When Hitler was victorious
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
Sir Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill
The Entire Historic Speech (Audio) --- MP3 - 2.6 Megs --- http://www.fiftiesweb.com/usa/churchill-fight-beaches.mp3
A cold war stalemate arises when sane leaders are in charge of the red
Such as when Kruschev (not Castro) backed down in the Cuban Missile Crisis
But what to worry about? Iranian nukes? Nah, that's just some racket cooked up by the Christian fundamentalist Bush and his Zionist buddies to give Halliburton a pretext to take over the Persian carpet industry. Worrying about nukes is so '80s. "They make me want to throw up. . . . They make me feel sick to my stomach," wrote the British novelist Martin Amis, who couldn't stop thinking about them 20 years ago. In the intro to a collection of short stories, he worried about the Big One and outlined his own plan for coping with a nuclear winter wonderland . . . Nothing to fear but the climate change alarmists.
Mark Steyn, "Nothing to fear but the climate change alarmists," Chicago Sun-Times, April 23, 2006 --- http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn23.html
Also see "When Hawks Play Chicken: Mutually Assured Destruction and Iran," by Michael Young, Reason Magazine, April 20, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/links/links042006.shtml
A cold war stalemate may not prevent nuclear winter when an insane
leader holds a red phone
If the visit to Washington last week by the head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, was not enough to communicate Israel's growing impatience with the international community's failure to deal with Tehran's unchecked development of nuclear technology and bellicose threats to wipe the Jewish state "off the map," Ehud Olmert, prime minister designate, made it clear yesterday by denouncing Iran's president as a "psychopath" and comparing him to Hitler . . . Steinitz, who oversees Mossad's activities in Iran, fears Iran's first nuclear bomb is just one year away. "There is only one option that is worse than military action against Iran and that is to sit and do nothing," he said . . . "Ahmadinejad speaks today like Hitler before taking power," Olmert said. "So you see, we are dealing with a psychopath of the worst kind — with an anti-Semite. God forbid that this man ever gets his hands on nuclear weapons, to carry out his threats."
"Impatient Mossad warns of 'monster in the making'," WorldNetDaily, April 30, 2006 ---
Also see "Iran's psychopath in chief," London Times, April 30, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2158069,00.html
As has been projected for several years now, the
University of California for the first time admitted more Asian students
than white students this year, The San Jose Mercury News reported. As Asian
enrollments have gone up, many of the university system’s campuses have seen
racial politics and attitudes change.
Inside Higher Ed, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/24/qt
"There are too many farmers in Norway, we can manage with half of those we have today. We can't just let people in the outlying districts live on transfers and benefits," said Hans Frode Asmyhr.
"Too many farmers The Progress Party (Fr.P), Norway's largest in recent opinion polls, now says that the country has twice as many farmers as it needs, "Aftenposten," April 24, 2006 --- http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1291134.ece
Rep. Cynthia McKinney still does not know
whether she will face criminal charges for allegedly punching a U.S.
Capitol Police officer who stopped her at a security checkpoint. But the
Georgia Democrat is pulling no punches with the media, ordering an
Atlanta television station not to broadcast derogatory comments she made
about a member of her staff on Saturday.
Jeff Johnson, CBS News ,April 24, 2006--- Click Here
Ordering suppression of news is a good way to call attention to it. When will she learn?
A dead man sending off for a
mail-in ballot for the March primary was just one of the clues that
brought investigators from the Texas attorney general's office to Duval
County. Assistant District Attorney Jon West had only been on the job
for about three months when the voter fraud allegations started
Corpus Christie Caller-Times, April 24, 2006 --- Click Here
So what's the big deal. It's a long-standing tradition in Duval County to allow the dead to vote. It would be interesting to examine the return address on the envelope.
It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.
George Washington as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-04-20-06.htm
It is a lead in to the following quotation:
Deer Teechur, Please excyuse Erik from jim class today. He has newmo -- pnumo -- noomonya -- a cold. Also, that mean kid Craig should be paddled because he's a jerk!
From, Erik's mom.
Erik Deckers, Excuses, Excuses, Excuse," The Irascible Professor, --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-04-20-06.htm
Erik Deckers, Excuses, Excuses, Excuse," The Irascible Professor, --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-04-20-06.htm
A 53-year-old German woman who was driving
her dead mother across country to save on mortuary transportation costs
was fined by police for disturbing a dead person's peace.
Reuters, April 24, 2006 --- Click Here
The restaurant is just a hundred yards or so
away from the mayhem of Union Square, with its hordes of young people
running after a good time as if it were about to roll under a couch.
Nancy Franklin, "TOCQUEVILLE," The New Yorker, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.newyorker.com/goingson/tables/articles/060424gota_GOAT_tables
Great Minds in Management: The Process of Theory Development --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm
In April 2006 I commenced reading a heavy book entitled Great Minds in Management: The Process of Theory Development, Edited by Ken G. Smith and Michael A. Hitt (Oxford Press, 2006).
The essays are somewhat personalized in terms of how theory development is perceived by each author and how these perceptions changed over time.
In Tidbits I will share some of the key quotations as I proceed through this book. The book is somewhat heavy going, so it will take some time to add selected quotations to the list of quotations at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm
Grand Theories and Mid-Range Theories: Cultural Effects on
the Attempt to Understand Active Approaches to Work
PG.# 84 & 85 FRESE As is true of all human behavior, theory building is based on environmental forces and on person factors. It has been my curse and my blessing to be overactive. My overactive nature led me to believe that it was good to be active and to be in control of things. Therefore, I quickly embraced theories that seemed to correspond with this prejudice. The three theories that seemed to encompass what I stood for were Rotter's cognitive behaviorist theory (Rotter, Chance, and Phares, 1972), Seligman's learned helplessness theory (Seligman, 1975), and Hacker's action (regulation) theory (Hacker, 1973; Volpert, 1974). Both Rotter's as well as Hacker's theories were indirectly related to a common source: Lewin's influence in Germany and in the U.S. All my research centered around the themes of an active approach to work-life (the opposite of helplessness): Thus, I became interested in personal initiative as one such instance of an active approach. Since an active approach means to explore, I also became interested in errors and how one can learn from errors.
PG.# 87 & 88 FRESE Our phenomenological orientation towards errors allowed us to make a discovery: When people are permitted and encouraged to make errors during training and are instructed to learn from errors, they perform better after training than when they are hindered from making errors. This was surprising because most software trainers and a lot of theorists (e.g., Skinner and Bandura) had suggested otherwise: They favored the avoidance errors because they considered errors were too frustrating and inefficient for the learner, and that people would simply learn the wrong things. Our so-called error training (later called error management training) proved to be superior to other methods of training people in computer skills (Heimbeck, et al., 2003; Ivancic and Hesketh, 2000; Keith and Frese, forthcoming).
Action theory argues that negative feedback is useful (Miller, Galanter, and Pribram, 1960): Action implies a goal (some set point that needs to be achieved). Until one has achieved the goal, a person receives information that there is a discrepancy between the present situation and the set point (achievement of the goal, e.g., a person wants to travel to Rome and acknowledges that he or she is 500 miles away). Thus, negative feedback presents information on what we have not yet achieved and it provides guidance to action. Errors provide negative feedback but with a specific twist: An error implies that the actor should have known better. It is the latter that produces the problems of blaming people--both oneself and others.
Therefore, we developed a training procedure (error management training) which gave participants explicit instructions to use errors as a learning device and not to blame themselves. Participants are supposed to explore a system with minimal information provided; in contrast to exploratory training, error management training tasks are difficult right from the start, thereby exposing participants to many errors. Error management training explicitly informs the participants of the positive function of errors; these so-called error management instructions are brief statements (we often called them heuristics because they allow us to deal with the error problem) designed to reduce potential frustrations in the face of errors: "Errors are a natural part of the learning processes!" "I have made an error, great! Because now I can learn!" While participants work on the training tasks, the trainer provides no further assistance but reminds the participants of the error management instructions. When comparing error management training with a training procedure that does not allow errors, error management training proved to be more effective across diverse groups of participants (university students as well as employees), training contents (e.g., computer training, driving simulator training), and training durations (1-hour training to 3-day training sessions), with medium to large effect sizes (Frese 1995).
PG. #103 FRESE What have I learned from my journey as a scientist who contributed both to a grand theory as well as to middle range theories? The most important issue seems to me to have an open mind to the quirks and difficulties, as well as to beautiful coping strategies that people show in their environment--I think that curiosity and being able to wonder and be surprised are the hallmark of good science. I am very interested in concrete phenomena and I suggest one should become intensively involved in real life phenomena (these may also be laboratory phenomena but I, personally, have been more interested in those that constitute important issues in society--not necessarily in my own society). It helps to cultivate contacts across cultures and maintain contacts with various strata in society--varied experiences support the process of being surprised, stumbling across interesting phenomena, and of developing a wider net of theoretical ideas and methodological approaches.
Good research questions often start with wonderment and surprise. We then have to work on understanding experiences and phenomena theoretically. For this it is helpful to look at the world like a theory machine that attempts to understand all sorts of phenomena with theoretical concepts. I remember that as students and young researchers my friends and I used to apply theories like a 2-year-old takes a hammer: We continuously attempted to use it to explain every phenomenon possible--in this way we quickly stumbled across the limits of the usefulness of these theories and, at the same time, we started to understand the theories better.
PG. # 104 & 105 FRESE In terms of methodology, I have come to rely more and more on a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches. I use structured interviews because differential anchor points are particularly problematic in any questionnaire research: What is high planning for one owner may be complete chaos for another one. Structured interviews are useful, not only because they showed excellent validity in meta-analytic research (Hunter and Schmidt, 1996), but also because interviews gave me a chance to probe owners' answers and to understand precisely what they mean. Questionnaires sometimes "lead" participants to certain answers. For example, it would have been "leading" to ask directly for planning and activity within the questionnaire survey. This is particularly true for cultural contexts in which it is improper to contradict others and where there is a tendency to create harmony (as in Africa). All of this speaks for interviews. At the same time, I want to have quantitative data to test hypotheses and to confirm and falsify them--therefore it is necessary to use coding procedures (I use very robust ones--not complicated content analyses).
I should warn you, however. Not all of this writing immediately gets translated into academic success. As a matter of fact, it is my observation that some of the empirical articles that I am most proud of (probably because they are dearest to my theoretical approach), have been the most difficult to publish. My hunch is that they break with the typical approach to doing things and, therefore, invite criticism that reviewers are only too glad to provide. On the other hand, those articles, that I am most proud of, are also often the ones that have the highest impact. And that is after all what we are interested in. We should never want to publish something just because we need another publication (well...at least never after we get tenure...). I usually was driven to work hard on publications by the fact that I wanted to communicate something that I found to be important. We should all want to shape and influence the development of science and knowledge rather than just be a smoothly functioning particle of a scientific machine.
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm
Genetic Basis for Great Minds
They discovered the dysbindin-1 gene, which they previously demonstrated to be associated with schizophrenia, may also be linked to general cognitive ability. "A robust body of evidence suggests cognitive abilities, particularly intelligence, are significantly influenced by genetic factors," said the study's primary author, Katherine Burdick, noting existing data already suggests dysbindin may influence cognition.
"Scientists identify 'intelligence gene'," PhysOrg, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news65413253.html
Incredible shrinking men in higher education: The problem is not just a shortage of black male applicants
"New Take on the Gender Gap," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/26/gender
Where are the male students? Colleges are increasingly worried about the way their applicant pools and student bodies are lopsidedly female. Much of the discussion assumes that the problem (if it’s a problem) is relatively recent.A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, however, suggests that the enrollment patterns colleges are seeing today result from much longer term shifts. In fact, the analysis — by three Harvard University economists — suggests that but for certain societal conditions that either favored men or motivated men, the gap might have been present or larger earlier.
The study starts with a review of the long-term trends in gender enrollment and notes a fact that has received relatively little attention of late: Between 1900 and 1930, male and female enrollments were roughly at parity. And relatively few of the women enrolled (about 5 percent) were at elite women’s colleges. About half were at public institutions.
Citing a range of studies, the Harvard economists suggest that women of that generation — like women today — made calculated decisions about the gains that would come from higher education. Significant numbers were seeking careers, even with the knowledge that careers and marriage were viewed as incompatible both by would-be employers and would-be spouses. Others were seeking to marry college-educated men.
A variety of factors led to the relative growth in male enrollments in the following periods. Significantly, those changes did not reflect better academic preparation by men or any falling off in college preparation by women. Among the factors cited were the increase in bans on married women working, the importance of the GI Bill as a source of funds for college for veterans — the vast majority of them men — returning from World War II, and the desire of a subsequent generation of men to avoid the Vietnam War draft by enrolling in college.
Looked at through this historic perspective, the edge that men had for many years wasn’t natural or based on academic achievement, write the Harvard economists. They call their study “The Homecoming of American College Women,” driving home the point that the trends of today reflect a return of women, not the emergence of women’s outstanding academic performance.
The high point of gender imbalance in favor of men came in 1947, when men outnumbered women on campuses by a 2.3 to 1 ratio (a far more lopsided imbalance than we are seeing today, when women make up 57 percent of enrollments nationally). Women achieved parity again around 1980 and their proportions have since been growing. In terms of women’s motivations, the arrival of the women’s movement certainly played a factor, the authors write, as more careers were open to women and women delayed or opted against marriage and/or having children.
So why today’s imbalance? The Harvard economists suggest several factors. One is that changes in societal values have meant that more women — across social classes — hold jobs for significant portions of their adult lives, or their entire adult lives. The wage differential between college-educated and non-college educated woman has always been greater than that for men, the authors write. Women are behaving with economic logic by focusing more on college, since they will spend more of their lifetimes working.
The other major factor they cite is also very simple: Women do better in high school. They are more likely to study hard, to take the right courses, and to do well in those courses than are their male counterparts. Male high school students are more likely to have behavioral problems.
As a result, the authors suggest, today’s gender gap really isn’t surprising.
An abstract of the report is available on the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Web site, where the full report may be purchased online for $5.
The authors are Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz, and Ilyana Kuziemko.
Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in higher education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm
"The Evolving (Eroding?) Faculty Job," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, May 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/05/01/faculty
A week ago, new data on faculty salaries showed that professors’ pay fell behind inflation for the second year in a row. A month ago, when a federal commission studying higher education released a paper on reasons that college costs so much, it identified professors — their power and tenure — as a prime culprit.Feeling underappreciated and under siege? Does your job feel unstable?
There’s a reason, according to two of the leading scholars of the professoriate. They have just finished what experts are calling a landmark study of the professoriate, which argues that we are experiencing “a revolution” in academic life that will be equal in its lasting significance to such events as the importation of the research university model to the United States in the late 19th century or the “massification” of higher education after World War II.
“Seismic shifts are profoundly changing how knowledge is acquired and transmitted,” and while it is unclear where these changes will lead the academy, it is certain that faculty jobs are changing — and changing in a big way. That is the central thesis of The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers, by Jack H. Schuster and Martin Finkelstein, just published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Many of the themes of the book won’t shock anyone who has been working in academe lately. Among them:
- The pace of change has accelerated dramatically. While new models in higher education historically have taken decades to establish themselves, today’s changes are having nationwide impact very quickly after they emerge.
- Government and the public have come to think of higher education as an industry with a key role in the economy, not as a separate entity that should be left to itself.
- The faculties and student bodies of colleges are much more diverse than they used to be.
- There has been enormous growth in the use of part-time faculty members, and far greater growth rates for those jobs than for full-time jobs. Similarly, full-time faculty positions off the tenure track have grown.
- Enrollments have moved away from the liberal arts and toward the professions, with a resulting shift in faculty jobs.
All of these trends are backed up with data. The graphs, charts, and statistics come from a variety of published sources (the Education Department, foundations, college groups) and aren’t new per se. But the authors focus on long-term changes, not the one-year increases that tend to capture attention when new data come out. Linked together over 555 pages, with analysis from Schuster and Finkelstein, the information adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
Two key points that are likely to worry faculty members is that the professorial career has gotten more difficult — and that many of the best and brightest are looking elsewhere for employment.
In terms of workload, the authors cite data, for example, that show that the average weekly hours worked at their institution by full-time faculty members is up to 48.6 — from just over 40 in 1984. But digging more deeply into the data, the authors found that the percentage of full-time faculty members who work more than 50 hours a week has doubled since 1972 — reaching nearly two-fifths. And the percentage of faculty members working more than 55 hours a week has grown to 25.6 percent from 13.1 percent. And these, of course, are full-time faculty members, not those who must shuttle from campus to campus in unpaid commuting time.
With faculty members working long hours, wages falling behind inflation, and changes in the full-time/part-time ratio meaning considerably less job security, an important concern is the quality of those entering the professoriate. Here, the book finds very mixed conclusions. Surveys of graduate programs and hiring committees indicate a very high quality of applicant (and plenty of them, in some cases a clearly overflowing pool).
But the book also notes a variety of surveys of the career plans of the kinds of people colleges might hope are considering careers in academe, and their numbers are dwindling. The book examines a series of surveys of the career aspirations and finds that academe isn’t what it once was. Declines have occurred in the percentage of Rhodes Scholars, Luce Scholars, Watson Fellows, Phi Beta Kappa members, and entering college students over all who aspire to a career in teaching.
While the figures may be discouraging, the book’s tone is not one of complaint, but of drawing attention to how dramatic various changes are.
Finkelstein, one of the authors and a professor of education at Seton Hall University, calls himself an optimist and says that the jury is still out on whether the changes outlined in the book will make higher education better or worse. “If you look at this from the perspective of what the faculty role has been like from the ’50s, this doesn’t look encouraging,” he said. But Finkelstein added that professors of earlier generations looked at the changes around them and worried about the profession becoming less desirable, and that didn’t happen.
While there is less job security, “there are different kinds of opportunities today,” especially through distance learning, that didn’t exist before, he said.
And he sees one of the major conclusions of the work being that you can’t talk any more about the faculty job — since it has evolved in so many directions. “Historically, the model was that everyone did the same thing,” he said, adding that while the relative proportions for teaching, research and service might differ at different kinds of institutions, the basic job duties were similar. “I think that model is falling away,” he said.
The other model he sees these trends changing is one where a young faculty member would seek an institution at which to build a career. The trends related to employment patterns mean that more and more faculty members will need to be mobile and flexible.
Whether these changes are good or bad isn’t clear, Finkelstein said, even though many in academe think otherwise. For example, it is taken as a given by many that the growth in the use of part-time professors hurts students because, however hard adjuncts work and however thoughtful their lectures, they can’t be physically present on campuses so students can drop by, or serve on curricular committees, or have influence in the college equal to their teaching role. All of that might be true, Finkelstein said. But those who criticize the reliance on part-timers assume that the alternative is more full-time slots. What if that’s not the case, and the alternative is untaught sections and the remaining students are either turned away or squeezed into larger and larger sections?
Finkelstein said that he hopes the book will encourage a research agenda that might explore such issues.
While Finkelstein might appear to have a comfortable perch from which to talk about all of the change in higher ed — he is a tenured professor — he knows something of what it means to shift an academic career. He was going after a Ph.D. in medieval literature in the early 1970s at Columbia University, when he decided the job market was bleak. He switched gears to studying higher education, earning a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1978. He started off the tenure track, at the University of Denver, and his position was eliminated when the university faced budget problems. So Finkelstein said he understands that these trends aren’t academic, but affect many people’s lives.
Schuster, a professor of education and public policy at Claremont Graduate University, has worked as both a scholar and administrator. Looking at academic careers today, he said that “there have never been guarantees of course, nor should there be. But in prevailing market conditions that in many fields are not especially favorable to new entrants, the likelihood is surely slimmer for carving out a ‘traditional’ career.”
An academic career still has many great advantages, he said, and some of the surveys cited in the book show that faculty members who do establish themselves feel good about their jobs. So the “prize” may still be worth going for, he said. To some extent, he added, academe may benefit because no one has it good — doctors and lawyers also complain about conditions not being as supportive as they were in the good old days. “Even if the conditions of academic work are not as rosy as they may have been, the competing professions for top talent appear not as attractive as they once were,” he said.
Continued in article
Before thinking about how to educate, one would
do well to clarify what results one wishes to obtain.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell
In The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer
writes “the way we diagnose our students’ condition will determine the kind
of remedy we offer.” Diagnosing the condition that stands between students
and their learning can be the most difficult, and most rewarding, aspect of
teaching, but it takes that dual mind. The ability to observe how students
are learning in the midst of engaged interaction allows an educator to learn
what lies beneath the classroom persona, and to avoid the easy, derogatory
cliché that turns off both teacher and student from the successful
interaction of learning. What I hope my students learned that day was that
neither my mockery nor theirs was acceptable intellectual behavior, that
engaging in a discussion required respect from, and respect for, for all the
"Navigating Whitewater," by Amy L. Wink, Inside Higher Ed, April 25, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/04/25/wink
What is mastery learning?
April 24, 2006 message from Lim Teoh [bsx302@COVENTRY.AC.UK]
I am a Malaysian but currently teaching in the UK. Please forgive me if I failed to express myself clearly in English.
I just joined the discussion list months ago and found a lot of useful information for both my research and teaching career development. My sincere thanks to AECM.
As I plan to start my PhD study by end of this year, I would like to ask for your help to get some references to my research topic. I am interested in mastery learning theory and programmed instruction; I'll research into the application of these theories to accounting education. I aim to explore how the accounting knowledge can be disseminated or transferred more effectively to a large group of students.
Are there any useful databases or websites that could help me to start with this PhD reseach? Is this research topic outdated or inappropriate for me to proceed further?
Looking forward to receiving your advice and guidance.
Coventry University United Kingdom
April 24, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Here are some possible links that might help:
Differences between "popular teacher" versus "master teacher" versus "mastery learning" versus "master educator" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#Teaching
Also see “Mastery Learning” by http://www.humboldt.edu/~tha1/mastery.html
This provides references to the classical literature on learning theory by Benjamin Bloom.
One of the most extensive accounting education experiments with mastery learning took place under an Accounting Education Change Commission Grant at Kansas State University. I don't think the experiment was an overwhelming success and, to my knowledge, has not been implemented in other accounting programs:
To find a comprehensive list of references, feed in “Benjamin Bloom” and “Learning” terms into the following links:
Google Scholar --- http://scholar.google.com/advanced_scholar_search?hl=en&lr=
Windows Live Academic --- http://academic.live.com/
Google Advanced Search --- http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en
You might also be interested in metacognitive learning --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/265wp.htm
You can also read about asynchronous learning at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm
"Exclusive Q&A interview with Hamid Mir Pakistani journalist who met bin Laden on fate of his country," WorldNetDaily, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49966
More evidence of al-Qaida nukes --- http://www.g2bulletin.com/
Gadgets for the Lazy
Wired News, April 27, 2006 --- http://blog.wired.com/lazygadgets/
Stay Clear of Foreign Lotteries
They say you can't win if you don't play, but when it comes to foreign lotteries, you'll definitely lose. Americans lose tens of millions of dollars this way each year.
Elizabeth Leamy, "Don't Get Fooled by Foreign Lotteries," ABC News, April 14, 2006 --- http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Business/story?id=1897591&page=1&gma=true
Bob Jensen's threads on consumer frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on April 26, 2006
"Protecting Your Bones: New Evidence Helps Clarify The Benefits of Calcium," by Tara Parker-Pope, The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2006; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/health_journal.html
After a widely followed study earlier this year cast doubts on the benefits of calcium for bone health, women have been wondering what to do with their calcium pills. Throw them out or keep taking them?
A new calcium study published today, along with new insights from the earlier research, are starting to clear up the confusion. The verdict: Calcium works, but only if you take it regularly.
The latest calcium news comes from an Australian study of 1,460 women older than 70, reported in today's Archives of Internal Medicine. In their main finding, the Australian researchers say there was no statistically significant benefit to using calcium. However, that's not the end of the story.
It turned out that only 57% of the women had continued to take their pills during the five-year study period. When researchers looked at just the women who did consistently take calcium, there was actually a 34% reduction in overall fracture risk. That finding reinforces other data that have shown consistent use of calcium really does help women lower their risk for fractures, a significant health risk for aging women.
"It was a bit of a surprise and a bit disappointing to discover that the effect was so dependent on compliance," says study author Richard L. Prince, associate professor at the School of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia. Patients need to make their calcium regimen a life-long habit "to get the full treatment effect."
Typically, looking just at study participants who take their pills can be misleading because those people might be more health-conscious and healthier to start with. The Australian researchers analyzed the data and found that there were no meaningful differences in the health status of the calcium users and the placebo group who took their pills consistently. That means the lower risk of fracture shown in the calcium group likely was real.
What's so striking about the latest calcium study is how similar it is to some of the data that emerged in February from the calcium study of the Women's Health Initiative. The main finding of that study, which involved 36,000 postmenopausal women, also was that calcium offered no real benefit to bone health. The results sparked widespread news stories questioning whether postmenopausal women should adhere to federal guidelines recommending 1,200 milligrams of daily calcium.
But WHI researchers now say the data have been largely misinterpreted by the public. Although the overall group didn't benefit, the results were skewed by the fact that the study included women under 60, who generally aren't at risk for fractures. Many women in the placebo group were taking calcium supplements on the side. By the end of the study, only 59% of the women were consistently taking the study pills.
All of these problems clouded the data, making the trends that emerged in certain groups even more remarkable. Women over age 60 in the calcium group were 21% less likely to suffer a hip fracture than women in the placebo group. The benefits were even higher among just those women who took their pills regularly. Across all age groups, those women had a 29% lower risk of hip fracture. And among all age groups and compliance levels, women who weren't taking calcium supplements before the study lowered their hip fracture risk by 30%. A hip fracture is a serious health concern that almost always requires surgery, and can lead to permanent disability and even death.
"I heard women saying, 'That's it. This study says [calcium] isn't important and I should throw them out,'" says Andrea LaCroix, professor of epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and co-author of the WHI calcium study. "But that's the wrong take home message. I think there are so many things about this trial that support the guidelines to get at least 1,200 milligrams a day."
Continued in article
Scottish health service issues instructions in 'Good Defecation Dynamics'
"Are you sitting comfortably?" by Alan Hamilton, London Times,
April 29, 2006 ---
He says back surgery should be a last resort because the after-effects could cause chronic pain.
