I recently sent out an "Appeal" for accounting educators, researchers, and
practitioners to actively support what I call The Accounting Review (TAR)
Diversity Initiative as initiated by American Accounting Association President
Judy Rayburn ---
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
Long time followers of FinanceProfessor.com
know I am a
big fan of Thomas Friedman. From his early
books to The World is Flat and most of his NY Times articles, I
think I have read everything he has written. I may not agree with
everything, but at least I have read it (or more aptly ristened to
it) and agreed with MOST of it.
Thus, I was excited when I found the following from
(one of my new favorite sites).
From Charlie Rose (actually with guest host John Doerr):
On energy and much more. He also talks
about entrepreneurship, a gas tax, geo-green, globalization (a
little), and even a bit on social responsibility and incentives. And
much more. (BTW the link says 99 cents, but I think that is to buy,
I watched it for free) (from May 22, 2006):
For all Google Video on Thomas Friedman check out
The Bates College Museum of Art has
put together a Web exhibition that explores the "fertile margins of the
history of science and museums, taxonomy, myth, creativity and
discovery." Cryptozoology, the search for proof of mythical creatures
such as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, is itself a marginalized
science. The featured show has entries for the 15 artists, which are in
various stages of development - there is at least one work by each of
them, and additional biographical and contextual information for most.
Works submitted include installations, such as Mark Dion's Museum of
Cryptozoology Director's Office, as well as sculpture, paintings, and
prints. There is also a film series associated with the exhibition, that
will screen a 1972 film, "The Legend of Boggy Creek", a docu-drama that
looks for proof of the existence of a monster in an Arkansas swamp, and
the 2002 Discovery Channel production, "The End of Extinction: Cloning
the Tasmanian Tiger".
Round the Red Lamp by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) ---
Across the Plains by Robert Louis
Stevenson (1850-1894) ---
Billy Budd by Herman Melville (1819-1891) ---
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark
Twain (1835-1910) ---
Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle
Education is not to reform students or amuse them or
to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their
horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible. Robert M. Hutchins as quoted by Mark
Time Warner is charging more to folks who can least
afford to pay. Geneva Hurst, 82, is upset because she had to pay a dollar extra
when she paid her cable bill in person at a Texas City service center. She
doesn't have a checking account or credit card and cashes her Social Security
check to buy food and pay bills. Geneva said, "I goes there. I don't have a
checking account but I pays it in cash. And I walk in there one day and I paid
it in cash and she says when I paid--'Oh, you know, we have to charge a dollar
extra.' . . . It's a sad thing. It's so sad, 'cause poor people, we just barely
getting by with what we're already paying."
"Customers who pay their bill in person charged extra fee,"
ABC13.com, May 22, 2006 ---
So to appease them (environmentalists),
the pipeline was put on stilts where it crossed the caribou graze lands. What
happened? The caribou decided to gather at the spot where the pipeline came down
to the ground. Seems the caribou liked to lie against the pipeline because the
pipe was warm from the oil passing through it. Roger Hedgecock, May 28, 2006 ---
Louisiana will have nearly its full force of Guard
personnel at home preparing for the 2006 hurricane season. “They’re sorting all
that out [at the federal level],” Major Ed Bush of the Louisiana National Guard
said, according to the Independent News. “There’s no planned rotation for any
Louisiana guard brigade at this time.” AccountingWeb, May 26, 2006 ---
Managing Organizational Knowledge: Theoretical and
PG. #376 & 377 NONAKA 18.1 KNOWLEDGE/TRUTH
been traditionally defined as "justified true belief." A fundamental issue in
various streams of epistemology is how one can justify one's subjective belief
as objective "truth." In other words, the issue is whether human beings can
ever achieve any form of knowledge that is independent of their own subjective
construction since they are the agents through which knowledge is perceived or
experienced (Morgan and Smircich, 1980). While the ontological position of
positivism as the world as concrete structures supports objective knowledge, the
phenomenological philosophers see part of the world inherently subjective.
The Cartesian split and power of reasoning supports the view of
objective knowledge and truth in positivism. John Locke, among the others,
maintained that human knowledge is an inner mental presentation (or mirror
image) of the outside world that can be explained in linguistic signs and
mathematics through reasoning. All things beyond the thought/senses
consequently do not exist and/or are irrelevant. Loosely following this
conceptualization, traditional economic and psychological theories are limited
to objective knowledge, which can be processed through formal logic and tested
empirically. The advantage of this mono-dimensional notion of knowledge is that
it allows scholars further to claim that all genuine human knowledge is
contained within the boundaries of science.
In contrast, for phenomenological philosophers knowledge is
subjective, context-specific, bodily, relative, and interpretational (Heidegger,
1962; Husserl, 1970, 1977; Merleau-Ponty, 1962). They rather uniformly claim
that the mental and the physical worlds evolve in a dialectic joint advent. As
meanings emerge through experiences, the primacy is paid on subjective tacit
knowledge over objective prepositional knowledge. Practical knowledge is often
prioritized over theoretical knowledge (Hayek, 1945; Polanyi, 1952, 1966).
Tacit knowledge, accumulated in dialectic individual-environment interaction, is
very difficult to articulate (Polanyi, 1952, 1966). Husserl (1977) believed in
attaining true knowledge through "epoche" or "bracketing," that is, seeing
things as they are and grasping them through a kind of direct insight. Pure
phenomenological experience is even claimed to precede cognition (Nishida,
The identified wide and fundamental ontological and
epistemological differences in positivism and phenomenology create
methodological challenges. It can be claimed that the positivist dominance has
limited comprehensive context-specific discussions on knowledge in management
science. This problem was already noticed by Edith Penrose (1959) who argued
that the relative negligence was the result of the difficulties involved in
taking knowledge into account. This is because positivist epistemology is based
on the assumption that lived experiences can be linguistically carved up and
conventionally portioned into preexistent conceptual categories for the purposes
of systematic analysis and casual attribution. In effect, positivism-based
social science tries to freeze-frame the dynamic and living social world into a
preexisting static structure.
In contrast to the context-free positivist mirror image of human
mind and the environment, the knowledge-creating theory is rooted on the belief
that knowledge inherently includes human values and ideals. The knowledge
creation process cannot be captured solely as a normative causal model because
human values and ideals are subjective and the concept of truth depends on
values, ideals, and contexts.
However, the knowledge-creating theory does not view knowledge
as solely subjective. It treats knowledge creation as a continuous process in
which subjective tacit knowledge and objective explicit knowledge are converted
into each other (Nonaka, 1991, 1994; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). The boundaries
between explicit and tacit knowledge are porous as all knowledge and action is
rooted in the tacit component (Tsoukas, 1996). Tacit knowledge, in turn, is
built partly on the existing explicit knowledge since tacit knowledge is
acquired through experiences and observations in the physical world.
Viewing the knowledge-creating process as the conversion process
between tacit and explicit knowledge means that it is viewed as the social
process of validating truth (Nonaka, 1994; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).
Contemporary philosophers claim that group validation produces knowledge that is
not private and subjective (Rorty, 1979). As long as the knowledge stays tacit
and subjective, it can be acquired only through direct sensory experience, and
cannot go beyond one's own values, ideals, and contexts. In such a case, it is
hard to create new knowledge or achieve universality of knowledge. Through the
knowledge conversion process, called SECI process, a personal subjective
knowledge is validated socially and synthesized with others' knowledge so that
knowledge keeps expanding (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).
Unlike positivism, the knowledge-creating theory does not treat
knowledge as something absolute and infallible. The truth can be claimed to be
incomplete as any current state of knowledge is fallible and influenced by
historical factors such as ideologies, values, and interests of collectives.
The knowledge-creating theory views knowledge and truth as the result of a
permanent and unfinished questioning of the present. While absolute truth may
not be achieved, the knowledge validation leads to ever more true and fewer
false consequences, increasing plausibility. The pragmatic solution is to
accept collectively "objectified" knowledge as the "truth" because it works in a
certain time and context. Hence, knowledge-creating theory defines knowledge as
a dynamic process of justifying personal belief towards the "truth."
PG. #390 NONAKA The chapter argues that building the
theory of knowledge creation needs to an epistemological and ontological
discussion, instead of just relying on a positivist approach, which has been the
implicit paradigm of social science. The positivist rationality has become
identified with analytical thinking that focuses on generating and testing
hypotheses through formal logic. While providing a clear guideline for theory
building and empirical examinations, it poses problems for the investigation of
complex and dynamic social phenomena, such as knowledge creation. In
positivist-based research, knowledge is still often treated as an exogenous
variable or distraction against linear economic rationale. The relative lack of
alternative conceptualization has meant that management science has slowly been
detached from the surrounding societal reality. The understanding of social
systems cannot be based entirely on natural scientific facts.
Martha Launches an Old Biscuits Mixer
Last week, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. --
which already has magazines, a radio show, a television show and a line of
furnishings featuring the eponymous founder and domestic expert -- said it would
enter the social network space by launching a site in late 2007. It will be
similar to MySpace.com, the social network site hugely popular with teens and
young adults, but aimed at adult women, the company said.
"Martha's New Invitation: Your Space, Or Hers? by Frank Ahrens, The
Washington Post, May 28, 2006; Page F06 ---
The company said . . . okay, that's it. I can't
hold a straight face any longer in this story. The mind reels with the comic
· It'll be just like MySpace. That is, if your
space happens to be an 8-by-10 jail cell in a federal pen.
· Why do I have a feeling it will be a lot more
like Martha's Space than MySpace?
· Further, how will she stand all of those
people in her space, clicking on things, looking at things, getting
things out of place? You people ever hear of viruses? Stop touching
· And then there is this: 2007? I bet a couple
smart guys in a garage could set up a decent-looking social network site
in about a month. By the time Stewart hangs her site, social networks
could be so 2006. We may be into anti-social networks by then, which is
what I'm looking forward to, as in, KeepOutOfMySpace.com. (Note to self:
Register that, quick.)
MySpace, which was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News
Corp. last year, has some 70 million users and is growing. The idea is a
proven one. Talking to investors last week, Susan Lyne -- the chief
executive of Stewart's company (and one of the ABC executives who got fired
after green-lighting "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost") -- said Stewart's
social network site will be aimed at the 25-to-45-year-old female set, and
will let them swap such things as pictures, recipes and scrapbook-making
Continued in article
And now, the Latino Jihad Four years ago, The Economist ran a cover story on the
winner of the Brazilian election, the socialist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva. It was an event of great hemispherical significance. Hence the headline:
"The Meaning Of Lula." The following week, a Canadian reader, Asif Niazi, wrote
to the magazine: "Sir, The meaning of Lula‚ in Urdu, is penis." . . .
Frank Gaffney's new book War Footing is sub-titled Ten Steps America Must Take
to Prevail in the War for the Free World and includes, as one might expect,
suggestions for the home front, the Middle East, the transnational agencies. But
it's some of the other chapters that give you pause when it comes to the bigger
picture - for example, he urges Washington to "Counteract the reemergence of
totalitarianism in Latin America." That doesn't sound like the fellows Condi and
Colin were cooing over in Quebec. Yet, as Gaffney writes, "Many Latin American
countries are imploding rather than developing. The region's most influential
leaders are thugs. It is a magnet for Islamist terrorists and a breeding ground
for hostile political movements. The key leader is Chavez, the billionaire
dictator of Venezuela, who has declared a Latino jihad against the United
Mark Steyn, "And now, the Latino Jihad," Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2006 ---
Professor Churchill found guilty of "misconduct and plagiarism"
Last week the University of Colorado panel
investigating Ward Churchill found that the controversial professor of Native
committed serious acts of researchmisconduct and
plagiarism. It’s now up to the university to decide on an appropriate punishment
for the tenured professor, who could be fired or suspended without pay. I don’t
know enough about the situation to support or challenge the panel’s unanimous
findings, or to suggest what the university should do about them, but one aspect
of the committee’s 125-page report signals a chilling warning to academics: If
you want to stay below the radar, keep your politics and your scholarship to
Dennis Barron, "Churchill Fallout: It’s About Academic Freedom," Inside
Higher Ed, May 26, 2006 ---
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s
“How Many Ward Churchills?” has caused an uproar
in some corners of the Internet. Criticism has centered on two issues:
method and message. The report’s principal critics, Swarthmore history
professor Timothy Burke and The Myth of Political Correctness author
John K. Wilson, have attacked it, respectively, as a “casual, lazy,
cherrypicking survey of whatever materials the author(s) were able to access
on the Web,” and as part of “a vast new right-wing witch hunt on college
campuses.” Both critiques share confused and erroneous assumptions about the
report’s message and about ACTA’s right to criticize academic culture.
rke complains that the report’s criticisms
are ill-founded: They “see what they want to see,” they “ignore
context or specificity,” and they “avoid REAL argument of the kind
that scholars routinely engage in,” he grumbles. “The report talks
about the need to guarantee that students have unrestrained rights
to the free exchange of ideas in the classroom. Seriously, unless
you bother to get off your ass and stop reading catalogues online,
you have no idea what happens in classrooms.”
Setting aside Burke’s contemptuous tone, let’s
examine the gaps in his reasoning. Burke’s initial objections are
throw-away examples of faulty logic. The first, in which he accuses
ACTA of post ergo propter hoc thinking, is itself an example
of that logical fallacy: Burke sees ACTA seeing what ACTA wants to
see because Burke wants to see ACTA that way. But the course
descriptions ACTA cites are hardly unique or isolated. There are
hundreds of similarly tendentious descriptions published by
institutions across the country. They were chosen for their utter
typicality, not their uniqueness.
Burke’s second objection is remarkably
solipsistic — context and specificity are whatever he defines them
to be. ACTA quotes course descriptions verbatim, working from
exactly what students (and interested parents) read to select a
class. The reason? Course descriptions are designed to stand alone —
if they are all a prospective student needs to know about a class,
then they are also all tuition-paying parents, taxpayers, and
concerned citizens need in order to form a preliminary judgment.
This objection is part of Burke’s larger
criticism of the report’s reliance on course descriptions. But his
claim that these documents — the main resource students use to
decide whether or not to register for a class — do not tell us
anything about what happens in the classes in question is illogical
at best, disingenuous at worst. If true, this charge would mean
either that professors routinely engage in false advertising or that
the process by which students choose courses is a charade that fools
no one but students themselves.
In so arguing, Burke has chosen to stretch
a point ACTA freely concedes — that course descriptions are neither
courses nor perfect windows into the curriculum — in order to avoid
ACTA’s more fundamental argument about why course descriptions
matter. They matter because they are professors’ own public
representations of what happens in their classrooms. That so many
professors describe their pedagogical aims in ideologically loaded
ways raises entirely legitimate questions about accountability and
Of course, ACTA has never claimed to know
exactly what is happening in classrooms, and does not assume
authority to determine whether a class is pedagogically sound. All
ACTA’s report does is to urge college and university presidents,
deans, and faculty to examine the issue themselves. ACTA has already
outlined ways campus leaders can review departments and programs
while still being fair, respectful, and sensitive to academic
freedom and academic autonomy. Our 2005 report,
“Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action,”
was praised for its sensitivity to academic freedom and
self-governance. Burke’s hasty and intemperate critique studiously
evades these points.
Burke’s other criticism, that ACTA avoids
“REAL” argument because it does not argue in the same manner as
scholars do, is self-servingly dismissive: ACTA’s argument need not
be considered, Burke implies, because ACTA has not made its argument
as Burke thinks arguments should be made. But the truth is that
ACTA’s report is expressly not an academic paper. It is a report
designed to initiate dialogue about the college curriculum by
outlining some of the dominant terms and patterns displayed in
course offerings across the country. To condemn it, as Burke has,
for failing to maintain scholarly standards of data analysis is like
damning an apple for not being an orange.
Burke thus badly misunderstands ACTA’s
report. He both thinks ACTA isn’t qualified to judge the academic
curriculum and complains that ACTA has not framed a satisfactory
program of reform. But ACTA stresses that academics should address
the problem of self-regulation, and that they should do so now — in
the face of mounting legislative interest in controlling the
curriculum. ACTA’s report is as friendly to institutional
self-governance and academic freedom as it is possible for a
watchdog organization to be.
Now for Mr. Wilson.
Inside Higher Ed, John K. Wilson treats
ACTA’s report as Exhibit A in “a vast new right-wing witch hunt on
college campuses”: “The far right is already pursuing leftist
academics for expressing their views in the classroom,” Wilson
writes. “ACTA threatens that academic freedom will be revoked from
colleges unless they start censoring their professors and ban
[courses that mention social justice, sex, or race].” But Wilson’s
scaremongering misrepresents the report to an audience who, he seems
to expect, will not check his sources.
Nowhere does ACTA advocate censoring
professors or banning courses. The report urges academic officials
to address — voluntarily, and in institutionally appropriate ways —
professors’ obligation to respect students’ academic freedom to
learn about controversial issues. The report recommends
institutional self-study, hiring administrators committed to
intellectual diversity, careful vetting of job candidates’ work,
review of personnel practices, post-tenure review, and — most
importantly — fostering robust debate on campus.
Here are the study’s concluding paragraphs,
which follow directly from the sentence Wilson quoted to argue that
ACTA is endorsing censorship:
Ultimately, greater accountability
means more responsible decision-making on the part of academic
administrators, more judicious hiring on the part of
departments, and more balanced, genuinely tolerant teaching on
the part of faculties. It also means acknowledging—openly and
unapologetically—that education and advocacy are not one and the
same, that the invaluable work of opening minds and honing
critical thinking skills cannot be done when professors are more
interested in seeing their own beliefs put into political
practice.Finally, it means defending the academic freedom of
even the most militantly radical academics. Our aim should not
be to fire the Ward Churchills for their views, but to insist
that they do their job—regardless of their ideological
commitments. We must insist that, in their classrooms, they
teach fairly, fostering an open and robust exchange of ideas and
refusing to succumb to a proselytizing or otherwise biased
pedagogy. Only then will their ideas be subject to debate; only
then will they and their students learn to defend their
positions in the marketplace of ideas. Only then will other
views challenge, complicate, and even displace theirs. Only then
can we hope to create a truly diverse academy.
Far from calling for censorship or the
banning of classes, ACTA urges transparency about what professors
teach; far from trying to silence politically engaged professors,
ACTA defends academic freedom while at the same time noting that 1)
academic freedom does not mean freedom from criticism or freedom
from accountability; and 2) students have academic freedom too. Also
worth noting: When the Ward Churchill scandal broke in 2005,
ACTA defended Churchill
from those who sought to fire him for his speech.
Wilson mistrusts definitions of research
misconduct that include egregiously misleading citations — and no
wonder. His own argument about ACTA depends on the willful
manipulation of sources.
Neither Burke nor Wilson reads ACTA’s
report objectively, choosing instead to see it as proof of that worn
professorial complaint, that no one outside the ivory tower
understands academics. But what neither grasps is that it is not the
public’s job to intuit the special worth of professors. Insofar as
Burke and Wilson represent an academic consensus that outsiders are
not qualified to judge — or scrutinize, or question — higher
education, they signal the depth of the complacent insularity ACTA’s
report takes to task.
If ACTA’s report has a take-home message
for academics, it is that they urgently need to justify to a
skeptical public why their work deserves special protections. Only
then, ironically, will they have a chance of preserving the
independence they cherish. With transparency comes respect; with
accountability comes autonomy. That’s the paradoxical point of “How
Many Ward Churchills?” — that the more open one is about one’s
practices, the more willing one is to allow one’s work to be
scrutinized, the more responsive one is to legitimate criticisms,
the more likely one is to be allowed to carry on without undue
interference. What a pity that Burke and Wilson could not take off
their ideological blinders long enough to see that.
Anne D. Neal is president of the American Council of
Trustees and Alumni.
A couple of months ago I asked for any experiences
with systems that collect faculty activity and productivity data for
multiple reporting needs (AACSB, local performance evaluation, etc.). I said
I'd get back to the list with a summary of private responses.
No one reported any significant direct experience,
but many AECMers provided names and e-mail addresses of [primarily]
associate deans who had researched products from Sedona and Digital
Measures. Since my associate dean was leading the charge, I just passed
those addresses on to her.
We ended up selecting Digital Measures mainly
because of our local faculty input, the gist of which was that it had a more
professional "feel." My recollection is that the risk of data loss with
either system is acceptable and that the university "owns" the data. I
understand that a grad student is entering our data from the past five years
to get us started.
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM, USA
Over 100 universities use Digital Measures'
customized solutions to connect administrators, faculty, staff, students,
and alumni. Take a look at a few of the schools and learn more about Digital
And here we reach the heart of the matter. We
academics are deeply invested in our own significance. We were the smartest
ones in the class. We believe the life of the mind is sacred and we are
living it. Our ideas are our selves. When we come up against biased tenure
committees or uncongenial locations or grinding teaching loads, we convince
ourselves that this is the price we must pay for the greatness we are meant
to achieve, and we suck it up, complaining all the way.
I do know happy academics of my generation. Some
are wildly successful, living out the myth. Others have found niches in
which they can happily do work that satisfies them, giving up the myth. But
too many of us hang onto the myth and let go of satisfaction.
When people say I’m a brave role model, I have to
laugh. I don’t feel very brave. Mainly I feel shell-shocked. Giving up the
security of tenure and remaking one’s life at 41 is hard, so hard that
sometimes I ask myself why I’m doing it. Is it an act of hubris, based on
the continuing belief that I am great and only need to find the arena in
which my greatness will be appreciated, or is it an act of submission,
acquiescing to my own ordinariness? I don’t know the answer to that
question, but I do know that no longer an academic, I’m a lot happier.
Continued in article
The entire 2006 current ethics flap about climbers not rendering aid to a
supposedly dying climber on Mt. Everest was preceded by a great 1983 real world
case called the Parable of the Sadhu from the Harvard Business School ---
The Parable of the Sadhu was and still is widely used in ethics
courses, especially regarding issues of situational ethics and group versus
individual ethics. The author Bowen H. McCoy was the managing director of the
investment banking firm Morgan Stanley & Co. After returning to New York, McCoy
was conscious stricken about leaving a dying religious man during an Everest climb. The
climbers at that time shed some clothes to keep the dying man warm. But climbers
from various nations (U.S., Switzerland, and Japan) actually moved on and did not help the man down to shelter
because they all felt that he was going to die in any case. Also, the weather
was such that the climbers could not complete their climbing goal if they delayed to
carry the dying man to shelter.
McCoy wrote the following after returning to New York:
We do not know if the sadhu lived or died. For many
of the following days and evenings Stephen and I discussed and debated our
behavior toward the sadhu. Stephen is a committed Quaker with deep moral
vision. He said, "I feel that what happened with the Sadhu is a good example
of the breakdown between the individual ethic and the corporate ethic. No
one person was willing to assume ultimate responsibility for the sadhu. Each
was willing to do his bit just so long as it was not too inconvenient. When
it got to be a bother everyone just passed the buck to someone else and took
off . . . "
. . .
Despite my arguments, I feel and continue to feel
guilt about the sadhu. I had literally walked through a classic moral
dilemma without fully thinking through the consequences. My excuses for my
actions include a high adrenaline flow, super-ordinate goal, and a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity --- factors in the usual corporate situation,
especially when one is under stress.
Real moral dilemmas are ambiguous and many of us
hike right through them, unaware that they exist. When, usually after the
fact, someone makes an issue of them, we tend to resent his or her bringing
it up. Often, when the full import of what we have done (or not done) falls
on us, we dig into a defensive position from which it is very difficult to
emerge. In rare circumstances we may contemplate what we have done from
inside a prison.
Had we mountaineers have been free of physical and
mental stress caused by the effort and the high altitude, we might have
treated the sadhu differently. Yet isn't stress the real test of personal
and corporate values? The instant decisions executives make under pressure
reveal the most about personal and corporate character.
Among the many questions that occur to me when
pondering my experience are: What are the practical limits of moral
imagination and vision? Is there a collective or institutional ethic beyond
the ethics of the individual? At what level of effor or commitment can one
discharge one's ethical responsibilities?
Continued in this 1983 Harvard Business School Case.
I might add that this 1983 case was written before the breakdown in ethics
during the 1990s high tech bubble in which investment banking, executive
compensation, corporate governance, and corporate ethics in general sometimes
become rotten to the core ---
Compassion and caring wins out every time in my
view over selfishness.
Flashback from The Wall Street Journal, May 30,
1997 When "MWD" opens Monday on the Big Board, investors
will get their first chance to buy shares of the newly combined Wall Street firm
of Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co. The new firm's stock symbol will
represent each of the brands of the combined firm.
Jim Mahar's Picks for Finance Book Summer Reading
(I prefer the last three listings)
I was asked for a "summer reading list" for
finance classes so here you go: ten (non technical) finance/economics
books I would recommend.
The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. It has
been talked about everywhere (even the SBU graduation speaker mentioned
it by name) but it is definitely worth the read! Probably my favorite of
the bunch. Read what I wrote about it
The Wisdom of Crowds by Jame Surowiecki.
Great. Tells you more about market efficiency (and the lack thereof)
than several classes could.
Against the Gods--Peter Bernstein. I remember
my first reaction to this book was--Wow! It makes risk management not
only interesting but fun!
The End of Poverty by Jeff Sachs. It is about
ending extreme poverty. I really liked it! An important read that covers
strategies to fight poverty from China to India to Africa. Also has an
interesting economic history of the world. Introduction is by Bono.
Barbarians at the Gate--Yeah, it's outdated.
Yeah, it reads like a novel. Yeah, I like it and still use some of the
Freakonomics--by Steven Levitt and Stepham
Dubner. It is an interesting and fast read. Levitt is always a
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
I hate to admit it but I think about this book during almost every
sporting event I watch. It may not be the best written book on the list
(and I have to agree with the Amazon review, he does come across as
arrogant) but it is still definitely a VERY worthwhile read.
Worry Free Investing by Zvi Bodie. Basic idea:
invest in bonds and options. Might be a tad text-bookish, but such a
great idea. I hope more people do it!
Well there you have it. Ten Finance books to read
this summer ;) No doubt I have forgotten many others as well, but here
are a few to whet your appetite.
checks written in Greek on papyri appeared in ancient Egypt as far
back as 250 B.C. Papyri preserved well in Egypt thanks to its arid
climate, but Goetzmann thinks it's safe to say such checks changed
hands throughout the Mediterranean world . . . So the whole
tradition of bank checks predates the current era and has its roots
at least in Hellenistic Greek times," he says.
Bob Jensen's threads on ancient history of accounting ---
Birthright: The easiest way to make your whole family U.S. citizens In 1970, six percent of all births in the United States
were to illegal aliens. In 2002, that figure was
23 percent. In 1994, 36
percent of the births paid for by Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid, were to
illegals. That figure has doubtless increased in the intervening 12 years as the
rate of illegal immigration has risen. Any child born in the United States
automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. He or she is instantly eligible for
panoply of social services, food stamps and other forms of aid. When the child
reaches the age of 21, he can petition to have his parents and siblings declared
Mona Charin, ""Anchors" away," Townhall, May 19, 2006 ---
"SOME COMPANIES ARE SMARTER," by Jay Hammond, AccountingWeb
Newsletter, May 18, 2006
Some companies, like some people, are smarter than
others. Really. Don't believe me? A business professor at Washington
University in St. Louis, Missouri, has developed a method for measuring an
organization's IQ based on the effectiveness at innovation.
"In essence, firms fall into one of two camps,"
says Anne Marie Knott, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and
management at the Olin School of Business. "Smart firms" or "high IQ firms"
produce more bang for their R&D buck and therefore spend money to do their
own research and development. Less smart firms rely on other firms rather
than spending their own money on R&D.
"Interestingly, firms that aren't smart with their
own R&D seem to be better able to use the innovations of rivals," Knott
says. "This result stands in contrast to a very popular theory in the
management literature known as absorptive capacity. That theory holds that a
firm's ability to absorb what other firms are doing is a function of how
much R&D the acquiring firms actually does itself. The notion is that you
can't understand cutting edge research unless you actually do some yourself.
"But in practice, that's not what appears to be
happening," Knott continues. "Instead, high IQ firms, those that are most
productive with their own R&D spending, actually have a lower ability to
absorb the work of others. In other words, while they are 'high IQ' with
respect to innovating, they are 'low IQ' with respect to imitating.
Conversely, firms that are 'low IQ' with respect to innovating tend to be
'high IQ' in respect to imitating."
The practical application of this finding is that
we now know why firms choose particular strategies, either innovative or
imitative. This knowledge can in turn help firms and investors make wiser
decisions regarding R&D investment.
Harvard announces plan to create engineering school as
Stanford and others join push toward interdisciplinary work. In a significant sign of the growth of
interdisciplinary engineering approaches — and of the profile of the discipline
of engineering itself — Harvard University is no longer content to allow that
other Cambridge institution be the only one with engineering in lights. Harvard
this week announced plans for the creation of the School of Engineering and
Applied Sciences. Harvard expects to approve the new school by the end of fall.
Harvard will add 30 faculty members to the 70 already in the Division of
Engineering and Applied Sciences. Perhaps most importantly, as Lawrence H.
Summers, president of Harvard said in a statement: “It marks our recognition of
the profound importance of technology and applied sciences for every aspect of
David Epstein, "The Technology Mosaic," Inside Higher Ed, May 25, 2006
That sound you just heard might have been the first
piece of the sky hitting the roof.
A federal judge in California on Tuesday
cleared the way for three former adjunct
professors at Chapman University to sue the institution under the
False Claims Act, which permits lawsuits by an
individual who believes he or she has identified fraud committed against the
federal government, and who sues hoping to be joined by the U.S. Justice
Department. (The plaintiff then shares in any financial penalties, which can
include trebled damages.) In siding with those who sued Chapman, Judge James
V. Selna not only cited the Seventh Circuit’s decision in United States
of America ex. rel. Jeffrey E. Main v. Oakland City University as a key
precedent, but expanded on it in significant ways. Most notably, the judge
concludes that a college can run afoul of the False Claims Act by violating
a requirement imposed not directly by the federal government but by an
accrediting group — a position the Justice Department endorsed.
“This is exactly what we were worried about with
the Main case, and in fact it broadens it and takes it a step
further,” said Mark L. Pelesh, executive vice president at Corinthian
Colleges and a longtime higher education lawyer. “Now making false claims to
an accreditor somehow translates, through this conflationary approach, into
making false claims for money to the federal government.”
This is complicated legal terrain, so let’s back
last October’s decision
by the Seventh Circuit was perceived as breaking new ground because it
concluded that a college or other recipient of federal funds could be held
accountable under the False Claims Act for breaking a promise or commitment
it makes to the government at one point in time or at one stage of a federal
application process, even if it does not make a similar promise at the point
at which it formally requests or receives the funds. Specifically, the court
ruled that a former admissions director could sue Oakland City for allegedly
paying recruiters based on enrollment because the initial, “phase one”
application that it and other colleges make to the Education Department for
certification to eventually award federal financial aid funds bars it from
doing that, even though no money passes hands at that point.
. . .
But lawyers who tend to sue colleges in cases like
this say that the lawyers’ “sky is falling rhetoric” overstates the threat
to the institutions. Daniel Bartley, who represents the three instructors in
the Chapman case as well as those in the pending Phoenix case, says college
lawyers are wrong to say that the new line of False Claims cases allow
colleges to be sued if they have violated any of the hundreds of regulations
that the government — or, under the Chapman ruling, an accreditor — imposes
on them. “This applies only where there is a material breach of a condition
of payment, and it’s flagrant,” Bartley said. “The only colleges that face
trouble are those that are not obeying the law and the material
accreditation standards that underlie their getting loans and grants.”
Exactly what laws, regulations and standards are
considered “material,” of course, will be one of the many issues that could
keep the courts (and colleges’ lawyers) busy for months and years to come,
if this line of False Claims Act cases continues to gather steam.
In his new book, The Great Deluge, Douglas
Brinkley describes a New Orleans ripe for disaster as Hurricane Katrina
approached. The city was crippled by poverty, corruption and the lack of a
workable disaster plan.
"'The Great Deluge': A Katrina Post-Mortem: Listen to this story...,"
by Farai Chideya, NPR, May 22, 2006 ---
Web Extra: Hear an Extended Version of Farai Chideya's
Conversation with Douglas Brinkley
Chinese-language version of Wikipedia China's biggest Internet search site, Baidu.com, has
launched a Chinese-language encyclopedia inspired by the cooperative reference
site Wikipedia, which the communist government bars China's Web surfers from
seeing. The Chinese service, which debuted in April, carries entries written by
users, but warns that it will delete content about sex, terrorism and attacks on
the communist government. Government censors blocked access last year to
Wikipedia, whose registered users have posted more than 1.1 million entries,
apparently due to concern about its references to Tibet, Taiwan and other
topics. The emergence of Baidu's encyclopedia reflects efforts by Chinese
entrepreneurs to take advantage of conditions created by the government's
efforts to simultaneously promote and control Internet use.
"Baidu, the most popular search engine in China, has launched a Chinese-language
version of Wikipedia," MIT's Technology Review, May 18, 2006 ---
Euston.... We Have a Problem Tomorrow night at a church in London, there will be a
gathering of several hundred people to celebrate the launch of “The Euston
Manifesto” — a short document in which one sector of the British and American
left declares itself to be in favor of pluralist and secular democracy, and
against blowing people up for the glory of Allah . . . As I was musing over all
of this, a friend pointed out a conspicuous absence from the list of signatories
to the manifesto: Todd Gitlin, a professor of sociology and journalism at
Columbia University. His book
The Intellectuals and the Flag, published
earlier this year by Columbia University Press, defends the idea of left-wing
American patriotism with a frank interest “in the necessary task of defeating
the jihadist enemy.” This would seem to put him in the Eustonian camp, yet he
did not endorse the manifesto. Why not? I contacted him by e-mail to ask. “I
recognize a shoddy piece of intellectual patchwork when I see one,” Gitlin
Scott McLemee, "Euston.... We Have a Problem," Inside Higher Ed, May 24,
Florida State Funds May Not Reimburse travel expenses to terrorist and
communist states, including
include Cuba, Syria, Iran, North Korea and the Sudan (nothing is said about
China) State Rep. David Rivera, a Republican who hails from a
district composed largely of Cuban Americans, has spent the past several months
garnering legislative support for
a billthat he believed would do all those things.
He not only ushered the bill through passage in the House, but he also persuaded
Sen. Mike Haridopolos, also a Republican, to take similar actions in the Senate.
Ultimately, the bill passed both chambers and made its way to Governor Jeb
Bush’s desk on Tuesday. The governor — against the advice of academic groups —
has said that he has every intention of signing the legislation. The new
legislation would, in part, prohibit “the use of state or nonstate funds made
available to state universities to implement, organize, direct, coordinate, or
administer activities related to or involving travel to a terrorist state.”
Countries deemed terrorist states by the U.S. include Cuba, Syria, Iran, North
Korea and the Sudan. The law will go into effect on July 1.Rivera said Tuesday
that many Cuban Americans he’s spoken with are pleased, especially after
recently seeing a professor and a counselor affiliated with Florida
International University indicted on charges of
spying for the Cuban government.
Rob Capriccioso, "Florida Isolationism," Inside Higher Ed, May 25, 2006
By creating maps of the body’s complex molecular interactions, Trey Ideker
is providing new ways to find drugs.
James Baker designs nanoparticles to guide drugs directly into cancer cells,
which could lead to far safer treatments.
Alexander Olek has developed tests to detect cancer early by measuring its
subtle DNA changes.
To avoid future wireless traffic jams, Heather “Haitao” Zheng is finding
ways to exploit unused radio spectrum.
Hoping to resolve the embryonic-stem-cell debate, Markus Grompe envisions a
more ethical way to derive the cells.
Kelvin Lim is using a new brain-imaging method to understand schizophrenia.
Leading the development of a privacy-protecting online ID system, Scott
Cantor is hoping for a safer Internet.
Measuring the tiny forces acting on cells, Subra Suresh believes, could
produce fresh understanding of diseases.
WebPhoto: Microsoft introduces a new picture file compression
According to BetaNews, a Microsoft spokesperson
claims that WMPhoto will offer the same or better image quality as JPEG at half
the file size. That's twice the compression (12:1 versus the standard 6:1 of
JPEG) with the same or better quality.
Monkey Bites, May 26, 2006 ---
"Vaccine to Cut Risk of Shingles in Older People Is
Approved," by Garniner Harris, The New York Times, May 27, 2006 ---
The vaccine, called Zostavax, is roughly equivalent to 14
doses of the pediatric chickenpox vaccine.
"US scientists back autism link to MMR," by Beezy Marsh and Sally Beck,
London Telegraph, May 28, 2006 ---
Lesbian teens five times more likely to attempt suicide Lesbian teens are nearly five times more likely to
attempt suicide than heterosexual girls, according to a survey presented at a
national conference of public health experts in Vancouver Monday. The survey
found 38 per cent of lesbian girls and 30.4 per cent of bisexual girls said they
had attempted suicide in the previous year, compared with 8.2 per cent of
heterosexual girls. The results were from a 2003 survey of 30,000 students
between grades 7 and 12 done by the B.C.-based McCreary Centre Society, which
asked students if they had attempted suicide in the previous year.
Glenn Bohn, "Survey bares lesbian teens-suicide link: Numbers suggest
lesbian teens five times more likely to attempt killing themselves,"
Canada.com, May 30, 2006 ---
In 1822, Thomas De Quincey published a short book,
"The Confessions of an English Opium Eater." The nature of addiction to
opiates has been misunderstood ever since.
De Quincey took opiates in the form of laudanum,
which was tincture of opium in alcohol. He claimed that special
philosophical insights and emotional states were available to opium-eaters,
as they were then called, that were not available to abstainers; but he also
claimed that the effort to stop taking opium involved a titanic struggle of
almost superhuman misery. Thus, those who wanted to know the heights had
also to plumb the depths.
This romantic nonsense has been accepted wholesale
by doctors and litterateurs for nearly two centuries. It has given rise to
an orthodoxy about opiate addiction, including heroin addiction, that the
general public likewise takes for granted: To wit, a person takes a little
of a drug, and is hooked; the drug renders him incapable of work, but since
withdrawal from the drug is such a terrible experience, and since the drug
is expensive, the addict is virtually forced into criminal activity to fund
his habit. He cannot abandon the habit except under medical supervision,
often by means of a substitute drug.
In each and every particular, this picture is not
only mistaken, but obviously mistaken. It actually takes some considerable
effort to addict oneself to opiates: The average heroin addict has been
taking it for a year before he develops an addiction. Like many people who
are able to take opiates intermittently, De Quincey took opium every week
for several years before becoming habituated to it. William Burroughs, who
lied about many things, admitted truthfully that you may take heroin many
times, and for quite a long period, before becoming addicted.
Heroin doesn't hook people; rather, people hook
heroin. It is quite untrue that withdrawal from heroin or other opiates is a
serious business, so serious that it would justify or at least mitigate the
commission of crimes such as mugging. Withdrawal effects from opiates are
trivial, medically speaking (unlike those from alcohol, barbiturates or
even, on occasion, benzodiazepines such as valium), and experiment
demonstrates that they are largely, though not entirely, psychological in
origin. Lurid descriptions in books and depictions in films exaggerate them
à la De Quincey (and also Coleridge, who was a chronic self-dramatizer).
“The future of our profession is built on the
quality and the number of the young people who join us,” Leslie Murphy,
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Chair explained
while presenting the Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award
to Karen V. Pincus, Chair of the Department of Accounting at the University
of Arkansas. “That, in turn, depends on whether quality people decide to
study accounting and how well they are trained in their collegiate and
post-collegiate education. The Institute annually selects a member of the
academic community who best serves these truths to receive the award.”
Pincus has received numerous recognitions for
teaching excellence, curriculum development and service to the accounting
academic and practicing professions. Most notably, she received the American
Accounting Association Innovation in Accounting Education Award for
designing and implementing a totally new curriculum approach to accounting
education. In Arkansas, she is also the S. Robson Walton Professor of
Accounting, as well as President of Beta Alpha Psi, the student professional
Pincus is currently a member of the AICPA’s
Nominations Committee. From 2002 to 2005 she was an elected member-at-large
of the AICPA governing committee. She is also past Chair of the
Pre-Certification Education Executive Committee and a past member of the
virtual Grassroots Panel and Accounting Careers Subcommittee.
She has also served as President of the Federation
of Schools of Accountancy, the association of accredited graduate accounting
programs, and Vice President of the American Accounting Association, in
addition to serving on many committees for both organizations. She is the
author of numerous professional articles and research papers.
Karen was instrumental in developing the Walton School core curriculum that has
no traditional core courses such as traditional principle of accounting courses
Fast Food Not Only Hooks People; It Hooks Their Incomes They found that for the initial 67-cent average
cost of upsizing a fast-food meal — and the subsequent 36-gram weight gain — the
total cost for increased energy needs, gasoline and medical care would be
between $4.06 and $7.72 for men and $3.10 and $4.53 for women, depending on
their body type. The bottom line: Although upsizing a meal brings you 73 percent
more calories for only an additional 17 percent in price, the hidden financial
costs drive the price of that meal up between 191 and 123 percent.
"Super-sizing your food takes hidden toll on pocketbook," PhysOrg, May
24, 2006 ---
At last many credit card users are listening to us The credit-card industry has a problem: Although
Americans are deeper in debt than ever, they are paying off bigger portions of
their monthly credit-card bills. For card issuers, which profit by collecting
interest on unpaid balances, that's bad news. In the past, when interest rates
crept up, as they are doing now, fewer cardholders could afford to pay down
balances. "Normally at this point in the economic cycle, you start to see
payment rates decline. But that's not happening," says Richard Srednicki, who
runs the credit-card business at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the nation's
second-largest card issuer. "It is a tougher business if payment rates continue
to stay up and consumers continue to pay off more. It's something we've got to
understand and work at."
Robin Sidel, "As Users Juggle Their Debts, Revenues to Banks Fall; The
Home-Equity Effect Ms. Bode Seeks a Fresh Start," The Wall Street Journal,
May 25, 2006; Page A1---
For years, credit card issuers have tried to lure
consumers into using their card by offering frequent flier miles. The recent
dramatic rise in gas prices, however, has led some of these companies to
promote gas rewards and rebates instead. The question is, how does anyone
decide which card, including rewards, is best for them?
Credit cards offering gas rebates should not be
confused with the gas credit cards issued by the gas companies and that can
be used only to purchase gas at their stations. Cards offering gas rebates
are regular credit cards from MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express
or whomever, that offer rebates and rewards for the purchases made on the
card each month.
“Gas, like other rewards, can just be a gimmick to
get you to sign up for the card,” Scott Bilker, founder of Debtsmart.com,
told SmartMoney. The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.) reports that some cards
offer initial “teaser” rates as high as 10 percent to attract new customers,
however most rebates range from 3 to 5 percent once the “honeymoon” is over.
It’s not just the rates that vary, either. Gas
rebates come in two types, those that are tied to specific stations, like
Mobil, Chevron, etc. and those that can be earned by purchasing gas at any
station. When it comes to reducing the amount spent each month on fuel, the
non-station specific card is probably the wiser choice, as it allows the
buyer to shop around and purchase gas at the lowest available price. Paying
the full amount off every month will also help reduce the overall amount
spent on gas because the refund won’t be eaten up in interest.
“Make the credit card companies pay you,” Curtis
Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com, told the News Journal. “If you use these
cards in a savvy manner, they can be a great way to get a break on gas
CNNMoney.com goes even further, stating that gas
rebates are a good value only if the credit score of the cardholder is 720
or higher and the gas tank needs filling at least twice a month. Even if you
fall into this category, there are a few things to know about gas rewards
cards before rushing out and signing up. Besides knowing whether a card is
tied to a specific station, consumers will want to find out:
The interest rate and annual fee. Even those
individuals who pay off their credit cards every month can get hit by
annual fees, and if something happens one month and a balance is carried
forward, the card holder can get a very nasty surprise, as high as 23
percent, if they aren’t careful which card they apply for.
Is there a limit on the rebate? Most cards,
according to CNNMoney, limit how much a cardholder can get back to
between $300 and $600.
Other limits. Are rebates given only on
purchases made at the pump? What about purchases made at stations
associated with warehouses and big box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club,
are rebates earned on those? Will the rebate be automatically deposited
in the cardholder’s account or is some additional action necessary and,
if so, what? Are rebates calculated only on fuel purchases or purchase
made at gas stations or are they calculated on all purchases?
Are all gas purchases eligible for the full
rebate or just those made at standalone stations? This one is
particularly important since the number of standalone stations has been
steadily decreasing in recent years.
“Typically, to get the full rebate, which is
generally 5 percent, you have to go to a standalone stations,” Arnold
explained to Kiplingers, further describing a standalone station as “a place
whose primary function is selling gas.”
Consumers can gather information to help them make
a wise decision about which, if any, gas reward card they should apply for.
Several sites compare credit card details including:
If the cardholder carries a balance on their card,
it is unlikely they will see significant savings from rebates on a credit
card. Most debt advisors agree such consumers are better off choosing a
credit card with the lowest possible rate and working to pay down the debt
owed as swiftly as possible. However, it doesn’t make sense to acquire more
debt in an effort to save a few dollars at the pump. Using a credit card or
gas station card can help consumers track purchases for tax purposes.
“The big question behind any reward is what’s the
cost?” Howard Dvorkin, founder of Consolidated Credit Services Inc. and
author of Credit Hell: How to Dig Out of Debt, told Florida’s
Sun-Sentinel. “Everything has a limitation. Understand what you are getting
into and don’t take it by face value.”
The Internal Revenue Service has canceled the
tax-exempt status for some of the nation's largest educational credit
counseling services after audits revealed they exist mainly to prey on
debt-ridden customers, Commissioner Mark Everson said Monday.
"These organizations have not been operating for
the public good and don't deserve tax-exempt status," Everson said. "They
have poisoned an entire sector of the charitable community."
A two-year investigation of 41 credit counseling
agencies resulted in the revocation, proposed revocation or other
termination of their tax-exempt status, he announced.
Everson said that many of those groups,
representing more than 40 percent of the revenue in a $1 billion industry,
offered little, if any, counseling or education as required of groups with
Other such agencies will be required to report on
their activities. The IRS is sending compliance inquiries to each of the
other 740 known tax-exempt credit counseling agencies not already under
"Depending on the responses received, additional
audits may be undertaken," the agency said.
Everson said groups looking to make a profit would
secure tax exempt status and make cold phone calls to people in desperate
financial straights. They would use scare tactics to sell the people
"cookie-cutter" debt management plans that often were not geared toward
reducing the consumers' debt and often were too costly to pay.
Administrative fees, he said were sometimes collected by third parties
handling the paperwork for a profit.
Everson recommended that consumers pick one of the
150 consumer counseling organizations approved by groups like the Better
Business Bureau. But bad actors may exist even among those, because
guidelines for approval differs between agencies, he said.
Everson added that the agency is following up the
revocations with some criminal investigations, but would not detail them.
The IRS also is issuing new guidance on how to
comply with federal law to legitimate organizations which educate people on
how to maintain good credit.
The agency in recent years has tightened up its
review of new applications by credit counseling firms for tax-exempt status.
Since 2003, the IRS has reviewed 100 such applications and approved only
The actions come consumers and the counseling
industry are having to learn to live under a new and more restrictive
federal bankruptcy law.
Congress last year gave the financial counseling
sector a new role in the nation's bankruptcy system by making it harder for
people to wipe out debt and requiring consumers to consult with an approved
credit counselor before they seek the protection of a bankruptcy court.
The nation's petroleum producers, badly shaken by
sliding prices and disappointing demand, are taking drastic measures to pull
out of a deepening industry slump. They're cutting payrolls and turning
increasingly to automation to pare costs.
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Male murderers with stereotypically "black-looking"
features are more than twice as likely to get the death sentence than
lighter-skinned African American defendants found guilty of killing a white
person, Stanford researchers have found. The relationship between physical
appearance and the death sentence disappears, however, when both murderers
and their victims are black.
"Race clearly matters in criminal justice in ways
in which people may or may not be consciously aware," said Jennifer
Eberhardt, associate professor of psychology. "When black defendants are
accused of killing whites, perhaps jurors use the degree to which these
defendants appear stereotypically black as a proxy for criminality, and then
Eberhardt's findings are published in the May issue
of the journal Psychological Science. "Looking Deathworthy: Perceived
Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes"
is co-authored with Paul G. Davies, a former Stanford postdoctoral scholar
who is now an assistant professor at the University of California-Los
Angeles; former Stanford graduate student Valerie J. Purdie-Vaughns, now an
assistant professor at Yale University; and Cornell University law Professor
Sheri Lynn Johnson, an expert on the death penalty.
Continued in article
Forwarded on May 22, 2006 by Carl Hubbard
Accounting in the Peninsular War
MESSAGE FROM THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON TO THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE
IN LONDON -- written from Central Spain, August 1812
Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the
approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been
diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M.
ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our
We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles,
and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government
holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character,
wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has
been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg
Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains
unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has
been a hideous confusion as the the number of jars of raspberry jam
issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain.
This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of
circumstance, since we are war with France, a fact which may come as
a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.
This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request
elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government so that
I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren
plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative
duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of
my ability, but I cannot do both:
1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the
benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or perchance.
2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of
Your most obedient servant
What types of diversity just is not accepted by many liberal college faculty?
Douglas J. Feith's table at the Georgetown
University faculty club is shaping up as a lonely one.
The move to a teaching position at the School of
Foreign Service at Georgetown by Mr. Feith, a former Pentagon official, set
off a faculty kerfuffle, with 72 professors, administrators and graduate
students signing a letter of protest, some going as far as to accuse him of
Some critics complain about the process. (He was
hired without a faculty vote.)
Some complain about the war in Iraq. (Mr. Feith has
been accused of promoting it with skewed intelligence.)
All say the open protest is unusual at a place that
embraces former officials as part of its panache. A former secretary of
state, Madeleine K. Albright; a former national security adviser, Anthony
Lake; and a former director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, have
joined the faculty without event.
But Mr. Feith, a former under secretary of defense
for policy planning and analysis, is another story.
"I'm not going to shake hands with the guy if he's
introduced to me," said Mark N. Lance, a philosophy professor who teaches
nonviolence in the program on Justice and Peace and who organized the
protest. "And if he asks why, I'll say because in my view you're a war
criminal and you have no place on this campus."
The dispute can be read as — take your pick — an
explosion of fury at a disastrous war, an illustration of the pettiness of
academic politics or evidence of Mr. Feith's talent for attracting
Gen. Tommy R. Franks of the Army, the top commander
of the Iraq invasion, once referred to him as "the stupidest guy on the face
of the earth."
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Feith said he
welcomed debate "in a proper, civil and rigorous way." But he called the
accusations that he had politicized intelligence, advocated torture and
attacked the Geneva Conventions as "false," "flatly false" and "outrageous."
A graduate of Harvard and the Georgetown Law
School, Mr. Feith served in the Reagan administration and joined other
neoconservatives in 1998 in calling on President Bill Clinton to overthrow
President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Joining the Bush administration in 2001, he set up
two Defense Department units that have drawn scrutiny. One was the Office of
Special Plans, which took the lead in the Pentagon's preparation for a
postwar Iraq, planning that has been widely faulted.
Continued in article
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 ---
Imagine Russia in 2050! According to Paul Goble, a
specialist on ethnic minorities in the Russian Federation has predicted that
within the next several decades, Russia will become a Muslim majority state.
There is another bad news with fast decline in country’s population. This
has already become a headache for Russian politicians and policy makers.
President Vladimir Putin has called already for Russian women to have more
children, because demographers predict that Russia’s population will fall
from 143 million to 100 million by 2050. This situation has alarmed Russians
as well Western leaders, more so because analysts estimate that Muslims will
comprise the majority group in Russia’s population in few decades.
The Muslim population growth rate since 1989 is
between 40 and 50 percent, depending on ethnic groups. Today Russia has
about 8,000 mosques while 15 years there were only 300 mosques. According to
statistics, by the end of 2015, number of mosques in Russia will cross
25,000. These statistics are frightening for many ethnic Russians who
associate Islam with the Kremlin’s war against insurgents in Chechnya.
Russia is shrinking. Alarmed by the situation, Putin has offered incentives
to women who will have more children.
He said that the government would offer 1,500
roubles for the first child, and 3,000 roubles for the second child. He
further said that the government will offer financial incentives to those
couples who will adopt Russian orphans. But, response to Vladimir Putin’s
call is almost zero. Main reason behind fast decline in non-Muslim
population in Russia is, particularly larger section of young females in the
country is not in favor of having even any child. If someone has, that is
also limited within one only. On the other hand, almost all the Muslim
couples have at least three children. The number generally ranges between
Talking to Blitz, a leader of Moscow’s most
populated area said, if the growth of Muslim population continues in the
present trend, with the serious decline in population of other religious
communities, Russian might ultimately end up as a Muslim state in next two
decades. He suggested massive propaganda in favor of having more children in
country’s mass media as well increase in the amount of incentives. He also
pointed to the fact that, in most cases, such incentives might again go to
the Muslim mothers, who generally have more than one child. This is not the
question of incentives; it is a matter of realization for the entire
non-Muslim Russian population. They should understand that by limited number
of children, they are gradually pushing the fate of the country towards an
Commenting on the issue, a former diplomat said,
after the fall of Soviet Union, unfortunately, the entire Russian nation has
lost their nationalist spirit, because of poverty and other socio-political
adversities. Now they fear in having more than a single child in the family
as the cost of living has become extremely expensive, while in most cases,
female members of the families are rather forced to work in various fields
to bring extra money for their families.
Continued in article
"Cannes sex films question role of porn, Internet," Rueters,
May 24, 2006 ---
Directors at the Cannes film festival this year say
they are using radical images of sex to challenge mainstream pornography and
its widespread availability on the Internet.
A series of filmmakers say Internet porn alone now
shapes many young people's perception of sex and, in many cases, replaces
the experience of real physical relationships.
"There are kids who have seen pornography from a
very early age, before they are ever gonna have sex," said Larry Clark, one
of the directors of the eccentric "Destricted" -- a compilation of explicit
In his own short film, Clark interviews young men
about their sexual preferences and then allows one candidate to appear with
his favorite porn-star.
"When I was a kid noone told me nothing. Now you
can go onto the Internet and find out anything ... (Young people) are
looking at pornography and they are thinking that this is the way to have
sex," Clark said, noting his film was educational.
U.S. director John Cameron Mitchell, who has
brought "Shortbus" to Cannes, agrees that young people are increasingly
using the Internet to replace real sex.
In Shortbus, he has collected an ensemble of
non-professional actors who engage in real on-screen sex and masturbation in
an attempt to de-mystify the subject. He does not consider his film to be
He said that the United States had a puritanical
view of sex which turned it into an issue in young people's minds. In one
particularly provocative scene in his film, three gay men engage in a sex
session while singing "The Star-Spangled Banner".
'Antique' Phone Tax Dropped Treasury to Refund $13
Billion Collected on Long-Distance By Albert B. Crenshaw Washington Post
Staff Writer Friday, May 26, 2006; D02
The Treasury Department, conceding that it has no
right to continue collecting a 108-year-old tax on long-distance telephone
calls, announced yesterday that it will drop its legal battle for the tax
and instead refund some $13 billion to callers who have paid the tax in the
past three years.
The 3 percent tax, enacted in 1898 to help pay for
the Spanish-American War and revised in 1965, has been declared illegal by
five federal courts of appeal during the past year as the result of
challenges brought by companies forced to pay it.
Long-distance carriers have been required to bill
customers for the tax and remit it to the government.
Treasury Secretary John W. Snow yesterday called it
"an outdated, antiquated tax that has survived a century beyond its original
purpose, and by now should have been ancient history."
The tax, which was originally considered a luxury
tax because only wealthy people had telephones at the time, will go out of
existence on July 31.
With two sons, each attending public school for 13
years, added to my own 13 years as a public school student and a decade plus
as a public school teacher, I proudly announce that I am finally done! The
light at the end of the tunnel is so near that I need sunglasses. As my
younger son joins the rest of his graduating senior class next month,
tossing his cap high into the air, I may bring a cap of my own so I can toss
mine as well. "No more pencils. No more books. No more teachers' dirty
looks!" "School's out for summer! School's out forever!"
It has been a long sentence. I tried to serve it
diligently, holding up my end of the bargain at each intersection where
students, teachers, and parents collide. At times, I played the role of
student; at other times, I played the role of teacher; and on this final leg
of my journey, I have uncomfortably played the role of parent. Each role was
different and difficult, especially this last stretch since I have been
watching from the wings while having a very difficult time keeping my trap
shut. I am exhausted. I have so much to say and so many people to say it to,
but it does not matter anymore. I am ready to head off into the Pacific to
retire with my husband on a desert island where I never have to see another
school cafeteria, another auditorium, another classroom, or another front
office again. I no longer have to be politically correct in fear that
someone will take it out on my kid. True, we cannot actually head off into
the sunset until our younger son completes his studies at one of our state
universities. He still needs us here in order to qualify for in-state
tuition. However, that is just temporary. The island is out there, and the
sails on our sailboat are hoisted and ready for a good strong wind.
. . .
When I was a senior in high school, I could not
wait until I was finished. Senior year seemed endless, and I discovered many
creative ways to do my work and get good grades by making as few personal
appearances in the school building as possible. I was a rebel, but more
importantly, I was already mentally in college. I had shopped for college
clothes, had a new 8-track player that would be small enough for the dorm,
and my boyfriend-of-the-month was a college student. High school was boring.
High school guys were immature. In high school, they said they treated us
like adults, but they did not. All I wanted was the diploma so I could get
on with my life. I did not want to go to my own high school graduation
ceremony, but I made a deal with my parents that involved use of my mother's
car for the summer if I would wear a cap and gown and take part in what I
thought at the time was a silly, meaningless ceremony. At 18 years old, I
had an answer for everything, just like the two young men who have lived in
my house and have had their own share of answers. I do not remember any of
my high school graduation ceremony except I gave my dad a hard time over
taking pictures of me, and I was annoyed that I had to get out of my jeans
to wear something nice beneath my cap and gown that no one would ever see. I
did not go to my prom. I was not into that, and even if I were, I would have
been embarrassed asking my college boyfriend-of-the-month to go with me. I
do not remember if there were any parties after graduation. If there had
been, I did not go because I was already driving my mom's new Oldsmobile
Cutlass Supreme from New Jersey to my summer job in New Hampshire where I
was going to be a counselor at a sleep-away camp for a whopping $800. The
whopping $800 was for the entire summer, not per week.
I would like to have your thoughts on a part of the
site that you have visited (It is huge and free!) Use
rather than sending to everyone on the list.
I will collect your thoughts and report to the
listserv or add it to my recommended sites.
Moral of the Story: In Australia Short Criminals Get Lighter
There has to be moral hazard here: Is the Roo Mafia already training short
"Judge: Man is too short for prison," Yahoo News, May 25, 2006 ---
A judge said a 5-foot-1 man convicted of sexually
assaulting a child was too small to survive in prison, and gave him 10 years
of probation instead.
His crimes deserved a long sentence, District Judge
Kristine Cecava said, but she worried that Richard W. Thompson, 50, would be
especially imperiled by prison dangers.
"You are a sex offender, and you did it to a
child," she said.
But, she said, "That doesn't make you a hunter. You
do not fit in that category."
Thompson will be electronically monitored the first
four months of his probation, and he was told to never be alone with someone
under age 18 or date or live with a woman whose children were under 18.
Cecava also ordered Thompson to get rid of his pornography.
He faces 30 days of jail each year of his probation
unless he follows its conditions closely.
Continued in article
Moral of the Story: In Massachusetts it pays to live in luxury at
taxpayer expense and steal underwear
A brazen lingerie hustler who lived luxuriously for
years in an Andover gated community while bilking $117,500 in welfare from
taxpayers is still tooling around in a sleek $40,000 Mercedes SUV despite
pleading guilty this week to defrauding the government.
“It just ticks
me off because we work and we’re still struggling,” said Joyce Sheehan,
whose neighbor, Jennifer Stevanovich, 32, escaped jail time Tuesday after
admitting to swindling state and federal authorities out of $117,555.11 in
housing vouchers, health care, food stamps and cash aid.
state Department of Transitional Assistance, who gave Stevanovich $57,790 in
cash, food stamps and health care from January 2000 to January 2005, refused
yesterday to explain how the mother of three deceived them except to say its
investigators closed 6,400 welfare accounts and referred another 2,400
accounts to fraud investigators last year.
“I think the six perjury convictions speak volumes
about her MO,” DTA spokesman Dick Powers said.
Stevanovich has taken a hard fall, going from a
comfortable Andover apartment complex with a pool, tennis courts and
clubhouse to living with her mother in a Lawrence duplex where the white
paint is chipping, the gate is rusting and the screen door is busted.
Stevanovich, a hairdresser at Super Cuts in
Burlington, was nabbed for welfare fraud after Andover police snagged her
performing a panty raid on a Victoria’s Secret shop that cost the business
some $14,000 in slinky lingerie.
She secreted the scants from the shops by using a
sack lined with foil that foiled the metal detectors.
“It’s kind of weird that she’s on Section 8 and on welfare and driving a
Mercedes,” said Andover police Detective David Carriere, who brought down
Stevanovich in the undies scam with Detective Mike Lane. The silver 2005
Mercedes ML 350 parked in Stevanovich’s driveway yesterday was valued at
$39,350, state investigators said.
Investigators for State Auditor Joe DeNucci found
Stevanovich was paying just $113 monthy rent in 2004 while her bank account
ballooned to $76,468 that year from cash made selling the stolen lingerie
and goods pilfered from other swanks shops on eBay.
Continued in article
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on May 19, 2006
SUMMARY: Special effects are driving a lot of movies to become box office
hits. However, "in the area of special effects, technology can't deliver the
kind of efficiencies to Hollywood that it generally provides to other
industries...Amid the excitement, studios are beginning to realize that relying
on special effects is financially risky. Such big budget films tend to be
bonanzas or busts."
1.) The author notes that studios are beginning to realize that films utilizing
a lot of special effects might tend to be "bonanzas or busts." In terms of
costs, why is this the case? In your answer, refer to the high level of costs
associated with special effects work.
2.) Why do special effects teams tend to amass significant costs? In your
answer, define the terms "cost management" and "costs of quality" and explain
how these cost concepts, that are typically associated with product
manufacturing, can be applied to movie production.
3.) Define the term "fixed cost." How does this concept relate to the
financial riskiness of movies with significant special effects and resultant
high cost? Also include in your answer a discussion of the formula for breaking
even under cost-volume-profit analysis.
4.) Define the term "variable cost." Cite some examples of variable costs you
expect are incurred by studios such as Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and
5.) Now consider firms such as Industrial Light & Magic, "a company set up by
director George Lucas in 1975 to handle the special effects for his 'Star Wars'
movies." Based on the discussion in the article, describe what you think are
these firms' fixed and variable costs.
6.) What manager do you think is responsible for costs of quality and cost
control in producing movies? Suppose you are filling that role. What steps would
you undertake to ensure that your hoped-for blockbuster film will have the
greatest possible chance of financial success?
Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
She says, “He continued to [quiz international
students about their understanding of English] in other classes,
singling out the international students and making them look inferior to
the rest of the class.”
If the student had listened to the quality of
her international classmates’ answers to my questions, she would have
realized that they were academically superior to the vast majority of
their classmates. Indeed, their median grade was 4.0; they all spoke
English fluently; and, their essays had fewer grammatical errors than
most of their classmates. It seems implausible to me that any rational
observer would infer that they were inferior based on my questions about
their knowledge of a few English words.
But even Nora looked embarrassed when she
“confessed” that she didn’t know what gutters were. She had no reason to
be embarrassed, yet she was. Why?
Perhaps, it has to do with the power of gut
feelings, which allow people to quickly categorize experiences without
having to think too deeply about them. Following them can even save your
life in situations where you need to make quick decisions, implying that
gut feelings are probably hard-wired into us via evolution. Hence, gut
feelings probably can’t easily be turned off, implying that Nora could
have been embarrassed by the gutters episode regardless of whether it
was justified. And this is a shame — because good class interactions
should be full of professors and students going in any number of
directions, some of them uncomfortable, without worrying about
appearances or comfort levels (or whether some comment is going to make
you a poster child for the Academic Bill of Rights).
I was in a gray area with Nora, one that I did
not perceive as being gray until I thought about the comments of this
student. I feel badly that I might have embarrassed Nora — it was
certainly not my intention. Nevertheless, asking Nora whether she knew
the word for gutter in Bulgarian was the highlight of the course for me.
My intuition screamed at me to ask it and her answer rewarded the
impulse — not because I was happy to discover that she didn’t know the
word, but because it made me think more deeply about the way in which
languages compete with one another for survival. Indeed, many languages
face extinction because they are cluttered with words that people no
longer find useful. For example, some languages have dozens and dozens
of different words for ice, which may not be a selling point in the
coming age of global warming.
Nobel laureate Robert Solow argues that the
most difficult thing to teach students is how to be creative in
economics, followed closely by critical judgment. It is much easier to
teach tools, such as demand and supply, than how to use them creatively,
or critically. The first step in using economics creatively is to ask
interesting questions, ones that naturally arise during genuine
conversations sparked by observing differences like those concerning the
acquisition of language. While these conversations are crucial in
teaching students to be creative, they are also likely to tumble into
gray areas and sometimes produce dry holes, two things that make some
Another way to be creative in economics is to
apply economic reasoning to topics commonly thought to lie outside the
realm of economics. Hence, I want my students to learn that there are no
boundaries to the usefulness of economic reasoning. I mean NO
boundaries, absolutely none. Boundaries smother creativity because they
encourage students to turn off their economic reasoning skills whenever
they cross them.
Last semester, I described how a San Diego
abortion cartel in the late 1940s charged women different prices
depending on the quality of their clothing and the characteristics of
the person accompanying them, a practice that economists call price
discrimination. For example, a young woman who was brought to the clinic
by an unrelated, well-dressed Sacramento businessman was charged $2,600
for an abortion. If the woman had come alone, she would have paid
something closer to $200. Four students have come to my office or
e-mailed me with concerns over the use of examples like this one. For
example, one student argued that abortion is too morally charged to be
used as fodder for examples, especially ones that are so narrowly drawn.
Crossing the border into conversations about
race is especially dangerous, because the border is patrolled by guards
searching for insensitive comments. It takes courage and tolerance on
the part of both students and professors to have genuine conversations
about race. However, no topic is more important to discuss in economics
courses given the glaring disparities in economic outcomes between
African-Americans and whites. For another course I teach, students are
required to read an article about the controversy that erupted when
members of one middle-class community proposed naming a “nice street”
after Martin Luther King Jr. The proponents wanted to weaken the
correlation of his name with poverty and crime, while the opponents
feared that naming a street after him would cause their neighborhood to
decay. I admire the proposal yet empathize with the opponents. Since
streets bearing his name are more commonly found in poor neighborhoods,
(even unprejudiced) people might rationally “steer clear” of the area if
they name a street after Martin Luther King Jr., a phenomenon economists
call statistical discrimination.
Teaching students to use economics creatively
requires having conversations that are not smothered by fears of saying
something wrong or of stepping over some boundary beyond which economic
reasoning is prohibited. But genuine conversations require that students
have done enough of the reading to participate with intelligence — and
checking on that may also make students uncomfortable.
A student last fall accused me in his or her
course evaluation of picking on students, saying that “if it was obvious
a student was unprepared or had not done the assigned reading [Professor
Harrington] would call them out on it.” It’s true. I admit it. Failing
to read the assigned articles imposes spillover costs on other students
that can be corrected by imposing penalties on unprepared students. For
example, one student could not answer straightforward questions about
the readings in two consecutive classes, prompting me to ask him whether
he had ever heard of the expression, “three strikes and you’re out.” At
the beginning of the third class, he joined the conversation, easily
answering my initial questions and making a few comments of his own.
Smart blonde joke forwarded by Paula
A Blonde walks into a bank in New York City and ask for the loan officer. She
says she's going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000.
The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so
the blonde hands over the keys to a new Rolls Royce. The car is parked on the
street in front of the bank, she has the title and everything checks out. The
bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.
The bank's president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the blonde
for using a $250,000 Rolls as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of
the bank then proceeds to drive the Rolls into the bank's underground garage and
parks it there.
Two weeks later, the blonde returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest,
which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, "Miss, we are very happy to have
had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a
little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a
multimillionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?"
The blond replies, "Where else in New York City can I park my car for two
weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?"