Tidbits on June 29, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory ---
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
Bob Jensen's home page is
Security threats and hoaxes ---
Music: Paint the Sky With Stars ---
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
Your time is limited, so don't waste it
living someone else's life.
Steve Jobs, addressing the Class of 2005 at the 114th
Commencement on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University
Listen to the full address via
Banish Bad Breath ---
Jensen Comment: Now if Beano really worked as claimed
the world would have more fresh air.
Faculty Salaries: What happened to the economic
theory of prices and supply and demand?
Why do aerospace engineering
professors make a little more money than classics professors at
some public universities, and a whole lot more at others?The
answer, according to a study by the
Cornell Higher Education Research Institute,
to be published in the Economics of Education
Review, is that faculty members in
departments that are perceived as being higher quality get paid
David Epstein, "What They Earn Across the Quad," Inside
Higher Ed, June 27, 2005 ---
The largest private university in the world is growing at an accelerating
The Apollo Group, owner of the University of
Phoenix, announced Tuesday that its profit in the third quarter of its current
fiscal year rose by 40 percent over the comparable period a year ago.
Enrollments at Phoenix and Apollo’s other institutions rose by 23 percent, to
295,500 students, and online enrollments climbed by 41 percent from the third
quarter last year.
Doug Lederman, "Quick Takes," Inside Higher Ed, June 29, 2005 ---
UConn Finds Rootkit in Hacked Server
The University of Connecticut has detected a rootkit on
one of its servers, almost two years after the stealth program was placed there
by malicious hackers. The rootkit was found on a server that contains names,
social security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers and addresses for most of
the university's 72,000 students, staff and faculty, university officials
Ryan Naraine, "UConn Finds Rootkit in Hacked Server," eWeek, June 27,
Another bad decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court
In a major setback for proponents of the legal
rights of journalists, the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear the
case of two reporters who have refused to cooperate with a grand-jury
investigation into an alleged government leak that exposed the identity of a
Central Intelligence Agency operative.
Joe Hagan, "Two Reporters Now Face Prison For Contempt," The Wall Street
Journal, June 28, 2005; Page B1---
Jensen Comment: In a free world, the first lines of defense against fraud
and corruption are freedom media and whistle blower protections. The U.S.
Supreme Court dealt a hard blow to these lines of defense.
June 28, 2005 reply from Jagdish Gangolly
Rootkits are the sysadmins' worst nightmare. They
have been popular in the unix world for a long time, but now getting quite
popular in the windows world. Since it was undetected for nearly two years,
I am assuming that the infected systems were windows ones (unix sysadmins
have been a lot more careful for a long time).
Rootkits are not really very difficult to
manufacture. A good source of information is the following source:
Hidden Backdoors, Trojan Horses and Rootkit Tools
in a Windows Environment
It's like banning vehicles to rid ourselves of drunk drivers: Yet
another bad U.S. Supreme Court decision
In a case with huge implications for the media and
technology industries, but narrower ones for higher education, the U.S. Supreme
Court ruled unanimously on Monday that entertainment companies can sue
commercial providers of file sharing programs for copyright infringement. The
court’s decision in MGM Studios v. Grokster, which provided endless fodder for
law professors and other experts on intellectual property law on Monday, is
directly relevant for colleges and universities mainly because students have
been major consumers of the movies and music that the entertainment studios have
accused the file sharing companies, like Grokster, of permitting to be
Doug Lederman, "Supreme Court Rules Against File Sharing Companies," Inside
Higher Ed," June 20, 2005 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on online education and training programs are at
Just another of those many banking system rip offs
Forty-two members of the Republican rank and file in
the House sent a powerful message to their leaders last week when they joined
with Democrats and voted to close an outrageous loophole that allows lenders to
skim billions of dollars from loans that should be going to needy college
students. At issue is a special category of student loans for which the
government guarantees lenders a gargantuan return of 9.5 percent, even though
the prevailing rate charged to students is lower than 3.5 percent. The loans,
backed by tax-exempt bonds, were created in the 1980's, when interest rates were
high, to keep lenders in the college loan business. Congress tried to phase out
the high-interest loans in 1993, when rates declined and federal subsidies were
no longer needed. But the lenders have contrived a series of bookkeeping tricks
that have kept the system going, despite damning reports by the Government
Accountability Office, the Congressional Budget Office and outside advocacy
groups. More recently, the House Republican leadership has seemed determined to
keep the gravy train running for the banking industry.
"Ending the College Loan Giveaway," The New York Times, June 29, 2005 ---
What's the Indian solution? India's economic growth outpaces even
In the long run, India will overtake China in economic
growth owing to home-grown entrepreneurship, stronger infrastructure to support
private enterprise and companies which compete internationally with global
firms, a media report has claimed. The report, written by Yasheng Huang,
associate professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and Tarun Khanna, a professor at Harvard Business
School, say that India was superior in utilising its resources, thus
contributing to economic performance.
"India's economy set to surpass China," rediff.com, June 29, 2005 ---
What's the Irish solution? Ireland's economic growth outpaces the
rest of Europe
Here's something you probably didn't know: Ireland
today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg. Yes, the
country that for hundreds of years was best known for emigration, tragic poets,
famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than
that of Germany, France and Britain. How Ireland went from the sick man of
Europe to the rich man in less than a generation is an amazing story. It tells
you a lot about Europe today: all the innovation is happening on the periphery
by those countries embracing globalization in their own ways - Ireland, Britain,
Scandinavia and Eastern Europe - while those following the French-German social
model are suffering high unemployment and low growth. Ireland's turnaround
began in the late 1960's when the government made secondary education free,
enabling a lot more working-class kids to get a high school or technical degree.
As a result, when Ireland joined the E.U. in 1973, it was able to draw on a much
more educated work force. By the mid-1980's, though, Ireland had reaped the
initial benefits of E.U. membership - subsidies to build better infrastructure
and a big market to sell into. But it still did not have enough competitive
products to sell, because of years of protectionism and fiscal mismanagement.
The country was going broke, and most college grads were emigrating. "We went on
a borrowing, spending and taxing spree, and that nearly drove us under," said
Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney. "It was because we nearly went under that we
got the courage to change."
Thomas L. Friedman, "The End of the Rainbow E-Mail This
Printer-Friendly," The New York Times, June 29, 2005 ---
What's the Russian wrong-way solution?
Russia is gradually sinking into the abyss of
facism. Its seeds have been sown by those in power and are now shooting forth in
society. The Kremlin, using the patriotic feelings of its own subjects, has
created a political force with a name vivid and dear to every Russian's heart -
Rodina, or Motherland. This organization, with the support of President Vladimir
Putin's administration, has not only gained access to all mass media
(television, radio, and newspapers), but surpassed the 5 per cent barrier and
made it into the State Duma.
Ruslan Linkov, "Fascist Tendencies at High Levels of Power," St. Petersburg
Times, June 28, 2005 ---
"Meme, Mine," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, June 28, 2005 ---
Ex post facto, it does seem obvious.
After all “intellectual” doesn’t count for much,
product-placement-wise. In the American vernacular, it is a
word usually accompanied by such modifiers as “pseudo” and
“so-called” (just as the sea in Homer is always described as
No doubt the Google algorithm, if tweaked a bit more, will
one day lead you right to the personals ads for the New
York Review of Books. For now, at least, the offers for
a carnal carnival cruise are gone.
Meanwhile, Inside Higher Ed has
now launched a
page with a running list of
Intellectual Affairs columns from February to the present.
It has more than three dozen items, so far — an assortment
of essays, interviews, causeries, feuilletons, and
uncategorizable thumbsuckers ... all in one central
location, suitable for bookmarking.
It’s also worth mentioning that
Inside Higher Ed itself now offers RSS and XML feeds.
(The editors are too busy or diffident to announce this, but
some public notice of it is overdue.) To sign up, go to the
page and look for the buttons at
This might also be a good time to
invite readers to submit tips for Intellectual Affairs —
your thoughts on subjects to cover, books to examine,
arguments to follow, people to interview. This column will
strive, in coming months, to be equal parts Dennis Diderot
and Walter Winchell. Your brilliant insights, unconfirmed
hunches, and unsubstantiated hearsay are more than welcome.
(Of course, that means I’ll have to go confirm and
substantiate them, but such is the nature of the gig.)
Direct your mail
Bloggers will love TagCloud
Now, many bloggers are turning to a new service called
that lets them cherry-pick articles in RSS feeds by key
words -- or tags -- that appear in those feeds. The blogger
selects the RSS feeds he or she wants to use, and also
selects tags. When a reader clicks on a tag, a list of links
to articles from the feeds containing the chosen keyword
appears. The larger the tag appears onscreen, the more
articles are listed.
Daniel Terdiman, "RSS Service Eases Bloggers' Pain,"
, June 27, 2005 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on RSS are at
Bob Jensen's threads on Weblogs and blogs are at
Zap that TV Commercal: Networks Rush to Keep Advertisers
The traditional TV commercial, which generates billions
of dollars in ad revenue for TV networks every year, is under assault.
Technology has made it easier for viewers to zap through ads, prompting some big
advertisers to scale back the money they put into TV commercials. Anxious to
stop advertisers from defecting to other media, TV networks are scrambling for
new ways to lure marketing dollars. Working in the networks' favor is that
advertisers haven't given up on television. Some, increasingly prodded by
networks, are turning to product placement -- paying for their products to be
prominently featured in TV shows. But creative considerations can limit these
Brian Steinberg, "Networks Rush to Keep Advertisers," The Wall Street Journal,
June 27, 2005; Page B1 ---
First Amendment Furor
Some books are destined to set off
controversy. The University of California Press has such a
Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of
History, slated for release in
August. The book argues that supporters of Israel prevent human
rights abuses by that country from getting the attention they
deserve, in part by calling those who raise such issues
anti-Semites. That thesis would be controversial from most
authors, but the book in question is by
Norman G. Finkelstein, a political
scientist at DePaul University who has enraged Jewish groups by
questioning the role of the Holocaust and with consistently
harsh criticism of Israel.Even
before the release of Beyond Chutzpah, the book has set off a
broader debate over the First Amendment. An
published Friday by The Nation charges that Alan M. Dershowitz,
a Harvard law professor who is attacked in the book and who has
been a critic of Finkelstein, tried to get the California press
to call off publication.
Scott Jaschik, "First Amendment Furor," Inside
, June 27, 2005 ---
Seismic communication among animals
Scientists have long known that seismic communication
is common in small animals, including spiders, scorpions, insects and a few
vertebrate species, such as white-lipped frogs, kangaroo rats and golden moles.
Seismic sensitivity also has been observed in elephant seals—huge marine mammals
not related to elephants. But O'Connell-Rodwell was the first to suggest that a
large land animal is capable of sending and receiving vibrational messages. "A
lot of research has been done showing that small animals use seismic signals to
find mates, locate prey and establish territories," she notes. "But there have
only been a few studies focusing on the ability of large mammals to communicate
through the ground." Her insights generated international media attention after
the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami disaster in Asia, following reports that trained
elephants in Thailand had become agitated and fled to higher ground before the
devastating wave struck, thus saving their own lives and those of the tourists
riding on their backs. Because earthquakes and tsunamis generate low-frequency
waves, O'Connell-Rodwell and other elephant experts have begun to explore the
possibility that the Thai elephants were responding to these powerful events.
"Elephants may be able to sense the environment better than we realize," she
says, pointing to earlier studies showing that elephants will sometimes move
toward distant thunderstorms. "When it rains in Angola, elephants 100 miles away
in Etosha National Park start to move north in search of water. It could be that
they are sensing underground vibrations generated by thunder."
Mark Schwartz, "Looking for earth-shaking clues to elephant communication,"
Stanford Report, June 1, 2005 ---
What is the best way to publish your book?
The two men fought a celebrated judicial duel before
the French king — a fight to the death with lance, sword and dagger that also
decided the lady’s fate. The affair was still controversial in France at the
time I stumbled on the story, and many original documents survived, but no one
had ever written a full-length account. Fascinated by the story, I started
researching it and eventually began work on a book. I also began talking with
editors, literary agents, and even people connected to the film industry. At one
point, I registered some material with the Writers Guild of America to protect
my intellectual property. The book was represented briefly by a well-known
Hollywood talent agency — until the firm reorganized and my agent left,
orphaning the project. Other literary agents read the proposal and sample
chapters, only to turn the project down. Editors at highly respected trade
houses read my material but politely rejected it, or hesitated indefinitely. An
editor at a leading university press told me my book had “little commercial
potential,” while an editor at another top academic press read my proposal and
offered me a contract right over the phone. Disappointed with the book’s
commercial fortunes so far, I was nearly ready to accept the offer. But around
this time a very good literary agency took on the partly completed book, and
within three days of putting it on the market they sold it at auction to a
division of Random House. Foreign rights sales soon followed, and the deal
notice in Publishers Weekly brought new film interest. The book was published
last October, became a History Book Club selection, and was featured on NPR’s
“Weekend Edition.” After its January release in Britain, it was serialized on
BBC Radio 4’s “Book of the Week.” A BBC television documentary is now in the
Eric Jager, "Crossing Over," Inside Higher Ed, June 29, 2005 ---
Reinsurance Accounting Has Fresh Anomaly
Unum says its outside auditor, Ernst & Young LLP,
approved its accounting for the Unum transactions. A Tennessee insurance
regulator confirms that officials there signed off on the accounting, and Linnea
Olsen, Unum's director of investor relations, says Massachusetts insurance
regulators, who oversee one of the Unum units involved, also approved the
arrangement. A representative of the Massachusetts insurance regulator declined
comment on the matter . . . The National Association of Insurance Commissioners,
which helps state regulators develop and coordinate insurance rules, says while
accounting guidelines for life insurers like UnumProvident and
property-and-casualty companies like National Indemnity might differ in some
ways, they shouldn't lead to one party treating a contract as risk-transfer
reinsurance and the other recording it as a low- or no-risk deposit transaction.
Both sets of guidelines are based on generally accepted accounting principles
and "have very similar principles for risk transfer," says Scott Holeman, a
spokesman for the NAIC. For Unum, the three contracts were executed at a crucial
time: In the second quarter of 2004, when the transactions were announced,
Unum's stock was struggling amid declining earnings and unfavorable Wall Street
coverage. In May of that year, Standard & Poor's downgraded Unum's credit
rating, citing problems with Unum's risk controls and other practices that "led
to significant reserve charges and asset impairments." Under the
contracts, Unum paid National Indemnity $707 million in cash and recorded a
"reserve credit" of $522 million as well as $141 million in tax and other
benefits, according to a document that Unum presented to analysts in spring
2004. Unum's net cost: $44 million. Unum initially would get "maximum payments"
from the reinsurer of $783 million, with the reinsurer's "maximum risk limit"
growing to "approximately $2.6 billion over time," the document states. So
why would National Indemnity book the pacts as deposits from Unum rather than as
a liability that could grow over time? As of Dec. 31, National Indemnity's
filings with state regulators showed a total of $733.2 million as a deposit.
Each party may have judged the risk of the contracts differently. Some analysts
also note that reinsurance buyers and sellers have different motivations to
start with. A buyer typically wants the benefits of reinsurance accounting,
which include reducing claims liabilities and offsetting losses with reinsurance
proceeds. Meanwhile, reinsurance accounting can have its downside for sellers,
because it requires them to book up front the estimated cost of claims under the
Karen Richardson and Gregory Zuckerman, "Reinsurance Accounting Has Fresh
Anomaly," The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2005; Page C3 ---
Jensen Comment: The FASB is currently looking into gaps in GAAP regarding
reinsurance accounting, especially ploys for off-balance sheet financing.
The trick is to register your dog rather than yourself, although lie a little
about the dog’s age so it does not appear to be less than 18.
Actually I registered years ago and did not keep up with the latest requests.
Thanks for the update.
You may receive advertisements, although my dog is registered with a lot of
newspapers and does not seem to get too many advertisements in addition to all
the Nigerian-type solicitations that arrive just for being online.
From: Deborah XXXXX
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 11:13 AM
To: Jensen, Robert
Subject: The June 27, 2005 edition of Tidbits
I've been a reader of your postings for many years.
You obviously spend a lot of time on these offerings, and I probably should
have written you sooner to let you know how much I enjoy reading what you
put out here.
This is the first time I have come across something
on the Tidbits list that has made me stop and worry about reading on.
Actually it isn't you or the topic you listed, but the steps necessary to
read the article you pointed out.
The clip is printed below, but basically it
requires the reader to fill out a free registration/subscription form to get
access to the news article. I don't suppose you have seen the registration
form, or have read the "terms and conditions" lately. Most of us don't take
the time to read these carefully or think about what that info is going to
be used for someday down the road. While we would think that the New York
Times would be a safe website, the information they require for registration
is extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.
In this current example, NYTIMES.COM demands that
you give them your year of birth, your occupation and your salary level.
Seems harmless enough by itself. But if you read the terms and then the
privacy statements, you will find that they share this information with
advertisers. Have you been asked by another site to provide the month you
were born? What about a site that asks for just the day of the month by
itself? If you merge databases, or use data mining you can put all this
together and generate a very complete financial profile.
