My close friends Lon and Nancy Hendersen own the Sunset Hill House down the road from our cottage. The above picture is the first slide in their promotional slide show at


Tidbits on November 27, 2006
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to 

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

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 ---

What a shock --- CNN looks inward and blames a biased U.S. and European media for helping jihadists
CNN host Glenn Beck criticizes the rest of the Western media, including by implication his own station CNN, for drastically failing to properly report on Islamic extremism. This documentary, screened on the American (but not so far on the international) version of CNN, has now been posted on You Tube, and it is so important that I strongly recommend everyone to make time to watch it in full ---

Great Telemarketing Reply
Write down the script and place it beside your phone
Audio version ---

From The New Yorker
The photographer Samantha Appleton talks to Matt Dellinger about making pictures in Nigeria, Iraq, and Lebanon ---

Moving Images Pinewood Dialogues (for students of film) ---

Her Dash on Earth (slide show) ---

Video of Senator Byrd Snoozing during Speech of Soldiers Dying in Iraq ---
But he did not snore as loudly as Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg! See "Snorer in the court? Ruth Bader Ginsburg dozes off during political redistricting hearing: Colleagues let her sleep," ---

Bank of America meeting - funny/terrible "One" cover (Universal Studio and banking competitors were not amused) ---

National Academies in September 2006 convened a convocation was designed to address the topic of maintaining a competitive environment in the United States for innovation, research, higher education, and K-12 science and mathematics education ---

Don't get smart and threaten an old lady ---

Free music downloads ---

The politically correct Iwo Jima ---

From Jessie
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page.
In the Garden ---
An Irish Blessing (Great Photography and Inspirational Message if You Listen to it All) ---

Good band music and good food ---

Lila Downs' Cross-Border Musical Influences ---

The James Bond Title Songs Never Say Die ---

'Mary Poppins' Musical Adds to the Songbook --- 

Dorothy Ashby and a Harp That Swings (Jazz) ---

A Joyful Pop Chorus, 29 Members Strong ---

Damien Rice: From a Whisper to a Scream ---

Ornette Coleman: Decades of Jazz on the Edge ---

Dennen's Earnest Message Eased by Funky Groove (Folk Songs) --- 

Photographs and Art

Panorama Around Mt. Everest (GREAT) ---
(Hold the left mouse button down and move drag around)

Hubble telescope's top ten greatest space photographs ---

Holy Image, Hallowed Ground (Getty Center Exhibitions) ---

Ocean Flowers: Anna Atkins’s 19th Century Cyanotypes of British Algae --- Click Here

Air Force Link (history) ---

Water’s Journey Everglades Currents of Change ---

Manet and the Execution of Maximilian ---

Cole Rise ---

The Harold Sun (Australia) photographed some rather surprising store window displays ---,21985,20807961-661,00.html

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 ---

LibriVox Free Audio Books ---
Also see

Bookyards ---

Forbidden Books ---

Moral Emblems by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) --- Click Here

Mudfog and Other Sketches by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) --- Click Here 

The Lamplighter by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) --- Click Here

Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) --- Click Here

The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) --- Click here

The 25 Funniest Analogies (Collected by High School English Teachers) --- Click Here

Books in Depth ---

  • Video
    The Ups and Downs of Financial Theory:  Skirt Lengths and Stock Price Moves (which "causes" which?)

    If these shocking socioeconomic theorists are correct, is there an upper bound to prosperity?
    Life’s great puzzle:  Why must there always be ups and downs?
    Put another way, is this the reason the Taliban can never prosper in a market economy? hypothesizes that social mood and fashion determine level of prosperity rather than the customary assumption that the level of prosperity dictates social mood and fashion. If this is true, perhaps prosperity is merely a matter of looking up. Put another way, fashion designers should be able to earn abnormal returns on the stock market. Does Britney Spears know more than previous finance theorists? Perhaps hemline trends are a better way to improve pro forma reporting, especially shortened pro forma accounting reports.
    Watch the controversial video (free clip) at
    Click on one of the “Watch the video online” choices?

    How to interpret the current inverted yield curve (no hemline theory here)
    Some new studies suggest that the yield curve inversion might not be quite as ominous as some of us have been assuming. The yield spread is the gap between a long-term interest rate Rt (such as the ten-year Treasury rate) and a short-term rate rt (such as the 3-month Tbill rate). The spread Rt - rt is usually positive, reflecting a preference of lenders for short-term liquidity. But when the spread as recently becomes small or turns negative, that is often a harbinger of slower economic growth or even a recession.

    Econbrowser, November 13, 2006 ---

    The federal budget deficit is a concrete example. Regardless of whether you supported or opposed the Bush tax cuts, it is clear that the long-run budget is in shambles. With the baby boom generation about to retire, the budget should be in surplus. But instead, we face cumulative 10-year deficits of $3.5 trillion -- and worse after that. You can blame this sorry state of affairs on either excessive tax-cutting or on profligate spending -- take your pick. It's more accurate to blame both, because fiscal discipline has utterly broken down. Restoring that discipline will doubtless mean both spending restraint and new revenues -- more hard decisions that the voters want politicians to make.
    Roger C. Altman and Alan S. Blinder, "The Economic Front," The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2006; Page A16 ---
    Also see

    Just saying 'no' prevents teenage pregnancy the way 'Have a nice day' cures chronic depression.
    Faye Wattleton

    A friend is one who would help you move. A best friend is one who would help you move a body.
    Jeff Wayman

    To err is human ... to really foul up requires the root password.
    David Weingart

    Cuyahoga County has 1.05 million registered voters, which tops the number of adults in the county by 200,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
    Joan Mazzolini, "41 percent of Cuyahoga voters took part in election," Cleveland's Plain Dealer, November 15, 2006 ---

    Jensen Comment
    Rumor has it that consultants were called in from Duval County in Texas to advise Cuyahoga on how to register voters residing in cemeteries.

    To keep your marriage brimming,
    with love in the loving cup,
    whenever you're wrong, admit it;
    whenever you're right, shut up.

    Ogden Nash ---

    The most popular labor-saving device today is still a  husband spouse with money.
    Joey Adams (1911-1999) --- Click Here

    High-earning women are supporting their husbands as they quit their jobs in search of more fulfilling careers, a report disclosed yesterday. A growing number of men are becoming disillusioned with desk-bound jobs and are seeking more creative professions such as teaching, says the Training and Development Agency for Schools. Successful career women are fuelling the trend, say researchers, who found that a third of male graduates had a wife or girlfriend who earned as much if not more than them.
    Nicole Martin, "High-paid wives let husbands do own thing," Daily Telegraph, November 23, 2006 --- Click Here

    Why are CEOs making such a fuss over the accounting for stock options? It has nothing to do with their concern about accounting theory, argues J. Edward Ketz. "If they cared about accounting theory, CEOs would be more supportive of the FASB, the SEC, and the IASB in developing and improving accounting practice. They don't want improvements in accounting, else somebody might actually know what they are up to.
    J. Edward Ketz, "The Accounting Cycle Accounting for Stock Options (Part Three): Why CEOs Fight Stock Option Accounting," SmartPros, November 2006 ---

    I'm too dumb for opera and too smart for NASCAR.
    Overheard by Phil Cooley at a conference.

    Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
    William Shakespeare in "Measure for Measure" I iv 77-79 (as it appears in a recent email message from Phil Cooley)

    Better to let people think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
    Mark Twain
    Why did he have to phrase it that way?

    I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forget their use.
    Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) ---

    It's possible to have your venison and eat it too.
    Bryan James Hathaway, a Superior, Minnesota man accused of having carnal relations with what he called "venison"
    Duluth Tribune
    , November 17, 2006  --- Click Here or read the Smoking Gun's account at
    Hathaway's attorney pleaded for dismissal since the deer was dead at the time of the infraction. The trial judge pointed out that Minnesota statutes do not draw a line between alive versus dead, at least not as far as animals are concerned.

    At death, an animal ceases to be an animal. As Billy Crystal noted in The Princess Bride (1987), "There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead."
    Opinion Journal, November 17, 2006

    I really do feel that genuine translation of text requires understanding of the text, and understanding requires having lived in the world and dealt with the physical world and is not just a question of manipulating words.
    Douglas Hofstadter (1945) ---

    New York's highest court on Monday ordered the state to pay an additional $1.93 billion a year to provide "a sound, basic education" to New York City school children. That's billions less than had been sought in a landmark lawsuit launched more than a decade ago.
    "N.Y. Is Ordered to Pay $1.93 Billion for City Schools," The New York Times, November 20, 2006 --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    As long as the courts have taken over control of the state spending, continued funding of impotent state legislatures is a waste of money. Perhaps the State Legislatures of New York and elsewhere should retire for good and leave revenue and expense decisions to the courts.

    Once upon a time, I berated American troops for entering a mosque wearing boots. But it is clear after this Thanksgiving weekend — when Iraqi Shiite Muslims grabbed Iraqi Sunni Muslims inside a mosque, doused them with gasoline, and burned them alive — that we are way past boots, past the American occupation of Iraq, and past debates on staying the course. Iraq is now in the throes of a far larger war, among Muslims and within the faith. It would be wise for third parties to get out of the way of such a clash.
    Oussef Ibrahim, "In Iraq, War Among Muslims," New York Sun, November 27, 2006 ---

    Tribal chiefs and Coalition forces clashed with Al-Qaeda insurgents in Al-Anbar province killing 50 terrorists, it was announced here Sunday. Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the Abu Soda tribe in Sofia yesterday and in response, Coalition Forces provided support to the Abu Sodas fight against Al Qaeda, a US Army statement said. "The Americans have come to the aide of the Abu Soda tribe. They have understood the dire situation that the Abu Soda are currently battling the Al Qaeda, because the Americans see it as a fight against a common enemy," said Sheikh Ahmed, Sheikh of Abu Resha.
    "Tribal chiefs clash with Qaeda in Anbar killing 50 terrorists," Kuwait News Agency, November 26, 2006 --- Click Here

    We've been waiting for more solid and realistic new policy in Iraq: 
    The L.A. Times has got it right at last!
    So allow me to propose the unthinkable: Maybe, just maybe, our best option is to restore Saddam Hussein to power. Yes, I know. Hussein is a psychotic mass murderer. Under his rule, Iraqis were shot, tortured and lived in constant fear. Bringing the dictator back would sound cruel if it weren't for the fact that all those things are also happening now, probably on a wider scale . . . Meanwhile, we have admirably directed our efforts into training a professional and nonsectarian Iraqi police force and encouraging reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites. But we haven't succeeded. We may be strong enough to stop large-scale warfare or genocide, but we're not strong enough to stop pervasive chaos. Hussein, however, has a proven record in that department. It may well be possible to reconstitute the Iraqi army and state bureaucracy we disbanded, and if so, that may be the only force capable of imposing order in Iraq.
    Jonathan Chait, "Bring back Saddam Hussein," The Los Angeles Times, November 27, 2006 --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    If General Hussein is sneaked out of prison, the finest Arab horse in all of the Middle East should await his return to power. Perhaps Oliver Stone will have a Los Angeles Times film crew on hand to film the Return of the Baathist Party to power. Our beleaguered outside contractors could then find work reconstructing Saddam statues throughout Iraq. Saddam's enemies will no longer cause trouble because it's really hard to build bombs, fire AK-47s, and go to the bathroom efficiently with both hands chopped off.

    Seriously, the Los Angeles Times Has Been Strategically Trying to Discourage the U.S. Military in Iraq
    Al Qaeda is winning the media war and this is why!

    . . .  there were no airstrikes in Ramadi that day, while the L.A. Times stringer claimed there had been an airstrike. When I checked into it, the weight of the evidence indicated that the soldier was right and the L.A. Times was wrong. The military flatly denies that there was an airstrike — a denial that the L.A. Times has failed to report to this day. Several other media reports state that civilians died from small-arms fire and tank fire, and not an airstrike.  . . . The [L.A. Times article] is an example of why you simply cannot believe most media reports coming out of Iraq. The LA Time[s] reporter, Solomon Moore, is not in Ramadi. He relies on an Iraqi stringer here who has ties to insurgents. In this article, Moore repeats almost verbatim, insurgent propaganda we have intercepted. The fighting in question occurred in my battle space within Ramadi and I was personally and intimately involved . . . Every target engaged was well within what our restrictive rules of engagement authorize. I am disgusted by the editorial slant of this article, by what passes from journalistic integrity at the LA Times, and by their complicity with our mortal enemies. My Soldiers fight with great precision and skill on a very difficult urban battlefield. The LA Times dishonors them and give aid and comfort to my enemies.
    A soldier in Iraq uncovered a propaganda fabrication by Al Qaeda reported as fact by the Los Angeles Times --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    Now the liberal press is buying into unfounded theories that Bush and Cheney intentionally bombed (if there were bombs) the Trade Towers and the Pentagon with no compassion for how many thousands of Americans were killed. Media sources are reporting that Bush got out of the White House because he'd planned to bomb that as well if passengers on United Flight 93 had not intervened. Did he really leave unexploded bombs behind  in the closets of his own bedroom? Opposing bombing theories will probably be disputed forever by so-called experts. That Bush and Cheney actually planted them is liberal wishful thinking with dreams of bringing down business enterprise with any concocted theory that works. A smart strategy now would be for Bush to call for the new Democratic leadership to conduct a full investigation just to prove they cannot connect the dots of 9/11 terror back to him.

    Here's one example of how The Nation is reporting the 9/11conspiracy theory with great fanfare ---
    Counter theories seem to be ignored by The Nation. I don't mind freedom to express theories. But I do mind when alternate theories are filtered out by liberal editors with a single-minded agenda to bring down the entire free market economies of the world. See
    William Greider, "The Future Is Now," The Nation, June 26, 2006 ---

    All journalists and their media news outlets must be thoroughly investigated. Those found guilty of consistently and knowingly taking bribes from Saudi Arabia, publishing Islamic propaganda as news, publishing outright lies, and/or doctored photos should have criminal charged filed against them for aiding and abetting Islamic terrorism.
    Naomi Ragen, Email message on November 26, 2006 --- []

    What a shock --- CNN looks inward and blames a biased U.S. and European media for helping jihadists
    CNN host Glenn Beck criticizes the rest of the Western media, including by implication his own station CNN, for drastically failing to properly report on Islamic extremism. This documentary, screened on the American (but not so far on the international) version of CNN, has now been posted on You Tube, and it is so important that I strongly recommend everyone to make time to watch it in full ---

    Jensen Comment
    The Western media does not speak with one voice --- this is a long-time advantage of freedom of the press. What's frustrating is that leading media sources in Europe, South America, Latin America, and North America are becoming increasingly propaganda tools for jihadists. In some respects this indirectly results from media bashing of the Bush and Cheney administration and the multinational businesses they represent.  There is so much hate over the Iraq invasion and business prosperity that hate blinds reporters to the larger picture of orchestrated worldwide terror that will come home to roost. When CNN founder Ted Turner suggests that Iran should perhaps be allowed to have a counterbalancing arsenal of nuclear weapons it gets downright scary how close the world is approaching WMD winter. Clearly Ted Turner and Glen Beck are not on the same page ---

    George Bush made a strategic error by opening the door for Iran to take over the entire Middle East. Iran's main obstacle, at least in the short term, will be an Israel that may not die quietly and U.S. backing of Israel that will increase under the rejuvenated Democratic Party. All bets are off for the long term when and if jihadists get control of all oil in the Middle East with designs of taking over the entire world. Someday they might be stupid enough to confront China, but they will most likely focus more on North and South America.

    The logo adorning the main page and document is an AK-47 rifle. The propaganda appearing on the Web presence of the Venezuelan subsidiary of Hezbollah talks about installing the kingdom of God in Venezuela by imposing a military-theocratic type of government, an explosive mixture similar to what already exists in Iran. It claims: "The brief enjoyment of life on earth is selfish. The other life is better for those who follow Allah." Where have we heard this before? In the leaflets that encourage the suicide missions of children and teenagers in Palestine.
    "HEZBOLLAH in Venezuela:  Chávez joins the terrorists on his path to martyrdom," Vcrisis, November 26, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    If true it makes little sense for Chávez to promote such a threat to his own regime. His hope might be to use this as a training base to launch suicide bombers to harass leaders who cooperate with the U.S. imperialists. But the tribe of the Wayuu where this religious epiphany is initially taking place is not exactly loyal to Venezuela or Chávez and is seeking a nation of its own. What's certain is that Hezbollah, the militant puppet funded by Iran, is taking the fanatical jihad global. America is not yet ripe for conversion to fanatical Islam. But millions of poor and uneducated unemployed in Latin America and South America are ripe for revolutionary fever and Iranian roadside bombs.

    What a shock! A leading liberal magazine in the U.K. actually printed a pro-Israeli article
    We live in dangerous times when, in parts of the left especially, you can't be a friend to Islam or to Muslims unless you are anti-Israel. That is exactly what al-Qaida wants us to think. Events in Rochdale at the last election represent a microcosm of what we are sleepwalking into globally. The Islamists and the left argued that, because I supported Israel and its right to exist, all my work for my Muslim constituents was a lie. They suggested I was an opportunistic, neocon Zionist, aiming to dupe them. Israel's willingness to compromise for peace has never been enough, because Israel alone cannot gain peace. The Palestinians and others in the region also have to want peace. Israel needs a serious interlocutor so that peace can stand a chance. So my question to the left is this: why not concentrate your attention there, rather than on the one player in the region who has always been serious about peace?
    Lorna Fitzsimons, "Why I'm backing Israel," The Guardian, November 24, 2006 ---,,1955724,00.html

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

    "Borat" is many things: a sidesplitting triumph of slapstick and scatology, a runaway moneymaker and budding franchise, the worst thing to happen to Kazakhstan since the Mongol hordes, and, as columnist David Brooks astutely points out, a supreme display of elite snobbery reveling in the humiliation of the hoaxed hillbilly. But it is one thing more, something Brooks alluded to in passing but that requires at least one elaboration: an unintentionally revealing demonstration of the unfortunate attitude many liberal Jews have toward working-class American Christians, especially evangelicals . . . Yet, amid this gathering darkness (Anti-Semitism in Europe), an alarming number of liberal Jews are seized with the notion that the real threat lurks deep in the hearts of American Protestants, most specifically Southern evangelicals. Some fear that their children are going to be converted; others, that below the surface lies a pogrom waiting to happen; still others, that the evangelicals will take power in Washington and enact their own sharia law.
    Charles Krauthammerm, "Just an Anti-Semitic Laugh? Hardly," The Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2006 --- Click Here
    Also see
    "Christians kicked off campus at Brown University" ---

    There are many reasons that actions like Blair's strategic retreat from reason and responsibility have gone uncriticized by the media. It is not simply that Western, and particularly European journalists are overwhelmingly anti-American and virulently anti-Israel. One of the central reasons for the silence of Western intellectuals and media in the face of actions like Blair's is fear of death at the hands of jihadists.
    Caroline Glick, JPost, November 20, 2006 ---

    "There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful." Various media have reported that other Palestinian officials and armed groups have voiced support for these tactics. In a visit to Baroud's house on Sunday, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority reportedly said: "We are so proud of this national stand. It's the first stop toward protecting our homes ... so long as this strategy is in the interest of our people, we support this strategy." A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees was also quoted as saying: "We call upon all the fighters to reject evacuating their houses, and we urge our people to rush into threatened houses and make human shields."
    Independent Media Review Analysis, November 22, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    Using children as shields will continue to be a popular tactic as long as the Western media cameras are rolling.

    There are no limits on our rocket attacks and we will prove that in coming days . . . Indeed, Israeli security sources said Palestinian rockets fired in recent weeks at Sderot have been packed with more explosive material than ever before.
    Abu Abaida, spokesman for Hamas, WorldNetDaily, November 22, 2006 ---

    Terror leader says rocket attacks on Israeli towns to intensify . . . "We promise we will keep hitting them because this process (of launching rockets at Jewish communities) is starting to bring results. We are working to improve our rockets to hit further and cause more Jews to evacuate," said the terror leader, speaking to WND from Gaza.
    "Hamas 'very satisfied' with fleeing Jews Terror leader says rocket attacks at Israeli towns to intensify," WorldNetDaily, November 21, 2006 ---

    Russia, as the prime subcontractor for Iran's nuclear program, is providing: 1) Six nuclear reactors for Iran. Four are at Bushehr and two are at Akhvaz. 2) A uranium-conversion plant at Bushehr that can be used for uranium enrichment. 3) An exemption in the UN resolution on Iran. In its draft resolution the Russians have exempted “materials, equipment, technology" used at Bushehr 1. This exemption will allow Iran to convert the lightly-enriched fuel in the light-water nuclear reactor into weapon-grade 235. It need only remove fuel rods from Bushehr, then extracting their pellets, and feed this enriched uranium into its centrifuges. The centrifuges could then produce weapon-grade U-235 in less than 2 months.
    Edward Jay Epstein, "Question of the Day," November 23, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    Most analysts conclude Russia is supporting Iran's nuclear quest for money. I instead think its because of money --- Iran continues to supply the funding for terrorists around the world. Russia appears to be giving in to extortion! The deal is giving nuclear technology to Iran in exchange for suspension of terrorism funding to a Muslim population that is almost 50% of the Russian populace. Russia has, thereby, made a deal with the Devil

    We were betrayed by jihadists in our nuclear bargains with Iran --- they're war was supposed to only be with the West..
     Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's dying words when Moscow was vaporized in a mushroom cloud, Al Jazeera, March 12, 2019
     Also see "Russia starts delivery of TOR-M1 missiles to Iran," AFP, November 24, 2006 --- Click Here

    If you can't convince them, confuse them.
    Harry S. Truman --- From the man who twice dropped nukes to dash all Japanese hope of military conquest ---

    We'll wipe Israel off the map.
    Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ---A bitter leader with deep hate who's not convincing but succeeds at being confusing ---

    Jensen Comment
    Politically correct media networks in the U.S. rarely show videos of rocket-fleeing Jews and injured Jewish children, because Western news reporters are mostly on the Hamas side awaiting to dramatize Jewish retaliations. Israel is scorched by the media when injuring Palestinian civilians with reckless rockets while Hamas intentionally targets Jewish civilians almost unnoticed ---

    More and more academics are similarly siding with Palestinians in large part because it's another way for the Academy, like our media,  to whip the Bush/Cheney Administration --- using Israel by a whipping boy.  See "Dual Loyalty and the Israel Lobby," by Gabriel Schoenfeld, Commentary Magazine, November 2006 ---

    Republicans can no longer be trusted to restore fiscal sanity, control spending, and restrain corruption. Old ones need to be thoroughly flushed down the toilet in shame (except for Jeff Flake) before new ones can evolve. If we have a Democratic Party sweep the Presidential and Congressional races in 2008, we can anticipate a much more friendly liberal media toward Israel since Jews are intensely loyal (over 87% in the 2006 election) to the Democratic Party. American Jews were a leading force bringing the Democratic Party back in power in 2006. They must know something we don't know.

    Sadly all sides of the terrorism wars in the Middle East continue to commit civilian atrocities with intent on the part of jihadists and recklessness on the part of Israel.  Israel appears to be placing its last shred of hope on the Democratic Party to save Israel from Iran, Syria, and a fully-nuked Pakistan.

    Premature Israeli bombing of nuclear sites in Iran will badly damage Democratic Party support for Israel. Let's hope that Israel does not make such a huge blunder. Why interrupt crude and uncertain homemade nuclear bomb construction efforts and, thereby, force oil-rich Iran to immediately buy fully, albeit very expensive, operational Russian, Pakistani or Asian nukes on the black market ? That's a much faster and surer way, perhaps in an insane temper tantrum, to "wipe Israel off the map."

    Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
    Leo Tolstoy ---

    Some lovely day someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
    Kingston Trio ---
    Also see

    The problem with the rat race is even if you win you're still a rat.
    Lily Tomlin --- 

    When the Children Cry ---
    If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on.

    Imagine ---
    If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on.

    November 24, 2006 message from my friend Paula

    A Possible Solution to the University of Michigan's Latest Affirmative Action Dilemma

    Mary Sue Coleman is president of the University of Michigan, which has already spent millions of taxpayers' dollars defending its racial preferences in courts. She addressed what Tom Bray of the Detroit News called "a howling mob of hundreds of student and faculty protestors" last week. "Diversity matters at Michigan," she declared. "It matters today, and it will matter tomorrow."
    John Fund, "Preferences Forever? The University of Michigan's president does her best George Wallace impersonation," The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2006 ---  

    Jensen Comment
    Rather than spend millions more in taxpayer money fighting the new law (making race-based admission and financial aid preferences illegal) or exposing the University of Michigan to lawsuit risk, President Coleman should engineer the University of Texas System solution to affirmative action in Michigan's higher education system --- that highly effective Ten Percent Rule. Public universities in Texas must give student admission and financial aid priorities to the top ten percent of the graduates of any high school in the State of Texas without regard to race.

    An applicant of any race with a low SAT and high grades from an inner-city or poor rural high school may thereby have priority over a high SAT applicant from a wealthy suburban Texas high school or a high SAT applicant from out of state.. Many educators in Texas praise the results in in both encouraging more integration in housing and high schools as well as the tremendous affirmative action success that cannot really be challenged in court.

    Some educators criticize that many of the best students in the states are punished due to geographic happenstance. That is unavoidable as long as all universities in the state are not perceived as having the same prestige and opportunity. Actually I see nothing wrong with spreading the highest SAT graduating seniors around to all state universities rather than concentrating that talent at the two largest flagship state universities in Texas.

    I'm a vocal supporter of the Ten Percent Rule, although it greatly complicates high school grading where the top ten percent of a high school class must be designated out of perhaps twenty percent of the graduates having straight A grades under current grade inflation practices by teachers and/or easy curriculum choices by devious students.  (The Boston Globe reports We're seeing 30, 40 valedictorians per class). Learning is more than grades but grades have become the focal point for opportunities in life. The President of the University of Texas also expressed concerns that the Ten Percent Rule showed signs of eventually taking all admission discretion away from the leading universities in the system. Pros and cons of this Texas affirmative action initiative were highlighted in a CBS Sixty Minutes video. See "Is The "Top 10" Plan Unfair?" at 

    I've not seen where this affirmative action alternative has been advocated for Michigan --- the state where affirmative action seems to be the most controversial at the moment. To read about other alternatives tried in other states click here.
    I recommend that President Coleman lobby for the Ten Percent Rule in Michigan.


    Grade Inflation from High School to Graduate School

    The Boston Globe reports seeing 30-40 valedictorians per graduating class

    Extra credit for AP courses, parental lobbying and genuine hard work by the most competitive students have combined to shatter any semblance of a Bell curve


    An increasing number of Canada's business schools are literally selling MBAs to generate revenue


    [some] professors who say their colleagues are so afraid of bad student evaluations that they are placating students with A's and B's.


    From Jim Mahar's blog on November 24, 2006 ---


    Grade inflation from HS to Grad school

    Three related stories that are not strictly speaking finance but that should be of interest to most in academia.

    In the first article, which is from the
    Ottawa Citizen, accelerated and executive MBA programs come under attack for their supposed detrimantal impact on learning in favor of revenue.

    MBAs dumbed down for profit:
    "An increasing number of Canada's business schools are literally selling MBAs to generate revenue for their ravenous budgets, according to veteran Concordia University finance professor Alan Hochstein.

    That apparent trend to make master of business administration degrees easier to achieve at a premium cost is leading to 'sub-standard education for enormous fees,' the self-proclaimed whistleblower said yesterday"
    The second article is a widely reported AP article that that centers on High School grade inflation. This high school issue not only makes the admissions process more difficult but it also influences the behavior of the students ("complaining works") and their their grade expectations ("I have always gotten A's and therefore I deserve on here").

    A few look-ins from
    Boston Globe's version:
    "Extra credit for AP courses, parental lobbying and genuine hard work by the most competitive students have combined to shatter any semblance of a Bell curve, one in which 'A's are reserved only for the very best. For example, of the 47,317 applications the University of California, Los Angeles, received for this fall's freshman class, nearly 21,000 had GPAs of 4.0 or above."
    or consider this:
    ""We're seeing 30, 40 valedictorians at a high school because they don't want to create these distinctions between students...."
    "The average high school GPA increased from 2.68 to 2.94 between 1990 and 2000, according to a federal study."
    This is not just a High School problem. In part because of an agency cost problem (professors have incentives to grade leniently even if it is to the detriment of students), the same issues are regular discussions topics at all colleges as well. For instance consider this story from the Denver Post.
    "A proposal to disclose class rank on student transcripts has ignited a debate among University of Colorado professors with starkly different views on whether grade inflation is a problem....

    [some] professors who say their colleagues are so afraid of bad student evaluations that they are placating students with A's and B's.

    The few professors who grade honestly end up with dismal scores on student evaluations, which affect their salaries, professor Paul Levitt said. There is also the "endless parade of malcontents" in their offices."

    I would love to wrap this up with my own solution, but obviously it is a tough problem to which there are no easy solutions. That said, maybe it is time that I personally look back at my past years' class grades to make sure I am not getting too soft. If we all did that, we'd at least make a dent in the problem.


    "Admissions boards face 'grade inflation'," by Justin Pope, Boston Globe, November 18, 2006 --- Click Here

    That means he will have to find other ways to stand out.

    "It's extremely difficult," he said. "I spent all summer writing my essay. We even hired a private tutor to make sure that essay was the best it can be. But even with that, it's like I'm just kind of leveling the playing field." Last year, he even considered transferring out of his highly competitive public school, to some place where his grades would look better.

    Some call the phenomenon that Zalasky's fighting "grade inflation" -- implying the boost is undeserved. Others say students are truly earning their better marks. Regardless, it's a trend that's been building for years and may only be accelerating: Many students are getting very good grades. So many, in fact, it is getting harder and harder for colleges to use grades as a measuring stick for applicants.

    Extra credit for AP courses, parental lobbying and genuine hard work by the most competitive students have combined to shatter any semblance of a Bell curve, one in which 'A's are reserved only for the very best. For example, of the 47,317 applications the University of California, Los Angeles, received for this fall's freshman class, nearly 21,000 had GPAs of 4.0 or above.

    That's also making it harder for the most selective colleges -- who often call grades the single most important factor in admissions -- to join in a growing movement to lessen the influence of standardized tests.

    "We're seeing 30, 40 valedictorians at a high school because they don't want to create these distinctions between students," said Jess Lord, dean of admission and financial aid at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. "If we don't have enough information, there's a chance we'll become more heavily reliant on test scores, and that's a real negative to me."

    Standardized tests have endured a heap of bad publicity lately, with the SAT raising anger about its expanded length and recent scoring problems. A number of schools have stopped requiring tests scores, to much fanfare.

    Continued in article


    "Regents evaluate grade inflation:  Class Ranking Debated," by Jennifer Brown, Denver Post, November 2, 2006 ---


    A proposal to disclose class rank on student transcripts has ignited a debate among University of Colorado professors with starkly different views on whether grade inflation is a problem.

    On one side are faculty who attribute the climbing grade-point averages at CU to the improved qualifications of entering students in the past dozen years.

    And on the other are professors who say their colleagues are so afraid of bad student evaluations that they are placating students with A's and B's.

    One Boulder English professor said departments should eliminate raises for faculty if the GPAs within the department rise above a designated level.

    The few professors who grade honestly end up with dismal scores on student evaluations, which affect their salaries, professor Paul Levitt said. There is also the "endless parade of malcontents" in their offices.

    "You have to be a masochist to proceed in that way," said Levitt, one of 10 professors and business leaders who spoke to CU regents about grade inflation Wednesday.

    CU president Hank Brown suggested in August that the university take on grade inflation by putting class rank or grade-point-average percentiles on student transcripts.

    Changing the transcripts would give potential employers and graduate schools a clearer picture of student achievement, Brown said.

    At the Boulder campus, the average GPA rose from 2.87 in 1993 to 2.99 in 2004.

    Regents are not likely to vote on the issue for a couple of months.

    Regent Tom Lucero wants to go beyond Brown's suggestion and model CU's policy after Princeton University, where administrators instituted a limit on A's two years ago.

    "As long as we do something to address this issue, I'll be happy nonetheless," he said.

    But many professors believe academic rigor is a faculty issue and regents should stay out of it.

    "Top-down initiatives ... will likely breed not higher expectations but a growing sense of cynicism," said a report from the Boulder Faculty Assembly, which opposes Brown's proposals.

    Still, the group wrote that even though grade inflation has been "modest," the issue of academic rigor "deserves serious ongoing scrutiny."

    "More important than the consideration of grades is the quality of education our students receive," said Boulder communication professor Jerry Hauser.

    CU graduates are getting jobs at top firms, landing spots in elite graduate schools and having no trouble passing bar or licensing exams, he said.

    But faculty who believe grade inflation is a serious problem said they welcome regent input.

    Bob Jensen's threads on grade inflation are at the following two sites:




    They're Ignorant of Their Ignorance
    My undergraduate students can’t accurately predict their academic performance or skill levels. Earlier in the semester, a writing assignment on study styles revealed that 14 percent of my undergraduate English composition students considered themselves “overachievers.” Not one of those students was receiving an A in my course by midterm. Fifty percent were receiving a C, another third was receiving B’s and the remainder had earned failing grades by midterm. One student wrote, “overachievers like myself began a long time ago.” She received a 70 percent on her first paper and a low C at midterm
    Shari Wilson, "Ignorant of Their Ignorance," Inside Higher Ed, November 16, 2006 ---
    Jensen comment
    This does not bode well for self assessment.


    Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

    Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.
    George Carlin as quoted by Mark Shapiro at



    "The Infinite Mind" program on Cheating


    Email message on November 15, 2006 from Richard Reams []

    I heard the program Monday night on KSTX, and some of you may find it interesting, especially the first 30 minutes or so that focuses on academic cheating. Here’s the link: 


    Richard Reams, Ph.D.
    Assistant Director
    Counseling Services
    Trinity University
    One Trinity Place
    San Antonio, Texas 78212-7200
    215 Coates University Center 


    In this hour, we explore Cheating. Four out of five high school students say they've cheated. More than half of medical school students say the same thing. Even The New York Times has cribbed from somebody else's paper. Is everybody doing it? Guests include Dr. Howard Gardner, professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-director of a large-scale research study called the GoodWork Project; renowned primate researcher Dr. Frans de Waal, professor of psychology at Emory University; Dr. Helen Fisher, research professor in the department of anthropology at Rutgers University and author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray; and country music group BR5-49, who perform the Hank Williams classic, "Your Cheatin' Heart."

    Host Dr. Fred Goodwin begins with an essay in which he explores some of the reasons why attitudes toward cheating seem to be more permissive than ever. He mentions "moral relativism" in elite education; a media culture that end up making celebrities of high-profile cheaters like Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass; and the construction of elaborate laws and rules to codify and enforce moral behavior, which sends the implicit message, "if it's legal, it's ethical."

    Cheating among students is rampant. Four out of five high school students admit to having cheated at some point. Why is it so common? And why don't more students speak out? To begin today, we hear from Mary Weed Ervin. She is now a freshman at Duke University, but when she was a senior in high school in Virginia, she caught her classmates cheating and did something about it, despite the consequences.

    After catching students in her AP Biology class cheating, she told the teacher. Her classmates treated her as if she were the bad guy. She felt even her friends would not stand up for her, since they continued to hang out with the kids who cheated and others who outright shunned her. She was insulted by some kids and, after one party, she was even worried she might be attacked. As a result, she stopped doing normal senior activities, and she felt very alone. At the end of the year, though, she was awarded "Senior of the Year" by her peers, so she knows a lot of her classmates must have supported what she did, even though they never said so.

    Then the Infinite Mind's Devorah Klahr reports on cheating in schools. Remember when cheating meant looking over your friend's shoulder? Well, not anymore. Today, many students use technology to cheat. In addition to buying term papers off the Internet, they use cell phones, text messaging, and digital computers, sometimes in elaborate schemes to outwit teachers. "I’m just using my technology to my advantage pretty much," says one high school cheater. "They gave me all the tools to do it and I’m just using it to help myself. Because my parents expect me to have good grades."

    To catch these cheaters, teachers are realizing they, too, have to become more tech savvy. Lou Bloomfield, a professor at The University of Virginia, created "copyfind," a computer program to catch cheaters. And many schools use an even larger search engine called, which scans term papers against a large database, ensuring that writing is original and not plagiarized. At the University of Pennsylvania, Michele Goldfarb directs the office of student conduct. She investigates suspicious looking papers. She remembers a term paper that was especially obvious. "The faculty member thought the paper was unusually sophisticated for the student," Goldfarb says, "… use of words like, 'the pock marked landscape' and 'the steep sided hollows.' Undergraduates do not talk that way, do not write that way.”

    Educators seem to agree that teaching integrity is the only way to stop cheating. Nobody's going to win this technology arms race. Elizabeth Kiss is a professor of political science at Duke University and a board member of the Center for Academic Integrity. At the beginning of the semester, she tells her students to look up at the ceiling and think about the trustworthiness of the architect who designed the structure and the builders who built it. "So I get them to think about the ways we depend every day on the honesty of other people. And when people aren't trustworthy, others get hurt."

    Next, Dr. Goodwin interviews the distinguished developmental psychologist and neuropsychologist Dr. Howard Gardner. He's a professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-director of a large-scale research study called the GoodWork Project. Perhaps best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, he's the author of eighteen books and hundreds of articles. Most recently, he co-authored the book Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet. A new book, Making Good: How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work will be out in February, 2004.

    For The GoodWork Project, Dr. Gardner has been interviewing people working in different fields -- science, journalism, and theater -- about good work, which he defines as excellent and ethical. Everyone he spoke to knows the difference between what is ethical and what is not, but the disturbing thing is how many people said they cannot afford to do the right or honest thing if they want to get ahead in their careers. He says there is a tension between the people they want to be and the people they think they need to be to succeed.

    He says that scientists -- geneticists, in particular -- had the easiest time doing good work, since everyone wanted the same thing from them, and there was plenty of money and support for their work. Many said they felt their only limitation was their own abilities. Journalists, on the other hand, were in a very different situation. They felt pulled in many directions -- to work faster, to cut corners, to be more sensational ("if it bleeds, it leads") -- and, as a result, it was difficult to do good work. As an example, Dr. Gardner discusses the Jayson Blair case at The New York Times. Blair was caught fabricating elements in stories, submitting receipts for trips he never took, and, ultimately, plagiarizing. But, even before these things were discovered, he had numerous corrections in his stories. Dr. Gardner says the problem was that he was not chastised, but promoted. He did not have any kind of deep mentoring -- in which someone conveys the larger purpose of the work, explains why it is important not to cut corners, and provides regular support.

    In contemporary society, particularly with the Internet, there are many ways to get around doing your own work. He says being ethical requires a good, old-fashioned conscience -- even though we might be able to get away with cheating, we need to be able to stop ourselves because we knows it's wrong and because we would not want to live in a world where everyone cheated. In such a world, we would not be able to trust anyone or anything.

    To contact Dr. Gardner, please write to: Dr. Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 201 Larsen Hall, 14 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138. Or visit

    To order Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet, click here.

    Believe it or not, cheating - and feeling cheated - is not unique to humans. Even monkeys want to be treated fairly. Dr. Goodwin interviews primate researcher Dr. Frans de Waal, a professor of psychology at Emory University and the author of many books, including The Ape and the Sushi Master and, his latest, My Family Album: Thirty Years of Primate Photography.

    Dr. de Waal discusses two different kinds of cheating found in primates. The first, deception, is generally seen only in the great apes, who are our closest relatives and capable of the highest levels of cognition. He says that in one chimp colony, in which lower ranking males were not allowed to court females, he saw one openly inviting a female to mate (which he does by showing her an erection). At that moment, the alpha male rounded the corner, and the lower-ranking male covered his penis with his hands -- hiding the evidence of his wrongdoing. Dr. de Waal has also seen a chimp try to disguise his nervousness in front of a rival. Chimps show nervosity by baring their teeth, and this chimp used his fingers to press his lips together over his teeth. This kind of behavior requires that the animal be aware of how others perceive him or her. Chimps end up distrusting other chimps who often deceive -- they develop methods for detecting cheaters. All this requires high-level thinking.

    Dr. de Waal then discusses the other kind of cheating -- being shortchanged. He describes a recent study he and a student, Sarah Brosnan, conducted with capuchin monkeys. They set up a bartering system with the monkeys, in which they would give the monkeys pebbles, and then the monkeys would exchange the pebbles for cucumber pieces. Alone, a monkey would do this over and over again, until the cucumber was gone. They then put two monkeys next to each other, and, in exchange for the pebbles, they gave one of them a cucumber slice and the other a grape, which is much better. The monkey getting the cucumber seemed to have a very strong emotional reaction. He threw the pebbles out of the cage, wouldn't accept the cucumber, and basically refused to participate in the experiment. Dr. de Waal says this illustrates that monkeys have a sense of fairness. In cooperative societies (whether monkeys or humans), individuals need to make sure that they are not doing more work than others for the same reward, or the same work for less reward. He says economists have studied this in humans, since the reactions can seem irrational -- for example, a person who was perfectly happy making $40,000 a year may get very upset and quit her job if she realizes a co-worker doing the same job is making $80,000. He believes his work with the monkeys may give us clues to the evolution of the emotions behind this sort of reaction.

    To contact Dr. de Waal, please write to: Dr. Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior, Department of Psychology, 325 Psychology Building, Emory University, 532 N. Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322. Or visit

    To order My Family Album: Thirty Years of Primate Photography, click here.

    Next, we turn our attention to a different kind of cheating -- adultery. In a special performance just for The Infinite Mind, the country music group BR5-49 performs what may be the ultimate anthem for spurned lovers -- Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart."

    To find out more about BR5-49 or order a CD, please visit

    It's hard to get an accurate picture of how common adultery is -- surveys estimate it occurs in anywhere from 15 to 80% of all marriages. Why do so many people do it? And has technology redefined cheating? Dr. Goodwin speaks with Dr. Helen Fisher, a research professor in the department of anthropology at Rutgers University. She's the author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Her new book Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love will be out in early 2004. Dr. Fisher has joined us previously for shows on Romance and Sexual Attraction.

    Dr. Fisher says that she has studied societies all over the world, and, in all of them, people cheat. Because it seems to be so universal, she believes there must have been some kind of evolutionary payoff. Looking back to our ancestors, she guesses that since, in Darwinian terms, children are the way we spread our lineage to future generations, a man who cheated might have doubled the number of his genes getting passed on while a woman who cheated might have either received more resources for her babies or increased the genetic variety of her offspring. While none of this was conscious, of course, it would result in the genes for this kind of behavior being passed on. Dr. Fisher says that monogamy is not a common reproductive strategy in animals -- it only occurs in species where both parents are needed to rear the young. But even among birds, in which most species form pair bonds, there is "cheating." DNA testing shows 10% of birds' offspring are not biologically related to the supposed father.

    Dr. Fisher then discusses what she believes are three different circuits in the brain -- one for the sexual drive, one for romantic love, and one for attachment. She think these developed to serve different functions. The sex drive evolved so that we would go after anything at all; romantic love evolved to focus our mating energy on one person, and therefore be more efficient; and attachment evolved so that we could tolerate the individual we are with, at least long enough to raise one child. These systems often interact (i.e. at the start of a relationship, we generally feel both sexual attraction and romantic love), but they don't always interact, and that's where adultery comes in. We can feel attachment for one person while we feel romantic love for another. This does not mean, however, that we are destined to cheat. Dr. Fisher says the part of the brain that makes us human is the prefrontal cortex -- where we make decisions.

    In response to a caller, Jon, who is involved in a very serious email relationship with a married woman, Dr. Goodwin and Dr. Fisher talk about how technology is allowing people today to be more secretive about their affairs (hence all the services advertising they'll catch your cheating spouse). Another caller, Sheila, says that she thinks that any email relationship (like Jon's) or serious office friendship that takes time and energy away from a spouse is cheating. She asks what the costs are to a marriage, even with this kind of cheating, which is not sexual. Dr. Fisher says the costs are enormous -- instead of building a relationship, you're undermining it. Ultimately, all three people will get hurt. And although a spouse who is cheated on may get over the betrayal, he or she will never forget it. She concludes by saying she thinks forming an attachment to another person is the most ornate and worthwhile single thing that the human animal can do.

    To contact Dr. Fisher, please write to: Dr. Helen Fisher, Department of Anthropology, Ruth Adams Building, 131 George Street, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1414. Or visit

    To order Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, click here.

    Finally, commentator John Hockenberry wonders, just what defines cheating these days? He says, "In the landscape of American culture, you can find cheating all over the map. Cheating is that place between triumph and immorality, between out of the box thinking and exploitation of the unsuspecting. The cheat-free similarly inhabit a murky place between naïve stupidity and sainthood."

    Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at


    And educators are blaming everybody except for the cheaters doing the cheating


    "Malaise," by Peter Berger, The Irascible Professor, November 25, 2006 ---

    Thirty-seven summers ago Jimmy Carter spoke to the nation about our "crisis of spirit." His address became known as his "malaise" speech, even though he never actually used that word. Webster defines malaise as an "indefinite lack of health" or "vague sense of mental or moral ill-being." In order to grapple with problems like the energy crisis and unemployment, President Carter called on us to examine our outlook and our priorities.

    Public schools have been staggering through their own crisis for more than a generation. Part of the blame rests directly on culprits we can see at school: bankrupt education theories and assorted follies like self-esteem, whole language, and enfeebled classroom discipline. The roots of the problem also extend to our homes and civic institutions and appear as children from single-parent families, drug use, and crime.

    These are all issues we should address, but we're also suffering from an underlying malaise of unsound priorities and entitlement that's less visible but just as destructive to American education. Here are a few symptoms of our ill-being.

    There's nothing new about classroom troublemakers. They've been disrupting other people’s education since before chalk was invented, but today we don't call them troublemakers. Instead, we obfuscate and invent syndromes for what they do. We say they're "behaviorally challenged." We turn their conduct into ailments like "oppositional defiance disorder." According to the psychologist who coined this syndrome, when kids with ODD have tantrums and refuse to do what they're told, they aren't "using coercion or manipulation to get what they want." They're just the victims of their own "inflexibility" and "poor frustration tolerance."

    ODD isn't alone in the pantheon of euphemistic, exculpatory conditions. Horn-blasting, tailgating, and obscene gestures are no longer just unsafe, obnoxious driving. They’re not even "road rage" anymore. They're evidence of "intermittent explosive disorder." Remember that the next time some driver cuts you off and treats you to a one-fingered salute.

    IED also causes "temper outbursts," "throwing or breaking objects and even spousal abuse," although "not everyone who does those things is afflicted." How do you tell the difference? Apparently, IED outbursts are characterized by "threats or aggressive actions and property damage" that are "way out of proportion to the situation," as opposed presumably to threats, aggressive actions, and property damage that aren't way out of proportion to the situation.

    According to researchers, a recently administered questionnaire determined that IED afflicts sixteen million Americans. Fortunately for the rest of us who have to endure IED tantrums and assaults, they aren't "bad behavior." They're "biology."

    Critics frequently charge that too many high school graduates aren't prepared for college. The new bad news is that too many college graduates aren't prepared for life. Universities are responding with "life after college" programs. These "transition courses" in what officials term "real life" skills teach college students everything from "managing their credit cards" and "paying taxes" to "making a plate of pasta" and "choosing a bottle of Chardonnay."

    We're not talking about second-rate institutions. Alfred University's cooking program includes lessons in "boiling water." Across the continent Caltech awards three credits for its kitchen survival course. Sympathetic experts explain that today's college seniors "lack practical skills because they spent their teens more preoccupied than previous generations with racking up the grades, SAT scores, and activities needed to get into top colleges."

    That’s ridiculous. My 1960s high school peers and I lived and died by our permanent records. Claiming that college admissions suddenly became competitive is like arguing that today's youth need extra self-esteem because they live under a nuclear threat, a popular rationalization that conveniently ignores the fact that little kids like me spent the 1950s hiding under our desks.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, "preparing meals" ranks high among parents' and students' "major concerns." This begs two questions: Why aren't the concerned parents teaching these skills, and is learning how to boil water and pay your bills really what universities are for?

    While they may be lost in the kitchen, students are proving themselves adept in other endeavors. Aided by cell phones and the Internet, cheating is on the rise at public schools and colleges. In a Rutgers survey, ninety-seven percent of students polled admitted to cheating in high school. Even allowing for the notorious inaccuracy of student polls, the figure is alarming.

    Still more alarming, cheating has its champions among education reformers. One enlightened Northwestern University professor blames schools when students copy answers, purchase term papers, and steal exams. He's outraged that students can't copy each other's work during tests. He endorses plagiarism and objects when a student "receives no credit" for a paper just because it "was written by somebody else." "No wonder", he fumes, that students "feel compelled to lie" and put their own names on work they've "found."

    He encourages "honest copying" where students get credit for copying other people's work as long as they put the real author's name on it. The professor maintains that allowing this species of larceny would "reinforce the correct behaviors." Instead of being "punished," the copier should be "rewarded" for "knowing where to seek the information." In short, we need to "recognize cheating for the good that it brings."

    He's not the only advocate of cheating out there. The Educational Testing Service's "teaching and learning" vice president puts the blame for cheating on tests squarely on the tests themselves and the schools that give them. She holds that it’s "small wonder" that students "attempt to affect the outcomes" by cheating. She argues that until we allow kids to "assist each other" during tests, we're "inviting a culture of cheating."

    Let's review. Psychologists are declaring obnoxious, antisocial behavior a disease. Colleges are teaching adults to boil water. And educators are blaming everybody but the cheaters for cheating.

    Sounds like a malaise to me.

    Peter Berger

    Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

    From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on November 17, 2006

    TITLE: Colleges, Accreditors Seek Better Ways to Measure Learning
    REPORTER: Daniel Golden
    DATE: Nov 13, 2006 PAGE: B1
    TOPICS: Accounting

    SUMMARY: The article discusses college- or university-wide accreditation by regional accreditation bodies and reaction to the Spellings Commission report. Questions extend the accreditation discussion to AACSB accreditation.

    1.) What is accreditation? The article describes university-wide accreditation by regional accrediting bodies. Why is this step necessary?

    2.) Does your business school have accreditation by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)? How does this accreditation differ from university-wide accreditation?

    3.) Why are regional accrediting agencies planning to meet with Secretary Spellings?

    4.) Did you consider accreditation in deciding where to go to college or university? Why or why not?

    5.) Do you think improvements in assessing student learning are important, as the Spellings Commission argues and accreditors are now touting? Support your answer.

    SMALL GROUP ASSIGNMENT: Find out about your college or university's accreditation. When was the last accreditation review? Were there any concerns expressed by the accreditors? How has the university responded to any concerns expressed?

    Once these data are gathered, discuss in class in groups:

    Has this information been easy or difficult to find? Do you agree with the assessment of concerns about the institution and/or the university's responses?

    Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

    TITLE: Colleges, Accreditors Seek Better Ways to Measure Learning
    REPORTER: Daniel Golden
    DATE: Nov 13, 2006 PAGE: B1

    At the University of the South, a highly regarded liberal-arts college in Sewanee, Tenn., the dozen professors who teach the required freshman Shakespeare course design their classes differently, assigning their favorite plays and writing and grading their own exams.

    But starting next fall, one question on the final exam will be the same across all of the classes, and instructors won't grade their own students' answers to that question. Instead, to assure more objective evaluation, the professors will trade exams and grade each other's students.

    The English department adopted this change -- despite faculty grumbling about losing some classroom independence -- under pressure from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The association, one of the six regional groups that accredit nearly 3,000 U.S. colleges, told the University of the South that, to have its accreditation renewed, it would have to do a better job of measuring student learning. Without such accreditation, the school's students wouldn't qualify for federal financial aid.

    The shift "does cut into the individual faculty member's autonomy, and that's disturbing," says Jennifer Michael, an associate professor. "On the other hand, it's making us think about how do we figure out what students are actually learning. Maybe having them take and pass a course doesn't mean they've learned everything we think they have."

    Regional accreditors used to limit their examinations to colleges' financial solvency and educational resources, with the result that well-established schools enjoyed rubber-stamp approval. But now they are increasingly holding colleges, prestigious or not, responsible for undergraduates' grasp of such skills as writing and critical thinking. And prodded by regional accreditors, colleges are adopting various means of assessing learning in addition to classroom grades, from electronic portfolios that collect a student's work from different courses to standardized testing and special projects for graduating seniors.

    The accreditors aren't moving fast enough for the Bush administration, though. In the wake of a federally sponsored study published in 2005 that showed declining literacy among college-educated Americans, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and a commission she appointed on the future of higher education want colleges to be more accountable for -- and candid about -- student performance, and they have criticized accreditors as barriers to reform.

    Congress sets the standards for accreditors, and the Education Department periodically reviews compliance with those standards. Congress identified "success with respect to student achievement" as a requirement for accreditation in 1992, and then in 1998 made it the top priority. That imperative, along with the advent of online education, has spurred accreditors to rethink their longtime emphasis on such criteria as the number of faculty members with doctorates. Since 2000, several regional accreditors have revamped their rules to emphasize student learning.

    "Accreditors have moved the ball forward," says Kati Haycock, a member of the Spellings commission and the director of the nonprofit Education Trust in Washington, D.C., which seeks better schooling for disadvantaged students. "Not far enough, not fast enough, but they have moved the ball forward."

    An issue paper written for the commission by Robert Dickeson, a former president of the University of Northern Colorado, complained that accreditation "currently settles for meeting minimum standards," and it called for replacing regional accreditors with a new national foundation. "Technology has rendered the quaint jurisdictional approach to accreditation obsolete," Mr. Dickeson wrote.

    The commission didn't endorse that recommendation, but its final report last month cited "significant shortcomings" in accreditation and called for "transformation" of the process. In a Sept. 22 speech marking the release of the report, Secretary Spellings said that accreditors are "largely focused on inputs, more on how many books are in a college library than whether students can actually understand them....That must change."

    David Ward, a commission member and the president of the American Council on Education, a higher education advocacy group, declined to sign the report, in part because he objected to its criticism of accreditors as overly simplistic.

    Russell Edgerton, president emeritus of the American Association for Higher Education, says "there's no question that American colleges are underachieving," but he argues that accreditors are rising to the challenge. "Ten years ago, I would have said that regional accreditors are dead in the water and asleep at the wheel," he says. But "there's been a kind of renaissance within accreditation agencies in the past five to six years. They're helping institutions create a culture of evidence about student learning."

    Mr. Edgerton also thinks the federal government's emphasis on new accountability measures is flawed because it bypasses the judgment of traditional arbiters like faculty and accreditors. "The danger is that the standardized testing approach in K-12 would slop over into higher education," he says. "Higher ed is different."

    Jerome Walker, associate provost and accreditation liaison officer for the University of Southern California, agrees that the administration's attacks on accreditors are unfair. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which accredits USC, "has been extremely sensitive" to student learning, he says.

    According to the Western Association's executive director, Ralph Wolff, the group revamped its standards in 2001 to require colleges to identify preparation needed by entering freshmen and the expectations for student progress in critical thinking, quantitative reasoning and other skills. Its accreditation process now takes four years, up from 1½, and it features a detailed, peer-reviewed proposal for improvement and two site visits, including one devoted to "educational effectiveness."

    Historically, research universities like USC "used to blow off" accreditation, Mr. Wolff says. "Now this has become a real challenge for them in a good way."

    Encouraged by Mr. Wolff, USC last year assigned the same two essay questions -- one about conformity, another based on a quotation from ethicist Robert Bellah -- to freshmen in a beginning writing course and juniors and seniors in an advanced course. A group of faculty then evaluated the essays without knowing the students' names or which course they were taking. The reassuring outcome, according to Richard Fliegel, assistant dean for academic programs, was that juniors and seniors "demonstrated significantly more critical thinking skills" than freshmen, and that advanced students who had taken the first-year course outperformed transfer students who hadn't taken beginning writing at USC.

    Because the writing initiative is tailored to USC's curriculum, the results -- while helpful to administrators and accreditors -- wouldn't necessarily help the public compare USC to other schools. That is a big drawback as far as the Bush administration is concerned. "I have two kids in college now," says Vickie Schray, deputy director of the Spellings commission. "It's a huge expense. Yet there's very little information on return of investment or ability to shop around for the greatest value."

    She adds, though, that it is a "misconception" to think that the administration wants to have "one standardized test for all institutions" or to extend the testing requirements of the "No Child Left Behind" law for K-12 schools to higher education.

    Even so, one standardized test of critical thinking, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, is becoming popular. It adjusts for students' scores on the SAT and ACT college-entrance exams, potentially allowing more meaningful comparisons of the value added by colleges. The number of schools using the assessment has soared from 54 two years ago to 170 this year. Among those using the test this fall: the University of Texas at Austin, Duke University, Arizona State University and Washington and Lee University.

    Roger Benjamin, president of the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education, which sponsors the test, says state officials and university administrators have been the principal forces behind its increasing use. "Accreditors are coming to the party, but a bit late," Mr. Benjamin says.

    Meanwhile, Secretary Spellings plans to meet with accreditors in late November to discuss how to "accelerate the focus on student achievement," Ms. Schray says. Accreditors say they welcome the opportunity to tout their progress. "We have made a lot of reforms," says the Western Association's Mr. Wolff. "We'd like to bring the secretary up-to-date on the significance of these reforms and the impact they're already having on institutions."


    Colleges, Accreditors Seek Better Ways to Measure Learning
    Assessment/Learning Issues: Measurement and the No-Significant Differences ---


    Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at


    Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at


    The NFL's Highest Paid Quarterback Finds His Most Reliable Use for Both Hands
    Michael Vick apologized for making an obscene gesture toward Atlanta fans as he walked off the field after the Falcons' fourth straight loss Sunday. Vick used both hands to deliver the gesture and flashed an angry look toward the handful of fans remaining in the Georgia Dome.

    Paul Newberry, The Herald Tribune, November 26, 2006 --- Click Here 



    Next time this store clerk most certainly won't forget to go to confession
    The Rev. Joseph Tu Tran, 51, from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Pointe-aux-Chenes, was "highly intoxicated" when he went into Roland’s Mini-Mart in Bourg around 8 p.m. carrying a 12-gauge shotgun and later threatened a store clerk with a .270-caliber rifle,
    "Karina Donica, "Houma-area priest charged with assaulting officer, firing weapon," WWLTV New Orleans, November 26, 2006  ---


    Grants Available from the FASB:  YOU MUST ACT SOON
    November 21, 2006 from Neal Hannon at the FASB --- Neal Hannon []

    The Financial Accounting Foundation and XBRL US, Inc. are looking for a few SEC notes and disclosures experts for a short-term assignment. The primary need is to build a data model for the XBRL tagging of notes to financial statements. Subject matter experts need to research authoritative literature, research current reporting practice, and assemble the results into a data model that can be coded with XBRL. Focusing on SEC filings, our team has identified over 175 notes and is in the process of assembling accounting subject matter experts. The work is fully funded at corporate rates. It may be possible that some assignments can be completed during the Christmas break. Training in XBRL for subject matter experts is scheduled for Dec 13-15 at the FDIC training center in the Washington, DC area. If you are interested, please forward your resume to 

    Thanks, Bob and I wish both of you all the best.


    PC World's Digital Duo Videos (Tech Advice) ---

    "The Single Worst Thing About MS Office 2007," by Jim C, PC World, November 20, 2006 --- 

    I've said here that I'm a fan of Microsoft Office 2007. After using it even more, for most of my daily work, I still am. But one major downside merits mention: It's kind of an unfinished product.

    What I mean by that is that the suite's new interface, which is by far the major reason to consider upgrading, has only been implemented in some of the applications. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access have it throughout; Outlook has it for the tools relating to composing e-mails, tasks, and contacts.

    But everything else in Office 2007 has the old, traditional, menu-oriented interface--the one which Microsoft says its own research shows users think pales in comparison to the new one. Here, for instance, is a bit of Word 2007's tabbed, visual look:

    Jensen Comment
    So what's new? Every Microsoft product is an unfinished product!

    Since when does lack of interest count when setting curriculum requirements?
    The University of Reading, in Britain, announced Monday that it would go ahead with plans to close its physics department, The Guardian reported. The university has cited a lack of fund and declining student interest, but the decision has been widely criticized by scientists throughout Britain, who see it as a sign of potential erosion of the country’s science capacity.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 22, 2006

    New Gizmos for Spying On Your Spouse or Your Kids or Your Employees
    One evening two months after I installed the CarChip, I suggested to my wife that we light some candles, put on some soft music, gather at my computer, and review her driving record. Although the CarChip records only how fast the car is moving, the patterns in my wife's daily routine made it easy for us to figure out where it had been traveling at which points on the graph. When the car starts at 8:50 a.m., drives three miles, and stops at 9:15 a.m., that's a pretty good indication that my wife has just taken our twins to school--and gotten there 15 minutes late. She does this with staggering regularity.
    Simpson Garfinkel, "Spying On My Wife:  Surveillance gizmos are a part of my life. What do they reveal?"MIT's Technology Review, November 14, 2006 ---

    BOZO + PhD = GOD
    Chris Thyberg


    New Study of Doctorate Recipients in the United States


    "Science Ph.D.’s Continue to Grow," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, November 20, 2006 ---


  • It is unlikely to quiet the burgeoning cries of alarm about a perceived crisis in American scientific competitiveness. But a new report from the National Science Foundation offers some evidence both of progress and of continued problems.

    The report finds that the number of science and engineering Ph.D.’s awarded by American universities in 2005 reached an all-time high of 27,974, surpassing the previous record of 27,273 from 1998. Also peaking in 2005 were the number of doctorates granted to women, to Asian Americans and to members of underrepresented minority groups, and the number awarded in several of the so-called “STEM” fields.

    But the sharpest growth of all occurred among non-U.S. citizens, who earned 13.4 percent more doctorates from American universities in 2005 than they had the year before, and who have seen their share of all doctorates grow since 2001. In 2005, foreign-born researchers earned 41 percent of the science and engineering Ph.D.’s awarded by American universities, up from 36 percent in 2001 and 39 percent in 2004, as seen in the table below:

    Science and Engineering Doctorates Awarded by U.S. Universities, 2001-5

      2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 % of 2005 total
    Total 25,496 24,582 25,274 26,272 27,974 100.00%
    Male 16,166 15,369 15,757 16,415 17,405 62.2
    Female 9,286 9,163 9,517 9,856 10,533 37.7
    U.S. citizens 15,049 14,341 14,635 14,741 14,912 53.3
    -White 12,225 11,486 11,612 11,630 11,848 66.1
    -Asian 1,053 1,035 1,008 1,066 1,114 4.0
    Amer. Indian
    1,282 1,354 1,346 1,393 1,428 5.1
    Non-U.S. citizens 9,213 8,861 9,480 10,154 11,516 41.2

    (Note: Those whose gender, ethnicity or citizenship are unknown are excluded from subtotals.)

    The report released by the National Science Foundation Friday contains summary data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates that is produced each year by six federal agencies: the NSF, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    A broader report, the annual Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: Summary Report 2005, was also made available this weekend.

    Numerous fields saw more Ph.D.’s awarded in 2005 than in any other previous year, including engineering, the biological sciences, mathematics and computer sciences. The increase in engineering Ph.D.’s was spread across most of the major subdisciplines, with the biggest gains occurring in electrical engineering (to 1,852 from 1,650), chemical (to 875 from 725), civil (to 757 from 673) and mechanical (to 978 from 852).

    The number of doctorates awarded in non-science fields actually declined in 2005, the report finds, falling to 15,380 from 15,845 in 2004. Most of that drop occurred in education, with a slight uptick in health fields, as seen in the table below:

    Doctorates Awarded by Discipline, Selected Years, 1996-2005

    Field 1996 1999 2002 2005
    All 42,437 41,092 39,953 43,354
    and engineering
    27,240 25,931 24,582 27,974
    Science 20,931 20,601 19,505 21,570
    -Agriculture sciences 1,118 1,065 1,009 1,038
    5,724 5,581 5,690 5,939
    -Computer sciences 920 856 807 948
    -Earth/ocean sciences 724 723 689 713
    -Mathematics 1,122 1,083 919 1,203
    -Physical sciences 3,826 3,562 3,185 3,647
    —-Astronomy 192 159 141 186
    —-Chemistry 2,149 2,132 1,921 2,127
    —-Physics 1,485 1,271 1,123 1,334
    -Psychology 3,494 3,668 3,197 3,327
    -Social sciences 4,003 4,063 4,009 4,138
    -Engineering 6,309 5,330 5,077 6,404
    Non-science and engineering 15,197 15,161 15,371 15,380
    -Education 6,785 6,546 6,491 6,229
    -Health 1,324 1,407 1,653 1,777
    -Humanities 4,711 5,035 5,029 4,947
    -Professional/other 2,377 2,173 2,198 2,427

    Although women are continuing to make up an increasing proportion of all doctoral degrees awarded, the distribution is uneven, as the table below shows:

    Proportion of Ph.D’s Earned by Women in Selected Fields, 1996-2005

    Field 1996 2005
    All Fields 40.0 45.1
    Science/engineering 31.7 37.7
    -Agricultural sciences 27.2 36.2
    -Biological sciences 42.2 48.8
    -Computer sciences 15.1 19.8
    -Mathematics 20.6 27.1
    -Chemistry 28.2 34.0
    -Physics 13.0 15.0
    -Psychology 66.7 68.0
    -Social sciences 36.5 44.7
    -Engineering 12.3 18.3
    —-Chemical engineering 17.9 24.0
    —-Electrical engineering 9.7 13.4
    -Education 61.7 66.7
    -Humanities 49.7 50.2

    A total of 416 institutions in the United States and Puerto Rico awarded at least one of the 43,354 doctorates in 2005. But the top 10 percent of institutions awarded nearly half of all Ph.D.’s. The top 20 universities in doctorates awarded are:

    1. U. of California at Berkeley 802
    2. U. of Texas at Austin 716
    3. U. of Michigan 711
    4. U. of Wisconsin at Madison 664
    5. U. of California at Los Angeles 651
    6. U. of Minnesota 644
    7. Stanford U. 642
    8. U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 637
    9. Pennsylvania State U. 606
    10. Ohio State U. 591
    11. Massachusetts Inst of Technology 581
    12. U. of Florida 574
    13. U. of Southern California 554
    14. Purdue U. 522
    15. Texas A&M U. 511
    16. U. of Washington 511
    17. Harvard U. 510
    18. U. of Maryland 499
    19. Michigan State U. 475
    20. Columbia U. 472



    Jensen Comment

    The following is an excerpt from Page 53 of the full report at



    Business & Management Doctorate Recipients
    1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005

      Count  Percent

     Count  Percent  Count  Percent  Count  Percent  Count  Percent  Count  Percent  Count  Percent
          787        2.4     640        2.1     789        2.5    1036        2.9    1330        3.2    1065        2.6    1168        2.7



    The report does not break out Business doctoral recipients by discipline, although the Plumlee et al. (2006) American Accounting Association Doctoral Shortage Study Committee documents severe declines in the last decade in the number of accounting doctoral recipients. In a study of the critical shortage of doctoral students in accountancy, Plumlee et al. (2006) discovered that there were only 29 doctoral students in auditing and 23 in tax out of the 2004 total of 391 accounting doctoral students enrolled in years 1-5 in the United States.  ---



    "YouTube and the Cultural Studies Classroom," by Christopher Conway, Inside Higher Ed, November 13, 2006 ---

    On December 17, 2005, “Saturday Night Live” ran a skit by Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg called “Lazy Sunday,” a rap video about going out on a “lazy Sunday” to see The Chronicles of Narnia and procuring some cupcakes with “bomb frostings” from the Magnolia Bakery in New York City. The rap touches on the logistics of getting to the theater on the Upper West Side: “Let’s hit up Yahoo Maps to find the dopest route./ I prefer Mapquest!/ That’s a good one too./ Google Maps is the best!/ True that! Double true!/ 68th and Broadway./ Step on it, sucka!”

