Tidbits on September 21, 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 ---
25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) ---
Israeli & Jewish Music Samples (some of these are long and slow
to download, but most are lively and festive) ---
I had to download a free RealPlayer add-in utility for the above music, but
everything was quick and automatic after requesting the first music file
If You Ever Leave Me (Will You
Take Me With You) ---
Unknown Legend (the Air She
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
Ancient Eastern Music Meets Modern Technology
The robot was a flop. The laser koto was intriguing. And the two electronic
music concerts presented here last week under the rubric Project RITE
(Reinventing Tradition and Environment) revealed the fertile explorations taking
place outside major concert venues -- explorations informed by everything from
computer science to the ancient Japanese court music called gagaku.
Barbara Jepson, "Ancient Eastern
Music Meets Modern Technology," The Wall Street Journal, September 15,
2005; Page D7 ---
Move your mouse around and experience the dynamic panorama (free Quicktime
At panoramas.dk you can see interactive 360 degree
panoramas also called VR Photography by some of the best VR Photographers in the
world. They are presented in Fullscreen and you need Quicktime New panoramas are
presented weekly. Scroll down for the last features. The Archive contains more
than 160 panoramas from all the world.
Never seen a fullscreen 360 degree QTVR panorama before? Just click on the image
to see the featured panorama this week.
Panoramic photographs in Virtual Sweden ---
Why is a student at Our Lady of the Lakes University (San Antonio) asking
the Justice Department to ferret out a problem at that university?
A student at Our Lady of the Lakes University has
asked the U.S. Justice Department to rule that the San Antonio institution is
violating her rights by barring her ferret from classes, according to KSAT news.
The student says that she suffers from a variety of mental disorders and needs
the ferret to get through the day.
Inside Higher Ed, September 22, 2005 ---
Bush Pays Off
Bush's proposed spending on Katrina amounts to
$400,000 per family!
Whatever It Takes' Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?
In his Katrina policy the president is telling
Democrats, "You can't possibly outspend me. Go ahead, try. By the time this is
over Dennis Kucinich will be crying uncle, Bernie Sanders will be screaming
about pork." That's what's behind Mr. Bush's huge, comforting and boondogglish
plan to spend $200 billion or $100 billion or whatever--"whatever it takes"--on
Katrina's aftermath. And, I suppose, tomorrow's hurricane aftermath.
Peggy Noonan, "'Whatever It Takes' Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?"
The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005 ---
When Katrina slammed into New Orleans, FEMA quickly dispatched 200 trucks
full of ice --- to Maine!
Do you suppose they're filling up to head for Fairbanks when Rita slams into the
The trucks started arriving this weekend, and they're
expected to keep coming through Sunday. City officials say they have no idea why
the trucks are here, only that the city has been asked to help out with traffic
problems. But the truck drivers NEWSCENTER spoke to said they went all the way
down to the gulf coast with the ice -- stayed for a few days -- and then were
told by FEMA they needed to drive to Maine to store it. The truck drivers, who
are from all over the country, tell us they were subcontracted by FEMA . . . The
truck drivers, who are from all over the country, tell us they were
subcontracted by FEMA. They started arriving over the weekend, and city
spokesperson Peter Dewitt says as many as 200 trucks could come to the city by
the end of the week.
"FEMA Sends Trucks Full Of Ice For Katrina Victims To Maine,: Ksdk.com,
September 21, 2005 ---
"Fixing FEMA Five Provocative Proposals." by John Helyar, Fortune,
October 3, 2005 ---
The Inevitable Water versus Wind Homeowner Claims Disputes
Homeowners on the Gulf Coast say insurers such as State
Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide aren’t playing fair. If floodwaters are swept
into a home, is the wind to blame?
John Simmons, "A Civil War Over Claims?" Fortune, October 3, 2005 ---
PLANET-DISSOLVING DUST CLOUD IS HEADED TOWARD EARTH!
Is this a tabloid headline or is it a distinct possibility?
I lean toward the tabloid side and will not yet commence constructing an ark in
my barn in New Hampshire.
"The existence of this so called chaos cloud is only a theory. Americans
shouldn't panic until all the facts are in."
"PLANET-DISSOLVING DUST CLOUD IS HEADED TOWARD EARTH!" by Mike Foster,
Yahoo News, September 12, 2005 ---
Scared-stiff astronomers have detected a mysterious
mass they've dubbed a "chaos cloud" that dissolves everything in its path,
including comets, asteroids, planets and entire stars -- and it's headed
directly toward Earth!
Discovered April 6 by NASA's Chandra X-ray
Observatory, the swirling, 10 million-mile- wide cosmic dust cloud has been
likened to an "acid nebula" and is hurtling toward us at close to the speed
of light -- making its estimated time of arrival 9:15 a.m. EDT on June 1,
"The good news is that this finding confirms
several cutting- edge ideas in theoretical physics," announced Dr. Albert
Sherwinski, a Cambridge based astrophysicist with close ties to NASA.
"The bad news is that the total annihilation of our
solar system is imminent."
Experts believe the chaos cloud is composed of
particles spawned near the event horizon of a black hole (a form of what's
called Hawking Radiation) that have been distorted by mangled information
spewed from the hole.
"A super-massive black hole lies about 28,000
light-years from Earth at the center of our galaxy," explained Dr.
"Last year the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking
revised his theory of black holes -- which previously held that nothing
could escape the hole's powerful gravitational field. He demonstrated that
information about objects that have been sucked in can be emitted in mangled
"It now appears that mangled information can
"Just imagine our galaxy the Milky Way as a
beautiful, handwritten letter.
"Now imagine pouring a glass of water on the paper
and watching the words dissolve as the stain spreads. That's what the chaos
cloud does to every star or planet it encounters."
To avoid widespread panic, NASA has declined to
make the alarming discovery public. But Dr. Sherwinski's contacts at the
agency's Chandra X-ray Observatory leaked to him striking images of the
newly discovered chaos cloud obliterating a large asteroid.
"It's like watching a helpless hog being dissolved
in a vat of acid," one NASA scientist told Dr. Sherwinski.
Ordinarily, Hawkings Radiation is harmless.
"It's produced when an electron- positron pair are
at the event horizon of a black hole," Dr. Sherwinski explained. "The
intense curvature of space-time of the hole can cause the positron to fall
in, while the electron escapes."
But when "infected" by mangled information from the
black hole, the particles become a chaos cloud, which in turn mangles
everything it touches.
"If it continues unchecked, the chaos cloud will
eventually reduce our galaxy to the state of absolute chaos that existed
before the birth of the universe," the astrophysicist warned.
Some scientists say mankind's best hope would be to
build a "space ark" and hightail it to the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.1 million
"We wouldn't be able to save the entire human
population, but perhaps the best and the brightest," observed British rocket
scientist Dr. David Hall, when asked about the feasibility of such a
But even if such a craft could be built in time,
evacuating Earth might prove fruitless if theories about the origin of the
chaos cloud are correct.
"A black hole at the center of Andromeda is about
15 times the size of the one in our own galaxy," Dr. Sherwinski noted. "It
might be like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire."
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a senior
White House official said the president's top science advisors are taking
the findings in stride.
"This is a lot like global warming, where the jury
is still out on whether it's real or not," said the official.
"The existence of this so called chaos cloud is
only a theory. Americans shouldn't panic until all the facts are in."
After reading through the above module, I
decided I really need the module below.
There's hope for all of you if Bob Jensen
heeds the message!
"Time saving tips on wasting time on the web,"
Christian Science Monitor, September
14, 2005 ---
There are only a few pins on this sad map
Mailinator is about saving you from spam. But in the
process it ends up getting plenty of its own (averaging over a million emails a
day!). This map
shows (in semi-realtime) ip addresses that are currently sending the most spam
to Mailinator ---
When will you meet your Braine L'Alleud?
. . . most people don't know that the battle of Waterloo (famous as Napoleon's
defeat) was NOT fought in Waterloo, or even anywhere NEAR Waterloo! It was
fought outside the town of Braine L'Alleud, towards the town of Mont St. Jean
(where Hugo wrote Les Miserables). But everyone believes Napoleon lost at
"Waterloo", because that's what the London Times reported!
David Fordham, James Madison University
"Fewer A’s at Princeton," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed,
September 20, 2005 ---
Princeton University students need to work harder
for the A’s.
The university released results Monday
of the first year under a new grading policy, designed to
tackle the issue of grade inflation. In the last academic
year, A’s (including plus and minus grades) accounted for
40.9 percent of all grades awarded. That may not be
consistent with a bell curve, but the figure is down from
46.0 percent the previous year, and 47.9 percent the year
is to have A’s account for less than 35 percent of the
grades awarded. Nancy Malkiel, dean of the college at
Princeton, said that based on progress during the first
year, she thought the university would have no difficulty
achieving that goal.
The data indicate that some fields
have come quite close to the target while others lag. The
only category that stayed the same the year the new policy
took effect (natural sciences) was already near the target.
