Tidbits on September 28, 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) ---
Lively folk song downloads (these are good)
With lots to choose from for free
Old time bluegrass banjo downloads ---
Mike Maloney sings a couple of Irish folk songs ---
Christian folk music ---
Killin' Time ---
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the
page and turn it on.
In the past I've provided links to various types of music
available free on the Web.
This weekend I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
Inspirational and Patriotic Music ---
Romantic Music ---
Country and Western ---
1950s-60s Juke Box Tunes ---
Humor Music ---
Banjo, Fiddle, Bluegrass, and American Folk Music ---
Foreign Folk Music and Other Music From Foreign Lands ---
Jazz and Blues ---
Classical Music Christmas and Other Seasonal Music ---
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
Eternity Travel (a great site from the Museum of Science in
Beautiful pictures of female soldiers from around the world,
sorted by country.
Courtesy of the Iran Defence Forum ---
The Iran Defence Net is at ---
Writing is a way of talking without being
Inbred Historians: Diversity Problem in History Departments
Only applicants from elite universities need apply
Recent decades have opened up history faculties so
that they include more female and minority scholars. But a new report released
by the American Historical Association says that in key respects history
departments are becoming “less diverse.” Top doctoral programs are admitting
Ph.D. students from a narrow group of mostly private institutions and top
departments are in turn hiring from a narrow range of institutions, the report
says. The preference of elite institutions to admit graduate students from other
elite institutions is, of course, nothing new. But the history report says the
discipline — having become more egalitarian — is now shifting back with regard
to its mix of public and private graduates. In 1966, 57 percent of history
Ph.D.’s had received their undergraduate degrees from private institutions, 37
from public institutions, and the remainder from international institutions. In
the 1980s, public and private graduates had achieved parity. But in the 90s, the
gap returned, growing to a 47-42 percent edge for private institutions, even
though far more undergraduates attend public institutions.
Scott Jaschik, "Inbred Historians," Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2005
Jensen Comment on the X-Chromosome Problem.
Elite colleges of business also have an inbreeding problem. Often its the
same lack of diversity of hiring found among Ivy-type history programs hiring
their own as described above. If it isn't that, there is the X-Chromosome
Problem that leaves selected doctoral programs with an overage of X chromosomes.
Professor XR1 at top University R has a doctoral student XC2 who gets tenure at
University C. XC2 then has a doctoral student XR3 who is hired back at old
University R. XR3 then has a doctoral student XC4 who is hired at
University C. XC4 then has doctoral student XR5 who is hired . . .
Ruse by the industry to make you think you are eating less salt
How much (Salt) should you eat? Note that 2.5g sodium = 1g salt
From Number Watch, September 2005 ---
The health authorities advise eating no more
than 6g per day. This includes processed foods so check the ingredients
lists on labels.
Note that sodium (often noted on labels in place
of salt) is more than twice the strength of salt. So 2.5g sodium equals 1g
salt. It is a ruse by the industry to make you think you are eating less
Always taste food before adding salt because it
may not need it. Be aware that salt is "hidden" in or added to many everyday
foods, including breakfast cereals, biscuits, stock cubes, soup,
ready-cooked meals (especially those containing meat), crisps and other
Geologic Time: The Story of a Changing Earth (from The Smithsonian)
Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more embroils the fray
By which he reigns: next him high arbiter
Chance governs all.
John Miltion, Paradise Lost ---
Liking some women less and less: Even before Rita the
Katrina oil spill was a huge disaster on U.S. Gulf Coast
Hurricane Katrina unleashed at least 40 oil spills from
ruptured pipelines, approaching the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill.
And the delicate environmental situation has worsened as the influx of salt
water has damaged the area's wetlands.
Ken Wells, "Oil, Saltwater Mar Louisiana Coast, Threaten Future:
Katrina Dumps 193,000 Barrels Over Damaged Marshlands; Fishing Areas Are
Polluted," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page A1 ---
Where were the protective fathers when Katrina warnings grew more urgent?
It took the media a while to acknowledge that most of
Katrina's victims were black. Apparently, it will take longer to mention that
most of the victims were women and children. I noticed three commentators who
brought up the delicate subject of the mostly missing males--George Will, Gary
Bauer, and Thomas Bray, a columnist for the Detroit News. Will noted that 76
percent of births to Louisiana's African-Americans are to unmarried women, and
probably more than 80 percent in New Orleans, since that is the usual estimate
in other inner cities. Will wrote: "That translates into a large and constantly
renewed cohort of lightly parented adolescent males, and that translates into
chaos, in neighborhoods and schools, come rain or come shine."
John Leo, "All in the Family," Townhall.com, September 26, 2005 ---
The Gulf Coast: A Victim of Global Warming?
There are troubling signs in the meteorological record
of a link between global warming and hurricane intensity, says Emanuel, a
professor in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. But
the best available science suggests that the now-scattered populations of the
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts are the victims of mere
happenstance. There are simply too few examples of catastrophic hurricanes
hitting U.S. shores to make out any statistical trend, says Emanuel. "It would
be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming," Emanuel wrote on
his website this month.
Wade Roush, "The Gulf Coast: A Victim of Global Warming?" MIT's Technology
Review, September 24, 2005 ---
TCU 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,
You can read more about quality control problems in college athletics at
Smoking Grasso: Is It Time to Dumb Down or Shut Down Engineering Colleges?
With the return of students to campuses this month
comes annual hand wringing over the lack of diversity in our science and
engineering classes. The United States is at a 14-year low in the percentage of
women (16.3 percent) and African Americans (7.1 percent) enrolling in
engineering programs. An engineering student body that is composed largely of
white males is problematic not only because of its narrow design perspective,
but also because failing to recruit from large segments of the population means
the number of new engineers we produce falls well short of our potential.
Although this is not a new problem, it is becoming ever more urgent. We are
faced with an engineering juggernaut emanating from India and China, with more
than 10 Asian engineers graduating for every one in the United States. Educated
at great institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology or Tshingua
University, these engineers are every bit as technically competent as their
American counterparts. So here we sit at the beginning of the 21st century, in
the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, with a comparatively
small supply of home grown engineers, facing an explosion of technical mental
horsepower overseas . . . If we do, our progeny
stand a fighting chance of having a life worth living. And by giving engineering
a larger, more socially relevant framework, expanding it beyond the narrow world
of algorithms, the field should prove more attractive to women, minorities, and
other underrepresented groups.
Domenico Grasso, "Is It Time to Shut Down Engineering Colleges?" Inside
Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 ---
Jensen Comment: Grasso's proposal to take the hard technical courses out
of engineering curricula for the sake of diversity hardly gives me comfort in
his vision of future "engineering" graduates. Let's dumb down our
engineers so they can compete better with Asians and Indians? Give us a
break! If we want more diversity lets try harder to get improve the skills and
motivation of diverse inputs into the programs rather than dumb down the
Down's Syndrome Mice Offer Hope
Scientists have transplanted a nearly entire human
chromosome in mice in a medical and technical breakthrough that could reveal new
insights into Down's syndrome and other disorders. The genetically engineered
mice carry a copy of the human chromosome 21. It is the smallest of the 23 pairs
of human chromosomes with about 225 genes. Children suffering from Down's
syndrome, which is one of the most common genetic disorders, inherit three
copies of the chromosome instead of two. The achievement caps 13 years of
research by scientists at the National Institute for Medical Health in London
and the Institute of Neurology. "We are very optimistic that we will be able to
get insights into what goes wrong with people with Down's," said Dr Victor
Tybulewicz, who headed the research team.
"Down's Syndrome Mice Offer Hope," Wired News, September 23, 2005 ---
"The Real Reasons You're Working So Hard ...and what you can do
about it," Business Week Cover Story, October 3, 2005 ---
The good news -- if there is any, time-challenged
amigo -- is that you are not alone. More than 31% of college-educated male
workers are regularly logging 50 or more hours a week at work, up from 22%
in 1980. Forty percent of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep
on weekdays, reports the National Sleep Foundation, up from 31% in 2001.
About 60% of us are sometimes or often rushed at mealtime, and one-third
wolf down lunch at our desks, according to a survey by the American Dietetic
Assn. To avoid wasting time, we're talking on our cell phones while rushing
to work, answering e-mails during conference calls, waking up at 4 a.m. to
call Europe, and generally multitasking our brains out.
. . .
This epidemic of long hours at the office --
whether physically or remotely -- defies historical precedent and common
sense. Over the past 25 years, the Information Revolution has boosted
productivity by almost 70%. So you would think that since we're producing
more in fewer hours, such gains would translate into a decrease in the
workweek -- as they have in the past. But instead of technology being a
time-saver, says Warren Bennis, a University of Southern California
professor and author of such management classics as On Becoming a Leader,
"everybody I know is working harder and longer."
And the long-hour marathons aren't a result of
demanding corporations exploiting the powerless. Most of the groggy-eyed are
the best-educated and best-paid -- college grads whose real wages have risen
by more than 30% since the 1980s. That's a change from 25 years ago, when it
was the lowest-wage workers who were most likely to put in 50 hours or more
a week, according to new research by Peter Kuhn of the University of
California at Santa Barbara and Fernando A. Lozano of Pomona College.
With so many managers and professionals stuck at
work, there is a growing consensus among management gurus that the
stuck-at-work epidemic is symptomatic of a serious disorder in the
organization of corporations. The problem, in a nutshell-to-go is this:
Succeeding in today's economy requires lightning-fast reflexes and the
ability to communicate and collaborate across the globe. Coming up with
innovative ideas, products, and services means getting people across
different divisions and different companies to work together. "More and more
value is created through networks," says John Helferich, a top executive and
former head of research and development at Masterfoods usa, a division of
Mars Inc. and the maker of such products as M&Ms. "The guys who are good at
it are winning."
Unfortunately, the communication, coordination, and
teamwork so essential for success these days is being superimposed on a
corporate structure that has one leg still in its gray flannel suit. Without
strict gatekeepers (read secretaries), Tom, Jane, and Harry feel free to
plug themselves into your electronic calendar. You and a colleague in
another part of the company may dream up a great idea for a new product --
but it takes months to get approvals from your boss, his boss, and their
boss. Or the corporate bigwigs order you to join a taskforce that is
supposed to promote collaboration and innovation -- but it ends up taking a
big chunk of your time. And no matter how many layers of management were
supposed to be taken out, there always seem to be more people on the e-mail
You are not imagining things. Despite years of
cutting corporate bloat, managers are a much bigger share of the workforce
than they were 15 years ago. "We've added a new set of standards without
fully dropping the old," says Thomas H. Davenport, professor of information
technology and management at Babson College and author of the new book
Thinking for a Living.
Continued in the article
Getting Angry Can Be a Good Thing ---
Cecilia Munoz is vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy and
Legislation at the National Council of La Raza. Born in Detroit to Bolivian
immigrants, she has worked on behalf of Hispanic-Americans. Munoz was named a
MacArthur Fellow in 2000.
"Teaching the Benefits of Balance More B-schools are including courses on
managing the complex relationship between your career and your life," by Jeffrey
N. Gangemi, Business Week, October 3, 2005 ---
And it may be even more important in attracting and
retaining top-notch women workers. According to "The New Workforce Reality,"
a study by the
Simmons School of Management and Bright Horizons
Family Solutions, an organization based in Watertown, Mass., that provides
work-life counseling, 88% of women respondents listed respect for family and
personal time as an important attribute in an employer, and 82% said they
place value on working for an organization that's flexible in granting time
That's why B-schools are trying to help students better juggle their varied
responsibilities. Stewart Friedman, a professor of organizational management
Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania,
teaches "Total Leadership," a course for both full-time and executive MBA
students that preaches greater integration between personal and professional
. . .
BEYOND GOOD PAY.
If any successful company is a model that embodies the opposite of "caffeine
culture," says Hunt, it's SAS Institute, a privately held software company
based in Cary, N.C. Hunt leads students through a case study that examines
why SAS enjoys a 98% customer-retention rate year-to-year, when the average
in U.S. industry is 80%. It also shows consistent growth and profits in the
highly competitive software industry.
Students observe connections between customer satisfaction and SAS's 97%
employee-retention rate, which alone is estimated to save between $60
million to $75 million annually in HR costs. And with on-site day care,
health care, and workout centers, hours that employees would otherwise spend
driving to the doctor's office conserved an additional million dollars last
year, estimates Jeff Chambers, the vice-president for human resources at SAS.
"I thought the best job was the one that paid the most money," says Marc
Vaglio-Laurin, manager of certification test development at SAS, who got his
MBA from Duke University
Fuqua School of Business in 1989. But having spent
seven years in corporate finance with four different companies,
Vaglio-Laurin says even after 10 years at SAS, he would never voluntarily
leave his post.
Continued in article
Fewer American Women Dying of Breast Cancer
There is more good news in the battle against breast
cancerbreast cancer. Newly released figures show that deaths continue to
decline, dropping about 2% a year since 1990. The drop was most dramatic among
women under the age of 50, whose breast cancers tend to be more aggressive and
harder to treat. The number of breast cancer deaths for this age group declined
by 3.3% annually between 1990 and 2002. The figures were published today by the
American Cancer Society, which reports each year on breast cancer trends. ACS
officials credited earlier diagnosis and better treatments for the "slow, steady
drop" in breast cancer deaths over the 12-year period.
Salynn Boyles, "Fewer American Women Dying of Breast Cancer: Deaths Have
Dropped Steadily for More Than a Decade," WebMD, September 22, 2005 ---
Teflon: The Next Big Fraud in Litigation
Now that fraudulent asbestos claims have made the tort lawyers wealthy
"Claims against Teflon just don’t stick," by Doug Bandow, Cantonrep.com,
September 22, 2005 ---
Teflon is a wonder product. Before Teflon, washing
a pan or pot was among the most disagreeable of tasks. Cleaning up is a very
different task in today’s post-Teflon world.
There are even some unintended health and safety
benefits from Teflon kichenware. You can cook using less fat, grease or oil,
which is better for your heart, and there’s less chance of fire.
It’s a wonderful example of how a profit-minded
company, in this case DuPont, came up with something that makes life easier,
healthier and safer — all at once.
But no good deed goes unpunished in today’s legal
system. In July, attorneys filed a $5-billion class action lawsuit against
DuPont over the alleged health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.
There are 14 plaintiffs, “but the class of
potential plaintiffs could well contain almost every American that has
purchased a pot or pan coated with DuPont’s nonstick coating,” explained
attorney Alan Kluger.
Continued in article
From U.S. News & World Report, September 24, 2005
Best Places to Work in Federal Government
2005 Best Places to Work rankings, which rate job
satisfaction among federal government employees at 248 organizations. Here you
will find ratings of employee satisfaction, rankings by demographic group, and
"Best in Class" scores for 10 workplace quality measurements, such as "Effective
Leadership" and "Work/Life Balance." The rankings are created by the Partnership
for Public Service and American University's Institute for the Study of Public
"Best Places to Work in Federal Government," US News and World Report ---
Office of Management & Budget on the top ---
Thanks George: Dumb and Dummers in charge of government agencies?
How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?
A Time Magazine inquiry finds that at top positions in
some vital government agencies, the Bush Administration is putting connections
before experience . . . The Bush Administration didn't invent cronyism;
John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill
Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife. Jimmy
Carter made his old friend Bert Lance his budget director, only to see him
hauled in front of the Senate to answer questions on his past banking practices
in Georgia, and George H.W. Bush deposited so many friends at the Commerce
Department that the agency was known internally as "Bush Gardens." The
difference is that this Bush Administration had a plan from day one for remaking
the bureaucracy, and has done so with greater success. As far back as the
Florida recount, soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney was poring over
organizational charts of the government with an eye toward stocking it with
people sympathetic to the incoming Administration. Clay Johnson III, Bush's
former Yale roommate and the Administration's chief architect of personnel,
recalls preparing for the inner circle's first trip from Austin, Texas, to
Washington: "We were standing there getting ready to get on a plane, looking at
each other like: Can you believe what we're getting ready to do?"
