Tidbits on March 28, 2006
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Bob Jensen's various threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
(Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.
Internet News (The News Show) --- http://www.thenewsshow.tv/daily/
Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/
25 Hottest Urban Legends (hoaxes) ---
Hoax Busters --- http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/
Stay up on the latest and the oldest hoaxes --- http://www.snopes.com/
Most Popular eBusiness Sites 2006 - 2007 ---
WebbieWorld Picks --- http://www.webbieworld.com/default.asp
Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm
Film Explores Orchestra Players' Calling --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5256792
May You Be Blessed --- http://www.mayyoubeblessedmovie.com/
Funny (and sometimes not so funny) Cats --- http://www.metacafe.com/watch/81866/funny_cats_2/
Pool Playing Prodigy --- http://www.boreme.com/boreme/funny-2006/landon-shuffet-p1.php
Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm
Jeremiah Was a Bull Frog (Have a Cup of Coffee) --- http://www.castlemountains.net/flashmar/A_Cup_Of_Joy.swf
Allan Sherman: Beyond 'Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh' --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5279983
Piano Jazz --- http://www.npr.org/programs/pianojazz/
On 'The Streets of New York' with Willie Nile (a Bob Dylan-like sound) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5258097
From North Korea (by way of NPR)
Musical Tackles Life in North Korean Prison Camp --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5281517
"Archaic Sounds Caress Modern Ears," by Rachel Metz,
Wired News, March 20, 2006 ---
For the time machine recordings go to http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/
A California library has created an online audio time machine by archiving some of the oldest sounds ever recorded.
Curators at the University of California at Santa Barbara's Donald C. Davidson Library have digitized 6,000 late 19th-century and early 20th-century wax and plastic cylinder recordings -- precursors to the flat record. The audio, which includes ragtime hits, vaudeville routines and presidential speeches, encapsulates history with crackles and hisses, but archivists say preserving the sounds now is vital because the cylinders are deteriorating.
"The major record companies have been neglecting this aspect of music for the better part of 90 years," said David Seubert, director of the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project.
Since the site went up in November, audiophiles have downloaded 700,000 recordings, much to Seubert's surprise. The collection excites audio experts and cylinder fans, who now have free access to the works anytime, anywhere. People are burning them onto CDs, using them on internet radio stations and possibly remixing them, he said.
All recordings on the site are in the public domain, Seubert said, and cleaned-up MP3 versions hold a Creative Commons license.
In the cylinder's heyday, people would slip a nickel in an arcade machine to listen to a song, said Mark Ballora, a music technology assistant professor at Penn State University.
"Essentially, we've got one of these arcades again, but it doesn't cost us a nickel as long as we have a computer," he said. "And they probably didn't have 6,000 available in these old arcades; there were probably a few dozen."
But creating quality digital copies of cylinder recordings wasn't possible until recently, said Noah Pollaczek, a UCSB library audio technician. In the past, technicians had to play the cylinders on phonographs, and cylinders running at different speeds each required a different phonograph. Users wound them up, and a needle hit the cylinder's recorded grooves, amplifying the music through a horn. Holding a microphone up to the horn didn't make a high-quality recording.
So a few years ago, French cylinder collector Henri Chamoux invented the Archeophone, which can play cylinders of various sizes and speeds and transfer the sound to a computer through a patch bay.
The Archeophone encodes cylinder music as scratchy-sounding WAV files that users can stream or download as original recordings or cleaned-up MP3 versions.
Peter Dilg collects cylinders and runs Baldwin, New York-based Wizard Record Company, which creates new cylinder recordings. He's thrilled about the project.
"Our American culture is on those records," he said. "Not just our culture, but other cultures. It's the very beginning of home entertainment, as far as music in somebody's living room."
Photographs and Art
From Northwestern University
The Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz --- http://lastexpression.northwestern.edu/
American Art Archives --- http://www.americanartarchives.com/
American Heritage --- http://www.americanheritage.com/
Pat Oliphant won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial
cartooning in 1966
From the Library of Congress --- http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/oliphant/
The Italian Futurist Book --- http://www.colophon.com/gallery/futurism/
The French Revolution --- http://www.people.memphis.edu/~kenichls/1302FrenchRevolution.html
Ellen's Space --- http://www.ellensplace.net/
Stefan Rohner Photographs (with background music) --- http://www.stefan-rohner.net/
Georgia O'Keeffe --- http://www.ellensplace.net/okeeffe1.html
Pavement Drawings --- http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/
Fred Gates' Modern Paintings --- http://www.fredgatesdesign.com/painting/
David Miller's Marine Paintings --- http://www.mauiarts.com/
Jean-Bernard Augier Photographs --- http://www.arts-photo.com/
Chemistry's Periodic Table --- http://www.at94.dial.pipex.com/Periodic/periodic.htm
Abandoned Places Photographs --- http://www.abandoned-places.com/
FreeFoto.com --- http://www.freefoto.com/index.jsp
Techno-Impressionism - Art From the Sea --- http://www.tlc-systems.com/techno/galryshl.htm
The First Impressionist Exhibition, 1874 --- http://www.artchive.com/74nadar.htm
Art Archive --- http://www.artchive.com/
RESOURCES FOR THE STUDY OF ART HISTORY --- http://witcombe.sbc.edu/ARTHLinks4.html
Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm
The Italian Futurist Book --- http://www.colophon.com/gallery/futurism/
Futurism --- http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/f/futurism.html
The EServer Poetry Collection --- http://eserver.org/poetry/
Classic Literature Library --- http://www.classic-literature.co.uk/
The Essays of Francis Bacon --- http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/mike_donnelly/bacon.htm
Emily Dickenson --- http://www.emilydickinson.org/
The University of Illinois Modern American Poetry Site --- http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/index.htm
Galway Kinnell's Modern American Poetry --- http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/kinnell/kinnell.htm
A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) --- Click Here
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) --- Click Here
Into the Wardrobe :a C. S. Lewis web site --- http://cslewis.drzeus.net/
Favorite American Poems --- http://www.americanpoems.com/
Carl Sandburg's Chicago Poems --- http://carl-sandburg.com/
Margaret Ogilvy by James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937), more commonly known as J. M. Barrie --- Click Here
Modern History --- http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/hist/hist.html
RESOURCES FOR THE STUDY OF ART HISTORY --- http://witcombe.sbc.edu/ARTHLinks4.html
Talking History: Aural History Productions (audio) --- http://www.talkinghistory.org/
Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) --- Click Here
Online History Books --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#history
Center for Applied Science Technology ---http://www.cast.org/
Quote World --- http://www.quoteworld.org/
Bob Jensen's links to audio books --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Audio
If he'd just move to suburban New York, Kim Jong-II would be certain to be on Wall Street's boards of directors
North Korean media outlets have previously labelled the North Korean leader as the world's greatest golfer, reporting that he scored five holes-in -one and scored 38-under-par in his first game.
Nich Buchan, "Kim Jong-Il gets jiggy with it," News.com (Australia) , March 11, 2006 --- http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,18400197-13762,00.html
The political transformation in Indonesia in
recent years has been remarkable. Not only have elections been free and
fair, but they have been wholeheartedly embraced. Seventy-seven percent of
eligible voters turned out for the 2004 polls that elected Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono as president -- a figure that would be the envy of many Western
democracies. With a predominantly Muslim population, Indonesia commands the
close attention of the Islamic world, too.
Alexander Downer, "The 18,000-Island Ally, The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2006 --- Click Here
You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked a clear question.
Albert Camus (1913-1960) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus
Only an open conflict of ideas and principles
can produce any clarity.
Christopher Hitchens as quoted in email messages from Richard C. Sansing at Dartmouth
It were not best that we should all think alike;
it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races.
Mark Twain, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"
The vast majority of our imports come from
outside the country.
George W. Bush
If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.
George W. Bush
One word sums up probably the responsibility of
any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.
George W. Bush
I have made good judgments in the past. I have
made good judgments in the future.
George W. Bush
The future will be better tomorrow.
George W. Bush
Buyer's Index --- http://www.buyersindex.com/
Bob Jensen's shopping helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm
Compare book prices --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm#Books
PBS Constant Begging is Becoming Dysfunctional
My local public radio station in Hartford, Conn., WNPR, is no longer content with its normal fundraising periods and has now turned to round-the-clock begging ("As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line," Page One, March 17). They have also increased their sponsorship or underwriting announcements to the point where they rival a commercial station for ads. Aren't eight "announcements" in a two-minute period advertising? I recently wrote them, complaining about their dearth of interesting programming, their incessant begging for funds and the ever-increasing number of ads per hour. I told them that I quit and that they shouldn't expect any more donations from me.
Conbert H. Benneck, "Constant Begging Is a Turnoff," The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2006; Page A17 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114343069928308823.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
It's not clear that Vladimir Putin even read his own thesis
Large parts of an economics thesis written by President Vladimir Putin in the mid-1990s were lifted straight out of a U.S. management textbook published 20 years earlier, The Washington Times reported Saturday, citing researchers at the Brookings Institution. It was unclear, however, whether Putin had even read the thesis, which might have been intended to impress the Western investors who were flooding into St. Petersburg in the mid-1990s, the report said. Putin oversaw the city's foreign economic relations at the time.
"Putin Accused of Plagiarizing Thesis," Moscow Times, March 27, 2006 --- http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/03/27/011.html
What's interesting about this news item is that it was published in Moscow. This would not have happened in the old Soviet Union.
Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism and cheating are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm
Not Your Typical Class Project at USC
"Class Project on Fraud," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 27, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/27/arrest
The University of Southern California has put an instructor in its business school on leave after he was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Friday on charges that he used students — without their knowledge — to defraud them and investors of more than $1.5 million.Barry H. Landreth, the instructor, is being held in jail and could not be reached for comment. His lawyer told California reporters that he hadn’t had time to review the charges and so couldn’t respond to them.
Landreth, who earned a master’s degree in real estate development from the university in 2001, has worked in recent years as a part-time lecturer at Southern Cal’s public policy and business schools. University officials said that they couldn’t comment on the case except to confirm that he had been employed there, and that he was currently on leave, but had been teaching this semester.
But court documents filed by the FBI charge that Landreth used his classes to recruit unwitting assistants for his scheme. According to the FBI documents, Landreth recruited students in his courses to sell investments through a real estate company he ran, which he said had the rights to valuable property in Chicago and Las Vegas.
The students were told that they would be paid for their work and that investments they made would show huge returns. Several of the students invested their own money and family members’ money — sometimes in excess of $100,000 — as well as seeking funds from others.
According to the FBI, some of the students — who are identified only by first names in the court documents — began to suspect that something was wrong when they were not paid and the promised payoffs on their investments and those of their family members were not coming through. The documents portray the students as becoming increasingly concerned about the run-around they were receiving from Landreth and the excuses that didn’t make sense to them.
The charges against Landreth say that he didn’t invest the money he received, but instead spent the funds buying and caring for show horses.
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
No more going to the pub in Scotland for a Scotch and a smoke
Scotland Bans All Smoking in Public Places --- http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=471532006
Sen. Sarbanes Gives On-Target Defense of Sarbanes-Oxley Act --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x52370.xml
The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement --- http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/hamas.htm
The High Tech Enemy
Suddenly last fall, Irhabi 007 disappeared from the message boards. The postings ended after Scotland Yard arrested a 22-year-old West Londoner, Younis Tsouli, suspected of participating in an alleged bomb plot. In November, British authorities brought a range of charges against him related to that plot. Only later, according to our sources familiar with the British probe, was Tsouli's other suspected identity revealed. British investigators eventually confirmed to us that they believe he is Irhabi 007. . . . Irhabi's success stemmed from a combination of skill and timing. In early 2004, he joined the password-protected message forum known as Muntada al-Ansar al-Islami (Islam Supporters Forum) and, soon after, al-Ekhlas (Sincerity) -- two of the password-protected forums with thousands of members that al-Qaeda had been using for military instructions, propaganda and recruitment. (These two forums have since been taken down.) This was around the time that Zarqawi began using the Internet as his primary means of disseminating propaganda for his insurgency in Iraq. Zarqawi needed computer-savvy associates, and Irhabi proved to be a standout among the volunteers, many of whom were based in Europe.
"Terrorist 007, Exposed," Rita Katz and Michael Kern, The Washington Post, March 26, 2006; Page B01 --- Click Here
Where are far more Muslims being killed than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined?
Why don't they care about each other?
"Hobbes in Sudan," The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114298036142404515.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
At places like Davos and Harvard, the world's elite rarely stop fretting about the dangers of a too powerful America. Well, if you want to know what the world looks like without U.S. leadership, Exhibit A is Darfur in Sudan.
Today's leading authority on Darfur is the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who prophesied a world "nasty, brutish and short." At least 200,000 civilians have been killed in the last three years and two million more have become refugees. The source of the problem are the Arab rulers in Khartoum, who have pursued an ethnic cleansing campaign against black Muslims in western Sudan. They've equipped the Janjaweed Arab tribesmen to do the dirty work, and that militia is now attacking civilians across the border in Chad, creating 20,000 more refugees.
To his credit, Kofi Annan started shouting about the problem two years ago, and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell labeled it "genocide" not long after that. The U.N.'s mighty peace-making machinery then started to roll and . . . nothing. The Chinese (who have close commercial ties to Khartoum) and Russians have blocked any serious intervention. Arab members of the Security Council have also opposed any attempt to single out Khartoum.
The Arab League -- so quick to denounce Danish cartoons -- has also stymied any global intervention to stop the murder of their fellow Muslims. Here's League Secretary General Amr Musa earlier this month: "In Sudan, there is a problem related to Darfur. We will listen to the Sudanese state minister to explain to us the developments in the issue of Darfur . . ." The League plans to hold its meeting next week -- in Khartoum.
The African Union has at least sent 7,000 troops to the region, but they are under-funded and under-equipped to enforce a truce that Sudan blatantly flouts. But the African failure is also political. In January the Union held its own summit in Khartoum, and next year it plans to award Sudan with its presidency. The rule seems to be never to say a discouraging word about other African leaders, no matter how murderous.
As for Europe, France would be ideal to lead an intervention force. The French have military bases in neighboring Chad and could establish a no-fly zone to stop Janjaweed bombing. However, Paris is already occupied with another intervention in the Ivory Coast, and with its own business interests in Sudan isn't volunteering in any case.
Amid this global abdication, Mr. Annan finally decided last month to call in the American cavalry. He visited the White House and, amid media fanfare, all but begged President George W. Bush to do something. Despite U.S. obligations in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other places, Mr. Bush responded by proposing an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force under "NATO stewardship."
But Sudan President Omar al-Beshir quickly played to type and withdrew support for a U.N. force. He also threatened that "Darfur will become the graveyard for the United Nations and foreign intervention." And rather than stand up to such threats, the U.N. envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk has wilted. He's now talking up intelligence about al Qaeda terrorists in Khartoum who could retaliate against U.N. peacekeepers. And he's warning against any NATO intervention without Security Council approval -- as if that would be forthcoming. All of this is a repeat of the same feckless U.N. pattern we've seen in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
So that leaves ... guess who? The cowboy President, the American hegemonists, the Yankee imperialists -- or, to put it another way, the only nation with the will and wallet to provide order in an otherwise Hobbesian world. However, that will and wallet are being stretched today in Iraq and elsewhere, and Mr. Bush is rightly wary of committing more American blood and treasure to a conflict in Sudan that the rest of the world doesn't seem serious about ending in any event. One lesson of Darfur is that there really are limits on American power, and in its absence the world's savages have freer reign.
Algeria admits killing 17,000 Islamists
The Algerian government said its forces killed 17,000 Islamist rebels during the conflict of the 1990s, the first time it had issued a figure for anti-government casualties for the decade . . . The North African country was plunged into conflict when the authorities cancelled a legislative election that a now-banned Islamic party was poised to win in 1992.
"Algeria admits killing 17,000 Islamists," Al Jazeera, March 22, 2006 --- Click Here
That Education Premium
"Getting Into Harvard Two cheers for American higher education," The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2006 --- . http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/hottopic/?id=110008145
By contrast, U.S. higher education is open to everyone who earns a high school diploma. More than 60% of graduating high school seniors go directly to college, according to the U.S. Census, and many more go after working for a time. Some 37% of college students are age 25 or older, usually attending school part-time. Those who don't enroll in a four-year institution can attend the many first-rate community colleges, which do so much to make up for the sorry state of K-12 public schools.
This rush to college is surely related to the astonishing returns our society puts on higher education. (See the nearby table.) A worker with a college degree earns almost twice as much as someone with a high school diploma; add an advanced degree and the gap is wider. Census data also show that college graduates tend to live longer, healthier lives.
Stay in School
Average income by education level
Some high school $18,734 High school diploma $27,915 College degree $51,206 Advanced degree $74,602
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
This education premium is also the reason parents and students are willing to spend or borrow huge sums for college degrees. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average cost of tuition, room and board at a four-year private college is $31,051, and $10,660 at a public university. New York University--voted the nation's "dream college" in one poll of teens--charges $43,000. Harvard costs a mere $38,000.
The reason for this college price inflation is a separate subject, related in part to government subsidies. But--amazing to those who don't grasp how the U.S. system works--college remains within the reach of the poor and middle class. Elite schools pride themselves on being able to provide financial aid to every student who can't afford to pay. Less well-endowed private colleges have scholarships, not to mention the grants handed out every year by business and charities. The College Board's Web site provides information on $2.8 billion in scholarships and awards.
Continued in article
How can you delete the files on your computer so that nobody can retrieve them?
Note that deleting them with Windows Explorer will not prevent techies from recovering them even if you've emptied your Recycle Bin.
"College Admissions: Is Gate Open or Closed?" The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2006; Page A7 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114325217757108174.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Increasing population: Total college enrollment in all degree-granting institutions has increased by 26% to an estimated 17 million in 2005 from 1990. The Department of Education expects that number to increase to about 19 million by 2010. Roughly seven in 10 colleges and universities report that the number of applications increased from the previous year, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
Acceptance rates at some top schools are decreasing. The University of California, Los Angeles, received 47,234 applications for the fall of 2006 -- a 12% increase from the number of applications submitted last year. In 2005, about 27% of applicants got in, down from 29% in 1999.
Admissions officers and high-school counselors say that even some schools once considered "safe" -- where admission was all but guaranteed -- may now be "reach" schools, where admission for some will be a long shot. The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, received 24,000 freshman applications for the fall of 2006, a 22% jump from last year.
Hyper-competition: Students themselves are raising the bar, too. In 2005, the average math and verbal SAT score of college-bound seniors was 1028 out of a total 1600, compared with 1010 in 1995, in part because students are increasingly focusing on math in high school, according to the College Board. Grade-point averages are off the charts. At the University of California, Berkeley, the average GPA of incoming freshman is 3.93. Admissions officers say it is not uncommon to see students with a 4.5 or higher GPA, with advanced-placement courses boosting averages above the technical limit of 4.0.
The admissions process: The National Association for College Admission Counseling says the top factors in the admissions process, in order, are the same as ever: grades in college-preparatory courses, standardized admission tests and GPA. Fourth and fifth are class rankings and application essays.
Many admissions committees say they are shifting away from emphasizing grades to what is sometimes called a comprehensive, or holistic, review, an evaluation process that looks at character and world experience. That has more students jaunting off to far-flung corners of the world to volunteer in orphanages or dig wells in rural villages.
Not all admissions committees are swayed, though. Ted O'Neill, dean of admissions at the University of Chicago, says "we pay almost no attention to that" unless the program is bestowed with a significant honor.
A billion and a quarter dollars every day and accountants gave up on auditing the books
"Technology and the Future of Warfare: Author and Pentagon advisor John Arquilla believes that today's big weapon systems are wrong for modern battle," by Mark Williams, MIT's Technology Review, March 23, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16620,295,p1.html
In 2007, the Pentagon's budget will exceed the combined military spending of every other country in the world. In round numbers, according to the U.S. Department of Defense's own Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), published this past February, the American military will spend more than $440 billion next year, supplemented with another $120 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It would be more reassuring, then, if the Pentagon's four-year plan for how its strategic priorities and force structure align with its budget made for less schizophrenic reading.
On the one hand, as the QDR lucidly explains, the threats confronting U.S. forces today are asymmetric: catastrophic attacks by small groups, insurgencies by enemies of U.S. allies, and so on. This argues for the "transformation" of America's military, away from industrial-era U.S. forces that depend on "big platform" weapons systems such as aircraft carriers and tank regiments, which took half a year to mass in the field for operations like the Gulf War [in 1991]. Instead, the QDR counsels that the new military should be networked, lean, and nimble, using special operations and robotics for rapid global response.
On the other hand, the 92-page document calls for $84 billion of weapons spending -- mostly for items like the F-22 and F-35 fighters, DD(X) and LCS warships, and the CVN-21, the Navy's next-generation supercarrier, which will start construction in 2007 and be bigger than today's Nimitz-class carriers. Thus, despite a 15 percent increase in Special Forces and investments in new systems such as drone aircraft, overall, the Pentagon continues to embrace military gigantism.
Yet what if the Pentagon's big platforms weren't merely the wrong weapon systems to fight present and future wars, but actually likely to bring defeat? John Arquilla, one of the military intellectuals who created and promoted the concept of "transformation" for the U.S. military, believes that may be the case. Arquilla teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and is a RAND consultant and a Pentagon advisor. His publications include Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, In Athena's Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age and the forthcoming The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror.
Technology Review: During 1976-1990 -- when Reagan pushed the U.S.S.R. into an arms spending race that helped to trigger its downfall -- budget authorization for U.S. defense averaged $337 billion annually and outlays averaged $316 billion. Today's military spending is outpacing that. Besides being economically unsustainable, why do you think it's wrong to let the Pentagon maintain the industrial-era "big platform" policy alongside the new tech?
John Arquilla: It's an interesting question as to whether we spent the Soviets into oblivion or ourselves into senselessness. What Reagan was really trying to do with all the military spending was to create a fence between conventional and nuclear war. Every year NATO exercises ended with the American commander calling for the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which appalled Reagan. So he said, "What do you need in order not to do that?" The military said, "Tens of billions more dollars every year." Reagan said, "Fine, whatever it takes." Consequently, the military got used to an enormous baseline for spending, enabling it to forego hard choices about what our technology strategy should be.
More broadly, our military today oversees spending of about a billion and a quarter dollars every day. Most of that is misspent. Over this past quarter-century, we've reinforced an old industrial-policy military with hardware that makes increasingly less sense, spending most on things that provide the least return. The principal argument for that is: "We have to keep the big, old-style military because we might fight a big, old-style war one day." But in the future the bigger you are, the harder you're going to fall to ever-more accurate weapons. Creating a mass army to deal with an old-style mass army is simply to put hundreds of thousands of our troops in harm's way needlessly.
Continued in article
"Pentagon Bookkeeping Stops Auditors,"
AccountingWeb, February 20, 2006 ---
The Department of Defense (DOD) has failed its audit to the extent that auditors have stopped wasting money trying to audit their books, according to Black Enterprise. Problems with the Pentagon books has allowed the DOD to pay troops, civilian workers, and contractors the wrong amounts; to lose track of equipment, such as planes and tanks; and to document trillions of dollars in transactions improperly, according to Black Enterprise. Gregory D. Kutz, managing director of the General Accounting Office (GAO), told Congress last summer that these accounting problems would cost taxpayers $13 billion in 2005. The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.
The “clean audit” of DOD books scheduled for 2007 is not in sight, according to Black Enterprise. The DOD has received a “clean opinion” on only 16 percent of its assets and 49 percent of its liabilities as of June 2005, according to Thomas B. Modly, deputy undersecretary of defense for financial management. Black Enterprise reported that Modly said the DOD hopes to settle their balance sheet on 47 percent of assets and 49 percent of liabilities by 2007. It might help to understand the problem by understanding the size of Pentagon operations. Black Enterprise reports it had in fiscal year 2005:
- $1.3 trillion in assets
- $1.9 trillion in liabilities
- 3 million in personnel
- $635 billion in operational costs
- 2,569 facilities in the country and 807 outside of the United States
One of the other problems cited is that DOD has about 5.2 million items in its inventory, according to Modly. Wal-Mart only has 11,000 and Home Depot only has 50,000 inventory items, according to Black Enterprise. Another problem is the gridlock of some 4,150 different business operations, including 713 different human resources systems.
Jack Minnery, a Defense Finance and Accounting Service accountant, told Black Enterprise, “The Pentagon wasn’t in the business of making money, so they never needed an income statement. They expensed their assets like planes and buildings and such. They dished money out, and they never kept track of what they owned.” Minnery continued, “That’s one of the main reasons I don’t believe they’ll ever have a clean [audit].” Minnery complained about missing money in 2002 to earn his label as a whistle-blower.
Minnery told Black Enterprise, “Their systems can’t keep track of who they’ve sold stuff to, who owes them, who they owe.” Concerning the inter-service gaggle of ordering codes, Minnery said, “The Navy has a set of [codes], the Army has a set, the Air Force has a set. They don’t have the same number of digits, and they don’t match each other.”
In 1990, the GAO started assigning some government agencies to a “high risk” list. DOD’s supply chain and weapon systems acquisitions have remained on this list since that time and six other defense divisions made the list in 2005. Danielle Brian, executive director of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, told Black Enterprise, “Nothing’s gotten better. It keeps getting worse.” Knoxstudio.com reports that Jeffrey Steinhoff, GAO’s managing director for financial management and assurance, said, “They’re not close to the finish line. They have a long way to go.”
Untangling the mess has seemed elusive except “by making the business process support the war-fighter more effectively, we are seeing a significant amount of momentum,” according to Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense for business transformation. Effective might be an overly optimistic opinion as Black Enterprise reports that the government spent $179 million on two automation systems meant to resolve disbursement problems that failed, according to the GAO.
Winslow T. Wheeler, director of a military reform project at the Center for Defense Information (CDI), told Black Enterprise, “We don’t know how badly managed it is. It’s not that DOD flunks audits, it’s that DOD’s books cannot be audited. DOD aspires for the position where it flunks an audit. If this were a public company, it would have gone belly up before World War II.” CDI is an independent monitor of the military.
In more wasteful news, Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told Political Gateway that $8.8 billion is unaccounted for due to inadequate oversight from Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that “was relatively nonexistent.” Bowen is in charge of tracing the funds.
Frank Willis, the former number two official at the CPA transportation ministry, told Political Gateway that the CPA kept billions in cash to pay for its projects because Iraq is without the financial infrastructure that would support the use of checks or money orders. Willis said, “I would describe (the accounting system) as nonexistent.” Willis told a CBS interviewer, “Fresh, new, crisp, unspent, just-printed 100-dollar bills. It was the Wild West.”
In other wasteful news, the GAO has released a report finding that the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts over two and a half years, according to the California Chronicle. Congressman Henry A. Waxman, (D-Calif.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), and Congressmen George Miller, (D-Calif.), and Elijah E. Cummings, (D-Md.), with other senior Democrats, released the report.
More bad news is continued at http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101798
Find an NPR radio station (and forthcoming programs) near
where you live ---
Police were a leg up on this one: But something looks fishy
"Fishnet Hosiery Does in Robbery Suspect," The New York Times, March 21, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Pantyhose-Arrest.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
A man's pantyhose led to his arrest, authorities said. An unshaven man wearing a black evening gown, fishnet stockings, calf-high boots and a black wig robbed a USA Gas station Monday morning, authorities alleged.
The armed man stuffed $290 in cash into an ensemble-matching black purse.
''I've been with the department for 22 years, and this is the first time I've heard of this happening anywhere here,'' police Lt. Phil Penko said.
About 35 minutes after the robbery, police Officer Chad Ventimiglia spotted a black Saab with fishnet pantyhose hanging from the front driver's side door, dragging on the ground, investigators said.
The car was pulled over and Michael Leslie Clouse, 26, was arrested and booked for investigation of armed robbery.
A plastic replica handgun allegedly was found inside his purse, Penko said.
In the U.S. we have fake women robbing banks. In Canada their are
fake kids in carpool lanes.
In fact, cops had expected to see similar scams turn up as soon as the popular HOV lanes -- which give commuters on sections of Hwys. 404 and 403 a swifter ride downtown -- opened last fall.
Jonathon Jenkins, "Fake baby, real fine: Woman nabbed in HOV lane with phony kid in car." Toronto Sun, March 23, 2006 --- http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/WeirdNews/2006/03/23/1501733-sun.html
I received the following request on March 22, 2006
When you have time I would like to get your opinion of the advantages of paying off ones mortgage loan vs. keeping it as a tax deduction?
Bob Jensen's reply on March 22, 2006
This is difficult to answer without knowing a lot more about your life.
There is pretty good personal finance advice at http://money.howstuffworks.com/financial-planni-channel.htm
In particular note mortgage page at http://money.howstuffworks.com/mortgage.htm
The following if my personal off-the-wall advice that certainly does not apply to all circumstances in life.
In general, for people who expect to stay in one community for a relatively long time, I recommend getting the largest mortgage you can afford for a long time frame such as a 30-year mortgage. The tax shield from mortgage interest payments is enormous. And interest rates are more likely to creep up than down such that you end up with a relatively low rate of interest in future years.
A large mortgage is also forced savings for people inclined to spend money that’s “left over” from their paychecks. Using more of this money to pay off a home is tantamount to forcing yourself to consume less and save more. Getting a larger mortgage allows you to buy a more expensive house and then forces you to make the payments to pay it off. In the end you have a more valuable house investment than if you had purchased a cheaper house with a smaller mortgage. In general people do not save enough for retirement, so forced savings are a good idea.
My philosophy is to buy an expensive house and a cheap car. Nobody makes money on cars. Most people make money on houses as long as they own them for a relatively long period of time. Use care, however, when choosing a location and type of home. Condos and garden homes tend to be worse investments than full houses in desirable parts of town such as being close to a university or a medical center. Gated neighborhoods generally add a lot of resale value to houses. I think I would buy into a gated community if I bought a house in San Antonio these days. In rural New Hampshire there are no gated neighborhoods.
If interest rates decline substantially it’s a good idea to consider refinancing at a lower market rate. But refinancing charges tend to be a rip-off that you should avoid paying unless the drop in interest rates is substantial.
Generally paying off a mortgage before it matures is not a good idea due to having to pay more income taxes unless you have other tremendous tax shields.
After the time remaining on a mortgage gets very short (say five years left on a 30-year mortgage) it often does not matter much whether you pay it off or not. The interest portion of your payments becomes so small that the tax advantages wane.
If you only have a few years left on your mortgage, I would consider refinancing for a tax advantage as long as interest rates remain relatively low as they are right now. You have to make calculations regarding those rip-off refinancing charges, but for somebody your age, the present value of the tax shield often is much larger than the refinancing costs.
You must keep in mind that I hate to pay any more income tax than necessary. Hence I have a preference for that mortgage interest tax shield. Remember that a wise woman has lots of house and a reliable but cheap car (never a new car or truck).
Of course all of this ignores your liquidity preferences. If your income is expected to decline substantially (e.g., when one spouse has to quit working), perhaps it is a good idea to pay off the mortgage that places an undue burden on a reduced monthly income. Also if one spouse quits working, you may end up in a lower tax bracket such that the tax advantages of a mortgage interest are reduced.
Being conservative, I like to consider what you would do with the savings that remain if you do not pay off your mortgage. For example, suppose you have $100,000 in CDs that you could use to pay off a $100,000 mortgage. If you keep the mortgage and then consume the savings on a new luxury car and trips to Europe, then I suggest you instead pay off your mortgage. If you invest the savings wisely (I’m not the one to tell you how to invest your savings), then I would not pay off the mortgage.
My final bit of advice is to become your own money manager. I tend to discourage people from getting personal finance advisors. The commissions paid generally are too high relative to the value of the advice. There is much advice available for free. And there is a lot of fraud in the investment advisor industry. One common type of fraud is a kick back received for advising you to invest in a relatively bad investment alternative.
Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#Finance
How can you tune into Internet radio (and thereby avoid most commercials) without a computer?
You can find Internet (streaming) radio search guides at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm
(I think satellite radio is better, although Internet radio is free)
"Tuning In to Internet Radio Without a Computer: Built-In Speakers Eliminate Intimidating Extra Step; 'Back' Button Needs Work," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boheret, The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2006; Page D5 --- Click Here
Internet radio is very cool. It allows you to listen to both traditional radio stations from all over the globe, as streamed through Web sites, and to stations that exist only on the Net. The variety of music and talk these stations offer is staggering, but there's a problem: To listen to them, you have to be sitting in front of a computer.
Many folks would rather listen to Internet radio in rooms where their computers don't live, or where they'd rather not lug a laptop. To do so today, you have to buy a device that transmits music from a computer to remote speakers. These include the Squeezebox from Slim Devices Inc., Netgear's MP101 Wireless Digital Music Player and Roku's SoundBridge M1000.
None of these devices includes its own built-in speakers. You have to attach them to your audio system, and some require you to manage software on the computer that allows them to work over your network, a tricky process.
But, this week, we tested a new Internet radio product that's totally self-contained and requires almost no setup. It doesn't depend on a computer to bring in Internet radio, but does the job itself, wirelessly connecting to your broadband service, just like a computer does. And it doesn't require an external audio system. It has its own built-in subwoofer and speakers, just like a traditional radio. It even looks like a traditional radio, but it does much more.
This new product is called the SoundBridge Radio, and comes from Roku LLC. It's due to hit store shelves in a few weeks at around $400, which includes a remote control.
By including speakers, Roku eliminates the intimidating extra step of fiddling with wires to attach the device to a separate sound system. With its own sound system, the SoundBridge Radio can also function as an alarm clock, and it can receive your local AM and FM stations over the air, in addition to Internet radio.
And, even though it doesn't require a computer for radio, the SoundBridge can pull music off your computers wirelessly and play it. It can even play music stored on a SecureDigital memory card.
We rocked out all week, listening to all different types of radio stations, and concluded that the SoundBridge Radio is a decent product, but its user interface could stand some improvement.
In addition to playing roughly 100 preprogrammed Internet radio stations, the SoundBridge Radio also detects and plays music from all libraries within range of your wireless network -- without having to install any special software on your Windows or Mac computer. These libraries can include content running on Apple's iTunes, Real Networks' Rhapsody, Windows Media Connect and Windows Media 10, as well as services like MusicMatch, Napster, MSN Music and Walmart.com.
To add your own Internet radio stations onto the SoundBridge Radio, you must use a convoluted method involving iTunes. This summer, Roku plans to upgrade its software so as to include many more preprogrammed stations on each device.
The SoundBridge Radio is black and measures 11 inches wide, 6 inches high and 6½ inches deep. Two speakers are built into its front panel, and a subwoofer is built into its rear. A horizontal display with blue-green lettering runs across the front panel, and 13 buttons are built into the top ledge, including a hard-to-miss sleep button and six numbered preset buttons. A headphone jack and SD card slot are positioned on the player's right side.
We had no trouble setting up the SoundBridge Radio. We plugged it in, and its display screen immediately came to life, asking us a few simple questions, which we answered by pressing the Select button on an included remote. After a few seconds of waiting, we were on our way.
Continued in article
It may be more satisfying to simply subscribe for commercial free satellite radio. This requires placing a tiny receiver outside your home or car (not a satellite dish).
"How Satellite Radio Works ," by Kevin Bonsor, How Stuff Works
Penn's Free Education Extends Into the Middle Class
The University of Pennsylvania announced Thursday that it would pay for tuition, room and board for all students from families with incomes of up to $50,000. In topping similar aid commitments from wealthier universities, Penn may set off competition among leading institutions that could benefit low-income students and might attract more of them to enroll at institutions they may have considered too expensive in the past . . . Penn is increasing its aid budget by more than $6 million for next year to pay for the shift, which comes a week after Stanford University announced a plan to cover costs for families earning up to $45,000, the same level announced a year ago by Yale University (although some students there may need to do some borrowing).
Scott Jaschik, "Upping the Ante," Inside Higher Ed, March 24, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/24/aid
Capitalism? Competition is not flying high
Which brings us to Virgin America, a start-up carrier seeking approval from both the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration. The new company is the latest brainstorm of United Kingdom mogul Richard Branson, who wants to start a low-cost carrier in the mold of Jet Blue. Aside from the Virgin brand, the new company has nothing to do with Mr. Branson's better known British airline, Virgin Atlantic. That hasn't stopped U.S. airlines from trying to torpedo the application (and avoid more competition) on the basis of a few antiquated laws. Since the 1920s and '30s, the U.S. has limited foreign ownership in domestic airlines to a maximum of 49%, and 25% of voting rights. The rules date to the days when lawmakers considered U.S. ownership of any air fleet to be vital to national security -- an argument that has become increasingly absurd given today's self-sufficient, high-tech military. Only last year the Transportation Department proposed new rules relaxing the ownership requirements.
"Not So Virgin Territory," The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2006; Page A8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114204235255395568.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
Painting credit unions as a "major threat to
banks" vastly overstates the national case ("Branching
Out: Bankers Struggle to Contain Growth of Credit Unions,"
page one, March 7). Credit unions compete with banks closely in many
markets, but their share of the depository-institutions market has
stayed steady at about 6% for the past 20 years.
"Banks', Credit Unions' Competition Overstated," The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2006; Page A9 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114204433088995604.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
Bound to Fail
We need to get serious about creating universities that are actually designed to educate undergraduates successfully
"The Wrong Conversation," by Kevin Carey, Inside Higher Ed, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/03/16/carey
The numbers are stark: Only 37 percent of college students graduate in four years, less than two-thirds finish in six. For low-income and minority students, graduation rates are even worse. This is happening at the worst possible moment in history — the market for unskilled labor has already gone global and higher-skill jobs aren’t far behind. We aren’t going to be bigger or cheaper than our Chinese and Indian competitors in the 21st century; our only option is to be smarter. Yet we’re squandering the aspirations and talent of hundreds of thousands of college students every year.
Clearly, major changes are needed.
We can start by restructuring high schools, which continue to act as if most students don’t go to college when in fact most of them do. Two-thirds of high school graduates enter postsecondary education soon after graduation, and more than 80 percent matriculate by their mid-20s. But many arrive unaware that their high school diploma doesn’t mean they’re ready for college work. Far from it. More than 25 percent of college freshmen have to take remedial courses in basic reading, writing, or math — victims of high schools that systematically fail to enroll many of their college-bound students in college-prep classes.
It’s true that many students arrive in high school behind academically, but high schools need to buckle down and prepare them for college anyway because that’s where they’re going, ready or not. College-prep curricula should be the norm unless students and parents decide otherwise.
We also need to make college more affordable for first-generation college students at the greatest risk of dropping out. We’ve been losing ground here in recent years — federal Pell Grants pay a far smaller portion of college costs than they once did, while states and institutions are shifting many of their student-aid dollars to so-called “merit” programs that mostly benefit middle-and upper-income families. Meanwhile, the ongoing erosion of state funding for public colleges and universities, combined with the unwillingness of those institutions to look hard at becoming more efficient, has produced huge increases in tuition.
As a result, low-income college students have an unpleasant choice: Take out massive student loans that greatly limit their options after graduation, or work full-time while they’re in school, and thereby greatly decrease their odds of graduating. In addition to a renewed federal commitment to college affordability, state lawmakers should resist the urge to pour vast amounts of money into need-blind merit aid programs. And institutions should think twice before taking the advice of for-profit “enrollment management” consultants who counsel reducing aid to the low-income students who need it most.
We need to get serious about creating universities that are actually designed to educate undergraduates successfully. Many institutions are far too concerned with status, research, athletics, fundraising — almost everything except the quality of undergraduate education. Yet research has shown that those institutions that truly focus on high-quality instruction, combined with guidance and support in the critical freshmen year, have much higher graduation rates than their peers. Our colleges need to be held more accountable for the things that matter most: teaching their students well and helping as many as possible earn a degree.
The education secretary’s commission appears poised to put higher education accountability squarely on the national agenda. That’s a good thing. But the panel’s proposal shouldn’t focus on a No Child Left Behind-style top-down system based exclusively on standardized tests, government-defined performance goals, and mandated interventions. Rather, the panel should pursue accountability through transparency, mandating a major expansion of the performance data universities are required to create and report to students, parents, and the public at large.
Finally, the media should look beyond their own lives and aspirations when they shape the public perception of higher education and the admissions process. Caught up in the same status competition they help perpetuate, many simply don’t realize how many college students arrive unprepared, struggle financially, and never finish a degree. For the vast majority of students, and for the nation as a whole, the stakes are far higher than who gets into which Ivy League institution.
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Many scientists are calling the present global warming trend "man made"
"Grappling With Climate Change," Mark Anderson, Wired News, March 15, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,70405-0.html?tw=wn_index_11
The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that unchecked growth in fossil fuel use throughout the next half-century will produce a global climate catastrophe.
To get a handle on the crisis -- and our options -- Wired News spoke with the authors of three new, comprehensive books on global climate change.
Continued in article
"The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change," by Naomi Oreskes, Science Magazine, December 3, 2004 --- http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research --- http://www.scar.org
A huge European project to capture greenhouse
gases and store them underground is to be piloted this week aiming to
slash Europe's output of harmful carbon dioxide by 10%.
"EU aims to 'bury' carbon dioxide issue," Al Jazeera, March 14, 2006 --- Click Here
Other scientists are Questioning the "man made" part
Mediaeval Warm Period: A Previous Period of Global Warming
"In vino veritas," by John Brignell, Number Watch, March 3, 2006 --- http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2006 March.htm
One of the phenomena that accompany the warm-up before an IPCC launch is that sceptics come under attack in various forums. Number Watch, for example, comes in for a bit of stick in this discussion. Although adequate references were given, it is blithely stated that the ten facts about global warming are either untrue or made up. It would take a whole book to refute this claim, so let us have a look at the first “fact”. Oddly enough, the critics did not question the failure to specify a temperature scale. This “fact” was a deliberate understatement. Not only is there a great deal of scientific evidence for the Mediaeval Warm Period, there are thousands of historical documents that attest to a kind climate. Take just one book that happens to be on the shelves of your bending author. It is The History of the Wine Trade in England by A L Simon, 1906. A large scholarly work, it has copious footnotes in Latin and mediaeval French and English. It might sound dull, but it tells you more about many of the monarchs and their agents than most popular history books. Here is wisdom, corruption, evil, incompetence, benevolence and all the other attributes of all-powerful leaders that so affected ordinary life and welfare.
"Russian Scientist (from the
Russian Academy of Sciences) Blames Global Warming on 1908 Tunguska
Science Blog --- Click Here
A new theory to explain global warming was revealed at a meeting at the University of Leicester (UK) and is being considered for publication in the journal "Science First Hand". The controversial theory has nothing to do with burning fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. According to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the last hundred years or so could be due to atmospheric changes that are not connected to human emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of natural gas and oil. Shaidurov explained how changes in the amount of ice crystals at high altitude could damage the layer of thin, high altitude clouds found in the mesophere that reduce the amount of warming solar radiation reaching the earth's surface.
Canadian Scientist Blames high-energy rays from distant parts of space smashing into atmosphere
A prominent Canadian scientist has defied the conventional wisdom on global warming by proposing stars, not greenhouse gases, as the primary catalyst for climate change. University of Ottawa science professor Jan Veizer says high-energy cosmic rays, originating from stars across the expanse of space, are hitting Earth's atmosphere in ways that cause the planet to cycle through warm and cold periods.
"Global warming? It's in the stars, says scientist: Blames high-energy rays from distant parts of space smashing into atmosphere," WorldNetDaily, March 18, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49329
"Are You a Global Warming Skeptic? Part II," by George Musser, Scientific American, March 17, 2006 --- Click Here
I've organized the comments into categories. Obviously there is some overlap among them.
Warming may not actually be occurring. Most respondents seemed to agree that the global average temperature is rising, but some did not. Their doubts hinged mostly on the reliability of temperature and CO2 reconstructions.
This past winter was so cold. Where's the warming? The hockey-stick graph, which suggests the present warming trend is historically anomalous, is flawed. One respondent said it "has been proven false by many papers." Others worried that, at least, it downplays the natural variability in climate. The ice core data, one of the ways used to reconstruct past climate conditions, are dubious. They may not represent the global paleoclimate because they sample only a few locations; they appear to contradict the paleobotanic (leaf stomata) data; and they cannot be meaningfully compared with modern surface temperature readings, because they are distinct data sets. Ground temperature readings are subject to systematic errors such as the urban heat island effect. One respondent went further and complained that the Climatic Research Unit raw temperature data are "kept under wraps," so outside observers cannot verify that selection effects were properly accounted for. Ground temperature readings contradict satellite measurements. Reports of changes in polar climate are anecdotal and could be localized effects.
The present warming could be a natural uptick. Respondents pointed out that climate conditions fluctuate because of volcanism, the obliquity cycle, changes in solar output, and internal (chaotic) variability. Why, they asked, do climate scientists attribute all pre-industrial fluctuations to such natural causes and all industrial-age ones to anthropogenic ones? One respondent put it this way: "Every time I read that we have had 'the hottest summer in 100 years' I wonder what caused that hot summer 100 years ago."
It could be a rebound from the Little Ice Age or indeed the last Pleistocene glaciation. It correlates "nearly perfectly" with solar output. It could be explained by variations in cloud cover, which alter how much sunlight the planet absorbs. The cloud cover could, in turn, be explained by variations in cosmic ray flux, modulated by solar magnetic cycles. It could be explained by decreases in Earth's magnetic field strength. It could be explained by natural methane sources, ranging from termites to the recently discovered aerobic processes in plants. It could be partly anthropogenic, but the natural variability is larger. A number of respondents argued that it is hubris to suggest that humanity could have such a large effect on the planet. "Many people seem to have a very exaggerated view of how significant we---and our activities---are," one wrote.
CO2 emissions cannot explain the warming. This is complementary to the previous item on natural causes, but I broke it out because respondents offered such a variety of hypotheses for why CO2 cannot cause warming.
Negative feedbacks stabilize the climate system against the direct effect of added CO2. One respondent wrote: "The Earth's ecosystem is far too robust to be affected by this minor change [in CO2 levels over the past century]." If CO2 drove climate, changes in gas levels should be followed by changes in temperature. Yet paleoclimate data show the opposite: temperature changes first, then the gas levels. In modern times, temperature and CO2 have been only weakly correlated. For instance, there have been long periods of declining temperatures even as CO2 levels have risen. Climate scientists attribute this to masking by aerosol cooling, but their explanation struck many respondents as ad hoc. Also, most human emissions came after 1950, yet the rise in temperature started earlier. High CO2 levels earlier in geologic history (for example, during the late Ordovician) did not correlate with high temperatures. CO2 is a pittance compared to water vapor. By one estimate, it can cause only 0.2% to 0.3% of the warming. The greenhouse effect has "saturated"---further CO2 input does not increase it. No one has done lab experiments to study CO2 absorption. If CO2 causes warming, then the warmed air should rise, reducing air pressure at the surface. That is not observed. The correspondent who raised this objection cited Marcel Leroux's "Mobile Polar Highs" theory. Although CO2 may be a factor, rising levels of this gas are due not to emissions but to reduced uptake by the oceans (perhaps caused by a diminished phytoplankton population).
Climate models are unconvincing. In this category, I put the argument that, whatever the inherent plausibility of anthropogenic global warming, climate scientists have yet to present a solid case. The concerns here revolve around the inability of models to capture the complexity of the climate system.
The correlation of CO2 levels with temperature is not causation. Weather forecasting is so unreliable. How could long-term climate forecasting be any better? The range of model predictions is wide, casting doubt on their reliability. Models can't even predict El Nino. Models can't even explain past data. One respondent wrote: "Claiming the models can predict climate is either wishful thinking, ignorance or deceit." Others were more circumspect. One of the few respondents to say what could change their minds wrote: "I'd like to see environmental data from the 1970s fed into today's climate models and the 'predictions' match what actually happened." Another asked whether models can explain climate over geologic time. Models are not proof. They can be used to prove anything. Being non-falsifiable, they are not really science. The burden of proof rests with those claiming anthropogenic warming. Because mitigating climate change would entail huge costs, and because past warming episodes have been natural, it is up to climate scientists to dispel all reasonable doubts---not to climate skeptics to prove them wrong.
Warming is a good thing, so we shouldn't try to stop it. The arguments here varied from specific benefits of warming to general reassurances that Earth and its inhabitants have done just fine in earlier periods of warming.
It will increase humidity in tropical deserts and improve the lot of high-latitude regions. Higher CO2 levels encourage plant growth, and that's good. Sea level will rise gradually enough that we can readily adapt. The example the respondent gave was beachfront property. Its value will gradually decline as sea levels gradually rise, encouraging a move farther inland over the usual cycle of property investment. Historically, humanity has done better during periods of warmer climate. For most of its history, Earth has been warmer than today. The idea is that global warming is nothing to fear because it merely takes us back to a more natural set of conditions. Animals and plants seemed to do just fine in those periods of warm climate. One respondent wrote: "Our present chilly climate is the aberration when judged on a geological time scale." Over geologic time, the global mean temperature is 22 degrees C, versus today's 15.5 degrees C. It staves off the next glaciation, which we're due for. Claims that global warming has worsened storm damage, or will do so, are overblown. If storm damage seems to have increased, it is simply because more people live in storm-prone regions and their plight is more widely publicized than before. Attempts to stop global warming would do more damage they than avert. Warming might be bad, but it is better than the alternative, be it Kyoto or some other mitigation strategy. The underlying assumption here is that the null strategy---letting the economy adopt non-carbon energy sources as commodity prices dictate, without any explicit reference to global warming---carries the least costs.
Kyoto is useless, or worse. Many of the complaints were specific to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets up a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.
It would bankrupt us. One correspondent said Kyoto mandates "a practically unlimited expenditure of effort (and money, naturally)." Even it would not bankrupt us per se, it would divert resources from other, better-established priorities. It would reduce warming by a meager 0.02 degrees C. It exempts developing countries, whose emissions intensity and growth rates are much higher than those of developed countries. People may claim to support it, but their energy-wasting habits belie their true sentiments.
People who argue that human activity causes global warming can't be trusted. Now we get to what seems to be the single biggest complaint: doubts as to the competence or motivation of scientists and others who accept anthropogenic climate change. Many respondents perceive scientists as jumping to conclusions, haughtily dismissing doubters, refusing to take the time to explain things, and adopting absolutist positions. One respondent wrote: "What data would convince me? I don't know if data is the problem as much as needing to perceive an objective voice." Cataloging these complaints has been hard, but here is my attempt.
Climate scientists have lost their credibility by making bad calls.
They used to predict an imminent ice age. They falsely attributed the ozone hole to CFCs. The respondent who raised this point wrote that the ozone hole was clearly not due to CFCs because it began to recede before CFCs were phased out. They uncritically accepted the hockey-stick graph, which was clearly "fraudulent" from the start. They are guilty of doomsaying, which has been so consistently wrong in the past. They were too quick to connect last year's hurricane season with global warming.
Climate scientists behave unscientifically.
They ignore contrary data and alternative explanations. Respondents complained that climate scientists are guilty of groupthink. For them to admit they might be wrong would hurt their reputation and funding chances, so they tend to cling to positions with a fervor that the data do not justify. The IPCC was said to seek out evidence that supports its preconceived conclusion. Similarly, people complained that scientific journals do not publish contrary data, presumably because of negative peer reviews by dogmatic climate scientists. They are arrogant. Researchers, wrote one respondent, "go ballistic if anyone voices doubt." Another said: "A person with doubts, or simply unanswered questions, is shut out of the debate. One can only ask questions when it is phrased with unwavering support for warming." They have let themselves get caught up in activists' agendas. They themselves have an activist agenda. Respondents were suspicious that global climate change fits a little too conveniently into a certain environmentalist narrative that holds that humans can do no good (least of all if those humans are Republicans). Moreover, respondents said that if taken at face value, global warming seems to demand Soviet-style government action, which is problematic in its own right and a sign that the hypothesis is ideologically motivated. Because the U.S. is often singled out for its policies, there is a whiff of anti-Americanism, too. They have a financial interest in global warming. Now we're starting to get into more serious accusations that scientists push global warming because it helps them curry favor with granting agencies. One person wrote: "There are no grants available to disprove global warming.... [Researchers] gather at government's teats for monetary nourishment, telling mommy whatever she wants to hear." Kyoto, too, has created vested interests and a strong incentive to "massage data."
Activists and journalists have gone overboard.
Experts do not, in fact, argue that humanity is the main cause of global warming. The media sensationalizes warming. It focuses on worst-case scenarios and presents tenative research as definitive. Scientific American lost its own credibility on the subject when it printed a one-sided critique of Lomborg's book. One respondent claimed that the magazine "threatened legal action to stifle debate" about Lomborg's book.
So there you have it. Let me know whether you think I've been fair, and I'll try to fix it up.
Grow Your Own Oil, U.S.
Vaporizing sawdust and corn stalks yields a versatile petroleum stand-in called bio-oil. The product could help sate the world's dependence on black gold.
Sean Captain, "Grow Your Own Oil, U.S.," Wired News, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70430-0.html?tw=wn_index_1
Researchers hoping to ease America's oil addiction are turning sawdust and wood chips into bio-oil, a thick black liquid that could become a green substitute for many petroleum products.
Bio-oil can be made from almost any organic material, including agricultural and forest waste like corn stalks and scraps of bark. Converting the raw biomass into bio-oil yields a product that is easy to transport and can be processed into higher-value fuels and chemicals.
"It is technically feasible to use biomass for the production of all the materials that we currently produce from petroleum," said professor Robert C. Brown, director of the Office of Biorenewables Programs at Iowa State University.
The United States can grow enough fresh biomass -- more than a billion tons each year -- to supplant at least a third of its annual petroleum use, according to an April 2005 study (.pdf) by the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy.
Continued in article
"Farms Waste Much of World's Water," Wired News, March 19, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/wireservice/0,70445-0.html?tw=wn_index_7
MEXICO CITY -- Farms and their wasteful irrigation systems are major contributors to water scarcity on the globe, nations at a world water summit said Saturday.
Farming accounts for 70 percent of the water consumed and most of its wasteful use, said representatives of 130 nations at the World Water Forum discussing water management.
One-fifth of the world's population lacks safe drinking water, the United Nations said in a report last week that laid much of the blame on mismanagement of resources.
"Farmers are central to the whole picture," Patrick McCully, director of International River Network, a non-governmental organization, said at the forum. "They use the majority of the world's water, and farmers are where most of the world's poverty is concentrated."
Agriculture cannot be ignored in the water equation, said Gerald Galloway, a civil engineer and visiting scholar with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "It is an important part of the U.S. economy, and it's even more important in the developing world," he said. "You have to be able to provide water for agriculture."
Israeli water grab harms Palestinians
Israel's vast separation wall slices Nazlet Isa off from one of the richest water sources in the arid northern West Bank where the fight for water is a fight for survival. Israel is believed to monopolise about 75% of Palestinian water resources in a region where rainfall is infrequent and water a strategic asset.
"Israeli water grab harms Palestinians," Al Jazeera, March 20, 2006 --- Click Here
"Ship endures record-breaking waves: Storm shows extreme seas may be more common than thought," Nature, March 7, 2006 --- http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060313/full/060313-15.html
On the dark and stormy night of 8 February 2000, you wouldn't want to have been on board the Discovery, a British oceanographic research ship.
Out in the North Atlantic, 250 km west of Scotland and close to the tiny island of Rockall, the ship was forced to sit through what researchers think are the biggest waves ever directly recorded in the open ocean. The two largest measured just over 29 metres from peak to trough — about the height of a ten-storey building.
The tempest, which hit its peak close to midnight, was terrifying for the scientists on board. "It was pretty horrendous," says oceanographer Naomi Holliday of the University of Southampton in England, who was on the Discovery. "Nobody got any sleep — we were literally thrown out of our bunks." But the ordeal may have an important scientific payoff in showing that such extreme ocean conditions could be more common in this area than previously recognized, say Holliday and colleagues in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters1.
Continued in article
National Institute of Justice’s MAPS Program --- http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/maps/
What major rivers are the most in trouble?
"U.N. report warns of river extinction," PhysOrg, March 12, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news11658.html
The London newspaper says dams are preventing the water flow from the 20 longest rivers into the ocean and sea.
The water shortage, and at some points the rising temperature of the water attributed to global warming, is having a negative affect on fish species.
The Nile, Colorado, Jordan, Rio Grande, Pakistan's Indus and China's Yellow River are all much weaker as they flow into the ocean, if water reaches that far at all.
Industrial pollution is also harming the waterways and the remaining clean water of the world's rivers is being used by residential, industrial and agricultural expansion.
Continued in article
"Luna Leopold, River Researcher, Is Dead at 90," by Jeremy Pearce, The New York Times, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/20/national/20leopold.html
Updates from Web MD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on March 26, 2006
Latest Headlines on March 27, 2006
One of my best friends (former Dean of the School of Business at
Florida International) Died of Bladder Cancer
Unlike breast cancer or prostate cancer, cancer in the gallbladder is extremely rare. In statistics kept by the cancer institute, there were only an estimated 7,480 new cases of gallbladder and bile-duct cancer diagnosed in the U.S. in 2005. That compares with more than 212,000 new cases of breast cancer last year, over 232,000 prostate-cancer cases and more than 170,000 lung-cancer cases. This means that the pharmaceutical companies that drive most of the clinical trials for new drugs in this country aren't paying attention to gallbladder cancer because the market is so small. Single institutions, even those that are major cancer centers, don't usually see enough patients to generate statistically meaningful data, and there is no mechanism to encourage them to pool their data with others. Researchers who are interested in the disease and have creative ideas often find they can't get any funding to test their theories, from either the government or private foundations. As a result, the exciting advances that have transformed the treatment of so many prominent cancers are almost nonexistent in gallbladder cancer.
Amy Dockser Marcus, "A Cry in the Dark: When a rare cancer strikes, a patient has few places to turn," The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2006; Page R9 --- Click Here
Those of you that know me know that my advice is to buy as much house and as little car as possible. Nobody except a dealer makes money in cars. Of course you need a reliable car or truck, but you don’t need a new one from a dealer to obtain a reliable vehicle. I spent more for my tractor than I ever spent for a car.
Since many of you won’t pay any attention to my advice, perhaps you will be interested in the following tidbit.
Will a hybrid automobile really save you money over a five year period?
"Hybrids Save Money, Sorta," by John Gardner, Wired News, March 15, 2006 --- http://wiredblogs.tripod.com/cars/
After correcting errors in its calculations Consumer Reports now says that the
Prius and Civic hybrids will save their owners money over a five year period. The same can not be said of the Accord, Escape, Highlander, and Lexus hybrids, however.
Yes, your individual savings will vary greatly depending on where and how you drive (and gas prices), but at least the potential for saving is there for several models.
Of course savings isn't the whole story, just as you can't justify the cost of buying a performance vehicle.
While gearheads will pay more for the extra power off the line, we hybrid owners get our jollies from passing by the pump while guzzlers have to visit the Qwik Stop 3 times per week. Just like Porsches and Mustangs, hybrids aren't going away, so those who don't like them will just have to give it a rest.
March 23, 2006 reply from Chris Nolan
I read this Consumer Reports article earlier. Barely considered in it or the Wired blog post in Bob’s report are the other costs associated with driving a car other than paying for gas. If a hybrid vehicle uses significantly less gas and produces fewer emissions, it is providing benefits to the public in terms of cleaner air (and reduced health care costs), less dependence on foreign oil and perhaps a lessened demand to extract oil from environmentally sensitive areas. Of course, I haven’t seen a cost-benefit analysis on the long-term effects of those massive batteries, either. But considering only the cost to purchase a car and pay for its gas ignores its vastly larger social costs. I think many hybrid purchasers are looking at some of these broader issues.
Perhaps more relevant to most of us who don’t own hybrids was Consumer Reports’ mention of other ways to save fuel. Our society loves to drive as fast as possible, but did you realize the hit on gas mileage? A tested 4-cylinder Camry got 40 mpg at 55 mph steady driving, 35 mpg at 65 mph, and only 30 mpg at 75 mpg. (Already inefficient vehicles like SUVs didn’t show the dramatic change; they started with low mpg and lost less.) Combined with things like overly quick acceleration from stops and low tire pressures, these driving habits cost the average consumer hundreds of dollars per year. Since some new hybrids unfortunately emphasize extra power rather than better mileage (e.g., the new Accord hybrid only averages 1-2 mpg more than the basic 4-cylinder Accord), consumers may save more by buying traditional cars that get good mileage and driving them responsibly. YMMV.
March 23, 2006 reply from another Trinity professor
As you know, (my spouse) and I moved to Blanco County last spring to realize our dream of living on a hill in the Texas Hill Country. Since my Jeep Grand Cherokee was a real gas guzzler, we bought a Honda Civic Hybrid last July. If we had still been driving the Jeep, our monthly gas bill would have been about $450. Our gas bill now is about $100.
We were a little worried in the beginning because the Civic was only averaging about 38 mpg on our 100 mile daily commute to and from San Antonio. However, beginning in the third month and continuing until the present, as long as we have the regular maintenance conducted (free oil changes every 5000 miles) we are averaging 45 mpg. When we visited the parents in the Texas Panhandle over Christmas, on the trip back to Central Texas the mileage was more than 55 per gallon for a 600 mile journey—less than one tank of gas. Pretty amazing!
Of course, the only downside for those with heavy feet is the fact that this amazing mpg is obtained by driving 60-65 mph. Since my right foot used to be one of the heaviest on the road, (My spouse) likes to think that I’ve been “saved” (by Honda).
I wish you good health and great fun in your retirement!
Give our best to Erika.
(The following reply was received when I asked XXXXX about air conditioner performance which I'm told is a problem in some hybrid models)
The dash has an “econ” button. When it is engaged, the air conditioner does indeed blow warm air at a stop light. Same goes for the heater, which blows cool air. This is not a problem in San Antonio winters, because the car has enough heat to make it through the minute or two of the stop light. But in South Texas summers, we disengage the econ button so that the air conditioner continues to run.
"Wireless Highway: With sensors in cars and transponders on poles, networked-car safety research is hitting the road," by Peter Dizikes, MIT's Technology Review, March 17, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16448,294,p1.html
A few months ago in Michigan, a sedan, followed by a minivan -- both rigged out with prototype wireless communications equipment and software -- swung onto Halsted Road in Farmington Hills. The driver of the sedan then slammed on his brakes, as if a dog had run in front of his bumper. This is the kind of abrupt move that can cause a rear-end crash, especially when visibility is poor.
But this particular sedan had a computer in its trunk outfitted with a Global Positioning System receiver and a short-range radio. The abrupt brake-jamming registered on the computer, which broadcast a warning and the sedan's GPS location. The minivan, similarly equipped, picked up the warning via special radio frequency, calculated that the sedan's location was just ahead of its own, and warned the driver, sounding a chime and flashing a red light.
The vehicles were testing Motorola communications technology as part of a corporate and government push to blanket roads with wirelessly broadcast safety information over the next decade, saving lives by getting cars' computers to talk to each other. To be sure, communications-driven auto safety features have been envisioned for years. But Motorola's tests are part of a new wave of projects that are using such technology in actual vehicles, on public roads, for the first time. "There are possibilities for information exchange that hitherto were only imagined," says James Misener, program leader in transportation safety research at the University of California, Berkeley.
[For an illustration of a wireless highway safety test (a link is provided in the article)]
One reason for that explosion of possibilities is that late-model cars are already loaded with sensors. Computers in today's cars track dozens of driving parameters, like when antilock braking systems are activated, the rate of deceleration, and when temperatures near the road surface near freezing. This kind of data could help other cars avoid hazards -- and each other -- if shared in the right ways.
Continued in article
Safer Products Project --- http://www.safer-products.org/
Stay Safe Online --- http://www.staysafeonline.info/
"Keeping Kids Safe Online," by Johanna Ambrosio, InformationWeek Newsletter, March 15, 2006
I'm no expert, but I am a parent of three teenagers who, thankfully, have been safe so far. My reaction to the news about Microsoft jumping into the monitoring spacewith a free tool to be available this summer is that it sounds great, but I hope parents realize that the use of any monitoring software isn't by itself enough to guarantee kids' safety.
I think anyone in the computer industry already knows this and certainly understands the dangers that lurk. But I worry there may be some parents who too readily trust a tool to take the place of their (human) care and concern. Parents must still be parents, and older teens especially must be made aware of their responsibility in this, too. With great freedom comes great personal responsibility, both online and offline, and kids need the adults in their lives to both explain and model this.
We've certainly been lucky, and we've done some things to help. (For the fuller story, please check out myblog entry.)
In the process of cleaning out my office, I ran across some hard copy printouts of Jay's shared material. Jay does not update his site often enough. but there are a couple of interesting chapters of a book that he shares on Knowledge Management.
Sharing Professor of the Week
Jay E. Aronson, University of Georgia --- http://www.terry.uga.edu/~jaronson/lyon2005/
Also seen another shared work on Knowledge Management at http://ce.aut.ac.ir/~roghanizad/managment/Book/ch10.pdf
The Physics of Friendship
By comparing people to mobile particles randomly bouncing off each other, scientists have developed a new model for social networks. The model fits with empirical data to naturally reproduce the community structure, clustering and evolution of general acquaintances and even sexual contacts.
"The Physics of Friendship," PhysOrg, March 10, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news11611.html
"Taxes hit all-time high (in the U.K.)," David Smith, The Sunday Times, March 19, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2092829,00.html
GORDON BROWN is about to raise Britain’s tax burden to its highest-ever level, raking in nearly £1m a minute. An analysis by the accountants Ernst & Young, based on the Treasury’s own figures, shows the chancellor will match the record high for the tax burden this year and rise above it next year.
That means it will be higher than in the 1970s under Denis Healey, when the top rate of income tax was 83%, and the early 1980s, when it was 60%.
Brown will unveil his 10th budget on Wednesday, which Treasury sources say will be an exercise in “consolidation”.
The Ernst & Young analysis shows that the tax burden excluding North Sea oil revenues, the best measure of the load faced by families and businesses, will be 37.6% of gross domestic product this year, close to the 37.7% peak reached in the early 1980s.
Next year it will reach 37.8%, before rising to 38.1%.
“It’s an all-time high and we’re entering uncharted waters,” said Peter Spencer, economic adviser to the Ernst & Young Item Club, a forecasting group. “We know higher taxes help explain what is happening on Britain’s high streets.”
Treasury figures show tax revenues will total £490 billion this year, up from £271 billion when Brown took office. The £219 billion rise is equivalent to £9,000 for every household in Britain.
Continued in article
Warning: Don't we all log in with keystrokes?
"Hacking Made Easy: Automated Tools Gather Victims' Keystrokes, Upload Passwords to Illicit Database," by Brian Krebs, The Washington Post, March 16, 2006 --- Click Here
When Graeme Frost received an e-mail notice that an expensive digital camera had been charged to his credit card account, he immediately clicked on the Internet link included in the message that said it would allow him to dispute the charge. As the 29-year-old resident of southwestern England scoured the resulting Web page for the merchant's phone number, the site silently installed a password-stealing program that transmitted all of his personal and financial information.
Frost is just one of thousands of victims whose personal data has been stolen by what security experts are calling one of the more brazen and sophisticated Internet fraud rings ever uncovered. The Web-based software employed by ring members to manage large numbers of illegally commandeered computers is just as easy to use as basic commercial office programs. No knowledge of computer programming or hacking techniques is required to operate the software, which allows the user to infiltrate and steal financial information from thousands of PCs simultaneously.
Continued in article
The Trouble With Internet TV
Lost in the Net neutrality debate between Congress, Internet businesses and cable and telephone companies is the fact that the Internet isn't ready to deliver TV programming, at least not at the same quality as cable and satellite. While the industry hype may lead one to believe that Internet service providers only have to flip a switch to deliver "The Sopranos," it's actually going to take time and billions of dollars in new infrastructure.
"The Trouble With Internet TV," InternetWeek Newsletter, March 20, 2006
Welfare Prevents Revolutions in Europe
PARIS - Tear gas. Students clashing with police around the famed Sorbonne university in Paris. Barricades in the capital's streets. Is March 2006 proving to be May 1968 all over again? So far, no. While comparisons between the student protests of then and now are tempting, they are also misleading. The young protesters of '68 wanted to turn French society upside down. "Break the old molds" was one of their many slogans. Their children want not revolution but status quo: the same access to pensions, jobs, prosperity and generous welfare systems their parents enjoyed. In short, a comfortable European lifestyle that many feel is under grave threat.
John Leicester, "French Protests Nothing Like Those of '68," Yahoo News, March 17, 2006 ---
Arnie cannot get motherhood and apple pie on a
California ballot if they helped his re-election bid
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sustained a political setback when fellow Republicans in the state Senate joined Democrats in keeping a massive infrastructure-bond proposal off the June ballot. The failure, which followed marathon negotiations between the governor and state Legislature, could further complicate the former actor's bid for re-election by depriving him of a key victory to tout before Election Day in November. The bond package, which was aimed at repairing bridges, levees and highways, has broad public support, according to a recent Field Poll, and was expected to pass if placed on the ballot.
Jim Carlton and Deborah Solomon, "Schwarzenegger Hits Roadblock on Public-Works Bond Proposal," The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2006; Page A8 ---
The Terminator defiantly claims he will have it on
the ballot in November ---
NCAA picks the “100 Most Influential
That’s one way of interpreting a list of the “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes” released Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, as part of its centennial celebration. The top five leans heavily toward leading African-American athletes who became icons of racial integration: Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens are Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, followed by Eisenhower and John Wooden, the former basketball coach at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Doug Lederman, "Who Is More Influential — Jesse Owens or Dwight Eisenhower?" Inside Higher Ed, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/16/athletes
Other Heroes (not as famous as the athletes but
probably more important to life)
Partners of the Heart --- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/index.html
The Dean was so drunk he maybe thought it was a drumstick from KFC
Students are purportedly more uncivil and lack manners
"Campuses of Ids," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 14, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/14/civility
But before the halfway point, students started to leave — not just a few, but hundreds. And they continued to leave, even as the master of ceremonies, a local sportscaster, implored them to stay. University staff members wondered at the time — and still — “how could students be so rude,” said Debra Moriarty, vice president for student affairs, in a discussion Monday at the annual meeting of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
A packed audience at the meeting traded stories that demonstrated that the Towson experience is far from unique. And it’s not just the new students who are rude. Several of those in the audience said that they have a similar problem at graduation ceremonies. Once students get their diplomas, they get up and leave, and so do their parents, leaving those at the end of the alphabet with plenty of room to stretch.
. . .
In terms of making expectations clear to students, organizers of the panel pointed to several statements on civility that colleges issue — not as rules necessarily, but as a philosophy about how students should treat one another. These statements tend to stress positive actions — empathy, respect, civility — rather than just listing behaviors to avoid (although some statements include some of them too) and these policies aren’t intended to punish as much as to provide goals. Some of the statements cited include those of Coe and Smith Colleges, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of South Carolina.
Several at the session said that student incivility isn’t going to disappear overnight and that those working to promote a more polite campus need a long-term view. After one audience member spoke of her frustrations at how students treated her, Salas replied: “You have to be strong and have faith. They won’t get it today or tomorrow, but some day.”
What is a PIPEs market?
"Three New York Hedge Funds Settle Charges Tied to Trading," by Kara Scannell, The New York Times, March 15, 2006; Page C4
Securities regulators filed and settled charges against three New York hedge funds and their portfolio manager for allegedly engaging in a deceptive trading strategy involving insider trading, unregistered stock transactions and "naked" short sales.
Langley Partners LP, North Olmsted Partners LP and Quantico Partners LP, along with their portfolio manager, Jeffrey Thorp, agreed to pay $15.8 million in disgorgement and penalties to settle, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, insider-trading charges and allegations of trading unregistered securities of 23 companies.
Andrew Gordon, a lawyer representing Mr. Thorp and the hedge funds, didn't return a phone call seeking comment.
The allegations come amid heightened attention to hedge funds and their trading practices by regulators and are part of a broader Securities and Exchange Commission probe into improper trading in the private-issuer market, where companies raise money through a type of unregistered security known as a Private Investment in Public Equity, or PIPE.
"This case is an example of our ongoing effort to stamp out fraud and other trading abuses by investors in the PIPEs market," said Scott Friestad, an associate director in the SEC's division of enforcement. "We have devoted substantial resources to these investigations and will continue to do so." Hedge funds, lightly regulated investment pools that invest money for wealthy investors and institutions, are among the most active investors in the PIPEs market.
In a PIPE transaction, a company sells unregistered shares that are usually locked up for two to four months until the shares are registered and free to be traded on the open market. PIPE deals are sold at a discount because of their illiquidity.
Many investors hedge the PIPE by shorting the public stock, but to do so legally an investor needs to borrow enough publicly traded shares to cover the short. It is against U.S. securities laws to use unregistered stock to cover a short sale.
Continued in article
From The Washington Post on March 15, 2006
From the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania's Blog
called knowledge@wharton on March 10, 2006 ---
Beware of Dissatisfied Consumers: They Like to Blab
When consumers have a bad shopping experience, they are likely to spread the word, not to the store manager or salesperson, but to friends, family and colleagues. Overall, if 100 people have a bad experience, a retailer stands to lose between 32 and 36 current or potential customers. These are some of the conclusions of The Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study 2006, conducted by The Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at Wharton and The Verde Group, a Toronto consulting firm, in the weeks before and after Christmas 2005. The biggest source of consumer dissatisfaction? Parking lots.
Gandhi, Mandela, Mother Teresa, a Tree, a Pillow ... Images of Leadership from Future Leaders
What do images of a crew team, geese flying in formation, trees, silly putty and a steering wheel have in common? They all are part of how undergraduate business students at Wharton depict and describe the essence of leadership. Since 2000, Wharton freshmen have been required to participate in Images of Leadership, a project sponsored by Wharton's undergraduate leadership program, led by director Anne M. Greenhalgh and associate director Christopher I. Maxwell. In a recent report called, Images of Leadership: The Story Emerging Leaders Tell, Greenhalgh and Maxwell discuss the students' responses -- and biases -- as expressed in both pictures and words.
For The Pew's Rebecca Rimel, the Bottom Line Is Impact, Not Profits
When Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, describes the challenges she faces running a $4.6 billion organization, she uses the same words one hears from leaders in the for-profit world: "highly strategic," "politically aware," "leveraged" and "accountable." But her bottom line is impact, not profits. "We are highly driven to make a difference in the key issues that matter to the health and happiness of our stakeholders -- the public," she said during a recent leadership talk at Wharton. Running an effective organization, Rimel told her audience, requires hard-nosed decisions about which projects to fund, which people to hire, and what battles to walk away from.
The empire of Google Inc. is officially going interplanetary.
Working with researchers from NASA at Arizona State University, the search engine has compiled images of Mars on a map Web site, making it possible to view the dunes, canyons and craters of the red planet as easily as the cul-de-sacs and cityscapes of Earth. Infrared images at http://mars.google.com even pull up things normally invisible to the naked eye. Having mapped the Earth and the relatively nearby moon, Google said seeking out farther-flung planetary conquests is a natural progression.
"Need to Find Your Way on Mars? Google It," by Yuki Noguchi, The Washington Post, March 14, 2006 --- Click Here
Yawn, more fraud on top of a mountain of fraud at Merrill
Merrill Lynch & Co. has agreed in principle to pay $164 million to settle 23 class-action lawsuits related to its stock-research coverage of Internet companies during the tech-stock bubble era. The settlements leave Merrill with two suits still pending out of an initial 150 in which investors claimed to have been misled by the company's former top tech-stock analyst, Henry Blodget, and his team. The suits alleged that Mr. Blodget recommended 27 stocks to help Merrill win investment-banking assignments, even as he privately disparaged many of them.
Jed Horowitz, "Merrill to Settle Research Suits," The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2006; Page B2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114020205518977166.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
SEC fines Merrill Lynch Again and Again and Again and Again . . .
Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to pay $2.5 million and to hire an independent consultant to settle allegations that it failed to promptly produce email records, the Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday. Federal regulators had accused the New York brokerage firm of repeatedly failing to furnish email from October 2003 through February 2005. The SEC said Merrill Lynch had failed to retain certain business-related emails and that its policies and procedures designed for the prompt production of email were deficient.
Siobhan Hughes, "Merrill to Pay Fine Over Emails" The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2006; Page C5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114229015078797024.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
To find out more about the repeated fines paid by Merrill Lynch, search for "Merrill" at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
Profanity Can Cost You Your Job
"George Carlin Need Not Apply," Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/index.php/news/2006/03/08/language
When the semester started, Stephen E. Williams was teaching history at the Lancaster branch of Harrisburg Area Community College. But early in the semester, he stopped showing up, and his students received calls confirming the reason why: He had used the word “fuck” in class.
Officially, administrators at the college will not say why Williams was suspended or why the institution recently reached an agreement under which the tenure-track (but non-tenured) professor ceased to be an employee. But students in his classes started getting calls from officials soon after he left, asking if they had heard him swear in class.
The problem for Williams may be that their answer was Yes, although students also reported great admiration for Williams, and a number have complained about his removal as their professor. (Williams is not the only college professor in trouble over language this week: The Morning News reported that the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville just removed a popular adjunct in music for cursing and talking about controversial topics.)
Wyoming Toughens Up on Unaccredited
State officials have argued that the perception isn’t entirely fair. But they also recognize, as State Sen. Tex Boggs puts it, that “the reality is whatever the perception is,” and that Wyoming’s reputation as a haven for academically suspect institutions was damaging the overall view of the state. So after much deliberation and a year of study, Wyoming’s Legislature approved legislation — signed into law this month by Gov. Dave Freudenthal — that bars private institutions from operating in the state unless they are accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Education Department (or actively seeking such accreditation).
Doug Lederman, "Wyoming Toughens Up on Unaccredited," Inside Higher Ed, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/20/wyoming
This was an old tidbit at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudreporting.htm#DiplomaMill
Wyoming's Diploma Mills
“I just don't believe that the good should be
thrown out with the bad,” she says.
"Wyoming the home of online schools State law allows the operation of unaccredited facilities," by Mead Gruver, USA Today, February 9, 2005 --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050209/a_wyoming09.art.htm
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The campus of American Capital University has no tree-shaded quadrangle, no stately old buildings or libraries, no classrooms, no fraternity houses — not even a student curled up with a book in a quiet corner.
There's just a middle-age man who sits at a computer in a tiny, undecorated, windowless office in the basement of a downtown building.
But in a sense, this fellow — Bill Allen, American Capital University's chief academic officer — has lots of company: Wyoming licenses 10 other online schools that are not accredited by any mainstream organization and maintain only a token physical presence in the state.
Defenders of such schools say Wyoming is forward-thinking for accepting a relatively inexpensive way for working adults to get degrees in their spare time through mail and Internet courses. But others say the state has become a haven for diploma mills, which offer degrees for little or no academic work.
“People start to giggle if you say ‘Wyoming-licensed school,' if you know about accreditation,” says George Gollin, a University of Illinois physics professor and crusader against diploma mills.
Because of loose state requirements, more online schools are popping up in Wyoming than any other state, according to Steven Crow, executive director of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional agency that accredits schools. “Most other states have enough rigor in how they determine who can operate as a college and grant degrees that it's not as easy for places to get started,” he says. Cheyenne is home to six distance-learning schools, five within a few blocks of one another. A typical example is Paramount University of Technology, which has offices in the basement of a downtown mall. At the end of the street, American City University occupies a couple of rooms in a Victorian-era building.
Another school, Kennedy-Western University, was the focus of a U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigation last year. At the school, only an open-book, multiple-choice test with 100 questions was required in a course on hazardous waste management. Environmental law and regulatory compliance courses had the same requirements.
“With just 16 hours of study, I had completed 40% of the course requirements for a master's degree,” says Claudia Gelzer, a committee staffer.
Kennedy-Western spokesman David Gering says the committee did not invite the school to defend itself and did not note that Kennedy-Western requires final papers, theses and dissertations of 100 to 200 pages. Moreover, 80% of Kennedy-Western's professors hold doctorates from accredited universities, while the rest have master's degrees from accredited schools, Gering says.
“In order for us to maintain our licensure, we have to offer a very academically rigorous program,” he says.
Wyoming's private-school licensing laws say all faculty members must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, and at least half must have at least a master's degree from an accredited school. The schools must maintain an office in the state, pay a $10,000 licensing fee and post a $100,000 performance bond.
In December, state lawmakers abandoned a bill that would have required private schools to have proper accreditation by 2010. That was after two state senators were guests of Cheyenne-based Preston University on an expenses-paid trip to Preston campuses in Pakistan and Dubai.
One of the lawmakers, Democrat Kathryn Sessions, says that she supports tougher rules for distance learning but that accreditation is not necessarily the answer.
“I just don't believe that the good should be thrown out with the bad,” she says. “I know how much money accrediting institutions charge universities and colleges — and I'm a little bit tired that they think they're the end-all.”
Bob Jensen's threads on diploma mills are at
Problems in watering the poor
From The Scout Report on March 24, 2006
Forum draws attention to water supply in the developing
world World’s poor rely on bottled water
Big water companies quit poor countries
10,000 protest at water summit
Water with strings attached
4th World Water Forum
World Water Day [pdf]
The Farting Chair Conspiracy (a true story on CNN)
"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 Bob Overn
A Typical Lawyer
One afternoon, a wealthy lawyer was riding in his shiny limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass.
Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop...and he got out to investigate the situation.
He asked one man, "Why are you eating grass?"
"We don't have any money for food," the poor man replied. "We HAVE TO eat grass."
Shocked, the lawyer said, "Well, then, you can come with me to my house...and I'll feed you!"
"But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree."
"Bring them along," the lawyer replied. Turning to the other poor man, he said, "You come with us, too."
The second man said, "But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!"
"Bring them all!" the lawyer answered......and they jammed into the huge limo.
Once underway, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, "Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking of us with you."
Genuinely touched, the lawyer replied, "Glad to do it! You'll really love my place.....the grass is almost a foot high!"
Forwarded by Aaron Konstam
The aspiring psychiatrists from various colleges were attending their first class on emotional extremes. "Just to establish some parameters," said the professor, to the student from the University of Houston, "What is the opposite of joy?"
"Sadness," said the student.
"And the opposite of depression?" he asked of the young lady from Rice.
"Elation," said she.
"And you sir," he said to the young man from Texas A&M, "How about the opposite of woe?"
The Aggie replied, "Sir, I believe that would be giddy_up."
Fruitcake Lady Video (didn't she appear on the Johnnie Carson show?) ---
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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
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