Tidbits on October 28, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
My links on Medicare drug plan
options are at
Under no circumstance should anybody sign up for a plan
with a stranger over the telephone even if that person claims to be a Medicare
representative or a licensed insurance agent who phoned out of the blue.
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
Lists of Bests ---
Bob Jensen's home page is
Security threats and hoaxes ---
25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) ---
In the past I've provided links to various types of music
available free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
The three young musicians in Nickel
Creek are known for their polished traditional bluegrass. But a new CD, Why
Should the Fire Die?, takes a darker turn. Sean Watkins, Chris Thile and Sara
Watkins visit with Debbie Elliott and play some of their music.
"Nickel Creek, Playing with 'Fire'," NPR, October 24, 2005 ---
For the free music downloads, scroll down and look left.
There's something sweetly familiar
about the sound of the North Mississippi Allstars. The guitar-bass-and-drum
trio's music recalls the feel-good Southern rock of the Allman Brothers from the
1970s, or the anthems of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"North Mississippi Allstars' 'Electric Blue Watermelon'," NPR, October
24, 2005 ---
For the free music downloads, scroll down and look left.
The Unofficial Monty Python Website ---
Note especially The Accountancy Shanty (some
awe-inspiring music about accountants) at
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
The best argument against democracy is a five minute
conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill (1874 1965)
If we want an end to ethnic conflict we have to
invest less in war and more in the culture of peace.
Federico Mayor Zaragoza
How can you find the cost of colleges?
There are many sources, but one you might try is
"The 10 most expensive colleges: College tuition for freshmen is costly
in many places, but nowhere more so than at these schools" by Jeanne Sahadi, CNN
Money, October 27, 2005 ---
One thing I've learned over the years is that disabled students sometimes
have a much greater appreciation for an opportunity to learn than the
appreciation felt by many students who have no disabilities other than bad
What is the Landmark Act?
What is the Landmark College and why is it the most expensive college in the
"Reaching Students With Learning Disabilities," by David Epstein, Inside
Higher Ed, October 25, 2005 ---
According to a report by the
American Council on Education, the
number of full-time college freshmen with learning
disabilities — dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactive
disorder are among the most common — more than doubled in
the decade leading up to 2000, to nearly 27,000.
Betit said the spike is because more
of those students are being identified than in the past, and
that, now that colleges are recognizing their own students
with learning disabilities, it is time to learn more about
educating them. A large part of Landmark’s intent is to use
the grant to make information about teaching techniques
available online, so teachers at colleges that do not cater
only to students with learning disabilities can easily
access information. If it works at the five partner
colleges, Landmark hopes to share its wisdom more widely.
“We’ll never be a big college,” Betit said. “But we want to
share what we know.”
Many of the shared techniques will
focus on expanding the available types of sensory input a
student can use for learning. “I don’t know how many college
classrooms have boxes of Legos” like Landmark classrooms, he
said, noting that some students “are more tactile, and need
to grasp an idea literally, rather than intellectually.”
But Betit said other colleges don’t
necessarily need to go to
Legos to better accommodate
students with learning disabilities. He said sometimes easy
adjustments, such as using more graphics, can help students
who are visual learners. And other strategies that focus on
basic skills that students with learning disabilities often
have not developed — such as time management, and study
skills — can benefit all of the students in a conventional
One of the systems that Landmark
uses, “master notebooks,” gives students a separate notebook
for each course that is divided into sections like “ideas,”
and “curriculum.” In the “notes” section, students use a
two-column note-taking system that uses paper with a large
left-hand margin, for students to organize major ideas of a
course, and then they can fill in details pertaining to each
idea on the right.
Betit encourages techniques as
simple as a daily checklist to help teach time management.
“Better time management is something all students can use,”
he said, so it shouldn’t be difficult to incorporate into a
conventional college classroom.
It isn’t clear yet exactly which
new teaching methods will be carried out in classrooms
beyond Landmark, but the partner colleges will start by
educating their own employees. Charles Blocksidge, vice
president of organizational development and the Frieda G.
Shapira Center for Learning, which works with students with
learning disabilities at Allegheny County, wants to adapt
some of the training techniques of Landmark personnel to
develop a training program for “our support services
personnel,” he said, but also for faculty members.
Susan Trist, disabilities support
coordinator at Western Nevada, said she works with around
100 students with learning disabilities, and hopes that,
through contact with Landmark, she can be kept up to date on
prevailing thought about teaching methods, “and especially
on assistive technology,” she said. The students Trist works
with are mixed in with other college students, and she will
sometimes “have the exam read to them if they have a visual
processing disorder, or get them textbooks on CD,” she said.
Trist said she “is anxious to hear about” the techniques
Landmark faculty use to accommodate students. “We need to
start a community of people to share best practices,” she
The Landmark Disabilities Act is celebrated at
The Landmark College site is at
Note that some accounting courses are available at Landmark College.
I might add the following from accounting education:
Sherry Mills and Cathleen Burns won the American Accounting Associations
Innovation in Accounting Education Award by using a
Lego project to teach cost accounting ---
Bob Jensen's threads on educating disabled students are at
Why did MIT fire an associate professor?
The Massachusetts Institute of
announced Thursday that it has
fired Luk Van Parijs as associate professor of biology after he
admitted to fabricating and falsifying research data. The MIT
statement said that no other members of Van Parijs’s team were
involved in the misconduct, and that MIT was forwarding its
findings to federal officials. Van Parijs was not available for
comment, but he told
The Boston Globe that he was
“shocked at the timing and the manner in which MIT made the
"MIT Fires Professor," Inside Higher Ed, October 28, 2005
People continuing to fall for hurricane victim scams
If you see an e-mail this weekend asking you to donate
to the victims of Hurricane Wilma, be careful. A scammer may be "phishing" in
your e-mail inbox. "Phishing" scams, in which e-mails and Web sites made to look
official are used to trick people out of their credit card numbers or other
personal information, are on the rise. And with people continuing to fall victim
and new opportunities to put a different face on the same scam -- the hurricane
relief efforts among the latest -- it appears that phishing attacks are here to
Mike Musgrove, "'Phishing' Keeps Luring Victims, The Washington Post,
October 22, 2005 ---
Bob Jensen's phishing hole is at
Time Magazine's picks for the all-time 100 best novels ---
Veterans History Project in the Library of Congress ---
The Veterans History Project relies on volunteers to collect and preserve
stories of wartime service.
The Wall Street
Journal, October 24, 1990
managers who invest with a global perspective favor cash and
bonds anywhere but in the U.S., because of Saddam Hussin and
tightening world-wide credit. Far down their list of favorites
are stocks, anywhere. (In retrospect, Oct. 11 began the great
A woman with remarkable courage
Rosa Parks, the dignified African American seamstress
whose refusal to surrender a bus seat to a white man launched the modern civil
rights movement and inspired generations of activists, died last night at her
home in Detroit, the Wayne County medical examiner's office said. She was 92.
Patricia Sullivan, "Bus Ride Shook a Nation's Conscience," The Washington
Post, October 25, 2005 ---
Prankster students with remarkable lack of courage
By mid-October, the leaves on campus are turning,
homecoming games are being celebrated, and — at any number of colleges — bigotry
in one form or another hurts some students deeply. The campuses and the
incidents vary from year to year, but like clockwork, you can’t reach this point
in the academic year without flare-ups in which students have said or done
things that left minority students (and many others) angry.
Scott Jaschik, "Dumb and Dumber," Inside Higher Ed, October 27, 2005 ---
Talk about Dumb and Dumber
How can a judge who has no control over the state appropriation to a university
dictate the minimum amount of pay raise for each faculty member in the
How can a state university "make promises" of pay raises before the state
appropriations are known?
I don't know whether the judge or the University of Washington
administrators are the dumbest in this dispute. But I do know that the
"solution" should never have been dictated in a court of law.
"Judge Orders Raises for U. of Washington Faculty," by Scott Jaschik,
Inside Higher Ed, October 27, 2005 ---
If you tell faculty members that they can expect a
raise, you’d better mean it.
That was the message that a state judge, Mary I.
Yu, had for the University of Washington Tuesday, when she ruled that the
university had an obligation to provide faculty members who received good
reviews a raise of at least 2 percent in 2002-3. The university could owe
its faculty members $12 million or more when the 2 percent is factored into
the base pay for faculty members who received subsequent raises.
The suit by faculty members centered on an
agreement between faculty leaders and administrators, codified in the
handbook for professors. University officials said that state budget cuts
that year made raises impossible.
Stephen K. Strong, the lawyer who represented the
faculty members, said the case was simple. “The university made a promise.
Whether they feel like following it or not is irrelevant.”
Judge Yu agreed. In her ruling, she noted that the
agreement was in the faculty handbook and said, “The court cannot find any
language that makes the merit salary increase contingent on funding.”
Norm Arkans, a spokesman for the university, said
that officials were studying the decision and had not decided whether to
He said that the university always understood the
agreement to apply only in cases where the state provided enough money. And
Arkans stressed that faculty salaries have been the “top priority” of
university leaders for some time. It was a “particularly wrenching decision”
to skip the raises, he said, but the university would have had to
“cannibalize itself” to have provided them.
Since Judge Yi mandated the $12 million raise, that presumably must be
appropriated year after year since raises carry on for more than one year, I
hope she will also mandate that the State of Washington legislature has no
choice other than to provided a added appropriation to the University of
Washington. To me her ruling appears to be a violation of the separation
of powers (court versus legislature) in her decision. I doubt that it will
stand up on appeal!
I might note that there is moral hazard here. This could become a
deliberate strategy of wedging out higher state appropriations from state
legislatures. If this ruling really set a precedent, university
administrators could promise enormous pay raises in advance of legislative
appropriations and then have state judges mandate the state legislatures must
come up with more money or that students have to pay higher tuition rates by
court order. State colleges in all 50 states better think about this new
ploy for getting higher revenues by mandates of the courts.
The high salary realities of the 1990s are over for U.S. IT workers
With another year of anemic 3% pay increases, it
sure looks that way for the more than 14,000 IT workers who took part in
Computerworld's 19th Annual Salary Survey. Now resigned to cost-of-living
increases, most are finding consolation in slightly higher bonuses, a bit less
work and overall lowered stress.