"A Doctor Guards His Back," The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2006; Page D1
Like many people with back pain, Ray Lagger, a neurosurgeon in Mountain View, Calif., prefers low-impact exercises like swimming. But Dr. Lagger takes extra steps to minimize strain: He wears a mask and snorkel to avoid lifting his head out of the water repeatedly. He also uses fins to strengthen his legs without tiring his back.
Dr. Lagger, who specializes in preventing and treating back pain and injury, suffered a badly herniated disk two years ago. Now he sleeps only on firm mattresses and avoids lying on his stomach because it puts strain on the lower back. When traveling, he puts pillows behind his lower back during flights for better lumbar support.
For his older patients, Dr. Lagger recommends calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, a serious disease that can cause compression fractures in the spine.
He says back surgery should be a last resort because the after-effects could cause chronic pain.
Paralysis Cure Worth Waiting For? It's hard to wait if you're
Treatments for paralysis and other ailments in foreign countries are tempting for those facing a lifetime of dependence on others. But here's why it might be better to wait before jetting off to China.
Steven Edwards, "Paralysis Cure Worth Waiting For," Wired News, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70710-0.html?tw=wn_index_4
Will daily working of crossword puzzles and similar mental exercise deter the rate of cognitive decline in older brains?
The last two paragraphs below are important.
"Oops! Mental Training, Crosswords Fail to Slow Decline of Aging Brain," by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/science_journal.html
If you thought recent clinical trials of reduced-fat diets and breast cancer, or calcium/vitamin D and hip fractures, were disappointing when the intervention failed to live up to its billing, you haven't seen studies of whether mental training slows the rate of cognitive decline resulting from aging.
The largest such study, called Active, was launched in 1998 and is still going. It trained 2,832 adults, aged 65 years old to 94, in memory, reasoning or visual attention and perception. Disappointment ensued. Though the trainees did better on the skill they practiced, that didn't translate to improvement on the others (memory training didn't sharpen reasoning, for instance).
Worse, when the trainees were tested years later, performance fell more than it did in the untrained group, according to a new analysis by Timothy Salthouse of the University of Virginia, a veteran of studies on aging and cognition. That probably reflects the fact that if performance rises it has further to fall, he says.
But there is a larger issue. "There is no convincing empirical evidence that mental activity slows the rate of cognitive decline," he concludes from an exhaustive review of decades of studies. "The research I reviewed is just not consistent with the idea that engaging in mentally stimulating activities as you age prevents or slows cognitive decline."
Many scientists, not to mention the rest of us, believe it does. The "mental exercise" hypothesis has been around since 1920, and studies find that higher mental activity -- more hours per week spent reading, doing crossword puzzles, learning a language or the like -- is associated with better cognitive function. That has spawned the idea that, to keep your brain young(ish), you should partake of intellectual challenges.
But this logic has a hole big enough to drive a truck through. Just because older adults who are more mentally active are sharper than peers who are cognitive couch potatoes doesn't mean mental activity in old age raises cognitive performances, let alone slows the rate of decline. To conclude that it does confuses correlation with causation.
Consider an alternative that is gaining scientific support. Say you enter old age (by which I mean your 30s, when mental functioning starts heading south, accelerating in your 50s) with a "cognitive reserve" -- a cushion of smarts. If so, you are likely to be able to remember appointments, balance a checkbook and understand Medicare Part D (OK, maybe not) well into your 60s and 70s. But not because your brain falls apart more slowly. Instead, you started off so far above the threshold where impaired thinking and memory affect your ability to function that normal decline leaves you still all right.
The Active study isn't the only reason scientists are rethinking the use-it-and-you-won't-lose-it idea. In the Seattle Longitudinal Study, older adults received five hours of training on spatial rotation (what would a shape look like if it turned?) or logic (given three patterns, which of four choices comes next?). As in Active, people got better on what they practiced.
But seven years later, their performance had declined just as steeply (though, again, from a higher starting point) as the performance of people with no training, scientists reported last year. That supports the cognitive reserve idea -- if you enter middle age with a good memory and reasoning skills you stay sharp longer -- not the mental-exercise hypothesis.
Even in the most mentally engaged elderly -- chess experts, professors, doctors -- mental function declines as steeply as in people to whom mental exercise means choosing which TV show to watch. Again, profs and docs enter old age with a brain functioning so far above the minimum that even with the equal rate of decline they do better than folks with no cognitive cushion.
Crossword puzzles do not live up to the hope people invest in them, either. Age-related decline is very similar in people whether or not they wrestled with 24 Downs, Prof. Salthouse and his colleagues find in a recent study. There is "no evidence" that puzzle fans have "a slower rate of age-related decline in reasoning," he says.
Evaluating use-it-and-you-won't-lose-it in a new journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science, he ends on a grim note: There is "little scientific evidence that engagement in mentally stimulating activities alters the rate of mental aging." He regards the belief as "more of an optimistic hope than an empirical reality."
But don't write off mental exercise yet. True, neither one-time training nor regular mental challenges such as crosswords slow the rate of cognitive decline. But they do show that "older adults can be made to perform better on almost anything they can be trained on," says Michael Marsiske of the University of Florida, who helped run the Active study. "We're still detecting differences seven years after the training."
In practical terms, although mental function continues to decline even after mental training, the latter can give old brains enough of a boost that they nevertheless remain higher functioning than untrained brains. A number of scientists think they understand what kind of training provides the biggest, most enduring boost. Next week, I'll look at their ideas.
"Genetic Clues to Alcoholism (or Why Mice Drink) A study of the brain genetics of alcoholism in mice is unraveling the secrets of this disease in humans," by Katherine Bourzac, MIT's Technology Review, April 21, 2006 --- http://126.96.36.199/read_article.aspx?id=16724&ch=biotech
Researchers led by University of Texas at Austin neurobiologist Susan Bergeson analyzed gene expression data from mice bred for their alcohol preference -- some were teetotalers, others preferred a 10-percent ethanol solution in their water bottles. The researchers examined gene expression across the entire brain of the mice. They found that 3,800 genes differ in expression levels between teetotaler and alcohol-loving mice. In particular, 75 of these genes seem to be associated with the mice's penchant for more or less alcohol. And 36 of the genes are in stretches of the human genome that have been implicated in alcoholism.
The study combined research from scientists who are members of an NIH coalition called the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism (INIA), and include researchers at the Oregon Health Sciences University, the University of Colorado, Scripps Research Institute, and the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Psychologists and geneticists hope that information about a patient's genetic risk of alcoholism could provide better-tailored treatments. "If you knew why [your patient] was an alcoholic on the neurobiological level, that might help you," says Jonathan Flint, a psychogeneticist at Oxford University's Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics.
But so far scientists have been stymied by alcoholism's complexity. "Alcoholism is at its root...almost a canonical example of a complex genetic disease," says Robert Williams, geneticist and professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Risk for alcoholism probably comes from several different genes that each play a small part, he says, and an individual alcoholic's disease is probably caused by different combinations of these genes. This is likely the case because alcohol can interfere with so many chemical pathways in the brain. While many addictive drugs, such as cocaine, have a single target in the brain, ethanol is a "teeny little molecule that can wriggle its way into every network [and] has effects just about everywhere," says Williams.
Continued in article
How to digitize and organize the hundreds of old pictures in your attic
"Kodak Focuses on Sifting Pix," by Seán Captain, Wired News, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70740-0.html?tw=wn_index_6
Eastman Kodak showed off new technology Tuesday designed to help shutterbugs deal with mountains of images accumulating in their photo archives and on their hard drives.
New hardware and software still in development digitizes old snapshots and extracts information from photos in order to automatically organize them. Kodak declined to say when these technologies will show up in products, although the interfaces appeared rather polished during Tuesday's press conference, which marked the fifth birthday of the company's EasyShare docking digital camera.
The first new technology, currently nicknamed "Scan the World," is designed to digitize old photos quickly and easily.
Continued in article
Type in a word to find its rhymes, synonyms, definitions, and more
Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Dictionaries
Bob Jensen's links to electronic literature are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm
Business Week just published its choice of the top 50 undergraduate business programs in the United States. What are the Top 20 Choices?
"The Best Undergraduate B-Schools," Business Week, May 8, 2006 --- http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_19/b3983401.htm
Measuring Merit It's the kind of personal attention that landed Wharton at the top of BusinessWeek's inaugural ranking of the nation's best undergraduate business programs. But the school's merits go well beyond that. To succeed in the ranking, which incorporates five measures -- of student engagement, postgraduation outcomes, and academic quality -- schools must be firing on all cylinders. Clearly, Wharton is, landing in the Top 10 on four of the five ranking measures. Small classes, talented faculty, top-flight recruiting -- and a four-year format that allows its ultracompetitive students to delve deeply into business fundamentals -- lofted Wharton to the No. 1 position. "They are extremely accomplished students," Souleles says. "It doesn't get any better."
Wharton celebrates its 125th anniversary this year and for much of its history has been considered among the nation's finest. Like many top schools, it has the best of both worlds: a high-quality undergraduate business program and an MBA program ranked No. 3 in BusinessWeek's 2004 "Best B-Schools" list. Indeed, nine of the Top 10 undergraduate programs have highly ranked MBA programs as well.
In many ways then, Wharton's showing among the undergraduate schools simply confirms its preeminent status. But the new ranking also shows just how much good company Wharton has these days. Schools that had never been thought of as top business programs, such as No. 18 Lehigh University's College of Business & Economics, turn out to deserve more recognition. And schools that have always enjoyed a solid reputation, such as Emory University's Goizueta Business School and the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, come in among the top five -- and in many ways rival Wharton for the mantle of best undergraduate B-school in America.
MBA-like Respect That fact underscores a curious transformation that has taken place in higher education in recent years. As the economy rebounded after the dot-com bust, students have been drawn to college business programs, and recruiters, seeking to ramp up their diminished ranks of middle managers, have followed. Under increased pressure from students and recruiters, business schools have revamped their offerings, putting more emphasis on specialized classes, real-world experience, and soft skills such as leadership. Once a refuge for students with poor grades and modest ambitions, many undergraduate business programs now get MBA-like respect. For many graduates, these programs are now so good that the MBA is almost beside the point, an academic credential for career switchers and those with corner office dreams but unnecessary for mere mortals.
The undergraduate business degree is now clearly on the path to respectability. With 54% of employers planning recruiting trips to undergraduate campuses in 2006 and undergraduate hiring expected to surge by 14.5% -- its third consecutive double-digit increase -- starting salaries for grads in all majors are rising. But business majors have fared better than any other discipline, with starting salaries up more than 49% since 1996, compared with 39% for engineering students and 29% for liberal arts grads, according to the National Association of Colleges & Employers. The typical business grad now earns $43,313, about $8,000 less than engineering students can expect. But for undergraduates at top schools, the average can easily exceed $50,000.
Hot to Hire Even with rising salaries, recruiters are relying on undergraduate degree holders to fill more jobs. In just three years, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT ) has increased its recruiting on college campuses, including some MBAs, by 60%. Defense contractor Raytheon Co. (RTN ) plans to hire nearly 1,200 new graduates this year, and 3 out of 4 will be from undergraduate programs. To keep the talent pipeline full, Raytheon maintains close relationships with 26 campuses, assigning executives to each school to work with key professors to identify the best job candidates. Even so, with Raytheon's business growing at a double-digit clip, the company plans to recruit from 120 schools this year, according to Keith Pedon, senior vice-president for human resources.
It's not just Raytheon, either. When the Big East career fair took place at New York's Madison Square Garden in March, there were 81 companies pitching to 1,000 students, and organizers had to turn away 50 more companies for lack of space.
For a better understanding of the shifting landscape of undergraduate business education, BusinessWeek last year undertook an extraordinary research project. The goal: to rank the best college business programs in America. Among other things, the project included a survey with Boston's Cambria Consulting Inc. of nearly 100,000 business majors at 84 of the best U.S. colleges and universities, a second survey of college recruiters, and a third survey of the business programs themselves. If one thing emerges from the data, it's that the programs are, in a sense, all grown up and evolving in ways that mimic the developmental arc of the MBA itself.
Like graduate B-schools, the undergraduate programs are separating into two clearly discernible tiers, with the 50 programs in our ranking standing head and shoulders above the rest. They're also dividing along the same philosophical split that now partitions the MBA world. There are those, including many at or near the top of the list, that are following a rigorously academic model, with a heavy emphasis on economics, statistics, finance, and accounting. Programs like Wharton's fall into this group, which generally do not require -- or give credit for -- internships, even though many students get them on their own. They also use MBA teaching methods such as case studies, simulations, and team projects.
But at the great majority of business programs, students are exposed to less business theory -- too little, in the view of some experts -- and a heavy dose of practical training. A quarter century ago, virtually every business program in America followed the latter model. At top schools that's no longer the case. "What you're seeing is a polarization," says Barbara E. Kahn, director of Wharton's undergraduate business division. "This is different from what it was 25 years ago. It wasn't the academic experience it is today."
Few schools typify the scholarly approach more than Wharton, which landed in the No. 1 spot largely on the strength of its academic quality. But the same could be said for any of the schools near the top of the list. At No. 2 University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, students said the two-year format left them two additional years to explore the school's numerous offerings but made for a tough course load in the junior year and a pressure-cooker atmosphere in which many thrived. At No. 3 Notre Dame, rigorous classes requiring teamwork skills and an intimate knowledge of economics, calculus, and corporate strategy earned the school a high grade for teaching quality. The curriculum works ethics into most classes, requires that half of all coursework be in nonbusiness subjects, and emphasizes group projects.
One reason undergraduate business programs are getting better is because the labor market is demanding it. To make graduates desirable to recruiters, many business programs have begun making changes. Several schools that had two-year programs, including No. 21 University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, have begun admitting freshmen in recent years. Such moves permit students to take demanding business courses earlier, making them more competitive internship candidates. Students are eagerly embracing these and other changes. When No. 15 Washington University's Olin School of Business, a four-year program, began offering a career management elective to sophomores in 2004, more than 70 students showed up, and a second section had to be added.
Continued in article
There are other rankings of programs by other newspapers and magazines. I agree with the AACSB in arguing that these rankings are superficial, misleading, and dysfunctional. You can read more about other rankings and problems with these rankings at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#BusinessSchoolRankings
Second Class Citizens in Corporate Governance
What to do when you can't vote out management.
And Does stock price trump governance?
From Jim Mahar's blog on April 27, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
. . . the Washington Post has a very interesting look at another firm with high insider control but with much less criticism: Google. By Allan Sloan in Monday's paper:
"Consider, if you will, the differing ways the Street is treating the New York Times Co. and Google, both of which have high-voting stock for insiders and low-voting stock for regular old public shareholders"
So what's different?
"Stock price. Times Co. stock has been setting new multiyear lows and is depressed even by the depressed standards of newspaper stocks. Google, by contrast, is up about 30 percent in the past month and more than 400 percent from its initial public offering price less than two years ago."
This idea that stock price dominates all of else does have support in the financial literature (for instance it is broadly consistent with Jensen's "Agency Costs of Overvalued Equity" --- http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=480421
Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at
Harvard Novelist Says Copying Was Unintentional
Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore accused of plagiarizing parts of her recently published chick-lit novel, acknowledged yesterday that she had borrowed language from another writer's books, but called the copying "unintentional and unconscious." The book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life," was recently published by Little, Brown to wide publicity. On Sunday, The Harvard Crimson reported that Ms. Viswanathan, who received $500,000 as part of a deal for "Opal" and one other book, had seemingly plagiarized language from two novels by Megan McCafferty, an author of popular young-adult books.
Dinitia Smith, "Harvard Novelist Says Copying Was Unintentional," The New York Times, April 25, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/25/books/25book.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Her Publisher is Not Convinced
A day after Kaavya Viswanathan admitted copying parts of her chick-lit novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life," from another writer's works, the publisher of the two books she borrowed from called her apology "troubling and disingenuous." On Monday, Ms. Viswanathan, in an e-mail message, said that her copying from Megan McCafferty's "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings," both young adult novels published by Crown, a division of Random House, had been "unintentional and unconscious." But in a statement issued today, Steve Ross, Crown's publisher, said that, "based on the scope and character of the similarities, it is inconceivable that this was a display of youthful innocence or an unconscious or unintentional act." He said that there were more than 40 passages in Ms. Viswanathan's book "that contain identical language and/or common scene or dialogue structure from Megan McCafferty's first two books."
Dinitia Smith, Publisher Rejects Young Novelist's Apology," The New York Times, April 26, 2006 --- Click Here
April 27, 2006 reply from Linda Kidwell, University of Wyoming [lkidwell@UWYO.EDU]
Unlike the purchase/pooling debate or derivatives, this one is something I know a fair bit about!
First, Harvard does not have an honor code, though they debated one in the 1980s. Nor does Harvard belong to the Center for Academic Integrity, despite the fact that most of the other Ivy Leagues, all the seven sisters except Radcliffe, and over 390 universities (including a few in Canada and Australia) do. That being said, the Harvard BUSINESS School does have a code, voted in overwhelmingly by its own students several years ago.
There is a tremendous variety in scope of honor codes. Some address only academic issues while others have broader coverage. I remember my senior year at Smith two fellow seniors were expelled during their final semester for putting sugar in the gas tank of another student. This was adjudicated under the honor code there. However other campuses would handle such a thing through their students affairs or residence life departments (or of course the police could be called in).
For those unfamiliar with honor codes, Melendez, McCabe & Trevino, and my papers have used these criteria for an honor code:
1. unproctored exams
2. some kind of signed pledge that students will not cheat
3. a peer judiciary
4. reportage requirements, i.e., students should not tolerate violations of academic integrity and have an obligation to report them
Any one or a combination of these criteria must be in place for a true honor code. McCabe's research has shown that honor codes cut cheating about in half.
The clearing house, if you will, for honor codes in place in the U.S. is the Center for Academic Integrity, at www.academicintegrity.org
Now back to Bob's question, pretending it took place at a university with an honor code. Did this plagiarism take place in the context of coursework? I believe the answer in this case is no. Therefore it would depend on whether the honor code was written to encompass activities outside of class. Some codes would capture this incident under the general category of behavior that brings disrepute to the university (all sorts of things, including well-known athletes that behave in a drunken manner in public, debate teams that trash a hotel room, you name it). Others would have no jurisdiction in this case because it did not take place in class, nor did she do it as part of an organized university group or function.
Honor codes are a wonderful thing if students are socialized into accepting them early. They can really make cheating a major social gaffe, such that many students who might cheat elsewhere wouldn't take the risk. Perhaps this woman would not have committed this plagiarism if she had been at a university with an honor code culture. I still remember how unnerved I was (and perhaps how naive) when I was first a teaching assistant at LSU. I couldn't believe all the precautions, including leaving bags at the front, removing hats, spacing people apart, requiring photo identification on their desks, pacing the rows, etc. I had never even been proctored during an exam before, so it was really a culture shock!
I could go on and on, as this is a favorite topic of mine, but I'll save more for another day. :-)
Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm
Duke’s Ever-Evolving iPod Initiative
Given some of its recent publicity, this might not have been the best time for Duke University to announce that it was altering a highly popular student benefit. But Duke’s plan to stop giving students free iPods through its path-setting Duke Digital Initiative and to instead lend them or sell them the devices for a highly subsidized $99 has even struck most students as a logical next step in the maturation of the educational technology program. The surprising headline on an editorial in Duke’s student newspaper: “A Smart Change.”
"Duke’s Ever-Evolving iPod Initiative," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/28/ipod
"GM Chief Apologizes to Holders For Series of Accounting Errors," by Lee Hawkins Jr., The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2006, Page A2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114625862781139134.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
General Motors Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, in a letter to shareholders, apologized for a series of accounting errors and promised the auto maker is "working diligently to get things moving in the right direction -- quickly" following a huge loss last year.
In a letter to shareholders released Friday in conjunction with the firm's proxy statement, the CEO said GM has "a renewed commitment to excellence and transparency in our financial reporting." The proxy also disclosed that his 2005 compensation fell by nearly 50%.
GM faces six separate Securities and Exchange Commission investigations of accounting problems and has received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in connection with its accounting for payments received from suppliers.
"While I will not offer excuses, I do apologize on behalf of our management team, and assure that we will strive to deserve your trust," Mr. Wagoner wrote in the letter. "The fact is that errors were made, and we can't change that. What we have done is disclose our mistakes and work as diligently as we can to fix them."
The GM board's compensation committee expressed support for Mr. Wagoner despite the company's $10.6 billion loss last year.
"Recognizing that a large part of these losses resulted from GM's significant legacy cost burden and the difficulty of adjusting structural costs in line with falling revenues, we noted Mr. Wagoner's strong direction and steady leadership in systematically and aggressively implementing a plan to restore the Corporation and North American operations to profitability and positive cash flow," the committee said in the proxy.
GM reported that Mr. Wagoner received $5.48 million in total pay last year, down nearly 50% from his total 2004 pay. Mr. Wagoner's 2005 salary remained unchanged at $2.2 million, but he didn't receive a bonus for the year, while he received a $2.46 million bonus in 2004. GM previously announced that GM's top officers took pay cuts and received no bonuses for 2005.
Despite the compensation cuts, Mr. Wagoner received 400,000 options valued at $2.88 million in 2005. The year before, he got the same amount of options, which were valued at $5.14 million when they were granted. Neither Mr. Wagoner nor other top GM executives exercised options in 2005. Other GM executives took similar cuts in total pay.
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Is any CEO really entitled to over $6 billion in gains on employee stock options?
"Calpers Puts Pressure on Board of UnitedHealth: Holder Demands a Meeting Over Option-Grant Timing; A Threat to Withhold Votes," by Vanessa Fuhrmans, The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2006; Page A3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114599506269535599.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
The California Public Employees' Retirement System is demanding a conference call with the compensation committee of the board of UnitedHealth Group Inc. over its disclosure practices, and is threatening to withhold votes for board directors seeking re-election.
In a letter sent to James A. Johnson, chairman of the UnitedHealth board's compensation committee, Calpers board President Rob Feckner demanded a conference call ahead of Tuesday's UnitedHealth shareholders meeting to discuss what he called "serious threats to the credibility, governance and performance of UnitedHealth." Specifically, the letter criticized the company's failure to explain how it determined stock option grant dates for Chief Executive William McGuire and a handful of other executives in past years, and its "inconsistent" disclosure of its option-granting program.
The move by Calpers increases the scrutiny of the process by which Dr. McGuire received some of the $1.6 billion in unrealized gains he holds in company stock options. Calpers holds 6.55 million shares, or 0.5%, of UnitedHealth's outstanding stock. The pension fund, known for its strong stances on corporate governance, could spur other investors to join in its criticism. The move also increases pressure on UnitedHealth's board to more fully explain its past option-award practices soon, even though its board only launched a probe into them earlier this month.
Continued in article
The New York Times article on this is at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/26/business/26calpers.html
Bob Jensen's updates on frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Flashback from The Wall Street Journal,
April 26, 1988
To hear corporate raiders tell it, they -- not the corporate managers they often seek to unseat -- are the true creators of shareholder wealth in America. Like a platoon of real-life but unsullied Gordon Gekkos, they argue that they make everyone rich.
Why it's easy to hate tort lawyers having questionable ethics
"Litigosis," The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2006; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114601718927536073.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
The federal government recently signed a deal with respirator manufacturers to stockpile 60 million disposable masks, in case of a terrorist attack or global pandemic. But Americans should know why the feds may not be getting the hundreds of millions of additional masks they need to be fully prepared: the silicosis tort scam.
Most recent silicosis news has been good, as courts have begun to expose phony claims ginned up as a payday by unethical doctors and lawyers. Yet thousands of bogus silicosis suits are still in court, and they are now threatening to inflict the same sort of economic and financial damage as did their precursor asbestos suits. This time the litigation targets are companies vital to public safety.
They include companies making N95 masks -- inexpensive, disposable respirators that are a mainstay of emergency first responders, as well as industrial and health-care workers. Tort attorneys are now claiming the masks had defective designs or warnings and are responsible for a near epidemic of silicosis, a dust-related disease. Not coincidentally, this new flood of silicosis litigation began at precisely the time Congress began talking about cutting off the asbestos cash cow with tort reform.
The Coalition for Breathing Safety, an industry group, reports that between 2000 and 2004 plaintiffs attorneys filed more than 326,000 claims against its five members. Some of these are asbestos-related, although the recent deluge has been all silicosis. One manufacturer (which prefers not to be named lest it become a bigger target) says that prior to 2002 it faced about 200 silicosis claims a year. In 2003-4, it got hit with 29,000.
Medical statistics alone suggest that the vast majority of these suits are phony. According to the Centers for Disease Control, silicosis deaths nationwide declined 93% from 1968 to 2002 and today account for fewer than 200 average deaths annually in the U.S.
Respirators are also the only safety equipment fully regulated by the government. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sets the design standards for masks. It tests the products in its own lab, a standard that is higher than even that applied to the drug industry, which conducts its own medical trials. The regulators also approve the warning-label language attached to the devices.
This explains why respirator makers have yet to lose a case in court. Yet this matters little to plaintiffs attorneys, whose strategy is to assault companies with so many claims that they can no longer afford to defend themselves and thus must settle. The industry coalition estimates its members have spent the equivalent of 90% of their 2004 net income fighting suits in recent years. One company, Mine Safety Appliances of Pittsburgh, has dropped out of the industrial disposable market. The rest are choosing not to invest more to meet rising demand, unable to see the point of making more low-margin products amid high-margin litigation risks.
Continued in article
In Higher Education: Open Source Is the Answer. Now What Was the
An invitation for you to listen in and speak out
April 25, 2006 message from Carnegie President [firstname.lastname@example.org]
A different way to think about ... open education A while back there was an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Open Source Is the Answer. Now What Was the Question?" The question, according to Toru Iiyoshi, is "How can open education's tools and resources demonstrably improve education quality?" And in this month's Carnegie Perspectives, Toru, who directs the Foundation's work using new media and emerging technologies, laments that this question is not asked nearly enough.
Toru challenges his fellow advocates for open education to tackle three challenges that stand in the way of real impact on teaching and learning: the need to couple educational tools and resources with information that allows others to use them effectively; the need to bring more rewards to the work of documenting and building on shared educational work; and the need to build larger collaborative communities for sharing and building knowledge. The changes Toru is calling for reflect a need to transform academic culture in fundamental ways, making this a compelling piece even for those who haven't yet thought much about open source tools and resources.
As usual, you can engage publicly with the author and read and respond to what others have to say through Carnegie Conversations at:
However, if you would prefer that your comments not be read by others, you may still respond directly to Toru through: CarnegiePresident@carnegiefoundation.org
If you would like to unsubscribe to Carnegie Perspectives, use the same address and merely type unsubscribe in the subject line of your email to us.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Lee S. Shulman
President The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Bob Jensen's thread on open source education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm
Related documents are linked at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm
How to lie with statistics
"The truth on crime," Ottawa Sun, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.ottawasun.com/Comment/Editorial/2006/04/24/1547659.html
Before we discuss the Conservatives’ anti-crime package proposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week, we’re going to give you a figure that will stop you in your tracks.
It’s that violent crime in Canada today is 35% higher than it was just 20 years ago.
You read that right. It’s from last year’s Statistics Canada report on the crime rate.
But how is this possible, you’re asking? Haven’t we constantly been told by the “hug a thug” crowd that crime is going down and thus there is no need to toughen our laws?
Well, what liberal politicians, academics and pundits have been doing is quoting the statistics very selectively. It’s true that after peaking in 1991, violent crime has been dropping, slowly. Today it’s down 10% from a decade ago.
But those who want to coddle criminals don’t tell you that this very slight decline has in no way matched the explosion in violent crime that started in the 1960s and continued for 30 years. The real story is that violent crime today is at levels that would have been considered appallingly high only two decades ago.
In response to this reality, Harper this week proposed three measures.
Continued in article
How to lie with statistics
"Measuring the Child-Porn Trade," by Carl Bialak, The Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/numbers_guy.html
Unlike, say, the soft-drink or airline industries, the child-pornography industry doesn't report its annual sales to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Yet in a press release ahead of a recent House of Representatives hearing aimed at curbing the industry, Texas Republican Joe Barton said, "Child pornography is apparently a multibillion … my staff analysis says $20 billion-a-year business. Twenty billion dollars." Some press reports said the figure applied only to the industry's online segment. The New York Times reported, "the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet is a $20 billion industry that continues to expand in the United States and abroad," citing witnesses at the hearing. (The Online Journal's Real Time column also quoted the estimate from the hearing.)
. . .
Mr. Allen faxed me an NCMEC paper that cites the McKinsey study in placing the child-porn industry at $6 billion in 1999, and $20 billion in 2004.
. . .
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told me in an email, "The FBI has not stated the $20 billion figure... . I have asked many people who would know for sure if we have attached the $20 billion number to this problem. I have scoured our Web site, too. Nothing!"
. . .
This isn't the first number from the NCMEC that struck me as questionable.
. . .
As Congress debates whether to pass new laws specifically outlawing online gambling, a recent poll appears to show that the public is strongly against the legislative effort: Almost 80% of Americans oppose a ban, according to the survey.
The poll was conducted by well-known polling firm Zogby International on behalf of an online gambling trade group. As I've written in the past, such sponsored research warrants extra scrutiny from readers, though the fact that the poll was commissioned by a special-interest group isn't by itself a reason to dismiss it.
. . .
The phrasing of that question seems to make an assumption (the impossibility of regulation) that could have influenced responses. Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, told me that the question was deliberately designed to "see how different arguments played." He said he wouldn't use the response to that particular question, which he called "projective," to determine whether people support legalizing online gambling. "In any release we do, we are fair and balanced, but any single projective question may not be," Mr. Taylor said, adding that the poll wasn't sponsored.
Smell the roses at the movies: I wonder if the bad guys have B.O.
Two movie theaters in Japan began offering a novel sensory experience to audiences Saturday: smells synchronized to a Hollywood adventure film.
"The Scent of a Movie," MIT's Technology Review, April 24, 2006 ---
Yale is set to ditch Taliban Man and may hire a notorious
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi's luck is running out. Eight weeks ago the Taliban diplomat turned special Yale student made a media splash on the cover of the New York Times magazine in which he proclaimed: "In some ways I'm the luckiest person in the world, I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." But the continued outrage over the news that an unrepentant former official of a criminal regime whose remnants are still killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan is part of the Ivy League is catching up with him. Yale is about to establish tougher standards for the program under which he is applying to become a degree-status sophomore next fall, and the consensus is that Mr. Hashemi won't measure up.
John Fund, "Cole Fire: Yale is set to ditch Taliban Man and may hire a notorious anti-Israel professor," The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008282
What makes medical insurance so expensive in Massachusetts?
Or the bigger question is whether this really meets the definition of "insurance."
The reason is called "Guaranteed Issue." You can wait until you need really expensive medical treatment before you take out a policy. I suspect this is the reason the state has such a high rate of uninsured. You need not pay for coverage until an urgent need arises to cash in. I wonder if ambulance drivers sell policies.
"Mitt's Market Misfire," The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2006; Page A14 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114583474291333641.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
How bad are Massachusetts' insurance regulations? One good indicator is that it's one of few states in which eHealthinsurance doesn't sell policies in the individual market. eHealthinsurance is an Internet insurance brokerage that makes it easy for people in most of the 50 states to find out what kind of coverage is being offered in their areas. We tried to price coverage in the Bay State and came up empty. So we called the company to ask why. "Guaranteed issue," was Chief Operating Officer Bob Fahlman's instantaneous reply.
Guaranteed issue is the name of a regulation that requires insurance companies to sell policies to all comers, even those who wait until they're sick to seek coverage. Naturally the requirement to accept those free riders makes insurance much more expensive for everyone else. It also means insurance companies aren't eager to be found by consumers, even though they are generally required to sell in the individual market in order to be able to offer coverage through employers. Yes, you read that right, they don't want customers.
Guaranteed issue is the name of a regulation that requires insurance companies to sell policies to all comers, even those who wait until they're sick to seek coverage. Naturally the requirement to accept those free riders makes insurance much more expensive for everyone else. It also means insurance companies aren't eager to be found by consumers, even though they are generally required to sell in the individual market in order to be able to offer coverage through employers. Yes, you read that right, they don't want customers.
So in Massachusetts, insurers hide, in part by refusing to pay commissions to brokers such as eHealthinsurance. Their prices are also a disincentive. An eHealthinsurance survey earlier this month found the Aetna HMO in Boston asking $1,719 a month to cover a young family of four, and $560 for one nine-year-old child.
The new Massachusetts health care legislation does little to address the root causes of this cost problem. Guaranteed issue is explicitly preserved. And while a new insurance regulation board could in theory do something about other costly mandates, it's not likely to do much in practice.
The $200 per month target price Governor Romney is talking about for the state's new mandatory insurance is higher than 80% of the individual policies eHealthinsurance reported in a study of 80,000 customers nationwide late last year. The range of average monthly premiums for individuals was as low as $98 in Michigan and as high as $245 in New Jersey and $379 in New York. The latter are the only two guaranteed-issue states in which eHealthinsurance sold individual policies during the study period, by the way. Massachusetts didn't make the cut.
We note all this because there's a far simpler way to begin tackling the problem of the uninsured than the Massachusetts path. To wit: Let the market start operating as it should. Companies like eHealthinsurance have already got a great infrastructure up and running and in many states consumers have real choices when it comes to health insurance products. States like New York and New Jersey, meanwhile, might try getting the regulators out of the way before following the Bay State in forcing people to buy needlessly expensive coverage.
"Answers to Your Photo Printing Questions: In Part 2 of our series, our expert goes to the hardware makers to get your questions answered," by Danny Allen of PC World via The Washington Post, April 25, 2006 --- Click Here
In this second installment of our special look at your printer questions answered by the vendors themselves, I move on to photo-related issues. These include questions about all-in-ones that print onto CDs and DVDs, minimizing photo edge cropping, and printing slides and gallery-quality prints.
If you've got questions about how to prevent ink smears, which multifunction printers support legal-size paper, which printers have 64-bit drivers, and wireless networking options, read Part 1, " If you've got questions about how to prevent ink smears, which multifunction printers support legal-size paper, which printers have 64-bit drivers, and wireless networking options, read Part 1, "Printer Makers Answer Your Urgent Questions ."
Note that some questions and responses in this column have been edited for brevity.
If you'd like to see whatPC Worldthought of many printer models, click on any of the following links to see a list of printers we've reviewed from that company: Brother , Canon , Dell , Epson , Hewlett-Packard , Lexmark , Oki Data Americas , Ricoh , Samsung , and Xerox .
Now let's look at the responses to your questions concerning professional and recreational photo printing.
I have been looking for a printer that is capable of printing large gicl #00026#233; e prints of my watercolors. Which printers can create gicl #00026#233; e prints and at what resolutions?
Upshot: "Gicl #00026#233; e" refers to high-resolution, large-format prints made with fade-resistant inks, often for commercial art sales. Below you'll find suggestions from the vendors I spoke to, but other companies such as Kodak and ColorSpan also offer commercial gicl #00026#233; e printing solutions.
You might also want to read my March column on You might also want to read my March column onprofessional photo printers .
Brother: Brother does not offer gicl #00026#233; e printers.
Canon: The Canon:TheimagePROGRAF iPF5000 is capable of printing at 2400 by 1200 dots per inch. This would be our only recommendation.
Continued in article
From The Washington Post on April 25, 2006
What is the name of the Internet-based
effort that placed more than 17,000 public domain books online to download?
A. Dewey Decimal Online
B. Classic e-Book Shelves
C. Project Gutenberg
D. Shakespeare's Trove
Bob Jensen's links to electronic literature are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm
Students are customizing their educations
"College, My Way," by Kate Zernike, The New York Times, April 23, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/23/education/edlife/zernike.html
It wasn't collegiate life as she once imagined it. But it wasn't so unconventional, either. These days, a majority of students take a similarly nomadic path to a degree; about 60 percent of students graduating from college attend more than one institution, a number that has risen steadily over at least the last two decades.
In large part, those numbers reflect the growing population of nontraditional-age students, adults who go to college later in life and often start at a two-year institution. But even traditional students like Ms. Madden — those who head to a four-year college right out of high school — are approaching the experience in a nontraditional way.
They transfer to get a more agreeable major or social life, or take classes at a college back home during the summer to get a leg up on the next year's credits. They take an online class, or earn credits during the year at a nearby community college where they find a required course cheaper, less demanding or at a more convenient hour. Or they do some of each.
College officials call it swirling, mix and match, cut and paste, grab and go. Whatever the term of art, it makes sense for the so-called millennial generation, students famously lacking in brand loyalty, used to having things their way, and can-do about changing anything they don't like. As with other commodities, students are looking for that magic combination of quality, affordability and convenience. They shun CD's to create their own iPod playlists; is it any surprise they shape their own course catalogs?
Continued in article
TIAA-CREF's Tumbling Share of College Retirement Funds
"A Wall Streeter Aims to Revive Handler of University Pensions: Sleepy TIAA-CREF Takes On A More Mercantile Focus Under Ex-Merrill Banker Fidelity and Vanguard Move In," by Tom Lauricella, The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114584239770433762.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
For nearly eight decades, TIAA-CREF was the big man on campus. It had a virtual monopoly on managing retirement plans for millions of college educators. Now it's being schooled by Wall Street in how to compete in the field it invented.
TIAA-CREF's share of its main market -- managing retirement funds for employees of universities -- has tumbled to 70% from essentially 100% in about a decade. The problem: While rivals innovated and clients demanded new services, TIAA-CREF's ways of doing business seemed frozen in time.
For the past three years, the task of reviving its fortunes has fallen to an unlikely leader for a firm founded as a nonprofit and steeped in the academic world. Former investment banker Herbert Allison, once a contender for the top post at Merrill Lynch & Co., arrived in late 2002 to transform the stodgy organization and go head-to-head with financial powerhouses such as Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab & Co. and AIG Valic, the retirement-plan arm of insurer American International Group Inc.
His plans at TIAA-CREF are ambitious. Mr. Allison, 62 years old, is launching an online brokerage arm. He is replacing a computer system so antiquated it's hard to find programmers to update it. (Mr. Allison jokes that it was "programmed in Aramaic.") To focus on the core business, he has dropped his predecessor's plan to market more to non-academics. In the biggest departure, he is hiring 500 financial advisers to persuade retiring university employees to keep their money at TIAA-CREF rather than roll it into a competitor's shop.
But missteps and controversies have hobbled the overhaul. In 2004, two members of the board of trustees caused a scandal when they went into a side business with TIAA-CREF's independent auditors. Criticized for a conflict of interest, they left the board. Then, a bid to upgrade the computer system in a hurry backfired on thousands of clients, some of whom didn't receive pension or other retirement-account payments for a time. Meanwhile, a program of steeply raising mutual-fund fees angered some clients and prompted fund-tracker Morningstar Inc. to accuse TIAA-CREF of "blatant disregard" for shareholders. (See related article).
Reactions like that could imperil one of TIAA-CREF's great strengths: the nonprofit's longtime reputation as being on the side of the little guy. "It doesn't seem right that they would turn this company into a Merrill Lynch. They're not as interested in the individual clients as they are in making profits," says Dick Benson, a retired math professor in Bellevue, Wash. Mr. Allison says the challenge is to execute a transformation "without the company losing its soul."
TIAA-CREF's main business is to contract with universities to handle the retirement money of their employees. Most of that money resides in two giant TIAA-CREF accounts, one invested in stocks and the other in bonds and real estate. Since the late 1990s, TIAA-CREF also has given these employees the option of several mutual funds that it runs. Today TIAA-CREF manages a massive $370 billion for 3.2 million active and retired university employees, as well as some employees at research and health-care institutions.
This is a tempting target for Wall Street firms that have built up big businesses managing retirement money for corporate employees and that offer lots of investment options. The 1990s explosion in popularity of do-it-yourself retirement plans such as the 401(k) has edged into the insular world of academia. There, transplants from the corporate world have been demanding more investment options. The result is an intensifying competition to manage a huge pool of retirement money -- some of it up for grabs as baby boomers retire -- that TIAA-CREF once had to itself.
Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate and philanthropist, in 1918 founded what would become TIAA-CREF, partly to help ease aging professors into retirement and open spots for younger people. The TIAA part of its name stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, and is the part that invests in bonds and real estate. CREF, or College Retirement Equities Fund, invests in stocks. TIAA-CREF as a whole is a nonprofit, though a couple of its diverse units are for-profit.
The company was a pioneer, making it possible for professors to switch jobs and take their pensions with them. They could do that in part because whatever college they moved to, TIAA-CREF would be in charge of retirement money there, as well. After World War II, when inflation became a concern, the organization combined stock investing with an insurance guarantee that holders would get their investment back if they died before retirement. It thus created the first variable annuity.
TIAA-CREF's nonprofit heritage and low management fees persuaded many it was on the side of the angels. Bolstering this image, it has offered people the chance to have their retirement money in "socially responsible" investments, such as firms with environmentally friendly policies. It also has sometimes used its large stockholdings to pressure companies on issues such as high executive pay.
But by the 1980s, TIAA-CREF was falling behind the times. For instance, it didn't offer a basic money-market account until late in the decade, after they had become common. In the 1990s, Fidelity, Vanguard Group and other large mutual-fund firms started making inroads on its campus business. Colleges were feeling pressure from employees to offer more choices for retirement money than just TIAA-CREF's limited lineup.
Then in 2002, one of its oldest clients, Stanford University, brought in Fidelity for a computer upgrade. Stanford wanted a better system to track money withheld from paychecks and to generate account statements. In a sign of TIAA-CREF's lack of awareness of its changing industry, it declined to help. Fidelity provided the computer system free. In the process, it made it more convenient for Stanford employees to invest with Fidelity.
Continued in article
"The Return of the Mommy Wars: Is a stay-at-home mom a traitor to feminism?" by Cathy Young, Reason Magazine, April 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/0604/cr.cy.the.shtml
After lying dormant for a while, the Mommy Wars reignited late last year with “Homeward Bound,” an article by the feminist legal scholar Linda Hirshman in the December American Prospect. Hirshman, who is not known for mincing words (she earned a spot in Bernard Goldberg’s book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America by declaring that women who leave work to raise children are choosing “lesser lives”), boldly assailed the truism that, when it comes to full-time mothering vs. careers, it’s a good thing for women to have a choice.
Hirshman surveyed 33 women whose wedding announcements had appeared in The New York Times during a three-week period in 1996. Of the 30 with children, she found, half were not employed and only five were working full-time.
Drawing on that and other studies, Hirshman argued that such choices by elite women are a primary reason for the dearth of women in the corridors of political and economic power. Instead of “reaping feminism’s promise of opportunity,” she wrote, these former lawyers and executives are in the kitchen baking apple pies.
While Hirshman conceded that those “expensively educated upper-class moms” seemed happy at home, she insisted that “what they do is bad for them [and] is certainly bad for society.” It’s bad for society, she argued, because it reinforces a “gendered ideology” of family roles, perpetuates male dominance in government and business, and deprives ambitious women of role models. It’s bad for the women who give up careers, Hirshman suggested, because they fall short of a good life, which includes “using one’s capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way,” “having enough autonomy to direct one’s own life,” and “doing more good than harm in the world.”
Continued in article
I never cared that Caitlin Flanagan calls
herself an at-home mother, even though she's a magazine writer with a staff
of helpers. But now she's using her battle with cancer to denounce feminism
and extol her traditional virtues -- and I've had it. Everyone knows Caitlin
Flanagan isn't a stay-at-home mother, she's an accomplished writer who plays
a stay-at-home mom in magazines and on TV. Right? Part of why I've never
gotten upset about Flanagan's pro-hearth and home shtick is that I've seen
it as just that, shtick. I'd read enough to know she had a full-time nanny
when her twin sons were infants and she was trying to be a novelist; then
she wrote about modern womanhood and family life for the Atlantic Monthly
after they hit preschool; now, with her boys in grade school, she's got a
great gig at the New Yorker. So how is she not a career woman who's also a
Joan Walsh, "The happy hypocrite," Salon, April 12, 2006 --- http://www.salon.com/books/review/2006/04/12/flanagan/index_np.html
"Titanic Chivalry," by Carey Roberts, TheRealityCheck, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.therealitycheck.org/StaffWriter/croberts042606.htm
It was 94 years ago this month that the unsinkable Titanic collided with a North Atlantic iceberg. Of the 1,327 passengers on board, 73% of the women made it to the lifeboats, while only 7% of the men survived. That fateful night, the bodies of 702 men settled into their watery graves.
Within days of the tragedy, women set out to build a fitting memorial. First Lady Helen Taft donated the first dollar, explaining she was “glad to do this in gratitude to the chivalry of American manhood.”
Of course not everyone was thrilled. Some argued that the fund-raising efforts were diverting attention away from the crusade to grant women the right to vote. One politically-correct person argued, “Why not, instead of having the memorial solely for the heroes of the wreck, have it also for the heroines!”
But the grateful ladies persisted. In May of 1931 Mrs. William Howard Taft unveiled the imposing 15-foot memorial, featuring a man in a Christ-like crucifix pose. [ http://my.execpc.com/~reva/mem4.htm ] The statue was located in a splendid venue on the banks of the Potomac River, just a little downstream from Rock Creek.
Continued in article
Something the teachers unions would prefer not be told to teachers
"Teacher unions get cut on annuities: Companies pay them to steer members into mediocre investments," by Kathy M. Kristof, Baltimore Sun, April 26, 2006 --- Click Here
Second-grade teacher Crystal Mendez was in the staff lunchroom at 42nd Street Elementary in Los Angeles when a broker introduced herself and started talking up a retirement plan.
Mendez thought she could trust the woman because her company had been endorsed by her teachers union. She agreed to put $400 a month into a retirement account, assuming her money would be invested in stocks. Just 22, she figured she had plenty of time to ride out any dips in the market.
Nearly two years later, when her boyfriend started bragging about the returns he was earning on his 401(k), Mendez took a closer look at her own account. "He was earning 15 percent a year and I was earning 3 percent," she recalled. "I thought, 'There's something wrong here.'"
Mendez's money was languishing in a fixed-rate annuity, an investment ill-suited to someone in her early 20s. Worse, she would have to pay a steep penalty to bail out.
Public-school teachers across the country are in similar predicaments.
And many have their unions to thank for it.
Some of the nation's largest teachers unions have joined forces with investment companies to steer their members into retirement plans that frequently have high expenses and mediocre returns.
In what might seem an unlikely partnership, the unions endorse investment providers, even specific products, and the companies reciprocate with financial support. They sponsor union conferences, advertise in union publications or make direct payments to union treasuries.
The investment firms more than recoup their money through sales of annuities and other high-fee products to teachers for their 403(b) plans - personal retirement accounts similar to 401(k)s.
New York State United Teachers, for instance, receives $3 million a year from ING Group for encouraging its 525,000 members to invest in an annuity sold by the Dutch insurance giant.
The National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country with 2.7 million members, collected nearly $50 million in royalties in 2004 on the sale of annuities, life insurance and other financial products it endorses.
Continued in article
From the Pen of a 1998 Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics
"Identity and Violence Why we can't get along," by Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110008272
One might have been tempted--had one been consulted--to suggest a renaming of this latest book by Amartya Sen. "Identity and Violence" is much too lurid. "Sen and Sensibility," by contrast, would have been a perfect title, reflecting better the author's exquisite concern for everyone's personal feelings and his desire to make large-hearted accommodation for every political and social bent--except, notably, the religious and nationalist kind.
Mr. Sen, now a professor at Harvard, was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics for his contributions to the field of welfare economics. He has a CV so seriously good that everyone, surely, knows of his being (in his previous post) the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, the apex of the British academic pyramid.'Miniaturization of Human Beings'
"Identity and Violence" is not an entirely tedious book, although it is more than a tad repetitive. Its thesis is that the ascription to individuals of "singular identities"--in other words, to speak of a person as "a Muslim" to the exclusion of other facets of his personality--leads to the "miniaturization of human beings." And this, he avers, is Not Good. It is also Not Accurate. And Unhelpful. And Divisive. And Dangerous.
Put another way, the reduction of individuals to a "choiceless singularity"--religion being, for the most part, a state one is born into--leads to the "solitarist belittling of human identity." Such reductiveness, Mr. Sen claims, merely plays into the hands of that rabble-rouser Samuel Huntington, who insists on seeing the world in terms of differentiated civilizations based largely on religion. Mr. Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations," published in 1996, continues to play a Manichaean role--in Mr. Sen's view--in the war on terror. Mr. Sen asserts that, in truth, people have multiple identities and that the Huntingtonian view (which Mr. Sen simplifies to the point of caricature) is willfully blind to this complexity. But what exactly are these layers of identity that Mr. Sen speaks of?
Here is what he says: "The same person can be, without any contradiction, an American citizen, of Caribbean origin, with African ancestry, a Christian, a liberal, a woman, a vegetarian, a long-distance runner, a historian, a schoolteacher, a novelist, a feminist, a heterosexual, a believer in gay and lesbian rights, a theater lover, an environmental activist, a tennis fan, a jazz musician, and someone who is deeply committed to the view that there are intelligent beings in outer space with whom it is extremely urgent to talk (preferably in English)."
Apart from being a flawless recitation of a left-liberal catechism--except for the bit about outer space--what exactly does this mean? And how does all this help us? Mr. Sen is here conflating identity with predilection, as well as denying that there is--or can be--a hierarchy of potency within a catalog of personal states. I don't mean to belittle the power of endorphins, but is being a long-distance runner the same, in an accounting of identity, as being a Christian or an American? This is, perhaps, a ludic list of identities; but it is also faintly ludicrous.
Cricket and Feminism
Naturally, to say that a Muslim has only one dimension to his identity--to wit, the Islamic one--is unhelpful and unsound. But contrary to Mr. Sen's repeated assertion, few in the West take so reductionist a position. We speak of the "Muslim world," of course, and of "Muslim communities," but that is because both exist in the real world. They have not been willed into existence by our own taxonomical miscalculations. And by referring to countries or societies as "Muslim," we are not suggesting either that a Pakistani is identical to a Sudanese or that an individual Muslim cannot also be a cricket player, a gourmet, a qawwali singer or--Allah willing--a feminist.
So when Mr. Sen asks--Is a "religion-centered analysis of the people of the world a helpful way of understanding humanity?"--I ask back: Is ignoring religion, or diminishing its importance, a helpful way of understanding humanity? The view from Cambridge (Mass. and England) is clearly not the same as the view from my office in New York, which overlooks Ground Zero.
To understand Mr. Sen's desire to get away from religion-based political taxonomy, one must be aware of where, as they say, he is coming from. The Nobel laureate--who has taken to describing himself as a "feminist economist"--is a full-fledged member of the Indian "progressive" left. If there is one concern that drives this group, that animates its politics like no other, it is the perfectly well-meaning desire to safeguard India's Muslim minority from the excesses of the country's Hindu right. This desire has led to such contortions as the left's defense of a separate personal law for India's Muslims (which leaves Muslim women at the mercy of inequitable rules on divorce and inheritance) merely because the Hindu right campaigns for a uniform civil code for all Indian citizens, irrespective of religion.
People like Mr. Sen overlook Muslim or Islamic failings for fear of appearing "unsecular." Any political conflict in which one side is characterized as "Muslim" is automatically disparaged as being anti There is also a tendency on the part of thinkers like Mr. Sen to diminish the political and scientific contributions of the West and to glorify the achievements of non-Western (and, where possible, Islamic) societies. So the Muslim emperor Akbar, the lofty Mughal, is lauded for his tolerance of all faiths. But no one stops to ask why the edifice of Islamic tolerance collapsed after his death in 1605.
Likewise, early Islamic-Arabic breakthroughs in mathematics are held up as proof of intellectual greatness--and, yes, at the time of their conception they were indeed great. But why did the Islamic world flounder later into a state of long-running anti-scientism? As always, Mr. Sen compares the very best of the non-West with quotidian practice in the West. This is a common problem with the defenders of Islam--or, in Mr. Sen's case, with the critics of the critics of Islam.
Mr. Sen, inescapably, is a member of Bengal's bhadralok, or gentleman class. (As the joke goes: One Bengali is a poet; two Bengalis are a film society; three are a political party; and four are two political parties--both leftist.) What Mr. Sen really wants is for all of us to be "fair" to each other. Fair enough. But his idealistic thesis twists and turns to remake the world in its own image. Ultimately, his picture--though pretty--bears little relation to reality. It makes me so sad.
Technology Questions and Answers from Walt Mossberg
"Moving iTunes Files To a New Computer," The Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2006; Page B3
There's no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.
Here are a few questions about computers I've received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about moving iTunes files to a new computer, file-compressing programs and security software.
If you have a question, send it to me at email@example.com, and I may select it to be answered here in
Q: I recently bought an Apple iBook to replace an old Dell laptop. How do I move my iTunes music files from the Dell to the Apple?
A: Your iTunes music files work on both Windows and Mac machines, as does the special iTunes Library file that keeps track of play lists and the like. So, all you have to do is copy these files from the Dell to the Apple, as with any other files you want to move. In fact, even if you were moving from an old Dell to a new Dell, without changing operating systems, the process would be the same.
If you have allowed iTunes to gather all of your files into the folder called "iTunes" within "My Music," all you have to do is copy that folder to the iBook. This can be done in a number of ways, but the best choices would be to do this via a home network or by burning the files to CDs or DVDs and then copying them from the CDs or DVDs onto the Mac. On the Mac, the iTunes folder is usually located within the Music folder.
If your music files are scattered, or are in the My Music folder, but not the iTunes folder, you'll have to locate them before copying them. Be sure to copy the iTunes folder also, because it contains the iTunes Library file.
If you have an iPod and it contains all of your songs and play lists, you can skip these steps. Just download one of the many cheap utility programs for the Mac that will copy the contents of an iPod to a computer. Two examples are PodWorks and PodUtil, the latter of which comes in a Windows version for Windows-to-Windows transfers.
One more thing: Be sure to deauthorize the Dell from your iTunes account before authorizing the Mac, so you don't waste one of your maximum of five slots for computers that can play any songs you purchase. To do this, fire up iTunes on the Dell, go to the Advanced menu and select "Deauthorize Computer."
Q: What program do you recommend the most for compression and decompression of files? Winrar, WinZip or any other program?
A: On Windows, I use WinZip (www.winzip.com), because of its flexibility, even though the operating system can compress and decompress files by itself. On the Mac, I use Stuffit (www.stuffit.com), for similar reasons. A decompress-only version of Stuffit came with earlier versions of Mac OS X, Apple's operating system. The current version of OS X, Tiger, can compress and decompress files in the popular Zip compression format without Stuffit.
Q: I run Norton Internet Security, Ad-Aware and Spybot on my computer to keep "bad stuff" from infecting my system. Yet last week a malicious program attacked my computer. It hijacked my wallpaper and put a huge warning on my desktop. My security software never knew it was there. Do I need to run additional security on my computer?
A: This category of spyware or adware is expanding so fast that, even with the two good anti-spyware programs you are using, attacks can happen. My only advice is to add a third, such as Webroot's Spy Sweeper, which is my favorite. I know this is annoying, but until the spyware/adware epidemic slows down, it is often necessary for Windows users to have multiple defenses.
The study concluded that using a mobile phone or handheld device made it nearly three times more likely that a driver would have a crash.
"Crash Research: New Data Suggest That Distracted Drivers Are Bigger Problem Than Had Been Thought," The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/eyes_on_the_road.html
Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute rigged up 100 cars with video cameras and other data recording devices to chronicle 42,300 hours of data and images of people driving in the general vicinity of Washington, D.C., and the Virginia suburbs. The study captured video of a total of 241 drivers ranging in age from 18 to over 55. Over the course of a year, the test cars got into a total of 82 accidents (69 of which were fully recorded), 761 near crashes and 8,295 "incidents," defined as events requiring an evasive maneuver.
The study, available from VTTI or on NHTSA's Web site, is full of nuggets guaranteed to make you paranoid about fellow travelers on the highway. It may also cause some critical self-assessment among multi-tasking commuters.
The basic thrust of the study's data, including the grainy videos of people nodding off or looking over their shoulders just before rear-ending a car ahead, is that most drivers behave as if driving a car is a task that can be delegated to the reptilian regions of the brain that regulate such automatic behaviors as breathing and blinking. Thus, the motorist is free to process information or perform tasks that aren't related to the driving chore, including using a phone, having lunch, or, in the extreme, taking a catnap.
The study's findings make a persuasive case that drivers are wrong to think they can get away with this. The VTTI's work shows that any distraction, including getting behind the wheel when you should be getting more sleep, greatly raises the odds of an accident or a gut-wrenching near-miss. NHTSA released a reminder of the stakes last week, saying that 43,200 people died in highway accidents last year, up from 42,636 in 2004. The fatality rate also rose to 1.46 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled from 1.44 in 2004, which NHTSA says was the record low.
That said, the VTTI study data suggest not all drivers are equal -- some are really bad. A chart included in a long version of the study shows that two drivers were responsible for a disproportionate share of accidents. One 18-year-old woman was involved in three crashes, 53 near-crashes and 401 "incidents." A 41-year-old woman was involved in four crashes, 56 near-crashes and 449 incidents.
Pause and take that in. In the space of a year or so, two people were involved a total of 116 crashes or near-crashes, and a combined 850 incidents that involved some sort of swerving or emergency avoidance maneuver. Consider that this track record of bad driving was compiled even though the motorists knew that they were being watched by a camera. This makes you wonder what the world would be like if really bad drivers could somehow be taken off the road. This study (which, to be sure, is limited) suggests that targeting and revoking the driving privileges of the very worst drivers -- say, anyone who gets into three at-fault accidents in a year -- would make a big difference to overall highway safety, avoiding who knows how much injury, death and economic pain.
The data about what people do in their cars, and how it contributes to crashes, near-crashes and erratic driving is also discouraging. Fiddling with a "wireless device," usually a mobile phone, was by far the biggest contributor to near-crashes and evasive-maneuver incidents. Talking on a cellphone was blamed for 466 bad driving incidents, and more than 35 near-misses. Dialing a hand-held cellphone was linked to 87 incidents of erratic driving.
The study concluded that using a mobile phone or handheld device made it nearly three times more likely that a driver would have a crash. Applying makeup raised the odds of a crash even more, to just above three times more likely. Reaching for a moving object -- a flying coffee cup, say -- made a crash nearly nine times more likely. Drivers had accidents and near-misses when they took their eyes off the road ahead to glance at a roadside distraction or a passenger.
Continued in article
Big trouble in store for academic journal monopolists
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has issued a report that recommends open access to all publicly financed research, according to an article in The Guardian. The report calls for a “guarantee” of open access. It recommends creating that guarantee by having researchers put copies of published articles in online archives that are free to all. Such a step would be stronger than the one taken nearly a year ago by the National Institutes of Health, which merely requested that its grantees put copies of their published articles in the agency’s own online repository, PubMed Central (The Chronicle, February 4, 2005). Open-access advocates, including Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, hope the report will spur national governments—or even all of Europe—to make such public archiving mandatory. (Mr. Suber has blogged about the report here) But scientific publishers fear that if research papers are free on the Web, readers may stop paying for subscriptions (The Chronicle, January 30, 2004).
Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog 4/19/06
"European Panel Endorses Broad Open Access Policy for Research," Scholarly Communication Blog from the University of Illinois, April 20, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
Bob Jensen's threads on how "Commercial Scholarly Journals and Oligopoly Publishers Are Ripping Off Libraries, and Scholars, Authors, and Students" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#ScholarlyJournals
How soon will you be able to search in Google by speaking into a telephone
"The Search for Voice Activation Google's voice interface patent gives
life to rumors that voice-activated mobile search will soon be a reality,"
by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, April 21, 2006 ---
Google is mum on how -- if at all -- it plans to use its recently granted patent for a voice-enabled search engine -- despite the fact that it has also hired several speech-recognition researchers.
Originally filed in February 2001, the patent was granted for "Voice interface for a search engine," in a move that likely signals some level of development at Google on voice technology for searching the Web using handhelds. Further fueling speculation is Google's poaching of several speech-recognition specialists -- the kind of move that often signals that a new product is afoot.
GETTING THERE: The science of driving directions," by Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060424fa_fact
Was Japan's first invasion of North America over 9,000 years ago?
"Kennewick Man Skeletal Find May Revolutionalize Continent's History," PhysOrg, April 23, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news64938563.html
A forensic anthropologist at Middle Tennessee State University is one of a select number of scientists to participate in the examination of a skeleton that could force historians to rewrite the story of the entire North American continent.
Dr. Hugh Berryman, research professor, was one of only 11 experts from across the United States to scrutinize the bones of Kennewick Man, a 9,300-year-old skeleton found 10 years ago along the Columbia River at Kennewick, Wash.
“It’s one of the oldest skeletons, one of the earliest individuals that populated this continent,” Berryman says. “And we have a chance to look at those remains and learn from them what they tell us about the past and who these people were.”
The 380 bones are being preserved at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum under an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the land on which Kennewick was discovered. Berryman says he was between two and three feet deep in the ground. The burial miraculously saved the bones from the elements, the animals, machinery and man for centuries, and ancient deposits of calcium carbonate on the bones allowed the researchers to determine the positioning of the bones in the ground.
“We have evidence that the bones were still in anatomic order,” Berryman says. “He was still articulated, and he appears to have been a burial. So once something is buried, that moves it at a depth that perhaps the coyotes, the wolves, scavengers could not get to it.”
The July 2005 research was very nearly derailed when the Corps initially decided to turn Kennewick over to a coalition of Native American tribes. Eight scientists filed a federal lawsuit to gain permission to study the skeleton. A federal judge, whose ruling later was upheld by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, decided in favor of the scientists after determining that the tribes could not prove a direct cultural affiliation with Kennewick.
Berryman says the information that can be gleaned from Kennewick came close to being lost forever.
“Since 1990, we’ve lost most of the skeletal remains from groups,” Berryman says. “It’s a shame that a lot of these groups are already gone. We have no way of knowing what kind of movements there were in prehistoric times, where these people came from, who they were related to, what other tribal groups they might be related to.”
What the experts were able to ascertain from their brief encounter with Kennewick is that he did not look like a Native American. In fact, Berryman says Kennewick’s facial features are most similar to those of a Japanese group called the Ainu, who have a different physical makeup and cultural background from the ethnic Japanese.
Continued in article
Swimming death rates highest among black males
"Drowning risk highest for black males," Reuters, April 21, 2006 --- Click Here
Swimming-pool drowning cases involve a disproportionate number of black boys and young adults, and public pools appear to be the primary danger zone, U.S. government researchers have found.
In one of the most extensive studies to look at the issue, investigators found that nearly half of the swimming-pool drownings they tracked occurred among African Americans - with males being at particular risk.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, not only confirm past research showing that a large number of young drowning victims are African American, but also identify where these deaths are happening.
Nationally, between 1995 and 1998, 51 percent of drownings among blacks ages 5 to 24 happened in a public pool. Most often, it was a hotel or motel pool. That stands in contrast to white children and young adults, 55 percent of whom drowned in a residential pool.
It's not clear why young African Americans, males in particular, are more likely than other racial groups to drown. But the new findings point to the places where prevention efforts are most needed, according to the investigators, led by Dr. Gitanjali Saluja of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Continued in article
"‘African-American Men in College’," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 21, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/21/cuyjet
When educators discuss their greatest diversity challenges these days, many focus on the recruitment and retention of black male students. At many campuses, two-thirds of black students are female, and the lack of black men raises all sort of troubling questions.With university systems such as the City University of New York and individual colleges like the University of West Georgia all focused on the issue, a new book has arrived that may offer some ideas and cautions. African-American Men in College, just published by Jossey-Bass, is a collection of essays on a range of issues — from admission through graduation.
Michael Cuyjet, acting associate provost for student life and associate professor of education at the University of Louisville, is both a contributor to and editor of the volume. In a recent interview, he discussed some of the issues raised by the book.
Q: Many colleges are experiencing gender gaps across racial and ethnic lines. What do you consider the factors that most hinder the enrollment of black men in higher education?
A: There are many factors, each contributing a bit more to the cumulative issues. However, the two most significant factors hindering enrollment in the first place (as different from the problem of attrition of those who do enroll) could be characterized as under-preparedness and cultural disincentives. Many African American boys are provided with less-than-adequate academic preparation due to poor school environments and discriminatory practices such as being tracked into behavior disorder classes in inordinately high proportion to their numbers in the school population. Compounding this broad lack of attention to their academic success, many African-American young men fail to consider academic achievement a worthwhile goal and, in fact, often consider college education (and even high school graduation) as not worth the effort or not “cool” among their peers.
Q: How much of an impact does the paucity of African-American men have on those who are enrolled, and on black women in higher education?
A: When the number of African-American men in a particular college fails to achieve “critical” mass — a population of African-American men large enough to sustain their cultural identity and peer support for the group’s members — the college community is usually seen as lacking, at best, or as hostile by African-American men who fail to find a level of cultural comfort in the campus community. The paucity also affects African-American women in at least three ways. First, the lack of African-American men usually contributes to the failure to reach this critical mass of African-American students to have a viable coeducational cultural presence. Second, a significant imbalance resulting from a disproportionately high ratio of women-to-men makes normal social interactions, particularly dating opportunities, difficult within the African-American college community. Third, the paucity of African-American men in college translates to a scarcity of college-educated African-American men, which has equally important negative ramifications for the post-collegiate social life of African-American female college graduates.
Q: Does the impact vary at historically black campuses?
A: Many of the factors discussed in the book affect African-American men similarly on both predominantly white institutions and historically black colleges and universities. However, the institutional racism identified by many African-American men as a serious detractor at PWIs is usually absent at HBCUs. On the other hand, some of the worst skewed male-to-female ratios occur at HBCUs, exacerbating the social problems mentioned in the previous question. Walter Kimbrough and Shaun Harper also point out another phenomenon — that many African American men at HBCUs have expressed the perception that PWIs are generally superior institutions, contributing to their inferior perception of themselves as students at inferior institutions.
Q: Are there particular recruitment strategies that you think are most effective and that more colleges should consider?
A: This book does not particularly address pre-college conditions of African-American men and, thus, does not examine recruitment activities. However, it would seem that introducing African American men during the recruitment and orientation process to some of the more positive interventions addressed in the book would give these young men the perception that the institution is very interested in their success. Examples might include mentoring programs, special efforts to engage them in the co-curricular life of the campus, and academic enrichment programs targeted at African American male students.
Q: How do you view the role of black Greek organizations in terms of the impact — positive and negative — on black men who are enrolled?
A: This is a question with a very complex answer, since there is evidence of both positive and negative factors. Briefly, one positive aspect of black Greek organizations is that they afford many African-American men the opportunity for active extracurricular involvement and particularly for leadership roles that are either closed to them or which they are reluctant to pursue in the greater college community. Conversely, the persistence of hazing incidents and the empirical evidence of lower grades Shaun Harper identifies have contributed to what he refers to as the “diminished public perception” that hurts members of the black fraternities.
Q: On some campuses with small percentages of black male students, the most visible black men are athletes. What message does this send to a campus?
A: The high visibility of African-American male athletes and the usual corresponding invisibility of the African-American male non-athlete students contribute to the stereotype of African-American men as non-intellectual. This is patently unfair both to the athletes who do perform successfully as students and to the non-athletes who are rarely recognized for their academic prowess. The rigorous agendas of revenue sports athletes in their practices, team meetings, and game schedules typically keeps this group isolated from the rest of the African-American student community, further fragmenting a fragile population of African-American males on campus.
Q: Your book highlights some programs that are helping black men succeed in higher education. What are some that you think other colleges should emulate?
A: The nine programs highlighted are intended to offer a wide variety of ideas to emulate. I do not expect many schools to find the funding for another Meyerhoff Program, but their summer bridge program, for example, is something other schools might want to adopt.The Student African American Brotherhood has chapters on more than 100 campuses, so it offers a tested organizational structure and a national network of activities. Bowling Green ’s BMOC program exemplifies mentoring by African-American faculty and staff and a special “University 101” section for African-American males. The Black Men’s Collective at Rutgers brings together African-American faculty, staff and student into one organization. The Black Male Rap Session program at Louisville is loosely designed — one does not join an organization; one simply shows up for the “rap” sessions in which he wants to participate.
On the other hand, Arizona State’s program is formally organized and is operated as a major initiative of the Multicultural Student Center. Black Man Think Tanks are one-day, thematic events. The program at Central State is a student-run, peer tutoring initiative with little assistance from the administration. The Collegiate 100 is an example of collaboration between African American males on the campus and in the surrounding community. So, I recommend that readers examine their more critical concerns about the African-American men on their own campus and select a program component that might address some specific needs and conditions.
At my age this is important
"Soft Focus for Your Portraits: Softening the focus hides wrinkles, age lines, and gives a dreamy quality to subjects," by Dave Johnson, The Washington Post, April 18, 2006 --- Click Here
Soft focus has been used in photography for almost as long as cameras have been used to take portraits. Softening the focus helps hide wrinkles, age lines, and skin blemishes, but it can also be used to give a somewhat dreamy quality to any subject. And it can help your own photos as well.
This week, let's explore a few ways to add soft focus to your own pictures.
Start by opening our sample picture in your favorite image editing program. (I use Corel's Paint Shop Pro X, but, as always, the techniques can be applied to any image editor.) The first step is to duplicate the image in a second layer. Layers are a handy way to make adjustments, since you can vary the opacity of the layer you make the changes in, thus fine-tuning the overall effect.
To add the layer, chooseLayers, Duplicatefrom the menu. You won't see any difference in the photo itself, since all you've done is slapped an identical copy of the image on top of the one that was already there. If the Layers palette on the right side of the screen is turned on, you'll see both layers represented there. (To turn the Layers palette on, chooseView, Palettes, Layers.) The new layer, called Copy of Background, is the one on top. Here's what you'll see in Paint Shop Pro X .
Note: In previous versions of Paint Shop Pro X, the layers representation will look a little different.
Now let's add some soft focus to the photo. The easiest way to do that is to chooseAdjust, Blur, Gaussian Blur. In the Gaussian Blur dialog box, set the Radius to about 2.0 and click OK.
Continued in article
What is laddering in the IPO markets?
Definition of Laddering:
This practice artificially inflates the value of stocks. Laddering occurs when underwriters of IPOs obtain commitments from investors to purchase shares again (after they have begun trading publicly) at a specified, higher price.
"J.P. Morgan Agrees To Settle IPO Case For $425 Million," by Randall Smith and Robin Sidel, The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2006; Page C4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114556881547831668.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $425 million to settle civil charges of improperly awarding hot new stock issues during the market bubble, indicating Wall Street's tab for the class-action case could hit $4 billion.
The financial-services company reached a memorandum of understanding with investor plaintiffs to settle the federal case, according to Melvyn Weiss, chairman of the executive committee of six law firms representing plaintiffs.
A J.P. Morgan spokesman confirmed the agreement in principle, which is subject to court approval. He said it would have "no material adverse affect on our financial results," indicating the bank has likely already set aside funds to cover it.
The lawsuit accused underwriters of improperly pumping extra air into the stock-market bubble in 1999 and 2000 by requiring investors who got shares of hot initial public offerings to buy more shares at higher prices once trading began.
The alleged practices by the 54 underwriter defendants could have worsened losses of investors who bought at the higher prices when the bubble burst, the plaintiffs charged. The practices at issue became known as "laddering."
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Not following FAS 133 can be expensive
"Freddie Settles Shareholder Suits For $410 Million," by Damian Paletta, The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2006; Page B5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114559101617932218.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
Freddie Mac said it will pay $410 million to settle securities class-action and shareholder derivative lawsuits stemming from its restatement of earnings from 2000 to 2002.
The announcement comes just two days after Freddie Mac announced a $3.8 million settlement with the Federal Election Commission to resolve allegations that the government-sponsored mortgage giant violated campaign-finance laws.
"Today's settlement, like the settlement announced earlier this week with the Federal Election Commission, enables this management team to resolve past issues so that we can focus squarely on meeting our important housing mission, running the business well and serving the needs of our customers," said Richard Syron, Freddie Mac's chief executive.
The $410 million payment will go into a fund that will repay several Ohio pension funds and other investors who purchased Freddie Mac stock between July 15, 1999, and Nov. 20, 2003.
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, who negotiated the settlement with Freddie Mac, alleged that Freddie "misrepresented its financial condition during that period."
Freddie Mac said, "the settlement is...based on corporate-governance reforms instituted by the company under its current management." It added that it didn't admit wrongdoing. Freddie Mac didn't admit wrongdoing in the Federal Election Commission case either.
Freddie Mac expects the settlement to lower its first-quarter 2005 net income by $220 million after taxes.
Bob Jensen's threads on FAS 133 accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm
Legal Lottery in the U.S.
"Moussaoui Should Sue," The Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2006; Page A14 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114550211599630852.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
We've all heard about the woman who won millions in a lawsuit after spilling hot coffee on herself. But now there's a new contender for the title of most outrageous jury award. Last week a court in Texas demanded $27.5 million in damages for a woman of Iranian descent who claimed she was racially profiled during an altercation with Southwest Airlines flight attendants.
Samantha Carrington of Santa Barbara, California, alleges that a Southwest Airlines employee said Ms. Carrington reminded her of a "terrorist" during the 2003 incident, which resulted in her detention in El Paso and subsequent arrest. Southwest, meanwhile, accuses Ms. Carrington of assaulting a flight attendant and interfering with the crew.
We can't know for sure who's telling the truth here. But we do know that passengers aren't generally detained for frivolous reasons, and that flight crews need to be able to do their job without fear of frivolous claims. Even if Ms. Carrington was ill-treated, the most she deserved was some free tickets. Only in America could she hit the tort jackpot. What's next? A profiling suit from Zacarias Moussaoui?
Stanford University: Only the Fertile Need Apply
Unfortunately, the policy itself — which provides accommodation in the form of paid leave, extension of deadlines and reduced workload to graduate students “anticipating or experiencing a birth” — sends an entirely different message.While the phrase “anticipating or experiencing a birth” seems expansive enough to cover “anticipating” the birth of an adoptive child, that is not Stanford’s intention. Associate Dean for Graduate Policy Gail Mahood was brutally frank on this point: “The policy does not apply to women who adopt children.… Women can always put off adopting,” she told a reporter.Apparently Stanford prefers grad students who create families “the old fashioned way,” leaving others to sink or swim without institutional support. So much for the message of inclusiveness and diversity! In creating this restrictive policy, Stanford seems to have lost sight of its original goal, confused means and ends, and conflated biology (childbirth) with social issues (family formation).
"Only the Fertile Need Apply," by Charlotte Fishman, Inside Higher Ed, April 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/04/20/fishman
Man Delivers Pizzas, Corpses in Same Vehicle
A pizza deliveryman stopped by police told officers that he was delivering pizzas in the same station wagon he used to ferry bodies (on a stretcher) for a mortuary transport service . . . Police said Bethel told them that although he was delivering pizzas for a major pizza chain, he also "transports deceased bodies in the same vehicle." The car was impounded and Bethel was cited for driving with a suspended or revoked license and without a certificate of inspection.
"Man Delivers Pizzas, Corpses In Same Vehicle," Cincinnati Channel 5, April 30, 2006 --- http://www.channelcincinnati.com/food/9064986/detail.html
His main problem was keeping some delivery items hot and other delivery items cold.
World's Smallest Political Quiz
April 19, 2006 message from Auntie Bev
You might enjoy this ... an online political quiz. It takes less than a minute, but it will help you look at politics in a whole new way. It's the World's Smallest Political Quiz at:
You'll be asked just 10 questions, and then it instantly tells you where you stand politically. It shows your position as a red dot on a "political map" so you'll see exactly where you score.
The most interesting thing about the Quiz is that it goes beyond the Democrat, Republican, Independent. The Quiz has gotten a lot of praise. The Washington Post said it has "gained respect as a valid measure of a person's political leanings." The Fraser Institute said it's "a fast, fun, and accurate assessment of a person's overall political views." Suite University said it is the "most concise and accurate political quiz out there."
See if you land where you think you are politically.
"Bush Lampoons Self at Press Corp Dinner," Yahoo News, April 30, 2006 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060430/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_correspondents
It was twice the fun for members of the White House Correspondents' Association and guests Saturday night when President Bush and a look-alike, sound-alike sidekick poked fun at the president and fellow politicians.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I feel chipper tonight. I survived the White House shake-up," the president said.
But impersonator Steve Bridges stole many of the best lines. Vice President Dick Cheney and his hunting accident were targets of his humor on a couple of occasions.
"Speaking of suspects, where is the great white hunter?" Bridges said, later adding, "He shot the only trial lawyer in the country who supports me."
Bush continued a tradition begun by President Coolidge in attending the correspondents' dinner.
He invited Bridges to play his double. The president talked to the press in polite, friendly terms. Bridges told them what the president was really thinking.
Bridges opened like this: "The media really ticks me off — the way they try to embarrass me by not editing what I say. Well, let's get things going, or I'll never get to bed."
"I'm absolutely delighted to be here, as is (wife) Laura," Bush replied.
"She's hot," Bridges quipped.
The featured entertainer was Stephen Colbert, whose Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report" often lampoons the Washington establishment.
"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq," Colbert said in a typical zinger.
He also paid mock tribute to Bush as a man who "believes Wednesday what he believed Monday, despite what happened Tuesday."
Yet it's the Who's Who of power and celebrity in the audience — invited by media organizations to their dinner tables — that draws much of the attention.
Continued in article
Forwarded by Paula
Oldies but goodies! Airline cabin announcements
All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:
1. On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"
2. On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."
3. On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."
4. "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane"
5. "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."
6. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
7. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."
8. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."
9. "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."
10. "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."
11. "Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."
12. "As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."
13. And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"
14. Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City the flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."
15. Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"
16. Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."
17. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had! hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"
18. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the attendantcame on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."
19. Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."
20. Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."
21. A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain peaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOD!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger in Coach yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of mine."