On the ride up to the Hill, I would sometimes entertain fantasies about 'letting it all hang' out and saying, 'Senator, these fluctuations in the price of molybdenum on the Tokyo stock market frankly tighten my sphincter. We may well be standing on the brink of an abyss from which there is no returning. I would advise the government of the United States to make peace with God and prepare to die.' "But at the last minute, my nerves would fail me and instead I would offer some blancmange on the order of 'Over the course of the next seven quarters I would anticipate very minor readjustments in the world price of molybdenum which I feel at this point in time do not warrant any strenuous measures.' And everyone would go, 'Ohhhhhhhhh,' as if a large Alka-Seltzer tablet had been dropped into the economic waters and the headlines would read WORLD BREATHES SIGH OF RELIEF or GREENSPAN SAYS, 'DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY.' After a while, it almost made me contemptuous. Sometimes, looking back, I wish I had said, 'Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, because we're in for a crash that will make 1929 seem like a day at the spa.' It would have been amusing to watch the blood drain from their faces.
Fictional Alan Greenspan by Christopher Buckley, "Greenspin," The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114195962801294468.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
George Soros called me one day and said, 'How
you like deutsche marks?' (That's the way he speaks. He's foreign.) I like
George, but he had not been sufficiently deferential to me at the recent
Aspen Institute conference, so I said, 'George, I love love love deutsche
marks,' knowing that he would go long on them. He did, and he lost his
shirt. (He can afford a new one.) What I hadn't counted on was that it would
destroy the European economy for three years, and precipitate a crisis in
the Balkans, but on balance it was worth it. He certainly never called me
again for foreign currency tips.
Fictional Alan Greenspan by Christopher Buckley, "Greenspin," The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114195962801294468.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure the rain.
Author Unknown (forwarded by Doug Jenson in a story about Thomas Kincaid's daughter and a Kincaid painting)
Like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung,
Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, the Islamists of Sudan claim
monstrous liars are libelling them. 'You are terrorists,' Abdel Rahim
Mohammed Hussein, the regime's defence minister, screamed at journalists in
Khartoum on Thursday.
Nick Cohen, The Guardian, March 5, 2006 --- http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1723762,00.html
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, in a speech to
the nation's leading Islamic clerics and academics, has admitted what many
in U.S. intelligence have been saying all along – namely, Tehran duped the
West on its nuclear program by continuing its development while using
diplomatic talks to lull the Europeans into inaction.
"Iran negotiator announces: We duped West on nukes," WorldNetDaily, March 5, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49115
Disarmament conferences amount to fire
prevention exercises by pyromaniacs.
John Osborne (1929 1994) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Osborne
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials
of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.
John Locke as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-03-07-06.htm
Without money and lacking time, imagination is a
mere fleeting dream that cannot be transformed into an event.
Charles Baudelaire (1821 1867) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Baudelaire
Black men in the United States face a far more
dire situation than is portrayed by common employment and education
statistics, a flurry of new scholarly studies warn, and it has worsened
in recent years even as an economic boom and a welfare overhaul have
brought gains to black women and other groups.
Erik Eckholm, "Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn," The New York Times, March 20, 2006 --- Click Here
Regarding the Google book search project,
through which the University of Michigan is among several universities
allowing their library collections to be digitally reproduced by the search
engine, Coleman said “we are protecting the written word for all time.”
Rob Capriccioso quoting the President of the University of Michigan (Mary Sue Coleman) ---
Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity." Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.
Julie Schlosser, "The Great Escape Forty million American employees toil in soulless cubicles. How did they get there -- and can business ever break out of the box?" Fortune Magazine, March 15, 2006 --- http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/03/20/8371767/
Tales from the Enron trial got you down? Like
Andrew Fastow's testimony of how he laundered $10,000 as a tax-free gift to
his own sons? So after work you stumble home, seeking refuge from the
workaday sludge in the stark competitive world of Sports Illustrated, which
this week is awash in the details of the doping case against Barry Bonds, an
Icarus, legend has it, who flew toward baseball heaven on wax wings made
from human growth hormone. For perspective on the
Bonds myth, I called Gary Wadler, a physician who
has seen it all as a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency. "Bonds and
Fastow were both into cooking," Dr. Wadler offered. "Bonds cooked the record
books and Fastow cooked the financial books."
Daniel Henninger, "Barry Bonds, Meet Andrew Fastow, The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110008100
Adware has become "the Internet’s scourge"
The Center for Democracy and Technology, based in Washington, D.C., issued a report Monday that identified 11 companies who pay to place their online ads via software, known as adware, that has become the Internet’s scourge: Altrec, Club Med Americas, GreetingCards.com, LetsTalk.com, NetZero, PeoplePC, PerfectMatch, ProFlowers, True.com, uBid and Waterfront Media. All the companies advertise through one particular adware distributor, 180solutions Inc., which the nonprofit group accuses of using unscrupulous business practices. In January, CDT filed two complaints with the Federal Trade Commission to put an end to the “illegal and deceptive practices” by the company, one of the world’s largest developers of Internet advertising software.
"Public Policy Group Accuses Companies Of Funding Adware," InformationWeek, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=183701112
These problems for women exist in accountancy as well as law
"Firms want women to stay. Men at the firms want women to stay, and women want to stay. So why aren't they?" asks Karen M. Lockwood, a partner at Howrey in Washington. "Law firms are way beyond discrimination — this is about advancement and retention. Problems with advancement and retention are grounded in biases, not discrimination."
"Why Do So Few Women Reach the Top of Big Law Firms?" by Timothy L. O'Brien, The New York Times, March 19, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/business/yourmoney/19law.html
Although the nation's law schools for years have been graduating classes that are almost evenly split between men and women, and although firms are absorbing new associates in numbers that largely reflect that balance, something unusual happens to most women after they begin to climb into the upper tiers of law firms. They disappear.
According to the National Association for Law Placement, a trade group that provides career counseling to lawyers and law students, only about 17 percent of the partners at major law firms nationwide were women in 2005, a figure that has risen only slightly since 1995, when about 13 percent of partners were women.
Even those who have made it to the top of their profession say that the data shows that women's legal careers involve distinct, often insurmountable hurdles and that those hurdles remain misunderstood or underexamined.
"You have a given population of people who were significantly motivated to go through law school with a certain career goal in mind," says Ms. Plevan, who notes that Proskauer has always provided her with a welcoming professional home. "What de-motivates them to want to continue working in the law?"
FOR years, one pat response to that question was that once law school graduation rates substantially equalized between men and women, that pipeline would fuel firm diversity and cause partnerships to equalize as well. Yet the pipeline has been gushing for about two decades and partnership disparity remains.
Although women certainly leave firms to become more actively involved in child-rearing, recent detailed studies indicate that female lawyers often feel pushed into that choice and would prefer to maintain their careers and a family if a structure existed that allowed them to do so. Some analysts and many women who practice law say that having children isn't the primary reason most women leave law firms anyhow; most, they say, depart for other careers or for different ways to practice law.
"Firms want women to stay. Men at the firms want women to stay, and women want to stay. So why aren't they?" asks Karen M. Lockwood, a partner at Howrey in Washington. "Law firms are way beyond discrimination — this is about advancement and retention. Problems with advancement and retention are grounded in biases, not discrimination."
With law firms courting major corporations that demand diversity within the ranks of those advising them, and with women increasingly dominating the top tiers of law school graduates, veteran lawyers say that promoting women's legal careers is not just a matter of goodwill or high-mindedness. It's also a winning business strategy.
. . .
Research conducted by the Project for Attorney Retention, a program sponsored by the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, has also identified an inflexible, billable-hours regime as an obstacle to job satisfaction for both sexes, a trend that is more pronounced among the most recent crop of law school graduates. Some veteran lawyers witness this dissatisfaction firsthand and say that it tugs more powerfully at women than men because of social expectations about household roles and child-rearing.
We are very accommodating with leaves and flexible schedules, and even with that we still lose women," says Edith R. Matthai, who founded a Los Angeles law firm, Robie & Matthai, with her husband in 1987. "I think the pressures on women from spouses, family, peers, schools and others is huge.
"I think the real solution is a reassessment of the role that women play in the family," adds Ms. Matthai, who is president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. "One thing we need is a sense of shared responsibilities for the household and, most importantly, shared responsibilities for taking care of the kids."
Ms. Matthai said that conditions for women had improved a good deal over the last 30 years, but added: "We have a long way to go. It's my dream that more women will stick it out in the law until they get to the fun part, and it just breaks my heart to see them giving up the dream."
Research conducted by the New York City Bar Association and other groups indicate that women who temporarily give up their professional dreams to pursue child-rearing or other personal goals have a difficult, if not impossible, time finding easily available on-ramps when they choose to re-enter the legal world.
Continued in article
Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: Women Making Strides in Public
Women now account for 19 percent of all public accounting firm partners, up from 12 percent a decade ago, according to a new study by the American Institute of CPAs . . . Many CPA firms are moving beyond the up-or-out philosophy of the past. They recognize that choosing an alternative career path is often a solution for some individuals to help them cope with children, aging parents or other issues. The study reported, however, that only 38 percent of the firms surveyed offered some kind of alternative career path that does not lead to partner, such as choosing to stay as a senior manager or moving into an area like recruiting that is less client service driven.
"AICPA: Women Making Strides in Public Accounting," SmartPros, February 22, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x51887.xml
Among the other findings of the study, included in the committee's report were:
- Women are gravitating to smaller firms where the trend of their advancement is more pronounced and where they represent 47 percent of the workforce compared to 40 percent at larger firms.
- There is a gender gap in the desire for partnership. Among senior managers only 41 percent of women as opposed to 65 percent of men expressed the desire to become a partner.
- Female professionals are less likely to be aware of networking opportunities, leadership development programs and practice development training.
- Men in the CPA profession are becoming as interested in, and as affected by, work/life policies as women. This is part of a wider, national trend that is becoming stronger.
- CPA firms that focus on the personal needs of their professional staff are seeing productivity gains because motivated employees reciprocate by nurturing the firm's valued client base.
- Among CPAs in business and industry the two most cited reasons for leaving public accounting were working conditions (schedules, hours, assignments) and work/life issues.
The 80-page report is available as a PDF document from the AICPA Web Site:
Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers
Free Rent? Well not really!
Want ads are getting new meaning in the Internet Age, with men posting advertisements for female roommates who can live virtually free, as long they're willing to have sex with them. One recent posting in the Florida area on the popular Craigslist.com states: "Upscale executive seeks beautiful female 18-24 to live in his luxury condo in Coral Gables for $1/month in exchange for some light duties. Help take care of dog, cook occasionally. Sex 2x/week. Serious inquires only. Please email a picture for consideration."
"Now you can pay rent by having sex: Men find new way to get roommates, post ads online with specific demands," WorldNetDaily, March 19, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49347
The Norman Bates Chateau
Local warming (read that freezer failure) ends planned return to life
Raymond Martinot and his wife were the toast of the world cryonics movement. For years they were France's best preserved corpses, lying in a freezer in a chateau in the Loire valley, in the hope that modern science could one day bring them back to life. But the French couple's journey into the future ended prematurely when, 22 years after his mother's body was put into cold storage, their son discovered the freezer unit had broken down and they had started to thaw. The couple's bodies were removed from their faulty freezer and cremated this week. Under French law a corpse must be buried, cremated or formally donated to science. But the couple's son had vowed to go to the European court of human rights to be allowed to keep his frozen parents in his cellar. If he failed, supporters in Nederland, near Denver, Colorado, had offered to take them in.
Angelique Chrisafis, "Freezer failure ends couple's hopes of life after death: Son discovers parents' bodies starting to thaw · Cremation brings battle with courts to a halt." The Guardian, March 17, 2006 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1732947,00.html?gusrc=rss
But did Martinot really need to freeze is mother's body?
This is from one of the most respected science news sites in the world
"Dead Greek Orthodox monk baffles scientists (for) 15 years," PhysOrg, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news11683.html
"I believe this to be a sign from God," Bishop Nikolaos of the local prefecture of Fthiotida told a press conference in Lamia. "Even the monk's soft parts are intact," he added.
The story of the deceased monk, Vissarionas Korkoliakos, has raised a media stir following his recent exhumation at Agathonos monastery.
Four local doctors summoned by Church authorities were unable to explain the alleged phenomenon. A fifth expert, an Athens coroner, wrote in his report that he has never seen such a case in his entire career, ANA said.
The church had also requested an opinion from head Athens coroner Philippos Koutsaftis, who declined to examine the body as the monk's death was not crime-related.
Hundreds of faithful are already flocking to the site where the monk's body was disinterred, ANA reported, but the local church is currently advising self-restraint.
"We do not intend to declare (this man) a saint, or to summon people to pray before him," Bishop Nicholaos said.
The monk's body will be placed in isolation in the monastery chapel "to let God speak through the passage of time," the bishop said.
"Math Professor Wins a Coveted Religion Award," by Dennis Overbye, The New York Times, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/16/science/16prize.html
Dr. Barrow will receive the $1.4 million prize during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on May 3. The prize was created in 1972 by the philanthropist Sir John Marks Templeton, who specified that its monetary value always exceed that of the Nobel Prize. Five of the last six winners have been scientists. Asked about this, Dr. Barrow said, "Maybe they ask the most interesting questions."
Dr. Barrow, 53, a mathematical sciences professor at the University of Cambridge, is best known for his work on the anthropic principle, which has been the subject of debate in physics circles in recent years. Life as we know it would be impossible, he and others have pointed out, if certain constants of nature — numbers denoting the relative strengths of fundamental forces and masses of elementary particles — had values much different from the ones they have, leading to the appearance that the universe was "well tuned for life," as Dr. Barrow put it.
In a news release, the prize organizers said of Dr. Barrow's work: "It has also given theologians and philosophers inescapable questions to consider when examining the very essence of belief, the nature of the universe, and humanity's place in it."
Dr. Barrow is the co-author of "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle," a primer on the subject, as well as 16 other books, more than 400 scientific papers, and a prizewinning play, "Infinities."
Asked about his religious beliefs, Dr. Barrow said he and his family were members of the United Reformed Church in Cambridge, which teaches "a traditional deistic picture of the universe," he said.