Stacey Collett, "Salary Survey: Are Skimpy Raises the New Normal?" Computer
World, October 24, 2005 ---
Surprise! Surprise! IT salaries are booming in India
Across India, tech industry analysts say salaries are
going up quickly because demand for the workers is so high, but they worry about
what that means for a country that is supposed to offer a cost advantage.The IT
and the non-IT folks find common ground on one thing: Neither side can wait for
the proposed highways, the toll roads, the metro system.
"Bangalore Dreams," The Washington Post ---
Meanwhile in the private sector there are some free lunches at Stanford
To a brief silence, and then thunderous applause at
a staff-appreciation lunch, President John Hennessy
announced Tuesday that
all 11,000 full and part-time faculty and staff members will get a $250 bonus
next month for their “tremendous effort,” which led to “a very successful year.”
Now that the belt is a few holes looser, Stanford decided to spread a bit of the
wealth with those who stayed the course. “We’ve been through a couple of tough
years,” said Diane Peck, head of human resources at Stanford. “People have
worked very hard and shown a tremendous commitment during those difficult
periods.” The bonus was given across the board because the university wanted to
stress that the upswing — Stanford trumped Harvard Univeristy in fund raising,
according to university officials — was a team effort.
David Epstein, "Stanford’s Lucky Lunch," Inside Higher Ed, October 27,
When being better at something is a sign of weakness: Schizophrenics
Better at Discerning Illusions
Optical illusions that fool most people don't seem to
trick those who suffer from schizophrenia, concludes a study published in the
latest issue of Current Biology. The success may actually be linked to a
weakness in a brain mechanism called contextual processing, which is responsible
for picking out relevant sensory information from the barrage of stimuli a
person constantly experiences. If that's the case, it may explain why some
schizophrenics misunderstand other people's actions in the context of a
situation or feel paranoia or persecution. Because vision depends on low-level
contextual processing, the researchers, led by Steven Dakin of University
College London, devised an experiment to test a person's ability to discriminate
one contrasting pattern from another. A disc filled in with a medium-contrast
pattern was placed in the center of a larger disc that had a high-contrast
pattern. When placed one on top of the other, the difference in contrast appears
negligible, when it is really 40 percent. The researchers hypothesized that
schizophrenics would not judge the center disc in context of the larger one and
therefore not recognize the visual distraction that creates the illusion. In
fact, 12 out 15 schizophrenics more accurately judged the contrast of the center
disc than did a group of 20 participants who do not suffer from the illness.
"Schizophrenics Better at Discerning Illusions," Scientific American,
October 26, 2005 ---
Paying for "good news" news rather than advertising
Call it pay for praise, greenbacks for good news,
bucks for beneficial publicity. The Newark City Council has awarded the Newark
Weekly News a $100,000 no-bid contract to publish positive news about the city.
Howard Scott, who owns Newark Weekly News, pitched
the idea to the city council, which unanimously approved the idea earlier this
month. "Do we have critical reporters on staff? No. Do we have investigative
reporters? No," Scott said. "Our niche is the good stuff. People have come to
know it, and they love it."
"Newark Pays Paper to Print Only Good News," Yahoo News, October 24, 2005
Jensen Comment: I think this idea should catch on. Since the major
newspapers are currently floundering with their current policy of publishing
mostly sad news, perhaps they could make more money with good news.
Perhaps we might even see competitors crop up like The New York Good Times
or The Washington Parget.
Microsoft will offer free online searches of book content
Microsoft Corp. is diving into the business of offering
online searches of books and other writings, and says its approach aims to avoid
the legal tussles met by rival Google Inc. The Redmond-based software giant said
Tuesday that it will sidestep hot-button copyright issues for now by initially
focusing mainly on books, academic materials and other publications that are in
the public domain. Microsoft plans to initially work with an industry
organization called the Open Content Alliance to let users search about 150,000
pieces of published material. A test version of the product is promised for next
year. The alliance, whose participants also include top Internet portal Yahoo
Inc., is working to make books and other offline content available online
without raising the ire of publishers and authors. Danielle Tiedt, a general
manager of search content acquisition with Microsoft's MSN online unit, said the
company also is working with publishers and libraries on ways to eventually make
more copyright material available for online searches. .. . The effort marks
Microsoft's latest effort to play catch-up with Google on various search
technologies ranging from basic Internet search to localized queries. But Google
remains by the search leader by far, accounting for 45.1 percent of all U.S.
Internet searches in September, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. Microsoft's
MSN Search ranked third, accounting for 11.7 percent of U.S. searches during the
Allison Lynn, "Microsoft to Start Online Book Searches," The
Washington Post, October 26, 2005 ---
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
Google Gives Peek at Classified Ad Service
Google Inc. has unintentionally provided a sneak peek
at what appears to be a looming expansion into classified advertising _ a free
service that might antagonize some of the Internet search engine's biggest
customers, including online auctioneer eBay Inc. Screen shots of the
experimental service, dubbed "Google Base," appeared on several Web sites
Tuesday shortly after the legions of people who dissect the online search engine
leader's every move discovered a link to a page inviting people to list things
like a used car for sale, a party planning service and current events.
