Tidbits on May 5, 2006
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

“There are three kinds of people you don’t make look bad: your mom, the home plate umpire and your own lawyer on direct. Direct examination is supposed to be the open-book exam, the 200 points you get on your SAT for spelling your name right. By making his attorney look bad, Ken Lay blew it.” Brian Wice, defense . . .Lay has another trial following this one, concerning four counts of bank fraud, that will be tried by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake. The Houston Chronicle reports that Lake asked attorneys to complete testimony by May 11 in order for closing arguments to begin on May 15.
"Testimony Ends in Enron Trial," AccountingWeb, May 4, 2006

Bob Jensen's complete set of Enron Updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#EnronUpdate


Democracy is Fragile: Know Its Enemies Better --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/DemocracyIsFragile.htm
To date the modules are as follows:

Behind Enemy Lines:  Know Your Enemy
New scholarship sheds light on Osama bin Laden's rhetoric, charisma and complex religious and political vision

White Guilt and the Western Past:  Why is America so delicate with the enemy?

Question:  How will George Bush really go down in history in the long run?

George Shultz:  Father of the Bush Doctrine

Jean-Francois Revel

The overall effect of Mexican immigration on the U.S. economy is trivial
Where is the real danger of the Mexican gusher into the United States?

Wall Street is Rotten to the Core

Fraud Conclusions

Fraud Links

Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/DemocracyIsFragile.htm


Online Video
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Some of the most monumental and potentially lethal engineering mistakes in the history of the world.
"Lethal and Leaking," CBS Sixty Minutes, April 30, 2006 --- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/27/60minutes/main1553896.shtml

The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work --- http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/menteleonardo/

Life of a Rock Star --- http://collectionscanada.ca/rock/index2-e.html

ABC News Videos --- http://abcnews.go.com/


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

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

It's In the Valleys I Grow --- http://www.nethugs.com/valley.shtml

Russian Poems Put to Music --- http://max.mmlc.northwestern.edu/~mdenner/Demo/listening2.htm

From NPR
Reggae Legends Toots and the Maytals (Full Concert) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5348723

From NPR
The Wood Brothers Return to Their Roots (Jazz) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5371629

 


Photographs and Art

Photograph of the world's heaviest man (1,200 pounds) --- Click Here

America:  Why I Love Her --- http://www.goodolddogs.com/America_WhyILoveHer.html

The Freedom Trail Foundation --- http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/

The Hubble Heritage Project --- http://heritage.stsci.edu/2001/24/index.html

Hubble's Sweet Sixteen --- http://blog.wired.com/hubblesixteen/

American Heritage Gallery --- http://www.infoporium.com/heritage/

National Geographic --- http://www.nationalgeographic.com/grimm/

Museum in London --- http://archive.museumoflondon.org.uk/exhibits/oneil/index.asp

Boston Globe's Pictures of the Year --- Click Here

The Digital Gallery (New York Public Library) --- http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm

The galleries are located on the National Mall (Washington DC) --- http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/Hokusai.htm

London, The City of Shadows --- http://cityofshadows.stegenga.net/

Book Cover Art by William S. Burroughs --- http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/burroughs-books/index.html

Great surfing photographs --- http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/popup?id=1897492

Seth Taras Galleries --- http://sethtaras.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=3985&Akey=97ZV69BM

Images from Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica, 1543 --- http://images.umdl.umich.edu/w/wantz/vesd1.htm

Holdman Gallery --- http://www.willieholdman.com/Utah_photography/view.asp?page=2&cat=1

Cool Things from the Kansas State Historical Society --- http://www.kshs.org/cool3/velocipede.htm
 


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

From NPR
Jack Gilbert: Notes from a Well-Observed Life (with audio readings of four poems) ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5370284

The Internet Classics Archive --- http://classics.mit.edu/

ebookshare.net --- http://www.ebookshare.net/

Poetry Library --- http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) --- Click Here

A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain (1835-1910) --- Click Here

Father Damien by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) --- Click Here

Newspaper Archive Stories About the Sinking of the Titanic --- http://www.titanicarchive.com/

Images from Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica, 1543 --- http://images.umdl.umich.edu/w/wantz/vesd1.htm

Paul Roberts Paintings --- http://www.paulrobertspaintings.co.uk/

Cool Things from the Kansas State Historical Society --- http://www.kshs.org/cool3/velocipede.htm

Spider Words (Poems, Book Reviews, etc.) --- http://www.spiderwords.com/feature1b.htm

Electronic Book Review --- http://www.electronicbookreview.com/

America's First NewsPaper
Wisconsin Historical Society: Freedom’s Journal --- http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/libraryarchives/aanp/freedom/
 




Starbucks spends more on employee medical insurance than it does on coffee.
Howard Schultz, founder of the Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation (as stated on CBS Sixty Minutes, April 23, 2006)
Jensen Comment
Schultz was proud of this fact. He grew up poor in a public housing project in Brooklyn. His father became badly disabled on the job and had no medical insurance or workman's compensation. He provides medical benefits even to part-time to workers who work as little as 20 hours per week. He's not poor any more. He even owns the Seattle Sonics. He is also a huge contributor to literacy programs.

Pointing out that it takes 800 gallons of water to make one hamburger, a British writer argues that water shortage is the "defining crisis" of our time.
Katharine Mieszkowski, "Not a Drop to Drink," Salon, April 25, 2006 --- http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/04/25/pearce/index_np.html

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi

A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.
George Santayana as forwarded by Eric Press

There are two types of television: intelligent television which makes people difficult to govern, and the television of imbeciles which makes people easy to govern.
Jean Guéhenno --- http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/guehennogb.htm

The Nation (a magazine for liberals) calls it Bill Clinton's trademark "small-issue centrism"—an ability to take "big but often hollow gestures toward the center, pragmatic economic populism, and incremental liberal policy gains."
Jeff A. Taylor, "Give 'Em Enough English A Clintonian immigration solution," Reason Magazine, April 17, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/links/links041706.shtml

Fewer than 1 in 5 Catholics in Boston attend Mass Shifts in church teachings emphasize God's loving nature, not his judgment
Jay Linsey,
"Fewer Than 1 in 5 Attend Mass in Boston," Chron.com, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/nation/3824790.html 
Also see Boston Globe's Pictures of the Year --- Click Here

How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe?
Well, consider this: at a supermarket near the center of this tatterdemalion capital, toilet paper costs $417. No, not per roll. Four hundred seventeen Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750 — in American currency, about 69 cents. The price of toilet paper, like everything else here, soars almost daily, spawning jokes about an impending better use for Zimbabwe's $500 bill, now the smallest in circulation.
Michael Wines, "How Bad Is Inflation in Zimbabwe?" The New York Times, May 2, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
That's 69 cents for each sheet. For some people that comes out to about $6.90 in U.S. dollars for each and every wipe. Kinda makes you think twice about shaking hands. Bowing seems like a better greeting in high inflation nations.

 




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 

Upper Echelons Theory: Origins, Twists and Turns, and Lessons Learned
DONALD C. HAMBRICK

PG.# 109 HAMBRICK The central idea of upper echelons theory is that executives act on the basis of their highly personalized interpretations of the situations and options they face.  That is, executives inject a great deal of themselves--their experiences, personalities, and values--into their behaviors.  To the extent those behaviors are of consequence, say in shaping strategy or influencing the actions of others, organizations then become reflections of their top managers.

PG.# 120 & 121 HAMBRICK While doing field research in the early 1990s, interviewing CEOs about their top management teams (TMTs), an unsettling fact become clear: Many, many top management teams have few "team" properties.  They consist primarily of solo operators who are largely allowed to run their own shows, who interact minimally, sometimes rarely seeing each other.  Such a condition poses a problem for upper echelons theory, or at least for that aspect that deals with how TMT characteristics affect firm outcomes.  For, if TMTs are highly fragmented, then team characteristics will matter very little to firm outcomes.  Instead, firm outcomes are the outgrowth of a host of narrow, specialized choices made by various individual executives (Hambrick, 1994).

These observations lead me to develop and elaborate on the concept of "behavioral integration" within TMTs.  Behavioral integration is the degree to which mutual and collective interaction exists within a group, and it has three main elements or manifestations: information exchange, collaborative behavior, and joint decision making.  That is, a behaviorally integrated TMT shares information, shares resources, and shares decisions.  In its focus on substantive interaction, behavioral integration is related to, but distinct from, "social integration," a concept that places more emphasis on members' sense of group pride or team spirit (Shaw, 1981).

In my initial presentation of behavioral integration, I proposed an array of factors that will determine the degree of behavioral integration that will exist in a given TMT.  These factors included environmental factors, organizational factors, and the CEO's own personality or performance.  Recently, Simsek, et al. (forthcoming) collected data on TMTs in 402 small- and mid-sized companies, verifying some of the key predictors of TMT behavioral integration.  In particular, they found that behavioral integration was positively related to the CEO's own collectivist orientation and tenure, and negatively related to TMT size and several types of TMT diversity.

PG.# 122 & 123 HAMBRICK Even though upper echelons theory has made its mark on the organizational sciences, I have some lingering disappointments about our shortcomings in testing and verifying the theory.  Foremost, I am disappointed that we have not done a better job of directly examining the psychological and social processes that stand between executive characteristics on the one hand and executive behavior on the other.  Namely, we have done a poor job of getting inside "the black box" (Lawrence, 1997; Markoczy, 1997).  For example, when we observe that long-tenured executives engage in strategic persistence, why is that?  Are they committed to the status quo?  Risk-averse?  Tired?  or What?  Even examination of executive psychological properties is not exempt from such questions.  So, for example, when we find that executives who have a high tolerance for ambiguity perform well when they pursue growth-oriented strategies (as opposed to harvest-oriented strategies) (Gupta and Govindarajan, 1984), why is that?  What's going on?  How does tolerance for ambiguity affect executive behaviors?  Even though we have talked for a long time about the need to get inside the black box (to the point that it has become a cliché to express the need), we still have made exceedingly little progress in doing so.

In this same vein, we have little evidence that executives filter the information they confront in any way that resembles the three-stage process depicted here as Figure 6.1.  For example, do executives with technology backgrounds scan more technology-oriented information sources than those who don't have technology backgrounds?  Do they notice, or perceive, more of the technology information they scan?  Do they require fewer pieces of information to form an opinion about a technology trend?  In short, there is a pressing need to gather data on the actual information-processing behaviors of individuals (and teams) in strategic decision-making situations.  Pursuing this perspective will certainly require laboratory-type or experimental research designs, as well as the tools and concepts of the psychologist.

A related disappointment is that we have done an inadequate job of disentangling causality in upper echelons studies.  Do executives make strategic choices that follow from their own experiences, personalities, and biases, as posited by the theory?  Or do certain organizational characteristics lead to certain kinds of executive profiles?  Over time, a reinforcing spiral probably occurs: managers select strategies that follow from their beliefs and preferences; successors are then selected according to how well their qualities suit that strategy; and so on.  Thus far, relatively few upper echelons studies have been designed in ways as to allow convincing conclusions about casual direction.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm




Residents of the Remote Afghan Village Wept (and will soon weep even more)

"Navy Corpsman’s Good Works Live On:  U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Fralish is remembered and revered not only by fellow servicemembers, but also by residents of a tiny Afghan village," by .S. Marine Sgt. Joe Lindsay, Defend America, April 2006 --- http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/apr2006/a040406ms1.html

When U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Fralish was killed Feb. 6 during a firefight with insurgents in Laghman Province, in eastern Afghanistan, it was by no means the end of his remarkable story – or his legacy.

Fralish, of New Kingstown, Pa., is revered by not only his fellow corpsmen and the Marines and soldiers with whom he served, but also by residents of a tiny village high in the mountains near the forward operating base at Mehtar Lam.

“The name of John Fralish lives on in the mountains of Afghanistan among the local population,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. David Schneider, a first sergeant of E Company of the 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry of the Michigan Army National Guard. “Just before he died, John risked his life to save the life of a little Afghan girl on the brink of death.”

Fralish was patrolling with A Company of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment – to which he was attached – when he got word from an elderly Afghan man that a little girl was badly injured a few miles away.

And with that, Fralish, Schneider, two Afghan National Army soldiers and an interpreter left with the elderly man to find the girl.

“When John heard that there was a child who needed help, he was going to do everything he could to see to it that she got that help,” said Schneider, a native of Dimondale, Mich. “John wanted to help everyone who was hurt. It’s just the way he was. Keep in mind we were in hostile territory, and it was the middle of the night, but John wanted to go.”

“The old man led us to this little mud hut in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains,” Schneider continued. “There was a small fire going on in the hut, for light and warmth. John went to where the little girl was. She had fallen in the mountains a while back and was missing a chunk of her calf muscle. Her leg was hurt real bad. The cut was six inches long and five inches wide down to the bone. Fabric from an old dress was being used as a bandage, and it was soaked through not with blood, but with puss. Infection had set in, and she probably had no more than a couple of days to live if she would have remained in that state.”

Fralish made sure she didn’t remain in that state for long. He cleaned the wound, applied antibiotics and redressed it.

“Still, that was only going to buy her a couple of more days of life at best. She needed immediate surgery in a hospital,” Schneider said. “We were on a combat mission that we had to get back to, but John wasn’t just going to sit by and let this girl die.”

Fralish took off his rank insignia and gave it to the elderly man, along with a note he wrote explaining who he was and what the situation was, so that the girl and her family could be given safe passage to the medical facility at Mehtar Lam.

“Over the next couple of days, while we were in the field, the girl’s family got her to Mehtar Lam on the back of a donkey,” Schneider said. “When we returned to the [forward operating base] at Mehtar Lam, the girl was there being treated. Her family was overjoyed to see John again, and they rightfully credited him with making this all possible.”

Still, the girl’s wound and infection were too serious to be adequately treated at Mehtar Lam, Schneider said. Nothing short of amputation of her lower leg – which could not be performed locally – would save her life.

“When we heard that, everyone passed the hat around, and we got enough money together so the family could hire a car to take them to the hospital at Bagram Airfield,” Schneider said. “It was airmen, soldiers, Marines and sailors -- everyone chipping in together.

“Well, the girl’s family showed the note John had written, along with his rank insignia, at every check point, and it got their car through to Bagram where the little girl underwent successful surgery,” Schneider said. “She made it, and she’s recovering nicely and is alive and well now directly because of John. She has a second chance at life.”

Around the time of the girl’s surgery, Fralish was killed in action.

Continued in article

NATO makes it worse in Afghanistan
The fact that American troops are pulling out of southern Afghanistan in the coming months, and handing matters over to NATO peacekeepers, who have repeatedly stated that they are not going to fight terrorists, has given a lift to the insurgents, and increased the fears of Afghans.
The New York Times, May 3, 2006


Read the Fine Print in Your Life Insurance Policy and Its Amendments
Many life insurers, including Allstate Corp., AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co., Fidelity Investments, Lincoln Financial Group, MetLife Inc., New York Life Insurance Co. and Prudential Financial Inc., use customers' overseas-travel plans as a factor in making underwriting decisions, and some may deny a policy or increase premiums to customers going to countries deemed dangerous. Some companies even deny coverage based on previous travel to a dangerous region. The countries that trigger denials are often on the State Department's travel warning list, which includes popular destinations such as Israel, Indonesia and Kenya.
Rachel Emma Silverman, "Life Insurers Face Backlash Over Policy on Foreign Travel:  New Laws Curb Practice Of Denying Coverage to People Who Visit Certain Countries," The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2006; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114670871469043437.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_pj


Advances in Text to Speech

Type in some text and hear it read back to you --- http://vhost.oddcast.com/vhost_minisite/demos/tts/tts_example.html
Hint:  Try some words that are not in the dictionary.

The Oddcast homepage is at http://vhost.oddcast.com/vhost_minisite/

Jensen Comment
This may be very useful as an aid to teaching sight impaired students in your courses.

May 3, 2006 reply from Stephen Field (Professor of Chinese at Trinity University)

Bob, for your information it also works when I type Chinese characters into the window.

Even the tones are correct when spoken!

Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/speech.htm


The new $130 Pure Digital Point & Shoot Video Camcorder's
quality is remarkable for how small and simple the device is.

"The Video Camera Revised:  Radical New Design, Lower Cost Simplifies Shooting and Sharing; Image Quality Can Be an Issue," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boheret, The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2006; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114661430004242045.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_pj

When someone whips out a video camera at a school play or family reunion, two thoughts probably run through your head. One: I really should get a video camera for moments just like this. Two: Who am I kidding? I have no clue how to use a video camera or what to do with the digital video files.

For all their popularity, video cameras are a pain to use, especially on the spur of the moment. Most require a supply of tapes, and the discipline to have expensive, charged batteries at the ready. For casual users, video cameras are also intimidating, filled with buttons and controls whose purpose isn't always obvious.

Not only that, but it's a challenge figuring out how to transfer your videos to a computer, for editing and sharing with others. And the price tags on most camcorders, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, don't help.

But what if somebody invented a dead-simple, point-and-shoot video camera -- the video equivalent of a point-and-shoot digital still camera? What if it had only a few simple buttons; didn't require tapes; used standard AA batteries; and cost under $150? And what if it had the built-in ability to easily transfer your videos to a computer, and an easy way to convert them into a DVD?

Well, a small company has invented just such a video camera, and we've been testing it. It's a radical new design, unlike any other video camera we've tested, and has the potential to expand the video-camera market to people who, until now, have been reluctant to use one, or to use one very often. Not only that, but this simple, low-priced new design is due to spread by the end of this year, because it has been licensed to several big-name camera makers, who plan their own versions.

Continued in article


How to reduce health care costs the Texas way
In the summer of 2003 the Texas legislature enacted important medical litigation reform. A voter-approved constitutional amendment, Proposition 12, followed later that year to solidify the changes. As a result, physicians are returning to the state, particularly in underserved specialties and counties. Insurance premiums to protect against frivolous lawsuits have declined dramatically, with the state's largest carrier reporting declines up to 22% and other carriers reducing premiums by an average of 13%. The number of lawsuits filed against doctors has been cut almost in half.
Newt Gingrich and John T. Gill, "Prodigal State," The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2006; Page A15 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114670282995843284.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


The immigration protest movement is no longer just about amnesty and working permits
But only one newspaper, to its credit, reported that illegal aliens and their supporters' boycott of the national economy on the First of May is clear evidence that radical elements have seized control of the movement. The Washington Post, alone among national papers, reported that ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) has become an active promoter of the national boycott. Some illegal immigration and open borders activists in the Hispanic community are deeply concerned about the involvement of the left-wing radical group. But others, like Juan Jose Gutierrez, whom I've interviewed a number of times over the past several months, manages to be both director of Latino Movement USA and a representative of ANSWER.
Lou Dobbs, "Radical groups taking control of immigrant movement, CNN, May 1, 2006 --- http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/05/01/dobbs.immigrantprotests/index.html 

Also see http://shop.wnd.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=1170


Question
Will we still be able to watch the 1958 classic movie Gigi where the M-word is used repeatedly?

"Bonjour mademoiselle!" — is that a sexist insult? A classic pick-up line? Or just a friendly greeting for millions of French women every day? Whatever it is, it could become a thing of the past. A group of French feminists wants to get rid of the word "mademoiselle," or "miss," saying the term turns a female into an inferior being defined by her marital status . . . Feminists say a term distinguishing an unmarried woman is outdated in a country where almost 50 percent of children were born to unmarried parents in 2005.
Kerstin Gehmlich, "Don't call me mademoiselle, French women say," ABC News, May 3, 2006 --- http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1917742 
Jensen Comment
In the U.S.  we replaced Miss with Ms., but the married Mrs. is still common in the media and in new literature.
 

"The Real Reasons Students Can’t Write," by Laurence Musgrove, Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/04/28/musgrove 

At my university, I chair a faculty committee charged with reviewing and revising our general education curriculum. Over the past two and a half years, we have examined programs at similar colleges and studied best practices nationwide. In response, we have begun to propose a new curriculum that responds to some of the weaknesses in our current program (few shared courses and little curricular oversight), and adds what we believe will be some new strengths (first-year seminars and a junior-level multidisciplinary seminar).

In addition, we are proposing that we dispense with our standard second course in research writing, revise our English 101 into an introduction to academic writing, and institute a writing-across-the-curriculum program. Our intention is to infuse the general education curriculum with additional writing practice and to prompt departments to take more responsibility for teaching the conventions of research and writing in their disciplines. As you might imagine, this change has fostered quite a bit of anxiety (and in some cases, outright outrage) on the part of a few colleagues who believe that if we drop a course in writing, we have dodged our duty to ensure that all students can write clearly and correctly. They claim that their students don’t know how to write as it is, and our proposal will only make matters worse.

I believe most faculty think that when they find an error in grammar or logic or format, it is because their students don’t know “how” to write. When I find significant errors in student writing, I chalk it up to one of three reasons: they don’t care, they don’t know, or they didn’t see it. And I believe that the first and last are the most frequent causes of error. In other words, when push comes to shove, I’ve found that most students really do know how to write — that is, if we can help them learn to value and care about what they are writing and then help them manage the time they need to compose effectively.

Still, I sympathize with my colleagues who are frustrated with the quality of writing they encounter. I have been teaching first-year writing for many years, and I have directed rhetoric and compositions programs at two universities. During this time, I have had many students who demonstrate passive aggressive behavior when it comes to completing writing projects. The least they can get away with or the later they can turn it in, the better. I have also had students with little interest in writing because they have had no personally satisfying experiences in writing in high school. Then there are those students who fail to give themselves enough time to handle the complex process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing their work.

But let’s not just blame the students. Most college professors would prefer to complain about poor writing than simply refuse to accept it. Therefore, students rarely experience any significant penalties for their bad behaviors in writing. They may get a low mark on an assignment, but it would a rare event indeed if a student failed a course for an inadequate writing performance. Just imagine the line at the dean’s door!

This leads me to my modest proposal. First, let me draw a quick analogy between driving and writing. Most drivers are good drivers because the rules of the road are public and shared, they are consistently enforced, and the consequences of bad driving are clear. I believe most students would become better writers if the rules of writing were public and shared, they were consistently enforced, and the consequences of bad writing were made clear.

Therefore, I propose that all institutions of higher learning adopt the following policy. All faculty members are hereby authorized to challenge their students’ writing proficiency. Students who fail to demonstrate the generally accepted minimum standards of proficiency in writing may be issued a “writing ticket” by their instructors. Writing tickets become part of students’ institutional “writing records.” Students may have tickets removed from their writing records by completing requirements identified by their instructors. These requirements may include substantially revising the paper, attending a writing workshop, taking a writing proficiency examination, or registering for a developmental writing course. Students who fail to have tickets removed from their records will receive additional penalties, such as a failing grade for the course, academic probation, or the inability to register for classes.

What would the consequences of such a policy be? First of all, it would mean that we would have to take writing-across-the curriculum more seriously than most of us do now. We would have to institute placement and assessment procedures to ensure that students receive effective introductory instruction and can demonstrate proficiency in writing at an appropriate level before moving forward.

Professors would also be required to get together, talk seriously and openly, and come to agreements about what they think are “generally accepted minimum standards of proficiency in writing” at various levels, in each discipline, and across the board. We would be required to develop more consistent ways of assigning, responding to, and evaluating writing. We would also have to join with our colleagues in academic support services to recruit, hire, and train effective tutors.

And we would have to issue tickets. Lots of them. But not so many after awhile when students soon learn the consequences of going too fast, too slow, or in the wrong direction, stopping in the wrong place or failing to stop altogether, forgetting to signal when making a turn, or just ending up in a wreck. Then there is that increasing problem of students who take someone else’s car for a joy ride.

Here’s your badge.

Laurence Musgrove is an associate professor of English and foreign languages at Saint Xavier University, in Chicago.

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


"What Good Are the Arts? A brilliant case for literature," by Nick Gillespie, Reason Magazine, April 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/0604/cr.ng.what.shtml 

In 1971, according to the Association of Departments of English, about eight out of every 100 bachelor’s degrees were awarded to English majors. Today that figure stands at a bit more than four out of 100. Foreign language and literature enrollments have taken similarly sharp tumbles. As the nation’s lit departments go begging for students, they would do well to consult John Carey’s brilliant, funny, and insightful What Good Are the Arts? (Oxford University Press), which makes a compelling and persuasive case that creative expression—especially the written word—is central to a rich and thoughtful life.

“Literature does not make you a better person, though it may help you to criticize what you are,” writes Carey, a former Oxford professor and author of, among other books, The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992), a stunning reappraisal of British modernists as hate-filled class warriors terrified by the breakdown of social hierarchy and the rise of widespread literacy. “But it enlarges your mind, and it gives you thoughts, words and rhythms that will last you for life.”