Mark Thompson, Karen Tumulty, and Mike Allen, "How Many More Mike Browns Are Out
There?" Time Magazine, September 25, 2005 ---
Mossberg: Yahoo Email Delivers That Desktop Feel Most Users Expect
Web-based email programs, like Yahoo Mail, have long
been inferior to email programs that take the form of standard applications
installed on your computer. The Web offerings have been short on features, short
on email storage and clumsy to use. Lately, however, that has begun to change. A
number of major Web-mail providers have introduced versions that offer much more
of the ease of use and power of desktop email programs like Microsoft Outlook.
Yet they still retain the core advantage of Web-mail services: They can be
accessed from any computer, Windows or Mac, with your settings and preferences
always present. All you need is an Internet connection and a Web browser.
Walter Mossberg, "Yahoo Email Delivers That Desktop Feel Most Users Expect,"
The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2005; Page B1 ---
The Dow moved from $600 to over $10,000 in 40 years
The Wall Street Journal Flashback, September 26, 1961
Stocks broke to new low ground on the current decline,
with aluminum, aircraft and missile shares under special pressure. The Dow-Jones
industrial average sank 9.71 points, or 1.38%, to 601.86, its lowest level since
July 25, just prior to President Kennedy's Berlin crisis speech.
Really dumb bank robbers
"Dumb and Dumber's tears win less jail time," Sydney Morning Herald,
September 25, 2005 ---
They were dubbed "Dumb and Dumber" because of the
clues they left.
Even Carroll's lawyer described the crime as
Mr Smith pointed to the fact Carroll and Prince
robbed the WestStar Bank, where they were regular customers. Their
Australian accents made them easily identifiable.
During the robbery, the pair wore name tags from
the Vail sports store they worked at, and tried to buy plane tickets to
Mexico with the stolen loot.
Prosecutors denied it was a robbery committed by
"Two athletic young men going into a bank with what
looked like real firearms and pushing people around is an horrific event,"
assistant US lawyer Greg Holloway said.
Both Carroll and Prince were also ordered to pay
$US21,658, which represents the funds not yet recovered from the bank
Brain scans reveal truth about lying: it's easier to be honest
Lying is more difficult than telling the truth, and
that may be the key to a better lie-detection test, researchers say. Scientists
at the University of Pennsylvania said they made the discovery when they watched
brain scans of volunteers as they gave honest answers or told lies. The brain's
frontal lobe, the region that regulates thinking, puts a lot more effort into
devising a lie than telling the truth, and brain scans document that activity.
The finding, in the journal Human Brain Mapping and discussed in an article in
the latest issue of the journal Nature, is said to advance the science of
"Brain scans reveal truth about lying: it's easier to be honest," Sydney
Morning Herald, September 24, 2005 ---
We're dopes about drug use: Ecstasy preferred over booze even among
Everyone knows but doesn't say that the reason
nightclubs want to charge for water is they don't make enough from alcohol
because their young customers prefer ecstasy. During the millennium New Year's
Eve celebrations in the city, police were stunned by the good behaviour of the
record crowd. Drug experts claimed the mob's docility was due to its widespread
consumption of ecstasy instead of alcohol. While the prohibition of heroin has
been widely embraced because of the drug's addictive nature and obvious social
problems it engenders, society has turned a blind eye and come to an uneasy
truce with other illicit drugs. But with drug use no longer solely the province
of the experimenting young, that truce may come under threat. Harm minimisation
advocates say the increasing disconnect between public rhetoric and private drug
use is hypocritical and doomed. They beaver away on legalisation and demonising
Miranda Devine, "We're dopes about drug use," Sydney Morning Herald, September
25, 2005 ---
"Is Meth A Plague, A Wildfire, Or the Next Katrina? Or is it a million times
more horrible than all of them combined?" by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine,
September 2, 2005 ---
Conflicts of Interest
Is this what is behind the New York Times support for eminent
domain that empowers developers?
Those “values” and “democratic ideals” included
using eminent domain to forcibly evict 55 businesses—including a trade school, a
student housing unit, a Donna Karan outlet, and several mom-and-pop
stores—against their will, under the legal cover of erasing “blight,” in order
to clear ground for a 52-story skyscraper. The Times and Ratner, who never
bothered making an offer to the property owners, bought the Port
Authority–adjacent property at a steep discount ($85 million) from a state
agency that seized the 11 buildings on it; should legal settlements with the
original tenants exceed that amount, taxpayers will have to make up the
difference. On top of that gift, the city and state offered the Times $26
million in tax breaks for the project, and Ratner even lobbied to receive $400
million worth of U.S. Treasury–backed Liberty Bonds—instruments created by
Congress to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. Which is four miles away . . . Nowhere
was this anti-populist, ends-justify-the-means approach on more naked display
than after the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. That
June 23 decision upheld governments’ broad leeway to use eminent domain to
transfer property from one private owner to a richer one—in that particular
case, from Connecticut homeowners to an upscale real estate development. While
much of the country howled in protest at the fact that, in the words of
dissenting Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “nothing is to prevent the state from
replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any
farm with a factory,” the Times, in an editorial entitled “The Limits of
Property Rights,” let out a lusty cheer. Kelo, the paper declared, is “a welcome
vindication of cities’ ability to act in the public interest” and “a setback to
the ‘property rights’ movement, which is trying to block government from
imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations.”
