life" and "display quality." Sony's going to have to try a little harder before it can really start saving trees.

---


On the Web --- http://www.sony.com/reader

"Review: Sony's Reader uses e-ink for e-books," MIT's Technology Review, September 27, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17550&ch=infotech

Books have been a bit of the orphan in the digital world. Music has the iPod. Video has YouTube. Books have, well, Amazon.com, where you can buy them printed on paper.

Sure, there are electronic books available for download at Amazon and elsewhere, but they haven't really caught on. Sony Corp. is now tackling part of the problem with the U.S. launch of the first e-book reader that imitates the look of paper by using an innovative screen technology.

Is this the iPod for books? Not quite. But it is a step forward.

The Sony Reader is a handsome affair the size of a paperback book, but only a third of an inch thick. It goes on sale for $350 on Sony's Web site Wednesday, and in Borders stores in October.

The 6-inch screen can be taken for a monochrome liquid-crystal display at first glance, but on closer inspection looks like no other electronic display. It's behind a thin pane of glass, but unlike an LCD it shows no ''depth'' -- it pretty much looks like a light gray piece of paper with dark gray text.

The display, based on technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff E Ink Corp., is composed of tiny capsules with electrically charged particles of white and black ink. When a static electric charge is applied on the side of the capsule that faces the reader, it attracts the white particles to the face of the display, making that pixel show light gray. Reversing the charge brings the black pigments floating through the capsule to replace the white pigments, and the pixel shows as dark gray.

Like paper, the display is readable from any angle, but it doesn't look as good as the real thing, chiefly because the contrast doesn't compare well. The background isn't white and the letters aren't black. The letters show some jaggedness, even though the resolution is a very respectable 800 by 600 pixels. It will display photos, though they look a bit like black-and-white photocopies.

But it's still a more comfortable reading medium than any other electronic display. The text is easy on the eyes in almost any light you could read a book by.

The other major advantage of the display is that it's a real power sipper. Sony says a Reader with a full charge in its lithium battery can show up to 7,500 pages, an amazing figure that I unfortunately didn't have the time to test.

The reason behind this trilogy-busting stamina is that the display only consumes power when it flips to a new page. Displaying the same page continuously consumes no power, though the electronics of the device itself do use a little bit.

The Reader's internal memory holds up to 100 books, depending on their size. The memory can be expanded with inexpensive SD cards or Memory Sticks.

Continued in article


 


From Smart Stops on the Web, Journal of Accountancy, September 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/sep2006/news_web.htm


CAREER BUILDING SITES
Value for Your Business
http://bvfls.aicpa.org
The AICPA’s Business Valuation and Forensic Litigation Services Center offers members case studies on fraud schemes, a practice management toolkit and a definition of the month. Read the full text of an exposure draft on valuation service standards and get tips on how to conduct an inquiry interview or an interview with a CEO or CFO. Help your clients develop internal controls with a risk management checklist and a list of common auditing deficiencies.

Answers for Accountants
www.forensicaccounting.com
CPAs interested in switching to investigative and forensic accounting can get an overview here from Alan Zysman, CA and certified fraud examiner, of Toronto’s Zysman Forensic Accounting Inc. His to-the-point e-site offers a detailed explanation of what it takes to become a forensic accountant and how to approach assignments. Also get an overview of investigative accounting and litigation support.

A Valuable Site
www.bvresources.com
Looking for information and news on business valuation? Visit this Web stop for BVWire, a free weekly update with the latest valuation court cases, practice tips, a definition of the week and questions and answers on valuations of start-ups. There’s also free downloads of IRS BV guidelines, an international glossary of terms and free issues of the newsletter Business Valuation Update, as well as links to other BV associations such as the AICPA and the Appraisal Foundation.

What’s It Worth?
www.cbiz.com
The e-calculators here can help you determine cash flow, financial ratios and business valuation as well as estate tax, retirement planning, investment returns and 401(k) savings. The Tax section has a 1040 calculator and the Tax Planning Update newsletter offers advice on how to reduce estate taxes and draft buy-sell agreements. Users also can get marketing tips and links to franchise and small business opportunities.

M&A How-Tos
www.mergerplace.com
Free membership to this e-stop gets CPAs and their entrepreneurial clients a valuation guide with tips on business appraisals and pitfalls associated with them. Users can find a due diligence checklist, simple- and long-form nondisclosure agreements and a buyer profile. The Resource Center offers the M&A Advisor with archived articles on e-mail strategies during an M&A, “Lessons for Dealmakers” and tips on small business valuations. Business Planning Tools includes sample business and marketing plans and e-calculators to determine cash flow and start-up costs.

Tips for Tenderfoots
www.tannedfeet.com
Whether you’re starting an at-home business or just need a refresher course on the rules of the game, this entrepreneurs’ e-page offers checklists for starting a business, marketing plans, tips on how to write a contract and small business tax deductions you may be able to claim. Visitors also can find articles, links and discussions on immigration law and intellectual property, and advice on buying, building or leasing office space. Get a laugh or two in the Business Humor section as well.

Bob Jensen's career bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


From Jim Mahar's blog on September 11, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Advice for learning finance (and pretty much anything else)

A student emailed me the following today. I figured I would share my answer.

"I wondered if you might have any advice for those of us in the MBA program who have undergraduate degrees not related to business?"

Of course I have advice, how effective it is may be up for debate ;)

I would start by saying to think about what you already know and use it to help process what you are learning. Research on how people learn is full of evidence that we learn best when we can form relationships between the new information and things we already know. (The way I was taught it is that we form semantic networks that help us to store and retrieve the new knowledge. In fact this is a big reason I try to use sports examples as many people have at least some experience with sports.)

How to use this? Students in any class (even non finance classes) should try to tie new information would be to tie things to what you know. For instance, think of business through the eyes of a customer. The next time you go shopping stop and visualize everything that must go into the shopping experience. That, in a nutshell is what we are trying to do in any business class. We aim to teach people how to meet customer needs in an efficient manner.

Now turn it around and think of starting a company to meet these needs. Imagine everything you need to satisfy a customer: a product or service (architectural plans, food, or whatever), employees, a means of delivering the product or service. Now consider where the money for these things must come from.

That is finance. We figure out ways to help firms raise money to meet customer needs. Of course this is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. We must know the various alternatives for raising money, where to do so, the tax implications of the alternatives, and how to value the claims we are selling to raise money. And that is just from the corporate side! We also look at things from the investors’ point of view: what do they demand for the use of their money, how do they view risk (can they change the risk with derivatives?), what alternatives exist for their money, how do taxes effect them, and much more.

This seems like a great deal to know, and it is, but when you keep the bigger framework (that is what you know) always in mind, you can go back and see where each topic fits into the bigger picture. And that makes learning (and remembering) new things much easier and usually much more fun as well!

Hope this helps!
Jim

 


September 8, 2006 message from Bob Jensen

I have questions about the formal distinction between a firm commitment (financial instrument) versus a forward contract (derivative financial instrument).

Those of us into FAS 133’s finer points have generally assumed a definitional distinction between a “firm commitment” purchase contract to buy a commodity at a contract price versus a forward contract to purchase the commodity at a contracted forward price. The distinction is important, because FAS 133 requires booking a forward contract and adjusting it to fair value at reporting dates if actual physical delivery is not highly likely such that the NPNS exception under Paragraph 10(b) of FAS 133 cannot be assumed to avoid booking.

The distinction actually commences with forecasted transactions that include purchase contracts for a fixed notional (such as 100,000 gallons of fuel) at an uncertain underlying (such as the spot price of fuel on the actual future date of purchase). Such purchase contracts are typically not booked. These forecasted transactions become “firm commitments” if the future purchase price is contracted in advance (such $2.23 per gallon for a future purchase three months later). Firm commitments are typically not booked under FAS 133 rules, but they may be hedged with fair value hedges using derivative financial instruments. Forecasted transactions (with no contracted price) can be hedged with cash flow hedges using derivative contracts.

There is an obscure rule (not FAS 133) that says an allowance for firm commitment loss must be booked for an unhedged firm commitment if highly significant (material) loss is highly probable due to a nose dive in the spot market. But this obscure rule will be ignored here.

While I was consulting yesterday with an oil trading company, a need arose to definitively distinguish a firm commitment to buy fuel versus a forward contract to buy fuel. My client deals heavily in what I view as firm commitment contracts between buyers and sellers of fuel. Future settlements are totally independent of future spot prices since the contracted price dictates the eventual purchase price of any given contract. However, my client’s customers commonly (more than half the time) pass on (clearing) these contracts when physical delivery is not needed.

My client is fearful that its customers’ contracts will be deemed forward contracts where the forward price is deemed the contracted price. Since actual physical delivery is very uncertain, the Paragraph 10(b) NPNS exception is not available if these are deemed forward contracts.  

One distinction between a firm commitment contract and a forward contract is that a forward contract’s net settlement, if indeed it is net settled, is based on the difference between spot price and forward price at the time of settlement. Net settlement takes the place of penalties for non-delivery of the actual commodity (most traders never want pork bellies dumped in their front lawns). Oil companies typically take deliveries some of the time, but like electric companies these oil companies generally contract for far more product than will ever be physically delivered. Usually this is due to difficulties in predicting peak demand.

A firm commitment is gross settled at the settlement date if no other net settlement clause is contained in the contract. If my client does not want a particular shipment of contracted oil, the firm commitment contract is simply passed on to somebody needing oil or somebody willing to offset (book out) a purchase contract with a sales contract. Pipelines, for example, typically have a clearing house for such firm commitment transferals of “paper gallons” that never flow through a pipeline. Interestingly, fuel purchase contracts are typically well in excess (upwards of 100 times) the capacities of the pipelines.  

The contentious FAS 133 booking out problem was settled for electricity companies in FAS 149. But it was not resolved in the same way for other companies. Hence for all other companies the distinction between a firm commitment contract and a forward price contract is crucial.

In some ways the distinction between a firm commitment versus a forward contract may be somewhat artificial. The formal distinction, in my mind, is the existence of a net settlement (spot price-forward price) clause in a forward contract that negates a “significant penalty” clause of a firm commitment contract.

 The original FAS 133 (I still have this antique original version) had a glossary that reads as follows in Paragraph 540:

Firm commitment

An agreement with an unrelated party, binding on both parties and
usually legally enforceable, with the following characteristics:

a. The agreement specifies all significant terms, including the
quantity to be exchanged, the fixed price, and the timing of the
transaction. The fixed price may be expressed as a specified
amount of an entity's functional currency or of a foreign
currency. It may also be expressed as a specified interest rate
or specified effective yield.

b. The agreement includes a disincentive for nonperformance that is
sufficiently large to make performance probable.

The key distinction between a firm commitment and a forward contract seems to be Part b above that implies physical delivery backed by a “sufficiently large” penalty if physical delivery is defaulted.  The net settlement (spot-forward) provision of forward contracts generally void Part b penalties even when physical delivery was originally intended.  

Firm commitments have greater Part b penalties for physical non-conformance than do forward contracts. But in the case of the pipeline industry, Part b technical provisions in purchase contracts generally are not worrisome because of a market clearing house for such contracts (the highly common practice of booking out such contracts by passing along purchase contracts to parties with sales contracts, or vice versa, that can be booked out) when physical delivery was never intended. For example, in the pipeline hub in question (in Oklahoma) all such “paper gallon” contracts are cleared against each other on the 25th of every month. By “clearing” I mean that “circles” of buyers and sellers are identified such that these parties themselves essentially net out deals. In most cases the deals are probably based upon spot prices, although the clearing house really does not get involved in negotiations between buyers and sellers of these “paper gallons.”

This is an illustration of where the literal interpretation of a contract (with a huge non-performance penalty) has been virtually negated by a market clearing mechanism. My client provides a clearing mechanism on the 24th of every month for about half of what the pipeline charges for clearings on the 25th of each month. Some customers are now worried that if they clear these things with my client they may encounter FAS 133 booking requirements (a Big 4 auditor took this position) that they will not encounter if they clear though the pipeline company even though the pipeline company is in the same clearing business as my client. It makes no sense to me why a Big 4 auditing firm would claim that clearings of “paper gallon” purchase contracts through the pipeline company are firm commitments whereas the same service performed by another company makes them forward contracts. It should be noted that the pipeline company itself only brings buyers and sellers together for these “paper gallons” in which not one drop of fuel passes through the pipeline.

1.
Is there an authoritative reference on the finer points of distinction between firm commitments and forward contracts?  

2.
Why would it really matter whether the clearings take place with a pipeline company versus any other company that performs an identical clearing service for “paper gallons”?

3.
And (my client won’t like me to ask this), why should companies be allowed to keep firm commitments off the books and put forward contracts on the books when a clearing mechanism is virtually negating the Part b distinction above? This seems to be form over substance when applying an accounting rule.

 


New FAS 157 Standard
On September 15, 2006 the FASB released its new standard providing guidance for, especially definitions, for fair value accounting. This is a much watered down standard relative to the original exposure draft that initially proposed the firms have the option of using fair value accounting for virtually all financial instruments that are now accounted for on a historical cost basis under FAS 107 and FAS 115. 

FAS 157 can be downloaded free at http://www.fasb.org/st/index.shtml#fas157

I recently completed the first draft of a paper on fair value at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FairValueDraft.htm
Comments would be helpful.

"FASB Enhances Guidance for Measuring Fair Value," AccountingWeb, September 18, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102586

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 157, Fair Value Measurements, providing enhanced guidance for using fair value to measure assets and liabilities. More than 40 current accounting standards within generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) require or permit entities to measure assets and liabilities at fair value. Prior to last week’s issuing of this standard, the methods for measuring fair value were diverse and inconsistent.

“Today’s [sic] Statement establishes a market-based framework for measuring assets and liabilities at fair value if a particular accounting standard calls for it,” Leslie F. Seidman, FASB member, said in a statement announcing the issuing of the Statement. “Moreover, by requiring companies to provide expanded information about the assets and liabilities measured at fair value, investors and other financial statement users will be able to make more informed decisions about the potential effect of those measurements on a entity’s financial performance.”

The standard, which is effective for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after November 15, 2007, also responds to investors’ requests for expanded information about the extent to which companies measure assets and liabilities at fair value, the information used to measure fair value, and the effect of fair value measurements on earnings. The standard applies whenever other standards require (or permit) assets or liabilities to be measured at fair value. The standard does not expand the use of fair value in any new circumstances.

Under the standard, fair value refers to the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants in the market in which the reporting entity transacts. The standard clarifies the principle that fair value should be based on the assumptions market participants would use when pricing the asset or liability. In support of this principle, the standard establishes a fair value hierarchy that prioritizes the information used to develop those assumptions. The fair value hierarchy gives the highest priority to quoted price in active markets and lowest priority to unobservable data, for example, the reporting entity’s own data. Under the standard, fair value measurements would be separately disclosed by level within the fair value hierarchy.

“The standard clarifies that for items that are not actively traded, such as certain kinds of derivatives, fair value should reflect the price in a transaction with a market participant, not just the company’s mark-to-model value,” said Linda MacDonald, FASB director and fair value measurements project manager. “The standard also requires expanded disclosure of the effect on earnings for items measured using unobservable data.”

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) intends to issue this statement to its constituents in the form of a preliminary views document.

"Will Fair Value Fly? Fair-value accounting could change the very basis of corporate finance," by Ronald Fink, CFO Magazine September 01, 2006 --- http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/7851757/c_7873404?f=magazine_featured

Much has changed in financial reporting since Andrew Fastow and Scott Sullivan, the finance chiefs of Enron and WorldCom, respectively, brought disgrace upon themselves, their employers, and, to a degree, their profession. Regulators and investors have pressed companies to be more open and forthcoming about their results — and companies have responded. According to a new CFO magazine survey, 82 percent of public-company finance executives disclose more information in their financial statements today then they did three years ago. But that positive finding won't quell calls for further accounting reform.

The U.S. reporting system "faces a number of important and difficult challenges," Robert Herz, chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, told the annual conference of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Washington, D.C., last December. Chief among those, said Herz, is "the need to reduce complexity and improve the transparency and overall usefulness" of information reported to investors. ad

Critics contend that generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) remain seriously flawed, even as companies have beefed up internal controls to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. "We've done very little but play defense for the last five to six years," charges J. Michael Cook, chairman and CEO emeritus of Deloitte & Touche LLP. "It's time to play offense."

Cook, a respected elder statesman in the accounting community, goes so far as to pronounce financial statements almost completely irrelevant to financial analysis as currently conducted. "The analyst community does workarounds based on numbers that have very little to do with the financial statements," says Cook. "Net income is a virtually useless number."

How can financial statements become more relevant and useful? Many reformers, including Herz, believe that fair-value accounting must be part of the answer. In this approach, which FASB increasingly favors, assets and liabilities are marked to market rather than recorded on balance sheets at historical cost. Fair-value accounting, say its advocates, would give users of financial statements a far clearer picture of the economic state of a company.

"I know what an asset is. I can see one, I can touch one, or I can see representations of one. I also know what liabilities are," says Thomas Linsmeier, a Michigan State University accounting professor who joined FASB in June. On the other hand, "I believe that revenues, expenses, gains, and losses are accounting constructs," he adds. "I can't say that I see a revenue going down the street. And so for me to have an accounting model that captures economic reality, I think the starting point has to be assets and liabilities."

More than any other regulatory change, fair value promises to end the practice of earnings management. That's because a company's earnings would depend more on what happens on its balance sheet than on its income statement (see "The End of Earnings Management?" at the end of this article).

But switching from historical cost would require enormous effort from overworked finance departments. Valuing assets in the absence of active markets could be overly subjective, making financial statements less reliable. Linsmeier's confidence notwithstanding, disputes could arise over the very definition of certain assets and liabilities. And using fair value could even distort a company's approach to deal-making and capital structure.

A Familiar Concept Fair value is by no means unfamiliar to corporate-finance executives, as current accounting rules for such items as derivatives (FAS 133 and 155), securitizations (FAS 156), and employee stock option grants (FAS 123R) use it to varying degrees when recording assets and liabilities. So does a proposal issued last January for another rule, this one for accounting for all financial instruments. FASB's more recent proposals to include pensions and leases on balance sheets also embrace fair-value measurement (see "Be Careful What You Wish For" at the end of this article).

While both Herz and Linsmeier are careful to note that they don't necessarily favor the application of fair value to assets and liabilities that lack a ready market, they clearly advocate its application where there's sufficient reason to believe the valuations are reliable. Corporate accounting, Herz says, is the only major reporting system that doesn't use fair value as its basis, and he points to the Federal Reserve's use of it in tracking the U.S. economy as sufficient reason for companies to adopt it.

The corporate world, however, must grapple with its own complexities. For one, fair value could make it even more difficult to realize value from acquisitions. Take the question of contingent considerations, wherein the amount that acquirers pay for assets ultimately depends on their return. Under current GAAP, the balance-sheet value of assets that are transferred through such earnouts may reflect only the amount exchanged at the time the deal is completed, because the acquirer has considerable leeway in treating subsequent payments as expenses.

Under fair value, the acquirer would also include on its balance sheet the present value of those contingent payments based on their likelihood of materializing. Since the money may never materialize, some finance executives contend those estimates could be unreliable and misleading. "I disagree with [this application of fair value] on principle," James Barge, senior vice president and controller for Time Warner, said during a conference on financial reporting last May. ad

Barge cites the acquisition of intangible assets that a company does not intend to use as a further example of fair value's potentially worrisome effects. Under current GAAP, their value is included in goodwill and subject to annual impairment testing for possible write-off. But if, as FASB is contemplating, the value of those assets would be recorded on the balance sheet along with that of the associated tangible assets that were acquired, Barge worries that an immediate write-off would then be required — even though it would not reflect the acquiring company's economics.

Fair value's defenders say such concerns are misplaced. The possibility that a contingent consideration won't materialize, for starters, is already reflected in an acquirer's bid, says Patricia McConnell, a Bear Stearns senior managing director who chairs the corporate-disclosure policy council of the CFA Institute, a group for financial analysts. "It's in the price," she says.

As for intangibles that are acquired and then extinguished, the analyst says a write-off would not in fact be required under fair value if the transaction strengthens the acquirer's market position. That position would presumably be reflected in the value of the assets associated with those intangibles as recorded on the balance sheet under fair-value treatment.

"It may be in buying a brand to gain monopolistic position that you don't have an expense," McConnell explains, "but rather you have the extinguishment of one asset and the creation of another." Yet McConnell, among others, admits that accounting for intangibles is an area that would need improvement even if FASB adopted fair value.

Deceptive Debt? Another area of concern involves capital structure, with Barge suggesting that fair value may make it more difficult to finance growth with debt. He contends that marking a company's debt to market could make a company look more highly exposed to interest-rate risk than it really is, noting during the May conference that Time Warner's debt was totally hedged.

Barge also cited as problematic the hypothetical case of a company whose creditworthiness is downgraded by the rating agencies. By marking down the debt's value on its balance sheet, the company would realize more income, a scenario Barge called "nonsensical." He warned of a host of such effects arising under fair value when a company changes its capital structure.

Proponents find at least some of the complaints about fair value and corporate debt to be misplaced. Herz notes fair value would require the company to mark the hedge as well as the debt to market, so that if a company is hedging interest-rate risk effectively, its balance sheet should accurately reflect its lack of any exposure.

What's more, fair value could also improve balance sheets in some cases. When, for instance, a company owns an interest in another whose results it need not consolidate, the equity holder's proportion of the other company's assets and liabilities is currently carried at historical cost. If, however, the other company's assets have gained value and were marked to market, the equity holder's own leverage might decrease.

A real-life case in point: If the chemical company Valhi marked to market its 39 percent stake in Titanium Metals, Valhi's own ratio of long-term debt to equity would fall from 90 percent (at the end of 2005) to 56 percent, according to Jack T. Ciesielski, publisher of The Analyst's Accounting Observer newsletter. ad

Still, even some fair-value proponents share Barge's concern about credit downgrades. As Ciesielski, a member of FASB's Emerging Issues Task Force, wrote last April in a report on the board's proposal for the use of fair value for financial instruments, it is "awfully counterintuitive" for a company to show rising earnings when its debt-repayment capacity is declining.

Herz and other fair-value proponents disagree, noting that the income accrues to the benefit of the shareholders, not to bondholders. "It's not at all counterintuitive," asserts Rebecca McEnally, director for capital-markets policy of the CFA Institute Centre for Financial Market Integrity, citing the fact that the item is classified under GAAP as "income from forgiveness of indebtedness." But Ciesielski says investors are unlikely to understand that, and that fair value, in this case at least, may not produce useful results.

Resolving the Issues Even some of FASB's critics agree, however, that the current system needs improvement, and that fair value can help provide it. "Fair value in general is more relevant than historical cost and can lead to reduced complexity and greater transparency," Barge admits, though he has noted that the use of fair value may also lead to "soft" results that "you can't audit."

For much the same reason, Colleen Cunningham, president and CEO of Financial Executives International (FEI), expressed concern in testimony before Congress last March that "overly theoretical and complex standards can result in financial reporting of questionable accuracy and can create a significant cost burden, with little benefit to investors." In an interview, she explains that her biggest concern is that FASB is pushing ahead with fair-value-based rules without sufficient input from preparers. "Let's resolve the issues" before proceeding, she insists.

Herz concedes that numerous issues surrounding fair value need to be addressed. But important users of financial statements are pressing him to move forward on fair value without delay. As a comment letter that the CFA Institute sent to FASB put it: "All financial decision-making should be based on fair value, the only relevant measurement for assets, liabilities, revenues, and expenses."

Meanwhile, Herz isn't waiting for the conceptual framework to be completed before enacting new rules that embrace fair value. "In the end, we're not going to get everybody agreeing," Herz says. "So we have to make decisions" despite lingering disagreement.

Ironically, one fair-value-based proposal that FASB issued recently may have created an artful means of defusing opposition. The Board's proposal for financial instruments gives preparers of financial reports the choice of using historical cost or fair value in recording the instruments on their balance sheets. That worries some people, who say giving companies a choice of methods will make it harder to compare their results, even when they're in the same industry.

Continued in article


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 22, 2006

TITLE: FASB to Issue Retooled Rule for Valuing Corporate Assets
REPORTER: David Reilly
DATE: Sep 15, 2006
PAGE: C3
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115828639109763950.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Accounting, Advanced Financial Accounting, Fair Value Accounting

SUMMARY: On 9/15/2006, the FASB issued Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 157, Fair Value Measurements. The standard "...provides enhanced guidance for using fair value to measure assets and liabilities. The standard also responds to investors' requests for expanded information about the extent to which companies measure assets and liabilities at fair value, the information used to measure fair value, and the effect of fair value measurements on earnings." (Source: FASB News Release available on their web site at http://www.fasb.org/news/nr091506.shtml) This new standard must be used as guidance whenever reporting entities use fair value to measure value assets and liabilities as a required or acceptable method of applying GAAP.

QUESTIONS:
1.) What is the purpose of issuing Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 157? In your answer, describe how this standard should help to alleviate discrepancies in practice. To help answer this question, you may access the FASB's own news release about the standard, available at http://www.fasb.org/news/nr091506.shtml or the new standard itself, available on the FASB's web site.

2.) From your own knowledge, cite an example in which fair value is used to measure an asset or liability in corporate balance sheets. Why is fair value an appropriate measure for including these assets and liabilities in corporate balance sheets?

3.) What is the major difficulty with using fair values for financial reporting that is cited in the article?

4.) Define the term "historical cost." Name two flaws with the use of historical costs, one cited in the article and one based on your own knowledge. Be sure to explain the flaw clearly.

5.) How does this standard help to alleviate the issue described in answer to question 3? Again, you may access the FASB's web site, and the news release in particle, to answer this question.

6.) The article closes with a statement that "The FASB hopes to counter some of [the issues cited in the article] by expanding disclosures required for all balance sheet items measure at fair value..." What could be the possible problem with that requirement?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

"FASB to Issue Retooled Rule For Valuing Corporate Assets New Method Repeals Limits Spurred by Enron Scandal; Critics Worry About Abuses," by David Reilly,  The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2006; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115828639109763950.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac

Accounting rule makers have wrapped up an overhaul of a tricky but important method of valuing corporate assets, despite some critics' warning that the change could reopen the door to abuses like those seen at Enron Corp.

The overhaul, contained in an accounting standard that could be issued as early as today, will repeal a ban put in place after Enron collapsed into bankruptcy court in late 2001 amid an array of accounting irregularities. The ban prohibited companies immediately booking gains or losses from complex financial instruments whose real value may not be known for years.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board's new rule will require companies to base "fair" values for certain items on what they would fetch from a sale in an open market to a third party. In the past, firms often would use internal models to determine the value of instruments that didn't have a readily available price.

FASB prohibited that practice after Enron used overly optimistic models to value multiyear power contracts in a bid to pad earnings. The ban was meant to give the board time to come up with a new approach to determining fair values.

The accounting rule makers say the new standard will give companies, auditors and investors much needed, and more nuanced, guidance on how to measure market values. Companies will have to think, "it's not my own estimate of what something is worth to me, but what the market would demand for this," said Leslie Seidman, an FASB member. While clarifying how to come up with appropriate values for some instruments, the new standard doesn't expand the use of what is known as fair-value accounting.

Critics say the new rule reopens the door to manipulation and possibly fraud by unscrupulous managers. Requiring market values for instruments where there isn't a ready price in a market can be "a license for management to invent the financial statements to be whatever they want them to be," Damon Silvers, associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO, said at a meeting of an FASB advisory group this spring.

Jousting over the standard reflects a deep rift within accounting circles. For decades, accounting values were mostly based on historical cost, or what a company paid for a particular asset. In recent years, accounting rules have moved toward the use of market values, known as fair-value accounting. In some ways this reflects the shift in the U.S. from a manufacturing to a service economy, where intangible assets are more important than the plant and equipment that previously defined a company's financial strength.

Starting in the mid-1980s, companies also began using ever-more-complicated financial instruments such as futures, options and swaps to manage interest-rate, currency and other risks. Such contracts often can't be measured based on their cost. This spurred the use of market values, thought to be more realistic. But these values can be tough to determine because many complex financial instruments are tailor-made and don't trade on open markets in the same way as stocks.

Of course, valuations based on historical cost also have flaws. The savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s, for example, was prompted in part by thrifts carrying loans on their balance sheets at historical cost, even though the loans had plummeted in value.

Robert Herz, the FASB's chairman, acknowledges the difficulty in coming up with a market, or fair, value for many instruments. In discussions, he often asks how a company could reasonably be expected to come up with a fair value for a 30-year swap agreement on the Thai currency, the baht, which is a bet on the future value of that currency against another.

The answer, according to Mr. Herz and the FASB, is to base the value on what a willing third-party would pay in the market and possibly include a discount to reflect the uncertainty inherent in the approach.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr. Herz said this valuation approach would reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of problems such as those seen at Enron. "The problem wasn't that Enron was using fair values, it was that they were using 'unfair' values," he said.

Still, "the bottom line is that fair-value accounting is a great thing so long as you have market values," said J. Edward Ketz, an associate accounting professor at Pennsylvania State University, who is working on a book about the FASB's new standard. "If you don't, you get into some messy areas."

The FASB hopes to counter some of these issues by expanding disclosures required for all balance-sheet items measured at fair value, the board's Ms. Seidman said.

Bob Jensen's threads on fair value accounting are at various other links:

I recently completed the first draft of a paper on fair value at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FairValueDraft.htm
Comments would be helpful.

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#FairValue

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#UnderlyingBases

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#TheoryDisputes 

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#F-Terms

Interest Rate Swap Valuation, Forward Rate Derivation, and Yield Curves for FAS 133 and IAS 39 on Accounting for Derivative Financial Instruments ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133swapvalue.htm

 


Principles-Based Versus Rules-Based Accounting Standards

"Standing on Principles In a world with more regulation than ever, can the accounting rulebook be thrown away?" byAlix Nyberg Stuart, CFO Magazine September 01, 2006 ---
http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/7852613/c_7873404?f=magazine_featured

As Groucho Marx once said, "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."

Groucho would enjoy the heated stalemate over principles-based accounting. Four years after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act required the Securities and Exchange Commission to explore the feasibility of developing principles-based accounting standards in lieu of detailed rules, the move to such standards has gone exactly nowhere. ad

Broadly speaking, principles-based standards would be consistent, concise, and general, requiring CFOs to apply common sense rather than bright-lines. Instead of having, say, numerical thresholds to define when leases must be capitalized, a CFO could use his or her own judgment as to whether a company's interest was substantial enough to put a lease on the balance sheet. If anything, though, accounting and auditing standards have reached new levels of nitpickiness. "In the current environment, CFOs are second-guessed by auditors, who are then third-guessed by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board [PCAOB], and then fourth- and fifth-guessed by the SEC and the plaintiffs' bar," says Colleen Cunningham, president and CEO of Financial Executives International (FEI).

Indeed, the Financial Accounting Standards Board seems to have taken a principled stand in favor of rule-creation. The Board continues to issue detailed rules and staff positions. Auditors have amped up their level of scrutiny, in many cases leading to a tripling of audit fees since 2002. And there is still scant mercy for anyone who breaks the rules: the annual number of restatements doubled to more than 1,000 between 2003 and 2005, thanks to pressure from auditors and the SEC. The agency pursued a record number of enforcement actions in the past three years, while shareholder lawsuits, many involving accounting practices, continued apace, claiming a record $7.6 billion in settlements last year and probably more in 2006.

Yet the dream won't die. On the contrary, principles are at the heart of FASB's latest thinking about changes to its basic accounting framework, as reflected in the "preliminary views" the board issued in July with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) as part of its plan to converge U.S. and international standards. Principles-based accounting has been championed by FASB chairman Robert Herz, SEC commissioner Paul Atkins, SEC deputy chief accountant Scott Taub, and PCAOB member Charlie Niemeier in various speeches over the past six months. And they're not just talking about editing a few lines in the rulebook.

"We need FASB, the SEC, the PCAOB, preparers, users, auditors, and the legal profession to get together and check their respective agendas at the door in order to collectively think through the obstacles," says Herz. "And if it turns out some of the obstacles are hardwired into our structure, then maybe we need some legal changes as well," such as safe harbors that would protect executives and auditors from having their judgments continually challenged. Even the SEC is talking about loosening up. Most at the agency favor the idea of principles instead of rules, says Taub, even knowing that "people will interpret them in different ways and we'll have to deal with it."

Standards Deviation Why lawmakers are so set on principles and what exactly those principles would look like is all a bit hazy right now. "Post-Enron, the perception was that people were engineering around the accounting rules. We looked around the world and saw that England had principles-based accounting and they didn't have scandals there, so we decided this was the way to go," recounts CVS Corp. CFO David Rickard, a Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Committee (FASAC) member.

But Rickard considers the approach "naive." His firsthand experience with principles-based accounting, as a group controller for London-based Grand Metropolitan from 1991 to 1997, left him unimpressed. "We had accounting rules we could drive trucks through," he says.

Would such a change be worth the trouble? A recent study that compared the accrual quality of Canadian companies reporting under a relatively principles-based GAAP to that of U.S. companies reporting by the rules suggests that there may be no effective difference between the two systems. The authors, Queen's University (Ontario) professors Daniel B. Thornton and Erin Webster, found some evidence that the Canadian approach yields better results, but conclude that "stronger U.S. oversight and greater litigation risk" compensate for any differences.

U.S. GAAP is built on principles; they just happen to be buried under hundreds of rules. The SEC, in its 2003 report on principles-based accounting, labeled some standards as being either "rules" or "principles." (No surprise to CFOs, FAS 133, stock-option accounting, and lease accounting fall in the former category, while FAS 141 and 142 were illustrative of the latter.) The difference: principles offer only "a modicum" of implementation guidance and few scope exceptions or bright-lines. ad

For FASB, the move to principles-based accounting is part of a larger effort to organize the existing body of accounting literature, and to eliminate internal inconsistencies. "Right now, we have a pretty good conceptual framework, but the standards have often deviated from the concepts," says Herz. He envisions "a common framework" with the IASB, where "you take the concepts," such as how assets and liabilities should be measured, and "from those you draw key principles" for specific areas of accounting, like pensions and business combinations. In fact, that framework as it now stands would change corporate accounting's most elemental principle, that income essentially reflects the difference between revenues and expenses. Instead, income would depend more on changes in the value of assets and liabilities (see "Will Fair Value Fly?").

For its part, the SEC has also made clear that it does not envisage an entirely free-form world. "Clearly, the standard setters should provide some implementation guidance as a part of a newly issued standard," its 2003 report states.

The catch is that drawing a line between rules and principles is easier said than done. Principles need to be coupled with implementation guidance, which is more of an art than a science, says Ben Neuhausen, national director of accounting for BDO Seidman. That ambiguity may explain why finance executives are so divided on support for this concept. Forty-seven percent of the executives surveyed by CFO say they are in favor of a shift to principles, another 25 percent are unsure of its merits, and 17 percent are unfamiliar with the whole idea. Only 10 percent oppose it outright, largely out of concern that it would be too difficult to determine which judgments would pass muster.

A Road to Hell? As it stands now, many CFOs fear that principles-based accounting would quickly lead to court. "The big concern is that we make a legitimate judgment based on the facts as we understand them, in the spirit of trying to comply, and that plaintiffs' attorneys come along later with an expert accountant who says, 'I wouldn't have done it that way,' and aha! — lawsuit! — several billion dollars, please," says Rickard.

Massive shareholder lawsuits were a concern for 36 percent of CFOs who oppose ditching rules, according to CFO's survey, and regulators are sympathetic. "There are institutional and behavioral issues, and they're much broader than FASB or even the SEC," says Herz, citing "the focus on short-term earnings, and the whole kabuki dance around quarterly guidance."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the controversies over standard setting in accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting

 


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 8, 2006

TITLE: Where Accounting Meets Language
REPORTER: Michael Rapoport
DATE: Sep 01, 2006
PAGE: C3 LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115707661813251432.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Accounting Changes and Error Corrections, Cash Flow, Financial Accounting

SUMMARY: The article discusses research by two accounting professors at Georgia Institute of Technology, Chares Mulford and Eugene Comiskey, into classifications of cash flows from dividends in equity investments. Dividends received that are in excess of earnings by the investee companies (returns on investments) may be shown as operating cash flows in the investor company's statement of cash flows while cash flows from dividends that exceed the underlying earnings by the investee firm (returns of investments) may not. These latter cash flows must be shown in the investing activities section of the statement.

QUESTIONS:
1.) Access the FASB's Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (FAS) 95, Statement of Cash Flows. Cite the definitions of investing cash flows and operating cash flows. Explain how those definitions lead to the issues described in this article and the research undertaken by Professors Mulford and Comiskey at Georgia Institute of Technology.

2.) As noted in the article, the reported amount of total cash flow will not be affected regardless of the classification issue described in this article. Why then is it important to consider classification of cash flows at all, into any of the three categories?

3.) Continue with your comments in answer to question 2 to particularly address the importance of the operating cash flow amount shown in the statement of cash flows. From your understanding of the article or from other sources, identify financial statement users particularly interested in the amount of operating cash flows generated by a company.

4.) Why do you think so many companies receiving returns on investments in equity securities classify them entirely as cash flows from investing activities? In your answer, comment on the timing of Schnitzer Steel Industries' reclassification of cash flows into the operating cash flows section and its restatement of prior financial statements.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


Transfer Pricing of Intellectual Property Rights --- http://www.buildingipvalue.com/05_TI/031_034.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on intangibles accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#TheoryDisputes


From the FinancialRounds Blog on September 4, 2006 --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/

This Week's Carnival of The Capitalists

This week's COTC is up at The Business of America is Business, compliments of our host Professor Starling Hunter. He's hosting for the second time in a month (talk about a glutton for punishment). He's got a great format for this week's Carnival - he starts with the question each article answers. As usual, here are my picks of the week:
 
Dan Melson of Searchlight Crusade answers the question Why Is There Money in Fixer Properties?

Debt Free provides The Three Strategies to Maximize Your Financial Success.
 
Here's the usual disclaimer: My tastes are probably different from yours. So look around - There's always lots of good stuff at a Carnival.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ben Stein Punts One on Management Buyouts

I almost always enjoy reading whatever Ben Stein's writes - he's an old school kind of guy who generally hits most nails he aims at right on the head. But I got a kick out of his recent New York Times piece where he rails against the injustice of Management Buyouts (MBOs). Unfortunately, the reason I got a kick out of it is that his arguments are both over the top and incredibly off base.

He mentions MBOs in the same breath as segregation and housing discrimination, and says that "...by every standard I can see, they are yet another sad sign of how our corporate trustees have lost their moral compass."

Read the full piece
here (Note: online subscription required)

The basic premise behind his
screed (and I think it's an appropriate word) is that it's wrong for management to use their private information to buy up corporate assets on the cheap.

I have at least a couple of problems with his analysis:

First, what evidence I've seen on MBOs seems to show that the stockholders of the parent company make out about as well when a division is taken private in an MBO as they do when the division is sold to a third party (i.e. in an arms-length asset sale). So, managers on average seem to offer shareholders the same deal as they would have gotten elsewhere.

Second, I think Stein is guilty of "cherry picking." He may not be aware of it, but his cases are most likely not a representative sample. He gives some examples of MBOs where the management made a huge profit. However, the appropriate metric would be the returns for ALL MBOs, not just the successful ones.

Third, even if MBOs on average are extremely successful, the managers doing them bear a huge amount of risk. They typically take large equity stakes in these firms, and therefore end up holding an extremely undiversified position. If the MBO fails, they stand to lose what often represents a major portion of their personal wealth. And as we all know (at least, if we've taken an introductory finance class), bearing higher risk should be compensated by a higher expected return, or people won't take the risk.

Finally, in MBOs, managers typically pay a premium above the current perceived value of the division. And the shareholders APPROVE the deals (or at least the board of directors does). A evidence, the abnormal return to the firms selling the division are positive in most cases (and are statistically quite significant). If managers are making such a killing, it should show up in the returns to the parent company. It doesn't. And if it' such a good deal for the managers, why doesn't another firm swoop down and outbid them?

All in all, a disappointing piece, and not up to Stein's usual standards.

Oh well, everyone has an occasional off day. He does so many things so well that I guess he's due for one, too.

Update: For further commentary on the topic, be sure to read what Equity Private
(Going Private) and Larry Ribstein (Ideoblog) have to say.

As usual, they say it better than me (damn!)

From IAS Plus on September 21, 2006 --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm

We have posted the September 2006 Edition of EITF Roundup (PDF 178k), which provides an overview of the issues discussed, consensuses reached, and administrative matters discussed at the 7 September 2006 meeting of FASB's Emerging Issues Task Force. You will find past issues Here. Issues covered in the September 2006 edition include:
 


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 8, 2006

TITLE: Revisiting Executive-Pay Law
REPORTERS: Charles Forelle and Kara Scannell
DATE: Sep 06, 2006
PAGE: C1
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115750781181554697.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Compensation, Stock Options, Tax Laws, Taxation

SUMMARY: Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, opened hearings on options and executive compensation today. In a related interview, Sen. Grassley said that Congress may consider a change to tax law to do "...away with the deduction for performance-based pay entirely...[or may] at least [tighten] it up." The tax law in question has been in effect since 1993 and disallows deductions for compensation to top executives in excess of $1,000,000 except for performance-based compensation.

QUESTIONS:
1.) In general, what is the maximum amount that corporations may deduct on tax returns for an individual executive's annual compensation? Why does tax law establish this maximum amount?

2.) What exception is established in the tax code to the limitation described in answer to question 1? Why is that exception allowed?

3.) Why may Congress want to avoid dealing with this issue outside of the upcoming lame duck period? How many groups are critical of Congress having established the limitation to executive pay deductibility in 1993? Cite all that you find mentioned in the article, or others that you are aware of.

4.) Why may Congress find dealing with this issue to be a way of addressing other concerns at the same time? How does this possibility make it clear that tax law is driven by more than just the desire to tax U.S. entities equitably?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 8, 2006

TITLE: Determining Board Independence
REPORTER: Kaja Whitehouse
DATE: Sep 06, 2006
PAGE: C3
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115750647533654660.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Accounting, Board of Directors, Corporate Governance, Disclosure, Disclosure Requirements

SUMMARY: Image Entertainment, Inc., disclosed in its proxy statement that certain directors have relationships and related transactions with the company, "even though those five are also billed as 'independent directors...'

QUESTIONS:
1.) Define the terms "corporate governance" and "related party transactions." Cite your source for your definitions.

2.) Who establishes rules regarding the required independence of members of companies' Boards of Directors? Why is it important to assess independence of corporate board members?

3.) What financial reporting standard addresses issues with respect to disclosures about related party transactions in general? What are the required disclosures?

4.) Access the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov. Proceed to a November 4, 2003, SEC release entitled "NASD and NYSE Rulemaking: Relating to Corporate Governance" located at http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro/34-48745.htm or search the SEC's web site using the phrase "board independence" to locate this document. Proceed to the section B, part 2, on the NYSE regulations for determining independence of board members. Compare the transaction descriptions in the article to those requirements and make an assessment of your comparison.

5.) As evidenced by discussion in the article, regulations and disclosure requirements do not prevent businesses from undertaking transactions with related parties or hiring board members who are not independent. How do the required disclosures help financial statement users to assess business operations of entities that engage related parties in transactions or as board members?

SMALL GROUP ASSIGNMENT: Access the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov . Proceed to a November 4, 2003, SEC release entitled "NASD and NYSE Rulemaking: Relating to Corporate Governance" located at http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro/34-48745.htm or search the SEC's web site using the phrase "board independence" to locate this document. Read the release and discuss the following points in groups:

1. What is the history behind the implementation of these NYSE and NASD rule changes?
2. Describe the process for implementing changes in stock exchange regulations.
3. Given the points made in the WSJ article, how effective have these regulatory changes been? What would you propose to improve the rules' effectiveness?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


September 3, 2006 message from Melissa at colormefun2003@yahoo.com

Hello,
I went to:
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book98q4.htm  to check out accounting research links.

the web page I found said "Please notify me when you find broken links. My email address is rjensen@trinity.edu  ."

I was particularly interested in the following links which are not working, or are too old to access. Wondered if you had any ideas?? I searched and couldn't find a working link. bamboo.tc.pw.com   - Vastly simplifies access to SEC filings by public companies http://bamboo.tc.pw.com  I'm looking for a useful site for inter-firm analysis - one that will also allow you to prepare graphs like this one was supposed to.

The SEC has a very useful publication at: http://www.sec.gov/news/handbook.htm  (this link is no longer useful either) What strikes me as significant about this handbook is that it is not based on deduction from principles of good writing; rather, it is based on testing out alternatives on readers and seeing which they find easiest to understand.

I just thought I would try since you made a statement to let you know if there were any broken links.(i'm sure that was awhile ago though). I'd appreciate it if you could either send me this info, send me a link, or let me know where I can access similar info.

thanks,

Melissa

September 4, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Melissa,

The 1998 document is a dated newsletter, and I typically don’t update these old newsletters. However, I do have various documents that I do update.

The Bamboo document for company comparisons was taken over by PwC EdgarScan --- http://edgarscan.pwcglobal.com/servlets/edgarscan

You should check out my bookmarks at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm

In particular note the following link
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#BooksAndCases

For national and international accounting rulings and online research, it is best to subscribe for a fee to one of the leading services shown below:

PwC Comperio --- http://www.pwcglobal.com/comperio

CCH Accounting Research Manager --- http://www.accountingresearchmanager.com/ARMMenu.nsf/vwHTML/ARMSplash?OpenDocument

AICPA FARs (marketed by Wiley) --- http://www.fasb.org/fars/

For looking up filings with the SEC, there are two major sources:

EDGAR --- http://www.sec.gov/edgar/quickedgar.htm

PwC EdgarScan --- http://edgarscan.pwcglobal.com/servlets/edgarscan 

O'Keefe Accounting Library Searches http://library.sau.edu/bestinfo/Majors/Accnt/accindex.htm

It is possible to do comparative company financial analyses using the core earnings databases --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#CoreEarnings

Many IFRS and multiple nation standards and reviews are available from Deloitte's IAS Plus --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm

Comparisons of National and International accounting rules --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#FASBvsIASB

Bob Jensen's summary of accounting theory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm

Top Ten Emerging Technologies According to CFO Magazine in October 2002

THE NEED-TO-KNOW LIST
1. XBRL
2. Business Intelligence
3. Wireless Connectivity
4. Grid Computing
5. Multivariable Testing (MVT)
6. Digital Cryptography
7. Rich Media
8. Internet2
9. Biometrics
10. Small Technology

 XBRL tops the list.  Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#XBRLextended 

 You can order back issues or relevant links management and accounting books and journals from MAAW --- http://maaw.info/

Free Access to Back Issues of The Accounting Review --- http://maaw.info/TheAccountingReview.htm 

International Accounting News (including the U.S.)

AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
       

Upcoming international accounting conferences ---
http://www.accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=79   

Thousands of journal abstracts and other library links ---
http://www.accountingeducation.com/
(look at the menu on the left). 

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/ 

Bob Jensen

September 5, 2006 reply from Ed Scribner [escribne@NMSU.EDU]

Bob,

A couple of online accounting/financial analysis databases:

Mergent Online ( http://www.mergentonline.com/ ) (access depends on whether the researcher’s university library has a license for it).

10k Wizard ( http://www.10kwizard.com/ ) (gives free access to educators and students, but the student access is more restricted). Cited by Bill Mister at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud072402.htm  under Bob Jensen’s fraud links.

Ed

Ed Scribner
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM, USA

 


August 30, 2006 message from Paul Clikeman [pclikema@RICHMOND.EDU]

My friend Joe Hoyle is the David Meade White Distinguished Teaching Fellow at the University of Richmond. Joe spent much of the last year writing more than 30 short essays on college classroom teaching. The essays present a wide range of practical tips for improving student learning.

The essays can be read or downloaded for free at the following URL:

http://oncampus.richmond.edu/~jhoyle/ 

Paul M. Clikeman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Accounting
Robins School of Business
University of Richmond
Richmond, VA 23173

pclikema@richmond.edu 

 


Free Statements on Management Accounting (SMAs) and Tutorials for Management Accounting

From the Institute of Management Accountants --- http://www.imanet.org/publications_statements.asp

Statements on Management Accounting (SMAs) present the views of IMA regarding management accounting and financial management issues. In their development, the Statements are subjected to a rigorous exposure process.

SMAs are classified based on the 5 research practice areas:

As well as the area of Practice of Management Accounting.

All SMAs are available for free download after completing a short information form. Coming soon: Order all the SMAs on one compilation disc. Check back in October 2006 for details.

SMAs are copyrighted by the IMA.

Bob Jensen's threads on free textbooks and other learning materials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 15, 2006

TITLE: Two More CEO Ousters Underscore the Need for Better Strategizing
REPORTER: Carol Hymowitz
DATE: Sep 11, 2006
PAGE: B1
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115793795734759067.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Budgeting, Cost Accounting, Managerial Accounting

SUMMARY: This article compares "traditional strategic planning" mechanisms based on yearly strategic plans from business units to systems which "spotlight a few priorities and regularly hold strategy discussions." It is useful for a beginning cost or managerial accounting course.

QUESTIONS:
1.) Compare a traditional, or "antiquated" as described in the article, strategic planning system to a modern system. In your discussion, comment on cycles of planning, executing, and evaluating and discuss the role of budgeting in the process.

2.) What role do accounting information systems play in enabling this shift in methods for strategic planning? What economic and other factors make it necessary to change planning systems?

3.) Autodesk is a company still using a traditional annual review system for strategic planning as well as other methods. What role does traditional budgeting and strategic planning continue to play in effective management strategies?

4.) Ford Motor Company's new CEO Alan Mullaly is expected to bring about change in the way that he did at Boeing. How did his planning system have an impact beyond giving top managers good information and data to work with in decision making?

5.) One study referred to in the article measured the impact of decisions made by top management who use traditional strategic planning method versus those who do not. Why is the number of decisions with significant impact important to assessing business management? What industry factors also might impact this measure?

6.) Do you think that the need for updating strategic planning methods varies by industry? Support your answer.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


TSA Luggage Locks Are a Waste of Money

September 19, 2006 message from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

If you travel much, you might want to be aware of the following situation.

On my wife's trip to Mexico last summer, her luggage got misrouted, and by the time it arrived, it had been significantly pilfered. All electronics including her laptop, PDA, outboard disk drive, even her diabetic blood- sugar monitor, were gone. The airlines claimed they were not responsible for anything since the luggage had been unlocked. After she raised all the Cane she was Able to, they did end up paying her a $100 goodwill gesture, a tiny fraction of the value of the stolen luggage.

Alas, before travelling abroad again, she did some investigating, and purchased a rather expensive set of luggage locks that claimed to be "TSA approved". She used the locks last week on our trip to Belgium and back.

On the way back, once again, her luggage got waylaid, this time in Newark airport. She arrived home on time, her luggage didn't, but was delivered to our home the next day. Upon arrival, she discovered that all the TSA locks had been cut off and were found inside the luggage.

Nothing was missing, but the locks were completely destroyed.

Upon inquiry to the airline, she was told that U.S. Customs was probably the one who cut the locks.

Customs, she was told, does not have the codes or keys that TSA uses to remove the locks! So if the luggage is locked, they simply cut the lock off.

This is one of those "darned if you do, darned if you don't" dilemmas.

I thought everyone on the list might want to be aware of this. Buying TSA locks does not appear to accomplish anything. We won't be wasting our money again on TSA- approved locks.

David Fordham


From Jim Mahar's blog on September 19, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

SSRN-102 Errors in Company Valuations (102 Errores en Valoraciones de Empresas) by Pablo Fernández

Want to practice your Spanish while studying Finance as well? This paper provides you the opportunity! It examines common mistakes that we tend to make in valuation.

I won't try to translate it for you (I actually surprised myself as I could read most of it!) but fortunately the abstract is in English.


SSRN-102 Errors in Company Valuations (102 Errores en Valoraciones de Empresas) by Pablo Fernández:
"This paper contains a collection and classification of 96 errors seen in company valuations performed by financial analysts, investment banks and financial consultants. The author had access to most of the valuations referred to in this paper in his capacity as a consultant in company acquisitions, sales, mergers, and arbitrage processes.

We classify the errors in six main categories: 1) Errors in the discount rate calculation and concerning the riskiness of the company; 2) Errors when calculating or forecasting the expected cash flows; 3) Errors in the calculation of the residual value; 4) Inconsistencies and conceptual errors; 5) Errors when interpreting the valuation; and 6) Organizational errors"

September 19, 2006 message from Bob Deily, MBAWare [bdeily@mbaware.com]

Dear Dr. Jensen,

First off, let me compliment you on an absolutely exhaustively researched web site. There is an incredible amount of information contained on the various pages, and I can’t imagine how long it has taken to compile and separate the “wheat from the chaff.”

I am writing to request a review of my company's offering of software for Finance/Accounting ( http://www.mbaware.com/finandacsof.html  ) and for business valuations ( http://www.mbaware.com/busvalsof.html  ) for possible inclusion on various web pages on your site. We are a retailer of a variety of specialized, high-quality, off-the-shelf financial software including software for amortization, accounting, business plans, business strategy, business valuations, financial statement analysis, forecasting, payroll, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, treasury management and much more. Our specialties are financial and business valuation software.

From my review of the site, it looks like the best fit might be our valuation software and data page ( http://www.mbaware.com/busvalsof.html  ) which would be a good fit on your “Threads on Return on Business Valuation, Business Combinations, Investment (ROI), and Pro Forma Financial Reporting” page ( http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm  ) under the “BUSINESS VALUATION SITES” section.

Thanks very much for your consideration, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Bob Deily, President
MBAWare - The Business Software Source
(703) 875-0660

E-mail: bdeily@mbaware.com 
www.MBAWare.com

 

Bob Jensen's threads on Business Valuation Blunders by the Pros are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm#Blunders

Bob Jensen's threads on valuations are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm

 


September 9, 2006 message from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

September 2006  

Attention Educators:

Let the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) help you start the academic year off right. Here are the top 5 reasons why IMA should be your professional partner.  

1. Tools for your classroom
IMA has a wide array of resources to help you pump up the volume on accounting and finance topics. Here are just a few examples:

Strategic Finance Magazine  Our award winning publication keeps students and educators current on the latest developments in the management accounting arena. Encourage your students to read and discuss the articles in class. The magazine is sent to members directly or can be ordered on a subscription basis.

Inside Talk Webinars - IMA sponsors a free monthly Webinar series for members called Inside Talk. The archived Webinars are a great resource for the classroom. Topics include XBRL, Budgeting, SOX, Financial Reporting, Valuation, Balanced Scorecard and Ethics.
Click here for a complete listing.

Case Studies  IMA has developed a variety of case studies to support your management accounting curriculum. They are available free of charge in electronic format. Visit IMA's Instructor Resources Web page for more information. Teaching notes are available by contacting Jodi Ryan at jryan@imanet.org.

Statements on Management Accounting (SMAs)  SMAs present the views of IMA regarding management accounting and financial management issues. IMA has published SMAs on a variety of topics. New topics are being introduced, including Lean Accounting and Lean Enterprises. SMAs will become available free of charge on the IMA Web site this fall. Click here for more information.

2. Receive funding for your research
The IMA offers a variety of research grants through its
Foundation for Applied Research. Through excellence in research, IMA provides business decision makers with information of strategic importance. IMA has funded more than 500 researchers, who have produced more than 250 studies.

3. Get connected with your profession.
IMA has a vast network of chapters and councils throughout the world.
Click here to find out more about the active groups in your area. This is also a great way to find local professionals to be guest speakers in the classroom.

4. Help your students
You can volunteer as an IMA Academic Mentor on your campus, help establish a local student chapter, and promote careers in finance and management accounting.
Click here for more information.

Competitions and Scholarships
Let your students know that IMA offers an array of scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to help offset the cost of education.

IMA Student case competition  Teams of students can respond to a published hypothetical case study appearing in the August 2006 edition of Strategic Finance magazine by submitting a videotaped presentation. Four finalist teams will be invited to make live presentations at IMA's Annual Conference & Exposition in Phoenix in June 2007.

IMA Student Leadership Conference  Held each November, this conference offers students a chance to learn about hot topics in management accounting from experts in the profession.

5. Develop yourself- take the CMA exam for free
Did you know full-time faculty members teaching at accredited U.S., Canadian, and Mexican universities are permitted to take the CMA exam one time at no charge? Visit the
Certification section of our Web site for more information.

Join today!
If you're not already an IMA member, consider the benefits of membership. With its network of nearly 65,000 members worldwide, IMA is the voice of the management accounting profession. Educators can join IMA at a reduced rate of $93 per year!
Click here to learn more about the value of membership.


From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on September 1, 2006

TITLE: Google Asks SEC for Exemption from Trading Rule
REPORTER: Tony Cooke
DATE: Aug 25, 2006
PAGE: A2
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115646222596645014.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
TOPICS: Accounting, Cash Flow, Financial Statement Analysis, Investments, Securities and Exchange Commission

SUMMARY: "Under the Investment Company Act of 1940, a company with more than 40% of its assets in certain types of securities is subject to different disclosure and operating rules." Google has had to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to exempt it from these regulations--typically applicable to a mutual fund--because the company is holding $4 billion in cash and $5.8 billion in marketable securities out of a total of $14.4 billion in assets. The company apparently is holding these liquid assets because it wants to diversify its investment strategy. The related article describes Google's most recent public offering. Questions relate to the use of financial statement ratios; the use of the statement of cash flows; and to definitions of the current assets cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities.

QUESTIONS:
1.) Define the terms marketable securities and investments and comment on the difference between them.

2.) Define the term "cash equivalents" and compare it to cash. Cite the authoritative financial accounting standard which allows for presentation of "cash equivalents." (Hint: look in the literature in the area of the statement of cash flows.)

3.) Access Google's most recently filed quarterly financial statements at the following web link, http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1288776/000119312506167945/d10q.htm

or by linking through the WSJ on-line article, clicking on Google on the right hand-side of the page, on SEC filings on the left hand side of the page, then searching for Form 10-Q under the SEC filings. Find the footnote entitled Cash, Cash Equivalents, and marketable equity securities. How does Google's management decide between categorizing assets as cash equivalents or marketable securities? Is Google's classification consistent with authoritative literature?

4.) How does Google account for realized and unrealized gains and losses on marketable securities? Cite the authoritative financial reporting standard for this treatment and describe how the disclosures in the Google footnote are based on the requirements of this standard.

5.) Google may be viewed as similar to a mutual fund by one measure cited in the article. How does this measure demonstrate use of financial statement analysis for purposes of enacting regulation in financial markets?

6.) Does Google have any other investments besides marketable securities? What is it (are they)? How does this investment relate to their strategy for use of excess cash described in the company's explanation to the SEC?

7.) Refer to the related article. How do you think Google amassed the cash and short-term investments that comprise so much of their balance sheet?

8.) Again examine Google's 10-Q financial statement filing to find support for the answer you gave to the previous question. Describe the support that you find.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

--- RELATED ARTICLES ---
TITLE: Slice of Pi: New Google Mystery Centers on $4 Billion Share Sale
REPORTER: Kevin J. Delaney
PAGE: A1 ISSUE: Aug 19, 2005
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB112436235632816530.html?mod=djem_wrjie_ac 

TITLE: Google's Stock Sale Mystery Is Simply Solved: There Are Buyers
REPORTER: Alan Murray
PAGE: A2
ISSUE: Aug 24, 2005
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112484195945721307,00.html?mod=djem_wrjie_ac


From the Financial Rounds blog on September 12, 2006 --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/

What with getting up to speed on my new classes and the usual beginning of semester "big ball-o-crazy", I've been a bit pressed for time. So instead of posting at length, I thought I'd just put some links up to interesting stuff I've recently come across:
 
The AAO Weblog links to a great article on CFO.com titled "Is Spring-Loading Wrong? " It contains a phrase (at least to me)--“bullet-dodging.” This refers to the phenomenon where a firm delays the granting of options until after bad news has been revealed.

Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture refers to brokers of exotic mortgage as
"the new boiler rooms." In case you don't understand the reference, rent this movie.

Evangelical Outpost has their latest in their continuing Yak Shaving Razor series.

Vikas Bajaj from the
New York Times reports on this interesting (to me, at least) combination of facts: default rates on mortgages are rising, but they're more popular than ever with investors.

And finally, from the Wall Street Journal (online subscription required), Peter McKay reports on
recent insider trading indicators. He notes that the ratio of insider sales to insider purchases at large-cap companies is low by historical standards - a bullish indicator.

And that's the way it was on September 30, 2006 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
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu  

 

 

 

 

Hline.jpg (568 bytes)

 

 

 

 

Quotations and Tidbits Between September 1 and September 30, 2006

 

 

During the August 2000 Annual Meetings of the American Accounting Association, the President of the AAA that year was Professor Jan Williams from the University of Tennessee. The President of the AAA has discretion in choosing plenary session speakers. Generally these speakers are from academe in accountancy, the profession of accountancy, or some related field of business or government --- often dull stuff as you can imagine. Jan departed from tradition that year by inviting an inspirational speaker named Captain Gerald Coffee who had no connection to the academic world of accountancy. Captain Coffee is a retired U.S. Navy Pilot who was shot down over North Viet Nam and spent seven years plus nine days virtually in solitary, between beatings, in a  3'-by-6.5' cement accommodation inside what is cynically called the Hanoi Hilton ---
http://www.nationwidespeakers.com/speaker/343/captain-gerald-coffee/vietnam-pow-creating-and-maintaining-a-positive-attitude 

A free video (approximately 60 minutes) by Captain Coffee is available online at http://www.nationwidespeakers.com/video/343
This is the exact, and I mean really exact, presentation that we received in the Year 2000 plenary session arranged by Professor Williams.

I have just a few comments for those of you who decide to watch this one-hour video (downloading will require broadband):

  1. Even though Captain Coffee made a lot of money from his oft-repeated presentation before huge audiences, he's also making his presentation available free on the Internet.  His 1991 book soon went out of print, and I doubt that he made much money from his book (I could be wrong about this).
  2. The video gets better and better such that, if you begin it, please watch it to the end.
  3. Think of how long seven years plus nine days must be in a 3' by 6.5' cell that is miserably hot most of the time.
  4. Smile or chuckle or weep at the irony of having to listen repeatedly to propaganda blaring for seven years from a speaker high up the wall of your cell haranguing against the evils of capitalism and free enterprise knowing full well that Viet Nam, like China, is now promoting free enterprise and seeking more and more trade pacts with the United States.
  5. Listen to how Captain Coffee sometimes wrote poetry to restore his sense of humor
  6. Learn how prisoners developed tap codes and coughs to communicate through cement walls.
  7. Learn about the infinite strength of faith in one's self, friends, nation, and a god (of one's own choosing) to keep faith in living and hope that one day you will be returned to the joys of being alive, free, and having your "cup overflowing."
  8. Be thankful every day that you are free to speak your mind and choose how you want to live to the extent you are healthy and determined.
  9. Try not to let hate for your perceived enemy (probably terrorists these days) and fear consume your being and take away your joy in being alive. If your body is consumed with hate and fear your enemy has already been victorious over you.

* Book Title:  Beyond Survival: Reaffirming the Invincibility of the Human Spirit
* Author:  Gerald Coffee
* ISBN: 0425124428
* Pub. Date: February 1991
* Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
* Status: Probably only available in used copies these days. I bought a used copy from Amazon.

"The war that won't go away," by John Christensen, CNN Interactive --- http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/vietnam/story/America.at.25/

A U.S. Navy pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1966 -- his co-pilot was killed -- (Gerald) Coffee can appreciate these moments better than most. He spent seven years and nine days in Hoa Lo, the infamous North Vietnamese prison known as "the Hanoi Hilton," where he was beaten, tortured, interrogated and subjected to relentless communist indoctrination

Since his liberation in 1973, Coffee has written a book ("Beyond Survival: Reaffirming the Invincibility of the Human Spirit") and turned his private nightmare into a highly profitable business. In giving 50 to 60 motivational speeches a year for the past two decades, Coffee has mined a vein that shows no sign of giving out.

"I thought the gig would have a shelf life to it," Coffee said recently, "but there's a huge void in our knowledge about Vietnam, especially among the younger generation. There are so many unanswered questions."

. . .

"It was an end to the American century," says Peter Kuznick, an associate professor of history at American University, and himself an anti-war protester. "It was an end to the sense of American triumphalism, of American exceptionalism. We thought our culture was different, that we were altruistic and only interested in the welfare of mankind. Those delusions were pretty much eliminated for most people."

. . .

Coffee tells his audiences that the 10 years the U.S. spent in Vietnam halted the march of communism through Southeast Asia. 

But Mitchell K. Hall, associate professor of history at Central Michigan University, says historians agree that "it was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
In spite of the tragedy, carnage, death, and our seeming defeat in Viet Nam (defeat is a relative term now that Viet Nam is our trading partner), I'm glad that I have the freedom to disagree with Professor Hall. I think the tragedy of Viet Nam convinced China and the Soviet Union and the United States about the futility of winning the world with military worldwide takeovers using blazing armies and army occupation in every nation with no intent to allow people to freely govern themselves. And I do believe that we want, in spite of mistakes that got us there, our wounded butts out of Iraq as soon as we can leave without turning it over to Iran and engulfing the entire Middle East in sectarian war that might well ignite a devastating world holocaust. There's more than soaring fuel pricing at stake in Iraq at the moment!

I do not see good things happening if we cut and run in Iraq like we cut and run in Viet Nam. I honestly believe that the message (of military futility) of Viet Nam came across to opposing communist and capitalist factions of the world --- our head-bowed departure did not alter lessons already learned during that miserable war where we dropped more bombs than in all previous wars. Lessons learned do not extend to the secular ambitions of religious and cultural factions of the Middle East. Apart from Rumsfeld's jibberish about Neville Chamberlain and 1930s fascism in Europe, jibberish that does not apply to deeply divided 2006 secular factions in the Middle East, there's a looming problem of a power vacuum in Iraq that will fuel a colossal secular war across the entire Middle East if we simply let Iran have Iraq by cutting and running.

By taking out Saddam we created this power vacuum, and Iran is the only force powerful enough in that part of the world to take over Iraq if we cut and run. A power vacuum did not exist in Viet Nam when we departed; this is not the case in Iraq today where there will be a huge power vacuum to be filled by Iranian forces bent on taking over the entire Middle East. By knocking out Saddam we created this power vacuum. Now we have a responsibility to Muslin moderates throughout the Middle East to not abruptly turn Iraq over to Shiite fundamentalists who ignite Jihad extremism with each perceived victory over the west.




Tidbits on September 1, 2006
Bob Jensen

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/.


Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

 

Click here to search this Website 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/


Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )




Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Inside Cancer --- http://www.insidecancer.org/

Zwishhinspeichern (Guitar like never before) --- http://video.google.de/videoplay?docid=6007768965488299182
(Be patient this takes a while to load even with broadband.)

Propaganda Video Gallery --- http://www.propagandacritic.com/gallery/
This is behind the times on terrorism's frightful propaganda!

Gratuitous Pleasures --- http://www.gratuitouspleasures.com/

Punctuation Substitution (or how to be weird/rude with symbols) --- http://www.zefrank.com/punc/ 

Afternoon Delight (music with weird daytime lovemaking video) --- http://youtube.com/watch?v=YpQvszWfcSc

A free video (approximately 60 minutes) by Captain Coffee is available online at http://www.nationwidespeakers.com/video/343


Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

New from Jessie
In the Garden --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/inthegarden.htm
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on

Leadbelly's 'Old Man' and the Work Song Tradition --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5686572

Exploring the Soul of Raul Midon --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5730869

Music for the Morning After, and Beyond --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5698627

A Protest Anthem That Rocks and Stomps --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5705665

Ray LaMontagne, Back with 'Sun Turns Black' --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5704463

Ordinary Songs Become Memorable Events (if you liked Bob Dylan then you will probably like Karen Dalton) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5691531


Photographs and Art

New Trinity University Photographs:  August 30, 2006 message from Trey Dunn
Thought maybe if you were missing Trinity yet you could catch up on some good times! I have taken a bunch of pictures around campus and have them up if you are interested. Enjoy the mild summer there where you are! -Trey
http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/trinity.htm

Iran's Holocaust cartoon exhibition ---
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6332204D-7694-40B2-B134-06ADB6A47CD3.htm
Also see
http://www.israelnewsagency.com/iranholocaustcartoonsisraelseo48480207.html

North Korean First Grade Textbook --- http://www.dailynk.com/korean/read.php?num=27560&cataId=nk00500

Supersonic Jets --- http://blog.wired.com/supersonic/

Vatican Museums Online --- http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Musei.html

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa --- http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/Tepapa/

Boston African American Project --- http://www.bostonafricanamericana.org/ 

Mapping Medieval Townscapes: A Digital Atlas of the New Towns of Edward I --- Click Here

Kentuckiana Digital Library (focus is on Kentucky history and photographs) ---  http://kdl.kyvl.org/

Sharing images from Katrina’s ‘ground zero’ --- Click Here

Teen Photographers Take Aim at 'My New Orleans --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5730124

Dunnottar Castle (Scotland) --- http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/stonehaven/dunnottarcastle/

 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Bartleby's Great Books Online --- http://www.bartleby.com/titles/

The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) --- Click Here

Underwoods by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) --- Click Here

Short Stories --- http://www.short-stories.co.uk/

Classic Short Stories --- http://www.classicshorts.com/ 

All-Story Short Stories --- http://www.all-story.com/

Albert Einstein Quotations --- Click Here

The Experience of Technology in Literature and Art --- http://commhum.mccneb.edu/PHILOS/techlit.htm




A recent Harris Interactive poll of 1,002 adults in the United States found that 85 percent would trust their doctors to tell them the truth, up from 77 percent in 2002, the last time the survey was conducted. Accountants made the most significant gains in the ranks of professionals most trusted by the public, with 68 percent of the respondents saying they would trust their accountants, compared with 55 percent in 2002 . . . Stockbrokers, lawyers and actors ranked at the bottom of the list, with less than 30 percent of those questioned saying they would trust them to tell the truth.
Accounting Web --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102481
Jensen Comment
Keep in mind that most legislators are lawyers.

When it comes to flying, the fly reigns supreme. This two-winged insect’s sophisticated flying behavior enables it to make sharp turns, aim at targets and hover – traits which make the insect an ideal prototype for tiny micro air vehicles (MAVs). However, the same flying finesse also presents challenges for scientists trying to investigate, observe and understand these complex creatures in their natural environments. Now, scientists from the U.K. demonstrate that mathematical modeling may provide adequate complementary information for advances in MAV technology.
"Flies provide aerodynamic model for tiny flying vehicles," PhysOrg, August 28, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75969014.html

Cynic: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 1914) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrose_Bierce

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
Albert Einstein

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
Albert Einstein

Economists and other academics that study the movie industry say most marquee names in Hollywood are simply not worth the expense.
Eduardo Porter and Geraldine Fabrikant, "A Big Star May Not a Profitable Movie Make," The New York Times, August 28, 2006 --- Click Here

All the glory of the world lies in a grain of corn.
Jos Mart (1853-1895) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Mart%C3%AD
(They still claim this in Iowa where bigger ears are better.)

I'll give up my cell phone when you pry it from my cold dead hand!
Bumper Sticker

Sen. Hillary Clinton is prepared to be the first female president of the United States, according to a new FOX News poll.
Fox News, August 31, 2006 --- http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,211562,00.html
Jensen Comment
Then again Fox may just be being clever like a fox.




Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius--and a lot of courage--to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

This is how Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority government and a former newspaper editor, described the situation in the Gaza Strip in an article he published on Sunday on some Palestinian news Web sites. . . . "We're always afraid to talk about our mistakes," he [Ghazi Hamad] added. "We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. What is the relationship between the chaos, anarchy, lawlessness, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, family rivalries, transgression on public lands and unorganized traffic and the occupation? We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories--one that has limited our capability to think." . .
Khaled Abu Toameh, "'Gaza caught in anarchy and thuggery'," Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2006 --- Click Here


The WSJ's Opinion Journal on August 29, 2006 refers to the two Fox News forced "conversions to Islam" while kidnapped and then reminds us of al Qaeda and insurgency prisoners who supposedly have endured insults to their religion by U.S. interrogators.


Blogging Under The Radar
As War Raged, Lebanese and Israelis Found Common Ground

"I think it's the start of something. In a way, it's a revolution," said Mustapha Hamoui, the blogger behind Beirut Spring. "Communication is never bad. It's better to tell someone, 'I hate you.' Then you have to ask, 'Why do you hate?' Then you have to have a conversation." The Lebanese government forbids its citizens contact with Israelis. But keeping a lid on the Internet is a bit like trying to shovel sand with a sieve. And in the midst of war, scouring online for views from the other side has been one way for Lebanese and Israelis to alleviate the terrible sense of the impotence of standing by as their countries bled. Thousands of people, often posting in English, seem compelled to try to make some sense of the chaos -- or, through personal narratives, to help debunk stereotypes and misperceptions.
Delphine Schrank, "Blogging Under The Radar As War Raged, Lebanese and Israelis Found Common Ground," The Washington Post, August 28, 2006 --- Click Here


Bias in the News Media: Hizbollah's Counterfeit Hizdollas
Did the major news outlets hide the fact that much of the Hizbollah distribution money was counterfeit?

"Counterfeit News," by David Frum, Canadian National Post, August 26, 2006 --- Click Here

This scene and dozens more like it flashed around the planet. Only one thing was missing -- the thin wire security strip that runs from top to bottom of a genuine US$100 bill. The money Hezbollah was passing was counterfeit, as should have been evident to anybody who studied the photographs with due care.

Care was due because of Hezbollah's history of counterfeiting: In June, 2004, the U.S. Department of the Treasury publicly cited Hezbollah as one of the planet's leading forgers of U.S. currency.

But this knowledge was disregarded by the news organizations who queued up to publicize Hezbollah's pseudo-philanthropy. The passing of counterfeit bills was detected not by the reporters and photographers on the spot, but by bloggers thousands of miles away: SnappedShots.com, MyPetJawa and Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs. These sites magnified photographs and showed them to currency experts and detected irregularity after irregularity in the bills. (Links to all the sites mentioned here can be found at frum.nationalreview.com )

. . .

"A Lebanese man counts U.S dollar bills received from Hizbollah members in a school in Bourj el-Barajneh, a southern suburb of Beirut, August 19, 2006. Hizbollah handed out bundles of cash on Friday to people whose homes were wrecked by Israeli bombing, consolidating the Iranian-backed group's support among Lebanon's Shiites and embarrassing the Beirut government. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (LEBANON)"

This scene and dozens more like it flashed around the planet. Only one thing was missing -- the thin wire security strip that runs from top to bottom of a genuine US$100 bill. The money Hezbollah was passing was counterfeit, as should have been evident to anybody who studied the photographs with due care.

Care was due because of Hezbollah's history of counterfeiting: In June, 2004, the U.S. Department of the Treasury publicly cited Hezbollah as one of the planet's leading forgers of U.S. currency.

But this knowledge was disregarded by the news organizations who queued up to publicize Hezbollah's pseudo-philanthropy. The passing of counterfeit bills was detected not by the reporters and photographers on the spot, but by bloggers thousands of miles away: SnappedShots.com, MyPetJawa and Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs. These sites magnified photographs and showed them to currency experts and detected irregularity after irregularity in the bills. (Links to all the sites mentioned here can be found at www.frum.nationalreview.com  )

How quickly we forget
The French defence minister would repeat it like a chant. It was 1995. In Srebrenica, a United Nations so-called safe haven in Bosnia, 8,000 men had been slaughtered by Bosnian Serbs. Gorazde was another enclave that the UN had promised to defend. But the French and British forces in the region were many miles away. As participants in a UN humanitarian mission they were lightly armed. They had lorries, not tanks, and no aircraft. So the idea of pushing through to Gorazde was fanciful. It had been a French general, Philippe Morillon, who as head of the UN forces in the former Yugoslavia had first pledged to protect Srebrenica. He did not have the resources to keep that promise and Dutch UN forces in the city did nothing to prevent the massacre. We (the other Nato defence ministers) found a word to describe the French habit of making impressive statements with no means to put them into effect. We called it “grandstanding”.
Michael Portillo, "France about-turns into a bigger military mess," London Times, August 27, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-2330259,00.html

After shaping the ceasefire resolution and proposed stabilization force on the basis of its commitment to lead with several thousand troops, France appeared suddenly to reverse course, announcing that it would send only a token force. The outcry — across France, Europe, and the world — seemed to rush Chirac into reversing himself again . . .
Mario Loyola, "Too Clever for Their Own Good:  How Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan tricked themselves into helping Israel," National Review, August 30, 2006 --- Click Here


The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Hadassa Ben-Itto, a former Israeli judge, honorary president and past president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. She is the author of the book The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, now published in nine languages . . .

For a whole century this dangerous document was used not only to blame Jews but to actually incite to murdering them, first by the Russians, in the pogroms that raged in Russia at the beginning of the century, then by the Nazis who openly used the Protocols as a central theme in their propaganda and as a valid reason to stop the Jews from dominating the world by exterminating them, and now the same libel is spread not only by Moslem fundamentalists, not only by terrorist groups like the Hamas, the Hizbolla, and the president of Iran, but even by mainstream media in moderate Moslem and Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian authority.
Jamie Glazov, "The Lie That Wouldn't Die," FrontPage Magazine, August 28, 2006 --- http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=24085

 


We will have peace with the Arabs when they will love their children more than they hate us.
Golda Meir

In March 2002, Israeli Defense Forces discovered a bomb in a Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance near Jerusalem. The bomb, packed in a suicide belt, was hidden under a gurney carrying a Palestinian child.
Michelle Malkin, "No more ambulances for terror," Jewish World Review, August 30, 2006 ---
http://jewishworldreview.com/michelle/malkin083006.php3

Great spirits have always faced violent protest from mediocre minds.


Albert Einstein
Helpers for Learning How to Kill a Westerner/Crusader ---
http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD126306

 

In its August 18, 2006 edition, the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yusuf featured an investigative article by Mirfat Al-Hakim titled "Hizbullah's Children's Militias." The article reveals that Hizbullah has recruited over 2,000 children aged 10-15 to serve in armed militias, and that the Hizbullah-affiliated Mahdi Scouts youth organization is training them to become martyrs . . . Hizbullah has customarily recruited youths and children and trained them to fight from a very early age. These are children barely 10 years old, who wear camouflage uniforms, cover their faces with black [camouflage] paint, swear to wage jihad, and join the Mahdi Scouts [youth organization]... "The children are selected by Hizbullah recruitment [officers] based on one criterion only: They must be willing to become martyrs."According to the article, Na'im Qasim, deputy to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, said in an interview on Radio Canada: "A nation with child-martyrs will be victorious, no matter what difficulties lie in its path. Israel...
Memri, September 1, 2006 --- http://memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD127606 

Where are the Muslim mothers for peace?
There was, for me, an additionally odd, circular sense of disbelief about this particular journey. Last summer, a few days after the terrorists’ July bombings in London, I was interviewing the fatwa-reprieved Salman Rushdie in New York. A year later, on the very day of the Heathrow drama, I was interviewing his great mate Martin Amis, also in New York, albeit in a secluded enclave in the Hamptons. On both occasions, current events inevitably featured in our discussions. If you believe, as I do, that literature can help to make sense of the life we are living, then the response of these guys should certainly command some attention . . . And where are the voices of the ordinary mothers and daughters and aunts from the Muslim community saying, “Enough. No more violence. No more deaths”, as did all those courageous women who helped to bring peace to Ireland? And if they, our Muslim sisters, are mute slaves to — or, worse, themselves in thrall to — the siren call of the death-wish culture, is there any hope for the rest of us?
Ginny Dougary, "Where are the Muslim mothers for peace?" London Times, August 26, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1072-2326888,00.html 

Where are the Anti-Bush mothers for peace?
Answer:  Crawford, Texas --- http://www.gsfp.org/article.php?list=type&type=21 

Al-Qaida sending terror cell seedlings across the Rio Grande
Al-Qaida reportedly integrating into Mexican society Border sheriff says Middle Easterners paying coyotes to smuggle them into U.S.
Fox News, August 25, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
The term "coyotes" in this context refers to criminals who, for a fee, help smuggle illegal immigrants across the border.

Research in the Homeland Security Program supports the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies charged with preventing and mitigating the effects of terrorist activity within U.S. borders. Projects in this program will include critical infrastructure protection, emergency management, terrorism risk management, border control (particularly ports), first responders and preparedness, domestic threat assessments, domestic intelligence, and manpower and training.
RAND:  Homeland Security --- http://www.rand.org/ise/security/


You cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time.
Albert Einstein

It is appallingly obvious that our technology exceeds our humanity.
Albert Einstein

Game of Nuclear Chicken Diplomacy:  Then and Now
Just hours after Iran opened a new plant capable of making plutonium “for peaceful purposes”, U.S. President George Bush assured his Iranian counterpart that any B-2 bombers that appear over Tehran in the near future would also serve peaceful purposes. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon on the new heavy-water nuclear plant Saturday as part of a month-long Iranian tribute to the effectiveness of the United Nations. Mr. Bush hailed Iran’s “transparent diplomacy” and said, “I called President Ahmadinejad today to congratulate him, and I told him that if he happens to notice one of them Stealth bombers going over...
Scott Ott, "Bush: B-2 Flights Over Tehran for ‘Peaceful Purposes’," ScrappleFace, August 25, 2006 --- http://www.scrappleface.com/
Jensen Comment
I recall a game of chicken that was played by macho teens in the 1950s. Two speeding cars bore down on each other aimed at a head-on collision to see which driver "turned chicken" by swerving away at the last instant.

The last game of nuclear chicken was played out to the very brink of holocaust in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Missile_Crisis
Fortunately none of the key players (John Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro) was a religious fanatic in search of martyrdom and/or heavenly virgins.  Nikita Khrushchev eventually swerved to avoid thermonuclear collision. Earlier in 1961 President Kennedy had really screwed up with the Bay of Pigs Invasion, but that was not a game of nuclear chicken --- just chicken --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs

Iran has commenced a new game of nuclear chicken even if its latest submarine missile photographs were probably propaganda photographs of some older Chinese missile tests.


The president of Iran has recently been trying to suck up to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He sent her a letter in which he asks for support and writes that both the Germans and the Iranians have been screwed over by the Jews and the west.
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sends letter to German Chancellor Merkel," SammyNews, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1691950/posts

Question
Where did Israel purchase two of its new frightening submarines in this game of nuclear chicken?

Hint: It was not the United States

With the purchase of two more German-made Dolphin submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads, military experts say Israel is sending a clear message to Iran that it can strike back if attacked by nuclear weapons. The purchases come at a time when Iran is refusing to bow to growing Western demands to halt its nuclear program, and after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." CountryWatch: Israel The new submarines, built at a cost of $1.3 billion with Germany footing one-third of the bill, have diesel-electric propulsion systems that allow them...
"Israel Adds 2 Nuke-Capable Submarines," Fox News, August 24, 2006 --- http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,210373,00.html

Iran is said to have successfully tested an upgraded, indegenious, guided surface-to-sea missile, media reports confirmed on Saturday The missile was tested at the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman during the 'Blow of Zolfaqar' military exercises which began last Saturday.
"Iran tests upgraded surface-to-sea missile," India Defence, August 26, 2006 --- http://www.india-defence.com/reports/2408


Question
What nation has the fourth largest air force in the world?

$18B bolstering just a startAir Force head: 75 aircraft on order: Planes in service now will need replacing soonChris Wattie National Post Friday, August 25, 2006 The head of the Canadian air force says that $18-billion and 75 new aircraft are only a start at rebuilding an air force that was at one time the fourth largest in the world. Lieutenant-General Steve Lucas told the National Post yesterday the purchases of new heavy transport planes, fleets of new helicopters and replacements for the military's Hercules cargo planes are a good beginning, but more will soon be needed.
"$18B bolstering just a start," National Post, August 25, 2006 --- Click Here


Flashback from The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 1990
Speculation about a possible diplomatic resolution to the Mideast crisis sent stock prices soaring in the biggest rally this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 78.71, or 3.11%, to 2611.63. Contributing to the gain was a $4 drop in the price of crude oil to $26.91 a barrel.


America grows weary of black leader ingratitude for the good things we do from the heart!
Perhaps most sad is that in four hours Lee has nothing positive to say about America and Americans. No mention is made of the $700 million from private citizens and churches that were committed in the first few days of the tragedy. No mention is made of the thousands of homes across the nation that welcomed evacuees. No mention is made of the tens of thousands who have successfully rebuilt their lives. (No mention is made of the thousands of fire fighters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, cement workers, and others who spent their own money to go down to Louisiana and Mississippi to help clear debris and rebuild.)
"Katrina, lies and videotape," by Star Parker, WorldNetDaily, August 26, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51687

Spike Lee took his cameras and crew to New Orleans to film a documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The four-hour production, which aired on HBO, is, unfortunately, about as destructive as was the disaster it depicts.

At a time when we need light and understanding, Lee has delivered darkness, anger and hatred. Those who will be hurt the most by the distorted and untruthful picture that Lee has concocted are the poor blacks he purports to want to help.

. . .

Central to the Katrina story is the failure of the levees. Indeed, Lee's film is called "When the Levees Broke."

But who is responsible for ignoring the warnings over the years that the levees protecting New Orleans were inadequate? Bush? Of course not.

It was Louisiana's congressional delegation that was responsible to ensure that their constituents' interests were being represented and that funds were being appropriated to fix sub-standard levees. But not a single Louisiana senator or congressman is ever mentioned or appears in "When the Levees Broke."

William Jefferson, New Orleans' congressman for the last 16 years, has been under FBI investigation over the last year under bribery charges. However, Jefferson is a Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. To shine a light on his possible, and likely, neglect of representing his constituents' interests would have distracted from the single message that Bush was the evil genius behind this tragedy.

Of course, no mention is made of Jefferson's trip home, when he commandeered a National Guard truck in the middle of rescue efforts to take him to his house to retrieve personal property.

. . .

I have written previously of the love of affair of the black left, particularly the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with Third World dictators. There is virtually no freedom of the press and speech in Venezuela. If Lee were a citizen of Venezuela and made a similar film attacking Chavez, he would disappear forever after the first showing.

Perhaps most sad is that in four hours Lee has nothing positive to say about America and Americans. No mention is made of the $700 million from private citizens and churches that were committed in the first few days of the tragedy. No mention is made of the thousands of homes across the nation that welcomed evacuees. No mention is made of the tens of thousands who have successfully rebuilt their lives.

Spike Lee clearly has little affection for the country that gives him free expression and has made him wealthy. He has produced a self-indulgent, deceitful and exploitive film about a tragedy. His message will give poor blacks more reasons to feel powerless, to feel lost, to feel that others bear responsibility for their lives, to hate, and to stay poor.

Continued in article

The extreme left does seem to have abandoned any idea of creating 
a socialist utopia; today it is devoted solely to uncreative destruction
.
Opinion Journal, February 11, 2005
T
he extreme left has a different, but no less ungrateful, take in its review of Spike Lee's Katrina movie. Lee has been criticized for reducing "Katrina to a black problem," as Nicholas Kulish wrote in the New York Times. But Richard Kim defends this as justified and is critical mainly that Spike Lee did not go far enough in trying to destroy business enterprise. What Kim does not answer below, like most critics of business enterprise, is how socialism with big government would have done so much better. It's easy to criticize, but it's far more difficult to find a improved solutions.
"Doing the Right Thing," by Richard Kim, The Nation, August 25, 2006 ---
http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?pid=116164

Where Lee falters is not in his multi-faceted account of race and class, but in his examination of the politics and economics that set in play this unnatural disaster and continue to mangle New Orleans' reconstruction. The usual suspects are, of course, deliciously skewered: George Bush's sinister disinterest, Michael Brown's incompetence (he gets roasted by Soledad O'Brien who asks how her 23-year-old research assistant can have better intelligence than FEMA), Chertoff, Cheney, Condi and her Blahniks, Barbara Bush (the "President Momma" as Al Sharpton puts it), the insurance industry, the Army Corps of Engineers. But others, like Nagin who has consistently sided with business and property interests in the reconstruction, are largely absolved or made into heroes. With the exception of a brief query into Louisiana's oil and gas industry, the film seems to suggest that Hurricane Katrina happened because bad people made bad decisions, rather than because of the systematic gutting of urban infrastructure and the heartless pursuit of neoliberal economics.

Katrina spending is five times larger than past disasters
New Orleans' plight is not the result of federal underspending. Uncle Sam has spent some five times more on Katrina relief than any other natural disaster in the past 50 years. Both parties in Congress and the White House opted for the status quo by relying on federal bureaucracies to oversee the rebuilding effort. If Uncle Sam were deliberately trying to waste these funds, it is hard to imagine a better way than to funnel the money through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Both HUD and the SBA have been on the chopping block back to the early Reagan years . . . For all the finger-pointing this week, Congress hasn't spent much more than a dime to clear away the debris of corruption, patronage, welfare dependency, high taxes and racial division of decimated neighborhoods. What is still lacking in the life of New Orleans is the vital architecture of local capitalism.
"The Tragedy of New Orleans:  Katrina spending is five times larger than past disasters," The Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008860

Spike Lee Fails to Fault Louisiana Political Corruption Where Katrina's Worst Fault Lies,
Before and After the Storm


Sneaky Intelligent Design Republicans?
I am writing to express concern about the exclusion of "evolutionary biology," a core component of the biological sciences, from the eligibility rules for the new federal "National Smart Grant" program. According to a recent account in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the list of college majors for which students may be eligible to receive the Smart Grants has only a blank line where the listing for evolutionary biology would be expected to appear.
Democratic Senator Henry A. Waxman in an August 24, 2006 letter to the Secretary of the Department of Education --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1690283/posts

After all the negative media publicity, evolutionary biology mysteriously reappeared on the grant list ---
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19125673.800-evolutionary-biology-reappears-on-federal-grant-list.html


Politics purportedly is not a bell-shaped curve that peaks in the center
"The Vitiated Center:  The successful failures of right and left intellectuals," by Brian Doherty, Reason Magazine, August/September 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/0608/cr.bd.the.shtml


Welfare Reform That Costs More Today for, Gulp, Welfare

"The Amazing Colossal Poorhouse:  Ten years after welfare reform, the welfare state is even larger than before," by Jesse Walker, Reason Magazine, August 22, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/links/links082206.shtml

People on the rolls.
If you focus narrowly on the program known until '96 as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and known since then as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, you'll get the impression that welfare is disappearing. In a time when the country's population was growing, the number of families receiving AFDC/TANF subsidies dropped from 4.6 million a decade ago to under 2 million today. There were several reasons for this, including a booming economy in the late '90s, but the chief factor was welfare reform, which established new time limits and work requirements for the program's clients.

But if you look across the spectrum of federal social programs, a more ambiguous picture emerges. As Douglas Besherov of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out last week in The New York Times, some of the families booted from TANF simply move to different sources of assistance: "food stamps (an average of more than $2,500), the Women, Infants and Children program (about $1,800 for infants and new mothers), Supplemental Security Income (an average of over $6,500), or housing aid (an average of $6,000). Their children also qualify for Medicaid. In reality, these families are still on welfare because they are still receiving benefits and not working—call it 'welfare lite.'" It's not clear what makes this arrangement "lite," given that all five forms of aid have seen their budgets increase since Bush took office.

In March, USA Today examined 25 programs, from Medicaid to the Earned Income Tax Credit. In nearly all of them, enrollment grew. Congress expanded eligibility for several, usually with the proviso that the recipients also work. But for the most part, this growth was a matter of the existing programs stretching to take on more clients as they fell below the poverty line. That doesn't necessarily constitute an increase in the number of people getting benefits: USA Today calculated that overall enrollment increased 17 percent from 2000 to 2005—"the biggest five-year increase in 40 years"—but that double-counts people who joined more than one program. But it certainly isn't the unambiguous contraction you see if you look at TANF alone.

Lest we forget, incarceration expanded considerably during this period as well. It is not true, as some leftists have suggested, that the people who left the welfare rolls simply moved en masse to jail. But there is an overlap; and, at any rate, any measurement of the number of Americans who depend on the government for sustenance should account for the 2,186,230 people incarcerated in the country's prisons and jails—up from 1,630,940 in 1996.

Money spent.
Again, a narrow focus on TANF gives the impression that welfare outlays are down. Spending on that one program dropped severely in Clinton's second term, and has remained roughly flat under his successor. But overall spending on transfer payments has increased radically, particularly under Bush. That shouldn't be surprising, given that government spending overall has increased radically under Bush. The tricky issue—particularly for those of us who are inclined to regard any transfer payment as welfare, whether the recipient is a single mom or a multinational corporation—is discerning which spending does not fall into the welfare category.

I'm not going to go through every item in the budget. I'll just note that even by the narrowest definition of welfare spending—programs aimed at fighting poverty—the figure has gone up 39 percent during the Bush presidency. There isn't any ambiguity here. The government is spending more money on welfare—and with the coming explosion in entitlements, you can expect it to spend even more in the future.

Continued in article

From the Scout Report on August 25, 2006

Policy experts, politicians, and others debate successes and failures of welfare reform 10 years of welfare reform assessed http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06234/715333-85.stm

On and off the rolls, women work to get ahead
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/15329233.htm

NPR: Legislator Offers First-Person View of Welfare [Real Player]
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5689095

In Focus: Ten Years of Welfare Reform [pdf] http://www.brookings.edu/comm/infocus/welfare.htm

NPR: Where the Welfare Law Failed Fathers
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5671231

Fact Sheet: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/prwora96.htm

Some sixty years after its introduction during the New Deal era, the essence of social welfare in the United States was dramatically transformed with the passage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Despite its cumbersome name, the Act effectively placed a five- year time limit on welfare assistance, and also required a significant commitment on the part of recipients to find work. As various groups and individuals reflected on the past ten years, some were quick to note that the number of people on welfare has dropped 60 percent. Others have been more sanguine, noting that these reforms continue to inadequately address deeper problems, particularly those of single mothers with few job qualifications or education. Some critics continue to suggest that these problems are related to structural changes in the economy, and others continue to blame the so-called "culture of poverty". The debates over what to do in order to solve the problems of working families continues to be intense, with some groups pushing to encourage marriage as a solution, and others seeking to provide more money for child care and higher minimum wages. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a piece from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s own Steve Levin that takes a closer look at the effects of welfare reform on several local residents. The second link leads to a similar piece which looks at women’s experience with the welfare system in and around Kansas City. The third link leads to a provocative piece from National Public Radio which features Montana legislator Mary Caferro talking about her own first- hand experience as a welfare recipient. Moving right along, visitors will find a diverse set of scholarly writings on welfare reform at the fourth site, offered courtesy of The Brookings Institution. The fifth link offers commentary by two scholars (Ron Haskins and Ronald Mincy) about how public policy should be adjusted over the next decade to meet the needs of poor families. Finally, the last link leads to a basic fact sheet on The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.
 


 "Schwarzenegger Gives Up," by Shikha Dalmia, The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2006; Page A13 --- Click Here

The real issue, however, is what this bond measure will do to California. Few doubt the need for California to invest in its crumbling infrastructure. But this is an infrastructure bond in name only. The four big-ticket items in the bond -- which is two times bigger than the biggest bond in the state's history -- are $2.6 billion for housing, $10.4 billion for K-12 schools and universities, $3.1 billion for levee repairs and $19.2 billion for transportation.

The housing bond is simply welfare masquerading as a capital project. A bulk of its money won't fund general infrastructure -- an acceptable use of general-obligation bonds like these -- but such things as cheap multifamily dwellings for low-income families, and down-payment assistance for first-time home buyers.

The education bond is equally misguided, given that 40% of the state's $94 billion general-fund revenues are already constitutionally earmarked for education. Moreover, California voters approved a total of $25 billion for school-construction bonds in 2002 and 2004 to reduce overcrowding. If there is still not enough money for new schools, it is not because of lack of state spending, but abject waste by individual districts. If anything, this handout will encourage more waste by undercutting districts' need to explore the kind of public-private partnership responsible for Inderkum High School in Sacramento being completed a month early and $2.5 million under budget. In this case, a private developer built the school and district authorities used their public dollars to lease the facility from him.

In contrast to schools, California has genuinely underinvested in its levees and transportation. Yet it is unclear that general-obligation bonds that mortgage the wallets of all future taxpayers are the best remedy. To the extent that levee repair, for instance, would benefit mostly those living in the flood plains, at least part of the cost ought to be recovered through special assessments on them.

California has also been routinely raiding the transportation dollars it raises from gas taxes for other general fund needs -- a fact obvious to anyone who has ever battled traffic on the San Diego Freeway. Yet only about half of this bond's revenues are slated for actual road building. Instead, $4 billion is going to mass transit even though mass transit's share of commuters, never large, has dropped by 9% since 2000.

Even after the proposed $19 billion transportation bond and the $384 billion in planned transportation spending by the state's biggest three regions (Los Angeles, the Bay Area and San Diego), California's traffic congestion will actually be worse in 2030 than it is today because the state is choosing pork and pet transit projects instead of prioritizing and adding much-needed highway capacity.

There are better ways of generating steady revenues to fund transportation and other needed infrastructure that don't involve giving Sacramento's politicians a ready excuse to dip into the pockets of future taxpayers. Among them, notes Donna Arduin, Mr. Schwarzenegger's former finance director, are things like privately built toll roads and congestion pricing. "These were things that were recommended to him back when he first took office," she says.

It is disheartening that the governor -- who claims to have been inspired to enter political life by the small-government ideas of Milton Friedman and Adam Smith -- has ignored these measures, especially now when government spending in California is touching the stratosphere. Indeed, despite the fact that California's economy has rebounded after the dot-com bust, pouring $7 billion more than expected into the state's coffers this year, the state's 2006-07 budget still shows a deficit of $7 billion. California has the dubious distinction of being one of only eight states showing deficits instead of surpluses right now.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Governor Schwarzenegger is now following the George Bush Mortgage-the-Future playbook of balancing the books with billions upon billions of  new debt rather than the Ronald Regan playbook of fiscal responsibility ink in the veto pen. The problem is that California, unlike the Feds, cannot print more money when needed to pay back debt with inflated dollars.

Finland Did Not Cave In to Bureaucracy and Education Unions
Taking Finland as an example, the following key lessons can be drawn. Education, skills and lifelong learning must be at the center of an innovative economy. Far from being a consistent top performer -- in the mid-1980s, secondary school students in Finland performed only slightly above the OECD average in science tests -- the country pursued comprehensive reforms in spite of a deep recession in the 1990s. Finland's policy makers were determined to rid their schools of the bureaucratic inertia and myriad of responsibilities that hobble other European school systems to this day. Through decentralization and holding teachers and schools accountable for their students' performance -- unthinkable in much of the rest of Europe -- the reforms instilled in educators a sense of professional pride and unprecedented empowerment. Today, Finland is the top performer in the OECD's high-school study. A second area where Finland is leading by example is in shifting its resources toward future-oriented projects. In 2004, Finland spent 3.41% of its GDP on R&D. Even more important, industry contributed the lion's share, 2.41%. Much of Europe, on the other hand, is trying (unsuccessfully) to reach the 3% target through more public spending. Finland realized that attracting private-sector investment is not only more productive but also more likely to yield commercially viable innovative products.

Ann Mettler, "Innovation, Innovation, Innovation," The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2006 --- Click Here

Public school teachers in Detroit voted yesterday to reject a contract offer and to not report for their first day of work today. School is scheduled to start Sept. 5 for the 129,000 students in the Detroit Public Schools.
"Detroit Teachers Vote to Not Report to Work," The New York Times, August 28, 2006 --- Click Here


College Leaders in Michigan Push Hard to Defeat Vote to Bar Affirmative Action in Colleges
A federal judge on Tuesday refused to block a Michigan referendum this fall to bar affirmative action by public colleges and universities and other state agencies, The Detroit Free Press reported. The judge was harshly critical of the initiative, and said he believed that many people who signed petitions to place the measure on the ballot had been misled. But the judge said he lacked the authority to remove the measure from the ballot. College leaders are pushing hard to defeat the measure.
Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/30/qt

Here's What Happened in Washington State
Minority enrollments have lagged in Washington State, relative to the state’s population for the last eight years — ever since the state’s voters barred the use of affirmative action in public higher education, the
Associated Press reported.
Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/30/qt

Bob Jensen's threads on both affirmative action for faculty hiring/pay and affirmative action on student admissions/aid are available in separate categories at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


As much as I criticize the biased news media, for me the newspaper industry's financial woes are saddening
“Our investment in newspaper stocks continues to cause concern for some clients,” Mr. Sherman wrote in a letter to clients earlier this summer. “Given the disappointing returns thus far, we understand their consternation. In some regards, it would be easier for us to abandon the investment theme than to continue to argue the point.” While Mr. Sherman’s firm has been shedding some of its newspaper stocks, largely at the direction of dissatisfied clients, about 10 percent of his portfolio remains invested in newspapers. (As of June 30 his firm owned 13 percent of the common stock of The New York Times Company.) Despite the industry’s woes, some in the newspaper industry have sharply criticized Mr. Ridder for not fighting harder to save his company. He had been acquiescing to Wall Street for years, they say, and his sale of the company was only the final, most striking, example.
Katherine Q. Seelye, "What-Ifs of a Media Eclipse," The New York Times, August 27, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Television news reporters and correspondents are more visible, but it's an army of newspaper reporters worldwide that are truly bringing us the daily news. I don't think anybody is predicting an abrupt shutdown of the presses. But draconian cost cutting will greatly degrade newsgathering.. Much of the problem arises from the shifting of advertising, including classified advertising, from local newspapers to the Internet in such outlets as CraigsList, eBay, Google, Yahoo, etc. Newspapers moved to the Internet, but competition for advertising revenue is intense relative to the virtual monopoly powers newspapers enjoyed at one time in their communities.


Academic Freedom at the Dawn of a New Century:
How Terrorism, Governments, and Culture Wars Impact Free Speech

Q: In the essays in the book, which issues raised were the most surprising to you? Which were of the greatest concern?

A: I think what surprised me the most was how grave the situation is regarding academic freedom in many countries around the world. I certainly knew that there were problems in other countries, but until you actually read about all of the examples of people being beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for their views, I don’t think you quite understand how dire the situation is.
Matthew J. Streb in an interview with Scott Jaschik, "New Analysis of Academic Freedom," Inside Higher Ed, August 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/28/streb

The essays in a new book, Academic Freedom at the Dawn of a New Century: How Terrorism, Governments, and Culture Wars Impact Free Speech (Stanford University Press), explore attacks and defenses of professors in countries all over the world. The editors (who also contribute to the volume) are Evan Gerstmann, chair of political science at Loyola Marymount University, and Matthew J. Streb, assistant professor of political science at Northern Illinois University. Streb responded to questions via e-mail on the themes of the book.

And now a few words about academic freedom from New Hampshire's Democratic Governor
and Former Dean of the Harvard Business School, John Lynch

"Although academic freedom is important," the governor said, "if the UNH professor is promoting that view, it reflects a reckless disregard for the true facts and raises questions as to why such a professor would be teaching at the university in the first place." Woodward is a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, an organization that maintains the Bush administration permitted the terrorist attacks to occur, and may even have planned them, so as to rally the public around its policies.
Scott Brooks, "Lynch calls teacher's theories crazy as UNH stands behind 9/11 prof," Union Leader, August 29, 2006 ---
Click Here

The University of New Hampshire is refusing to fire a tenured professor whose views on 9/11 have led many politicians in the state to demand his dismissal. William Woodward, a professor of psychology, is among those academics who believe that U.S. leaders have lied about what they know about 9/11, and were involved in a conspiracy that led to the massive deaths on that day, setting the stage for the war with Iraq. The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, reported on Woodward’s views on Sunday, and quoted him (accurately, he says) saying that he includes his views in some class sessions.
Scott Jaschik, "Another Scholar Under Fire for 9/11 Views," Inside Higher Ed, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/29/woodward

"Stretching the Definition of Academic Freedom," by John Friedl, Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/08/31/friedl

Academic freedom is under attack on college campuses across the country. The “Academic Bill of Rights,” authored by David Horowitz, seems to be motivated by a concern that some professors are turning their classrooms into personal forums in which they force-feed their students a liberal political dogma unrelated to the subject matter of the course.

Horowitz’s attempt to involve legislatures in addressing what is clearly an academic issue is not only a dangerous precedent, but unnecessary as well. It is dangerous because it threatens the freedom of inquiry and critical thinking that we strive to achieve through open discussion of controversial issues. And it is unnecessary because we have in place institutional guidelines and professional standards that, when properly applied, provide balance without destroying the spontaneity and intellectual stimulation that is currently found in our classrooms.

The real problem that needs to be addressed is the growing gap in the understanding of the concept of academic freedom shared — or more often not shared — by faculty and administrators. Matters of institutional policy proposed by academic administrators are increasingly — and frequently without justification — condemned by professors as infringements on their rights.

A few examples provide an enlightening illustration. These examples involve what are mistakenly seen as academic freedom issues, providing a sense of how broadly many faculty interpret the concept and the rights it creates.

My current university for many years has provided an e-mail list service open to all faculty and staff for virtually any purpose: to post notices, advertise items for sale, express opinions on any topic, and to disseminate official university announcements. As the volume of garage sale ads grew and the expression of opinions became increasingly vitriolic, many faculty and staff members elected to filter out messages from the list service, with the result that they did not receive official announcements.

As a solution to this problem, university administrators created a second list service limited to official announcements, in which all employees would participate without the option of unsubscribing. The original open list remained available to all who chose to participate. In response to this action, one faculty member sent a message to the entire university (on the pre-existing list service) denouncing the change as a violation of academic freedom and First Amendment rights, because the “official” announcements would first be screened by the University Relations Office before being posted.

A second example: At my former university, in response to concerns over a high rate of attrition between the freshman and sophomore year, the deans proposed a policy whereby each instructor in a lower division course would be required to provide students with some type of graded or appropriately evaluated work product by the end of the sixth week of a 15-week semester. The stated purpose of the policy was to identify students at risk early enough to help them bring their grades up to a C or better. (The original proposal also included the suggestion that faculty members work with students to develop a plan to improve their performance, but that was quickly taken off the table when faculty complained of an increase in their workload without additional compensation.)

When this proposal was discussed among the faculty, several complained that the scheduling of exams was a faculty prerogative protected by academic freedom, and that any attempt by university administrators to mandate early feedback to students was an infringement upon that right. Those who spoke out did not object to the concept of early feedback — they just didn’t want to be told they had to do it.

Another example: At the same institution, in preparation for its decennial review by the regional accrediting body, the vice president for academic affairs began to assemble the mountains of documents required for that review, including a syllabus for every course offered. The accrediting organization guidelines list 11 items recommended for inclusion in every course syllabus, and the vice president duly notified the faculty, through the deans and department chairs, of this recommendation.

The response of a surprising number of the faculty members was to argue that what goes into their syllabus is a matter of academic freedom, not subject to the mandate of the vice president or the accreditor. Again, their complaints did not seem to be directed at the suggested content, but rather they were opposed to being told what they must put in their syllabi.

The concept of academic freedom is often viewed as an extension of the rights granted under the First Amendment, applicable within the limited context of the educational system. One of the earliest definitions of academic freedom is found in the AAUP’s 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure. The discussion is framed in terms of the freedom of the individual faculty member to pursue his or her research and teaching interests without interference from “outsiders,” whether they be members of the institution’s governing body or the public at large.

As an indication of how far the pendulum has swung in the 90 years since the AAUP Declaration was written, in 1915 the authors expressed concern that “where the university is dependent for funds upon legislative favor, ... the menace to academic freedom may consist in the repression of opinions that in the particular political situation are deemed ultra-conservative rather than ultra-radical.” But the authors correctly point out that “whether the departure is in the one direction or the other is immaterial.”

As appealing as the principle embodied in the AAUP Declaration may be to many academic administrators and to most, if not all, professors, that principle has not found favor in American jurisprudence. Academic freedom is not mentioned directly in the U.S. Constitution or in any federal statute. It was first recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1957 case of Sweezy v. New Hampshire, when Justice Felix Frankfurter defined the four elements of academic freedom as: “the freedom of an institution to decide who may attend, who may teach, what may be taught and how it shall be taught.” Note that this definition places the bundle of rights that make up academic freedom in the institution, not the individual faculty member.

It is a huge leap from the AAUP Declaration to the contention that a policy requiring a graded work product by the sixth week or mandating 11elements in every syllabus is an abridgment of the faculty’s constitutional rights, not to mention the claim that university administrators have no right to screen what goes out to the campus community as an official university announcement.

The problem, of course, goes much deeper. The real difficulty is that on many campuses throughout the country, the expanding concept of academic freedom has created an expectation of total individual autonomy. Our concept of faculty status seems to have evolved from one of employee to that of an independent contractor offering private tutorials to the institution’s students using the institution’s resources, but unfettered by many of the institution’s policies.

Lest any of us grow accustomed to this new order, it is instructive to see what one federal court has said about the limits to academic freedom. In the case of Urofsky v. Gilmore, a prominent legal scholar challenged a state policy aimed at restricting the use of state-owned computers by public employees to visit pornographic Web sites. The faculty member made the by now familiar claim that access to such information for teaching or research is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment, and falls within the scope of the individual faculty right to academic freedom.

The U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed, saying that academic freedom is not an individual right, but one that belongs to the institution, and in this case the institution (Virginia Commonwealth University) is an extension of the state. In the court’s words, “to the extent the Constitution recognizes any right of ‘academic freedom’ above and beyond the First Amendment rights to which every citizen is entitled, the right inheres in the university, not in individual professors....” The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this decision, thereby allowing it to stand. And while it is binding legal precedent only for federal courts in the Fourth Circuit (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia), this decision will serve as a powerful influence on other courts throughout the country.

The court’s conclusion was a shock to many of us, administrators and faculty members alike. Even more troubling is the court’s statement that “the [Supreme] Court has never recognized that professors possess a First Amendment right of academic freedom to determine for themselves the content of their courses and scholarship, despite opportunities to do so.” But as offensive as this statement may seem to some, it could have an unintended and beneficial consequence of bringing faculty and administrators closer together in recognizing their common bonds and in working toward achieving common goals for the good of their colleges and universities.

When faculty members recognize that there are limits to academic freedom, and that the rights ultimately reside with the institution, there is a powerful incentive to work with academic administrators to reach consensus on policies that will achieve important goals. And even if administrators feel emboldened by what may at first be perceived as a weakening of the individual faculty member’s freedom, every seasoned academic administrator knows that without faculty cooperation and support, even the most well-intentioned policy cannot succeed.




Cider apples have high levels of phenolics –
antioxidants linked to protection against stroke, heart disease and cancer

The saying goes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away but now scientists at the University of Glasgow are looking into whether a pint of cider could have the same effect. Researchers have discovered that English cider apples have high levels of phenolics – antioxidants linked to protection against stroke, heart disease and cancer – and are working with volunteers to see whether these health benefits could be passed onto cider drinkers.
"Could a pint of cider help keep the doctor away?" PhysOrg, August 28, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75964425.html
Jensen Comment
The fresh cider is outstanding up here in apple country this time of year. Alas --- don't forget that cider, like all fruit juice, is extremely high in calories. Persons drinking a pint of cider each day should probably drink one less pint of Guinness or Chteauneuf-du-Pape. Sigh!


Still Rotten to the Core:  Unethical and Sneaky Cigarette Companies Behind the Scenes
The level of nicotine that smokers typically consume per cigarette has risen 10 percent in the past six years, making it harder to quit and easier to be addicted, said a report that the Massachusetts Department of Health released on Tuesday. The study shows a steady increase in the amount of nicotine delivered to the smokers’ lungs regardless of brand, with overall yields increasing 10 percent. Massachusetts is one of three states to require tobacco companies to submit information on nicotine testing to its specifications and is the sole state with data as far back as 1998.
"Nicotine Levels Rose 10 Percent in Last Six Years, Report Says," The New York Times, August 31, 2006 --- Click Here


Forget the biscuits:  Pass the berries Miranda, I'm as forgetful as sin
If humans are anything like rats, scientists at Tufts University in Boston may be on the road to discovering the fountain of youth for the human brain. Reporting in the online edition of Neurobiology of Aging, Tufts psychologist Barbara Shukitt-Hale and her colleagues say a diet rich in berries improved the brain function of aging rats, WebMd reports.
PhysOrg, August 25, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75730536.html

Blueberries rank among the healthiest foods on the planet (good oxidizers)
Chef Rob Evans' Blueberry Recipes --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5716453

Related NPR Stories


The University of Illinois Plans a Huge New Online "Campus"
Faculty Seeking Tenure Need Not Apply

Remember the impressive SCALE study?

"The New State U," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/31/illinois

The University of Illinois is in many ways a classic state university system. Urbana-Champaign is a flagship, with a history of Nobel laureates and competitive admissions. The Chicago campus has been very much on the rise in the last 10 years, expanding research and graduate programs and attracting academic stars. Springfield has more of an undergraduate and liberal arts focus.

All three campuses have some distance education programs, but the university system is now getting ready to launch a whole new campus, creating an online division that could eventually rival the individual campuses in enrollment levels, operating in a very different environment. The University of Illinois Global Campus would be operated as a separate for-profit entity, have almost entirely part-time faculty members (and none with tenure), and focus on a relatively small number of degree programs.

The idea, according to Illinois officials, is to learn from a variety of models out there that are growing rapidly (UMass Online, University of Maryland University College, and the University of Phoenix), while also learning from some of the failed attempts of the dot-com boom, when many colleges started online, for-profit spinoffs with much hype — only to see them go nowhere.

“This could be extremely significant in the online landscape,” said Trace Urdan, who tracks education ventures for the Signal Hill Capital Group. The Illinois effort reflects a number of key trends, he said: the continued growing popularity of online education, the desire of many adults to study not only online but with an institution they know well, and the realization of many public universities that they need different types of models to compete for these students — while not promising the moon overnight, as some institutions did 10 years ago.

“This is part of a continuing trend where the traditional schools and state institutions are becoming much more competitive in the areas that have been dominated by the for-profits,” he said. “Their online programs are becoming more relevant, and even the ones that aren’t spending effectively have boosted the amount of money they are spending.”

Richard Vedder, an Ohio University professor who has been an outspoken critic of traditional higher education and who is a member of the U.S. education secretary’s commission studying higher education, has been praising the Illinois plan as a “bold innovation” that could shake up public higher education.

But not everyone at Illinois is in love with the plan, which is expected to receive final board approval next month. Faculty leaders from the three existing campuses are working on a letter to express concerns about the idea. One faculty leader who asked not to be identified said that the plan risked the university’s values. “Tenure is a very critical concern because it is a hallmark of the academic freedom that is needed for intellectual inquiry,” said the professor. “If people are all part-time and non-tenure track, is that a university? Is that a faculty? It’s certainly the University of Phoenix, but it’s not traditionally what has been the University of Illinois.”

The Illinois plan was the result of nearly a year of work by a committee that included administrators and faculty members (while some professors question the direction of the plan, even critics praise the administration for having been inclusive in planning).

Chet Gardner, who led the effort as vice president for academic affairs and is now leading the drive to create the new campus, said that the committee came to believe that distance education needed to grow, and that it couldn’t do so with existing models. Currently, online enrollments are about 6,900, or 2 percent systemwide “and that just can’t scale up,” he said. Under the new structure, Illinois wants to have 10,000 students enrolled in 5 years and up to 50,000 in 10 years. Programs would be limited — largely business, technology, education and similar fields in which there is strong demand by adult learners. “This will not be a traditional university where you have 100 or more academic programs,” he said.

By raising money privately — about $15-20 million for starters — Illinois plans to create the new university without state funds (which have generally been in short supply for the last decade for higher ed in the state). As a private, for-profit institution, without tenure, the new campus will seek independent accreditation, and expects to have the freedom to create (and discard) programs quickly. Courses will be starting every few weeks, not just on a traditional semester schedule. And while most students are expected to be Illinois residents, there will be no differential between in and out of state rates.

Despite all of those very non-traditional characteristics, Gardner insisted that this “isn’t about profit,” but is about the university’s historic mission. “What’s driving this is that we are a land grant university. It’s our core mission to provide access to high quality education first and foremost to the people of Illinois,” he said, adding that adult students who can’t enroll full time on an Illinois campus “aren’t well served today.”

One contention of Illinois officials is that while the online market is in some ways national or international — since anyone online can enroll anywhere — there is increasing evidence that online customers still want to root for the home team. UMass Online is one of the entities Illinois has studied — and its figures suggest a strong desire to enroll at a local institution online. During the last academic year, the institution’s enrollments increased by 23 percent, to 21,682 — in a state with no shortage of colleges and where many experts have warned that students could become scarce as the U.S. population shifts out of the Northeast. Revenues from those students were up 32 percent, to nearly $23 million.

Only 28 percent of UMass Online students are from out of state.

“There is a lot of regionalism in online education,” said David Gray, CEO of UMass Online. “I think Illinois will find a lot of receptivity in its own backyard.”

Peter Stokes, executive vice president at Eduventures, an education research firm that has advised Illinois on its plans, agreed. “State sponsorship is very positive” as potential students are considering where to enroll — in person or online, he said. Whatever people imagined about the worldwide market for distance education, “most enrollments are local.”

Stokes said that the Illinois plans reflect a maturation of the way traditional universities are thinking about starting new online ventures, some of them with for-profit models. “Everyone knows the failures of NYU Online or Fathom,” he said. “I think that going back, universities thought they could access a tremendous amount of venture capital,” and then ended up “putting their own money in, without real business models in place for the time.”

The survivors of that era — he cited eCornell as an example — are “more modest in focus.”

Stokes said it was significant that Illinois was talking about raising serious amounts of money, but not outrageous sums, and that its emphasis was on serving its own state. “The motivation to go for-profit today isn’t to raise capital, but to free themselves from constraints of traditional university governance. With traditional governance, it’s hard to make the kinds of quick decisions you need.”

Several other major public universities are currently considering an approach similar to what Illinois is planning, Stokes said, although he declined to name them. While places like UMass Online, the University of Maryland University College, and Penn State World Campus have a head start, not to mention the advantages the University of Phoenix enjoys, Stokes said that there was probably room for more players — provided they maintain a focus on their states.

Urdan of Signal Hill agreed. “The opportunity to be as big as Phoenix is gone,” he said. The opportunities that remain for state university systems are closer to home.

Not all supporters of online education, however, favor the for-profit model. UMass Online is “firmly nonprofit,” Gray said, even though it is making plenty of money. It turned over $8 million in what would have been profit to the university system last year, and Gray said he expects that to rise to $10 million this year — even with extensive growth in programming.

Gray said that UMass Online’s success relates to a degree of independence it does enjoy — while it works with individual faculty members and professors at UMass campuses, the online program can add offerings or eliminate them quickly, set up marketing efforts, and generally “operate on its own schedule,” Gray said.

“I think there was a recognition here that we needed independence to pump some energy into this initiative, that something very distinctly different had to be done,” he said.

So why stay nonprofit? Gray said that another key to success has been faculty support. New offerings are designed and taught by regular university faculty members. He said that any move to for-profit status would put that support at risk. “We never got into the arguments about profit-making,” he said. “We needed engagement to occur for this to work, and this model isn’t threatening. We got the engagement we needed because we didn’t spend a lot of time on the arguments about being a commercial enterprise.”

Gray said that there’s no doubt that “some things can be easier by adopting a for-profit model,” but he said that university leaders need to remember that “there are tradeoffs.”

Pat Langley, chair of the Campus Senate at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said that her campus is providing a model of how distance education can work well — and that she’s skeptical of the new model being proposed. Springfield has received support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to put traditional liberal arts courses online, and Langley said that professors have embraced the idea. “You always find computer science and business being offered online, but we’re working to get philosophy and English up as well,” said Langley, a professor of women’s studies and legal studies.

The reason faculty members like the program — which has resulted in Springfield having a larger share of its enrollment online than the other Illinois campuses — is that quality is the same, Langley said. “We received a commitment that the people who would teach these courses would be the people who teach them on the ground, and as a result, the quality is indistinguishable online or in the classroom, and the professors are enjoying teaching these courses,” she said.

Is a new model needed to offer more courses? “It depends what your goal is,” Langley said. “In our model, students are getting a very high quality education and I’m sure that it’s at least as good as if they were sitting in the bricks and mortar classroom,” she said. “We don’t think the model needs to be changed.”

Some faculty members are supportive of the new online effort — with a few conditions. Elliot Kaufman, chair of the University Senates Conference of the Illinois campuses, said that while “a lot of faculty are concerned, I don’t share those concerns.” Kaufman, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the Chicago campus, was on the committee that prepared the plan.

He noted that the university uses part-time faculty members now and that the quality of instruction by adjuncts can be very high, provided they are adequately supported. “We can’t scale up what we are doing right now with the existing model, and I think we need to use adjuncts,” he said.

“The trick is to make sure everyone is highly qualified and trained,” Kaufman said. “I understand the concerns some people have about this model, but I don’t think we should say we don’t like this model. We should say we’ll do this, and do it well.”

Jensen Comment
The University of Illinois conducted one of the first scholarly "SCALE" experiments of onsite versus online learning using resident on-campus students --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm#Illinois

Bob Jensen's threads on distance training and education alternatives are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm


Free from Temple University
COW:  Calculus on the Web (plus linear algebra) --- http://www.math.temple.edu/%7Ecow/

Bob Jensen's threads on free math tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics


Learnthat.com: Free web training for computer courses ---
http://www.learnthat.com/courses/computer/default.asp


Free From the University of Utah
Learn Genetics Online (for teachers and students) --- http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/

The Genetic Science Learning Center is an outreach education program located in the midst of bioscience research at the University of Utah. Our mission is to help people understand how genetics affects their lives and society.

To achieve this mission, we present education offerings for various audiences, including:

Our educational resources provide accurate and unbiased information about topics in genetics and bioscience. Designed for non-research audiences, our materials are interactive and jargon-free, target multiple learning styles, and often convey concepts through visual elements. Our newest materials are being developed with our Exploragraphic™ design methodology.

Some topics in genetics and bioscience research are controversial. The Learning Center does not take sides in politically or ethically charged topics. Rather, our goal is to provide comprehensive information that promotes a lively discussion of these topics, so that individuals can arrive at their own informed decisions.

Bob Jensen's threads on online education and training alternatives are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm


Question
If homework does not significantly (on average) improve learning in grade school, how does it impact learning in higher education?

"The Myth About Homework:  Think hours of slogging are helping your child make the grade?" by Caludia Wallis, Time Magazine, August  27, 2006 --- Click Here

Both books cite studies, surveys, statistics, along with some hair-raising anecdotes, on how a rising tide of dull, useless assignments is oppressing families and making kids hate learning. A few highlights from the books and my own investigation:

• According to a 2004 national survey of 2,900 American children conducted by the University of Michigan, the amount of time spent on homework is up 51% since 1981.

• Most of that increase reflects bigger loads for little kids. An academic study found that whereas students ages 6 to 8 did an average of 52 min. of homework a week in 1981, they were toiling 128 min. weekly by 1997. And that's before No Child Left Behind kicked in. An admittedly less scientific poll of parents conducted this year for AOL and the Associated Press found that elementary school students were averaging 78 min. a night.

• The onslaught comes despite the fact that an exhaustive review by the nation's top homework scholar, Duke University's Harris Cooper, concluded that homework does not measurably improve academic achievement for kids in grade school. That's right: all the sweat and tears do not make Johnny a better reader or mathematician.

• Too much homework brings diminishing returns. Cooper's analysis of dozens of studies found that kids who do some homework in middle and high school score somewhat better on standardized tests, but doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in middle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is associated with, gulp, lower scores.

• Teachers in many of the nations that outperform the U.S. on student achievement tests--such as Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic--tend to assign less homework than American teachers, but instructors in low-scoring countries like Greece, Thailand and Iran tend to pile it on.

Success on standardized tests is, of course, only one measure of learning--and only one purported goal of homework. Educators, including Cooper, tend to defend homework by saying it builds study habits, self-discipline and time-management skills. But there's also evidence that homework sours kids' attitudes toward school. "It's one thing to say we are wasting kids' time and straining parent-kid relationships," Kohn told me, "but what's unforgivable is if homework is damaging our kids' interest in learning, undermining their curiosity."

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I think homework is like any other learning tool that can be used effectively or ineffectively depending upon the context of where and how it is used. Homework may enhance or suppress creativity. Homework may increase or stifle motivation. One problem is that too much homework is the mechanical exercise of merely looking up and copying answers. Another problem is that too much homework is graded mechanically such that creative answers that take time to ponder and evaluate by instructors are probably overlooked. For example, written assignments may be graded for grammar without comment on the content itself. I think some topics are better suited to homework. I can't imagine mathematics courses without homework. I learned most of the mathematics I ever mastered because of homework. In science lab exercises are a form of homework that are, in my viewpoint, indispensable. 


Economics and Banking Tutorials Free from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Inside the Vault --- http://www.stls.frb.org/publications/itv/default.html
This is a newsletter that explains the banking system, international economics, deficits, etc.


Bob Jensen's threads on free math tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics

Bob Jensen's threads on free textbooks and other learning materials in various fields, including literature, economics, history, statistics, and  accounting --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Bob Jensen's writing helpers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Dictionaries


SAT Scores Down While ACT Scores Up
Mean scores on the SAT fell this year by more than they have in decades. A five-point drop in critical reading, to 503, was the largest decline since 1975 and the two-point drop in mathematics, to 518, was the largest dip since 1978.
Scott Jaschik, "Lower Scores, Fewer Students," Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/30/sat

Gaps among racial and ethnic groups continued to be significant on the SAT, including the new writing test, for which the first mean scores were released at the College Board’s annual SAT briefing on Tuesday. The board also reported a small decline in the total number of people who took the test, and while board officials insisted at a news conference that the decline was across the board, they acknowledged later Tuesday that the board’s own data suggest that the decline appears to be among students from the lowest income families.

The percentage of SAT test takers with family incomes up to $30,000 was 19 percent for the high school class of 2006, down from 22 percent a year ago. The share of SAT test takers from families with incomes greater than $100,000 was 24 percent, up from 21 percent a year ago.

Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, provided a generally upbeat assessment of the year’s results, saying that the new writing test was off to a strong start, both strengthening the SAT and encouraging high schools to focus on writing skills. He attributed the drops in SAT scores to a decline in the number of students who took the test more than once. Fifty-three percent of students did so, down from 56 percent the previous year. Repeat test takers tend to improve their scores, Caperton noted, and students tend to alter their test-taking behavior in years when the SAT undergoes major changes, as was the case this year.

n light of these changes, he said he wasn’t concerned about the one-year drops, although he remained seriously concerned that too many students are not taking rigorous courses in high school that lead to their doing well on the SAT and in college. He said that the average drops in SAT scores didn’t even amount to a single additional question being answered incorrectly.

A reporter at the briefing asked Caperton why in previous years — as SAT scores inched upward — he had implied that those increases were signs of real progress, while he was playing down the impact of larger decreases. Caperton said that “I think we tend to overemphasize a few points here or there.”

Christine Parker, who runs the SAT and ACT preparation programs for the Princeton Review, said that she was struck by the tone of the College Board’s materials on this year’s scores. “It’s pretty clear that the board is on the defensive about these decreases,” she said. She thinks that one reason the retesting totals are down is that more students are taking the ACT and the SAT and figuring out which score will help them the most with colleges, rather than simply retaking the SAT.

Many high school guidance counselors — not to mention SAT test takers — complained that the addition of the writing test made the SAT too long, and there has been much discussion of whether “SAT fatigue” contributed to the decline in scores.

But Wayne Camara, vice president for research and psychometrics at the board, said that the duration of the test had “no impact” on student scores, and that College Board officials have examined the rates at which students answer questions correctly or incorrectly or don’t answer at all during all portions of the test. No link is evident between how long a student has been taking the test and the quality of answers, he said. The College Board has said that it will study the idea of letting students take different parts of the SAT at different times, and Camara said Tuesday that any determination on that idea was at least a year away.

As has been the case in past years, clear gaps were evident by racial and ethnic groups, with Asian and white students doing much better than other groups.

Mean SAT Scores by Ethnicity, 2006

Group Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
American Indian 487 494 474
Asian 510 578 512
African American 434 429 428
Mexican American 454 465 452
Puerto Rican 459 456 448
Other Hispanic 458 463 450
White 527 536 519
Other 494 513 493
Race unknown 487 506 482
All 503 518 497

Also consistent with past years, men outscored women — 505 to 502 on critical reading and 536 to 502 on mathematics. But women had higher mean scores — 502 to 491 — on the new writing test. In some areas, subgroups of women outperformed men. For example, black women outscored black men on critical reading.

In most recent years, the total number of people taking the SAT has generally increased, but that was not the case this year, when there was a slight drop — of just under 10,000 students — out of a total of more than 1.4 million students who took the exam. During the press briefing, College Board officials insisted that the decline was not significant and that data indicated that it was across the board and not linked to any demographic group.

College Board data, however, show that the share of SAT test takers from the lowest income groups declined this year, while the share from the highest income group increased.

SAT Population by Income Level, 2005-6

Income Level % of Test Takers 2005 % of Test Takers 2006
Less Than $10,000 5 4
$10,000-$20,000 8 7
$20,000-$30,000 9 8
$30,000-$40,000 10 10
$40,000-$50,000 9 8
$50,000-$60,000 9 9
$60,000-$70,000 8 8
$70,000-$80,000 8 9
$80,000-$100,000 13 13
More than $100,000 21 24

The shares of test takers for those in the three categories up to $30,000 as well as those in $40,000-$50,000 declined this year, while there were increases for $70,000-$80,000 and those from families with incomes over $100,000.

The ACT — which has been seeing increases in test takers, many of them people who also take the SAT — uses slightly different income levels for its demographic comparisons. But ACT data show that there have not been notable changes among the share of test takers from various income groups, and that a much smaller share of students (10 percent) comes from families with incomes greater than $10,000.

Camara, in an interview after the briefing, acknowledged that the numbers are striking enough to suggest that the decline in test takers may be primarily from certain economic groups, but he said more study would be needed. He said that many students incorrectly report family income so he is skeptical of reading too much into answers on that question. Camara said he pays more attention to the question about parents’ educational background.

But there too, the College Board’s data suggest that the disappearing test takers are not coming from a broad cross section of the population. From 2005 to 2006, the percentage of SAT test takers whose parents’ highest degree is a high school diploma or an associate degree declined while the percentage of SAT test takers whose parents have bachelor’s or graduate degrees increased.

Camara said it was important to figure out what these drops mean because of the need to avoid having “students fall through the cracks.”

One reason that economic demographics are important to the College Board is that the SAT mean scores follow a consistent pattern in which increases in family income correlate directly with scores.

SAT Mean Scores by Income Level, 2006

Income Level Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
Less Than $10,000 429 457 427
$10,000-$20,000 445 465 440
$20,000-$30,000 462 474 454
$30,000-$40,000 478 488 470
$40,000-$50,000 493 501 483
$50,000-$60,000 500 509 490
$60,000-$70,000 505 515 496
$70,000-$80,000 511 521 502
$80,000-$100,000 523 534 514
More than $100,000 549 564 543

This year was the first with the writing test, with the most interest in the essay portion of that test. Essays are graded by two readers, providing scores on a scale of 1 to 6 for a maximum of 12. The College Board released the following information about the first year of essays and their scoring, based on overall averages and an in-depth study the board conducted of a sample of essays:


Question
What U.S. city is the binge drinkinest?
Hint: sometimes called "The Nation's Watering Hole"

"Milwaukee tops U.S. cities for drinking," PhysOrg, August 25, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75739577.html

Milwaukee, sometimes called "The Nation's Watering Hole," has been named the hardest-drinking city in America in a new Forbes.com ranking.

"America's Drunkest Cities" evaluated 35 candidate cities based on availability of data and geographic diversity, Forbes said, with the candidates chosen from among the largest metropolitan areas in the continental United States.

The study ranked each city on the basis of state laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholism. Each area was assigned a score based on its ranking in each category and Milwaukee came out No. 1.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey 2004 show more than 70 percent of adult Milwaukeeans reported they had had at least one alcoholic drink within 30 days. Twenty-two percent said they had engaged in binge drinking -- having five or more drinks on one occasion -- and 7.5 percent were reported as heavy drinkers.


As we approach another academic year, I want to remind professors of the following fraud that is somewhat commonplace in academe, fraud exacerbated by the need to pad annual performance reports and resumes.

Academic Conferences that Rip Off Colleges ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#AcademicConferences

I love it when jokesters intentionally submit utter nonsense, albeit clever nonsense, that passes through the pretense of having acceptance/rejection filters by some conference sponsors who in reality accept virtually every submission.

I discovered that some of my best friends go to these rip-off conferences and pay enormous registration fees using travel funds of their respective universities. Sadly, these friends are among the most popular teachers in their universities each year, teaching professors who produce virtually nothing in the way of research. They present scholarship, not research, at these phony "research" conferences and sometimes publish in the sponsor's phony journals. That way they get credit for "research" publications and "research" presentations on their resumes. Typically they show up for an hour or so to make a half-hearted presentation to an audience of three other presenters, all of whom disappear to other parts of Europe or elsewhere as soon a possible. This way they have a reimbursed vacation and two new modules on a resume (one for the presentation and one for the publication in a conference proceeding). The problem is that Donald Duck could easily be accepted for a presentation accepted for these phony conferences as long as Donald Duck pays the huge registration fee.

Even when the conferences meet, they may be fraudulent.  Generally these conferences are held in places where professors like to travel in Europe, South America, Latin America, Las Vegas, Canada, the Virgin Islands, or other nice locations for vacations that accompany a trip to a conference paid for by a professor's employer.  The professor gets credit for a presentation and possibly a publication in the conference proceedings. 

Here are some warning signs for a fraudulent conference:

  1. Even though there is a high registration fee, there are no conference-hosted receptions, luncheons, or plenary sessions.  The conference organizer is never called to account for the high registration fee.  The organizer may allude to the cost of meeting rooms in a hotel, but often the meeting rooms are free as long as the organizer can guarantee a minimum number of guest who will pay for registered rooms in the hotel.
     

  2. All or nearly all submissions are accepted for presentation.
     

  3. The only participants in most presentation audiences are generally other presenters assigned to make a presentation in the same time slot.  There is virtually no non-participating audience.  Hence only a few people are in the room and each of them take turns making a presentation.  Most are looking at their watches and hoping to get out of the room as soon as possible.
     

  4. Presenters present their paper and then disappear for the rest of the conference.  There is virtually no interaction among all conference presenters.
     

  5. The papers presented are often journal rejects that are cycled conference after conference if the professor can find a conference that will accept anything submitted on paper.  Check the dates on the references listed for each paper.  Chances are the papers have few if any references from the current decade.
     

  6. These conferences are almost always held in popular tourist locations and are often scheduled between semesters for the convenience of adding vacation time to the trip.  They are especially popular in the summer.

 

August 31, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen to a professor who proposed rating conferences.

Hi XXXXX,

Publishing ratings of conferences will be almost impossible due to endless debates that will arise over defining criteria.

I wish you luck if you carry through with this effort, but I think that it will be very difficult to shut down fraud conferences. Organizers of fraud conferences are very good at their craft, and the professors who attend them are desperate for new lines on dusty old resumes. The professors who attend are often very good teachers frustrated with blank spaces each year by blank spaces for evidence of research in their performance reports.

Hence, the "teachers" who attend fraud conferences will continue to do so even if you take the time and trouble to warn them. These professors want the lines on a resume and an expense-paid vacation in a terrific tourist locale. Interestingly, many of these professors justify this by truly believing that they are badly underpaid and are fully justified for reimbursed travel for R&R if nothing else.

Since you are only listing the good conferences, college deans and administrators will not necessarily be forewarned of the bad conferences since you can't be expected to list 100% of the good conferences in all fields of business, finance, and economics. Most fraud conferences in our discipline are very generic and cover all fields of business and economics. It will be very difficult to track over 1,000 conferences (most legitimate) across such a wide path.

I think the best we can do is plead with the academy, and possibly our reimbursing colleges, to demand accountability of registration fees for conferences. They should be treated a bit like charitable organizations where conference organizers must give an expense accounting and disclose how much of the conference revenues go to personal profit and "administrative expense."

Bob Jensen


Question
What are the two most heavily endowed university research chairs in the United States?

"BMW Professors," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, August 25, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/25/clemson

Clemson University’s two new BMW endowed chairs are among the most well endowed chairs there are. The auto giant — which while based in Germany has a major plant in South Carolina — contributed $5 million for each one. The state matched those dollars, creating endowments for each chair to support a professor’s salary, lab, graduate students and more.

The chairs are part of BMW’s support for the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, which includes research park facilities for the university and companies and a new graduate program in automotive engineering, which enrolled its first Ph.D. students this month. An article in the International Herald Tribune Thursday used the Clemson center as an example of the increasingly close connections universities are making with businesses.

Clemson officials objected to much of the article, saying that it overstated BMW’s influence and ignored Clemson’s land grant role of promoting economic development. But the university did not dispute a brief mention in the piece to a practice that was news to the university’s Faculty Senate and is unusual in academe: letting donors of endowed chairs interview all finalists for the position.

The university portrayed the practice as perfectly normal, but many others see it as dangerous to institutional independence and academic freedom.

Chris Przirembel, Clemson’s vice president for research and economic development, said that the new automotive center, on 250 acres in Greenville, is based on a new model of university-business cooperation. “The fundamental concept that we are trying to develop is to have a research campus that is anchored by an academic program and research facility and then have land surrounding that academic anchor that will attract private sector R&D and testing facilities.” He said automotive research was important because South Carolina has attracted a number of such businesses, making the industry vital to the state.

As for the endowed chairs, Przirembel said that there was nothing inappropriate about requiring finalists to be interviewed by BMW because the final decisions were made by a university search committee. “The company does not have the opportunity to say Yes or No” on candidates, he added, just to conduct an interview and share its views with the search committee.

While the BMW chairs may not be identical to more traditional chairs, which Przirembel termed “philanthropic” chairs, Clemson has let other donors of chairs have the right to interview finalists, he said. Przirembel repeatedly expressed surprise that anyone would find it unusual that BMW got the right to hold interviews with all finalists for the chairs it endowed. He said that the chair of the search committee would verify that there was no inappropriate influence by BMW, but that chair could not be reached.

Thomas R. Kurfess, the first person hired as a BMW professor, came from the Georgia Institute of Technology and said he wasn’t bothered by the interview with the company. “This is a different model,” he said. Kurfess noted that many federal agencies want to back university research that is linked to economic development and support for industry. “It’s nice to be able to show that it’s not just the name behind the chair,” he said, but that you have “real ties to industry.”

M. Elizabeth Kunkel, the chair of Clemson’s Faculty Senate, said she was surprised that any corporate donor would have the right to interview candidates for an endowed chair. Kunkel, a professor of food science, said that faculty members were generally on board with the new automotive research program, and that industry-sponsored research is hardly unusual or controversial at the university.

Kunkel said that many parts of a faculty search process are wide open — anyone could go to a lecture by a job candidate, for example, she said. And it wouldn’t bother her if BMW showed up for such a lecture. But she said she was not aware that all finalists had to be interviewed by BMW for the endowed chairs. If true, she said, “it would cause me some concern.”

Rae Goldsmith, vice president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, said that she had heard of colleges allowing donors to interview endowed chair candidates “as a courtesy.” Goldsmith said that she did not have data on how widespread the practice is, but said it was not the norm. Typically, donors of endowed chairs do select the subject matter of the chair (mechanical engineering, French literature or whatever) but not the person who will hold the chair.

“The donor can’t have any say over the final decision,” Goldsmith said. Even if the university retains that control, she added, requiring an interview with a donor “raises perception issues” such that colleges “should be very careful.”

Added Goldsmith: “There can be real risks in perception among the candidates and the members of the search committee. Is there implied control of the choice by the donor because of the capacity to make future gifts?”

Roger Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, called the Clemson arrangement with BMW “very worrisome and inappropriate” in that it “adds another dimension to the corporatization of the academy: letting corporate donors influence what should be a purely academic decision.” Such a policy, he said, “is not a good idea unless you are indifferent to academic integrity.”

Told that Clemson administrators described the arrangement as normal, Bowen said, “This approach may work in Bavaria, but it should not be condoned here. Donors may designate the academic discipline they wish to fund, but the decision on who to hire should be left to a search committee composed of faculty members.”

"BMW’s Custom-Made University," by Lynnley Browning, The New York Times, August 30, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/business/worldbusiness/29bmw.html

In return for the largest cash donation ever received by the school, Clemson gave the company some unusual privileges, including a hand in developing a course of study. Clemson’s president drives a silver BMW X5 sport utility vehicle, compliments of BMW, whose only North American plant is 50 miles away.

At Clemson’s urging, BMW in large part created the curriculum for an automotive graduate engineering school. The company also drew up profiles of its ideal students; it gave Clemson, a state-supported university, a list of professors and specialists to interview, and even had approval rights over the school’s architectural look.

With its first students to be in class this fall, the project, known as the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, is a particularly rich example of cooperation between a multinational corporation and a university. Several automotive suppliers, including Michelin, the tire company, and the Timken Company, a maker of bearings, have also contributed financing to the project, in part by endowing professorships at the new graduate school.

But BMW is the lead player. Details about the arrangement between Clemson and BMW have emerged from a lawsuit brought last year by a Florida developer who claims the university had signed a deal with him to start an automotive center.

Continued in article


Does freezing while still alive improve the odds of ultimate revival? (Answer not given in the study below)
An Australian biologist has won approval from health authorities to build the region's first cryonics centre for freezing people when they die in the hope of revival in the future, reports said Sunday.
PhysOrg, August 27, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75883023.html


Debunking Conventional Wisdom on Student Borrowing
A report issued Tuesday by the Project on Student Debt finds that conventional wisdom isn’t necessarily correct when it comes to how much students borrow. The project sponsors research that tends to be highly critical of policies that result in high borrowing levels. The report’s theme is that paying attention to debt issues — through generous state aid programs, or rethinking the mix of loans and grants in financial aid packages — can seriously reduce debt levels, even at high tuition institutions.
Scott Jaschik, "Debunking Conventional Wisdom on Debt," Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/30/debt


I always suspected that I only had one memory molecule
"Scientists Find Memory Molecule," PhysOrg, August 27, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75883856.html


Earth Tilted to Keep It's Balance?: Drunks have long known about balance tilting maneuvers
Imagine a shift in the Earth so profound that it could force our entire planet to spin on its side after a few million years, tilting it so far that Alaska would sit at the equator.
"Planet Earth may have 'tilted' to keep its balance," PhysOrg, August 25, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75725492.html
Jensen Question
Is it too soon to plant palm trees in my New Hampshire lawn?


From The Washington Post on August 29, 2006

Which Web brand had the fastest growth between July 2005 and July 2006?

A. CNN
B. Partypoker.com
C. HSBC
D. Wikipedia


Can you hear the grumble all the way from Redmond?

"Google Releasing Package for the Office," PhysOrg, August 28, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75965059.html

Gmail is headed for the office - officially. Starting Monday, Google will offer Google Apps for Your Domain, a free package of programs for businesses, universities and other organizations.

Workers will be able to send e-mail with Gmail, Google's two-year-old Web-based mail service, but messages will carry their company's domain name. The package also includes Google's online calendar, instant-messaging service, and Page Creator, a Web page builder.

Information technology administrators can make some customizations. "But really, the applications are exactly what you'd experience as a consumer if you use them," said Dave Girouard, VP and general manager of Google Enterprise, a division of Google Inc.

The free edition of Apps for Your Domain is, like Google's main site, supported with ads. By the end of the year, the company also plans to launch a paid version that will offer more storage, some degree of support, and likely, no ads. A price for this edition hasn't been set.

Providing e-mail and other applications for businesses moves Google closer into what has traditionally been turf occupied by Microsoft Corp. Earlier this year, Google released a program that builds simple Excel-type spreadsheets but lets users access them on the Web.

Now, with e-mail, Google appears to be targeting Microsoft's Outlook and Exchange franchises - although the company plays down any such views.

"We don't see our products as an either/or thing right now," Girouard said. "Smaller businesses, it may be the case where this is the preferred e-mail and messaging solution. In larger companies, it may well be used alongside."

In February, Google launched a beta test with San Jose City College in California; by the end of the beta, the company said hundreds of universities had signed up, along with one-person businesses, medical and legal practices, even some companies with tens and hundreds of employees.

For all of Google's side projects - spreadsheets, shopping, maps - its revenue is almost entirely based on its search advertising.

While Girouard said the market for enterprise e-mail and other products is very large, he declined to speculate on the financial implications. "We tend to focus first on user adoption," he said. "The business model follows pretty successfully."

For businesses, Google hopes the suite of applications will relieve some of the cost and annoyance of administering e-mail servers and the like - and hopefully, fewer calls to internal help centers.

After AOL's recent data privacy debacle, businesses may have qualms turning their employees' data over to Google.

"Third-party hosting providers aren't necessarily any more risky than their own companies," said Girouard. "Google has hosted applications and information for individuals, and is starting to do it for organizations. We do have a very good track record," he said.


"China's Ministry of Commerce Releases Trade Plan," International Accountant, August 25, 2006 --- http://www.aia.org.uk/InternationalAccountant.htm?News/IAfullStory.php?id=50974

The Ministry of Commerce recently issued the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) on China's trade development, aimed at promoting foreign trade.

According to the plan, during the five-year period the annual average growth rate of sales revenue for both consumer goods and production is forecast at about 11 percent.

The annual average growth rate of sales for retail, wholesale and the catering industry is estimated at about 9 percent, while sales revenue from retail, wholesale and the catering sector is expected to account for about 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

By 2010, China's foreign trade sector is expected to employ 71 million people, accounting for 5.2 percent of the nation's population.

The annual average growth rate of local chain stores is expected to reach 21 percent, while the proportion of their sales compared to consumer goods is expected to be 25 percent.

The report also predicts that about 15 to 20 local trade companies will become national and international influential brands by the end of 2010, while a slew of regional giants are expected to emerge.

 


Students Who Attempt to Murder Their Professors
Police have charged a former graduate student, who was forced to leave a program at Loyola College in Maryland, of setting fire to a former professor’s home Thursday night, The York Daily Record reported. The professor and his family were asleep at the time, but escaped unharmed. While attempts by disgruntled students and former students to kill professors are rare, they do happen, and typically the murderers are male.
Inside Higher Ed, August 28, 2006

Richard Sansing sent a link reminding of us an even worse murder scene in 1991 at the University of Iowa --- http://www.uiowa.edu/~fyi/issues/issues2001_v39/10192001/november.html

August 28, 2006 reply from MacEwan Wright, Victoria University [Mac.Wright@VU.EDU.AU]

It doesn't have to be USA or a PhD student. An undergraduate honours student attending his last tutorial at Monash University in Melbourne shot up his fellow students in the tutorial room, late October, 2002 killing two and wounding four, and the Professor, who then disarmed him. He is now in a Psychiatric hospital, and will probably end his days there.

Kind regards,
Mac Wright

August 29, 2006 reply from Roger Collins [rcollins@TRU.CA]

And not just students either...

I left Concordia University in Montreal for my present position in July 1992. Just over a month later an engineering prof at Concordia walked up to the 9th floor and shot four other profs dead - a secretary was wounded but survived.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concordia _University under Fabrikant Affair

What the Wikipedia doesn't say is that Fabrikant had a history of making threats which the University had not (in retrospect) dealt with effectively; also, he had accused others of plagiarising his work. A report on the incident was scathing in its criticism of senior University administrators.

Roger

Roger Collins
TRU School of Business

 


Common Investment Mistakes

From Jim Mahar's blog on August 24, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Could almost be called "Behavioral Finance in Practice" by the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Clements from MoneyWeb:

Some look-ins:
If we were rational, we would grow leery as an investment rises in price, because we are now paying more for the same investment. Instead, however, we are drawn to hot stocks and hot mutual funds, because we assume that the future will look like the immediate past."
 
As always Clements offers some good advice in a readable fashion.

Just Another in a Long Line of Prudential Rip-Offs
Prudential to Cough Up $600 million to settle charges of Improper Mutual Fund Trading

"Brokerage unit admits criminal wrongdoing, DOJ says," by Alistair Barr & Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.the-catbird-seat.net/Prudential.htm

Prudential Financial Inc.'s brokerage unit agreed on Monday to pay $600 million to settle charges that former employees defrauded mutual fund investors by helping clients rapidly trade funds.

The payment -- the largest market-timing settlement involving a single firm -- ends civil and criminal probes and allegations by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several other regulators including New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Prudential Equity Group, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial (PRU) admitted criminal wrongdoing as part of its agreement with the Justice Department. Prudential Equity Group was formerly known as Prudential Securities.

Prudential will pay $270 million to victims of the fraud, a $300 million criminal penalty to the U.S. government, a $25 million fine to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and a $5 million civil penalty to the state of Massachusetts, according to the Justice Department.

"Prudential to Pay Fine in Trading," by Landen Thomas Jr., The New York Times, August 29, 2006 --- Click Here

Prudential Financial, the life insurance company, agreed yesterday to pay  with federal and state regulators that one of its units engaged in inappropriate mutual fund trading.

The payment, the second-largest levied against a financial institution over the practice, may bring to a close a three-year investigation into the improper trading of mutual funds that has ensnared some of the largest names on Wall Street and the mutual fund industry.

The settlement with the Justice Department, which covers trades totaling more than $2.5 billion made from 1999 to 2000, is also the first in the market timing scandal in which an institution has admitted to criminal wrongdoing.

Such a concession by Prudential, part of a deferred prosecution agreement that will last five years, underscores the extent to which the improper trading practices were not only widespread at Prudential Securities, but also condoned by its top executives, despite repeated complaints from the mutual fund companies.

Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm


Wall Street Remains Rotten to the Core
The boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem. It is against the law to trade on inside information about an imminent merger, of course. But an analysis of the nation’s biggest mergers over the last 12 months indicates that the securities of 41 percent of the companies receiving buyout bids exhibited abnormal and suspicious trading in the days and weeks before those deals became public. For those who bought shares during these periods of unusual trading, quick gains of as much as 40 percent were possible.
Gretchen Morgenson, "Whispers of Mergers Set Off Suspicious Trading," The New York Times, August 27, 2006 ---
Click Here

Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm


The Investment Banker Who Got Away to Start Another Day
The (Frank Quattrone) deal marks the end of a sorry chapter in American business history. While high-profile white-collar crime persists, the dramatic criminal cases that were launched just after the dotcom economy fizzled are now mostly completed. The icons of massive, turn-of-the-century corporate fraud--Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron, Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom, Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz of Tyco--are convicted and, in Lay's case, dead. Even Martha Stewart has served time. And many, if not most, of the cases the feds brought against smaller fish--to help assuage a share-owning public that had been scammed by phony accounting and overhyped stock--are resolved. The government claims that since mid-2002 it has won more than 1,000 corporate-fraud convictions, including those of more than 100 CEOs and presidents.
Barbara Kiviat, "The One Who Got Away:  The decision to abandon a high-profile case against a dotcom poster boy marks the end of a sorry era,"  Time Magazine, August 27, 2006 --- Click Here

Mr. Quattrone's rise shows how some who were on the inside during the tech boom piled up huge fortunes in part through special access, unavailable to other investors, to the machinery of that era's frenzied stock market. But now he faces a crunch. The steep yearlong downturn in tech stocks has hurt the profits of his technology group. And in recent weeks, the group he heads has come under scrutiny in connection with a federal probe into whether some investment-bank employees awarded shares of hot IPOs in exchange for unusually high commissions, and whether those commissions amounted to kickbacks.
Susan Pulliam and Randall Smith, The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2003 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB988836228231147483,00.html?mod=2_1040_1

Bob Jensen's threads on investment banking scandals are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#InvestmentBanking


It appears that thousands of CEOs were allowed by their boards to bet on yesterday's horse race
In theory, directors are supposed to help keep wayward practices like options backdating in check at most companies, but at Mercury it was the directors themselves — who received a final seal of approval from the company’s compensation committee — who kept the backdating ball rolling. Now, as federal investigations of possible regulatory and accounting violations related to options backdating have expanded to include more than 80 companies. Mercury’s pay practices — and the actions of the three outside directors on its compensation and audit committees — have come under scrutiny. In late June, the Securities and Exchange Commission advised the three men that it was considering filing a civil complaint against them in connection with dozens of manipulated options grants.
Eric Dash, "Who Signed Off on Those Options?" The New York Times, August 27, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/27/business/yourmoney/27mercury.html

Bob Jensen's threads on executive options compensation scandals are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm


Macalester College Math Problem of the Week --- http://mathforum.org/wagon/

Stan Wagon, a professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Macalester College, poses a mathematics problem to his students every week. The Problem of the Week tradition was started in 1968 by the late Professor Joe Konhauser. Professor Wagon took over in 1993. Since the problems are meant to be accessible to first-year college students, very little background is needed to understand or solve them.

These problems are also sent out by electronic mail. To join the mailing list, send a message to:

with just the words in the body.

In addition to the Problem of the Week, Professor Wagon also organizes the annual Konhauser Problemfest.


Student votes are largely symbolic on campus
I'm a bit surprised this vote to fire Ward Churchill was even taken.

The University of Colorado student union voted Thursday in support of firing tenured ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill.
Anna Uhls, "CU student union votes to fire Churchill," County News, August 25, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on the saga of Ward Churchill are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HypocrisyChurchill.htm
 


SUVs and trucks have relatively high fuel efficiency if they have diesel engines
 "Early in 2007 Ford will begin selling diesel versions of its F-250 and F-350 pick up trucks that will use the new cleaner diesel fuel,according to the Detroit News. Ford also announced a larger diesel engine for its Super Duty line. The optional 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel engine but will have be more fuel efficient than its predecessor . . . We'd be saving lots of oil if we did like the Europeans and drove as many of the more fuel efficient diesels as gasoline vehicles. I'd also like to see some diesel SUVs that could get closer to 30 mpg.
"Ford Picks Up Diesel Pace," Wired News, August 23, 2006 --- http://blog.wired.com/cars/#1543816


"From India business schools to top of world's boardrooms," International Herald Tribune, August 24, 2006 --- http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/08/23/bloomberg/bxindia.php


Two Irishmen Claim They've Invented Perpetual Motion and Unlimited Free Energy
In Steorn's theory, fixed magnets could act upon a moving magnet in such a way as to make it a virtual perpetual motion generator. In an electrical appliance - a computer, kettle, mobile phone or toy - that would provide all the power for its lifetime. Of course, free-energy cars, power plants and water-pumping systems could follow. A better world indeed. So, as they prepare to demonstrate this wonder of science to me at their modest offices near the Liffey, I feel all the excitement of Christmas Day. There is a test rig with wheels and cogs and four magnets meticulously aligned so as to create the maximum tension between their fields and one other magnet fixed to a point opposite. A motor rotates the wheel bearing the magnets and a computer takes 28,000 measurements a second. The magnets, naturally, act upon one another. And when it is all over, the computer tells us that almost three times the amount of energy has come out of the system as went in. In fact, this piece of equipment is 285% efficient. That's a lot of "free energy" and, supposedly, a slap in the face for one of physics' most basic laws, the principle of conservation of energy: in an isolated system (the planet, say), energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it can only be converted from one form into another.
"These men think they're about to change the world," Guardian, August 25, 2006 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1858134,00.html
Jensen Comment
John Kenneth Galbraith once said that the Irish should stick to poetry.


From the Scout Report on August 18, 2006

Boston African American Project http://www.bostonafricanamericana.org/ 

Several years ago, the Boston Athenaeum received a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create an online digital archive of materials related to the lives of African Americans in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. Drawing on their own holdings, along with those of The Massachusetts Historical Society and The Bostonian Society, they proved up to the task, and this lovely website is proof of their substantial labors. First-time visitors will want to look at the project overview description to get a sense of the materials that are available here, and after that, they should dive right into the "Collection at a Glance" area. Here they can look over abolition-era broadsheets, political cartoons, illustrations, and some rather evocative portraits of urban life.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Ecosystems Research Division --- http://www.epa.gov/AthensR/ 

Located in Athens, Georgia, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency's Ecosystems Research Division performs research on "approaches to multimedia modeling for landscape, nutrient and chemical stressors of ecosystems." While all of this may sound tremendously complicated, their site does a great job of explaining their work in jargon-free language, along with providing access to their scholarly and research-minded endeavors. On their homepage, visitors can view their latest press releases, take a look at some general EPA resources (such as a chemical contamination calculator), and information about their public seminars. Their "Highlighted Research" area is the one that will be of most interest to the general public, as it contains information on their latest work on such matters as oil spills, gasoline consumption, and brownfields reclamation efforts around the country.


Playing House: Homemaking for Children http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/History/subcollections/ChildHomeEcAbout.shtml 

The world of American domesticity in the late 19th and early 20th century was one that placed a premium on oversight of many aspects of the home. While many instructional devices (such as books and manuals) were created to instruct women in the fine arts of cookery, laundry, and other areas, there were equivalent materials created for young girls. As part of their ongoing work, the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections project has created this digital collection that brings together several of these manuals from this period. All told, the collection contains five such works, including Elizabeth Hale Gilman's "Things Girls Like To Do" from 1917 and her oft- cited work from 1916, "Housekeeping". Each work can be viewed in its entirety, and visitors can also perform searches across the entire collection.


Hotel & Motel Management: Human Resources/Training http://www.hotelmotel.com/hotelmotel/article/articleList.jsp?categoryId=1235 

The world of hotel and motel management is one that has its peaks and valleys, much like any other part of the tourism industry. A number of print publications have been expanding their online offerings as of late, and Hotel & Motel Management is definitely part of this trend. Recently, they began to place some of their archived articles online, including those that deal with on-site dining operations, pest control, and transportation. Another section that is most intriguing is the area of the site that contains the well-written and timely articles on human resources and training in the industry. With pieces on the benefits of training front desk staff and taking advantage of a diverse staff, this resource could be well used by instructors in a hospitality classroom setting or for those seeking professional development updates.


Mozilla Firefox 1.5.0.6 --- http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/ 

Users who may have never tried Mozilla Firefox may want to give this latest version a go, and those who already know the browser well will find several noteworthy new features here. Along with features designed for sophisticated web-browsing, this version of Firefox allows users to reorder tabs by dragging and dropping them. Additionally, cleaning up one's surfing history has gotten even simpler. Of course, users will still find such popular features embedded in the application, including RSS feeds and a download manager. This version of Firefox is compatible with computers running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP.

SharpReader 0.9.7.0 ---  http://www.sharpreader.net/ 

Many savvy computer users use RSS aggregators on a regular basis, and SharpReader may be yet another such device that is worth examining. Along with performing the normal wrangling task of keeping various feeds in order, SharpReader also detects and shows connected items together in a threaded fashion. Finally, the application can also group subscribed feeds into custom categories. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP.

Links for Immigration Studies from the Scout Report on August 18, 2006

Report reveals immigrants coming to live in a wider range of locales throughout the United States Immigrants now head all over the U.S. --- http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/15276948.htm

Area immigrants top 1 million--- Click Here

More foreign-born calling Indy home ---
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060815/NEWS01/608150456/-1/ZONES04

NPR: Pennsylvania Town Takes Stand Against Immigrants ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5649838

Census Bureau Data Show Key Population Changes Across Nation --- http://www.census.gov/

Pew Hispanic Center  --- http://pewhispanic.org/

Forum: How has the influx of immigrants to the U.S. changed the political and cultural landscape?http://news.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=22#respond

From the Mayor's Desk --- http://www.hazletoncity.org/illegal_immigration_petition.htm


Where do you look first when things are stolen in New Orleans?
In its mostly abandoned Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans is building a memorial to Hurricane Katrina victims. On Aug. 16, more than $100,000 worth of construction equipment was delivered to the site; by the morning of the 19th, it was stolen from under the noses of National Guardsmen assigned to protect it. Authorities haven't a clue who stole the machinery or where they took it . . . New Orleans is scheduled to dedicate its Katrina memorial today. If it isn't soon destroyed or stolen, it will stand as a monument to the madness of people who believe if they throw enough money at America's Atlantis, they can defeat the merciless forces of geology, meteorology and time.
Editorial, Republican American, August 27, 2006 --- http://www.rep-am.com/story.php?id=11751
Jensen Comment
When something gets stolen in New Orleans the first place to look is in the police department. I think some "authorities" have a clue.


We're not talking little kids here when we read that "kids" embarrass their parents on blogs
"Many of them don't think they are committing public acts by posting a blog, but the power of search is that it makes it pretty darn easy to find," said Lee Rainey, founding director of Pew. Parents and increasingly school systems are warning children about the implications of posting things on MySpace, for example, he said. But parents are only starting to become aware of their own vulnerability, he said. "Things that used to be inside familiars or within a small audience now have a global audience."
Yuki Noguchi, "Kids Say the Darndest Things in Their Blogs For Parents, It Can Be Embarrassing," The Washington Post, August 22, 2006 --- Click Here 


Somehow this University of Texas study outcome does not surprise me since I think writing about many things helps me appreciate them more. But negative things that I write about something probably increase my negativism.

"Study shows writing about a romantic relationship may help it last longer," PhysOrg, August 22, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75484695.html

Writing about one’s romantic relationship may help it last longer, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin report in this month’s issue of Psychological Science.

In a study titled “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words,” Psychology Professor James Pennebaker and graduate student Richard Slatcher analyzed writing samples from 86 couples. One person from each couple was instructed to write for 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days. Volunteers in one group wrote about their daily activities while those in the second group wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings about the relationship. The participants’ dating partners did not complete any writing task.

The researchers found that 77 percent of volunteers who wrote about their relationship were still dating their partner three months later. In contrast, only 52 percent of people who wrote just about everyday activities stayed with their partner.

The study also showed that those who wrote about their relationship used more words expressing positive emotions such as “happy" and "love" in Instant Message (IM) exchanges with their dating partner during the days following the writing.

“These results demonstrate that people who express more emotion, both in their writing and to their partner, may have the power to improve their relationship’s longevity,” Pennebaker says.

Monitoring IM conversations allowed the researchers to examine the ebb and flow of the participants’ daily conversations in their natural setting, and provided insight into the progression of the relationships after the writing. For example, couples who used more words expressing positive emotions in their IMs after the writing period were more likely to stay together down the road.

Pennebaker and Slatcher believe the connection between writing and improving one’s relationship may extend beyond the realm of dating couples.

“That people may enhance their romantic relationships by simply writing down their thoughts and feelings about those relationships has clear implications,” Pennebaker says. “The use of expressive writing as a tool for relationship enhancement could be applied to those in families, circles of friends and even work groups.”


There's certainly no surprise in this Iowa State University study outcome.
Democratic presidential prospects have targeted the world's largest retailer for its business and employment tactics. Last week, Wal-Mart posted its first profit decline in a decade. But according to an Iowa State University professor who has researched the chain's grocery division, Wal-Mart remains as strong as ever in grocery because of its efficient supply chain management strategies that allows it to offer lower prices to consumers. The retail giant is known for driving down prices throughout an area, and driving out some local competition in the process.
"Wal-Mart can be good news, bad news to communities, ISU researcher says," PhysOrg, August 22, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75483161.html
Jensen Comment
And just guess what happened to most New Hampshire Wal-Mart parking spaces when Vermont put the kabash on building of new Wal-Mart stores? Nothing but green license plates as far as the eye can see! And Wal-Mart is building new stores in New Hampshire alongside states like Maine and Massachusetts that did not deliberately put the kabash on new Wal-Mart stores. But guess what? New Hampshire is the only state that did not up the legal minimum wage when all other New England state set minimum wages much higher than the Federal requirement.


"More Than Ivy in U.S. News’ College Rankings," AccountingWeb, August 22, 2006 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102486

Breaking a three year tie with Harvard, Princeton ranked first among National Universities in U.S. News and World Report’s annual guide “America’s Best Colleges”. It is the seventh straight year Princeton had been at least tied for the top ranking. National Universities are only one of the four categories of colleges and universities ranked by the guide.

College presidents pay close attention to the annual rankings but question how much they actually say about the quality of education at any institution. Betsy Muhlenfeld, president of Sweet Briar College, a liberal arts school in Virginia, told the Lynchburg News and Advance that in many ways the rankings miss the point. “It says nothing about whether the college actually delivers or whether student learning is actually taking place.” But, she added, “We want to make sure that the public perception of the college does not fall.”

The comprehensive guide ranks 248 National Universities with undergraduate, masters and doctoral programs, 217 Liberal Arts Colleges, 557 Masters Universities, which have masters’ degree programs and 320 Comprehensive Colleges which grant fewer than 50 percent of their degrees in the liberal arts. The Master’s Universities, Liberal Arts colleges, and Comprehensive Colleges are also given rankings by region.

The model for ranking assigns weighted values to peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty and financial resources, selectivity and alumni giving. The most important ranking, given a weight of 25 percent of the total, is the peer assessment, U.S. News says.

Liberty University’s founder, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, was pleased that the school was included in the ranking this year for the first time. The university in Lynchburg, Virginia, was ranked 105th in the Southern Region among the Master’s universities and is also profiled in U.S. News and World Report. “We have worked for years to build our numbers, to build our finances, to build our athletic programs and to erect our buildings,” he said, according to the News and Advance.

Other schools that were less happy with their ranking included the University of Arkansas, which remained in the third tier of National Universities this year, a category assigned to the lowest ranking quarter of each group, according to a report in the Northwest Arkansas Morning News. The third tier is not numbered. Arkansas has had a low six-year graduation rate, 56 percent, and high acceptance rates, admitting 87 percent of applicants. While faring somewhat better, with a numbered ranking in the first tier, the University of Arizona was tied for 98 with several other schools, hurt this year also by low retention and graduation rates, the Arizona Republic says.

“Overall, private colleges and universities do better on several measures in our ranking model,” U. S. News and Report says, “including student selectivity, graduation and retention rates, and class size.” The top-ranked public university was the University of California at Berkeley.

Graduate programs in business and engineering are ranked separately. The top business schools among the national universities were University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan), University of California – Berkeley (Hass) and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The last two schools are public universities.

All of the top colleges, nationally and regionally, in the Comprehensive Colleges and Master’s Universities categories offer accounting programs, although these programs are not ranked. Villanova University in Pennsylvania, Rollins College in Florida, James Madison University in Virginia, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Carroll College in Montana are among the highest ranking schools in these categories. Most national universities also offer accounting programs.

Brigham Young University (BYU) was cited for its undergraduate accounting program, which ranked fifth among the unspecified specialty categories, deseretnews reports. BYU also ranked 12th nationally with students and graduates having the lowest debt burden. “This is something we take very seriously at BYU,” spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said. “We even provide a program for our students that that can analyze their financial situation and determine if it is wise for them to go into debt and how much, looking to how much they’ll make when they graduate and the cost of the debt when they graduate.”

BYU ranked 19th on a separate national universities list of “Great Schools, Great Prices,” along with Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Duke and Brown, deseretnews reports. “We are particularly pleased in the company we share on that list,” Jenkins said.

U.S. News sends out an extensive questionnaire each year to all accredited four-year colleges and universities, and schools report their information directly to the publication.

Bob Jensen's threads on the controversies surrounding media rankings of colleges are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#BusinessSchoolRankings


More Ivy at Yahoo: Future Depends on Fundamental Research by Academics

"Lab Test:  Hoping to Overtake Its Rivals, Yahoo Stocks Up on Academics Economists and Search Gurus Fill New Research Team; Data-Rich Fantasy Land Looming Privacy Concerns," by Kevin J. Delaney, The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2006; Page A1 --- Click Here

Yahoo was blindsided by Google's sophisticated Web search. One of Yahoo's advertising-sales techniques also underperforms its rival's, and when Yahoo said last month that a revamp would be delayed, the company's stock fell 22%, its largest-ever one-day drop. Despite having one of the world's biggest user bases, Yahoo hasn't fully benefited from hot phenomena such as online video and social networking, a service offered by sites such as MySpace.com.

The research push, "has huge consequences for the business if we do things right," says Usama Fayyad, Yahoo's chief data officer.

Central to Yahoo's goal is its ability to record what millions of consumers do every day, and to study how changes to the company's Web services affect their behavior. Internet companies in the past have largely lacked the systems and focus to mine data for research, but now they're viewing it as a key competitive pursuit. For economists, Web operations are data-rich fantasy lands where they can observe in real-time the behavior of millions of consumers in varied marketplaces far more effectively than ever before.

One potential obstacle to collecting and analyzing a vast amount of data is customer privacy, particularly in the wake of concerns stirred up by Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit earlier this summer. It inadvertently released a slew of information relating to users' search queries.

In addition, tech companies have a mixed record of translating research into profit. Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center is widely credited with inventing several key features of modern computing in the 1970s. But it was Apple Computer Inc. and others that capitalized. Google, with such cautionary tales in mind, sprinkles researchers through its product groups, supplementing a small, standalone research unit. Some Yahoo staffers question whether the company's engineers have the time or inclination to implement ideas from the research team.

Continued in article


I hope there's a special place in hell for Bruce D. Hopfengardner

"Ex-officer admits kickbacks in Iraq," Fredericksburg.com, August 26, 2006 ---  http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2006/082006/08262006/216968

A former U.S. Army Reserve officer from Spotsylvania County admitted yesterday that he steered millions of dollars in Iraq-reconstruction contracts in trade for jewelry, computers, cigars and sexual favors.

Bruce D. Hopfengardner, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud.

Hopfengardner served as a special adviser to the U.S.-led occupation, recommending funding for projects on law-enforcement facilities in Iraq.

He admitted conspiring with Philip H. Bloom, a U.S. citizen with businesses in Romania, Robert J. Stein Jr., a former Defense Department contract official, and others to create a corrupt bidding process that included the theft of $2 million in reconstruction money.

Hopfengardner is the first military officer to plead guilty in the conspiracy. Bloom and Stein already have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the scheme.

Hopfengardner's role was to recommend that the Coalition Provisional Authority fund projects to demolish the Ba'ath Party headquarters, rebuild a police academy and construct various other facilities.

Bloom, who controlled companies in Iraq and Romania, bid on projects using dummy corporations. Stein ensured that one of the firms was awarded the contract, according to court documents.

The businessman allegedly showered Hopfengardner and Stein with cash, cars, premium airline seats, jewelry, alcohol and even sexual favors from women at his Baghdad villa.

"A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army today admits to a disturbing abuse of his position, in scheming with others to defraud the government for their own personal and financial gain," Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said in a statement.

Court papers said Hopfengardner demanded that Bloom pay for a white 2004 GMC Yukon Denali with a sandstone interior. At Hopfengardner's request, Bloom also allegedly paid the air fare for Hopfengardner and his wife to travel from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while he was on leave in January 2004.

E-mails that prosecutors made public in April show that Bloom told his employees to spare no expense in satisfying the officials who controlled contracts in the CPA's regional office in Hillah, about 50 miles south of Baghdad.

As part of the plea agreement, Hopfengardner surrendered a car, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, camera equipment, a Breitling watch valued at $5,700 and a computer. He also agreed to forfeit $144,500, prosecutors said.

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/

Latest Headlines on August 25, 2006

Latest Headlines on August 26, 2006

Latest Headlines on August 29, 2006

Latest Headlines on August 30, 2006

 


News Flash:  Epilepsy Seizures May Become a Thing of the Past
Researchers at MIT are developing a device that could detect and prevent epileptic seizures before they become debilitating. Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide, and while anticonvulsant medications can reduce the frequency of seizures, the drugs are ineffective for as many as one in three patients. The new treatment builds on an existing treatment for epilepsy, the Cyberonics Inc. vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which is often used in patients who do not respond to drugs. A defibrillator typically implanted under the patient's collar bone stimulates the left vagus nerve about every five minutes, which has been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in many patients.
"Epilepsy breakthrough on horizon," PhysOrg, August 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76257854.html


News Flash:  Baldness (at least some kinds) May Become a Thing of the Past
In a finding that could help treat an inherited form of baldness, a research team in Britain said Wednesday it has discovered a protein "code" that instructs cells to sprout hair. By sending the code to more cells than usual, the scientists at the University of Manchester in northwest England say they were able to breed mice with more fur -- a feat that could potentially be replicated in humans.
"Scientists in Britain report baldness breakthrough," PhysOrg, August 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76183228.html


Sunscreens can damage skin, researchers find
Are sunscreens always beneficial, or can they be detrimental to users? A research team led by UC Riverside chemists reports that unless people out in the sun apply sunscreen often, the sunscreen itself can become harmful to the skin. When skin is exposed to sunlight, ultraviolet radiation (UV) is absorbed by skin molecules that then can generate harmful compounds, called reactive oxygen species or ROS, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause "oxidative damage." For example, ROS can react with cellular components like cell walls, lipid membranes, mitochondria and DNA, leading to skin damage and increasing the visible signs of aging.
"Sunscreens can damage skin, researchers find," PhysOrg, August 29, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76031408.html


Early warning for schizophrenia found in spinal fluid
There is currently no diagnostic test for schizophrenia, which affects around one in every 100 people. Diagnosis of the condition through clinical interviews and patient observations can be difficult and time-consuming, due to its wide range of symptoms and its similarity to other mental disorders . . . The study, published today in PLoS Medicine, shows that newly diagnosed schizophrenic patients have higher levels of glucose in their brain and spinal fluid than healthy individuals. Scientists hope these findings could be used for early diagnosis and treatment of the condition and could help them to develop more effective drugs.
PhysOrg, August 22, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75475660.html


Self-harm 'most pressing health issue for teenage girls
In the survey of more than 6,000 pupils aged 15 and 16, girls were four times more likely to have engaged in self-harm than boys. Three per cent of boys were harming themselves last year, compared with 11 per cent of girls.
Sarah Womack, "Self-harm 'most pressing health issue for teenage girls'," London Telegraph, August 23, 2006 --- Click Here


"Health Tip: Soothe the Itch of Hives:  How to stay comfortable until they go away," HealthDay, August 23, 2006 --- http://www.healthday.com/view.cfm?id=534449

Hives are red, welt-like bumps that appear on the skin as a result of an allergic reaction to a drug, food or other substance. While they should go away without treatment, hives can be very irritating, itchy and even painful.

The National Library of Medicine offers these tips on how to reduce discomfort while waiting for hives to heal:

* An over-the-counter antihistamine will help control itching. Your doctor may also prescribe an antihistamine or give you a shot.

* Dab calamine lotion on the welts. This should help your skin feel cooler, less irritated, and reduce some itching. * Place a cool compress over your skin to soothe pain, itchiness and swelling. Try taking a cool bath if the hives cover your body.

* Don't take a hot bath or shower -- the hot water may only irritate the skin.

* Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.


Question
What do we call many snuff addicts?

Answer
Fatsos!

"Study: Snuff users tend to obesity," PhysOrg, August 25, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75739621.html
Jensen Comment
Of course this begs the age-old correlation research question of whether snuff causes obesity or whether obese persons tend to turn to other cravings like snus to reduce their desire to constantly eat. This makes a good example to use in class when explaining cause versus correlation if Yate's stork-birthrate correlation in Denmark example is growing stale.


Question
Study finds tea more healthy than water, but was this a truly independent study?

"Tea seen as healthier than water," PhysOrg, August 25, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75646716.html

British researchers say consuming tea is healthier than drinking water not only for hydration but for other benefits. They recommend drinking three or more cups of tea a day, the BBC reports.

The findings by health nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton and colleagues at Kings College London appears in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The BBC report said the study helps dispel the popular notion tea dehydrates. It said tea not only re-hydrates as well as water, but claimed it also protects against heart disease because of its health-promoting flavonoids, which helps prevent cell damage.

Ruxton said tea replaces fluids and also contains antioxidants.

"Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid," she said. "Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth."

The BBC report said the Tea Council provided funding for the work, but Ruxton said the study was independent.

Bob Jensen's threads on "Appearance Versus the Reality of Research Independence and Freedom" are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ResearchIndependence


From the Scout Report on August 25, 2006

Selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection http://international.loc.gov/intldl/naxihtml/naxihome.html 

Residing today primarily in the northwestern part of China’s Yunnan province near the Tibetan and Burmese borders, the Naxi people are one of China’s fifty-six ethnic national minorities in the country. Their kingdom flourished for close to a thousand years, and along the way they created a language that used primarily pictographs. Recently, the Library of Congress completed cataloging their tremendous collection of Naxi manuscripts, and since that time, they have also created this online presentation. The materials available here include 185 manuscripts, a 39 foot funerary scroll, and an annotated catalog. Visitors may wish to start by reading the overview of the collection, then continue on to search all of the documents here by subject, keyword, or title. Visitors should not miss the lovely “Warrior riding a white cow” or the fragmentary, yet powerful, “Serpent King”.


Doing Business --- http://www.doingbusiness.org/ 

Several years ago, the World Bank became concerned about the business climate and environment in different countries around the world. After a time, they decided to embark on the creation of a database that would provide indicators of the cost of doing business in various countries. With a keen eye towards looking at existing laws and regulations in each country, their team of researchers looked at such topics as starting a business, protecting investors, paying taxes, getting credit, among others. Visitors with an interest in such matters can download their annual reports, view country specific reports (such as “Doing Business in Brazil”), and also take advantage of 155 printable country data profiles. Additionally, visitors can view the study’s complete methodology and also compare economies on various metrics.


National Academy of Sciences: InterViews ---
http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer?pagename=INTERVIEWS_Main 

The National Academy of Sciences has over 2000 members, and they have all distinguished themselves in one of the many learned fields, ranging from biology to geography. In an attempt to offer the general public insights into the lives and careers of some of their members, they have created the InterViews website. As its name implies, the site consists of “first-person accounts of the lives and work of National Academy of Sciences members.” Each interview is about an hour long, and visitors can view the currently available interviews alphabetically or by subject area. There are a number of revealing moments here, such as Roger Beachy’s recollections of his father’s love of nature and Robert Kirshner’s work on supernovas.


Electronic Privacy Information Center  
(Last reviewed in the Scout Report on June 13, 1997)
http://www.epic.org/ 

When the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) was started in 1994, there were already substantial privacy issues surrounding the collection and use of electronic data at play. Since that time, such issues have grown exponentially in their scope, and EPIC continues to perform valuable research in the area. A good place to start exploring their site is right on the homepage, namely their collection of resources on domestic surveillance. Here visitors can read white papers, view letters from government officials on these programs, and also listen to speeches on the subject. For their own personal protection, visitors may want to look over the practical privacy tools offered here, such as anonymous surfing applications and secure instant messaging. Additionally, the “Policy Issues” section contains helpful resources and news updates on free speech, voting, and a privacy “A to Z” primer.


MyTunes RSS 2.2.3 [iTunes] --- http://www.codewave.de/products/mytunesrss/ 

As more and more music listening and storage applications continue to tout their competitive advantages, users are drawn closer to some of them than others. iTunes is a popular choice for some, and this latest application will allow persons using that program to access their iTunes library from any computer connected through a network. Visitors can create RSS feeds in their browser, and of course, just browse and search their libraries as they see fit. This application will work on any system that utilizes iTunes and Java Runtime 1.5.


SurveillizCam Lite 1.14 --- http://www.novosun.com/ 

For users with a web cam or video capture card, SurveillezCam 1.14 will be a real find. With this application, users can use their home computer as a way to monitor their home or office while they are away. The application has the ability to detect motion and log surveillance video into AVI as well. Visitors will also be monitored of abnormal motion via a sound alarm or live videos. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 or XP.



August 25, 2006 message from Cyndi

Bob,
I just wanted to thank you for your website of the SpaceGirl song. I have 14 year old twin boys and taught them the song when they were 5 but could never find the record or artist. It was a 45 I had in my childhood collection that disappeared. I was floored when I simply typed in some of the lyrics to the song and it brought up your web page on the search engine. After some investigating I found your webpage and I have to compliment you on your layout. So many interesting links and surprises! Keep up the good work. I just wanted to let you know you've put a smile on my family!

Sincerely,
Cyndi

August 26, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Cyndi,

Messages like the one above make my life worthwhile.

Thank you for the nice words. I highlight new additions to video, music, photographs, art, and electronic literature in my weekly editions of Tidbits at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm 

Bob Jensen


Book Recommendation:  A Sound Like Thunder (if you liked To Kill a Mockingbird)

The reclusive Harper Lee rarely blurbs books, but she has done so now, praising Sonny Brewer's "A Sound Like Thunder" as "memorable," among other things. We would all do well to believe her. The author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" may be taken as an authority on the kind of coming-of-age story that Mr. Brewer has written so well. The setting of "A Sound Like Thunder" is Fairhope, Ala., just across the bay from Mobile. The time is the eve of World War II. The sensitive narrator is the teenage Rover MacNee, whose life, when we meet him, is centered on the water and the commercial culture surrounding it. He is ardent about sailing and about learning to throw a cast net -- there is a certain art to the bay's saltwater fishing. Rove's father is himself a formidable commercial fisherman, stoic and physically imposing. The novel picks up just as he has fallen into a violent stupor of alcoholism, something that puzzles his son and frightens him.
"A SOUND LIKE THUNDER," The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2006 --- Click Here
 


Behavior Unbecoming of an Auditor

Forwarded on August 25, 2006 by Jagdish S. Gangolly [j.gangolly@ALBANY.EDU]

BEIJING (Reuters) - A 25-year-old auditor in China apparently ate and drank himself to death while he was supposed to be inspecting a government department, a state newspaper said Friday.

Zhang Hongtao went to many banquets organized by a power company in northern China's Hebei province in April, and instead of working did little else but eat, drink, play cards and enjoy massages, the official China Daily said.

He collapsed and died following one of the banquets, after which "his team and two officials from the electricity bureau traveled for a sightseeing tour around east China," the report said.

"Zhang's colleagues said most of them were too upset over the death to stay in the office, so they went to Yangzhou to relax," it added, referring to a city in eastern Jiangsu province renowned for its gardens.

The National Auditors' Office said the incident had "marred the image and influenced the public's trust" of the government body, which is supposed to be at the forefront of a high-profile campaign against corruption.

Auditors are not allowed to be entertained by departments or companies they are inspecting, according to a 2000 rule, the report said.


From The Washington Post on August 25, 2006

What does the name of the Linux operating system, Ubuntu, mean in both the Zulu and Xhosa languages?

A. Humanity toward others
B. Cloudless sky
C. Liberty for all
D. Peace be with you





Forwarded by Mike Gasior

SLACKING FOR PROFESSIONALS

 

I saw a statistic the other day that stated that slacking at work cost U.S. corporations $544 billion during 2005, and that 87% of employees in the United States have reported being angry about colleagues they felt didn't pull their weight at the office.

 

Well, I'm now 25 years into my "professional" life, and my current business allows me to be present in wide array of corporate offices every single year, allowing me to see some of the best corporate screw-offs in the world today. I'm not talking about the obvious, lazy slob who everybody clearly knows is useless. This list of traits I am about to share with you, are the techniques that are employed by the world's finest slackers. You all know the type of people that I'm talking about too; the person who the boss considers one of the best employees in the department, but who truthfully does very little at all. It's quite a science really.

 

Although I am going to frame these behaviors I've observed as sort of a "How to Manual" for how to be a more successful slacker, I hope it will help bosses and colleagues` around the world bust these corporate cheaters once and for all.

 

So here are the keys to professional goofing off.

 

1) Always act impatient and irritated

 

When you appeared annoyed and agitated all the time, people tend to think that you must just be way too busy. This technique works wonderfully on two fronts, since some people will be afraid to add to your already heavy workload, while others will just want to avoid this cranky jerk.

 

2) Multitasking

 

It is critically important to make certain you are at least somewhat associated with as many projects as possible (but obviously in no important sort of way) so you will always have an excuse on why some work didn't get done. "I've been so buried with Project A, I just haven't had any time to get that stuff done on Project B. Sorry boss."

 

3) Make lists

 

Make sure to write down every possible thing you might do, even including stuff like "check voicemail" and leave the list in a prominent spot on your desk with a couple of the things scratched off. This will give anybody stopping by an idea how you are swamped with stuff to take care, and with only a few items crossed off your extensive list they might think twice before they burden you with anything more. Not to mention that your list making actually makes you look organized and diligent.

 

4) Keep a pretty messy desk

 

Really hard working people have no free time to be cleaning their desks, so nothing screams "VERY BUSY" more than a disaster on your desktop. After all, with all the projects you have going on, you NEED all those piles, right?

 

5) Always have lots of windows open on your computer monitor

 

This is basically the oldest trick in the book, but with 4 spreadsheets, 5 emails and an open word processing document all open at the same time, it makes the Spider Solitaire and eBay windows very difficult for anyone who unexpectedly walks into your workspace to detect. It also conveys the sense of how busy you are.

 

6) Carry documents EVERYWHERE you go

 

Never leave your desk without at least a few memos, folders, notebooks, binders or papers of some kind with you. This gives the appearance that you're always on your way to somewhere important and related to business, versus just heading to the coffee machine or the restroom to read Sports Illustrated.

 

7) Document your time in the office

 

Whenever you find yourself in the office unusually early or late, make certain to send you boss emails or leave voicemails that will time stamp your extreme hours. It doesn't really matter that the only reason you were in the office at 8:00 p.m. was because you forgot your concert tickets in your top drawer. All that matters is that you WERE actually there, and not much else really does.

 

8) Drink tons and tons of coffee

 

Nothing screams "I'm so freakin' busy" more than sucking down gigantic buckets of coffee all day long. Every time you go on a coffee machine run, make sure to announce to the boss how you are in critical need of a "caffeine fix". Plus, all this caffeine will help you with my first suggestion of always being impatient and irritable.

 

So those are my observations, and if any of you know some other beauties, I would love to hear about them.

 




Forwarded by Dick Haar

According to the source of the original e-mail, every year college English teachers from across the country submit their collections of analogies and metaphors found in essays to a competition. Here are the winners from a couple years ago ...

01. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

02. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

03. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse, without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

04. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

05. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

06. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

07. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

08. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

09. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m Instead of 7:30

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. Traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. At a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.




More Tidbits from the Chronicle of Higher Education --- http://www.aldaily.com/

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/.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu  

 

 




 

Tidbits on September 7, 2006
Bob Jensen

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/.


Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

 

Click here to search this Website 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/


Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )




Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

President Bush Press Conference --- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1921276117304287501 

Pipe Dream has been voted one of the best 3D animation projects ever (by 3D World magazine) ---
Click Here

Free Music Videos --- http://www6.islandrecords.com/site/home.php

100 Years of Pictures (turn up your speakers) --- http://usaattacked.com/100_years_of_pictures.htm

Pixsy's updates on free news videos --- http://www.pixsy.com/search.aspx?cat=12

 


Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

New from Jessie
In the Garden --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/inthegarden.htm
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on

Marni Nixon: Hollywood's Invisible Voice --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5751867
Jensen Comment
I once listened to a marvelous concert by Marni Nixon at the Magestic in San Antonio. She has an amazing voice and voice control.

Sarah Vaughan's Unlikeliest Jazz Classic --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5732357

Three Decades of Pop Music, Colliding at Once --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5732930

Blog Music Net --- http://blogmusik.net/

AM Radio Gets a Modern Sheen --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5713293


Photographs and Art

August 30, 2006 message from Trey Dunn
Thought maybe if you were missing Trinity yet you could catch up on some good times! I have taken a bunch of pictures around campus and have them up if you are interested. Enjoy the mild summer there where you are! -Trey
http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/trinity.htm

What a Beautiful Blue Planet --- http://home.att.net/%7Ehideaway_fun/442/planet.htm

Sonja Mueller Photography (with sounds of nature) --- http://www.sonjamueller.org/

Magic Media --- http://www.magic.be/

Zullo Photography --- http://www.zullophoto.com/

Photos and Images of World War II --- http://www.ww2incolor.com/

Are alien's from outer space stealing our cows? --- http://www.cowabduction.com/

Nicoletta --- http://www.nicoletta.info/eng_htm/principal_eng.htm

Lunarium --- http://www.luminarium.org/lumina.htm

Fractal World Gallery --- http://www.enchgallery.com/fractals/fracthumbs.htm

Surrealism --- http://www.luc.edu/depts/history/dennis/Visual_Arts/page_Surrealism.htm

LookAtBook --- http://www.lookatbook.com/

Modern Paintings --- http://www.fredgatesdesign.com/painting/
Also see http://www.charisma-art.com/landscape_paintings/
From Viet Nam --- http://www.thavibu.com/vietnam/dao_hai_phong/VIE1500.htm

Tamera de Lempicka --- http://tamara-lempicka.com/

Painting Trees --- http://painting.about.com/library/weekly/aatrees1a.htm

Where Cloning Goes Wrong --- http://www.dnaco.net/~vogelke/pictures/when-cloning-goes-wrong/

Iran's Holocaust cartoon exhibition ---
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6332204D-7694-40B2-B134-06ADB6A47CD3.htm
 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Planet eBook --- http://www.planetebook.com/

The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form --- http://www.oedilf.com/db/Lim.php

A Photographer'S Day Out by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) --- Click Here

The Lesson of the Master by Henry James (1843-1916) --- Click Here

Lady Susan by Jane Austen (1775-1817) --- Click Here

History News Network --- http://hnn.us/

The Heritage of the Great War --- http://www.greatwar.nl/

Don Mabry's Historical Text Archive --- http://historicaltextarchive.com/

Motivational Quotations --- http://www.quotemeonit.com/handey.html





Not everything that can be counted, counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.
Albert Einstein

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.
Albert Einstein

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Albert Einstein

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.
Niels Bohr (1885-1962) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niels_Bohr

The problem with history is that it gets old in a hurry, falling from our forward vision into the peripheral, then tumbling to the rearview mirror with astonishing swiftness until it fades into a tiny speck fighting for space on the limited chip of memory.
Ron Sirak --- http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/features/tigerwoods/index
Jensen Comment
Paraphrasing a lyric by Buddy Holly, "Happiness is history in my rear view mirror." The literal Buddy Holly quotation is "Happiness is Lubbock in my rear view mirror."

Finally, I grew bored of looking through proof that I was an airhead 30 years ago. I am so glad I grew out of that stage of my life. I moved the books to the pile of things we are just not sure about yet, and I joined my husband on the couch. I did not want to miss a minute of "Big Brother All-Stars".
Felice Prager when sorting old books out of her library, "Dispensing With the Indispensable," The Irascible Professor, August 31, 2006 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-08-31-06.htm

Talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh will reportedly join Katie Couric this week on the CBS Evening News to help launch the former "Today" show host in her new duties as anchor at the Tiffany network.
"Report: Katie Couric scores Rush Limbaugh:  Radio giant to appear on CBS Evening News to help launch new anchor," WorldNetDaily, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51815

In an article for The Guardian, feminist and activist Germaine Greer announces: "The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin." Irwin was lauded as a fine conservationist because he deplored the slaughter of crocodiles and had purchased large tracts of land to keep their habitat alive. He was the face of a quarantine campaign, designed to keep foreign pests out of Australia. But Greer said he was "an entertainer, a 21st-century version of a lion tamer, with crocodiles instead of lions".
Caroline Overington, "Greer sticks in a barb of her own," The Australian, September 6, 2006 --- http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20361926-601,00.html




The first Muslim to be crowned Miss England has warned that stereotyping members of her community is leading some towards extremism . . . Even moderate Muslims are turning to terrorism to prove themselves. They think they might as well support it because they are stereotyped anyway.
Daily Mail, August 31, 2006 --- Click Here

Pundits have overwhelming supported the notion that illiteracy, poverty and deprivation are the prime reasons behind the surge in Islamic radicalization and vioelnce in recent years. But a careful analysis of the socio-economic factors of the Muslim world does not support such a hypothesis at all. But in stead, better education and economic prosperity appear to be the primers, not the remedy, of Islamic radicalization and violence.
Alamgir Hussain, "Reasons behind Islamic Terrorism: Illiteracy, Poverty and Deprivation?" Islam Watch, September 1, 2006 --- http://www.islam-watch.org/AlamgirHussain/CausesofTerrorism.htm

If you live long enough, you'll see every victory turn into a defeat.
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_de_Beauvoir

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
Yogi Berra

A Harvard Historian Writes a Scenario for the Years Up to Year 2031
Did the U.S. overreact to Sept. 11? Niall Ferguson, one of the world's leading historians, speculates on how future generations will judge the war on terrorism--and on what it will take for America to win it.

One of Professor Ferguson's conclusions is that the U.S. wasted its pre-emptive strike against terrorism on Iraq when it should've saved it up for a more reasoned resistance against a power grab by Iran. Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in effect will, according to Professor Ferguson, allow  fundamentalist Islamic clerics in Iran to take Persian control of the entire Middle East. In other words the U.S. overreacted to the 9/11 terror strike without assessing its impact in solidifying the Islamic extremist power base in the Middle East.

I don't agree entirely with this criticism of the Coalition strikes after 9/11. Without taking out Saddam, a power-hungry and U.S.-hating Saddam would've obtained weapons of serious mass destruction. Without taking on bin Laden in Afghanistan and suppressing the power base of Al-Qaida (or Al Qaeda), bin Laden's Arabic terror power base would've mushroomed like wildfire in Arabic nations. While building an unrestrained and energized terror network, Al-Qaida after 9/11would've captured control of Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries that, in turn, would've held Iran in check --- but at the price of even worse prospects for terrorism in the U.S. and Europe.

With no immediate Coalition military strikes after 9/11, fundamentalist takeovers of the Middle East would've been much quicker and given power to fundamentalist Arabic rather than fundamentalist Persian (Iranian) factions. And the explosive power centers would've been bin Laden and Saddam, which I think is what some Arab leaders greatly feared after 9/11 in nations like Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Kuwait, Qatar and other Arab nations currently fighting Al-Qaida. While building up the fear of Iran, Professor Ferguson makes no mention of the dangers of unrestrained Saddam and bin Laden fanatics.

Professor Ferguson marginalizes Saddam as a madman in Iraq. Professor Ferguson ignores the scenario of what would've happened if Saddam remained in power and eventually faced off against bin Laden after 9/11. Saddam may have teamed up with bin Laden to capture control of the Middle East and Africa. On the other hand, it's more likely that Saddam would've  declared war on bin Laden, and who knows what might've happened at that juncture? Saddam certainly had more oil and other resources to buy/build weapons of mass destruction. But an almost non-religious Saddam was not nearly as popular in the world of Islam as the devout prophet Osama bin Laden. Osama probably would've lost some key battles while winning the war against Saddam if the U.S. and other Coalition forces had not intervened to take out Saddam. But the Middle East may have been covered in nuclear fallout in a Saddam-Osama bin Laden war just like it was covered with smoke from Kuwait's oil wells set on fire when a vindictive Saddam was forced to retreat in the Gulf War.

I think people critical of our going to war in Iraq play down the real danger of the revenge-crazed and power-hungry Saddam following his defeat in the Gulf War. They rant and rave about mistakes we made after moving into Iraq, but they don't mention how unsafe we were with Saddam rebuilding his war machine, e.g., see the typical Bush-bashing rants and raves in "The World After 9/11:  Amy Davidson talks to Seymour M. Hersh, Jon Lee Anderson, and George Packer about Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terror, and whether America is stronger now," The New Yorker, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.newyorker.com/online/content/articles/060911on_onlineonly02
PS:  Seymour Hersh was recently singled out by bin Laden as a Western friend of  Al-Qaida. See below!

Another scenario that Professor Ferguson avoids is the dangerous reluctance of Israel to easily give up with millions of Jews fleeing from the Middle East in surrender of the Jewish Holy Land to Iran. I'm more inclined to predict greater use of weapons of mass destruction by all warring sides that will leave an impatient Iran very saddened by trying to take Israel out with force.

Professor Ferguson also marginalizes and/or exaggerates some key players that will confront Islamic terrorists between the Years 2006 and 2031. Perhaps he's correct in marginalizing European nations that already show signs, in terminal economic sickness, of caving in to inside and outside forces, but I'm not so ready to believe that Islam will concede Europe to Russia as predicted by Professor Ferguson. The Red Bear proved to be the downfall of Napoleon and Hitler. Russia may well be the force that nukes Iran if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei points his bombs and terrorist cells toward Russia and Europe. Professor Ferguson predicts that Russia rather than Iran will control Europe with oil economics, but Europe has millions of Islamic loyalists that may bring an easily frightened Europe under Islamic control. Russia will most likely not unleash its nuclear and biological fury on the Middle East for the sake of Europe but it will most certainly do so for the sake of Mother Russia. Hence Iran will most likely not take on the Bear.

Professor Ferguson marginalizes China by predicting an economic meltdown in the Far East. China will nevertheless remain dominant in the Far East, but in a weakened economic condition China will not take over the world according to Professor Ferguson. This is a highly unlikely scenario in my judgment. I think China will become the dominant economic and military force of the world as the U.S. succumbs to hyperinflation, bloated entitlement programs, wasted trillions in futile efforts to become the world's police force, energy shortages, an unstoppable tide of millions upon millions of illegal border crossings, and loss of national identity that characterized the legal immigrant culture between 1776 and 2016 before the internal U.S. cultural wars commencing around Year 2016.

Professor Ferguson also marginalizes South America, a continent that may successfully resist the spread of Islam while sitting on the world's largest oil reserves, i.e., possibly more oil reserves and other resources than in all the Middle East. He also marginalizes the role of India as both a nuclear power resisting Islam and as an economic hurricane in global affairs. My own prediction is that China, India, and South America, particularly Brazil, will dominate the global economy to fill the vacuum left by an entitlement-deflated (with inflated dollars) and retreating (under the guise of protectionism) United States. See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

And what about the United States in 2031?
Professor Ferguson predicts that technological and economic miracles (i.e., reduced entitlement programs and energy technologies) will leave the U.S. alive as a non-global bottom feeder marginalized by the three global powers of Persia, Russia, and China. Where Israel, South America, Africa, India and Canada end up is uncertain in Professor Ferguson's scenario.  Presumably Persia will take over all of Africa and possibly India if India resists using its weapons of mass destruction. In this regard, the land of Gandhi is less dangerous than Israel in my viewpoint, although Professor Ferguson ignores any possibility of nuclear/biological winter.

Presumably both South and North America will become mere bit players as the three superpowers (Persia, Russia, and China) on the opposite side of the earth face each other off in Cold War amidst global warming. Israel may just give up, without war, in economic despair if Iran stops provoking Israel while the U.S. crashes as a superpower propping up Israel with guns and greenbacks. Personally I don't think Iran has that kind of patience and may well trigger World War III before Professor Ferguson's peaceful Cold War scenario can play itself out.

Ferguson's probably correct that the U.S. along with its dreams of world democracies will probably "fall to earth" under any reasonable scenario at this juncture. Contrary to what both Bush supporters and the Bush bashers argue, the U.S. fall to earth will happen irrespective of any action taken by the U.S. and its allies after 9/11. Islam was going to rise up against the "Great Satan" under any scenario commencing with 9/11..Remember that the U.S. had not yet invaded Iraq when bin Laden unleashed his 9/11 war of terror against the U.S.

The only question five years ago was whether the terrorism victory would eventually be celebrated by Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, or Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Professor Ferguson opts for Khamenei now that we've taken out Saddam and weakened bin Laden. I think it would've been bin Laden if we saved our pre-emptive strikes for Iran as recommended by Professor Ferguson.

Before we unleashed any military might on Iran in a delayed pre-emptive strike proposed by Professor Ferguson, Iran would've been marginalized by Saddam and/or bin Laden. Saddam most likely would've been taken out by bin Laden's terror cells in Iraq before Saddam got nuclear bombs. In the meantime, all of the Middle East would've succumbed to Al-Qaida terror as millions of Arabs and Persians pledged allegiance to Prophet bin Laden.

In any case democracy as we once experimented with it for a few hundred years in North America is doomed under any probable scenario, especially the scenario of Professor Ferguson where he predicts that worldwide future elections and freedoms will become  more of a "sham" than they are today.

"The Nation That Fell To Earth," by Niall Ferguson, Time Magazine Cover Story. September 11, 2006 --- Click Here

By the fall of 2003, just two years after the 9/11 attacks, doubts had begun to creep back in. The most striking manifestation of American miscalculation was the refusal of Iraqis to peacefully embrace the nascent democracy created for them by U.S. arms. Far from abating, violence in Iraq increased over time. Part of the problem was the insufficiency of U.S. boots on the ground. General Eric Shinseki turned out to have been right that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Trying to do the job with around 135,000--roughly 1 American for every 210 Iraqis--exposed a part of the spectrum that the U.S. could not fully dominate: the Arab street. U.S. soldiers patrolling strife-torn cities could be killed or maimed by the simplest of improvised explosive devices. Here was a new and shocking symmetry in warfare.

By the fall of 2003, just two years after the 9/11 attacks, doubts had begun to creep back in. The most striking manifestation of American miscalculation was the refusal of Iraqis to peacefully embrace the nascent democracy created for them by U.S. arms. Far from abating, violence in Iraq increased over time. Part of the problem was the insufficiency of U.S. boots on the ground. General Eric Shinseki turned out to have been right that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Trying to do the job with around 135,000--roughly 1 American for every 210 Iraqis--exposed a part of the spectrum that the U.S. could not fully dominate: the Arab street. U.S. soldiers patrolling strife-torn cities could be killed or maimed by the simplest of improvised explosive devices. Here was a new and shocking symmetry in warfare.

To make matters worse, the public appetite for the war in Iraq faded long before a real victory was achieved. Just 12 months after the original invasion--even before the U.S. death toll in Iraq passed the thousand mark--support for the war had dropped below 50%. True, new evidence came to light of the dictator's crimes against his own people. True, opinion polls suggested that Iraqis overwhelmingly preferred democracy to Saddam. But U.S. voters did not see these as sufficient grounds for risking American lives. The Bush Administration's contentions that Saddam had links to al-Qaeda and possessed weapons of mass destruction proved groundless.

Almost as big a miscalculation was the military's failure to understand the nature of the threat to Iraq's security. At first it seemed as if the U.S.-led coalition was facing an insurgency led by Saddam loyalists, with the support of foreign terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. But increasingly what was happening in Iraq was a sectarian war between the Sunni minority and the Shi'ite majority. The country that Americans had set out to democratize had, on closer inspection, voted to break apart. A spiral of tit-for-tat massacres in ethnically mixed Baghdad and the surrounding provinces ensured that the disintegration would happen in the bloodiest possible way. By the summer of 2006, despite the successful formation of a democratically elected government in Baghdad, Iraqis were dying at a rate of more than 100 a day.

. . .

Worse, by breaking up Iraq, the U.S. had unwittingly handed a belated victory in the earlier Iran-Iraq war to the fundamentalist regime in Tehran. No state stood to gain more from democracy in Iraq, since the country's Shi'ite majority felt close ties of kinship to Iran. And no state in the region was more explicitly committed to the destruction of America's ally Israel.

The decision of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [actually Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the real decision maker in Iran] to press ahead with Iran's secret nuclear-weapons program confronted the U.S. with an agonizing strategic dilemma. Iran made no secret of the fact that it was supplying Hizballah with the missiles that rained down on Israel in the summer of 2006. Iran was also hell-bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Yet the essentially unilateral action that had been used against Iraq in 2003 was no longer possible against Iran. A U.S. Administration that had once confidently bypassed the U.N. found it had no option but to turn to the U.N. Security Council in the hope that international pressure could disarm Hizballah and keep Iran from going nuclear. The colossus that once bestrode the globe seemed to be stuck in the Middle Eastern sands--and unable to prevent the seemingly inevitable confrontation between Iran and Israel.

III ENEMIES WITHIN

In the Bush Administration's final years, its reputation touched bottom. Many Americans complained that they had the wrong President. For a time, Bush's approval ratings sank below Richard Nixon's and Jimmy Carter's worst.

Yet history has been a kinder judge of Bush's presidency. Although many analysts had predicted that terrorists would strike again on U.S. soil within five years, there was no sequel to 9/11 on Bush's watch. It was just his bad luck that success in counterterrorism grabbed few headlines, since plots stifled at conception are nonevents in news terms. Moreover, the key point of his national-security strategy turned out to be correct. It was just that pre-emption had been used against Iraq when it should have been saved for Iran.

. . .

They included not just the continued activity of the Islamic terrorist network. In the turbulent years after 9/11, new powers arose to challenge American might. Iran--thanks to raw demography, the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq and advances in its nuclear program--emerged as the dominant power in the Middle East. Despite the trauma of financial crisis and depression, China became the new hegemon of East Asia. And Russia used its oil riches and nuclear leverage to restore its dominance over Eastern Europe, rolling back the frontier of the European Union. Although all adopted the outward forms of democracy, none of those three powers had much interest in advancing individual liberty and the rule of law, without which elections are a sham. All three had an interest in weakening America.

With the rise of these rivals came one benefit: as time passed, the once hated Great Satan [the United States] was no longer everybody's favorite whipping boy. Since the U.S. presence in the Middle East had wound down after 2008, it was no longer obvious why Islamist terrorists would expend their energies attacking American cities. That was why, by the 30th anniversary of 9/11, many younger Americans looked back on that event as a strange aberration.

. . .

The adoption of fuel-cell engines by the U.S. automobile industry, combined with a new generation of ultrasafe nuclear power plants, effectively ended America's century-long addiction to oil. The application of nanotechnology to homeland security allowed 24/7 surveillance of Islamist suspects by minuscule drones and invisible implants.

And so the Great War of Democracy ended--not with the catastrophic bang that so many had feared but with the imperceptible hum of a technological revolution. "We tried to give the Muslim world a political upgrade," said U.S. President Jimmy McCain, son of the former Senator and a veteran of the Iraq war, on the 30th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. "I guess we failed. So instead we gave ourselves an economic upgrade. I guess we succeeded."

By 2031, Niall Ferguson may have retired as the Laurence A. Tisch professor of history at Harvard University and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. His latest book, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, has just been published by Penguin Press.


Some argue that taking over Iraq (when the U.S. surrenders) will not be a piece of cake for Iran

"Hostage to Fortune," by Robert D. Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2006; Page A20 --- Click Here

No leader since Napoleon has roiled the Middle East as has George W. Bush. By invading Iraq, President Bush set history in motion. By doing so without a strategy for governing it afterwards, he did not plan for the worst, and so the worst has happened. Iraq has become the pivot for strengthening the radical forces that the invasion should have weakened. Yet to assume history follows a straight path is fatalism, not analysis.

A strengthened Shiite world was not an unintended consequence of the Iraq war. Toppling a Sunni dictator in predominantly Shiite Mesopotamia had to do that, whether the invasion resulted in stable democracy, benign dictatorship or chaos. People forget that moving history forward after 9/11 required shaking up the suffocating complacency of the Sunni Arab police states from where the terrorists originated.

Back then, Iran seemed to offer an opportunity for regional change. It was among the Muslim world's most sophisticated populations, a significant portion of which was pro-American, embarrassed by their own regime. In late 2001, when the seemingly reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, was in power, a gradual political shift in Tehran without military action seemed possible, particularly if somewhat stable, somewhat pro-American governments emerged on Iran's borders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But ideas, particularly bold ones, are hostage to the quality of their execution. There was indeed a political shift in Iran -- for the worse. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president of the Islamic Republic in June 2005, in the wake of the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from that country, and historic elections that saw millions of Iraqis hold up the purple finger against tyranny. In the dynamic environment that Mr. Bush had unleashed, even a flawed occupation led to encouraging developments -- however superficial -- to which Iran's radicals reacted. Iran's advantages were these: Though Iraqis had voted, they had no governing authority worth the name; likewise, the Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon could not erase the fact of Lebanon's demographically ascendant and militarized Shiite community.

Statements by the Arab League and the governments of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia initially blaming the violence in Lebanon on Hezbollah, rather than on Israel, stood as evidence that a heightened fear of Shiism had indeed shaken these states out of their complacency. Arab support proved short-lived, though, because of Israel's dragged-out and bungled operation. But while Iran is strengthened, it is not dominant: The radical Islamic universalism that it once sought to represent has been narrowed to a sectarianism with no appeal beyond its own Shiite community. Iran plays the spoiler in Iraq. But Iranian politics will become gnarled by its interaction with a more pluralistic, ethnically Arab, Shiite southern Iraq. We are tearing our hair out over Iraq. The Iranians will be too, if there is a full-scale civil war.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Iran has other troubles. Over 40% of Iranians are below the poverty line. Whereas Hitler's Germany in 1938 was the was the second largest economy in the world (with the world's largest military), Iran's GDP, at less than $200 billion for the entire country, is less than half the current annual budget of the Pentagon. Furthermore, Iran's national budget is almost entirely dependent upon unrefined oil exports. Even if Iran wins the prize of Iraq's oil fields, Israel could knock out the Iran-Iraq economies in a New York minute with a modicum of military effort compared to wiping out the underground Hezbollah in Lebanon. Winning the war-torn Iraq is not exactly a prize  for Persia in the short run, and in the long run Arabia will be no pushover for Persia. We always have a tendency to assume that the World of Islam will coalesce into one voice. There will instead many wrangling voices and much fighting between old tribes. Our worry is a looming huge civil war in the Middle East rather than a single Persia superpower in spite of Niall Ferguson's Persian superpower predictions summarized above. Unfortunately the U.S. can no longer afford in money or in spirit to stand between the secular factions of the entire Middle East, and Europe's will to intervene is almost zero, especially with Prime Minister Blair, our only true ally, in retreat.


We Will See the Banner of Islam ‘Flying Over Big Ben and the British Parliament’ . . . What is today called 'Londonistan' is in fact 'Heretistan,' that is, dar al-kufr [the abode of heresy]. I think that loyal Muslims in Britain will one day turn it, with Allah's help, into 'Islamistan,' that is dar al-islam [the abode of Islam], as the first Muslims did in Ethiopia and in Indonesia. Then the great Islamic dream will be fulfilled - that we will see the banner [proclaiming] 'There is no God but Allah' flying over Big Ben and the British Parliament, with Allah's help."
Sheikh Omar bin Bakri --- Click Here

The entire thing [9/11] was of a large scale and was planned within the U.S., in order to enable the U.S. to control and terrorize the entire world, and to get American society to agree to the war declared on terrorism - the definition of which has not yet been determined.
Dr. Salah Sultan,
President of the American Center for Islamic Research (ACIR), a non-profit organization registered in Ohio and located in Columbus --- http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=subjects&Area=jihad&ID=SP116806
Some U.S. professors, many of whom are merely anti-establishment rather than pto-Muslim, under the banner of academic freedom are now trying to convince college students that the President of the United States conspired to kill over 3,000 Americans in a planned 9/11 attack on New York City. It is indeed a shame if these fairy tale teachings fall within a curriculum accepted by the faculties of those colleges.

"All Plots Move Deathward," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, September 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/09/06/mclemee

Last month, Thomas M. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton published Without Precedent, an account of their time as co-chairs (Republican and Democratic, respectively) of the 9/11 Commission. Whatever the uses of a deliberate and scrupulous bipartisanship in political life, it does not make for good memoir-writing. I read it, but kept slipping into that mild coma that is an occupational hazard for anyone who reviews a lot of not-very-good or just-sort-of-okay books for newspapers.

Yet one thing about Without Precedent did prove quite interesting: the strong emphasis on conspiracy theorists. Or rather, to be more exact, the authors’ preoccupation with trying to head them off at the pass. The spectre of the Warren Commission must have haunted their dreams. They put a lot of thought into establishing what they call “core principles” intended to prevent “the kinds of conspiracy theorizing that have followed in the wake of other inquiries.” They mention this guiding intention not once or twice, but roughly a dozen times.

“We decided to be open and transparent,” they write, “so that people could see how we reached our conclusions about 9/11, and we demanded access to every document and witness in part to demonstrate that we had left no stone unturned in our investigation. We also adopted a policy of openness to the general public: people could send information to our offices, and somebody would review that information.”

Clearly preventing conspiracy theory was a major concern — which also suggests that Kean and Hamilton must have known that it was, for all practical purposes, an effectively hopeless endeavor. The impulse to frame things in terms of conspiracy has very deep roots. It is not an American specialty, by any means. But there is something sobering about reading the pamphlets from the years just before the Revolution and discovering that the patriots were, let’s say, a tad paranoid at times. (George Washington worried about the “systematic plan” of King George and minions to turn the colonists into slaves “as tame and abject,” as he put it in an interesting turn of phrase, “as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway.")

. . .

Well, there are all sorts of ways of handling trauma. It’s no surprise that this one has emerged. Whether or not 9/11 itself could have been prevented, something like Scholars for 9/11 Truth was perhaps
inevitable.

But so is the free exercise of critical intelligence, which is why I am glad to be able to end with this link to an encouraging development: The Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.

Continued in article

Terrorists are winning the Internet propaganda war --- http://www.usip.org/pubs/specialreports/sr116.html
"Conspiracy Theories Continue to Blame Jews and Israel Five Years After 9/11:  The Lie That Won't Die," by Richard Greenberg, The Jewish Journal, September 1, 2006 --- http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=16394

These canards have not been fleeting expressions of paranoid fantasy that dissipate once they have been debunked. On the contrary, even today the various "Jews-did-it" scenarios emanating from the wreckage of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have proven stubbornly resilient.

"If anything, they're flourishing," said Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, a liberal think-tank based in Somerville, Mass. The idea that Jews were somehow involved in Sept. 11 has now become a permanent feature in the conspiracy pantheon, like the JFK assassination and the Oklahoma City bombing," said Mark Pitcavage, director of fact finding for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The Internet is the chief incubator and disseminator of apocryphal Sept. 11 story lines, and cyberspace remains awash with chatter purporting to link the Jews with America's worst terrorist attacks, according to Pitcavage. But the same message, he added, also is being spread through books, pamphlets, videos and speakers. The practical impact of this phenomenon remains unclear.

The purveyors are an eclectic aggregation that spans the geopolitical spectrum. They include neo-Nazis and other white supremacists in the United States and elsewhere, anti-government zealots, young anti-war activists, Holocaust deniers, Lyndon Larouche supporters, New Age ideologues, propagandists and journalists within the Arab and Muslim world, as well as assorted devotees of the early 20th-century forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," which purports to document a Jewish plan to dominate the world. Efforts to connect the Jews with Sept. 11, however, are not limited to fringe groups talking with one another.

Contributors to Wikipedia, the popular and influential online encyclopedia, have tried repeatedly to insert anti-Jewish Sept. 11 theories into Wikipedia's pages and represent them as fact or at least plausible versions of reality, according to Berlet.

The insertions -- which represent one of countless pieces of potentially suspect information submitted to Wikipedia almost daily -- have been promptly excised by the encyclopedia's volunteer editors, said Berlet, himself a Wikipedia editor, "but it requires constant attention."

It's impossible to determine how many viewers see these postings before they are removed from the Wikipedia Web site, which has a daily viewership of roughly 30 million, according to a company spokesman.

The Sept. 11 assaults triggered an almost immediate outpouring of conspiracist conjecture, in part because of the bizarre, almost implausible nature of the attacks, according to Michael Barkun, a professor of political science at Syracuse University who has studied extremist movements and their philosophies.

"These events cried out for some sort of explanation," Barkun said. "This was a golden opportunity for conspiracy theorists to introduce their theories to a broader audience. The thing to remember about conspiracy theories is that they are profoundly psychologically comforting. They give sense and meaning to the world. Nothing is arbitrary or accidental or coincidental."

Not all of the explanatory hypotheses stemming from Sept. 11 implicate Jews. Some accuse the United States government, for example, of being aware of the attacks and doing nothing to stop them in order to justify military intervention in the Muslim world.

But early on anti-Semitic finger pointing came to dominate the revisionist view of Sept. 11, according to a report issued in 2003 by the ADL. These accusations brought "'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' into the 21st century," updating a familiar theme -- that "Jews are inherently evil and have a 'master plan' to rule the world," says the report, which profiles the Sept. 11 conspiracists' cast of suspected plotters and other scapegoats.

They include:

These assertions either have been laughed off as preposterous -- or investigated and discredited. The "spy ring" story, for example, may have emanated from a disclosure that a number of young Israelis who violated their visas had been deported from the United States. Subsequent reports intimating that the deportees had been engaged in sinister, clandestine activities were examined by The Washington Post, among others, and found to be "nothing more than an urban myth," according to the ADL report.

But the fact that conspiracy theories have been disproven is largely irrelevant to the theories' adherents, according to Barkun. The reason, he said, is that die-hard conspiracy mongers are united by their embrace of what he calls "rejected knowledge."

"These people are profoundly distrustful of authority. It seems absurd to the rest of us, but in the mirror world that conspiracy theorists live, anything that is rejected by mainstream institutions must therefore be true," Barkun said.

A conspiracy-tinged view of world events seems to be gaining traction in America and elsewhere, according to Lou Manza, chairman of the psychology department at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. As evidence of this trend, he cites polls indicating that suspect theories of all kinds have gained popularity over the past 10 to 15 years.

Among the possible explanations for this emerging worldview: In today's information-bloated environment, the conviction that all-powerful forces control global events makes life easier for believers by obviating the need to think critically about complex issues.

"Our environment today is not conducive to a critical-thinking approach, especially with the instant access we have to so much information," Manza said. "If it's on the Internet and the graphics are good, it must be true." But why does it necessarily follow that the Jews in particular were the unseen hand behind America's most infamous terrorist attack?

Because they had something to gain from Sept. 11, according to conspiracists, who contend that military retaliation against Arabs was its own reward for the Jews and Israel.

Asked why the Jews were implicated in the attacks, Barkun said, "You might as well ask, 'Why does anti-Semitism exist?' Unfortunately, the concept is deeply rooted in Western culture. And like a lot of conspiracy theories, it's a closed system of ideas that is structured so that it's impossible to disprove."

In a sense, the extremist explanations for Sept. 11 are merely an update of conspiracy theories that have been evolving ever since the Crusades, according to conservative columnist and analyst Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, who has written two books examining conspiracy theories.

Virtually every major conspiracy theory hatched over the past 900 years has featured one of two key elements, Pipes said. One is so-called "secret societies," such as the Trilateral Commission -- an influential coalition of influential private citizens -- as well as suspected government cabals; the other is the Jews.

Anti-Semitic Sept. 11 scenarios have staying power, but it's unclear how widely they're embraced. In the West, according to Pipes and others, Sept. 11-related Judeophobia seems to have a limited constituency among both ordinary people and those in positions of power and influence.

No American office holder, for example, has tried to score political points by blaming the Jews for Sept. 11 -- although recently defeated Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) made a name for herself by repeatedly taking anti-Israel stands and alleging that the federal government was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Pipes believes that all told, the Western strain of Sept. 11 revisionism seems dominated by conspiracy buffs rather than bona fide anti-Semites who pose a real danger to Jews.

Berlet takes a less benign view.

"Any form of conspiracy theory is toxic to the democratic process," he said. "How can you reach compromise with those 'evil people' who bombed the World Trade Center? That sort of thinking could flare up in hard times and affect policy."

Overtly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories stemming from Sept. 11 appear to be more widely accepted and tenacious in the Arab and Muslim world than in the West.

"The implications in the Middle East are quite profound," Pipes said. "It's one more brick in the edifice of fear and loathing of Israel and the Jews.''

Continued in article

"Al-Qaida's list of favorite, least favorite Westerners:  Latest warning video from terror group names enemies, friends in U.S., Britain," WorldNetDaily, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51816

In the latest video from al-Qaida warning of an imminent terrorist attack on the U.S., five specific "Zionist crusader missionaries of hate" are named, while three Westerners, including one American, are actually praised for their efforts toward "peace."

Those singled out as enemies of al-Qaida are Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Steven Emerson, Michael Scheuer and, of course, President Bush. The first three are WND contributors and outspoken media figures who warn about the growing threat of Islamo-fascism. Scheuer is the former head of the CIA unit assigned the mission of hunting down Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps more surprising than a list of enemies – all of whom were directed to convert at once and be accepted into the brotherhood of Islam – was a slightly shorter list of al-Qaida friends in the West.

That list includes Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter for the New Yorker who most recently claims the U.S. directed the Israeli attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon. Two Brits are also mentioned in a favorable light by Adam Gadahn, the American spokesman for al-Qaida. They were George Galloway of the House of Commons and Robert Fisk, who writes for the London Independent.

While Gadahn was issuing the statement warning Americans of an impending attack, Galloway was also getting high marks from the terrorist group Hamas, operational allies with al-Qaida.

Hamas' Syrian-based boss, Khaled Mishaal, hailed Galloway for his courage after meeting with him in Damascus. He also thanked him for his opposition stands in the British Parliament and support for the resistance in "Palestine."

Continued in article


In this video series Calvin Sims talks to Sydney Jones, and Islamic expert on terrorism ---
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/multimedia/conversation.html

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, science for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignorable war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
Albert Einstein

Remember what happened to Custer when the both sides had repeating rifles?
The
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a voluntary nonproliferation agreement involving 34 countries and supposedly limiting export of unmanned systems that can deliver weapons of mass destruction, defines a antiship cruise missile as having a range of less than 300 kilometers. A cruise missile is a Category II item--meaning, essentially, that it may be exported by any company that manufactures it. (Category I severely limits exports of ballistic missile systems, space-launch vehicles, and land-attack cruise missile systems.) Given that antiship cruise missiles can be converted to land-attack systems, the MTCR is a particularly leaky sieve. But American actions have also inadvertently helped spread the technology. In 1998, when the Clinton administration launched 75 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Osama bin Laden's bases in response to Al-Qaida's bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, six of the missiles misfired and landed across the border in Pakistan. It has long been suspected that these unexploded missiles were studied by Pakistani and Chinese scientists. Ted Postol, a professor of science, technology, and international security at MIT, confirms this: "A Pakistani colleague of mine told me that a significant number of those missiles that we launched at Afghanistan actually landed in Pakistan and those guys reverse-engineered them."
"The Missiles of August:  The democratization of cruise missile technology.--Part II," MIT's Technology Review, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17374&ch=biztech

More Sensationalist Bias in the Press
The letter described the author's words as "a racist attack on all people of Jewish descent when he asserted that Jews have been the cause of every tragedy that has befallen them -- from slavery in Egypt to the Holocaust. "We are not surprised when hate-mongers make such statements or when neo-Nazi publications print them. Vulgar and hate-filled statements are written all the time -- editors choose whether or not to publish them. We were, however, surprised, to find them in a Berkeley 'community' newspaper since racism of any kind violates all that our city and region stands for," it read.
Chip Johnson, "Why did Berkeley paper run anti-Jewish column?" San Francisco Chronicle, September 1, 2006 ---
Click Here

The BBC’s World Service makes the New York Times seem fair and balanced. The BBC’s World Service is by far the world’s largest broadcaster, with some 150 million people tuning in every week in 43 languages. It already partners with 1,500 FM outlets in the U.S. and around the world. Now it seeks an even wider American presence by romancing NPR outlets. What better for Galena, Alaska, and Lyman, Wyoming (both now receiving the BBC’s service), than full coverage of cricket, rugby, gardening—and hard-core anti-American left-wing politics! Unlike NPR, the World Service needn’t worry about fund-raising.
Denis Boyles, City Journal, July 21, 2006 --- http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2006-07-21db.html

The only institution for which the press has any praise on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is, naturally enough, the press. They have spent much of this week congratulating themselves on what a marvelous job they did--which is the surest indication that they have completely missed the real story.
Robert Tracinski, "The Unlearned Lesson of Katrina," RealClearPolitics, September 1, 2006 --- Click Here


New Documentary Film Explains How President Bush Can Be Assassinated
A British television network plans to broadcast a dramatic, documentary-style film about a fictional assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush, the network’s head said Thursday . . . “It’s a pointed political examination of what the war on terror did to the American body politic,” he said.
"Bush assassinated? New film depicts it British TV network defends its airing of ‘Death of a President’," MSNBC, September 1, 2006 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14608725/
Jensen Comment
Can you imagine doing this to presidents of Islamic nations and living to air your movie?
Ask Salman Rushdie.


If CIA Calls, Should Anthropology Answer?
Of course sometimes anthropologists have in fact sided with the U.S. government — and later not been proud of the results. Franz Boas, one of the founders of American anthropology and one of the first presidents of the American Anthropological Association, was censured by it 1919 after he criticized scholars who served as spies during World War I. Writing in The Nation, Boas said that anthropologists need to preserve a distinction between spies and scholars, who must be dedicated to “the service of truth.” The article so upset his fellow anthropologists that they voted to condemn him.It was only last year that the association rescinded the censure.
"If CIA Calls, Should Anthropology Answer?" Inside Higher Ed, September 1, 2006 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/01/anthro


THE scale of the Holocaust has been "greatly exaggerated", Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said today, adding he had visited several former concentration camps in eastern Europe . . . Iran's fiercely anti-Israeli regime is supportive of so-called Holocaust revisionists, who maintain the systematic slaughter by the Nazis of mainland Europe's Jews and other groups during World War II was either invented or exaggerated.
"Iran attacks Holocaust again," The Australian, September 3, 2006 ---
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20345654-1702,00.html


Officials blame the increase in cultivation on the resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country’s prime opium growing region . . . He said the increase in cultivation was significantly fueled by the resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country’s prime opium growing region. As the insurgents have stepped up attacks, they have also encouraged and profited from the drug trade, promising protection to growers if they expanded their opium operations. “This year’s harvest will be around 6,100 metric tons of opium — a staggering 92 percent of total world supply. It exceeds global consumption by 30 percent,” Mr. Costa said at a news briefing.
Carlotta Gall, "Opium Harvest at Record Level in Afghanistan," The New York Times, September 3, 2006 --- Click Here


In September 2004, on the first day of class, Chechen militants took more than 1,200 hostages in a school in Beslan, Russia. After nearly three days, explosions and gunfire ripped through the school, leaving more than 300 hostages dead. Two years later, questions remain about what happened and why . . . "They were allowed to camp unmolested in the woods of Ingushetia for two weeks," Dolnik says. "They were allowed to drive dirt roads out of the woods and bypass checkpoints, and, possibly, they prearranged their route with someone who had the power to fix that road." . . . The ruins of the school still stand in the middle of Beslan. There, Kudzeyeva demonstrated how she had to step over bodies on the way to the cafeteria, where militants were waging an all-out battle with soldiers outside. Bullets flew from every direction. Soldiers fired a tank. Militants threw and fired grenades. They ordered women and children to stand in the windows.
"'Mondrage' in Beslan: Inside the School Siege," NPR, August 31, 2006 ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5739902
Jensen Comment
This article/audio reveals how the militants managed to travel through the forests. It is still a mystery as to how the roads were fixed for truck travel. As is so common with terrorists, the militants used women and children as human shields.




Students Secretly Capturing Videos of Professors and Posting The Videos to YouTube
Both conservative and liberal sensationalists may even pay students for captured moments in class

"You May Have Been YouTubed," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/06/youtube

If you don’t like what RateMyProfessors.com has done for the image of professors, get ready for the YouTube effect. YouTube is the immensely popular Web site where people post videos of themselves and their friends hanging out, doing mock television shows, watching television, or just about anything you can imagine in front of a video camera of some sort.

Because YouTube is very popular with college students, it should probably come as no surprise that they are posting videos of course scenes on the Web site — and judging from interviews with the “stars” of these postings, the professors aren’t being asked or giving permission for the filming. Nonetheless, some of the videos feature professors’ names, disciplines and institutions.

Judith Thorpe, who just retired from teaching at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, had no idea that someone had filmed her class and posted it, with her name. Matt Kearly had no idea that what claims to be a biology lecture he gave this month at Auburn University had been posted. In other cases, professors aren’t named, but they are clearly visible and held up to ridicule — as in the video of a professor who is not a native speaker of English mispronouncing a word repeatedly, and made fun of by the student who posted the video. The word is “glucocorticoids” — not a word many non-experts would necessarily use with ease.

To be sure, many of the videos of campus scenes are from public events — protests, strikes, inaugurations. And many more are just silly and don’t invade anyone’s privacy. But many others involve filming courses, or staging events in courses. The boredom of lectures is a frequent theme, with audio of a professor talking while students look bored — or in the case of one student at Southern Methodist University, fight a losing battle to stay awake.

Hijinks are also common, in many cases interrupting classes. There’s the student who talks about honoring his great grandfather’s birthday by mooning a large lecture class. (Warning/spoiler: He goes through with it, so the link may be more detail than you want.) Indiana University students revel at Halloween by interrupting classes as the Village People or portraying scenes from Ghostbusters.

To colleges and faculty members, the filming raises a variety of issues — with regard to their intellectual property and their dignity. Many colleges have been warning students about the images they post of themselves and their friends on YouTube, telling them that scenes of drinking and partying that seem amusing in a dormitory room may not go over well with potential employers. But colleges’ focus has been on telling students about the harm they may be doing to themselves, not their professors.

YouTube, whose officials did not respond to phone calls or e-mail messages about this story, posts a variety of warnings on its site about how people should post only those videos for which they have ownership rights, and that it will not post “hateful” videos, among other categories barred by its terms of service. There is also a form someone can fill out to object to a video posting of them, if they own the copyright.

Of course, people who were never asked if they could be filmed in class wouldn’t know that they had reason to check what is on the site.

Ann Springer, staff counsel for the American Association of University Professors, said that no professor should be filmed in class without granting permission. “The professor’s presentation in class is the professor’s intellectual property, and to submit it to a Web site is a violation of those rights — and a concern to the university and the professor,” she said. If a competing college started posting video of a professor’s courses, that would be a violation of rights, and the same legal principles apply, regardless of whether there is profit involved, Springer said.

She stressed that this wasn’t a free speech issue. “Students will always mock professors and there’s nothing you can do about that,” she said. But filming them without permission is the issue, whatever the use of the video.

In cases where taping of professors has become public — generally when the taping was politically motivated, not just for the purpose of mocking — universities have responded, she noted. In January, for example, a conservative group at the University of California at Los Angeles offered to pay students to tape professors, with the idea of exposing alleged ideological bias. The group backed down when the university and faculty groups raised intellectual property issues.

A spokesman for Indiana University said that the institution has received no complaints from professors about having their lectures filmed, but that university officials would consider it a violation of rules barring “disorderly conduct” or behavior that interferes with teaching. University policy gives professors the right to permit or reject any photography or taping in their classes.

Aside from the legal issues, there are also questions to some academics about how this YouTube trend affects professors generally, and whether anything can be done about it. Neil Gross, a sociologist at Harvard University, has surveyed public attitudes about faculty members, and found “soft support” for their work, and skepticism of some of their views. He said that in the mocking of professors on YouTube, he saw some strains of political disagreement with professors, along with “classic anti-intellectual themes, as well as the typical youthful distaste for authority.”

Several academic blogs, such as Yellow Dog and Digital Digs, have been discussing the implications as they relate to both professors and high school teachers (videos abound on YouTube of teachers losing their temper in class, for instance). Among the issues being raised are whether this form of expression — however upsetting to faculty members — is an example of students acting on their feelings and expressing themselves, something composition instructors in particular tend to encourage.

The blog Metaspencer predicted that YouTube would have an impact that builds on the way RateMyProfessors.com has intimidated many faculty members — who hate the site and check to see how they are doing on it.

“When that site first went online, many seemed outraged that college level instructors would be publicly assessed in this way, outside of our already established course-evaluation-systems, and in many cases, professors have been graphically slandered and bodily objectified on that site. RateMyProfessors.com made our lives as college level instructors suddenly unstable and encouraged some of us to be just a bit more careful, if that’s the right word, when it comes to what we do in the classroom,” the blog said. “Videos of teachers on YouTube, however, magnify whatever paranoia RateMyProfessors.com may have generated. Were you videotaped in front of your class yesterday? Today? Yesterday? Will what you do with your students be edited and presented in a way that you feel misrepresents how you teach?”

Jensen Comment
To see some of the professors on video, go to the following link and type in the search term "Professor" for a given category --- http://www.youtube.com/categories

Bob Jensen's threads on student evaluations of professors are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#GradeInflation


Exercises in Math Readiness --- http://math.usask.ca/mrc-cgi-bin/emr/first_page.cgi 

Bob Jensen's threads on mathematics tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics


Question
What states have the highest and lowest average K-12 teacher salaries?

According to the American Federation of Teachers, the state with the highest average 2003-2004 salary for teachers was Connecticut, at $56,516; the lowest was South Dakota, at $33,236.

The 2004 AFT salary surveys are at http://www.aft.org/salary/index.htm
The AFT teacher salary survey found that the average teacher salary in the 2003-04 school year was $46,597, a 2.2 percent increase from the year before.  This falls short of the rate of inflation for 2004, which was 2.7 percent.

Also see http://www.calnews.com/Archives/1YB_II_sal.htm


"An Etiquette Lesson," by Alaina G. Levine, Inside Higher Ed, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/workplace/2006/08/28/levine

It was the luncheon portion of the academic conference when I witnessed the anomaly. A gorgeous, well-dressed man had claimed the chair to my right at the table. There are plenty of good-looking academics, but few of them show up to a scholarly conference impeccably dressed in a three-piece pin-stripped suit, matching tie tack and cuff links, and shoes as shiny as mirrors. My reaction upon observing this unusual creature outside his native habitat? This is going to be a mighty fine lunch.

I would like to say that this story has a happy ending and that we united to form scholarly offspring who speak five languages and tell physics jokes without appearing nerdy. But alas, this was not to be in this timeline. As Dr. Suit sat down for lunch, he reached across the table to grab a roll from the bread basket. He buried his entire hairy hand in the vessel until he found the specimen he craved. It was a perfectly round roll. He then proceeded to spread mountains of butter on its entire spherical surface, until the roll ceased to be no longer. It had been transformed…to a Ball o’ Butter. Dr. Suit’s fingers were smeared with butter and when he appeared satisfied that his masterpiece, the Ball o’ Butter, was complete, he then commenced gorging on it, one huge buttery bite at a time. He shifted said Ball o’ Butter between hands, licking his once perfectly manicured fingers as he went. I quickly lost my appetite (for the food and the man).

I often think of this moment — not because I hunger for memories of the grotesque — but because I wonder: Is this how Dr. Suit behaves on a job interview? Or at dinner with his dean? I would hope not, but something tells me he had no idea that he was demonstrating improper and disrespectful manners, in the process making a lasting negative impression on me.

Professionals in any field often neglect a basic understanding of proper etiquette in interacting with other human beings. We are inclined to argue that our skills, talents and reputation alone will secure us advancement opportunities. Academics especially opine that any impression they impart from behavior is inconsequential to what super star scholars they are, and it matters not how they hold their fork or eat their bread at a business dinner.

But the truth is that academe is a profession in which one must behave professionally at all times. Being professional means demonstrating you are serious about your craft, and having good manners and proper business etiquette for all occasions promotes and amplifies your level of professionalism. When you practice flawless etiquette, your talents are bolstered, allowing attention to be paid to you, and not your slimy buttery fingers (which you keep wiping on your pants). Furthermore, in acting as a professional with professional behavioral traits, you are demonstrating a high level of respect for both you and your colleagues.

In Dr. Suit’s case, he made some terrible and basic mistakes when he sat down at the lunch. He ruined his chances of communicating his wisdom because all I could concentrate on was his bad manners. Here are some pointers for professional etiquette at meals and in interactions so that you don’t become a Dr. Suit:

Smile, and remember other actions to take during the first interaction. When you meet someone for the first time, there are five things you should do: introduce yourself, shake the person’s hand, look them in the eyes, smile, and say their name back to them (so they know you are listening and you know that you pronounced their moniker correctly).

Keep your handshake quick, firm and dry. Shaking hands leaves more of an impression than one realizes. Your handshake should be firm, dry, and quick. The shake should employ two pumps up and down, and then get the heck out of there. Don’t linger and don’t keep holding their hand like you’re mates. Don’t use your other hand for the “reach around,” in which you grab your colleagues shoulder and shake their entire body. Utilize the whole hand — don’t engage a shake with three fingers. Keep yourself dry by not clasping anything in advance (like a drink or a briefcase), and always use your right hand.

Place that napkin on your lap. When you arrive at a luncheon, whether the table is for 2 people or 10, sit down and immediately put the napkin on your lap. The napkin will stay on your lap the entire time you are sitting there, even after the meal is complete. It should never touch the table until you rise to leave.

Harness the silverware. If you are at an event in which the table is set with multiple utensils, here is a simple trick to remember which to use and when. Start from the outside in, and for each course, use the utensil that is farthest from your plate. If you drop your fork on the floor, ask your server for another — don’t reach for it.

Utilize the b-d rule for triumph over the bread plate. When you sit down at a round table, you are immediately faced with lots of glasses, coffee cups, and bread plates. Which is yours? You can’t go wrong with the b-d rule. In your lap, take both your hands and form the OK sign with your thumb and pointer finger touching to shape an “o”. Keep your other fingers extended straight and together. With both hands in this position, you will see the shape of a “b” on the left hand and a “d” on the right. The “b” stands for bread, which means your bread plate will always be on your left. The “d” means drink, which translates to your drinking glasses and cup placed on your right. Now, invariably at large luncheon tables, there will be someone who will make an error, incorrectly claim the bread plate on their right, causing a domino effect around the table, leaving you without. No need to fret (or call attention to the mistake). Simply ask the server for another one.

Don’t reach or grab, just pass. If you want something on the table, such as the salt shaker or bread basket, and it is not within arm’s length (while you are still sitting), ask your colleague to pass it to you. For bread baskets, there is no need to touch every roll, just take the one at the top. When you have made your selection, put the basket directly in front of you (you don’t have to pass it back to the person unless they request it). If someone asks you to pass the salt, always offer both the salt and pepper, and never grasp the shakers from the top.

Consume your bread in no less than an eon. Don’t eat your roll like an apple. The courteous way to dine on bread is to tear off a bite-size piece, butter only that morsel, and pop it in your mouth. Chew, swallow, and repeat. It may take a million years to eat your bread, but at least you will look like a gentleman or lady while doing it.

Other rules include not eating until everyone is served, and refraining from wiping your nose, picking your teeth, or applying ChapStick while seated at the table.

I was having dinner with one of my graduate students and a CEO a few years ago when I noticed my student was holding his fork like he was in the Big House and was fearful someone would try to swipe it. He treated it like a scoop, and shoveled food into his mouth like it was his last meal. I was embarrassed for him, embarrassed for me, and embarrassed for the business leader, especially since the student was speaking with him about potential job opportunities. I would have hated for this talented, intelligent, and driven student of excellent academic pedigree to miss out on a professional opportunity simply because he did not take the time to employ the most courteous way to interact with someone over a business meal.

The reality is that scholarly strength can get you in the door, but proper etiquette and manners will seal the deal, and ultimately, elevate your academic credentials. So the next time you have an important function, wear a great suit, shine your shoes, and make sure you hone your business etiquette skills before you go. You will make an impression that can land you the opportunity you crave. And for goodness sake, under no circumstances, no matter how much you desire it, don’t lick your fingers and don’t build a Ball o’ Butter.

Alaina G. Levine is director of special projects for the University of Arizona College of Science, where she oversees the Professional Science Master’s Program. She is also president of Quantum Success Solutions.

The Obese/Piggish Generation: Students help themselves to bigger portions than we did when we were in college
A study of how college students serve themselves in college cafeterias has found that today’s students take significantly larger portions, on average, than did students 20 years ago. For instance, students asked to serve themselves a portion of cereal are likely to take 44 grams today, up from 37 grams 20 years ago. Most portions are also well above recommended portion sizes, according to the study, which appears in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Inside Higher Ed, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/05/qt


The University of Florida Needs More Roman Studies
The University of Florida has distributed several thousand T-shirts in which Roman numerals intended to indicate 2006 (MMVI) in fact indicate 26 (XXVI). After discovering the mistake, the university will have many thousands of other T-shirts redone, The Gainesville Sun reported.
Inside Higher Ed, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/05/qt
Jensen Comment
This is not as serious as the year Trinity University printed its main college catalog with "Trinity" misspelled on the front cover.


"In Defense of Welfare Reform:  Ten years of a controversial policy that worked wonders," by Cathy Young, Reason Magazine, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/cy/cy082906.shtml 

There remains, however, much to be done. Perhaps the biggest weakness of welfare reform is that it has focused almost exclusively on women, neglecting the all-important issue of their partners and the fathers of their children. Many reports on the struggles of single mothers trying to get themselves and their children out of poverty treat the men in these women's and children's lives as an obstacle to success, offering stories of hard-working women held back by lazy, feckless, often violent boyfriends. In some cases the stereotype is true; but many of those men, like many women, are trapped by a lack of resources and skills and by a subculture that offers few models of successful work and parenting. And some, as reporter and author Jason DeParle and others have documented, are trying their best to stay connected to their children.

Today, there is a need for more efforts, in the public and private sector alike, to encourage employment and child-rearing among poor fathers. One of the baneful effects of the old welfare system was that it enshrined the idea of family and children as a female sphere while turning men into outsiders. Reintegrating men into families will not end poverty or solve all social problems, but it will be a major step in the right direction.

Continued in article

Family Violence Prevention Fund --- http://endabuse.org/

Frank Rich [The New York Times] and company claimed that people were trapped in New Orleans because they had been abandoned for decades by a stingy government that denied them an adequate level of welfare handouts. In fact, New Orleans received a higher per-capita rate of federal welfare spending than most cities--a full 78 percent more than the national average--and the districts hardest hit by the flooding contained some of the city's largest public housing projects. The welfare state had showered its largesse on New Orleans, but with what result? In fact, the disaster in New Orleans was caused, not by too little welfare spending, but by too much. Four decades of dependence on government left people without the resources--economic, intellectual, or moral--to plan ahead and provide for themselves in an emergency.
Robert Tracinski, "The Unlearned Lesson of Katrina," RealClearPolitics, September 1, 2006 --- Click Here

According to 2006 (lst Qtr) INS/FBI Statistical Report 58% of all welfare payments in the United States are issued to illegal aliens. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties in the United States are illegal aliens.
Idaho Observer --- Click Here

Hunger in America 2006 --- http://www.hungerinamerica.org/ 


NFL Football Second Guessing the Coaches
A startup venture, EndGame Technologies, has designed novel computer modeling software to assist National Football League coaches with critical play-calling decisions--the kind that often determine the outcome of the game. Should a team punt on fourth down--or go for it? Or attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown? The software, called ZEUS, is designed to answer such questions by calculating the consequences of each decision in a matter of seconds.
Brittany Sauser, "Revolutionizing Football:  New computer modeling software could make gridiron coaches rethink their decisions and look to science for guidance," MIT's Technology Review, August 31, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17383&ch=infotech  

"Fire-the-coach Web sites a big business," PhysOrg, August 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76257644.html

EA, the world's largest video game publisher, said consumers snapped up more than 2 million copies of "Madden NFL 07" in its opening week, up 12 percent from last year's game launch. The Madden game is the flagship franchise for the Redwood City-based game maker, with new versions each year ranking consistently as best sellers. To date, more than 53 million copies of the game have been sold.
"Madden Video Game Posts Record Sales," PhysOrg, September 1, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76332609.html
Jensen Comment
Please don't consider this Tidbit an endorsement. Bob Jensen is opposed to all video games other than those specifically designed for education and training. Although there are entertainment values from other types of games, I think the negatives outweigh the positives in most instances.


Computer defeats humans at the NYT’s crossword Puzzles
Crossword-solving computer program WebCrow has defeated 25 human competitors in a puzzle competition in Riva del Garda, Italy. The program took both first- and second-place honors in the contest, which was staged as part of the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, New Scientist reported Thursday. The two English puzzles were taken from The New York Times and The Washington Post, while two Italian puzzles were taken from newspapers in the country. A fifth puzzle featured clues in both languages taken from all four sources. "It exceeded our expectations because there were around 15 Americans in the competition," said Marco Ernandes, who created WebCrow along with Giovanni Angelini and Marco Gori. "Now we'd like to test it against more people with English as their first language."
"Computer defeats humans at crossword," PhysOrg, September 1, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76345125.html


How can this happen? Sometimes the best of the best in the U.S. just isn't enough
Greece used a sizzling stretch of shooting across the middle two quarters to turn a 12-point deficit into a 14-point lead, and beat the Americans 101-95 Friday in the semifinals of the world championships. ''To lose any game is a shock to us,'' U.S. star Carmelo Anthony said. ''We came in with the mentality to win the game and the gold medal.'' Instead, the best Anthony can do now is add another bronze to his collection. Greece (8-0) can earn a world title to go with the European championship it won in 2005 with a victory over Spain in Sunday's gold-medal game. Spain (8-0) beat Argentina 75-74 on Friday night. ''They played like a champion plays,'' U.S. forward Shane Battier said of Greece.
"Greece Shocks U.S. Basketball Team," New York Times, September 1, 2006 --- Click Here


Question
Do you really want to attend a fraudulent academic conference for lines on a resume and/or a paid vacation?
Is this violation of your personal integrity really worth it?

August 31, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen to a professor who proposed rating conferences.

Hi XXXXX,

Publishing ratings of conferences will be almost impossible due to endless debates that will arise over defining criteria.

I wish you luck if you carry through with this effort, but I think that it will be very difficult to shut down fraud conferences. Organizers of fraud conferences are very good at their craft, and the professors who attend them are desperate for new lines on dusty old resumes. The professors who attend are often very good teachers frustrated with blank spaces each year by blank spaces for evidence of research in their performance reports.

Hence, the "teachers" who attend fraud conferences will continue to do so even if you take the time and trouble to warn them. These professors want the lines on a resume and an expense-paid vacation in a terrific tourist locale. Interestingly, many of these professors justify this by truly believing that they are badly underpaid and are fully justified for reimbursed travel for R&R if nothing else.

Since you are only listing the good conferences, college deans and administrators will not necessarily be forewarned of the bad conferences since you can't be expected to list 100% of the good conferences in all fields of business, finance, and economics. Most fraud conferences in our discipline are very generic and cover all fields of business and economics. It will be very difficult to track over 1,000 conferences (most legitimate) across such a wide path.

I think the best we can do is plead with the academy, and possibly our reimbursing colleges, to demand accountability of registration fees for conferences. They should be treated a bit like charitable organizations where conference organizers must give an expense accounting and disclose how much of the conference revenues go to personal profit and "administrative expense."

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on fraudulent academic conferences are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#AcademicConferences


Punctuation Substitution (or how to be cute with symbols) --- http://www.zefrank.com/punc/


The Politically Incorrect Guide to Factually Incorrect Guides --- http://90percenttrue.com/?p=116


"Researchers create new system to address phishing fraud," PhysOrg, September 1, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76325493.html

Carnegie Mellon University CyLab researchers have developed a new anti-phishing tool to protect users from online transactions at fraudulent Web sites. 

A research team led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Adrian Perrig has created the Phoolproof Phishing Prevention system that protects users against all network-based attacks, even when they make mistakes. The innovative security system provides strong mutual authentication between the Web server and the user by leveraging a mobile device, such as the user's cell phone or PDA.

The system is also designed to be easy for businesses to implement. Perrig, along with engineering Ph.D. student assistants Bryan Parno and Cynthia Kuo, has developed an anti-phishing system that makes the user's cell phone an active participant in the authentication process to securely communicate with a particular Internet site.

"Essentially, our research indicates that Internet users do not always make correct security decisions, so our new system helps them make the right decision, and protects them even if they manage to make a wrong decision," Perrig said. "Our new anti-phishing system, which operates with the standard secure Web protocol, ensures that the user accesses the Web site they intend to visit, instead of a phishing site posing as a legitimate business. The mobile device acts like an electronic assistant, storing a secure bookmark and a cryptographic key for each of the user's online accounts."

Phoolproof Phishing Prevention essentially provides a secure electronic key ring that the user can access while making online transactions, according to Parno. These special keys are more secure than one-time passwords because the user can't give them away. So, phishers can't access the user's accounts, even if they obtain other information about the user, researchers said.

Since the user's cell phone performs cryptographic operations without revealing the secret key to the user's computer, the system also defends against keyloggers and other malicious software on the user's computer. Even if the user loses the cell phone, the keys remain secure.

Driving the need for this new tool is escalating consumer worries over online fraud -- a major barrier for a banking industry seeking to push consumers to do more of their banking online. More than 5 percent of Internet users say they have stopped banking online because of security concerns, up from 1 percent a year ago, according to industry reports.

Complicating the concern for more secure financial sites is a looming deadline for new security guidelines from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), a group of government agencies that sets standards for financial institutions. Last year, the FFIEC set a Dec. 31 deadline for banks to add online security measures beyond just a user name and password. Failure to meet that deadline could result in fines, the FFIEC said.

Bob Jensen's threads on phishing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Phishing


From the University of Pennsylvania
How to deal with unwelcome mail and telephone solitications --- http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/consumer_warfare.html

Other guides for frustrating telemarketers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#Telemarketing


Also from the University of Pennsylvania:  How many arrests does it take to fire a tenured professor?
"A Ring of Fire," by Rob Capriccioso, Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/31/upenn

Penn officials said Tuesday that Ward would never teach again at the university. But some are asking what took them so long, since this was not the first time, but the third, that Ward had been charged in sex scandals involving minors.

Catherine Bath, executive director of Security on Campus, a nonprofit organization concerned with campus safety, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that it seemed that Penn “was giving him a chance” despite his history. “But do you really want known child molesters on your campus?” she asked. “I would say no.”

“It seems like an odd situation,” said Jason Johnston, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “I’m not surprised people are having negative reactions.”

In 1995, the marketing professor was acquitted of “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse” after an 18-year-old male alleged that he had sexual contact with Ward between 50 and 100 times from the time he was 13 or 14 years old. Four years later, in 1999, Ward was accused of soliciting sex from a state trooper who had posed as a 15-year-old boy. In that case, he pleaded guilty without admitting that he tried to promote prostitution and corrupt minors. Ultimately, he was given five years of probation and fined $2,500. Ward is currently being held in a Virginia jail and could not be reached for comment. His lawyer did not return calls for comment on Wednesday.

Continued in article

How much stolen money does it take to fire a tenured professor?
Priscilla Slade was fired as president of Texas Southern University and was indicted last month based on allegations that she mismanaged university funds and that some were used inappropriately for her home (charges that she denies). The Houston Chronicle reported that Slade is teaching accounting at Texas Southern this semester. Texas Southern officials noted that Slade is a tenured professor and that her firing as president did not revoke her tenure.
Inside Higher Ed, August 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/31/qt

Bob Jensen's threads on higher Education Controversies are at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/31/qt


The Brain's Filing System:  Where do you store your memory of socks in your bureau?
Socks in the sock drawer, shirts in the shirt drawer, the time-honored lessons of helping organize one’s clothes learned in youth. But what parts of the brain are used to encode such categories as socks, shirts, or any other item, and how does such learning take place? New research from Harvard Medical School (HMS) investigators has identified an area of the brain where such memories are found. They report in the advanced online Nature that they have identified neurons that assist in categorizing visual stimuli. They found that the activity of neurons in a part of the brain called the parietal cortex encode the category, or meaning, of familiar visual images and that brain activity patterns changed dramatically as a result of learning. Their results suggest that categories are encoded by the activity of individual neurons (brain cells) and that the parietal cortex is a part of the brain circuitry that learns and recognizes the meaning of the things that we see.
"Brain's Filing System Uncovered," PhysOrg, August 28, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75960117.html


Web sites recommended by Time Magazine on August 31, 2006, Page 64:

* World News * Sports * Science News * Celebrities & Entertainment * Politics * People & Dating * Photo & Video Sharing * Posters & Products * Tech News * Style & Fashion * Travel


Are lawyers padding expense billings?
The career of Matthew Farmer, a junior partner in the Chicago law offices of Holland & Knight LLP, was on the upswing in December 2004. He had just won a monthlong trial for Pinnacle Corp., a Midwestern home builder accused of copyright infringement, and gotten kudos from many of his partners. But weeks later, after reviewing billing records in the Pinnacle matter, he decided to leave the 1,200-lawyer firm. Mr. Farmer, 42 years old, believed his own hours on the case had been inflated by the partner in charge of billing, 62-year-old Edward Ryan. Fearing he would violate state ethics rules if he kept quiet, Mr. Farmer blew the whistle to Holland & Knight lawyers.
Nathan Koppel, "Lawyer's Charge Opens Window On Bill Padding," The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115689325718248915.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
Jensen Comment
Large accounting firms previously got caught up in bill padding scandals, particularly inflated airline fare reimbursements --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#BigFirms


Warning to retirees: Beware of your families
Financial swindles are one of the fastest-growing forms of elder abuse. By some estimates, as many as five million senior citizens are victimized each year, says Sara Aravanis, director of the nonprofit National Center on Elder Abuse, which provides information to federal and state policy makers. Because of the problem's spread, "many states have laws authorizing financial institutions to report suspicions of elderly abuse," says Bruce Jay Baker, general counsel for the Illinois Bankers Association. Earlier this summer, the Securities and Exchange Commission hosted a Seniors Summit to highlight the issue, with SEC Chairman Christopher Cox noting that protecting seniors' pocketbooks "is one of the most important issues of our time."
Jeff D. Opdyke, "Intimate Betrayal: When the Elderly Are Robbed by Their Family Members," The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2006; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115689331870748918.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

February 18, 2005 message from Joanne Tweed [ibridges@san.rr.com

America's seniors are being cheated of their life's savings by securities Broker/Dealers. 
SENIORS AGAINST SECURITIES FRAUD http://seniorsagainstsecuritiesfraud.com  offers supportive educational links and solutions. Please consider linking.

Most Sincerely,
Joanne Tweed


Fear of Blackboard's Patent Just Will Not Go Away

"Patent Fight Rattles Academic Computing," PhysOrg, August 28, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news75967078.html

Every day, millions of students taking online college courses act in much the same way as their bricks-and-mortar counterparts. After logging on, they move from course to course and do things like submit work in virtual drop boxes and view posted grades - all from a program running on a PC.

It may seem self-evident that virtual classrooms should closely resemble real ones. But a major education software company contends it wasn't always so obvious. And now, in a move that has shaken up the e-learning community, Blackboard Inc. has been awarded a patent establishing its claims to some of the basic features of the software that powers online education.

The patent, awarded to the Washington, D.C.-based company in January but announced last month, has prompted an angry backlash from the academic computing community, which is fighting back in techie fashion - through online petitions and in a sprawling Wikipedia entry that helps make its case.

Critics say the patent claims nothing less than Blackboard's ownership of the very idea of e-learning. If allowed to stand, they say, it could quash the cooperation between academia and the private sector that has characterized e-learning for years and explains why virtual classrooms are so much better than they used to be.

The patent is "is antithetical to the way that academia makes progress," said Michael Feldstein, assistant director of the State University of New York's online learning network and one of the bloggers who has criticized the company.

Blackboard, which recently became the dominant company in the field by acquiring rival WebCT, says the critics misunderstand what the patent claims. But the company does say it must protect its $100 million investment in the technology. The day the patent was announced, Blackboard sued rival Desire2Learn for infringement and is seeking royalties.

"It just wouldn't be a level playing field if someone could come onto the scene tomorrow, copy everything that Blackboard and WebCT have done and call it their own," said Blackboard general counsel Matthew Small.

Waterloo, Ontario-based Desire2Learn said it was surprised by the lawsuit but will defend itself vigorously. No court date has been set.

The dispute is part of a contentious area of the law concerning patents awarded not just on invented objects, but on ideas and processes. In theory, patents can be awarded on a whole range of ideas as long as they are "non-obvious" and the Patent Office sees no evidence they have been described before. Patents have been awarded for everything from types of credit card offers to methods of teaching a golf swing.

Now, the issue is surfacing in the growing field of e-learning.

According to the Sloan Consortium, 2.3 million U.S. college students were taking at least one course entirely online in the fall of 2004 - a figure that is likely higher now and doesn't include "hybrid" classes with both online and in-person components. Most of those students use so-called "Learning Management Systems," which provide the electronic backbone for online education. For-profit and traditional universities are investing millions in these systems, hoping the upfront investment will pay off down the road with a more efficient teaching model.

About 90 percent of colleges use some kind of LMS, according to data from Eduventures, a Boston company that does research and consulting on online learning, and they are used in about 46 percent of classes. Blackboard has about 60 percent of the market for those systems, followed by eCollege and Desire2Learn with about 20 percent each, according to Eduventures.

"A few years ago this was a place to just hang your syllabus, maybe post a couple of links," said Catherine Burdt, a senior analyst with Eduventures. "Increasingly, we see these systems as the foundation of academic computing."

Blackboard's patent doesn't refer to any device or even specific software code. Rather, it describes the basic framework of an LMS. In short, Blackboard says what it invented isn't learning tools like drop boxes, but the idea of putting such tools together in one big, scalable system across a university.

"Our developers sat down and said 'college IT departments are having a lot of trouble managing all these disparate Web sites from each class. How can we turn this into one computer program that manages all of the classes?'" Small said. "That was a leap."

Critics say it was a tiny hop at most.

Blackboard's claims are "incredibly obvious," said Feldstein. The company's patent suggests "that they invented e-learning," said Alfred Essa, associate vice chancellor and CIO of the Minnesota state college and university system.

The academic IT community has taken its case to the blogosphere. Over recent weeks, a sprawling Wikipedia entry has emerged tracking a history of virtual classrooms as far back as 1945 in an effort to demonstrate the idea was not Blackboard's.

Why are universities concerned? Many use off-the-shelf systems sold by Blackboard already. But others use rival companies like Desire2Learn, or mix and match to meet their own needs. Because universities are decentralized and have such varied systems, one size rarely fits all, says Feldstein. Many borrow from open-source courseware programs with names like "Moodle" and "the Sakai Project."

The fear is that universities, afraid of being sued for patent infringement, would stop that mixing, matching and experimenting - and that innovation would suffer. Feldstein notes most LMSs started out as university research projects - including Blackboard itself, at Cornell.

Blackboard's Small denies the company is claiming to own the very idea of e-learning. He says the company supports open source, and notes a Blackboard product called Building Blocks allows users to create their own systems off Blackboard's basic platform. Blackboard, he says, is focussed on commercial providers and has no intention of going after universities - its customers, after all - in court to collect royalties.

"Blackboard is not a troll," he said, referring to the term for companies that establish a patent but don't use it except to exact royalties from others. "We're not trying to put anyone out of business. We're not trying to hinder innovation. We're seeking a reasonable royalty."

Desire2Learn founder and CEO John Baker says his company will fight the patent hard.

"We hope that after we defend ourselves this will be good for everybody in the industry - clients, students, educators, everybody," he said.

It may seem self-evident that virtual classrooms should closely resemble real ones. But a major education software company contends it wasn't always so obvious. And now, in a move that has shaken up the e-learning community, Blackboard has been awarded a patent establishing its claims to some of the basic features of the software that powers online education. The patent, awarded to the Washington, D.C.-based company in January but announced last month, has prompted an angry backlash from the academic computing community, which is fighting back in techie fashion -- through online petitions and in a sprawling Wikipedia entry that helps make its case. Critics say the patent claims nothing less than Blackboard's ownership of the very idea of e-learning. If allowed to stand, they say, it could quash the cooperation between academia and the private sector that has characterized e-learning for years and explains why virtual classrooms are so much better than they used to be. The patent is "is antithetical to the way that academia makes progress," said Michael Feldstein, assistant director of the State University of New York's online learning network and one of the bloggers who has criticized the company.
"Patent Fight in Online Academia," Wired News, August 27, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of eLearning are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

 


Update on HDTV Over the Web
Companies are finding ways to stream high-definition TV signals over the Web. Could the technology make low-quality video at sites like YouTube a distant memory?
Wade Roush, "HDTV over the Internet," MIT's Technology Review, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17375&ch=infotech


Question
Aside from raising money for roads, what's the huge advantage of toll roads?

New research shows that making drivers pay higher tolls at peak times and tracking their location with RFID or GPS technology can eliminate traffic jams.
David Talbot, "Market Forces vs. Traffic Jams," MIT's Technology Review, August 29, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17373&ch=infotech


"Greenhouse Methane Released From Ice Age Ocean," PhysOrg, August 29, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76087184.html

Periods of warming temperatures during the last ice age triggered the release of methane from beneath the ocean, according to U.S. and French researchers. Once in the atmosphere, the methane would have acted as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas.

"This is a new source of methane which has not been looked at before," said Tessa Hill, now assistant professor of geology at UC Davis and at the university's Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Off the California coast -- and elsewhere around the world -- natural petroleum seeps release oil, tar and gas into the bottom of the ocean. Some methane gas finds its way to the surface, while the tar sinks back to the bottom.

Methane is also generated in marine sediments by bacteria and other organisms. Much of the biological methane remains at the sea floor in a chemically "frozen" form.

During 2002, Hill, then a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara, and colleagues sampled ocean sediments off California from a French government research vessel, the R/V Marion Dufresne.

Looking at sediments laid down during the past 30,000 years, they measured the amount of tar left behind by methane seepage and also the temperature at the ocean surface as recorded by the oxygen isotopes included in the shells of tiny sea animals.

Methane emissions peaked between 16,000 to 14,000 years ago and again 11,000 to 10,000 years ago, both periods when glaciers were melting and the ocean was warming.

Continued in article


Outrageous Executive Audacity

"That Other Guy From Omaha," by Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times, August 29, 2006

Mr. Gupta is, shall we say, a piece of work. He often prevents large shareholders from asking questions on conference calls. He has received compensation that was not earned under the terms of the company’s executive compensation program, according to a lawsuit that Cardinal Value Equity Partners, infoUSA’s largest outside holder, filed against the company. And, the suit alleges, his board has given him free rein to dispense stock options to whomever he likes.

Related-party transactions are also routine at infoUSA. The Cardinal lawsuit contends that infoUSA paid a company owned by Mr. Gupta about $608,000 in 2003 to buy his interest in a skybox at the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. The university is Mr. Gupta’s alma mater and home of the Cornhuskers football team. In June 2005, the suit says, infoUSA paid $2.2 million for a long-term lease of his yacht. The yacht, named American Princess, is 80 feet long and has an all-female crew, according to a report in The Triton, a monthly publication for boat captains and crews.

Leases on an H2 Hummer, a gold Honda Odyssey, a Glacier Bay Catamaran, a Mini Cooper, a Lexus 330, a Mercedes SL500 all used by the Gupta clan as well as rent on a Gupta family condominium on Maui have also been financed by infoUSA shareholders, the suit said.

Shareholders also paid a company owned by Mr. Gupta’s wife $64,200 for consulting services in 2003 and 2004. Shareholders have also covered the Gupta family’s personal use of a corporate jet leased by infoUSA from a company owned by the family to have fun in the sun in Hawaii and the Bahamas. Mr. Gupta apparently wasn’t in a mood to return the favor: during a four-year period ending in 2004, infoUSA paid $13.5 million to Mr. Gupta’s private company for use of the aircraft.

What to make of all of this? The Cardinal lawsuit contends that the carnivalesque spending amounts to unregulated perquisites and evidence of a somnambulant board. Sleepy, perhaps, but always on the move. Some 15 directors have spun through infoUSA’s boardroom door over the last decade; five of them stayed less than a year.

It wasn’t until two years ago November 2004 that infoUSA’s board created guidelines for the approval of related-party transactions over $60,000. The Cardinal lawsuit alleges that some of infoUSA’s related-party dealings with certain board members “did not have a sufficient record to show authorizations and whether the services could be procured from other sources at comparable prices.”

None of the infoUSA board members returned phone calls seeking comment. Mr. Gupta did not return several phone calls, either.

But Mr. Gupta’s biggest faux pas occurred in June 2005, when infoUSA warned that its earnings would not be up to expectations. The stock fell from $11.94 a share to $9.85 the day after the announcement. Less than a week later, Mr. Gupta offered to acquire infoUSA for $11.75 a share, far less than the $18 a share he had said the company was worth just a few months earlier.

A special committee of the company’s board was set up to evaluate Mr. Gupta’s offer and to field bids from other possible partners in order to secure the highest possible price for infoUSA shareholders. Almost exactly a year ago, the committee concluded that the $11.75 offer was too low and that it should be subject to a “market check.”

At a board meeting on Aug. 26, 2005, Mr. Gupta said that he would not sell any of his shares to a third party in an alternative transaction, according to the lawsuit. Some directors might have used this opportunity to give Mr. Gupta a well-earned public rebuke. But a majority of the sleepwalkers at infoUSA just got into lockstep with their chief executive.

The directors responded by deciding that there was no need for infoUSA’s special committee to exist. They voted 5 to 3 (with one abstention) to abolish it. The only directors voting for the committee’s continuance were three of its four members; the fourth abstained from voting. The stock closed that day at $10.89.

The vote was the last straw for Cardinal Value Equity Partners. It filed suit in February against Mr. Gupta, some of infoUSA’s directors and the company itself.

“Our suit says that the special committee was prematurely terminated, that they didn’t get to finish their work and that was the wrong decision by the entire board,” said Robert B. Kirkpatrick, a managing director at Cardinal Capital Management. “We’re not asking for $100 billion; we ask that the special committee be reconstituted to be able to have the time to fulfill their original mandate as dictated by the board.”

In other words, to reopen the possibility of a buyout.

IN the meantime, all is right in Mr. Gupta’s gilded world. About three weeks ago, on Aug. 4, infoUSA announced that it was buying Opinion Research, a consulting services company, for $12 a share, an almost 100 percent premium to Opinion Research’s market price the day before the announcement.

Lo and behold, who owned Opinion Research shares the day the deal was announced? The Vinod Gupta Revocable Trust, according to a regulatory filing, owned 33,000 shares. The trust, controlled by Mr. Gupta, sold 22,000 of its shares after the merger announcement sent Opinion Research’s stock rocketing.

The trust’s shares don’t represent a huge stake, but it is worth asking: Did infoUSA’s directors know that the Gupta trust was an Opinion Research shareholder when they signed off on the premium-priced deal? And what gains did the trust record when it sold into the deal-jazzed market? For now, the answers are unclear.

In coming weeks, a judge in Delaware will rule on whether the Cardinal lawsuit can proceed. InfoUSA has asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying that it has no merit.

“Unfortunately, the system is broken in this case,” said Donald T. Netter, senior managing director at Dolphin Financial Partners, a private investment partnership in Stamford, Conn., that is an infoUSA shareholder. “The board has failed to protect the unaffiliated shareholders. When the system works properly, you shouldn’t get into these situations.”

No kidding.

Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation schemes are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#OutrageousCompensation


The last episode of the HBO series “Deadwood”
The last episode of
the HBO series “Deadwood” ran on Sunday evening, bringing to an end one of the most unusual and absorbing experiments in historical storytelling ever attempted on the small screen. The network’s decision not to continue the program is understandable (it was very expensive to film) if by no means easy to forgive.
Scott McLemee, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/08/30/mclemee


Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/

Latest Headlines on September 1, 2006

Latest Headlines on September 2, 2006

Latest Headlines on September 6, 2006

 

 


Fruit juice could help stave off Alzheimer's: study
Drinking fruit or vegetable juice several times a week could help protect against Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the September issue of The American Journal of Medicine. The nine-year study involving nearly 2,000 people, led by Professor Qi Dai of Tennessee's Vanderbilt University, showed that the risk of developing Alzheimer's -- a degenerative brain disease that affects a person's memory, thinking and mood -- was cut by 76 percent among those who drank fruit or vegetable juice more than three times a week. Among those who drank juice once a week, the risk was reduced by 16 percent.
"Juice could help stave off Alzheimer's: study," PhysOrg, August 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76266077.html


Milwaukee may be the bingiest city, but the "best" is still in the "west"
A federal government survey recently confirmed what residents of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas already knew: people there drink to excess, at very early ages, well above the national average. The survey, conducted over three years by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said south-central Wyoming led the nation with the highest rate of alcohol abuse by people age 12 and older. In Albany and Carbon counties, more than 30 percent of people under age 20 binge drink — 50 percent above the national average. In examining behavior in 340 regions of the country, the survey found that 7 of the top 10 areas for under-age binge drinking — defined as five or more drinks at a time — were in Wyoming, Montana and North and South Dakota.
Timothy Egan, "Boredom in the West Fuels Binge Drinking," The New York Times, September 2, 2006 --- Click Here

Help for Binge Drinkers and Alcoholics in General from the National Institute of Health
A Clinician's Guide --- http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/CliniciansGuide2005/clinicians_guide.htm 

Why do some people with a strong family history of alcoholism develop alcohol dependency while others do not? A new study provides clues that differing brain chemistry may provide part of the answer
Researchers from four scientific institutions and federal agencies working at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have found that elevated levels of D2 receptors for dopamine -- a chemical "messenger" in the brain's reward circuits -- may provide a protective effect for those most at risk for developing alcoholism. The study, part of an ongoing effort to understand the biochemical basis of alcohol abuse, also provides new evidence for a linkage between emotional attributes and brain function. The study appears in the September 2006 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. "Higher levels of dopamine D2 receptors may provide protection against alcoholism by triggering the brain circuits involved in inhibiting behavioral responses to the presence of alcohol," said lead author Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and former Associate Laboratory Director for life sciences research at Brookhaven Lab. "This means that treatment strategies for alcoholism that increase dopamine D2 receptors could be beneficial for at-risk individuals."
"Study offers clues to brain's protective mechanisms against alcoholism," PhysOrg, September 4, 2006 ---
http://physorg.com/news76606058.html

 


The Latest Buzz on the Mosquito War
It's a war that began more than a century ago, but there's no end in sight. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year. And hundreds of scientists have devoted their lives to it. It's the battle against disease-carrying mosquitoes. Science writer Jennifer Kahn learned just how bad for you these tiny pests can be. On a trip to Thailand, she caught dengue fever from a mosquito bite. She fell ill on the long flight back and spent several weeks at home recovering.
"The Latest Buzz on the Mosquito War," by Steve Inskeep, NPR, September 4, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5753574


Older fathers 'raise autism risk'
Children with older fathers have a significantly increased risk of having autism, a study has concluded. The UK and US researchers examined data on 132,271 children and said those born to men over 40 were six times more at risk than those born to men under 30. They said the study in Archives of General Psychiatry was further proof men also had "biological clocks". One UK expert said the study could be important in understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying autism.
"Older fathers 'raise autism risk'," BBC News, September 4, 2006 --- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5313874.stm

Also see http://physorg.com/news76669941.html


The Man Who Fed the World
Who? Norman Borlaug, 92, is the father of the "Green Revolution," the dramatic improvement in agricultural productivity that swept the globe in the 1960s. He is now the subject of an admiring biography by Leon Hesser, a former State Department official who first met Mr. Borlaug 40 years ago in Pakistan, where they worked together to boost that country's grain production. "The Man Who Fed the World" describes, in a workmanlike way, how a poor Iowa farm boy trained in forestry and plant pathology came to be one of humanity's greatest benefactors.
Ronald Bailey, "The Man Who Fed the World:  How a poor Iowa farm boy came to be one of humanity's greatest benefactors," The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110008897


Things to Avoid in College Applications (and I suspect employment applications)

"The Admit Office's Hate List:  Excuses don't cut it, say seasoned admissions officials. Here's what not to say, from the folks who have heard it all," by Kerry Miller, Business Week, August 22, 2006 ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/aug2006/bs20060822_0207_bs001.htm?link_position=link1

 

Whether it be gaps in your employment history, significant job-hopping, or a lower-than-you'd like GPA or GMAT score, many prospective B-schoolers have something in their applications that they worry doesn't reflect their true abilities. Is the worry justified? Actually, say admissions counselors, yes. "If you think the admissions committee will question something, we probably will," says Alison Merzel, co-director of MBA admissions at Ohio State's Fisher College of Business].

You can try gloss over the shortcomings, or you can make excuses. Either way, you won't win any points with B-schools admissions offices. Fortunately, most schools' applications include an optional essay with an open-ended question like, "Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Admissions Committee?" that's designed so you can explain any mitigating factors behind the data. "The more information that we have about you, the better," says Beth Flye, assistant dean and director of admissions and financial aid at
Kellogg.

While some applicants might think that drawing extra attention to a problem could be a bad approach, admissions officers say addressing problems head-on—and demonstrating why you can succeed in spite of them—is a much better strategy than trying to hide behind them. "Don't leave a gap in your application that would leave us wondering. Address it, and then move on," says Christina Ballenger, co-director of MBA admissions at Ohio State.

But how you address the problem can make all the difference. In fact, admissions directors say MBA candidates sometimes go overboard trying to compensate for the weaknesses (or perceived weaknesses) in their applications. Here's what they say are some of the most common tactics that backfire.

1. Making Excuses Instead of Offering Explanations
When addressing problems in your application, beware the fine line between explaining and making excuses. "We want everybody to take responsibility for their lives," says Rose Martinelli, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions at
Chicago's Graduate School of Business. "Excuses drive me nuts."

For instance, in explaining inconsistencies in your application, use the old writing teacher's cliche, "Show, don't tell," as your guide. Daniel Garza, assistant dean at the University of Texas'
McCombs School of Business, encourages taking a "journalistic approach": sticking to the facts, rather than editorializing. In other words, "Don't have a pity party for yourself in your application," says Ballenger.

"What I look for is complete honesty," says Brian Lohr, director of admissions at Notre Dame's
Mendoza College of Business. "There's an ethical component there, too." If you say you're a "not a good test taker"—and admissions officers say lots of people do— demonstrate how you've taken steps to deal with it in the past. ("And you can't tell me that if you only took the test once," Martinelli adds.) Low GPA? "Make a case for how it will be different this time around," says Anne Coyle, director of admissions at the Yale School of Management. No quantitative courses on your transcript? Talk about the statistics class you're taking now to catch up, says Kellogg's Flye.

And remember, there are only so many elements of your application you can explain away. "I'm too busy" is one excuse that often sends eyes rolling, especially when it's used as a catch-all to explain low test scores, lack of extracurricular involvement, and lackluster essays. "We get applicants from people working Herculean hours who still manage to turn in top-notch applications," says
Wharton Director of MBA Admissions Thomas Caleel. "If you're too busy, maybe it's better to wait until the next round to apply."

2. Writing What You Think They Want To Hear
"A lot of people assume—incorrectly—that's we're looking for a love letter," says Wharton's Caleel. While he says his office stresses this point "until we're all blue in the face," every year applicants still try to second-guess the admissions committee by writing what they think is the "correct" answer, losing their own voice in the process.

The tip-off, Flye says, are essays that sound "almost too crafted," and interviews that sound "almost scripted." Soojin Koh, interim director of admissions at the University of Michigan's
Ross School of Business, says she sees candidates every year who opt for memorization instead of self-reflection. "They try to regurgitate our viewbook and Web site, repeating back our own buzzwords," she says.

Carrie Marcinkevage, MBA admissions director at Penn State's
Smeal College of Business, says such "obvious schmoozing" is one of her biggest pet peeves: "If I read one more essay that says, 'If I didn't have to work for a living, I'd do volunteer work'—when the person has no background in volunteerism, or 'I would travel because I want to see the many diverse cultures of the world'…""

3. Getting Too Personal
On the other hand, telling the admissions committee just what they don't want to hear can be a risky strategy as well. While there's no consensus among admissions officers about what topics are off-limits, a good general rule is that if it's inappropriate for dinner-party conversation, it probably doesn't belong in your B-school essay.

Martinelli says the key question for her is, "Is it relevant?" In general, she cautions applicants to avoid the victim mentality in their essays. Bringing up a difficult situation—for example, a close friend's stint in rehab—could offer real insight into an applicant's character. Or it could just reflect poorly on it. "If it doesn't relate, we would question the judgment," says Caleel.

Laurie Stewart, executive director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon's
Tepper School of Business, says candidates should also use caution when they list their personal Web sites or blogs on their application, because admissions officers will visit them. If what they find are pictures of you doing keg stands with your buddies, that might reflect poorly on your judgment, Stewart says.

Lack of judgment is also a factor in the admissions interview, when Coyle says that asking too many personal questions of an interviewer (for example: "Are you married?") is inappropriate. While prospectives might feel pressured to ask questions of the interview like in a normal conversation, "an interview really is all about the applicant," Coyle adds.

4. Obvious Resume Padding
Overinflating titles, responsibilities, or hours put into work or extracurricular activities can get applicants in trouble. Admissions officers read so many resumes that they've got a pretty good handle on, say, what a first-year analyst does, and what their career trajectory looks like. "If someone is a relatively recent college grad, and they're suddenly saying they're at a managerial level, that's a red flag," says Carmen Castro-Rivera, director of Master's admissions at Purdue's
Krannert School of Management.

Martinelli says applicants who say they work 80 hours a week and spend 30 to 50 hours on extracurriculars make admissions officers wonder, "Is that actually possible?" Ballenger says she's also suspicious of extracurricular activities that all have a start date of 2006 for a 2006 application, or of a long list of organization memberships without any leadership roles. Flye says it gives her pause when an applicant doesn't mention a seemingly significant activity or leadership role elsewhere in their essays or interview.

5. Title-Shopping
Most schools strongly suggest—if not require—that you get a recommendation letter from your current supervisor. And all B-schools prefer that recommendations come from someone who knows you well in a business—not a personal—context.

What's even worse are recommendations from people who barely know you at all. Julie Strong, senior associate director of admissions at
MIT-Sloan, says her office once received a letter from a country's prime minister that commented primarily on the prominence of the applicant's family—not about the applicant's specific abilities.

Caleel says Wharton "actively discourages" that kind of title-shopping, and adds that a recommendation from a CEO or a congressman who can't speak in detail about your work won't impress the admissions committee. "Choose your recommender based on how well they know you, not their prestige factor," says
Harvard's Britt Dewey. "If all they can say is 'John lived next door to me and cut my grass,' or 'He was my son's best friend in college,' that doesn't help at all," says Rivera.

6. Playing Alpha-Dog
Coyle admits, "It's a tricky thing, striking the right balance between being confident and a good self-promoter without being arrogant and over the top." But being too intense—or even worse, condescending or rude—is no way to win points with the admissions committee (see BusinessWeek.com, 7/31/06,
"When 'Persistent' Becomes 'Pushy'"). "We're a very team-based learning environment, and we want people who interact well with others," says Caleel. "We don't want someone who's just here for themselves."

Rivera says her office doesn't look favorably on alpha personalities that intimidate and exclude other people. Much of that comes through in the interview portion of the application process, but admissions officers scour essays for clues to your personality as well. For example, using "I" in situations where "we" would be more appropriate is one potential sign that a person overemphasizes personal rather team wins, says Garza.

But of course, there's no magic number of "I's" and "we's." And Koh says the converse is equally problematic. "Overusing 'we' can raise questions like, 'Well what did you do? Are you taking credit for your team's success?'"

Garza also says that how a candidate discusses promotions at work can show a lot about their motivations—overly stressing financial and material gains is a sign that someone might care a little too much about power and wealth. Criticizing or blaming other people for your failures doesn't typically go over well, either. Flye's advice: Keep it positive. "We want confident people who can attack problems and questions, not attack each other."

So before you sign and seal that application, check to see if you've committed any of the above transgressions. Remember, B-schools admit offices have seen lots more applications than you have, and admissions officers have a finely-tuned ear for inauthenticity. The bottom line, B-schools say, is that they want to see the real you—not the person your application says you would like to be.


In the U.S. media, troubles in this part of the world are seldom reported
"Only about 10 per cent of the young boys here have jobs," said Ken Sain. "The rest hang around drinking beer, smoking marijuana, and committing robberies, thefts, bag snatching. When the government leaders steal millions nothing happens. When we steal five kina we get 10 years in Bomana." Facing this is a Papua New Guinea police force whose numbers have dropped to below 4000 personnel, thanks to a halt to recruiting since 2001 because of budget constraints. That is for a country of 5.5 million people, spread across rugged mountains and remote islands. "We are one against a thousand, with their guns and drugs," said a senior policeman in Mount Hagen.
"Dejected police fight a losing battle," Sydney Morning Herald, September 4, 2006 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2006/09/03/1157222010832.html


"Why Are We Even Here For?’," by J.D. Scrimgeour, Inside Higher Ed, September 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/09/01/scrimgeour

This past year, for the first time, I taught African American literature: two sections each semester of a yearlong sequence, around 22 students per section. The first semester we began with Phyllis Wheatley and ended with the Harlem Renaissance. The second semester we started with Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright and ended with Percival Everett’s satire, Erasure, published early in the new millennium.

The students in these classes weren’t the ones I typically had in my writing classes. About half were white, and the other half were black, Latino, or Asian. They were generally uninterested or inexperienced in reading, simply trying to satisfy the college’s literature requirement. One day before spring break I was assigning the class a hundred pages from Toni Morrison’s Sula, and one student looked aghast. “We have to read during vacation?” he sputtered. I learned from them the whole year.

In the fall semester, I was teaching W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk. As classes go, it had been fairly dull. Du Bois’s essays didn’t have the compelling story line of the slave narratives that we had read earlier in the semester. We had just begun examining Du Bois’s idea of “double consciousness.” It is a complicated notion that an African American, at least around 1900 when Du Bois was writing, had “no true self-consciousness” because he was “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others ... measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” In class, I read this definition, paraphrased it, then asked, “Does this make sense to you?”

There was the usual pause after I ask a question and then, from Omar, a large, seemingly lethargic African American, came a soulful, deep-throated “yeah.” The word reverberated in the haphazard circle of desks as we registered the depths from which he had spoken. The room’s silence after his “yeah” was not the bored silence that had preceded it. The air was charged. Someone had actually meant something he had said. Someone was talking about his own life, even if it was only one word.

I followed up: “So what do you do about this feeling? How do you deal with it?”

Everyone was staring at Omar, but he didn’t seem to notice. He looked at me a second, then put his head down and shook it, slowly, as if seeing and thinking were too much for him. “I don’t know, man. I don’t know.”

The rest of the heads in class dropped down, too, and students began reviewing the passage, which was no longer just a bunch of incomprehensible words by some long-dead guy with too many initials.

Every book that we studied after that day, some student would bring up double consciousness, incorporating it smartly into our discussion. Omar had branded the concept into everyone’s minds, including mine.

One idea that arises from double consciousness is that, without “true self-consciousness,” you risk giving in and accepting society’s definitions of yourself, becoming what society tells you that you are. Such a capitulation may be what happens to Bigger Thomas, the protagonist of Richard Wright’s Native Son, a novel we read during the second semester. Native Son is a brutal book. Bigger, a poor African American from the Chicago ghetto, shows little regret after he murders two women. His first victim is Mary, the daughter of a wealthy white family for whom Bigger works as a driver. After Bigger carries a drunk, semiconscious Mary up to her room, he accidentally suffocates her with a pillow while trying to keep her quiet so his presence won’t be discovered. Realizing what he has done, he hacks up her body and throws it in the furnace. Emboldened rather than horrified, he writes a ransom note to the family and eventually kills his girlfriend, Bessie, whom he drags into the scheme. In the end, he’s found out, and, after Chicago is thrown into a hysterical, racist-charged panic, he’s caught, brought to trial — a very long trial that contains a communist lawyer’s exhaustive defense of Bigger that is an indictment of capitalism and racism — and sentenced to death.

Readers, to this day, are not sure what to make of Bigger. Is he to be pitied? Is he a warning? A symbol? A product of American racism?

During the second week of teaching Native Son, I was walking through the college’s athletic facility when I heard my name, “Mr. Scrimgeour. Mr. Scrimgeour...”

I turn and it is Keith, an African American from the class. “Hey, I wanted to tell you, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” He has missed a few classes, but no more than most students. Maybe he hasn’t turned in his last response paper.

“Yeah, I’m going to talk in class more.” I nod. He looks at me as if I’m not following. “Like Bigger, I don’t know.... I don’t like it.” His white baseball cap casts a shadow over his face so that I can barely see his eyes.

“What don’t you like?”

“He’s, like,” Keith grimaces, as if he isn’t sure that he should say what he is about to say. “He’s like a stereotype — he’s like what people — some people — say about us.”

On “us,” he points to his chest, takes a step back, and gives a pained half grin, his teeth a bright contrast to his dark, nearly black skin.

“Yeah,” I say. “That’s understandable. You should bring that up in the next class. We’ll see what other people think.”

He nods. “And I’m sorry,” he says, taking another step back, “It’s just that....” He taps his chest again, “I’m shy.”

Keith has trouble forming complete sentences when he writes. I don’t doubt that my fourth-grade son can write with fewer grammatical errors. Yet he had identified the criticism of Wright’s book made by such writers as James Baldwin and David Bradley, whose essays on Native Son we would read after we finished the novel. And he knew something serious was at stake — his life — that chest, and what was inside it, that he’d tapped so expressively. Was Bigger what Baldwin identified as the “inverse” of the saccharine Uncle Tom stereotype? Was Wright denying Bigger humanity? And, if so, should we be reading the book?

To begin answering these questions required an understanding of Bigger. For me, such an understanding would come not just from the text, but from my students’ own lives.

That Keith apologized for his lack of participation in class is not surprising. My students are generally apologetic. “I’m so ashamed,” one student said to me, explaining why she didn’t get a phone message I’d left her. “I live in a shelter with my daughter.” Many of them feel a sense of guilt for who they are, a sense that whatever went wrong must be their fault. These feelings, while often debilitating, enable my students, even Keith, to understand Bigger, perhaps better than most critics. Keith, who — at my prompting — spoke in class about being pulled over by the police, understood the accumulation of guilt that makes you certain that what you are doing, and what you will do, is wrong. Bigger says he knew he was going to murder someone long before he actually does, that it was as if he had already murdered.

Unlike his critics, Richard Wright had an unrelentingly negative upbringing. As he details in his autobiography, Black Boy, Wright was raised in poverty by a family that discouraged books in the violently racist South. There was little, if anything, that was sustaining or nurturing. Perhaps a person has to have this sense of worthlessness ground into one’s life to conceive of a character like Bigger. Like my students, one must be told that one isn’t much often enough so that it is not simply an insult, but a seemingly intractable truth.

“I’m sorry,” Keith had said. It was something Bigger could never really bring himself to say, and in this sense the Salem State students were much different from Bigger. Their response to society’s intimidation isn’t Bigger’s rebelliousness. Wright documents Bigger’s sense of discomfort in most social interactions, particularly when speaking with whites, during which he is rendered virtually mute, stumbling through “yes, sirs” and loathing both himself and the whites while doing so.

Although my students weren’t violent, they identified with Bigger’s discomfort — they’d experienced similar, less extreme discomforts talking to teachers, policemen, and other authority figures. As a way into discussing Bigger, I’d asked them to write for a few minutes in class about a time in which they felt uncomfortable and how they had responded to the situation. I joined them in the exercise. Here’s what I wrote:

As a teenager, after school, I would go with a few other guys and smoke pot in the parking lot of the local supermarket, then go into the market’s foyer and play video games stoned. While I felt uncomfortable about smoking pot in the parking lot, I didn’t really do much. I tried to urge the guys I was with to leave the car and go inside and play the video games, but it wouldn’t mean the same thing: to just go in and play the games would be childish, uncool, but to do it after smoking pot made it OK — and once I was in the foyer, it was OK.; I wouldn’t get in trouble. But mostly I did nothing to stop us. I toked, like everyone else. I got quiet. I didn’t really hear the jokes, but forced laughter anyway. I was very attentive to my surroundings — was that lady walking out with the grocery cart looking at us? Afterward, when we went in and manipulated those electronic pulses of light and laughed at our failures, we weren’t just laughing at our failures, we were laughing at what we had gotten away with.

After they had worked in groups, comparing their own experiences to Bigger’s, I shared my own writing with the class. Of course, there were smiles, as well as a few looks of astonishment and approbation. I had weighed whether to confess to my “crime,” and determined that it might lead to learning, as self-disclosure can sometimes do, and so here I was, hanging my former self out on a laundry line for their inspection.

What came of the discussion was, first of all, how noticeable the differences were between my experience and Bigger’s. I was a middle class white boy who assumed he would be going to college. I believed I had a lot to lose from being caught, while Bigger, trapped in a life of poverty, may not have felt such risks. Also, the discomfort I was feeling was from peer pressure, rather than from the dominant power structure. Indeed, my discomfort arose from fact that I was breaking the rules, whereas Bigger’s arose from trying to follow the rules — how he was supposed to act around whites.

Continued in article


From the Scout Report on September 1, 2006

Entourage3D --- http://quicksilver.caup.washington.edu/entourage/index.php 

From charettes to ateliers, architectural education is dedicated to collaborative learning environments. In recent years, some of these activities have migrated to the web, and along the way a number of forward- thinking individuals have seen fit to create online resources that might be of use to students working in this field. Created by the Design Machine Group at the University of Washington’s Department of Architecture, the entourage 3D database includes “building blocks, complete models, and ‘finishing touches’ for users to download and use.” Visitors will appreciate the fact that they can browse these resources by such categories as building component, lighting element, office furniture, or street furniture. Visitors will need to complete a free registration before looking at the various designs and plans available here, but this only takes a few moments.


TEDTalks --- http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/index.cfm?flashEnabled=1 

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and this acronym is familiar to those in the know as an annual conference that brings together talented persons from each of these fields every year to Monterey, CA. The price of attending the conference is a bit steep, but never fear, as this site will give users access to some of these provocative and enlightening sessions presented at their various gatherings. Through a partnership with BMW and New York Public Radio, the talks can be viewed in their entirety, or visitors can just listen to the audio portion if they so wish. Currently, there are several dozen presentations, including those by Jimmy Wales (the founder of Wikipedia), Nicholas Negroponte, and Al Gore. The wide range of persons selected for the annual TED conference is rather appealing, and overall, there area number of intriguing ideas presented throughout their number.


Foundation Coalition: Active/Cooperative Learning --- http://clte.asu.edu/active/main.htm 

In some disciplines, particularly those with an applied component, cooperative education has been standard operating procedure in the classroom for over a century. Engineering is one such discipline, and this insightful website provides a number of resources for educators looking for some helpful modules to use in their own classrooms. Appropriately enough, the sections on the site include “Preparing”, “Planning”, “Implementing”, “Assessment”, and “Lessons and Activities”. The “Preparing” section offers a good selection of activities that help instructors create a productive classroom environment, and the “Lessons and Activities” section contains very useful content-specific lessons that address such topics as steady state open-system devices and database management. Additional lessons include those on aerospace principles, freshmen engineering projects, and engineering statistics.


JetPhoto Studio 3.2.1 --- http://www.jetphotosoft.com/web/home/ 

As the summer draws to a close, some people may find themselves with the heavy burden of cataloging and organizing their digital photographs. Fortunately, JetPhoto Studio 3.2.1 will make this process a bit easier. With this application, users can add keyword tags to each photo and also use a GPS-drive photo locator to add great geographic specificity to each item. Of course, the application makes it easy to send along the albums to friends and family via email. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and XP or Mac OS X 10.3 or higher.


CatsCradle 3.5 --- http://www.stormdance.net/software/catscradle/overview.htm 

Many websurfers enjoy going to sites that might be based in other countries, and as such, they might very well encounter a different language. With CatsCradle 3.5, these persons need worry no more, as this application can be used to translate entire websites in such languages as Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows XP or 2000.

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


"Tales of Intrigue:  The top political novels," by Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110008851 
 

1. "The Prime Minister" by Anthony Trollope (1876).

The late British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan famously relished going to bed with a good Trollope--Anthony Trollope, that is, the Victorian novelist. Trollope's sextet of novels known as "The Pallisers," interwoven with plots filled with true-to-life details about the workings of the House of Commons, is unrivaled in capturing the allures and temptations of politics. The apex of the series is "The Prime Minister," the tale of an unscrupulous man's campaign for Parliament and the prime minister's wife who supports him against her husband's wishes. Like the rest of the series, "The Prime Minister" offers psychological insights--on power, sex, love, money--that are sharper than anything Freud wrote a half-century later.

2. "Shelley's Heart" by Charles McCarry (Random House, 1995).

America's best writer of espionage novels produced this gripping tale of political intrigue that is also an audacious romp through contemporary Washington mores. A scene at a Georgetown dinner party attended by a former president, a Supreme Court justice, a speaker of the House, a reporter and a lesbian ranks as one of the funniest scenes in contemporary American fiction. No one writes better--or more cynically--than Mr. McCarry about the parasitic relationship between politicians and the press: "The reporters surged forward, as though their many bodies were controlled by a single overloaded brain . . . the Speaker's name was uttered like a mating call by two dozen identically pitched voices. . . .The creature was dangerous but predictable. It was always hungry: to keep it at bay, to prevent it from having bad memories of you, you had to feed it each time you saw it." This isn't your daddy's Woodward and Bernstein.

3. "Death of a Red Heroine" by Qiu Xiaolong (Soho, 2000).

Set in 1990s Shanghai, "Death of a Red Heroine" is an intriguing detective yarn as well as a commentary on how the Communist Party remains the controlling force in most aspects of ordinary life in China. While this is changing--especially in Beijing and Shanghai, where the "work unit" is no longer regnant--Party members still have access to better jobs, better apartments and even, in some cases, better options in love. One thing that hasn't changed is the personal power wielded by China's top officials and their families. Mr. Qiu's inspector-poet risks all when his investigation takes him too close to one of China's untouchable princelings, the son of a high-ranking official in Beijing. Mr. Qiu can write so accurately about life in the new China because he was born and grew up there; he can write so candidly because he now lives in the U.S., where he teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

4. "Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler (Macmillan, 1941).

The words "Russia" and "Soviet Union" do not appear in this petrifying story of life in Stalin's Russia during the Moscow show trials, but every reader of the day knew exactly what Koestler was writing about and whom the totalitarian leader known merely as "Number One" was modeled on. "Darkness at Noon" recounts the fate of Rubashov, an old revolutionary who is charged with treason and thrown in prison, where he is brainwashed and tortured; he ultimately confesses to imaginary crimes against the state. Koestler was himself a disillusioned Communist, and "Darkness at Noon" was greeted with rage by Western intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, who pegged the book for what it was: a searing indictment of life in a totalitarian society.

5. "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren (Harcourt, Brace, 1946).

Robert Penn Warren was the nation's first poet laureate, and it's easy to understand why when lingering over the beautiful language in this lushly written novel. But it's also a rollicking good read. Based on the life of Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana, "All the King's Men" is the rags-to-riches story of Willie Stark, a small-town Southern politician who starts out as an idealistic young man of the people and ends up corrupted by the system he had sought to reform. Seen from the perspective of our new century, it's also a window into daily life in the Old South--its prejudices, language, manners and mores.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.


Hysterical and True (I think)

"Reading Flaubert and More in Belize," by Fleur LaDouleur (the part that isn't true), Inside Higher Ed, August 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/08/28/ladouleur

Spring 2006 was a difficult time in the department. At first, people weren’t speaking to each other; then, the halls were simply empty. I don’t know where most of my colleagues were hiding out. I frequented the medical school cafeteria, where you could count the people not wearing scrubs on one hand — me and four others . . . I spent May and June finishing proofs for a book I had translated from French to English and revisions to an article on gorillas, Dian Fossey, and excrement.

. . .

I was tired of coming up with synonyms for excrement: waste, shit, dung, the abject, poop, caca, number two. The editor of the British journal that accepted the article wrote me that foax is the singular of feces. The local school board announced that my daughter’s elementary school will close for budgetary reasons. Amazon.com informed me that it couldn’t send me the books for my fall classes because my university credit card had been rejected. I scanned the job ads and then booked us on a three-week vacation to Belize. I packed two paperbacks that I already owned, Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pcuchet for a graduate course, and Franois Mauriac’s Thrse Desqueyroux for an undergrad course on crime in French literature.

My husband insisted we go light — each of us would have a backpack — so I wore my new Keen sandals and packed three pairs of shorts, four tank tops, one long-sleeved shirt, and minimal toiletry items. I got a bikini wax, a dose of antibiotics, and a hepatitis A shot. My daughter, Lucy, settled on three small stuffies and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in the series by C.S. Lewis. My husband packed a relief map of Belize and said we should think of retiring there. Lucy breathed easy when I told her that they speak English in Belize (she had been traumatized by the French public school system while we lived there on a sabbatical). We took two planes to Cancun and a bus to Belize. I had set up an automatic e-mail reply that stated I would be back shortly before classes started and that I would not have regular access to e-mail in the interim. The Israeli-Hezbollah war began.

It was incongruous reading Bouvard et Pcuchet while riding on old American school buses in Belize. With the radio blaring two songs — one about “de subway” and the other insisting “dme ms gasolina” — I read about the Frenchmen who were amassing a personal museum from medieval church fragments. Flaubert was mocking them. I mixed up the names, for Bouvard seemed more of a Pcuchet and vice versa. They had bought a farm to escape Paris. We passed by the Mennonite settlement of Shipyard. A very large Spiderman piata occupied its own seat.

I plowed through B et P on the balcony of a hotel in Orange Walk at dawn, unable to sleep due to the time change. A Baptist missionary from Kentucky joined me on the balcony and talked of feeding the poor kids in town. We saw Mayan ruins and our guide talked of the destruction of Orange Walk due to crack cocaine. The hotel room was miniscule and not ventilated. Every evening the Orange Walk drum corps and baton team practiced across the street in a lot by the Shell station. We moved on to San Ignacio, in the Cayo District, and to a lodge in the village of Bullet Tree.

At Cohune Palms we had a thatched cabana for a week. The river was too flooded for swimming and canoeing, but Lucy and my husband went caving and I took her to Tikal, across the border in Guatemala. I had gotten a bladder infection in Orange Walk and had begun my antibiotics. I had also bought two rounds of Cipro over the counter for $8, just in case. Prescient of me, since the infection continued. I checked my e-mail. More fly droppings. No response from the last job I had applied for.

Bevin, from Idaho, ran the lodge with her Rastafarian husband, Mike. She was 10 years younger than me and in the “library” I found a version of Short Story Masterpieces that came out in the mid-80s and that had a completely different set of stories than the edition I had read in high school. Mine had Conrad’s “An Outpost of Progress,” Saki’s “The Open Window,” and Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams,” still one of my favorites. Hers had Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” and James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues.” I read it in a hammock and tried not to let the wilted pages get away from each other. A fer-de-lance viper snake curled up on a chair on Bevin and Mike’s porch, inches from their daughter and mine. Workers killed it with a machete.

The only other tourist with Lucy and me on the trip to Tikal was Will, an American undergraduate at the University of Houston, in Belize to study HIV. He had taken Mythology 101 in the spring and was happy to tell Lucy the story of the Titans, again and again. He had to tell it twice at lunch and twice on the way back to Cayo. Lucy was in awe. By the second telling she was asking pointed questions and Will was inventing answers that incorporated the Mayan cosmology, laid out in the Popul Voh, which he was reading. Back at Cohune Palms I read Vance Bourjaily’s “The Amish Farmer.”

We took a bus on the Hummingbird Highway to Stann Creek, where the Garifuna population has a drum center in Hopkins. We sat outside our cabana and watched neighbors empty their trash onto the beach at sunset; papers fluttered in the wind. The hotel owner cut green coconuts with a machete and Lucy drank the juice. Trash made its way over, like fall leaves that are not bagged and make it into the neighbors’ yards. Buses always had their doors open and plastic bottles and wrappers made their way to the front and slipped out. We took a bus to Belize City and then a boat to Caye (pronounced KEY) Caulker.

Less expensive than Ambergris Caye, which we were told was built entirely on drug money, and more laid back, Caye Caulker was a small island of three main dirt roads, with golf carts instead of cars. We stayed a week in a small cabana back from the beach, rented bikes, and slept through the sizzling middle of the day. Lucy got to know the neighborhood children and five of them formed a gang: Lucy, the only girl but who is often mistaken for a boy; Kemar, an independent and unreliable Creole, also eight; Christian, a cheerful Mestizo six-year-old; Christian’s younger brother, who remained unnamed and had to be carried up and down ladders and trees; and “Fat Boy,” who insisted on being called by his nickname. They collected and ate coco plums and craboo berries, played on the rundown elementary school’s swings and slide, climbed fences and trees, and established a clubhouse in an abandoned beach shack. Lucy’s favorite moment was being chased from a yard by an old man who yelled “Git! Git!” By day three, she was determined that we would live forever on the island. She wore her McDonalds Happy Meal Pirates of the Caribbean bandana, a shark-tooth necklace, and carried a big stick. Fire ants laid claim to the gang’s bare feet and Fat Boy told her she would die from them. Christian, trying to cheer her, reminded her that her parents would die long before her. She returned to the cabana in tears.

The sun was stronger than I’d ever felt it. I read Thrse Raquin and nodded off. I soon tired of reggae music and the Creole spoken by Rastafarians, peppered with the F-word every two seconds. The “beach” was a small bit of sand bordered by a concrete wall that had tumbled during the last hurricane. Thirst was ever present; the bottled water, rum and lime juice, and Belikins (Belizean beer) couldn’t or wouldn’t quench it. I had finished the first round of Cipro, began the second, and bought a third round, terrified of that stinging feeling in my private area while bouncing on a bus. We headed to the Zoo and Monkey Bay.

We were the only guests at Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary; our accommodations included latrines, hammocks, and mosquito netting around the beds, but no fans. We continued to remind ourselves that one does not flush toilet paper anywhere in Belize, here in particular because the excrement is used, in the form of methane gas, for cooking. I was back, knee-high, in primate foax. I imagined myself as Dian Fossey, always wet, always dirty, always itchy. Our rooms opened onto a “library” filled with books about herbal remedies, Mayan culture, and sustainable ecology, as well as fiction left by former interns. I abandoned Thrse Raquin. I knew how it would end: not with a bang, but with a whimper characterized by the moaning of wind through pine trees.

I read Phillip Gourevitch’s A Cold Case, about a murderer found many years after his crime. A theme was emerging, from “A Good Man is Hard To Find,” to “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” to Leonard Michaels’ “Murderers” and O. Henry’s “A Retrieved Reformation,” the later of which I found in a collection of stories in Monkey Bay: criminal men (a nice contrast to would-be husband killer Thrse), from a safe cracker to murderers and rapists. I thought of my father, also a criminal, although never a rapist or murderer. Robbery, drugs. When he could go back and forth between Miami and Cuba he was fine; once Cuba was closed off he had no outlet for urges that would put him in prison in the States. I’ve always felt odd, an academic with an uneducated and imprisoned father, a father who had joined the three branches of the military under three aliases and was once thrown off a navy ship in the middle of the sea for cheating at poker. In the end, he was found in a Dade County motel room, his gun by his side.

I found a Stephen King collection and more short stories. I had checked my e-mail at Caulker and knew it was best to dream away the rest of the summer. And then I had a very real excuse for not leaving the hammock: my left foot was the size of a football. On our second day in Monkey Bay we set out with Manolo, the camp manager, to St. Herman’s Cave and Blue Hole National Park. Finally, a trek that almost satisfied Lucy, who had imagined we would be working our way through jungle with machetes, killing off coral snakes that dropped from vines. It was wet, muddy, thick, and green. Fat orange and black centipedes crossed our tracks and hidden birds screamed above. We climbed up and then down, then up again, to get to a look-out tower after trekking through the submerged darkness of the cave. I began to step down an incline and murmured to Lucy, “Careful here, it’s slippery.” I saw my Keen sandal — God love ‘em — actually bend completely back as my foot slipped forward. I was astounded at the flexibility of the sole, which sprung back into place. At the same time, I vaguely realized that if the sole had bent back then so had my foot, like an accordion breathing in and out.

I crawled to the hammock on the veranda and read William Saroyan’s “Summer of the Beautiful White Horse” out loud, again and again, to Lucy. We laughed at the antics of the children and the grouchy uncle. We did a jigsaw puzzle. Rainy season finally descended and it rained bullets, night and day. Our passports curled into odd shapes on the shelf. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’s binding melted away and the pages blew over the drenched savannah. I read a chapter on Ted Bundy in a book about serial killers.

My husband discovered a bot fly larva dwelling in his inner left thigh. After Manolo told us about his own experience — seis en la cabeza — he prepared the ointment. If it wasn’t effective, Julio would come by and use his special fingernail. A bot fly’s lifespan is singularly short and sad: its egg is deposited by a mosquito and grows in its host’s body; after about six weeks it falls to the ground and pupates. My husband had a parasite in his thigh and an odd (and new) large patch of dark skin running from his neck to his scalp, like a map of Belize. I had 276 bites, mostly from mosquitoes, a swollen ankle, and a lingering bladder infection. Lucy had a pink fungal rash on her stomach, shoulders, and thighs. I read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Poe’s “Hop-Frog.”

When we rode back through Orange Walk the town didn’t look half bad. In the States, I rushed — as much as I could — to prepare my syllabi. The doctor did X-rays and gave me a handicapped tag for my car. The gynecologist looked at me in disbelief and told me to get off the antibiotics and focus on something else. We watched as our bites faded with each day that passed. JonBenet’s killer had maybe been found; two serial killers had maybe been found in Phoenix. Non-parasitic administrators have replaced the bot flies and I have a line on a good job for next year. We won’t decide on retirement just yet.

Continued in article




Points to Ponder --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1689729/posts

Why do you have to "put your two cents in".. but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your butt?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride; he sticks his head out the window?




More Tidbits from the Chronicle of Higher Education --- http://www.aldaily.com/

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/.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu  

  




 

Tidbits on September 11, 2006
Bob Jensen

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/.


Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

 

Click here to search this Website 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/


Bob Jensen's bogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )




Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

From the University of Virginia (more than just an online version of the book)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin & American Culture --- http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/utc/

Two 9/11 Videos --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1698382/posts

Holy Lemon Videos (often humorous and/or musical) --- http://www.holylemon.com/


Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Historical Political Campaign Song Recordings
Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840- 1860 --- http://dig.lib.niu.edu/message/

Invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, the phonograph was a device with a cylinder covered with a soft material such as tin foil, lead, or wax on which a stylus drew grooves --- http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/
The University of California at Santa Barbara has over 6,000 historic cylindars that you can now listen to free over online
Cylindar Radio
--- http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/

The Eubie Blake Collection (Jazz Piano) ---  http://www.mdhs.org/eubieblake/

Ain't Talkin  by Bob Dylan --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5752709

Remember when (Jukebox Days) --- http://www.paulalfrey.com/email/olddays.html


Photographs and Art

NPR's 9/11 Photos (some are astounding) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5788165

Who are the Iranians (from photos from Time Magazine) --- Click Here

Hubble takes first image of solar eclipse on Uranus --- Click Here

Dioramas: American Museum of Natural History --- http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/dioramas/

Facing East: Portraits From Asia --- http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/FacingEast.htm# 

Enduring Outrage: Editorial Cartoons by Herblock
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/herblock-home.html

James Nachtwey witnessed misery around the world --- http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/

 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

From the University of Virginia (more than just an online version of the book)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin & American Culture --- http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/utc/

From Virginia Commonwealth University
Blackbird: An Online Journal of Literature and the Arts --- http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/

Commonwealth Writers Prize --- http://www.commonwealthwriters.com/

The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) --- Click Here

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) --- Click Here

Photography Extraordinary by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) --- Click Here

Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) --- Click Here 




Sandwiched between Painters and Reupholsters in the Classified Adds
Police in Bucks County have charged 12 women after an investigation into prostitutes who allegedly have been advertising on the Web site Craigslist --- http://sfbay.craigslist.org/
Yahoo News, "12 arrested for prostitution ads on Web," September 9, 2006 --- Click Here

A lawyer is a gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it for himself.
Lord Henry Brougham (1778 1868) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Henry_Brougham

Still more alarming was last month's admission by Interior Minister Patrick Dewael that 1,529 Belgian police stations has been burgled from 2000 to 2004. The thieves made off with guns, ammunition, bulletproof jackets, bicycles, flashlights and more, according to Belga, the state news agency. And these weren't just small-town capers pulled off by Belgian Barney Fifes: Nearly half of the 325 burglaries in 2004 were in the capital Brussels (101) and the port city of Antwerp (55). Belgium is the butt of a lot of jokes in Europe. But even Belgians have to be rolling their eyes at the way their supposed defenders can't defend themselves.
"Belgian Insecurity," The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2006 --- Click Here

We make war that we may live in peace.
Aristotle --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle

There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.
George Washington --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington

It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.
John F. Kennedy --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisenhower

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
Eleanor Roosevelt --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Roosevelt

Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Hermann Goering --- http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.htm

The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.
John F. Kennedy --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mills --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mills

You can't say civilization don't advance -- for in every war, they kill you in a new way.
Will Rogers --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers




More Bias in the Press:  This Time on Government Payola
Ten journalists, including two staffers with The Miami Herald's Spanish-language sister paper, received a total of more than $300,000 from the U.S. government for working on a radio and TV station aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government, the Herald reported Friday.  Pablo Alfonso, who reported on Cuba and wrote an opinion column for El Nuevo Herald, was paid almost $175,000 since 2001 by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting to host shows on Radio and TV Marti, according to government documents obtained by The Miami Herald. Olga Connor, a freelance reporter who wrote about Cuban culture for El Nuevo Herald, received about $71,000, and staff reporter Wilfredo Cancio Isla, who covered the Cuban exile community and politics, was paid almost $15,000 in the last five years, The Miami Herald reported. Alberto Mascaro, chief of staff of the U.S. Cuban broadcasting office, confirmed to The Associated Press that all 10 journalists had received payments but said he did not have the details and declined to comment further.
Laura Wides-Munoz, "Report: Miami journalists on U.S. government payroll," Palm Beach Post, September 9, 2006 --- http://www.palmbeachpost.com/state/content/gen/ap/FL_Journalists_Paid.html


Pay to stop Africa migrants, Gaddafi tells Europe
European nations should pay 10 billion euros ($12.7 billion dollars) a year to Africa to help it stop migrants seeking a better life flooding northwards into Europe, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Saturday. ADVERTISEMENT In a speech to an African Union (AU) ceremony, Gaddafi added that African and European leaders should meet soon to discuss the phenomenon, which has soared to unprecedented levels and touched off internal political disputes in many European states. "In our final statement we will ask Europe to pay 10 billion euros per year if it really wants to stop migration toward Europe," Gaddafi said.
"Pay to stop Africa migrants, Gaddafi tells Europe," Yahoo News, September 10, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Life would be fantastic if it only took money to stamp out poverty enough to end illegal immigration. But throwing money at corrupt regimes in Africa, Latin America, and Asia will hardly solve illegal immigration or its root poverty causes. It will only make brutal dictators richer and fan the fires of civil war unless miracles accompany the thrown dollars. Even working with programs that send goods (like tractors and seeds) won't work if enormous bribes must be paid to corrupt officials who care little about their poor and suffering brethren. Most of the $12.7 billion sent to Africa would boomerang back to hidden Swiss bank accounts, Paris boutiques, and Europe's luxury hotels.


It was to be "The Mother of All Raids" (ghazvat al-gha zavat) that would bring down "The House of the Spider" as promised by the sheik in his mountain hideout. The "raid" would terrify the "infidel" and hasten his demise just as the armies of Islam had destroyed the Persian and Byzantine empires with a series of ghazavat 14 centuries ago. This time, the empire that would crumble under the weight of Islam's attack was the American "Great Satan," which had been running away from its enemies for decades. It had run away from Saigon, Tehran, Beirut, Mogadishu, Kohbar and Aden. Even when attacked in the heart of New York, its real capital city, it had done little more than nurse its chagrin with petulance. History, however, is never written in advance. And this time the "cowardly infidel," far from running away, decided to return and hit back. And hit back hard. A war that was to see several sobriquets, the latest being "the war against Islamofascism," had begun. Within weeks, the sheik's hideout in Afghanistan had been invaded and its rulers sent scurrying in all directions. IT was to be "The Mother of All Raids" (ghazvat al-gha zavat) that would bring down "The House of the Spider" as promised by the sheik in his mountain hideout. The "raid" would terrify the "infidel" and hasten his demise just as the armies of Islam had destroyed the Persian and Byzantine empires with a series of ghazavat 14 centuries ago. This time, the empire that would crumble under the weight of Islam's attack was the American "Great Satan," which had been running away from its enemies for decades. It had run away from Saigon, Tehran,...
Amir Taheri, "Osama's Error," The New York Post, September 11, 2006 --- Click Here

Bush is Worse Than Bin Laden
Mark Finkelstein in the Boston Globe, September 11, 2006 --- http://newsbusters.org/node/7532

If Mr. Rumsfeld is so concerned with comparisons to World War II, he should explain why our troops have now been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as quoted by Anne Plummer Flaherty, The Sun, September 7, 2006 --- http://www.nysun.com/article/38874
Jensen Comment
What a dumb comment! Firstly, "our troops" did not defeat the Nazis in World War II. It was an allied effort and the credit for inflicting the most damage to Germany without doubt was Russia. Certainly the United States and various other nations contributed greatly to the victorious outcome, but "our troops" did not defeat the Nazis. Secondly, if Russia and (former?) European allies plunged into the Iraq war like they did in World War II, the Iraq War would've probably ended in less than a year. Thirdly, however devastating the cost in money and lives might be to date in Iraq, the toll of dead soldiers and civilians is miniscule compared to World War II --- Click Here

Some 62 million people, or 2.5% of the world population, died in the war, though estimates vary greatly - about 25 million soldiers and 37 million civilians. This total includes the estimated 12 million lives lost in the HolocaustOf the total deaths in World War II approximately 80% were on the Allied side and 20% on the Axis side.

Allied forces suffered approximately 17 million military deaths, of which about 10 million were Soviet and 4 million Chinese. Axis forces suffered about 8 million, of which more than 5 million were German. The Soviet Union suffered by far the largest death toll of any nation in the war; around 23 million people died in the Soviet Union, including more than 12 million civilians. Some modern estimates double the number of Chinese casualties originally mentioned.

The dead and missing among Allied uniformed personnel totaled about 14.2 million, including about 10 million from the USSR, 2.5 million from China, 400,000 from the British Commonwealth, 400,000 from the U.S., 400,000 from Poland, 300,000 from Yugoslavia, and 250,000 from France. The Axis military lost about 8.5 million including 5.5 million from Germany, 2.0 million from Japan, and 400,000 from Italy.

About 49 million deaths were civilians, who died as a result of disease, starvation, genocide (in particular, the Holocaust), massacres, and aerial bombing. One estimate is that 12 million civilians died in the camps, 1.5 million by bombs, 7 million in Europe from other causes, and 7.5 million in China from other causes. Allied civilian deaths came to about 38 million, including Soviet Union (20 million), China (10 million), Poland (4.1 million) and Yugoslavia (1.7 million). There were about 11 million civilian deaths on the Axis side, including Germany (6.5 million) Japan (2.0 Million), Italy (500,000) and Romania (500,000). The Holocaust refers to the organized state-sponsored murder of 6 million Jews, 220,000 Roma people, and other ethnic minorities and political opponents carried out by the Nazis during the war.

Liberal Educators Not Welcome in Iranian Colleges: Where Academic Freedom of Speech No Longer Exists
Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported in another step back to 1980s-style radicalism.
Nasser Karimi, "Ahmadinejad calls for purge of liberal teachers," CNews, September 5, 2006 --- http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2006/09/05/1803328-ap.html
Academic Freedom, Iranian Style --- Click Here
Speaking to a group of students Tuesday, Ahmadinejad called on them to pressure his administration to keep driving out moderate instructors, a process that began earlier this year. Dozens of liberal university professors and teachers were sent into retirement this year after Ahmadinejad's administration, sparking strong protests from students, named the first cleric to head Teheran University.


Update on Future Space War:  It's Not Just a Game
"Iran's space program: The next genie in a bottle?" by Lee Kass, Free Republic, September 8, 2006 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1697781/posts

External support continues to help advance Iran's space effort. Teheran is advancing its space program to satisfy numerous civil and military objectives, including manufacturing satellites to accurately guide its Shahab ballistic missiles. The United States and Israel remain gravely concerned about Iranian efforts to gain more military power.

The Iranian space endeavor mimics a disturbing pattern other countries use clandestinely to advance their long-range missile programs. Iran might reengineer the Shahab to carry future satellites and try to obtain significant political rewards from future satellite launches. Exploiting this event would unite Iran politically, complicating Washington's regional objective, and further destabilizing the region.

In slightly different ways and to varying degrees of success, China, North Korea, and Pakistan use a civil space program clandestinely to manufacture longer-range missiles to further safeguard national security. Iran seeks to become a space power for similar reasons.

Unlike other Islamic countries with satellites, the Iranian defense ministry plays a prominent role in shaping the space effort with possible contributions from the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). This military component manages the Shahab ballistic missile program, which Iran might modify into a space launch vehicle (SLV) with foreign support.

Enhancing the Shahab to become satellite-guided would allow Iran to strike Israel and United States military forces stationed throughout the region precisely. Statements from Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who declared his intention to "wipe Israel off the map" and dismissed the United States as a "hollow superpower," heighten the level of tension.

Iran might seek to develop a space program to improve national pride. Successfully testing a launch vehicle would allow Iran to boast that it is a space power. The propaganda Teheran espouses following this event might unite the country. This would further legitimize Ahmadinejad's policies and rhetoric, and generate greater regional and international fear regarding the regime's intentions.

Iranian efforts to exploit space began under the Shah, who tried to improve his country's scientific standing. In 1959, Teheran became a founding member of the United Nations' Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). The United Nations' General Assembly requested that UNCOPUOS review international collaborative programs to exploit space for civil purposes, serve as a forum for information exchanges, and encourage the development and facilitate the advancement of national programs to study outer space.

The fact that Iranian efforts to exploit space started over thirty years ago demonstrates that the country put a premium on further understanding this arena. Iran built a facility to obtain photographs soon after the United States launched the first system designed to capture imagery of the Earth. The Iranian Remote Sensing Center (IRSC) is responsible for gathering, processing, and distributing relevant material to users throughout the country for resource planning and management. The IRSC helps officials determine suitable areas to develop, and its personnel maintained operations while the country experienced a revolution and a devastating conflict with neighboring Iraq.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
As President Bush's political career draws to a close over the next two years, it makes little sense to focus elections on his mistakes of the past. He made some huge mistakes. His father made mistakes. Bill Clinton made some huge mistakes. Jimmy Carter made some enormous mistakes dealing with Iran that confined him to a single term as President of the United States. There's now wearisome  political debate over the lack of ties between al Qaeda and Saddam. Saddam is history! Without doubt Iraq is now a major base for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Our abrupt cutting and running will energize terrorists and give them a safe haven for training and coordinating future attacks.

My point is that Bush's decision to take out Saddam undoubtedly strengthened the terrorist bases in Iraq. The terrorists would've had a more difficult time with Saddam than they do in the disarray of Iraq today. Certainly the new Iraq army will be more helpless in squashing the terror groups than President Mousharif is today in Pakistan where terror groups are gaining a larger and more dangerous stronghold as well. As long as Jihad's terrorists have victorious (over the U.S.) freedom in Iraq and Pakistan they will continue to train, arm, and carry on a worldwide propaganda war to win converts to violent Jihad. To those that want us entirely out of Iraq I say be careful what you wish for because you may get it!

It may have been President Bush who played into terrorist hands by taking out Saddam, but that's history! Our worry is with terrorism of the future given the bases of terror that are growing by double digits at the moment, especially in Iraq. We're losing the propaganda war by focusing on the past rather than the future. Our surrender in Iraq will fan the fires of violent Jihad.

Taking out an aging Osama Bin Laden may further fan those fires of Jihad. Keeping Bin Laden alive in some cave may be more of an asset to us than a liability at this point in time. Keeping terrorists at bay in Iraq is far more important. The USA is the Great Satan that will not be hated any less by abruptly surrendering in Iraq. We will be loved by Islamic extremists only when our economy implodes and only illiterate harems wearing burkas are allowed on the streets while accompanied by their ruling husbands.




A Court Decision Allowing Guns on Campus
The state's highest court ruled Friday that the University of Utah has no right to ban guns on campus, rejecting the argument that prohibiting firearms is part of the school's power to control academic affairs. Writing for the 4-1 majority, Utah Supreme Court Justice Jill Parrish said case law "is incompatible with the university's position." "We simply cannot agree with the proposition that the Utah Constitution restricts the Legislature's ability to enact firearms laws pertaining to the university," Parrish wrote.
Pamela Manson and Sheena McFarland, "Court shoots down U. gun ban Justices say school no exception to Utah law; case goes back to feds, "The Salt Lake Tribune," September 9, 2006 --- http://www.sltrib.com/ci_4311399


Indiana University Health Center: Coping with Starting College
http://www.indiana.edu/~health/caps/begincollege.shtml


CatsCradle 3.5 --- http://www.stormdance.net/software/catscradle/overview.htm 
 Many websurfers enjoy going to sites that might be based in other countries, and as such, they might very well encounter a different language. With CatsCradle 3.5, these persons need worry no more, as this application can be used to translate entire websites in such languages as Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows XP or 2000. (Scout Report, September 1, 2006)

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


What not to say to your professor/instructor
Top Ten No Sympathy Lines (Plus a Few Extra) --- http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/nosymp.htm

Here are some samples:

Think of it as a TOP TEN list with a few bonus items:
  1. This Course Covered Too Much Material...
  2. The Expected Grade Just for Coming to Class is a B
  3. I Disagreed With the Professor's Stand on ----
  4. Some Topics in Class Weren't on the Exams
  5. Do You Give Out a Study Guide?
  6. I Studied for Hours
  7. I Know The Material - I Just Don't Do Well on Exams
  8. I Don't Have Time For All This (...but you don't understand - I have a job.)
  9. Students Are Customers
  10. Do I Need to Know This?
  11. There Was Too Much Memorization
  12. This Course Wasn't Relevant
  13. Exams Don't Reflect Real Life
  14. I Paid Good Money for This Course and I Deserve a Good Grade
  15. All I Want Is The Diploma

RateMyProfessors has some real-world examples of comments that professors hated even worse --- http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/Funniest.jsp

A few samples are shown below:

I remember one of mine evaluations that read:  "The best thing about the course is that classes sometimes ended early."

One of my colleagues received one that read:  "Until I took this course I did not know that leisure suits came in so many different shades of pastel."

Years ago one of my econometrics professors received the following comment:  "After the first minute of the course he turned toward the blackboard and we never again laid eyes upon his front side."


Ghost Writers in the Sky

Question
How easy is it to hire out term paper and other assignments?

"At $9.95 a Page, You Expected Poetry?" by Charles McGrath, The New York Times, September 10, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/10/weekinreview/10mcgrath.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Well, no, she won’t — not if she’s enterprising enough to enlist Term Paper Relief to write it for her. For $9.95 to a page she can obtain an “A-grade” paper that is fashioned to order and “completely non-plagiarized.” This last detail is important. Thanks to search engines like Google, college instructors have become adept at spotting those shop-worn, downloadable papers that circulate freely on the Web, and can even finger passages that have been ripped off from standard texts and reference works.

A grade-conscious student these days seems to need a custom job, and to judge from the number of services on the Internet, there must be virtual mills somewhere employing armies of diligent scholars who grind away so that credit-card-equipped undergrads can enjoy more carefree time together.

How good are the results? With first semester just getting under way at most colleges, bringing with it the certain prospect of both academic and social pressure, The Times decided to undertake an experiment in quality control of the current offerings. Using her own name and her personal e-mail address, an editor ordered three English literature papers from three different sites on standard, often-assigned topics: one comparing and contrasting Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “1984”; one discussing the nature of Ophelia’s madness in “Hamlet”; and one exploring the theme of colonialism in Conrad’s “Lord Jim.”

A small sample, perhaps, but one sufficient, upon perusal, to suggest that papers written to order are just like the ones students write for themselves, only more so — they’re poorly organized, awkwardly phrased, thin on substance, but masterly in the ancient arts of padding and stating and restating the obvious.

If they’re delivered, that is. The “Lord Jim” essay, ordered from SuperiorPapers.com, never arrived, despite repeated entreaties, and the excuse finally offered was a high-tech variant of “The dog ate my homework.” The writer assigned to the task, No. 3323, was “obviously facing some technical difficulties,” an e-mail message explained, “and cannot upload your paper.” The message went on to ask for a 24-hour extension, the wheeziest stratagem in the procrastinator’s arsenal, invented long before the electronic age.

The two other papers came in on time, and each grappled, more or less, with the assigned topic. The Orwell/Huxley essay, prepared by Term Paper Relief and a relative bargain at $49.75 for five pages, begins: “Although many similarities exist between Aldous Huxley’s ‘A Brave New World’ and George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ the works books [sic] though they deal with similar topics, are more dissimilar than alike.” That’s certainly a relief, because we couldn’t have an essay if they weren’t.

Elsewhere the author proves highly adept with the “on the one hand/on the other” formula, one of the most valuable tools for a writer concerned with attaining his assigned word count, and says, for example, of “Brave New World”: “Many people consider this Huxley’s most important work: many others think it is his only work. This novel has been praised and condemned, vilified and glorified, a source of controversy, a subject for sermons, and required reading for many high school students and college undergraduates. This novel has had twenty-seven printings in the United States alone and will probably have twenty-seven more.”

The obvious point of comparison between the two novels is that where Orwell’s world is an authoritarian, police-state nightmare, Huxley’s dystopia is ostensibly a paradise, with drugs and sex available on demand. A clever student might even pick up some extra credit by pointing out that while Orwell meant his book as a kind of predictive warning, it is Huxley’s world, much more far-fetched at the time of writing, that now more nearly resembles our own.

The essay never exactly makes these points, though it gets close a couple of times, declaring at one point that “the two works vary greatly.” It also manages to remind us that Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair and that both he and his book “are misunderstood to this day.”

Continued in article

Related

Term Paper From Go-Essays (September 9, 2006)

Essay From Term Paper Relief (September 9, 2006)

 

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating in higher education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm

Jensen Comment
I wonder what it might take to have a research paper written and published so a poor professor can get a better raise or maybe even tenure? At worst it could give that professor with writer's block a booster paper that can be embellished. Think of the possibilities. Maybe us retired professors should hire out, but certainly not for ten bucks per page. This is only idle speculation since absolutely no instructor wants a term paper on FAS 133. Sigh!

September 10, 2006 reply from Alexander Robin A [alexande.robi@UWLAX.EDU]

The existence of term paper writing services is evidence that the students don't see value in the process of writing the paper other than to have it done and get a grade. Presumably, there is value in creating a term paper or they should not be assigned.

But such assignments and student attempts to circumvent them point to the fundamental problem with the entire educational system: it ignores a fundamental reality that people learn when they want to learn and are excited and/or curious about what they are learning. Schools, through the use of forced assignments, lockstep classes rewards and punishments methodically extinguish young people's natural curiosity so that by the time they reach college, where I taught, I found that the desire to learn for its own sake was almost entirely absent in most students. Thus the popularity of finding various "easy ways" to get assignments done.

Obviously, changing this situation will require a massive effort and a dramatic change in mindset about education. I don't expect to see it in my lifetime.

Robin Alexander

September 10, 2006 reply from Elliot Kamlet [ekamlet@STNY.RR.COM]

I think a more fundamental question comes from the students - who are in one sense our customers. In speaking to a group of students, I observed that education is an unusual commodity. The less we supply, the happier our customers are. If a professor cancels class, no one says it's unfair since they paid for a full semester of classes.

A student observed that perhaps the customer does not want the education - just the course credit (with a A grade) leading to a degree.

Elliot Kamlet
Binghamton University

September 10, 2006 reply from MacEwan Wright, Victoria University [Mac.Wright@VU.EDU.AU]

I second Elliot's view. Students who fail will spend more time and effort on persuading the system it is all a ghastly mistake than they do on attempting to pass. I recently had a student complain that I told him to come to my office prepared to convince me that he should be given a pass in a subject. Then when he attended, he was asked questions about the subject. This was unfair.

The only good news is that the ghosts appear to be as bad as the students, and this despite the "Written by PhD's "A"s guaranteed advertising. The potential legal implications are interesting.

Best wishes,
Mac Wright

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating in higher education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm


What states have the best and worst report cards in higher education?
Relative to other nations, the U.S. as a whole rises up to an average grade

"Mediocre Grades for Colleges," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 7, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/07/reportcard

“Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education” assigns the United States and individual states grades in various categories that reflect how well they do at preparing students for college, having affordable higher education systems, and various other criteria. There aren’t a lot of candidates for the dean’s list. While the report found progress in some areas over the time period that the center has been producing these report cards (this is the fourth biennial study), in other areas, especially related to costs, states appear to be backsliding.

Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, started a press briefing Wednesday on the report by noting the “even the harshest critics” of American higher education tend to preface their analyses by praising the system at the “best in the world.” The report, which includes international comparisons for the first time, “suggests otherwise,” Callan said.

What the data suggest, Callan said, is a system in which American higher education is resting on its laurels from the period of time before the rest of the world started to pay attention to higher education. This is clear when one compares adult populations as a whole to younger adults who more recently were in — or had the potential to be in — college. The United States is second in the world in percentage of adults aged 35 to 64 holding a college degree, but seventh among those 25 to 34. In addition, the data note that Americans are better at starting college than finishing it. The U.S. ranks 5th in the world in the percentage of young adults enrolled in college, but 16th in degrees per students enrolled.

The report card is best known for its grades for individual states — and the grades were particular poor for affordability, with 43 states receiving an F and no states earning an A or a B. Grades are based on a series of factors designed to avoid single national standards, while attempting to hold lawmakers accountable. So for affordability, for example, the study considers among other factors the percentage of family income required to pay net costs of attending a four-year college. This approach is designed not to punish states that have high tuition but high aid or to penalize states with low income and low tuition. The study found numerous states where this percentage is going up, where aid is increasingly focused on merit, and where tuition is increasing faster than sources of aid.

Callan said that on affordability, there is plenty of blame to go around. The federal government has failed to keep Pell Grants’ value rising with the cost of attending college. But he said that more Pell funds alone wouldn’t solve the problems because with rising tuition rates, “all the new money gets absorbed.” He called for a push by colleges to limit increases, while federal and state governments try to provide more need-based aid.

The report looks both at state totals and also at subgroups, with states earning better grades if they don’t have large gaps in the performance of different racial and ethnic groups. Generally, the report found that such gaps are widespread and significant. In New Jersey, for example, the enrollment rate for white 18- to 24-year olds is 47 percent, compared to 27 percent for others. In Colorado, the rates are 40 percent for whites and 17 percent for others.

While Callan said that he was saddened by the lack of progress on affordability, there were other categories in which states demonstrated more progress. On various measures of college completion, 35 states have improved in more than half of the measures used. On measures that go into the preparation grade, 45 states have improved on more than half of the measures.

One of the newer features of the report card is an analysis of learning that takes place in college, where the center does not award letter grades but gives a + to some states and an incomplete grade to others. In 2000, the center awarded incomplete grades to every state, finding that none of them had good systems in place to measure what students actually learn in a way that could be compared from state to state. This year, nine states earned a + for participating in programs that allow for such comparisons, through analyses of the literacy and mathematical skills of graduates and the adult population, passage rates on licensure examinations, admissions to competitive graduate schools and various other measures.

The Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which Callan has advised, has made a priority of pushing colleges to identify and to start using ways to measure learning. While there was much talk during the commission’s deliberations of having some test, the panel did not recommend that any single measure, but called on colleges to have easily understood, consumer-oriented tools that would allow prospective students and their families, as well as the government, figure out what happens during the years of an undergraduate education. Supporters of this push talked about the need for standards and accountability, while critics — especially amid discussion of possible national tests — cautioned against trying to measure all colleges in the same way.

Callan said that he saw a great deal of “synergy” between the ideas he was pushing on measuring student learning and those advocated by the commission.

With the ground covered by the commission, Callan said, “the argument that this can’t be done without destroying higher education or dumbing it down is pretty much dead in the water.” Callan noted that the comparisons the center uses aren’t one single test, but a variety of measures. Still, they are comparable across the country and that’s key, he said. “At the end of the day, if you can’t compare, you don’t know very much,” he said.

The following table features the state-by-state grades. Detailed reports will be available later today on the center’s Web site.

State Grades in Measuring Up 2006

State Prepa-
ration
Partici-
pation
Afford-
ability
Comple-
tion
Benefits Learning
Alabama D- C F B- B I
Alaska B- C+ F F B- I
Arizona D B+ F B B+ I
Arkansas D+ C F C C I
Calif. C A C- B A I
Colo. B+ A- F B A- I
Conn. A- A- F B+ A I
Delaware C B F A- B- I
Florida C C F A B I
Georgia C+ D+ F A B- I
Hawaii C- C D B- A- I
Idaho C D+ D C+ C- I
Illinois B A F B+ A +
Indiana C C+ F B+ C I
Iowa B+ A- F A C I
Kansas B- A F B+ B+ I
Kentucky C- B- F C+ C+ +
La. F C- F C- D+ I
Maine B B- F B B- I
Maryland A- A F B A +
Mass. A A F A A +
Michigan C- A- F B A- I
Minn. B A D A B+ I
Miss. D- D F B C I
Missouri C B F B+ A +
Montana B+ C- F B- C+ I
Nebraska B A F B+ B I
Nevada C- C F F C- +
N. Hampshire B+ C+ F A A I
N. Jersey A A- D B A I
N. Mexico F A F D C I
New York A- B- F A- B+ +
N. Carolina B+ B- F B+ B I
N. Dakota B- A F B C+ I
Ohio B- B- F B B+ I
Oklahoma D+ C+ F C B- +
Oregon C- C+ F B- A I
Pa. B B F A A- I
Rhode Isl. C+ A F A B I
S. Carolina C+ D+ F B+ C +
S. Dakota B A F B+ C+ I
Tenn. C- C- F B C+ I
Texas B- C+ F C+ B- I
Utah A B C- B A- I
Vermont B- C F A A- I
Virginia A- B F B+ A I
Wash. B C- D- A A- I
W. Virginia C- C- F C+ D+ I
Wisconsin B+ A- F A B- I
Wyoming C- B+ F A C- I
U.S. C+ B F B B+ I

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Bias in Elite School Admissions:  Target Dumb Kids of the Rich and Famous
Over more than 20 years, Duke transformed itself from a Southern school to a premier national institution with the help of a winning strategy: targeting rich students whose families could help build up its endowment. At the same time, and in a similar way, Brown University, eager to shed its label as one of the weakest schools in the Ivy League, bolstered its reputation by recruiting kids with famous parents. While celebrities don't often contribute financially, they generate invaluable publicity.
Daniel Golden, "How Lowering the Bar Helps Colleges Prosper:  Duke and Brown Universities Rise in Prestige In Part by Wooing Kids of Hollywood, Business Elite; A Debate Over Michael Ovitz's Son," The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2006; Page A1 --- Click Here

At Harvard, over 50% of million-dollar donors got at least one of their children into Harvard
"Price of Admission:  By the Numbers," The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on "silver spoon admissions" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#SilverSpoon


"Silver Spoon Admissions," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/05/admit

Though Ovitz’s son was admitted, under special status, he didn’t last long at Brown and left. Ovitz’s daughter followed, apparently with more success. And Brown also gained, as the book describes Brown President Ruth Simmons gushing over Ovitz for arranging a campus appearance in which he appeared with Dustin Hoffman, and for hosting a reception for her at Ovitz’s Brentwood mansion.

Neither Ovitz nor Brown University officials would respond to calls to ask about their reactions to the description of their relationship in The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates (Random House). Daniel Golden, the author, won a Pulitzer Prize for exploring some of these issues in The Wall Street Journal, but his book contains numerous investigations that have not appeared previously, and that are bound to be controversial.

. . .

That American higher education is not a pure meritocracy is, of course, hardly news. But Golden’s book has a level of detail about the degree to which he says some colleges favor the privileged that will embarrass many an admissions officer. Golden names names of students — and includes details about their academic records before college and once there that raise questions about the admissions decisions being made. For good measure, he attacks Title IX (saying that the women’s teams colleges create favor wealthy, white applicants), preferences for faculty children (ditto, although substitute middle class for wealthy), and accuses colleges of making Asian applicants the “new Jews” and holding them to much higher standards than other students.

Even before its official release, The Price of Admission is causing considerable fear among the admissions officers of elite colleges. If you want to see an admissions dean really happy, tell her that you can’t find her institution in the index. The preferences highlighted in this book are the admissions preferences that college officials don’t like to talk about (except perhaps at reunion weekend). Presidents and deans in many cases welcome the opportunity to talk about why they want racial or socioeconomic or geographic diversity in their classes, why it is important that a class include enough string players for the orchestra and enough running backs for the football team. Who hasn’t heard an admissions story about recruiting a tuba player from Wyoming — as the perfect symbol of the art and science of constructing a class.

But preferences for the rich and famous, or generous alumni donors? That’s not something people like to talk about. Several deans accused Golden of taking the admissions process out of context (they said the numbers of rich who benefit are small), or being naive (when a billionaire is admitted to the ER, is treatment the same as that for an average Joe?), and of neglecting history (the preferences Golden described were far worse a few generations back). Some argued that it would be racist to eliminate preferences for the children of wealthy alumni now, when for the first time there are starting to be significant numbers of wealthy alumni who aren’t white.

Others disputed some details about their institutions, but most acknowledged that the book is likely to increase scrutiny of their practices — whatever they think of the fairness of the book and its message.

A chapter about Duke University, for example, says that a few years back the institution spread the word among private high schools that it wanted “development admits,” those whose families had the potential to become big donors, and that strong academic credentials weren’t a requirement.

Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, said that while the book says this started prior to his arrival, it doesn’t ring true to him. “It’s certainly not my experience and it doesn’t feel right to me as a description of what was happening,” he said.

He acknowledged that Duke does consider — “for a small number of students” — the ability of their families to make contributions (financial and otherwise) to the university, but he stressed that he regularly “says No” to requests on behalf of such applicants, and that only those capable of doing well in Duke’s classrooms are admitted. Asked whether it was fair to do so, even for a small number, he started by talking about how this was similar to the way he considers requests from academic departments, supporters of extracurricular groups, coaches, and others. But he paused when told that all of those potential candidates contributed — at least in theory — to the educational environment for all students by virtue of their skills or interests. Isn’t money different?

Said Guttentag: “I don’t think there is a selective private university that is the kind of university we are that to one degree or another doesn’t do this, with the understanding that ultimately the university as a whole and the students benefit from the facilities or financial aid [donated]. When there is a significant financial interest in the university, that’s one of the things we take into account.”

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Life Experience Work Around of California's Ban on Affirmative Action Admissions

"UCLA Revamps Admissions," by Rob Capriccioso, Inside Higher Ed, September 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/08/ucla

The number of black students at the University of California at Los Angeles has plummeted since the voter-approved Proposition 209 outlawed the use of race in admissions decisions beginning in 1996. The university projected in June that fewer than than 100 black first-year students planned to enroll this fall, which amounts to less than 2 percent of the class. More than 200 black students were part of the fall 1997 class. Administrators say that the numbers of African American students at the institution are now at the lowest levels since the 1970s.

Alarm bells have been increasingly ringing on campus regarding a situation that’s had many black alumni and business leaders calling for a revamp in admissions policies. And UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies released a report this month that said “[r]esegregation began 10 years ago with the implementation of Proposition 209” and called for administrators to find ways to address that concern.

Some administrators felt constrained to do so under the confines of the law, which does not allow for special consideration of race in the admissions process. Now, with support from many of the institution’s top administrators, some believe that a new admissions model may help turn the numbers around — although campus officials insist that isn’t the main goal.

The renovation would be modeled on the University of California at Berkeley’s current admissions process, adopted after Proposition 209 passed. That institution’s policies call for consideration of students’ achievements in the context of their life experiences. A UCLA faculty committee has already approved the framework that could lead to a change as early as this fall for students seeking to enroll in fall of 2007. Two more faculty committees are scheduled to vote on the matter by month’s end. Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams, too, has voiced his support for a change.

“We’re very excited,” said Janina Montero, vice chancellor for student affairs at UCLA. “It’s intended to provide a broader view of each applicant.”

Montero said that all students would benefit from a “holistic approach” in reviewing applications — in which academic achievements, personal achievements and life challenges would be used as interdependent determining factors for admittance. The institution had already adopted a policy post-Proposition 209 that it described as being “holistic” as well. However, the past policy had different admissions officers weighing the separate admissions criteria independently of one another. Under the new approach, the same admissions officer would look at all three areas and have more leeway in assessing an application’s overall merit.

Montero also noted the low number of African Americans who are now enrolled at the institution. “It’s a big concern,” she said. “The numbers this year reached a crisis point.”

Ward Connerly, a former regent with the UC system who helped create Proposition 209 and is generally critical of affirmative action, said that he believed the university’s response was racially motivated, rather than meant to help the whole student body. “I don’t think they should be disingenous about that,” he said.

Still, Connerly said he doesn’t oppose the plan, since he believes “the campus should have more flexibility ... as long as they follow the law.” He said that all low-income and rural students could have an advantage under the new system, regardless of their race.

Montero said that the university “will meet the law.” “We want to be fair to all students,” she said. She also said that community members and alumni could do more than the university in increasing minority enrollment by holding fund raisers, creating scholarships, and helping students at low-income high schools realize their options.

Adrienne Lavine, the departing chair of UCLA’s Academic Senate and an engineering professor, said that there is no way “to predict how this could impact underrepresented minorities.” “I’m not sure it will increase our minority admittance,” she said. “But I would be thrilled if it did have a positive effect.”

Montero said that if the faculty committees ultimately approve a new plan and hammer out its details, new admissions training and guidance from the Berkeley campus would be needed. The aim, she said, would be to have the reformatted admissions process up and running for applicants this fall.

Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action controversies in college admissions are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#AcademicStandards


Teaching Excellence Secondary to Research for Promotion, Tenure, and Pay

"Teaching versus Research: Does It Have To Be That Way?" by Lucas Carpenter, Emory University --- http://www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/2003/sept/carpenter.html

What should be glaringly apparent to our new president--and to us--is that the two reports and their recommendations are, if one switches the words research and teaching, virtual mirror images of one another. For example, the Commission on Teaching concludes that research expectations detract from the quality of a faculty member's teaching, while the Commission on Research asserts that teaching loads interfere with faculty research and scholarship. Both want more financial support and greater recognition for research/teaching. Both want research/teaching to weigh more heavily in the tenure and promotion process.

Needless to say, no faculty is composed entirely of stellar scholars and researchers. Where the problems arise is with junior faculty, who at Emory are "officially" expected to excel both as researchers and teachers but who in reality receive mixed signals from their departments and senior colleagues. Is it even realistic to expect that everyone can succeed at both? There are also problems with regard to how teaching and research are evaluated at Emory. With regard to research, the benchmark is still juried publication of articles and books, with little inclination to consider alternatives. Teaching, too, is measured almost exclusively by student evaluations, which are problematic instruments at best, especially since students are now aware of how crucial their evaluations can be in cases of promotion and tenure and can use this awareness to intimidate junior faculty and to promote grade inflation.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Although Professor Carpenter makes an appeal to link research to undergraduate studies, the fact of the matter is that most academic research of merit in academe is too esoteric and too advanced to fit into an undergraduate curriculum. More often than not it is impractical to bring undergraduates up to a level where some narrow, esoteric study can be comprehended without an unrealistic amount of preparatory study.

Professors pressured for esoteric research often begrudge the time it takes to excel in undergraduate teaching. Professors engaged in scholarship for teaching begrudge the time and effort and personal sacrifice required for risky research endeavors that, in most instances, have a low probability of acceptance in top refereed journals.

When push comes to shove in most tenure, promotion, and pay decisions in major colleges, research wins out over teaching. A minimum threshold may be required for teaching quality, but beyond that research and publication take priority such that giving added time for greater teaching excellence is not rewarded relative to research and publication effort.


"Harvard studies ways to promote teaching," by Marcella Bombardieri, Inside Higher Ed, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2006/09/05/harvard_studies_ways_to_promote_teaching/

Harvard University today begins a new effort to figure out how to improve teaching and make it a bigger factor in whether professors get tenure or raises.

If successful, the initiative could counter Harvard's image as a school that allows professors to neglect undergraduates in favor of the research that wins them grants, book prizes, and fame.

Harvard officials also hope to spur changes at universities around the country. Nationally, American higher education is drawing accusations of smugness and complacency. A report from a panel established by US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said colleges and universities should be more accountable for students' learning.

``I think the quality of education is going to get more and more important," said interim Harvard president Derek Bok, noting that globalization has boosted the competition that American graduates face in the workforce. ``We see this as a real opportunity to try to improve what we do for undergraduates."

Harvard's new task force on teaching and career development, which meets for the first time today , will cover the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, home to Harvard's undergraduate and doctoral programs.

The task force's chairwoman, Theda Skocpol, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said she was inspired to propose the idea by the book that Bok published just months before taking over after Lawrence H. Summers's resignation. The book is called ``Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should be Learning More." Bok led Harvard from 1971 to 1991.

After studying best practices at Harvard and elsewhere, Skocpol expects the group to have recommendations ready to present to the faculty by Feb. 1. Some ideas, she hopes, could be acted upon immediately, while others will be left for Harvard's next president. But any major changes would need the backing of the majority of arts and science faculty members, some of whom may balk at any significant change in Harvard's traditions.

The high standards for earning tenure at Harvard are heavily weighted toward excellence in research, not teaching. The same is true at other elite research universities, while small liberal arts colleges generally focus more on undergraduate teaching.

``Comparisons with other institutions show that we are not as good as we should be," said Jeremy R. Knowles, interim dean of arts and sciences. ``When we're not the best, I want to be the best."

Harvard already has a system for students to evaluate their professors, but Skocpol said she would like to see professors evaluating one another's classes as well, just as they critique one another's academic articles and books. The point, she said, would be not just to judge but to expose professors to new ideas and encourage every faculty member, young or old, to think about ways he or she can improve.

Continued in article


The Price Professors Pay for Choosing a "Teaching Institution"
Unlike at the research university, there was no established plan for sabbaticals or release time to further my own projects. Interviews with faculty members made clear that I was expected to be accessible to students at all times. I wondered how I could be an effective teacher if I had no chance to stay abreast of the current thinking in my field. And I wondered whether I wanted to devote my professional life to hanging out with recent high-school graduates.
Peter S. Cahn, "Teaching Versus Research," Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2002 --- http://chronicle.com/jobs/2002/03/2002030402c.htm

Differences between "popular teacher"
versus "master teacher"
versus "mastery learning"
versus "master educator."


"The 20th Century University Is Obsolete," by Rev. John P. Minogue, Inside Higher Ed, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/09/05/minogue

Higher education, like the human species itself, is the product of evolutionary forces that produce structures — the DNA if you will — that enable one variant to thrive and cause another to falter.

The life form known as higher education was hatched in a monastic cocoon in the 10th century. From this beginning, higher education institutions took shape as an evolving species, changing form and mission in response to external forces. Familiar milestones on this evolutionary journey include secularization, development of academic disciplines, evolution of administrative structures, growth of the research university, and the concepts of academic freedom and tenure.

With the dawn of the Knowledge Age, the evolution of higher education has drastically accelerated so that the pace of change is now measured in years, not centuries. Higher education today is a global commodity with all the competition and product diversification that entails, including the splitting of the production from the distribution of knowledge. This is much like the movie industry, where a few companies make movies and many companies distribute them in theaters, on television, and on DVDs.

Research I universities that produce new knowledge thrive in this new environment, but they are now dependent upon strong financial links with the economic agendas of companies and countries. They are no longer the sole citadels for the production of new knowledge, but rather just one node on a global network of corporate and national R&D sites.

The transformation of Higher Education Life Forms on the distribution side of knowledge is even more dramatic, evolving a new species that concentrates simply on distribution of currently available knowledge.

This new species features a small core of knowledge engineers who wrap courses into a degree to be distributed in cookie-cutter institutions and delivered by working professionals, not academics. There is no tenured faculty, no academic processes; the sole focus is on bottom-line economic results. These 21st century institutions are not burdened with esoteric pursuits of knowledge; rather, they focus on professional degrees for adults that have a fairly clear market value for a given career path.

The exemplars of this new species are the for-profit universities, which are cutting their teeth on the weakness of the 20th century universities. Though new at the game, in a few years they will be capable of hunting with lethal success. This new species is market-driven. Its key survival mechanism is the ability to rapidly evolve to new environments and to position in the market. Since they do not carry tenured faculty, they can rapidly jettison disciplines of study that do not penetrate market. Since they do not have academic processes, they can rapidly bring to market programs that can capture market share.

Certainly, not all for-profit providers have the core capabilities to compete long term in the market. Some emerge quickly and as quickly become extinct, but others are proving quite adept at drawing strength from this globally competitive market.

As mass, longevity and a voracious need for large quantities of prey (resources) proved lethal to the dinosaurs in the stark environments created by global darkening, so the universities of the early 20th century may face serious thinning or perhaps even extinction in the new globally competitive environment of higher education. Universities rooted in the early 20th century are intrinsically inefficient in today’s environment of market valuation and brand identity. Given the current internal structure of tenure and faculty governance, these universities lack the capability to respond to market forces in a timely fashion — to close out product lines no longer playing in the market and rapidly bring new and more efficient product to market.

Still, these once elegant life forms persevere, but for reasons having nothing to do with innate capability to embrace change. Instead, at the undergraduate level it is the instinctual and perhaps irrational desire of many parents to see their children prosper in a traditional liberal arts environment, and so their willingness to spend inordinate amounts of money for education. At the graduate level, the “brand name” is the driver. The reputation of leading institutions, established in an era before global market competition, is based on a footing much different from that used today to obtain market position, but it still works to sustain the life form, at least among a few elite universities.

In addition, traditional universities have benefited from some serious slack in the evolutionary rope. The Industrial Age required a few knowledge workers and a lot of folks doing heavy lifting, whereas the Knowledge Age requires vast numbers of educated workers. Almost overnight, this has led to a massive spike in global demand for education, with motivated consumers increasing perhaps 100-fold. What was the privilege of a few has become the expectation of all.

But global supply falls far short of meeting demand. With a population of 295 million, the United States has only 15 million active seats in the higher education classroom; China, with a population of 1.2 billion, has 2 million seats available; Brazil, with a population 170 million, has 2.5 million seats available.

This imbalance between supply and demand has creating a robust market for all providers. Suppliers of higher education simply have to dip their nets in the water to catch students. There is not yet the fight-to-the death competition for market share, and inefficient institutions have received a short reprieve from their evolutionary fate. But at some point, as with all markets, a saturation point will be reached, with supply outstripping demand — perhaps in 5, perhaps in 15 years. When this inversion occurs, those life forms with the required flexibility to quickly adapt to a fiercely competitive environment will survive and the others will fade from memory.

As there is private health care for those who can afford to pay at any price point, so there will continue some form of higher education that will meet the need and the check book of those wealthy enough to afford it. But for most now driven to higher education to meet the requirements of the Knowledge Age, it is value (the ratio of perceived quality over price) that will be the key determinate of what institution they will choose for their tuition dollar. To further stress the current market, state funding is not keeping up with inflation or enrollment growth, forcing higher education institutions to rely more on tuition and donations. Thus higher education is being pushed to stand on its own financial bottom rather than be a subsidized commodity, once again forcing the value proposition.

So what will be demanded of 20th century universities to survive when market supply reaches or exceeds demand? As in every market, those producers that have driven efficiency into their production system and responsiveness into their market positioning have at least a change at surviving. But the challenge is daunting because the 20th century university is trying to play serious catch up in new markets — adults, women, diversities, the under privileged — while using the same mentalities that allowed them to attract the 18 to 25 year old male.

As with IBM, which played in the personal computer market, but really lived in the mainframe business market, there is no fire in the belly of 20th century universities for these new markets. These institutions have not changed the way they go about their business to serve these new markets; and if there has been some change, it has been accompanied by the widespread grumbling of the faculty: Why do we have to teach at night? Why do we have to teach at multiple campuses? Why do we have to provide support services in the evening? Why do we have to teach students who aren’t educated the way we were? Why do we have to schedule classes so students can maximize their employment opportunities?

Meanwhile, 20th century universities are running average price increases twice the inflation rate and carrying multiple overheads of unproven value to the buying market. Walk into the library of any university today that has ubiquitous connections to the Internet, and you will find the stacks empty of both faculty and students. Is the traditional library a value add or a costly overhead? As with IBM, 20th century universities believe their brand will sustain price increases. “No frill, just degree” competitors are producing product without the high cost of minimalist full-time faculty workloads, large libraries and multiple staff intensive manual processes. As with the personal computer, will the buying market ultimately see any difference between the products except the name on the plastic and the price on the sticker?

What will be the destiny of the current life form we have called the 20th century university? It consumes far too many resources for what it returns to the environment, and though there are vast resources (markets) available, its structures do not let it tap these resources effectively. Its evolutionary tardiness has provided opportunity for a new species to take hold — the profit driven university. As the evolution of the human race has picked up the pace with each passing millennium, a future life form that has little resemblance to current higher education life forms will emerge much sooner than the usual eons it takes for evolution to create the next iteration of life.

The 20th century university is indeed obsolete and faces extinction.

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Question
Is Harvard's curriculum tantamount to no curriculum?
What does it take at a minimum to have an undergraduate education?

"As Goes Harvard. . . ," by Donald Kagan, Commentary Magazine ---
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=12202034_1

The dean of Harvard College, Harry R. Lewis, would seem to have agreed with this assessment. In a recently published book on the decline of Harvard, Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education, he cites the excuse offered by one member of the faculty committee: “the committee thought the best thing was to put a row of empty bottles up and see how the faculty wanted to fill them.” Lewis responds, acidly:

The empty bottles could be filled with anything so long as the right department was offering it. . . . But there is absolutely nothing that Harvard can expect students will know after they take three science or three humanities courses freely chosen from across the entire course catalog. The proposed general-education requirement gives up entirely on the idea of shared knowledge, shared values, even shared aspirations. In the absence of any pronouncement that anything is more important than anything else for Harvard students to know, Harvard is declaring that one can be an educated person in the 21st century without knowing anything about genomes, chromosomes, or Shakespeare.

_____________________

Does it matter that Harvard’s curriculum is a vacant vessel? It is no secret, after all, that to the Harvard faculty, undergraduate education is at best of secondary interest. What is laughingly called the Core Curriculum—precisely what Summers sought to repair—is distinguished by the absence of any core of studies generally required. In practice, moreover, a significant number of the courses in Harvard College are taught by graduate students, not as assistants to professors but in full control of the content. Although they are called “tutors,” evoking an image of learned Oxbridge dons passing on their wisdom one-on-one, what they are is a collection of inexperienced leaders of discussion or pseudo-discussion groups. The overwhelming majority of these young men and women, to whom is entrusted a good chunk of a typical undergraduate’s education, will never be considered good enough to belong to Harvard’s regular faculty.

But this does matter, and the reason is that how Harvard deals with its undergraduates is of great importance to other colleges. Harvard’s antiquity, the high quality of its faculty and student body, its wealth, and its prestige have made it a model to be watched and emulated. When Harvard adopted a program of “General Education” after World War II—the forerunner of today’s debased Core Curriculum—it changed the character of undergraduate education throughout the country.

So it is intriguing and instructive that Harvard’s former dean should be castigating the curriculum produced by the Harvard faculty—a curriculum that, he believes, exposes Harvard as “a university without a larger sense of educational purpose or a connection with its principal constituents.” And it is equally intriguing that Derek C. Bok, a former and now again, in the wake of Summers’s departure, the current president of Harvard, should have released his own troubled look at the same subject.

Continued in article

Students may take the easiest way out in customizable curricula --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CustomizedCurricula


But is it too quick to blame affordability relative to other major causes of dropping out of college,
especially the poor preparedness cause?

"Report Finds U.S. Students Lagging in Finishing College," by Tamar Lewin, The New York Times, September 7, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/07/education/07educ.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

The United States, long the world leader in higher education, has fallen behind other nations in its college enrollment and completion rates, as the affordability of American colleges and universities has declined, according to a new report.

The study, from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, found that although the United States still leads the world in the proportion of 35- to 64-year-olds with college degrees, it ranks seventh among developed nations for 25- to 34-year-olds. On rates of college completion, the United States is in the lower half of developed nations.

“Completion is the Achilles’ heel of American higher education,’’ said Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in San Jose, Calif., and Washington.

One particular area of concern, Mr. Callan said, is that younger Americans — the most diverse generation in the nation’s history — are lagging educationally, compared with the baby boom generation.

“The strength of America is in the population that’s closest to retirement, while the strength of many countries against whom we compare ourselves is in their younger population,’’ he said. “Perhaps for the first time in our history, the next generation will be less educated.’’

Over all, the report said, while other nations have significantly improved and expanded their higher education systems, the United States’ higher education performance has stalled since the early 1990’s.

At the same time, for most American families, college is becoming increasingly unaffordable. While federal Pell grants for low-income students covered 70 percent of the cost of a year at a four-year public university in the 1990’s, Mr. Callan said, that has dropped to less than half.

“It’s going backwards,’’ he said. “Tuition is going up faster than family income, faster than inflation, faster even than health care.’’

The report, which grades the states on how well they compare with the state with the best record, gives 43 states, including New York and Connecticut, an F for affordability. New Jersey got a D.

On average, a year at a public four-year university costs 31 percent of a family’s income, the report said. But that figure hides the enormous difference between families in the bottom 20 percent of income, for which it would be 73 percent of annual income, and those in the top 20 percent, for which it would amount to only 9 percent.

The report, “Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education,” paints a picture of an income-stratified society, with a huge educational gap between low- and high-income young adults. In 12 states, the proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds from high-income families who are enrolled in college is at least twice as great as those from low-income families; in five states, the high-income students are at least three times as likely to be in college.

In New York, 33 percent of young adults from families with the lowest fifth of incomes are in college, compared with 55 percent of those from the richest families, close to the national average. The figures for Connecticut are 16.1 percent from the bottom fifth and 57.9 percent from the top fifth. New Jersey’s figures are 19.6 percent from the bottom fifth and 51.0 percent from the top.

Ethnic differences in college enrollment also persist, with four states having twice the percentage of white students in college as nonwhite students. The secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, plans to announce her own ideas for making higher education “affordable, accessible and consumer friendly for all Americans’’ after the Commission on the Future of Higher Education that she created last fall delivers its final recommendations this month.

“In order to remain a leader in the global economy, our nation must adapt its higher education system to prepare Americans for the jobs of today and tomorrow,’’ Ms. Spellings said yesterday.

The report is the fourth in the center’s series of assessments of national and state performance, which it produces every two years. This is the first report to include international comparisons.

On the state level, New York rated an A– on both students’ preparation and the proportion who complete their degrees. New Jersey got an A on preparation and a B on completion, Connecticut an A– on preparation and a B on completion.

The likelihood of a ninth grader in New York enrolling in college four years later has dropped to 37 percent, three percentage points below the national average, from 45 percent in the early 1990’s. That is one of the steepest declines in the nation, and one the center attributed to a falling high school graduation rate in the state.

Even accounting for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program for low-income students, the center found, attending a public two- or four-year college would cost low- and lower-middle-income students nearly half of their family’s annual income.

“New York has one of the best financial aid programs in the country, but also one of the largest low-income populations that the program doesn’t reach,’’ Mr. Callan said.

Officials at the State University of New York, the City University of New York and the State Education Department took issue with the center’s methodology and said New York’s public universities were more affordable than portrayed.

The report “badly miscalculates New York’s TAP program and inaccurately portrays higher education in New York as unaffordable,’’ said John R. Ryan, the SUNY chancellor. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The vice chancellor at CUNY, Jay Hershenson, said that, among other things, the report sharply understated the average amount of aid to undergraduates who receive state aid and failed to take into account more than a quarter-million students in nondegree programs that lead to college.

Continued in article


Are conflicts of interest and kickbacks among college "trustees" the norm or the exception?
But Adelphi’s trustees had never voted on his compensation; only a small committee even knew the details. Adelphi even concealed the largesse from the Internal Revenue Service for five years, incurring an $11,500 fine. The Regents also found conflicts of interest involving two trustees, including the former board chairwoman. Her insurance company was found to have gotten $1.2 million in fees for handling Adelphi’s accounts.
"University Enjoys a Renaissance After 90’s Strife," by Bruce Lambert, The New York Times, September 5, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/04/nyregion/04adelphi.html

Appearance Versus Reality of Trustee/School Kickbacks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Kickbacks


"U. of Phoenix Loses in U.S. Court," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, September 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/06/phoenix

The University of Phoenix must defend itself against charges that it violated federal law by paying its recruiters based on how many students they enrolled, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday. The federal appeals panel’s unanimous decision, which overturned a lower court’s ruling in Phoenix’s favor, had been eagerly awaited because of the for-profit university’s high profile as one of the country’s largest and because of the mammoth size of the malfeasance alleged — billions of dollars could be at stake.

But the case is also important because it is the latest in a string of decisions in which federal courts have gradually expanded the grounds under which colleges can be sued under the federal False Claims Act, much to the consternation of some college and university lawyers and legal experts. In siding with the former admissions officials who sued Phoenix on the government’s behalf, the Ninth Circuit panel leaned heavily on one of those earlier decisions, involving Oakland City University.

At issue in the Phoenix case is a provision in the Higher Education Act that prohibits colleges from offering bonuses or other incentive pay to admissions officers or recruiters based on specific enrollment goals, to discourage them from giving officials extra incentive to bring in any potential student, regardless of academic ability. Two former enrollment counselors at Phoenix, Mary Hendow and Julie Albertson, charge that the for-profit university paid cash bonuses and other gifts to them and to other recruiters based strictly on how many students they enrolled — charges Phoenix has denied.

In 2003, Hendow and Albertson filed what is known as a qui tam lawsuit, which is filed under the federal False Claims Act by an individual who believes he or she has identified fraud committed against the federal government, and who sues hoping to be joined by the U.S. Justice Department. (The plaintiff then shares in any financial penalties, which can include trebled damages.) The women charged that the allegedly fraudulent behavior had put more than $1.5 billion in federal funds at risk, which set the value of a potential verdict in the case at several times that. The federal government declined to join the lawsuit as a third party, but the Justice Department did file a friend of the court brief in 2005 encouraging the court to rule against Phoenix.

A federal district court dismissed the women’s lawsuit in May 2004, concluding that they had not put forward a valid theory for how Phoenix had defrauded the government under the False Claims Act.

But in its decision Tuesday, a three judge panel of Ninth Circuit appeals court concluded differently. Reinforcing and even expanding on last October’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in United States of America ex. rel. Jeffrey E. Main v. Oakland City University, the Ninth Circuit judges declared that the two former admissions officers (known in False Claims Act parlance as the “relators") had indeed offered two legitimate theories (known as “false certification” and “promissory fraud") for how the university had defrauded the government.

Without ruling on whether the women had actually proven their claims — impossible without a trial on the facts of the case — the court concluded that they had met the four requirements of filing a legitimate claim under the federal fraud law: (1) alleging that a defendant had made false statement or engaged in fraudulent conduct; (2) that the action had been taken deliberately; (3) that the act or statement played a direct role in money flowing out of government coffers; and (4) that the government did indeed pay out or forfeit money as a result. At its core, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the university had — by participating in a several-step process to accept federal financial aid — committed to abiding by a wide range of rules and requirements, including the prohibition on incentive compensation.

On multiple fronts, the court rejected arguments made by lawyers for Phoenix. To the suggestion — which other college officials have echoed in fighting False Claims Act cases — that “the incentive compensation ban is nothing more than one of hundreds of boilerplate requirements with which it promises compliance,” as the appeals panel phrased it, the court wrote: “This may be true, but fraud is fraud, no matter how ’small.’

“The university is worried that our holding today opens it up to greater liability for innocent regulatory violations, but that is not the case — as we held above, innocent or unintentional violations do not lead to False Claims Act liability,” Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall wrote for the court. “But that is no reason to innoculate [sic] institutions of higher education from liability when they knowingly violate a regulatory condition, with the intent to deceive, as is alleged here.”

With that statement, the court seemed to clearly reject the arguments made by college officials that the federal courts’ decisions in this line of cases are making colleges significantly more vulnerable to False Claims Act challenges — even if they have violated federal law by simple mistake.

And Phoenix’s assertion that the ban on incentive compensation is a condition on participating in the federal student aid programs, but not a condition on receiving payment from the government, “is a distinction without a difference,” the court said. “In the context of Title IV and the Higher Education Act, if we held that conditions of participation were not conditions of payment, there would be no conditions of payment at all — and thus, an educational institution could flout the law at will.”

The Ninth Circuit’s decision not to dismiss the lawsuit against Phoenix would send the case back to the lower federal court for a trial on the merits. But several other possibilities seem likelier at this point. The university could ask the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review the decision of the three judge panel.

Or Phoenix’s lawyers could appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, on the hope that the nation’s highest court decides to hear the case because it concludes that federal appeals courts have split on the issues in the case. But the Supreme Court declined in April to consider the Oakland City case, letting the Seventh Circuit’s decision stand, which would appear to make it unlikely to hear the Phoenix case.

Timothy J. Hatch, a Los Angeles lawyer who represented Phoenix in this case, said that he and the university “obviously disagree” with the court’s conclusions but had not yet decided how to respond to the ruling. Terri Bishop, chief communications officer for the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, added in a statement that the decision “greatly expands the scope of False Claims Act liability beyond what Congress had intended or even what other courts have recognized.” The company is “carefully reviewing the opinion in order to determine our next steps,” she said.

The two California lawyers who represented the relators in the case, Nancy G. Krop and J. Daniel Bartley, were practically giddy on the telephone late Tuesday afternoon, and said they were eager to get the case before a jury. “The evidence is all sitting there waiting for a courtroom, and once we get a courtroom,” Krop said, Phoenix “is in big trouble.”

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Oligopoly academic journal  publishers brought this on themselves by price gouging research libraries

"Momentum for Open Access Research," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/06/access

When the Federal Public Research Access Act was proposed this year, scholarly society after scholarly society came out against the legislation, which would require federal agencies to publish their findings, online and free, within six months of their publication elsewhere. The future of academic research was at stake, the societies said, and both their journals and the peer review system could collapse if the legislation passed.

It s increasingly hard, however, to say that those societies reflect the views of academe on the issue. In July, the provosts of 25 research universities came out in favor of the legislation, saying that the current system of research publishing leads to outrageously high journal costs that are harming libraries and making it impossible for people to follow research. Now the presidents of 53 liberal arts colleges — at the behest of their librarians — are issuing a joint letter backing the legislation. And while it is unlikely that the bill will pass this year, the new letter that was released Tuesday is part of a broader effort by open access supporters to place higher education in a new position when the debate is renewed next year.

Nancy S. Dye, president of Oberlin College, where the new letter was organized, said that her interest was in part — but only in part — financial. “All liberal arts colleges are finding it more and more difficult to purchase the materials we need,” she said. But Dye stressed that there is also “a philosophical view” that is spreading: “Knowledge is made to be shared.” And while that may sound idealistic, Dye said there is another “underlying view” that makes sense to her and other presidents. “If this research is being done with federal money, it would only seem right that the people who are paying taxes have access to the research findings.”

In another sign of the shifting debate on open access, the American Chemical Society — a major journal publisher and a strong critic of the open access legislation — announced that it was creating an “author choice” program where authors for its journals could pay a fee to have their articles available online and free should the authors “wish or need” to do so.

Society officials denied that this was an attempt to compromise, but said that the change was needed because of other shifts in journal publishing. Pushed by the National Institutes of Health, biology journals have been speedier to move toward open access than have chemistry journals, and with more chemistry work these days linked to biology, the move was seen as key to promoting healthy interaction between the disciplines. (The fees would range from $1,000 to $3,000 and would not be discussed until after an article had been accepted, to prevent financial incentives from entering into the peer review process.)

The letter from the liberal arts college presidents is straightforward. It says that their institutions can’t afford rising journal prices, that their faculties and students want more access to journals than the institutions can provide, and that liberal arts colleges play a key role in producing future Ph.D.’s, so their exposure to journals matters. Oberlin is among many liberal arts colleges with unusually high percentages of graduates who go on to earn doctorates.

“Adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act will democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars,” the letter says. “It will benefit education, research, and the general public.”

Presidents signing the letter come from all over the country. Among them are the heads of Amherst, Barnard, Bowdoin, Coe, Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall, Kalamazoo, Lake Forest, Middlebury, Occidental, Reed, Rhodes, Vassar, Wabash and Whitman Colleges. They were organized by the Oberlin Group, an organization of the libraries of liberal arts colleges.

Ray English, director of libraries at Oberlin, said that the current system is “fundamentally unstable,” adding that “I’ve been looking at these issues for more than a decade now, and it’s clear that there are problems of access to research that are such that we need transformational strategies.”

Diane Graves, university librarian at Trinity University, in Texas, another of the institutions backing the letter, agreed. “The current model is broken so it’s time for new models. Staying with the status quo is unsustainable.”

Graves said that in five years in her position, her library has received “generous” overall budget increases from the university, but that they are never enough to keep up with journal inflation. Dozens of journals have been cut, and she is forced each year to go to each academic department to seek agreement on what to eliminate. What frustrates her the most, she said, is continuing to cut off access to information professors and students want — when the model being pushed by the legislation would provide that knowledge without increasing the college’s costs.

As for the scholarly societies, Graves said that she knew that they did valuable work, but questioned why that work needed to be subsidized by journals. “A lot of societies have relied on journals to fund other activities. But why should libraries at colleges — nonprofit entities within nonprofit entities — fund those activities? Shouldn’t members be funding those activities? We need to have this conversation.”

Continued in article

Related stories

 

At last editorial boards are protesting rip-offs of oligopoly publishers
Another journal declaration of independence is in progress. The entire editorial board of Topology has resigned to protest Elsevier's refusal to lower the subscription price.
University of Illinois Issues in Scholarly Communications Blog, August 14, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/

Bob Jensen's threads on academic journal publisher frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#ScholarlyJournals


"States Levy Wide Range of Taxes on Gasoline," AccountingWeb, August 28, 2006 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102497


"Goodbye, Taxachusetts," The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2006; Page A20 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115758826429655841.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

You'll never guess the hottest issue in this fall's Democratic primary for governor of Massachusetts: income tax cuts. Two of the three Democratic candidates in this bluest of blue states have endorsed cutting the state flat-rate income tax to 5%. One of them, Democratic Attorney General Tom Reilly, insists the tax cut would mean "real money in people's pockets," and he pledges to be a "strong, unwavering voice to stand up and hold the line on taxes."

The leading Republican candidate heading into the September 19 primary, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, agrees. The lone dissenter is former Clinton Administration U.S. Attorney Deval Patrick, who sounds like his former Washington colleagues in claiming "we can't afford it." Voters disagree. An August 27 Boston Globe poll found that 57% of Democratic primary voters support the tax relief plan. This is the same electorate that has given the nation Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry.

Perhaps liberal Northeasterners aren't as fond of high taxes as their political leaders assert. Earlier this year, the heavily Democratic legislature in Rhode Island slid down the Laffer Curve by chopping its top income tax rate nearly in half as part of a plan to lure departed jobs and workers back to the state. Meanwhile, a property tax revolt is brewing in New Jersey.

Despite the disparaging legend of "Taxachusetts" going back to the Dukakis era, Bay State voters have often shown they like taxes about as much as they do the New York Yankees. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one in the state, the last four governors have been fiscally conservative and tax-cutting Republicans. In 2000, despite heavy opposition from the Boston media and lobbyists, 59% of Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative to cut the income tax rate to 5%, from 5.85%.

This year's tax fight has erupted because the oligarchs in the legislature have ignored the will of the electorate by freezing the rate at 5.3%. Their excuse was that this was required in 2002 to make up for falling tax revenue and would only be "temporary." But tax receipts have climbed again since 2003 -- to $18.4 billion from $14 billion, a 31% cash windfall.

The pro-tax coalition has also found an unlikely ally in the state Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, which insist the government has unmet spending needs. "The big businesses lobby against tax cuts here," says David Tuerck, director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a local think-tank. "They much prefer to spend the money on corporate welfare projects." The Institute's new study estimates the tax cut would create 8,000 new jobs and raise incomes by more than $450 million over the next four years.

Current Governor Mitt Romney says the state's $1 billion revenue surplus more than justifies the tax cut. "We'll either spend that money or give it back to the citizens," he says. "Those are our options." It says something about the public mood that, even in the cradle of modern liberalism, voters don't seem to trust politicians to spend the dollars wisely and want more of their money back.


Global Warming Feeds Itself
"Greenhouse Gas Bubbling from Melting Permafrost Feeds Climate Warming at Much Higher Than Expected Rates," PhysOrg, September 6, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76777896.html

A study co-authored by a Florida State University scientist and published in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature has found that as the permafrost melts in North Siberia due to climate change, carbon sequestered and buried there since the Pleistocene era is bubbling up to the surface of Siberian thaw lakes and into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In turn, that bubbling methane held captive as carbon under the permafrost for more than 40,000 years is accelerating global warming by heating the Earth even more --- exacerbating the entire cycle. The ominous implications of the process grow as the permafrost decomposes further and the resulting lakes continue to expand, according to FSU oceanography Professor Jeff Chanton and study co-authors at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

"This is not good for the quality of human life on Earth," Chanton said.

The researchers devised a novel method of measuring ebullition (bubbling) to more accurately quantify the methane emissions from two Siberian thaw lakes and in so doing, revealed the world's northern wetlands as a much larger source of methane release into the atmosphere than previously believed. The magnitude of their findings has increased estimates of such emissions by 10 to 63 percent.

Understanding the contribution of North Siberia thaw lakes to global atmospheric methane is critical, explains the paper that appears in this week's Nature, because the concentration of that potent greenhouse is highest at that latitude, has risen sharply in recent decades and exhibits a significant seasonal jump at those high northern latitudes.

Chanton points to the thawing permafrost along the margins of the thaw lakes -- which comprise 90 percent of the lakes in the Russian permafrost zone -- as the primary source of methane released in the region. During the yearlong study, he performed the isotopic analysis and interpretation to determine the methane's age and origin and assisted with measurements of the methane bubbles' composition to shed light on the mode of gas transport.

"My fellow researchers and I estimate that an expansion of these thaw lakes between 1974 and 2000, a period of regional warming, increased methane emissions by 58 percent there," said Chanton. "Because the methane now emitted in our study region dates to the Pleistocene age, it's clear that the process, described by scientists as 'positive feedback to global warming,' has led to the release of old carbon stocks once stored in the permafrost."

In addition to Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography at FSU, co-authors of "Methane bubbling from Siberian thaw lakes as a positive feedback to climate warming" include K. M. Walter (Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska-Fairbanks); S. A. Zimov (Northeast Science Station, Cherskii, Russia); and D. Verbyla (Forest Science department, University of Alaska-Fairbanks).


From Jim Mahar's Blog on September 6, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Executive Governance: Congressional Hearings and more

I worked at home this morning in order to watch the Senate Finance Committee's meeting on Executive Compensation. It was interesting but did not cut much new ground.

Predictably, the session began with the numbers (for instance that CEOs made more than 300 times the average employee in 2004), the problems of backdating options (including the need to redo tax records), and the principle-agent conflicts that arise when executives are paid large amounts of money.

Why are taxes so important of issue here? One reason is that firms can deduct over $1 million per executive only if that pay is incentive based. Back-dating the options loses that incentive component and thus disallows the deduction.

Consider the following from
Business Week:
"Known as Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code, that provision limits the tax deductibility of pay for the five highest-paid executives at public companies to $1 million, unless the pay is determined to be "performance-based." To qualify as performance-based pay, compensation committees must set "pre-established" and "objective" performance goals. Shareholders must approve the goals, and the compensation committee must certify they were met.....

But corporate governance experts, academics, and some members of Congress contend that many big companies have figured out how to bypass the rule by setting easy-to-reach goals that make the lion's share of executive pay �from bonuses to stock grants "performance-based" so they can write those payments off on tax returns.

BILLIONS IN LOST TAXES. The net effect, say critics, is that many companies now deduct almost all of their top executives' compensation"

C-Span also covered the Finance Committe's panel question and answer period. Some highlights from the panel discussion.
 
Senatore Grassely who led the meeting concluded by saying he will be asking for board minutes of firms that did backdate options.

Interesting discussion. I wish I had recorded it. Hopefully it will be online soon.

This meeting came on the heels of a
NY Times report that backdating was a more serious problem than previously thought:
 
"A new study estimates that the stock options backdating scandal may cost shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars. The study was released on the eve of two Senate committee hearings that plan to examine the scope of the widening investigation into improper options practices.

Three researchers at the University of Michigan estimated that backdating stock options between 2000 and 2004 helped sweeten the average executive'�s pay by more than 1.25 percent, or about $600,000. But the fallout from the recent options investigations has caused those executives'� companies to fall in market value by an average of 8 percent, or $500 million each.

�For about $600,000 a year to the executives, shareholders are being put at risk to the tune of $500 million,� the study concludes."

 


September 1, 2006 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]

TECHNOLOGY LITERACY TEST REVEALS STUDENT DEFICIENCIES

Educational Testing Service's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Assessment "uses scenario-based tasks to measure both cognitive and technical skills . . . and assesses individual student proficiency." Institutions that were early adopters of the test are finding that it reveals student deficiencies in critical areas. "Of 10,000 high school and college students asked to evaluate a set of Web sites last fall, nearly half could not correctly judge which was the most objective, reliable and timely, according to preliminary results of a digital-literacy assessment." ["Students Don't Know Much Beyond Google," by Leila Fadel; STAR-TELEGRAM, July 27, 2006; http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/15134538.htm ]

While college students may be competent Google searchers, many lack skills for evaluating online resources and are unaware of other digital resources, such as library databases, that could provide more reliable content. The test's results indicate the need for more formal training for students at all levels to acquire the skills they need to critically evaluate online resources.

For more information on the ICT, go to http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.435c0b5cc7bd0ae7015d9510c3921509 

......................................................................

PLAYING GAMES

Several recently-published articles discuss the role of game playing as tools for education or social engagement.

"Simulations, Games, and Learning" By Diana Oblinger EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, May 2006 http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3004.pdf 

"Today's games are complex, take up to 100 hours, require collaboration with others, and involve developing values, insights, and new knowledge. They are immersive virtual worlds that are augmented by a more complex external environment that involves communities of practice, the buying and selling of game items, blogs, and developer communities. In many ways, games have become complex learning systems."

"Digital Game-Based Learning: It's Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless" By Richard Van Eck EDUCAUSE REVIEW, vol. 41, no. 2, March/April 2006, pp. 16–30. http://www.educause.edu/apps/er/erm06/erm0620.asp 

According to the author, "The combined weight of three factors has resulted in widespread public interest in games as learning tools." These factors are (1) "ongoing research conducted by DGBL [digital game-based learning] proponents;" (2) "today's 'Net Generation,' or 'digital natives,' who have become disengaged with traditional instruction;" and (3) "the increased popularity of games. . . nearly as many digital games were sold as there are people in the United States (248 million games vs. 293.6 million residents.)"

"Scavenger Hunt Enhances Students' Utilization of Blackboard" By Dianne C. Jones JOURNAL OF ONLINE LEARNING AND TEACHING, vol. 2, no. 2, June 2006 http://jolt.merlot.org/Vol2_No2_Jones.htm

"The use of the Scavenger Hunt game has made the use of a web-based course management system, like Blackboard, less threatening for students and has significantly reduced the need for additional instructor time to deal with technology-related issues throughout the course."

"Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as 'Third Places'" By Constance Steinkuehler and Dmitri Williams JOURNAL OF COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION, vol. 11, issue 4, 2006 http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue4/steinkuehler.html 

The authors studied how massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) provide a means for establishing informal social relationships beyond the workplace and home. (This issue has other articles related to games and play. Link to other articles at http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue4/ )

Bob Jensen's threads on edutainment and learning games are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Edutainment

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SLOAN SEMESTER ARCHIVES

The "Sloan Semester" was an initiative by Sloan-C member institutions to provide free online courses to college and university students whose studies were impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. In twenty-one days a "virtual" institution was set up to provide "more than 1,350 courses from over 150 institutions in 38 states available to over 1,750 students, utilizing over 4,000 'seats' in online courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels." The Sloan Semester Archives website includes "includes links to an archived version of the Sloan Semester Catalog, a case study of the project, data about participants and lessons learned." The archives are available at http://www.sloan-c.org/sloansemester/index.asp 

Sloan-C is a consortium of institutions and organizations committed "to help learning organizations continually improve quality, scale, and breadth of their online programs according to their own distinctive missions, so that education will become a part of everyday life, accessible and affordable for anyone, anywhere, at any time, in a wide variety of disciplines." Sloan-C is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. For more information go to http://www.aln.org/

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OBSTACLES TO EDUCATIONAL USE OF DIGITAL MATERIAL

"The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age" reports on a year-long study, conducted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, to "explore whether innovative educational uses of digital technology were hampered by the restrictions of copyright." Four serious obstacles were identified in the study:

-- "Unclear or inadequate copyright law relating to crucial provisions such as fair use and educational use;"

-- "Extensive adoption of 'digital rights management' technology to lock up content;"

-- "Practical difficulties obtaining rights to use content when licenses are necessary;" and

-- "Undue caution by gatekeepers such as publishers or educational administrators."

The complete report can be download at no cost at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=923465

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School is a "research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. For more information, contact Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School, 23 Everett Street, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA; tel: 617-495-7547; fax: 617-495-7641; email: cyber@law.harvard.edu ; Web: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/

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RECOMMENDED READING

"Perspective: Teen's Warning on the Gospel of Wikipedia"
By Soumya Srinagesh
CNET News.com, August 11, 2006

http://news.com.com/2010-1038_3-6104446.html?part=rss&tag=6104446&subj=news 

"Yes, teachers and parents constantly remind students to think twice before relying on certain online sources, but it's easy for a student in a rush to forget that Wikipedia belongs in the category of unverified information rather than credible information--especially because its format is one of a traditional encyclopedia. Which isn't to say Wikipedia's a bad thing."


Urban Environment: Challenges to Sustainability ---
http://topics.developmentgateway.org/special/urbanenvironment

Cyburbia Resource Directory: Zoning and Land Use Regulations ---
http://www.cyburbia.org/directory/index.php?sid=760110057&cat=51&t=sub_pages





Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/

Latest Headlines on September 8, 2006

Latest Headlines on September 9, 2006


"Early Symptoms Can Warn of Sudden Cardiac Death," Food Consumer, September 8, 2006 ---
http://www.foodconsumer.org/777/8/Early_Symptoms_Can_Warn_of_Sudden_Cardiac_Death.shtml

FRIDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- "Sudden cardiac death" often isn't all that sudden, and lives can be saved by training people about the symptoms of impending cardiac arrest and what action to take, a German study shows.

"A study of 406 sudden cardiac death patients indicates that they often have symptoms, especially the typical symptom angina pectoris [chest pain] for as long as 120 minutes before an arrest," said study lead author Dr. Dirk Muller, a cardiologist and emergency physician at the Medical Clinic II, Cardiology and Pulmonology, in Berlin.

"Two-thirds of cardiac arrest patients have a history that predisposes them to sudden cardiac death," Muller added, so efforts to reduce the toll should focus on teaching their family members to recognize the symptoms and how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In the study, 72 percent of cardiac-arrest cases occurred at home, and two-thirds were witnessed by others.

The researchers collected information about symptoms preceding cardiac arrest for 323 patients. The most common warning sign was chest pain, which occurred for at least 20 minutes, and, in some cases, for hours, before cardiac arrest. Chest pain occurred in 25 percent of the patients whose cardiac arrest was witnessed by other persons and in one-third of other cases.

Breathlessness was the next most common symptom, seen in 17 percent of witnessed arrests and 30 percent of other cases. Other common symptoms were nausea, vomiting, dizziness or fainting.

CPR was performed on 57 patients, and 13 of them survived to be discharged from the hospital. The survival rate for those who did not get CPR was 4 percent -- 13 of 349 patients.

One notable fact was that CPR was more likely to be performed when cardiac arrest occurred in public cases -- 26 percent of the time, compared to 11 percent of the time when the attack occurred at home.

The study results were expected to be published in this week's issue of Circulation.

There are two significant messages from the study, said Dr. Ann Bolger, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

"The first is that people need to be educated about how cardiac symptoms can present," Bolger said. "We always try to encourage people not to discount such things as shortness of breath, things that really should demand a response, because they could be a harbinger of early death.

"The second thing is that the family is important," she added. "Many of these patients have a known history of heart problems. They are not taking us by surprise. We know that one of these things can happen to them, so, it is important to get education that if there is chest pain that does not respond to nitroglycerine, they should call 911. When a patient has active heart disease, I try to make sure that they and their family get basic training about calling 911 and get the emergency medical service on the scene. People who don't get CPR before they get to the hospital have much worse outcomes."

According to the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of heart function. The victim may or may not have diagnosed heart disease; the most common cause of death is coronary heart disease.

The AHA estimates that 330,000 Americans die each year from heart disease before reaching a hospital and urges CPR training on a large scale.

More information

For more on CPR, visit the American Heart Association.


Unusual three-drug combo inhibits growth of aggressive tumors
An experimental anti-cancer regimen combined a diuretic, a Parkinson's disease medication and a drug ordinarily used to reverse the effect of sedatives. The unusual mixture inhibited the growth of aggressive prostate tumors in laboratory mice in research conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Although their drug choices may seem capricious, the researchers weren't randomly pulling drugs from their shelves. They made their discovery using sophisticated methods for delving into the unique metabolism of cancer cells and then choosing compounds likely to interfere with their growth.
"Unusual three-drug combo inhibits growth of aggressive tumors," PhysOrg, September 8, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news76951366.html


Forwarded by Debbie Bowling

Help for chronic pain: Drug limits may be eased Restrictions on the use of powerful painkillers would be loosened for patients with chronic pain under a federal rule proposed Wednesday, allowing doctors to prescribe a 90-day supply of the drugs. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14702157/from/ET/


"Gene Called Link Between Life Span and Cancers," by Nicholas Wade, The New York Times, September 7, 2006 ---
Click Here 

Biologists have uncovered a deep link between life span and cancer in the form of a gene that switches off stem cells as a person ages.

The critical gene, well known for its role in suppressing tumors, seems to mediate a profound balance between life and death. It weighs the generation of new replacement cells, required for continued life, against the risk of death from cancer, which is the inevitable outcome of letting cells divide.

To offset the increasing risk of cancer as a person ages, the gene gradually reduces the ability of stem cells to proliferate.

The new finding, reported by three groups of researchers online yesterday in Nature, was made in a special breed of mice that lack the pivotal gene, but is thought likely to apply to people, as well.

The finding suggests that many degenerative diseases of aging are caused by an active shutting down of the stem cells that renew the body’s various tissues and are not just a passive disintegration of tissues under daily wear and tear. “I don’t think aging is a random process — it’s a program, an anticancer program,” said Dr. Norman E. Sharpless of the University of North Carolina, senior author of one of the three reports.

The other senior authors are Drs. Sean J. Morrison of the University of Michigan and David T. Scadden of the Harvard Medical School.

The full implications are far from clear, but the finding that the cells are switched off with age does not seem too encouraging for researchers who hope to use a patient’s own adult stem cells to treat disease. That result may undercut opponents of research on human embryonic stem cells who argue that adult stem cells are enough to build new tissue.

Continued in article


From the Scout Report on September 8, 2006

Rossetti Archive --- http://www.rossettiarchive.org/index.html 

Not unlike its contemporary, the William Blake Archive (mentioned in the January 2nd, 1998 Scout Report), the Rossetti Archive exists to advance the study of one particular painter and writer, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "who was, according to both John Ruskin and Walter Pater, the most important and original artistic force in the second half of the nineteenth century in Great Britain." The Rossetti Archive does this by transporting traditional methods of humanities scholarship into the digital environment, by providing what will eventually be a comprehensive collection of digital versions of all Rossetti's works, supplemented with analysis, notes, and editorial commentary. Ultimately, it will be easy for scholars to use any digital object in the Rossetti Archive, as well as share their analyses, and view others' work. In addition, the Rossetti Archive is one of the collaborators in NINES (http://www.nines.org/index.html), an attempt to bring together the numerous digital humanities projects that have come online in the last 10 years, and facilitate online collaboration between scholars.


Stories on Stage --- http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/programs/specials/sos/stories.asp 

Dramatic readings on the radio were a mainstay of this Marconi-infused mode of communication for decades, and in recent years, more and more public radio station have been creating their own live dramatic reading series. One such vehicle is the Stories on Stage series, which was started in 1993 on Chicago Public Radio. Essentially, each program finds a single actor reading three or four stories that share a common theme. Visitors who are seeking literary and dramatic nourishment will appreciate the fact that this site contains both current and past performances of the series for their listening pleasure. Over the years, readings have featured the works of Raymond Carver, Edith Wharton, and a special episode dedicated to the works of Tobias Wolff. Certainly, one can see that this site might be put to good use in a theater arts classroom or one dedicated to the practice of elocution or performance arts.

====== Network Tools ====

GroupMail Free Edition 5.1.032 --- http://www.group-mail.com/asp/common/downloads.asp?p=pp 

Let’s be honest: While sending a mass email may not be one’s favorite way to communicate with friends, colleagues, or family, sometimes it’s just plain necessary. For those occasions, visitors may wish to take a gander at this application which eases this process. With GroupMail, users can create lists that include up to 100 recipients, and then send their messages straight away. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer.


LiveCargo PC Desktop 3.5.1
http://www.livecargo.com/LiveCargo/index/processfreetrial/topic/FREE_TRIAL_SIGNUP 

With the rise of online collaborations, users in the business, higher education, or related fields may find this application terribly useful. LiveCargo will allow them to send large files quickly, along with offering them the ability to store said files for their convenience. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer or Mac OS X 10.4.



"Books: Out of Print:  Sylvia Plath's bedtime story. Lynne Cheney's novel. A look at the year's top used books," by Nate Herpich, The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2006, Page P2 --- Click Here

When readers want to see how new books are selling, they check the bestseller lists or the rankings on Web sites like Amazon. But a new set of rankings has just come out for another segment of the market: books that are out of print. Last week, www.BookFinder.com , a site that lets shoppers search the inventories of about 100,000 booksellers for new and used books, released a list of the out-of-print books that were most searched-for on its site in the past year. Though these books weren't necessarily the top sellers, the report offers a look at what titles are generating interest. Below, three of the most searched-for out-of-print titles in the past year, according to the site's rankings.

The Bed Book, Sylvia Plath (1976)

One of the top out-of-print children's books has an unexpected author -- the poet Sylvia Plath, who wrote this book-length poem for youngsters. The work describes a series of magical beds, including one that grows when it's watered and another that can be used as a submarine.

Sisters, Lynne Cheney (1981)

The single most sought-after work of fiction on BookFinder this year was written by the vice president's wife. The novel, a romance set in the American frontier that had limited sales at the time of its release, currently commands prices as high as $720 at used-book sellers in BookFinder's network.

Voices of Moccasin Creek, Tate Cromwell Page (1972)

This extremely rare work chronicles the journey of Mr. Page's ancestors from Mississippi to Pope County, Ark., in the Ozark National Forest. The founder and CEO of BookFinder.com, Anirvan Chatterjee, says that books tied to a particular area can develop a strong regional following.

 




Forwarded by Debbie Bowling from a WSJ article

"I Just Called to Say I Love You:  The sounds of 9/11, beyond the metallic roar, by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/

Everyone remembers the pictures, but I think more and more about the sounds. I always ask people what they heard that day in New York. We've all seen the film and videotape, but the sound equipment of television crews didn't always catch what people have described as the deep metallic roar. The other night on TV there was a documentary on the Ironworkers of New York's Local 40, whose members ran to the site when the towers fell. They pitched in on rescue, then stayed for eight months to deconstruct a skyscraper some of them had helped build 35 years before. An ironworker named Jim Gaffney said, "My partner kept telling me the buildings are coming down and I'm saying 'no way.' Then we heard that noise that I will never forget. It was like a creaking and then the next thing you felt the ground rumbling."

Rudy Giuliani said it was like an earthquake. The actor Jim Caviezel saw the second plane hit the towers on television and what he heard shook him: "A weird, guttural discordant sound," he called it, a sound exactly like lightning. He knew because earlier that year he'd been hit. My son, then a teenager in a high school across the river from the towers, heard the first plane go in at 8:45 a.m. It sounded, he said, like a heavy truck going hard over a big street grate.

I think too about the sounds that came from within the buildings and within the planes--the phone calls and messages left on answering machines, all the last things said to whoever was home and picked up the phone. They awe me, those messages. Something terrible had happened. Life was reduced to its essentials. Time was short. People said what counted, what mattered. It has been noted that there is no record of anyone calling to say, "I never liked you," or, "You hurt my feelings." No one negotiated past grievances or said, "Vote for Smith." Amazingly --or not--there is no record of anyone damning the terrorists or saying "I hate them."

No one said anything unneeded, extraneous or small. Crisis is a great editor. When you read the transcripts that have been released over the years it's all so clear.

Flight 93 flight attendant Ceecee Lyles, 33 years old, in an answering-machine message to her husband: "Please tell my children that I love them very much. I'm sorry, baby. I wish I could see your face again."

Thirty-one-year-old Melissa Harrington, a California-based trade consultant at a meeting in the towers, called her father to say she loved him. Minutes later she left a message on the answering machine as her new husband slept in their San Francisco home. "Sean, it's me, she said. "I just wanted to let you know I love you."

Capt. Walter Hynes of the New York Fire Department's Ladder 13 dialed home that morning as his rig left the firehouse at 85th Street and Lexington Avenue. He was on his way downtown, he said in his message, and things were bad. "I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids."

Firemen don't become firemen because they're pessimists. Imagine being a guy who feels in his gut he's going to his death, and he calls on the way to say goodbye and make things clear. His widow later told the Associated Press she'd played his message hundreds of times and made copies for their kids. "He was thinking about us in those final moments."

Elizabeth Rivas saw it that way too. When her husband left for the World Trade Center that morning, she went to a laundromat, where she heard the news. She couldn't reach him by cell and rushed home. He'd called at 9:02 and reached her daughter. The child reported, "He say, mommy, he say he love you no matter what happens, he loves you." He never called again. Mrs. Rivas later said, "He tried to call me. He called me."

There was the amazing acceptance. I spoke this week with a medical doctor who told me she'd seen many people die, and many "with grace and acceptance." The people on the planes didn't have time to accept, to reflect, to think through; and yet so many showed the kind of grace you see in a hospice.

Peter Hanson, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175 called his father. "I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building," he said. "Don't worry, Dad--if it happens, it will be very fast." On the same flight, Brian Sweeney called his wife, got the answering machine, and told her they'd been hijacked. "Hopefully I'll talk to you again, but if not, have a good life. I know I'll see you again some day."

There was Tom Burnett's famous call from United Flight 93. "We're all going to die, but three of us are going to do something," he told his wife, Deena. "I love you, honey."

These were people saying, essentially, In spite of my imminent death, my thoughts are on you, and on love. I asked a psychiatrist the other day for his thoughts, and he said the people on the planes and in the towers were "accepting the inevitable" and taking care of "unfinished business." "At death's door people pass on a responsibility--'Tell Billy I never stopped loving him and forgave him long ago.' 'Take care of Mom.' 'Pray for me, Father. Pray for me, I haven't been very good.' " They address what needs doing.

This reminded me of that moment when Todd Beamer of United 93 wound up praying on the phone with a woman he'd never met before, a Verizon Airfone supervisor named Lisa Jefferson. She said later that his tone was calm. It seemed as if they were "old friends," she later wrote. They said the Lord's Prayer together. Then he said "Let's roll."

This is what I get from the last messages. People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more gallant than they'd guess. And this: We're all lucky to be here today and able to say what deserves saying, and if you say it a lot, it won't make it common and so unheard, but known and absorbed. I think the sound of the last messages, of what was said, will live as long in human history, and contain within it as much of human history, as any old metallic roar.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays.

Stories from Sept. 11: Wives, Daughters, Mothers --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5784423




Forwarded by Paula

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing of one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

01. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

02. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

03. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

04. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

05. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

07. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

08. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

09. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

12. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

13. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

14. Glibido: All talk and no action.

15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

18. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

Here's one they didn't think of:

Fartification: Protection using bad odors.

 

 

 




More Tidbits from the Chronicle of Higher Education --- http://www.aldaily.com/

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/.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu  

 




 

I have the honor of chairing the committee that will choose the recipient of the American Accounting Association’s 2007 AAA Innovation Accounting Education Award.

This award is doubly significant because of a $5,000 prize, courtesy of the Ernst & Young Foundation, and improved chances of publication in Issues in Accounting Education.

We encourage you to send in submissions via instructions now available at http://aaahq.org/awards/award6.htm

Tidbits on September 19, 2006
Bob Jensen

Foliage in New Hampshire's White Mountains --- http://www.nhliving.com/foliage/index.shtml
Fall Foliage --- http://gonewengland.about.com/cs/fallfoliage/l/blfoliagecentrl.htm
Foliage Pictures --- http://photo.net/travel/us/ne/foliage

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
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/.


Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

 

Click here to search this Website 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/


Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )




Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Crisis in Darfur --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/flash/0,,1870659,00.html
Clooney warns UN of Darfur genocide --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/sudan/story/0,,1873127,00.html
Darfur death toll may be 400,000 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14840118/site/newsweek/
Clooney's video link is at http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Movies/09/14/wiesel.clooney.ap/index.html

A Energized Drug Cartel That Won't Go Away:  Return of the Taliban Video --- Click Here

The Sonic Memorial Project (to 9/11) --- http://www.sonicmemorial.org/sonic/public/index.html

Slave Narratives --- http://moadsf.org/salon/exhibits/slave_narratives/flash.php

From the University of Wisconsin:  South African Voices --- http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/SouAfrVc/

Stories on Stage --- http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/programs/specials/sos/stories.asp 

Evolution of Man and Woman (humor) --- http://walter.no.sapo.pt/humor/2001-06-28/humor-044.gif

High speed car flies over 200 feet into the second story of a home --- http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_255120049.html
(Hit the play button and wait for the commercial to end.)

 


Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research --- http://www.visarkiv.se/en/index.htm

The Weepies: Beautiful Music Together --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6041220

From Sufjan to Solo, a Star Turn --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6040468

Dan Reeder: Making Music from Scratch --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6044111

Afrobeat at Its Deceptively Simple Essence --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6056730

Starting today (September 14), there's a way to get access to Rhapsody's 2.5 million digital tunes, in any room in your house, straight from the Internet -- without even turning on your computer. This new system is a time/money tradeoff. It saves you time (and what some folks consider a big hassle) in exchange for money: $999 for the basic hardware, plus $10 a month for the music service . . . There are some drawbacks. Because of complex music-industry policies, a small percentage of songs can't be streamed, yet they still show up in Rhapsody's menus, which leads to frustration. And Sonos hasn't been able to implement a search feature yet, which leaves you doing a lot of scrolling through menus.
Walter S. Mossberg, "Rhapsody Uses Sonos For a PC-Free Entry Into a Trove of Music," The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html


Photographs and Art

Foilage Pictures --- http://photo.net/travel/us/ne/foliage

The Metropolitan Museum of Art --- http://www.metmuseum.org/

Smithsonian Photography Initiative --- http://www.photography.si.edu/

Essential Vermeer --- http://essentialvermeer.20m.com/

Laura den Hertog Paintings (some of these are quite good) --- http://www.denhertog.ca/

The New Orleans Kid Camera Project --- http://www.kidcameraproject.org/

Charles Dwyer Pastels --- http://www.onessimofineart.com/artists/Dwyer/Charles_Dwyer.html

Steve Irwin --- http://www.pixsy.com/search.aspx?q=Steve Irwin

 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

A Wonderland Miscellany by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) --- Click Here

The Adventure Of The Bruce-Partington Plans by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) --- Click Here

A Descent Into The Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) --- Click Here

Eleonora by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) --- Click Here

Wisdom Quotes --- http://www.wisdomquotes.com/




Since 2001, the health-care industry has added 1.7 million jobs. The rest of the private sector? None! But the very real problems with the health-care system mask a simple fact: Without it the nation's labor market would be in a deep coma. Since 2001, 1.7 million new jobs have been added in the health-care sector, which includes related industries such as pharmaceuticals and health insurance. Meanwhile, the number of private-sector jobs outside of health care is no higher than it was five years ago.
"What's Really Propping Up The Economy," Business Week Cover Story, September 25, 2006 --- Click Here

In postings on a Web site called VampireFreaks.com, blogs in Gill's name show more than 50 photos depicting the young man in various poses holding a rifle and donning a long black trench coat and combat boots. One photo has a tombstone with his name printed on it - below it the phrase: "Lived fast died young. Left a mangled corpse." The last of six journal entries Wednesday was posted at 10:41 a.m, about two hours before the gunmen was shot to death after the college shooting. He said on the site that he liked to play "Super Columbine Massacre," an Internet-based computer game that simulated the April 20, 1999, shootings at the Colorado high school where two students gunned down 12 classmates and a teacher.
Phil Couvrette, "'Columbine' Game Was Gunman's Favorite," Myway, September 14, 2006 --- http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060914/D8K4LEAG0.html

The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste your time voting.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
Albert Camus --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus

The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.
Elizabeth Drew --- Click Here

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
Flannery O'Connor --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Connor%2C_Flannery

Women do not always have to write about women, or gay men about gay men. Indeed, something good and new might happen if they did not.
Kathryne Hughes

Works well under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.
Readers Digest, October 2003, Page 60 (from actual employee evaluation form, but it could apply to some students.)

His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity.
Readers Digest, October 2003, Page 60 (from actual employee evaluation form, but it could apply to some teachers.)

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
Isaac Asimov --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd search the Web a little faster.
Bob Jensen --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm

My doctor gave me only six minutes to live. I said, “Gosh, Doc, I won’t be able to pay you because I don’t get paid for two weeks.” So he gave me two weeks.
Ed Scribner




Pope Stirs Up Poop
Dilbert Blog, September 19, 2006  --- http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2006/09/pope_stirs_up_p.html

Don't Call Us Violent or We'll Blow You Up
KHALED ABU TOAMEH --- Click Here

"There is such a thing as a medium-security prisoner," Adm. Harris says. "I believe there is no such thing as a medium-security terrorist." You might call Rear Adm. Harry Harris a jailer. As commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, a job he has held for six months, he is in charge of one of the world's best-known detention facilities. But if you call this place a prison, he will correct you. "Prisons are about rehabilitation and punishment," Adm. Harris told me in a phone conversation last week, reiterating a point he had made a few days earlier in a briefing for visiting journalists here. "What we are about is keeping enemy combatants off the battlefield.
"War Inside the Wire," by James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2006; Page A8 --- Click Here
Admiral Harris describes terror incidents inside the compound that make the Guantanamo detainees extremely dangerous to secure except for the 315 out of 770 that have been sent home.

It was to be "The Mother of All Raids" (ghazvat al-gha zavat) that would bring down "The House of the Spider" as promised by the sheik in his mountain hideout. The "raid" would terrify the "infidel" and hasten his demise just as the armies of Islam had destroyed the Persian and Byzantine empires with a series of ghazavat 14 centuries ago. This time, the empire that would crumble under the weight of Islam's attack was the American "Great Satan," which had been running away from its enemies for decades. It had run away from Saigon, Tehran, Beirut, Mogadishu, Kohbar and Aden. Even when attacked in the heart of New York, its real capital city, it had done little more than nurse its chagrin with petulance. History, however, is never written in advance. And this time the "cowardly infidel," far from running away, decided to return and hit back. And hit back hard. A war that was to see several sobriquets, the latest being "the war against Islamofascism," had begun. Within weeks, the sheik's hideout in Afghanistan had been invaded and its rulers sent scurrying in all directions. IT was to be "The Mother of All Raids" (ghazvat al-gha zavat) that would bring down "The House of the Spider" as promised by the sheik in his mountain hideout. The "raid" would terrify the "infidel" and hasten his demise just as the armies of Islam had destroyed the Persian and Byzantine empires with a series of ghazavat 14 centuries ago. This time, the empire that would crumble under the weight of Islam's attack was the American "Great Satan," which had been running away from its enemies for decades. It had run away from Saigon, Tehran,...
Amir Taheri, "Osama's Error," The New York Post, September 11, 2006 --- Click Here

Increasing al-Qaida Threat to France is "high" and "permanent"
Current and former French officials specializing in terrorism said Thursday that an al-Qaida alliance with the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French initials GSPC, was cause for concern. "We take these threats very seriously," Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said, adding in an interview on France-2 television that the threat to France was "high" and "permanent," and that "absolute vigilance" was required. Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, announced the "blessed union" in a video posted this week on the Internet to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
John Leicester and Omar Sinan, "Al-Qaida joins Algerians against France," Yahoo News, September 14, 2006 ---
Click Here

Links to Conspiracy Theories That 9/11 Terror Was Orchestrated by the Bush Administration
Is Osama bin Laden merely a figment of the U.S. Satan's imagination?

The spiritual leader of Norway's Muslims told readers of Aftenposten Monday he doubts Muslims were responsible for the 2001 terror attacks on the United States. Imam Zulqarnain Sakandar Madni answered questions from the newspaper's readers. "There's some good evidence that (U.S. President George) Bush and company were behind this," he said. "See the film that's called 'Loose Change.' An American film!" He also said he doubts that al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden exist.
"Norwegian imam: Muslims not behind 9/11," UPI, September 11, 2006 ---
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060912-121220-8649r

I wonder if Imam Zulqarnain Sakandar Madni and his radical friends did "a lot of research for themselves?"
In response to some of these Korey Rowe, the producer of the "Second Edition of Loose Change", claimed in an interview, “We know there are errors in the documentary, and we’ve actually left them in there so that people discredit us and do the research for themselves.

Loose Change --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loose_Change_(video) 
Jensen Comment
Unlike Michael Moore, Korey Rowe admits to his fabrications and distortions. However, Rowe just won't tell you where they are in his work.

“The hypothesis (that Bush is behind 9/11 terror) that is gaining strength ... is that it was the same U.S. imperial power that planned and carried out this terrible terrorist attack or act against its own people and against citizens of all over the world,” Chavez said. “Why? To justify the aggressions that immediately were unleashed on Afghanistan, on Iraq.” Chavez has said the U.S. launched those wars to ensure its political and economic power.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, "Chavez says U.S. may have orchestrated 9/11, MSNBC, September 12, 2006 --- http://msnbc.msn.com/id/13401534/ 

Bush is Worse Than Bin Laden
Mark Finkelstein in the Boston Globe, September 11, 2006 --- http://newsbusters.org/node/7532

Robert Scheer agrees that Bush is worse than Bin Laden and provides a set of references that expound that it was President Bush rather than Bin Laden who intentionally instigated the 9/11 terror incidents.
"9/11 Conspiracy Theory Links," by Robert Scheer, The Nation, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060925/gaping_holes  

  • Washington Post article on the theorists
     
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's conspiracy roundup
     
  • Wikipedia's 9/11 Conspiracy Wiki
     
  • 911truth.org's top 40 reasons to doubt the official September 11th story
     
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology's response to conspiracy theories
     
  • TVNewsLies' "All the Proof You Need"
     (a relatively compact conspiracy site)
     
  • Loose Change
     (the most popular conspiracy theory movie in circulation)
     
  • 911Research.com
      (a multi-dimensional collection of conspiracy articles)
     
  • Let's Roll 9/11
     (conspiracy blog)
     
  • Defective Yeti's satirical conspiracy theories
     ("very funny" or so says Robert Scheer)
  • No, no, no, that's not a conspiracy theory. That's a fact.
    Al Franken on CNN --- http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0308/25/cf.00.html

    Want to come up with your own conspiracy theory about Bush? Don't let Al Franken, Michael Moore, and MoveOn.org have all the fun! Use this handy George W. Bush Conspiracy Theory Generator to come up with your own conspiracy theory! --- http://www.buttafly.com/bush/index.php

    The Sonic Memorial Project (to 9/11) --- http://www.sonicmemorial.org/sonic/public/index.html


    I don't think the Plan B five years later was in the jihad "master plan" but a dangerous Plan B evolved
    "THE MASTER PLAN For the new theorists of jihad, Al Qaeda is just the beginning," by Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060911fa_fact3

    [Plan A]
    Even as members of Al Qaeda watched in exultation while the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon burned on September 11, 2001, they realized that the pendulum of catastrophe was swinging in their direction. Osama bin Laden later boasted that he was the only one in the group’s upper hierarchy who had anticipated the magnitude of the wound that Al Qaeda inflicted on America, but he also admitted that he was surprised by the towers’ collapse. His goal, for at least five years, had been to goad America into invading Afghanistan, an ambition that had caused him to continually raise the stakes—the simultaneous bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in August, 1998, followed by the attack on an American warship in the harbor of Aden, Yemen, in October, 2000. Neither of those actions had led the United States to send troops to Afghanistan. After the attacks on New York and Washington, however, it was clear that there would be an overwhelming response. Al Qaeda members began sending their families home and preparing for war.

    Two months later, the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had given sanctuary to bin Laden, was routed, and the Al Qaeda fighters in Tora Bora were pummelled. Although bin Laden and his chief lieutenants escaped death or capture, nearly eighty per cent of Al Qaeda’s members in Afghanistan were killed. Worse, Al Qaeda’s cause was repudiated throughout the world, even in Muslim countries, where the indiscriminate murder of civilians and the use of suicide operatives were denounced as being contrary to Islam. The remnants of the organization scattered and were on the run. Al Qaeda was essentially dead.

    From hiding places in Iran, Yemen, Iraq, and the tribal areas of western Pakistan, Al Qaeda’s survivors lamented their failed strategy. Abu al-Walid al-Masri, a senior leader of Al Qaeda’s inner council, later wrote that Al Qaeda’s experience in Afghanistan was “a tragic example of an Islamic movement managed in an alarmingly meaningless way.” He went on, “Everyone knew that their leader was leading them to the abyss and even leading the entire country to utter destruction, but they continued to carry out his orders faithfully and with bitterness.”

    In June, 2002, bin Laden’s son Hamzah posted a message on an Al Qaeda Web site: “Oh, Father! Where is the escape and when will we have a home? Oh, Father! I see spheres of danger everywhere I look. . . . Tell me, Father, something useful about what I see.”

    “Oh, son!” bin Laden replied. “Suffice to say that I am full of grief and sighs. . . . I can only see a very steep path ahead. A decade has gone by in vagrancy and travel, and here we are in our tragedy. Security has gone, but danger remains.”

    In the view of Abu Musab al-Suri, a Syrian who had been a member of Al Qaeda’s inner council, and who is a theorist of jihad, the greatest loss was not the destruction of the terrorist organization but the downfall of the Taliban, which meant that Al Qaeda no longer had a place to train, organize, and recruit. The expulsion from Afghanistan, Suri later wrote, was followed by “three meager years which we spent as fugitives,” dodging the international dragnet by “moving between safe houses and hideouts.” In 2002, he fled to eastern Iran, where bin Laden’s son Saad and Al Qaeda’s security chief, Saif al-Adl, had also taken refuge. There was a five-million-dollar bounty on his head. In this moment of exile and defeat, he began to conceive the future of jihad.

    . . .

    [Plan B]
    In Suri’s view, the underground terrorist movement—that is, Al Qaeda and its sleeper cells—is defunct. This approach was “a failure on all fronts,” because of its inability to achieve military victory or to rally the Muslim people to its cause. He proposes that the next stage of jihad will be characterized by terrorism created by individuals or small autonomous groups (what he terms “leaderless resistance”), which will wear down the enemy and prepare the ground for the far more ambitious aim of waging war on “open fronts”—an outright struggle for territory. He explains, “Without confrontation in the field and seizing control of the land, we cannot establish a state, which is the strategic goal of the resistance.”

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    Bush bashers loudly rant that our defeating al Qaeda's Plan A created the more dangerous randomized-terror Plan B, but Bush bashers fail to give fair evaluation of the scenario that would've evolved if Plan A had succeeded with bin Laden's repeated and unimpeded successes against "The Great (Impotent?) Satan." 

    Bush bashers rant about no nukes in Iraq ad nauseam without ever mentioning where the real nuke threat existed if the U.S. did not  retaliate after 9/11.  In short time after September 11, 2001, a victorious bin Laden could've had control (in partnership with internal Pakistan fundamentalists) over all Pakistan's nukes. Bush bashers like Mark Finkelstein, Robert Scheer, David Korn, David Cameron, Michael Moore, and many Bush-bashing professors never mention bin Laden's nuke-takeover possibility under Plan A! The likely scenario, if the U.S. refrained from military 9/11 retaliation, could've been a relatively sudden nuke-armed bin Laden takeover of the Middle East and Africa. Most certainly Plan A success would've been much, much faster than the long and uncoordinated Plan B. 

    The major obstacles to bin Laden's Plan A, if the U.S. military had stayed home, would've been the nuke-armed Israel and Russia. If the U.S. failed to provide military backup to Israel would Israel have fled the Middle East in terrified surrender or would nuclear winter have cooled the hot sands of the Middle East? Would Russia have allowed the Russia-hating bin Laden to point Pakistan's missiles toward the Motherland? I doubt it!

    Our worry then and now is that turmoil in Pakistan will give fanatics control of the red buttons in slower Plan B lunacy. 

    It's absolutely necessary to resourcefully help Pakistan keep the nukes out of the hands of its own internal Islamic fundamentalists. This is a far more dangerous scenario at the moment than Iran's enrichment program, because there are many Islamic fundamentalists in the present army of Pakistan.

    I think it was a mistake to wasting so much money to bring so much power down on Saddam so soon. He stood in the way of Iran's Persian goal of taking over the Middle East at a time when more effort should've been brought to bear on preventing the spread of nukes, which Pakistan was actually doing at the time by leaking nuclear bomb technology to other Islamic nations like Iran.

    Then again maybe it was just a mistake of naively assuming that the people of Iraq would all pitch, once they were free of Saddam, together to make their nation a proud nation of tribes whose national pride in the Iraq as a whole surpassed secular  heritage (as in the case of the early immigrants of the United States who learned English and proudly pledged an allegiance to their new nation).


    "Osama bin Laden calls Iraq the 'epicenter' of this war"
    And if you think we're winning against the main al Qaeda territory (al-Anbar Province) in Iraq, a top secret marine report says that we've never sent enough troops to do the job and probably never will. Once again its the problem of an underground enemy that hides behind innocent human shields. This entrenched al Qaeda enemy can only be defeated by a force that's willing to take out the shields as well.

    "Iraq’s Anbar province a lost cause?" by Jim Miklaszewski, MSNBC, September 12, 2006 ---  http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14805515

    A new military intelligence report offers up the most pessimistic assessment yet of military prospects for al-Anbar province, the vast no-man's land in western Iraq that has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war — from hard-hit Fallujah to the provincial capital Ramadi, which the U.S. military has never controlled.

    A top secret report by a Marine Corps intelligence officer says there's no chance the U.S. military can end insurgent violence in al-Anbar, and no viable government institutions or chance for political progress anytime soon.

    Even more ominous, military officials say al-Qaida in Iraq has rushed to fill that political vacuum. Military officials tell NBC News al-Qaida's also recruiting increasing numbers of Iraqi Sunnis into the terrorist group.

    The Marine intelligence report says there were never enough American troops in al-Anbar from the beginning. In fact, one senior military official tells NBC News it would take 50,000-60,000 more U.S. ground forces to secure al-Anbar, and that's not going to happen.

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


    Compact for Iraq
    Ministers from around the world will meet today to discuss the International Compact for Iraq, an Iraqi government-led initiative to transform Iraq's economy and achieve financial independence within five years. If the Iraqis map out a credible and promising plan, the international community will support it, investing in Iraq's future. Additional assistance will be expressly conditional on Iraq achieving the benchmarks it has set out . . . In spite of the challenges faced by the Iraqi government, there are good reasons to believe this initiative will succeed. First, it's the economic component of a strategy that also includes the Iraqi government's security and political initiatives, including national reconciliation. Second, though inflation and budget execution are continuing concerns, the Iraqi economy has made consistent progress, with strong foreign-currency reserves, growing revenues, a recently enacted fuel-import liberalization law, and an investment law to be passed this month. Third, the Iraqis have already taken difficult steps, including reducing fuel subsidies, maintaining fiscal discipline and an extensive audit of the Central Bank, as part of their standby arrangement with the IMF. The Compact will add a strong oversight mechanism. All of this should further compel us to remain steadfast in our support of an initiative that deserves the urgent support of the entire international community.

    Robert M. Kimmitt, "Compact for Iraq," The Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115853520087165818.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


    An Energized Drug Cartel That Won't Go Away:  Return of the Taliban Video --- Click Here

    Jacob Sullum, "The Latest Dope:  Drug warriors are playing into the Taliban’s hands,"  Reason Magazine, September 15, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/sullum/091306.shtml

    After years of hard work by drug warriors in Afghanistan, the country no longer produces 87 percent of the world's illicit opium. Now it produces 92 percent, according to the latest suspiciously precise estimate from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    On Tuesday, citing ties between opium trafficking and the Taliban insurgency, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa called upon NATO forces in Afghanistan to get more involved in efforts to stamp out the opium trade. This is exactly the right strategy to pursue if the aim is to alienate the Afghan people, undermine their government, and strengthen the insurgency.

    The Taliban-opium connection goes back at least a decade. After they took control of Afghanistan in 1996, they encouraged opium poppy cultivation and took a cut from the trade, using the money to buy weapons and put up their buddies in Al Qaeda. In 1999, per the UNODC, Afghanistan had a record opium harvest of 4,565 tons.

    The following year, the Taliban suddenly announced that growing poppies was contrary to Islam. The UNODC says the ban, enforced by the threat of summary execution, nearly eliminated cultivation, resulting in a 2001 opium harvest of less than 200 tons.

    But the Taliban's reading of Islamic law conveniently did not require the destruction of opium stockpiles, much of which they controlled. The opium ban therefore looked like an attempt to profit from price increases while getting credit from the West for a firm anti-drug stance.

    In any case, since losing power after the U.S. invasion in 2001, the Taliban seem to have forgotten their religious objections to opium, production of which hit an all-time high of more than 6,000 tons this year, up about 50 percent from 2005. "We are seeing a very strong connection between the increase in the [Taliban] insurgency on the one hand and the increase in cultivation on the other hand," the UNODC's Costa told The New York Times.

    What is the nature of this connection? Poppy farmers welcome the Taliban because the Taliban offer them "protection." Protection from whom? From their own government, which is trying to destroy their livelihood under pressure from the U.S. and the U.K.

    Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries, and the UNODC estimates that opium accounted for more than 50 percent of its GDP in 2005. By his own account, then, Costa is demanding that the Afghan government wipe out half of the country's economy, with conspicuous assistance from U.S. and British forces. Does that sound like a recipe for peace and stability?

    It's no mystery why barely subsisting Afghanis choose to grow opium poppies instead of legal crops, contrary to the wishes of foreign governments. According to the UNODC, a hectare of poppies earned farmers some $5,400 last year, about 10 times what they could get by growing wheat.

    Continued in article

    A bomber attacked Canadian troops who were distributing gifts to children Monday in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said. A NATO spokesman said four of its soldiers were killed, but declined to provide their nationalities. The attack happened in the Kandahar province district of Panjwaii, the scene of a two-week anti-Taliban operation conducted by NATO that ended Sunday. An Afghan official said the bomber targeted Canadian troops handing out candy and other gifts to children. Reports said the explosive device was attached to a bicycle.
    "Canadian troops targeted by bomber," Canada.com, September 18, 2006 --- Click Here

    Afghanistan's Catch-22
    Gen. Eikenberry understands the root of the problem. And it's a big one. In 2005, Afghanistan earned $2.7 billion in opium exports, or 52% of its GDP -- plenty of cash to support an insurgency. That fighting has, in turn, basically halted all of the infrastructure build-out that was meant to provide Afghan farmers and other rural residents alternatives to growing poppy. "In traveling around the country, the top concern of Afghans is unemployment, education and irrigation," Gen. Eikenberry confirms. But to address these issues -- and here's the catch-22 -- violence in rural Afghanistan must first be quelled. If it isn't, the infrastructure that will facilitate trade cannot be built.

    Dana White, "Afghanistan's Catch-22, The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2006; Page A8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115836499497165106.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    Afghanistan is also a lost cause according to John Kerry
    Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, accused the Bush administration of pursuing a "cut and run" strategy in Afghanistan that has emboldened terrorists and made the United States less safe. "The administration's Afghanistan policy defines cut and run," Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery at Howard University on Thursday. "Cut and run while the Taliban-led insurgency is running amok across entire regions of the country. Cut and run while Osama bin Laden and his henchmen hide and plot in a lawless no-man's land."
    "Kerry: Bush Will 'Cut and Run' in Afghanistan," NewsMax, September 14, 2006 --- http://newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/9/14/141147.shtml?s=ic


    "Why we're losing," by Jonathan Kay, National Post via Canada.com, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=2ca9307f-4aaa-4c5e-9029-62aae81b979e

    We can lecture the Muslim world till we're blue in the face about freedom of speech and pluralism. But why should they listen? At the end of the day, war and politics are both about mobilization. A couple of blunt words from the Pope or some cartoons published in an obscure European newspaper are apparently enough to get mobs of angry Islamists into the street. But here in the West, we can't even come up with the few thousand extra troops needed to finish off a war we thought we'd already won. We're fat and lazy. The enemy is mean and hungry.

    Afghanistan is just Exhibit A. In Lebanon, the West could have helped Israel snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by sending the 15,000 peacemakers called for in the original UN ceasefire blueprint -- along with a robust mandate to seek and destroy Hezbollah's weapons caches. But France threatened to scuttle the mission unless Hezbollah guaranteed a combat-free deployment. And so the job has been delegated to the Lebanese army, which can reliably be expected to look the other way while Tehran's proxy rearms itself in preparation for the next war -- preferably one waged under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.

    Like Afghanistan, Iran is a problem the West thought it had already fixed. Two years ago, Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment under a deal signed with the European Union. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ripped that paper up when it became obvious the West didn't have the stomach for a confrontation. NATO can't even scratch a small expeditionary force together to stop a genocide in Darfur. The idea of attacking Iran -- a real country with a real army -- is out-and-out unthinkable.

    But nowhere is the West's trepidation more blatantly on display than in Iraq, where 150,000 U.S. troops have been trying to win a war that, from the very beginning, called for double or triple that number. As many journalists and ex-generals have written, the U.S. war effort in Iraq has resembled a real-life game of whack-a-mole, in which an overstretched military chases jihadis from one town to the next, with the bad guys melting into the landscape and then reconstituting themselves in some distant, ungarrisoned outpost. The shame of the Iraq war isn't that George W. Bush started it; but that, throughout it all, he and Donald Rumsfeld have been too stubborn to admit they'd made war on the cheap.

    This conflict won't be decided by the jihadis or the United States acting alone: In this kind of asymmetric war, no single player can land a knockout blow. Instead, we can expect that the balance of power will ultimately be tipped according to each side's ability to win over powerful fence-sitters such as Russia, Pakistan, Syria and China.

    In this regard, should we be surprised that Moscow and Beijing are refusing to impose sanctions on Iran? That Pervez Musharraf is cutting deals with terrorists on the Afghan border? That Syria is in bed with Hezbollah? These are amoral actors that have little historic or emotional connection to the West and its idealistic projects. They're merely looking to back a winner. And which side looks like a winner right now? The one with a million maniacs in the street ... or the one issuing the frenzied mea culpas?

    Things will tip back in our favour eventually. Someday, the terrorists will go too far -- by attacking Russia or China with WMDs, for instance -- and turn fair-weather friends into enemies. And over time, political Islam itself will collapse under the weight of the economic failure produced in every place (Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, Gaza) it's been imposed. But in the meantime, the ululating fanatics are teaching us a humbling lesson about how soft we've all become. Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Lebanon are broken, bleeding countries that the West could help fix. But we'd rather hand them over to the jihadis than sacrifice blood and treasure. That's why we're losing.


    How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?
    James Madison (Federalist No. 41, 1788) Reference: The Federalist --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Madison

    "A Force for Good," by Donald H. Rumsfeld, The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2006; Page A14 ---
    Click Here

    We remember where we were that day.

    At 9:38 a.m., the entire Pentagon shook. I went outside and saw the horrific face of war in the 21st century. Those present could feel the heat of the flames and smell the burning jet fuel -- all that remained of American Airlines flight 77.

    Destruction surrounded us: smoldering rubble, twisted steel, victims in agony.

    Last week, President Bush greeted the families of September 11 victims in the East Room of the White House and told them about the efforts to bring to justice those who attacked our nation -- and those who supported them. He said, "The families of those murdered that day have waited patiently for justice. . . . They should have to wait no longer." He announced that 14 high-level terrorists, including the man referred to as the mastermind of the attacks, have been transferred to the Department of Defense and incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. There they will be treated humanely -- though their victims were not -- and, if and when the necessary legislation is passed by the Congress, prosecuted for their crimes, in accordance with law.

    President Bush has reminded us that this enemy is still seeking new ways to attack us. He told us about captured terrorists who provided key information about planned attacks on buildings here in the U.S., and about al Qaeda's efforts to obtain biological weapons. Information the interrogators received from these terrorists has led to the capture of other terrorists, who have in turn led us to still more.

    Yet, even with these victories in the war, President Bush reminded us that it is important to understand the nature of this enemy, and what it is seeking to do. The extremist movement that threatens us is not a reactionary force -- it actively looks for opportunities to acquire new and deadlier weapons, to destabilize governments, and to create discord among our allies and within our own country.

    This enemy has made its immediate strategy clear in public announcements and in captured documents: to undermine the Coalition effort in Iraq, drive our forces out, and then use that nation as a base from which to destabilize the surrounding nations. They seek to extend a hoped-for victory in Iraq to a broad part of the Middle East and even parts of Europe and Asia -- to restore an ancient caliphate.

    Iraq is the linchpin in their effort. Osama bin Laden calls Iraq the "epicenter" of this war, and he believes that "America is prepared to wage easy wars but not prepared to fight long and bitter wars." When Gen. Abizaid, commander of Central Command, was asked what effect pulling out of Iraq would have, he said the extremists would become "emboldened, empowered, more aggressive." They will turn whatever part of Iraq they can control into a safe haven for terrorists, just as Afghanistan was before September 11. They likely will attract still more recruits, inspired by their "victory" over the West.

    To stop them in Iraq, our country has sent our finest young people -- all volunteers -- to help the Iraqis defeat the terrorists seeking to control the region. And while our military tactics, techniques and procedures have adapted as the enemy has changed its tactics, the guiding principle of the overall military strategy remains constant -- namely, to empower the Iraqi people to defend, govern and rebuild their own country. Extremists know that war and anarchy are their friends -- peace and order their enemies.

    There are many challenges ahead in this young century: Among others, Iran's nuclear aspirations, North Korea and the proliferation of dangerous weapons, and the need to build on recent progress in missile defense.

    All this while fighting a war in the media on a global stage. As I recently mentioned in remarks to the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, everyone is watching: the enemies, their supporters, their potential supporters, our allies and our potential allies. In this very public battle for hearts and minds, we must be as confident in the rightness of our cause as the enemy is in its evil purpose. We cannot allow the world to forget that America, though imperfect, is a force for good in the world.

    Mr. Rumsfeld is Secretary of Defense.

    U.S. military intelligence has determined that a video released by the Iranian government purporting to show a test of a new submarine missile is bogus, three Pentagon officials confirmed. The Iranians released the video Aug. 27, one of a series of steps the Tehran government has taken in recent months to display its military potency in the midst of a confrontation with the United States and other Western nations over its nuclear ambitions.
    Los Angeles Times, September 10, 2006 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1699191/posts

    An agreement between President Bush and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is resulting in thousands of additional students from Saudi Arabia enrolling at colleges in the United States, all with full scholarships paid by the Saudi government, according to the AP. The generous aid packages — for which some 15,000 students will have been enrolled by January — have led many American universities to recruit the Saudis.
    Inside Higher Ed, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/11/qt
    Jensen Comment
    I did not add the above tidbit to imply that having these students in the U.S. is a bad thing at this point in time when we need Saudi Arabia on our side as much as possible.


    Review of Building Red America by The Washington Post's Thomas B. Edsall
    For that matter, neither party is likely to be happy with the findings of this provocative though in many ways familiar book. Mr. Edsall, who covered national politics for The Washington Post from 1981 to 2006, accuses the Republicans of using their closely contested victories to advance a conservative agenda that “does not have the decisive support of the people,” of further polarizing the electorate and cynically forcing it “to pick between extremes,” and of using “the slimmest of political margins” to try “to remake America — as well as America’s role in the world.” As for Democrats, he depicts them as hapless, unfocused and reeling from self-inflicted wounds. He contends that “the social-issue left overwhelmingly sets the agenda of the Democratic Party,” often to the detriment of its candidates in general elections. He takes the party to task for its “lack of credible policies” in the areas of globalization and education. (He curiously has little to say about its internal schisms over foreign policy and national security.)
    Michiko Kakutani, "The Republican Collapse May Not Be So Imminent," The New York Times, September 12, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/12/books/12kaku.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


    The Nation is a socialist magazine that diligently and incessantly attempts to undermine capitalist economics, the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex, the GOP, and the Bush-Cheney response to 9/11. It's important to study all sides to important issues. Here's the extreme left's take on things on the fifth anniversary on 9/11.
    "A Just Response," by Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060925/just_response

    "On Tuesday morning, a piece was torn out of our world. A patch of blue sky that should not have been there opened up in the New York skyline.... the heavens were raining human beings. Our city was changed forever. Our country was changed forever. Our world was changed forever." So wrote Jonathan Schell in the first issue of The Nation following September 11, 2001.

    At The Nation's office, in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, like everyone else in America we watched television--horrified, saddened, angry. People wept, and at the same time took notes and got on the phones. For we had an issue closing the next day. We quickly learned that our communications links to the outer world were severed--our phone lines had run under World Trade Center 7. So, in those first days, we had no incoming calls and the office computer links to the Internet were down. The facts were sketchy and causes of the attack shrouded in a pall of uncertainty thick as the smog rising from the demolished World Trade Center.

    The issue that we assembled and put to bed the next day struck a tone and purpose that the magazine has striven to maintain in the past five years. Paying respect to the human reactions of anger, hurt and grief, our editorials in that first week, and in the ones that followed, have made the case for an effective and just response to the horrific terrorist acts. We argued that such a response may include discriminate use of military force but that the most promising and effective way to halt terrorism lies in bringing those responsible to justice through nonmilitary actions in cooperation with the global community and within a framework of domestic and international law. As Richard Falk warned in his indispensable "A Just Response," the "justice of the cause" would be "negated by the injustice of improper means and excessive ends."

    As the US military response unfolded in the ensuing days, there seemed to be more questions than answers. Who is Osama bin Laden? What is the involvement of the Taliban? What are we doing in Afghanistan anyway? Did US foreign policy create historic resentments and injustices abroad that spawned the terrible attacks? What is the best way for this country to address the root causes of terrorism? What are the aims of the war on it? What are its limits? What is the potential political and human fallout? Who are our allies? What role should the United Nations play? How to limit civilian casualties and provide humanitarian relief? As autumn in New York merged into Ramadan and Afghanistan's winter, these questions only deepened. It is striking how the essential themes laid out in The Nation in those initial weeks, far from being outrun by events, have gained in resonance.

    One of my roles as editor has been to figure out the bridge from personal to political. How do you balance individual grief and anger at the attacks with proportionality, justice and wisdom in response? How do we reconcile legitimate fear of future attacks with protection of civil liberties, and carry on a political debate that doesn't ignore concerns of economic and social justice?

    To deal with those complex issues, I was fortunate in being able to call on some of the most respected figures on the progressive left. They responded with a series of thoughtful, informed and provocative essays that have appeared in our pages. Among them: the late scholar-philosopher-activist Edward Said demolishing the clash of civilizations argument; Mary Kaldor on the new wars and civil society's role in halting terrorism; Michael T. Klare on Saudi-US relations and the geopolitics of oil; Ellen Willis on homefront conformity; Chalmers Johnson on blowback and the role of US foreign policy; William Greider on war profiteering; Bill Moyers on Americans' restored faith in government; John le Carr on why this war can't be won. Our regular columnists weighed in with their independent takes. And peace and disarmament editor Jonathan Schell filed a weekly "Letter From Ground Zero"--lucid, illuminating, frightening, humane essays that advanced the case for sensible and moral nonmilitary actions.

    The Nation has a long tradition of providing a forum for a broad spectrum of left/progressive views, which sometimes erupted in spirited debates in those weeks after 9/11. Christopher Hitchens's column, "Against Rationalization," which castigated those on the left who drew a causal relationship between US foreign policy in the Middle East and the terrorist acts, provoked a heated exchange with Noam Chomsky. This exchange ran on our website and drew a raft of comments, with readers almost equally divided. Richard Falk's article "Defining a Just War" also provoked numerous letters pro and con.

    As a fog of national security enveloped official Washington and the war front and the mainstream media enlisted in the Administration's war--flag logos flying--the need for an independent, critical press seemed never more urgent. The speedy passage of the repressive PATRIOT Act, with scarcely a murmur of dissent in Congress, the secret detentions of more than 1,000 people and the establishment of military tribunals were troubling signs that a wartime crackdown on civil liberties was under way and called for vigorous opposition. Criticizing government policy in wartime is not a path to popularity. Our independent stand on the war and criticism of what we called "policy profiteering" by conservative Republicans in Congress (who sought to use the war as a pretext to push through their own agenda) drew virulent attacks by the pundits and publications of the right, who questioned our patriotism and trotted out the old chestnut of the left's "anti-Americanism."

    Such attacks are nothing new. The Nation has always marched to a different drummer, opposing US involvement in the Spanish-American War and World War I and the Vietnam War, while giving all-out support to the US effort in World War II. Former Nation editor Ernest Gruening of Alaska was one of only two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that led to the Vietnam morass. As Eric Foner wrote in the days after the attacks, "At times of crisis the most patriotic act of all is the unyielding defense of civil liberties, the right to dissent." Also in times of crisis, the enduring concerns of this magazine and progressives take on new relevance: the dangers of American unilateralism, corrosion of civil liberties, authoritarianism in any nation, dependence on Big Oil, military quagmire and the urgent necessity of international law and institutions.

    The commentary this magazine has published in the five years since the 9/11 attacks was designed to inform honest debate in this country on key questions that confront us and to enable us to ask hard questions of policy-makers and the media. It is my hope that the ideas expressed here will guide and enrich the policies that will--and must--come.

    Jensen Comment
    I recommend one of the more thoughtful pieces mentioned above, the one the the "new kind of war" entitled "Wanted: Global Politics," by Mary Kaldor, The Nation, October 18, 2001 --- http://www.thenation.com/doc/20011105/kaldor

    Four weeks on and it feels as though we are living in a black hole. The "new war on terrorism" has invaded our lives and sucked in all our usual activities. Even before the start of military action, television, newspapers, e-mail and everyday conversation had all been overwhelmed not just by grief and mourning but by the new global coalition, troop deployments, intelligence efforts, the Afghan crisis and on and on. Normal debates about issues like education and health, climate change and biodiversity, corporate responsibility and debt reduction, not to mention the Balkans or Central America, have been suspended--unless, that is, these issues can somehow be related to September 11. The crime against humanity that took place on September 11 was so horrific and so shocking that this reaction is perhaps understandable (although the world did not shut down after the genocide in Rwanda or the fall of Srebrenica). Nevertheless, it is the wrong reaction. Normal debate is exactly what is needed. If we are to confront what Michael Ignatieff has described as "apocalyptic nihilism" in a serious, sustained way, then we need politics, especially global politics. Not as a substitute for catching the perpetrators and bringing them to justice, but as a central part of the strategy for eliminating their activities.

    In the past decade, since the end of the cold war, we have witnessed the emergence of something that could be called global politics. The cold war can be regarded as the last great global clash between states; it marked the end of an era when the ultimate threat of war between states determined international relations and when the idea of war disciplined and polarized domestic politics. Indeed, this may explain why we became conscious of the phenomenon known as globalization only after the end of the cold war. Nowadays, as September 11 demonstrated only too graphically, we live in an interdependent world, where we cannot maintain security merely through the protection of borders; where states no longer control what happens within their borders; and where old-fashioned war between states has become anachronistic. Today states are still important, but they function in a world shaped less by military power than by complex political processes involving international institutions, multinational corporations, citizens' groups and, indeed, fundamentalists and terrorists--in short, global politics.

    The end of old-fashioned war between states does not mean the end of violence. Instead, we are witnessing the rise of new types of violence, justified in the name of fundamentalism of one variety or another and perpetrated against civilians. President Bush is perhaps right to call what happened a "new kind of war." But this is not the first "new war," although it is more spectacular and more global than ever before and, for the first time, involves large-scale loss of American lives. Wars of this type have taken place in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia, especially in the past decade. And there are lessons to be learned that are relevant to the new "new war."

    These new wars have to be understood in the context of globalization. They involve transnational networks, based on political claims in the name of religion or ethnicity, through which ideas, money, arms and mercenaries are organized. These networks flourish in those areas of the world where states have imploded as a consequence of the impact of globalization on formerly closed, authoritarian systems, and they involve private groups and warlords as well as remnants of the state apparatus. In the new wars, the goal is not military victory; it is political mobilization. Whereas in old-fashioned wars, people were mobilized to participate in the war effort, in the new wars, mobilizing people is the aim of the war effort, to expand the networks of extremism. In the new wars, battles are rare and violence is directed against civilians. The strategy is to gain political power through sowing fear and hatred, to create a climate of terror, to eliminate moderate voices and to defeat tolerance. And the goal is to obtain economic power as well. These networks flourish in states where systems of taxation have collapsed, where little new wealth is being created. They raise money through looting and plunder, through illegal trading in drugs, illegal immigrants, cigarettes and alcohol, through "taxing" humanitarian assistance, through support from sympathetic states and through remittances from members of the networks.

    These wars are very difficult to contain and very difficult to end. They spread through refugees and displaced persons, through criminal networks, through the extremist viruses they germinate. We can observe growing clusters of warfare in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus. They represent a defeat for democratic politics, and each bout of warfare strengthens those with a vested political and economic interest in continued violence. The areas where conflicts have lasted longest have generated cultures of violence, as in the jihad culture taught in religious schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan or among the Tamils of Sri Lanka, where young children are taught to be martyrs and where killing is understood as an offering to God. In the instructions found in the car of the hijackers in Boston's Logan Airport, it is written: "If God grants any one of you a slaughter, you should perform it as an offering on behalf of your father and mother, for they are owed by you.... If you slaughter, you should plunder those you slaughter, for that is a sanctioned custom of the Prophet's."

    What we have learned about this kind of war is that the only possible exit route is political. There has to be a strategy of winning hearts and minds to counter the strategy of fear and hate. There has to be an alternative politics based on tolerance and inclusiveness, which is capable of defeating the politics of intolerance and exclusion and capable of preserving the space for democratic politics. In the case of the current new war, what is needed is an appeal for global--not American--justice and legitimacy, aimed at establishing the rule of law in place of war and at fostering understanding between communities in place of terror. There needs to be a much stronger role for the United Nations and serious consideration paid to ways in which legitimate political authority can be re-established in Afghanistan. Thinking through how this should be done needs to be the responsibility of the new United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, in consultation with neighboring states and a range of relevant political and civic actors. There also needs to be a clear demonstration of evenhandedness in places like the Middle East, and real support for democratic and moderate political groupings--in other words, an alternative network involving international institutions as well as civil society groups committed to similar goals. What this entails in concrete terms has to be discussed and debated. In this crisis, there has been much handwringing about the need for better human intelligence. An excellent source of human intelligence and guide to evenhanded policy-making are pro-democracy, human rights and liberal Islamic groups in the Middle East and among exile communities.

    Political action has to be combined with serious attention to overcoming social injustice. Of particular importance is the creation of legitimate methods of making a living. In many of the areas where war takes place and where extreme networks pick up new recruits, becoming a criminal or joining a paramilitary group is literally the only available opportunity for unemployed young men lacking formal education. Where some progress has been made, as in Northern Ireland and the Balkans (and it is always slow and tortuous, since these wars are so much harder to end than to begin), what has made a difference has been the provision of security, including the capture of criminals, support for civil society and for democrats, and efforts at economic reconstruction.

    Such a political strategy is not an alternative to military action. Indeed, military action may be needed in support of alternative politics. But in these wars there is no such thing as military victory; the task of military action is to create conditions for an alternative politics. Thus military action is needed to catch war criminals and protect civilians--to establish areas where individuals and families feel safe and do not depend on extremist networks for protection and livelihood. Devices like safe havens or humanitarian corridors, effectively defended, help protect and support civilians and establish an international presence on the ground.


    After first accusing Israel of war crimes, Amnesty International castigates Hizbullah
    Hizbullah militants broke international humanitarian law during the recent conflict with Israel, an Amnesty International report concluded today. The report said Hizbullah had violated law by firing thousands of rockets into Israel and killing dozens of civilians during the fighting. The human rights group called for a UN investigation into violations committed by both sides during the 34-day conflict, but the report published today focused on the actions of the Lebanese militant organisation.
    "Amnesty report accuses Hizbullah of war crimes," Guardian, September 14, 2006 ---
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/syria/story/0,,1872108,00.html


    Hizbullah's Version of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts:  Training to Become Suicide Bombers
    Hezbollah leads a youth movement that instructs tens of thousands of children and teenagers in military tactics and indoctrinates them with radical Shia Islam beliefs – including the waging of a final, apocalyptic world battle against "evil," according to materials found by Israel during last month's war in Lebanon.
    "Hezbollah youth scouts' train in terrorism:  Thousands of children, teens prepare for apocalyptic battle against 'evil'," WorldNet Daily, September 14, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51968


    Germany Gives Up Terrorist Murderer in Ransom Deal
    Hizballah terrorist Mohammed Ali Hamadi, convicted in Germany of murdering US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem aboard a hijacked airplane but freed last December in a probable ransom exchange for German hostage Susanne Osthoff (Germany denies this, of course), has rejoined Hizballah.
    "Hizballah Recidivism," Little Green Footballs, September 13, 2006 --- Click Here


    Russian Mayor's Proposed Strategy for Deterring Terrorism
    A Russian mayor has called for prostitution to be made legal in a bid to wipe out a rising tide of extremism. Igor Shpektor, mayor of Vorkuta, said it would give men another way to spend their time rather than getting involved in racist attacks, Ananova reports.
    Mosnews, Defence Talk, September 14, 2006 --- Click Here


    "Cartoons mocking Holocaust prove a flop with Iranians," The Independent, September 14, 2006 --- http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1578720.ece


    “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 [of the Geneva conventions] would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk,” Mr Powell wrote in a letter to Mr McCain released yesterday.
    Demetri Sevastopulo, Caroline Daniel and Holly Yeager, "McCain stands his ground on CIA jails," Financial Times, September 14, 2006 --- Click Here

    The argument (by Senator McCain and Retired General Colin Powell)  that unless we interpret the Geneva Convention as providing maximal protections to terrorists, our enemies will mistreat U.S. soldiers in their captivity. Assume for the sake of argument that this is true. If the restrictions on interrogations that Powell and McCain advocate result in another 9/11, then they will have sacrificed the lives of women and children in order to protect soldiers. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?
    Carol Muller, Opinion Journal, September 16, 2006


    Question
    If there are massive terrorist explosions in the United States, who should we probably blame first?

    Answer
    The U.S. Farm Lobby

    The Farm Lobby has successfully blocked all proposed legislation to identify buyers of ammonium nitrate. Recently CBS investigators purchased enough ammonium nitrate to blow up the White House in a simple truck bomb. It was easily purchased in fertilizer stores that did not even ask for buyer identification and had no record whatsoever of (CBS) strangers who purchased a truckload of this explosive. CBS then rented a storage place within a mile of the White House without having to identify the explosive material moved into the storage place. And the reason all of this is possible is that the U.S. Farm Lobby has vigorously resisted even requiring buyer identification of ammonium nitrate.

    Of course identification alone will not stop the threat since six terrorists with photo IDs could separately buy enough ammonium nitrate to level Times Square thanks to the Farm Lobby.

    The al Qaeda website, according to CBS, shows in great detail how to make an ammonium nitrate bomb big enough to blow up the White House or punch a hole in a New Orleans levee or blow up the New York Stock Exchange.

    I'm almost certain I was watching CBS when this story aired on television. But I've not been able to find the item at the CBS Website.


    Brigham Young University has placed a physics professor on paid leave, taking away the two courses he had just started teaching, because of his statements that explosives, not planes, led to the collapse of the World Trade Center’s two towers.
    "Frays on Academic Freedom," Inside Higher Ed, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/11/disputes

    Scholars who endorse dissenting views about 9/11 have been creating numerous controversies in recent weeks. Both the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of New Hampshire have resisted calls that they remove from their classrooms scholars who believe that the United States set off the events of 9/11. In both of those cases, numerous politicians said that the instructors involved were not fit to teach, but the universities said that removing them for their views would violate principles of academic freedom.

    At Brigham Young, however, the university has placed Steven E. Jones on paid leave, and assigned other professors to teach the two physics courses he started this semester. A statement from the university said, in its entirety: “Physics professor Steven Jones has made numerous statements about the collapse of the World Trade Center. BYU has repeatedly said that it does not endorse assertions made by individual faculty. We are, however, concerned about the increasingly speculative and accusatory nature of these statements by Dr. Jones. Furthermore, BYU remains concerned that Dr. Jones’ work on this topic has not been published in appropriate scientific venues. Owing to these issues, as well as others, the university has placed Dr. Jones on leave while we continue to review these matters.”

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on controversies over limits of academic freedom --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#AcademicFreedom




    Peer Review in Which Reviewer Comments are Shared With the World

    I think this policy motivates journal article referees to be more responsible and accountable!

    Questions
    Is this the beginning of the end for the traditional refereeing process of academic journals?
    Could this be the death knell of the huge SSRN commercial business that blocks sharing of academic working papers unless readers and libraries pay?

    "Nature editors start online peer review," PhysOrg, September 14, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news77452540.html

    Editors of the prestigious scientific journal Nature have reportedly embarked on an experiment of their own: adding an online peer review process.

    Articles currently submitted for publication in the journal are subjected to review by several experts in a specific field, The Wall Street Journal reported. But now editors at the 136-year-old Nature have proposed a new system for authors who agree to participate: posting the paper online and inviting scientists in the field to submit comments approving or criticizing it.

    Although lay readers can also view the submitted articles, the site says postings are only for scientists in the discipline, who must list their names and institutional e-mail addresses.

    The journal -- published by the Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd., of London -- said it will discard any comments found to be irrelevant, intemperate or otherwise inappropriate.

    Nature's editors said they will take both sets of comments -- the traditional peer-review opinions and the online remarks -- into consideration when deciding whether to publish a study, The Journal reported.

     

    A New Model for Peer Review in Which Reviewer Comments are Shared With the World
    Peer Reviewers Comments are Open for All to See in New Biology Journal

    From the University of Illinois Issues in Scholarly Communication Blog, February 15, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/

    BioMed Central has launched Biology Direct, a new online open access journal with a novel system of peer review. The journal will operate completely open peer review, with named peer reviewers' reports published alongside each article. The author's rebuttals to the reviewers comments are also published. The journal also takes the innovative step of requiring that the author approach Biology Direct Editorial Board members directly to obtain their agreement to review the manuscript or to nominate alternative reviewers. [Largely taken from a BioMed Central press report.]

    Biology Direct launches with publications in the fields of Systems Biology, Computational Biology, and Evolutionary Biology, with an Immunology section to follow soon. The journal considers original research articles, hypotheses, and reviews and will eventually cover the full spectrum of biology.

    Biology Direct is led by Editors-in-Chief David J Lipman, Director of the National Center Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at NIH, USA; Eugene V Koonin, Senior Investigator at NCBI; and Laura Landweber, Associate Professor at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.

    For more information about the journal or about how to submit a manuscript to the journal, visit the Biology Direct website --- http://www.biology-direct.com/

    Bob Jensen's threads on peer review controversies are at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#PeerReview

    Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

    September 15, 2006 reply from Alexander Robin A [alexande.robi@UWLAX.EDU]

    Even if reviewers are assigned as they are now, having their comments and the paper on line might be beneficial in reducing "poor quality" on inappropriate reviews. As probably most of you have, I had one run in with a poor review. I had a paper on a study I did using Monte Carlo simulation. The editor of the journal sent the paper to someone who didn't accept simulation as a legitimate research methodology. No surprise that he voted to reject.

    Robin Alexander


    Is it ethical to charge students for recordings of your lectures?
    North Carolina State University is reviewing a communication professor’s policy of making digital recordings of his lectures — and making them available online to his students for a fee, NBC 17 reported. The professor, Robert Schrag, told the network that he set up the system to help students whose schedules make it impossible to attend class and that he’s only tryin