I moved inside our cottage because it was beginning to get cold mornings in my outdoor studio. Besides I like the foliage views better from our cottage. I took the above picture a few weeks ago from my "winter desk" inside the cottage. This is a view of Mt. Lafayette about ten miles away in the Kinsman Range.  Lincoln Mountain can be seen between Lafayette and Cannon. Only Cannon Mountain has ski trails and an aerial tramway. Between Lincoln and Cannon is a mountain pass called the Franconia Notch State Park. After he retired my father took on another job managing the Kossuth County State Liquor Store in Algona, Iowa. The ear of corn next to my monitor was one of his collected Jim Beam bottles of bourbon. Just to the right outside the picture is another bottle in the shape of an Iowa hog.

Above is my outdoor studio where I work about half of the year in warmer weather. Believe it or not, I was too busy this summer to play the golf course behind my fence. What's this thing called "retirement?" You cannot see them very well in this picture, but some of the Green Mountains of Vermont are visible beyond the golf course. They're "green" because of those mountains are actually Vermont's mountainous piles of tax dollars.

This is my outdoor studio from a different angle late in the autumn. A cute family of chipmunks lives under the studio. The trees are now bare except for the conifers. My white barn is slightly visible behind the trees. I'm not much of a carpenter, but I'm proud of the bookshelves I built from floor to ceiling in my studio. My computer's connection to the world is an underground buried cable that Adelphia gratefully dug in last May.

Above you can see my messy desk inside the studio. I will return to this office when the weather warms again in the spring. I have a gas stove inside the studio, but like I said above I prefer to look toward the closest mountains in the foliage season (that's now ended as the cold winds are bringing in rain and snow). The lamp bases (there's an identical one outside the picture to the left side of the sofa) are Trinity University football helmets. Trinity University is a leader in NCAA Division III (non-scholarship) athletics --- http://www.trinity.edu/departments/athletics/index.htm

 

Tidbits on November 20, 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

My real hero on fighting legislative fraud is a Republican from Arizona named Jeff Flake. While it is still free, I recommend that everybody watch the video of an interview with Jeff Flake on CBS Sixty Minutes ---
http://wwwimage.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/02/60minutes/main2145860.shtml

Master of Illusion:  This one gets really interesting near the end when he pushes his hand through an aquarium --- http://www.glumbert.com/media/cyril

Watch a penguin have fun writing your first name in the snow --- http://www.star28.net/snow.html

YouTube and the Cultural Studies Classroom --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/11/13/conway

Science Animations: Movies & Interactive Tutorial Links --- http://science.nhmccd.edu/biol/animatio.htm
Bob Jensen's links to science learning helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Science%20and%20Medicine

Digital Duo Video Helpers With Technology --- http://blogs.pcworld.com/techlog/archives/000611.html
Click on the third sentence beginning with "Here's a link to our PCWD2 section ... "

African Union --- http://www.africa-union.org/

Friendship Puzzle --- http://www3.telus.net/public/a7a55952/friendship-puzzle/friendship-puzzle.htm

"IRS Agent Finds Key to New Life in 'Stranger',"  by Robert Denerstein, Rocky Mountain News via SmartPros, November 13, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55486.xml

Stranger Than Fiction (a new movie) begins with a narrator describing the waking hours of a fastidious IRS auditor who lives alone in his appallingly clean, super-organized Washington, D.C., apartment.

Within a few minutes, Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) comes off as a poster boy for anal retention. Harold rises at the same hour every day and brushes his teeth a proscribed number of times before heading off to catch the bus that never fails to carry him to his office at precisely the same time.

At this point, my eyes were beginning to glaze over. I'm sick of movies with narrators. Narration in movies, even at its most literate, can be a terrible cheat, alleviating the need for a screenwriter to create any real drama.

OK, enough about the perils of narration. The point here is that I was developing an attitude about Stranger Than Fiction just when something happened to upset the apple cart of my emerging discontent.

I won't tell you what it was, but I will say that Stranger Than Fiction quickly establishes itself as a movie that plays around with ideas in ways that can be amusing and smart. It also allows Will Ferrell to give his best performance yet, and makes room for the always enjoyable Emma Thompson, who plays Karen Eiffel, a tormented writer who's trying to figure out how to bring her latest novel to a close.

Director Marc Forster, who directed Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland but who stumbled with his last movie, Stay, returns to form, bringing a gentle touch to proceedings that revolve around Crick's increasing awareness that his life needs a jolt. Said awakening arrives in the form of a woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) whose tax returns Harold has been asked to audit.

Ms. Gyllenhaal's Ana Pascal, a baker, conscientiously has refused to pay the portion of her taxes that funds defense-related matters. As a result, she faces big penalties.

When Crick begins to realize that there's more to life than a sharpened pencil and a keen knowledge of tax law, his behavior modifies. Among other things, he teaches himself guitar, satisfying a long-held, secret ambition to rock out.

The supporting performances are all quite sharp. Dustin Hoffman shows up as a professor of literary theory. These days, Mr. Hoffman seems to have taken nearly all the angst out of his work, and it serves him well. Queen Latifah also distinguishes herself in a small role: She plays an assistant who's sent by Eiffel's publisher to help the stalled author overcome her writer's block.

In this moment of mostly crude comedies and overwrought drama, it's refreshing to find a movie that creates tension by keeping us guessing about whether it's going to wind up as tragedy or comedy. Mr. Forster gives this somewhat cerebral notion just enough life, providing steady amusement along the way.

If the movie suffers a bit, it's probably because screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) has made us a little too familiar with clever comedies of the self-conscious kind. Still, Mr. Forster's sweetly engaging concoction bends our minds without too much strain, and even those moments that feel mildly familiar never breed anything close to contempt.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting humor are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#Humor


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

I'm increasingly listening to free online streaming classical music from Arizona State University's FM station ---  http://www.kbaq.org/listen/ontheweb/

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

Art Tatum: A Talent Never to Be Duplicated (Jazz Pianist) ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6434701

A Classical Pianist Who Never Showed Off --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6412084

From Janie
Boot Scootin' Boogie --- http://jbreck.com/bootscootinboogie.html

Music4You --- http://www.music4you.it/detect_start.html

What was No.1 on the day you were born (provided you were born after 1955) --- http://www.thisdayinmusic.com/member/birthdayno1.php

Frank Loesser --- http://www.frankloesser.com/

American Routes (Jazz) --- http://www.americanroutes.org/

The Black Keys, Black Angels in Concert (full concert of hard rock) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6424079


Photographs and Art

World War II Memorial --- http://www.wtv-zone.com/Mary/PASSINGOFGENERATION.HTML

Painted Prints: The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Engravings, Etchings & Woodcuts --- http://artbma.org/exhibitions/online2.html#

Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design --- http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1384_leonardo/

The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work --- http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/menteleonardo/ 

The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld (from Time Magazine) --- Click Here

Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives --- http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/eyewitness/

Wild Landscape --- http://www.wild-landscape.com/galery/a_gal_66/cechy/cechy16.html

Great photographs in spite of the small grammar error --- http://home.att.net/~hideaway_fun/415/world.htm

ARTscape --- http://www.pem.org/artscape/index.php

Vidor, Texas, has a reputation as a "Klan town," and that's what drew photographer Dave Anderson --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6442777

Cane River National Heritage Area --- http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/caneriver/

Some really impressive 9/11 photographs (I've never seen anything like these) --- http://www.zombietime.com/wtc_9-13-2001/
 


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

Air Force Link (history) --- http://www.af.mil/history/

Old Poetry --- http://oldpoetry.com/

Classical Short Stories --- http://www.classicshorts.com/

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/

Domesday Book (William the Conqueror, UK National Archives) --- http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/domesday.asp

Roderick Hudson by Henry James (1843-1916) --- Click Here

Hap-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) --- Click Here

Mellonta Tauta by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) --- Click Here

A Tale Of A Tub by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) --- Click Here

Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) --- Click Here

William James --- http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/james.html#odds

Creative Quotations by Milton Friedman --- http://thinkexist.com/quotes/milton_friedman/
Also see http://www.memorable-quotes.com/milton+friedman,a446.html  and http://creativequotations.com/one/977.htm





  • All eyes are presently on the newly empowered Nancy Pelosi to clean up the most out-of-control frauds in Congress  --- those fraudulent legislative "earmarks" that President Bush lets slip by in astounding numbers without ever raising a veto pen
    The Congressional Research Service counted some 16,500 earmarks in spending bills in 2005, at a cost of nearly $50 billion. Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) says the "real cost" is "probably ten times" greater, because these goodies are the "currency" that Appropriators use to buy the votes to pass bills that might otherwise fail as too costly. Ms. Pelosi can do something about all this by enacting earmark reform sponsored by two Democrats, Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Mr. Emanuel ran the Democratic campaign committee this year and talked up his reform all over the country as a way to embarrass Republicans.
    "Pelosi and Pork," The Wall Street Journal,  November 16, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116364609532624696.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
    Jensen Comment
    My real hero on fighting earmarks is a Republican from Arizona named Jeff Flake. He's definitely not flakey and reminds us of of the heroic Jimmy Stewart (in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). While it's still free, I recommend that everybody watch the video of an interview with Jeff Flake on CBS Sixty Minutes ---
    http://wwwimage.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/02/60minutes/main2145860.shtml
    I'll vote for Jeff Flake any day of the week!!! Why can't there more honest politicians like him?

    Why doesn't this come as a surprise now that the 2006 aftermath is a time for broken promises?
    After railing against Congressional corruption under Republican rule, Democrats are divided on how far their proposed ethics overhaul should go . . . None of the measures would overhaul campaign financing or create an independent ethics watchdog to enforce the rules. Nor would they significantly restrict earmarks, the pet projects lawmakers can anonymously insert into spending bills, which have figured in several recent corruption scandals and attracted criticism from members in both parties. The proposals would require disclosure of the sponsors of some earmarks, but not all.
    David D. Kirkpatrick, "Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law," The New York Times, November 19, 2006 --- Click Here

    There is a sense the nation's culture and politics are and have been changing, shifting, and agreement that the election was not a realigning one but could yet prove to be if, among other things, Republicans fail to step back, refind and rethink their philosophy, style, priorities and meaning. They must develop a conservatism that speaks for and to the times. And stop being pigs--i.e., earmarking careerists who started with belief and wound up with hunger.
    Peggy Noonan, "Who'll Claim the Center? Republicans and Democrats adjust to last week's power shift," The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110009255

    As for Democrats, they have a unique opportunity, one they haven't had in 14 years, to redefine for the public what their party is. It is their chance to change their public label. Now, with the cameras of the country trained on Capitol Hill, they can throw off the old baggage of the 1960s and '70s and erase the cartoon version of their party, which is culturally radical, weak in its defense of America, profligate, McGovernite, bitterly devoted to the demands of its groups as opposed to the needs of America.
    Peggy Noonan, "Who'll Claim the Center? Republicans and Democrats adjust to last week's power shift," The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110009255
    Jensen Comment
    The Democrats will have two huge advantages if they regain control over all three branches of government. The New York Times and The Washington Post might then stop publishing classified national security secrets.

    If I Did It, Here's How It Happened.
    O.J. Simpson describing how he would have carried out the murders of two victims in his new book and TV movie --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    His publisher claims it is actually a confession in The New York Times on November 17, 2006. On the heels of the Rodney King fiasco, I doubt if Simpson's jury would've punished him had he confessed. The TV special will carried by Fox Network during the final week of the November. It will air around Thanksgiving because OJ's purportedly the world's best carver. Fox News is hoping he'll carve up the Democratic Party over the next two years.

    Airlines have misplaced more bags — up to 92 percent more than last year — since a ban on liquids took effect.
    Jeff Bailey, The New York Times, November 12, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/business/12baggage.html?ref=business

    The market is a place where men may deceive one another.
    Anacharsis (499-428 b.C.) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacharsis

    Mothers, food, love, and career. the four major guilt groups.
    Kathy Guisewite as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-10-30-06.htm

    More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
    Woody Allen (1935) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woody_Allen

    Be careful who you choose for an enemy because that is who you become most like.
    Friedrich Nietzsche as quoted in recent email messages from Pat Doherty

    It's this love I have for books that's made me the smartest idiot in the world.
    Louise Brooks (1667-1745) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Brooks

    Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.
    Edward Sapir (1884-1939) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Sapir

    Iran Press News translated Iranian press reports that admitted that major bribes had been paid to European countries to attract their support and cooperation with Tehran’s regime.
    Free Republic, November 12, 2006 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1737641/posts

    The patron saint of accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, security guards and tax collectors is Saint Matthew of Apostle fame, and he also was the author of one of the Gospels. Before becoming an Apostle, however, he started out as a Jewish tax collector at Capernaum. Little is know about him, outside the seven references he has in the Gospels. In medieval art, Saint Matthew is represented under the symbol of a winged man, carrying in his hand a lance as a characteristic emblem - his artistic calling card if you will. He is one of the originals in the pantheon of patron saints.
    "Honoring the Patron Saint of Accountants on All Saints' Day," AccountingWeb, November 1, 2006 ---
    http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102756

    The only economic lever that Mr. Friedman would allow government to use was the one that controlled the supply of money — a monetarist view that had gone out of favor when he embraced it in the 1950s. He went on to record a signal achievement, predicting the unprecedented combination of rising unemployment and rising inflation that came to be called stagflation. His work earned him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 1976 . . . “His thinking has so permeated modern macroeconomics that the worst pitfall in reading him today is to fail to appreciate the originality and even revolutionary character of his ideas,” said Ben S. Bernanke, now chairman of the Federal Reserve, in a speech honoring Mr. Friedman in 2003.Professor Friedman also a leading force in the rise of the “Chicago School” of economics, a conservative group within the department of economics at the University of Chicago. He and his colleagues became a counterforce to their liberal counterparts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, influencing close to a dozen American winners of the Nobel prize in economics.
    Holcomb P. Noble, "Milton Friedman, a Leading Economist, Dies at 94," The New York Times, November 16, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/16/business/17friedmancnd.html?hp&ex=1163739600&en=b22d188423a336e8&ei=5094&partner=homepage 
    Friedman's Sampler:  A selection of writings from The Wall Street Journal --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009267
    Creative Quotations by Milton Friedman --- http://thinkexist.com/quotes/milton_friedman/
    Also see http://www.memorable-quotes.com/milton+friedman,a446.html  and http://creativequotations.com/one/977.htm
    Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

    So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not.
    Milton Friedman's most famous and most controversial quotation.
    Jensen Comment
    This quotation is often misrepresented by academic liberals. Dr. Friedman never argued that corporate social responsibility and employee relations initiatives were necessarily contrary to optimal business management. The question is whether or not these initiatives help or harm shareholders. Such initiatives may be extremely valuable for long-term survival and profitability. What's bad, however, is when corporate executives view themselves as primarily responsible to constituencies other than shareholders. Executives were not selected or elected to serve constituencies at the expense of shareholders. These controversies are especially prevalent in current economic globalization when countries like India and China are offering lower cost alternatives for labor and quality products that benefit consumers but not U.S. plant workers.




    Question
    What do students in accounting and religious studies have in common?

    Answer
    They both encounter the great divide in higher education. You can substitute the word "religion" with "accounting" in most of the following article.

    "The ‘Great Divide’ in Religious Studies," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, November 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/20/religion

    When it comes to introductory courses in religion and theology, the big division isn’t a question of faith, but of priorities.

    Students want lots of discussion in class sessions and they want to learn facts about religious groups. They also want to become better people. Professors aren’t opposed to any of those things, but they are much more interested in teaching critical thinking. While the numbers vary, the gap between students’ and professors’ goals for these courses is evident at both religious and non-religious institutions.

    These are among the results of a national survey of introductory courses in religion and theology. The study will be published in book form next year, but the lead investigator — Barbara E. Walvoord of the University of Notre Dame — gave a preview of the findings Sunday to a standing-room-only audience at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. She spoke of the “great divide” between what professors want to accomplish and what students want to achieve — and a panel of professors who teach intro courses offered their take on dealing with the divergence.

    Walvoord’s study involved surveys of students and faculty members in 533 introductory courses at a wide range of colleges. More than 12,000 students participated. For Sunday’s presentation, Walvoord presented data from 66 courses whose instructors had been identified by their institutions as “highly effective.” Walvoord said that the data on course goals was consistent with the larger group.

    Both students and professors were asked whether certain goals were important. The percentages below are those who said that those goals were either “essential” or “important” for the introductory courses. The secular college category includes both public colleges and private nonsectarian colleges. In most cases at religious colleges, the courses were required and at secular colleges, the courses were not required but were one way to fulfill a general education requirement or enter a major.

    Faculty and Student Priorities for Intro Religious Studies Courses

    Goal Faculty at religious colleges Students at religious affiliations Faculty at secular colleges Students at secular colleges
    Develop critical thinking 84% 65% 92% 59%
    Develop students’ moral and ethical values 52% 73% 25% 54%
    Develop students’ own religious beliefs 42% 70% 8% 51%
    Consider or strengthen students’ commitment to a particular set of beliefs 29% 63% 17% 43%

    Walvoord noted that the statistics are surprising for many kinds of institutions — noting the low percentages of professors at religious institutions with moral and religioius agendas for their students, and the high percentages of students at secular institutions with hopes for such an experience in class.

    Among other findings:

    The findings presented at the meeting Sunday are part of an unusual effort on pedagogy. Participants are helping to gather information, but they are also receiving breakdowns on the surveys of their own students — so professors are trying to apply some of the findings to their own courses, even before final results are out. The project is sponsored by Notre Dame, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and the IDEA Center at Kansas State University. The work comes at a time of considerable discussion on the role of religion in the academy and students’ interest in developing spiritually while they are in college.

    In the discussion at the session, some professors noted that those at public institutions may have lines that they can’t cross. “I teach at a public community college. I can’t care about the religious development of my students,” said one professor in the audience.

    Walvoord stressed that the purpose of the project was not to suggest that there was one “correct” model — and she acknowledged that much depends on institutional mission. But she said it was important to talk about the assumptions students and professors bring to the courses. In response to the community college professor’s question, Walvoord also said that in her interviews with study participants, she has found that many have “official” course goals for the syllabus and “sub rosa goals” that are important and not expressed.

    Those sub rosa goals are all over the place, she said. Some professors at secular institutions do see themselves playing a role in students’ moral development. Some professors at religious institutions have goals of teaching their students to be more tolerant of others’ beliefs or to rely on sources other than the Bible to make arguments.

    In the Classroom

    Professors from both religious and secular institutions spoke at the session about how they try to balance the issues raised by the study. One common issue about which professors spoke was trying to help students see that that the role of professor isn’t the same as the role of a clergy member — even when the professor is ordained.

    David C. Ratke is an assistant professor of religion at Lenoir-Rhyne College, a North Carolina college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, in which Ratke is an ordained pastor. One of the things he does on the first day of his introductory course is talk about his own religious and intellectual development, and to talk about his overlapping but not identical interests in his students. As a Lutheran, he said, he feels “jubilant” when a student embraces the faith or comes to a deeper understanding of it. But as a professor he is focused on intellectual development — and strives to help students understand the subject matter regardless of their faith.

    Across the country, James K. Wellman teaches religion in a very different environment at the University of Washington, a public university where most of his students do not profess any religion. While he is frank in class, Wellman said he also sets up a space where he and his students can be even more open. He holds weekly “coffee hours” where the ground rules are that nothing he says can be held against him and that he can’t hold against a student anything he or she says.

    In class, Wellman said he’s constantly trying to challenge students’ assumptions, asking them what religious bias may be involved in terms like “war on terrorism” or what lessons about the religious right can be learned from the fall of Ted Haggard, the Colorado evangelist who was until recently campaigning against gay marriage while having a relationship with a male prostitute. But in between those challenges, Wellman said that he’s also very conscious that what students want is information and values: “They want to learn about differences. Tell us who the Muslims are. They want to overcome their prejudices,” he said.

    Some of this material may be ‘boring” to professors, he said, but the study has reminded him of its importance.

    In many cases, professors said, general education skills of critical education can be combined effectively with subject matter instruction. Martha Reineke, a professor of religion at the University of Northern Iowa, has students write religious autobiographies in which they are encouraged to start with older relatives, preferably grandparents, and trace the evolution of their own religious beliefs.

    Many of her students are from the area and have families who have lived in the area for generations, and they may think of religious belief as unchanging. Reineke said that these multi-generation reports get students thinking about the evolution of religious belief, as they learn about era when Protestant-Roman Catholic intermarriage would have been unthinkable, for instance. In another exercise, she uses an essay about the significance in Hinduism of where in the home certain religious objects are located, and then has students shift gears and think about the significance of the location of religious objects in their homes.

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    What professors face today is that knowledge bases of their disciplines are approaching infinity in modern times relative knowledge archives in prior to the 20th century. Some rightly prefer to not to teach in the same way professors taught before the 20th century. Others in search of higher teaching evaluations give in to student demands to teach the facts --- "just the facts mam." In accounting many of the leading research professors do not even want to sacrifice their own time learning the exceedingly complex rules (principles, standards) for complicated contract accounting requirements. These professors prefer study of research methods, techniques, and critical thinking. Accounting students want to learn more about the complex rules. Reasons vary --- Complex rules appeal to our great memorizing students who migrate toward accounting; Complex rules are on the dreaded CPA examination; Knowledge of complex rules can lead to higher job performance evaluations.

    I think that in professions like medicine, law, accounting, and engineering that it is unwise to teach at either extreme of facts versus critical thinking. I would most certainly hate to rely on a brain surgeon who's only learned how to think critically. I want my attorneys to know a tremendous amount of facts about statutes. I certainly want my bridge builders to know a lot of facts about materials and structural forces. But I also want these professionals to be able to think critically and reason creatively when encountering situations not covered in existing knowledge bases. But mark of a professional scholar still lies in knowing a huge amount of the facts in the knowledge base of the profession. The rhetorical question is how much of that should be learned in college courses. Students most certainly want to graduate with a significant understanding of the knowledge bases of their chosen disciplines.


    Greater clinical focus ahead for law schools?
    Clinical work, along with a professional ethics course, are the only two requirements in years two and three at Stanford Law. Kramer said he would like to make the clinical programs more central to the curriculum. When the law school switches to its quarter schedule, Kramer said he would like to make quarter-long clinical training an option. He said clinical rotations could take students outside of Stanford to other universities.
    Elia Powers, Beyond the First Year, Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/08/stanford

    Bob Jensen's threads on the theory versus clinical issue, particularly in doctoral programs, can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#DoctoralPrograms


    Redesigning an MBA Curriculum Toward the Action: 
    Why Aren't Accountants Headed on the Same Paths?

    "Wall Street Warms To Finance Degree With Focus on Math," by Ronald Alsop, The Wall Street Journal,  November 14, 2006; Page B7 --- Click Here

    Just a few years ago, the University of California, Berkeley, found its master's degree in financial engineering a hard sell. Wall Street had cut back sharply on hiring, and many recruiters were still fixated on M.B.A. graduates.

    "The doors were shut on us at the human-resource level on Wall Street," recalls Linda Kreitzman, executive director of the financial engineering program at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. "I had to go directly to managing directors to get our students placed after we started the program in 2001."

    Now, in a turnabout, it's often the banks and hedge funds that are calling on Dr. Kreitzman and offering her graduates six-figure compensation packages. "They have come to realize they really need students with strong skills in financial economics, math and computer modeling for more complex products like mortgage- and asset-backed securities and credit and equity derivatives," she says. This fall, all 58 financial engineering students seeking internships found spots at such companies as Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Their projects will include credit portfolio valuation, artificial-intelligence trading models and structured fixed-income products.

    While the master's in business administration certainly remains in high demand, companies are increasingly interested in other graduate-level credentials, including Ph.D.s and master's degrees in specific business fields. Deutsche Bank, for example, has hired Ph.D. and master-of-finance graduates in Europe for some time and is now recruiting more in the U.S. as well.

    "We are continually looking for strong quantitative skills," says Kristina Peters, global head of graduate recruiting. With a master's degree in finance, "there tends to be more applied finance knowledge such as derivatives pricing."

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    The big question is where will auditing firms find accountants that can handle the exotic contracts written by the financial engineers?


    The U.S. is Racing Downhill in Mathematics
    The changes are being driven by students’ lagging performance on international tests and mathematicians’ warnings that more than a decade of so-called reform math — critics call it fuzzy math — has crippled students with its de-emphasizing of basic drills and memorization in favor of allowing children to find their own ways to solve problems. At the same time, parental unease has prompted ever more families to pay for tutoring, even for young children. Shalimar Backman, who put pressure on officials here by starting a parents group called Where’s the Math?, remembers the moment she became concerned.
    Tamar Lewin, "As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics," The New York Times, November 14, 2006 --- Click Here


    Forensic statisticians hunting for hidden messages in digital images
    What you don't see in a picture may hurt you
    Two Iowa State mathematicians have developed software that will detect secret files in seemingly innocent digital images. Jennifer Davidson and Cliff Bergman, both professors in the math department, are fine-tuning the artificial neural net (ANN). When plopped into a computer, the ANN will work like radar that culls out suspicious images.

    "Forensic statisticians hunting for hidden messages," PhysOrg, November 9, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82313809.html


    Three Cheers for a Courageous Rep. Rangle:
    He teams up with Senator Kerry to raise the intelligence level of the Army
    Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way. Rep. Charles Rangel D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
    "Rep. Rangel will seek to reinstate draft," Yahoo News, November 19, 2006 --- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061119/ap_on_go_co/military_draft
    Also see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53022
    Jensen Comment
    Yellowed though it is, I still carry my Kossuth County Registration (Draft) Card. I may need it since Rep. Rangel will be all-powerful as the new Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that controls spending legislation. I think this is one of the few strong moves, possibly the only strong move, by the newly empowered Democrats that courageously flies into the face of political correctness. Now if Rep. Rangle would put an end to earmarks and lobbyist corruption of lawmakers. Nothing on earth, however, is strong enough to put a majority of honest men and women in Congress.


    The holiday season brings out more scam artists from all over the world
    This is an interesting set of links from the Federal Trade Commission

    Like the IRS site, the FTC site is one of the most helpful (and free) sites in the United States

    Consumer Information --- http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-prod.htm

    • Ads for International Drivers' Licenses or Permits Could Be a Dead End [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • After a Disaster: Repairing Your Home [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Aging Parents and Adult Children Together (A/PACT) [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Alaskan Native Art [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • All That Glitters... How to Buy Jewelry [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Auction Guides: Not So Hot Properties [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Beloved...Bejeweled...Be Careful: What to Know Before You Buy Jewelry [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Buying a Washing Machine? It's a Load-ed Question [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Buying, Giving, and Using Gift Cards [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Buying Gold and Gemstone Jewelry: The Heart of the Matter [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Buying Time: The Facts About Pre-Paid Phone Cards [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Can Anti-Snoring Claims Be Cause for Alarm? [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Caring for Your Clothes [TEXT]
       
    • Choosing a Career or Vocational School [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Cigars: No Such Thing As a Safe Smoke [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Clothing Care Symbol Guide [TEXT]
       
    • Continuity Plans: Coming to You Like Clockwork [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Cost of "Free" Adult Content Adds Up [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Diversity Visa Lottery; Read the Rules, Avoid the Rip-Offs [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Eco-Speak: A User’s Guide to the Language of Recycling [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Electronic Checkout Scanners Campaign [TEXT]
       
    • Entertainment Ratings: Pocket Guide [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • The Eyes Have It -- Get Your Prescription [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • 'Free Grants': Don't Take Them For Grant-ed [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • "Free" and "Low-Cost" PC Offers. Go Figure. [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • FTC Explains ‘Made in USA’ Standard To Confirm Cons. Confidence [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Funerals: A Consumer Guide [TEXT]
       
    • The Gifting Club "Gotcha" [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Gear Up for a Great Trip - Traveler Game [TEXT]
       
    • Green Card Lottery Scams [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Holiday Shopping: Is a Sale Price Your Best Deal? [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Home-Use Tests For HIV Can Be Inaccurate, FTC Warns [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Home Improvement: Tools You Can Use Campaign [TEXT]
       
    • Home Insulation Basics: Higher R-Values = Higher Insulating Values [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Home Sweet Home Improvement [TEXT] [PDF]
    • How to Buy Genuine American Indian Arts and Crafts [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • How to Right a Wrong [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • If You've Got "The Look" ... Look Out! Avoiding Modeling Scams [TEXT] [PDF]
    • Internet Auctions: A Guide for Buyer and Sellers [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Invention Promotion Firms [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Jingle Bells, Jingle Sells: Tips for Holiday Shopping [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Kitchen Gadgets Offer Food for "Thaw-t" [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Living Trust Offers: How to Make Sure They're Trust-worthy [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Long Distance Deals [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Lotions and Potions: The Bottom Line About Multilevel Marketing Plans [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Making Sense of Long Distance Advertising [TEXT]
       
    • Making Sure the Scanned Price Is Right [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • More Than Once Upon a Mattress: Used Bedding Labeling Rules [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Need a Lawyer? Judge for Yourself [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Now Consumers Can Tell It to the FTC - Toll-Free [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Personal Emergency Response Systems [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Petal Pushers: Is Your 'Local' Florist Really Long-Distance? [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Prenotification Negative Option Plans [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Problems With Holiday Purchases? [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Project CLEAN Campaign [TEXT]
       
    • Pump Fiction [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Radiation Shields: Do They 'Cell' Consumers Short? [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Resolving Consumer Disputes: Mediation and Arbitration [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • A Rose Is A Rose Is A Ruse? Campaign [TEXT]
       
    • Safe Shopping Tips (Holiday Shopping Tips) [TEXT]
       
    • Service Contracts [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Servicing Your Furnace (audio) [RAM] [MP3]
       
    • So You've Got a Great Idea? Campaign [TEXT]
       
    • Solving Consumer Problems [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Spotting Sweet-Sounding Promises of Fraudulent Invention Promotion Firms [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Sun-Protective Clothing: Wear It Well [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Sunscreens and Sun-Protective Clothing [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Taking the "Bait" Out of Rebates [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Thinking About a Home Improvement? Don't Get Nailed [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Tips for Making Environmental Marketing Claims on Mail [TEXT]
       
    • Trial Offers: The Deal Is in the Details [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Unordered Merchandise [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Up In Smoke: The Truth About Tar and Nicotine Ratings [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Using Internet Access Products [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Warranties [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Warranties for Newly Built Homes: Know Your Options [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Wash Daze: Laundry Gadgets Won't Lighten the Load [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Weathering the High Cost of Heating Your Home [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads [TEXT] [PDF]
       
    • Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services [TEXT]

    Business Information--- http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-prod.htm

    The Federal Trade Commission home page is at http://www.ftc.gov/

    Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm


    Richard Campbell notes a nice white collar crime blog edited by some law professors --- http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/ 


    What is robbing a bank compared to founding a bank?
    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertolt_Brecht

    Dirty Tricks the Banks are Trying to Pull on You:  Some Things You Can Do About It

    "Bank, ATM Fees Reach Record Highs," AccountingWeb, November 13, 2006 ---
    http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102798

    The Fall 2006 Checking Account Pricing Study, a survey conducted by Bankrate.com, found that some customer fees and requirements hit record highs.

    "What makes these fees especially irritating is that they're avoidable," according to Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. "It's something that pops up and bites you when you're not careful."

    Average Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fees charged users of machines at banks where users do not have an account, were a record $1.64, up a dime in a year. Although six banks reduced fees, 22 banks increased the amount, bringing the number of banks with ATMs that charge users to a record 98.3 percent. A lower percentage of banks-77 percent- are assessing fees on their customers who use other bank's ATMs and maintain a minimum balance on an interest account. Using numbers from the General Accounting Office (GAO), Bankrate.com estimated that customers would pay a total of $4.2 billion for non-bank ATM withdrawals in 2006, a slight drop from 2005

    There is no better news concerning minimum opening deposits, which rose to record highs on both types of accounts, with interest accounts getting hit the hardest, at a 43 percent increase, up to an average $615.41. Non-interest account opening balances, although only $87.67, still posted a 21 percent increase, with an average $209.72 required minimum balance. This is the second lowest number ever found by the survey. Monthly fees for these accounts are also at a record low.

    The balance requirement to earn interest and avoid fees is a whopping $2,660. The recent string of rate hikes is not reflected in the dismal 0.34 percent yield. Bankrate.com states "there is no need to maintain a large balance in a low yielding account when so many checking accounts come without balance requirements or fees."

    Fees on bounced checks, non-sufficient fund (NSF) checks, hit a record high average $27.40, with 85 banks posting increases and 32 decreasing account fees. AccountingWEB contacted customer service agents at various banks and discovered that fee policies vary and it is wise to check the policy in the city and state in which the account was opened. If the account remains negative for a certain number of days, either a one time or a daily fee may be assessed, depending on the bank policy.

    To earn interest at an online bank and avoid checking fees, it costs about half the balance required at a regular bank, but the initial opening balance is higher, at $605. The monthly service charge is also about half, $5.50 compared to $10.74. Although the online interest rate is higher, Bankrate.com maintains neither rate seems worth tying up the money which could yield more invested in other places.

    The general advice to avoid fees is to shop around and check out all of the fees at a bank before opening an account, choose an account that fits individual needs, maintain minimum balances if required and keep track of balances, including checks written and any money withdrawn from the account through ATMs or account debit cards. This way the money will remain in your account and not on the banks profit statement.

    The North Palm Beach online financial service surveyed 248 large banks and thrifts offering checking accounts, with 215 non-interest accounts and 247 interest accounts evaluated, using one non-interest and one interest checking account each, in 25 large U.S. markets.

    "Enhancing the Role of Competition in the Regulation of Banks," Federal Trade Commission, February 16, 1998 ---
    http://www.ftc.gov/bc/international/docs/compcomm/1998--Enhancing the Role of Competition.pdf

    The Independent Community Bankers of America is not the best place to search for the dirty secrets of banking, but the ICBA does have some helpful advice for consumers --- http://www.icba.org
    Especially note the consumer education resources at http://www.icba.org/consumer/index.cfm?ItemNumber=11331

    The American Bankers Association is not the best place to search for the dirty secrets of banking, but the ABA does have some very helpful advice for consumers at http://www.aba.com/Consumer+Connection/default.htm

    Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm

    Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


    "FIVE YEARS LATER: USA PATRIOT ACT'S IMPACT ON BANKS"
    Fortent --- http://www.fortent.com/

    Summary from Accounting Education News --- http://accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=newsdetails&id=143852

    "Five years ago [last October], the regulatory environment for financial institutions was transformed virtually overnight," observes Sandy Jaffee, CEO of Fortent, a specialist in anti-money laundering, Know Your Customer, and fraud detection technology. "The passage of the PATRIOT Act in October of 2001 brought a whole new level of regulatory oversight to banks and other segments of the financial industry." The USA PATRIOT Act -- Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 -- has spurred these key developments in the financial services industry, says Ms. Jaffee.

    Signed by President Bush on October 26, 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act has "elevated compliance to a top-level issue for boards of directors," says Ms. Jaffee. "Directors and financial executives are increasingly concerned about reputational risk and have created demand in the market for new ways to solve their compliance problems."

    The USA PATRIOT Act -- Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 -- has spurred these key developments in the financial services industry, says Ms. Jaffee:

    New burden on smaller banks - Large banks, often the first focus of regulatory activity, have been able to develop compliance systems to meet the relatively measured pace of regulatory change since the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. But the PATRIOT Act has brought a new and urgent spotlight on mid-size and smaller banks as money launderers have shifted their schemes to financial institutions with the least internal enforcement capacity. Examiners are now applying the same standard of "zero tolerance" in detection and reporting requirements to both regional and global institutions. New to such intense regulatory oversight, smaller banks are facing huge implementation and cost challenges to put adequate compliance programs in place.

    Scrutiny beyond banks - The segments of the financial industry that fall outside the scope of banking regulators are also expanding their enforcement efforts to thwart money launderers seeking unregulated businesses. The PATRIOT Act expanded compliance requirements, previously mandated only for banks, to the broker/dealer community, insurance companies, mutual funds, and other financial entities. This year, in its first-ever enforcement action under the PATRIOT Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned a broker-dealer for violating customer identification requirements.

    Demand for expertise - Changes in legislation as well as the specific needs for technology to address these compliance issues have created a demand for multi-dimensional professionals who combine expertise in banking, technology, and compliance. Banks are recruiting experts attuned to regulatory expectations, even hiring former policy-makers and examiners as key members of their compliance staff. But organizations have found such people in short supply, leading to stiff competition for those workers.

    Demand for efficient technology - Instead of installing compliance technology that slows operations, businesses are demanding that compliance systems be integrated into existing business processes to improve workflow and productivity.

    Trend toward integrated regulatory standards - The five biggest federal regulatory agencies are working more closely than ever to create common compliance standards for the financial businesses they regulate.

    Higher costs of non-compliance - The proven consequences of non- compliance - fines of up to $80 million, the personal liability of board directors and top executives in public companies, stiff penalties curbing business expansion, millions of dollars in remediation costs, and reputational damage - are forcing banks to rethink what compliance will cost.

    "What the changes of the past five years have shown are the depth and breadth to which the PATRIOT Act has affected every size financial institution," observes Ms. Jaffee. "Once seen as a routine, check-the-box issue, compliance is now regarded as essential to protecting reputational risk."


    Dilbert  has a blog --- http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/


    Untold Stories of Kindness:  Listen to this story
    As an Army medic in Iraq, Sgt. Ernesto Haibi has seen his share of violence and death. But despite his wartime experiences, Haibi believes mankind's goodness can foster a positive, more peaceful future.
    "Untold Stories of Kindness:  Listen to this story," by Ernesto Haibi, NPR, November 13, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6479980


    Question
    Do students need more protection from their professors who expound political views?

    For all the fears about David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights, the proposal ended up going nowhere in state legislatures last year. But in Pennsylvania, the House of Representatives voted to create a special legislative committee to investigate the state of academic freedom and whether students who hold unpopular views need more protection. The special committee held hearings — amid charges and countercharges from Horowitz, his allies, college presidents, faculty groups and others.
    Scott Jaschik, "Who Won the Battle of Pennsylvania?" Inside Higher Ed, November 16, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/16/tabor

    Bob Jensen's threads on free speech and academic freedom controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#AcademicFreedom


    2006 Creativity Professors of the Year

    "Professors honored for creativity," by Marissa Levy, USA Today, November 16, 2006 --- Click Here

    The national winners are:

    Baccalaureate colleges

    Kenneth Brashier, 41, the bone-grilling professor of religion and humanities and scholar of Chinese studies at Reed College in Portland, Ore., says he strategically plans each of his lectures to capture student attention and maximize participation.

    "One thing I do all the time is try to envision myself in the (student's seat). I'm always asking myself, 'If I was a student taking my class, what would I have wanted out of me?' "

    Community colleges

    Mark Lewine, 60, professor of anthropology at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, says the award is a high point in his 35-year teaching career. Lewine earned the top-professor chops for his dedication to promoting community college education, the education council says.

    "A community college to me is a very magical place for anyone interested in interacting with a highly diverse group of people," Lewine says.

    Doctoral and research universities

    Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at the University of California-Berkeley, won for a teaching style that goes beyond the traditional lecture to incorporate music, visual props and digital media.

    "For example, I jump from the floor to chairs to desks as I catch colored balls students toss at me to illustrate the change in atomic energy level by electrons absorbing photons," Filippenko says.

    Master's universities and colleges

    Donna Boyd, professor of anthropology at Virginia's Radford University, was honored for her dedication to forensic anthropology and providing students with hands-on practice in the field, including trips to crime scene investigations and case studies on human remains.

    "The power of knowledge is most relevant when applied outside of the classroom," Boyd says.


    The Causey of It All --- At Long Last

    Of all the Enron accounting executives (Fastow was the CFO who knew epsilon about accounting) I wanted Rick Causey sent up river. Causey was the Chief Accounting Officer who worked out most of the accounting fraud and was the closest conspirator with David Duncan, Andersen's manager of the less-than-independent audit. Causey mysteriously was not called on to testify in the trials of Lay and Skilling, purportedly because he was "not a rat." It appears that he was a bit more of a rat than previously reported.

    "Ex-Enron Officer Given 5½ Years in Prison," The New York Times, November 16, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/16/business/16enron.html

    Richard A. Causey, the last of the top Enron executives to learn his punishment, was sentenced Wednesday to five and a half years in prison for his role in the corporate accounting scandal.

    Mr. Causey, 46, the company’s former chief accounting officer, pleaded guilty in December to securities fraud, two weeks before he was to be tried along with the founder of Enron, Kenneth L. Lay, and the former chief executive, Jeffrey K. Skilling, on conspiracy, fraud and other charges related to the company’s collapse.

    Mr. Causey had agreed to serve seven years in prison. Prosecutors said they could have recommended it be reduced to five if they were pleased with his cooperation.

    Mr. Causey also agreed to pay $1.25 million to the government and to forfeit a claim to about $250,000 in deferred compensation as part of his plea deal. Unlike some others at Enron, he did not skim millions of dollars for himself.

    Prosecutors dropped their plan to seize Mr. Causey’s home, a $950,000 two-story red-brick house in a Houston suburb.

    Mr. Causey had faced more than 30 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading, lying to auditors and money laundering.

    In his guilty plea, made in Federal District Court, he admitted making false public findings and statements.

    He did not testify in the Lay-Skilling trial this year, though he was on the defense witness list.

    Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay were convicted in May of conspiracy and fraud. Mr. Lay’s convictions were wiped out with his July death from heart disease. Mr. Skilling was sentenced last month to more than 24 years in prison.

    Andrew S. Fastow, Enron’s former chief financial officer, whose schemes helped doom the company, was sentenced in September to six years.

    Mark E. Koenig, Enron’s former director of investor relations, and Michael J. Kopper, an Enron managing director and Mr. Fastow’s top aide, are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

    Enron collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2001 after years of accounting tricks could no longer hide billions in debt or make failing ventures appear profitable.

    Bob Jensen's threads on Rick Causey are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm

    Why white collar crime pays for Chief Enron Accountant: 
    Rick Causey's fine for filing false Enron financial statements:    $1,250,000
    Rick Causey's stock sales benefiting from the false reports:     $13,386,896
    That averages out to winnings of $2,427,379 per year for each of the five years he's expected to be in prison
    You can read what others got at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#StockSales 
    Nice work if you can get it:  Club Fed's not so bad if you earn $6,650 per day plus all the accrued interest over the past 15 years.


    Creative Accounting by Creative Michael Dell
    Dell said yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission had started a formal investigation into its accounting practices, but provided no other details of the inquiry that began in August. As a result, the computer company said it was delaying the release of its third-quarter financial results until the end of the month. It had planned to announce them today after the markets closed. The company said the delay was not because of the new status of the investigation, but rather because of the difficulty of answering government queries, conducting its own inquiry and quickly compiling complex financial information.
    Damon Darlin, "Dell Accounting Inquiry Made Formal by S.E.C.," The New York Times, November 16, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/16/technology/16dell.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin

    Dell's independent auditor in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#PwC


    The 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement, released November 13, 2006, for the first time offers a close look at distance education, offering provocative new data suggesting that e-learners report higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and academic challenge than their on-campus peers --- http://nsse.iub.edu/NSSE_2006_Annual_Report/index.cfm

    "The Engaged E-Learner," by Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, November 13, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/13/nsse

    The 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement, released today, for the first time offers a close look at distance education, offering provocative new data suggesting that e-learners report higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and academic challenge than their on-campus peers.

    Beyond the numbers, however, what institutions choose to do with the data promises to attract extra attention to this year’s report.

    NSSE is one of the few standardized measures of academic outcomes that most officials across a wide range of higher education institutions agree offers something of value.Yet NSSE does not release institution-specific data, leaving it to colleges to choose whether to publicize their numbers.

    Colleges are under mounting pressure, however, to show in concrete, measurable ways that they are successfully educating students, fueled in part by the recent release of the report from the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which emphasizes the need for the development of comparable measures of student learning. In the commission’s report and in college-led efforts to heed the commission’s call, NSSE has been embraced as one way to do that. In this climate, will a greater number of colleges embrace transparency and release their results?

    Anywhere between one-quarter and one-third of the institutions participating in NSSE choose to release some data, said George Kuh, NSSE’s director and a professor of higher education at Indiana University at Bloomington. But that number includes not only those institutions that release all of the data, but also those that pick and choose the statistics they’d like to share.

    In the “Looking Ahead” section that concluded the 2006 report, the authors note that NSSE can “contribute to the higher education improvement and accountability agenda,” teaming with institutions to experiment with appropriate ways to publicize their NSSE data and developing common templates for colleges to use. The report cautions that the data released for accountability purposes should be accompanied by other indicators of student success, including persistence and graduation rates, degree/certificate completion rates and measurements of post-college endeavors.

    “Has this become a kind of a watershed moment when everybody’s reporting? No. But I think what will happen as a result of the Commission on the Future of Higher Ed, Secretary (Margaret) Spelling’s workgroup, is that there is now more interest in figuring out how to do this,” Kuh said.

    Charles Miller, chairman of the Spellings commission, said he understands that NSSE’s pledge not to release institutional data has encouraged colleges to participate — helping the survey, first introduced in 1999, get off the ground and gain wide acceptance. But Miller said he thinks that at this point, any college that chooses to participate in NSSE should make its data public.

    “Ultimately, the duty of the colleges that take public funds is to make that kind of data public. It’s not a secret that the people in the academy ought to have. What’s the purpose of it if it’s just for the academy? What about the people who want to get the most for their money?”

    Participating public colleges are already obliged to provide the data upon request, but Miller said private institutions, which also rely heavily on public financial aid funds, should share that obligation.

    Kuh said that some colleges’ reluctance to publicize the data stems from a number of factors, the primary reason being that they are not satisfied with the results and feel they might reflect poorly on the institution.

    In addition, some college officials fear that the information, if publicized, may be misused, even conflated to create a rankings system. Furthermore, sharing the data would represent a shift in the cultural paradigm at some institutions used to keeping sensitive data to themselves, Kuh said.

    “The great thing about NSSE and other measures like it is that it comes so close to the core of what colleges and universities are about — teaching and learning. This is some of the most sensitive information that we have about colleges and universities,” Kuh said.

    But Miller said the fact that the data get right to the heart of the matter is precisely why it should be publicized. “It measures what students get while they’re at school, right? If it does that, what’s the fear of publishing it?” Miller asked. “If someone would say, ‘It’s too hard to interpret,’ then that’s an insult to the public.” And if colleges are afraid of what their numbers would suggest, they shouldn’t participate in NSSE at all, Miller said.

    However, Douglas Bennett, president of Earlham College in Indiana and chair of NSSE’s National Advisory Board, affirmed NSSE’s commitment to opening survey participation to all institutions without imposing any pressure that they should make their institutional results public. “As chair of the NSSE board, we believe strongly that institutions own their own data and what they do with it is up to them. There are a variety of considerations institutions are going to take into account as to whether or not they share their NSSE data,” Bennett said.

    However, as president of Earlham, which releases all of its NSSE data and even releases its accreditation reports, Bennett said he thinks colleges, even private institutions, have a professional and moral obligation to demonstrate their effectiveness in response to accountability demands — through NSSE or another means a college might deem appropriate.

    This Year’s Survey

    The 2006 NSSE survey, which is based on data from 260,000 randomly-selected first-year and senior students at 523 four-year institutions(NSSE’s companion survey, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, focuses on two-year colleges) looks much more deeply than previous iterations of the survey did into the performance of online students.

    Distance learning students outperform or perform on par with on-campus students on measures including level of academic challenge; student-faculty interaction; enriching educational experiences; and higher-order, integrative and reflective learning; and gains in practical competence, personal and social development, and general education. They demonstrate lower levels of engagement when it comes to active and collaborative learning.

    Karen Miller, a professor of education at the University of Louisville who studies online learning, said the results showing higher or equal levels of engagement among distance learning students make sense: “If you imagine yourself as an undergraduate in a fairly large class, you can sit in that class and feign engagement. You can nod and make eye contact; your mind can be a million miles away. But when you’re online, you’ve got to respond, you’ve got to key in your comments on the discussion board, you’ve got to take part in the group activities.

    Plus, Miller added, typing is a more complex psycho-motor skill than speaking, requiring extra reflection. “You see what you have said, right in front of your eyes, and if you realize it’s kind of half-baked you can go back and correct it before you post it.”

    Also, said Kuh, most of the distance learners surveyed were over the age of 25. “Seventy percent of them are adult learners. These folks are more focused; they’re better able to manage their time and so forth,” said Kuh, who added that many of the concerns surrounding distance education focus on traditional-aged students who may not have mastered their time management skills.

    Among other results from the 2006 NSSE survey:

    • Those students who come to college less well-prepared academically or from historically underrepresented groups tend to benefit from engagement in educationally purposeful activities even more than their peers do.
    • First-year and senior students spend an average of about 13 to 14 hours per week preparing for classes, much less than what faculty members say is needed.
    • Student engagement is positively correlated to grades and persistence between the first and second year of college.
    • New students study fewer hours during their first year than they expected to when starting college.
    • First-year students at research universities are more likely than students at other types of institutions to participate in a learning community.
    • First-year students at liberal arts colleges participate in class discussions more often and view their faculty more positively than do students at other institutions.
    • Seniors at master’s level colleges and universities give class presentations and work with their peers on problems in class more than students at other types of institutions do.

    Bob Jensen's threads on distance education and training alternatives around the world are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm


    Soaring Popularity of E-Learning Among Students But Not Faculty
    How many U.S. students took at least on online course from a legitimate college in Fall 2005?

    More students are taking online college courses than ever before, yet the majority of faculty still aren’t warming up to the concept of e-learning, according to a national survey from the country’s largest association of organizations and institutions focused on online education . . . ‘We didn’t become faculty to sit in front of a computer screen,’
    Elia Powers, "Growing Popularity of E-Learning, Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/10/online

    More students are taking online college courses than ever before, yet the majority of faculty still aren’t warming up to the concept of e-learning, according to a national survey from the country’s largest association of organizations and institutions focused on online education.

    Roughly 3.2 million students took at least one online course from a degree-granting institution during the fall 2005 term, the Sloan Consortium said. That’s double the number who reported doing so in 2002, the first year the group collected data, and more than 800,000 above the 2004 total. While the number of online course participants has increased each year, the rate of growth slowed from 2003 to 2004.

    The report, a joint partnership between the group and the College Board, defines online courses as those in which 80 percent of the content is delivered via the Internet.

    The Sloan Survey of Online Learning, “Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006,” shows that 62 percent of chief academic officers say that the learning outcomes in online education are now “as good as or superior to face-to-face instruction,” and nearly 6 in 10 agree that e-learning is “critical to the long-term strategy of their institution.” Both numbers are up from a year ago.

    Researchers at the Sloan Consortium, which is administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, received responses from officials at more than 2,200 colleges and universities across the country. (The report makes few references to for-profit colleges, a force in the online market, in part because of a lack of survey responses from those institutions.)

    Much of the report is hardly surprising. The bulk of online students are adult or “nontraditional” learners, and more than 70 percent of those surveyed said online education reaches students not served by face-to-face programs.

    What stands out is the number of faculty who still don’t see e-learning as a valuable tool. Only about one in four academic leaders said that their faculty members “accept the value and legitimacy of online education,” the survey shows. That number has remained steady throughout the four surveys. Private nonprofit colleges were the least accepting — about one in five faculty members reported seeing value in the programs.

    Elaine Allen, co-author of the report and a Babson associate professor of statistics and entrepreneurship, said those numbers are striking.

    “As a faculty member, I read that response as, ‘We didn’t become faculty to sit in front of a computer screen,’ ” Allen said. “It’s a very hard adjustment. We sat in lectures for an hour when we were students, but there’s a paradigm shift in how people learn.”

    Barbara Macaulay, chief academic officer at UMass Online, which offers programs through the University of Massachusetts, said nearly all faculty members teaching the online classes there also teach face-to-face courses, enabling them to see where an online class could fill in the gap (for instance, serving a student who is hesitant to speak up in class).

    She said she isn’t surprised to see data illustrating the growing popularity of online courses with students, because her program has seen rapid growth in the last year. Roughly 24,000 students are enrolled in online degree and certificate courses through the university this fall — a 23 percent increase from a year ago, she said.

    “Undergraduates see it as a way to complete their degrees — it gives them more flexibility,” Macaulay said.

    The Sloan report shows that about 80 percent of students taking online courses are at the undergraduate level. About half are taking online courses through community colleges and 13 percent through doctoral and research universities, according to the survey.

    Nearly all institutions with total enrollments exceeding 15,000 students have some online offerings, and about two-thirds of them have fully online programs, compared with about one in six at the smallest institutions (those with 1,500 students or fewer), the report notes. Allen said private nonprofit colleges are often set in enrollment totals and not looking to expand into the online market.

    The report indicates that two-year colleges are particularly willing to be involved in online learning.

    “Our institutions tend to embrace changes a little more readily and try different pedagogical styles,” said Kent Phillippe, a senior research associate at the American Association of Community Colleges. The report cites a few barriers to what it calls the “widespread adoption of online learning,” chief among them the concern among college officials that some of their students lack the discipline to succeed in an online setting. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents defined that as a barrier.

    Allen, the report’s co-author, said she thinks that issue arises mostly in classes in which work can be turned in at any time and lectures can be accessed at all hours. “If you are holding class in real time, there tends to be less attrition,” she said. The report doesn’t differentiate between the live and non-live online courses, but Allen said she plans to include that in next year’s edition.

    Few survey respondents said acceptance of online degrees by potential employers was a critical barrier — although liberal arts college officials were more apt to see it as an issue.

    November 10, 2006 reply from John Brozovsky [jbrozovs@vt.edu]

    Hi Bob:

    One reason why might be what I have seen. The in residence accounting students that I talk with take online classes here because they are EASY and do not take much work. This would be very popular with students but not generally so with faculty.

    John

    November 10, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hi John,

    Then there is a quality control problem wherever this is a fact. It would be a travesty if any respected college had two or more categories of academic standards or faculty assignments.

    Variations in academic standards have long been a problem between part-time versus full-time faculty, although grade inflation can be higher or lower among part-time faculty. In one instance, it’s the tenure-track faculty who give higher grades because they're often more worried about student evaluations. At the opposite extreme it is part-time faculty who give higher grades for many reasons that we can think of if we think about it.

    One thing that I'm dead certain about is that highly motivated students tend to do better in online courses ceteris paribus. Reasons are mainly that time is used more efficiently in getting to class (no wasted time driving or walking to class), less wasted time getting teammates together on team projects, and fewer reasons for missing class.

    Also online alternatives offer some key advantages for certain types of handicapped students --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm 

    My opinions on learning advantages of E-Learning were heavily influenced by the most extensive and respected study of online versus onsite learning experiments in the SCALE experiments using full-time resident students at the University of Illinois --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm#Illinois 

    In the SCALE experiments cutting across 30 disciplines, it was generally found that motivated students learned better online then their onsite counterparts having the same instructors. However, there was no significant impact on students who got low grades in online versus onsite treatment groups.

    I think the main problem with faculty is that online teaching tends to burn out instructors more frequently than onsite instructors. This was also evident in the SCALE experiments. When done correctly, online courses are more communication intent between instructors and faculty. Also, online learning takes more preparation time if it is done correctly. 

    My hero for online learning is still Amy Dunbar who maintains high standards for everything:

    http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/002cpe/02start.htm

    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book01q4.htm#Dunbar

    Bob Jensen

    November 10, 2006 reply from John Brozovsky [jbrozovs@vt.edu]

    Hi Bob:

    Also why many times it is not done 'right'. Not done right they do not get the same education. Students generally do not complain about getting 'less for their money'. Since we do not do online classes in department the ones the students are taking are the university required general education and our students in particular are not unhappy with being shortchanged in that area as they frequently would have preferred none anyway.

    John

    Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing and education technology are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm

    Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm

    Motivations for Distance Learning --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#Motivations

    Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side of online learning and teaching are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm


    The SEC released a new, improved search tool for EDGAR --- http://sec.gov/news/press/2006/2006-190.htm

    Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox today announced that investors are now able to search the contents of the disclosure documents filed electronically with the SEC using a new full-text search tool on the Commission's website. The newly searchable information includes registration statements, annual and quarterly reports, and other filings by companies and mutual funds filed during the past four years on the Commission's EDGAR database.

    "When investors and analysts are looking for information about a company or fund, they'll no longer be required to laboriously wade through each individual filing separately to get what they want. Instead, they can now access millions of pages in dozens or even hundreds of company filings all at once," Chairman Cox said. "The availability of this powerful new search capability is a milestone in our interactive data initiative. By harnessing technology to transform corporate disclosure, this new search capability will liberate investors, researchers, and analysts from the more time-consuming and less reliable chore of accessing information in public filings one by one."

    Each year 15 to 18 million pages of filings are submitted to the SEC by more than 15,000 public companies and other filers via the EDGAR system. The EDGAR full-text search allows users to enter a keyword or conceptual search query and retrieve a list of related filings. Searchers may also make use of Boolean operators and wildcard capabilities.

    A full text search of a filing includes all data in the filing as well as any attachments. Other features of the EDGAR Full-Text Search tool include:

    • Search by specific filing type
    • Search by company name
    • Search by Central Index Key (CIK) code
    • Search by industry or Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code
    • Search results limited by date range.

    The EDGAR full-text search tool is available on the SEC website at http://searchwww.sec.gov/EDGARFSClient/jsp/EDGAR_MainAccess.jsp. The Commission plans further enhancements based on user feedback. Requests, comments and suggestions should be sent to textsearch@sec.gov

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


    NPR asked fiction writers to explain the essence of creating a novel,
    from how they write to their approach to writer's block

    "How Writers Create Their Fiction: Chapter One," by Marc Silver and Melody Joy Kramer, NPR, November 10, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6469023

    Featured novelists to date: Jeanne Birdsall Gayle Brandeis Alice Hoffman Ken Kalfus Curtis Sittenfeld

    Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at


    Why this could easily hurt your FICO score!

    "Canceling a card does not help your credit score," by Marshall Loeb, MarketWatch, November 15, 2006 ---
    Click Here

    According to Bankrate.com, canceling your credit card probably won't help your credit score. In fact, it could really hurt it. Here's why: If you cancel a card, your "credit-utilization ratio" is altered. Say you have five open credit-card accounts that add up to a total available credit line of $50,000. Your total outstanding balance on all five cards combined is $10,000. Thus, your credit-utilization ratio is 20%. But if you cancel two of those cards, bringing your total available credit line down to $25,000, the ratio jumps up to 40%. And that can make your credit score go down.

    Bankrate.com also warns against canceling an old card. You build up a payment history on old cards, so if you cancel one you've had for a while, you're only trimming the length of your credit history. This can be especially damaging if the old card was one on which you made regular payments. T

    he best bet, of course, is to simply pay off your cards. Unless you're paying fees to keep an account open, it's good enough to pay down the balance -- and cut that card up.

    Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies and FICO scores are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


    Question
    Was Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek wrong about free markets and prosperity?

    "Dismal Science," by William Easterly, The Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116355956112023480.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

    Scientific American, in its November 2006 issue, reaches a "scientific judgment" that the great Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek "was wrong" about free markets and prosperity in his classic, "The Road to Serfdom." The natural scientists' favorite economist -- Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University -- announces this new scientific breakthrough in a column, saying "the evidence is now in." To dispel any remaining doubts, Mr. Sachs clarifies that anyone who disagrees with him "is clouded by vested interests and by ideology."

    This sounds like one of those moments in which the zeitgeist of mass confusion about national poverty, world poverty and prosperity comes together in one mad tragicomic brew.

    First, Mr. Sachs disses the great Hayek by repeating the old canard that Hayek thought any attempt at taxpayer-funded social insurance would put us all on the "Road to Serfdom." This is an especially strange charge, since Hayek (while certainly opposed to the social engineering that proponents of a full-blown welfare state usually have in mind) himself calls for some form of taxpayer-funded social insurance against severe physical deprivation on pages 133-134 of "The Road to Serfdom." Mr. Sachs, who is currently best known for his star-driven campaign to end world poverty, has apparently spent more time studying the economic thinking of Salma Hayek than that of Friedrich.

    Second, if he had studied (Friedrich) Hayek, Mr. Sachs would realize what "The Road to Serfdom" is really about, and how it is of great relevance to Mr. Sachs's own current work, which has ironically little to do with what he wrote about in Scientific American. Hayek's great book is all about the dangers of large-scale state economic planning, courageously written in 1944 when Soviet central planning, technocratic socialism and administrative control of the wartime economy appealed as a peacetime model to many New Dealers, celebrity economists and policy wonks of all stripes.

    The countries that are now rich subsequently listened enough to Hayek and to common sense to avoid the road to serfdom. Yet today, Mr. Sachs (in his book "The End of Poverty") is peddling his own administrative central plan -- 449 steps in all -- to end world poverty. In his plan, the U.N. secretary-general (to whom he is an adviser) would supervise and coordinate thousands of international civil servants and technocratic experts to solve the problems of every poor village and city slum everywhere. Mr. Sachs is not in favor of central planning as an economic system, but he offers it as a solution, anyway, to the multifold problems of the world's poorest people. If you want the best analysis of why the approach of Mr. Sachs and his confreres in Hollywood and the U.N. will fail to end world poverty this time (as similar efforts failed over the past six decades), you can find it in Hayek.

    Third, Mr. Sachs's attempt to make the case for his best possible society, the Scandinavian welfare state, is a little shaky. If this is what passes for the scientific method in Scientific American, American science is in even worse shape than we thought. Economics is usually about the incentives that cause people to solve their own or other peoples' problems, but to Mr. Sachs, problem-solving seems always to be about raising more public money for whatever cause he is concerned with at the moment. (To give the celebrity economist his due, he does successfully raise the profile of genuinely tragic problems which compassionate people everywhere would like to see alleviated.)

    Mr. Sachs's empirical analysis purports to show that Nordic welfare states are outperforming those states that follow the "English-speaking" tradition of laissez-faire, like the U.K. or the U.S. Poverty rates are indeed lower in the Nordic countries, although the skeptical reader (probably an ideologue) might wonder if the poverty outcome in, say, the U.S., with its tortured history of a black underclass and its de facto openness to impoverished but upwardly mobile immigrants, is really comparable to that of Nordic countries.

    Then there is the big picture, where those laissez-faire Anglophones in, first, the U.K. and, then, the U.S., just happened to have been the leaders of the ongoing global industrial revolution that abolished far more poverty over the past two centuries than a few modest Scandinavian redistribution schemes. Mr. Sachs apparently thinks the industrial revolution was led by IKEA. Lastly, let's hear from the Nordics themselves, who have been busily moving away from the social welfare state back toward laissez-faire. According to the English-speaking ideologues that composed the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark, Finland and Sweden were all included in the 20 countries classified as "free" in 2006 (with Denmark actually ranked ahead of the U.S.). Only Norway missed the cut -- barely.

    Mr. Sachs is wrong that Hayek was wrong. In his own global antipoverty work, he is unintentionally demonstrating why more scientists, Hollywood actors and the rest of us should go back and read "The Road to Serfdom" if we want to know what will not work to achieve "The End of Poverty." Hayek gave the best exposition ever of the unpopular ideas of economic freedom that somehow triumph anyway, alleviating far more national and global poverty than more fashionable Scandinavia-envy and grandiose plans to "make poverty history."

    Mr. Easterly, professor of economics at New York University, is the author of "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good" (Penguin, 2006).

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


    "Small Business Survival Index Released," AccountingWeb, November 13, 2006 ---
    http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102782

    The Washington-based Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC) released their 2006 small-business survival study last week. The Warren (Ohio) Tribune Chronicle reports their results compare states for the tax, spending, regulatory and litigation burdens, according to the council’s chief economist Raymond Keating.

    Small businesses and the spirit of entrepreneurship are important for our economy. Any policies that affect the health and growth of businesses should be examined more closely for obstacles to this sector’s vitality. According to the Small Business Survival Index, some of the contributions of small businesses that make them the backbone of our economy are listed below:

    • 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses have fewer than 500 employees, while nearly 17,000 businesses employ greater than 500.

       

    • Small companies can account for more than 50 percent of nonfarm private GDP.

       

    • Small firms created 1,990,326 net new jobs, while larger firms employing over 500 lost 994,667 net jobs.

       

    • Small businesses also produce 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than larger firms and the patents are more likely to be in the top one percent of the most cited patents.

    The Index saw three new measurements added in 2006, according to the SBEC. Two government-spending indicators and another that examines how each state protects private property were added, according to Tribune Chronicle. The SBEC’s home state of Ohio came in at number 37 in the state ranking by tax burden, while the top ten were geographically diversified:

    1. South Dakota
       
    2. Nevada
       
    3. Wyoming
       
    4. Washington
       
    5. Florida
       
    6. Mississippi
       
    7. Alaska
       
    8. Alabama
       
    9. Texas
       
    10. Michigan

    Their mission statement found on the SBEC Project Vote Smart web site reads, “The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council works to influence legislation and policies that help to create a favorable and productive environment for businesses and entrepreneurship. By educating policymakers, legislators, the media and the public about the critical role that small businesses play in our economy—and how government actions can positively or negatively affect the small business community—SBSC strives to establish a solid public policy foundation upon which entrepreneurial activity and small businesses can survive and flourish.”

    Bob Jensen's small business helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#SmallBusiness


    From The Washington Post on November 14, 2006

    Which fast food chain will start selling video games in late November?

    A. Kentucky Fried Chicken
    B. McDonald's
    C. Pizza Hut
    D. Burger King
     


    World Wide Web Consortium --- http://www.w3.org/

    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. W3C is a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding. On this page, you'll find W3C news, links to W3C technologies and ways to get involved. New visitors can find help in Finding Your Way at W3C. We encourage organizations to learn more about W3C and about W3C Membership.


    "The Invisible Problem of Risk Blindness," by Kevin Dowd, Financial Engineering News, November 2006 --- http://www.fenews.com/fen52/risk-reward/risk-reward.html

    There is an old saying that everything changes, but everything remains the same. This is especially true with financial disasters. The precise circumstances – the people, amounts lost, etc. – always vary, but underneath these superficial differences there are remarkable similarities. There is the hand-wringing and buck-passing, and everyone in a daze wondering how it could have happened. Then people start to ask how the firm could have made a loss that is orders of magnitude bigger than anything their risk models suggested might happen. Their risk models turn out to have been blind to the risks the firm was actually taking and no one realized until too late.

    So what are the causes of this “risk blindness?” One cause is false assumptions. A model and/or risk management strategy might be based on an assumption that markets are liquid. Such an assumption may be valid most of the time, but market liquidity is a function of the market itself and is apt to disappear in crises – which is just when we really need it. Dynamic trading strategies then lead to losses much greater than the models suggested. Another example is when VaR models rely on historical correlations and fail to allow for correlations polarizing in crises. This polarization destroys a portfolio’s diversification and increases the firm’s exposure at the very time when it is most vulnerable. Diversification is just as ethereal as market liquidity, and risk managers should be careful not to take factors like these for granted. Yet another example is where modelers fail to take account of how other parties might respond to the same event. This is rather like assuming one can get safely to the exit if the cinema catches fire, without realizing that everyone else will try to do the same.

    A second cause is estimation error. Risk measures might be based on incorrect parameter estimates or an incorrect model. At one level everyone knows this, but such “small print” is inconvenient and in practice people often gloss over it and treat estimated risk measures “as if” they could take their accuracy for granted. However, problems of estimation error have been well-documented in the literature, and the evidence suggests that many firms are operating with very inaccurate models. If risk managers are not worried about this, they should be.

    A third cause is agency problems or conflicts of interest. Such conflicts are pervasive and any corporate structure will create particular incentives, which people will exploit. For example, if a VaR system is used to control risk taking, traders will “game” that system and seek out positions whose risks are under-estimated by the model. The model itself can’t anticipate how the traders will respond to it, and this reaction means that the firm is more exposed than the VaR model suggests it is.

    Risk Blindness

    The result is that risk managers cannot see all the risks that a firm faces, and this can lead to major errors. If a firm underestimates risk, it will take on more risk than it would otherwise have done, and often increase its risk exposure in situations where a more complete view of its exposure would have led it to do the opposite.

    In many cases, the net result of “risk management” is to smooth the smaller fluctuations at the expense of leaving firms more exposed to the very big ones – in other words, to protect firms against the fluctuations that don’t matter at the cost of increasing their exposure to those that do. A case in point is where risk managers think they have a good dynamic hedging strategy, and then seek to capitalize on it by increasing leverage. The strategy then unravels in a crisis just when it is most needed, and the increased leverage further magnifies losses. This is the opposite of risk management. By contrast, a simple passive strategy would have worked fine.

    These problems are likely to be greatest in three types of situations. One is where we have dynamic as opposed to passive risk management strategies. This is because dynamic strategies are much more dependent on assumptions about nebulous factors such as liquidity. Thus, dynamic strategies are riskier than many people appreciate.

    Another situation is where we have a sophisticated risk management system. Increased sophistication means greater complexity (and therefore greater scope for error), less transparency (making errors harder to detect) and greater dependence on underlying assumptions (any one of which could be wrong). A simple system might look primitive, but is usually transparent and risk managers can easily get a sense of its strengths and weaknesses. This leads to a paradoxical suggestion: the more sophisticated the system, the more unreliable it might be. People often underestimate the dangers of using “sophisticated” systems.

    The third case is where regulations are involved. Regulations damage good risk management by promoting a “regulatory standard” that distracts firms from achieving best practice. Regulation can also impede risk management by pressuring firms to follow similar risk management strategies. The committees that set regulatory rules presume that they can work out what the best practice should be, and then tell all firms to follow them. But forcing all firms into the same straightjacket exacerbates market instability: Everyone selling in a crisis destabilizes the market. From the viewpoint of the market as a whole, if markets are to be stabilized then firms should follow different risk management strategies, and this the regulatory system discourages.

    Possible Solutions

    So what can be done to reduce these problems? Part of the answer is for risk managers to pay more attention to qualitative factors, to focus less on the models and more on the judgmental questions surrounding them. Risk management teams need more people who appreciate these problems – people with backgrounds in social sciences or arts – and these teams need to overcome cross-disciplinary hurdles and communicate effectively. Part of the answer is also for firms to improve their internal risk management; they should look again at how their remuneration policies help tackle agency problems; risk managers should consider their firms’ ability to identify and handle these risk blind spots, they should aim to get a sense of their exposure to model risk, and so on. All these are fairly obvious responses and would help.

    However, some readers might ask: Surely there is something more we can do?

    Well, there is, but it will not be popular. Clearly, we need regulatory reform. So maybe we should think about how to modify the Basel regime to ameliorate these side-effects? I wouldn’t bother. Any reforms that got through would be marginal at best and take ten years of argument, and are as likely to worsen problems as to improve them. Instead, I would suggest a much simpler solution: abolish capital adequacy regulation entirely. Let firms set their own capital requirements and leave it up to them to persuade their customers and investors that they are safe to do business with. The odd firm would fail once in a while, but that is the way markets work. But why stop there? Why not abolish financial regulation altogether and send the regulators packing? The better ones could get jobs in the private sector and the others would end up in academia. This is a simple suggestion, and when I have mischievously suggested this in private over the years to senior Bank of England officials they have agreed. We don’t need armies of regulatory officials; we just need a free market. Many people will object that this is “politically unrealistic” or otherwise “inconvenient.” But abolishing regulation would make a difference – and cost a lot less. So which is more important? Being “politically realistic” or actually tackling the problem? One is reminded of the story of the drunk looking for his key underneath the lamp post. The “politically acceptable” line is that the key must be under the lamp post, but the evidence suggests it might not be, and what if that is true?

    We can also go further. Remember those agency problems?

    Continued in article


    Do we need an arc to float in the flood of over 100,000 new blogs each day?
    Stockpickr has a list of the Top 100 Business Blogs


    Possible Discrimination Against Asian Americans in College Admissions at Princeton University
    Nine out of every 10 students who apply to Princeton University are rejected, and many of them are students with the kinds of records that just about assure they will end up getting a great education somewhere. Jian Li, who despite his top grades and perfect SAT scores was one of this year’s rejects, ended up at Yale University. But he has set off a federal investigation of whether Princeton’s affirmative action policies discriminate against Asian American applicants.
    Scott Jaschik, "New Challenge to Affirmative Action," Inside Higher Ed, November 14, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/14/princeton

    Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action admissions are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#AcademicStandards


    Question
    What's the use of spoof@paypal.com ?

    November 13, 2006 message from Schatzel, John [JSchatzel@STONEHILL.EDU]

    Yeah, these "phishing" scams have netted crocks over $2.8 billion this past year according to an article I read recently. I thought the number sounded high, but they are bombarding people with genuine looking requests from PayPal and Amazon.com saying that your account has been restricted, charged for something you didn't buy, or is being investigated for account tampering by their security staff. A lot of people panic apparently when they see this stuff and reply with personal account information. I feel sorry for them so every time I get one for PayPal I reply by sending it to spoof@paypal.com  and they supposedly investigate them. If anyone has a similar email address for Amazon, please let us know. Just using Amazon's customer service form is not enough. The whole message has to be forwarded to them, so they can investigate the source of the illegal message.

    John Schatzel

    November 14, 2006

    Snopes has a pretty good page for identifying phishing spoofs. Enter "phishing" into the search box at http://www.snopes.com/

    Also see what you get when you enter "Nigerian" into the search box.

    Bob Jensen

    Bob Jensen's threads on phishing and related scams are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm

    Bob Jensen's helpers in restoring identity and related matters are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm


    Just-In-Time Teaching --- http://134.68.135.1/jitt/

    What is Just-in-Time Teaching?

    G. Novak, gnovak@iupui.edu
    Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT for short) is a teaching and learning strategy based on the interaction between web-based study assignments and an active learner classroom. Students respond electronically to carefully constructed web-based assignments which are due shortly before class, and the instructor reads the student submissions "just-in-time" to adjust the classroom lesson to suit the students' needs. Thus, the heart of JiTT is the "feedback loop" formed by the students' outside-of-class preparation that fundamentally affects what happens during the subsequent in-class time together.

    What is Just-in-Time Teaching designed to accomplish?

    JiTT is aimed at many of the challenges facing students and instructors in today's classrooms. Student populations are diversifying. In addition to the traditional nineteen-year-old recent high school graduates, we now have a kaleidoscope of "non-traditional" students: older students, working part time students, commuting students, and, at the service academies, military cadets. They come to our courses with a broad spectrum of educational backgrounds, interests, perspectives, and capabilities that compel individualized, tailored instruction. They need motivation and encouragement to persevere. Consistent, friendly support can make the difference between a successful experience and a fruitless effort. It can even mean the difference between graduating and dropping out. Education research has made us more aware of learning style differences and of the importance of passing some control of the learning process over to the students. Active learner environments yield better results but they are harder to manage than lecture oriented approaches. Three of the "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" encourage student-faculty contact, increased time for student study, and cooperative learning between students.
    To confront these challenges, the Just-in-Time Teaching strategy pursues three major goals:
    • 1. To maximize the efficacy of the classroom session, where human instructors are present.
    • 2. To structure the out-of-class time for maximum learning benefit.
    • 3. To create and sustain team spirit. Students and instructors work as a team toward the same objective, to help all students pass the course with the maximum amount of retainable knowledge.

    What JiTT is Not

    Although Just-in-Time Teaching makes heavy use of the web, it is not to be confused with either distance learning (DL) or with computer-aided instruction (CAI). Virtually all JiTT instruction occurs in a classroom with human instructors. The web materials, added as a pedagogical resource, act primarily as a communication tool and secondarily as content provider and organizer. JiTT is also not an attempt to 'process' large numbers of students by employing computers to do massive grading jobs.

    The JiTT Feedback Loop

    The Web Component

    JiTT web pages fall into three major categories:
    • 1. Student assignments in preparation for the classroom activity: WarmUps and Puzzles.
    • 2. Enrichment pages. Short essays on practical, everyday applications of the course subject matter, peppered with URLs to interesting material on the web. These essays have proven themselves to be an important motivating factor in introductory service courses, where students often doubt the current relevance the subject.
    • 3. Stand alone instructional material, such as simulation programs and spreadsheet exercises.

      For detailed examples of the JiTT web resources, please see the JiTT resources page.