In making his case for the arts, Carey spends most of his book tearing down what he considers specious justifications for them. While Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer argued for art as sacred, spiritual, and transcendent, Carey insists simply that “anything can be a work of art” and that standards of taste and beauty are irreducibly subjective. David Hume famously argued that classic art is that which has been “universally found to please in all countries and in all ages.” Carey wryly notes, “There is nothing on earth that meets this criterion, except perhaps sexual intercourse and eating.”

Continued in article


"Not So Open CourseWare," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, May 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/05/01/mit

One of the many classes that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shares with the world through its pioneering OpenCourseWare initiative is “Visualizing Cultures,” an esteemed, interdisciplinary look at “how images have been used to shape the identity of peoples and cultures,” notably Japan. Among the hundreds of images displayed on the site are wood-block prints that Japan used as propaganda during the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese war, which captions and other text on the site criticize for their “derision of the Chinese” and the “shocking” contempt they reveal for Japan’s Asian counterpart.
The three-year-old course and its Web site, creations of John W. Dower, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, and Shigeru Miyagawa, a professor of linguistics and of foreign languages and literature, do just what good scholarship is supposed to do: They present, explain and analyze sometimes difficult and even occasionally offensive material.

But while MIT’s OpenCourseWare project has been lauded for sharing course materials freely in an effort to inform and educate the world, a controversy that exploded at the university last week suggests that the institution has a ways to go in educating and informing some of its own students about the purpose of history, scholarship and higher education.

Last Sunday, April 20, MIT featured the “Visualizing Cultures” course on the home page of its central Web site, and seemingly as a result of that increased attention, some of the wood-block images — particularly one entitled “Illustration of the Decapitation of Violent Chinese Soldiers,” which depicted just such a scene — circulated on the Internet, without the captions and other material explaining their meaning (and criticizing them as dangerous Japanese propaganda) that accompanied them on the MIT site.

Within a day, screeds criticizing the prints, Dower and Miyagawa, and MIT appeared on Chinese Web sites, and the university and the professors received e-mail messages (from people outside the institution, reportedly including some MIT alumni) that accused them of cultural insensitivity, called them racist, and urged their firing.

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association, a group made up mostly of MIT graduate students from mainland China, wrote a letter to President Susan Hockfield in which they reportedly asked the university post warnings that the images were graphic and racist. “We do understand the historical significance of these woodprints and respect the authors’ academic freedom to pursue this study,” they wrote. “However, we are appalled at the lack of accessible explanations and the proper historical context that ought to accompany these images.”

As the complaints mounted, the professors and MIT officials met with the Chinese students, who described the images as “hurtful,” said Pamela Dumas Serfes, interim director of MIT’s news service. On Thursday, she said, Dower and Miyagawa decided that the “best thing to do to bridge this misunderstanding was to take down that unit” from the MIT site, while the scholars worked with the Chinese students to figure out “how we fix this.” Among the options, she said, were including captions in several languages, posting a disclaimer about the graphic nature of some of the images, and placing on the site an 88-page study guide that the scholars have been preparing.

“They felt it was responsible to take it down temporarily so they could hear these concerns,” Dumas Serfes said.

Dower and Miyagawa were not available for comment. But in a statement posted on MIT’s Web site (to which all links to the original course site now point), the two scholars expressed their “deep regret over the emotional distress caused by some of the imagery” and said they were “genuinely sorry that the Web site has caused pain within the Chinese community. This was completely contrary to our intention. Our purpose is to look at history in the broadest possible manner and to try to learn from this.”

Of the images on the site, they said: “These historical images do not reflect our beliefs. To the contrary, our intent was to illuminate aspects of the human experience — including imperialism, racism, violence and war — that we must confront squarely if we are to create a better world.”

“Many people who have seen the Web site, however, have indicated that the purpose of the project is not sufficiently clear to counteract the negative messages contained in the historical images portrayed on the site,” they added. “We have temporarily taken down this Web site while these community concerns are being addressed.”

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on open courseware are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI


Programs Teach Savings to Ease Poverty
Some organizations have found a way for low-income people to save money, then build on those savings over time. One such program in Tulsa, Okla., has brought life-changing financial security to some residents.
Gregg Allen, "Programs Teach Savings to Ease Poverty," NPR, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5356754



The Lone Ranger always shot the gun out of a bad guy's hand.
But even the Lone Ranger never could put his bullet into the barrel of the bad guy's gun.

A highly improbable shot left an officer's bullet in the cylinder of a gunman's revolver, and police say it's a pretty clear sign that the officers who shot the man faced a deadly threat. "Physically, it is impossible to conclude anything other than the fact the suspect was pointing directly at the officers," Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer said Wednesday, adding, "I've not seen anything quite like that in my 24 years."
Hector Castro, "Amazing shot cited as self-defense:  Police bullet lodged in gunman's weapon," Seattle P.I., April 27, 2006 --- http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/268168_shootingfollow27.html?source=mypi 
 


You would not believe this if it happened in the movies
One minute, Harold Bennett, 65, was smiling in the street as a light rain fell. The next, a bolt of lightning dropped from the sky, killing him instantly. The neighbors had been chatting outside around 6:30 p.m. about the upcoming hurricane season when Bennett, shirtless and in sandals, hiked up his shorts an inch and took three steps toward Thompson. He was smiling when the sky lit up with electricity. The lightning bolt struck his head from behind, and yellow sparks formed inside his mouth, Thompson said. Standing about 25 feet away, Thompson watched in horror...
Kevin Deutch, "Lightning kills man chatting with friend," Palm Beach Post, April 27, 2006 --- Click Here
 


Sold on eBay:  MiG-21f fighter plane
A Chinese businessman has bought a MiG-21f plane from a U.S. seller on the online auction website eBay for $24,730 and plans to use it to decorate an empty space at his offices, a newspaper reported Sunday.
"Chinese Man Buys eBay Fighter Jet," Wired News, April 30, 2006 ---
http://www.wired.com/news/wireservice/0,70777-0.html?tw=wn_index_8


Historic leadership of the United States in particle physics is in danger
A new report by the National Research Council says that the historic leadership of the United States in particle physics is in danger, and calls for the United States to push to be the site of the next major particle accelerator --- http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309101948?OpenDocument


The real reason for faculty concern about the recent Duke University incident
There is a lacrosse culture at Duke University, but it’s not entirely what it’s been made out to be, according to a report released Monday evening by a faculty panel. Despite widespread assumptions that the team is full of racist, sexist, dumb jocks, the faculty panel found that team members perform well in the classroom (and on the field) and that there was not evidence of sexist or racist behavior. The panel did find repeated and serious violations of the university’s alcohol policies — and said that these problems were so widespread and severe that they warranted much more attention than Duke gave them prior to the recent controversy. And some of the report’s harshest words were for Duke officials, not the team. The university’s monitoring of athlete misconduct that isn’t cause for suspension is “informal to the point of being casual,” the report said, and results in a process that is “arbitrary and often ineffective.” . . . More broadly, the report said that Duke needs to confront its “ambivalence” about drinking, which is evident in the “tolerance of egregious violations of its own policies.” While calling the alcohol-related misconduct of the lacrosse players “deplorable,” the faculty panel added that “the university is, by its lack of leadership in this area of deep concern, implicated in the alcohol excesses of lacrosse players and Duke students more generally.”
Scott Jaschik, "Booze Blamed at Duke," Inside Higher Ed, May 2, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/05/02/duke

"Duke’s Poisoned Campus Culture," by KC Johnson, Inside Higher Ed, May 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/05/01/johnson

Few would deny that several players on Duke’s lacrosse team have behaved repulsively. Two team captains hired exotic dancers, supplied alcohol to underage team members, and concluded a public argument with one of the dancers with racial epithets. In response, Brodhead appropriately cancelled the team’s season and demanded the coach’s resignation. Yet the faculty members’ statement ignored Brodhead’s actions, and instead contributed to the feeding frenzy in the weeks before the district attorney’s decision to indict two players on the team.

The 88 signatories affirmed that they were “listening” to a select group of students troubled by sexism and racism at Duke. Yet 8 of the 11 quotes supplied from students to whom these professors had been talking, 8 contained no attribution — of any sort, even to the extent of claiming to come from anonymous Duke students. Nonetheless, according to the faculty members, “The disaster didn’t begin on March 13th and won’t end with what the police say or the court decides.” It’s hard to imagine that college professors could openly dismiss how the ultimate legal judgment would shape this case’s legacy. Such sentiments perhaps explain why no member of the Duke Law School faculty signed the letter.

More disturbingly, the group of 88 committed themselves to “turning up the volume.” They told campus protesters, “Thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.” These demonstrators needed no encouragement: They were already vocal, and had already judged the lacrosse players were guilty. One student group produced a “wanted” poster containing photographs of 43 of the 46 white lacrosse players. At an event outside a house rented by several lacrosse team members, organized by a visiting instructor in English Department, protesters held signs reading, “It’s Sunday morning, time to confess.” They demanded that the university force the players to testify or dismiss them from school.

The public silence of most Duke professors allowed the group of 88 to become, in essence, the voice of the faculty. In a local climate that has featured an appointed district attorney whose behavior, at the very least, has been erratic, the Duke faculty might have forcefully advocated respecting the due process rights of all concerned. After all, fair play and procedural integrity are supposed to be cardinal principles of the academy. In no way would such a position have endorsed the players’ claim to innocence: Due process exists because the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition has determined it elemental to achieving the truth. But such process-based arguments have remained in short supply from the Duke faculty. Instead, the group of 88 celebrated “turning up the volume” and proclaimed that legal findings would not deter their campaign for justice.

When faced with outside criticism — about, for example, a professor who has plagiarized or engaged in some other form of professional misconduct, or in recent high-profile controversies like those involving Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado — academics regularly condemn pressure for quick resolutions and celebrate their respect for addressing matters through time-tested procedures. Such an approach, as we have frequently heard since the 9/11 attacks, is essential to prevent a revival of McCarthyism on college campuses.

Yet for unapologetically urging expulsion on the basis of group membership and unproven allegations, few professors have more clearly demonstrated a McCarthyite spirit better than another signatory to of the faculty statement, Houston Baker, a professor of English and Afro-American Studies. Lamenting the “college and university blind-eying of male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves in the bargain,” Baker issued a public letter denouncing the “abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us.” To act against “violent, white, male, athletic privilege,” he urged the “immediate dismissals” of “the team itself and its players.”

Duke Provost Peter Lange correctly termed Baker’s diatribe “a form of prejudice,” the “act of prejudgment: to presume that one knows something ‘must’ have been done by or done to someone because of his or her race, religion or other characteristic.” It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, for Baker and many others who signed the faculty statement, the race, class, and gender of the men’s lacrosse team produced a guilty-until-proven-innocent mentality.

Continued in article


You would not believe this if it happened in the movies: They stole the money he was saving for his dinner
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar has had $450,000 stolen from his hotel room during his current visit to Kuwait, the Itim news agency quoted the Kuwaiti media as saying Wednesday. According to the report, al-Zahar had asked the Kuwaiti authorities to keep the theft under wraps, but the incident was confirmed by a security official at the hotel.
"$450,000 said stolen from PA foreign minister during visit to Kuwait," Haaretz.com, April 27, 2006 --- http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/709679.html


College baseball players strike out a lot in courses
Also Thursday, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors initiated a year-long study aimed at identifying ways to improve the academic performance of baseball players, who fared comparatively poorly in March when the association, for the first time, began punishing sports teams based on members’ failure to proceed toward a degree.
Doug Lederman, "NCAA Homes In on High Schools," Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/28/mills

Bob Jensen's threads on academic problems of college athletes are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics


When the left side at UC Berkeley engages in battle
against the left side at UC Berkeley
Students from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, drew an angry crowd at the University of California at Berkeley after displaying images that compared animal treatment to the lynching and enslavement of black Americans. About a dozen Berkeley students furiously engaged the PETA members, accusing the animal rights group of racism. The situation intensified when one member of the crowd threw ketchup and mustard on the PETA display and another tore down part of the exhibit. One image presented by PETA featured a chained elephant foot juxtaposed with the chained foot of a slave. Another showed black individuals hanging from a tree by their necks contrasted with the image of a cow being hung by its hind legs. Several black students shouted down the PETA students and called for the display to be taken down. One student who was upset by PETA’s comparison of slavery to animal mistreatment shouted amid tears, “I’m not trying to say that people should eat meat. I understand you, but the way you’re depicting our history, the way you are depicting the things that happened to us, the thing that happened to our ancestors, it’s not ok, it’s not ok!”
"People for the Exploitation of Terrorized African-Americans," by Andrew R. Quinio, CalPatriot, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=22244


Trouble at Home for the Nation's Highest Paid College CEO

"Division at RPI," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2006 ---
 http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/28/rpi

It would be hard to beat Shirley Ann Jackson’s résumé: First black woman to receive a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a physicist who led impressive research teams at Rutgers University and AT&T Bell Laboratories, chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and — since 1999 — president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

When national commissions or universities want an expert on science and especially on diversifying the research work force (a topic on many minds since a certain university president managed to offend women nationwide with his thoughts on the topic), Jackson is the person to call. She publishes papers and captivates conferences.

Back in Troy, however, it turns out a lot of people are less than impressed. The faculty held a no confidence vote this week and while Jackson in some sense won the vote, the margin was quite narrow: 155 to 149 in her favor.

According to critics, Jackson has favored new professors over more senior scholars, allowed the engineering programs to decline, squelched criticism, and enjoyed too many perks in office. Professors say that her national reputation has hidden the anger at home, which has been growing for years. “She talks a good story, but she doesn’t know how to run a university,” says E. Bruce Nauman, a professor of chemical engineering who recently finished a term leading the Faculty Senate.

As the faculty opposition has come to a head — in part over discussion of possible cuts in RPI’s contribution to the faculty pension plan — student anger at the administration has also grown, but over a completely different issue. Students are up in arms over administration plans to curb alcohol in fraternities and sororities and hundreds backing the Save RPI Greeks movement say they would have left the institution, but for the houses that they say Jackson’s administration is about to destroy.

While the quality of RPI engineering and the quality of frat parties are obviously very different issues, there may be a common thread. “Aside from what the policy is, we weren’t talked to about it — we feel stepped upon,” said one student leader who asked not to be identified and who said he finds that his professors share that feeling.

While Jackson is not talking, the board at RPI has given her strong support, with the chair, Samuel Heffner, releasing a statement praising Jackson, and saying that while “circumstances of dramatic change create challenges for all engaged,” the board “stands firmly” behind the president.

In the debate about Jackson, critics and supporters can’t agree on the relevant numbers or priorities. Critics say that graduate enrollments are falling rapidly; supporters say that reforms of graduate education gave Ph.D. totals a false spike a few years ago, so that the real numbers are better. Critics — citing U.S. News rankings, which are viewed as educationally dubious by many, although they are used by many applicants — say that RPI is no longer the engineering powerhouse it once was. Supporters say Jackson has pushed interdisciplinary work and made progress in newer areas like biotechnology. Critics respond that she has failed to attract faculty talent in some of the fields that she is building, while letting historic strengths erode.

Some of the tensions at RPI are not unique to the institute. Institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology have greatly broadened their areas of expertise in the last generation away from the traditional base in the physical sciences and engineering to include much more of an emphasis on the biological sciences. The shift reflects where much of the hot science is taking place these days. But critics at RPI say that places like MIT and Caltech pulled off the broadening without hurting their base, and in a more collaborative way.

As at many institutions, money is a factor, but here too, the question is which numbers count. Jackson’s supporters say that average faculty salaries increased by about 16 percent in the last four years. But her critics say that many faculty members who have devoted their careers to RPI have been getting raises in the 1-2 percent range, falling behind inflation, with the institute using the funds saved to pay top dollar to new faculty members. The institution has also been paying top dollar to Jackson, whose compensation topped $900,000 two years ago (the last year for which data are available).

Nauman said that because of his outside business interests, his take-home pay from RPI doesn’t have a big impact on his standard of living. But he said that when Jackson favors unequal raises “she divides the faculty into old and new and is persecuting the old.” There are ways to recruit good talent, he said, that don’t have the impact of destroying faculty morale. The gaps are large enough, he said, that many professors are afraid of speaking out (and he points to a survey conducted by RPI that backs up his claim.)

But other professors — especially those who are recent arrivals — are quite happy with the institution and with Jackson’s leadership. Linda B. McGown, chair of the chemistry and chemical biology department, was recruited to RPI two years ago, after 17 years at Duke University. McGown said that there aren’t many science departments that recruit external candidates who are women to become chairs, so she was surprised and pleased when RPI came after her.

Since being recruited, McGown said she’s been impressed with the commitment to interdisciplinary work, which she said has created an environment “in which I could really revitalize my work.” She considers RPI an exciting place to be a scientist, where people feel “caught up in a sense of being at a place on an upward trajectory.”

As for salaries, McGown said that RPI is hardly unique in giving more money to new recruits. She said she had her best raises at Duke when she had other offers. “That’s the nature of academia,” she said.

Both McGown and Nauman took pains to say that they didn’t view the situation at RPI as strictly a case of new vs. old, with McGown noting the quality of talent there for a long time and Nauman the talent that is arriving.

But whatever the nature of the divide, Nauman said it was significant to see how divided the campus is. Throughout Jackson’s tenure, one constant from her supporters has been to characterize critics as a disgruntled few, and the fear of speaking out has meant that — in public, at least — the numbers may have been small, he said.

“But that supposed few is essentially half the faculty,” Nauman said, and needs to be listened to.

Already this year, Harvard University’s president quit after losing one no confidence vote and expecting another, and the president of Case Western Reserve University quit two weeks after losing a vote.

Although she won hers, Jackson has invited faculty members to meet her today to talk about campus issues.

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


Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/


Can the blind now have their sight restored?
A new type of polymer nano electrode could make brain implants, including those used to treat severe cases of Parkinson's, far safer, and it could also make attempts to restore vision and movement with direct brain-machine interfaces more feasible. Rudolph Llinas, professor of neuroscience at New York University, and researchers at MIT have developed a nanowire electrode just 600 nanometers wide that can send and receive signals to the brain.
Kevin Bullis, "Tiny Electrodes for the Brain:  Nanowires could make brain-machine interfaces safer and cochlear implants more effective," MIT's Technology Review, May 1, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=16755&ch=nanotech


Genetic tests are poised to revolutionize prescription writing
The age of “personalized medi­cine” has arrived, but chances are your doctor doesn’t know it yet. Existing tests can analyze patients’ genetic makeup to provide guidance on whether certain drugs—such as codeine, antidepressants, and even some cancer medications—will help them, harm them, or do nothing. And a host of even newer “pharmacogenetic” tests are now in the R&D pipeline. But the existing tests aren’t widely ordered by doctors, a fact that bothers David Flockhart, chief of clinical pharmacology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Flockhart, who has developed genetic tests to help guide the prescription of diabetes and high-blood-pressure drugs, says doctors are generally uneducated about the availability of such tests. But he predicts that that will change if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that doctors test two specific genes in all patients prescribed a widely used anticoagulant.
Erika Jonietz, "Getting Personal about Drugs:  Genetic tests are poised to revolutionize prescription writing," MIT's Technology Review, May 1, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=16445&ch=biotech


Man weighing 1,200 pounds seeks life-saving surgery in Italy
A Mexican man who at 550 kg (1,200 lb) is possibly the heaviest person in the world hopes to travel to Italy for a life-saving operation to shed weight. Manuel Uribe, bedridden for the past five years, cannot stand on his own and will need a special flight to take him from Monterrey, Mexico to Modena, where a surgical team has offered to perform an intestinal bypass free of charge.
Phil Stewart, "Man weighing 1,200 pounds seeks life-saving surgery in Italy," myway, May 3, 2006 --- Click Here 


Mixed Result in Treating Schizophrenia Pre-Diagnosis
In recent years, psychiatric researchers have been experimenting with a bold and controversial treatment strategy: they are prescribing drugs to young people at risk for schizophrenia who have not yet developed the full-blown disorder. The hope is that while exposing some to drugs unnecessarily, preemptive treatment may help others ward off or even prevent psychosis, sparing them the agonizing flights of paranoia and confusion that torment the three million American who suffer schizophrenia. Yet the findings from the first long-term trial of early drug treatment, appearing today in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggest that this preventive approach is more difficult to put into effect — and more treacherous — than scientists had hoped. Benedict Carey, "Mixed Result in Treating Schizophrenia Pre-Diagnosis," The New York Times," May 1, 2006 ---
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/01/health/01psych.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


"Our Universe: A Quantum Loop," PhysOrg, April 25, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news65200818.html

“There are two classical branches of the universe connected by a quantum bridge. This connects the former collapse with the current expansion.” While Abhay Ashtekar and his colleagues, Tomasz Pawlowski and Parampreet Singh, may not have come with a completely new theory, what they have done is create a systematic way, through quantum equations, to look back in time to the birth of our current universe.
 
Ashtekar’s team from Pennsylvania State University’s Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry published a Letter in Physical Review Letters on April 12th, detailing what was found, and shedding a little more light on what actually happened at the time the universe began expanding.

“The idea of a bounce has been around for a while,” Ashtekar explains to PhysOrg.com, “and it has been looked at in many contexts. One of them is String Theory.” He continues: “The pre-Big Bang cosmology considered the idea that a branch of the universe existed before the Big Bang, and in the Ekpyrotic scenario, a `brane’ collides with another `brane,’ causing a bounce.”

What makes the PSU explanation different, says Ashtekar, is the fact that while it was assumed that there might possibly be something before the Big Bang, a systematic determination of what that might have been was missing. Additionally, “one never had systematic equations that are determinate, leading from the pre- to post-Big Bang branches of the universe.”

Ashtekar and his colleagues use Einstein’s quantum equations from Loop Quantum
Gravity (LQC), an approach to the unification of general relativity and quantum physics. LQC does not presuppose the existence of a space-time continuum. Ashtekar and his fellow team members find that quite likely there is a classical universe, one that looks and behaves pretty much like our currently universe, on the other side of the Big Bang, which he describes as more of a Big Bounce. In these classical universes, spacetime is a continuum and Einstein’s theory of general relativity is mostly accurate. But between these two classical universes, Ashtekar says, is a point at which general relativity doesn’t apply. “We know that on the quantum level the theory of general relativity breaks down,” he explains, “and this quantum bridge, which lasts for such a small period of `time,’ connects the two branches of the universe.”

Continued in article

Also see the following:

The Universe - Was it Created by - God? or Does Science Tell a Different Story?

 

Read: Einstein Defiant. - Einstein debates Niels Bohr about the nature of science.

 

The Final Theory - The bestselling book some scientists hope you never read.

There has long been a serious dissatisfaction with our scientific knowledge and beliefs, both from mainstream scientists and science enthusiasts alike. Our scientists' response is to merely invent often wild, abstract, fanciful theories (warped space-time, quantum mechanics, time-dilation, and now "Dark Matter", "Dark Energy", etc.), while amateur enthusiasts often invent their own "alternate theories" that typically end up in the "crank" or "crackpot" category. Either way, both approaches have left us with quite a scientific mess.

The Final Theory is a new science book that breaks the mold entirely. It does not align itself with today's fanciful science, yet is a best-selling science book based on very sound logic and solid scientific principles. It is the first truly viable answer to all the confusion, mysteries, and head-scratching found in today's science.

Click here to preview the first 25 pages in Acrobat PDF format.

This non-fiction science book deals with a famous science theory known as the Theory Of Everything, sometimes called the Unified Field Theory, which surpasses the understanding provided by even Newton and Einstein. The book exposes the many flaws in today's science paradigm and presents clear solutions in solid logical and scientific terms. It is a very compelling and controversial read that engages scientists and laymen alike, demonstrating a new science principle that gives us an entirely new outlook on our world and our science that may well prove to be the famous Theory Of Everything.

. . .

We often hear about paradigm shifts, but rarely do we have the opportunity to experience a major shift in the accepted scientific paradigm first-hand in our lifetime. Read this book if you have ever wondered what Galileo or Newton or Einstein must have felt as they uncovered revolutionary new ideas about their world.

* What actually is gravity
* and how does it work?
* Is anti-gravity possible?
* Is the speed of light truly a limit?
* Is faster-than-light communication possible?
* What does Einstein's E = mc2 equation actually mean?
* Are Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity correct?
 

The Final Theory Rethinking Our Scientific Legacy
by Mark McCutcheon Email the Author
URL: http://www.thefinaltheory.com 
Number of Pages: 423
ISBN: 1581126018
Publisher: Universal Publishers Year: 2004


"The big point is that IE's been losing market share to Mozilla's Firefox," and now Microsoft is trying to catch up and regain user loyalty from people who have embraced Firefox's simple and more secure format, said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

"Microsoft Tries for Safer Surfing Internet Explorer Revised in Response to Security Concerns, Loss of Users," by Yuki Noguchi, The Washington Post, April 26, 2006 --- Click Here

Internet users were given a peek yesterday at a revamped version of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, a response to criticism that the most popular tool for Web surfing and hacking made users vulnerable to the Internet's dangers and caused them to defect to alternative browsers.

Earlier versions of Internet Explorer, which comes standard on most Windows computers, are still how most users access and view Web pages. But being the leader in the browser game, with almost 85 percent market share, means that it's also the most vulnerable to malicious programs such as viruses, worms and phishing scams.

That, along with the limited features built into earlier versions of the Internet Explorer browser, or IE, has sent a growing number of users to alternative browsers.

The Redmond, Wash., company designed Internet Explorer 7, a test version available for download from its Web site, with tighter security protection and more advanced tools to give the user greater control in navigating the Web, said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer.

"Overall, for IE7, the principles we used were safer, easier and more powerful," Hachamovitch said.

But Microsoft's real motivation is to try to stem the defections to smaller providers, analysts said.

"The big point is that IE's been losing market share to Mozilla's Firefox," and now Microsoft is trying to catch up and regain user loyalty from people who have embraced Firefox's simple and more secure format, said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

"Perception of security is of the highest level" of concern for Microsoft, Munster said. With its new operating system, called Vista, slated for release early next year, Microsoft is trying to offer security reassurances to its customers.

A year ago, Internet Explorer commanded 88.6 percent of the market and Firefox had a mere 6.7 percent, according to Web statistician Net Applications. Last month, Microsoft's share was down to 84.7 percent and Firefox had jumped beyond 10 percent.

Firefox's increasing popularity was partially driven by Microsoft's worsening reputation for security, said Bruce Schneier, chief technical officer at Counterpane Internet Security Inc., a computer security firm.

"IE was the big target; if you're a virus writer, you chose the big target," he said.

The company has improved its ability to write secure code, he said, but it's unclear if the latest tools will address other dangers on the Internet, which require users to be more savvy.

For example, the new version of Internet Explorer will provide color-coded warnings when a user tries to access a Web site that is suspicious or known as fraudulent. But users already encounter -- and ignore -- many Internet warnings because they're hard for beginners to understand, Schneier said.

Internet Explorer's other new features include the abilities to automatically open several frequently used Web sites at once and print Web pages so the content doesn't get cut off on the right side. The new browser also allows users to tailor search functions, aggregating searches from various sources. It can also magnify pages so fonts are larger and easier to read.

A final version of the browser is expected to be released later this year.

Jensen Comment
The Beta version can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/default.mspx

Also note Windows Defender is now available in Beta from Microsoft --- Click Here

Windows Defender (Beta 2) is a free program that helps you stay productive by protecting your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software.

April 27, 2006 reply from Pacter, Paul (CN - Hong Kong) [paupacter@DELOITTE.COM.HK]

MSIE may be losing some users to Firefox, but it is still dominant among the last million or so visitors to www.iasplus.com :

IE 6     IE 5.5      IE 5.0      Firefox        NS 3.0         Others
80%      8%          6%            2%              1%              3%

Global data. I don't have browser data by country, and Firefox may be more dominant in USA.

Paul Pacter

April 27, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Paul,

It’s important to note that it is not an either or choice. People can have both IE and Firefox browsers on their computers connected to the Internet. There are some things that will only work in IE such as interactive DHTML spreadsheets ---- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/dhtml/excel01.htm 

IE is plagued by spyware. Firefox, to my knowledge, is currently immune to spyware. The current upsurge of Firefox use has been explosive and results might soon show up in your more recent tracking data. Firefox is free at http://download-firefox.org/ 

I advise people to use Firefox (Windows) or Safari (Mac) at home where protections against spyware and other bad stuff may not be as great as at work where companies and colleges invest much more in security protection systems. Your data may be somewhat biased since most visitors to IAS Plus probably do so at work where the only browser available is probably IE.

Given Microsoft’s dismal track record in dealing with security issues, I have my doubts whether IE’s Version 7 will be as protective as Firefox. However, Firefox on Windows is vulnerable if it attracts more attention from the spyware bad guys. The most secure alternative is the Safari browser on a Mac.

By the way, congratulations at reaching the 1 million visitor mark at IAS Plus You created a masterful site that is helpful to accountants in every part of the world (well maybe not at the South Pole) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm 

Bob Jensen

April 27, 2006 reply from Pacter, Paul (CN - Hong Kong) [paupacter@DELOITTE.COM.HK]

Thanks, Bob. I use MSIE 6, Firefox 1.5.0.2, and Netscape 8.0 happily together. In fact, I check most IASPlus pages in all three, because each renders pages a bit differently.

I'm not sure that Firefox is fully "immune to spyware". It does use cookies, same as MSIE. There are pop-up/under ads as well (though I think there are blocking extensions, just as there are various pop-up blockers for MSIE). I certainly agree that spyware is less of a consideration than with MSIE.

At home I've taken PC Magazine's recommendation and recently purchased Zone Alarm for virus, firewall, spyware, etc. Seems to be working fine though every once in a while I think it degrades performance slightly. On top of that I use AdAware for additional spyware removal, though I've turned off their AdWatch. I just downloaded Microsoft's Windows Defender and will check it out in the next few days. You will definitely regard me as paranoid in the extreme when I also tell you that I have installed at home, and periodically run, Advanced Spyware Detector, Spyware Doctor, and Spybot Search and Destroy!

I suspect you're right that the IASPlus data is a bit biased for the reasons you suggest.

Actually IASPlus has had about 3.5 million visitors from 206 countries -- though our tracking service doesn't seem to track the South Pole. I wonder which country visitors from the SP would be included in?

Warm regards from Hong Kong,

Paul

 

April 27, 2006 reply from Scott Bonacker [aecm@BONACKER.US]

There is an interesting article on this general subject at:

 http://snipurl.com/Explorer7   

The article ends with a quote - "Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word 'safe' that I wasn't previously aware of."

Scott Bonacker, CPA
Springfield, MO 65804

From The Washington Post on April 27, 2006

What percentage of Internet users now use Firefox as opposed to Microsoft's Internet Explorer?

A. more than 10 percent
B. more than 15 percent
C. more than 20 percent
D. more than 25 percent
 

Bob Jensen's threads on computing and network security are available at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection


Seagate is rolling out hard drives for PCs and other media
equipment that can hold 50 percent more than ever before.

"A Giant Leap: the 750-Gigabyte Hard Drive," MIT's Technology Review, April 27, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=16748


From Jim Mahar's finance blog on April 25, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Quoting from http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20060425/1036686.asp
"Podcasting - audio or video recordings posted online for use on computers or devices like iPods - has become a trendy academic tool on the nation's campuses, including UB, St. Bonaventure University and Buffalo State College......Why attend class if you can view or listen to the podcast? "That hasn't been an issue, at least not yet," said James Mahar, an assistant professor of finance at St. Bonaventure, who introduced podcasting in his class last semester.

Mahar - who has audio recordings of his finance management classes posted to his web site - sees the technology more as a course supplement for the students who miss a class or want to review.

It's ideal for students who are falling behind or who speak English as a second language.

"It will enable people to learn in a way that they are most comfortable," Mahar said. "Some people like to read, whereas others are better auditory learners. This will enable each to pick the way that best suits them."

Jim's finance class blog (with selected audio lectures) is at http://financeclass.blogspot.com/

Other helpful resources provided by Jim Mahar --- http://www.blogger.com/profile/3655492


Don't tell the ACLU that we could also tag people at the time of birth
Critics lambast plan to tag most U.S. farm animals by 2008 as a giant boondoggle for the tech industry. The national ID system is going to the dogs -- and the pigs, and the sheep and the cows and the chickens.
Audrey Hudson, "RFID 'Til the Cows Come Home," Wired News, April 24, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,70716-0.html?tw=wn_index_1
Jensen Comment
One benefit is that we could identify bank robbers the instant they leave the bank.

Is there a BCLU?
Biometric finger-scanning machines have been installed at six venues in Yeovil, southwest England. Clubbers will be asked to have their right index finger scanned and show picture identification to register on the system. The data is then stored on a computer network which other pubs and clubs in the scheme can access so that information on louts can be passed on quickly. "It will identify those who have previously been intent on causing trouble," said Sergeant Jackie Gold, of Avon and Somerset Police.
"British town's pubs scan fingerprints to spot louts," Yahoo News, April 28, 2006 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060428/od_afp/britaindrinktechnology_060428151148


"Surprise! CEOs Are Still Highly Paid! "Deserve" has nothing to do with it," by Holman W. Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal, May 03 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114661167480741940.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

It must be (insert time of day, season or year here) because the air is filled with complaints about CEO pay. To wit, CEOs are paid too much because they are "greedy." They are paid too much because their wages are the product of a corrupt bargain with crony boards. Sacred norms are violated: The average CEO makes 300 times an average worker's salary. What is the "right" number and where does it come from? The Bible? We'll get back to you.

You could do worse than revisit the case of one Joseph Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications, one of those shamelessly overpaid CEOs of the '90s. It shows, in the end, that very large CEO compensation is awarded in a logical and deliberate manner because it serves the legitimate interests of those awarding it.

Mr. Nacchio, an executive at AT&T, was recruited to Qwest by the company's founder, Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz. Mr. Anschutz, a famously shrewd dealmaker, dangled an offer of three million stock options, the explicit temptation being: Sign away five years of your life and I will give you the chance to become extraordinarily wealthy.

This is the basic transaction behind most "outrageous" CEO pay. And Mr. Nacchio had the good sense to go where Mr. Anschutz was leading him. Qwest's stock price soared and Mr. Nacchio eventually exercised options for a pre-tax gain of $250 million.

Now we come to the reason for focusing on Mr. Nacchio. In 2001, Mr. Anschutz prevailed on him to stay, offering essentially the same deal over again, and Mr. Nacchio sat down with the Rocky Mountain News to explain his compensation. What followed was a rare exercise in realism about CEO pay.

He noted that several Qwest executives with large stock-option windfalls had already left. "Look, it's very hard to keep guys and gals who work in the normal corporate structure and then all of a sudden over the period of two or three years, make $50 to $70 million. . . . Most people who make that kind of money will immediately say: 'seen it, done it in the corporate world, I'm going to do something else.'"

"I was faced with the choice: I either got to leave at the end of five [years], or I have to stay for a substantive period of time. . . . Look, I could go sit on the beach right now and never have to do another day's work."

He added: "You might say if you want to stay, why don't you just work for free? I think there are limits to how much you want to do something. If I did that, then my investors would judge my rationality and everything else I did."

There's a lot here, but suffice it to say, when you hear Pfizer's board being criticized for having guaranteed Hank McKinnell an $83 million retirement payout despite a crummy decade for drug stocks, remember Mr. McKinnell is a rich man and could be on a beach too.

Notice we don't use the language of "deserve" or "worth" or "reward," common in complaints about CEO pay. These are after-the-fact judgments, and any board that dishes up large pay for performance that's already in the books isn't doing shareholders any favor. "Pay for performance" is paying for the past, not the future, which is what stock prices care about.

That's why CEO pay is about incentives -- the incentive to commit to the job in the first place, the incentive to make decisions that benefit shareholders. Should a company go for broke on a new investment project or play it safe? Should it conserve cash or spend lavishly on customer service and advertising? Should it pay bonuses to employees or direct the same cash to the bottom line?

A shareholder is hardpressed to make these calls from the sidelines. Meanwhile, tugging at a CEO's elbow all the time are competing constituents who also want something at the company's expense. Hence the use of stock options, unabated by controversy and fully supported by valuations in the stock market, to put CEOs in the place of owners when making these choices. In turn, the market sits in judgment on a CEO's every move, adding or subtracting in a nanosecond a sum from the company's market value that dwarfs even the CEO's pay package.

You can complain, as critics do, that when boards are giving away stock options or any company asset, they aren't giving away something that belongs to them, so what do they care? Yep, that's also true of the guy who fills the supply closet or authorizes a new roof for the factory. It's true of the politicians who spend our tax dollars and the charities that dispose of our donations. "Agency" is a feature of organized life.

None of this means an Enron doesn't happen occasionally. Very large sums dangled in front of people will make some crazy (and we should note Mr. Nacchio is still fighting insider trading charges related to his Qwest stock sales). But notice that the average CEO, by the time he or she has spent a working life in one corporate job after another, would not have succeeded without a finely tuned sense of impulse control, a capacity to temper wishful thinking with realism, a capacity for coolness and restraint in dealing with frustration, opposition and risk.

What you get with the typical CEO, a few exceptions notwithstanding, is a seasoned grown-up capable of acting wisely and well under the heady incentives (and dangers) of corporate life.

Rote disapproval has been a feature of the landscape since pundits began noticing executive compensation 20 years ago, but the critics should at least have the courage of their resentment and stop trying to rationalize their disapproval with claims that CEO pay isn't, by and large, an honest product of the marketplace. High CEO pay exists because intelligent, savvy, self-interested investors and their representatives believe it's in their interest to award high CEO pay. And for that reason, high CEO pay won't be going away.

Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive pay are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#OutrageousCompensation


Free Long Distance Directory Service (via your telephone)
I used this some years back, but I generally forget about it when I need it.

April 24, 2006 message from Auntie Bev

Phone companies are charging us $1.00 or more for 411 / information calls when they don't have to.

When you need to use the 411 / information option simply dial 1-800-FREE-411 or 1 800 373-3411 without incurring a charge.

This is information people don't mind receiving - Pass it on.

Works on home phones and cell phones.

Jensen Comment
You can read more about this from Snopes at http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/nothing/free411.asp


"Studies on Dementia Often Confuse Causes With Consequences," by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114617411100137964.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

More likely, people with brainy jobs have more brainpower and a higher "cognitive reserve" (backup processing capacity). That leaves them less vulnerable to dementia because pathological processes that attack a well-endowed brain take longer to produce dementia than attacks on a weaker one. Similarly, watching lots of TV may be a consequence of poor mental function, not a cause. And maybe only people whose brains are already firing on all cylinders can learn Urdu or the mandolin at age 65. If so, then mental spryness causes them to take up and stick with cognitive challenges, from crossword puzzles to chess, not vice versa.

When it comes to preventing the cognitive decline that comes with age, it's easy to confuse causes with effects. That was clear in emails I got challenging the gloomy conclusion of last week's column. I noted the lack of empirical support for the idea that mental exercise slows the rate at which memory, reasoning and other brain functions worsen with age.

Just because people who choose to be (and can be) mentally active stay sharper longer doesn't mean that mental exercise is the cause of that mental preservation, alas.

To nail down what is truly causal, researchers must randomly assign people with some activity, then compare them with similar people who didn't have that intervention. Studies like this have yielded evidence that training can boost some forms of memory, puzzle-solving, reaction speed and perception, as many new products claim. The Israeli developers of MindFit, which will be available in the U.S. in June, will soon unveil results of a one-year clinical trial, showing the program improves memory, attention, perception and other mental functions, as well as real-world driving ability. Nintendo's Brain Age and the Web-based My Brain Trainer likely improve the skills they train you on, too, say scientists not connected with the products.

"There is no doubt that older people can improve their performance on these tasks through training," says research psychologist Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois, Urbana. "What we don't know is whether this transfers to real-world skills and cognitive function."

The training effect fades unless you keep upping the challenge. Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich of the University of California, San Francisco, has shown that attention is a prerequisite for plasticity, or the brain rewiring that underlies the acquisition of skills. If something becomes routine -- crossword puzzles, chess -- its brain-boosting effects wane.

Ironically, interventions that obliquely target mental fitness seem most promising. In a 2003 review of 18 studies, Prof. Kramer and colleagues found that strength training and aerobics keep executive functions -- planning, remembering, multitasking -- sharp.

"Cardiovascular fitness training improves cognitive function in the elderly in as little as six months," he says. "It increases the volume of gray matter [neurons] and white matter [which connects neurons] in regions that handle executive functions." It also improves the efficiency of networks that underlie some forms of memory and attention.

Another oblique intervention targets the stereotype that old age is one long mental slide. "Some problems the elderly experience with fluid intelligence -- problem solving and information processing -- come from how they think about getting old," says Bert Hayslip of the University of North Texas, Denton.

An action called "catastrophizing" affects how much effort people put into a mental task, and how anxious it makes them. Panicking when you forget a name floods the brain with cortisol, which is brain poison (especially to memory areas). In his studies, people who received cognitive-behavior therapy to avert catastrophizing had sharper fluid intelligence than a control group even three years later.

An intriguing program from Posit Science, in San Francisco, also targets cognitive decline indirectly. Old brains receive and store information in a weak and degraded form. Brain-chemical systems are also diminished. That causes the brain to process information sluggishly and incorrectly, which hurts thinking and remembering.

Based on decades of animal studies, Prof. Merzenich helped develop listening and language exercises to drive brain plasticity, improve the strength and fidelity of encoded information and rev up neurotransmitters. In a study presented last weekend, Posit reported that 95 seniors (average age 80) who used the program showed significant improvement on memory and cognition.

"Aging used to be seen as causing irreparable brain injury," says Michael Marsiske of the University of Florida. "But older adults can be made to perform better on almost anything."


"Harvard Hates Men," by: Malcolm A. Kline, Campus Report Online, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.campusreportonline.net/main/articles.php?id=905

The forced exit of economist Larry Summers from the presidency of Harvard is proof that liberals can also be the victims of the academic left. Harvard’s most identifiable conservative offers insights on how the putsch transpired, in the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books.

“In no way could it be said either that he had completed his mission, and thus deserved retirement, or that he had failed in it and so deserved to be booted,” Professor Harvey C. Mansfield writes in the Claremont Review. “The event is demeaning to all involved, but especially to the three main parties—the Harvard Corporation, the faculty and Mr. Summers.”

“These three share the blame in descending order, and speaking as an informed observer, not an insider, I will assess it as I see it now.” To recap, Summers angered feminists by pointing out that every available statistic shows that men are more inclined to scientific work, and the left generally by suggesting that the U. S. Reserve Officers Training Corps be allowed back on campus.

A long-time professor of History at Harvard, Dr. Mansfield is the author of a book on Manliness, a quality he finds in short supply on the governing body of the Cambridge citadel. “It could not summon the manly confidence to avow that Summers was being ousted because his agenda of renewal clashed with the diversity agenda of the feminist Left and its sympathizers,” Dr. Mansfield writes. “In its letter on Summers’s resignation, the corporation did not criticize him or his policies in any way, not even by hint or allusion.”

“With this failure it let stand the pretensions of the diversity crowd and ducked responsibility for its own action, attempting to palliate impudence with insincerity.” The Urban Institute’s Robert Reischauer sits on the corporation’s board as does Nannerl Keohane, the feminist former president of Duke, Dr. Mansfield notes.

On top of the political powder keg he ignited, Harvard’s recently deposed president also rubbed tenured faculty the wrong way by expecting them to meet professional standards, Dr. Mansfield recounts.

“The faculty opposed to Summers were divided into enemies and critics,” Dr. Mansfield writes. “His enemies planned or intended his demise as soon as he began to show that he had doubts about the diversity agenda.”

“They led the clamor against him in several faulty meetings in 2004. They were joined by critics, not necessarily of the Left, who had been wounded in encounters with Summers. To get more out of the faculty, he had to ask challenging questions, and those who could not make convincing replies sometimes felt they were being bullied, when in fact they had merely lost the argument. Mr. Summers did not pay attention to Machiavelli’s advice that ‘men should either be caressed or eliminated.’

“Yet in the confrontations in faculty meetings he himself was made to endure reproach and rancor beyond anything seen in the last 50 years at Harvard, including the troubles of the late 1960s.” And Dr. Mansfield should know. He was there.

But what of Summers’ role in his own downfall? “He believed it would be divisive to admit that there were ‘sides’ in the dispute,” Dr. Mansfield explains. “He worried about returning to the partisanship within the faculty of the late 1960s.”

“But of course the other side had organized early on in his administration. He and Dean Kirby allowed the election in 2004 of a Faculty Council (the faculty representative body) composed of his worst enemies, that plotted against him throughout. It would have been easy to expose them, for they tended to overreach. Instead, they succeeded in a goal that they never thought they could attain.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.


From the Scout Report on April 28, 2006

Center for Global Development --- http://www.cgdev.org/

A number of think-tanks and related organizations have sprung up in recent years with the intent of researching various development initiatives around the world. Founded in 2001, the Center for Global Development is just such an organization, and they are primarily concerned with offering “….practical, creative solutions to the challenges that global interdependence poses to the developing countries, starting with debt.” So far, they have assembled an impressive list of research fellows and partners, a fact that is apparent upon visiting their homepage. Visitors would do well to start by looking through their “Initiatives” area, which offers brief introduction to their primary thematic areas of interest, which include debt relief and population dynamics. Along with this area, a nice complement is the section dedicated to providing access to their publications, which include working papers on infrastructure development in Africa and corruption and governance in public health care systems. Rounding out the site are areas where visitors can sign up to receive email updates and sections dedicated to their in-house blogs.


Pew Global Attitudes Project ---  http://pewglobal.org/ 

Most social scientists will tell you that it is fairly hard to get any type of meaningful sense of public opinion on any number of important issues, so it is with great interest that the Scout Report has found the website of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. With principal funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Global Attitudes Project was created with the intent to gauge public attitudes toward globalization, democracy, and a number of other crucial issues. To accomplish this task, they have conducted over 90,000 interviews in 50 countries over the past few years. So far, their work has yielded a number of intriguing reports which deal with subjects such as Islamic extremism, the war in Iraq, and prosperity in China. Visitors can view all of these reports on the site, and also take a look at the datasets used to craft each report. Finally, visitors can elect to sign up to receive email updates when new reports are released.


Achieve.org (State of Education) --- http://www.achieve.org 

These days, a number of individuals are making sure that the nation’s young people are not left behind, and in addition, a number of organizations have been passionately involved in these efforts as well. One such group is Achieve, which was founded in 1996 by the nations’ governors and business leaders. As their website notes, “Achieve serves as a significant national voice for quality in standards-based education reform.” Most visitors will want to start out by taking a look at the “How Does Your State Stack Up?” feature. Here visitors can see how their state’s high school policies measure up with the demands of college and work, and also how well students in each state are progressing through the educational system in general. The site also offers access to “Perspective”, Achieve’s monthly e-newsletter which covers such topics as college readiness and post-college job expectations. Overall, this is a most useful site for both persons interested in the overall state of education in the United States as well as policy makers in this field.


Jane Jacobs, noted champion of cities and activist, passes away at age 89

Jane Jacobs: A Fearless Clarity --- Click Here

NPR: Urban visionary Jane Jacobs Dies [Real Player]
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5362409

Home Remedies: The Vibrant Legacy of Jane Jacobs
http://www.slate.com/id/2140615/?nav=tap3

All in the Planning, and Worth Preserving 
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/27/nyregion/27blocks.html

The New Yorker: Cities and Songs
http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/?040517ta_talk_gopnik

Jane Jacobs Interviewed by Jim Kunstler
http://www.kunstler.com/mags_jacobs1.htm

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, many noted experts had determined that the American city was approaching a nadir of sorts. With a tremendous exodus of people and capital away from the central city, radical change was called for, and as a result, many cities found themselves beset by massive urban renewal projects designed to remedy a vast array of social ills. Amidst this din, a feisty and contrary voice arose: Jane Jacobs. Based on her own observations in and around Greenwich Village, Jacobs through her activism and well-known books (which included "The Death and Life of Great American

Cities") began to articulate a critique that, challenging the prevailing trends towards massive urban renewal, cities actually benefited from densely populated streets and byways. She often referred to the near-constant motion of these places as the "sidewalk ballet", and she argued forcefully for sustaining such places at all costs. While she eventually left the United States to live in Toronto, she continued to advocate for the vibrancy of cities for the remainder of her life, as she went on to pen works that included "The Economy of Cities", "The Nature of Economics", and "Dark Age Ahead." [KMG]

The first link will lead visitors to an encomium offered in this Thursday’s Toronto Star by the former mayor of Winnipeg, Glen Murray, who observes that Jacobs’ was "both an optimist and skeptic." The second link will take users to a brief audio news feature from National Public Radio that includes comments by Robert Caro on Jacobs’ legacy and work. The third link whisks users to a piece by Witold Rybczynski in this Wednesday’s edition of Slate.

In the piece, he discusses some of the criticism that has been leveled at her work over the years. The fourth link leads to a piece by the New York Times’ David W. Dunlap on Jacobs’ landmark work "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", complete with an audio feature on her legacy. The fifth link leads to a short article from the May 17, 2004 New Yorker in which Jacobs returns to New York to offer comment on the state of urbanism in the city at that moment. The sixth link leads to a nice interview with Jacobs from 2000, conducted by another controversial commentator on American cities, James Kunstler. In the piece, they discuss Toronto and her early experiences in New York.


Free Download Manager (Entire Websites) --- http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/ 

While there may in fact be no such thing as a free lunch, a certain well- known economist (and regular readers of the Scout Report) might be pleasantly surprised to learn that there is such a thing as a quality free download manager available for their consideration. This application allows users to retrieve files and entire websites up to 600 percent faster, and can be integrated seamless with Opera, Mozilla, and other popular web browsers. The application also includes a feature that allows users to view the progress of their downloads and also determine the total traffic usage. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 95 and newer.


Shrook 2.5 --- http://www.utsire.com/shrook/ 

If you are looking for a handy way to keep on top of the news and other such timely events, Shrook 2.5 will be a most welcome find. With Shrook, visitors can download any number of podcasts, and also receive instant notifications about new RSS items. Other features include the ability to “scrapbook” items for later and the ability to also use an integrated channel guide. This version is compatible with all computers running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or 10.4.

 


Link forwarded by Helen Terry

MIT pulls course Web page after complaints
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology took down a history course Web page after Chinese students complained about a 19th century wood-print image of Japanese soldiers beheading Chinese prisoners. The complaints led to an apology from one of the professors teaching "Visualizing Cultures," which uses images from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895.
"MIT pulls course Web page after complaints," CNN, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/04/28/mit.chinese.students.ap/index.html


Flashback from The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 1990 News that former Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. junk-bond chief Michael Milken pleaded guilty to six felony counts had little effect on the junk-bond market. Mr. Milken is widely credited with creating the market a decade ago but his presence has diminished.


Revolving door minorities among faculties of universities
Efforts to hire more members of racial minority groups onto college faculties are undermined by significant turnover of those who are hired, according to a report by the James Irvine Foundation and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The report, which was based on a review of faculty hiring at 27 private colleges in California between 2000 and 2004, found that the proportion of black, Hispanic and Native American/Alaskan Native professors rose from 7 to 9 percent over the period. But it also found that three of every five minority faculty members hired were replacing other minority professors. “With the revolving door spinning minority faculty right back out, efforts to increase faculty diversity are simply not having the impact they should,” said José F. Moreno, assistant professor of Chicano and Latino studies at California State University at Long Beach, the report’s lead author.
Inside Higher Ed, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/26/qt


GASB WHITE PAPER IDENTIFIES KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FINANCIAL REPORTING FOR GOVERNMENTS AND FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS ENTITIES
Source: Governmental Accounting Standards Board Country: United States
Date: 27/04/2006
Accounting Education News, April 27, 2006 --- http://accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=newsdetails&id=142723
Contributor: Andrew Priest Web: http://www.gasb.org/ 


Scott McLemee goes to a history conference

"A Day in the Life," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/04/26/mclemee 

That day, on the Web site of The New York Observer, there had appeared an essay on LF by Ron Rosenbaum — the author of, among other things, a brilliant and unnerving book called Explaining Hitler.

In his piece, Rosenbaum lauded the magazine as a place that did not merely report on university life, but encouraged “thinking about the nature of human nature and human society, the nature of the cosmos, the nature of the mind itself (thinking about factors that underlie all politics).” Similar tributes were being offered around the table as the dishes were delivered. Somebody compared LF to Partisan Review. One historian suggested that it was time for a monograph.

Meanwhile I chewed my tongue quietly. Between 1995 and 2001, I had been a regular contributor to the magazine. Not that many publications with large audiences would let you write about the literary criticism of Northrop Frye, the philosophical architectonics of Richard McKeon, or the strange little pamphlet that Immanuel Kant wrote about the mystical visions of Emmanuel Swedenborg. Even fewer would then pay you. Now it molders in “the elephants’ graveyard of dead magazines.”

Elephants are supposed to have powerful memories, of course. Now it seems to be time for the historians of journalism to do the remembering. But when I look back at that period, it’s not to recall the glory days. There are too many recollections of botched opportunities and missed deadlines, and the occasional wince-inducing editorial decision. A few droplets of bad blood are sprayed across the sepia-toned mental snapshots. If I tried to write about LF, the result would probably be a satirical novel instead of a eulogy.

Continued in article


Marketing of Evil' opposed by the gay community is locked out of over 99% of college libraries
The Virginia Tech librarian ran a database search on "The Marketing of Evil" to see how many libraries worldwide had a copy, and came up with some surprising results. He searched WorldCat, an online database of the Dublin, Ohio-based Online Computer Library Center, or OCLC, which is accessed by more than 53,548 libraries in 96 countries and territories worldwide. "According to WorldCat," he said, "only 188 libraries worldwide report owning a copy of 'The Marketing of Evil.' I'm pleased that Virginia Tech is one of only eight libraries in Virginia that reports owning the book. I had requested it because I wanted to read it. One of my colleagues saw to it that it was purchased. We are now pleased to see that it is currently checked out."
"'Marketing of Evil' locked out of college libraries," World Net Daily, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49921


Germans facing up to the real costs of an unregulated monopoly
But central to Ms. Köllner's argument is the idea that the company and others like it can raise costs for consumers beyond what world prices justify because they control the networks that deliver the gas to households. Consumers in her region are protesting increases of 32 percent over the last 18 months, using consumer protection laws to pry open E.On's books and reveal profit margins . . . In 2005, natural gas cost 10.16 euros, or $12.60, per gigajoule for an average household in Germany, compared with 6.91 euros in Britain, where competition is more developed, according to Eurostat. Part of the problem, critics say, is that the government did not provide for adequate checks and balances when it began to liberalize the natural gas market. In 19 of the 25 European Union countries, gas prices are regulated. But not in Germany.
Carter Dougherty, "Germans, Already Mad, Try to Get Even Over Gas Prices," The New York Times, May 2, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/02/business/worldbusiness/02power.html


Huge Upsurge in Income Tax Collections

"An April Shower of Tax Revenue," by Michael Englund, Business Week, May 3, 2006 --- Click Here

All the daily data for receipt of tax payments by the U.S. Treasury for the key month of April are now available, and the results speak for themselves: By our estimates at Action Economics http://www.actioneconomics.com/, April receipts soared at a 15% year-over-year rate.  This is well in excess of the 2% year-over-year growth in outlays, which were depressed by a "pull ahead" of some spending into March because of calendar effects.

The April data signal that the fiscal 2006 U.S. budget deficit is on track to reach the vicinity of our $270 billion forecast, despite official and market forecasts that are all nearly $50 billion to $150 billion higher.  A shortfall of this magnitude in the U.S. budget deficit from official forecasts by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) happens with remarkable consistency in healthy "middle years" of business expansions, and it's happening again.

For those who don't pay U.S. taxes, April is when Americans "settle up" for the previous year, and so receipt data in this volatile month removes most of the uncertainty for each year's budget-deficit forecast.  We still don't have the official monthly figures, but the daily data imply that we saw an April Treasure surplus that could reach $100 billion, and that we more conservatively peg at $95 billion.

Continued in article


"Judge Lets Charges Stand in KPMG Case," The New York Times, May 2, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/02/business/02kpmg.html

The federal judge overseeing the KPMG tax shelter case has refused to dismiss charges against 18 defendants accused of setting up questionable shelters for rich clients to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.

In a decision dated Friday and released yesterday, the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, of Manhattan, said the government had proved the possible existence of a conspiracy well enough to allow the case to go forward.

He also rejected arguments that prosecutors would be unable to show that the defendants acted with criminal intent because either the shelters were legal, or were governed by "uncertain" law.

The government is accusing 18 defendants, including 16 former KPMG executives, of planning to defraud the I.R.S. Prosecutors said the questionable shelters created at least $11.2 billion in fake tax losses, and deprived the government of $2.5 billion in taxes.

KPMG agreed in August to pay $456 million, accept an outside monitor and admit to wrongdoing in resolving a federal inquiry into the shelters.

Bob Jensen's threads on KPMG are at https://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#KPMG


Tips for Tech Support Pros
"Tech Support: Life on the Other End of the Line Death threats, PCs hurled out windows, squeals of joy--tech support pros see it all," by Tom Spring, The Washington Post, April 29, 2006 --- Click Here

I spoke with many tech support professionals for " I spoke with many tech support professionals for "Support Tips From the Pros ," a brief article about how to get the most out of your tech support call. My goal was simple: to create a tip sheet on what it takes to get your PC fixed over the phone in the shortest amount of time.



Question
Do liberal campus heroes practice what they preach?

"Do As I Say," by Peter Schweizer, FrontPageMagazine, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=22207

Now this is a pretty noxious approach to say that you’re going to have a black headcount. But this is oftentimes what happens with the liberal left. When they discuss affirmative action, the only way that you can prove your commitment to the cause is by looking at the numbers. Let’s run the numbers. Do you have a work force that is sufficiently diverse? And if the numbers don’t measure up, you are de facto racists and bigots.

Michael Moore, as a result of this view, advocates what he calls “aggressive affirmative action.” He’s very clear on this in his book. Here Michael Moore is at his most sanctimonious when he says, “If you’re white and you really want to change things, why not start with yourself?”

Therefore, I decided to start with Michael Moore. Michael Moore likes to talk about affirmative action. Michael Moore likes to badger the rest of us about it. Let’s take a look at Michael Moore’s hiring practices. This was a very easy thing to do because, as a lot of you who are familiar with the entertainment industry probably know, the industry is decided by credits. You can find out who worked on a film, who worked on a book, who worked on a television show by simply looking at the people who were credited in those positions. So I did that in the case of Michael Moore. Let’s see what we found.

Starting with his first film, Roger and Me, the crew and all of that was all white. But let’s cut him a little bit of slack, since he was starting out in the business. He was in Flint, Michigan and these were his buddies so it must just be an aberration. There’s his second film, Pets are Meat, Return to Flint, his second documentary. That was all white as well. Canadian Bacon was his feature film. Hopefully nobody had the misfortune of seeing that film. All the senior people he hired in this case were white as well.

Then you get to TV Nation, his television series. Almost all of the senior people in this case were white. Then you had Fahrenheit 911. Again all the senior people are white, with particularly ironic about this is, two years before Fahrenheit 911 came out, Michael Moore, in Stupid White Men, said, “All minorities who are interested in working in the television and film industry should send me their résumés because I want to hire you.” Well, I guess this was the first film he did after that. I assume those résumés probably got lost in the mail. Then there’s The Big One, another one of his documentaries. Again, all the senior people that worked on that film were white. Bowling for Columbine, similar situation.

What is the grand total? How is Michael Moore doing? I found that he had hired 134 people since 1990 to work on his film projects, his documentaries and his books. Of those 134, a grand total of 2 were actually African-American. I should say that I found one white individual who was an African-American studies major, so maybe he counts that as well.

But the point I’m making is that Michael Moore, who likes to go on in extreme pomposity to complain how racist and bigoted we are, has an absolutely horrible record when it comes to actually hiring minorities.

Well, Al Franken’s in the same business as Michael Moore—entertainment. Again, you can take a look at the credits. What you find with Al Franken is a very similar pattern. All the people he’s hired to work on all of his projects, with one exception, have been white. In fact, Al Franken hired 112 people and only one was African-American. Now this is particularly funny for Al Franken. He wrote a book a couple of years ago called, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Did anybody have the misfortunate of reading that book? Okay. Well, Al Franken devotes an entire chapter of the book on a very easy target for liberals, and that is this fundamentalist college in the Carolinas called Bob Jones University. Whenever liberals want to look at religious conservatives, they go to Bob Jones University. And that’s what Al Franken did and, in this chapter, he talks about how abhorrent it is that Bob Jones University has a student body population that is only 1% African-American. The irony of course is that, based on the numbers, Al Franken’s staff is whiter than Bob Jones University. It’s a stunning development, when you think about it.

Let’s talk about some other issues, burning issues such as Michael Moore and capitalism and corporations. This is probably his favorite subject, because Michael Moore believes that corporations are uniformly evil. He has said numerous times, he doesn’t think capitalism is right “on any level.” He has called capitalism “another evil empire,” in contrast to the evil empire, the Soviet Union, which is gone. We’ve still got one we need to defeat. He says that corporate managers are in fact “corporate terrorists.” People who work for Halliburton he calls “corporate thugs.” Halliburton—remember the name of that company.

He says oil companies “rape and destroy our environment,” and he says pharmaceutical companies are “greedy and kill people.” I guess this is their business model—to kill off their customer base. He’s said repeatedly, “I don’t own a single share of stock because it’s morally wrong.” Now this is something that he likes to trump out all the time on college campuses. He actually goes and tells young people, “You don’t want to work for the big man. You don’t want to work for the boss man. You don’t want to work for corporations. You don’t want to invest in the stock market because, by investing in the stock market, you are cooperating with the debasement of the world. You’re exploiting people in developing worlds. You’re exploiting American workers.”

This is what Michael Moore tells college campuses. What he tells the IRS is something very different. You see, Michael Moore and his wife set up a tax shelter about 15 years ago when they started making money on Roger and Me. This is a private foundation. They completely control it. It has no employees. There are only two members of the board and the two members of the board are Michael Moore and his wife. It’s registered at their home. This is an example of some of the capital gains that they’ve taken in recent years. This is the allegedly stock-less Michael Moore.

It makes very interesting reading because you find Pfizer, for example. He bought shares of Pfizer. He’s owned shares in Schlumberger, an oil well-drilling company. He’s owned shares in Noble Energy, which is an oil pipeline company. If you look about 60% down the right-hand column, you can see that, a few years ago he actually owned shares in Halliburton, of all things. Can you imagine a shareholder meeting with Michael Moore and Dick Cheney?

The point is that Michael Moore is very much involved in the stock market and it’s a good thing. He’s a wealthier man because of it. While he goes around telling people on college campuses, “Don’t be involved with the Big Man,” Michael Moore’s actually in bed with the Big Man. Michael Moore is an individual who has invested in the stock market and is very much the corporate investor that he professes to lament and dislike.

Then there’s Ralph Nader—Saint Ralph, of course. People on the left may think that he has gone off the reservation a few times, but otherwise he’s completely morally clean. At least that is the agenda. He has taken the same view that Michael Moore has, that, corporations have eroded our standards of living and sometimes life itself. He complains about rampant speculation on Wall Street and he says, “We shouldn’t make decisions based on “sales and profits and corporate yardsticks.” Instead we should invest in what he calls “consumer-owned private enterprises at a community level.”

Ralph Nader talks a lot about co-ops. He loves co-ops. The problem is, Ralph Nader doesn’t invest in co-ops. You see, when Ralph Nader ran for President, and he’s run a couple of times, he released his financial disclosure forms. What these reveal is that Ralph Nader has no investments in community co-ops but he owns stock in a whole host of companies. What’s interesting is, they’re all non-union. These are high-tech companies that do a whole lot of business in the developing third world. This is the friend of the working man. He wants other people to invest in co-ops but he’s going to invest in Fortune 500 companies himself.

But it gets even deeper with Ralph Nader, because he’s been an activist for more than 40 years. What’s very interesting is, when you go back and look at Ralph Nader’s stock investments over the years, through tax shelters that he owns, you find a very, very interesting pattern. For example, in 2002, he supported the fair use of copyright, which was a position supported by Verizon, a company in which he owned $300,000 in stock. In 2000, when he campaigned for the break-up of Microsoft, he quietly held investments in a whole host of high-tech companies that also wanted to see the break-up of Microsoft and understood that it would benefit their business.

In 1976, he campaigned against Firestone but he bought shares in Goodyear. This is all completely documented. In 1973, he bought shares in Allied Chemical, which produced air bags, about a month before he came out publicly in support of air bags. In 1970, he campaigned against the merger involving IT&T and he quietly short-sold those stocks, anticipating of course that, if the merger didn’t go through, he would make a lot of money.

In 1967, the case that made him famous, he campaigned against General Motors because of the Corvair. He never told anybody he had stock in Ford. What’s very interesting about that case is there was actually a reporter that found about this and asked him about it. He said, “You know, Mr. Nader, I just talked to your broker and he said that you bought shares in Ford.” Ralph Nader’s explanation was, “Those shares weren’t for me. Those were my mother’s shares.” So I guess the Nader family is very much involved in financial investing.

I have another section I like to call, “Workers of the World Unite Somewhere Else.” This is where we find Nancy Pelosi—Democrat leader in the House, the best friend of labor unions you can imagine. She says that labor unions are vital to negotiating good wages and working conditions. She won the Cesar Chavez award from the United Farmworkers Union in 2003. Remember that, the United Farmworkers Union. She is the top recipient of PAC contributions from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union.

What’s interesting about that is, there were several strikes a few years ago in San Francisco, where she came down strongly on the side of the hotel employees and restaurant employees union and campaigned aggressively for them against other hotels. Of course she is the most reliable vote in Congress for organized labor.

What’s interesting about Nancy Pelosi is that she and her husband not only are very influential in the Democrat Party, they’re very wealthy. With Nancy Pelosi, her commitment to organized labor essentially ends when it comes to her own businesses. Nancy Pelosi and her husband own a Napa Valley vineyard that’s worth about $25 million. They grow very expensive grapes for very expensive wines, and they don’t use members of the United Farm Workers to pick their grapes. This winner of the Cesar Chavez award hires only hire non-union contractors.

There are plenty of union contractors in Napa Valley and there are other wineries that use them, its’ just that the Pelosis don’t have happen to among them. They also sell their grapes to non-union wineries. They recently held investments in two other wine businesses that were also strictly non-union.

But it gets even worse than that. Nancy Pelosi and her husband also own a chain of restaurants and a hotel in Napa Valley, California. Despite her public commitment to the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, you better not join that union and work for the Pelosis, because you will end up getting fired. For example, they are partners in a hotel with 250 employees, which is strictly non-union. They are among the very few owners of Piati, a chain of Italian restaurants with 900 employees. Again, if you try to join the union when you work for the Pelosis in their restaurant, you will be fired.

One other issue for Nancy Pelosi. I hate to pick on her, but it’s just so inviting. As they say in the military, it’s a target-rich environment. With Nancy Pelosi, another big issue is the environment. She always makes statements that, with us, the environment is not an issue, it’s an ethic, it’s a value. Which is a nice way of saying, “I love the environment, but not when it comes to our own businesses.” A lot of people don’t realize that, in 1996, Nancy Pelosi and her husband and fewer than 10 other partners wanted to build a golf course and country club outside of San Jose, California, called the CordeValle Country Club. In order to get approval to build on these 275 acres, they had to comply with some very stringent county environmental regulations. Now the California tiger salamander and the Western pond turtle are apparently endangered species and they’re very, very common on these 275 acres that the Pelosis wanted to develop.

So the agreement they struck with local regulators was, we’ll build the golf course, we’ll set up some holding ponds and we’ll create a natural habitat to make sure that these environmental endangered species survive.

Of course, they built the golf course. It opened in 2000. If you want to join, the membership is $250,000. But they never followed the environmental regulations. The ponds were never built for these endangered species. For seven years, they also failed to file any of the environmental reports required by the California Fish and Wildlife Commission. A 2004 County Environmental Compliance Report found all kinds of environmental problems on the Pelosis’ golf course.

Remember with Nancy Pelosi, her commitment to the environment is not just an issue, it’s an ethic and a value. What does that actually mean in practical terms? Did they turn around and build this habitat and comply? No, they solved the problem the old-fashioned way: they hired lobbyists and they got the environmental regulations changed. So if you go to the CordeValle Country Club today and play golf, it’s a wonderful course, but there will be no holding ponds. There will be no endangered species and the Pelosis seem to be quite happy with that.

There’s one more individual, sort of the liberal lion of the U.S. Senate, and that would be Ted Kennedy. If there’s one issue that Ted Kennedy likes more than any other, it’s taxes. In his mind, he’s the Robin Hood of the U.S. Senate. He’s going to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He talks about tax cuts or bonanzas for the rich and giveaways. He supports the inheritance tax in the name of social justice and says repealing it would benefit millionaires. He believes it’s that simple.

That’s what Ted Kennedy says about taxes. But what is the Kennedy record of actually paying taxes? Ted Kennedy of course is a millionaire. You’d think the inheritance tax would affect him. How has that worked out? The reality is that the Kennedys have set up dozens of trusts around the world to avoid paying the very tax that he says is important to pay in the name of social justice: the inheritance tax. What’s particularly ironic about this is, for a long time, their largest asset was Merchandise Mart, the real estate conglomerate. When they decided to set up a trust, where do they domicile that trust? Anybody want to guess? Was it Massachusetts, their home state? Florida? California? Delaware?

The Kennedys domiciled Merchandize Mart, with more than $600 million, on the Pacific Island nation of Fiji. Has Ted Kennedy ever been to Fiji? I don’t think there’s any record that he has. But they picked Fiji because it avoids IRS scrutiny, the sort that you would get if you domiciled the trust in the United States.

The reality today is that Ted Kennedy receives money from trusts established numerous times, from 1926, 1936, 1978, 1987, and 1997, and those trusts of course are designed to avoid paying the inheritance tax.

What does this actually mean in practical terms? Let me give you the bottom line. Ted Kennedy supports an inheritance tax of 49%. Forty-nine percent of what you have goes to the IRS after you die. Now, what rate did the Kennedys pay? The Kennedys have transferred $300 million, this is all according to their records, they have transferred $300 million from one generation to the other, and out of that, they have paid $132,000 in taxes, which is nowhere near 49%? Actually it’s .004 percent. The Kennedys, like a lot of other people on the left, love the idea of paying taxes for other people. When it comes to themselves, they’re not so interested.

Who else puts their trust in trusts? These are individuals who favor the estate tax and say its important in the name of social justice, but that set up a trust to avoid paying it? Well, George Soros, Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky. Noam Chomsky is particularly interesting. This self-professed radical socialist actually set up a trust to avoid paying taxes, even though he has denounced trusts in his book. I contacted Chomsky by an e-mail. To his credit, he did respond and I asked him, “How can you, in good conscience, denounce rich people avoiding paying taxes when you’re doing the very same thing?” His explanation was, “I don’t apologize for putting aside money for my children or grandchildren.” For a radical socialist, that sounds pretty bourgeoisie, doesn’t it?

I said to him, “Look, this is a ridiculous claim. Why are you any different than any other parent?” His explanation was that it was okay because he and his family are “trying to help suffering people.” In other words, it’s okay for him to do it and not for the rest of us.

There’s just one more issue with Ted Kennedy, which is important, besides being fun and that is Ted Kennedy and gun control. This has been a big issue for him for decades. He wants an outright ban on handguns. He wants limits on all rifles and submachines guns. His view is that guns don’t make people safer. You may think they make you safer, but they really don’t make you safer.

A few years ago, Ted Kennedy’s body guard, was arrested on Capitol Hill. This did not get a lot of press. He was trying to get into the Russell Senate office building and he was carrying unregistered weapons, including one handgun, two submachine guns and 146 rounds of ammunition.

The explanation from Kennedy’s office? Kennedy’s spokesman said, “The Senator’s primary concern was leaving the city with adequate protection.” Now I’m sure that two submachine guns would make anybody feel safe. In practical terms, what Ted Kennedy says he believes and what he believes when it comes to his own life, is radically different.

Hypocrisy is part of the human condition. If we set high standards for ourselves, we all are going to fall short from time to time. Conservatives and everyone else engage in hypocrisy. There’s the pro-family politician who cheats on his wife. There’s the issue involving Rush Limbaugh and the Oxycontin, or Bill Bennett and gambling. All cases where there seemed to be a gap between what people said and what they actually did.

But there’s a fundamental difference between conservative and liberal hypocrisy. Think about the conservatives who have abandoned their principles: Rush Limbaugh or Bill Bennett or the pro-family politician who cheats on his wife. Those individuals have said that it was a dramatic mistake, that it hurt them and it hurt their families. In other words, it was a bad thing that they abandoned their principles. The point is those conservative principles are kind of like guard rails on a winding road. You don’t always like it that they’re there. They can kind of be irritating and bothersome. But they’re there to protect you and to make your life better, and that is the experience.

But you would be hard pressed to find a conservative who has engaged in hypocritically behavior and who has ended up the better because of it.

Interestingly, with liberals, it’s the opposite. Liberal hypocrites oftentimes improve their lives when they’re hypocrites. For example, Michael Moore is better off because, instead of buying into his own rhetoric and avoiding corporations, he’s wealthier because he invests in them. Ted Kennedy actually feels safer because he has an armed body guard rather than a body guard who just sort of stands there.

The point is that liberal principles oftentimes are bad for you. They take away your rights, they take away your freedoms, and they end up hurting your prosperity. At the end of the day, what this hypocrisy teaches us is not just about the failures of the icons of the liberal left, also something about their ideas, and that is that people on the liberal left, when it comes to the things that matter most in their own lives, do not trust those things to their own ideas.

Thank you.




Forwarded by Auntie Bev

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

Eventually the topic got around to former Texas Governor, George W. Bush and his elevation to the White House.

The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'."

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was.

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain, "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb shit get down.
 


A roasting of President Bush that did not leave him smiling
"Re-Improved Colbert transcript (now with complete text of Colbert-Thomas video!)," Daily Kos, May 1, 2006 --- http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/4/30/1441/59811

 




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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
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