Matt Welch, "Why The New York Times ♥s Eminent Domain," Reason Magazine,
October 2005 ---
A very negative book review
"Under the Spell of Malthus: Biology doesn’t explain why societies
collapse," by Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine, August/September 2005 ---
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or
Succeed, by Jared Diamond, (New York: Viking, 592 pages, $29.95)
Jared Diamond’s new book, Collapse: How
Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, is neither “superb” (The New
Statesman), “incisive” (The Washington Post), “magisterial” (BusinessWeek),
nor “insightful and very important” (Boston Herald). It is, instead, a
telling example of how a smart man can be terribly misled by a fixation on
one big idea. In this case, Diamond, a biologist, is trying to apply
biology’s master narrative to human societies.
In 1838 the founding father of modern biology,
Charles Darwin, read the 1798 edition of the Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus’
Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus famously concluded that human
population increased at an exponential rate, while food supplies grew at
“arithmetic” rates. Thus population would always outstrip food supplies,
dooming some portion of humanity to perpetual famine. As a description of
human behavior, it was, as we shall see, a wildly inaccurate argument. But
it sparked a genuine revolution in the life sciences.
Reading Malthus was a “eureka” moment for Darwin,
who declared in his autobiography, “I had at last got a theory by which to
work.” Darwin realized that Malthus’ thesis applied to the natural world,
since plants and animals produce far more offspring than there is food,
nutrients, and space to support them. Consequently, Darwin noted, “It at
once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would
tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of
this would be the formation of a new species.” This insight launched one of
the most important modern scientific theories, the theory of biological
evolution by means of natural selection.
. . .
Similarly, Diamond describes how Polynesian
seafarers settled Easter Island by 900 A.D. This 66-square-mile island is
one of the more remote scraps of land on the planet. It lies in the South
Pacific 2,300 miles from Chile and 1,200 miles from the next nearest
Polynesian island. Easter Islanders don’t seem to have had any contact with
outsiders until Dutch explorers stumbled on them in 1722. Archaeological
evidence shows that Easter Island was once covered with a subtropical forest
which was home to the world’s biggest species of palm (now extinct). Today,
no native tree species exceeds seven feet in height. Evidently the Easter
Islanders cut down all of their trees by 1600, leaving none to regenerate
the forests. This complete deforestation caused severe soil erosion, which
cut farmers’ crop yields, leading to starvation and cannibalism. Easter
Island society apparently “collapsed” in a civil war around 1680, at which
time the island’s population may have declined by 70 percent.
When Diamond discusses the “collapse” of the Mayan
civilization in Central America around 900 A.D., he hauls out the standard
Malthusian explanation: “It appears to me that one strand consisted of
population growth outstripping available resources: a dilemma similar to one
foreseen by Thomas Malthus in 1798.” This population/resource imbalance led
to civilization-destroying warfare, which Diamond declares is “not
surprising when one reflects that at least 5,000,000 people…were crammed
into an area smaller than the state of Colorado.” Before nodding your head
in sage agreement with this analysis, keep in mind that Colorado itself is
today crammed with 4.5 million people whose standards of living are vastly
more luxurious than those of 10th-century Mayan nobles and peasants.
Anthropologist Lisa Lucero of New Mexico State
University at Las Cruces told USA Today that she disagrees with Diamond’s
analysis of the “collapse” of the Mayan civilization: “There’s no evidence
for massive violence and massive disease among the classic Maya.” She
believes the evidence indicates that the Mayans simply moved on because of
. . .
Meanwhile, Diamond calls on Americans, Europeans,
and Japanese to reject their “traditional consumer values.” So in essence,
Diamond’s solution to the problems he believes humanity faces is to reduce
the living standards of the world’s wealthiest societies (U.S., Europe,
Japan) and curb economic growth in the poorer countries. This is Malthus’
legacy at its worst, and when Diamond embraces it, Collapse collapses into
U.S. money is not doing the job in securing nuclear sites in Russia
Despite U.S. Help, Program Faces Resistance, Delays Amid Chill in Relations A
Warehouse Sits Empty
The warehouse shows how the effort to secure
Russia's vast arsenal remains an uphill battle even as concerns about nuclear
terrorism have risen in the post-9/11 world. So far, the U.S. has provided
state-of-the-art security for 48 of the 85 nuclear warhead storage and handling
sites slated for upgrades, but there could be dozens more sites that the two
sides may never agree to work on. With Russian nationalism and oil revenues on
the rise, the relationship is increasingly uneasy. Russian officials say flatly
that they will never allow the Americans near two huge weapons assembly
facilities that are believed to hold a quarter of the country's highly enriched
uranium and plutonium not already in warheads. Since 1991 the U.S. has spent
about $7 billion on Russian nuclear security and achieved some important
successes. To help Russia meet its arms-control treaty commitments, the U.S. has
paid to slice hundreds of nuclear-launch missiles, submarines and bombers into
scrap metal. Thousands of weapons scientists have received at least temporary
nonweapons work. In a separate commercial venture, 250 metric tons of highly
enriched uranium taken from dismantled warheads have been blended down and
burned as fuel in American nuclear-power reactors.
Carla Ann robbins and Alan cullison, "In Russia, Securing Its Nuclear Arsenal Is
an Uphill Battle," The Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2005; Page A1 ---
Save the face of communism and starve the people
North Korea has formally told the UN it no longer
needs food aid, despite reports of malnutrition in the country . . . Analysts
say North Korea might be worried that accepting more food aid now could be
perceived as a sign of weakness. The North may also have lost patience with
efforts by foreign agencies to monitor deliveries of food, according to the
BBC's Seoul correspondent, Charles Scanlon. In recent years, the UN and other
international agencies have been feeding up to six million of the poorest and
most vulnerable North Koreans.
"North Korea rejects UN food aid," BBC News, September 23, 2005 ---
The American Distance Education Consortium ---
What is ADEC?
ADEC is a non-profit distance education consortium composed of approximately
65 state universities and land-grant colleges. The consortium was conceived
and developed to promote the creation and provision of high quality,
economical distance education programs and services to diverse audiences, by
the land grant community of colleges and universities, through the most
appropriate information technologies available.
ADEC Mission and Guiding Principles The driving
vision behind the organization is the extension of educational content and
opportunity beyond the traditional boundaries of the university walls, to
serving not simply on-campus students but lifelong learners, broader
domestic and international communities, under-served populations and even
K-12 schools and the corporate/business community.
Through ADEC, members engage in a teaching and
learning model that epitomizes a university without walls that is open,
accessible, and flexible. The model seeks to provide instructional delivery
and/or access anywhere, anytime, and to virtually anyone who seeks it.
Primary emphasis is placed on educational and
informational programs and services that fall within the traditional areas
of competitive advantage for land-grant institutions. Specifically, this
includes programs related to food and agriculture; nutrition and health;
environment and natural resources; community and economic development; and
children, youth, and families.
The consortium draws upon the best and most effective subject matter
specialists and information resources to share knowledge and content with
learners. ADEC programming is offered locally, regionally, nationally, and
internationally and is characterized by the following guiding principles:
Design for active and effective learning.
Principle: Distance learning designs consider
context, needs, content, strategies, outcomes and environment.
Support the needs of learners.
Principle: Distance learning opportunities are
effectively and flexibly supported.
Develop and maintain the technological and human
Principle: The provider of distance learning
opportunities has both a technology plan and a human infrastructure.
Sustain administrative and organizational
Principle: Distance education initiatives are
sustained by an administrative commitment to quality distance education.
ADEC members seek to meet local, state, national
and international demands through provision of distance education
opportunities and place equal emphasis on each of the traditional land grant
imperatives of teaching, research and service.
ADEC is designed to serve diverse audiences using
appropriate combinations of technologies including: Internet2, commodity
Internet, satellite uplinks, downlinks, VSATs, digital television and audio
conferencing. These communications tools help ADEC member institutions
interact with learners domestically and internationally. Typical methods of
distance learning include: one-way video/two-way audio satellite, two-way
video and audio conferencing, multiple user audio-only conferencing,
Internet based access to educational programs.
Bob Jensen's threads on distance education alternatives are at
Turmoil at the University of Wisconsin in Madison: Is
Paul Barrows, a former vice chancellor
at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who left his position
an affair with a graduate student,
is suing Madison, charging that he was disciplined by the
university without being given full due process,
The Capital Times reported. Madison
officials have faced a barrage of criticism for not firing
Barrows and they released
Thursday that said he could not be fired, but that he could be
demoted, which the university did.
Inside Higher Ed
, September 23, 2005 ---
THE OTHER WAR By Stephanie Gutmann (Encounter, 280 pages, $25.95)
More sad evidence of media bias and incompetence
She gives us a number of other examples in
convincing detail. There is the famous case of 12-year-old Mohamed al-Dura,
killed during a crossfire between Palestinians and Israeli troops. France 2, a
large, state-financed TV network, disseminated a 10- to 20-second scrap of
videotape filmed by a Palestinian stringer with a narrative line saying that the
boy had been shot by Israelis. This claim was accepted as gospel by other
channels. A painstaking investigation later proved that, because of the caliber
of the bullets used and the angle of fire, the Israelis could not be charged
with the boy's death. This exoneration came too late to have any effect on world
perception. The list is endless -- slovenly reporting coupled with bias makes
for distorted journalism. Ms. Gutmann feels that the situation is improving. For
one thing, the Israelis have tightened up the process of granting press cards,
filtering out "reporters" with strong prejudices and flimsy credentials. For
another, readers and viewers have discovered that journalists can be as
self-serving as anyone else. A number of Web sites have come into being to bring
truth and objectivity to otherwise distorted accounts. "The Other War" has a
similar purpose and accomplishes it forcefully.
Sol Schlindler, ""Bookmarks," The Wall Street Journal, September 23,
2005; Page W12 ---
Dressing up accounting reports under FAS 106: Retired Sears
employees get 106'd
Sears Holdings Corp. has begun to notify its retirees
that it will make further cuts to their medical benefits, citing rising
health-care costs and competition from retailers that provide little or no
medical coverage to retired employees. The moves are the latest in a series of
cuts in retiree benefits in recent years. In the past, such cuts helped Sears
generate income, thanks to accounting practices that transform reductions in
retiree benefits to accounting gains.
Amy Merrick, "Sears Plans More Cuts To Retirees' Medical Benefits," The Wall
Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page A2 ---
A summary of FAS 106 is available at
The entire standard can be downloaded free (scroll down) from
Riding on the rims
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said Friday it will
close an undisclosed number of plants in various locations, part of a sweeping
restructuring aimed at improving its North American tire business and saving up
to $1 billion over the next three years. The Akron, Ohio, company, one of the
world's largest tire makers, did not say how many jobs would be affected. It
also did not say how many plants it will close or their locations, but added
that cutting high-cost capacity will be a key consideration. Goodyear said it
plans to cut high-cost manufacturing capacity between 8 percent and 12 percent,
resulting in expected annual savings of $100 million to $150 million. The
company also said it would increase sourcing from Asia and seek other ways to
boost productivity. The company said it would record restructuring charges
between $150 million and $250 million over the next three years. The company
said it is targeting total cost cuts between $750 million and $1 billion by
"Goodyear Tire to Shut Down Plants," Earthlink, September 23, 2005 ---
The Truth About Oil
From Fortune Magazine's Preview Guide on September 26, 2005
Truth About Oil," pp. 102-111: The talk of travelers this summer
was rising gas prices, and as we move into autumn, prices don't seem
to be falling with the leaves. This has left many Americans angry,
but not necessarily for the right reasons. First of all, while the
magnates of Big Oil are certainly raking in the profits, they're not
the ones setting the sky-high prices — the markets are. Hedge funds
aren't to blame, either. They account for less than 3% of volume in
oil futures. Besides, fear of a dwindling supply drives oil prices
harder than speculation. That fear itself may be misguided. While
oil is not a renewable resource, economists expect that high fuel
prices will spur oil companies to dig deeper and farther afield for
oil, eventually leading to larger supplies and cheaper prices. In
fact, the Department of Energy projects that worldwide refining
capacity will increase 61% over the next 20 years in plenty of
markets that will be more than happy to supply gasoline and other
refined petroleum products to the U.S. Should the government
intervene in the interim? It depends on whom you talk to, but the
last time the federal government imposed price controls in the
1970s, the end result was shortages, gas lines, and little change in
Students will see how myths about the current oil pinch have
Americans directing their ire at the wrong targets.
- How has the spike in gasoline prices
impacted gas station owners? When do station owners make the
biggest profits? How do they attempt to raise their profit
- Define peak-oil theory. What are some
of the flaws in the theory? Do you agree with the contention
that the worldwide oil supply will critically trail demand in
the near future? Why or why not?
- How is the U.S. especially vulnerable
to oil shocks? Short of enforcing bureaucratic controls, in what
ways can the U.S. government help bring down energy prices?
Will the last departing person from Hollywood please turn out the lights
Ever since jumping into the entertainment business in
2002, Wagner and his outspoken partner, Mark Cuban (
http://www.blogmaverick.com ), have been openly
challenging established modes of distribution in Hollywood. They're building a
high-tech, new-model, vertically integrated studio. Their 2929 Prods. and
digital production house HDNet Films produce low-cost movies; HDNet Film Sales
raises financing for them overseas; Magnolia Pictures Distribution books them on
the 200-screen art-house Landmark Theater chain; and for the first time, with
"Bubble" in January, the high-definition cable channel HDNet Movies will air the
films at the same time that they go out through their nascent DVD division. "I
like Mark and Todd's energy and enthusiasm," Soderbergh says. "They're
free-thinking." . . . Last summer, Soderbergh shot the murder mystery "Bubble"
on location along the southern Ohio/West Virginia border, with locals who had
never acted. Soderbergh used three of the same high-definition Sony 950 cameras
George Lucas deployed on the "Star Wars" movies. "I just wanted to make a movie
about love and jealousy," Soderbergh says, "but in an environment that you don't
often get to see in movies. The whole appeal was the simplicity of it. The idea
was just to not tart it up. These cameras make it easy to go in without any
lights, on all real locations." "Bubble" is downright radical. Debbie
Doebereiner, its 40-ish star, is the blue-eyed, chubby general manager of a
Kentucky Fried Chicken in Parkersburgh, W. Va. Casting director Carmen Cuba
scoured the area, approaching people who fit writer Coleman Hough's
descriptions, then interviewed them at length on tape.
Anne Thompson, "Soderbergh challenges 'out of whack' studios," Breitbart.com,
September 23, 2005 ---
No yen for it, at least not enough
Japan's government debt, already the highest in the
industrialized world, rose 1.7 percent to a record high of 795.8 trillion yen
($7.1 trillion) at the end of June, according to a report released by the
"Japan's National Debt Hits Record High," Yahoo News, September 23, 2005 ---
No Comment: The ACLU vs. America
Interview’s guest today is Alan Sears the co-author (with Craig Osten) of the
The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral
"The ACLU vs. America," Frontpage,
September 26, 2005,
New Politics of Race at Berkeley
Berkeley has had a lot of Asian American students for
years, but never so many as now. Last year, according to the Office of Student
Research, Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students made up just over
40 percent of the student body. This year’s freshman class was just under 48
percent Asian, a record high, according to admissions officials, who said that,
once the final tally of registered students is completed, the number of Asian
and white students on campus will be nearly the same. In this year’s freshman
class, white enrollment is 31 percent, Latino enrollment 11 percent, and black
enrollment 3 percent, with the remainder divided among “other” and those who did
not identify their race or ethnicity. Part of the reason for the increasing
Asian percentages, according to Richard Black, associate vice chancellor for
admissions and enrollment, is simply that Berkeley’s environs have a lot of
Asian families. There may be more to it, though. Not only is Berkeley accepting
Asian applicants at a higher rate — 34 percent as opposed to 27 percent for the
overall population in 2005 – but Asian students are choosing Berkeley more
often, too. Of all Asian applicants accepted to the university, 49 percent chose
to attend Berkeley, as compared to only 43 percent of students generally, Black
said, a “modest indication that Asian students receive greater opportunities at
Berkeley as compared to some other [ethnic groups].”
David Epstein, "New Politics of Race at Berkeley," Inside Higher Ed,
September 23, 2005 ---
NEVER ACT ON RETIREMENT ADVICE FROM ANYONE WHO EARNS
A COMMISSION AT YOUR EXPENSE!
The Motley Fool Newsletter on September 27, 2005
Stockbrokers? Ha! They wrecked more retirement
plans than anybody when they pushed lousy stocks like Enron and WorldCom
right up to the crash.