Michael Liedtke, "Google Gives Peek at Classified Ad Service," The Washington
Post, October 26, 2005 ---
MSN rates the current most popular search terms versus MSN's recommended
searches. On October 26 these appeared as follows at
You may not want to run at a snail's pace, but you may want to remember at
a snail's pace ---
A clever illustration of tagged versus untagged data
October 26, 2005 message from Ed Scribner
When Neal says activity, he means it. I'll always
remember the activity he included in an XBRL session at the Colloquium on
Accounting Education. To demonstrate untagged data, he tossed a handful of
hard candy at the audience, motivating us to brief but animated activity.
Several minutes later, someone asked Neal to give another example of
untagged data, so he reached into a pitcher of ice water and tossed a
handful of ice at us.
One of the most successful pieces of software ever developed (but not
invented by Microsoft) is its spreadsheet program Excel The forthcoming
new version of Excel will hold twenty times as much data ---
Does Exercise Worsen Asthma?
Exercise can trigger asthma symptoms, but that doesn't
mean that people with asthma shouldn't exercise, a comprehensive new review
shows. Researchers concluded that just like everyone else, people with asthma
benefit from regular exercise. Asthmatics who exercised had better
cardiopulmonary fitness, which meant they could take in more oxygen and transfer
more air in and out of their lungs. "Most people with asthma can exercise just
like other people, provided they take some precautions," researcher Felix S.
Ram, MD, PhD, tells WebMD.
Saylynn Boyles, "Exercise Doesn't Worsen Asthma: Review Finds Some
Benefits, Little Harm," WebMD, October 21, 2005 ---
Is Your Boss Making You Sick? (or dead?)
Researchers in Finland found that workers who felt they
were being treated fairly had a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease,
the leading cause of death in all Western societies. They tracked the 10-year
incidence of heart disease in more than 6,400 male civil servants in London.
Researchers found that men who felt they were treated fairly at work had a 30
percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. "The evidence is becoming
increasingly clear that stress, wherever it's coming from, is becoming hazardous
to our health," said Dr. Bruce Spring, assistant professor at the University of
Southern California School of Medicine.
"Is Your Boss Making You Sick?" ABC News, October 26, 2005 ---
What is this thing called "Two-Factor Authentication?"
As reported in a story by my colleague Steven
Marlin, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council is giving
until the end of next year to implement two-factor authentication
for online transactions. Right now, banks only
use one-factor authentication: You go to the bank's Web site, enter in a
logon and password, and you're in your account. With two-factor
authentication, you'll need something else in addition to your password
to get in. Generally speaking, that something else is a hardware token,
such as a smart card or a gadget the size of a key fob that generates
one-time passwords. (For a photo of one of those gadgets, follow the
link in the previous story.) Some banks distribute a list of one-time
passwords on a scratch-off card.
Mitch Wagner, InformationTechnology Newsletter, October 25, 2005
Why did the University of Missouri rename its basketball arena?
Answer (forwarded by Debbie Bowling)
"Wal-Mart heir returns degree amid cheating claims," iWon News,
October 21, 2005 ---
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wal-Mart heiress Elizabeth
Paige Laurie has surrendered her college degree following allegations that
she cheated her way through the school.
The University of Southern California said in a
statement that Laurie, 23, "voluntarily has surrendered her degree and
returned her diploma to the university. She is not a graduate of USC."
The statement, dated September 30, said the
university had ended its review of the allegations concerning Laurie.
Laurie's roommate, Elena Martinez, told a
television show last year that she was paid $20,000 to write term papers and
complete other assignments for the granddaughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Bud
Walton. Wal-Mart is the world's biggest retailer. The family could not be
reached for comment.
Following the allegations, the University of
Missouri renamed its basketball arena, which had been paid for in part by a
$425 million donation from the Lauries and was to have been called "Paige
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on academic integrity are at
No surprise here: The UN is largely responsible for fraud
More than 4,500 companies took part in the United
Nations oil-for-food program and more than half of them paid illegal surcharges
and kickbacks to
Saddam Hussein, according to the independent
committee investigating the program. The country with the most companies
involved in the program was
Russia, followed by
France, the committee says in a report to be
released Thursday. The inquiry was led by Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of
the Federal Reserve Board. The findings are in the committee's fifth and final
report, a document of more than 500 pages that will detail how outside companies
from more than 60 countries were able to evade United Nations controls and make
money for themselves as well as for the Hussein government. The new report
studies the people outside Iraq who profited illicitly and how they did it. It
will identify companies and individuals who took part, both deliberately and
inadvertently, and will chronicle in detail the experience of 30 to 40 of them,
the investigators said. In an interview, Mr. Volcker said that while he knew the
naming of companies and the exposure of international "machinations" would draw
attention, he hoped it would not obscure his committee's purpose in keeping the
focus of their work on the need for United Nations reform. "In my mind," he
said, "this part of our investigation, looking at the manipulation of the
program outside the U.N., strongly reinforces the case that the U.N. itself
carries a large part of this responsibility and needs reform.
