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
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:
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
I also show you the legitimate place to go for a free credit report.
Tidbits on December 18, 2006
earlier editions of Tidbits go to
earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures
Bob Jensen's Home Page is at
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
The Danes thought that they had a great solution to driver
speed control until they found that it created gridlock ---
I'll have a Danish to go please!
Video: Nuckin Futs 2006 Year in Review Children's Musical ---
This video follows a video commercial.
Video: One Laptop per Child ---
Stories of Professors at ThePhantomProf Blog ---
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] ---
AISH (Jewish Spiritual) ---
The (New) National World War One Museum (includeds video
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 ---
Happy Holidays from Ernst & Young ---
President Bush: Hu's on First ---
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 ---
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
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
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
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
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 ---
Holiday Music (Free Downloads) ---
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the
Bob Jensen's Rusty Chevrolet ---
Christmas in Dixie (not in New Hampshire) ---
Blue Christmas ---
Jingle Bell Rock (Randy Travis) ---
Jingle Bells (Dean Martin) ---
Please Come Home for Christmas ---
Redneck 12 Days of Christmas ---
The Christmas Song ---
Silent Night ---
I Want Elvis for Christmas ---
Christmas With Elvis ---
I could not get the audio to work on this ne one from Janie ---
Many more Elvis selections that do work ---
The Best Holiday Jazz CDs Ever, from WDUQ ---
Nat "King" Cole: The Christmas Song
Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Trio:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Diana Krall Featuring the Clayton-Hamilton
Jazz Orchestra: Christmas Songs
Nancy Wilson: A
Nancy Wilson Christmas
Christmas Time Is Here
"'Zat You, Santa Claus?" (Louis Armstrong)
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Wynton Marsalis, Crescent City Christmas Card
- Diane Delin, "Overture from the Nutcracker Suite"
Great Big Band Holiday Music ---
Great Orchestration of the 12 Days of Christmas
Santa's Dreaming of a White Christmas ---
Mary Do You Know ---
The Best, Worst and Weirdest in Holiday CDs ---
Mutter, Orkis Explore the Genius of Mozart ---
Director's Cuts: Holiday Gift Picks for 2006 ---
NPR Online Concerts ---
Christian Pop Gets Metaphysical -- and Tuneful
Digital Sheet Music Collection: University of Colorado
Witty Tunes Are Jonathan Coulton's 'Thing' ---
Ethan Ong The Drummer Drum prodigy and Youngest Busker in
Ernst & Young Accounting Firm Happy Days (Video) ---
This may secretly be a celebration of Happy Days brought about by Sarbanes.
Photographs and Art
Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
International Spy Museum ---
Also see "A prowl through the Spy Museum, by George Melloan, The Wall Street
Journal, December 12, 2006 ---
Free from Random House, The 100 Best Novels ---
Quotiki (quotations) ---
One Sentence Stories ---
New Poems by Robert Louis
Stevenson (1850-1894) ---
Fantastic Fables by Ambrose
Bierce (1842 1914) ---
Shatter Writer's Block ---
Bob Jensen's writing helpers ---
Booksellers Pick Their Holiday Favorites ---
NPR Picks Holiday Favorites ---
NPR Picks Holiday Books for Kids ---
Books for Everyone on Your Holiday Gift List ---
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
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
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
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 ---
Just goes to show you that one bird in hand is not worth
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
) . . .
December 16, 2006 email message from Naomi Ragen
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
"Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel off map; Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the
map," Al Jazeera ---
Also see "Holocaust conference begins in Iran," by Nasser Karimi, Boston
Globe, December 12, 2006 ---
"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
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:
"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
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
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
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
Henry Sololski, "Hair-Raising New
World," The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2006; Page A20 ---
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
"Canadian prof shocked by Holocaust gathering,"
December 13, 2006 ---
Also see "Professor’s Attendance at ‘Conference’ Stuns Canada," Inside Higher
Ed, December 15, 2006 ---
“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
Scott Jaschik quoting Shiraz Dossa
(Canadian professor who was an invited speaker at Iran's Holocaust denial
conference), Inside Higher Ed, December 15, 2006 ---
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things
he can afford to let alone.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ---
It's scary when you start making the same noises as
your coffee maker.
Ever get a feeling that your stuff strutted off
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
" . . . 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
CyberAlert, December 15, 2006 ---
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 ---
Yeah right. His utterly hopeless candidacy more likely has more despicable
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.
Don Surber, "Demagoguery earns
Kucinich millions," Charlestown Mail, December 15, 2006 ---
Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on
forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
Kenneth Boulding (1910-1993) ---
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 ---
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 ---
The Best Science Fictions
By Aria Pearson, Wired Magazine
, December 2006
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
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
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
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
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
It's been a real long wait
This is our second date
It's Christmas Eve
And I'm getting laid.
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 ---
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 ---
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
"9/11: The Roots of Paranoia," by Christopher Hayes, The Nation,
December 8, 2006 ---
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
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
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
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 ---
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 ---
How to check on a charity or church before you donate
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law ---
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
Guidestar also provides salary disclosures for top executives in the charity.
However, funds can be diverted by cheats in other ways.
Nonprofit Compensation Reports
"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
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."
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
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
Do hybrid vehicles (today, at least) appear to be another feel good/do nothing
Comparisons of Hybrid Fuel Saving Automobiles ---
It's beginning to look like a hoax ---
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 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 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 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 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
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 ---
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,
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,"
December 15, 2006 ---
The knowledge economy of Europe ---
(Including how Europe compares with the U.S. in terms of the knowledge
Native American Code of Ethics ---
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
"Blair defends Saudi arms decision," Al Jazeera, December 16, 2006
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
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
"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 ---
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
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,"
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 ---
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
"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
The press is an evil for which there is no remedy.
Liberty depends upon freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) ---
"The Media Is in Need of Some Mending," by Peter R. Kann,
Street Journal, December 11, 2006; Page A18 ---
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
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
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 ---
IBM has launched a new weather service called
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
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
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
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
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,
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 ---
The FAQ answers about Deep Thunder are at
What is most important is to scroll down the above FAQ page to view the
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
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
12, 2006 message from David Raggay [draggay@TSTT.NET.TT]
Any one aware of any outstanding train the trainer
12, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
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
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
accounting winner was Joe Ben Hoyle at the University of Richmond according
to Business Week, September 20, 2006 ---
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
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
There is a great little article at
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?
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 ---
I'd be more impressed if KB homes bought back the fundamentally-flawed
cracked foundations of all those defective homes built in Texas ---
Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation are at
Auto and Truck Repair and Advice ---
(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 ---
Google Earth --- http://earth.google.com/
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
"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
Parent Resource Page for Daycare Centers ---
"How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century," by Claudia Wallis
and Sonja Steptoe, Time Magazine Cover Story, December 10, 2006 ---
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
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
Inside Higher Ed, December 12, 2006 ---
"The Failure of Critical Thinking," by John V. Lombardi, Inside
Higher Ed, December 12, 2006 ---
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
Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students ---
Novel Ideas aids for writers (with audio) ---
Bob Jensen's writing helpers are at
Helpers for Managing a Restaurant
Restaurant Doctor ---
Bob Jensen's online training links are at
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 ---
Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at
White Collar Crime Pays Even If You Get Caught
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 ---
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
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
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
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
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
Then again, the prosecution laid out a case that,
in the court of public opinion at least, might be seen as difficult to
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
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
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
"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
You can read more about why white collar crime pays at
You can read more about the Rigas' crimes and the Adelphia accounting
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,
"Plagiarism and 'Atonement'," by Eugene Volokh, The Wall Street
Journal, December 12, 2006; Page A18 ---
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
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
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
Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at
Controversies in Regulation of Distance Education
"All Over the Map," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, December 8, 2006
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,
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
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 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on Grant Thornton (especially the Refco audit failure)
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 ---
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
Greater Accounting Transparency Sought by the Community College of
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,"
Higher Ed, December 8. 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
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
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
Inside Higher Ed, December 13, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
Continued Controversies in Assessment of Colleges
"Feeling the Winds From Washington," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed,
December 11, 2006 ---
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,
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
“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
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
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,”
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) ---
Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
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
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
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!
From Jim Mahar's Blog on December 9, 2006 ---
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
Who is the highest paid actress in the world?
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
Drew Barrymore and
placed third, fourth and fifth,
respectively. They also get $15 million for each film. Rounding out the top 10
Halle Berry ($14 million), Charlize Theron ($10
($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
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 ---
"10 biggest media lawsuit payouts listed Media Law Research Center: Cash
awards often reversed on appeal," WorldNetDaily, November 30, 2006
Here is the Top Ten list of "trial awards"
in media libel, privacy and related cases, assembled by the
Media Law Research Center:
- $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
- $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.
- $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.
- $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.
- $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.
- $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.
- $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
- $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.
- $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
- $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:
- $58 million. Feazell lvs. A.H. Belo Corp.
- $29 million. Svivastava vs. Harte-Hanks. Settled for $8.5 million.
- $24 million. Sprague (II) vs. Philadelphia Newspapers. Settled for
estimated $20 million.
- $13.5 million. Newcome & Assoc. vs. Plain Dealear Publishing Co.
Settled for unknown amount before appeal.
- $11.9 million. Lee vs. Duddy.
- $11 million. Prozeralik (II) vs. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. Settled
for unknown amount.
- $5.9 million. Cramlet (II) vs. Multi-Media Program Productions.
Settled for unknown amount. (This was a claim over interference with
- $5 million. Nguyen vs. Nguyen
- $3 million. Brown & Williamson vs. Jacobson.
- $2.9 million. Kentucky Kingdom, Inc., vs. Journal Broadcasting of
December 14, 2006 message from David Albrecht
There's a nice slide show on e-week. Students might
"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 ---
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
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
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
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---
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.
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.
Co.'s Kodak EasyShare Gallery
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
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
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
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 ---
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
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
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
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
I added MortgageLoan.com
Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at
What an attention grabber!
From The Washington Post on December 11, 2006
Who topped Yahoo's list of popular search
From The Washington Post on December 13, 2006
Iran recently blocked access to which Web site?
"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
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
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
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
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
"Does he love you so? Maybe it really is in his face…," PhysOrg, December
14, 2006 ---
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 ---
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 ---
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
Gina Kolata, "Reversing Trend, Big Drop Is Seen in Breast Cancer," The New
York Times, December 15, 2006 ---
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 ---
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
"Bitter Pills," Business Week, December 18, 2006 ---
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 ---
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 ---
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,"
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
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
"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 ---
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 ---
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.
"Jimmy Carter's Book Stirs Criticism, Complaint,"
NPR, December 11, 2006 ---
Also "Mideast Fantasies," December 13, 2006 ---
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 --
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
"Carter to Leno: Treatment of Palestinians
'horrible'," WorldNetDaily, December 12, 2006 ---
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
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 ---
I don't think that it's quite as simple as that. President Carter was quite
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 ---
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 ---
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 ---
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
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 ---
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.
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
Is it that we
and running water 24 hours a day,
7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having
conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?
Could it be that
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
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
restaurants with varying cuisine
from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when
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
case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in
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
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
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.
why then the
flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans?
Say what you want but I
blame it on the
If it bleeds it leads and
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
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!
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.
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
A far cry from the proud Americans of the ''greatest generation'' who
left us an untarnished legacy.
December 13, 2006 message from Roger Lewis
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
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
About the Sea..
1) This is
a picture of an octopus It has eight testicles.
(Kelly age 6)
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)
dolphin breaths through an asshole on the top of its head.
(Billy age 8)
My uncle goes out in his boat with pots, and comes back with
7) When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to
Sometimes, when the wind didn't blow, the sailors would
make the wind come. My brother said they would be
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)
I'm not going to write about the sea. My baby brother is
screaming and being sick, my Dad keeps shouting at my
Mom, and my
big sister has just got pregnant, so I can't think
write. (Amy age 6)
10) Some fish are dangerous. Jellyfish can sting. Electric eels
you a shock. They have to live in caves under the sea
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
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
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
GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN:
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
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
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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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