Here's to the "girls" (Auntie Bev, Paula, Barb, etc.) who send me messages every day from far away:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou --- http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/maya_angelou/
And much the same to you old guys named Dick, Don, Denny, David, Richard, David, Jim, Walter, and so on.
No wonder applications have been running high for Seton
Hall University (for one year at least)
A typo on materials sent by Seton Hall University to tens of thousands of foreign applicants gave — as a phone number to call for matters related to high school transcripts — the number of a phone sex line promising “hot, horny girls,” The Star-Ledger reported. Officials of the Roman Catholic institution in New Jersey said that it appears that the error was in place for more than one year.
Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/27/qt
Is Canada more crime free than the United States?
In the overall rating, Canada was eighth worst (no. 1 is worst), below Italy and just above Scotand. The U.S. rated 16th, below France and above Finland, and two places beneath the average for all 23 countries examined.
"Is Canada Really Safe? (Those Dratted Statistics)," The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2006; Page A11--- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113824395927056696.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
In connection with the shooting death of a young girl in Toronto, Ms. O'Grady wrote that "statistically Canada remains a remarkably safe place, but . . ." Certainly, that is the widely held perception, but it is not accurate. In 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Justice published the International Crime Victims Survey (ICVS). The incidence of 11 types or classes of crimes in 23 developed countries, one of which is Canada, were examined. "Incidence" was expressed as the percentage of population who were victims in the year 2000. Individual figures for the 11 classes were given, as was a total, designed to provide an overall rating. Countries and classes of crime studied, along with results may be found at www.unicri.it/icvs/statistics/page_stats.html/ .
Whatever happened to Blan McBride?
I'm in the process of preparing for retirement by cleaning out parts of my office. One never tackles such an enormous job all at once. It will require five months at least. A business card literally fell out of a pile of junk. It's the aged and yellowed card of one Blan McBride who taught accounting for a while after I first arrived at Florida State University in 1978. Blan was a character as you can tell from the following facsimile of his business card after he left FSU to go into business for himself:
Used Cars - Land - Whiskey - Manure - Nails - Balance Sheets - Income Statements - Racing Forms
Wars Fought Tigers Tamed
Revolutions Started Bars Emptied
Assassinations Plotted Virgins Converted
Governments Run Horses Traded
Uprisings Quelled Orgies Organized
Also Preach and Lead Singing for Revival Meetings
Does anybody know whatever happened to Blan McBride? If you knew him, I'm certain he made you laugh. He also prided himself as being Christian man who never touched a drop of evil spirits. I can't say the same for myself since acquiring a taste years and years ago for wicked cubalibras.
Will Tiffany's lawsuit put an end to online actions and even put eBay out of business?
The answer is pending
Among some other potentially significant cases that could shape law in the Internet age is Tiffany & Co.'s lawsuit against EBay. The jeweler is challenging EBay's argument that it's only a neutral marketplace that brings buyers and sellers together. The company claims it's not responsible for the quality of goods sold. While that argument has worked in several lawsuits that EBay has won, it may not stand up in Tiffany's suit, which accuses the online auctioneer of failing to do enough to keep counterfeit products off its site. New York-based Tiffany claims at least three out of four items sold on EBay as Tiffany jewelry is fake. It also says EBay, despite knowing about the problem, will market sellers offering Tiffany products, without first determining whether the goods are authentic. In fact, Tiffany claims many of the items that have been advertised on EBay's homepage, particularly during Mother's Day, are counterfeit.
Antone Gonsalves , "EBay Facing Groundbreaking Case In Tiffany Counterfeit Suit," InternetWeek, January 31, 2006 --- http://www.internetweek.cmp.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=177105430
It would seem to me that there is an intermediate solution where somebody pays for professional appraisals. Auction sites like eBay might even add this service for a fee passed on to buyers or possibly fee sharing by buyers and sellers. However, I would hate to see and end to making it possible to buy on eBay without this appraisal service
Caveat Emptor = Caveat Lector --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caveat_Emptor
Seeing Fakes, Angry Traders Confront eBay
Of course, fakes are sold everywhere, but the anonymity and reach of the Internet makes it perfect for selling knockoffs. And eBay, the biggest online marketplace, is the center of a new universe of counterfeit with virtually no policing. EBay, based in San Jose, Calif., argues that it has no obligation to investigate counterfeiting claims unless the complaint comes from a "rights owner," a party holding a trademark or copyright. A mere buyer who believes an item is a fake has almost no recourse. "We never take possession of the goods sold through eBay, and we don't have any expertise," said Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman. "We're not clothing experts. We're not car experts, and we're not jewelry experts. We're experts at building a marketplace and bringing buyers and sellers together." Company officials say they do everything they can to stop fraud. The company says only a minute share of the items being sold at any given time — 6,000 or so — are fraudulent. But that estimate reflects only cases that are determined by eBay to be confirmed cases of fraud, like when an item is never delivered.
