Tidbits on June 20, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.
Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/
Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/
Music: Whiskey Bar --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/whiskeybar.htm
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
June 18, 2005 message from Bob Blystone
The web site below produced by the University of British Columbia reminds one of those beautiful flowers.
Each day they post a flower of the day and provide information for the subject flower. The photos can be quite stunning and I have the urge to print the pictures and put them up on the wall. The photos are archived so one can look back on previous selections.
Reply from Bob Jensen
It's been a cold and wet summer in the White Mountains. Nevertheless, our lupine fields have been nice.
We all get heavier as we get older because, there's
a lot more information in our heads. That's my story and I’m sticking to it.
Proving that I am right would be admitting that I
could be wrong.
Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais
Check the charges on your MasterCard billings (this may also affect
Discover,Visa, and American Express to a lesser extent). I recommend
changing your credit card numbers the same as if you lost each credit card.
You can do so using the phone number on the back of each card. It may take
a week or two to get your new cards, so I suggest that you wait until you get
your new MasterCard before ordering new numbers on your other cards.
MasterCard International reported yesterday that more than 40 million credit card accounts of all brands might have been exposed to fraud through a computer security breach at a payment processing company, perhaps the largest case of stolen consumer data to date.
Eric Dash and Tom Zeller, Jr., "MasterCard Says 40 Million Files Are Put at Risk," The New York Times, June 18, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/nytJune18
Using Your Cell Phone Anywhere in the World --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/travel/19prac.html
Compact Cameras Get Faster, Smarter, Thinner ---
Review of a sociologist's book Damned Lies and Statistics: How Numbers Confuse Public Issues --- http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/more_damned_lies_and_statistics.htm
Self-evidently a sequel to Best’s previous book, it continues a formula that was successful in providing an accessible account of some more of the numerical misdemeanours of modern society. Coming from a sociologist, this is again a remarkably readable and even grammatical work (he knows, for example that data is a plural word). The formula of avoiding anything but the most superficial calculation has the advantage of appealing to a wide audience, but occasionally it creates problems of circumlocution and fuzziness. On the other hand, in the Best tradition, there are many concise bons mots that neatly encapsulate a truth; such as crime waves are not so much patterns of criminal behaviour as they are patterns in media coverage.
There is apt coverage of the modern urge to attach numbers where they cannot possibly apply, such as the quality of teaching. On the whole sociological jargon is avoided, with occasional lapses, though the avoidance of naming some important concepts tends to lead to their being lost in the verbiage. The post hoc fallacy, for example, gets buried in an anecdote about breast implants, and it is too important for that. Sometimes the simplification is positively misleading. We have, for example, “cherry-picking (sometimes called data-dredging)”. These concepts are not equivalent, though they often exist together.
These are, however, rather pedantic quibbles, and the book is very successful in achieving its aim of warning ordinary intelligent people of the dangers of believing the numbers that they read. It is one of the tragedies of modern Anglo-Saxon society that the majority of such readers are almost uniformly innumerate. The approach here is to classify various numbers in the chapter headings (missing numbers, confusing numbers, scary numbers, authoritative numbers, magical numbers and contentious numbers). There is a final optimistic chapter called Towards statistical numeracy, which highlights some of the resources to be found in the Number Watch links.
Damned Lies and Statistics: How Numbers Confuse Public Issues, by Joel Best, University of California Press, 2004, ISBN 0 520 23830 3
How Schools Cheat From underreporting violence to inflating graduation rates to fudging test scores, educators are lying to the American public --- http://www.reason.com/0506/fe.ls.how.shtml
Listen to the classics: Download audio books from the NY Public
The New York Public Library announced Monday that it is making 700 books _ from classics to current best sellers _ available to members in digital audio form for downloading onto PCs, CD players and portable listening devices.
"N.Y. Public Library Starts Digital Library," The Washington Post, June 13, 2005 ---
Bob Jensen's helpers when searching for Searching for Audio Books, Clips, Lectures, Speeches, and Books are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm#Audio
I haven't tried this but Snopes says it won't work --- http://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/keyless.asp
Urban Legend: How to unlock your car using a cell phone
Have you locked the keys in the car? If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are home, call someone at home on your cell phone and ask them to get your car keys.
Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the other person at home press the unlock button on your keys while holding it near the phone on their end.
Your car will unlock. It will save someone from having to drive your keys
to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk this way!)
540 or more examples of Nigerian fraud email messages that plague us daily --- http://www.potifos.com/fraud/
Bob Jensen's threads on these and similar fruads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
Are Business Schools Failing the World
JEFFREY E. GARTEN, 58, who is stepping down after 10 years as dean of the Yale School of Management, says he does not think American business schools are doing a good enough job. Here are excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Garten, who became the dean after a career on Wall Street specializing in debt restructuring abroad and a stint as under secretary of commerce for international trade . . . It's extremely difficult to figure out what to teach in a two-year course, to reflect today's realities, let alone what the world will look like 10 or 20 years from now when the graduates reach their stride in terms of their careers.
William J. Holstein, "Are Business Schools Failing the World?" The New York Times, June 19, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/business/yourmoney/19advi.html
June 19, 2005 reply from Jagdish Gangolly [JGangolly@UAMAIL.ALBANY.EDU]
AECMers also might like to read the article "How Business Schools lost their way" by Warren Bennis and James O'Toole in the may 2005 issue of HBR. Fascinating. It makes many of the same points as the Garten interview.
A far more potent article ("Bad management theories are destroying good management practices") is the one by Sumantra Ghoshal of the London Business School, published postumously in the Journal "Academy of Management Learning & Education" a few months ago. If I had my way, this would be a required reading for all B-school faculty.
Paul Williams also has an article "A Social view on accounting ethics" in Research on Accounting Ethics that expresses similar views.
I would draw the following sequence of events (I am caricaturing below, but there is a good dose of truth nevertheless):
Stage 1: It is my understanding that B-schools sprung out of Economics departments because of their emphasis on non-business aspects of economics and the lack of tolerance of non-traditional/innovative interdisciplinary research of great value in business (real world is not stove-piped) -- look for example at the pathbreaking Columbia dissertation of William Cooper (Revisions to the theory of the firm") that was turned down (if my memory is right), but subsequently published in a reputed economics journal.
Stage 2: Separation from the economics departments got the B-schools autonomy, and the so-called "clinical" faculty were very much a part of the community. While this arrangement was ideal, the problem was the desperate need of the B Schools for academic respectability and credibility. The pendulum swung again in stage 3.
Stage 3: To gain academic respectability, B schools went back to their "roots" stove-piped research. In fact much of the research in B schools today, in my opinion, could be done far more efficiently with far greater quality control, in the traditional departments across the campus. Also, clinical faculty are looked upon often as necessary evil to be tolerated because they give us a modicum of credibility in the business world. Looks like the pendulum may be swinging again.
I have lived through all three of the stages above. When I was an undergraduate, we were taught most courses by "clinical" faculty (accounting by practicing chartered accountants, actuarial subjects by practicing actuaries, law courses by practicing barristers/solicitors; I was surprised to discover that even my statistics instructor ran a small-scale production shop). Early in graduate school, I was taught Operations Research by practitioners from ICI and BAT, MIS by an engineer at Honeywell, Production Management by one from Exide Batteries, Personnel management by one from Alcan subsidiary,... However, as I progressed through my graduate education I saw less and less of them until they almost completely disappeared, at least for the graduate students.
To be frank, this has affected accounting far more than some other areas in Bschools (specially in Finance where the interactions between the academia and the industry are strong). In my humble opinion, the main reason for this is that the real world is, of necessity, normative (the only reason in business to understand a mousetrap is to be able to build a better one, in the academia it seems to be to contemplate the navel), whereas in accounting academia we have given normative research a bum rap. Consequently there is little substantive interaction between the academia and the profession except on a social basis.
Pay for Internet purchases using the new Google
Google Inc. this year plans to offer an electronic-payment service that could help the Internet-search company diversify its revenue and may put it in competition with eBay Inc.'s PayPal unit, according to people familiar with the matter.
Kevin J. Delaney and Mylene Mangalindan, "Google Plans Online-Payment Service: New Business May Diversify Revenue Stream, Compete With eBay's PayPal Arm," The Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2005; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111905141149263168,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
A lavish looter will have to take some time off from
spending his hundreds of millions of booty
L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive of Tyco International, and his top lieutenant were convicted yesterday on fraud, conspiracy and grand larceny charges, bringing an end to a three-year-long case that came to symbolize an era of corporate greed and scandal. The four-month-long trial was the second time Mr. Kozlowski and Mr. Swartz were tried on charges of stealing $150 million from Tyco - a conglomerate whose products range from security systems to health care - and reaping $430 million more by covertly selling company shares while '"artificially inflating" the value of the stock
Andrew Ross Sorkin, "Ex-Chief and Aide Guilty of Looting Millions at Tyco," The New York Times, June 18, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/TycoVerdict
Another review of Freakonomics
"A Romp Through Theories More Fanciful Than Freaky," by Roger Lowenstein, The New York Times, June 19, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/business/yourmoney/19shelf.html
The authors show the dangers in the crack trade by pointing out that the fatality rate for street dealers is greater than that of inmates on death row in Texas; they demonstrate the power of information, and the way the Internet has eroded the pricing power of automobile dealers, by recounting how a quite unrelated network (the Ku Klux Klan) was done in by an infiltrator who broadcast the group's secrets.
The book is only barely about economics, freakish or otherwise, and even when the authors venture into a standard tutorial, such as one about how supply and demand influence wages, they do so with delightful and unexpected curveballs. Thus, they observe, "The typical prostitute earns more than the typical architect." This is less surprising than it might appear. Working conditions limit the supply of prostitutes and, as for demand, the authors mischievously observe that "an architect is more likely to hire a prostitute than vice versa."
Their protestation notwithstanding, "Freakonomics" does have a unifying theme, which is the power of incentives to explain, and perhaps to predict, behavior. The authors clearly tilt against the one-dimensional theory, so dear to orthodox economists, that people are always motivated solely by maximizing their wealth. Rather, they side with the up-and-coming behavioralist school, which sees people's motivations as more nuanced and polydimensional.
Continued in article
Cognitive Science ePrint Search Engine --- http://cogprints.org/
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm
From Nine to Nine: Technology is far from labor saving
A new report says advances in technology, particularly in the mobile variety, will result in more Americans working longer hours. This cannot be promising for people who already confuse the words "job" and "life."
Robert MacMillan, "Workin' 9 to 9," The Washington Post, June 16, 2005 ---
Comics Looking to Spread A Little (free) Laughter on the Web ---
Evaluating Faculty at the University of Tennessee
Jan R. Williams, "Faculty Evaluation: Lessons Learned," AACSB eNewsline --- http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/enewsline/Vol-4/Issue-6/dc-janwilliams.asp
No relief for relief efforts: Import tariffs discourage disaster
relief and the spirit of giving
New Delhi: Oxfam has had to pay $US1 million ($1.3 million) in customs duty to the Sri Lankan Government for importing 25 four-wheel-drive vehicles to help victims of the tsunami. The sum was levied by customs in Colombo, which has refused to grant tax exemptions to non-governmental organisations working to repair damage caused by the Boxing Day disaster, which killed at least 31,000 people in the country. The Indian-made Mahindra vehicles, essential to negotiate damaged roads and rough tracks, were stuck in port at Colombo for almost a month as officials of the British charity completed the small mountain of paperwork required to release them. Customs charged $US5000 demurrage for every day they stood idle. Oxfam said it had "no choice" but to pay the 300 per cent import tax or face further delays to its relief operation.
"Sri Lanka charges Oxfam $1.3m to bring in jeeps," Sydney Morning Herald, June 18, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/06/17/1118869095366.html
College grads enter an encouraging job market
But compared with recent years, America's 1.35 million new college graduates are having an easier time of it. “It's been a good job market for grads,” says John Challenger, CEO of the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “[It's] up 13 percent over last year. The last three years have been very rough.”
Kevin Tibbles, "College grads enter an encouraging job market: Things are looking up, if you know where to look," MSNBC, June 17, 2005 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8259716/
The future of textbooks?
From Jim Mahar's blog on June 16, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
The future of text books?
Megginson and Smart Introdcution to Corporate Finance--Companion Site
I think we may have a glimpse into the future of text books with this one. It is the new Introduction to Corporate Finance by William Megginson and Scott Smart.
From videos for most topics, to interviews, to powerpoint, to a student study guide, to excel help...just a total integration of a text and a web site! Well done!
At St. Bonaventure we have adopted the text for the fall semester and the book actually has made me excited to be teaching an introductory course! It is that good!!
BTW Before I get accused of selling out, let me say I get zero for this plug. I have met each author at conferences but do not really know either of them. And like any first edition book there may be some errors, but that said, this is the future of college text books!
Check out some of the online material here. More material is available with book purchase.
June 18 reply from Robert Holmes Glendale College [rcholmes@GLENDALE.CC.CA.US]
I chose not to submit my personal information in return for a look at the material, but just a look at the resources was enough to tell me they are extensive. How much time do we expect our students will spend each week on a course? What do we think they should do with that time? Attending class, reading the text, looking at Powepoint, working Excel problems, reviewing the answers to the problems, looking at resources in the Resource Integration Guide, writing papers, taking notes, "learning"/memorizing the notes. Does looking at a lot of different things produce learning? Is it efficient? I look forward to hearing about how many of these resources are actually used, and if they produce more learning.
June 19, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen
What gets used depends heavily on the quality of the materials. I've found little use for many of the supplements that accompany the most accounting textbooks because the supplements are generally cheap shots and over-hyped crap, including the videos and many of the PowerPoint shows. One major publisher, for example, has PowerPoint with audio that simply reads the PowerPoint captions. The videos sometimes are only company PR blurbs that have little or nothing to add to accounting study.
I'm told by insiders that what gets spent on quality supplements really depends upon market size, and accounting is not really a big market relative to mathematics, basic science, economics, and other courses required that are part of the core for virtually all college students.
I think what Jim was trying to say was that the Megginson and Smart textbook is the first finance text that had real money spent on supplements. I'm still waiting to see the first accounting textbook that has real money spent on Web supplements.
Bob Jensen's threads on education technology are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm
Rethinking Schools: Spring 2005: Rethinking Mathematics (with special emphasis on math education of urban African Americans) --- http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/19_03/19_03.shtml
Images of farm machine history ---
The McCormick-International Harvester Company Collection includes hundreds of thousands of images dating from the 1840s through the 1980s. The images were created by and for Cyrus McCormick and his family, the McCormick companies, and the International Harvester Company. They document agriculture, rural life, industrial labor, advertising, small towns, transportation, and the agricultural machinery, truck and construction equipment industries.
Bob Jensen's threads on history are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob2.htm#History
June 17, 2005 reply from Paula Ward
The same/related (?) website has a fantastic collection of manuscripts, one of which is the Lyman Copeland Draper Manuscript Collection: The collection as a whole covers primarily the period between the French and Indian War and the War of 1812 (ca. 1755-1815). The geographic concentration is on what Draper and his contemporaries called the "Trans-Allegheny West," which included the western Carolinas and Virginia, some portions of Georgia and Alabama, the entire Ohio River valley, and parts of the Mississippi River valley.
I forget how many volumes and rolls of microfilm make up the Draper Manuscript Collection, but it is huge. A very small portion of it is available on the website. As luck would have it, the portion available on the website includes information about a member of my family (Benjamin Kelley/Kelly) who was captured, along with Daniel Boone, by the Shawnee Indians in 1778 at the Blue Licks in Kentucky:
Document AJ-150: Recollections on Capture by the Shawnee, 1778 - Jackson's Recollections as recorded by Lyman Copeland Draper (14 pages on microfilm):
All this and more at The Wisconsin Historical Society's American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement http://www.americanjourneys.org/index.asp
Expressions of Faith (Religion) --- http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/galleries/faith/
A new version of Camtasia includes the ability to feed video camera footage into your videos of computer screen images. Other new features are described at http://www.techsmith.com/products/studio/comingsoon.asp
Bob Jensen's tutorials using Camtasia and tutorials explaining how to use Camtasia to create video lectures are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HelpersVideos.htm
Ten years of the Louvre online (art history)
Musee du Louvre --- http://www.louvre.fr/
Bob Jensen's threads on art history are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob2.htm#History
Hedge Funds Are Growing: Is This Good or Bad?
When the ratings agencies downgraded General Motors debt to junk status in early May, a chill shot through the $1 trillion hedge fund industry. How many of these secretive investment pools for the rich and sophisticated would be caught on the wrong side of a GM bond bet? In the end, the GM bond bomb was a dud. Hedge funds were not as exposed as many had thought. But the scare did help fuel the growing debate about hedge funds. Are they a benefit to the financial markets, or a menace? Should they be allowed to continue operating in their free-wheeling style, or should they be reined in by new requirements, such as a move to make them register as investment advisors with the Securities and Exchange Commission?
"Hedge Funds Are Growing: Is This Good or Bad?" Knowledge@wharton, June 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1225
German Chancellor's Call for Global Regulations to Curb Hedge Funds
Germany and the United States are parting company again, this time over Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's call for international regulations to govern hedge funds. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, speaking here Thursday at the end of a five-country European tour, said the United States opposed "heavy-handed" curbs on markets. He said that he was not familiar with the German proposals, but left little doubt about how Washington would react. "I think we ought to be very careful about heavy-handed regulation of markets because it stymies financial innovation," Mr. Snow said after a news conference here to sum up his visit. Noting that the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed that hedge funds be required to register themselves, he said he preferred the "light touch rather than the heavy regulatory burden."
Mark Landler, "U.S. Balks at German Chancellor's Call for Global Regulations to Curb Hedge Funds," The New York Times, June 17, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/17/business/worldbusiness/17hedge.html?
Bob Jensen's definitions and discussions of hedge funds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#HedgeFunds
What is PC World's choice for the best product of 2005?
The 100 Best Products of 2005," PC World, June 17, 2005 --- http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,120763,00.asp
Blog Navigation Software
Blog Navigator is a new program that makes it easy to read blogs on the Internet. It integrates into various blog search engines and can automatically determine RSS feeds from within properly coded websites.
Blog Navigator 1.2 http://www.stardock.com/products/blognavigator/
Bob Jensen's threads on blogs and Weblogs are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Weblog
What do our names mean? (this is about as serious as astrology) --- http://www.paulsadowski.com/Numbers.asp
This article has a long quotation from the transcript of the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde
"Not So Wilde," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, June 16, 2005 ---
(This article has a long quotation from the transcript of the trial of Oscar Wilde.)
In any case, the hold of Wilde’s case on the public mind was — and still is — a matter of his grand transgression. It bears scarcely any resemblance to the fascination evoked by Michael Jackson, who embodies something quite different: regression. His retreat to a childlike state appears to be so complete as to prove almost unimaginable, except, perhaps, to a psychiatrist.
Freud wrote of a neverending struggle between the pleasure principle (the ruling passion of the infant’s world) and the reality principle (which obliges us to sustain a certain amount of repression, since the world is not particularly friendly to our immediate urges).
Wilde was the most eloquent defender that the pleasure principle ever had: His aesthetic doctrine held that we ought to transform daily life into a kind of art, and so regain a kind of childlike wonder and creativity, free from pedestrian distractions.
Like all such utopian visions, this one tends to founder on the problem that someone will, after all, need to clean up. The drama of Michael Jackson’s trial came from its proof that — even with millions of dollars and a staff of housekeepers to keep it at bay — the reality principle does have a way of reasserting itself.
And now that the trial is over, perhaps it’s appropriate to recall the paradoxical question Wilde once asked someone about a mutual friend: “When you are alone with him, does he take off his face and reveal his mask?”
Continued in the article
What college students going to pot at the highest rates?
Boulder, Colo., and Boston lead the nation in marijuana use, according to a study released Thursday. The lowest use was reported in northwestern Iowa and southern Texas. For the first time, the government looked at the use of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and various other substances, legal as well as illegal, by region rather than by state. In Boston, the home of Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and several other colleges, 12.2 percent reported using marijuana in the previous 30 days. In Boulder County, the home of the University of Colorado, 10.3 percent reported using marijuana during those 30...
"Boulder, Boston Lead Nation In Marijuana Use Young, Active People Will Experiment More With At-Risk Behavior, Doctor Says," The Denver Channel, June 17, 2005 --- http://www.thedenverchannel.com/health/4620681/detail.html
Farm Subsidies Use "Creative Accounting"
The United States and the European Union are using “creative accounting” to mask the huge subsidy payments they are making to their farmers, undermining international talks, according to Oxfam. Oxfam, the British aid agency, said rich countries had promised to eliminate export subsidies by 2016, but they are encouraging farmers, through subsidies, to produce excess goods and dump them on the world market, the Associated Press reported.
"Farm Subsidies Use 'Creative Accounting'," AccountingWeb, June 16, 2005 ---
Brazilian crop boom threatens U.S. farms
It's a farmer's wonderland, where the fecund soil can be had for as little as $200 a sun-drenched acre and a Maryland-sized chunk of land is cleared each year for cotton, corn, soybean and cattle farms. Agriculture is booming in Brazil, and U.S. farmers are taking notice. Buffeted by high production costs, low market prices and the World Trade Organization, Americans increasingly look to low-cost, low-wage Brazil for economic survival.
"Brazilian crop boom threatens U.S. farms," Arizona Daily Star, May 22, 2005 --- http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/news/76261.php
Social Security: Bad for the Democrats Why are liberals supporting an illiberal system? --- http://www.reason.com/hod/bo061305.shtml
Accounting Rules So Plentiful "It's Nuts"
There are perhaps 2,000 accounting rules and standards that, when written out, possibly exceed the U.S. tax code in length. Yet, there are only the Ten Commandments. So Bob Herz, chairman of the rule-setting Financial Accounting Standards Board, is asked this: How come there are 2,000 rules to prepare a financial statement but only 10 for eternal salvation? "It is nuts," Herz allows. "But you're not going to get it down to ten commandments because the transactions are so complicated. . . . And the people on the front lines, the companies and their auditors, are saying: 'Give me principles, but tell me exactly what to do; I don't want to be second-guessed.' " Nonetheless, the FASB (pronounced, by accounting insiders, as "FAZ-bee") is embarking on efforts to simplify and codify accounting rules while improving them and integrating them with international standards.
"Accounting Rules So Plentiful 'It's Nuts' ; Standards Board Takes on Tough Job to Simplify, Codify," SmartPros, June 8, 2005 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x48525.xml
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory.htm
Orange Prize for Fiction
The story of a woman who bears a child she loathes, only to watch him become a teenage high-school killer, has won The Economist's chief fiction reviewer, Lionel Shriver, one of Britain's most prestigious literary awards, the £30,000 ($55,000) Orange prize for fiction by women. Ms Shriver's existing agent, and nearly a dozen others, turned down “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (Perennial, Serpent's Tail) before Kim Witherspoon in New York took it on and it was published in April 2003. An unflinching examination of the darker side of parenthood, the book became a lightning rod for debate and a word-of-mouth hit on both sides of the Atlantic after another writer, Amy Hempel, and a determined group of like-minded fans began to recommend it to friends and other readers. Who says hand-selling doesn't work?
"Orange Prize for Fiction," The Economist, June 9, 2005 ---
This is hairy
Alan Horner has had the pleasure of his wife's long hair for 12 years. He washes it three times a week and caresses it constantly. Kusmuryarti Horner's nearly 6-foot locks stretch down her spine and extend longer than her 5-foot-1 frame. But now Kusmuryarti, 31, is going to let down her brown hair, cut it off, pack it up and sell it on eBay. The Horners hope the money they make on her auctioned mane will help them put a down payment on their first home.
Tanya Caldwell, "Wellington woman to sell hair on eBay in hopes of earning down payment for home," Sun-Sentinel, June 17, 2005 --- http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-phair17jun17,0,284410.story?track=mostemailedlink
Signs forwarded by Auntie Bev
In a Veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes Sit! Stay!"
At an Optometrist's Office "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."
In a Podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."
On a Septic Tank Truck in Oregon: Yesterday's Meals on Wheels
On a Septic Tank Truck sign: "We're #1 in the #2 business."
At a Proctologist's door "To expedite your visit please back in."
On a Plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed."
On a Plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.."
Pizza Shop Slogan: "7 days without pizza makes one weak."
At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee: "Invite us to your next blowout."
On a Plastic Surgeon's Office door: "Hello. Can we pick your nose?"
At a Towing Company: "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."
On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."
In a Nonsmoking Area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."
On a Maternity Room door: "Push. Push. Push."
On a Taxidermist's window: "We really know our stuff"
On a Fence: "Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive."
At a Car Dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet - miss a car payment."< /SPAN>
Outside a Muffler Shop: "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."
At the Electric Company: "We would be "de-lighted" if you send in your payment. However, if you don't, you will be."
In a Restaurant window: "Don't stand there and be hungry, Come on in and get fed up."
In the front yard of a Funeral Home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait."
At a Propane Filling Station, "Thank heaven for little grills."
And don't forget the sign at a Chicago Radiator Shop: "Best place in town to take a leak."
Debbie Bowling provided the following tidbits
TIDBITS WEEK OF MAY 31
Boom in Alberta Oil Sands Fuels
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
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.
Long-Dormant Threat Surfaces: Deaths From Hepatitis C Are Expected to Jump
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.
Despite Vow, Drug Makers Still Withhold Data
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
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
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
Scott Jaschik "Up and Down on Tuition," Inside Higher Ed, May 31, 2005, http://snipurl.com/tuition0531
Arthur Andersen conviction overturned
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
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.
'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?"
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
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."
A New Low Price For Broadband
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.
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.
The New Post 9/11 Graduates -- Standing up for
Memorial Day has several different meanings for Americans. For some, we were spending a weekend reflecting, reminiscing and reminding ourselves about the sacrifices our family members, neighbors, and fellow Americans made as soldiers for our nation. At the same time, many of us were also focusing our attention on our children, nieces, nephews and for many, our grandchildren who are preparing themselves to take the final walk across their high school or college graduation stage.
One of the questions these new graduates have to be pondering has to be "what nation and world are we graduating into"? For young people it has to be fraught with some sense of peril. These post 9/11 graduates are inheriting a nation that lived through the most vicious attack on our nation since that horrible day of December 7th, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed without warning and without provocation.
This horrible event from so long ago can certainly be a guide for the young graduates of today. I point purposely to this past Memorial Day weekend, because it is at this time that families typically gather around and share some very special moments with parents, grandparents and a host of family and friends who pour through the family photos to point out perhaps their now aged warriors of World War II. Perhaps they point to an uncle or grandparent who did not return home to his native soil and now lies buried in a U.S. cemetery on foreign soil
Perhaps, the family visited their local cemetery where their father or uncle or even aunt or grandmother now lies buried, a former soldier who served, who fought, and who sacrificed for their nation, because it was the right thing to do...because it was the American thing to do.
Perhaps they visited a hospital with the soon to be graduate and sat on the side of the bed with an aging grandparent or father who was a soldier in the fox hole or perhaps a pilot or a tail gunner in one of the flying fortresses from the Second World War. The parent's son or daughter may have sat quietly and listened to stories spun from long buried memories of acts of bravery, mixed with a little bit of fear, but a whole lot of courage. Maybe the young adult son stood up and just as he was getting ready to leave his hospital room, he turned and saluted his grandfather, and thanked him for his gift to our nation, to his community and to his family.
Your daughter may have asked the question at the backyard barbeque on Memorial Day, "What about women? " as she passed the photos of the women in the family who also sacrificed during those tumultuous war years. What did Grandmother Christina or Aunt Cynthia do when they were a Wave or a WAC during World War II? In listening she probably learned that perhaps the times her grandmother grew up in were not much different from the times now as she is about to step across the graduation.
These young high school and college graduates also remember hearing an American President make a steely firm declaration about dealing with those who were responsible for bringing terror to our home shores. They saw a determined President Bush seem to echo the words from another generation...and spoken by another American President. The emotions of patriotism ran high then on December 8, 1941, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said to a joint Session of Congress:
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us."
Those graduates of 1945 heard those words and many by the tens of thousands left high school or college and answered the call to make those who attacked America pay for their treachery.
Sixty years later, the soon to be graduates are remembering the fateful remarks from President Bush as he too addressed the American public and comforted and rallied a nation that was also the victim of an air attack.
President Bush as President Roosevelt before him also addressed the nation, " Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of 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.
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 ...
[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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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
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