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
Developing Theory about the Development of Theory
PG. #355 & 356 MINTZBERG I have no clue how I develop theory. I don't think about it; I just try to do it. Indeed, thinking about it could be dangerous:
The centipede was happy quite
Until a toad in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg gores after which?"
That worked her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in a ditch
Considering how to run.
(Mrs. Edward Craster, 1871)
I have no desire to lay distracted in a ditch considering how to develop theory. Besides, that's the work of cognitive psychologists, who study concept attainment, pattern recognition, and the like, but never really tell us much about how we think. Nonetheless, I'll take the bait, this once, at the request of the editors of this book, because I probably won't get far either.
I want to start with what theory isn't and then go on to what theory development isn't, for me at least, before turning, very tentatively, to what they seem to be.
17.1 WHAT THEORY ISN'T: TRUE It is important to realize, at the outset, that all theories are false. They are, after all, just words and symbols on pieces of paper, about the reality they purport to describe; they are not that reality. So they simplify it. This means we must choose our theories according to how useful they are, not how true they are. A simple example will explain.
In 1492, we discovered truth. The earth is round, not flat. Or did we? Is it?
To make this discovery, Columbus sailed on the sea. Did the builders of his ships, or at least subsequent ones, correct for the curvature of the sea? I suspect not; to this day, the flat earth theory works perfectly well for the building of ships.
But not for the sailing of ships. Here the round earth theory works much better. Otherwise, we would not have heard from Columbus again. Actually that theory is not true either, as a trip to Switzerland will quickly show. It is no coincidence that is was not a Swiss who came up with the round earth theory. Switzerland is the land of the bumpy earth theory, also quite accurate--there. Finally, even considered overall, say from a satellite, the earth is not round; it bulges at the equator (although what to do with this theory I'm not sure).
If the earth isn't quite round or flat or even even, then how can we expect any other theory to be true? Donald Hebb, the renowned psychologist, resolved this problem quite nicely: "A good theory is one that holds together long enough to get you to a better theory."
But as our examples just made clear, the next theory is often not better so much as more useful for another application. For example, we probably still use Newton's physics far more than that of Einstein. This is what makes fashion in the social sciences so dysfunctional, whether the economists' current obsession with free markets or the psychologists' earlier captivation with behavioralism. So much effort about arm's lengths and salivating dogs. Theory itself may be neutral, but the promotion of any one theory as truth is dogma, and that stops thinking in favor of indoctrination.
So we need all kinds of theories--the more, the better. As researchers, scholars, and teachers, our obligation is to stimulate thinking, and a good way to do that is to offer alternate theories--multiple explanations of the same phenomena. Our students and readers should leave our classrooms and publications pondering, wondering, thinking--not knowing.
PG. #358 & 359 MINTZBERG But it does so much of the time, because we confuse rigor with relevance, and deduction with induction. Indeed the proposal I received for this very book did that: "...the process of theory building and testing is objective and enjoys a self-correcting characteristic that is unique to science. Thus the checks and balances involved in the development and testing of theory are so conceived and used that they control and verify knowledge development in an objective manner independent of the scientist." They sure do: that is why we see so little induction in our field, the creation of so little interesting theory.
Kark Popper, whose name a secretary of mine once mistyped as "Propper," wrote a whole book about The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959). In the first four pages (27-30), in a section entitled "The Problem of Induction," he dismissed this process, or more exactly what he called, oxymoronically, "inductive logic." Yet with regard to theory development itself, he came out much as I did above.
The initial stage, the act of conceiving or inventing a theory, seems to me neither to call for logic analysis not to be susceptible of it. The question how it happens that a new idea occurs to a man--whether it is a musical theme, a dramatic conflict, or a scientific theory--may be of great interest to empirical psychology; but it is irrelevant to the logical analysis of scientific knowledge. This latter is concerned not with questions of fact (Kant's quid facti?), but only with questions of justification or validity (Kant's quid juris?)...Accordingly, I shall distinguish sharply between the process of conceiving a new idea, and the methods and results of examining it logically. (Popper, 1959: 31)
Fair enough. But why, when he devoted the rest of his book to "the deductive method of testing" (p. 30), did Popper title his book "The Logic of Scientific Discovery"? What discovery is there in deduction? Maybe something about the how, why, when, and where of given theory (as noted earlier), but not the what--not the creation of the theory itself. (Indeed why did Popper call his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery when in the passage above he used, more correctly, the phrase "scientific knowledge"?) And why have untold numbers of researchers-in-training been given this book to read as if it is science, and research, when it is only one side of these, and the side wholly dependent on the other, which is dismissed with a few words at the beginning? What impression has that left on doctoral students in our fields? (Read the journals.) As Karl Weick (1969: 63) quoted Somerset Maugham, "She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer made her confident way toward the while cliff of the obvious."
Popper devoted his book to deductive research for the purposes of falsifying theories. But as noted earlier, falsification by itself adds nothing; only when it is followed by the creation of new theories or at lest the significant adaptation of old ones do we get the necessary insights. As Alfred Hirshman put it, "A model is never defeated by the facts, however damaging, but only by another model."
PG. #361 MINTZBERG 17.4 WHAT THEORY DEVELOPMENT SEEMS TO BE: UNEXPECTED We get interesting theory when we let go of all this scientific correctness, or to use a famous phrase, suspend our disbeliefs, and allow our minds to roam freely and creatively--to muse like mad, albeit immersed in an interesting, revealing context. Hans Selye, the great physiologist, captured this sentiment perfectly in quoting one item on a list of "Intellectual Immoralities" put out by a well-known physiology department: "Generalizing beyond one's data." Selye quoted approvingly a commentator who asked whether it would have been more correct for this to read: "Not generalizing beyond one's data" (1964: 228). No generalizing beyond the data, no theory. And no theory, no insight. And if no insight, why do research?
Theory is insightful when it surprises, when it allows us to see profoundly, imaginatively, unconventionally into phenomena we thought we understood. To quote Will Henry, "What is research but a blind date with knowledge." Not matter how accepted eventually, theory is of no use unless it initially surprises--that is, changes perceptions. (A professor o mine once said that theories go through three stages: first they're wrong; then they're subversive; finally they're obvious.)
All of this is to say that there is a great deal of art and craft in true science. In fact, an obsession with the science, narrowly considered, gets in the way of scientific development. To quote Berger, "In science, as in love, a concentration on technique is likely to lead to impotence" (1963: 13).
"Management needs fewer fads, more reflection," Stanford Magazine, May/June 2006 --- http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2006/mayjun/dept/management.html
Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD ’72, and Robert I. Sutton would like to foment a little revolution—one in which leaders in business and the world at large base their decisions on facts and logic, not ideology, hunches, management fads or poorly understood experience. Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Sutton, a professor of management science and engineering and, by courtesy, of organizational behavior in the Graduate School of Business, are the authors of Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management (Harvard Business School Press, 2006). STANFORD asked them about bringing more reason to organizational life.
What’s some of the total nonsense that occurs in companies?
Sutton: Probably the biggest single problem for human decision making is that when people have ingrained beliefs, they will put a much higher bar for evidence for things they don’t believe than for things they do believe. Confirmation-seeking bias, I think, is what social psychologists call it. Organizations can have amazingly good evidence, but it has no effect on the decisions they make if it conflicts with their ideology.
Do you have a favorite unsupported belief?
Pfeffer: One would be stock options. There are more than 200 studies that show no evidence that there is a relationship between the amount of equity senior executives have and a company’s financial performance. . . . Just as you would never bet on a point spread on a football game because it encourages bad behavior, you should not reward people for increasing the spread in an expectations market.
Overreliance on financial incentives of all sorts drives all kinds of counterproductive behavior.
Evidence-based management derives from evidence-based medicine. Explain what kind of decision making we’re talking about.
Continued in interview
Taxpayers get repeatedly soaked by totally ridiculous flood insurance
The federal government says some 120,000 properties nationwide have received "multiple" taxpayer subsidized flood insurance payments -- at a cost of $7.25 billion. An astounding 26,000 of those have received four or more flood payments. One property in Houston flooded 16 times and sucked up $807,000 in repairs -- seven times its market value. The owner keeps rebuilding, mother nature keeps tearing it down, and hapless taxpayers keep footing the bill.
"Taxpayers Get Soaked," The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2006; Page A14 --- Click Here
The most prudent reform strategy will be proposed this week by Senate Banking Chairman Richard Shelby. The Alabama Republican would move the program toward actuarial soundness by charging risk-based premiums. The riskier region you build in, the higher premiums you will pay. This would require updating maps of flood regions, which in places like New Orleans are now tragically obsolete. Mr. Shelby also argues that there's no reason for taxpayers to underwrite insurance for luxury or vacation homes, or for repetitive loss properties. Amen to that.
Mr. Shelby's efforts are meeting with stiff resistance from colleagues in the six Gulf states where homeowners receive well over half of all federal flood payments. Housing industry lobbyists also love the give-aways and are calling for the program's expansion. Which is all the more reason that Congress should move swiftly to pass Mr. Shelby's reforms. Another hurricane season begins in June, and this time it's taxpayers who need protection from getting washed out.
Continued in article
From the Carnegie Foundation
Whatever Happened to Undergraduate Reform? --- Click Here
No one was more central to the debates about higher education reform in the 1980s and '90s than Ted Marchese, then vice president of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) and editor of Change magazine. As he tells us, about five years ago he left those trenches to become an academic "head hunter." Now, waking up from a five-year Rip Van Winkle-style nap, he is stunned to discover that he doesn't appear to have missed anything. All seems frozen in place. He wonders if the ferment in undergraduate education has stalled or even reversed while he was away.
So, with Ted, we ask, does he have it right? Has the reform of higher education come to a grinding halt? Does he over-estimate how much was really going on in the '80s and '90s, confusing rhetoric with reality? How do we judge the amount and importance of work underway (or still underway) today? Are there new ideas in the mix? Let's hear from you.
Read the replies to Marchese's commentary --- Click Here
Stanford University's Online High School for Gifted Students
Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth will launch a three-year, fully accredited, diploma-granting high school for gifted students, thanks to a $3.3 million gift from the Malone Family Foundation. The program will begin accepting student applications this spring and is scheduled to begin classes in the fall.
"Stanford to offer first online high school for gifted students," Stanford Report, April 14, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on distance education alternatives are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm
A Remedial High School Alternative
PLATO Learning Inc. ( http://www.plato.com ) has announced the release of PLATO Courses, which are semester-long online courses that provide schools and districts a way to deliver rigorous credit-recovery solutions, alternatives for students not succeeding in the traditional environment, credit-granting distance learning programs, and home school curricula. The PLATO Courses cover math, science, and social studies, and are aligned to national standards in each subject area. Each course provides a comprehensive course curriculum, including exemptive assessments, instructional content, cumulative final exams, and state standards coverage reports. To promote the successful use of PLATO Courses, PLATO Education Consultants provide both on-site and electronic professional development sessions. Each PLATO Course also includes teacher support materials in the form of a Teacher's Guide and an Implementation Guide. Pricing varies.
Congratulations Denny (although I don't know how you can possibly find
time for all this)
Be sure to cover your Fannie!
"Fannie Mae Replaces Head of Audit Panel," SmartPros, May 22, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x53095.xml
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae said Friday it was replacing the chairman of its board's audit committee, a key position as the company struggles to emerge from an $11 billion accounting scandal.
The announcement by Fannie Mae that the board had named accounting professor Dennis Beresford to replace audit committee chairman Thomas Gerrity came a few days before federal regulators are scheduled to release a major report on their extensive examination of the government-sponsored company. The report due out Tuesday is widely expected to be sharply critical of Washington-based Fannie Mae, and the role of its board of directors in the accounting debacle is expected to be touched on.
Gerrity also will step down as a director, the company said.
The regulators, in the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, in September 2004 accused Fannie Mae of serious accounting problems and earnings manipulation to meet Wall Street targets. The Securities and Exchange Commission subsequently ordered the company to restate earnings back to 2001 - a correction expected to reach an estimated $11 billion. The Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation.
Fannie Mae, which finances or guarantees one of every five home loans in the United States, disclosed earlier this month that its government-ordered review had turned up additional accounting errors. The company hasn't filed an earnings report since late 2004.
In its announcement Friday, Fannie Mae said it was Gerrity's decision to relinquish at this time the position he has held since 1999 as head of the audit panel.
"Over the past two years, Tom has indicated that, ... following the board's corporate governance policies, this is the right moment to step down and allow the board to bring on new leadership talent and energy to guide the audit committee forward," Fannie Mae Chairman Stephen Ashley said in a statement. "We accept his choice and decision."
Gerrity, a former dean of the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania, joined the Fannie Mae board in 1991. He also previously was the president of CSC Consulting, a vice president of Computer Sciences Corp., and chairman and CEO of Index Group Inc.
Beresford, a former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, teaches accounting at the University of Georgia in Athens. He also heads the audit committees at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Legg Mason Inc.
A company-ordered report released in February detailed a breakdown in financial controls and found an arrogant corporate culture at Fannie Mae. It said that the company's former finance chief and controller share primary responsibility for the accounting failures.
Fannie Mae and its smaller rival Freddie Mac were created by Congress to pump money into the $8 trillion home-mortgage market to keep interest rates low. They buy and guarantee repayment of billions of dollars of home loans each year from banks and other lenders, then bunch them together into securities that are resold to investors worldwide.
Bob Jensen's threads on Fanny Mae's woes are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm#FannieMae
"Accounting Professor Appointed to FASB," SmartPros, May 18, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x53054.xml
Thomas J. Linsmeier, professor and chairman of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, has been appointed to the Financial Accounting Standards Board.
Linsmeier is an award-winning teacher and researcher, with particular expertise in financial reporting for derivatives and risk management activities.
Linsmeier's term becomes effective on July 1, 2006, and runs through June 30, 2011. He succeeds current FASB member Katherine Schipper, whose term will expire on June 30, 2006.
"Thomas Linsmeier, one of the nation’s most respected accounting academics, will bring a valuable perspective to the work of the FASB," said Robert E. Denham, chairman of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) Trustees. The FAF is responsible for selecting FASB members.
Linsmeier began his academic accounting career in 1985 at the University of Iowa. In 1994, he became an Academic Fellow in the Office of the Chief Accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He served as a Special Consultant to the SEC with responsibility for formulating U.S. disclosure rules for reporting market risks inherent in derivatives and other financial instruments. Subsequent to his time at the SEC, he held professorial and research positions with the University of Illinois and Queen’s University in Canada, respectively. He has been a member of the accounting faculty at Michigan State University since 1999.
A former member of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council (FASAC), Linsmeier also has served as president of the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section and chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Committee of the American Accounting Association. He also is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Unfortunately some private information of Denny, Tom, and over 300,000 other CPAs is at risk
"AICPA Loses Hard Drive With Member Data: Free Credit Monitoring Available to Members," SmartPros, May 16, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x52999.xml
The American Institute of CPAs sent a letter to its 330,000 members notifying them that a computer hard disk containing their personal information, including Social Security numbers, has been lost in transport.
Sent on May 8 and posted to AICPA.org, the letter explains that "the hard drive was damaged and had been sent out for repair by an employee in direct violation of the Institute's internal control policies and procedures."
The hard drive contained names, addresses and Social Security numbers of AICPA members -- but not credit card information, the institute emphasized.
The AICPA said there is no evidence that the information has been inappropriately accessed. An extensive search in collaboration with FedEx Express did not find the drive, leading the institute to believe this "a case of a package being lost."
In partnership with ConsumerInfo.com, a full year of credit monitoring, free of charge, is available to AICPA members beginning May 23, 2006. Details on how to activate the free service is available at http://www.aicpa.org/privacyinfo
Threats to Democracy
Scott McLeMee, "We, the People...," Inside Higher Ed, May 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/05/10/mclemee
Bob Jensen's threads on threats to democracy are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/DemocracyIsFragile.htm
35 OF NOAM CHOMSKY'S BIGGEST WHOPPERS
35 'Big Lies' By The Biggest Leftist Liar Of Them All! ---
Bob Jensen graduated from Algona High School
(Tough as nails; Hard as Bricks, The Algona Class of '56)
May 20 message from Cousin Barbara Hessel [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Check out this story, straight from Algona. Do any of you know this man? How exciting
"Iowa company making engines to run on hydrogen, ammonia," by David Pitt, WCF Courier, May 20, 2006 --- http://www.wcfcourier.com/articles/2006/05/20/news/breaking_news/doc446eeb40088fa778148879.txt
ALGONA, Iowa (AP) -- While much of the world fumes over escalating fuel prices, a small company in north central Iowa is quietly hoping to make gasoline obsolete as an engine fuel.
Research at the Hydrogen Engine Center Inc. is done in an early 1900s red brick armory at the Kossuth County fairgrounds.
There, a clean six-cylinder engine that looks like it could have been pulled from a Ford pickup has been running for 110 hours, not quite half the 300 hours it must continuously run for certification. The company, led by a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer, hopes to meet Environmental Protection Agency automotive 2007 emission standards.
All 81 parts are original Oxx Power, the brand name the company has given all its engines.
The engine can run on a number of fuels including hydrogen, ethanol, natural gas, propane or digester gas from landfills.
The company, started by Ted Hollinger, 65, is initially focusing on making more efficient, environmentally friendlier engines to replace those used in generators and in forklift trucks, airline ground equipment, irrigation pumps, tractors and buses.
Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have dropped industrial engine production as they've cut costs, leaving what Hollinger said is a ready-made market for his fledgling company.
"Our engine has to bolt in where the old engine went and can't be a thread off," he said. "If you do that and you make improvements in it so that it gets rid of emissions and it's more efficient, then I think people are going to like it."
The company incorporated in Iowa in 2003 and two years later in Canada. It merged with Green Mt. Labs in August 2005 and became a publicly traded company under the name Hydrogen Engine Center Inc.
Hollinger said he insisted that his company have a product to sell from day one instead of starting up as a research and development firm.
The company's products include a six-cylinder engine and a three-cylinder version for small engine applications.
The company has found immediate interest in its hydrogen-powered generators that use five engines.
Brad Van Horn, an engine distributor with Northern Power Productions of Minneapolis, said some orders are already placed for the generators as they approach the production phase.
"The level of excitement is huge," he said.
Van Horn, who sells in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, said he gets calls daily from companies running irrigation equipment in Nebraska. Airports needing to replace the Ford engines in their baggage handling and other ground service equipment will also be a large market.
The company said American Airlines alone has 9,500 vehicles likely to be converted to alternative fuels over the next decade.
While the engines drive a revenue stream for the company, engineers are working to improve the technology of engines that run on hydrogen and other clean fuels.
Bob Mendlesky, another retired Ford engineer, light ups when he describes the potential for the engines his shop is developing.
He said there are obstacles to making cars powered with hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. To carry enough hydrogen, the fuel tank would have to be under extremely high pressure, he said. In addition, tanks made to that specification cost as much as the engine to power the car.
Hydrogen technology is better suited for generator applications and for industrial uses at its current stage of development, he said.
A better solution may be engines that run on ammonia, Hollinger said.
Development of ammonia as a fuel must include ways to improve its combustibility. Ammonia does not readily spark like other fuels, but Hollinger is determined to overcome some of the obstacles.
"I tell people that I'm no dumber now than when I was at Ford Motor Co. If I can invent at Ford, I can invent here," Hollinger said. "I don't think that there's any reason we can't. Will we? I don't know."
Hollinger said he doesn't expect his small company to make major breakthroughs in the automotive propulsion, but he's willing to work with Ford or any other company working on clean fuel technology.
"I hope in the future the automotive people will look at our stuff and incorporate some of our ideas," he said. "Somebody needs to do something now."
On the Net: Hydrogen Engine Center: http://www.hydrogenenginecenter.com
Tips on Teaching Hearing Impaired Students
May 9, 2006 message from Linda Kidwell, University of Wyoming [lkidwell@UWYO.EDU]
There's a lot we can do as professors to make things so much easier for students who are hearing impaired -- it just takes a little thought! I'm certainly no expert, but I've learned more about this lately and wanted to pass it along to this group of concerned educators on AECM.
I participated in a panel session here at the University of Wyoming last week about teaching the deaf and hard of hearing. I was invited to be on the panel because I had been recommended by a hard of hearing student who was in my auditing class last fall. I didn't think I had really earned my way onto this panel, but apparently so many professors do not think about the simple things they can do, that those who do stand out.
Here are some tips (some I used intuitively, others I learned about on the panel from some profoundly deaf students):
Face the class. If this means preparing power point slides or writing on an overhead projector instead of facing the board, do it.
If you are a fast talker, slow down a little bit. Everyone will appreciate it, and here's your excuse to make the effort!
Find out whether your student wants an interpreter. Your university should provide one under ADA if you're in the U.S. But sometimes students do not want them. This was the case for my student who has lost hearing gradually and is still not fluent in sign language. For her it was an unwelcome distraction, so we didn't do it. But if they want one, be sure you stay in communication about schedule changes.
Repeat student questions from behind your hearing impaired student. If he or she isn't looking at the right questioner immediately, the chance to hear or read lips has been lost. It's a good idea anyway but essential under these circumstances.
Plan ahead if showing videos. You may have a disabilities office at your university that can prepare transcripts of the video if you give them enough notice. There is also some capability in some of the video playing software to produce closed captioning, but give yourself time to get help from the IT folks so you can use it when needed. (I haven't tried it, but apparently Windows Media Player and others can). Be willing to allow your student to watch the video a few times outside of class time with an interpreter, so they can take in the translation and the pictures without having to look back and forth in a frenzy. With a TV monitor in a class room only, your deaf student has to choose either the video or the translator, as both can't be in view at the same time.
Be flexible with group work. Even if you (like me) prefer to assign groups, let your deaf student choose at least one member of the group or assign someone you have seen that student work with, and make that group small (no more than 4). Deaf students have already identified friends who understand their strengths and frustrations in working with hearing students, and they need an ally. If you assign your student to a group he or she does not normally work with, the other students may be insensitive, or more likely just oblivious, to how their group dynamics need to adjust. And groups any larger than 3 or 4 tend to be too frustrating for a deaf student. Just think for a moment how group members tend to interrupt each other or talk over each other as they deliberate. This is very difficult for a hearing impaired student to deal with, and smaller groups mitigate the risk of that student just disengaging.
Here's one I would never have thought of on my own. Think about how native English speakers learn grammar. Yes, we get taught the rules in school, but we also develop a feel for what is right -- what sounds right and what sounds wrong (okay, I hear the jokes now, but think about it). For years I have told my students to read their papers aloud to themselves as an excellent grammar check. Well a student who has been deaf most of his or her life has never developed that feel for proper grammar. And ASL, the most common sign language, is not a literal translation at all. Therefore written English is essentially equivalent to "English as a second language" to a deaf student. Keep that in mind when assigning and grading written work. If you make any accomodations for foreign students, the same ones are pertinent for deaf students. Of course if you don't then you shouldn't here either. Obviously this is more of an issue with essay questions on exams than on writing assignments that have the time to be polished.
If you are using audio materials from your textbook, ask the publisher about versions for deaf students or transcripts. PWC was very diligent about this one I made a request for help with their Alchemy case materials. I would hope the textbook publishers would be accomodating as well.
Those are the issues we discussed in this session. I don't know how often I'll bump into this issue, but I'd certainly enjoy hearing other suggestions from you. I already know I'll be on this panel again next year, so your advice would be welcome and passed on to other interested folks.
May 11, 2006 reply from Lilian Viitakangas [l.viitakangas@XTRA.CO.NZ]
Linda This is the first time I have seen this topic mentioned on the list and I am pleased that you raised it. The points that have been raised are all helpful to hearing-impaired students.
I have partially deaf all my life, both as a student and teacher. One further thing that you ought to consider is that hearing impaired students use their eyes to replace their ears. This means that while they are lip-reading, they cannot simultaneously write notes as other students do because they cannot see both the teacher and the paper in front of them.
One way around this is to allow the lecture to be recorded either as an audio or videotape for later review by the student. Hearing impaired (as opposed to profoundly deaf) students can make good use of an audio tape but a video is preferable.
When I was a student 35 years ago I would dearly loved to have had such facilities available to me. As it was, I had to rely upon friends to fill in the gaps where I had missed part of the lecture.
Another point is that, for partially deaf students, the disability is not immediately obvious. Hearing impaired people learn to compensate from an early age and many do not feel comfortable disclosing their disability. As a high school student, I once missed an instruction from a teacher and as a result she somewhat facetiously asked me if I was deaf. When I replied *Yes* I was put on detention after school for answering back! These sorts of experiences reinforce the notion that many hearing impaired people have that they should hide their disability as much as possible for fear of being ostracised in some way.
Fortunately, these days attitudes towards disabilities are somewhat more enlightened. However, it is still important that teachers provide an environment where a student may discuss a disability (and any special learning needs) with the teacher in confidence, so that the whole class is not aware of the disability unless that student wishes it disclosed. In my experience, most hearing impaired people wish to function as *normally* as possible and therefore are not overly demanding of additional support.
I hope this is useful.
Department of Accounting and Finance
The University of Auckland
May 9, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Thank you Linda!
The leading university for the deaf is Gallaudet University at http://www.gallaudet.edu/
There is a good links page on this topic at http://www.gallaudet.edu/x412.xml
If it is all right with you, I will add your module to my document entitled "Technology Aids for the Handicapped and Learning Challenged" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Handicapped
New and Forthcoming Products from Google
Among the things Google was willing to communicate at the event were four new products: the fourth iteration of Google Desktop, a news-and-information sidebar that now includes free-floating mini-applications, called Google Gadgets; Google Notebook, an electronic scratch pad that allows users to save text, images, and links from the Web pages they visit and access the notes later from any browser; Google Trends, which gives users a glimpse into Google's historical database to see how the popularity of various search terms has varied over time; and Google Co-op, a social-search system that allows individuals or organizations to designate high-quality Web pages that will, in theory, improve the search results of anyone who chooses to "subscribe" to those recommendations.
Wade Roush, "Google Pledges Transparency, Debuts New Gadgets: In an overture to the press and analysts, the company put its executives on stage and unveiled new search-related products," MIT's Technology Review, May 11, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=16828&ch=infotech .
Running Out of Russians
In his state of the union address recently, Vladimir Putin divided his attention between his country's strategic forces and its alarming demographics. The former is a familiar matter of Western commentary and concern, but the latter is not; and this was the first time a Russian president had raised the topic on such an occasion. While Mr. Putin confronted this critical issue, however, he failed to provide a compelling set of solutions. The key problem he addressed was the decline in the Russian population, which has dropped from 148.7 million in 1992 to 143.5 million in 2003. The U.N. estimates that it could fall to 101.5 million by 2050. Earlier contractions of Russia's population were brought about by the massive losses associated with World War I, the civil war, famine, the repression and purges of the 1930s, and World War II. The current demographic decline is the result of a declining birth rate and a high mortality rate.
Padma Desai, "Running Out of Russians," The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2006; Page A13 --- Click Here
Updates from WebMD (including lab grown penis) --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on May 23, 2006
- Alcohol Won't Worsen Prostate Symptoms
- PSA Screening Imperfect, but It Works
- 1st Signs of Dementia May Be Physical
- Painkillers Worsen Heart Failure
- CLA Weight Loss Debate Continues
- Artificial Sweeteners Affect Alcohol
- Metabolic Syndrome Hurts Heart
- RSS WebMD Health News
Latest Headlines on May 24, 2006
- Family’s Bird Flu Deaths Stump Experts
- New ED Drugs on Horizon
- Test May Help Spot Some Breast Cancer
- Is Colonoscopy After Age 80 Worth It?
- Lab-Grown Replacement Penis in Future?
- Pot Smoking Not Linked to Lung Cancer
- Blood Pressure Drugs Counter Cancer?
- RSS WebMD Health News
Diabetes Update : Tiny bubbles can deliver genes into the
insulin-producing cells of rats
One of the biggest challenges to using gene therapy for treating or curing diseases is finding a way to deliver genes safely into the cells where they're needed. Now a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a combination of ultrasound and tiny bubbles can deliver genes into the insulin-producing cells of rats. It's a technique that could someday be used to help treat diabetes. Introducing new genes into cells has the potential to correct defects in several major diseases, including cystic fibrosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. But cells do not easily take up foreign genes. So gene therapy has resorted to using delivery systems such as viruses, which can potentially cause a dangerous immune response.
Courtney Humphries, "Bursting the Bubble on Diabetes: Research with rats points the way to delivering gene therapies for diabetes using tiny bubbles and ultrasound," MIT's Technology Review, May 18, 2006 -- Click Here
Most sought-after breakthroughs in neuroscience
Despite huge leaps in our understanding of the inner workings of the brain, many of the most popular therapies for psychiatric and neurological disorders are just new versions of older drugs. Now experts say new technologies, such as electrical stimulators, could revolutionize the treatment of brain disorders. Scientists hope that within the next 5 to 20 years, these technologies will deliver some of the most sought-after breakthroughs in neuroscience, such as a truly effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease or an alternative therapy for the large percentage of patients resistant to antidepressant drugs.
"The Future of Neurotechnology: Neurotechnology expert Zack Lynch explains the new field and tells us what the future holds for treating brain disorders," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, May 21, 2006 --- Click Here
Jennifer Corbett Doorn, "Breast-Cancer Options Are Studied: Large NIH Trial Aims to Cut Chemotherapy as Treatment In Many Early Diagnoses," The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2006; Page D5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114842227001961082.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
The National Institutes of Health launched a large clinical trial aimed at determining the best course of treatment for early-stage breast cancer, which could eventually lead to the elimination of chemotherapy for many women.
About half of the more than 200,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S. are women with so-called early-stage, estrogen-receptor-positive tumors. Early-stage cancer means the cancer hasn't spread outside of the breast to nearby lymph nodes and estrogen-receptor positive means the tumors are fueled by the hormone estrogen.
A growing body of research suggests that for women in that category, surgery and radiation or both, and hormone-based drugs such as tamoxifen that block estrogen, can effectively treat the cancer.
This approach would spare chemotherapy for many women, which kills cancer cells but also kills healthy cells and can cause other health problems. Most women, however, are still advised under current practice guidelines to receive chemotherapy because it isn't clear which women can safely be advised to skip chemotherapy. In reality, however, many doctors do help women decide whether they need chemotherapy and not all women choose to undergo that type of treatment.
Continued in article
Mother, Mom, Father, Dad, and Papa are now on the Banned Words List
for California Education
The California state Senate today passed a bill that removes sex-specific terms such as "mom" and "dad" from textbooks and requires students to learn about the contributions homosexuals have made to society. The bill, approved 22-15, would prevent textbooks, teaching materials, instruction and "school-sponsored activities" from reflecting adversely on anyone based on sexual orientation or actual or perceived gender. A companion bill has yet to go through the legislative process in the state Assembly, but observers believe it likely will pass. It's unclear whether or not Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would sign the measure if it reaches his desk.
"Bill barring 'mom,' 'dad' from texts passes California Senate approves, state Assembly expected to OK," WorldNetDaily, May 11, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=50162
Forwarded by Debbie Bowling
#1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half the world population.)
#2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is mistaken for hunger.
#3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as 3%.
#4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.
#5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
#6 Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
#7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
#8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%., and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer. Are you drinking the amount of water you should drink every day?
#1. In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
#2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.
#3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.
#4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.
#5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
#6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
#7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.
#8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into the load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION:
#1. the active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It will dissolve a nail in about four days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase of osteoporosis.
#2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial trucks must use a hazardous Material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.
#3. The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean engines of the trucks for about 20 years!
Now the question is, would you like a glass of water?
Flashback from The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2001
It might seem like the worst possible time for a company in the troubled telecommunications business to sell bonds. But that didn't stop WorldCom Inc. from pulling off a record-breaking $11.9 billion bond offering. Investors were eager to get in.
Soon thereafter WorldCom declared bankruptcy in one of the largest accounting frauds in history. The CEO and CFO are currently in prison --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#WorldCom
Andersen conducted one of the worst audits in auditing history.
Message on May 11, 2006 from Andrew Priest [a.priest@ECU.EDU.AU]
By Jonathan Soble 551 words 10 May 2006 03:57 Reuters News English (c) 2006 Reuters Limited
(Adds establishment of new PWC affiliate in Japan)
TOKYO, May 10 (Reuters) - Japan's financial regulator imposed a two-month business suspension on accounting firm Chuo Aoyama PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday over its role in a book-keeping fraud at cosmetics and textiles maker Kanebo Ltd.
In the unprecedented sanction, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) barred Chuo Aoyama, part of global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, from auditing corporate accounts under Japan's securities and commercial laws for two months beginning July 1.
Three Chuo Aoyama accountants charged in connection with the Kanebo fraud have admitted helping the firm hide losses as part of a nine-year effort to disguise its financial decline. Kanebo has since been broken up in a state-led restructuring, and rival Kao Corp. bought its cosmetics business earlier this year.
In imposing the penalty, the FSA's first against one of Japan's "big four" accounting houses, the agency said the firm's failure to prevent the fraud was a result of "serious deficiencies" in its internal controls.
The suspension will not disrupt earnings reporting by Chuo Aoyama clients for the business year that ended in March, which some firms have not completed. Auditing of certain companies, such as those that close their books later than the normal March 31 cut-off, will also be allowed during the suspension, the FSA said.
But the auditors' clients -- a group that includes some of Japan's biggest companies -- could abandon it for rivals in coming reporting periods.
In a statement PWC said it would assist ChuoAoyama in its reform efforts but at the same time establish a new independent affiliated firm in Japan that would "adopt international best practices in accounting and auditing."
Toray Industries Inc., Japan's top synthetic-fibre maker, said at an earnings briefing held before the FSA's announcement that it would consider dropping Chuo Aoyama if the authorities penalised the firm.
Nippon Mining Holdings Inc., another client, said it was happy with Chuo Aoyama's work but might consider switching if a sanction impaired its ability to function.
The punishment comes as legislators consider proposed legal changes that would make auditors criminally responsible for fraud at client firms.
Accounting problems became an issue in Japan during the long bad-debt mess at the nation's banks. Book-keeping scandals at Kanebo and more recently at Internet firm Livedoor Co. have brought auditors under further scrutiny.
Kanebo, which sought restructuring help from the government-backed Industrial Revitalisation Corp. last year, declared about $2 billion in non-existent profits between the 1995/96 and 2003/04 business years, a period when it fell into negative net worth.
Kanebo said in April 2005 it had inflated profits by exaggerating sales numbers, under-reporting business costs and improperly removing unprofitable subsidiaries from its balance sheet.
Unable to sustain the fiction, Kanebo finally declared a net loss of 358 billion yen ($3.22 billion) in 2003/04.
Its actual loss that year was in fact only 142 billion yen, Kanebo said later in admitting the long-running fraud. The remaining 216 billion yen in red ink represented undeclared losses from previous years. (Additional reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida)
FINANCIAL-JAPAN-PWC (UPDATE 3)|LANGEN|ABX|BNX|FUN
Bob Jensen's threads on the legal woes of PwC are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#PwC
From the Scout Report on May 12, 2006
Youth Radio --- http://www.youthradio.org
With an impressive headquarters in downtown Oakland, Youth Radio is fast becoming a compelling and insightful media phenomenon that should be watched closely. Their mission is a laudable one, and as their website puts it, “…. is to promote young people’s intellectual creative and professional growth through training and access to media and to produce the highest quality original media for local and national outlets.” Of course, the real heart of the site contains the actual programming, which is streamed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Along with unique mix of music, individuals can listen to a host of stories reported by young people. Visitors can also browse a list of recently added stories by topic, which include relationships, society, sports, poetry, and health. Those who are hoping to get some of the basic flavor of the offerings here would do well to take a look at the story featuring reporting from a group of Berkeley High School students at the World Social Forum in Caracas, or by listening to the commentary offered by Lauryn Silverman on the modern conundrum of multi-tasking.
Geospatial and Statistical Data Center at the University of Virginia --- http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/
As more and more people are discovering the value and importance of spatial data and analysis, discovering new online resources in this area is a real treat. The Scout Report has profiled this site before, and is glad to report that there is a wealth of new material here to comment on. Located in the impressive Alderman Library on the grounds of the University of Virginia, the Geospatial and Statistical Data Center provides a host of services to both the on-campus community and to those who visit their website. With a clean design, the homepage features a “Spotlight” area and a “Quick Links” area, which leads to things such as the historical census browser and the rather exhaustive Virginia Gazetteer. Visitors should also take a look at the materials contained within the “Collections” heading on the homepage. Here they can peruse such items as aerial photographs of Albemarle County as well as other collections of aerial materials. One tremendously helpful feature of the site is the “References Resources” area, which contains information about codes and symbols used on maps, along with handbooks and user guides to some of the resources offered here.
Virtually Missouri http://www.virtuallymissouri.org/
While it seems that almost every state historical museum or library has set up a digital collection or twelve, coordinating access to these lovely offerings has proved to be a bit tough. Fortunately for those collections created in the state of Missouri, there is the Missouri Digitization Planning Project, which has created this fine site. Sponsored with monies from the Institute of Museum & Library Services, Virtually Missouri serves as a place where institutions can place their digitized collections, and not surprisingly, the generally curious public can take a look at their creations. From the homepage, visitors can take a look at the featured collection, or delve right into the other materials by searching the catalog of collections or by just browsing a list of the collections. The offerings here are quite impressive, as they include exhibits on the African American community of northeast Missouri created by the Hannibal Free Public Library and images from the now-defunct newspaper, the St. Louis Globe Democrat.
ScrapBook 1.0.3 --- http://amb.vis.ne.jp/mozilla/scrapbook/
Scrapbooking has become quite popular as of late, though this particular application is geared towards the “scrapbooking” of web pages, as opposed to the paper-glue-scissors method that has been enjoying a renaissance. With ScrapBook 1.0.3, users can save snippets of webpages, various elements of webpages (such as embedded files and such), and linked pages as well. After doing so, the entire collection can be organized the same way one would organize a collection of webpage bookmarks. Finally, users can also perform full text searches across the entire body of saved materials. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer and Firefox 1.0 to 1.5.0
WeatherDock 2.4.1 http://www.alwintroost.nl/content/weatherdock/home.xml
Mark Twain probably wouldn’t be happy that today we can’t do more about the weather, but we are lucky enough to be able to monitor weather conditions in a rather obsessive fashion. Adding to this ability is the latest version of WeatherDock offered by its creator Alwin Troost. Working with information supplied by weather.com, the application displays a host of current weather information about a location (such as wind speed, dew point, and visibility), along with 10 day forecasts. This particular version is compatible with all computers running Mac OS X 10.3.9 and newer.
From Jim Mahar's Blog on May 11, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
High School Economics--some really good examples!
This is pretty cool. It is designed for High Schools, but many of the items can be used in college AND even if not, it is useful to know what knowledge incoming freshmen posses. Oh and it is always useful to watch great teachers!
Resource: The Economics Classroom: A Workshop for Grade 9-12 Teachers:
"Video workshop for teachers provides a solid foundation for teaching the concepts covered in high school economics courses. Topics range from personal finance to global economic theories. In addition to defining economics concepts and outlining modern economic theory"
There are some really cool videos of lessons. Yes you have to subscribe, but it is free. Go ahead, you will get some good ideas!
The video workshop for teachers is at
Over half of community college graduates do not go on to get
This month’s featured article in Change magazine, “Community College Transfers and College Graduation: Whose Choices Matter Most?,” examines the factors affecting the attainment of bachelor’s degrees among students who begin at community colleges. “Currently, 40 percent of all first-time freshmen begin their postsecondary careers in community colleges, the great majority of them intending eventually to complete a bachelor’s degree,” writes William R. Doyle. “But along the way something happens, and for most of them that ambition is thwarted. The question is, to what extent does this pattern reflect students’ choices, and to what extent is it due to factors beyond their control?”
William R. Doyle, "Community College Transfers and College Graduation: Whose Choices Matter Most? An examination of the factors that affect the attainment of bachelor’s degrees among students who begin at community colleges," Change Magazine, May/June 2006, Volume 38 --- http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/change/
Is this new "university"a fraud?
New online university promises to send great education from U.S. to developing nations, but critics fear it’s a new diploma mill.
Rob Capriccioso, "Unwanted Export?" Inside Higher Ed, May 24, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/05/24/diulus
Bob Jensen's threads on diploma mills are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#DiplomaMill
Business Schools Target At-Home Moms|
Seeking to tap a pool of professionals who are of increasing interest to employers, Harvard, Dartmouth and other graduate business programs are launching executive-education courses geared toward women who have put their careers on hold to raise families and are ready to return to the professional world. The new courses aim to help women overcome the big gaps in their résumés with job-seeking strategies, and also to help bring them up-to-date on changes in their fields while they were gone. The new program at Harvard Business School even aims to add a class on business fashion and makeup. "A lot of women said, 'We don't know what the current wardrobe is.' It's actually a point of anxiety," says Myra Hart, a professor of management practice who created the program.
Anne Marie Chaker, "Business Schools Target At-Home Moms: New Programs Help Women Return to the Workplace After Taking Years Off," The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2006; Page D1
"Re-entry Programs Target Professional Women," AccountingWeb,
May 16, 2006 ---
In an effort to reach experienced professionals, primarily women who leave their positions for extended periods for personal reasons, and support their return to their careers, business schools and professional firms have initiated programs targeted to their needs. Business schools are offering these programs within their executive education departments, the Wall Street Journal says. Courses at Harvard’s Business School and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business include updates on finance and accounting, as well as changes in business technology.
Firms like Deloitte & Touche and Lehman Brothers are focused on reaching out to former employees and providing future support for employees who decide to leave for personal reasons.
Beginning in the fall, Tuck will offer an 11-day program called “Back in Business: Invest in your Return,” which is partially funded by Citigroup, a company that hopes to recruit from the program, the Journal says. Babson College in Massachusetts will initiate a four half-days program called “Act 2.”
Personal Pursuits, launched by Deloitte & Touche last fall, allows senior-level professionals up to a five-year sabbatical for child rearing, elder care and travel, while providing them with resources, including training, mentoring, career coaching, networking events and ad hoc work assignments, according to Shaun Budnik, Deloitte’s national director for the retention and advancement of women, the Stamford Advocate reports.
“We know we have people we don’t want to lose touch with,” Budnik said. “The cost of rehiring and retraining is so much higher than just keeping in touch with them.”
Deloitte estimates that replacing an employee costs at least twice that person’s salary, while the cost of the Personal Pursuits programs is $2,500 per employee.
Christine Popson, one of the 28 participants in the first year of the program at Deloitte, was about to have a second child but after eight years with the firm was reluctant to leave her senior manager position. “I spent all this time developing my clients, my relationships at work, myself,” she told the Advocate. “I didn’t know what the right decision was going to be: Should I work full time? If I left, how would I stay current?”
Popson enrolled in the Personal Pursuits program and expects to take three years off. Through the program, she can stay connected with technology, a personal concern, and with her co-workers, the Advocate says.
Lehman Brothers’ Encore Program is directed toward men and women who have left the workforce and are interested in resuming their careers in financial services. After a kick-off event in New York in November, attended by former Lehman employees, as well as employees of other financial services firms, individuals applied for and were hired for multiple full-time and flexible schedule position, Lehman Brothers’ Web site says.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers
Taking on the Demeaning Hazing of Some Women's Sports Teams
There’s been a fair amount of attention over the last week to the issue of hazing and women’s college sports teams. The Web site badjocks.com published a number of photos depicting the Northwestern University women’s soccer team conducting an initiation for new players. The women are shown being forced to chug beer, give lap dances to members of the men’s soccer team, all while various words and pictures are drawn on their bodies. Then the same site followed up with pictures from a dozen other colleges and universities, almost all of which focus on hazing/initiation rituals involving various women’s sports teams. All of the colleges involved have anti-hazing policies, and all (naturally) prohibit underage drinking.
Hugo Schwyzer, "It’s More Than the Photos," Inside Higher Ed, May 22, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/05/22/schwyzer
"Taking on the "Cutthroat Culture" of B-School: Consultant and teacher Kerry Patterson says MBA classrooms are "brutal" arenas where teamwork is missing," Business Week, May 17, 2006 --- Click Here
Kerry Patterson sees a lot wrong with the MBA classroom. Patterson is chief development officer and co-founder of VitalSmarts, a global organizational-performance and leadership consultancy based in Provo, Utah. He terms the typical MBA classroom as an arena where students are expected to be brutal to each other. In his view, students and MBA graduates need to study human interaction and model effective communication to build teamwork.
Patterson, who's also an adjunct professor of organizational behavior in the MBA program at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management, began his research into the challenges of developing and maintaining healthy organizations during his doctoral work at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has coauthored two bestsellers: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High (2002) and Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, & Bad Behavior (2005), both published by BusinessWeek and BusinessWeek Online publisher McGraw-Hill.
Continued in article
A MBA Child Without a Job at Age 18
May 18. 2006 message from Andrew Priest [a.priest@ECU.EDU.AU]
The youngest person ever to receive an MBA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania is relieved that it's finally over.
Jessica Meeker, 18, started her odyssey toward an MBA back when she was 12 years old, when she became the youngest person ever to sign up for classes. Four years later she was the youngest to receive a bachelor's degree, earning a diploma in psychology.
Meeker recently told The Associated Press what it was like when she first started attending classes as a freshman. "I was a little kid," she said. "Everyone was like, 'What's she doing here?'"
Michelle Fryling, the university's director of media relations, says that Meekers integration into the student body was seamless. "She came into a program that has quite a few non-traditional students, including quite a few from outside the United States," Fryling said. "All the students welcomed her as part of the group. She mixed very well and was a very fine student."
Krish Krishnan, director of the school's MBA program, feels Jessica might fit in best with a company that markets to young people. However, with the job offers not yet coming in, Jessica has expressed interest in pursuing her doctorate in psychology.
Whatever Jessica's options, she has plenty of time to make up her mind. When youre 18 years old, the future is boundless.
Should you wait longer to start receiving Social Security retirement
This year, there's been much hand-wringing over the demise of traditional company pensions, with General Motors, International Business Machines and others announcing they're shifting to 401(k) plans instead. One solution: Make sure you still get a generous, predictable stream of retirement income -- by delaying your Social Security benefits beyond your retirement date. This isn't a popular strategy. Yet many experts think it makes sense, and one insurer is even launching a business aimed at helping folks delay Social Security. Staking a claim. Let's say you were born between 1943 and 1954. If you are eligible for $750 a month from Social Security at age 62, you could boost that to $1,000 by delaying benefits until age 66 and $1,320 by postponing until age 70. These figures ignore Social Security's annual inflation adjustment. Delaying Social Security strikes me as a great way to lock up a healthy stream of inflation-linked income. But most retirees clearly disagree. Among women applying for Social Security in 2004, over 70% were under age 65, while almost 67% of men took benefits early.
Jonathan Clements, "Delayed Gratification: When Postponing Social Security Payments Is a Smart Move," The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2006; Page D1 ---
More on Accounting Fraud Via Backdating Options
"ACS Says Some Options Carried Dates That Preceded Approvals," by Charles
Forelle and James Bandler, The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2006;
Page A2 ---
Affiliated Computer Services Inc. acknowledged that it issued executive stock options that carried "effective dates" preceding the written approval of the grants, saying it plans a charge of as much as $40 million to rectify its accounting related to the grants.
The announcement followed a preliminary internal probe at ACS, a Dallas technology outsourcer that is also under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its options practices. Between 1995 and 2002, the company granted stock options to Jeffrey Rich, its chief executive for part of that time, that were routinely dated just before sharp run-ups in the company's share price, and often at the nadir of big dips.
Mr. Rich left the company last year. A rising share price helped him reap more than $60 million from options during his tenure at the company. The timing of his grants helped, too. If his six grants had come at the stock's average closing price during the year they were dated, he'd have made about 15% less.
Continued in article
You can read more about controversies over accounting for employee stock options at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm
"Watching iPod Videos on Your TV: On-Screen Navigation Isn't Always an Option; Hassling With the Remote," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2006; Page D5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114721430327048238.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Gadgets that connect iPods to home entertainment centers aren't new. The booming iPod accessory industry has long offered docks and cables that allow music stored on an iPod to be played through a home audio system, and remote controls to manage the playback.
But, with the advent last fall of the video-capable iPod, a new type of product is emerging: connectors and docks that allow iPods to play video through a TV, as well as playing audio through home receivers and speakers. In addition, there are finally some iPod docks that place a menu of options, similar to the iPod's own menu, on a TV screen.
If you own a video iPod and happen to miss Sunday's episode of "Desperate Housewives," you can easily log on to Apple's iTunes Music Store, pay a couple of bucks to download the episode and copy the video onto the iPod for watching on the go.
But watching movies or TV shows on your home entertainment center will always be more enjoyable than watching on a comparatively tiny 2.5" iPod screen while listening through earbuds.
This week we reviewed two of these new iPod video connectors: the $99 iPod AV Connection Kit from Apple Computer Inc. itself and the $150 HomeDock Deluxe by Digital Lifestyle Outfitters, or DLO, as the smaller company calls itself.
When it comes to watching videos or digital photo slide shows, these two docks are about the same. Because of limitations in the iPod itself, video and slide-show menus can't be projected on the TV screen, so selecting them requires manipulating menus on the iPod. But for listening to the iPod's music through your speakers, the DLO HomeDock Deluxe pulls ahead. It offers a special mode that lists music on your television screen, not just on your iPod screen like the Apple kit, so you can see song details clear across the room. And overall, the DLO remote is much easier to use than Apple's.
Griffin Technology, another popular maker of iPod accessories, has plans for its own iPod video connector that it will call the TuneCenter. This product -- like the DLO HomeDock Deluxe -- will offer music navigation through a TV screen menu. It should be available starting in June.
For our tests, we used a $299 30-gigabyte iPod, and made sure to copy two videos onto it from our iTunes library: rock band Coldplay's music video of its song, "Fix You," and the latest episode of the Bravo channel's TV series "Top Chef."
We started with Apple's iPod AV Connection Kit, which includes a simple white dock, tiny white remote, white AC connection cable (red, white and yellow plugs at one end) and power adapter to charge the iPod while it docks.
We used one of four small adapters to fit our iPod into the dock. A power adapter cable and AC connection cable plug into the dock's back side, and a small circular infrared receiver for the remote decorates the front. The other end of the AC cable fit into our TV's red, yellow and white plugs, just like attaching a DVD player to a TV. We also made sure to turn on the iPod's "TV Out" setting, so videos could be transmitted out rather than just playing on the iPod itself.
We picked up the iPod dock's tiny remote, and pressed play, hearing music from our TV's speakers, but seeing nothing on our TV screen. You can use the remote to skip through songs and turn the volume up or down, but that's where its functionality ends. You can't use the remote's Menu button (nothing happens), nor can you use it to select other settings like listening to a play-list of music or turning on the iPod's useful Shuffle Songs setting.
As if this weren't maddening enough, we got even more frustrated when trying to use the remote to watch videos or photo slide shows on the iPod AV Connection Kit -- it works only if you've already selected a video or slide show using the iPod buttons, not the remote.
If you're tired of this remote limiting you to one list of songs and you want to suddenly start watching a video or slide show, you'll have to get up, walk over to the iPod, pick it up (it's easier to operate when holding) and start playing the video or slide show. Only then can you use the remote to navigate within that media. Apple says you wouldn't be able to see the screen to use the remote anyway, but we'd rather have the option.
After dealing with the tiny remote's big hassle, we did watch videos and slide shows through the iPod on the TV screen. While watching the episode of "Top Chef," we easily paused with the remote to get a show-inspired snack.
Using the DLO HomeDock Deluxe was liberating compared with working with the limited Apple device. It's a little bigger and is black, rather than white, with slots that hold its 18-button remote and the iPod. It uses the same cables and jacks, powering up from a wall plug and hooking into the TV with an AC cord.
But because the HomeDock Deluxe uses two modes -- one that displays a useful user interface on the TV screen while playing music (On-Screen Navigation Mode) and another that operates videos and slide shows, as well as music (iPod Mode) -- a special button on the remote must be pressed to switch between the two modes. This gets a little clumsy, stopping the iPod in midsong, for example, to swap over to the new mode.
In iPod Mode, where all data only show up on the iPod screen like on Apple's iPod AV Connection Kit, you can listen to music, watch videos or watch photo slideshows. But the remote doesn't limit you to one list of songs, as Apple's does. Rather, you can skip through the iPod's menus selecting various options with the remote, even going from videos to slide shows to music. We did have to stand closer to the HomeDock Deluxe to read some smaller print, but we never had to pick up the iPod in frustration.
We watched the Coldplay video, rewinding and fast-forwarding easily to find a favorite moment when the group's lead singer, Chris Martin, bursts onto a stage surrounded by fans after running through the streets of London.
A small button in the HomeDock Deluxe remote's top left corner switches to On-Screen Navigation Mode. This mode shows a brightly colored welcome screen on your TV that lists Music, Shuffle Songs, Playlists and HomeDock Settings. The Music section showed Playlists, Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, Composers and Audiobooks -- a familiar iPod-like format that was easy to navigate.
Each song's information -- minus album art -- showed on the screen as it played, and the bigger screen allowed us to move far away and just glance to the TV to see the upcoming song or what artist was singing. DLO hopes to add the album art to this screen in the future.
A few times, while using the HomeDock Deluxe remote, our iPod's backlight went off, which was annoying. The company says it is working on this bug, but a special button on the remote turns it on again for now.
Continued in article
Colleges No Longer in the Swim of Things
(Link forwarded by Paul Golliher)
A half-century ago, passing a swim test was a
common requirement on college campuses. In an era before health clubs, yoga
and aerobics, swimming was both a popular exercise option and a skill
colleges believed men and women should master -- both for their own safety
and for social reasons. But swimming has lost its prominent place in campus
physical education as the finishing school element has faded and other
fitness options have multiplied.
"Colleges throw in the towel on swim tests," CNN, May 9, 2006 --- http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/05/08/colleges.swimtest.ap/index.html?eref=aol
Publish Exams Online --- http://www.examprofessor.com/main/index.cfm
Bob Jensen's threads on exam technology are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm
"Astro Newbie Competes for Webby," by Michael O'Neill, Wired News, May 8, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/internet/0,70797-0.html?tw=wn_index_5
Four of the five nominees for this year's Webby Award in the science category are sponsored by major global organizations, including National Geographic and NASA. The fifth is an astronomy site created by Ricky Leon Murphy and his wife.
In 2004, Murphy, a lanky, 36-year-old Army veteran who works as an ophthalmic photographer and network administrator at Stanford's California VitreoRetinal Center, created Astronomy Online to house all the research he was accumulating in an online master's program in astronomy.
On a bit of a lark, Murphy sent in the $50 fee to submit his site for a Webby Award a few months ago. He had almost forgotten about it when, a few weeks ago, he received an e-mail saying his site was one of the five nominees selected in the science category.
He is in distinguished company. The other nominees are the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, NASA's Ozone Hole Watch, Springwatch (a nature site sponsored by the BBC) and The Genographic Project (sponsored by National Geographic and IBM).
"I was very surprised," Murphy said. He was also elated at achieving equal recognition with some global heavyweights.
Continued in article
The Democratic Party Officially Opposes Gay Marriage (Guess why?)
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has angered supporters in the gay and lesbian community by stating that his party opposes gay marriage. Appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s program "The 700 Club” on Wednesday, Dean declared: "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Carl Limbacher, "Dean: We Oppose Gay Marriage Too," NewsMax, May 11, 2006 --- http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/5/11/94300.shtml?s=lh
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Exam Content Is Relevant to
The findings of a recent Job Analysis Survey conducted by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA), confirms that the content of the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam continues to be relevant to the on-the-job knowledge and skills performed by management accountants. The Survey was the first validation survey performed since the CMA exam content was revised in 2004.
"CMA Exam Content Is Relevant to Profession," AccountingWeb, May 4, 2006 ---
Plants and Animals in Australia --- http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/#activities
New Accounting Textbook in Australia
Paul Pacter, a director in Deloitte's IFRS Global Office and webmaster of IASPlus, is co-author of a university textbook released in April 2006 – Australian Accounting Standards, published by John Wiley and Sons, Australia. The focus of this 1,110-page text is on the application of accounting standards issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board. The book has been written for intermediate and advanced financial reporting courses, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Paul's co-authors are Ruth Picker, Ken Leo, Keith Alfredson, Jeannie Radford, and Victoria Wise. For international orders, email email@example.com (cite ISBN-10: 047081148X). Paul is also co-author of another Wiley textbook Applying International Accounting Standards. The second edition of that book will be published later this year, retitled Applying International Financial Reporting Standards.
"Textbook on Australian accounting standards," IAS Plus, May 4, 2006 --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
Paul is also a leading expert on Chinese accounting standards. The following module also appears on May 4, 2006 at IAS Plus:
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) announced today a new relationship to increase their co-operation and collaboration through an enhanced bilateral dialogue. Meeting at SEC headquarters in Washington, D.C., SEC Chairman Christopher Cox and CSRC Chairman Shang Fulin presented terms of reference that establish the structure of this enhanced dialogue and discussion subjects for the agenda during 2006. Several aspects of the dialogue relate to financial reporting. The new dialogue has three primary objectives:
- to identify and discuss securities markets regulatory developments of common interest, particularly those relevant to reporting requirements for public companies listed in one another's markets;
- to improve cooperation and the exchange of information in cross-border securities enforcement matters; and to continue and expand upon the existing program of training and technical assistance provided by the SEC to the CSRC.
In setting out the areas of dialogue for the agenda in 2006, the following regulatory issues for discussion were identified:
- corporate governance reforms, including requirements for audit committees, auditor independence and internal
- controls over financial reporting; convergence of national accounting standards with International Financial Reporting Standards; and
- the use of information technology, including interactive data tagging systems, to enhance the usefulness of reported of financial information.
Battle Lines: Letters from America’s Wars --- http://www.gilderlehrman.org/collection/battlelines/index_good.html
Bill Beaver and Maureen McNichols at Stanford University
Financial Statements Are Still Valuable Tools for Predicting
Despite growing public skepticism over how useful financial statements are in providing information to investors, researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business have found that the value of financial ratios for predicting bankruptcy has not declined significantly over time. Professors Maureen McNichols and William Beaver and graduate student Jung-Wu Rhie have reexamined the usefulness for predicting bankruptcy of financial ratios such as return on assets (net income divided by total assets), cash flow to total liabilities (earnings before interest, depreciation, and taxes divided by both short- and long-term debt), and leverage (total liabilities to total assets). The study explored how three forces have influenced this predictive value over the past 40 years.
"Financial Statements Are Still Valuable Tools for Predicting Bankruptcy," Stanford Graduate School of Business Newsletter, November 2005 --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/acctg_mcnichols-beaver_bankruptcy.shtml
"Financial Statements Still Significant In Predicting Bankruptcy," AccountingWeb, May 17, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102159
Researchers have found that financial ratios are still valuable tools in predicting bankruptcy. The significance of financial ratios found in statements was explored in a study examining their predictive value over the last four decades, according to the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB).
The GSB reported that the premise of the study was motivated by regulatory organizations, such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking to increase the usefulness of information found in financial statements.
The study, completed by Professors Maureen McNichols and William Beaver, with graduate student Jung-Wu Rhie, reexamined the use of financial ratios such as cash flow to total liabilities (earnings before interest, depreciation, and taxes divided by short-term debt plus long-term debt), return on assets (net income divided by total assets), leverage (total liabilities compared to total assets), according to the GSB.
McNichols is the Marriner S. Eccles Professor of Public and Private Management at the GSB. Beaver is the Joan E. Horngren Professor of Accounting there.
McNichols told the GSB, “One prediction is that if standard-setters are successful at incorporating additional information about fair values into financial statements, then we might expect their predictive ability for bankruptcy to increase.”
On the other hand, traditional accounting standards may capture only a portion of current companies’ scope of activities. Also, financial statements may be seen as more “managed” than from other times in the past, according to the GSB.
“If we look back in the 1960s, intangible assets -– as represented by investments in brands, research and development and technology -– were much less pervasive than they are today. These kinds of transactions are not well captured by our current accounting model,” Professor McNichols told the GSB. Concerning the “management” of financial statements, McNichols said, “Certainly, there is much more documentation of earnings management today than we’ve seen historically.”
McNichols went on to say that any shift in the economic activities of companies might also offset any improvements in standards and informativeness of financial statements made by regulatory standard-setters, according to the GSB.
In study results released in March 2005, financial statements were found to be highly significant in predicting bankruptcy over the two periods of the study, according to the GSB. Period 1 was 1962 to 1993 and Period 2 was 1994 to 2002. There was a decline in predictive ability from Period 1 to Period 2, although it was not statistically significant. Companies’ “hazard rate”, reflecting their risk of going bankrupt and using the three ratios, predicted higher risk in the year before bankruptcy, as well as other years before their insolvency. Beaver said, “In fact, we see differences in the ratios of bankrupt and nonbankrupt firms up to five years prior to bankruptcy.”
The researchers then shifted their predictors toward more market-based values. These were cumulative stock returns over a year; the market capitalization of the firm (or common stock price per share, times the common shares outstanding); and the variability of stock returns. The use of these values was very predictive as well, according to the GSB.
Predictability actually increased over time. Ninety-two percent of bankrupt companies were in the highest three deciles of Period 1 hazard rates and 93 percent for Period 2. The slight rise was attributed to market prices reflecting broader information, in addition to the information found in financial statements. The GSB reported that the incremental significance of non-financial statement information is reflected in the resulting difference between the two time periods.
The researchers then merged the financial-ratio and market-based models into a hybrid model. Their results improved, coming up with a 96 percent chance of predicting bankruptcy for Period 1 and 93 percent over Period 2. This seems to show that market prices may compensate for even slight decreases in the predictivity of financial ratios. These results further indicate that the market draws upon additional information not available in financial ratios.
McNichols told the GSB, “But it’s comforting to know that the behavior of the combined model, over time, is so stable.” The stability of their combined model suggests that bankruptcy can be predicted reliably in capital markets and this ability has not been eroded by changes in reporting.
Dr. Edward Altman, Ph.D., developed his Z-score formula for predicting bankruptcy in 1968, according to Value Based Management. It consists of three different models, each for specific business organizations, including public manufacturers, private manufacturers and private general firms.
The American Bankruptcy Institute collects and publishes metrics on bankruptcies. Review their listing of annual business and non-business filings by state (2000-2005) breaks down total bankruptcies into business and non-business numbers, as well as consumer bankruptcies as a percentage of the non-business metrics.
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm
Contraception Down Means Abortion Up
Contraception use has declined strikingly over the last decade, particularly among poor women, making them more likely to get pregnant unintentionally and to have abortions, according to a report released yesterday by the Guttmacher Institute. The decline appears to have slowed the reduction in the national abortion rate that began in the mid-1980's. "This is turning back the clock on all the gains women have made in recent decades," Sharon L. Camp, the president of the institute, said. Among sexually active women who were not trying to get pregnant, the percentage of those not using contraception increased to 11 percent from 7 percent from 1994 to 2001, the latest data available, according to numbers Guttmacher analyzed from the National Survey of Family Growth, a federal study.
Kate Zernike, "Use of Contraception Drops, Slowing Decline of Abortion Rate," The New York Times, May 5, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/05/health/05abort.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
Many Small Companies Printing Books: About 63,000
From the Scholarly Communications Blog at the University of Illinois
At a time when the book world continues to struggle, focusing mainly on bestsellers to remain profitable, a growing number of small publishers are upending the industry stasis and redefining the business of publishing on their own terms. While the big publishing companies have been merging, the number of small presses has been increasing, creating a commercial critical mass. According to a survey by the Book Industry Study in 2005, there are some 63,000 small presses generating $14.2 billion in sales.
"Small Publishers Book Big Rewards," Scholarly Communications, May 2, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
The rest of the story is in Business Week, May 2, 2006 --- http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/may2006/sb20060502_704137.htm
Perhaps Your Department or College Should Consider Buying Prepaid Airline Tickets
"Airlines Mull Selling Prepaid Passes," by Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2006; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114713421428147286.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Buses, trains and toll roads sell prepaid passes to travelers. Now, in an attempt to build customer loyalty, airlines are beginning to offer them too.
Air Canada recently launched a pass program similar to cellular telephone plans: It lets customers prepurchase a set number of flights in the U.S. and Canada at a fixed price. Some plans are targeted to vacationers heading to Florida or Hawaii; others to oil workers commuting to work for three-week shifts into northern Alberta. Big companies can buy as many flights as they want, usable by as many as 300 employees within any three month period.
Some big U.S. carriers are eyeing the program with interest. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines is trying to design a prepaid travel pass for consumers, a top executive says. (American already has a version of a pass program available to business travelers: Users can buy 25,000 miles worth of travel in one year for $10,000.) UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, which also has a program for business travelers, is watching the consumer offerings, says a marketing executive. Last month, Canadian discounter WestJet Airlines struck back at Air Canada by offering a package of 10 one-way flights between Toronto and either Montreal or Ottawa for about US$1,100 (C$1,200).
Continued in article
"Watch Your Language: Top books on the history and use of English," by David Crystal, The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110008403
1. The Oxford English Dictionary (1884).
If I were ever asked which book to take to a desert island, I would opt immediately for the second edition of the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (1989)--and hope that the island had an electricity supply so that I could download the online version or use the CD. The OED is without a doubt the most comprehensive account of the history of English vocabulary ever compiled. It has gaps and biases, of course--for example, the original editors went through Shakespeare with a tooth-comb, at the expense of some of the other Elizabethan dramatists--but it is still the source I turn to most often whenever I am working on the development of the language. Its process of continual editorial revision provides a voyage of linguistic discovery that, I am happy to say, never comes to an end.
2. "The Use of English" by Randolph Quirk (St. Martin's, 1963).
This is the book that opened my eyes--and the eyes of several generations of English students-- to the range, versatility and flexibility of the English language. "The Use of English" originated in a series of BBC talks, and the radio influence is apparent in the friendly tone of the writing and down-to-earth exercises. The book brought home the importance of always linking the study of language to the study of literature. Its range of examples, from both linguistic and literary sources, gave a perfect illustration of how the subject should be taught. When Randolph Quirk instructs the reader to "write opening paragraphs which you might expect to find beneath the following headlines," he doesn't rely on the sort of heavy news items that an older book might have employed; instead he gives us the cheeky "Rubber Bridge at Monte Carlo" and "Virgin Lands Job for Disgraced Red." First published by Longmans in London in 1962 (a second edition came out in 1968), the book was replaced in 1990 by "English in Use," which Quirk co-wrote with his wife, Gabriele Stein. But nothing could replace the freshness and impact of the original volume.
3. "A History of the English Language" by Albert C. Baugh (Appleton-Century, 1935).
This book just goes on and on. I used its second edition (1957) when I was an undergraduate and was fascinated by both the range of its coverage and the depth of its treatment. It begins by seeing English in the context of the Indo-European family, then works its way from Old English through Middle English into Early Modern English and Modern English, and in later editions continues the story as the language expands around the world. "A History of the English Language" packs an enormous amount of illustrative detail into its 450 or so pages. Other histories of the language have since been written, but this one holds a special place for its balanced views and accessible scholarship.
4. Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases by Peter Mark Roget (1852)
No name has come to be so synonymous with "thesaurus" as has Roget's. He has even become a common noun: I have "a Roget" on my shelves. Indeed I have a dozen Rogets, as his thesaurus has now appeared in numerous editions and been revised, expanded or abridged more times than any other example of the genre. The original was a truly remarkable work for its period, and anyone who has tried to update it or rework its contents (as I have) cannot fail to recognize the prodigious labor that went into its compilation. Idiosyncratic as all such thematic thesauruses are, it is nonetheless the best first source of reference we have for those many occasions when we are dimly aware of the meaning we want to express and are searching for the best word with which to express it.
5. "Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson (William Morrow, 1990).
I admire nonspecialists who take an interest in a subject and explore it with respect and accuracy, adding a level of accessibility and an individual slant that academics would do well to emulate. Few of these writers have succeeded; none has succeeded so well as Bill Bryson in this book. It's a delightful survey--though with its good humor, wealth of anecdote and boyish enthusiasm, "romp" would be a better word.
Mr. Crystal is the author of more than 30 books specifically on English. His latest title, "How Language Works" (Overlook), will be published in November.
Stuff Ben Wrote (forwarded by Auntie Bev) --- http://www.benstein.com/050805md.html
The most permanent feature of life, when you are a child, is your mother. She is always there telling you to study more, to stand straighter, to clean up your room, to speak more clearly. She is always warning you, cautioning you, telling you what a bleak future you are going to have if you don't mend your ways.
That, at least, was my mother. She had grown up with a father who died when she was nine, had to make it through the Great Depression by studying super hard and getting scholarships, and that was the way she saw life.
And, truth to tell, I didn't like her much for it. I didn't like her paying so much attention to me. I wanted her to leave me alone.
Time passed. My mother didn't leave me alone.
When I went off to college in a city where I knew hardly a soul, a city called New York, my mother wrote me a letter, sometimes two, every day, so I would have something in my mail box at Columbia. There were no e-mails then and long distance was expensive so she sat down with a pen and paper and wrote me letters, often hilarious, about her life in Maryland.
I had a girlfriend at the University of Chicago one year and my mother insisted on sending me a plane ticket to go see her--again, so I would not be lonely.
When I went to law school in New Haven, my mother also wrote me every day. She did not want me to be alone or lonely. She had been a lonely child and she knew it hurt.
When I got married, she called my wife or me every few days and wrote us frequent letters.
When I lost my job at the White House because my boss, Mr. Nixon, resigned, my mother called her high powered friends until she got me not just one but many job offers. I didn't take any of them, but there she was, not leaving me alone, again.
She loved dogs and she loved to travel. She was in France when my beloved Weimaraner, Mary, died. She offered to come home to help bury Mary. To Los Angeles.
When she grew old, I would go once a month to visit her and my Pop in Washington. When I would leave, she would follow me down the hallway at The Watergate and look at me as if she were trying to work me into her immortal soul forever. Wherever I went, she would be on the phone calling me before anyone else. She would not let me alone.
My mother died unexpectedly of heart failure on April 21, 1997. She left me alone, and I hate it. I hate that there are no more letters from her, no more long last looks as walk down the hall at The Watergate. I still look to see if there are any messages from her at the hotels where I spend most of my time. I have a great wife and she pays attention to me, and I am old by now anyway. But I miss having someone telling me what to do, paying attention to me every single second at every moment of my life. When you are a child, it's a pain and a burden. But love it anyway. The time will come when your mother does leave you alone, and the silence is deafening. And, yes, it's lonely.
Some old Maxine's quotations forwarded by old Auntie Bev
(who proposes that Maxine run for President in 2008)
Maxine on "Driver Safety"
"I can't use the cell phone in the car. I have to keep my hands free for making gestures.".......
Maxine on "Housework"
"I do my housework in the nude. It gives me an incentive to clean the mirrors as quickly as possible."
Maxine on "Lawn Care"
"The key to a nice-looking lawn is a good mower. I recommend one who is muscular and shirtless."
Maxine on "The Perfect Man"
"All I'm looking for is a guy who'll do what I want, when I want, for as long as I want, and then go away. Or wait nearby, like a Dust Buster, charged up and ready when needed."
Maxine on "Technology Revolution"
"My idea of rebooting is kicking somebody in the butt twice."
Maxine on "Aging"
"Take every birthday with a grain of salt. This works much better if the salt accompanies a Margarita."
Never read the fine print. There ain't no way you're going to like it.
If you let a smile be your umbrella, then most likely your butt will get soaking wet.
The only two things we do with greater frequency in middle age are urinate and attend funerals.
The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
To err is human, to forgive - highly unlikely.
Do you realize that in about 40 years, we'll have millions of old ladies running around with tattoos?
Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than a Kia.
Drinking makes some husbands see double and feel single.
After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching somewhere, you may be dead.