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 ---
Yesterday I had an opportunity to speak with Nobel Laureate Dr. Reinhard
Selten, and I asked him what advice he would give to PhD students. He
encourages students to be "courageous," and to resist the temptation to
pursue the kinds of incremental research that lead to quick publication but
lack impact and staying power.
Mark Nissen in a
message forwarded by Bill McCarthy at Michigan State University
This speaks in favor of the initiative being considered at the University of
Michigan to extend time-to-tenure from seven years to ten years.
Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ---
It seems that Mr. Cheney sent the State of Texas a check for $7.00 for a
The State returned the check, saying that no license is needed in Texas to shoot
only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) ---
The world will be in the hands of Islam over the
next few years.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President
of Iran, Itar-Tess, March 3, 2006 ---
Jensen Comment: He's probably correct if anything's left of it.
The historian will tell your what happened. The
novelist will tell you what it felt like.
E.L. Doctrow, Time
Magazine, March 6, 2006, Page 6.
We're all lifted up by the community of us. Even
E.L. Doctrow, Time
Magazine, March 6, 2006, Page 6.
Ending one strange political saga by starting
another, the clerk of New Orleans Criminal District Court, Kimberly
Williamson Butler, surrendered herself to an irate criminal court judge
Friday morning after a week of ignoring court orders and arrest warrants,
and then walked outside the courthouse to announce her candidacy for mayor.
Brian Thevenot, Times
Picayune, March 4, 2006 ---
Jensen Comment: I suspect this is one of the reasons for calling New Orleans
the "Big Easy." A criminal record is almost a prerequisite for public office in
Louisiana unless you never got caught. Released inmates have to find work somewhere.
Why not work for the city or the state?
saying 'Getting there is half the fun' became obsolete with the advent of
Henry J. Tillman
I feel about airplanes the way I feel about
diets. It seems to me they are wonderful things for other people to go on.
If you want to remain on this detail, get your
ass over here and grab those bags.
Hillary Clinton (To an Secret Service agent who wanted
to keep his hands free in case of a security threat.) ---
The tiny Rufous hummingbird is able to recall
where and when it last dined on the sweet nectar of flowers, according to
new research, proving bird brains are smarter than first thought.
Yahoo News, March 7, 2006 ---
So what's the big deal. I can do the same thing.
Some Good News and Bad News About Heaven
Dual Covenant Theology: Thanks to the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio
Jews Can Now Get Into Heaven
An evangelical pastor and an Orthodox rabbi, both from Texas, have
apparently persuaded leading Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell that Jews can
get to heaven without being converted to Christianity. Televangelist John
Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom
congregations are based in San Antonio, told The Jerusalem Post that Falwell
had adopted Hagee's innovative belief in what Christians refer to as "dual
, Jerusalem Post,
March 1, 2006 ---
Jensen Comment: This news release actually ended up giving Jews
temporary false hopes.
Late Breaking Good News and Bad News
New "Scientific Evidence" allegedly
"proves" that heaven truly exists
. . . a new documentary,
"The Evidence for Heaven," available exclusively through WND's ShopNetDaily
online store, offers scientific evidence for
"New scientific evidence heaven really exists: Blockbuster DVD includes
astounding back-from-dead testimonials," WorldDailyNet, March
2, 2006 ---
Some of us will be down where there are more barbeque events. We will,
however, wave up to you folks drifting about overhead while nibbling on cold
Really bad news for Jews now that it's a
scientific fact that heaven does exist
Reverend Falwell denies that he ever once agreed that Jews can get into
Evangelist Jerry Falwell has a beef with the
Jerusalem Post after the newspaper published an article suggesting he's
changed his beliefs about salvation, now thinking Jews can get to heaven
without becoming Christians first. "Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh
Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are
based in San Antonio, told the Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted
Hagee's innovative belief in what Christians refer to as 'dual covenant'
theology. This creed, which runs counter to mainstream evangelism, maintains
that the Jewish people have a special relationship to God through the
revelation at Sinai and therefore do not need 'to go through Christ or the
Cross' to get to heaven."
"Falwell: Jerusalem Post 'fabricated' story on me Newspaper claimed
Christian evangelist had new tune on how Jews get to heaven,"
WorldDailyNet, March 1, 2006 ---
While I am a strong supporter of the State of
Israel and dearly love the Jewish people and believe them to be the chosen
people of God, I continue to stand on the foundational biblical principle
that all people — Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc. —
must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven. Dr. Hagee
called me today and said he never made these statements to the Jerusalem
Post or to anyone else. He assured me that he would immediately contact the
Jerusalem Post and request a correction. Before today, I had never heard of
Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg or had any communications with him. I therefore am at
a total loss as to why he would make such statements about me to the Post,
if in fact he did.
"A GRACIOUS CORRECTION OF THE JERUSALEM POST," Jerry Falwell Ministries,
March 2, 2006 ---
Pastors John Hagee
and Jerry Falwell have both denied a report in The Jerusalem Post earlier
this week that they embrace the "dual covenant" theology, which holds that
Jews are saved through a special relationship with God and so need not
become Christians to get to heaven.
"Hagee, Falwell deny endorsing 'dual covenant'," Jerusalem Post,
March 2, 2006 ---
Just goes to show you what might happen to
evangelism if just anybody can pass through the Pearly Gates. Authorities
are moving quickly to Plains, Georgia to have Jimmy Carter settle this
matter once and for all ---
Seriously, one question that evangelists like Falwell and Hagee do not
treat well is the afterlife fate of people who had absolutely no opportunity
whatsoever to make a choice to accept the Christian belief, including tiny
children who die prematurely or people in villages where no Christian
missionary ever set foot into. Then there are brain-damaged mental
defectives who became serial rapists, serial murderers, and Chancellor of
the Third Reich. What happens to them? God actually did not give any
two people exactly the same circumstances in life. Some had no chance
whatsoever to get into heaven under evangelist dogma. If God makes an
exception for them then the only humans at risk are sane adults who had
an opportunity to be Christian and failed the test.
Gee thanks! From a long run perspective, a lot can be said for
dying young or being totally insane. I think I'm beginning to sound like
March 2, 2006 reply from a Jewish friend who
is also an accounting professor
tempest isn't sitting so great with the JPost readers. One writes
(in talkback to the article for which you provide the url:
2. Explain 24 gates
and 24 elders
David - Israel
Falwell should read
his N. Testament. Revelations where John sees 24 elders before the
throne representing 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles. Hmmmm, no
replacement theology there. And the new J-town has 24 gates; twelve
for the tribes and 12 Apostles. Hmmmmm. Sounds like God can dual
anything He wants. And who said you can't meet Jesus and receive
your faith in Jesus after your dead? N. Test verses make case for
that. And every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. I don't
know how you force someone to do that? Sorry Christians God is up to
something far greater than just saving you. Far greater.
Bob, I guess my day is still OK?
Bob Jensen's "Glimpse of Heaven" ---
To save your soul the easiest thing to do is find
a squirrel (turn your speakers up)
Mississippi Squirrel Revival ---
If the above squirrel solution fails, put your immortal soul up for
sale on eBay
"On eBay, an Atheist Puts His Own Soul On the Auction
Block: The Winning Bidder Offers An Unusual Deal: Visit Churches and
Critique," by Suzanne Sataline, March 9, 2006; Page A1 ---
A few weeks ago, Hemant Mehta posted an unusual
item for sale on eBay: a chance to save his soul.
The DePaul University graduate student promised
the winner that for each $10 of the final bid, he would attend an hour
of church services. The 23-year-old Mr. Mehta is an atheist, but he says
he suspected he had been missing out on something.
"Perhaps being around a group of people who
will show me 'the way' could do what no one else has done before," Mr.
Mehta wrote in his eBay sales pitch. "This is possibly the best chance
anyone has of changing me."
Evangelists bid, eager to save a sinner.
Atheists bid, hoping to keep Mr. Mehta in their fold. When the auction
stopped on Feb. 3 after 41 bids, the buyer was Jim Henderson, a former
evangelical minister from Seattle, whose $504 bid prevailed.
Mr. Henderson wasn't looking for a convert. He wanted Mr. Mehta to
embark with him on an eccentric experiment in spiritual bridge-building.
The 58-year-old Mr. Henderson has written a book
for a Random House imprint and is currently a house painter. He runs
off-the-map.org, a Web site whose professed
mission is "Helping Christians be normal." Mr. Henderson is part of a
small but growing branch of the evangelical world that disagrees with
the majority's conservative political agenda, and wants the religion to
be more inclusive and help the disadvantaged.
Continued in article
Sign that the end-times are drawing near
New Book About How Christians Think the End is Near Because of Radio
Katherine Albrecht is on a mission from God. The
influential consumer advocate has written a new book warning her fellow
Christians that radio frequency identification may evolve to become the
"mark of the beast" -- meaning the technology is a sign that the end-times
are drawing near. "My goal as a Christian (is) to sound the alarm," said
Albrecht, in a conversation over tea at a high-end grocery store. Albrecht
hopes her new book, The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist
RFID and Electronic Surveillance, will be embraced by the millions of
Americans (59 percent of them, according to a 2002 Time/CNN poll) who share
her belief that the Book of Revelation in the Bible forecasts events that
are yet to come.
Mark Baard, "RFID: Sign of the (End) Times?" Wired News, March 2,
"The Da Vinci Hoax: A Tour de Distortion," Charles Colson, Break
Point, March 7, 2006 ---
G. K. Chesterton famously said something to
this effect: When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in
nothing—they believe in anything. A good example of this is Umberto
Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum, in which a group of friends
program a computer to “write” a book about secret hidden knowledge.
Titled The Plan, the book is the result of random links between things
like Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, the Knights Templar, and other crackpot
ideas. While The Plan was intended as a prank, other people take it
seriously, with tragic results.
Well, Foucault’s Pendulum shows us how
gullible unbelieving people are. And this is particularly so in our
postmodern age when truth doesn’t matter. This phenomenon partly
explains the remarkable success of The Da Vinci Code. Like Eco’s
novel, it’s about a heretofore hidden knowledge that promises to let us
in on the “true” history of Christianity.
Author Dan Brown gives us a Jesus who neither
died on the cross nor rose from the dead. Instead, He married Mary
Magdalene and had children by her. This “sacred blood line” is the
treasure safeguarded by groups like the Knights Templar and the Masons.
And the Catholic Church, in a desperate attempt to cover up this secret,
murders those who threaten to expose it.
Devotees of The Da Vinci Code—like the
fictional fans in Foucault’s Pendulum—have trouble distinguishing fact
from fiction. They visit places mentioned in the novel, and “Da Vinci
Tours” are a booming business. With the upcoming film, interest in The
Da Vinci Code will explode. Christians need to seize this teaching
opportunity, preparing ourselves to answer questions readers are asking.
The first is: Are the historical events
portrayed in Brown’s story true? Brown claims to have done extensive
historical research and gives his readers no reason to doubt the novel’s
accuracy. Since the average person knows almost nothing about Christian
history, they’re vulnerable. For example, when Brown says that Knights
Templar were put to death by the Catholic Church because they knew the
“true story” about Jesus, people have no basis to question it, never
having heard of the Knights Templar. Or when Brown says that at the
Council of Nicea, the Vatican consolidated its power, most people are
unaware that the Vatican didn’t even exist in A.D. 325.
It is our job to expose the falsehoods. We can
learn to answer Brown’s lies with the truth by reading books like
Darrell Bock’s Breaking the Da Vinci Code and Erwin Lutzer’s The Da
People flock to stories like The Da Vinci Code
in part because all humans are searching for the secret knowledge that
answers the mysteries of life. And when The Da Vinci Code debuts in May,
millions more Americans will get a condensed tour de distortion. Knowing
our neighbors will see this film, churches ought to begin to get ready
now—preparing to answer questions about it and to tell our neighbors
that there is no secret knowledge about God. It’s all in the Bible and
The good news is that The Da Vinci Code readers
and viewers are seeking answers to the central questions of life. The
challenge is for us to supply the true answers.
Controversial Jesus-Pig Cartoon at the University of Saskatchewan
A newspaper cartoon targeting religion has once
again sprung into the spotlight -- this time in a two-frame jab at
Christianity in the University of Saskatchewan student newspaper, the Sheaf.
The newspaper is issuing a mea culpa after a cartoon depicting Jesus
performing a sex act on a capitalist pig was published in Thursday's edition
of the Sheaf.
"Cartoon spurs anger U of S student newspaper apologizes for 'mistake',"
The StarPhoenix, March 7, 2006 ---
Muslims may "give their souls" by signing up at the Iranian martyrdom
The Iranian reformist Internet daily Rooz reported
on March 2, 2006 that "the Iranian martyrdom-seeking [i.e. suicide] forces
have launched a website,
, called 'To Die as a Martyr,'  and have
declared an alert among the Iranian martyrdom-seeking forces." The following
are excerpts from the Rooz report:  "Thousands of Young Martyrdom-Seeking
Iranians are Counting the Minutes Until They Can Give Their Souls"
"Iran's Martyr Recruitment Website," FrontPageMagazine, March 8, 2006
I cannot get the
http://www.esteshhad.com site to work. It could be that Iran has either
moved the site or shut it down due to its discovery by the Western media. Or
it could be an elaborate hoax.
What's the surest way to stop repeat offenders from more purse snatching?
"Chinese city will execute purse thieves," The London Times, March
5, 2006 ---
Free Citizen Information Center ---
This site has a lot of consumer information and steers you through
From the Federal Trade Commission
American's Top 10 Dot Cons ---
Bob Jensen's threads on consumer and credit card frauds are at
A Surprising Clue to Parkinson's
Existing research already suggests that the biggest
clumps, known as inclusions, are helpful. Cells that form clumps of the
mutant Huntington protein, for example, survive longer than clump-free
cells. Now MIT scientists have discovered a compound that increases clumps
in cell models of Huntington's and Parkinson's disease and makes the cells
healthier. Scientists aren't sure how the compound works, but they think it
might be helping cells get rid of toxic forms of the proteins floating
around in the cell by isolating them into clumps.
Emily Singer, "A Surprising Clue to Parkinson's: Drugs that boost the
protein clumping that occurs during neurodegenerative disease could provide
a new route to treatment," MIT's Technology Review, March 7, 2006 ---
U.N. Report: Jews are Terrorists, Not Palestinians
Jewish settlers are terrorizing Palestinians with
impunity, attacking children on their way to school and destroying farmers'
trees and crops, a U.N. expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict said in a
report. John Dugard, a South African lawyer, called the withdrawal of
Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip last summer a positive step.
But the Jewish state effectively controls Gaza through targeted killings and
sonic booms from warplanes flying over the region, Dugard said in a report
prepared ahead of next week's annual meeting of the 53-member U.N. Human
"U.N. Report: Jews are Terrorists, Not Palestinians," NewsMax, March
8, 2006 ---
Sigh! When I think of all those "spring breaks" I spent studying in
the library in my college days (no kidding)
The American Medical Association is warning
girls not to go wild during spring break. All but confirming what goes on in
those "Girls Gone Wild" videos, 83 percent of college women and graduates
surveyed by the AMA said spring break involves heavier-than-usual drinking,
and 74 percent said the break results in increased sexual activity. The
women's answers were based both on firsthand experience and the experiences
of friends and acquaintances.
"Girls Gone Wild? Spring Breakers Admit More Sex, Drinking AMA Warns Women
Of Health Risks," ClickOnDetroit, March 8, 2006 ---
In “The Pill,” a record banned by many radio
stations in its day, she (Loretta Lynn) captured perfectly the power of
birth control to let women love without the passion-dowsing fear of
pregnancy: “The feelin’ good comes easy now since I’ve got the pill!”
Loretta Lynn Home Page ---
Don't take this as a commentary against birth control. I'm all for birth
control and abortion rights. I'm not in favor of promiscuous and drunken
spring breaks. I applaud my students who will be in the Trinity University
Library next week.
Do you want to Captivate for your students?
March 6, 2006 message from Tamara Rabinovich
Snagit is super for creating still images,
which allows you, in particular, capturing different areas of your
computer screen. Camtasia is a great product for producing videos.
Captivate is even a better Macromedia (currently Adobe) product to
quickly create great educational videos. Try it and you will love it.
Research and Learning Technologies Consultant
Academic Technology Center
168 Adamian Academic Center
175 Forest St. Waltham, MA 02452
March 6, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Thank you for the information about Captivate.
One thing I like about Snagit is that it will capture a paused video
image in a paused media player such as the Windows Media Player.
Paintshop Pro's capture utility will not capture such a video image.
One thing I don't like about Camtasia is that it will not capture a
video/audio clip in a media player. Will Captivate let you save clips of
video along with the audio running in a Media Player on your computer
March 7, 2006 reply from
Neither Camtasia nor Captivate is meant to be
used to capture a streaming video file (video and audio). In Captivate
you can import video into your program; it gets converted to .swf I
believe (uses a flash wrapper). Whether the embedded video is editable
after you do this - I'm not sure. Or you can put in a link that will
allow streaming video to be played in the captivate program from a
server. Since Captivate actually is capturing single slides, it may be
possible to capture a streaming file but it would probably be jerky.
Never thought of doing this.
The newest version of Camtasia, however, WILL
let you capture embedded video, including the audio. My colleague
experimented with this today and it was a success.
Bob Jensen's threads on video are at
Sine if Bob Jensen's Camtasia videos are listed at
Fraud at Harvard
In a legal settlement reached last summer, Harvard agreed to pay $26.5
Did fraud by a Harvard professor ultimately sink its President Summers?
"Did an Exposé Help Sink Harvard's President?" by Sara Ivry, The New
York Times, February 27, 2006 ---
"I was surprised that he was gone
by February of '06," said Mr. McClintick, and "that it
happened as rapidly as it did."
Harvard Lost Russia" was
published in the January issue of Institutional
Investor magazine, a subscription-only publication,
about a month and a half before Dr. Summers's
resignation, which he announced last Tuesday. The move
came just two weeks after a Feb. 7 meeting when the
president was challenged on several issues, including
his reaction to events described in Mr. McClintick's
In roughly 18,500 words, (22,007 including
sidebars), Mr. McClintick chronicled financial improprieties by those in
charge of Harvard's Russia project, including Andrei Shleifer, a
professor of economics who is a friend and protégé of Dr. Summers's, and
Jonathan Hay, a Harvard-trained lawyer. The two men were accused of
making personal investments in Russia at a time when they were working
under contract to establish capitalism in the former Soviet nation.
Their behavior led the United States government
to file civil charges against Harvard, Mr. Shleifer and Mr. Hay for
fraud, breach of contract and making false claims.
In a settlement reached last summer, Harvard
agreed to pay $26.5 million. Mr. Hay
was ordered to pay a fine based on his future earnings and Mr. Shleifer
agreed to pay $2 million, though none of the parties admitted
wrongdoing. Mr. Shleifer has not been subjected to any disciplinary
action from Harvard.
Some Harvard watchers attribute that to Dr.
Summers's influence, though he formally recused himself from the matter,
and they see the entire affair, assiduously detailed by Mr. McClintick,
as an indelible stain on Harvard's
Mr. McClintick, 65, a 1962 graduate of Harvard,
is a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the author of
several books, including "Indecent Exposure," which investigated
financial scandal at Columbia Pictures. That book was a finalist for the
National Book Award and helped solidify Mr. McClintick's reputation as a
Continued in article
Update on March 8, 2006|
Harvard University's faculty-ethics board is
investigating Andrei Shleifer, a star in its economics department star who
was caught up along with the school in a scandal that involved investing in
Russia, according to a person familiar with the matter. Prof. Shleifer and
Harvard last year paid nearly $30 million to settle a civil suit brought by
the U.S. government alleging that Prof. Shleifer violated federal
conflict-of-interest rules by investing in Russia. The case dates back a
decade when Mr. Shleifer headed a U.S.-government-funded Harvard project to
help Russia develop financial markets
John Hechinger, "Harvard Investigates Conduct Of a Star Economics
Professor," The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2006; Page A6
Bob Jensen's threads on the Harvard fracture are at
Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at
What about your secret, hush-hush,
Bankruptcy Risk Score that you don't even
Thanks to new laws, you can find out your FICO credit score. But
lenders are increasingly using a secret credit score on you that is their
While most people are aware that their credit
score can have a large impact on their financial lives, there is another
score that the credit bureaus keep that most people are not aware of - your
Bankruptcy Risk Score Your credit score is made up mostly of your history of
obtaining credit and paying off debt. This score helps determine what type
of interest rate you receive on credit cards or loans that you apply for.
Most people assume that it is this score alone is used by the financial
institutions considering whether or not to give you a loan. The truth is
that a bankruptcy risk score is now being used more and more when lending
institutions are looking at a person's credit history. The bankruptcy risk
score has been around for about 20 years, but has been kept fairly hush -
hush. It measures how likely a person is to file bankruptcy and uses
information that makes it more specific than a credit risk score. The
bankruptcy risk score is exclusively for lenders provided by the credit
reporting agencies. This bankruptcy score is supposedly a complex mix of
your credit score plus your spending habits. The credit agencies and those
that use this report (and have contributed to creating it) don't want to
reveal the model because they spend a lot of time and money developing it
and if they explain it, they are giving away part of it's value. Therefore
little is said about this report (and why you have never likely heard of it
before). You may be able to learn a bit more about it in the near future.
Experian is considering making its bankruptcy risk score available to
consumers. This is after they revealed a study last July which ranked the
states that had consumers who were most likely to file for bankruptcy within
the next year.
"Bankruptcy Risk Score - The Hidden Credit Score ," Jeffrey Administrator,
February 21, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on credit ratings and FICO scores are at
The likelihood of suffering medical depression seems to be increased
especially those who smoke heavily, study findings suggest.
Researchers in Norway who followed a
population-based group of adults for 11 years found that those who smoked
were more likely than non-smokers to become depressed, and the risk climbed
in tandem with the number of cigarettes smokers puffed each day. Heavy
smokers -- those who burned through more than 20 cigarettes a day -- were
four times more likely than people who'd never smoked to develop depression.
A number of factors the researchers considered -- including physical health,
exercise and stressful life events -- failed to explain the link between
smoking and later depression. This suggests, they say, that smoking may
directly contribute to the development of the mood disorder. For instance,
nicotine may over time change brain levels of the emotion-related chemical
serotonin, which appears to be reduced in people with depression, the
study's lead author, Dr. Ole Klungsoyr, told Reuters Health.
Amy Norton, "Smoking tied to risk of depression," Yahoo News, March
3, 2006 ---
Updates from WebMD (Note that for some people, coffee increases heart
Latest Headlines on March 7, 2006
Latest Headlines on March 8
Will the President of Case Western University encounter the same fate as
The big difference is that Harvard did not suffer from deficits and red ink!
Upon taking office, he has pushed
hard to attract more top students (spending too much to do
so, according to faculty critics) and emphasized a
commitment to undergraduate education through a program
called the Seminar Approach to General Education and
The program replaces many general
education lecture courses that students would normally take
as freshmen or sophomores with interdisciplinary seminars,
all led by faculty members. Professors have mixed views on
the ideas behind SAGES, but many who like the concept say
that the president didn’t adequately involve them before he
turned a pilot project into a full-scale, expensive
commitment. The bottom line, according to professors, is
that the president’s plans weren’t designed or executed well
and are leaving the university drowning in red ink. In his
e-mail to faculty members this week, Hundert acknowledged a
need to cut $17 million to balance this year’s budget, as
well as a $40 million “recurring deficit” at the university.
Scott Jaschik, "Revolt at Case Western,"
Inside Higher Ed
March 2, 2006 ---
For an update see
"Army 8, Yale 0," The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2006;
Page A12 ---
"Slapped by the Supremes," Inside Higher Ed, March 7, 2006 ---
ACLU views on the Supreme Court's agenda
The Court already has on its docket a series of important civil liberties
cases involving abortion, free speech, the free exercise of religion, search
and seizure, the right to die, military recruiting on university campuses,
and disability rights.
We disagree with the Court’s decision today in
Rumsfeld v. FAIR. Universities should not be punished by the loss of their
federal funding merely because they apply the same non-discrimination
policies to the military that they apply to every other employer that seeks
to recruit on campus.
The American Civil Liberties Union today
expressed disappointment over a Supreme Court ruling that upholds a
federal law requiring colleges to allow military recruiters on campus or
else lose out on federal funding. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court
brief in the case, Rumsfeld v. FAIR, arguing that it is unconstitutional
for Congress to force law schools that object to discrimination against
gay people to give the military access to their recruitment programs.
The following quote can be attributed to ACLU
Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro.
“We disagree with the Court’s decision today in
Rumsfeld v. FAIR. Universities should not be punished by the loss of
their federal funding merely because they apply the same
non-discrimination policies to the military that they apply to every
other employer that seeks to recruit on campus.”
“At the same time, the unanimity of today’s
decision strongly suggests that the Court did not think it was changing
any existing constitutional rules. Certainly, nothing in today’s
decision endorses the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy or any
other form of discrimination against gay people.”
Wasn't Warren Buffet supposed to be infallible?
How did he lose billions?
Warren Buffett, the second-richest man in America, is $1.8 billion
poorer this year due to bad bets - also losing billions for his loyal
following. The 75 year-old "Oracle of Omaha," considered by some as the
world's greatest investor, has suffered an embarrassing 2.36 percent loss in
returns on his huge Berkshire Hathaway empire in the past year. The pricey
shares skidded from their peak last December of $91,200 apiece to $87,490
yesterday. That represents a drop of nearly $4.7 billion in just three
months for his shareholders.
Paul Tharp, "WARREN BUFFETTED FOR $1.8B IN '05," New York Post, March 4,
What are some of the real benefits of research?
Academic research is often big business these days.
But the Association of University Technology Managers wants the world to
know that it’s about helping people, too. The group released a collection of
its version of heart-warming academic research stories, in the hope that
people will see it isn’t all about money or esoteric discipline specific
pursuits. “This is an initiative to build a better understanding of the
results of academic research,” said W. Mark Crowell, past president of AUTM
and associate vice chancellor for economic development and technology
transfer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The “
Better World Report” is basically a book of
short stories from the blockbuster discovery genre.
David Epstein, "Money Isn’t Everything," Inside Higher Ed, March 6,
A rain forest in Iowa? Give us a break
Despite an initial $10 million donation by Mr.
Townsend and his Iowa Center for Health in a Loving Democracy (Child)
Institute, what is now called the Environmental Project bounced around the
state for years without gaining much traction, let alone financial backing.
That all changed in 2003, however, when Chuck Grassley, Republican chairman
of the Senate Finance Committee and a self-described "fiscal conservative,"
tagged a massive energy bill with a $50 million earmark to bring Mr.
Townsend's dream here to Coralville, a thriving Eastern Iowa community near
the University of Iowa and the Iowa 80 Truckstop (aka "The World's Largest
Michael Judge, "The Incredible Shrinking Rain Forest The strange odyssey of
Sen. Grassley's earmark," The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2006 ---
When half the students get A grades, how can we tell which of the A
students are best?
In the cat-and-mouse maneuvering over admission to
prestigious colleges and universities, thousands of high schools have simply
stopped providing that information, concluding it could harm the chances of
their very good, but not best, students. Canny college officials, in turn,
have found a tactical way to respond. Using broad data that high schools
often provide, like a distribution of grade averages for an entire senior
class, they essentially recreate an applicant's class rank. The process has
left them exasperated. "If we're looking at your son or daughter and you
want us to know that they are among the best in their school, without a rank
we don't necessarily know that," said Jim Bock, dean of admissions and
financial aid at Swarthmore College.
Alan Finder, "Schools Avoid Class Ranking, Vexing Colleges," The New York
Times, March 5, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on grade inflation and assessment are at
There was a rumor that natural blondes were going extinct. Actually they're
just being reincarnated.
A team of American-led divers has discovered a
new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered
with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct
from other species that they created a new family and genus for it. The
divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep at a site 900 miles south
of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French
Institute for Sea Exploration.
"New Animal Resembling Furry Lobster Found," Yahoo News
, March 7,
Natural blondes are going extinct. It's a published fact!
Suppose this study had actually been reported a leading
accounting research journal such as The Accounting Review.
Keep in mind that leading accounting research journals do
not publish replication studies.
As a result few accounting researchers conduct replication
studies since they cannot be published.
The logical deduction becomes that accountants would forever
think that natural blondes are going extinct.
I guess you
can say that The Washington Post had a "bad hair day."
From the WSJ
Opinion Journal on March 6, 2006
"Media outlets around the world, from CBS, ABC and
CNN to the British tabloids" all fell for a hoax--a fake
study from the World Health Organization claiming
blondes are going extinct.
The Washington Post reported
(Actually I think the story was removed by The
Washington Post for good reason.)
"The decline and fall of
the blonde is most likely being caused by bottle
blondes, who researchers believe are more attractive
to men than true blondes," said CBS "Early Show"
co-host Gretchen Carlson.
"There's a study from the
World Health Organization--this is for real--that
says that blondes are an endangered species,"
Charlie Gibson said on "Good Morning America,"
prompting Diane Sawyer to say she's "going the way
of the snail darter." . . .
"We've certainly never
conducted any research into the subject," WHO
spokeswoman Rebecca Harding said yesterday from
Geneva. "It's been impossible to find out where it
came from. It just seems like it was a hoax."
The health group traced the
story to an account Thursday on a German wire
service, which in turn was based on a two-year-old
article in the German women's magazine Allegra,
which cited a WHO anthropologist. Harding could find
no record of such a man working for the WHO.
Hey, if you're a journalist, we've got a great
human-interest story for you: Did you hear about the
blonde who invented the solar flashlight? ---
Now you see how ridiculous the
accounting journal policy of not publishing replications
becomes. Hopefully this published story in a leading U.S.
newspaper (I mean The Washington Post that broke the
Watergate scandal) the next time you read the findings in a
leading accounting research journal.
Bob Jensen's threads on research replication are at
This is replication doing its job
Purdue University is investigating “extremely
serious” concerns about the research of Rusi Taleyarkhan, a professor of
nuclear engineering who has published articles saying that he had produced
nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment,
The New York Times reported. While the research
was published in Science in 2002, the findings have faced increasing
skepticism because other scientists have been unable to replicate them.
Taleyarkhan did not respond to inquiries from The Times about the
Inside Higher Ed, March 08, 2006 ---
The New York Times March 9 report is at
March 7, 2006 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University
Bob Jensen responded: "Do you think these
hoaxes are all being planted by the Bush Administration just to
embarrass the administration's media nemesis? If not, maybe Julie Nixon
decided to wait until March 6, 2006 to get even."
Bob, I don't believe they are planted. i
believe the media cultivates them on purpose. They graft, they
propagate, they harvest, and cook and serve, because it helps
readership. Your liberal quotations of media reports are examples of how
I think the same of the media that you think of
corporate executives and independent auditors when it comes to
fraudulent financial reporting. And for exactly the same reasons.
Both of these fields (public accounting and
news-reporting) are assumed by the public to be operating in the best
interest of the public. Both are assumed by the general public to be
reporting objective facts, clearly and concisely, with minimum of bias,
error, and falsehood.
Your posts on financial reporting scandals
point out that in many cases, the public's assumptions are false when it
comes to auditors and corporate executives. My posts point out that in
many cases, the public's assumptions are false when it comes to
so-called news media.
That you and I both bemoan the "increase" in
this environment is much more a factor of you and I getting old than it
is any real increase in the environment. Fraud and false reporting has
been with us since the beginning (read the account of the Serpent in the
Garden of Eden in Genesis - - even if you don't accept the Bible as
factual, it makes a good point about the origins of fraud and false
assertions and reporting!)
I have personal knowledge of a few inaccurate
accounting reports. But I also have knowledge of some very accurate
accounting reports. By contrast, I've not yet, not YET in my life, ever
personally experienced a situation and then read a factual account of
the experience in a news outlet that didn't have some aspect(s)
incorrect, and in some cases, out and out falsehoods were injected
mainly for the purposes of enhancing the "shock" appeal, the
"entertainment" appeal, or some other greedy purpose of the news outlet,
traceable directly to the profit motive or reputation motive or both.
If accountants had the track record of media
journalists when it comes to accuracy and reliability of reporting,
there'd be more CPA's in jail than Carter has pills.
It is my experience that fraudulent financial
reporting is not the rule but the exception, where my experience is that
false news reports ARE the rule and not the exception.
The public is hoodwinked, either way, but I believe the ramifications of
false news reporting is the more harmful of the two, and certainly is
the more ubiquitous.
Planted? I'm not sure. Cultivated, watered, and
fertilized? Yep. For Sure.
March 7, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
You wrote "It is my experience that fraudulent financial reporting is
not the rule but the exception, where my experience is that false news
reports ARE the rule and not the exception."
Increasingly, I am concerned about "stretched financial reporting"
being the rule rather than the exception, especially for giant clients.
In many ways Enron was guilty of stretch accounting as much as outright
fraudulent reporting. I think the problem increases with the size of the
client. The auditing firm can afford play hard ball with small and
medium clients. Playing hard ball with a giant client is tantamount to
suicide. Thus we have "stretch accounting."
Jason Williams in a recent Glass Lewis report entitled “The Hocus
Pocus of Hedge Accounting” reports on 40 companies that revised their
financial statements due to suspected willful violations of FAS 133. FAS
133 is a prize because companies and their auditors can always claim
ignorance or error in applying such an impossibly complex standard. But
Williams (a financial analyst) suggests that the violations, like your
media violations, are in many cases intentional. He states: “Some
companies with the blessing of their auditors have improperly applied
the rules governing accounting for financial instruments and derivatives
... “ (Page 2)
The problem is simple enough. Executives either want to smooth
earnings to please risk-averse investors or these executives want to pad
their bonuses. As far as the auditor is concerned, there's too much
fixed cost to recover and too much revenue dependence to buck a giant
client (rhymes) at the local office level.
Will our economy go Fannie up?
Are auditors ever going to be really independent when clients are too huge
to give up?
The auditors (this time not Arthur Andersen) failed
to stand up to the management or didn't understand what was happening.
Peter J. Wallison, "$1.5 Trillion of Debt," The Wall Street Journal,
March 7, 2006; Page A12 ---
The Rudman Report on Fannie Mae recites facts
eerily similar to what we now know about Enron. According to the report,
the CFO of Fannie misled the board (and possibly the CEO) about the
financial position of the company. The CEO, head of the corporate
governance committee of the powerful Business Roundtable, regularly
misled Wall Street and the board, but may not have understood the
accounting. The auditors (this time not
Arthur Andersen) failed to stand up to the management or didn't
understand what was happening. The
board, primarily made up of independent directors, and the audit
committee, made up entirely of independent directors, were unable to
penetrate the scam and remained clueless as earnings were manipulated.
In Fannie's case there was also a regulator, but the regulator did not
begin to look into any problems until it had been surprised by similar
wrongdoing at Fannie's smaller sibling, Freddie Mac.
What we should learn from this -- much of which
occurred after the adoption of Sarbanes-Oxley -- is that a board made up
primarily of independent directors, an audit committee made up entirely
of independent directors, a Big Four accounting firm alerted to the
dangers of accounting fraud, and a regulator that claimed to be fully on
top of what was happening, could not prevent senior management from
fudging the accounting and misleading the board and investors. No
surprise there. Many observers were saying, both before and after the
enactment of SOX, that a management determined to defraud or mislead
could evade the scrutiny of all the gatekeepers.
This has important implications for the
legislation now before Congress to reform the regulation of Fannie and
Freddie and limit the size of their portfolios. Since dishonesty and
incompetence are an unavoidable fact of life, and gatekeepers are
unreliable, investors must protect themselves by diversifying their
investments. But there is good reason to believe that diversification
would not be available if dishonesty or incompetence at Fannie or
Freddie in the future resulted in the collapse or financial incapacity
Fannie and Freddie are not ordinary companies.
They have almost $1.5 trillion of debt outstanding, which they borrowed
to buy and carry portfolios of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities;
these portfolios expose both companies to enormous interest-rate and
prepayment risk. To hedge this risk, Fannie and Freddie are parties to
derivatives transactions with notional values in the trillions, in which
the counterparties are some of the largest financial institutions; any
failure of Fannie or Freddie to meet its obligations would expose these
institutions to substantial losses. Fannie and Freddie debt is also held
widely by banks and other financial institutions, in some cases
accounting for more than 100% of their capital; a decline in the value
of that debt would seriously weaken these organizations and reduce their
capacity to lend.
Finally, both companies are central to the
real-estate financing market. If either of them could not function
normally, that market -- amounting to almost a third of the economy --
would freeze up. As Alan Greenspan has pointed out for years, the risks
inherent in the portfolios carried by Fannie and Freddie add up to huge
systemic risk -- the danger that a failure at either company will spread
to the economy as a whole.
So here is the key difference between Enron and
either Fannie or Freddie. Dishonesty or incompetence in Enron's
management hurt shareholders and employees, both of whom could have
protected themselves through diversification of investments. Dishonesty
or incompetence in Fannie's or Freddie's managements could throw the
economy into chaos, and from that catastrophe diversification provides
no shelter. Faith in boards, audit committees, auditors and even
regulators has been shown to be misplaced. Sure, Congress would likely
come in and bail them out -- but immediately, without extended debate,
and with trillions of taxpayer dollars potentially at risk? Not a
chance. And the damage in the meantime would be devastating.
As reform legislation languishes in the Senate,
Congress should consider the lessons of Enron, Fannie and Freddie:
Despite our best efforts, error and fraud will occur. That's why it's
important to make sure -- by reducing the size of Fannie and Freddie's
portfolios -- that no future management failure at either company will
threaten the stability of the economy.
Mr. Wallison is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise
Bob Jensen's threads on Fannie Mae are at
Bob Jensen's threads on professionalism of auditors are at
Do you want to install SiteAdvisor or don't you know at this point in time?
"SiteAdvisor Adds Search Safety," by Brian Krebs, The Washington Post,
February 28, 2006 ---
Since its inception, Security Fix has warned
Microsoft Windows users to be extremely wary of clicking on Web links
that arrive via instant messenger or e-mail, as these are the most
common ways that malware spreads online today. But the sad truth is that
for many Internet users, clicking on unfamiliar links that turn up in
Google, MSN or Yahoo search results frequently expose users to security
For the past few weeks I've been surfing the
Web with the help of the beta version of a browser add-on called
SiteAdvisor, a tool that offers users a fair amount of information about
the relative safety and security of sites that show up in Internet
searches. As I played around with this program, it became clear that
this is a tool that not only allows users to make informed security
decisions about a site before they click on a search result link, but it
also holds the potential to fuel a more informed public dialogue about
the often murky relationship between Fortune 500 companies and the
spyware and adware industry.
But more on the Fortune 500 stuff later.
SiteAdvisor is a browser add-on for Firefox or Internet Explorer that
tries to interpret the relative safety of clicking on Web search
results. With SiteAdvisor installed, each listing is accompanied by a
small color-coded icon that indicates whether the software developers
have received any reports of scammy, spammy or outright malicious
activity emanating from the site.
The software gets its intel from a proprietary
"spidering" technology that crawls around the Web much the same way as
search engines do. The company's spiders browse sites with the
equivalent of an unpatched version of IE to see if sites try to use any
security exploits to install spyware or adware on a visitor's machine.
"Our attitude is, if a site gives you an
exploit with an older version of IE, it's probably not one you want to
visit with a newer version," said Chris Dixon, one of SiteAdvisor's
If you use IE and try to visit any site that
the program has seen using security vulnerabilites to install software,
the program immediately redirects you to a SiteAdvisor page offering
more information on the threat posed by the site (users can still chose
to visit the site if they so wish after the initial warning). All such
sites will earn a big red "X" next to their search listing, as will
others that threaten to bombard suscribers with junk e-mail or have
questionable relationships with third-party advertisers or shady Web
Hover over the red "X" with your mouse arrow
and a small window appears urging you to exercise "extreme caution" in
visiting the site. If you then visit the site, a red dialogue box
emerges that offers a brief description of why SiteAdvisor doesn't like
Continued in article
"'X' Marks the Spyware A startup offers Internet users simple warnings
about a website's potential for spyware and spam," by David Talbot , MIT's
Technology Review, March 1, 2006 ---
Spyware has emerged as the bane of
the Internet -- and finding solutions represents a
growing obsession of Web users and the industry that
serves them. The newest entrant in the counteroffensive
launches today: Boston-based startup
SiteAdvisor is releasing
software that warns a user about potential spyware and
and malware problem is enormous. According to a recent
Pew Internet & American Life Project, the computers of
roughly 59 million Americans are infected with spyware.
And home computer users spent around $3.5 billion in
2003-04 to fix the problems, according to a recent
Consumer Reports investigation. Infected machines often
slow down dramatically and begin generating error
messages, and some types of spyware code can steal
passwords and other personal information.
While many established software
products remove known spyware, the warnings and
advisories generated by SiteAdvisor are meant to keep
users' computers from getting infected in the first
place. So far, the company says it has collected data on
two million websites. While this is a fraction of all
websites, the company says those it rates make up 95
percent of all online traffic.
technology checks whether sites offer programs for
downloading, whether those programs carry spyware-like
software, and whether entering an e-mail address in
signup forms will generate spam. The company stores the
accumulated knowledge in its databases, adds more
information from website owners and users, and offers
the warnings via a browser plug-in for Internet Explorer
here to view samples of warnings ---
The SiteAdvisor home page is at
Bob Jensen's threads on network security are at
State Business Tax Climate Index Rankings by State, 2006 ---
Business Tax Climate Index ---
Fearing your student evaluations, how much time and trouble should you
devote to email questions from your students?
For junior faculty members, the barrage of e-mail
has brought new tension into their work lives, some say, as they struggle
with how to respond. Their tenure prospects, they realize, may rest in part
on student evaluations of their accessibility. The stakes are different for
professors today than they were even a decade ago, said Patricia Ewick,
chairwoman of the sociology department at Clark University in Massachusetts,
explaining that "students are constantly asked to fill out evaluations of
individual faculty." Students also frequently post their own evaluations on
Web sites like
their impressions of their professors on blogs.
Jonathan D. Glater, "To: Professor@University.edu Subject: Why It's All
About Me," The New York Times, February 21, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on controversies over student evaluations are at
Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side of education technology ---
"Will Home Robots Ever Clean Up? Helen Greiner of
iRobot talks about how the company's Roomba vacuum cleaner
succeeded -- and why they don't have competitors," by
Wade Roush, MIT's Technology Review, March 3, 2006
"The Art of Building a Robot to Love," by Henry Fountain, The New York
Times, March 5, 2006 ---
Robotic 'pack mule' displays stunning reflexes
A nimble, four-legged robot is so
surefooted it can recover its balance even after being given
a hefty kick. The machine, which moves like a cross between
a goat and a pantomime horse, is being developed as a
robotic pack mule for the US military. BigDog is described
by its developers Boston Dynamics as “the most advanced
quadruped robot on Earth”. The company have released a new
video of the robot negotiating steep slopes, crossing rocky
ground and dealing with the sharp kick. View the impressive
clip here (28MB Windows media file). “Internal force sensors
detect the ground variations and compensate for them,” says
company president and project manager Marc Raibert. “And
BigDog's active balance allows it to maintain stability when
we disturb it." This active balance is maintained by four
legs, each with three joints powered by actuators and a
fourth "springy" joint. All the joints are controlled by an
onboard PC processor.
"Robotic 'pack mule' displays stunning reflexes," New
Scientist, March 3, 2006 ---
Do you suppose a Democratic Party donkey version with a
controllable mouth is being developed to replace Howard
Website that allows ex-wives to dish out dirt on their exes
They form Britain's least wanted list: an online database of men that
womankind has declared are to be avoided at all costs. Cads, lotharios and
bedhopping chancers all take their place on a new website set up by cheated
partners intent on sending out a warning to women around the world.
Jonathan Thompson, "Caution: Don't date... him: Two-timed women have
hit back with a website that dishes the dirt on their exes," The
Independent, March 5, 2006 ---
On our way to having one telephone company once again. Can you guess its
The difference is that phone rates will not be regulated.
AT&T Corp. (read that SBC)
is planning to acquire BellSouth Corp.,
according to several people familiar with the negotiations who asked not to
be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks. A merger of two of
the four remaining Bell phone companies would represent a huge step toward
recreating the monopoly that existed in the phone business before the old
AT&T was broken up in 1984. The companies are expected to announce a deal as
early as Monday.
Ken Belson, "AT&T Is Said to Be Near Deal for BellSouth," The New York
Times, March 5, 2006 ---
I forgot my cell phone on a recent flight. It was a surprise that the pay
phones in the San Antonio Airport now let you phone anywhere in the United
States for $0.50 with unlimited time. I guess this is one of the positive
side effects competing in the era of cell phones that eliminated most pay
phone calls. But I rarely trust monopolies and am said to see these mergers
being allowed by our ineffectual trust busters in Washington DC.
Is Canada's national health plan doomed?
Canada's government-run national health system,
often held before Americans as a model method of delivering medical care,
has been gradually falling to pieces in recent years, and last week it
received what many fear will prove the knock-out blow. That blow came from
Alberta where the provincial Conservative government of Premier Ralph Klein
is defying federal laws intended to safeguard the system against private
medical practice. Klein unveiled a plan to institute a controversial
"two-tier system" in his province – meaning two levels of medical care, one
run by the government and delivered without fee, the other delivered
privately with a fee attached.
Ted Byfield, "The beginning of the end of socialist health care?"
WorldNetDaily, March 4, 2006 ---
"Email Etiquette an Oxymoron? Perhaps Not," by Sanford Pinsker,
The Irascible Professor, March 1, 2006 ---
Is your church or favorite charity violating its tax exempt status?
Among the prohibited activities, the examiners
found that charities and churches had distributed printed material
supporting a preferred candidate and assembled improper voter guides or
candidate ratings. Religious leaders had used the pulpit to endorse or
oppose a particular candidate, and some groups had shown preferential
treatment to candidates by letting them speak at functions. Other charities
and churches had made improper cash contributions to a candidate's political
campaign. The IRS said the cases covered "the full spectrum" of political
"IRS Finds Charities Overstep Into Politics," SmartPros, February 28,
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
Yet another example of how to lie with statistics
"WEA 'Take the Lead' Campaign Misleads," by Marsha Richards, Evergreen
Freedom Foundation, February 24, 2006 ---
The Washington Education Association (WEA) is
running radio and television ads decrying the fact that our state is
46th in the nation for class size, and 42nd in the nation for per-pupil
spending. The ads, part of a campaign dubbed “Take the Lead,” are meant
to generate sympathy for increased education spending.
Unfortunately, they’re misleading. And shallow.
A moment’s consideration of the facts shows us
the WEA’s campaign is without substance. Consider the facts behind two
of the union’s claims (which are featured in television ads this week):
1. Washington ranks 46th in the nation in class
size. Rankings are interesting, but they’re meaningless without
baselines. Ranking “high” or “low” doesn’t answer the real question:
What is Washington’s average class size? The WEA’s own national
affiliate admits that “no state-by-state actual class size information
What we do know is that our state legislature
allocates funding to pay for a student/teacher ratio of 18.8 to one. And
according to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the state employs
55.7 K-12 classroom teachers for every 1,000 students, which means there
is one teacher for every 18 students.
Many teachers will tell you their classes are
larger than 18 or 19 students. Yet the WEA doesn’t seem interested in
figuring out why this is and where current dollars are going.
Further, while class sizes are certainly
important, they are only meaningful in context with the factors that
matter most in student learning: quality and experience of the teacher,
curriculum, school leadership, classroom discipline, and parental
involvement. Some teachers can handle larger classes without difficulty;
some subjects require more intensive interaction than others; some
students learn with more ease than others. Class sizes should be
determined by local teachers and administrators, not mandated at the
2. Washington ranks 42nd in the nation in
education spending. Again, rankings are interesting, but they don’t tell
us much without baselines. The important questions are: How much is
Washington spending per-pupil, and how much is enough?
According to the Superintendent of Public
Instruction, Washington spent an average of $10,103 per K-12 student
last year. That’s a lot of money. Is it enough to do the job? It’s hard
to answer that question without meaningful performance audits of our
K-12 schools, but it’s interesting to note that it rivals the tuition at
some of our state’s elite private schools.
It is well documented that higher education
spending doesn’t necessarily mean higher student achievement.
Washington, D.C. spends more than any state, yet has the lowest student
test scores. Utah spends less than most states, yet has some of the
highest student test scores.
It costs money to provide a quality education,
but how you spend that money is just as important as how much.
There is no "one size fits all" savings prescription to acquire this
nest egg. You need to consider age, wealth, projected employment income and
other personal factors to establish a reasonable range for what you can save
"Getting Real About Retirement: Why using historical stock returns
to project your nest egg's growth may give you false confidence," by Alfred
Rappaport, The Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2006; Page R2 ---
The final critical factor affecting the success
of your retirement plan is the investment return from now until you hang
up your work clothes. Many investors and financial advisors favor a
simple approach to forecasting future returns, taking the average 10.4%
compounded annual return for large-company U. S. stocks over the past
eight decades. There are five reasons why this is a bad idea:
• The return is not inflation-adjusted.
• Future returns are likely to be lower than
• The return ignores expenses.
• The return ignores taxes.
• Most investors do not reinvest all of their
Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at
Largest crater discovered in Sahara
Researchers from Boston University have discovered
the remnants of the largest crater of the Great Sahara of North Africa,
which may have been formed by a meteorite impact tens of millions of years
ago. Dr. Farouk El-Baz made the discovery while studying satellite images of
the Western Desert of Egypt with his colleague, Dr. Eman Ghoneim, at BU's
Center for Remote Sensing. The double-ringed crater – which has an outer rim
surrounding an inner ring – is approximately 31 kilometers in diameter.
Prior to the latest finding, the Sahara's biggest known crater, in Chad,
measured just over 12 kilometers. According to El-Baz, the Center's
director, the crater’s vast area suggests the location may have been hit by
a meteorite the entire size of the famous Meteor (Barringer) Crater in
Arizona which is 1.2 kilometers wide. El-Baz named his find “Kebira,” which
means “large” in Arabic and also relates to the crater’s physical location
on the northern tip of the Gilf Kebir region in southwestern Egypt. The
reason why a crater this big had never been found before is something the
scientists are speculating.
"Largest crater discovered in Sahara," PhysOrg, March 5, 2006 ---
Does Cleveland police logo contain image of pig?
See MSNBC, February 27, 2006 ---
"Google's Latest Bundle of Goodies Is Worth Opening," by Rob
Pegoraro, The Washington Post, February 27, 2006 ---
consists of five Google programs (Google Earth,
Google Desktop, the Picasa photo organizer, the
Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer and the new
Google Pack Screensaver), a version of Mozilla
Firefox with the Google Toolbar built in, the
Ad-Aware SE Personal spyware remover, a copy of
Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 2005 SE that includes
six months of updates and Adobe Reader 7. You can
also remove any of these components or add any of
four optional ingredients -- the Google Talk and
Trillian instant messengers, RealPlayer and a
gallery of art images to use as desktop backgrounds
or screensaver images -- before beginning the
presence of so much Googleware should explain why
the Mountain View, Calif., company isn't doing this
just out of charity; a Google Pack user will never
be far from links to Google sites and services.)
Continued in article
It's a little like encouraging burglars so security guards have more
"The job of security companies is to make the Apple
platform look insecure," said Enderle. "They're now convinced that Apple is
their next big revenue opportunity." According to Enderle, that's what's
behind recent security alerts and warnings, first for a pair of worms --
which Apple argued weren't worms at all -- then for an unpatched
vulnerability that could let attackers hijack Macs. "I'm not implying that
there is collusion between security companies and hackers," said Enderle,
"but security companies only make money if there are security exposures."
But he did claim that there was a connection between vulnerability
disclosures and exploits, that the cause of the second was actually the
Greg Keizer, "Analyst Dings Security Vendors For Exploiting Apple Flaws:
Rob Enderle is convinced that security companies see Apple as their next big
revenue opportunity," InformationWeek, February 27, 2006 ---
Meanwhile, analyst Rob
Enderle--one of the IT industry's chief pot stirrers--asserts that the
security vendor community is, in effect,
feeding itself with all the warnings it issues,
Apple merely being the latest example. "By telling people about an exposure,
you're telling someone else how to [exploit] it. I think security companies
should spend more time catching criminals than telling them how to become
one," the ever-provocative Enderle says. His view is, in turn, dismissed by
Gartner security expert John Pescatore as so much old news. But if security
vendors didn't derive at least some benefit from all the publicity
surrounding vulnerabilities, they'd be far less proactive in dishing out the
information, advice, and expertise every time a new one comes to light.
Tom Smith, "Apple, Security, And Disturbing Questions," InformationWeek
Daily Newsletter, March 1, 2006
"Is OS X Truly Vulnerable? Only one
of three recent concerns about the security of Apple's operating system is
worth worrying about," by Daniel Turner, MIT's Technology Review,
March 1, 2006 ---
The Wall Street Journal Flashback, February 28, 1949
nickel an hour. That's about the average wage boost
industrial workers will get this spring. The administration
sees an increase as necessary to keep purchasing power up,
but is concerned about inflation and layoffs if pay rises
A Quantum Encryption Breakthrough
Researchers at the University of
Toronto have shown, in a study published in the February 24
issue of Physical Review Letters, that one of the present
liabilities of quantum cryptography can be turned into an
advantage. Using "quantum decoys,"
Professor Hoi-Kwong Lo
team are increasing the distance that quantum-encrypted data
can be sent over fiber-optic cable. Quantum cryptography
uses particles of light called photons to create and send
keys used for coding and decoding messages. A photon can
transmit bits of a key by representing a 1 or 0, depending
on a property called polarization. The sender of this key
(physicists call her "Alice") transmits a string of randomly
polarized single photons to the recipient ("Bob"), who
collects each photon, one at a time.
Kate Greene, "A Quantum Encryption Breakthrough: This
new technique dupes eavesdroppers," MIT's Technology
, March 3, 2006 ---
Practical Fuel-Cell Vehicles
The future of fuel-cell vehicles is already
happening in an unlikely proving ground: forklifts used in warehouses.
Several manufacturers are testing forklifts powered by a combination of fuel
cells and batteries -- and finding that these hybrids perform far better
than the lead-acid battery systems now typically used. In some situations,
in fact, they could pay for themselves in cost savings and added
productivity within two or three years. The adoption of the technology
points to a promising hybrid strategy for finally making fuel cells
economically practical for all sorts of vehicles. While researchers have
speculated for years that hydrogen fuel cells could power clean, electric
vehicles, cutting emissions and decreasing our dependence on oil,
manufacturing fuel cells big enough to power a car is prohibitively
expensive -- one of the main reasons they are not yet in widespread use. But
by relying on batteries or ultracapacitors to deliver peak power loads, such
as for acceleration, fuel cells can be sized as much as four times smaller,
slashing manufacturing costs and helping to bring fuel cell-powered vehicles
Kevin Bullis, "Practical Fuel-Cell Vehicles: Hybrid vehicles operating
in an unusual environment are lifting the prospects of fuel cells,"
MIT's Technology Review, March 3, 2006 ---
Hawaiian Senators Block Genetic Modified Crops
State senators have advanced two bills putting
limits on the genetic modification of taro and coffee, crops that are key to
Hawaii's identity. The bills that passed out of a dual committee meeting
Wednesday would ban until 2011 the field testing of strains of both plants
that have been engineered or spliced with the genes of other organisms. The
modified plants could, however, be grown in greenhouses. The taro bill also
would place a five-year ban on genetically modifying Hawaiian varieties of
the plant, whose roots are made into poi, one of the state's best-known
foods. In Hawaiian folklore, taro is considered to be a sacred ancestor of
Native Hawaiians, linking them to island soil.
"Hawaiian Bill: No GM Coffee Plantations Hawaii Senate lawmakers advance
limits on genetic modification research," MIT's Technology Review,
March 2, 2006 ---
Who’s Afraid of David Horowitz?
You would never know it from McLemee’s article, but
The Professors is not about any threat from left-wing ideas as such.
It is about the intellectual corruption of the university, and the intrusion
of political agendas into the academic curriculum. I know this statement
will come as a surprise to those familiar only with the attacks themselves,
so here is what the book actually says: “This book is not intended as a text
about left-wing bias in the university and does not propose that a leftwing
perspective on academic faculties is a problem in itself. Every individual,
whether conservative or liberal, has a perspective and therefore a bias.
Professors have every right to interpret the subjects they teach according
to their individual points of view. That is the essence of academic freedom.
But they also have professional obligations as teachers, whose purpose is
the instruction and education of students, not to impose their biases on
their students as though they were scientific facts.”
"Who’s Afraid of David Horowitz?" by David Horowitz, Inside Higher Ed,
February 27, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on The Professors by David Horowitz are at
February 27, 2006 message from Rohan Chambers
Bans Wireless Networking, Citing Health Concerns
The president of Lakehead
University, in Ontario, says that he will not allow the
institution to deploy a wireless network on the campus out of
concern that the electromagnetic frequencies such systems emit
could endanger students' health.
The president, Frederick F.
Gilbert, became concerned about the health effects of wireless
networks after reading studies done by scientists for the
California Public Utilities Commission, said Marla Tomlinson, a
spokeswoman at Lakehead, a 7,000-student institution in Thunder
Bay, Ontario. The California scientists concluded that people
exposed to electromagnetic wavelengths might be at risk of
developing cancer and recommended further investigation.
in the article…..
February 27, 2005 reply from Robert Holmes,
I am not a subscriber and was unable to read
the article. Our son had leukemia in the early 1980's(he is currently OK
and applying to PhD programs). The doctors did a lot of testing in our
house and neighborhood for electro-magnetic waves including powerlines
and electric blankets. The last I knew they determined that these waves
were not a factor in causing cancers, either in our son or anyone else.
I am interested in hearing about any new research. (We abandoned our
electric blankets, just in case, and I still miss crawling into a warm
"How to Digitize a Million Books: Needed: scanning software
for 430 languages and a system to organize the next big leap in the
information age," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, February
28, 2006 ---
The Million Books Project at Carnegie Mellon University ---
As of November 2005 -
- Over 600,000 books
have been scanned: 170,000 in India, 420,000 in China, and 20,000 in
Egypt. Roughly 135,000 of the books are in English; the others are
in Indian, Chinese, Arabic, French, or other languages. Most of the
books are in the public domain, but permission has been acquired to
include over 60,000 copyrighted books (about 53,000 in English and
7,000 in Indian languages).
- The books that have
been scanned to date are not yet all available online, and no single
site has copies of all the books that are available online.
- Twenty-two scanning
centers are operating in India, including four mega-centers.
Eighteen centers are running in China, including a mega-center in a
free-trade zone to avoid customs delays with shipments of books from
- The National
Agriculture Library and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) have joined the project, along with academic
libraries in the United States that have large agriculture
collections. Agriculture has become a collection focus for the
project, and plans are being developed to create a knowledge network
aimed at improving rural community access to critical agricultural
research is underway in the project, including OCR for Indian and
Arabic languages and scripts. The research also includes
developments in machine translation, automatic summarization, image
processing, large-scale database management, user interface design,
and strategies for acquiring copyright permission at an affordable
cost. Indian partners have developed a translating and
transliterating user interface. Partners in Egypt are developing an
interface that supports annotation and highlighting. Partners in
China have made remarkable progress on content-based image retrieval
and machine analysis of calligraphic scripts. Carnegie Mellon has
taken strides in machine translation and automatic summarization.
- Transferring the
books among partners is very difficult, largely because of network
bandwidth. Shipping books on disks does not work well in China
because of the need to make a customs declaration for every book on
the disk. Other challenges include providing a flow of books
commensurate with the capacity of the scanning centers and resolving
issues related to copyright.
- India, China and
the U.S. agreed to join the Open Content Alliance (OCA), recently
initiated by Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive, because the
goals of the OCA are consistent with those of the Million Book
Google Book Search ---
Bob Jensen's links to electronic literature ---
Videos from Suicide Bombers
Suicide bomber videos: Footage of hate Farewell message: 'There is no
blood better than the blood of Jews'
WorldNet Daily, March 2, 2006 ---
People hate Israelis for a reason
Hany Abu-Assad, Israeli-born
director of Oscar-nominated film ‘Paradise Now,’
From the University of Illinois Scholarly Communication Blog on
February 28, 2006 ---
Leaders Press Colleges to Archive Online Journals to Avoid
Loss of Data
Some library leaders are urging
colleges and academic libraries to take action to preserve
online scholarly journals, saying they could vanish into
oblivion should publishers go out of business or face other
calamities. A group of librarians, college administrators,
and scholars issued a public call to action on the issue in
October, in a statement edited by Donald J. Waters, an
official specializing in scholarly communications at the
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Association of College and
Research Libraries endorsed the message this month. "Since
most libraries do not actually own and store the content of
the journals they license in electronic form, new models for
preservation must be developed," association officials said
in a statement. "Scholars may face serious loss of access to
published research if libraries do not adopt effective
Unlike print journals, which
libraries own and can keep forever, electronic journals are
provided to libraries under a kind of lease. Libraries pay
for the privilege of having access to the journals online.
But many libraries fear they will not be able to retrieve
back issues should that access abruptly end -- if, for
example, a publisher goes bankrupt. This is of special
concern now that libraries are increasingly relying on
electronic journals. The association says it supports
allowing libraries to operate their own electronic archives
or to form a collective with other libraries to preserve
electronic journals. The archive would be made available to
scholars only when the publisher could no longer provide
access to the journals, or if the materials were no longer
protected by copyright. Chronicle of Higher Education
Rare 'masterpiece' now available in English after 300 years, James
Ussher's legendary 'Annals of the World' ---
Liberwocky: What Liberals Say and What They Really Mean ---
Dutch Schools Strip Nobel Laureate's Name
Dutch universities have stripped a late Nobel
chemistry laureate of honors, citing new evidence that he collaborated with
the Nazis to oust Jews from academic positions. The information about
Dutch-born Peter Debye, who won the Nobel in 1936, emerged a month ago in a
book, "Albert Einstein in the Netherlands." The book, by Berlin-based author
Sybe I. Rispens, cited letters Einstein wrote to colleagues about his
suspicions of Debye when the Dutchman moved to the United States in 1940,
where he lived until his death in 1966.
Aruthur Max, "Dutch Schools Strip Nobel Laureate's Name," Yahoo News,
March 3, 2006 ---
William J. Clinton Presidential Center ---
If this passes, Ohio may no longer be the swing state in national
If a Youngstown lawmaker's proposal becomes Ohio
law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents. State Sen.
Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night,
stating that he intends to ``introduce legislation in the near future that
would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting
children or acting as foster parents.''
Carl Chancellor, "Plan would bar Ohio adoptions by GOP," Beacon Journal,
February 24, 2006 ---
How many U.S. households are still not
Nevertheless, while many of us have embraced the
Web, hoping that it's making our lives easier, there's a significant number
of U.S. households that are not online—39 million,
according to researcher Parks Associates. Not
only do these homes not have Web connections, but only 2 percent of the
people living in them plan to subscribe to an Internet service this year. As
a result, it appears the nation has stalled in terms of Internet penetration
in the home. Now I could do a lot of hand wringing and argue for getting
these people online as soon as possible, but the truth is I don't care. If
these people are happy without blogs, portals, search engines and iTunes,
then I say stay away.
Antone Gonsalves, InternetWeek Newsletter, February 26, 2006
From The Washington Post on March 6, 2006
What airline plans to offer XM satellite
radio service on board its flights?
When will the airlines ever learn that what we really want for our money is
a a good routing schedule, on-time arrival, and joy over the luggage
service. Why should we pay for frills that don't really matter?
From the Scout Report on March 3, 2006
Two on Teaching in Community Colleges
The Center for Teaching Excellence [pdf]
Del Mar College-Teaching and Learning Center [Real
A number of colleges and universities have
excellent sites dedicated to helping professors and other educators
learn more about effective teaching methods. In recent years, more than
a few community colleges have also adopted such techniques, creating a
plethora of websites geared towards assisting educators. The first site
profiled is from the Lansing Community College’s Center For Teaching
Excellence. From their page, visitors can take a look through a number
of useful documents, such as “Classroom Strategies for Fostering Student
Retention” and “Essays on Teaching Excellence.” The site also contains
their biannual newsletter, “Spotlight on Faculty”, which features a
number of teaching tips and techniques developed by faculty at the
college. The second site will take users to the Teaching and Learning
Center at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Here visitors can
find helpful “technology tips” designed for incorporating technology
into the classroom, and a number of podcasts of interest. These podcasts
deal with a number of themes, ranging from mental health crises on
campus to resource challenges facing community colleges. [KMG]
National Center for the Study of Adult
Learning and Literacy [pdf]
Located at Harvard University, The National
Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) draws on
numerous scholars and experts to investigate the practice of educational
programs around the country that serve adults with limited literacy and
English language skills. Their various outreach efforts include
disseminating their research findings through journals and policy
reports, along with the leadership provided by their Connecting
Practice, Policy, and Research initiative. The “Research” section of the
site is a good place to start, as users can learn about their most
recent research projects and also read publications authored by
researchers working at NCSALL. Beyond this section, visitors will also
appreciate the “Publications” area, which includes research briefs,
reports, and selections from their occasional papers series. One
highlight here is the “Focus on Basics” quarterly publication, which
presents best practices and current research on adult learning and
literacy. Visitors can view the current issue, and also scan through the
archives, which date back to 1997. [KMG]
The Future of Children [pdf] ---
There are a number of fine journals that deal
with policies oriented toward children in the United States, and The
Future of Children is certainly one of the best. The journal is a
publication of The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institution. On this
site, visitors can read the current issue of the journal, and also
browse their previous issues dating back to 1991. Each issue has a
general theme, and past years have featured issues dealing with
adoption, health insurance for children, caring for infants and
toddlers, and domestic violence. For visitors who may be pressed for
time, each issue contains an executive summary and article summaries.
Additionally, users may also wish to sign up to receive their free
e-mail newsletter. [KMG]
Craigslist Accused of Violating the Fair
Housing Act Craigslist Is Accused of Bias In Housing Ads [Free
Craigslist Disputes “Fair” Housing Lawsuit
Free classified ads not working well for
Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc. [pdf]
Stanford Law Review: In Search of Fair Housing
In Cyberspace: The Implications of the Communications Decency Act for
Fair Housing on the Internet [Word]
Stanford Center for Internet and Society [pdf]
"IBM's Chip-Shrinking Secret: New tricks with light and
lenses could produce the smallest microprocessors -- without revamping the
industry," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, February 27, 2006
Another Hidden Gem: The Windows Disk Management Tool: Create,
delete, and format partitions; change drive letter assignments and paths;
help set up disk mirroring and RAID; and more--all with this free Windows
by Fred Langa, InformationWeek, February 27, 2006 ---
Windows' Disk Management Tool
You can access the Disk Management tool easily from any Admin-level
account. Click "Start/Control Panel/Performance" and
"Maintenance/Administrative Tools/Computer Management." When the
Computer Management interface opens, look in the left-hand pane under
"Storage" and click on "Disk Management." You should see something like
what was shown earlier in screen 2, although the details for your system
will, of course, be different.
Let me explain what you're seeing in the screen
shot: You can see my first hard drive-Disk 0-has seven partitions and
six logical drives on it. The tiny 8 Mbyte first partition is for my
boot manager, a tool that also gives me access to a self-contained
imaging/backup function that runs outside of, and independently of,
Windows. Because this partition is outside of Windows' control, Windows
shows it as an "unknown partition." If you don't use a boot manager,
your display won't show this kind of partition.
My normal C: system drive is a 9 Gbyte NTFS
partition, sized because it fits conveniently on two DVDs for backup.
Windows and my most important data files live there. The other
partitions, D through H, are formatted in FAT32, which yields slightly
faster access than NTFS, albeit with a slightly greater risk of data
corruption or file errors. My less important files are on these
partitions, and they're backed up at less-frequent intervals than my C:
drive is. Because FAT32 is marginally faster than NTFS, I've also put
XP's pagefile on one of the FAT32 partitions, D. (If you're curious
about why I've set things up this way, there's a complete explanation
In screen 2, also note that my system's two
CD/DVD drives are shown. Although our focus today is hard-drive
management, the Windows Disk Management tool does give you access to
these removable drives as well. This can be very handy when or if, for
instance, you need or want to change the drive letter assigned to a CD
or DVD drive.
Although the Disk Management tool is useful for
working on already installed disks, its best and main use is in adding a
new second drive to a system, or temporarily adding a second drive as
part of swapping out an older drive for a newer one.
The upper left portion of screen 3 shows what
you see when you open Drive Management after adding a new, raw,
unformatted hard drive to a system. (For clarity, I've resized the Drive
Management window to hide the CD and DVD drive information because we
won't be doing anything with them right now.)
Continued in article
No Pro Bono: Mother Rented Her Daughters to Pay for Legal
An alert hotel clerk helped police nab a fugitive
lawyer facing charges that he paid for sex with two girls with the approval
of their mother. Prosecutors said Colliton had in effect been renting the
teenage girls from their 38-year-old mother. The lawyer started with a
15-year-old daughter in 2000 and continued until 2004, Manhattan District
Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.
"Fugitive Lawyer Arrested on Child Sex Charges," Fox News, March 4,
"Super Battery: The M1 stomps all over today's cells,"
Wired News, March 2006 ---
Rechargeable battery industry, dominated by
Asian giants like Sanyo, Sony, and Toshiba, is worth more than $6
billion a year. A123 - whose investors include Motorola, Qualcomm, and
the Pentagon's VC arm, OnPoint Technologies - aims to radically expand
that market, by both cutting the cords on conventional plug-in tools and
home appliances and powering brawny electric versions of everything from
lawn mowers to military surveillance drones.
A123's real target, however, is your car.
Chiang says A123's cells could lighten a Toyota Prius' 100-pound battery
by as much as 80 percent and help boost any hybrid's performance. The
quick recharging time - the M1 takes five minutes to reach 90 percent
capacity - plus high peak power also would be ideal for plug-in versions
of gas-electric vehicles. With a bit more research, the world's roads
may someday see fast, zero-carbon autos that zip past gas guzzlers and
tank up from the grid faster than a rest-stop Starbucks can serve you a
Continued in article
Forwarded by a good friend who is retired from the Army.
Ben Stein's Last Column
How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?
As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I
put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is "eonlineFINAL,"
and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so
long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column
so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.
It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person
and the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's, while
better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still
brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel
L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before
that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in
which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's
is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.
Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood
stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people,
and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman
who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a
camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.
How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane
luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone
bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not
riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained
in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese
girls do their nails.
They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any
longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked
his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by
a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam
Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.
A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a
road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed
A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S.
soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded
ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her
aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate
in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.
The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish
weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two
of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for
the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.
We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our
magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but
stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and
near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.
I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor
values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who
is eating at Morton's is a big subject.
There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen
and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they
will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have
been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and
nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the
kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.
Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the
World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of
a real hero.
I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that
matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another
way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or
as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good
an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or
even remotely close to any of them.
But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above
all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be
my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with
my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for
and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father
as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered
immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.
This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the
soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that
life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my
duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others
He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.
By Ben Stein
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
Those Grand Old Burma
Shave Road Signs
Remember these? For
those who never saw any
of the Burma Shave
signs, here is a quick
lesson in our history of
the1930's and '40's.
Before there were
everyone drove the old 2
lane roads, Burma Shave
signs would be posted
all over the countryside
in farmers' fields. They
were small red signs
with white letters. Five
signs, about 100 feet
apart, each containing 1
line of a 4 line
couplet...... and the
obligatory 5th sign
advertising Burma Shave,
a popular shaving cream.
Here are more of the
TRAINS DON'T WANDER
ALL OVER THE MAP
'CAUSE NOBODY SITS
IN THE ENGINEER'S LAP
SHE KISSED THE HAIRBRUSH
SHE THOUGHT IT WAS
HER HUSBAND JAKE
DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD
TO GAIN A MINUTE
YOU NEED YOUR HEAD
YOUR BRAINS ARE IN IT
DROVE TOO LONG
NEXT IS NOT AMUSING
GOOD MORNING, NURSE
TO HER RECKLESS DEAR
LET'S HAVE LESS BULL
AND MORE STEER
SPEED WAS HIGH
WEATHER WAS NOT
TIRES WERE THIN
X MARKS THE SPOT
THE MIDNIGHT RIDE
OF PAUL FOR BEER
LED TO A WARMER
AROUND THE CURVE
NO MATTER THE PRICE
NO MATTER HOW NEW
THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE
IN THE CAR IS YOU
A GUY WHO DRIVES
A CAR WIDE OPEN
IS NOT THINKIN'
HE'S JUST HOPIN'
LOOK EACH WAY
A HARP SOUNDS NICE
BUT IT'S HARD TO PLAY
BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL
EYES ON THE ROAD
THAT'S THE SKILLFUL
THE ONE WHO DRIVES
WHEN HE'S BEEN DRINKING
DEPENDS ON YOU
TO DO HIS THINKING
CAR IN DITCH
DRIVER IN TREE
THE MOON WAS FULL
AND SO WAS HE.
And my all time
PASSING SCHOOL ZONE
TAKE IT SLOW
LET OUR LITTLE
Lecture at 3:00 a.m.
Being in no shape to drive, the man decided to leave his car at the side of
the road and walk home. As he was walking unsteadily along, a policeman stopped
"Would you explain what you are doing here at 3 AM." the officer said.
"I'm heading to a lecture," he replied.
"Just who is going to give a lecture at this hour?" asked the cop.
"My wife, that's who!" mumbled the man.