In the Autumn of Life in the Autumn of 2006 in
New Hampshire's White Mountains
From Our Living Room About a Mile from Robert Frost's Old Farm House
Three mountain ranges are visible in the above picture taken
in an earlier foliage week:
The Kinsman Range (about 10 miles away showing the
pointy-headed Garfield, Baby's Cradle, and Lafayette)
The Twin Mountain Range (about 20 miles away showing North Twin and South Twin)
The distant Presidential Range (about 30 miles away showing part of Mt.
Washington with its wind-swept dome in the clouds)
Our closest mountains (Cannon, Three Graces, North Kinsman, and South Kinsman)
are to the right and not visible above.
It's been an absolutely breath-taking foliage season this year under a nightly
awe-inspiring full moon this week.
We've been blessed!
Tidbits on October 10, 2006
Foliage Network ---
Foliage in New
Hampshire's White Mountains ---
Fall Foliage ---
Foliage Pictures ---
earlier editions of Tidbits go to
earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
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Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
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I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
American Heroes (Until We Meet
Poem from fallen soldier honors the brave ---
All mortal beings,
which God brought forth, die the same
Man is not exempt
All will inevitably
end as the dust from whence we came
It matters not of age
Do not mourn me if
I should fall in a foreign land
Think this of my passing
In a far-off field
a finer soil mixed with the foreign sand
A dust that is American
A dust that
laughed, cried, and loved as an American
On this plot there shall be
A little piece of
America, a patch for the free man
Which no oppressor can take
From this soil grows grass
shimmering a little greener
Brilliant emerald ramparts
A Breeze whisping White
Poppies with scent a little sweeter
Flowers towards heaven
Mourn not my terrible death
but celebrate my cause in life
Viewed noble or not
I would have sacrificed and
gave all that I had to give
Not to make man good
But only to let the good man
— Aaron Seesan
Bravo America ---
Interactive Dig Black Sea: The Pisa Wreck
Ocean Symphony with Jack Black (ocean pollution video) ---
NOVA: Mystery of the Megavolcano ---
Professors Sharing Their Lectures on Video
Take Five from the University of Texas
Free music downloads ---
Asleep at the Wheel: Driving Western Swing ---
Unearthing an Unexpected Musical Treasure ---
From the Discovered Tapes
* 'Roll on Waters' - Woody Guthrie * 'This Land Is Your Land' - Woody
'Rogue's Gallery:' Songs of the Sea ---
For Chico Hamilton, the Beat Goes On ---
New Island Sounds from Cuba's Young Guard ---
Audra McDonald: A 'Theater Geek' Turns to Pop ---
Teoria (interactive music learning tutorials) ---
New York Fetes Composer Steve Reich at 70 ---
Live a Life That Matters ---
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 ---
From the University of South Carolina
Celebrating the Works of F. Scott Ftzgerald ---
CELT Corpus of Electronic Texts ---
Travels With A Donkey In The Cevennes
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) ---
Virginibus Puerisque by Robert
Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) ---
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. ---
The Adventure Of The Dancing Men
by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) ---
The Paris Review: Interviews ---
From the Pew Research Center
Looking Backward and Forward, Americans See Less Progress In Their Lives ---
Homer Simpson's Words of Wisdom ---
Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't
Karl Marx (1818-1883). Purported to
be his last words ---
I know you have come to kill me. Shoot, coward. You
are only going to kill a man.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967). Purported to be his
last words ---
But only free for a while. The Bolivian Army executed Che without a trial after
he was captured by U.S. Special Forces.
Hold the cross high so I may see it through the
Saint Joan of Arc (1412-1431).
Purported to be her last words ---
Dream and you will be free in spirit, fight and you
will be free in life.
Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967) ---
Every word has been, at sometime, a neologism.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) ---
The people we should thank are the innovators and
entrepreneurs, the individuals who see new opportunities and risk exploring them
-- the people who find new markets, create new products, think out new ways to
handle commodities commercially, organize work in new ways, design new
technology or transfer capital to more productive uses. The entrepreneur is an
explorer, who ventures into uncharted territory and opens up the new routes
along which we will all be traveling soon enough. Simply to look around is to
understand that entrepreneurs have filled our lives with everyday miracles.
Johan Norberg, "Humanity's Greatest
Achievement," The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2006; Page A11 ---
The uneven sheds stretch back
Shed behind shed in train
Like cars that have long lain
Dead on a side track
Robert Frost in a newly-discovered World War I poem
entitled as quoted by Scott McLeMee in "War Thoughts at Home," Inside Higher
Ed, October 4, 2006 ---
I still find each day too short for all the thoughts
I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and
all the friends I want to see.
John Burroughs as quoted in a recent
email message from Paula.
Do Wall Street investment banks favor the GOP with cash donations?
Hint: The answer will probably surprise you.
Wall Street has shifted its allegiance in the 2006
election cycle by donating more to Democrats than Republicans who have been the
investment banks' usual benefactors, U.S. Federal Election Commission data show.
Five leading firms Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bear Stearns Companies Inc.,Morgan
Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. have contributed
$6.2 million so far to candidates before the November elections, with about 52
percent going to Democrats . . . "People give ideological money and they give
money to people they think are going to win," said Maurice Carroll, director of
Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut. "It looks like
it's going to be a good year for Democrats."
Tim McLaughlin, "Wall Street's political cash favors Democrats," Reuters,
October 6, 2006 ---
Although the economy is in relatively good shape and tax revenues are pouring
into Washington DC and state houses across the land, there is also a general
feeling that the GOP-controlled House and Senate blew their chances for major
reforms on health care, Medicare, Social Security, and education reforms. Huge
worries arise from the GOP failures to control government spending and
corruption. There is a high degree of Wall Street resentment toward some
legislation, particularly Sarbanes-Oxley costly fraud prevention accounting
rules. Doubts have also arisen, long before Bob Woodward's book, about GOP
incompetence and corruption, an image that was long "Delayed." All these
things have strengthened the campaigns of Democratic candidates, and Wall Street
bets on winners. Change is in the wind (and "wind" is the correct term for
candidates from both parties).
House Republicans have done a lousy job of policing themselves
The larger problem for House Republicans is that
they've amassed a poor record of policing themselves amid a succession of
scandals. Even as Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay and Bob Ney tarnished the party's
image, no one other than a few "moderates" who don't have much sway in the
caucus took the lead in called for drumming any of them out of the ranks. It's
also notable that none of these three men survived their respective scandals.
Cunningham is serving time in the federal pen after pleading guilty to
corruption charges late last year. Mr. Ney abandoned plans to run for
re-election a few weeks ago after it became clear a federal investigation was
heading straight for him.
Brendan Miniter, "The Problem Isn't Foley: House Republicans have done a
lousy job of policing themselves," The Wall Street Journal, October 3,
Sex, lies and power games are just the latest symptoms of a Republican
Party that has strayed from its ideals
"The End of a Revolution," by Karen Tumulty, Time Magazine Cover Story,
October 8, 2006 ---
But after controlling both houses of Congress and
the White House for most of Bush's six years in office, the party has a
governing record that has come unmoored from those Grand Old Party ideals.
The exquisite political machinery that aces the elections has begun to
betray the platform. To win votes back home, lawmakers have been spending
taxpayer money like sailors on leave, producing the biggest budget deficits
in U.S. history. And the party's approach to national security has taken the
country into a war that most Americans now believe was a mistake and that
the government's own intelligence experts say has shaped "a new generation
of terrorist leaders and operatives."
One of the problems is that after the Republicans
got into power, the system began to change them, not just the other way
around. Among the first promises the G.O.P. majority broke was the setting
of term limits. Their longtime frustrations in the minority didn't
necessarily make them any better at reaching across the aisle either.
Compromise, that most central of congressional checks and balances, has been
largely replaced by a kind of calculated cussedness that has left the G.O.P.
isolated and exposed in times of crisis.
Continued in article
Is the GOP manipulating fuel prices for purposes of winning votes?
Answer from the Liberal Left
"Gas Pump Politics," by Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation, October 3,
Do the Democrats lose 50,000 votes every time the
price of gasoline drops a penny? We'll have the answer to that question in a
few weeks, but in the meantime cheaper gasoline raises some interesting
The first of which is whether or not the
Republicans have arranged to lower them to prevent what had seemed to be
defeat in November. Certainly, the timing of the price drop might cause even
the credulous to entertain a suspicion or two.
You may be sure that the Republicans are delighted
to see gasoline fade from the list of voter irritations. You may also be
sure that the Republicans would have arranged for prices at the pump to
swoon if they could, but can they?
Not likely. To make the price of gasoline come down
in Ohio, where the GOP is in big trouble, the prices have to drop
everywhere. No special walled-off Ohio oil market, or even an American oil
market, exists. If the price of oil is going to go down in Cincinnati, it is
going to have to go down in Shanghai. Oil, as the economists say, is
There are times when energy prices are manipulated,
California's electricity cost being an example. A few years ago, by closing
certain generating plants and refusing to sell electricity from certain
other plants, an artificial shortage was created, which drove up the price
of electricity and drove ordinary Californians to the poorhouse.
But California is not part of a world electricity
market. As opposed to oil prices, those electricity prices could be forced
upward without worrying about how would-be suppliers in Canada or elsewhere
would react. If California had been part of a world market, when the prices
went up outside suppliers of electricity would have rushed in to sell and
the prices would have been forced down again.
Because oil must be refined, it is possible to play
some games with gasoline prices. Refineries can be pulled off line for no
good reason except to drive the price of the products up. The operative word
here is "up."
Driving prices down is another matter. Manipulators
make money when the price goes up. Manipulators do not make money when the
price goes down.
Down is going to cost somebody a lot of money. For
practical purposes, the only way to make prices go down is to sell gasoline
at a loss because you must sell it under the going price. Not quite the same
as giving it away, but it's close.
And you have to sell a lot of it under the going
rate. Last winter, for example, we saw President Bush's good friend the
devil-defying Hugo Chávez, sell heating oil to poor Americans at
lower-than-market prices, and guess what effect that had on the price of
heating oil generally? None.
Last winter Chávez, through Citgo, owned by
Venezuela, dumped 16 million gallons of heating oil at below-market prices
in eight states, and if it pushed down the price of heating, nobody could
see it. Imagine how many million barrels of oil it would take to depress the
entire gasoline market--and how much it would cost. Rich Republicans, who
are desperately clinging to every nickel out of fear the death tax will
pauperize their heirs, are not about to make a campaign contribution of this
magnitude. If that's the cost--and it would be--of keeping Denny Hastert in
the House Speaker's chair, they'll take their chances with Nancy Pelosi.
The Democrats, posing as the champions of the great
unwashed as they do, dare not show their apprehension at the slump in gas
prices even as they watch votes melt away. Nevertheless, every time gas
prices drop, people kid themselves into believing the oil is going to flow
forever and that we can go on living as we have forever.
If the past is any kind of a guide, the numbskulls
in Detroit will postpone the design and production of truly energy-efficient
automobiles, a decision that will ultimately put them out of business. Lower
prices will bring research and development on more expensive alternatives to
a halt. The thousands of undertakings, great and small, that can increase
efficiency will be put off yet longer.
There will be no politicians of note who command
national attention (Al Gore aside) to tell us that we are once more
frittering away precious lead time between now and when (a) the oil runs out
and (b) the environment crashes.
The American religion of every man for himself and
the devil take the hindmost has made it a point of pride never to plan
ahead, never to be ready and never to prepare. So in war after war we are
caught with our pants down and in peace each Katrina is worse than the last
Whatever danger, no matter how real, how close or
how certain, the response is, "Oh, the free market will take care of it" or
"Aw, don't worry, technology has our back covered." So instead of throwing
ourselves into energy conservation to postpone the day of disaster, we hear
speeches about energy independence and ethanol.
As of now all ethanol can do is win the Midwestern
farm vote. Yet the Democrats ought not to give up hope. The Republicans seem
to have an inexhaustible supply of crooked pederast Congressmen, and there
is one deep truth, which is that oil prices, like all prices, fluctuate.
Next time the Ds may catch 'em on the down cycle.
"Why Are Saudis Approving Cheaper Oil? Short term, the kingdom fears economic
disruption from price spikes. Long term, though, it seeks to manage the market
with boosted capacity," by Stanley Reed, Business Week, October 4, 2006
Unbelievable as it may sound, Saudi Arabia is
practically applauding the 22% plunge in global oil prices since July. On
Sept. 19, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi called a price of about $60 per
barrel "reasonable." Analysts think the Saudis could even live with a price
in the mid-$50's per barrel. "The Saudi price target is probably lower than
the rest of OPEC; they are still happy at $50 per barrel," says David
Kirsch, an analyst at PFC Energy in Washington.
Why would the kingdom, which boasts the world's
largest oil reserves, cheer a price slump? In fact, the Saudis never felt
comfortable with $70 oil, fearing that sky-high prices might kill off the
global appetite for their single source of wealth.
"There is concern that the volatility in the
markets is so beyond anyone's control that it could cause severe damage to
the world economy," says Sadad Al Husseini, the retired exploration and
production chief of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company. The Saudis, he
says, "are determined to try and manage better."
INVESTING IN CAPACITY.
That's not to say the Saudis want to see prices continue to drop. In the
short term, they're trying to keep them from crashing below $50 per barrel
by gradually withdrawing oil from the market. But they're also investing
tens of billions of dollars to build spare capacity.
At a mid-September OPEC meeting in Vienna, Oil
Minister Naimi said Saudi Arabia plans to expand production in seven fields
to add 2.4 million barrels per day of capacity, boosting its total to about
12.5 million barrels per day by 2009. On Oct. 1, the Saudis announced they
would start work in early 2007 on a new oilfield called Moneefa, which will
have 900,000 barrels of capacity and come on line in 2011.
The Saudis want to be able to pump more so they can
manage prices by adding supply when markets are tight, and removing it when
inventories fatten. Of the major OPEC producers, only the Saudis currently
have significant spare capacity. But by 2004 they had allowed their buffer
to dwindle to around 700,000 barrels per day, not enough to cover a major
outage such as a shutdown of Iranian production. Like the rest of the
industry, they were caught napping by the big surge in demand beginning in
2004, which triggered a doubling of prices over the following two years.
DECOUPLING OIL FROM POLITICS.
The new production won't come cheap. The cost of expanding production will
exceed $24 billion, figures Nawaf Obaid, managing director of the Saudi
National Security Project, a Riyadh consultancy. He says the Saudi
leadership under King Abdullah wants to "decouple energy and foreign policy"
by building up enough spare capacity to offset a cutoff of crude from Iran
as well as another major producer such as Venezuela or Nigeria. They also
want to tamp down criticism from U.S. politicians.
For now, Venezuela and Nigeria say they are
cooperating with Saudi Arabia’s short-term goal. Oil ministers from the two
nations in late September promised to cut production by 170,000 barrels per
day, which should help the Saudis steady prices without reducing their own
30% share of OPEC production. But some market watchers think the Saudis will
eventually have to shoulder nearly all of the cuts of 1 million barrels per
day or more that may be required to keep oil above $50 per barrel.
"We have seen the peak [in prices] for a while
unless something blows up," says Leo Drollas, an analyst at the Center for
Global Energy Studies in London. Even so, the Saudis want an insurance
policy of extra capacity in case prices spike again.
From Columbia University
Having wreaked havoc onstage, the students unrolled a banner that read, in both
Arabic and English, "No one is ever illegal."
"At Columbia, Students Attack Minuteman Founder," by Eliana Johnson,
York Sun, October 4, 2006 ---
Students stormed the stage at Columbia University's
Roone auditorium yesterday, knocking over chairs and tables and attacking
Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minutemen, a group that patrols the border
between America and Mexico.
Mr. Gilchrist and Marvin Stewart, another member of
his group, were in the process of giving a speech at the invitation of the
Columbia College Republicans. They were escorted off the stage unharmed and
exited the auditorium by a back door.
Having wreaked havoc onstage, the students unrolled
a banner that read, in both Arabic and English, "No one is ever illegal." As
security guards closed the curtains and began escorting people from the
auditorium, the students jumped from the stage, pumping their fists,
chanting victoriously, "Si se pudo, si se pudo," Spanish for "Yes we could!"
The Minuteman Project, an organization of
volunteers founded in 2004 by Mr. Gilchrist, aims to keep illegal immigrants
out of America by alerting law enforcement officials when they attempt to
cross the border. The group uses fiery language and unorthodox tactics to
advance its platform. "Future generations will inherit a tangle of
rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold
them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a
harmonious ‘melting pot,'" the group's Web site warns.
The pandemonium that ensued as the evening's
keynote speaker took the stage was merely the climax of protest that brewed
all week. A number of campus groups, including the Chicano caucus, the
African-American student organization, and the International Socialist
organization, began planning their protests early this week when they heard
that the Minutemen would be arriving on campus.
The student protesters, who attended the event clad
in white as a sign of dissent, booed and shouted the speakers down
throughout. They interrupted Mr. Stewart, who is African-American, when he
referred to the Declaration of Independence's self-evident truth that "All
men are created equal," calling him a racist, a sellout, and a black white
A student's demand that Mr. Stewart speak in
Spanish elicited thundering applause and brought the protesters to their
feet. The protesters remained standing, turned their backs on Mr. Stewart
for the remainder of his remarks, and drowned him out by chanting, "Wrap it
up, wrap it up!" Mr. Stewart appeared unfazed by their behavior. He simply
smiled and bellowed, "No wonder you don't know what you're talking about."
"These are racist individuals heading a project
that terrorizes immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border," Ryan Fukumori, a
Columbia junior who took part in the protest, told The New York Sun. "They
have no right to be able to speak here."
The student protesters "rush to vindicate
themselves with monikers like ‘liberal' and ‘open-minded,' but their
actions, their attempt to condemn the Minutemen without even hearing what
they have to say, speak otherwise," the president of the Columbia College
Republicans, Chris Kulawik, said. On campus, the Republicans' flyers
advertising the event were defaced and torn down.
The College Republicans expressed their concern
about the lack of free speech for opposing viewpoints on the Columbia campus
in the wake of the evening's events. "We've often feared that there's not
freedom of speech at Columbia for more right-wing views — and that was
proven tonight," the executive director of the Columbia College Republicans,
Lauren Steinberg, said.
The Minutemen's arrival at Columbia drew protesters
from around the city as well. An hour before Messrs. Stewart and Mr.
Gilchrist took the stage, rowdy protests began outside the auditorium on
Broadway, where activists chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, the Minutemen have got
Continued in article
Mr. Bollinger (President of Columbia
University), a legal scholar whose specialty is free
speech and the First Amendment, quickly condemned this week’s disruption.
“Students and faculty have rights to invite speakers to the campus,” he said
yesterday in an interview. “Others have rights to hear them. Those who wish to
protest have rights to do so. No one, however, shall have the right or the power
to use the cover of protest to silence speakers.” He added, “There is a vast
difference between reasonable protest that allows a speaker to continue, and
protest that makes it impossible for speech to continue.”
Karen W. Arenson and Damien Cave, "Silencing of a Speech Causes a Furor," The
New York Times, October 7, 2006 ---
With Columbia University again under fire over
speech issues, the president is condemning anyone who prevents another’s speech
from taking place. On Wednesday, protesters stormed a stage where Jim Gilchrist,
head of the Minuteman Project, a “vigilance operation” opposing illegal
immigration, was speaking, forcing him to stop his talk. Lee C. Bollinger,
Columbia’s president, pledged that the university would investigate the incident
and procedures for making sure that speakers can give their talks. In
a statement, he said: “This is not a complicated
issue. Students and faculty have rights to invite speakers to the campus. Others
have rights to hear them. Those who wish to protest have rights to do so. No
one, however, shall have the right or the power to use the cover of protest to
silence speakers. This is a sacrosanct and inviolable principle.”
Inside Higher Ed, October 9, 2006
Frightened Into Ignorance
Iraq's school and university system is in danger of
collapse in large areas of the country as pupils and teachers take flight in the
face of threats of violence. Professors and parents have told the Guardian they
no longer feel safe to attend their educational institutions. In some schools
and colleges, up to half the staff have fled abroad, resigned or applied to go
on prolonged vacation, and class sizes have also dropped by up to half in the
areas that are the worst affected.
"Iraqi education system on brink of collapse." Peter Beaumont,
October 4, 2006 ---
If the George Bush has this supernatural power, the whole
world should be scared
THE followers of Moqtada al-Sadr believe that the US
invaded Iraq to prevent the return to Earth of their sect’s messiah-like figure,
the Mahdi, or 12th imam. Hojatoleslam al-Sadr claims that his militia is
preparing for the day when the Mahdi, the last direct descendent of the revered
Shia figure Ali, reappears. Shia believe that the Mahdi, who disappeared in 868,
will bring justice to Earth.
"Waiting for the imam's return to Earth,"
London Times, October 3, 2006
"Why Are There Wars Without End?" PhysOrg, October 6, 2006 ---
"Paz to supply gas to Palestinian Authority: Israeli energy
company to refine oil for Authority it in it's recently purchased Oil Refineries
in Ashdod. Deal estimates to worth about NIA 1.5 billion (roughly USD 30
million)," by Tani Goldstein, Ynet, October 5, 2006 ---
The Paz energy company began supplying gas to the
Palestinian Authority Wednesday, after signing an agreement with the PA to
start providing it with petrol in three months.
Sources in the Israeli energy industry and the PA
claim that contract went into effect immediately after the Alon Oil Company,
the PA's previous supplier, stopped providing the Palestinians with gas on
Paz acquired the Ashdod Oil Refineries from the
government this week for a sum of NIS 3.25 billion (roughly USD 764
According to the deal signed between the PA and
Paz, the energy company will refine crude oil for the Palestinians, who will
purchase the oil directly from the Arab countries. This is set to be the
first time since its establishment in 1994 that the PA buys oil
independently, and not from Israel.
It is estimated that Paz will sell the petrol to
the Palestinians for a lower price than will be charged in Israel.
According to estimates in the energy industry,
official purchase of oil in the PA amount to NIS 1.5 billion (roughly USD 30
million) per year.
The North Korean Motives are Obvious
Kim Jong-il’s methods have paid off handsomely. Each
act of brinksmanship has brought cash, supplies, oil, nuclear reactors, or
additional concessions from the West. Within two months of the Taepo Dong
missile scraping across Nippon in August 1998, President Clinton sent North
Korea a multi-million dollar aid package and reopened bilateral negotiations.
Ben Johnson, "The Left's Diplomacy Pays Off," FrontPage Magazine, October
9, 2006 ---
"Pyongyang Phooey," by Nicholas Eberstadt, The Wall Street Journal,
October 5, 2006; Page A20 ---
North Korea has been called a "rogue state" by
some, a "terrorist state" by others, and fair enough -- but while those
terms carry opprobrium, they lack real descriptive content. The North is
better understood as a "revisionist state" -- bitterly dissatisfied with the
international environment it faces, and intent upon overturning that order.
Its main grievances with the international system are: (1) the predominance
and success of the capitalist world economy, particularly its global trade
and financial arrangements, which are fundamentally incompatible with
Pyongyang's Stalin-style economy; (2) the Northeast Asian security structure
of military alliances built and maintained by its superpower enemy, the
U.S.; and (3) the florescence of a prosperous, democratic South Korean state
on the landmass that the Kim family claims the right to rule
These grievances are not merely aesthetic. Since
each of these features of the international system places the survival of
their own system in jeopardy, North Korea is exceedingly unlikely to be
reconciled to them through "international dialogue." Making the world safe
for Kim Jong Il requires nothing less than upending the contemporary
economic, political and military order in Northeast Asia -- preposterous as
such an outcome may sound to South Korean, Japanese or American ears.
Nevertheless, North Korean policy is relentlessly
focused on achieving just such an upending. The carefully chosen tools for
the job are nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. The point of
vulnerability -- the focus of these WMD -- is the U.S.-South Korea military
alliance. By training missiles on U.S. territory, Pyongyang's goal of
breaking the alliance would be promoted most efficiently -- and its
objective of unconditional unification with South Korea would be directly
advanced. Why? Because placing U.S. territory in North Korea's nuclear
crosshairs inescapably undermines the credibility of American security
guarantees in a time of crisis on the Korean peninsula. If U.S. policy
makers were deemed unwilling to expose Seattle in order to honor commitments
to Seoul, the security alliance would be worthless, America's unparalleled
military might notwithstanding.
For over half a century, Pyongyang has endured the
reality of U.S.-imposed "deterrence." For Kim Jong Il, the geopolitical keys
to the kingdom lie in deterring the deterrer -- and North Korea's otherwise
puzzling and bellicose behavior should be regarded through the prism of this
The seemingly stalled six-party talks, for example,
are actually not stalled at all: North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons
programs have apparently been progressing quite nicely during the three-plus
years of conferencing. There is an eerie similarity between the "conference
diplomacy" involving North Korea today and earlier episodes of "conference
diplomacy" in Europe between World Wars I and II. While the particulars are
obviously different -- Germany was the strongest state in its region, while
North Korea is the weakest -- the dynamics are almost exactly the same: The
status quo powers want to talk; the revisionist powers want to arm -- and
both parties get their wish.
When North Korea launched its missiles in July, the
move was judged in many quarters to be impetuous, even irrational. In fact,
it was coolly calculated, displaying the regime's confidence that it could
manage subsequent international events while pushing its game up to a
potentially much more dangerous level.
Even so, Pyongyang could not have known how much
its own project -- inflaming the U.S.-South Korea military alliance -- would
be abetted by the hapless Roh Moo Hyun government. In the immediate
aftermath of the launches, South Korea's President Roh studiously avoided
criticism of North Korea -- and instead harshly scolded the Japanese for
(among other things) bringing the matter before the U.N., averring that
Tokyo's actions could "lead to a critical situation in the peace over
Northeast Asia"! The Roh administration also stated that its multibillion
dollar joint-venture scheme within North Korea, the Kaesong Industrial
Complex, should be insulated against any political fallout from the missile
episode. It continued the subsidies for the project and insisted that North
Korean products "made in Kaesong" should receive privileged treatment in the
pending U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.
Most portentously of all, Mr. Roh fixated on
switching wartime operational control (Opcon) of the U.S-South Korea
combined forces command from U.S. to South Korean hands. It seemed to matter
little to him that many military specialists in South Korea itself --
including a large number of retired generals and former ministers of
national defense -- went on record to warn that the South's forces were not
prepared for such a transition, and that readiness might suffer. The true
reasoning behind Mr. Roh's adamant Opcon lobbying may have been revealed by
one of his advisers at a public seminar in Seoul last month. He argued that
South Korea's control of troops during wartime is critical to maintain
security on the peninsula as it prevents the U.S. military from unilaterally
conducting military operations in the case of an emergency on the peninsula.
Opcon, in other words, was a proxy for the Roh
government's distrust of its U.S. ally -- a feeling evidently so powerful
that it could not be restrained even under the pressure of North Korea's
missile tests. In the light of such official South Korean reactions,
Pyongyang made its own calculations about the risks and benefits in moving
its agenda on to nuclear tests. * * *
If the flower children in charge of South Korean
national security policy these days have acquitted themselves poorly, the
record of the self-proclaimed grownups who took charge of Washington's
policies in 2001 does not look that much better. Passive-aggressive in the
face of North Korean brinkmanship, irritable and reactive in the face of
mounting frictions in the relationship with Seoul, the Bush administration's
main achievement to date in "alliance management" seems to have been the
drawdown of U.S. forces in South Korea, with more in store. It is not even
clear that our statesmen understand the stakes of the game they are
embroiled in. All this, of course, will hardly dissuade Pyongyang from
pressing the U.S.-South Korea alliance ever harder.
With his latest nuclear gambit, Kim Jong Il has
just reset the clock on the U.S.-South Korean military alliance, moving the
hands palpably closer to midnight. If we listen closely, we can hear the
Mr. Eberstadt, the Henry Wendt scholar at the American Enterprise
Institute, is author of "The North Korean Economy Between Crisis and
Catastrophe," forthcoming from Transaction Publishers.
Do professors who expound political beliefs to their students affect political
beliefs of their students?
"All in the Family," by Arthur C. Brooks, The Wall Street Journal,
October 3, 2006; Page A26 ---
Parents have just sent their kids off to college,
full of hope that the knowledge and enlightenment they acquire will prepare
them for the rigors of the modern economy. But a worrying possibility is
keeping some of these parents -- especially the conservative ones -- up at
night: the prospect that their children will be hopelessly corrupted by the
In one popular book about campus politics, the
author writes, "We all know that left-wing radicals from the 1960s have hung
around academia and hired people like themselves. . . . [T]hey spew violent
anti-Americanism, preach anti-Semitism, and cheer on the killing of American
soldiers and civilians -- all the while collecting tax dollars and tuition
fees to indoctrinate our children." If the author is right, then the fears
about the minds of our children might seem like a lot more than just
Most studies of the subject have indicated that,
indeed, upward of 90% of college professors at many universities hold
liberal political views. In some schools and departments, faculties are
virtually 100% left-wing. It is one thing to lament this ideological
lopsidedness in the academy. But it is quite another to assume that
professors actually bend the little minds in their care toward a liberal
point of view, or even a radical one. Imagine a student with God-fearing
Republican parents exposed to the depredations of an English professor
aiming to use his class as a Bolshevik training camp. Will the professor
succeed in turning the kid into a Red? The evidence says, probably not: When
it comes to politics, people from conservative families follow their
parents, not their professors.
The most recent evidence on this subject comes from
the mid-1990s, in the University of Michigan's National Election Studies.
These survey data uncover two facts. First, people who go to college are
more likely to vote Republican than those who don't go to college. Adults 25
and under from Republican homes are, for example, 11 percentage points more
likely to vote Republican if they attended college than if they didn't. And
young adults from Democratic households are 11 percentage points less likely
to vote Democrat if they've gone to college than if not.
Second, nearly everybody grows more likely to vote
Republican as they age -- but especially college graduates. It is no shock
that the vast majority of people of all educational backgrounds from
Republican homes vote Republican by age 40. It may come as more of a
surprise that 40-year-olds with Democrat parents are far less likely to vote
Democrat if they've gone to college than if they haven't. In fact, while
three-quarters of the uneducated group still vote Democrat, the odds are
only about 50-50 that the college graduates vote this way. And they've not
all become skeptical political independents: Fully a third are registered
Obviously, some kids turn left in college -- but
this appears to be the exception, not the rule. Does all this mean that our
colleges and universities are actually breeding grounds for conservatism?
Hardly. What the statistics really show is that higher education by itself
doesn't affect political views very much. Rather, in addition to the strong
influence of parents, it is higher incomes -- which typically reward a
college education in America -- that push people to the right politically.
In Republican families, the income effect reinforces parents' influence on
their kids. In Democratic families, the two effects work against each other.
To fearful Republican parents, then: Sleep tight.
When it comes to politics, your kids are in good hands -- yours.
Professor Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School
of Public Affairs, is the author of "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth
About Compassionate Conservatism," forthcoming in November from Basic Books.
"No Return To IRA Terror," Sky News, October 4, 2006 ---
The IRA no longer considers a return to terrorism
"a viable option", according to Northern Ireland's ceasefire watchdog.
The conclusion of the Independent Monitoring
Commission comes in its 12th report on the peace process in the province.
It says the IRA has disbanded its military
structures and is no longer involved in "terrorism, training, recruiting,
targeting, procurement or engineering".
The Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain welcomed
the conclusions of the IMC.
"There is now convincing evidence of the IRA's
continuing commitment to the political path and ... it is no longer credible
to suggest otherwise," he said.
The Irish PM Bertie Ahern called the findings
"positive and clear-cut", adding they were "of the utmost importance and
Continued in article
"Blair: Northern Ireland final settlement within reach," by Matt
Weaver, The Guardian, October 4, 2006 ---
Senate Voting on Two Bills to Fence Off U.S.-Mexico Border
An iron curtain between Mexico and the U.S. may keep out some migrant
workers, but it gives me very little feeling of safety from terrorists who will
easily enter the U.S. with a bit of imagination and money. The easy passage of
this bill is heavily based upon voter sentiment against a rising tide of illegal
immigration across the southern border of the U.S.
Senator Chafee is the only Republican voting against the fence on the second
bill. Given business lobbying against the fence, it's surprising that all other
Republicans did not follow Chafee's lead. Many businesses opposed to fencing
want the added, and generally inexpensive, labor supply.
leadership split markedly on these bills with Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton,
Tom Harkin, Chuck Schumer, and Ron Wyden voting Yea for both fencing bills
versus Senators Durbin, Feingold, Lieberman, and Sarbanes voting Nay both times. A few other leading
Democrats joined in the Nay vote on the second bill. Labor union lobbying for
the fence probably accounts for much of this split among Democrats. Noted
switchers between the first and second fencing bills are highlighted below.
Senator Kennedy abstained on the second vote, but his press releases are
negative regarding fence building.
Here's How Our U.S. Senators Voted on Both Fencing Bills:
Senator Name With the May 17, 2006 Vote
Followed by the September 29, 2006 Vote
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Akaka (D-HI), Nay
Bingaman (D-NM), Nay on
Cantwell (D-WA), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Nay on
Inouye (D-HI), Nay
Jeffords (I-VT), Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Lieberman (D-CT), Nay
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay on
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Sarbanes (D-MD), Nay
Dodd (D-CT), Nay
Nay then Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Allard (R-CO), Yea
Allen (R-VA), Yea on both
Yea on both
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea on both
Yea on both
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Yea
Burns (R-MT), Yea on both
Yea on both
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Yea on both
Yea on both
Dayton (D-MN), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Yea
DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Yea on both
Domenici (R-NM), Yea on both
Yea on both
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea on both
Yea on both
Frist (R-TN), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea on both
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Yea on both
Yea on both
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Yea on both
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Yea on both
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea on both
Yea on both
Lott (R-MS), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea on both
Yea on both
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea on both
Roberts (R-KS), Yea on both
Yea on both
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea on both
Yea on both
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Talent (R-MO), Yea
Thomas (R-WY), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Yea on both
Yea on both
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Yea on both
Can we fence off the Pacific Ocean?
"SEX TRAFFICKING: San Francisco Is A Major Center For International
Crime Networks That Smuggle And Enslave," San Francisco Chronicle,
October 6, 2006 ---
Many of San Francisco's Asian massage parlors --
long an established part of the city's sexually permissive culture -- have
degenerated into something much more sinister: international sex slave
Once limited to infamous locales such as Bombay and
Bangkok, sex trafficking is now an $8 billion international business, with
San Francisco among its largest commercial centers.
San Francisco's liberal attitude toward sex, the
city's history of arresting prostitutes instead of pimps, and its large
immigrant population have made it one of the top American cities for
international sex traffickers to do business undetected, according to Donna
Hughes, a national expert on sex trafficking at the University of Rhode
"It makes me sick to my stomach," said San
Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. "Girls are being forced to come to this
country, their families back home are threatened, and they are being raped
repeatedly, over and over."
Because sex trafficking is so far underground, the
number of victims in the United States and worldwide is not known, and the
statistics vary wildly.
The most often cited numbers come from the U.S.
State Department, which estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are
trafficked for forced labor and sex worldwide each year -- and that 80
percent are women and girls. Most trafficked females, the department says,
are exploited in commercial sex outlets.
Relying on research from the Central Intelligence
Agency, the State Department estimates there are 14,500 to 17,500 human
trafficking victims brought into the United States each year -- but does not
quantify how many of those are sex victims. Some advocacy groups place the
number of U.S. victims much higher, while others criticize the government
for overstating the problem.
"The number will always be an estimate, because
trafficking victims don't stand in line and raise their hands to be counted,
but it's the best estimate we have," said Ambassador John Miller, director
of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in
Persons. The CIA won't divulge its research methods, but based its figures
on 1,500 sources, including law enforcement data, government data, academic
research, international reports and newspaper stories.
Women trafficked for the sex industry are
predominantly from Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union and South America
-- lured to the United States by promises of lucrative jobs as models or
hostesses, only to be sold to brothels, strip clubs and outcall services and
extorted into working off thousands of dollars in surprise travel debts to
their new "owners."
Federal investigators say that even those who come
to the United States with the idea of working as high-society call girls
cannot imagine the captivity and the degrading workload they face.
"Human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar
business. In terms of profits, it's on a path to overtake drug and arms
trafficking," said Barry Tang, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement
attache with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in South Korea.
"There's a highly organized logistical network between Korea and the United
States with recruiters, brokers, intermediaries, taxi drivers and madams."
The United States is among the top three
destination countries for sex traffickers, along with Japan and Australia.
Once in the United States, traffickers most often set up shop in California,
New York, Texas and Las Vegas.
It's an underground world, but in more than 100
interviews with federal agents, experts and sex trafficking victims in
California and South Korea, a picture emerges about how international
traffickers buy and sell women between Asia and the West Coast.
Overseas, the trafficker is usually a woman. She
recruits from clubs, bars, colleges, pool halls and restaurants, said Deputy
Special Agent Mark F. Wollman, who oversees San Francisco for U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Recruiters fill the want ads in papers
and the Internet, targeting vulnerable young women with fake job offers for
waitresses, models and hostesses in America.
Traffickers fly the women to Canada or Mexico, and
walk or drive them into California. In Canada, they slip through Indian
reservations off-limits to the U.S. Border Patrol, often at night, and
sometimes along snow-packed trails.
In Mexico, the traffickers lead the women over the
same treacherous desert paths worn down by migrants heading to "El Norte"
for work. More women come through airport customs in San Francisco and Los
Angeles, using fake passports and student or tourist visas made for them by
It's relatively easy for traffickers to evade
authorities at the checkpoints -- land, air or sea -- because women still
don't realize at that point that they are being tricked.
"It's not like the movies where you open a trunk
and you interview them and they tell you everything," said Lauren Mack,
special-agent-in-charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San
Diego. "They aren't going to tell you they're victimized because they aren't
Once in California, the women are taken most often
to Los Angeles or San Francisco, where they are hidden inside homes, massage
parlors, apartments and basements, only to learn that the job offer was just
a ploy. Typically they are locked inside their place of business, forced to
have sex with as many as a dozen men a day. Sometimes victims are forced to
live in the brothel, too, where five or six "co-workers" are crammed into
Their "owners" confiscate their travel documents
until the women pay off exorbitant sums. Often captors will ensure the women
never pay off their debts, by tacking on fees for food, clothing or rent.
Some fine the women for displeasing customers, being late to work, fighting
or a host of other possible transgressions.
Yuki, 25, who fears for her safety and only gave
her first name to The Chronicle during an interview in Seoul, said she was
trafficked from South Korea to a karaoke bar in Inglewood (Los Angeles
County), where she was assured that she would simply be serving drinks to
men. Once there, she was ordered to sell $3,000 worth of drinks each month.
When she failed, she was sent to the "touching room," a private suite where
men could have their way with her for $400.
Sex slaves who work in massage parlors and bars are
often locked in their place of business by double security doors, monitored
by surveillance cameras and only let outside under the guard of crooked taxi
drivers who ferry them to their next sex appointment.
Women report being beaten, raped and starved by
their keepers. Kim, who also withheld her last name, told The Chronicle in
an interview in South Korea that she was forced to pay $4,400 for plastic
surgery to open her eyes and make her nose thinner and pointier, "like
Both women eventually escaped their captors and now
live as shut-ins in Seoul, spending their time on the phone or the Internet
or watching TV, too afraid to go outside and cross paths with someone from
the network that trafficked them.
They are scared because sex trafficking rings are
often run by criminal organizations that aren't afraid to use violence to
protect the billions they generate.
Although it's not known how much money the San
Francisco market generates for sex traffickers, federal agents confiscated
$2 million in cash from 10 Asian massage parlors during a San Francisco raid
in summer 2005.
Local police say the bust didn't make a dent in the
illegal sex trade.
Continued in article
The president and co-owner of a Wilmington-based
temporary labor service company pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to
conspiring to provide work for hundreds of illegal aliens. Maximino Garcia,
president of Garcia Labor Co. in Ohio Inc. and Tennessee-based Garcia Labor Co.
Inc., entered a plea agreement that requires him to forfeit $12 million and face
a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Garcia's sister,
Dominga McCarroll, who is also the former vice president of both companies and
Gina Luciano, Garcia Labor Co. Inc. director of human relations, also pleaded
guilty to the same charge and will face the same possible penalties, minus the
$12 million forfeiture.
"Business owner pleads guilty in illegal alien case,"
October 3, 2006 ---
Analogous to "clear-cutting the forest to catch a squirrel"
"Bush Seeks Ban on Destructive Fishing," PhysOrg, October 3,
2006 --- http://physorg.com/news79102898.html
President Bush called for a halt to all types of
destructive fishing on the high seas Tuesday, saying the United States will
work to eliminate practices such as bottom trawling that devastate fish
populations and the ocean floor.
Bush's memo directs the secretaries of the State
and Commerce departments to promote "sustainable" fisheries and to oppose
any fishing practices "that destroy the long-term natural productivity of
fish stocks or habitats such as seamounts, corals, and sponge fields for
short-term gain." Bush also said the United States would work with other
nations and international groups to change fishing practices and create new
international fishery regulatory groups if needed.
On the high seas, where the vast marine life knows
few laws, hundreds of boats drag huge nets along the sea floor scooping up
orange roughy, blue ling and other fish - but bulldozing nearly everything
else in their path.
"It's like clear-cutting the forest to catch a
squirrel," said Joshua Reichert, head of the private Pew Charitable Trusts'
environment program, which has been leading an international coalition of
more than 60 conservation groups seeking to halt the practice known as
bottom trawling on the high seas.
Continued in article
Al-Qaida instructed terrorists to release sarin gas
Al-Qaida commanders allegedly ordered the suicide
bombers to get jobs at Edgbaston Cricket Ground and wipe out the Australian and
England players. They were instructed to release sarin gas, a highly toxic nerve
agent that is one of the world's most dangerous chemical weapons. But
cricket-loving terrorist Shehzad Tanweer apparently objected and instead the
terrorist cell perpetrated the July 7 underground Tube and bus bombings that
killed 56 people and injured more than 700.
Fiona Hudson and Mark Dunn, "Ashes death plot revealed," Australia's Herald
Sun, October 9, 2006 ---
Facts from Naomi Ragen's Home Page ---
Naomi Ragen is an American-born
novelist and playwright who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She has
published six internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a
hit play in Israel's National Theatre. Naomi also publishes a regular email
column, to which you can subscribe by sending an empty email message to:
A Serious New Commercial Advance for Online Training and Education
"Opening Up Online Learning," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed,
October 9, 2006 ---
This has not exactly been a season of peace, love
and harmony on the higher education technology landscape. A
patent fight has broken out among major developers
of course management systems. Academic publishers and university officials
are warring over
open access to federally sponsored research. And
textbook makers are taking a pounding for — among other things — the ways in
which digital enhancements are running up the prices of their products.
In that context, many may be heartened by the
announcement later today at the Educause meeting in Dallas that three dozen
academic publishers, providers of learning management software, and others
have agreed on a common, open standard that will make it possible to move
digital content into and out of widely divergent online education systems
without expensive and time consuming reengineering. The agreement by the
diverse group of publishers and software companies, who compete intensely
with one another, is being heralded as an important breakthrough that could
expand the array of digital content available to professors and students and
make it easier for colleges to switch among makers of learning systems.
Of course, that’s only if the new standard, known
“Common Cartridge,” becomes widely adopted, which
is always the question with developments deemed to be potential
Many observers believe this one has promise,
especially because so many of the key players have been involved in it.
Working through the IMS Global Learning Consortium, leading publishers like
Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill Education and course-management system
makers such as
Sakai have worked to
develop the technical specifications for the common cartridge, and all of
them have vowed to begin incorporating the new standard into their products
by next spring — except Blackboard, which says it will do so eventually, but
has not set a timeline for when.
What exactly is the Common Cartridge? In lay terms,
it is a set of specifications and standards, commonly agreed to by an IMS
working group, that would allow digitally produced content — supplements to
textbooks such as assessments or secondary readings, say, or
faculty-produced course add-ons like discussion groups — to “play,” or
appear, the same in any course management system, from proprietary ones like
Blackboard/WebCT and Desire2Learn to open source systems like Moodle and
“It is essentially a common ‘container,’ so you can
import it and load it and have it look similar when you get it inside” your
local course system, says Ray Henderson, chief products officer at ANGEL,
who helped conceive of the idea when he was president of the digital
publishing unit at Pearson.
The Common Cartridge approach is designed to deal
with two major issues: (1) the significant cost and time that publishers now
must spend (or others, if the costs are passed along) to produce the
material they produce for multiple, differing learning management systems,
and (2) the inability to move courses produced in one course platform to
another, which makes it difficult for professors to move their courses from
one college to another and for campuses to consider switching course
The clearest and surest upside of the new standard,
most observers agree, is that it could help lower publishers’ production
costs and, in turn, allow them to focus their energies on producing more and
better content. David O’Connor, senior vice president for product
development at Pearson Education’s core technology group, says his company
and other major publishers spend “many hundreds of thousands of dollars a
year effectively moving content around” so that ancillary material for
textbooks can work in multiple course management systems.
Because Blackboard and Web CT together own in the
neighborhood of 75 percent of the course management market, Pearson and
other publishers produce virtually all of their materials to work in those
proprietary systems. Materials are typically produced on demand for smaller
players like ANGEL, Desire2Learn and Sakai, and it is even harder to find
usable materials for colleges’ homemade systems. While big publishers such
as Pearson and McGraw-Hill have sizable media groups that can, when they
choose to, spend what’s necessary to modify digital content for selected
textbooks, “small publishers often have to say no,” O’Connor says. As a
result, “there are just fewer options for people who aren’t using Blackboard
and WebCT, and more hurdles to getting it.”
Supporters hope that adoption of the common
cartridge will allow publishers to spend less time and money adapting one
textbook’s digital content for multiple course platforms and more time
producing more and better content. “This should have the result of
broadening choice in content to institutions,” says Catherine Burdt, an
analyst at Eduventures, an education research firm. “Colleges would no
longer be limited to the content that’s supported by their LMS platform, but
could now go out and choose the best content that aligns with what’s
happening in their curriculum.”
Less clear is how successful the effort will be at
improving the portability of course materials from one learning management
system to another. If all the major providers introduce “export capability,”
there is significant promise, says Michael Feldstein, who writes the blog
e-Literate and is
assistant director of the State University of New York Learning Network.
“This has the potential to be one of the most important standards to come
out in a while, particularly for faculty,” says Feldstein, who notes that
his comments here represent his own views, not SUNY’s. “It would become much
easier for them to take rich course content and course designs and migrate
them from one system to another with far less pain.”
But while easier transferability would obviously
benefit the smaller players in the course management market — and ANGEL and
Sakai plan to announce today that their systems will soon allow professors
to create Common Cartridges for export out of their systems — such a system
would only take off if the dominant player in the market, the combined
Blackboard/WebCT, eventually does the same. “I’m not sure how excited
Blackboard would be about making it easier for faculty to migrate out of
their product and into one of their competitors,” says Feldstein.
Chris Vento, senior vice president of technology
and product development at Blackboard, was a leading proponent of the IMS
Common Cartridge concept when he was a leading official at WebCT before last
year’s merger. In an interview, he acknowledged the question lots of others
are asking: “What’s in it for Blackboard? Why wouldn’t you just lock up the
format and force everybody to use it?” His answer, he says, is that by
helping the entire industry, he says, the project cannot help but benefit
its biggest player, too.
“This will enable publishers to really do the best
job of producing their content, making it richer and better for students and
faculty, and more lucrative for publishers from the business perspective,”
says Vento. “Anything we can do to enable that content to be built, and more
of it and better quality, the more lucrative it is eventually for us.”
Blackboard is fully behind the project, Vento says.
Having endorsed the Common Cartridge charter, Blackboard has also committed
to incorporating the new standard into its products, and that Blackboard
intends to make export of course materials possible out of its platform.
“Exactly how that maps to our product roadmap has not been finalized,” he
said, “but in the end, we’re all going to have to do this. It’s just a
question of when.” There will, he says, “be a lot of pressures to do this.”
That pressure is likely to be intensified because
of the public relations pounding Blackboard has taken among many in the
academic technology world because of its attempt to patent technology that
many people believe is fundamental to e-learning systems. O’Connor of
Pearson says he believes Blackboard could benefit from its involvement in
the Common Cartridge movement by being seen “as the dominant player, to be
someone supporting openness in the community.” He adds: “There is an
opportunity for them to mend some of the damage from the patent issue.”
Like virtually all technological advances — or
would-be ones — Common Cartridge’s success will ultimately rise and fall,
says Burdt of Eduventures, on whether Blackboard and others embrace it.
“Everything comes down to adoption,” she says. “The challenge with every
standard is the adoption model. Some are out the door too early. Some evolve
too early and are eclipsed by substitutes. For others, suppliers decide not
to support it for various reasons.”
Those behind the Common Cartridge believe it’s off
to a good start with the large number of disparate parties not only involved
in creating it, but already committing to incorporate it into their
Yet even as they launch this standard, some of them
are already looking ahead to the next challenge. While the Common Cartridge,
if widely adopted, will allow for easier movement of digital course
materials into and out of course management systems, it does not ensure that
users will be able to do the same thing with third-party e-learning tools
(like subject-specific tutoring modules) that are not part of course
management systems, or with the next generation of tools that may emerge
down the road. For that, the same parties would have to reach a similar
agreement on a standard for “tool interoperability,” which is next on the
“This is only one step,” Pearson’s O’Connor says of
the Common Cartridge. But it is, he says, an important one.
Bob Jensen's threads on education technology and distance education are
Who are the 50 hottest professors according to RateMyProfessors.com?
It helps to teach huge classes!
The top seven have six red peppers
The hottest professor is a Canadian psychology professor.
Four of the top seven teach in Canadian universities.
There are a surprising number of mathematics professors near the top.
There's a scarcity of business professors near the top, although Business Policy
Laura Allan from Wilfrid Laurier University (in Canada) is hot at Rank
Accounting professors are ice cubes in these rankings of hot professors.
What topic dominates instructor evaluations on RateMyProfessors.com (or RATE for
Answer --- See
Bob Jensen's critical threads on teaching evaluation controversies are at
October 5, 2006 reply from Dee (Dawn) Davidson
But there’s also this list on Business Week. Our
Merle Hopkins is here.
Leventhal School of Accounting
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
October 5, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Dee's link mentioning the popularity of Professor Hopkins illustrates how
misleading the outcomes can be for RateMyProfessor.com. Even though
Professor Hopkins has huge classes, only 12 students bothered to send any
ratings into the RateMyProfessor.com ---
There are definitely small (Epsilon?) sample problems, outlier problems,
and a non-random/self-selecting sampling problems at RateMyProfessor.com.
Also there is a tendency for disgruntled students to be more self-selecting
than satisfied students. This is the case for Merle Hopkins.
October 5, 2006 reply from David Albrecht
The B-week list only lists faculty from their top
b-schools. There could be other top accounting faculty, they just aren't at
the few schools selected for the recognition.
And another important new feature of Camtasia 4 – you can create Camtasia VIDEOS
of your lectures in Ipod format. So the students can now study 24x7, wherever
Richard Campbell, October 3, 2006
Bob Jensen's threads on Camtasia are at
Women in MBA Programs
September 29, 2006 message from Priscilla Reis
While these questions have nothing to do with
technology, I'm sure someone on the list will have some insight. The gender
balance of our undergraduate accounting program tends to fluctuate between
40 and 50% female. However, our population of female MBA applicants, and
thus, students (combined accounting students and those concentrating in
other areas), has gone down to less than 20%.
Are other schools also suffering from a paucity of
female MBA applicants/students? Does anyone know of any recent studies on
gender balance in MBA programs? Has anyone developed effective methods for
attracting more female students?
Priscilla R. Reis, Ph.D., CMA
Department of Accounting
College of Business
Idaho State University
Box 8020 Pocatello, ID 83209
September 29, 2006 reply from Ellen Glazerman, Ernst & Young LLP
Research has been done by the University of
Michigan and C200. The percentage of women in MBA programs nationally is 30%
(or less). this year has seen a slight increase in these numbers at the most
competitive business schools in the US. GMAC has some of this most recent
data. There is a Foundation - Forte Foundation: Inspiring Woman Business
Leaders - that is a unique partnership between business schools and
companies. You should get some good information from their website:
fortefoundation.org. I hope it is helpful!
September 29, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
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 ---
Since most states require at least 150 credits to sit for the CPA
Examination, most of the men and women at the entry level have masters degrees.
It is possible to check on the male/female proportion for selected
Member schools have access to all sorts of data on graduate and
undergraduate business programs in the AACSB's huge databases ---
Also see the Management Education at Risk report
October 2, 2006 reply from Tracey Sutherland
It seems there's
some recent evidence that more women managers bring equity to women
in their companies (link below). On the other hand, our colleagues
in sociology have been tracking for some time effects related
to increased numbers of women in professions - one related to lower
salaries is illuminated
below in a fairly recent report from psychology. Related to Bob's
posting that women now make up about 60% of accountants, it's
interesting to consider the possible implications of the trend over
American Accounting Association
Journal of Applied Psychology (2003) -
Pay of Both Men and Women Managers is
Less When Managers’ Subordinates, Peers and Supervisors are Women,
regarding gender and pay indicate that:
becomes substantially lower as the percentage of females that
the manager supervises increases. For example, on average, a
male or female manager whose subordinate group is comprised of
80% female receives approximately $7,000 less in pay than a
manager whose subordinate group is 80% male.
remains relatively constant when the percentage of females that
the manager supervises is less than 50%. However, once females
become the majority in the workgroup, both male and female
managers pay decreases sharply as the percentage of female
subordinates in the workgroup increases. For example, a manager
who supervises a group comprised of all women receives
approximately $9,000 less than one who supervises a group
comprised of 50% women.
managerial pay decreases by approximately $500 for each 10%
increase in the percentage of his or her female peers.
On average, a
manager whose supervisor is female receives approximately $2,000
less pay than one whose supervisor is male.
Women breaking the
glass ceiling seems to help other women in the company -
October 3, 2006 reply from Linda Kidwell, University of Wyoming
Thanks for the story Tracey.
In reading the news story, there is some confusion
as to whether they are discussing snapshots or trends. What I'm getting at
is this: Is it that "as women move into management positions" in general, or
as women in traditionally male or female fields move into management? If you
read the piece through, it sounds like the real story is that women are
starting to break the glass ceiling in traditionally male fields. Thus more
of their subordinates are men, pay has traditionally been higher, thus pay
continues to be higher. Where there are many junior management women, they
are looking at traditionally female areas, and pay is lower, as it has
always been. They haven't attempted any time series analysis to see what
happened within any given industry as women entered management ranks. I
don't really see that they've made the case that women at high ranks bring
other women into better pay, or that women in lower ranks have a negative
trending effect on men who work for them. So I don't really anticipate the
influx of women into accounting depressing the pay of men in the profession.
They are moving into (taking over? :-) ) a traditionally male field, so
their pay should come up to par in accounting rather than bringing down the
pay of men in the field.
Perhaps I'm naive, but that's been my experience --
any pay differentials I've experienced have been when I taught at teaching
focused smaller colleges (more female domain) relative to research focused
universities (male domain), rather than a male/female differential within
either type of school. And before I changed careers, I was clearly in
traditionally female jobs, being paid peanuts. Working within the financial
administration at Harvard at the beginning of the unionization movement
among staff and lab workers, I still remember the organizers' slogan: "You
can't eat prestige!" Pay at Harvard for staffers, most of them women, was a
disgrace. But that's off point, I suppose, or is it?
October 4, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
An encouraging sign in terms of breaking the glass ceiling in accounting
firms has been Deloitte's "Women's Initiative" commenced 12 years ago.
Results to date are linked at
WIN 2005 Annual Report
Women’s Initiative teams delivered more than 235 programs in
2005 and were honored with seven national awards. Our number
of women partners, principals and directors rose along with
our women in leadership positions. Learn about these and
more achievements in the 2005 Annual Report.
One way the Women's Initiative connects with our people is
through the WIN blog on the Deloitte intranet site. The blog
covers personal perspectives on topics ranging from
work/life balance to gender bias to the power of networking.
Read some recent excerpts.
This week Deloitte's program for maintaining training programs and
re-entry initiatives for women who take out time to raise a family made the
national news in a very positive way.
It also helped that Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers were
recognized as two of the best (in the Top 10) companies in the U.S. for
working mothers, according to an annual survey by Working Mother magazine.
Progress in terms of working women and women planning career re-entry
after raising a family is probably greater in accountancy than in most
"E&Y, PwC Top Employers for Working Mothers," SmartPros,
September 27, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on women in accountancy and law professions are at
"Trading in Harrah's Contracts Surges Before LBO Disclosure: Options,
Derivatives Make Exceptionally Large Moves; 'Someone...Was Positioning'," by
Dennis K. Berman and Serena Ng, The Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2006;
Page C3 ---
Trading in Harrah's Entertainment Inc. options and
derivatives contracts reached a fevered pitch in the days leading up to news
of a potential leveraged buyout of the gambling giant, making it the latest
in a string of recent deals marked by unusual trading activity.
At one point last week, the volume of "call"
options, contracts to buy a specific number of shares by a fixed date at a
specified price, increased to almost six times the August average. At about
the same time, movements in the credit-default swap market suggested that
traders in the sophisticated financial instruments were anticipating a
Harrah's said Monday that it had received a $15.1
billion buyout offer from private-equity firms
Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group. The
$81-a-share offer caused Harrah's shares to jump 14% and its bonds to fall
11% as the company's credit ratings were cut to "junk" by Standard & Poor's.
Yesterday, the shares fell 1.3%, or 97 cents, to $74.71 as of 4 p.m. in New
York Stock Exchange composite trading. The Las Vegas company is reviewing
the buyout proposal and isn't certain a transaction will be sealed.
Last Thursday, two trading days before the offer
was announced, options traders exchanged 23,597 call contracts, nearly six
times the August volume, according to Options Clearing Corp.
"Clearly, someone out there was positioning for
some movement in Harrah's," said Stacey Briere Gilbert, Susquehanna
Financial Group's chief options strategist. "I don't know whether they were
positioning for an LBO, but for something."
Derivatives tied to Harrah's bonds also moved. The
price of a five-year credit-default swap that protects an investor against a
default in $10 million of Harrah's bonds climbed 24% last week to $114,000
annually, according to Markit Group.
The price of Harrah's swaps more than doubled to
$265,000 after Monday's announcement.
These derivatives, which trade over the counter and
are much more active than the bonds to which they are tied, are lightly
regulated and traded mostly by big banks and hedge funds. Some investors use
them to hedge against a debt default, while others use them to speculate on
whether a company's default risk is rising or falling.
As the options and derivatives markets experienced
abnormal swings, Harrah's publicly traded shares were relatively flat last
week. "The stock market is by far the slowest to respond," Ms. Briere
In a leveraged buyout, the company being acquired
often ends up taking on additional debt, increasing its risk of default and
causing the price of the swaps to rise. The firm's existing bonds also tend
to fall in value on such news, pushing their yields higher as investors
demand greater returns to compensate for the additional risk.
In a market awash in rumor, speculation, and
sometimes dumb luck, it can be hard to pinpoint who was trading and why such
trading began. Often, an options trade unrelated to a deal can set off
"piggyback" buying from traders hoping to catch a lucky break. Many such
rumors -- as with a recent round of talk about Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Worldwide Inc. -- create a trading stir that ends in a whimper. No deal ever
materialized for Starwood.
Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at
October 5, 2006 message from Carolyn Kotlas
NEW TAKE ON PEER REVIEW OF SCHOLARLY PAPERS
The Public Library of Science will launch its first
open peer-reviewed journal called PLoS ONE which will focus on papers in
science and medicine. Papers in PLoS ONE will not undergo rigorous peer
review before publication. Any manuscripts that is deemed to be a "valuable
contribution to the scientific literature" can be posted online, beginning
the process of community review. Authors are charged a fee for publication;
however, fees may be waived in some instances. For more information see
For an article on this venture, see: "Web Journals Threaten Peer-Review
System" By Alicia Chang, Yahoo! News, October 1, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on peer review are at
The Global Technology Revolution 2020 ---
Is Harvard's curriculum tantamount to no curriculum?
What does it take at a minimum to have an undergraduate education?
"As Goes Harvard. . . ," by Donald Kagan
Harvard University is Making Another Stab at Defining a Core Curriculum
"Direction and Choice," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 5,
On Wednesday, the university released a new plan
for undergraduate education that would designate certain subjects as ones
that must be studied. As a result, every Harvard undergraduate would have to
take a course on the United States and a course dealing with religion, among
others. Few top colleges and universities have such requirements. But
students would be able to pick within those broad topics, with the idea that
many courses would meet the requirements.
. . .
The report goes on to say that general education
“prepares students to be citizens of a democracy within a global society”
and also teaches students to “understand themselves as product of — and
participants in — traditions of art, ideas and values.” General education
should also encourage students to “adapt to change” and to have a sense of
ethics, the report says.
The general education proposed by the faculty panel
would have students take three one-semester courses in “critical skills” in
written and oral communication, foreign languages, and analytical reasoning.
Then students would have to take seven courses in
the following categories:
- Cultural traditions and cultural change.
- The ethical life.
- The United States and the world (one each in
the U.S. and the world).
- Reason and faith.
- Science and technology (one in a life science
and one in a physical science).
Within these categories, there would be a broad
range of courses that could fulfill the requirements. Each would have to
meet certain general education requirements, such as providing a broad scope
of knowledge and encouraging student-faculty contact. But the subject matter
within categories could vary significantly.
For instance, courses suggested as possibilities
for the cultural traditions requirement include “The Emergence of World
Literature,” “Art and Censorship,” and “Representations of the Other.”
Courses for study of the United States could include “Health Care in the
United States: A Comparative Perspective” and “Pluralist Societies: The
United States in Comparative Context.” The reason and faith requirement,
which would involve all students studying religion in some form, might have
courses such as “Religion and Closed Societies” and “Religion and
In explaining the rationale for a faith and reason
requirement, the Harvard professors noted that most college undergraduates
care about religion and discuss it, but “often struggle — sometimes for the
first time in their lives — to sort out the relationship between their own
beliefs and practices, the different beliefs and practices of fellow
students, and the profoundly secular and intellectual world of the academy
The report also noted the many tensions around
religion in modern society — including fights over school prayer, same-sex
marriage, and stem cell research. “Harvard is no longer an institution with
a religious mission, but religion is a fact that Harvard’s graduates will
confront in their lives both in and after college,” the report said,
explaining why a religion requirement is important. At the same time, it
added: “Let us be clear. Courses in reason and faith are not religious
apologetics. They are courses that examine the interplay between religion
and various aspects of national and/or international culture and society.”
In the ethics requirement, students will consider how to make ethical
choices, but in religion, students “will appreciate the role of religion in
contemporary, historical or future events — personal, cultural, national or
‘Activity Based Learning’
Beyond the various course requirements, the Harvard
panel called for the university to consider new ways to link students’
in-class and out-of-class experiences.
“The big thing for many Harvard undergrads tends to
be their extracurricular activities. It’s almost a cliché that they spend
more time out of the yard than in the yard,” said Menand. “We don’t want to
bureaucratize that, but we think there is a natural connection between the
classroom and what takes place out of the classroom.”
This part of the report is more vague and less
prescriptive, and in fact the panel calls for another panel to consider how
to carry out the idea of promoting “activity based learning.” Generally, the
report said, the pedagogical idea it wants Harvard to embrace is that “the
ability to apply abstract knowledge to concrete cases — and vice versa.”
Examples given to show the value of this kind of learning include the
statements that “studying the philosophy of the 17th century might inform
the production of a classic play by Molière” and “working on a political
campaign can bring to life material in a course on democracy.”
In a course, this link might be made through
optional papers that students could write on how an outside activity helped
the student understand course material or how course material influenced a
planned activity. If several students participate in the same out-of-class
activity, team work might be involved in and outside of class. And in either
case, the report said, closer faculty-student contact would be encouraged.
What It Means in Cambridge and Beyond
At Harvard, a series of meeting are now being
scheduled for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to review the report and —
eventually — to vote on it. Menand said that while the review would take
months at least, it need not wait for Harvard to have a new permanent
Schneider of the Association of American Colleges
and Universities said she thought the report might have a positive impact.
“I think that what this is doing is restoring the purpose of general
education requirements, which is to connect learning with real world
She said it made a lot of sense for Harvard to say
that students need to study the United States, and the world, and science,
and religion, etc., rather than using broad distribution requirements.
“Let’s think about what’s going on in American high schools. Students have
one year of American history or maybe two, but they may never study the
United States again,” she said. Harvard’s proposal would mean that they
would study the United States again, and at a deeper level than they could
in high school.
Continued in the article
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
An Agenda for Harnessing Globalization ---
"PC World's 100 Fearless Forecasts," by Richard Baguley and Eric Dahl,
PC World via The Washington Post, September 29, 2006 ---
From inexpensive 20-megapixel cameras to 50-terabyte
DVDs, here's our definitive list of technologies we're looking forward to
PC World, September 29, 2006 ---
"New Nikon Can Send Its Photos Via Wi-Fi So It's More Useful," by
Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2006; Page B1
For the past few weeks, I've been
Nikon's $350 Coolpix S7c, a camera with built-in
Wi-Fi wireless technology. The S7c captures photos, logs into your nearest
Wi-Fi network and sends the photos in an email that contains thumbnail
images and a link to Nikon's Coolpix Connect Web site. Recipients can
download the photos or view them in a slide-show format on the site.
I found that emailing images with the
Coolpix S7c was fast, simple and efficient. It took only a few minutes to
set up, and I was comfortable using the camera's other basic features after
taking just a few photos. Though the S7c's Wi-Fi receiver wasn't as strong
as the one in my laptop, it worked well.
Wi-Fi technology isn't as widely
available as cellphone networks are, but it's not unusual to find
bookstores, coffee shops and schools with Wi-Fi. To help you along, Nikon
includes a free year of T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi service with its camera. This
works in Starbucks, airports, Borders bookstores and many other places.
Other digital cameras with integrated
Wi-Fi have been introduced within the past year by
Eastman Kodak and Nikon. But Kodak's EasyShare-one
digital camera didn't link up to the network consistently, and Nikon's
Coolpix S6 -- astonishingly -- would send images only to the photographer's
The Coolpix S7c (the "c" stands for
connect) boasts an edgy gun-metal gray casing, a generous three-inch viewing
screen and a smart rotary dial that eases navigation and photo scrolling.
Its beauty is backed up with brains, including a maximum resolution of 7.1
megapixels -- more than enough for normal users -- and a 3x optical zoom
MojoPac Versus GoToMyPC
With MojoPac, you can go to any Windows XP computer in the world, plug in
your MojoPac device, and bring up your MojoPac PC. The experience is exactly as
if you are logging into your Personal Computer, complete with your desktop,
shortcuts, applications and preferences ---
If you are online, it is a bit easier to do this with GoToMyPC where you
personal computer is back in the office and you are any online computer in the
world (unlike MojoPac, nothing needs to be installed on the remote access
you are actually operating your office computer from a remote site. There
is a fee for GoToMyPC, but the fee is quite reasonable for the service rendered.
Full Disclosure to Consumers of Higher Education?
"Regulating the New Consumerism," by John V. Lombardi, Inside Higher Ed,
September 27, 2006 ---
One of the themes in the
much commented on report of the
Spellings Commission highlights the need to fully
inform higher education consumers about everything. For some, accountability
not only means being responsible about teaching and research, but also
delivering some form of full disclosure. This trend reflects the continued
move of higher education from a specialized product sold to well-informed
customers to a generic product sold in widely varying formats to large
numbers of often unsophisticated consumers.
As is usually the case with high profile
commissions, this one responds to a mature trend, not something new and
different. The proliferation of rankings and ratings of every conceivable
type is the clearer example of the commodity college degree, but the
commission, because it speaks for at least one part of the government, has a
coercive capacity where the ratings have only a demonstrative capacity.
What, then, is the full consumer information we
need? Much current university and college published data is actually not
very helpful. As a normal practice, we produce measures of central tendency
— averages or means — or we provide ratios of one kind or another. So we
talk about average class size or average student/faculty ratios; average
discount rate on tuition and fees; and the average financial aid package or
the average debt on graduation. Universities and colleges provide
information on the average endowment or average state investment per
All of these, and many others, provide an average
representation of the reality of campus life. If universities and colleges
managed, as do other high tech, high quality enterprises, by reducing the
variation around the mean to produce a homogeneous product, these average
numbers might have some usefulness. That’s not how higher education works.
Instead, colleges and especially large public
universities manage in ways that appear to maximize the variation they can
sustain in the quality and diversity of their students. They admit students
with SAT scores ranging from 900 to 1600 perhaps, students whose parents
have no taxable income and those whose income reaches above six or seven
figures. They admit students who are the fourth generation of college
attendees and the children of migrant workers whose home experience includes
no prior engagement with higher education. Universities pride themselves on
the wide diversity in the ethnicity and economic capability of their
students and they speak eloquently of the wide range of socioeconomic
circumstance from which their students come.
This is all to the good, but it illustrates why the
average numbers we often discuss as the tokens of accountability disguise
more often than they inform. Instead of average class size, we might display
the percentage of students in classes under 25, 26 to 50, 51 to 100, and
over 100. Even that is not as helpful, for example, as providing a
transcript analysis of the graduating class. The aggregate measures that
tell us how many classes are under 50 students tells us how the faculty
teach, but not what individual students take. Students in engineering may
have mostly classes smaller than 50 while students in humanities or social
sciences may have mostly classes larger than 100. We may find that 30
percent of our graduating students never took a class under 50 even though
such classes were available. Knowing what kinds of class contexts are
available is a helpful overall indicator, but it does not tell the
interested consumer what students actually choose to do or are advised to
We call for better information on the cost of
college. By this, we mean both the “costs” of what colleges spend on
providing an education and the “price” that students pay for that education.
The latter is a very slippery number. Everyone knows that there is a sticker
price and a discounted price. Everyone knows that students receive discounts
for various reasons.
What we do not provide very often are data that
describe the characteristics of students who receive discounts and reveal
the relationship between particular characteristics and the discounts the
institution provides. For example, we do not know the relationship between
the marker for merit (SAT, GPA) and the amount of merit aid provided (for
those institutions that provide merit aid). If we did, we might find that
not all students with a 1350 SAT will get the same merit aid package.
Almost all institutions provide a wide range of
need based aid, some from federal or state sources that are regulated and
some from institutional sources that are not. Institutions create need based
packages to achieve enrollment goals, and sometimes following a formula
based on the federal guidelines and sometimes using ad hoc packaging to
achieve balance in our student populations. This is especially so when
institutions are under clear directions from their boards to change the
composition of the student body in some way, for example to prefer legacies
or first generation students, or to increase the percentage of men or women.
Student debt is a mystery number because the data
on average debt deal with only a fraction of the student population. Average
debt refers to the average institutionally managed debt of those graduating
seniors who have debt. So it does not tell us about the debt of those
students who in addition to institutionally managed debt have private debt
from a local bank, from credit cards, or from other sources. It also does
not tell us about those students who do not qualify for any institutionally
managed loans but nonetheless borrow money from local banks, credit cards,
and other sources. Nor does it tell us how much of the debt students
contract is required by the formal cost of attendance and how much responds
to lifestyle issues related to housing, transportation, illness, family
obligations, and entertainment among other issues.
In the real world of higher education — rather than
the idealized world of commissions and homogenizing government regulations —
higher education institutions, while they produce a standardized product, do
so for widely varying market niches made up of customers with widely varying
Many of the proposed measures that we see coming
from commissions and regulators speak to some mythical average student
experience, usually reflecting the idealized type of the elite private
four-year college. As such they may satisfy some, but will surely fail to
provide more accurate information to individual consumers. How, we might
ask, am I to know whether my child is average and therefore likely to have
the average experience the data highlight? How many of the graduates
actually participated in the average experience, or did most of them pass
through the institution at the upper or lower edges of the experience
represented by the calculated average?
Continued in article
The Spelling Plans for carrying the recommendations of her Commission on the
Future of Higher Education
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plans a many
faceted campaign to carry out the recommendations of her
Commission on the Future of Higher Education,
including providing matching funds to colleges and states that collect and
publicly report how well their students learn, building a “privacy protected”
database of college students’ academic records, and streamlining the process of
applying for federal student aid.
Doug Lederman, "The Spellings Plan," Inside Higher Ed, September 26, 2006
It may not have seemed that way at times, but
Charles Miller, the chairman of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the
Future of Higher Education, apparently felt constrained in what he could say
during his time at the helm of the panel. In
a letter containing “personal observations” about
higher education, which he shared with Secretary Margaret Spellings when he
formally gave her the panel’s final report this month and shared in public at a
forum at the Cato Institute Wednesday, Miller makes many of the same points
about higher education’s problems that he did when he spoke up during the
commission’s deliberations. But he adopts tougher language in some cases,
referring repeatedly to the “dysfunctional” nature of higher education finances
and describing higher education as being “replete with opaque, complex
information systems which are not informative for governing boards, policymakers
and the public.” And while Miller continues to criticize private colleges for
their “special resistance to accountability,” a theme he hit repeatedly during
the commission’s life, he takes special aim at the nation’s elite research
universities, which largely escaped his wrath over the last year. Because their
“research expenditures are a major ‘cost driver’ in higher education,” he wrote
in his letter to the secretary, those institutions “need the same intense
examination and skeptical analysis other financial issues require, especially
since most of these are public funds.” He added: “I think there is ample
evidence that our great universities have much to account for—-and have great
intellectual and financial resources to contribute—-yet often come to the public
arena without taking full responsibility for their own imperfections while at
the same time demanding more of the scarce public resources.”
Inside Higher Ed, September 29, 2006
Spellings Announces Plan to Improve Higher Ed ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
They've Got to be Kidding!
Myths versus Realities of "America's Most Innovative College"
So do you know which U.S. college or university was cited
for “innovation in curriculum development and program delivery” in the
commission’s report? The winner is
University, in Salt Lake City. The final version of
the Spellings commission report, released September 19, states that “Salt Lake
City-based Neumont University is educating the most sought-after software
developers in the world” (p. 25). . . . But honestly, is Neumont really one of
the best, most innovative colleges in the country? Perhaps, at least against the
criteria outlined by Miller. But with due respect to Neumont’s students,
faculty, and founders, and also to Miller’s comments about the need for risk and
innovation, is this really the best example of a replicable curricular
innovation that might “trickle over” to other sectors, as opposed to being
cloned by other, aspiring for-profits eager to tap the demand for technology
degrees and training? Ample research confirms that individual and organizational
change occurs with some, but not too much, dissonance: individuals and
organization eager to change need to be able to visualize their capacity to do
so. But by highlighting Neumont, the commission has selected a model that is
just probably too dissonant and too distant for the vast majority of U.S.
colleges and universities.
Kenneth C. Green, "The Most Innovative College in America?" Inside Higher Ed,
October 9, 2006 ---
Congressional Crooks are Democrats and Republicans
"Politicians preying on the public," by Mychal Massie, WorldNetDaily,
October 3, 2006 ---
"Lender Overcharged U.S. $1 Billion, Audit Finds," by Doug Lederman,
Inside Higher Ed, October 2, 2006 ---
For many months, student loan watchdogs
have been charging that lenders have taken
advantage of a loophole in federal law to reap billions of dollars in
profits to which they were not entitled. Late Friday, the U.S. Education
Department’s inspector general strongly backed their view,
releasing an audit that accused the National
Education Loan Network (Nelnet) of having received $278 million in federal
subsidy payments for which it was not eligible and of inappropriately
charging the government for as much as $882 million more.
The inspector general’s office urged Education
Secretary Margaret Spellings to order Nelnet to return the improper payments
it has already received and to instruct the company to revise its estimates
for future payments to exclude funds for the contested loans. Meanwhile,
Nelnet, a Nebraska-based company,
disputed the audit’s findings but said they would work with the department
to resolve them.
At issue in the case is Nelnet’s use of an
exemption in federal law that allowed lenders that financed the student
loans they issued using tax-exempt bonds issued before 1993 to earn a
government subsidized interest rate of 9.5 percent. Congress engaged in
several aborted attempts to fully close the loophole throughout the 1990s
and the early part of this decade, but some lenders continued to find ways
to take advantage of it by recycling the pre-1993 loan funds, before
Congress, as part of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act,
finally closed it permanently this year.
In the audit, the inspector general describes a
process by which Nelnet seemed quite purposefully to try to expand its pool
of loans that would qualify for the 9.5 percent “special allowance” payments
from the federal government. “Through Project 950,” as the company’s effort
was called, “Nelnet used a series of transactions to increase the amount of
loans ostensibly funded by tax-exempt obligations from approximately $551
million” in March 2003 to $3.66 billion in June 2004, according to the
The company, the inspector general found, moved loans into and then — “as
little as one day later” — out of a non-taxable trust estate with the goal
of making those loans qualify for the 9.5 percent rate.
The audit recounts exchanges in 2003 and 2004 in
which Nelnet sought and believed it had gained Education Department approval
for its practices regarding the 9.5 percent loans. But the inspector general
says that Nelnet’s inquiries did “not appear to reflect a comprehensive
disclosure by Nelnet of the nature or effect” of its effort to increase its
volume of loans eligible for the higher rate.
A 1993 letter outlining the practice, the audit
says, “did not identify the eligible source of funds that would be used to
purchase and qualify loans for the 9.5 percent floor, did not state directly
that the process would be repeated many times, and did not state that the
process would result in a substantial increase in the amount of loans billed
under the 9.5 percent floor.”
The audit incorporates a response that Nelnet
officials submitted to an earlier draft of the audit this summer, which the
inspector general notes “strongly disagrees with our finding and
recommendations and requested that our draft report be withdrawn.”
In a prepared statement, Nelnet said company
officials believe the inspector general’s report is “incorrect” because it
is “inconsistent with the Higher Education Act, applicable laws, policy,
department regulations, and the guidance to student loan companies
previously issued by the Department.”
Nelnet will “seek a resolution of this matter with
the Department and will also examine all other available remedies that prove
the merits of our position,” said Mike Dunlap, the company’s chairman and
co-chief executive officer.
Critics of the lenders’ continued use of the 9.5
percent loophole heralded the inspector general’s audit. “The depth and
breadth of Nelnet’s failure to comply with the law is breathtaking, and the
cost to taxpayers is staggering,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the
senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Committee on Education and
the Workforce. “In an era of high budget deficits, we must be vigilant about
ensuring that available tax dollars are used to provide affordable college
loans to families, not to provide excessive subsidies to banks.”
Miller and others, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
(D-Mass.), who pushed the Education Department to look into the Nelnet
matter, and watchdog groups like the Project on Student Debt, urged
Spellings to back the inspector general. “The secretary of education should
make sure that Nelnet pays back every penny they’ve wrongly claimed and
should use the near $1.2 billion saved to help students and families pay for
college,” said Michael Dannenberg of the New America Foundation, who
has aggressively criticized the 9.5 percent rate
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
The National Centers for Career and Technical Education ---
Bob Jensen's threads on alternatives for online education and training ---
Abolishing the Core Computer Science
Curriculum in an Effort to Attract Majors
The Georgia Institute of Technology is today unveiling
what some experts believe is a much broader approach to the problem. The
institute has abolished the core curriculum for computer science undergraduates
— a series of courses in hardware and software design, electrical engineering
and mathematics. These courses, in various forms, have been the backbone of the
computer science curriculum not just at Georgia Tech but at most institutions.
Scott Jaschik, "New ‘Threads’ for Computer Science," Inside Higher Ed,
September 26, 2006 ---
The other, perhaps more costly alternative, is
to maintain a core of required courses that are no longer silos in terms of
specialized content ---
Students may take the easiest way out in customizable curricula
Zaba Search free database of names, addresses, birth dates, and phone numbers.
Social security numbers and background checks are also available for a fee ---
Click Here for Specialized Search Engines
(including shopping catalogs)
Homes to buy or rent
Airlines and hotels
Email addresses, phone numbers, postal addresses
References and answers
Popular Free Phone Numbers ---
Boxxet (searching within an
Government Questions Tax Exempt Status of Division I NCAA Athletics
The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways
and Means Committee has sent the National Collegiate Athletic Association a
asking the sports group to
justify the tax-exempt status of big-time collegiate sports. The letter, from
Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) to Myles Brand, the NCAA’s president, is framed as
part of the committee’s broader examination of the nonprofit sector, which, like
a parallel review in the Senate Finance Committee, has touched on the pay and
oversight of college presidents, among other things. Thomas’s letter asks 25
questions related to the association’s finances and educational mission, on such
topics as coaches’ compensation and the alleged lack of rigor of many athletes’
academic programs, and demands extensive information from NCAA officials. And
its underlying theme is summed up in such pointed statements as this one, posed
as as question: “How does playing major college football or men’s basketball in
a highly commercialized, profit-seeking, entertainment environment further the
educational purpose of your member institutions?” Thomas’s letter seeks a reply
by October 30.
Inside Higher Ed, October 5, 2006 ---
Also see "Ball’s in the NCAA’s Court," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed,
October 6, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education
(including "Rewarding Stupidity of Top Athletes") are at
What may be the largest criminal tax fraud prosecution in U.S. history?
"Prosecutors in KPMG Tax Shelter Case Offer to Try 2 Groups of Defendants
Separately," Lynnley Browning, The New York Times, October 5, 2006 ---
Last year, 16 former KPMG employees, as well as a
lawyer and an outside investment adviser, were indicted by a federal grand
jury in Manhattan on charges that they conspired to defraud the Internal
Revenue Service by creating and selling certain questionable tax shelters.
The proposal to split the group comes after Judge
Kaplan raised concerns about some prosecutorial tactics in the complex case.
KPMG narrowly averted criminal indictment last year over certain
questionable shelters and instead reached a $456 million
deferred-prosecution agreement. Judge Kaplan has criticized prosecutors for
pressuring KPMG to cut off the payment of legal fees to the defendants.
His concerns how appear to extend to the
indictments of the defendants.