Warren Hoge, "U.N. to Detail Kickbacks Paid for Iraq's Oil, The
New York Times, October 26, 2005
Illegal Immigrants: Europe Under Siege
One concerns a gang estimated to have smuggled 100,000
illegal immigrants, mainly Turkish Kurds, into Great Britain. These economic
migrants paid between £3,000 and £5,000 to be transported via an elaborate and
dangerous route. The Independent explains: “Their journeys lasted several weeks
and involved safe houses, lorries with secret compartments and, in some cases,
clandestine flights to airfields in the South-east.” A senior British police
source commented that “It’s a tortuous journey, full of discomfort and danger,
but they are determined to get here, given the particular attraction of London’s
established Turkish community.”
Daniel Pipes, "Europe Under Siege," FrontPage Magazine, October 18, 2005
Don't forgive third world debt; allow creditors to make equity swaps
The plan I propose would be voluntary and does not ask
foreign creditors to forgive a single dollar of debt. Instead, lenders would
have the option of converting as much as 50% of the debt they are owed into
equity in infrastructure and social projects in a debtor country. The projects
would include profitable endeavors such as mining, energy exploration, power
grids and hospitals. The creditor should pick what he wants. In return for the
debt swap, the creditor would get an ownership stake and could earn profits that
could far exceed the original value of the loan. For example, a $100 million
stake in a booming timber market can be expected to yield $2-3 billion in
returns within 10 years.
Jose De Venecia, "Swap Debt for Equity," The Wall Street Journal, October
20, 2005 ---
Steep co-payments tend to restrain drug spending. But critics argue they
also reduce patients' compliance with recommended treatment, leading eventually
to higher spending on health-care services as workers' health declines.
A national pharmacists group and GlaxoSmithKline PLC
are seeking employers in 10 cities around the U.S. for an experiment in diabetes
treatment that aims to improve patient health while reducing health-care costs.
Participating employers would agree to waive co-payments on medicines that treat
diabetes, to encourage their use. In doing so, the program would flout a trend
toward shifting health-care costs to employees, in part through higher
co-payments for medicines. Steep co-payments tend to restrain drug spending. But
critics argue they also reduce patients' compliance with recommended treatment,
leading eventually to higher spending on health-care services as workers' health
Scott Hensley, "Cutting Costs for Diabetes Patients: Experiment Seeks to
Improve Health by Getting Employers To Waive Co-Payments," The Wall Street
Journal, October 25, 2005; Page D4 ---
India opens relief camp, but waits for Pakistani visitors
India opened its first relief camp Tuesday for quake
victims on the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch district of Jammu and
Kashmir, but there were no visitors as Pakistan is yet to decide to let them
cross over. The borders were opened up after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf
said that people from across the LoC could come over to help the victims of the
devastating Oct 8 earthquake that killed over 50,000 people and left an
estimated three million homeless in the bitter cold. At the relief camp here,
food and medicines for victims from Pakistan-administered Kashmir were kept in
Chakan Da Bagh, "India opens relief camp, but waits for Pakistani visitors,"
Web India, October 25, 2005 ---
What do you suppose Bob Jensen is costing accounting departments across
What Blogs Cost American Business
What Blogs Cost American Business In 2005, Employees
Will Waste 551,000 Work Years Reading Them --- Blog this: U.S. workers in 2005
will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs. About 35 million
workers -- one in four people in the labor force -- visit blogs and on average
spend 3.5 hours, or 9%, of the work week engaged with them, according to
Advertising Age's analysis. Time spent in the office on non-work blogs this year
will take up the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs. Forget lunch breaks -- bloggers
essentially take a daily...
Bradley Johnson, "What Blogs Cost American Business, Ad Age, October 25,
Bob Jensen's threads on blogs and Weblogs are at
It's too early to break out the champagne, but it's
possible that online marketing firms are slowly waking up to the dangers spyware
presents to their industry. In today's
lead feature, freelancer Christopher T. Heun takes
a look at two large marketing firms that say they've gotten serious about
fighting spyware and keeping their ads from distributors that download software
without a computer user's consent.
Antone Gonsalves, "Fighting Spyware," InternetWeek Newsletter, October
Do Iraqi Businesses Have a Future?
When the Pentagon went shopping for seven armored cars for senior Iraqi
policemen, U.S. officials turned to an Iraqi supplier to provide them with some
After spending nearly $1 million, here's what they
got: Six vehicles with bad armor and run-down mechanics. They also were a little
more than slightly used: The newest model was a 1996; the oldest a 1994.
According to the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, the seventh
auto is missing. In a report released Monday, the inspector general said the
Pentagon couldn't get its money back because it did such a bad job negotiating
the no-bid deal. In June, the Pentagon's Multi-National Security Transition
Command-Iraq bought the seven Mercedes-Benzes for $135,000 each. They were
supposed to include high-quality armor that could withstand high-velocity rifle
shots. The sheet plates provided were something less. "The armoring of the
vehicles appears to be of low standard and provides only limited safety to the
occupants of the vehicle," the military command unit's own mechanics wrote,
according to the inspector general's report. In addition, Pentagon mechanics
found "inadequate suspensions, low-quality tires, low-quality brakes and
unarmored electrical systems," the report said. The mechanics concluded that
"the vehicles were not worth the money paid and to bring them up to required
standards would have required an investment that exceeded the value of the
Seth Borenstein, "Contract leaves Pentagon with poorly armored cars, little
recourse," Yahoo News, October 24, 2005 ---
Do American Manufacturers Have a Future?
But lately, the news about manufacturing has seemed
particularly dismal. Since mid-2000, three million jobs have vanished. Overall
corporate profitability has been strong, but manufacturing has, until recently,
been a conspicuous exception.
Robert J. Samuelson, "Do American Manufacturers Have a Future?" The Wall Street
Journal, October 19, 2005 ---
GM possibly will avoid bankruptcy
Meanwhile, GM's 106,000 hourly employees continue to
receive benefits that most American workers haven't seen in years, if ever, with
little or no co-pays or even deductibles. This year the company's hourly workers
will pay just 7% of their total health-care bill, compared with 27% for salaried
workers; the corporate America average is 32%. GM CEO Rick Wagoner said Monday
that salaried workers' cost share will rise to 31% in 2006
"Rip Van UAW: The union decides to act before GM is in Chapter 11,"
The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2005 ---
GM's War for Survival Is Just Beginning
GM's big announcement on Monday of modest curbs on
health care spending by unionized employees brings the company up to, oh, about
1995 in corporate America's attempt to wrestle into submission the consequences
of its own foolish (tax-driven) decision to pay employees in health care rather
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., "GM's War for Survival Is Just Beginning," The Wall
Street Journal, October 19, 2005; Page A13 ---
SEC instigates probe of General Motors' Accounting
General Motors Corp. said on Wednesday it had been
subpoenaed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as part of a probe
into its accounting practices and other matters. It was the latest blow to the
world's largest automaker, which is bleeding money from its core North American
automotive operations and confronting its biggest financial crisis since a
narrow brush with bankruptcy 13 years ago. GM said the subpoenas related to its
financial reporting for pension and other post-employment benefits, and to
transactions between the company and auto parts supplier Delphi Corp. (Other
OTC:DPHIQ - news). They also relate to the SEC's interest in GM's recovery of
various costs from suppliers and supplier price credits, and any obligations to
fund pension and post-employment benefits costs related to Delphi's Chapter 11
bankruptcy proceedings, the company said in a statement.
"GM subpoenaed in accounting probe," The New York Times, October 26, 2005
The outside auditing firm for GM is Deloitte and Touche ---
Kinda like when Wal-Mart commenced to sell groceries and grocery stores
commenced to sell hardware
Nevertheless, publishers have been none too
thrilled about retailers like Barnes & Noble encroaching on their territory by
self-publishing a range of books, including classics by Fyodor Dostoevsky and
Mark Twain. "The retailers have become publishers, so why can't publishers
become retailers?" said Pat Schroeder, president of the Association of American
Publishers trade group. "It's an experimental thing. Everyone's trying to figure
out what the right thing to do is." Indeed, publishers are struggling along with
many of their media and entertainment peers to adapt to evolving technology that
is forcing them to rethink their business models. The issue has been a hot topic
of conversation at the Frankfurt Book Fair being held this week. "The boundaries
on publishing, retailing and distribution are getting blurred," said Makinson.
"We can't rely any longer on the traditional assumption that we're a publisher,
he's a retailer, we won't retail, he won't publish. We'll have to accommodate
"Book Publishers as E-tailers," Wired News, October 20, 2005 ---
Despite a slump in student satisfaction, executive programs generally
remain a good investment,
at least so say Business Week's Louis Lavelle and Geoff Gloeck
BusinessWeek recently announced the surprising results of
2005 Executive Education
EMBA rankings. Many new
faces grace the top tiers. B-schools Editor Louis Lavelle and reporter Geoff
Gloeckler recently shared insight about the rankings and fielded questions from
BusinessWeek Online reporter Francesca Di Meglio and the online audience during
a live chat event. Here's an edited transcript:
"Behind the Rankings," Business Week,
Bob Jensen's threads on the controversies of business school rankings are at
You can view BW's EMBA rankings at the above site.
Holy Fraud Batman
"Payouts Before the Fall: Refco Insiders Received $1 Billion in Cash ,"
SmartPros, October 21, 2005 ---
Oct. 21, 2005 (International Herald Tribune) — In
the year before Refco sold shares to the public and then made the
fourth-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, insiders at the company
received more than $1 billion in cash, according to Refco's financial
Also, one insider, Robert Trosten, received $45
million when he left his post as chief financial officer a year ago,
according to an arbitration hearing this year.
Mystery still surrounds the collapse this month of
Refco, a decades-old Wall Street firm that conducted billions of dollars in
trades in commodities, currencies and U.S. Treasury securities for more than
200,000 client accounts last year. But investors and customers who are
facing losses in Refco's bankruptcy will certainly want to understand how
insiders could drain $1.124 billion from the company's coffers in the year
or so leading up to its demise.
To some degree, the money that insiders took out is
not surprising, given that Refco's executives sold a big stake in the
company to Thomas H. Lee Partners, a private equity firm in Boston, in
Most of the money that insiders received $1.057
billion was paid upon the completion of that deal. Two Refco insiders were
on the receiving end of those payouts: Phillip Bennett, the former chief
executive who has been charged with defrauding investors by concealing a
$435 million loan he arranged with the firm, and Tone Grant, Refco's
longtime chief executive before Bennett.
Bennett has denied the securities fraud charges but
has declined to comment further. Grant could not be reached for comment
Creditors of Refco will almost certainly try to
recover what they can from payments made by the company to its top
executives in the months leading up to its demise.
While compensation like salaries is typically not
recoverable, payments made in the sale of a company or dividends paid to its
owners are fair game if the company is insolvent, said Denis Cronin, a
specialist in bankruptcy law at the New York firm Cronin & Vris.
The $1.057 billion came in two chunks, according to
the Refco prospectus. First, Bennett and Grant appear to have shared in a
$550 million cash payment in the transaction with Thomas Lee Partners. Then,
Bennett appears to have received $507 million more from the deal.
Bennett did not cash out of Refco completely. At
the time of the Lee deal, he agreed to roll over an equity stake in Refco
worth $383 million, the prospectus said.
-- Gretchen Morgenson and Jenny Anderson, The
New York Times
Bob Jensen's updates on frauds are at
Bob Jensen's threads on the legal troubles of Grant Thornton are at
"Mystery at Refco: How Could Such a Huge Debt Stay Hidden?," by Riva
D. Atlas and Jonathan D. Glater, The New York Times, October 24,
Peter F. James had been working at Refco less than
two months when he noticed something this summer that teams of accountants
had apparently missed for years.
Mr. James, a recently hired employee in the
controller's office, wondered why a larger-than-normal interest payment had
been made to Refco on an outstanding loan made by the company. In August he
started to ask questions, eventually taking his concerns to the chief
financial officer, Gerald M. Sherer. The answers would lead to the departure
of the chief executive and the rapid unraveling of the company that prompted
its filing for bankruptcy protection last week.
"He's the hero in discovering this," a person close
to the investigation said of Mr. James. "He just kept pushing." Mr. James
declined to comment for this article.
Mr. James had been hired by Mr. Sherer, who himself
came to Refco only in January, to help bolster the firm's financial
operations. Mr. Sherer had alerted the board to problems with Refco's
internal controls - the practices or systems for keeping records and
preventing abuse or fraud. That weakness was disclosed in Refco's regulatory
filings before its initial public offering in August.
Now, questions are mounting over why others - among
them, the company's auditor (Grant Thornton)
and the underwriters that took Refco public in August - never discovered
what Mr. James did.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---
Bob Jensen's threads on Grant Thornton ---
Microsoft's New Business Scorecard Manager: Not Priced for
Microsoft Corp. is stepping up its attack on a new
software market -- the data-analysis programs offered by companies like Business
Objects SA and Cognos Inc. The Redmond, Wash., company today is announcing plans
to begin selling on Nov. 1 a program called Business Scorecard Manager that
helps turn sales and customer data into report cards about portions of a
company's business. The product, which runs on server systems, is designed to
exchange data with other Microsoft programs such as its SQL Server database and
parts of its Office suite of desktop programs, particularly the spreadsheet
Excel. Scorecard Manager carries an estimated retail price of $5,000 a server,
plus $175 for each PC user that makes use of the software. Microsoft officials
say the price sharply undercuts rival products, part of a strategy designed to
popularize such tools beyond the small number of trained analysts that typically
Don Clark, "Microsoft Unveils Tool To Analyze Business Data," The Wall Street
Journal, October 24, 2005 ---
Too Many Women Fall for Stereotypes Of Selves, Study Says
Yet Catalyst's study found that women are giving up
important ground. Women said they are better at supporting and rewarding
employees, and at the important tasks of problem solving, team building,
mentoring, consulting and inspiring. But they also said men are better at
networking, influencing upward and delegating. "Women as well as men perceive
women leaders as better at caretaker behaviors and men as better at take-charge
behaviors," says Ilene Lang, president of Catalyst. "These are perceptions, not
the reality." But perceptions, we all know, strongly influence reality. After
Ms. Lang reported the study's results to Catalyst's advisory board, one member
described how the big consulting company at which she is a partner discovered
how sex-role stereotypes influence employee performance ratings. After analyzing
past reviews of managers, the company found that women who aren't considered
"supportive" mentors got negative ratings, while nonsupportive men weren't at
all badly judged. "Men aren't expected to be supportive, so they're not
criticized when they aren't," says Ms. Lang. It's not surprising that women are
rated as more effective leaders when they work in so-called feminine
occupations, such as cosmetics or fashion companies, than when they are employed
in a traditionally masculine industry such as steel. Respondents in Catalyst's
study who had a female boss in a feminine occupation were likely to judge women
as better problem solvers than men; but those with a female boss in a masculine
occupation expressed profoundly negative views of women leaders. So, simply
hiring more women into management positions isn't likely to eliminate
Carol Hymowitz, "Too Many Women Fall for Stereotypes Of Selves, Study Says,"
The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2005 ---
From The Washington Post on October 24, 2005
What year are Senate Commerce Committee staffers
proposing nationwide analog TV broadcasts will end?
7 Billion to Fix a Non-Problem
Colleges have been ever vigilant in recent years to make
their computer networks secure from outside hackers. As a result, giving outside
entities — like federal law enforcement officials — the ability to enter
networks would be extremely complicated and require a huge expenditure on
rewiring equipment throughout campuses. And that is what the Federal
Communications Commission is ordering colleges and other entities to do.The
rules issued by the FCC have infuriated college
officials, who note that higher education would be spending billions of dollars
to make it easier for wiretaps to be installed when there is no evidence that
the government seeks wiretaps of college networks.
