Tidbits on December 09, 2005
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

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 http://www.searchedu.com/.

I really like the Digital Duo show that appears weekly once again on PBS.  I found that you can bring up prior shows (video) on your computer by going to http://www.pcworld.com/digitalduo/index/0,00.asp

Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/

25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) --- http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp 

Stay up on the latest and the oldest hoaxes --- http://www.snopes.com/

Handy links to product instruction sheets --- http://www.instructionsheets.com/

Free Video

Yahoo Video Finder --- http://www.yahoo.com/
First click on the Video Tab at
Then enter a term or phrase in the search box for the type of video you are seeking

Also see other video search alternatives at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm#VideoSearch

Free music downloads

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Bob Jensen's links to Christmas and Other Seasonal Music --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Holiday

Over The Rhine radio (this site has some neat continuous-play technology) --- http://www.overtherhine.com/home.html
(This is a good site for continuous play music online with no commercials)
Click on the small (right arrow) Play button

From NPR
John Randall's country music --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5043115
(Scroll down for the samples.)

A nice XMAS card to the melody of Silent Night --- http://holidays.blastcomm.com/

Hope Has Place --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/pity.htm
For enjoyable continuous play Enya snippets, go to http://snipurl.com/EnyaSamples

Yahoo's links to Music Entertainment --- http://dir.yahoo.com/Entertainment/Music/
Yahoo Music Finder --- http://dir.yahoo.com/Entertainment/Music/Reference/


China the Beautiful --- http://www.chinapage.com/china.html
Also see http://www.terragalleria.com/asia/china/leshan/picture.chin5030.html

Cassini images reveal spectacular evidence of an active moon ---

Ansel Adams --- http://www.anseladams.com/

Distant Horizons --- http://www.distanthorizons.ca/     Also see http://www.lanting.com/

Literary Locales (More than 1,000 picture links to places that figure in the lives and writings of famous authors) --- http://www2.sjsu.edu/depts/english/places.htm

Loretta Lux pictures of children --- http://www.lorettalux.de/

Limited Exposure in Nature --- http://limitedexposure.net/index.php/weblog/watchtower_view/

Electronic Literature

Bob Jensen's new document with electronic literature (books, poems, short stories, journals, etc.) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

The Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project --- http://www.mainlesson.com/main/displayfeature.php

The Writer's Almanac (Garisson Keillor) --- http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/
This link includes audio

Science Fiction --- http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/jsp/db/directory.jsp?categoryId=13&categoryName=top%2FScience%20Fiction

Free eBooks and AudioBooks for Mobile Computers --- http://tuxmobil.org/ebook.html

New York Times Online Book Reviews --- http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/

Love Poems --- http://www.love-poems.me.uk/

Poem of Quotes --- http://www.poemofquotes.com/percybyssheshelley/a-lament.php

Lyric Line Personal Poetry Reading --- http://www.lyrikline.org/

HISTORY OF HAIKU --- http://www.big.or.jp/~loupe/links/ehisto/ebasho.shtml

The Haiku Hut --- http://www.haikuhut.com/

STEAL THIS BOOK By Abbie Hoffman --- http://www.instinct.org/texts/steal_this_book/

California Homicides in 2004, 2,394; Iraq 2124 since 2003 --- http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/candd/cd04/Preface.pdf
Source:  Free Republic, December 3, 2005

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong.
Charles Wadsworth as quoted in a recent email message from Patricia Doherty

Law enforcement officials aren't trained to shoot to kill; they're trained to shoot to prevent the action from taking place. We're not trained to precision-shoot in the knee or in the arm or in the finger to prevent something from taking place. Your accuracy goes down, the potential for a stray bullet or a missed shot hitting a bystander goes up tremendously.
Air Marshall Tony Kuklinski when responding to Katie Couric's question regarding why the Air Marshall killed the suspected bomber on an American Airline flight rather than just shoot the suspected bomb out of the bomber's hands.
NewsBusters, December 8, 2005

Howard Dean sends a message to the U.S. military
Dean told San Antonio, Texas, radio station WOAI that "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." He predicted the Democratic Party would come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all U.S. forces within two years.
Reuters, Yahoo News, December 6, 2005 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051206/pl_nm/iraq_bush_dc_1

Somebody appears to by lying or maybe its just a matter of timing differences
In fact, no prominent Democratic politician has proposed pulling out of Iraq immediately.
"Hume, backed by Liasson, falsely claimed that Democrats want to "pull out now" from Iraq," MediaMatters, December 4, 2005 and reported by NPR --- http://mediamatters.org/items/200512060001

Could the Japanese be left all alone to save Iraq?
Japan's Cabinet on Thursday approved the extension of the country's troop deployment in Iraq for one year.
Carl Freire, "Japan to Extend Military Mission to Iraq," Guardian, December 8, 2005 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5465507,00.html