Katie Hafner, "Seeing Fakes, Angry Traders Confront EBay," The New York Times, January 29, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/technology/29ebay.html
Seeing Fakes, Angry United Airline Employee-Shareholders Should be
Confronting the Bankruptcy Judge
The deal went through — with staggering compensation to Wall Street — and in 1994 the American employees of UAL, as a group, became its largest owners. Within a few years, overseas personnel were allowed the privilege of tossing their life savings into UAL, too. Trouble was not far behind. The employees found management demanding pay cuts, big (and, for passengers, inconvenient) changes and cuts in scheduling and services, and even silly changes in their once-great flight attendant uniforms. Then came the blows of 9/11 and a recession, and then rising fuel costs. There were demands for more cuts in pay and benefits and more layoffs. That was not enough. About three years ago, UAL was "forced" to enter bankruptcy to stay alive. This step meant that UAL could drastically cut workers' pay — and it did. Pensions were simply jettisoned and made the burden of the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which meant cuts of close to two-thirds in some pilots' pension payments. And, of course, the bankruptcy simply eliminated all of that equity in UAL that the employees had bought with their hard-earned savings.
Ben Stein, "When You Fly in First Class, It's Easy to Forget the Dots," The New York Times, January 29, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/business/yourmoney/29every.html
Here comes the good part: management has asked the bankruptcy court to let it have — free — roughly 15 percent of the stock in the new company, or about $900 million. Mr. Tilton, the chief executive, who plays the Orson Welles character in this drama, would get about $90 million personally for his hard work shepherding UAL through bankruptcy (for which he was already paid multiple millions of dollars).
The bankruptcy court, instead of ordering Mr. Tilton's arrest, instead cut the management share to about 8 percent, so he will get more than $40 million, more or less. That is more than Lee R. Raymond, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, one of the most successful companies of all time, was paid in 2004 (not counting Mr. Raymond's 28 million shares of restricted stock).
So here it is in a nutshell: employees are goaded into investing a big chunk of their wages and benefits in UAL stock. They lose that. Then they lose big parts of their pay and pensions. They become peons of UAL. Management gets $480 million, more or less. "Creative destruction?" Or looting?
Wait, Mr. Tilton and Mr. Bankruptcy Judge. The employees were the owners of UAL. They were the trustors, and Mr. Tilton and his pals were trustees for them. How were the trustors wiped out while the trustees, the fiduciaries, became fantastically rich? Is this the way capitalism is supposed to work? Trustors save up, and their agents just take their savings away from them?
If the company is worth so much that management has hundreds of millions coming to them, shouldn't the employee-owners get a taste? Does capitalism mean anything if the owners of the capital can be wiped out while their agents grow wealthy? Is this a way to encourage savings and the ownership society? Or is this a matter of to him who hath shall be given?
I know that this is basically the same story I described recently concerning the Delphi Corporation, where something similar is going on. But that's exactly the point. Management is using competition, higher fuel costs and every other cost complaint to cut the pay and pensions of its own employees while enriching itself.
And I can well imagine what goes through Mr. Tilton's mind as he does it: "Hey, I'm a great executive. Great executives in private-equity firms make more than I do. Why shouldn't I get the moolah? Basically, I've worked it so UAL is now a private-equity deal anyway. That's what it's all about now, isn't it? Who's got the most at the end of the day at Bighorn or the Reserve or whatever golf course I choose to retire at? And, anyway, wouldn't you take $48 million for a few of those dots we used to call our employees and owners to stop moving?"
Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#OutrageousCompensation
What might become the world's best "unbiased" portals of information on the Web that will operate more like PBS without advertising (although PBS television itself seems to be advertising more and more these days)?
Go to Digital Universe --- http://www.digitaluniverse.net/
It’s called the Digital Universe, and it’s not a search engine, but a non-profit directory of the best resources on the Web as determined by a panel of experts. The content, organized into different subject portals, is tied together by a visual navigation system and complemented by an impressive dose of 3-D images and other multimedia including books and video and audio archives along with chat rooms and moderated forums.
"The 'PBS Of The Web'," by Christopher T. Heun, InternetWeek, January 30, 2006 --- http://www.internetweek.cmp.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=177104935
You can read the following at http://www.digitaluniverse.net/
The Digital Universe is a pilot program for a network of web portals that will become the largest reliable information resource in history.
The Digital Universe features a seamless new visual navigation system and a unique activity-based system for organizing the best of the Web through functions such as Explore, and later, Communicate, Watch, Blog, and Play.
The mission is to realize the Internet’s potential as an open, non-commercial medium that inspires creativity, communication, collaboration and education.
A growing global alliance of researchers, scholars and experts are beginning to collaborate on content and use new rich-media tools to convey knowledge in innovative and visually astounding ways
"Google Plans Monday Beta For Toolbar Upgrade," by Thomas Claburn, InternetWeek, January 31, 2006 --- http://www.internetweek.cmp.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=177105137
Where does the Palestinian Authority get funds (at least those reported to the public)?
"The Palestinian aid pie," Algazeera, January 30, 2006 ---
The possible price not recognizing Israel's right to exist
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says nations should withhold aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government unless the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist. Rice is in London during a diplomatic trip to Europe.
"Rice: No Aid for Hamas-Led Government," NPR, January 30, 2006 ---
Hamas Faces Crisis If Funding Dries Up
Now, in the wake of Hamas's ascent, many foreign nations -- most prominently the U.S. and EU states -- are threatening to turn the spigot off for as long as Hamas is in charge. That has put Hamas, a militant Islamist group that is on U.S. and EU terrorist blacklists, in a tricky spot. With some 160,000 civil servants on the government payroll and an increasing budget deficit, the PA could slip into bankruptcy if Western aid comes to a halt. That, coupled with Israeli security blockades that stifle economic activity, could set the stage for an economic decline that many fear could lead to chaos in the West Bank and Gaza. Nearly half of all Palestinians live on less than $2 a day.
Karby Leggett, "Hamas Faces Crisis If Funding Dries Up," The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2006; Page A7 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113867254271160519.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
"How to Prevent Investment Adviser Fraud," by Brian Carroll, Journal of Accountancy, January 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jan2006/carroll.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on how to find investment advisors and advice about fees are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fees.htm
"New Fraud Guidance," by J. Russell Madray, Journal of Accountancy, January 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jan2006/madray.htm
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY SSARS NO. 12, Omnibus Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services—2005, amended SSARS no. 1, making specific changes regarding the practitioner’s consideration of fraud and illegal acts in compilation and review engagements.
ALTHOUGH COMPILATION AND REVIEW performance standards don’t require CPAs to assess the risk of fraud, they still must inform the client of incorrect, incomplete or otherwise unsatisfactory information discovered during an engagement.
ACCOUNTANTS NEED NOT REPORT illegal acts that are clearly inconsequential and may reach agreement in advance with the entity regarding the nature of such items to be communicated.
MISSTATEMENTS IN FINANCIAL STATEMENTS may be intentional, thus constituting fraud, or unintentional, the result of error. Therefore, in a review, CPAs must make specific inquiries and obtain specific written representations from management about fraud.
IN ADDITION TO THE REVISIONS to SSARS no. 1 related to fraud, SSARS no. 12 contains amendments to guidance on updating management representation letters, restricted-use reports and restatement adjustments.
J. RUSSELL MADRAY, CPA, is president of the Madray Group Inc., an accounting and auditing technical consulting practice, and a senior lecturer at Clemson University’s School of Accountancy and Legal Studies in Clemson, S.C. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Jensen's threads on fraud prevention and reporting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
Protect Your ID and Fight Back Against the Phishers and Pharmers
"Phight Phraud: Steps to protect against phishing," by Steven C. Thompson, Journal of Accountancy, February 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/feb2006/thompson.htm
There are several free products that fight phishing by disclosing whether the Web site you contact is legitimate:
Netcraft Toolbar ( http://toolbar.netcraft.com ) works in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Cloudmark Safety Bar ( www.cloudmark.com/products/safetybar ) only supports Internet Explorer.
Mozdev.org TrustBar ( http://trustbar.mozdev.org ) works only in Firefox.
EarthlinkToolbar ( www.earthlink.com/software/free/toolbar ).
Microsoft also recently announced it is adding antiphishing features to Internet Explorer 6 and subsequent versions. The new phishing filter, which will require Windows XP SP2, will be available shortly in a beta version.
Bob Jensen's threads on phishing, pharming, spoofing, and pretexting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Phishing
The Free Dictionary ---
This is great with nothing to install.
Remember that you can also get word definitions from search engines like Google and Yahoo. For a definition of "hedge ratio" simply type the following in the Exact Phrase box at http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en
define "hedge ratio"
Bob Jensen's dictionary bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Dictionaries
Bob Jensen's accounting, finance, economics, and technology glossaries are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245gloss.htm
Who is faking Russia's greatest paintings?
"Who is faking Russia's greatest paintings?" by Peter Finn, Northwest Herald, January 30, 2006 --- http://www.nwherald.com/MainSection/other/48704002569772.php
Valeri Uszhin, a wealthy car dealer, wanted an art collection. "About two years ago, I felt that I had money," he said. "I decided to buy paintings, Russian art."
Uszhin began to collect at quite a clip, a new canvas every couple of weeks. Then in March last year he paid a St. Petersburg art dealer $145,000 for a painting listed as "Summer Day," by Alexander Kiselev, a 19th-century master of Russian landscapes. By the time he hung it in his Moscow apartment, the walls were covered with a seemingly sterling collection — 30 pieces of 19th-century art bought for a total of close to $5 million.
But within months there was a sobering development: Art experts using scientific analysis determined that the work that Uszhin thought was "Summer Day" was in fact a heavily altered 1883 painting by the Danish artist Janus la Cour, "A Forest Road Leading to a Peasant's House." The investigators established that 14 months before Uszhin bought it, someone else had paid $2,000 for it at an auction in Copenhagen.
The revamped la Cour, now stored in a police basement, is at the center of one of the most lucrative and technically sophisticated international art scams to surface in recent years. Fueled by the country's burgeoning wealth and the desire for prestigious assets with patriotic cachet, Russia's upper class has driven the market for Russian art to unprecedented heights. The frenzy has also attracted some very skilled and knowledgeable crooks.
Vladimir Petrov, a curator at the state-run Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, says he believes forgers have snapped up at least 120 paintings by minor 19th-century West European landscape artists at auction houses in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands, paying $1,000 to $20,000 apiece for them. After retouching, the works have been resold here for between $125,000 and $1 million as the work of major Russian artists of the same period.
"Pieces that had a lot in common with Russian painters were chosen," said Petrov, who acknowledges having validated 20 fakes before his suspicions were aroused by the sheer volume of previously unrecorded art flooding into the marketplace over the last three years. "It seems like there are several groups with highly skilled professionals working on this. They were experts in Russian art. They added a few Russian details or removed a few Western details or sometimes just changed the signature. They were so close in everything. Remarkable."
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Promoting Liberal Education
Redefining liberal education and building stronger public support for its concepts is no easy task. So when the Association of American Colleges and Universities a year ago announced a campaign to do those things, it was perceived as requiring a 10-year campaign . . . To those who assume that a good liberal education yields a certain kind of educated person, Williams offered a fact that — to judge from the looks exchanged around the room — clearly got the audience thinking about the values they believe are associated with liberal education. The statement from Williams: “The people who lead us into wars are always among the best educated people in society.”
Scott Jaschik and David Epstein, "Promoting Liberal Education," Inside Higher Ed, January 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/30/aacu
Are We Losing Our Public Universities to De Facto Privatization?
Public universities in the United States may be at a turning point, write Katharine C. Lyall and Kathleen R. Sell in The True Genius of America at Risk: Are We Losing Our Public Universities to De Facto Privatization? (Praeger). The new book comes at a time that many leading public universities are conducting billion-dollar fund raising campaigns while finding it difficult to match their states’ ambitions with legislative appropriations. Lyall, president emeritus of the University of Wisconsin System, and Sell, a senior lecturer in the Integrated Liberal Studies Program at Wisconsin’s Madison campus, recently responded to questions about the themes of their book.
Scott Jaschik, "‘The True Genius of America at Risk’," Inside Higher Ed, January 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/30/public
Health News from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Title Washing: How Car Titles Get Laundered
Unsuspectingly you may be purchasing a car that was flooded during a hurricane
Thousands of vehicles that sat in the murky waters left by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are starting to show up on the used-car market. Most states require that flooded cars be labeled as such on the title. But scam artists have found loopholes in the system. They re-register cars in states with looser title laws -- sometimes two or three states -- until the warning that the car was flooded is gone. This fraudulent practice is known as "title washing."
Jeff Brady, "Holes in Monitoring System Let Lemons Get Resold," NPR, January 31, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5173717
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Update on Apple's iPod U (lectures from universities are for sale as
noted in a prior edition of Tidbits)
For example, podcasts are available from Stanford University and the University of Missouri
"Apple Expands iTunes Podcast Service," by May Wong, MyWay, January 27, 2006 --- http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060128/D8FDDDHG0.html
In its latest move to broaden its iPod and iTunes franchises, Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) has introduced "iTunes U," a nationwide expansion of a service that makes course lectures and other educational materials accessible via Apple's iTunes software.
The company behind the iPod portable players, the iTunes online music store and Macintosh computers had been working with six universities on the pilot project for more than a year and expanded the educational program this week, inviting other universities to sign up.
Internet access to college lectures is nothing new, but listening to them on portable gadgets is a more recent phenomenon of the digital age, spurred in part by the popularity of podcasts, or downloadable audio files.
The University of Missouri offered podcasts of lectures through its school network before it signed up with Apple last summer as a pilot school. But "iTunes U" offered a software and service package for free, said Keith Politte, the development officer at the university's School of Journalism.
The market dominance of Apple's iTunes Music Store and iPods, which helped spawn the podcast movement, also was key.
"Our students are digital natives. We seek to meet our students where they are, and iTunes is the interface that most of our students are already familiar with," Politte said.
Apple's service offers universities a customized version of the iTunes software, allowing schools to post podcasts, audio books or video content on their iTunes-affiliated Web sites. The iTunes-based material will be accessible on Windows-based or Macintosh computers and transferable to portable devices, including Apple's iPods.
The service lets institutions decide if they want to limit access to certain groups or open the material to the public.
For instance, Stanford University, which joined the pilot program last fall, gives the public free access not only to some lectures but also audio broadcasts of sporting events through its iTunes-affiliated site.
Schools and universities have historically been major contributors to Apple's computer sales. With iTunes U, Apple "is leveraging the ubiquity that we've established on campuses with iPods and iTunes," said Chris Bell, Apple's director of product marketing for iTunes.
Bob Jensen's threads on podcasting, Apple's iPod U, RSS, RDF are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#ResourceDescriptionFramework
Bob Jensen's threads on distance education alternatives are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm
Bob Jensen's taxation bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation
You should always start with the IRS (it's a very friendly site) --- http://www.irs.gov/
Remember that the leading tax preparation packages for over 70% of U.S. taxpayers (other than those with very complicated returns) can be downloaded free from the IRS --- http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html
"Five Best Books on Taxes IRS on your mind? Tax expert Randy
Blaustein declares these books to be major assets," The Wall Street
Journal, January 28, 2006; Page P8 ---
1. The IRS Problem Solver
By Daniel J. Pilla
Regan Books, 2003
Daniel J. Pilla provides nine valuable secrets to winning your audit -- but bear in mind that the general rule is never try to handle an IRS audit yourself (it's like trying to perform your own brain surgery). Another important rule: Never walk into an audit without knowing the issues. Anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked and be prepared with the documentation that will be needed to resolve the matter in your favor. The author supplies plenty of sample form letters -- requesting an abatement of penalties, for instance, or asking for the release of a levy placed on your salary -- that could be used to respond to almost anything the IRS throws at you.
2. Confessions of a Tax Collector
By Richard Yancey
A reminiscence of the author's 12-year career as a revenue officer (a field employee of the IRS's Collection Division), this book reveals how the officers are taught to impose their will on delinquent taxpayers. Mr. Yancey recalls the advice about the opposition offered by a senior revenue officer shortly after he was hired: "Find where they are. Track what they do. Learn what they have. Execute what they fear." This book is replete with stories about the nuts and bolts of collecting taxes from people who either don't have the money or simply don't want to pay. "'Never enter a taxpayer's kitchen,' one training manual cautioned us. 'A kitchen usually has knives and other implements which may be used as weapons.'"
3. What the IRS Doesn't Want You to Know
By Martin S. Kaplan
This is the ninth edition Martin S. Kaplan's book, significantly updated since the certified public accountant began a decade ago unveiling information that other tax professionals were afraid to discuss publicly for fear of IRS retaliation. Mr. Kaplan does a compelling job of explaining how to tell if the IRS suspects you of criminal tax fraud. He also lays out how the Criminal Investigation Division proves the critical element of "willful intent" when taxpayers refuse to make specific records available or submit false invoices to support a tax-return item. The author reveals his trade's secrets -- for example, how companies designated "S" corporations can be used by shareholders for deductions that are unlikely to attract the IRS's scrutiny.
4. Tax This! An Insider's Guide to Standing Up To the IRS
By Scott M. Estill
Self-Counsel Press, 2000
The author, a former IRS senior trial attorney, tells you how to level the playing field and win when dealing with the IRS. The advice (for individuals and businesses) is accompanied by citations of IRS code and regulations, useful for readers who want more information on a particular issue. Taxpayers who owe the IRS money will find here all the instructions they need on the important questions. One chapter, titled "Fight the IRS in Court," offers readers a primer in ways to represent themselves in Tax Court. Mr. Estill's advice -- forceful and direct -- is research the law, be organized, stand when speaking and, not least, don't ever interrupt the judge.
5. J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2006
By J.K. Lasser Institute
The current incarnation of the Lasser franchise, so beloved by taxpayers, encompasses some 816 pages on every possible detail concerning the preparation of your 2005 personal income tax return. One chapter, devoted entirely to the IRS, includes such matters as your odds of being audited and the average itemized deductions for 2003 (medical, taxes, charity, interest) based on adjusted gross income. It also offers good basic information about preparing for an audit and handling one. And the authors explain how to recover the costs of a tax dispute if the IRS took an unreasonable position that forced you to incur legal fees and other expenses in order to win your case.
From Smart Stops on the Web, Journal of Accountancy, January 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jan2006/news_web.htm
Resources for Tax Time
CPAs and office managers doing payroll can make this tax season easier with this ADP-sponsored Web site. Find all state and federal tax forms, a guide to penalty and interest rates and federal tax calculations. Read case studies in the State Unemployment Insurance section on employer liability and use a claim cost calculator and glossary. Go to the Tax Compliance & Financial Services Toolbox to find STATcentral with 2004, 2005 and 2006 payroll calendars, reporting forms and the Payroll & Tax Monitor, which highlights and reports on new and changing state tax rules.
Bob Jensen's taxation bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation
The latest craze in cell phones reviewed by my favorite analyst David Pogue
"Razr vs. Blade: Cloning Is Only Skin Deep," by David Pogue, The New York Times, January 26, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/26/technology/circuits/26pogue.html?_r=1
They say that looks aren't everything, but don't tell Motorola. Its breathtakingly beautiful Razr is the world's best-selling cellphone.
In just one year, this ultrathin metal slab has attained almost iPod-like popularity; 12 million people are now slipping Razr phones in and out of their pockets. You can buy the Razr in black, silver, pink or blue (for about $150), and there's more to come.
"The year of 2005 was the Razr," says Edward J. Zander, Motorola's chief executive, "and the year of 2006 is more Razrs."
All right, we get the idea. Thin is in.
Other cellphone companies get the idea, too. In fact, Samsung has already come up with a Razr clone, nicknamed the Blade. (Its official name is the A900. It's offered only by Sprint, for $200, although a Verizon edition is reported to be in the works.)
Whereas the Razr is a flat, rectangular, high-fashion flip phone, the Blade is a flat, rectangular, high-fashion flip phone. The dimensions are identical, too: 3.9 by 2 inches, and about a half-inch thick when closed. Both feel satisfying and James Bondian in your palm, and both snap shut with the cushioned click of a Lexus car door.
Each has a camera, a speakerphone, Bluetooth wireless capability, a totally flat keypad, crystal-clear and extremely loud ringers, a big color screen inside and a postage-stamp-size screen on the outside.
The phones are similar in their limitations, too. Neither has a Silence All keystroke for use in boardrooms, theaters or churches; you have to work the Volume Down key all the way to zero through the volume settings. The vibrate mode is so feeble, one layer of pocket fabric blocks it from your nerve endings.
Continued in article
The ugly side of appointing football coaches
If that’s the case, it’s no wonder there are so few black football coaches at universities with big-time programs (5 of 119 as of the end of the 2005 season), because the vast majority of those doing the hiring at those institutions are white men, according to data compiled by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which Lapchick directs.
Doug Lederman, "The ‘Old Boys Network’ in College Sports," Inside Higher Ed, January 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/26/coaches
Workers should not be discriminated against just because their smell
makes others nauseous
"Deodorant Is Barbarism!," Body Oder Rights Activists of Berkeley California ---
This is from the same activists who are fighting air pollution. Can they really have it both ways? Have they really thought about what this is doing to cause global warming?
"Triumph of the Redistributionist Left: Even with Republicans in control, trends are decidedly in favor of massive redistribution of wealth," by Patrick Chisholm, Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2006 --- http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0123/p25s01-cogn.html
The political left in America is emerging victorious. No, this isn't about the damage that Jack Abramoff's mischief has done to the political right. Nor is it about President Bush's lousy poll numbers. And it doesn't refer to Democrats' recent win of two governorships.
It's about something much deeper; namely, that the era of big government is far from over. Trends are decidedly in favor of that quintessential leftist goal: massive redistribution of wealth.
Republicans' capture of both Congress and the White House was, understandably, a demoralizing blow to the left. But the latter can take solace that "Republican" is no longer synonymous with spending restraint, free markets, and other ideals of the political right.
While the left did not get its way on tax cuts, this may be only a temporary defeat: Freewheeling spending has made future tax cuts politically a lot harder.
During the first five years of President Bush's presidency, nondefense discretionary spending (i.e., spending decided on an annual basis) rose 27.9 percent, far more than the 1.9 percent growth during President Clinton's first five years, according to the libertarian Reason Foundation. And according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the number of congressional "pork barrel" projects under Republican leadership during fiscal 2005 was 13,997, more than 10 times that of 1994.
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A not-so-center Clinton
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton votes with her party's liberal leaders nearly 100 percent of the time — undermining her drive to the middle on issues like banning flag burning and talking tough on Iran. Clinton voted the party line at a 96 percent clip last year, according to an analysis of 229 Senate votes conducted by Congressional Quarterly — second among 2008 Dem White House hopefuls only to Sen. John Kerry, who toed the line 97 percent of the time. Ted Kennedy took the cake at 100 percent.
Ian Bishop, "HILLARY LURCHING LEFT ," New York Post, January 23, 2006 --- http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/62099.htm
Hillary Can't Wait Video --- http://www.michaelhodges.com/missing.html
Looming Failure of Castro's Revolutionary Left: The United States
Cannot Take Any Credit
Has anyone noticed that the Cuban government is on the verge of collapse? Fidel Castro's reign could expire before he does. Mr. Castro recently went public about Cuban corruption so massive that it could destroy his so-called revolution. And going to the extremes that he did to save his 47-year-old stranglehold, his dictatorship looks like it's ready for the hospice, morphine drip, crematorium and dustbin of history. Reading from his scripted speech in November, Castro asked, "Do you believe that this revolutionary socialist process can fall apart, or not? This revolution can destroy itself. We can destroy ourselves, and it would be our fault," according to the People's Weekly World Newspaper. Can't hang this on Uncle Sam.
Dimitri Vassilaros, "Fidel's folly falters," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 23, 2006 ---
Your Brain on Booze
Scientists have already uncovered some of the major structural differences in the brains of alcoholics using magnetic resonance imaging, which gives a picture of the size and shape of different structures on the brain. But, until recently, researchers had been unable to study the fine network of nerve fibers that carry information from one brain area to another. These fibers are crucial for maintaining proper processing speed in the brain, so disrupting this circuitry could lead to many of the cognitive problems associated with alcoholism.
Emily Singer, "Your Brain on Booze: Scientists are using a new brain imaging technology to understand how chronic drinking damages wiring in the brain," MIT's Technology Review, January 26, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16197,304,p1.html
Harvard University may eliminate its general education core requirements: Students take what they want
But this will not be the case at Ohio State University and the University of Texas
"Choosing the Core," David Epstein, Inside Higher Ed, November 4, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/11/04/harvard
Stephen A. Mitchell, chair of the folklore and mythology program, welcomes the plan. He said it would “break your heart” to see students taking a core course that didn’t really interest them, simply because there is small selection of courses that fit most students’ schedules. Mitchell quoted a colleague who said students would “get their inoculation against foreign cultures.” Now, he said, with departmental courses on the table, “there are dozens of courses on foreign cultures they could take.”
Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said she read the recommendations “with great sadness,” because “this doesn’t really require anything,” she said. “It’s all in the hands of the student and the adviser. Sometimes the result will be wonderful, sometimes it will be depressing.”
Schneider said that one of the major problems of general education requirements are that they have no clear goals, and give students too much choice. She said that many institutions that are reforming general education requirements are requiring upper level courses within a major that integrate global perspectives, or ethical reasoning, so that students cannot skirt those topics. “The trend is toward vertical integration,” Schneider said, “rather than broadly defined intro courses. [The report] doesn’t offer anything new. They didn’t want to grapple with a well designed, coherent program.” She added that Harvard has the ability to be a leader in something like moral reasoning, but instead removed it as a clear objective.
From the Carnegie Foundation: No Joy Over Harvard's General
Tom Ehrlich has strong ties to Harvard, his alma mater. In this month's Perspectives, Tom expresses his embarrassment and regret that this university is on the brink of abandoning the reform of Harvard's undergraduate curriculum, a reform that Tom feels is long overdue. Tom's commentary does more than merely address his concern with his alma mater; it also speaks to a larger and more endemic issue—the fact that we tend to take undergraduate education for granted in this country. This neglect has created a lack of coherence that would be much improved by addressing the need for a strong core curriculum.
"Blue About the Crimson Plan for General Education," Carnegie Conversations, January 23, 2006 --- http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/perspectives/sub.asp?key=244&subkey=369
Meanwhile Ohio State University and the University of Texas are swinging both ways
In an effort to bring some method to the madness — while also giving students a shot to graduate in four years – both Ohio State University and the University of Texas at Austin, two of the largest universities in the country, are considering proposals to change their requirements. And both proposals suggest creating large, interdisciplinary courses that all freshmen take, while making distribution requirements more flexible, so that a student can pursue areas of particular interest.
David Epsten, "Flexibility Required," Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/27/curric
Should students get a plus for effort apart from performance?
Trent Snider, a chemistry professor at King’s College, in Pennsylvania, questioned whether giving hard working students a little boost — or the occasional rounded-up grade – is so bad. “I would rather have that student that works nine hours and gets a C+ than one who works one hour and gets a B+,” he said. “Do those students really deserve to be graded the same?”
"A Different Take on Classroom ‘Fairness’," Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/27/grading
Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids
"School Competition Needed," Charleston,net (The Post and Courier),
January 18, 2006 ---
ABC's "20/20" addressed this critical issue last week with a full-hour program bluntly titled "Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids." Host John Stossel reported from several sites across the nation, including South Carolina, telling viewers of Gov. Mark Sanford's attempts to expand school choice and competition through tax credits. He also told viewers those attempts have been unsuccessful so far, in part because "PTAs even sent kids home with a letter saying, 'Contact your legislator. How can we spend state money on something that hasn't been proven?' "
But what has been virtually proven at some schools in our state is the apparent inevitability of low standards, low expectations and low test scores. Mr. Stossel, hailing the indisputable benefits of competition in business, argued that public education's status quo is overdue for market-driven improvements: "When monopolies rule, there is little choice, and little gets done."
And while it's unfair to blame public schools for every failing student, the "20/20" focus on an 18-year-old South Carolinian strongly supported the choice case. Mr. Stossel reported that the youngster, despite his mother's repeated efforts and supposedly expert attention from public-school officials, "was still struggling to read a single sentence in a first-grade level book when I met him. Although his public schools had spent nearly $100,000 on him over 12 years, he still couldn't read." Then "20/20" sent him to a private learning center, where his reading level went up two grade levels after only 72 hours of instruction.
Mr. Stossel also refuted familiar education-establishment calls for more school spending, citing the doubling of U.S. per-pupil outlays (adjusted for inflation) over the last three decades. He also pointed out the sharp contrast between our "government monopoly" and the highly successful schools of Belgium, where "the money is attached to the kids." And in Belgium, "if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business."
Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby told Mr. Stossel: "That's normal in Western Europe. If schools don't perform well, a parent would never be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped in the U.S."
And if our schools don't start performing better, many of our children will continue to be trapped in educational futility that threatens their futures.
In addition to being the world's largest producer of counterfeit $100 dollar bills, North Korea is also the world's largest producer of counterfeit cigarettes
"Tobacco Firms Trace Fakes To North Korea," by Gordon Fairclough, The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113830654895857392.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
In Philip Morris USA's ongoing war against counterfeiters, it was a fairly simple operation: Buy a pack of Marlboros from a corner bodega on Manhattan's Upper East Side to follow up on a tip about contraband cigarettes.
But it took until 2005, the year after the pack was purchased, company officials say, before they could trace the artfully counterfeited smokes to one of the world's most isolated countries, North Korea.
The communist nation has become a leading source of counterfeit cigarettes -- with the capacity to churn out more than two billion packs a year, tobacco companies say. Philip Morris, a unit of New York-based Altria Group Inc., says over the past several years it has discovered North Korean-made knockoffs of its Marlboro brand in more than 1,300 places, from New York to Oklahoma City, Seattle and Los Angeles.
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"North Korean Counterfeiting Complicates Nuclear Crisis," by Martin Fackler, The New York Times, January 29, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/international/asia/29korea.html
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By MARTIN FACKLER
NO MAN'S YOKE ON MY SHOULDERS
Nickerson's words constitute one of 20 oral histories in "No Man's Yoke on My Shoulders: Personal Accounts of Slavery in Florida," the eighth in a series of edited slave narratives covering the states of the Confederacy. In his introduction, Horace Randall Williams -- who also edited the Alabama volume, "Weren't No Good Times" -- explains that the interviews had their start during the mid-1930s, when the WPA's Federal Writers' Project collected oral histories, both black and white. Most of the Florida interviewers were themselves African-American, though few recorded the dialect of their subjects as Nickerson's interviewer did.
NO MAN'S YOKE ON MY SHOULDERS, Edited by Horace Randall Williams (John F. Blair, 102 pages, $11.95), Reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2006 ---
Suing a professor or college for incompetence.
Suing a professor or college for a grade change.
Suing a college for tenure rejection.
January 19, 2006 message from Bob Jensen regarding how to sue for instructor incompetence
Unless there is something criminal (e.g., sexual harassment, blatant fraud, illegal discrimination), I think that the following lawsuits are pretty hopeless in the U.S.:
Suing a professor or college for incompetence. Suing a professor or college for a grade change. Suing a college for tenure rejection.
The courts are reluctant to enter into these professional judgment decisions. Most legitimate colleges have internal processes for dealing with such strife but going to the outside is tough going in the courts. It is possible to sue a blatant diploma mill for stealing your money, but the perpetrators are probably hidden deep offshore.
State and local governments are pursuing some for-profit and even some state colleges (currently in New Jersey) for fraud. Even in those instances, proving that the instructors were incompetent is tough going in civil court as long as the instructors were meeting classes and providing some educational materials.
These days professors are more worried about being sued for liability under copyright and patent infringements, especially where there is doubt that their employers will pay their legal fees. See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright There may also be doubts about employer backing of such things as being a “faculty representative” of a campus club or fraternity when something bad happens such as when a student is killed when DWI from a fraternity party.
In the U.S. it is best for professors to carry what is called “umbrella insurance” and to read the fine print of the contract to see if it will kick in when an employer will not provide insurance against professional civil suits. At a minimum, professors should be aware of what their employers will and will not cover. They may need added umbrella protection.
January 23, 2006 reply from William Carter [email@example.com]
Bob, most of us can buy "school-teacher's insurance" as a rider on our homeowner policies. it's cheap. it doesn't protect us from a civil action claiming plagiarism, unfair grading, incompetence, or other malpractice. but if you trip in the classroom & the gyrations needed to catch your balance result in the chalk, the eraser, & your wireless mouse flying from your hands into the face of an unlucky student, thereby scratching a cornea (whiplash, too, i guess), it'll pay the damages. i'm told it'll even pay if you throw the chalk at a student in a moment of utter disappointment with the student's recitation or napping.
but if you get this coverage, don't let it be known.
Forwarded by Doug Jenson
A man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her,
"Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."
His wife got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all of his beer.