Percentage of Undergraduate A’s
at Princeton, by Disciplinary Category
The university did not impose
quotas, but asked each department to review grading policies
and to discuss ways to bring grades down to the desired
level. Departments in turn discussed expectations for
different types of courses, and devised approaches to use.
For independent study and thesis grades, the Princeton
guidelines expect higher grades than for regular
undergraduate courses, and that was the case last year.
Malkiel said that she wasn’t
entirely certain about the differences among disciplines,
but that, generally, it was easier for professors to bring
grades down when they evaluate student work with exams and
problem sets than with essays. She said that by sharing
ideas among departments, however, she is confident that all
disciplines can meet the targets.
Universities should take grade
inflation seriously, she said, as a way to help their
“The issue here is how we do
justice to our students in our capacity as educators, and we
have a responsibility to show them the difference between
their very best work and their good work, and if we are
giving them the same grades for the very best work and for
their good work, they won’t know the difference and we won’t
stretch them as far as they are capable as stretching,” she
Despite the additional pressure on
students who want A’s, she said, professors have not
reported any increase in students complaining about or
appealing the grades.
In discussions about grade
inflation nationally, junior faculty members have complained
that it is hard for them to be rigorous graders for fear of
getting low student evaluations. Malkiel said that she
understood the concern, and that Princeton’s approach — by
focusing attention on the issue — would help. “What this
institution is saying loud and clear is that all of us
together are expected to be responsible. So if you have a
culture where the senior faculty are behaving that way, it
will make it easier for the junior faculty to behave that
Melisa Gao, a senior at Princeton
and editor in chief of The Daily Princetonian, said
that student reactions to the tougher grading policy have
varied, depending on what people study. Gao is a chemistry
major and she said that the new policy isn’t seen as a
change in her department.
Professors have drawn attention to
the new policy at the beginning of courses, and Gao said
that some students say that they are more stressed about
earning A’s, but that there has not been any widespread
criticism of the shift.
Many companies are recruiting on
campus now, and Gao said that students have wondered if they
would be hurt by their lower grades. Princeton officials
have said that they are telling employers and graduate
schools about the policy change, so students would not be
punished by it.
But, Gao added, “at the end of the
day, you have a number on a transcript.”
Bob Jensen's threads on grade inflation and teaching evaluations are at
Katrina a Textbook in What Not to Do
Katrina is what classrooms call a teachable moment.
Everyone is picking through the mistakes from all levels of government for
lessons that will spare more lives and property when disaster visits the country
"Katrina a Textbook in What Not to Do," SmartPros, September 19, 2005 ---
The Big Will Just Get Bigger
Will Windows Upgrade Hand Power to Big Media?
Microsoft's successor to the Windows XP operating
system, known as Windows Vista, will come with new technologies meant to provide
a secure digital media environment. The idea is to make it easier to download
HDTV-quality video to your desktop or laptop. But, in the process, critics fear
you will lose something: the freedom to use whatever hardware or software you
want. So what you'll hear about Vista depends on whom you ask. According to
Microsoft representatives, the new operating system (which was known until
recently by its Microsoft code name, Longhorn, and is now scheduled to ship in
late-2006) will be a vastly more secure platform for delivering high-quality
entertainment content. But ask analysts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
the well-known Internet civil-rights organization based in San Francisco, and
you'll hear talk of Vista turning into a highly restrictive sandbox--where only
the major movie studios decide who can play.
Andy Patrizio, "Will Windows Upgrade Hand Power to Big Media?" MIT's
Technology Review, September 19, 2005 ---
A Katrina Fill Up for Every Pork Barrel:
The frenzy to pay for Katrina reminds me a lot about the frenzy at Enron just
before it imploded with creative accounting rather than sane financial
management: Bush just can't say no with his unused veto pen!
"Welcome to the GOP's New New Deal," by Stephen Moore, The Wall Street
Journal, September 19, 2005; Page A17 ---
There's an old adage that no one in Washington can
tell the difference between $1 million and $1 billion. Seldom has that
Beltway learning disability been more vividly demonstrated than in the weeks
When President Bush announced last Thursday that
the feds would take a lead role in the reconstruction of New Orleans, he in
effect established a new $200 billion federal line of credit. To put that
$200 billion in perspective, we could give every one of the 500,000 families
displaced by Katrina a check for $400,000, and they could each build a beach
front home virtually anywhere in America.
This flood of money comes on the heels of a massive
domestic spending build-up in progress well before Katrina traveled its
ruinous path. Federal spending, not counting the war in Iraq, was growing by
7% this year, which came atop the 30% hike over Mr. Bush's first term.
Republicans were already being ridiculed as the Grand Old Spending Party by
taxpayer groups. Their check-writing binge in response to the hurricane only
confirmed, as conservative leader Paul Weyrich put it, that "the GOP, once
the party of small government, has lost its bearings and the Republican
establishment doesn't seem to get the message that the grass roots of the
party is enraged."
Congressman Todd Aiken of Missouri complains that
Congress was forced to vote on the $62 billion first installment of funds
"even though we knew a lot of the money may go to waste." Mr. Aiken and
several dozen other House conservatives proposed an amendment to the $62
billion hurricane relief bill that would offset at least some of the
emergency spending by cutting other government programs a meager 2.5 cents
out of every dollar that federal agencies spend.
Was the amendment defeated? No. The Republican
leadership would not even allow it to come to a vote, on the grounds that
there was no waste which could be easily identified and cut.
Dozens of other reasonable proposals to offset
Katrina's tidal wave of deficit spending have been similarly repelled. Mike
Pence of Indiana suggested a one-year delay on the multitrillion dollar new
prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. For 220 years, seniors have
managed without this give-away; one more year of waiting would hardly be an
act of cruelty. It would save $40 billion, but there were no takers. Then
there was the well-publicized idea by Republicans and several Democrats in
Congress to cut $25 billion for bike paths, train-station renovations,
nature trails, parking garages, auto museums and 6,000 other such pork
projects in the just-enacted highway law. It was torpedoed by the powerful
committee chairmen who patched this abominable bill together in the first
It's only been 10 days since reconstruction funds
were voted out of Congress, but there are already stories of misspending.
For example, the Louis Vuitton store reported selling two monographed luxury
handbags for $800 each, both paid for by women with FEMA's $2,000 emergency
disaster relief debit cards.
Rapacious trial lawyers are already on the hunt
rounding up Katrina's victims to unleash a barrage of multimillion dollar
lawsuits. Now they have been empowered by Congress to finance these lawsuits
against taxpayers … with taxpayer dollars.
The government has just allocated $250 million for
"counseling and legal services." After 9/11, the federal government
authorized tens of millions of dollars for "counseling" to traumatized
families of the victims. A Republican Study Committee audit discovered that
millions went for "peace" and "diversity" workshops, a "yearlong celebration
of trees, gardens and other healing places," theater workshops,
anger-management classes and multiculturalism programs to discuss "who we
are and why we are here." (Isn't that what churches are for?)
Politicians from seemingly every congressional
district appear to be elbowing their way to the orgy table for a slice of
this $200-billion pie. At last count, 12 governors declared their states
emergency disaster areas, and thus eligible for federal aid. Iowa, Michigan
and Utah, for example, states nowhere near the Hurricane, are lining up for
disaster relief funds.
Conspicuously missing from the post-Katrina
spending debate is a question for some brave soul in Congress to ask, What
is the appropriate and constitutional role here for the federal government?
Before the New Deal taught us that the federal government is the solution to
every malady, most congresses and presidents would have concluded that the
federal government's role was minimal. One of our greatest presidents,
Democrat Grover Cleveland, vetoed an appropriation for drought victims
because there was no constitutional authority to spend for such purposes.
Today he would be ridiculed by Ted Kennedy as "incompassionate."
We all want to see New Orleans rebuilt, but it does
not follow that this requires more than $100 billion in federal aid. Chicago
was burned to the ground in 1871; San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake
in 1906; and in 1900 Galveston, Texas, was razed by a hurricane even more
ferocious than Katrina. In each instance, these proud cities were rebuilt
rapidly and to even greater glory -- with hardly any federal money.
Alas, in the world of compassionate conservatism,
the quaint notion of limited federal power has fallen to the wayside in
favor of an ethic that has Uncle Sam as first, second and third responder to
crisis. FEMA, despite its woeful performance, will grow in size and stature.
So will the welfare state. Welcome to the new New Dealism of the GOP.
Both political parties are now willing and eager to
spend tax dollars as if they were passing out goody-bags to grabby
four-year-olds at a birthday party. The Democrats are already forging their
2006 and 2008 message: We will spend just as many trillions of dollars as
Republicans, but we will spend them better than they do. After witnessing
the first few Republican misappropriations for Hurricane Katrina, the
Democrats may very well be right.
FEMA Battered by Waste, Fraud
The national disaster response agency that mishandled
the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe has for years been fraught with waste and
fraud. In five years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency poured at least
$330 million into communities that were spared the devastating effects of fires,
hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, an investigation by the South Florida
Sun-Sentinel has found. Taxpayers' money meant to help victims recover from
catastrophes has instead gone to people in communities that suffered little or
no damage, including . . .
Sally Kestin, "FEMA Battered by Waste, Fraud: After some recent disasters,
money poured into areas that suffered little or no damage," South Florida
Sun-Sentinel, September 18 2005 ---
Vive la Difference
Author unknown (at least to me)
Race, class and gender:
Gender differences debunked
The theory that "men are from Mars and
women from Venus" is a myth, according to new research.
Psychologists in the US have found that the two sexes are far
more similar than we have been led to believe. And they say the
stereotype may be hampering both sexes in their personal and
professional lives. The best-selling 1993 self-help book Men Are
From Mars, Women Are From Venus suggests that better
communication between the sexes can be promoted by conceiving of
them as coming from different planets, with different behaviour
and value systems. But researchers from the University of
Wisconsin reviewed 46 studies conducted during the last 20 years
looking at gender differences. They say the idea that men and
women are so psychologically distant has been vastly
overestimated in the media, and that they are in fact more
similar in personality, communication, mental skills and
leadership than has been realised.
Jonathan Lessware, "Gender theory brought back to earth,"
Scottsman, September 19, 2005 ---
Race, class, and gender: Class hypocrisy among
“Though academics are good at
theorizing class when it happens to other people,” as Hayot puts
it, “in my experience they’re not great at explaining or even
seeing it as it operates in their own world.... Class in the
American university is a subject that fades continually into the
background, like a photograph that wishes incessantly the return
to its condition as unmarked, unfixed film.”
Scott McClemee, "Class Dismissed, Inside Higher Ed,
September 20, 2005 ---
That N-word on campus
Bob Jensen's threads about hypocrisy in academia the media are at
complained about cartoonist depictions of Condoleezza Rice.
"Explosion Over the N-Word," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed,
September 20, 2005 ---
When Kanye West blasted President
Bush’s treatment of poor black people in New Orleans after
Katrina hit, the rapper unintentionally set off a hurricane
of words in Florida.
Florida Alligator, the student
newspaper, ran a
cartoon last week
that criticized West’s statements by showing
him holding a large playing card marked “The
Race Card,” and having Condoleezza Rice, the
secretary of state, exclaim with scorn at
West: “Nigga Please!” Since the cartoon ran,
there have been multiple rallies against the
student newspaper, with the latest drawing
several hundred on Monday; the president of
the university and other senior officials
have condemned the cartoon and called on the
paper to apologize for it; and there have
been reports that students reading the paper
on campus have had other students come up
and grab the paper away from them, saying
that it is racist.
In a statement
published in the newspaper, Bernie Machen,
Florida’s president, said of the cartoon,
“Such depictions reinforce hurtful and
damaging stereotypes. They poison the
ongoing struggle to overcome the racial
barriers that divide our country, and give
comfort to bigots who seek affirmation for
their racism.” He added that he and many
students and faculty members were “disgusted
by the image and discouraged that such an
insensitive cartoon could be published in a
newspaper that, while independent from the
university, is written and edited by UF
The newspaper is
holding its ground and refusing to
apologize. In fact, it is going on the
offensive, calling many of its critics
published Monday noted that the university
has invited West and numerous other
performers to its campus, paying them tens
of thousands of dollars — even though they
use various forms of the n-word in their
In addition, the
editorial noted that some of the students
who are leading attacks on the paper use
forms of the n-word in their profiles on
Facebook, the popular Web site with which
college students meet others and stay in
touch with their friends. Many black
students at Florida, the editorial said, are
members of a group called “N*ggas That
editor of the paper, said in an interview
Monday that the university was using “double
standards” to criticize the paper. Editorial
cartoons need to be short and to the point,
and good cartoons get people talking and
thinking, he said, adding that this one
succeeded. “I would run it again tomorrow,”
It seems more likely that the New Orleans police officers themselves were
It was like a modern-day treasure map: a
computerised diagram of neighbourhoods with codes marking the addresses where US
National Guard soldiers discovered caches of goods taken by looters in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "There's probably still loot out there," said
Capt. Gregg McGowan. "We're not going house to house looking for it, but if we
find it, we secure it so police can check it." In the chaos that followed
Katrina's flooding, looters targeted everything from grocery stores to gun shops
to trendy women's clothing boutiques.
"Katrina's hidden loot," News24.com, September 19, 2005 ---
Divorce Myths Versus Facts (from a sociology professor)
"Debunking Divorce Myths," by David Popenoe, Discovery Heath,
September 15, 2005 ---
Fact: Divorce rates are rising.
Fact: Nearly half of all marriages end in
Fact: There are ten myths of divorce.
Divorce Myth 1: Because people learn from
their bad experiences, second marriages tend to be
more successful than first marriages.
Fact: Although many people who divorce have
successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of
remarriages is in fact higher than that of first
Divorce Myth 2: Living together before
marriage is a good way to reduce the chances of
Fact: Many studies have found that those who
live together before marriage have a considerably
higher chance of eventually divorcing. The reasons
for this are not well understood. In part, the type
of people who are willing to cohabit may also be
those who are more willing to divorce. There is some
evidence that the act of cohabitation itself
generates attitudes in people that are more
conducive to divorce, for example the attitude that
relationships are temporary and easily can be ended.
Divorce Myth 3: Divorce may cause problems
for many of the children who are affected by it, but
by and large these problems are not long lasting and
the children recover relatively quickly.
Fact: Divorce increases the risk of
interpersonal problems in children. There is
evidence, both from small qualitative studies and
from large-scale, long-term empirical studies, that
many of these problems are long lasting. In fact,
they may even become worse in adulthood.
Divorce Myth 4: Having a child together will
help a couple to improve their marital satisfaction
and prevent a divorce.
Fact: Many studies have shown that the most
stressful time in a marriage is after the first
child is born. Couples who have a child together
have a slightly decreased risk of divorce compared
to couples without children, but the decreased risk
is far less than it used to be when parents with
marital problems were more likely to stay together
"for the sake of the children."
Divorce Myth 5: Following divorce, the
woman's standard of living plummets by 73 percent
while that of the man's improves by 42 percent.
Fact: This dramatic inequity, one of the most
widely publicized statistics from the social
sciences, was later found to be based on a faulty
calculation. A reanalysis of the data determined
that the woman's loss was 27 percent while the man's
gain was 10 percent. Irrespective of the magnitude
of the differences, the gender gap is real and seems
not to have narrowed much in recent decades.
Divorce Myth 6: When parents don't get along,
children are better off if their parents divorce
than if they stay together.
Fact: A recent large-scale, long-term study
suggests otherwise. While it found that parents'
marital unhappiness and discord have a broad
negative impact on virtually every dimension of
their children's well-being, so does the fact of
going through a divorce. In examining the negative
impacts on children more closely, the study
discovered that it was only the children in very
high-conflict homes who benefited from the conflict
removal that divorce may bring. In lower-conflict
marriages that end in divorce — and the study found
that perhaps as many as two thirds of the divorces
were of this type — the situation of the children
was made much worse following a divorce. Based on
the findings of this study, therefore, except in the
minority of high-conflict marriages it is better for
the children if their parents stay together and work
out their problems than if they divorce.
Divorce Myth 7: Because they are more
cautious in entering marital relationships and also
have a strong determination to avoid the possibility
of divorce, children who grow up in a home broken by
divorce tend to have as much success in their own
marriages as those from intact homes.
Fact: Marriages of the children of divorce
actually have a much higher rate of divorce than the
marriages of children from intact families. A major
reason for this, according to a recent study, is
that children learn about marital commitment or
permanence by observing their parents. In the
children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a
lifelong marriage has been undermined.
Divorce Myth 8: Following divorce, the
children involved are better off in stepfamilies
than in single-parent families.
Fact: The evidence suggests that stepfamilies
are no improvement over single-parent families, even
though typically income levels are higher and there
is a father figure in the home. Stepfamilies tend to
have their own set of problems, including
interpersonal conflicts with new parent figures and
a very high risk of family breakup.
Divorce Myth 9: Being very unhappy at certain
points in a marriage is a good sign that the
marriage will eventually end in divorce.
Fact: All marriages have their ups and downs.
Recent research using a large national sample found
that 86 percent of people who were unhappily married
in the late 1980s, and stayed with the marriage,
indicated when interviewed five years later that
they were happier. Indeed, three fifths of the
formerly unhappily married couples rated their
marriages as either "very happy" or "quite happy."
Divorce Myth 10: It is usually men who
initiate divorce proceedings.
Fact: Two-thirds of all divorces are
initiated by women. One recent study found that many
of the reasons for this have to do with the nature
of our divorce laws. For example, in most states
women have a good chance of receiving custody of
their children. Because women more strongly want to
keep their children with them, in states where there
is a presumption of shared custody with the husband
the percentage of women who initiate divorces is
much lower. Also, the higher rate of women
initiators is probably due to the fact that men are
more likely to be "badly behaved." Husbands, for
example, are more likely than wives to have problems
with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.
Copyright 2002 by David Popenoe, the National
Marriage Project at Rutgers University, New
Popenoe is professor of sociology at Rutgers
University, where he is also co-director of the
National Marriage Project and former social and
behavioral sciences dean. He specializes in the
study of family and community life in modern
societies and is the author or editor of nine books.
His most recent books are Life Without Father:
Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage
Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and
Society and Promises to Keep: Decline and
Renewal of Marriage in America.
Divorce: The problem more likely than not is money rather than sex
The annual cost of owning, not the price of the
house itself, is what homebuyers should (and do) consider when contemplating a
purchase. And when comparing the cost of owning with annual rent or annual
income -- which is a good way of determining whether house prices are out of
whack in relation to the rental market or families' ability to pay -- annual
cost is the right measure to use. That cost is simply the net cash outflow
required to own a house for a year -- namely, the after-tax cost of financing
the purchase price either by borrowing or through the lost risk-adjusted return
on the equity tied up in the house, plus carrying costs such as maintenance and
economic depreciation -- less the expected appreciation on the property.
Chris Mayer and Todd Sinai, "Bubble Trouble? Not Likely," The Wall Street
Journal, September 19, 2005; Page A16 ---
Divorce: Go to the boutiques to shop for a lover after your divorce
Online social networking is moving from the dating
warehouses found on sites like Yahoo and Match.com to boutiques where people can
find companions with similar interests. Sites aimed at all types of people from
animal lovers and cowboys to boat enthusiasts are popping up all over the
Internet. These emerging niches, according to a story on today's InternetWeek,
are part of an overall market that's becoming big business—$473 million last
InternetWeek Newsletter, September 19, 2005
It's going to be a close shave: Gillette's new five-blade wonder
Yet there's good reason to believe Fusion can repeat
Mach history. For starters, it offers compelling technology. Like Mach3, it
incorporates multiple innovations -- not just more blades. By spacing the blades
30% closer than before, Gillette says it has created a new "shaving surface"
that reduces irritation. Fusion also features a smoother coating on its blades,
and an enhanced "Lubrastrip" infused with vitamin E and aloe. As it goes head to
head with Schick, Gillette maintains that the combination of these improvements
produces a shaving experience that most men find significantly superior. Peter
Hoffman, president of Gillette's Blades & Razors Div., says Fusion was tested on
some 9,000 men, who compared it to both Mach3 products and Quattro. "They
preferred Fusion by a 2-to-1 margin over its rivals," says Hoffman. That's the
same kind of overwhelming preference men showed for Mach3 over its rivals back
William C. Symonds, "Gillette's Five-Blade Wonder," Business Week,
September 15, 2005 ---
Jensen Comment: Can you imagine the shelf space stores must now take up
with refills from the past four decades of different types of blade razors from
Tiresome articles (she's written at least two) about gender differences in
that I just don't think exist in my university: We have equal opportunity
and I haven't yet discovered the "Golden Boys" on our campus.
Despite our sexually progressive campus, bitches
must be women, and golden boys will be boys. Good soldiers alone promise equal
access to all. Bitches and golden boys needn’t work very hard to earn their
titles. Often, the die is cast before heels or oxfords touch down on sod. A
woman, rumor has it, might have asked for too much start-up money upon receiving
her offer. Golden boy status is often earned far, far earlier — frequently,
birth, does the trick. While many bitches belie the canine etymology of their
label — many of our local brood are quite stunning — for men, being golden often
means, well, being golden. And tall.
"Bitches, Good Soldiers and Golden Boys," Inside Higher Ed, January 19,
Is she from Mars? I don't think my liberal arts college would sanction a
"The Quotidian Miasma of Discrimination," by "Phyllis Barone," " Inside
Higher Ed, August 17, 2005 ---
Brown University discovers the real meaning of diversity by hiring a
particular African American
Loury, an economist who doesn’t like the way he is
tagged by some as a conservative, freely acknowledges that he stands out as a
black scholar who rejects some views that are widely held among black scholars.
For example, Loury has questioned the value of affirmative action. So where is
Loury now? He has moved to Brown University, an institution frequently mocked
and attacked by conservatives for being politically correct. Loury says that his
move may suggest that he and his new university both may not be what others
"A Less Leftist Brown," Inside Higher Ed, September 16, 2005 ---
From Brown University
Radical America (Metadata and Magazine) ---
How sad that more can't be done for cities worse off than New
Detroit: America's worst junk yard
Like Eminem, Paul Clemens is white.
But unlike Eminem, Mr. Clemens grew up inside the city itself,
not in its suburbs. "Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir"
(Doubleday, 244 pages, $23.95) is an insightful but ultimately
despairing tale of coming of age in one of America's tougher
cities. "By the time I was born," asserts Mr. Clemens,
"civilization surrounded the city and the Wild West lawlessness
was contained within." . . . Not surprisingly, Mr. Clemens tends
to see Detroit's recent history as an indicator of what may lie
ahead for American society as a whole. "Whites, a minority in
Detroit for many decades now, may some decades hence become a
national minority," he writes. "The Motor City, as ever, remains
ahead of the racial curve -- a case study, or cautionary tale."
No doubt Detroit is a cautionary tale, though of exactly what is
harder to say. For one thing, the city's decline began well
before Coleman Young. Nearly two million people lived in Detroit
at its postwar peak; the population had already declined to 1.5
million by 1970. (The latest Census estimate is less than
Tom Bray, "Running on Empty," The Wall Street Journal
September 20, 2005; Page D8 ---
Detroit has surpassed Cleveland as the nation's most
impoverished big city, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's
American Community Survey.
Survey figures released Tuesday
show 33.6 percent - more than one-third - of Detroit's
residents lived at or below the federal poverty line in
2004, the largest percentage of any U.S. city of 250,000 or
more people. The top five were Detroit; El Paso, Texas (28.8
percent); Miami (28.3 percent); Newark, N.J. (28.1 percent);
and Atlanta (27.8 percent). Detroit has lost about half its
population since a half-century ago. It is now the country's
11th largest city with just over 900,000 residents.
Cleveland, which was No. 1 in 2003, dropped to No. 12 as the
percentage of its residents living in poverty fell from 31.3
percent to 23.2 percent. The poverty threshold differs by
the size and makeup of a household. A family of four with
two children was considered living in poverty if their
income was $19,157 or less. For a family of two with no
children, it was $12,649. It was $9,060 for a person 65 or
over who was living alone. Nearly half of Detroit's children
under age 18 are impoverished, according to the survey. With
47.8 percent of its children living in poverty, Detroit
trailed only Atlanta (48.1 percent) among the largest
"Detroit now ranks as nation's poorest big city," Free
, August 31, 2005 ---
New Orleans (before the Katrina disaster) in 2004 ranked low
in household income at 62 out of 70 cities ranked. However,
well over half the families in New Orleans earned enough to
pay income taxes on earnings.
The rankings for 2004 are at
The rankings for 2003 are at
Students under stress in Canada
Canadian students are smoking fewer
cigarettes than they were six years ago but the effects of binge
drinking and the prevalence of psychological stress are high and
worrisome, according to the
2004 Canadian Campus Survey.
Inside Higher Ed, September 16, 2005 ---
Jensen Comment: Because of the way students preparing to
become Chartered Accountants must combine work experience with a
series of rugged examinations, I sense that many of those
students are particularly stressed, especially in graduate
school. I doubt that any of them have time for cocktails
let alone binge drinking.
Should our students seriously study foreign languages?
Our colleges and universities encourage study
abroad, develop internationalization initiatives, and welcome international
students, but American students and faculty flee from the serious study of
languages other than English. We teach the literature of our international
trading partners in translation because so few of our students can read anything
of substance in someone else’s language. And, as we usually do in American
academic circles, we worry about all this a lot.
John Lombardi, "Should Our Students Study Chinese?" Inside Higher
Ed, September 16, 2005 ---
The Institute for Higher Education Policy ---
The mission of the Institute for
Higher Education Policy is to foster access and success in postsecondary
education through public policy research and other activities that inform
and influence the policymaking process.
This U.N Document is "is still a remarkable expression of world unity"
The "outcome document" adopted last Friday at the end
of the United Nations world summit has been described as "disappointing" or
"watered down." This is true in part -- and I said as much in my own speech to
the summit on Wednesday. But taken as a whole, the document is still a
remarkable expression of world unity on a wide range of issues. And that came as
welcome news, after weeks of tense negotiations. As late as last Tuesday
morning, when world leaders were already arriving in New York, there were still
140 disagreements involving 27 unresolved issues. A final burst of
take-it-or-leave-it diplomacy allowed the document to be finalized, but so late
in the day that reporters and commentators had no time to analyze the full text
before passing judgment. It is no criticism of them to say that many of their
judgments are now being revised, or at least nuanced.
Kofi A. Annan, "A Glass at Least Half-Full," The Wall Street Journal,
September 19, 2005; Page A16 ---
Tyco Fraud Update
First a quote from 2004
PricewaterhouseCoopers also fell prone to faulty risk assessments. In July, the
SEC forced Tyco, the industrial conglomerate, to restate its profits, which it
inflated by $1.15 billion, pretax, from 1998 to 2001. The next month, the SEC
barred the lead partner on the firm's Tyco audits from auditing publicly
registered companies. His alleged offense: fraudulently representing to
investors that his firm had conducted a proper audit. The SEC in its complaint
said that the auditor, Richard Scalzo, who settled without admitting or denying
the allegations, saw warning signs about top Tyco executives' integrity but
never expanded his team's audit procedures.