    Parnell and Samberg make it to the Magnolia for their cupcakes, go to a deli for more treats, and hide their junk food in a backpack for smuggling past movie security. They complain about the high movie prices at the box office ("You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we’re dropping Hamiltons") and brag about participating in the pre-movie trivia quiz. Doesn’t seem like much if you’ve never seen it, but for pure joie de vivre, and white suburban dorkiness, “Lazy Sunday” just can’t be beat. What makes “Lazy Sunday” special, however, is how its original airing coincided with the birth of Internet video-sharing, enabling the two minute clip to be viewed millions of times on YouTube, a free service that hosts videos posted by users. In fact, the popularity of the clip on YouTube was so great that NBC forced the site to remove it several months later, citing copyright infringement. The prospect of its programming being net-jacked by Internet geeks and magnified through YouTube’s powerful interface was just too much for NBC.

    I bring up “Lazy Sunday” to foreground my discussion of the pedagogical uses of YouTube because it sums up its spirit and helps us define the genre of video with which YouTube is most associated. Although YouTube is awash in clips from television and film, the sui generis YouTube video is the product of collaborative “lazy Sunday” moments when pals film each other or perform for the camera doing inane things like dancing, lip synching or making bottles of Diet Coke become volcanic after dropping Mentos candies in them.

    Parnell and Samberg’s references to Internet tools and movie trivia, as well as their parody of rap, perfectly capture a zeitgeist in which all pleasures can be recreated, reinvented and repeated ad nauseam through the magic of the Web. As Sam Anderson describes it in Slate, YouTube is “an incoherent, totally chaotic accretion of amateurism — pure webcam footage of the collective unconscious.” Whatever you’re looking for (except porn) can be found in this Borgesian hall of mirrors: videos of puppies, UFO footage, ghosts on film, musical memento mori about recently deceased celebrities, movie and documentary clips, real and faux video diaries, virtuoso guitar picking performances and all kinds of amateur films. In my case, the video that sold me on YouTube was “Where the Hell is Matt Harding Dancing Now?” — a strangely uplifting video of a guy called Matt Harding who traveled around the world and danced in front of landmarks such as Macchu Picchu in Peru, Area 51 in the U.S., the head-shaped monoliths of Easter Island, and the Great Wall of China, among many others.

    OK, that’s all nice, but what can YouTube do for professors, apart from giving them something to look at during their lunch breaks? Inside Higher Ed has reported on the ways in which YouTube is causing consternation among academics because it is being used by students to stage moments of guerilla theater in the classroom, record lectures without permission and ridicule their professors. Indeed, a search on YouTube for videos of professors can bring up disquieting clips of faculty behaving strangely in front of their students, like the professor who coolly walks over to a student who answers a ringing cell phone in class, politely asks for the device, and then violently smashes it on the floor before continuing on with his lecture as if nothing had happened. It could be staged (authenticity is more often than not a fiction on YouTube) but it is still disturbing.

    But I would like to argue for an altogether different take on YouTube, one centered on the ways in which this medium can enrich the learning experience of college students by providing video realia to accompany their textbooks, in-class documentaries and course lectures. Although I can’t speak to the applicability of YouTube to every discipline, in what follows I make a case for how the service can be harnessed by professors in the humanities and social sciences.

    As a professor Latin American literature and culture, I often teach an introductory, third year course called Latin American Culture and Civilization in which students study history, literature and any other media that the instructor wishes to include in the course, such as music, film, comics and the visual arts. My version of the course emphasizes student engagement with foundational documents and writings that span all periods of Latin American history and that I have annotated for student use. One of the figures we study is President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, whose outsized political persona has made him a YouTube star. Apart from having my students watch an excerpt of his “Bush as sulfurous devil” speech at the United Nations, I assigned a series of animated cartoons prepared by the Venezuelan state to educate children about the Bolivarian constitution championed by Chávez. These cartoons allow students see the ways in which the legacy of the 19th-century Venezuelan Liberator, Simon Bolívar, remains alive today.

    The textual richness of these cartoons invites students to visually experience Bolivarian nationalism in a way that cannot be otherwise recreated in the classroom. It invites them to think critically about the ways in which icons such as Bolívar are creatively utilized to instill patriotism in children. In a similar vein, a Cuban cartoon about Cuba’s founding father, José Martí, depicts how a child is transformed into the future champion of independence and social justice when he witnesses the horrors of slavery (this video has now been removed from YouTube). With regard to the Mexican Revolution, one of the most important units of the class, YouTube offers some fascinating period film of the revolutionary icons Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, and especially their deaths. Although I cannot say that these are visual texts that lend themselves to the kind of rich dialogue provoked by the aforementioned cartoons, they are nonetheless an engaging visual complement to readings, discussions and lectures.

    Another course in which YouTube has played a part in is my senior-level literature course on the Chilean Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. It may seem farfetched to use Internet video in a poetry class, but in this case, YouTube offers several useful media clips. I have utilized film clips in which Neruda’s poetry appears (such as Patch Adams and Truly, Madly, Deeply), as well as music videos of Latin American singers who use lyrics by Neruda. More than anything that I could say in class, these videos illustrate the reach and enduring quality of Neruda’s poetry in Latin American and North American culture. This said, there are a surprising number of student-produced videos about Neruda on YouTube that are cringe-worthy, the “Lazy Sunday” versions of the poet and his poetry. These are quite fascinating in of themselves as instances in which young people use video to interpret and stage Neruda, in ways that might be set into dialogue with more literary and canonical constructions of his legacy, but I confess that I am not yet convinced of their pedagogical value.

    Continued in article



    November 14, 2006 message from Bill Lucey


    Professor Jensen,

    Do you have any recommendations on how to find the top 10 imports/exports?

    Thank You

    Bill Lucey
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel

    November 15, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen


    The best place to look for actual products and dollar amounts is the CIA --- 

    Who makes the goods we buy --- 

    Who buys the goods we make --- 

    Bob Jensen

    Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics are at




    What might become the first for-profit university in the United Kingdom? Perhaps that should be termed "legitimate" university since the U.K. has a number of unsavory diploma mills.


    Kaplan International is preparing to seek permission to become Britain’s first for-profit university, The Financial Times reported, which indicated that some British university administrators are not happy about the development.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 21, 2006 ---


    The Kaplan International home page is at



    Use Your Frequent Flier Account; Inactive Programs Can be Cancelled
    The incentive to redeem frequent flier miles – that free ticket – is not as appealing for travelers as it once was, because of blackout dates, limits on eligible seats, especially for popular destinations, and the lower fares on discount carriers, but not visiting your frequent flier accounts can have a price. Two carriers, Delta and US Airways, recently imposed new rules on inactive accounts. Starting January 31, 2007, US Airways Dividend Miles accounts will be closed and all miles forfeited if there has been no activity in the account for 18 months. Delta Airlines will close their SkyMiles accounts after two years, retroactive from December 31, 2006, the New York Times reports.
    "Use Your Frequent Flier Account; Inactive Programs Can be Cancelled," AccountingWeb, November 21, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    That is provided you can use them. Due to the seat limitations (usually seven seats maximum on any flight), I generally find it increasingly impossible to redeem these useless things (although I did have quite a few free flights to Europe years ago). On multiple leg flights, it is common to have just one of the flights block the redemption of frequent flier points. These programs are really deceptive in the past few years.



    "Tips for Holiday Travel in the Air, on the Road or by Rail," AccountingWeb, November 21, 2006 ---


    Bob Jensen's travel helpers are at


    In Iran:  Separate and Unequal in Either Case


    Religious leaders in Iran have started a campaign to end all university programs that educate men and women together, The Guardian reported. The push follows the release of statistics showing dramatic gains for women at Iranian universities, where they now outnumber men in key programs. The Guardian quoted a cleric as saying that universities were turning into “fashion shows.”
    Inside Higher Ed, November 21, 2006 ---



    Over half the first-year students don't return the second year
    A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California criticizes the state’s community colleges for having low graduation and transfer rates. Half of all students in the mammoth system — the largest in American higher education — don’t return for a second year, the report found. The transfer rate for Asian students was double the rate for students from other minority groups.
    Inside Higher Ed, November 17, 2006 ---


    Graduation rates at four-year colleges and universities are heavily influenced by the socioeconomic background of students, with rates dropping as the proportion of low-income students enrolled increases, according to a report released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. Women graduate at higher rates than do men, the study found.
    Inside Higher Ed
    , November 17, 2006 ---


    Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at


    Web Sites Not Liable for Posts by Others
    Web sites that publish inflammatory information written by other parties cannot be sued for libel, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling in favor of free online expression was a victory for a San Diego woman who was sued by two doctors for posting an allegedly libelous e-mail on two Web sites. Some of the Internet's biggest names, including, America Online Inc., eBay Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., took the defendant's side out of concern that a ruling against her would expose them to liability. In reversing an appellate court's decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides broad immunity from defamation lawsuits for people who publish information on the Internet that was gathered from another source.
    "Web Sites Not Liable for Posts by Others," PhysOrg, November 21, 2006 ---


    Online Tutorials for Learning About Statistics and Research
    Against All Odds: Inside Statistics ---


    1. What Is Statistics?
    Using historical anecdotes and contemporary applications, this introduction to the series explores the vital links between statistics and our everyday world. The program also covers the evolution of the discipline.

    VOD2. Picturing Distributions
    With this program, students will see how key characteristics in the distribution of a histogram — shape, center, and spread — help professionals make decisions in such diverse fields as meteorology, television programming, health care, and air traffic control. Through a discussion of the advantages of back-to-back stem plots, this program also emphasizes the importance of seeking explanations for gaps and outliers in small data sets.

    VOD3. Describing Distributions
    This program examines the difference between mean and median, explains the use of quartiles to describe a distribution, and looks to the use of boxplots and the five-number summary for comparing and describing data. An illustrative example shows how a city government used statistical methods to correct inequity between men’s and women’s salaries.

    VOD4. Normal Distributions
    Students will advance from histograms through smooth curves to normal curves, and finally to a single normal curve for standardized measurement, as this program shows ways to describe the shape of a distribution using progressively simpler methods. In a lesson on creating a density curve, students also learn why, under steadily decreasing deviation, today’s baseball players are less likely to achieve a .400 batting average.

    VOD5. Normal Calculations
    With this program, students will discover how to convert the standard normal and use the standard deviation; how to use a table of areas to compute relative frequencies; how to find any percentile; and how a computer creates a normal quartile plot to determine whether a distribution is normal. Vehicle emissions standards and medical studies of cholesterol provide real-life examples.

    VOD6. Time Series
    Statistics can reveal patterns over time. Using the concept of seasonal variation, this program shows ways to present smooth data and recognize whether a particular pattern is meaningful. Stock market trends and sleep cycles are used to explore the topics of deriving a time series and using the 68-95-99.7 rule to determine the control limits.

    VOD7. Models for Growth
    Topics of this program include linear growth, least squares, exponential growth, and straightening an exponential growth curve by logic. A study of growth problems in children serves to illustrate the use of the logarithm function to transform an exponential pattern into a line. The program also discusses growth in world oil production over time.

    VOD8. Describing Relationships
    Segments describe how to use a scatterplot to display relationships between variables. Patterns in variables (positive, negative, and linear association) and the importance of outliers are discussed. The program also calculates the least squares regression line of metabolic rate y on lean body mass x for a group of subjects and examines the fit of the regression line by plotting residuals.

    VOD9. Correlation
    With this program, students will learn to derive and interpret the correlation coefficient using the relationship between a baseball player’s salary and his home run statistics. Then they will discover how to use the square of the correlation coefficient to measure the strength and direction of a relationship between two variables. A study comparing identical twins raised together and apart illustrates the concept of correlation.

    VOD10. Multidimensional Data Analysis
    This program reviews the presentation of data analysis through an examination of computer graphics for statistical analysis at Bell Communications Research. Students will see how the computer can graph multivariate data and its various ways of presenting it. The program concludes with an example of a study that analyzes data on many variables to get a picture of environmental stresses in the Chesapeake Bay.

    VOD11. The Question of Causation
    Causation is only one of many possible explanations for an observed association. This program defines the concepts of common response and confounding, explains the use of two-way tables of percents to calculate marginal distribution, uses a segmented bar to show how to visually compare sets of conditional distributions, and presents a case of Simpson’s Paradox. The relationship between smoking and lung cancer provides a clear example.

    VOD12. Experimental Design
    Statistics can be used to evaluate anecdotal evidence. This program distinguishes between observational studies and experiments and reviews basic principles of design including comparison, randomization, and replication. Case material from the Physician’s Health Study on heart disease demonstrates the advantages of a double-blind experiment.

    VOD13. Blocking and Sampling
    Students learn to draw sound conclusions about a population from a tiny sample. This program focuses on random sampling and the census as two ways to obtain reliable information about a population. It covers single- and multi-factor experiments and the kinds of questions each can answer, and explores randomized block design through agriculturalists’ efforts to find a better strawberry.

    VOD14. Samples and Surveys
    This program shows how to improve the accuracy of a survey by using stratified random sampling and how to avoid sampling errors such as bias. While surveys are becoming increasingly important tools in shaping public policy, a 1936 Gallup poll provides a striking illustration of the perils of undercoverage.

    VOD15. What Is Probability?
    Students will learn the distinction between deterministic phenomena and random sampling. This program introduces the concepts of sample space, events, and outcomes, and demonstrates how to use them to create a probability model. A discussion of statistician Persi Diaconis’s work with probability theory covers many of the central ideas about randomness and probability.

    VOD16. Random Variables
    This program demonstrates how to determine the probability of any number of independent events, incorporating many of the same concepts used in previous programs. An interview with a statistician who helped to investigate the space shuttle accident shows how probability can be used to estimate the reliability of equipment.

    VOD17. Binomial Distributions
    This program discusses binomial distribution and the criteria for it, and describes a simple way to calculate its mean and standard deviation. An additional feature describes the quincunx, a randomizing device at the Boston Museum of Science, and explains how it represents the binomial distribution.

    VOD18. The Sample Mean and Control Charts
    The successes of casino owners and the manufacturing industry are used to demonstrate the use of the central limit theorem. One example shows how control charts allow us to effectively monitor random variation in business and industry. Students will learn how to create x-bar charts and the definitions of control limits and out-of-control limits.

    VOD19. Confidence Intervals
    This program lays out the parts of the confidence interval and gives an example of how it is used to measure the accuracy of long-term mean blood pressure. An example from politics and population surveys shows how margin of error and confidence levels are interpreted. The program also explains the use of a formula to convert the z* values into values on the sampling distribution curve. Finally, the concepts are applied to an issue of animal ethics.

    VOD20. Significance Tests
    This program explains the basic reasoning behind tests of significance and the concept of null hypothesis. The program shows how a z-test is carried out when the hypothesis concerns the mean of a normal population with known standard deviation. These ideas are explored by determining whether a poem “fits Shakespeare as well as Shakespeare fits Shakespeare.” Court battles over discrimination in hiring provide additional illustration.

    VOD21. Inference for One Mean
    In this program, students discover an improved technique for statistical problems that involve a population mean: the t statistic for use when σ is not known. Emphasis is on paired samples and the t confidence test and interval. The program covers the precautions associated with these robust t procedures, along with their distribution characteristics and broad applications.

    VOD22. Comparing Two Means
    How to recognize a two-sample problem and how to distinguish such problems from one- and paired-sample situations are the subject of this program. A confidence interval is given for the difference between two means, using the two-sample t statistic with conservative degrees of freedom.

    VOD23. Inference for Proportions
    This program marks a transition in the series: from a focus on inference about the mean of a population to exploring inferences about a different kind of parameter, the proportion or percent of a population that has a certain characteristic. Students will observe the use of confidence intervals and tests for comparing proportions applied in government estimates of unemployment rates.

    VOD24. Inference for Two-Way Tables
    A two-way table of counts displays the relationship between two ways of classifying people or things. This program concerns inference about two-way tables, covering use of the chi-square test and null hypothesis in determining the relationship between two ways of classifying a case. The methods are used to investigate a possible relationship between a worker’s gender and the type of job he or she holds.

    VOD25. Inference for Relationships
    With this program, students will understand inference for simple linear regression, emphasizing slope, and prediction. This unit presents the two most important kinds of inference: inference about the slope of the population line and prediction of the response for a given x. Although the formulas are more complicated, the ideas are similar to t procedures for the mean μ of a population.

    VOD26. Case Study
    This program presents a detailed case study of statistics at work. Operating in a real-world setting, the program traces the practice of statistics — planning the data collection, collecting and picturing the data, drawing inferences from the data, and deciding how confident we can be about our conclusions. Students will begin to see the full range and power of the concepts and techniques they have learned.



    Bob Jensen's bookmarks for online tutorials on mathematics and statistics are at


    From the University of Wisconsin
    BioLEARN --- 


    Animated Periodic Table of the Elements --- Table/AnimatedPeriodicTable.swf


    Bob Jensen's links to online science tutorials are at



    Keeping Score Symphonic Music Tutorials

    MakingMusic 2 (Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments)

    Bob Jensen's threads on music helpers are at

    Bob Jensen's links to free online music are at 



    Moving Images Pinewood Dialogues (for students of film) ---



    Aviation Education Multimedia Library ---


    Bob Jensen's links to open sharing courses are at


    This Might be Interesting to Add to Ethics Courses


    "Animals Seem to Have An Inherent Sense Of Fairness and Justice," by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal,  November 10, 2006; Page B1 ---

    The concept of equity -- and fury when it is violated -- lies deep in the human psyche. But scientists have long wondered whether it is a product of learning or something innate, from deep in our evolutionary past. That question has taken on added importance as behavioral economists probe why people sometimes make "irrational" decisions, such as rejecting a payoff that would leave them quantitatively better off if a rival unfairly benefits.

    Sammy's reaction, righting the inequity, hints at something even more intriguing: Animals other than humans are not only sensitive to unfairness, but are driven to rectify it. Philosophers have long argued that this ability underlies much of our human morality.

    The search for the roots of our sense of equity began, as science often does, with casual observations. Primatologist Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, once saw a female chimp, Puist, help her male friend, Luit, chase off a rival. The rival took it out on Puist. Although Puist reached out her hand to Luit in a plea for backup, Luit "did not lift a finger to protect her," recalls Prof. de Waal in a recent paper. You could imagine the "that's not fair!" module in her mind turning on. Once the rival left, Puist "turned on Luit, barking furiously. She chased him across the enclosure and pummeled him."

    Treat me unfairly? Take that!

    Capuchins, too, know unfairness when they see it. They prefer grapes to cucumbers, and when a scientist gave a grape to one capuchin and a cucumber to another, the latter threw it onto the ground and stalked away rather than acquiesce to this injustice.

    Now, the research is moving from observations to experiments, such as the pull-tray that triggered Bias's tantrum. To test how sensitive capuchins are to inequity, Prof. de Waal and colleagues counterweighted the tray so that it required only one monkey to reel it in. In this case, the monkey almost never shares its apple with the monkey who hasn't helped. No work, no pay is fair.

    When pulling the tray requires two monkeys' efforts, but only one cup is filled, the lucky monkey often shares its spoils. "Winners were, in effect, compensating their partners for received assistance," Prof. de Waal writes. It was the fair thing to do.

    To be sure, a saintly commitment to fairness isn't the only thing going on here. By being magnanimous, the monkey who shares his reward with a hard-working but unrewarded partner makes it more likely that when the tables are turned, she will be treated with equal generosity.

    Paired with a relative, monkeys are even more willing to pull the tray, even if their own cup (which they can see from afar) is empty. "Fair," it seems, covers a family member reaping the rewards of your labors even if you don't.

    Even when little or no effort is required, chimps and capuchins balk at unfair situations, says anthropologist Sarah Brosnan of Emory University. In a series of experiments, the animals learned to trade a "token" (a rock or plastic pipe) with a trainer for food. If they saw a cagemate trade for a delectable grape, but were offered a cucumber in exchange for their own token, they were much more likely to refuse to hand it over for the stupid vegetable. Better to go hungry than to give in to this unfairness.

    A sense of fairness underlies irrational choices by humans, too. Economists assume that economic decisions are rational, but in many cases people prefer to gain less in order to punish someone who is behaving unfairly. If a partner proposes a $7/$3 split of $10 offered in an experiment, many people reject it outright, gaining nothing rather than accepting the inequity. "People are willing to give up their own potential gain to block someone else from unfairly getting more than themselves," says Ms. Brosnan, who points to resistance to globalization and free trade as current examples.

    It isn't hard to see the survival value of being able to detect inequity. Cooperation requires a grasp of fairness. You need to be able to detect (and punish) freeloaders to keep a cooperative society running. "Fairness counts," she says. "Humans and other animals are able to detect unfairness because doing so is beneficial."

    And, it seems, it's an ancient attribute of the primate mind.

    November 16, 2006 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]


    This is the ethics version of Chomskyan idea of linguistic competence (and his idea that linguistics is a branch, in some sense, of cognitive psychology, and perhaps ultimately, of biology). I am sure not many have yet bought the idea of biological basis for ethics (in my opinion, thank Goodness!).

    David Hume (1978) once called (Treatise of Human Nature) values determined exogenous to human social interaction as 'vulgar'. He observed,

    "We have naturally no real or universal motive for observing the law of equity, but the very equity and merit of that observance; and as no action can be equitable or meritorious, where it can not arise from some separate motive, there is here an evident sophistry and reasoning in a circle. Unless, therefore, we will allow that nature has established a sophistry , and rendered it necessary and unavoidable , we must allow that the sense of justice and injustice is not derived from nature, but arises artificially, tho necessarily from education, and human conventions."

    Once a year I speak with our MBA students on ethics (every department in our school meets with the MBAs to talk about ethics). In my meeting, I have always talked about two pieces of writing, one to emphasize need to temper one's greed, and the other to stress the importance of introspection & self-reflection to precede action. The two respectively are,

    1. "How much land does a man need?' by Lev Tolstoy


    2. The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

    3. To the above, this year I'll add a third, coming surprisingly from Milton Friedman -- his saying that most important things in life are free.






    "Breaking the 'boy code' can improve learning, author says," by Kevin Wack, Portland Press Herald, November 18, 2006 ---

    School-age boys, whose classroom struggles have recently been the cause of much concern in education circles, are being hurt by an unwritten set of social rules that discourage them from showing their emotions, a Harvard psychologist told a group of teachers Friday.
    William Pollack, the author of "Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood," used a mix of anecdotes and statistics to argue that stereotypical images of manhood are detrimental to boys.
    "If a boy puts on a football helmet and cleats, then he's a real boy," said Pollack, co-director of the Center for Men at Harvard Medical School. "If he puts on a ballet outfit and tutu, then we say we hope he'll grow out of it."
    Pollack's remarks came during a daylong conference at Bates College on how to support the academic success of boys. About 100 people attended, most of them teachers from schools around Maine.
    Nationally, a conversation is under way about the academic struggles of boys, their causes and what can be done about them. In Maine, statistics show that boys consistently lag behind their female peers, scoring lower on standardized tests, graduating from high school at lower rates and earning just 38 percent of all bachelor's degrees conferred by the state's public universities.
    But even among researchers convinced that those statistics underscore a serious problem, there are differing views about what is to blame.
    Some researchers are focusing on the biological differences between girls and boys. Some call for more competition in the classroom. Pollack, on the other hand, emphasizes the social messages that boys absorb from their parents, teachers and peers.
    Pollack calls these lessons the "boy code." He told teachers Friday that the code includes the following messages: Don't show weakness, be independent, and don't show any emotion unless it's anger. He also gave tips on how teachers can connect with male students.
    Pollack's speech struck a chord with Colleen Madden, an English teacher at Morse High School in Bath.
    "He's just giving some formal scientific words for what we've been observing for years," Madden said. "He's just giving it a vocabulary."

    Continued in article



    Can we adequately meet current human needs while protecting and restoring planetary life support systems for the welfare of people today and generations to come?


    Stanford Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability ---




    From the Scout Report on November 20, 2006


    FastStone Capture 4.8 --- 

    Faster than a moving pop-up advertisement, FastStone Capture 4.8 is able to capture just about anything that appears on the monitors of those who decide to try out this program. Visitors who utilize the program can capture such features as scrolling windows and other objects. The other features of the program include the ability to resize and crop these captured features. This version is compatible with all computers running any version of Windows.

    Also see SnagIt ---


    Camtasia Screen Movement Capturing ---


    How to Make Faux Billions 

    Billionaires Lock Out Millionaires from ‘Forbes’ List [Real Player] 

    Rich Uncle Pennybags 

    Comics Page: Annie 

    The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Suit [Real Player]


    "Online Retailers Can't Wait to Snare Shoppers," byy Yuki Noguchi and Ylan Q. Mui, The Washington Post, November 17, 2006 --- Click Here


    Buy more, get free shipping! Tell the whole Web about your favorite brand! Bust down that virtual door and grab the limited supply of Xbox 360s!

    Thanksgiving, starting point for the holiday shopping race, is still six days away, but the online marketing frenzy is already upon us, pushing, prodding, poking: Shop early, shop often, and oh, by the way! -- the Internet is open 24-7.

    Here's, with its "door-buster" promotion, asking customers to vote on their most-desired item from a selection -- Xbox 360, mountain bike or Barbie Dancing Princesses -- and a limited number of the winning products (generally 1,000 to 2,500) will go on sale at up to 75 per cent off at 2 p.m. every Thursday, including Thanksgiving, for the next four weeks.

    There's Best Buy, trotting out the lawyers and issuing cease-and-desist letters. That's because several Web sites published the retailer's Black Friday circular, and the company wants to keep some suspense until next Friday, when a 4-gigabyte iPod Nano paired with a $25 gift card will cost $199, and the Sony PlayStation 2-and-game package will go for $129.99, down from $174.97. That information was taken down.

    Wal-Mart is cutting prices on some of its high-end items, such as cashmere scarves. is suggesting relatively new services including "shop now, ship later," to minimize the clutter of hiding presents before they're given.

    With $32 billion in online spending expected to be at stake this holiday season, it's no wonder Amazon and other retailers are trying to get shoppers to turn to their computers instead of the malls, ahead of what retailers are calling Cyber Monday, when workers are supposed to hit their desks shopping after the Thanksgiving weekend.

    Cyber Monday is the online equivalent of Black Friday, which retailers call the biggest shopping day of the year. More hype? Neither of those days turns out always to be when the most money is spent.

    For brick-and-mortar retailers, that's typically the Saturday before Christmas. And Cyber Monday? Last year, it was only the ninth-busiest online shopping day. Buyers spent the most on Monday, Dec. 12 -- $556 million, according to ComScore Networks Inc.

    So, if you weren't among the 35 percent of online shoppers who, according to the National Retail Federation, started shopping before Halloween this year -- breathe.

    "We think Cyber Monday is an amusing myth," said Cliff Conneighton, senior vice president of marketing for software company Art Technology Group Inc., which powers the Web sites of retailers such as J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and Best Buy.

    Amazon says its heaviest holiday shopping is in mid-December, near one of the last days to take advantage of free shipping. "We intentionally chose [Thanksgiving] so that customers could have their experience online before heading to the malls on Black Friday," said Craig Berman, a company spokesman.

    Of course, it's to retailers' advantage to rack up sales early.

    "If the heaviest shopping day is earlier in the year, [retailers] don't have to scramble as much" for the remainder of the season, said Patti Freeman Evans, senior retail analyst for Jupiter Research.

    The most coveted buzz of all, of course, is word of mouth.

    So this year retailers are busy monitoring chat sites and user reviews to see what kind of buzz people are generating over promotions or products, Evans said.

    In the future, such buzz may come from independent sites creating communities of people sharing feedback on their purchases., and all allow subscribers to search for products -- and comment on them.

    ThisNext has more than 10,000 members who have signed up to volunteer reviews of everything from Seven for All Mankind skinny jeans to leather Rocket 7 cycling shoes.

    One poster waxed ecstatic about biking gear: "They were a bit spendy, but man are they comfy."


    Iraq is not the only nation wanting to divide up by tribal boundaries: The new and independent nation of Scotland?
    Almost two-thirds of English voters want full independence for Scotland, a dramatic new poll revealed last night. A clear majority on both sides of the Border are in favour of Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom, according to the survey by ICM. It finds that 59% of English voters want Scotland to go it alone, while independence is backed by 52% of Scots.
    Brian Brady, "English tell Scots to go for independence," The Scotsman, November 27, 2006 ---


    "Kevin Mitnick's Security Advice," Wired News, November 15, 2006 ---,72116-0.html?tw=wn_index_2

    Ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick came by his security expertise the hard way. In the 1990s, his electronic penetration of some of the biggest companies in the world made him a notorious tech boogieman, and ultimately landed him five years in prison.

    Here's my Top 10 list of steps you should take to protect your information and your computing resources from the bad boys and girls of cyberspace.

    Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in conjuring up new ways to hijack your system by exploiting technical vulnerabilities or human nature. Don't become the next victim of unscrupulous cyberspace intruders.

    Bob Jensen's threads on computing and network security are at




    Download 12 movie DVDs in the same two minutes
    The two-minute animated video, which was a scientific visualization of a cell structure from a bacterium, was streamed at a rate of 7.5 gigabits per second with a peak transfer rate of 8.4 gigabits per second. At that speed, the researchers could have transmitted approximately 12 movie DVDs in the same two minutes.
    "Not YouTube, HUGETube:  Purdue researchers stream massive Internet video," PhysOrg, November 16, 2006 ---


    Some Important Buzzwords of Computing Technology



    "Before Going to Buy High-Tech Devices, Learn the New Terms," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal,  November 16, 2006; Page B1 ---

    Aero: This is the graphical user interface that's a key part of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system, due out around Jan. 30. If you want to get the full benefit of Vista, make sure any Windows PC you buy this season is capable of running Aero. Many are not.

    Anti-Blur: Also known as antishake or image stabilization, this is a crucial feature of digital cameras today. Because few cameras have optical viewfinders, users tend to hold them at arm's length to frame the shot on the LCD screen. This increases the likelihood of shaking the camera. An anti-blur feature can correct that. The best anti-blur technology is optical. Digital versions are less effective.

    Draft N: This is a new, faster, longer-range version of the popular Wi-Fi wireless networking system, and many new Wi-Fi products are built to comply with it. It succeeds the common "G" flavor of Wi-Fi. But, there's a catch. As the name implies, this technology is based on a draft of the forthcoming new Wi-Fi standard, to be called "N." And the final standard could be different enough to make Draft N gear outdated in 12 to 18 months.

    Dual Boot: A computer that is configured to boot, or to start up, in two different operating systems, depending on which the user chooses at any one time. The most important example of this currently is on Apple's Macintosh computers, which now can be set up to run either the Mac operating system or Microsoft Windows using Apple's free dual-boot software, called Boot Camp.

    Dual Core: A type of microprocessor -- the brain that runs a computer -- which packs the equivalent of two processors into a single chip. The best known dual-core processors in consumer computers are Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core Duo, but rival AMD also makes them. They are a good bet for most people.

    Flash Player: A small-capacity digital music player, like Apple's iPod Nano and Shuffle. These players use flash memory, a type of memory chip that behaves like a small hard disk to store music, photos and videos. Larger players, such as the full-size iPod and the new Microsoft Zune, use actual hard disks, like the ones in computers. Flash memory is also what's inside the small memory cards used in digital cameras.

    HDMI: This acronym, for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, describes a new kind of cable for hooking high-definition TVs to things like cable boxes and DVD players. It provides a high-quality digital feed, and combines both audio and video signals via a single connection. When shopping for an HDTV, make sure it has HDMI connectors on the back.

    HSDPA: An awkward name for a new high-speed cellphone network being deployed in the U.S. by Cingular Wireless. Its full name is High Speed Downlink Packet Access, and it's intended to compete with successful high-speed networks from Verizon and Sprint called EVDO, or Evolution Data Only. All of these new networks allow Internet access at about the speed of a slow home DSL line, which is a big boost for cellphones. If you care about email and Internet access on a phone, and you are using Cingular, get a phone that can handle HSDPA.

    Quad Band: A cellphone that handles all four bands, or frequencies, used in various countries by wireless phone companies adhering to a world-wide standard called GSM. Examples are Cingular and T-Mobile in the U.S., and Vodafone and Orange in Europe. A quad-band phone can be used on any GSM network anywhere, so if you travel overseas a lot, you may want one.

    RAW: A file format for digital photographs that is uncompressed and largely unmodified by the camera's chips, and therefore includes every detail of the color and image. It is prized by professional photographers and serious amateurs, who look for cameras and photo software that can handle the RAW format. But it produces enormous files, so most users should ignore it and stick with the very good, very common compressed photo format, called JPEG or JPG.

    Shared Memory: A computer configuration in which the video circuitry lacks its own dedicated memory and must share, or drain off, a portion of the computer's main memory. This is common in lower-price computers. It's fine, but it reduces the amount of memory available to the nonvideo functions of the computer, so you may want to add extra memory to a PC of this type.

    WAN: Any wide-area network, such as a cellphone network, that can be used to send and receive data. It is distinguished from a LAN, or local area network, such as the wired and wireless networks deployed inside a business or home. Some computer makers use the term for the built-in cellphone modems in their laptops.

    Bob Jensen's technology glossary is at




    "College football contracts are dotted with extras and provisions," by Jodi Upton and Steve Wieberg, USA Today, November 17, 2006 --- Click Here

    Lifetime care: Air Force's Fisher DeBerry will get a lifetime monthly annuity after he steps down — $7,000 a month if he coaches through the 2006 season, a figure that rises to $9,000 a month if he coaches through the 2010 season. His wife would collect two-thirds of the monthly amount if he dies before she does.

    No rocking chair here: Colorado State wrote a retirement clause into 69-year-old Sonny Lubick's contract extension in January. If he retires before January 2, 2010 Lubick can stay at the school for up to two years as a $75,000-a-year "public relations and fundraising consultant."

    Sharing the cost of education: Florida's Urban Meyer gets $100,000 a year for family educational expenses.

    Getting away: Hawaii's June Jones gets 10 economy-fare round-trip tickets a year for personal use or use by his family "to any destination in the United States."

    After coaching: Michigan reworked Lloyd Carr's contract in 2003, extending it through the 2007 season with automatic one-year rollovers and stipulating that, at its conclusion, Carr will be appointed an associate athletics director. Duties will include fundraising and speaking.

    For (lots of) family and friends: Kansas' Mark Mangino can request up to 50 tickets per home game, between the 35-yard lines on the west side of Memorial Stadium, and gets use of a stadium suite. He also gets four men's basketball season tickets in the lower level, between the free throw lines, of Allen Fieldhouse.

    Flight time: Oklahoma's Bob Stoops gets up to 35 hours a year of private plane availability. Ohio State's Tressel gets 10 hours of jet time for personal use. Virginia's Al Groh gets "reasonable use of the University's aircraft and vehicles" for his duties.

    The penalties

    You cheat, you pay: Arizona State's Dirk Koetter must pay up to $300,000 in damages if he's fired for NCAA or conference rules violations. Arizona's Mike Stoops must pay $100,000.

    Cost of being a Michigan man: LSU's Les Miles must pay $500,000 to leave before his contract expires at the end of 2011 — $1.25 million if he leaves for Michigan, where he played, graduated with a degree in economics and coached under Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller.

    Tough on crime: Cincinnati's Mark Dantonio and Florida's Urban Meyer can be suspended or fired for "commission of a crime ... whether prosecuted or not." Not counting minor traffic offenses.

    Compensation Special Report, Parts I & II, CFO Magazine, November 2006 --- 

    A Farewell to Perks?

    The SEC's new compensation-disclosure rules could mean the end of luxurious wine cellars and questionable stipends.

    IRS Chief: CFO Pay Should Be Fixed
    At a Senate hearing, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson says finance chiefs shouldn't be paid in options, and a ranking senator seems itching to legislate.

    Battle Lines Drawn on Executive Pay
    A House bill would require shareholder approval for corporate compensation policies.

    Study: Director Pay Hikes Slowing Down
    Further, fewer companies are making stock options a component of directors' compensation packages, with 53 percent providing them 2005— down from 59 percent in 2004 and 66 percent in 2003.

    Directors Say Exec Pay Hurts Image
    Two-thirds of board members also believe that the current model for executive compensation has contributed to superior corporate performance, according to a new survey; less than one-quarter of institutional investors share that view. Executive Pay Prognosis: Marginal Change The market for senior management pay is likely to keep compensation up—even in the face of more disclosure. Survey Says Comp Rules No Big Deal Even as multiple Senate hearings focus on executive compensation, a survey of human resource professionals says new SEC rules will have little impact on compensation or company performance.


    Study: Talent Will Cost More
    Hiring qualified employees could hit companies in the wallet in the coming year.

    State's Rights: Many Lift Minimum Wage
    While Congress fiddles, the states are raising the minimum wage.

    When Is Backdating a Crime?
    The burden will be on DoJ prosecutors to prove Brocade executives deliberately misled investors. Is Spring-loading Wrong? Testimony on Capitol Hill today did nothing to resolve the ongoing debate over whether spring-loading of stock options is illegal or unethical. Backdating Blamed on 1993 Tax Rule Disturbed by the manipulation of option grants, Congress is toying with eliminating the $1 million tax cap on executive compensation.

    Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation are at

    Hundreds of old-economy companies also committed backdating fraud
    Abuses of stock option grants are perceived to have spread like a virus among high-technology companies. But a new study suggests that hundreds of old-economy companies may also have caught the backdating bug. In a paper to be released today, researchers estimate that 590 nontechnology companies appear to have manipulated options so their chief executives received them at the lowest price of the month. That compares with 130 technology companies that appear to have backdated their chief executives’ options to a monthly low.
    Eric Dash, "Study Charts Broad Manipulation of Options," The New York Times, November 17, 2006 ---



    From The Washington Post on November 15, 2006


    Which region of the world had the greatest Internet usage growth in the last six years?

    A. Middle East
    B. Africa
    C. Asia
    D. Latin America


    Retirement? Less cash and more moles!


    November 13, 2006 message from Saeed Roohani []

    Hi Bob,

    Talking about social security and retirement, I am sure there are many of us contemplating retirement in the next 5, 10, or15 years. Also, now that you are a proud retired professor I think it would be helpful for you and Denny and others to share experiences of being retired and also tips for making it the best experience.



    November 13, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen


    Hi Saeed,

    Denny has not yet retired. I cannot imagine how he juggles all his speaking engagements, Board of Director Memberships (including being head of the Audit Committee for Fannie Mae), serious consulting, committee assignments within his university, and full-time teaching at Georgia. Denny has taught graduate courses online for many years. He's one of my proud examples of a distance education instructor who did not burn out.

    You can listen to Denny talk about his online teaching at

    I retired from teaching and moved to the mountains, but my work is backlogged as much as ever. I spend less time teaching and a bit more time on a tractor, but not much. Mostly I'm still running workshops on derivatives and consulting. It does save me a little time now when clients from places like Boston agree to drive up to my home rather than make me travel to the flatlands. Travel results in a lot of wasted time, and it's no longer much fun. But I still fly out for my derivatives workshops.

    I'm still writing papers. I just finished a module for a forthcoming book for the IASB and Routledge. I'm also finishing a re-submit paper that I mistakenly sent to a journal. If it wasn't for my co-author I'd probably just revise the paper for my Website. I'm getting too old to devote a hundred hours trying to please referees who have opposing requests. These referees will probably never agree with each other. Another drawback is that the paper will probably be out of date before it ever appears in print --- journals one day will realize that the traditional approach to scholarly communications is like a horse and buggy on a Web superhighway

    To be honest with you, the greatest bulk of my time is answering email questions from accounting faculty, students, brokers, bankers, reporters, and many friends. The hardest ones are the inquiries about technicalities of FAS 133 and IAS 39. Sometimes students contact me just before their exams. Often faculty write with questions, especially faculty in developing countries. I especially try to help them when I can be of help.

    One thing to consider before creating a huge Website is that Web crawlers will find some of your many documents, many of which you forgot you ever wrote. This, in turn, results in a lot of email inquiries. I still feel committed to helping people, but I must warn that a huge Website can greatly cut into your discretionary time. However, the messages from others are also educational. In countless instances these messages have helped me learn and helped me improve my Web documents.

    So I guess I will answer your question with a question.
    What's retirement other than less monthly cash flow?

    Bye for now. I'm going out on my tractor and try to squish down gopher/mole hills. These critters become more active this time of year. Possibly it's because I quit mowing for the season and simply take more notice of mound buildups. Then again those little buggers may be digging deeper in advance of another cold winter.

    We don't have any pests up here like poisonous snakes, roaches, rats, and even the mosquitoes are not bothersome (possibly due to the wind). But we've got chipmunks (cute), mice (not cute), and moles (kinda cute). There are so many moles that I can see them scurry about in front of the mower. Up in Alaska the wolves live mostly on moles and mice, but I don't think we have any wolves.

    I guess I'm making mountains out of mole hills!

    What's retirement other than less monthly cash flow and more moles?

    Bob Jensen



    Updates from WebMD ---

    Latest Headlines on November 16, 2006

    Latest Headlines on November 17, 2006


  • Latest Headlines on November 20, 2006

    Latest Headlines on November 21, 2006

    Latest Headlines on November 22, 2006



    Grandma's Veggies May Have Been More Nutritious
    Some studies show that vegetables grown today contain fewer vitamins and minerals than vegetables grown in 1950. But even if that's true -- and it's a matter of debate -- you're still better off eating your fruits and vegetables.
    Dan Charles, "Grandma's Veggies May Have Been More Nutritious," NPR, November 18, 2006 ---




  • Test Your Hearing


    Listen To Your Buds is a consumer awareness campaign by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association about the potential risk of hearing loss from unsafe usage of personal audio technology ---




    Virtuous Calories Are Still Calories
    PEPSICO this week announced that it plans to acquire the Naked Juice Company as part of its effort to “expand into natural, healthy, good-for-you products” that “address growing consumer health and wellness needs.” . . .  But have they? Given an equal number of calories, fruit juices and smoothies — and particularly the “super premium” ones made by Naked Juice and Odwalla — are certainly healthier than sugary, nutrient-free soft drinks.
    Dan Mitchell, "Virtuous Calories Are Still Calories," The New York Times, November 25, 2006 ---


    Get More Than One Opinion Before Having Back Surgery


    Study: Surgery Just One Option for Herniated Disk
    Listen to NPR's broadcast at


    "Study Questions Need to Operate on Disk Injuries," by Gina Kolata, The New York Times, November 22, 2006 ---
    Click Here



    People with ruptured disks in their lower backs usually recover whether or not they have surgery, researchers are reporting today. The study, a large trial, found that surgery appeared to relieve pain more quickly but that most people recovered eventually and that there was no harm in waiting.

    And that, surgeons said, is likely to change medical practice.

    The study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the only large and well-designed trial to compare surgery for sciatica with waiting.

    The study was controversial from the start, with many surgeons saying they knew that the operation worked and that it would be unethical for their patients to participate in such a study.

    In the end, though, neither waiting nor surgery was a clear winner, and most patients could safely decide what to do based on personal preference and level of pain. Although many patients did not stay with their assigned treatment, most fared well with whatever treatment they had.

    Patients who had surgery often reported immediate relief. But by three to six months, patients in both groups reported marked improvement.

    After two years, about 70 percent of the patients in the two groups said they had a “major improvement” in their symptoms. No one who waited had serious consequences, and no one who had surgery had a disastrous result.

    Many surgeons had long feared that waiting would cause severe harm, but those fears were proved unfounded.

    “I think this will have an impact,” said Dr. Steven R. Garfin, chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Diego. “It says you don’t have to rush in for surgery. Time is usually your ally, not your enemy,” Dr. Garfin added.

    As many as a million Americans suffer from sciatica, said Dr. James Weinstein, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Dartmouth who led the study. The condition is characterized by an often agonizing pain in the buttocks or leg or weakness in a leg.

    It is caused when a ruptured disk impinges on the root of the sciatic nerve, which runs down the back of the leg. And an estimated 300,000 Americans a year have surgery to relieve the symptoms, Dr. Weinstein said.

    Patients are often told that if they delay surgery they may risk permanent nerve damage, perhaps a weakened leg or even losing bowel or bladder control. But nothing like that occurred in the two-year study comparing surgery with waiting in nearly 2,000 patients.

    The study did not include people who had just lower back pain, which can have a variety of causes. Nor did it include people with conditions that would require immediate surgery like losing bowel or bladder control.

    Instead, they were typical of a vast majority of people with sciatica who are made miserable by searing pain. For such patients, fear that delaying an operation could be dangerous “was the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” said Dr. Eugene J. Carragee, professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford.

    Continued in article


    "Alzheimer's Research Makes Dramatic Shift To Widen Perspective," by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2006; Page B1

    Proponents of the leading theory of Alzheimer's have been in pitched battle with scientists who have other ideas about this awful neurodegenerative disease. For more than 20 years, the leading theory has held that sticky blobs in the brain called amyloid plaques cause Alzheimer's. Because that idea has numerous problems, doubters argued that the plaques might be innocent bystanders to the real, "upstream" culprit. If so, targeting the plaques, or the rogue protein called beta-amyloid that forms them, would do nothing to help the 4.5 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer's.

    You might think this debate would play out with each side conducting research, in a "may the best science win" approach. But as I've written before, many scientists whose work challenges the amyloid dogma have been unable to publish in top journals, and their grant proposals, "go down in flames," as Mark Smith of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine told me. "Among the major journals and funding agencies, the attitude was, 'if it isn't amyloid, it isn't AD.' "

    Hence the impact of that "there is more to" statement. It is the focus of a paper in the October issue of the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia reporting on a "research roundtable" convened by the private, nonprofit Alzheimer's Association. Finally, academic scientists and leaders in biotech, medical imaging and big drug companies recognize "there is more to AD than B-amyloid alone," the paper concludes. Which is why the roundtable's goal "was to address, primarily, strategies that do not hinge on directly modulating levels of B-amyloid" (my emphasis)

    It's a remarkable turnaround. "This is the first concerted effort by the Alzheimer's Association to focus on things beyond beta-amyloid," says John Trojanowski of the University of Pennsylvania, who has done pioneering work on the role of so-called neurofibrillary tangles in the disease.

    To get a sense of what a sea change this is, consider the Alzheimer's drug pipeline. Five drugs have been approved in the U.S. One (tacrine) causes liver toxicity, so is rarely prescribed anymore. None of the other four treat what anyone considers the real cause of the disease. Instead, they nibble around the edges, using strategies to maintain the brain's "cognitive reserve" so that when Alzheimer's sets in you don't become senile quite so fast. None of the drugs provides more than marginal benefit, if that, and help only some patients. And the disease keeps marching through the brain.

    Some of the estimated 100 Alzheimer's drugs in clinical trials also nibble around the edges, such as by trying to lower cholesterol or inflammation (thought to worsen Alzheimer's). But of those that aim at a suspected cause of the disease, "the pipeline is full of antiamyloid therapies," says William Theis, vice president for medicine and science at the Alzheimer's Association. "The field was lulled into a false sense of confidence that beta-amyloid was the culprit," says Dr. Trojanowski. "But there is a great deal of uncertainty that the beta-amyloid hypothesis will be validated, although some stalwarts still strongly believe in it. We need to have a balanced portfolio of targets."

    Thankfully, there are other suspects for what causes the disease. This month marks the 100th anniversary of Alois Alzheimer's report on his senile patient, Auguste D.: Her brain had stringy tangles inside neurons and "senile plaques" around them. The tangles, it turns out, are made of a protein called tau that gets transformed in such a way that strands of it stick together like cold pasta. The plaques are those globs of beta-amyloid. For many reasons, including the discovery of genes having to do with amyloid, the search for causes and treatment focused on that.

    But when you think about it, concluding that B-amyloid and plaques cause Alzheimer's is like believing a scab on your knee causes pain. The scab is the body's response to an earlier injury. Similarly, there is evidence that amyloid plaques don't cause Alzheimer's.

    Some elderly people who die with the disease don't have senile plaques. Some who show no sign of dementia do. When an Alzheimer's brain has plaques, they often are not where neurons have died, casting doubt on their toxicity. Also, in people with early Alzheimer's, tau tangles sometimes form before plaques, suggesting that plaques are a response (and maybe a therapeutic one), not a cause. If so, ridding the brain of plaques could cause harm.

    "I definitely think it's time to think along other lines of treatment, and that's finally becoming more widespread," says Robert Mahley, president of the nonprofit J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, and a leading Aer's researcher. "Big pharma has had all its eggs in [the amyloid] basket, and is starting to worry about that."

    As a result, there is new emphasis on finding pathologies that lie upstream of beta-amyloid and plaques, or that have nothing to do with them. Next week, I'll discuss some of these ideas and experimental treatments based on them.


    HIV up 20-fold in less than 10 years in eastern Europe, Central Asia
    With drug use and non-sterile injection equipment still at large, the number of people living with HIV climbed to 1.7 million in eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2006, a twenty-fold increase in less than a decade, the latest UNAIDS epidemic survey said Tuesday.
    "HIV up 20-fold in less than 10 years in eastern Europe, Central Asia," PhysOrg, November 21, 2006 ---

    The relentless hike saw an estimated 270,000 people newly infected in 2006, with almost a third of new infections diagnosed in people aged 15 to 24.

    The majority of young people living with HIV/AIDS reside in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which together account for about 90 percent of HIV infections, and where the use of non-sterile hypodermic needles remains the main mode of transmission.

    In eastern Europe, the use of non-sterile injecting drug equipment accounted for almost two-thirds (63 percent) of reported HIV cases for which information on the mode of transmission was available, the UN agency report said.

    But it added that "an increasing proportion of HIV infections -- 37 percent of reported cases in 2005 -- are estimated to be occurring during unprotected sexual intercourse."

    This meant that an increasing number of women were taking the brunt of HIV, with women under 25 accounting for 41 percent of new infections in 2005.

    Continued in article



    Will the Roman Catholic Church change its position on condom use to prevent disease?
    The Vatican's office for health care has concluded a study on the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS, and a long-awaited report on it is now being examined by the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, a senior cardinal said Tuesday. But the prelate gave no indication of the position the study takes or when a final pronouncement might be made.
    "Vatican Concludes Study on Condoms," PhysOrg, November 21, 2006 ---



    Nobel Prizes and Israel



    November 14, 2006 message from Naomi Ragen []

    A few weeks ago, I read a remarkable article in an Israeli newspaper: an interview with Israel's two Nobel prize winners, who met to discuss the state of the nation. It is very long, very heartbreaking, and very important. It may also be an overdose of reality for some readers, coming on the heels of my own gloomy piece. If so, save it for another day. But do read it. Thanks to the person who translated it from the Hebrew.



    Monday, November 13, 2006 Sever Plocker, Yediot Aharanot, October 28, 2006 (translation from Hebrew)

    Special: The Two Israeli Nobel Prize Laureates Foresee a Gloomy Future for the State

    From a political point of view, they are poles apart, but on one topic Prof. Yisrael Aumann and Prof. Aharon Ciechanover are of the same opinion: Pitiful and failed leadership is leading Israel to destruction │ What worries them most is the deterioration in academics and education │ "There is a close connection between the sinking of the Israeli spirit and the downfall of the State," they warn │ Everything here seems lacking in values, temporary, one patch on top of another, a thin bandage that can be torn off with any breeze."

    Two men, neither young, looked into each other's teary eyes. Behind them, on a green chalkboard, were written complex formulae. They shared stories of their experiences, but not in chemistry or in mathematics. They spoke with enthusiasm and uplifted spirits about Hassidic niggunim [melodies] and Jewish prayers. Their voices cracked, their chins trembled. In a minute, I thought, they will break down crying. It was close.

    The two men, Prof. Yisrael (Robert) Aumann and Prof. Aharon Ciechanover, are Israeli scientists and Nobel Prize winners. The weekend supplement to Yediot Aharanot had arranged a discussion between them on the subject of the weakening of the Israeli spirit and the failings of the Israeli leadership. I was there to report on what was a deep, painful, gloomy, and sometimes truly frightening discussion, one that leaves the listener with very little hope and a great deal of discomfort.

    The State of Israel, say the two professors, who are poles apart in their political views, is moving in the wrong direction. It is being swept away into the darkness, headed on a path toward possible destruction-and not because of our external enemies. Rather, we have only ourselves to blame: ourselves and our leaders, or those who call themselves our leaders.

    Aumann and Ciechanover found a way out of their shared pessimism in their Jewish roots. "As a scientist, I am only a tourist in the palace of the Holy One, blessed be he," said Ciechanover, "who discovers secrets of the universe that he created, systems that were hidden in it for millions of years. If there are apparent flaws in them, I try, through medicine and science, to fix them."

    Aumann stroked his white beard - just as my own grandfather did, according to the only photograph of him that survived the Holocaust and his escape - and said, "I feel the same way you do - I feel the same way you do."

    Were their eyes full of tears at the end of their discussion because of the emotions aroused by the memory of the Hassidic niggun? That was not my impression. From time to time, in speaking of the fate of Israel and the failure of its leaders, Ciechanover and Aumann sounded like people on the verge of tears - two outstanding scientists who are tormented by fear for the future of our State.

    The discussion began with my question, Are any more Israelis expected to win Nobel Prizes? "The question is totally irrelevant," answered Ciechanover. "The Nobel Prize," he explained, "is a rare event - rarer than the chance of being struck by lightning on a sunny day."

    Ciechanover: "The State does not have to aspire to Nobel Prizes as a national agenda. So what if three people who received Nobel Prizes live here? What Israel needs is a broad educational system, a critical mass of researchers and philosophers and ethicists and men of letters who will lead her."

    And there is no critical mass like that?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "There is academic deterioration at all levels. Even among people with academic degrees, I find garbled language, a lack of cultural depth, and ignorance of general history and of the history of the Jewish people. We need institutions of higher learning headed by path-breaking leadership, but that kind of leadership has disappeared. Where are the outstanding men of letters of the past? I see a close connection between the sinking of the Israeli spirit and the downfall of the State. Without developed humanities and Jewish studies, quality science of any kind cannot exist in the State of Israel - not physics, nor chemistry, nor mathematics, nor medicine. In order to flourish, scientists of nature and technology must be nourished by the humanities: by ethics, philosophy, literature, history, and Judaism.

    "The fact that the State of Israel has not become the great world center for Jewish thinking and history," says Prof. Ciechanover, "is our greatest cultural bankruptcy. If we do not have here, in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the leading world center for Jewish historical research, it is proof of the fact that we have gone bankrupt."

    Prof. Aumann: "You are one hundred percent correct."

    The Soap Bubble of Kadima

    What is your opinion of our governmental elite?

    "They are pitiful," Prof. Aharon Ciechanover says decisively, while Prof. Yisrael Aumann vigorously nods his head in agreement.

    They are so repulsive?

    Ciechanover: "It is truly pitiful that there is not one among them who instills in the public a sense of inspiration. There is no one with whom you would like to speak, whose ideas you would want to hear. To tell the truth, the members of the Israeli elite in general do not voice ideas. They lack discussion, discourse - they don't even have an agenda! They use all kinds of verbs in the Hebrew language - to disengage, to dismantle - that lack all meaning and sense. They are devoid of content, and in the middle of it is a soap bubble called the Kadima party."

    That is to say, the downfall of the universities is not occurring in a vacuum.

    Ciechanover: "Certainly not. What we see in the universities is merely a symptom of a serious and much more comprehensive disease. I would even call it a fatal disease: spiritual diminution. It is a cancer that has spread throughout Israeli society, to all its bodily limbs."

    The politicians, in the opinion of the two Prize winners, have stained public life with their behavior. Prof. Ciechanover said, "Our leadership is always raising moral questions; the public's trust in it has been lost completely. Of all the national symbols, only the anthem and the flag are not yet subject to investigation by the Attorney General or the State Comptroller. All the other symbols have already been consumed."

    "With such leadership," adds Prof. Ciechanover with great passion, "It is not surprising that the people's internal cohesion is weakening. The external enemy does not scare me; with the help of technology and wisdom, we will find a cure for it. What do worry me are the processes within Israeli society itself. They are the destructive ones. Even our army failed [in this summer's war in Lebanon] morally and practically - just look at the way the IDF is now investigating itself!

    You sound pessimistic:

    Prof. Ciechanover: "I am extremely pessimistic. I fear for the very existence of the State of Israel. Everything here seems lacking in values, temporary, one patch on top of another, a thin patch cover that can be torn off with any breeze."

    Prof. Aumann (turns to Prof. Ciechanover): "I listened to your words and wanted so much to disagree with them, but I couldn't find a reason to do so. Just the opposite: Everything you say is correct. Your claims are problematic, but I entirely agree with them. I, too, am pessimistic. The problem is not with our neighbors, the problem is with ourselves, with our lack of patience, with the selfishness that has developed among us. Our national agenda is all mixed up: the collective interest has been pushed to the sidelines by the personal interest. The State of Israel in 2006 is something entirely different than what it was when I immigrated in 1956, during the Sinai campaign."

    How is it so different?

    Prof. Aumann: "Today, everyone worries first and foremost for himself - I, and only I. This is all well and good for a country like Switzerland, but it is very bad for Israel. We cannot allow ourselves a selfish agenda."

    This selfishness - is it not also a result of the privatization and subjugation of everything to a competitive market regime? The competitive market lauds and praises selfishness and the advancement of private interests. It has no place for national, religious, ethical and cultural values of which you speak so highly.

    Prof. Aumann: "I am a great fan of the market economy and of the incentives that it creates. There is no opposition or contradiction between it and Jewish values: Judaism has to be deeply absorbed in our identity. The incentive to be a Jew has to be assimilated into our soul. The Israeli educational system has to be built in such a way that the population will want to fund the study of the humanities - the humanties, theatre, all those things that are not strictly "economic" - just as Haredi Jews fund systems of gemilut hassadim [charitable acts of kindness.]"

    Prof. Ciechanover: "I was competitive all my life. Without competition, I would not have succeeded in anything - even my scientific success is a competitive success. Nevertheless, I am convinced that there is no place for a competitive market economy in preserving values that are critical for our existence. Our profitable and historical inalienable assets cannot be managed like a profit-making economic factory."

    How did the academic downfall and spiritual diminution begin?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "The downfall began long before the demise of the university: It began in the lower schools. I have no doubt of it. It is, first of all, the ongoing erosion of the status of the teacher, the main reason for which is the frequent changes in the head of the Ministry of Education. Long-term reforms in education take dozens of years; in the Israeli political reality, this is simply impossible. Does the name 'Dovrat Commission' [the most recent national commission on educational reform] still mean something to you? It has already been erased from our memory."

    Have we betrayed education?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "We have betrayed education and therefore betrayed everything. For the State of Israel, education, academia, the humanities are everything. Unfortunately, not even one of the country's universities is rated among the 100 outstanding universities in the world. The President of the Hebrew University will tell you, and the President of the Technion will tell you, and the soon-to-retire President of Tel-Aviv University will tell you: we are not capable of bringing new scientists to Israel, nor are we capable of seeking them out, as we are constantly forced to cut and cut and cut our budgets."

    Prof. Aumann: "Our academic failure is not only a budgetary problem. The professors all cry that we need more money for education and for the universities. Even the doctors demand more money for medicine and road planners more money for infrastructure - as we say in the Neilah prayer on Yom Kippur, 'Many are the needs of Your people, and their understanding is limited.' We don't have to appeal to the State budget and the Ministry of the Treasury for everything. Sometimes one has to do things differently."

    Putting One's Hand in the Public's Pocket

    How differently?

    Prof. Aumann: "Instead of putting one's hand in the public's pocket, one can appeal to private sources. We can raise large contributions for humanities departments, and for the teaching of Judaism as well, and "sell" donors on the importance of these fields for the protection of Israel and its future. But this is still not enough. I also support an extreme increase in tuition at the universities; I would increase it ten times, to NIS 120,000 per year, even NIS 140,000 per year. At the same time, I would increase [government] stipends and grant generous loans on special terms. There is no need for the State of Israel to subsidize every student in the field of business administration or finance or technology. Let them pay a realistic tuition, or take loans, and when they receive high salaries, which are standard in these professions, they will gradually pay back the debt. But there is a definite need to subsidize the humanities, where the jobs do not offer large salaries. The state should grant them stipends and forgive the loans. If you go to law school and pay NIS 140,000 per year and later become a successful lawyer in the business world, then you certainly have to return the money that you received from the state. This is just, this is right. This is also how it works in America, where the leading universities are not public, but rather are organized as non-profit associations."

    But in Israel there is no tradition of business corporations that contribute, shall we say, NIS 50,000,000 to the Faculty of the Humanities or the department of Jewish history at one of the universities.

    Prof. Ciechanover: "Even if such a corporation could be found, I don't see this as the desired solution. Three national matters in Israel - education, health, and security - must be the responsibility of the State. These are the foundation stones of our existence here; the State of Israel cannot entrust education to private hands. Who will fund the kindergartens and the high schools that are not, as is well-known, attractive targets for contributions? Our universities will not exist without a broad educational and academic infrastructure that only the state is capable of maintaining."

    Should we leave the universities outside the arena of the economic game?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "Not entirely. I do support the system of stipends and loans and rewarding members of the faculty according to their achievements, as none other than the Ministry of the Treasury proposed. I cannot accept a situation in which a faculty member who brings in research grants, draws attention [to his university], trains students, works publicly in the university, and is concerned about his community can receive in shekels, down to the last agora, the same salary as a member of the faculty who sits idly with his legs crossed and does nothing. Economic competition in certain fields in the universities is critical for moving the wheels of the system."

    No One with his Hand on the Rudder

    Prof. Yisrael Aumann is a Haredi Jew; Prof. Aharon Ciechanover describes himself as a religious Jew: "The only music that I listen to," he tells me, "is cantorial selections. I have a huge collection of them. I grew up in a home with a deep-rooted Jewish culture. I truly and honestly believe that we will not achieve success in physics if we do not also study Jewish philosophy and Jewish ethics and the history of the Jewish people. These things are interdependent."

    You could have "starred" in any university in the world. Why are you here?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "Because I was born here and I want to live in a Hebrew-speaking environment, in the State that I fought for and in which I believe-on account of the long history of my people - it is important to live. This country is the essence of my existence. My parents came to Israel as Jews from Poland because they wanted to establish a state in which no one would call them Zhid - a Jewish state in which they could live a free life. They knew what they were aiming for. But this is not necessarily true of all Israelis. Our internal cohesion is falling apart; the rifts are growing from within.

    "I grew up with clear values, and, to my sorrow, I see around me their steady erosion. At this juncture, we have lost sight of our goal, and have no one with his hand on the rudder."

    Are we at the edge of the abyss? Is Israel in danger?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "Yes, and if we do not regain our balance, we will cease to exist. I say this in very clear language: If we don't change, we will cease to exist. We will be uprooted from this place."

    Prof. Aumann: "I, too, am very pessimistic and depressed. We lack the will to exist, we lack the patience to exist. We lack Zionism with a capital "Z." We have turned into post-Zionists, to our own worst enemies. From my point of view, the blackest moment in the history of the State of Israel, and perhaps in the history of the Jews in the world, was the Tenth of Av 5765."

    The day that the evacuation from Gaza started:

    Prof. Aumann: "The day that the expulsion started was the blackest moment. This was an unjustified act, immoral, not strategic, not political. It wasn't anything. My people went mad - simply went mad."

    Why the people? Why not the leadership?

    Prof. Aumann: "Because the leadership is the product of the people; look at the last election results."

    Prof. Ciechanover: "Until a few months ago, I would not have agreed with Prof. Aumann. Today, even though I haven't changed my place on the political map, I have no choice but to agree with him. Last year, I was in favor of the idea of disengagement, which seemed to me to be an act of unilateral generosity towards the Palestinians. I hoped that they would respond to us in kind, but I was wrong: after the unilateral disengagement, we received only terror and more terror. The unilateral idea was bankrupt and at the same time the soap bubble [Kadima] that arose from its base went bankrupt. It is indeed still in power, but what is its message today? This party, and with it this entire government, doesn't have even a morsel of an agenda."

    What do you actually expect from the government?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "I expect the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense and all the ministers to wake up in the morning and ask themselves: After six months in office, what have we done to this country? Have we achieved even one objective that we set for ourselves and those who elected us? This is the moral minimum demanded of them. I wonder: how can they live with the failure that they created with their own hands?"

    You mean, why are they not ashamed?

    Prof. Ciechanover: "They are not ashamed because they don't care. They don't think about us. I look at them and I do not know what my future is in this country. I am very, very pessimistic and depressed."

    Prof. Aumann: "I am also pessimistic and depressed. But I have not forgotten that this is all our own fault - all our own fault."

    In this way the discussion between the two Prize winners, our most distinguished scientists, ended but was not concluded. They parted with a hug, and I saw tears mounting in the corners of their eyes.

    Forwarded by Team Carper

    Idiot Awards for 2004

    These people are actually allowed out in public --- without supervision!
    Number One Idiot of 2004 - I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control center.  Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants.  I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital.  She calmed down and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants.  I told her that she better bring her daughter into the emergency room right away. Here's your sign, lady.  Wear it with pride.
    Number Two Idiot of 2004 - Early this year, some Boeing employees on the airfield decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s.  They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home.  Shortly after they took it for a float on the river, they noticed a Coast Guard helicopter coming towards them.  It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator beacon that activated when the raft was inflated.  They are no longer employed at Boeing. Here's your sign, guys.  Don't get it wet; the paint might run.
    Number Three Idiot of 2004 - A true story out of San Francisco: A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote "this iz a stikkup.  Put all your muny in this bag" While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller's window.  So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo.  After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn't the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America.  Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, "OK" and left.  He was arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America. Don't bother with this guy's sign.  He probably couldn't read it anyway.
    Number Four Idiot of 2004 - A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all of the cash from the cash drawer.  After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf.  He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the cashier refused and said, because I don't believe you are over 21.  " The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn't believe him.  At this point, the robber took his driver's license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk.  The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the Scotch in the bag.  The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license.  They arrested the robber two hours later. This guy definitely needs a sign!
    Idiot Number Five of 2004 - A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers.  The first one shouted, "Nobody move!" When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him. This guy doesn't need a sign, he probably figured it out himself.
    Idiot Number Six of 2004 - Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly.  He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run.  So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window.  The cinder block bounced back and hit the would be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious.  It seems the liquor store window was made of Plexiglas.  The whole event was caught on videotape.  Oh, that smarts. Give him his sign.
    Idiot Number Seven of 2004 - Ann Arbor: The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 12:50 A.M., flashed a gun and demanded cash.  The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order.  When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast.  The man, frustrated, walked away.  Sign please.
    Please note that all of the above people are allowed to vote and have children!

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