Tidbits on June 2, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Fraud Updates ---
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Security threats and hoaxes ---
Music for the quiet of summer:
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
Without warning and out of the blue, my colleague Petrea Sandlin (the
Director of Trinity University's Accounting Program) showed up on our front
porch on Monday afternoon. She and her daughter and a wheel chair bound friend
drove over 5,000 miles through Canada to get this far east into the White
Mountains. They are doing well in spite of the cold and wet weather that they
encountered most of their trip. The weather was mostly rotten this May.
Their next stop along the way was to be with some friends in the Green
Mountains of Vermont, that liberal state a few miles west of our back deck.
Petrea plans to be back in her office in about a week.
My Barber is from the "Old School"
My barber's name is Paul. He has a basement shop on the main street of a
village called Woodsville in western New Hampshire. He does not take
reservations and you simply allow for the possibility that you must wait your
turn. While you wait you may browse through back issues of only
magazine that Paul commenced subscribing to in in 1952 --- The National
Geographic. Paul opened this barber shop over a half century ago
by charging fifty cents for a haircut. Today the charge is only $9.00
which is less than most barbers charge these days. We're lucky to have
Paul in a nearby village since most New Hampshire villages no longer have a
Paul says he's from the "old school." When I asked him what it meant by
"old school," he proudly explained as follows. "It means coming to work
six days of every week, fifty one weeks of every year, for 53 years in
succession. It means standing on your feet cutting hair from 8:30 a.m. to
5:00 p.m. each day except from 12:00 to 12:45 noon when he goes home for a
simple lunch break. It means coming to work in rain, shine, or snow even
if he feels lousy. It means making small talk with old friends and total
strangers. It means discussing the weather over and over each hour of each
day of each week of each year. It means proudly displaying a yellowed
barber college diploma alongside the mirror in front of the barber chair.
It means enjoying very simple things in life and earning every penny that it
costs to have these things."
I think I know why old Paul has subscribed so many years to The National
Geographic. Without leaving Woodsville's main street, Paul manages to
visit virtually every site on the planet and sometimes beyond the planet earth.
In the quiet lull between customers, when he can take the load off his feet,
Paul time travels to Tibet or Paris or Saturn when he opens up one of his worn
copies of The National Geographic. He time travels instantly
without the hassles of airports, burning sun, pouring rain, insects, lost
luggage, noise, thefts, and bad food. And he can return most any time he
gets an urge to see the sites over and over again.
Yesterday, Paul apologetically explained that he might not be in his shop for
a few days beginning June 14. His wife of 53 years will be having a heart
bypass surgery. Being at her side more important than opening his shop
even if he is from the "old school." I hope they have copies of The
National Geographic in the waiting room down in the Hitchcock Center at the
Dartmouth Medical School.
God bless all the older folks from "the old school."
Flashback to the Year 1900 in The Ladies Home Journal
Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today.
Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long
intervals. Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of
express trains of today. They will make what is now known as cavalry charges.
Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a
house as we now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the
temperature of a bath. Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all
kinds will be brought within focus of...
"What in the World Will the Future Bring, " PBS, June 1, 2005 ---
"The Fastest, Easiest Way to Transfer Files," by Walter Mossberg, The
Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2005; Page B5 ---
Q: What is the fastest and easiest way to transfer
files and programs when switching to a new computer? It will be from a
Windows PC to a Windows PC and I have stored a lot of music in Musicmatch
that I want to transfer over.
A: The fastest and easiest way is to use a special
"migration" program, which transfers files in bulk via a cable that connects
the two machines. When I last tested these, the best was Detto's
IntelliMover, which costs $50. More information is at
However, IntelliMover transfers only data files,
including music and settings. It doesn't move over programs, such as
Musicmatch itself. The only program I've tested that does that is Alohabob
PC Relocator Ultra, by Eisenworld (
). It costs $70, and it also transfers files and settings. In addition, it
can move over some, though not all, programs.
"Losing a Rental-Car Key," The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2005; Page
The Problem: You lost the key for a rental
The Solution: The rise of sophisticated
security features on keys has made this an expensive predicament. Some big
rental agencies no longer keep spares on hand, and they may charge you
hundreds of dollars to make a new key.
Call the rental company's roadside-assistance
hotline to report the problem, and find out what your options are. You may
get lucky with an agency that still keeps spares, or can get you a new
rental car free of charge.
Then do some comparative price-shopping on your
own. If you're a member of AAA, you may be entitled to a free tow and up to
$100 off the cost of a duplicate key. Alternatively, some 24-hour locksmiths
can travel to your car and cut a new key on the spot for less than the
One other note: If the lost key is due to another
person's mistake, the rental agency may not hold you responsible for the
Jensen Comment: I had a spare key cut for my Jeep Cherokee in a
hardware store. The spare key would unlock the door and start the engine.
But the engine would not keep running with the spare key in the ignition.
Hence, if I lock my main key in the car, my spare key is useful. But if I
lose my main key, my spare key is not any help.
There may be a worm in your future
A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve
University have created a robotic device that moves much like a slug or
earthworm -- and it could ultimately become the ideal tool to help doctors
Karen Epper Hoffman, "Learning to Crawl," MIT's Technology Review,
May 31, 2005 ---
Western liberalism proving to be only idea left standing
The French and Dutch rebuffs of the European Union
constitution will soon be followed by other rejections. Millions of proud,
educated Europeans are tired of being told by unelected grandees that the mess
they see is really abstract art. The E.U. constitution — and its promise of a
new Europe — supposedly offered a corrective to the Anglo-American strain of
Western civilization. More government, higher taxes, richer entitlements,
pacifism, statism and atheism would make a more humane and powerful new
continent of over 400 million to outpace a retrograde United States. Instead,
Europe faces a declining population, unassimilated minorities, low growth, high
unemployment and an inability to defend itself, either militarily or morally.
Somehow the directorate of the European Union has figured out how to have too
few citizens while having too many of them out of work. The only question that
remains is just how low will the 100,000 bureaucrats of the European Union go in
shrieking to their defiant electorates as they stampede for the exits. In fact,
2005 is a culmination of dying ideas. Despite the boasts and threats, almost
every political alternative to Western liberalism over the last quarter-century
is crashing or already in flames. China's red-hot economy — something like
America's of 1870, before unionization, environmentalism and federal regulation
— shows just how dead communism is. Will Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba go out
with a bang or a whimper? If North Korea's nutty communiqués, Hugo Chavez's
shouting about oil boycotts and Castro's harangues sound desperate, it's because
they all are.
Victor Davis Hanson, "Western liberalism proving to be only idea left standing,"
Jewish World Review, June 2, 2005 ---
If you don't trust me, smell my new oxytocin cologne
Can you bottle trust? The answer, it seems, is yes.
Researchers have produced a potion that, when sniffed, makes people more likely
to give their cash to someone to look after. A Swiss-led research team tested
their creation on volunteers playing an investment game for real money. When
they inhaled the nasal spray, investors were more likely to hand over money to a
trustee, knowing that, although they could make a hefty profit, they could also
lose everything if the trustee decided not to give any of the money back. The
potion's magic ingredient is oxytocin, a chemical that is produced naturally in
the brain. Its production is triggered by a range of stimuli, including sex and
breastfeeding, and it is known to be important in the formation of social ties,
such as mating pairs and parent-offspring bonds. It is perhaps no surprise that
the compound has been nicknamed the 'love hormone'. Experts think that oxytocin
exerts its range of effects by boosting some social behaviours: it may encourage
animals or people to overcome their natural wariness when faced with a risky
situation. The theory argues that people only decide to trust each other - when
forming a sexual or business relationship, for example - when the brain's
oxytocin production is boosted.
Michael Hopkin, "Trust in a bottle: Nasal spray makes people more likely
to place faith in another person," Nature, June 1, 2005 ---
What's a podcaster?
When Steve Jobs announced on May 22 that the next
version of Apple's music software and store iTunes -- due within 60 days --
would feature support for podcasting, the nascent community of
Internet-broadcast show creators was all atwitter. And for good reason: Apple's
announced support will be a signal event for the technology, propelling it from
a hobbyist's pursuit to a medium that less tech-savvy people might explore and
Eric Hellweg, "Pdcasters Tune Into Apple," MIT's Technology Review,
May 26, 2005 ---
The Decline of Affirmative Action
Starting around 1995, the percentage of colleges that
considered students’ minority status in admissions decisions fell dramatically —
so dramatically that it appears to have gone beyond those states where court
rulings or constitutional amendments barred the use of racial preferences. That
finding comes from research being prepared for publication by two sociologists
at the University of California at Davis. Eric Grodsky, an assistant professor
there, and Demetra Kalogrides, a graduate student, were able to document the
shifts by obtaining results from the College Board of a survey it does annually
on college admissions practices.
Scott Jaschik, "The Decline of Affirmative Action," Inside Higher Ed,
June 2, 2005 ---
Up in Smoke: U.S. 'War on Drugs' Really War on Marijuana
The federal government spends about $35 billion a year
on the "war on drugs," largely to prosecute marijuana users – but it's fighting
a losing battle. While the number of marijuana arrests has risen sharply since
the early 1990s, the crackdown has done little to curtail the demand for the
drug. Police make about 700,000 marijuana-related arrests each year, accounting
for almost half of all drug arrests. Pot busts peaked at 755,186 in 2003 –
nearly twice the number of arrests in 1993. While marijuana arrests rose 113
percent from 1990 to 2002, arrests for other drugs increased only 10...
"U.S. 'War on Drugs' Really War on Marijuana," NewsMax.com, May 31, 2005
Adult Stem Cell Breakthrough Ignored
Scientists at Australia's Griffith University have
engineered a breakthrough in the field of adult stem cell research that's so
significant, say experts, that it could render the debate over embryonic stem
cell research moot. The results of the four year research project showed that
olfactory stem cells can be turned into heart cells, brain cells, nerve cells,
indeed almost any kind of cell in the body, without the problems of rejection or
tumors forming, a common side effect with embryonic stem cells.
"Adult Stem Cell Breakthrough Ignored," NewsMax, May 30, 2005 ---
Love in the Land of Na
For the true commitment-phobe, living among the Na
people in southwestern China would be paradise. The Na are the only known
society that completely shuns marriage. Instead, says Stephanie Coontz in her
new book, "Marriage, a History," brothers help sisters raise the children they
conceive through casual sex with nonfamily members (incest is strictly taboo).
Will we all be like the Na in the future? With divorce and illegitimacy rates
still high, the institution of marriage seems headed for obsolescence in much of
the world. Coontz, a family historian at Evergreen State College in Washington,
doesn't proclaim the extinction of marriage, but she does argue that dramatic
changes in family life over the past 30 years represent an unprecedented social
revolution—and there's no turning back. The only hope is accepting these changes
and figuring out how to work with them. The decline of marriage "doesn't have to
spell catastrophe," Coontz says. "We can make marriages better and make
nonmarriages work as well."
"What's Love Got to Do With It? Everything: In a new book, a
marriage historian says romance wrecked family stability," Barbara Kantrowitz,
MSNBC, June 1, 2005 ---
It's a Wiki, Wiki World
As the old techie saying goes, it's not a bug, it's a
feature. Wikipedia is a free open-source encyclopedia, which basically means
that anyone can log on and add to or edit it. And they do. It has a stunning 1.5
million entries in 76 languages—and counting. Academics are upset by what they
see as info anarchy. (An Encyclopaedia Britannica editor once compared Wikipedia
to a public toilet seat because you don't know who used it last.) Loyal
Wikipedians argue that collaboration improves articles over time, just as free
open-source software like Linux and Firefox is more robust than for-profit
competitors because thousands of amateur programmers get to look at the code and
suggest changes. It's the same principle that New Yorker writer James Surowiecki
asserted in his best seller The Wisdom of Crowds: large groups of people are
inherently smarter than an élite few. Wikipedia is in the vanguard of a whole
wave of wikis built on that idea. A wiki is a deceptively simple piece of
software (little more than five lines of computer code) that you can download
for free and use to make a website that can be edited by anyone you like. Need
to solve a thorny business problem overnight and all members of your team are in
different time zones? Start a wiki. In Silicon Valley, at least, wiki culture
has already taken root. "A lot of corporations are using wikis without top
management even knowing it," says John Seely Brown, the legendary former chief
scientist at Xerox PARC. "It's a bottom-up phenomenon. The CIO may not get it,
but the people actually doing the work see the need for them."
Chris Taylor, "It's a Wiki, Wiki World: Want to add your 2¢ to an
encyclopedia? Join the crowd," Time Magazine, June 2005 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the Wiki and Wikipedia are at
When Violence Comes To Campus Once Havens of Tolerance
For millions of Iraqis, it's a familiar concern. The
country has been facing its most deadly spasm of violence in a year: last month
alone, attacks killed more than 600 Iraqis, many of them Shi'ites targeted by
Sunni jihadis bent on sowing civil war. The country's universities have long
served as the bulwark of Iraq's secular society, refuges from the sectarian
strife that threatens to rip the country apart. But now violence has come to the
campuses. A rocket attack on an engineering college in the heart of Baghdad two
weeks ago killed two students and injured 17 others. Bombs have been found at
several colleges, leading many universities to institute full-body searches at
their gates. Radical religious groups have infiltrated many student bodies,
intimidating students and teachers alike. Some prominent Iraqis say the surge in
extremism on campus holds grave portents for Iraq. "Once this poison enters the
campus and infects the minds of our young people," says Mohammad Jaffer al-Samarrai,
a geography professor in Baghdad, "then all hope is lost for society."
Aparisim Ghosh, "When Violence Comes To Campus Once havens of tolerance:
Iraq's universities are becoming battlefields in an escalating civil war,"
Time Magazine, June 6, 2005 ---
The Neal Boortz Commencement Speech
No, this speech has never been delivered at a college
or a university. It was written to protest the fact that such an invitation has
never been offered! It has only been delivered on my radio show, printed in my
book "The Terrible Truth About Liberals" and produced on a limited edition CD.
The irony is that this commencement speech has been more widely distributed, and
has been the subject of more comment than any commencement speech that actually
has been delivered at any college or university in the past 50 years.
"The Neal Boortz Commencement Speech,"
Framingham Selectmen Censor Speech Against Illegal Aliens
Thursday night the Board of Selectmen voted and
approved a measure to keep outspoken critics of illegal immigration from airing
their concerns during the Citizen's Participation segment of the selectmen
meetings. Joseph and Jim Rizoli periodically have brought to the attention of
the board of selectmen the issue of how illegal immigration has negatively
affected the schools and hospitals in Framingham, a town where as much as 70% of
the estimated 20,000 recent immigrants from Latin American countries are here
illegally. For airing their concerns, they have been labelled as "haters" and
"Framingham Selectmen Censor Speech Against Illegal Aliens," MassNews.com,
May 30, 2005 ---
Thow shalt not blog in Iran
The Unicode breakthrough helped ignite massive growth
in Internet readership in Iran. "There were all these journalists who didn't
have a venue, and all these readers who missed the reformist papers." By last
year, 5 million Iranians were using the Internet in the nation of 69 million,
and an estimated 100,000 blogs. The standard fare for Iranian blogs is similar
to what you find in the US - dating, fashion, movies, and music, plus some
politics and information age theorizing. But like Levi's in Khrushchev's Russia,
such quotidian matters contain the seeds of revolution, Derakhshan says. Maybe
that's why the blog spring was crushed. At first, "the clerics didn't really
understand what they were," he says, so they didn't bother shutting them down.
But last June the Iranian judiciary put in place a more sophisticated filtering
system that blocks Iranian access to political Web sites and blogs. (Derakhshan's
traffic immediately dropped by half.) Then in September, officials got serious,
arresting, interrogating, and even jailing some of the country's bloggers,
according to human rights groups. Two of those writers, Mojtaba Saminejad and
Mohammad Reza Nasab Abdolahi, remain in prison.
"Blog Spring," Wired Magazine, June 2006 ---
I've not watched the Jay Leno Show for a very long time. It's stuff
like this on his show that makes me want to miss his show forever more ---
We became teachers to profess ideals and despise having to grub for a
I know a man who teaches at a branch campus of one of
the largest state universities in the country. He hates it. One reason: his
colleagues. Not only do many of them lack his professional seriousness or
scholarly aspirations. Some have other jobs on the side, in real estate or auto
dealerships. He tells of a few people who have worked out deals with the English
department to steer students their way who write about difficulties with housing
or cars. Academe, one of thy names is money. Not officially of course. For
public consumption, we faculty members — tenured or adjunct — accept our
salaries in the name of our responsibilities to our students or our dedication
to our discipline. Of course we all deserve more money, although not as much as
football coaches, who deserve less, and don’t get us started on overpaid
administrators. But we did not become teachers to make money. We became teachers
to profess ideals. Result? We are baffled with the vulgar particulars of what we
do make, ranging from the starting salary we command or the pay raise we receive
upon promotion to — well, to what, exactly? In fact, aside from the special case
of merit pay, the only money virtually all of us make is represented by our
respective salaries. This is why we are so reluctant to disclose them. This is
also why anybody who actually tries to make additional money, much as my above
friend’s colleagues, makes us so uneasy, to say the least.
Terry Caesar, "Filthy Lucre," Inside Higher Ed, June 1, 2005 ---
Tidbits forwarded by my secretary, Debbie Bowling
Graduation gown marks four generations of learning
Pennsylvania (AP) -- As Amanda Crowley crossed the stage to receive her
Dickinson College diploma, she carried a major branch of her family tree inside
her 95-year-old graduation gown.
Crowley's great-grandmother bought the wool gown for
her own commencement at Wellesley College in 1910 and passed it down to each of
her children as they graduated, an effort meant to save money during the Great
Her act of thrift has since evolved into a family
tradition, transforming the garment into a scholarly family heirloom. It has now
traveled around the country and survived being worn by four generations of
To mark each occasion, white fabric tape with each
graduate's name, alma mater, and year of graduation is sewn inside the gown.
Crowley, who received a bachelor of arts degree Sunday, became the 22nd family
member to experience this rite of passage.
The 21-year-old was honored to keep up the
tradition, especially since her grandmother, Mary Lee Brooks, who wore it for
her Wellesley College graduation in 1936, suffers from Parkinson's disease and
was unable to attend Dickinson's commencement.
"I felt like she was here. That in and of itself
really made the day for me," said Crowley, of Goldens Bridge, New York, about 40
miles north of New York City. "It definitely was a lot to bear, to have my
family history on my back, but it's a great feeling."
It all began with Bertha Cottrell Lee, who was born
and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, as a member of a middle-class family that
valued higher education, according to Crowley's mother, Lynda Crowley.
Lee studied botany at Wellesley, but also had an
active social life, as evidenced by a number of dance cards, calling cards and
invitations to faculty teas that Lynda Crowley has preserved in a scrapbook she
recently compiled on the gown.
Within a year or two after graduation, Lee married a
chiropractor and started her own family. Money was tight as each of her three
children graduated from college in the late 1930's, so she loaned her gown to
each of them and began the practice of stitching the names inside.
Since then, it has traveled as far north as the
University of Maine and as far south as Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
And a few family members had the privilege of wearing it again upon earning
Lynda Crowley said she didn't feel terribly
sentimental about wearing the gown to her 1971 graduation from Connecticut
College, where she earned a religion degree, and did so mainly to please her
mother and grandmother.
But more recently, she has noticed that her
children, nieces and nephews are very interested in participating in the
"It wasn't until this generation that it became an
honor. The kids fight over it now," she said.
The Associated Press, "Graduation gown marks four generations
of learning," Tuesday, May 24, 2005,
University Presses Challenge Google
How long is a snippet? That is one of more than a
dozen questions directed at Google Inc. this week by the executive director of
the Association of American University Presses, the trade group representing
university presses. At issue is whether Google Print for Libraries, the
company's plan to digitize the collections of some of the country's major
university libraries, infringes the copyrights of the authors of many books in
those collections. The program will allow users to search the contents of books,
displaying context-specific "snippets" of the texts of copyrighted works.
letter to Google dated
Friday, the details of which were first
reported by BusinessWeek on Monday,
Peter Givler, executive director of the press association, said that Google
Print for Libraries "appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on
a massive scale." Mr. Givler said the service has "the potential for serious
financial damage" to the members of the press association, a collection of
largely not-for-profit businesses that typically produce and sell scholarly
works of nonfiction that have relatively little commercial potential. In a
statement, Google said that it has an "active dialogue with all of our
publishing partners," adding that it protects the copyright holders by allowing
users of Google Print to view only a few short sentences of protected text.
EDWARD WYATT, "University Presses Challenge Google," The New
York Times, Published: May 25, 2005,
'POSTER' BOYS FOR STUPIDITY
A Brooklyn suspect in two livery-cab stickups redefined
stupid yesterday when he walked into a police station to check on his arrested
partner-in-crime — and found himself standing in front of his own wanted poster.
It took only a split-second for the stunned cops at the 90th Precinct in
Williamsburg to slap the cuffs on 20-year-old Awiey "Chucky" Hernandez, whose
picture was captured by a cab-cam during one of the duo's alleged robberies.
"There's a wanted poster with their pictures, right
there," said an incredulous Sgt. Norman Horowitz, of the 90th Precinct Detective
Squad. "[The poster] was a couple of feet away. Obviously he did not notice it,
but we did."
Hernandez's bungle began when he went to the station
house to inquire about his cohort — 18-year-old Huquan "Guns" Gavin, the man
whose face appeared next to his on the wanted poster.
Horowitz was baffled why Hernandez would mingle with
cops after the "wanted" flier had been distributed throughout the neighborhood.
"I can't understand how he can walk into a station
house knowing very well what they did, and their picture was plastered all over
the [neighborhood]," Horowitz said.
ERIKA MARTINEZ, "'POSTER'
BOYS FOR STUPIDITY," Free Republic (from the New
York Post), Posted on
Paying for Health Care in the Emeritus Years
Investments and Aetna announced a new program Tuesday in which employees at a
consortium of colleges will have the chance to create special retirement
accounts to pay for health care.
The Emeriti Program will
be open to employees at the
members of Emeriti
Retirement Health Solutions, a consortium of colleges that aims for more clout
in negotiating with benefits companies by combining the employees of their
institutions. Most of the 29 members are private liberal arts colleges, although
other institutions are
considering joining, and membership will not be restricted to certain types of
Under the program, employers and employees could
make voluntary contributions to special accounts with the employer contributions
not taxed. The funds are then invested, and upon retirement, employees can
select among several insurance plans to supplement their Medicare coverage.
Besides paying for the supplemental coverage, the accounts can also be used to
pay for some out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by either Medicare or
the additional health insurance.
The sponsors of the new program — which they say is
the only one of its kind — say that they based it on research by the Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation that found that many faculty members are worried about paying
for post-retirement health care, and that faculty members whose institutions
have generous post-retirement health benefits retire earlier than those at other
Barbara Perry, vice president for marketing at
Emeriti, said that the program was a “strategic benefit” that colleges would
find valuable in recruiting and retaining faculty talent. She said that the
specifics of each program — such as contribution sizes — would be determined at
the campus level.
“Once you join the program as a college, you adapt
it for your institution,” she said. Perry added that while Emeriti was started
with an emphasis on liberal arts colleges, she did not see any reason that the
benefit would be less attractive at other institutions. “This is a universal
issue and institutions of all sizes are expressing interest.”
Andy Brantley, incoming chief executive officer of
the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, called
Emeriti “an interesting concept” because many colleges either can’t afford to
pay for retiree health insurance or worry about the rising costs of such
benefits. An approach like Emeriti “changes the dynamic” in that the college
makes a contribution, but isn’t forced to pay unknown costs at some point down
the road when insurance costs skyrocket, he said. As a result, he said, some
colleges that do nothing on health benefits for retirees may find it viable to
A spokeswoman for TIAA-CREF said that the issue of
retiree health care costs was “one of a number we are looking at,” but that “we
are more focused on the retirement savings side of the business.”
Scott Jaschik "Paying
for Health Care in the Emeritus Years," Inside Higher Ed,
May 25, 2005,
Smell of Grapefruit Helps Women Look Younger
A new study shows
that the fruity aroma from grapefruit may be able to shave years off a woman's
Eau de grapefruit, anyone? Don't snicker: A new
study shows that the fruity aroma from grapefruit may be able to shave years off
There's a lot of prejudice against older people in
our society, says researcher Alan B. Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell
& Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. "A lot of it is related to
how we look and how we talk. So we looked at the concept of smell.
"In the presence of the smell of pink grapefruit,
women appear to be six years younger than their real age," says Hirsch.
It sure beats Botox or cosmetic surgery, he tells
Hirsch has made a career out of smelling things --
all sorts of things. A few years ago he found that banana, green apple, and
peppermint aromas can help you lose weight.
"We've also done studies on odors and sexual arousal
and found a positive effect," he says.
Reporting here Monday at the annual meeting of the
American Psychiatric Association, Hirsch says he recently "came to the idea of
Sadly, of the three aromas studied, only grapefruit
did the trick: Grape and cucumber odor had no effect on age perception
whatsoever, he says.
An Overpowering Sense of Smell
For the study, 37 men and women were asked to
estimate the age of a series of models in photographs while wearing masks that
were infused with the various aromas and then again while wearing a regular
Overall, the grapefruit aroma made the participants
think the models were about three years younger than they really were, Hirsch
But when Hirsch broke the experiment down by sex,
the picture changed.
"When women were wearing the mask, there was no
perceptible change in age," he says. "But for men wearing the mask, women looked
six years younger."
Smell fishy? Not so, says Duke University's Marian
Butterfeld, MD, MPH, chairwoman of the committee that chose which studies would
be presented at the meeting.
The findings are "intriguing," she tells WebMD, and
in line with other research that shows sex differences in the sense of smell.
Hirsch offers up several explanations for the
phenomena. It could be that the aroma simply makes people happy and that happy
people judge others in a better light, he says.
More likely, Hirsch says, is that the grapefruit
aroma induced a smell memory-nostalgic effect. Another possibility is that the
grapefruit aroma could have sexually aroused the men, clouding their judgment,
or even could have acted as a stress buster, he says.
Butterfeld says further study is warranted.
Smell of Grapefruit Helps Women Look Younger,"
College Board Plans Changes to AP Courses
College Board Plans Changes to Popular Advanced Placement Courses Amid Concerns
Over Depth of Study
The College Board, which administers Advanced
Placement courses and the SAT, is quietly mapping out changes to some of its
flagship programs amid concerns that they cover too much content and don't allow
for in-depth study.
A team of researchers at the University of Oregon in
Eugene is leading a re-examination of AP courses in U.S. history, biology,
chemistry, physics, European history, world history and environmental science.
The courses are designed to let high school students
test out of entry-level courses in college. Nationwide, AP participation is
booming, with one in five high school students taking an AP course and exam last
year, up from 16 percent in 2000.
Research has shown that scoring well on an AP test
is a strong predictor of college success, and the Bush administration has made
the increasing participation in AP courses a source of pride, especially among
But the current model for shaping AP courses through
a broad survey of the curriculum of college classes in a particular subject
"doesn't help us address the concern that AP courses require too much content
coverage," said Trevor Packer, Advanced Placement executive director.
"We recognize that simply having a course that
requires a teacher to cover a lot of content is not the same as the best-level
college course, in which teachers are facilitating in-depth study," Packer said.
Over the next year, staff members at the University
of Oregon's Center for Education Policy Research will recruit 2,500 college
faculty members in the seven subjects at about 100 schools across the country to
detail the material they're teaching to college freshmen.
Researchers will then identify college courses in
each of those subjects to serve as a "best practices" teaching model for AP high
Packer said this will be the first time the
nonprofit College Board has tried to single out the best courses in the field to
use as a model for AP course development.
Eventually, plans call for putting all 34 of AP's
courses through the "best practices" model, said University of Oregon Professor
Packer said changes spurred by the work done by
Conley's team could come to AP courses by the 2008-2009 school year, allowing
enough time for textbook and lab materials to be updated.
AP tests in the seven subjects would evolve too, he
Conley said he could foresee even greater changes to
AP courses in the future; perhaps someday AP tests will include work samples
done in the classroom for college admissions offices to review, he said.
Additionally, Conley's team has just finished
analyzing the College Board's standards for math and science testing, asking
faculty who teach entry-level math and science courses at 350 schools to compare
their teaching to what is being asked of students taking tests such as the SAT
and the PSAT. A similar analysis of English standards begins this fall.
Eventually, the plan could be for SAT-takers to get
not just their test scores back from the College Board, but also information
about what specific areas they need to improve upon to be considered
college-ready, Conley said.
JULIA SILVERMAN Associated Press Writer, "College Board Plans Changes to AP
Courses," ABC News, May 25, 2005,
TIDBITS MAY 27, 2005
The Secret Passages In CIA's Backyard
Draw Mystery Lovers
'Da Vinci Code'
Has Many Trying to Decipher Secret Of the Kryptos Sculpture
ANGLEY, Va. -- The big mystery at the Central Intelligence Agency, sitting in a
sunny corner of the headquarters courtyard, begins this way:
That's the first line of the Kryptos
sculpture, a 10-foot-tall, S-shaped copper scroll perforated with 3-inch-high
letters spelling out words in code. Completed 15 years ago, Kryptos, which is
Greek for "hidden," at first attracted interest mainly from government code
breakers who quietly deciphered the easier parts without announcing their
Now, many mystery lovers around the
world have joined members of the national-security establishment in trying to
crack the rest. So far, neither amateurs nor pros have been able to do it.
The latest scramble was set off by
"The Da Vinci Code," the thriller about a modern-day search for the Holy Grail.
On the book's dust jacket, author Dan Brown placed clues that hint at Kryptos's
significance. The main one is a set of geographic coordinates that roughly
locate the sculpture. (One of the coordinates is off slightly, for reasons that
Mr. Brown so far has kept secret.) A game at
that Kryptos is a clue to the subject of Mr. Brown's as-yet-unpublished next
novel, "The Solomon Key."
Gary Phillips, 27 years old, a
Michigan computer programmer, started researching Kryptos last year, hours after
learning about its Da Vinci Code connection. "Once it pulls you in, you just
can't stop thinking about it," he says. Eventually, Mr. Phillips says, he let a
struggling software business go under and took a construction job so he would
have more time for solving Kryptos.
The quest to solve the fourth and
final passage of Kryptos's message has spawned several Web sites -- including
Mr. Phillips's -- as well as an online discussion group that has more than 500
members. The discussion group was founded by Gary Warzin, who heads Audiophile
Systems Ltd. in Indianapolis. He became fascinated with Kryptos after visiting
the CIA in 2001. But after months of trying to crack the code on his own, Mr.
Warzin -- whose other hobbies include escaping from straitjackets -- decided he
Kryptos devotees are intrigued by the
three passages that have been deciphered so far. They appear to offer clues to
solving the sculpture's fourth passage, and possibly to locating something
Sculptor James Sanborn, Kryptos's
creator, says he wrote or adapted all three. The first reads, "Between subtle
shading and the absence of light lies the nuance of iqlusion." Jim Gillogly, a
California computer researcher believed to be the first person outside the
intelligence world to solve the first three parts, came up with the translation,
which includes the deliberate misspelling of the word illusion.
The second passage, more suggestive,
reads in part, "It was totally invisible. How's that possible? They used the
Earth's magnetic field. The information was gathered and transmitted undergruund
to an unknown location. Does Langley know about this? They should: it's buried
out there somewhere." That passage is followed by geographic coordinates that
suggest a location elsewhere on the CIA campus.
The third decoded passage is based on
a diary entry by archaeologist Howard Carter, on the day in 1922 when he
discovered the tomb of the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamen. It reads in part,
"With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left-hand corner. And
then, widening the hole a little, I inserted the candle and peered in. The hot
air escaping from the chamber caused the flame to flicker, but presently details
of the room within emerged from the mist. Can you see anything?" Mr. Sanborn
confirms that the translations are accurate.
In addition to deliberate
misspellings, there are letters slightly higher than others on the same line.
Other possible clues are contained in smaller parts of the work scattered around
the CIA grounds. Made of red granite and sheets of copper, these are tattooed
with Morse code that spells out phrases like "virtually invisible" and "t is
your position." In addition, a compass needle carved onto one of the rocks is
pulled off due north by a lodestone that Mr. Sanborn placed nearby.
Those poring over the puzzle these
days are thought to include national-security workers as well as retirees,
computer-game players and cryptogram fans. Some devotees believe Kryptos holds
profound significance as a portal into the wisdom of the ancients.
More typical is Jennifer Bennett, a
27-year-old puzzle aficionado who works as a poker-room supervisor near Seattle.
She came across the Kryptos mystery last year while on maternity leave, as she
searched for online games to play. Now back at work, she still spends an hour a
day on Kryptos after her children have gone to bed. Like most would-be code
breakers, she relies on pencil and paper.
Others, like Mr. Gillogly, the
California code breaker, are partial to computers. Semiretired, he spent 30
years at the Rand Corp., then had his own software business. He estimates that
his computers have tried at least 100 billion possible solutions to the fourth
passage over the years. His main computer these days, he says, is a 1.7 GHz
laptop with a Pentium 4 processor.
Experts say the fourth passage --
known to insiders as "K4" -- is written in a more complex and difficult code
than the first three, one designed to mask patterns of recurring letters that
code breakers look for.
Efforts at finding a solution have
grown increasingly elaborate. Elonka Dunin, an executive at St. Louis
computer-game company Simutronics, has hunted down other encoded sculptures by
Mr. Sanborn in search of recurring themes. Some, like researcher Chris Hanson,
who runs a company that makes software for constructing 3D landscape models,
have mapped the CIA's headquarters or built virtual replicas of Kryptos.
Mr. Sanborn has grown uncomfortable
with some of the attention his work is getting, particularly from those who see
religious overtones. "I don't want my work manipulated in such a way that its
meaning is somehow transformed," the Kryptos sculptor says. He dismisses any
religious connotations or allusions to beliefs of the ancients.
A spokeswoman for Dan Brown referred
questions to Doubleday, his publisher, explaining that he's at work on his new
novel and "incommunicado." A spokesman for Doubleday declined to comment.
Mr. Sanborn, who lives and works in
Washington, burnished his reputation with Kryptos. He has exhibited around the
world, including at the Hirshhorn Museum and Corcoran Gallery of Art. His more
recent work has focused on the early development of atomic weapons, employing
actual equipment from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
He had no formal training in
cryptography when he created Kryptos, but worked with a retired CIA official, Ed
Scheidt, who was starting up an encryption-software business, TecSec Inc. Mr.
Sanborn says he withheld the full solution to the puzzle from Mr. Scheidt, as
well as from the CIA itself. An agency spokesman says he isn't aware of anyone
having solved the fourth passage.
Despite the struggles of would-be code
breakers, Mr. Sanborn insists the puzzle can be solved, and teases them by
saying that one clue overlooked so far is sitting in plain view. "The most
obvious key to the sculpture, nobody has picked up on."
JOHN D. MCKINNON , "The Secret Passages In
CIA's Backyard Draw Mystery Lovers," The Wall Street Journal,
May 27, 2005; Page A1,
Plan to Gather Student Data Draws Fire
As the Senate moves to complete the spending bill
for the Higher Education Act next month, a growing number of organizations
concerned about privacy rights are fighting a Department of Education plan that
would require colleges and universities to place personal information on
individual students into a national database maintained by the government.
If included in the spending measure, the plan would
radically change current practice by requiring schools to provide personal
information on all students, not just those receiving federal aid.
Submissions would include every student's name and
Social Security number, along with sex; date of birth; home address; race;
ethnicity; names of every college course begun and completed; attendance
records; and financial aid information.
Such detailed information is now provided only for
students receiving federal aid, giving the department only a partial picture of
higher education nationwide. The new approach, department officials say, would
not only complete the picture but also help track students who take uncommon
paths toward a degree.
"Forty percent of students now enroll in more than
one institution at some point during their progress to a degree," said Grover
Whitehurst, director of the department's Institute of Education Sciences, which
devised the plan. "The only way to accurately account for students who stop out,
drop out, graduate at a later date or transfer out is with a system that tracks
individual students across and within post-secondary institutions."
It is not clear whether the proposal has enough
momentum - or even a sponsor - to be added by the Senate. The House version did
not include the plan, and Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, chairman of
the House Education and Workforce Committee, has spoken against it.
Concerned that the plan could emerge through the
Senate, opponents are trying to kill it before it gains any traction.
"Our belief is that the department, itself, is both
unconstitutional and a relic of the last century that should not exist, let
alone create new databases," said Michael Ostrolenk, education policy director
for two conservative groups, EdWatch and Eagle Forum. "I don't trust the
government with databases with private information on citizens."
Jim Dempsey, executive director of the Center for
Democracy and Technology, said: "Once a database is created for one purpose,
regardless how genuine or legitimate it is, it's very, very hard to prevent it
from being used for law enforcement or intelligence purposes. If the F.B.I.
the information they want."
Indeed, the feasibility report permits the attorney
general and the Department of Justice to gain access to the database "in order
to fight terrorism." Backers of the proposal, while acknowledging the privacy
concerns, say that the benefits of having more information about students
outweigh the risks, especially for lawmakers who oversee federal aid programs.
MICHAEL JANOFSKY "Plan to Gather Student Data Draws Fire,"
The New York Times, May 27, 2005,
Vietnam vets’ poet laureate dies, Steve Mason,
65, had been battling cancer
Steve Mason, poet laureate of the Vietnam Veterans of
America, died Wednesday at his home in Ashland, surrounded by friends and
family. He was 65. He had been battling cancer.
No service is planned. Arrangements will be handled
by Memory Gardens Mortuary, Medford.
A former Army captain and decorated veteran, Mason
moved back to Ashland last year after living there earlier and then being away
for several years.
He is the author of three books of poetry: "Johnny’s
Song" (1986), "Warrior for Peace" (1988) and "The Human Being — A Warrior’s
Journey Toward Peace and Mutual Healing" (1990).
His poem "The Wall Within" was delivered at the
dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., 1984 and read
into the Congressional Record the same year.
Mason’s poems mix plain-spoken declarations of
feeling and startling metaphors with a stream-of-consciousness style and the
rhythms of everyday speech.
Mason’s poem "The Wall Within" begins like this:
Most real men/ hanging tough/ in their early
forties/ would like the rest of us to think/ they could really handle one more
war/ and two more women./ But I know better./ You have no more lies to tell./ I
have no more dreams to believe.
He wrote on an old Underwood typewriter, often
completing a poem in a single sitting.
Whatever came out, he said, was the poem. He didn’t
"Johnny’s Song" had a first printing of 35,000, an
almost unheard of number for a book of poetry.
He co-wrote "Moths and Violets," a volume of love
poems published in 1974.
Mason came home from Vietnam in 1967. Although he
said he had no drug or alcohol problems, he blamed post-traumatic stress
disorder for the breakup of his marriage a year later. He once said the trauma
of war is "like an elephant on your nose."
Mason’s friends held a poetry event for him in
September at Stage Works in Ashland. Actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
and others read from his work, and proceeds were given to a group that helps
veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
vets’ poet laureate dies, Steve Mason, 65, had been battling cancer," Free
Republic, May 27, 2005,
Survey: Northeast has dumbest drivers
Test shows 1 in 10 licensed U.S. drivers don't know basic rules. In the East, 20
percent fail quiz.
When faced with a written test, similar to ones given to beginning drivers
applying for licenses, one in ten drivers couldn't get a passing score,
according to a study commissioned by GMAC Insurance.
The GMAC Insurance National Driver's Test found that nearly 20 million
Americans, or about 1 in 10 drivers, would fail a state driver's test if they
had to take one today. GMAC Insurance is part of General Motors' finance
More than 5,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 65 were
administered a 20-question written test designed to measure basic knowledge
about traffic laws and safety. They were also surveyed about their general
Drivers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states did worst. Twenty percent of
test-takers failed there.
The state of Rhode Island leads the nation in driver cluelessness, according
to the survey. The average test score there was 77, just eight points above a
Those in neighboring Massachusetts were second worst and New Jersey, third
Northwestern states had the most knowledgeable drivers. In those states, just
one to three percent failed the test. Oregon and Washington drivers knew the
rules of the road best. In Oregon, the average test score was 89.
According to the study, many drivers find basic practices, such as merging
and interpreting road signs, difficult.
For instance, one out of five drivers doesn't know that a pedestrian in a
crosswalk has the right of way, and one out of three drivers speeds up to make a
yellow light, even when pedestrians are present, the study said.
Drivers not only lack basic road knowledge, but exhibit dangerous driving
behavior as well.
"As a nation of drivers, we've made little progress in the past 10 years to
curb some of the most dangerous driving behaviors, including drinking and
driving and speeding," said Susan Ferguson, senior vice president of research at
the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
One out of 10 drivers regularly exceeds the speed limit by 11 or more miles
per hour, with drivers aged between 18 and 24 years showing the greatest
propensity for speeding, the study said.
Speeding increases both the likelihood of an accident and the severity of the
crash, the company added, citing research from IIHS.
Younger drivers are the most likely to fail a written driving test while
those between the ages of 50 and 64 are the most likely to pass.
for 48 states and Washington, D.C.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money), "Survey: Northeast has dumbest drivers," CNN.com,
May 27, 2005,
Boom in Alberta Oil Sands Fuels
As Routes Reach
Capacity, Race Is On to Link Fields To West Coast and China
MCMURRAY, Alberta -- Canada, with its vast oil-sands resource, is gearing up to
export more crude oil than ever before. But with Canada's pipelines just about
full, the burgeoning oil-sands industry is running into a bottleneck.
That has touched off a new race: to
build massive, expensive pipelines that will carry expanding oil production from
this isolated region in northern Alberta hundreds of miles over mountains and
forests to the Pacific Coast and major oil-thirsty markets, especially China and
the U.S. West Coast.
The winner among the pipeline
companies could have the best chance to tap new markets and sign up customers.
The companies could also establish themselves as intermediaries between Canada's
burgeoning oil-sands region and Chinese energy companies, which have been
seeking reserves world-wide to meet that nation's surging energy needs.
Last month, Enbridge Inc. of Calgary,
Alberta, signed an agreement to share the costs of building a 2.5 billion
Canadian dollar, or about US$2 billion, pipeline, called the Gateway Pipeline,
with China state oil company PetroChina Co. Terasen Inc., based in Vancouver,
British Columbia, and the only company already operating an oil pipeline from
Alberta to Canada's West Coast, has proposed a rival C$2 billion plan to expand
the existing pipeline and plans a second, new line.
The companies also plan projects along
their more traditional routes to the U.S. market through the northern Midwest.
But the westbound projects, which would open up new markets for oil sands,
promise to be at the same time more lucrative and potentially more difficult.
The pipeline companies already are negotiating with Native American bands for
land-use rights, gearing up for the expense and technical complexities of the
big projects and facing the concerns of environmentalists.
"We're very concerned about the pace
and extent of oil-sands development. All aspects of the environment are becoming
stressed because of cumulative impact," says Chris Severson Baker, a spokesman
for the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental group.
Oil sands are gritty deposits of
tar-like bitumen, and Canada's deposits are now recognized as the biggest source
of crude oil outside Saudi Arabia. Extracting and processing sticky bitumen is
much more expensive than producing and refining conventional crude, but global
supply concerns have pushed crude prices to about $50 a barrel and made bitumen
projects more economically viable.
Producers have announced plans to
invest some C$80 billion in development of Alberta's oil sands, according to the
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in Calgary, and they expect to
double production to about two million barrels a day from oil sands by roughly
the end of this decade. Some of the world's biggest energy companies are
involved, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch/Shell Group.
Enbridge wants to build a new pipeline
from northern Alberta to a proposed deep-water tanker terminal at Prince Rupert
or Kitimat, on the northern British Columbia coast. Either port could
accommodate the massive oil tankers with capacities exceeding 250,000 metric
tons, or roughly 1.6 million barrels, to ship to China.
Under its agreement with Enbridge,
PetroChina will commit to renting pipeline capacity for 200,000 barrels of oil a
day, or half of the Gateway Pipeline's total capacity, which would effectively
underwrite half the project's costs. Enbridge has also said it is willing to
sell up to a 49% interest in Gateway to one or more equity partners.
Enbridge Vice President Richard
Sandahl said his company and PetroChina are in talks to firm up terms of their
agreement, which might include PetroChina acquiring a minority stake in the
project. "It wasn't an easy commitment for the Chinese to make, but
diversification and security of oil supply are priority issues to them," he
Enbridge President and Chief Executive
Patrick D. Daniel said three years of preliminary discussions with landowners,
including Native American groups, along the proposed pipeline's route haven't
raised any insurmountable issues. Nonetheless, evidence of the land-access
difficulties facing pipeline projects was brought starkly into focus earlier
this month when a group of major energy companies abruptly halted
preconstruction work on a northern natural-gas pipeline, due in part to lack of
progress on reaching agreements with aboriginal groups.
Andrew George, lands and resources
director of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, says the five northern British
Columbia native clans that his organization represents want to be involved in
detailed consultations on Enbridge's pipeline project "from the get-go, at a
strategic level, when the big decisions are made." He said the group has held
only preliminary talks with Enbridge.
Terasen's pipeline project, to expand
its TransMountain Pipe Line from Alberta to Vancouver, is set to begin next
year. The expansion would take pipeline capacity to 300,000 barrels a day by the
end of 2008 from 225,000, and to as much as 850,000 barrels a day in potential
future project stages. Because the Vancouver oil terminal can't handle very
large crude tankers, most of the additional Canadian oil shipments would
initially go to California or the U.S. Pacific Northwest on small vessels. Later
the company would build a second line to Prince Rupert or Kitimat, to
accommodate oil exports to Asia.
TAMSIN CARLISLE, "Boom
in Alberta Oil Sands Fuels Pipeline Dreams," The Wall Street Journal,
May 31, 2005; Page A2,
Tires Get An Expiration Date
Drivers who know to check tires for
worn treads and low air pressure now have something else to worry about:
Ford Motor Co., in a move roiling the
tire industry, has started urging consumers to replace tires after six years.
The car maker says its research shows that tires "degrade over time, even when
they are not being used." That means even pristine-looking spares that have
never left the trunk should be pitched after a half-dozen years.
That's a radical concept in the staid
U.S. tire business, which insists there's no scientific evidence to support a
"use by" date for tires. It would also surprise most motorists, who are taught
that a tire's lifespan is measured mainly by tread depth. The tire industry says
that tires are safe as long as the tread depth is a minimum of 1/16th of an
inch, no matter what the age, and there are no visible cuts, signs of uneven
wear, bulges or excessive cracking. Other trouble signs are if tires create
vibration or excessive noise.
"Tires are not milk," says Daniel
Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the tire
industry's main trade group.
For many consumers, the issue never
comes up, since passenger-car tires last an average of 44,000 miles -- meaning
they are usually replaced before hitting the six-year mark. But many people
simply assume that unused spare tires -- even those that are a decade old -- are
as durable as brand-new tires, and sometimes use those spares as full-time
replacements for the regular tires. Classic-car buffs and others who drive only
infrequently could also be affected by the latest research.
In its new stance on tire safety, Ford
is getting some support from other researchers. Sean Kane, president of Safety
Research & Strategies Inc., an auto-safety research firm working with lawyers
who are preparing lawsuits arising from accidents thought to be linked to aging
tires, says older tires are a road hazard. Mr. Kane's group has collected a list
of 70 accidents involving older tires, which resulted in 52 deaths and 50
In a sense, the U.S. car industry is
just catching up to global standards. Many European car makers as well as
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. have long warned drivers, including those who buy
their cars in the U.S., that tires are perishable. Many of them also use a
six-year threshold for the age of a tire.
DaimlerChrysler AG has already adopted
a position parallel to Ford. The car maker's Mercedes division had been telling
drivers that tires last only six years. But starting last fall, the Chrysler
group began including such a warning in 2005 owner's manuals. "We did do some
research and we found that's just a pretty safe and steady guideline," says
Curtrise Garner, a Chrysler spokeswoman, adding that "it's a recommendation, not
Other car makers are also taking up
this question, and some are reaching a different conclusion than Ford. General
Motors Corp. spokesman Alan Adler says GM has discussed the aging issue, but
doesn't have any research that supports a move to such a guideline. "We're not
joining in the six-years-is-the-magic-number thing right now," he says.
The age of tires already appears on
tires, but as part of a lengthy code that is difficult for average consumers to
decipher. To find the age of a tire, look for the letters DOT on the sidewall
(indicating compliance with applicable safety standards set by the U.S.
Department of Transportation). Adjacent to these letters is the tire's serial
number, which is a combination of up to 12 numbers and letters. The last
characters are numbers that identify the week and year of manufacture. For
example, 1504 means the fifteenth week of the year 2004.
Not only are the numbers difficult to
interpret, but they can be hard to locate: The numbers are printed on only one
side of the tire, which sometimes is the one facing inward when the tire is
mounted on a wheel.
Ford's new stance on tire aging is a
direct outgrowth of the Firestone tire recall that began in August 2000. That
episode involved Firestone tires failing suddenly, mostly on Ford Explorers,
leading to a wave of deadly crashes. The crashes sparked a series of lawsuits,
including monetary and personal-injury claims, some of which are pending.
Ford's new position won't affect those
lawsuits. But it could play a role in future legal action. Some attorneys who
have sued over the Firestone case are now mounting cases that focus on tire age.
John Baldwin, a Ford materials
scientist who studied the root cause of the Firestone problems and has
spearheaded the car maker's continuing research on tire aging, says Ford's
intention is to develop a test to help prevent another Firestone-type debacle.
He says Ford's research into the Firestone problem showed that as tires age, the
chemistry of the rubber changes as oxygen migrates through the carcass of the
tire. This leads to a weakening of the internal structure that can result in
tire failures. Driving in hot climates or frequent heavy loading of vehicles
speeds this aging process, he says.
In April, Ford posted a warning on its
Web site saying that "tires generally should be replaced after six years of
normal service." The company also plans to include similar wording in owner's
manuals starting with the 2006 model year.
Firestone spokeswoman Christine
Karbowiak says the company can't comment on Ford's new recommendation, because
it hasn't seen Ford's research.
Tire makers certainly don't want to
see the six-year rule become any more deeply ingrained. While it might seem that
putting a limit on the lifespan of tires would be a boon to tire makers, who
would presumably sell more tires, the costs and complications it could create
are considerable. Among other things, the industry is worried about the
logistical problems that would arise if customers suddenly started demanding
only the "freshest" tires. In some cases, tires take months to move through
distribution channels from factories -- through wholesalers, and then on to
"We don't have any data to support an
expiration date [for tires]," says Mr. Zielinski of the RMA. He agrees that age
can be a factor in tire performance, but says it shouldn't be used as the sole
reason to determine that a tire is no longer usable.
Mr. Zielinski says Ford went public
with its position without sharing its research with the tire association or
individual tire makers. Ford, in turn, says that it presented its research in
trade publications and at a series of public forums, including a technical
meeting of the rubber division of the American Chemical Society in San Antonio,
Texas, two weeks ago. Ford has also given its research to the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, which is developing a test to simulate the
effects of aging on tires.
Ford's test involves putting inflated
tires into an oven for weeks at a time. The tires are then taken out and studied
to see, among other things, how well the layers of rubber hold together.
Strategic Research wants tires to be
labeled more clearly with the date they were produced, so consumers can better
identify older tires and, ultimately, an explicit expiration date.
TIMOTHY AEPPEL, "Tires
Get An Expiration Date," The Wall Street Journal,
May 31, 2005; Page D1,
Long-Dormant Threat Surfaces: Deaths From Hepatitis C Are
Expected to Jump
In the coming decade, thousands of
baby boomers will get sick from a virus they unknowingly contracted years ago.
Some 8,000 to 10,000 people die each
year from complications related to hepatitis C, the leading cause of chronic
liver disease and liver transplants. The virus is spread through contact with
contaminated blood, usually from dirty needles or, less often, unprotected sex.
The symptoms can include jaundice, abdominal pain and nausea.
In recent decades the number of new
hepatitis C infections in the U.S. has plummeted -- falling 90% since 1989, the
result of improved screening of the blood supply and less sharing of needles by
But the number of deaths related to
hepatitis C is expected to triple in the next 10 years, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. That's because symptoms lie fallow for
decades after infection. Many of the people getting sick today contracted the
virus from the mid-1960s through the 1980s, when infection rates skyrocketed.
Infectious-disease experts say their patients are mainly baby boomers who
probably caught the virus from risky behavior in their youth.
"The majority of my patients
experimented with drugs during the '60s and '70s and now work on Wall Street,"
says Robert S. Brown Jr., medical director for the Center for Liver Disease and
Transplantation at New York Presbyterian Hospital. In fact, two-thirds of people
with hepatitis C are white, male baby boomers who live above the poverty line,
according to the CDC.
As many as four million people in the
U.S. have been infected with hepatitis C, and world-wide 130 million people have
the virus. About 20% clear the virus without the help of drugs. But most people
carry the virus for years without knowing it -- delaying treatment and possibly
risking infecting others.
The Centers for Disease Control
estimates 60% of hepatitis C patients acquired the virus by sharing dirty
needles and syringes while doing drugs. Another 15% got the virus through
unprotected sex, and 10% have been infected through blood transfusions that
occurred before 1992 when a test for the virus was developed. Although rare,
especially in the U.S., hepatitis C can be transmitted through contaminated
devices used for tattoos, body piercing and manicures. There have also been
outbreaks in hospitals when infection-control procedures failed.
Current drug treatments have made
major strides in the past decade, but still work on only about 50% of those
suffering from chronic hepatitis C. The treatment goal is to reduce the amount
of virus in the blood in order to prevent cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
Roche Holding AG of Basel,
Switzerland, is the market leader in treating hepatitis C, followed by
Schering-Plough Corp. of Kenilworth, N.J. Both companies market a combination
therapy using the antiviral drug ribavirin and pegylated interferons, which are
proteins that boost the immune system. The treatment is no fun: Patients endure
weekly injections and daily pills for 48 weeks with flu-like side effects.
Promising new treatments that may
benefit more patients and have fewer side effects are on the horizon. Two small
biotech companies, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc.,
both of Cambridge, Mass., have drug trials under way, though treatments probably
won't be available to patients for several years. Earlier this month, Indenix
announced that in a small clinical trial, its drug -- either alone or combined
with currently available treatments -- slashed the level of hepatitis C virus in
the blood in most patients. Vertex announced results earlier this month from a
preliminary trial involving 34 patients: Five of the participants tested
negative for the hepatitis C virus within two weeks of beginning treatment.
Hepatitis C is just one among a
several hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A, B, D and E. Hepatitis A is
very contagious and is spread via contaminated water and food. But it can be
prevented with a vaccine and isn't life threatening. Hepatitis B can also be
prevented with a vaccine. It is similar to C, though it is more contagious and
more likely to be transmitted sexually. Hepatitis D and E are very rare in the
There is no vaccine to prevent
hepatitis C. The virus was discovered only in 1989, and it wasn't until 1992
that a blood test was developed to detect it. The CDC says that 80% of those
infected never have symptoms. In later stages of the disease, the virus can lead
to cirrhosis, a buildup of scar tissue that blocks blood flow through the organ.
At this stage, many patients need a liver transplant to survive.
In March 2001, Larkin Fowler was
working in mergers and acquisitions for J.P. Morgan when he learned through a
blood test required to join a gym at work and a subsequent doctor's visit that
he had hepatitis C.
Mr. Fowler, now 35, believes he was
infected either in 1989 or 1998. In 1989, he and some fellow college fraternity
members went on a road trip to a football game. "A few too many cocktails and
the next thing you know we all had frat tattoos," says Mr. Fowler. In 1998, he
broke his leg while traveling in Bora Bora and received several shots in a
hospital there. Mr. Fowler thinks it is more likely he was infected by a dirty
needle while receiving medical care in Bora Bora.
Mr. Fowler completed his treatment in
May 2002. He would take his weekly injections on Friday mornings and by the
evening often be in bed with a high fever and chills. But the treatment worked
and he has since been free of the virus.
PAUL DAVIES, "Long-Dormant
Threat Surfaces: Deaths From Hepatitis C Are Expected to Jump," The Wall
May 31, 2005; Page D1,
Despite Vow, Drug Makers Still Withhold Data
When the drug industry came under fire last summer
for failing to disclose poor results from studies of antidepressants, major drug
makers promised to provide more information about their research on new
medicines. But nearly a year later, crucial facts about many clinical trials
remain hidden, scientists independent of the companies say.
Within the drug industry, companies are sharply
divided about how much information to reveal, both about new studies and
completed studies for drugs already being sold. The split is unusual in the
industry, where companies generally take similar stands on regulatory issues.
Eli Lilly and some other companies have posted
hundreds of trial results on the Web and pledged to disclose all results for all
drugs they sell. But other drug makers, including
Pfizer, release less
information and are reluctant to add more, citing competitive pressures.
As a result, doctors and patients lack critical
information about important drugs, academic researchers say, and the companies
can hide negative trial results by refusing to publish studies, or by
cherry-picking and highlighting the most favorable data from studies they do
"There are a lot of public statements from drug
companies saying that they support the registration of clinical trials or the
dissemination of trial results, but the devil is in the details," said Dr.
Deborah Zarin, director of
clinicaltrials.gov, a Web site financed by the
National Institutes of Health that tracks many studies.
Journal editors and academic scientists have pressed
big drug makers to release more information about their studies for years. But
the calls for more disclosure grew stronger after reports last year that several
companies had failed to publish studies that showed their antidepressants worked
no better than placebos.
GlaxoSmithKline agreed to
pay $2.5 million to settle a suit by Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney
general, alleging that Glaxo had hidden results from trials showing that its
antidepressant Paxil might increase suicidal thoughts in children and teenagers.
At a House hearing in September, Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated
executives from several top companies, including Pfizer and
Wyeth, for hiding study
results. In response, many companies promised to do better.
At the same time, Merck and Pfizer have been
criticized for failing to disclose until this year clinical trial results that
indicated that cox-2 painkillers like Vioxx might be dangerous to the heart.
Drug makers test their medicines in thousands of
trials each year, and federal laws require the disclosure of all trials and
trial results to the F.D.A. While too complex for many patients to understand,
the trial results are useful to doctors and academic scientists, who use them to
compare drugs and look for clues to possible side effects. But companies are not
required to disclose trial results to scientists or the public.
Some scientists and lawmakers say new rules are
needed, and a bill that would require the companies to provide more data was
introduced in the Senate in February. So far no hearings have been scheduled on
the legislation. The bill's prospects are uncertain, said a co-sponsor, Senator
Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut.
The drug makers have been criticized both for
failing to provide advance notice of clinical trials before they begin and for
refusing to publish completed trial results for medicines that are already being
The two issues are related, because companies cannot
easily hide the results of trials that have been disclosed in advance, said Dr.
Alan Breier, chief medical officer of Lilly, the company that has gone furthest
in disclosing results.
"You're registering a trial - at some point, the
results have got to show up," Dr. Breier said. He added that disclosing trial
results was important both to give doctors and patients as much information as
possible and to improve the industry's reputation, which has been damaged by
several recent withdrawals of high-profile drugs.
"Fundamentally, what we're doing is in the interest
of patients, and I think that that is the winning model, for academia, for
industry and for the future," he said.
In September, Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America, an industry lobbying group known as PhRMA, said it
would create a site for companies to post the results of completed trials. Then,
under pressure from the editors of medical journals, the major drug companies in
January agreed to expand the number of trials registered on clinicaltrials.gov,
the N.I.H. site, which was originally created so patients with life-threatening
diseases could find out about clinical trials.
But Merck, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, three of the
six largest drug companies, have met the letter but not the spirit of that
agreement, Dr. Zarin said.
The three companies have filed only vague
descriptions of many studies, often failing even to name the drugs under
investigation, Dr. Zarin said. For example, Merck describes one trial as a
"one-year study of an investigational drug in obese patients."
Drug names are crucial, because the
clinicaltrials.gov registry is designed in part to prevent companies from
conducting several trials of a drug, then publicizing the trials with positive
results while hiding the negative ones. If the descriptions do not include drug
names, it is hard to tell how many times a drug has been studied.
"If you're a systematic reviewer trying to
understand all the results for a particular drug, you might never know," Dr.
Zarin said. "You don't know whether you're seeing the one positive result and
not the four negative results - you don't have context."
Pfizer, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline say that they
disclose their largest trials, which determine whether a drug will be approved.
Though they would not discuss their policies in detail, executives and press
representatives at the companies said generally that disclosing too much
information about early-stage trials might reveal business or scientific
Rick Koenig, a spokesman for Glaxo, said the company
understood the concerns about disclosure and planned to add more information to
clinicaltrials.gov. He declined to be more specific, saying Glaxo and other
companies were discussing the issue with regulators and medical journal editors.
In contrast, Lilly has registered all but its
smallest trials at clinicaltrials.gov. Dr. Breier of Lilly said the company
believed that it could protect its intellectual property and still increase the
amount of information it released.
Lilly has also posted the results of many completed
the Web site created last September by PhRMA. That site now contains some
information on nearly 80 drugs that are already on the market. Both Lilly and
Glaxo have posted detailed summaries of hundreds of studies.
Pfizer, on the other hand, has posted only a few,
and Merck has posted none.
All the companies were meeting the group's
guidelines for the site, said Dr. Alan Goldhammer, associate vice president for
regulatory affairs at PhRMA. The lobbying group requires only that its members
post a notice that a trial has been completed and a link to a published study or
a summary of an unpublished study, he said. Studies completed before October
2002 are exempt from the requirements, and PhRMA has not set penalties for
companies that do not comply.
"We're seeing pretty regular posting on a weekly
basis, and as best we can assess right now, things are on track for meeting the
goal we and our members set for ourselves," Dr. Goldhammer said.
The continued gaps in disclosure have caused some
lawmakers to call for new federal laws. The bill introduced in February by Mr.
Dodd and Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, would convert
clinicaltrials.gov into a national registry for both new trials and results and
impose civil penalties of up to $10,000 a day for companies that hide trial
data. But Mr. Dodd said that the chances the bill would pass in this Congress
were even at best.
"I haven't had that pat on the back saying, 'This is
a great idea, let's get going on this as fast as we can,' " Mr. Dodd said.
Dr. David Fassler, a psychiatry professor at the
University of Vermont and a longtime proponent of more disclosure, said that
trial reporting had improved in the last two years. But he said that a central
federally run site, as opposed to the current mix of government and industry
efforts, was the only long-term solution.
ALEX BERENSON "Despite Vow, Drug Makers Still Withhold Data,"
The New York Times, May 31, 2005,
Recalling When Flying Was an Elegant Affair
AS business travel picks up,
British Airways and
Virgin Atlantic have created advertising campaigns to promote their
business-class service to American executives.
Virgin Atlantic's $4.5 million campaign focuses on
the carrier's 16 daily flights out of its nine gateways in the United States.
Each flight has been given a name that evokes the romance and elegance of travel
in years past and is described on new Web sites - one for each flight - and in
ads in regional editions of national magazines.
British Airways' $15 million campaign, which starts
tomorrow, emphasizes its flight attendants' ability to anticipate a customer's
needs. The carrier offers some 40 daily flights out of 19 American cities. It is
British Airways' first campaign created specifically for the United States
business travel market since the summer of 2000.
For both airlines, the stakes are high:
trans-Atlantic traffic originating in the United States generates 40 percent of
Virgin Atlantic's total revenue, while half of all United States revenue comes
from business-class passengers.
Almost two-thirds of British Airways' profit comes
from its trans-Atlantic flights, while business-class sales generate about a
third of its North American revenue. And business-class travel, which weakened
after the burst of the technology bubble and plummeted after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, continues to strengthen. British Airways said its business-
and first-class traffic worldwide rose 1.7 percent in March and 13.3 percent in
The timing of the two campaigns is significant:
Virgin Atlantic's advertising coincides with the final phasing in of its
improved "Upper Class," or business class, service. The airline began offering
this service in late 2003, and plans to make it available on all trans-Atlantic
flights by the end of the year. The service includes an upgraded seat, meals,
in-flight entertainment, and on-board spa and beauty treatments.
Mike Powell, an airline analyst with Dresdner
Kleinwort Wasserstein in London, said British Airways' campaign was intended in
part to respond to Virgin Atlantic's effort to win a greater share of the
lucrative business travel market.
"British Airways is well aware of the fact that it
doesn't have the market-leading trans-Atlantic business-class product," he said.
"It's trying to keep up with Virgin."
A British Airways spokeswoman said the carrier was
expected to announce plans next year "for new seats in business class." It was
British Airways that first introduced a business-class flat bed in 2000, an
innovation that has been widely copied.
Both airlines' campaigns are also meant to counter
increased trans-Atlantic service by United States airlines, Mr. Powell said.
Domestic airlines will increase their trans-Atlantic capacity by 7 percent
summer, while European airlines will increase theirs by only 3 percent,
according to Airline Business, a trade publication.
"British Airways and Virgin want to make sure the
additional capacity doesn't mean they lose premium market share," Mr. Powell
said. "They want to remind U.S. passengers there's a far better product in the
market" than that offered by American airlines, which he said were "unable to
invest in new aircraft and on-board products."
Virgin Atlantic's campaign, created by Crispin
Porter & Bogusky, is running in regional editions of magazines like Fortune,
Condé Nast Traveler and Newsweek. The agency designed a two-page,
black-and-white spread and boarding-card insert with flight details for 8 of its
The concept of naming flights is meant to restore
the "romance and elegance" of an earlier era of travel, when flights were also
named, said Jeff Steinhour, a managing partner at Crispin Porter & Bogusky. The
service out of Washington, D.C., is called "the diplomat," while its daytime
flight out of Newark is called "the wide-eye."
"We wanted to inject personality into individual
flights," Mr. Steinhour said.
To that end, the flights' Web sites show films that
describe each flight experience and provide details of meals and entertainment
offered on each.
The British Airways campaign, created by the New
York office of M&C Saatchi, with an online component by
a unit of the
Omnicom Group, is running
in magazines and on television, billboards and the Internet.
The TV ad - which will appear on the Golf Channel,
Bravo, Fox News and elsewhere - depicts a businessman reclining, in his New York
office, in a British Airways business-class seat. Invisible hands give him a
glass of champagne, canapés and a tissue to clean his glasses when he starts to
wipe them with his tie.
A magazine ad - running in publications like Forbes,
The New Yorker and The Economist - shows two limousine drivers in an airport
terminal, holding signs with the names of their arriving passengers and standing
next to a man clad in white. He is holding a white terry-cloth robe and a sign
with the name of a passenger - and is waiting to provide spa services.
The tagline on all the ads is: "Business class is
different on British Airways."
With this advertising, the airline has gone beyond
promoting its business-class flat beds, the focus of all recent campaigns geared
to business travelers. Instead, the campaign stresses that the airline
anticipates "what our customers look for when they travel," said Elizabeth
Weisser, British Airways' vice president of marketing for North America. "An
enormous number of other carriers have come into the marketplace with
flat-bed-type products similar to ours, and as a result, it was important for us
to differentiate ourselves."
J. Grant Caplan, a corporate travel management
consultant based in Houston, said the campaigns represented the British
airlines' chance "to help defeat companies like US Airways that are on the edge,
or to help further weaken other carriers like United and American."
Mr. Caplan predicted American business travelers
could switch to either British Airways or Virgin if the airlines can shake their
interest in their frequent flier programs. It will be easier to convert
executives whose employers do not control their travel-buying decisions as well
as infrequent travelers, who are not as vested in loyalty programs, he said.
JANE L. LEVERE, "Recalling When Flying Was an Elegant Affair,"
The New York Times, May 31, 2005,
Up and Down on Tuition
Conventional wisdom has it that tuition rates will
go up every year at private colleges by a little more than the rate of
inflation. Some colleges struggling for enrollment will cut rates every now and
then, but the norm is a steady increase — but not too much in any one year. This
year, many leading private colleges are
announcing increases in
the 4-5 percent range.
Two private institutions this year, however, have
prepared for substantial changes in tuition policy for the next academic year.
The University of Richmond, which aspires to join the top ranks for private
colleges, is increasing total charges by 27 percent for freshmen, to $40,510,
effectively ending a longstanding policy of being thousands of dollars less
expensive than its competitors. (Current students will face only a 5 percent
increase and their base will be grandfathered while they are students.)
Roosevelt University, a Chicago institution that serves many nontraditional
students, is cutting tuition — and linking the cut to how many courses a student
takes, so that students have an incentive to take more courses and to graduate
Data from the admissions and registration cycles
just completed suggest that both colleges are achieving some of the financial
and academic goals of their unconventional tuition policies. Richmond has
commitments from a comparably sized freshman class for the fall, despite its
huge tuition increase. And Roosevelt students have signed up for more courses in
the fall than in previous semesters. Officials at the two colleges say that
their experiences suggest the extent to which price does and does not influence
Price Insensitivity at Richmond
William E. Cooper, the president at Richmond, says
he realizes that his university’s cost increase “superficially seems
outrageous.” But he said that he became convinced that Richmond “was about
$7,000 underpriced” and that the additional revenue would allow for more
financial aid and improvements in facilities and academic programs. “We could
dink around with this and ramp it up a little each year, but we decided it was
better to bite the bullet, to realign this and stay in place, rather than
But what of student choices, and the widespread
public and political fear that high prices discourage students? With certain
student segments, that’s flat out false, Cooper says. Richmond found, he said,
that it was losing students to more expensive institutions and enrolling
students whose parents were willing to spend more than Richmond was charging.
“We were leaving money on the table,” Cooper says.
“We had all these people with a kid at Dartmouth or a kid at Syracuse, and a kid
here, and we were the cheap school.”
Cooper also rejects the idea that a low price can be
a recruiting tool. He acknowledges that Richmond probably picked up a few
students over the years who might have been too wealthy to qualify for financial
aid at a Duke or Vanderbilt or Emory, but who were attracted by the lower prices
at Richmond. “The question is, are they going to be there for us in the future”
as alumni donors? Cooper says. “They are too finely tuned to the financial,” he
The results of the first admissions cycle suggest to
Cooper that the tuition increase worked. Final numbers will shift a bit as
Richmond gains or loses a few students due to other colleges’ wait list
decisions. But right now, 770 students have paid deposits to enroll as freshmen
in the fall, the same number as last year. Applications were down (to 5,779,
from a record 6,236). So the admissions rate rose (to 47 percent from 40
percent) and the yield — the percentage of admitted students who enroll — was
down a bit (to 28 percent from 31 percent). Minority enrollments appear down
slightly, to 12 percent from 13 percent.
But Cooper points out that measures of academic
quality didn’t change. Last year, the middle 50 percent of SAT scores was
1250-1390 and the average high school grade-point average was 3.52, and figures
from this year’s admitted class suggest that the figures will be almost
“There was bound to be a one-year shakeout,” Cooper
says of the drop in the number of applications, but the class entering is not
only as smart as the previous class, but appears to have many families that can
afford Richmond’s new rates and want to pay them.
“One of the strong philosophical bents of this
change was the price insensitivity of people who really care about higher
education,” Cooper says. “Just like people buy the best cappuccino maker if they
really care, so with higher education. If you really care, a couple thousand
bucks isn’t in the decision maker and that’s the student and family we want.”
Price and Graduation Rates at Roosevelt
At Roosevelt, the students aren’t necessarily buying
a lot of cappuccino makers. And enrollments have been healthy for the
institution, at about 7,500 head count, with 60 percent of students as
undergraduates, many of them working adults.
Mary E. Hendry, vice president for enrollment and
student services, says that the university’s problem is with graduation rates.
Currently only about 40 percent of students graduate within six years, and the
university would like to raise that proportion to 50 percent.
Hendry says that it is better for students and the
university if they move through the academic programs at a brisker pace. “We
decided to use tuition to encourage them to take more so they would graduate
within four years,” she says.
Historically, Roosevelt has charged tuition on a
per-credit basis, and for next year, the per-credit figure will go up 7.3
percent, to $755. But the university is setting special fees to discourage
students from taking almost enough courses to graduate on time, and to encourage
them to instead take enough to earn their degrees.
Students taking 12 credits a semester will be
charged at a rate that would equal $14,180 for a year, an increase of 10.2
percent over last year’s per-credit rate. But those who take 15 credits will be
charged the exact same amount for a year of courses, a decrease of 11.8 percent
in what students would have paid last year. (Students who take 16 credits will
pay a little more, but will also be paying 11.8 percent than in previous years.)
Typically, students register for about 30,000 credit
hours in a semester at Roosevelt. For the fall, the first semester under the new
plan, it appears that there will be an increase of 1,000 credit hours — while
enrollment is holding steady.
“I think this shows that we are reaching students,”
says Hendry. “We can use these policies to change graduation rates over the long
Scott Jaschik "Up
and Down on Tuition," Inside Higher Ed, May 31, 2005,
Arthur Andersen conviction overturned
The Supreme Court on
Tuesday overturned the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for
destroying Enron Corp.-related documents before the energy giant's collapse.
In a unanimous opinion, justices said the former Big
Five accounting firm's June 2002 conviction was improper.
The court said the jury instructions at trial were
too vague and broad for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen
"The jury instructions here were flawed in important
respects," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court.
The ruling is a setback for the Bush administration,
which made prosecution of white-collar criminals a high priority following
accounting scandals at major corporations.
After Enron's 2001 collapse, the Justice Department
went after Andersen first.
Enron crashed in December 2001, putting more than
5,000 employees out of work, just six weeks after the energy company revealed
massive losses and writedowns.
Subsequently, as the Securities and Exchange
Commission began looking into Enron's convoluted finances, Andersen put in
practice a policy calling for destroying unneeded documentation.
Government attorneys argued that Andersen should be
held responsible for instructing its employees to "undertake an unprecedented
campaign of document destruction."
"Arthur Andersen conviction overturned,"
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Posted: 10:28 AM EDT (1428 GMT)
Photo from playboy-themed party grabs alumni's
Photo From Playboy-Themed Party Grabs Alumni's
Attention Female High School Seniors Show Up Wearing Skimpy Lingerie
HOUSTON -- A racy photo from a high school
party with a Playboy theme has sent alumni of the school into shock, Houston
television station KPRC reported.
Some Memorial High School alumni told the station
the so-called "Playboy Party" went too far, saying the theme was too hot for
teens. However, students who attended the party disagree, saying it was all
"It doesn't put off the best impression. It doesn't
make me want my kids to go there," 1994 Memorial High graduate Sabra Boone said.
Boon said senior men throw a theme party that is not
sanctioned by the school. This year's theme was the Playboy mansion.
Parents are upset after a Playboy-themed party that
had girls dressing in revealing outfits.
While one student, who asked not to be identified,
told the station a dress code for the party was not established, some of the
girls showed up in skimpy lingerie.
Boone, along with other alumni, said she received a
picture from the party in an e-mail.
"Everyone is shocked," Boone said.
One parent, whose son attended the party, told the
station the senior boys tried hard to throw a fun, safe party, explaining it was
held at a private venue with chaperones and police. Attendees were required to
sign waivers promising not to drink alcohol.
Boone said girls wore formals to a similar party she
attended during her senior year. She told the station she is disappointed in
Memorial High School's 2005 senior class.
"Regardless, the girls are hardly wearing any
clothes. I just couldn't believe their parents would let them out of the house
like that," Boone said.
from playboy-themed party grabs alumni's attention,"
Free Republic, May 24, 2005,
'Deep Throat' Is Identified
Magazine Article Identifies Watergate Source
After more than 30 years of silence, the most
famous anonymous source in American history, Deep Throat, has identified himself
to a reporter at Vanity Fair.
W. Mark Felt, 91, an assistant director at the FBI
in the 1970s, has told reporter John D. O'Connor that he is "the man known as
O'Connor told ABC News in an interview today that
Felt had for years thought he was a dishonorable man for talking to Bob
Woodward, a reporter for The Washington Post during Watergate. Woodward's
coverage of the scandal, written with Carl Bernstein, led to the resignation of
"Mark wants the public respect, and wants to be
known as a good man," O'Connor said. "He's very proud of the bureau, he's very
proud of the FBI. He now knows he is a hero."
The identity of Deep Throat, the source for details
about Nixon's Watergate cover-up, has been called the best-kept secret in the
history of Washington D.C., or at least in the history of politics and
journalism. Only four people were said to know the source's identity: Woodward;
Bernstein; Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of the Post; and, of course,
Deep Throat himself.