Scott Jaschik, "$7 Billion to Fix a Non-Problem," Inside Higher Ed,
October 24, 2005 ---
Europe's Rift Threatens Trade
The EU appears increasingly divided between countries
like Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, countries that
have smaller farm sectors and are eager to gain fresh markets for manufactured
goods, and their southern neighbors, which are more dependent on industries that
are less competitive globally, including agriculture. The Doha global trade
talks are at a make-or-break juncture on agriculture issues, with little time
left before trade ministers from 148 countries are due to meet in Hong Kong in
December. The U.S. tabled a fresh offer to cut farm subsidies and tariffs two
weeks ago, but since then Europe has failed to weigh in with fresh concessions
of its own.
Marc Champion and Scott Miller, "Europe's Rift Threatens Trade: Fate of
Global Talks May Rest On Britain-France Dispute," The Wall Street Journal,
October 27, 2005; Page A18 ---
Too much complexity and too many distractions on the dashboard
Why Look at the Road When There's So Much Going On Inside?
"Manufacturers spend a lot of time designing technology
to put into their vehicles, but it seems little time is spent asking if it even
needs to go into the vehicle in the first place," said David Strayer, a
University of Utah psychology professor and a leading researcher on distractions
in the car. "Over the last 20 years, the car dashboard has become a lot more
Jeffrey Salingo, "Why Look at the Road When There's So Much Going On Inside?"
The New York Times, October 26, 2005 ---
Do managers use R&D to manage earnings?
From Jim Mahar's Blog on October 24, 2005 ---
What an interesting paper!
As most anyone in industry will tell you, managers
often play games with R&D spending. Whether it is for their own "pet
projects" or to further some cause within the firm. Of course, this should
not be surprising as no where are information assymetry probelms more severe
than in R&D spending.
Bange, De Bondt, and Shrider now provide empirical
evidence of this game playing with respect to managers trying to "manage"
earnings. This is because R&D expenditures (for which there is much
discretion as to the timing) lower earnings.
The authors find "find ample evidence suggesting
that executives, on average, distort R&D investment decisions so that they
may improve their chances of meeting analyst expectations."
This finding, which is based on firms with large
R&D spending over the past two plus decades, is consistent with previous
survey based work (for instance Graham, Harvey and Rajgopal’s (2004)).
VERY interesting and important work.
Cite: Bange, Mary M, Werner F.M. De Bondt, and
David G. Shrider, FMA Working paper, 2005 ---
Electronic Books and Journals
The Milton Reading Room from Dartmouth ---
Poets Graves ---
Electronic Poetry Center ---
Starlight Cafe's Poetry Corner ---
Arthur Rimbaud's Poems --- http://mag4.net/Rimbaud/indexe.html
Bob Jensen's helpers for finding electronic
books and journals ---
In the first place we should insist that if the
immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates
himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for
it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or
birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very
fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided
allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also,
isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and
this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and
civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which
we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English
language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to
the American people.
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
October 24, 2005 message from Lois Garza, Lois
I am writing this to inform as many people as
possible and hope that you will pass this information along to everyone that
Just as I began to put air in the front tire on the
passenger side of my car, I felt my car move and looked up (thinking that
someone had possibly backed into my car) as I stood up a Hispanic male was
running from my vehicle and jumped into what looked like a Tan 4 door Tahoe
with darkly tinted windows and slammed the rear door and sped away. I looked
into my car and realized that he had just stolen my purse. It happened in a
matter of seconds and I was unable to get a license plate or a facial
description of the person. I was able to call the police from inside the
Exxon station located at Marbach and Loop 410. They arrived about 30 minutes
later and took a report. The officer then asked if we wanted the car finger
printed, we said yes and unfortunately waited about 2 1/2 hours. When the
second officer arrived, she indicated that there were a few prints but they
were smudged. They did take two prints off the outside of the car. She did
inform us that they were unable to get any prints from inside the vehicle
because the interior is textured.
The only good thing is that my car, house and work
keys were not in my purse
I spoke with one of the gas station attendants who
said that I was not the first person to have my purse stolen. He also
informed me that there was a gentleman who had his vehicle stolen while he
was putting air into the tires. Another woman turned her back on her car and
someone reached in and stole her purse.
The first officer told me that you should never
leave your vehicle unlocked, even if you are standing next to it. Even if
you are getting gas, they can open the passenger side if your back is turned
and get away in a matter of seconds.
Unfortunately, I learned the hard way and hopefully
this will help in deterring the criminals who seek to steal what each of us
has worked so very hard for.
Lois L. Garza
Conferences and Special Programs
The Unofficial Monty Python Website ---
Note especially The Accountancy Shanty (audio) at
Are the squeaks coming from the wheels or the bones ---
How not to sell a waterbed ---
Parachute Jump (Kinda Dumb, but click on Start each time) ---
Fun with horses (Speakers on, click on each horse from left to right) ---
I'll bet they can't top this.
Sharp shooter video for Carl, Dick (retired), Glen, Gerald, and John at Trinity
Funny Signs (forwarded by Paula) ---
more funny signs at
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 ---
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