Tidbits on June 2, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

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

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


Music for the quiet of summer:  Always --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/always.htm

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




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 barber shop.

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 --- http://pbskids.org/wayback/tech1900/snapshot.html




"The Fastest, Easiest Way to Transfer Files," by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2005; Page B5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111767035411148779,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

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 www.detto.com .

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 ( www.eisenworld.com ). 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 D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111749978324446653,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

The Problem: You lost the key for a rental car.

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 agency charges.

One other note: If the lost key is due to another person's mistake, the rental agency may not hold you responsible for the costs.

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.


Fun Facts About Higher Education
Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, June 2, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/06/02/condition

For those with a little less time to browse, the department also released The Condition of Education in Brief 2005 --- http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005095


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 perform colonoscopies.
Karen Epper Hoffman, "Learning to Crawl," MIT's Technology Review, May 31, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/05/wo/wo_053105hoffman.asp?trk=nl


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 --- http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0605/hanson060205.php3


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 --- http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050531/full/050531-4.html


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 enjoy.
Eric Hellweg, "Pdcasters Tune Into Apple," MIT's Technology Review, May 26, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/05/wo/wo_052605hellweg.asp?trk=nl


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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/06/02/survey


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 --- http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/5/31/120014.shtml


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 --- http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/5/30/84930.shtml


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 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8017908/site/newsweek/


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 --- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1066904,00.html
Bob Jensen's threads on the Wiki and Wikipedia are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Wiki


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 --- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1066902,00.html


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," http://boortz.com/more/commencement.html


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 "xenophobes".
"Framingham Selectmen Censor Speech Against Illegal Aliens," MassNews.com, May 30, 2005 --- http://massnews.com/2005_editions/5_may/52705_framingham_censors.htm


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 ---
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.06/posts.html?pg=6?tw=wn_tophead_1


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 --- http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2670176?htv=12&htv=12


We became teachers to profess ideals and despise having to grub for a living
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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/06/01/caesar


Tidbits forwarded by my secretary, Debbie Bowling

Graduation gown marks four generations of learning
CARLISLE, 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 Depression.

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 college alumni.

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 graduate degrees.

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 tradition.

"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, http://snipurl.com/gradgwn0525

 

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.

In a 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, http://snipurl.com/upres0525

 

'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 05/25/2005, http://snipurl.com/stpd0525
 

Paying for Health Care in the Emeritus Years
Fidelity 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 scores of other institutions are considering joining, and membership will not be restricted to certain types of colleges.

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 institutions.

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 do something.

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, http://snipurl.com/emerti525

 

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 appearance.
 

Eau de grapefruit, anyone? Don't snicker: A new study shows that the fruity aroma from grapefruit may be able to shave years off your appearance.

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 WebMD.

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 aging."

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 surgical mask.

Overall, the grapefruit aroma made the participants think the models were about three years younger than they really were, Hirsch says.

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.
Charlene  Laino  "Smell of Grapefruit Helps Women Look Younger," WebMd Health, Reviewed By Brunilda  Nazario, MD on Tuesday, May 24, 2005, http://snipurl.com/grpfrt0525

 

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 minorities.

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 school classes.

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 David Conley.

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 said.

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, http://snipurl.com/ap0525

 


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: "EMUFPHZLRFAXYUSDJKZLDKRNSHGNFIVJ."

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 findings publicly.

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 www.thedavincicode.com1 suggests 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 needed help.

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 buried.

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, http://snipurl.com/code0527

 

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. comes calling, it almost doesn't matter what the privacy policy is. They'll get 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, http://snipurl.com/dtabse0527

 

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 re-write.

"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.
Borges, "Vietnam vets’ poet laureate dies, Steve Mason, 65, had been battling cancer," Free Republic, May 27, 2005, http://snipurl.com/poet0527
 

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 subsidiary, GMAC.

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 driving habits.

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 failing grade.

Those in neighboring Massachusetts were second worst and New Jersey, third worst.

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.

Scores for 48 states and Washington, D.C.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money), "Survey: Northeast has dumbest drivers," CNN.com, May 27, 2005, http://www.cnn.com/2005/AUTOS/05/26/drivers_study/index.html

Boom in Alberta Oil Sands Fuels Pipeline Dreams
As Routes Reach Capacity, Race Is On to Link Fields To West Coast and China
FORT 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 said.

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, http://snipurl.com/oil0531

 

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: vintage.

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 serious injuries.

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 a must-do."

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 retail outlets.

"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, http://snipurl.com/tires0531

 

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 drug users.

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 U.S.

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 Street Journal, May 31, 2005; Page D1, http://snipurl.com/hepc0531

 

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 Merck and 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 publish.

"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.

In August, 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 sold.

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 secrets.

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 studies to clinicalstudyresults.org, 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, http://snipurl.com/drgdta0531

 

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 April.

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 16 flights.

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 agency.com, 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, http://snipurl.com/fly0531

 

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 sooner.

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 student choices.

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 looking confused.”

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 says.

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 identical.

“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 run.”
Scott Jaschik "Up and Down on Tuition," Inside Higher Ed, May 31, 2005, http://snipurl.com/tuition0531

 

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 obstructed justice.

"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) , CNN.com, http://snipurl.com/aa0531

 

Photo from playboy-themed party grabs alumni's attention
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 clean fun.

"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.
by tuffydoodle "Photo from playboy-themed party grabs alumni's attention," Free Republic, May 24, 2005 http://snipurl.com/grdprty0531
 

'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 Deep Throat."

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 President Nixon.

"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 report.

"There's a principle involved here," he told ABC News. He and Bernstein promised not to reveal Deep Throat's identity until the source dies.

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?"

Best-Kept Secret

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, http://snipurl.com/DT0531

 


TIDBITS JUNE 1, 2005

Andersen Decision Is Bittersweet For Ex-Workers
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 sprinkled throughout.

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 indictment.

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, http://snipurl.com/aa20601

 

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 cable giant 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 a month.

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.

Special Promotions

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, http://snipurl.com/brdbnd0601

 

The New Post 9/11 Graduates -- Standing up for Patriotism
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 terror.

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 nation.

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 Greatest Generation.
Kevin Fobbs, "The New Post 9/11 Graduates -- Standing up for Patriotism," Free Republic, June 1, 2005, http://snipurl.com/grads0601

 

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
nydailynews.com ...

Pikamax, "Can Rev. Al be Limbaugh's air apparent?," Free Republic, 06/01/2005, http://snipurl.com/rlal0601

 

[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 big agribusinesses.

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, http://snipurl.com/dairy0601
 

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 copies.

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 next month.

To date, most copy protection and other digital rights management-based solutions that allow for burning have not included secure burning.

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 copied.

"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 compatibility.

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 market.

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 copy-protected discs.

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 technology.

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 SunnComm technology.

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 prerelease material.

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, http://snipurl.com/bmg0601

 

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 you.

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, http://snipurl.com/load0601

 




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 charge.




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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax: 210-999-8134  Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu