Tidbits on August 26, 2006
earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
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
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures
Click here to search this Website if
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enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
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Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Online Video, Slide Shows, 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 ---
Do your students doze off in class or
otherwise show signs of inattention such as playing games or writing email
messages on their laptops while you are lecturing? Here's a Microsoft
invention to end all of that (you must be patient when waiting through early
diversionary parts of this video) ---
The above link was forwarded by Glen Gray. I might note that this invention can
help you if you have any type of attention deficit disorder while sitting at
your desk trying to write your next boring paper!
Microsoft Training Videos (humor) forwarded by Glen
MIT's Technology Review launches a new video blog -- TR
ShakeMovie: CalTech's Southern California Seismic Event Portal
The Astronomy Center ---
The Story of the Weeping Camel ---
Fox to Sell Movies, TV Shows for Download ---
"20th Century Fox to sell movies on IGN, MySpace" ---
CBS to Start Streaming Prime-Time Shows ---
Free music downloads ---
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 ---
Morning Has Broken ---
(If the audio does not commence in 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page
and turn it on.)
Dan Penn: 'A Little Something I Like' in Music ---
Sara Tavares Balances Musical Influences ---
Teng's Flamboyant Contraption Takes Off
Searching for the South in 'Wrong-Eyed Jesus' ---
Existential Angst with an Impish Straight Face ---
Do you remember these?
Midi Rock and Roll ---
Photographs and Art
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 ---
Mapping History ---
The Long Tail Review (History of Commerce and Communication in
the U.S.) ---
Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) ---
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
by Mary Shelley (1797-1851) ---
by Mary Shelley (1797-1851) ---
Sense And Sensibility by
Jane Austen (1775-1817) ---
Fables by Robert Louis
Stevenson (1850-1894) ---
Kentuckiana Digital Library (focus is on Kentucky history
and photographs) ---
'The Cremation of Sam McGee' (Humorous audio poem) ---
There are strange things done in the
By the men who toil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake
I cremated Sam McGee.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are
cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Reply from Roger Collins [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Bob, thanks for this issue - and the
Russell quote. Yeats had a more memorable version -
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate
-which, while it doesn't mention
intelligence, seems to express the same general sentiment.
Although Yeats and Russell were
contemporaries they don't seem to share much in terms of philosophy. See
both the reference for the poem and
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is
a revolutionary act.
George Orwell as quoted by Mark
Never say you know a man until you have divided an
inheritance with him.
As found at the bottom of an email message from Aaron Konstam.
The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to
Charlie Chaplin as quoted in a
recent email message from Patricia Doherty
Strip poker championships bring mass a-peel
Contestants from 12 countries in naked pursuit of ‘Gold Fig Leaf’
MSNBC News, August 19, 2006 ---
Usually, terrible things that are done with the
excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just
Russell Baker (1925) ---
There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life,
and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this
ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness
that one is alive.
Jack London (1876-1916) ---
A well-vetted principle of psychology is that people
place more value on avoiding a negative than gaining a positive, another reason
negative ads work. "Turnout goes up when people don't just prefer their
candidate, but strongly dislike the other guy," says Jon Krosnick of Stanford
University, Palo Alto, Calif. Evolutionary psychology has shown that people
naturally approach novel objects and individuals expecting the best. But since
it is adaptive to be hypersensitive to the possibility of someone or something
turning dangerous (a useful-looking stick turning out to be a poisonous snake,
for instance), "unfavorable information has an especially powerful impact,"
Prof. Krosnick and colleagues showed in a 2001 paper. There is, therefore, "an
advantage to presenting unfavorable information about one's opponent, rather
than presenting favorable information about oneself."
Sharon Begley, "Political Scientists Get More Scientific In Studying the Vote,"
The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2006; Page A11 ---
The choice is between the beach and the bunker," says Lebanese scholar
There is evidence that a majority of Lebanese Shiites would prefer the beach.
Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare
victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it
had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield
against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the
knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in
television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered
the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won. The tactic
worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have
become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a
majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an
investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of
accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora
has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state
within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical
ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.
"Arab writers are beginning to lift the veil on what really happened
in Lebanon," by Amir Taheri, The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2006 ---
There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a
prominent Shiite academic in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar
last week. She asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a
sarcastic answer: A Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran,
terrorizes fellow believers into silence, and leads the nation into
catastrophe without consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud,
writing in Elaph, a popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks
Hezbollah as "one of the worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time." He
accuses Mr. Nasrallah of risking Lebanon's existence in the service of
Iran's regional ambitions.
Before he provoked the war, Mr. Nasrallah faced
growing criticism not only from the Shiite community, but also from within
Hezbollah. Some in the political wing expressed dissatisfaction with his
overreliance on the movement's military and security apparatus. Speaking on
condition of anonymity, they described Mr. Nasrallah's style as "Stalinist"
and pointed to the fact that the party's leadership council (shura) has not
held a full session in five years. Mr. Nasrallah took all the major
decisions after clearing them with his Iranian and Syrian contacts, and made
sure that, on official visits to Tehran, he alone would meet Iran's "Supreme
Guide," Ali Khamenei.
Mr. Nasrallah justified his style by claiming that
involving too many people in decision-making could allow "the Zionist enemy"
to infiltrate the movement. Once he had received the Iranian green light to
provoke the war, Mr. Nasrallah acted without informing even the two
Hezbollah ministers in the Siniora cabinet or the 12 Hezbollah members of
the Lebanese Parliament.
Mr. Nasrallah was also criticized for his
acknowledgement of Ali Khamenei as Marjaa al-Taqlid (Source of Emulation),
the highest theological authority in Shiism. Highlighting his bay'aah
(allegiance), Mr. Nasrallah kisses the man's hand each time they meet. Many
Lebanese Shiites resent this because Mr. Khamenei, a powerful politician but
a lightweight in theological terms, is not recognized as Marjaa al-Taqlid in
Iran itself. The overwhelming majority of Lebanese Shiites regard Grand
Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in Iraq, or Ayatollah Muhammad-Hussein Fadhlallah, in
Beirut, as their "Source of Emulation."
Some Lebanese Shiites also question Mr. Nasrallah's
strategy of opposing Prime Minister Siniora's "Project for Peace," and
instead advancing an Iranian-backed "Project of Defiance." The coalition led
by Mr. Siniora wants to build Lebanon into a haven of peace in the heart of
a turbulent region. His critics dismiss this as a plan "to create a larger
Monaco." Mr. Nasrallah's "Project of Defiance," however, is aimed at turning
Lebanon into the frontline of Iranian defenses in a war of civilizations
between Islam (led by Tehran) and the "infidel," under American leadership."
The choice is between the beach and the bunker,"
says Lebanese scholar Nadim Shehadeh. There
is evidence that a majority of Lebanese Shiites would prefer the beach.
Liberal Writers Rally Against Israel
Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison and other
luminaries call to resist Israel's undeclared political aim: the liquidation of
the Palestinian state.
"A Letter from 18 Writers," The Nation, August 28, 2006 ---
No mention is made of declared (not undeclared) Palestinian intentions,
bolstered particularly by Syria and Iran, to liquidate Israel.
Palestinians feel that they are doing so to reclaim lands that are rightfully
theirs coupled with vengeance for past sufferings. Peaceful coexistence just
does not seem in the cards until the outside powers, including the U.S. and
Syria/Iran, cease arming and interfering. This probably will not happen until
after World War III.
Illustrative Iranian Cartoons of the Holocaust
Iran's best-selling newspaper announcing a competition to find the best cartoons
about the Holocaust in an effort to make them top on the list of Google
Amnesty International (AI) declares that Israel committed the war crimes
I can't find any AI criticism of of the raining down of thousands of Hezbollah
rockets on Israel so I guess recent Lebanon war crimes were one sided as far as
AI accusations go. Should only Israel's generals be tried in The Hague or should
dishonorable mention at least be given to Sheik Nasrallah for targeting
civilians with rockets and suicide bombings?
An AI video damning Israel is available at
Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or ‘collateral damage’? Israeli attacks on
It’s the usual AI fare, so slanted and deceptive it’s like reading a report from
another dimension, a dimension where Hizballah barely exists, and Israel
launched into an indiscriminate war against civilians simply because they’re
Snapped Shot goes over some of the more ludicrous parts of this document.
"Amnesty International Springs Into Action,"
In fairness, AI has previously criticized Iran's torture of its own dissidents ---
AI does better when it ferrets out torture and crimes against humanity within
nations. When it confronts nations its political agenda against anything U.S.
destroys AI credibility. In AI politics the U.S. is never good and is always
evil. AI would be much more effective if its political agenda was not
incessantly so lopsided. Why not declare that both Israel and Hezbollah
committed war crimes? The answer seems obvious!
Free Public Affairs Case Teaching Materials and Sometimes Entire Course
Materials from the University of Washington
The Electronic Hallway ---
The Electronic Hallway is
pleased to announce a unique and progressive new product—
Management: A Complete Core Curriculum
— a previously untested venture
in presenting an entire course package using online technology. This package
represents a 30 week integrated core management curriculum.
How to Talk Like an Iraqi:
Laptop software that can translate English-Arabic
conversations on the fly is being tested in Iraq ---
International Journal of Not-For-Profit Law (with special focus on the Middle
Columbia Journalism Review Daily ---
Press Release Web (Especially note the Todays News tab) ---
Drudge Report ---
National Association for Business Economics ---
What do Louisiana, Mississippi, and Bam/Khuzestan have in common?
The Iranian government's pledge of 500 million
dollars to Hezbollah has angered many Iranians who say they are still awaiting
money to help rebuild their homes that were damaged by wars and natural
disasters, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. The anger is particularly
fierce in the Khuzestan district, which sustained severe damage during the
Iran-Iraq war, and in Bam, which was hit hard by an earthquake three years ago .
. . "Informed sources" told Asharq Al-Awsat that spontaneous demonstrations were
staged in Bam and in Khuzestan on Friday as protesters shouted slogans critical
of Hezbollah and the government. They were demanding their homes be rebuilt
instead of the government intervening in Lebanese affairs.
Thomas Friedman, "War on Daddy’s Dime," The New York Times, August 23,
On One Hand Are the Positives About President Bush
Over six months in 1988, at least 50,000 Kurds were
killed, many of them victims of the mustard and nerve gas rained down by Iraqi
planes. Tens of thousands more were tortured or saw their villages turned to
rubble, their fields and rivers and newborn infants poisoned by the chemical
attacks . . . Mr. Hussein was America's ally of convenience against Iran, and it
was easier for the Reagan White House to look the other way.
Editorial, "The Spoils," The New York Times, August 22, 2006 ---
John Stewart interviewed New York Times writer Paul Krugman (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Krugman ) on August 23. Krugman contended
that, in spite of how bad Hussein was when instigating chemical attacks, we
should've continued to look the other way and not taken Hussein out
because Saddam helped to maintain stability in the volatile Middle East. This is
an example where a liberal writer and Ronald Regan had something in common not
shared by now President Bush.
Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and
every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but
it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global
reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
George W. Bush as quoted by Norman
Podhoretz, "Is the Bush Doctrine Dead? The president's critics are wrong. That
includes the neocons," The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2006 ---
We will persistently clarify the choice before every
ruler and every nation: the moral choice between oppression, which is always
wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. . . . We have confidence because
freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing
of the soul.
George W. Bush as quoted by Norman
Podhoretz, "Is the Bush Doctrine Dead? The president's critics are wrong. That
includes the neocons," The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2006 ---
There is only one force of history that can break
the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and
reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human
freedom. . . . America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. .
. . So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of
democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture.
George W. Bush as quoted by Norman
Podhoretz, "Is the Bush Doctrine Dead? The president's critics are wrong. That
includes the neocons," The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2006 ---
It is my contention that the Bush Doctrine is no
more dead today than the Truman Doctrine was cowardly in its own early career.
Bolstered by that analogy, I feel safe in predicting that, like the Truman
Doctrine in 1952, the Bush Doctrine will prove irreversible by the time its
author leaves the White House in 2008.
Norman Podhoretz, "Is the Bush Doctrine Dead? The
president's critics are wrong. That includes the neocons," The Wall Street
Journal, August 23, 2006 ---
On the Other Hand Are the Negatives About President Bush
The disease of America Hatred now has reached
pandemic proportions in many corners of the globe, spreading far beyond the
predictably hopeless fever swamps of Islamic militants, French intellectuals, or
Latin American demagogues. In fact, many citizens within the USA itself
energetically embrace the basic assumptions of America Hatred, perceiving their
country as an unequivocally negative force on the world scene. John Tirman,
director of MIT’s prestigious Center for International Studies, recently wrote a
book called “100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World.”
Michael Medved, "Why the world hates America," Townhall, August 23, 2006
So are they chastened by the mayhem? No, they want
us to dig ourselves a deeper hole. "It probably would require 450,000 troops to
quash an all-out civil war there," they say now. "Such an effort would require a
commitment of enormous military and economic resources, far in excess of what
the United States has already put forth." And once we bankrupt ourselves to make
Iraq a giant military prison camp, what will we do then? Find a new Hussein to
take over Iraq? As Lamont wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week, staying
the course when the car is headed off the cliff is hardly a realistic position.
Robert Scheer, "Truth Time for Democrats," The Nation, August 22, 2006
Perhaps the U.S. is not "entitled" to survive
Will America have to declare Chapter 11 because of $80
trillion in unfunded entitlement promises? That's a question posed recently by
Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University, in his attention-grabbing
essay on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security entitled: "Is the United States
Bankrupt?" Mr. Kotlikoff's answer is perhaps yes: "Nations can go broke, the
United States is going broke . . . and radical reform of U.S. fiscal
institutions is essential."
"The Entitlement Panic," The Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2006; Page
In practice governments do not declare bankruptcy in a Chapter 11 sense. They
either renege outright on entitlements or pay promises off in cheap inflated
currencies in imploded economies lacking sufficient economic growth to cover
Actually our entire future rides on continued economic growth which is scary
with the likes of China, China, and even Brazil making it harder and harder for
us to compete in the global arena.
You'd have to dig pretty far down in the duffle
bag of economists to find one who actually believes in the Philips Curve --
the idea that rapid growth causes inflation. In truth, rapid growth in
conjunction with restrained monetary base growth is a surefire prescription
for stable low inflation. The old saw that too much money chasing too few
goods results in inflation couldn't be more accurate. But rapid growth does
have predictable consequences on the relative prices of various products.
Arthur B. Laffer, "The Flawless Fed, The Wall Street Journal, August
24, 2006; Page A10 ---
The Pending Meltdown of the United States:
It's largely the fault of a president who would not halt
spendthrifts like himself
Historians will note spring 2006 as
the time when America's fiscal meltdown became unavoidable.
Fiscal conservatism is not just dead in Washington; it is
long forgotten, and no resurrection is on the horizon.
Despite a brief blip of outrage over bridges-to-nowhere and
obscene earmarks growing rampant and engorged, budget talk
has again turned into a bidding war. The Bush
administration's own modest (virtually
attempts to restrain spending
have been swept away by a Congress eager to spend as much as
possible in a midterm election year. The numbers tell a sad
enough tale. Federal spending is now 20.8 percent of GDP, up
from the 18.4 percent President Bush inherited from
Jeff A. Taylor, "Cash Carries the Day Spending is the Alpha and Omega in
Washington," Reason Magazine, March 17, 2006 ---
It's not clear that fiscal sanity can be maintained in a me-first society where
the welfare of future generations is asymptotically approaching zero among
me-first hand-to-mouth constituents. Whereas our parents would scrimp and slave and
sacrifice everything for our education, our medical care, and our grandparents'
care, today's parents want the government to pay for everything that we and our
grandparents need. We've come to think everything is free from the government.
Any attempt to put the brakes on entitlements is political suicide since the day
Ronald Regan drained all the ink from the White House veto pen.
Bob Jensen's threads on the looming entitlements disaster, along with Milton
Friedman's early warnings, are at
"A Faith Divided: Will Sunni-Shia war engulf the new Middle East?" by
Masood Farivar, The Wall Street Journal, August 2006 ---
As violence rages in Iraq, it has become ever more
difficult to make sense of it all. Undoubtedly some is the work of
terrorists bent on disrupting the democratic process, some the work of
Sunnis and Baathists angry at their loss of power. But to Vali Nasr, author
of "The Shia Revival," most of the current violence is part of a broad
sectarian conflict. The fall of Saddam Hussein, he argues, has indeed given
birth to a "new Middle East"--but not yet the one hoped for. We are now
seeing the Shia of Islam, newly empowered in Iraq and ever more militant in
Iran, challenge the Sunnis--Islam's dominant sect--in a conflict that will
take years to resolve, if not decades.
Like many modern-day sectarian rifts, this one
predates the modern era--in this case, by well more than a millennium. In
the succession crisis that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad in
632, the majority of Muslims elected as caliph one of the Prophet's closest
companions. A minority dissented, arguing that the Prophet had passed the
leadership of his community to Ali, his cousin and son-in-law. The
dissenters became known as "Shiat-Ali," or Partisans of Ali. The followers
of Muhammad's "Sunna," or tradition, became known as Sunnis. In time, each
side developed what Mr. Nasr calls a distinct "ethos of faith and piety."
The Shia got their wish when Ali became the fourth
caliph, but the pivotal moment in Shia history came in 680 when Ali's son
Hussein and 72 of his followers were massacred in the desert of southern
Iraq after challenging the authority of Islam's sixth caliph. For the Shia,
Hussein came to symbolize resistance to tyranny; his martyrdom is
commemorated to this day as a central act of Shia piety.
With the exception of a few short-lived Shia
dynasties (Iraq is not the first Shia Arab state), the Shia never really
wielded political power, living mostly as a marginalized minority under
Sunni rule. This historical experience, Mr. Nasr observes, has long imbued
the Sunnis with a sense of "worldly success," and a presumption of mastery,
while furnishing the Shia underdogs with a narrative of "martyrdom,
persecution, and suffering."
Mr. Nasr uses this history to explain why Iraq's
Shia so eagerly embraced the fall of Saddam Hussein. Whereas the Americans
saw regime change in Iraq as a harbinger of democracy, Iraq's Shia viewed it
primarily as the end to centuries of Sunni domination. And Saddam's fall
inevitably stirred hopes for a Shia revival elsewhere. The mantra "one man,
one vote" has reverberated among the politically marginalized Shia of Saudi
Arabia, Bahrain and Lebanon, where Hezbollah's TV station has recited
democracy's shibboleths as part of its own campaign to win a larger
All this agitation has alarmed the region's Sunni
leaders, Mr. Nasr observes, and not just the Sunni fundamentalists. King
Abdullah of Jordan has warned about the emergence of a "Shia crescent"
slicing across the region; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has questioned
the Shia's Arab loyalties. Certainly both Egypt and Jordan--and many other
nations in the region--have reason to be concerned about the rise of a Shia-dominated
Iraq allying with Iran, the Mideast's other Shia powerhouse.
Mr. Nasr is at his best when he explains the
historical ties among Shia, not least among Shia in Iran and Iraq. It was
thought, before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, that a new Iraq would turn
away from Iran because of the profound cultural differences between Arabs
and Persians and because of their widely different historical experience. It
is true that Iraq is unlikely to follow Iran's theocratic model--Iraq's
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is the follower of the most vocal clerical
critic of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's current
theocracy. But ties between the Shia of Iran and Iraq have grown stronger
since the invasion, Mr. Nasr notes, and Tehran, he believes, holds the key
to stability in Iraq. Thus Mr. Nasr urges the U.S. to normalize its
relations with Iran, despite the heated rhetoric of recent months and
quarrels over the intent of Iran's nuclear program.
It must be said that Mr. Nasr supports his
arguments by over-citing extremists on both sides of the sectarian divide.
There is no doubt that such extremists play a role, intensifying the crisis
and propelling the violence. But such an approach, on Mr. Nasr's part, has
the effect of playing down unfairly the many moderate participants in these
debates who aim at reconciliation and who respect the normal give-and-take
of politics. In short, the Sunni-Shia divide does not yet even begin to
approach the division, within Christianity, that incited the long and bloody
Wars of Religion in the 16th and 17th centuries.
More important, Mr. Nasr minimizes a reality at
odds with his thesis: Religious extremism and anti-Americanism cut across
sectarian lines. The strategic alliance directed at the U.S.--Iran, Syria,
Hezbollah and Hamas--is half Sunni and half Shia. What is more, the region's
other great powers--Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria--are overwhelmingly Sunni.
Thus if the Shia are to gain rights in these countries, they are going to
have to do so as citizens of each rather than as members of a pan-Shia
Mr. Nasr urges the Bush administration to engage
the region's Shia before it worries about the spread of democracy. But it
was democracy that brought the Shia to power, and it will be democracy that
will redress their centuries-old sense of injustice.
More Lies in Islamic Websites: Hezbollah sinks Australian warship?
An Iran-based Hezbollah Web site posted what it claimed
was a photo of an Israeli warship it had blown up last month. Andrew Bolt of the
Melbourne, Australia, Herald Sun notes that the image (our own embellished
version of which is shown alongside) actually depicts the deliberate sinking in
1998 of the HMAS Torrens, a destroyer-escort decommissioned from the Royal
Australian Navy. Should we now think that we were in fact attacked by Hezbollah
- or is this just the latest proof that Hezbollah will lie and lie again for
Andrew Bolt, "Hezbollah sinks Australian warship," Australia's Herald Sun,
August 24, 2006 ---
Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the
The next several editions of Tidbits will feature the writings of Gabriel
Weimann on www.terror.net:How
Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet ---
Weimann's research is exceptionally thorough. Aside from Web sites on how to
make bombs, and sites that help coordinate specific terror incidents, are the
much more serious sites and "social networks" that utilize the sophisticated
psychology and sociology of fear and terror to incite hate and indoctrinate our
disaffected youth of the world. Target audiences also range clear down into
preschoolers who are not yet but soon will be disaffected.
Web terrorism is frightening propaganda that's
been mostly ignored in higher education research. World media and our silent
majority of the Western world and Far East appear to be largely unaware of how
we're losing a propaganda war to Internet propaganda machines of frightening
scale and exploding success. I watched Dr. Weimann give a lecture on television
last night and became aghast at his samplings of thousands of terrorism
Websites, including many that are not connected to Islamic terrorism and some
that are even Zionist terror sites. About 60% of the thousands of terrorism
sites are in the United States. The target audience is largely disaffected youth
in all nations of the world. More and more young people are being influenced by
this propaganda. Witness the proportion of the recent arrests in the U.K. that
were not young men and women born into either hate families or poverty.
Weimann's television presentation was
exceptionally academic and fair minded about why this propaganda machine is
taking off like a rocket. He would make an excellent speaker for college events.
His message is that trying to censure this material or control the Internet
would be both futile and counterproductive. Young people almost always want
what's denied to them. The answer lies in a concerted effort to combat terror
propaganda on the Internet with education and research. I personally feel that
Websites on religion which are already flooding the Internet are misguided since
they are mostly of interest to youths who already have religion. The target
group of counter-terrorism should be disaffected youths and adults who are
largely uneducated and vulnerable to propaganda. I'm no expert on
counter-propaganda tactics, but it's absolutely clear to me that educators and
researchers must become more directly involved in Internet tactics. We also need
to become less prejudiced against people of other races, creeds, and national
origins who might become more disaffected because of our own prejudices.
For openers, colleges
should begin to add courses or course modules on the Internet of Terror. For now
I will pose a question for you to investigate before I take up the topic. Since
terror is contrary to Islam, what do you think's the ultimate and very clever
vision, according to Professor Weimann, that terrorists are portraying when, not
if, they take over what's left of the entire world?
Clue: The answer is not radical Islamic fundamentalism which is largely a
turnoff even in Muslim nations.
I ordered Weismann's new textbook and
recommend that you do the same.
Textbook Hardcover ---
Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the New Challenges by Gabriel
As an added comment I might mention my opinion that early Cold War propaganda
machines eventually failed because they attempted to change the mindsets of
entire nations of people. The majority of educated adults on both sides of the
propaganda wars generally learn how to see through lopsided propaganda machines.
But terrorists today are not necessarily targeting entire nations. What
terrorists really need are small proportions of fanatic converts in all nations,
including all predominantly Muslim nations, who are willing to become suicide
bombers, assassins, chemical experts, biological warfare experts, nuclear
engineering experts, and Internet activists in terrorist cells planted
throughout the world.
Recall that the early Cold War propaganda machines did not have the
magnificent Internet. Our biggest enemy is now the Internet and terror
propaganda. And our main hope is also the Internet coupled with education and
research initiatives that eventually wake up the silent majority throughout the
world. Propaganda cannot be used to fight propaganda. Education that takes up
all sides of issues must be used to fight lopsided propaganda.
But you have to admit that Hezbollah had a great rocket that would
traverse half of the earth to sink a decommisioned Australian warship.
What new technology allows us to search television broadcasts in a manner
similar to surfing the Net on a computer?
"Googling Your TV: Prototype software from Google Research could listen
to your TV and send back useful information -- and ads of course," by Wade
Roush, MIT's Technology Review, August 24, 2006 ---
Google probably already knows what search terms you
use, what Web pages you're viewing, and what you write about in your e-mail
-- after all, that's how it serves up the text ads targeted to the Web
content on your screen.
Pretty soon, Google may also know what TV programs
you watch -- and could use that information to send you more advertising,
leavened with information pertinent to a show.
A system recently outlined by researchers at Google
amounts to personalized TV without the fancy set-top equipment required by
previous (and failed) attempts at interactive television. Their prototype
software, detailed in a conference presentation in Europe last June, uses a
computer's built-in microphone to listen to the sounds in a room. It then
filters each five-second snippet of sound to pick out audio from a TV,
reduces the snippet to a digital "fingerprint," searches an Internet server
for a matching fingerprint from a pre-recorded show, and, if it finds a
match, displays ads, chat rooms, or other information related to that
snippet on the user's computer.
Letting Google listen in on your living-room
activities may sound like a privacy nightmare. Given the recent firestorm
over AOL's accidental releasing of search records for 685,000 members,
consumers are more sensitive than ever to how search companies might misuse
personal information, deliberately or not.
But the fingerprinting technology used in the
Google prototype makes it impossible for the company to eavesdrop on other
sounds in the room, such as personal conversations, according to the Google
team. In the end, the researchers say, the only personal information
revealed is TV-watching preferences.
Google research director Peter Norvig predicts that
the prototype, which uses an audio identification technique invented outside
Google and applied to a uniquely large database of recorded sound, will
eventually evolve into a product. And it's attracted plenty of attention
from technology watchers, who see a big potential payoff for Google and
other companies if a system for bridging TV and Web content can be made
practical. For now, though, it's still an early-stage research project.
"We weren't really pitching an application that we
want to do here and now, but rather a concept," says Michael Fink, lead
researcher on the project. Fink works at the Center for Neural Computation
at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is spending the summer at Google. "We
wanted to open people's minds to the possibility of using ambient audio as a
medium for querying web content," he says.