BTW, they also tell the reader that the terms of
use can be changed at any time. The site doesn't have to tell you via email
or other notification that the terms have changed. All they have to do is
post the change in the terms message. Any time you use their site, you are
automatically accepting and agreeing to any changes that have been made to
suspect they might have changed.
Okay, so maybe this is a bit of over reaction. But
what would you think if the same website also disclosed that their third
party advertisers are placing clear gifs on the pages you are looking at in
your browser? Since this term was new to me, and I was curious I located the
following about clear gifs. Web Bug FAQ
It sounds like (to a non-computer programmer like me)
any information that is on your computer is accessible to these clear gifs.
The idea of newspapers permitting their advertisers
to use the clear gifs on innocent (and unprepared) readers makes me a bit
queasy. Bob, your threads on Fraud and Ethics are excellent, but they just
go to prove that Business Ethics is really a fiction, and Fraud is a basic
business tool. Do you think it might be possible to generate a thread to
help educate us on how to avoid this new minefield of spies and thieves
called clear gifs?
Arizona State University pushes into China
ASU has spent the last few weeks participating with
the world's most populous country in a whirlwind of events designed to share
knowledge between the United States and China. From bringing pictures of
research on Mars to sharing ideas on University planning and business education,
ASU and China seem to be forming a potent pair. But more importantly, recent
partnerships could mark the beginning of a long-term, economically sound
relationship between China and the West.
"University's reach spreading farther East: From Mars research
to university planning, ASU officials are using homegrown ideas to develop
stronger ties with China," Web@Devil, June 28, 2005 ---
Can a real Indian's lack of support for Ward Churchill affect a tenure
decision? It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's part of the
The case of
William C. Bradford isn’t quite what it seems, but
it has riled up plenty of people in Indiana . . . The university says he’s doing
great work — it recently awarded him a special fellowship. But he’s job hunting,
and whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on who you ask. Bradford says
that past reviews were unanimously positive, and that his troubles began because
his views didn’t match people’s expectations. Bradford is a member of the
Chiricahua Apache tribe and as such is one of about 15 law professors nationwide
who are American Indians. Much of his legal scholarship concerns Indian law and
he describes his views as “radical,” saying that he calls for land illegally
taken from Indians to be returned to them, and for Indian tribes to be treated
more like nations. But Bradford is not a fan of Ward Churchill, the
controversial University of Colorado professor and Native American activist. And
Bradford says that professors turned against him when he refused to sign a
petition supporting Churchill. “The presumption was that I’ve got to sign this
thing because I’m an Indian, but I can’t do that,” he says. “I’m the anti-Ward
Churchill. I’m a patriot. My ancestors were caged up by this country, but I love
this country. It’s the place where we have the greatest freedom on earth.”
Scott Jaschik, "‘Not the Right Kind of Indian’," Inside Higher Ed, June
28, 2005 ---
U.S. Pushes Broad Investigation Into Milberg Weiss Law Firm
Federal prosecutors are investigating one of the
nation's most aggressive class-action law firms, Milberg Weiss Bershad &
Schulman, for alleged fraud, conspiracy and kickbacks in scores of securities
lawsuits, and could seek criminal charges against the firm itself and its
principals. The three-year investigation focuses on allegations that the New
York-based firm routinely made secret, illegal payments to plaintiffs who
appeared on securities class-action lawsuits brought by the firm, according to
court documents and lawyers close to the case. A grand jury in Los Angeles
convened last October has been hearing evidence of alleged illegal payments in
dozens of suits filed against oil, biotechnology, drug and chemical companies
during the past 20 years, the lawyers close to the case said.
John R. Wilke, "U.S. Pushes Broad Investigation Into Milberg Weiss Law Firm,"
The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2005, Page A1 ---
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
Forwarded by Dick Haar
A man owned a small farm in Iowa. The Iowa Wage & Hour Department claimed
he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to
"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the
"Well, there's my hired hand who's been with me for 3 years. I pay him
$600 a week plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months,
and I pay her $500 a month plus room and board. Then there's the half-wit
that works here about 18 hours a day. He makes $10 a week and I buy him a
bottle of bourbon every week," replied the farmer.
"That's the guy I want to talk to; the half-wit," says the agent.
"That would be me," the farmer answered
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmark
s go to
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory ---
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter
--- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity
and other universities is at
Bob Jensen's home page
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax:
210-999-8134 Email: email@example.com