According to a transcript of the hearing on
Tuesday, Judge Kaplan said: “The government indicted 18 people knowing that
the effect of doing that would be to put economic pressure on people, along
with whatever else puts pressure on people to cave and to plead, because
they can’t afford to defend themselves and because perhaps there are other
risks involved in a joint trial. That is the patent reality of this case.”
A representative for the United States attorney’s
office in Manhattan did not have a comment on the letter yesterday.
The letter, which was not filed under seal but did
not appear on the court’s docket, was confirmed by two persons close to the
Under the proposal, the junior defendants would
include Jeffrey Eischeid, the rising star who was in charge of KPMG’s
personal financial planning division; John Larson, a former KPMG employee
who set up an investment boutique that sold shelters; David Amir Makov, a
onetime Deutsche Bank employee who later worked with Mr. Larson’s investment
boutique, Presidio Advisory Services; and Gregg Ritchie, a former partner;
The senior defendants would include Jeffrey Stein,
a former vice chairman who was the No. 2. executive at the firm; John
Lanning, a former vice chairman in charge of tax services; Richard
Rosenthal, a former chief financial officer; Steven Gremminger, a former
associate in-house lawyer; Robert Pfaff, a former KPMG partner who worked
with Mr. Larson to set up Presidio Advisory Services; David Greenberg, a
former senior tax partner; and Raymond J. Ruble, a former lawyer at Sidley
Austin Brown & Wood; among others.
Lawyers for the defendants maintain that their
clients did nothing illegal, while prosecutors contend that they created and
sold tax shelters, some involving fake loans, that deprived the Treasury of
$2.5 billion in tax revenue.
Bob Jensen's threads on this and other KPMG litigations are at
SEC Accuses Ex-CFO of Lantronix CFO of Channel Stuffing
The Securities and Exchange Commission has accused the
former chief financial officer of Lantronix Inc. of engaging in a scheme to
overstate financial results for personal gain. On Wednesday, the Commission
noted in its cease-and-desist proceedings against the company that Steven
Cotton, the former CFO, allegedly inflated revenues for the second and third
quarters of fiscal year 2001, its fiscal year 2001, and the first quarter of
fiscal year 2002. He reportedly did this primarily through artificially boosting
sales by offering distributors special terms to induce them to purchase more
product than they needed, which is called channel stuffing, according to the SEC
complaint . . . The regulator claims that Lantronix deliberately sent excessive
product to distributors and granted them expanded return rights and extended
payment terms. In addition, as part of its alleged channel stuffing scheme and
to prevent imminent product returns, Lantronix loaned funds to a third party to
purchase Lantronix product from one of its distributors, noted the complaint.
The third party later returned the product, said the document.
Stephen Taub, "SEC Accuses Ex-CFO of Channel Stuffing The regulator alleges that
one-time Lantronix CFO overstated revenue while understating losses," CFO.com
September 28, 2006 --- http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/7987629?f=alerts
Bob Jensen's threads on channel stuffing (including Coca Cola) are at
Doral Financial Settles Financial Fraud Charges
The Securities and Exchange Commission on September 19,
2006 filed financial fraud charges against Doral Financial Corporation, alleging
that the NYSE-listed Puerto Rican bank holding company overstated income by 100
percent on a pre-tax, cumulative basis between 2000 and 2004. The Commission
further alleges that by overstating its income by $921 million over the period,
the company reported an apparent 28-quarter streak of “record earnings” that
facilitated the placement of over $1 billion of debt and equity. Since Doral
Financial’s accounting and disclosure problems began to surface in early 2005,
the market price of the company’s common stock plummeted from almost $50 to
under $10, reducing the company’s market value by over $4 billion. Without
admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, Doral Financial has consented
to the entry of a court order enjoining it from violating the antifraud,
reporting, books and records and internal control provisions of the federal
securities laws and ordering that it pay a $25 million civil penalty. The
settlement reflects the significant cooperation provided by Doral in the
"DORAL FINANCIAL SETTLES FINANCIAL FRAUD CHARGES WITH SEC AND AGREES TO PAY $25
MILLION PENALTY," AccountingEducation.com, September 28, 2006 ---
The independent auditor for Doral Financial is PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Click Here for Doral's 10-K
PwC's charges to Doral increased from $2.2 million in 2004 to $5.6 million in
Bob Jensen's threads on PwC are at
From Ernst & Young: Financial Management: The Primary Challenge
Financial management still has an image problem, but
those who regard it as the domain of the ‘bean counter’ are behind the times. In
the modern organization the CFO and finance function are called upon to fulfil
many varied roles, ranging from corporate governance and disclosure, to strategy
and business process engineering. Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s also
empowering and exciting.Leading academics from the world’s most respected
business schools have contributed to a series of articles on this subject in a
series, and we have our
on this too.
"Financial Management: The Primary Challenge,"
Ernst & Young, September
"Zune Won't Kill the IPod," Leander Kahney, Wired News, October
3, 2006 ---
Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Zune MP3 player is
a sure-fire iPod killer -- if you believe what you been reading in the press
There's nothing the press likes more than a good
fight, and the Zune looks like a worthy contender for the iPod's heavyweight
The tech press loves the Zune because of its specs.
They tally up the features and conclude the Zune is better because there's
more stuffed inside.
When it launches next month, the Zune will cost
$250 for 30 GB -- just like the equivalent iPod. But the Zune also has Wi-Fi
for wirelessly trading songs; a larger, 3-inch screen (good for widescreen
movies); and will connect to Microsoft's Zune Marketplace music service,
which will sell songs at 99 cents each and offer a $15 a month subscription
The Zune will definitely have an impact. That's
guaranteed by Microsoft's clout, and is why music labels, movie studios and
accessory makers are jumping on the Zune bandwagon.
But although the Zune looks good on paper, it's not
going to kill the iPod because of three things:
1. It's not cool and never will be.
2. The Zune will be locked down tighter than
the queen's knickers.
The iPod is streets ahead in the things that
really matter: ease of use, aesthetics and -- here's the tough one --
cool. The Zune is not cool. You can tell that at a glance. Take the
choice of colors. It'll come in black, white and brown.
Wait a sec -- brown? Surely this is some sick
joke gone horribly wrong. Or are they trying to rip off LG's Chocolate
The Zune's best bet is waiting it out until the
iPod becomes passé, which seems unlikely given that Apple is constantly
redesigning and refreshing the device.
3. Wi-Fi song sharing will not catch on in
The Zune's interesting features -- Wi-Fi
sharing and the music subscription plan -- will be subject to a strict
digital rights management scheme, and given Microsoft's reputation in
this area (PlaysForShit) -- I'll bet the Zune will drive
customers to the iPod.
After all, PlaysForSure is such a technical and
marketing disaster Microsoft is abandoning it altogether in favor of the
Zune, which will attempt to tightly integrate hardware, software and
services, just like the iPod.
But whereas Apple's FairPlay digital rights
management scheme seems to be working very well (surprisingly, there
aren't widespread reports of glitches and problems), Microsoft's
penchant for complex and glitchy verification systems bode ill for the
The Zune's only original feature is Wi-Fi song
sharing, which will allow Zune owners to search for others nearby and
temporarily trade songs over the air. Traded tunes will be playable up
to three times over three days, and can be flagged on the player for
later purchase online. Otherwise they disappear.
But while it's obvious that sharing songs will
be fun with friends at school or college, it's not an activity that will
take off in public. It'll largely be confined to peer groups.
"The New iPod: Ready for Battle?" by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine
Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2006, Page D1 ---
Next month marks the fifth anniversary of one of
the most successful products of the digital era, Apple Computer's iPod music
player. Since 2001, potential iPod-killers have come and gone like autumn
foliage. Apple claims an astonishing 76% market share in the U.S. for the
iPod and an equally amazing 88% share of the U.S. legal music download
market for its companion iTunes online store. Over 60 million iPods and 1.5
billion songs have been sold.
. . .
So, this holiday season Apple has made some of the
biggest changes to the iPod and iTunes in years. It has redesigned the iPod
Nano and Shuffle, cut prices and/or raised capacities on all models,
introduced a new iPod search feature, added color games and movie playback
to the full-sized iPod, and more. Plus, it has given the iTunes software its
biggest overhaul ever, making the software both simpler and more fun to use.
Oh, and it has started selling downloadable feature
films, which can be played on computers, iPods, and, soon, via a forthcoming
new device, on TV sets.
We've been testing the new iPods and iTunes for
several weeks, as well as the new movie download service. Our review of the
hardware and software follows here. See the accompanying article for our
take on the movie downloads.
Our verdict: the new iPods are more versatile and
less costly than ever, but the new iTunes software is an even bigger
improvement, although it has one big downside -- its coolest new feature is
so graphically demanding that it doesn't work right on some older computers.
For the main iPod, the biggest changes are in
capacity, price, battery life and software. The base version, which holds 30
gigabytes, is now $249, a $50 price cut presumably intended to put pressure
on Microsoft. The higher-end model, at $349, is also $50 less than last
year's version, even though it holds 80 gigabytes, up from 60 gigabytes last
year. Battery life for video playback has been greatly improved, to 3.5
hours on the base model, up from just two hours on last year's model. The
bigger model has 6.5 hours of video playback time, up from 4 hours. (Battery
life for music is unchanged.)
The iPod's screen is also now 60% brighter. But
what's now on the screen is even more interesting: There's now a search
feature that lets you find items alphabetically, by using the scroll wheel
to select letters. In our tests, it worked well. And, in addition to viewing
full-length movies on the full-sized iPod, you can now play classic color
games, such as Tetris, Pac-Man, Bejeweled, Poker and Mahjong. Apple sells
these games via iTunes for $4.99 each.
In our tests, playing even very familiar games with
a scroll wheel instead of a mouse or joystick took some adjustment. But,
eventually, we got the hang of it, and the color and detail of the games on
the iPod's screen was impressive.
The iPod Nano also has the new search feature, but
it can't play the movies or games. It has been given a new aluminum skin,
like the old iPod Mini had. This has two advantages: It resists the
scratches that affected the first Nano models last year, and it allows for a
range of bright colors. It's even a teeny bit thinner and lighter than the
amazingly small original Nano. We liked the new Nano and found it worked
The Nano still comes in three versions, but the
capacities for each have been doubled while the prices remain the same. The
base $149 Nano now holds 2 gigabytes and comes in silver only. The middle
$199 Nano now holds 4 gigabytes and comes in four colors, including a hot
pink. And the $249 top-of-the-line Nano now holds 8 gigabytes and is black
Even greater changes have been made in Apple's
iTunes software, the biggest overhaul since it came out in 2001. ITunes is
one of the world's most popular software programs, much more popular than
the iPod itself. That's because many people use iTunes, which is free, to
manage and download music on their Windows and Macintosh computers, even if
they don't own iPods.
But iTunes had been growing long in the tooth. It
didn't do as good a job with video as with music, and was visually boring.
So the new iTunes 7, which is still nearly identical on Windows and
Macintosh, has lots of new stuff.
The coolest new feature is called Cover Flow, an
optional way of viewing your music library. In Cover Flow, the top half of
your screen is filled with an array of all your album covers, and as you
scroll through your songs with the mouse or keyboard -- or, as songs play --
the album cover for each appears in the center of the array. Sometimes, if
you're skipping around in a large library, the covers flip by at high speed,
finally settling on the one you're playing.
In a way, it's just a parlor trick, and it sounds
like it's no big deal. But we loved it, because it reminded us of flipping
through a box of old vinyl albums or watching an old jukebox in a diner. It
actually helped remind us of albums we'd forgotten about.
If you don't have the album covers for all your
songs, iTunes 7 will fetch them online free, so Cover Flow can work. Cover
Flow also works with video clips, displaying either the official art
supplied by iTunes, for purchased videos, or just a still from the video for
Unfortunately, Cover Flow puts such heavy demand on
computer graphics systems that it doesn't work properly or at all on some
machines, especially older or more limited Windows computers. While it
worked fine on our Macs and on our Dell and Hewlett-Packard Windows
desktops, it failed on Katie's Toshiba laptop and in a virtual Windows
machine running under the Parallels software on a MacBook Pro laptop.
Apple has released a revision of iTunes 7 to
address Cover Flow issues and some other problems, but the revision didn't
do the trick on our problem machines.
Beyond Cover Flow, iTunes 7 sports numerous other
new features. It can now detect when albums were meant to be played without
gaps between songs, as on many classical albums and a few rock albums, such
as the Beatles' Abbey Road. In fact, it will go through your library, find
all such albums, and eliminate the gaps. This "gapless playback" feature
also extends to the new iPods.
This latest iTunes also sports separate libraries
for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks and games. And, when you
attach an iPod, it offers a much cleaner and more comprehensive tabbed
interface for managing the synchronization of music, videos, photos, and
And, finally, you can use your iPod to move content
from one computer to another, although this feature only works with content
you purchased from Apple.
It's impossible to know if Apple can sustain its
remarkably high market shares in the face of new competition, but it is
going into the battle with better products at better prices.
How much have workers shared in recent economic growth?
"Coming of Wage," by Allan Hubbard and Edward. P. Lazear, The Wall Street
Journal, October 2, 2006; Page A10 ---
The U.S. economy has faced challenges from
recession to corporate scandals to terrorist attack to natural disasters.
And through it all, the economy has proven to be resilient and responsive.
In the past three years our economy has grown 3.7% per year, faster than any
other major industrialized economy, and added more than 5.7 million payroll
jobs, more than all the jobs added in the European Union and Japan combined.
Yet questions understandably arise about whether
this economic expansion is paying off for U.S. workers. American workers are
among the hardest working and most productive in the world. They deserve to
receive their share of the gains in this economic expansion, as they have in
A pattern that prevails as the economy moves from
recession to recovery, and then into a sustained expansion, is that
productivity grows first. The higher productivity growth means higher
profits for businesses, which induce them to expand output and then
employment. Later, as fewer workers are available for hire, wages grow,
profit rates fall, and workers' share of the gains rises. This is what we
observed during the last expansion. After the recession in the early 1990s,
wage growth was flat. It did not pick up until the last few years of the
We are seeing the same pattern in this economic
expansion. Productivity growth has been exceptionally strong in the past
five years, well above the historical average. And now employee compensation
per hour has also picked up. Over the first half of this year, compensation
growth has averaged a remarkable 6.3%, at an annual rate adjusted for
inflation. This growth is much faster than in previous years.
As has been the case for many years, higher
health-care costs mean much of the growth in compensation goes to benefits.
Although benefits are important, workers also naturally care about whether
their paychecks are going up.
Recently, nominal wages of production workers have
also grown considerably. At an annualized rate, nominal wage growth has been
about 4% so far this year, faster than at this point in the last economic
expansion. Nominal wages are now growing faster than the past couple of
years and are growing at about the same rate as they were in the late 1990s.
The difference between this economic expansion and
the last expansion is that higher-than-expected energy prices have consumed
much of this strong nominal wage growth. Inflation-adjusted wage growth
without the increase in energy prices is similar to past economic
expansions. The issue here is energy prices, not wage growth. Workers'
paychecks are going up, but they have had to use much of that increase for
energy purchases like gasoline.
The recent news on energy prices is good for
workers. Nationwide gasoline prices have fallen by about 65 cents per gallon
since early August and market data suggest that inflation will fall below
the levels of the past few months. This decline, coupled with the nominal
growth rates that we see in both compensation and wages, means that workers
should enjoy more real earnings in the months ahead.
The Bush administration is pursuing a variety of
short and long-term measures to address high energy prices. Last year, the
president and Congress enacted the first major energy bill in over a decade.
It is a significant first step toward a long-term vision of achieving
greater energy security through diversification of energy sources, improved
efficiency and increased domestic production. In addition to implementing
the new law, the administration is pursuing new ideas for alternative
technologies and clean domestic production. For example, the administration
and Congress are working to increase research in alternative fuels, and to
safely increase domestic oil and natural gas production in the Outer
Continental Shelf and Alaska. These and other pro-growth policies will
benefit both the overall economy and workers.
Most importantly, American entrepreneurs and
companies are investing billions of dollars in creative ideas for new fuels,
power resources and better efficiency. Our flexible economy that rewards
risk-taking and boosts productivity will also help us produce reliable and
With some politicians and commentators criticizing
tax relief, free trade, immigration and labor policies, it is important to
recognize the truth about wages and the distinctions between this economic
expansion and past expansions. Increasing the tax and regulatory burden on
our economy will not increase wages or make the current expansion more
rewarding for workers. Without the tax relief, workers would be taking home
a smaller portion of their paychecks. Higher taxes and a higher regulatory
burden would just slow the strong productivity growth that we need to remain
competitive in the global economy and increase standards of living.
Mr. Hubbard is director of the National Economic Council. Mr. Lazear
is chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.
From Jim Mahar's blog on October 3, 2006 ---
Will stocks go Boom?
Canada's National Post gives us all something to
worry about it its series on the impact of an aging labor force. In the
second part of the series, the paper examines whether as baby boomers
retire if they will drive down stock prices.
Will stocks go Boom?
"In the United States, for example, the ratio
of workers to retirees is expected to fall to just 2.6 in 30 years,
from 4.9 today. In Japan, the ratio of retirees to active workers is
expected to fall even further, to one to one by about 2050.
What about the impact on finance? Not only will
the changing workforce impact pension funds, social security, and health
care costs, but it will likely drive down the stock market as the
boomers end saving and begin to draw down their portfolios.
In other words, the number of potential stock buyers will soon begin
a steep decline....No less an authority than Jeremy Siegel, the
famous Wharton finance professor and author of Stocks For The Long
Run, has sounded the alarm, calling the ageing population the most
critical issue facing the developed world."
Now before you panic, the coming tidal wave of retirees in the developed
world may be offset by other factors (notably foreign investment as more
lesser developed countries develop and formerly impoverished people
become investors) but it is something to consider and "gameplan".
Most likely outcome? As baby boomers age they will shift money out of
stocks and this will be a factor that keeps returns lower than their
historical averages. Which means we should all lower our projected
returns. This unfortunately means we will have to save more for a
comfortable retirement be it personally, in corporate pension funds, or
in government sponsored "social security" accounts.
And if this analysis is wrong and the market continues to earn higher
than historical norms? We will have set aside more than needed and you
will have more money in your portfolio than expected, which is not the
worst thing in the world!
Some past articles on this topic:
Will bomers drive down markets?
Porterba on impact of Boomers
USATODAY.com - Easy credit can
mean long-term hardship for college students
I am torn on this one. On one hand it is
inarguable that many people (including no doubt a higher percentage of
college students) do get into financial difficulty stemming from
excessive use of credit cards. However, the ban on marketing of the
credit cards on campus does seem a tad much. Credit cards do have their
upsides as well: they help build credit and lower transaction costs.
On the other hand, many 18 year olds are not ready for credit cards and
do succumb to overspending.
Easy credit can mean long-term hardship for college students:
"College students tend to have less financial
experience than older adults, making them more susceptible to these
pitches....Nearly a dozen states, including New York and California,
have made it harder for card companies to market on public campuses.
And a growing number of colleges, on their own, have begun to impose
restrictions."Of course the credit card companies do not want to
lose this market.
So what to do? If you are a college student who is mature enough to use
(and not misuse) a credit card, I would recommend highly getting one to
build credit and for ease of use. However, get one with no fee and pay
off the bill completely every month. If you find this progressively more
difficult to do, stop using it until it is paid off.
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
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October 9, 2006
"Do Dieting Monkeys Live Healthier and Longer Lives?" by Katherine
Bourzac, MIT's Technology Review, October 3, 2006 ---
An ongoing study at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison in which rhesus monkeys are being fed an
extremely calorie-restricted diet gives preliminary evidence that the regime
prevents age-related diseases. For decades, scientists have known that a
diet of about 30-percent fewer calories than normal extends the lifespan of
mice by 10 to 20 percent, reduces their incidence of cancer, and prevents
the deterioration of learning and memory in the rodents. And similar effects
have been shown in lower organisms from yeast to fruit flies. But such life
extension has not been proven yet in primates.
Researchers at the
Primate Research Center have been studying a group
of 76 rhesus monkeys, half of them on calorie restriction and half on a
normal diet, for 18 years, to determine whether or not the restricted diet
has the same health benefits in primates as it does in other animals. The
study will likely go on for at least another decade, since the monkeys are
only now entering old age. Captive rhesus monkeys usually live to around 25
years old, which is now about the average age of the monkeys in the study.
An age of 40 for a rhesus monkey is similar to 120 for a human--the apparent
Although there is now
strong evidence that caloric restriction prevents diabetes in the primates
(the disease is a major killer of captive rhesus monkeys), it's still too
early to assess the diet's effects on their lifespan, according to
professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, who is heading up the
But preliminary evidence
suggests that the diet is preventing loss of muscle mass, arthritis,
menstrual irregularities, and other signs of aging. "Over the next 10 years,
survival differences will come out," predicts Ricki Colman, a scientist on
the study. Meanwhile, eight of the monkeys on a normal diet have died of
age-related causes such as cancer and diabetes; five on the restricted diet
have died of these causes.
As the monkeys enter old
age, the researchers are beginning gene expression profiling on them--the
first step toward finding the molecular mechanisms that connect the extreme
diet to its effects in the animals. The monkeys will also undergo MRIs and
be tested for mental acuity, to assess whether or not the diet prevents
age-related deterioration of learning and memory.
Even if a diet of
30-percent fewer calories proved to extend healthy human lifespan, however,
it's unlikely that most people could be able to stick with it. (A group of
individuals following such a diet, called the
Restriction Society, seem to have some
health benefits. See "Human
Study Shows Benefits of Caloric Restriction".)
caloric restriction in animals, including Colman, say that, in general, such
a diet is "not a long-term possibility in humans." Rather, the primary goal
of their study, Colman and Weindruch agree, is to learn about aging and to
understand how caloric restriction changes metabolism and gene expression.
In Europe It’s Fish Oil After Heart Attacks, but Not in U.S.
In a large number of studies, prescription fish oil has
been shown to improve survival after heart attacks and to reduce fatal heart
rhythms. The American College of Cardiology recently strengthened its position
on the medical benefit of fish oil, although some critics say that studies have
not defined the magnitude of the effect. But in the United States, heart attack
victims are not generally given omega-3 fatty acids, even as they are routinely
offered more expensive and invasive treatments, like pills to lower cholesterol
or implantable defibrillators. Prescription fish oil, sold under the brand name
Omacor, is not even approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in
Elizabeth Rosenthall, "In Europe It’s Fish Oil After Heart Attacks, but Not in
U.S.," The New York Times, October 2, 2006 ---
Autism undergoes biggest-ever US study
The largest US study ever of the causes of autism, the
poorly understood developmental disability that affects more than one million
Americans, is under way. The five-year, 5.9 million-dollar study will involve
2,700 children and five separate research institutes aiming to identify causes
of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in young children, the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention announced on October 6.
"Autism undergoes biggest-ever US study," PhysOrg, October 9, 2006 ---
Is metabolic syndrome a real disease or a figment of the drug industries greedy
"The Thin Pill 75 million Americans may have something called metabolic
syndrome. How Big Pharma turned obesity into a disease – then invented the drugs
to cure it," by Thomas Goetz, Wired Magazine, October 2006 ---
But some wonder if metabolic syndrome really
identifies anything new. Skeptics, which include the American Diabetes
Association, suggest that researchers, physicians, and pharmaceutical
companies have been so hasty to embrace the disease (each for their own
reasons), they've overlooked evidence that the science behind the diagnosis
is flimsy and conjectural. These critics say that so-called metabolic
syndrome lumps together risks we already recognize and monitor – or worse,
that it's just a fancy way to describe obesity. By accepting it, we
medicalize a lifestyle condition that we already know how to treat: with
diet and exercise.
The debate is hardly academic. The pharmaceutical
industry has spent millions of dollars developing dozens of drugs aimed at
obesity generally and metabolic syndrome in particular. Many of those drugs
are now or will soon be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for
approval. At the same time, the industry is lobbying the FDA to recognize
the syndrome as a disease and to reconsider its approach to obesity drugs, a
shift that would accelerate demand for new drugs.
Continued in article
"U.S. Health-Care System Gets a 'D'," Business Week, September
21, 2006 ---
The U.S. health-care system is doing poorly by
virtually every measure. That's the conclusion of a national report card on
the U.S. health-care system, released Sept. 20. Although there are pockets
of excellence, the report, commissioned by the non-profit and non-partisan
Commonwealth Fund, gave the U.S. system low grades on outcomes, quality of
care, access to care, and efficiency, compared to other industrialized
nations or generally accepted standards of care. Bottom line: U.S. health
care barely passes with an overall grade of 66 out of 100.
The survey was carried out by 18 academic and
private-sector health-care leaders, who rate the system on 37 different
measures. The poor grade is particularly discomfiting, the researchers note,
because the U.S. spends more on medicine, by far, than any other country.
Approximately 16% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) is devoted to
health care, compared with 10% or less in other industrialized nations.
Health care is also responsible for most new job
creation, according to BusinessWeek's Sept. 25 cover story (see
BusinessWeek.com, 9/25/06, "What's Really Propping Up The Economy"). Yet the
U.S. ranks 15th out of 19 countries in terms of the number of deaths that
could have been prevented. The study estimates that each year 115 out of
100,000 U.S. deaths could have been avoided with timely and appropriate
medical attention. Only Ireland, Britain, and Portugal scored worse in this
category, while France scored the best, with 75 preventable deaths per
BELOW POTENTIAL. The U.S. ranks at the bottom among
industrialized countries for life expectancy both at birth and at age 60. It
is also last on infant mortality, with 7 deaths per 1,000 live births,
compared with 2.7 in the top three countries. There are dramatic gaps within
the U.S. as well, according to the study. The average disability rate for
all Americans is 25% worse than the rate for the best five states alone, as
is the rate of children missing 11 or more days of school.
The report found that quality of care and access to
care varied widely across the country, and it noted substantial gaps between
national averages and pockets of excellence. The authors concluded that, if
the U.S. improved and standardized health-care performance and access,
approximately 100,000 to 150,000 lives could be saved annually, along with
$50 billion to $100 billion a year.
Continued in article
"Taming Peanut Allergy Takes Researchers Down Uncertain Road," by Jane
Zhang, The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2006; Page B1 ---
In a world of wheat-free cookies and dairy-free ice
cream, the peanut industry is helping fund the quest for a "nut-free"
Peanuts aren't nuts at all, of course, but legumes,
or seeds, as are beans and lentils. An estimated 1.5 million Americans,
including some 600,000 children, experience allergic reactions to peanuts,
ranging from hives to nausea to sometimes-fatal anaphylactic shock. With
most of the annual 150 food-allergy deaths blamed on peanuts, many schools
have created peanut-free zones or gone totally "peanut free."
The number of children with peanut allergies has
skyrocketed, doubling from 1997 to 2002, according to a study in the Journal
of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And it's a mystery why peanut allergies
are causing more problems. One explanation is that physicians are more adept
at detecting them. Another is that the modern environment may be, in a
sense, too clean: If the human immune system were exposed to more allergens,
a peanut might not send it into overdrive.
An approved asthma drug, Xolair, may be useful in
treating peanut and other food allergies; injected into patients, it would
reduce certain antibodies that are thought to cause anaphylactic food
allergy. Last year, though, clinical trials came to a halt after two
children, who had been given peanut protein in a screening to gauge the
severity of their allergy, experienced anaphylactic reactions. The drug's
makers -- Genentech, Novartis and Tanox -- are working with the Food and
Drug Administration to design a new trial, Genentech says.
Determined scientists, in some cases with
peanut-industry funding, are trying to develop other therapies, or a
vaccine, to prevent or reduce the severity of peanut reactions. A nut-free
peanut would be genetically altered so that it is less likely to set off an
immune response. Peanut farmers and food processors have given $5.6 million
over the past decade to eight scientists, mainly for peanut-allergy work,
says Howard Valentine, of the American Peanut Council.
Two researchers -- Wesley Burks, chief of pediatric
allergy and immunology at Duke University Medical Center, and Hugh Sampson,
his counterpart at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine -- are trying
to create a vaccine. They have slightly modified the three peanut proteins
responsible for most reactions so they don't trigger such strong reactions
from human mast cells. By administering the modified proteins to subjects in
slowly increasing doses, they hope to condition their immune systems to
tolerate more. They have tested the therapy on mice and plan to start on
humans in a year or so.
Another experimental therapy aims to reduce the
severity of reactions. Dr. Burks's team administers powdered or liquid
peanut proteins to patients in incrementally increasing doses, starting with
0.001 peanut the first day, to one whole peanut six months later. They hope
one day to develop a drug or a physician-administered therapy. In a trial
completed on eight patients, Dr. Burks says the subjects tolerated 13
peanuts before experiencing a reaction -- enough, in theory, to save an
allergic child's life in case of accidental ingestion.
Peanut interests have helped to fund the work of
Peggy Ozias-Akins, a horticulture professor at the University of Georgia,
Tifton. She wants to develop a plant whose peanuts are free of the three
major protein allergens.
Screening the genetic structure of peanuts
harvested on an experimental farm, Dr. Ozias-Akins is searching for ones
with a defunct Ara h 2 gene, which is responsible for a protein that causes
reactions in about 90% of patients with peanut allergy. When she finds
plants with the defunct gene, she'll use them in a traditional breeding
program to produce less-allergenic plants. She expects it will take at least
three years to breed the plants and test them in animals.
Dr. Ozias-Akins's team also is trying to disable
the Ara h 2 gene by modifying the peanut plant's genetic structure. She
shoots cloned copies of the gene into a peanut, which can create a disabled
gene that suppresses the function of the original one. Her team is growing
plants with a disabled Ara h 2 gene in the greenhouse and testing whether
the peanuts contain the allergy-causing protein.
Success is a long way off. Without the protein,
other genes may compensate for its loss, making the new plants more, not
less, allergenic than regular peanuts. As a result, any new genetically
modified food product would have to go through animal testing and human
And even if Dr. Ozias-Akins gets there, it isn't
clear that the world will embrace the results of her work. Says Duke's Dr.
Burks, "If you take out all those proteins that cause allergic reactions to
the peanut, then you no longer have a peanut."
Consumers may reject a genetically modified
nut-free peanut. Dr. Ozias-Akins is aware of the skeptics but hopes the
benefits will outweigh concerns. "Nothing -- or very little -- we eat today
is natural or hasn't been exposed to artificial selection," she says.
"It's the best solution on the horizon right now,"
says Don Koehler, executive director of Georgia Peanut Commission. "We may
never have an allergen-free peanut, but you've got to try. You've got to
dream a little."
National Alliance for Hispanic Health ---
Online Radiology Teaching Files and Medical Image Atlas and Database ---
"Cranky? You may be smarter than you think," PhysOrg, September
27, 2006 ---
People who are readily
disagreeable in their youth may end up being smarter than their
laid-back contemporaries in their golden years, a new U.S. study says.
The study by psychology
professor Jacqueline Bichsel of Morgan State University in Baltimore
found that cranky people maintain a higher level of intelligence from
about age 60 and up than more easy-going seniors.
"These individuals have a higher vocabulary," she told The Baltimore
Sun. "They have a better use of words, a better knowledge of facts."
Her study, conducted with Thomas Baker of York University in Toronto,
found grumpy old men and feisty old women are often smarter in some ways
than young people.
It concludes that an ability to be open to new situations may predict
intelligence earlier in life, but disagreeableness may predict
intelligence later in life.
Elephants Becoming Mad Rapists and Killers
Still, it is not only the increasing number of these
incidents that is causing alarm but also the singular perversity — for want of a
less anthropocentric term — of recent elephant aggression. Since the early
1990’s, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing
rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal
Pachyderm, has been reported in ‘‘a number of reserves’’ in the region. In July
of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants who were
responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as attacks on people in
safari vehicles. In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, up to 90
percent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants,
compared with a rate of 6 percent in more stable elephant communities.
Charles Siebert, "An Elephant Crackup?" The New York Times, October 8,
Much of the bad behavior in young male elephants is attributed to the loss of
role models and controlling adults.
From the Scout Report on September 29, 2006
Avvenu 2.2.1 ---
If you find yourself away from your computer and
you need a file, or perhaps an image, what might you do? You could rush
home, or perchance, you might have already installed Avvenu. Avvenu allows
users to access their home or office computers remotely, and as a result,
might very well save them cab fare or perhaps a lengthy trip back home via
subway, bike, or ferry. This version also gives users the option of allowing
other trusted persons access to their files. Interested parties will be
heartened to find out that this application may be operated on all computers
running Windows XP.
There is nothing wrong with bringing together
complex (or not-so-complex) projects together over the internet, and
OpenPlanning can help users make it happen seamlessly. With this latest
version, users can use their community project planning environment to bring
together other professionals who may work from great distances.
Additionally, there is a repository of previously created projects that may
provide new users with some ideas about what has been done with the
application so far. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS
X 10.3 and newer.
Experts continue to explore the nature and origins of hysteria Is
Hysteria Real? Brain Images Say Yes [Free registration required]
Sigmund Freud: Conflict & Culture
Emotions and Disease: Psychosomatic Medicine
Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive
Hysteria by T.S. Eliot
Nerves and Narratives: A Cultural History of Hysteria in 19th-Century
The history of the condition formerly known as hysteria (now formally
known as “conversion disorder”) dates back several millennia. Hippocrates
once suggested that the most appropriate treatment for the condition was
marriage, and for hundreds of years, the condition was erroneously
considered to primarily affect women. While interest in this relatively
unexamined condition waned in recent decades, a number of researchers and
scientists have once again begun to embark on more complex projects to
search for the origins of this condition. Despite the fact that functional
neuroimaging devices such as PET scans can record changes in brain activity,
there remains dissent within the scientific community about how the
condition should be classified, and what criteria should be used to evaluate
various aspects of the condition. For many, one of the most important
discoveries about the nature of hysteria was posited by Sigmund Freud, who
in working with that very famous patient, Anna O., was able to observe that
the body might be acting out the internal dramas of the mind. While work
continues in the field, many scientists remain optimistic about the search
for greater understanding about the condition, and many would agree with Dr.
Peter Halligan, a professor of neuropsychology, who recently commented,
“We’re only at the beginning”. [KMG]
The first link will take users to a fine article from this Tuesday’s New
York Times that provides both some background about the nature of hysteria,
and the current research that is being done on the condition. Moving along,
the second link will take visitors to an insightful online exhibit about
Freud’s work with Anna O. that includes both selections from his journals
and images of historical documents, such as his classic, “Studies in
Hysteria” from 1895. The third link leads to an online exhibit created by
staff members at the National Library of Medicine that explores the early
attempts by the French clinician Jean-Martin Charcot to learn more about the
origins of hysteria through observation and research with patients. The
forth link will whisk users away to a fantastic site that provides visitors
with dozens of primary documents (including maps, first-hand accounts and
monographs) that tell the story of the Salem Witch Trials, which at the
time, were supposed to have been partially caused by “hysteria”. The fifth
link leads interested literary types to the full text of T.S. Eliot’s poem,
“Hysteria”. Finally, the last link will take users to the complete text of a
recent monograph that explores the representation of hysteria in 19th
century British prose. Authored by P. Melville Logan, the work contains
chapters titled “Narrative and Self-Violence” and “The Body in Need of
Alleged High Tech Cheating in Championship Chess Tournaments
"Chess Mess," by Gary Kasparov, The Wall Street Journal,
October 2, 2006; Page A10 ---
It usually takes a scandal to get the world's
pre-eminent mind sport into the news these days. The latest example comes
from the current world chess championship in Elista, Russia. The match
between Russia's Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria was
intended to unify the chess championship that has been divided since my
challenger and I broke away from the international chess federation (FIDE)
in 1993 in an attempt to professionalize the sport.
The first four games of Kramnik-Topalov -- the
match was scheduled for 12 games -- received scant attention in the world
press. That changed when the Bulgarians published a complaint about Mr.
Kramnik's frequent trips to the restroom during the games, calling his
behavior "suspicious" and threatening to abandon the match. The appeals
committee governing the match agreed, and ruled to close the players'
private restrooms, which would be replaced by a shared one. (How it pains me
to see such distasteful events driving the coverage of a world
championship.) Mr. Kramnik protested the decision by sitting out the fifth
game and was forfeited. Currently the match sits suspended.
The clear implication of the original protest was
that Mr. Kramnik might be cheating during his restroom visits. In recent
years the chess world has been rife with such suspicions thanks to the rise
of powerful microcomputers and transmitting technologies. Several amateur
chessplayers have even been caught using such devices to cheat in
tournaments. I should add that Mr. Kramnik was leading 3-1 at the time of
Mr. Topalov's protest, although it was mostly thanks to very shaky play by
his opponent, not a display of suspiciously superhuman skill.
Adding irony to the tragedy is the fact that for
the past year and a half Mr. Topalov himself has been the subject of rumors
and even public accusations that he has cheated with computer assistance.
Hard evidence is lacking, with some pointing to odd behavior by his
assistants and other critics saying there is simply no other explanation for
Mr. Topalov's sudden ascent to the top of the rating list after my
Chess has a long history of scandal and controversy
at the highest level. The last world championship game to be decided by
forfeit was Bobby Fischer's loss to Boris Spassky in their legendary match
in Reykjavik in 1972. Mr. Fischer was well known for such protests and lived
up to his reputation by complaining about the conditions in the playing hall
after game one, and then not appearing to play the second game. Mr. Spassky,
a gentleman -- too much so, perhaps -- agreed to Mr. Fischer's demands, even
playing the next game in a small back room usually reserved for table
tennis. (Notably, Mr. Fischer accepted the forfeit almost meekly.) Mr.
Spassky's 2-0 lead didn't help him in the end. Mr. Fischer won the match
convincingly and, while he was clearly the superior player, I am one of many
who believe that by making concessions off the board Mr. Spassky was
psychologically unable to play his best at the board.
Until last Friday, that was the last forfeit in
world championship history. It's still not clear if this will be the first
match cancellation since 1985. After five months of grueling play, my first
world championship contest with Anatoly Karpov was abruptly cancelled by the
FIDE president. Instead of having a set number of games, our match was to go
to the first player to reach six victories, a goal that had proved
unreachable despite Mr. Karpov's jumping out to a 5-0 lead. After I won
games 47 and 48 to move to the score to 3-5, the match was abruptly
cancelled. The Soviet sports authorities who had such influence in FIDE
didn't want to take the chance I would win another game. Their loyal
favorite, Mr. Karpov, hadn't won a game in months, and I -- the outspoken
youngster from Baku -- was getting too close for comfort.
Mr. Fischer may have been difficult and unstable,
but he was a sportsman whose complaints were based on principle and a
sincere desire to improve the standards of the chess world. Tournament
conditions and prize funds improved immeasurably thanks to his efforts. My
battles with the power-hungry thugs who ran the Soviet and international
chess world were politically driven. To me they represented a backwards and
corrupt system. They saw me as a threat to their control.
The protests and conflicts seen in the current
match are of a very different nature and reflect the complete loss of
professionalism in the sport. The event is taking place in the capital of
the Russian republic of Kalmykia under the auspices of its president, Kirsan
Ilyumzhinov, who is also the president of FIDE. He has created a vertical
column of power that would be familiar to any observer of Russia today. He
runs the chess world in the same authoritarian way he runs his impoverished
republic. After a decade of such mistreatment, the only place that could be
found to host this match was his own capital. Serious sponsors rarely want
anything to do with Mr. Ilyumzhinov and his organization.
Even his closest cronies in FIDE failed Mr.
Ilyumzhinov this time. He stocked the match's appeals committee with FIDE
officials, but while he was away, their decision created the crisis that now
seems likely to end the match in ruin. Recognizing the failure of his stated
goals and low methods, Mr. Ilyumzhinov has lately taken steps to unify the
chess world and make long overdue moves to professionalize the organization
of events. This terrifies the fixers who would be the first to go under a
Combine this collapsing power structure with
players and managers concerned only with self-interest and making money, and
what happened in Elista was practically inevitable. In fact, most of the
principal actors in Elista stand to gain from the cancellation of the match.
Mr. Topalov was losing at the game and so he switched to gamesmanship. If
the match is aborted he can claim he wasn't defeated and so maintain his
status as FIDE champion.
Mr. Kramnik rose to the provocation and now may
walk off with the same faded title he took from me in 2000. For years he
avoided both a rematch and unification with FIDE. If this chaos isn't
resolved he can go on to claim "champion for life" standing outside of FIDE.
Just like their brothers in spirit in the Kremlin,
the chess nomenclatura hope to prolong the anarchy and corruption from which
they have profited for so long. Mr. Ilyumzhinov needs this match to
continue, but it is he who sowed the seeds of its downfall.
For a game associated with brainpower, chess's
leaders and its leading players have displayed remarkably little in recent
years. They are now paying the price by having their pettiness and
incompetence splashed across front pages around the world.
Mr. Kasparov is the former world chess champion and the current
chairman of the United Civil Front in Russia.
"Why We Read: The books that inspired me to champion literacy," by
Laura Bush, The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2006 ---
1. "Hop on Pop"
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1963).
Selecting books with
the most personal meaning is very difficult for a librarian--it's like
asking which are your favorite children. Among children's books, "Hop on
Pop" has a lot of personal meaning for me. It features Dr. Seuss's typically
wonderful illustrations and rhymes ("SEE BEE THREE Now we see three"), of
course, but the main thing for me is the family memory--the loving
memory--that the book evokes of George lying on the floor and reading it to
our daughters, Barbara and Jenna. They were little bitty things, and they
took "Hop on Pop" literally, and jumped on him--we have the pictures to
2. The "Little
House" Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Harper, 1932-43).
I loved the Laura
Ingalls Wilder books, and I identified with Laura because of her name and
her brown hair. But there were other reasons that they were important to me:
I read them with my mother, and they gave me a whole sense of our
country--the sense of what life was like as a pioneering family traveled
across 19th-century America. You followed along as Laura grew up, and then
you moved on to the young-adult books of the series, like "These Happy
Golden Years," when Laura becomes a teacher and marries her suitor, Almanzo.
These books--about a loving and warm family life, about parents who expected
the best for each and every one of their children--represent what I view as
genuine American values.
3. "The Brothers
Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1880).
As I grew up I found
"The Brothers Karamazov" to be one of the deepest, most interesting of books
I read--one that was the most fun to re-read. Maybe I shouldn't say "fun,"
given that it is about spiritual struggle, but to read it over and over
again at various times in my life was always rewarding. That includes the
time I read the book while sitting by a swimming pool in Houston, when I
worked as a teacher in the early 1970s. Though the book was Russian, there
was always a sort of Texas heat about this memory. Later, when George and I
lived in Dallas, I took literature courses at the Dallas Institute, and of
course we read "The Brothers Karamazov." But it is such an endless well of
ideas on human character that this book is always one I'd be ready to pick
up and read again.
4. "Little Women"
by Louisa May Alcott (1868).
Louisa May Alcott's book about a Civil War family, is one I remember
vividly, first from reading with my mother when I was little. She read it to
me before I could read. The impression it made just shows how important it
is to have parents who read and who read to you. That's how every one of us
librarians ended up where we did: making our careers out of reading because
we loved it so much. First I was a teacher and then, since what I liked best
about teaching was reading and sharing literature with children, I became a
librarian. Now it is the whole focus of my life, really. And it all started
with my mother's love of reading books like "Little Women" to me. I went on
to read it on my own, then with friends and my own children.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain (1884).
is another of those books that I value greatly, that I read a number of
times. It is a classic American work--with its themes of freedom and
independence and Huck's coming of age as he flees on a raft down the
Mississippi to avoid "sivilizing" back home--and one that is important to
our country. The pleasure to be had from reading a book like "Huckleberry
Finn" is one reason why, I believe, there is a renewed interest in reading
in this country. There are book clubs all over. I see that my girls and
their friends all read, and they love to trade books and talk about books
they like. Reading has been such an important part, such an incredible
center of my life, that I would like for everyone, especially American
students, to know how rewarding it can be.
Mrs. Bush is hosting--with James
H. Billington, the librarian of Congress--the Library of Congress's National
Book Festival in Washington this weekend.
Note the serious medical finding:
"Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"
This type of therapy has been shown to distract patients from almost all their
The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize winners were awarded on
Thursday night, October 5, at the
16th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre.
The ceremony was
www.improbable.com . Recorded video will be posted here soon.
Two days after the ceremony -- on Saturday, October 7
-- the new winners will give free public lectures at the
Ig Informal Lectures.
ORNITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab, of the University of California Davis, and the
late Philip R.A. May of the University of California Los Angeles, for exploring
and explaining why woodpeckers don't get headaches.
for a Headache," Ivan R Schwab, British Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 86,
2002, p. 843.
REFERENCE: "Woodpeckers and Head Injury," Philip R.A. May, Joaquin M. Fuster,
Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7957, February 28, 1976,
REFERENCE: "Woodpeckers and Head Injury," Philip R.A. May, Joaquin M. Fuster,
Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7973, June 19, 1976, pp.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Ivan Schwab
NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the
Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky
Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae)
from Kuwait," Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid
Environments, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 511-6.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Faten Al-Musalam
PEACE: Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, for inventing an
electromechanical teenager repellant -- a device that makes annoying noise
designed to be audible to teenagers but not to adults; and for later using that
same technology to make telephone ringtones that are audible to teenagers but
not to their teachers.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Howard Stapleton planned to attend,
but his plans were interrupted by a family medical situation.
ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern (of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and
Brandeis University, and Northwestern University), Randolph Blake (of Vanderbilt
University and Northwestern University) and James Hillenbrand (of Western
Michigan University and Northwestern University) for conducting experiments to
learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
of a Chilling Sound," D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James
Hillenbrand, Perception and Psychophysics, vol. 39,1986, pp. 77-80.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Lynn Halpern and Randolph Blake
MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes of the Australian Commonwealth
Scientific and Research Organization, for calculating the number of photographs
you must take to (almost) ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their
Photos, Guaranteed," Velocity, June 2006,
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes
CONTACT: Nic Svenson, Communications Officer, CSIRO Industrial Physics, Phone:
+61 (2) 9413 7643, Fax: +61 (2) 9413 7644, firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT: Dr. Piers Barnes, Post Doctoral Fellow, CSIRO Industrial Physics,
Office: +61 2 9413 7179, Mobile: +61 410 273 353, Fax: +61 2 9413 7200, <email@example.com>
LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University for his report "Consequences
of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using
Long Words Needlessly."
REFERENCE: "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of
Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly," Daniel M. Oppenheimer,
Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol. 20, no. 2, March 2006, pp. 139-56.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Daniel Oppenheimer
MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of
Medicine, for his medical case report "Termination
of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"; and Majed Odeh, Harry
Bassan, and Arie Oliven of Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, for their
subsequent medical case report also titled "Termination
of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage."
REFERENCE: "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage,"
Francis M. Fesmire, Annals of Emergency Medicine, vol. 17, no. 8, August 1988
REFERENCE: "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage,"
Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven, Journal of Internal Medicine, vol.
227, no. 2, February 1990, pp. 145-6. They are at the Department of Internal
Medicine, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.
REFERENCE: "Hiccups and Digital Rectal Massage," M. Odeh and A. Oliven,
Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, vol. 119, 1993, p. 1383.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Francis Fesmire
PHYSICS: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of the Université Pierre et
Marie Curie, in Paris, for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti,
it often breaks into more than two pieces.
REFERENCE: "Fragmentation of Rods by Cascading Cracks: Why Spaghetti Does Not
Break in Half," Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, Physical Review Letters,
vol. 95, no. 9, August 26, 2005, pp. 95505-1 to 95505-1.
REFERENCE: video and other details at <http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/index.html>
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch
CHEMISTRY: Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito and José Bon of the University
of Valencia, Spain, and Carmen Rosselló of the University of Illes Balears, in
Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for their study "Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar
Cheese as Affected by Temperature."
Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature," Antonio Mulet, José
Javier Benedito, José Bon, and Carmen Rosselló, Journal of Food Science, vol.
64, no. 6, 1999, pp. 1038-41.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance
speech via video recording.
Bart Knols (of Wageningen Agricultural University, in Wageningen, the
Netherlands; and of the National Institute for Medical Research, in Ifakara
Centre, Tanzania, and of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna
Austria) and Ruurd de Jong (of Wageningen Agricultural University and of Santa
Maria degli Angeli, Italy) for showing that the female malaria mosquito
Anopheles gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to
the smell of human feet.
REFERENCE: "On Human Odour, Malaria Mosquitoes, and Limburger Cheese," Bart. G.J.
Knols, The Lancet, vol. 348 , November 9, 1996, p. 1322.
REFERENCE: “Behavioural and electrophysiological responses of the female malaria
mosquito Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae) to Limburger cheese volatiles,”
Bulletin of Entomological Research, B.G.J. Knols, J.J.A. van Loon, A. Cork, R.D.
Robinson, et al., vol. 87, 1997, pp. 151-159.
REFERENCE: "Limburger Cheese as an Attractant for the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles
gambiae s.s.," B.G,J. Knols and R. De Jong, Parasitology Today,
yd. 12, no. 4, 1996, pp. 159-61.
REFERENCE: "Selection of Biting Sites on Man by Two Malaria Mosquito Species,"
R. De Jong and B.G.J. Knols, Experientia, vol. 51, 1995, pp. 80–84.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Bart Knols
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