This is a shot of the White Mountains before the snow blanketed the mountain tops..

 

Tidbits on November 13, 2006
Bob Jensen

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

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


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

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



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




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

Animated Map of the Middle East --- http://www.mapsofwar.com/images/EMPIRE17.swf

Explore the Art and Science of Listening --- http://www.exploratorium.edu/listen/about_listen.php

Virtual Pig Dissection (for biology learning) --- http://www.whitman.edu/biology/vpd/main.html 

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter --- http://lro.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Why the drug companies love us (turn up your speakers) --- http://www.cafeoflifepikespeak.com/Videos/Licensed To Pill.swf

The Nutty Buddy is a revolutionary athletic cup designed by a pro baseball player for superior protection of your most valuable assets. The Nutty Buddy is stronger, more comfortable and more protective for athletes in any sport (play the video) --- http://thenuttybuddy.com/


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

The politically correct Iwo Jima --- http://www.goodolddogs3.com/If-IwoJima-Happened2day.html

NPR explores a vivid (World War II nostolgia) chapter in the life of violinist Jascha Heifetz
(Includes segments with Jack Benny and Bing Crosby) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6467452

Willie Nelson and Ryan Adams, Spanning Eras Seamlessly ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6444987

Tomasz Stanko and All That (Polish) Jazz --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6397911

The Decemberists Bring 'Crane Wife' to D.C. (Rock) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6382494

The Sound of an Angry Mob Gathering Strength --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6389065 

When Wild Rockers Grow Quieter and Better
The Who Is Back --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6407635

The Decemberists Soar with 'Crane Wife' Live --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6382494

Online Conservatory --- http://www.bso.org/images/conservatory/

Cingular's new mobile music strategy allows users to download songs to handsets at no charge—but players are a different story, Business Week, November 3, 2006 --- http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2006/tc20061103_372873.htm?link_position=link5


Photographs and Art

A Tribute and Thank You to Our Aging Veterans --- http://www.managedmusic.com/php/BYGIndex.php?page=Before_You_Go_Home
(Link forwarded by Richard Wolff)

One Thousand Words: Photos, Footage and Political Cartoons by Paul Martin Lester, Professor of Communications - California State University, Fullerton --- http://www.concernedjournalists.org/node/442

Go for a ride on a Russian road (slide show) --- http://www.texasjim.com/LenaHighway/LenaHighway_files/frame.htm

Mexico as Muse (flower and vegetable photos) --- http://www.sfmoma.org/modotti-weston/index.html

Animals are cute --- http://www.widelec.org/index.php?site=detail&id=242

From NPR:  Elvis at Age 21 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6467798

Tens of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American citizens, to report to assembly centers throughout the West for transfer to internment camps --- Click Here

 


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

Read Print (online library) --- http://www.readprint.com/

FullBooks --- http://www.fullbooks.com/ 

Poetry Daily --- http://www.poems.com/

The Complete Work of Charles Darwin --- http://darwin-online.org.uk/

Berenice by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) --- Click Here

In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000 --- http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/ITB/html/introduction.htm

American Slang, Adapted and Updated --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6383410

Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) --- Click Here

Love Of Life And Other Stories by Jack London (1876-1916) --- Click Here

The Battle Of The Books And Other Short Pieces by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) --- Click Here

The First Men In The Moon by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) --- Click Here

The War In The Air by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) --- Click Here

Social Explorer (socialization maps) --- http://www.socialexplorer.com

Common Errors in English --- http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html

Type in a word to find its rhymes, synonyms, and more --- http://rhyme.poetry.com/




  • Republicans deserved to lose. They arrived a dozen years ago promising reform and smaller government. They did deliver a very successful welfare reform law--but that was over a decade ago. What legislative accomplishments they have delivered since have mostly consisted in approving President Bush's initiatives, which is something, but far from the "revolution" they promised in 1994.
    Opinion Journal ( a conservative newsletter), November 8, 2006
    Jensen Comment
    To say nothing of the wasted billions lost to fraud, corruption, ego trips, arrogance, and neglect. Sometimes the toilet bowl needs a good scrubbing. Will there ever be genuine political reform and accountability in local, state, and national governments?

    There's only criminal class in America and it's Congress.
    Mark Twain

    It seems clear America is a center-right country, rather than a center-left one--though the Northeast is an exception.
    Opinion Journal
    , November 8, 2006
    Jensen Comment
    I can understand a liberal landslide in "taxing" states like Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, but it is truly sad to watch the last remaining Yankee state, at this "fork," taking the road most traveled by our surrounding neighbors.

    American Jews expressed flagrant support for Democratic candidates for Congress, contributing to a turnaround in the House of Representatives. According to a CNN sampling of voters, 87 percent of Jewish voters voted Democrat . . . Democratic Party wins largest percentage of Jewish support since 1994. Elections expert: Jews voted for candidates good for Israel . . .
     Yitzhak Benhorin, "87 percent of Jews vote Democrat," YNet News, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3325529,00.html

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush's defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran . . . "Since Washington's hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation."
    John Hemming, "Khamenei calls elections a victory for Iran," Reuters, November 10, 2006 --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    In the grand scheme of ironies, it's odd how warring Jews and Jihadists (including al Qaeda and Iranian fundamentalists) are both claiming that the GOP election defeat is a victory for their sides. It's one thing to be against something bad for both sides (like nuclear winter), but its hard to imagine an election victory that is immensely good for both sides. How can both warring enemies cheer for the U. S. Democratic Party at the same time when the Jews claim they "voted for candidates good for Israel" and Jihadists are intent on "wiping Israel off the map"? How can elected candidates be simultaneously good for Israel and Jihadists intent on wiping Israel off the map? Perhaps all warring sides are hoping the U.S. just steps aside completely in the Middle East, but that can hardly be good for Israel. Hello? Am I missing something here?  I don't anticipate reduced military and humanitarian aid to Israel under the new Democratic Party-controlled Congress. There will be increased efforts for negotiated settlements, but having a permanent and thriving Israeli state in the Middle East is not likely to be negotiable with Jihadists. The only thing we can conclude at this point is that a GOP-controlled congress and a Rumsfeld-led military are both almost as bad as nuclear winter.

    A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in... And how many want out.
    Tony Blair --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Blair


    Like Father Like Son --- Well Maybe Not in Every Instance
    Here, for example, is how University of Rochester economics professor Steven E. Landsburg made the case for the volunteer army in his textbook "Price Theory and Applications." Under a military draft, he writes, "the Selective Service Board will draft young people who are potentially brilliant brain surgeons, inventors and economists -- young people with high opportunity costs of entering the service -- and will leave undrafted some young people with much lower opportunity costs. The social loss is avoided under a voluntary system, in which precisely those with the lowest costs will volunteer."
    Uwe E. Reinhardt, James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University, "Kerry Trips Over an Economic Truth, The Washington Post, November 4, 2006; Page A23 --- Click Here

    Only slightly more crudely put, the central idea underlying this theorem of what economists call "social welfare economics" is that if a nation must use human bodies to stop bullets and shrapnel, it ought to use relatively "low-cost" bodies -- that is, predominantly those who would otherwise not have produced much gross domestic product, the main component of what economists call "social opportunity costs." On this rationale, economists certify the all-volunteer army as efficient and thus good.
    Uwe E. Reinhardt, James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University, "Kerry Trips Over an Economic Truth, The Washington Post, November 4, 2006; Page A23 --- Click Here

    When our son, then a recent Princeton graduate, decided to join the Marine Corps in 2001, I advised him thus: "Do what you must, but be advised that, flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded." The intervening years have not changed my views; they have reaffirmed them. Unlike the editors of the nation's newspapers, I am not at all impressed by people who resolve to have others stay the course in Iraq and in Afghanistan. At zero sacrifice, who would not have that resolve?
    Uwe E. Reinhardt,  James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University, "Who's Paying for Our Patriotism?" The Washington Post, August 1, 2005 ---
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/31/AR2005073101080.html

    "Casualty of war," by Jonathan Zebrowski,  Princetonian, September 13, 2006 --- Click Here

    "Why?" Wilson School professor Uwe Reinhardt asked of his son, Marine Cpt. Mark Reinhardt '01 and another Marine officer as they sat in a bar in San Diego. "Why did you do this?"

    "Because no one else does," came the response from Mark. "There are all these kids from the barrio and the Dakotas and the farmland, great young guys going [overseas] to stand tall for America, and they need leaders."

    Mark, an economics concentrator and former Ivy Club president, had made up his mind to join the United States Marine Corps at the end of his junior year at Princeton. He entered the Officer Candidates School that summer. That decision eventually led to three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and to his receipt of a Purple Heart.

    After accepting a commission in the Marine Corps, Reinhardt became an artillery officer, finding himself in Iraq shortly after completing his final training.

    In Iraq, Reinhardt would have typically remained in the rear with the artillery batteries, his father said, but Mark wanted to be where the action was and secured an assignment as a forward observer, radioing in target coordinates from the front lines.

    Reinhardt's unit supported the initial invasion of Tikrit, and U.S. troops took control of the city in one night. "When we saw a picture [of Mark], that was the first time we knew he was alive, because you never know," Professor Reinhardt said.

     


    Seen as a vote of confidence in the fast-emerging economy, the announcement comes a week before US President George W. Bush arrives in Hanoi for an Asia-Pacific summit and as Vietnam prepares to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). The world's largest chip-maker said in February it would build the plant in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park outside Ho Chi Minh City to assemble, test and ship microprocessors used in personal computers and other electronic devices.
    "Intel to build its largest chip assembly and test plant in Vietnam," PhysOrg, November 10, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82372816.html
    Jensen Comment
    This gives us hope that enemies in bitter and bloody war can one day become allies in peace. I hope the entire Middle East takes note of what is happening in Viet Nam.

    Web reaches new milestone: 100 million sites.
    CNN, November 1, 2006 --- http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/internet/11/01/100millionwebsites/index.html

    The strength of a language does not lie in rejecting what is foreign but in assimilating it.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 1832) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe

    A moment of confusion and uncertainty of direction, an unlooked-for opportunity dropped carelessly at my feet, a change of place, task, self, and intellectual ambience. A charmed life, in a charmed time. An errant career, mercurial, various, free, instructive, and not all that badly paid.
    Clifford Geertz, a leading cultural anthropologist whose influence extended to many other disciplines --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford_Geertz

    The aging system of American-style democracy is beset in too many places by dry rot, cynicism, chicanery and fraud. It’s due for an overhaul.
    Bob Herbert, "Shouting Over the Din,"  The New York Times, November 6, 2006 --- http://select.nytimes.com/2006/11/06/opinion/06herbert.html

    One of the more disturbing developments in contemporary higher education has been the growing importance of reputational rankings. The most influential surveys, like U.S. News and World Report, depend partly on subjective perceptions of top administrators, which depend more on prior rankings than first hand knowledge. Past recognition creates a halo effect that perpetuates prestige even if the evaluator has little current information. This explains why MIT’s law school and Princeton’s professional schools always rate so highly even though they don’t exist. Rankings also affect the applicant pool and alumni giving, which are part of what rankings measure, and which adds to their self-reinforcing impact . . . Pressure for recognition has led to an undervaluation of teaching and an overproduction of scholarship that is inconsequential and unintelligible except to a few specialists. In many fields, the pursuit of status has put a premium on esoteric theory and sophisticated models, and diverted attention from potentially more useful empirical and policy-oriented publications. Faculty subject to these pressures may have too little time for advising, mentoring, administration, and public service, as well as writing for general audiences. Self-promotion also leads to unattractive behavior in many academic settings, such as panels, conferences and meetings. Academic novels delight in parodying professors intent on proving to each other just how smart they really are. Life too often imitates art.
    Deborah L. Rhode, "‘In Pursuit of Knowledge’," Inside Higher Ed, October 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/31/rhode

    Like higher education in the United States, Canadian colleges are experiencing an increasing gender gap, in which female students are dominating enrollments while women are seeing dramatic increases in faculty and administrative appointments, The Globe and Mail reported.
    Inside Higher Ed, October 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/31/qt

    In a move some see as an end-run toward same-sex marriages, the New York City Board of Health, with the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is considering a policy that would permit people born in the city to change the sex recorded on their birth certificates (without necessarily having surgery for a surgical gender change).
    "Change your sex without surgery:  New York to allow gender switch simply by revising birth certificate," WorldNetDaily, November 7, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52826
    Also see http://blog.wired.com/biotech/2006/11/change_your_sex.html

    Jensen Comment
    One of my friends in church had a surgical gender change that I think was a good thing supported by spouse and friends.  I won't comment on this general medical and human issue other than to worry that birth certificate (and thereby passport) changes without surgery may become widely abused for purposes other than the reason the birth records are intended to be changed years after birth. It would seem that worrisome deceptive reasons for non-surgically changing birth certificates outweigh legitimate benefits (which I have difficulty envisioning since many benefits of gender change like getting into a women's prison require more than non-surgical birth certificate and passport changes). We've discovered with prescriptions for pain killer medications that it's pretty easy to find a money-grubbing or even a well-intended and naive physician who will abuse the powers vested in him/her. Changing birth records  may become an inequitable way for a devious fraudster to circumvent laws and social norms. I keep envisioning Dustin Hoffman with Tootsie skills living in a women's school and/or becoming "female" sports hero for no reason other than that he's perverted, voyeuristic, hugely male in gender, and/or challenged by the thrill of deception. I envision some women using this ploy to become Roman Catholic priests which, on second thought, is not a bad idea albeit a deceptive idea. In any case it really is not a joking matter and the opportunities for societal deception are enormous!




  • "Learn While You Sleep:  German researchers have found that by using the right timing and electrical stimulation, they can improve a person's ability to remember facts," by Jennifer Chu, MIT's Technology Review, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17732&ch=biotech


    A Fraudulent Paper Published in Nature, a Prestigious Science Journal
    Another Example of the Need for Better Replication in Research Reporting

    "'Grape harvest dates are poor indicators of summer warmth', as well as about scientific publication generally," by Douglas J. Keenan, Informath, November 3, 2006 ---  http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3200.htm 

    That is, the authors had developed a method that gave a falsely-high estimate of temperature in 2003 and falsely-low estimates of temperatures in other very warm years. They then used those false estimates to proclaim that 2003 was tremendously warmer than other years.

    The above is easy enough to understand. It does not even require any specialist scientific training. So how could the peer reviewers of the paper not have seen it? (Peer reviewers are the scientists who check a paper prior to its publication.) I asked Dr. Chuine what data was sent to Nature, when the paper was submitted to the journal. Dr. Chuine replied, “We never sent data to Nature”.

    I have since published a short note that details the above problem (reference below). There are several other problems with the paper of Chuine et al. as well. I have written a brief survey of those (for people with an undergraduate-level background in science). As described in that survey, problems would be obvious to anyone with an appropriate scientific background, even without the data. In other words, the peer reviewers could not have had appropriate background.

    What is important here is not the truth or falsity of the assertion of Chuine et al. about Burgundy temperatures. Rather, what is important is that a paper on what is arguably the world's most important scientific topic (global warming) was published in the world's most prestigious scientific journal with essentially no checking of the work prior to publication.

    Moreover—and crucially—this lack of checking is not the result of some fluke failures in the publication process. Rather, it is common for researchers to submit papers without supporting data, and it is frequent that peer reviewers do not have the requisite mathematical or statistical skills needed to check the work (medical sciences largely excepted). In other words, the publication of the work of Chuine et al. was due to systemic problems in the scientific publication process.

    The systemic nature of the problems indicates that there might be many other scientific papers that, like the paper of Chuine et al., were inappropriately published. Indeed, that is true and I could list numerous examples. The only thing really unusual about the paper of Chuine et al. is that the main problem with it is understandable for people without specialist scientific training. Actually, that is why I decided to publish about it. In many cases of incorrect research the authors will try to hide behind an obfuscating smokescreen of complexity and sophistry. That is not very feasible for Chuine et al. (though the authors did try).

    Finally, it is worth noting that Chuine et al. had the data; so they must have known that their conclusions were unfounded. In other words, there is prima facie evidence of scientific fraud. What will happen to the researchers as a result of this? Probably nothing. That is another systemic problem with the scientific publication process.

    Bob Jensen's threads on research replication, or lack thereof in accounting research, are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#Replication


    Tracking undergraduates into graduate school and into adult life
    By 2003, 10 years after they had graduated from college, 40 percent of bachelor’s recipients in 1992-3 had enrolled in a master’s, first professional, or doctoral program, according to Where Are They Now? A Description of 1992-92 Bachelor’s Degrees Recipients 10 Years Later,”  ( http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/2007159.pdf ) a report released Tuesday. The study, by the National Center for Education Statistics, looked a variety of demographic, educational, and employment characteristics, and surveyed graduates. The report also found that about three-fifths of the graduates viewed their undergraduate education as very important to their lives.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/01/qt
    Jensen Comment
    I have to wonder why about 40% of those surveyed did not find their college education as important in their lives. The report suggests that undergraduate business majors are less likely to return to campus for advanced studies, which when you think about it is not surprising. Of course this no longer applies to accounting majors who must now enroll in graduate programs in order to sit for the CPA examination in most states.

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


    Social Security Scam Warning
    Denny Beresford sent me a message about the latest Social Security email scam. Always remember that government agencies like the IRS and the Social Security Administration, along with banks credit unions, do not send you email messages out of the blue seeking your privacy information or your money. These messages come from crooks, most of whom reside outside the legal jurisdiction of the United States. I don't even open email messages from these institutions.

    The sad part is that these scams work so successfully!

    Bob,

    You might be interested in this - http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/pr/colaPhishingScam-pr.htm 
    (This is a warning from the Social Security Administration! )

    I'm receiving social security benefits now and I have to say that the email I received earlier this morning looked fairly official. However, it seemed unlikely that Social Security would make such a notification by email. So I found the announcement on the official Social Security site. While I'd bet that most people don't fall for the "wife of the former president of Nigeria" type of scam, this looks like one that might have a higher degree of success.

    Denny

    Free Fraud Alert Systems --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#Fraud%20Alerts

    Bob Jensen's threads on networking and computing scams are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection

    Bob Jensen's helpers if you think you've become a victim --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm

    Identity Theft Resource Center --- http://www.idtheftcenter.org/index.shtml

    Jensen Comment
    Even the familiar Nigerian-type scams are still enormously successful. These scams are the second most lucrative export (oil is number one) from Nigeria, and Nigeria is only one of many places in the world where such scams originate. Many also come from Eastern Europe where technology geniuses are always miles ahead of law enforcement and vendor security protection upgrades --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#NigerianFraud

     


    Transparency International, a private antibribery group in Berlin, released its annual corruption perceptions index

    "Voters Were Not the Only People to Notice Scandals," by Mark A. Stein, The New York Times, November 12, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/business/yourmoney/12count.html?ref=business

    Transparency International, a private antibribery group in Berlin, released its annual corruption perceptions index, which gauges how people view the honesty of public officials in 163 countries.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Iraq’s reputation suffered this year. So did those of Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Jordan, Laos, Algeria and — er — the United States. America fell three spots, to tie for 20th with Chile and Belgium.

    The pecuniary relationships that Jack Abramoff and other lobbyists had with certain members of Congress apparently took a toll on the country’s reputation.

    And a substantial number of voters cited corruption as a factor in their decision in the midterm election last week.

    But there is another side to the problem: the countries that pay graft to foreigners.

    Transparency International uses this “supply side” of corruption to rank countries on a “bribe-payers index.” Here, the United States does better. It tied — again, with Belgium — in ninth place.


    Question
    What is the AICPA's feed the pig initiative?

    November 8, 2006 message from Barry Rice [BRice@LOYOLA.EDU]

    Who says CPAs don't have a sense of humor?
     
    * * *

    Feed the Pig is a new national public service campaign from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and The Advertising Council to encourage the 40 million Americans age 25 to 34 to take control of their personal finances. The campaign is a new component of the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy effort, which offers free tools and resources to help Americans manage their finances through every stage of life.

    The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the national professional association of CPAs, with approximately 330,000 members in business, industry, public practice, government and education. The AICPA sets the ethical standards for the profession and theauditing standards for private companies, non-profit groups, and federal, state and local governments.

    The Advertising Council has produced thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day. The Ad Council aims to foster tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives.

    For more information about this campaign, please contact feedthepig@aicpa.org or visit www.feedthepig.org

    Barry Rice

    November 8, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hello Barry,

    It's become a rare even to hear from the Founding Father of the AECM, and it's great to know that you're alive and well.

    I'm old enough to remember when Bill Paton, a powerhouse on the University of Michigan campus, in the middle of the 20th Century, made a push to require basic accounting for every student on campus. In the 21st Century I would not advocate this for basic accounting, but I do think it is very important to require all students to take a course in personal finance and taxation. Even our accounting students (who do not face the short-skirt, fish net stockings dilemma mentioned by Catlin below) still are incredibly weak in personal finance and have difficulty managing their own financial affairs for the long-term future. For example, how many of them can effectively argue against the clever and highly misleading "investment advisor education infomercials and scams," the dirty tricks of credit card companies, and FICO fraud? Arthur Levitt claims says society is too easily seduced.

    "I don't see frankly much out there that really does the job, and that's partially because investors are their own worst enemy," says former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt. "They refuse to invest skeptically, and are too easily seduced by all the purveyors of financial products that prey upon their worst instincts."
    "Investor Education 101: How to Avoid Scams:  Outreach Programs Target Most-Vulnerable Americans, But Success Is Hard to Assess,"  By Lynn Cowan, The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2006; Page D3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114713241888747241.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

     

    My case is strongly supported by Catlin Petre's recent article in Newsweek Magazine, November 13, 2006, pp. 16-17 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15565824/site/newsweek/

    When I got my first job after graduating,
    I found that life's real tests start when final exams end.

    My friends and I are incredibly lucky to have gotten the educations we have. But there's a discrepancy between what we learn in school and what we need to know for work, and there must be some way for universities to bridge this gap. They might, for example, offer classes in personal finance as part of the economics department.

    When I got my first job after graduating, I found that life's real tests start when final exams end.

    Nov. 13, 2006 issue - To think there was once a time when I thought nailing the interview was the hardest part of getting a job. I recently applied to be a cocktail waitress at an upscale bowling alley in Manhattan. After a brief interview, the manager congratulated me, saying I'd be a great fit. It was only a momentary victory. She produced a sheaf of papers, and my stomach turned flips. I knew what was coming—the dreaded W-4. I'd filled them out before, for various summer jobs, but I'd always been exempted from taxes because I was a full-time student. Now that I had graduated from college, this was the first W-4 I had to complete fully.

    The manager watched as I hesitated. "Are you having trouble?" she asked as I squinted at the tiny print. "Oh, no, I'm fine." I stared at the form, trying to figure out how many allowances to claim—or what an allowance was, for that matter. I didn't want to admit that I was stumped, so finally I just took a guess.

    Later I asked my friends to shed some light on the matter, but none of them knew any more than I did. Instead, they advised me to do what they did: make it up and hope for the best. So much for being a well-educated college graduate.

    Having taken seminars on government, I could hold forth on the relationship between taxation and the federal deficit but was clueless about filling out a basic tax form. I'd graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in May, and had decided against going straight to graduate school. But while countless newspapers claimed that the job market for graduates was the best it had been in years, I had no idea how to take advantage of it. I couldn't imagine myself in an entry-level administrative position staring at a spreadsheet for eight hours a day—partly because it sounded dull, but also because in college I had never learned how to use spreadsheet programs. Cocktail waitressing seemed like a good way to make ends meet.

    My friends and I are graduates of Wesleyan, Barnard, Stanford and Yale. We've earned 3.9 GPAs and won academic awards. Yet none of us knows what a Roth IRA is or can master a basic tax form. And heaven help us when April comes and we have to file tax returns.

    My friends and I are incredibly lucky to have gotten the educations we have. But there's a discrepancy between what we learn in school and what we need to know for work, and there must be some way for universities to bridge this gap. They might, for example, offer classes in personal finance as part of the economics department. How about a class on renting an apartment? Granted, it might be hard to lure students to such mundane offerings, but the students who don't go will wish they had.

    College students are graduating with greater debt than ever before, yet we haven't learned how to manage our money. We can wing it for only so long before employers start wising up to our real-world incompetence. In fact, they already are: a study released last month showed that hundreds of employers have found their college-graduate hires to be "woefully unprepared" for the job market.

    All this raises a disturbing question: when I spent a ton of time and money on my fancy degree, what exactly was I buying? The ability to think, some might say. OK, fine, that's important. Still, my résumé would look odd if it read, "Skills: proficient in French, word processing, thinking." The thinking I did in college seems to be of limited utility in the "real world." The fact that I wrote a 30-page critical analysis of the function of shame in society did nothing to ease the sting when I spilled beer on a customer at the bowling alley.

    That's not the only time I've found my education incompatible with real life. I had trouble getting used to my new uniform, which consists of a supershort '50s-style bowling skirt, boots and fishnet stockings. As I changed into it for the first time, I had a vision of the feminist philosophers I had read in college hovering over me, shaking their heads disapprovingly.

    But it wasn't long before I began to see that the short skirt played a role in boosting my tips—a definite plus now that I was trying to rent an apartment, feed myself and buy the occasional book or new toothbrush.

    So which to live by: the philosophers or the skirt? I'm trying to fashion some combination, one that allows me to retain my principles without having to file for bankruptcy. After all, the last thing I want is to be confronted with more confusing government paperwork.

     

    My helpers for investors are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm

    My advice on mortgages is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#mortgages

    My warnings for on dirty secrets of credit card companies and credit rating agencies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO

    Hope to hear more from you in the future Barry!

    Bob Jensen


    Fidelity Offers Free Online Retirement Planning Tool --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55296.xml


    1950s Iowa Nostalgia

    Bill Bryson: Time Traveling in 'Thunderbolt Kid' --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6394288

    Bill Bryson grew up during the 1950s in Des Moines, Iowa where, he says, everything about his childhood was the best.

    Bishop's Downtown was the best restaurant. Dahl's, the local supermarket, had a kiddie corral filled with comic books -- a kid could get swallowed up there. Younkers, the local department store, had a tea room that looked like a postcard of Buckingham Palace, and gave children little gifts wrapped in crisp white paper.

    Bryson, the author of A Walk in the Woods, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and Notes from a Small Island, has written a memoir about his childhood called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

    Excerpt: 'The Life and Times of the Thunder --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6394288

    Bob Jensen's tale about growing up in Iowa can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/max01.htm

    1950s Juke Box Tunes are free online at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#JukeBox

    Jerry Lee Lewis: 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6388855


    Athletics creates a more vibrant environment,” said Terry Mohajir, associate athletics director. “There’s been a great deal of research on that.
    As quoted by Paul D. Thacker, "If They Build It ...," Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/10/stadium

    It's Still a Shell Game in Terms of Division 1-A Male Athletes
    While the NCAA’s numbers do show that athletes in general graduated at a higher rate than other students at their institutions, Division I male athletes in general fell short of other male students (56 vs. 58 percent), and football players (55 percent) and men’s basketball players (46 percent) were lower still. And the numbers were even lower at the Division I-A level, the NCAA’s top competitive level, where 41 percent of men’s basketball players and 42 percent of baseball players earned their degrees in six years. (Granted, those numbers are all generally on the rise, as NCAA officials are rightly quick to note.)
    Doug Lederman, "Graduation Rate Grumbling," Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/10/gradrates

    This season’s crop of college sports scandals is already so rancid that just about everyone is riveted to the foulness of it

    "The Faculty Bench," by Margaret Soltan, Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/11/08/soltan

    This season’s crop of college sports scandals is already so rancid that just about everyone is riveted to the foulness of it. Rent-A-Stripper night at Duke University is a whiff in the wake of the fumes pouring out of Auburn University (professors creating pretend courses for athletes), the University of Georgia (the canceling of classes for football games, trustee cronyism and malfeasance, NCAA violations, rampant fan alcoholism), Ohio University ( 17 football players arrested in the last 10 months, and their coach recently convicted of drunk driving), the University of Miami ( multiple on-field riots by players), and the other big stinkers.

    hose who follow this stuff closely, like the Drake Group, know that almost every major sports program in this country’s universities is stewing in some mix of bogus coursework, endemic plagiarism, diploma mill admits, risible graduation rates, and team thuggery — and that’s just the players. Add two-million-dollar-a-year drunk coaches crashing their cars all over town; meddling and corrupt alumni boosters subsidizing luxury boxes in new stadiums with massively overpriced tickets and names honoring the local bank; trustees averting their eyes as students tailgate their way to the emergency room; and presidents disciplining on-field rioters by ever so lightly spanking their bottoms, and you get a problem difficult to ignore.

    Or so you’d think. But tenured faculty — the one group doomed to wander the Boschean triptych of Athlete-Alumni-Administration forever and ever — seems to have noticed nothing. Duke’s faculty organized itself to protest the lurid thing its lacrosse team had become, yes, but where are Miami’s and Georgia’s professors, where things are much, much worse? It’s like that scene in Naked Gun when, with buildings exploding into flames behind him, Leslie Nielson tells the gathering crowd, “Nothing to see here! Nothing to see here!” Or that W.H. Auden poem, “Musee des Beaux Arts,” where atrocities rage in the background while in the foreground “the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse/ Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.”

    The psych professor pontificates to his class about Freudian denial, ignoring the fact that outside his window a group of recruits to the women’s soccer team, hazed to within an inch of their lives, has just vomited in loud and anguished unison and then passed out. The sociology professor deplores the country’s weak gun laws while half a block away, in student housing, pistol play breaks out on the basketball team. The political science professor decries corporate graft, his voice drowned out by a quarterback revving the Hummer he got as a token of a dealership’s esteem. The literature professor recites Keats’s “To Autumn” to herself as she trods the leafy paths of the quad, unaware that underfoot she’s crunching not leaves but beer cans left over from the football game the school has always called The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

    It’s not that the faculty bench has cleared; the faculty bench was always empty. Even as public revulsion grows at the sight of grosser and grosser campuses, the professors stay silent. Why?

    Some professors, to start with, are themselves team boosters. They’re excited by the spectacle of game day, its bracing autumn weather, everyone wrapped in team-color scarves, the TV cameras trained on their guys, the shrieking advertising images on the stadium’s “Godzillatron” screen, generations of university grads gathered in the stands to scream so loudly the other side can’t hear its signals. These are the faculty members who find ways to rack up course credits for athletes who don’t attend classes. As teen nerds, these professors worshipped jocks and wished to serve them. Now they’re serving them.

    And some professors are dupes. They actually think the sports program contributes significant money to the academic side of their university. In almost every case, they are wrong, and they could discover they’re wrong. Yet they remain in a sort of bad-faith fog about it. They don’t really quite exactly precisely know where all that money from tickets and TV and endorsements goes, but, hell, some of it’s gotta get to the library, right? A close look at the books (admittedly, sports program managers make such looks difficult) would probably reveal that sports at the dupe’s university drains money from the primary mission of the place. To say nothing of the reputational damage that’s being done to the institution by scandal after scandal.

    Next, there are the truly oblivious. A lot of professors are eerily good at ignoring everything in the world. They’ve written 14 books with obnoxious children and harridan wives bedeviling them every step of the way. To call them “absent-minded” would be an insult. They are not there. The sports program has yet to be devised which is corrupt and homocidal enough to catch their eye.

    Number four would be embarrassed. Professors have shaky egos and are, as a group, preoccupied with academic status. Already, if you’re at one of the big sports schools, you’re unlikely to be at an academic powerhouse; but you still think of yourself as a serious person, and you very much want to think of your university as a serious one. It’s humiliating to your sense of yourself and your institution to have to confront the overriding importance for almost everyone on campus of sports in general and the bad boy football and basketball teams in particular. Understandably, you will find ways to avoid this confrontation.

    Now to class issues. Professors may be intellectual and social snobs, the sort of people who look down on yoyos whose face paint runs with Budweiser. Being excitable about anything strikes a lot of professors, whose approach to life tends to be tight-lipped irony, as tacky. And don’t forget ideology. It’s the rare women’s studies prof ready to squeal along with the pompom squad. The chair of peace studies will have quite a struggle with the naked aggression on the gridiron. The contempt all of these professors express is at least an emotion and not indifference. Yet the contempt is frozen. It conveys the belief that the situation’s too big and too crazy to do anything about.

    There’s also, finally, the corporate outdoorishness of the venture. Professors have nothing against getting quietly tight in their own snug lodgings, but the idea of braving the cold and getting soppy with a bunch of fellow drunks is revolting. In general, professors are not team players — groups of any kind give them the heebie jeebies.

    Given what looks like a pretty hardwired incompatibility between professors and sports programs, can we even begin to imagine a time when professors might take a bit of interest in the athletic scandals on their campuses? Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, recently extended an invitation to professors to become “fully engaged” in significant aspects of their universities’ programs.

    Individual faculty resistance can sometimes have an impact. Here are two examples, both from 2004’s scandal-plagued darling, the University of Colorado at Boulder:

    1.) Professor Carl Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, left Colorado in disgust, citing — among other concerns — the irreparable academic damage its sports program had done and continued to do.
    2.) Professor Joyce Lebra, a distinguished historian, refused a University Medal, one of the highest awards the university offers, writing in her rejection letter that she would never take a prize from a place whose “gross distortion of priorities” has made it an “embarrassment.” “The focus and priority on football,” she concluded, “has undermined the atmosphere of this university, which by definition should be dedicated to academic endeavor at the highest level.”

    Both Wieman and Lebra got national coverage, and probably caused a modicum of shame among the trustees and administrators at Colorado. I don’t claim such gestures make a big difference, but they certainly get people’s attention. Group protest, of the sort Duke’s faculty expressed, is more effective, but more difficult to accomplish. Remember, professors don’t like to do groups.

    Direct action has its attractions — showing up at trustee meetings and holding signs and insisting on being heard — but keep in mind a story the other day out of Western Kentucky University, one of many provincial institutions that convince themselves to become Division I-A football universities, because it’ll really put them on the map:

    From The Courier-Journal: “Western Kentucky University’s board ran roughshod over faculty regent Robert Dietel last week, as it rushed to embrace Division I-A football.... WKU’s board told Dietel to shut up. Contempt dripped from [one board member]: ‘People on this board dedicate their time for free. They have better things to do than let some university professor just keep talking.’”

    That idiot is what professors who get serious about their universities’ purulent sports programs are up against. Professors on some level understand this, and shy away.

    But whether through principled exits, repudiation of academic awards, organized petitions and demonstrations, involvement in groups like Drake, or simply unrelenting ridicule, more professors should act upon the disgust that the stench from sports factories inspires in people who have not forgotten what universities are.

    Margaret Soltan is a professor of English at George Washington University. Her blog is University Diaries.

    Question
    Do those "independent studies" for varsity athletes have respectable academic standards?

    A panel at Auburn University has found that independent study courses that gave many athletes major boosts in their averages were apparently quite easy for non-athletes as well. While the report found key flaws in the way the courses were run, it didn’t find special treatment for athletes.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/06/qt

    Yes Bohunk: It's Still Possible to Sign Up for Basket Weaving
    Athletes Seek Out Professors Who Will Pass Almost Any Athlete

    Watkins says it is all too common to see athletes grouped in certain departments or programs under the sheltering wings of faculty members who appear to care more about their success on the courts, rinks and fields than in the classroom. Faculty members are often the most vocal critics of favoritism for athletes (the issues at Auburn were raised by one whistle blowing sociology professor against another), he says, but it is frequently professors who are responsible for the favoritism in the first place.
    Rob Capriccioso, "Tackling Favoritism for Athletes," Inside Higher Ed, July 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/07/20/sports

    While accusations of widespread abuse like that alleged at Auburn are unusual, “clustering” of athletes — in which large numbers of athletes at an institution major in a particular program or department, out of proportion to other students at the college — is common. A 2002-3 analysis by USA Today found that a large percentage of football players at Auburn and Duke University (a quarter and a third of the teams, respectively) majored in sociology, while tiny fractions of all undergraduates majored in that field. At North Carolina State, the University of Michigan and University of Southern Mississippi, the most popular major among football players tended to be sports management, also far out of proportion with their peer students.

    Richard M. Southall, an assistant professor of sport and leisure studies at the University of Memphis, says that his own sports and leisure area is the second most popular major for athletes, just behind those who attend the institution’s University College, an “individualized and interdisciplinary” degree program.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on athletics scandals in colleges ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics


    Horrible (shell game) accounting rules for pension accounting
    Over the past three decades, we have allowed a system of pension accounting to develop that is a shell game, misleading taxpayers and investors about the true fiscal health of their cities and companies -- and allowing management to make promises to workers that saddle future generations with huge costs. The result: According to a recent estimate by Credit Suisse First Boston, unfunded pension liabilities of companies in the S&P 500 could hit $218 billion by the end of this year. Others estimate that public pensions -- the benefits promised by state and local governments -- could be in the red upwards of $700 billion.
    Arthur Levitt, Jr., "Pensions Unplugged," The Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2005; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113159015994793200.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    This may be a helpful video to use when teaching the FAS 132(R) and the new 2006 FAS 158

    "Can You Afford to Retire?" PBS --- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/retirement/need/
    Click the Tab "Watch Online" to view the video (not free)!

    Half of America's private sector workforce are not covered by any retirement savings plan; their retirement will be anchored only by Social Security and whatever they have managed to save on their own. The other 50 percent have one of the two main employer-sponsored retirement savings strategies: a traditional lifetime pension or a 401(k)-style investment plan. Today, twice as many workers have 401(k)s than have lifetime pensions, a complete reversal from 25 years ago, according to David Wray of the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America.
    "PBS Frontline: Can You Afford to Retire," Financial Page, November 8, 2006 --- Click Here
    PBS Frontline has rebroadcast a critical examination of the nation's retirement system. You can access the interviews and written material for the program at PBS Frontline: Can You Afford to Retire. One can also view the program on-line, from the referenced link.

    The program highlights problems with both the Defined Benefit pension system (rapidly becoming obsolete) and the rising Contributory Benefit system, which brings with it a number of problems. The program considers:
    The program does not address the problem of high intermediation costs in the Contributory Pension system, or the preponderence of substandard investment vehicles (high cost annuities, load funds, and high cost active funds) in many employer provided plans.

    While the program explores the underfunding and closing of Corporate Defined Benefit plans, it does not touch on underfunding in the government pension system, nor does it address the fatal flaw of Defined Benefit plans: the total lack of portability of these plans for the employee.

    FAS 158 improves financial reporting by requiring an employer to recognize the overfunded or underfunded status of a defined benefit postretirement plan (other than a multiemployer plan) as an asset or liability in its statement of financial position and to recognize changes in that funded status in the year in which the changes occur through comprehensive income of a business entity or changes in unrestricted net assets of a not-for-profit organization. This Statement also improves financial reporting by requiring an employer to measure the funded status of a plan as of the date of its year-end statement of financial position, with limited exceptions.
    FASB --- http://www.fasb.org/st/summary/stsum158.shtml

    Bob Jensen's threads on pension accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#Pensions


    Mortgage Professor's Tips on Whether or Not to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early --- http://www.mtgprofessor.com/early_payoff.htm

    How Mortgages Work --- http://money.howstuffworks.com/mortgage.htm 

    What are current mortgage rates? --- http://biz.yahoo.com/b/r/m.html

    Beware of the So-Called Investor Education Programs (especially beware of infomercials)

    "I don't see frankly much out there that really does the job, and that's partially because investors are their own worst enemy," says former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt. "They refuse to invest skeptically, and are too easily seduced by all the purveyors of financial products that prey upon their worst instincts."
    "Investor Education 101: How to Avoid Scams:  Outreach Programs Target Most-Vulnerable Americans, But Success Is Hard to Assess,"  By Lynn Cowan, The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2006; Page D3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114713241888747241.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal


    Where do over half of the science undergraduates end up?
    More than half of those who graduated with science bachelor’s degrees in 2001 or 2002 were employed outside of science and engineering or unemployed, non-students by October 2003, according to a report released by the National Science Foundation. The report features numerous tables on the post-graduation work and education histories of science graduates.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/08/qt


    Do faculty change grades under pressure from administration?
    A Washington Post investigative report Thursday detailed e-mails and faculty reports sent to the Board of Trustees suggesting that Gallaudet is admitting students with poor academic skills. The Post article also described incidents in which the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Science and Technologies, Karen Kimmel, sent e-mails to professors asking them to pass students who had failed a remedial math test. Professors later changed the grades, the Post reported.
    Paul D. Thacker, "Standards Questioned at Gallaudet," Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/10/gallaudet

    Senator John McCain has resigned from the board of trustees of Gallaudet University, the world’s premier university for the deaf, after disagreeing with its decision to revoke the appointment of its incoming president, a university spokeswoman said. The chairwoman of the Gallaudet University board, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, has also resigned, the spokeswoman, Mercy Coogan, said. Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, wrote to outgoing President I. King Jordan on Monday, describing the board’s decision as unfair, Ms. Coogan said.
    "McCain Quits Post at College for the Deaf," The New York Times, November 9, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/09/education/09gallaudet.html

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


    "New sequential decision making model could be key to artificial intelligence," by Miranda Marquit, PhysOrg, November 8, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82190531.html

    “Decision making,” Mikhail Rabinovich tells PhysOrg.com, “is everywhere, and not just with humans. Animals use it, and robots do. But the traditional approach to decision making is too simple.”

    Rabinovich and his colleague at the Institute for Nonlinear Science at the University of California, San Diego, Ramon Huerta, along with Valentin Afraimovich at the Institute for the Investigation of Optical Communication at the University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico, present a new model for understanding decision making. Their paper, titled “Dynamics of Sequential Decision Making,” has been published on Physical Review Letters.

    The idea behind sequential decision making is fairly simple: if an intelligence has to decide between two items, something will follow, based on the decision made. “In the traditional, simplistic model,” says Rabinovich, the decision maker has to answer a simple question — left or right for instance — choosing between two attractors.” This results in a simple “if-then” equation. However, when real decision making is in question, there is more than a simple “if-then” at work. “In reality,” he says, “it’s much more complex and interesting.”

    Rabinovich explains that a sequential approach is needed: an approach that combines dynamic and probabilistic steps. And that, he says, is precisely what he, Huerta and Afraimovich are proposing. “This is a new class of model,” he says. “We have found a window to consciousness, and now we can generalize this into other cognitive functions.” He lists sequential attention, working memory and planning as other cognitive areas that could be benefited by this research into sequential decision making.

    But it’s not just the knowledge of how we humans might do something that makes Rabinovich and his colleagues’ work so interesting. “This can be applied to the artificial brain,” Rabinovich insists. “If we are going to create an intelligent brain for a robot, we have to think of these independent elements.” Basically, a process is needed for modeling a robot brain that could work as a human or animal brain. This is a model for getting there: “We have to be able to answer these questions in a qualitative way.”

    Continued in article


    Excel Tip
    Hyperlinks aren't just for web pages. Using the Insert Hyperlink command in Excel, you can create hyperlinks within Workbooks and even on a single spreadsheet pointing to a specific cell or a range of cells. The hyperlink can appear as a label, such as Trial Balance or 30-Days Past Due Total, or it can just display the content of the selected cell.
    AccountingWeb, October 31, 2006


    Enron Investors and Their Lawyers Aiming at Deep Investment Banking Pockets
    Andersen Coughs Up $72.5 More Millions for Enron's Investors
    Lawyers representing Enron investors have already won settlements for $7.3 billion of the $40 billion shareholders claim they lost in Enron’s 2001 collapse. On Nov. 1, the latest settlement — an agreement by Arthur Andersen, Enron’s former accounting firm, to pay $72.5 million — was disclosed. But it is far from clear whether the testimony of Mr. Fastow, a convicted felon who masterminded some of the fraudulent transactions that hid the company’s poor financial health, will be enough to push the seven banks that have not settled to the negotiating table.
    Lexei Barrionuevo, "Fastow Gets His Moment in the Sun," The New York Times, November 10, 2006 --- Click Here

    Jensen Comment
    The investment bankers, including Merrill Lynch, in the high rolling days of Enron succumbed to CFO Andy Fastow's extortion threats of taking Enron's business away if these investment bankers did not play ball his (corrupt) way. Now it's ironic how he's returning to make the banks restore millions to investors he destroyed.

    You can read the following at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm#01

    Why do auditors often lose professionalism?

    For auditors the problem is more complicated, especially for those in charge of major local-office audits or those in charge of their entire firms of tens of thousands of employees around the world.  Think of David Duncan who had the honor as a relatively young man to take charge of Andersen's audit of the huge Enron Corporation in 1997.  David was not a shareholder in Enron and, unlike Andy Fastow, did not have greedy hands in the air while Enron's billions were swirling over his head. 

    David Duncan was torn apart by classical auditor conflicting responsibilities.  On one side he had a huge responsibility to see that Enron abided by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) intended for fairness of information released to the investing public.  He also was responsible for maintaining both internal and external public perceptions of Andersen's professionalism.  On the other side he inherited hundreds of Andersen's Houston Office auditors and consultants working on Enron, some of whom were my former students.  David Duncan was responsible for meeting the huge monthly payroll of his audit and consulting teams.  Enron was a problematic client because there were higher than usual threats about taking Enron's business elsewhere if Andersen became too problematic in Enron's eyes.  I might add that financial institutions like Citibank and Merrill Lynch faced similar problems of losing enormous cash flows from Enron if they did not overlook some of Andy Fastow's financial misdeeds.

    Hundreds upon hundreds of Andersen's Houston Office professionals would've been fired if David Duncan lost Enron as a client.  And these people were much closer to Duncan than unknown faces in the investing public.  David Duncan violated GAAP responsibilities in favor of keeping Enron as a client.  Not all Andersen auditors would've done the same.  Carl Bass, who worked at a high level on the Enron audit,  most certainly paid more homage to GAAP than David Duncan.   But the buck stopped at Duncan's desk, and this is why Duncan forced Bass off the Enron audit.

    What is discouraging is how the CEOs at both Enron and Andersen preferred to remain in the dark about accounting irregularities instigated by executives beneath themselves.  Ken Lay at Enron preferred not to hear about accounting book cooking that helped to keep Enron share prices soaring.   Several succeeding CEOs at Andersen resisted putting in quality controls on large audits around the world --- even when there were signs of bad auditing dating back to audit failures such as Waste Management.  Art Wyatt, a former high-level executive partner with Andersen, captured the sentiment in his paper entitled "ACCOUNTING PROFESSIONALISM --- THEY JUST DON'T GET IT" --- http://aaahq.org/AM2003/WyattSpeech.pdf

    I attribute many audit failures in every large large CPA firm to the growth in size of the clients themselves.  The U.S. auditing process is flawed in design by having CPA auditors both responsible to the public and beholding to fees paid to them by clients being audited.  The potential for conflict of interest is self evident since huge clients can destroy local offices of large CPA firms by changing auditors.

    The problem was not so huge years ago when firms had many small clients and could afford to lose a client in favor of standing on principles of professional responsibility.  The problem is huge today because local offices of these firms often have a single enormous client like Enron, Exxon, Fannie Mae, or General Electric upon which the future of the entire office resides.  Enron was paying Andersen's Houston office $1 million per week for auditing and consulting services.  Imagine any single local office losing cash flow of $1 million per week!

    Many theorists claim that the U.S. auditing model is so flawed that auditing should be put in the hands of the government.  My response is that this would be even worse given the track record as U.S. government being the source of the biggest frauds in world history. 

    No auditing system will ever be perfect.  All we can do is struggle to constantly make our profession better and increasingly ethical.  We do have some help from the tort lawyers nipping at our heels (actually our heads).  You can read more about the Future of Auditing at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#FutureOfAuditing

    The day Arthur Andersen loses the public's trust is the day we are out of business.
    Steve Samek, Country Managing Partner, United States, on Andersen's Independence and Ethical Standards CD-Rom, 1999.


