Tidbits on February 23, 2006
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

Bob Jensen's various threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

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/.

Internet News (The News Show) --- http://www.thenewsshow.tv/daily/

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 
Hoax Busters --- http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/ 
Stay up on the latest and the oldest hoaxes --- http://www.snopes.com/


Online Video
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

You've got to watch this one (Click on "Watch")
World class juggling (Chris Bliss) with great accompaniment music --- http://www.sonnyradio.com/chrisbliss.htm

Whitney ARTPORT:
The Whitney Museum Portal to Net Art ---  http://artport.whitney.org/

Comedian (Jerry Seinfeld)
Hora Decubitus aka E's Flat, Ah's Flat Too

The Dynamic Duo's PC Buying Guide --- http://www.pcworld.com/digitalduo/video/0,segid,125,00.asp#
Wait for the 30 second commercial to end.

PhysOrg News Videos

» Science news videos
» Space news videos
» Science&Nature news videos
» Science&Tech news videos
» Your Health news videos
» World Headlines news videos
 


Free music downloads --- --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

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

Smithsonian Global Sounds --- http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/
There are many samples with links on how to buy the CDs.

WUMB Folk Radio (click on "Listen Live Now") --- http://www.wumb.org/home/index.php

Back to the Cold War with Tom Leher --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TomLehrerMP3.htm

From NPR
'Missa Solemnis,' a Divine Bit of Beethoven (these are terrific) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5202103
(Scroll down for samples)

From NPR
Top Jazz Artists --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4565717

New from Jesse
My Heart Will Go On --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/heartgoon.htm
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on.
Then scroll back to the top for the picture and menu.

From NPR
Indie Labels Take a Risk, and Win, with Musicals --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5187068
(Scroll down for samples, some from Broadway musicals)


Photographs and Art

Mother of All Art History Links --- http://www.art-design.umich.edu/mother/

U.K National Gallery --- http://snipurl.com/UKNationalGallery

Treasures of the National Gallery --- http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/museum/

Some of the Most Visited Galleries Last Year --- http://vision.info.bg/

Peter O'Rourke Photography --- http://www.peterorourke.com/

How They Rebuilt Stonehenge --- http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicstonehenge.htm

ArtLex Art Dictionary --- http://www.artlex.com/

Snow Crystals from Caltech --- http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/photos/photos.htm

Rosala Viking Center --- http://www.rosala-viking-centre.com/english.htm

Rene Asmussen Photography--- http://www.asmussenfoto.dk/start.html

Pablo Picasso's The Tragedy --- http://www.nga.gov/feature/picasso/

Edvard Munch (Painter) --- http://www.edvard-munch.com/

Laura den Hertog Galleries (reminds me of Andrew Wyeth) --- http://www.lauradenhertog.com/Lauradenhertog.com/Laura_den_Hertog_.html

Andrew Wyeth Online --- http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/wyeth_andrew.html

Roi James --- http://www.roijames.com/

Smithsonian Magazine --- http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/

Billie Holiday Photo Gallery --- http://www.cmgww.com/music/holiday/

Katherine Dinger Paintings --- http://div.dyndns.org/art/new.html
 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Literature.org Online Literature Library --- http://www.literature.org/authors/

eText Archives --- http://www.etext.org/index.shtml

ArtLex Art Dictionary --- http://www.artlex.com/

Celt Corpus Electronic Books --- http://www.ucc.ie/celt/publishd.html

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776) --- http://geolib.pair.com/smith.adam/woncont.html

Haiku (Computer) Error Messages --- http://www.strangeplaces.net/weirdthings/haiku.html

Holocaust Timeline (denied in Iran) --- http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/timeline.html
Deadly Medicine (not a recommended site for children) --- http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/deadlymedicine/

Holocaust Memorial Museum --- http://www.ushmm.org/

The Beast in the Jungle, by Henry James (1843-1916) (one of my favorites) --- Click Here

Washington Square by Henry James (1843 - 1916) --- Click Here

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll (1832 -1898) --- Click Here

3D Murder Mystery --- http://www.murdermystery.com/vrml/

Mystery stories online --- http://www.mysterynet.com/

Love Poems of Rumi --- http://www.khamush.com/love_poems.html

Letters to a Young Poet --- http://www.sfgoth.com/~immanis/rilke/letter1.html

Smithsonian Magazine --- http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/

Mankiw’s Ten Principles of Economics, Translated by Yoram Bauman, University of Washington --- http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume9/v9i2/mankiw.html

Accountancy Magazine in the U.K. (not free) --- http://www.accountancymag.co.uk/
Journal of Accountancy in the U.S. (free) --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/joahome.htm





San Antonio's New and Long-Lasting Motto
The shortest distance between (any) two points is under construction.
Noelie Altito

Does "anal (-) retentive" have a hyphen?
Editorial question on a bumper sticker

Avoid alliterations always
Editorial advice on a bumper sticker

Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing.
Bernard Baruch (1870-1965) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Baruch

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserved their neutrality.
Dante Alighieri, Devine Comedy

Some Say, Mrs. Clinton Is No Mr. Clinton
Raymond Hernandez, New York Times --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/13/politics/13hillary.htm?_r=1&oref=slogin

This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
Albert Einstein (1879 -1955) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

One consequence of traumatic violence is that it isolates its victims. It can cut us off from other people, cutting us off from their own emotional lives until we go numb and move through the world as if only half alive. As a young person, I found something to set against my growing sense of isolation and numbness: the making of poems. When I write a poem, I process experience. I take what's inside me -- the raw, chaotic material of feeling or memory -- and translate it into words and then shape those words into the rhythmical language we call a poem. This process brings me a kind of wild joy. Before I was powerless and passive in the face of my confusion, but now I am active: the powerful shaper of my experience. I am transforming it into a lucid meaning.
Gregory Orr (University of Virginia Poet), "The Making of Poems," NPR, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5221496

I believe that the highest promise of technology is to end war, feed the hungry and make life on earth more fulfilling. While you're waiting for that, enjoy the second-highest promise of technology -- the ability to buy "Dogbert" merchandise while sitting on your ass.
Scott Adams (author of the great Dilbert cartoons)

My business cards have said "engineer" for several years, but that's mostly to impress women.
Scott Adams
Jensen Comment
I discovered that putting "Accountant" on your business card is counter productive)

Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go it's one of the best.
Woody Allen




How to recall the names of your students
"What’s Your Name Again?" by Mary McKinney, Inside Higher Ed, February 13, 2006  --- http://www.insidehighered.com/workplace/2006/02/13/mckinney


DVD Burners That Do More
Let's face it: DVD burners are now ubiquitous, and it's harder than ever to tell internal drives apart. But by their very nature, external drives have always had a little more room for differentiation. And the latest crop of external models to cross my desk is no exception. Two recent drives from LG Electronics and Sony share the ability to capture video as well as to burn standard data and video discs. A third drive, from Lite-On, offers unique buttons for dubbing data to disc, rather than relying solely on burning software to do the job as conventional models do. The idea of adding video inputs to a burner isn't new--Hewlett-Packard, Iomega, and Sony have all released drives that do this. The new LG and Sony models, however, show a new attention to design and function that represents a clear evolution from those earlier attempts. Plus, prices are now significantly lower.
Melissa J. Perenson, "Burners That Do More: These three external drives aren't just DVD burners." PC World via The Washington Post, February 15, 2006 --- Click Here


Double your drive space. Delete Windows
Bumper Sticker

"Ten Reasons to Buy Windows Vista," PhysOrg, February 19, 2006 --- http://weblog.physorg.com/news5028.html


Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling:  Women Making Strides in Public Accounting Careers
Women now account for 19 percent of all public accounting firm partners, up from 12 percent a decade ago, according to a new study by the American Institute of CPAs . . . Many CPA firms are moving beyond the up-or-out philosophy of the past. They recognize that choosing an alternative career path is often a solution for some individuals to help them cope with children, aging parents or other issues. The study reported, however, that only 38 percent of the firms surveyed offered some kind of alternative career path that does not lead to partner, such as choosing to stay as a senior manager or moving into an area like recruiting that is less client service driven.
"AICPA: Women Making Strides in Public Accounting," SmartPros, February 22, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x51887.xml

Among the other findings of the study, included in the committee's report were:
  • Women are gravitating to smaller firms where the trend of their advancement is more pronounced and where they represent 47 percent of the workforce compared to 40 percent at larger firms.
  • There is a gender gap in the desire for partnership. Among senior managers only 41 percent of women as opposed to 65 percent of men expressed the desire to become a partner. 
  • Female professionals are less likely to be aware of networking opportunities, leadership development programs and practice development training. 
  • Men in the CPA profession are becoming as interested in, and as affected by, work/life policies as women. This is part of a wider, national trend that is becoming stronger.
  • CPA firms that focus on the personal needs of their professional staff are seeing productivity gains because motivated employees reciprocate by nurturing the firm's valued client base.
  • Among CPAs in business and industry the two most cited reasons for leaving public accounting were working conditions (schedules, hours, assignments) and work/life issues.

The 80-page report is available as a PDF document from the AICPA Web Site:
http://www.aicpa.org/members/div/career/wofi/research.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


Mac Attacks:  Just wishful thinking at Microsoft and Dell?
All the Mac viruses and security holes in the news are overblown. They're news only because of their novelty, not the threat they pose.

Leander Kahney, "Mac Attack a Load of Crap," Wired News, February 22, 2006 ---
http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70257-0.html?tw=wn_index_5
Brian Krebs of The Washington Post on February 22, 2006 thinks it's more serious than that --- Click Here

Mac Attack on Web Sites:
Two busy Web sites that focus on Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system went silent Friday, just days after they featured links to information on how to hack the software and run it on non-Apple PCs. The OSx86 Project Web site stated Apple had served it with a notice on Thursday citing violations of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the site was reviewing all of its discussion forum postings as a result. The site has always aimed to adhere to copyright laws and is working with Apple to ensure no violations exist, according to a statement by the site administrator. The other Web site, Win2OSX.net, was completely shut down. Administrators there could not be immediately reached for comment.
"Mac Attack on Web Sites:  Citing possible copyright violations, Apple has served notice on two user web sites," MIT's Technology Review, February 21, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/TR/wtr_16394,323,p1.html


A free service lets you record a podcast by calling a toll-free telephone number and speaking into a voicemail-style recording tool --- http://www.gcast.com/?nr=1&&s=54541642

"GCast: Super-Easy Podcasting," Monkey Bites, February 21, 2006 --- http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/ 

Here's a site for anyone who's considered podcasting but balked because of technical issues or lack of hardware. It's called GCast, and it's a free service that lets you record your podcast by calling a toll-free telephone number and speaking into a voicemail-style recording tool. They also offer free hosting, browser-based mixing tools, and podcast-safe music downloads. Another cool feature is GCast's embeddable player, which is featured on their home page. The little player, which you can drop into any page, has a short description of your audio content as well as a play/pause button that lets people start listening without leaving the page.

Podcasting 101

Bob Jensen's threads on podcasting and links to university lecture podcasts are at
http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#ResourceDescriptionFramework


Question
How can you get a quick estimate of the value of a home in the United States?

Answer --- http://www.zillow.com/   (This was forwarded by Auntie Bev.)
Jensen Comment
This site does not cover some parts of the U.S. For example, it had no data for my zip code in a remote part of New Hampshire.

Also see "What's your home worth? Get a 'Zestimate'," CNN, February 8, 2006 ---  http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/08/real_estate/money_zillow/index.htm

 

MIT Economists to Unveil Index On U.S. Commercial Property
After two years of intensive number-crunching, a group of MIT economists are expected to unveil today an index that they believe better compares the performance of commercial real estate to other investments like stocks and bonds. Initial results show that in 2005, total returns on U.S. commercial real-estate holdings reached 34%, the highest in the 22 years tracked by MIT. Price changes accounted for 29 percentage points of that return and property income accounted for the remainder. Last year's performance was the strongest since 1997, when average investment returns were about 23%. In contrast, the total return in 2005 for the Standard & Poor's index of 500 publicly traded companies was 4.9%; the average total return for hedge-fund accounts was about 7.61%, according to CSFB/Tremont's Hedge Fund Index. The total return on the Lehman Brothers Govt/Credit Bond Index was 2.37% in 2005. The 34% total return on commercial real estate last year was nearly as high as the record total return of 37% achieved in 1995 by the S&P 500.
Christine Haughney, "MIT Economists to Unveil Index On U.S. Commercial Property," The Wall Street Journal,  February 22, 2006; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114057979399979867.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

Bob Jensen's bookmarks on economic statistics are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#EconStatistics


Consumer World (a great resource site) --- http://www.consumerworld.org/

Consumer Review --- http://www.consumerreview.com/channels/consumerreview/data/main/index.html

FirstGov for Consumers --- http://www.consumer.gov/

Consumer Search --- http://www.consumersearch.com/index.html

Consumer Reports (not free) --- http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/

Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm

Bob Jensen's shopping helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm


Lemon Law America (Choose Where You Live) --- http://www.lemonlawamerica.com/

Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm


Hotel Heists: Beware of nuisance hotel fees --- http://www.smartmoney.com/dealoftheday/index.cfm?story=20060213

INSTEAD OF LAYING A chocolate on your pillow, many hotels have decided to present you with a markedly more unwelcome treat: sneaky fees that can easily increase your bill by 20% . . . Charges have become a common way to bolster revenues while keeping advertised room rates low, says Robert Mandelbaum, director of research for PKF Consulting, a hotel-industry research firm. "Surcharges of one degree or another have been in the industry awhile now," he says. "It looks better than raising the room rates." Surcharges also tend to move in cycles, says Mandelbaum. "It's supply and demand," he explains. "If you want a room in a market like Manhattan, with an 85% occupancy rate, you basically have to pay whatever the hotel wants you to." In slower markets and off-seasons, hotels are less likely to tack on fees because there's more competition for guests.
"Hotel Heists," by Kelli B. Grant, Smart Money, February 13, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on rental car tax rip offs and other consumer frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm


What do mittens have to do with stroke recovery?
News from WebMD
--- http://www.webmd.com/


What's poetry all about?
Ted Kooser, the nation's poet laureate, has been traveling around the country talking to librarians, school children and other groups about poetry. One of his stops was in Kansas City, Mo., where he led a workshop with some of Hallmark's greeting card writers.
"Hallmark Writers Get Advice from Poet Laureate," NPR, February 22, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5226792
Jensen Comment
Ted Kooser is the author of The Poetry Home Repair Manual --- http://unp.unl.edu/bookinfo/4864.html

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Delights & Shadows

"Ted Kooser could be mistaken for an average guy except for one thing: He writes poetry. That activity sets him apart from most of his neighbors, since they, like most Americans, have very little time for the stuff. A resident of Nebraska and the first U.S. poet laureate from the Great Plains, Mr. Kooser takes a broadly inclusive approach to promoting poetry; even so, he harbors no illusions about its becoming the national pastime anytime soon. Mr. Kooser captures this outsider-status neatly in The Poetry Home Repair Manual, his guide to aspiring poets and aspiring readers of verse. . . . [P]oetry is a tough sell these days. . . . But that only makes a smart and readable poetry guide all the more welcome, and needed."—David Yezzi, The Wall Street Journal.

"With The Poetry Home Repair Manual, he turns to teaching us what poetry is about, Kooser-style. Much of it appeals. His attitude that 'poetry is communication' is refreshing in an era when so many poets seem to be babbling to themselves, giving us pages ripped out of their narcissistic diaries. . . . As might be expected, Kooser's advice is practical, down-home. . . . Kooser is a fine free-verser, and the biases of his book show it."—Cynthia Haven, San Francisco Chronicle.

"When Nebraska's Ted Kooser was named poet laureate for the Library of Congress last fall, certain quarters of the literary establishment responded with a resounding, Huh? Poets on both coasts scratched their heads, admitting they had never heard of Kooser. It is to be hoped they now have. With Kooser, the middle of the country and Nebraska have triumphed over the self-concerned coasts. Many of his poems involve closely observed Midwestern scenes, their artistry a way of surviving and even enjoying the world. Though Kooser eschews the egotism of many contemporary poets, he is as distinctive a voice as any now at work, a master of metaphor and the short poem. . . . Kooser's book is quietly witty and iconoclastic, with valuable advice. . . . He presents a whole stance toward writing in the context of living one's life. The Poetry Home Repair Manual is brief, lucid, and often remarkably wise."—David Mason, The Weekly Standard.

"Comings and goings, what is there and what isn't, and the possibilities drawn from personal exploration shape the landscapes in Kooser's poetry. This is not an extended, complex, or experimental kind of writing, but a poetry that rings true, allowing the human sound of being to exist on the page. Its brevity is a launching pad for a simplicity that contains mortal lessons whose language changes the reader. This sense of transformation could be the theme of The Poetry Home Repair Manual. It is not a how-to book or a grand manifesto about poetic tradition. This lively and trim book is Kooser's gift to readers and writers of poetry. . . . The value of this book lies in the way Kooser encourages writers to be real about their expectations, their work, and the fact that the world is not waiting for their poems. . . . Kooser is a poet whose triumphs and tragedies become our own, not to shed their weight upon us but to allow us to revel in the process by which the imagination and the mysteries of poetry make our humanity everyone's horizon."—Bloomsbury Review.

Continued in article


Question
What percent of the Web searches are via Google?

Answer --- About 55%, but not in Germany
"Google Grabs Half of Booming Web Search Market," by Antone Gonsalves, InternetWeek, February 9, 2006 --- http://www.internetweek.cmp.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=179102746

Google removes BMW's German website from search index
Internet search giant Google said it had removed the German website of German auto maker BMW, www.bmw.de , from its search index after it allegedly discovered attempts to artificially boost the popularity ranking of the site on Google's search engine.
"Google removes BMW's German website from search index," PhysOrg, February 6, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news10591.html

Also see http://weblog.physorg.com/news4818.html


Question
Does blogging hurt my chances for advancement?

"Serious Bloggers," by Jeff Rice, Inside Higher Ed, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/02/20/rice

In several online educational columns, various blog posts, department meetings, and graduate education advice, we repeatedly hear the dangers of blogging. Blogging will ruin your career! Blogging will prevent you from getting a job! Blogging will ... fill in the blank. In a 2005 Chronicle of Higher Education column that received widespread attention from online readers, blogging critic “Ivan Tribble” argued that openly sharing one’s views or one’s life with the world can only have detrimental consequences for aspiring educators. Tribble wrote: “The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one’s unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world? It’s not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it’s also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.”

Too many academic bloggers have taken Tribble and similar commentaries seriously. Technorati, the blog search engine, lists 264 weblogs linking to (and one assumes commenting on as well) the initial Tribble column. It’s not a trivial number considering the small amount of academic bloggers writing and the even smaller number of humanities-academic bloggers on the Web. The latter was the focus of Tribble’s diatribe. Tribble’s intense reading is not alone nor the anomaly. Most notable among other warnings regarding blogging is Forbes magazine’s October 2005 cover story “Attack of the Blogs.” Written by Daniel Lyons, the essay transformed blogging into an economic heavyweight whose influence far exceeds normal market and political forces. Beware of the blogs, Lyons cautioned. They will destroy your business!

More worrisome than this trepidation over blogging (i.e. whether these warnings are accurate or not), however, is the general seriousness that has immediately encased a fairly novel form of writing. By “seriousness,” I don’t mean the investments and concern we place in our work; instead I note the over-hyped heaviness centered on this one particular type of writing. That heaviness can be overbearing. It turns online writing into either an obligation or a burden; either way, writers act as if they are trapped in this medium they have chosen to work in. The two brief examples I just alluded to are not the only attributes of the seriousness weblogging evokes. A quick glance at Inside Higher Ed’s “Around the Web” section reveals a majority of blogs linked to whose writers are identifiable only by pseudonyms: Wanna Be Ph.D, Angry Professor, Anonymous Professor, La Lecturess.

These “names” do not reflect the general tendency in digital culture to adopt alter-egos (as in hip hop culture) nor do they reflect the altering of one’s name for easier and more likable recognition (as in Hollywood screen names) nor the postmodern play of identity (as in Philip Roth’s novels). Instead, these names re-enforce the burden of seriousness which has overtaken academic blogging. Writing a blog under a pseudonym is usually an argument that the only safe way for an academic to write publicly is to write anonymously. Our thoughts about students, grades, internal policy and even our private lives and interests can never be revealed to our colleagues or future colleagues or we risk losing all we have worked so hard for! As one anonymous writer states about her decision to stop blogging: “The only reason I’m in this predicament is because I’ve been terrified of people knowing who I am. As much as I’ve dealt with my ‘real’ identity being revealed to a few people, I’ve also been really afraid of the consequences of being a ‘real’ person in the blogosphere. And so, I thought, maybe the solution is to come out — to just write under my “real” name, to tell people in my real life that I blog. As I thought about it more, however, it seemed to me that to write under that name is no solution, ultimately, because it would limit my writing here in the opposite direction.”

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on blogging are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Weblog


Paul Pacter sent me a DVD disk that he made from his digital photographs in Malta. It plays like a video with constantly changing transition effects and background music. This is good stuff!

ArcSoft DVD SlideShow™ --- http://www.arcsoft.com/products/dvdslideshow/?l=p
Three steps is all it really takes for you to make your very own DVD movie on your computer. Add your content, design your movie menu, and burn your disc. It’s that simple. Plus, check out all the extra features:

  • Create photo slide shows complete with transitions, music and text
  • Choose from over 50 professional menu background designs
  • Apply any photo or graphic as a menu background
  • Import video files
    Add professional "Pan & Zoom" effects to your slides
  • Use MP3s as background music for menus and slide shows
  • Position menu buttons and text anywhere on the menu
  • Make DVD and VCDs for playback on TV and computers
  • Touch up, crop and text to the photos in your slide shows

February 12, 2006 message from Paul Pacter (CN - Hong Kong) [paupacter@deloitte.com.hk]

Bob,

I just mailed you, from Hong Kong to Trinity, several of the DVDs I made with ARCSoft DVD Slideshow software, in NTSC (USA) format. They should arrive in a week or so. I'm quite satisfied with the DVDs that this software produces. Very intuitive -- but I add these hints (assuming you acquire the software):

At start, click "create DVD" "create new slideshow". If you save and later edit, then "edit existing slideshow."

Step 1 "add images" - point and click.

  • a. Be sure to tick "apply pan and zoom to all" box.
  • b. Whichever photo you want to be the "menu" item click on "check mark" on top toolbar. Does not have to be first slide in sequence.
  • c. Click on any slide to add text. Good idea to bold, shadow the text. 18-20 point type is fine. Put type only in centre, because depending on pan and/or zoom some type near the edges may be lost.
  • d. Can drag slides to change sequence.
  •  e. I'd say 150 to 200 slides max per slideshow. You can have more than one slideshow on a DVD.
  • f. One quirk of the software: When adding images, if you put in, say, slides 1 to 10, then add slides 11 to 20 as a batch, when adding 11-20 it will add them 20 then 11 to 19. I don't know why. You need to drag 20 to its proper position. Also note that it will add the slides in the place following your cursor (which shows as a highlighted frame of a slide).

Then click "next".

For transitions, the default is all fades. I prefer "all transitions random" (top choice immediately above the default).

Select music. It will tell you how long the music you chose is, and how long the slideshow is (depends on slide duration you choose -- I like 7 seconds). I usually click on synch music to slideshow length if the two are close. That way, the music fades out at last slide.

Title of slideshow you put in top left box will become the menu title as well.

Step 2 "design"

You can put music on main menu page here (this is in addition to the music during slideshows).

If you have more than one slideshow on a DVD each will have menu item here. You can drag drop menu items around.

It will allow up to six slideshows on the menu page. If you have more than six it will automatically add an arrow to a second menu page, and put a back arrow on the second page back to the first.

Step 3 "produce"

On installation software should have recognised your DVD writer. Name will show up here.

Be sure to select PAL or NTSC (USA is NTSC).

When you click burn, it will take 30-40 minutes to create the DVD image file and write the DVD. It will then ask if you want to write another. Each additional DVD you burn (without exiting) should take 4-5 minutes or less.

Three final points:

1. On the DVD will be the actual .jpg files of each slide, which can be copied as Windows files.

2. When someone plays the DVD and starts with the first menu item (first slideshow), it will automatically continue to play all other slideshows. Menu allows you to begin with a middle slideshow if you wish.

3. ARCSoft DVD Slideshow will create and save a slideshow file which has pointers to the original jpg's. It does not actually re-save the jpg's a second time on your hard disk. The downside of this is that if, after saving a slideshow, you move the underlying jpg files to another directory, you will lose the slideshow. Same is true for the music files.

You can download a trial version of the software from the ARCSoft site. If you decide to buy and install the retail version (which is on sale for $38), I recommend uninstalling the trial version first.

Paul

Jensen
Of course it helps to be a great photographer. Paul is a pro. I'm as amateur as one can get, but I do have a lot of pictures.

Paul's great pictures taken in China are at www.whencanyou.com

February 20, 2006 message from Paul Pacter (CN - Hong Kong) [paupacter@deloitte.com.hk]

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the nice comment on my photos. By the way, Malta is an extraordinary little country, with a 4,000 year history including Neolithic sites rivalling Stonehenge, Roman statues and mosaics, Arab (Maltese language is a kind of Arabic with English characters), Knights (fortifications everywhere), French (briefly), and British. The entire city of Valetta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fishing villages are centuries old. Everyone speaks English too!

My website: www.whencanyou.com 

In January I taught a class of 3rd graders about China at a Florida public elementary school using lots of photos, mostly illustrating US-Chinese cultural and social differences and similarities (the Chinese McDonalds menu and food photos were a big hit, as were street food stalls selling skewered scorpions and squids, and squat toilets). On my www.whencanyou.com website you will see a link at top left called "Flat Stanley" which is the international school geography project resulting in my lecture in Florida. The little girl I superimposed in several of the photos is the one who is especially interested in China.

Warm regards,

Paul

 


"Advanced Yes, Placement No," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/20/ap

This month, College Board officials released the latest data on the Advanced Placement program, noting record increases in the numbers of students taking AP courses and scoring well enough on the exams to get college credit. The AP program saves students “time and tuition,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. The Bush administration is climbing on the AP bandwagon as well, calling for more students to take the courses in high school.

There’s just one problem, according to research presented Friday in St. Louis at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: AP courses — whatever their merits — may be poor substitutes for college courses in the sciences.

The study looked at 18,000 students in introductory biology, chemistry and physics courses in college. The students were at 63 randomly selected four-year colleges and universities and their performance in the courses was correlated to various factors. The researchers found that students who had taken AP courses — even those who had done well on the AP exams — did only marginally better than students who had not taken AP courses. Other factors, such as the rigor of mathematics taken in high school, were found to have a strong impact on whether students did well in college-level work in the sciences

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Can a student change your grade file?
A University of Utah student was indicted last week on federal charges of hacking his professor’s computer to change a grade, the Associated Press reported
Inside Higher Ed, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/20/qt


How to recognize and avoid tax scams

This is a reminder to beware of email messages informing you that you are eligible for a tax refund.

 I got such a phishing message a few days ago claiming my refund would be $63.80.

 If you want to inquire about your legitimate request for a tax refund, go to
http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96596,00.html

 To find out about how to recognize and avoid tax scams go to
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=106788,00.html


Question
Is it wise to advise older widows, widowers, and divorcees to live in sin?

Answer: Probably Yes!

"Senior Marriage Penalty," AccountingWeb, February 8, 2006 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101758

“It’s galling that they have a marriage penalty for seniors, when they’ve addressed it for everyone else,” Lonell Spencer, a 77-year-old retiree from Arcadia, Connecticut, told the Hartford Courant. The penalty he’s referring to is the tax on Social Security income, which applies to every dollar of income over $32,000 for married couples, compared to $25,000 for a single taxpayer. Recent efforts to eliminate marriage penalties for most married taxpayers have not significantly affected married seniors because the taxable income threshold is only slightly higher for couples than it is for singles. Further, the median family income for those over 50 is $35,200, according to AARP’s annual report, The State of 50+ America, indicating that more than half the families would be subject to the Social security income tax if one or more family members are receiving Social Security benefits.

For nearly 50 years, Social Security benefits were tax-free; then in 1983 the rules were changed because the Social Security system was underfunded. Since then, while inflation adjustments have more than doubled the standard deduction and personal exemption write-offs, the tax on income from Social Security benefits has not been adjusted for inflation. If it had been, the Hartford Courant reports, then the threshold would be $50,000. Instead, the tax actually begins accelerating at $44,000 for married couples. According to The State of 50+ America,the real income of those over 50 has not increased since 1999. In fact, real income for 2004, the last period for which The State of 50+ America collected data, is actually lower than the real income levels of 1999.

The issue is not just about taxing Social Security benefits. The law was intended to tax “high income” taxpayers but increasingly affects middle-income seniors, the Fresno Bee reports. The State of 50+ America found that more than half the income of 50.1 percent of Americans over 62 comes from sources other than Social Security. In addition, the financial assets of those over 65, adjusted for inflation, increased by 94 percent between 1992 and 2004, and more Americans over 50 are employed, The State of 50+ America reports.

Unlike other “marriage penalties,” the senior marriage penalty has not received much attention. That is likely to change as baby boomers reach retirement age and get caught by the tax, Mark Luscombe, principal tax analyst for CCH, a Wolters Kluwer company, told the Fresno Bee. A search of the AARP web site however, indicates that either the issue has not yet become a significant issue to boomers or that it has not been incorporated into the organization’s lobbying efforts to date.

Advise married couples to stay married!

"The Marriage Effect on Wealth," AccountingWeb, February 14, 2006 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101773

“If you really want to increase your wealth, get married and stay married,” says Jay Zagorsky, a research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research and author of a new nationwide study on the effect of marriage and divorce on a person’s wealth. “On the other hand, divorce can devastate your wealth.” The study, which used data from 13 of the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth conducted between 1985 and 2000, found that single people experienced a slow, steady increase of wealth. Couples who married see their wealth increase by more than just the sum of the wealth of two single people. Conversely, couples that divorce, see a decrease in wealth that exceeds the value of splitting their assets in half.

According to the study, singles saw their wealth grow from less than $2,000 at the start of the surveys to an average of about $11,000 after 15 years.

Married couples experienced a sharp increase in wealth just after marriage. Their wealth continues to grow to an average of about $43,000 by their tenth anniversary. Just being married, the study found, increases wealth about 4 percent annually, with all other factors held constant.

Wealth begins declining about four years before divorce, with total wealth bottoming out at an average of $3,500 the year before divorce.

“Many of these people may have separated before the divorce became official, which would help explain why wealth starts falling so early,” Zagorsky says. “Some people may also be working less and not trying as hard to build wealth as they have marriage troubles. Divorce is often a long and messy process, and you can see this in the four-year decline in wealth.”

Although the study indicates that in absolute dollars divorce is not significantly harder on women than men, it also reveals that the effects are long lasting. Wealth does begin to rebuild after divorce, but not by much.

“Even a decade after divorce, the median wealth stays below $10,000,” says Zagorsky.

The data does can’t explain why marriage is so helpful to wealth-building. Sociologists hypothesize that the fact that two people can live more cheaply than singles and have someone to share household responsibilities with may play a factor. Of course, people going through a divorce have a number of expenses associated with that, which may partially explain the drop in wealth.

“We can't tell from these data the reasons why divorced people have so much less wealth than those who are married,” Zagorsky states, “but the results are clear.”

Bob Jensen's tax helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation


The route to success in science: Make it politically incorrect
In the high-stakes world of science fairs, there is an increasing sense among students and educators that the best route to a prize is to delve into politically charged subjects. In Columbus, Ohio, one junior says she can track global-warming effects with a computer model. A 17-year-old in Portland, Ore., is facing off against the intelligent-design movement by wrapping his RNA research around evolution. Elsewhere, students are tackling everything from stem-cell research and avian flu to genetically modified food and abortion.
Ellen Gamerman, "The Politically Incorrect Science Fair:  Stem cells, global warming, intelligent design. Looking for a leg up, kids turn to trendy topics," The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2006; Page P1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114020616284677206.html?mod=todays_us_pursuits


Question
How do I delete my deleted files on a computer so that they can't be recovered by anyone else?

Answer from Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/mossberg_mailbox.html

When a file is deleted on a computer, the actual contents of the file aren't immediately wiped out or overwritten. They can still be recovered by an expert, or even a mainstream user with the right software. To completely delete a file, you need a utility that overwrites the space on your hard disk formerly occupied by the files with multiple layers of nonsense data.

On a Mac, this function is built as an optional deletion method. On a Windows PC, you need to obtain an add-on program that does this. The best one I've tried is Window Washer from Webroot, available for $30 at webroot.com. It has multiple functions, but the one you need is the "bleaching" function, which permanently erases files.


Question
If your cell phone is lost how can your recover your recorded contacts and other information without having this data also backed up on a computer?

"A Simple Way to Back Up Cellphone Contacts:  Pocket-Size Device Doesn't Need a Computer to Work; A Mix-Up With Pictures," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2006; Page D11 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/the_mossberg_solution.html

Cellphones keep getting sleeker and smaller, which means they are also getting easier to lose or misplace. For instance, Motorola's latest model, the SLVR, is so thin and light, you'd hardly notice if it slipped out of your pocket or purse.

And, of course, losing your cellphone can be a disaster, because it contains your address book. In fact, it often contains the only copy of your address book. Except for a few smart phones, like the Palm Treo, most cellphone models -- especially the small ones that are easiest to lose -- don't synchronize with your computer to back up data.

So, how can you back up your data to protect against losing your phone?

. . .

But this week, we took a look at a new product from Spark Technology Corp. in San Jose, Calif., that eliminates the need for a computer altogether: CellStik. This $40 product is a pocket-size USB thumb drive with a cellphone adapter on one end and a USB adapter on the other. By plugging the phone adapter into your cellphone and pressing a button on the CellStik, you can have your contacts backed up on the device in just seconds -- problem solved.

In our tests, we found CellStik to be a smart solution that really works, and it's about as easy to use as possible. We did have one problem with it, but that was relatively minor compared with the potential loss of all your contact data when a phone goes missing.

While CellStik doesn't require a computer, it can optionally be used with one. The USB end of each CellStik can be plugged into a Windows PC, so you can view and edit your backed-up contacts via a simple software program. You can then unplug the CellStik and reattach it to your phone, uploading any changes.

In addition to backing up your phone's data, CellStiks can be used to transfer contacts from an old phone to a new one, but you may need to buy a separate CellStik for each phone if they differ in manufacturer or connector type, and use a PC as an intermediate device.

Six versions of the CellStik are currently available for about 70 different models of Motorola, LG and Samsung cellphones, and Spark hopes to introduce CellStiks for Sanyo, Sony Ericsson and Nokia this spring. CellStiks can be purchased online at www.sparktech.com  and Amazon or at retail stores including Fry's Electronics and J&R Electronics.

Continued in article


"ESPN Cell Phone Has Great Sports Content But Many Trade-Offs," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal,  February 16, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html

I've been testing the new ESPN Mobile service and its first phone, called the Sanyo MVP. In general, I liked the elaborate package of sports news and information that lies at the heart of the new venture, which can only be accessed via ESPN phones and the ESPN service -- not through traditional carriers, even Sprint.

But I encountered some glitches and problems, including missing features. And to my amazement, I discovered the phone's Web browser goes only to sites approved by ESPN. I can't imagine anyone other than the most hard-core sports addict going through the hassle of switching phones and carriers to sign up with ESPN, especially since the new company's prices seem to be on the high side.

Continued in article


"McDonald's French Fries Contain Possible Allergens Wheat, Milk," by David P. Hamilton, The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2006; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113961770739171339.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace


Rent a Panda? No thanks!
The Chinese are making $80 million a year from their American panda rental business. Dennis Kelly, the head of Atlanta zoo, says that if negotiations to cut the fees fail the animals will be declared panda non grata --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1577511/posts
 


Slice and dice your lectures for replay time
Psychology students and fans of Apple's popular iPod can now listen and learn at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Calvin Garbin is one of the first instructors at the university to harness iPod's versatility and use it as an educational tool. "For 30 years, I've said if I could just touch my forehead to theirs and pass on the information ..." Garbin said. "This technology, to me, is an approximation of that."  . . . Garbin uses a wireless microphone hooked to his shirt to record the 50-minute lecture, then downloads the recording onto his computer. He cuts the lecture into short audio chunks and puts it on his Web site for downloading. Students confused about certain parts of the lecture can click on a link and listen again. And podcasting makes studying for tests easier for those students who are auditory learners, Garbin said.
"Neb. Professor Uses IPod for Lectures," Yahoo News, February 6, 2006 ---
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/06/AR2006020601295.html?referrer=email

Bob Jensen's threads on podcasting are at
http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#ResourceDescriptionFramework


Robertson v. Princeton may be the most important case higher education has faced
Robertson v. Princeton may be the most important case higher education has faced over the question of honoring the wishes of a donor. Should the Ivy League school lose, it would be an expensive blow. Swelled over time by investment gains, the Robertson fund now totals $650 million, or 6% of Princeton's $11 billion endowment. Princeton now ranks No. 1, tied with Harvard University, as the top American university in U.S. News & World Report's rankings. Its endowment is the highest per student of any major university in the country. U.S. colleges are receiving more donations than ever, about $24 billion a year. An increasing share comes from large donors, who often attach strings to their gifts that universities may come to regret. In 1995, Yale University returned a $20 million gift from Texas billionaire Lee Bass after the school was criticized for not implementing a curriculum on Western civilization that the gift specified.
John Hechinger and Daniel Golden, "Fight at Princeton Escalates Over Use Of a Family's Gift:  University Concedes Errors But Says It Upheld Intent Of Donors to Wilson School Son: 'We Have Been Mugged'," The Wall Street Journal,   February 7, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113927779413766787.html?mod=todays_us_page_one 


New Technology for Stopping Roadside Bombs New detection technology is helping in Iraq
The advanced technology of the U.S. military has so far met its match in Iraq in the form of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) triggered by garage-door openers, cell phones, and washing-machine timers. But this situation could be changing. New technology may make it easier to find explosives and bomb makers long before they can trigger a deadly roadside bomb. One device the U.S. military now uses in Iraq can detect TNT vapors through bomb casings and even in land mines buried six inches underground. At checkpoints, it can smell explosive residues on the skin of bomb makers -- even if they used gloves and washed their hands several times after working with TNT. Furthermore, a second generation of the detector, based on technology at least thirty times more sensitive, could be available within one to two years, says Aimee Rose, a research scientist at R&D firm Nomadics, who's working on the new device.
Kevin Bullis, "Stopping Roadside Bombs New detection technology is helping in Iraq," MIT's Technology Review, February 10, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/NanoTech/wtr_16310,303,p1.html


National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ---  http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ 


Narrowing the gulf between the Windows and Mac operating systems

"Travels With My Mac," by Arik Hesseldahl, Business Week, February 9, 2006 --- http://snipurl.com/BWfeb9


Big Brain Thinking
Scientists are learning volumes about the brain -- how it can make split-second decisions, how it learns from past mistakes, how it converts pulses of light into a complex visual scene. But, for some, deciphering the "language" of the electrical pulses that travel through our brains is only half the story. The second part, and one that is far more philosophical and complex, is how that brain activity translates into consciousness -- a person's self-awareness and perception of the world around them. Bill Newsome, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, has spent the last twenty years studying how neurons encode information and how they use it to make decisions about the world. In the 1990s, he and collaborators were able to change the way a monkey responded to its environment by sending electric jolts to certain parts of its brain. The findings gave neuroscientists enormous insight into the inner workings of the brain.
Emily Singer, "Big Brain Thinking:  Stanford neuroscientist Bill Newsome wants to implant an electrode in his brain to better understand human consciousness," MIT's Technology Review, February 13, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16325,306,p1.html


iPod Touchscreen:  Not for Fat Fingers
Apple is revamping the video iPod to use a touch-sensing screen instead of the familiar click wheel, a Mac enthusiast site says.
Antone Gonsalves, "Apple Reportedly Building Video iPod With Touch Screen," InternetWeek, February 10, 2006 --- http://www.internetweek.cmp.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=179102740


Question
What's a Christian porn site?

Answer
Darned if I know, but this one claims to be just that at XXXchurch.com --- http://www.xxxchurch.com/
(PS I found this link on a Wired News blog on February 19, 2006 --- http://blog.wired.com/sex/ )


Question
What's CDMA technology?

From The Washington Post on February 18, 2006

A joint venture between Nokia Corp. and Sanyo Electronic Corp. means that they will now control about 20 percent of the world's market for phones using CDMA technology. What is CDMA?

A. core digital multipe alignment
B. code division multiple access
C. control digital management access
D. control density media attention

Bob Jensen's technology glossary is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245gloss.htm


Economic Statistics from the Dismal Scientist --- http://www.economy.com/dismal/

Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#EconStatistics



Another solid reason to invest in Phizer: 
By 2050, Retirement age 'should reach 85'

From Jim Mahar's Blog on February 18, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Retirement age 'should reach 85' --- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4726300.stm

Yeah I know it is a science/nature article. But for a second think about the ramifications on social security and pensions etc.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Retirement age 'should reach 85': "The age of retirement should be raised to 85 by 2050 because of trends in life expectancy, a US biologist has said.

Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University says anti-ageing advances could raise life expectancy by a year each year over the next two decades.

That will put a strain on economies around the world if current retirement ages are maintained, he warned."
 


Money drives us crazy: it's official in brain chemistry

From Jim Mahar's Blog on February 17, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Money drives us crazy: it's official [February 09, 2006] --- http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,18084885%255E28737,00.html

Gee in a week where we spoke of behavorial finance in almost every class I taught, comes this:

The Australian: Money drives us crazy: it's official [February 09, 2006]:
"The pleasure of orgasm, the high from cocaine, the rush of buying Google at $US450 a share - the same neural network governs all three, Knutson, 38, concluded. What's more, our primal pleasure circuits can, and often do, override our seat of reason, the brain's frontal cortex, the professor says. In other words, stocks, like sex, sometimes drive us crazy.

Knutson says he knows how heretical his findings are. Wall Street is dedicated to the principle that when it comes to money, logic prevails,"

and then the wrap up from a Nobel Prize winner:

"This controversial field, called neurofinance, may represent the next great frontier on Wall Street, says Daniel Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics for his pioneering work in behavioural finance, which fuses classical economic theory and studies of human psychology. "The brain scientists are the wave of the future in the financial world,""


Blanchette did return to work at the college
Saint Anselm College, in New Hampshire, has reached an agreement with a former employee who sued the college, saying she was fired for changing genders. Gay & Lebian Advocates and Defenders, which represented Sarah Blanchette in the case, said that it had brought needed attention to issues of bias against transgendered employees. Blanchette, who was born a man, says she was fired by the college shortly after telling people of her plans to become a woman. Details of the settlement were not released, but a report in The Boston Globe said that Blanchette did return to work at the college.
Inside Higher Ed, February 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/10/qt
 


The Everybody-Gets-A-Trophy Mentality
Another event reminded me that the higher education version of a youth soccer league is not just at the student level. I recently heard a few administrators discussing a grant program for faculty aimed at improving teaching and learning. The conversation was such that I felt like I was listening to youth soccer coaches who proudly pass out participation trophies at the end of the season. There was less concern for identifying faculty who had written meritorious proposals and more concern for making sure every applicant gets a piece of the funding pie.
James Ricky Cox, "Earning Your Trophies (or Not),"  by James Ricky Cox, Inside Higher Ed, February 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/02/10/cox


Question
What nation drinks the most bottled water per capita?
Hint: It's not the U.S.

Answer

Top bottled water consumption per person in 2004 (litres) ---
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6E99656F-A27A-42AE-A1B7-B927A917A4A8.htm

01. Italy 183.6
02. Mexico 168.5
03. UAE 163.5
04. Belgium 148
05. France 141.6
06. Spain 136.7
07. Germany 124.9
08. Lebanon 101.4
09. Switzerland 99.6
10. Cyprus 92.0
Source: Earth Policy Institute

It added that the US was the largest consumer of bottled water, with Americans drinking 26 billion litres in 2004. Mexico came in second at 18 billion litres followed by China and Brazil at 12 billion each . . . "Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 US cars for a year," according to the study. "Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year." . . . The study, citing the Container Recycling Institute, said that 86% of plastic water bottles in the United States end up as rubbish and those buried can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade.
"Bottled water taxing Earth," Aljazeera, February 12, 2006 ---
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6E99656F-A27A-42AE-A1B7-B927A917A4A8.htm

Jensen Comment
I ran an earlier Tidbit about how bottled water is "inert water" lacking in the minerals of tap water. When tap water is free of harmful pollutants, as in most U.S. locales, it's healthier to drink than bottled water. In that case, I recommend that you carry plastic bottles filled with your own tap water.



If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Beatles' George Harrison, 1966 Taxman --- http://home.att.net/%7Echuckayoub/Taxman_Lyrics.html 

The University of Iowa Public Policy Center is conducting a major federally funded study to evaluate the public response to a mileage-based user charge (TAX-Ed).
The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2006
Jensen Comment
It would seem that the taxes on fuel that we now pay are mileage-based. Maybe the University of Iowa is intending to "tax your feet" and thereafter "your seat" and "the heat."


"Eight Tech Trends for 1006," Business Week, February 11, 2006 --- http://snipurl.com/TechTrends2006

The War for the Digital Home

Skirmishes between between PC makers and consumer-electronics outfits are already raging. Consumers will be the ultimate winners

Yahoo's Social Circle

In a bid to challenge search giant Google, the Web's most-used portal is betting on the wisdom of crowds

The Brave New World of Wireless

The nascent boom in next-gen wireless services promises increased sales for mobile outfits -- and stiff competition for a share of those revenues

Phones Above and Beyond the Call

The latest mobile devices aren't just conversation pieces. Check out the high-tech multimedia and communications functions they offer

Is the Web the New Hollywood?

The Internet is becoming a breeding ground for filmmakers and TV producers in both the indie-video and mainstream worlds

Coming to Your PC's Back Door: Trojans

These slick cyberattacks take aim at specific recipients to get past firewalls and gather sensitive data. And they're on the increase

They're Hiring in Techland

The tech job market has sprung back to life, and this year could be the best one since 2000

A Monster Year for Game Consoles

The Xbox 360 has grabbed an early lead, increasing the pressure on Redmond's rivals to roll out their own redesigns. And what about the new Cell chip?

Mister Vista's Perspective

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore talks up the soon-to-be-released operating system. Security and reliability, he insists, will see big gains

Jensen Comment
It appears Vista might be released by Microsoft in December 2006 (may be the Grinch that steals Christmas)


What mum needs is a new man
Feminism changed women but it did not change enough men - enough. And without men's transformation, it was always going to be a hard slog for mothers to gain equality. Workplaces have progressed haltingly in the 40 years since Friedan's The Feminine Mystique became one of the most influential books of the 20th century. But in the home, the lives of most men and women with children have hardly shifted. And so it is disquieting, but not unsurprising, to see the data reported by NATSEM, the economic modelling centre at the University of Canberra, showing young mothers' withdrawal from work. In 1990, 58.7 per cent of partnered mothers aged 25 to 34 were in the workforce; by 2003, this had declined to 52.4 per cent. For partnered mothers aged 35 to 44, a similar slide is evident - from 75.5 per cent participation to 70.6 per cent.
"What mum needs is a new man," Sydney Morning Herald, February 11, 2006 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2006/02/10/1139542401143.html


Marriage and Divorce:  Bare Knuckle Negotiation

"Book Ends:  Before you leave your spouse, leaf through these volumes," by Raoul Felder, The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110007955

1. "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu.

Women entering the divorce wars would do well to worry less about Feng Shui and more about Sun Tzu. An impressive blueprint for battlefield victory, this ancient Chinese military treatise addresses, with marvelous succinctness, matters like the importance of vision, discipline and planning--all of which also happen to be central to the outcome of divorce-court warfare. As Sun Tzu observes, much warfare is based on deception: "When about to attack, we must seem unable." But the book's most telling message may be that to fight and conquer is not supreme excellence. Rather, supreme excellence lies in the capacity to "break the enemy's resistance without fighting." An especially relevant piece of wisdom for divorce warriors. Like all blueprints, of course, this one is only as good as its readers' capacity to behave as directed.

2. "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy (1877).

The technical people--which is really what divorce lawyers are--have, alas, limited insight into the motivation that propels divorce cases. But Tolstoy, who so famously opened "Anna Karenina" by observing that "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," may be an more apt teacher than any psychiatrist or court precedent. Anna has beauty, social position, wealth, a husband and an adored son. Still, her life seems empty--until, yielding to her passionate nature, she begins an affair with a dashing officer, Vronsky. Anna asks for a divorce, her husband refuses, then later relents, but she demurs. It all ends tragically, of course, but this greatest of novels is an immortal portrait of the conflicts inherent in the breakup of a marriage.

3. "Too Far to Go" by John Updike (Fawcett Crest, 1979).

In this collection about a couple called the Maples, whose marriage is quietly disintegrating, one story, "Separating," stands out for its grasp of the issue that resonates in almost every divorce case. The issue is a question, really: Why? Years after their divorce, people often still have no answer. In this magnificent, if emotionally crushing, tale, Joan and Richard Maple have come to the long planned weekend when the children are to be told. Richard spends the day before working around the house, thinking on the unbearable. "Beyond four knifelike walls a new life waited for him vaguely." The agonies multiply, none worse than those that come with the passionate, the crucial, word--"why?"--whispered in his ear by his grown son.

4. "The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce" by John Milton (1643).

The author of "Paradise Lost" was moved to write these divorce tracts after his wife, Mary, deserted him a short eight weeks into their marriage. It was, for his time, a radical document, particularly its argument (to Parliament) that incompatibility should be grounds for divorce and that both partners should have the right of remarriage. Most interesting to the modern reader, perhaps, is Milton's view that the chaste and modest are more likely to find themselves "chained unnaturally together" in unsuitable unions than those who have, in youth, lived worldlier lives and enjoyed the kind of varied experience that enabled them to choose partners wisely. Not for nothing did the outraged Presbyterian Church mount a blistering response.

5. "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Specifically, "The Wife of Bath's Tale," which, speaking to us from the 14th century, reveals a truth known to every couple and divorce lawyer. It's the story of a rapist knight who can save his life, he is told, only if he can discover what women most desire. When an old and ugly woman tells him the secret (women most want sovereignty over their husbands) and then demands that the saved rapist marry her, he accedes. Whereupon he finds the crone transformed into a great beauty--a proof of the timeless truth that people who marry seldom know who and what they are getting. That's why we invented prenuptial agreements.

Mr. Felder's most recent book is "Bare Knuckle Negotiation" (Wiley, 2004).

 


Trial Bar Cleanup: Would you believe that many lawyers actually commit fraud?
It's amazing what a little courage from the bench can do to clean up the justice system. Now that word is out that most silicosis lawsuits are shams, ever more judges are helping to expose the corruption. The latest is Florida state Judge David Krathen, who in a recent hearing rebuked plaintiffs lawyers for inventing silicosis suits, and declared "mind-boggling" the effect that phony suits were having on the "economic well-being of this country." He vowed to ride herd on the claims in his court, separating the good cases from the fake.
"Trial Bar Cleanup," The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2006; Page A8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113962426677871525.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

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


"Affirmative Blackmail," by David E. Bernstein, The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2006; Page A9 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113962366620071496.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

According to its mission statement, a primary goal of the American Bar Association is to "promote respect for the law." In the interest of mandating racial preferences in admissions, however, the ABA is about to order law schools to do just the opposite -- in fact, to violate the law -- and is resorting to blackmail to achieve its end.

Meeting in Chicago today, the ABA's Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will vote on new "equal opportunity and diversity" standards. If they are approved, any law school that seeks to maintain or acquire ABA accreditation will be required to engage in racial preferences in hiring and admissions, regardless of any federal, state or local laws that prohibit of such policies. Since only graduates of ABA-accredited schools may take the bar exam in the vast majority of states, the association has, in effect, a legal monopoly on accreditation standards.

The new Standard 211, styled "Equal Opportunity and Diversity," would govern admissions and faculty hiring policies. It says nothing about treating people from different groups equally, and lots about "diversity" -- a code word for affirmative action preferences. "Consistent with sound legal education policy and the Standards," part (a) says that a law school must provide "full opportunities for the study of law and entry into the profession by members of underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities," and it must also commit "to having a student body that is diverse with respect to gender, race and ethnicity."

Part (b) says, "Consistent with sound educational policy and the Standards, a law school shall demonstrate by concrete action a commitment to having a faculty and staff that are diverse with respect to gender, race and ethnicity."

This sounds innocuous, since law schools can reasonably differ on what constitutes "sound legal education policy." Some might think that the educational benefits of a racially heterogeneous student body justify significant racial preferences; others might give more weight to data showing significant educational costs resulting from preferences.

An empirical study by Richard Sander of UCLA, for example, confirms anecdotal evidence that student beneficiaries of such preferences tend to struggle in law school and end up at the bottom of their classes. Statistics published in the year 2000 also reveal that under current affirmative action policies, 42% of all African-American matriculants to law school either never graduate or never pass the bar (compared with 14% of whites). Some schools might conclude dooming a huge percentage of African-American students to failure is contrary to sound educational policy, and limit their "diversity" efforts to recruitment and retention.

That will not be possible, according to the "interpretations" of Standard 211, which have "equal weight" to the rules themselves. Interpretation 211-1 states that "the requirements of a constitutional provision or statute that purports to prohibit consideration of gender, race, ethnicity or national origin in admissions or employment decisions is not a justification for a school's non-compliance with Standard 211."

Racial preferences will thus generally be necessary to comply with Standard 211 -- despite the fact that several states, including California and Florida, ban race as a factor in law school admissions or hiring or both. Equally outrageous is Interpretation 211-2, which states that, "consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, a law school may use race and ethnicity in its admissions process to promote equal opportunity and diversity." This is a complete misstatement of the law, and the attorneys who wrote this are either incompetent or, more likely, intentionally dissembling.

First, Grutter held only that racial preferences in higher education are legal when used to promote diversity, not when used to promote equal opportunity. The Supreme Court has consistently disapproved of the use of racial preferences other than for either educational diversity, or to remedy past discrimination, and nothing in Grutter is to the contrary.

Second, Grutter did not hold that any law school may use race in its admissions process to promote racial diversity. Rather, the court stated that it was deferring to the Michigan Law School's "educational judgment that such diversity is essential to its educational mission." Other law schools may not share that educational judgment, particularly if the only way to achieve such diversity is by admitting underqualified minority students. Nothing in Grutter would permit such a law school to engage in racial preferences.

Ironically, left-wing lawyers and law professors used to scream that the Grutter litigation posed a threat to academic freedom by trying to prohibit law schools from tailoring the racial balance of their student bodies to enhance the students' educational experience. Now they want to use the heavy hand of ABA accreditation to deny academic freedom to law schools that would not choose racial preferences.

It's worth remembering that the fifth vote in Grutter was provided by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who apparently thought that her opinion would permit, but not require, law schools to use racial preferences for diversity purposes. Now that the ABA is trying to turn "may" into "must," one wonders whether Justice Samuel Alito will be similarly sympathetic to the assertion that allowing racial preferences in admissions enhances academic freedom.

An even greater irony, however, is the ABA's role in all of this. One can be quite certain that despite the plain language of the "interpretations" quoted above, the ABA will claim that it is not really trying to force law school faculties and administrations to violate both the law and their consciences in pursuit of racial "diversity." But in the past, ABA accreditation officials have bullied law schools into precisely that position, even in the absence of written authority backing their demands.

If passed, the new written standards will only embolden the accreditation bureaucracy, composed mainly of far-left law professors, to demand explicit racial preferences and implicit racial quotas -- all in brazen defiance of the law.

Mr. Bernstein, a professor at George Mason University School of Law, is the author of "You Can't Say That!: The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Law" (Cato, 2003).


A Vermont town and ski resort would like to schuss into a more tax friendly New Hampshire
A Vermont legislator who represents Killington has submitted a bill to set up a commission to study giving the town to New Hampshire. The bill submitted by Rep. Harry Chen, of Mendon, is up for review this week in a House committee. It's not given much chance of passage. Killington officials have been talking about leaving Vermont and joining New Hampshire because they don't like Vermont's statewide property tax. New Hampshire already established a commission to look at accepting Killington. It has said it is waiting to meet with a Vermont commission, should one be created.
"Bill Would Set Up Killington Secession Commission," WMUR (Channel 9) NH, February 3, 2006 --- http://www.thewmurchannel.com/news/6589245/detail.html


Not in Our Back Yard
Republican Sen. Mel Martinez and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said their bill would stop efforts by the Bush administration and other members of Congress to open an area near the Florida panhandle known as Lease Sale 181, which may hold as much as 7.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
"Senators Seek to Ban Drilling Forever off Florida Coast," Planet Ark, Februrary 3, 2006 --- http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/34855/story.htm


Despite Appearances, Science Doesn't Deny The Existence of God
Science has long been saddled with the canard that it arbitrarily and a priori rules out the existence of a deity. But those who attack science as anti-God are fighting a mirage, say both secular and religious scholars.
Sharon Begley, "Despite Appearances, Science Doesn't Deny The Existence of God," The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113832581304557736.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

But There Are Fantasies About Evolution
Intelligent Designs on Evolution --- http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/inteldesign/
 


One of the prices of trying to be more honest with investors
New York has lost its dominance of new stock offerings. In 2005, nine out of every 10 dollars raised by foreign companies occurred on exchanges in London or Luxembourg. A significant reason for the shift: Sarbanes-Oxley.
Craig Karmin and Aaron Lucchetti, "New York Loses Edge in Snagging Foreign Listings," The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2006; Page C1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113824819390656771.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
 


Less sunlight and higher temperatures paradox
Less sunlight reaching the Earth's surface has not translated into cooler temperatures, according to a team of solar physicists at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The scientists, who monitor the Earth's reflectance by measuring what is known as the moon's earthshine, have observed that the amount of light reflected by Earth -- its albedo -- has increased since 2000. The result has been less sunlight reaching the Earth's surface.
"Solar physicists report paradox: Less sunlight, but temps rise," PhysOrg, January 23, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news10143.html


Forwarded by Debbie Bowling
"Alzheimer's disease may be mostly genetic Largest study of twins confirms higher risk of inheriting the disease," MSNBC News, February 6, 2006 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11204410/from/ET/


Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Internet --- http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001421/142186e.pdf
(Includes a chapter on "Examining Linguistic Bias")


From the University of Virginia
Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities
--- http://www.iath.virginia.edu/

IATH is a research unit of the University of Virginia. Our goal is to explore and develop information technology as a tool for scholarly humanities research. To that end, we provide our Fellows with consulting, technical support, applications development, and networked publishing facilities. We also cultivate partnerships and participate in humanities computing initiatives with libraries, publishers, information technology companies, scholarly organizations, and other groups residing at the intersection of computers and cultural heritage.

The research projects, essays, and documentation presented here are the products of a unique collaboration between humanities and computer science research faculty, computer professionals, student assistants and project managers, and library faculty and staff. In many cases, this work is supported by private or federal funding agencies. In all cases, it is supported by the Fellows’ home departments; the College or School to which those departments belong; the University of Virginia Library; the Vice President for Research and Public Service; the Vice President and Chief Information Officer; the Provost; and the President of the University of Virginia.


The following link about textbook usage was forwarded by Amy Dunbar

Despite the significant emphasis that most instructors place on textbooks in introductory accounting courses, little research exists to describe how students use and interact with their textbooks. Using learning journals, 172 undergraduate students provided detailed, real-time accounts of their experiences with 13 chapters of an introductory financial accounting textbook. This paper reports the results of qualitative and quantitative analyses that begin to characterize textbook use from a student perspective. These results provide guidance for instructors wanting to understand student reading behaviors such as reading strategies, timing strategies, and differences between strong and weak students. In addition, in each of these areas, we identify important and interesting questions to direct future research.
"Sink or Skim: Students' Textbook Use in Introductory Accounting," by Barbara J. Phillips and Fred Phillips, SSRN, January 29, 2006 --- http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=879503


Free Software
How to download an entire Website so you don't have to surf it every time
HTTrack is a free (GPL, libre/free software) and easy-to-use offline browser utility. It allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site's relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the "mirrored" website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.
HTTrack Website Copier --- http://www.httrack.com/


Business schools are increasingly offering specialized MBAs to give
sports-management hopefuls a chance of making the team.

"A Hot Ticket for Sports-Biz Rookies ," by Jeffrey Gangemi, Business Week, February 3, 2006 --- http://snipurl.com/BWfeb3


From Walt Mossberg's Mailbox, The Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113944423609968904.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

Q: We have two Windows PCs on a wireless network controlled by a Netgear router. We are thinking of buying an Apple Mac laptop. Can the Mac connect to this wireless PC network?

A: Yes, you can easily mix Macs and Windows computers on the same wireless network, even if the router isn't made by Apple, and even if the router maker says it doesn't "support" Macs -- which merely means the maker won't help you connect them. Apple uses the same Wi-Fi wireless standard the Windows guys do, so it can recognize and connect to any standard wireless router, right alongside your Windows machines. In fact, connections are generally easier to establish on the Mac, which had Wi-Fi before Windows computers did.

You can also do this in reverse. You can add a Windows PC to a mostly Mac wireless network being run off an Apple router. I have done it both ways. In my home, I have a mixture of Windows and Mac computers running on a Belkin wireless router. In my office, I have an Apple router that is mainly used with Windows machines that visitors bring in. No special knowledge, special equipment, or special software is required for such mixed networks.

Q: I want to be able to see and hear my grandchildren on my computer. What equipment do I need to accomplish this?

A: Assuming both you and your grandchildren have Windows computers, you would need to buy and install Web cameras on each. I recommend Logitech cameras, which are decent and inexpensive. Then, you would have to join an instant-messaging service that has video, like AOL, Yahoo or MSN. Then, you just initiate a video session with the grandchildren, and you're in business. (If you have trouble doing any of this, the grandchildren can probably set it up for you on their next visit.)

Another interesting video-conferencing service for Windows users is Paltalk, at paltalk.com. Skype, at skype.com, also now has a video-conferencing service, for Windows users. If you and your grandchildren have the latest Macintosh desktop computers, both the cameras and the video service are built in, and the video experience is vastly better than with AOL or Yahoo or MSN.

Q: I want to quit AOL, where I've been for years, but I need an easy way to move over my address book, forward my email for awhile, and notify everyone of my new address. Does such a thing exist?

A: Yes. To notify everyone of your new address, move over your address book, and generally to help with the switch, try a service called TrueSwitch, at trueswitch.com. It costs $20, unless you're switching to MSN, AT&T or SBC/Yahoo, in which case it is free. TrueSwitch will even copy your saved emails, Web bookmarks and calendar entries. I have tested it, and it works, though only with Windows computers.

 


President Bush's 2007 budget boosts the physical sciences, but cuts money for cancer research and other biomedical programs.

"The Budget's Mixed News," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, February 8, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16301,307,p1.html


Question
You've all heard of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet.
Who's the multibillionaire that you've never heard of?
Hint: He wants to become dominant in steel making in Europe.

Answer
"Heavy Mittal," by Scott Kaminski, The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007923

PARIS--Lakshmi Mittal built up the world's biggest steel company--and the third-largest personal fortune of any man--by acquiring mills in the dodgiest of places. He honed his deal-making skills on the frontiers of capitalism: in Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Algeria, the Balkans, often in countries one might need to look up in the very latest atlas. In the past week, however, the 55-year-old Indian mogul has found himself in arguably the most difficult business environment of all--Western Europe.

In terms of political resonance as much as sheer size, Mittal Steel's hostile $24 billion bid for the world's second-largest steelmaker, Luxembourg-based Arcelor, is without precedent in Europe. The prime ministers of France and Luxembourg, jointly and repeatedly--along with politicians across the board--condemned the Indian's gumption and vowed to stop him. Worse were the threats from the unions and Arcelor's chief executive, Frenchman Guy Dollé.

A takeover of Arcelor would take Mr. Mittal a long way toward realizing his vision of a dominant global steelmaker in an industry for decades characterized, and brought low, by fragmentation. To pull it off, Mr. Mittal needs to break an Old World taboo against takeovers, hostile or otherwise, involving a company dear to Continental protectionists' heart. That this task falls to a man born in Rajasthan, and raised in Calcutta, is one of the more delicious gifts of globalization.

Continued in article


Question
Are exotic credit derivatives achieving much more than pushing the envelope to its limits?

Answer
In JARHEAD, Sam Mendes’s recent film about the 1991 Gulf war, some bored American marines arrange a fight between two scorpions. The money wagered and the attendant pandemonium, indexed to the fortunes of one protagonist or the other, are hugely disproportionate to the contest. Something similar happened when Delphi, a supplier of car parts, went bankrupt in October
"The Buttonwood column: credit derivatives," The Economist, January 31, 2006 --- http://www.economist.com/agenda/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_VQGPNGV

Bob Jensen's threads on credit derivatives can be found by scrolling down at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#C-Terms


Question
What's changing the gender of male fish?

Answer:  Maybe its you! And just maybe the female fish you're eating is getting even with you.
Suntan oil, which can change the sex of fish, is present in our food and drinking water. The Independent website has reported that experts have discovered male hornyhead turbot and English sole feeding next to sewage on the Californian coast. Both species are undergoing gender transformation into females and a chemical identified in sunscreens is being held responsible.
"Study finds suntan oil is present on our tables," PhysOrg, January 26, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news10262.html


"Why Toyota Won (over GM and Ford)," by James P. Womack, The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2006; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113980175982572192.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

The latest bad news is now in from GM and Ford: 60,000 U.S. and Canadian jobs will go in the next few years, 24 giant factories will close, and North American losses in the billions will continue. Clearly MoTown needs a new approach and it's natural in the car industry to think that the secret must be a killer model -- a Toyota Prius hybrid or some other concept to replace the big pickups and SUVs that floated the American firms for 15 years.

Actually, it's not a new car model that's needed. It's a new business model. Toyota is leading the charge against Detroit -- largely from inside the U.S. -- with a fundamentally different approach to business that my MIT research team in the 1990s labeled "lean" enterprise. Compared with these Toyota practices, GM and Ford's approach has five fatal weaknesses:

 GM and Ford can't design vehicles that Americans want to pay "Toyota money" for.
And this is not a matter of bad bets on product concepts or dumb engineers. It's a matter of Toyota's better engineering system, using simple concepts like chief engineers with real responsibility for products, concurrent and simultaneous engineering practices, and sophisticated knowledge capture methods. The Prius is not the result of a hunch or luck but rather the likely result of a development system that tries out many approaches to every problem, then gets the winning concept to the customer very quickly with low engineering cost, low manufacturing cost, and near perfect quality. (That's not to say that Toyota can't produce a dud -- the first-generation Previa minivan and Tundra pickup stand out -- but the likelihood of producing winners is higher than with traditional development systems.)
 
 GM and Ford are clueless as to how to work with their suppliers.
Sometimes they try to crush their bones -- which only works when the suppliers have any profits to squeeze, and few currently do. Then they embrace contentless cooperation that makes everyone feel better briefly but fails to produce lower costs, higher quality, or new and better technology. Toyota, by contrast, is getting brilliant results and lower prices from American suppliers like Delphi while also giving suppliers adequate profit margins. How? By relentlessly analyzing every step in their shared design and production process to take out the waste and put in the quality.
 
 GM and Ford have miasmic management cultures.
These turn competent people into Dilberts. By contrast, Toyota does a brilliant job of making one person responsible for every key business process, like the chief engineer overseeing each new model. And it teaches managers how to ask the right questions (rather than give the usual big-boss answers) in order to engage everyone involved in every process to go faster and do a better job with fewer resources. A Dilbert-free environment naturally emerges, but not because everyone has received cultural training to spur teamwork. Rather, if ordinary people -- Dilberts even -- are put in a great business process they become great team players.
 
 GM and Ford cling to their wide range of brands:
Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, Saab, GMC, and Hummer at GM; Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Mazda, Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin, and Range Rover at Ford. And they still talk about brand revitalization as the way ahead. Yet the most successful car companies in the world -- Toyota and BMW -- have only two or three brands. And this is not an accident. Indeed, it's hard to see how any modern-day car maker can support more than three truly distinctive brands -- a buzzy, "what's new" brand (Scion, Mini); a value-for-money, hassle-free-transportation brand (Toyota); and a distinctive "aspirational" brand for folks who just need something better than the other fellow's (Lexus, BMW). A plethora of brands that can't pull their weight drains management energy and company coffers.
 
 GM and Ford still treat customers as strangers engaged in one-time transactions.
Toyota's Lexus, by contrast, has created a new and better customer experience. Customers cheerfully pay more for the car and the service and then come back for more cars because they love the treatment. As Toyota applies its fabled process management to retailing to take out costs, which it is now starting to do at Lexus, customer touch becomes the final weapon in the Toyota arsenal.

But note: I haven't mentioned the creaky factories, vast pension obligations, and cranky unions that commentators on the current situation seem obsessed with. In fact, Ford and GM's factories are now good enough to compete in terms of labor productivity and quality. They just can't support employees with no work in "job banks" and unsustainable pension and healthcare benefits for retirees as the companies continue to shrink. Union and management both know this, yet no accommodation has been reached on these issues because their conversation has broken down. With zero confidence that management knows what it is doing, a union will try to get what it can now rather than look at the long term. In consequence, unless GM and Ford soon present a plausible path to a brighter future -- combining a better business model with significant short-term pain during the transition -- there may be no long term.

Continued in article


Stem cell switch imperils re-election
Defection from the anti-cloning ranks by Sen. Jim Talent, until now a rising star in the conservative movement, reflects deep divisions in the Republican Party created by the stem cell research issue. When Talent went on the Senate floor Friday to take his name off a bill to ban human cloning, he showed how those divisions imperil his re-election to a second term in Missouri this year. Talent had been a longtime co-sponsor of Sen. Sam Brownback's anti-cloning bill. But Missouri business interests who finance the Republican Party are backing a state constitutional amendment that explicitly allows human cloning to...
Robert Novak, "Stem cell switch imperils re-election," Chicago Sun-Times, February 13, 2006 --- Click Here


The Migration Policy Institute --- http://www.migrationpolicy.org/about/index.php

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think-tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national, and international levels. It aims to meet the rising demand for pragmatic and thoughtful responses to the challenges and opportunities that large-scale migration, whether voluntary or forced, presents to communities and institutions in an increasingly integrated world. MPI's work is organized around four research pillars:

Migration Management Refugee Protection and International Humanitarian Response North American Borders and Migration Agenda Immigrant Settlement and Integration Founded in 2001 by Kathleen Newland and Demetrios G. Papademetriou, MPI grew out of the International Migration Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In Spring 2002, MPI launched the Migration Information Source (www.migrationinformation.org), a web site that offers current and authoritative data on international migration, as well as analysis from migration experts, and dispatches from foreign correspondents around the world.


"Submission is all in your dhimmitude," by Diana West, Jewish World Review, February 13, 2006 --- http://jewishworldreview.com/0206/west021306.php3

I've written about dhimmitude periodically, lo, these many years since Sept. 11, but it takes time to sink in. Dhimmitude is the coinage of a brilliant historian, Bat Ye'or, whose pioneering studies of the dhimmi, populations of Jews and Christians vanquished by Islamic jihad, have led her to conclude that a common culture has existed through the centuries among the varied dhimmi populations. From Egypt and Palestine to Iraq and Syria, from Morocco and Algeria to Spain, Sicily and Greece, from Armenia and the Balkans to the Caucasus: Wherever Islam conquered, surrendering dhimmi, known to Muslims as "people of the book (the Bible)," were tolerated, allowed to practice their religion, but at a dehumanizing cost.

There were literal taxes (jizya) to be paid; these bought the dhimmi the right to remain non-Muslim, the price not of religious freedom, but of religious identity. Freedom was lost, sorely circumscribed by a body of Islamic law (sharia) designed to subjugate, denigrate and humiliate the dhimmi. The resulting culture of self-abnegation, self-censorship and fear shared by far-flung dhimmi is the basis of dhimmitude. The extremely distressing, but highly significant fact is, dhimmitude doesn't only exist in lands where Islamic law rules.

This is the lesson of Cartoon Rage 2006, a cultural nuke set off by an Islamic chain reaction to those 12 cartoons of Mohammed appearing in a Danish newspaper. We have watched the Muslim meltdown with shocked attention, but there is little recognition that its poisonous fallout is fear. Fear in the State Department, which, like Islam, called the cartoons unacceptable. Fear in Whitehall (where British government offices reside), which did the same. Fear in the Vatican, which did the same. And fear in the media, which have failed, with few, few exceptions, to reprint or show the images. With only a small roll of brave journals, mainly in Europe, to salute, we have seen the proud Western tradition of a free press bow its head and submit to an Islamic law against depictions of Mohammed. That's dhimmitude.

Not that we admit it: We dress up our capitulation in fancy talk of "tolerance," "responsibility" and "sensitivity." We even congratulate ourselves for having the "editorial judgment" to make "pluralism" possible. "Readers were well-served ... without publishing the cartoons," said a Wall Street Journal spokesman. "CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam," reported the cable network. On behalf of the BBC, which did show some of the cartoons on the air, a news editor subsequently apologized, adding: "We've taken a decision not to go further ... in order not to gratuitously offend the significant number" of Muslim viewers worldwide. Left unmentioned is the understanding (editorial judgment?) that "gratuitous offense" leads to gratuitous violence. Hence, fear — not the inspiration of tolerance but of capitulation — and a condition of dhimmitude.

Continued in article


World War II Military Situation Maps (War, History) --- http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/maps/wwii/

The World War II Military Situation Maps contains maps showing troop positions beginning on June 6, 1944 to July 26, 1945. Starting with the D-Day Invasion, the maps give daily details on the military campaigns in Western Europe, showing the progress of the Allied Forces as they push towards Germany. Some of the sheets are accompanied by a declassified "G-3 Report" giving detailed information on troop positions for the period 3 Mar. 1945-26 July 1945. These maps and reports were used by the commanders of the United States forces in their evaluation of the campaigns and for planning future strategies.

The collection consists of 416 printed maps and 115 reports, the originals of which reside in the Library of Congress' Geography and Map Division.


Enron Top Executives Modified Enron Data, Jury Is Told
Ms. Rieker, testifying in the fourth week of the trial in Federal District Court here, said that another former chief executive, Jeffrey K. Skilling, ordered last-minute changes to at least two quarterly earnings reports so that Enron could meet or beat analysts' expectations. She also said that Mr. Skilling directed her to misrepresent in a news release the source of most of the revenue at the struggling broadband unit. Mr. Lay, 63, and Mr. Skilling, 52, are accused of conspiring to defraud Enron, the former energy-trading giant that filed for bankruptcy in December 2001. Mr. Skilling, who abruptly quit the company in August 2001, is charged with conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. Mr. Lay is accused of fraud and conspiracy.
Alexei Barrionuevo, "Executives Modified Enron Data, Jury Is Told," The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/22/business/businessspecial3/22enron.html

Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm


M.A.S.H. History Sites from the Scout Report on February 17, 2006

U.S. Army Says Goodbye to MASH

U.S. Army Gives Away Last MASH
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-5624260,00.html

Last U.S. MASH Unit Handed Over to Pakistan
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5219020

Mission to quake-ravaged Kashmir is farewell for MASH
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-02-15-mash-farewell_x.htm

Korean War 50th Anniversary
http://korea50.army.mil/index.html

Korean War Casualty Lists
http://www.archives.gov/research/korean-war/casualty-lists/index.html

M*A*S*H Television Show Guide
http://www.tv.com/m-a-s-h/show/119/summary.html

Bob Jensen's threads on history are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#History


Tale of Torture and Murder Horrifies the Whole of France
The brutal abduction and murder in Paris of a young Jewish man by a gang of African immigrants called the Barbarians has shocked the whole of France, which once again has been obliged to face its anti-Semitic past. The murder of a 23-year-old cell-phone salesman, Ilan Halimi, took place over three weeks, during which he was tortured while his captors tried to extract a ransom from his family.
Michael Gurfinkiel, "Tale of Torture and Murder Horrifies the Whole of France," New York Sun, February 22, 2006 --- http://www.nysun.com/article/27948


"A good chunk" of U.S. manufacturing is thriving after making changes to reduce costs associated with pensions and health care and by increasing productivity to reduce per unit costs (despite high U.S. wages) particularly through automated manufacturing processing.

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on February 16, 2006

TITLE: Parts of U.S. Manufacturing Industry Are Thriving
REPORTER: Kris Maher
DATE: Feb 09, 2006
PAGE: A2
LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113944626116768949.html 
TOPICS: Accounting, Cost Accounting, Cost Management, Health Care, Managerial Accounting, Post Retirement Benefits

SUMMARY: "A good chunk" of U.S. manufacturing is thriving after making changes to reduce costs associated with pensions and health care and by increasing productivity to reduce per unit costs (despite high U.S. wages) particularly through automated manufacturing processing.

QUESTIONS:
1.) Which industries are described in the article as "thriving"?

2.) How does the author define the notion of a thriving industry sector for purposes of this article--by profitability, or something else?

3.) What are some of the reasons those industries are thriving? In your answer, address the point of "customers' desire for quick deliveries," as well as others related to location of manufacturing here in the U.S.

4.) How do the factors identified in question 3 bear on the cost of delivering a product to a customer? In your answer, define the terms inventoriable cost and period cost.

5.) What other "process improvements" besides automation allow companies to become more efficient--that is, produce more while using fewer workers?

6.) How have both automation and other process improvements allowed companies to reduce per unit costs despite higher wages in the U.S. relative to other countries? In your answer, define the terms unit cost, fixed cost, and variable cost. Also, note how fixed and variable costs are being incurred in different proportions than they were in the past, according to the description in the article.

7.) Define the terms direct labor and indirect labor. Explain how the article describes the trade-off between these types of labor in the effort to reduce per unit cost of production.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


So Long Footnoted Liabilities
Pensions and other retiree benefits are graduating to the balance sheet; how far should a company go to protect its compensation information?; choosing your auditor wisely may help protect your stock price; and more.

"So Long Footnoted Liabilities," by Rob Garver, CFO Magazine, February 2006, pp. 16-17 --- http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/5435560/c_5461573?f=magazine_alsoinside

Verizon, Ford, and ExxonMobil, pay attention. It looks as though pensions and other retiree benefits are about to graduate from the footnotes to the balance sheet. And companies that have previously been able to hide underfunded retirement programs may have to count them as liabilities — often multi-billion-dollar liabilities.

In November, the Financial Accounting Standards Board voted to move toward a proposal that would require companies to report the difference between the net present value of their pension- and other retirement-benefit obligations and the amount the company has set aside to meet those obligations. And although a final decision is a year or more away, the numbers won't be pretty. (See "Will Washington Really Act?")

Standard & Poor's, in fact, estimates a retirement-obligations shortfall of some $442 billion in the S&P 500 alone. Indeed, it is difficult to understate the potential impact of the FASB plan, which is expected to be only the first phase in a larger effort to overhaul the accounting treatment of pensions and benefits. "We believe this FASB project will have a significant impact on stock evaluations, income statements, and balance sheets, and will become the major issue in financial accounting over the next five years," S&P wrote in its December report.

The news was welcome to many in the accounting business who have been concerned that current rules allow companies to hide retiree obligations in the footnotes. John Hepp, a senior manager with Grant Thornton LLP, praised the board's decision to move toward a "simplified approach. We think this will be a big step forward."

But it won't be without pain for many companies faced with adding a large negative number to their balance sheets, such as telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. Standard & Poor's reported in December that Verizon has underfunded the nonpension portion of its postretirement benefits by an estimated $22.5 billion. The company is clearly trying to get a handle on retirement benefits and health-care costs, announcing that same month that it will freeze the pension benefits of all managers who currently receive them.

While the company refused to comment, Verizon is far from alone. Ford and General Motors have underfunded their retirement obligations by $44.7 billion and $69.0 billion, respectively, and other big names facing a shortfall include ExxonMobil ($16.4 billion) and AT&T ($14.8 billion).

If any of these companies think the markets will treat these obligations as a one-time problem, they had better think again, says S&P equity market analyst Howard Silverblatt. "Moving this onto the balance sheet is going to wake people up," he says. "The bottom line is that shareholder equity [in the S&P 500] is going to be decreased by about 9 percent." And as companies begin to explore their legal options for limiting the financial damage — including paring back benefits even further — Silverblatt predicts that the issue will become more politicized and remain in the public eye for years to come.

Bob Jensen's threads on pension and post-retirement liability accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#Pensions


Question
How can changing of terms in bond contracts act as a poison pill?

Answer
From Jim Mahar's Blog on February 10, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

breakingviews | Sample Story --- http://www.breakingviews.com/SiteTour/FreeStory.aspx?apid=NYT01

For those of you that have never had a corporate class from me, you don't know how often we discuss the Nexius of contracts. Well here is a great example!

 " BAA is caught between a rock and a hard place. Its bondholders are demanding better terms - a so called change-of-control clause - on bonds that have yet to settle. Bond investors fear Spain's Ferrovial's highly leveraged approach will cause their investment-grade debt to be downgraded....

But BAA's first responsibility is to its shareholders. It shouldn't change the terms of the bonds because that could act as a poison pill - a deterrent to a takeover bid. And it is up to BAA's shareholders and not its management to decide if an offer - that is, if one is tabled - is attractive.

Besides, a deal is a deal. Bond investors have committed. Unfortunately, they did not negotiate hard enough for a change-of-control clause ahead of time and they may regret it now, but that's their responsibility. "

Good stuff!


Study: More Pushing Outsourcing Than Saving Costs
Contrary to popular belief, it's intellectual capital and university collaboration, not just lower costs, driving companies to locate R&D activities outside their home country, according to a study sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
By Spencer Chin, InformationWeek, February 16, 2006 ---
http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=180203298

 


There are some points to take into consideration about "free textbooks" such as the ones that I list at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks

1. Many of these "free" books are books that have been dropped by publishing firms or were never accepted by publishing firms in the first place. If they were dropped, they have met a rigorous reviewing process and may have made money for the authors. In fact they might have been dropped simply due to the all-to-frequent process of publishing company mergers that left publisher oligopolists with too many textbooks on a given topic.

2. Whereas the end consumer makes many choices about whether to use a product with advertising (e.g., magazine subscriptions, newspaper purchases, Google searches, etc.), the choice of a textbook is usually in the hands of instructors rather than end user students. In general, students are ceteris paribus grateful for free textbooks even if they must endure a certain amount of advertising. It's the "ceteris paribus" part that's a problem. Those new textbooks costing students $90 or more (without advertising) provide incentives for authors to make careful revised editions. Also publishing firms have the revenues to provide improved supplements (most of which really need improving in the accounting textbook market sector). As of yet free textbooks, with or without advertising, provide little monetary incentive to authors or free-book publishing firms to constantly improve the product.

3. Free textbooks are not available in hard copy. Some electronic publishers offer hard copy versions, usually at prices cheaper than photocopying entire books would cost. Many of us, and I mean me especially, prefer a hard copy version to read and an electronic version to search. Good electronic versions also provide convenient hypertext links and possibly even some multimedia. Although Cybertext does not offer free textbooks, I like the Cybertext option to also buy a hardcopy version. And I like the hot links in the electronic versions and the option to take quizzes online with results being graded and sent to instructors --- http://www.cybertext.com/
Publishers of free textbooks are never likely to offer such services unless advertising revenues become very successful. I don't think any of them are at that point yet.

 4. We should all be grateful that free textbooks exist even if we do not ourselves adopt them for our courses. In this age of price gouging by publisher oligopolies, the free textbook alternatives may be about the only serious competition that publishers face, especially when, not if, textbook publishers finally invent a way to eliminate the used textbook market in their own books.

February 14, 2006 message from a distributor of free textbooks (that do have advertising)

To date our free textbooks have been made possible by a combination of angel investor money and by the principals in the company, who have invested both their time and money. We have some advertisers (download a book and you'll see) and seek more. We are actively pursuing sponsorships. More investment has been promised. Authors receive a percentage of our revenues -- "net receipts"-- per book. They sign on because of their confidence in our business model and in us.

We sell the paperback copies pretty much at cost. Regardless, those monies are very limited, inasmuch as only about 5 percent of students, thus far, end up buying the print book.

What propels our business is the widespread perception that text prices are unreasonable. We are addressing this situation in an innovative way. Moreover, we do not skimp on instructor support; all our titles come with ancillaries available to adopters.

In this case, "free" really does mean free. This is not the proper forum, but I can provide testimonials and contact information for many people who already have benefited from this service.

Best wishes to all concerned!

Edgar Laube
Freeload Press
3316 Tally Ho Lane
Madison, WI 53705 608.233-1112

edlaube@gmail.com 
www.freeloadpress.com

For examples of free textbooks see  http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
 


ECONOMIC MYTH #1 - TRAFFIC JAMS ARE CAUSED BY OUR EXPLODING POPULATION
ECONOMIC MYTH #2 -
THE COST OF LIVING HAS RISEN STEADILY DURING THE 20TH CENTURY AND HAS GOTTEN EVEN WORSE IN THE PAST FEW DECADES

February 12, 2006 message from Mike Gasior [michael@afs-seminars.com]

ECONOMIC MYTH #1 - TRAFFIC JAMS ARE CAUSED BY OUR EXPLODING POPULATION

 

Fact: The traffic jams where many of us find ourselves stuck everyday are due to the cost of driving being far too cheap.  If you want to decrease traffic we have to start making driving more expensive, especially at peak driving times.

 

As much as common sense would dictate that the current traffic situation could be explained by population growth, and thus more cars on the road, the truth is that this is a very straightforward economic situation.  One of the most basic tenets of economics is that if you underprice something relative to its true cost, people will use too much of it.

 

Some of you might remember that a few years ago Red Lobster ran a special where for $20 you could eat as much crab as you could eat, or until they closed the restaurant.  It was named the "endless crab promotion".

 

Well Red Lobster lost buckets of money and their president got fired.  During a conference call with Wall Street analysts, the chairman and new president actually engaged the analysts in a cerebral conversation about whether it was the third or fourth helping of crab that busted them.  No kidding.

 

Basically our whole transportation system is set up almost exactly like the Red Lobster promotion and it is failing pretty badly too.

 

The best analogy I ever heard to compare this to is if we were to operate our public golf courses just like we operate our public roads.  First we would charge all taxpayers to help build and operate the golf courses, regardless of whether or not or how often they played golf.  Then, we charge very little, or better still nothing at all, to play and anyone can tee off any time they showed up at the course.  I would surmise to predict (although I don't know if Ken would agree with me) that you'd likely have hundreds of people on the first tee on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. ready to fire away.  Without doubt the media would soon be reporting the latest violence to erupt in our ever-deteriorating society, "golf rage".

 

Luckily, golf courses have a decent grasp on economics and charge the highest prices at the most desirable times, and offer discounted fees during the "off peak" periods.

 

Many of you already know I'm against most taxes or government fees of any type, but there is currently no reason for me to not drive my Hummer 65 miles each way between work and my 6,000 square foot McMansion out in the boonies.  Luckily all the other people who don't drive as much as me are helping to subsidize my lifestyle.  (Please understand that while I do live in the boonies, I don't drive a Hummer or technically have a job.  I was just painting a picture in your head of someone you likely know.)  There are certainly plenty of toll roads throughout the U.S., but modern technology can revolutionize the collection of tolls as well as alter the pricing at different times of the day.  Economists and traffic engineers refer to this as "congestion pricing".  In most locations there is some version of "EZ Pass" or "Speed Pass" where you buzz through the booth at moderate speed and the toll is simply deducted electronically from your balance.

 

One other idea is what is already happening in San Diego on the I-15 FastTrak.  This freeway does have actual free lanes, but also "HOT" lanes (High Occupancy/Toll) lanes that run parallel to the free ones.  Carpoolers are welcome to use the HOT or free lanes at anytime, and people willing to pay the toll can use them also.  The toll varies from $.50 to $4.00 depending upon TRAFFIC CONDITIONS.  Pretty cool, huh?  There are digital signs along the road that flash the current toll at any moment and the cost will vary as the HOT lane gets more congested.

 

The downside (and some of you were already thinking of this) is that people will think this is some swipe at poorer citizens, or an attempt to give rich people their own lane on the freeway.  The HOT lanes are referred to as the "Lexus lanes" out there already.

 

But consider the painter making $14 an hour who is looking like they may be 30 minutes late for work.  Well they're going to get docked $7 if they don't spring for the four bucks.  You can do the arithmetic.  Besides, lower level workers get fired or fined if they show up late for work or to pick up the kids from daycare.  CEO's don't.

 

Yet another upside of making peak driving more expensive is that employers and employees may work to implement a more diverse and flexible work schedule, which could benefit many workers.  Plus, anything that reduces our appetite for an increasingly expensive commodity like oil can't hurt either.

 

The Federal gas tax is not indexed to inflation and has been dropping in inflation adjusted terms for over a decade now.  If politicians could be trusted at all (they can't be) they could start by increasing the Federal gas tax of 18.4 cents to discourage something like driving too much, and use that revenue to reduce taxes on something we'd like to encourage like working or saving.  Needless to say, that won’t ever happen.

 

I know this whole conversation has probably gone over like a ton of bricks with few people liking the idea at all.  But it would work.

 

ECONOMIC MYTH #2 - THE COST OF LIVING HAS RISEN STEADILY DURING THE 20TH CENTURY AND HAS GOTTEN EVEN WORSE IN THE PAST FEW DECADES

 

This one people tend to bite into hook, line and sinker, but it's almost completely untrue.  On the surface it certainly appears that the price of almost everything you look at is more expensive then you remember, so it follows that the cost of living must be higher then it has ever been.

 

But a much more practical and applicable way to measure the true cost of anything is to consider how long an average worker has to work to pay for a variety of life's expenses.  Too often people focus strictly on the expense side of their life's balance sheet without considering the earnings side.  Let me do it for you right here.

 

These are the amounts of time an average worker has to labor to afford the following items:

 

Half Gallon of Milk

1920 - 37 minutes

1950 - 16 minutes

1980 - 12 minutes

2006 - 6.5 minutes

 

One Pound Loaf of Bread

1920 - 13 minutes

1950 - 7 minutes

1980 - 5 minutes

2006 - 4 minutes

 

One Gallon of Gasoline

1920 - 32 minutes

1950 - 11 minutes

1980 - 10 minutes

2006 - 7 minutes

 

100 Mile of Air Travel

1920 - 12 hours and 46 minutes (This is actually 1930.  Public air travel not available in 1920.)

1950 - 4 hours and 7 minutes

1980 - 1 hour and 27 minutes

2006 - 57 minutes

 

Three Minutes of Coast-to-Coast Long Distance Phone Call

1920 - 30 hours and 3 minutes

1950 - 1 hour and 44 minutes

1980 - 11 minutes

2006 - 7 seconds

 

Pair of Levis

1920 - 10 hours and 36 minutes

1950 - 4 hours

1980 - 2 hours and 48 minutes

2006 - 1 hour and 55 minutes

 

Three Pounds of Chicken

1920 - 2 hours and 27 minutes

1950 - 1 hour and 11 minutes

1980 - 18 minutes

2006 - 13 minutes

 

100 Kilowatts of Electricity

1920 - 13 hours and 36 minutes

1950 - 2 hours

1980 - 45 minutes

2006 - 37 minutes

 

Computing Power of 1 MIPS

1920 - n/a

1950 - 515,000 lifetimes

1980 - 41 weeks 16 hours and 9 minutes

2006 - 7 minutes

 

This continuous cheapening is thanks to years and years of research and development as well as constant increases in efficiency and productivity.  Never mind the fact that the universe of products and services available to enjoy with your money has grown enormously during the previous 90 years too.  This could be something that contributes to the feeling by many people that life is much more expensive today then ever before.  But keep in mind that even your parents probably didn't worry about the cable TV, cell phone, Internet access, daycare and Starbucks bills as part of their "cost of living" like you might.

 


Quadrupling the World GDP by 20
This is the second in a series of articles by financial futurists Karun Philip [KP] and Richard S. Kirby [RK]. Together in a series of books, essays and stories they are laying the foundations for a rapid redefinition of financial civilization. Their purpose is the end of poverty -- their method is making a New World of money. Their professional intention is creating Financial Futures as a systematic field of financial culture, financial civilization as a vector and meme of world wealth and global goodness, with its own values of innovation and wealth creation. Also see their previous article, Birthing a New Financial Civilization. The two authors write both as ‘we’ and ‘I.’ Where one author is speaking, he identifies himself
"Quadrupling the World GDP by 2010 by Dr. Richard S. Kirby and Dr. Karun Philip, Apr 16, 2002 --- http://www.wnrf.org/cms/finance2.shtml
 


The Motley Fool (A Serious Guide to Personal Finance) --- 
http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=15
Includes archived video.
 


A Phone that Just Lacks Popcorn
Samsung's multimedia A920 is cinema, jukebox, newsroom, and camera all in one. Plus, it's easy enough for a grownup to use.

"Steve Rosenbush," by Steve Rosenbush, Business Week, February 15, 2006 --- Click Here


From Deloitte:  Annual Financial Reporting Document Review ---
http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/2005-Annual-Fin-Rev.pdf

From AccountingEducation.com on February 2, 2006 ---
http://accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=newsdetails&id=142259

The proliferation of new accounting standards and regulatory requirements continued throughout 2005. New accounting rules, enhanced CEO/CFO certification requirements, augmented continuous disclosure standards, corporate governance practices and disclosures, and civil liability for secondary market disclosures are just a sample of the standards which became effective during the year. With the myriad of new requirements, it may be difficult for management and Directors to analyze all of the standards and guidance issued and to develop an action plan to ensure that they fulfill all of their existing and increasing responsibilities.

To this end, Deloitte has prepared a comprehensive assessment package to help management and Directors determine whether or not their organizations’ financial statements and other financial filings meet all of the continuous disclosure obligations. Correspondingly, using these tools to analyze their financial filings may assist users in performing their due diligence responsibilities.

To access the checklist, go to:
http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/2005-Annual-Fin-Rev.pdf 


How well is your Website performing in terms of the numbers and types of visitors?

Web Performance Analyzer Free Edition --- http://webperformanceinc.com/analyzer/

Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm


I thank Rachel McCarthy in the U.K. for pointing this link out to me.
"Government U-turn on Corporate Reporting Rules is a Farce say Ernst & Young Commentators," International Accountant, February 3, 2006 --- http://www.aia.org.uk/InternationalAccountant.htm?News/IAfullStory.php?id=50641 

Gerald Russell, Senior Partner at Ernst & Young and Head of the Audit Quality Forum, says, "This has all the elements of a Brian Rix farce - now you see it, now you don’t. There was extensive consultation before the OFR was adopted - what on earth is the point of going through it all again? It would be much better to admit the error and reinstate the original position.

"It is in the interests of good reporting that companies cover what was in the original OFR, and many companies have already gone down the fuller disclosure route. The main problem is that there were no ‘safe harbour’ provisions and, naturally, directors are likely to be circumspect about what they might include in an OFR - but this is no reason for having abolished it."

Will Rainey, Head of the Financial Reporting Advisory at Ernst & Young, adds, "We had a law [OFR] and on the 12 of January it was repealed. Now we are in a consultation. What we really want is a proper process and some consistency – this has turned into a farce.”

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


ACCOUNTING STANDARDS: SEC CHAIRMAN COX AND EU COMMISSIONER MCCREEVY AFFIRM COMMITMENT TO ELIMINATION OF THE NEED FOR RECONCILIATION REQUIREMENTS

Chairman Cox believes the use of IFRS has the potential to produce significant benefits for US investors through enhanced comparability of financial information about investment choices around the world. He congratulates Commissioner McCreevy on the strides made by the European Union toward implementing IFRS, and further notes the work accomplished by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the independent body charged with establishing high-quality-global accounting standards. Chairman Cox reaffirms his commitment to the “roadmap” to eliminate, by 2009 at the latest, the SEC requirement for foreign private issuers to reconcile IFRS-based financial statements to US GAAP.
Accounting Education News, February 2, 2006 --- http://accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=newsdetails&id=142316

The following is from Paul Pacter's IAS Plus on February 10, 2006 --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm

European Union Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox met in Washington on 8 February 2006. They discussed, among other things, progress toward eliminating the need for reconciliation between International Financial Reporting Standards and US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in SEC filings by non-US IFRS issuers. Both the EC and the SEC agreed that, for the reconciliation to be eliminated, regulatory procedures need to be in place in a non-US SEC registrant's home country to ensure that IFRSs are applied and interpreted faithfully and consistently. Work on those procedures in the EU is underway. Click for:

10 February 2006: Interview on a range

Summary of relatively current differences between IFRS and U.S. GAAP --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#FASBvsIASB

This in turn links you to http://www.iasplus.com/usa/ifrsus.htm

 




I think this was one of my grandkids that Paula stumbled upon in the mall.

A small boy was lost at a large shopping mall. He approached Paula and said, "I've lost my grandpa!"

Paula asked, "What's he like?"

The little boy hesitated for a moment and then replied, "Cubalibras with white rum and women with big boobs."


Forwarded by Maria

HEALTH QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION 

Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?  
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.   

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables? 
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.   

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?  
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!   

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?  
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.   

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?  
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!   

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?  
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?   

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?  
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.   

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?  
A: Are you crazy? HELLO . Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!   

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?  
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.   

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?  
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!   

I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.


Play the Maze --- http://www.winterrowd.com/maze.swf
Paula says she could not reach Level 4.

DO YOU HAVE THE HANDS OF A BRAIN SURGEON OR DO YOU WRITE WITH CRAYONS ? I TRIED THIS 5 TIMES AND COULDN'T GET PAST LEVEL 3. I CHEATED AND USED BOTH HANDS ON LEVEL 3. I JUST COULD NOT MAKE IT TO LEVEL 4. I DON'T THINK IT'S POSSIBLE! TRY IT . IF ANYBODY MAKES IT TO 4 LET ME KNOW. I WANT YOU TO DO MY NEXT OPERATION IF I NEED ONE! SOUND HELPS.




Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmark s 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/.

International Accounting News (including the U.S.)

AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
        Upcoming international accounting conferences --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/events/index.cfm
        Thousands of journal abstracts --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/journals/index.cfm
Deloitte's International Accounting News --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
Association of International Accountants --- http://www.aia.org.uk/ 
WebCPA --- http://www.webcpa.com/
FASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
IASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
Others --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm

Gerald Trite's great set of links --- http://iago.stfx.ca/people/gtrites/Docs/bookmark.htm 

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

 

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