I snapped this picture while on a walk in the good old summer time (sigh).
The clouds were hanging low over Franconia Notch between Lafayette and Cannon mountains.

Don't Believe Everything Advertised Widely on TV
FreeCreditReport.com is a Scam! ---

This isn’t the first time, but now the State of Florida Office of the Attorney General is investigating FreeCreditReport.com. You’ll notice I don’t link to the site. This site, run by credit reporting agency Experian is taking advantage of the ruling that anyone can receive a free annual credit report from each of the three major agencies. FreeCreditReport.com is not the website that offers free credit reports in conjunction with this directive. It’s misleading, and here’s the fine print on the site:

When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don’t cancel your membership within the 30-day trial period, you will be billed $12.95 for each month that you continue your membership. If you are not satisfied, you can cancel at any time to discontinue the membership and stop the monthly billing; however, you will not be eligible for a pro-rated refund of your current month’s paid membership fee.

Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies and credit rating agencies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO
I also show you the legitimate place to go for a free credit report.

Tidbits on December 18, 2006
Bob Jensen

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Danes thought that they had a great solution to driver speed control until they found that it created gridlock --- http://5x5m.com/files/speedbandits/
I'll have a Danish to go please!

Video: Nuckin Futs 2006 Year in Review Children's Musical --- http://www.jibjab.com/nuckin_futs
This video follows a video commercial.

Video: One Laptop per Child --- http://www.technologyreview.com/

Stories of Professors at ThePhantomProf Blog --- http://phantomprof.blogspot.com/2006/12/post-it.html

For a spirited defense of the life of the mind, intellectual rigor, meaningful debate and facial hair, we recommend video of Wednesday night’s “Colbert Report,” which featured an interview with John Sexton, president of New York University. Video is available in the show’s archive of “celebrity interviews.” (From Inside Higher Ed on December 8, 2006)

20 voices [Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire] --- http://www.twentyvoices.com/

AISH (Jewish Spiritual) --- http://www.aish.com/

The (New) National World War One Museum (includeds video introduction) --- http://www.libertymemorialmuseum.org/
Review by Mark Yost, "Why Kansas City ? The Great War gets an official museum of its own," The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2006 ---

Education Secretary Margaret M. Spellings is among the stars of a White House video to celebrate Christmas --- http://www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/2006/barneycam.html

Happy Holidays from Ernst & Young --- http://happyholidays.ey.com/national/bzecards2.nsf/eCard_candles_7.html

President Bush:  Hu's on First --- http://youtube.com/watch?v=WHvFqvd1xg0

Drunk (in the early morning) Danny Devito Bashes Bush on NBC's "The View" ---

How do I buy online movies and what can I do with them? ---

Dave Berry's 2006 commencement address at the University of Miami ---  Click here to view the archived webcast
Fourteen Things That It Took Me Over 50 Years To Learn, by Dave Barry --- http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/pearls.html

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

7. Never lick a steak knife.

8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

13. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

14. Your friends love you anyway.

Thought for the day: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

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

Holiday Music (Free Downloads) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm#Holiday

From Jessie
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Bob Jensen's Rusty Chevrolet --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/chev.htm
Christmas in Dixie (not in New Hampshire) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/dixie.htm
Blue Christmas --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/bluejovi.htm
Jingle Bell Rock (Randy Travis) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/jinglebellrock.htm
Jingle Bells (Dean Martin) --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/jinglebells.htm 
Please Come Home for Christmas --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/bellsjovi.htm
Redneck 12 Days of Christmas --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/redneck.htm
The Christmas Song --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/poem.htm
Silent Night --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/reminder.htm

From Janie
I Want Elvis for Christmas --- http://www.jbreck.com/elvischristmas.html
Christmas With Elvis --- http://www.jbreck.com/cmashomeelvis.html
I could not get the audio to work on this ne one from Janie --- http://mjbreck.com/elvisgracelandchristmasbyjbw.html
Many more Elvis selections that do work --- http://jbreck.com/myelviswebsite.html

The Best Holiday Jazz CDs Ever, from WDUQ --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6594501

Great Big Band Holiday Music --- http://www.lulliloodesign.com/figaro_tunes.htm

Great Orchestration of the 12 Days of Christmas --- http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=1017129949136

Santa's Dreaming of a White Christmas --- http://badaboo.free.fr/merryxmas.swf

Mary Do You Know  --- http://www.youtube.com/v/A1oHJR2g7Tw

The Best, Worst and Weirdest in Holiday CDs --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6527454

Mutter, Orkis Explore the Genius of Mozart --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6544360

Director's Cuts: Holiday Gift Picks for 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6527803

NPR Online Concerts --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5194329

Christian Pop Gets Metaphysical -- and Tuneful --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6551361

Digital Sheet Music Collection: University of Colorado http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/music/smp/index.html

Witty Tunes Are Jonathan Coulton's 'Thing' --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6603466

Ethan Ong The Drummer Drum prodigy and Youngest Busker in Singapore --- http://www.metacafe.com/watch/324123/ethan_ong_the_drummer/

Ernst & Young Accounting Firm Happy Days (Video) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmEp0PHHA80
This may secretly be a celebration of Happy Days brought about by Sarbanes.

Photographs and Art

Great Holiday Pictures --- http://jsmagic.net/emissarypage1a/

Capturing the 'Dark Side' of Ellis Island --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6600709

Wild Camels Run Amok in Australia's Outback --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6599903

Drawing a Woman from Scratch (with a whole lot of erasing) --- http://fcmx.net/vec/get.swf?i=003702

When the Taliban were driven from power in 2001, they left behind a broken country and an infamous act of destruction: reducing to rubble two monumental Buddhas that had stood for 1,500 years --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6616167

Nick Brandt Photography Gallery --- http://www.younggalleryphoto.com/photography/brandt/brandt.html

Nice foliage shots in the U.K. (you have to scroll down to find them) --- http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2006 November.htm

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

International Spy Museum --- http://www.spymuseum.org/
Also see "A prowl through the Spy Museum, by George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2006 --- Click Here

Free from Random House, The 100 Best Novels --- http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100bestnovels.html

Quotiki (quotations) --- http://www.quotiki.com/

One Sentence Stories --- http://www.onesentence.org/

New Poems by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) --- Click Here

Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce (1842 1914) --- Click Here 

Shatter Writer's Block --- http://www.writinginfo.org/Shatter-Writers-Block/409
Bob Jensen's writing helpers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob3.htm#Dictionaries

Booksellers Pick Their Holiday Favorites --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6593957

NPR Picks Holiday Favorites --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6582665

NPR Picks Holiday Books for Kids --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6631429

Books for Everyone on Your Holiday Gift List --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6589823

  • Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.
    Native American Code of Ethics
    --- http://eveningrain.com/Ethics.html

    They (9/11 Al Qaeda terrorists) were targeting those people I referred to as 'little Eichmanns.' These were legitimate targets.
    Ward Churchill at New College on December 6, 2006 --- http://www.newcollege.edu/
    Jensen Comment
    Yeah right! Over 3,000 deaths don't matter much according to Ward Churchill since, in his mind, the 9/11 kills were "legitimate targets" suffering from capitalistic excesses built and sins of  longtime dead ancestors they never met ---

    An ethnic studies professor from the University of Colorado, Ward Churchill, received a standing ovation last night from a crowd of more than 200 New School (an activist college in California) students after blaming the 2001 World Trade Center attacks on America's support of Israel and its sanctions against Iraq in 1996. In a two-hour speech at the New School titled "Sterilizing History: The Fabrication of Innocent Americans," delivered without notes, Mr. Churchill traced what he called a pattern of mass murder as American foreign policy from the time of the country's inception to the events of September 11, 2001, which he said the country...
    Annie Karni, "New School Students Cheer Ward Churchill Speech," New York Sun, December 12, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    Fiery speakers like Ward Churchill can expect standing ovations when they're preaching to their own choirs.

    Those who don't build must burn. It's as old as history and juvenile delinquence.
    Ray Bradbury, FAHRENHEIT 451

    The extreme left (they prefer to be called progressive) does seem to have abandoned any idea of creating a socialist utopia; today it is devoted solely to uncreative destruction.
    Opinion Journal, February 11, 2005
    Jensen Comment
    At least Karl Marx, Nozick, and Heilbroner had a visions

    The aim of the university is not to make ideas safe for students, but to make students safe for ideas.
    Clark Kerr as quoted by David Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-03-15-06.htm

    Islamic militants are using northern Pakistan to increase their ties with al-Qaeda and train suicide bombers as well as foreign fighters. All of this adds up to training that could easily translate into increased violence in Afghanistan next year. One of the clearest signs of al-Qaeda's influence in the area is the rising number of suicide bombings, a tactic that was not common before before 2001. One tribal leader says there are so many recruits willing to become suicide bombers that volunteers are sent home and told to wait their turn.
    Daniel Politi, "Death Becomes Him," Slate, December 11, 2006 --- http://www.slate.com/id/2155239/
    Jensen Comment
    Just goes to show you that one bird in hand is not worth 72 in the bush.

    I wanted to give you a heads-up on a story that will be running this Sunday, Dec. 17 (7PM ET/PT on CBS) on "60 MINUTES" about a long-secret German archive that houses a treasure trove of information on 17.5 million victims of the Holocaust. The archive, located in the German town of Bad Arolsen, is massive (there are 16 miles of helving containing 50 million pages of documents) and until recently, was off-limits to the public. But after the German government agreed earlier this year to open the archives, CBS News' Scott Pelley traveled there with three Jewish survivors who were able to see their own Holocaust records. It's an incredibly moving piece, all the more poignant in the wake of this week's meeting of Holocaust deniers in Iran. We're trying to get word out about the story to people who have a special interest in this subject. So we were hoping you'd consider sending out something to your listserv and/or posting something on your website. Further information will also be available on our website
    ( http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/08/60minutes/main13502.shtml  ) . . .
    December 16, 2006 email message from Naomi Ragen [nragen@netvision.net.il]

    Iran's President reaffirmed his intention to "eradicate" Israel
    "The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the president told a conference in Tehran on Wednesday, entitled The World without Zionism. "The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said. "As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran's revolutionary leader Ayat Allah Khomeini. His comments were the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official has called for Israel's eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at government rallies.
    "Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel off map; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the map," Al Jazeera --- http://english.aljazeera.net/news/archive/archive?ArchiveId=15816
    Also see "Holocaust conference begins in Iran," by Nasser Karimi, Boston Globe, December 12, 2006 --- Click Here

  • "
    The number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp could be about 2,007," Australian Frederick Toben told the conference, according to a Farsi translation of his remarks. "The railroad to the camp did not have enough capacity to transfer large numbers of Jews," said Toben, who was jailed in 1999 in Germany for casting doubt on the Holocaust.

    The two-day conference was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an apparent attempt to burnish his status as a tough opponent of Israel. The hard-line president has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Earlier this year, his government backed an exhibition of anti-Israel cartoons in a show of defiance after Danish cartoons caricaturing Islam's Prophet Muhammad were published in Europe, raising an outcry among Muslims.

    Organizers and participants touted the conference as a scholarly gathering aimed at discussing the Holocaust away from Western taboos and the restrictions imposed on scholars in Europe. In Germany, Austria and France, it is illegal to deny aspects of the Holocaust.

    Duke, a former Louisiana state representative, praised Ahmadinejad for his "courage" in holding a conference "to offer free speech for the world's most repressed idea: Holocaust revisionism."

    "In Europe, you can freely question, ridicule and deny Jesus Christ. The same is true for the Prophet Muhammad, and nothing will happen to you," Duke said. "But offer a single question of the smallest part of the Holocaust and you face prison."

    Also among participants were two rabbis and four other members of the group Jews United Against Zionism, who were dressed in the traditional long black coats and black hats of ultra-Orthodox Jews. The group rejects the creation of Israel on the grounds that it violates Jewish law.

    Rabbi Ahron Kohen urged participants not to deny the Holocaust. "If we say that this crime did not happen, it is a humiliation and insult to the victims," he said, according to a translation of his remarks.

    But he added that Zionists have used the Holocaust to "give legitimacy to their illegitimate project," the creation of Israel.

    Another participant, Robert Faurisson, has been convicted five times in France for denying crimes against humanity -- most recently last month, when he was fined for denying in an interview with Iranian TV that the Nazis meant to exterminate Jews.

  • The truth is as difficult to deny as it is to hide.
    Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_Guevara
    Jensen Comment
    The number 2,007 cited above is an accurate-sounding number in Iran but does not have any backing among world scholars. French scholar George Wellers was one of the first to use Nazi data on deportations to estimate the number killed at Auschwitz, arriving at 1.613 million dead, including 1.44 million Jews and 146,000 Poles. A larger study started around the same time by Franciszek Piper used time tables of train arrivals combined with deportation records to calculate 1.1 million Jewish deaths and 140,000-150,000 Polish victims, along with 23,000 Roma & Sinti (Gypsies). This number has met with "significant, though not complete" agreement among scholars. Additionally, untold thousands of homosexuals were also killed at Auschwitz.

    Iran's President Ahmadinejad is so damaging to Islamic credibility I sometimes wonder if he was not invented by Israel. However, Iran's nuclear threat to Israel is now so grave that Jewish factions are supporting Saudi Arabia's bid for nuclear technology on the Sunni side in the spreading civil war between  Sunni Islam and Iranian Shi'a Islam.

    Israeli officials this week made two painfully honest nuclear pronouncements. The first -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's indirect admission on Monday that Israel had nuclear weapons -- got the lion's share of attention. Another statement, however, was easily as interesting: On Wednesday Israeli officials publicly applauded Saudi Arabia's announcement that it and its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) neighbors intended to develop "peaceful nuclear energy." Why Jerusalem's endorsement? Because, as Israeli officials explained, these Arab nations' announcement was "directed against Iran." That is, it threatened to check Iran's bomb activities with a Sunni nuclear-weapons option.
    Henry Sololski, "Hair-Raising New World," The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2006; Page A20 --- Click Here

    A Canadian professor says he gladly accepted an invitation from Iran's hardline Islamist government to speak at an international conference (December 13) questioning the Holocaust. But Dr. Shiraz Dossa, a soft-spoken political science professor at Nova Scotia's St. Francis Xavier University, said he doesn't put himself in the same category as some of the "hacks and lunatics'' attending the event. The two-day gathering drew some of the world's most notorious Holocaust deniers, Nazi sympathizers and scholars such as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Dossa, the lone Canadian at the event, told The Globe and Mail he presented a paper about how the Holocaust has been used to justify anti-Islamic policies in the U.S. war on terror. The academic said no one pressured him to change his point of view, which he says has nothing to do with Holocaust denial. Dossa describes himself as an admirer of left-wing American scholar Noam Chomsky. He said the paper he presented was about the war on terrorism, and how the Holocaust plays into it. "Other people have their own points of view, but that (Holocaust denial) is not my point of view," he told The Globe.
    "Canadian prof shocked by Holocaust gathering," CTV, December 13, 2006 --- Click Here
    Also see "Professor’s Attendance at ‘Conference’ Stuns Canada," Inside Higher Ed, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/14/holocaust

    “My essential point is that the Jewish loss — which is, of course, a reality, and anyone who denies it is a lunatic — the focus here is on how the Holocaust is a political construct, distinct from the Jewish loss at the hands of the Nazis. And that political construct has been used to justify certain policies by people, some of whom are Zionists. And now that whole issue plays into the war on terrorism, which is essentially a war on Islam,” he told the newspaper.
    Scott Jaschik quoting Shiraz Dossa (Canadian professor who was an invited speaker at Iran's Holocaust denial conference), Inside Higher Ed, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/14/holocaust 

    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau

    It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.

    Ever get a feeling that your stuff strutted off without you?

    It's great to be back in England. I feel like Jack The Ripper days are back. Nothing ever changes here.
    Oliver Stone at the British Comedy Award Ceremony. His bad-taste attempt at comedy was met with jeers and gasps of horror from the celebrity audience in light of the recent Suffolk murders.
    "Stone's Ripper joke shocks audience," RTE, December 14, 2006 ---http://www.rte.ie/arts/2006/1214/stoneo.html

    The New Orleans school system, re-created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is beginning to look like something designed by FEMA.
    Lisa Delpit and Charles Payne, "Katrina's Last Victims?" The Nation, December 14, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/docprem.mhtml?i=20070101&s=delpit

    We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system. This revolution may or may not make use of violence: it may be sudden or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can't predict any of that. But we do outline in a very general way the measures that those who hate the industrial system should take in order to prepare the way for a revolution against that form of society. This is not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the economic and technological basis of the present society.
    "Full Text: Unabomber's Manifesto," CBS5 San Francisco, November 28, 2006 --- http://cbs5.com/reference/local_story_332145319.html 

    Mexican lawlessness is reaching epidemic proportions. It is true that AMLO -- as the Mexican press calls the defeated PRD candidate -- is now mostly an unpopular annoyance even to those who voted for him. It is also true that if the PRD wants to remain a serious political party it has to show that it is willing to work within the system. But other violent actors who prefer the path of terror and extortion to gain power and resources are threatening national security. Some of the blame lies with Mr. Fox and his weak response to extreme political groups. Some of it lies with the U.S. demand for illegal drugs, which is fueling an ever more powerful organized-crime problem in a country ill-equipped to fight back.
    Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "It's High Noon in Mexico," The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2006; Page A13 --- Click Here

    How Terrorists Use Civilians for Cover and Gullible Media Exploitation
    The most persuasive evidence here is photographic, so we urge readers to access the report itself on the Web site of the American Jewish Congress
    (ajcongress.org). Hezbollah's headquarters in Aita al-Shaab, for instance, sits in the heart of the village. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's office and home are in a densely built neighborhood of Beirut. In the town of Qana--site of an Israeli bombing on July 30 that killed 28 and that Hezbollah's apologists were quick to label a "massacre"--an arms warehouse can be seen adjacent to a mosque. There are photographs of rockets in the back seats of cars, missile launchers adjacent to farm houses, storage bunkers hidden beneath homes. There is also a trove of before-and-after photography demonstrating the precision of most Israeli bombing.
    "Whose War Crimes? Evidence from Lebanon about how terrorists use civilians," The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009371

    " . . . there are a lot of good things that are happening that aren't covered and I think the drumbeat in the country from the media...is discouraging" as she hoped for "more balanced coverage" in the future.
    CyberAlert, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2006/cyb20061215.asp

    Congressman (Dennis Kucinich) from Cleveland explains an urgent need for human unity, human security and peace motivated him to run for President.
    Joshua Scheer, "What Makes Kucinich Run?" The Nation, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070101/scheer
    Jensen Comment
    Yeah right. His utterly hopeless candidacy more likely has more despicable motives.

    EVERYONE who laughed when the elfin Dennis Kucinich threw his hat in the ring to run for president in 2004 should realize why he smiles. He had 2,955,963 reasons to smile. That is how many bucks federal taxpayers gave his ridiculous campaign for president. Kucinich had no chance. Yet under the bizarre federal election rules, taxpayers had to give this fool $2,955,963 just to humor his vanity. Ralph Nader took $798,827 from taxpayers in 2004 to indulge his fantasy of being elected president. Consumers beware. I look for this demagogue to run again. Lyndon LaRouche is another likely candidate. Last...
    Don Surber, "Demagoguery earns Kucinich millions," Charlestown Mail, December 15, 2006 --- Click Here

    Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
    Kenneth Boulding (1910-1993) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Boulding

    Start Digging and Pave the Streets of the Earth With Gold
    Searching for a pot of gold? Try the center of the Earth. More than 99 percent of Earth's gold is missing—it all sank to the center of the planet billions of years ago. In fact, says geologist Bernard Wood of Macquarie University in Australia, there's enough gold in Earth's core to coat its surface in 1.5 feet of the stuff. How did it get there? Earth formed from a series of smaller planetesimals that crashed together over the course of 30 million to 40 million years. Wood deduced how much gold ought to be present in Earth's crust by comparing...
    Anne Wootten, "Earth's Inner Fort Knox," Discover Magazine, September 2006 --- http://www.discover.com/issues/sep-06/rd/innerfortknox/

    Start Digging on the Moon for Nuclear Fuel
    NASA's proposed 2024 moon base will be a steppingstone to Mars, but it may also be a mining outpost. The moon is an abundant source of helium-3, a potent fuel for next-generation nuclear reactors. Trouble is, China, India and Russia have their eyes on it too.
    John Lasker, "Race to the Moon for Nuclear Fuel," Wired News, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/space/0,72276-0.html?tw=wn_index_8

    The Best Science Fictions --- http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.12/start.html?pg=15
    By Aria Pearson, Wired Magazine, December 2006

    Fiction: If you fall into quicksand, you’ll be sucked under and die.
    Fact: You’ll only sink up to your waist.

    Fiction: Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes.
    Fact: It causes fatigue but no permanent damage.

    Fiction: Earth’s rotation causes bathtubs, sinks, and toilets to drain clockwise in the northern hemisphere, counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.
    Fact: They can go either way in either hemisphere. The shape of the basin and the direction of the incoming flow overwhelm the minuscule effect of planetary spin.

    Fiction: Benjamin Franklin’s kite was struck by lightning.
    Fact: The kite picked up electricity from the air, causing an arc between Franklin’s hand and a key tied to his end of the string.

    Fiction: A penny dropped from the top of a skyscraper can kill someone.
    Fact: It could never pick up enough velocity to kill, just to bang you up a little.

    Fiction: Swimming after you eat will cause cramps and lead to drowning.
    Fact: There is a very slight risk of cramps, but only for vigorous swimmers.

    Fiction: A drunken teenager can tip over a sleeping cow.
    Fact: It would take several semisober people and a paralyzed cow. Anyway, cows sleep lying down.

    Fiction: There’s a dark side of the moon.
    Fact: The entire lunar surface receives sunlight during the moon’s monthly orbit around Earth.

    Fiction: Swallowed chewing gum takes seven years to digest.
    Fact: Gum is not digested. It passes through the gastro-intestinal system, usually within 24 hours.

    Joy to the world
    I'm getting laid
    I'm getting laid tonight.
    We'll light the Yule log
    Deck the halls
    And then we'll play some
    Jingle balls.
    It's been a real long wait
    This is our second date
    It's Christmas Eve
    And I'm getting laid.

    Charlie Sheen to the tune of a famous Christian hymn, Two and a Half Men, December 11, 2006
    "AFA: 'Fornication' song requires network apology," by Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily, December 16, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53387
    Jensen Comment
    In addition to being sacrilegious, this illustrates how low prime time "family television shows" have sunk --- they should be X-Rated.

    More on Science Fiction
    Charlie Sheen is one of the most famous proponents of the 9/11 conspiracy

    Speaking to The Alex Jones Show on the GCN Radio Network, the star of current hit comedy show Two and a Half Men and dozens of movies including Platoon and Young Guns, Sheen elaborated on why he had problems believing the government's version of events. Sheen agreed that the biggest conspiracy theory was put out by the government itself and prefaced his argument by quoting Theodore Roosevelt in stating, "That we are to stand by the President right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
    "Actor Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story," PrisonPlanet, March 20, 2006 --- http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/march2006/200306charliesheen.htm

    Say What? An Ultraliberal Magazine Debunks the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
    The Reichstag example also holds a lesson for those who would dismiss the very notion of a conspiracy as necessarily absurd. It was perfectly reasonable to suspect the Nazis of setting the fire, so long as the evidence suggested that might have been the case. The problem isn't with conspiracy theories as such; the problem is continuing to assert the existence of a conspiracy even after the evidence shows it to be virtually impossible.
    "9/11: The Roots of Paranoia," by Christopher Hayes, The Nation, December 8, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061225/hayes

    According to a July poll conducted by Scripps News Service, one-third of Americans think the government either carried out the 9/11 attacks or intentionally allowed them to happen in order to provide a pretext for war in the Middle East. This is at once alarming and unsurprising. Alarming, because if tens of millions of Americans really believe their government was complicit in the murder of 3,000 of their fellow citizens, they seem remarkably sanguine about this fact. By and large, life continues as before, even though tens of millions of people apparently believe they are being governed by mass murderers. Unsurprising, because the government these Americans suspect of complicity in 9/11 has acquired a justified reputation for deception: weapons of mass destruction, secret prisons, illegal wiretapping. What else are they hiding?

    This pattern of deception has not only fed diffuse public cynicism but has provided an opening for alternate theories of 9/11 to flourish. As these theories--propounded by the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement--seep toward the edges of the mainstream, they have raised the specter of the return (if it ever left) of what Richard Hofstadter famously described as "the paranoid style in American politics." But the real danger posed by the Truth Movement isn't paranoia. Rather, the danger is that it will discredit and deform the salutary skepticism Americans increasingly show toward their leaders.

    The Truth Movement's recent growth can be largely attributed to the Internet-distributed documentary Loose Change. A low-budget film produced by two 20-somethings that purports to debunk the official story of 9/11, it's been viewed over the Internet millions of times. Complementing Loose Change are the more highbrow offerings of a handful of writers and scholars, many of whom are associated with Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Two of these academics, retired theologian David Ray Griffin and retired Brigham Young University physics professor Steven Jones, have written books and articles that serve as the movement's canon. Videos of their lectures circulate among the burgeoning portions of the Internet devoted to the cause of the "truthers." A variety of groups have chapters across the country and organize conferences that draw hundreds. In the last election cycle, the website www.911truth.org  even produced a questionnaire with pointed inquiries for candidates, just like the US Chamber of Commerce or the Sierra Club. The Truth Movement's relationship to the truth may be tenuous, but that it is a movement is no longer in doubt.

    Truth activists often maintain they are simply "raising questions," and as such tend to focus with dogged persistence on physical minutiae: the lampposts near the Pentagon that should have been knocked down by Flight 77, the altitude in Pennsylvania at which cellphones on Flight 93 should have stopped working, the temperature at which jet fuel burns and at which steel melts. They then use these perceived inconsistencies to argue that the central events of 9/11--the plane hitting the Pentagon, the towers collapsing--were not what they appeared to be. So: The eyewitness accounts of those who heard explosions in the World Trade Center, combined with the facts that jet fuel burns at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and steel melts at 2,500, shows that the towers were brought down by controlled explosions from inside the buildings, not by the planes crashing into them.

    If the official story is wrong, then what did happen? As you might expect, there's quite a bit of dissension on this point. Like any movement, the Truth Movement is beset by internecine fights between different factions: those who subscribe to what are termed LIHOP theories (that the government "let it happen on purpose") and the more radical MIHOP ("made it happen on purpose") contingent. Even within these groups, there are divisions: Some believe the WTC was detonated with explosives after the planes hit and some don't even think there were any planes.

    To the extent that there is a unified theory of the nature of the conspiracy, it is based, in part, on the precedent of the Reichstag fire in Germany in the 1930s. The idea is that just as the Nazis staged a fire in the Reichstag in order to frighten the populace and consolidate power, the Bush Administration, military contractors, oil barons and the CIA staged 9/11 so as to provide cause and latitude to pursue its imperial ambitions unfettered by dissent and criticism. But the example of the Reichstag fire itself is instructive. While during and after the war many observers, including officials of the US government, suspected the fire was a Nazi plot, the consensus among historians is that it was, in fact, the product of a lone zealous anarchist. That fact changes little about the Nazi regime, or its use of the fire for its own ends. It's true the Nazis were the chief beneficiaries of the fire, but that doesn't mean they started it, and the same goes for the Bush Administration and 9/11.

    The Reichstag example also holds a lesson for those who would dismiss the very notion of a conspiracy as necessarily absurd. It was perfectly reasonable to suspect the Nazis of setting the fire, so long as the evidence suggested that might have been the case. The problem isn't with conspiracy theories as such; the problem is continuing to assert the existence of a conspiracy even after the evidence shows it to be virtually impossible.

    Debunking The 9/11 Myths -Popular Mechanics examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy theories of September 11 --- http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1227842.html

    In India, abortion is not gender neutral
    Ten million girls have been killed by their parents in India in the past 20 years, either before they were born or immediately after, a government minister said on Thursday, describing it as a "national crisis" . . . A UNICEF report released this week said 7,000 fewer girls are born in the country every day than the global average would suggest, largely because female foetuses are aborted after sex determination tests but also through murder of new borns.
    Palash Kumar, "India has killed 10 mln girls in 20 years," Yahoo News, December 154 2006 ---     http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061214/india_nm/india280322

    How to check on a charity or church before you donate

    International Center for Not-for-Profit Law --- http://www.icnl.org/ 

    FTC Charity Fraud Site --- Search at http://www.ftc.gov/

    You can begin with IRS Form 990 disclosures, but these may be more misleading than helpful. You can access them from Guidestar at http://www.guidestar.org/index.jsp

    Guidestar also provides salary disclosures for top executives in the charity. However, funds can be diverted by cheats in other ways.

    Research Tools
    Analyst Reports
    Charity Check
    Grant Explorer
    Data Services
    Nonprofit Compensation Reports
    Salary Search

    "Giving Freely—And Wisely:  One site names preachers who may be misusing money and suggests that you 'prayerfully' consider giving to other ministries instead," Jane Bryant Quinn, Newsweek, December 18, 2006, Page 51 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16127630/site/newsweek/

    Unfortunately, you can't always believe what the (IRS Form) 990 says. It's supposed to show how much the nonprofit spends on actual services, as opposed to fund-raising and administration. But the law isn't much enforced. In a report covering part of the 1990s, the General Accounting Office found that 64 percent of public charities claimed to have zero—zero!—fund-raising expenses. Do you believe that? Neither do I.

    Some of the rating services adjust for these problems. Uncharitably, they often slam each other's methods while touting their own. I'm a civilian in these wars, so my advice is to look for good grades from every source. Start your research here:

    1. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org). It currently posts reports on more than 900 nonprofits, testing them by a number of standards including good governance. About 65 percent of them pass. The rest fail, or refuse to be evaluated (a bad sign, no matter what excuse the charity gives).

    2. American Institute of Philanthropy (CharityWatch.org). It's the toughest of the bunch, rating more than 500 charities on a scale of A+ down to F. Because it disregards certain, potentially suspect, expenses and donations, it fails some nonprofits that the other raters approve. Readers of this column can get its latest Charity Rating Guide free from AIP, P.O. Box 578460, Chicago, IL 60657.

    3. CharityNavigator.org rates 5,100 nonprofits on a scale of zero to four stars. This site draws only from a nonprofit's latest 990 form, which could mislead. But I like its Top Ten lists, such as 10 Charities Overpaying Their For-Profit Fund-Raisers.

    4. MinistryWatch.com rates more than 500 evangelical groups on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. It's an ardent advocate for financial disclosure. The site names preachers who may be misusing money and suggests that you "prayerfully" consider other ministries instead. Withholding that advice, says MinistryWatch.com, would be "tantamount to condoning sin." Hear, hear.

    5. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (Ecfa.org) accredits Evangelical churches and charities based on such standards as audited financial reports and ECFA's own field reviews. If your group hasn't joined (or is on the lists of those that left) you should ask why. There's no comparable service for Jewish, Muslim or Catholic organizations.

    You'll find other sources. GuideStar.org gives no ratings, just access to 990s for nearly 700,000 charities. Pennsylvania's Department of State lists nonprofits that ran into trouble there. They may be fund-raising in other states.

    Still, most people donate simply because someone asks them to, says William Meehan, chair of Philanthropic Research, parent of GuideStar. Charity ratings haven't had much impact, because they're flawed and not enough people follow them. Besides, the ratings don't help you choose among similar charities. For that, you need to know how well they do their jobs. That's the next step—and a new Web site should help it along. Watch for GreatNonprofits.org, launching next spring. People familiar with specific charities—clients, donors, staff and volunteers—will be able to post opinions there, for you to read before you decide to give.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on reporting fraudulent charities are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#CharityFrauds

    Do hybrid vehicles (today, at least) appear to be another feel good/do nothing hoax?

    Comparisons of Hybrid Fuel Saving Automobiles --- http://avt.inl.gov/pdf/hev/sae_gov_ind_may_2005_hevs.pdf

    It's beginning to look like a hoax --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1752922/posts

    The drop in performance with air conditioning is considerable. Maybe a Marin County, CA or Cambridge, MA granola cruncher and live without A/C, but in the Sunbelt we cannot. Driving around in 90+ weather with the windows down won’t cut it.

    Given that the acclaimed fuel efficiency of hybrids is much less with the air on, I wondered how they compared with standard vehicles. Using Edmunds.com, I made a few direct comparisons. This is interesting stuff…

    2003 CIVIC...

    2003 Civic Hybrid
    Air Off: 47 MPG
    Air On: 36 MPG

    2003 Civic LS Auto 4 Cyl.
    City: 29 MPG
    Hwy: 38 MPG
    Avg: 33.5 MPG

    2005 ACCORD...

    2005 Accord Hybrid
    Air Off: 29 MPG
    Air On: 24 MPG

    2005 Accord LX Auto 4 Cyl.
    City: 26 MPG
    Hwy: 34 MPG
    Avg: 30 MPG

    2005 Accord LX Auto 6 Cyl.
    City: 21 MPG
    Hwy: 30 MPG
    Avg: 25.5 MPG

    2005 SILVARADO...

    2005 Silvarado 2WD Hybrid
    Air Off: 16 MPG
    Air On: 19 MPG

    2005 Silvarado 2WD Hybrid
    City: 16 MPG
    Hwy: 19 MPG
    Avg: 17.5 MPG

    2005 ESCAPE...

    2005 Escape 2WD Hybrid
    Air Off: 25 MPG
    Air On: 32 MPG

    2005 Escape 2WD 3.0L
    City: 20 MPG
    Hwy: 25 MPG
    Avg: 22.5 MPG

    I compared the hybrid fuel savings with air on to the conventional vehicle’s city/highway average. The Civic and Escape hybrids each got a whopping 2.5 MPG better than the conventional vehicles. The Accord and Silvarado hybrids performed worse!

    Civic: Hybrid +2.5 MPG
    Accord 4Cyl: Hybrid -6 MPG
    Accord 6 Cyl: Hybrid -1.5 MPG
    Silvarado: Hybrid -1.5 MPG
    Escape: Hybrid +2.5 MPG

    In some parts of the country, people may not need air conditioning. Where the air is kept on most of the year, the hybrids aren’t such a good deal. In fact, they may get worse fuel efficiency. And we haven’t even discussed the energy cost to recycle the batteries every eight years.

    National security costs hidden in every barrel of oil
    In his new book, Lives Per Gallon, former secretary of the California EPA Terry Tamminen examines the health, environmental and national security costs hidden in every barrel of oil. Wired News interview by John Gartner.
    John Gartner, "The Pernicious Price of Petroleum," Wired News, December 13, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/autotech/0,72266-0.html?tw=wn_index_29

    Google Plants Solar Trees
    The search giant joins a growing trend by landscaping its headquarters' parking lots with pole-mounted panels that provide shade and generate clean power in one fell swoop.
    Marty Graham, "Google Plants Solar Trees," Wired News, December 13, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72292-0.html?tw=wn_index_32

    Corporate Monopoly:  Radio Is Wrecked--But It Can Be Repaired
    A handful of homogenized music formats now dominates the airwaves. Jazz, the classics, folk and new rock are hard to find. Listeners are tuning out. John Nichols reports on a new study by musicians and fans that documents how corporate consolidation is killing American radio--and how the FCC can fix it.
    John Nichols, "Radio Is Wrecked--But It Can Be Repaired," The Nation, December 15, 2006 ---

    The knowledge economy of Europe --- http://www.theworkfoundation.com/Assets/PDFs/KE_Europe.pdf
    (Including how Europe compares with the U.S. in terms of the knowledge economy.)

    Native American Code of Ethics --- http://eveningrain.com/Ethics.html

    Saudi Arabia's Method for Terminating Corruption Investigations
    Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has said he takes full responsibility for the decision to abandon an investigation into alleged corruption and bribery. The decision to abandon a two-year corruption inquiry into BAE Systems came after Saudi Arabia suggested it might cancel an order for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets from BAE Systems.
    "Blair defends Saudi arms decision," Al Jazeera, December 16, 2006 ---

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

    EU leaders still divided on future
    European Union leaders have remained far from united about the future shape of the union, set to grow to 27 members when Bulgaria and Romania join on January 1. On the final day of a summit, there were still divisions about further expansion beyond that date and about whether and how to revive a stalled EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters.
    "EU leaders still divided on future," Al Jazeera, December 15, 2006 ---

    Taxation of Dividends Creates European Union Stir
    The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI) said that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling this week on the UK dividends case creates issues for other European countries, including Ireland, which have a similar system of taxation of dividends to that in the UK. The ECJ ruled on the principles of freedom of establishment and freedom of movement of capital in relation to the UK dividends system. See further details in our full news item.
    Andy Lymer, "ECJ DIVIDENDS CASE CREATES ISSUES FOR IRELAND," AccountingEducation.com, December 14, 2006 --- http://accountingeducation.com/index.cfm?page=newsdetails&id=144069

    True deficit: $3.5 trillion:  Analyst says coming Treasury report will document 'unsustainable' pace
    A report scheduled to be released by the Treasury Department tomorrow is expected to show the true deficit in the
    Bush administration's 2006 federal budget to be an astounding $3.5 trillion in the red, not $248.2 billion as previously reported.
    Jerome R. Corsey, "True deficit: $3.5 trillion," WorldNetDaily, December 14, 2006 ---

    Johns Hopkins Gets a Separate B-School
    What's better than one Carey B-school? How about another one? The same person who endowed the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State has done it again, this time at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins officials said Dec. 5 that the school received a $50 million donation from trustee emeritus William Polk Carey to go toward the creation of the university's first separate business school. Carey is chairman of New York real estate investment firm W.P. Carey & Co.
    Julie Gordon, "Johns Hopkins Gets a Separate B-School," Business Week, December 5, 2006 --- http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/dec2006/bs20061205_466430.htm?link_position=link4
    Jensen Comment
    What a tough challenge! Can you imagine trying to hire a new business school faculty from scratch? It is absolutely certain that Johns Hopkins will want prestigious faculty. It will be interesting to see who they snare. About three weeks ago I flew into Baltimore and took a limo down to Crystal City, Virginia. I was truly impressed by the number of trees in full foliage. Our leaves blew off the trees over six weeks ago.

    In spite of legislation and voter mandates, universities will always have race-based affirmative action

    As we wrote at the time, "a cynic might conclude that the decisions mean universities can still discriminate as long as they're not too obvious about it." That is exactly what Wayne State is doing. Its new law school admission guidelines, unveiled last week, avoid mention of race and other preference criteria explicitly banned by Prop 2. Instead, applicants will be invited to describe their family's socio-economic status and educational history, past experiences of discrimination, any foreign languages spoken at home, etc.
    "The Racial Runaround The University of Michigan isn't accepting voters' rejection of affirmative action," The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2006 --- http://opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110009387

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

    The press is an evil for which there is no remedy. Liberty depends upon freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

    "The Media Is in Need of Some Mending," by Peter R. Kann, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2006; Page A18 --- Click Here

    At its best news informs and enlightens the citizens of a free society and thereby safeguards and strengthens our democracy. At its worst -- dishonest, unfair, irresponsible -- the media has potential to erode the public trust on which its own success depends and to corrode the democratic system of which it is so indispensably a part. So, let me touch on 10 current trends in the mass media that ought to disturb us.

    The blurring of the lines between journalism and entertainment. Journalism that puts too high a priority on entertaining is almost destined to distort and mislead. Compounding this confusion is a diffusing definition of "journalist." When political operatives moonlight at moderating news shows, when people alternate between being political editors and political consultants, when celebrity newspeople pocket $20,000 fees speaking at corporate conventions while criticizing congressman for conflicts of interest -- we jumble public perceptions of newspeople as well as news.

    The blurring of lines between news and opinion. Newspapers have a format that helps maintain the distinction. The Internet, TV and most magazines have neither that format nor that tradition. The result is a blending of news and views. The two are not ingredients to mix together for a tastier meal, they are different courses. Part of the problem here lies in fashionable new philosophies that argue there are no basic values of right and wrong, that news is merely a matter of views. It's a dangerous philosophy for our society and a dagger at the heart of genuine journalism.

    The blending of news and advertising, sponsorships or other commercial relationships. The resulting porridges may be called "advertorials" or "infomercials"; they may be special sections masquerading as news, news pages driven by commercial interests, or Web pages where everything somehow is selling something. Without clear distinctions between news and advertising, readers or viewers lose confidence in the veracity of a news medium. And advertisers lose the business benefit of an environment of trust.

    The problems and pitfalls inherent in pack journalism. Individually, most reporters are decent, dedicated, fair-minded people. But the press, en masse, tends to lose its common sense and its sense of fairness and independence and what we see all too often is the spectacle of a pack of hounds in pursuit of a quarry. We frequently see this phenomenon in political reporting, where the faintest whiff of scandal, or even of weakness, can send the pack in pursuit. At its worst, the pack, not finding a real problem, proclaims the "perception" of one and this perception becomes self-fulfilling.

    The issue of conflict and context. On most issues most Americans are not on polar extremes. On abortion, for example, most seek a sensible center. Where is that center reflected in media coverage that mainly portrays rabid feminists or irate pro-life activists? Balance is not achieved by the talk show format of two extremists yelling at each other. And how many of us recognize our own communities from their depiction on local TV news shows -- a nonstop montage of mayhem, murder, rape, arson, child molestation and more?

    The exaggerated tendency toward pessimism. Just look back a few years over much of the media coverage of "American competitiveness." All those news magazine covers on the coming "Japanese Century." And along with it, all the pessimism about the ability of U.S. industry to compete globally. It was nonsense. Similarly, it's one thing -- and an appropriate one -- for the press to probe particular instances of political corruption. It's quite another thing to jump to the cynical conclusion that our political process, and all politicians, are corrupted -- that "they all do it." They don't, and they aren't. Skepticism and criticism are essential to the media's role; reflexive pessimism is not.

    The growing media fascination with the bizarre, the perverse and the pathological -- John Mark Karr journalism. Such so-called journalism helps instantly legitimize crackpot ideas, deviant behavior, or alleged victimization in our society. My point is not to argue for "good news" vs. "bad news," but to ask whether much of this amounts to news at all?

    Social orthodoxy, or political correctness. These are reflected in a media whose job is not to parrot prevailing fashions, but to question, probe and thereby challenge them. Businessmen are not, by definition, greedy, and environmentalists, by definition, saintly. Third World poverty is not, by definition, a result of overpopulation as opposed to inane economic policies. And so on.

    The media's short attention span. As the press hops from Baghdad to Beirut, Natalee Holloway to Valerie Plame, Super Bowls to Super Tuesdays, it justifiably can blame some combination of the nature of the news and the short attention span of the public. The public, meanwhile, bombarded and bewildered can blame a fickle and shallow press. There are too many instant celebrities. Too many two-day crises. Too many "defining moments" from people in search of instant history. In a world where everything is considered critical, nothing needs to be taken very seriously.

    The matter of power. The press is at least partially responsible for greater public skepticism toward traditional institutions in America. But the truth, not lost on our public, is that the press is a large and powerful institution, too: "60 Minutes" is more powerful than almost all of the subjects it exposes. This newspaper, arguably, has more influence on national economic policy than do most corporations. Networks are owned by giant industrial corporations, magazines by entertainment conglomerates, and most newspapers by national chains. Given these realties, we cannot plausibly pretend to be a David out there smiting Goliaths and expect the public to believe it.

    Mr. Kann, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, is chairman of Dow Jones.

    What is IBM's new super computer called Deep Thunder?

    "Personalized Weather Forecasts: An IBM supercomputer forecasts weather down to a one-kilometer resolution," by Duncan Graham-Rowe, MIT's Technology Review, December 12, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/17885/

    IBM has launched a new weather service called Deep Thunder that can predict the rain, the wind, and temperature conditions down to a one-kilometer resolution. In time, IBM researchers say they should even be able to nail the resolution down to individual streets.

    The idea is to provide weather-sensitive businesses in metropolitan areas with information that's more accurate than what government agencies are capable of providing, says Lloyd Treinish, a researcher at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center, in Yorktown Heights, NY.

    At a local submetropolitan level, the weather really can vary quite significantly, says Treinish. Yet typical forecasts will often slap a single simplistic symbol, such as the sun, a cloud, or a snowflake, on an area representing a small city.

    A huge number of businesses really depend on accurate weather forecasts, says Stephen Lord, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Environmental Modeling Center, in Camp Springs, MD. Transportation, energy distribution, shipping, and even sporting events are all at the mercy of the weather, he says. Indeed, as much as $1 trillion worth of the U.S. economy is weather sensitive, says Treinish. By providing more-detailed forecasts, IBM hopes to help businesses streamline their operations and save money.

    For example, local municipal services such as snowplowing could be deployed more efficiently with more-detailed information about precisely where snow will fall. Similarly, by being more prepared, utility companies could better manage energy demand and better cope with outages caused by severe weather. Even airports and postal services would benefit: they could plan and schedule operations around weather conditions.

    Government agencies, such as the National Weather Service (NWS), are currently unable to provide the same level of detail. This is partly because they don't have the technical resources, but it's also because they are mandated to offer a uniform level of service across the nation, preventing them from providing higher resolutions for some areas and not others. Even at a metropolitan level, where local meteorological services try to improve on NWS forecasts by factoring in local measurements and conditions, the resolution is rarely much better than eight kilometers, says Treinish.

    When combined, all these factors represent a gap in the market that companies like IBM could fill by tailoring their services to individual businesses. "We want to think about the information in relation to solving particular business problems," says Treinish.

    Continued in article

    Deep Thunder --- http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/deepthunder/

    The FAQ answers about Deep Thunder are at http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/deepthunder/faq.html 

    What is most important is to scroll down the above FAQ page to view the amazing graphics.

    Jensen Comment
    To see the limited examples now available, I clicked on the "Try It Now" link. After I agreed to terms and conditions, a map showing three metropolitan areas appeared. I tried it for Kansas City. Then I chose President Truman's birthplace in Independence, Missouri. Instructions are fairly detailed.

    If you're interested in news about related IBM alphaWorks technologies, probably the best thing to do is create a personalized RSS feed at http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/rss

    What struck me is how this supercomputing technology may be expanded to services other than weather reports. Within each square kilometer we may one day get reports on entertainment, real estate development, local government initiatives, business services, traffic reports, museums, parks, crime reports, etc. Eventually there may even be investment reports, accounting data in XBRL markups, etc. You might even be able to peer, God forbid, into my front window and watch Bob Jensen in long underwear typing out these Tidbits while looking over the snow at this morning's spectacular sunrise and dreaming of a Deep Thunder forecast of summer's wild roses.

    Bob Jensen's threads on travel and weather are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm

    December 12, 2006 message from David Raggay [draggay@TSTT.NET.TT]

    Any one aware of any outstanding train the trainer programs?



    December 12, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hi David,

    I personally am turned off by some of these so-called train-the-trainer programs and speakers who are long on form and shallow on substance, particularly those who sometimes receive over $10,000 for a presentation on the latest Harvard Business Review fads. The worst presentations, in my viewpoint, are some of those hired for executive conferences, AACSB programs, and on rare occasions AAA plenary sessions (there was a flood of people streaming out early from one of these plenary sessions at the annual meetings in August 2004.)

    If you really want to pursue this type of thing you might contact Chad Herman at Carnegie Mellon University. He’s a specialist in Business Communication --- http://homepage.mac.com/chadhermann/iblog/

    Keeping in mind that top teachers are not always the best presenters, I would still try to study in some way professors who are deemed truly outstanding teachers. Some may have helpful Websites. Some may be willing to share thoughts with you (us?) if approached diplomatically. Some may even appear at a program sponsored by you down at Trinidad.

    Business Week attempted to identify the top teachers in business schools --- My Favorite Professor

    An accounting winner was Joe Ben Hoyle at the University of Richmond according to Business Week, September 20, 2006 --- Click Here
    Also see http://oncampus.richmond.edu/~jhoyle

    I previously mentioned the popularity of accounting professor Merle Hopkins at the University of Southern California. He also is rated a "Favorite Professor" by Business Week.

    Edward Hums at Notre Dame is an accounting "Favorite Professor."

    C.J. Skender at the University of North Carolina is an accounting "Favorite Professor."
    (He cheats by handing out candy bar bribes.)

    And my personal favorite is Amy Dunbar at the University of Connecticut (tax). She can do it all --- live lectures and online. She’s also a veteran user of education technologies.

    Things I bet you did not know Google can do for you

    December 10, 2006 message from Glen Gray [glen.gray@CSUN.EDU]

    There is a great little article at http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=675528&rl=1  that outlines many of the special searches you can do on www.google.com 

    Glen L. Gray, PhD, CPA
    Dept. of Accounting & Information Systems
    College of Business & Economics California State University,
    Northridge Northridge, CA 91330-8372 818.677.3948


    Google is a great search engine, but it's also more than that. Google has tons of hidden features, some of which are quite fun and most of which are extremely useful— if you know about them. How do you discover all these hidden features within the Google site?
    See http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=675528&rl=1

    How KB Home CEO's pay went through the roof
    KB Home may be the fifth-largest U.S. home builder, but it was No. 1 when it came to pay for its chief executive. Over the last three years, former CEO Bruce Karatz made $232.6 million in compensation.
    Kathy M. Kristof and Annette Haddad, LA Times, December 17, 2006 --- http://www.latimes.com/services/site/premium/access-registered.intercept

    Jensen Comment
    I'd be more impressed if KB homes bought back the fundamentally-flawed cracked foundations of all those defective homes built in Texas --- http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0122380524478.html?12

    Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#OutrageousCompensation

    Auto and Truck Repair and Advice --- http://www.econofix.com/
    (includes a module on how to listen for problems)

    Google added historic map overlays to its free interactive online globe of the world to provide views of how places have changed with time.
    "Google Earth maps history," PhysOrg, November 14, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news82706337.html

    Google Earth --- http://earth.google.com/

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

    "Credit Card 101: Advice Before Shopping," AccountingWeb, November 22, 2006 ---
    Repeated in this edition of Tidbits because it is so important!!!

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

    Parent Resource Page for Daycare Centers --- http://www.fccimn.com/parentresource.htm

    "How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century," by Claudia Wallis and Sonja Steptoe, Time Magazine Cover Story, December 10, 2006 --- Click Here

    Right now we're aiming too low. Competency in reading and math--the focus of so much No Child Left Behind (NCLB) testing--is the meager minimum. Scientific and technical skills are, likewise, utterly necessary but insufficient. Today's economy demands not only a high-level competence in the traditional academic disciplines but also what might be called 21st century skills. Here's what they are:

    Knowing more about the world. Kids are global citizens now, even in small-town America, and they must learn to act that way. Mike Eskew, CEO of UPS, talks about needing workers who are "global trade literate, sensitive to foreign cultures, conversant in different languages"--not exactly strong points in the U.S., where fewer than half of high school students are enrolled in a foreign-language class and where the social-studies curriculum tends to fixate on U.S. history.

    Thinking outside the box. Jobs in the new economy--the ones that won't get outsourced or automated--"put an enormous premium on creative and innovative skills, seeing patterns where other people see only chaos," says Marc Tucker, an author of the skills-commission report and president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Traditionally that's been an American strength, but schools have become less daring in the back-to-basics climate of NCLB. Kids also must learn to think across disciplines, since that's where most new breakthroughs are made. It's interdisciplinary combinations--design and technology, mathematics and art--"that produce YouTube and Google," says Thomas Friedman, the best-selling author of The World Is Flat.

    Becoming smarter about new sources of information. In an age of overflowing information and proliferating media, kids need to rapidly process what's coming at them and distinguish between what's reliable and what isn't. "It's important that students know how to manage it, interpret it, validate it, and how to act on it," says Dell executive Karen Bruett, who serves on the board of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a group of corporate and education leaders focused on upgrading American education.

    Developing good people skills. EQ, or emotional intelligence, is as important as IQ for success in today's workplace. "Most innovations today involve large teams of people," says former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine. "We have to emphasize communication skills, the ability to work in teams and with people from different cultures."

    Can our public schools, originally designed to educate workers for agrarian life and industrial-age factories, make the necessary shifts? The Skills commission will argue that it's possible only if we add new depth and rigor to our curriculum and standardized exams, redeploy the dollars we spend on education, reshape the teaching force and reorganize who runs the schools. But without waiting for such a revolution, enterprising administrators around the country have begun to update their schools, often with ideas and support from local businesses. The state of Michigan, conceding that it can no longer count on the ailing auto industry to absorb its poorly educated and low-skilled workers, is retooling its high schools, instituting what are among the most rigorous graduation requirements in the nation. Elsewhere, organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Asia Society are pouring money and expertise into model programs to show the way.

    What It Means to Be a Global Student

    Continued in article

    A national survey of freshmen has found that what they most value in a college education is professional preparation, followed by academic quality and affordability. The survey was conducted by Eduventures, a consulting company.
    Inside Higher Ed, December 12, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/12/qt

    "The Failure of Critical Thinking," by John V. Lombardi, Inside Higher Ed, December 12, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/12/12/lombardi

    The current controversies over admission practices of elite public and private institutions illustrate what happens when we allow ourselves to fight about the wrong things. This lack of critical thinking begins with a false premise and continues with an attack on institutions that do not conform to the false premise. Sometimes, rather than pointing out the false premise, institutions and their leaders react defensively as if the false premise were correct. Both attacker and respondent in this circumstance fail the test of critical thinking.

    The error is usually at the beginning. Someone ( most recently the Education Trust, but the list of commentators who have taken the same tack is long) asserts that elite public universities should be admitting as many poor people as there are in the population of high school graduates in their states. Having asserted this erroneous notion, they compile data (that may also be flawed) using often unreliable methodologies, and issue a manifesto damning elite public universities because they don’t meet the original false premise. Rather than pointing out the error, some elite universities, sensing a politically correct risk, counter with data showing how much they do to recruit and subsidize the poor people who want to come to their university.

    All this is not very helpful in addressing issues of access and affordability. We do indeed have to pay attention to the possibility that some graduates of high school who have the preparation and interest might be priced out of an opportunity to acquire a quality higher education, either by virtue of a high net cost of attendance or by the imposition of admissions standards that less affluent students find difficult to meet. This, however, is not a problem that belongs to elite public or private universities alone but is a challenge faced by all the providers of higher education in America. To focus on elite institutions is to make some pernicious and inaccurate assumptions about all the other institutions of higher education.

    If we assume that everyone should have an equal opportunityto attend an elite public or private institution (since both are heavily subsidized by taxpayers), then we must also assume that attendance at a non-elite public or private institution represents an unsatisfactory and therefore unequal outcome for a student. If the community colleges, state colleges, non-flagship state institutions, and many non-elite private colleges represent an unsatisfactory and inequitable opportunity, compared to what we call elite institutions, that would seem to require us to assume that they do a poor job of educating students; that the results of their educational efforts are second rate; and that anyone who attends such places is sure to be deficient upon graduation. This kind of thinking may reflect the snobbery of some elite groups who can’t imagine a good education coming from a campus of the California State University system, or a fine education at a combination of Greenfield Community College and Westfield State College in Massachusetts. Such an assumption also reflects a profound ignorance about the actual academic performance of the students who graduate from these “non-elite” institutions.

    The notion of “elite institution” deserves some attention. We who live and work in institutions labeled elite have every reason to accept the premise that only an education in our remarkable places is worth having even if we can present little evidence to demonstrate that our elite characteristics result in higher performance after graduation. Research that attempts to demonstrate the higher value of elite compared to non-elite education seems to indicate that while some people may benefit from instruction at a small private elite college, most students do just about as well after graduation, all other things being equal, whether they go to elite or non-elite institutions.

    The elite status of an institution comes from its ability to spend more money than institutions deemed “non-elite.” These expenditures do indeed make a different institution. For example, a state flagship institution may have its faculty teaching only half time, assigning the other half time to research. The student activities supported by the elite institution may be more elaborate, the residential spaces more elegant, the quality of the buildings and other facilities more impressive, the student recreation center more comprehensive, and the intercollegiate sports program more nationally visible. These amenities define elite status for undergraduates, and many assume that the amenities reflect academic quality. Students and their parents like these amenities, they ask about them when they visit campus, and they appear willing to pay a premium for the opportunity to participate in the residential life of an elite university. Still, the data that would tell us that the students really learn more and will do much better after graduation as a result of these amenities is not very persuasive.

    If we figure the cost of attendance at one of these elite institutions and compare it to the cost of attending a community college and state college, near where the student lives and where the student can hold down a job, we find that the best educational bargain by far is the community college-state college combination.

    When we worry about whether poor people can get access to college, some imagine that a zero cost of attendance will solve the problem. That doesn’t really work. Even when an institution pays for the tuition and fees, including room and board, for students below some income marker, these students still come up short an additional $10K to make up for the opportunity cost of living away from home and losing the income from a regular 12-month part-time or full-time job. The public cost of subsidizing elite education for all is very high for rather limited gains. And, of course, there are not enough spots in what we call elite institutions to accommodate all the deserving students of all income levels.

    Because space is limited, even in elite public institutions with enrollments over 40,000, the institutions select students based on various criteria, some related to geography, some related to ethnicity, some related to academic preparation, and some related to athletic skill. It would certainly be possible to add other criteria to this list to try and achieve an equal opportunity for all students. However, the only truly “fair” admission process would do what we suggested in an earlier Reality Check: fill the class using random selection from a pool composed of all high school graduates who meet the institution’s minimum admission criteria. There is a certain simplistic charm to this notion.

    Continued in article

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

    Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students --- http://www.writing.eng.vt.edu/

    Novel Ideas aids for writers (with audio) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6484932

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

    Helpers for Managing a Restaurant
    Restaurant Doctor --- http://www.restaurantdoctor.com/index.html

    Bob Jensen's online training links are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm#Training

    DealBook is a financial news service produced by The New York Times.
    It is published daily, Monday-Friday, except on U.S. Market holidays and during the last week of the year. A daily digest of DealBook is also available via email, delivered before the market opens.
    The New York Times --- http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/

    Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm

    White Collar Crime Pays Even If You Get Caught
    (It's similar to arresting a Mafia boss in Italy)

    "Despite convictions, Rigases live in the lap of luxury," by Jerry Zremski, Buffalo News, December 3, 2006 --- http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20061203/1074150.asp

    Instead of facing immediate prison time, experts say Rigases might win a new trial.

    Nearly two and a half years after being convicted of bank fraud and other corporate crimes, former Buffalo Sabres owner John J. Rigas and his son Timothy remain comfortably at home in Coudersport, Pa., awaiting the results of their appeal.

    Meanwhile, many other executives who found themselves on the government's rap sheet in recent years - Andrew Fastow of Enron, Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco are all behind bars.

    What's more, lawyers close to the Rigas case and independent experts are now entertaining a possibility that, to trial-watchers, seemed laughable at the time of the Rigases' conviction in July 2004: that they could win their appeal and thus face a retrial.

    While it's rare for a federal appeals court to reverse a criminal conviction, it's also rare for a court to take nearly six months to decide such a matter. Yet that's how long ago a three-judge appellate panel in New York City heard the Rigas appeal, and some lawyers think the long wait for a decision is indication that the court is taking the appeal very seriously.

    "Usually, you expect a decision in a case like this in about a month and a half," said Mark Mahoney, the Buffalo attorney who won freedom for one of the Adelphia Communications Corp. defendants, Michael Mulcahey. "The delay means they are taking more time because the issues here are somewhat knotty."

    Of course, the elaborate frauds concocted at Enron, WorldCom and Tyco are inherently knotty, but courts were able to unravel them sufficiently to make sure that the convicts in each case went to prison comparatively quickly.

    Ebbers was convicted in March 2005, lost an appeal and was sent to a federal prison in Louisiana in September.

    Fastow was sentenced in September and joined Ebbers in Oakdale Federal Detention Facility this month.

    And Kozlowski was sent to Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy within weeks after his 2005 conviction and even before he appealed.

    There's one thing that separates all those cases from the one that ensnared the Rigases, who ran Adelphia, a huge cable company based in Coudersport. Their appeal raises a serious legal question that even the judge in their trial agreed ought to be heard.

    At a little-noticed court hearing in July 2005, a month after he sentenced John Rigas to 15 years and Timothy Rigas to 20 years in prison, Judge Leonard B. Sand allowed them to go free on bail pending their appeal.

    He said he did so because the defense raised a novel argument: the government persuaded the jury to convict the Rigases of fraud and conspiracy based on their violations of generally accepted accounting principles but never called an expert witness to explain what those principles are.

    At the hearing, Sand said he didn't necessarily buy that argument, but added it "is something that I can't call frivolous."

    Mahoney said "a lot of people felt it was generous" when Sand let the Rigases out on bail, because it's rare that people convicted in the federal courts win that sort of freedom.

    Denise O'Donnell, a former U.S. attorney in the Western District of New York, agreed.

    "There is a presumption against bail in the federal system, so the Rigases had a very high hurdle to overcome just to get released pending the appeal," she said.

    The fact that they were released shows that they "raised a substantive question of law" that could lead to the reversal of their conviction, O'Donnell added.

    Attorneys for the Rigases spelled out that question at a hearing before a three-judge federal appeals panel on June 13.

    Without an expert witness explaining accounting rules, "the jury was never put in a position to decide whether the Rigases' conduct was proper or improper," argued John Nields, the lawyer for Timothy Rigas.

    Richard Owens, the prosecutor in the case, countered by saying the government didn't want to prolong an already lengthy trial by starting "a battle of the experts."

    Three federal judges are still pondering that argument, and independent legal experts agreed with the Rigas attorneys that the appeal needs to be taken seriously.

    "I was surprised" that such an expert witness wasn't called, said Eugene O'Connor, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law and accounting at Canisius College. "The question I have is: How is the jury to assess with some certainty that these men violated the accounting standards?"

    Then again, the prosecution laid out a case that, in the court of public opinion at least, might be seen as difficult to refute.

    Arguing that the Rigases treated Adelphia as their "private piggy bank," Owens showed that John Rigas billed the company for his Columbia House record club and used the corporate jet to send Christmas trees to his daughter in New York City.

    Timothy Rigas, meanwhile, dipped into corporate funds to purchase 100 pairs of luxury slippers and a flight meant to impress an actress friend.

    In total, prosecutors said the Rigases "looted" Adelphia of $100 million while hiding $2.3 billion in debt and misleading banks and investors about Adelphia's earnings.

    The jury convicted John and Timothy Rigas of 18 of the 23 charges against them. A mistrial was declared in the case of another Rigas son, Michael, who later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to home confinement.

    That's not entirely different than what John and Timothy Rigas are currently facing. Paul Shechtman, John Rigas' appeals lawyer, said both John and Timothy Rigas are still in Coudersport.

    "Under the circumstances, John is doing as well as can be expected," Shechtman said. "He's enjoying his grandchildren."

    Of course, those circumstances could change at any time. Lawyers close to the case said they don't know what to think about the fact that the appeals court is taking so much time to render a decision.

    "It's usually a good sign," Shechtman said. "I know they've issued opinions in cases that were heard after ours in several instances."

    However, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is especially busy and may simply want to take its time poring over the record of the four-month trial, several lawyers said.

    One thing is for sure: if the appeals court rules for the Rigases and orders a retrial, it will be issuing an opinion that will have ramifications far beyond the borough of 2,600 that the Rigases call home.

    "It would be a huge decision with wide ramifications in financial fraud cases," O'Donnell said. "I can't think of any other similar case where this could happen."

    It was the largest fine ever imposed on an auditing firm
    Deloitte & Touche LLP incurred the wrath of federal regulators Tuesday over public statements that appeared to shift the blame away from the auditing firm for failed audits of Adelphia Communications Corp. and Just for Feet Inc. Deborah Harrington, a Deloitte spokeswoman, said regulators requested that the firm revise the first press release it put out. The second release omitted some disputed statements. Deloitte, the U.S. accounting branch of Big Four accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Tuesday agreed to pay $50 million to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it failed to detect fraud at Adelphia. It was the largest fine ever imposed on an auditing firm.
    "SEC Rebukes Deloitte on Adelphia Audit Spin," SmartPros, April 28, 2005 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x48015.xml

    You can read more about why white collar crime pays at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#CrimePays

    You can read more about the Rigas' crimes and the Adelphia accounting scandals at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Deloitte 

    The Meaning of Mean (Professors)
    "No, you didn't," says a girl in the back row, admiringly, while a few others clap, saying the first student has done what they wish they had the courage to do. "I'm paying $50,000 of my own money for this education," one says. "What these professors don't realize is that they're working for me! I'm the customer!" "Oh, my goodness," I'm saying. "Oh, my goodness." Customer service? What is this, a tire store?
    Marie Laskas, "The Meaning of Mean," The Washington Post, December 7, 2006 --- Click Here

    "Plagiarism and 'Atonement'," by Eugene Volokh, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2006; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116588497688347029.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

    Two nurses, both aspiring novelists, helped tend British soldiers during World War II. Briony, the protagonist of Ian McEwan's award-winning novel "Atonement," is fictional. The late Lucilla Andrews is real: She became an author, pioneering romantic "hospital fiction," and also wrote a memoir of her war years. Therein lies the latest plagiarism scandalette to hit the news, sparked by an article in the British press. To be a credible character in a historical novel, Briony had to do the things wartime nurses did, and see the things they saw. It is no surprise that Mr. McEwan read Andrews's book when researching his own; and several passages from his book strongly resemble passages from her memoir.

    "Our 'nursing' seldom involved more than dabbing gentian violet on ringworm, aquaflavine emulsion on cuts and scratches, lead lotion on bruises and sprains," wrote Andrews (to give one example). "In the way of medical treatments, she had already dabbed gentian violet on ringworm, aquaflavine emulsion on a cut, and painted lead lotion on a bruise. But mostly she was a maid," wrote Mr. McEwan.

    Plagiarism? Legally actionable? Ethically reprehensible? Bad manners? Or good research, needed to produce accurate historical fiction?

    Plagiarism is easy to condemn but often hard to define. This is partly because the legal rules differ sharply from the ethical ones, and the ethical rules in scholarship, journalism and fiction differ from each other. And it is partly because the rules for using the facts uncovered by writers of history -- whether memoirists, historians or contemporaneous journalists -- must be different from the rules for using the original phrases that the writers created.

    Let's start with the law. It generally bans not plagiarism as such, but rather copyright infringement. (Trademark law might play a role in extreme plagiarism cases, but not in the typical ones.) And copyright infringement is both broader and narrower than what most people see as "plagiarism."

    For instance, an author can be held liable under copyright law even when he credits the original source from which he copies. The law concerns itself more with protecting authors' ability to profit from their works than with ensuring credit where credit is due. So if I translate Mr. McEwan's novel into Russian without his permission, trumpeting Mr. McEwan's authorship and saying that I am merely the translator, I am a copyright infringer, though not a plagiarist.

    On the other hand, an author is not liable for copying the facts that others have discovered, regardless of whether he gives credit. Copyright law doesn't give authors exclusive rights to facts, because such a monopoly would undermine debate, scholarship and literature. If I write a scholarly legal article that uses without attribution historical facts uncovered by another scholar, my failure to attribute is a serious ethical breach -- but not copyright infringement.

    So on to professional ethics, which properly differs depending on the profession. Academics have the most stringent obligations. If I write an academic work using, without attribution, facts uncovered by another historian, I commit two sins: First, I falsely claim originality for my own work. Second, I wrongly deny a scholar credit that is important to the scholar's reputation. The academic must therefore scrupulously attribute those facts that others have uncovered, and the long and heavily footnoted format of academic books and articles makes this easy.

    But the rules for newspaper articles that mention historical matters are different. Such articles usually don't claim originality of historical research; no reader would assume that snippets of history in an article about modern-day Iraq stem from the journalist's own archival research. The articles do not generally deny historians due professional credit: Scholars get professional respect chiefly based on other scholars' use of their work, not based on citations by reporters. And because space is short, and good journalism often relies on multiple historical sources, newspaper articles can't be expected to acknowledge each historian whose work the journalist used.

    The rules for novels are in between. Novelists are similar to journalists, but they do have space at the end of the book to briefly acknowledge the historical works on which they rely, without distracting from the novel's flow. If you've relied substantially on another's work, acknowledging this is the kind thing to do. Omitting the acknowledgment probably isn't unethical; it's not a lie, or the denial of the credit needed for success in the original author's profession. But it isn't very nice.

    Yet what about copying not just facts, but also another author's words, either literally or in a close paraphrase? Would a general acknowledgment at the end of the book be enough to justify this? Or is such copying impermissible, at least unless you expressly note it using quotation marks, or by writing "as Lucilla Andrews said"? In academic work, the answer is simple: Quote the original, and insert a footnote at the place you quote it. But what about a novel?

    A historical novel, to be accurate, must borrow those words needed to accurately reproduce the historical facts, even when the facts were uncovered by others. If nurses treated ringworm by dabbing gentian violet on it, that's what they did, and novelists must be able to say so. Nor can a novelist note the borrowing using quotation marks and footnotes, as they would interrupt the novel's flow. Writers who strive for factual accuracy must thus remain free to closely paraphrase the factual accounts of others.

    On the other hand, when the historian or memoirist depicted the facts in a colorful way that she herself created, the particular words shouldn't be copied, at least without express acknowledgment. A historical novelist is responsible for creating his own colorful descriptions.

    So where does this leave Mr. McEwan? Likely not guilty on any of the counts, if the account in the newspaper that first broke the story (the Nov. 26 Daily Mail) is thorough. Mr. McEwan borrowed facts, and those words that accurately described the facts. He is not guilty of copyright infringement, or of taking another's original expression without specific notation. And while he did rely on Andrews's autobiography, his acknowledgments page noted being "indebted" to Andrews and her book. Any such acknowledgment could always be made more prominent; but it appears to have been prominent enough.

    More broadly, we should recognize that not all use of another's words requires detailed acknowledgment. Words represent facts; and facts, once revealed, are there to be used, including in novelists' unfootnoted prose.

    Mr. Volokh is a professor of law at UCLA School of Law.

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

    Controversies in Regulation of Distance Education

    "All Over the Map," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, December 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/08/regulation

    As the distance learning market continues to grow, state agencies charged with regulating the industry continue to operate in a “fragmented environment,” according to a report presented Thursday at the 2006 Education Industry Finance & Investment Summit, in Washington.

    One of the main questions these agencies must consider is what constitutes an institution having a “physical presence” in their state. In other words, what is an appropriate test to determine whether regulation is needed?

    More than 80 percent of agencies that are included in the report said that they use some sort of “physical presence” test. But few agree on how to define the word “presence,” in part because there are so many elements to consider.

    That’s clear in “The State of State Regulation of Cross-Border Postsecondary Education,” the report issued by Dow Lohnes, a firm with a sizable higher education practice. (The firm plans to release an updated report early next year after more responses arrive.)

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side of education technology are at

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

    Federal Regulators Fine Grant Thornton $300,000 Over Audit of Failed Bank
    Federal bank regulators have fined the accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP $300,000 for what they called "reckless conduct" in its audit of First National Bank of Keystone, a West Virginia institution whose collapse in 1999 was one of the costliest U.S. bank failures in the past decade.
    Marcy Gordon, "Federal Regulators Fine Grant Thornton $300,000 Over Audit of Failed Bank, SmartPros, December 11, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55776.xml

    Bob Jensen's threads on Grant Thornton (especially the Refco audit failure) are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#GrantThornton

    The seamy underside of asbestos litigation
    In the legal trade, this is known as "double dipping"--the process by which lawyers file claims at many different bankruptcy trusts on behalf of a single plaintiff. Each trust is told a different story about how the client got sick, and the plaintiff collects from all of them. Of course, the lawyers collect too. This practice may well have remained unexposed had not Brayton Purcell decided to cash in on Kananian one more time. It sued Lorillard Tobacco, this time claiming its client had become sick from smoking Kent cigarettes, whose filters contained asbestos for several years in the 1950s. That suit has now exploded on Brayton, exposing one of the asbestos bar's more lucrative cash cows.
    Kimberley A. Strassel, "Trusts Busted:  The seamy underside of asbestos litigation," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/kstrassel/?id=110009343

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

    Greater Accounting Transparency Sought by the Community College of Philadelphia
    A faculty and staff union at the Community College of Philadelphia plans to pose one major question to the institution’s administration at a demonstration scheduled for today: Teachers and students open their books every day — why won’t administrators? The Faculty & Staff Federation of the Community College of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, plans to distribute leaflets and circulate a “mobile billboard” around the college’s main campus starting at 9 a.m. today to draw attention to their calls for greater financial transparency on the part of the institution, the latest development in ongoing contract negotiations.Classes will not be interrupted.
    Elizabeth Redden, "Open the Books, Professors Plead," Inside Higher Ed, December 8. 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/08/ccp

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

    Forwarded by Debbie Bowling

    Major breach of UCLA's computer files
    In what appears to be one of the largest computer security breaches ever at an American university, one or more hackers have gained access to a UCLA database containing personal information on about 800,000 of the university's current and former students, faculty and staff members, among others. UCLA officials said the attack on a central campus database exposed records containing the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates — the key elements of identity theft — for at least some of those affected. The attempts to break into the database began in October 2005 and ended Nov. 21, when the suspicious activity was detected and blocked, the officials said.
    Rebecca Trounson, "Major breach of UCLA's computer files: Personal information on 800,000 students, alumni and others is exposed; Attacks lasted a year, the school says," LA Times, December 12, 2006 ---

    The University of California at Los Angeles is notifying about 800,000 people that some of their personal information may have been available to a hacker who intruded into parts of the university’s computer network. Those whose identifying information may have been seen include current and former students, professors and other employees, plus applicants and the parents of applicants who applied for financial aid.
    Inside Higher Ed, December 13, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/13/qt

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

    Continued Controversies in Assessment of Colleges

    "Feeling the Winds From Washington," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, December 11, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/11/accredit

    The 600 academic administrators and professors who gathered in Philadelphia last week for the annual meeting of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education are on the front lines of the accreditation. They’re the ones who lead self-studies of their own colleges or participate on visiting teams that review other institutions. They are charged with ensuring that their campuses are fulfilling their missions of educating students, and of enticing or prodding occasionally recalcitrant faculty members to measure their effectiveness and change their ways if they come up short.

    And to judge by some of the recent rhetoric coming out of Washington, where the accreditation system has become a central focus of the Education Department’s early efforts to carry out the work of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, they and the rest of the accreditation system are falling short.

    Although the commission abandoned many of the harshest words and radical ideas that had been bandied about during its deliberations — including the possibility of replacing the current system with a “national” (read: federal) framework — its final report still offered a highly critical view of accreditation. Accreditors and higher education officials, the commission concluded, have done far too little to figure out whether college students are coming out of their institutions with the skills they need to be productive workers and citizens.

    Accreditors “still focus on process reviews more than bottom-line results for learning or costs,” the report said. “The growing public demand for increased accountability, quality and transparency coupled with the changing structure and globalization of higher education requires a transformation of accreditation.”

    How has the criticism of accreditation played with those in the trenches? If participants in the Middle States meeting are any indication, they tend to think the accreditors – or at least their own accreditor – have gotten a bit of a bum rap. Middle States, they say, has for several years been pressuring the institutions it accredits (colleges in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico) to better define what they want their students to know and be able to do, and to find concrete ways to measure their success.

    “This is what the accreditors are trying to achieve already,” said Warren Olip-Ammentorp, a professor of English at Cazenovia College, a small, private college in central New York. “We’ve all been trying to focus on student learning and to use the assessment results to improve that learning, partly because it’s what we’re supposed to do as educators and because we know Middle States is going to hold us accountable on the issue.”

    Indeed, virtually every college official interviewed, at private colleges like Cazenovia and at midsize public universities such as Indiana University of Pennsylvania, described efforts – often years in the making – to gauge student outcomes and to use that information to inform curricular and other changes aimed at improving how students fare.

    The college officials, almost to a one, also said they worried that the commission’s and the Education Department’s push for colleges to use common indicators that might allow a consumer to more easily compare one against another would, almost inevitably, result in oversimplification. And many of them expressed fears that the department would, as it signaled at meetings of a panel that advises it on accreditation last week, start asking accreditors to set minimum standards for colleges to meet, a role most of them see as inappropriate.

    At the same time, they acknowledge flaws in the system. They generally accept the criticism that the accreditation process is too internally focused and that much more disclosure to the public is necessary. And some – particularly at public institutions – believe that colleges with similar missions can work together toward agreement on a menu of common measures that might allow for even more comparisons about their performance.

    Perhaps most importantly, despite the lumps, many of them see a bright side to the fact that the feds have taken them to task. “The Spellings commission is having an incredible impact,” said Brent David Ruben, executive director of the Center for Organizational Development and Leadership at Rutgers University. “Sure, some of the criticism has been unfair. But it is prompting review and reflection, which I think is a positive thing.”

    Assessment in the Air

    It would have been hard for Education Secretary Margaret Spellings or Charles Miller, who headed the Spellings commission, to walk away from last week’s Middle States meeting — dubbed “Navigating the Winds of Change in Higher Education” — thinking that higher education isn’t taking accountability seriously. For the first time, the entire first day of the meeting was set aside for a special track on “effective and innovative assessment,” and it sold out at 300 people. In the conference’s subsequent days, many if not most of the sessions revolved around or at least touched on discussion of the sort of “outcomes measures” that the Spellings commission says accreditors and colleges underemphasize.

    At one roundtable discussion, for instance, Cheryl T. Samuels, provost of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, described her institution’s efforts – begun three years ago, in the wake of its Middle States self study – to adopt and hold departments accountable for achieving university-wide student learning outcomes for undergraduate education.

    “We’re at the point where we’ve made a decision that we need to do this anyway,” said Samuels. “We know that if we do not take this responsibility ourselves, through accreditation and our own institutions’ work, and move in this direction, it could be forced on us. But we’re fairly confident that we can do this ourselves – we’re the experts.”

    She and Rick Ruth, interim provost of Shippensburg University, noted that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, to which both institutions belong, has long collected and published information from its member universities on more than 60 measures of student and other performance. “We’ve been under that accountability lens for a long time, at least from the system perspective,” said Ruth.

    If anyone at the Middle States meeting hadn’t been paying attention to the pressure on higher education accountability out of Washington, the group also heard directly from the Spellings commission itself, in the form of Charlene R. Nunley, the president of Montgomery College, who was among the commission members who helped transform its written report from one focused primarily on accountability and transparency to one that equally emphasizes student access and expanding financial aid.

    Nunley acknowledged that some members of the Spellings panel, particularly those representing corporations and the public, “don’t really understand where you are and what you’ve done, and that it’s far ahead of where they think you are.” She noted that despite the early saber rattling about moving to a federal system of accreditation, the commission’s final report did not dictate excessively to higher education. “It did not recommend federalization of accreditation of higher education” and “did not recommend a single standardized test or even a set of tests,” she said.

    But that does not, she said, suggest that colleges can afford to do nothing to better measure and report their successes and failures in educating students. “How many of you would say your institutions are doing enough in terms of measuring student learning outcomes?” she asked the college presidents, administrators and professors in the audience. A small scattering of hands, perhaps 25 among the 500 people in the room, went up. “I couldn’t raise my hand either – I admire your honesty,” Nunley said. “When we are honest with ourselves as college leaders, there is not nearly enough happening on our campuses.”

    The key going forward, she said, is that “if we in higher education take leadership, we have a chance of making sure that these standards recognize the differences in our institutions,” rather than having oversimplified, inappropriate measures “imposed on us.”

    The accreditors and college officials in the audience seemed to appreciate that message. But lest they were inclined to get too comfortable, Jean Avnet Morse, the president of Middle States, followed Nunley’s speech by telling the audience about what she had seen in Washington last week at a meeting of an Education Department advisory panel on accreditation. At that meeting, she said, some of the panel’s members signaled that they wanted accrediting groups not just to require the institutions they oversee to set appropriate goals for student learning, but also to ask: “How do we know that the levels being met are acceptable?”

    Morse’s implication, though she stopped short of saying it, was that in carrying out the Spellings commission’s report, the Education Department might be looking to push even harder than the report itself suggested. Lots of head shaking ensued.

    Full Disclosure to Consumers of Higher Education (including assessment of colleges and the Spellings Commission Report) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#FullDisclosure


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


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


    December 11, 2006 message from Carl Hubbard


    Did you see the MSNBC story last night of the murder several years ago of the two Dartmouth professors at their secluded country home?  It was a sobering story of a thrill killing by two teenage boys.  I hope you still have that Rossi 38 Special and that you have it in your back pocket when you answer your door.  There is a related story. at Behind the Dartmouth murders - Books - MSNBC.com


    December 11, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hi Carl,

    Nobody ever comes to our front door. If it should happen, we have a mounted video camera that takes their pictures before they even start up the steps. Then we tell them to go to the garage where we talk with them over an intercom.

    I do remember the Dartmouth case. Fortunately that type of thing is rare in NH. There’s really no way to prevent a totally random happening. An unmarried man who lives down the road is the son of a former FBI Director (Sullivan). He was shot four years ago while walking in the woods. However, that was a hunting accident. Even though we have beautiful woods during hunting season, I generally avoid woods trails during deer and moose season.

    I do have 20-40 wild turkeys that come to my front lawn and wait for me to throw out sunflower seeds. Erika says they’re my relatives.

    I do have the 38 that you helped me buy. Now if I just had some idea where to look for it.

    Have a great holiday!

    Bob Jensen

    From Jim Mahar's Blog on December 9, 2006 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

    Andrew Metrick: Governance Index Data (Wharton)

    I was recently asked where a reader could find the corporate governance index, so I figured others might like to know that it is available through Andrew Metrick's website.

    Andrew Metrick: Governance Index Data: "Governance Index Data by Firm, 1990-2006
    "For details on the construction of the Governance Index, see Gompers, Paul A., Joy L. Ishii, and Andrew Metrick, 'Corporate Governance and Equity Prices', The Quarterly Journal of Economics 118(1), February 2003, 107-155."

    Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Governance

    Who is the highest paid actress in the world?

    "Nicole Kidman is the queen of Hollywood when it comes to money. The Oscar winner, who earns as much as $17 million per movie, tops the fifth annual list of highest-paid actresses released Wednesday by The Hollywood Reporter. In second place, with $15 million per movie, was Reese Witherspoon, 30, who won the best-actress Oscar this year for her performance in "Walk the Line." Renee Zellweger, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively. They also get $15 million for each film. Rounding out the top 10 are Halle Berry ($14 million), Charlize Theron ($10 million), Angelina Jolie ($10 million), Kirsten Dunst ($8 million to $10 million) and Jennifer Aniston ($8 million). The list will appear in the Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue to be published by The Hollywood Reporter on Dec. 5.  ---  http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/11/29/D8LN2OFG1.html 


    Should Christian fraternities be allowed on campus?
    The University of Georgia on Thursday agreed to recognize a Christian fraternity that sued the institution this week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The university had previously said that the fraternity was violating the university’s anti-bias policy, which protects students from discrimination based on religion, by requiring all members to pledge their belief in Jesus. The university is now considering an exemption for that policy.
    Inside Higher Ed, December 8, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/08/qt



    "10 biggest media lawsuit payouts listed Media Law Research Center: Cash awards often reversed on appeal," WorldNetDaily, November 30, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53153


    Here is the Top Ten list of "trial awards" in media libel, privacy and related cases, assembled by the Media Law Research Center:

    1. $222.7 million. MMAR Group, Inc. vs. Dow Jones & Co. This developed after The Wall Street Journal ran an article making allegations about the securities firm and its use of client money. Less than a month later MMAR went out of business. The $222.7 million is the highest award ever from a jury in the reports compiled by MLRC. But a trial court later ruled the plaintiff withheld evidence from the defendant, and the award was erased.


    2. $58 million. Feazel v. A.H. Belo Corp. Dallas' WFAA-TV reporter Charles Duncan broadcast an 11-part series of stories critical of the local prosecutor, discussing various allegations and a pending federal investigation. Feazell later was indicted on racketeering and bribery charges but was acquitted and sued. The $58 million judgment was on appeal when the case was settled.


    3. $40.3 million. Guccione vs. Hustler Magazine. The magazine published a photograph of a male body which had the head of Bob Guccione, a publisher of various magazines including Penthouse, superimposed on it. The award first was reduced by the court, then reversed and dismissed by the Ohio Supreme Court.


    4. $40 million. Lerman v. Chuckleberry Publishing, Inc. Plaintiff Jackie Collins Lerman was misidentified in two photographs published by Adelina magazine that were culled from the movie "Married Men," whose screenplay was written by Lerman. The jury awarded $40 million, the court immediately struck $30 million and an appeals court reversed the case and dismissed it.


    5. $34 million. Sprague (II) v. Philadelphia Newspapers. The defendant published several articles linking the plaintiff, a local prosecutor, to an apparent murder coverup. The jury awarded Sprague $34 million, but the court reduced that by $10 million and it ultimately was settled for an undisclosed sum.


    6. $29 million. Srivastava vs. Harte-Hanks. The plaintiff was a heart surgeon when he lost privileges at two San Antonio hospitals. The Harte-Hanks television station reported that revocation and detailed the mishandling of several cases based on information given secretly to the reporter by the plaintiff's secretary. The station appealed, but settled before that could be heard.


    7. $26.5 million. Pring vs. Penthouse International. A former Miss Wyoming sued Penthouse after the magazine published a short piece describing a Miss Wyoming who engaged in oral sex, alleging the depictions "create the impression" that the story subject was her. The jury awarded her $26.5 million, which was reversed and dismissed on appeal.


    8. $25 million. Graves vs. Warner Bros. (This is wrongful death case, not defamation or libel). Plaintiffs were parents of Scott Amedure, a guest on the Jenny Jones show who was killed days after he revealed a homosexual crush on another male guest during a taping of the show. Jury awarded $25 million in damages.


    9. $24.5 million. Doe vs. TCI Cablevision. Plantiff Tony Twist, a professional hockey player, sued over the character in a series of Spawn comic books. Jury awarded $24.5 million, but that was set aside by the court and a new trial resulted in a $15 million judgment, which was on appeal.


    10. $19 million. Newton vs. NBC. Inc. Wayne Newton accused NBC of broadcasting a news report that created the impression he sought and got financial backing from a man with links to organized crime. The trial court reduced that to $5 million and an appeals court reversed and dismissed the case.

    Here is the Top Ten list of "final awards" in media libel, privacy and related cases, assembled by the Media Law Research Center. All of these cases involve libel, except one which is noted:


    1. $58 million. Feazell lvs. A.H. Belo Corp.


    2. $29 million. Svivastava vs. Harte-Hanks. Settled for $8.5 million.


    3. $24 million. Sprague (II) vs. Philadelphia Newspapers. Settled for estimated $20 million.


    4. $13.5 million. Newcome & Assoc. vs. Plain Dealear Publishing Co. Settled for unknown amount before appeal.


    5. $11.9 million. Lee vs. Duddy.


    6. $11 million. Prozeralik (II) vs. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. Settled for unknown amount.


    7. $5.9 million. Cramlet (II) vs. Multi-Media Program Productions. Settled for unknown amount. (This was a claim over interference with parent-child relationship)


    8. $5 million. Nguyen vs. Nguyen


    9. $3 million. Brown & Williamson vs. Jacobson.


    10. $2.9 million. Kentucky Kingdom, Inc., vs. Journal Broadcasting of Kentucky.

    December 14, 2006 message from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]


    There's a nice slide show on e-week. Students might like it.


    David Albrecht


    "How to Eliminate That One-Word Page That Trails a Print Job," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal,  December 7, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html

    GreenPrint inserts itself between your Web browser (or any other program that prints) and your printer. It takes the form of a faux printer. You print to this virtual printer, called GreenPrint, as if it were real. Then, it analyzes the document, identifies and eliminates wasted pages, and hands the document off to your actual printer, which prints it.

    The product also has some other nice features. It can save any Web page as a PDF file, which can be called up later in the free Adobe Reader program. It can also show you a detailed preview of a Web page, or any other document you're printing, and allow you to manually eliminate pages from the printout.

    GreenPrint costs $25 after a 14-day free trial (it goes to $35 after the holidays) and works only on Windows XP and Windows 2000 for now. A Macintosh version is planned for next summer. It's available from the company's Web site, printgreener.com.

    I tested GreenPrint on two Windows computers. Each was connected to my home printer, an HP DeskJet 5850 model, which automatically prints on both sides of the page.

    In my tests, GreenPrint worked well, correctly identifying and eliminating wasted pages and properly creating PDF copies of Web pages. I tried it with both the Firefox and Internet Explorer Web browsers, and also with Microsoft Word, for non-Web documents.

    After you install GreenPrint, it adds two new entries to your list of printers. One, called GreenPrint, is the virtual printer you use to eliminate the extra pages. The other, called GreenPrint PDF, is used to directly save Web pages and other documents as PDF files. GreenPrint doesn't erase your actual printer from the Windows printer list. You can still select your regular printer and bypass GreenPrint, but you won't get the benefits of GreenPrint. In fact, while it makes sense to make GreenPrint your default printer, you don't have to do so.

    GreenPrint can work automatically in the background. But, if you want to make sure it's only eliminating unimportant pages, or if you want the opportunity to cull the printout manually, you should use its preview feature. This presents a very nice print preview, better than the one in the new IE 7 browser.

    If you double-click on any page in this preview, it turns red and won't be printed. You can also right-click on any page to have GreenPrint eliminate images or text before printing. From this preview screen, you can also save the document as a PDF file.

    You can tweak how GreenPrint works. For instance, you can specify how few lines of text a page must display before it's considered worthy of elimination. Or you can add or subtract other factors GreenPrint uses to decide if printing a page would be a waste, such as whether a page has nothing but a border, or nothing but a single image.

    If you want, you can set the program to analyze and eliminate only the final page in a document, or to only display its preview if it finds a wasted page.

    There are some rough edges, however, and the product is something of a work in progress. At first, GreenPrint wouldn't allow my printer to print on both sides of the paper. I asked the manufacturer about that and the company quickly sent me a new version of the product that fixed the problem. GreenPrint also crashed several times in my tests after I changed configuration settings. The company says a new version that avoids those crashes will be available for download by the time you read this.

    Continued in article


    "Creating Your Own Photo Book Becomes Easier:  Upgrades Help in Turning Digital Images Into Paper; We Test Three Offerings," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2006; Page D11--- http://online.wsj.com/article/the_mossberg_solution.html


    One of the most satisfying ways to share digital photos is to do so using an increasingly popular and delightfully analog item: the photo book. These books contain a collection of your digital photos, professionally printed on heavy paper and handsomely bound with hard or soft covers. They are fairly priced and can be made and ordered with little effort or skill.

    MyPublisher Inc. (www.mypublisher.com), the company that started this business over five years ago, continues as a main player in the field. It now offers its books in various sizes and prices, and recently released a new version of its book-assembling software program, BookMaker 2.0.

    But other companies know well the emotional draw of these books -- and so sell their own photo books that play to their strengths. Apple Computer Inc. uses iPhoto, the stellar photo-organizing program that comes on its computers, as a starting point for making books, incorporating handy editing within the company's famously simple user interface.

    Eastman Kodak Co.'s Kodak EasyShare Gallery (www.kodakgallery.com), one of the most popular Web sites for sharing digital photos, encourages users to make a book using photos that may already be uploaded for sharing. Its book-assembling software is a Web-based interactive program.

    Each company offers a hardcover photo book that measures roughly the same size and costs $30 for 20 printed pages. The only way to know how each book will look is to assemble and order one from each company. So this week, we did the job for you, taking time to make and order books from MyPublisher, Apple and Kodak EasyShare Gallery.

    All three contenders use book-making software that allows you to choose various themes and layouts. With each, you can either start from scratch, manually placing every photo, or you can start with an auto-fill feature that initially places your photos throughout the book, but allows you to rearrange, resize or delete them, or add others.

    In our test, MyPublisher, which runs on Mac and Windows operating systems, reigned supreme, though Apple wasn't far behind. MyPublisher offers three book sizes, three cover materials, two ways to display a cover photo, an intuitive assembling software program and elegant layouts. Though Apple's iPhoto books were a pleasure to make and produced some of the most artistically appealing books with 19 optional themes, iPhoto runs only on Macs, leaving out most computer users. And it doesn't offer as much overall variety as MyPublisher.

    Kodak's books cost the same or more than those from MyPublisher and Apple, yet stood out as the most difficult to assemble and the least attractive. And because Kodak EasyShare Gallery's book-making software lives online, it's slower.

    We used the same set of photos from Katie's summer vacation to make each book in standard size -- about 8.5" by 11" for MyPub and Apple and 9" by 10" for Kodak -- and started with each company's auto-fill feature.

    We also created the newest extra-large books offered by Kodak and MyPublisher; respectively, they measure 12" by 14" and 11.5" by 15" and cost about $70 and $60 for 20 pages. Apple doesn't offer larger books.

    MyPublisher's BookMaker 2.0 follows five steps: Get Photos, Organize, Make Book, Preview and Purchase. These numbered sections appear at the bottom of your screen with your current step highlighted; moving ahead or back is done by selecting another section. To get your photos into MyPublisher, you can drag and drop them into BookMaker 2.0 from anywhere on your computer.

    We spent most of our time in MyPublisher's third step: Make Book. Here, we edited images, moved them around to tweak the auto-fill feature and changed page layouts. A bar at the top of the screen offers a place for dragging and dropping unused photos or those you'd rather use later. After assembling a page filled with sailboat images, we saved one unused sailboat shot for later in the book and this area served as a reminder that it was there.

    Continued in article


    This could make a good case study for an accounting theory course


    From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on December 8, 2006


    TITLE: Making Use of Frequent-Flier Miles Gets Harder
    REPORTER: Scott McCartney
    DATE: Dec 05, 2006
    PAGE: D5
    LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116528094651740654.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac 
    TOPICS: Accounting, Auditing

    SUMMARY: The Department of Transportation (DOT) has undertaken audit procedures on airlines to review how they are "living up to their 1999 'Customer Service Commitment.'" This document was written when "airlines were under pressure from Congress and consumers for lousy service and long delays" in order to "stave off new legislation regulating their business." The airlines also report little about the frequent flier mile plans they offer, and particularly focus only on the financial aspects of these plans in their annual reports and SEC filings, rather than, say, information about ease of redeeming miles in which customers may be particularly interested.

    1.) What information do airlines provide about frequent flier mileage offerings and redemptions in their annual reports and SEC filings?

    2.) Why is this information important for financial statement users? In your answer, describe your understanding of the business model and accounting for frequent flier miles, based on the description in the article.

    3.) Why did the Department of Transportation (DOT) undertake a review of airline practices? What type of audit would you say that the DOT performed?

    4.) What audit procedures did the airlines abandon due to financial exigencies? What was the result of abandoning these audit procedures? In your answer, describe the incentives provided by the act of undertaking audit procedures on operational efficiencies and effectiveness.

    Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

    "Making Use of Frequent-Flier Miles Gets Harder Falling Redemption Rate Is One of Many Service Issues, Government Report Find," by Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2006; Page D5 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116528094651740654.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac



  • Which airline is the most accommodating when it comes to letting consumers cash in frequent-flier mileage awards? It's hard to know, a new government report says, because airlines disclose so little information.

    One thing is clear: Over the past four years, the percentage of travelers cashing in frequent-flier award tickets has declined at four of the five biggest airlines, even though miles accumulated by consumers have increased.

    The Department of Transportation's inspector general went back and checked how airlines were living up to their 1999 "Customer Service Commitment." Back then, airlines were under pressure from Congress and consumers for lousy service and long delays, and they promised reform to stave off new legislation regulating their business.

    Seven years later, Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III found that under financial pressure, many airlines quit auditing or quality control checks on their own customer service, leading to service deterioration. Airlines don't provide enough training for employees who assist passengers with disabilities, the investigation found, and don't always follow rules when handling passengers who get bumped from flights.

    And as travelers have long complained, government auditors studying 15 carriers at 17 airports found airline employees often don't provide timely and accurate information on flight delays and their causes, and don't give consumers straightforward information about frequent-flier award redemptions.

    "They can do better and must do better, and if they don't do better, Congress has authority to wield a big stick," said U.S. Rep John Mica, the outgoing chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee who requested the inspector general's customer-service investigation. He said he's eager to hear the airline industry's response before making final judgments, but the report card gives airlines only "average to poor grades in a range of areas that need improvement."

    Since airlines are returning to profitability and aggressively raising fares, there's more attention being paid to customer-service issues. Delays have increased; baggage handling worsened. As traffic has rebounded, airlines still under financial pressure because of high oil prices may not have adequate staff to live up to the promises they made on customer service.

    The report called on the DOT to "strengthen its oversight and enforcement of air-traveler consumer-protection rules" and urged airlines to get back on the stick for customer service. The inspector general also reminded consumers that since airlines incorporated the customer-service commitment into their "contract of carriage" -- the legal rules governing tickets -- carriers can be sued for not living up to their customer-service commitment.

    The industry says it is paying attention. The inspector general's Nov. 21 report "is a good report card for reminding us where we need to improve," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the industry's lobbying group, which coordinated the "Customer Service Commitment." Airlines will "react accordingly," he said.

    One of the stickiest areas is frequent-flier redemptions because airlines are loath to release detailed information about their programs, considering it crucial competitive information. Frequent-flier programs have become big money-makers for airlines since they sell so many miles in advance to credit-card companies, merchants, charities and others. That allows them to pocket cash years in advance of a ticket, then incur very little expense when consumers eventually redeem the miles, if they ever do.

    In 1999, airlines pledged to publish "annual reports" on frequent-flier redemptions. But at most carriers, the disclosure didn't change at all. Today, as then, carriers typically bury numbers deep in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and report only the number of awards issued, the estimated liability they have for the cost of awards earned but not yet redeemed and the number of awards as a percentage either of passengers or passenger miles traveled.

    The inspector general said the hard-to-find information has only "marginal value to the consumer for purposes of determining which frequent-flier program best meets their need."

    What you'd really want to know is which airline makes it easiest to get an award, particularly the cheapest domestic coach ticket, typically 25,000 miles, which is the most popular award. But airlines don't disclose how many awards are at the lowest level, and how many consumers have to pay double miles or so for a premium award of an "unrestricted" coach ticket.

    The award market follows ticket prices and availability, so recent years have seen an increase in the price people have to pay to get the awards they want, and less availability of award seats, particularly at the cheapest level, because some airlines have cut capacity and demand for travel has been strong. Add in the flood of miles airlines are issuing, and the value of a frequent-flier mile has declined sharply.

    The inspector general's report compares award-redemption rates at big airlines over the past four years and found a relatively steady drop at four carriers: UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc., AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and Northwest Airlines Corp. US Airways Group Inc. actually saw higher rates of redemption in 2005 than in 2002, and Delta Air Lines Inc. was unchanged. Both Delta and US Airways had higher redemption rates than competitors.

    to claim short-trip tickets, adding more seats to award inventory this fall and offering a new credit card with easier redemption features. Northwest said its numbers have remained relatively consistent -- roughly one in every 12 seats is a reward seat.

    Other airlines said declining redemption rates result from factors including an increase in paying customers, fuller planes and shifts in airline capacity. American says the number of awards it has issued has remained fairly constant, and while the number of passengers it carries has climbed, its seat capacity hasn't. In addition, several airlines said customer preferences like using miles for first-class upgrades or hoarding miles longer to land big international trips can affect the redemption rate. "Reward traffic does not spool up and absorb capacity increases as fast as revenue traffic does," said a Continental spokesman.

    Those numbers don't include awards that their customers redeem on partner airlines, so some of the decline could be attributable to an increase in consumers' opting to grab award seats on foreign airlines or other partners, says frequent-flier expert Randy Petersen. American, for example, does disclose more redemption data on its Web site and showed that last year, it issued more than 955,000 awards for travel on its partners, compared with the 2.6 million used on American and American Eagle flights.

    "The data can be misleading," said Mr. Petersen, founder of InsideFlyer.com. He'd like to see more data, including numbers on how many customers made requests but couldn't find seats.

    But further disclosure is unlikely to happen unless the government forces it. "Left to their own devices," said Tim Winship, publisher of FrequentFlier.com, "I see no reason to expect airlines to step up and disclose more."



    Bob Jensen's threads on off-balance-sheet-financing and risk are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm#OBSF2


    November 28, 2006 message from a Trinity alum

    I'm a former student of Trinity, and I've used your great collection of misc. links on several occasions´. I would just like to thank you for the effort put into this quite extensive resource.

    As I've noticed that it hasn't been updated for a while now, I thought that I'd try to come up with a suggestion for you, to further extend and improve it. I have personally found MortgageLoan.com to be a great reference for everything related to real estate and mortgage, with independent information as well as calculators and other tools. Perhaps it would fit into the "Finance"-section in your bookmarks collection.


    November 28, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hi Aaron,


    I added MortgageLoan.com to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#MortgageAdvice


    Bob Jensen


    Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm


    What an attention grabber!
    From The Washington Post on December 11, 2006


    Who topped Yahoo's list of popular search terms?

    A. Paris Hilton
    B. Donald Trump
    C. President Bush
    D. Britney Spears



    From The Washington Post on December 13, 2006

    Iran recently blocked access to which Web site?

    A. MySpace.com
    B. YouTube.com
    C. State.gov
    D. Amazon.com


    "Five Macroeconomic Myths," by Edward C. Prescott, The Wall Street Journal,  December 11, 2006; Page A18 ---

    Myth No. 1: Monetary policy causes booms and busts.
    Greg Mankiw, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote the following in a 2002 paper: "No aspect of U.S. policy in the 1990s is more widely hailed as a success than monetary policy. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is often viewed as a miracle worker." Or, as Mr. Mankiw later asks, was Mr. Greenspan just lucky?

    One of the mysteries of the 1990s is how to explain the economic boom when the increase in capital investments -- as measured by the national accounts -- grew at a subdued pace. The numbers simply don't add up. However, it turns out that something special happened in the 1990s, and it wasn't monetary policy. In a recent paper, Minneapolis Fed senior economist Ellen McGrattan and I show that intangible capital investment -- including R&D, developing new markets, building new business organizations and clientele -- was above normal by 4% of GDP in the late 1990s.

    This difference is key to understanding growth rates in the 1990s: Output, correctly measured, increased 8% relative to trend between 1991 and 1999, which is much bigger than the U.S. national accounts number of 4%. Associated with this boom in unmeasured investment is the huge amount of unmeasured savings that showed up in the wealth statistics as capital gains. This was the people's boom, the risk-takers' boom. We should hang gold medals around these entrepreneurs' necks. So indeed, it does seem that Mr. Greenspan was lucky in that a boom happened under his watch; but we can at least say that he did a pretty good job of keeping inflation in check. Here's hoping for the same performance from our current chairman.

    What about busts? Let's begin with the assumption that tight monetary policy caused the recession of 1978-1982. This myth is so firmly entrenched that I could have called this downturn the "Volcker recession" and readers would have understood my reference. To accept the myth, you have to accept a consistent relationship between monetary policy and economic activity -- and as we've just seen, this relationship is simply not evident in the data.

    Between 1975 and 1980, the inflation-corrected federal funds rate was low; at the same time, output trended upward until late 1978. So far, things look somewhat promising for the mythmakers. But looking closer at the data we see that output began its downward trend in late 1979 while monetary policy was still easy through most of 1980. Also, output continued its decline through 1982, when it began to climb at a time when monetary policy remained tight.

    These facts do not square with conventional wisdom. Our obsession with monetary policy in the conduct of the real economy is misplaced.

    One caveat: I am not saying that there are no real costs to inflation -- there certainly are. And if we get too much inflation we can exact high costs on an economy (witness Argentina as an example). However, I am talking here of the vast majority of industrialized countries who live in a low-inflation regime and who are in no danger of slipping into hyperinflation. It is simply impossible to make a grave mistake when we're talking about movements of 25 basis points.

    Myth No. 2: GDP growth was extraordinary in the 1990s.
    Even though I referred to the expansion of the '90s as a boom, inasmuch as it was a period of above-trend growth, and I noted the strong gains due to unmeasured investment, we have to put things into historical context. So let's return to the data. GDP growth relative to trend in the early 1960s was 12%, and in the famous 1980s boom (from the end of 1982 to mid-1989) it was a very impressive 9.7%.

    And how about the boom from the previous decade? From 1996 to 1999, GDP grew 3.8%, about in line with the 3.9% growth of the early 1970s and less than the 5.5% growth of the mid-1970s expansion. Even when we account for unmeasured investment and add four percentage points, the 1990s growth spurt -- fueled by rapid growth in tech industries -- still falls short of the 1980s boom and does not approach the 1960s, both of which were fueled by tax cuts.

    So we have to be careful about mythologizing the 1990s and drawing misguided policy lessons; yes, it was a boom, and it was better than we think, but let's keep that boom in perspective.

    Myth No. 3: Americans don't save.
    This is a persistent misconception owing to a misunderstanding of what it means to save. To get a complete picture of savings we need to investigate economic wealth relative to income. Our traditional measures of savings and investment, the national accounts, do not include savings associated with tangible investments made by businesses and funded by retained earning, government investments (like roads and schools) and business intangible investments.

    If we want to know how much people are saving, we need to look at how much wealth they have. People invest themselves in many and varied ways beyond their traditional savings accounts. Viewing the full picture -- economic wealth -- Americans save as much as they always have; otherwise, their wealth relative to income would fall. We're saving the right amount.

    Myth No. 4: The U.S. government debt is big.
    The key measure here is privately held interest-bearing federal government debt, which includes debt held by foreign central banks, and does not include debt held by the Fed or government debt held by the government. So let's turn to the historical data once again.

    Privately held interest-bearing debt relative to income peaked during World War II, fell through the early 1970s, rose again through the early 1990s, and then fell again until 2003. Even though that number has been rising in recent years (except for the most recent one), it is still at levels similar to the early 1960s, and lower than levels in most of the 1980s and 1990s. This debt level was not alarming then, and it is not alarming now. From a historical perspective, the current U.S. government debt is not large.

    Myth No. 5: Government debt is a burden on our grandchildren.
    There's no better way to get people worked up about something than to call on their sympathies for their beloved grandkids. The last thing that I want to do is to burden my own grandchildren with the sins of profligacy. But we should stop feeling guilty -- at least about government debt -- because we are in better shape than conventional wisdom suggests.

    Theory and practice tell us that the optimal amount of public debt that maximizes the welfare of new generations of entrants into the workforce is two times gross national income, or GDP. This assumes 1% population growth, 2% productivity growth, 4% real after-tax return on investments, and that people work to age 63 and live to age 85. Currently, privately held public debt is about 0.3 times GDP, and if we include our Social Security obligations, it is 1.6 times GDP. In either case, we could argue that we have too little debt.

    What's going on here? There are not enough productive assets -- tangible and intangible assets alike -- to meet the investment needs of our forthcoming retirees. The problem is that the rate of return on investment -- creating more productive assets -- decreases as the stock of these assets increases. An excessive stock of these productive assets leads to inefficiencies.

    Total savings by everyone is equal to the sum of productive assets and government debt, and if there is an imbalance in this equation it does not mean we have too little or too many productive assets. The fix comes from getting the proper amount of government debt. When people did not enjoy long retirements and population growth was rapid, the optimal amount of government debt was zero. However, the world has changed, and we in fact require some government debt if we care about our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

    If we should worry about our grandchildren, we shouldn't about the amount of debt we are leaving them. We may even have to increase that debt a bit to ensure that we are adequately prepared for our own retirements.

    * * *

    There are at least three lessons here. First: Context matters. Take what you read in the paper with a many grains of historical salt. Second: Current data often provide poor guidance for effective policy making. To make forward-looking policies you have to understand the past. Finally: Establish good rules, change them infrequently and judiciously, and turn the people loose upon the economy. Booms will follow.

    Mr. Prescott is senior monetary adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and professor of economics at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He is a co-recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in economics.



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


  • Latest Headlines on December 12, 2006

    Latest Headlines on December 13, 2006

    Latest Headlines on December 14, 2006

    Latest Headlines on December 15, 2006


  • "Diabetes breakthrough:  Toronto scientists cure disease in mice," by Tom Blackwell, National Post, December 15, 2006

    In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

    Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

    "I couldn't believe it," said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. "Mice with diabetes suddenly didn't have diabetes any more."

    The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.

    But the excitement of the team from Sick Kids, whose work is being published today in the journal Cell, is almost palpable.

    "I've never seen anything like it," said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, an immunologist at the hospital and a leader of the studies. "In my career, this is unique."

    Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses -- the body's immune system turning on itself.

    Continued in article



    Can you judge a man’s faithfulness in advance by his face?
    How about whether he would be a good father, or a good provider? Many people believe they can, according to a University of Michigan study published in the December issue of Personal Relationships, a peer-reviewed academic journal. U-M social psychologist Daniel J. Kruger conducted a series of on-line experiments showing 854 male and female undergraduate students versions of composite male faces that had been altered to look more or less masculine by adjusting, for example, the shape of the jaw, the strength of brow ridges and the thickness of lips. Participants were asked which of the men they preferred as mates, dates, parents of their children, or companions for their girlfriends. They were also asked which men were most likely to behave in certain ways—starting a fight or hitting on someone else’s girlfriend, for example. "It's remarkable that minor physiological differences lead people to pre-judge a man's personality and behavior," said Kruger, a research scientist at the U-M School of Public Health and the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). "But even though physiognomy (the attribution of personality to faces) is thought to be a pseudoscience, a lot of people believe there's a link between looks and personality."
    "Does he love you so? Maybe it really is in his face…," PhysOrg, December 14, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85337845.html



    Moderate drinking may help older women live longer
    A study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that moderate alcohol intake (1-2 drinks/day for 3-6 days/week, depending on alcoholic content) may lead to increased quality of life and survival in older women. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health followed nearly 12,000 women in their 70’s over a 6 year period. The group was comprised of non-drinkers, occasional drinkers and moderate drinkers.
    "Moderate drinking may help older women live longer," PhysOrg, December13, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85253884.html



    New hope for wrinkles
    A new anti-aging ingredient developed by Australian researchers is expected to be available in skin products next year. The new additive - gamma glutamyl cysteine (GGC) - is a precursor for an effective antioxidant known as glutathione, which has a broad range of potential health benefits. Glutathione is the body's key defense for detoxifying harmful compounds implicated in cancer, diabetes, aging along with other diseases and degenerative conditions. After nine years in development, researchers Dr Wallace Bridge and Dr Martin Zarka, of the University of New Sotuh Wales (Sydney, Australia) have established a new, cost-effective process for manufacturing GGC.
    "New hope for wrinkles," PhysOrg, December 15, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85400492.html



    Reversing Trend, Big Drop Is Seen in Breast Cancer
    Rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped a startling 15 percent from August 2002 to December 2003, researchers reported yesterday. The reason, they believe, may be because during that time, millions of women abandoned hormone treatment for the symptoms of menopause after a large national study concluded that the hormones slightly increased breast cancer risk.
    Gina Kolata, "Reversing Trend, Big Drop Is Seen in Breast Cancer," The New York Times, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/15/health/15breast.html


    Child Stem Cell Recipient Heads Home
    Daniel Kerner's parents knew the experimental brain surgery was risky, but without it the 6-year-old surely would die. Last month in Portland, Ore., doctors for the first time transplanted stem cells from aborted fetuses into his head in a desperate bid to reverse, or at least slow, a rare genetic disorder called Batten disease. The so-far incurable condition normally results in blindness and paralysis before death.
    "Child Stem Cell Recipient Heads Home," PhysOrg, December 12, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85116317.html
    Also see http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17888&ch=biotech


    Jensen Comment
    My wife Erika has a nephew and niece who both died from Batten's disease. At the time there was no known cure. It is more common in male rather than female children. Degenerative symptoms are something like Lou Gehrig's fatal neuromuscular disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, Batten's disease attacks children at a very early age.


    More and more people are buying prescription drugs from shady online marketers. That could be hazardous to their health


    From the outside, it looked like any other white-walled, terra cotta-roofed bungalow in sun-bleached Belize, perhaps someone's quaint tropical hideaway. Inside, however, the house's peripatetic occupants didn't act like they were on vacation. Workers in sneakers, shorts, and rubber gloves produced mountains of allegedly counterfeit prescription pills. Hundreds of pounds of raw ingredients came from China via a broker in New Jersey. The drugmakers whipped up their products in a dented mixing machine and blender. Finished tablets—imitations of Viagra, the cholesterol medication Lipitor, and Ambien, a sleep aid—were stored in gray garbage bins before being shipped out in plastic sandwich bags. The pills allegedly were hawked via spam e-mail and sold, without prescriptions, from such Web sites as www.planetpharmacy.bz

    "Bitter Pills," Business Week, December 18, 2006 --- Click Here


    Operating in a legal grey area, their doctors write thousands of prescriptions for people, sight unseen. Is better regulation required?


    Checking his e-mail one day, Schmidt noticed spam pitches for the anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller Ultram—quick remedies requiring no doctor's visit and no waiting on pharmacy lines. He only had to fill out an online questionnaire and type in his credit-card number. Unknown to Schmidt, two doctors—one in New Jersey, another in Philadelphia—then clicked on a button to approve the prescriptions. Neither had ever seen or spoken with Schmidt.
    Keith Epstein, "The Deadly Side Effects of Net Pharmacies," Business Week, December 18, 2006 --- Click Here  


    A hobo spider is not a recluse spider, but it can still be torturous
    A small spider bite turned out to be a big problem for Cindy Pettey. Pettey awoke when she was bitten on the stomach in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, but thought little else of it. Then she started running a fever, she felt achy and weak. The bite sore became larger.
    "Spider Bite Turns Serious for Ore. Woman," PhysOrg, December 12, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85116424.html

    Next thing Pettey knew, a doctor was telling her he believed she'd been bitten by a dangerous hobo spider.

    Pettey had surgery that removed 10 pounds of skin and flesh, leaving her with an abdomen covered in stitches.

    "It looks like I was bit in half by a shark," Pettey said.

    Rob Hendrickson, a physician and director of the Oregon Poison Control Center, said the hobo is a non-aggressive spider that bites only when cornered. For example, when someone puts on a shoe with a spider inside.

    The hobo is one of two dangerous spiders in Oregon. The other is the black widow. The brown recluse does not exist in Oregon, he said.

    "In reality, most spiders are venomous, but aren't capable of penetrating human skin," Hendrickson said.

    Hobo spider venom may cause necrosis, or death of the skin. When a spider injects venom below the skin, it reddens, swells, then turns black. But there is some doubt in the medical community about whether venom causes the skin death, Hendrickson said.




    New research shows big improvement in survival after stroke
    A new research report by The George Institute for International Health, in collaboration with Auckland City Hospital and The University of Auckland, has revealed a 40% decline in the number of deaths after stroke in the total population of Auckland, New Zealand over the past 25 years. The study attributes the improved survival rate to health care factors associated with an increase in hospital admission and brain imaging during the most severe phase of the illness.
    PhysOrg, December 11, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85054965.html




    U.S. scientists have found inhibiting glucocorticoid, a type of steroid, can prevent skin abnormalities induced by psychological stress.


    The study, conducted by researchers from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco and the University of California-San Francisco, also showed how psychological stress induces skin abnormalities that could initiate or worsen skin disorders such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Previous research has shown psychological stress increases glucocorticoid production. In addition, it is well recognized psychological stress adversely affects many skin disorders, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
    PhysOrg, December 11, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news85073987.html



    Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

    A new book by former president Jimmy Carter is generating wide controversy. Pro-Israel groups are offended by Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and say the book is unworthy of a former U.S. president . . . In the book, Carter sites failure on all sides -- the Palestinians, Israel, the U.S. -- to bring about a a peace deal. But the book is particularly critical of Israel, likening its policies in the Palestinian territories to the former policy of apartheid in South Africa.
    Jackie Northam, "Jimmy Carter's Book Stirs Criticism, Complaint," NPR, December 11, 2006 ---

    Also "Mideast Fantasies," December 13, 2006 --- http://www.rep-am.com/story.php?id=16730

    Of course, the Palestinians also have an opinion on that subject. On Friday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh made his first visit abroad since taking office in March -- to Tehran.

    He said the United States "and Zionists ... want us to recognize the usurpation of the Palestinian lands and stop jihad and resistance and accept the agreements reached with the Zionist enemies in the past" but that, as The Associated Press reported, "his Hamas-led government will never recognize Israel and will continue to fight for the 'liberation of Jerusalem.'"

    High on Haniyeh's list of unacceptable "agreements reached with the Zionist enemies in the past" would have to be the 1978 Camp David Accords that Carter continues to rank among the greatest achievements of his presidency.

    No wonder longtime aide Kenneth Stein, the first executive director of the Carter Center think tank in Atlanta and the founder of its Mideast program, late last week resigned from the center and released a letter denouncing Carter's book as one-sided and filled with factual errors, material copied from other sources and "simply invented segments."

    Without mentioning the onslaught of attacks by Palestinian terrorists, former President Jimmy Carter told a national audience watching the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" there is "horrible persecution" of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, and he is urging a return to peace talks between the residents of the embattled region."In Palestinian territory, there is horrible persecution of the Palestinians who live on their own land," Carter said.
    "Carter to Leno: Treatment of Palestinians 'horrible'," WorldNetDaily, December 12, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    Although Carter purportedly has many inaccuracies in his new book, there are some awful things that Israeli settlers have done to Palestinians and some reckless actions by the IDF that make it possible to blame all sides in this never-ending war.

    Jimmy Carter, it appears, needed a scapegoat for his failed presidency and Israel served as a convenient target.
    Joseph Puder, "Palestine: Peace, Not Prejudice," FrontPageMagazine, December 15, 2006 --- http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=26028
    Jensen Comment
    I don't think that it's quite as simple as that. President Carter was quite close to Yasser Arafat and learned a great deal about the plight of the Palestinians in refuge camps for over 30 years. Carter sincerely believes that worldwide pressure on Israel might help to resolve this long-standing obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The problem is that media hammering of Israel is dysfunctional because terror and media successes fan the fires of deadly jihadists bent of take over of first the entire Middle East and eventually the world.

    Former President Carter has decided not to visit Brandeis University to talk about his new book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" because he does not want to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the university had requested. "I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter told The Boston Globe. "There is no need ... for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
    "Former President Carter says he won't visit Brandeis," WorldNetDaily, December 15, 2006 --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    Seems like Carter is passing up a good opportunity to educate a heavily Jewish student body and a popular Harvard law professor who "knows nothing about the situation in Palestine." Rather than an academic debate, Carter would rather appear on late night comedy TV.

    HARRY TRUMAN famously said that if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. By refusing Brandeis's invitation to take part in a debate about his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," former president Jimmy Carter is saying that he can't take the heat -- after giving his book a controversial title and boasting of a desire to be provocative.
    Globe Editorial, "Jimmy Carter vs. Jimmy Carter," Boston Globe, December 16, 2006 --- Click Here
    Jensen Comment
    What struck me about the above quotation is not its content. Rather it is its source, the very liberal Boston Globe.

    Leno said to the president who held office more than 25 years ago, "But when Israel gives something back, it doesn't seem like they get anything for it. It seems like it just moves some angry people closer to them." "No, that's not true at all," responded Carter. "Israel hasn't really tried to give 'Palestine' back to the Palestinians. They did give up some of Gaza. And then they moved out, and the Palestinians captured one soldier and tried to swap [him] for 300 children – some as young as 12 years old – and 94 women, but the Israelis wouldn't swap. So then Israel reinvaded Gaza. But if Israel ever wants peace – and they do want peace – a majority of Israelis have always said, 'Let's get rid of the land, and let's have peace.' That's what we need to have."
    "Carter to Leno: Treatment of Palestinians 'horrible'," WorldNetDaily, December 12, 2006 ---
    Jensen Comment
    Perhaps Israel has been wrong all along by detaining suicide bombers when they're women or children as young as 12 years old. Women and young male children should be given at least a second chance for a kill.


    Jimmy Carter's not the only author criticized for writing a pro-Palestinian book with bad scholarship
    First published by Pantheon in 1978 and eventually translated into some three dozen languages, Said’s book (
    Orientalism) was an ambitious effort to use concepts from 20th century cultural theory to scrutinize the way Western academics and writers understood “the East” during the era of European imperial expansion. Said treated Western literature and scholarship as an integral part of the process of absorbing, assimilating, and policing the colonial Other. That interpretation is now often taken more or less for granted in some parts of the humanities  . . . Beyond catching Said in various misstatements, Irwin’s argument is that the field of European research into Middle Eastern language, culture, and history was by no means so tightly linked to Western imperial ambitions as Orientalism suggests. He is also very skeptical of the value of analyzing Orientalist scholarship alongside Western literary texts devoted to the East — evading the distinctions between kinds of texts by treating them all as manifestations of a colonialist discourse . . . Said wrote lots of valid political polemic, but Orientalism was a rotten book and it was inevitable that someone should blow a whistle on it. It has been a delusive distraction. It converted real political and social issues into a campus dog-fight. Soothing displacement activity indeed.
    Scott McLemee, "What Said Said," Inside Higher Ed, December 13. 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/12/13/mclemee





    Forwarded by Dick Haar


    Made in the USA --- Spoiled Brats


    The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? The same magazine that employs Michael (Qurans in the toilets at Gitmo) Isikoff.   Here I promised myself this week I would be nice and I start off in this way.

    The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change.

    So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?''

    Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?


    Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

    Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

    How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

    Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

    I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

    Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

    So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they are going to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn't kill his wife but if he did … insane!

    Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

    I close with one of my favorite quotes from B.C. Forbes in 1953:

    ''What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, 'the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.' Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs.''

    I suggest we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don't, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the ''greediest and most ungrateful generation.'' A far cry from the proud Americans of the ''greatest generation'' who left us an untarnished legacy.



    December 13, 2006 message from Roger Lewis [rplewis@stcloudstate.edu]

    Here's a little song in the holiday spirit for our first final today . . . The tune should be familiar.

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
    While the students are yelling
    Professors are telling them
    “Finals are here!”
    It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

    It’s the hap, happiest season of all.
    But some students are crying
    while pencils are flying ‘round
    in Stewart Hall.
    It’s the hap, happiest season of all!

    There’ll be cramming till midnight
    books open till just right
    before all the finals will start.
    There’ll be scary old stories of
    finals so gory and teachers
    who don’t have a heart.

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
    There’ll be much celebrating
    with “A’’s for the taking
    but some students will hear
    “Kid, you failed, so we’ll see you next year!”

    Roger P. Lewis, MAc, CPA (exp)
    Instructor, Department of Accounting
    G.R. Herberger College of Business
    Saint Cloud State University
    720 Fourth Avenue South - BB 259
    Saint Cloud, MN   56301-4498

    e-mail:  rplewis@stcloudstate.edu

    Forwarded by Auntie Bev


    Children Writing About the Sea..
    1) This is a picture of an octopus It has eight testicles. 
    (Kelly age 6)

    2) Oysters' balls are called pearls. (James age 6)

    3) If you are surrounded by sea you are an Island. If you don't
    have sea  all round you, you are in continent. (Wayne age 7)

    4) Sharks are ugly and mean, and have big teeth, just like Emily
    Richardson. She's not my friend no more. (Kylie age 6)

    5) A dolphin breaths through an asshole on the top of its head.
    (Billy age 8)

    6) My uncle goes out in his boat with pots, and comes back with
     crabs.(Millie age 6)

    7) When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross
    the ocean. Sometimes, when the wind didn't blow, the sailors would
    whistle to make the wind come. My brother said they would be
    better off eating beans. (William age 7)

    8) I like mermaids. They are beautiful, and I like their shiny
    tails.  How  do mermaids get pregnant? (Helen age 6)

    9) I'm not going to write about the sea. My baby brother is
    always screaming and being sick, my Dad keeps shouting at my
    Mom, and my big sister has just got pregnant, so I can't think
    what to write.  (Amy age 6)

    10) Some fish are dangerous. Jellyfish can sting. Electric eels
    can give  you a shock. They have to live in caves under the sea
    where I think they have to plug themselves into chargers.
    (Christopher age 7)

    11) When you go swimming in the sea, it is very cold & it makes
    my willy small.  (Kevin age 6)


    Forwarded by Team Carper
    Husband's note on refrigerator for wife:

    Someone from the Gyna Colleges called.
    They said the Pabst beer is normal.
    I didn't know you liked beer.

    Forwarded by Dick Haar

    Cannibal restaurant

    A cannibal was walking through the jungle and came upon a restaurant opened by a fellow cannibal. Feeling hungry, he sat down and looked over the menu...

    Broiled Missionary: $10.00

    Fried Explorer: $15.00

    Baked Politician: $100.00.

    The cannibal called the waiter over and asked, "Why such a price difference for the politician?"

    The cook replied: "Have you ever tried to clean one?"

    Forwarded by Michael Schweitzer


    1. Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the
    recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim
    that it's myrrh.

    2 If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it
    inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates
    a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on
    Christmas morning:

    YOUR WIFE: "Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?"
    YOU: "It's a gift! See? It has a bow!"
    YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): "It's a leaf blower."
    YOU: "Gas-powered! Five horsepower!"
    YOUR WIFE: "I want a divorce."
    YOU: "I also got you some myrrh."

    3. The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make
    your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in
    half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch
    They must be smoking crack!

    In conclusion, remember that the important thing is not what you give, or how you wrap it. The really important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt.


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

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

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

    Three Finance Blogs

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

    Some Accounting Blogs

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

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

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

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