      WarmUps and Puzzles are the heart of the JiTT web component. These are short, web-based assignments, prompting the student to think about the upcoming lesson and  answer a few simple questions prior to class. These questions, when fully discussed, often have complex answers. The students are expected to develop the answer as far as they can on their own. We finish the job in the classroom. These assignments are due just a few hours before class time. The responses are delivered to the instructor electronically to form the framework for the classroom activities that follow. Typically, the instructors duplicates sample responses on transparencies and takes them to class. The interactive classroom session, built around these responses, replaces the traditional lecture/recitation format.
      Students complete the WarmUp assignments before they receive any formal instruction on a particular topic. They earn credit for answering a question, substantiated by prior knowledge and whatever they managed to glean from the textbook. The answers do not have to be complete, or even correct. In fact, partially correct responses are particularly useful as classroom discussion fodder. In contrast to WarmUps, Puzzle exercises are assigned to students after they have received formal instruction on a particular topic. The Puzzles serve as the framework for a wrap-up session on a particular topic.
      The WarmUps, and to some extent the Puzzles, are undergirded by education research and target a variety of specific issues. The list of targeted issues might contain: developing concepts and vocabulary, modeling -- connecting concepts and equations, estimation- getting a feel for magnitudes, relating technical scientific statements to "common sense", understanding the scope of applicability of equations, etc. The targeted issues are highly content specific. They may involve the characteristics of a particular class (e.g. the background skills of a particular student body).
      In preparing WarmUp assignments for an upcoming class meeting, we first create a conceptual outline of the lesson content. This task is similar to the preparation of a traditional passive lecture. As we work on the outline, we pay attention to the pedagogical issues that we need to focus on when in the classroom. Are we introducing new concepts and/or new notation? Are we building on a previous lesson, and if so, what bears repeating? What are the important points we wish the students to remember from the session? What are the common difficulties typical students will face when exposed to this material? (Previous classroom experience and teaching and learning literature can be immensely helpful here). Once this outline has been created, we create broadly based questions that will force students to grapple with as many of the issues as possible. We are hoping to receive, in the student responses, the framework on which we build the in-class experience.

    The Active Learner Classroom

    The JiTT classroom session is intimately linked to the electronic preparatory assignments the students complete outside of class. Exactly how the classroom time is spent depends on a variety of issues such as class size, classroom facilities, and student and instructor personalities. Mini-lectures (10 min max) are often interspersed with demos, classroom discussion, worksheet exercises, and even hands-on mini-labs. Regardless, the common key is that the classroom component, whether interactive lecture or student activities, is informed by an analysis of various student responses.
    In a JiTT classroom students construct the same content as in a passive lecture with two important added benefits. First, having completed the web assignment very recently, they enter the classroom ready to actively engage in the activities. Secondly, they have a feeling of ownership since the interactive lesson is based on their own wording and understanding of the relevant issues.
    The give and take in the classroom suggests future WarmUp questions that will reflect the mood and the level of expertise in the class at hand. In this way the feedback loop is closed with the students having played a major part in the endeavor.
    From the instructor's point of view, the lesson content remains pretty much the same from semester to semester with only minor shifts in emphasis. From the students' perspective, however, the lessons are always fresh and interesting, with a lot of input from the class.
    We designed JiTT to improve student learning in our own classrooms and have been encouraged by the results, both attitudinal and cognitive. We attribute this success to three factors that enhance student learning, identified by Alexander Astin* in his thirty year study of college student success:
     
    • increased amounts and quality of student-student interaction
    • student-faculty interaction
    • student study outside of class.
    By fostering these, JiTT promotes student learning and satisfaction.

    *Astin, Alexander: What matters in college? Four critical years revisited (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993).

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

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


    Electionline (for election reform) --- http://www.electionline.org/


    A rose by any other name is , ... , ah er , ... a required supplemental enhancement charge

    "A Fee That Is Not a Fee," by Paul D. Thacker, Inside Higher Ed, November 9, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/09/enhancement

    But the University of Florida is quite careful to not call the $1,000 yearly hit to students “tuition” or a “fee.” The creative wording is causing some giggles. “The Board of Governors supports this third category of charges,” said Danaya Wright, professor of law and chair of the Faculty Senate. She then laughed. “I was going to say ‘fee,’ but it’s an additional charge.”

    Wright said that the need to create this third category arose because the Legislature is loathe to raise tuition and fees. Florida funds the Bright Futures Scholarship Program which pays for 100 percent of tuition and fees for high school students who apply with a grade point average of 3.5 and 75 percent of that for students with a G.P.A. of 3.0. Around 95 percent of in-state students at Florida are Bright Futures Scholars, and to control the cost of the program, Wright said, the Legislature has effectively frozen tuition and fees, leaving the university in a budget bind. By creating this new charge that is not “tuition” nor a “fee,” the university can raise funds without affecting the budget for Bright Futures — because the students won’t be able to expect the state program to cover the costs.

    Jensen Comment
    My daughter went to the University of Texas. I discovered that Texas is most clever about charging hidden and disguised fees. It turns out that tuition is the cheapest of all the billings of students at UT or so it seems.


    Pumas: Practical Uses of Math and Science --- http://pumas.jpl.nasa.gov/

    Bob Jensen's links to math helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics


    Strum That T-Shirt

    "Aussie scientists help air guitarists rock for real," PhysOrg, November 13, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82612145.html

    Australian government scientists said Monday they had invented a T-shirt which allows wannabe rock star air guitarists to play real music -- without a guitar.

    The shirt has in-built sensors on the elbows which track arms picking imaginary chords and strumming the air, said Richard Helmer of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

    The information is then sent by wireless technology to a computer which generates the music.

    "It's an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music making -- even by players without significant musical or computing skills," Helmer said.

    "It allows you to jump around and the sound generated is just like an original mp3."

    There is a serious side to the "wearable instrument shirt" -- which can also play tambourine -- Helmer said.

    Researchers are now developing applications for the health and sporting sectors, such as physiotherapy devices which track postures and exercises.

    "What we're trying to do is take the human form with our sensors...and reproduce yourself in their virtual world, or the computer world, Internet world, the imaginary world.

    "Because what that allows us to do is then to represent yourself there so that you can get feedback on what you're doing, and you can also be shown to improve your technique."

    The Washington Post take on this is at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/13/AR2006111300233.html?referrer=email

    Jensen Comment
    It struck me how when teens downstairs get romantic how these T-shirts might play a warning tune to parents upstairs via wireless transmissions from the recreation room in the basement.

    On a more serious note, it might be interesting to challenge accounting educators to think of ways this technology might be used for learning accounting --- or is that too much of a stretch?


    "Garments printed with flexible sensors could help people with severely limited mobility control assistive devices," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, November 20, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/17803/


    Germany's Serious Brain Drain
    Its powerhouse economy once pulled in workers from across Europe, but Germany has been shocked to discover that its own highly qualified citizens are now leaving the country in the biggest exodus in more than a century.
    Tony Peterson, "Brain Drain Worries Industry," The Washington Times, November 5, 2006 --- http://www.washtimes.com/world/20061104-112744-8022r.htm


    Why Bush's "No Child Left Behind Law" is wasting a lot of money and leaving a lot of children behind

    "Spellings Exemptions," The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116225557926108365.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    Here's a question for Education Secretary Margaret Spellings: Why won't you enforce the school choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act?

    Under NCLB, children in failing school districts are entitled to free after-school tutoring from state-approved private providers. The failing districts themselves are not permitted to offer their own tutoring programs, which makes sense for at least two reasons.

    First, why should a district receive federal funds for after-school tutoring to serve the same students it is failing to teach during regular hours? And second, a district that can offer its own tutoring service has a disincentive to inform parents of other options, which undermines the whole point of allowing the private sector a role in helping these children learn. This logic seems to have escaped Ms. Spellings, who has granted several waivers to underperforming districts and allowed them to offer their own tutoring at the expense of private providers. What's worse, she won't even enforce the conditions of her waiver.

    For example, the Education Department has granted a waiver to Chicago's public schools, even though that system has been identified repeatedly as "in need of improvement" under NCLB and therefore not allowed to provide after-school tutoring. There is no shortage of private providers -- from Newton Learning to Sylvan to the Princeton Review -- willing to step in and serve the 200,000 or so students in the Windy City eligible for free tutoring.

    But under pressure from teachers unions and public education bureaucrats like the Council of the Great City Schools, Ms. Spellings is allowing the Chicago system to offer its own tutoring. And with predictable results. After assuring the secretary that it would not limit student access to private tutoring, Chicago is doing exactly that. Principals have been directed to give preference to the district's service and limit parent and student access to alternatives. Teachers have handed out registration forms for the district's tutoring program at events where outside providers were banned. A full third of all students enrolled in tutoring are enrolled in the public district's program.

    This pattern shows up in other cities where Ms. Spellings has rewarded underperforming school districts with more time, money and access to their most vulnerable students. School districts in Boston and Tampa, Florida, also have used administrative hurdles to make it very difficult for private and faith-based tutoring programs to reach students.

    Ideally, school districts and tutoring services would work together in the interest of the child and the spirit of the law. The districts would make available to providers a list of eligible students and then ensure that parents know about all of their options. But in practice, and with Secretary Spellings's tacit approval, something closer to the opposite is happening.

    Districts aren't sharing their lists of eligible students. Private providers are denied access to facilities and enrollment forms that the districts are supposed to make available. And when the districts do bother to set up information fairs for private providers, they're often held at inconvenient times or places that guarantee poor attendance. The results are predictable. Last year in Boston, only 3,600 out of 19,000 eligible students received tutoring, and 73% wound up being tutored by the failing district instead of the 19 other providers available to them.

    Ms. Spellings is no doubt trying to be flexible, and an Education Department spokesman described the exemptions to us as "flexibility agreements." The secretary's office also said that it's aware (anecdotally) of suspect district behavior and plans to address it when the programs are reviewed at the end of this year. We hope so. There's a difference between being "flexible" and letting a public school district take you for a ride.

    Along with NCLB's annual testing requirements, these choice provisions are what most recommend the law. Without them, NCLB is little more than another huge and unwarranted increase in federal education spending. The No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization next year; if Ms. Spellings won't enforce its provisions, Congress should let the whole thing expire.

    "Management 101 for Our Public Schools," by Terry M. Moe, The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116225932616808420.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    If incentive pay for teachers is practical, and if it makes good sense, then why is it so rarely used? The answer has to do with politics and power, not with what is best for children. By far the most powerful forces in the politics of education are the teachers unions, and they are opposed to incentive pay. The unions represent the occupational interests of all their members, not just those who are good teachers, and they have a deep resistance to any form of differentiated treatment that threatens member solidarity. Their demand is consistently for across-the-board-raises. Everyone benefits, no one surpasses anyone else. Their vision -- if you can call it that -- is one of stultifying sameness.

    Fortunately, the unions are surrounded by more incentive-pay brush fires than they can put out. The federal program was one of these, adopted despite union opposition. And the unions have also failed to stop two major incentive-pay programs recently adopted in the states. One is in Texas, which allocated $260 million for a program that started this year in roughly 1,000 low-income schools in high-poverty districts, and will be offered next year to all districts. The other is in Florida, which initiated a $147 million program distributing rewards to the top 25% of teachers in participating districts.

    The unions cannot hold back progress forever. Incentive pay is an idea whose time has come. It is an idea that is so unambiguously superior to the status quo -- paying good teachers and mediocre teachers the same -- that the need for reform is obvious. We can fine-tune the details of how to do it as fairly and effectively as possible. But the direction we need to be moving in is clear.

    Continued in article


    Though most victims never learn who stole their identities, half of those who do say the thief was a family member, a friend or neighbor.
    John Leland, "Identity Thief Is Often Found in Family Photo," The New York Times, November 13, 2006 --- Click Here


    "Fourth Grader suspended for failing to answer test question," Zero Tolerance, May 16, 2005 --- http://www.zerointelligence.net/archives/cat_washington.php

    Nine year-old Tyler Stoken, a student in the Aberdeen Public School District, didn't know how to answer an essay question on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning test. As punishment for leaving the question blank his principal suspended him for five days.

    Tyler paraphrases the question saying, "You look out one day at school and see your principal flying by a window. In several paragraphs write what happens next." He's asked, "So why didn't you answer that question?" He says, "I couldn't think of what to write the essay without making fun of the principal."

    He refused to answer the question even after his mother was called to the school. Tyler's mother Amy Wolfe says, "And he said he didn't know the answer. He just didn't know what to write. And they were telling me to make him answer the question."

    He still didn't, so Tyler was given a 5-day suspension. In the letter that went home to mother, the principal writes, "The fact that Tyler chose to simply refuse to work on the WASL after many reasonable requests is none other than blatant defiance and insubordination."

    Continued in article


    Question
    What's a death derivative?

    "Banks to develop ‘death’ derivatives," by Renée Schultes and Mike Foster, Financial News, November 13, 2006 --- http://www.financialnews-us.com/?page=ushome&contentid=1046652811


  • BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank are developing derivative products that pension funds could trade to hedge against the cost of supporting old people who live longer than expected.

    The products, dubbed “mortality derivatives”, would provide pension schemes that have big deficits with an additional tool to manage the cost of servicing the shortfall.

    Partha Dasgupta, chief executive of the UK government-sponsored Pension Protection Fund, hopes to see the development of a market for mortality risk. He said: “We’re trying to encourage the banks to co-operate. Assuming we can get the right pricing data, I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a fully functioning secondary market in five years.”

    Market sources said Credit Suisse, which last year launched a longevity index based on US mortality data, looked at offering products linked to the index but had not gone ahead. It is also looking at launching a longevity index in Europe.

    Investment consultants said a mortality swap, where a pension fund pays a fixed rate to receive protection against changes in mortality, was a likely outcome but cautioned against the bespoke nature of the data necessary to make this work.

    Mark Azzopardi, head of insurance and pensions at BNP Paribas, said: “Creating the ability to trade is not particularly difficult. In any country where a governmental or other independent agency can provide reliable mortality statistics, it doesn’t take much to develop an index from that.

    “We’ve done as much as we can until we see both sides of the market willing to trade.”

    Azzopardi said the emergence of pension buyout companies, such as Paternoster and Synesis, was a positive move towards a tradeable market as they could be writers of swaps.

    Cliff Speed, investment director at Paternoster, said: “It’s something we’ve been considering. We are taking on risk and are able to charge for that. We believe we’re best placed to price that.”

    Others say pharmaceutical companies can expect to sell more products if people live longer and so may be prepared to take the opposite side of a swap.

    Recent actuarial data shows longevity has increased dramatically in recent years. On average, men aged 60 can expect to live to 86. Women of the same age can anticipate reaching 89.

    Banks redoubled their efforts to put together products after BNP Paribas was forced to pull a longevity bond last year. Investors did not like the bond because it did not cover the risk of people living beyond 90, due to the lack of precise statistics on mortality beyond that age. Rashid Zuberi, managing director in Deutsche Bank’s European insurance and pensions group, said now that the markets for interest rate and inflation swapped had matured, pension funds were looking to hedge longevity risk.

    Last week, UK retailer Marks & Spencer said its pension deficit had widened 32% to £1.05bn because its members’ life expectancy had risen.

    Crispin Lace, consultant at Watson Wyatt, said: “The concept is great but when you look at how it works it seems to all fall apart.”

    An investment banker said: “We’ve looked at it but you’ve got the perennial problem of where to hedge. It’s a one-way market. You can offload mortality risk at a price but you’ve always been able to offload it to Prudential.”


  • Technology Update:  Hand-Held Language Translators
    Part of the daily struggle for soldiers and Marines in Iraq is communicating with civilians. But translators and Arabic-fluent soldiers are hard to come by. A hand-held devices may help close that communication gap.
    Xeni Jardin, "Tech Solutions to Iraqi-U.S. Language Barrier," NPR, November 13, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6480428


    Political Science Professors Putting the Blame on Israel

    "Dual Loyalty and the Israel Lobby," by Gabriel Schoenfeld, Commentary Magazine, November 2006 ---
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=12204035_1

    The paper—a massive 82 pages in length buttressed by 211 dense footnotes—argued that America’s special relationship with Israel, arguably an asset to the United States during the cold war, has become a “strategic liability” now that the Soviet Union is no more. Today, wrote Mearsheimer and Walt, although Israel is widely perceived as a “crucial ally in the war on terror,” in fact “the United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel” (emphasis added). Nor is Israel of value in the struggle with rogue states in the Middle East, because these states “are not a dire threat to vital U.S. interests, apart from the U.S. commitment to Israel itself.”

    If the strategic case for American support is flawed, so too, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, is the moral case. As a nation that reserves special privileges for Jews, Israel is “at odds with core American values.” True, Europe’s “long record of crimes” against Jews does add up to a “strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence,” but that does not “obligate the United States to help Israel no matter what it does today.” Besides, “the creation of Israel involved additional crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians.” Israel’s horrendous record as a human-rights violator has continued from its inception to the present day.

    If both the strategic and moral cases for supporting Israel are so unpersuasive, what then, asked Mearsheimer and Walt, can explain the endurance and intimacy of the tie between it and the United States? The answer “lies in the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby”—a body mostly comprising “American Jews making a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel’s interests.” And their “significant effort” is successful. In a “situation [that] has no equal in American political history,” the ability of this domestic pressure-lobby to “manipulate the American political system” has managed to “skew” American policy in ways congruent with its own narrow loyalties—but severely detrimental to our national security.

    So much for the key points of the paper. At the CAIR event in August, held at the National Press Club and televised on C-SPAN, the two men applied their analysis to the recent war in Lebanon. “You can’t really understand what happened there,” Walt asserted, “if you don’t understand the political power of pro-Israel groups in the United States.” Mearsheimer, elaborating, then debunked the conventional view of how the Lebanon war erupted. The real casus belli, he explained, was not the July 12 incident in which Hizballah operatives crossed Israel’s northern frontier, kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, and killed a total of eight; that was merely a “pretext.” Rather, Mearsheimer informed the CAIR audience, “Israel had been planning to strike at Hizballah at an opportune moment”; months earlier, “key Israelis had briefed the administration about their intentions.” What is more, in those briefings the Bush administration had “enthusiastically endorsed Israel’s plans for war.” In the end, moving all the way up Washington’s chain of command, the plan even “got Bush’s endorsement.”

    As for why the administration should have given Israel a green light to behave in this blatantly aggressive way toward Lebanon—a country whose new government, formed in the democratic “cedar revolution” of 2005, the U.S. was avidly supporting—an answer was not far to seek. It could be found, Mearsheimer asserted, in the facts put forward in the two men’s Kennedy School paper. For, in Lebanon as elsewhere, the “Israel Lobby,” using all the varied instruments of influence at its disposal, had “worked overtime from start to finish” to ensure that U.S. and Israeli policies were perfectly aligned. _____________________

    Whatever else can be said of the CAIR event, and of Mearsheimer and Walt’s performance at it, their view of the Lebanon war as the product of extensive collusion between Jerusalem and Washington, a collusion masterminded by the “Israel Lobby,” was certainly a novel one. Indeed, in the question period following his presentation, Mearsheimer was asked to spell out precisely what “hard evidence” existed for his startling allegation. His response: “I think from everything we know that is in the public record at this point in time, it seems quite clear that Israel had planned this event—this offensive—before July 12th.”

    But this was only a restatement of his initial charge, and a partial one at that. Neither at the CAIR event nor subsequently did Mearsheimer adduce any hard evidence—or any evidence at all—in support of his claims. Nor could he, since there is nothing in the “public record” to show that Israelis briefed U.S. officials on a plan to bomb or invade Lebanon in the weeks and months before July 12. No reputable news agency carried such a story, let alone any report of an Israeli war plan reaching all the way to the oval office and the desk of George W. Bush.

    In short, the picture of collusion painted by Mearsheimer and Walt was not a correction of the historical record; it was a historical fabrication. And not merely a fabrication: it was also a slander, and one with several targets. The Bush administration was defamed, made to appear a ready pawn of forces compelling it to act in ways counter to American interests. The state of Israel was defamed, made to appear an aggressor when it acted in self-defense. Organized American Jewry was defamed, made to appear all too eager to place the interests of a foreign power—the state of Israel—ahead of those of the United States—in a word, made to appear disloyal.

    But the CAIR event hardly marked the end of Walt and Mearsheimer’s recent inventions. In late September, speaking to a packed hall at New York’s Cooper Union, Mearsheimer once again put his authority as a scholar behind a central proposition laid out in his and Walt’s original paper—namely, that the “Israel Lobby” in America was “one of the principal driving forces behind” the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and one in whose absence “we probably would not have had a war.” Not only that, he now added, but even the attacks of September 11, 2001 could be laid at the feet of this powerful domestic force. There is, Mearsheimer claimed at Cooper Union, “a considerable amount of evidence that there is a linkage between” the Islamist attacks on 9/11 and the American support for Israel ginned up by the “Lobby.”

    Once again, no “considerable amount of evidence” was forthcoming for these statements, which gave the impression, instead, of passions increasingly removed from reality. But this raises the question of what, in the case of Walt and Mearsheimer, we are dealing with: objective analysis, or a species of prejudice so extreme as to border on obsession?

    Interestingly enough, this is a question that they themselves were careful to address in their original paper. For, as they well recognized, the idea of outsized Jewish influence working toward disreputable ends is a historically venerable one, and one that over the centuries has frequently been put to incendiary uses. For that very reason, they were at pains to define their own work as something entirely different, and entirely legitimate.

    Thus, they blandly pointed out, it is indisputable that American Jews play an influential role in our political system and have worked through lobbying organizations like the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to shape U.S. policy toward the Middle East. But, they hastened to stipulate, there is nothing wrong with that; “individuals and groups that comprise the Lobby are doing what other special-interest groups do, just much better.” In choosing to tackle this particular “special-interest” group, they were insinuating “nothing improper” about its activities. They were certainly not suggesting that those activities amounted to “the sort of conspiracy depicted in anti-Semitic tracts like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

    Having thus disingenuously lowered the bar of legitimate criticism—it would be hard to deny that “The Israel Lobby” falls somewhat short of the Protocols—Mearsheimer and Walt may or may not have been prepared for the negative reaction to their paper by those, like the military historian Eliot Cohen, who did indeed brand their work as anti-Semitic, or who judged it (in the words of the strategic analyst Aaron L. Friedberg) as “an ugly accusation of collective disloyalty, containing the most unsavory of historical echoes.” But whether they expected this reaction or not, they were ready for it. The charge of anti-Semitism, they parried, was itself one of the “most powerful weapons” of the “Israel Lobby,” deployed precisely as a “Great Silencer” of objective criticism.

    Continued in article

    Other articles in the November 2006 edition of Commentary Magazine --- http://www.commentarymagazine.com/


    Question
    How would a politically correct news report read about California?

    Forwarded by Mary Jo Jenson

  • "Eye of the Beholder,"  by Victor Davis Hanson The American Enterprise Online

    War-torn Iraq has about 26 million residents, a peaceful California

    perhaps now 35 million. The former is a violent and impoverished landscape, the latter said to be paradise on Earth. But how you envision either place to some degree depends on the eye of the beholder and is predicated on what the daily media appear to make of each.

    As a fifth-generation Californian, I deeply love this state, but still imagine what the reaction would be if the world awoke each morning to be told that once again there were six more murders, 27 rapes, 38 arsons, 180 robberies, and 360 instances of assault in California - yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day. I wonder if the headlines would scream about "Nearly 200 poor Californians butchered again this month!"

    How about a monthly media dose of "600 women raped in February alone!" Or try, "Over 600 violent robberies and assaults in March, with no end in sight!" Those do not even make up all of the state's yearly 200,000 violent acts that law enforcement knows about.

    Iraq's judicial system seems a mess. On the eve of the war, Saddam let out 100,000 inmates from his vast prison archipelago. He himself still sits in the dock months after his trial began. But imagine an Iraq with a penal system like California's with 170,000 criminals - an inmate population larger than those of Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Singapore combined.

    Just to house such a shadow population costs our state nearly $7 billion a year - or about the same price of keeping 40,000 Army personnel per year in Iraq. What would be the image of our Golden State if we were reminded each morning, "Another $20 million spent today on housing our criminals"?

    Some of California's most recent prison scandals would be easy to sensationalize: "Guards watch as inmates are raped!" Or "Correction officer accused of having sex with under-aged detainee!" And apropos of Saddam's sluggish trial, remember that our home state multiple murderer, Tookie Williams, was finally executed in December 2005 - 26 years after he was originally sentenced.

    Much is made of the inability to patrol Iraq's borders with Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. But California has only a single border with a foreign nation, not six. Yet over 3 million foreigners who sneaked in illegally now live in our state. Worse, there are about 15,000 convicted alien felons incarcerated in our penal system, costing about $500 million a year. Imagine the potential tabloid headlines: "Illegal aliens in state comprise population larger than San Francisco!" or "Drugs, criminals, and smugglers given free pass into California!"

    Every year, over 4,000 Californians die in car crashes - nearly twice the number of Americans lost so far in three years of combat operations in Iraq. In some sense, then, our badly maintained roads, and often poorly trained and sometimes intoxicated drivers, are even more lethal than Improvised Explosive Devices. Perhaps tomorrow's headline might scream out at us: "300 Californians to perish this month on state highways! Hundreds more will be maimed and crippled!"

    In 2001, California had 32 days of power outages, despite paying nearly the highest rates for electricity in the United States. Before complaining about the smoke in Baghdad rising from private generators, think back to the run on generators in California when they were contemplated as future part of every household's line of defense.

    We're told that Iraq's finances are a mess. Yet until recently, so were California's. Two years ago, Governor Schwarzenegger inherited a $38 billion annual budget shortfall. That could have made for strong morning newscast teasers: "Another $100 million borrowed today - $3 billion more in red ink to pile up by month's end!"

    So is California comparable to Iraq? Hardly. Yet it could easily be sketched by a reporter intent on doing so as a bankrupt, crime-ridden den with murderous highways, tens of thousands of inmates, with wide-open borders.

    I myself recently returned home to California, without incident, from a visit to Iraq's notorious Sunni Triangle. While I was gone, a drug-addicted criminal with a long list of convictions broke into our kitchen at 4 a.m., was surprised by my wife and daughter, and fled with our credit cards, cash, keys, and cell phones.

    Sometimes I wonder who really was safer that week.


  • "Campus Jihad," by Anthony Glees, The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2006; Page A15 ---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116155302363600240.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    U.K. intelligence officials have just provided a chilling assessment of the terrorist threat Britain faces. The country has become "al Qaeda target No. 1," security sources told me, confirming last week's press reports. Intelligence services now judge Britain's "home grown" terrorists to be organized, trained and controlled either directly from Pakistan or via Pakistani networks in Britain.

    Until now, intelligence services thought British Islamist terrorists had no hard links to al Qaeda despite sharing its ideology. "Clean skins" in the security jargon, they were believed to have acted alone or in self-constructed cells. This theory was the product of what MI5 thought it knew about the terrorists before last year's July 7 bombings, which was far too little. Just two months before the attacks, MI5's Joint Terrorism Analysis Center concluded, "there is not a group with both the current intent and capability to attack the U.K."

    The ringleaders of the July 7 bombers, Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shahzad Tanweer, both former students at Leeds Metropolitan University, showed up on MI5's radar on as many as nine occasions before the attacks. According to Whitehall sources, credible intelligence indicated that Mr. Khan had visited Pakistan between November 2003 and February 2004 and sought to contact al Qaeda. But MI5 discounted the significance of these visits at the time and only started taking them more seriously early this year. The London bombers' connections to Pakistan were initially dismissed as harmless, requiring no further analysis. It was "obvious," security sources explained in the aftermath of the attacks, that people of Pakistani descent would visit "their families" back home or take a "long holiday or gap year" there. The generally accepted theory was that the terrorists had simply used information from the Internet to build their organic peroxide bombs.

    Senior military intelligence officers now dismiss this line as well, believing the bombers received crucial weapons training in Pakistan. They argue that if Britain is now al Qaeda's primary target, it makes sense to look much more carefully at the Pakistan dimension and also at the links between virulent Islamic groups in Pakistan and the U.K. Many British Islamic colleges have ties to fundamentalist Pakistanis. Other links exist to extremist Kashmiri groups, in turn allegedly connected to al Qaeda or the Pakistani secret service.

    MI5 has hugely upped its game, as recent arrests show. But MI5 also believes that the number of extremists is rising and not just because it now knows better where to look for them. MI5 keeps very close tabs on more than 1,000 extremists; 14,000 British Muslims are considered potential terrorist threats, security sources told me.

    I believe a significant number get radicalized and recruited on university campuses. At least 13 convicted Islamist terrorists and four suicide bombers have been students at British universities. Radical Islamist student societies make full use of university resources. They operate Web sites, hosted by university servers, which direct visitors to organizations that glorify jihad and terror. These "religious" groups are given "prayer rooms" on campus, which are also used to disseminate extremist literature and DVDs. Muslim students concerned about these developments tell me that at many of these Islamic societies terrorism is portrayed as justified acts of "resistance." A leading imam in Birmingham often preaches on British campuses that the London bombers have to be seen as "martyrs."

    Organizations like Hizb Ut Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun, which advocate a world caliphate, demand that Britain adopt the Shariah and express a violent hatred for the West and Jews, have repeatedly tried to gain student converts at the University of East Anglia. It is only thanks to a courageous campus imam that their infiltration attempts have been thwarted so far. His colleague at London Metropolitan University, Sheikh Musa Admani, repeatedly warns about Islamic radicalization at his and other London campuses. Just two months ago, the head of an Islamic student society and several fellow students at London Metropolitan were charged with planning to smuggle explosives on a plane bound for America. Yet university authorities usually consider these societies as "religious gatherings," and thus off limits.

    Government minister Ruth Kelly two weeks ago urged universities to monitor their students more carefully and report signs of extremism to the security services. But many British universities are reluctant to step up security. Universities U.K., an association of British universities, criticized Ms. Kelly's proposals as "unreasonable," saying "there are dangers in targeting one particular group within our diverse communities." When I suggested last year similar measures the government now proposes, I was myself attacked by Universities U.K. The vice chancellor from the University of Sunderland asked my own vice chancellor to "shut me up." I was threatened with legal action if the name of a particular university was mentioned in connection with terrorism. Unfortunately, my research showed that Islamic radicalization is a threat on campuses nation-wide.

    But British universities prefer burying their heads in the sand of political correctness. When the Foreign Office invited 100 academics to bid for £1.3 million of government funds to participate in a counter-radicalization program, the academics said no. John Gledhill, chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists, welcomed their move, saying last week that "it did appear to be encouraging researchers to identify subjects and groups involved with terrorism . . . that could be interpreted as encouraging them to become informers." Martha Mundy, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, dismissed the government plans as having "an overtly security-research agenda" starting from the (false) premise that there is a "link between Islamism, radicalization and terrorism."

    Is Ms. Mundy seriously saying there is no connection between Islamism and terrorism? "Security" is not a dirty word, even if totalitarian regimes have abused it. Every British university subscribes to the 1997 Dearing Report, which states that the "aim of higher education is to play a major role in shaping a democratic, civilized and inclusive society." This is the basis on which the British taxpayer agrees to fund them.

    Academic institutions should surely help protect Britain from those who clearly do not believe in democracy, are not civilized, and who try to harm us. Now that we are the prime target for Islamist terror, Britain's universities must get real.

    Mr. Glees is director for the Brunel Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.


    The Cost of Living and the Geographic Distribution of Poverty --- http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err26/err26.pdf


    Psychology Professor Puts Poverty Blame on Low IQs
    The London School of Economics is embroiled in a row over academic freedom after one of its lecturers published a paper alleging that African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist, is now accused of reviving the politics of eugenics by publishing the research which concludes that low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. His paper, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, compares IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries and claims that nations at the top of the ill health league also have the lowest intelligence ratings.
    Topi Lyambila, "Low IQs are Africa's curse, says lecturer," Kenya London News, November 6, 2006 ---
    http://www.kenyanewsnetwork.com/artman/publish/article_1488.shtml




    Question
    Now that I'm retired, why do I keep pouring hours each day into updating my helper materials on accounting for derivative financial instruments and hedging activities?

    I'm sharing the message below hoping it will inspire other teachers around the world to want to experience the joy of open sharing on the Web.

    November 9, 2006 message from a Wichita State University Student

    I have been using your site to study for an exam I have to take tonight. The videos and cases have been very helpful—hopefully helpful enough: this stuff makes my head spin.

    I did go ahead and send out an email to the class, pointing them to your site as well. So, we will all be either more enlightened or more certain that we have no idea what we are doing.

    Thanks again for maintaining such a useful site. It’s obvious you have spent a lot of time on it.

    Sincerely,

    Frank Horbelt ACCT 610
    Student Wichita State University

    November 10, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hi Frank,

    Messages like the one above make this all worthwhile for me.

    You sound like a fine young man with a sense of fair play. Where I live in the mountains is the home of the great skier Bode Miller. When Bode discovered a way to line his boots that gave him a speed edge, he shared it with his competitors because he said he “did not want to take an unfair advantage.” This was reported in Time Magazine when he appeared on the cover of Time.

    You sound like my same kind of hero!

    Best of luck to you!

    Bob Jensen


    Flash Quizzing using Camtasia 4 (Link forwarded by Richard Campbell)
    This is a blog entry by Brooks Andrus - the chief Flash developer for Techsmith

    http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog_assets/camtasiastudio4/quizfeatures/index.html 

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


    Sterility Tax: Russians Considering a Tax for Not Having Children
    The State Duma introduced this idea. The vice-chairman of the health protection committee Nikolai Gerasimenko suggested reverting to practice of the Soviet time and imposing the sterility tax to improve the demographic situation in the country. According to the vice-chairman, the appropriate bill is being worked at. He said, it was the time to think of the sterility tax.
    Olga Pletneva, "The sterility tax can be reestablished," Russia IC, September 21, 2006 ---
    http://russia-ic.com/business_law/in_depth/253/


    Words or Pictures or Both?
    My students are used to reading documents made up of words and images, sound files and movies. They aren't disturbed when these elements bleed into each other -- when words use visual devices to enhance what they're communicating, when images are made up of textual elements. The nomination of a graphic novel for the National Book Award, especially in the Young Adult category, shows that the judges are aware of this. I also find evidence for this boundary blurring in M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, one of my fellow nominees. Octavian Nothing is a brilliant book. Please go read it if you haven't. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book (for me, at least) is Anderson's use of visual storytelling devices. For example, Anderson uses different fonts and font styles to communicate time, place, and emotion.
    Gene Yang, "Picture This: A Novel Approach," Wired News, November 7, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,72086-0.html?tw=wn_index_5

    Jensen Comment
    I've not found any free versions of Anderson's book. The Amazon link is here.


    Accountants' SOX are attention grabbers
    However, regulatory changes such as Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 have increased tax departments' visibility in front of key audiences. Almost half (46 percent) of respondents reported that Section 404 has increased the department's visibility to the company's board of directors, and 58 percent say that it has increased visibility to the audit committee. The KPMG survey results also point to a gap between tax directors' increasing concern about tax risk and the amount of time they have to identify and minimize it. Definitions of "tax risk" vary among respondents from "risk of tax audit" or "financial reporting risk" to "risk of effective tax rate surprises" and "management of tax return filing issues."
    "KPMG Study Reveals State of Corporate Tax," SmartPros, November 3, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55367.xml

    Bob Jensen's accounting career helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


    "Winners and Losers Among Ballot Propositions Affecting Taxes," AccountingWeb, November 9, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102783

    Voters approved 141 of the 205 initiatives and referendums on the ballots of 37 states in Tuesday’s election, rejecting only 59, according to iandrinstitute.org’s Ballotwatch. Five measures, including Arizona’s controversial cap on property tax increases, remain to be decided. Among the tax proposals AccountingWEB reviewed in Spending Caps, Tax Measures on Ballot in Many States, most property relief measures were approved, but voters rejected all three Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiatives and were divided on personal exemption measures. Proposals to ban gay marriage, protect property rights and increase the minimum wage were also successful.

    Homestead exemptions for persons over 65 were approved in Tennessee through a constitutional amendment and in Georgia in a less binding question format. Virginians approved tax breaks for new structures in developing areas. The limit on increases in property tax assessments passed in South Carolina, and voters in New Jersey approved the state legislature’s decision to use 50 percent of a one percent increase in the state’s sales tax for property relief.

    A measure in South Dakota that would have limited property tax increases to 3 percent a year was defeated, according to ballotwatch on iandrinstitute.org.

    Proposition 41 in Oregon, which would have given taxpayers a choice in the way they calculated their personal exemption, was also defeated.

    A Washington measure that authorizes increases in property tax exemptions was successful, iandrinstitute.org says.

    “Voters seemed to be in a fiscally expansive mood, rejected tax and spending limits, and approving huge amounts of borrowing,” iandrinstitute.org says. TABOR propositions, in Maine, Oregon and Nebraska were all defeated.

    Karen Jackson of Scarborough, Maine, said she was torn over the spending-limit referendum that was Question 1 on the state ballot. "Both sides are credible," said Jackson, according to the Portland Press Herald. "So it was a tough decision but very important. I was on the fence when I was in there."

    Jackson was among many voters who identified the TABOR referendum to cap spending increases as one of the biggest motivators in Tuesday's election, though others cited the war in Iraq or local referendums as their biggest issues, the Herald says.

    Eminent domain measures, reflecting widespread disapproval of the 2005 Supreme Court ruling, upheld in 2006, that allowed the city of New London, Connecticut, to buy up homes to make way for commercial development, were successful in nine states, losing in California and Idaho. Seven states approved constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage, bringing the total number of states with similar laws to 23.

    All six ballot propositions to raise the minimum wage were successful, increasing the wage from the federal minimum level of $5.15 to $6.15 in Montana and Nevada, $6.50 in Missouri, $6.75 in Arizona and $6.85 in Ohio, Nasdaq.com says. The newly elected Democratic Congress has pledged to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 in their first 100 hours in office.

    An increase in the cigarette tax was approved in South Dakota but failed in California and Missouri. Smoking bans were approved in Arizona and Ohio, and a modified ban was approved in Nevada. Smoking is still permitted in stand-alone bars and gaming areas of casinos in that state, stateline.org reports.

    The ballot proposition process differs by state, with 24 states permitting popular initiatives, when people may collect signatures to put specific issues or specific legislation on the ballot for voter approval. Legislative referendum is permitted in all states on constitutional amendments, statutes, and bond issues, either because it is required by the state’s constitution or because the legislature or other government body chooses to put the measure on the ballot, according to ballotwatch on iandrinstitute.org. Only 43 percent of the citizen initiatives were successful on Tuesday, compared to 70 percent of the legislative referendum questions.

    Not all states require that statutes be put on the ballot, but every state requires that constitutional amendments be submitted to the voters.


    The Sad State of German Research Universities

    "Educating Germans," The Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116311333548319127.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    No other country better epitomizes continental Europe's decline in higher education. Germans practically invented the modern research university in the 19th century, but today not a single German university makes the world's top 50 in the annual rankings of the Times of London's Higher Education Supplement. Anglo-Saxon universities occupy 41 of the top 50 positions, and the best Continental university is France's L'École Normale Supérieure, at No. 18. You have to scroll down 58 entries to find a German name -- the University of Heidelberg.

    Blame this malaise on Germany's egalitarian federalism. Universities generally receive equal funding irrespective of quality; the aim is to provide "equal" education across the country. The concept of elitism is rejected as, well, too elitist. Academic mediocrity has been the predictable result. Just 20.6% of Germans of typical graduation age have completed a higher education, compared with an OECD average of 35%.

    Germany's high schools are also in disarray. A tracking system decides which 10-year-olds are smart enough to attend a Gymnasium and thus go on to university. This discourages late bloomers. In addition, the number of unfilled teaching positions has risen to 16,000 this year from 10,000 in 2005.

    Berlin is beginning to realize that it needs to focus its limited resources on the best universities. Last month a scientific committee identified three universities as "excellent." They will receive an extra €20 million over each of the next five years.

    That's a start but it's far from enough. If they want to play in the big leagues, universities must learn to raise more private money à la Mr. Jacobs's gift. The University of Karlsruhe, for instance, one of the designated "excellent" universities, has an annual budget of €280 million, €80 million of which it raised itself. Compare this to Stanford, which aims to collect $4.3 billion over the next five years.

    Several states are even ready to introduce tuition fees, a major taboo until now. At about only €500 per semester, the fees are not enough to fund the next scientific quantum leap. But they should encourage students to consider their studies more as an investment than as a "free" service, an attitude that has led to high drop-out rates and long years of study.

    There are also plans to shorten graduate programs and make them more comparable to international standards. The civil-servant status of professors, which makes it impossible to fire even sub-par academics, is increasingly being questioned. The competition for funds, after all, is also about attracting the best staff and students.

    Germany's status as a modern, technology-based economy depends on its educational base. By upgrading its universities, it is making an investment in its future.

    The head of the Britain’s University of Cambridge — where one-fourth of employees and half of graduate students are from other countries, is warning that a brain drain is having a serious impact on British universities, The Times of London reported.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/08/qt


    Africa's B-School Challenge
    In 2005, the Global Business Schools Network, which was funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), announced the launch of the Association of African Business Schools, a group with 12 member schools from various African countries that is developing partnerships among educators to determine best practices and help expand the management training available on the continent (see BusinessWeek.com, 12/26/05, "Give Africa's B-Schools a Boost"). Binedell, who is also the chairperson of the newly formed association, is hoping the group can improve communication among faculty in different African B-schools. So far, the association has already established itself with proper funding, named six board members, and put together a dean development program and case study database. Binedell recently spoke with BusinessWeek.com reporter Francesca Di Meglio. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation.
    "Africa's B-School Challenge:  Its economy is growing, but the continent lacks a developed B-school network, says the head of the Association of African Business Schools," Business Week, November 2, 2006 --- http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/nov2006/bs20061102_015069.htm


    "Winners and Losers Among Ballot Propositions Affecting Taxes," AccountingWeb, November 9, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102783

    Voters approved 141 of the 205 initiatives and referendums on the ballots of 37 states in Tuesday’s election, rejecting only 59, according to iandrinstitute.org’s Ballotwatch. Five measures, including Arizona’s controversial cap on property tax increases, remain to be decided. Among the tax proposals AccountingWEB reviewed in Spending Caps, Tax Measures on Ballot in Many States, most property relief measures were approved, but voters rejected all three Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiatives and were divided on personal exemption measures. Proposals to ban gay marriage, protect property rights and increase the minimum wage were also successful.

    From the Scout Report on November 17, 2006

    Earth Alerts 5.0.274 http://earthalerts.manyjourneys.com/ 

    Tsunamis, volcanoes, and floods, oh my! No one enjoys extreme weather events, so it is reassuring to know that a group of program developers have created Earth Alerts 5.0 to keep interested parties in the know about such activities. With this handy application, users will be kept aware of various worldwide manifestations of such phenomena, along with special overviews on severe weather occurrences in the United States. Visitors can also elect to receive email notifications as well. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP, 2000, and Vista.


    Ebbinghaus 1.3 http://www.christian-kienle.de/Ebbinghaus/ 

    A number of programs have been released in recent months that are designed to help computer users learn a bit more in any number of subjects. One such program is Ebbinghaus 1.3, which gives visitors the opportunity to create flash cards and then review them at their leisure. Visitors can export these “boxes” of cards to devices such as an iPod and use them as they see fit. On the Ebbinghaus homepage, visitors can take a look at some screenshots from the program and also read a few testimonies from satisfied users. This particular version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer.


    Voters in Washington vote down subsidies for sports teams, and it appears the Sonics will leave the Emerald City Why Seattle is losing the Sonics and Storm in 10 easy steps http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003425388_sonics14m.html

    As Sonics Pack to Leave Town, Seattle Shrugs http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/13/us/13seattle.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Seattle SuperSonics History --- http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=3029

    Seattle Center at 40: 1962 World’s Fair [pdf] http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/specials/worldsfair/

    Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums http://brookings.nap.edu/books/0815761112/html/R1.html

    Citizens for More Important Things [pdf] http://www.citizensformoreimportantthings.com/


    From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on November 3, 2006

    TITLE: Rules on Capital Roil U.S. Bankers
    REPORTER: Damian Paletta
    DATE: Nov 01, 2006
    PAGE: C3
    LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116234873761209749.html?mod=djem_jiewr_a 
    TOPICS: Accounting, Banking, Financial Accounting, Financial Analysis, Financial Statement Analysis, Regulation

    SUMMARY: The Basel II agreement is "intended to streamline oversight of the world's biggest and most sophisticated banks with similar world-wide rules." However, U.S. regulators have delayed putting in place regulatory rules to support the pact until 2008 because of a government study completed in 2005 concluding that "capital levels would plummet at many banks under the proposed international pact."

    QUESTIONS:
    1.) How do banks' capital maintenance requirements protect depositors? How are those maintenance requirements measured? Who monitors them? In your answer, include a definition of "core capital" and cite specific financial statement ratios used in this process.

    2.) How is the international banking regulatory accord, called Basel II, implemented in the individual countries in which impacted banks are domiciled? How does uneven implementation of the accord affect worldwide competition in the banking industry?

    3.) How did U.S. banking regulators become concerned about the impact of changing rules in order to implement the Basel II Accord?

    Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


    National Geophysical Data Center --- http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/ngdc.html


    From the Scout Report on November 10, 2006

    GRASS GIS 6.2.0 --- http://grass.itc.it/

    With the release of such programs as Google Earth, computer users have access to a rather diverse set of geographical data tools. One program that has recently been released in a new edition is the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS). With this program, users can perform a number of tasks, such as spatial modeling, visualization, and image processing. The program may be a bit complex at first for some users, but its uses are very diverse. The site also includes a FAQ section and a newsletter. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer or Mac OS X and newer.


    StudioLine Photo Basic 3.5.8 --- http://www.studioline.biz/EN/

    As the holidays approach, some users may be looking for a photo album software program that is helpful, easy to use, and most of all, available at no cost. The latest version of StudioLine Photo Basic is a good bet, as it includes 30 professional image editing tools and the ability to create on- screen slide shows. Additionally, this latest version features some significant improvements to the printing menu. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.


    A steamy question not answered by science:  Why do shower curtains cling around us?
    That theory held until about five years ago, Marshall says. Then David Schmidt, an engineer at the University of Massachusetts, simulated the shower scene on his computer. His model predicts that when the shower sprays, the air inside the shower becomes a kind of spinning vortex. The pressure at the center of this vortex is very low, as it is at the eye of a hurricane. And that low pressure, Schmidt says, could be what sucks the shower curtain in. Marshall hopes that further modeling and field studies will settle this steaming hot question.
    Joe Palca, "Arggh, Why Does the Shower Curtain Attack Me?" NPR, November 4, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6430581 


     

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

     

     

  • Latest Headlines on November 9, 2006

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    Health Disparities Worse for Men, and Doctors Ask Why
    Yet statistics show that men are more likely than women to suffer an early death. Now some advocates and medical scientists are beginning to ask a question that in some circles might be considered politically incorrect: Is men’s health getting short shrift? . . . “We’ve got men dying at higher rates of just about every disease, and we don’t know why,” said Dr. Demetrius J. Porche, an associate dean at Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in New Orleans, and the editor of a new quarterly, American Journal of Men’s Health, that will publish its first issue next March.
    Roni Rabin, "Health Disparities Persist for Men, and Doctors Ask Why," The New York Times, November 14, 2006 --- Click Here

     


    "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

     

     


    "World Champion Barrel Race Horse Cloned," PhysOrg, November 16, 2006 ---
    http://physorg.com/news82869401.html


    "Caught in the Web:  More People Say Heavy Internet Use Is Disrupting Their Lives, and Medical Experts Are Paying Attention," by January W. Payne, The Washington Post,November 14, 2006; Page HE01 --- Click Here

  • Concern about excessive Internet use -- variously termed problematic Internet use, Internet addiction, pathological Internet use, compulsive Internet use and computer addiction in some quarters, and vigorously dismissed as a fad illness in others -- isn't new. As far back as 1995, articles in medical journals and the establishment of a Pennsylvania treatment center for overusers generated interest in the subject. There's still no consensus on how much time online constitutes too much or whether addiction is possible.

    But as reliance on the Web grows -- Internet users average about 3 1/2 hours online each day, according to a 2005 survey by Stanford University researchers -- there are signs that the question is getting more serious attention: Last month, a study published in CNS Spectrums, an international neuropsychiatric medicine journal, claimed to be the first large-scale look at excessive Internet use. The American Psychiatric Association may consider listing Internet addiction in the next edition of its diagnostic manual. And scores of online discussion boards have popped up on which people discuss negative experiences tied to too much time on the Web.

    "There's no question that there are people who are seriously in trouble because of the fact that they're overdoing their Internet involvement," said Ivan K. Goldberg, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York. Goldberg calls the problem a disorder rather than a true addiction, which Merriam-Webster's medical dictionary defines as a "compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance."

    Jonathan Bishop, a researcher in Wales specializing in online communities, is more skeptical. "The Internet is an environment," he said. "You can't be addicted to the environment." Bishop, who has had several articles published on the topic, describes the problem as simply a matter of priorities, which can be solved by encouraging people to prioritize other life goals and plans in place of time spent online.

    The new CNS Spectrums study was based on results of a nationwide telephone survey of more than 2,500 adults. Like the 2005 survey, this one was conducted by Stanford University researchers. About 6 percent of respondents reported that "their relationships suffered as a result of excessive Internet use," according to the study. About 9 percent attempted to conceal "nonessential Internet use," and nearly 4 percent reported feeling "preoccupied by the Internet when offline."

    About 8 percent said they used the Internet as a way to escape problems, and almost 14 percent reported they "found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time," the study reported.

    "The Internet problem is still in its infancy," said lead study author Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist and director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford. No single online activity is to blame for excessive use, he said. "They're online in chat rooms, checking e-mail every two minutes, blogs. It really runs the gamut. [The problem is] not limited to porn or gambling" Web sites.

    In the 2005 survey, conducted by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, single people and younger people were more likely to use the Internet than others. Survey participants reported that an hour spent online reduced face time with family members by nearly 24 minutes; an hour on the Internet reduced sleep time by about 12 minutes.

    More than half the time spent online involved communication (including chat rooms, e-mail and instant messaging), the report said; the rest of the time is spent updating personal Web pages and browsing news groups, social networking and dating Web sites, as well as other sites.

    Hints of Trouble

    Excessive Internet use should be defined not by the number of hours spent online but "in terms of losses," said Maressa Hecht Orzack, a Harvard University professor and director of Computer Addiction Services at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., founded in 1995. "If it is a loss [where] you are not getting to work, and family relationships are breaking down as a result around it and this is something you can't handle, then it's too much."

    Since the early 1990s, several clinics have been established in the United States to treat heavy Internet users. They include the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, in Bradford, Pa., and the Connecticut-based Center for Internet Behavior.

    The Web site for Orzack's center lists the following among the psychological symptoms of computer addiction:

    · Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer.

    · Craving more and more time at the computer.

    · Neglect of family and friends.

    · Feeling empty, depressed or irritable when not at the computer.

    · Lying to employers and family about activities.

    · Inability to stop the activity.

    · Problems with school or job.

    Physical symptoms listed include dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, backaches, skipping meals, poor personal hygiene and sleep disturbances.

    If college settings are any example, excessive Internet use may be a growing problem. Jonathan Kandell, assistant director of the counseling center at the University of Maryland at College Park -- one of the first universities to offer a support group for this type of behavior in the 1990s -- said that surveys of students who seek counseling show an increase in those reporting that "they either always or often had trouble controlling themselves on the Internet." In the late 1990s, about 2 to 3 percent reported that problem; in 2005 and 2006 surveys, the figure has increased to about 13 percent, Kandell said.

    The APA is considering whether to take up this issue when it updates its official manual of psychiatric disorders in 2012, said William E. Narrow, associate director of the association's division of research. If such behaviors begin affecting a person's life and "they feel like they can't stop, [then] that's the type of thing that we would start to have concerns about," Narrow said. It's also important to consider, "Are there any other disorders that can account for the behavior?"

    Many online discussion boards -- with names such as Internet Addicts Anonymous, Gaming Addiction and Internet Addicts Recovery Club -- focus on Internet overuse and contain posts from hundreds of members. On such boards, posters admit that they feel as though they can't step away from their computers without feeling drawn back and that their online habits interfere with personal relationships, daily routines and their ability to concentrate on work or school. Reports of failed relationships, slipping grades and workplace problems that writers attribute to their preoccupation with the Internet are not unusual.

    People who struggle with excessive Internet use may be depressed or have other mood disorders, Orzack said. When she discusses Internet habits with her patients, they often report that being online offers a "sense of belonging, an escape, excitement [and] fun," she said. "Some people say relief . . . because they find themselves so relaxed."

    Goldberg, the New York psychiatrist, said he has seen patients "whose marriages were deteriorating who retreated behind a keyboard." The Internet "becomes another way that people use to try to cope with their own disorder," he said.

    Less Game to Play

    Some parts of the Internet seem to draw people in more than others, experts report. Internet gamers spend countless hours competing in games against people from all over the world. One such game, called World of Warcraft, which charges a $14.99 monthly subscription fee, is cited on many sites and discussion boards by posters complaining of a "gaming addiction."

    Andrew Heidrich, 28, an education network administrator from Sacramento, plays World of Warcraft for about two to four hours every other night, but that's nothing compared with the 40 to 60 hours a week he spent playing online games when he was in college. He cut back only after a full-scale family intervention, in which relatives told him he'd gained weight and had become "like a zombie."

    "There's this whole culture of competition that sucks people in" with online gaming, said Heidrich, now married and a father of two. "People do it at the expense of everything that was a constant in their lives." Heidrich now visits Web sites that discuss gaming addiction regularly "to remind myself to keep my love for online games in check."

    Toebe also regularly visits a site where posters discuss Internet overuse. In August, when she first realized she had a problem, she posted a message on a Yahoo Internet addiction group with the subject line: "I have an Internet Addiction."

    "I am self-employed and need the Internet for my work but I am failing to accomplish my work, to take care of my home, to give attention to my children who have been complaining for months," she wrote in a message sent to the group, which had more than 300 members as of last week. "I have no money or insurance to get professional help, I am not making money, I can't even pay my mortgage and face losing everything."

    Since then, Toebe said, she has kept her promise to herself to cut back on her Internet use. "I have a boyfriend now, and I'm not interested in [online] dating," she said by phone last week. "It's a lot better now."

  •  


    "Stem cell cure for heart attacks," by Julie Wheldon, Daily Mail, November 7, 2006 --- Click Here

    Emergency heart attack patients will be injected with their own stem cells in a dramatic new treatment.

    The procedure, being pioneered by British doctors, holds out hope of a 'cure' as the stem cells repair damaged heart muscles.

    The low-cost treatment, which involves removing stem cells from the patient's bone marrow, could be given within a few hours of a heart attack.

    It is intended to stop patients suffering further attacks and developing heart failure, something existing treatments fail to do in many cases.

    If the initial trials in London are successful, the treatment is likely to be extended to NHS hospitals across the country.

    Continued in article

     


    From Harvard University:  Growth of spinal nerves is improved
    During development, these nerves extend themselves from the brain to all levels of the spine with the help of a potent growth factor called IGF-1. This factor is well known to scientists. However, the discovery of its role in guiding the extension of the longest nerves in the body was a big surprise. The discovery has researchers talking about new ways to treat ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and other paralyzing disorders, as well as regenerating spinal nerves that have been damaged by falls, crashes, and combat.
    "Growth of spinal nerves is improved," PhysOrg, November 9, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82314444.html

     



    A Hair Dryer That Kills Head Lice

    Biologists have invented a chemical-free, hairdryer-like device - the LouseBuster - and conducted a study showing it eradicates head lice infestations on children by exterminating the eggs, or "nits," and killing enough lice to prevent them from reproducing.
    "'LouseBuster' Instrument Shown to Kill Head Lice," PhysOrg, November 6, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82047738.html

     


     

    Teaching and Training Modules on Trends in Health and Aging --- http://www.asaging.org/NCHS/

     


     

    Question
    If the poor are moved into wealthier neighborhoods, such as under Title 8 housing allowances, does this improve life expectancy?

     

     

    "Death rates for poor higher in rich neighborhoods," by Ewen Callaway, Stanford University News, November 1, 2006 --- http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2006/november1/med-income-110106.html

     

     


     

    Question
    What is most like painting and sprucing up the outside of a house having dry rot underneath?

     

    "Improving face-lifts: Beauty more than skin deep, by Tracie White, Stanford University News, November 11, 2006 --- http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2006/october11/med-facelift-101106.html

    Gravity and sagging skin aren't the only roadblocks to a perpetually youthful face. Aging facial bones may be just as guilty of the telltale signs of advancing years, according to new research from the medical school.

    This "dramatic" aging of facial bones also happens at a significantly younger age for women than men.

    "As the skin sags, the bony framework underneath the skin deteriorates as well, contributing to the development of new folds, creases, wrinkles, droops and valleys," said David Kahn, MD, assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

    Crow's-feet, drooping brows, sagging facial folds—it's not just skin deep.

    Two studies by Kahn and Robert Shaw, MD, a resident at the University of Rochester Medical Center who was a medical student at Stanford when the research was conducted, document this problem. The second study was presented Oct. 10 at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons yearly convention in San Francisco; the first was presented at the same conference last year and is scheduled for publication this winter.

    Kahn and Shaw's findings go beyond most previous research on facial aging, which focused primarily on changes to the skin, the researchers said. They sought to understand better the entire aging process of the face.

    They hypothesized that it was necessary for plastic surgeons treating patients who are hoping to reverse the aging process to consider what's going on beneath the skin.

    "If plastic surgeons attempting facial rejuvenation are only considering skin changes, it's not enough," Kahn said. "Skin tightening, collagen and fat injections, Botox injections, don't take into account changes to the bones."

    Today's single-dimensional approach to facial rejuvenation, Kahn said, may explain the sometimes-negative results of plastic surgery to the face that can result in odd, distorted looks.

    "After you do a face-lift on some patients and look at photos of them when they were young, they look very different," said Shaw. "Part of that may be the tightening of the skin over a bony scaffolding that has deteriorated and changed in shape from when they were 18."

    There's a change in morphology or shape to the bones as well as a general shrinkage, Shaw said.

    For the two studies, the researchers analyzed 30 men and 30 women separately using advanced, three-dimensional, computerized reconstruction of the facial skeleton. The participants were separated into three different age groups identified as young (25 to 44), middle-aged (45 to 64) and old (65-plus). They then measured the various bony structures in the face—the slope of the cheekbone and the opening for the nose, for example—and compared these changes between age groups and genders.

    "In general, for most of our measurements, women experienced aging between young and middle age, and the men between middle age and old," Shaw said.

    Specific changes to different bony structures in the face seem to correlate with the various well-known visible changes to the face due to aging, Kahn said. Changes to the orbital aperture, or bony area around the eye, for example, could account for crow's-feet and the drooping of the skin above the eye.

    Aging bones in the cheeks could be part of the cause of the deepening of the creases between the lips and the nose and could cause the fat pad in the cheeks to sag and become more prominent. Much of these changes may be due to decreasing bone support, Kahn said.

    "It's a dynamic process," Kahn said, which means it will continue to change after those face-lifts. "It's important to realize that you're not working with the same facial skeleton as an 18-year-old."

     


    The Five Book Initiative from the University of Vermont

     

     

    "Making Inauguration Meaningful," by Karen Gross, Inside Higher Ed, November 7, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/11/07/gross

     

    Here’s the concept. I agreed to name, well in advance of the inauguration, five books that I would cite in my inaugural address on November 18. I also agreed that, since we have five divisions, the books would correspond (more or less) to these academic programs. The names of the books were released on our Web site through an “inaugural countdown” page. They appear on the back of the printed inaugural invitation — which, itself, is constructed to look like a book.

    We also decided that sets of the five books would be available on campus before and after the inaugural event and would be displayed in our library. Local bookstores and libraries have been willing to feature these five books, and our local commercial radio station (WBTN 1370-AM), which is owned by the college, is running a contest for its listeners: If you were named a new college president, what five books would you reference in your inaugural address? The winner, chosen by the Southern Vermont College community, will receive lunch with me in the president’s office (a nice catered affair) and whichever of the five books he or she wants (OK, the prizes are not great). In addition, the president of Bennington College, Elizabeth Coleman, has agreed to develop her own list of five books, and she and I will share and discuss our respective lists on our radio station.

    I am delighted, too, that Inside Higher Ed has joined us in this enterprise and has invited several presidents and others in higher education to publish their own list of five books. Those lists appear below. I also hope Inside Higher Ed readers will weigh in with their own lists. Then, we will all be engaging in a wonderful conversation about meaningful works that have influenced our thinking. That is a conversation well worth having, and personally, I am curious as to whether some books will make books will appear on multiple lists — I suspect there will be repeaters!

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    Although I applaud this Five Book Initiative, I fear that college presidents, like many college faculty, fail to appreciate the exploding importance of timely and constantly updated Web documents relative to books that are often out of date before they are printed and set in stone.

     


     

    Not Our Best Role Model for Ethics Courses
    Ethics and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) --- http://www.beyonddelay.org/summaries/murtha.php

     



    Not Our Best Role Model for Ethics Courses
    It's All in the Family
    Nepotism and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ---
    http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2006/11/pelosis_land_de.html
     

    Her financial hanky panky past is elaborated upon in Canada's Free Press
    "Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco's `Robinetta Hood’ in reverse," by Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press, November 20, 2006

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/ans-cover-news112006.htm

     

     

    What does the liberal press think of Nancy Pelosi's support of Jack Murtha?
    By favoring antiwar underdog Jack Murtha over the more moderate Steny Hoyer in the race for House majority leader, David Corn writes, Nancy Pelosi chose between two flawed candidates. But the ethically challenged Murtha has voted more with the Republicans than almost every other House Democrat . . . Murtha, according to Sloan, was also instrumental in undermining the House ethics committee. In the late 1990s, he successfully pushed (with other legislators) to change the committee's rules to prevent it from accepting ethics complaints from parties outside Congress. He also pressed Democratic leaders to name Representative Alan Mollohan of West Virginia the senior Democrat of the ethics committee. Mollohan has had his own ethics troubles--which have forced him off the ethics committee--and is a member of CREW's Top (or Bottom) 20. (See here.) "Murtha really doesn't like the ethics committee," says Sloan, speculating this may be due to Murtha's involvement in the Abscam bribery scandal of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (The ethics committee chose not to file charges against Murtha, after which the panel's special counsel resigned in protest.) "Murtha seems like a bad choice from our perspective," Sloan said.

    David Korn, "Pelosi Backs Murtha for No. 2: Iraq over Ethics?" The Nation, November 13, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/blogs/capitalgames?pid=140129

     

    On November 15, 2006 Murtha dropped out (before going down in defeat) of the race for House Majority Leader ---
    http://polipundit.com/
     

     


     

    November 17, 2006 message from Naomi Ragen [nragen@netvision.net.il]

    Friends,

    President Bush, running scared, is undermining all the good he did by fighting terror in Iraq.

    GLOBAL JIHAD

    Bush empowering terrorists, charges vocal Muslim critic Wafa Sultan says 'religion of peace' pronouncement undermines her efforts to battle religion's 'barbarism'

    Posted: November 18, 2006

    1:00 a.m. Eastern

    By Art Moore

    ________________________________

    C 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

    President Bush is undermining criticism vital to the survival of Western civilization and empowering terrorist leaders by proclaiming Islam a "religion of peace," says one of the most outspoken critics to emerge from the Muslim world in recent years.

    Wafa Sultan, a native of Syria, seized attention worldwide in February when her electrifying interview on Al-Jazeera television spread across the Internet through a video clip
    http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020_MemriTV_Popup/video_480x360.asp?ai=214&ar=1050

    produced by the Middle East Media Research Institute
    <http://www.wnd.com/redir/r.asp?http://www.memri.org> .

    Named this year to Time Magazine's list of 100 influential people in the world, Sultan spoke with WND after addressing a symposium on radical Islam in Las Vegas hosted by America's Truth Forum . She understands Bush's position as president and believes he is only trying to be diplomatic, but insists, nevertheless, his words are "empowering" Muslim leaders whose ultimate aim is for Islamic law to govern the world.

    "I believe he undermines our credibility by saying that," . . .

     


     

    Question
    Where are the bounds of diversity at Brown University and Georgetown University


    A
    civil rights organization has joined forces with a Christian student group at Brown University in an attempt to find out why the school has banned the Christians from meeting on its campus . . . As WND as reported, the move by Brown comes just weeks after Georgetown University notified a group of evangelical Christian organizations, such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, they would no longer be allowed to operate on campus. The university said it was going in another "direction" but never explained more fully.
    "Christians kicked off campus at Brown University," WorldNetDaily, November 18, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53018
    Jensen Comment
    The problem at Brown appears to be that the students were evangelist Christians. At Georgetown University the problem is similarly one of not allowing evangelical Christians to meet on campus. Both Brown and Georgetown are private universities that have greater restrictive powers than do public universities, although all colleges are subject to civil rights statutes. Both universities pride themselves in diversity but evangelical Christian students are discriminated against and forced to meet off campus. The major problem with evangelists is their unwillingness to accept gay sexual orientation as a normal way of life. Oddly enough both campuses will allow Roman Catholics to meet on campus, and Georgetown is even a Roman Catholic University. The Roman Catholic Church is also unwilling to accept gay sexual orientation as a normal way of life. The message seems to be that there's something worse about evangelists than Roman Catholics in the eyes of university administrators at Brown and Georgetown.

     

    There are several student organizations at Brown addressing the many facets of diversity. They include Arab-American Students Anti-Discrimination Coalition, Asian American Students Association, The Brotherhood, Brown Christian Fellowship, Brown International Organization, Brown Organization of Multiracial and Biracial Students, Brown Sistas United, Brown Taiwan Society, Cape Verdean Students Association, Brown Chinese Students and Scholars Association, El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan, La Federacion de Estiadiantes Puertorriquenos, Filipino Alliance, Friends of Turkey, Hong Kong Students Association, Japanese Culture Association, Korean American Students Association, Latin American Students Association, Queer Alliance, Muslim Student Association, Organization of United African Peoples, Pakistani Students at Brown, South Asian Students Association, Students of Caribbean Ancestry, and the Young Communist League.
    Brown University's Official Institutional Diversity Statement --- http://www.brown.edu/Administration/diversity/programs_struct.html

     

    Georgetown sets a bright line between "Orthodox Christian" and "Protestants" versus evangelical or other Unorthodox Christians
    Campus Ministries at Georgetown University --- http://campusministry.georgetown.edu/

     


    Where do local (San Francisco) politics and national Democratic Party politics clash the worst for the new Speaker of the House of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi)?

    Answers


    Not content with simply protesting the war, they've trained their sights on all things military. In an apparent effort to rid the city of any semblance of its military history, various leftist groups, and even some city officials, are trying to erase the military's presence altogether. In short, San Francisco has declared itself a military-free zone.

    Cinnamon Stillwell, "San Francisco Declares Itself a Military-Free Zone," San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 2005 ---Click Here

    At a town hall meeting at Marina Middle School in San Francisco, Pelosi faced down a couple dozen angry protesters who called on her to sway other Democratic lawmakers to end funding for the war. Pelosi refused, saying the money is needed to support the troops. "I'm not prepared to say (to the troops) that even though you're there on a flawed premise, I will not support you," she said over the shouts of protesters. "The fact is, the money is for the troops, and I'm not going to vote against funding." Pelosi, whose district includes most of San Francisco, said she supports Murtha's call for the immediate withdrawal of troops . . .
    "Pelosi clashes with protesters over Iraq war funding," Oakland Tribune, January 15, 2006 --- http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20060115/ai_n16007996


    Opponents said the armed forces should have no place in public schools, and the military's discriminatory stance on gays makes the presence of JROTC unacceptable. After 90 years in San Francisco high schools, the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps must go, the San Francisco school board decided Tuesday night . . . Dozens of JROTC cadets at the board meeting burst into tears or covered their faces after the votes were cast.

    Jill Tucker, "School board votes to dump JROTC program," The San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 2006 ---
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/11/15/ROTC.TMP
    Jensen Comment
    San Francisco is the U.S. center for anti-military politics and protests against the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy of the military. A strong Nancy Pelosi sometimes defies her constituency extremists by voting for the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" Law (Meehan Amendment) despised by gays and her defiance to declaring the United States a military free nation. Ending JROTC is another way to discourage the remaining 1,600 children who have not yet fled San Francisco's gay mandates and living costs. Recently the majority of remaining San Francisco households are not family households with voters in need of schools. Voters with children increasingly need minority protections in San Francisco.

    San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who is set to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, issued a statement questioning the move. Pelosi says her record of supporting the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered communities is solid. Still, she worries the loss of the JROTC could, "eliminate much-needed opportunities and structure for young at-risk students from low-income and minority communities."
    "Jr. ROTC Cancellation Draws National Interest," KRON4, November 15, 2006 --- http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=5688478

    The JROTC home page is at http://www.jrotc.org/

    San Francisco is Not a Friendly Place for a Christian Youth Rally: Official City Condemnation
    More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against "the virtue terrorism" of popular culture, and they were greeted by an official city condemnation and a clutch of protesters who said their event amounted to a "fascist mega-pep rally."
    Joe Garofoli, "Evangelical teens rally in S.F., San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 2006 ---
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/03/25/MNG6OHU6RR1.DTL

    We may disagree with certain aspects of the Battle Cry agenda -- on issues such as abortion rights, religion in schools or acceptance of an individual's sexual orientation -- but the attempt by counterprotesters and some of the city's elected officials to call them "fascist" and "hateful" was totally at odds with the tone of the ballpark event and the approach of the Web site. The gathering was not an "act of provocation," as the supervisors claimed. It was a get-together of young evangelicals whose lifestyles and religious views just happen to be in the minority here -- apparently making them open season for politicians to chastise. The young people who came to San Francisco to affirm their faith and enjoy a day of rock music deserved better. They deserved to be welcomed by a city that was as tolerant and progressive as its sanctimonious supervisors like to profess.
    "Intolerant City," Editorial in The San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 2006 --- Click Here

    I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays. But there are so many Christian people I know who are gay and love their religion ...
    Elton John, The Guardian, November 11, 2006

    Question
    Is Jimmy Carter's new book about the Middle East really aimed at evangelical Christians and political hardball for 2008?
    He's agenda is to undermine Christian support of Israel!
    The biggest shock in Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," comes not from the title, but from the twisting of reality. [Snip] Carter isn't writing for Arabs or Jews; he's aiming at American Christians, particularly the evangelicals who are among Israel's most ardent supporters. Carter repeatedly refers to Israeli oppression of Christians, destruction of Christian holy sites and imprisonment of Bethlehem. He emphasizes Israel's secular nature in 1973 and makes dark allusions to the powerful pro-Israel lobby. He asserts that Israel's security fence is a grotesque violation of international law but ignores its success at stopping suicide attacks;...
    Michael Jacobs, "Carter's book a distorted view of Israel," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 20, 2006 --- http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/stories/2006/11/20/1120edcarter.html
    Jensen Comment
    In trying to undermine Christian support for Israel, Carter overlooks the more serious threat to Christianity that comes from Islamic nations that currently persecute Christians, notably Iran and Pakistan.




    Forwarded by Dick Haar on November 9, 2006

    MILINET: A Marine's Eye-View of Iraq

    This email from a guy who is there.............

    No politics here, just a Marine with a bird's eye view opinion:

    1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits can't be reliably counted on to put the enemy down.

    Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents show a high level of opiate use.

    2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly (that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

    3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

    4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

    5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

    6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma deuce" is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

    7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

    8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

    9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

    10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

    11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs.and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit about the "old" body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

    12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular

    performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

    13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire's, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations.

    Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it. I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology,it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

    Bad guy weapons:

    1) Mostly AK47's . The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again)

    Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

    2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

    3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan's area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery

    shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks th at litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

    4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordan's NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the wire". Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

    5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Googleearth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

    Who are the bad guys (remember that is what the Captain called them!)? Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly "foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.), and then travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the EuphratesRiver that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.). These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.'s, the police forces and the Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

    Bad Guy Tactics:

    When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AK's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time (see the M2 and M240 above). Jordan's base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha W hiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast mover's, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

    Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition. The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to inf luence people they are trying to influence but can't reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.). The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a shit about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

    The Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a damn. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqi's were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqi's are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

    According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are n ot enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).

    Anyway, that's it, hope you found it interesting.




    Forwarded by Team Carper

    2004 Smart Ass Answer Top Award Winners according to Readers Digest ---
    http://altnews.com.au/drop/node/view/1329 

    SMART ASS ANSWER #6
    It was mealtime during a flight on Hooters Airline. "Would you like dinner?" the flight attendant asked John, seated in front. "What are my choices?" John asked. "Yes or no," she replied.

    SMART ASS ANSWER #5 A flight attendant was stationed at the departure gate to check tickets. As a man approached, she extended her hand for the ticket and he opened his trench coat and flashed her. Without missing a beat, she said, "Sir, I need to see your ticket not your stub."

    SMART ASS ANSWER #4
    A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store but she couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?" The stock boy replied, "No ma'am, they're dead.! "

    SMART ASS ANSWER #3
    The cop got out of his car and the kid who was stopped for speeding rolled down his window. "I've been waiting for you all day," the cop said. The kid replied, "Yeah, well I got here as fast as I could." When the cop finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid on his way without a ticket.

    SMART ASS ANSWER #2
    A truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads, " Low Bridge Ahead." Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?" The truck driver says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."

    SMART ASS ANSWER OF THE YEAR 2004A
    A college teacher reminds her class of tomorrow's final exam. "Now class, I won't tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury, illness, or a death in your immediate family, but that's it, no other excuses whatsoever!" A smart-ass guy in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, "What would you say if tomorrow I said I was suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?" The entire class is reduced to laughter and snickering. When silence is restored, the teacher smiles knowingly at the student, shakes her head and sweetly says, "Well, I guess you'd have to write the exam with your other hand."


    Forwarded by Paula

    At one point she said, "Daddy, look at this," and stuck out two of her fingers. To keep her entertained, I reached out and stuck her tiny fingers in my mouth and said, "Daddy's gonna eat your fingers!" Pretending to eat them before I rushed out of the room again. When I returned, my daughter was standing on the bed staring at her fingers with a devastated look on her face. I said, "What's wrong, honey?" She replied, "What happened to my booger?"

    2004 Smart Ass Answer Top Award Winners according to Readers Digest


     

    Forwarded (sort of) by Aaron Konstam

    ASSIGNING GRADES

    Here is a list of the ways professors here at an American University grade their final exams:
    (Name is classified but may soon be disclosed in the New York Times)

    DEPT OF STATISTICS:
    _ All grades are plotted along the curve with B grades going to students who can spell Gaussian, a C grade who only managed to spell "bell" but not "Gaussian," and an A grade to those who can integrate the normal curve using polar coordinates.

    DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY:
    _ Students are asked to blot ink in their exam books, close them and turn them in. The professor opens the books and assigns the first grade that comes to mind.

    _Alternately the psychology professor will conduct psychoanalysis to determine which masochistic students should fail and which narcissistic students receive top grades.

    DEPT OF HISTORY:
    _ All students get the same grade they got last year. First year grades are translated from hieroglyphics.

    DEPT OF RELIGION:
    _ Grade is determined by God.

    DEPT OF PHILOSOPHY:
    _ What is a grade?

    LAW SCHOOL:
    _ Students are asked to change their F on appeal.

    DEPT OF MATHEMATICS:
    _ Grades are stochastic.

    DEPT OF LOGIC:
    _ If and only if the student is present for the final and the student has accumulated a passing grade then the student will receive an A else the student will not receive an A.

    DEPT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE:
    _ Random number generator determines grade.

    DEPT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
    _Failing students get stuck in IRAQ

    MUSIC DEPARTMENT:
    _ Each student must figure out his grade by listening to the instructor play the corresponding note (+ and _ would be sharp and flat respectively).

    DEPT OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION:
    _ Everybody gets an A.

    CIVIL ENGINEERING:
    _Grade determined by the slope of the forehead.

    CHEMICAL ENGINEERING:
    _Grade based on urinary throughput per second.

    ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING:
    _Every grade, by whatever standards, is a shock to the recipient.

    Added by Jensen
    BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION:
    _Bribery is recommended and think big like your professor is a CEO.

     




    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