Computer science researcher Yan Ke and colleagues
at Carnegie Mellon University laid the groundwork for the idea when they
created software that reduced audio segments to very small fingerprints. The
program, which runs on a conventional PC, converts spurts of sound into
two-dimensional graphs, and uses computer vision algorithms to weed out
background noise and boil down the graphs to a few key features that can
then be translated into electronic bits. In this way, one second of audio
can be reduced to four bytes of information -- meaning the fingerprints for
an entire year of television programming would add up to no more than a few
gigabytes, according to Fink.
In Google's prototype, the fingerprints alone are
transmitted from a user's home computer to the company's audio database
server, where they're compared with the fingerprints from almost 100 hours
of recorded video. A special algorithm developed by Fink and Google
colleagues Michele Covell and Shumeet Baluja reduces the possibility of
mismatches; in tests, the system achieved a "false positive" rate of between
1 percent and 6 percent, meaning that only six or fewer times out of 100 did
it match audio fingerprints from the user with the wrong snippet of audio
from a recorded show (with irrelevant information showing up on the user's
screen as a result).
Continued in article
Logitech unveils mouse with motorized scroll wheel moving in four
MIT's Technology Review, August 25, 2006 ---
Computer accessory maker Logitech International SA
is introducing a mouse with a free-spinning motorized scroll wheel it
believes will help people more efficiently race through pages on their
The company said Thursday it is launching cordless
laser mice with an alloy wheel that spins for up to 7 seconds and can scroll
through up to 10,000 Microsoft Excel lines with a single flick. Users can
stop the wheel by tapping it.
The desktop model can automatically switch back to
traditional click-scrolling depending on the application, and can toggle
back and forth on its own during a task depending on how fast the user is
A software program synched to the mouse can sense
the user's application, and sends a signal to a small motor to engage or
disengage the ratchets that regulate the wheel's speed during
Clicking the wheel also allows users to switch back
Continued in article
"Powerline Adapters Bring Internet Access To Your Entire Home," by
Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2006; Page B1 ---
Last week, I reviewed some new Wi-Fi wireless
Internet gear that promised to deliver a fast Internet signal to the
farthest corners of your home. Alas, my tests showed that the new models
weren't so great.
But there's more than one way to get a strong, fast
Internet signal all over your house. You aren't limited to using a single
wireless router. You don't have to install a bunch of complicated wireless
"range extenders." And you don't have to snake networking cables through
Instead, there's a simple alternative that's often
overlooked: Using small gadgets called Powerline adapters, you can route
your Internet connection around your house over your regular electrical
power lines, the ones already in your walls. It really works, it's fast and
it doesn't disrupt your electrical system. Even better, it requires zero
You just plug one of the adapters into a standard
electrical outlet near the place where your Internet connection enters your
home. Then, you connect the adapter to your wired or wireless router. Next,
you plug a second, identical adapter into an electrical outlet in a distant
room where you lack an Internet connection. Finally, you plug a computer (or
even a wireless access point) into that second adapter. There's no setup, no
required software and no technicians or tools are needed.
When you plug in a computer into the second
Powerline adapter, it's as if that computer was right next to your cable or
DSL modem and router. You are on the Internet at full speed. If you plug a
Wi-Fi wireless access point into the second Powerline adapter, it will
create a wireless network in and around the distant room, which multiple
computers can use.
I first reviewed these Powerline adapters in 2003.
I liked them, but they were a little slow and never took off. Now, however,
one of the leading home network product makers, Netgear, offers a whole line
of faster Powerline adapters.
I've been testing one of Netgear's newest models,
the XE104, which costs $100 per adapter, and I can heartily recommend it. It
couldn't be simpler or more effective. In my tests, the XE104 gave me
wicked-fast connections. I tried plugging Windows and Macintosh laptops
directly into the adapters in rooms where my wireless signal was weakest. I
also tried plugging a Wi-Fi wireless access point into an XE104 adapter and
picking up the connection wirelessly on the laptops. (An access point is a
wireless gadget that takes a wired Internet connection and propagates it
through the air.)
In all scenarios, the Netgear XE104 adapters
delivered nearly the full speed of my Internet service, which in my case is
very fast -- 15 megabits per second downstream and two mbps upstream. In
fact, the XE104 can handle speeds up to 85 mbps, far faster than any common
You can use up to four Netgear adapters at once,
and the company claims they will cover a 5,000-square-foot home. Netgear
includes optional software to encrypt your Powerline connection, but this is
needed only if you share an electrical system with other families.
Linksys, Belkin and other companies also make
Powerline adapters, sometimes called bridges. But Netgear is the leader in
this category, and I didn't test the other brands.
The XE104 is a small, white rectangular gadget
about 4 inches high, 3 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick. It carries a
standard two-pronged electrical plug and mounts right into the wall outlet.
On the side, there are four standard Ethernet
network ports, like the kind on your router and laptop. Netgear includes a
short Ethernet cable so you can connect the first adapter to your router and
the second one to a PC or a wireless access point.
The four Ethernet ports are what make the XE104 a
"switch." They allow you to connect each adapter to multiple devices. For
instance, the first adapter can be connected both to your router and to a
PC. The second might be connected to a PC, a wireless access point and a
device like a game console.
Netgear makes a similar model without the multiple
Ethernet ports, called the XE103, for $80. There's also a costlier model
that goes up to 200 mbps, though that's overkill for 99% of people.
The company also makes a Powerline adapter with a
built-in wireless access point for the distant room, the $150 WGXB102 model.
This saves you the cost and hassle of buying and connecting a separate
access point. But it's slower and uses older technology. In my tests, it was
less than half as fast as using the XE104 with a separate, modern wireless
Unfortunately, like a lot of network-equipment
makers, Netgear is clueless about naming products so that normal humans can
understand what they are. The XE104 is officially called the XE104 85 Mbps
Wall-Plugged Ethernet Switch. That's like calling a table lamp the LS482 75
Watt Wall-Plugged Switched Illumination Device.
Netgear even makes it hard to find the XE104 on its
Web site, netgear.com. It lists it under a section called "Bridges, Access
Points, and Range Extenders." You can buy them at computer stores and other
These adapters are a terrific way to clear up
Internet dead spots.
"IRS issues warning about identity theft," Free
Republic, August 24, 2006 ---
The IRS warned taxpayers Wednesday not to be duped
by scammers posing as private debt collectors the agency has hired to chase
unpaid tax debts.
The Internal Revenue Service designed the debt
collection program to minimize that risk "because we know what it's like out
there with regard to identity theft nowadays," said Brady Bennett, IRS
director of collection.
But some critics of the program see so many
pitfalls that they're urging debtors to insist on negotiating payment
directly with the IRS.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which
represents IRS employees and opposes the program, has even drafted a sample
letter that taxpayers can send to opt out of the private collection program
and demand that the IRS handle their case.
The IRS plans to assign 12,500 accounts with unpaid
tax debts to three private agencies beginning Sept. 7. About 40,000 accounts
will be turned over by the end of the year. The IRS chose taxpayers who owe
less than $25,000 and don't dispute the debt.
Anyone contacted by a private collection agency has
the right, among others, to insist that only the IRS deal with their
account. Bennett said he hoped few taxpayers with debts sent to private
collectors would opt out.
"The purpose of this program is to provide value to
the American taxpayer. Those who don't pay have an impact on everybody else
who does," he said.
Bob Jensen's threads on identity theft are at
Bob Jensen's threads on tax scams are at
Senator Ted Stevens has no idea how the Internet works, but
he's asking Congress to remake it to suit the interests of the
telecommunications industry. Can progressives apply the pressure to kill this
Lured by huge checks handed out by the
country's top lobbyists, members of Congress could soon strike a blow against
Internet freedom as they seek to resolve the hot-button controversy over
preserving "network neutrality." The telecommunications reform bill now moving
through Congress threatens to be a major setback for those who hope that digital
media can foster a more democratic society. The bill not only precludes net
neutrality safeguards but also eliminates local community oversight of digital
communications provided by cable and phone giants. It sets the stage for the
privatized, consolidated and unregulated communications system that is at the
core of the phone and cable lobbies' political agenda.
Jeffrey Chester, "Congress Poised to Unravel the Internet," The Nation,
August 18, 2006 ---
In both the House and Senate versions of the bill,
Americans are described as "consumers" and "subscribers," not citizens
deserving substantial rights when it comes to the creation and distribution
of digital media. A handful of companies stand to gain incredible monopoly
power from such legislation, especially AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and
Verizon. They have already used their political clout in Washington to
secure for the phone and cable industries a stunning 98 percent control of
the US residential market for high-speed Internet.
Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens, the powerful
Commerce Committee chair, is trying to line up votes for his "Advanced
Telecommunications and Opportunities Reform Act." It was Stevens who
called the Internet a "series
of tubes" as he tried to explain his bill. Now the
subject of well-honed satirical jabs from The Daily Show, as well as
dozens of independently made
Stevens is hunkering down to get his bill passed by
the Senate when it reconvenes in September.
Continued in article
Collegiate Plagiarism News
An investigative committee is pushing for the
dismissal of Don Heinrich Tolzmann, who teaches history and works as a librarian
at the University of Cincinnati,
The Enquirer reported. A panel there found
duplications between Tolzmann’s book The German-American Experience and a text
written in 1962. Tolzmann strongly denies wrongdoing, which was first alleged in
H-Net review. At Ohio University, which has been
dealing with charges of plagiarized master’s theses, the institution announced
that graduates accused of plagiarism would face hearings to determine the status
of their degrees, the
Associated Press reported.
Inside Higher Ed, August 25, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at
Just how unique is the United States in the history of the world?
In either version, the United States stands as a nation apart —
somehow the product of forces cutting it off from the rest of the world’s
history. But Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of
California at Davis, takes a different and rather paradoxical approach to
American exceptionalism in his new book,
Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America, published by Hill and
Scott McLemee, "The Global Exception," Inside Higher Ed, August 23, 2006
Q: We live on a dirt road in rural Virginia with no cable
and can't get DSL. How can we get broadband? We would prefer not to do a
satellite connection because you still need a phone modem to send material. Is
there some kind of fast wireless connection we could get from our PC to our ISP?
I see laptops with wireless antennas sticking out of them around here and they
must transmit to somewhere.
Walt Mossberg's Answer ---
A: Satellite Internet access has improved, and no longer requires a
dial-up modem for the return path -- in fact no use of the phone line is
needed at all. Of course, as with any satellite service, your house must
have a clear line of sight to the area of the sky where the particular
satellite you use is situated. For more information, see
Another option, if you have good
cellphone coverage, is a broadband cell-phone modem. It uses the cellphone
network to connect you to the Internet at speeds roughly comparable with a
slow home DSL line -- which is still much, much faster than your current
dial-up connection. This is probably what all those laptops with antennas
These cellphone modems, using a
technology called EVDO, are offered by Verizon and Sprint, and Cingular is
slowly building a similar wireless broadband capability. For more
information, see the Web sites of the phone carriers.
In some parts of the country, but not
Virginia, a company called Clearwire is offering wireless broadband to rural
Bob (George) Newhart's Early Years as a Bookkeeper
(Thank God his Loyola University-Chicago degree is in management and not
"Finding My Funny Bone," by Bob Newhart, Readers Digest, September
2006, pp. 93-94
(These are excerpts form his book entitled
I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This. ISBN:
Salesmen would come in from the road and turn in
their receipts. I'd give them cash and put the receipts in the petty-cash
drawer. At the end of the day, I'd have to reconcile what was in the drawer
with the receipts. It was always close, bit it never balanced. At five
o'clock, when everybody else was leaving the office, I'd be tearing my hair
out because petty cash was short by $1.48. Around 8 p.m., I'd find the
I followed this routine for a couple weeks.
Finally, one day, I pulled the amount I was short from my pocket --- $1.67
--- put it in the drawer, and called it a day.
Not long after, the petty cash drawer was over by
$2.11. So I took $2.11 out of petty cash and pocketed that. I was hardly
stealing. Inevitably, in the next couple days, I would be under, and back
the money would go.
After several weeks of this, Mr. Hutchinson, head
of accounting, discovered by shortcut to balancing petty cash. "George," he
lectured me, using my given name, "These are not sound accounting
"You know, Mr. Hutchinson," I said, "I just don't
think I'm cut out for accounting. Why would you pay me $6 an hour to spend
four hours finding $1.40?"
August 19, 2006 reply from Ramsey, Donald
Newhart apparently learned more about internal
control in his starring role in the film "Hot Millions", in which he plays a
corporate controller who finally blows the whistle on embezzler Peter
Ustinov. The film is jam packed with accounting issues--everything from
identity theft to building security--there must have been an accountant
somewhere in the screenwriting department. It's also very funny. Ustinov
cracks the computer access system (learns to turn it off from a cleaning
woman who knows where to bump the cabinet) and has it write checks to
several mail drops around Europe. Straight out of the auditing textbook.
The film is available on the Internet. I show it on
the first day of class in Principles I, when not everyone shows up, and
distribute a checklist of internal control issues to look for.
There is even a surprise ending that involves
corporate governance and some very heavy internal politics; but a happy
ending, thanks to Dame Maggie Smith in her salad days.
My other favorite, more on finance and ethics, is
Jack Lemmon in "Save the Tiger". I use that one on the first day of
Donald D. Ramsey
University of the District of Columbia
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting humor are at
Go East young woman, go East
plans to double the number of MBAs it hires this year
A KPMG recruiter talks about what the firm is looking for in hiring next year
Stricter accounting rules enacted in the
aftermath of recent corporate scandals has led to a hiring boom in the
accounting industry, and experienced hires are in especially high demand.
BusinessWeek.com reporter Kerry Miller spoke recently to a KPMG recruiter about
the company's undergraduate hiring. She also talked to Cheryl Levy, KPMG's
national director for experienced hire recruiting, about the company's rapidly
expanding opportunities for MBAs.
Business Week's MBA Express, August 23, 2006 ---
KPMG has nearly 100,000 employees and hires thousands of accounting majors each
year, most of whom now have masters degrees in accounting and tax in the U.S.
due to state requirements to sit for the CPA Examination. Although KPMG intends
to double its hiring rate of 60 MBAs to 120 new MBAs next year, the number of
MBAs hired is very small compared to the hiring rates of undergraduate and
graduate accounting majors. Sarbanes somewhat artificially created a hiring boom
in the U.S., although the revenue growth is substantial and restored
profitability to auditing engagements. The growth market in world revenues for
all international accounting firms is stagnant in Europe and explosive in the
Far East ---
Advising students to double major in accounting and Chinese is getting to
be better advice each year
Who was it that said "Go East young woman, go East?" At Trinity University
there's been a significant increase in demand to study Chinese, and some these
graduates are now working for the Big Four in China. Probably the best blog for
what is happening in accounting in the Far East is Paul Pacter's IAS Plus
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting careers are at
Then why do we call it a strip mall if you can't strip?
Complaints about young people who spend time in
downtown naked have prompted the Select Board (Brattleborro, VT)
to explore an anti-nudity ordinance. Groups of young
people have been congregating in a downtown parking lot and enjoying the warm
summer weather without clothing, and that bothers some local residents. "A
parking lot is not a strip club. It's a parking lot," resident Theresa Toney
told the Select Board last week. She said she has seen repeated instances of
naked people hanging out downtown. "This is a problem. What about children
"Nude people in town center could prompt ban," Boston.com, August 21,
What university proudly came out last in this ranking?
U of Texas-Austin Tops Annual
List of Nation's Best Party Schools; Penn State Ranks Second AUSTIN, Texas
Aug 21, 2006 (AP)— The Texas Longhorns earned another national title Monday, not
for football but as the country's best party school. The University of Texas at
Austin beat Penn State University, West Virginia University and last year's
winner, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the Princeton Review survey of
115,000 students at campuses around the country. It topped the overall list its
first time atop the Princeton Review chart by ranking second in the use of hard
liquor, third in beer drinking and...
"U of Texas-Austin Tops Annual List of Nation's Best Party Schools," ABC News,
August 22, 2006 ---
In 2006, the University of Texas knocked the University of Wisconsin off the top
ranking. Brigham Young has the distinction of coming in last among party
schools. I'll bet this really cuts down of the number of applicants to BU!
For those of you who are excited by this, you should know that Playboy
Magazine occasionally publishes a similar ranking, although Playboy
does not make it an annual event ---
I slightly updated my document on using real options valuation models in
place of present value models under uncertainty ---
Are incoming college students really more ignorant that those "Freshmen" of our
generation or are they just, gulp, younger than us? How much of this
should we take into account when designing course content?
"What Your Freshmen Don’t Know," Inside Higher Ed, August 23, 2006 ---
Beloit College has released its latest “Mindset
List,” to help academics understand what freshmen know — and what they don’t
have a clue about. This list has been prepared each August since 1998 and
past lists are
Here is this year’s list, for the Class of 2010:
1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore
is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in “big boxes”.
6. There has always been only one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually “ring it up” on a cash register.
8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate
burglary was to their parents’.
10. Thanks to pervasive head phones in the back seat, parents have always
been able to speak freely in the front.
11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
12. Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.
15. They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals
baseball and football teams.
16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.
17. They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the
18. They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
19. “Google” has always been a verb.
20. Text messaging is their e-mail.
21. Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in
23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail
mail to retail items.
24. Madden has always been a game, not a Super Bowl-winning coach.
25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.
26. “Boogers” candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.
27. There has never been a “skyhook” in the NBA.
28. Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents’ attics.
29. Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.
30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing.
religious organizations in the U.S.
31. They grew up in minivans.
32. Reality shows have always been on television.
33. They have no idea why we needed to ask “...can we all get along?”
34. They have always known that “In the criminal justice system the people
have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups.”
35. Young women’s fashions have never been concerned with where the waist
36. They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
37. Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.
38. Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
39. “So” as in “Sooooo New York,” has always been a drawn-out adjective
modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.
40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the
subjects of television series.
41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on
42. Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.
43. They are not aware that “flock of seagulls hair” has nothing to do with
birds flying into it.
44. Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.
45. Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.
46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school
47. Small white holiday lights have always been in style.
48. Most of them have never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
49. They have always been searching for “Waldo”.
50. The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish
51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.
52. They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
53. They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.
54. There have always been live organ donors.
55. They have always had access to their own credit cards.
56. They have never put their money in a “Savings & Loan.”
57. Sara Lee has always made underwear.
58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.
59. Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.
60. They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.
61. Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.
62. Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.
63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the
64. LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.
65. Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.
66. Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.
68. “Outing” has always been a threat.
69. Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect
70. They have always “dissed” what they don’t like.
71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its
72. Richard M. Daley has always been the mayor of Chicago.
73. They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest
74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.
75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.
"As access improves worldwide, online volunteering on the rise," MIT's
Technology Review, August 22, 2006 ---
Online volunteering is growing as Internet access
improves worldwide, particularly among African and Latin American
organizations needing assistance.
VolunteerMatch, a San Francisco group that helps
volunteers learn about onsite and online projects, said 14 percent of its
volunteer opportunities last year were virtual, compared with 1 percent in
Instead of building homes, volunteers like Murphy
can build Web sites.
Or translate documents. Or prepare training
manuals. Or mentor teens.
All from a computer hundreds or thousands of miles
''If I could send a volunteer to Chile to teach an
organization how to build a Web site, that will be 10 times better than
having us build it for them, but it's a hundred times more expensive,'' said
Charles Brennick, whose Seattle-based InterConnection group links volunteer
Web designers with development groups abroad.
Online volunteering isn't practical for everything.
You still need to be somewhere to serve soup to the homeless or coach a
Little League team. But over the Internet, you can order the food or reserve
the ball field.
Online volunteering isn't right for everyone,
''It takes real time, not virtual time,'' said
Jayne Cravens, an independent consultant for nonprofit organizations. ''It
takes commitment. It takes persistence.''
It's a good option for those needing flexibility --
be it a disability, work schedule or budget that rules out travel.
Sandrine Cortet, 36, sought to put her French
skills to work when she and her husband moved from Paris to Edison, N.J. But
they had only one car, and a train to volunteer opportunities in New York
would have been expensive.
So she translates documents from home, most
recently for a refugee group's newsletter.
Sara Siebert, 23, wanted opportunities to improve
her skills in graphics design. Lacking funds to travel, she built Web sites
for groups in Kenya and Belize from Montreal; InterConnection hosts the
sites in Seattle.
Volunteers and the organizations they help
generally communicate by e-mail or instant messaging, rarely by telephone.
Three Finance Blogs
Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
FinancialRounds Blog ---
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) ---
Some Accounting Blogs
Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) ---
International Association of Accountants News ---
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries ---
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL
Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New
Current and past editions of my newsletter called
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud
Intelligence and Money Management Aren't Necessarily Correlated
Lessons From The New Science Of Behavioral Economics
From Jim Mahar's Blog on August 15, 2006 ---
Why Smart People make Big Money Mistakes
If you have any interest in behavioral finance or
if you are looking for simple examples for class, I would definitely
Smart People make Big Money Mistakes" by Gary
Belsky and Thomas Gilovich.
I bought it for the examples and it has proven to
be a very quick, easy, yet informative and fun read!
For instance it deals with problems people have
figuring out odds (the example is instantly memorable and informative:
Is a shy, meek, yet helpful person more likely to
be a librarian or in sales? Are you sure? Be careful. Why? There are about
75 times as many people in sales as there are librarians!
Virtually every page is made up of such great
Another example? Ok, suppose you are going to a
sporting event and lose your ticket. Do you buy a new ticket? What if you
had lost money instead of a ticket (and assuming you could resell your
ticket). Do you go?
True it breaks little new ground, but isn't fun
just to sit back and enjoy finance?
"Climate Change Was Major Factor in Erosion of Alps 6 Million Years Ago,"
PhysOrg, August 16, 2006 ---
The Alps, the iconic rugged mountains that cover
parts of seven European nations, might have reached their zenith millions of
years ago, some scientists believe, and now are a mere shadow of their
former selves. New research offers an explanation.
A team led by Sean Willett, a University of
Washington geologist, has found that the culprit is likely massive erosion,
triggered by a sudden drop in the level of the Mediterranean Sea 6 million
years ago and then prolonged by a warmer, wetter climate.
Typically mountain ranges reach a sort of
equilibrium, with erosion more or less keeping pace with the tectonic forces
that enlarge the mountains. But an event called the Messinian salinity
crisis, precipitated by blockage of the forerunner of the Strait of
Gibraltar, cut the Mediterranean off from the rest of the world's oceans.
Evaporation greatly reduced the water level, dropping it as much as two or
three miles below the rest of the world's ocean surfaces.
The beds of rivers flowing from the Alps dropped
sharply as the level of the Mediterranean basin fell, and their force
carried away huge amounts of sediment. The forces carved many of the
distinctive deep valleys for which the Alps are known and left behind nearly
a dozen major alpine lakes in the southern Alps.
Continued in article
Nontraditional Doctoral Degree Programs: Some With No Courses
"New Ideas for Ph.D. Education," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed,
August 18, 2006 ---
For educators and state officials who want to
reform doctoral education, “it’s easy if you just want to make it easier,”
said E. Garrison Walters, interim chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.
The challenge, he said, is to undertake reforms
that don’t sacrifice quality. “It’s difficult to keep the core values of a
Ph.D. and keep it flexible,” he said. Walters spoke this week at a
conference in Chicago of the State Higher Education Executive Officers — the
officials who approve new Ph.D. programs in their states and periodically
review such programs, sometimes with an eye toward saving money by
At a session on new approaches to doctoral
education, state officials were briefed on two new approaches — both of
which were warmly received. One involves non-residential Ph.D. programs for
students who are older than most who earn doctorates. The other involves
doctoral programs that are run by more than one university — and that
sometimes cross state lines and public/private distinctions. Officials at
the meeting said they believed there was strong demand for both kinds of
programs, and wanted to find ways for their agencies to encourage such
Laurien Alexandre, director of Antioch University’s
Ph.D. program in
leadership and change, said it was easy to see
that there is interest in the kind of non-traditional doctorate her
institution has created. The students are already far along in their careers
and lives — 85 percent are over 40, with many in their 50s and 60s — and
they don’t need the doctorate as a credential. “No one is coming at 55
because they need it for their job,” she said. “So why are people paying
$80,000 for a doctorate?”
Her answer is that Antioch’s doctoral students are
on an “evolved path” in which they are seeking to take their understandings
of organizations to a higher level, and want to conduct the kind of in-depth
research associated with doctoral programs. The program attracts students
from all over the country, who periodically meet in person at Antioch’s
campuses around the country, but conduct much of their work in close
collaboration with faculty members, who are also spread out around the
country and communicate with students via phone and videoconferencing.
The program is “courseless,” Alexandre said, and
students must demonstrate their competencies in knowledge and research
skills after completing “multiyear learning paths” that are supervised by
faculty members. Only then, Alexandre said, can they write their
dissertations. And while Alexandre clearly relishes the way Antioch is
“pushing the envelope” on most aspects of the program, she said that the
dissertation process is traditional: committees, chapters, defense, and so
forth. “The dissertation is the gold standard,” she said.
The concept underlying this approach, she said, is
“rigor without rigidity,” and that approach may be what it takes to
encourage doctoral education from older students. She noted that Antioch
just graduated its first students in the program and that retention rates
are well above the typically low rates for many Ph.D. programs.
If the Antioch model demonstrates flexibility
within a graduate program, two new biomedical engineering programs may
represent the ability of universities to be flexible in how they put
together a graduate program in a hot science field — and one that can be
expensive to support. One program joins forces of the
University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University,
and the other combines offerings at
Virginia Tech with Wake
Forest University. Both programs have one
institution with a medical school (Chapel Hill and Wake Forest) and one
institution with an engineering school (N.C. State and Virginia Tech).
Stephen Knisley, director of the North Carolina
program, said that it grew out of a stand-alone program at Chapel Hill that
officials there felt would be strengthened with more ties to engineering. To
make the program effective, Knisley said, real partnerships are needed. That
means admissions decisions, curricular requirements and the like are all
decided jointly. And to really have students be able to move back and forth
to the two campuses, officials have also had to make sure they can get dual
ID cards, parking spaces, and access to all facilities. There are currently
103 graduate students in the program, and North Carolina hopes to double
that number in the next few years.
In a similar approach, Wake Forest and Virginia
Tech decide matters together — and have managed to do so even though the
former is private and the latter is a public university in another state.
Brian J. Love, a professor at Virginia Tech, noted that the two universities
don’t observe the same holidays or have the same class schedules, so
everything must be negotiated. “This program now has its own calendar,” he
But he said that’s a small price to pay to have
combined resources that neither institution could otherwise create. “This
can really be a win-win situation.”
One difficulty such collaborations sometimes face
is with accreditation. Gail Morrison, interim executive director of the
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, said that the Medical
University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina recently
merged their pharmacy schools. While both entities had been accredited, they
needed an entirely new review, even though it seemed to Morrison that the
new school was clearly stronger than the two separate ones of the past.
Her story brought knowing nods from the audience of
state officials, several of whom said later that specialized accreditation
was a barrier to the kinds of collaboration being encouraged at the session.
Of course some collaborations don’t require any
accreditors’ approval. Morrison said that generally breaking down
institutional boundaries was a great way to encourage more efficiency and
that formal units aren’t always needed. For example, the state’s three
doctoral institutions are opening a building in Charleston that will bring
professors together. No outside approval needed.
The problem with the some of these is that, when students are allowed to
customize a curriculum, they often take the easiest way out ---
Success of these nontraditional doctoral programs rests heavily upon admission
standards for getting into the programs and a successful track record of
graduates from the programs. If low GRE (or GMAT) students are accepted, the
schools will have a difficult time overcoming image flaws. Older adults seeking
nontraditional doctoral programs often do not have strong admission test scores.
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Lyrics to College Fight Songs
August 21, 2006 message to Bob Jensen
Hi Mr. Jensen
I'm a former USN WAVE, and was googling the above song,, whose music was
used for a Recruit song during WW2, Korea and perhaps even later. Do you
happen to have the sheet music, or the name of the original music? I am
attempting to compile as many of our Bootcamp songs as possible, and have
been unable to find the music to this. Seems every college in the U.S. sang
it, but none I've contacted seem to have the music! Those songs are alive
only in memory, now, because we are fast getting old. The WAVES ceased to
exist in the early 1970s. Thanks for any help you can give me.
Would appreciate any info
August 22, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
The lyrics for various college fight songs are given at
You might get a kick out of scrolling down near the bottom of the page at
Also note the following from
DON'T MAKE MY GIRL A SAILOR
(Tune: "Don't Send My Boy to Harvard")
Don't make my girl a sailor
The weeping mother said.
Make her a WAAC
Or send her back To Lockheed school instead.
She's always been a home girl
She's never been to sea.
A man in every port
Is not the life she learned from me!
You can find the following at
Some college songs to sing on St. Orho Day
"March Madness," by Mark J. Drozdowski, March 11, 2005 ---
I also noticed that some songs reference other
schools. Penn mentions Harvard's and Yale's colors, while neighboring
Swarthmore, in its memorable "Hip, Hip, Hip, for Old Swarthmore," adds
Cornell and Haverford to the mix. Lafayette promises to "dig Lehigh's
grave both wide and deep, wide and deep," and "put tombstones at her
head and feet, head and feet." But Illinois manages to offend the most
with this ballad:
Don't send my
boy to Harvard, a dying mother said,
Don't send my boy to Michigan, I'd rather he were dead.
But send my boy to Illinois, 'tis better than Cornell,
and rather than Chicago, I would see my boy in hell.
Many songs reveal their age. Cal Tech implores
its football team to "smash the line of our old enemy," yet no longer
fields a football team. The only things they smash these days are atoms.
Harvard students still play "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" even though
the university now enrolls more women than
August 22, reply from Fran
My, I'm going to have fun following up those
references you gave me! Found one site that you might be interested in
A real collection of all kinds of songs that never get
written down, some riske', some not. Definitely a trip down memory lane for
those ditties you recall from youthful days.
More female computer scientists wanted
"The numbers are terrible for computer science and they
have been trending downward so far this decade," said Horwitz, noting that
UW-Madison women computer science undergraduates have gone from 11 percent in
2000 to 9 percent in 2005. "No one completely understands the trend," she added.
"Some of it may stem from the dot-com bust and a sense that outsourcing may be
threatening future jobs. But we're actually looking at a huge pending shortage
in the computing workforce."
"More female computer scientists wanted," PhysOrg, August 17, 2006 ---
This is opposite of the trend in higher education in general and in accounting
in particular where numbers of women are significantly outpacing men ---
Women now make up more than 60 percent of all
accountants and auditors in the United States, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
That is an estimated 843,000 women in the accounting and auditing work force.
AccountingWeb, "Number of Female Accountants Increasing," June 2, 2006
Life in Our Litigious Society
If attendance alone does not guarantee a passing grade, sue the school?
This is from Karen Alpert's FinanceMusings Blog on August 23, 2006 ---
Finally, I'd like to mention a
piece from Online Opinion about education as a
consumer good. It talks about a legal settlement between a secondary school
in Melbourne and the parents of a student who did not learn to read
Those in the know have warned that this case could
result in an education system burdened by increased litigation by
parents against schools, with schools having to be very careful about
how they promote their standard of teaching to parents of future
students. Not only does the case highlight that education is becoming an
area of focus in an increasingly litigious society, but that on a
broader level education - at whatever level - has become little more
than a product for sale in the market for knowledge and training.
While the case at hand involved a secondary school,
I can easily see it applied to tertiary institutions; especially in the case
of full fee paying students. Some students already seem to think that
attendance should guarantee a passing grade. While I believe that certain
pedagogical standards must be met, students must participate in their own
education. Those who are not willing to work toward understanding and
learning should not be handed a degree. (Say
I think Karen's a party poop!
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
"The Thirteenth Annual Emperor Awards, " Guest commentary by Poor
Elijah (Peter Berger), The Irascible Professor, August 21, 2006 ---
Our first presentation, the Archimedes Eureka
Honorarium, spotlights the field of education research. Past recipients
include a team of scientists who discovered that students who study algebra
in eighth grade tend to do better in "higher level" ninth grade math
courses. Equally shocking, there appeared to be a correlation between
"success" in advanced ninth grade English courses and "reading lots of
books" in eighth grade.
This year’s Archimedes goes to the authors of an
ACT sponsored study, which determined that being able to read "complex"
material is “the major factor separating high school students who are ready
for college reading from those who are not." An ACT spokesperson described
the report as "an in your face statement," aimed presumably at the faces of
any education officials who already didn't realize that not being able to
read much in high school meant you probably weren't going to be able to read
much in college.
Educators haven't been idle in the face of this
reading crisis. Innovators in Maryland introduced a groundbreaking technique
designed to teach children to "relax" and "read without pressure." The
pressure is reduced because instead of working with a teacher, students are
sent off alone to read to a dog. According to program developers, kids
prefer the "nonjudgmental character of the dog." That's because "if they
make a mistake, the dog isn't going to correct them… It's just going to
listen and love every word they say," whether it's the right word or not.
Boosters concede that sometimes canine attention can "drift" during the
thirty-minute literacy sessions, but they address these lapses by
occasionally popping in and asking the dog, "What do you think?" To these
inspired trailblazers the academy presents its Cujo Literary Collar.
Of course, breakthrough instructional methods would
mean nothing without high standards, a scruple which prompts some teachers,
for example, to give zeroes to students who choose not to hand in work. This
allegedly "antiquated, outdated" approach outraged one educator respondent
to NEA Today. He charged that giving a zero for work that doesn't exist
unfairly "skews" the student’s average "negatively" by making it too low. He
solves the problem, in the interest of "fairness," by never giving any grade
lower than a fifty-five, whether the student hands in anything or not. This
heroic effort to skew grades positively wins him this year's Phineas T.
This gets really sad when you think that fifty-five may be the highest grade
in the course for a student who turned in most of the assignments.
Perhaps we should encourage some students to be more
lazy if for no other reason than to raise their grade averages!
Pacesetting educators don’t pull all these bright
ideas out of their hats. They attend pertinent workshops, including the
American Educational Research Association's presentation, "Discovering
Collage as a Method in Researching Multicultural Lives." The AERA modestly
bills itself as "the most prominent international professional organization"
in the educational research and application business and is itself a past
Emperor honoree for its advocacy of "data poems," cutting edge analytic
tools which enable education professionals to "focus, interpret, clarify,
and communicate the results of qualitative research" by writing and reciting
Despite AERA’s impressive performance, the 2006
Isadora Duncan Fellowship pays tribute to the sponsors of a seminar which
probed the teaching of mathematics, a subject in which American students
haven't been distinguishing themselves. Jumping off from the dubious
assertion that "children enter school as creative mathematicians," workshop
organizers concluded that the reason American kids can't multiply is we
teach math from a "one way-one answer point of view," as opposed to the
presumably more desirable many-answers method currently employed by hosts of
American students. With this year's Isadora comes the academy's suggestion
that maybe it would help if students handed their math answers in to a dog.
The use of unacceptable language is a growing
problem in classrooms. One small town high school has instituted a scripted
policy to deal with the barrage. Teachers respond to foul language with,
"Not here, not now," to which offending students are expected to reply,
"Sorry." While "no data are being taken" as to the effectiveness of the new
tactic, or the sincerity of verbally repentant offenders, across the pond
our British cousins have adopted a more quantitative approach. One high
school northwest of London has adopted an "f-word limit," which restricts
students to five uses of the f-word in each class period. Teachers simply
keep a tally of each pupil's use of grossly offensive language on the board
"so all students can see the running score," an activity that doubtless
keeps everybody amused and focused on everything except what they're
supposed to be learning. If a student exceeds five f-words in a given class,
he suffers the ultimate consequence and is "spoken to by the teacher at the
end of the lesson." Assuming a modest classroom roster of twenty pupils, the
new policy means students can experience up to one hundred sanctioned
f-words per class hour. This homage to Britain’s Anglo-Saxon linguistic
roots earns these school officials the inaugural Howard Stern Rhetoric
Continuing internationally, we confer the
Distinguished Priorities Cross on Canada's supreme court, which recently
ruled that Sikh students can wear swords to school. The court based its
decision on the value of 'religious tolerance" since the curved daggers
involved, called kirpans, are part of a religious observance. As to the
value of not having daggers at school, the court added that the blades
weren't really a danger since schools could make rules that require Sikh
students to keep their kirpans concealed and in their sheaths. This judicial
reassurance didn’t entirely soothe many parents, whose understandable
concerns about the dangers posed by weapons at school were labeled "racism,"
"bigotry," and "intolerance" instead of understandable concerns about the
dangers posed by weapons at school.
Recipients of our final prize, the coveted George
Orwell Creative Use of Language Award, are a varied and impressive company.
Last year’s Orwell honored a progressive educator for her call to abolish
the word "fail" and replace it with "deferred success," a suggestion which
if followed could likewise turn war into deferred peace and lying into
deferred honesty. This year we celebrate a New Hampshire high school for
banning the term "freshman" on the grounds that the "man" part renders it an
example of gender-specific, "misogynistic, oppressive, non-inclusive
language." Faculty members and administrators began considering the name
change after a school production of The Vagina Monologues, which is
apparently not an example of gender-specific, non-inclusive language. Their
display of wisdom and finely honed sensitivity leaves no doubt that they
deserve their Orwell.
Of course, each of us probably deserves an Emperor
Even you and me.
August 21, 2006 reply from Henry Collier
In re your comment on the 70% to 60% change in the
Baltimore School system.
I think that you already know that Australian
universities generally have a marking system where:
00 – 44% = Fail
45 – 49% = Pass Conceded
50 – 64% = Pass
65 – 74% = Credit
75 – 84% = Distinction
85% + = High Distinction …
It is also generally conceded that awarding marks
of 44, 49, 64, 74 and 84 is problematic on two levels. One is do we actually
believe that we are confident in the precision of our marking schemes (eg
Starch and Elliot, 1912, 1913) and on a personal level, do we want to have
to face the students that receive the ‘X4’ marks?
This Australian / British system works reasonably
well in marking essay type examinations … one can (obviously) arbitrarily
establish some sort of a mean / variance distribution for marks awarded for
norm referenced essay marks … even if one tries to establish a criterion
referenced marking scheme, the establishment of a ‘cut score’ is (or can be)
The Australian marking system fails badly when
applied to ‘objective’ testing … whether one agrees with or disagrees with
the applicability of M/C and T/F testing in any part of education … awarding
pass marks for an expected random score on a true / false examination has
nothing to do with measurement of academic achievement regardless of whether
the test is norm referenced or criterion referenced. Even M/C testing scores
are ‘shifted’ because the expected score on a well designed M/C test with 4
answer choices is 62.5% … thus the ‘mean’ mark is closer to a ‘Credit’ than
a ‘Pass’. One of the problems in awarding marks is trying to determine what
‘average’ marks on either norm referenced tests or criterion referenced
tests actually mean. … There is, quite obviously, another problem in
assignment of marks on test / examination instruments .. and that is what is
the expected level of performance?
I think that evaluation of the outcome of
instruction on heart bypass surgery may well be measured in different ways
than the outcomes of a test / examination on the relationships between
‘income measurement’ and ‘auditor independence’ …
I must admit that I am more of a goal directed
person than one who allows for ‘free flow’ forms of instruction. Perhaps
that makes me one of the Neanderthals in believing in a stage like
development of competencies … we have to teach (or minimally help students
learn) what we test. I’ve said for years that almost any accounting
instructor could write an examination that God couldn’t pass … but what does
THAT prove? That we know more than the student? The bottom line of summative
evaluation (IMO) requires me to answer the questions, 1. is it fair to ask
this? 2. have I provided the students with an opportunity to give a
reasonable answer to this question? 3. Does my question help differentiate
between those who know more about this subject and those who know less about
the subject? 4. does this question come as a surprise to the student?
Anyway, I do hope that retirement agrees with you
and that you’re happy with your state of the State in the North East. I’m
not so sure that I could / would want to deal with the ice and cold of New
England any more … The Sydney winters are bad enough and it NEVER freezes
here … J
All the best from the land down under
August 22, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
It just goes to show you that grading depends more on the difficulty of
the examinations than the grading formula itself.
It was interesting to learn about Australia’s concept of “Pass Conceded.”
Football Entrance Exam (at [Name Deleted]
Time Limit: 3 Weeks Preparation Before the Oral Examination Administered by a
panel of Coaches
01. What language is spoken in France?
02. Give a dissertation on the ancient Babylonian Empire with particular
reference to architecture, literature, law and social conditions -OR- give the
first name of Pierre Trudeau.
03. Would you ask William Shakespeare to (a) build a bridge (b) sail the
ocean (c) lead an army or (d) WRITE A PLAY
04. What religion is the Pope? (a) Jewish (b) Catholic (c) Hindu (d) Polish
(e) Agnostic (check only one)
05. Metric conversion. How many feet is 0.0 meters?
06. What time is it when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on
07. How many commandments was Moses given? (approximately)
08. What are people in America's far north called? (a) Westerners (b)
Southerners (c) Northerners
09. Spell -- Bush, Carter and Clinton
10. Six kings of England have been called George, the last one being George
the Sixth. Name the previous five.
11. Where does rain come from? (a) Macy's (b) a 7-11 (c) Canada (d) the sky
12. Can you explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity? (a) yes (b) no
13. What are coat hangers used for?
14. The Star Spangled Banner is the National Anthem for what country?
15. Explain Le Chateliers Principle of Dynamic Equilibrium -OR-spell your
name in BLOCK LETTERS.
16. Where is the basement in a three story building located?
17. Which part of America produces the most oranges? (a) New York (b) Florida
(c) Canada (d) Wisconsin
18. Advanced math. If you have three apples how many apples do you have?
19. What does NBC (National Broadcasting Corporation) stand for?
20. The University of Miami tradition for efficiency began when
(approximately)? (a) B.C. (b) A.D. (c) still waiting
*You must answer three or more questions correctly to qualify for a $100,000
per year athletic scholarship. These are the NCAA rules for Division 1
schools. The admission test is not as tough for basketball if you're over seven
[Appeal for] "More Transparency for Audits," SoxFirst, August
For a profession that likes to think of itself as
transparent, auditors might have some way to go. Particularly when it comes
to companies revealing to the market why they have dismissed or changed an
According to risk researchers, Glass Lewis, it's
one area that needs urgent attention. It's absolutely critical information
In their report Mum's the word, they point out that
1,430 publicly held companies changed their independent accounting firms
last year including 77 companies that changed auditors at least twice. But
in the vast majority of cases, we don't know why, because neither the
companies nor the auditors disclosed the reasons.
"Perhaps it's our skeptical nature, but we suspect
a lot of the companies that stayed mum changed auditors because of less
virtuous reasons: to seek more favorable opinions, to flee from
disagreements,to cut costs in a way that may diminish audit quality, or
because their former auditors couldn't rely on them," says the report.
The report calls on the SEC to expand its list of
required "reportable events" so that investors get more information about
such matters as whether there had been difficulties conducting the audit and
whether the auditor had advised the company about potential fraud.
Investors need nothing less from the profession
that's required to watch over the companies that they, the investors, own.
Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy reforms are at
REVIEW: Accessories to Jazz Up Your iPod, PhysOrg, August 17,
Mexico changes course on sex education
When Mexican seventh-graders crack open their new
biology books this week, they're in for a titillating surprise: Chapter four is
all about sex. And it's not the sterilized sex education of the past. For the
first time, the federally mandated textbooks broach the once-taboo topics of
masturbation and homosexuality while instructing students that there is nothing
wrong with either. Church officials and conservative groups are outraged. They
charge that the texts — which are required teaching — encourage promiscuity and
"abnormal" sexual practices. They are pressuring the federal government to
remove passages they consider offensive. "These days,"...
Marion Lloyd, "Mexico adds sex to school syllabus Biology texts confront church
teachings and long-standing sexual mores," Houston Chronicle, August 22,
Are you paying too much for mutual fund experts who are "closet indexers"
collect big fees for doing little more than basing their stock picks on the
"Professors Shine a Light Into 'Closet Indexes': Measurement May Help
Investors See How Much of Their Holdings Are Actively Managed -- And Not," by
Tom Lauricella, The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2006; Page C1---
Are your mutual-fund managers earning their keep?
A complaint lodged against many managers of funds
that invest in stocks is that they collect big fees for doing little more
than basing their stock picks on the market index -- say, the Standard &
Poor's 500-stock index -- against which their fund's performance is
measured. There's even a term for this behavior: closet indexing.
For investors, there hasn't been an easy way to
tell if a fund falls into this category. Now a pair of Yale University
professors have developed a simple way of measuring to what degree a fund's
holdings are actively managed, as opposed to passively mirroring an index.
It also turns out that -- at least according to the research -- this measure
could be a useful predictor of fund performance.
The new measure, created by Antti Petajisto and
Martijn Cremers from the Yale School of Management, takes a simple approach.
Called the "active share" of a portfolio, it matches the holdings reported
by a fund in Securities and Exchange Commission filings against the
components of an index, and then measures the percentage of overlap. For
example, if General Electric and Exxon Mobil each account for 4% of an
index, and a fund had a portfolio exactly mirroring the index except it had
8% in GE and nothing in Exxon, its active share would be 4%. The more a
portfolio differs from an index, the higher the active share percentage.
The study found that the average fund using the S&P
500 as a benchmark (generally, funds investing in large-company stocks) has
an average active-share percentage of 66%. In other words, the average
large-company stock fund had a portfolio that was 66% different than the
benchmark and the rest essentially mirrored the index.
The study, which examined data from 1980 through
the end of 2003, found an increase in funds that could be described as
closet indexing during the 1990s, a period of major growth in the
mutual-fund industry. Closet index funds (generally, those with active share
falling into the 20% to 60% range) contained about 30% of all assets in
2003, up from virtually no assets in the 1980s.
One reason investors should care: Actively managed
funds charge higher fees, on average, than index funds. After all, the idea
is that you're paying a premium for the talents of a skilled stock picker --
not just someone who is mirroring a stock index.
But the study found that funds charged similar
fees, regardless of their active-share reading. Funds with an active share
of 70% or higher have expense ratios averaging roughly 1.57%. However,
closet-index funds with an active share of 40% to 50% charged an average of
1.31%. Portfolios with an active share of 30% or 40% charged an average of
1.13%. (Index funds in the study charged on average 0.55%, though many are
According to the study, active-share percentages
are a good predictor of performance. Funds registering the highest active
share beat their benchmark index by an average of 1.39 percentage points per
year, while those in the lowest active-share group produced returns that, on
average, fell short of their benchmark by 1.41 percentage points. This makes
sense, argues Mr. Petajisto, one of the study's authors. Once fees are
subtracted, a fund hugging an index is going be hard-pressed to provide
investors with returns that top the index.
In addition, the study found that, in general,
funds with higher active-share readings tend to repeat top performance.
"It's consistent with the idea that the most active funds are likely to have
more skilled managers," Mr. Petajisto says.
Mr. Petajisto suggests investors compare a fund's
active share against the fees they're paying. "If a closet indexer has 30%
active share but only charges 0.30% [a fee not much more than most index
funds], it may still be a reasonably good deal," he says.
The classic example of a mutual fund accused of
being a closet indexer is Fidelity Investment's giant Magellan. In the early
1980s, Magellan's active share under famed manager Peter Lynch ranged
between 70% and 90% -- a time when the fund earned its reputation by being a
strong-performing, invest-anywhere portfolio. However, the active share
declined later in the decade, to the mid 50%, coinciding with massive growth
in the fund. By the mid-1990s, when Robert Stansky took the helm, the fund's
active share started plunging to extremely low readings in the 30% range, a
time when Magellan was widely criticized for being a closet index fund.
During this time Magellan's performance suffered and the fund consistently
landed in the bottom half of its peer group.
When Harry Lange took over the controls at Magellan
late last year, the fund's active share rebounded from 41% in September 2005
to 66% in December. "When Lange replaced Stansky, the fund became
significantly more active within only a few months," Mr. Petajisto notes.
A commonly voiced concern of fund industry
observers is whether, as was the case with Magellan, mutual funds are more
likely to become closet indexers as they grow in size. The Yale study did
find that for funds investing in large-company stocks, active-share readings
tend to decline after assets top $1 billion. "That doesn't mean a fund
necessary always has to become an extreme closet indexer," Mr. Petajisto
For example, the $19 billion Legg Mason Value
Trust, run by William Miller, had an active-share reading of 85% for 2005
and the $36 billion Fidelity Low Priced Stock Fund, which compares itself to
the Russell 2000 index of small company stocks, has an active-share reading
When making any investment, investors should
consider a wide variety of factors and active share is no different.
However, it can raise questions about whether funds are living up to the
claim of being actively managed. For example, the $3.6 billion Thrivent
Large Cap Stock fund tells investors that it employs an "individual,
bottom-up approach to stock selection" focusing on "corporate fundamentals."
However, its active share percentage is just 38%.
Thrivent didn't respond to a request for comment.
At Calamos Investments, active share points to
possible differences between two funds that the firm says use similar
investment strategies. Calamos Growth, which sports a top long-term
performance record, clocks in among the most actively management funds with
an active share percentage of 89%. But Calamos Blue Chip, which tells
investors it uses "intense research" to pick stocks, posts an active share
rating of just 40%. Meanwhile, investors in Calamos Blue Chip are charged
expenses of 1.46%, far more than the 1.16% in fees levied on the average
large-cap blend fund, according to Morningstar Inc. (Investors also pay a
commission to purchase the fund).
In a statement, Chief Investment Officer Nick
Calamos said, "The Blue Chip Fund is not an index product....It is
big-company, blue-chip biased and more sector-constrained than the Growth
At the other extreme, funds with active-share
readings above 95% include managers with top long-term track records built
through years of building eclectic portfolios. Among them are CGM Focus
Fund, Brandywine Blue Fund and Longleaf Partners funds.
Bob Jensen's threads on mutual fund scandals are at
Rethinking the Culture Wars
There are daunting problems here in persuading the
public, politicians, and students to respect academic expertise, autonomy, and
the role of higher education as a Socratic gadfly to the body politic. At the
same time, scholars have a responsibility to show consideration and discretion
toward public opinion, and toward students who dissent from our opinions. But
cannot conservative and liberal scholars at least join in endorsing these
general principles, while scrupulously addressing the difficulties in
implementing them, through civil dialogue? And shouldn’t some of the
foundations, professional organizations, or government agencies that have
channeled their resources into partisan battles in the culture wars be willing
to sponsor a bipartisan task force pursuing such a dialogue in quest of
resolutions to these problems?
Donald Lazere, "Rethinking the Culture Wars — I," Inside Higher Ed,
August 22, 2006 ---
Left-leaning professors tend to address questions
that interest them, with the predictable though not intended consequence of
inspiring their left-leaning students and leaving their more conservative
students indifferent or disenchanted with academe. Is it any surprise that smart
young liberals get Ph.D.’s and become liberal professors, while smart young
conservatives tend to pursue careers in business or the other professions
instead? I have no doubt that academe will never again become central to
American cultural life as long as professors continue to represent such a narrow
spectrum of political affiliations and religious beliefs. Nevertheless, our
problems cannot be solved by party politics or by legislation and lawsuits.
Donald Lazere, "Rethinking the Culture Wars — II," Inside Higher Ed,
August 22, 2006 ---
Public housing is urban government's largest failed housing experiment
Public housing is urban government's largest orphan. It
is an unloved recipient of tens of billions of dollars in funds, poured over
decades by the federal government into housing projects in just about every city
in the country. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want much to do with
it anymore, and as a result physical plants are deteriorating while operating
deficits soar. This failed experiment in government-financed, -built, -owned and
-operated housing is over, yet the projects continue to house millions of
Americans . . . What AHA is doing is entirely different from previous reform
efforts because AHA does not intend to "manage" better public housing -- it's
getting rid of public housing. For the sake of both public housing residents and
their neighborhoods, let's hope that other big city authorities follow, starting
with New York.
Julia Vitullo-Martin, "Project Vision," The Wall Street Journal, August
18, 2006; Page A14 ---
From The Washington Post on August 22, 2006
What was the most queried term in AOL's Internet
search engine from March to May?
Updates from WebMD ---
Latest Headlines on August
Latest Headlines on August
Latest Headlines on August
Inside Cancer ---
"The Mystery of BenGay: A study reveals how age-old cooling
remedies help to alleviate nerve-related pain," by Jennifer Chu, MIT's
Technology Review, August 22, 2006 ---
Creams like BenGay can relieve minor aches and
pains. But exactly why they work is a mystery. Now researchers have
discovered a neurological mechanism behind such cooling remedies that, if
tapped just right, could have implications for people with chronic and
A study published yesterday in the journal Current
Biology reveals that activating a crucial protein in the skin may counteract
the nerve signals associated with chronic pain brought on by nerve injury.
One trigger for this protein receptor is menthol, an active ingredient in
topical analgesics like BenGay. But an even more effective trigger is icilin
-- a chemical originally designed for toothpaste and nasal sprays. The
researchers found that when applied to the skin, icilin stimulates the
body's natural cooling system, and helps block chronic, nerve-related pain.
"There's a crying need to find safe painkillers for
chronic pain use," says Susan Fleetwood-Walker, a neuroscientist at the
University of Edinburgh in Scotland and co-author of the study. "It's
extremely difficult to treat -- and we never expected this cooling effect
would have this huge effect that it does."
Cooling remedies have been used for thousands of
years. For instance, mint oil, which contains the cooling agent menthol, was
a traditional Chinese salve. Products like BenGay are modern-day versions
that act to cool irritation and inflammation. But such topical creams are
more effective for acute pain -- that is, pain resulting directly from
tissue damage, such as a burn or pulled muscle. It's much trickier to treat
neuropathic, or nerve-related, pain, because the injured nerves themselves
seem to generate pain signals without an external influence. Research into
this type of chronic, nerve-related pain has focused on cutting off
activation of pain neurons before signals reach the brain.
Much of the mystery of how this pain originates
lies in the intricate mesh of sensory neurons underneath the skin. Different
types of neurons detect different levels of temperature, pressure, and pain,
sending this information to the spinal cord, and up into the brain. Within a
particular set of temperature-sensitive neurons sits a protein receptor
called TRPM8, which is wired to respond to cool yet not icy-cold
temperatures. For example, a light breeze might activate this protein,
sending an action potential along the sensory nerve into the spinal cord,
which would then be relayed to the brain, producing a pleasant cooling
sensation. Knowing this, the Edinburgh team looked for compounds that would
specifically activate TRPM8, yet avoid setting off other more extreme
The team experimented with low doses of icilin and
menthol, respectively, on rats with clinically simulated chronic pain (an
injured sciatic nerve). In separate trials, the rats were bathed in shallow
pools of each solution, as well as injected with solution directly into the
spinal cord. Researchers then tested the rats' sensitivity to pain, noting
when rats withdrew their paws in response to nylon filaments pressed against
the injured leg. They found that after paddling for five minutes in icilin
solution, rats experienced a marked decrease in pain sensitivity for up to
five hours -- a significant improvement compared with trials of menthol.
Continued in article
"Study shows how cigarette smoke blocks cell repair," PhysOrg,
August 21, 2006 ---
Cigarette smoke can turn normal breast cells
cancerous by blocking their ability to repair themselves, eventually
triggering tumor development, University of Florida scientists report.
User rating 4.2 out of 5 after 9 total votes Would
you recommend this story? Not at all - 1 2 3 4 5 - Highly
While some cells nonetheless rally and are able to
fix their damaged DNA, many others become unable to access their own
cellular first aid kit, according to findings from a UF study published
today (Aug. 21) in the journal Oncogene. If they survive long enough to
divide and multiply, they pass along their mutations, acquiring malignant
Past research has been controversial. Tobacco smoke
contains dozens of cancer-causing chemicals, but until more recently many
studies found only weak correlations between smoking and breast cancer risk,
or none at all. Those findings are increasingly being challenged by newer
studies that are focusing on more than just single chemical components of
tobacco, as past research often has done. In the UF study, researchers
instead used a tar that contains all of the 4,000 chemicals found in
“Our study suggests the mechanism by which this may
be happening,” said Satya Narayan, an associate professor of anatomy and
cell biology at UF’s College of Medicine. “This is basically the important
finding in our case: We are now describing how cigarette smoke condensate,
which is a surrogate for cigarette smoke, can cause DNA damage and can block
the DNA repair of a cell or compromise the DNA repair capacity of a cell.
That can be detrimental for the cell and can lead to transformation or
Continued in article
"Mental retardation cause detailed," PhysOrg, August 16, 2006 ---
European and U.S. studies describe a recurrent
cause of mental retardation resulting from the deletion of a big segment of
DNA from chromosome 17.
The deletion is associated with a region of DNA
that is commonly carried in an inverted orientation by a large portion of
the human population.
The deletion arises recurrently and accounts for
roughly 1 percent of cases of mental retardation among the populations
screened in three studies.
It seems to be found preferentially among children
of individuals who carry one particular form of the inversion, which is
common among Europeans, researchers said. Individuals carrying the deletion
also show characteristic facial, behavioral and other clinical features,
which should aid clinicians in diagnosing similar cases.
One of the deleted genes, MAPT, has been previously
implicated as having a causal role in neurodegenerative disorders such as
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Loss of that gene is therefore a prime
candidate for explaining some of the characteristic features associated with
The research -- conducted at the University Medical
Center in Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Britain's University of Cambridge; and
the University of Washington in the United States -- appears in the journal
South Africa Still on the Lunatic Fringe in Response to AIDS
A top United Nations official delivered a blistering
attack on South Africa on Friday at the closing of the 16th international AIDS
meeting here, saying that its government “is still obtuse, dilatory and
negligent about rolling out treatment.” In a keynote address, the official,
Stephen Lewis, the ambassador to Africa for AIDS for the United Nations, said
South Africa “is the only country in Africa whose government continues to
propound theories more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and
Lawrence K. Altman, "U.N. Official Assails South Africa on Its Response to
AIDS," The New York Times, August 19, 2006 ---
Low testosterone levels after age 40 have a higher risk of death over a
Men with low testosterone levels after age 40 have a
higher risk of death over a four-year period than those with normal levels of
the hormone, a new study suggests. It's not clear, however, if the two are
directly related, and researchers say that it's possible a third unknown factor
is responsible for both low testosterone levels and increased mortality. The
study, led by Molly Shores of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the
University of Washington, Seattle, is detailed in the current issue of Archives
of Internal Medicine.
Ker Than, "Men with Low Testosterone More Likely to Die," Yahoo News,
August 14, 2006 ---
High testosterone levels after becoming a judge can be hazardous to juries
The Case of the Whooshing Judge
A former judge convicted of exposing himself while
presiding over jury trials by using a sexual device under his robe was sentenced
Friday to four years in prison. . . . At his trial this summer, his former court
reporter, Lisa Foster, testified that she saw Thompson expose himself at least
15 times during trial between 2001 and 2003. Prosecutors said he also used a
device known as a penis pump during at least four trials in the same period . .
. Foster told authorities that she saw Thompson use the device almost daily
during the August 2003 murder trial of a man accused of shaking a toddler to
death. A whooshing sound could be heard on Foster's audiotape of the trial. When
jurors asked the judge about the sound, Thompson said he hadn't heard it but
would listen for it.
Murray Evans, "Judge Gets 4 Years for Exposing Himself," Myway, August
18, 2006 ---
Was it just coincidence that this was reported in "Myway?" Judge Thompson
said "he may have absentmindedly squeezed the pump's handle during court cases
but never used it to masturbate." Semen was found under his bench according to
court records. Sounds a bit like President Clinton's claim: "I
did not have sex with that woman!"
A Judge Who Regularly Consulted
With Three Mystic Dwarves
A Philippines judge who said he consulted imaginary
mystic dwarves has failed to convince the Supreme Court to allow him to keep his
job. Florentino Floro was appealing against a three-year inquiry which led to
his removal due to incompetence and bias. He told investigators three mystic
dwarves - Armand, Luis and Angel - had helped him to carry out healing sessions
during breaks in his chambers.
"Filipino 'dwarf' judge loses case," BBC News, August 18, 2006 ---
Basic Principles of Ultrasound
Ethical Stem Cells?
In a process that could offer a strategy for overcoming
many of the ethical concerns over the use of embryonic stem cells, researchers
at Advanced Cell Technology have created a line of such cells from a single
human embryonic cell. Unlike existing methods, the procedure leaves the embryo
viable, raising the possibility it could be widely used to create embryonic
cells without destroying embryos. The work is described in this week's Nature
Kate Baggott, "Ethical Stem Cells? A biotech company has described a method for
growing stem cells without destroying embryos, MIT's Technology Review, August
24, 2006 ---
"First Amendment on Trial,"
by Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2006
While the subpoenas and contempt
orders that came out of the Valerie Plame leak investigation sent a shiver
through journalists and other champions of a free press, an equally chilling
lawsuit between two congressmen slowly plodded through the courts, barely
noticed. No longer. Now, the D.C. Circuit has made a ruling in this dispute
that, if it stands, will blow a hole through the First Amendment.
The strange case of Boehner v.
McDermott began with a conference call between GOP leaders in December
1996, to decide how to deal with the ethics charges against then-Speaker
Newt Gingrich. Rep. (now House Majority Leader) John Boehner participated by
A Florida couple intercepted the call
on a police scanner and taped it, in violation of federal wiretapping laws.
They gave a copy of the tape to Jim McDermott, a Democratic member of the
House ethics committee, who gave it to the press, which widely reported on
it. Mr. Boehner sued, claiming that Mr. McDermott had invaded his right to
privacy and violated federal wiretapping laws.
A few years later, as Mr. Boehner's
lawsuit progressed, the Supreme Court decided in Bartnicki v. Vopper
that it would violate "the core purposes of the First Amendment" to use the
wiretapping statute to punish defendants who had "lawfully" obtained and
broadcast a tape of a telephone call that had been illegally recorded by
someone else. Such punishment, it said, would impose "sanctions on the
publication of truthful information of public concern."
Nevertheless, in March of this year a
panel of the D.C. Circuit upheld a $60,000 judgment for statutory and
punitive damages against Mr. McDermott. (Mr. Boehner is now claiming an
additional $500,000 in attorney's fees.) Since Mr. McDermott supposedly knew
that the tape had been illegally recorded when he received it, the court
ruled that he got it "unlawfully" and could be punished, like someone who
"is guilty of receiving stolen property."
Judge David Sentelle dissented,
emphasizing the rule's potentially sweeping ramifications: "No one in the
United States could communicate on this topic of public interest" because --
just like Mr. McDermott -- everyone, including the journalists who wrote
about the tape and "every reader of the information in the newspapers," knew
that it had been illegally recorded.
The full en banc D.C. Circuit has now
agreed to rehear the case, and it is imperative that the court reject the
panel's ruling. While Mr. Boehner claimed that his right to privacy trumped
Mr. McDermott's First Amendment rights, the Supreme Court in Bartnicki
declared: "Privacy concerns give way when balanced against the interest in
publishing matters of public importance. . . . The risk of this exposure is
an essential incident of life in a society which places a primary value on
freedom of speech and of press."
The high court has made clear over
and over again -- usually in cases involving the press -- that, absent the
most extraordinary and compelling circumstances, as long as a citizen breaks
no law in obtaining truthful information of public concern, he cannot be
punished for publishing it, even if he knew that his source broke the law. A
"receipt of stolen property" exception would overturn this important First
Amendment doctrine, threatening the ability of the press to obtain and
As a matter of history, tradition and
ordinary newsgathering, the press sometimes obtains vital, highly newsworthy
information from sources who may have broken the law, or some legal duty
while providing it. Indeed, many of the most significant news stories have
been based on information that the source may have acquired or communicated
illegally, including the Pentagon Papers case, Watergate, the Monica
Lewinsky scandal, stories about the health hazards of tobacco and, more
recently, articles about CIA secret prisons in Europe and the NSA
Nevertheless, under Boehner, a
reporter who obtains important information could be subjected to punishment,
simply because he knew or suspected that the source had broken the law in
giving it to him. Such a doctrine would severely hamper traditional
newsgathering and reporting activities, and it would inject significant
uncertainty into the reporting process.
Unless overturned, Boehner v.
McDermott will embolden the government and private citizens to be even
more aggressive in taking legal actions that aim to punish and deter
truthful speech. This is already happening: The Department of Justice has
cited Boehner as "especially instructive" in justifying its
prosecution of two former lobbyists of the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee for receiving and then discussing with reporters national defense
information, in alleged violation of the Espionage Act. Those same
prosecutors, as well as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have refused to
rule out the possibility that the government could launch similar criminal
charges against journalists who receive and publish classified information.
It can be extremely tempting to scale
back on traditional First Amendment freedoms in the area of national
security during war time. The government does have the right to protect
information in the name of national security and other compelling interests,
and to impose secrecy obligations on government officials to avoid harmful
disclosures. But the First Amendment, as a check on government power and an
instrument of self-government, tasks the press with ferreting out
information that the government wants to keep secret.
That information, after all, really
belongs to the people, who have delegated the power to govern to elected
officials. Sometimes the only way the public can learn about government
wrongdoing, or questionable government policies, is through leaks. The late
Yale law professor Alexander Bickel famously called this built-in
constitutional tension the "unruly contest" between the press and the
government. Boehner v. McDermott would stack the deck in this contest
between government secrecy and free speech. It should be rejected. The
interests at stake involve all Americans -- not just two feuding
Mr. Boutrous has filed a friend-of-the court brief in
the Boehner case for 18 news organizations, including Dow Jones, publisher
of The Wall Street Journal.
Shaping Livable Cities ---
Tobacco Companies Found Guilty of Racketeering, But No Cigar for Bill
"What Were They Smoking?" The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2006;
Page A10 ---
After seven years of litigation, $140 million of
taxpayer money and a 1,700-page decision, the government could finally claim
this week to have won its racketeering case against the tobacco industry.
But then why were tobacco stocks up by some 3% yesterday, with Altria,
parent company of Philip Morris and the Marlboro Man, hitting new multi-year
Investors know a loser when they see one, and in
this case it's the Justice Department. Federal Judge Gladys Kessler ruled
for the government on the civil racketeering charges, claiming that the
tobacco companies had done what everyone already knew they'd done for
decades, which is aggressively market a dangerous but legal product. But she
also awarded no damages, instead requiring a series of "remedial" measures
from the cigarette makers. These include a requirement to publish mea culpas
in the form of paid advertisements in newspapers, the elimination of the
words "light" and "low tar" on cigarette packs and additional warning
labels. For whatever that's worth.
The government will also be allowed to apply for
reimbursement of its costs in the case, which were estimated last year at
$140 million. But that's a far cry from the $280 billion that government
lawyers were seeking before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last year
ruled out going after 50 years worth of industry profits, plus interest.