"Behind Wave of Corporate Fraud: A Change in How Auditors Work: 'Risk Based'
Model Narrowed Focus of Their Procedures, Leaving Room for Trouble,' " by
Jonathan Weil, The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2004, Page A1
You can read a longer part of the above article at
Dennis Kozlowski is eligible
for parole in eight years on a 25-year sentence. This is far too lenient
and once again shows how white collar crime is punished much too lightly ---
But at least Dennis is not going to do his 8/25 in Club Fed (of course in Club
Fed he would probably not get such an early parole opportunity.
"Tyco Endgame," The Wall Street
Journal, September 20, 2005; Page A16 ---
There aren't any $6,000 shower curtains in New York
state prisons, where Tyco felons Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz will be
enjoying all or part of the next 25 years. The former CEO and CFO were
sentenced yesterday for their roles in looting $600 million from their
company and paying off one or more directors to avert their eyes. They won't
become eligible for parole until about seven years.
Thus concludes one of the sorrier chapters in U.S.
business history. And while it took a while -- the first Tyco trial ended in
mistrial -- the outcome strikes us as just. Not because of their greed --
there's no law against lavish living yet -- but because of their crimes.
Messrs. Kozlowski and Swartz were convicted in June on 22 counts of grand
larceny and conspiracy. The verdicts were a victory for Manhattan District
Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who last week survived a tough primary
Of all the fin de siècle corporate scandals, the
Tyco heist has always seemed the most audacious, a case of stealing money in
plain sight. If you want to liven up the conversation at a business lunch,
mention former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Chairman Ken Lay and whether
they were complicit in the fraud for which several former executives have
been convicted. There are still those who believe former WorldCom CEO
Bernard Ebbers was unaware of the fraud that was taking place under his
nose, despite his conviction. The Tyco scandal didn't inspire such
Messrs. Kozlowski and Swartz aren't headed for Club
Fed by the way; under New York correctional policy, criminals with their
sentences usually serve their time in maximum-security prisons. In addition,
they were ordered to pay restitution and fines of $175 million. A case of
justice in plain sight.
Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at
Bob Jensen's threads on Tyco can be found in various places at
2005 message from Andrew Priest
Just wondering if anyone has seen this
movie/documentary? Interested in feedback and if it is a good teaching tool?
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (M)
Directed by Alex Gibney, this is the inside story
of one of history’s greatest business scandals, in which top executives of
America’s 7th largest company walked away with over one billion dollars
while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best-selling
book The Smartest Guys in the Room by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and
Peter Elkind and featuring insider accounts and incendiary corporate audio
and videotapes, Gibney reveals the almost unimaginable personal excesses of
the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate
philosophy. The film comes to a harrowing end as we hear Enron traders’ own
voices as they wring hundreds of millions of dollars in profits out of the
California energy crisis. As a result, we come to understand how the avarice
of Enron’s traders and their bosses had a shocking and profound domino
effect that may shape the face of our economy for years to come. [M] 109
mins. <http:// www.enronmovie.com>.
September 15, 2005 reply from
Heidemarie Lundblad [lundblad@GTE.NET]
The movie is entertaining and
factual. It has reduced some of the complex issues to make the subject more
accessible to people not familiar with things such as derivatives, SPEs,
etc. I liked it. Particularly, since it includes the video clip of Jeff
skilling's Titanic joke. As a resident of California I took it the rip-off
of California electicity users by Enron (and others) personally. It has been
argued that the movie is too "left". However, i am not sure how one can
ignore the close political ties of Enron and the current administration.
2005 reply from Miklos Vasarhelyi
I have seen the film in its opening in new york. i
have been involved with a "cooking the books" course for a long time and was
wondering about its educational value.... my conclusion was that the film
really did not deal with any accounting issues as the movie makers did not
understand them and in certain parts they were very sensationalistic and
unfair to the parties involved...
however i always recommend my students to see the
film as it raises awareness of many things.
2005 reply from John Schatzel
The correct site is
(for the Enron DVD) - just type the name of the movie
in the search box and it apparently is available.
I saw the movie this summer. I went into it with an
open mind and left feeling like I learned a few more details about the
situation or whatever spin one wants to put on it. I figured it would be
critical of the people who ran the company and it was. The movie was not
geared toward an audience of accountants. They even said toward the
beginning that this was a story about the people. It could be called the
Lemony Snickets of accounting and a series of unfortunate events. If you are
on the lookout for good stuff to add to your course, the "biggest" problem
with the movie is that it's two hours long and I don't see how one would
easily fit it into an accounting or auditing course. The second problem is
that its not available on DVD yet (or at least it wasn't in August or I
would have just purchased it The book is available.). DVDs are cheap so it's
certainly worth a rental (if you can find one) or a purchase. I teach an
advanced auditing course, which covers a number of cases including ZZZZ
Best, Regina, ESM, and Enron. I use the "Cooking the Books" video as well
because the clips on ZZZZ Best, Regina, and ESM are short and they are
interesting. Even if the "Smartest Guys" video were available, I think you
could only show a few parts of it and those parts would be mostly examples
of ethical matters or the perils of executive management. It's certainly
worth a look, but think it will take a lot of thinking to figure out how to
Prof. John Schatzel
2005 reply from Bob Jensen
the most factual account that I’ve seen is the recent book:
Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of
Fools: A True Study, (Broadway Books, 2005).
This book is very long and
in some parts is very dreary with fact after fact. Although Kurt
Eichenwald’s a New York Times liberal who would love to play up the
role Republican leaders played in Enron’s crimes, their direct roles are
virtually non-existent except for Senator Gramm and his wife Wendy. And
even in the case of Phil Gramm, it seems likely that he was legislating on
free market dogma rather than his own get rich crimes. I think I was overly
tough on Wendy, who served on Enron’s Board, in my early account of the
Enron scandals at
In any case, Wendy should’ve never been allowed to serve on Enron’s board
given her former government executive position in energy regulation and her
marriage to a powerful senator whose voting directly impacted on Enron’s
Enron’s Board of Directors
is less criminal than many of us thought. They were certainly not
competent, and Fastow, Skilling, and Lay were really, really good at
serving up cooked accounting books for Enron’s Board. Ken Lay comes off better than
expected in terms of not being a vile crook, and even Jeff Skilling is duped
(I think in most instances because he just plain didn’t want to listen to
McMahan and other whistle blowers). The CEO at the very top, Ken Lay,
focused to a fault on external relations with politicians and customers.
He showed almost no interest in looking inward at his company even when
criminality clues were thrown in his face. Lay and Skilling were like
the parents who never ask why somebody else's blood is smeared all over the
clothes of their son.
Everybody was afraid of
Andy (is that Adolph?) Fastow, including his bosses Jeff Skilling and
Ken Lay. Literally everybody in Enron who dealt with Andy considered
him a scheming little prick. They just did not realize he was skimming
off $60 million in hidden "management" fees for managing off-balance sheet
SPE funds for which he'd promised Enron's Board that there would be no fees
to him since he was being paid to be the CFO of Enron. Herr Fastow
channeled most of these ill-gotten fees through Michael Kopper or Kopper's
secret gay lover who nobody knew anything about.
The book details how Fastow and Kopper were the dastardly
co-conspirators who stole from Enron itself in a series of
high crimes, especially in their outright fraudulent JME-fund SPEs intended
to hedge Enron's share prices. Instead, the cash was skimmed off or
squandered with ineptitude and replaced with Enron shares themselves.
It's impossible to hedge a company's equity share values by holding the
shares themselves. That's what Sherron Watkins meant, in her whistle
blowing memo to Ken Lay, when she asserted "there's no skin in these funds."
schemes worked with unbelievable luck and lies, because both Fastow and
Kopper come off as also being unbelievably and arrogantly stupid and foolhardy “conspiring fools.”
There were inquiries over time from several executives within Enron, but
Fastow always steered them off by threatening their year-end bonuses if they
tried to investigate Fastow's domain of over 3,000 off-book SPE funds.
Even Fastow's worst enemies buckled at the mere hint of reducing their
compensation. Greed ruled over ethics everywhere in Enron.
(Merrill Lynch, Citibank, etc) who participated in Fastow’s schemes were
sometimes duped by and heavily pressured by Fastow. In a few instances it appears they went along with what
they knew to be unscrupulous dealings by Andy Fastow. Like Enron's
auditing firm Andersen, these
financial institutions just did not want to lose Enron as a client since
Enron gave them so much business. As CFO of Enron, Fastow had the power to
give them business or take it away.
There were also outright
criminals in the energy trading side of Enron, but Fastow was not
particularly involved in those crimes of market manipulation of energy
prices. Enron was an
incredibly complex conglomerate with business ventures that really did not
do much communicating with one another.
When Enron's finances were
caving in just before declaring bankruptcy, virtually all the top executives
turned covertly criminal by sneaking $200 million (about all that was left
in cash) into an obscure bank and writing themselves generous bonuses on
cashiers checks. I say "virtually all" because it is not clear the the
executives at the very top were involved in the bonus scam. Before
then Skilling had resigned and Fastow was fired by the Board of Directors.
Members of the Board had no knowledge of these self-declared executive
bonuses. And Ken Lay never seemed to know anything about anything
except where the next dinner parties were scheduled in Washington DC.
I’ve not yet finished with
the book, but it would seem that Fastow and Kopper got off way too light in
retrospect. Fastow should get life in prison without parole. Kopper should
sit in the same cell for 35 years, and some of the energy traders should be
in cells across the hallway. Lay, Skilling, and most other Enron
executives should be stripped of their
entire fortunes, but I don’t think they deserve prison time. Some would
argue about where the buck stops, but I’m more inclined to ask where it
starts in the case of Enron. The worst crimes, and there were many, lead
back to Fastow, his stooge Kopper, and the traders who delighted in stealing
from state treasuries, especially from California. Oregon, and Washington.
If you care to know what
Enron officials (the Cast of Characters) received in stock sales, you can
see a listing at
An obscure and incompetent trading executive named Lou Pai is the biggest
winner (over $270 million) but that was sheer luck because he got a divorce
long before Enron's share prices plunged. He didn't particularly want
to sell at that time, but when he got a strip tease dancer pregnant Lou's
wife demanded a cash settlement in the divorce. That turned out to be
the luckiest timing in her life or his life. I don't know how much the
dancer got in the end.
What's clear is that
Enron had way too many unethical and unbelievably incompetent executives
(“fools”) like Rebecca Mack who kept throwing billions after badly invested
billions and took most of her pleasures in life in corporate jets and luxury
hotels. She was a very high level executive in charge of all international
operations, including huge electricity and water generating plant
constructions and operations. Skilling and Lay never could teach her the
simple fact that the Return on Investment (ROI) ratio has a denominator. Up
to the very end when Skilling fired her (too long after her billions in
damages), she kept screaming “look at the numbers” where the numbers she
presented were only based on the ROI numerator.
It’s entirely clear at
last that literally every Enron executive considered accounting and banking
games in which the only goal was to manage earnings and otherwise cook the
books. Andersen’s managing partner, David Duncan, comes out very badly in
this book. He ceased being an auditor and turned into an ardent advocate of
Enron book-cooking, especially when it came to making presentations to good
Andersen auditors like Carl Bass. Bass is a hero (well only sort of because
he could’ve been more forceful at Andersen’s headquarters), and Duncan is
what we least want in our auditors --- ever!
Duncan didn’t want to give
up the Andersen Houston Office’s $1 million per week billings from Enron no
matter how burned up (from cooking) the books became. Duncan is also
portrayed as an accounting light weight who spent far more time on the golf
course than in his office. Duncan should also have a cell near Fastow, but
Duncan will probably get off because after being arrested he helped nail
Fastow, Skilling, and Lay.
It must be sad for David
Duncan to live with the fact that he was the lynch pin that brought down the
huge worldwide Andersen auditing and consulting firm. But Andersen probably
would’ve toppled anyway. Andersen’s top executives gave up total quality
management (TQM) of audits (e.g., in Waste Management, Worldcom, etc) long
before Enron’s implosion. Looking back at the deterioration in audit
quality in Andersen, Andersen deserved to die as an auditing firm.
Bob Jensen (with more to
come on the Enron saga)
Bob Jensen’s on-going
threads on Enron are at
If you think a gallon of
gasoline or heating oil is expensive, think of how cheap it is to make a gallon
of soda (a little sweetener
mixed with a lot of water) or beer (mostly fermented water) relative to what it
takes to get oil deep from out of the ground and put it through a very complex
and possibly explosive refining process. And you're still willing to pay
more for a gallon of Coke or Miller Lite or even bottled spring water without
Think about it while, for a moment, not letting your
disdain for oil company executives and Middle Easter sheiks overtake your
What happens when the oil tanks are empty?
Prophets have been warning Americans of the terrible
things in store for decades, but Kunstler joins a fresh corps whose numbers seem
to have been increasing as quickly as the price of gas. The past two years have
seen books with titles like Paul Roberts's The End of Oil, Richard
Heinberg's The Party's Over, Tom Mast's Over a Barrel, and David
Goodstein's Out of Gas and a film called The End of Suburbia by Gregory
Greene, to name a few, and to leave out their long and unsettling subtitles,
most of which approximate Roberts's choice, which is On the Edge of a Perilous
New World. These authors may someday join the ranks of the dated
alarmists--Jeremy Rifkin, among countless others, issued similar warnings in
Entropy in 1980--but then again, they may be right. One may demonstrate that the
alarm rings too often and too soon, but that does not mean that danger will
never come. Kunstler's predictions may seem excessively dire to many, but a
significant number of people are paying attention and getting ready. His book
has been hovering in the top 1,000 on Amazon.com for months, and the topic of
peak oil has gained traction beyond the encouraging environment of the Internet.
In the past 18 months, 82 groups with about 2,000 registered members in cities
around the world have been organized through Meetup.com to discuss the issue. At
a recent meeting of the 100-member New York forum, participants were quoting
Kunstler repeatedly--during, for instance, a discussion of where to move after
Bryant Urstadt, "The Get-Ready Men," MIT's Technology Review, October
A growing, influential body of writers believes that
the exhaustion of cheap oil will be disastrous. In this issue, we take a look at
The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First
Century, by James Howard Kunstler. The author, a novelist and journalist who
has written for the Atlantic and Rolling Stone, writes that we will fall into
"an abyss of economic and social disorder on a scale that no one has seen
before." Are he and his fellow doomsayers right? Hardly. To agree with Kunstler
is to believe that alternative sources of energy cannot replace oil. This means
dismissing the combined powers of natural gas, solar power, wind, coal,
hydroelectric, biomass, and nuclear power. Doomsayers argue that these
alternatives are a "mirage," as Kunstler puts it, because they will never
produce as much energy as cheaply as oil. But that assumes we will not devise
ways to use energy more efficiently. It also ignores the rapid progress in
improving energy technologies, particularly in solar, wind, and nuclear power.
"Solutions Scenario," MIT's Technology Review, October 2005 ---
"Jackson Action," by Charlie Ross, The Wall Street Journal,
September 15, 2005; Page A21 ---
Prior to the legislation, Mississippi was known as
the "jackpot justice capital of America." The American Tort Reform
Association had labeled certain jurisdictions "judicial hellholes." A survey
of more than 1,200 senior in-house counsels for the U.S. Chamber Commerce
ranked Mississippi 50th in virtually every category of judicial system
nationwide. Insurance companies were fleeing the state. Others were refusing
to write new policies. The medical field was particularly strained:
Liability insurance was in many cases unaffordable, and in some cases
One year later, the story is very different. Mass
Mutual Insurance Group, St. Paul Travelers, World Insurance Co. and
Equitable Life Insurance Co. are returning to Mississippi. State Farm
Insurance eased its growth restrictions for homeowners' insurance and
lowered its rates on property insurance.
The Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, which
writes 60% of the medical malpractice coverage for doctors in the state, had
raised its rates 20% the year prior to the tort reform legislation. After
its passage, MACM did not raise its rates at all. "Those people who said
tort reform would not work and actively fought any civil justice reform,"
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said. "I think this indicates
they were wrong." MACM also recently announced an end to its moratorium on
new business; it also just declared it will cut its rates for 2006.
Continued in the article
Exploratorium: Science of Gardening ---
Cleaning out the Vatican's unwanted
The Vatican has ordered investigators to look for
gay students and faculty members at Roman Catholic seminaries in the United
States, The New York Times reported. The investigators have also been asked to
look for faculty members who dissent on church teachings.
Inside Higher Ed, September 15, 2005 ---
An Unwanted the Vatican Overlooked
The Catholic Diocese of Austin is investigating after a
priest called about 15 children to come forward during evening Mass so he could
prick them with an unsterilized pin to demonstrate the pain Jesus suffered
during crucifixion. "What I was trying to teach them is that suffering is a part
of life," said the Rev. Arthur Michalka, 78, on Friday.
"Priest Pricks Children With Pin," CBS News, September 17
How can you play 70 games of baseball, half of which are out of town, and
pretend to go to class?
"The Brutal Truth about College Sports," by
Skip Rozin, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005; Page D7 ---
Big time college sports are a mess. While headlines
hype the new football season and speculate on an eventual champion, accounts
surface daily of athletes' stealing, assaulting women and getting busted on
alcohol and drug charges. And when a title game is played, shadowing the
coverage will be news of woeful graduation rates.
Meanwhile, the juggernaut that is college sports
keeps getting bigger, with more television networks airing more games, not
just on weekends but during the week, and colleges expanding their seasons
to meet TV's unquenchable thirst -- up to 40 games each basketball season
and 70 in baseball.
. . .
College sports' current crisis has generated
unprecedented reform efforts by groups inside and outside the establishment.
The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics and the 16-year-old Knight
Commission on Intercollegiate Athletes, for example, both work in
cooperation with the NCAA. The Drake Group has bypassed the NCAA; its plan
for full disclosure of all classes taken by athletes was read into the
Congressional Record in March by Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky in hopes of
getting Congress involved.
Their combined efforts have netted tougher NCAA
academic requirements, but reform energy still gets bogged down in issues
like the political correctness of team names. Substantive improvement has
been minimal. The system is broken, and the impact is far reaching.
"The transgressions that universities commit in the
name of winning sports undermine the values of the institution," says Derek
Bok, former president of Harvard. "In all too many cases, they tarnish the
reputation of the university by compromising its admissions standards, its
grading practices, and the academic integrity of its curriculum."
To create winning teams, reformers believe,
universities break rules on training, on the allocation of funds to
athletics, and most frequently on athletes' eligibility. Deception begins
early, when schools recruit sports prodigies who are ill-equipped -- or
uninterested -- in academics. Popular rhetoric maintains that these students
are preparing for pro careers, just as medical students are training to be
doctors. This is naïve thinking. The best 1% to 3% may become professionals,
but far too many of the rest are left with no degree and a clouded future.
"The biggest problem is recruiting fine athletes
who should not be in college," says Andy Geiger, who retired this summer as
Ohio State's athletic director after 11 years that included a national
football championship and scandals in football and basketball. "Do we really
want a gifted athlete at our school for any reason other than our own gain?
Are we only in it to use these kids and then spit them out?"
At the core of the college sports problem is an
obsession with winning. Winning is admittedly the goal in all competitions
and is a treasured American characteristic, but universities are supposed to
live by different standards from those that govern big business, the New
York Yankees, or war.
Continued in article
September 15, 2005 reply from Carol Flowers
Having gone through this with a son in sports, I
find the whole thing a joke. I applauded the requirement of 12 units of C to
stay eligible. However, I didn't realize they are not at class most of the
semester -- they seem to be at away games most of the time. Scholarship
offers came with tutorial help (tutoring turns out to be all but non
existent (not to mention that you need to be in the area for the tutor to
tutor). Sports and education don't mix. I only observed one team whose coach
I respected for trying to enforce eligilbility (after the ball game the
athletes went to dinner, then had a mandatory study hall from 8-9 pm at away
games). However, I questioned how much the students absorbed at that hour
and after a big game and dinner!!! But, kudos to the coach for attempting to
keep "education" in the college experience.
I think the problem lies heavily with professional sports team owners.
College is a free way that they can filter out the best athletes who are
put to the test and dump the majority of others who just don’t quite cut it.
It would be analogous to sending all young people to war and then making
professional soldiers out of the ones that win medals.
I think sports are important to the physical and social development of
young people as well as giving them confidence and pride. But I like the way
Trinity does it in NCAA Division 3 where there are no athletic scholarships
and athletes are not dreaming of professional contracts.
September 15, 2005 reply from Paul Williams
Carol, et al,
You have pointed out the real problem in college
athletics for the athlete. Of course it is
hypocritical for the Wall Street Journal to
harumph about college sports. College athletics is big business increasingly
funded and promoted by big business. At NC State we have completed a third
phase of a four phase renovation of the football stadium -- total projected
cost over $100 million dollars. It sits beside the RBC Center (named after a
corporation), where the Wolfpack plays basketball (and the Carolina
Hurricanes play hockey) -- total cost $170 million. When all is said and
done, there will be $300 million dollars invested in two college sports.
Both facilities are plastered with ads for corporations and the luxury
seating (the biggest cost of the facilities) is rented by corporations for
the purpose of entertaining clients. Major college sports are entertainment,
merely a medium for advertising and corporate promotion. Wealthy alumni and
the business community are the prime movers behind the enormous investment
in athletic facilities and the prime providers of the money. The university
goes along because it has Title IX obligations it must finance and the big
revenue sports are what fund it. Women's la crosse does not generate time on
ESPN. And before we bash Title IX, the explosion in women's participation in
sports at the collegiate level indicates that all women lacked was
opportunity. Women crave the opportunity to participate in sport. Women and
the men in the minor sports play for the love of playing. No lucrative pro
career awaits a woman or man playing la crosse, but they work as hard at it
as any of the revenue players.
What to do for the athletes since no university
administrator is going to say let's just scrap our $300 million investment
in facilities -- the alumni would have their head. Let's just quit being
hypocritical about the "student athlete." Much of the problem is the NCAA
and its rules that have a rather Victorian smell to them. Trivial behavior
is criminalized by the NCAA in a vain attempt to foster a prissy rectitude
that has never existed in the history of humankind.
When Tiger Woods was still a college player at
Stanford he played at Bay Hill in Florida. Arnold Palmer wanted to meet with
him, took him to lunch in the grill room, picked up the tab for a burger and
fries and voila put Arnie, Tiger and Stanford in violation of NCAA rules.
The tab was less than $20. There is no longer the amateur athlete -- look
who competes for the US during the Olympics. The problem for the athlete is
being a student AND an athlete at the same time.
Why don't we face the reality of big time college
athletics and take the pressure off of the athlete? During the season, let
the athletes play their sports -- why do they have to be a students at the
same time? Every sport can have a season that corresponds to one semester or
another. Football is played during the fall semester and the bowl season
ends before the start of the second semester. So football players play
football in the fall and are full time students during spring and summer.
Basketball doesn't need to start in November. It could start after final
exams in the fall and, instead of March madness, we could have April
madness. Basketball players would be students in fall and summer semesters.
There is no sport whose season could not be accommodated to just one school
term or another. If a student wanted to and could take classes during the
season, then all well and good. But they shouldn't be made to take them.
As Bernie Sliger, president of FSU when I was
there, harped on constantly, "The more successful the athletic program, the
more money people give to academics." It may be a brutal truth about college
athletics, but most of the brutality is absorbed by the athletes because of
archaic notions of the "scholar/athlete." And we on the academic side
benefit as well. Those athletes bring a lot of resources to us academics,
too. Perhaps a lot of the "crimes" athletic programs commit could be
alleviated if we let young people be a scholar sometime and an athlete
sometime, but quite expecting them to be both.
September 15, 2005 reply from Bob Jensen
Well said about the new NCS Stadium. This reminds me of Rochester/Simon
School's new investment in "games" intended to lift its US News MBA program
ranking from 26th into the Top 10 or Top 5. Has the Wolfpack ever made it
into the media's Top 5 in basketball or football? Perhaps your new $300
million investment will pay off --- if that's the real anticipated payoff.
Also, I think you just made my point when choosing the word "hypocritical"
when the WSJ reported a position harmful of big business. The WSJ is really
two newspapers wrapped into one, where one of those "papers" is allowed to
roam free and call it like some very good reporters roaming about.
In my September 14 edition of Tidbits, I wrote the following ---
How can the media and professors achieve greater credibility?
You probably observed that I quote a lot from both The Wall Street
Journal (WSJ) and The New York Times (NYT). Both have
credibility in spite of their opposing biases on the editorial pages.
The WSJ is unapologetic in its biases for financial institutions and
business enterprises. And yet the WSJ is the best place to look for
damning criticism of particular accounting firms, financial
institutions, and corporations. CEOs live in fear of WSJ reporters.
For example, when Enron was riding high, before the Watkins memo, WSJ
reporters did some very clever investigations and wrote articles that
commenced the slide of Enron share prices (particularly dogged reporters
named John Emshwiller and Jonathan Weil). The NYT sometimes has
editorials that make me want to vomit. But the Business Section of the
NYT is one of the best places to go for balanced coverage of business
and finance news.
Certainly not all of my accounting professor friends agree with me about the
WSJ. David's Fordham's book length reply is just too long to paste in
here. Some others like Bobbi Lee agree with him.
Association of College and Research Libraries January 2004, Vol. 65, No. 1
Book Review Bok, Derek. Universities in the Marketplace: The
Commercialization of Higher Education. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Pr.,
2003. 233p. alk. paper, $22.95 (ISBN 0691114129). LC 2002-29267.
Athletics is the first area subject to Bok’s
critique. Candidly and mercilessly, he summarizes the ugly history of
intercollegiate football—its failed promise to "build character," its
unsupportable claim to have helped minorities achieve a high-quality
education, and its grievous undermining of academic standards. Students
whose academic achievement and potential would hardly qualify them for
careers in any learned profession are not only routinely admitted to
universities of every quality but are even turned into national celebrities.
Looking at the revenue-generating sports, mainly football and basketball,
Bok informs the reader that as of
2001, some thirty coaches were earning in excess of a million dollars
annually, far more than most college and university presidents. Bok strongly
focuses on the almost complete disconnect between athletic prowess and
academic achievement. He builds a powerful indictment:
What can intercollegiate sports teach us about
the hazards of commercialization? First of all, the saga of big-time
athletics reveals that American universities, despite their lofty
ideals, are not above sacrificing academic values—even values as basic
as admission standards and the integrity of their courses—in order to
Indeed, Bok reaches the conclusion, described by
him as "melancholy," that through their athletic programs, "universities
have compromised the most fundamental purpose of academic institutions."
Turning to his second area, scientific research,
Bok maintains that the record has been no less dismal and the battles
between the worlds of intellect and industry no less ruthless: Scientists
have been prohibited from publishing (or even discussing at conferences)
results unfavorable to their commercial sponsors’ marketing goals. Companies
have punished universities by threatening to withhold promised financial
support should scientists dare to publish data unfavorable to sponsors’
interests. Researchers have been threatened with lawsuits, even grievously
defamed. Companies have imposed a militarylike secrecy upon faculty who work
with them, severely edited scholars’ reports, and even had their own staffs
write slanted drafts to which university researchers were expected to attach
their names. By Bok’s account, some elements of the commercial sector merely
look upon faculty and graduate students as company agents—virtual employees,
hired guns—charged to produce a stream of research from which will follow a
stream of revenue for their businesses. Bok’s charges are not vague hints;
he cites prestigious institutions, names researchers whose careers were
jeopardized or damaged by threats and personal attacks, and provides many
In the third area, higher education itself, Bok
outlines the temptations of easy money, ostensibly available via
universities’ willingness, indeed eagerness, to use the income from distance
education (both domestically and abroad) to finance programs only indirectly
linked to higher education. Bok further suggests that some schools willingly
exploit the Internet more for the money than for any possible social
"Is everything in a university for sale if the
price is right?" asks the book jacket. Are universities now ready to accept
advertising within physical facilities and curricula? Will they permit
commercial enterprises to put company names on the stadium, team uniforms,
campus shuttle buses, book jackets sold at the campus bookstore, plastic
cups at food service points, or even on home pages? Will universities sell
the names of entire schools as well as of buildings? Worse yet, will some
schools be tempted to accept endowed professorships to which the sponsors
seek to attach unacceptable or harmful restrictions and conditions? There
appears to be no end to the opportunities.
To respond to these and similar troubling
questions, Bok’s two concluding chapters lay out practical steps the
academic community might consider to avoid sinking into a quagmire of
commercialism in which the academy is sure to lose control of both its
integrity and its autonomy. Throughout his work, Bok reminds his readers of
the obvious, but sometimes camouflaged (or ignored), distinction between the
academy and commerce: The mission of the former is to learn, that of the
latter to earn. Conflict between these missions is inevitable, and should it
disappear, the university as we know it also may vanish. We may not like
what replaces it.
The proof is in the pressure to change grades: Repeating
the same frauds year after year in academe
Louisiana State University has settled
a lawsuit by a former instructor who said that she was pressured
to change the grades of football players, the
Associated Press reported. No
details of the settlement were released and the university
denied wrongdoing. Last year, LSU settled a similar suit for
Inside Higher Ed
, September 19, 2005 ---
Derek.Bock, Universities in the Marketplace: The
Commercialization of Higher Education
. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Pr.,
2003. 233p. alk. paper, $22.95 (ISBN 0691114129). LC 2002-29267.
with Bok's "Commercialization of Higher Education," a newer
(2005) book explores the role of market forces in changing
higher education — and the danger of market forces having too
Three longtime observers of higher
education explore the ways — positive and negative — that
universities are changing in
Remaking the American University
(Rutgers University Press). The authors are Robert Zemsky,
a professor and chair of the Learning Alliance at the University
of Pennsylvania; Gregory R. Wegner, director of program
development at the Great Lakes Colleges Association; and William
F. Massy, a professor emeritus of higher education at Stanford
University and currently president of the Jackson Hole Higher
Education Group. The three authors recently responded (jointly)
to questions about their new book.
Scott Jaschik"Remaking the American University," Inside
Higher Ed, September 21, 2005 ---
Q: Of the trends
you examine, which ones are most worrisome
worries us most is that universities and
colleges have become so preoccupied with
succeeding in a world of markets that they
too often forget the need to be places of
public purpose as well. We are serious in
arguing that universities and colleges must
be both market smart and mission centered.
Not surprisingly, then, we are troubled by
how often today institutions allow their
pursuit of market success to undermine core
elements of their missions: becoming
preoccupied with collegiate rankings,
surrendering to an admissions arms race,
chasing imagined fortunes through impulsive
investments e-learning, or conferring so
much importance on athletics as to alter the
character of the academic community on
By far the most
troublesome consequence of markets
displacing mission, though, is the reduced
commitment of universities and colleges to
the fulfillment of public purposes. More
than ever before, these institutions are
content to advance graduates merely in their
private, individual capacities as workers
and professionals. In the rush to achieve
market success, what has fallen to the
wayside for too many institutions is the
concept of educating students as citizens —
graduates who understand their obligations
to contribute to the collective well-being
as active participants in a free and
deliberative society. In the race for
private advantage, market success too often
becomes a proxy for mission attainment.
Q: We’ve just come
through rankings season, with U.S. News
and others unveiling their lists. Do you
have any hope for turning back the ratings
game? Any ideas you would offer to college
presidents who are fed up with it?
A: On this
one there is no turning back — the rankings
are here to stay. Two, frankly contradictory
ideas are worth thinking about. First,
university and college presidents should
accept as fact that the rankings measure
market position rather than quality. An
institution’s ranking is essentially a
predictor of the net price the institution
can charge. The contrary idea is to make the
rankings more about quality by having most
institutions participate in the
National Survey of Student Engagement
and agree to have the
results made public. Even then, we are not
sure that prestige and market position would
not trump student engagement.
Continued in article
Coach Takes the Test
More evidence that many universities are losing (or never had)
quality control on athlete admissions and grading
The National Collegiate Athletic
Association punished Texas Christian University’s men’s track
program on Thursday for a set of rules violations that included
some of the most egregious and unusual examples of academic
fraud in recent history. They included an instance in which a
former assistant coach took a final examination alongside a
track athlete — with the consent of the faculty member in the
course — and then swapped his version of the test with the
athlete’s, allowing him to pass.
Doug Lederman, "NCAA Finds Fraud at TCU," Inside Higher Ed,
September 23, 2005 ---
You can read more about quality control problems in
college athletics at
In a speech Monday at Fordham University School of
Law in Manhattan, Dan Rather claimed there was a "new journalism order":
politicians applying pressure to news conglomerates, "dumbed-down, tarted-up"
news coverage, 24-hour cable competition and a "chase for rating and
demographics" — all of which creates an "atmosphere of fear"
Dan Rather ---
. . . claimed there was a "elite MBA program
order": deans applying pressure to faculty, "dumbed-down, tarted-up" course
coverage, law school competition and a "chase for
media rankings" — all of which creates an
"atmosphere of fear"
the quotation a bit
The Wall Street Journal Flashback, September 16, 1985
Oil Turmoil: Saudi Arabia has decided to increase oil
production and cut oil prices, moves that could trigger a global price war.
Prices could conceivably fall by next spring to $18 a barrel from the current
market average of about $26.
September 15, 2005 --- Ida Robinson-Backmon
The alternative meeting site for the upcoming
Diversity Section Meeting (moving from New Orleans) is Embassy Suites Hotel
Atlanta-Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, Georgia on the same dates, October
6-8, 2005. Program agenda and related information can be found on the AAA
homepage ( http://aaahq.org) or at
We are excited and energized as our inaugural
meeting program now consists of several concurrent sessions that focus on
critically important diversity topics, in addition to other accounting and
tax topics that are of immediate concern to academicians and practitioners.
The Friday evening reception will provide the opportunity for attendees to
receive information about grant supported diversity research. The panel
sessions on Saturday will address controversial diversity issues. Saturday’s
schedule will also feature a panel of editors from high quality journals who
will address their journals’ interest in diversity research and effective
The deadline to make your hotel reservations is
TUESDAY, September 27. Additional information is available online.
If you have not previously registered, please take
this opportunity to register at
http://aaahq.org/meetings/2005DIV_online.htm . The
early conference registration fee is available on or before September 22.
To register for the Diversity Section Meeting
online you will need your AAA username and password. The site is
case-sensitive so please be sure to enter your username and password exactly
as they appear below. Your username and password are:
Username: aaa1783 Password: Jens1783
Please note that faculty/doctoral candidates
interested in interviewing or administrators wishing to submit job
announcements and receive candidate information can contact Dr. Leslie
The Diversity Section Executive Board
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas but there
are more Catholic churches there than casinos. Not surprisingly, some
worshippers at Sunday services will give casino chips rather than cash when the
basket is passed.
Since they get chips from so many different casinos, the churches have
devised a method to collect the offerings. The churches send all their collected
chips to a nearby Franciscan Monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken
to the casinos of origin and cashed in.
This is done by a chip monk.
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmark
s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
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
International Accounting News
(including the U.S.)
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries ---
Upcoming international accounting
Thousands of journal abstracts ---
Deloitte's International Accounting News ---
Association of International Accountants ---
FASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
IASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
Trite's great set of links --- http://iago.stfx.ca/people/gtrites/Docs/bookmark.htm
Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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