The Senate did an abrupt about-face yesterday, voting overwhelmingly to begin paying for 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, just three weeks after voting against the same spending. The amendment's sponsor said senators were so embarrassed by that July 13 vote that most felt they had to reverse course and vote for it this time -- especially after so many were on record in May voting to build the fence in the first place. The amendment, which provides nearly $2 billion for the project, passed 94-3, with 66 senators switching from "no" to "yes" votes since last month . . . The three senators who voted against yesterday's fence amendment were Democrat Russ D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and independent James M. Jeffords of Vermont.
Stephen Dinan and Brian DeBose, "Senate votes to fund the fence," The Washington Times, August 3, 2006 --- http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20060803-121451-9430r.htm
You know, you ever ask yourself, Tim, what’s the second largest Muslim country in the world? It’s India. It’s not Pakistan or Iran. What do we see in India? Just a couple of weeks ago, 350 Indians killed in what is widely suspected an attack by Muslim extremists in Mumbai in a train station. But the Indian reaction was incredibly restrained. Why is that? You know, why don’t Indian Muslims, you know, get their buzz this way? Could it be because the richest man in India is a Muslim software entrepreneur? Could it be because the president of India is a Muslim? Could it be because there’s an Indian Muslim woman on the Indian Supreme Court? Could it be because the leading female movie star in India is a Muslim woman? You know, when people get their dignity from building things rather than confronting other people, it’s amazing what politics flows from that. And I think that’s something the Arab world also needs to be reflecting on now.
Thomas L. Friedman, Meet the Press Transcript 7/30/06: Thomas Friedman Interview --- http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/BarbraStreisand/statements.html#friedman
Syrian officials stressed to me over and over again,
“Our marriage with Iran is a marriage of convenience.” This is a secular Sunni
country. It’s got an Alawite regime, but it’s a secular Sunni country, Syria.
And being in a car driven by two Shiite radicals—Ahmadinejad, the president of
Iran, and Nasrallah from, from Lebanon—that’s not so comfortable for the
Syrians. Particularly because in this car, Tim, they’re in the back seat and the
guys in the front got no brakes. So I think that there is a possibility—I
wouldn’t exaggerate this, but I think there is a possibility if we—if we sat
down with the Syrians and said, “What do you need? Here’s what we need. Let’s
have a rational, long-term dialogue,” not one of these Condi Rice specials of,
you know, 20 minutes in the Middle East, “I touched the base and went back,” but
a serious, rational dialogue.
Thomas L. Friedman, Meet the Press Transcript 7/30/06: Thomas Friedman Interview --- http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/BarbraStreisand/statements.html#friedman
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday
that the only solution to the Middle East problem is the destruction of Israel.
"The primary medicine for the problems of the region and the world is the
annihilation of the Zionist regime," Ahmadinejad said.
Dudi Cohen, YNet News, August 3, 2006 --- http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/1,7340,L-3285775,00.html
Have you ever been sorry that you got what you asked for?
Days after calling Iran a "stabilizing" force in the
Middle East, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy issued a statement
harshly criticizing Iran's call on Thursday to destroy Israel. "I totally
condemn these words," Douste-Blazy said on France-Inter radio, in response to
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement Thursday that the solution to
the current Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel.
"France slams call to destroy Israel," International.JPost.com, August 3, 2006 ---
Academic Vali Nasr has gone further than most in identifying the "Shiite
revival" as a central force dividing the Mideast. He also frames a possible U.S.
response: Engage Iran, especially over the issue of reducing violence in Iraq.
"Rising Academic Sees Sectarian Split Inflaming Mideast Vali Nasr Says 'Shiite Revival' Is Met by Sunni Backlash; Resurgent Iran Leads Way Can Mullahs be Moderated?" by Peter Waldman, The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2006 --- Click Here
From the violence in the Mideast, new realities are emerging -- and a new generation of experts to interpret them. Shiite Muslims are asserting themselves as never before. Followers of this branch of Islam, generally backbenchers in the region's power game, are central players in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq -- often acting out against traditional powers such as Israel, the U.S., and Sunni Arab states.
Mr. Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., calls this a historic "Shiite revival" and has gone further than most in identifying it as a central force in Mideast politics. He also frames a possible U.S. response: Engage Iran, especially over the issue of reducing violence in Iraq, and try to manage Tehran's rise as a regional power rather than isolating it.
The issues are more than academic for the 46-year-old professor. He was raised in Tehran and hails from a prominent intellectual and literary family in Iran that traces its lineage to the prophet Muhammad. His father was once president of Iran's top science university and chief of staff for the shah's wife.
In 1979, after the Iranian revolution, the Nasrs "started from zero" in the U.S., says Mr. Nasr. He received a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing his thesis on the political dimensions of radical Islam, while his father, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, became a renowned professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University.
The younger Mr. Nasr has laid out his views in a series of speeches and articles, as well as a new book. He is gaining a wide hearing in Washington. "The problem with the current Middle East debate is it's completely stuck. Nobody knows what to do," says political economist Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University, who attended Mr. Nasr's private briefing last week. "Vali Nasr offers a plausible alternative that may gain traction."
Mr. Nasr's analysis begins with the idea that the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq has transformed the Mideast, but not in the ways promised by President Bush. By replacing Iraq's Sunni-led dictatorship with an elected government dominated by the country's Shiite majority, the U.S. destroyed the Sunni wall that had contained the restless Shiite power to the east, Iran. The clerical regime in Tehran was immeasurably strengthened.
Reopening a Fault Line
This power shift, Mr. Nasr argues, has reopened an ancient fault line between Shiites and Sunnis that crosses the entire region. The schism dates back to the prophet Muhammad's death in 632, when his companions -- the forebears of the Sunnis -- chose Muhammad's close friend and father-in-law, Abu Bakr, to succeed him and become Islam's first caliph. Shiites believe Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, was more deserving.
Ali managed to become Islam's fourth caliph, only to face multiple rebellions. He was ultimately murdered while at prayer at a shrine in what is now Iraq. His son, Hussein, refused to accept his father's Sunni usurpers and was slain 19 years later.
Shiites commemorate Hussein's murder in the holiday called Ashura, a 10-day period of mourning and self-flagellation. Their reverence for Hussein's stand against tyranny is the touchstone of Shiite political passions -- often invoked during the Iranian revolution, the ensuing war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and even recently by the leader of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah in its war against Israel. Traditional Sunnis view Shiites as heretics, led astray by Persian Zoroastrianism and other pagan beliefs.
Today, the conflict is most visible in Iraq, where foreign and local Sunni insurgents refuse to accede to the country's Shiite majority. But Mr. Nasr sees the backlash in Iraq as auguring a wave of similar sectarian battles in a broad swath of Asia from Lebanon to Pakistan where the populations of the two sects are roughly even.
"In the coming years, Shiites and Sunnis will compete over power, first in Iraq but ultimately across the entire region," Mr. Nasr writes in his new book, "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future," published by W.W. Norton & Co. "The overall Sunni-Shiite conflict will play a large role in defining the Middle East as a whole and shaping its relations with the outside world."
For the U.S., the Sunni-Shiite divide is fraught with challenges -- and opportunities. By creating in Iraq the first Shiite-led state in the Arab world since the rise of Islam (Iran is mostly ethnic Persian), the U.S. ignited aspirations among some 150 million Shiites in the region, Mr. Nasr says. Many live under Sunni rule, such as in Saudi Arabia, where they have long been persecuted. Yet U.S. foreign policy still operates under the "old paradigm" of Sunni dominance, he contends.
Take the current crisis in Lebanon. The U.S. has long relied on its traditional Sunni Arab allies -- Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- to keep the Arab-Israeli conflict in check. But now the Sunni axis is failing, says Mr. Nasr, because these nations are incapable of containing a resurgent Iran and its radical clients on the front lines against Israel -- Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas.
To adapt, the U.S. must "recalibrate" its diplomacy and re-establish contacts with Iran, he says. That would require disavowing any interest in "regime change" in Tehran -- an unrealistic aim anyway, Mr. Nasr argues -- but would offer the best hope of moderating Iran's growing influence.
"The Iranian genie isn't going back in the bottle," he says. "If we deny these changes have happened -- that Cairo, Amman and Riyadh have lost control of the region -- and we continue to exclude Iran, we'd better be prepared to spend a lot of money on troops in the region for a long time," Mr. Nasr says.
The Bush administration is listening to Mr. Nasr, but his influence on U.S. policy is unclear. Two White House foreign-policy aides attended his talk here last week. And last year, Mr. Nasr briefed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Since last year the influence of neoconservatives who championed the invasion of Iraq has ebbed at the White House, and Mr. Bush recently held a roundtable discussion at Camp David with other analysts critical of his Iraq policy.
One White House official points out that Mr. Nasr's prescription assumes the U.S., by recognizing and engaging Iran as a regional power, could moderate its behavior. But that outcome, the official adds, doesn't inevitably flow from Mr. Nasr's core argument about the Shiite revival. Many Republican foreign-policy specialists, including some who opposed the Iraq war, believe Iran is a threat and may have to be confronted militarily if diplomatic efforts fail.
In the Lebanon crisis, the U.S. has so far ruled out talking to Syria or Iran, Hezbollah's main suppliers of money and missiles. "Frankly, there is nothing to negotiate," White House spokesman Tony Snow has said.
Mr. Nasr sees it differently. Hezbollah's brazen attack on Israel July 12, and its heady self-confidence from parrying Israel's onslaught since then, illustrate why the U.S. needs a new policy toward Iran and the region's Shiites, he says. Immediately after the fighting stops in Lebanon, he says, the U.S. should convene a conference with all of the interested parties -- including Syria and Iran -- to redraw Lebanon's political map. In 1989, Saudi Arabia convened a similar conference in the Saudi city of Taif that helped end Lebanon's civil war by redistributing political power among the country's four main religious groups.
Lebanon's Sunnis emerged from Taif much stronger, particularly under Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Sunni construction magnate who helped rebuild Beirut after the civil war. Mr. Nasr sees the Shiites, who he estimates make up 40% to 50% of Lebanon's population, as relatively disenfranchised. Shiites hold just 35 of 128 seats in Lebanon's Parliament, largely because the country hasn't held a census since 1932. Lebanon's system assigns the nonexecutive post of parliamentary speaker to a Shiite but bars Shiites from becoming president or prime minister.
Mr. Nasr says the crisis in Lebanon underscores the importance of engaging Iran as the U.S. did after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. At a conference in Bonn, Germany, the U.S. and Iran negotiated extensively, giving rise to the relatively stable government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In Lebanon, America's Sunni Arab allies are likely to oppose apportioning rival Shiites greater political power. Mr. Nasr argues that is the only way to give Lebanon's Shiites -- and Iran -- a stake in stability.
"You can beat Hezbollah to a pulp, but you can't change the fact that around 45% of Lebanese are Shiites," Mr. Nasr says.
Continued in article
The Physical Sciences Resources Center --- http://www.psrc-online.org/
A collection of information and resources for physical sciences education is just a mouse-click away! You may search the collection by keyword or name, or browse the collection by topic, object type, or grade level.
General Chemistry Online --- http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/index.shtml
Leading Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Anti-Spam Alternatives
I trust Consumer Reports rankings more than virtually all other ranking sources mainly because Consumer Reports accepts no advertising or has other links to the vendors of products rated in Consumer Reports' labs
The Consumer Reports home page is at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm
|E-MAIL ANTISPAM SOFTWARE (used in conjunction
with e-mail programs)
Rank 1 Microsoft Outlook http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/email/fightspam.mspx
Rank 2 Apple Mac X Mail http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/mail/
|ADD-ONS TO E-MAIL PROGRAMS (can filter spam
without additional software)
Rank 3 Trend Micro Anti-Spam Pilot Click Here
Rank 4 Allume Systems Click Here
Rank 5 Cloudmark Desktop http://www.cloudmark.com/desktop/
Rank 6 Trend Micro Anti-Spam Pilot Click Here
Rank 7 PC Tools Spam Monitor http://www.pctools.com/
Rank 8-13 given on Page 29
Rank 1 BitDefender http://www.bitdefender.com/index.php
Rank 2 Zone Labs Zone Alarm Anti-Virus http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp
Rank 3 Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal --- http://www.kaspersky.com/
Rank 4 Norton AntiVirus http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/
Rank 5 Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/
Rank 6 McAfee ViruScan http://www.mcafee.com/us/
Rank 7 Trend Micro PC-cillin http://www.trendmicro.com/en/home/us/enterprise.htm
Ranks 8-12 given on Page 27
|Rank 1 F-Secure
Rank 2 Webroot Spy Sweeper http://www.webroot.com/wb/products/spysweeper/index.php?rc=266&ac=417
Rank 3 PC Tools Spyware http://www.pctools.com/
Rank 4 Trend Micro Anti-Spyware Click Here
Rank 5 Lavasoft Ad-aware http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
Rank 6 Spybot-Search & Destroy http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html
Rank 7 Zone Labs Zone Alarm Anti-Spyware http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp
Ranks 8-12 Given on Page 28
"Finding Free Antivirus Software, Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2006; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/mossberg_mailbox.html
Q: My computer is a virus-infected mess. I sometimes have to close over 20 pop-ups just to access the PC. Taking your advice, I tried to download the "free" AVG Anti-Virus, but there is nothing free about it. They ask for your credit-card info. What am I missing?
A: The company that makes AVG, Grisoft, offers both paid and free versions of the product. The free version must be downloaded from a separate Web site, free.grisoft.com. Most of the first few results in a Google search for "AVG" or "AVG anti-virus" point to this free version. Also, the free version is prominently featured at Download.com, the big site for downloading software that is owned by CNET.
Q: Is there a significant difference between the Palm Treo 700p and the 700w phones -- or is it just preference of software? Do they have the same ease of use?
A. The 700p uses the Palm operating system and the 700w uses the Windows Mobile operating system. The hardware is essentially the same, except for one big difference -- the 700p's screen has a significantly higher resolution than the 700w's. There are also some different buttons on the keyboard.
But asking if two devices differ in "just preference of software" is like asking if living in a similar home in North Dakota or Florida differs "just" in terms of your preference in weather. The software is every bit as important as the hardware, and makes a huge difference in how the two Treos work.
I have reviewed both devices, and I find that the Windows Mobile software on the 700w is considerably inferior to the Palm operating system software on the 700p. Too many common actions in the Windows version take more steps than the same actions on the Palm OS version, and often require navigating menus. You are likely to use the stylus more often in the Windows version as well.
And, even though the software on the Windows version was made by Microsoft, it is actually worse at handling Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF email attachments than the built-in software for that purpose on the Palm OS version.
Q: Last week, you advised readers never to trust any email from a financial institution because online criminals have gotten so good at faking such emails. Does that include emails from institutions where you have accounts, such as receipts for transactions at brokerages?
A: Yes and no. If you get an unexpected email from a bank, or brokerage, or payment service like PayPal, where you do have an account, I'd still advise ignoring it and never clicking on any link it contains. This is even true if the email suggests some problem with your account or advises that you need to log onto a web site to "verify" your account information. Such emails are very often just attempts to steal your passwords and account numbers. To double-check on such an email, phone the bank or brokerage, or manually call up its Web site.
However, if you have just bought or sold a stock, or performed an online banking action, and you get an email confirming the transaction, it could well be legitimate -- provided it contains enough detail of a type criminals might find hard to replicate, and it arrives very quickly after the transaction was completed. I still wouldn't click on any links in such an email, however. Remember, most financial institutions don't have to ask you to supply account information they already have.
It's really too bad that people have to look on such emails with such suspicion. Email could be a great tool for communications between banks and their customers. But, despite some strides, the technology and financial industries have so far failed to find a way to make email truly trustworthy and secure. And law-enforcement agencies have failed to stop the thefts of money and identities. So far, the crooks are winning in this arena. So you have to be extra careful.
Also check on SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition 3.2.1028 --- http://www.superantispyware.com/
Is a visited Web site authentic and safe?
CallingID 184.108.40.206 http://www.callingid.com/Default.aspx
August 7, 2006 reply from Edward Gardner [gardner@CASESABATINI.COM]
I want to add nod32, which is a low-overhead antivirus product which has won numerous awards for detecting 100% of viruses thrown at it. I have it at home and I'm real impressed. www.nod32.com
Ed Gardner, CPA
Bob Jensen's threads on computer and networking security are at
Business School Applications Spike
Applications rose this year at a majority of business schools, according to a report released Monday by the Graduate Management Admission Council.
Elia Powers, "Business School Applications Spike," Inside Higher Ed, August 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/08/business
Are Blackboard and SAP patents a serious threat to innovation and application in LMS (Learning Management Systems)?
August 4, 2006 message from Leonard Low [Leonard.Low@cit.act.edu.au]
Dear Professor Jensen,
I am respectfully contacting you to seek your help. It has come to the attention of the international e-learning community that two large companies, Blackboard Inc. and SAP, have applied for a large number of patents internationally that cover most of the core features of modern Learning Management Systems. Their actions threaten innovation and development in the e-learning sector, jeopardize educational equity and availability, and are regarded by many respected educational commentators to be unethical and dishonest. I myself am a concerned LMS manager and administrator at a public Australian tertiary institution with no commercial interests - my interest is an ethical and professional one.
On 26th July 2006, Blackboard announced that their patent on “Internet-based education support system and methods“ – basically, LMS systems. The same day, they sued Desire2Learn, their closest competitor, for breach of that patent. Their actions demonstrate that they intend to use their claims of patent to suppress competitors and reduce the uptake of open source systems at major institutions.
I’ve been trying to find examples of “prior art” – LMS systems and functions claimed to have been invented by Blackboard and SAP, that existed prior to Blackboard’s initial patent application in the year 2000 – and came across your website. An authoritative list is being collaboratively authored in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_virtual_learning_environments.
I note your expertise in the history and development of online learning, and ask you to contribute your knowledge of prior art to our growing list, to help us stave off an imminent disaster in online education. The list is being compiled at the Wikipedia site mentioned above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_virtual_learning_environments.
Thank you for your attention, and apologies for making this direct appeal to your private email address, which I obtained from your website. I hope you will be able to help us.
Online Campus Manager
Tel +61 2 6207 4323 | Mob 04 1338 6684 | Fax +61 2 62074834
Flexible Learning Solutions
Education Development Centre
Canberra Institute of Technology
Southside Campus Ainsworth Street Phillip
August 4, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
There is a long history of Learning Management System (LMS) or Course Management Software (CMS) for both course authoring and course management that was developed long before the formation of WebCT, Blackboard, and SAP. I document this early history at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm
Some of this history is rooted in the PLATO system developed for mainframe computers at the University of Illinois. One of the earliest packaged software alternatives for course management and authoring was called Owl's Guide. Then came HyperCard, Authorware, HyperGraphics, Qwest, Tencore, ToolBook and a raft of others documented at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm
WebCT and Blackboard innovated in the sense that they became separate Internet server computers, as opposed to course CDs, for managing courses without providing course authoring software per se. Instructors were free to put their PowerPoint, MS Word, Excel, HTML, and other documents into these servers. Later WebCT and Blackboard added things like chat rooms and email systems for courses.
Personally I think the Blackboard patents go too far and ignore the long history of learning and course management software. These patents will most certainly be tested in court and will most certainly lose except in the cases where particular computer codes have been virtually lifted by other companies. In fact I think Blackboard faces the risk of being sued for patent infringement itself. Bb must proceed very cautiously in deciding who to sue.
Thanks to your reminder, I will put a link in Wikipedia to my document at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm
And I will include my links to related documents at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm
August 7, 2006 reply from Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]
The LMS community is really upset about this patent.
Bolstering Tenure by Reforming It
A University of Colorado panel — created amid political demands to eliminate tenure — is taking an approach similar to the one President Clinton took when faced with demands to abolish affirmative action. Admit that the system is flawed, but defend its necessity.
Scott Jaschik, "Bolstering Tenure by Reforming It," Inside Higher Ed, August 4, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/04/tenure
NCAA Moves to Penalize Colleges With Consistently Poor Athlete Academic
The Division I Board of Directors decided that teams with an Academic Progress Rate score below 900 each year for the four-year period that concludes at the end of the 2006-7 academic year will be eligible in 2007-8 for “historical penalties,” which could include ineligibility for postseason competition.
David Epstein, "Drawing the Line," Inside Higher Ed, August 4, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/04/ncaa
Bob Jensen's threads on athletic controversies in higher education --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics
More Sensationalist Dishonesty in Our Media
This Reuters photograph shows blatant evidence of manipulation. Notice the repeating patterns in the smoke; this is almost certainly caused by using the Photoshop “clone” tool to add more smoke to the image. It’s so incredibly obvious, it reminds me of the faked CBS memos. Smoke simply does not contain repeating symmetrical patterns like this, and you can see the repetition in both plumes of smoke. There’s really no question about it. But it’s not only the plumes of smoke that were “enhanced.” There are also cloned buildings.
"Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut?" Little Green Footballs,---
"International crime rings, not hackers, true Internet villains," PhysOrg, August 6, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news74065139.html
Organized crime is winning the Internet security war, specialists warned at the world's foremost gathering of computer hackers in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The online peril is no longer brilliant young social outcasts penetrating networks for notoriety; it is international crime rings swiping billions of dollars with keystrokes and malicious computer codes, cyber cops agreed.
Ironically, potential champions in the battle for Internet privacy were sought among the thousands of hackers that made pilgrimages to the US gambling mecca nicknamed "Sin City" for the three-day DefCon 14 conference.
Online evil doers were crime rings working out of countries such as Russia, Romania and Brazil, and their nefarious technical skills were keeping ahead of computer security experts, veterans of the cyber-crime battle said.
"We are getting our butts kicked, there is no doubt about it," said Dan Hubbard, vice president of security research at Websense. "There is a lot more of a bond and a sharing of tools in their society than in ours."
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on computing and networking security are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection
"Bookmarks," The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2006; Page W4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115465609118226575.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal
THE DECLINE OF THE SECULAR UNIVERSITY, By C. John Sommerville, Oxford, 147 pages, $22
Conservative critiques of higher education often take one of two forms. The first is a lament that universities no longer teach the Great Books or help students answer the Important Questions: What is good? What is true? What is just? Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind" (1987) is probably the most forceful expression of this point of view. The second is a lament that universities are out of touch with the populace and that tax dollars should not be funding subjects as obscure as transgender studies or professors as offensive as Ward Churchill, the man who cheered the 9/11 deaths of the World Trade Center's "little Eichmanns."
The two critiques are not always compatible. (A public referendum on college courses might favor "Thelma & Louise" over Thucydides.) But sometimes they are. In "The Decline of the Secular University," C. John Sommerville, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Florida, attempts both lines of attack simultaneously. He argues that universities today are increasingly irrelevant to the wider culture precisely because they are not asking the Important Questions.
It is secularism that has put higher education in this bind, Mr. Sommerville claims: As it has moved away from its religious origins, it has lost a certain confidence. The task of instilling a moral vision in students, or of imposing a rigorous curriculum, is much harder from a position of relativism and ambivalence.
Mr. Sommerville does not suggest that universities today align themselves with a particular religious denomination. But they must entertain religious questions again. Not with more religious-studies departments, God forbid, but with a more careful -- and theological -- inquiry into the subjects they already teach.
The "inspiration of religion," Mr. Sommerville notes, produced some of "the world's great music, art, architecture, poetry, drama and fiction" and, he says, it is doing so even now. As for government, its central problem is a "theological one, being the question of individual and social well-being." The central question of science is religious, too: "what use to make of our knowledge."
Mr. Somerville's diagnosis of the problem is certainly sound -- that universities now shy away from a religious approach to study, perhaps out of a concern for the cultural sensitivities of their students and faculty. But what of his solution? It is no easy feat to create a university that both addresses the timeless questions and proves relevant to modern life. One senses the challenge when Mr. Sommerville criticizes a college president for telling his freshmen to read, in the summer before they arrive at school, the Washington Post. Why the Post, Mr. Sommerville complains, when students have "all the world's literature to choose from"? It's an understandable sentiment, but surely newspapers touch on the timeless questions too.
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm
How can you find an accredited only college or set of online courses within an accredited college?
One approach is to go to "Accredited-Online-Colleges,com" ---
Online Degrees Accounting & Finance | Business | Business Administration & Management | Communication & Journalism | Education | Engineering | Family & Consumer Sciences | Human Resources | Information Technology & Computers | Legal Professions | Liberal Arts & General Studies | Medical & Health Care | Multimedia & Design | Psychology | Public Administration & Social Services | Sales & Marketing | Security & Protective Services | Visual & Performing Arts |
My recommendation here is "Buyer Beware." Accreditation in general is misleading, especially from some self-proclaimed accrediting agencies. The above site has a truly mixed bag of colleges to a point where I would take the phrase "Accredited Colleges" with a giant grain of salt. Having said this, I also find that this AOC site can be helpful in finding online alternatives.
Beware of any college that gives credit for "life experience." Every older adult has life experience. Often colleges that resort to this marketing gimmick are not providing quality degrees.
Bob Jensen's threads on diploma mill frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud.htm#DiplomaMill
Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education programs are at
League for Innovation in the Community College --- http://www.league.org/
"A Prayer Book's Secret: Archimedes Lies Beneath," by David Kestenbaum,
NPR, July 27, 2006 ---
Why would anyone pay $2 million for a tattered book of Christian prayers from 1200 A.D.? The anonymous philanthropist who coughed up the sum in 1998 wasn't lured by the holy writings. He was after the faint ink beneath -- mathematical theorems and diagrams from the Greek scholar Archimedes, who lived more than 2,000 years ago. It's the oldest known copy of his work, but the writings were barely legible. But now, a new restoration technique may make it possible to recover all of Archimedes' original text.
As the legend goes, Archimedes discovered the principle of buoyancy in his bathtub, prompting him to shout "Eureka!" Regardless of whether this story is true, Archimedes was, without a doubt, a great mathematician. Little of his work has made it down through the ages, but what has survived is startling. He writes about infinity -- different levels of infinity, actually -- which is astounding for a scholar from the second century B.C.
The prayer book is known as the "Archimedes Palimpsest" -- a palimpsest is a document with hidden writing -- and it resides at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
"It’s the ugliest thing in the collection," says William Noel, curator of rare books at the Walters. "It is also by far the most important text manuscript in a palimpsest that the world knows."
Noel cannot reveal the owner's name; he'll say only that he has a big heart. And a big agenda. He wants every possible word of Archimedes extracted, even though some pages are at the point of crumbling into dust, and others have fallen victim to the ravages of bookworms.
A parchment shortage is to blame for the overwriting. The original text apparently sat in a library in Constantinople until 1229 A.D. Then a scribe erased it; he needed someplace to write a prayer book. Seven hundred years later, Archimedes expert John Ludwig Heiberg discovered the traces of Archimedes after reading a few lines transcribed by a scholar in 1899. Over the next few decades, the book had a mysterious life, disappearing and reappearing. Eventually, it was sold at auction.
Since then, scholars and scientists have used ultraviolet light to make letters stand out. But the method did not work on every page. Some were too damaged; others were covered with forgeries – paintings created in the 20th century and made to look older to drive up the value of the book.
Of Spinach and X-Rays
Popeye's favorite vegetable holds the key to uncovering the rest. Uwe Bergmann, a Stanford physicist, was attending a conference in Germany when he stumbled upon an article describing the Archimedes Palimpsest. At the Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, a Department of Energy research facility in Stanford, Bergmann studies the physics of photosynthesis -- in particular, photosynthesis in spinach.
"I read that there is still some significant text missing, and that there are forgeries and that there's iron in the ink. When I read the word 'iron,' I said, 'Wait a minute, we are studying iron in spinach.' I thought we should be able to use the same method and just then do imaging with it."
Bergmann proposed his idea in an e-mail to William Noel, suggesting that the Stanford Linear Accelerator in California might be used to provide the necessary X-ray pulses through the document. Although at first concerned about potential harm to the document, Noel and the team conducted tests and decided the technique could be done safely. Bergmann’s idea worked. The first pictures emerged, line by line.
"I wished I could read ancient Greek. Very beautiful looking characters all over the place," Bergmann remembers.
The Man Who Erased History
The museum pressed ahead in its research and, just a few months ago, uncovered new diagrams and text in the original Greek -- as well as the signature of the scribe who erased the Archimedes text and wrote the prayers on top.
"It just popped up," says Noel. "A guy called Johannes Myronas."
Despite the damage done to the ancient text, Noel doesn’t blame Myronas for the present state of the book. In fact, Myronas was most likely responsible for the book's survival.
"What a gift he gave us," Noel points out. "The great advantage of having them wrapped up in a Christian prayer book is that they were treasured and looked after for centuries."
So it was a love of math that preserved Archimedes' work for the first thousand years -- and a love of God that carried it to the present.
Continued in article
The rich get richer and the poor get children
UC Atlas of Global Inequality --- http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/
Recording "People Memories"
The Peoples History is a site dedicated to preserving our memories for future generations, many of the things we accept as part of our way of life did not exist just 20 years ago, and many of the events that occurred before the coming of the Internet are well documented historically but do not have many memories from the people who lived through those events and changes.
"The People History: Where People Memories, History Join Together to Provide Online Social History," PR Web, July 31, 2006 --- http://www.prweb.com/releases/People/Memories/prweb415806.htm
Brain Study: Artists More Observant and Musicians More Tuned to Tones
"Researchers uncover basis for perceptual learning," PhysOrg, August 2, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news73753409.html
The artist's trained eye can detect distinctions others can't; musicians pick up subtle changes in tone lost on the nonmusical. Brain researchers call these abilities perceptual learning.
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Following up on an accidental finding, MIT researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and colleagues have uncovered a mechanism for this phenomenon. The study will appear in the Aug. 3 issue of Neuron.
The original idea was to look at how visual deprivation affects the brain. But before mice in the experiment were deprived of vision, researchers recorded baseline measurements by showing them a striped pattern on a video screen.
Unexpectedly, the researchers found that although no change showed up during the viewing session, as few as 12 hours later the mice were more visually "tuned" to the pattern they had seen. Over several sessions, the mice's brain responses to the stripes increased, with the biggest responses occurring to stripes the mice saw more often. The researchers dubbed this change "stimulus selective response potentiation" or SRP.
"The properties of SRP are strikingly similar to those described for some forms of human perceptual learning," said Mark Bear, Picower Professor of Neuroscience and co-author of the study. As a result, "understanding this type of perceptual learning is important because it can reveal mechanisms of implicit memory formation and might be exploited to promote rehabilitation after brain damage. Detailed knowledge of how practice changes brain chemistry is likely to suggest new pharmacological and behavioral therapies to facilitate these changes.
"Brain researchers have studied perceptual learning for a long time, but until now, there has never been any insight into the mechanism behind it," said Bear, who also holds an appointment in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Continued in article
PC World Test Center comparisons of HDTV television brands --- Click Here
"Chocolate Cellphone Only Looks Sweet; Its Design Is Flawed," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html
"Simply Disclosing Funds Behind Studies May Not Erase Bias," by Shirley S. Wang, The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2006; Page A11--- http://online.wsj.com/article/science_journal.html
Think you can't be bought for the price of a pen? Neither do most people. But we can be notoriously poor at judging ourselves, and our honesty, psychologists say.
For example, biomedical researchers reprimanded for failing to disclose financial ties to companies whose drugs or medical devices they study seem baffled over what they did wrong.
In the past few weeks, several top journals have published corrections noting that authors of papers failed to reveal they had served as paid consultants or speakers for companies whose products they studied, often receiving thousands of dollars. Such conflicts of interest are emerging as a major concern in research.
Studies show that even small gifts create feelings of obligation, and that those feelings can influence subsequent decisions, so why do many researchers feel they're immune to conflicts of interest?
Just as we fool ourselves into thinking we're more ethical, kind and generous than we are, so scientists can be blind to the very real possibility that their work is inappropriately influenced by financial ties. These psychological processes usually operate so subtly that people aren't aware that such ties can bias their judgment.
Receiving gifts and money creates the desire, often unconscious, to give something back, says Max Bazerman of Harvard Business School. Even small gifts can have an influence. Charities that send out free address labels, for example, get more in donations than those that don't. Customers who are given a 50-cent key chain at a pharmacy spend substantially more in the store.
Conflicts can be hard to recognize, because "cognitive bias" comes into play. "The mind has an enormous ability to see the world as we want," says Dr. Bazerman.
We are more likely to scrutinize information when it's inconsistent with how we want to see things, something psychologists call motivated skepticism. If a study about an anticipated new drug is sponsored by the manufacturer, "we don't kick into a higher gear of criticism," says psychologist David Dunning of Cornell University. "We just accept the findings" if they are positive, without digging too hard for possible flaws in methodology or statistics.
Studies of psychiatric drugs by researchers with a financial conflict of interest -- receiving speaking fees, owning stock, or being employed by the manufacturer -- are nearly five times as likely to find benefits in taking the drugs as studies by researchers who don't receive money from the industry, according to a review of 162 studies published last year in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Studies that the industry funded, but in which the researchers had no other financial ties, didn't have significantly different results than nonindustry-funded studies.
Studies can be designed in ways that boost the likelihood that results will come out a certain way, says Lisa Bero of the University of California, San Francisco. A new treatment can be compared with a placebo, instead of with a treatment already in use, making finding a significant statistical difference between the two more likely. Dosage and timing of medications, which make a big difference in their effectiveness and side effects, can also be manipulated, she says.
While studies in reputable journals are reviewed by experts in the field prior to publication, data require interpretation, which opens the door to subjectivity. If the numbers don't show an overall benefit of a drug, for instance, scientists with financial ties to the company might dig deeper to find one, perhaps to one small group, say, white women over 50 years of age.
Because it's rare for studies to show that one variable clearly causes an outcome, there's always room for doubt. Conflicted individuals, says Prof. Bazerman, "continue to have doubts long after objective observers are convinced by the evidence," as when some tobacco executives refused to admit that smoking is related to risk of cancer.
But simply disclosing financial ties, as many journals require of authors, may not help. In fact, it may make things worse. For one thing, readers don't know how much, if at all, a conflict has skewed the reported results.
In a 2005 experiment done by Harvard's Daylian Cain and colleagues, volunteers were given advice about how much money was in a jar of coins. In some cases, the advisers were unconflicted, and the volunteers used the advice to make good guesses about the coins (which they saw only fleetingly and from a distance). In other cases, the advisers had a monetary incentive to overestimate the value of the coins. The volunteers knew this, and adjusted the advice downward. But they didn't adjust enough, and overestimated the value.
Disclosure poses another problem: It may unconsciously tempt researchers to exaggerate their findings or put an even more pro-company spin on their data to counteract the expected reader skepticism. "If disclosure encourages you to cover your ears, it makes me shout louder," Dr. Cain says.
Bob Jensen's threads on "Appearance Versus the Reality of Research Independence and Freedom"--- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ResearchIndependence
What is the act of "spinning" in an initial public offering?
Clark McLeod, who had been the chairman and chief
executive of McLeodUSA, agreed to turn over $4.4 million in profits he was
accused of receiving from the so-called act of spinning, the New York attorney
general, Eliot Spitzer, was scheduled to announce Monday. Spinning is when
senior executives get preferential shares of stock in initial public offerings
from the same brokerage firm that they used as an investment banker.
"Ex-Chief of McLeod in $4.4 Million Settlement," The New York Times, July 31, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/31/business/31spin.html
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Interactions between the world of business and climate change
ClimateBiz --- http://www.climatebiz.com/
Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks ---
"Raises Harder to Come by, College Graduates Find," AccountingWeb, July 28, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102397
Salaries among the ranks of college-educated, white-collar American workers are eroding for the first time since the 1970s, as globalization adds a new twist to the U.S. economy.
Wages for employees with four-year degrees fell 5.2 percent from 2000 to 2004, when adjusted for inflation, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday, citing White House economists.
The decline in this sector has not been measured in a time of overall economic growth in roughly 30 years, the Times reported. The impact on the workforce is significant. About 30 million Americans, age 20 to 59, have a four-year degree and no advanced degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The White House did not report trends regarding people with advanced degrees, but similar studies have described salaries in this sector as essentially flat (inflation adjusted) between 2000 and 2004, the Times reported, while confirming a decline for people with four-year degrees.
However, some college graduates—namely accounting graduates—are faring well. Starting salaries for accounting majors rose 5.5 percent this year from 2005, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Starting salaries for humanities majors, by contrast, declined 4.1 percent over the same period.
The U.S. is now in its fifth year of growth since the last recession, according to the Times report. However, median weekly earnings have fallen by 3.2 percent in real terms since the start of the recovery in October 2001.
The trend is getting political attention. Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, Treasury secretaries during the Clinton administration, took part in a forum at the Brookings Institute Tuesday, challenging the current administration’s contention that all Americans have benefited from the growing U.S. economy.
On the other hand, many economists argue that the white-collar wage slump is part of the fallout of the Clinton policy of globalization, which has led to offshoring many manufacturing and call-center jobs to such countries as India, FT.com reported.
Meanwhile, employers have continued the trend of replacing salaried positions with lower-paid, non-salaried personnel, including part-time and freelance hires. Such contingent positions account for almost half of the 6.5 million jobs created since 2001, Paul Harrington, a labor economist at Northeastern University in Boston, told the Times.
Ed Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisors, told FT.com that focus on wage stagnation is misguided. First, he said, there are signs that hourly earnings growth is accelerating following a long lag. And second, the theory fails to capture broader growth in worker compensation, which includes pensions and health care provided by employers.
Social Networking Dangers: Colleges warn about networking sites
Incoming college students are hearing the usual warnings this summer about the dangers of everything from alcohol to credit card debt. But many are also getting lectured on a new topic - the risks of Internet postings, particularly on popular social networking sites such as Facebook. From large public schools such as Western Kentucky to smaller private ones like Birmingham-Southern and Smith, colleges around the country have revamped their orientation talks to students and parents to include online behavior. Others, Susquehanna University and Washington University in St. Louis among them, have new role-playing skits on the topic that students will watch and then break into smaller groups to discuss. Facebook, geared toward college students and boasting 7.5 million registered users, is a particular focus. But students are also hearing stories about those who came to regret postings to other online venues, from party photos on sites such as Webshots.com to comments about professors in blogs.
"Colleges warn about networking sites," PhysOrg, August 2, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news73762121.html
Bob Jensen's threads on fraud reporting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
What colleges offer the "best environments for gay students?"
The Advocate has published a new college guide
designed to focus on the 100 institutions with the best environments for gay
students. Institutions were ranked on “gay point averages,” based on various
policies and the availability of programs. The guide includes a “top 20″ list of
the best institutions, in alphabetical order. They are: American, Duke, Indiana,
Ohio State, New York, Pennsylvania State, Princeton, Stanford and Tufts
Universities; Oberlin College; and the Universities of California at Berkeley,
California at Los Angeles, California at Santa Cruz, Massachusetts at Amherst,
Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puget Sound, and Southern California.
Inside Higher Ed, August 3, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/03/qt
Loyola University New Orleans Sues for More Insurance Recovery
Loyola University New Orleans announced Wednesday that it is suing Continental Casualty Company for not paying on claims filed as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. The company is not commenting on the suit. Loyola says it made claims of $6 million in property damage and more than $22 million in revenue lost because it could not operate last fall. The university says it has received only $4 million. Loyola spent $200,000 to document the claims it filed with the insurance company.
Inside Higher Ed, August 3, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/08/03/qt
Forwarded by Robert Blystone [email@example.com]
Came by this and a reference URL.
Report: College Students Don’t Know Much Beyond Google
Of 10,000 high school and college students asked to evaluate a set of Web sites last fall, nearly half could not correctly judge which was the most objective, reliable, and timely, according to preliminary results of a digital-literacy assessment done by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the New Jersey nonprofit.
Terry Egan, project manager for the assessment, told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, “What we’re finding is not only does it [digital literacy] need to be taught at the higher education level, it needs to be taught a lot younger than that. I’m hoping that having an assessment like this available is going to change the paradigm of what people think is important to test and important to teach.” The newspaper reported that some University of Texas professors are now requesting seminars to teach students about the university library catalog and the approximately 200 computer databases available to them at the UT-Arlington library.
ETS has developed its first assessment to measure how students find, judge, and use information online. A key element is evaluating whether they can take the information and generate their own analyses or projects, Egan said.
For a more detailed "report" please see the following website
The question is how much they knew before Google.
Apes, not Monkeys, Ace IQ Tests
The great apes are the smartest of all nonhuman primates, with orangutans and chimpanzees consistently besting monkeys and lemurs on a variety of intelligence tests, Duke University Medical Center researchers have found. "It's clear that some species can and do develop enhanced abilities for solving particular problems," said Robert O. Deaner, Ph.D., who led the study as part of his doctoral dissertation. "But our results imply that natural selection may favor a general type of intelligence in some circumstances. We suspect that this was crucial in human evolution."
"Apes, not Monkeys, Ace IQ Tests," PhysOrg, April 2, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news73758353.html
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on July 28, 2006
TITLE: Majority of College Students Carry Credit Cards
REPORTER: Associated Press
DATE: Jul 18, 2006
LINK: Print Only
TOPICS: Accounting, Debt, Interest Rates
SUMMARY: The American Council on Education recently released a report on student holding of credit cards, when they carry a balance from month to month, and whether they use the cards to pay tuition.
1.) Do you have a credit card billed to you? If so, do you carry a balance without paying it off from month to month?
2.) What costs are incurred by those who carry credit card balances?
3.) What data in the article support the argument that some college students use credit cards to pay tuition bills? Why is this disadvantageous to do so, relative to accessing student loans?
4.) What reasons do you think might drive students to use credit cards rather than student loans to pay tuition invoices?
5.) Why do you think the American Council on Education analyzes data such as this on student credit cards and loan practices? To consider this answer, you may want to access ACE's web site at http://www.acenet.edu//AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home
Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
Scamming Apple Corporation Investors: Probe of Accounting for Options Digs Deeper
"Apple Options Probe Widens," Wired News, August 4, 2006 ---
Apple Computer says it expects to restate some of its financial results as a probe into its granting of stock options widens, threatening years of profits.
The notice of further evidence of "irregularities" comes as Apple has been riding its wildly popular iPod digital music player to the most profitable period in its 30-year history. Fueled largely by steadily rising iPod sales, Apple has reported $3.1 billion in profit during the past four years.
Without providing specifics, the computer and software maker said late Thursday it had uncovered enough evidence of mishandled stock options to raise doubts about the accuracy of its financial statements dating back to Sept. 29, 2002.
The developments threaten to rattle investors, based on how Wall Street has punished other companies that have recently disclosed potential accounting problems caused by stock option improprieties.
Apple shares fell $1.70, or 2.4 percent, to $67.89 in early trading Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where they have traded in a 52-week range of $42.02 to $86.40. The Cupertino, California-based company's market value has increased by about $55 billion since September 2002.
Apple first raised a red flag about the way it accounted for stock options in late June when it announced an internal investigation into a series of "irregularities."
Some of the nettlesome stock options were given to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but he voluntarily canceled those in 2003 before cashing them in.
After digging deeper, Apple uncovered enough new problems to prompt the company to hire an outside lawyer to take over the investigation and notify the Securities and Exchange Commission about its findings.
Apple hopes to complete its accounting review as quickly as possible, said company spokesman Steve Dowling. In the meantime, Apple may miss a deadline for filing its latest quarterly report with the SEC. The company said it has hired an outside lawyer to lead the investigation.
More than 60 other companies across the country are grappling with similar stock option headaches, but Apple is by far the most prominent of the lot to acknowledge trouble so far. While Apple hasn't explained exactly how it mishandled stock options, most of the problems at other companies so far have revolved around "backdating."
Under this practice, insiders try to make the rewards more lucrative by retroactively pinning the option's exercise price to a low point in the stock's value. Usually, a stock option's exercise price coincides with the market value at the time of a grant to give the recipient an incentive to drive the price higher.
If companies backdate options without accounting for the move, it can cause profits to be overstated and taxes to be underpaid.
The financial manipulation also exposes companies to possible fraud charges.
Continued in article
Also see The Washington Post article at
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting for employee stock options are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm
Scamming the Nigerian Scam Artists
"Baiters Teach Scammers a Lesson," by Robert Andrews, Wired News, August 4, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/internet/0,71387-0.html?tw=wn_index_1
They pilfer nearly $200 million from Americans annually and drive some of their victims to suicide, but Nigeria's notorious e-mail scam artists may finally have met their match -- and the results can be hilarious.British online vigilante "Shiver Metimbers" is leading tens of thousands of "scambaiters" in a crusade to shut down advance-fee fraudsters, grifters who spam unwitting victims with elaborate, e-mailed sob stories promising a share of nonexistent fortunes in return for upfront payments.
So-called 419 scams, named after the section of Nigeria's criminal code that covers the conduct, are the most common type of con; victims are sometimes left penniless.
But Metimbers and crew turn the tables on scammers one by one, boomeranging the tricksters' own tactics to entice them into performing outlandish tasks in desperate pursuit of cash -- then trumpeting evidence of the con artists' naïveté for the online world's amusement.
A 43-year-old, self-employed computer engineer from Manchester, England, Metimbers has most recently spun counter-yarns that have compelled 419ers to make elaborate wood carvings, pose for comical photos and fly from London to Scotland. In one episode, which concluded in March after a five-month exchange, he succeeded in having a Nigerian fraudster tattoo "Baited by Shiver" on his body in order to claim a fictional $46,000 prize.
"Another time, the scammer thought he was going to get $18,000 out of me, but I actually got the guy to send me $80," said Metimbers, who started the 419 Eater community site almost three years ago after receiving a wave of spam in his inbox.
"I've got between five and 10 on the go at any one time," Metimbers said. "The worst thing that could possibly happen to these guys is they get their photo slapped on a website. I feel like a cybervigilante, doing my bit for the public."
Metimbers, whose real forename is Mike and who spends up to seven hours a day scambaiting, is team captain in a growing internet blood sport, in which photographic evidence of competing baiters' successes constitute trophies.
419 Eater alone numbers more than 20,000 participants around the world. Other initiatives have also surfaced in the anti-scam resistance movement, including Artists Against 419, which kills criminals' online accounts with a deluge of traffic. Baiters delight in convincing correspondents to be photographed with embarrassing and lewd Western banners -- like Metimbers, they operate using aliases to protect themselves against the death threats issued by disgruntled scammers upon realizing they have been had.
"Shiver is exceedingly creative in getting scammers to allow their greed to override their judgment," said one disciple nicknamed mrsbean, a 29-year-old female IT worker from Kentucky who claims to have wasted months of organized scammers' time.
"It is equal parts theater, chess game, psychological study, crime prevention, education and vigilante justice; it's a battle of the wits," said mrsbean. "Internet scams are unique in that they offer you an opportunity to personally combat them without compromising your own safety; the same is just not true of most crime -- one wouldn't take on the drug dealers in a local neighborhood, for instance.
"The threat of jail certainly doesn't deter these people, but being humiliated in front of their peers just might cost them some reputation. It's likely the only punishment most scammers get."
Advance-fee fraud boomed in Nigeria as government corruption and an economic downturn during the 1990s fueled poverty and disillusionment in the country, said Insa Nolte of the University of Birmingham's Centre of West African Studies.
To some, internet scams looked like an easy way to bag some quick cash.
"The availability of e-mail helped to transform a local form of fraud into one of Nigeria's most important export industries," Nolte said.
Some law enforcers trying to shut down 419 scammers now look on scambaiters' brand of Schadenfreude with envy. The 419legal.org message board was started by a South African antifraud officer to gather intelligence from worldwide combatants, while London's Metropolitan Police said it began a "coordinated approach" this month to get tips directed from baiter sites to proper channels. But investigators warn the counter-criminals are walking a fine line.
"People do it as a hobby or a part-time occupation," said detective Sgt. Stephen Truick of the Met's Economic and Specialist Crime Operational Command Unit. "But what they often don't realize is that, while they are baiting, these criminals' accounts are left open and other people are still getting scammed.
"We are taking down around 200 sites and up to 2,000 e-mail accounts per month -- we are turning the tide," said Truick. "We've seen our traffic from sites like these increase -- that's been brilliant, but I could never condone some of their actions."
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on Nigerian frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#NigerianFraud
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
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Incontinence: When you gotta go, scratch the back of your calf
Physiotherapist Janetta Webb, a continence
specialist, told a medial gathering this was a short-term cure for many women
when they felt their bladders were bursting, The Age newspaper reports. "If you
scratch, or rub, the back of your calf vigorously, you may interrupt the message
from your bladder to your brain just long enough for you to make it to the
toilet," Webb said. Webb works for the Jean Hailes Foundation for
Women's Health, which has joined with the Continence Foundation of Australia to
raise awareness of continence.
"Scratch your leg, stall that pit stop," PhysOrg, August 3, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news73810559.html
"Socking it to cancer," PhysOrg, August 2, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news73757874.html
An Australian research team has identified a gene that could be used to stop tumours growing by blocking their blood supply.
A study led by Professor Peter Koopman, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland, showed that tumours in mice with a mutant form of the gene SOX18 actually stopped growing and became benign, unlike the lethal tumours that grew in normal mice.
Tumours only grow and spread if they can form a blood supply, and SOX18 is a key regulator of blood vessel formation. Mice with the mutant form of the gene were unable to develop blood vessels to feed the tumour.
“We were absolutely staggered to see that the tumours in these mice just stopped growing altogether at such a small size,” Professor Koopman said.
Continued in article
Why do so many people claim they are feeling more stressed out and anxious than ever?
"New Study Warns that Living Can Now Kill You," PR Web, July 28, 2006 --- http://www.prweb.com/releases/marketing/advertising/prweb416540.htm
There's a key reason beyond the reasons you usually hear.
More than the increasing speed of everything, more than the information overload, more than too many things to do, renowned consumer advocate and marketing columnist Brian Vaszily says it's because:
"Those of us in the media and marketing who control the messaging, in our unrelenting drive to get you to buy whatever it is we are trying to sell you - ideas, TV shows, politicians, pharmaceuticals, insurance, new habits, breakfast bars, automobiles, diet plans, etc. -- have you paranoid of absolutely everything."
A New Camera Provides Early Warnings of Glaucoma
A new camera invented by British Dr. Andy McNaughts could help adults who suffer from glaucoma or diabetes save their vision, it was reported. The camera invented by the Gloucestershire doctor can measure the back of the retina's oxygen levels and therefore give doctors advance warning of the onset of the potentially blinding diseases, the BBC reported. "There isn't anything like it at the moment worldwide," the Cheltenham General Hospital surgeon said. "It will be a welcome piece of equipment for ophthalmologists across the country." The camera is a non-invasive procedure to test the eye's circulation and could offer patients a better alternative than the previous technique of injecting a fluorescent dye into the eyes.
"Camera may hold key to blindness," PhysOrg, July 30, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news73409836.html
"Lawyers Find Technology Helps with Reading Workload," PR Web, July 28, 2006 --- http://www.prweb.com/releases/legal/textaloud/prweb417395.htm
A life in the legal profession is filled with challenges. From demanding hours and monumental workloads, to the challenges posed by constant deadlines, huge caseloads, firm and client management, and legal research -- it's a notoriously tough profession. And among those challenges for law students and lawyers are the tasks of preparing and proofing a variety of legal manuscripts, letters and documents, along with maintaining an often massive reading list -- from legislation changes and updates, to legal research and case preparation, industry articles, and more.
Luckily, Text to Speech programs like NextUp's TextAloud ( www.NextUp.com ) assist those in the law profession in proofing their work or keeping up with their reading no matter where they are, through the freedom offered by listening to the material read aloud. TextAloud is an award-winning program that converts text into spoken audio for listening on a PC, and that can also save text to audio files for playback on portables like the iPod (R), PocketPC (R), and a wide range of portable devices.
People from a wide variety of professions have already found TextAloud to be an indispensable everyday tool, but the program has proven particularly popular among those in the study or profession of law. Many small firms or single-attorney offices face a mountain of document preparation from deeds, wills, lawsuits, and other court documents -- without the time or manpower to adequately proof those materials. TextAloud has proven invaluable in these instances, helping to improve reading comprehension and speed while offering the opportunity to proof work "by ear," and from anywhere. The program's ability to address formidable reading or study challenges for such users no matter where they are -- out of the office, waiting for a court appearance, or even at leisure -- has proven to be truly transformative.
In recent surveys of TextAloud's legal industry users, several respondents noted their use of the program specifically for the pursuit or study of law -- following are just a few testimonials:
* David D. (Attorney): "As a lawyer, TextAloud saves me hundreds of hours a month. If I get a contract or other document that requires a complete but only cursory inspection, TextAloud can be great for that. I also listen to long e-mails, articles from my favorite Web sites, and even entire books. I honestly don't know how I ever got by without it."
* Gordon L. (Attorney): "I use TextAloud to keep me updated on new case law and legislation by downloading a text or even a PDF file (my favorite feature) and then having TextAloud read it aloud to me over my iPod. It's a good timesaving technique, and permits me to review more law than I would otherwise. And used in combination with a portable audio device like an iPod or other MP3 player, you can make relatively productive use of time spent driving, waiting in line, grocery shopping, etc. Using TextAloud lets me get home to my wife and three kids sooner, rather than later."
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Bob Jensen's threads on text to speech technology are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Text2
Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. --- http://www.ire.org/
Remember the days of front porch-sitting?
"Sitting on the Porch: Not a Place, But a State of Mind," by Michele Norris, NPR, July 28, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5589974
This summer, All Things Considered (on NPR) is examining the front porch: its history, its role in American life and literature and its rich symbolism.
Porches were a necessity before air conditioning, whether it was the screened sleeping porch or the broad, columned veranda where iced tea -- and gossip -- were plentiful.
In the mid-1800s, a well-known landscape gardener named Andrew Jackson Downing began writing about his vision of the American home -- and how it could stand apart from English architecture. The porch was key.
It functions as an important "transitional space between the private world of the family and the public realm of the street," notes David Schuyler, author of a biography of Dowling.
But today, many homes don't have that transitional space, and air-conditioning, television, computers and other enticements draw people inside the home. American porch culture isn't what it used to be. Claude Stephens is trying to change that.
By day, he's education director at an arboretum in Louisville, Ky. By evening, he's known as Crow Hollister, his "porch-sitting alias." Stephens is founder of the Professional Porch Sitters Union Local 1339. The group doesn't have a motto, just a suggestion: "Sit down a spell. That can wait."
"The Professional Porch Sitters Union is about not planning anything. Anybody can call a meeting at any time, and attendance is optional," Stephens says.
Most of us older folks recall those big front porches where people sat each hot evening while waiting for the inside of the house to cool down. These porches became nightly gatherings of neighbors. Certainly this was the case of my grandparents' big front porch in Swea City, Iowa. What killed the front porch gatherings in large measure was the combination of air conditioning and television. It became cooler and supposedly more entertaining to stay indoors. The unwanted effect, especially in larger cities, is that neighbors no longer know each other as well or even at all. Cities and even small towns have become crowds of strangers without front porches. If only the world now had front porches for cooling down.
Flashback From The Wall Street Journal, July
Corporate management is coming to a prettier pass. Those fair ladies of executive offices -- the secretaries -- are beginning to think, act and talk like their bosses. They're getting involved more and more in company decisions. The results are often startling -- and sometimes alarming.
Flashback From The Wall Street Journal, August 3,
If oil is up, can natural gas be far behind? Rising oil prices fueled strong second-quarter earnings reports recently among big oil producers. When the benchmark price of crude oil briefly hit $22 a barrel, gas industry officials were also heartened.
What is "pump-and-dump" brokerage fraud?
"Brokers Are Indicted in Fraud Case," The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2006, Page D2 --- Click Here
Eight brokers, including the nephew of the chief executive of microcap Stratus Services Group Inc., have been indicted in an alleged "pump-and-dump" scheme to artificially inflate the New Jersey temporary-staffing company's stock, Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau said.
At a press conference, Mr. Morgenthau said Christopher Janish of Parsippany, N.J.; Joseph Barile of Long Branch, N.J.; Arthur Caruso of Secaucus, N.J.; Marat Beksultanov of Brooklyn; and four other individuals defrauded hundreds of clients out of at least $13 million by inducing them to buy shares in lightly traded Stratus. Prosecutors declined to name the other individuals because they haven't yet been arraigned.
Four companies, including brokerage firm Essex & York Inc. and investment fund Pinnacle Investment Partners L.P., also have been charged in the matter.
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Bob Jensen's threads on brokerage fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#InvestmentBanking
Geography Lesson Forwarded by Auntie Bev
More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.
The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply. The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.
Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches. Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it, i.e.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.
Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.
Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village."
Next to Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world.
Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, carries the designation M-1, named so because it was the first paved road anywhere.
Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.
Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents.
Los Angeles's full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula --and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size: L.A.
New York City
The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930's who used the slang expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time - The Big Apple. There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland; more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy; and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.
There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio, every one is manmade.
The smallest island with country status is Pitcairn in Polynesia, at just 1.75 sq. miles/4,53 sq. km.
The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.
Siberia contains more than 25% of the world's forests.
The actual smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (S.M.O.M.). It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an area of two tennis courts, and as of 2001 had a population of 80, 20 less people than the Vatican. It is a sovereign entity under international law, just as the Vatican is.
In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, which did not receive a drop of rain for ten years. Technically though, the driest place on Earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island. There has been no rainfall there for two million years.
Spain literally means 'the land of rabbits.'
St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota, was originally called Pig's Eye after a man named Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant who set up the first business there.
Chances that a road is unpaved in the U.S.A.: 1%, in Canada: 75%.
The deepest hole ever made in the world is in Texas. It is as deep as 20 empire state buildings but only 3 inches wide. (So what was it for? Oil, of course!!! )
The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one-mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
The water of Angel Falls (the World's highest) in Venezuela drops 3,212 feet (979 meters). They are 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.
"Quest for Knowledge: You don't have to work in a lab to love these science books," by Russell Seitz, The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110008722
1. "De Re Metallica" by Georgius Agricola (1556).
In 1898, embedded reporter Winston Churchill, confronting Islamic terror in the Sudan, wrote: "Were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science--the science against which it had vainly struggled--the civilization of modern Europe might fall as did that of Rome." Thank God for Churchill's stout grasp of the importance of military technology. But it is to Herbert Hoover, the mining engineer and future president, that we owe the 1912 translation of "De Re Metallica." This Elizabethan classic is technology's first do-it-yourself manual, teaching (among much else) how to make iron from scratch, how to coin silver, and how to connect a waterwheel in a valley to a mine pump halfway up a mountain. The book reveals, along the way, that art and science are intertwined, in everything from Benvenuto Cellini's golden masterpieces to the cannons of the Thirty Years War. The Industrial Revolution starts here.
2. "Promethean Ambitions" by William R. Newman (University of Chicago, 2005).
As William R. Newman reminds us in "Promethean Ambitions," his fascinating history of alchemy, the failure to distinguish good science from bad has been a recipe for policy disaster for centuries. Newman shows that alchemists were more than dreamers trying to convert lead into gold. From 1200 to 1700, they followed trends in metaphysical fashion by trying to create tiny humans, called homunculi. One hears echoes of today's cloning debates in the 16th-century wrangling over the moral status of these imaginary creatures.
3. "Bedrock" edited by Lauren E. Savoy, Eldridge M. Moores and Judith E. Moores (Trinity University, 2006).
How can you comprehend the immensity of the Earth's past? Pick up this inch-thick book. In sections covering everything from "Faults, Earthquakes and Tsunamis" to "The Work of Ice," its six-dozen narratives of action and endurance, stasis and change, convey the wonders of deep time. Some of the geology writing is great, all of it absorbing, taken from the works of a marvelous array of writers. It fast-forwards two millennia from Pliny the Younger's description of his uncle's death in the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 to Ursula K. Le Guin's front-porch view of Mount St. Helens blowing sky high in 1980. No less riveting is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's account of landing his plane on a sandy Saharan plateau so remote that his are the first footprints there and the only rocks are fallen stars.
4. "Longitude" by Dava Sobel (Walker, 1995).
It's hard to know where you are in a universe where all is change. Once Newton's laws connected the heavens to the Earth, and mariners mastered the art of finding latitude, getting to the New World and back was transformed from an astrolabe-directed dice game into a comparatively routine enterprise. But ocean travel was still by no means simple or safe; determining one's east-west position remained a mystery. Dava Sobel recounts the human drama of a provincial British tinkerer named John Harrison racing for an 18th-century government prize. His invention of the chronometer touched off a second industrial revolution, in precision instruments, that propelled the world from the use of sextants to electronics and the satellite-driven navigation we know today.
5. "Cosmos" by Alexander von Humboldt (1845).
Exploration used to be a very sporty business. Consider Alexander von Humboldt, the polymath born in Berlin in 1769, who became the first scientific superstar and arguably the godfather of ecology. His daunting grand tour of the tropics in the early 1800s inspired Darwin's voyage on the Beagle a few decades later. Von Humboldt's tour de force included a 20,000-foot climb in the Andes--mountaineering's first encounter with the thin air of the so-called Death Zone. He had already discovered that the Amazon and Orinoco rivers were connected, something that had eluded the Spanish despite their 300 years in the region. Heading north, von Humboldt dropped by Monticello in time to help Jefferson plot Lewis and Clark's trip to the West in 1804. At once the first scientist and the last Romantic, von Humboldt late in life wrote "Cosmos," a magisterial, five-volume overview of the universe. It briefly outsold the Bible.
Mr. Seitz is a physicist in Cambridge, Mass.