Is the U.S. military "broken and worn out?"
Speaking to a group in his district in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Murtha said that troops will leave Iraq in the next year because the Army is "broken, worn out and living hand to mouth." Such a vote of confidence! So not only does Murtha want to admit defeat and leave the battlefield, now he wants to say that the troops will be leaving because they aren't up to the task. If you read between the lines, Congressman Al-Murtha is saying the war is lost because the troops have failed.
Neal Boortz --- http://boortz.com/nuze/index.html

Should the U.S. military cut and run?
A destructionist without a realistic strategy for reconstruction
The United States has lost the war in Iraq, and that's a good thing . . . Most Iraqis are glad Hussein is gone, and most want the United States gone. When we admit defeat and pull out — not if, but when — the fate of Iraqis depends in part on whether the United States (1) makes good on legal and moral obligations to pay reparations, and (2) allows international institutions to aid in creating a truly sovereign Iraq.
Robert W. Jensen, Professor of Journalism, University of Texas --- http://www.hindu.com/mag/2004/12/19/stories/2004121900170200.htm

Questions Professor W. does not address in his zeal to bring down the U.S. "Empire": 

If a whipped-dog U.S. military becomes out of the picture, what all-powerful "international institution" will prevent the tribes of Iraq from covering the ground with their own blood in a state of anarchy? 

Does he think these tribes are waiting for a U.N. resolution to end their disputes and fears?  Does he think U.N. "peace keepers" aren't refusing to set foot in Iraq, Somalia, or any other really dangerous place where anarchy reins?

Who will prevent the Taliban from retaking Afghanistan with renewed vigor to make women uneducated slaves?

Why should the wildfires of Jihad cease because the U.S. army cut and ran?

Why won't successes of terrorist tactics in Iraq make Iraq a terrorism base intent on fanning the fires until the entire globe is awash in fear and evil? 

Who will prevent reinvigorated Islamic fundamentalists and a waning Israel from waging a WMD war if there is no "empire" to separate the two?

If the U.S. becomes impotent, why should the rest of the world suddenly stop all global wars?  Jihad by its own admission is a global war.

Why won't some other empire emerge from the ashes that is far less humane than the U.S. empire? 

The extreme left does seem to have abandoned any idea of creating 
a socialist utopia; today it is devoted solely to uncreative destruction
Opinion Journal, February 11, 2005 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisyEvilEmpire.htm

Here were some of the results: 63% of people in the news media thought the enterprise (Iraq War) would fail. So did 71% of people in the foreign affairs establishment and 71% in academic settings or think tanks. Interestingly, opinion leaders from the U.S. military are optimistic about Iraq by a margin of 64% to 32%. And so is the American public, by a margin of 56% to 37%. And the Iraqi people are also optimistic. I've seen this demonstrated repeatedly--in public opinion polls, in the turnout for the elections, and that tips to authorities from ordinary Iraqis have grown from 483 to 4,700 tips in a month.
Donald Rumsfeld, "Why aren't the media telling the whole story about Iraq?" The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007644

Thirdspace (The Site of Emerging Feminist Scholars) --- http://www.thirdspace.ca/
This site has both a peer reviewed journal and an online community of feminist scholars, including links and resources)

Nine Leading University Presidents Issue Statement on Gender Equity
The presidents of nine leading research universities on Tuesday released a joint statement pledging continued work to promote the advancement of women in academic positions. The statement said that “barriers still exist” that prevent progress for female academics, and pledged to change institutional policies, provide resources and to “promote a culture that supports family commitments” as part of the drive to help women.
Scott Jaschik, "9 University Presidents Issue Statement on Gender Equity," Inside Higher Ed, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/12/07/gender

Is Your Husband a Worse Problem Than Larry Summers?
In my recent article,
“Homeward Bound” (The American Prospect, December 2005), I propose that the low representation of women at the highest level of the American government and economy is due in substantial measure to a steady stream of educated women deciding to leave full-time work. Recent analysis of the opt-out revolution reveals that the only group of mothers not continuing to raise their work-force participation despite economic ups and downs is mothers with graduate and professional degrees. Their numbers are flat and have been for several years. Their decisions matter because their careers, if realized, would be influential. Their decisions are a mistake because they lead them to lesser lives, by most measures, and because these decisions hurt society. And their decision is not freely chosen, even if they “chose” it, as it is made in the context of an ideology that assigns childrearing and housekeeping to women, an ideology that, interviews reveal, they themselves accept.The solution will not come from employers, who have no motivation to change economically productive behaviors, nor from the government, firmly in the hands of conservatives, who believe in the ideology. Instead, I recommend that women start by refusing to play their gendered role, preparing themselves for lives of independent means, bargaining from this position of power with the men they sleep with, only looking for help to more distant sources as a last resort.
Linda Hirshman, "Is Your Husband a Worse Problem Than Larry Summers?" Inside Higher Ed, December 9, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/12/09/hirshman

Beware of E-mail Bearing Tax Refunds
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a consumer alert last week warning taxpayers of a “phishing” scam that attempts to trick e-mail recipients into disclosing personal and financial data. The scam uses e-mail messages, purportedly from the IRS, informing consumer of tax refunds and directing them to follow a link to a web site that requests personal information, such as Social Security Numbers and credit card information. The information collected is then used to steal the individual’s identity and financial assets.
"Beware of E-mail Bearing Tax Refunds," AccountingWeb, Decembeer 5, 2005 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101543

For your next trip via airplane, train, or bus
Google Transit Trip Planner --- http://www.google.com/transit

"Google Unveils Public Transit Mapping Service," by Antone Gonsalves, InformationWeek, December 8, 2005 --- http://www.internetweek.cmp.com/showArticle.jhtml?sssdmh=dm4.160284&articleId=174907393

Google Inc. on Thursday launched in beta a trip-planning service for people who prefer to take pubic transit rather than drive. The Google Transit Trip Planner, which is initially available only for the Portland, Ore, metro area, provides directions for public transportation from a starting location to a destination. Besides showing a road map of the route, the service provides transportation schedules and other information to help plot a step-by-step itinerary. In addition, the service compares the cost of the trip with the cost of driving.

Use of the service is similar to Google Local, a mapping and local search service that lets users find businesses and other locations in a city, and get driving directions. Locations and directions are shown over a roadmap or an aerial view of the area. The new transit service offers the same views.

Google Transit, which is currently a Google Labs product, has not been integrated with Google Local, because the company said it needed time to develop the product further. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., did not have any definite plans for which cities would be added or when.

Engineers in San Francisco, New York, and Zurich who use public transportation often started the project, the company said.

Bob Jensen's threads on mapping and trip planning are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm

Never have writers' block:  How to make millions writing by a formula

"Writer's Block:  One cliché follows another. Flat character succeeds flat character. Everything is predictable in No. 19 of Grafton's alphabetic series," by Alexander Theroux, The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2005; Page P15 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113356934392713014.html?mod=todays_us_pursuits

S Is for Silence, by Sue Grafton (Putnam, 374 pages)

In "S Is For Silence," Sue Grafton offers version No. 19 in her best-selling alphabetical series. She seems to be attempting to do for fiction what the illustrator Edward Gorey did for art in his memorable "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" (1962): "A is Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil assaulted by bears...." But she does not seem to be managing the task nearly so well. Yes, Grafton fans are legion. But are they wise?

The plot of "S" turns on the disappearance, 34 years before, of tarty Violet Sullivan, who in 1953 (for no reason that I can see, the book is set in 1987) put on her tarty finery, left for the Fourth of July fireworks and was never seen again.

In the small California town of Serena Station, it was said that she had run off with a lover or was murdered by her husband or perhaps even killed herself. Her daughter, Daisy, seven at the time, now 41 and plagued by the mystery, needs the help of Kinsey Millhone, Ms. Grafton's user-friendly private investigator, a 37-year-old divorcée who jogs three miles a day, drives a VW and slings clichés around like hash. We are given the usual group of droolies: Jake, Foley, Tom, Chet, Winston, Calvin and (yes) Hairl. So whodunit?

Since 1982, when Ms. Grafton wrote "A Is for Alibi," the plots have changed but not the mode -- the books follows a recipe of pedestrian sameness. Curiously, she claims for her new book, by way of a published "conversation," to have adopted a technique, new to her, of using narrative time-shifts from chapter to chapter. The narrative method is of course as old as the genre, and the genre without grace can be old indeed.

There is not a magic or an original sentence in the entire novel. Instead Ms. Grafton has created a brand: "mixture as before," in the parlance of Somerset Maugham, a phrase taken from the world of pharmaceuticalia. Ms. Grafton duplicates herself intentionally, like a druggist with a prescription to fill. As with John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell and even Stephen King, you know what you're going to get.

Andy Warhol did this kind of thing, too, with Marilyn, Mao and Campbell Soup cans. But when did readers become compulsivists? It would appear nowadays that if a writer does not repeat himself, finding sanctuary in the tried and (if you insist) true, he will never find a market. Formula becomes friend.

There is not one exceptional word in these pages, not one intriguing turn of phrase -- nothing, in Gerard Manley Hopkins's terms, "counter, original, spare, strange." But this is not a surprise, for Ms. Grafton's prose aims at standard recognition. It is as predictable as, well, the march of any abecedarium. "All you can do is give it your best shot." "The world's a big place." "Now and then someone slips through the cracks." "Sounds like you're in the thick of things." One cliché follows hard upon another. Flat character succeeds flat character. Everything is predictable here. But such is the way with brands. S isn't for silence. It's for sales.  

To make millions from your own writings do you're own publicity

"The Shorts List:  Amazon's selling stories and essays for 49 cents. Is anybody buying?" by Brendan I. Koerner, Slate, December 2, 2005 --- http://www.slate.com/id/2131368/

The wisdom of Harry S. Dent usually doesn't come cheap. The financial pundit's monthly newsletter, which features his ruminations on demographic trends and beat-the-Street strategies, costs $199 per year. That's a bargain compared to the $50,000 Dent charges for a two-hour keynote address.

Those steep price tags make Dent's Bubble After Bubble in the Ongoing Bubble Boom seem like quite the steal. The 38-page booklet, which predicts a stock-market comeback, can be purchased from Amazon.com as an HTML document, PDF file, or plain-text e-mail for a mere 49 cents, as part of the online bookseller's new Amazon Shorts program. Since the first few dozen shorts debuted in early August, Bubble After Bubble has consistently dominated the category's best-seller list, beating out a Danielle Steel essay called Candy for the Soul, an anti-Bush polemic by Mark Crispin Miller, and a nine-page, shoe-gazing meditation from Gloria Vanderbilt. How did Dent rise to the top of Amazon's short-form heap?

Largely by taking responsibility for Bubble After Bubble's publicity. Aside from including the shorts in an author's search results, Amazon hasn't done much promotion. And neither have publishing houses, likely because they don't make any money off the deal; there is no mention of Candy for the Soul, for example, on the Random House Web site, which includes an otherwise exhaustive list of Steel's 52 best sellers.

Walt Mossberg answers reader questions

"Alternatives to Instant Messaging," by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2005; Page B8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113399998059016758.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

My company has banned us from using instant-messaging programs on our work computers, claiming they are a security threat. Is there an alternative way for me to keep using instant messaging, which I consider a useful business tool?

Yes. You just have to use a service that replicates the functions of instant-messaging software inside a Web page. That way you aren't downloading an instant-messaging program onto the company's computer, you're simply using the Web browser already on that computer.

I've recently seen a cool new Web service of this type called Meebo, at http://www.meebo.com. It's only 11 weeks old, and it's still in testing, but it enables users to sign into four different instant-messaging services -- Time Warner's America Online's AIM (or ICQ); Microsoft's MSN Messenger; Yahoo Messenger; and Google's GTalk (or Jabber). You even can log on to all four simultaneously and see a combined buddy list. Meebo is basic and hasn't yet added fancy features like file transfers, but it works well on Windows PCs and Macs. And, it's very slick. You even can move the message and buddy-list windows around within the Web page.

If the Meebo site won't come up on your company computer, try the secure version, at https://www.meebo.com. If your company blocks this, too, I suspect it just hates the idea of instant messaging at work for reasons that go beyond security.

"Should you wait to buy a new Mac?," by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2005; Page B8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113399998059016758.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

How can you suggest that people consider buying a Macintosh now when Apple Computer will be coming out with all-new models based on Intel processors starting next year?

With any digital-technology product, the pace of change is so rapid that there is always a newer, supposedly better model on the horizon. But people buy these products when they need them. If you wait and wait, you lose the use of the new computer or other product in the meantime. And the next model may be flawed or otherwise unsuitable.

My recommendation last week of the best desktop computer on the market this holiday season, the Apple iMac G5, was meant for people who plan to buy a computer this holiday or within the next few months. Apple's changeover will be gradual; there is no indication when the iMac G5 will be replaced by a Mac with an Intel processor. It could be as late as 2007, according to Apple's public statements. There is no way to know if a future Intel-based model will be better or less expensive.

In addition, current Macs will remain highly useful for years even after the Intel models arrive. Makers of software and peripherals are highly unlikely to restrict their products to Intel-based Macs, which will be few in number compared with the tens of millions of Macs based on the current design. Apple has devised a system for creating software that runs on both designs.

How to win be more comfortable at parties and make partner in your firm

In general the staff accountants or lawyers who become partners of the firm have skills of conversation and name recalling skills that set them apart from the "nerds" who have great technical skills but just don't have those "people skills" with clients and peers.  I always remember a woman who made partner in one of the large accounting firms back when it was very difficult for women to become partners.  I always thought her genuine interest in athletics, combined with an outgoing personality, added greatly to her ability to make conversation with student recruits and clients at social gatherings.  Since knowing her, I've often advised accounting graduates to study social skills and practice how to make "social conversation."  There are tricks to remembering names (I've never tried to master this like I should have), and there are tricks to making conversation and feeling more comfortable in social settings (I'm a bit better at this, especially after a cocktail or two or three).

Perhaps some of you have some good advice to give to students along these lines.  My main advice is to study how to ask questions and become a sincere listener.  The only thing more dull than somebody who talks too much and listens too little is somebody who says nothing at all or has little to talk about other than the weather.  It also helps to be able to laugh at yourself and avoid taking yourself too seriously.

The next piece of advice is to stay up on certain daily happenings in the news, athletics, and entertainment as a base to ask questions about in potentially dull settings.  Then practice asking questions and making interesting conversation.  It may help your career as well as making you have more fun in life.

The following tidbit that came out recently on NPR may be helpful along these lines.  I don't necessarily agree with the classification of good things versus bad things.  If you know a person's spouse or friend, for example, I think it is courteous to ask about that spouse or a friend.  Asking somebody about their holiday plans is a good ice breaker in spite of what Debra Fine says.  If fact, it may just be an icebreaker to ask whether Debra Fine really understands the "fine art of talk." 

