Tidbits on April 20, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
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Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

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Campaign for Trinity University --- http://www.trinity.edu/departments/public_relations/case_statement/index.htm 

I've been out of town for two days in order to teach a workshop in Washington.  Hence the Tidbits in this article are not quite as current as I would like.


Music:  Crazy (about Patsy):  Turn speakers up! --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/crazy.htm


Crazy:  Accounting rules are blamed for failure to stockpile children's vaccines
Although opinions differ, it appears that the Pediatric Vaccine Stockpile has become an innocent bystander wounded in the government's crackdown on deceptive accounting practices. Vaccine supply dwindles No one has accused the vaccine manufacturers of wrongdoing. However, they can no longer treat as revenue the money they get when they sell millions of doses of vaccine to the stockpile because the shots are not delivered until the government calls for them in emergencies. Instead, the vials are held in the manufacturers' warehouses, where they are considered unsold in the eyes of auditors, investors and Wall Street . . .The ranking Democrat on the Committee on Government Reform, Waxman said he is willing to sponsor legislation to carve out a legal exception that would allow companies to "recognize" revenue from sales to the vaccine stockpile — if such a radical step becomes necessary. One of the companies, however, said its problem is not with "revenue recognition" but with the details of managing the vaccine inventory. Other parties were reluctant to discuss possible solutions or who, if anyone, is to blame for the empty shelves. The SEC, which enforces accounting practices, would not speak on the record. HHS officials would not make available the person talking to the SEC on the matter. The department referred questions to its subordinate agency, the CDC, whose officials said important decisions about the stockpile are being made at the department level.
"Pediatric vaccine stockpile at risk Many drug makers hesitant to supply government," Washington Post via MSNBC, April 16, 2005 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7529480/
Bob Jensen's threads on revenue accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm


Battle for Canada's underground resources
While Congress debates whether to allow oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a similar battle with much higher stakes is under way in northwest Canada. The $6 billion Mackenzie Pipeline project would open the Canadian Arctic for natural gas drilling and send the gas 800 miles south down the Mackenzie River Valley to Alberta. There, much of this fuel would be used to throttle up production in a huge but hard-to-tap supply of petroleum dispersed in underground gravel formations. These so-called oil sands hold petroleum reserves that are second in size only to Saudi Arabia's, and analysts say they could supply a large portion of U.S. energy needs for decades to come. But the project has sparked opposition from some native tribal groups, which call it a federal grab of their ancestral lands, and from environmentalists, who say it would churn out greenhouse gases linked to global warming. It is a fight that is likely to forever set the course for Canada's vast and empty north. The project is full of continental superlatives -- North America's richest oil patch, its biggest construction project since the Alaska pipeline in the 1970s, its largest strip-mining operation. "By far the most important thing for North America are those oil sands in Canada," said Robert Esser, director of oil and gas resources at Cambridge Energy Research Associates in New York. "It's nice we're going to have access to (the Alaska refuge), but there are a lot of unknown questions there. We have no idea whether there is oil or gas or how much. In the oil sands, we know the reserves are huge, much larger than in Alaska." The Canadian government, which calls the project an economic necessity, is not required to seek approval.
Robert Collier, "Battle for Canada's underground resources Some tribes oppose pipeline to tap land rich in oil reserves," San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 2005 ---
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/03/24/BUG8MBTQPS1.DTL&type=printable


America's Allies in the Rebuilding of Iraq
PRIME MINISTER John Howard has farewelled Australia's Iraq-bound troops, wishing them the prayers and support of all Australians. Members of the Al Muthanna Task Group (AMTG) have already begun departing for southern Iraq, with the navy's heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk setting sail from Darwin with 200 crew and 20 Australian light armoured vehicles (ASLAVs) amid little fanfare today. The troops, mainly from Darwin's 1st Brigade, will be deployed by sea and air progressively over the next month. Mr Howard, joined by Defence Minister Robert Hill, and defence chief General Peter Cosgrove, attended a relaxed barbecue to formally farewell the bulk of the troops at Darwin's Robertson Barracks late this afternoon. He also announced the new head of the defence force Air Marshal Angus Houston, who will replace General Cosgrove in July. Mr Howard told the soldiers and their families they were greatly admired by the Australian people, who wished them a safe mission as they replaced 1,400 Dutch soldiers in providing security for Japanese military engineers.
"Tobruk spearheads Iraq mission," Herald Sun, April 17, 2005 --- http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,15000055^1702,00.html


Insurance protection going down the drain
Both men had coverage from a company called Reciprocal of America. Their lives, and those of thousands of other doctors and lawyers in the South and the Midwest, have been in flux since Reciprocal cratered about two years ago amid a tangled web of business transactions that regulators describe as fraudulent. Tremors from the Reciprocal investigation would soon reverberate in the boardrooms of much bigger insurers. But as the inquiries into esoteric insurance practices spread, making their way around Wall Street, the fallout from some of the industry's abuses was already becoming apparent on Main Street. People who relied on Reciprocal, and held malpractice policies that evaporated without warning, say they feel betrayed by convoluted financial dealings that they barely understand. "All of a sudden your lawyer calls you and tells you: 'Guess what? Your insurer just went under,' " said Dr. Schroeder, 41, a father of two. "You panic, because you have no idea what's going to happen." Reciprocal, which was based in Richmond, Va., once claimed to do what all insurers do: soften the impact of uncertainty, pain and financial damages that accompany life's misfortunes. Today, its demise has emerged as a signature case in a series of investigations of insurance abuses. Regulators contend that Reciprocal, aided by outside business partners - including General Re - used financial gimmicks to mask serious problems and benefit insiders for more than a decade, until the company foundered.
"The Insurance Scandal Shakes Main Street," The New York Times, April 17, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/17/business/yourmoney/17vict.html?


Pulling the plug on science?
For decades, American scientists have unlocked nature's secrets, generated an enormous number of patents, and earned a string of Nobel Prizes. These days, however, pride of accomplishment is mingling with angst as Washington contemplates research cuts on everything from space weather to high-energy physics. The concern? The United States unwittingly may be positioning itself for a long, steady decline in basic research - a key engine for economic growth - at a time when competitors from Europe and Asia are hot on America's heels

Peter N. Spotts, "Pulling the plug on science? From Voyager spacecraft to atom smashers, America's long-term research faces an era of budget cuts," Christian Science Monitor, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0414/p14s01-stss.html 


Not pulling the plug on DHEA:  Should you be taking these things?
Sports officials had favored an overall ban on steroids and related pills, like DHEA, which is banned by the Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the National Collegiate Athletics Association, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and baseball minor leagues. Major League Baseball is the exception on banning DHEA, and at last month's congressional hearings, the top medical adviser to the league turned the tables on lawmakers, accusing them of failing to write zero-tolerance toward steroids into federal law. Baseball officials complain that the legal loophole has made it harder for them to ban DHEA in their own drug policy, which is already under fire. "It is difficult, from a collective bargaining perspective, to explain to people why they should ban a substance that the federal government says you can buy at a nutrition center," said Rob Manfred, executive vice president for labor relations at Major League Baseball.
Anne E. Kornblut and Duff Wilson, "How One Pill Escaped a Place on List of Controlled Steroids," The New York Times, April 17, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/NYTdhea
Jensen Comment:  I recall that years ago DHEA was a cover story in Time Magazine.  I started taking DHEA because of the good things written about it in Time.  Never once was the S-word or "dangerous substance" ever mentioned.  I think I will drop DHEA from my pill regimen.


Market declines for arrogant liberal newspapers
Thus, editors convening here this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors did what editors often do when they gather in a group. They tortured themselves with self-recrimination. What are we doing wrong? Why are circulations dropping? Why do they hate us? Our beloved newspaper industry is in trouble, you may have heard. Between declining public trust in old "dead tree" media, dips in circulation and advertising revenues, competition from new digital media, not to mention relentless pressure from those fact-checking whippersnappers hurling deadeye darts from the blogosphere, newspapers are in a bit of a slump . . . In life, it is good to know oneself, but in business, it is crucial to know one's customers. As most ordinary Americans know, there are lots of ways to be smart and lots of ways to be dumb and not all are quantifiable. Common sense, street smarts and country wisdom aren't measured by standardized tests, diplomas or resumes. If newspapers die, it won't be because journalists were smarter than their readers.
Kathleen Parker, "Media elite debate whether the media are elite," Jewish World Review, April 15, 2005 --- http://www.jewishworldreview.com/kathleen/parker041505.php3


Tripled Earnings:  Southwest Airlines just seems to get it better than the competition
Southwest Airlines' shrewd use of fuel hedges allowed it to fend off skyrocketing oil costs and nearly triple its profit to $76 million in the first quarter, preserving its place as a rare bright spot in a troubled industry. Southwest is the first U.S. airline to report its financial results for the quarter, and analysts expect it to be mostly downhill from here, with JetBlue Airways the only other airline believed to have had a profitable first quarter.  "There's a very, very difficult competitive environment out there," Gary Kelly, Southwest's chief executive, told analysts in a conference call. But he added, "We're as prepared as I think we can be, and we're certainly better prepared than anybody else."
Susan Warren, "Southwest Airlines Reports Profit Almost Tripled," The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2005; Page A2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111264820822497503,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Bob Jensen's tutorials on how to account for fuel and other hedges are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm


Discriminating between large and small employers:  Maryland may be pulling the plug on new Wal-Marts and other large businesses
The legislation requires a company with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of its payroll on worker health care. Otherwise, the company must pay the difference into a state fund to expand health coverage. Wal-Mart is the only firm that would be affected. State governments typically have been quicker than the federal government to adopt new ideas. With conservative leadership in Washington, liberal groups have found success in recent years on issues such as gay rights in Vermont and medical marijuana in California. The SEIU found a fertile climate in Maryland for its push for employee health care benefits because of previous work by the state's progressive groups and legislators. Last year, the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, a group seeking to help those without health insurance, proposed a tax on employers that don't provide health benefits. That idea didn't get far in the legislative process. But an effort to expand health coverage to uninsured Marylanders by taxing health maintenance organizations made more headway, narrowly failing in the state Senate. "With the failure of that bill on the floor of the Senate last year and the failure to override the governor's veto on the living wage bill, there was a sense in the Senate that they needed to deliver on high-profile working family bills this year," said Tom Hucker, executive director of Progressive Maryland, which worked on the Wal-Mart bill. The timing wasn't ideal. Months before the start of this year's legislative session, Wal-Mart announced it would build a new distribution center with 1,000 jobs in Somerset County - a project the company is rethinking in light of the legislation.
Andrew A. Green and David Nitkin, "Union uses state in Wal-Mart fight:  Health care bill marks group's first victory against retailer," Baltimore Sun, April 15, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/MarylandWalmart


Soak the rich tax socks it to the liberals
Especially, er, rich, is the fact that the AMT is biting hardest in the most liberal, high-tax states. That's because the AMT doesn't allow deductions for state and local taxes the way the regular code does. So middle-class taxpayers in New York, California and other states with high income-tax rates are getting hit sooner than people in, say, Florida or Wyoming. It is the ultimate blue-state tax.
"Class-War Revelation," The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111353268743207864,00.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

This helps to explain why people who normally thrill to higher tax rates are suddenly up in arms. Liberal newspapers are now denouncing the AMT as a "tax increase" and blaming the White House for not doing more to stop it. "The AMT needs to be fixed," moans Senator Barbara Boxer's spokesman, in what has to be a tax-reform first. "We need to address the AMT, which is trickling down to catch more and more middle-class families in New York," says Empire State Senator Chuck Schumer, another Saul on the road to Tarrytown.


Prying eyes are everywhere
But with an $80 piece of software intended to track what his son was doing on the Internet, the 36-year-old Phoenix real estate investor uncovered some information about what his wife — now his ex-wife — was doing online as well. Gortarez isn't the only one. Husbands and wives, moms and dads, even neighbors and friends increasingly are succumbing to the temptation to snoop, thanks to a growing array of inexpensive, easily accessible high-tech sleuthing tools once available only to professional investigators. Move over, Big Brother. Little Brother is squeezing in. From software that secretly monitors computer activity to tiny hidden surveillance cameras and global positioning system devices, spy tools that can track a person's location now can be purchased in retail stores and on the Internet . . . You can bug people the way spy agencies used to do 20 years ago — really cheap now," says Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. "The Orwellian vision was about state-sponsored surveillance. Now it's not just the state, it's your nosy neighbor, your ex-spouse and people who want to spam you."
Janet Kornblum, "Prying eyes are everywhere," USA Today, April 13, 2005 ---
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-04-13-spyware_x.htm


Beware of toxic blogs
Toxic blogs are been used to distribute malware and keyloggers, censorware firm Websense warns. Websense Security Labs said it has discovered "hundreds of instances" of blogs involved in the storage and delivery of harmful code this year. Anti-virus firms question why Websense has singled out blogs as a particular security risk but Websense does come up with at least one concrete example of the trick having been used in anger. According to Websense, blogs can be attractive vehicles for hackers for several reasons — blogs offer large amounts of free storage, they rarely require any identity authentication to post information, and most blog hosting facilities do not provide antivirus protection for posted files. In some cases, the culprits create a blog on a legitimate host site, post viral code or keylogging software to the page, and attract traffic to the toxic blog by sending a link through spam email or instant messaging (IM) to potential victims. Alternatively the blog can be used as a storage location from which PCs infected with Trojans "phone home" to get updated attack code.
John Leyden, "Beware of toxic blogs," The Register, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/04/14/toxic_blogs/


I Don't DO Math. Guest commentary by Jay C. Odaffer, The Irascible Professor, April 14, 2005 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-04-14-05.htm

A few days ago, one of my Environmental Science students came to see me about her grade. I was multi-tasking in the office, as usual during my office hours before and after an exam. Several students were clamoring with questions and personal emergencies. I told her the maximum number of points possible so far and then told her the points that she had earned on each of the half dozen assignments. I reminded her that a score of ninety percent was an A, eighty percent was a B and so forth. I had her sit at an empty desk and turned to help the next person in line.

When everyone else was done, she was still there, waiting politely.

"Um. I didn't bring my calculator. Could you add these for me?"

I knew what was coming, but I couldn't help myself. I handed her a pencil.

"What's this for?"

"To add with."

She then launched into a sublimely self-confident explanation about why she does not DO math. She wasn't ashamed or apologetic. In fact her tone suggested that she believed that I was the one who was being unreasonable. She informed me that she is getting A's in all of her major course work so my expectations are clearly above and beyond what I should be requiring of "non-science" majors. The thrust of her argument seemed to be that calculators and spreadsheets make arithmetic unnecessary and that she will have no use for anything more advanced in her chosen career.

She is going to be a teacher.


New interdisciplinary doctoral programs will do math
“We want to change the professionalization of graduate students,” said Vera Kutzinski, director of Vanderbilt’s Center for the Americas, which will sponsor the new workshop, and the Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of English. At Claremont, all Ph.D. students must now take a “T course” (for “transdisciplinary") sometime in the first two years of their program. The courses are team taught around a theme — currently “poverty, capital and ethics.” Each course must include students from a range of disciplines, and they are required to undertake different types of research for their requirements. One of the debut courses is “Citizenship, Development, and Justice: A Global Perspective,” and it features professors of philosophy, politics and education. Patricia Easton, the philosophy professor and also the dean of arts and humanities, said that religion students were taken aback by getting assignments that were heavily quantitative, but that’s part of the idea. “All of us have been asked to look outside our discipline and our discipline’s tools,” Easton said. “It’s been uncomfortable at times.”
Scott Jaschik, "Ph.D. Education — Beyond Disciplines," Inside Higher Ed, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/04/14/grad

Students do do religion
Researchers released
data Wednesday that offers the most complete portrait to date of new college students’ attitudes about spirituality and religion, and the study suggests that freshmen care far more about spiritual matters than is widely believed. More than three-quarters of freshmen say they are looking for meaning in life, for example, and more than two-thirds engage in prayer.The statistics come from surveys completed in the fall by 112,000 students attending 236 four-year colleges and universities. The study was conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles and is part of a multiyear effort to track what happens to students’ spirituality while they are in college.
Scott Jaschik, "God and Freshmen," Inside Higher Ed, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/04/14/spirit


Nanotechnology to eradicate hunger and poverty
The experts reckoned that energy storage, production and conversion would be the top use of nanotechnology in a decade, including more efficient solar cells, hydrogen fuel cells and new hydrogen storage. Second was farming, where nanotech devices could increase soil fertility and crop production. Tiny devices could, for instance, be made to release fertilisers at a strictly controlled rate. Third came water treatment - nano-membranes and clays could purify or desalinate water more efficiently than conventional filters and are a fraction of the size. Singer said the study might give clues to investing in nanotechnology and contribute to UN goals set in 2000 of halving poverty and hunger by 2015.
"Tiny devices to eradicate poverty?" Aljazeera, April 13, 2005 ---
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/631354E9-8FA5-442A-BD1F-01F0F43988EA.htm
Bob Jensen's thread on ubiquitous computing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ubiquit.htm


How is HIV really transmitted in Africa?
HIV cases in Africa come from sexual transmission, virtually all heterosexual. So says the World Health Organization, with other agencies toeing the line. Massive condom airdrops accompanied by a persuasive propaganda campaign would practically make the epidemic vanish overnight. Or would it? A determined renegade group of three scientists has fought for years – with little success – to get out the message that no more than a third of HIV transmission in Africa is from sexual intercourse and most of that is anal. By ignoring the real vectors, they say, we’re sacrificing literally millions of people . . . The chief reason it’s so hard to spread HIV vaginally is that, as biopsies of vaginal and cervical tissue show, the virus is unable to penetrate or infect healthy vaginal or cervical tissue. Various sexually transmitted diseases facilitate vaginal HIV infection, but even those appear to increase the risk only slightly. So if vaginal intercourse can’t explain the awful African epidemic, what can? Surely it’s not homosexuality, since we’ve been told there is none in Africa. In fact, the practice has long been widespread.
Michael Fumento, "The African heterosexual AIDS myth," Town Hall, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.townhall.com/columnists/GuestColumns/Fumento20050414.shtml


Hank really didn't give her this gift as a token of love.  It was more like an effort to keep it from lawsuits and fines.
Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg gave his wife the vast majority of his $2.3 billion in shares of American International Group Inc. in an effort to shield the fortune from future lawsuits, a person close to his legal team said. Though this person said the tactic wasn't intended to protect the fortune from any lawsuits that could spring from the current accounting scandal at AIG, Mr. Greenberg wanted to protect the wealth he built up during nearly four decades running the financial company from unrelated litigation that might later crop up. Estate-planning experts have been scratching their heads over why Mr. Greenberg, 79 years old, would have transferred the shares to his wife last month, given that there appears to be no concrete tax advantage to his estate in doing so. White-collar lawyers noted that, should Mr. Greenberg ever face fines or civil judgments against him in connection with the months-long accounting probes into AIG, the transfer isn't likely to stop government agencies or victorious plaintiffs from tapping the huge fortune in company stock.
Theo Francis and Ian McDonald, "Greenberg Move May Not Shield Assets," The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2005; Page C1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111344514896806737,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing


Time is running out for rain forests
Those who would defend the destruction of the rain forests often cite "development" as an excuse. They argue that the world's rain forests are situated in poor countries -- Brazil, Indonesia, Congo, Burma -- and that to place heavy restrictions on logging and deforestation is to deny millions the opportunity to escape poverty. The Brazilian government frequently argues that it must clear areas of forest to build roads and lay power lines. Other countries defend their right to earn a living through logging. But this does not stand up to close scrutiny. Most of the logging that goes on is not done by government contractors in a sustainable fashion; it is done by gangsters in the most reckless way imaginable. In Indonesia, the habitats of endangered species have been destroyed and local tribes driven out. The driving force behind the clearances in Brazil is the greed of ranchers, eager to make a profit out of soybean crops and cattle grazing. And the government in Burma is not interested in development. It has exploited the country's rain forests simply to shore up its brutal grip on power.
"Time is running out for rain forests," SeattlePI, April 14, 2005 --- http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/219978_rainforest14.html


The new in-thing for late night TV
Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the channel known by day as the Cartoon Network morphs into a strange world of experimental adult animation populated by characters like Frylock, a crime-fighting packet of french fries, and Harvey Birdman, a former superhero trying to make it as a corporate lawyer. The shows are a massive hit with nocturnal college kids and channel-surfing insomniacs, and Adult Swim is consistently the top-rated cable channel in its time slot among 18- to 34-year-olds.
Jane Spencer, "The Cartoons Nipping At Leno and Letterman:  Animation for Insomniacs, A Dangerous Liaisons Sequel And Future NBA Stars," The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2004 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111344078700006656,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal


Paying by the head count in New Haven
Yale University announced this week that it would nearly double, to about $4.2 million next year, what it pays the city of New Haven annually in place of local taxes. What’s perhaps most interesting about the arrangement, though, is how university and city officials chose to calculate the figure: through a formula based on the number of staff members who work on the campus and the number of students who live on it.Many private nonprofit colleges and their communities have complex and often contentious relationships, and money is frequently at the core of the conflict. Cities and towns want the colleges and other tax-exempt entities to pay toward fire, police and other services that benefit the institutions, and the process by which nonprofit colleges decide whether to make payments, and of what size, to their local cities or towns “in lieu of taxes” has always seemed a scattershot one. Northwestern University and its hometown, Evanston, Ill., for instance, have been locked in battle for years over the issue.
Doug Ledgerman, "Novel Approach to Town & Gown," Inside Higher Ed, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/04/14/yale

From Community Colleges to the Ivy League
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is already known for a major scholarship program for students who transfer from two-year institutions. In January, it quietly announced that it planned to create another $7 million program aimed at increasing the number of two-year-college students who transfer to top colleges. In its formal announcement Wednesday, it said the money will be spent, among other things, on a national conference and five grants of $1 million each to selective colleges to set up new transfer programs. “The best community college students from low-income backgrounds have all the talent and drive required to succeed at great universities,” said Matthew J. Quinn, the foundation’s executive director. “This project will help the most selective colleges and universities do a better job of recruiting and enrolling an outstanding and economically diverse group of students.”
Scott Jaschik, "From Community Colleges to the Elites," Inside Higher Ed, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/04/14/transfer


Eye on the eye
Mann, a University of Toronto professor who helped found MIT Media Lab's Wearable Computing Project, has made it a mission to make people more aware of the surveillance around them -- in the form of cameras concealed in store smoke detectors, smoked-glass domes, illuminated door exit signs and even stuffed animals sitting on store shelf displays -- by engaging in what he calls "equiveillance through sousveillance." The opposite of surveillance -- French for watching from above -- sousveillance refers to watching from below, essentially from beneath the eye in the sky. It's the equivalent of keeping an eye on the eye.
Kim Zetter, "Surveillance Works Both Ways," Wired News, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,67216,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

I've written about Freakonomics before, but here's a good illustration:  Abortion reduces crime rates
Back in 1999, Mr. Levitt (actually Dr. Leavitt from the University of Chicago) was trying to figure out why crime rates had fallen so dramatically in the previous decade. He was struck by the fact that crime began falling nationwide just 18 years after the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion. He was struck harder by the fact that in five states crime began falling three years earlier than it did everywhere else. These were exactly the five states that had legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade. Did crime fall because hundreds of thousands of prospective criminals had been aborted? Once again, the pattern by itself is not conclusive, but once again Mr. Levitt piles pattern on pattern until the evidence overwhelms you. The bottom line? Legalized abortion was the single biggest factor in bringing the crime wave of the 1980s to a screeching halt. Mr. Levitt repeatedly reminds us that economics is about what is true, not what ought to be true. To this reviewer's considerable delight, he cheerfully violates this principle at the end of the abortion discussion by daring to address the question of whether abortion ought to be legal or, more precisely, whether the effect on crime rates is a sufficient reason to legalize abortion. He doesn't pretend to settle the matter, but in just a few pages he constructs exactly the right framework for thinking about it and then leaves the reader to draw his own conclusions. Economists, ever wary of devaluing their currency, tend to be stinting in their praise. I therefore tried hard to find something in this book that I could complain about. But I give up. Criticizing "Freakonomics" would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae. I had briefly planned to gripe about the occasional long and pointless anecdotes, but I changed my mind. Sure, we get six pages on the Chicago graduate student who barely escaped with his life after his adviser sent him into the housing projects with a clipboard to survey residents on how they feel about being black and poor. Sure, there is no real point to the story. But a story that good doesn't need a point.
Steven Landsberg,
"When Numbers Solve a Mystery Meet the economist who figured out that legal abortion was behind dropping crime rates," Opinion Journal, April 13, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110006550
Jensen Comment:  you can read more about Leavitt's great Freakonomics book at http://snipurl.com/Freakonomics
I apologize that my recommendation of this book is a repeat from former Tidbits.


Coldplay Calling
This week, the two met, thanks to an exclusive deal between the band and Cingular Wireless. Even though it may be hard for music fans of a certain vintage to believe that rich-sounding music can be channeled through the tiny, tinny speaker of a cell phone, the $209 million market -- which has nearly doubled since last year -- suggests that the mobile masses have few qualms with the sound quality. When Cingular Wireless launched its new ringtone service this week with the exclusive release of "Speed of Sound", the first Coldplay single from its upcoming album XY, the response from fans was immediate. "We've been floored," says Mark Nagel, director for entertainment and downloadable services for Cingular. Fans can plunk down $2.49 to purchase a 15-second song snippet that can be used as their phone's ringtone.
Eric Helweg, "Coldplay Calling," MIT's Technology Review, April 15, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/04/wo/wo_041505hellweg.asp?trk=nl



College Access — Comparing Countries
Tuition and aid policies vary so widely around the world that it has been hard to compare many countries’ higher education systems for the access that they provide students. But a
study released Thursday uses a variety of measures to do just that — and finds Sweden has the most affordable higher education system and the Netherlands has the most accessible.The study was prepared by the Educational Policy Institute. It found data to compare 15 industrialized countries on affordability (the rankings go to 16 because of separate analyses of Belgium’s Flemish and French communities), and 13 on accessibility.The United States was ranked 13th on affordability and 4th on accessibility.
Scott Jaschik, "College Access — Comparing Countries," Inside Higher Ed, April 15, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/04/15/intl

When Playboy ranked party schools, Chico generally was high on the list
California State University at Chico has announced new standards for the Greek system, and the president said that he will not hesitate to evict houses that do not abide by the rules. The new rules follow the hazing death of a student and the involvement of a fraternity in making a pornographic film. The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Paul Zingg, the president, telling students: “To the extent that you are now, you will no longer be drinking clubs masquerading as fraternities and sororities.”
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 15, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/04/15/qt


Oh Canada
Canada's secret, according to management consultancy Accenture, is a willingness to ask citizens what they want. The firm last week published its annual survey of e-government in 22 countries in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. As in the past four years, Canada topped the league. (Britain came 10th.) Coming top in e-government is not just a matter of putting official procedures on the web. Over the past few years, most advanced countries have created online channels for public services such as paying taxes and applying for permits. The reason the Accenture survey places Canada so far ahead of Britain — in fact, in a league of its own — is that it has used the web to re-think how public services are run.
Michael Gross, "A league of its own:  Any government wanting to achieve a high standard of e-readiness should look to Canada for clues," Guardian, April 14, 2005 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1458546,00.html


Who's turning up the heat on Palestinian academics?
As an expatriate Briton now living in Israel, I find it hard to describe my shock and feeling of betrayal at the proposed action of the Academic Union of Teachers to boycott Israeli academics. I was born and brought up in England, imbibing the British attitude to fair play. How, I wonder, could that attitude have become so eroded in the mere 20 years since I left my home in Leamington Spa to live in Jerusalem? Since I emigrated to Israel, untold horrors have taken place in many parts of the world.
Norman W. Cohen, "Who's turning up the heat on Palestinian academics?" Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2005 


Covert Animosity and Open Discrimination Against Women Prevail in Arab Countries
Writing in Elaph.com on March 7, 2005 Saudi author Wajiha Al-Huweidar explained: "All of the Arab regimes are U.N. members and have ratified the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, which clearly establishes justice and equality in the rights and obligations of all citizens. Despite this, women in our chauvinist countries are still considered the property of their relatives. All Arab countries, without exception, harbor covert animosity and open discrimination against women. To this day, all official bodies reject any scientific discussion of a solution to women's problems – while on the other hand the men, who benefit from women's oppression, continue to regurgitate [the mant r a] that 'women are respected' [in Arab and Muslim societies]… "Arab countries' legislation patently discriminates against women and clearly denies their rights, which affronts them as human beings. They are still treated as though they contaminate purity, and arouse temptation and immorality. What is astounding is that most Arabs, at all levels and in every area – whether governments, institutions, or individuals – still consider women's issues a religious issue, and thus believe that her concerns should be dealt with through outdated chauvinist [religious] interpretations…
"Wajiha Al-Huweidar: "Covert Animosity and Open Discrimination Against Women Prevail in Arab Countries," MDMRI,  April 12, 2005 --- http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD89005


Pistol Packin' Grandma, lay that robber down
"I figured either I was going to have to pull the trigger or I'd be dead," said Grammer. So she did. Faking a moment's hesitation, Grammer reached under the counter for a .38 special and came up firing, her first shot hitting the man in the chest at point-blank range. The force knocked him down and jolted the gun from his hand, she said. As the man staggered for the door of Apple Gate Food Store at Wesconnett Boulevard and 105th Street, she fired two more rounds, police said. The suspect left a trail of blood before running into nearby woods, authorities said . . . A man fitting the robber's description went to the Orange Park Medical Center a short time after the robbery attempt as a police helicopter and canine units scoured the neighborhood for the robber. The man told doctors he shot himself. He was taken by helicopter to Shands Jacksonville, according to police, who did not identify the man but confirmed he was in custody.
"Westside store clerk shoots would-be robbery suspect:  The 64-year-old mother of 10 reacted quickly to save her own life while working at Apple Gate Food Store," The Florida-Times Union, April 15, 2005 ---
http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/041505/met_18486472.shtml


War criminals find sanctuary in Sweden
War criminals and human rights violators from Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans find refuge in Sweden, where they are protected from repatriation and never prosecuted, officials and activists say
"Activists: Sweden refuge for war criminals," Aljazeera, April 15, 2005 ---
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/4C3311B8-7F11-48C5-9CD2-DFDECA17FF12.htm




Ole, Lena, and Sven were lost in the north woods and were becoming desperate, having run out of food several days ago. It was winter, the snow was deep, their situation was looking very bleak. When Ole dug down into the snow to look for something to eat , he found an old lamp and upon rubbing it to get the snow off, a genie came out. The genie says, "I am the great genie of the North and I can grant each of you one wish."

Ole says, "I vish I vas back on my farm." Poof, Ole was gone.

Lena quickly says, "I vish I vas back on da farm wit Ole." Poof, Lena was gone.

Sven was sitting there looking sad and the genie finally says, "What is your wish?"

Sven says, "Gee, I'm really lonely. I vish Ole and Lena vas back here with me".


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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
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