Noting that Charles Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey, Dr. Barrow said that in contrast with the so-called culture wars in America, science and religion had long coexisted peaceably in England. "The concept of a lawful universe with order that can be understood and relied upon emerged largely out of religious beliefs about the nature of God," he said.
"How Dangerous Are David Horowitz's 101 Most Dangerous American Academics?" by Sanford Pinsker, The Irascible Professor, March 15, 2006 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-03-15-06.htm
If you happen to be an academic positioned somewhere on the Left, David Horowitz can be, well, a pain. He is, among other things, a relentless scold, and an indefatigable self promoter. During the early l970s Horowitz was not only a member of the New Left, but, he insists, one of its founders. In any event, his tell-all memoir, Radical Son (l997), makes it clear that he once lived in the belly of the beast, and that his politics have moved l80 degrees from where it once was.
As president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Horowitz keeps his eye on Hollywood, the media, and not least of all, academia. It is this last item that engages him in The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. Horowitz does his best to show how he chose his representative cases and how it is that they cover the territory between the Ivies and very small, small colleges, and why he purposefully excludes everybody from the Right, a group that is not nearly as large or as "dangerous" as those on the Left. My hunch is that some critics will be happy to supply Horowitz with the names of professors at small religious colleges who have no more regard for liberal learning than do their ideological counterparts on the Hard Left.
Even Horowitz's enemies will admit that he is a slick marketer of his books, and that The Professors is no exception. Because academics love lists at least as much as the general population and because there's something fatally attractive about the phase "dangerous academics", the promise of gossip mongering and mud-slinging is just too delicious to resist. For example, what if Horowitz singles out somebody from your college or university, or somebody in your field who teaches down the road? You'd want to know that, whether you agree with Horowitz or not. But let me hasten to add that this knowledge is just not worth the book's $27.95 price tag.
Nonetheless, Horowitz's book, opportunistic and partisan though it might be, has a limited value. I feel that professors who misuse the lectern, who have long ago abandoned the pursuit of truth wherever it may lead for visions of social change that begin in the classroom are probably just as "dangerous" as Horowitz argues they are. Part of me would, had I written this book, sub-titled it the 101 "laziest," "silliest," "most irresponsible," or "just plan dumb" professors, but that imaginary book wouldn't fly off the book shelves nearly so fast as books about "dangerous" people do.
Alphabetically arranged, Horowitz's scoundrels go from Professor Lisa Anderson, a relentless critic of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Professor George Wolfe who teaches music (he is an accomplished saxophonist), but who also teaches "Introduction to Peace Studies", a class that shows how and why a great sax man can also be a fierce critic of Israel. Each profiled academic gets a quick, 2-3 page thumbnail sketch (Angela Davis, because her history goes back to the Black Panthers warrants slightly more space). The result is a biographical fact here (where and what each professor teaches) and a provocative sound bite culled from their writing or speeches. The result is slim pickings.
A healthy handful of the people Horowitz scours are probably familiar (Ward Churchill, for one; Cornel West for another), but I could be wrong about that. Academic fame of the sort that made Churchill and West household names often fades after fifteen minutes. Moreover, most academics are too busy preparing classes, grading papers, or working on their scholarship to worry about the few bad apples who give the entire barrel a rotten taste.
The problem, alas, is that the people Horowitz discusses are symptomatic of what happens when a generation of sixties radicals grew up to become professors, and, increasingly, deans. They are now the folks in charge of hiring faculty members and granting them tenure -- and they bring to these endeavors the same passion and ideological fervor that they first put on with their tie-dyed shirts and bell bottomed pants, granny glasses and Birkenstocks.
To imagine that a portion of every faculty, in the Ivy League or considerably down the food chain, are aging hippies -- charmingly eccentric but hardly threatening -- is to miss the alarm bells that Horowitz is trying to sound: “How many radical professors are there on American faculties of higher education?” he asks, and then goes on to surmise that if, according to the federal government, there are some 617,00 college and university professors in the United States: If we were to take Harvard . . . as a yardstick, and assume a figure of 10 percent per university faculty, and then cut that figure in half to control for the possibility that Harvard may be a relatively radical institution (as its president, Lawrence Summers, found out when the thought police eased him out the door), the total number of such professors at American universities with views similar to the spectrum represented in this volume would still be in the neighborhood of 25,000-30,000.
As I tried to make sense of Horowitz's numbers (25,000 strikes me as awfully high, although that would mean that a much larger number, 592,000, have passed his muster), the only explanation that presented itself is that the small number of academic radicals have been able to so bully and intimidate their colleagues that, as the old song would have it, "anything goes."
What follows are a few quick tests to see if Horowitz's five percent loony factor is correct. How many faculty members, in classrooms or campus events, single out "unprotected groups" (Jews or Christians, for example) and lambaste them with impunity but who would be outraged if a colleague did the same to, say, blacks, women, or homosexuals? How many faculty members wear (sometimes literally) their politics on their sleeves, making it perfectly clear that they are environmental zealots, that they oppose the war in Iraq, or that there was never a 'liberation movement ' they failed to support. For such people, self-righteousness must be an exhausting business. I am told, moreover, that there are always younger, ever more pure-of-heart folks ready to speak at the next faculty meeting. My point is that faculty members in very large numbers have learned to bite their tongues and to sit on their hands, lest they provoke the politically correct. Much better, the silenced whisper to themselves, to let the radicals go off to teach whatever it is that they want to teach. Their foolishness won't affect me, that is, until the day comes when somebody proposes a course in "feminist physics" or in "the queering of American lit." As Horowitz patiently explains, it is easier to give away the farm in small chunks than it is to get it back.
Academic life has always had more than its fair share of the lazy, incompetent, and just plain dumb, but most of the people who choose life in the academy have the same passion for learning and teaching that long ago energized Chaucer's clerk. The rub, of course, is that the rules of scholarly engagement have changed, and that those who continue to believe in hard evidence and harder logic are being shouted down by those who wrap themselves in the cloak of academic freedom as they set about to radicalize higher education itself. Even Stanley Fish, a man on the left, has had enough of apologizing for professors who confuse a classroom with a political rally. In an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fish -- in Horowitz's summary -- "cautioned academics about getting involved as academics in moral and political issues such as the war on terror." The article concludes in a typically Fishian way: "It is immoral (Fish insists) for academics or academic institutions to proclaim moral views." That a staunch conservative such as David Horowitz and an equally committed liberal such Stanley Fish can agree gives me a reason, admittedly small, to cheer. But it also reinforces the point of The Professors: that there are at least 101 radical professors ready and willing to replace the ones Horowitz collected.
Bob Jensen's threads on these issues are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#PoliticalCorrectness
The history and a varied discussion of the term "political correctness" appears at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_Correctness
A discussion of "academic freedom" appears at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_freedom
Uniting Against Horowitz
When David Horowitz’s new book attacking academics — The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America — was published last month, a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups announced that they were joining forces to combat the conservative activist’s campaign.
Scott Jaschik, "Uniting Against Horowitz," Inside Higher Ed, March 17, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/17/free
"The Real Bias in the Classroom," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/20/politics
There may be political bias in the classroom, but headed in the other direction. A new study — soon to be published in PS: Political Science & Politics — finds that students are the ones with bias, attributing characteristics to their professors based on the students’ perceptions of their faculty members’ politics and how much they differ from their own.
The authors of the study say that it backs the claims of proponents of the Academic Bill of Rights that students think about — and are in some cases concerned about — the politics of their professors. But the authors also say that the study directly refutes the idea that students are being somehow indoctrinated by views that they don’t like. “Students aren’t simply sponges,” says April Kelly-Woessner, part of the husband-and-wife team of political scientists who wrote the study. Further, she adds that the study suggests that not only do students not change their views because of professors, but may even “push back” and judge professors based on politics, not merit.
The study — which will be presented this week at a legislative hearing in Pennsylvania — ends with a strong call for professors to be willing to present ideas that may upset some students. “College is not Club Med. As instructors, we ought not to refine our pedagogy exclusively for the purpose of making students comfortable or improving course evaluations,” write Kelly-Woessner, who teaches at Elizabethtown College, and Matthew Woessner, who teaches at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.
The couple will present the results of two papers based on a survey of 1,385 students in political science courses at a variety of public and private institutions. The students were asked a series of questions about their views of the politics of their professors, their own politics, and various other qualities that they attributed to the professors.
Continued in article
Big Student is Not Only Watching, Big Student is Recording
"Whiff of McCarthy as pupils out teachers," by James Bone, News.com, March 9, 2006 --- http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,18383423-401,00.html?from=rss
TEACHERS who express radical left-wing views in the classroom are facing a new tactic in America: conservative parents are encouraging students to make recordings of their views.
The use of micro-recording devices, often in mobile phones or digital music players, is the latest twist in conservatives' struggle against what they see as the leftist slant of American education. A high-school geography teacher was placed on leave last week in Colorado after a 16-year-old pupil recorded him comparing US President George W. Bush to Hitler.
The latest flare-up in the festering controversy came not at a university but at a suburban high school outside Denver. Sean Allen, 16, made headlines across the country by recording his geography teacher lambasting Mr Bush.
"Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say," Jay Bennish told his class.
"We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world."
Mr Bennish called the US "probably the single most violent nation on earth", saying that it had committed more than 7000 "terrorist sabotage acts" against Cuba. But he told pupils that they were free to disagree with him. The boy's father leaked the recording to a local radio station and it was quickly picked up by the national media.
The teacher was placed on paid leave while the school board investigated whether he had violated its policy of providing a balanced point of view. He threatened to retaliate with a lawsuit asserting his right to free speech.
An alumnus group at the University of California at Los Angeles has also caused an uproar by offering a $US100 ($135) bounty for taped evidence of professors' radical rants.
Continued in article
Here's how the Los Angeles Times spun the story:
"Teacher suspended for Bush remark." Wrong! Several other news stories in
our local papers have been no better. Congratulations to Rocky Mountain News
reporters who got it right: "The teacher, Jay Bennish, is on paid leave
pending the outcome of an investigation into whether he violated a district
policy requiring balanced viewpoints being presented in class." Bingo! If
teachers were disciplined merely for criticizing President Bush, half of
them would probably be out of work. Bennish is under scrutiny for violating
his public trust as a teacher of callow young minds by carting his personal
political soapbox into his 10th- grade geography class in violation of a
perfectly sensible and reasonable Cherry Creek Schools policy that requires
teachers to be "impartial and objective" when dealing with controversial
Mike Rosen, "Rosen: Intellectual child abuse," Rocky Mountain News, March 10, 2006 --- Click Here
I think recording public conversations is legal such as recording a speaker on a platform in a city park. Certainly media services record public speeches all the time. Recording classroom lectures without permission most likely is prohibited by colleges themselves, but it may not be against the law in all states of the United States. Audio recording of private conversations such as telephone conversations is against the law in 12 states but not all other states. It gets more complicated if the recording is intended for rebroadcast --- http://www.rcfp.org/handbook/c03p01.html
Some reporters regard tape recorders and cameras as intrusive devices that all but ensure that interviewees will be uncooperative. To others, they are invaluable newsgathering tools that create important documentary evidence of a conversation.
News organizations frequently adopt policies regarding surreptitious use of these newsgathering tools. It is critical that reporters and news organizations know the state and federal laws that govern the use of cameras and tape recorders. The summary that follows is intended as an introduction to those laws.
You may record, film, broadcast or amplify any conversation if all parties to the conversation consent. It is always legal to tape or film a face-to-face interview when your recorder or camera is in plain view. In these instances, the consent of all parties is presumed.
Of the 50 states, 38, as well as the District of Columbia, allow you to record a conversation to which you are a party without informing the other parties you are doing so. Federal wiretap statutes also permit one-party-consent recording of telephone conversations in most circumstances.1 Twelve states forbid the recording of private conversations without the consent of all parties. Those states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.2
The federal wiretap law, passed in 1968, permits surreptitious recording of conversations when one party consents, "unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State." Amendments signed into law in 1986 and 1994 expand the prohibitions to unauthorized interception of most forms of electronic communications, including satellite transmissions, cellular phone conversations, computer data transmissions and cordless phone conversations.
Most states have copied the federal law. Some expand on the federal law's language and prohibit all surreptitious recording or filming without the consent of all parties. Some state statutes go even further, prohibiting unauthorized filming, observing and broadcasting in addition to recording and eavesdropping, and prescribing additional penalties for divulging or using unlawfully acquired information, and for trespassing to acquire it. In most states, the laws allow for civil as well as criminal liability.
Many of the state statutes make possession of wiretapping devices a crime even though one-party consent to taping conversations may be allowed.
Most of the state statutes permit the recording of speeches and conversations that take place where the parties may reasonably expect to be recorded. Most also exempt from their coverage law enforcement agencies and public utilities that monitor conversations and phone lines in the course of their businesses.
In general, state statutes apply to conversations that take place within a single state.
When the conversation is between parties in states with conflicting eavesdropping and wiretapping laws, federal law generally applies, although either state also may choose to enforce its laws against a violator.
If a reporter in a state that allows one-party consent taping calls a party in a state that requires two-party consent, and tapes the conversation surreptitiously — which is legal under federal law — a state with tough laws prohibiting unauthorized recording may choose to apply its laws regardless of the location of the caller or the existence of a preemptive federal statute. Unfortunately, it is still unclear whether courts will hold that the federal protection preempts the state law.3 It is important to know your state law and the law in the state into which you call before you record surreptitiously.
The federal law and many state laws make it illegal to possess and particularly to publish the contents of an illegal wiretap. Some states that allow recordings make the distribution or publication of those otherwise legal recordings a crime. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bartnicki v. Vopper in May 2001 that the media could not be held liable for damages under the federal statute for publishing or broadcasting information that the media obtained from a source who had conducted an illegal wiretap. The recording related to a local union leader's proposal to conduct violent acts in the area. The Court ruled that any claim of privacy in the recorded information was outweighed by the public's interest in a matter of serious public concern.4 The Court did not indicate whether disclosure by the media under different circumstances would be considered legal.
The Federal Communications Commission also has adopted a policy, known as the "Telephone Rule."5 It requires a reporter who tapes a telephone conversation that will later be broadcast to inform the other party that the tape is intended for broadcast.
Interestingly, it is more acceptable from a legal standpoint to record a person on video without sound than to record audio without video. Otherwise stores and banks and casinos could no longer have video cameras recording customers and employees. There even was a reported instance where a peeping tom was convicted of video taping a couple inside a motel room. The news account said it would have been more difficult to get a conviction had the tape not included audio as well as video. I found this a little hard to believe, but that was the way it was reported some years ago (this story's buried on one of my former Tidbits, but I've no idea where).
Bob Jensen's threads on these issues are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#PoliticalCorrectness
Big Dog may not be sniffing for controlled substances at K-12
school lockers if the ACLU and the NAACP succeed in getting the use of
dogs in schools declared unconstitutional
"Drug dog controversy wracks district," MarinIJ, March 11, 2006 --- http://www.marinij.com/marin/ci_3592928
I think that dogs sniffing school lockers is a major deterrent to storing drugs, some of which are for sale, in school lockers. Often I think the ACLU is dysfunctional to reasonable crime deterrence.
Will the ACLU Object? Using a cell phone camera to photograph a flasher
"PERV-PIC TEEN: I HAD TO DO IT," by Stephanie Cohen, New York Post, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/63198.htm
A tech-savvy teen who snapped a cellphone picture of a flasher who exposed himself on the subway said yesterday she overcame her fear and disgust because she felt a "responsibility" to other vulnerable young riders. "If he did the same thing to another girl, I would feel awful," the resourceful 15-year-old La Guardia HS sophomore told The Post.
"I was shocked, then I got disgusted. You never really know what to expect on the subway, because there's a lot of diverse people there."
The girl, a painter, found herself in a frightening bind during Tuesday afternoon's half-hour ride home from school to her home in Queens - boxed in on one side by her friend, who was busy doing her homework, and the other by a snoozing female rider.
Straight ahead was a hulking man dressed in black who repeatedly opened his coat to expose his genitals - right at the teenage girl's eye level.
After her initial shock, the teen said she knew what she had to do: expose him.
As she pretended to text-message another friend, the teen aimed her cellphone up at her tormentor, taking a photo of his face, and then of his privates.
When the train slowed to stop, the teen told her friend, in Mandarin, "to wait when the train stops for everyone to leave - and to hold my hand and be quiet."
"She said, 'Why?' I said, 'I'll tell you later.' "
She promptly went to cops. The flasher remained at large last night.
Jensen Trivia Question
When a criminal has yet to be apprehended, what is the origin of the phrase "at large?" I fail to connect the term "at large" with "unapprehended."
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.
“I write a lot of books popularising math and
science, so I may be biased,” he said in reply, “but when I was in high
school I read all the books I could find about the history of math, about
mathematicians, and about various topics in math. And those definitely had a
significant effect on my interest in the subject. They made it clear that
math has a long and fascinating history, that the great mathematicians were
real people, not just obsessed geniuses who couldn’t tie their own
shoelaces, and that there is much, much more to math than the tiny part of
the subject that we are all taught at school.”
"The New Math," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, March 8, 2006 ---
As a kid, my favorite book in the world was E.T. Bell’s Men of Mathematics (1937). I must have read it dozens of times by the age of 14. One afternoon, coming home from the library, I could not resist opening the book to a particularly interesting chapter — and so ended up walking into a parked bus.With hindsight, certain problems with the book are clear. Bell’s approach to the history of mathematics was exciting, but he achieved that effect, in part, through fictionalization). We now know that embroidering the truth came as second nature to Bell, who was a professor of mathematics at the California Institute of Technology until shortly before his death in 1960. In addition to writing science fiction under a pseudonym, Bell also exercised a certain amount of creativity in telling his own life story – as his biographer, Constance Reid, found out through some detective work.
But another problem with Men of Mathematics only dawned on me recently. I hadn’t thought of the book in ages, but remembered it while reading while reading Letters to a Young Mathematician by Ian Stewart, to be published next month by Basic Books.The author is a professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick in the U.K. The imaginary recipient of his letters is named Meg — a nice departure from the longstanding and rather self-reinforcing stereotype of math as a man’s field. The idea that no gender has a monopoly on mathematical talent seems never to have occurred to E.T. Bell. (Nor, consequently, did it cross the mind of a certain young nerd colliding with stalled vehicles during the mid-1970s.)
Fortunately that situation has started to change. And the progress is reflected, in a quiet and matter-of-fact way, in Stewart’s Letters.
A story unfolds, chapter by chapter, as Stewart corresponds with Meg. In the earliest letters, she is still in high school. By the end of the book, she has tenure. It is, in effect, a bildungsroman at one remove. The reader watches over Stewart’s shoulder as the young mathematician turns an early talent into a stable professional identity.
There’s even a moment when, in search of an interesting project to test her abilities, Meg starts trying to find a method for trisecting an angle using only a compass and an unmarked straightedge. This is one of the problems handed down from ancient geometry. People “discover” solutions to this challenge all the time, then become indignant that mathematicians don’t take them seriously. (The proof of why it is impossible involves mathematical tools going way beyond anything available in antiquity.)
But most of the guidance Stewart offers is positive — and some of it seems useful even for those of us without mathematical aspirations or gifts.
“My usual method for reading a mathematics text,” he recalls about his student days, “was to thumb through it until I spotted something interesting, then work backward until I had tracked down everything I needed to read the interesting bit. I don’t really recommend this to everyone, but it does show that there are alternatives to starting at page 1 and continuing in sequence until you reach page 250.”
The most surprising thing — at least for anyone influenced by Bell’s romanticized account of the mathematical vocation — is Stewart’s emphasis on the nuts and bolts of academic life. Letters is full of pointers on academic politics, the benefits and frustrations of collaboration, and how to avoid disaster at conferences. (“Never believe your hosts when they tell you that all the equipment will work perfectly,” he notes. “Always try it yourself before the lecture.”)
E. T. Bell told stories about mathematicians whose lives were shaped, in the final analysis, only by their own creative instincts. They might occasionally win a prize offered by a learned society, or feel driven to some breakthrough by the challenge of defeating a hated rival. But Bell’s men of mathematics were, on the whole, geniuses of the purest vintage. They had inspirations, not resumes. It is hard to imagine anyone trying to give Carl Friedrich Gauss useful career advice.
So does that mean that popularized accounts like Bell’s are something a young mathematician ought to avoid? I contacted Stewart by e-mail to ask his thoughts on the matter.
“I write a lot of books popularising math and science, so I may be biased,” he said in reply, “but when I was in high school I read all the books I could find about the history of math, about mathematicians, and about various topics in math. And those definitely had a significant effect on my interest in the subject. They made it clear that math has a long and fascinating history, that the great mathematicians were real people, not just obsessed geniuses who couldn’t tie their own shoelaces, and that there is much, much more to math than the tiny part of the subject that we are all taught at school.”
Well, that’s a relief. There’s something to be said for idealization and hero worship, after all, in their proper season. You then have your whole life to become more realistic, not to say more calculating.
The Pending Meltdown of the United States: It's largely the fault of a
president who would not veto spendthrifts
Historians will note spring 2006 as the time when America's fiscal meltdown became unavoidable. Fiscal conservatism is not just dead in Washington; it is long forgotten, and no resurrection is on the horizon. Despite a brief blip of outrage over bridges-to-nowhere and obscene earmarks growing rampant and engorged, budget talk has again turned into a bidding war. The Bush administration's own modest attempts to restrain spending have been swept away by a Congress eager to spend as much as possible in a midterm election year. The numbers tell a sad enough tale. Federal spending is now 20.8 percent of GDP, up from the 18.4 percent President Bush inherited from President Clinton.
Jeff A. Taylor, "Cash Carries the Day Spending is the Alpha and Omega in Washington," Reason Magazine, March 17, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/links/links031706.shtml
Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm
"The Loss of Biological Innocence: Advances in biotech present dark possibilities and an editor's dilemma," by Jason Pontin, MIT's Technology Review, March/April 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16437,306,p1.html
When, if ever, should editors not publish a story they think is true, but they know is controversial? Well, if publication is dangerous or useless. That question was suggested by this month’s cover story by contributing writer Mark Williams (see “The Knowledge”).
Williams (for the record, my brother) spent 14 months investigating genetically engineered biological weapons. He immersed himself in their arcane biology, and he interviewed numerous scientists and security experts. But his journalistic coup was securing the candor of Serguei Popov, a former Soviet bioweaponeer.
Popov described how Biopreparat, the Soviet agency that secretly developed bioweapons during the Cold War, created recombinant pathogens that produced novel symptoms. Some of those symptoms were very horrible. In one case, Popov and his researchers spliced mammalian DNA that expressed fragments of myelin protein, the insulating layer that sheathes our neurons, into Legionella pneumophila, a bacterium responsible for pneumonia. In Williams’s account, “In test animals…the myelin fragments borne by the recombinant Legionella goaded the animals’ immune systems to read their own natural myelin as pathogenic and to attack it. Brain damage, paralysis, and nearly 100 percent mortality resulted.” But Biopreparat had more expansive ambitions than poisoning populations. The military scientists who ran the agency wanted bioweapons that could alter behavior, and they investigated using pathogens to induce memory loss, depression, or fear.
This information might be of only sinister, nostalgic interest, but for Williams’s thesis. He argues that the advance of biotechnology -- in particular, the technology to synthesize ever larger DNA sequences -- means that “at least some of what the Soviet bioweaponeers did with difficulty and expense can now be done easily and cheaply. And all of what they accomplished can be duplicated with time and money.” Williams explains how gene-sequencing equipment bought secondhand on eBay, and unregulated biological material delivered in a FedEx package, can be misused. He concludes that terrorists could create simple weapons like Popov’s myelin autoimmunity weapon, and states could engineer the more ambitious recombinant pathogens that Biopreparat contemplated.
All of this is tremendously controversial. Critics within the U.S. defense community dismiss Popov’s accounts of what Biopreparat achieved. Most security experts believe that creating any bioweapon -- let alone a recombinant pathogen -- is difficult, and “weaponizing” those agents is nearly impossible. And many biologists, whilst not as sanguine about the difficulties, think that a preoccupation with bioweapons is counterproductive for two reasons: first, because funding biodefense research tends to disseminate knowledge of how to develop such weapons; second, because we don’t have a very good idea of how to defend ourselves against them.
Continued in article
"The Knowledge -- Part 1: Soviet scientists were developing plague-like bioweapons in the 1980s: Why aren't we listening more to a key defector?" by Mark Williams, MIT's Technology Review, March 13, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16582,312,p1.html
This article -- the cover story in Technology Review's March/April 2006 print issue -- has been divided into three parts for presentation online. This is part 1; part 2 will appear on March 14, and part 3 on March 15.
Our editor in chief, Jason Pontin, dedicated his column in the most recent TR issue ("The Loss of Biological Innocence") to the pros and cons of publishing a story on such a dark and controversial issue.
Last year, a likable and accomplished scientist named Serguei Popov, who for nearly two decades developed genetically engineered biological weapons for the Soviet Union, crossed the Potomac River to speak at a conference on bioterrorism in Washington, DC.
Popov, now a professor at the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases at George Mason University, is tallish, with peaked eyebrows and Slavic cheekbones, and, at 55, has hair somewhere between sandy and faded ginger. He has an open, lucid gaze, and he is courteously soft-spoken. His career has been unusual by any standards. As a student in his native city of Novosibirsk, Siberia's capital, preparing his thesis on DNA synthesis, he read the latest English-language publications on the new molecular biology. After submitting his doctorate in 1976, he joined Biopreparat, the Soviet pharmaceutical agency that secretly developed biological weapons. There, he rose to become a department head in a comprehensive program to genetically engineer biological weapons. When the program was founded in the 1970s, its goal was to enhance classical agents of biological warfare for heightened pathogenicity and resistance to antibiotics; by the 1980s, it was creating new species of designer pathogens that would induce entirely novel symptoms in their victims.
In 1979, Popov spent six months in Cambridge, England, studying the technologies of automated DNA sequencing and synthesis that were emerging in the West. That English visit, Popov recently told me, needed some arranging: "I possessed state secrets, so I could not travel abroad without a special decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. A special legend, essentially, that I was an ordinary scientist, was developed for me." The cover "legend" Popov's superiors provided proved useful in 1992, after the U.S.S.R. fell. When the Russian state stopped paying salaries, among those affected were the 30,000 scientists of Biopreparat. Broke, with a family to feed, Popov contacted his British friends, who arranged funding from the Royal Society, so he could do research in the United Kingdom. The KGB (whose control was in any case limited by then) let him leave Russia. Popov never returned. In England, he studied HIV for six months. In 1993, he moved to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, whence he sent money so that his wife and children could join him. He remained in Texas until 2000, attracting little interest.
"When I came to Texas, I decided to forget everything," Popov told me. "For seven years I did that. Now it's different. It's not because I like talking about it. But I see every day in publications that nobody knows what was done in the Soviet Union and how important that work was."
Yet if Popov's appearance last year at the Washington conference is any indication, it will be difficult to convince policymakers and scientists of the relevance of the Soviet bioweaponeers' achievements. It wasn't only that Popov's audience in the high-ceilinged chamber of a Senate office building found the Soviets' ingenious applications of biological science morally repugnant and technically abstruse. Rather, what Popov said lay so far outside current arguments about biodefense that he sounded as if he had come from another planet.
Continued in article
"The Knowledge -- Part 2: Terrorists could buy reagents on the Web, build a DNA synthesizer, and create a deadly virus. But it would be no easy feat," by Mark Williams, MIT's Technology Review, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16583,312,p1.html
"There are now more than 300 U.S. institutions
with access to live bioweapons agents and 16,500 individuals approved to
handle them," Ebright told me. While all of those people have undergone some
form of background check -- to verify, for instance, that they aren't named
on a terrorist watch list and aren't illegal aliens -- it's also true,
Ebright noted, that "Mohammed Atta would have passed those tests without
"The Knowledge -- Part 3: The current revolution in biotechnology is more likely to be exploited by national militaries than by terrorists," by Mark Williams, MIT's Technology Review, March 15, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16584,312,p1.html
Dr. Wafa Sultan's Life Threatened
"Muslim's Blunt Criticism of Islam Draws Threats," by John M. Broder, The New York Times, March 11, 2006 ---
LOS ANGELES, March 10 — Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.
Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.
In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.
She said the world's Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.
Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.
In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private.
"I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings," she said in an interview this week in her home in a Los Angeles suburb.
Dr. Sultan, who is 47, wears a prim sweater and skirt, with fleece-lined slippers and heavy stockings. Her eyes and hair are jet black and her modest manner belies her intense words: "Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs."
Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."
She went on, "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."
She concluded, "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."
Continued in article
Also see Also see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49309
Bob Jensen's commentary and links to Wafa Sultan's video can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2006/tidbits060306.htm#video
Car Buying Tips --- http://www.edmunds.com/advice/buying/articles/42962/article.html
Automobile Financing and Cheating
I have a Web document on automobile financial fraud and dirty tricks at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudDealers.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud ---
Liberal Public Radio Turns Capitalist (along with Public Television)
As much of the media industry languishes in an advertising slump, public radio is on a tear, scooping up new sponsorship by mimicking the tactics of commercial broadcasters. On offer is public radio's coveted, gold-plated audience. But the increase in corporate messages is a delicate marketing strategy, since many of those prized listeners gravitated to public stations looking for the exact opposite: an escape from advertising's constant hum.
Sarah McBride, "As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line: Stations Sell a Demographic That Dislikes Marketing; How Much is Too Much? A Rare Bright Spot in Media," The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114256601995200999.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Consumers Helpful Guide ---
Don't believe the Plavix advertisements on television
Adding Plavix, a costly blockbuster super-aspirin, to low-dose aspirin is no more effective than inexpensive aspirin alone for preventing heart attacks, strokes and heart-disease deaths in high-risk patients, according to a major study released Sunday. The study also raised a safety concern. It showed that Plavix plus aspirin nearly doubled the heart-disease death rate among patients who had not yet had a heart attack but who had multiple risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Steve Sternbe, "Plavix fails test to widen its use Anti-clot drug may be unsafe for some," USA Today, March 13, 2006 --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060313/1a_lede13.art.htm
German dino sets feathers flying
A fossil found in Germany has clouded debate about the advent of feathers, the key event in the theorised evolution of birds from small dinosaurs 176-146 million years ago.
PhysOrg, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news11796.html
Did 'Dark Matter' Create the First Stars?
Dark matter may have played a major role in creating stars at the very beginnings of the universe. If that is the case, however, the dark matter must consist of particles called "sterile neutrinos". Peter Biermann of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, and Alexander Kusenko, of the University of California, Los Angeles, have shown that when sterile neutrinos decay, it speeds up the creation of molecular hydrogen. This process could have helped light up the first stars only some 20 to 100 million years after the Big Bang.
PhysOrg, March 15, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news11798.html
Update from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on March 18, 2006
- Problem Gambling May Run in Families
- Smoking May Hinder Alcoholism Recovery
- Gene May Sway Antidepressant Success
- Gene May Help Solve Psoriasis Mystery
- Trendy Plastic Surgery Overhyped?
- Preventive Mastectomy Satisfying
- Studies Short on Soy Formula Risks
- RSS WebMD Health News
Latest Headlines on March 24, 2006
For more medical news, go to the following site from the University of
Pennsylvania Medical School
MedPage Today --- http://www.medpagetoday.com
Taking vitamins in pill form is expensive but easy: New concerns that
we're harming rather than helping our health
But a troubling body of research is beginning to suggest that vitamin supplements may be doing more harm than good. Over the past several years, studies that were expected to prove dramatic benefits from vitamin use have instead shown the opposite. Beta carotene was seen as a cancer fighter, but it appeared to promote lung cancer in a study of former smokers. Too much vitamin A, sometimes taken to boost the immune system, can increase a woman's risk for hip fracture. A study of whether vitamin E improved heart health showed higher rates of congestive heart failure among vitamin users. And there are growing concerns that antioxidants, long viewed as cancer fighters, may actually promote some cancer and interfere with treatments.
Tara Parekr-Pope, "The Case Against Vitamins: Recent studies show that many vitamins not only don't help. They may actually cause harm," The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2006; Page R1 --- Click Here
Recommended Nutrition Information Sites and Books
"Recommended Reading," by Beckey Bright, The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2006; Page R2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114244622243599109.html?mod=todays_us_the_journal_report
• MyPyramid, www.mypyramid.gov
"This site, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, takes an in-depth look at the food pyramid and explains how to make balanced choices from every food group. Users can also plug their age, sex and activity level into an online form to get a more personalized eating plan. There is also information for children so that parents can easily explain the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet."
• Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC), www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/
"If you want free access to nutrition analyses for different foods, this is the place to go! Just put in the food (such as broiled chicken) and this tool of the Food and Nutrition Information Center, a division of the National Agriculture Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gives you everything from the calories to minute minerals. The FNIC Web site (www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/pubs_and_db.html) also contains more than 1,800 links to current and reliable nutrition resources."
• Nutrition.gov, www.nutrition.gov
"This site, from the National Agricultural Library and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides easy access to a large library of free information about nutrition."
• Eatright.org, www.eatright.org
"As a registered dietitian, I like to encourage people to contact an RD if they are interested in losing weight or just adopting a more healthful diet. However, most people do not know how to begin that search. At this site, by the American Dietetic Association, you can search for an RD in your area and also get some basic nutrition fact sheets on a variety of subjects. "
• PubMed, www.pubmed.com
"PubMed provides free access for users to perform MEDLINE searches and review all research papers on a variety of topics from a large number of journals. It was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine, located at the National Institutes of Health."
• Nutrition Action Health Letter, www.cspinet.org
"The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a nonprofit education and advocacy organization that focuses on improving the safety and nutritional quality of our food supply and on reducing the carnage caused by alcoholic beverages. Its newsletter, Nutrition Action Health Letter -- published 10 times a year -- ranges from a survey of the healthiest frozen seafood to the correlation of vitamin D and breast cancer."
• Consumer Health Digest, www.ncahf.org/digest/chd.html
"This free weekly e-newsletter, edited by Stephen Barrett, MD, and co-sponsored by the National Council Against Health Fraud and Quackwatch, summarizes scientific reports, legislative developments, enforcement actions, and other news. It also provides Web site evaluations, research tips, and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making."
Books on Nutrition:• "So What Can I Eat?!", By Elise Zeid and Ruth Winters
"With the newly revised food pyramid out last year, people are still confused about what they should and shouldn't eat. This book easily answers those questions. It offers ideas for nutritious and balanced meal plans and recipes and also provides an easy-to-use guide for grocery shopping."
• "Dieting for Dummies," By Jane Kirby
"This best-selling guide by a nutritionist at the American Dietetic Association offers weight-loss information for people of all ages and activity levels and discusses recent diet and exercise fads. The book also contains information on surgical options for weight loss. There are healthy recipes in the back for when you're eating at home, but the book also helps you understand how to eat healthy at restaurants."
• "Weight Watchers Family Power: 5 Simple Rules for a Healthy-Weight Home," By Karen Miller-Kovach
" Obesity effects all ages, and one of the best ways to combat obesity if for every member of the family to be on the same page when it comes to nutrition and healthy eating. This book helps, with just only a few simple, practical rules. There are no fad diets, and no foods are absolutely forbidden. Instead, this book focuses on a diet made of wholesome and nutritious foods, occasional treats and an increase in physical activity. The author realizes that while the rules are simple to understand, they aren't always easy to follow so she identifies potential trouble spots and strategies to help solve them."
• American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide
"This user friendly book is a very thorough resource for eating healthy from A-to-Z. It contains numerous tips on how to choose the most nutritious foods for your needs and lifestyle. It also provides information on vitamins, supplements, functional foods and managing a healthy weight."
• "What To Eat. An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating," By Marion Nestle
"This book -- due in bookstores in May -- not only takes you on a guided tour of the supermarket but it decodes the labels and nutrition claims along the way. Learn how to navigate the design of the store in order to avoid certain foods; get the real deal on the difference between 'organic' and 'natural' or whether frozen vegetables can be as good as fresh. Follow Dr. Nestle down every aisle, and past every food group to understand how to balance decisions about food on the basis of freshness, taste, nutrition, and health while keeping an eye on environment concerns as well as practical issues such as price."
"Beyond Self-Tying Sutures: As shape-memory polymers find commercial application, one researcher has activated them remotely using magnetism," by Kevin Bullis, MIT's Technology Review, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/NanoTech/wtr_16610,318,p1.html
"Saved by 'sand' poured into the wounds," by Jessica Marshall, New Scientist, March 16, 2006 --- Click Here
DETECTIVE Danny Johnson was on patrol outside Tampa, Florida, when a report came through of a possible shooting in a junkyard three blocks away. Arriving on the scene, he found an elderly man sitting on a tractor, with a large hole in his leg that was bleeding profusely.
Realising it would be some time before the ambulance arrived, Johnson opened a packet of sand-like material and poured it into the wound. Within seconds the bleeding had practically stopped, and the man survived. "The medic told me that had I not put the substance in there, the guy would probably have bled out and died," he says.
The material, called QuikClot, which is issued routinely to police officers in Hillsborough county, Florida, was developed for the US military to cut down the number of soldiers who bleed to death on the battlefield. More than 85 per cent of soldiers killed in action die within an hour of being wounded. Improved haemorrhage control "could probably save 20 per cent of the soldiers who are killed in action", says Hasan Alam, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
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From the University of Illinois
Nutrition and Health from University of Illinois Extension --- http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/nutrition/index.html
The State of the World’s Children 2006 --- Click Here
"The Days of the Rens Everyone remembers baseball's Negro Leagues: Here's the story of the basketball counterpart," by Martin Johnson, The Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110008119
The story of the Negro Leagues of Baseball, a circuit of teams that provided a showcase for many of Black America's top athletes during the first half of the 20th century, is well known. But the story of the Black Fives, a parallel set of basketball teams, is just beginning to come to light.
The Black Fives typically refers to leagues that first thrived in the African-American communities of New York, Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago in the teens and '20s but soon spread to the South and Los Angeles. "The Black Fives era was a particularly important and unique era in basketball," explained Matt Zeysing, a historian and archivist at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. "Not unlike today, the early game of basketball had a far-reaching impact on everyone involved: those who played, those who watched, and those individuals or organizations that profited from it," he continued. "During the Black Fives era, the stakes were higher."
The game of basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, and it caught on quickly. Before the turn of the century, it was being played widely in YMCAs and various athletic clubs across the country. By 1898, the game was being played professionally in Trenton, N.J. Edwin Henderson, a Harvard-educated physical-education teacher, introduced basketball to black students in the public-school system in Washington in 1904, and he founded the first league of all-black teams, the Interscholastic Athletic Association, two years later. News of Henderson's endeavors spread along the East Coast, and by 1907 inter-city games between all-black teams were played. In 1908, the Smart Set Athletic Club, a team based in Brooklyn, won the first Colored Basketball World Championship, which became an annual tournament.
The game of basketball was still in its infancy and much slower than today's game. The courts were smaller, the basket was still literally that, and referees had to retrieve the ball with a stick after each score. There was a jump ball after each hoop. However, many black teams were sponsored by ballrooms, which would include games as part of their evening entertainment.
"There would be a big band playing before the game and at halftime," explained Claude Johnson, a marketer and historian who has researched the era extensively. "After the game, the band would return and a dance would go on until after midnight." Mr. Johnson said that being part of an evening of fun led to Black Five teams developing a faster, more athletic and daring style of play. "The game wasn't just seen as an athletic science, but it was also entertainment."
The Harlem Globetrotters, the internationally renowned team of highflying tricksters and acrobatic hoopsters emerged from a Black Fives league in Chicago. Powerhouse teams were sometimes made up of players who were on integrated collegiate teams and known for other endeavors, such as Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson and Cumberland Posey, a Negro League baseball great recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Teams like the New York Rens won championships so often that they became institutions; the Rens often played all-white teams during barnstorming tours.
By the early '40s, two fledgling outfits, the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League, began featuring integrated teams; the NBL even invited the Rens to join the league, though the team was relocated to Dayton, Ohio. When the two leagues merged into the National Basketball Association in 1949, there was little resistance to integration. Teams drafted and signed black players from the outset, and there were few reports of racial tension among the early NBA players.
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It's almost the same thing as robbing the jewelry in your house and then asking $300 for the map to where it's buried --- only this time Ole would say "the yoke's on yew."
But I have to admit that it is a clever password.
"New Trojan Ransoms Files, Demands $300: The Trojan archives 44 file types with a ZIP library, then password-protects the files and deletes the originals. But some have discovered the password needed to free the files," by Gregg Keizer, Information Week, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=183700241
A Trojan is loose that locks up files and then demands a $300 ransom to return access, several security firms said Thursday, but at least two have discovered the password needed to free the files.
Dubbed "Cryzip" by some anti-virus vendors and "Zippo.a" by others, the Trojan archives 44 file types -- including .doc (Microsoft Word), .pdf (Adobe Acrobat), and .jpg (images) -- with a ZIP library, then password-protects the files and deletes the originals.
A "ransom note" is left on the machine, and reads in part: "Do not try to search for a program what encrypted your information - it is simply do not exists in your hard disk anymore. If you really care about documents and information in encrypted files you can pay using electonic [sic] currency $300.
"Reporting to police about a case will not help you, they do not know password."
At least two security firms, however, have dug up the password, which was left in plain view within one of the DLL files dropped by the Trojan. According to both Sophos and LURHQ, the password is:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98
"Because this string often appears inside projects compiled with Visual C++ 6, the author likely figured anyone who found the infecting DLL and examined its strings looking for the password would simply overlook it," LURHQ wrote in its Cryzip advisory.
"There should be no need for anyone to pay the reward," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with Sophos, in a separate statement. "It looks like this password was deliberately chosen by the author in an attempt to fool analysts into thinking it was a directory path instead."
Victims can use any ZIP utility to unlock the files with the password.
