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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR.htm

Tidbits on July 15, 2006
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

Bob Jensen's various threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

Click here to search this Website if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Links to Documents on Fraud --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm

Bob Jensen's Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob.htm

Bob Jensen's links to free electronic literature, including free online textbooks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Bob Jensen's links to free online video, music, and other audio --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Music.htm

Bob Jensen's documents on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory.htm 

Bob Jensen's links to free course materials from major universities --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Bob Jensen's links to online education and training alternatives around the world --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

Bob Jensen's links to electronic business, including computing and networking security, are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce.htm

Bob Jensen's links to education technology and controversies --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm

Bob Jensen's home page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan --- FactCheck.org --- http://www.factcheck.org/

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

From The New York Times
The Life of Kenneth Lay (slow loading video) --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/12/arts/design/12atta.html

From Enron:  Enron's Infamous Home Video of Rich Kinder's Retirement Party ---
The video shot at Rich Kinder's retirement party at Enron features CEO Jeff Skilling proposing Hypothetical Future Value (HPV) accounting with in retrospect is too true to be funny during the subsequent melt down of Enron.The people in this video are playing themselves and you can actually see CEO Jeff Skilling, Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey, and others proposing cooking the books.  You can download my rendering of a Windows Media Player version of the video from http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/windowsmedia/enron3.wmv 
You may have to turn the audio up full blast in Windows Media Player to hear the music and dialog.
Update:  Rich Kinder went on to become a billionaire. See Question 2 at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm

Invincible Cities --- http://invinciblecities.camden.rutgers.edu/intro.html

My Favored America --- http://objflicks.com/mybeautifulamerica.htm

The intellectual liberals' favored magazine The Nation presents a video entitled "Something to Believe In" ---  http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060703/three_protests_video

Political Humor --- http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-waltflash5,0,5531570.flash

Solid Rocket Booster Video --- http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/sts-121_front/index.html

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

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

From NPR
Cassandra Wilson Takes Flight on 'Thunderbird' (This is good folk music) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5525831

From The Washington Post on June 23, 2006
Arcade Mania --- Click Here

From NPR
Stories in Song: Regina Spektor's 'Begin to Hope' (in Russian) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5518985

From NPR
The Sound of Pure Britpop, Texas-Style --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5512862

Full Rock Concert from NPR
Gomez and The Bad Plus in Concert --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5496361

From NPR
Reveling in the Joy of Repetition --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5519219

Singing Penguins --- http://www.barneysaltzberg.com/flash/p_peng.htm

Photographs and Art

Shuttle Pictures --- http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html?skipIntro=1

From NPR
A Washington, D.C., exhibit and a new book focus on the truly early work of artists like Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Winslow Homer --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5529588

Graffiti' Glitters at the Brooklyn Museum --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5526190

From The New York Times
In Atta Kim’s Long-Exposure Photographs, Real Time Is the Most Surreal of All ---

Virtual Skies: Aeronautics Tutorial --- http://virtualskies.arc.nasa.gov/aeronautics/tutorial/intro.html 
Project Constellation --- http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/constellation_front/index.html

From Smithsonian American Art Museum
America's Art --- http://americanart.si.edu/americas_art

Maps In Our Lives (very clever exhibits) --- http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/maps/

Australian Museum Online --- http://www.amonline.net.au/

From NPR and the Smithsonian
Art Conservators at Work: A Living Exhibit --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5525121

From Wired News
Watching programmers write code can be about as fun as watching paint dry, but a few pioneers are creating dynamic, musical performances based on programming languages such as Perl. Here are photos of a few of these artists at work --- http://blog.wired.com/livecoding/


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

The Ambassadores by Henry James (1843-1916) --- Click Here

Essays of Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) --- Click Here

Ballads by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) --- Click Here

The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) --- Click Here

The Vital Message by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) --- Click Here

Persuasion by Jane Austen (1775-1817) --- Click Here

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) --- Click Here

From NPR
Matthew Pearl explores Poe's mysterious death in The Poe Shadow. Louis Bayard's The Pale Blue Eye focuses on Poe as a West Point cadet ---

From NPR
Summer Reading 2006 (recommended books that are neither free nor online) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/topics/topic.php?topicId=1005

From NPR (not free online)
Caution: These Books May Make You Skip Work (because they're so good) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5474426

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Mahatma Gandhi as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-07-12-06.htm 

He then ventured a guess as to why Sony and others sell so many different chargers and adapters: "I have a sneaking suspicion it's because the last three years, the most profitable business at Sony was the component division," which makes such accessories. When the crowd laughed, he said: "I'm serious."
Walter Mossberg (See Below)

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Arthur C. Clarke --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_C._Clarke

EarthLink's dream of blanketing an entire city with Wi-Fi will come true when Anaheim, California, flips the switch later this month. The company hopes to use the bold experiment as a blueprint for the future.
Scott Woolley, Wired News, June 23, 2006 --- Click Here

Human beings can be grouped into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are bored to death, and those who are worried to death.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill

You have been wantonly attacked by a ruthless and barbarous aggressor. Your capital has been bombed, your women and children brutally murdered. Our cities in England, too, have been bombed by the same insensate foe. Our women and children have been murdered. Our Sympathy for you therefore is heartfelt for we are sharing the same sufferings. But as we have faith in our victory, so we have faith in yours. Do not regret the staunch courage which has brought on you this furious onslaught. Your courage will shine out in the pages of history and will, too, reap a more immediate reward. Whatever you may lose in the present you have saved the future.
Winston Churchill --- http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/timeline/410413cwp.html

Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
Winston S. Churchill as quoted by Oliver North in "Wages of Defeatism" in the Washington Times on June 25, 2006 --- http://www.washingtontimes.com/commentary/20060624-112128-9446r.htm

Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive.
William F. Buckley --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley,_Jr.

Home computers are perfect for women who feel that men alone cannot provide them with enough frustration.

I no longer remember how I came by the (false New Hampshire drivers) license. But I still remember opening the package and pulling out the brand new, navy blue sweatshirt, short sleeved. New Hampshire! A pretty exotic place if you’re going to school in Southern California. The sweatshirt never really helped with the license, which was such a poor imitation that I had to throw it away after a waitress at a pizza joint refused to accept it. The sweatshirt, though, was an immediate hit. I felt special wearing it. Nobody else had a genuine short-sleeved sweatshirt from New Hampshire.
Terry Caesar, "The Life and Times of T-Shirts," Inside Higher Ed, July 13, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/07/13/caesar

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 shared some of the key quotations as I proceeded through this book. I have now finished the book. It was somewhat heavy going, so it  took some time to add selected quotations to the list of quotations at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm 

Epilogue: Learning to Develop Theory from the Masters



The starting point for many of our scholars was a conflict or dissonance between the scholars' firmly embedded viewpoint about management, organizations, and nature of the world, and an observation of phenomena that contradicted, this viewpoint.  These phenomena included contradictory research findings, faulty assumptions in an existing line of research or business behavior, or events that required additional or even a different explanation.  Generally, these conflicts created tension for the scholars, which motivated them to resolve the tension.  Hambrick notes, "My sense is that those who have a knack for developing theories are astute observers of phenomena; they detect puzzles in those phenomena; and they then start thinking about ways to solve the puzzles...puzzles trigger theory development."

PG. #575 & 576 SMITH & HITT 26.1.2 SEARCH
Levitt and March (1988) suggest that search is motivated to solve problems.  Tension and dissonance led our masters to search for potential answers in order to reduce or eliminate the tension they experience.  The answers in this case involve the initial framework of their original theory.  We label this phase "search" because there had to be exploration and discovery to develop the framework of the proposed theory.  That is, the new theory is a consequence of the tension and search for answers.

Interestingly, our scholars were not highly explicit about the search processes or search behaviors they used other than to recognize that the search process occurred.  Bandura notes, "Discontent with adequacy of existing theoretical explanations provides the impetus to search for conceptual schemes that can offer better explanations."  Vroom describes how he was "searching for a dissertation topic" when he obtained an insight for expectancy theory.  Rousseau describes the search process: "Observe and listen to people in the workplace, do lots of reading, and talk with other colleagues to figure out the way forward."  Mintzberg argues, "We get interesting theory when we let go of all this scientific correctness, or to use a famous phrase, suspend our beliefs, and allow our minds to roam freely and creatively."  We suspect that the search process if not independent of the tension that created it.  They likely occur almost simultaneously and the tension continues until the framework for the new theory is developed.  In fact, some tension is likely to exist until others in the field embrace the new theory.  That said, we infer different patterns of search based on career paths of our scholars, and the colleagues with whom they interacted.  Thus, their career orientations and their collegial relationships interacted with their individual training and experiences (knowledge stocks) to produce the new theory.

The process by which scholars research and expand their ideas characterizes the elaboration stage of theory development.  The process of elaboration is broadly described by our authors as detective work, induction, sensemaking, and research.  Weick describes this stage of theory development as a:

sprawling collection of ongoing interpretive actions.  To define this "sprawl" is to walk a thin line between trying to put plausible boundaries around a diverse set of actions that seem to cohere while also trying to include enough properties so that the coherence is seen as distinctive and significant but something less than the totality of the human condition.

Bandura also captures this part of the process: "Initial formulations prompt lines of experimentation that help improve the theory.  Successive theoretical refinements bring one closer to understanding the phenomena of interest."  Oldham and Hackman note:

We suspect that no theory, and certainly not ours, emerges all at once in a flash of insight.  Instead, theory development can seem as if it is an endless iterative process, moving back and forth between choice of variables and specification of the links among them, hoping that eventually the small, grudgingly achieved advances will outnumber the forced retreats.

Locke and Latham are more specific in discussions of their means of elaboration in their goal setting research:

by doing many experiments over a long period of time, by showing that our experiments worked and thereby getting other researchers interested in goal setting research, by coming at the subject of goal setting from many different angles, by examining failures and trying to identify their causes, by resolving contractions and paradoxes, by integrating valid ideas from other developing theories, by responding to criticism that seemed to have merit and refuting those that did not, by asking ourselves critical questions and by keeping an open mind.

Zucker and Darby use the metaphor of a growing tree to portray the process of theory development: "It grows according to where the nutrients and sun are best, and in the process sometimes grows odd-looking branches and may be quite unbalanced in its growth in the sense that one side of the tree grows more than the other.  Many people work at developing a theory, and not all use the same approach".  Rousseau suggests that three specific mechanisms (four distinct sets of actions) helped her elaborate psychological contract theory: spending time in organizations, writing two books, and producing a series of research projects.  In some cases, this process of elaboration is of a shorter-term nature and in others it is a career-long endeavor.  For the most part, elaboration involves a rather long period of time, although not necessarily a whole career.

The final phase of theory development is presenting the model and research to the various and appropriate constituencies.  Although the presentation of one's ideas or theory might seem relatively straightforward, our scholars generally struggled to get their new ideas accepted, especially in the top academic journals.  Perhaps, because their ideas were new or the theory too encompassing, several of our scholars had to write a book to present their works.

The proclamation of the theories can occur in many ways, but two alternatives are more common.  First, there can be a series of both conceptual and empirical articles that often incrementally build on each other or independently add to the theoretical knowledge.  Usually after the quantity of this work passes a critical threshold, it is summarized in a book in order to create a "gestalt" framework and to enhance the coherence of the theory.  For example, Locke and Latham summarized over twenty-five years of studies in their 1990 book on goal setting.  Similarly, Finkelstein and Hambrick (1996) summarized and elaborated ten years of research in their book, Strategic Leadership.  Beach and Mitchell (1996) published a number of papers on image theory and summarized this work in an edited volume on Image Theory.

A closer look at some of the intriguing, inspiring and imaginative folks who are the heart of the AICPA.

"THE LAST WORD," by Glenn Milus, Journal of Accountancy, July 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jul2006/last.htm

Being first a female scientist and then a male scientist has given Prof. Barres a unique perspective on the debate over why women are so rare at the highest levels of academic science and math: He has experienced personally how each is treated by colleagues, mentors and rivals.

"He, Once a She, Offers Own View On Science Spat," by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115274744775305134.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

Based on those experiences, as well as research on gender differences, Prof. Barres begs to differ with what he calls "the Larry Summers Hypothesis," named for the former Harvard president who attributed the paucity of top women scientists to lack of "intrinsic aptitude." In a commentary in today's issue of the journal Nature, he writes that "the reason women are not advancing [in science] is discrimination" and the "Summers Hypothesis amounts to nothing more than blaming the victim."

In his remarks at an economics conference in January 2005, Mr. Summers said "socialization" is probably a trivial reason for the low number of top female mathematicians and scientists. But Prof. Barres, who as Barbara received the subtle and not-so-subtle hints that steer smart girls away from science, doesn't see it that way. The top science and math student in her New Jersey high school, she was advised by her guidance counselor to go to a local college rather than apply to MIT. She applied anyway and was admitted.

As an MIT undergraduate, Barbara was one of the only women in a large math class, and the only student to solve a particularly tough problem. The professor "told me my boyfriend must have solved it for me," recalls Prof. Barres, 51 years old, in an interview. "If boys were raised to feel that they can't be good at mathematics, there would be very few who were."

Although Barbara Barres was a top student at MIT, "nearly every lab head I asked refused to let me do my thesis research" with him, Prof. Barres says. "Most of my male friends had their first choice of labs. And I am still disappointed about the prestigious fellowship I lost to a male student when I was a Ph.D. student," even though the rival had published one prominent paper and she had six.

As a neuroscientist, Prof. Barres is also skeptical of the claim that differences between male and female brains might explain the preponderance of men in math and science. For one thing, he says, the studies don't adequately address whether those differences are innate and thus present from birth, or reflect the different experiences that men and women have. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who defends the Summers Hypothesis, acknowledges that the existence of gender differences in values, preferences and aptitudes "does not mean that they are innate."

The biggest recent revolution in neuroscience has been the discovery of the brain's "plasticity," or ability to change structure and function in response to experiences. "It's not hard to believe that differences between the brains of male and female adults have nothing to do with genes or the Y chromosome but may be the biological expression of different social settings," says biologist Joan Roughgarden of Stanford, who completed her own transgender transition in 1998.

Jonathan Roughgarden's colleagues and rivals took his intelligence for granted, Joan says. But Joan has had "to establish competence to an extent that men never have to. They're assumed to be competent until proven otherwise, whereas a woman is assumed to be incompetent until she proves otherwise. I remember going on a drive with a man. He assumed I couldn't read a map."

Actually, Ben Barres says there may be something to the stereotype that men are better map readers. The testosterone he received to become male improved his spatial abilities, he writes in Nature, though "I still get lost every time I drive."

Still, there is little evidence that lack of testosterone or anything unique to male biology is the main factor keeping women from the top ranks of science and math, says Prof. Barres, a view that is widely held among scientists who study the issue. Although more men than women in the U.S. score in the stratosphere on math tests, there is no such difference in Japan, and in Iceland the situation is flipped, with more women than men scoring at the very top.

"That seems more like 'socialization' than any difference in innate abilities to me," geneticist Gregory Petsko of Brandeis University wrote last year. In any case, except in a few specialized fields like theoretical physics, there is little correlation between math scores and who becomes a scientist.

Some supporters of the Summers Hypothesis suggest that temperament, not ability, holds women back in science: They are innately less competitive. Prof. Barres's experience suggests that if women are less competitive, it is not because of anything innate but because that trait has been beaten out of them.

"Female scientists who are competitive or assertive are generally ostracized by their male colleagues," he says. In any case, he argues, "an aggressive competitive spirit" matters less to scientific success than curiosity, perseverance and self-confidence.

Women doubt their abilities more than men do, say scientists who have mentored scores of each. "Almost without exception, the talented women I have known have believed they had less ability than they actually had," Prof. Petsko wrote. "And almost without exception, the talented men I have known believed they had more."

Which may account for what Prof. Barres calls the main difference he has noticed since changing sex. "People who do not know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect," he says. "I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man."

Also see http://physorg.com/news71935417.html


How do athletes at Auburn University find a way to ace sociology without having to go to class?

"Top Grades and No Class Time for Auburn Players," by Pete Thamal, The New York Times, July 14, 2006 --- Click Here

Professor Petee’s directed-reading classes, which nonathletes took as well, helped athletes in several sports improve their grade-point averages and preserve their athletic eligibility. A number of athletes took more than one class with Professor Petee over their careers: one athlete took seven such courses, three athletes took six, five took five and eight took four, according to records compiled by Professor Gundlach. He also found that more than a quarter of the students in Professor Petee’s directed-reading courses were athletes. (Professor Gundlach could not provide specific names because of student privacy laws.)

The Auburn football team’s performance in the N.C.A.A.’s new rankings of student athletes’ academic progress surprised many educators on and off campus. The team had the highest ranking of any Division I-A public university among college football’s six major conferences. Over all among Division I-A football programs, Auburn trailed only Stanford, Navy and Boston College, and finished just ahead of Duke.

Among those caught off guard by Auburn’s performance was Gordon Gee, the chancellor of Vanderbilt, a fellow university in the Southeastern Conference and its only private institution. Vanderbilt had an 88 percent graduation rate in 2004, compared with Auburn’s 48 percent, yet finished well behind Auburn in the new N.C.A.A. rankings.

“It was a little surprising because our graduation rates are so much higher,” Mr. Gee said. “I’m not quite certain I understood that.”

The N.C.A.A. cannot comment on specific academic cases. But when asked how much 18 players taking 97 credit hours could affect a football team’s academic standing, Thomas S. Paskus, the N.C.A.A.’s principal research scientist, said it would be likely to lift the number. He added that it would be difficult to gauge how much the classes helped the academic ranking.

In the spring of 2005, Professor Gundlach confronted Professor Petee, to whom he reported, about the proliferation of directed-reading courses. That spring, the university’s administration told Professor Petee he was carrying too many of the classes. Far fewer have been offered since.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on academic scandals in college athletics are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics

"Internet Con Artists Turn to 'Vishing'," PhysOrg, July 13, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news71990250.html

Internet con artists are turning to an old tool - the phone - to keep tricking Web users who have learned not to click on links in unsolicited e-mails.

User rating Not rated yet Would you recommend this story? Not at all - 1 2 3 4 5 - Highly

A batch of e-mails recently making the rounds were crafted to appear as if they came from PayPal, eBay Inc.'s online payment service. Like traditional phony "phishing" e-mails, these said there was some problem with the recipients' accounts.

Phishing e-mails generally instruct recipients to click a link in the e-mail to confirm their personal information; the link actually connects to a bogus site where the data are stolen.

But with Internet users wiser about phishing, the new fake PayPal e-mail included no such link. Instead it told users to call a number, where an automated answering service asked for account information.

Security experts tracking this scam and other instances of "vishing" - short for "voice phishing" - say the frauds are particularly nefarious because they mimic the legitimate ways people interact with financial institutions.

In fact, some vishing attacks don't begin with an e-mail. Some come as calls out of the blue in which the caller already knows the recipient's credit card number - increasing the perception of legitimacy - and asks just for the valuable three-digit security code on the back of the card.

"It is becoming more difficult to distinguish phishing attempts from actual attempts to contact customers," said Ron O'Brien, a security analyst with Sophos PLC.

Vishing appears to be flourishing with the help of Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, the technology that enables cheap and anonymous Internet calling, as well as the ease with which caller ID boxes can be tricked into displaying erroneous information.

The upshot: "If you get a telephone call where someone is asking you to provide or confirm any of your personal information, immediately hang up and call your financial institution with the number on the back of the card," said Paul Henry, a vice president with Secure Computing Corp. "If it was a real issue, they can address the issue."

Continued in article

"IRS Warns Phishing Scams Increasing," AccountingWeb, July 12, 2006 ---

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers to be on the lookout for bogus e-mails claiming to be from the tax agency, on the heels of a recent increase in scam e-mails.

In recent weeks the IRS has experienced an increase in complaints about e-mails designed to trick the recipients into disclosing personal and financial information that could be used to steal the recipient’s identity and financial assets. Since November, 99 different scams have been identified. Twenty of those were identified in June, the highest number since the height of the filing season when 40 were identified in March.

“The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails asking for personal information,” IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, said in a prepared statement. “Don’t be taken in by these criminals.”

The current scams claim to come from theirs, tell recipients that they are due a federal tax refund, and direct them to a web site that appears to be a genuine IRS site. The bogus sites contain forms or interactive web pages similar to the IRS forms or Web pages but which have been modified to request detailed personal and financial information from the e-mail recipients. In addition, e-mail addresses ending with “.edu” – involving users in the education community – currently seem to be heavily targeted.

Many of the current schemes originate outside the United States. To date, investigations by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have identified sites hosting more than two dozen IRS-related phishing scams. These scam Web sites have been located in many different countries, including Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, England, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Singapore and Slovakia, as well as the United States.

Tricking consumers into disclosing their personal and financial information, such as secret access data or credit card or bank account numbers, is fraudulent activity which can result in identity theft. Such schemes perpetrated through the Internet are called “phishing” for information.

The information fraudulently obtained is them used to steal the taxpayer’s identity and financial assets. Typically, identity thieves use someone’s personal data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name and even file fraudulent tax returns.

When the IRS learns of new schemes involving use of the IRS name or logo, it issues consumer alerts warning taxpayers about the schemes.

The IRS also has established an electronic mailbox for taxpayers to send information about suspicious e-mails they receive which claim to come from the IRS. Taxpayers should send the information to phishing@irs.gov. Instructions on how to properly submit possibly fraudulent e-mails to the IRS may be found on the IRS web site at www.irs.gov. This mailbox is only for suspicious e-mails, not general taxpayer inquiries.

More than 7,000 bogus e-mails have been forwarded to the IRS, with nearly 1,300 forwarded in June alone. Due to the volume or e-mails the mailbox receives, the IRS cannot acknowledge receipt or reply to taxpayers who submit possibly bogus e-mails.

Bob Jensen's threads on "Phishing , Pharming, Vishing, Slurping, and Spoofing" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Phishing

What are the worst of the bad opening sentences to imaginary novels?

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2006 Results at San Jose State University --- http://www2.sjsu.edu/depts/english/2006.htm

Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.
Jim Guigli
Carmichael, CA

"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' - and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' - well do you, punk?"
Stuart Vasepuru
Edinburgh, Scotland

Christy, lounging in the gondola which slipped smoothly through the enveloping mist had her first inkling that something was afoot as she heard pattering hooves below (for our story is not in Venice but Switzerland with its Provolone and Toblerone) and craning her not unlovely neck she narrowed her eyes at the dozen tiny reindeer, pelting madly down the goat trail.
Irene Buttuls
Lytton, B.C

She looked at her hands and saw the desiccated skin hanging in Shar-Pei wrinkles, confetti-like freckles, and those dry, dry cuticles--even her "Fatale Crimson" nail color had faded in the relentless sun to the color of old sirloin--and she vowed if she ever got out of the Sahara alive, she'd never buy polish on sale at Walgreen's again.
Christin Keck
Kent, OH

It was a day, like any other day, in that Linus got up, faced the sunrise, used his inhaler, applied that special cream between his toes, wrote a quick note and put it in a bottle, and wished he'd been stranded on the island with something other than 40 cases each of inhalers, decorative bottles, and special toe cream.
Chris Harget
Campbell, CA

Continued at http://www2.sjsu.edu/depts/english/2006.htm

Web Site Comparing Shipping Rates Launches --- https://www.redroller.com/shippingcenter/home
Enter your address, the weight of a package and its destination, and the site displays a grid with the prices various couriers would charge to send the item, depending on the delivery time. With a few clicks, you can print a shipping label and schedule a pickup, or find the nearest drop-off center. "Instead of being designed to ship people, it was designed to ship packages," Van Wyck said.
"Web Site Comparing Shipping Rates Launches," PhysOrg, July 13, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news71989826.html


Recent Examples of Cheating from "Cheating:  Everybody's Doing It," by Gay Jervey, Readers Digest, March 2006, pp. 123-124:

Bob Jensen's threads on "New Kinds of Cheating" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm#NewKindOfCheating

Popular Mortgage Web Site Under Scrutiny
A lawsuit against Bankrate.com, which alleges that the Web site has become a haven for "bait-and-switch" loan pitches, underlines the difficulty consumers can have in locating reliable financial information online.
Michael Hudson, "Popular Mortgage Web Site Under Scrutiny:  Lawsuit Against Bankrate Spotlights Difficulty of Getting Sound Financial Data Online," The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115266435444704096.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

Bob Jensen's mortgage advice is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#MortgageAdvice

Bob Jensen's threads on banking fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#InvestmentBanking

"An Easier Way to Send Large Email Attachments:  Free Application Helps To Avoid Clogging Inboxes; Speeds Still Might Vary," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2006; Page D5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115265970702403948.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

How many times have you wanted to email a large attachment -- like a bunch of digital photos, an album of songs, or a hefty video -- but didn't do so because it exceeded your email provider's, or the recipient's, limits on attachment size, or because it might max out the recipient's mailbox?

This frustration is growing increasingly common as better digital cameras produce bigger photos and large video clips, and digital music becomes more widespread. Computer hard disks have grown nicely to accommodate these files, but limits on the size of email messages haven't. And, even if you could send such large attachments, it can take forever to send them via email, partly because broadband upload speeds lag far behind download speeds.

Instead of suffering the frustration of a bounced email, many folks have resorted to Web-based services like Shutterfly or Kodak EasyShare Gallery or YouTube.com or Google Video for sharing digital photos and videos. They upload the files to these sites, then send links to their friends and family. But this method has major drawbacks. The recipients don't get the full-size files on their own computers, and sometimes must register with the sites to view your material.

This week, we tested a new, free, application called Pando that aims to solve this problem without requiring you to use an intermediary Web site. Pando lets you email huge attachments -- up to one gigabyte each -- to anyone, without breaching email size limits, or clogging anyone's inbox. It comes in versions for both Windows and Macintosh computers, available for downloading at www.pando.com.

It sounded fishy to us, too, but Pando, from Pando Networks Inc., performed really well in our tests -- even in its current "beta," or trial, stage. It's simple, fast, and effective, and it solves the large-attachment problem.

Pando works by merging the mechanism of email with its own small program and a modified version of BitTorrent, a back-end file-transfer system best known until now for speeding up the downloading of large, unauthorized files, like pirated movies.

Here's how you use Pando. First, you download and install the small Pando program. Then, you select the files you want to send. These can be any type of files you want, or even whole folders of files. Then, still using the Pando software, you type in the addresses of the recipients, the subject, and a message. The software then does three things: it creates a Pando Package, a small special file that instructs the recipient's computer on how to fetch the files; it sends an email containing that package file, plus any text you want; and it uploads the files to a Pando server.

On the recipient's end, an email is received in his or her normal email program containing the Pando Package as a tiny attachment (one huge 94 megabyte attachment we sent required only a 22-kilobyte attachment). The recipient just opens the Pando Package attachment, and it in turn launches the Pando software, which then downloads the files or folders you sent. The first time the recipient receives a Pando email, he or she will have to download and install the Pando software. There's a link in the email to the download site.

Once downloaded onto the receiver's computer, all Pando files can be found in a special folder that Pando automatically creates. In Windows, it's called My Pando Packages and is in My Documents. On the Mac, it's called Pando Packages and is in the home folder. The files are also listed in the handy Received list in the Pando software.

As a bonus, Pando can sometimes transmit these large files faster than your email program or Web browser could. That's because it uses a modified version of the speedy BitTorrent technology.

We downloaded and installed Pando in just a few minutes. Opening the small Pando email attachment from Microsoft Outlook on Windows or Apple Mail on the Mac prompted a little Pando window to pop up, in which all sent and received files were organized. This window is simple, showing a thumbnail image and text description of each file. A list of received files shows who sent the file and when; the sent list shows to whom you sent files and when.

We started out big, sharing a 95-megabyte, high-resolution video. You must create a username and password to send using Pando, which we did, entering our email and first and last names. A simple "Send New" icon opens the email-like form, where we dragged and dropped this big video file.

No Pando Package can total more than one gigabyte, and an automatic tally shows you how large the Package is becoming as you drag and drop more files into it.

Continued in article

From Mossberg's Mailbox
"How to Split Up MP3 Files," The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2006; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/mossberg_mailbox.html

Q: I'm downloading some lectures in MP3 format and then transferring each to an audio CD to listen to while driving. An occasional lecture in the series is too large to transfer to CD. Is there a program that will divide these into two tracks so that they can be written to separate CDs?

A: Yes, there are multiple little utility programs that can split (or join) MP3 files. I haven't tested any of them, so I can't recommend one. But you can find them by going to www.download.com and typing in "mp3 splitter."

Bob Jensen's audio helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm#WebAudio

"Are You Saving Enough for Retirement? A Guide to Figuring It Out and Funding It," by Jonathan Clements, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2006; Page D1 ---

So what's your personal liability and how can you trim it? Brace yourself: We're in for some scary math.

 Bridging the gap.
"Corporate accounting requires companies to look at their pension obligations, to use reasonable assumptions and to fund those obligations on an annual basis," notes Charles Farrell, a financial consultant in Medina, Ohio. "A little bit of that corporate discipline can be helpful on the individual side."

Mr. Farrell's advice: Start by deciding how much income you will need from your portfolio to supplement whatever you expect from Social Security and any pensions you're entitled to. Next, multiply your desired portfolio income by 20, to get the target size of your retirement nest egg. (This assumes you use a 5% withdrawal rate in the first year of retirement, and thereafter step up your withdrawals with inflation.)

For instance, if you're looking to garner $40,000 in initial retirement income from your portfolio, you would need $800,000 saved. Let's say you have $300,000 salted away. That means your current unfunded retirement liability is $500,000.

To find out how much you need to save each month to amass this $500,000, head to www.dinkytown.net and call up the savings-goal calculator. One problem: Thanks to inflation, your target retirement income and your required savings could be whole lot bigger by the time you quit the work force. What to do? Mr. Farrell suggests thinking in terms of after-inflation "real" rates of return.

To that end, when using the dinkytown.net calculator, set inflation at zero and input what you think your annual return will be, over and above inflation. If your portfolio includes a decent helping of stocks and you're careful about investment expenses, you might opt for a 4% real return.

Finally, enter your portfolio's value, your current monthly savings and your time horizon. The calculator will then tell you how much you really need to save each month to accumulate your desired nest egg. But here's the key: To combat inflation and ensure you have enough at retirement, you will need to increase your monthly savings along with inflation.

 Raising the price.
Does your required savings rate seem a little steep? If anything, you should probably be socking away even more, for two reasons.

First, many financial planners consider a truly safe withdrawal rate to be 4.5% or even 4%. That means you ought to amass as much as 25 times your desired $40,000, boosting your retirement liability to $1 million.

This is clearly news to a lot of ordinary investors. According to a study recently conducted for insurer New York Life, 40% of those surveyed weren't sure how much they could safely withdraw from a portfolio -- and an additional 29% thought that a safe retirement withdrawal rate was 10% or more. "There's a pretty big gap between expectations and reality," says Ted Mathas, chief operating officer at New York Life.

Second, while you might want only $40,000 a year in portfolio income, you should be prepared to spend as much as $74,095 per person. That's the national average cost for a private nursing-home room, according to insurer MetLife's Mature Market Institute. In fact, if both you and your spouse need care at the same time, you could have to fork over some $150,000 a year.

Assuming you get $20,000 a year from Social Security, your out-of-pocket cost might be $130,000. Based on a 5% withdrawal rate, that means you need $2.6 million socked away. How's that for a retirement liability?

"Long-term care is a huge potential cost," Mr. Farrell says. "If you're not rich enough to self-insure, you've got to think about buying a long-term-care policy that gives you at least minimal coverage."

 Trimming the tab.
A long-term-care policy is one way to dial down your unfunded retirement liability.

What else can you do? To squeeze more retirement income out of your assets, you could take out a reverse mortgage and use maybe 25% or 50% of your savings to buy an immediate-fixed annuity that pays lifetime income.

In addition, "you could try to lower your fixed costs," Mr. Farrell says. "A smaller house is better, because that should lower your property taxes and lower your utilities. You might also want to reassess how many cars you have."

Of course, cutting back isn't easy. "Try to downscale before you retire, to see if you're comfortable with that," Mr. Farrell suggests. "If you're not, you might want to retire a little later."

Postponing retirement -- unpalatable as it seems -- can transform your chances of a comfortable retirement. By delaying, you will have more time to save and more time for your investments to grow. You will also shorten your retirement, so you can be more aggressive in spending down your nest egg.

As an added bonus, delaying retirement will allow you to postpone taking Social Security and purchasing an immediate annuity. Result: When you start Social Security and when you buy your annuity, you will get even more income.

Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#InvestmentHelpers

"Social Security: What’s the Magic Age? When to start collecting your benefits," by Kathryn Garnett, Journal of Accountancy, July 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jul2006/garnett.htm

In determining the age at which a worker should apply for Social Security benefits, consideration should be given to current and expected future sources of income, age of beneficiary and spouse, health issues that could affect longevity and whether the beneficiary will continue to work while receiving benefits.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer for deciding when Social Security benefits should be started. Many workers will benefit by beginning to receive benefits at age 62 due to their circumstances and needs. For others, waiting until full retirement age, or even later, will provide higher annual income in the years ahead when their expenses might outpace their resources.

How long does it take to break even in the game of taking benefits at early vs. normal retirement age? If two retirees are now 65 and one started collecting Social Security benefits at age 62 and the other starts now, they will collect the same total amount of money when they are 77 years old.

It’s important to do preretirement calculations at least every three years, to take into account any changing circumstances and/or changes in the rules as they apply to Social Security benefits, pensions and investment savings.

From Smart Stops on the Web, Journal of Accountancy, July 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jul2006/news_web.htm

Green Golden Years

CPA/PFSs can find retirement planning advice here, including information on rolling over qualified plans, an IRA fact sheet and five reasons to open a 401(k) plan. Take a quiz to see how much you know about the basics of retirement planning, calculate 401(k) plan savings or sign up for a free newsletter.

Wealth of Resources

Free registration at the Financial Planning Association Web site gets planners access to a calculator that can figure the worth of your client’s 401(k) at retirement. Find checklists on the documentation you should ask clients to supply to begin working with them and questions they may ask about your qualifications. Take an investment fraud awareness quiz or research what to do with your retirement plan if you lose your job.

Ready to Retire?

Read detailed Qs&As on retirement planning in the Ask the Experts section at this e-stop to find out whether your clients are set for their futures. Topics include annuities, general investing, Medicaid and Social Security. Access calculators to figure out how much savings your clients will need in order to quit working. Compare taxable and tax-free investment returns and inflation’s impact on savings, get the free Primer on Annuities report or register for free Webinars and the Safe Money Advisory newsletter.

Older and WISER

The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) Web site offers five things women need to do for retirement, as well as five reasons retirement is a challenge for female workers. You can find 10 ways baby boomer women can avoid retirement poverty, read up on issues related to retirement plans, such as divorce and widowhood, or see how well you do on a pension checklist.

Retirement Resources

Don’t let the tongue-in-cheek Web address fool you: CPAs looking for pertinent information on retirement planning for themselves and their clients will find it here. Links take users to Q&A discussions on factors affecting 401(k) plans, such as active vs. passive plan management and when payments kick in and tips on how to manage investment losses.

Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#Finance

Bob Jensen's threads on finding professional help are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fees.htm

In trading simulations students cheat just like real-world traders
At the end of the semester, the number of students in a simulated trading room who were caught in misconduct or misusing information for insider trading was significantly higher than at the beginning. The students said, "You taught us how to do it," Buono recalled. "For those of us who've spent our careers teaching this, it's been a disappointing time," said Buono, who has taught at the Waltham, Mass., college for 27 years. "Some of the most renowned names in the corporate world are now jokes at cocktail parties. And they were led by graduates of our business programs. "That made a lot of us sit up and rethink the approach of what we're doing."
"Business Profs Rethinking Ethics Classes," SmartPros, June 19, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x53572.xml 

Gender Gap Grows
The proportion of college students who are men continues to shrink — but that does not mean male students are being shut out of higher education, the American Council of Education says in a new report.
Doug Lederman, "Gender Gap Grows," Inside Higher Ed, July 12, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/07/12/gender

"Yes, College Women Work Harder," The New York Times, July 12, 2006 --- Click Here

One in four boys who have college educated parents cannot read a newspaper with understanding

"Where the Boys Aren't," by Christina Hoff Sommers, The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2006; Page A10 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115188123858496631.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

The reading scores of 17-year-old boys overall have gone down in the past decade, hitting an all-time low in 2004. Judith Kleinfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska, has done a thorough analysis of the reading skills of white males from college-educated families. Using Department of Education data, she shows that at the end of high school, 23% of the white sons of college educated parents scored "below basic." For girls from the same background, the figure is 7%. "This means," Ms. Kleinfeld writes, "that one in four boys who have college educated parents cannot read a newspaper with understanding."

Education Sector's study concedes that African-American, Hispanic and low-income white males "are in real trouble." But it attributes their plight to larger social problems that have little to do with gender. Ms. Mead does not seem to have noticed that among these demographics, males are far behind their female counterparts. For example, Ms. Kleinfeld found that 34% of Hispanic males with college-educated parents scored "below basic" -- compared to 19% of Hispanic females.

Today, for every 100 women who earn a bachelor's degree, just 73 men get one. Not to worry, says Ms. Mead. It is actually good news for young men, because more of them are going to college today than did in the '70s and '80s. By this reasoning, we need not worry about the relatively low wages of women compared to men, since in "absolute terms" women are doing better than in the past.

We are strikingly better at educating young women than young men. Boys need our attention. It is difficult to understand why an organization devoted to improving education should regard the current concern for boys as a threat to girls' progress. Education Sector would be more constructively occupied if it looked for ways to help our boys keep pace with the girls.

Ms. Sommers is the author of "The War Against Boys" (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

"Mindless Reading Seen As Fundamental," PhysOrg, July 3, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news71154237.html

Ever read the same paragraph three times? Or get to the end of a page and realize you don't know what you just read?

That's mindless reading. It is the literary equivalent of driving for miles without remembering how you got there - something so common many people don't even notice it.

In a new study of college students, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of British Columbia established a way to study mindless reading in a lab.

Their findings showed that daydreaming has its costs.

The readers who zoned out most tended to do the worst on tests of reading comprehension - a significant, if not surprising, result. The study also suggested that zoning out caused the poor test results, as opposed to other possible factors, such as the complexity of the text or the task.

The researchers hope their work inspires more research into why zoning out happens, and what can be done to stop it.

For now, they want the problem to be taken seriously.

"When you talk about this work at conferences, it does lend itself to a lot of jokes," acknowledges University of Pittsburgh professor Erik Reichle, co-leader of the study.

"It's so ubiquitous. Everybody does it," he said. "I think that's one of the main reasons it's been overlooked. And there's been a view that it is tough to study experimentally. Hopefully, now, there will be more interest in the topic."

The federal government is showing some.

Reichle and fellow psychology professor Jonathan Schooler did the study on a $691,000 grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, an arm of the Education Department. It is one of 178 federally backed projects aimed at giving schools a scientific basis for sound policies.

Over three experiments, students used computers to read the first five chapters of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." (Reichle wanted some boring reading - better for zoning out.)

Reichle said the dry text itself did not skew the results toward mindless wandering. After all, the students were on alert, unlike the typical reader.

Participants were told to monitor and report instances of zoning out as they read text on a computer. Half of them got computer reminders, too: "Were you zoning out?"

Despite all that, many still reported zoning out at a regular pace.

"That's the amazing thing," Reichle said. "It shows how often this can happen even under conditions that are designed to keep it from happening."

The students said as their eyes scanned the words, their minds often were elsewhere.

They were hungry, or thirsty, or tired. They were thinking about plans, worries or memories. Some drifted into fantasies. Others stuck with the book, but their minds wandered into tangents about the plot.

Karen Wixson, a nationally recognized reading expert and professor of education at the University of Michigan, cautioned not to read too much into all this.

"This is a long ways away from having implications for reading instruction," Wixson said. "It could, eventually, down the line. But to draw inferences about this as a contributing factor toward reading comprehension would be a huge, huge leap."

To apply to younger kids - the target audience of reading classes - the findings would have to be replicated among school-age children, Wixson said.

She said participants may have zoned more often because they were reading off computer screens, and because they had no real incentive to pay attention, as they would in school.

But at the International Reading Association, Cathy Roller sees some direct payoff. She directs research and policy for the association, which represents literacy professionals.

By recognizing zoning out as problem, she said, teachers can do something.

Like asking students to put a checkmark next to paragraphs as they finish them and then summarize what they just read.

Or having students scan all the pictures and bold type before reading the text of a story, so that they have a general understanding of what's to come.

Zoning out may simply mean that the prose isn't interesting, Roller said. But it could also be a clear signal that students don't understand the work.

"You don't want to generalize narrow studies into large implications," Roller said. "But zoning out is probably not a whole lot different than not comprehending. And telling people to start using some good comprehension strategies is not likely to do any harm."

Roller knows. She had just been zoning out while reading a literature review.

By the way, last sentence here. If you missed anything, there's no shame in rereading.

Good Morning, Vietnam

Robert E. Rubin, "Good Morning, Vietnam," The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2006; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115266738867104170.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

Vietnam is close to having completed negotiations for accession to the World Trade Organization. Once it does join, Vietnam will become part of the multilateral global trading system, with lower barriers to trade for the goods and services of its trading partners, and lower trading barriers in overseas markets to Vietnam's goods and services. This will be another major impetus for economic growth and development in Vietnam, as well as for integration with the rest of the global community.

However, for the benefits of Vietnam's WTO membership to apply to the U.S., Congress must enact legislation that eliminates the Cold War-era requirement that Vietnam each year receive presidential certification of progress with respect to human rights. This is exactly the same permanent exemption that was granted to China in the 1990s, and reflects a view that increased engagement with the international community best serves our national security interests and also over time helps promote human rights and other values that lie at the heart of the American political system.

The U.S. bilateral trading agreement with Vietnam already provides good access to most Vietnamese markets, but now this access would improve with respect to services, agriculture and protection of intellectual property. More importantly, helping Vietnam grow increases its market for our goods and services -- which could over time be very substantial, given the country's large population -- and also its efficiency in providing goods and services to us less expensively.

Continued in article

From Jim Mahar's Blog on June 29, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Greenbaum on Corporate Governance

Stuart Greenbaum recently gave a very interesting and important speech at the Financial Intermediation Research Society Meetings in Shanghai China. Fortunately for those of who did not go to China to attend the conference, the keynote address is available through SSRN. The abstract does not do the speech justice, so I will provide some "visual bites" via some "look-ins":

*"Ben Hermalin and Michael Weisbach (2003) quote Adam Smith on agency problems arising from separation of finance and management....Berle and Means (1933) essay these same issues in the context of public corporations with diffuse ownership....Nevertheless, the current flowering of the corporate governance issue, accompanied by a tsunami-like surge of research...offers something new."

* "It was recently noted by Gillan (2006) that searching "corporate governance"� on SSRN yielded 3500 items....being impelled to reinterpret virtually all of Finance."

*"Finance may well become the business school's quintessential normative discipline. Teaching business ethics, always something of an embarrassment, may simply come to be teaching Finance well!"

* "The corporate governance issue divides itself conveniently into two complementary components of substance and implementation. The former asks the question of corporate purpose. Arguments in the corporation's alleged objective function are the domain of inquiry. Shareholders versus stakeholders is the vernacular phrasing."

"Tirole concedes three pedestrian reasons for the narrower construal of corporate purpose [that is why we should focus on shareholders] These include paucity of appropriable resources, parsimony (workability) and avoidance of foot-dragging and deadlocks in decision making (again, workability). There is no doctrinal defense of share- or debtholders' property rights. Tirole's concessions to shareholders' exclusivity as claimants to both cash flow and control rights are unabashedly and exclusively practical."


*"Whatever your personal predilection---and mine veers toward the traditional, narrower view on Tirolean grounds--- it would be wrong to ignore the tectonic drift in public sentiment toward a greener, more European view of corporate purpose."

* "...the explosion of interest in corporate governance is too easily misinterpreted as a theme, even a nuance, in Finance. Nomenclature aside, corporate governance is a watershed, comparable to the reinvention of the field beginning in the late 1950's by Modigliani, Miller, Scholes, Merton, Jensen, Fama, et al."

*"The corporate governance movement breathed life into Behavioral Finance that sought explanations for anomalies of the frictionless, efficient markets so integral to the earlier recasting of Finance. But whereas Behavioral Finance deployed a set of unrelated psychological constructs as explanations for previously puzzling financial occurrences, corporate governance offered a cohesive story originating at the epicenter, the inner sanctum of corporate affairs"

Greenbaum then goes on to discuss the role of intermediaries:

*"...banks have been complicit in the more heralded corporate scandals...In any case, this failure of banks to perform expected monitoring was widespread. Standard explanations fell into the "�my brother thinks he'�s a chicken" category. That is, the fees paid to the intermediaries were too seductively large to be jeopardized....This is the same reason Arthur Andersen and Enron'�s lawyers were said to have looked the other way."

* He concludes: "The financial intermediaries, along with boards, external auditors, lawyers, the stock exchange and governmental regulators, are the guardians society depends upon to protect corporate integrity. The intermediaries' role is to monitor, but they are just as subject to subversion as those they are charged with monitoring."

Well said and a great speech. Definitely I^3 (which is I think the first time I have ever given a speech an I^3 rating.)


Greenbaum, Stuart I., "Corporate Governance and the Reinvention of Finance" (June 20, 2006). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=908613

June 29, 2006 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]


Many recent studies on tablet PCs in higher education have focused on student users. The purpose of the Seton Hall University project described in "The Tablet PC For Faculty: A Pilot Project" (by Rob R. Weitz, Bert Wachsmuth, and Danielle Mirliss in JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY & SOCIETY, vol. 9, issue. 2, 2006, pp. 68-83) "was to test and evaluate faculty applications of tablet PCs apropos their contribution to teaching and learning. Put another way, how would real faculty teaching actual classes use tablets, and how would they evaluate the utility of doing so?"

Some of the study's findings:

-- "only a fraction of faculty are motivated to use tablet technology: roughly a third of faculty expressed an interest in replacing their notebook computer with a tablet computer"

-- "generally, participating faculty did indeed use tablet functionality in their classes and were convinced that this use resulted in a meaningful impact on teaching and learning."

The paper is available online at http://www.ifets.info/journals/9_2/6.pdf

The Journal of Educational Technology & Society [ISSN 1436-4522 (online), ISSN 1176-3647 (print)] is a peer-reviewed quarterly online journal published by the International Forum of Educational Technology & Society (IFETS). Current and past issues are available in HTML and PDF formats at no cost at http://www.ifets.info/

Bob Jensen's threads on tricks and tools of the trade are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

In particular note the module on Tablet PCs at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Tablets

June 28, 2996 message from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

Some might find this interesting:


(BTW, the Linksys WRT54GL is what we've been using to stretch the working range of 802.11 wireless from 300 feet to 52 miles. It is currently the only router (that we know about) which allows the user to re-program the protocol parameters (such as packet retry time-out values, etc.) to allow for such lengthy signal paths.

I assume that [the reprogrammability of the firmware] is why Fon is using them [the Linksys WRT54GL routers].

I made it sound as though Fon were using this model router because it could be reprogrammed to allow for long- distance networking. The long-distance aspect is probably unrelated to Fon's selection. Fon is using them because they can re-program the protocol parameters in OTHER ways, too.

The WRT54GL firmware is programmed in Linux, and is user- loadable. This is unique for a commercially-manufacturered router. It is also perfect for experimenters.


David R. Fordham

James Madison University

June 28, 2006 message from Andrew Priest [a.priest@ECU.EDU.AU]


Thought this might be of interest.

Andrew Priest

CIRI Instigator is the latest in CIRI Lab's sophisticated knowledge management technology. CIRI Instigator lets you:
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Course Leader - Accounting
School of Accounting, Finance & Economics
Faculty of Business & Law, Edith Cowan University
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"Nigerians foiled in black banknote scam in Vietnam," --- Thannnie News, June 26, 2006 ---  http://www.thanhniennews.com/overseas/?catid=12&newsid=17070

Vietnamese police have foiled three Nigerians in their scams duping thousands of dollars out of Vietnamese women who lent them money to ostensibly buy chemicals to restore ‘blackened US banknotes’.

A source said they had been deported from Vietnam.

The police refused to reveal their names or say whether the three cases were related, but they happened with different women earlier this year by different Nigerians with the same trick.

In April, one Nigerian befriended a café owner in southern Vung Tau resort city and promised to give her a share in a restaurant he was about to open if she lent him US$20,000 to buy chemicals to restore blackened banknotes worth an astronomical US$1 billion.

He claimed he had purposefully blackened the notes to dodge customs screenings and taxation.

He then did an experiment. After rubbing and cleansing in a ‘special solution’, he managed to turn two blackened papers the size of US$100 banknotes into real cash.

He generously gifted her the two notes.

The gullible woman later lent him $7,000 before being handed a stack of supposed banknotes wrapped in thick paper. He said the money had been treated with chemicals but had to wait for eight hours in cold temperatures before taking effect.

She then put the stack in her fridge and, after eight hours, opened it only to discover they were just plain paper.

Meanwhile, the ‘billionaire’ had fled.

A similar case occurred the following month with a woman in Ho Chi Minh City, who got to know a man claiming to be Brazilian through Internet chat.

The ‘Brazilian’, who is in fact Nigerian, flew to Vietnam and told her he had inherited $6.5 million which he wanted to invest in Vietnam.

He added the $500,000 he had initially transported to Vietnam had turned black and he needed $40,000 to buy chemicals.

Another woman also in Ho Chi Minh City was similarly defrauded of $30,000.

A policeman told Thanh Nien the tricksters secretly slid real banknotes underneath the black papers during ‘chemical treatment’ and secretly slipped the black papers out. The ‘chemical solution’ is just plain water, he added.

Bob Jensen's threads on Nigerian frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#NigerianFraud

Assessment of Learning Achievements of College Graduates

"Getting the Faculty On Board," by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Inside Higher Ed, June 23, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/06/23/hrabowski

But as assessment becomes a national imperative, college and university leaders face a major challenge: Many of our faculty colleagues are skeptical about the value of external mandates to measure teaching and learning, especially when those outside the academy propose to define the measures. Many faculty members do not accept the need for accountability, but the assessment movement’s success will depend upon faculty because they are responsible for curriculum, instruction and research. All of us — policy makers, administrators and faculty — must work together to develop language, strategies and practices that help us appreciate one another and understand the compelling need for assessment — and why it is in the best interest of faculty and students.

Why is assessment important? We know from the work of researchers like Richard Hersh, Roger Benjamin, Mark Chun and George Kuh that college enrollment will be increasing by more than 15 percent nationally over the next 15 years (and in some states by as much as 50 percent). We also know that student retention rates are low, especially among students of color and low-income students. Moreover, of every 10 children who start 9th grade, only seven finish high school, five start college, and fewer than three complete postsecondary degrees. And there is a 20 percent gap in graduation rates between African Americans (42 percent) and whites (62 percent). These numbers are of particular concern given the rising higher education costs, the nation’s shifting demographics, and the need to educate more citizens from all groups.

At present, we do not collect data on student learning in a systematic fashion and rankings on colleges and universities focus on input measures, rather than on student learning in the college setting. Many people who have thought about this issue agree: We need to focus on “value added” assessment as an approach to determine the extent to which a university education helps students develop knowledge and skills. This approach entails comparing what students know at the beginning of their education and what they know upon graduating. Such assessment is especially useful when large numbers of students are not doing well — it can and should send a signal to faculty about the need to look carefully at the “big picture” involving coursework, teaching, and the level of support provided to students and faculty.

Many in the academy, however, continue to resist systematic and mandated assessment in large part because of problems they see with K-12 initiatives like No Child Left Behind — e.g., testing that focuses only on what can be conveniently measured, unacceptable coaching by teachers, and limiting what is taught to what is tested. Many academics believe that what is most valuable in the college experience cannot be measured during the college years because some of the most important effects of a college education only become clearer some time after graduation. Nevertheless, more institutions are beginning to understand that value-added assessment can be useful in strengthening teaching and learning, and even student retention and graduation rates.

It is encouraging that a number of institutions are interested in implementing value-added assessment as an approach to evaluate student progress over time and to see how they compare with other institutions. Such strategies are more effective when faculty and staff across the institution are involved. Examples of some best practices include the following:

  1. Constantly talking with colleagues about both the challenges and successful initiatives involving undergraduate education.
  2. Replicating successful initiatives (best practices from within and beyond the campus), in order to benefit as many students as possible.
  3. Working continuously to improve learning based on what is measured — from advising practices and curricular issues to teaching strategies — and making changes based on what we learn from those assessments.
  4. Creating accountability by ensuring that individuals and groups take responsibility for different aspects of student success.
  5. Recruiting and rewarding faculty who are committed to successful student learning (including examining the institutional reward structure).
  6. Taking the long view by focusing on initiatives over extended periods of time — in order to integrate best practices into the campus culture.

We in the academy need to think broadly about assessment. Most important, are we preparing our students to succeed in a world that will be dramatically different from the one we live in today? Will they be able to think critically about the issues they will face, working with people from all over the globe? It is understandable that others, particularly outside the university, are asking how we demonstrate that our students are prepared to handle these issues.

Assessment is becoming a national imperative, and it requires us to listen to external groups and address the issues they are raising. At the same time, we need to encourage and facilitate discussions among our faculty — those most responsible for curriculum, instruction, and research — to grapple with the questions of assessment and accountability. We must work together to minimize the growing tension among groups — both outside and inside the university — so that we appreciate and understand different points of view and the compelling need for assessment.

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

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

"Some CPAs Escape State Disciplinary Action," AccountingWeb, June 20, 2006 ---

There have been more than 50 accountants sanctioned over 2005 and 2006 for professional misconduct and few of them have compensated shareholders for their complicity or neglect. The Associated Press reports that although sanctioned not to practice public accounting for between one and ten years by the SEC, these accountants still prepare, audit or review financial statements for public companies.

They also remain able to perform these services for private companies. While firms such as Arthur Andersen and others have paid huge sums in accounting damages, the individual accountants have escaped their professional penance, according to the Associated Press.

The disconnect seems to be an established communication system that would allow the SEC to advise state accounting boards of federal sanctions against rogue accountants. Another aspect of the disconnect is that state accountancy boards do not have staff to handle the number or reach of financial scandals such as Cendant, Enron or WorldCom.

Texas is one of many states facing this situation. License renewals are not a verifiable method of finding out about SEC sanctions unless without the accountant completing the questions truthfully. A spokesman for the Georgia board told the Associated Press that a CPA recently renewed his license online without disclosing his disciplinary action by the SEC.

William Treacy, executive director of the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, told the Associated Press, “We don’t have the staff on board to manage the extra workload that the profession has been confronted over the last few years, so we contracted with the attorney general’s office to provide extra prosecutorial power.”

One of the problems and potential fixes to this situation may be to fine accountants. After a landmark SEC settlement in which three partners at KPMG agreed to pay a combined fine totaling $400,000 for their complicity in the $1.2 billion fraud at Xerox, the Associated Press reports that one of the partners still holds his license in New York.

David Nolte of Fulcrum Financial Inquiry told the Associated Press, “The SEC has never sought serious money from errant CPAs. Unfortunately, the small fines in the Xerox case set a record of the amount paid, so everyone else has gotten off easy.”

With the heavy investment in internal controls and procedures by CPA firms, the human element of accounting and auditing helps even large CPA firms fail to identify accounting problems. Members of an audit team can identify insufficient knowledge, misrepresentation of information, sloppy accounting or even simple misrepresentation of information but must be able to see the warning signs of other risky behavior. The CPA Journal suggests a 360-degree assessment of members on an audit team. As a structured, systematic way to collect information, evaluators include the person’s boss, peers, direct reports, and even clients.

Continued in article

The Sad State of Professional Discipline in Public Accountancy

"SEC Accountant Fines Largely Go Unpaid," SmartPros, June 7, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x53399.xml

The Securities and Exchange Commission has taken disciplinary action against more than 50 accountants in 2005 and 2006 for misconduct in scandals big and small. But few have paid a dime to compensate shareholders for their varying levels of neglect or complicity.

It also turns out that nearly half of them continue to hold valid state licenses to hang out their shingles as certified public accountants, based on an examination of public records by The Associated Press.

So while the SEC has forbidden these CPAs from preparing, auditing or reviewing financial statements for a public company, they remain free to perform those very same services for private companies and other organizations that may be unaware of their professional misdeeds.

Some would say the accounting profession has taken its fair share of lumps, particularly with the abrupt annihilation of Arthur Andersen LLP and the jobs of thousands of auditors who had nothing to do with the firm's Enron Corp. account. Meantime, the big auditing firms are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in damages - without admitting or denying wrongdoing - to settle assorted charges of professional malpractice.

Individual penance is another matter, however, and here the accountants aren't being held so accountable.

Part of the trouble is that there doesn't appear to be an established system of communication by which the SEC automatically notifies state accounting regulators of federal disciplinary actions. In several instances, state accounting boards were unaware a licensee had been disciplined by the SEC until it was brought to their attention in the reporting for this column. The SEC says it refers all disciplinary actions to the relevant state boards, so the cause of any breakdowns in these communications is unclear.

Another obstacle may be that some state boards do not have ample resources to tackle the sudden swell of financial scandals. It's not as if, for example, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy had ever before dealt with an accounting fraud as vast as that perpetrated at Houston-based Enron.

"We don't have the staff on board to manage the extra workload that the profession has been confronted with over the last few years," said William Treacy, executive director of the Texas board. "So we contracted with the attorney general's office to provide extra prosecutorial power."

Treacy said his office is usually notified of SEC actions concerning Texas-licensed CPAs, but the process isn't automatic.

With other states, communications from the SEC appear less certain. If nothing else, many boards rely upon license renewals to learn about SEC actions, but that only works if the applicants respond truthfully to questions about whether they've been disciplined by any federal or state agency. A spokeswoman for Georgia's board said one CPA recently disciplined by the SEC had renewed his license online without disclosing it.

Ransom Jones, CPA-Investigator for the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, said most of his leads come from other accountants, media reports and annual registrations.

"The SEC doesn't necessarily notify the board," said Jones, whose agency revoked the licenses of key players in the scandal at Mississippi-based WorldCom.

Some state boards appear more vigilant than others in policing their membership. The boards in California and Ohio have punished most of their licensees who have been disciplined by the SEC since the start of 2005.

New York regulators haven't yet penalized any locals targeted by the SEC in that timeframe, though they have taken action against two disciplined by the SEC's new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. It is conceivable that cases are underway but not yet disclosed, or that some individuals have been cleared despite the SEC's findings. A spokesman for the New York State Education Department said all SEC referrals are probed, but not all forms of misconduct are punishable under local statute. New rules now under consideration would strengthen those disciplinary powers, he said.

Meanwhile, although the SEC deserves credit for de-penciling those CPAs who've breached their duties as gatekeepers of financial integrity, barely any of those individuals have been asked to make amends financially.

No doubt, except for those elevated to CEO or CFO, most accountants are not paid as handsomely as the corporate elite. That said, partners from top accounting firms are were [sic] paid well enough to cough up more than the SEC has sought, which in most cases has been zero.

Earlier this year, in what the SEC crowed about as a landmark settlement, three partners for KPMG LLP agreed to pay a combined $400,000 in fines regarding a $1.2 billion fraud at Xerox Corp. One of those fined still holds his license in New York.

"The SEC has never sought serious money from errant CPAs," said David Nolte of Fulcrum Financial Inquiry LLP. "Unfortunately, the small fines in the Xerox case set a record of the amount paid, so everyone else has also gotten off easy."

It's not that the CPAs found culpable in scandals don't deserve a right to redemption, or just to earn a living. Most of the bans against practicing before the SEC are temporary, spanning anywhere from a year to 10 years.

But the presumed deterrent of SEC action is weakened if federal and state regulators don't work together on a consistent message so bad actors don't get a free pass at the local level.

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor fraud and incompetence are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#IncompetentAudits

Bob Jensen's thread on proposed reforms are at

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

Latest Headlines on June 29, 2006

Latest Headlines on July 1, 2006

Latest Headlines on July 12, 2006


Is morning sickness a good thing during pregnancy?

A British study says nausea and vomiting caused by "morning sickness" is nature's way of protecting mother and baby from food poisoning. It also shields the fetus from chemicals that can deform their organs, The London Telegraph reported.
"Morning sickness protects mom and baby," PhysOrg, July 13, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news71991746.html

Are short legs correlated with Type II diabetes?

Not per se, although there is a newly-discovered correlation with leg/height ratios.

In their study, Asao and colleagues checked data from a U.S. health survey given from 1988-1994. Participants included about 3,600 men and 3,800 women aged 40 to 74 years (average age: about 55 years). The nationally representative survey included physical exams and lab tests. During those checkups, participants' height and leg length were measured. Being short didn't affect diabetes risk, after adjusting for other factors. But having a low leg-to-height ratio was associated with a slightly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, based on blood sugar tests given during the checkups, even after weighing other risk factors.
Miranda Hitti, "Short Legs Linked to Type 2 Diabetes?" WebMD, July 12, 2006 --- http://www.webmd.com/content/article/124/115766

What is Cyberkinetics?

Cyberkinetics, one of the leading companies figuring out how to connect the human brain to a computer, published new results in the journal Nature today. The study, which was featured on the cover on the July 13 issue of the journal, detailed their pilot trial with a 25-year-old quadriplegic who was able to control a computer as well as robotic devices through his thoughts. Cyberkinetics' BrainGate brain-computer interface system detected his brain waves, allowing him to control a computer and robotic devices.
"Brain-Computer Tech Progresses," Wired News, July 12, 2006 --- http://blog.wired.com/biotech/#1519756

Neuroscientists dream of creating neural prosthetics that would allow paralyzed patients to regain control over their arms and legs. While that goal is still far off, researchers at Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital are reporting a promising step forward. In a study published in the journal Nature this week, the researchers describe how two paralyzed patients with a surgically implanted neural device successfully controlled a computer and, in one case, a robotic arm -- using only their minds. [Click here to see videos of the patient controlling a computer cursor and a prosthetic hand.]
Emily Singer,
"Brain Chips Give Paralyzed Patients New Powers:  A neural implant allows paralyzed patients to control computers and robotic arms -- and, maybe one day, their own limbs," MIT's Technology Review, July 13, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17163&ch=biotech

"Sleep deprivation doubles risks of obesity in both children and adults," PhysOrg, July 12, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news71941561.html

The Center for the Study of College Student Mental Health is being created at Pennsylvania State University. The center will seek to collect and publicize current information about the mental health of students so that campus counseling centers have the most up-to-date data.
Inside Higher Ed, June 29, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/06/29/qt

iVillage Diet and Fitness --- http://diet.ivillage.com/

WebMD's diet and fitness (under the Healthy Living Tab) --- http://www.webmd.com/

Bob Jensen's diet and fitness helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Diets

Camera Phones Help Fight Bulge
Sprint cell-phone subscribers can sign up for MyFoodPhone, a service that gives diet advice when users e-mail cell-phone photographs of their meals and post details of their dietary habits online. The $10 monthly service (plus photo transfer fees) has been available on Sprint's website for a few months and officially launched in May. In about a month it should be available to all U.S. cell-phone customers. If current statistics are any indication, MyFoodPhone has plenty of potential customers. According to the CDC's 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults over age 20 are overweight and a third of these are considered obese.
Rachel Metz, "Camera Phones Help Fight Bulge," Wired News, June 27, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,71102-0.html?tw=wn_index_4

"Lightning poses a threat to people who use mobile phones out of doors during a thunderstorm, according to a case study reported in this week's British Medical Journal," PhysOrg, June 23, 2006 ---

"Health Tip: Varicose Veins May Not Need Treatment:  But talk to your doctor if you have pain," HealthDay, June 27, 2006 --- http://www.healthday.com/view.cfm?id=533404

Varicose veins, also known as spider veins, look dark blue or purple under the skin. They may also appear as twisted clumps of veins that may cause the skin above them to harden and swell.

Although many people with varicose veins don't have any other symptoms, the Cleveland Clinic says that some people may have swelling or pain in the legs, itching, soreness or aching. Some skin discoloration may also occur.

Varicose veins occur most often among women, and may be influenced by a number of factors. Being older, overweight, and having a job that requires standing all day may contribute to varicose veins. Other factors may be heredity, crossing the legs often, using birth control pills, or use of post-menopausal hormone therapies.

Treatment may not be necessary, according to the clinic, unless you are experiencing pain. Support hose may help reduce symptoms in some people, and lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercise, and getting off your feet may also help.

"Allergy battle could be won in five years, says scientist," PhysOrg, July 12, 2006 ---

Allergies such as asthma, eczema and hay fever could be snuffed out within five years thanks to pioneering work at The University of Manchester.

Researchers, working with colleagues at St George’s, University of London, are developing drugs designed to stop allergens from entering the body, so rendering them harmless.

Professor David Garrod said the research – recently shortlisted for the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s Bionow Project of the Year – takes a completely new approach to the treatment and prevention of allergies.

“The technology is based on our earlier discovery of how allergens, the substances that cause allergy, enter the body through the surface layer of cells that protect the skin and the tubes of the lungs,” he said.

“Allergens from pollen or house dust mites are inhaled and then dissolve the binding material between the cells that form these protective linings; they can then enter the body by passing between the cells to cause an allergic response.

“The drugs we are developing – called Allergen Delivery Inhibitors (ADIs) – are designed to disable these allergens so they can no longer eat through the protective cell layer and block the allergic reaction before it occurs.

“The effect will be like avoiding allergens altogether. Removing carpets and rigorous cleaning of homes are established ways to avoid allergens, but they are only partially effective because their effects do not ‘travel’ with allergy sufferers.
"Allergy battle could be won in five years, says,"

Continued in article


Can removing a hemisphere of the brain save a child ?

"THE DEEPEST CUT:  How can someone live with only half a brain?" by Christine Kenneally, The New Yorker, July 3, 2006 --- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060703fa_fact

A New Take on the Body Clock
Some drug companies developing treatments for jet lag, insomnia, and depression might be on the wrong track.A new study suggests that we may have to reverse our current understanding of the mechanism underlying circadian rhythms -- the internal body clock that regulates everything from our wake cycles to hormone production and heart rate. If correct, this would have profound implications for any drugs being developed on the basis of our previous understanding. "They are going to be effective in the opposite direction," says David Virshup, who carried out the study together with colleagues at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.
Duncan Graham-Rowe, "A New Take on the Body Clock:  Hamsters and mathematical modeling provide new insight into our daily cycles," MIT's Technology Review, July 12, 2006 ---


This begs the question of whether learning beats sex and/or bar stools?

From Jim Mahar's Blog on June 21, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Addicted to learning?

Ok, so this is not strictly finance, it is very interesting and would probably explain my ADhD. LOL..

Science Daily:
"The "click" of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California. He presents his theory in an invited article in the latest issue of American Scientist.

"While you're trying to understand a difficult theorem, it's not fun," said Biederman, professor of neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

"But once you get it, you just feel fabulous."

The brain's craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge, he said.

"I think we're exquisitely tuned to this as if we're junkies, second by second."

Now if I can just get my students addicted to the finance version of this "drug".

However, Bierderman also found a reason for jumping from one thing to another (MY PROBLEM!):


"Biederman also found that repeated viewing of an attractive image lessened both the rating of pleasure and the activity in the opioid-rich areas. In his article, he explains this familiar experience with a neural-network model termed "competitive learning."

In competitive learning (also known as "Neural Darwinism"), the first presentation of an image activates many neurons, some strongly and a greater number only repetition of the image, the connections to the strongly activated neurons grow in strength. But the strongly activated neurons inhibit their weakly activated neighbors, causing a net reduction in activity. This reduction in activity, Biederman's research shows, parallels the decline in the pleasure felt during repeated viewing."

I was kicking myself last night for "wasting" so much time reading/ristening and even blogging about things that are not finance related (for example uploading pictures, writing on nutrition for the Park and Shop Blog, hurricane recovery efforts, and then even more random stuff on my Yahoo 360 blog). While I guess it is better than sitting around watching TV (or drinking and doing drugs etc), it is not helping finish any of the three papers I had told myself I would have done by July 4 (1 basically done, 1 maybe 1/2, 1 not close)!

But at least I have an excuse now ;)


What donations to Harvard have been halted or put on hold to date since the "forced" resignation of Lawrence Summers as President?

"Summers's Supporters Withhold $390 Million From Harvard," by Zachary Seward, The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115275908764105412.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

The fallout from Lawrence H. Summers's resignation as president of Harvard University has now hit the school's pocketbook, impairing the largest fund-raising operation in higher education.

At least four major donations to Harvard, totaling $390 million, have been scrapped or put on hold since Mr. Summers announced his resignation in February, according to people familiar with the matter.

The donors, who were supportive of Mr. Summers and elements of his vision for Harvard, have separately indicated that they won't contribute while the university is without a permanent leader. Under attack from arts and sciences faculty, Mr. Summers left office on June 30, and was succeeded on an interim basis by a former Harvard president, Derek C. Bok.

A Harvard official wouldn't comment on specific donations. "It is quite normal in situations of leadership transition in any not-for-profit organization for donors who are considering very major gifts to wait for a new leader to be in place before finalizing and announcing a major commitment," said Donella Rapier, Harvard director of development.

Ms. Rapier said Harvard's fund raising in fiscal 2006, which ended June 30, "continued to be quite strong into the fourth quarter," but said she didn't have year-end numbers yet.

Three of the withheld gifts would have been the largest in Harvard's history. They included $100 million from media mogul Mortimer Zuckerman to fund a neuroscience institute that has generated intense interest among Harvard researchers, and $100 million from Richard A. Smith, a former member of Harvard's governing board, to fund a 500,000-square-foot science complex planned for a new campus in Boston's Allston neighborhood.

At least one of the contributions was to be announced this spring: $75 million from David Rockefeller, the banker and philanthropist, to fund study-abroad trips for every Harvard undergraduate in need of financial assistance, a key element in Mr. Summers's plan to expand Harvard's global scope. Instead, Mr. Rockefeller downgraded his gift to $10 million, announced in May, for Harvard's existing Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

[Donor Dissent]







Also, as previously reported, Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison recently reneged on a $115 million gift, citing Mr. Summers's departure.

The lost contributions amount to two-thirds of what Harvard raised in fiscal 2005, when the school was the third-largest fund-raiser in higher education. It's unclear exactly how close some of the gifts were to materializing, but all had been in negotiations for several years, said people familiar with them.

Even for Harvard, which led all U.S. universities with a $25.9 billion endowment as of June 30, 2005, the loss of such huge gifts could be seen as a significant setback. Adding to the blow, the gifts were to fund initiatives -- from study abroad to scientific research -- at the very top of the university's priorities.

The donor reaction may make other universities with smaller endowments think twice before casting off controversial presidents with strong alumni followings, and may elevate the impact of graduates in future power struggles at U.S. colleges between administrators and faculty.

Mr. Rockefeller declined to comment on his negotiations with Harvard. His spokesman, Fraser Seitel, said, "Mr. Rockefeller regrets that Larry Summers won't be leading Harvard in the future, but he continues to have great confidence in the university, and he does look forward to working with the new president when he or she is named."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the "Appearance Versus the Reality of Research Independence and Freedom" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ResearchIndependence


France has toppled the US as the world's top (head butting?) investor abroad

"France 'is top overseas investor'," Al Jazeera, June 28, 2006 ---

France has toppled the US as the world's top investor abroad in 2005, a Paris-based trade body says.

Britain, widely regarded as a place to buy companies without running into government objections, was the country that drew in the most foreign direct investment, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in a report on Wednesday.

Foreign direct investment into the 30 mostly industrialised OECD countries rose 27% to $622 billion in 2005, and the rise was strong in non-OECD countries such as China and India.

"This ... is the highest level of inflows since the previous investment boom petered out in 2001," the OECD said.

The year 2005 was also the fourth best year on record, with direct inward investment buoyed by high company profits, low interest rates, high liquidity and corporate share prices as well as a penchant for cross-border investment in property, it said.

Continued in article

The only things worse than weather data are accounting data
On a Web site promoting the awareness week, a fact sheet filled with exclamatory lightning stats says, "Lightning Kills About 100 People In The U.S. Each Year!" But another page states, "In the United States, an average of 66 people are killed each year by lightning." And the National Weather Service's own stats show that, over the past 10 years, the average number of lightning fatalities has been 45. Deaths haven't topped 53 in a single year since 1996.
Carl Bialak, "Lightning Stats Are Partly Cloudy," The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/numbers_guy.html

From the Scout Report on June 23, 2006

After Welfare [Real Player, Macromedia Flash Player] http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/welfare/

Over the past few years, the American RadioWorks has raised the bar for like-minded radio documentary programs, producing thought-provoking and insightful studies on topics such as, Congressional reform, intelligent design, and international adoption programs. In this recently released documentary, John Biewen has created this introspective look into the world of welfare reform in the United States, and how it has affected the lives of five different women and their families. The women profiled come from a host of different backgrounds, and visitors may be surprised at some of the findings that Biewen presents in the documentary. The site also includes an interactive feature that allows users to find out how their own state ranks in terms of welfare and foodstamp recipients, welfare check sizes, time limits, and unemployment rates. Visitors can also look over a list of additional external links of interest and also read the complete transcript of the program.

Penny Illustrated Paper --- http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/collections/pip/

In our own time, daily newspapers and other such materials provide news, entertainment, gossip, and other such items that seem to both delight and offend many segments of the populace. While it may be hard to believe, the media landscape was once rather devoid of such rags, and the Penny Illustrated was one of the first to hang its journalistic shingle out there, in a matter of speaking. Published between 1861 and 1913, the paper’s publication was "With all the news of the week", and readers were certainly not disappointed, as it contained a number of sections dealing with sports, recreations, and "Foreign News". Recently, the "Collect Britain" project at The British Library digitized the entire run of the paper, and placed it online at this website. Visitors can browse through the complete run at their leisure, or they may also wish to look over some of the paper selected as a "Curator’s Choice".

StudioLine Photo Basic 3.4.13 --- http://www.studioline.biz/EN/products/overview-photo-basic/default.htm

Summer is upon us, and it is certainly a time to make a visual record of family gatherings, trips to the Atlas Mountains, or other such occasions.

StudioLine Photo Basic 3.4.13 is a good way to organize such photographic memories, as users can sort their images into albums and folders, and also utilize some of their 30 image tools to modify their existing images. These tools can assist with exposure problems and the seemingly omnipresent specter of red-eye. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

NetVeda Safety. Net 3.62 --- http://www.netveda.com/consumer/safetynet.htm

The idea behind the NetVeda Safety Net application is a simple one: to allow users to control access to certain websites on their computer and to maintain firewall protection in the process. Users of the application can define user access based on the time of day and for content, if they so desire. As might be expected, the application also contains privacy controls that block the sending of personal information and that can also generate activity reports. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 95 and newer.

Law Enforcement Technology --- http://www.officer.com/publication/pub.jsp?pubId=1

From The Washington Post on June 28, 2006

EBay made two large acquisitions last year, Skype and what other company?

A. Amazon.com
B. MySpace
C. PayPal
D. Shopping.com

Supply Side Economics Update

"Soaking the Rich," The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2006; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115266525660504120.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

Yesterday's political flurry over the falling budget deficit shows that even Washington can't avoid the obvious forever: to wit, the gusher of revenues flowing into the Treasury in the wake of the 2003 tax cuts. The trend has been obvious for more than a year (see our May 23, 2005, editorial, "Revenues Rising"), but now it's so large that Republicans are trying to take credit while Democrats explain it away.

Republicans do deserve some credit, though not exactly the way they're claiming. Democrats are right that the White House February estimate of a $423 billion budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2006 was inflated, perhaps to be able to claim progress later this election year. Also not very important is the White House claim that it has already met its second-term goal of "cutting the deficit in half." That was always a minor and political ambition.

[Supply Side Windfall]






The real news, and where the policy credit belongs, is with the 2003 tax cuts. They've succeeded even beyond Art Laffer's dreams, if that's possible. In the nine quarters preceding that cut on dividend and capital gains rates and in marginal income-tax rates, economic growth averaged an annual 1.1%. In the 12 quarters -- three full years -- since the tax cut passed, growth has averaged a remarkable 4%. Monetary policy has also fueled this expansion, but the tax cuts were perfectly targeted to improve the incentives to take risks among businesses shell-shocked by the dot-com collapse, 9/11 and Sarbanes-Oxley.

This growth in turn has produced a record flood of tax revenues, just as the most ebullient supply-siders predicted. In the first nine months of fiscal 2006, tax revenues have climbed by $206 billion, or nearly 13%. As the Congressional Budget Office recently noted, "That increase represents the second-highest rate of growth for that nine-month period in the past 25 years" -- exceeded only by the year before. For all of fiscal 2005, revenues rose by $274 billion, or 15%. We should add that CBO itself failed to anticipate this revenue boom, as the nearby table shows. Maybe its economists should rethink their models.

Remember the folks who said the tax cuts would "blow a hole in the deficit?" Well, revenues as a share of the economy are now expected to rise this year to 18.3%, slightly above the modern historical average of 18.2%. The remaining budget deficit of a little under $300 billion will be about 2.3% of GDP, which is smaller than in 17 of the previous 25 years. Throw in the surpluses rolling into the states, and the overall U.S. "fiscal deficit" is now economically trivial.

This would all seem to be good news, but some folks are never happy. The same crowd that said the tax cuts wouldn't work, and predicted fiscal doom, are now harrumphing that the revenues reflect a windfall for "the rich." We suppose that's right if by rich they mean the millions of Americans moving into higher tax brackets because their paychecks are increasing.

Individual income tax payments are up 14.1% this year, and "nonwithheld" individual tax payments (reflecting capital gains, among other things) are up 20%. Because of the tax cuts, the still highly progressive U.S. tax code is soaking the rich. Since when do liberals object to a windfall for the government?

The other favorite line of critics yesterday was summed up by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, who said the deficit would still "explode" in the long term because of the "coming retirement of the baby boom generation." But this is a political bait-and-switch. When Senator Conrad had the chance to do something about the "long term" by reforming Social Security in 2005, he refused. But now that the tax cuts he opposed are reducing the short-term deficit, he's back to fretting about the long term. At least Mr. Conrad is consistent in wanting a tax increase.

There surely is a long-term budget problem, driven largely by fast-growing entitlements for seniors. Federal spending is still climbing by 8.6% this year, with Medicare alone growing at an astonishing rate of 15.5%, or $33 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year (which ends September 30). Thank the GOP prescription drug benefit for that future taxpayer burden. The only solution to the entitlement problem, short or long term, is to reform both Medicare and Social Security.

As for the 2003 tax cuts, the current revenue boom is one more argument for making them permanent. They are now set to expire in 2010, and, even if they are extended, federal revenues will continue to climb as a share of GDP as more taxpayers earn higher incomes and move into higher tax brackets. If liberal Democrats are really determined to soak the rich -- and we don't doubt it for a second -- they'll also vote to make the tax cuts permanent.

Continued in article

"Has String Theory Tied Up Better Ideas In Field of Physics?" by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/science_journal.html

Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli didn't suffer fools gladly. Fond of calling colleagues' work "wrong" or "completely wrong," he saved his worst epithet for work so sloppy and speculative it is "not even wrong."

That's how mathematician Peter Woit of Columbia University describes string theory. In his book, "Not Even Wrong," published in the U.K. this month and due in the U.S. in September, he calls the theory "a disaster for physics."

A year or two ago, that would have been a fringe opinion, motivated by sour grapes over not sitting at physics' equivalent of the cool kids' table. But now, after two decades in which string theory has been the doyenne of best-seller lists and the dominant paradigm in particle physics, Mr. Woit has company.

"When it comes to extending our knowledge of the laws of nature, we have made no real headway" in 30 years, writes physicist Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada, in his book, "The Trouble with Physics," also due in September. "It's called hitting the wall."

He blames string theory for this "crisis in particle physics," the branch of physics that tries to explain the most fundamental forces and building blocks of the world.

String theory, which took off in 1984, posits that elementary particles such as electrons are not points, as standard physics had it. They are, instead, vibrations of one-dimensional strings 1/100 billion billionth the size of an atomic nucleus. Different vibrations supposedly produce all the subatomic particles from quarks to gluons. Oh, and strings exist in a space of 10, or maybe 11, dimensions. No one knows exactly what or where the extra dimensions are, but assuming their existence makes the math work.

String theory, proponents said, could reconcile quantum mechanics (the physics of subatomic particles) and gravity, the longest-distance force in the universe. That impressed particle physicists to no end. In the 1980s, most jumped on the string bandwagon and since then, stringsters have written thousands of papers.

But one thing they haven't done is coax a single prediction from their theory. In fact, "theory" is a misnomer, since unlike general relativity theory or quantum theory, string theory is not a concise set of solvable equations describing the behavior of the physical world. It's more of an idea or a framework.

Partly as a result, string theory "makes no new predictions that are testable by current -- or even currently conceivable -- experiments," writes Prof. Smolin. "The few clean predictions it does make have already been made by other" theories.

Worse, the equations of string theory have myriad solutions, an extreme version of how the algebraic equation X squared equals four has two solutions (2 and -2). The solutions arise from the fact that there are so many ways to "compactify" its extra dimensions -- to roll them up so you get the three spatial dimensions of the real world. With more than 10 raised to 500th power (1 followed by 500 zeros) ways to compactify, there are that many possible universes.

"There is no good insight into which is more likely," concedes physicist Michael Peskin of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

If string theory made a prediction that didn't accord with physical reality, stringsters could say it's correct in one of these other universes. As a result, writes Prof. Smolin, "string theory cannot be disproved." By the usual standards, that would rule it out as science.

String theory isn't any more wrong than preons, twistor theory, dynamical triangulations, or other physics fads. But in those cases, physicists saw the writing on the wall and moved on. Not so in string theory.

"What is strange is that string theory has survived past the point where it should have been clear that it wouldn't work," says Mr. Woit. Not merely survived, but thrived. Virtually every young mathematically inclined particle theorist must sign on to the string agenda to get an academic job. By his count, of 22 recently tenured professors in particle theory at the six top U.S. departments, 20 are string theorists.

One physicist commented on Mr. Woit's blog that Ph.D. students who choose mathematical theory topics that "are non-string are seriously harming their career prospects."

To be fair, string theory can claim some success. A 1985 paper showed that if you compactify extra dimensions in a certain way, the number of quarks and leptons you get is exactly the number found in nature. "This is the only idea out there for why the number of quarks and leptons is what it is," says Prof. Peskin. Still, that is less a prediction of string theory than a consequence.

If fewer physicists were tied to strings might some of the enduring mysteries of the universe be solved? Might we know why there is more matter than antimatter? Why the proton's mass is 1,836 times the electron's? Why the 18 key numbers in the standard model of fundamental particles have the values they do?

"With smart people pursuing these questions, more might have been answered," says Mr. Woit. "Too few really good people have been working on anything other than string theory."

That string theory abandoned testable predictions may be its ultimate betrayal of science.

Flashback from The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 1946

Junior soon may get a smaller bar of candy for his nickel, but there's a good chance he can get more jelly beans and penny items. That's the way candy manufacturers, in Chicago for their first post-war convention, size up the

Aids for Teaching English as a Second Language

The (free) Internet TESL Journal --- http://iteslj.org/

From The Washington Post on June 27, 2006

Digital entertainment exports contribute to what percent of the U.S. gross domestic product?

A. 6%
B. 12%
C. 18%
D. 24%

"It's Time to Reduce the Tangle of Wires We Use for Gadgets," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115154263155593754.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

He then ventured a guess as to why Sony and others sell so many different chargers and adapters: "I have a sneaking suspicion it's because the last three years, the most profitable business at Sony was the component division," which makes such accessories. When the crowd laughed, he said: "I'm serious."

The conversation led me to look at the tangled collection of cables and chargers -- and spare batteries -- I lug around everywhere, and ask why there isn't much more standardization of these things. We are decades into the portable-electronics revolution. These aren't novel devices anymore. Why aren't there widely observed industry standards for the batteries and electrical chargers for these gadgets?

The problem is threefold. First, batteries, unlike in many analog devices, aren't held to common standards and aren't interchangeable. Next, electrical adapters and charger cables vary widely. Last, plugs and sockets for the cables, unlike those for electric appliances or phones, aren't universal.

Besides Mr. Stringer's answer that there are big profits in selling cables and batteries, with margins that can exceed those of the gadgets they power, there is another major reason. Some companies see the size, shape and weight of their batteries and chargers as a competitive design advantage.

Motorola's superslim Razr phone wouldn't be as svelte if it used the same battery as a conventional phone. Lenovo's slender electrical adapters are a plus for its ThinkPad laptops over the bulkier ones of its competitors. The sleek laptops from makers like Sony and Apple depend on special battery designs.

But the profusion of batteries and adapters goes well beyond a few extra-cool models. Dell's Web site lists 57 different power adapters for its laptops and 61 different laptop batteries. Most of these laptops are unremarkable commodity models, similar to many competitive machines.

The Nokia Web site lists pages of batteries and adapters for its cellphones. Some are so expensive that Nokia posts a prominent notice saying, "a new Nokia phone may cost you less than a battery, after rebates, with a new wireless-service plan."

It seems to me that the majority of common laptops, cameras and phones could evolve toward using a few standard battery and charger designs that could be made by third-party battery companies and sold at drugstores. I'm talking about the large category of devices that aren't aimed at the small, high-end sliver of the market willing to pay more for ultraslim or unusual designs. Those elite models might still use special batteries and chargers, but why can't 80% of these things use standard parts?

And there's no reason at all I can discern, other than greed or stubbornness, why even different chargers and adapters can't use the same connectors or jacks. Last week, my wife bought a new Sprint Samsung phone to replace one only a couple of years old. The salesman told her the new phone would work with her existing travel and car chargers. But when she opened the box, she discovered it had an entirely different connector for the charger, and that she'd have to buy new ones.

Similarly, I recently replaced my old PowerBook laptop from Apple with a new MacBook Pro model. It uses a totally different charger with a new magnetic connector that's supposed to break away when you trip over the power cord, instead of pulling the laptop onto the floor. It's a good idea, but not so valuable -- for me, at least -- as to be worth tossing out the several spare Apple laptop chargers I had bought for travel and for various locations around the house. New spare chargers cost $79 each.

There are some third-party products, like Mobility Electronics' iGo, that function as universal chargers and power adapters for all of your gadgets. They have multiple cables and accept a variety of tips that fit different connectors. But the tips for your particular device can be hard to find and easy to lose.

We need fewer types of connectors, cables and batteries, not more accessories to buy.

Continued in article

New Laws and Regulations for Financing a College Education

For parents and their children preparing for college, there are new rules and tax laws about college funding and financial aid eligibility that could have a big impact how those students and their parents fare financially. Even more complicated, those rules are changing every year. If parents and their dependent students learn how to make the right moves in the college financing game, the average family could potentially lower college costs by thousands of dollars over the four year period their child is in college. Win or lose – it’s how you play the game.
"College-bound Money: It’s How to Play the Game," PR Web, June 26, 2006 --- http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/6/prweb402430.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing of course materials by prestigious universities are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

How popular are these open sharing sites?

June 26, 2006 message from Jagdish S. Gangolly [gangolly@INFOTOC.COM]


I wanted to pitch for an article by my good friend and colleague, Terry Maxwell:

"Universities, Information Ownership, and Knowledge Communities"

The Journal of the Association of History and Computing http://www.mcel.pacificu.edu/JAHC/JAHCVII2/ARTICLES/maxwell/maxwell.html

Here is the teaser:


The recent decision by MIT to post the information from all its 2,000 courses free to the Web has generated tremendous excitement online, with more than 42 million hits recorded in the first month, according to MIT statistics 1.

The project, entitled OpenCourseWare, was initiated by MIT professors and funded by $11 million in grants from two foundations. As of March, 2004, 700 courses, encompassing all five schools and two-thirds of the faculty on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus, have been added to the site (ocw.mit.edu).

The project did not start as an effort to populate the information commons. On the contrary, in 1999, Robert Brown, MIT's provost, asked a faculty committee to study the idea for an online for-profit equivalent to the physical school.

However, after researching the issue, the faculty committee concluded that a profit-making venture was not viable, suggesting instead that the university and its faculty make its course material available for free online 2.

As reported by Charles Vest 2, the university's president, the OpenCourseWare initiative has had impacts both inside and outside the university. Within MIT, professors have begun using one another's materials to supplement their own teaching efforts, and are discovering interdisciplinary connections that could lead to new innovations inside the institution. Outside the university, MIT alumni, interested individuals, and other educators from around the world are using the courseware as a means to keep current in their fields and as models for new courses and curriculum.

The effort has generated interest in other areas, particularly among Intellectual Property legal commentators, who questioned the relationship between faculty-generated course notes and university property rights 3. Given the fact that the project is faculty-initiated and voluntary, intellectual property issues in the curricular area between the university and professors have not yet come to a head at MIT. However, the project has had to navigate the murky waters of copyright in other respects, particularly with regard to the negotiation for permissions with other information providers 4.

Nevertheless, the project still leaves open the question of the relative information rights of professors and universities.

In addition, it raises broader questions of the roles both of professional disciplines and the institutional structures developed to support them in a technological world in which traditional boundaries between information transformation, production, and dissemination are under strain. The following attempts to lay out some of the relevant issues, focusing particularly on the role of the university in an online world.

A Brief Look at the University in Society

Lying at the center of questions about university and academic information ownership is a deeply contested vision of the role of both scholarship and the institutions designed to support research. Do scholars labor primarily as individual authors and inventors, or are they members of what Enlightenment scholars termed a res publica, loosely defined as a republic of ideas operating beyond institutional and political boundaries? Are universities places of sanctuary for ideas, separated from the marketplace, or information dissemination institutions situated squarely in the market?

In her book "Who Owns Academic Work?," Corynne McSherry 5 traces the history of modern American universities and makes a strong case that these questions are largely unanswerable, because they assume a stability in self-conception that is historically missing. She argues that medieval universities and guilds were primarily envisioned as mechanisms for monopoly control over ideas, with the former focusing on professional control and the latter on control over invention. With the coming of the Enlightenment, voluntary academic societies sought to break down university monopolies on knowledge, constructing a meritocracy based on open communication and communal enquiry, and existing in cooperation with the growing commercial marketplace. At the institutional level, nineteenth-century German conceptions of the university, based on Kant's ideas in Conflict of the Faculties, envisioned the university as a place apart from the marketplace, yet poised to provide knowledge based on reason to political rulers. In the United States, German models of scholarly independence blended with the British tradition of liberal arts and informed citizenship, leading to a tension between disinterested scholarship and community. This admixture was further complicated by the presence of private schools funded through religious and other associations sitting cheek-and-jowl to land-grant public universities, developed to provide practical assistance in the development of new agricultural and mechanical techniques.

By the twentieth century, the split between theoretical and practical knowledge within universities was institutionalized through a separation of faculties of arts and science from engineering and professional school. At the same time, the continued compartmentalization of knowledge into disciplines supported the rise of self-contained academic communities with different standards of scholarship and practice.

To support the engagement of the university in the marketplace, during the 1920's several American universities, particularly those with large engineering components, inaugurated small offices dedicated to technology transfer, particularly the processing of patent applications for professors. However, in a major shift, the end of the Second World War saw a major increase in government grant programs for basic research, insulating the academy from a necessity to rely on private funding sources and enhancing the traditional notion of universities as the preferred site for basic objective research separate from the commercial marketplace. At the same time, a greater integration of the university into public life occurred, with the provision of GI Bill grants to returning members of the military. University enrollments doubled during the next 15 years, doubling again within another 8 years.

By the 1990s, the position of universities within society began to shift again. Federal funding for research slowed, along with other public financing sources. Pressure developed to seek private financing through partnerships with foundations and corporations. Universities undertook attempts at more aggressive management of intellectual assets, often bringing them into conflict with academic communities. The rise of the Internet signaled the potential for developing new resource streams through the development of online courses and degrees, but no one was sure where the dividing line stood between individual and institutional ownership of course materials.

Academic publishing, long a backwater in the publishing industry, showed strong growth and consolidation as publishers embraced electronic dissemination and new models of product bundling.

Here is another Terry Maxwell piece:

Toward a Model of Information Policy Analysis: Speech as an Illustrative Example by Terrence A. Maxwell FM10 Openness http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_6/maxwell/


Jagdish S. Gangolly
email: gangolly@infotoc.com

Fax: 831-584-1896
skype: gangolly

URL: www.infotoc.com
Blog: http://www.bloglines.com/blog/gangolly

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing of course materials by prestigious universities are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Bob Jensen's threads on copyright issues and the horrible DMCA are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright

Sharing from Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department --- http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/

Educators who do not choose to freely share their course materials may try to sell them to other educators online --- http://teacherspayteachers.com/

And now we can harness the internet's strengths in order to bypass the educational publishing conglomerates and help ourselves. Here, we will pay each other for our teaching materials and evaluate one another's work with ratings and comments.

  • As sellers, creative teachers will get credit and income for their ideas.
  • As buyers, teachers will save huge amounts of time and use the best teacher-created, teacher-tested practical materials available.
And the real winners will be our students. They deserve what our best can create -- you can post and find it here. Teachers paying teachers, an idea whose time has come.

June 29, 2006 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]


Entrepreneur and former public school teacher Paul Edelman has created Teacherspayteachers.com, an website where teachers can sell lesson plans that they have created. Sellers pay an annual fee, set their own prices, and 15% of each sale goes to Edelman. Currently, almost all of the lesson plans cover K-12-level subjects, but the site already includes some university-level materials covering math, history, and criminology. To view the site's lesson plan collection, go to http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

For more information, read "High-School Teachers Can Buy and Sell Lessons at an eBay-Like Website." http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17043 

For critical comment on the service, see TeachBay. http://dhawhee.blogs.com/d_hawhee/2006/02/teachbay.html 

Jensen Comment
Capitalist that I am, I think there are too many externalities connected with education materials for treating materials that can be distributed virtually free (via modern technology) like capitalist goods and services. I encourage that more consideration be given to free open-sharing of course materials.

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing of course materials by prestigious universities are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

June 27, 2006 tidbit from the Issues in Scholarly Communications Blog at the University of Illinois --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/

Academic Journal Trends

A survey of 400 academic journal publishers done by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers found that:

* 90 percent of the journals are now available online
* A fifth of the publishers are experimenting with open access journals
* 40 percent of publishers use previous print subscriptions as the base for pricing for bundles
* Most publishers make agreements for either one year or three years
* 91 percent of publishers make back volumes available online; 20 percent charge for access to back volumes
* 42 percent have established formal arrangements for the long-term preservation of their journals
* 83 percent require authors to transfer copyright in their articles to the publisher

Can History Be Open Source?

Roy Rosenzweig, a history professor at George Mason University and colleague of the institute, recently published a very good article on Wikipedia from the perspective of a historian. "Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past" as a historian's analysis complements the discussion from the important but different lens of journalists and scientists. Therefore, Rosenzweig focuses on, not just factual accuracy, but also the quality of prose and the historical context of entry subjects. He begins with in depth overview of how Wikipedia was created by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger and describes their previous attempts to create a free online encyclopedia. Wales and Sanger's first attempt at a vetted resource, called Nupedia, sheds light on how from the very beginning of the project, vetting and reliability of authorship were at the forefront of the creators.

Rosenzweig adds to a growing body of research trying to determine the accuracy of Wikipedia, in his comparative analysis of it with other online history references, along similar lines of the Nature study. He compares entries in Wikipedia with Microsoft's online resource Encarta and American National Biography Online out of the Oxford University Press and the American Council of Learned Societies. Where Encarta is for a mass audience, American National Biography Online is a more specialized history resource. Rosenzweig takes a sample of 52 entries from the 18,000 found in ANBO and compares them with entries in Encarta and Wikipeida. In coverage, Wikipedia contain more of from the sample than Encarta. Although the length of the articles didn't reach the level of ANBO, Wikipedia articles were more lengthy than the entries than Encarta. Further, in terms of accuracy, Wikipedia and Encarta seem basically on par with each other, which confirms a similar conclusion (although debated) that the Nature study reached in its comparison of Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The discussion gets more interesting when Rosenzweig discusses the effect of collaborative writing in more qualitative ways.

From the Scout Report on June 30, 2006

Mr. Tides http://homepage.mac.com/augusth/MrTides/ 

For persons who make their livelihood on the world’s seas and oceans, the importance of understanding the motions of the tides cannot be underestimated. Even for the casual visitor, tracking the tides can be useful. With this application, visitors can display current (and future) tide information for a variety of locations around the world on their desktop. This version of Mr. Tides is compatible with all computers running Mac OS X 10.1 and newer.

SightSpeed 4.6 http://www.sightspeed.com/ 

In our rather well “connected” times, people can transmit streaming audio and video across continents, oceans, mountains, and in some cases, just across the ever-so treacherous adjoining cubicle wall. With SightSpeed 4.6, all of these boundaries can be surmounted, and the application also offers free PC-to-PC voice calls and video blog recording. Visitor to the application’s homepage can learn about all of the related features of the program, and also offer feedback on the application’s uses. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and XP.


CREN Technology glossary

July 2, 2006 message from Geoff Cutter [gcutter@melbpc.org.au]

Good Morning Bob,

On your page


CREN Core Technology Glossary


has moved to perhaps


regds Geoff Cutter Sunday, 2006-07-02

Bob Jensen's technology glossary and links to other glossaries --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245gloss.htm

Is corporate diversification good or bad?

From Jim Mahar's Blog on June 22, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Corporate diversification may not be such a bad thing afterall

SUPER SHORT VERSION: If facing expropriation, managers may maximize shareholder wealth by diversifying their firm.

Corporate Diversification is bad

The standard line for the past 20 years has been that corporate diversification is bad for shareholders. We have seen this in the diversification discount work of
Comment and Jarrell (1995) and many other papers (for instance Megginson, Morgan, and Nail) have shown that diversification lowers firm value.

Corporate Diversification is NOT always bad
More recently however, there has been some questioning of that position. This strand of research has largely been driven by the idea that for some firms diversification is good.

This school of thought won support in the
2005 Journal of Finance article by Rene Stulz where he showed that diversification may lower the risk of expropriation in countries with poor shareholder protections (i.e. where there is a high risk of expropriation).

Now Beneish, Jansen, Lewis, and Stuart show the same thing happened within the US tobacco industry. Namely that the tobacco industry's diversifying deals (for instance when Philip Morris bought Kraft) lowered the probability of (or minimally delayed) government lawsuits and expropriation.

In the authors' words:

"Although prior work has often shown diversification transactions to be negative net present value projects, we propose that diversification created value in the tobacco industry by building "political capital" and making tobacco firms less attractive targets of regulation and litigation by changing the composition of tobacco firms' assets."
The authors then use three methods to back up the theory that diversification in the face of high expropriation risk can be good for shareholders. (the three methods are: the examination of diversification-increasing announcement returns, the positive association of thee returns with proxies for expropriation risk, and the examination of the changed behavior of firms after the 1998 Settlement whereby expropriation became a reality)

The authors then measure how "good" this diversification is for shareholders.

With admittedly noisy models, they conclude that in the case of tobacco firms, diversification "protected from $5.7 to $15.3 billion in shareholder value through delayed or reduced expropriation."

Lesson? Corporate diversification can be good for shareholders facing a high risk of expropriation.

Beneish, Messod Daniel, Jansen, Ivo Ph., Lewis, Melissa Fay and Stuart, Nathan V., "Diversification and Shareholder Payments in the Tobacco Industry: The Expected Expropriation Cost Reduction Hypothesis" (June 8, 2006). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=908623

Computers aid in committing sexual crimes, but the also aid in detection of such crimes

This link was forwarded by David Coy

"The Digital Detectives," by Brad Reagan, Popular Mechanics, July 2006 --- http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/law_enforcement/2672751.html

A six-year veteran of the Crimes Against Children Task Force, Holtz suspected the answer to Cindy’s disappearance was hidden within the girl’s upstairs computer. She also knew that it might already be too late. If Cindy had fallen into the hands of a killer, the statistics were grim: 74 percent of abducted children who are murdered are dead within 3 hours.

“We knew that time was ticking and we couldn’t sleep until we found her,” Holtz says. She turned to FBI forensic examiner Tony Pallone, one of the bureau’s computer specialists, and asked him to drop all other projects until he found something in the machine that could lead them to the missing girl.

Pallone made a forensic image of Cindy’s computer hard drive and settled in for a long night. He then ran a program that analyzed the image--yielding thousands upon thousands of numbers and letters scrambled together, amounting to little more than gibberish to the untrained eye.

From Cindy’s personal Web page, Pallone knew she called herself “goddessofall” and listed among her interests witchcraft, hypnosis and mythology, so he searched the data for snippets of those words hoping to discover other clues amid the jumble of characters. He found some troubling information: “File residue” logs showing the computer’s recent activities revealed that Cindy visited chat rooms dedicated to sadomasochism. Potentially worse, Pallone deduced from the gibberish that she chatted frequently with someone going by the ominous screen name of “dcsadist.” Pallone searched the Internet for references to anyone using that name but nothing surfaced.

By the evening of Jan. 3, Cindy’s parents began to lose hope that she would be found alive. “You know the statistics,” the girl’s mother later told Newark, N.J.’s Star-Ledger. “It’s a one-in-a-million shot to see your child again.”

PALLONE is an examiner in the Pittsburgh FBI office’s computer forensics lab. The operation is a small-scale version of the FBI’s 10 multiagency Regional Computer Forensics Laboratories (RCFLs); two more are slated to open this year. The FBI provides the RCFL startup costs--about $3 million per lab--and state and local agencies contribute staffers certified in computer forensics. As cases come in, examiners pitch in on those with the highest priority, regardless of which agency owns jurisdiction.

All told, 200-plus examiners at RCFLs and other FBI teams across the country analyzed more than 1400 terabytes of data in 2005--equal to a stack of paper 47,000 miles high. This new breed of gumshoe, trained to study bytes the way old-school G-men studied fingerprints, snares a predictable cast of hackers and insider traders but also a surprising number of violent criminals.

Computer forensics is not only crucial to law enforcement, it is critical to the business world, where digital evidence-gathering tools are used for everything from fraud investigations to employee monitoring. And government computer investigators buy much of their software from the same commercial vendors that supply big business. The dominant player in the field is Pasadena, Calif.-based Guidance Software, makers of EnCase, a widely used suite of programs that can dig deep into the memory of everything from computer hard drives to MP3 players. The next generation should even be able to search cellphones. Through its consulting arm, the company also trains more than 3500 law enforcement officers each year.

“A computer is no different than a tape recorder--it records everything you do,” says Andy Spruill, who oversees the consulting division and works as a lead investigator with the Westminster, Calif., police department’s computer forensics unit. “Right now [computer forensics] is still a specialty, with few people having the skills and resources to do it,” he says. “Think about where DNA was 10 years ago. Most cops didn’t even know about it. Now most patrol officers carry DNA swabs. That is where [computer forensics] is going to go, to the patrol level.”

“It is unusual today to have a case that doesn’t involve computers,” explains Mary Beth Buchanan, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She adds that computers are not just a source of evidence, but a source of better evidence. “Through the use of computers, people store information they might not otherwise. They might not even know it is being stored,” Buchanan says. “The value [of the evidence] is also greater because that information is stored in an organized manner and the computer leaves footprints of an individual’s every action.”

In 2003 Kansas State University English professor Thomas Murray’s computer turned into a witness against him. For more than a year, local police suspected Murray in his ex-wife’s stabbing death, but it was not until examiners in the Kansas City, Mo., RCFL searched his office computer that they found damning evidence. In the months before his wife’s death, Murray had used such Internet search terms as “how to kill someone quietly and quickly” and “murder for hire.” A jury rejected Murray’s defense that he was researching script ideas for a television show such as CSI and sentenced him to life in prison.

The new breed of gumshoe is trained to study bytes the way old-school G-men studied fingerprints.

The most famous case cracked using the skills of computer forensics investigators is last year’s capture of the serial killer known as BTK, short for “Bind, Torture and Kill.”

Responsible for 10 murders around Wichita, Kan., between 1974 and 1991, BTK taunted police with letters that boasted of his deeds but yielded few clues to his identity. He resurfaced in 2004 with a letter to a local newspaper hinting that he might be plotting more murders.

In February 2005, Wichita television station KSAS received a translucent, purple floppy disk accompanied by a 3 x 5 index card with a message from BTK: “Any Communications will have a # assigned from now on, encase [sic] one is lost or not found.”

The BTK task force enlisted the expertise of Randy Stone, a 39-year-old Desert Storm vet who started in the Wichita police department’s Forensic Computer Crime Unit in 1998. When Stone checked the disk, it contained only one file, named “Test A.rtf.” The text of the file instructed investigators to read the index card. No clues there.

Stone checked the disk properties to see the previous user: someone named Dennis. Then he checked to see where the disk was last used: Wichita’s Christ Lutheran Church. On the church Web site’s list of officers, there was one Dennis, a man named Dennis Rader.

The police used DNA evidence to link Rader to the crime scenes and in August 2005 he was given 10 consecutive life sentences. After more than 31 years and 100,000 man-hours, Stone’s digital detective work cracked the BTK case within 15 minutes of receiving the disk.

“On a scale of one to 10, it was about a three in terms of computer forensics,” Stone says. “As simple as that was, the sad thing is 95 percent of law enforcement in the U.S. could not have done something like that.”

Late on Jan. 3, 2002, as Pallone toiled away in his lab, investigators looking for Cindy finally caught a break. An anonymous Tampa man contacted the FBI and said he might know something about the girl he’d seen in a missing child photo on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Web site. The tipster said he met a man in a bondage group online claiming to have captured a teenager. “I think I got one,” the man wrote the tipster in a message, showing video of a girl chained to a wall, crying. The tipster thought the man lived in northern Virginia and used the screen name “master for teen slave girls.”

Pallone’s co-worker, Tim Huff, arrived at the office around 8 am, just as the tipster gave up the screen name. Of his six years as a field agent, Huff has spent five working in computer forensics. “I like putting bad guys in jail, that’s why I got into the bureau,” Huff says. “I got into computer forensics because I like solving puzzles.”

Four others in the lab were pulled onto the case to join Pallone in searching chat groups and elsewhere around the Web for anyone using that screen name. Even with the new information, they were still searching 90 minutes later.

Maybe, Huff thought, the name was not “master for teen slave girls,” as the original agent wrote it down, but some derivative using Web shorthand. Team members began to search for variations on the name and, within minutes, one of the examiners found a Yahoo Chat profile for a suspect using the handle “master4teen_slavegirls.” In his profile, the man listed other online aliases, including “dcsadist.”

It was a huge breakthrough--they quickly matched the information from the girl’s computer with the tipster’s information, making it a near certainty this was the guy holding Cindy. But the profile didn’t say where he lived.

Holtz tried to contact Yahoo to get the Internet protocol (IP) address of the profile, but it was 6:30 am at the Yahoo corporate offices on the West Coast and she couldn’t get anyone on the phone. Eventually, an agent in Sacramento, Calif., was reached, who called a contact at Yahoo. Minutes later, Holtz faxed a letter to Yahoo asking for the IP address, citing Section 212 of the Patriot Act.

Prior to the Patriot Act, which was passed in October 2001, many corporations required search warrants or subpoenas before granting government requests for customer information, mainly to shield themselves from lawsuits. But Section 212 releases companies from civil liability in cases where someone is at risk of “immediate danger of death or serious physical injury.” This case was one of the first times the provision was used.

Around 11 am, Yahoo faxed the Pittsburgh lab the IP address. A quick search identified Verizon as the service provider. Thirty minutes later, Verizon told Holtz the name and address of the customer registered to the account, a 38-year-old Herndon, Va., man named Scott William Tyree.

With Tyree’s address confirmed, Holtz contacted the Washington, D.C., field office, which dispatched a team of agents to Tyree’s home. Cindy had been missing for almost three days; now Holtz, Huff and the rest of the Pittsburgh office could only wait nervously for word of her fate.

At Tyree’s suburban townhouse, agents burst through the front door with guns drawn. The house appeared to be empty until they found Cindy in an upstairs bedroom, collared and chained to a bolt in the floor. The chain was just long enough to allow her to go to the bathroom. Tyree, it turned out, had reported to work at a nearby office of Computer Associates, but not before warning Cindy that he would hurt her if she tried to escape.

By 3:30 pm, the investigators at the Pittsburgh RCFL received word: Cindy was safe. Holtz, a six-year veteran of the bureau, didn’t try to hold back her tears. Still sniffling, she walked to a nearby conference room to give Cindy’s family the good news.

Tyree was picked up less than an hour later at his office. He had no criminal record and exhibited few previous signs of being a sexual predator. He was twice divorced and maintained a good relationship with his only child, a 12-year-old girl who lived with her mother in California. Tyree’s daughter had reportedly stayed with him for most of December during school break, returning home on New Year’s Day--the same day Cindy disappeared.

In subsequent interviews, investigators determined Cindy was like many teenagers who get involved in dangerous role-playing on the Web and draw the attention of predators like Tyree. On New Year’s Day, she sneaked out of the house and met Tyree a few blocks away. By the time Cindy realized the true intentions of her captor, it was too late to escape. She now speaks to student groups about the dangers of the Internet.

Buchanan, the lead prosecutor, says further evidence obtained from Tyree’s computer by Huff and his staff was instrumental in building her case and forcing Tyree to plead guilty. In March 2003, he was sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison.

More than three years later, Huff says it remains one of his most rewarding cases. “There is very little that I have experienced that makes you feel as good as knowing you made a child safe,” he says.

Find this article at: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/law_enforcement/2672751.html 

"Identity Thief Finds Easy Money Hard to Resist," Tom Zeller, Jr., The New York Times, July 4, 2006 --- Click Here

By the time of Shiva Brent Sharma's third arrest for identity theft, at the age of 20, he had taken in well over $150,000 in cash and merchandise in his brief career. After a certain point, investigators stopped counting.

The biggest money was coming in at the end, postal inspectors said, after Mr. Sharma had figured out how to buy access to stolen credit card accounts online, change the cardholder information and reliably wire money to himself — sometimes using false identities for which he had created pristine driver's licenses.

But Mr. Sharma, now 22, says he never really kept track of his earnings.

"I don't know how much I made altogether, but the most I ever made in a quick period was like $20,000 in a day and a half or something," he said, sitting in the empty meeting hall at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, N.Y., where he is serving a two- to four-year term. "Working like three hours today, three hours tomorrow — $20,000."

And once he knew what he was doing, it was all too easy.

"It's an addiction, no doubt about that," said Mr. Sharma, who inflected his words with the sort of street cadence adopted by smart kids trying to be cool. "I get scared that when I get out, I might have a problem and relapse because it would be so easy to take $300 and turn it into several thousand."

That ease accounts for the sizable ranks of identity-fraud victims, whose acquaintance with the crime often begins with unexplained credit card charges, a drained bank account or worse. The victims' tales have become alarmingly familiar, but usually lack a protagonist — the perpetrator. Mr. Sharma's account of his own exploits provides the missing piece: an insight into both the tools and the motivation of a persistent thief.

Identity theft can, of course, have its origins in a pilfered wallet or an emptied mailbox. But for computer-savvy thieves like Mr. Sharma, the Internet has forged new conduits for the crime, both as a means of stealing identity and account information and as the place to use it.

The Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have invested millions of dollars in monitoring Internet sites where thousands of users from around the world congregate to swap tips about identity theft and to buy and sell personal data. Mr. Sharma frequented such sites from their earliest days, and the techniques he learned there have become textbook-variety scams.

"Shiva Sharma was probably one of the first, and he was certainly one of the first to get caught," said Diane M. Peress, a former Queens County prosecutor who handled all three of Mr. Sharma's cases and who is now the chief of economic crimes with the Nassau County district attorney's office. "But the kinds of methods that he used are being used all the time."

As far back as 2002, Mr. Sharma began picking the locks on consumer credit lines using a computer, the Internet and a deep understanding of online commerce, Internet security and simple human nature, obtained through years of trading insights with like-minded thieves in online forums. And he deployed the now-common rods and reels of data theft — e-mail solicitations and phony Web sites — that fleece the unwitting.

Much of this unfolded from the basement of a middle-class family home in Richmond Hill, Queens, at the hands of a high school student with a knack for problem solving and an inability, even after multiple arrests, to resist the challenge of making a scheme pay off.

That is what worries Mr. Sharma's wife, Damaris, 21, who has no time for the Internet as she raises the couple's 1-year-old daughter, Bellamarie.

"I hate computers," she said. "I think they're the devil."

A Thief's Tool Kit

Mr. Sharma is soft-spoken, but he does not shrink from the spotlight. He gained fleeting attention after his first arrest, as the first person charged under a New York State identity-theft statute — and later, at his high school graduation at the Rikers Island jail, where he was the class valedictorian.

For a prison interview, he has applied gel to his mane of black hair. He is Hollywood handsome, with deceptively sleepy eyes and smiles that come as tics in reaction to nearly every stimulus — a question, a noise. Prosecutors interpreted those smiles as evidence of smug indifference.

A tattoo of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and his namesake, is just visible on Mr. Sharma's right arm, under the short sleeve of his green prison jumpsuit.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on identity theft are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#IdentityTheft

Top books on Gettysburg:  Robert E. Lee fails to manage his subordinates well

"Seven Score and Three Years Ago," by Gabor Boritt, The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110008595

1. "Gettysburg" by Stephen W. Sears (Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

A first-class writer and splendid historian--a combination to be cherished--gives us the best book on America's most famous battle. Sears smoothly integrates up-to-date scholarship that has enriched our understanding of the battle since Edwin Coddington's "The Gettysburg Campaign" (1968), a classic but one that few can slog their way through. Sears has strong opinions. His Robert E. Lee fails to manage his subordinates well, and George Meade, "unexpectedly and against the odds," thoroughly outgenerals him. Only Civil War buffs will find things to argue about in this gripping account of the military moment that helped save the nation.

2. "The Colors of Courage" by Margaret Creighton (Basic Books, 2005).

The Civil War came, in big way, to just one Northern town, and Creighton brings alive the time and the place through the vivid stories of 15 individuals, obscure and forgotten witnesses to the battle at Gettysburg. Through their portraits, we're shown how the bloodletting that took place transformed ordinary people, moving them to behave in extraordinary ways--as when a young woman given to swooning at the very sight of blood is changed into one who goes about nursing horribly mangled soldiers. Creighton does a superb job of weaving these noncombatants' stories into those of the battle itself.

3. "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara (David McKay, 1974).

The difficulty historians have in bringing the past to life stems from the need to stick to facts--a problem fiction writers don't face. What a general Lee or Longstreet actually felt as he struggled over tactics we can never know. Novelist Michael Shaara nevertheless provides a persuasive imaginative account of these soldiers and of the battle. Shaara conveys the costs in graphic detail as we follow such actual participants as Joshua Chamberlain--former college professor and determined Union soldier: "He stood up. Pain in the right foot, unmistakable squish of blood." Shaara skillfully takes us into the minds of the combatants--and on an extraordinarily rewarding journey.

4. "Haskell of Gettysburg" edited by Frank L. Byrne and Andrew T. Weaver (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1970).

The best account of the battle by a participant is to be found in a hundred pages of this volume of letters, written by Union soldier Lt. Frank Haskell to his brother. Many suspect that Haskell wrote with future publication in mind. It doesn't matter. Despite using the era's flowery language, he succeeded in transmitting details of the fighting accurately and with remarkable immediacy. ("Men are dropping dead or wounded on all sides, by scores and by hundreds, and the poor mutilated creatures, some with an arm dangling, some with a leg broken by a bullet, are limping and crawling towards the rear. They make no sound of complaint or pain. . . . A sublime heroism seems to pervade all.") It is telling that when Haskell returned to Gettysburg four months later for the battlefield's dedication as a national cemetery, he left in mid-ceremony. The civilian throngs, he said, despite their reverence, had no idea of the horrors that had taken place on those grounds. Haskell died the following spring at the battle of Cold Harbor.

5. "Lincoln at Gettysburg" by Garry Wills (Simon & Schuster, 1992).

Around the world, "Gettysburg" brings to mind not so much the battle as the name Abraham Lincoln and the address he delivered there. In Wills's rendering, the Civil War president managed, in some 270 words, to remake the U.S. into a nation dedicated to equality of the races, creating out of Gettysburg's ravages a new understanding, a new vision, for the country. Wills's prose is scintillating, but his central message is a bit overcooked. Lincoln was, indeed, the greatest of American presidents, and the Gettysburg Address a sublime work. But the speech did not remake America, much less the world, as Wills suggests. Still, that the book's main thesis is dead wrong in its excess should take little away from the pleasure of reading it.

Mr. Boritt, director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, is the author of the forthcoming "The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows" (Simon & Schuster).


Forwarded by Auntie Bev

These are the top 16 bumper stickers that everyone wants to see.....

Jesus loves you...but everyone else thinks you are an ass.

Impotence...Nature's way of saying "No hard feelings,"

Everyone has a photographic memory ...some just don't have any film.

Save your breath. You'll need it to blow up your date.

Your ridiculous little opinion has been noted.

I used to have a handle on life...but it broke off.

WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship.

Guys...just because you have one, doesn't mean you have to be one.

Some people just don't know how to drive... I call these people "Everybody But Me,"

Heart Attacks...God's revenge for eating His animal friends.

Don't like my driving? Then quit watching me.

If you can read this..I can slam on my brakes and sue you.

Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.

Try not to let your mind wander...It is too small and fragile to be out by itself.

Hang up and drive!!

And The Number One Bumper Sticker you'd Like To See!!

Welcome to America ... now speak English!

another good one is Any woman looking for a husband has never had one!


More Tidbits from the Chronicle of Higher Education --- http://www.aldaily.com/

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmark s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

International Accounting News (including the U.S.)

AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
        Upcoming international accounting conferences --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/events/index.cfm
        Thousands of journal abstracts --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/journals/index.cfm
Deloitte's International Accounting News --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
Association of International Accountants --- http://www.aia.org.uk/ 
WebCPA --- http://www.webcpa.com/
FASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
IASB --- http://www.fasb.org/
Others --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm

Gerald Trite's great set of links --- http://iago.stfx.ca/people/gtrites/Docs/bookmark.htm 

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

I highly recommend TheFinanceProfessor (an absolutely fabulous and totally free newsletter from a very smart finance professor, Jim Mahar from St. Bonaventure University) --- http://www.financeprofessor.com/ 
Jim's great blog is at http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/


Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax: 210-999-8134  Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu