It's blue bonnet season in Texas. My secretary Debbie Bowling back at Trinity University and her husband Sam took this picture in the Hill Country. Meanwhile up here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire we're having another Nor-easter that's expected to drop over a foot of new snow in high winds today. I sent an email message to Al Gore requesting that he come up this way and find the switch that turns off the Winter of 2007. Otherwise there may be no Spring of 2007 up here.

Below is  . . . well I think you get the picture of our cottage in Springtime 2007!

Today's howling blizzard winds are shaking the walls of our cottage above pictured just before this storm. The tips of our fence posts were visible before this new blizzard (mixed with rain). The winds are even worse on the summit of Mount Washington (which I cannot see today through the snow):

Summit Conditions – 5:00 AM, on April 16, 2007
Temp Wind Gust W. Chill


135° (SE), 107.6 mph

131.2 mph


Update at 5:00 a.m. on April 18

This edition of Tidbits was supposed to be released at 6:00 a.m. on April 16, but, before I could send the file to my Web server, 80+ mph winds toppled tens of thousands of trees in the White Mountains and knocked out our power and Internet connections for nearly two days.
Winds on Mount Washington rose to over 150 mph. These roaring winds also took off half of the shingles on the northeast side of our relatively new roof. The falling snow at 5:00 a.m. on April 16 changed to horizontal rain that, among other things, ruined our dining room ceiling (again).  Sigh!

But all-in-all we're lucky. It would've been far worse without heat had the temperatures been below zero. There was never any threat of pipes freezing up. Erika and I stayed relatively cozy with the four iron propane stoves in our fireplaces. We have some trees down in our woods and the dining room ceiling "wall paper" and underlying plaster needs replacing. Our roofing company made temporary repairs to our roof. Others nearby were not so lucky. There will be much damage with flooding down in the lowlands.

Next week, after the horse is out of the barn, we're setting the wheels in motion to install a propane electricity generator that will kick in whenever the power goes out. Outages occur altogether too often up in these mountains, but usually (not like April 16-17) power is restored in less than six hours.  If any of you are interested in a generator, the cost we discovered is about $10,000 for what we want. There are, of course, both cheaper and more expensive alternatives.

We're used to howling winds. but for much of April 16 there was a roaring freight train of wind and rain. The rain quickly melted much of the snow, but where snow drifts were over four feet deep there are still gushy snow banks. I had to shovel yesterday to get into my barn.

What was really eerie was to look out into the pitch black and not see a single light anywhere. Clouds blocked our view of the night sky. Normally we can look down in any direction at the night's lights of several villages  There was not one visible light while our power grid was shut down. It was shut down so that chain saw crews could cut trees leaning on power lines.

And then the first thing we learned when our power was restored was about the senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech, a campus where I've been invited to speak several times over my career. This morning I learned that the daughter of a Virginia Tech accounting professor, Bryan Cloyd, was killed. She was a first-year student in a French class when she was shot.

This makes our storm ordeal seem entirely trivial.

Bob Jensen


Tidbits on April 16, 2007
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
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Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
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Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

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Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
       (Also scroll down to the table at )

Set up free conference calls 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 ---

Vonnegut Videos ---

What I Like About Texas (where I lived for 24 years) --- 

How to Tell When the Relationship is Over ---

Video from J.H. Cohn in April 2007 --- FASB's Fair Value 'Option' ---
For Bob Jensen's threads on Fair Value Accounting are at

Free music downloads ---

Pianist Brings Power to Liszt Concerto ---

Gaetano Donizetti's 'Anna Bolena' (opera) ---

What I Like About Texas (where I lived for 24 years) --- 

Rickie Lee Jones' Divine Departure ---

A Song of Faith, Devotion and Lung Power ---

Delayed but Not Denied, a Lost Soul Classic ---

Lily Allen in Concert with The Bird and The Bee ---

A Rock Sleeper Makes Guitars the Star ---

Google not only lets you search for movie information, it also is a great search engine for music. Google knows the names of tens of thousands of popular performers; all you have to do is enter the performer’s name in the search box, and Google returns specific information about that performer. ---

Photographs and Art

Better, More Accurate Image Search
By modifying a common type of machine-learning technique, researchers have found a better way to identify pictures," by Kate Greene,  MIT's Technology Review, April 9, 2007 ---

Otherworldly Photos by Galileo, Voyager & Co. ---

Photographs of Missouri Skies --- (shared photographs) ---
The Gallery lets you upload and exhibit your best work. Get critiques, comments, and ratings from other members of the community.

John-Paul Jeppersen Photography ---

Martha Stewart's advice on home and decorating --- Click Here

DQ Books (I like the page turning technology of this site) ---

Running the Numbers An American Self-Portrait
This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics.


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 ---

National Poetry Month 2007 (poems chosen by the Academy of American Poets) ---

Poetry Online (read and/or listen to the poems) ---, featuring completely free books from a variety of different authors, collected here for you to read online or offline ---

Latest (out of many available):
Books from Google Books
Monkey Games
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
Humorous Masterpieces from American Literature
Essays by Alice Meynell
Le portrait de monsieur W.H.
Red Money
History of Holland
More Jataka Tales
The Light in the Clearing
Lewis Rand
The Wheel of Life

ShortStories ---

Classics at the Online Literature Library ---

Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce --- Click Here

The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle --- Click Here

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe --- Click Here

A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman by Mary Shelley --- Click Here

Martha Stewart's advice on how to entertain --- Click Here

  • What you think is the summit is only a step up.
    Lucius Annaeus Seneca  (the son) --- Click Here

    The problem with former presidents is that knowing them keeps you from being awed by the presidency. When you haven't met them, you have a more austere and august sense of who they are, and what a president is. Candidates on the trail today would be better off keeping as their template for the office Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln -- the unattainable greats. It's no good to just be thinking, At least I'm better than Clinton, at least I'm better than Bush. Something to reach for even if you know it will exceed your grasp. But it's good to be reaching upward, not stooping. Peggy Noonan, "The Incredible Shrinking Candidates," The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2007; Page P14 ---

    Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.
    Douglas Adams ---

    We believe only in what we see, so since the advent of television we believe in everything.
    Dieter Hildebrandt --- Click Here

    There are two explanations one can give for this state of affairs here. The first is due to the great English economist Maurice Dobb according to whom the theory of value was replaced in the United States by theory of price. May be, the consequence for us today is that we know the price of everything but perhaps the value of nothing. Economics divorced from politics and philosophy is vacuous. In accounting, we have inherited the vacuousness by ignoring those two enduring areas of inquiry.
    Professor Jagdish Gangolly, SUNY Albany

    The second is the comment that Joan Robinson made about American Keynsians: that their theories were so flimsy that they had to put math into them. In accounting academia, the shortest path to respectability seems to be to use math (and statistics), whether meaningful or not.
    Professor Jagdish Gangolly, SUNY Albany
    Bob Jensen's threads on the sad state of academic accounting research --- Click Here

    I hope the news is taping this, 'cause I'm gonna turn pigs (police) into bacon bits.
    Rodney Jean Jaques going by the name "Cal Akbar." illustrating typical lyrics that is typical of the lyrics deemed acceptable by MTV and radio stations.
    "Anti-'pig' lyrics burn firefighter ," by David Gambacorta and Christine Olley, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 14, 2007

    In what segment of American culture would one be most likely to encounter such stereotypes? We'd venture to say the answer is rap music, also known as hip hop. There's one rap band that actually calls itself Nappy Roots. And of course references to women as "hos" are commonplace in rap lyrics, such as this one by Christopher Bridges, who uses the stage name "Ludacris":
    James Taranto, "Imus and Obama's Daughters," The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2007 --- Click Here

    Miracle Gro Plant Food is Full of piss and vinegar (just kidding — there's no vinegar).
    Wired Magazine, March 2007 ---

    What makes some people who had no interest in schooling whatsoever desperate to earn a liberal arts college degree? This was one of the most tear-rendering and enlightening modules I ever watched on television.

    Long-term incarceration! Long-term prisoners have the luxury of free time to study and boredoms that make in-depth learning, without distractions, a better choice in life. Professors from Bard College discovered that the courses they normally teach on campus had to be made more difficult for maximum-security prisoners behind prison walls, because these convicted murderers and rapists study longer hours and want to learn more desperately than on-campus students. One prisoner who was transferred from a hard-time maximum security prison to a low-security prison requests being sent back to the hard-time place so he can continue to take his Bard College courses.

    On April 15, 2007 this was one of the best CBS 60 Minutes modules ever. For a short time you can watch the video online (Click the "Watch Now" Tab at  )
    Over the long haul you can purchase this video from CBS.

    MAXIMUM SECURITY EDUCATION – Bob Simon visits a prison where inmates serving long sentences have found a way to free their minds through college education provided by elite Bard College. Catherine Olian is the producer.

    I'm reminded of a mathematician, Egon Balas, at Carnegie-Mellon University who spent 10 years in solitary confinement as a political prisoner in Hungary. He was a PhD Economist before being incarcerated. With nothing whatsoever to read and no contact with the outside world, he stared at the walls and taught himself advanced mathematics. Among other things, after he was released and came to the U.S., he extended the Branch and Bound Algorithm for integer programming. Without incarceration he most likely would never have become a noted mathematician.

    Shaking Up the Telephone Companies
    Google's Free (from a telephone) Telephone Number Directory
    (not yet available in April 2007 but coming soon)

    "911 for 411:  Google's new free directory assistance is sure to be popular with consumers, but it means trouble on the line for the big phone companies," by Olga Kharif , Business Week, April 11, 2007 --- Click Here

    The days of paying north of a buck for directory assistance over the phone may be coming to an end—at least if Google and a gaggle of startups have anything to say about it. One little-known company has already grabbed 5% of the business by offering free service. Now, the Web search leader is going public with its own version that lets callers search for business listings from a land-line or mobile phone. Google (GOOG) will even connect the call and text the number to the user's cell phone—all for no charge.

    That's likely to be music to the ears of the millions of 411 users who, according to consultancy the Pierz Group, pay an average of $1.28 a pop for assistance over a regular phone and a whopping $1.57 for each such call via a cell phone.

    Market Share

    Google's service, still in testing mode, will probably cause static for the big phone companies that now dominate the $8 billion U.S. directory assistance industry, and add to the disruption it's already causing, along with Yahoo! (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT), elsewhere in the directory assistance business.

    Just last month, Microsoft acquired Tellme, which provides automated directory assistance services to telcos such as Cingular/AT&T (T) (see, 3/15/07, "Microsoft's Expansive Plans for Tellme"). Tellme is testing a free 411 service of its own.

    In just a year and a half, Jingle Networks has used its free service to nab 5% of the directory assistance market. The company says it has forwarded more than 200 million calls, resulting in $400 million in savings for customers. Free 411 services from the likes of Google and other new entrants such as cable companies could garner 15% of the market in four to five years, says Daniel Phibbs, an analyst at the Pierz Group.

    Easy Add-ons

    Here's how free 411 works: By and large, the services are paid for by advertisers that insert a short marketing message at some stage of the call. "The advertiser community has really embraced this channel, because they reach consumers at the point of purchase," says Lyn Chitow Oaks, senior vice-president of marketing at Jingle. The company's advertisers include McDonald's (MCD), 1-800-FLOWERS (FLWS), and CBS (CBS).

    The company has yet to turn profitable—it expects to reach breakeven in 12 to 18 months—but Jingle has had no apparent trouble raising funds from investors like Goldman Sachs (GS) and Comcast Interactive Capital, an investing arm of Comcast (CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable provider.

    Directory assistance is just one of many ways search engines like Google can bring the Web to mobile phones. Once they've served up a number, why not also shoot over directions to the business? Tellme provides stock quotes and weather updates. Google and Microsoft could find any number of ways to generate ad revenue by reaching more of the roughly 235 million Americans with cell phones.

    Don't think Big Telecom hasn't noticed. In December, AT&T began testing free 411 calling in three markets: Bakersfield, Calif.; Oklahoma City; and Columbus, Ohio. "411 isn't going away, but big companies are certainly taking a very long look at this free business model," says Phibbs of the Pierz Group. Callers get their listings for free in exchange for listening to two 15-second ads, one at the beginning and one toward the end of each call. In the next several months, the company plans to expand the trial to other metropolitan areas, says AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook. "There's been high interest in the markets we've trialed it in," he says.

    Free Jolt

    As disruptive as free 411 may be, its success isn't assured. First there's the matter of making money from it. "For the economics of free directory assistance to work, you have to control costs very well," says Laura Marino, director of product management at Tellme.

    Free directory assistance also can be glitchy. Most free 411 services, such as Google's, rely on voice-recognition software and don't use live operators; as a result, they fail to complete many calls, says Phibbs. Google's service hung up on a reporter requesting a number for a coffee shop in Portland.

    Ultimately, free 411 may expand the market. Today, fewer than 10% of Americans actually know how much they pay for 411 calls, according to the Pierz Group. Many free callers may have never even used directory assistance before, Phibbs adds. Free 411 could reenergize an industry where sales growth has been stunted by increased reliance on Internet-based directories. For consumers fed up with high phone bills, that's one very good call.

    Jensen Comment
    Google is not the first to offer free telephone (free phone number) directory service via a telephone.
    For example try the following that appeared in my October 21, 2005 edition of Tidbits ---

    1-800-Free411 (1-800-373-3411) Telephone Directory Assistance ---
    This is a free phone directory (if you're on a telephone), but I only recently got it to work..  Last weekend it just would not  work for me.  But by the middle of the day on October 17, a recorded female voice asked me to speak the city and state.  Then a live voice came on (faintly) and asked for the name of the party I wanted to phone.  The service found the correct number and dialed it automatically for me.  I didn't get any advertising this first time I tried it, but I suspect there is some sort of advertising since the site above solicits advertisers.

    Of course if you're on the Web, a better alternative is to probably use one of the many free phone number search services such as Switchboard ---
    There are also various yellow page search services such as those listed at

    But I don't know of any other "Ernestines" out there who will give you free phone numbers over the telephone other than
    (if you catch it when it is working).

    Google's Directory Services ---

    • Contents Google Is a Calculator
    • Google Knows Mathematical Constants
    • Google Converts Units of Measure Google Is a Dictionary
    • Google Is a Glossary Google Lists All the Facts
    • Google Displays Weather Reports
    • Google Knows Current Airport Conditions
    • Google Tracks Flight Status Google Tracks Packages
    • Google Is a Giant Phone Directory
    • Google Knows Area Codes
    • Google Has Movie Information
    • Google Loves Music
    • Google Knows the Answer to the Ultimate Question

    Other related links:

    ATT AnyWho Toll-Free  
    Search for numbers by business name.
    Internet 800 Directory  
    Toll free listings of businesses by company, number, location and product or service.
    Canada TollFree  
    Sympatico's online directory of toll free business phone numbers.
    National Internet Tollfree Directory  
    Offers toll free telephone numbers for United States and Canadian businesses with web site links and email addresses. Search by name, key words or heading, or browse categories.
    Hard to Find 800 Numbers -
    Toll-free customer service phone numbers of online retailers, when available.

    Set up free conference calls at

    Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

    Google Links Summary ---

    Google (Web Images, Video, News, Maps Desktop, and More) ---
    Google Advanced ---
    Google Advanced Scholar Search ---
    Google Maps ---
    Google Finance ---

    Did you ever scroll down Google's Advanced Search Site?
    Go to

    Google Book Search - Search the full text of books
    New! Google Code Search - Search public source code
    Google Scholar - Search scholarly papers
    Google News archive search - Search historical news


    Apple Macintosh - Search for all things Mac
    BSD Unix - Search web pages about the BSD operating system
    Linux - Search all penguin-friendly pages
    Microsoft - Search Microsoft-related pages


    U.S. Government - Search all U.S. federal, state and local government sites
    Universities - Search a specific school's website

    What new search databases are available from Google?

    Did you ever notice the links below?

    Google Web Search Features

    In addition to providing easy access to billions of web pages, Google has many special features to help you to find exactly what you're looking for. Click the title of a specific feature to learn more about it.

      • Book Search Use Google to search the full text of books.
      • Cached Links View a snapshot of each page as it looked when we indexed it.
      • Calculator Use Google to evaluate mathematical expressions.
      • Currency Conversion Easily perform any currency conversion.
      • Definitions Use Google to get glossary definitions gathered from various online sources.
      • File Types Search for non-HTML file formats including PDF documents and others.
      • Froogle To find a product for sale online, use Froogle - Google's product search service.
      • Groups See relevant postings from Google Groups in your regular web search results.
      • I'm Feeling Lucky Bypass our results and go to the first web page returned for your query.
      • Images See relevant images in your regular web search results.
      • Local Search Search for local businesses and services in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.
      • Movies Use Google to find reviews and showtimes for movies playing near you.
      • Music Search Use Google to get quick access to a wide range of music information.
      • News Headlines Enhances your search results with the latest related news stories.
      • PhoneBook Look up U.S. street address and phone number information.
      • Q&A Use Google to get quick answers to straightforward questions.
      • Refine Your Search - New! Add instant info and topic-specific links to your search in order to focus and improve your results.
      • Results Prefetching Makes searching in Firefox faster.
      • Search By Number Use Google to access package tracking information, US patents, and a variety of online databases.
      • Similar Pages Display pages that are related to a particular result.
      • Site Search Restrict your search to a specific site.
      • Spell Checker Offers alternative spelling for queries.
      • Stock and Fund Quotes Use Google to get up-to-date stock and mutual fund quotes and information.
      • Street Maps Use Google to find U.S. street maps.
      • Travel Information Check the status of an airline flight in the U.S. or view airport delays and weather conditions.
      • Weather Check the current weather conditions and forecast for any location in the U.S.
      • Web Page Translation  Provides you access to web pages in other languages.
      • Who Links To You? Find pages that point to a specific URL.

    And more Google Links ---

    Blog Search
    Find blogs on your favorite topics
    Book Search
    Search the full text of books
    Search and browse mail-order catalogs
    Complete online purchases more quickly and securely
    Search and personalize your computer
    Browse the web by topic
    Explore the world from your PC
    Business info, news, and interactive charts
    Shop for items to buy online and at local stores
    Search for images on the web
    Find local businesses and get directions
    View maps and get directions
    News - now with archive searchNew!
    Search thousands of news stories
    Clip and collect information as you surf the web
    Patent SearchNew!
    Search the full text of US Patents
    Search scholarly papers
    Specialized Searches
    Search within specific topics
    Add a search box to your browser
    Search for videos on Google Video and YouTube
    Web Search
    Search over billions of web pages
    Web Search Features
    Find movies, music, stocks, books, and more

    Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

    How do scholars search the Web ---

    Question: Where do your favorite research journals rank among scientific journals according to their eigenfactor scores?

    The answer is in Issues in Scholarly Communications from the University of Illinois
    This includes accounting, finance, and business academic research journals.

    Better, More Accurate Image Search
    By modifying a common type of machine-learning technique, researchers have found a better way to identify pictures," by Kate Greene,  MIT's Technology Review, April 9, 2007 ---

    Bob Jensen's image search helpers are at

    Investment Glossary

    April 16, 2007 message from FG Pietersz []

  • I would like to make a suggestion for your tools page. I hope it is OK to email you with this.

  • I run a investment glossary website contains more detailed explanations as well as brief glossary type explanations. It is browseable alphabetically and by category, and well cross referenced. The extra level of detail should be particualrly helpful to students.

  • The site is already listed in a number of high quality collections of investment resources. These include Yahoo UK (within the investment and finance guides glossary category) and Professor Wachowicz's (at the University of Tennessee Knoxville) list of web sites for finance students.

  • The url is  The site name is Money Terms.

  • Thanks for your time.

  • Regards,

  • Graeme Pietersz

  • April 18, 2007 reply by Bob Jensen

    I added the above glossary link to the following sites:

    Bob Jensen

    Accountancy and the da Vinci Code

    April 12, 2007 message from Barry Rice [brice@LOYOLA.EDU

    From the April 11 Brisbane Times:

    Forgotten magic manual contains original da Vinci code
    AFTER lying almost untouched in the vaults of an Italian university for 500 years, a book on the magic arts written by Leonardo da Vinci's best friend and teacher has been translated into English for the first time.

    The world's oldest magic text, De viribus quantitatis (On the Powers of Numbers), was penned by Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan monk who shared lodgings with da Vinci.

    Continued at  .

    E. Barry Rice, MBA, CPA
    Director, Instructional Services
    Emeritus Accounting Professor
    Loyola College in Maryland

    Facebook me!

    April 13, 2007 reply from Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU]

    This is fascinating!!! How incredible to find that Pacioli and DaVinci were best friends and roommates!.

    p Don't waste time learning the tricks of the trade. Instead, learn the trade.

    Patricia A. Doherty
    Department of Accounting
    Boston University School of Management
    595 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA 02215

    Bob Jensen's threads on the history of accountancy are at

    Is the word "wiki" in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary?

    "Keeping Up With the Web's New Lingo:  With words being created, put to use, and accepted in the blink of an eye, they're becoming a challenge to the reference world's gatekeepers,"  by Catherine Holahan, Business Week, April 12, 2007 --- 

    The ease and speed with which people publish their lingo online has diminished the ability to judge a word's worth by its written frequency. Within a few short months, a new slang term may appear on thousands—if not millions—of Web pages and blogs, Pitoniak says. Even a misspelled word can return thousands of Web pages on a Google search. "You have to make careful judgments and make sure that the word sticks around," says Pitoniak. "You do degrade the quality of the dictionary when you include words just because they sound trendy."

    At the same time, Pitoniak and his colleagues must be wary of shunning accepted, commonly used terms. People turn to the dictionary for a host of tasks—from understanding the meaning of words they hear and read to settling Scrabble disputes. The book becomes dated if it lacks the ability to elucidate matters relevant to technophiles, even if they may seem arcane.

    Hence, the inclusion of "wiki" in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The word, which stems from the Hawaiian phrase meaning "quick," now refers to a set of tools that enables online collaboration among groups.

    Jensen Comment
    The easiest way to find definitions is to go to Google Define ---
    Simply go to Google at or
    In the search box type define and insert the phrase you want defined in quotations.
    For example, suppose you want to define “Grid Computing”
    Simply type in define “Grid Computing” in the search box and hit the search button 
    Or type in define "wiki"

    Bob Jensen's Technology Glossary is at

    Biotechs Try to Take Corn Out of Ethanol
    The ethanol craze is putting the squeeze on corn supplies and causing food prices to rise. Mexicans took to the streets last year to protest increased tortilla prices. The cost of chicken and beef in the United States ticked up because feed is more expensive.
    Paul Elias, PhysOrg, April 14, 2007 ---

    "Have China Scholars All Been Bought?" by Carsten A. Holz, Far Eastern Economic Review, April 2007 ---

    IBM's New Website for Data Visualization ---
    IBM's site lets people collaborate to creatively visualize and discuss data on fast food, Jesus' apostles, greenhouse-gas trends, and more

    "Sharing Data Visualization," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, April 11, 2007 --- 

    IBM is showing that there's more to the social Internet than just sharing pictures and video clips. The company has launched a new website, called Many Eyes, with the hope of adding a social aspect to data visualizations like maps, network diagrams, and scatter plots. The site's users already include Christian bloggers, nutritionists, and professors.

    Many Eyes teaches people how to build their own visualizations (a simple tutorial can be found here) so that they can dive into complex, multidimensional data. Since its launch in January, the site has amassed nearly 2,000 visualizations that illustrate, for example, the carbon emission of cars and the nutritional information of food on a McDonald's menu. For example, by illustrating numbers graphically, users see how Big Macs compare with double cheeseburgers in terms of calories, fat, and sodium--differences that might be harder to spot on a chart of numbers.

    Many Eyes was developed by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas, researchers at IBM's Visual Communication Lab, in Cambridge, MA. To be sure, Many Eyes is not the first, or even the most powerful, data-visualization tool available. Spotfire, for instance, is well-known software that businesses use to visualize and analyze trends. But what makes Many Eyes novel is that it's explicitly designed to be a social site for sharing visualizations and analysis; it's essentially the Flickr of data plots.

    While the field of data visualization in general isn't new, it has seen a sort of rebirth in the past few years thanks to the availability of software tools that explore data sets, as well as the ubiquity of data sets themselves, says Ben Shneiderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, in College Park. "It's one of those things that after 15 years, it's an overnight success." Recently, Shneiderman says, data visualizations have gone from static charts commonly used in PowerPoint presentations to dynamic displays of multidimensional data. "Suddenly," he says, "we've been given a new eye to see things that we've never seen before."

    The IBM software was built using standard software architectures, says Wattenberg; the visualizations are displayed using Java, and there are a few somewhat sophisticated algorithms that crunch numbers and produce the graph layouts. Ultimately, he says, he and Viegas wanted a simple, immersive experience. "The more that it becomes almost gamelike in its level of activity, the more fun it becomes."

    Within days of Many Eyes going live, the researchers saw a big spike in traffic from a user-generated visualization. A user named "crossway" had uploaded a data set of names from the New Testament and how often they occurred near one another in the text. The user chose to visualize the data using a network diagram; the result was essentially an illustration of the social network of Jesus and his apostles. Crossway posted the network diagram on his or her well-trafficked Christian blog, and soon awareness of the visualization moved from the Christian community into the technology community, thanks to an appearance on the popular blog

    Bob Jensen's threads on multivariate data visualization are at

    What's a craplet?
    (See Walt Mossberg's advice on how to wipe them out.)

    Video: Walt tries to get rid of craplets

    Many people are furious about so-called craplets, the unwanted programs that come loaded on most new PCs. Until computer makers stop dumping these junk programs on us, here are some strategies for avoiding them.
    "Getting Junk Programs On Your New Computer," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2007; Page B1 --- 

  • Last week,
    when I condemned the flood of crippled trial software, ads and offers that come loaded on new Windows Vista computers, readers reacted strongly. I received roughly 700 emails, all but a handful agreeing with me. The column was the most popular article that day on and was cited on numerous other Web sites.

    Clearly, many people are furious about these unwanted programs and icons, which are sometimes called craplets. Many would like to smite them without going through the laborious process of uninstalling them manually, one at a time. Some readers suggested strategies. The following are some options.

    One ray of hope is a free program called PC Decrapifier. It can be downloaded at This software automates the process of uninstalling craplets. It was written originally to clean up Dell computers, but its author says it will work on other brands, too. Before PC Decrapifier runs, it allows you to remove from its proposed deletion list any programs it considers junk, but which you might prefer to retain.

    I haven't tested PC Decrapifier, but even assuming it works well there are a couple of downsides. First, it may not remove every craplet from every manufacturer. Also, unless you carefully tweak the deletions list, PC Decrapifier might remove some full working copies of preinstalled software that you want; it can't easily differentiate between trial and real versions of some commonly bundled programs.

    Another option is to order a PC without the craplets in the first place. Some high-end Dell gaming machines are sold this way. Dell says you can also opt out of some third-party software on other models. Certain business models from various makers can be purchased clean, as well. But even business machines sometimes come with unwanted trial software, like limited versions of accounting programs, and may not be configured for consumers.

    Dell, Sony and others say they are moving toward a new scenario in which all of this stuff will be easily refused on all models.

    An alternate strategy is to avoid brand-name Windows computers and buy a Vista PC from a local shop that will construct it to your specs and leave off all the craplets. The catch is that you may pay more, and you must be certain that the shop will be around and willing to provide support for the life of the machine.

    Some techies wrote me to say that the first thing they do with a new PC is to wipe out the hard disk and reinstall Windows so they start with a clean machine. But I can't recommend this for average users. For one thing, many new PCs no longer come with disks for reinstalling a full, clean version of Windows. Some have special sections of the hard disk from which you can perform a "recovery," but these recoveries may not be complete or may reload the craplets along with Windows. You could, of course, buy a fresh copy of Vista to reinstall, but that could cost hundreds of dollars.

    Also, wiping out and rebuilding an operating system can be tricky for nontechies. Dell told me, "It is not advisable for nontechie consumers to wipe the hard drive and reinstall. ... This is intended as an emergency backup or for the technically sophisticated." Sony and Gateway sent me similar warnings.

    Finally, an excellent way to avoid or minimize the craplet problem is to simply buy an Apple Macintosh computer. New Macs don't have any craplets displayed on their desktops. On a new Mac, no third-party software is automatically launched when you start the computer, and you don't need antivirus or antispyware programs because the Mac is essentially free from those menaces. So, even my year-old Mac laptop reboots roughly three times as fast as my three-week-old Sony.

    Apple does include a few third-party programs on Macs, including one that, oddly, is for drawing comic-strip effects on photos. But these are tucked away in the applications folder and most are full working versions, not trials or offers. The main exception is a trial version of Microsoft Office. With some Mac models, you get trials of two Apple programs, iWork and FileMaker Pro. But these trials can be deleted simply by dragging the icons to the trash can.

    Computer makers should stop dumping craplets on us. Until they do, you can find ways to avoid them.

    Email me at . See video versions

    Video: Walt tries to get rid of craplets

  • "Revising the Teaching of Writing," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 13, 2007 ---

  • At the University of Denver this year, a new writing program is trying a combination of approaches. Freshmen are taking a series of three courses in successive quarters — each with a distinct purpose. The first quarter courses are taught by faculty members in a range of disciplines, and the next two by a new cadre of lecturers hired this year.

    While not on the tenure track, the lecturers are far from the semester-to-semester model of employment used to staff many a writing course with adjuncts or graduate students. Their positions are full time, with benefits, and they are paid in the first quarter of the academic year to plan their courses, to work individually with students in the writing center, and to work as in-class consultants and one-on-one with professors on writing issues that come up in their courses.

    “This is a very unusual and interesting approach to bridging a gap that many people are trying to bridge between not treating writing as a discrete skill set, but as both a discipline in its own right and a gateway to other disciplines,” said Kent Williamson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English.

    Williamson said he was particularly struck by the creation of a team of writing lecturers. “You just don’t see a lot of that kind of integration — the potential of having full-time writing instructors who are in a real conversation with one another and with the rest of the faculty.”

    The Denver writing program is the outgrowth of a $10 million grant in 2004 from the Marsico Foundation, which stipulated that the funds be used to improve undergraduate education. Faculty committees studied various possible uses for the money and the full faculty voted (79 percent in favor) to overhaul what had been a fairly traditional program in which freshmen took writing, but without a university-wide vision for what was supposed to be accomplished.

    “The campus wanted a permanent and dedicated teaching faculty in writing, rather than having a cadre of people who turn over continually and who are bifurcated as students and teachers,” said Douglas Hesse, who directs the new program and is a past president of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. In an era when many colleges seem to view new Ph.D.’s in English as cheap labor to fill sections, the Denver approach stands out for paying such people for quarters when they are teaching not a single class and for manageable workloads when they are teaching (three sections each quarter, with enrollment in each section not exceeding 15).

    The question Denver is posing to lecturers is not “how many sections can you handle?” but, in Hesse’s words, “how can they be a true resource for the university?”

    John Tiedmann, one of the new lecturers, said that in the fall he worked with a political science class on globalization. The themes of the course were so broad that students’ papers were “vague summaries of the world rather than real positions on anything,” and the professor was frustrated. Tiedmann met with the professor, reviewed students’ papers, led a workshop for students on writing about topics as potentially overwhelming as globalization, and followed up to track the results.

    The “typical attitude” at universities is for a professor to call a writing instructor “like a repairman,” who can somehow “fix” student writing, Tiedmann said. The Denver approach is more collaborative and substantive.

    Continued in article

  • "Facebook gets facelift, adds more social networking tools," MIT's Technology Review, April 11, 2007 ---

  • is getting a facelift designed to make the popular Web site's social networking features easier to find and use.

    The makeover being announced Wednesday represents Facebook's most extensive overhaul in 18 months, said Mark Zuckerberg, the site's 22-year-old founder.

    Besides adopting a new look, Facebook is introducing tools that will enable its users to learn more about their social networks and more easily conduct electronic conversations among multiple people simultaneously.

    The Palo Alto, California-based Web site is the second largest social networking site behind, which was sold to News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million.

    Facebook last year spurned a $1 billion (euro740 billion) takeover offer from Yahoo Inc. and could attract even more tantalizing bids if Zuckerberg realizes his goal of doubling the site's audience during the next six months. Facebook currently has about 19 million active users, a number that has been rising by an average of 3 percent each week.

    Despite Facebook's success, Zuckerberg said he and his team are constantly looking for ways to make it simpler to navigate around the site. ''There's always room for improvement,'' said Zuckerberg, who dropped out of Harvard University in 2004 to focus on building Facebook.

    Change has not always been welcomed by Facebook's users. Last September, Facebook had to fend off a user rebellion after introducing a feature that made it easier to track revisions made to the personal profiles set up on the Web site. Thousands of Facebook users protested, arguing the change represented an invasion of privacy.

    To minimize the chances of a backlash this time, Facebook tested its new look and features with more than 100,000 users.

    Originally a hangout catering exclusively to college students, Facebook has branched out to other segments of society. The site, owned by Palo Alto-based Facebook Inc., now has more than 47,000 networks bound together by common employers and other shared interests.

    Less than half of Facebook's users are currently in college, Zuckerberg said.

  • People Finder Site for the U.S. ---

    April 9, 2007 message from Rebecca Murphy []

    I'm interested in the possibility of placing a link on your site, specifically this page: . The link would be for a website
    ( ) which helps people, including potential employers, do inexpensive and exhaustive background checks.

    I noticed that you already have a link to a person finding website, and I would hope that you would consider adding this link as an addendum.

    Please, if you have the chance, get back to me and let me know if this might be possible. I'd be happy to answer any questions or concerns, and would be happy to discuss anything I can do to help you come to a favorable decision.

    Thanks so much for your time, Rebecca Murphy

    Jensen Comment
    I added the above link to

    From PhD Comics:  Helpers for Filling Out Teaching Evaluations ---

    What is the Semantic Web that is a "rising tide" in the world of business?

    The Semantic Web project of the W3C in which automated methods based on quality metadata are envisaged to replace much human searching of the web. Relies on ontologies, XML and RDF ---

    "Taming the World Wide Web:  A rising tide of companies are tapping Semantic Web technologies to unearth hard-to-find connections between disparate pieces of online data," by Rachael King, Business Week, April 9, 2007 ---

    When Eli Lilly scientists try to develop a new drug, they face a Herculean task. They must sift through vast quantities of information such as data from lab experiments, results from past clinical trials, and gene research, much of it stored in disparate, unconnected databases and software programs. Then they've got to find relationships among those pieces of data. The enormity of the challenge helps explain why it takes an average of 15 years and $1.2 billion to get a new drug to market.

    Eli Lilly (LLY) has vowed to bring down those costs. "We have set the goal of reducing our average cost of R&D per new drug by fully one-third, about $400 million, over the next five years," Lilly Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sidney Taurel told the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan last August.

    As part of its cost-cutting campaign, the drugmaker is experimenting with new technologies designed to make it easier for scientists to unearth and correlate scattered, unrelated morsels of online data. Outfitted with this set of tools, researchers can make smarter decisions earlier in the research phase—where scientists screen thousands of chemical compounds to see which ones best treat symptoms of a given disease. If all goes according to plan, the company will get new pharmaceuticals to patients sooner, and at less cost.

    Found in Space Those tools are the stuff of the Semantic Web, a method of tagging online information so it can be better understood in relation to other data—even if it's tucked away in some faraway corporate database or software program. Today's prominent search tools are adept at quickly identifying and serving up reams of online information, though not at showing how it all fits together. "When you get down to it, you have to know whatever keyword the person used, or you're never going to find it," says Dave McComb, president of consulting firm Semantic Arts.

    Researchers in a growing number of industries are sampling Semantic Web knowhow. Citigroup (C) is evaluating the tools to help traders, bankers, and analysts better mine the wealth of financial data available on the Web. Kodak (EK) is investigating whether the technologies can help consumers more easily sort digital photo collections. NASA is testing ways to correlate scientific data and maps so scientists can more efficiently carry out planetary exploration simulation activities.

    The Semantic Web is in many ways in its infancy, but its potential to transform how businesses and individuals correlate information is huge, analysts say. The market for the broader family of products and services that encompasses the Semantic Web could surge to more than $50 billion in 2010 from $2.2 billion in 2006, according to a 2006 report by Mills Davis at consulting firm Project10X.

    Data Worth a Thousand Pictures While other analysts say it will take longer for the market to reach $50 billion, most agree that the impact of the Semantic Web will be wide-ranging. The Project10X study found that semantic tools are being developed by more than 190 companies, including Adobe (ADBE), AT&T (T), Google (GOOG), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Oracle (ORCL), and Sony (SNE).

    Among the enthusiasts is Patrick Cosgrove, director of Kodak's Photographic Sciences & Technology Center, who is, not surprisingly, also a photo aficionado. He boasts more than 50,000 digital snapshots in his personal collection. Each year he creates a calendar for his family that requires him to wade through the year's photos, looking for the right image for each month. It's a laborious task, but he and his colleagues aim to make it easier.

    One project involves taking data captured when a digital photo is taken, such as date, time, and even GPS coordinates, and using it to help consumers find specific images—say a photo of mom at last year's Memorial Day picnic at the beach. Right now, much of that detail, such as GPS coordinates, is expressed as raw data. But Semantic Web technologies could help Kodak translate that information into something more useful, such as what specific GPS coordinates mean—whether it's Yellowstone National Park or Grandma's house up the street.

    Continued in article

    Also see:
    "Q&A with Tim Berners-Lee The inventor of the Web explains how the new Semantic Web could have profound effects on the growth of knowledge and innovation," Business Week, April 9, 2007 --- 

    "The Web's Father Expects a Grandchild:  Tim Berners-Lee is working on the "Semantic Web," with its richer information links that unlock the power of "unplanned reuse of data," Business Week, October 22, 2006 ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on the Semantic Web are at

    Bob Jensen's technology glossary is at

    State and local taxes will consume 11% of the nation's income in 2007.
    "State and Local Tax Burdens Hit 25-Year High," by Curtis S. Dubay, Tax Foundation Special Report No. 153, April 2007 ---

    What states in the U.S. have the highest versus the lowest tax burdens?

    April 10, 2007 message from an accounting professor

    Prof Jensen
    I'm putting together a fact box for the income tax deadline; and was wondering how many taxpayers, on average, fail to file tax returns on time.? And are four out of the five states with the heaviest tax burdens still Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts? Other lesser known factoids about income taxes that readers might find interesting would be appreciated.
    Thank You

    April 11, 2007 reply from Bob Jensen

    Hi XXXXX,

    I really don’t know how many late filers there are or the trends in late filings and extension filings. The IRS has a ton of statistics at,,id=96629,00.html
    The word search box is also excellent at the IRS site.

    You really can’t analyze states without factoring in property taxes and all other state taxes. When I moved to New Hampshire, the tax burden was a factor in my decision. I also considered moving to the coast of Maine, but Maine has the highest tax burden in the nation.

    You can find the following module at

    Tax-friendly versus Tax-unfriendly states in 2005 ---

    Top honors go to the tax-friendly states of Alaska, New Hampshire and Delaware.

    Most unfriendly? Maine, New York, D.C.

    Every year, the Tax Foundation measures the total tax bill for each state, creating a list of the most – and least – tax-friendly states in the country.

    See the full list here. And see more state rankings based on income tax, sales tax, property tax and tax breaks for retirees.

    In creating its rankings, the Tax Foundation measures as a percentage of per capita income what residents pay in income, property, sales and other personal taxes levied at the state and local levels. It also factors in the portion of business taxes passed along to state residents through higher prices, lower wages or lower profits.

    The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy research group that advocates, among other things, tax simplification.

    In particular note the state rankings at

    Bob Jensen

    2007 Update:  Vermont Overtakes Maine
    "Democrats and the AMT," The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2007; Page A8 --- Click Here
    (Both the CNN Money and the WSJ used the Tax Foundation databases.)


    Martha Stewart Spent a Whole Lot of Her Billion Dollars Upgrading Her Websites

    "Martha Stewart aims to be online leader in everything lifestyle," MIT's Technology Review, April 11, 2007 ---

    Domesticity diva Martha Stewart aims to parlay her authoritative voice on everything about lifestyle to the millions of women who surf the Internet with the relaunch of her namesake Web site.

    Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. -- which scaled back its Web operation as a catalog/e-commerce business in 2005 -- is set to officially relaunch Tuesday as an information portal.

    The overhauled site, quietly unveiled late last month, features more than 700 videos, including daily episodes of Stewart's TV shows and how-to clips, provides a community where users can chat about such ideas as the latest recipe for chocolate cake, and features a retooled search engine that allows users to browse either by interest such as the latest scrapbooking techniques or by media property from magazines to TV shows. It also allows users to search across 700 other Web sites to get the best resources.

    This fall, Martha Stewart Living will be expanding its community sites and personalization features, which will enable users to save, share, review and collect content from the site as well as interact with each other through interest groups dedicated to specific passions like knitting.

    ''Martha Stewart is the most trusted lifestyle authority,'' Susan Lyne, Martha Stewart Living president and CEO, said in a statement. ''We have a big leg up on other sites because our content libraries are so deep and our creative teams so prolific -- we're a constantly renewed resource for consumers.''

    Martha Stewart Living has enjoyed a rebound over the past year and a half after seeing advertising revenue plummet amid the founder's personal legal woes. Stewart completed her prison sentence in March 2005 for lying to investigators about a stock sale. Since then, Martha Stewart Living has stepped up a number of initiatives, from new magazines to developing branded homes with builder KB Home and photo products with Eastman Kodak Co.

    Such new ventures and the rebound in advertising revenue have helped turn around the business. Martha Stewart Living's profit rose more than fivefold in the fourth quarter from a year ago. Revenue rose 15 percent.

    Martha Stewart Living's Internet business is one of the company's key pillars for growth. is expected to account for 10 percent of the company's overall revenue this year and should make up about 20 percent by 2010, Chief Financial Officer Howard Hochhauser said.

    The Internet division, which broke even last year, should contribute one-third of the company's total EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, by 2010, according to Hochhauser.

    Based on the company's internal figures, averages about 3 million visitors per month; the goal is to increase that figure to 10 million a month by 2010, according to Holly Brown, president of the Internet division.

    As for its e-commerce ventures, continues to sell flowers online, but the company has no intentions to be in the business of fulfillment.

    Heather Dougherty, senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings Inc., said that because the online market is so fragmented, Stewart has the potential to be the leader of lifestyle online.

    ''Martha covers a lot of different areas,'' said Dougherty, noting that rivals offer specialized niches. ''She has a loyal fan base that has stuck with her.''

    Brown noted that the company sees competitors such as, and, but none of them has a ''figure head'' like Stewart.

    One of the key focuses at is its Web community. The site has general message boards and highlights the company's latest publication, called Blueprint, with a blog called Bluelines. The site is generally limited to what is popular with Martha Stewart editors, but the company wants to let the online community connect with each other and talk about what they might do differently, Brown said.


    On the Net:

    Martha Stewart Living:



    Are conservatives being denied tenure and promotions because they are not politically correct?

    "Promoting the Converted," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, April 12, 2007 ---

    The complaint is familiar: A professor is denied tenure or passed over for a promotion because of his or her right-leaning politics. The professor goes public, often to outlets such as Depending on one’s views — because these situations tend to be based chiefly on conflicting verbal accounts — the accusations are either part of a larger liberal bias in academe or represent trumped-up charges by unqualified or overly outspoken faculty members.
    A lawsuit filed last month features all this and more — but colorful details, as well as plenty of documentation, add weight to an otherwise routine accusation. Take a department chair’s alleged comment that her “image of a perfect job candidate is a lesbian with spiked hair and a dog collar.” Or the professor’s shock tactics on, where a recent political column, musing on a university’s alleged tolerance for terrorists versus homophobes, was titled “How to bomb a gay bath house.”

    Mike Adams, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in North Carolina on March 31, alleging an entire series of events — including a charge that he tear-gassed a colleague’s office, an accusation later dropped — that culminated in a denied request for a full professorship in September 2006. Adams argues that the university and his colleagues involved in the promotion decision violated his rights under the First and 14th Amendments, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Adams’s accusations are interesting because of his self-described conversion from an atheist Democrat to a devout Christian Republican, and the clear record of positive peer evaluations he received before and even after his switch in political ideology and religious beliefs. While most of his colleagues in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, and none who were on the tenure committee, would comment on the outcome, Adams’s complaint provides copies of e-mails and other documents that — lacking competing accounts — would seem to support his allegations.

    A key question is whether the same standard for promotion was applied equally to Adams as to other faculty members — or whether there are agreed-upon standards at all. Full professors, the faculty handbook says, should have exhibited “distinguished accomplishment in teaching, a tangible record of research or artistic achievement, and a significant record of service. An individual with the rank of professor should have a reputation as an excellent teacher and be recognized as a scholar within her/his professional field.” The handbook outlines procedures for promoting faculty members, but specific criteria are left up to departments.

    Adams said there were no official criteria for promotion but that he had asked colleagues and the chair multiple times over the years about what it would take to be promoted. “They were very honest. What they would do is lay down the number 10,” for 10 published peer-reviewed articles, “and they would refer to it as being safe for promotion to full professor, but they would never say it’s automatic. We never had the magic number approach.”

    He added: “I think there have been times when we have lowered the standards sometimes for feminists. My point is we have dipped down below that 10 before, but I have never seen a case where we have gone up above it, especially for a person with teaching awards. No, it is not fair, and it does not make sense at all to me, and it is just without precedent.” Adams published his 11th article last year.

    Meanwhile, the university unequivocally denies any charges of discrimination or violation of First Amendment rights. “While the university has not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are prepared fully to defend ourselves,” said a statement. “It’s not unusual for a person not to be promoted to full professor their first time or even their second time through,” said Cecil Willis, a former chair of the department and the assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs.

    Beyond the number of publications, promotion deliberations, like yearly evaluations, focus on teaching, advising, research and service. Copies of Adams’s evaluations from the period before his full political “conversion” demonstrate consistently above-average ratings of “good” to “outstanding” in all categories. This continues at least through 2001. The complaint states that from 2004 on, evaluations included criticisms of Adams’s political activities, such as the column, alleging that they were beginning to interfere with his work.

    The most objective measure available is from his own promotion application, which cites his peer rating over the past few years. In 2003, his rating of 7.3 (out of 10) was well above the department average of 6.7. After that year, his rating dipped below the average, remaining at 6.0 through 2005. Whether that’s because his colleagues’ political beliefs began to color their evaluations or whether the quality of his work actually declined is a key point of contention.

    Adams says his research was never affected, and points to his work as an advocate for First Amendment rights, especially in print, as valuable contributions to the community. Willis, though, noted that it’s not uncommon for the pace of work to fluctuate over a professor’s career. “That’s not unheard of for a person’s work to change over time,” he said. “If you look at the academic career of anyone, we have our ebbs and flows.”

    For Adams, the discrimination he says he has endured began once he stopped being the well-liked liberal atheist he was when the department originally hired him. He cites a 1996 trip to an Ecuadorean prison, where he met “the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life,” all religious Catholics, as a turning point in his spiritual life, which by then was in a 13-year lapse of agnosticism to atheism. Several years later, he met a notorious Texas death-row inmate, John Penry, who was eventually executed despite his mental retardation. Adams began reading the Bible and had become a bona-fide conservative Christian by 2000.

    But Adams’s troubles began before he ever started publishing his controversial column. Soon after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he responded harshly to a student’s mass mailing criticizing American foreign policy, forwarding it to a few others in the process. The result, the suit alleges, was a long process in which Adams was accused of abuse and libel, culminating in an inspection of his personal e-mail account. A later accusation that he’d sprayed a colleague’s office with tear gas was eventually dismissed — almost five years later.

    Like other conservatives who have battled colleagues on ideological territory, Adams believes the “retaliation” he’s suffered is part of a larger pattern. In an article in — where else? —, he recounted specific examples in faculty encounters that he said comprise a pattern of discrimination against Christians and conservatives. He also called the lawsuit “just and meritorious” in a recent column.

    The suit is being filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian group that opposes abortion rights and spreads its religious message through advocacy and litigation. David French, the senior legal counsel, said he believes they have a strong case. “Imagine instead of a religious conservative, you have a secular liberal professor with a column that was very outspoken about the issues of the day ... subjected to investigations, warned about his writings,” he said. “In the situation of a Ward Churchill, you have a guy making comments that I think by almost any objective measure would be far more inflammatory over anything Mike Adams ever said ... and the guy just glided to department chair in a major state university.”

    The suit’s legal arguments, especially under Title VII, will hinge on whether Adams was treated differently because of his beliefs. “What we have is, before he became a Christian and a conservative, this is a guy … who was walking the yellow brick road to success,” French added. “After he becomes a Christian and a conservative, the world changes for him.”

    Controversies Over Using College Placement Tests in School Accountability Assessments
    According to the Achieve review, the majority of college placement tests are narrowly focused on a subset of knowledge and reflect relatively low levels of rigor. “If states were to incorporate existing placement tests into their formal high school accountability systems, it might inadvertently lead to a narrowing and watering down of the curriculum,” the report says. It adds that while the ACT and SAT are credible measures of student learning, states should use caution when thinking about incorporating the tests into their assessment and accountability systems. Some states are using the placement tests as the official statewide high school exit exams, while others are debating whether students, while still in high school, should take college placement tests as a form of early feedback. These tests don’t fully measure college preparedness and in particular fall short in measuring more advanced concepts and skills, the report notes. Thus, states should create additional questions when relying heavily on these national tests to gauge how students measure up in a given state.
    Elia Powers, "Matching Tests to Their Purposes," Inside Higher Ed, April 12, 2007 ---

    "40 Years of Changes in the Student Body," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, April 9, 2007 ---

    For four decades, the University of California at Los Angeles has administered the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshmen Survey, recording the values, attitudes and backgrounds of the high school graduates who will become the next batch of American college students. Their self-reported answers form the backbone of a large trove of data that has served to illuminate trends in higher education.

    Today, UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute is releasing a broad overview of trends gleaned from the survey. The report, “The American Freshman: Forty-Year Trends 1966–2006,” highlights some striking changes in the makeup of college freshman classes, many of which confirm widely reported trends — but not without a few surprising findings.

    Amid reports documenting the widening gap between the lowest and highest earners in America, as well as concern among educators that selective institutions are mainly the domain of the financially advantaged, it might not come as a surprise that today’s freshmen are the most well-off since at least 35 years ago — with median incomes 60 percent above the national average, as compared to 46 percent above average in 1971. The report also highlighted a difference between public and private incoming freshmen: the income of families sending students to public institutions is rising faster than that for students at private colleges.

    Income Gap Between National Average and Median Parental Income of Freshmen (2006 Dollars)

    Type of Institution 1971 2005
    Public $17,800 $25,600
    Private $27,300 $35,700

    Meanwhile, two developments in students’ attitudes toward life provide either contradictory or nuanced responses — depending on one’s point of view — about financial goals and altruism. Being well-off is students’ number-two priority (73.4 percent) — second only to raising a family — but helping others comes in third, the highest it’s been as a priority in 20 years.

    The percentage of freshmen last year who predicted they’d participate in community service also increased significantly, while being a community leader was rated more important than ever (about a third considered it “very important” or “essential"). The report also noted the increased engagement in community service at the high school level, although it wasn’t clear how much of that was due to college admissions pressures and graduation requirements. Instead of concluding that today’s students are becoming more materialstic, John H. Pryor, director of the CIRP survey, interpreted these trends as showing that students are “very interested in raising families and helping others, both of which are accomplished with greater ease if one is well-off financially.”

    These trends have been ongoing within a rapidly changing demographic environment. In 1971, 90.9 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen were white, while today the percentage is down to 76.5. Since then, all minority groups have made attendance gains, although at different rates and some, like African Americans, already reached their numerical peak and, due to various factors, have slowly decreased their share of the freshman population.

    Racial/Ethnic Group 1971 1980 1990 2000 2006
    White 90.9 84.1 80.7 76.1 76.5
    African American 7.5 12.5 12.1 10.4 10.5
    American Indian 0.9 0.8 1.3 1.9 2.2
    Asian/Asian American 0.6 1.4 3.8 7.1 8.6
    Latino/a 0.6 1.4 2.2 6.7 7.3
    Other race 1.0 1.7 1.8 3.6 3.6
    Multiracial 1.3 1.2 1.7 4.8 7.2

    The report also highlighted several other trends:

    • The proportion of students claiming no religious affiliation has increased, from 13.6 to 19.1 percent between 1966 and 2006. The fraction of Roman Catholics remained stable, but the share of Jews and Protestants decreased. There was a similar decline among their parents.
    • About two-thirds of students today socialize with people of another race or ethnicity in high school, and a similar percentage expect to do so in college. This contrasts markedly with students’ views on racism and their institutions’ obligation to foster interracial dialogue: A little over a third believe promoting racial understanding is “essential” or “very important,” down from its peak just after the Rodney King incident in 1992, while 19.1 percent believe to some extent that racism is no longer a major problem in society. In a departure of tone from the rest of the document, the authors expressed explicit disapproval of these trends, writing, “students’ personal goals and beliefs at college entry may be cause for concern.”
    • While students are becoming more and more prepared for college work — in terms of the number of years spent studying certain subjects — gaps favoring men over women persist in the physical and computer sciences, but no longer in mathematics.
    • Students’ self-confidence in academic ability continues to soar, with 68.6 percent considering themselves “above average” or in the top 10 percent of their peer group. At the same time, grades are continuing to reinforce those beliefs. Inflation has intensified in the past 20 years, with 24.1 percent of students — a record — reporting an A- high-school average last year. Higher grades are also more likely with more AP and honors courses.
    • In a finding that’s not likely to surprise many students, tardiness is also becoming more common in the last year of high school. In the past few years, however, that has slightly reversed, due perhaps to increased vigilance on the part of college admissions officers fighting the spread of senioritis.
    • The percentage of students applying to more than three colleges has almost tripled since 1967, to 56.5 percent. But it might not be as out of hand as popular media reports suggest: only 2.2 percent last year applied to 12 or more colleges.
    • The importance of going to a college with a high reputation has remained virtually unchanged since 1983, according to responses, but rankings have factored in as increasingly important in making that determination. Still, only 16.4 percent of respondents found rankings to be very important in their overall decision.
    • Students are becoming more polarized. Moderates are in decline, and more are labeling themselves as either liberal or conservative. Another interesting finding (which might surprise David Horowitz) concerns campus speakers’ freedom to express themselves: “Over half (55.1 percent) of conservative (and far right) students believe that colleges have the right to ban extreme speakers compared to only 28.5 percent of liberal (and far left) students. Thus, not only may some polarizing issues divide students, but the method by which they engage each other in dialogue concerning these issues may also be a point of disagreement.”


    From Dartmouth College
    Chance News ---
    Tutorial on Statistics (focus is on learning exercises and how to view media reports critically)

    Statistical Guide to Poker
    "A Physicist's Guide to Texas Hold 'Em," PhysOrg, April 4, 2007 ---

    What are the odds that poker can be explained by statistical physics, much the same as a variety of other complex systems? They’re pretty good, according to physicist Clément Sire of Université of Toulouse and CNRS in France, who demonstrates in a recent paper that many of the statistical properties of poker tournaments are universal. Sire’s model makes connections between poker and evolution, extreme value statistics and the physical model of persistence.

    “In this Letter, we study a very human and futile activity: poker tournaments,” Sire writes in his paper, submitted to an APS Physical Review journal. His model quantifies the evolution of Texas hold ‘em tournaments, based on aspects such as the distribution of chips, the number of surviving players over time, etc. Overall, his results closely mirror those observed in real-life online tournaments.

    “While human laws (such as bluff, prudence and aggressiveness) determine much of the individual outcomes of poker tournaments, these tournaments are ideal for statistical analysis because they are isolated systems—they don’t depend on outside factors,” Sire explained to

    While Sire’s model provides an accurate description of poker tournaments, the model also shares similar characteristics with other seemingly unrelated areas. For example, the physical model of persistence tells the probability that some random process never falls below a certain level. Or, in poker talk, the persistence model describes the number of surviving players (those that have not lost all their chips).

    As Sire explains, the “decay rate” of players (as they lose their chips) is exactly the same as the (exponential) growth rate of the blind bets, which are bets that start off the pot of money at the beginning of every game and are therefore also the minimal bets.

    This also means that the growth rate of the blind bets entirely controls the pace of a tournament, which in practice allows the organizers of a tournament to control its duration. The model shows that the total duration of a tournament grows only logarithmically (i.e. very slowly) with the initial number of players, which explains why the wide range of real tournament sizes (100-10,000 players) remains manageable.

    “The model can also help poker players to evaluate their current ranking in a poker tournament,” Sire said. “For instance, if a player owns twice the average stack, he is currently in the top 90%. If his holding is only half of the average stack, he only precedes 25% of the other players.

    “Consider a temporal random signal [such as the graph of a company’s stock]. Its persistence is the probability that it never goes below (or above) a given threshold,” Sire explains. “With my colleague Satya Majumdar, we have devised several ways to compute this quantity in various contexts, which decays exponentially fast, or as a power-law. Persistence has been measured in many physical systems, and has obvious applications outside physics: for example, what is the probability that Google's stock remains above $450 for the next year (certainly high, I admit)?”

    Other connections involve biological evolution. Due to the competitive nature of the game, Sire found similarities with evolutionary models dealing with competing agents. Also, when analyzing the statistical properties of the chip leader (player with the most chips at a given time), Sire found the same phenomenon that occurs in the “leader problem” in evolutionary models. Namely, the average number of chip leaders grows logarithmically (i.e. very slowly) with the number of competing agents, or total number of players.

    “Physicists are currently studying models of competing agents,” Sire explained. “Possible applications exist in the field of econophysics: markets, options theory in finance, decision making, rumor propagation, etc. Another application I’ve been involved in is evolutionary biology. One devises simplified models of the creation or extinction of species (or new genes). With my colleagues, we have shown that the number of preeminent ‘species’ generically grow with the total number of species, and that this result should hold in many contexts (for instance, the number of leaders of the Fortune 500).”

    A third connection involves extreme value statistics, a physics branch that analyzes the probability of the occurrence of extreme events. In Sire’s model, some of the properties of the chip leader also display extreme value statistics: the probability that the chip leader holds a given stack is universal (and given by the well-known Gumbel distribution in physics.)

    “Let us consider a random signal: for example, the stock of IBM, or the daily temperature in New York,” Sire explains. “Now let us look at its maximum in a one-month period. This is itself a random variable. If the initial random signal is only weakly correlated in time, the probability distribution of the (monthly) maximum of the signal takes a universal form which is independent of the precise nature of the considered signal! Recently, physicists have been interested in the maximum of strongly correlated variables, which can now take any form.”

    As for finding the best strategies, Sire’s model doesn’t determine optimal playing decisions, other than general hints from observations, For example, the advice that “a player should be careful when playing bad hands if many players have already bet” is totally irrelevant, according to the model, as far as the global evolution of the tournament is concerned. However, the model predicts that there exists an optimal probability to go all-in (to bet all one's chips).

    Sire notes that two famous mathematicians (e.g. Emile Borel and John von Neumann) have looked for optimal strategies in head-to-head poker, but prediction for tables with ten players including all-in events still presents a formidable task.

    Citation: Sire, Clément. “Universal statistical properties of poker tournaments.” To be published.
    (Currently at )

    Statistical Guide to Political Poker

  • NewsMax Poll:
    Thompson Leads All Candidates
    Americans Want Fred Thompson in ’08 An Internet poll sponsored by reveals that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of Fred Thompson running for president in 2008. Our “Should Fred Thompson Run for President” poll of nearly 100,000 people also disclosed that the former senator from Tennessee and “Law & Order” star would trounce all leading Republican candidates in a primary.

    NewsMax, April 15, 2007 --- Click Here

    Rasmussen Poll:
    Edwards Leads Giuliani, Thompson
    Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards (D) now leads all Republican hopefuls in Election 2008 polls. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Edwards leading former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) 49% to 43%. That’s the first time Edwards has ever had an advantage over Giuliani. During 2006, the man dubbed “America’s Mayor” led Edwards by an average of nine percentage points in Rasmussen Reports polling. In three previously monthly polls during 2006, Giuliani led Edwards by an average of four percentage points.

    Rasmussen Reports, April 9, 2007 --- Click Here

  • Bob Jensen's links to mathematics and statistics tutorials are at

    "Enron Pays Out $1.47B to Creditors," SmartPros, April 3, 2007 --- 
    Bob Jensen's threads on the Enron and Worldcom scandals are at 
    In particular, note the timeline at 
    Bob Jensen's Enron quiz is at 

    Student Loan Frauds
    University of Texas campuses will no longer use “preferred lender” lists, which recommend certain lenders to students, the
    Associated Press reported. Use of the lists has become controversial because officials at some institutions — such as the financial aid director at the University of Texas at Austin — held stock or received payments from lenders.

    Inside Higher Ed, April 18, 2007 ---

    Lenders Sought Edge Against U.S. in Student Loans,” by Jonathan D. Glater and Karen W. Arenson, The New York Times, April 15, 2007 ---  

    At Indiana University in 2004, for example, Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender, offered $3 million that the university could use for “opportunity loans” to some students if it left the direct loan program. Indiana left the direct loan program but said the $3 million was not the reason; Sallie Mae currently administers their loan program.

    Bank of America, which won the University of Virginia’s student loan business, said in its 2002 proposal that certain possible incentives had “the potential to violate” federal law. The bank, which said such a discussion was normal in the bidding process, suggested that it discuss the issues with university officials “during the oral presentation phase of the process.”

    All of this has helped give private lenders clear dominance of the $69 billion federal student loan industry. The lenders, who defend these practices, say they are winning business primarily because they offer lower interest rates than the government and often lower fees.

    Advocates of the direct loan program say that it has been held back from offering more competitive rates and benefits, and that a very small percentage of students can take advantage of the private rivals’ advertised rates and incentives. They argue that private lenders cost the government vast amounts of money because they are subsidized and guaranteed against default.

    President Bush’s budget reports that in 2006 for every $100 lent by private lenders, the cost to the government of subsidies, defaults and other items was $13.81, while the same amount lent through the direct loan program cost the government $3.85. The battle for dominance in the loan market has escalated as tuitions have soared and students have borrowed more. This is the context for many of the payments to universities and financial aid officials that have come to light as a result of recent investigations into student loan practices.

    “What has happened is unbridled competition meets lack of oversight,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education.

    Part of what is generating the competition is that the government runs two loan programs — and universities usually choose to participate in one or the other.

    Until the 1990s, the primary program was the federal guaranteed loan program under which private lenders like Citibank, Sallie Mae or Bank of America made the loans to students. They were given a helping hand from the government, which paid subsidies to the lenders and guaranteed them against default.

    Bill Clinton campaigned for president on the notion of expanding the federal government’s role as student loan guarantor into a more central position as the direct lender. The idea was that this would prove cheaper and simpler for students and be less costly for taxpayers because borrowers would pay interest to the federal government instead of to the lenders.

    The program went into effect in 1994. The Democrats expected it to become dominant. But unwilling to be muscled aside, private lenders began offering schools and students a variety of benefits like scholarship money and lower interest rates and fees.

    Tom Joyce, a spokesman for Sallie Mae, said, “The private sector program has better prices, better product selection, better service and better technology.”

    For a few years after direct lending went into effect, it grew quickly. But as student loan volume has risen, climbing above $85 billion in 2005-6 from just over $30 billion 10 years earlier, the government’s share as a direct lender has declined, and now amounts to less than a quarter of the total.

    Continued in article

    "Shaking Up Loan Industry," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 13, 2007 ---

    A statement released by the department late Thursday said that Spellings has asked Susan Winchell, the department’s chief ethics officer, to review “best practices” on its own financial disclosure forms to identify ways that the department might improve. Spellings also has directed that each financial disclosure form now be reviewed by at least two lawyers.

    Last week, Spellings placed on leave Matteo Fontana, an Education Department official who works on student loan issues, after the New America Foundation reported that he had sold at least $100,000 in stock in the Education Lending Group, which owned Student Loan Xpress, a lender at the center of the current controversy.

    It is unclear whether that sale (or the prior ownership) violated any laws or regulations, but the news about Fontana prompted calls from Democrats for tougher enforcement of loan rules by the department.

    Financial disclosure reports for Fontana released by the department late Thursday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Inside Higher Ed offered conflicting evidence on the extent of his stock ownership and sale and of his disclosures to the department about those assets.

    In his initial filing in mid-December 2002, soon after joining the department, he reported owning between $1,001 and $15,000 in stock in Direct III Marketing, as Student Loan Xpress was known at the time, and an equivalent amount of stock in Education Lending, Inc., then the parent company of Student Loan Xpress. (A note written on the form by the ethics officer at the time said “Filer [was] advised to contact Ethics Division if ELG stock exceeds $15K.") In May 2004, his first full financial disclosure, covering the 2003 calendar year, he reported having sold between $1,001 and $15,000 in stock in both companies later in mid- to late December 2002. That could be read to suggest that he had sold all of his stock in both companies.

    But in May 2005, according to his disclosure form for the 2004 calendar year, Fontana reported having sold between $100,001 and $250,000 in stock in Education Lending common stock in July 2004. There is no explanation of where that stock came from. The fact that Fontana reported the sale is likely to add to Democratic Congressional criticism about the Education Department, as Fontana’s reporting raises the question of whether anyone at the department took action based on the apparent conflict.

    Late Thursday, Sen. Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Senate committee with oversight of education programs, issued a statement saying: “The financial disclosure forms filed by Education Department official Matteo Fontana during his time at the department raise grave concerns about the effectiveness and impartiality of the ethics process at the department. The forms show that department officials were aware that Mr. Fontana held a significant financial interest in a company that he was charged with overseeing. Any American can tell you that this is dead wrong.”

    The statement from the department Thursday noted that “like many federal government employees, Department of Education employees may own stock in any company, including companies the Department regulates or with whom the Department does business.” The statement went on to elaborate: “The conflict of interest statute prohibits employees from working on department matters that will affect the companies they own stock in unless the employee receives a waiver or an applicable regulatory exemption. For example, employees are generally permitted to work on any matter even if they do own stock as long as their interest in the matter does not exceed $15,000.”

    The department also announced that Spellings has asked for the resignation of Ellen Frishberg from the department’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Student Loans. Frishberg, director of student financial services at Johns Hopkins University, was placed on administrative leave by the university after it learned that she had received payments from Student Loan Xpress.

    Frishberg is the second person Spellings has asked to leave a student aid post because of the scandal. Spellings earlier sought the resignation of Lawrence W. Burt from the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Burt is director of financial aid at the University of Texas at Austin, although he too is on leave, following reports that he owned Student Loan Xpress stock.

    The investigation of lender-college relationships has been led by Andrew M. Cuomo, attorney general of New York State, but it has prompted considerable interest among Congressional leaders as well. And there are no signs that the inquiries are winding down.

    Reuters reported Thursday that the attorneys general of Connecticut and California are also starting probes of the topic, joining a previously announced review by the attorney general of Minnesota.

    To date, most of the individuals implicated in the scandal — at least those working at colleges — have been financial aid officers. But on Thursday, a president joined the list of those being scrutinized.

    Elnora Daniel, the president of Chicago State University, is a director and shareholder of a lender to which her university steers students, The Chicago Tribune reported. A Chicago State trustee is also chairman of the board of the lender, Seaway National Bank. Daniel told the Tribune that there was “no quid pro quo” in her relationship with the lender. Chicago’s other daily, The Sun-Times, reported, meanwhile, that Western Illinois University was abandoning an arrangement in which it received payment — called kickbacks by critics — from a lender it was recommending to students.

    And Bloomberg reported Friday on a number of college officials — including the president of Morehouse College and the executive vice president of the University of Notre Dame — who collected pay or stocks from lenders at the time those lenders were being recommended to their students.

    "College Administrator’s Dual Roles Are a Focus of Student Loan Inquiry," by Sam Dillon, The New York Times, April 13, 2007 ---

  • Walter C. Cathie, a vice president at Widener University, spent years working his way up the ranks of various colleges and forging a reputation as a nationally known financial aid administrator. Then he made a business out of it.

    He created a consulting company, Key West Higher Education Associates, named after his vacation home in Florida. The firm specializes in conferences that bring college deans of finance together with lenders eager to court them.

    The program for the next conference, slated for June at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards in Baltimore, lists seven lenders as sponsors. One sponsor said it would pay $20,000 to participate. Scheduled presentations include “what needs to be done in Washington to fight back against the continued attacks on student lenders” and the “economics and ethics of aid packaging.”

    Investigations into student lending abuses are broadening in Washington and Albany. Mr. Cathie is still at Widener, and his roles as university official and entrepreneur have put him center stage, as a prime example of how university administrators who advise students have become cozy with lenders.

    Widener, with campuses in Pennsylvania and Delaware, put Mr. Cathie on leave this week after New York’s attorney general requested documents relating to his consulting firm and told the university that one lender, Student Loan Xpress, had paid Key West $80,000 to participate in four conferences.

    Mr. Cathie said in an interview yesterday that he still hoped to pull off the June event. “Though who knows, if nobody comes, I guess it’ll implode,” he said.

    Several of the scheduled speakers said in interviews that they were canceling.

    “Yes, I’ve made money,” he said, “but I haven’t done anything illegal. So I’d sure like this story to get out, that — you know, Walter Cathie is a giving individual, that he’s been very open, that he’s always taken the profits and given back to students.”

    He said he had donated some consulting profits to a scholarship fund in his father’s name at Carnegie Mellon University, where he worked for 21 years. “I’ve been in this business a long time, I’ve always been a student advocate, and I haven’t done anything wrong,” Mr. Cathie said.

    Others say his case illustrates how some officials have become so entwined with lenders that they have become oblivious to conflicts of interest.

    “The allegations made against Mr. Cathie and his institution point at the structural corruption of the student lending system,” said Barmak Nassirian, a director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

    The system has become so complex, and involves so much money, Mr. Nassirian said, “the temptation has become too great for many of the players to take a little bite for themselves.”

    The program for the conference in June lists corporate sponsors. One is Student Loan Xpress, whose president, according to documents obtained by the United States Senate, provided company stock to officials at several universities and at the Department of Education.

    Another is Education Finance Partners Inc., which Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has accused of making payments to 60 colleges for loan volume. Neither company returned calls for comment.

    The program lists as a speaker Dick Willey, chief executive of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority, a state loan agency facing calls for reform after reports that board members, spouses and employees have spent $768,000 on pedicures, meals and other such expenses since 2000.

    Mr. Willey’s spokesman, Keith New, said that Mr. Willey would not speak at the conference, but that the agency intended to sponsor it with a “platinum level” commitment of $20,000.

    Mr. Cathie came to Widener in 1997, initially as its dean of financial aid, after years at Allegheny College, Carnegie Mellon and Wabash College in Indiana, building a background in enrollment management and financial aid.

    In 1990, well into his tenure at Carnegie Mellon, Mr. Cathie and his boss, William Elliott, an admissions official who is today Carnegie Mellon’s vice president for enrollment, began organizing annual conferences for college administrators to debate policy issues, both men said.

    They named their conferences the Fitzwilliam Audit after the Fitzwilliam Inn in New Hampshire, where they were held, Mr. Cathie said.

    Continued in article

  • Bob Jensen's threads on the recent college loan scandals are at

    Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

    $2.2 Billion Alleged Accounting Fraud by Founder of Computer Associates
    A special committee of the board of directors has accused Charles Wang, founder and former chairman of Computer Associates International Inc., of directing and participating in fraudulent accounting during the 1980s and 1990s. The committee's report, filed late Friday afternoon in Chancery Court in Delaware, is the first investigation that publicly ties Mr. Wang to what the government has described as a $2.2 billion accounting fraud. The committee recommended that the Islandia, N.Y., software company, which has changed its name to CA Inc., file suit to recover at least $500 million from Mr. Wang in costs related to his conduct, including a $225 million payment CA made to a government-ordered restitution fund . . . In a strongly worded statement, Mr. Wang said he is "appalled" by the "fallacious" committee report, saying it is based on the statements of "those who perpetrated the crimes at issue and then lied about them." Mr. Wang said he felt "personally wronged" by Mr. Kumar -- his successor and onetime protégé -- and called his own decision in 1994 to recommend him for the position that would eventually take him to the corner office a "major mistake."
    William Bulkeley and Charles Forelle, "Directors' Probe Ties CA Founder To Massive Fraud Report Suggests Suing Wang for $500 Million; Evidence of Backdating, The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2007; Page A1 ---

    The independent auditor of Computer Associates is KPMG.

    Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on KPMG are at

    Tapping Those Hidden (Intangible) Assets

    "Googling Growth," by Chris Zook, The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2007; Page A12 ---

    For most companies, reinvention of a core business doesn't have to involve such high levels of risk. Bain's research shows that nine out of every 10 companies that successfully renewed themselves in the past decade found the solution in mining their hidden assets -- assets they already possessed but had failed to tap for maximum growth potential.

    The classic example is Apple. The iPod drew on the company's well-known skills in software, user-friendly product design, and imaginative marketing -- all underexploited capabilities. Samsung focused on a different set of hidden assets -- underinvested business lines -- to redefine its core. It shut down or sold 76 businesses, thereby freeing up resources to invest in its lagging but promising semiconductor and consumer-electronics businesses. Today, Samsung is a leader in memory chips and mobile phones as well as in high-end television sets and flat-screen monitors.

    Shouldn't well-run companies already be using all of their valuable assets? In fact, large, complex organizations always acquire more capabilities and businesses than they can focus on at any one time. But when a company needs to redefine its core, it often discovers that secondary assets and capabilities of the past suddenly assume center stage, and are the key to new growth.

    One way to open management's eyes to the hidden assets in its midst is to identify the richest hunting grounds. Bain's three-year study of transformation showed that assets yielding the best results are usually camouflaged as hidden business platforms, untapped customer insights, and underused capabilities.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting for intangibles are at

    From The Washington Post on April 12, 2007

    How many iPods has Apple sold so far?

    A. 2 million
    B. 50 million
    C. 100 million
    D. 300 million
    Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

    From The Washington Post on April 13, 2007

    What will be the screen thickness of Sony's planned organic electroluminescent TV?

    A. 2 millimeters
    B. 3 millimeters
    C. 5 millimeters
    D. 8 millimeters

  • Updates from WebMD ---

    Drug-resistant gonorrhea spreading in U.S.
    U.S. health officials say doctors are running out of options for treating the rapid spread of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea PhysOrg, April 13, 2007 --- 

    Also see

    "Extract May Help Treat Bladder Infection," by Randolph E. Schmid, PhysOrg, April 8, 2007 ---

    An herbal extract that is sold in health food stores and promoted as an allergy and fat loss aid may improve treatment of bladder infections when it is taken with antibiotics, research suggests.

    Some 90 percent of bladder infections are caused by E. coli bacteria. They affect women four times more often than men, sometimes recurring over and over.

    The bladder is lined with small pouches that allow it to stretch as it fills. Researchers at Duke University reported in Sunday's online edition of Nature Medicine that some bacteria were able to hide in those pouches, escaping the antibiotics used to treat the infection.

    In tests in mice, the extract forskolin can cause the pouches to kick out the bacteria, allowing antibiotics to kill them, said the lead researcher, microbiologist Soman N. Abraham. Forskolin is derived from the Indian coleus plant.

    "If we combine this with antibiotics we would be in a very good position to eradicate urinary tract infection," he said in a telephone interview.

    In the experiments, forskolin was injected into some mice and placed directly into the bladders in others, Abraham said.

    The extract is available in health food stores and some people take it by mouth as a supplement, he said. It is promoted as a treatment for allergies, breathing problems and even fat loss.

    That availability does "absolutely not" mean people should attempt to treat themselves for bladder infections, Abraham said.

    Urinary tract infections must be treated with antibiotics because they can quickly spread to the kidneys, so infected people needed to see their doctor, he said. But the fact that forskolin is being used by some people does help indicate it is safe, he said.

    Abraham said the next step for the researchers is to experiment in larger animals to see if they can completely eliminate a bladder infection.

    Continued in article

    The Genetics of Depression
    Ongoing, large-scale genetic studies of mood disorders could help researchers understand and treat these devastating diseases, by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, April 13, 2007 ---

    Martha Stewart's Helpers for Better Health --- Click Here

    The Difference Between Memory and Remembering, NPR, April 9, 2007 ---

    Revisiting Tom DeBaggio, and Life with Alzheimer's ---

    "Study shows hope for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's:   Research by faculty and staff at Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J.; the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and Drexel University may lead to better diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease," PhysOrg, April 13, 2007 ---

    Martha Stewart's Food Site --- Click Here

    "Sex and prenatal hormone exposure affect cognitive performance," PhysOrg, April 13, 2007 ---

    These five scientific works are also literature of a high order

    The Method
    These scientific works are also literature of a high order.

    The Wall Street Journal
    Saturday, April 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

    1. "On the Loadstone And Magnetic Bodies" by William Gilbert (1600).

    William Gilbert of Colchester was the first person to set out clearly in print the essence of the scientific method of testing hypotheses by experiment. He also made discoveries in the field of magnetism that were not improved on for two centuries. A little more than 400 years ago, when Shakespeare was the toast of London, Gilbert wrote this book on magnetism, which is hugely entertaining even if you care nothing about science. "In the discovery of hidden things," he says, in a translation of the original Latin, "stronger reasons are obtained from sure experiments and demonstrated arguments than from probable conjectures and the opinions of philosophical speculators." And he rails against the "lettered clowns, grammatists, sophists, spouters and the wrong-headed rabble" who attempted to unravel the mysteries of the universe solely by thinking about them, without doing experiments.

    2. "Micrographia" by Robert Hooke (1665).

    "Micrographia" is the first great scientific book written in English, handsomely illustrated (many of the drawings were by Robert Hooke's friend Christopher Wren) and easily accessible to the layman. Samuel Pepys got an early copy and sat up reading it until 2 a.m., noting in his diary that it was "the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life." Hooke described not only the microscopic world but also astronomy, geology and the nature of light, setting out ideas that Isaac Newton later lifted and passed off as his own. For centuries in Newton's shadow, Hooke is now rightly regarded as Newton's equal in everything except mathematical prowess. He was the rock on which the early success of the Royal Society of London was built--and he wrote much more entertainingly than Newton.

    3. "On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin (1859).

    [/PU.BKID]Quite apart from its scientific importance, this is a beautifully written book that raises the question why scientists today are so much less literate, by and large, than their 19th-century predecessors. Darwin was an avid reader of his contemporaries, such as George Eliot and Charles Dickens, and it shows. Just look at the famous opening lines: "When on board HMS Beagle, as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America. . . . These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species." Who can fail to be sucked in and want to read on? The fact that natural selection is probably the most important scientific discovery of all time is simply a bonus!

    4. "Fragments of Science" by John Tyndall (1871).

    The Irish scientist and writer John Tyndall is almost forgotten today, but in the 19th century he was in effect the first science popularizer, and his lectures in America drew crowds as large as those for Charles Dickens. The fortune he made from the lectures was used to set up a fund for the advancement of American science. A contemporary biographer wrote: "Prof. Tyndall occupies the foremost place among his contemporaries, his only rival being his friend, Prof. Huxley"--that is, Thomas Huxley, the great Victorian defender of Darwin's theories. Tyndall was a prolific author, but "Fragments of Science" (the original, full title added "for Unscientific People") is probably his best book. Its wide-ranging topics include the nature of heat and light, spectroscopy, a voyage to Algeria to observe an eclipse, glaciology and the composition of the sun.

    5. "Six Easy Pieces" by Richard P. Feynman (Addison-Wesley, 1994).

    Something of a self-indulgence to conclude with. One of the biggest influences on my scientific career, and later my career as a popularizer of science, was the multivolume "Feynman Lectures on Physics," which appeared in the early 1960s. "Six Easy Pieces," the epitome of that masterwork, really does offer an easy guide to the essence of physics--and science in general. Feynman explores the most fundamental scientific theories--the structure and behavior of atoms, quantum mechanics and gravity. These fundamentals ought to be as well known to intelligent people as Shakespeare, Mozart and Picasso. The material in the book is essentially a transcript of Feynman lecturing (you can even get the lectures themselves on a CD to accompany the book) and comes across like a wise friend giving you the inside story on a subject he loves. More than 350 years after William Gilbert, Feynman never missed an opportunity to hammer home what remains the most essential feature of science: No matter how much you may love your pet idea, no matter how beautiful it is mathematically, "if it disagrees with experiment, then it is wrong!"

    Dr. Gribbin, a visiting fellow in astronomy at the University of Sussex, is the author, most recently, of "The Fellowship" (Overlook), which deals with the 17th-century scientific revolution.


    Things People Said ---

     Bill Cosby Quotations ---

    A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice. 

    Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. 

    Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry. 

    Anyone can dabble, but once you've made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it's very hard for people to stop you. 

    As I have discovered by examining my past, I started out as a child. Coincidentally, so did my brother. My mother did not put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak: she gave me a younger brother named Russell, who taught me what was meant by "survival of the fittest." 

    Children today know more about sex than I or my father did. 

    Civilization had too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them. 

    Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. 

    Even though your kids will consistently do the exact opposite of what you're telling them to do, you have to keep loving them just as much. 

    Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing. 

    Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. 

    Gray hair is God's graffiti. 

    Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit. 

    Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home. 

    I am certainly not an authority on love because there are no authorities on love, just those who've had luck with it and those who haven't. 

    I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. 

    I wasn't always black... there was this freckle, and it got bigger and bigger. 

    If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right. 

    Immortality is a long shot, I admit. But somebody has to be first. 

    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. 

    It isn't a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that's beautiful. 

    Let us now set forth one of the fundamental truths about marriage: the wife is in charge. 

    Like everyone else who makes the mistake of getting older, I begin each day with coffee and obituaries. 

    Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy. 

    My childhood should have taught me lessons for my own fatherhood, but it didn't because parenting can only be learned by people who have no children. 

    My eleven year old daughter mopes around the house all day waiting for her breasts to grow. 

    No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal. 

    Nothing I've ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children. 

    Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is eight or nine, he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passions for procrastination and weird clothes. 

    Old is always fifteen years from now. 

    Parents are not interested in justice, they're interested in peace and quiet. 

    People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what's bitter and move on. 

    Poets have said that the reason to have children is to give yourself immortality. Immortality? Now that I have five children, my only hope is that they are all out of the house before I die. 

    Sex education may be a good idea in the schools, but I don't believe the kids should be given homework. 

    That married couples can live together day after day is a miracle that the Vatican has overlooked. 

    That married couples can live together day after day is a miracle the Vatican has overlooked. 

    The essence of childhood, of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic. 

    The heart of marriage is memories; and if the two of you happen to have the same ones and can savor your reruns, then your marriage is a gift from the gods. 

    The main goal of the future is to stop violence. The world is addicted to it. 

    The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now. 

    The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet. 

    There is hope for the future because God has a sense of humor and we are funny to God. 

    There is no labor a person does that is undignified; if they do it right. 

    When you become senile, you won't know it. 

    Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think - in a deeper voice. 

    You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it. 

    You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who've never had any. 

    Tidbits Directory ---

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

    Three Finance Blogs

    Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
    FinancialRounds Blog ---
    Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) ---

    Some Accounting Blogs

    Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) ---
    International Association of Accountants News --- and Double Entries ---
    Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs ---
    AccountingWeb ---   
    SmartPros ---

    Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

    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 ---

    Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing Universities ---

    Free Textbooks and Cases ---

    Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---

    Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---

    Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---

    Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---

    Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

    Teacher Source:  Arts and Literature ---

    Teacher Source:  Health & Fitness ---

    Teacher Source: Math ---

    Teacher Source:  Science ---

    Teacher Source:  PreK2 ---

    Teacher Source:  Library Media ---

    Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University ---

    VYOM eBooks Directory ---

    From Princeton Online
    The Incredible Art Department ---

    Online Mathematics Textbooks --- 

    National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

    Moodle  --- 

    The word moodle is an acronym for "modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment", which is quite a mouthful. The Scout Report stated the following about Moodle 1.7. It is a tremendously helpful opens-source e-learning platform. With Moodle, educators can create a wide range of online courses with features that include forums, quizzes, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and surveys. On the Moodle website, visitors can also learn about other features and read about recent updates to the program. This application is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer or Mac OS X and newer.

    Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

    Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

    For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to
    AECM (Educators) 
    AECM is an email Listserv list which provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets, multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc

    Roles of a ListServ ---

    CPAS-L (Practitioners) 
    CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
    Yahoo (Practitioners)
    This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
    This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
    Business Valuation Group 
    This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM



    Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
    190 Sunset Hill Road
    Sugar Hill, NH 03586
    Phone:  603-823-8482