I guess what I'm saying here is that Debra Fine does not necessarily have the best advice, but at least she sets us thinking about the craft of making small talk, especially if you're trying to make students aware of how important small talk can be in life. 

"Small Talk Secrets for the Holiday Season," NPR, December 7, 2005 ---

If the idea of the office holiday party makes you want to hide in your cubicle, brushing up on "small talk" skills can make the events more enjoyable. Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk, offers timely tips that can turn the holiday season into an opportunity for conversational success:

Top 10 Icebreakers

1. "What is your connection to the host/hostess or event?"

2. "What do you enjoy the most about this time/season of the year?"

3. "Describe how this season of the year impacts your work?"

4. "Bring me up to date about your life/work/family since the last time we got together..."

5. "Tell me about your plans for the holidays..."

6. "Describe your favorite holiday tradition..."

7. "What challenges do you encounter at this time of year?"

8. "Tell me about a special gift you have given or received?"

9. "What is your favorite holiday? Why?"

10. "What have you got going on during the coming year?"

Conversation Killers to Avoid

1. "Are you married?" or "Do you have any kids?" Where are you going with either one of these if the response is "No"?

2. "How's your job at Boeing, United Airlines, Martha Stewart Enterprises (fill in the blank)?" Unless you know a person well, assume nothing! Don't put them on the spot like that. Instead ask: "What's been going on with work?"

3. "How's your wife?" (She left, took all the money, the kids and got the house!)

4. "Merry Christmas!" "What are your Christmas plans?" Not all of us celebrate Christmas.

5. At all costs avoid "Is that real?" "Are those real?"

Related NPR Stories


Tom DeLay's Woes Won't End in Texas
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has done Rep. Tom DeLay a great favor. By keeping the ethical focus on Mr. DeLay in Austin, he has kept it away from a growing scandal in Washington with far more serious implications for the former House majority leader.
Jonathan Gurwitz, "Tom DeLay's Woes Won't End in Texas," The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2005; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113392575893615947.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

Pork Cutting Payback: 
Why the President of the U.S. has trouble with some GOP, as well as Democratic, party senators

"Free England A story of Senate pork--and payback," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007638

Here's one way Congress could be useful in fighting the terrorists in Iraq: Confirm Gordon England as Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Conducting a war requires a fully staffed Pentagon, something the U.S. Senate is proving itself unwilling to provide. President Bush was forced to use his recess-appointment power last summer to name Eric Edelman as Undersecretary for Policy, the department's No. 3 position, when Democrat Carl Levin refused to lift his hold on the nomination over a spat pertaining to Mr. Edelman's predecessor, Douglas Feith. Ditto for Peter Flory, Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy.

Now it looks like the President will have to follow suit with Mr. England, who has been in limbo since he was nominated in March. It's a good thing Donald Rumsfeld seems to like his job. If the 73-year-old Defense Secretary were to retire, who knows whether a successor could be confirmed.

Mr. England's stalled confirmation is all the more outrageous since he is being held up by a member of the President's own party. Olympia Snowe is miffed that, as Navy Secretary, Mr. England did not fight some cuts in the ship-building budget dear to the heart of the Senator from Maine. Her office tells us he did not show sufficient "leadership." "I don't know what it would take" to get the Senator to lift her hold, a Snowe spokesman says. Translation: This is payback, so forget about it. Another Republican, Mississippi's Trent Lott, has had similar problems with Mr. England's lack of devotion to naval pork. He finally lifted his own hold last month, after meeting with Mr. England, who has been Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense since May, when Paul Wolfowitz left to head the World Bank. Under the rules governing political appointments, he is permitted to serve as "acting" since he already has a government job--that of Navy Secretary.

Continued in the article

Senator Robert Byrd and watchdog groups spar over ‘pork',
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has steered more than half-a-billion federal dollars to West Virginia in 2004 and 2005, prompting a GOP critic to say the effort is part of Byrd's well-established campaign strategy. This year, the senator already has racked up at least $177 million, according to various sources, including Byrd's office. The 2005 tally is bound to go higher, with two appropriations bills still tangled up in Congress and two others on President Bush's desk. Citizens Against Government Waste, which bills itself as "America's No. 1 Taxpayer Watchdog," estimated that Byrd was responsible for $399 million for West Virginia projects in 2004. Gary Abernathy, former executive director of the state Republican Party, said the pattern is familiar. "It's always been well understood that beginning about his fifth year of every term, he starts cranking up the pork for West Virginia," Abernathy said. "It's the worst kept secret in the state."
Justin D. Anderson, "Senator, groups spar over ‘pork'," Charleston Daily Mail, December 5, 2005 --- http://www.dailymail.com/news/News/2005120531/

The brain's biology of music and creativity

"Why Does Music Move Us? Science gets closer to the intersection of biology and creativity," by Douglas McLennan, The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2005; Page P13 ---

Researchers are only now beginning to unlock the secrets of the brain. It seems like every month some new study or another comes along to explain why we get addicted to nicotine, or how our neural pathways were changed because we studied piano as children, or how meditation alters our brainwave patterns.

Isolating which part of the brain is responsible for moving your big toe is a neat trick. But what about "softer" functions like figuring out how judgment is formed or music is made? "Why Music Moves Us: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music," a conference at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle last month, tried to apply some scientific paint stripper, to ask some basic questions about how the brain "hears" and translates sound into music.

We know how the ear catches sound, and that sound waves are translated into neurons that travel to the brain through some 30,000 auditory nerves from each ear. But how is it that the brain translates those neurons into something we recognize as music? Scans show that the brain is much more actively engaged with music than with speech. But there is no actual physical sound in your brain. No notes. No music. Only neurons.

The idea of pitch is a mental phenomenon, says Robert Zatorre, professor of neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal. Only the way sounds are organized makes them interesting. Brain scans show that different parts of the brain register activity depending on the kind of music played. Dissonance, for example, is generally perceived as unpleasant, and it provokes reactions in a different region of the brain than consonant harmonies do.

The idea of pitch is a mental phenomenon, says Robert Zatorre, professor of neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal. Only the way sounds are organized makes them interesting. Brain scans show that different parts of the brain register activity depending on the kind of music played. Dissonance, for example, is generally perceived as unpleasant, and it provokes reactions in a different region of the brain than consonant harmonies do.

Music is a basic human condition. We're born primed to pick up on beat regularities and able to put sound in some sort of coherent order. All cultures have music, and the ability to recognize music comes before speech. The brain is wired with reward and avoidance circuitry, and music, like sex or cocaine, rates high in the reward region.

There is strong evidence that our attraction to music isn't just for enjoyment. Music helps build community. And patients who have suffered strokes or other brain injuries often show dramatic improvement in their recovery if music or rhythm is played during therapy, reported Michael Thaut, professor of music and neuroscience at Colorado State University.

Our understanding of how the brain perceives music is still rudimentary, and researchers haven't even developed reliable tests to measure what we want to know about some of the most basic brain functions. Trying to measure, for example, if the brain has a different electrical reaction to music it likes than to music it doesn't is quite difficult because "like" and "dislike" are subjective terms that are hard to quantify scientifically.

Still, it's clear that our perceptions of the world have physical roots in the brain, and those perceptions can be altered. Studies have shown, for example, that the recognition of pitch can be altered by as much as 1½ tones with medication.

Continued in article

The Shift Away From Print
For most scholarly journals, the transition away from the print format and to an exclusive reliance on the electronic version seems all but inevitable, driven by user preferences for electronic journals and concerns about collecting the same information in two formats. But this shift away from print, in the absence of strategic planning by a higher proportion of libraries and publishers, may endanger the viability of certain journals and even the journal literature more broadly — while not even reducing costs in the ways that have long been assumed.
Gifford Fenton and Roger C. Schonfeld, "The Shift Away From Print," Inside Higher Ed, December 8, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/12/08/schonfeld

"How Charlotte Tops Big Cities In School Tests," by Robert Tohsho, The Wall Street Journal,  December 2, 2005; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113348682455111986.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

The scores on those tests were released yesterday and on the whole, results for big cities were mixed and achievement gaps between white and minority students persisted. The tests, taken by fourth- and eighth-graders in the 2004-2005 school year, are part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, widely considered the nation's most independent and accurate measurement of achievement in core subjects. Districts volunteered for the big-city testing. Statewide NAEP tests are mandatory under the "No Child Left Behind" law, but they are used only to shed light on performance, not to determine compliance or funding. The tests are administered by the federal government, which samples students based on demographics.

Among the participating urban districts, Charlotte, with 124,000 students, had the highest scores in all categories except eighth-grade math, where it tied with Austin, Texas. Charlotte's fourth-graders beat the average for all schools in math, with a score of 244 (on a 0-to-500 scale), seven points above the average. In reading, the fourth-graders' average score was 221, four points above the national average.

Districts in the urban NAEP -- including Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, and New York City -- face some of the nation's biggest challenges because a high proportion of their students are from low-income and minority families.

Charlotte was the only participating district that beat the national average for fourth-grade reading. Only Austin and Charlotte beat the national average on eighth-grade reading.

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said the report "dispels the myth that city schools can't make the grade," and she added that some of the best results came from states with the longest histories of creating accountability with standardized test scores.

A reform effort launched by Charlotte-Mecklenburg in the late 1990s focused on shifting more district funds to low-performing schools from schools that were doing better -- a move that has lately created some backlash. The district also reduced class sizes in those schools and offered to pay graduate-school tuition for teachers who agreed to work in those schools for at least two years. The district also required all of its elementary schools to adhere to a strict, phonics-based reading program.

And it brought more learning-disabled students back into mainstream classrooms and paired up teachers who had been teaching them separately. Now, "you have a great combination of teachers who are very, very versed in reading and teachers who are very, very versed in additional learning strategies," says Frances Haithcock, the district's interim superintendent.

The district's demographics also helped. Although centered in Charlotte, it is a countywide district that takes in more suburbs than most of its urban counterparts. About 56% of its students are minorities, compared with about 77% in big-city schools overall. Meanwhile, the district has annual tax revenue of about $9,500 per pupil in its budget, compared with $9,300 for Los Angeles and $8,100 for Houston.

Even so, low-income and minority students in the Charlotte district performed well compared with their counterparts elsewhere. Among fourth-graders in low-income families -- identified by their participation in discount lunch programs -- Charlotte students scored higher than the national average in math by five points, while black and Hispanic eighth-graders outpaced their counterparts nationwide in reading.

"Charlotte has a history of taking ... school reform pretty seriously," said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a public-schools policy group based in Washington, D.C.

Over the last five years, the district used a combination of state grants and federal anti-poverty funding to hire retired teachers to return to the classroom to mentor younger instructors and developed "pacing guides" that tell teachers where they should be in the curriculum in any given week of the year. To make certain that teachers in low-performing schools keep pace, teams from the central office visit classrooms up to four times a year.

Continued in article

"The Missing Black Men," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, December 5, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/12/05/blackmale

The numbers are chilling indeed. Last year, 31 percent of CUNY’s 188,000 undergraduates were black. Of those black undergraduates, women outnumbered men 2 to 1 (a ratio that is quite common at colleges nationwide). The gender gap appears to be the greatest at CUNY colleges that have the largest proportion of black enrollments. Medgar Evers College, for example, is 92 percent black. Only 23 percent of those black students are men. At York College, which is 62 percent black, only 29 percent of black students are men.

One theme of CUNY officials working on the Black Male Initiative is the interrelationship between the issues facing the university system and those facing the New York City schools and economy. Here too, the challenge is obvious. At the high school level, for instance, only 31 percent of black males graduate after four years. And of the black male labor market (defined as those 16 to 64), only 55 percent are employed.

What to do?

One model that is generating a lot of talk at CUNY is the creation of special programs to focus on black men, such as the Male Development and Empowerment Center at Medgar Evers. Despite the enormous gender gap at the college, black enrollment and retention have been edging upward the past few years, something many link to the creation of the center.

Peter A. Holomon, director of the center, says that the key to its success has been basing programs on interviews with students — “asking the brothers why they or others are coming or not coming to school or staying in school.”

Continued in article

Are your bathroom floors too cold?

"For Cold Feet," by Sara Schaefer Munoz, The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2005; Page P10 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113356457592212844.html?mod=todays_us_pursuits

There are three types of underfloor electric heating for small spaces like bathrooms. The first uses cables on a spool that can be laid out in a tight serpentine pattern to avoid cold spots, but can be tricky to space evenly. Because the cables aren't protected when they're being installed, they can be damaged. To avoid problems, test them with an Ohm meter before covering them up. Enough cables made by Easy Heat to heat a typical 50-square-foot bathroom run about $480 (www.warmtiles.com), including a thermostat that can be set to warm up the floor before your morning shower.

The second type features cables encased in mats, which are simpler to install than the cables on a spool except in irregular corners. Mats from WarmlyYours cost about $400 for a 50-square-foot room, also including a programmable thermostat (www.warmlyyours.com).

The third relies on heat-conducting film; one self-regulating type, which can hover at about 80 degrees without a thermostat, is made by Electro Plastics. Enough film for a 50-square-foot room also costs about $400 (www.warmfloor.com).

Students or Unionized Workers?

"Labors Lost Will anyone take a stand against striking grad students? The WSJ Opinion Journal, December 2, 2005 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110007624

One of the oddest things about the disruptive 25-day strike by graduate students at New York University is the penalty they face if they don't end their action by Monday. On the surface, it sounds tough. NYU President John Sexton told strikers this week that unless they resume their teaching-assistant duties (which include grading papers, leading discussion groups and teaching low-level courses) by Dec. 5, they won't be paid to do these things next semester.

Yet President Sexton is no Ronald Reagan. Unlike the striking air-traffic controllers whom Reagan fired in 1981, NYU teaching and research assistants face a soft landing. Anyone who ignores Mr. Sexton's ultimatum will continue to get free tuition and full medical benefits. The university also says that if the loss of teaching-assistant stipends--say, $9,500 a semester--causes economic hardship for some, NYU will help arrange a loan. Oh, the life of an exploited graduate student.

That said, the graduate union at NYU (a k a Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers--another oddity) has had a giddy ride over the past five years. In 2000, NYU became the first private university compelled to deal with such a union. That happened after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that certain students who perform services at their institution qualify as employees and are thus entitled to enter into collective bargaining agreements with their employers.

In 2004, however, the NLRB reversed the earlier decision, saying that graduate teaching assistants are not employees after all, but students whose duties are part of their education and whose stipends are like fellowships. When Local 2110's contract expired this summer without agreement on a new one, NYU announced that it would no longer recognize the union. The strike that began Nov. 8 is a protest against derecognition.

It's unclear how many strikers there are. Yet it's obvious that the educational process has suffered as students deal with the turmoil of demonstrations and missed classes just ahead of a crucial exam period. To avoid crossing picket lines, some professors have held classes off-campus, forcing commutes to venues such as the headquarters of the Communist Party USA. Many students, and particularly their parents, believe that the strike is depriving them of the learning experience they paid for. It is undergraduate tuition, after all, that funds the stipends of those teaching assistants, who pay no tuition. To be sure, even with their subsidies, graduate students aren't rich. Unionization or the threat of it has led administrators at some universities to upgrade benefits for teaching assistants. Ultimately, however, graduate students are scholars-in-progress. In the collegial setting of academe, they belong on the same team as their mentors, the senior scholars.

It's no surprise that the UAW, with its waning blue-collar base, is eager to enroll graduate students. The real issue is whether the union mentality and the blunt weapon of collective bargaining are any way to advance academic excellence. The last four weeks at NYU demonstrate that they are not.

Why did Samsung so readily confess to price fixing?

Anyone following the Justice Dept.'s investigation of price fixing in the memory-chip industry had reason to pay especially close attention to court fillings made public Nov. 28. Samsung Electronics, the South Korean chipmaker, had already pled guilty in the case and agreed to a $300 million fine (see BW Online 10/14/05, "Samsung's Day of Reckoning"). But the document sheds new light on Samsung's agreement to plead guilty and names seven individuals who could face criminal prosecution in the matter.
"Samsung's Fuller Disclosure Newly released documents help to explain why the chipmaker admitted guilt in the Justice Dept.'s mammoth price-fixing probe," Business Week, November 30, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/BWsamsung

Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

"A Louisiana Education," The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2005; Page A10 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113348536028911943.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

New Orleans public schools were in trouble long before Katrina's visit in August. But the hurricane aftermath has given the state an opportunity to turn things around educationally, and Louisiana seems eager to seize it.

Last month, the legislature voted to let the state effectively take over the New Orleans public school system. What's more, the state plans to turn a significant number of the city's underperforming schools over to universities and foundations to reopen as charters. Change was way overdue, to put it mildly. Some 90% of the city's 117 public schools were performing below the state average, and 68 of the state's 170 failing schools are located in Orleans Parish.

Not that this abysmal record stopped the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and its local affiliate, the United Teachers of New Orleans, from vehemently opposing the state action. But their arguments that chartering public schools means voiding collective-bargaining agreements and teacher-tenure rules got little sympathy from Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco, state lawmakers and parents understandably fed up with a school system graduating illiterates year after year.

In a speech last month endorsing the state takeover, Ms. Blanco noted that Katrina refugees with school-age children who had relocated to better schools across the country would be reluctant to return home if educational improvements weren't made. "If we're going to bring back New Orleans, we must bring back our schools," said Ms. Blanco. "We cannot afford to rebuild schools that do not give students the quality education that they need."

Continued in article

It will be interesting to learn more about how MCI intends to quantify risk
ASHBURN, Va., December 6, 2005—MCI, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCIP) today announced the launch of its NetSec Security Risk Management Service, a new managed solution that helps companies improve their security by quantifying, prioritizing and remediating security risks across an enterprise. MCI’s latest cloud-to-core offering enables companies to enhance their decision-making capabilities to take proactive and immediate action against threats and vulnerabilities, when and where it is needed most.
As quoted in a December 6, 2005 news release from MCI --- http://global.mci.com/us/enterprise/security/

Those wonderful (some say pesky) computer science students:  Music man Cracks DRM schemes
The ongoing saga of Sony BMG's sneaky, lawsuit-inducing copy-protection software opened a new chapter Monday when the music company released an uninstaller program to allow customers to remove the offending code from their PCs. The release was Sony's second attempt at erasing its errors -- its previous push of mea-culpaware last month backfired horribly when 24-year-old Princeton University researcher John "Alex" Halderman found that the uninstaller opened up a security hole even worse than the original digital rights management program. And while the discovery shocked outsiders, and embarrassed Sony, it was a little like déjà vu to Halderman, one of a handful of smart researchers who seem determined to hold the recording industry's feet to the fire.
Quinn Norton, "Music Man Cracks DRM Schemes," Wired News, December 7, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,69763,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_4

PhD Comics --- http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=577

Forwarded by Maria

I have tried this and they are quite good – Feel free to substitute your favorite liquor – it makes it SO much better!!!!

My favorite Christmas cookie recipe

1 cup of water

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 cup of brown sugar

lemon juice

4 large eggs

1 cup nuts

2 cups of dried fruit

1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila

Sample the Cuervo to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality.

Pour one level cup and drink. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point it's best to make sure the Cuervo is still OK. Try another cup...just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the frigging fruit off floor.

Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who giveshz a sheet.

Check the Jose Cuervo.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.


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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax: 210-999-8134  Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu