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
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
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
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 ---
Tidbits on November 20, 2006
earlier editions of Tidbits go to
earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures
Bob Jensen's Home Page is at
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
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 ---
Master of Illusion: This one gets really interesting
near the end when he pushes his hand through an aquarium ---
Watch a penguin have fun writing your first name in the snow ---
YouTube and the Cultural Studies Classroom ---
Science Animations: Movies & Interactive Tutorial Links ---
Bob Jensen's links to science learning helpers are at
Digital Duo Video Helpers With Technology ---
Click on the third sentence beginning with "Here's a link to our PCWD2 section
African Union ---
Friendship Puzzle ---
"IRS Agent Finds Key to New Life in 'Stranger',"
by Robert Denerstein,
Rocky Mountain News via SmartPros, November 13, 2006 ---
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
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
Free music downloads ---
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 ---
Art Tatum: A Talent Never to Be Duplicated (Jazz
A Classical Pianist Who Never Showed Off ---
Boot Scootin' Boogie ---
What was No.1 on the day you were born (provided
you were born after 1955) ---
Frank Loesser ---
American Routes (Jazz) ---
The Black Keys, Black Angels in Concert (full concert of hard
Photographs and Art
Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
Air Force Link (history) ---
Old Poetry ---
Classical Short Stories ---
Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia
Domesday Book (William the Conqueror, UK National
Roderick Hudson by Henry James
Hap-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe
Mellonta Tauta by Edgar Allan Poe
A Tale Of A Tub by Jonathan Swift
Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells
William James ---
Creative Quotations by Milton Friedman ---
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 ---
My real hero on fighting earmarks is a Republican from Arizona named
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 ---
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
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
His publisher claims it is actually a confession in
The New York Times on November 17, 2006. On the heels of the
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 ---
The market is a place where men may deceive one
Anacharsis (499-428 b.C.)
Mothers, food, love, and career. the four major
Kathy Guisewite as quoted by Mark
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) ---
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) ---
Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious
art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.
Edward Sapir (1884-1939) ---
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
Friedman's Sampler: A selection of writings from The Wall Street
Creative Quotations by Milton Friedman ---
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
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.
What do students in accounting and religious studies have in common?
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 ---
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
Faculty and Student Priorities for Intro
Religious Studies Courses
||Faculty at religious colleges
||Students at religious affiliations
||Faculty at secular colleges
||Students at secular colleges
|Develop critical thinking
|Develop students’ moral and ethical values
|Develop students’ own religious beliefs
|Consider or strengthen students’
commitment to a particular set of beliefs
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:
- Students are much more interested than
professors in learning facts about religion and discussing “big
questions” about the meaning of life.
- Discussion is crucial to students. When
students in “highly effective” courses were asked what part of the
classes was most helpful, discussion was the top answer. When those same
students were asked about how the courses could be improved, the top
answer was: more discussion.
- Many students take courses in religious
studies fully expecting their views to be challenged. About 40 percent
of “secure Christians” (those with no doubts about their faith) reported
that they expected their beliefs to be challenged — with some predicting
that their beliefs wouldn’t change as a result and others open to the
possibility that it might.
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
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
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
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
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
Bob Jensen's threads on the theory versus clinical issue,
particularly in doctoral programs, can be found at
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 ---
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
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
Tamar Lewin, "As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics," The New York
Times, November 14, 2006 ---
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 ---
Three Cheers for a Courageous
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
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
- Ads for International Drivers' Licenses or
Permits Could Be a Dead End [TEXT]
- After a Disaster:
Repairing Your Home [TEXT]
- Aging Parents and Adult Children Together
- Alaskan Native Art [TEXT]
- All That Glitters... How to Buy Jewelry
- Auction Guides: Not So Hot Properties
- Beloved...Bejeweled...Be Careful: What to
Know Before You Buy Jewelry [TEXT]
- Buying a Washing Machine? It's a Load-ed
- Buying, Giving, and Using Gift Cards [TEXT]
- Buying Gold and Gemstone Jewelry: The Heart
of the Matter [TEXT]
- Buying Time: The Facts About Pre-Paid Phone
- Can Anti-Snoring Claims Be Cause for Alarm?
- Caring for Your Clothes [TEXT]
- Choosing a Career or Vocational School
- Cigars: No Such Thing As a Safe Smoke
- Clothing Care Symbol Guide [TEXT]
- Continuity Plans: Coming to You Like
- Cost of "Free" Adult Content Adds Up
- Diversity Visa Lottery; Read the Rules, Avoid the Rip-Offs
- Eco-Speak: A User’s Guide to the Language
of Recycling [TEXT]
- Electronic Checkout Scanners Campaign
- Entertainment Ratings: Pocket Guide
- The Eyes Have It -- Get Your Prescription [TEXT]
- 'Free Grants': Don't Take Them For Grant-ed [TEXT]
- "Free" and "Low-Cost" PC Offers. Go Figure.
- FTC Explains ‘Made in USA’ Standard To
Confirm Cons. Confidence [TEXT]
- Funerals: A Consumer Guide [TEXT]
- The Gifting Club "Gotcha" [TEXT]
- Gear Up for a Great Trip - Traveler Game
- Green Card Lottery Scams [TEXT]
- Holiday Shopping: Is a Sale Price Your Best
- Home-Use Tests For HIV Can Be Inaccurate,
FTC Warns [TEXT]
- Home Improvement: Tools You Can Use
- Home Insulation Basics: Higher R-Values =
Higher Insulating Values [TEXT]
- Home Sweet Home Improvement [TEXT]
- How to Buy Genuine American Indian Arts and
- How to Right a Wrong [TEXT]
- If You've Got "The Look" ... Look Out!
Avoiding Modeling Scams [TEXT]
- Internet Auctions: A Guide for Buyer and
- Invention Promotion Firms [TEXT]
- Jingle Bells, Jingle Sells: Tips for
Holiday Shopping [TEXT]
- Kitchen Gadgets Offer Food for "Thaw-t"
- Living Trust Offers: How to Make Sure
They're Trust-worthy [TEXT]
- Long Distance Deals [TEXT]
- Lotions and Potions: The Bottom Line About
Multilevel Marketing Plans [TEXT]
- Making Sense of Long Distance Advertising
- Making Sure the Scanned Price Is Right
- More Than Once Upon a Mattress: Used
Bedding Labeling Rules [TEXT]
- Need a Lawyer? Judge for Yourself
- Now Consumers Can Tell It to the FTC -
- Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods
& Services [TEXT]
- Personal Emergency Response Systems
- Petal Pushers: Is Your 'Local' Florist
Really Long-Distance? [TEXT]
- Prenotification Negative Option Plans
- Problems With Holiday Purchases? [TEXT]
- Project CLEAN Campaign [TEXT]
- Pump Fiction [TEXT]
- Radiation Shields: Do They 'Cell' Consumers
- Resolving Consumer Disputes: Mediation and
- A Rose Is A Rose Is A Ruse? Campaign
- Safe Shopping Tips (Holiday Shopping Tips)
- Service Contracts [TEXT]
- Servicing Your Furnace (audio) [RAM]
- So You've Got a Great Idea? Campaign
- Solving Consumer Problems [TEXT]
- Spotting Sweet-Sounding Promises of
Fraudulent Invention Promotion Firms [TEXT]
- Sun-Protective Clothing: Wear It Well
- Sunscreens and Sun-Protective Clothing
- Taking the "Bait" Out of Rebates [TEXT]
- Thinking About a Home Improvement? Don't
Get Nailed [TEXT]
- Tips for Making Environmental Marketing
Claims on Mail [TEXT]
- Trial Offers: The Deal Is in the Details
- Unordered Merchandise [TEXT]
- Up In Smoke: The Truth About Tar and
Nicotine Ratings [TEXT]
- Using Internet Access Products [TEXT]
- Warranties [TEXT]
- Warranties for Newly Built Homes: Know Your Options
- Wash Daze: Laundry Gadgets Won't Lighten
the Load [TEXT]
- Weathering the High Cost of Heating Your
- Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads
- Who Cares: Sources of Information About
Health Care Products and Services [TEXT]
The Federal Trade Commission home page is at
Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at
Richard Campbell notes a nice white collar crime blog edited by some law
What is robbing a bank compared to founding a bank?
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) ---
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
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
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
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.
"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
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 ---
Especially note the consumer education resources at
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
Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at
Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of
credit card companies are at
"FIVE YEARS LATER: USA PATRIOT ACT'S IMPACT ON BANKS"
Summary from Accounting Education News ---
"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
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
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
Dilbert has a 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 ---
Do students need more protection from their professors who expound political
For all the fears about David Horowitz’s
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
Scott Jaschik, "Who Won the Battle of Pennsylvania?" Inside Higher Ed,
November 16, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on free speech and academic freedom controversies are
2006 Creativity Professors of the Year
"Professors honored for creativity," by Marissa Levy, USA Today,
November 16, 2006 ---
The national winners are:
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?' "
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
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
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 ---
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
Why white collar crime pays for Chief Enron Accountant:
Rick Causey's fine for filing false Enron financial statements:
Rick Causey's stock sales benefiting from the false reports:
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
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 ---
Dell's independent auditor in PricewaterhouseCoopers (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 ---
"The Engaged E-Learner," by Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed,
November 13, 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
Beyond the numbers, however, what institutions
choose to do with the data promises to attract extra attention to this
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
“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
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
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
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
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 ---
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
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
Elaine Allen, co-author of the report and a Babson
associate professor of statistics and entrepreneurship, said those numbers
“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
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
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.
November 10, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
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
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 ---
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 ---
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
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:
November 10, 2006 reply from John Brozovsky
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
Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing and education technology are at
Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives are at
Motivations for Distance Learning ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side of online learning and teaching are
The SEC released a new, improved search tool for EDGAR ---
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
The Commission plans further enhancements based on
user feedback. Requests, comments and suggestions should be sent to
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
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 ---
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 ---
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
Was Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek wrong about free markets and
"Dismal Science," by William Easterly, The Wall Street Journal,
November 15, 2006; Page A18 ---
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
"Small Business Survival Index Released," AccountingWeb,
November 13, 2006 ---
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
- 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
- South Dakota
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
From The Washington Post on November 14, 2006
Which fast food chain will start selling
video games in late November?
Kentucky Fried Chicken
World Wide Web Consortium ---
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 ---
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
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.
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
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
Top 100 Business Blogs
Possible Discrimination Against Asian Americans in College Admissions at
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 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action admissions are at
What's the use of firstname.lastname@example.org ?
November 13, 2006 message from Schatzel, John
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
email@example.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.
November 14, 2006
Snopes has a pretty good page for identifying phishing spoofs. Enter "phishing"
into the search box at
Also see what you get when you enter "Nigerian" into the search box.
Bob Jensen's threads on phishing and related scams are at
Bob Jensen's helpers in restoring identity and related matters are at
Just-In-Time Teaching ---
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
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
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
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
- 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
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:
By fostering these, JiTT promotes student learning and satisfaction.
- increased amounts and quality of student-student interaction
- student-faculty interaction
- student study outside of class.
matters in college? Four critical years revisited (San Francisco,
CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993).
Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
Bob Jensen's threads on tools and tricks of the trade are at
Electionline (for election reform) ---
A rose by any other name is , ... , ah er , ... a required supplemental
"A Fee That Is Not a Fee," by Paul D. Thacker, Inside Higher Ed,
November 9, 2006 ---
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.
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 ---
Bob Jensen's links to math helpers are at
Strum That T-Shirt
"Aussie scientists help air guitarists rock for real," PhysOrg,
November 13, 2006 ---
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
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
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
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
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 ---
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 ---
"Fourth Grader suspended for failing to answer test question," Zero
Tolerance, May 16, 2005 ---
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
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
What's a death derivative?
"Banks to develop ‘death’ derivatives," by Renée Schultes and Mike Foster,
Financial News, November 13, 2006 ---
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
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
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 ---
Political Science Professors Putting the Blame on Israel
"Dual Loyalty and the Israel Lobby," by Gabriel Schoenfeld, Commentary
Magazine, November 2006 ---
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
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
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 ---
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
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
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
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
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 ---
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
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
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
The Cost of Living and the Geographic Distribution of Poverty ---
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 ---
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
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.
Frank Horbelt ACCT 610
Student Wichita State University
November 10, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
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!
Flash Quizzing using Camtasia 4 (Link forwarded by Richard Campbell)
This is a blog entry by Brooks Andrus - the chief Flash developer for Techsmith
Bob Jensen's threads on Camtasia are at
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 ---
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
I've not found any free versions of Anderson's book. The Amazon link is
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
Bob Jensen's accounting career helpers are at
"Winners and Losers Among Ballot Propositions Affecting Taxes,"
AccountingWeb, November 9, 2006 ---
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
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 ---
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
The Times of London reported.
Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2006 ---
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 ---
"Winners and Losers Among Ballot Propositions Affecting Taxes,"
AccountingWeb, November 9, 2006 ---
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
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.
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
As Sonics Pack to Leave Town, Seattle Shrugs
Seattle SuperSonics History ---
Seattle Center at 40: 1962 World’s Fair [pdf]
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums
Citizens for More Important Things [pdf]
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on November 3,
TITLE: Rules on Capital Roil U.S. Bankers
REPORTER: Damian Paletta
DATE: Nov 01, 2006
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
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
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 ---
From the Scout Report on November 10, 2006
GRASS GIS 6.2.0 ---
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 ---
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 ---
Updates from WebMD ---
Latest Headlines on
November 9, 2006
Latest Headlines on
November 10, 2006
Latest Headlines on
November 14, 2006
Latest Headlines on
November 15, 2006
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
Roni Rabin, "Health Disparities Persist for Men, and Doctors Ask Why," The
New York Times, November 14, 2006 ---
"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 ---
"World Champion Barrel Race Horse Cloned," PhysOrg, November
16, 2006 ---
"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 ---
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.
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.
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
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.
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
The Web site for
Orzack's center lists the following among the psychological symptoms of
· 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.
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.
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?"
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
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
Less Game to
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."
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
"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."
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
"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 ---
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 ---
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,
Teaching and Training Modules on Trends in Health and Aging ---
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 ---
What is most like painting and sprucing up the outside of a house having dry rot
"Improving face-lifts: Beauty more than skin deep, by Tracie White, Stanford
University News, November 11, 2006 ---
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
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
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 ---
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
countdown” page. They appear on the back of the
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
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
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) ---
Not Our Best Role Model for Ethics Courses
It's All in the Family
Nepotism and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ---
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
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 ---
On November 15, 2006 Murtha dropped out (before going down in defeat) of the
race for House Majority Leader ---
November 17, 2006 message from Naomi Ragen
President Bush, running scared, is undermining all
the good he did by fighting terror in Iraq.
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 produced by the Middle East Media
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," . . .
Where are the bounds of diversity at Brown University and Georgetown
organization has joined forces with a Christian student group at
Brown University in an attempt to find
out why the
has banned the Christians from meeting on
its campus . . . As WND as reported, the move by Brown comes just weeks
notified a group of
evangelical Christian organizations, such as InterVarsity Christian
Fellowship, they would no longer be allowed to operate on campus. The
said it was going in another "direction" but never explained more fully.
"Christians kicked off campus at Brown University," WorldNetDaily,
November 18, 2006 ---
The problem at Brown appears to be that the students were evangelist
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 ---
Georgetown sets a bright line
between "Orthodox Christian" and "Protestants" versus evangelical or other
Campus Ministries at Georgetown University ---
Where do local (San Francisco) politics and national Democratic Party
politics clash the worst for the new Speaker of the House of Representatives
- San Francisco declares war on the U.S. military (political suicide at
the national political level)
- San Francisco declares war on evangelical Christians (political
suicide at the national political level)
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
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 ---
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 ---
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
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
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 ---
The JROTC home page is at
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 ---
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 ---
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
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
Michael Jacobs, "Carter's book a
distorted view of Israel," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 20,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
_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?
_ 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
_ 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.
_Grade determined by the slope of the forehead.
_Grade based on urinary throughput per second.
_Every grade, by whatever standards, is a shock to the recipient.
Added by Jensen
_Bribery is recommended and think big like your professor is a CEO.
More Tidbits from the Chronicle
of Higher Education ---
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmark
s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory ---
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
Three Finance Blogs
Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
FinancialRounds Blog ---
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Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) ---
International Association of Accountants News ---
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries ---
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL
Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New
Current and past editions of my newsletter called
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud
Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586