This misbegotten case goes back to the Clinton
Administration, which looked at the $250 billion settlement between the
industry and the state Attorneys General and decided it wanted its own
quarter-trillion-dollar chunk of Big Tobacco's profit stream. The cynicism
here is remarkable, since the government was essentially claiming that the
industry was unconscionable precisely so it could lay claim to the cash flow
from its unconscionable behavior.
So Janet Reno launched a lawsuit, using a law
designed to prosecute mobsters to attack an entirely legal industry. The
Bush Administration slogged ahead with the suit, not wanting to take any
political heat for appearing to give Joe Camel a pass. When former Attorney
General John Ashcroft floated the idea of settling the case, career
attorneys at Justice sabotaged the effort by leaking word to the press and
stirring up liberal opposition. The Bushies backed down, though any
settlement then might well have been better for the anti-smoking cause than
what Justice has now "won."
Justice may take some consolation because its novel
use of the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against
legitimate, if unhealthful, businesses was given credence by Judge Kessler.
But Justice seems to have used RICO primarily because it carried the
prospect of crippling damages. Once the D.C. Circuit put the kibosh on
backward-looking remedies in the case, any RICO victory began to look like
Israel's recent triumph against Hezbollah.
Philip Morris has already pledged to appeal both
the unfavorable ruling and the remedial measures, and legal experts give it
some chance of success. Judge Kessler seems to have inserted herself into
all manner of minutiae in how cigarettes are sold and marketed. Given how
heavily regulated tobacco marketing already is, it's an open question
whether the judiciary is stepping on executive branch toes with the ruling.
For the tobacco companies, there's also the matter
of the proliferating lawsuits over whether the marketing of "light"
cigarettes was misleading. Judge Kessler ruled that it was, since it implied
health benefits that may not exist. If her ruling stands, it's possible that
it will be used in other civil tort claims currently on the docket around
But we suspect investors know the real score here,
and their verdict on Friday was to bid up tobacco stocks. No doubt many
state politicians around the country were also cheering the verdict because
it means the feds won't be able to horn in on their long-term tobacco income
stream. The war against cigarettes long ago stopped being about public
health; today it's all about public revenue.
Instant Death Advocated for Some Really Despised Immigrants Entering From
"Snakes on a Plane" may be the hot horror movie of the
summer, but bees on planes are creating the most buzz in some aviation circles.
Africanized honey bees -- the infamous "killer bees" -- are increasingly making
unscheduled layovers at airports across the Southwest. The aggressive bees,
which entered the U.S. from Mexico in the early 1990s, like to travel across
open spaces and stop to rest whenever the queen gets tired. Airports have few
trees or other natural rest stops. That makes planes, jetways, baggage-loading
equipment, terminals and parking garages popular for stopovers. Consequently,
pilots and mechanics sometimes find thousands of bees burrowing in engine
covers, clinging to cockpit windshields or swarming in the luggage compartment.
Nick Timiraos, "Bees on a Plane Are A Real-Life Problem: Vexing Some
Pilots They Like Yellow and Jet Fuel And Are Riled by Black; Big Buzz in the
Southwest," The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2006; Page A1 ---
How many illegal Aliens are in the United States?
In just six years, the number of illegal aliens
calling the United States home has jumped by nearly 30 percent, according to new
federal figures. The Department of Homeland Security believes 11 million
illegals were in the country at the start of 2006 -- up from 8.5 million in
early 2000. Slightly more than half the illegals in the U.S. come from Mexico.
Many others are from El Salvador, Guatemala, India and China. California has the
largest number of illegal immigrants, followed by Texas and Florida. Federal
officials estimate the number of illegals is growing at an annual national
average of 408,000.
"11M Illegal Aliens In U.S., Feds Say," CickonDetroit, August 18, 2006
Meanwhile, here are some forwarded statistics (not verified by me) on
95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for
83% of warrants for murder in Phoenix are for
86% of warrants for murder in Albuquerque are for
75% of people on the most wanted list in Los
Angeles, Phoenix, and Albuquerque are illegal aliens;
More than 380,000 "anchor babies" were born in the
United States in 2005 were to parents who are illegal aliens; making those
380,000 babies automatically U.S. citizens. 97.2% of all costs incurred from
those births were paid by the American taxpayer;
More than 66% of all births in California are to
illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers;
24.9% of all inmates in California detention
centers are Mexican nationals here illegally;
40.1% of all inmates in Arizona detention centers
are Mexican nationals here illegally;
48.2% of all inmates in New Mexico detention
centers are Mexican nationals here illegally;
29% (630,000) convicted illegal alien felons fill
our state and federal prisons at a cost of $1.6 billion annually;
More than 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles
County are living in garages
More than 53% of all investigated burglaries
reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are
perpetrated by illegal aliens;
More than half of all gang members in Los Angeles
are illegal aliens from south of the border;
More than 43% of all Food Stamps issued are to
More than 41% of all unemployment checks issued in
the United States are to illegal aliens;
58% of all Welfare payments in the United States
are issued to illegal aliens;
Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties in
the United States are illegal aliens;
14 out of 31 TV stations in L.A. are Spanish-only;
16 out of 28 TV stations in Phoenix are Spanish-
15 out of 24 TV stations in Albuquerque are
21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish-only;
17 radio stations in Phoenix are Spanish-only;
17 radio stations in Albuquerque are Spanish-only;
More than 34% of Arizona students in grades 1-12
are illegal aliens;
More than 24% of Arizona students in grades 1-12
More than 39% of California students in grades 1-
12 are illegal aliens;
More than 42% of California students in grades 1-
12 are non-English-speaking
In Los Angeles County, 5.1 million people speak
English. 3.9 million speak Spanish;
More than 71% of all apprehended cars stolen in
2005 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California were stolen by
illegal aliens or transport coyotes";
47% of cited/stopped drivers in California have no
license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 47%, 92%
are illegal aliens;
63% of cited/stopped drivers in Arizona have no
license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 63%, 97%
are illegal aliens;
66% of cited/stopped drivers in New Mexico have no
license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66%, 98%
are illegal aliens;
Less than 2% of illegal aliens in the United States
are picking crops , but 41% are on welfare;
Over 70% of the United States annual population
growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from
The cost of immigration to the American taxpayer in
1997 (latest know calculation. Can you imagine what it must be in 2006?
WOW!) was a NET (after subtracting taxes immigrants pay) $70 BILLION a year,
[Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University];
The estimated profit to U.S. corporations and
businesses employing ILLEGAL aliens in 2005 was more than $2.36 TRILLION
The lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus
services used) for the average adult Mexican ILLEGAL alien is $55,000.00
cost to the American taxpayer in a 5-year span. You, personally, are giving
$11,000 every year to ILLEGAL aliens.
How excessive is executive compensation and what can be done about it?
From Jim Mahar's Blog on August 22, 2006 ---
Are CEOs overpaid?
Yeah, I know I said I would go a while before
posting, but Rich forwarded this to me and I think many of you will be
interested. It is from
A few look-ins:
*"Ogling executive pay is the spectator sport
of business. The catcalls from the stands have gotten louder as new
studies throw out eye-popping statistics about how rich CEOs are
getting, while the rest of us worry about keeping our jobs out of
China. One such: the U.S.-based Institute for Policy Studies notes
that CEOs made 142 times more than the average worker in 1994—and
431 times more in 2004."
*"Democratic Congressman Barney Frank is proposing a Protection
Against Executive Compensation Abuse Act, which would limit tax
deductions for companies that pay executives more than 25 times the
lowest paid worker. But even as the drumbeat for reform grows
louder, some new research is questioning just how out of proportion
these megapackages really are—and whether more regulation is the
best way to scale them down.First,
there's the issue of metrics....[the article then shows that using
medians reduced the average CEO to average worker pay mulltple to
Gabaix of MIT and Augustin Landier of NYU
say that since 1980 the pay of CEOs has risen in lock step with the
market capitalization of their companies: both are up 500 percent.
*"Good governance still plays some part in determining pay—the
researchers say that CEOs can garner 10 to 20 percent more by going
to a firm with a weak board. And cultural mores play some role, too;
many of the Japanese firms studied were as big as American firms,
but executives were paid less and changed jobs less often."
*"...nearly all firms are moving toward heavier reliance on bonuses.
The average dollar amount of bonuses has doubled in the last three
years, as they make up a growing proportion of pay...."
Interesting article and an easy read so it is
perfect for the final "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer."
Bob Jensen's threads on Outrageous Executive
and Director Compensation Schemes are at
"Books on the Book of Books: Top tomes
on the Bible," by Robert Alter, The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2006 ---
1. "Mimesis" by Erich
Auerbach (Princeton, 1953).
The formidable challenge
that Erich Auerbach set himself with "Mimesis" is made clear by its
subtitle: "The Representation of Reality in Western Literature." But the
German scholar succeeded brilliantly, producing a masterwork of 20th-century
criticism that also happens to have pioneered a modern literary
understanding of the Bible. Though only the first chapter is strictly
focused on the Bible--a comparison of a passage from "The Odyssey" with one
from Genesis--a biblical grounding is essential to Auerbach's discussions of
Dante and other important writers of the medieval and early modern periods.
His enduring contribution: making us see that the Bible is not somehow apart
from literature, sequestered in a special preserve of theology and
spirituality, but is rather a manifestation of a high literary art.
2. "The Eclipse of
Biblical Narrative" by Hans W. Frei (Yale, 1974).
The German-born Yale
theologian Hans Frei identifies a turning point in the way the world
understood the Bible: when 18th- and 19th-century English and German
thinkers such as Locke and Kant broke the traditional link between the
factual and the allegorical in the Bible. Though the realistic novel was
flowering at the time, these interpreters declined to employ the lens of
realism, which is to say, to read the Bible as "history-like." Frei's book
deals with some difficult philosophical texts and is by no means a quick
read, but it is a deeply instructive investigation of the history of ideas.
3. "The Book of God" by
Gabriel Josipovici (Yale, 1988).
Gabriel Josipovici is a
prominent British critic and novelist who at a midpoint in his career became
interested in the Bible and acquired a competence in Hebrew (he already knew
Greek) in order to engage with it seriously. "The Book of God" is an
imaginative overview, sensitive to narrative detail and to stylistic nuance,
of both Testaments. Josipovici sees how the Bible constitutes a unique kind
of literature--a book, as he says, meant to change your sense of
reality--which is nevertheless linked with certain later writers. He
proposes surprising comparisons with Proust, Kafka and other modernists.
Some biblical passages, he observes, "bring us face to face with characters
who can be neither interpreted nor deconstructed. They are emblems of the
limits of comprehension."
4. "Leviticus as
Literature" by Mary Douglas (Oxford, 2000).
British anthropologist Mary
Douglas takes us on an intellectual adventure with "Leviticus as
Literature." No small feat, given that Leviticus is notoriously the driest
of biblical books--it consists mainly of elaborate instructions for the
sacrificial cult. But Douglas proposes that these cultic procedures reflect
a sophisticated system of thought: In describing the ritual preparation of
the sacrificial animal and the sanctuary's spatial divisions, the Leviticus
writers may have also been explaining the structure of the cosmos as they
understood it, a place where the vertical division of Mount Sinai (God and
Moses at the top, the elders of Israel halfway up, the Israelites below) is
mirrored horizontally in the sanctuary (the Holy of Holies within, the inner
court for the Levites, the outer court for the Israelites). Douglas makes a
persuasive case that more is going on in this book of the Bible than is
generally supposed--and she shows that modern condescension toward biblical
writing is misguided--but I am still tempted to say that Douglas is more
interesting to read than Leviticus.
5. "The Biography of
Ancient Israel" by Ilana Pardes (University of California, 2000).
Ilana Pardes, a scholar of
comparative literature based in Jerusalem, traces an ancient nation's
origins from Exodus through Deuteronomy. Combining anthropology,
psychoanalysis, comparative religion and literary analysis, she shows us an
epic tale that has as its subject not an individual hero but the Israelite
people itself. The splitting of the Red Sea is Israel's birth, the
Wilderness wanderings its rite of initiation--and so on, until finally, 40
years later, poised to enter the Promised Land, Israel is ready
(precariously) to assume national adulthood. Pardes's lucid prose is a
vehicle of interpretive élan.
Mr. Alter's two most recent books are
"The Five Books of Moses: A Translation With Commentary" and "Imagined
I stumbled upon this at
HOW TO TICK PEOPLE OFF (aside from publishing Tidbits)
- Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch
paper, 99 copies.
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while talking to others.
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weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."
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them to your boss.
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- Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over
your ears and grimacing.
- Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge
across the room.
- Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
- Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and
insist to others that you "like it that way."
- Staple pages in the middle of the page.
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- Honk and wave to strangers.
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complimentary mints at the cash register.
- TYPE IN UPPERCASE.
- type only in lowercase.
- dont use any punctuation either
- Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole
- Repeat the following conversation a dozen times.
"DO YOU HEAR THAT?"
"Never mind, it's gone now."
- As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
- Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom
of your chin. When nearly done, announce "No, wait, I messed it up,"
- Ask people what gender they are.
- While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a
- Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to
see if they slow down.
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- Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their
answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological
More Tidbits from the Chronicle
of Higher Education ---
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For earlier editions of New Bookmark
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Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory ---
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Trite's great set of links --- http://iago.stfx.ca/people/gtrites/Docs/bookmark.htm
Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/
recommend TheFinanceProfessor (an absolutely fabulous and totally free
newsletter from a very smart finance professor, Jim Mahar from St. Bonaventure
Jim's great blog is at
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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