Ransom-like attacks, labeled "ransomware," are rare. The last full-fledged attack was in May 2005 when another security company, California-based Websense, spotted a Trojan that demanded $200 for a decryption key.
Other, and more common, forms of ransomware-style attacks are used by bogus spyware vendors, who claim that users' PCs harbor massive amounts of adware and spyware, and try to sell their phony products to spooked consumers.
Bob Jensen's threads on computer and networking security are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection
Bob Jensen's threads on reporting computer frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
"Health Tip: In Men, It's Called Andropause Part of the natural aging process," Healthday News, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.healthday.com/view.cfm?id=531438
First there was menopause. Now there's andropause.
That's what doctors are calling the symptoms of aging men, including changes in testicular tissue, sperm production and erectile function.
While women lose their fertility in menopause, men experience more gradual changes in their libido and fertility during andropause, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Andropause may contribute to medical problems including impotence, urinary tract infections, and an inflammation of the prostate.
Doctors recommend getting checked out if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
From the Scout Report on March 17, 2006
AV Music Morpher Basic 2.0.113 http://www.audio4fun.com/
While many audio players can perform a number of basic functions, this recent release allows users to perform a number of additional functions with the music of their choice. With this application, users can filter out various frequencies, change the tempo without altering the pitch, and also apply a number of sound effects. This particular version is compatible with computers running any version of Windows.
StudioLine Photo Basic 3.4 http://www.studioline.biz/EN/downloads/photo-basic/default.htm
Within the world of high-quality photo management programs, there are a number of fine options available at no charge. One of the better applications in this genre is definitely StudioLine Photo Basic. Features of this program include the ability to remove the dreaded “red-eye” as well as 30 different image manipulation and modification tools. For added convenience, photos can be emailed or uploaded as web galleries for friends and family. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer.
Black Maria Film and Video Festival Celebrates Twenty Five Year Anniversary Black Maria Short Film Fest Marks 25 Years http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5187124
Black Maria Film Festival [Real Player]
Edison Film and Sound: History of Edison Motion Pictures
Edison National Historic Site: Virtual Tour
Metropolitan Police Service: Black Marias
Questions & Answers: Black Maria
Study: Electricity kills cancer cells
Nuccitelli told the Virginian-Pilot he and his colleagues believe the process works by severely damaging DNA in the cells. The treatment produced no scarring and did not harm adjacent cells. All of the research mice survived, with no ill effects.
"Study: Electricity kills cancer cells," PhysOrg, March 13, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news11697.html
New Discoveries for Injury Recoveries in the Brain and Spinal Cord
"Brain-Healing Nanotechnology: A ground-breaking treatment could restore lost abilities to stroke victims and others," by Kevin Bullis, MIT's Technology Review, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/NanoTech/wtr_16591,319,p1.html
Although victims of stroke and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries sometimes recover through rehabilitation, they often have permanent disabilities, in part, because scar tissue and regulatory chemicals in the brain slow nerve growth, preventing nerve tissue from repairing itself. Now a treatment that has restored lost vision in lab animals appears to overcome these obstacles, allowing a mass of nerve cells to regrow after being cut.
"We think this is the basis of reconstructive brain surgery -- which is something nobody has ever heard of before," says Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, a researcher on the project and a brain and cognitive sciences researcher at MIT.
The treatment, described online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and performed at MIT, Hong Kong University, and Fourth Military Medical University in China, may be available to humans in trials in as little as three years if all goes well in large-animal studies, the researchers say.
In their experiments, the researchers first cut into a brain structure that conveys signals for vision, causing the small lab animals to be blinded in one eye. They then injected a clear fluid containing chains of amino acids into the damaged area. Once in the environment of the brain, these chains, called peptides, bind to one another, assembling into nano-scale fibers that bridge the gap left by the damage. The mesh of fibers prevents scar tissue from forming and may also encourage cell growth (the researchers are still investigating the mechanisms involved).
As a result, nerve cells restored severed connections, allowing 75 percent of the animals to see well enough to detect and turn toward food. The treatment restored around 30,000 nerve connections, compared with 25-30 connections made possible in other experimental treatments, Ellis-Behnke says.
Because the treatment overcomes key obstacles to the healing of nerve tissue in stroke and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, the researchers, as well as other experts in the field, believe it could prove to be an effective treatment for these types of nervous system damage.
"The presented data are almost too good to be true," says Wolfram Tetzlaff, professor and associate director of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) at the University of British Columbia. "Taken at face value, these findings are simply spectacular, and could become a very useful combination with other regeneration strategies," he says. "Future studies will show how these data will hold up." Such studies should be designed to determine whether the treatment works with a variety of brain injuries, not just the knife cuts studied so far, Tetzlaff says.
Why HIV is higher among African Americans
"Government Kills Blacks With AIDS: Virus The real AIDS conspiracy revealed." by Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine, March 10, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/rb/rb031006.shtml
Rucker C. Johnson and Steven Raphael, two researchers at the University of California, now claim to have solved the mystery of why AIDS so disproportionately afflicts the black community. There is a government policy at the heart of the epidemic: imprisoning black men and then not protecting them against acquiring HIV while in they are serving their time. The two researchers found that the increase of AIDS among American blacks closely tracked the rise in incarceration rates of black men over the past two decades. The researchers point out that about one out of 12 black men are in jail or prison, compared with one in 100 white men. And if current trends continue, a third of all black males born today will spend some time in prison.
Prisoners become infected with HIV through sex and intravenous drug use. Data on the prevalence of sexual activity in prison vary, but one conservative estimate found that 20 percent of male prisoners experience some type of sexual assault and 7 percent are raped. The activist group, Stop Prisoner Rape estimates that 240,000 male prisoners are raped each year. And data about whatever additional sexual activity is "consensual" in prison are obviously hard to come by. Some inmates have acquired the HIV virus before being put behind bars and they spread it to other prisoners by means of unprotected sex. After these prisoners have served their time, they go home to wives and girlfriends and pass along this deadly prison souvenir to them.
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"Body piercing suspected in death of teenage girl: Newfoundland teen believed to have died from toxic shock," by Sheryl Ubelacker, The Vancouver Sun, March 11, 2006 --- Click Here
A 17-year-old Newfoundland girl is believed to have died from toxic shock syndrome -- and the infection that killed her may have resulted from a nipple piercing, the province's chief medical examiner says.
If body piercing did lead to the teen's death, it will underscore warnings from medical experts about the need to ensure such procedures are done by trained, experienced operators with sound infection-control practices.
The St. John's teen, whose name has not been released, died Thursday after being admitted to hospital two days earlier "with medical problems that were quite complex," Dr. Simon Avis said Friday in an interview from St. John's.
But Avis said it is too early to say for certain that the apparent toxic shock syndrome arose from an infection at the site of the piercing.
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Students from rust belt states are headed south
Florida has the biggest in-migration of college students and New Jersey the biggest out-migration, according to the report released Monday by the National Center for Education Statistics, which compares the number of out of state first-year students who attended colleges in each state in 2004 with the number of that state’s first-time undergraduates who enrolled in colleges elsewhere that year.
Doug Lederman, "Heading South," Inside Higher Ed, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/14/migrate
Students with 247 dead or dying grandmothers
In fact, it’s worse. Each excuse-laden student who appears recalls to me a remark by Mary McCarthy, at the end of a chapter in The Stones of Florence. She quotes a Florentine who has recently remarked “that the pictures in the Uffizi had grown ugly from looking at the people who looked at them.” By now I simply feel ugly from staring at so many lies. How rightly to regard a student who is lying to you? No question about teaching is harder to answer because no question is less attractive.
Terry Caesar "The Time of Dead Grandmothers," Inside Higher Ed, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/03/14/caesar
Colleges Open Minority Aid to All Comers
Facing threats of litigation and pressure from Washington, colleges and universities nationwide are opening to white students hundreds of thousands of dollars in fellowships, scholarships and other programs previously created for minorities. Southern Illinois University reached a consent decree last month with the Justice Department to allow nonminorities and men access to graduate fellowships originally created for minorities and women.
Jonathan D. Glater, "Colleges Open Minority Aid to All Comers," The New York Times, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/14/education/14minority.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Selling the Promise Of Youth
Rothenberg has tweaked his own anti-aging regimen over the years. He hasn't taken growth hormone in a while, but he still injects himself with testosterone, as well as taking thyroid hormone and an assortment of multivitamins. The surfboard perched on the wall over his desk, together with large framed photographs of himself hanging ten, stand as testaments to his own search for eternal youth. He still surfs when he can, and often escapes to his vacation home in Cabo, where he grows coconut trees for fun. But the place he really likes to be is in the office, tailoring treatments to keep his patients youthful and happy. "I'm like the personal family doctor from the Norman Rockwell era," he says.
"Selling The Promise Of Youth: The anti-aging industry is offering a dizzying array of hormones and supplements. Business is booming. But some remedies are risky, and the benefits are unproven," Business Week Cover Story, March 20, 2006 --- Click Here
Dutch court convicts Muslim terrorists
A Dutch court has convicted nine Muslims of belonging to a terrorist group because they incited hatred towards non-Muslims. Two of the men were convicted of attempted murder for throwing hand grenades during a standoff with police and given sentences of 15 and 13 years.
"Dutch court convicts Muslim terrorists," Al Jazeera, March 10, 2006 ---
Jordan Executes Two for Slaying of Envoy
AMMAN, Jordan - Two militants were executed by hanging Saturday for the killing in Amman of a U.S. diplomat, police said. Laurence Foley, a 60-year-old administrator of U.S. aid programs in Jordan, was gunned down outside his Amman home on Oct. 28, 2002. Jordanian authorities have blamed al-Qaida in Iraq's top operative, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for Foley's death. The two executed militants are Salem bin Suweid, a Libyan, and Yasser Freihat, a Jordanian. They were convicted of belonging to a cell headed by the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi. The two appealed their convictions, but the appeals court upheld their death sentences in November.
"Jordan Executes Two for Slaying of Envoy," Yahoo News, March 11, 2006 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060311/ap_on_re_mi_ea/jordan_terrorism
A lot has been said about Muslim violence and injustice. Here's an account from India.
"Outrage over India murder acquittal," Al
Jazeera, March 10, 2006 ---
But that suspect, 24-year-old Manu Sharma, was the son of a powerful and wealthy politician with interests in sugar mills. He was only a few years out of Mayo College, one of India's most elite boarding schools. Among the friends with him that night were a coterie of the young, the rich, and the well-connected. He and his friends, who were accused of helping cover up the crime, insisted they were innocent.
The victim, a small-time model who moved on the fringes of New Delhi society, had few such connections.
For six years, the case moved through India's courts - fairly speedy for a legal system hobbled by corruption and a maze-like bureaucracy. And few were surprised when the verdict was announced on 21 February and all nine of the accused were acquitted.
What surprised India was its own reaction: Protesters took to the streets, holding candlelight vigils and waving signs calling for justice; newspapers have kept the story on the front page day after day; officials from the president to the capital city's police chief have called for a review of the investigation.
In a country that had all-but resigned itself to its barely functioning legal system, a backlash was born.
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What postgraduate study in applied mathematics pays big dividends?
"Why Students Of Prof. El Karoui Are In Demand: French Math Teacher Covers Structure Of Derivatives; Banks Clamor for 'Quants' A Lesson on 'Smile Risk'," by Carrick Mollenkamp, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114187184703793317.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
When Xavier Charvet applies for a job at an investment bank next year, he thinks he'll have an advantage. The 24-year-old French student's resume begins with the phrase: "DEA d'El Karoui." That stands for the postgraduate degree he is studying for under Nicole El Karoui, a math professor in Paris. She teaches skills required to create and price derivatives, the complex financial instruments based on stocks, bonds or loans. "When I talk about El Karoui's master's, everyone knows" about the degree, says Mr. Charvet.
As derivatives have become one of the hottest areas for the world's biggest banks, Ms. El Karoui, 61 years old, has become an unlikely player in the business. Her courses at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique and a state university, in such rarefied subjects as stochastic calculus, have become an incubator for experts in the field. A resume with her name on it "is a shortcut because you don't need to train the person on the basics of derivatives," says Rachid Bouzouba, a former student who is now head of European equity trading at the London office of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
The derivatives departments at banking giants J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, and France's BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA include many of her protégés.
The high demand for her students reflects big changes in the global banking industry. Investment banks used to make much of their money from underwriting and trading stocks and bonds, or providing mergers-and-acquisitions advice. They hired people with a wide range of academic experience, including liberal-arts and science graduates.
In recent years, profits from trading and selling derivatives have come to rival those from stocks and bonds at many banks. On average, revenue from derivatives based on stocks now accounts for about 30% of an investment bank's total revenue from stock-related businesses, according to a Citigroup Inc. report issued in January.
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How Grasso Got Greener: Grasso Took Fifth In SEC Testimony
An official in the office of New York state's attorney general yesterday said former New York Stock Exchange Chief Executive Dick Grasso last year declined to answer certain questions during a deposition by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding that regulator's probe of trading firms at the Big Board. Avi Schick, a lawyer working for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, made that assertion during a pretrial hearing in New York state court for a civil lawsuit claiming that Mr. Grasso's $187.5 million pay package as Big Board chief was excessive under New York law covering not-for-profits. (The NYSE has since become a public company, NYSE Group Inc.) The disclosure could be useful to Mr. Spitzer in the compensation case if he can use it to suggest that Mr. Grasso was an inadequate market regulator.
Chad Bray, "Grasso Took Fifth In SEC Testimony, Spitzer Aide Says," The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2006; Page C3 --- Click Here
Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at
How Bear Stearns Got Greener
The strong earnings increase was also clouded by details of long-expected regulatory charges unveiled yesterday showing how three separate Bear units aided improper mutual-fund trading -- in some cases intentionally and despite thousands of complaints from the funds. Bear settled the charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York Stock Exchange, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, by agreeing to pay $250 million -- including $160 million in disgorgement of gains and a $90 million fine.
Randall Smith and Tom Lauricella, "Bear Stearns to Pay $250 Million Fine; Net Rises 36%," The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2006; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114210497174995838.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
Bob Jensen's mutual fund scandal threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#MutualFunds
In the simplest of terms, a hedge fund is an investment club subject to less regulatory scrutiny than mutual funds. If you invest your money in these things you must be prepared to accept the added risks.
"Troubles at Atlanta Hedge Fund Snare Doctors, Football Players: Mr. Wright Drops From Sight As SEC and Investors Sue; Ex-Broncos Seek Payback 'I Haven't Made Myself Scarce'," by Ian McDonald and Valerie Bauerlein, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114187533315493405.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
ATLANTA -- Kirk S. Wright, a 35-year-old hedge-fund manager, celebrated his second marriage last October with a lavish reception at his sprawling brick-and-stucco home in this city's northern suburbs.
Former professional football players, joined by many of Atlanta's top African-American doctors and entrepreneurs, crowded his home, admiring its white-granite floors, elevator, and chic interior glass walls. They nibbled sushi and lobster, danced on a platform over the swimming pool and toasted the newlyweds at three outdoor bars sculpted from ice. The bride flashed an engagement ring that Mr. Wright has said cost $55,000. A life-size portrait of the bride and groom on a Caribbean beach sat on the patio.
Many of Mr. Wright's guests had an extra reason to be impressed. Along with other investors, they had allocated at least $115 million to Mr. Wright's hedge-fund firm, International Management Associates LLC. Over the prior seven years, which included the worst bear market since the Great Depression, Mr. Wright had reported average annual returns of more than 27%.
Now, state and federal authorities believe that Mr. Wright was far less successful than he seemed. Two months before the party, the firm's internal accountant informed one of Mr. Wright's partners by email about a variety of irregularities, including the apparent falsification of investment returns. Mounting internal concerns, coupled with growing suspicions by some investors and regulators, overtook Mr. Wright in February. The Securities and Exchange Commission and International Management investors filed separate lawsuits against Mr. Wright, accusing him of fraud.
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Bob Jensen's threads on hedge funds are under the H-terms at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#H-Terms
Do you know anything about Glide Effortless?
"If TransMedia can fix these problems, it just might have a hit on its hands with Glide."
Glide Online Service Has Good Potential, But Rough Edges," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html
The high-tech hype machine is in full throttle right now, pushing the idea that one day soon people will store all their files online, and that sophisticated new "Web applications," running on remote computers, will be used to manage and view all those files. But as with most hype, the actual evidence has been scarce.
Now, a small company in New York City, far from the Silicon Valley publicity industry, is quietly delivering on that vision. The company, TransMedia Corp., has launched a rich, slick consumer Web service that can store, display, and share photos, music, videos, Web links, blogs and other documents. It's called Glide Effortless, available at www.glidedigital.com.
Glide Effortless, which runs equally well on Windows and Macintosh computers, is the most interesting online service I've seen in quite a while. It's a large, integrated environment that has its own graphical user interface and often responds as quickly and smoothly as a desktop software program, even though it runs on remote servers.
Glide has elements of photo-sharing sites, social networking sites and Web publishing services, but is different from any other site or service I've seen. It requires a broadband Internet connection, and works inside the latest versions of the most popular browsers: Internet Explorer for Windows; Safari for the Mac; and Firefox for either Windows or Mac.
In my tests, I found that Glide has some rough edges. Not everything works as it should all the time, and there are some annoying aspects. It needs some work. But overall, I was impressed with the design, the care for detail and the ambition of the service.
Glide is a subscription service whose prices vary based on the amount of file storage you need and the features you get. It starts with a couple of free, but limited, plans offering 300 megabytes of storage. The options range up to a full-featured plan offering 4 gigabytes of storage for $9.95 a month, or $99.95 a year, if you pay upfront. There are also family plans, and the opportunity to buy extra storage a la carte.
Parental controls are available in the family plans. And the company requires that its members have verifiable identities. There's no advertising in Glide. The company augments the membership fees it collects by offering shopping opportunities, though today they are limited mainly to buying prints of photos stored online and, oddly, to buying expensive chocolates. Music sales are in the works.
You can upload all of your files to your Glide account manually, from within the service. Glide also offers a small program that resides on your hard disk and automates mass uploads to the service. In my tests, this little program installed and worked fine on the Mac, but not on Windows.
The main Glide screens are divided into two parts. At the top, a large window contains icons representing your files. Video file icons actually play the video in tiny form.
The bottom part of the screen displays "containers," Glide's term for a folder, playlist, or collection of files. These are represented by icons that look like boxes. You can add files to a container by just dragging their icons onto the container's icon.
Glide is a good example of the new type of Web application that mimics desktop software. Dragging and dropping works perfectly. Menus snap open instantly, and page layouts can be quickly changed without having to reload pages.
Every file and container icon in Glide contains a pop-up menu of actions you can take. For instance, with a photo file, you can display the picture in various sizes, edit it, delete it, download it, email it and more.
Action menus don't look like normal menus. In Glide, they are universally presented as pie charts, with the various commands occupying the slices in a circle. There are multiple pie menus for each item; you cycle through them by clicking on a mysterious symbol in the middle of the chart. It works, but it's a bit goofy.
You can share your files, either via email or an online conference. The email contains a link that takes the recipient to a special Glide page.
There are too many features in Glide to enumerate here, and that's also its Achilles' heel. TransMedia has tried to pack so much into Glide that it hasn't fixed a lot of glitches.
During my tests, I frequently ran into situations where music wouldn't play, or took several minutes to do so, and so did a person to whom I emailed some links to my music. I was able to create and publish a Web page, but only in one of the two styles Glide offers; the other refused to work. And I could see no way to edit or expand the Web site after it was published.
A friend with whom I had shared some Glide content emailed me using Glide's internal system (Yes, it has email, too.) but the message never arrived. I uploaded two videos to Glide. Neither appeared in the video screen of Glide for over 24 hours. Finally, one appeared, and worked, but the other merely appeared as an unplayable file.
If TransMedia can fix these problems, it just might have a hit on its hands with Glide.
You can send large files via options described at
You can read more about archiving, long
term storage, and total backup at
From Walt Mossberg's Mailbox, The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/mossberg_mailbox.html
Q: I want to upgrade my laptop to Windows Media Center. I have an external TV tuner and I acquired the software through a friend who got it free with his computer, but would rather run regular XP. If I just install Windows Media Center and plug in the tuner, everything should work OK?
A: I've never tried this, but I doubt it will work. Media Center isn't a software program, but a flavor of the Windows operating system itself, so you'd be upgrading or replacing your current version of Windows, which could alter many things on your machine. It might not work at all, because Microsoft only sells Media Center with new PCs.
Even if installation did somehow work, however, you'd probably get trapped in Microsoft's "activation" process. In order to run any new copy of Windows, it must be "activated" by Microsoft, and I suspect the copy your friend gave you would be recognized as one that came with a particular new PC and activation would be denied on grounds of piracy, which would eventually cause your computer to stop functioning.
Q: I just switched from a PC to an iMac. On Windows, I used Firefox as my Web browser, and I could right-click on any link or bookmark, and it would open in a new tab. In the iMac's Web browser, Safari, I cannot find the same function. Have I overlooked something?
A: Safari offers similar functionality, including the right-clicking -- if you have a two-button mouse. But it only works with links, and with individual bookmarks in the Bookmarks Bar. Bookmarks inside folders, or in the main Bookmarks menu, can't be opened in a new tab by right-clicking on them. Also, in Safari, you have to first go into preferences and make sure tabbed browsing is turned on.
Bear in mind that you can also use Firefox on your Mac. The Mac and Windows versions are nearly identical. Oddly, on the question you raise, the Mac version of Firefox behaves like Safari, not like Firefox on Windows.
Q: I have lots of old regular 8mm films in the closet, and I'd love to have all of these reels transferred to DVD. What's the best method and how expensive would it be to transfer perhaps 10 hours of this film to DVD?
A: I suggest using a service to do this. The best one I know of is called YesVideo (www.yesvideo.com). It charges $49.99 for the first 250 feet, and 10 cents per foot thereafter. But you can't send the film directly to YesVideo. You have to go to a retail store that partners with the company, such as a Best Buy or Ritz Camera shop. Details, including a store locator, are on the company's Web site.
What do the ACT exam outcomes tell us about reading skills of your incoming students?
Although not as well known as the SAT, the similar
exams are taken by more than a million high school
seniors each year. The ACT exam consists of a 75-question English test that
measures grammatical and rhetorical skills, a 60-question math test that
assesses the skills acquired in high school mathematics through
trigonometry, a 40-question reading test that measures comprehension, a
40-question science test that emphasizes reasoning and problem-solving
skills, and an optional 30-minute writing test. Recently ACT released a
Reading Between the Lines,
that confirms what many of us
who teach at the college or university level have known for a long time.
Namely, that many of our entering students cannot read well enough to cope
with the reading assignments they will encounter in their college classes
Mark Shapiro, "Ready or Not, Reading Matters," The Irascible Professor, March 7, 2006 ---
From Duke University
Arts Project: Comics about video, academe, and the law --- http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/
“Will a spiky-haired, camera-toting super-heroine... restore decency and common sense to the world of creative endeavor?” -Paul Bonner, The Herald-Sun
“Bound By Law lays out a sparkling, witty, moving and informative story about how the eroded public domain has made documentary filmmaking into a minefield.” -Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net
“Bound by Law translates law into plain English and abstract ideas into ‘visual metaphors.’ So the comic's heroine, Akiko, brandishes a laser gun as she fends off a cyclopean 'Rights Monster' - all the while learning copyright law basics, including the line between fair use and copyright infringement.”
I learned about this from the Scholarly Communications blog at the University of Illinois on March 16, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
Bound by Law Duke Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain has just released "BOUND BY LAW?" - a comic book on copyright and creativity -- specifically, documentary film. It is being published today under a Creative Commons License. The comic, by Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins explores the benefits of copyright in a digital age, but also the threats to cultural history posed by a “permissions culture,” and the erosion of “fair use” and the public domain. Berkman Blog 3/15/06
Free digital versions are available here. http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/digital.html
Bob Jensen's threads on the disastrous DMCA are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright
Debit Card Fraud Jumps
Several banks have reported that account information has been stolen and consumers have reported mysterious fraudulent account withdrawals. Litan told MSNBC, “This is the absolute worst hack that has happened, the biggest scam to date.” Using a debit card to steal cash is a more direct process for thieves. Stealing merchandise and converting it into cash can be a risky business. MSNBC reports this so-called “white card” fraud does not require interaction with clerks or other store staff. Careless PIN storage is to blame for these losses.
"Debit Card Fraud Jumps," AccounitngWeb, March 13, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on ID theft are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on computer and network security are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection
"More Accounting Grads Putting Off CPA Certificates," AccountingWeb, March 5, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101900
The AICPA found that enrollment in accounting programs increased 19 percent between the years 2000 and 2004. Recipients of bachelor’s degrees increased 9 percent, to 40,400 and master’s degree holders grew 5.4 percent, to 13,350, between the years 2003 and 2004.
Joyce Meyer, president and principal with Meyer Fears Schnell & Associates CPAs, told the Kansas City Business Journal, “Accounting is a broad field of study. Most business leaders personally need some background in and understanding of accounting, and a lot of people use an accounting degree to go into management. You can probably work in bookkeeping without a CPA, too.”
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy(NASBA), AICPA, and Thomson-Prometric Inc. commissioned a study that found the number of candidates taking the uniform CPA examination dropped almost 37 percent after the introduction of the computerized version of the test in April, 2004, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The survey found the primary reason given for not taking the exam was that candidates were too busy.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers
A different way to think about "research" in colleges and universities
All sorts of organizations and legislators are now
struggling with how to ensure that U.S. colleges and universities are
accountable for student learning. Toward that end, we should keep in mind an
important resource that's already in place on most campuses, the office of
institutional research. Beyond the usual institutional facts and trends, IR
offices can collect data to help faculty improve their teaching, and can
involve the whole institution in a collaborative effort towards improved
Lee S. Shulman, President
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
"A different way to think about ... institutional research," Carnegie Perspectives Newsletter, March 7, 2006
"Learning About Student Learning
from Community Colleges" ---
Will this ever become a more important part of performance evaluations
In time, more and more colleges and faculties may find that searching for better ways of helping students learn can be as engrossing as seeking new knowledge in the library and laboratory. The next 20 years might just turn out to be one of the most productive periods in the history of higher education.
"A Test Colleges Don't Need," by Derek Bok, The Washington Post, March 5, 2006; B07 (forwarded by Don Ramsey)
The New York Times reported last month that a national commission appointed by the Bush administration is considering the use of standardized tests to discover how much college students learn. Campus newspapers across the country have commented extensively on the story.
Such interest is understandable. There are no tests similar to SATs to tell us how much undergraduates know. State legislators, who appropriate billions of dollars each year to higher education, are naturally interested in finding out what they are getting for their money. So are students, who invest heavily in their education. Unfortunately, however, mandating standardized tests is not a promising way to find answers, let alone improve learning. There are other, more promising solutions.
As it happens, researchers have discovered a lot about the progress students make in college. Their findings justify the growing concern for more accountability.
Although professors regard improving critical thinking as the most important goal of college, tests reveal that seniors who began their studies with average critical thinking skills have progressed only from the 50th percentile of entering freshmen to about the 69th percentile.
Tests of writing and of literacy in mathematics, statistics and computer technology suggest that many undergraduates improve these skills only slightly, while some actually regress. Many corporations have to offer programs to teach their college-educated employees how to express themselves.
Although most colleges require students to study a foreign language, they rarely require enough study to achieve a reasonable competence. Only 15 percent of undergraduates enroll in courses of the kind needed to acquire real proficiency. Fewer than 10 percent of seniors believe that they substantially improved their language skills during college. The rest, in the words of one critic, "know enough to read a menu but not enough to compliment the chef."
Teaching methods are often inadequate for the goals faculties are trying to achieve. Important courses such as expository writing and foreign languages are frequently taught by untrained graduate students and underpaid adjunct teachers. Efforts to develop critical thinking falter in practice because too many professors still lecture to passive audiences instead of challenging students to apply what they have learned to new questions. Rather than examine students on their problem-solving skills, instructors test mainly for recall and comprehension of material and offer only skimpy, belated feedback in return.
Despite these problems, standardized tests are a poor way to improve the situation. It is extremely difficult to capture what students should be learning in a single set of exams, especially when colleges and their student bodies are so diverse. In practice, such tests tend to include much that is trivial while leaving out much more that is important. They are unlikely to give an accurate picture of how much undergraduates have learned.
It is equally hard to use test scores to bring about needed reforms. If nothing much turns on the results, faculty members will ignore the tests. If lawmakers try to employ financial incentives to pressure faculty members into concentrating on boosting test scores, professors will either resist stubbornly or escape from teaching basic courses into training graduate students and giving advanced seminars.
Useful reforms can come only from within the universities. Academic leaders will have to work with their faculties to develop methods of assessing student learning that are appropriate to their institutions. They will need to provide funds to experiment and evaluate new teaching methods. They can offer more extensive training of graduate teaching assistants and young faculty members. Above all, they should try to emulate other well-run organizations by initiating a sustained process of improvement in which they continuously evaluate their educational programs, identify weaknesses and experiment with new ways to remedy their deficiencies.
Ultimate success or failure, however, will depend on the faculty. Conceivably, professors will refuse to cooperate, invoking academic freedom or accusing critics of meddling in matters they do not understand. But better things may be in store. Reports from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, located at Stanford University, reveal that faculties have become much more interested in undergraduate education since 1970. Groups of professors on many campuses have formed to talk about new ways of teaching. More than half of American colleges are assessing student progress toward at least some important educational goals.
Granted, few of them as yet are using these assessments to build a comprehensive process for identifying weaknesses in their programs and experimenting with possible improvements. Still, the elements of such a system are in place on many campuses. In time, more and more colleges and faculties may find that searching for better ways of helping students learn can be as engrossing as seeking new knowledge in the library and laboratory. The next 20 years might just turn out to be one of the most productive periods in the history of higher education.
The writer was president of Harvard University from 1971 to 1991 and will return to Harvard as interim president on July 1. His latest book is "Our Underachieving Colleges."
March 7, 2006 reply from Richard Newmark [richard.newmark@PHDUH.COM]
Perhaps the Bush Administration's national commission should go to the AACSB web site. Everything discussed in the excerpts below is exactly what the new AACSB standards are telling business programs to do.
See excerpts from article below:
" They can offer more extensive training of graduate teaching assistants and young faculty members. Above all, they should try to emulate other well-run organizations by initiating a sustained process of improvement in which they continuously evaluate their educational programs, identify weaknesses and experiment with new ways to remedy their deficiencies."
" More than half of American colleges are assessing student progress toward at least some important educational goals.
Granted, few of them as yet are using these assessments to build a comprehensive process for identifying weaknesses in their programs and experimenting with possible improvements. Still, the elements of such a system are in place on many campuses. In time, more and more colleges and faculties may find that searching for better ways of helping students learn can be as engrossing as seeking new knowledge in the library and laboratory. The next 20 years might just turn out to be one of the most productive periods in the history of higher education."
Richard Newmark Director,
School of Acctg. and Computer Info. Systems
Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business
2004 Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award Winner University of Northern Colorado
Campus Box 128 Kepner Hall, 2090G Greeley, Colorado 80639
Arizona students will not be able to pick and choose courses so freely
The Arizona Senate has rejected a bill — widely opposed by academics in the state — that would have let students opt out of material that they found offensive, the Associated Press reported. The bill was considered by many professors to be the worst form to date of the “Academic Bill of Rights” and many were alarmed when a Senate committee approved the legislation, whose sponsor said it was prompted by a complaint over a course where The Ice Storm was on the reading list.
Inside Higher Ed, March 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/10/qt
The NCAA hammers down of The Ohio State University
The National Collegiate Athletic Association placed Ohio State University on three years’ probation on Friday for major wrongdoing in its men’s basketball program, requiring the university to repay nearly $800,000 in championship revenue and effectively erasing the team’s records in four NCAA tournaments from 1999-2002, when it carried an ineligible player.
Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, March 13, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/13/osu
'Pimp' Song Denounced for Exploiting Negative Stereotypes
When Christine Smith heard the song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" announced as the Oscar winner for best original song on Sunday night's telecast, she almost fell off the sofa in her Arlington living room. Deborah Veney Robinson of Silver Spring had pretty much the same reaction. So did Juaquin Jessup of Northwest Washington. "It was just like during the time when all the blaxploitation films were coming out with African Americans being portrayed as pimps and hos and gangsters," said Jessup, 51. "It was another example of how they pick the worst aspects of black life.
Avis Thomas-Lester, "Oscar Winner Hits Angry Chord: 'Pimp' Song Denounced for Exploiting Negative Stereotypes," The Washington Post, March 7, 2006 --- Click Here
You can hear this song and other
nominated songs on NPR
"Oscar Song Category Sparse This Year" --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5244776
Flashback to When Fuel Was Cheap
The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 1957
There's no place quite like home -- on wheels. So insist house trailer makers who are on the road to one of their biggest years -- in more ways than one. Not only are trailer sales scooting upward, but the new trailers are growing larger, wider and plushier.
I was once told (by a Swede) that this was the reason
Sweden sent newly-invented
wheel barrows to aid in the evolution of early forms of Norwegian people.
The discovery of a Turkish family that walks on all fours could aid research into the evolution of humans. Researchers believe the five brothers and sisters, who can walk naturally only on all fours, may provide new information on how humans evolved from four-legged hominids to walk upright. Nicholas Humphrey, evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, told The Times the discovery opened "an extraordinary window on our past". "I do not think they were designed to be quadrupeds by their genes, but their unique genetic make-up allowed them to be," he said.
"Human quadrupeds discovered in Turkey," Yahoo News, March 7, 2006 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060307/sc_afp/turkeyhealthscience
Your unlimited Google warehouse is on the way
Google Inc. is preparing to offer online storage to Web users, creating a mirror image of data stored on consumer hard drives, according to company documents that were mistakenly released on the Web. The existence of the previously rumored GDrive online storage service surfaced after a blogger discovered apparent notes in a slide presentation by Google executives published on Google's site after its analysts presentation day last Thursday. "With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including e-mails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc)" the notes in the original Google presentation state.
"Google offers glimpse of Web-based hard drive: Plan to let users store all kinds of data and information in one central place is mistakenly released," Money Magazine, March 7, 2006 --- http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/07/technology/google.reut/index.htm
Meanwhile Microsoft Corp.'s (Research) new version of the Windows operating system, called Vista, will emphasize a Web-like search instead of its traditional folder-based navigation.
Google might offer similar services but shift the primary location of user data from the Windows desktop to Google's own computers.
Some current Total Backup solutions:
Disaster Recovery --- Click Here
Popular Mechanics separates fact from fiction in the
Last week’s Associated Press release of a video, taken just prior to Hurricane Katrina’s arrival in New Orleans last August, has generated a new round of second-guessing and finger pointing regarding who is to blame for the supposedly slow, poor response to this natural disaster. Falling under the fold was an in-depth cover story on this subject by an unlikely source, Popular Mechanics. In its March issue, PM took on virtually all of the media myths and misnomers that were so drilled into the citizenry by press representatives that many have become part of the public psyche. Thankfully, its authors made it clear right in the first paragraph that they planned on pulling no punches.
"Popular Mechanics Takes on Katrina Myths," The American Thinker, March 6th, 2006 --- http://americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5302
"Now What? The Lessons of Katrina," Popular Mechanics Cover Story, March 2006 --- http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2315076.html?page=1&c=y
How do international cyber criminals occasionally get caught?
Over the past few years, the
number of crimes involving computers and the Internet has
exploded. Given the technological nature of these crimes,
some unique challenges are involved in tracking down the
perpetrators. For instance, cyber criminals often use secure
software to remain anonymous -- and even if they're
identified, their activities can be based in countries that
don't prosecute such activity. As a result, catching them
requires technically trained investigators, who must
coordinate with international partners, using a blend of
high-tech and low-tech tactics. Chris Painter is deputy
chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property
Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. He oversees a
team of 22 lawyers involved in all aspects of computer
crime, from denial-of-service attacks to attacks on computer
networks. Recently, he shared some insights into computer
crime and how the criminals are caught.
Kate Greene, "Catching Cyber Criminals Computer crime is changing as the Internet becomes a vital component of everyday life. So how do cyber cops keep up with it?" MIT's Technology Review, March 7, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16520,258,p1.html
Economagic (economic statistics) --- http://www.economagic.com/
Money: What it is and how it works --- http://wfhummel.cnchost.com/
International Monetary Fund (economic history) --- http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/center/mm/eng/mm_cc_01.htm
Bob Jensen's economic statistics bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#EconStatistics
Who or what was the famous Mechanical Turk that is now Amazon's Mechanical Turk?
Of course, there's a keen irony in
all this. At a conference-cum-show dedicated to
technology-based solutions, Amazon's Mechanical Turk is an
allusion to the famous exhibit in the 1760s, by Hungarian
showman Wolfgang von Kemepelen, in which a chess-playing
automaton, known as The Mechanical Turk, was dressed like a
Turkish pasha. It wowed royal audiences -- and even won a
few notable chess battles. And it was a complete fake. Von
Kemepelen, a century before P.T. Barnum, had simply hidden
an undersized chess master within the machine, along with
pulleys, gears, and other faux-mechanical props. While
Amazon's use of the name might suggest a betrayal of the
concept of artificial intelligence (AI), it's actually the
latest in string of experiments dealing with the
complementary nature of machine and human intelligence.
Sam Williams, "Pennies for Web Jobs: Amazon wants to employ people to do menial Web tasks that computers can't handle," MIT's Technology Review, March 8, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16519,300,p1.html
Skeptics aren't buying into AOL's excuse for possibly
charging for each email message
A new pay-per-message model, currently under consideration by AOL and Yahoo, is meant to avert problems stemming from the flood of spam (junk e-mail) by requiring companies to pay for certified e-mail deliveries, in the same way they pay for certified snail mailings. There's only one problem: No one seems to believe the system will help to reduce the amount of spam, some critics think it might actually increase junk e-mail, and some are worried that it will set a dangerous precedent by creating two tiers of e-mail service.What everyone agrees on, however, is that spam is a big problem. According to Postini, a provider of enterprise e-mail management software, over two-thirds (68.6 percent) of all Internet e-mail messages are now spam. And there's currently no good solution to this mushrooming problem. Spam filters are, at best, imperfect, too often failing to keep junk mail out of users' inboxes.
Dylan Tweney, "You've Got PayMail: AOL has announced plans to charge for sending some e-mail, in hopes of curtailing spam. But skeptics aren't buying it," MIT's Technology Review, March 6, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16511,300,p1.html
Google Leaps Into Microsoft Office Territory
Google has made its boldest move into Microsoft's most important market next to Windows. The search engine giant has acquired online word-processing service Writely, placing Google on the same path as Microsoft Office. Recognizing the industry trend toward software as a Web service, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced last year that the software maker was going to make all of its products available on the Web as a service. While Microsoft and Google have been competing for a while on a variety of Internet-connected -desktop software, particularly related to online search, this is the latter company's first major entry into Office territory.
Antone Gonsalves, "Google Leaps Into Microsoft Office Territory," InternetWeek Newsletter, March 10, 2006
"Will Google Threaten Microsoft Office? The recent acquisition of an online word processor by the search giant raises the question," by Michael Fitzgerald, MIT's Technology Review, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16600,308,p1.html
New things are in the wind for hiding identity on the Web
The Internet can be dangerous. It wasn't designed to safeguard important information -- such as people's social-security numbers, home addresses, or bank-account information. Because of this lack of built-in security, the task of managing private data has fallen to a host of private entities: banks, credit-card companies, online merchants, insurance companies, and the like. Recently, however, software engineers and policy makers have been designing a new layer of security for the Internet. The goal is to free up identity information from organizations and companies, and also allow individuals more control over who sees their personal information.
Kate Greeene, "Identity 2.0: An open-source identity management system could change the way we share personal information over the Internet," MIT's Technology Review, March 6, 2006 ---http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16509,258,p1.html
Why weren't tort lawyers put out of business years ago?
"Audit-Engagement Provisions Raise Queries: More Companies Disclose Pacts That Prevent Suits, Limit Awards If Accounting Problems Arise," by David Reilly, The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2006; Page C1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114160543709989959.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
More companies are disclosing agreements that prevent them from taking their auditors to court or from seeking punitive damages when problems arise with auditing work.
Such arrangements are the subject of a growing debate within accounting and regulatory circles. That's leading some companies to flag the issue when they send out proxy statements, notices issued to shareholders before annual meetings. Investors generally have been unaware of the provisions because they are contained in audit-engagement letters -- the paperwork for hiring an outside accountant -- that aren't made public.
Critics contend the agreements jeopardize the arm's-length relationship that companies are required to keep with their auditors. Some companies signing such agreements say they've felt pressured into doing so rather than risk being dumped by their auditors.
Freight-handling and transportation company Arkansas Best Corp. last week disclosed that its engagement letter with Ernst & Young LLP was "subject to alternative dispute resolution procedures and an exclusion of punitive damages." That was the Fort Smith, Ark., company's first disclosure on the arrangement, although it existed in previous years, said Judy McReynolds, chief financial officer. "We've been looking at the interest in this issue and thought that really our shareholders ought to understand the fact that the language exists in our agreement."
Arkansas Best didn't think it "had a lot of leverage to remove the language" requested by Ernst & Young, Ms. McReynolds added. The company isn't necessarily opposed to such limitations, she said, but "right now, I don't know that we have the ability to say no."
In a statement, Ernst & Young said it has included arbitration requirements in engagement letters "for more than 10 years. ... The provisions do not limit the liability of either party for any losses the other may have suffered, and they do not apply at all to shareholder class actions or claims made by investors under the securities laws."
The statement added that punitive-damages waivers are "consistent with the treatment of punitive damages in shareholder lawsuits under the federal securities laws, which do not permit recovery of such damages." Ernst & Young declined to comment on Arkansas Best.
Biotech company Invitrogen Corp. disclosed an arbitration agreement with Ernst & Young in its proxy filed last week, while Fastenal Co., a maker of industrial and construction supplies, two weeks ago noted one with KPMG LLP. Similar disclosures in recent months also came from Accenture Ltd., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. So far all the disclosures are from audit clients of Ernst & Young and KPMG.
A KPMG spokesman said in a statement that a requirement to seek arbitration "is a common mechanism for a cost-effective forum, which allows both parties the ability to control the costs normally associated with litigation. We believe alternative dispute resolution is consistent with maintaining auditor independence." The spokesman declined to comment on the punitive-damages waiver requirement.
Among the other Big Four accounting firms, a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP spokesman said the firm hasn't "had any limitations in our engagement letters with public clients." A Deloitte & Touche LLP spokesman declined to comment.
Last fall, Sun Microsystems, Santa Clara, Calif., was among the first to shed light on the practice. The revelation of its agreement with Ernst & Young led some shareholders to vote against retaining the accounting firm when it was ratified as the company's auditor at Sun Microsystems' October annual meeting.
Securities and Exchange Commission rules prohibit companies from indemnifying their auditors for damages they might incur. The agreements now being disclosed don't go that far, but critics say that's a matter of semantics.
"It doesn't matter if you use the word indemnify, if it limits the auditor's liability it jeopardizes the auditor's independence," said Steven W. Thomas, an attorney with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP who has represented clients suing auditors.
Not so, say officials at the Big Four. Rather, they say, the limitations relate to the venue and way in which disputes can be settled and so don't affect their independence.
"To the extent that these provisions exist in engagement letters, it's about the mechanism for settling a future dispute between auditor and client company," said Robert J. Kueppers, deputy chief executive at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. "These provisions in no way limit the ability or extent to which investors can sue the auditors."
Although the restrictions wouldn't prevent shareholders or creditors from suing an auditor, they are part of a global campaign by the accounting industry to limit damages that can stem from corporate blowups. The British Parliament, for example, is debating industry-backed legislation that allows companies to cap their auditors' liabilities, subject to shareholder approval, and the European Union also is considering pan-European liability caps.
Neither the SEC nor the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board -- the regulator for accounting firms -- officially weighed in on the use of such restrictions. The SEC's staff is considering the issue, said a person familiar with the matter, and a spokesman for the PCAOB said "the board has not taken a position on this topic." The liability caps were discussed at a meeting of a PCAOB advisory group last month in which attendees were split on whether arbitration agreements and punitive-damages waivers were harmful.
Continued in article
I have my doubts about the lawyers and the courts accepting such contracts. Why can't doctors have the same provisions in contracts with patients? Why can't investment advisors and stock brokers have the same provisions for customers? Why can't Wal-Mart make you sign a contract that there will be no punitive damages if you slip and fall on a wet surface?
Since the auditors
have used these clauses for years, why are they still paying out so much in
Why weren't tort lawyers been put out of business years ago?
March 6, 2006 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]
Bob, you asked a good question, and the answer you gave yourself is exactly the answer that I've been given when I asked the same question of my own lawyer.
(Don't go getting the notion that I voluntarily affiliate with lawyers! I don't. But in Virginia, the lawyers have convinced the lawyers who make laws to pass a law requiring that a lawyer be involved in all transfers of real estate. In my various real estate transactions over the past few years, I've come to use one lawyer several times, hence the very-loose term "my lawyer'.)
I was casually asking about the impact that these "binding arbitration in lieu of court action" clauses have on his business. I am seeing these "you can't sue us" clauses in auto purchase contracts, building-contractor contracts, all kinds of stuff. They are very popular nowadays.
My lawyer says that those clauses aren't worth the time it takes to read them. They don't mean a darn thing. He says that the U.S. Constitution, assuming you accept it as a governing manuscript, guarantees citizens a right to petition the courts for redress of grievances, both public and private, and that no private contract can usurp that right. Indeed, the courts can find ANY private contract null and void if they want to.
Hence, a court can (and most likely will) find the "you can't sue us" clause null and void. A tort is a tort, and punitive damages are set by courts, and cannot be eliminated simply because both parties agreed to it, any more than a charge of murder can be avoided by the victim saying "go ahead and shoot me".
He says that contrary to the belief that such clauses will REDUCE the need for lawyers, such clauses actually INCREASE the demand for lawyers. Why?
According to "my" lawyer, if I feel I have grounds to sue, having signed a "I won't sue you" clause in a contract won't have any effect AT ALL on whether I can sue. But it will probably add an additional layer of red tape -- requiring me to first go to an arbiter who ... usually ... is likely to be ... a LAWYER! If I don't like the decision the arbiter dishes out, THEN I can go ahead and sue! So by adding the arbitration requirement, lawyers actually have MORE work to do than they would if people went straight to the court system first.
And even if the arbiter isn't a lawyer, it took lawyers to set up the arbitration process. Plus, as a bonus for the legal profession, adding the arbitration involvement ADDS to the complexity of the case, piling on more "facts" for the lawyer to include in the case, increasing the billable hours and rates that the lawyers can ultimately charge once the case gets to court -- both plaintiff and defense.
Bottom line: my lawyer says I can sign those "you can't sue me" clauses with utter impunity... he'll be happy to represent me any time I want to sue someone even if I've signed those clauses.
And some people have the audacity to wonder why I'm so cynical about lawyers... ;-)
"Stanford Will Establish Center To Study Corporate Governance," by Rebecca Buckman, The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2006; Page B2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114160549262689961.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
Stanford University is setting up a research center to focus on the emerging academic discipline of corporate governance, funded with $10 million from legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist Arthur Rock and his wife.
The new institution at Stanford Law School will be led by law professors Robert Daines and Joseph Grundfest and will study issues such as executive pay, shareholder rights and the state of the auditing industry, the university said. Organizers hope the center will also be more hands-on, interacting with regulators and judges and creating teaching materials for business-school students.
"We don't want to be just an academic center," Mr. Grundfest said in an interview. "We also want to help improve the quality of corporate governance in the real world." He added that Stanford's law school has been active in the area since 1993, when it launched a program called Directors College to help educate corporate-board members.
Mr. Grundfest served as a commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1985 to 1990. He will direct the center with Mr. Daines, a corporate-law scholar who once worked at investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at
"Read 'Em and Laugh My favorite comic novels," by Roger Kimball, The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110008077
1. "Leave It to Psmith" by P.G. Wodehouse (Doran, 1924).
May I begin a survey of superb comic novels by offering the collected works of P.G. Wodehouse--100 volumes, give or take? No? Well, how about "Leave It to Psmith"? Everyone knows about Bertie and Jeeves. Allow me to introduce Rupert Psmith. The "P" is silent, he explains, "as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan." But the comedy is uproarious in this tale of an impecunious though impeccably turned out dandy who impersonates the modern poet Ralston McTodd--a scaly specimen--in order to cadge an invitation to Blandings Castle so that he can pursue the beautiful Eve Halliday. The plot is stuffed with improbable twists, farcical turns, breath-stopping complications and one of the greatest predawn flowerpot-throwing scenes in literature.
2. "Scoop" by Evelyn Waugh (Little, Brown, 1938).
"Scoop" is Waugh's funniest book and the best (and most savage) satire of newspaper journalism in English. William Boot is the retiring author of "Lush Places," a nature column in the Daily Beast, the brash flagship of Lord Copper's gargantuan publishing empire. He is not to be confused with John Courtney Boot, the ambitious novelist eager to get away from London and his girlfriend. A helpful friend, the mesmerizing Mrs. Stitch, invites Lord Copper to a lunch party, wraps him around her little finger and has everyone at the table regale him with the exploits of young Boot, "the Prime Minister's favorite writer." "Get Boot," Lord Copper commands, and his underlings buzz into action, producing the wrong Boot, of course, who is promptly outfitted and sent to the godforsaken African hot spot of Ishmaelia to cover the impending revolution. The rest is farce--or just journalism.
3. "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" by Eric Hodgins (Simon & Schuster, 1946).
\Perhaps you've seen the movie "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (1948), with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant. It's charming, and the scene where Loy instructs the painter about the colors she wants is comic perfection ("match the little rosebud next to the delphinium--not the one near the hollyhock leaf"). But the movie is nothing compared with the novel by Eric Hodgins. If you've ever thought about engaging an architect to fix up that beautifully sited if slightly ramshackle old place you saw in the country one weekend, read this book. You'll laugh till you cry, and you'll think twice about embarking upon an adventure in real estate or house construction.
4. "Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis (Doubleday, 1954).
The academic novel has become a subgenre of its own. There are some very good ones, but the best is also one of the first, Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim." An instant sensation when it was first published, "Lucky Jim" tells the story of Jim Dixon, an anxious young history don at a small, aggressively undistinguished provincial university. Dixon has just managed to produce--but not yet publish--a scholarly article called "The Economic Influence of the Developments in Shipbuilding Techniques, 1450 to 1485." It was, Dixon thought, "a perfect title, in that it crystallised the article's niggling mindlessness, its funeral parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems." You can see why "Lucky Jim" is, even today, regarded as an important source of information about university culture.
5. "The Belles Lettres Papers" by Charles Simmons (Morrow, 1987).
Ostensibly a history of Belles Lettres, "the most powerful literary magazine in the world," this book is in fact a satire of the passions and personalities of the people who run a famous New York weekly book review. Curious readers might like to know that Charles Simmons was formerly an editor at the New York Times Book Review. One of the best characters is Newbold Press, a ghastly and thuggish philistine who is brought in as editor to clean house. He comes a cropper, but not before entertaining us with a stupendous exhibition of stupidity and bad judgment. My only question is whether this splendid book should be filed under fiction or documentary.
Mr. Kimball is co-editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books.
Masting: How Live Oak Trees Outsmart the Squirrels
A very popular tree across the southern U.S. and parts of the West is the Live Oak. The following message from a Trinity University professor may be of some interest.
Around this time of year, such trees are a mess. Before we sold our house in San Antonio, I generally bagged up 20-30 bags of leaves per week in parts of March and April. Once I had 43 bags lined up at the curb.
Here is one of the many links about the Live Oak --- http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Live_oak/liveoak.htm
March 16, 2006 message from Bob Blystone
It is that time of year again. Oak catkins are about to besiege the campus. The word catkin comes from the old Dutch meaning little kitten. The overall structure of the catkin reminded some early botanist of a kitten tail, thus the name.
The Texas live oak is known scientifically by the name of Quercus virginiana or more strictly Quercus fusiformis. It is a member of the Beech family. Quercus is Latin for oak tree. The very hard- wooded live oak lives about 200 years and hits its stride for acorn production at about 75 years of age. A mature tree can produce about 2000 acorns a season. It takes about 10,000 acorns to yield one successful replacement tree.
The live oak is monoecious meaning that it has both male and female flowers. In order not to self-pollinate, the male flower and the female flower appear at slightly different times on the same tree. The male flower also known as a staminate catkin produces pesky pollen. When oak pollen counts pass 200 particles per cubic meter of air, many people develop hay fever. Soon campus windows, car windshields, and nasal membranes will be covered with yellow live oak pollen. Catkins will cover campus sidewalks and slow moving elderly faculty.
Dr. Kelly Lyons, a biology department botanist, tells me that live oak are capable of masting. Masting a process by which the tree stores up nutrients so that it can produce a bumper crop of acorns. By a mechanism not fully understood the tree tries to outsmart the squirrel population by causing a crash in the number of squirrels one year by producing very few acorns so that the next year a bumper crop of acorns has fewer predators eating away at them.
Get your nasal spray and eye drops ready, the live oak catkins are on their way to campus. It is spring time in south central Texas.
How squirrels can save your soul (turn up your speakers) --- http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7777/MSR2.htm
The Farting Chair Conspiracy (now in litigation)
"Ex-teacher sues over noisy chair," CNN, March 22, 2006 --- http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/03/22/britain.chair.ap/index.html
Sue Storer, 48, told an employment tribunal Tuesday she was subjected to sexist and bullying behavior while working as deputy head teacher at Bedminster Down Secondary School in Bristol, southwest England.
Storer said the school failed to replace her chair, which made a "farting" noise whenever anyone sat on it, although other staff received new chairs.
She said the chair was a source of embarrassment, especially at parent-teacher evenings.
She also said male colleagues were favored over her and she was placed under an unfair amount of pressure.
"I had a nervous breakdown because of the ordeal I went through. It's just not fair that people can treat you like that," said Storer, who resigned in September. She said she would never teach again.
She is seeking a ruling that the school's behavior amounted to unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination, as well as compensation for lost earnings. The tribunal is expected to rule within the next two weeks.
Forwarded by Paula
Things I Learned From the Movies
*During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
*All telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555.
*Beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman; but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.
*The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there, and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty
*Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.
*A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
*Kitchens don't have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.
*If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.
*Cars that crash will invariably burst into flames.
*Stripping to the waist can make a man invulnerable to bullets.
*If you find yourself caught up in a misunderstanding that could be cleared up quickly with a simple explanation, for goodness sake, keep your mouth shut.
*Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.
*A cough is usually the sign of a terminal illness.
*All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts, so you know exactly when they're going to go off.
*When in love, it is customary to burst into song.
*When confronted by an evil international terrorist, sarcasm and wisecracks are your best weapons.
*One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them than 20 men firing at 1 man.
*If being fired at by Germans, hide in a river - or even a bath. German bullets are unable to penetrate water.
*Laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of an invading alien civilization.
*Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper clippings - especially if any of their family or friends have died in a strange boating accident. *All computer disks will work in all computers, regardless of software.
*Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are assigned a partner who is their total opposite.
*When they are alone, foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.
*If you are a hero, you never face charges for manslaughter or criminal damage despite laying entire cities to waste by your actions.
*You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.
*Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds - unless it's the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.
*You can tell if somebody is British because he will be wearing a bow tie.
*When driving a car, it is normal to look not at the road but rather at the person sitting beside you or in the back seat for the entire journey. *Taxi drivers don't require exact or even approximate payment - the first bill you pull from your pocket is always correct.
*Having a job of any kind will make a father forget his son's eighth birthday.
*Honest and hard working policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before retirement.
*The more a man and a woman hate each other, the more likely they will fall in love.