The rapidly growing Hispanic population in the
U.S. has companies hunting executives who are tuned into the language and
"Demand for Hispanic MBAs Is Caliente," Business Week Newsletter, December 7, 2005
Jensen Comment: Spanish and Chinese are particularly good languages for U.S. business student opportunities.
If at first you don't succeed, find out if the
loser gets anything.
Bill Lyon as quoted in InformationWeek Newsletter, December 6, 2005
Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by
Mark Twain as quoted in a recent email message from Bruce Lubich
Examinations are formidable even to the best
prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.
Charles Caleb Colton as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-12-05-05.htm
Doubt is one of the names of intelligence.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorge_Luis_Borges
SonyBMG's disastrous use of rootkit software has
taught us a valuable lesson:
we're too trusting of commercial software.
John Gartner in MIT's Technology Review, December 7, 2005 ---
Certainly, the accounting profession, our firm
included, has taken some shots from regulators and others over the last
several years, and I'm here to tell you that we deserved some of those
shots. I do feel somewhat fortunate, though, that my profession has faced
some very tough times, and not only survived, but emerged better for the
experience. The times have taught us the dangers of being arrogant...of not
listening. We have been reminded of the importance of engaging with others,
not just with companies and boards, but with policymakers, opinion leaders,
academicians, and the investor community. While what we have been through
has been difficult, it has been to a positive end because it has encouraged
us to do some soul-searching--as individuals and as a profession--to
rediscover our roots. We have had time to ask ourselves, as accounting
professionals, why we do what we do...why it matters. What is our purpose
and how does that guide our decisions? These are important questions in
defining the culture of any organization.
Jim Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, December 1, 2005 --- http://eyaprimo.ey.com/natlmktgaprimoey/Attachments/Attachment42550.pdf
Bob Jensen's threads on E&Y are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Ernst
Accounting-industry regulators [on Wednesday]
acknowledged that auditors and public companies had faced "enormous
challenges" in complying with strict new governance measures but expressed
confidence the process would become easier with time.
SmartPros --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x50826.xml
In any case, the real question is whether 404
(Section 404 of the
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) ), despite the expense, has been good
for corporate America. To me, the answer is an unambiguous yes.
Joseph Nocera, "For All Its Cost, Sarbanes Law Is Working," The New York Times, December 4, 2005
Research: SOX Costs to Exceed $6 Billion in
SmartPros --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x50796.xml
Who put Porter Goss in charge of intelligence?
Al Qaida leaders Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi haven't been found 'primarily because they don't want us to find them and they're going to great lengths to make sure we don't find them ...
CIA director Porter Goss said in the interview broadcast November 29, 2005 on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Who put him in charge of Arizona State University's student newspaper?
I'm all dangerous now. Man, I haven't gotten laid so much in my life as I did after 9/11 . . . Girls always confuse sympathy with sex. And guys are always up for it. And I'm not gonna say no.
Yaser Alamoodi --- http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/2004-10-07/culture/speakeasy.html
Jensen Comment: The Opinion Journal noted that Yaser Alamoodi, the Saudi president of Arizona State University's student government, is urging a ban on students posing for Playboy and similar magazines on the ground that ASU's image as a party school is harmful to its academic reputation --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110007608#shariah
U.S. employers increased their payrolls during
November by the largest number of jobs since before Hurricane Katrina.
Nonfarm payrolls climbed by 215,000 jobs after a downwardly revised
44,000-job increase in October, the Labor Department said. The unemployment
rate held steady at 5.0% last month.
Wall Street Journal Newsletter, December 2, 2005
Economy Sends Out Healthy Signals: Factory Activity Is Robust --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113344383465111272.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
One key reason the U.S. economy has outperformed
other industrialized nations, and exceeded its long-run average growth rate
during the past two years, is the tax cut of 2003. By reducing taxes on
investment, the U.S. boosted growth, which in turn created new jobs that replace
those that are lost as the old economy dies. Ireland is also a beautiful example
of the power of tax cuts to boost growth and lift living standards. Economic
growth is the only true shock absorber for an economy in transition. To minimize
the pain of technological globalization and address the anxiety that these
forces are creating, free-market policies must be followed. While tremendous
pressures are building to increase government involvement in the economy, it is
important that the U.S. stay the course that brought it out of recession.
Brian S. Wesbury, "Pouting Pundits of Pessimism: Every bit of good economic news gives them reason for despair," The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007622
Good News: Tax cuts and economic growth keep the U.S. economy in the lead for now.
Bad News: Tax cuts and economic growth only delay the inevitable fall --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm
This is the Alfred E. Neuman, "What, me worry?" school of
public relations. It doesn't seem quite appropriate for a major war.
Dannel Henninger --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110007623
An atheist group at the University of Texas at San Antonio is offering free (soft) porn in exchange for Bibles. Now's your chance for a free eyeful, especially if you've collected a room full of Gideon Bibles swiped from hotel rooms over the years just hoping an offer like this would one day come along --- http://www.boingboing.net/2005/12/02/atheist_group_offers.html
Food crisis feared as fertile land runs out
New maps show that the Earth is rapidly running out of fertile land and that food production will soon be unable to keep up with the world's burgeoning population. The maps reveal that more than one third of the world's land is being used to grow crops or graze cattle. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison combined satellite land cover images with agricultural census data from every country in the world to create detailed maps of global land use. Each grid square was 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) across and showed the most prevalent land use in that square, such as forest, grassland or ice.
Kate Ravilious, "Food crisis feared as fertile land runs out," The Guardian, December 6, 2005 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1659467,00.html
Samaritan's Purse for International Relief ---
Some items mentioned in The Opinion Journal Newsletter on November 29, 2005 with respect to what $1,700 will buy:
- Given 170 mosquito nets treated with natural insecticide to protect children in developing countries as they sleep from mosquitos who may infect them with deadly malaria, encephalitis or dengue fever. (Malaria alone kills one African child every 30 seconds.)
- Helped 113 poor children to learn to read and write in places like Afghanistan and in the isolated tribal areas of Thailand and Vietnam.
- Sent life-saving food for two months to 48 refugee families who are near starvation in places like Darfur.
- For a month, cared for 42 orphans who have AIDS in Africa and Asia. (Sixteen million orphans have AIDS and the number is increasing.)
- Helped to build a school for 42 impoverished children in the remote villages of South Asia or war-ravaged towns of East Africa.
- Supplied 22 thirsty families in the Third World with clean water from new freshwater wells, filters and purification projects. (At least two million people, mostly children, die annually from contaminated water or waterborne diseases.)
- Transformed 22 lives with the gift of a wheelchair for poverty-stricken and disabled people living in Latin America, Africa or Asia.
- Rescued eight children from bondage and abuse by human traffickers from Africa to Southeast Asia to Latin America.
- For another $300, saved a child's life by buying an airline ticket to fly a child to North America for life-saving heart surgery through the Children's Heart Project.