Both Bradlee and Bernstein have refused to confirm
to ABC News that Felt is Deep Throat.
Woodward would also neither confirm nor deny the
"There's a principle involved here," he told ABC
News. He and Bernstein promised not to reveal Deep Throat's identity until the
Despite years of feelings of negativity and
ambivalence, O'Connor said, Felt's family has helped him realize that "he is a
hero" and "that it is good what he did."
In his 1979 book, "The FBI Pyramid: From the
Inside," Felt flat-out denied that he was the famous source.
"I would have done better," Felt told The Hartford
Courant in 1999. "I would have been more effective. Deep Throat didn't exactly
bring the White House crashing down, did he?"
Throughout the years, politicians and journalists
have guessed at Deep Throat's identity.
Contenders included Gen. Al Haig, who was a popular
choice for a long time, especially when he was running for president in 1988.
Haig was Nixon's chief of staff and secretary of state under President Reagan.
Woodward finally said publicly that Haig was not
Deep Throat. Other contenders mentioned frequently, besides Felt, included Henry
Kissinger; CIA officials Cord Meyer and William E. Colby; and FBI officials L.
Patrick Gray, Charles W. Bates and Robert Kunkel.
In "All the President's Men," the 1974 movie of the
Watergate scandal, Woodward and Bernstein described their source as holding an
extremely sensitive position in the executive branch.
The source was dubbed "Deep Throat" by Post managing
editor Howard Simons after the notorious porn film.
Copyright © 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures, "'Deep Throat' Is
Identified," ABC News, May 31, 2005,
TIDBITS JUNE 1, 2005
Andersen Decision Is Bittersweet
When former Arthur Andersen LLP
senior manager Bill Strathmann heard that the Supreme Court had overturned
Andersen's criminal conviction yesterday, he immediately relayed the news to his
wife, father, brother and friends. On an email chain including 17 former
Andersen partners and employees from Andersen's old Tysons Corner, Va., office,
terms like "three years too late," "vindication" and "unbelievable" were
While the damage has been done, Mr.
Strathmann, now chief executive of a nonprofit organization, said, "this
decision is still good for the legacy of Arthur Andersen."
In chat rooms, Web logs and emails
yesterday, many former employees voiced similar opinions about the Supreme
Court's unanimous decision to overturn the 2002 criminal conviction of Andersen
tied to its botched audits of Enron Corp. The court ruled that jurors used too
loose a standard of culpability against the once-venerable accounting firm.
Still, the Supreme Court's decision isn't likely to revive Arthur Andersen -- or
help former partners pull out their remaining capital any time soon.
The firm lost its license to practice
in Texas and some other states shortly after its June 2002 conviction, and by
the fall of 2002 had surrendered the rest of its licenses. Today, Andersen has
fewer than 200 employees, down from 85,000 world-wide before its fall. Most work
to wrap up lawsuits pending against the firm.
The accounting debacles at Enron and
WorldCom Inc., another Andersen client, have permanently etched a negative
perception of the firm in many people's minds. Among the most vivid images:
Workers in Andersen's Houston office shredding tons of documents connected to
long-valuable client Enron; or, months later, the news of WorldCom's collapse
into bankruptcy from an $11 billion accounting fraud, the nation's largest.
Still, the decision marks a win to
some former employees. In her Web log, Mary Trigiani, a communications
consultant in San Francisco who previously wrote speeches for Andersen
executives, typed yesterday: "This is an enormous vindication of the majority of
the people who embodied the vision and values of the venerable organization --
but not of the few managers who enabled Andersen's destruction."
In some ways, "a stigma has been
lifted," said Marc Andersen, a former Andersen partner who organized a
1,000-person rally in Washington in 2002 to protest the Justice Department
For many, the ruling is bittersweet.
Douglas J. DeRito, a former partner in Andersen's Atlanta office, saw his career
derailed. He had invested $500,000 in the firm, where he worked for eight years,
to buy his partnership stake. "I've been through over two years of hell," said
Mr. DeRito, now an executive director with a small Atlanta firm. "We Andersen
partners worked a significant amount of our professional careers to get to the
level of partner," and then "the Justice Department took the carpet out from
under us." Andersen had about 1,700 partners in the U.S., some of whom had
invested as much as $3 million.
Because of a mountain of litigation
for the blowups at Enron and WorldCom, the pickings remain slim for ex-partners.
A stipulation in a recent $65 million settlement with investors of WorldCom (now
MCI Inc.) provides that the plaintiffs will receive 20% of any money remaining
in Andersen's coffers after other cases are settled. The Supreme Court's
decision seemingly does little to improve Andersen's standing in cases where the
firm is being sued for negligent audit work.
"Clearly the firm failed," said Barry
Melancon, president of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants,
which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Andersen. The vindication
is only that "the firm as a whole is not guilty in this situation."
DIYA GULLAPALLI, "Andersen
Decision Is Bittersweet For Ex-Workers," The Wall Street Journal,
June 1, 2005; Page A6,
A New Low Price For Broadband
SBC to Offer High-Speed Internet
Service for $14.95 a Month; Rivals Face Pressure to Follow
In an aggressive move to cut
the cost of high-speed Internet access, the nation's second-largest phone
company plans to start charging $14.95 a month for new customers -- making
broadband service less expensive than some dial-up plans.
The move by
SBC Communications Inc.,
announced today, may compel competitors to follow suit. Cable companies
currently dominate the high-speed business, but typically charge considerably
more for the service, often $40 or more a month. The basic broadband plan at
Comcast Corp. for
instance, is $42.95. Traditionally, cable companies justify those prices by the
fact that their connections are among the fastest available -- as much as triple
the speed of a high-speed connection provided by a phone company like SBC. (Even
the slowest broadband connection is roughly 25 times as fast as dial-up.)
Analysts say SBC's move marks the
first time broadband service has been broadly offered at a significantly less
expensive rate than AOL's dial-up service. More than half of the 77 million U.S.
households with Internet access still use dial-up connections, such as
Time Warner Inc.'s AOL,
which charges $23.90 per month.
The SBC price cut comes as the telecom
industry is confronting sharply increased competition from cable-TV companies
and Internet start-ups. In addition, fast-changing technologies, such as
inexpensive Internet-based telephone services, are undercutting their
traditional phone business. Telcom companies have also seen a sharp decline of
their traditional local-phone business, as customers have begun using cellphones
and email. The industry has responded so far by consolidating, triggering $150
billion of mergers and acquisitions in the past 18 months.
Cable companies officials said
yesterday that they don't need to respond to price cuts by the phone companies
because they say cable broadband service is faster and more efficient than
telephone broadband service. "If price were the only thing that mattered to
everyone, we'd all be driving Yugos," says a spokesman for
Cox Communications Inc.,
the country's third-largest cable operator. (DSL service is basically a souped-up
phone line, whereas cable broadband is transmitted over the cable-TV network,
which has higher capacity than copper phone lines.)
But some analysts say the cable
industry may soon be forced to respond. "As broadband reaches deeper into the
mass market, the service needs to appeal to more price-sensitive customers,"
says Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
SBC's offer is open to subscribers of
the company's local phone service in its 13-state service area, which includes
California, Texas and Connecticut. To be eligible, customers must sign up for
the plan online at www.sbc.com. SBC was already offering some of the lowest cost
broadband service available among large cable and telephone companies, at $19.95
With its price cut, SBC is essentially
in a land-grab mode, leaving the company more concerned with adding customers
than increasing broadband profitability. SBC declines to say whether its
broadband operations are profitable.
The company is seeking to broaden its
base of 5.6 million subscribers to its high-speed service, known as digital
subscriber line, or DSL. Signing up for DSL doesn't require that a customer have
a second phone line. However, in most cases it does require users to have at
least one phone-line subscription.
SBC's $14.95 offer isn't a temporary
promotion, the company says. Frequently, rivals have offered similarly low
prices, but mainly as temporary promotions that expired after a period of time.
There are 34.5 million broadband
subscribers nationwide, a figure that analysts expect will nearly double in the
next four years.
The telecom companies have steadily
lowered prices on broadband service in the past two years, sometimes through
special promotions, in hopes of catching up to cable providers, which were the
first to offer broadband and maintain a substantial edge over DSL providers.
Currently, there are more than 21.1 million cable-broadband subscribers,
compared with about roughly 15 million DSL subscribers, though estimates vary.
The phone companies' tactic seems to
be working. In the first quarter of this year, of the 2.6 million new broadband
subscribers, 192,655 more turned to DSL over cable, according to Leichtman
Research Group Inc., a media-markets research firm based in Durham, N.C.
Television and Gaming
Broadband is all the more important
for phone companies such as SBC because new services that they are beginning to
offer, such as television and gaming, are increasingly going to run over the
companies' broadband networks. The more broadband customers phone companies
have, the more additional services they can sell to them down the road, the
logic goes. For instance, SBC is getting into the TV business in direct
competition with cable companies. Phone companies without large numbers of
broadband subscribers could find themselves without a sizable market for new
products and services.
"We're trying to expand the market for
broadband as much as we can," says Ed Cholerton, an SBC vice president of
consumer marketing for broadband.
DIONNE SEARCEY, "A New
Low Price For Broadband," The Wall Street Journal,
June 1, 2005; Page D1,
The New Post 9/11 Graduates -- Standing up for
Memorial Day has several different meanings for
Americans. For some, we were spending a weekend reflecting, reminiscing and
reminding ourselves about the sacrifices our family members, neighbors, and
fellow Americans made as soldiers for our nation. At the same time, many of us
were also focusing our attention on our children, nieces, nephews and for many,
our grandchildren who are preparing themselves to take the final walk across
their high school or college graduation stage.
One of the questions these new graduates have to be
pondering has to be "what nation and world are we graduating into"? For young
people it has to be fraught with some sense of peril. These post 9/11 graduates
are inheriting a nation that lived through the most vicious attack on our nation
since that horrible day of December 7th, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed
without warning and without provocation.
This horrible event from so long ago can certainly
be a guide for the young graduates of today. I point purposely to this past
Memorial Day weekend, because it is at this time that families typically gather
around and share some very special moments with parents, grandparents and a host
of family and friends who pour through the family photos to point out perhaps
their now aged warriors of World War II. Perhaps they point to an uncle or
grandparent who did not return home to his native soil and now lies buried in a
U.S. cemetery on foreign soil
Perhaps, the family visited their local cemetery
where their father or uncle or even aunt or grandmother now lies buried, a
former soldier who served, who fought, and who sacrificed for their nation,
because it was the right thing to do...because it was the American thing to do.
Perhaps they visited a hospital with the soon to be
graduate and sat on the side of the bed with an aging grandparent or father who
was a soldier in the fox hole or perhaps a pilot or a tail gunner in one of the
flying fortresses from the Second World War. The parent's son or daughter may
have sat quietly and listened to stories spun from long buried memories of acts
of bravery, mixed with a little bit of fear, but a whole lot of courage. Maybe
the young adult son stood up and just as he was getting ready to leave his
hospital room, he turned and saluted his grandfather, and thanked him for his
gift to our nation, to his community and to his family.
Your daughter may have asked the question at the
backyard barbeque on Memorial Day, "What about women? " as she passed the photos
of the women in the family who also sacrificed during those tumultuous war
years. What did Grandmother Christina or Aunt Cynthia do when they were a Wave
or a WAC during World War II? In listening she probably learned that perhaps the
times her grandmother grew up in were not much different from the times now as
she is about to step across the graduation.
These young high school and college graduates also
remember hearing an American President make a steely firm declaration about
dealing with those who were responsible for bringing terror to our home shores.
They saw a determined President Bush seem to echo the words from another
generation...and spoken by another American President. The emotions of
patriotism ran high then on December 8, 1941, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt
said to a joint Session of Congress:
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will
live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately
attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise
offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and
today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed
their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety
of our nation.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this
premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win
through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress
and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the
uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never
again endanger us."
Those graduates of 1945 heard those words and many
by the tens of thousands left high school or college and answered the call to
make those who attacked America pay for their treachery.
Sixty years later, the soon to be graduates are
remembering the fateful remarks from President Bush as he too addressed the
American public and comforted and rallied a nation that was also the victim of
an air attack.
President Bush as President Roosevelt before him
also addressed the nation, " Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way
of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly
terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries,
businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and
neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of
A great people has been moved to defend a great
nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings,
but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but
they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
Some of our greatest moments have been acts of
courage for which no one could have ever prepared.
We cannot know every turn this battle will take. Yet
we know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured. We will, no
doubt, face new challenges. But we have our marching orders: My fellow
Americans, let's roll. "
So you see, the young people in America from two
different generations share a common thread. That is the common thread of
freedom and of patriotism. These young people who you may have thought were not
listening or paying attention to you as you pored through those photo albums and
pointed out the family members in uniform who smiled back through the ages at
you... were listening
These young graduates are, according to a recent CBS
report, ditching over three decades of "Me'ism" and sensing a true obligation to
give something back to their nation. So this post 9/11 generation is listening
to the clarion call beating loudly within their own heart for helping their
These young people are pausing to examine what
exactly their obligation is to improving, to bettering, to protecting and to
standing up for advancing our nation, and that is honorable and commendable.
They are not doing what others have done
before...holding their hand outstretched and asking..."How much are you going to
pay me first."
Hopefully those narrow self-absorbed Neanderthals
are dying off in America. You know the ones, and hopefully you didn't raise one.
These are the selfish non-patriots...who merely turn their head and leave the
seriousness of defending the nation and making the world free for Democracy to
"those patsies and saps" because it is after all...someone else's' job.
But that's fine, because like Revolutionary War hero
Samuel Adams said: "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of
servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in
peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand
that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
Patriotism is making a comeback with the post-9/11
graduates and they like their grandparents before them may truly become the next
Kevin Fobbs, "The
New Post 9/11 Graduates -- Standing up for Patriotism,"
Free Republic, June 1, 2005,
Can Rev. Al be Limbaugh's air apparent?
Could there be any odder couple than Rush Limbaugh and
Al Sharpton? Not if I have anything to do with it.
Last week - after Matrix Media announced a deal for
Sharpton to host a "Limbaugh of the Left"-type talk radio show - the
conservative radio star said he'll think about mentoring the minister in the
finer points of the medium.
Yesterday, Sharpton contacted me to say he's eager
to accept the sort-of offer to (as Limbaugh put it on his own show Friday) "let
[Sharpton] guest-host the program for, like, 30 minutes at a time while I am
sitting here critiquing him."
Sharpton told me: "I was a little surprised, but I'm
willing to take him up on his speculative offer. I think it would be
interesting. It would be something that both of us can learn from. He can learn
some of the thoughts of the left, and I can learn some of the techniques of the
right. Let's see if he's serious."
(Excerpt) Read more at
Rev. Al be Limbaugh's air apparent?," Free
[The article below reads just like
"Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand---Debbie]
Dairy gets squeezed by the feds
In its 85 years of existence, Smith Brothers Dairy in
Kent has survived all manner of misfortune and mistakes.
There was the Depression, when milk sales plummeted.
There were cow-killing floods. There were modern times, when it appeared the
old-fashioned idea of fresh milk delivered to the doorstep had died.
And there was the crackdown when society realized
cow manure could be as toxic to fish as anything produced at a nuclear plant.
"None of that compares to this," says Alexis Smith
Koester, 60, dairy president and granddaughter of the founder, Ben Smith. "This
is the biggest threat we've ever faced."
She's talking about the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed new
rules that could force Smith Brothers to either give up half its business or
close up shop entirely, Koester says.
What are the feds trying to stop? They're trying to
keep Smith Brothers Dairy from selling its milk for less.
And we call this a capitalist country.
The dairy, which is small enough that the president
answered the phone when I called, is being punished for doing too much too well.
For 75 years, milk has been heavily regulated by
price and marketing controls.
People who know more about it than I do say the
system works well. It protects those who own only one part of the milk business
— say, a farmer with cows but no milk-processing plant — from being gouged by
But Smith Brothers has always been exempt from these
regulations because it is so independent. It does it all. It is one of only 11
dairies left in the Northwest that raise and milk the cows as well as pasteurize
and bottle the milk.
Its business model is so antiquated that most
dairies like it long since went under.
Smith Brothers survived by discovering that what was
old is new again. Home delivery of milk is hot. Especially if people know who
owns the cows so there's a guarantee no growth hormones were used.
Remarkably, Smith Brothers now delivers milk to
40,000 homes in and around Seattle, the most in its history. And it is so
efficient it does so at the same or lower prices you get in many stores.
Yet the feds, backed by the biggest dairy processors
in the West, want to force Smith Brothers and other do-it-yourself dairies to
sell through the government-regulated system. They say this will help the small
farmers who already sell milk to big processors.
But Smith Brothers, no milk monopoly with just 1
percent of the market, would have to pay subsidies to its competitors that
exceed the dairy's yearly profit. Or it would have to break up its business, and
no longer provide its unique cow-to-carton-to-doorstep service.
So what we have is the government, prodded by large
corporations, saying it is helping small family farms by destroying one of our
most successful small family farms.
Come to think of it, I guess that is American-style
capitalism after all.
Danny Westneat, "Dairy
gets squeezed by the feds," Free Republic (from The Seattle Times),
June 3, 2005,
BMG Cracks Piracy Whip
NEW YORK -- As part of
its mounting U.S. rollout of content-enhanced and copy-protected CDs, Sony BMG
Music Entertainment is testing technology solutions that bar consumers from
making additional copies of burned CD-R discs.
Since March the company has released at least 10
commercial titles -- more than 1 million discs in total -- featuring technology
from U.K. anti-piracy specialist First4Internet that allows consumers to make
limited copies of protected discs, but blocks users from making copies of the
The concept is known as "sterile burning." And in
the eyes of Sony BMG executives, the initiative is central to the industry's
efforts to curb casual CD burning.
"The casual piracy, the school yard piracy, is a
huge issue for us," says Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business for
Sony BMG. "Two-thirds of all piracy comes from ripping and burning CDs, which is
why making the CD a secure format is of the utmost importance."
Names of specific titles carrying the technology
were not disclosed. The effort is not specific to First4Internet. Other Sony BMG
partners are expected to begin commercial trials of sterile burning within the
To date, most copy protection and other digital
rights management-based solutions that allow for burning have not included
Early copy-protected discs as well as all Digital
Rights Management-protected files sold through online retailers like iTunes,
Napster and others offer burning of tracks into unprotected WAV files. Those
burned CDs can then be ripped back onto a personal computer minus a DRM wrapper
and converted into MP3 files.
Under the new solution, tracks ripped and burned
from a copy-protected disc are copied to a blank CD in Microsoft's Windows Media
Audio format. The DRM embedded on the discs bars the burned CD from being
"The secure burning solution is the sensible way
forward," First4Internet CEO Mathew Gilliat-Smith says. "Most consumers accept
that making a copy for personal use is really what they want it for. The
industry is keen to make sure that is not abused by making copies for other
people that would otherwise go buy a CD."
As with other copy-protected discs, albums featuring
XCP, or extended copy protection, will allow for three copies to be made.
However, Sony BMG has said it is not locked into the
number of copies. The label is looking to offer consumers a fair-use replication
of rights enjoyed on existing CDs.
A key concern with copy-protection efforts remains
It is a sticking point at Sony BMG and other labels
as they look to increase the number of copy-protected CDs they push into the
Among the biggest headaches: Secure burning means
that iPod users do not have any means of transferring tracks to their device,
because Apple Computer has yet to license its FairPlay DRM for use on
As for more basic CD player compatibility issues,
Gilliat-Smith says the discs are compliant with Sony Philips CD specifications
and should therefore play in all conventional CD players.
The moves with First4Internet are part of a larger
copy-protection push by Sony BMG that also includes SunnComm and its MediaMax
To date, SunnComm has been the music giant's primary
partner on commercial releases -- including Velvet Revolver's
Contraband and Anthony Hamilton's solo album. In all, more than 5.5
million content-enhanced and protected discs have been shipped featuring
First4Internet's XCP has been used previously on
prerelease CDs only. Sony BMG is the first to commercially deploy XCP.
First4Internet's other clients -- which include
Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and EMI -- are using XCP for
Sony BMG expects that by year's end a substantial
number of its U.S. releases will employ either MediaMax or XCP. All
copy-protected solutions will include such extras as photo galleries, enhanced
liner notes and links to other features.
Reuters, "BMG Cracks Piracy Whip,"
Wired News, 03:00 PM May. 31, 2005 PT,
Taking a Load Off While You Drive
As you pack your bags to hit the road this weekend,
don't forget the swimsuit, sun block and driving directions. And hit the loo
before you buckle up because record numbers of Americans will be right there
with you heading out on vacation. Or you could do as some Brits do and pack a
portable toilet to use in the car.
Two British engineers have invented the Indipod, an
inflatable in-car toilet powered by a cigarette lighter. After plugging into the
car's lighter, the bubble toilet or "private sanitary sanctuary" inflates to an
area about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide and is sufficient to accommodate two
people. When not in use, the portable toilet folds away into a bag the size of a
suitcase and weighs 22 pounds.
"We are on the road a lot and built one for
ourselves and actually used it as we were developing it," said James Shippen,
inventor and co-founder of the Indipod. Their 15 prototypes led to the
masterpiece, which works best in SUVs or minivans.
End to Long Bathroom Queues
Launched last November in Britain, the
toilet-on-the-go is available online for $376, not including shipping.
"Originally in the United States, we sold these for
people with medical conditions like Chron's disease," Shippen said, "but a lot
of families are inquiring about them now."
Chron's disease is a progressive, inflammatory
disease of the bowel. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and pain, which
means unpredictable and frequent pit stops.
But getting to a satisfactory pit stop on the road
can be a trying experience for anyone. Hygiene in run-down, badly lit truck
stops leaves a lot to be desired along the nation's busy highways. Most women's
facilities have endless lines and the smelly stalls have most people gasping for
fresh air as they zip up.
So if you are on the go this summer, the Indipod Web
site claims there's no need to twist yourself in knots counting down the miles
before finding relief, "the Indipod will keep you on course."
Don't Let Your Bladder Do the Driving
With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start of
the summer driving season, motorists may be complaining about rising prices at
the pump but it's not keeping them home. AAA estimates that approximately 31.1
million travelers (84 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to travel by
motor vehicle this weekend, a 2.2 percent increase from the 30.5 million who
drove a year ago.
Overall, 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles
or more from home this holiday, a slight increase from a year ago. Shippen hopes
to find some new customers among these driving droves.
"There's usually a giggle factor when
people hear about our loo but often those same people become our customers
saying, 'I could use one of those,' " said Shippen, remarking on the numerous
"dirty" jokes he's gotten about the toilet-on-the-go.
The unit doesn't come with a seat belt so Shippen
advises hitting the brakes and parking before you "unload." In 30 seconds, your
loo's hygiene bubble inflates and you climb in. The others in the car cannot see
An air fan supposedly keeps bathroom noises and
odors sealed in but air fresheners may also be a good investment. If the long
road beckons and you want to stay on course, the Indipod can handle eight
visitors in one day or one person for eight days or two people for four days.
Road-Tested and Approved
Shippen and co-founder Barbara May road tested their
invention themselves recently by driving across Europe from north to south.
"We traveled 2,200 miles in just over a week and
never left the car at all," he said.
Food and their trusty toilet got them from Scotland
to the boot of Italy. They stopped at gas stations to fill up their tank and at
campsites to "de-fuel" their Indipod.
The duo plans to test their car "port-a-pottie" in
the wide expanse of the United States this year by driving cross-country from
New York to San Diego.
Their car port-a-pottie will certainly get lots of
use, although it may discourage any notion of car-pooling. And before hitting
the road with the Indipod, there is one more critical item to remember to take
along -- toilet paper.
CHARLOTTE SECTOR, "Taking a Load Off While You Drive,"
ABC News (Copyright © 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures),
May. 27, 2005,
Forwarded by a guy who's old enough for this cruise
Boy have I got the best investment for you!! Just read on.
About 2 years ago my wife and I were on a cruise through the western
Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderly lady
sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining room. I
also noticed that all the staff, ships officers, waiters, busboys, etc., all
seemed very familiar with this lady. I asked our waiter who the lady was,
expecting to be told she owned the line, but he said he only knew that she had
been on board for the last four cruises, back to back As we left the dining room
one evening I caught her eye and stopped to say hello. We chatted and I said, "I
understand you've been on this ; ship for the last four cruises". She replied,
"Yes, that's true." I stated, "I don't understand" and she replied, without a
pause, "It's cheaper than a nursing home". So, there will be no nursing home in
my future. When I get old and feeble, I am going to get on a Princess Cruise
Ship. The average cost for a nursing home is $200 per day. I have checked on
reservations at Princess and I can get a long term discount and senior discount
price of $135 per day. That leaves $65 a day for: 1. Gratuities which will only
be $10 per day. 2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to the
restaurant, or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast in bed
every day of the week).
3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room, free washers
and dryers, and shows every night. 4. They have free toothpaste and razors, and
free soap and shampoo. 5. They will even treat you like a customer, not a
patient. An extra $5 worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help
you. 6. I will get to meet new people every 7 or 14 days. 7. T.V. broken? Light
bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress replaced? No Problem! They will
fix everything and apologize for your inconvenience. 8. Clean sheets and towels
every day, and you don't even have to ask for them. 9. If you fall in the
nursing home and break a hip you are on Medicare; if you fall and break a hip on
the Princess ship they will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.
Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama Canal,
Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, A sia, or name where you want to go? Princess
will have a ship ready to go. So don't look for me in a nursing home, just call
shore to ship.
PS And don't forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side at no
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