Financial planners? Estate planners? Nix that too!
Most work for big banks and financial firms and are nothing more than
insurance or annuity salesmen in disguise. They're after a fat commission
that will come out of your pocket.
Your brother-in-law? Probably not! Let's face it --
to really be on top of everything that impacts how well you live in
retirement, you'd need to be a tax expert... Medicare benefits guru... stock
picker... economist... senior's law expert... and Social Security advisor
all rolled into one.
It's a real dilemma. On the one hand, you'll
probably leak fewer dollars trusting no one but yourself with your
retirement. On the other hand, it's next to impossible for you to maximize
the profit-power of your retirement dollars on your own and to be an expert
in all of the areas that impact what you do with your nest egg.
September 26, 2005 message from
I saw this item on tidbits and think these are good
questions for students to consider in a social view of the pension situation
in the United States. However, besides the social implications, accounting
students should have a controllership view of pension issues. Otherwise,
when the PBGC bail out happens, they may not be prepared. Several additional
1. The principle of conservatism requires pension
plan valuations to assume a discount rate at a point in time, yet the return
on assets assumption reflects an estimated long term rate. Discuss the
reasonableness of those rates in light of liabilities that will be paid over
the next 50 years?
2. What is the incentive for contributions to the
pension plan and how does it appear in the financial statements?
3. Why would a pension plan sponsor over fund the
plan? Discuss the implications of the discount rate and return on asset
assumptions in over funding.
4. What is pension immunization and when does it
make sense to immunize?
Mark S. Eckman
And remember, ERISA stands for Every Ridiculous Idea Since Adam.
Mark was referring to the following Tidbit on
Perhaps these pensions should not be included since these airlines are
probably going to dump their pension obligations on the Federal Government
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Week in Review on September
TITLE: Delta, Northwest Omit Pensions from Filings
REPORTER: Susan Carey and Evan Perez
DATE: Sep 16, 2005
PAGE: A3 LINK:
TOPICS: Advanced Financial Accounting, Financial Accounting, Pension Accounting
SUMMARY: The article discusses pension funding requirements, the Pension
Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), and legislative actions in detail.
1.) What is the implication of the statement in the article title that these two
airlines have omitted pension payments from bankruptcy court filings.
2.) What is an underfunded pension plan? What are possible different measures
of a pension plan's funding level? Who establishes requirements for funding
3.) What is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC)?
4.) Why might U.S. Congress enact a law to delay requirements for funding
company pension plans? In your answer, consider the plight of the PBGC as
described in this article.
5.) Why are discount airlines better able to compete and remain profitable
than are so-called legacy airlines?
Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
PARADISE LOST By John Milton, an illustrated edition introduced by
Philip Pullman (Oxford, 374 pages, $28)
Unadorned by scholarly apparatus, the book is meant to
facilitate direct exposure to the poem without mediation from editors and notes.
Mr. Pullman readily admits that, in such a barebones format, "ten thousand
jewels have had to lie untouched," and he urges further reading in any number of
annotated editions. What his volume lacks in learned detail, though, it amply
makes up for in verve and sweep and in the sheer pleasure derived from Milton's
language. Mr. Pullman heightens the drama of the story -- Satan's infiltration
of Paradise and the fall of man -- with brief introductions to each of the
poem's twelve books, and the illustrations, mostly by Michael Burgers from 1688,
are apt and elegant. Presented in this way, the poem is so enticing that readers
may ultimately agree with Mr. Pullman that "no one, not even Shakespeare,
surpasses Milton in his command of the sound, the music, the weight and taste
and texture of English words."
David Yezzi, "Bookmarks," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005;
Page W12 ---
Are there wrinkles in your broadband?
Some new BROADband exports from Germany
Germany is the homeland of the nudist movement. In the
late 19th century, youngsters from teeming cities formed back-to-nature clubs.
Called Freikoerperkultur, or "Free Body Culture," nudism soon grew into a mass
movement. Briefly outlawed by the Nazis, nudism kept a faithful following. In
Communist East Germany, it was a cherished and tolerated expression of freedom.
Today, Germany's nudist organizations are losing members, and the people still
in the game are a wrinkled bunch. Just 50,000 Germans now belong to nudist
clubs, less than half the number of the early 1970s, and most are over the age
of 50. In the U.S., nudism is said to be growing. The American Association for
Nude Recreation, which says it has 50,000 members, says it got a boost in the
1990s, when the Internet helped nudists find others sharing their pastime. Now,
too, there are clothing-optional resorts and cruises. With new features like
spas and broadband connections, most of today's nudist clubs are a far cry from
the rustic nudist colonies of the past.
Cecili Rohwedder, "Why German Nudists Are Wearing Frowns As Others Disrobe,"
The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2005; Page A1 ---
Video of Monkey teasing tigers
Pretty in Pink? This is not funny at the University of Iowa
A University of Iowa law professor received death
threats and abusive e-mail messages after she criticized the university for
maintaining a tradition of painting the visiting locker room in the football
stadium pink, The Des Moines Register reported. The pink decor dates to the
1970s as part of a strategy of softening up football opponents. The Register
said that the threats — apparently from Iowa football fans who admire the
strategy — started after Erin Buzuvis, a law professor, told a local reporter:
“With a pink locker room, you’re saying that ‘You are a girlie man. You are
weak, like a girl.’ That implies that girls are non-dominant, therefore, lesser.
And that is offensive.”
Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2005 ---
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