Darfur Drawn: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children’s Eyes --- http://hrw.org/photos/2005/darfur/drawings/
Many Colleges Ignore New SAT Writing Test
The University of Chicago, Ohio State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions say scores on the writing test won't figure into their admissions decisions this year. "We don't know what they mean," says Ted O'Neill, Chicago's dean of admissions. "We don't know what they predict." . . . But some admissions officers say the essay's predictive value hasn't been established, that it tests a narrow skill -- writing quickly -- that isn't core to a college education. They also fear it can easily be coached and thus confer benefits to wealthy applicants. Some schools are giving less consideration to the writing than to other sections of the test, or counting it on a case-by-case basis if it helps tip the scales. "We are using it with a really skeptical eye," says Jess Lord, dean of admission and financial aid at Haverford College in Haverford, Pa. Mr. Lord says his office will consider the writing score but won't give it much weight if it's inconsistent with the rest of a student's application.
Charles Forelle, "Many Colleges Ignore New SAT Writing Test: Essay May Not Predict Academic Success, Critics Say; When the Results Can Help," The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2005; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113392427118515919.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Convergence of foreign and domestic accounting rules could catch some
U.S. companies by surprise
Although many differences remain between U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and international financial reporting standards (IFRS), they are being eliminated faster than anyone, even Herz or Tweedie, could have imagined. In April, FASB and the IASB agreed that all major projects going forward would be conducted jointly. That same month, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that, as soon as 2007, it might allow foreign companies to use IFRS to raise capital in the United States, eliminating the current requirement that they reconcile their statements to U.S. GAAP. The change is all the more remarkable given that the IASB was formed only four years ago, and has rushed to complete 25 new or revamped standards in time for all 25 countries in the European Union to adopt IFRS by this year. By next year, some 100 countries will be using IFRS. "We reckon it will be 150 in five years," marvels Tweedie. "That leaves only 50 out."
Tim Reason, "The Narrowing GAAP: The convergence of foreign and domestic accounting rules could catch some U.S. companies by surprise," CFO Magazine December 01, 2005 ---
"Princeton University Says Campus Event On Terrorism is 'Too Inflammatory'," U.S. Newswire, December 4, 2005 --- http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=57581
PRINCETON, N.J. Dec. 5 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In clear violation of free speech, Princeton University has cancelled a speaking event by three former Middle East terrorists because it says that the use of the word "terrorist" in the promotion for the event is "too inflammatory" the Walid Shoebat Foundation said today.
The speakers will still hold a press conference near the campus on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. The location will be announced in an updated media release the morning of the press conference.
"We believe Princeton is creating red tape to stop the event," said Keith Davies, the executive director of the Walid Shoebat Foundation.
The event organizers planned to bring Walid Shoebat, Ibrahim Abdallah and Zak Anani to the Ivy League school to lecture on the terrorist mindset and how they were indoctrinated into terrorism.
Walid Shoebat is from a prominent family in Bethlehem. After joining the PLO, he took part in numerous acts of violence against Israel including the bombing of a bank. He was also involved in the attempted lynching of an Israeli soldier. Feature stories on Mr. Shoebat have aired on the BBC, FOX News, MSNBC, CBS and have been published in the Telegraph and Calgary Sun.
Zak Anani was a leader of the most notorious Arab gangs prior to Lebanese civil war. Before he age 16, he killed numerous Arabs in gang warfare and hated the West.
Ibrahim Abadallah was born and raised in Dearborn, Mich. to a Jordanian father. At 17, he immigrated to Israel, where he joined the PLO. He injured many Israelis while rioting and throwing Molotov cocktails at them.
Insurgents kidnapping their allies: Seems a little like
dimwitted accountants that steal the accounts payable
The kidnappers, who call themselves the Swords of Truth, said the four would die on Thursday unless Iraqi prisoners were released. The video was aired on Arab television station al-Jazeera. Of course, as the Guardian notes, the hostages, who represent an outfit called Christian Peacemaker Teams, were already on the same side as the terrorists: "The group had been campaigning on behalf of a number of detainees held by the US in Iraqi jails." James Robbins http://www.nationalreview.com/robbins/robbins200512050823.asp notes on National Review Online that kidnapping their allies seems an awfully foolish approach.
Opinion Journal, December 5, 2005
Safety Tips for Holiday Season Lighting --- http://www.ul.com/
E-Tailers Try New Holiday Tricks
It's not only a merry Christmas on the Web this year, it's also an innovative one. Forrester Research Inc. (FORR ) says online retail sales this holiday will surge 25%, to $18 billion. The increasingly strong profitability of Net commerce is giving retailers the chance to experiment with a stockingful of new sales and marketing tactics. They're tapping into technologies such as blogs, social networking, and wireless phones to draw shoppers to their sites. "There are a host of new ways to reach out that are more innovative," says Forrester analyst Carrie Johnson.
"E-Tailers Try New Holiday Tricks: They're tapping blogs, social-networking sites, and GPS technology to lure shoppers," Business Week, December 12, 2005 ---
What is happening to the discipline of English in modern academe?
Instead, there’s a strong tendency, as Louis Menand puts it, toward “a predictable and aimless eclecticism.” A young English professor who has a column under the name Thomas Hart Benton in The Chronicle of Higher Education puts it this way: “I can’t even figure out what ‘English’ is anymore, after ten years of graduate school and five years on the tenure track. I can’t understand eighty percent of PMLA, the discipline’s major journal. I can’t talk to most people in my own profession, not that we have anything to say to each other. We don’t even buy one another’s books; apparently they are not worth reading. We complain about how awful everything is, how there’s no point to continuing, but nobody has any idea what to do next.” The English department mainly survives as a utilitarian administrative conceit, while the English profession operates largely as a hiring and credentialing extension of that conceit . . . One of the noblest and most disciplinarily discrete things we can do in the classroom is to take those ontological drives seriously, to suggest ways in which great works of art repeatedly honor and clarify them as they animate them through character, style, and point of view. One of the least noble and most self-defeating things we can do is avert our student’s eye from the peculiar, delicate, and enlightening transaction I’m trying to describe here. When we dismiss this transaction as merely “moral” — or as proto-religious — rather than political, when we rush our students forward to formulated political beliefs, we fail them and we fail literature. Humanistic education is a slow process of assimilation, without any clear real-world point to it. We should trust our students enough to guide them lightly as they work their way toward the complex truths literature discloses.
Margaret Soltan, "No Field, No Future," Inside Higher Ed, December 6, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/12/06/soltan
Update on Duke's iPod Program
The number of Duke University students using iPods in the classroom has quadrupled and the number of courses employing them has doubled in this, the second year of the university’s program to incorporate the ubiquitous Apple device for educational means, Duke has announced.
Inside Higher Ed, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/12/07/qt
Where does Palm go from here now that it's been beaten down by
Indeed, Palm couldn't keep generating the heat. Its dominance vanished as devices such as the Handspring Visor and Research In Motion's Blackberry entered the market. And it wasn’t just hardware that posed a threat: Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and other PC makers chose to license Microsoft's competing PocketPC operating system instead of the Palm OS for their handheld devices. In March 2001, Palm announced that it would sell the m500 and color m505 handhelds, featuring expansion slots for adding peripherals, but the devices were delayed by several months. Palm had prematurely announced the products “to steal some thunder” from rising handheld competitor Handspring, according to Todd Kort, a principal analyst with Gartner. (Handspring was founded by former Palm executives Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky.)
John Gartner, "Palm's Life Line What can Palm's tumultuous history tell us about the future of the mobile device market?" MIT's Technology Review, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com//wtr_15973,1,p1.html?trk=nl
So why am I not skinny after decades of social drinking?
People who average around a drink a day are 54-percent less likely to be obese than their non-drinking counterparts, says a report out Monday in the journal BMC Public Health. It found half of moderate drinkers were in the normal weight range, compared with only one-quarter of the teetotalers.
Dan Olmsted, "HealthWrap: Alcohol gets mixed reviews," Science Daily, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20051205-15250500-bc-healthwrap.xml
Marquette suspends dental student for blog comments
A dental student at Marquette University has been suspended for the rest of the academic year and ordered to repeat a semester after a committee of professors, administrators and students determined that he violated professional conduct codes when he posted negative comments about unnamed students and professors on a blog . . . The focus of the hearing, Taylor said, were half a dozen postings including one describing a professor as "a (expletive) of a teacher" and another that described 20 classmates as having the "intellectual/maturity of a 3-year-old."
Megan Twohey, "Marquette suspends dental student for blog comments," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 5, 2005 --- http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/dec05/375555.asp
Yet another example of how fraud works in high finance
It was a prudent move. While LandAmerica CFO G. William Evans says the review turned up nothing irregular at the Richmond, Virginia-based company, it appears some pension consultants have been recommending money managers based on self-interest, and not on the needs of their clients. Indeed, a study of 24 pension consultants conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission found that more than half of the advisory firms earned money from both retirement-plan clients and money-management funds. According to the SEC study, issued in May, most of these pension advisers had relationships with unaffiliated broker-dealers or operated their own broker-dealers — thus providing themselves with an easy way to receive indirect payments from money managers.
Randy Myers, "Games They Play: The other shoe has yet to drop on pension consultants' possible conflicts of interest. But companies can't afford to wait," CFO Magazine, December 1, 2005 --- http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/5193393/c_5243641?f=magazine_alsoinside
Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
In particular, the "Pension Fund Consulting Racket" is discussed at
How much can a university do to become one of the Top 20 in the
In 1997, political leaders in Kentucky embraced a campaign to turn the state’s flagship campus, the University of Kentucky, into one of the top 20 public research universities in the country by 2020. Legislators and the governor at the time, Paul Patton, argued that the state could not transform its economy and better educate its citizens without significantly strengthening the research and education enterprise at its leading university. Skeptics scoffed, noting that dozens of universities covet spots in the top 20, when, as the name suggests, it only has room for 20.
Doug Lederman, "Angling for the Top 20," Inside Higher Ed, December 6, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/12/06/kentucky
Studies of the aging process among employees
The Quest for Human Longevity: Science, Business, and Public Policy
by Lewis D. Solomon
(Transactions Publishers, 2006) --- http://www.innovationwatch.com/books/bks_0765803003.htm
Airline Passenger Complaints Rise Sharply: What airlines have
the most versus fewest complaints?
So far this year, US Airways has the most complaints per passenger, while Southwest Airlines has the fewest. The biggest complaint has been flight problems, which includes cancellations, delays and missed connections. In October, for example, the number of canceled flights increased nearly 52% to 10,475, from 6,895 canceled trips in October 2004. Mishandled baggage reports increased as well, rising nearly 22% to 239,452 for the month, compared with 196,847 mishandled bags a year earlier.
Scott McCartney, "Airline Passenger Complaints Rise Sharply: Total Number Jumps 29%, With Flight Cancellations And Delays Topping List," The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2005; Page D1 ---
Animal rights activists probably won't like this one
Police have collared the latest in technology by kitting out their firearms dogs with cameras. New recruits to the Northumbria Police force are German shepherds Sammy, five, and three-year-old Zara. They have been trained to help during armed sieges and wear miniature television cameras with transmitters fitted to their heads or harnesses. It means they can search buildings and relay the information back to officers. The Fido camera system also has infra-red lights, which means pictures can be provided in darkness. Pictures are seen on a receiver unit carried by the dog handler who can watch the progress of the...
BBC News, December 4, 2005 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1534243/posts
But this one about dogs is a laughing matter
Sounds of Dog's 'Laugh' Calms Other Pooches Researchers: Canine Laugh Is Long Loud Panting Sound Dec. 4, 2005 — - Researchers at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service in Washington state say sometimes a bark is just a bark -- but a long, loud panting sound has real meaning. They say the long, loud pant is the sound of a dog laughing, and it has a direct impact on the behavior of other dogs. "What we found is that it had a calming or soothing effect on the dogs," said Patricia Simonet, an animal behaviorist in Spokane who has...
"Sounds of Dog's 'Laugh' Calms Other Pooches Researchers: Canine Laugh Is Long Loud Panting Sound," ABC News, December 4, 2005 --- http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/print?id=1370911
Intel Announces Chip Technology Breakthrough Using New Materials
Intel and QinetiQ researchers have jointly demonstrated an enhancement-mode transistor using indium antimonide (chemical symbol: InSb) to conduct electrical current. Transistors control the flow of information/electrical current inside a chip. The prototype transistor is much faster and consumes less power than previously announced transistors. Intel anticipates using this new material to complement silicon, further extending Moore's Law.
"Intel Announces Chip Technology Breakthrough Using New Materials," Yahoo News, December 7, 2005 --- http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/051207/20051207005320.html?.v=1
Heavy NCAA Penalties for Georgia Tech
"NCAA Puts Georgia Tech and the U. of South Carolina on Probation for Violations of Academic Rules," by Rebecca Aronauer and Brad Wolverton, The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2005, Page A34.
In November the NCAA put Georgia Tech on probation for two years and stripped the institution of several scholarships after discovering that academic officials had inadvertently allowed 17 ineligible athletes to compete over a six-year period.
Eleven of the athletes were football players, including some who had received all-conference or all-American honors. The other students participated in men's and women's track and field, and women's swimming. Six of the 17 athletes got a D in a class but were still permitted to compete in athletic events.
The NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions said the institution had displayed a lack of institutional control by failing to properly train academic officials and by not conducting a thorough investigation into possible rules violations.
The committee also said that Georgia Tech had received a substantial competitive advantage by allowing the ineligible athletes to compete.
Because of the violations, Georgia Tech must forfeit the wins its football team had in games from the 1998-99 to 2004-5 seasons in which any of the 11 ineligible athletes competed.
The university must also expunge all individual track and swimming athletes' results from contests in which they competed.
Georgia Tech is considering an appeal of the ruling.
Recall an earlier tidbit:
Coach Takes the Test
More evidence that many universities are losing (or never had) quality control on athlete admissions and grading
The National Collegiate Athletic Association punished Texas Christian University’s men’s track program on Thursday for a set of rules violations that included some of the most egregious and unusual examples of academic fraud in recent history. They included an instance in which a former assistant coach took a final examination alongside a track athlete — with the consent of the faculty member in the course — and then swapped his version of the test with the athlete’s, allowing him to pass.
Doug Lederman, "NCAA Finds Fraud at TCU," Inside Higher Ed, September 23, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/23/tcu
Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics
Generic No-Name Lighted Tree at Auburn University
Holiday season brings out campus multiculturalism By Ellen Burke Staff Reporter December 07, 2005 As the sun sets on the Capstone, simple white lights shine from a tree in front of the Rose Administration Building as workers assemble the final branches. But there's a mystery about the tree - it has no name. Across the nation, debates rage about whether trees on public property should be designated as Christmas trees or as "holiday" trees, incorporating other religious holidays into the meaning of the tree. The UA tree hasn't been named and won't be, UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said. "If people...
The Crimson White, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.cw.ua.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/12/07/43968b2a9a07a
From The Washington Post on December 7, 2005
Suggestions for accountancy from the Directors of the SEC and the FASB
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on December 9, 2005
TITLE: SEC's Cox Wants Simpler Rules, More Competition for Accounting
REPORTER: Judith Burns
DATE: Dec 06, 2005
TOPICS: Accounting, Auditing, Auditing Services, Public Accounting, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Securities and Exchange Commission
SUMMARY: Questions relate to helping students understand the status various influences on the accounting profession from the AICPA, the SEC, the FASB, and the legislature via the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
1.) Where did SEC Chairman Christopher Cox describe the ways in which he wants to see change in the accounting and auditing professions? What is the purpose of that organization? (Hint: you may find out about the organization's mission via its web site at www.aicpa.org
2.) In accordance with law, how is the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) responsible for accounting and reporting requirements in the United States? Hint: you may investigate the SEC's mission via its web site at www.sec.gov
3.) What are the issues associated with complex accounting rules? Who establishes those rules? In what way are those rules influenced by the SEC?
4.) The SEC has named an interim chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). How is this speech's topic related to the process of change in leadership at the PCAOB?
5.) Commissioner Cox indicated his concern over the fact that only 4 public accounting firms perform audit and accounting work for most of the publicly traded companies in the U.S. and that regulators may have contributed to that concentration. How is that the case? What might regulators do to change that situation?
December 6, 2005 message from Dennis Beresford [email@example.com]
National Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments. His (Cox, the new Director of the SEC) talk is available at: http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/spch120505cc.htm
He had three main messages:
1. Accounting rules need to be simplified. "The accounting scandals that our nation and the world have now mostly weathered were made possible in part by the sheer complexity of the rules." "The sheer accretion of detail has, in time, led to one of the system's weaknesses - its extreme complexity. Convolution is now reducing its usefulness."
2. The concentration of auditing services in the Big 4 "quadropoly" is bad for the securities markets. The SEC will try to do more to encourage the use of medium size and smaller firms that receive good inspection reports from the PCAOB.
3. The SEC will continue to push XBRL. "The interactive data that this initiative will create will lead to vast improvements in the quality, timeliness, and usefulness of information that investors get about the companies they're investing in."
A very interesting talk - one that seems to promise a high level of cooperation with the accounting profession.
The SEC web site has posted several presentations by members of the SEC accounting staff. These were all presentations at the AICPA SEC conference yesterday - the premiere financial reporting and auditing conference of the year. Scott Taub's (acting Chief Accountant) remarks are particularly interesting as they build on what Cox had to say in the areas of reducing complexity and making interactive data more available. Scott also spoke about fair value accounting and using professional judgment. His remarks are at: http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/spch120505sat.htm . . . there are about ten other presentations on more detailed accounting and auditing matters also available at the SEC web site.
FASB Chairman Bob Herz' speech earlier today at the AICPA SEC conference is available at: http://www.fasb.org/herz_aicpa_12-06-05.pdf
Bob builds on yesterday's comments by SEC Chairman Cox and argues that "continued progress on reducing complexity and improving the transparency and usefulness of reported financial information is imperative and consistent with our nation's longstanding commitment to the importance of high-quality financial reporting to the health and vitality of our capital markets and our economy." Bob calls for the FASB, SEC, PCAOB and all other interested parties to take "collective action to address these issues."
Jensen Comment --- Here's a related news item
SEC's Cox Wants Simpler Rules, More Competition for Accounting," by Judith Burns, The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2005; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113381176660114298.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
US-EU agreement on international cooperation --- http://www.iasplus.com/europe/0512useudialogue.pdf
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting standard setting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at
Photographs: What you see may be entirely false
In 2003, the Los Angeles Times ran a picture by staff photographer Brian Walski of a British soldier in Basra, Iraq, motioning to a man carrying a child. When an astute journalist at the Hartford Courant, one of many newspapers that reprinted the photo, noticed that it seemed to contain repeated images of the same person in the background, the veracity of the picture came into question. Walski admitted that he had used Adobe's Photoshop software to combine two separate photographs for the final image, and was promptly fired. The Walski episode not only led to a widespread discussion of ethics in photojournalism, but also demonstrated how easily a skilled user can employ programs like Photoshop to fool average viewers -- and sometimes even experts -- into taking a faked image for the truth. Because almost all digital photos, including those used as evidence in court, are vulnerable to this kind of tampering, computer scientists and others are busy advancing the state of the art in digital forensics.
Kate Greene, "Photo Chop Shop Digital forensics can detect misleading cut-and-paste jobs and match a photograph to an individual camera's 'fingerprint.'," MIT's Technology Review, December 6, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com//wtr_15966,1,p1.html?trk=nl
Louis Althusser and a Play Called The Caïman
At Althusser’s funeral in 1990, Jacques Derrida recalled how, “beginning in 1952 ... the caïman received in his office the young student I then was.” One of the biographers of Michel Foucault (another of his pupils) describes Althusser as an aloof and mysterious figure, but also one known for his gentleness and tact. When a student turned in an essay, Althusser wrote his comments on a separate sheet of paper — feeling that there would be something humiliating about defacing the original with his criticisms.
Scott McLemee, "Thinking at the Limits," Inside Higher Ed, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/12/07/mclemee
Explosive Growth in For-Profit College Education
Adapted from Time Magazine, December 5, 2005, Page 29
What are the estimated revenues generated in 2005 by for-profit
Hint: Revenues are up 71% from 2001.
What is the percentage of U.S. undergraduate and graduate students
attending for-profit schools?
Hint: Enrollments in for-profits schools are increasing a four times the rate of increase for traditional colleges
$17.6 billion and 9%
Following Blackboard's agreement to buy WebCT, we have Adobe buying Macromedia
"Adobe Completes Acquisition of Macromedia" --- http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200512/120505Bundles.html
All the Internet (a classified index) --- http://www.alltheinternet.com/
Bob Jensen's search helpers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm
How to get rid of love handles --- http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/106/108199.htm
Certification Examinations Serve Two Purposes:
One is to screen for quality and the other is to put up a barrier to entry to keep a profession from being flooded
The California test (BAR exam for
lawyers), by all accounts, is tough. It lasts three
days, as compared with two or 2½-day exams in most states. Only one state --
Delaware -- has a higher minimum passing score. According to the National
Conference of Bar Examiners, just 44% of those taking the California bar in
2004 passed the exam, the lowest percentage in the country, versus a
national average of 64% . . . Critics say the test is capricious, unreliable
and a poor measure of future lawyering skills. Some also complain that
California's system serves to protect the state's lawyers by excluding
competition from out-of-state attorneys. There has been some loosening of
the rules. California adopted rules last year permitting certain classes of
lawyers to practice in the state without having to take the bar.
"Raising the Bar: Even Top Lawyers Fail California Exam," by James Bandler and Nathan Koppel, December 5, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113374619258513723.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Unlike the BAR exam, the CPA examination is a national examination with uniform grading standards for all 50 states, even though other licensure requirements vary from state to state. Also the CPA examination allows students to pass part of the exam while allowing them to retake other parts on future examinations. Recently the CPA examination became a computerized examination (will both objective and essay/problem components). This may change performance scores somewhat relative to the data presented below.
You can read the following at http://www.cpaexcel.com/candidates/performance.html
National Average Pass Rates
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) publishes an Annual Report Entitled "Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination." Annual data since 1998 typically showed that, for each exam held since that year:
- Only about 12% of all candidates passed all 4 exam parts
- 58% of first time candidates did not pass any exam part
- 46% of repeat candidates did not pass any exam part
Student Pass Rates at Top Colleges, per NASBA, May 2004 Edition:
- Top 10 colleges, students without advanced degrees 40.78% average
- Top 10 colleges, students with advanced degrees 65.53% average
The NASBA Web site is at http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/?Open
Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm
Trends in Accountancy Doctoral Programs
First I would like to congratulate Bentley. Bentley is a very fine college with a unique mission in business studies.
In the Hasselback Directory the latest accountancy doctoral program to start up seems to be SUNY-Binghamton in 1999. The University Texas at San Antonio started one up in accounting around 2003 and will soon be graduating its first students. Are there any other new doctoral programs in accounting since 1999?
I do know that American, Lehigh, Santa Clara, and Rice dropped their doctoral programs and that many of the large mills such as Illinois and Texas have greatly cut back on the numbers of doctoral students graduating in accounting. Minnesota is listed in the Hasselback Directory as not having any doctoral graduates since 1994. Columbia and Penn State list all zeros since 1997 and 1999 respectively. Tulane also seems to have dropped out of this business in 1999. Georgia Tech has all zeros since 1995. Mississippi and Pittsburgh list all zeros since 2001. UCLA’s last graduate is listed for 1997. MIT has only graduated two students since 1998.
Has anybody conducted a more formal and current study of changing trends in accounting doctoral programs and enrollments?
It would seem that one of the factors leading to our present shortage of doctoral graduates is the decline in both programs and enrollments in programs that are, in some cases, barely hanging on.
December 5, 2005 reply from Amy Dunbar [Amy.Dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]
Dave Weber responded to my forward of your email to our dept:
"I don't think the Hasselback is very accurate about recent graduates. I know, for example, that Penn State has had a few graduates over the time they're listed at zero (not to mention that they are expecting 6 on the market this year - not exactly a shortage at PSU!)
Also, I believe Emory has recently started a PhD program in accounting."
December 5, 2005 reply from Jim McKinney [jim@MCKINNEYCPA.COM]
Morgan State University will be graduating its first graduates this year, I believe.
Farewell, Peter Drucker: A Tribute to an Intellectual Giant, Knowledge@Wharton, University of Pennsylvania --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1326
December 2, 2005 message from Carolyn Kotlas [firstname.lastname@example.org]
WORLD DIGITAL LIBRARY INITIATIVE ANNOUNCED
The U.S. Library of Congress, in partnership with Google, announced a plan to begin building a World Digital Library (WDL) for use by other libraries around the globe. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said that the WDL "would bring together online 'rare and unique cultural materials held in U.S. and Western repositories with those of other great cultures such as those that lie beyond Europe and involve more than 1 billion people: Chinese East Asia, Indian South Asia and the worlds of Islam stretching from Indonesia through Central and West Asia to Africa.'" For more details about the World Digital Library go to http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-250.html
Also of interest:
"What Is a Digital Library Anymore, Anyway? Beyond Search and Access in the NSDL" by Carl Lagozei, Dean B. Kraffti, Sandy Payettei,
Susan Jesurogaii D-LIB MAGAZINE, vol. 11, no. 11, November 2005 Volume 11 Number 11 http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november05/lagoze/11lagoze.html
Google Gives $3 Million to Library of Congress for Digital Library ---
GOOGLE SCHOLAR: ONE YEAR LATER
Google Scholar was launched a year ago this month as an aid to searching for scholarly literature located on the Web. Now that scholars have had time to put the service to a test, some are beginning to point out critical deficiencies and pitfalls. Criticisms include:
-- it's a single search tool, and no single search tool searches the entire bibliographic universe
-- it does not offer full disclosure about content (what is and is not included) in the database
-- current research appears late in the database
-- indexing is incomplete
-- it does not provide equal coverage of all subject areas
Peter Jacso provides in-depth evaluation of Google Scholar in "As We May Search -- Comparison of Major Features of the Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar Citation-Based and Citation-Enhanced Databases" (CURRENT SCIENCE, v. 89, no. 10, November 25, 2005, pp. 1537-47). His article is available online at http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/nov102005/1537.pdf
Librarian Joe Buenker's webpage, "Google Scholar's Impact on Libraries," includes a bibliography of critiques of Google Scholar at http://www.west.asu.edu/jbuenke/librarianship/google-scholar.html
Google Scholar is available at http://scholar.google.com/
The article "Recommended Readings on the Top-Ten IT Issues" (EDUCAUSE REVIEW, vol. 40, no. 6, November/December 2005, pp. 114–15) provides a list of recommended readings on information technology issues identified by the 2005 EDUCAUSE Current Issues Survey. The article is available at http://www.educause.edu/apps/er/erm05/erm0566.asp . The complete survey and a longer version of the reading list are available at http://www.educause.edu/2005SurveyResources/6323 .
EDUCAUSE Review [ISSN 1527-6619], a bimonthly print magazine that explores developments in information technology and education, is published by EDUCAUSE ( http://www.educause.edu/ ). Articles from current and back issues of EDUCAUSE Review are available on the Web at http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/ .
"Why People Don't Read Online and What to do About It" by Michelle Cameron UBIQUITY, vol. 6, issue 40, November 2-8, 2005 http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/views/v6i40_cameron.html
In this brief essay, Cameron provides online writers some commonsense tips to improve the likelihood that people will read their Webpages.
The Best Companies to Buy From: Who offers reliable products and
As with previous surveys, lots of readers gave us an earful about hard-to-understand tech reps. Dell customer Todd Garlick says that the few times he has phoned Dell for help with his son's Inspiron 1150 laptop, the support reps were "friendly and knowledgeable" but hard to communicate with. "I've had fouled-up orders on replacement parts. I've had to call back two or three times because I couldn't understand what the reps were saying," says Garlick, a dental technician in Boise, Idaho. "I probably won't buy a Dell again" because of such problems, he adds. The accent issue is a sensitive topic for vendors, who invariably offer vague, carefully worded statements about how they're training tech reps to communicate better with callers. Some companies have responded by returning support centers to North America. For instance, Gateway, which bought eMachines in 2004, decided last year to use only U.S.-based support for many of its products, including desktops and notebooks. Toshiba reports that 80 percent of its North American support calls are handled by its Toronto center.
"Reliability and Service: The Best Companies to Buy From Who offers reliable products and hassle-free service? We polled 35,000 PC World readers about their PCs, printers, cameras, and other hardware, and learned that good help can be hard to find," PC World via The Washington Post, December 2, 2005 ---
I wish the ACLU had to take a NY subway: Why are subways
different from airplanes?
The New York branch of the once-venerable civil rights organization filed a lawsuit last summer charging that random police searches of passengers' bags were an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. The transit system instituted the searches shortly after the deadly terrorist bombings of London's underground in July. Passengers have the right to refuse inspection and leave the transit system.
"Derailing the ACLU Train," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2005; Page A20 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113374096736413640.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
Online Applications To College Surge
Online college applications are surging, stoked by an array of tactics schools have adopted to nudge applicants away from traditional paper filings. The development started as an effort by colleges to cut costs and make life simpler for admissions officers. Now it has turned into a way for families to save money: In a bid to encourage more applicants to apply online, fees are often waived for electronic applications. But for many applicants, online filing has added more anxiety, and work, to what is already a stressful time.
Robert Tomsho, "Online Applications To College Surge: Some Schools Waive Fees for Electronic Filers, But the Process Adds Anxiety for Many Students," The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2005; Page D1--- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113331711186209812.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Sickening: Congressman's Betrayal of Troops Called Greatest Sin
Rep. Randy Cunningham's dramatic fall from power represents more than just a historic case of personal corruption unprecedented in the long history of the Congress. It is also betrayal on a grand scale. Cunningham betrayed his friends, his constituents, his colleagues and, certainly most important, the U.S. combat troops he so loudly championed. By steering contracts vital to the Iraq war effort to cronies, he may have put those troops at greater risk by judging contracts more for what they would do for him than for the military. That - even more than his manifest dishonesty, personal bullying of opponents and slight legislative record - may turn out to be the most shameful legacy of the now-disgraced Republican. "This is nauseating at so many levels," said Norm Ornstein, a veteran congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. What Cunningham, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, did, said Ornstein, "is worse than just taking money. It is taking money and undermining everything he presumably stood for." In the end, Cunningham was a portrait of contradictions and inconsistencies. The ever-macho tough guy, he took bribes to buy two 19th-century commodes, or chests of drawers. The family man, he liked to invite women to his yacht. There, two women told Copley News Service, he would change into pajama bottoms and a turtleneck sweater to entertain them with chilled champagne by the light of a lava lamp.
"Congressman's Betrayal Of Troops Called Greatest Sin," by George E. Condon Jr., San Diego Union-Tribune, December 1, 2005 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1533271/posts
Quarterback ranking controversies are not much different than college
According to the National Football League's Byzantine system for rating quarterbacks, Eli is only the 18th-best passer in the league, but a closer look reveals that he has reached the top rung of pro quarterbacks and is on the verge of superstardom. The proof is in the bottom line: The Giants are first in the National Football Conference in points scored and are third in the entire league, behind only the San Diego Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts, whose quarterback is the more celebrated Manning, Eli's older brother Peyton. The NFL's passer rating formula gives too much weight to pass-completion percentage, which most analysts now realize is a minor statistic. As football stats guru Bud Goode once asked me, "Would you rather complete two of three passes for nine yards or one of three for 10?" Eli's pass completion after 11 games is just 52.5%, the lowest in the NFC, and one of the lowest among starting quarterbacks in the entire league. But Eli has passed for 2,664 yards, second in the NFC only to future Hall of Famer Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers, and Mr. Manning has more touchdown passes than Mr. Favre (20 to 19) and substantially fewer interceptions (10 to 19). In fact, Eli currently has more touchdown passes than any quarterback in his conference.
Allen Barra, "The Family Business Will quarterback brothers face off in the Super Bowl?" The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110007614
Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in college rankings are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm
"Don't Shred on Me: The U.N. must not be allowed to destroy the Volcker investigation's archives," by Claudia Rosett, The Wall Street Journal, Novembe4r 30, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/?id=110007613
Paul Volcker's findings on Oil for Food have been widely received as the final word on the United Nations relief program for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Far from it--as Mr. Volcker himself has admitted. In reporting that Saddam, along with his smuggling and oil graft, diverted $1.8 billion in kickbacks from U.N.-approved relief contracts under the program, Mr. Volcker underestimates, quite probably by billions, the amount the U.N. allowed Saddam Hussein and many of his favored business partners to graft out of Oil for Food deals for goods such as oil parts, milk, laundry soap and baby food. In low-balling the total, Mr. Volcker understates the negligence of the U.N., and overlooks some of the most potentially virulent links in Oil for Food.
The most urgent implication of Mr. Volcker's incomplete findings is that his huge and expensively assembled archives must be preserved intact well beyond the Dec. 31 deadline by which Mr. Volcker now plans to start disposing of them. Above all, they must not be handed back to the U.N., where too much related to the corrupt Oil for Food program has already vanished--including, to a fascinating extent, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's own powers of recollection. The former head of the program, Benon Sevan, alleged to have taken bribes from Saddam, was allowed to skip town, U.N. pension in hand. Mr. Annan is even now resurrecting, via a new $4 million U.N. program called the Alliance of Civilizations, the career of his former chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, who officially retired earlier this year after it came to light that during Mr. Volcker's investigation Mr. Riza had overseen the shredding of three years' worth of documents that might have better illuminated the oil-for-fraud shenanigans of the U.N.'s executive 38th floor.
As it happens, Rep. Henry Hyde, who has led the main investigation into Oil for Food in the House, introduced a bill on Nov. 17 urging that the U.S. withhold $100 million from its U.N. dues for each of the next four fiscal years, or until the secretary of state certifies to Congress that the Volcker investigation's archives have been transferred, intact and uncensored by the U.N., "to an entity other than the [Volcker] Committee or the United Nations"--and made available for public inspection, at the very least by law-enforcement authorities.
Continued in article
Paris: Capital of the 19th Century (History) --- http://dl.lib.brown.edu/paris/index.html
Chartres: Cathedral of Notre-Dame --- http://images.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/i/image/image-idx?c=chartres&page=index
"Lawsuit Accuses AOL of Illegal Billing," The New York Times, December 2, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/technology/AP-AOL-Lawsuit.html
A lawsuit seeking to potentially cover hundreds of thousands of America Online Inc. subscribers accuses the Time Warner Inc. unit of illegally billing customers by creating secondary accounts for them without their consent.
The lawsuit, filed last month in St. Clair County Circuit Court on behalf of 10 AOL customers in six states, claims the company confused and deceived customers about the charges, stalled them from canceling unauthorized accounts and refused to return questioned fees.
''AOL exploits its subscribers' confidential billing information to unlawfully generate additional revenue by charging subscribers for additional membership accounts that they neither order nor request,'' the lawsuit alleges, calling the scheme ''common, uniform and continuing.''
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Humanities in Business
A huge real-world problem for a moral philosopher (who's strong on the Greeks and weak in modern finance)
"Oil-Rich Norway Hires Philosopher As Moral Compass: State Seeks Ethics Lesson On Investing Its Bonanza; Mr. Syse Reads Hobbes," by Andrew Higgins, The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113340298608010935.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Henrik Syse, a professional philosopher, says he gets ribbed by his family that "five of my 10 best friends are dead Greeks." But this fall he put aside writing a book on Plato to ponder a more practical puzzle: what to do with around $190 billion?
Mr. Syse started work in September as the in-house ethicist for the Norwegian government's Petroleum Fund, one of the world's largest pools of investment capital. "It has been a steep learning curve," says the 39-year-old academic. "I'm a philosopher. I'm not a banker."
With a new office in the Norwegian Central Bank, he gets paid to ruminate on how, at a time of surging energy prices, the world's third-biggest oil exporter can best match profit and principle. Investment, he says, "is teeming with ethical issues." He has begun trying to figure out how the Petroleum Fund, the custodian of Norway's oil earnings, can use its investments to get companies to behave more ethically.
Mr. Syse's unorthodox career path reflects Norway's unusual position among major oil-exporting countries, all of which now wrestle with how to wisely deploy their massive windfall. Most are either poor, autocratic, corrupt or cursed by an assortment of these and other ills. Norway, by contrast, is prosperous, democratic and squeaky clean.
The money managers of other petro-states "can run around in the shiniest suits and biggest limos," says Mr. Syse, but this is "not our profile." He takes the tram to work and wears socks stitched with the cartoon dog Snoopy.
Home to the Nobel Peace Prize and a plethora of human rights and peace groups, this nation of just 4.6 million has long used its reputation for moral rectitude to wield influence around the globe out of proportion to its size.
The Petroleum Fund was set up to husband Norway's oil wealth for future generations. This spring, Knut Kjaer, who oversees the fund, and Yngve Slyngstad, its head of equities, approached Mr. Syse about a job. Mr. Syse figured the offer must be a joke or a misunderstanding. "Do you know who you are talking to?" he recalls responding. "If I had a stock and bond before me, I wouldn't know the difference."
Mr. Kjaer assured him the fund had enough financial experts. It needed a moral philosopher, he explained, to help implement a new set of "ethical guidelines" introduced by the Finance Ministry late last year. Offered nearly double his academic salary, Mr. Syse decided to take the job.
With degrees in philosophy from the University of Oslo and Boston College, Mr. Syse knows plenty about ethics. His last book, "Paths to a Good Life -- Philosophical Reflections on Everyday Ethics," applies the theories of great thinkers to ordinary problems, such as whether parents should sometimes lie to their children.
He's on shakier ground with high finance. Sometimes stumped by the jargon bandied about by his new colleagues, he keeps a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Business near his desk "so I can run back and look something up if I don't understand." His four-person staff helps guide him like "a blind man's dog," he says, and he sometimes consults a treatise by the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who warned that unrestrained desires such as greed render life "poor, nasty, brutish and short."
Continued in article
Confusing (really bad) accounting in any case
"Windfall Accounting Tax," The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2005; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113331721189409814.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
The last time Congress imposed a form of the windfall tax was the final gloomy days of Jimmy Carter, and the result was: a substantial reduction in domestic oil production (about 5%), thus raising the price of gas at the pump; and a 10% increase in U.S. reliance on foreign oil. A windfall profits tax is the ultimate act of economic masochism because it taxes only domestic production, while imports and foreign oil subsidiaries bear almost none of the cost.
But wait, this time it's worse. The current Senate proposal would actually require oil companies with daily production of 500,000 barrels or more to disregard generally accepted accounting principles, by revaluing their oil inventories. GAAP accounting (and current tax law) allows oil firms to value barrels of oil sold at what it costs to replace that barrel.
The Senate bill would require the companies to revalue their inventories by $18.75 a barrel -- an arbitrary number if there ever was one. In effect, this means that Congress is creating the illusion of higher oil profits, and thus raising the tax liability of oil companies by an estimated $5 billion next year. This would be on top of the 35% tax rate they already pay on their actual profits.
When Andy Fastow tried to create phony profits at Enron, he got 10 years in the slammer. Now Senators want to create phony corporate profits, so they can grab them to spend. Where's Eliot Spitzer when you really need him? What's even more reprehensible about this revenue grab is its retroactive nature. In a sense this is less a tax than it is an ex post facto confiscation of private property.
Because this is a one-time inventory adjustment for taxes paid in 2006, supporters claim the tax will be no disincentive to future production or reserves. Try that one again. If oil companies believe that their profits will be sliced any time there is a spike in oil prices, their incentive to hold reserves in anticipation of higher future prices is vastly diminished. It is precisely when supplies are curtailed and prices are high that we want oil companies to have plentiful reserves. It was the profit motive, so maligned on Capitol Hill, that helped ensure that the "oil crisis" that followed Katrina's blow to Gulf refineries was surprisingly mild and short lived.
Both Republicans and Democrats also say that what troubles them is that the oil companies aren't investing enough of their profits in new refineries, or new oil exploration and production in the U.S. Hello? Explore where? Even with $60 oil and $12 natural gas, Congress refuses to open more of Alaska or the Outer Continental Shelf to new drilling. The Senate recently rejected a House-passed measure that would reduce regulatory hurdles to building new refineries. The oil companies aren't investing more in domestic refineries and exploration for one simple reason: Congress won't let them.
Continued in article
No democracy in the corporate world
In the typical corporate election of directors, shareholders have two ineffectual choices -- vote for the company's nominees, or withhold their votes for one or more of those nominees (abstaining or failing to vote does not constitute withholding a vote). In a number of recent corporate elections, one company nominee did not receive a majority of votes cast because so many shareholders withheld their votes. Nevertheless, that nominee was seated as a company director, and was renominated by the company in the next election. This apparent disregard of shareholder sentiment is based on both legal norms and practical realities. Corporate elections are governed by state laws, which generally do not require a majority vote to elect directors (unless mandated by a corporate bylaw). These state laws recognize the reality of most corporate elections -- there are no competing candidates to replace a company director who does not receive a majority of votes cast. Indeed, under majority rule, a company could be left with no directors if enough shareholders withheld their votes for all company nominees.
Robert C. Pozen, "Democracy By Proxy," The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2005; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113332038344909872.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
"Editor's Note: Why Wikis Won't Go Away," by Tom Smith, InformationWeek Newsletter, December 6, 2005
Wiki is an Internet technology platform that addresses one of the key objectives of many Web sites: to receive and make use of the valuable contributions that readers have to make to their products. They may also be viewed as a modern-day version of the old CompuServe forums that IT professionals visited in search of solutions to specific technical problems: a place where readers can share and benefit from each others' knowledge. One huge value of wikis: they aggregate the collective knowledge of a group of people and professionals since no one source can provide all the information you need.
But there are clear downsides that anyone analyzing wikis needs to be aware of, and in recent days we've gotten yet another reminder of them: As with many "open" technologies on the Net, wikis can bring out the worst in some people who have malicious intent. In this case, John Seigenthaler--who was assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the 1960s--was incorrectly identified on Wikipedia as having been viewed as potentially involved in the assassinations of John F. and Robert Kennedy. In his own words, Seigenthaler provided a wrenching account of the pain this caused him. This troubling incident followed a high-profile wiki experiment at the Los Angeles Times that was mostly viewed as a failure. Other complaints about wikis are surfacing. The good news: Wikipedia has just announced tighter rules that prohibit new submissions from anonymous contributors.
Also see "Wikipedia Tightens the Reins ," Wired News, December 5, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,69759,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_6
College Newspapers Grow Up: They have the ads, the readers—and budgets to match --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10216907/site/newsweek/from/ET/
In school from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.?
The British government is proposing a new program that would extend every school day with a mix of clubs, courses, and childcare facilities. For some children, an "extended schooling" day could stretch from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The idea is not so much childcare as to give children a chance to try out a wider range of disciplines and activities. Is this an idea that American schools should consider?
techLearning News, December 6, 2005
Jensen Comment: When I went to school in rural Iowa, the hours were from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. followed by practice for football, basketball, baseball, etc. Drama rehearsals were at night.
Some Students are Challenging Ward Churchill
A small group of students at the University of Colorado confronted Ward Churchill outside his classroom Wednesday about his essay on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. "Who do you think deserved to die?" asked Ian VanBuskirk, 23, chairman of the College Republicans. "Why don't you circle the names?" he said as he tried to hand Churchill a marker while pointing to a large banner carried by other students that listed the names of all the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Churchill, who was surrounded by students, as he made his way to his basement...
Tillie Fong, "Challenging Churchill: College Republicans stage confrontation outside class," Rocky Mountain News, December 1, 2005 --- http://www.insidedenver.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4279691,00.html
Bob Jensen's threads on Ward Churchill are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisyChurchill.htm
Michael Moore denies owning Halliburton!
But author who made charge answers that his tax returns don't lie
In a nationally televised speech, filmmaker Michael Moore told a college audience he absolutely does not own any Halliburton stock – or any other stock for that matter – a charge leveled at him by author Peter Schweizer in the best-seller book "Do As I Say (Not As I Do)." There's just one problem with that denial, says Schweizer. He's got the tax returns of Moore's non-profit foundation to prove it – a non-profit foundation for which there are only two officers, Moore and his wife.
"Michael Moore denies owning Halliburton! But author who made charge answers tax returns don't lie," World Net Daily, December 1, 2005 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47662
In Kansas, a confessed serial killer makes reference to Factor X
Now, just as The Times was running its profile of the last Angry Young Man, the sentencing hearing for Dennis Rader, the confessed BTK killer, was underway in Kansas. News accounts mentioned, usually in passing, his claims that the striking of sadistic murders he committed over the years were the result of something he called “Factor X.” He did not elaborate on the nature of Factor X, though reporters often did often note that the killer saw himself as demonically possessed. (He also referred to having been dropped on his head as a child, which may have been one of Rader’s cold-blooded little jokes. But in a television interview, Rader indicated that Factor X, while mysterious, was also something in his control. “I used it,” he said. A jolting remark — at least to anyone familiar with Colin Wilson’s work. Over the years, Wilson has developed a whole battery of concepts (or at least of neologisms) to spell out his hunch that the Outsider has access to levels of consciousness not available to more conformist souls. Something he dubbed “Faculty X” has long been central to Wilson’s improvised psychological theories, as well as to his fiction. (The Philosopher’s Stone, which Oates liked so much, is all about Faculty X.)
Scott McLemee, "A Killing Concept," Inside Higher Ed, December 1, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/12/01/mclemee
Also see http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/cwbib.html
"Explaining Different Size Tires: Why Some Vehicles Have Larger Rear Wheels," The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2005; Page D8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113322839580008672.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Q: I recently purchased a Cadillac SRX and was surprised to find different size front and back tires. What is the reasoning behind this and could replacement tires be the same size without compromising safety and handling? -- T. Eggleston Solon, Ohio
A: Since the SRX and other performance-oriented vehicles are, in many ways, designed around their tires, you should stick with the manufacturer's recommended tire sizes. It is increasingly common for cars and even SUVs to have larger, wider wheels on the rear than on the front, especially when above-average handling is among the vehicle's selling points.
Car makers say that using different or "split" tire sizes helps them tune vehicles for better-balanced and more predictable handling. Cadillac says the split tire arrangements on the SRX and some of its other cars are meant "to always maintain the proper vehicle understeer gradient so the vehicle doesn't do more than you ask in a turn."
"In Belushi widow's book, Woodward is no hero," New York Daily News, November 30, 2005 --- http://www.nydailynews.com/news/gossip/story/370290p-314989c.html
After the "SNL" (NBC's Saturday Night Live) player OD'd, Judy Belushi Pisano encouraged all of his pals to talk to Woodward, who, like John, had grown up in Wheaton, Ill.
She now tells us: "Woodward was the wrong guy [to write that book]. I was foolish."
So she and Tanner Colby have assembled "Belushi: A Biography," a just-published collection of affectionate memories of John — and unaffectionate ones of Woodward.
"It was my first experience of getting tricked by a journalist," says Belushi's "Continental Divide" co-star Blair Brown. "I really felt betrayed, and it made me question all of his other work."
Writer Mitch Glazer recalls that all Woodward wanted to hear about was Belushi's drug use. "Whenever I started telling him the good things about John, he would literally put down his pen and wait for me to finish," says Glazer.
"'Wired' has so many things wrong," says "Blues Brothers" director John Landis, who told Woodward how he and Belushi "sobbed and huggged" after he flushed a mound of Belushi's coke down the toilet. "That book has me giving John some big roundhouse, John Wayne punch in the face, and it's just not true."
Continued in article
Forwarded by Barb Hessel
Read the directions carefully ahead of time as the test is in Japanese. It took some thinking but I did get it. Barb
Ok..... This is a tough one. This is an IQ tester. The object of the game is to get everyone across the river. This is a test some Japanese applicants have to take when applying for a job in Japan. The instructions are listed below. After reading, click on the link. Enjoy!
Click on link, and then click on the big blue circle. Use the rules below. This is going to do your head in, but it can be done. Apparently this is an IQ test given to job applicants in Japan: "Everybody has to cross the river". The following rules apply: Only 2 persons on the raft at a time The father can not stay with any of the daughters, without their mother's presence The mother can not stay with any of the sons, without their father's presence The thief (striped shirt) can not stay with any family member, if The Policeman is not there Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft
To start click on the big blue circle on the right. To move the people click on them. To move the raft click on the pole on the opposite side of the river.
Forwarded by Dr. B.
Maxine on "Driver Safety"
"I can't use the cell phone in the car. I have to keep my hands free for making gestures.".......
Maxine on "Housework"
"I do my housework in the nude. It gives me an incentive to clean the mirrors as quickly as possible."
Maxine on "Lawn Care"
"The key to a nice-looking lawn is a good mower. I recommend one who is muscular and shirtless."
Maxine on "The Perfect Man"
"All I'm looking for is a guy who'll do what I want, when I want, for as long as I want, and then go away. Or wait nearby, like a Dust Buster, charged up and ready when needed."
Maxine on "Technology Revolution"
"My idea of rebooting is kicking somebody in the butt twice."
Maxine on "Aging"
"Take every birthday with a grain of salt. This works much better if the salt accompanies a Margarita."
Maxine on "Flag Burning"
"If you must burn the flag, please wrap yourself in it first."
Forwarded by Paula
To get you in the Christmas spirit, Jacquie Lawson has designed another great card. There's sound also; however, it starts low and works up, so be aware. Click on the link below and enjoy !
Click here: Santa's Jigsaw - animated Flash ecard by Jacquie Lawson
Forwarded by Barb Hessel
Tis the season for forwarded e-mail Christmas cards.
Silent Night --- http://126.96.36.199/
Santa Claus is Coming to? --- http://www.riversongs.com/flas1/train.html