    University of Chicago Martin Marty Center (Religious Studies Think Tank) --- http://marty-center.uchicago.edu/


    Fifty tools to help your write better --- http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/fifty-50-tools-which-can-help-you-in-writing.html

    Bob Jensen's helpers for writing --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Dictionaries


    "Digital Photography Goodies in Vista, Part 1:  A sneak peek at Vista features that cater to photographers." by Dave Johnson,  PC World via The Washington Post, November 7, 2006 --- Click Here

    Let's start at the beginning. Downloading photos from your digital camera will be a lot easier in Vista thanks to what amounts to a two-click photo-import wizard. Here's how it works: Plug your camera or memory card into your PC, and wait a moment for AutoPlay to appear. ClickImport Pictures using Windows, and you'll see the Importing Pictures and Videos dialog box .

    What's that "tag" field, you ask? Well, if you want to, you can add descriptive keywords to your digital images, just like in Flickr, Adobe Photo Album, and a host of other tag-loving apps. When you import your files, the same tag is applied to all the photos in the batch, but you can fine-tune your tags later.

    Click Import, and all your photos are automatically copied to a new subfolder in the Pictures folder. You can also click a check box to delete all the pictures from your camera when the import process is complete.

    More goodies: If your camera has an orientation sensor (so it knows how you were holding the camera when you took the pictures), Vista automatically rotates your photos as they're imported. And even if you don't delete the photos from your camera, Vista is smart enough not to import the same images more than once.

    After you import your photos, Vista automatically opens Windows Photo Gallery , a photo organizer similar to Microsoft Digital Image Suite. Here's what the interface looks like.

    Here you can see the value of tags--you can add any number of tags to your photos, and then quickly organize and find photos using these descriptions. One way to search by tag is to type one into the search box at the top of the screen. When you do that, the main window automatically filters the view to display items that have that word in the file name, tag, or caption. Alternately, you can click a tag in the list on the left side of the screen--instantly, you'll only see the files with that tag. You can also nest tags in a hierarchy , so it's easy to see all your family photos or just shots of your cat.

    You might like the idea of tagging your photos, but dread the thought of all that typing. Well, fear not: You need only create a tag once. From then on, just drag pictures from the main window onto the tag in the list. In fact, you can select dozens or hundreds of pictures at once and drag them to the relevant tags. I have about 10,000 pictures on my hard disk, and I managed to get all my photos tagged in one weekend. This is huge. I've been advocating the use of metadata like tags and keywords to organize photos for years, and now this ability is about to be baked right in to the Windows operating system, instead of slapped on top with a third-party photo organizer. How cool is that?

    There's a lot more under the hood. Tune in next week for a peek at the remaining digital photo features, including a real photo editor.

    Hot Pic of the Week

    Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $15 and $50.

    Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.


    Software Learns to Tag Photos
    U.S. researchers have released a new online program for automatically tagging images according to their content. In its first real-world test, the program processed thousands of publicly accessible images available on the photo-sharing site Flickr. At least one accurate tag was generated for 98 percent of all the pictures analysed. The new software, called ALIPR (Automatic Linguistic Indexing of Pictures), uses a combination of statistical techniques to process an image and assign it a batch of 15 words, arranged in order of perceived relevance. These words may refer to a specific object within the picture, such as a "person" or "car," or to a more general theme, such as "outdoors" or "manmade."
    James Lee, "Software Learns to Tag Photos: Thousands of online images from Flickr have already been tagged accurately by a new software program," MIT's Technology Review, November 9, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17772&ch=infotech


    When Top Scholars Write Outside Their Realm of Expertise to Favor Executives at the Expense of Investors
    To close, the appeal to authority is enticing because it gives the aura that those with brilliant minds adopt a particular point of view. While powerful rhetorically, this approach constitutes a logical error because authorities sometimes make mistakes, such appeals to authority do not address the subject under debate, and the opposing side can solicit its own bevy of experts. Worse, this strategy backfires when the list of experts do not really possess the requisite knowledge base in the field of battle. With such ignorant experts, the glamour of Hagopian's paper disappears. I could stop my critique at this point, but opponents of the expensing of employee stock options would continue their nonsense. Therefore, I shall resume the critique in the next column by reviewing the arguments by FASB and by Bodie, Kaplan, and Merton.
    "Accounting for Stock Options: Reasoning by Authority:  Part 1," by J. Edward Ketz, SmartPros, November 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55203.xml 
    Jensen Comment
    Bravo Ed!

    Bob Jensen's threads on the executive stock options accounting controversy are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm


    The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants announced a new associate membership category for all college and university accounting faculty who are not certified public accountants.
    SmartPros, October 3, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55364.xml

    The AICPA News Release is at http://www.aicpa.org/download/news/2006/AICPA_Announces_New_Membership_Category_11-2-06.pdf


    The New European Three Year Plan for Undergraduate Degrees
    But 45 European nations have pledged to make three years the standard time for their undergraduate degrees by 2010. Under
    “the Bologna Process,” named for the Italian city where the agreement for “harmonizing” European higher education was signed in 1999, degrees are supposed to be sufficiently similar that they will be recognized from one country to the next, encouraging student mobility. What happens when some of that mobility involves graduate study in the United States?
    Scott Jaschik, "Making Sense of ‘Bologna Degrees’," Inside Higher Ed, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/06/bologna

    What are American universities doing? Many appear to be shifting — rapidly — away from systems that have been widespread in the past, in which three-year degrees were automatically rejected or in which graduates of three-year programs were granted provisional admission, on condition that they take certain courses or perform at certain academic levels.

    Daniel D. Denecke, director of best practices for the Council of Graduate Schools, presented data from a recent survey showing that more institutions are shifting to policies in which degrees are evaluated for comparability or applicants are evaluated for whether they can do the work.

    Graduate School Policies on 3-Year Degrees

    Policy 2005 2006
    Do not accept 29% 18%
    Provisional acceptance 9% 4%
    Evaluate degree for equivalency 40% 49%
    Evaluate candidate for competence 22% 29%

    The council also asked a question about non-European three-year degrees. The results indicate the universities with the largest foreign graduate populations are more likely to be open to accepting such degrees than are other institutions.

    Graduate School Policies on Non-European 3-Year Degrees, 2006

    Policy 25 Largest Institutions Other Institutions All
    Accept 56% 44% 45%
    Don’t accept 44% 56% 55%

    To non-Americans, the figures suggest that American graduate schools just need to learn more about the qualities of foreign students. Joe Hlubucek, counselor for education and science at the Australian Embassy, said that students from his country generally have no difficulties getting admitted to American graduate programs that have had a decent number of Australians enrolled over the years. “They are very well prepared,” he said.

    The skepticism tends to come from an institution that hasn’t had many Australians.

    In most of the public sessions, the general theme was one of the need for American flexibility.

    Continued in article

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


    "SEC Chief Suggests Blogs for Disclosures," PhysOrg, November 7, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82126753.html

    In the first official communication posted to a blog by a chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox said he was intrigued by the idea of letting companies use Weblogs to disseminate important corporate information.

    Cox has invited the chief executive of Sun Microsystems Inc., avid blogger Jonathan Schwartz, to talk to the agency about the idea of allowing companies to disclose significant financial information through blogs.

    The SEC chief showed interest in Schwartz's recent request for blogs to be used as a way to expand investors' access to information. His response to Schwartz, posted on Sun's Web site on Friday, caught the attention of the online world and even sparked envy from a Wall Street Journal blog.

    A growing number of major companies now publish corporate blogs or online diaries. The SEC position is that current regulations do allow for blogs, like news releases, regulatory filings, Web sites and Webcasts, to be used to disseminate companies' financial information, provided a particular blog reaches a broad audience.

    A 2000 rule known as Regulation FD, for Fair Disclosure, ended a long-standing practice by forbidding companies from providing significant information to stock analysts and other Wall Street insiders ahead of the public. The rule requires the method or methods used to be "reasonably designed to provide broad, non-exclusionary distribution of the information to the public."

    "The (SEC) encourages the use of Web sites as a source of information to the market and investors, and we welcome your offer to further discuss with us your views in this area," Cox told Schwartz in his posting on the CEO's blog. (He also sent Schwartz a letter by mail.)

    Said Cox: "Assuming that the (SEC) were to embrace your suggestion that the 'widespread dissemination' requirement of Regulation FD can be satisfied through Web disclosure, among the questions that would need to be addressed is whether there exist effective means to guarantee that a corporation uses its Web site in ways that assure broad non-exclusionary access ..."

    Cox has pushed several technology initiatives meant to give investors more useful and complete information about companies and mutual funds. His novel way of responding to Schwartz provoked jealousy on the part of The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.

    "We're jealous," lead writer Peter Lattman huffed Monday on the blog. "SEC Chairman Christopher Cox posted a comment on a blog. But not the Law Blog. ...

    "Shameless plea to Chairman Cox: We've got a serious case of the Monday morning blues and it would turn our day around if you posted a comment on the Law Blog. Don't worry, we don't want your thoughts on Reg FD or hedge funds. Keep it light: Tell us about the last movie you saw. Your favorite book? Thanksgiving plans?"

    In a Sept. 25 letter to Cox, Schwartz noted that Sun's Web site, which gets an average of nearly a million user hits a day, includes the blog that he writes as CEO and those of thousands of employees of the Silicon Valley server and software maker.

    "My blog is syndicated across the Internet by use of RSS technology," Schwartz wrote. "Thus, its content is 'pushed' to subscribers. This Web site is a tremendous vehicle for the broad delivery of timely and robust information about our company. ...

    "We encourage you to look to the Internet to achieve the (SEC's) objectives of greater investor access to information," he told Cox.

    Schwartz's letter didn't specify how many people read his blog, as opposed to the Web site in general, so more data would be needed to determine whether it meets the criterion of broad distribution under the regulation, in the SEC's view.

    Schwartz, who recently started publishing his blog in French and nine other languages, has said it attracts 50,000 viewers a month. For him, he says, it has become "the single most effective vehicle to communicate" with investors, journalists and analysts.

    Thirty Fortune 500 companies are now publishing corporate blogs, nearly double the number in December 2005, according to the Fortune 500 Blogging Wiki, a collaborative tracking site. Technology companies such as Amazon.com Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp. were early adopters, but senior executives at big industrial companies like Boeing Co. and General Motors Corp. also have embraced the trend.

    In its unfiltered form, blogging allows CEOs to bypass the public relations department, journalists and industry analysts and speak directly to the public. Few company blogs are written by the chief executives, however.

    Jensen Comment
    No mention is made of XBRL, but this will one day be an opportunity for XBRL tagged disclosures. The FASB is undertaking a study for development of XBRL tags for qualitative disclosures. Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#TimelineXBRL


    New Windows Media Player Shines
    The 11th version of Microsoft's Windows Media Player hit Windows XP desktops Monday like an out-of-control city bus. No, we haven't got a wooden Keanu Reeves to save the day, but we do have some solid evidence of Microsoft's effort to bring sexy back to the media player.
    Daniel Dumas, "New Windows Media Player Shines," Wired News, October 31, 2006 ---
    http://www.wired.com/news/culture/reviews/0,72036-0.html?tw=wn_index_3
     


    "Once You Experience Wide-Screen HDTVs, Hassles Seem Small," by Walter S. Mossberg, The New York Times,  November 2, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html

    As the holiday season begins, many people will be shopping for a big-screen, flat-panel, digital television set, especially those capable of receiving high-definition television, or HDTV. But what's it like to own and use an HDTV set? Are the benefits as good as advertised? What, if any, are the downsides?

    To find out, my wife, Edie, and I lived for several weeks with a big, beautiful HDTV, the Pioneer Elite PRO-1140HD, lent to us by Pioneer Electronics. It has a 50-inch screen, a long list of features and lists for $5,000, though you can find it for under $4,000 on the Web.

    I tested the Pioneer with digital cable service from Comcast, my local cable provider. This service transmits high-definition programs where available and can record them to a digital video recorder (DVR) built into its set-top box. Comcast also has an on-demand feature that allows you to watch certain programs whenever you like.

    The test demonstrated why people are so hooked on HDTV. The Pioneer Elite set performed brilliantly and was a joy to watch with HDTV programming. With HDTV, you are not only increasing the size of the picture, but its quality as well. On the Pioneer, colors popped, details I never saw before emerged, and the whole experience was almost cinematic. DVDs looked great, as did content from a computer plugged into the set.

    But there is a hitch: Most TV programs aren't available in HDTV, and these non-HDTV shows can actually look worse on an HDTV set than they do on older, standard TV sets. So do most videotapes. Also, buying a big-screen HDTV carries hidden costs and hassles. You may well need help installing the set. You may also have to switch or upgrade your cable or satellite service, get a new DVD player and buy new furniture.

    The Pioneer Elite model I tested happens to be a plasma TV, which is one of the three major types of HDTV sets. It works by stimulating a captive gas with an electrical charge. The other two are LCD, or liquid crystal display, which uses a screen like those on laptop computers; and "microdisplay" sets that project the image onto the screen from the rear of the set, mainly using two technologies: DLP, or digital light processing, and a form of LCD.

    Plasma TVs tend to have the blackest blacks and the best ability to be viewed from all angles of a room. Their colors are warm and vivid. And they cost less than LCDs in large sizes. But their screens are more reflective and a bit darker than LCD screens. There is also a slight chance they can suffer "burn-in," the permanent embedding of an image, like a network logo, if you leave such an image on for a very long time without changing channels.

    LCDs are bright, and they are the thinnest and lightest of the HDTVs. But their colors often seem cold and their blacks too gray. Their viewing angles aren't as good as with plasmas. And in some cases, fast motion can look blurry.

    Microdisplay sets typically cost the least, but they are the thickest of the three types. They tend to have limited viewing angles and can display a "rainbow" effect, which causes problems for some people.

    Our Comcast service gave us high-definition channels from all the big broadcast networks and some of the major cable ones. We immediately started watching shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives" and "Heroes" in high definition, and found they were greatly enhanced. Watching the World Series and NFL games was a great experience, with every clump of dirt, bead of sweat and blade of grass looking so much more real.

    The Pioneer also did a great job with an Apple Mac Mini computer we plugged into it, displaying family photos and downloaded videos stored on the Mac.

    The big downside was that only a small fraction of programming is high definition. At 8 p.m. on Tuesday night this week, there were just 13 high-definition programs available from Comcast, out of more than 230 total. The on-demand service had a smattering of additional high-definition shows and movies.

    And standard TV shows on a high-definition set can look awful. They can be fuzzy. They also typically fill only a portion of the wide screen, with big black or gray bands on the sides. You can eliminate the bands using TV features that stretch or zoom the picture, but these modes either cut off too much or distort people so they look unnaturally short and stout.

    Also, we ran into plenty of extra costs and hassles. We had to buy new furniture to hold the TV and all the gadgets that attached to it. We had to replace our DirecTV satellite service with Comcast cable, because the trees in our yard blocked the high-definition satellite signal -- which is beamed separately from another position in the sky. The Comcast digital service with high-definition costs more than the company's standard cable service and its DVR holds only 15 hours of high-definition programming versus 60 hours of standard programming.

    Despite all these costs and limitations, we were won over by our HDTV test. After returning the test unit, we went out and bought our own HDTV. We decided that in the slow transition to high-definition programming, there's now enough content to make HDTV worthwhile. And once you get used to high definition, it's tough to go back to plain old TV.


    Politics and Student Loans
    The National Education Loan Network, known as Nelnet, and its executives top the list of contributors to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to an analysis in
    the blog of the New America Foundation. Nelnet has been facing scrutiny and criticism of late from the Education Department’s auditors.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/06/qt


    "The Future of Cell Phones:  Nokia's head of R&D discusses technology that could shape the look, feel, and function of mobile devices in the next few years," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17734&ch=biztech


    "A Compromise on Unit Records," by Sherman Dorn, Inside Higher Ed, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/11/06/dorn

    Most of the problems with the unit-records database proposal can be solved if we follow the advice of statistician Steven Banks (from The Bristol Observatory) and change the fundamental orientation away from the question, Who graduated? and toward the question, How many graduated? The first question requires an invasion of privacy, expensive efforts to build and maintain a database, and a complex structure for data that few will use. But the second question — how many graduated? — is the one to answer for accountability purposes. It’s the question that community colleges want answered for their alumni. And it does not require keeping track of enrollment, course-taking, or financial aid every semester for every student in the country.

    All that we need is the post-graduation reporting of diploma recipients by institutions, with birthdates, sex, and some other information but without personal identifiers that would allow easy record linkage. Such a diploma registration system would fit with the process colleges and universities already go through in processing graduations. An anonymous diploma registration system could also identify prior institutions — high schools where they graduated and other colleges where students earned credits that transferred and were used for graduation. Such an additional part of the system could be phased in, so that colleges and universities record the information when they evaluate transcripts of transfer students and other admissions. The recording of prior institutions would address the need of community colleges to find out where their alumni went and how many graduated with baccalaureate degrees.

    Continued in article


    "Computing, 2016: What Won’t Be Possible?" by Steve Lohr, The New York Times, October 31, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/science/31essa.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Computer science is not only a comparatively young field, but also one that has had to prove it is really science. Skeptics in academia would often say that after Alan Turing described the concept of the “universal machine” in the late 1930’s — the idea that a computer in theory could be made to do the work of any kind of calculating machine, including the human brain — all that remained to be done was mere engineering.

    The more generous perspective today is that decades of stunningly rapid advances in processing speed, storage and networking, along with the development of increasingly clever software, have brought computing into science, business and culture in ways that were barely imagined years ago. The quantitative changes delivered through smart engineering opened the door to qualitative changes.

    Computing changes what can be seen, simulated and done. So in science, computing makes it possible to simulate climate change and unravel the human genome. In business, low-cost computing, the Internet and digital communications are transforming the global economy. In culture, the artifacts of computing include the iPod, YouTube and computer-animated movies.

    What’s next? That was the subject of a symposium in Washington this month held by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, which is part of the National Academies and the nation’s leading advisory board on science and technology. Joseph F. Traub, the board’s chairman and a professor at Columbia University, titled the symposium “2016.”

    Computer scientists from academia and companies like I.B.M. and Google discussed topics including social networks, digital imaging, online media and the impact on work and employment. But most talks touched on two broad themes: the impact of computing will go deeper into the sciences and spread more into the social sciences, and policy issues will loom large, as the technology becomes more powerful and more pervasive.

    Richard M. Karp, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, gave a talk whose title seemed esoteric: “The Algorithmic Nature of Scientific Theories.”

    Yet he presented a fundamental explanation for why computing has had such a major impact on other sciences, and Dr. Karp himself personifies the trend. His research has moved beyond computer science to microbiology in recent years. An algorithm, put simply, is a step-by-step recipe for calculation, and it is a central concept in both mathematics and computer science.

    “Algorithms are small but beautiful,” Dr. Karp observed. And algorithms are good at describing dynamic processes, while scientific formulas or equations are more suited to static phenomena. Increasingly, scientific research seeks to understand dynamic processes, and computer science, he said, is the systematic study of algorithms.

    Biology, Dr. Karp said, is now understood as an information science. And scientists seek to describe biological processes, like protein production, as algorithms. “In other words, nature is computing,” he said.

    Social networks, noted Jon Kleinberg, a professor at Cornell, are pre-technological creations that sociologists have been analyzing for decades. A classic example, he noted, was the work of Stanley Milgram of Harvard, who in the 1960’s asked each of several volunteers in the Midwest to get a letter to a stranger in Boston. But the path was not direct: under the rules of the experiment, participants could send a letter only to someone they knew. The median number of intermediaries was six — hence, the term “six degrees of separation.”

    But with the rise of the Internet, social networks and technology networks are becoming inextricably linked, so that behavior in social networks can be tracked on a scale never before possible.

    “We’re really witnessing a revolution in measurement,” Dr. Kleinberg said.

    The new social-and-technology networks that can be studied include e-mail patterns, buying recommendations on commercial Web sites like Amazon, messages and postings on community sites like MySpace and Facebook, and the diffusion of news, opinions, fads, urban myths, products and services over the Internet. Why do some online communities thrive, while others decline and perish? What forces or characteristics determine success? Can they be captured in a computing algorithm?

    Social networking research promises a rich trove for marketers and politicians, as well as sociologists, economists, anthropologists, psychologists and educators.

    “This is the introduction of computing and algorithmic processes into the social sciences in a big way,” Dr. Kleinberg said, “and we’re just at the beginning.”

    But having a powerful new tool of tracking the online behavior of groups and individuals also raises serious privacy issues. That became apparent this summer when AOL inadvertently released Web search logs of 650,000 users.

    Future trends in computer imaging and storage will make it possible for a person, wearing a tiny digital device with a microphone and camera, to essentially record his or her life. The potential for communication, media and personal enrichment is striking. Rick Rashid, a computer scientist and head of Microsoft’s research labs, noted that he would like to see a recording of the first steps of his grown son, or listen to a conversation he had with his father many years ago. “I’d like some of that back,” he said. “In the future, that will be possible.”

    But clearly, the technology could also enable a surveillance society. “We’ll have the capability, and it will be up to society to determine how we use it,” Dr. Rashid said. “Society will determine that, not scientists.”

    Bob Jensen's threads on economic technologies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm


    "Are Video Games Evil?" by Chris Suellentrop, The Wilson Quarterly, October 2006 --- http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=wq.essay&essay_id=193155

    On a Monday evening last fall, in the Crystal Gateway Marriott a few blocks from the Pentagon, a group of academics, journalists, and software developers gathered to play with the U.S. military’s newest toys. In one corner of the hotel’s ballroom, two men climbed into something resembling a jeep. One clutched a pistol and positioned himself behind the steering wheel, while the other manned the vehicle’s turret. In front of them, a huge, three-paneled television displayed moving images of an urban combat zone. Nearby, another man shot invisible infrared beams from his rifle at a video-screen target. In the middle of the room a player knelt, lifted a large, bazooka-like device to his shoulder, and began launching imaginary antitank missiles.

    The reception was hosted by the Army Game Project, best known for creating America’s Army, the official video game of the U.S. Army, and was intended to demonstrate how the military’s use of video games has changed in just a few years. America’s Army was released in 2002 as a recruiting tool, the video-game version of those “Be All You Can Be” (now “An Army of One”) television ads. But the game has evolved beyond mere propaganda for the PlayStation crowd into a training platform for the modern soldier.

    If you have absorbed the familiar critique of video games as a mindless, dehumanizing pastime for a nihilistic Columbine generation, the affinity between gaming and soldiering may seem nightmarishly logical: Of course the military wants to condition its recruits on these Skinner boxes, as foreshadowed by science fiction produced when video games were little more than fuzzy blips on the American screen. The film The Last Starfighter (1984) and the novel Ender’s Game (1985) depict futuristic militaries that use video games to train and track the progress of unknowing children, with the objective of creating a pools of recruits. (The code name for America’s Army when it was in development was “Operation Star Fighter,” an homage to its cinematic predecessor.)

    Some members of today’s military do view video games as a means of honing fighting skills. The director of the technology division at Quantico Marine Base told The Washington Post last year that today’s young recruits, the majority of whom are experienced video-game players, “probably feel less inhibited, down in their primal level, pointing their weapons at somebody.” In the same article, a retired Marine colonel speculated that the gaming generation has been conditioned to be militaristic: “Remember the days of the old Sparta, when everything they did was towards war?” The experiences of some soldiers seem to bear out his words. A combat engineer interviewed by the Post compared his tour in Iraq to Halo, a popular video game that simulates the point of view of a futuristic soldier battling an alien army.

    To view video games merely as mock battlegrounds, however, is to ignore the many pacific uses to which they are being put. The U.S. military itself is developing games that “train soldiers, in effect, how not to shoot,” according to a New York Times Magazine article of a few years ago. Rather than use video games to turn out mindless killers, the armed forces are fashioning games that impart specific skills, such as parachuting and critical thinking. Even games such as those displayed at the Marriott that teach weapons handling don’t reward indiscriminate slaughter, the shoot-first-ask-questions-later bluster that hardcore gamers deride as “button mashing.” Players of America’s Army participate in small units with other players connected via the Internet to foster teamwork and leadership.

    Nor is the U.S. military alone in recognizing the training potential of video games. The Army’s display was only one exhibit at the Serious Games Summit, “serious” being the industry’s label for those games that are created to do more than entertain. Games have been devised to train emergency first-responders, to recreate ancient civilizations, to promote world peace. The Swedish Defense College has developed a game to teach UN peacekeepers how to interact with and pacify civilian populations without killing them. Food Force, an America’s Army imitator, educates players about how the United Nations World Food Program fights global hunger. A group of Carnegie Mellon University students, among them a former Israeli intelligence officer, is developing PeaceMaker, a game in which players take the role of either the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president and work within political constraints toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    The very phrase “serious games,” however, suggests that unserious games may well be the societal blight that many believe them to be. It’s easier to vilify games such as those in the Grand Theft Auto series, in which the player’s goal is to rise to power in various criminal organizations by carjacking vehicles and killing their owners with a variety of weapons—a baseball bat, a Molotov cocktail, an AK-47. But Grand Theft Auto and its sequels are popular not just because of their transgressive content, but also because they are designed to allow players to roam freely across a gigantic three-dimensional cityscape. (With their combination of technical accomplishment and controversial subject matter, the Grand Theft Auto titles might be the video-game analogues of movies such as Bonnie and Clyde or, more recently, Pulp Fiction.)

    As far back as 1982, when video games consisted of simple fare like Space Invaders—a two-dimensional arcade game—a rabbi warned on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour about their dehumanizing effects: “When children spend hours in front of a screen playing some of these games that are inherently violent, they will tend to look at people as they look at these little blips on the screen that must be zapped—that must be killed before they are killed. And it is my concern that 10, 20 years down the line we’re going to see a group of children who then become adults who don’t view people as human beings, but rather view them as other blips to be destroyed—as things.”

    The rabbi articulated an objection that has been heard repeatedly as video games have grown from a pastime for awkward, outdoors-fearing children into a form of mass entertainment enjoyed mostly by adults. Last year, Americans spent a total of $7 billion on almost 230 million computer and video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, an industry group. Both of those numbers—sales revenues and units sold—have roughly tripled over the past 10 years. Defining who is a “gamer” can be tricky, as the definition can include everyone who has played Minesweeper on a personal computer or who kills time at the office with computer mahjong, but studies conducted by the ESA and others estimate that roughly half of all Americans play computer and video games. According to a study released in May by the ESA, the average American gamer is 33 years old. A full quarter of gamers are over 50, while only 31 percent are younger than 18. Playing video games is still a predominantly male pastime, but almost 40 percent of gamers are women; more adult women play video games than do boys 17 and under.

    Those who assume that video-game players are a bloodthirsty lot might be surprised to learn that of last year’s 10 best-selling games for the PlayStation and Xbox consoles, not one was a shoot-’em-up. Six of the most popular games were sports titles—including Madden NFL, a cultural juggernaut among athletes and young men—and the other four were Star Wars games. The bestselling PC game last year was World of Warcraft, a multiplayer swords-and-sorcery game that millions of subscribers pay a monthly fee to play. World of Warcraft is the latest and most popular in the genre of massively multiplayer online role-playing games, commonly called “virtual worlds.” In these games, thousands of players can interact with each other by connecting simultaneously over the Internet. (There’s a debate among specialists whether some of these worlds, such as Second Life, which offers its “residents” no competitions or quests, even qualify as games.)

    Despite their popularity, video games remain, in the opinion of many (particularly those who don’t play them), brainless or, worse, brain-destroying candy. But for as long as critics have decried video games as the latest permutation in a long line of nefarious, dehumanizing technologies, others have offered a competing, more optimistic vision of their role in shaping American society. Opposite the rabbi on that MacNeil/Lehrer broadcast a quarter-century ago was Paul Trachtman, an editor for Smithsonian magazine, who argued that video games provide a form of mental exercise. Ignore the dubious content, the “surface or the imagery or the story line,” he suggested, and you will see that games teach not merely how best to go about “zapping a ship or a monster.” Underneath the juvenilia is “a test of your facility for understanding the logic design that the programmer wrote into the game.” Games, in short, are teachers. And electronic games are uniquely suited to training individuals how to navigate our modern information society.

    As the gaming generation has matured, it has advanced this idea with increasing vigor. Last year, Steven Johnson published Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, which included a brief for an idea that has been gaining currency among academics and game developers: All video games, even the ones that allow you to kill prostitutes, are a form of education, or at least edutainment. Games can do more than make you a better soldier, or improve your hand-eye coordination or your spatial orientation skills. They can make you more intelligent.

    On one level, this argument isn’t very surprising. Games of all kinds are a part of almost every human society, and they have long been used to inculcate the next generation with desirable virtues and skills. We enroll our kids in Little League not only so they will have a good time, but also to teach them about sportsmanship, teamwork, and the importance of practice and hard work. The Dutch historian Johan Huizenga argued in Homo Ludens, his 1938 ur-text of game studies, that the concept of “play” should be considered a “third function” for humanity, one that is “just as important as reasoning and making.”

    In the case of video games, even their critics acknowledge that they are instructing our children. The critics just don’t like the form and the sometimes violent and sexually explicit content of the instruction, which they believe teaches children aggressive behaviors. Yet if such games are nothing more than “murder simulators,” as one critic has called them, why is it—as gaming enthusiasts never tire of pointing out—that the murder rate has declined in recent years, when there are more video games, and more violent ones, than ever? Why do IQ scores continue their slight but perceptible rise if an entire generation of children, the oldest of whom are now in their thirties—a cohort to which I belong—stunted its development with electronic pap? The important thing to find out about video games isn’t whether they are teachers. “The question is,” as game designer Raph Koster writes in A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2004), “what do they teach?”

    The generally uncredited father of video games was William A. Higinbotham, who, while working as a government physicist, invented a game of electronic Ping-Pong and displayed it during a visitors’ day for the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island in October 1958. By the next year, the game had been dismantled because its computer and oscilloscope components were needed for other jobs. Higinbotham’s game might have been forgotten—except by readers of the Brookhaven Bulletin, which published a 1981 story speculating that he had invented the first video game—were it not for the fact that one of the lab’s visitors that day was high school student David Ahl, who would write the 1978 book Basic Computer Games and become the editor of Creative Computing. From the pages of this magazine for computer hobbyists, Ahl proclaimed Higinbotham the grandfather of the phenomenon in 1982.

    The more influential and more commonly acknowledged grandfather was Steve Russell. As a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student in 1961, Russell created a rocket-ship duel called Spacewar! that could be played on one of MIT’s handful of computers, the PDP-1. Then, in the same way that Microsoft packages its Windows operating system with solitaire and other games, Digital Equipment Corporation, the manufacturer of the PDP-1, began shipping it with the game preloaded in memory, influencing computer science students around the country.

    In 1972, Magnavox introduced Odyssey, which, like Higinbotham’s game, was an adaptation of Ping-Pong (for whatever reason, table tennis was the game of choice for early video-game creators) that was the first home console for video gaming. The next 30 years saw the introduction of Atari, Nintendo, Sony’s PlayStation, and Microsoft’s Xbox, not to mention the many games designed for the growing numbers of personal computers. Higinbotham’s black-and-white blips have, over the past half-century, morphed into sophisticated displays of computer animation that increasingly resemble films, with original scripts, music, and often-breathtaking visual beauty. The King Kong video game released last year to coincide with Peter Jackson’s film remake featured an arresting parade of apatosauruses marching through a valley on Kong’s home of Skull Island. The sequence was so gorgeous that I set down my controller and just marveled at it for a while.

    As was true of games before the digital age, there’s a remarkable array of video games. Chess and bowling aren’t very similar, but we intuitively understand that both are games, if different species of the genus. Likewise, video games encompass everything from simple online puzzles to simulated football games and professional wrestling matches to the “God game,” in which the player adopts an omniscient view to influence the development of entire societies. In The Sims, the best-selling PC game of all time, players control the lives of individual humans as they go about their mundane lives. (It may sound unappealing, but The Sims comes from a long tradition. It is, in effect, another way to play house.) New genres frequently emerge. A “music” genre has arisen in response to the popularity of Dance Dance Revolution, a game in which players must move their feet in time to music on different areas of a dance pad. It’s basically a fast-moving, musical, single-player version of Twister.

    Exactly what is new about video games, other than their electronic nature, can be difficult to pin down. In the 21st century, almost all children’s toys have an electronic component, but that doesn’t make them all video games. In The Ultimate History of Video Games (2001), game journalist Steven Kent cites pinball as a mechanical ancestor of today’s digital games. Pinball created a panic in some quarters—no pun intended—as a new and dangerous influence on society. Foreshadowing the antics of today’s antigaming politicians was New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who smashed pinball machines with a sledgehammer and banned them from his city in the 1930s, a prohibition that was not lifted until the 1970s. (To be fair to La Guardia, governments have long perceived societal threats from new games. In the 1400s Scotland banned golf, now its proud national pastime, because too many young men were neglecting archery to practice their swings.)

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on edutainment and learning games are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Edutainment


    Felice's essay reminds me of the fact that the majority of graduates in accountancy had no intention of majoring in accounting when they entered college

    "Careers That Begin With a P," by Felice Prager, The Irascible Professor, October 30, 2006 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-10-30-06.htm

    Bob Jensen's threads on why many students change to accountancy as a major are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


    "New Programs: Entrepreneurship, Business Administration, Accountancy," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 6, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/06/programs


    Accountants in Hollywood

    November 1, 2006 message from Ed Scribner [escribne@NMSU.EDU]

    Our own Professor David Albrecht’s web site makes the big time in connection with article on “Andy Barker, PI,” new NBC series featuring a CPA.

    http://www.webcpa.com/article.cfm?articleid=22144

    Ed Scribner
    New Mexico State University
    Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA


    For a good time, memorize this from the walls of the bathroom cubicles
    From The Washington Post on October 26, 2006

    Which company posts technology-related quizzes in each of its bathroom stalls?

    A. Apple
    B. Google
    C. IBM
    D. Yahoo


    Gone are the days of executives' accountability and responsibility
    Audit Scandal at California State University - Fullerton:  University's CFO rewarded for "waste, fraud, and abuse"

    October 27, 2006 message from Mark Shapiro --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/breaking-news-10-26-06.htm

    The Irascible Professor has learned that in response to several allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse in the Business and Financial Affairs Office at California State University, Fullerton the CSU Chancellor's Office has conducted a lengthy audit of the university's business and financial practices at the university. The CSU auditor recently posted a scathing audit report on the operations of Fullerton's Business and Financial Affairs Office on his website.

    More details are available at

    http://www.calstate.edu/audit/Audit_Reports/special_investigations/2004/0491SpecialInvestigationFullerton.pdf 

    The Irascible Professor also has learned that the former Chief Financial Officer who was mentioned in the report was transferred to another high-paying position in the university after the improprieties came to light. She was allowed to remain in this position, which had few substantive duties, until she reached minimum retirement age. When she recently retired, she was granted emeritus status at the university. Emeritus status at Cal State Fullerton is routinely awarded to faculty members who retire with ten or more years of service to the university. However, emeritus status is not routinely granted to retiring staff members or administrators unless they have had a long tenure with the university and have -- in the eyes of their supervisors -- provided major contributions to the university.

    In the past five years, the campus initiated a stand-alone data warehouse. The purpose of the warehouse was to centralize reports of accounting data. BFA did not regularly and consistently reconcile accounting data to the warehouse. As such, we evaluated certain controls in place over accounting data in order to assess its accuracy and completeness. We found that accounting records were maintained in several different electronic data systems. The general ledger was in the Financial Reporting System (FRS). This data is audited by the campus’ external auditors and reported to the state. However, neither these FRS records nor information in other subsidiary accounting systems (i.e., accounts payable) was regularly reconciled to the data warehouse records. Information in the data warehouse was utilized by campus managers; but without regular reconciliations between the systems, the reliability of the data was diminished.
    "SPECIAL INV E S T I G A T I O N: CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FULLERTON,"  Report Number 04-91 October 11, 2006 --- http://www.calstate.edu/audit/Audit_Reports/special_investigations/2004/0491SpecialInvestigationFullerton.pdf  

    I don't know the name of the external auditing firm, but I've asked Mark Shapiro to investigate this.

    Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

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


    Cendant CEO Guilty at Cendant in 3rd Trial
    It took eight years and three trials, but federal prosecutors finally won their case on Tuesday against Walter A. Forbes, the former chairman of the Cendant Corporation. Mr. Forbes was convicted here on charges that he masterminded an accounting fraud that was considered at the time it was discovered — 1998 — to be the largest on record. Investors lost $19 billion when Cendant’s stock fell after the disclosure. The Cendant fraud was later eclipsed by the scandals at Enron and WorldCom. A jury of eight men and four women in Federal District Court deliberated for two and a half days before finding Mr. Forbes, 63, of New Canaan, Conn., guilty of conspiracy and of two counts of submitting false reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission in overstating his company’s earnings by more than $250 million. He was acquitted on a fourth count, securities fraud.
    Stacey Stowe, "Chief Guilty at Cendant in 3rd Trial," The New York Times, November 1, 2006 ---
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/01/business/01cendant.html?ref=business

    The company's auditor, Ernst & Young, paid $335 million to settle.

    "Before Enron, There Was Cendant," by Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times, May 9, 2004 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/09/business/yourmoney/09watch.html 

    The fraud that time forgot is finally going to trial.

    Tomorrow in Federal District Court in Hartford, opening arguments are scheduled to begin in the case against Walter A. Forbes, former chairman of the Cendant Corporation, and E. Kirk Shelton, former vice chairman. The government has accused the two men of orchestrating a titanic accounting and securities fraud that misled investors over a decade beginning in the late 1980's. The trial will open more than six years after the problems at Cendant came to light.

    Cendant was formed in late 1997 when CUC International, a seller of shopping-club memberships that was run by Mr. Forbes, merged with HFS Inc., a hotel, car-rental and real estate company overseen by Henry R. Silverman.

    Three months after the merger, Cendant disclosed evidence of accounting irregularities; the stock lost almost half its value in one day. Later, Cendant told investors that operating profits for the three years beginning in 1995 would be reduced by $640 million.

    Mr. Forbes and Mr. Shelton have been accused of securities fraud, conspiracy and lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The charges of fraud and making false statements to regulators each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Mr. Forbes is also accused of insider trading, relating to an $11 million stock sale he made about a month before the accounting irregularities were disclosed.

    Both men have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Forbes's lawyer did not return a phone call requesting an interview. Mr. Shelton's lawyer said: "He is innocent and expects to be vindicated."

    Thanks to the creative corporate minds at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and Adelphia, investors are up to their necks in revelations of accounting shenanigans. But the scandal at Cendant still ranks as one of the world's costliest corporate calamities.

    The day after the company disclosed evidence of accounting irregularities, holders of Cendant stock and convertible bonds lost more than $14 billion. And in 2000, Cendant, now based in New York, paid $2.85 billion to settle a securities suit filed by investors who had bought its stock. The company's auditor, Ernst & Young, paid $335 million to settle.

    And the scandal is still costing Cendant. Under the company's bylaws, Mr. Forbes is entitled to reimbursement for his legal fees, which are running $1 million a month, according to court documents. The company can sue to recover the fees if Mr. Forbes is convicted.

    Cendant has also sued Mr. Forbes to recover $35 million in cash and $12.5 million worth of stock options he received after he resigned from the company in July 1998.

    Prosecutors have built their case against Mr. Forbes and Mr. Shelton with help from three former CUC financial executives who have pleaded guilty to fraud. The case has taken six years to reach the courtroom, in part because lawyers for Mr. Forbes and Mr. Shelton persuaded a judge to move the trial from New Jersey, where Cendant had been based, to Hartford, closer to Mr. Forbes's home in New Canaan, Conn., and Mr. Shelton's home in Darien, Conn.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on Ernst & Young are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Ernst


    Ex-Software Officer Settles With S.E.C
    A former executive of McAfee, the antiviral software maker, agreed to pay about $757,000 to settle charges that he played a role in the company’s $622 million accounting fraud, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday. The S.E.C. charged in a civil lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco that the company’s former treasurer, Eric Borrmann, aided in fraud from mid-1999 until he left McAfee in July 2000.
    "Ex-Software Officer Settles With S.E.C.," The New York Times, November 1, 2006 ---
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/01/technology/01mcafee.html?ref=business

    McAfee's outside auditor is Deloitte and Touche. You can read more about Deloitte's litigations at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Deloitte


    From the Scout Report on November 3, 2006

    Online Journal of School Mathematics --- http://my.nctm.org/eresources/journal_home.asp?journal_id=6 

    Since its creation in 2002, the Online Journal of School Mathematics (ON- Math) has strived to offer high-quality, peer-reviewed articles on teaching mathematical concepts and principles to a wide range of students and their varying skill levels. With an editorial panel of eight members, ON-Math considers submissions on a regular basis, and visitors can view those articles selected for publication on this site. Visitors to the site can read a brief introduction to the journal, and then begin by browsing the contents of the current issue, or just moving on to some of the back issues. There truly are a number of very fine pieces here, including “Transforming Spreadsheets into Dynamic Interactive Teaching Tools” from the Winter 2003 issue and “Going Around in Circles: Connecting the Representations” from the Winter 2004-2005 issue.


    The Electronic Clearinghouse for Exemplary Engineering Technology Resources --- http://www.neteconline.org/ 

    The Electronic Clearinghouse for Exemplary Engineering Technology Resources (or NETEC) is a site created with substantial funding from the National Science Foundation. Drawing on the teaching experiences and resources developed by many concerned persons in industry and academic settings, the Clearinghouse contains everything from course materials for material engineering to journal articles that deal with the science (and art) of teaching in the subfields of engineering. First-time visitors may wish to register on the homepage, and then proceed to browse through the “Clearinghouse Resources” area. Here they can click on an alphabetized list of terms, such as digital electronics and skill standards, and look through the available materials. Of course, there is a great deal more available here than the very fine educational resources, as visitors can also look over online job boards and mentorship opportunities.


    The Human Factor --- http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/hf/ 

    Inspired by “…the courage, industry and intelligence required of the American working man”, two colleagues from the Harvard Business School (Donald Davenport and Frank Ayres) sent out a call to leading businesses in order to develop a visual collection that could be used in the classroom. During the 1930s, they received over 2,100 photographs that documented “the human factor” embodied in the interactions between worker and machine. Recently, the Baker Library at the Harvard Business School created this online exhibition to showcase a selection of these remarkable images. Visitors should begin by reading the introductory essay; they should then proceed to the exhibition, which is divided into nine sections. Each section begins with a short preface, and then continues on to a sampling of images, which include workers monitoring massive wheels of Swiss cheese in 1933 and a photograph of women assembling parts for Philco radios in 1926. Each photograph can be viewed in great detail, and it is worth noting that the site also contains an exemplary bibliography.


    Loki for Firefox 1.1.0.12 --- http://loki.com/

    With Wi-Fi networks popping up like earthworms after a heavy rain, more and more people want to get out and use their laptops anywhere they can. And with the use of Loki, they can also turn their Wi-Fi enabled laptops into a type of global positioning device, effectively integrating their current location into Internet searches and communication. Some uses for such a program include locating the nearest blues club, public library, and perhaps the town hall. This program is compatible with computers running Windows XP and Mozilla Firefox.


    Activism Network 3.1.2 --- http://www.activismnetwork.org/developers/ 

    Getting together with old friends and new online is relatively easy these days, what with all the various social networking sites out there. Not many of the sites give users the leeway to create their own activist networks, but this application does just that. With this application, visitors can create different online event resources, email updates, and profiles, all of which can be used for a wide range of organizational purposes. Additionally, the site offers documentation for the program and examples of groups that are currently using the program. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer.


    To reduce its carbon emissions, a Vermont college draws on the power of cows College taps the power of cow manure http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/31/cow.power.ap/

    Green Mountain Becomes First Campus Powered by Vermont Dairy Cows http://www.greenmtn.edu/gmcjournal/pop_102306_cow_power.asp

    Local farm leading way for green power --- http://www.addisonindependent.com/?q=node/295

    CVPS Cow Power [Macromedia Flash Player] http://www.cvps.com/cowpower/Cow Power home.html

    The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy http://www.ashdenawards.org/


    Color Theory Tutorial --- http://www.worqx.com/color/


    From The Washington Post on November 9, 2006

    Which country was added this year to the Reporters Without Borders list of "Internet enemies"?

    A. Venezuela
    B. Nepal
    C. Egypt
    D. Libya
     


    When I was a kid the only invisible ink we new how to use was lemon juice. The East German scientists were more sophisticated.

    "Cold War Caper Revisited," PhysOrg, November 7, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82134115.html

    Two Michigan State University researchers are the first to unlock the secrets of the invisible ink used by East Germany's secret police force, the Stasi, and in the process have mixed a batch of chemistry, history and mystery to teach students.

    Kristie Macrakis, a historian of science, and Ryan Sweeder, a chemist, both of MSU's Lyman Briggs School of Science, teamed up to piece together the once-secret chemical formula for behind the Stasi's invisible ink.

    "Secret writing is a classic method of communication for spies," Macrakis said. "This is a high-level formula. It's not just lemon juice. It's much more sophisticated."

    The Stasi's technique of transferring top-secret messages worked like a piece of carbon paper. An agent would place a piece of paper impregnated with the chemical cerium oxalate between two pieces of plain paper. As the agent pressed down to write, the chemical was transferred to the piece of paper beneath.

    The person on the receiving end of the message then developed the note with a solution of manganese sulfate, hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals. The process activated the cerium oxalate to reveal the hidden text. A successful reaction yielded orange writing.

    "From a chemical standpoint, this is very cool," Sweeder said.

    The Stasi – the former East German Ministry for State Security – was created, in part, by Soviet KGB agents shortly after World War II. At that time, Germany was divided into two regions: the communist controlled East Germany and the democratic West. Stasi functioned as both internal security unit and foreign intelligence officers.

    "It's like having the CIA and the FBI under one roof," Macrakis said.

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the confidential archives of the Stasi were declassified. A few years later Macrakis discovered in those archives the incomplete formula for the secret ink and development process.

    Continued in article


    "Microsoft Access and Macintosh," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2006; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/mossberg_mailbox.html

    Q: I have an old H-P notebook and am thinking of replacing it with a Mac. However, I use Microsoft Access to keep all the information of my clients and I was told by a friend that the Microsoft Office suite on a Mac doesn't have MS Access. Is this true? If so, what do you suggest I should do? I mainly use Access and email.

    A: Your friend is correct. Microsoft doesn't make a Mac version of Access, and while there are some database programs for the Mac, there's nothing I know of that's exactly like Access or is fully and easily compatible with it. You could install Windows on your new Mac and boot into Windows when you need to run Access. In my tests of Apple's Boot Camp software for running Windows on a Mac, Access ran quickly and well.

    However, I suggest that you avoid the Mac and buy a Windows machine. If your main use of your computer is to run a single program that only works in Windows, that means that, even with a Mac, you'll be spending most of your time in the Windows environment, and won't gain many of the advantages of the Mac operating system and its tight integration with the Mac hardware. So, you might as well just buy another H-P or a Dell or Lenovo.


    A Cell Phone Service With Ernestine on the Line --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_Tomlin
    This week, we tested two new cellphones and a new cellphone service designed to address this problem, by placing simplicity and ease-of-use first. These $150 phones are called Jitterbugs, and they come from a Del Mar, Calif., company called GreatCall Inc. Its phones are physically and functionally different, emphasizing easy navigation with large buttons and simple menus. And its service includes an operator who acts as a concierge, optionally placing calls for you and even remotely adding numbers to your phone's contact list.
    "Simplifying the Cellphone Experience:  New Models and Service Address the Anxiety Factor; Jitterbug With a Dial Tone," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2006; Page D9 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/the_mossberg_solution.html


    "GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms,"  by Matt Crenson, SmartPros, October 30, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55312.xml

    David M. Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed."

    But Walker doesn't want, or need, your vote this November. He already has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government.

    Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin.

    From the hustings and the airwaves this campaign season, America's political class can be heard debating Capitol Hill sex scandals, the wisdom of the war in Iraq and which party is tougher on terror. Democrats and Republicans talk of cutting taxes to make life easier for the American people.

    What they don't talk about is a dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows, or at least should. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it.

    There's a good reason politicians don't like to talk about the nation's long-term fiscal prospects. The subject is short on political theatrics and long on complicated economics, scary graphs and very big numbers. It reveals serious problems and offers no easy solutions. Anybody who wanted to deal with it seriously would have to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits, nasty nostrums that might doom any candidate who prescribed them.

    "There's no sexiness to it," laments Leita Hart-Fanta, an accountant who has just heard Walker's pitch. She suggests recruiting a trusted celebrity - maybe Oprah - to sell fiscal responsibility to the American people.

    Walker doesn't want to make balancing the federal government's books sexy - he just wants to make it politically palatable. He has committed to touring the nation through the 2008 elections, talking to anybody who will listen about the fiscal black hole Washington has dug itself, the "demographic tsunami" that will come when the baby boom generation begins retiring and the recklessness of borrowing money from foreign lenders to pay for the operation of the U.S. government.

    "He can speak forthrightly and independently because his job is not in jeopardy if he tells the truth," said Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

    Walker can talk in public about the nation's impending fiscal crisis because he has one of the most secure jobs in Washington. As comptroller general of the United States - basically, the government's chief accountant - he is serving a 15-year term that runs through 2013.

    This year Walker has spoken to the Union League Club of Chicago and the Rotary Club of Atlanta, the Sons of the American Revolution and the World Future Society. But the backbone of his campaign has been the Fiscal Wake-up Tour, a traveling roadshow of economists and budget analysts who share Walker's concern for the nation's budgetary future.

    "You can't solve a problem until the majority of the people believe you have a problem that needs to be solved," Walker says.

    Polls suggest that Americans have only a vague sense of their government's long-term fiscal prospects. When pollsters ask Americans to name the most important problem facing America today - as a CBS News/New York Times poll of 1,131 Americans did in September - issues such as the war in Iraq, terrorism, jobs and the economy are most frequently mentioned. The deficit doesn't even crack the top 10.

    Yet on the rare occasions that pollsters ask directly about the deficit, at least some people appear to recognize it as a problem. In a survey of 807 Americans last year by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, 42 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit should be a top priority; another 38 percent said it was important but a lower priority.

    So the majority of the public appears to agree with Walker that the deficit is a serious problem, but only when they're made to think about it. Walker's challenge is to get people not just to think about it, but to pressure politicians to make the hard choices that are needed to keep the situation from spiraling out of control.

    To show that the looming fiscal crisis is not a partisan issue, he brings along economists and budget analysts from across the political spectrum. In Austin, he's accompanied by Diane Lim Rogers, a liberal economist from the Brookings Institution, and Alison Acosta Fraser, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

    "We all agree on what the choices are and what the numbers are," Fraser says.

    Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion or more, adjusted for inflation. That's almost as much as the total net worth of every person in America - Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and those Google guys included.

    A hole that big could paralyze the U.S. economy; according to some projections, just the interest payments on a debt that big would be as much as all the taxes the government collects today.

    And every year that nothing is done about it, Walker says, the problem grows by $2 trillion to $3 trillion.

    People who remember Ross Perot's rants in the 1992 presidential election may think of the federal debt as a problem of the past. But it never really went away after Perot made it an issue, it only took a breather. The federal government actually produced a surplus for a few years during the 1990s, thanks to a booming economy and fiscal restraint imposed by laws that were passed early in the decade. And though the federal debt has grown in dollar terms since 2001, it hasn't grown dramatically relative to the size of the economy.

    But that's about to change, thanks to the country's three big entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicaid and especially Medicare. Medicaid and Medicare have grown progressively more expensive as the cost of health care has dramatically outpaced inflation over the past 30 years, a trend that is expected to continue for at least another decade or two.

    And with the first baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security in 2008 and for Medicare in 2011, the expenses of those two programs are about to increase dramatically due to demographic pressures. People are also living longer, which makes any program that provides benefits to retirees more expensive.

    Medicare already costs four times as much as it did in 1970, measured as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product. It currently comprises 13 percent of federal spending; by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office projects it will consume nearly a quarter of the budget.

    Economists Jagadeesh Gokhale of the American Enterprise Institute and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania have an even scarier way of looking at Medicare. Their method calculates the program's long-term fiscal shortfall - the annual difference between its dedicated revenues and costs - over time.

    By 2030 they calculate Medicare will be about $5 trillion in the hole, measured in 2004 dollars. By 2080, the fiscal imbalance will have risen to $25 trillion. And when you project the gap out to an infinite time horizon, it reaches $60 trillion.

    Medicare so dominates the nation's fiscal future that some economists believe health care reform, rather than budget measures, is the best way to attack the problem.

    "Obviously health care is a mess," says Dean Baker, a liberal economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank. "No one's been willing to touch it, but that's what I see as front and center."

    Social Security is a much less serious problem. The program currently pays for itself with a 12.4 percent payroll tax, and even produces a surplus that the government raids every year to pay other bills. But Social Security will begin to run deficits during the next century, and ultimately would need an infusion of $8 trillion if the government planned to keep its promises to every beneficiary.

    Calculations by Boston University economist Lawrence Kotlikoff indicate that closing those gaps - $8 trillion for Social Security, many times that for Medicare - and paying off the existing deficit would require either an immediate doubling of personal and corporate income taxes, a two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits, or some combination of the two.

    Why is America so fiscally unprepared for the next century? Like many of its citizens, the United States has spent the last few years racking up debt instead of saving for the future. Foreign lenders - primarily the central banks of China, Japan and other big U.S. trading partners - have been eager to lend the government money at low interest rates, making the current $8.5-trillion deficit about as painful as a big balance on a zero-percent credit card.

    In her part of the fiscal wake-up tour presentation, Rogers tries to explain why that's a bad thing. For one thing, even when rates are low a bigger deficit means a greater portion of each tax dollar goes to interest payments rather than useful programs. And because foreigners now hold so much of the federal government's debt, those interest payments increasingly go overseas rather than to U.S. investors.

    More serious is the possibility that foreign lenders might lose their enthusiasm for lending money to the United States. Because treasury bills are sold at auction, that would mean paying higher interest rates in the future. And it wouldn't just be the government's problem. All interest rates would rise, making mortgages, car payments and student loans costlier, too.

    A modest rise in interest rates wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, Rogers said. America's consumers have as much of a borrowing problem as their government does, so higher rates could moderate overconsumption and encourage consumer saving. But a big jump in interest rates could cause economic catastrophe. Some economists even predict the government would resort to printing money to pay off its debt, a risky strategy that could lead to runaway inflation.

    Macroeconomic meltdown is probably preventable, says Anjan Thakor, a professor of finance at Washington University in St. Louis. But to keep it at bay, he said, the government is essentially going to have to renegotiate some of the promises it has made to its citizens, probably by some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts.

    But there's no way to avoid what Rogers considers the worst result of racking up a big deficit - the outrage of making our children and grandchildren repay the debts of their elders.

    "It's an unfair burden for future generations," she says.

    You'd think young people would be riled up over this issue, since they're the ones who will foot the bill when they're out in the working world. But students take more interest in issues like the Iraq war and gay marriage than the federal government's finances, says Emma Vernon, a member of the University of Texas Young Democrats.

    "It's not something that can fire people up," she says.

    The current political climate doesn't help. Washington tends to keep its fiscal house in better order when one party controls Congress and the other is in the White House, says Sawhill.

    "It's kind of a paradoxical result. Your commonsense logic would tell you if one party is in control of everything they should be able to take action," Sawhill says.

    But the last six years of Republican rule have produced tax cuts, record spending increases and a Medicare prescription drug plan that has been widely criticized as fiscally unsound. When President Clinton faced a Republican Congress during the 1990s, spending limits and other legislative tools helped produce a surplus.

    So maybe a solution is at hand.

    "We're likely to have at least partially divided government again," Sawhill said, referring to predictions that the Democrats will capture the House, and possibly the Senate, in next month's elections.

    But Walker isn't optimistic that the government will be able to tackle its fiscal challenges so soon.

    "Realistically what we hope to accomplish through the fiscal wake-up tour is ensure that any serious candidate for the presidency in 2008 will be forced to deal with the issue," he says. "The best we're going to get in the next couple of years is to slow the bleeding."

    Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm


    Another Earnings Smoothing Fraud

    "SEC CHARGES FORMER CEO AND TWO FORMER EXECUTIVES AFFILIATED WITH RENAISSANCERE HOLDINGS LTD. WITH SECURITIES FRAUD," AccountingEducation.com, October 26, 2006 --- http://accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=newsdetails&id=143780

    The Securities and Exchange Commission on September 27, 2006 announced securities fraud charges against James N. Stanard and Martin J. Merritt, the former CEO and former controller, respectively, of RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. (RenRe) and also against Michael W. Cash, a former senior executive of RenRe's wholly-owned subsidiary, Renaissance Reinsurance Ltd. The complaint, filed in the federal court in Manhattan, alleges that Stanard, Merritt, and Cash structured and executed a sham transaction that had no economic substance and no purpose other than to smooth and defer over $26 million of RenRe's earnings from 2001 to 2002 and 2003. The Commission also announced a partial settlement of its charges against Merritt, who has consented to the entry of an antifraud injunction and other relief.

    Mark K. Schonfeld, Director of the Commission's Northeast Regional Office, said, "This is another case arising from our ongoing investigation of the misuse of finite reinsurance to commit securities fraud. The defendants enabled RenRe to take excess revenue from one good year and, in effect, 'park' it with a counterparty so it would be available to bring back in a future year when the company's financial picture was not as bright."

    Andrew M. Calamari, Associate Director of the Commission's Northeast Regional Office, said, "The investing public relies upon senior executives of public companies not to engage in transactions that are designed to misstate their companies' financial statements. Today's enforcement action underscores that the Commission will pursue culpable senior officials who are instrumental in constructing fraudulent transactions."

    The Defendants

    RenRe's Fraud

    The Commission alleges that Stanard, Merritt and Cash committed fraud in connection with a sham transaction that they concocted to smooth RenRe's earnings. The complaint concerns two seemingly separate, unrelated contracts that were, in fact, intertwined. Together, the contracts created a round trip of cash. In the first contract, RenRe purported to assign at a discount $50 million of recoverables due to RenRe under certain industry loss warranty contracts to Inter-Ocean Reinsurance Company, Ltd. in exchange for $30 million in cash, for a net transfer to Inter-Ocean of $20 million. RenRe recorded income of $30 million upon executing the assignment agreement. The remaining $20 million of its $50 million assignment became part of a "bank" or "cookie jar" that RenRe used in later periods to bolster income.

    The second contract was a purported reinsurance agreement with Inter-Ocean that was, in fact, a vehicle to refund to RenRe the $20 million transferred under the assignment agreement plus the purported insurance premium paid under the reinsurance agreement. This reinsurance agreement was a complete sham. Not only was RenRe certain to meet the conditions for coverage; it also would receive back all of the money paid to Inter-Ocean under the agreements plus investment income earned on the money in the interim, less transactional fees and costs.

    RenRe accounted for the sham transaction as if it involved a real reinsurance contract that transferred risk from RenRe to Inter-Ocean when in fact, the complaint alleges, each of these individuals knew that this was not true. Merritt and Stanard also misrepresented or omitted certain key facts about the transaction to RenRe's auditors. As a result of RenRe's accounting treatment for this transaction, RenRe materially understated income in 2001 and materially overstated income in 2002, at which time it made a "claim" under the "reinsurance" agreement. It then received as apparent reinsurance proceeds the funds it had paid to Inter-Ocean and that Inter-Ocean held in a trust for RenRe's benefit.

    On Feb. 22, 2005, RenRe issued a press release announcing that it would restate its financial statements for the years ended Dec. 31, 2001, 2002 and 2003. On March 31, 2005, RenRe filed its Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2004, which contained restated financial statements for those years. Stanard signed and certified the 2004 Form 10-K. Both the press release and the Form 10-K attributed the restatement of the Inter-Ocean transaction to accounting "errors" due to "the timing of the recognition of Inter-Ocean reinsurance recoverables." These statements were misleading. In fact, the transaction contained no real reinsurance and the company's restated financial statements accounted for the transaction as if it had never occurred. In short, the entire transaction was a sham, and the company failed to disclose that fact and misrepresented the reasons for the restatement.

    The Commission's Charges

    The Commission's complaint charges Stanard, Merritt and Cash with securities fraud in violation of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5(a), (b) and (c) of the Exchange Act; with violating the reporting, books-and-records and internal control provisions of Exchange Act Section 13(b)(5) and Rule 13b2-1; and with aiding and abetting RenRe's violations of Exchange Act Sections 10(b), 13(a) and 13(b)(2) and Exchange Act Rules 10b-5(a), (b) and (c), 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13. In addition, the complaint charges Stanard and Merritt with violating Exchange Act Rule 13b2-2 for making materially false statements to RenRe's auditors and charges Stanard with violating Exchange Act Rule 13a-14 for certifying financial statements filed with the Commission that he knew contained materially false and misleading information. The complaint seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, if any, plus prejudgment interest, civil money penalties, and orders barring each defendant from acting as an officer or director of any public company.

    Partial Resolution

    Merritt agreed to partially settle the Commission's claims against him. In addition to undertaking to cooperate fully with the Commission, and without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Merritt consented to a partial final judgment that, upon entry by the court, will permanently enjoin him from violating or aiding or abetting future violations of the securities laws, bar him from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and defer the determination of civil penalties and disgorgement to a later date. Merritt also agreed to a Commission administrative order, based on the injunction, barring him from appearing or practicing before the Commission as an accountant, under Rule 102(e) of the Commission's Rules of Practice. Merritt was a certified public accountant licensed to practice in Massachusetts.

    The independent auditor caught up in this fraud is Ernst & Young. You can read more about Ernst & Young's troubles at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Ernst

    Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


    Question
    How do faculty aid oligopoly textbook publishers in ripping off students?

    "Textbook Report — a New Edition," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, October 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/31/textbooks

    The fall rush to buy textbooks is over, but a campaign led by the State Public Interest Research Groups to rally against the practices of the college textbook publishing industry is not.

    In a report released today that is largely a summary of previous findings, PIRG accuses publishers of undermining the used book market and unnecessarily inflating prices. Studies show that the cost of textbooks is rising faster than the rate of inflation, and the price issue has gained traction with at least one lawmaker this year.

    “Required Reading: A Look at the Worst Publishing Tactics at Work,” and a preceding report, released in August, are part of the Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign. The latest report draws on anecdotal information from bookstore managers and faculty members across the country, and includes examples (identifying colleges, publisher names and book titles) of practices that PIRG says drive up textbook costs for students.

    Among the culprits, according to PIRG: professors who customize their own textbooks by choosing the material to include. The report says that while custom books are often less expensive to purchase, the texts are so particular to an instructor or a college that they have no value in the greater used book market.

    “There is no chance for sale on Amazon or eBay, and some books have built-in workbook pages,” said Sabrina Case, affordable textbooks coordinator for the PIRGs. “Students can’t recoup their expenses. If our responses are any indication, custom books are a major concern.”

    Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education at the Association of American Publishers, blasted the report’s lack of empirical data or independent information, saying that it “reeks of desperation” and is another case of PIRG cherry-picking examples that are largely exceptions to the rules.

    Hildebrand said many custom books — and particularly those that are used by professors who teach courses year after year — are designed to be resold. “Custom books don’t go into the wholesale used book cycle — so what?” Hildebrand said. “If the faculty member chooses the material, it’s more likely to be used again on the same campus. If that’s not the best of both worlds, I don’t know what is.”

    Hildebrand said that students’ complaints tend to be less about price than use — that they are getting a poor value because their professors assign only a portion of a book. Custom books meet the demand for effective use of material and lower cost, he added.

    A report put out by the publishers’ organization earlier this fall showed that by a 17 to 1 ratio, professors weigh the academic merits of a textbook more strongly than they do its price. The PIRG report says that “faculty should give preference to the lowest cost option when the educational content is comparable.”

    “Valuable books can be affordable,” Case added. “The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”

    The report summarizes many of the concerns that PIRG and other groups have about the publishing industry, including the practices of bundling additional material (such as CD-ROMs) with textbooks and of introducing new textbook editions that have few substantive updates.

    Among the report’s suggestions are that:

    Case said that some textbooks are bound with material that includes an identification number used for finding online material for the class. Once that code comes off the book, she said the next student can’t access the same material, thus eliminating the buy-back potential.

    Hildebrand said publishers that put out books with electronic keys generally allow students to access the same homework assignment for multiple semesters. And as for bundling: “There’s no way to compare streamlined paperback versions with little or no art with hardbound for-color editions with massive supplements,” he said. “It’s like saying a computer that comes with software costs more. Well, yeah.”

    PIRG and the publishers’ group have been at odds for months over the interest group’s recent campaign. Citing data from the State PIRGs, that report said that students spend an average of $900 a year on books. But the publishers’ association, in Why PIRG is Wrong,” called out PIRG for misleading readers — saying that a 2005 GAO study shows that the $900 amount also includes fees. Another national research group has estimated that books alone amount to roughly $650 a year per student.

    The latest PIRG report again uses $900, and Case said the group stands by its own research and the original figure.

    Bob Jensen's threads on oligopoly textbook publisher frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#ScholarlyJournals


    National Recreation and Park Association: Sports & Health Network
    http://www.nrpa.org/newsletter/templateViewer.aspx?templateId=3

    A great site for hikers --- http://www.traildatabase.org/

    Bob Jensen's travel helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Travel


    Anger From 1 Ripoff + 2 MBAs
    Here's how Jon Dugan's business idea was born: Last year, Dugan, a student at the University of Maryland, went to a used-video-game store with his brother and a pile of Xbox games. For a stack of 17 used titles, they got $34 in store credit. Out of curiosity, the two went back to the store the next day. The games they traded in had been put on the shelves with prices ranging from $12.99 to $32.99. "We got ripped off," said Dugan, 23.
    Mike Musgrove, "Anger From 1 Ripoff + 2 MBAs = a Game Plan," The Washington Post, November 6, 2006; Page D01 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/05/AR2006110500815.html?referrer=email 


    A New Accounting System for Collegiate Sports Reporting to the NCAA

    "Urging Presidents to Step Up," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, October 31, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/31/ncaa

    What the NCAA can do, Brand and the task force argue, is to arm campus leaders with the best possible financial information to guide their decision making, using a new accounting system under which sports programs would be required to report financial information to the NCAA using a common set of definitions aimed at teasing out more precisely what colleges spend on sports programs. For the first time, the reports would include capital expenditures and athletics departments’ “indirect” share of costs, for such things as energy and security, that might be borne by the institutions. Campuses would have to get independent, third-party verification of the “accuracy and completeness” of the data they submit.

    That new system, combined with a set of other financial reporting requirements, would arm presidents with clear, concise and comparable data with which to make informed and thoughtful decisions. But then they must use it, the task force said, with the goal of ensuring that athletics expenditures fall into line with other spending on campuses. “Presidents must use these data to align athletics budgeting with institutional mission to to strengthen the enterprise,” the task force wrote. “In effect, this is where presidential leadership and institutional accountability take hold.”

    Presidents alone cannot ensure financial accountability and the broader integration of athletics into the campus culture the task force calls for, though, the report suggests. Trustees and regents must delegate responsibility for managing sports programs to presidents, and not “compete with presidents for management of the program,” Brand said in his speech. Faculty members, who the task force report says are too often “uninformed” and “biased” and “attack athletics unfairly” (comments that rubbed quite a few faculty readers of the report the wrong way) should be more involved in oversight of sports programs — “as fully engaged in providing advice on planning and financial issues in athletics [as they are in] other parts of the campus.”

    The report is vague about what kinds of changes campus presidents should be considering to slow the rate of sports spending, but in an interview, Brand said he could see individual campus chief executives concluding that an athletics department’s staff is bigger than it needs to be to accomplish its goals or that building that new stadium, and accumulating huge debt service, is unwise.

    The task force report also offers a set of other “best practices” — rather than binding recommendations or mandates — aimed at better integrating sports programs with other departments on campus, including adding athletics directors to their presidents’ cabinets and restructuring so that academic advisers for athletes report to academic, rather than athletic, administrators.

    Many observers of college sports welcomed Brand’s speech and the task force’s report as some of the more forceful statements about the need for change in big-time college sports to emerge from the NCAA itself. Groups of college presidents, like the American Council on Education and the Association of American Universities, stepped forward to praise the work of their members (which, perhaps not surprisingly, were trumpeted on the NCAA’s own Web site).

    Continued in article

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


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

    Latest Headlines on November 1, 2006

    Latest Headlines on November 6, 2006

    Latest Headlines on November 7, 2006

    Latest Headlines on November 8, 2006


    Be Thankful When You Get a Fever
    Don't Fight It Unless It Gets Too High or Your Doctor Prescribes Otherwise

    Nobody likes coming down with a fever, but feeling hot may do a body good. Researchers report online 5 November in Nature Immunology that a fever in mice revs up the immune response by helping white blood cells enter lymph nodes, where they join the battle against microbial invaders.
    Jocelyn Kaiser, "Don't Fight the Fever," Science Magazine, November 7, 2006 --- http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/1107/1


    Break out the sardines:  Men who eat a lot of fatty fish run a lower risk of prostate cancer, concludes a new research paper from Karolinska Institutet (Sweden). The effect is likely to be attributable to the abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, although there is also a hereditary factor.

    In Sweden, prostate cancer is by far the most common form of cancer; in countries such as China and Japan, it is much rarer. Just why the risk of developing the disease is country-dependent is hard to know for certain, but one reason could be differences in dietary habits. Substances that have often been identified as important in this context are EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in abundance in fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel. In cell experiments, scientists have seen that omega-3 fatty acids can prevent the development of cancer, but the exact value of having an omega-3-rich diet remains an open question. To find out whether omega-3 fatty acids in food affect the chances of developing cancer, scientists asked 1,500 Swedish men with diagnosed prostate cancer about their eating habits and then compared the answers with a healthy control group. The results strongly support the hypothesis of the healthiness of omega-3 fatty acids. Men who eat salmon more than once a week run a 43 per cent less chance of developing prostate cancer than men who never eat salmon. The scientists also analysed blood tests to find any genetic factors behind prostate cancer. Their results show that men who carried a special variant of the COX-2 gene were the only ones to benefit from the protective properties of fatty fish. The group of men who carried this gene variant and who often ate salmon had a 72 per cent lower chance than men who never ate fatty fish.
    "Fatty fish protects against prostate cancer," PhysOrg, October 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news81526973.html


    Pomegranates: Jewels in the Fruit Crown
    Full of healthy antioxidants and vitamins, pomegranates are the new superfood. The ancient fruit has a rich history in art, medicine and religion -- and many uses. Bonny Wolf shares some of her favorites.
    "Pomegranates: Jewels in the Fruit Crown," NPR, November 1, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6411097


    "Gender Inequality, Not Promiscuity, Main Factor in Sexual Health," by Daniel DeNoon, WebMD, October 31, 2006 ---
    http://www.webmd.com/content/article/129/117331

    We can't blame it on the kids. The first global analysis of sex-behavior data shows no evidence of a trend toward youthful promiscuity.

    The report -- based on surveys from 59 nations -- also shows no support for the common notion that there is a culture of multiple sexual partners in countries with poor sexual health. Multiple sexual partners, it turns out, are more common in industrialized than in developing nations.

    So why is sexual health such a huge problem? The study suggests that unequal treatment of girls and women as the major sexual-health issue.

    Kaye Wellings, FRCOG, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues report the findings as part of The Lancet's Sexual and Reproductive Health Online Series, published Nov. 1.

    "People who fear a tide of youthful promiscuity might take heart from the fact that trends towards early and premarital sex are neither as pronounced nor as prevalent as is sometimes assumed," Wellings and colleagues suggest. "The data make a powerful case for an intervention focus on the broader determinants of sexual health, such as poverty and mobility, but especially gender inequality."

    Some of the survey's major findings:

  • While there is no major trend toward earlier sexual experience, a trend toward later marriage has led to an increase in premarital sex.
  • Married people have more sex than unmarried people do.
  • Sexual activity among single people is more common in industrialized countries than in developing countries.
  • First sexual experience is often forced or sold.
  • Monogamy is the dominant pattern in most parts of the world. Men report more multiple partnerships than do women. Such men are more likely to live in developed nations.
  • Marriage is no safeguard of sexual health. It is more difficult for married women to negotiate safe sex and condom use than it is for single women.
  • Among girls who marry at a very young age, "very early sexual experience within marriage can be coercive and traumatic."
  • Condom use is increasing, but condom-use rates remain low in many developing countries.
  • Public health measures to improve sexual health should focus not only on individual behaviors but also on broader issues such as gender, poverty, and mobility.
  • Public-health messages intended to reduce sexual risk-taking "should respect diversity and preserve choice."
  • School-based sexual education delays and does not hasten onset of sexual activity.

    Based on the evidence they uncover, Wellings and colleagues come to what many will find to be a controversial conclusion.

    "The selection of public-health messages needs to be guided by epidemiological evidence rather than myths and moral stances," they conclude. "The greatest challenge to sexual-health promotion in almost all countries comes from opposition from conservative forces to harm-reduction strategies."

    The researchers call for providing sexual health services to unmarried young women, supplying condoms, decriminalizing commercial sex and homosexual sex, and prosecuting the perpetrators of sexual violence.

    "To do otherwise will force stigmatized behaviors underground, leaving the most vulnerable people unprotected," Wellings and colleagues argue. "Sexuality is an essential part of human nature and its expression needs to be affirmed rather than denied if public-health messages are to be heeded."


  • Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) --- http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm
             Also see http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations.html


    Emphasis on Alzheimer's Cure Debated
    Today, a lot of research money is dedicated to a search for cures and new drugs for Alzheimer's. Some, like Peter Whitehouse, think that's not the right priority. Whitehouse, a physician at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, says his research has given him second thoughts about the emphasis on finding a cure. "Care needs to be dominant over cure, but it's not," Whitehouse says.
    Joseph Shapiro, "Emphasis on Alzheimer's Cure Debated," NPR, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6430300


    Part cow, part human embryo bid by British scientists
    Scientists in Britain applied Monday for permission to create part cow, part human embryos to be used in research on treating diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
    "Part cow, part human embryo bid by British scientists," PhysOrg, November 6, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82055192.html


    U.S. scientists say they are working on research that might lead to the first diagnostic test to guide the treatment of depression.

    Finding an effective treatment for depression is often a matter of trial and error. Although there are numerous drugs available, finding the right one -- or right combination -- can be a long and frustrating process. Studies released earlier this year suggested about 60 percent of patients are not helped by the first drug they are given. Because antidepressants have a delayed onset of action, the doctor and patient don't learn if a given drug is effective for several weeks after the drug is prescribed. Now Weill Cornell Medical College researchers -- led by psychiatrist Francis Lee -- say they are creating a diagnostic test involving sampling the patient's DNA and looking for a variant of the gene coding a protein called "Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor" or BDNF. If the patient has the variant, then it is unlikely the patient would respond to treatment with the most commonly used class of drugs, which include fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), paroxetine (Paxil ) and sertraline (Zoloft).
    "Depression treatment diagnostics studied," PhysOrg, October 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news81534351.html
     


    Australia's Senate narrowly voted Tuesday to lift the country's ban on cloning human embryos for stem cell research

    The bill, which was approved 34-32, would relax rules on stem cell research and allow therapeutic cloning of embryos for medical research. The House of Representatives still needs to pass the bill before it becomes law, but lawmakers had expected the Senate to pose the biggest hurdle. Scientists hope stem cell research will eventually lead to treatments or cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as well as spinal cord injuries, diabetes and arthritis. The emotional debate on the legislation introduced by a former health minister, Sen. Kay Patterson, began Monday.
    PhysOrg, November 7, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82116400.html


    A team of French and Swiss scientists said Tuesday they had discovered a hunger gene in mice that could pave the way for treatments for obesity or alcoholism.

    The research based on laboratory tests in mice was published in the scientific journal Current Biology, it added. The gene called "Per 2" acts throughout the body and on the brain, generating signals warning of hunger, partly based on a notion of time, the university said. The biochemists, Urs Albrecht, a professor at Fribourg and Etienne Challet of the Louis Pasteur University, managed to diminish and even cut off the signals of hunger in their experiments.
    "Scientists discover hunger gene," PhysOrg, October 31, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news81519729.html


    Looming Economic Disaster and Recommendations for Better Accounting of the Titanic's Deck Chairs
    Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm

    "GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms,"  by Matt Crenson, SmartPros, October 30, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55312.xml

    David M. Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed."

    But Walker doesn't want, or need, your vote this November. He already has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government.

    Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin.

    From the hustings and the airwaves this campaign season, America's political class can be heard debating Capitol Hill sex scandals, the wisdom of the war in Iraq and which party is tougher on terror. Democrats and Republicans talk of cutting taxes to make life easier for the American people.

    What they don't talk about is a dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows, or at least should. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it.

    There's a good reason politicians don't like to talk about the nation's long-term fiscal prospects. The subject is short on political theatrics and long on complicated economics, scary graphs and very big numbers. It reveals serious problems and offers no easy solutions. Anybody who wanted to deal with it seriously would have to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits, nasty nostrums that might doom any candidate who prescribed them.

    "There's no sexiness to it," laments Leita Hart-Fanta, an accountant who has just heard Walker's pitch. She suggests recruiting a trusted celebrity - maybe Oprah - to sell fiscal responsibility to the American people.

    Walker doesn't want to make balancing the federal government's books sexy - he just wants to make it politically palatable. He has committed to touring the nation through the 2008 elections, talking to anybody who will listen about the fiscal black hole Washington has dug itself, the "demographic tsunami" that will come when the baby boom generation begins retiring and the recklessness of borrowing money from foreign lenders to pay for the operation of the U.S. government.

    "He can speak forthrightly and independently because his job is not in jeopardy if he tells the truth," said Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

    Walker can talk in public about the nation's impending fiscal crisis because he has one of the most secure jobs in Washington. As comptroller general of the United States - basically, the government's chief accountant - he is serving a 15-year term that runs through 2013.

    This year Walker has spoken to the Union League Club of Chicago and the Rotary Club of Atlanta, the Sons of the American Revolution and the World Future Society. But the backbone of his campaign has been the Fiscal Wake-up Tour, a traveling roadshow of economists and budget analysts who share Walker's concern for the nation's budgetary future.

    "You can't solve a problem until the majority of the people believe you have a problem that needs to be solved," Walker says.

    Polls suggest that Americans have only a vague sense of their government's long-term fiscal prospects. When pollsters ask Americans to name the most important problem facing America today - as a CBS News/New York Times poll of 1,131 Americans did in September - issues such as the war in Iraq, terrorism, jobs and the economy are most frequently mentioned. The deficit doesn't even crack the top 10.

    Yet on the rare occasions that pollsters ask directly about the deficit, at least some people appear to recognize it as a problem. In a survey of 807 Americans last year by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, 42 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit should be a top priority; another 38 percent said it was important but a lower priority.

    So the majority of the public appears to agree with Walker that the deficit is a serious problem, but only when they're made to think about it. Walker's challenge is to get people not just to think about it, but to pressure politicians to make the hard choices that are needed to keep the situation from spiraling out of control.

    To show that the looming fiscal crisis is not a partisan issue, he brings along economists and budget analysts from across the political spectrum. In Austin, he's accompanied by Diane Lim Rogers, a liberal economist from the Brookings Institution, and Alison Acosta Fraser, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

    "We all agree on what the choices are and what the numbers are," Fraser says.

    Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion or more, adjusted for inflation. That's almost as much as the total net worth of every person in America - Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and those Google guys included.

    A hole that big could paralyze the U.S. economy; according to some projections, just the interest payments on a debt that big would be as much as all the taxes the government collects today.

    And every year that nothing is done about it, Walker says, the problem grows by $2 trillion to $3 trillion.

    People who remember Ross Perot's rants in the 1992 presidential election may think of the federal debt as a problem of the past. But it never really went away after Perot made it an issue, it only took a breather. The federal government actually produced a surplus for a few years during the 1990s, thanks to a booming economy and fiscal restraint imposed by laws that were passed early in the decade. And though the federal debt has grown in dollar terms since 2001, it hasn't grown dramatically relative to the size of the economy.

    But that's about to change, thanks to the country's three big entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicaid and especially Medicare. Medicaid and Medicare have grown progressively more expensive as the cost of health care has dramatically outpaced inflation over the past 30 years, a trend that is expected to continue for at least another decade or two.

    And with the first baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security in 2008 and for Medicare in 2011, the expenses of those two programs are about to increase dramatically due to demographic pressures. People are also living longer, which makes any program that provides benefits to retirees more expensive.

    Medicare already costs four times as much as it did in 1970, measured as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product. It currently comprises 13 percent of federal spending; by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office projects it will consume nearly a quarter of the budget.

    Economists Jagadeesh Gokhale of the American Enterprise Institute and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania have an even scarier way of looking at Medicare. Their method calculates the program's long-term fiscal shortfall - the annual difference between its dedicated revenues and costs - over time.

    By 2030 they calculate Medicare will be about $5 trillion in the hole, measured in 2004 dollars. By 2080, the fiscal imbalance will have risen to $25 trillion. And when you project the gap out to an infinite time horizon, it reaches $60 trillion.

    Medicare so dominates the nation's fiscal future that some economists believe health care reform, rather than budget measures, is the best way to attack the problem.

    "Obviously health care is a mess," says Dean Baker, a liberal economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank. "No one's been willing to touch it, but that's what I see as front and center."

    Social Security is a much less serious problem. The program currently pays for itself with a 12.4 percent payroll tax, and even produces a surplus that the government raids every year to pay other bills. But Social Security will begin to run deficits during the next century, and ultimately would need an infusion of $8 trillion if the government planned to keep its promises to every beneficiary.

    Calculations by Boston University economist Lawrence Kotlikoff indicate that closing those gaps - $8 trillion for Social Security, many times that for Medicare - and paying off the existing deficit would require either an immediate doubling of personal and corporate income taxes, a two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits, or some combination of the two.

    Why is America so fiscally unprepared for the next century? Like many of its citizens, the United States has spent the last few years racking up debt instead of saving for the future. Foreign lenders - primarily the central banks of China, Japan and other big U.S. trading partners - have been eager to lend the government money at low interest rates, making the current $8.5-trillion deficit about as painful as a big balance on a zero-percent credit card.

    In her part of the fiscal wake-up tour presentation, Rogers tries to explain why that's a bad thing. For one thing, even when rates are low a bigger deficit means a greater portion of each tax dollar goes to interest payments rather than useful programs. And because foreigners now hold so much of the federal government's debt, those interest payments increasingly go overseas rather than to U.S. investors.

    More serious is the possibility that foreign lenders might lose their enthusiasm for lending money to the United States. Because treasury bills are sold at auction, that would mean paying higher interest rates in the future. And it wouldn't just be the government's problem. All interest rates would rise, making mortgages, car payments and student loans costlier, too.

    A modest rise in interest rates wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, Rogers said. America's consumers have as much of a borrowing problem as their government does, so higher rates could moderate overconsumption and encourage consumer saving. But a big jump in interest rates could cause economic catastrophe. Some economists even predict the government would resort to printing money to pay off its debt, a risky strategy that could lead to runaway inflation.

    Macroeconomic meltdown is probably preventable, says Anjan Thakor, a professor of finance at Washington University in St. Louis. But to keep it at bay, he said, the government is essentially going to have to renegotiate some of the promises it has made to its citizens, probably by some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts.

    But there's no way to avoid what Rogers considers the worst result of racking up a big deficit - the outrage of making our children and grandchildren repay the debts of their elders.

    "It's an unfair burden for future generations," she says.

    You'd think young people would be riled up over this issue, since they're the ones who will foot the bill when they're out in the working world. But students take more interest in issues like the Iraq war and gay marriage than the federal government's finances, says Emma Vernon, a member of the University of Texas Young Democrats.

    "It's not something that can fire people up," she says.

    The current political climate doesn't help. Washington tends to keep its fiscal house in better order when one party controls Congress and the other is in the White House, says Sawhill.

    "It's kind of a paradoxical result. Your commonsense logic would tell you if one party is in control of everything they should be able to take action," Sawhill says.

    But the last six years of Republican rule have produced tax cuts, record spending increases and a Medicare prescription drug plan that has been widely criticized as fiscally unsound. When President Clinton faced a Republican Congress during the 1990s, spending limits and other legislative tools helped produce a surplus.

    So maybe a solution is at hand.

    "We're likely to have at least partially divided government again," Sawhill said, referring to predictions that the Democrats will capture the House, and possibly the Senate, in next month's elections.

    But Walker isn't optimistic that the government will be able to tackle its fiscal challenges so soon.

    "Realistically what we hope to accomplish through the fiscal wake-up tour is ensure that any serious candidate for the presidency in 2008 will be forced to deal with the issue," he says. "The best we're going to get in the next couple of years is to slow the bleeding."

    Jensen Comment
    China now holds over one trillion U.S. dollars in foreign exchange. The U.S. economy could be thrown into chaos if China converted those dollars into other currencies. This is not likely to happen in the near future because China depends increasingly on exports to the U.S. However, it does illustrate the power China already holds over the U.S. economy.

    Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm


    "Social Security Accounting Change Sought," by Andrew Taylor, SmartPros, October 25. 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55259.xml

    Advocates of a change in how the books are kept on future Social Security and Medicare benefits say Americans need a better sense of the government's fiscal health.

    The change, if approved, would have no impact on benefits themselves. It would, however, show just how much the social programs truly cost, which proponents say would highlight the need to find long-term fiscal fixes.

    The move is the brainchild of an obscure panel, the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, that is recommending how the government should maintain its books. Bush administration representatives on the board are adamantly opposed to the proposal and could kill it.

    The idea behind the proposal, which was detailed Monday in a 150-page document, is to present policymakers and the public with a better way to measure the spiraling costs of Social Security and the Medicare health program for the elderly.

    Social Security, for example, is running big surpluses now but faces bruising demographic changes in coming decades. Increasingly fewer workers are paying into the system for each retiree, and that will only worsen as the baby-boom generation retires over the coming years.

    Medicare is also facing a fiscal train wreck in coming decades because of similar demographic pressure combined with rapidly rising health care and prescription drug costs.

    Under current rules, the Social Security program is posted on the government's books as a cash transaction. Taxes and interest income are on the revenue side of the ledger, and benefit payments are on the spending side. Medicare is far more complicated.

    Promises of Social Security and Medicare benefits are seen by many as a binding contract. Taxpayers receive annual reports detailing their future benefit packages every year. Those who want the change argue that the promises should be put on the books right away.

    "Accounting is about recording the economic substance of a transaction or in this case the economic substance of the promise between the government and the taxpayers," board member Thomas Allen said.

    However, administration and other government officials on the advisory board say such a system wouldn't paint an accurate long-term fiscal picture. And, they say, current calculations of federal retirement benefits are in no way a legal contract like a private-sector pension plan.

    For starters, there's widespread agreement that benefits will eventually have to be curbed or payroll taxes raised to keep retirement costs from swamping taxpayers in coming decades. Benefit estimates are a political promise, not a legal one, opponents of the change argue.

    "Every mature American knows that we are going to have to adjust Social Security in the future," said Joe Minarik of the Committee on Economic Development, a business-funded think tank.

    Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker has been trumpeting the dangers of the looming budget crisis for years. He's part of a minority on the board that supports an alternative plan that would characterize the sustainability of social insurance programs. It would also, in effect, revive the idea of a Social Security "lockbox" and exclude present-day Social Security surpluses from deficit calculations.

    The proposal is a long way from being implemented. It's being sent out for public comment, and a second round of comments will be required before it's issued in final form. Though outnumbered now, the administration has a strong hand in the outcome since it has a veto over the final rule.

    Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm


    Question
    What is the FASAB?

    "Uncle Sam's Halloween," The Wall Street Journal,  October 30, 2006; Page A12 ---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116217217911207397.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    Want to have some fun this Halloween? Find a government accountant. You probably think there isn't a more unflappable person anywhere than one of the green-eyeshade boys. OK, now sneak up behind him and whisper "Medicare obligations" into his ear. Aaaagggghh! He'll go racing in the street, stark-raving mad with fright. Entitlement costs are Uncle Sam's permanent Halloween.

    Government and private accountants who worry about these costs belong to something called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, or Fasab, which sets government accounting standards. The nightmare that keeps these folks awake is that Congresses and Presidents have made entitlement promises for Social Security and Medicare so outsized, so outlandish and so unaffordable that the U.S. is, in theory, heading for the financial abyss. And no one cares!

    The head of the hopelessly mistitled Government Accountability Office, David M. Walker, is touring the country giving speeches about the impending fall of the financial sky. "You can't solve a problem until the majority of the people believe you have a problem that needs to be solved," Mr. Walker moans.

    The folks at Fasab have come up with an idea to focus the nation: They want the U.S. government to account for Social Security and Medicare not when people get a check, as now, but as people accrue the right to these payouts. The result would be huge new near-term budget deficits on the books. This presumably would produce a more "accurate" picture of America's fiscal condition. And of course the truly horrifying spectacle of all this red ink in turn would force the politicians and the people to "do something."

    Alas, one of the things frightened people sometimes do is jump off the cliff. So before Fasab drags us all over the side, let's take a closer look at the problem and the proposed solution.

    The problem is real. Well, sort of real. People often say the government should be run like a business. Well, the government is not a business. Congress has the ability to alter legislatively government obligations whenever it gets the whim. Contrasted to Treasury notes, which are debt with a legal repayment obligation, Social Security and other entitlement programs are not legal contracts. Congress could abolish Social Security tomorrow -- and with it all its financial obligations.

    The Supreme Court has acknowledged this important distinction. In 1960, it said in Flemming v. Nestor that entitlement promises are not individual assets and that the taxes people pay today guarantee them nothing in the future. Including accrued entitlement outlays on the current books would if anything be deceptive, since even small legislative changes to these programs down the road could change the numbers.

    By now many readers will have anticipated the troublesome political problem with what Fasab is proposing: It's an argument for raising taxes, big-time. It would merely bolster the public misconception that Social Security and Medicare payments are guaranteed. If with this accounting change you force Congress to choose between raising taxes or cutting "guaranteed" benefits, Congress will obviously raise taxes, throwing over any chance of genuine reform.

    A minority of Fasab members -- mainly Bush Administration officials -- last week advocated a different approach focused on the real political problem: better disclosure of these obligations. The Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services are already required to publish an annual projection of future costs of their retirement and health insurance programs. This November, for the first time, the agencies will report statements that have even been audited.

    The minority Fasab members recommend that we stick with the current system of accounting for entitlement programs, but require an annual "statement of fiscal sustainability." This statement would go much further than the current DHS and SSA social-insurance reports. It would list not just the black-and-white cost numbers, but also provide measurements and data that would show a clearer picture of precisely when these programs will become a problem and when they will become a financial tsunami. Both proposals are out for public comment.

    Yes, we need to know what the politicians have done, what political financial commitments have been made. And yes, it's a problem. But the solution is not to create yet another nightmare by treating them like contractual debt. The key to avoiding this coming horror show is to reform these programs.

    Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm


    Perhaps the U.S. is not "entitled" to survive
    Will America have to declare Chapter 11 because of $80 trillion in unfunded entitlement promises? That's a question posed recently by Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University, in his attention-grabbing essay on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security entitled: "Is the United States Bankrupt?" Mr. Kotlikoff's answer is perhaps yes: "Nations can go broke, the United States is going broke . . . and radical reform of U.S. fiscal institutions is essential."
    "The Entitlement Panic," The Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2006; Page A12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115620669096641701.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep


    The Pending Meltdown of the United States:
    It's largely the fault of a president who would not veto spendthrifts like himself

    Historians will note spring 2006 as the time when America's fiscal meltdown became unavoidable. Fiscal conservatism is not just dead in Washington; it is long forgotten, and no resurrection is on the horizon. Despite a brief blip of outrage over bridges-to-nowhere and obscene earmarks growing rampant and engorged, budget talk has again turned into a bidding war. The Bush administration's own modest attempts to restrain spending have been swept away by a Congress eager to spend as much as possible in a midterm election year. The numbers tell a sad enough tale. Federal spending is now 20.8 percent of GDP, up from the 18.4 percent President Bush inherited from President Clinton.
     Jeff A. Taylor, "Cash Carries the Day Spending is the Alpha and Omega in Washington," Reason Magazine, March 17, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/links/links031706.shtml

    Jensen Comment
    It's not clear that fiscal sanity can be maintained in me-first society where the welfare of future generations is asymptotically approaching zero among hand-to-mouth constituents. Whereas our parents would scrimp and slave and sacrifice everything for our education, our medical care, and our grandparents' care, today's parents want the government to pay for everything that we and our grandparents need. We've come to think everything is free from the government. Any attempt to put the brakes on entitlements is political suicide since the day Ronald Regan drained all the ink from the White House veto pen.

    Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm


    Betting on China
    If the 20th was the American century, then the 21st belongs to China. It's that simple, Ted C. Fishman says, and anyone who doubts it should take his whirlwind tour of the world's fastest-developing economy.

    "Car Clones and Other Tales of the Mighty Economic Engine Known as China," by William Grimes, The New York Times, February 15, 2005 ---  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/15/books/15grim.html
    This is a book review of China, Inc. by Ted C. Fishman --- http://snipurl.com/ChinaIndFeb15


    On the Hopeful Side of Things

    The Industrial Revolution Past and Future --- http://www.minneapolisfed.org/pubs/region/04-05/essay.cfm
    Robert E. Lucas Jr.
    John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics,
    University of Chicago
    Adviser, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

    We live in a world of staggering and unprecedented income inequality. Production per person in the wealthiest economy, the United States, is something like 15 times production per person in the poorest economies of Africa and South Asia. Since the end of the European colonial age, in the 1950s and ’60s, the economies of South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong have been transformed from among the very poorest in the world to middle-income societies with a living standard about one-third of America’s or higher. In other economies, many of them no worse off in 1960 than these East Asian “miracle” economies were, large fractions of the population still live in feudal sectors with incomes only slightly above subsistence levels. How are we to interpret these successes and failures?

    Economists, today, are divided on many aspects of this question, but I think that if we look at the right evidence, organized in the right way, we can get very close to a coherent and reliable view of the changes in the wealth of nations that have occurred in the last two centuries and those that are likely to occur in this one. The Asian miracles are only one chapter in the larger story of the world economy since World War II, and that story in turn is only one chapter in the history of the industrial revolution. I will set out what I see as the main facts of the economic history of the recent past, with a minimum of theoretical interpretation, and try to see what they suggest about the future of the world economy. I do not think we can understand the contemporary world without understanding the events that have given rise to it.

    I will begin and end with numbers, starting with an attempt to give a quantitative picture of the world economy in the postwar period, of the growth of population and production since 1950. Next, I will turn to the economic history of the world up to about 1750 or 1800, in other words, the economic history known to Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the other thinkers who have helped us form our vision of how the world works. Third, I will sketch what I see as the main features of the initial phase of the industrial revolution, the years from 1800 to the end of the colonial age in 1950. Following these historical reviews, I will outline a theoretical structure roughly consistent with the facts. If I succeed in doing this well, it may be possible to conclude with some useful generalizations and some assessments of the world’s future economic prospects.

    Continued


    Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies --- http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hcpds/



    Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) --- http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm
             Also see http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations.html




    Republicans abandoned reform, and the consequences have been dire.

    "'It Didn't Have to Be That Way'," by Fred Barnes, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2006; Page A14 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116277040855013975.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

    But Republicans have made matters worse by abandoning the reform agenda that animated their capture of Congress in 1994 and helped George Bush win the White House in 2000 and keep it in 2004. With scarcely a fight, Republicans gave up on Social Security reform in 2005, immigration reform in 2006, and never really got started on tax reform. Mr. Bush also cast aside the overarching theme for his domestic policy -- the Ownership Society -- without an explanation.

    The consequences have been dire. Republicans have little to boast about in Mr. Bush's second term except the strong economy -- and it's largely the result of tax cuts enacted three years ago. When Democrats bring up Iraq or corruption, Republicans have no countervailing issues. The president has made a strong case against Democrats on national security and taxes. But voters have been unresponsive and it's easy to understand why. It's Mr. Bush himself who causes them to feel safe from lax security and tax hikes. Whatever happens in tomorrow's election, he'll be in the White House for two more years to protect them from Democratic excesses. But what if Republicans had followed the president's lead last year and tried to overhaul Social Security and enact personal investment accounts? If they'd succeeded, voters would now be perusing the stock tables to decide how to invest their payroll taxes. Had Democrats blocked reform, Republicans would be pointing out the gains voters were missing in the bull market. Either way, Republicans would be ahead. So would the country.

    Instead, they balked at Mr. Bush's modest reform proposal. House Speaker Dennis Hastert thought it too risky, though the president had trumpeted his idea, with impunity, in two national campaigns. Another Republican leader told Mr. Bush that House Republicans would line up behind him -- but only after he'd drummed up a strong national majority in favor of entitlement reform. In truth, it already existed. Private accounts financed out of payroll taxes, while controversial, have long been popular. Left alone in the drive to fix Social Security, the president, disappointed and exhausted, finally gave up the fight.

    For Republicans, 2006 was going to be the year they bravely took on America's immigration problem. Despite a division among Republicans on a solution, an ultimate agreement seemed quite possible. House Republicans would get beefed up security along the border with Mexico well beyond what Mr. Bush wished. In return, Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans would get what they wanted: additional security plus a program to bring foreign workers here temporarily and a plan for illegal immigrants in the U.S. to "earn" citizenship.

    There were (and still are) many ways to reconcile the two positions. The simplest was to stagger the implementation of the three parts of immigration reform by requiring a secure border first, followed a few years later by the guest workers' program and citizenship scheme. Hispanic Americans and their influential lobbying organizations were willing to go along. And Democrats, faced with mass defections, would have been forced to accept the GOP compromise.

    For lack of leadership, the compromise never materialized. Mr. Bush balked at taking charge of the issue. Mr. Hastert, cautious to a fault, declined to take a firm position. Roy Blunt, the House Republican whip, opposed the compromise. Another Republican leader assured me that House Republicans were in an ideal position. They could boast of having "blocked a bad Senate bill" -- a bill backed by the White House -- and that would serve them well in the election.

    Continued in article


    Committee of Concerned Journalists --- http://www.concernedjournalists.org/

    The Committee of Concerned Journalists is a consortium of journalists, publishers, owners and academics worried about the future of the profession.

    To secure journalism's future, the group believes that journalists from all media, geography, rank and generation must be clear about what sets our profession apart from other endeavors. To accomplish this, the group is creating a national conversation among journalists about principles.

    Three Goals

    1. To clarify and renew journalists' faith in the core principles and function of journalism.

       
    2. To create a better understanding of those principles by the public.

       
    3. To engage and inform ownership and management of these principles and their financial as well as social value.

    How Do We Accomplish Them?

    To initiate a conversation about standards, the group first issued a statement of concern, created a network of professionals nationwide, held twenty-one forums, and conducted surveys and content studies to identify the core principles journalists share. These were then distilled in 2001 into a book, "The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect". In turn, these ideas are available to news people through our Traveling Curriculum of workshops. The work continues through further research, reporting, writing and discussion.

    A Professor's Perspective on Media Bias Evolution
    "The Press at War:  What ever happened to patriotic reporters?" by James Q. Wilson, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/federation/feature/?id=110009203

    We are told by careful pollsters that half of the American people believe that American troops should be brought home from Iraq immediately. This news discourages supporters of our efforts there. Not me, though: I am relieved. Given press coverage of our efforts in Iraq, I am surprised that 90% of the public do not want us out right now.

    Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005, nearly 1,400 stories appeared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news. More than half focused on the costs and problems of the war, four times as many as those that discussed the successes. About 40% of the stories reported terrorist attacks; scarcely any reported the triumphs of American soldiers and Marines. The few positive stories about progress in Iraq were just a small fraction of all the broadcasts.

    When the Center for Media and Public Affairs made a nonpartisan evaluation of network news broadcasts, it found that during the active war against Saddam Hussein, 51% of the reports about the conflict were negative. Six months after the land battle ended, 77% were negative; in the 2004 general election, 89% were negative; by the spring of 2006, 94% were negative. This decline in media support was much faster than during Korea or Vietnam.

    Naturally, some of the hostile commentary reflects the nature of reporting. When every news outlet struggles to grab and hold an audience, no one should be surprised that this competition leads journalists to emphasize bloody events. To some degree, the press covers Iraq in much the same way that it covers America: it highlights conflict, shootings, bombings, hurricanes, tornadoes, and corruption.

     

     

    But the war coverage does not reflect merely an interest in conflict. People who oppose the entire war on terror run much of the national press, and they go to great lengths to make waging it difficult. Thus the New York Times ran a front-page story about President Bush's allowing, without court warrants, electronic monitoring of phone calls between overseas terrorists and people inside the U.S. On the heels of this, the Times reported that the FBI had been conducting a top-secret program to monitor radiation levels around U.S. Muslim sites, including mosques. And then both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times ran stories about America's effort to monitor foreign banking transactions in order to frustrate terrorist plans. The revelation of this secret effort followed five years after the New York Times urged, in an editorial, that precisely such a program be started.

    Virtually every government official consulted on these matters urged that the press not run the stories because they endangered secret and important tasks. They ran them anyway. The media suggested that the National Security Agency surveillance might be illegal, but since we do not know exactly what kind of surveillance is undertaken, we cannot be clear about its legal basis. No one should assume that the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires the president to obtain warrants from the special FISA court before he can monitor foreign intelligence contacts. Though the Supreme Court has never decided this issue, the lower federal courts, almost without exception, have held that "the Executive Branch need not always obtain a warrant for foreign intelligence surveillance."

    Nor is it obvious that FISA defines all of the president's authority. Two assistant attorneys general have argued that when the president believes that a statute unconstitutionally limits his powers, he has the right not to obey it unless the Supreme Court directs him otherwise. This action would be proper even if the president had signed into law the bill limiting his authority. I know, you are thinking, That is just what the current Justice Department would say. In fact, these opinions were written in the Clinton administration by assistant attorneys general Walter Dellinger and Randolph Moss.

    The president may have such power either because it inheres in his position as commander in chief or because Congress passed a law authorizing him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against nations or people that directed or aided the attack of 9/11. Surveillance without warrants may be just such an "appropriate force." In any event, presidents before George W. Bush have issued executive orders authorizing searches without warrants, and Jamie Gorelick, once Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general and later a member of the 9/11 Commission, said that physical searches may be done without a court order in foreign intelligence cases. Such searches might well have prevented new terrorist attacks; if they are blocked in the future, no doubt we will see a demand for a new commission charged with criticizing the president for failing to prevent an attack.

    In August 2006, when the British arrested the conspirators in the plot to blow up commercial aircraft in flight, evidence suggested that two leads to them were money transactions that began in Pakistan and American intercepts of their electronic chatter. Unfortunately, the New York Times and the ACLU were not able to prevent the British from learning these things. But they would have tried to prevent them if they had been based in London.

     

     

    Suppose the current media posture about American military and security activities had been in effect during World War II. It is easy to imagine that happening. In the 1930s, after all, the well-connected America First Committee had been arguing for years about the need for America to stay out of "Europe's wars." Aware of these popular views, the House extended the draft by only a one-vote margin in 1941. Women dressed in black crowded the entrance to the Senate, arguing against extending the draft. Several hundred students at Harvard and Yale, including future Yale leader Kingman Brewster and future American president Gerald Ford, signed statements saying that they would never go to war. Everything was in place for a media attack on the Second World War. Here is how it might have sounded if today's customs were in effect:

    December 1941. Though the press supports America's going to war against Japan after Pearl Harbor, several editorials want to know why we didn't prevent the attack by selling Japan more oil. Others criticize us for going to war with two nations that had never attacked us, Germany and Italy.

    October 1942. The New York Times runs an exclusive story about the British effort to decipher German messages at a hidden site at Bletchley Park in England. One op-ed writer criticizes this move, quoting Henry Stimson's statement that gentlemen do not read one another's mail. Because the Bletchley Park code-cracking helped us find German submarines before they attacked, successful U-boat attacks increased once the Germans, knowing of the program, changed their code.

    January 1943. After President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill call for the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, several newspapers criticize them for having closed the door to a negotiated settlement. The press quotes several senators complaining that the unconditional surrender policy would harm the peace process.

    May 1943. A big-city newspaper reveals the existence of the Manhattan Project and its effort to build atomic weapons. In these stories, several distinguished scientists lament the creation of such a terrible weapon. After Gen. Leslie Groves testifies before a congressional committee, the press lambastes him for wasting money, ignoring scientific opinion, and imperiling the environment by building plants at Hanford and Oak Ridge.

    December 1944. The German counterattack against the Allies in the Ardennes yields heavy American losses in the Battle of the Bulge. The press gives splashy coverage to the Democratic National Committee chairman's assertion that the war cannot be won. A member of the House, a former Marine, urges that our troops be sent to Okinawa.

    August 1945. After President Truman authorizes dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, many newspapers urge his impeachment.

     

     

    Thankfully, though, the press did not cover World War II the way it covered Vietnam and has covered Iraq. What caused this profound change? Like many liberals and conservatives, I believe that our Vietnam experience created new media attitudes that have continued down to the present. During that war, some reporters began their coverage supportive of the struggle, but that view did not last long. Many people will recall the CBS television program, narrated by Morley Safer, about U.S. Marines using cigarette lighters to torch huts in Cam Ne in 1965. Many will remember the picture of a South Vietnamese officer shooting a captured Viet Cong through the head. Hardly anyone can forget the My Lai story that ran for about a year after a journalist reported that American troops had killed many residents of that village.

    Undoubtedly, similar events occurred in World War II, but the press didn't cover them. In Vietnam, however, key reporters thought that the Cam Ne story was splendid. David Halberstam said that it "legitimized pessimistic reporting" and would show that "there was something terribly wrong going on out there." The film, he wrote, shattered American "innocence" and raised questions about "who we were."

    The changes came to a head in January 1968, when Communist forces during the Tet holiday launched a major attack on South Vietnamese cities. According to virtually every competent observer, these forces met a sharp defeat, but American press accounts described Tet instead as a major communist victory. Washington Post reporter Peter Braestrup later published a book in which he explained the failure of the press to report the Tet offensive accurately. His summary: "Rarely has contemporary crisis-journalism turned out, in retrospect, to have veered so widely from reality."

    Even as the facts became clearer, the press did not correct its false report that the North Vietnamese had won. When NBC News producer Robert Northshield was asked at the end of 1968 whether the network should put on a news show indicating that American and South Vietnamese troops had won, he rejected the idea, because Tet was already "established in the public's mind as a defeat, and therefore it was an American defeat."

    In the opinion of Mr. Braestrup, the news failure resulted not from ideology but from economic and managerial constraints on the press--and in his view it had no material effect on American public opinion.

    Others do not share his view. When Douglas Kinnard questioned more than 100 American generals who served in Vietnam, 92% said that newspaper coverage was often irresponsible or disruptive, and 96% said that television coverage on balance lacked context and was sensational or counterproductive.

    An analysis of CBS's Vietnam coverage in 1972 and 1973 supports their views. The Institute for American Strategy found that, of about 800 references to American policy and behavior, 81% were critical. Of 164 references to North Vietnamese policy and behavior, 57% were supportive. Another study, by a scholar skeptical about the extent of media influence, showed that televised editorial comments before Tet were favorable to our presence by a ratio of 4 to 1; after Tet, they were 2 to 1 against the American government's policy.

    Opinion polls taken in 1968 suggest that before the press reports on the Tet offensive, 28% of the public identified themselves as doves; by March, after the offensive was over, 42% said they were doves.

    Sociologist James D. Wright directly measured the impact of press coverage by comparing the support for the war among white people of various social classes who read newspapers and news magazines with the support found among those who did not look at these periodicals very much. By 1968, when most newsmagazines and newspapers had changed from supporting the war to opposing it, backing for the war collapsed among upper-middle-class readers of news stories, from about two-thirds who supported it in 1964 to about one-third who supported it in 1968. Strikingly, opinion did not shift much among working-class voters, no matter whether they read these press accounts or not. Affluent people who read the press apparently have more changeable opinions than ordinary folks. Public opinion may not have changed much, but elite opinion changed greatly.

     

     

    There are countless explanations for why the media produced so many stories skeptical of or hostile to the American military involvement in Vietnam. But many of these explanations are largely myths.

    First myth. Media technology had changed. Vietnam was the first war in which television was available to a mass audience, and, as both critics and admirers of TV unite in saying, television brings the war home in often unsettling graphic images. But the Second World War also brought the struggle home through Pathé and Movietone newsreels shown in thousands of theaters nationwide at a time when Americans went to the movies remarkably often. Moreover, television accounts between 1962 and 1968 were not critical of the American effort in Vietnam, and public support for the war then actually increased.

    Second myth. The war in Vietnam was conducted without censorship. As a result, the press, with trivial exceptions, could report anything it wanted. Moreover, the absence of a formal declaration of war made it possible for several Americans, including important journalists, to travel to Hanoi, where they made statements about conditions there that often parroted the North Vietnamese party line. But the censorship rules in the Second World War and in Korea, jointly devised by the press and the government, aimed at precluding premature disclosure of military secrets, such as the location of specific combat units and plans for military attacks. The media problem in Vietnam was not the disclosure of secrets but the conveying of an attitude.

    Third myth. The press did not report military matters with adequate intelligence and context because few, if any, journalists had any military training. But that has always been the case. One veteran reporter, S.L.A. Marshall, put the real difference this way: once upon a time, "the American correspondent . . . was an American first, a correspondent second." But in Vietnam, that attitude shifted. An older journalist in Vietnam, who had covered the Second World War, lamented the bitter divisions among the reporters in Saigon, where there were "two camps": "those who wanted to win the war and those who wanted to lose it." The new reporters filed exciting, irreverent copy, which made it to the front pages; the veteran reporters' copy ended up buried way in back.

     

     

    In place of these three myths, we should consider three much more plausible explanations: the first is the weak and ambivalent political leadership that American presidents brought to Vietnam; the second is the existence in the country of a vocal radical movement; and the third is the change that has occurred in the control of media organizations.

    First, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson both wanted to avoid losing Vietnam without waging a major war in Asia. Kennedy tried to deny that Americans were fighting. A cable that his administration sent in 1962 instructed diplomats and soldiers never to imply to reporters any "all-out U.S. involvement." Other messages stressed that "this is not a U.S. war." When David Halberstam of the New York Times wrote stories criticizing the South Vietnamese government, Kennedy tried to have him fired because he was calling attention to a war that we did not want to admit we were fighting.

    Johnson was willing to say that we were fighting, but without any cost and with rosy prospects for an early victory. He sought to avoid losing by contradictory efforts to appease doves (by bombing halts and peace feelers), satisfy hawks (with more troops and more bombing), and control the tactical details of the war from the Oval Office. After the Cam Ne report from Morley Safer, Johnson called the head of CBS and berated him in language I will not repeat here.

    When Richard Nixon became president, he wanted to end the war by pulling out American troops, and he did so. None of the three presidents wanted to win, but all wanted to report "progress." All three administrations instructed military commanders always to report gains and rely on suspect body counts as a way of measuring progress. The press quickly understood that they could not trust politicians and high-level military officers.

    Second, unlike either World War II or the Korean conflict, there was a radical peace movement in America, much of it growing out of the New Left. There has been domestic opposition to most of our wars (Karlyn Bowman and I have estimated the size of the "peace party" to be about one-fifth of the electorate), but to this latent public resistance was added a broad critique of American society that opposed the war as not only wrong as policy but immoral and genocidal--and, to college students, a threat to their exemption from the draft. Famous opponents of the war traveled to Hanoi to report on North Vietnam. Attorney General Ramsey Clark said that there was neither crime nor internal conflict there. Father Daniel Berrigan described the North Vietnamese people as having a "naive faith in human goodness." Author Mary McCarthy said these folks had "grace" because they lacked any sense of "alienation."

    I repeated for the Iraq War the analysis that Professor Wright had done of the impact of the media on public opinion during the Vietnam War. Using 2004 poll data, I found a similar effect: Americans who rarely watched television news about the 2004 political campaign were much more supportive of the war in Iraq than were those who watched a great deal of TV news. And the falloff in support was greatest for those with a college education.

    Third, control of the press had shifted away from owners and publishers to editors and reporters. During the Spanish-American War, the sensationalist press, led by Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, and Joseph Medill's Chicago Tribune all actively supported the war. Hearst felt, perhaps accurately, that he had helped cause it. His New York paper printed this headline: "How Do You Like the Journal's War?" Even the New York Times supported the Spanish-American War, editorializing that the Anti-Imperialist League was treasonable and later that the Filipinos "have chosen a bloody way to demonstrate their incapacity for self-government."

    Today, strong owners are almost all gone. When Henry Luce died, Time magazine's support for an assertive American foreign policy died with him. William Paley had worked hard to make CBS a supporter of the Vietnam War, but he could not prevent Walter Cronkite from making his famous statement, on the evening news show of Feb. 19, 1968, that the war had become a "stalemate" that had to be ended, and so we must "negotiate." On hearing these remarks, President Johnson decided that the country would no longer support the war and that he should not run for reelection. Over three decades later, Mr. Cronkite made the same mistake: We must, he said, get out of Iraq now.

    There are still some family owners, such as the Sulzbergers, who exercise control over their newspapers, but they have moved politically left. Ken Auletta has described Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, as a man who has "leaned to the left," but "leaned" understates the matter. Mr. Sulzberger was a passionate opponent of the war in Vietnam and was arrested more than once at protest rallies. When he became publisher in 1997, he chose the liberal Howell Raines to control the editorial page and make it, Mr. Sulzberger said, a "more assertive, populist page."

    Other media companies, once run by their founders and principal owners, are now run by professional managers who report to directors interested in profits, not policy. Policy is the province of the editors and reporters, who are governed by their personal views, many of them acquired not by having once covered the police beat but from a college education. By 1978, 93% of the top reporters and editors had college degrees.

     

     

    These three factors worked in concert and have carried down to the present. The ambivalent political leadership of three presidents during Vietnam made the press distrust American leaders, even when, as during the Iraq War, political leadership has been strong. The New Left movement in the 1960s and 1970s slowly abandoned many of its slogans but left its legacy in much of the press and Democratic Party elites. The emergence of journalism as a craft independent of corporate owners reinforced these trends. As one journalist wrote, reporters "had come to reject the idea that they were in any sense part of the American 'team.' " This development happened slowly in Vietnam. Journalists reported most events favorably for the American side from August 1965 to January 1968, but that attitude began shifting with press coverage of Sen. J. William Fulbright's hostile Senate hearings and climaxed with the Tet offensive in January 1968. Thereafter, reporters and editors increasingly shared a distrust of government officials, an inclination to look for coverups, and a willingness to believe that the government acted out of bad motives.

    A watershed of the new attitude is the New York Times's coverage of the Pentagon papers in 1971. These documents, prepared by high officials under the direction of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, were leaked to the Times by a former State Department staffer, Daniel Ellsberg. The Times wrote major stories, supposedly based on the leaked documents, summarizing the history of our Vietnam involvement.

    Journalist Edward Jay Epstein has shown that in crucial respects, the Times coverage was at odds with what the documents actually said. The lead of the Times story was that in 1964 the Johnson administration reached a consensus to bomb North Vietnam at a time when the president was publicly saying that he would not bomb the north. In fact, the Pentagon papers actually said that, in 1964, the White House had rejected the idea of bombing the north. The Times went on to assert that American forces had deliberately provoked the alleged attacks on its ships in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a congressional resolution supporting our war efforts. In fact, the Pentagon papers said the opposite: there was no evidence that we had provoked whatever attacks may have occurred.

    In short, a key newspaper said that politicians had manipulated us into a war by means of deception. This claim, wrong as it was, was part of a chain of reporting and editorializing that helped convince upper-middle-class Americans that the government could not be trusted.

    Reporters and editors today are overwhelmingly liberal politically, as studies of the attitudes of key members of the press have repeatedly shown. Should you doubt these findings, recall the statement of Daniel Okrent, then the public editor at the New York Times. Under the headline, "Is the New York times a Liberal Newspaper?," Mr. Okrent's first sentence was, "Of course it is."

    What has been at issue is whether media politics affects media writing. Certainly, that began to happen noticeably in the Vietnam years. And thereafter, the press could still support an American war waged by a Democratic president. In 1992, for example, newspapers denounced President George H.W. Bush for having ignored the creation of concentration camps in Bosnia, and they later supported President Clinton when he ordered bombing raids there and in Kosovo. When one strike killed some innocent refugees, the New York Times said that it would be a "tragedy" to "slacken the bombardment." These air attacks violated what passes for international law (under the U.N. Charter, people can only go to war for immediate self-defense or under U.N. authorization). But these supposedly "illegal" air raids did not prevent Times support. Today, by contrast, the Times criticizes our Guantanamo Bay detention camp for being in violation of "international law."

    But in the Vietnam era, an important restraint on sectarian partisanship still operated: the mass media catered to a mass audience and hence had an economic interest in appealing to as broad a public as possible. Today, however, we are in the midst of a fierce competition among media outlets, with newspapers trying, not very successfully, to survive against 24/7 TV and radio news coverage and the Internet. As a consequence of this struggle, radio, magazines, and newspapers are engaged in niche marketing, seeking to mobilize not a broad market but a specialized one, either liberal or conservative.

    Economics reinforces this partisan orientation. Prof. James Hamilton has shown that television networks take older viewers for granted but struggle hard to attract high-spending younger ones. Regular viewers tend to be older, male, and conservative, while marginal ones are likely to be younger, female, and liberal. Thus the financial interest that radio and television stations have in attracting these marginal younger listeners and viewers reinforces their ideological interest in catering to a more liberal audience.

    Focusing ever more sharply on the mostly bicoastal, mostly liberal elites, and with their more conservative audience lost to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, mainstream outlets like the New York Times have become more nakedly partisan. And in the Iraq War, they have kept up a drumbeat of negativity that has had a big effect on elite and public opinion alike. Thanks to the power of these media organs, reduced but still enormous, many Americans are coming to see the Iraq War as Vietnam redux.

     

     

    Most of what I have said here is common knowledge. But it is common knowledge about a new period in American journalistic history. Once, powerful press owners dictated what their papers would print, sometimes irresponsibly. But that era of partisan and circulation-building distortions was not replaced by a commitment to objective journalism; it was replaced by a deep suspicion of the American government. That suspicion, fueled in part by the Vietnam and Watergate controversies, means that the government, especially if it is a conservative one, is surrounded by journalists who doubt almost all it says. One obvious result is that since World War II there have been few reports of military heroes; indeed, there have been scarcely any reports of military victories.

    This change in the media is not a transitory one that will give way to a return to the support of our military when it fights. Journalism, like so much scholarship, now dwells in a postmodern age in which truth is hard to find and statements merely serve someone's interests.

    The mainstream media's adversarial stance, both here and abroad, means that whenever a foreign enemy challenges us, he will know that his objective will be to win the battle not on some faraway bit of land but among the people who determine what we read and watch. We won the Second World War in Europe and Japan, but we lost in Vietnam and are in danger of losing in Iraq and Lebanon in the newspapers, magazines and television programs we enjoy.

    Mr. Wilson, formerly a professor at Harvard and at UCLA, now lectures at Pepperdine University. Among his recent books are The Moral Sense and The Marriage Problem. This article, adapted from a Manhattan Institute lecture, appears in the Autumn issue of City Journal.


    A government leader in Iraq's Kurdistan region has told Gold Star Families visiting U.S. troops in the Mideast that the news media's coverage of the situation in Iraq is terribly biased. "CNN International and Al Jazeera are equally bad in their coverage of the situation in Iraq," said Nerchivan Barzani, the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan. "When I was in the United States recently and read the negative news in the Washington Post, New York Times and in the network TV broadcasts, I even wondered if things had gotten so bad since I had left that I shouldn't return," he said.
    "'CNN, Al-Jazeera coverage of Iraq war equally biased'." WorldNetDaily, November 7, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52817

     

    "A Wikipedia Of (National Security) Secrets," by Frank Ahrens, The Washington Post, November 5, 2006 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/03/AR2006110302015.html?referrer=email
    Jensen Comment
    You might expect The Washington Post or The New York Times to feature exposing national security secrets.


    Issue of Student Free Speech on Campus:  Mike Adams' New Job at Missouri State University
    I’m certain that news of my resignation will disappoint readers who have enjoyed my columns critiquing UNC-Wilmington’s leftist orthodoxy over the last several years. But I know their disappointment will be outweighed by UNCW’s joy upon hearing of my decision to leave the university. In fact, effective today, I’ll be leaving to begin my new career as a Winston Smith Professor Emeritus of Social Work at Missouri State University. I have decided to take the position at MSU for two reasons: 1) I want to commit the rest of my career to the intellectual rape of my students by forcing them to lobby the state for policies that violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and 2) MSU encourages professors to intellectually and spiritually rape their students - even defending them when they are caught in the act.
    Mike S. Adams, "My New Job at Missouri State University," Townhall, November 7, 2006 --- Click Here

    Missouri State University has reached an out-of-court settlement with a student who sued over a class assignment in which she says she was told to write a letter to legislators endorsing adoption rights for gay people, the Associated Press reported. Missouri State officials said that not all of the facts in the case matched what the student had said, but that some concerns were legitimate.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/10/qt

    Emily Brooker, who graduated from the university’s School of Social Work last spring, took issue with a project in which students were asked to draft and individually sign a letter to Missouri legislators that supported the right of gay people to be foster parents, according to the complaint. The assignment was eventually shelved, but the complaint says officials in the social work school charged Brooker with the highest-level grievance for not following guidelines on diversity, interpersonal skills and professional behavior. According to the complaint, during a hearing before an ethics committee, faculty members asked Brooker: “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners? Do you think I am a sinner?” and questioned whether she could assist gay men and women as a professional social worker.
    Elia Powers, "Did Assignment Get Too Political?" Inside Higher Ed, November 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/01/complaint


    Any Hacker Might Steal a U.S. Election
    (Hugo Chávez allegedly (although denied) controls many of the current voting machines in the United States)
    (Liberals think the hacker who "steals the election" may be Karl Rove --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6408670
    This September, researchers from Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), led by Edward Felten, released a damning paper and accompanying video that showed how easily they were able to rig a mock election by loading a virus of their design onto a Diebold ­AccuVote‑TS, one of the most commonly used electronic voting machines in the United States. Click here for our description of Princeton's hack on the Diebold-AccuVote-TS.
    Daniel Turner, "Hack: How to Steal an Election:  Princeton University computer scientists expose the weakness of a diebold voting machine," MIT's Technology Review, October 31, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17677&ch=infotech

    There are no hanging chads or Supreme Court challenges looming (yet). But the nation isn't satisfied with electronic voting machines.
    Brad King, "Electronic Voting Casts Shadow over Elections," MIT's Technology Review, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/posts.aspx?id=17456&author=king

    Voters faced long lines and, in some cases, left without casting their ballots after some of the county's voting machines malfunctioned this morning. Moreover, poll workers at places with broken machines didn't have enough paper ballots in English, meaning that some people were offered the chance to vote in Spanish, Chinese or Vietnamese – but not the language of Shakespeare.
    Marla Jo Fisher, "Long waits, broken machines at some O.C. polling places," Orange County Register, November 7, 2006 --- http://ocregister.com/ocregister/homepage/abox/article_1346852.php

    Problems with electronic voting machine failures kept some polls from opening, created long lines, and left many voters puzzled about whether their votes were counted in Tuesday's high stakes election --- http://www.infozine.com/news/infozine/18848.php

    "Voting complaints in 18 state:  Problems with electronics, bomb threat, assault, rage against the machine," WorldNetDaily, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52846

     


    Congressman's Favors for Friend Include Help in Secret Budget
    On a lavish, weeklong Caribbean cruise last year, software entrepreneur Warren Trepp wined and dined friends and business partners aboard the 560-foot Seven Seas Navigator. Among Mr. Trepp's guests on the cruise ship: Rep. Jim Gibbons of Nevada and his family. The two men have enjoyed a long friendship that has been good for both. Mr. Trepp has been a big contributor to Mr. Gibbons's campaigns, and the congressman has used his clout to intervene on behalf of Mr. Trepp's company, according to congressional records, court documents and interviews. The tiny Reno, Nev., company, eTreppid Technologies, has won millions of dollars in classified federal software contracts from the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the Central Intelligence Agency. At a time of rising concern over lawmakers who direct or "earmark" federal spending to their supporters and business partners, a growing part of the budget is shielded from scrutiny. This is the "black budget," mostly for defense and intelligence, which is disclosed only in the vaguest terms. The ties between Mr. Trepp and Mr. Gibbons raise questions about an influential politician in America's fastest-growing state, and also offer a rare glimpse of contracts in this secret budget being awarded to a politically connected businessman without competitive bidding.
    John R. Wilke, "Congressman's Favors for Friend Include Help in Secret Budget With Rep. Gibbons's Backing, An Ex-Trader for Milken Wins Millions in Contracts A Lawsuit's Sensitive Subject, The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2006; Page A1 ---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116234941031409783.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

    Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


    The Department of Defense versus the Biased Liberal Media

    Strategy Page, October 27, 2006 --- http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htiw/articles/20061027.aspx

    http://www.defenselink.mil/home/dodupdate/index-b.html
    Here, the Department of Defense is openly calling for corrections from major media outlets, and even noting when they refuse to publish letters to the editor.

    The most recent was this past Tuesday, when the DOD published a letter, that the New York Times refused to run, which contained quotes from five generals (former CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, current CENTCOM commander John Abizaid, MNF Commander George Casey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, as well as his successor, Peter Pace) that rebutted a New York Times editorial. This has been picked up by a number of bloggers who have been able to spread the Pentagon's rebuttal – and the efforts of the New York Times to sweep it under the rug – across the country.

    The Defense Department has been dealing with a number of misleading stories. From Newsweek's misreporting of a Koran-flushing incident (caused by a detainee, not guards as reported by Newsweek), to claims of prisoner mistreatment (often without context, including one instance where a detainee spat on an interrogator), to a massive rewriting of an embedded reporter's report on the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's efforts in Tal Afar, by editors of Time magazine, to the revelations about NSA efforts, the DOD has been barraged by numerous stories, many of which were followed by angry editorials.

    The DOD is pushing back, not only putting out requests to correct the record (with the refusals published as well), but also citing stories of heroes that the media has failed to cover – usually two or three a week. Among these are accounts of those who have been awarded medals for battlefield bravery, like Navy Cross recipients Robert J. Mitchell Jr. and Bradley A. Kasal, as well as Silver Star recipients Juan M. Rubio, Sarun Sar, Jeremy Church, and Leigh Ann Hester. The DOD has also followed CENTCOM's lead in running pieces on what terrorists actually say – another item largely ignored by the mainstream media.

    The Department of Defense is acting in an effort to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of the 1968 Tet Offensive. On the battlefield, American and South Vietnamese forces won a victory – effectively destroying the Viet Cong and crippling North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam. However, media misreporting, including Walter Cronkite's famous mischaracterization of the war as a "stalemate", took away the victory that had been won on the battlefield. Such a scenario is less likely now, largely due to the presence of the internet (including blogs), talk radio, and other news networks – and the Department of Defense is taking advantage of alternative ways to get around the mainstream media. – Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com )


    The BBC is out to build up Islam and beat down Christianity
    The BBC are facing accusations of anti-Christian bias after a BBC drama portrayed evangelical extremists murdering Muslims. One Christian group said the corporation had a "sinister" and "malicious" agenda against their faith, while another claimed the BBC1 Spooks programme could be an "incitement to hatred" against them.
    Paul Revoir, "Christian groups accuse BBC drama of inciting anti-Christian bias," Daily Mail, November 1, 2006 --- Click Here

    Charlotte Church has a new talk show in England, where she plays a profanity-spewing hostess who is part Rosie O'Donnell, part Keith Olbermann (she has bashed President Bush as 'clueless' and a 'twat') and completely unhinged. The pilot episode featured Charlotte calling Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi, dressing as a nun and pretending to hallucinate while eating communion wafers imprinted with smiley faces…
    Michelle Malkin, "Where have all the good girls gone?" WorldNetDaily, September 27, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52163
    Jensen Comment
    Michelle Malkin's critical commentary on Charlotte Church's bad behavior made her (Michelle) an Internet assault target --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52430
    I wonder who would be the target if Charlotte Church dared to portray a Muslim leader as a Nazi! BBC wisely will not allow Charlotte Church to criticize Muslims --- only Christians, Jews, and the U.S. coalition forces.
    You can listen to foul-mouthed and hypocritical Charlotte Church masquerading as an sweet-voiced angel singing and trying to sell Christian music at http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/music/sites/charlottechurch/
    (Click on the listing under Media Clips)


    "Armey: 'Parochial' GOP Has 'Compromised' Agenda," NPR, October 16, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6264356


    The AAUP extends its protests across the ocean to Israel
    The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors has adopted a statement expressing “great concern” about new limits placed by Israel restricting Palestinian students’ access to Israeli universities. The ban has faced considerable criticism by Israeli universities and the country’s Supreme Court.
    Inside Higher Ed
    , November 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/08/qt


    Links to Election Results by State --- http://www.whitehousetoday.com/election_results.shtml


    Animated Map of the Middle East --- http://www.mapsofwar.com/images/EMPIRE17.swf


    The Palestinians aren't broke
    Israeli intelligence has detected more than 20 tons of explosives being smuggled into Gaza this year, along with sophisticated antitank and antiaircraft missiles. Most of this weaponry goes to Hamas, the ruling terrorist organization cum party, but significant quantities also go to terrorist groups associated with Fatah, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's party. The purchase price for this materiel, including the cost of smuggling it into the Gaza Strip, could have been used to cover the unpaid salaries of thousands of PA employees - but Hamas and Fatah would both rather buy arms than feed their people. And as long as this is true, giving either group more money would be futile.
    Evelyn Gordon, "The Palestinians aren't broke," Jerusalem Post, Nov. 9, 2006


    America Alone
    October 29, 2006 message from Naomi Ragen [nragen@netvision.net.il]

    The following is a long and powerful excert from Mark Steyn's "America Alone." It is an explanation at why and how the Muslims are taking over the world. In one word: demography. To that, add the cowardice of the West in standing up to the "youths" that rampage across an aging Europe, and big government in America that can't seem to rise to the occasion, leaving it to the passengers of flight 93 to fend for themselves, and you have in a nutshell what is shaping our world into a Muslim theocracy which no one seems to have the guts to confront.

    A true wake-up call.

    Naomi

    ============================================================ ========================================

    October 20, 2006

    The future belongs to Islam ---

    The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambitions. The West is growing old and enfeebled, and lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it. It's the end of the world as we've known it. An excerpt from 'America Alone'.

    MARK STEYN

    Sept. 11, 2001, was not "the day everything changed," but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On Sept. 10, how many journalists had the Council of American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britain in their Rolodexes? If you'd said that whether something does or does not cause offence to Muslims would be the early 21st century's principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.

    This is about the seven-eighths below the surface -- the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and that call into question the future of much of the rest of the world. The key factors are: demographic decline; the unsustainability of the social democratic state; and civilizational exhaustion.

    You can read more about America Alone at http://www.marksteyn.com/


    Higher education in the United States is on the brink of change and they desire to be the leaders of tomorrow
    My students realize that higher education in the United States is on the brink of change and they desire to be the leaders of tomorrow. They have read the drafts, and now the final version of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education report. They want to guide higher education through reform and they have just asked me who their role models should be.
    Marilee Bresciani, "‘We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For’," Inside Higher Ed, October 27, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/10/27/bresciani


    The issue of college affordability is the “No. 1” motivation for getting young people
    The issue of college affordability is the “No. 1” motivation for getting young people, already likely to lean Democratic, out to vote, said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners and a political strategist for the Democratic Party. Among 650 young people ages 18-30 polled, 40 percent responded that when thinking about college affordability, they would be more likely to choose a Democratic candidate, while 11 percent said they’d vote Republican and 46 percent said their thoughts on the issue would make no difference in their preferences.
    Elizabeth Redden, "Turning Blue from College Costs," Inside Higher Ed, November 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/01/democrats


    "Lessons From Middle East ‘de Tocquevilles’," by Richard A. Detweiler, Inside Higher Ed, October 30, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/10/30/detweiler

    What differentiates “American style higher education” from the modes more typically seen in their own nations? What are the most fundamental attributes of this preferred approach to learning? As I understood them, these de Tocquevilles from Muslim majority countries identified three essential and interrelated attributes of an American-style higher education – attributes that, though undoubtedly idealized, they believe create a better approach to college education. These attributes are, in fact, very obvious ones once stated; yet they are, like the air we breathe on a clear day, so obvious we often forget to pay attention to them:

    These “obvious” characteristics of American-style higher education are troubling because of where I see us heading right now. They are contrary to the current regulatory emphasis on bringing K-12-style, fact-oriented outcomes assessment to higher education; they are unrelated to the U.S. News-type assumptions underlying the prestige-based competition among institutions that consumes ever-greater amounts of their attention and resources; and they run counter to the growing emphasis on technical and professional education that seems to be consuming every undergraduate institution – including many liberal arts colleges.

    Most fundamentally, these insights from Muslim educators don’t support several trends that are currently most fashionable in higher education in the United States, including the idea that a good higher education is one that results in a job; the arms race-like rivalries that require that each institution to spend more resources every year to build prettier or larger athletic and other facilities; the emphasis, even at teaching institutions, of having faculty measured according to research productivity, even though that attribute seems more related to institutional prestige than student learning; and the priority so many parents (and their children) place on attending the best-ranked school rather than the one that seems best suited for an individual student’s learning.

    Are these educators from Muslim countries merely describing American higher education as it was rather than as it should appropriately be for today’s world? Their answer, I believe, would be “no” – what has made American-style education the best in the world is not the pursuit of prestige, the delivery of job-ready graduates, nor the provision of unrivaled facilities. It is a context for learning that is without parallel in most other nations’ higher education traditions, and involves long term good for humanity and for a nation, a respectful focus on the development of the student, and an honest view of the role and needs of the faculty.

    This “American style” approach is in contrast to the educational traditions in many other countries that have involved the provision of a few institutions of prestige where only the “best” are allowed to enroll, and where graduation is intended to certify a level of knowledge about a topic that makes graduates immediately employable in a particular profession. To paraphrase what a business executive in one of these Muslim nations once said to me: “Give me a graduate of an American-style university who knows how to think and learn and make decisions, for those are the competencies necessary for long-term success; within a few months I can teach them the specific knowledge they need to start their job, though with the reality of constant change people will need to continue to learn throughout their career.”

    Continued in article

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


    Michigan Votes Down Affirmative Action
    Michigan voters on Tuesday approved a ban on affirmative action at the state’s public colleges and in government contracting. The vote came despite opposition to the ban from most academic and business leaders in the state — and the history in which the University of Michigan played a key role in preserving the right of colleges to consider race as a factor in admissions.
    Scott Jaschik, "Michigan Votes Down Affirmative Action," Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/08/michigan

    The day after Michigan voters approved a ban on affirmative action by public colleges and universities, the president of the University of Michigan said that her institution was exploring legal challenges it might make to the referendum.
    Scott Jaschik, "Still Fighting for Affirmative Action," Inside Higher Ed, November 9, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/09/michfolo

    Controversies over affirmative action in hiring of faculty and admission of students are discussed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


    Songs of the South

    His groundbreaking study Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought From Slavery to Freedom (Oxford University Press, 1977) looked at how songs and stories gave black Americans “the means of preventing legal slavery from becoming spiritual slavery” by creating a domain “free of control by those who ruled the earth.” His approach was, in part, a matter of using ideas from folklore and anthropology about African “survivals” that had survived the Middle Passage. But Levine’s research also led him in another direction — toward Shakespeare.
    Scott McLemee, "The High and the Low," Inside Higher Ed, November 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/11/01/mclemee

    In Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in (Harvard University Press, 1988), Levine describes reading accounts of minstrel shows “to derive some more exact sense of how antebellum whites depicted black culture.” What he found, to his astonishment, was an abundance of allusions to the Bard — jokes and parodies, for example, that implied that the audience knew the plays fairly well.

    Digging deeper, he unearthed an entire lost world. Levine showed how, until sometime shortly after the Civil War, Shakespeare was part of the nation’s common culture, drawing large and rowdy audiences who had very definite opinions about how the plays should be performed, and were not shy about expressing them. (The egg, as more than one visiting British actor learned, proved a handy instrument of dramatic criticism.) Favorite scenes from Hamlet were often part of the bill at variety shows, along with trained monkeys and similar acts. In major cities, two or three different stagings of Macbeth sometimes competed for the public’s patronage, while bored residents of a mining camp might put on Richard III for fun.

    Some of the adaptations sound abominable. One very popular version of King Lear, for example, had a happy ending. But the gusto was unmistakable. American Bardolatry included the belief that he was a very great writer, perhaps the very greatest. But it was also shot through with a sense that he was, deep down, a man of the people — hence, especially to be appreciated in a democratic nation. Levine described one stage-curtain from the early 19th century showing Shakespeare climbing into the heavens atop the back of an American eagle.

    By the late 19th century, though, something had happened. People began to think of Shakespeare as anything but entertainment. His verse was either sublime and uplifting (if you were the refined sort) or a bore (if you weren’t). By the 1870s, it was getting harder and harder to find a show that would offer you both some Shakespeare and a performance involving dancers and musically gifted livestock. And by the dawn of the 20th century, nobody was looking.

    What happened? Well, you should read Levine’s book, which also shows how a similar transformation occurred in the public appetite for opera and classical music across the same period. Suffice it to say that deep changes in American economy and the society made for very different attitudes towards Shakespeare and Mozart. It is a short book, but also one of the great mind-opening works on U.S. history — a strangely moving reminder of how little of the nation’s actual past survives in the contemporary memory.

    “That essay on ‘William Shakespeare in America’ is worth a while library of cultural studies work,” Michael Kazin told me recently when we discussed Levine by phone. Earlier this year, Kazin, who is a professor of history at Georgetown University, published a biography of William Jennings Bryan. Levine had studied Bryan for his own dissertation at Columbia University, later published as a book.

    Levine’s analysis, which challenged the familiar image of Bryan as creationist buffoon, was an important influence on Kazin’s interpretation of the politician. Levine and Kazin were also friends, initially bonding over an interest in the films of Frank Capra. Levine read parts of Kazin’s work in manuscript, and for a while they were in a book group together.

    “He had a great no-bullshit style,” said Kazin. “It was a New York Jewish working-class wit. It reminded me of my father, though Larry was younger by maybe 15 years.”

    The comparison caught me by surprise. His father, the late Alfred Kazin, had published major studies of American literature such as On Native Grounds and God and the American Writer. These were works of literary scholarship of a decidedly untheoretical and pre-multicultural sort.

    So I wondered if there could be more to the resemblance between Levine and Kazin Sr. than something about the way they spoke.

    Continued in article


    A Racist and Twisted Definition of ‘Hate’
    Obsessed with fundraising, the fabulously wealthy Southern Poverty Law Center exaggerates the scope of racism in the United States to frighten donors into opening their wallets. It spends little on actual litigation and uses politically skewed definitions of racism to indoctrinate children while smearing conservatives who question racial preference programs. It has one key message: America is boiling over with hatred and intolerance. Decades after the civil rights movement forever changed America, U.S. race relations are always worse today than in the days of Jim Crow, according to SPLC. “Hate in America is a dreadful, daily constant.

    "The Southern Poverty Law Center: A Twisted Definition of ‘Hate’,"  by Matthew Vadum, Capital Research Center --- http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/OT1106.pdf
    The SPLC home page is at http://www.splcenter.org/

    A U.S. intelligence analyst is accusing rap artists in Britain of moving young Muslims toward extremism through lyrics about the Iraq war. The Times of London reported Saturday that New York Police Department analyst Madeleine Gruen said the music of some groups is "very persuasive because it is giving young people ideas and those ideas are what might motivate someone to become a jihadi."
    "Muslim rappers worry Western intelligence," United Press International, November 11, 2006 --- http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20061111-042250-6499r




    Why this child believes in God

    Forwarded by Aaron Konstam [akonstam@sbcglobal.net]

    A CHILD'S WISDOM

    Written by Danny Dutton, age 8, from Chula Vista, California, for his third grade homework assignment to "Explain God".

    One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grown_ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way, He doesn't have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk, He can just leave that to God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things pray at times besides bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because He hears everything there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off.

    God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting His time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.

    Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren't any who come to our church.

    Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind like His Father and He told His Father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said OK. His Dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told Him He didn't have to go out on the road anymore, He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of Himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary only more important. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to hear you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the times.

    You should always go to Church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God. Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong! And, besides, the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.

    If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared in the dark or when you can't swim very good and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids. But you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases. And that's why I believe in God..




    October 8, 2006 message from Grandpa (Bob) Overn (a distant cousin)

    Hi Bob and Ericka!

    Here's what appeared on the front page (!) of the local Mankato newspaper this morning alongside Saddam Hussein and the usual political junk. Mizha's famous!!

    http://www.mankatofreepress.com/local/local_story_310002927.html


    "The Aging Academic," by Richard J. Gelles, Inside Higher Ed, October 27, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/workplace/2006/10/11/gelles

    The entire first hour of conversation (at a social gathering of senior faculty) was spent reviewing the various “procedures” each in attendance had been through in the previous few months. There were the assorted broken bones, disjointed joints, dental procedures, and the like, but the common thread seemed to be “plumbing.” The analyses and comparisons of procedures gave way to a brief comment on the collective crossing of the 60 Rubicon, and then the conversation turned to pensions. Asset allocations, market fluctuations, and life table analyses dominated the conversation through the first half of dinner and might have gone on longer had I not abruptly pointed out that highly respected and literate educators had spent the previous two hours talking only about the Trinity of “P’s” — Procedures, Pensions and Plumbing.

    I believe that the Three P’s will be a focal point of academic discourse as the baby boom generation crosses into their 60’s and faces some of the following vexing issues:

    Some of the questions are serious, others merely sardonic, but understand that as the academy ages, the pressing issues of the Three T’s will be joined by the pressures of the Three P’s.

    Richard J. Gelles is dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

     



    Academic Humor
    In Death of a Department Chair (Terrace Books), Miller, a professor of theater at the University of Texas at Austin, delights in academic and non-academic humor alike. For instance, a young professor stares at Isabel, stunned at one point, pondering the “irony of academic life” that “this woman actually studied rhetorical strategies and yet behaved so cluelessly toward others,” while another professor’s husband, Marvin, operates his own business, its name a decidedly non-scholarly allusion: Marvin Gardens. Miller’s main character, Miriam Held, the upright, ethical faculty member Miller said she always wished had been her colleague, finds herself as a prime suspect in Isabel’s murder not only because of their love affair 12 years past, but also because she had recently lost a bitter battle to become department chair and because, in her attempts to recruit a talented black scholar, she found herself at odds with Isabel. “But this is a public university,” Miriam says in the novel. “In a state with a huge minority population – soon to be the majority. Don’t you think the people of Texas want their flagship university to reflect the population – and the concerns – of their state?”
    Elizabeth Redden, "Death of a Department Chair," Inside Higher Ed, November 7, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/07/novel

     




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

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

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

    Three Finance Blogs

    Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
    FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
    Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

    Some Accounting Blogs

    Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
    International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
    AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
    Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
    AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
    SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

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

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

    Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
    190 Sunset Hill Road
    Sugar Hill, NH 03586
    Phone:  603-823-8482 
    Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu