Erika Telling Secrets at My Retirement Party
on May 14, 2006 at in the Great Hall at Trinity University
Getting Old (Speakers Up) ---
It amazes me that I'm
already into the second year of retirement. Where the heck did the first year
go? Andy Rooney was right about life being like a roll of toilet paper. It spins
ever so slow when you're a kid and ever so fast after you retire. Now September
with its autumn colors is about to spin forth. The days are already much
shorter, and I'm hauling up my sweat suits from the basement. I'm writing this
on the morning of August 10. The temperature hovers shakily around 20 degrees
above freezing. Our furnace kicked on. The truth of the matter is that I like a
cool summer, the colder days of autumn, and even the frigid days of winter.
The days are growing shorter in this
spin of things. I listened to a hoot owl for about a half hour this morning
before I rolled out of bed. One of the joys of retirement is that I don't have
to contend with commuting and traffic. Whenever we see more than one car on our
Interstate 93 we call it the rush hour.
A close (also
retired accounting professor) friend sent me the blue prints for his new house
under construction on eight acres near Spokane. I’ve never built a
new house before, but if I designed my own house the most important thing for me
is an enormous amount of storage. Fortunately, my present cottage has a huge full
basement with 12-foot ceilings. It has drywall walls, but it is not a finished
basement. I also have a barn where, among other things, I keep my tractor and my
second car. Up here we have a summer car and a winter car that we switch
seasonally. Erika cannot drive this year.
I also have an
outdoor “studio” where I can keep most of my books, desks, files, and computer
paraphernalia. Erika likes keeping all that mess and me outside, although this
particular year I've worked mostly inside the cottage so I can help her
from her surgeries. Now an enormous groundhog lives with the
family under the studio. Can groundhogs do structural damage to buildings? I
sort of like the menagerie under my feet! Wild animals are so much easier than
pets. The feed and otherwise care for themselves.
I don't mind the
groundhogs and chipmunks sharing my space. But I don't much care for bats in my
chimneys. The furnace man cleaned out a bat's nest here early this morning. I'm
putting up a bat house on a pole near my barn. I hope to attract those greatly
misunderstood creatures into the joys of outdoor living.
I miss some things
about my house in Bangor, Maine years ago (1968-1978). It was a large old two-story house with
a basement and a wonderful attic. I hung an 80-foot pipe on the rafters where we
could hang summer clothes in the winter and winter clothes in the summer. Since
then I’ve never had a big attic with a wide stairway from the second floor.
The move from Texas
to New Hampshire taught me one thing --- I never want to move again!!! That move
turned into an enormous ordeal mostly because we mistakenly moved so much stuff.
The things we wanted to keep would not all fit in one 54-foot North American
van. In these mountains that enormous van could not make the turn onto our road.
So I borrowed a pick up truck from my neighbor (Lon), and we "lightered" the big
van one or two pieces at a time into the back of the pick up. It took over 34
hours nonstop with four strong North American men and Erika and me. Fortunately, the weather
was clear and we could watch bears moving down the way in the light of a full
moon. I think they were probably going to and from the
Sunset Hill House Hotel
dumpster. Bears sometimes can even pull away the logging chains hunkering down
the lid of that dumpster.
It took about almost
a year to get things sorted and tucked away. We moved from a large Texas house into a smaller
that made it tough to tuck away all our stuff. We still have many unpacked boxes
and wardrobes in our basement and barn. I think we moved them up here just to
eventually give them to charity now that they're more antique than before in
Texas. I keep telling Erika we can't take a thing along on our next move, which
will be from this world rather than in this world.
Today I feel
September blowing in on the mountain winds.
The Autumn Leaves, The Days Grow Long
(Speakers Up) ---
September Song ---
was a young man courting the girls
I played me a waiting game
If a maid refused me with tossing
I let the old earth, take a couple of
While I plied her with tears in place
and as time came around she came my
As time came around she came
For it's a long-long while
from May to December
And the days grow short
when you reach September
And I have lost my teeth (well not quite yet)
and I'm walking in the little rain
Hey honey, I haven't got the time
for any waiting game
And the days turn to gold
as they grow few
And these few golden days
I'd like to spend them with you
These golden days
I'd like to spend them with you
And the days dwindle down
to a precious few
And I'm not quite equipped
for these waiting games
I have a little money
and I've had a little pain
And these few golden days
as the days grow so few
These golden days
I'd like to spend them with you
These precious golden days
I'd like to spend them with you
|Frank Sinatra ---
Click the play button several times to finish the song.
More Tracks by
Fly Me To The Moon
I've Got You Under My Skin
Strangers in the Night
|Sarah Vaughan ---
Click the play button several times to finish the song.
More tracks by
Are You Certain
|Midi Version 1---
Midi Version 2 ---
Lou Reed Youtube---
(Not my favorite rendition)
Tidbits on August 16, 2007
For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures
Bob Jensen's Threads ---
Bob Jensen's Home Page is at
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Set up free conference calls at
World Clock ---
If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops ---
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 ---
Alan Russell: Why can't we grow new body parts? (18-minute video,
not humor) ---
Dick Cheney's Quagmire ---
A New Tune for Iraq (video about press coverage)
Video on Personal Tech in the Workplace ---
There are many other video links at this same link.
Video News of the Future (Remembering Broadcast.com) ---
From Blog Maverick Mark Cuban (Click the Play Button)
Ethan (Five Year Old Pianist) on the Jay Leno Show ---
NBC will no longer allow this to be shown on YouTube.
Notable New Yorkers ---
Remember the 1960s (society facts and music excerpts) ---
Online Dog (Type in roll over, down, stand, sing, dance,
shake, fetch, play dead etc. Afterwards type in "Kiss." ---
Tale of the Pussy and the Printer ---
What engineers do in spare time ---
Meeting Crashers ---
Free music downloads ---
A Beethoven Extravaganza Recreated ---
At the Concert Hall, a Symphony for Space
Glimmerglass Opera presents the world premiere of
Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good ---
Stephen Hartke's 'The Greater Good' (Opera) ---
Chris and Thomas: Drenched in Harmony
Click on the Listen Button
Elvis died 30 years ago.
You can listen to many, many of his recordings here ---
Janie has a bit better reproductions of Elvis recordings ---
A New Elvis page from Janie ---
America the Beautiful (Elvis) ---
I Did it My Way (Elvis) ---
One of Bob Jensen's
A Special Love Song (Charlie Rich) ---
Bring on the Rain
(Jo Dee Messina with Tim McGraw) ---
The Rose (Bette Midler)
All These Things
(Juke Box Nostalgia) ---
Are You Sure (Timi
At Last (Etta Jones) ---
Could I Have This Dance? (Anne Murray) ---http://www.barb-coolwaters.com/c001/thisdance.html
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Gutsy Rock 'n' Roll
Click on the Listen button
America the Beautiful (Elvis) ---
Photographs and Art
Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various
types electronic literature available free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
Open Library ---
For a good review, see
The Pulitzer Prizes ---
Bruno's Revenge by Lewis Carroll
The Adventure Of The Abbey Grange
by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
The Purloined Letter by Edgar
Allan Poe ---
A Footnote To History by Robert
Louis Stevenson ---
Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain
College professors can probably get students to pay more attention to
classroom PowerPoint slides if they insert some of these!
"Greatest 1-liners in tough-guy movie history," by Chuck Norris (Texas
Ranger Role Model), WorldNetDaily, August 6, 2007 ---
My favorite one-liners in others' movies
"Here's looking at you kid." (Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca" – 1942)
"How does a girl like you get to be a girl like you?" (Cary Grant in
"North by Northwest" – 1959)
"Out here, due process is a bullet." (John Wayne in "The Green Berets" –
"You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya
punk?" (Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry" – 1971)
"I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can
be careless. But not men." (Marlon Brando in "The God Father" – 1972)
"I don't want to kill everyone." (Al Pacino in "The God Father 2" – 1974)
"You talkin' to me?" (Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver" – 1976)
"Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy." (Clint Eastwood in "The Outlaw Josey
Wales" – 1976)
"With a little luck, the network will pick me up." (Sigourney Weaver in
"Alien" – 1979 – after ridding the spacecraft of aliens)
"Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder!" (Carrie
Fisher in "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" – 1980)
"Go ahead, make my day." (Clint Eastwood in "Sudden Impact" – 1983)
"I'll be back" (Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Terminator" – 1984) (This
line would be repeated in some reminiscent way in nine of his following
"He's dead tired." (Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Commando" – 1985 – after
killing a man)
"You're the disease. I'm the cure." (Sylvester Stallone in "Cobra" –
"A hundred million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet
smaller than my sister." (Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" – 1988 – after killing
and stealing the shoes of a terrorist)
"I'm like a bad penny, I always turn up." (Harrison Ford in "Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade" – 1989)
"After I shoot you through the door, you can examine the bullet. Open
up!" (Mel Gibson in "Lethal Weapon 2" – 1989).
"I crap bigger than you." (Jack Palance in "City Slickers" –1991)
"Hasta la vista, baby!" (Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 2: Judgment
Day" – 1991)
"Why Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave."
(Val Kilmer in "Tombstone" – 1993)
"Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present
himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own
arse." (Mel Gibson in "Braveheart" – 1995)
"Before this war is over, I'm going to kill you." (Mel Gibson in "The
Patriot" – 2000)
"We just rolled up a snowball and threw it into Hell. Now we'll see if it
has a chance." (Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible 2" – 2000)
"Who's your Daddy now?" (Angelina Jolie in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" – 2005 –
After she hits Brad Pitt's character with a teapot and headbutts him)
A few favorite lines from my own movies
I'm often asked about my favorite one-liners from my own movies. Here are
a few that stand out and still cause me to chuckle.
"My kind of trouble doesn't take vacations" ("Lone Wolf McQuade" – 1983)
"If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you" ("Code of Silence" –
"If you come back in here, I'm going to hit you with so many rights,
you're going to beg for a left." ("Invasion USA" – 1985)
"Sleep tight, sucker." ("The Delta Force" – 1986 – after taking out a
George Wright later reminded me about the following one-liner:
The list of one-liners in your recent tidbits
reminded me of one delivered by the late John Vernon, as Dean Wormer, in
Animal House: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
People who visit www.intelius.com
can enter a person's name to get a cell phone number, or do the reverse by
entering a number to get the subscriber's name. Each search costs $15. They can
also download a raft of personal information about the subscriber. This was a
feature on ABC evening news, August 14, 2007.
"Free Cell Phone Number Search - How To Find Free Cell Phone Numbers," ---
The freebies are not really very worthwhile relative to the fee-based services.
This will be terribly frustrating if telemarketers and crank callers begin to
use up your allotted free minutes of cell phone time each month.
You may enter your cell phone numbers into the "Do Not Call" registry the
same as you probably did for your landline phone ---
However, telemarketers are not supposed to call cell phones with automatic
This is no protection, however, from crank callers or telemarketers who take the
trouble to dial in your cell phone number. Of course, being in the "Do Not Call"
registry does not protect you from telemarketing charitable organizations that
are typically the biggest nuisance these days. Also the "Do Not Call Register"
provides no guarantee that you will not get calls from commercial telemarketers,
especially those who fly by night.
It might just pay to get the cell phone numbers of your state Senators and
local Congressional representative and call them late at night at home on their
supposedly "personal" cell phones. Better yet, call their children and ask them
to tell their parents how you got their phone numbers.
Note that if you've never given a cell phone number out to any organization
other than your phone company, Intelius may not have your cell phone number in
its dastardly database. You should make your children aware of this.
To my knowledge there's no unlisted phone service for cell phones like the
one that you can pay for monthly on your landline number.
Compressed Versus Uncompressed AVI Camtasia Video Files
How to make and broadcast
Podcasting and Vodcasting Lessons Using Camtasia and Screencast
added a discussion about how
to improve run times with smaller video file sizes. Video file size is the
biggest barrier to having more learning video files on Web servers, Blackboard
servers, and WebCT servers. Most universities simply do not provide each faculty
member with sufficient server space to serve up a lot of video. Below I discuss
some options (floating capture regions and frame rate adjustments) that provide
more run time for each KB of space taken on a server or CD/DVD disk
Although I've been using Camtasia for years, I've recently been preparing
some Camtasia video for a road show that I will do on education technology.
Camtasia is wonderful for making educational videos, especially narrated videos
of lessons and tutorials on computer screens, videos of narrated PowerPoint
files, interactive videos, podcasts (audio), Vodcasts (video), and narrated
sequences of pictures turned into video files.
One really nice thing about Camtasia is that you do not have to record an
entire video clip continuously, It's easy to record a segment and then hit the
pause button (or F9 that's used both to start a recording session and pause a
recording session). That way you have time for each segment to think about what
you're going to say and to bring up software, video files, audio files, and/or
Websites appropriate for that segment of the clip. When you've finished the
entire clip you can hit the stop button (or F10) to generate a avi file. Later
on you can "produce" a compressed version of the clip.
Camtasia generally captures video as uncompressed avi files. These
uncompressed files are enormous and are not efficient for storing on CDs, DVDs,
Web servers, Blackboard servers, WebCT servers, etc. Fortunately Camtasia has
software called "Producer" in Camtasia Suite that compresses videos into much
smaller files that can be played in common software such as wmv files for
Windows Media Player, rm files for RealMedia, mov files for Quicktime, scf files
for Adobe flash, mp3 files, and other "production" files.
I thought you might be interested in how much disk space is saved in the
compression process. Last weekend I made a number of Camtasia avi videos and
then compressed them into wmv video for Windows Media Player. I have both an old
Camtasia 2 and a current Camtasia 4 (with updates). I captured the avi files
using Camtasia 4, because this will also capture video playing on the screen.
However, I found that the Producer software in Camtasia 2 gave me smaller
compressed video files for some reason. The savings are shown below comparing
the avi files and my compressed files:
Uncompressed AVI File Size
||Video Run Time
||5,928 KB wmv
||29,586 KB wmv
||22,228 KB swf
||4,766 KB wmv
Warning: You can only edit the video (e.g., add fades, delete portions
of clips, combine clips, split clits, change volume, etc) in the uncompressed
avi video using Producer software. You lose quality in video and audio if you
have to re-capture a compressed video as a avi file using Camtasia. Hence, it is
best to store the initial avi files somewhere if you think you might want to
edit later on.
The video size to runtime ratio varies greatly with both the capture rate and
the size of the region on a computer screen that you are capturing. Since all
the above videos were captured at the same (default) capture rate, the ratio of
file size to run time varies greatly because the capture region varies in size
in each of the above videos. Capturing only a region greatly saves on the
size of the captured video file. Capturing full or nearly-full screen sizes
greatly adds to the video file size.
I prepared a video called GoalSeek01.wmv
to illustrate the use of a “floating (panning) capture region” to greatly save
on both the AVI and the WMV file sizes. In this illustration the outcomes were
56,596 KB for the uncompressed AVI file and 7,932 KB for the compressed WMV
version. The runtime is 12.07 minutes. File sizes are more than triple if I
capture the same video full screen.
To download this video tutorial, go to
I captured this video using only the built-in microphone on my laptop. It is
possible to greatly improve the video with a better microphone and more quiet
ambient noise surroundings.
Note in particular that the dimensions of the “floating capture region” can
be varied for any video you capture. Just before starting to record the video
you trace out a rectangle to the desired size of the region. Make sure the
panning option is turned on so that you can float that region to any part of the
computer screen. In the video I explain how to turn the panning option on or off
in Camtasia recorder.
Remember that if
you want to cut down greatly on the size of your video file, keep the “floating
capture region” quite small. You can move that floating region to wherever you
point your mouse on the full screen during the video recording.
that Camtasia also allows for fixed region or reduced-frame capturing rather
than floating region capturing. For example, it possible to set an XLS file, a
DOC file, or a JPG slide show of pictures to a given frame size and then ask
Camtasia to capture whatever appears in that frame. This is great when you want
to narrate or add music to a video presentation of a sequence of pictures that
you’ve taken on your camera and stored in your computer.
Video size relative to video run time also depends heavily on the frame rate
at which the video is captured. Camtasia allows you to use a default setting for
both the capture rate and audio interleaving. The default rate is fast enough to
capture video with audio playing on the screen with reasonable lip synching if
the audio shows the face of a speaker. If you were making a video of a
PowerPoint file without adding audio narration you could save disk space by
greatly slowing down the video capture rate. However, I generally do not mess
with the default settings. If you want to change the frame rates, you can read
more about it ---
You can also change playback rates ---
Camtasia allows you to do some things like highlighting where your cursor is
pointing. I generally use a big yellowish translucent circle around my mouse
pointer. You can also have audio sounds whenever you click on your mouse and/or
keyboard. This may alert student attention. You can also bring up a pen that
allows you to write on video screens without writing on the computer program,
like Excel, that you are running in the video.
You can also pan and zoom. Zoom lets you point to something like a cell
formula in Excel and then make that formula larger and larger and larger. You
can subsequently return to normal size. I use the panning feature when I am only
recording a region of a screen such as a rectangle about a third of the size of
the full computer screen. Capturing only a region greatly saves on the size of
the captured video file. I use the panning feature to allow me to float the
capture region to wherever I move my mouse. This allows me to capture anything
appearing on a computer screen without having to capture a full screen in every
Years ago I started using Camtasia to field questions posed by students. For
example, after technical lessons in my Accounting Information Systems course, I
almost always received email messages from students who could not get something
to work, especially in Excel and MS Access. I would then record a video tutorial
and shared my answers with the entire current class and my future classes. You
can download some of my sample wmv tutorials in this regard from
The acronym PQQ stands for Possible Quiz Question source.
I also prepared longer tutorials on more complicated technical lectures in my
Accounting Theory course. Most all of my students were confused after my
lectures in this course until they viewed my video tutorials over and over and
over. Some of my tutorials for the theory course are at
I think video capturing is the way to go for technical
tutorials that students can play over and over. You can also play them when a
student comes to your office for help and you can’t remember how to do something
technical that you once mastered but flub up easily after time passes --- for
example something technical you did in MS Access a year ago but cannot recall
how to make it work just before going to class in ten minutes. Some Excel and MS
Access illustrations are listed as wmv files at
Another illustration is the Korean stock exchange
illustration of XBRL that I sometimes flub up when trying to teach it live in
front of a class. It is great to have my video tutorial (that won’t flub up).
See the XBRLdemos2005.wmv file at
The more forgetful
I get the more I need my Camtasia crutch. I’ve recorded video on technical
things that I never again want to have to learn all over again from scratch.
It’s a great way to appear brilliant for your audiences over the years even
though you’re no longer as clever as in your youth. I thought about transferring
some of my most technical videos to the server under a folder called “Viagra
Video.” But I doubt Trinity University that hosts my two servers would
appreciate my humor. One of the files I would’ve placed in this folder is my
tutorial on the Feng Gu and Baruch Lev controversial approach to measuring the
value of intangibles. To see the illustration go to the
LevIntangiblesMetrics.wmv file at
I also recorded some general tutorials that you can download from
I have other tutorials that are filed away somewhere on CDs. It would take
some effort to dig them out now.
The nice thing about Camtasia is that it's is so simple to use when creating
and compressing video. Editing video is more complicated. It is also possible to
add hot spots to swf flash video that you have compressed such that you can
create interactive videos for your students, including examination videos.
However, this is extremely tedious. I found it better to create my interactive
examination files in Excel and then link to my tutorial videos at any time in
those Excel files.
The hard thing about Camtasia is getting the audio to sound professional.
Actually, I found my narrations using a cheap microphone adequate for my course
tutorials. This weekend I had satisfactory results using only the internal
microphone that's built into my Dell laptop. However, audio could be improved
with an expensive microphone and a sound proof booth. Ambient noise in your
office can be irritating when recorded in video.
If you are recording in your office, you should probably disconnect the
telephone during recording sessions. Also put a sign on your office door that
you are in a recording session.
It is also possible to make videos of PowerPoint files. If you choose to do
so you can easily add a Camtasia toolbar in your PowerPoint file such that you
can make videos with audio narrations on any any part or all of a PowerPoint
file. That way you can teach from PowerPoint when you're out of town, retired,
or dead.Users can download compressed video files of PowerPoint files with less
virus risk than from any MS Office files such as doc, xls. or ppt files.
However, when I narrate any of my PowerPoint files and make videos of them, I
generally find that even the compressed videos are enormous since my PowerPoint
files usually have more than 50 slides. Actually, it is probably best to
compress PowerPoint vides at a slow frame rate as swf Flash files. Since
Powerpoint is not fast moving video, a slower frame rate is usually quite
Nevertheless, recording and serving up entire lectures requires huge amounts
of disk space. If your university will not provide you with enough Web,
Blackboard, or WebCT server space for such large video files, I suggest that you
make a DVD disk of compressed video for each lesson and then make these disks
available in the library or by mail to students. Your campus media center may
have more creative solutions.
||A summary video of using
Camtasia for recording and serving up Podcasts, Vodcasts, and Audio
Enhanced PowerPoint files ---
Three nice summary videos on how to
create interactive Flash videos using Camtasia ---
You can find out more about Camtasia and related TechSmith products at
You can watch an introductory video at
TechSmith has a link to Richard Campbell's (University of Rio Grande)
interactive examination questions at
However, the link to Richard's files appears to broken, and Richard says he can
no longer find the illustration file.
Happy video, podcast, and vodcast producing!
You can read more about video and audio capturing at
How can you capture streaming media?
August 9, 2007 question from XXXXX
How do I get a copy of the power point show of this
great presentation? Am not computer literate but would like this on disc or
dvd for a friend who does not have a pc.
August 9, 2007 reply from Bob Jensen
I assume you mean from the link
This is a streaming presentation which means you cannot download it as a
file like you would download it as a PowerPoint file.
There are several alternatives for capturing streaming media.
One alternative is to capture the streaming media in a Camtasia Studio
video. This will work fine for the images, but the music that is also
captured may be somewhat disappointing ---
You may also check out Playstream at
Also check out Studio Now ---
One approach to get a PowerPoint version is to click on Pause with each
image and capture the image in streaming video. You can then paste the image
into your own PowerPoint slide. It’s a bit tedious but you can then have a
PowerPoint slide for each captured image. There are various software options
for image capturing such as the Import command in Paints. Separately you can
capture the music and then add it to your PowerPoint file ---
Various alternatives for capturing screen images are available for a fee.
For years I used the Import feature of Paint Shop Pro from JASC. Now,
however, I prefer SnagIt from Tech Smith ---
Tech Smith also has a free capture program called Jing. PC World (via The
Washington Post) gives a highly favorable review of Jing that is quoted at
Hope this helps a little.
Bob Jensen's threads on tools and tricks of education technology are at
How to capture and broadcast streaming media ---
Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks are at
How can you give online examinations?
How can you help prevent cheating?
If it's a take home test the easiest thing is probably to put an examination up
on a Web server or a Blackboard/WebCT server. For example, you might put up a
Word doc file or an Excel xls file as a take home examination. You can even
embed links to your Camtasia video files in that examination so that video
becomes part of an examination question. Then have each student download the
exam, fill out the answers, and return the file to you via email attachment for
grading. One risk is that the returned file might have a virus even though the
student is not aware that his/her computer added a virus.
In order to avoid the virus risk of files students attach via email, I had an
old computer that I used to open all email attachments from most anybody. Then
in the rare event that the attached file was carrying a virus I did not infect
my main machines. Good virus protection software is essential even on your old
If students are restricted as to what materials can be used during
examinations or who can be consulted for help, an approach that I used is
examination partnering. I posted quizzes (not full examinations) at a common
time when students were required to take the quiz. Each student was randomly
assigned a partner student such that each partner took the exam in the presence
of a randomly assigned partner. Each student was then required to sign an attest
form saying that his/her partner abided by the rules of the examination. I only
used this for weekly quizzes. Course examinations were given in class with me as
a proctor. Partnered quizzes worked very well in courses where students had to
master software like MS Access. They could perform software usage activities as
part of the quiz.
Giving online interactive examinations via a Web server is more problematic.
A huge problem is that most universities do not allow student feedback on
instructors Web pages. When you fill a shopping cart at an online vendor site
such as Amazon, Amazon is letting you as a customer send a signal back that you
added something to your shopping cart. Amazon allows customers to send signals
back to an Amazon server. Universities do not generally allow this type of
feedback from students on a faculty Web server.
Some universities, especially those with distance education programs, have
online examination software. This varies greatly in cost and quality. You can
read more about such software at
Technology for Proctoring Distance Education Examinations
"Proctor 2.0," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, June 2, 2006 ---
It’s time for final exams. You’re a student in
Tokyo and your professor works in Alabama. It’s after midnight and you’re
ready to take the test from your bedroom. No problem. Flip open your laptop,
plug in special hardware, take a fingerprint, answer the questions and
you’re good to go.
Just know this: Your professor can watch your every
move ... and see the pile of laundry building up in the corner of the room.
Distance learning programs – no matter their
structure or locations – have always wrestled with the issue of student
authentication. How do you verify that the person who signed up for a class
is the one taking the test if that student is hundreds, often thousands, of
Human oversight, in the form of proctors who
administer exams from a variety of places, has long been the solution. But
for some of the larger distance education programs — such as Troy
University, with about 17,000 eCampus students in 13 time zones — finding
willing proctors and centralized testing locations has become cumbersome.
New hardware being developed for Troy would allow
faculty members to monitor online test takers and give students the freedom
to take the exam anywhere and at any time. In principle, it is intended to
defend against cheating. But some say the technology is going overboard.
Sallie Johnson, director of instructional design
and education technologies for Troy’s eCampus, approached Cambridge,
Mass.-based Software Secure Inc. less than two years ago to develop a unit
that would eliminate the need for a human proctor. Johnson said the hardware
is the university’s response to the urgings of both Congress and regional
accrediting boards to make authentication a priority.
The product, called Securexam Remote Proctor, would
likely cost students about $200. The unit hooks into a USB port and does not
contain the student’s personal information, allowing people to share the
product. The authentication is done through a server, so once a student is
in the database, he or she can take an exam from any computer that is
A fingerprint sensor is built into the base of the
remote proctor, and professors can choose when and how often they want
students to identify themselves during the test, Johnson said. In the
prototype, a small camera with 360-degree-view capabilities is attached to
the base of the unit. Real-time audio and video is taken from the test
taker’s room, and any unusual activity — another person walking into the
room, an unfamiliar voice speaking — leads to a red-flag message that
something might be awry.
Professors need not watch students taking the test
live; they can view the streaming audio or video at any time.
“We can see them and hear them, periodically do a
thumb print and have voice verification,” Johnson said. “This allows faculty
members to have total control over their exams.”
Douglas Winneg, president of Software Secure, said
the new hardware is the first the company has developed with the distance
learning market in mind. It has developed software tools that filter
material so that students taking tests can’t access any unauthorized
Winneg, whose company works with a range of
colleges, said authentication is “a painful issue for institutions, both
traditional brick-and-mortar schools and distance learning programs.”
Troy is conducting beta tests of the product at its
home campus. Johnson said by next spring, the Securexam Remote Proctor could
commonly be used in distance learning classes at the university, with the
eventual expectation that it will be mandatory for students enrolled in
Onsite Versus Online Education (including controls for online
examinations and assignments) ---
Bob Jensen's threads on emerging tools of our trade ---
Tenure Credits for Micro-Level
In public sociology, scholars use their
research outside of academe to reshape an organization, or they
work with people outside academe (social service providers,
government officials, and others) to define and execute research
projects. There is no one precise definition of the field (and
some consider it an updated version of applied sociology), but
it is generally assumed that it involves a direct link to
research and is more than just helping in the community. A
scholar of the homeless who works one morning in a soup kitchen
is a volunteer, not a public sociologist. A scholar who uses her
research to redesign the way a soup kitchen provides services
might be a public sociologist. Proponents of public sociology
very much want to see it receive due credit in tenure and
promotion decisions, but they acknowledge that there is not a
historic framework to do so. “If it’s just a sociologist saying
that he or she has done something, it has limited credibility,”
said Philip W. Nyden, a professor of sociology who is co-chair
of a task force of the American Sociological Association that
has been studying these questions for the last two years. Nyden
discussed the work of the task force at the association’s annual
meeting this week
Scott Jaschik, "Tenure and the Public Sociologist,"
Inside Higher Ed, August 15, 2007 ---
The same question my be raised about an accounting faculty
member who "redesign the way a small business" accounts for
business transactions, especially if the design is creative
relative to known designs and entails customizing software
innovatively. A problem is that clever designs for a particular
business may not generalize well to other businesses and,
therefore, have less appeal to academic research journal
editors, especially editors of leading journals.
Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in higher education are at
Bob Jensen's birthday poem to a close friend!
For his 70th birthday I sent a professor friend of mine who is very popular
with students and has won many major awards for excellence. For a present I sent
him something he may soon need (from Amazon) --- the
History Channel's DVD on
entitled "Modern Marvels --- High Tech Sex.".
The following module from the Financial Rounds blog contains a cute variation of
the Happy Birthday song. This blog is authored by a finance professor who calls
Pointy Headed Bosses Shouldn't be Given Spreadsheets
To see the above Dilbert
cartoon, go to
Financial Rounds on
August 8, 2007 ---
Wednesday (Birthday) Link Dump
Sometimes having kids can be hazardous to your health. Today's my 49th
birthday (in another year I suppose I'll start getting those
mailings), and I faked being asleep this morning when the kids came up
to wake me up. So, the 8 year-old
Unknown Son puts his mouth to
my ear and shouts "WAKE UP". This was followed by the classic:
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
You Look Like a Monkey
And Smell Like A Zoo
Bob Jensen’s variation
for my professor friend
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
I look out at my hills and smile
Knowing you’re older than them too
A Federal Judge is Still Trying to Get $54 Million for Two Pairs of Pants
Delayed in Altering (the pants have since been returned to him)
"U.S. judge presses $54 mln suit over pants," Reuters, August 14, 2007
A U.S. judge appealed his $54 million (27 million
pounds) lawsuit on Tuesday against the dry-cleaning shop that misplaced his
trousers, shrugging off legal setbacks and international ridicule.
Judge Roy Pearson filed a notice of appeal with the
District of Columbia Superior Court, indicating that he won't abandon the
crusade that has turned him into a symbol of America's lawsuit-happy legal
Pearson asked his neighbourhood dry cleaners to pay
him $1,150 when they misplaced a pair of trousers he brought in for a $10.50
alteration in May 2005. The owners of Custom Cleaners said they located the
garment a few days later, but Pearson said the pair they offered him was not
Claiming that the shop's "satisfaction guaranteed"
sign misled customers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their
experience, Pearson sought $1,500 for every day that Custom Cleaners
displayed the sign over a four-year period, multiplied by the three members
of the Chung family, who owned the business.
He also sought $15,000 to rent a car to take his
clothes to another cleaner for 10 years.
The judge hearing the case ruled in June that
Pearson did not interpret the sign in a reasonable fashion.
A sympathetic public donated enough money to pay
the Chung's legal fees, estimated at around $85,000.
Pearson, meanwhile, could lose his job as an
administrative judge for the District of Columbia, where he hears disputes
involving the decisions of city government agencies.
The city has warned Pearson it might not reappoint
him when his job comes up for review next month, according to The Washington
Pearson was not immediately available for comment.
Jim Reeves and later Elvis recorded a song that I hope Washington DC
officials will listen to when considering Pearson's reappointment:
He'll Have to Go (speakers up) ---
"HOWTO: Be more productive," by Aaron Swartz ---
Aaron is the founder of the Open Library ---
For a good review, see
The Future of Work
Note that the title "The Future of Teaching could be "The Future of
Teaching" with the articles slightly revised to encompass education as well as
"The Future of Work: How we will master technology, manage companies,
and build careers in the era of the global, 24-7 workplace," Business Week
Cover Story, August 20, 2007 ---
Video on Personal Tech in the Workplace ---
There are many other video links at this same link.
Education Balance: The liberal arts make us competitive in the ways that
"Not By Geeks Alone," by Chester E. Finn, Jr.
and Diane Ravitch, The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2007; Page A13 ---
In a globalizing economy, America's competitive
edge depends in large measure on how well our schools prepare tomorrow's
And notwithstanding the fact that Congress and the
White House are now controlled by opposing parties, lawmakers on both sides
of the aisle are bent on devising new programs and boosting education
Consider the measure -- the
America Competes Act -- that recently passed Congress and is on its
way to the president's desk. The bill will substantially increase
government funding for science, technology, engineering and math
("STEM" subjects). President Bush, Education Secretary Margaret
Spellings as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid support this initiative. Nearly all of the 2008
presidential candidates endorse its goals. And 38 state legislatures
have also recently enacted STEM bills. The buzz is as constant as
Indeed, STEM has swiftly
emerged as the hottest education topic since No Child Left Behind.
They're related, too. NCLB puts a premium on reading and math skills
and also pays some attention to science. Marry it with STEM and you
get heavy emphasis on a particular suite of skills.
But there is a problem here.
Worthy though these skills are, they ignore at least half of what
has long been regarded as a "well rounded" education in Western
civilization: literature, art, music, history, civics and geography.
Indeed, a new study from the Center on Education Policy says that,
since NCLB's enactment, nearly half of U.S. school districts have
reduced the time their students spend on subjects such as art and
This is a mistake that will
ill-serve our children while misconstruing the true nature of
American competitiveness and the challenges we face in the 21st
As with all education
reforms, the STEM-winders mean well. They reason that India and
China will eat America's lunch unless we boost our young people's
prowess in the STEM fields. But these enthusiasts don't understand
that what makes Americans competitive on a shrinking, globalizing
planet isn't out-gunning Asians at technical skills. Rather, it's
our people's creativity, versatility, imagination, restlessness,
energy, ambition and problem-solving prowess.
True success over the long
haul -- economic success, civic success, cultural success, domestic
success, national defense success -- depends on a broadly educated
populace with flowers and leaves as well as stems. That's what
equips us to invent and imagine and grow one business line into
another. It's also how we acquire qualities and abilities that
aren't easily "outsourced" to Guangzhou or Hyderabad.
Students who garner high-tech
skills may still get undercut by people halfway around the world who
are willing to do the same work for one-fifth of the salary. The
surest way to compete is to offer something the Chinese and Indians
(and Vietnamese, Singaporeans, etc.) cannot -- technical skills are
Apple's iPod was not just an
engineering improvement on Sony's Walkman. It emerged from Steve
Jobs's American-style understanding of people's lifestyles, needs,
tastes and capacities. (Yes, Mr. Jobs dropped out of college -- but
went on to study philosophy and foreign cultures.)
Pragmatic folks naturally
seek direct links from skill to result, such as engineers using
their technical knowledge to keep planes aloft and bridges from
buckling. But what about Abraham Lincoln educating himself via
Shakespeare, the Bible and other great literary works? Alan
Greenspan's degrees are in economics but he plays a mean jazz
saxophone. Indeed, many of today's foremost (and wealthiest)
entrepreneurs, people like Warren Buffett, studied economics -- not
a STEM subject -- in college. Adam Smith studied moral philosophy.
The liberal arts make us
"competitive" in the ways that matter most. They make us wise,
thoughtful and appropriately humble. They help our human potential
to bloom. And they are the foundation for a democratic civic polity,
where each of us bears equal rights and responsibilities.
History and literature also
impart to their students healthy skepticism and doubt, the ability
to question, to ask both "why?" and "why not?" and, perhaps most
important, readiness to challenge authority, push back against
conventional wisdom and make one's own way despite pressure to
conform. (How will that be viewed in China?)
We're already at risk of
turning U.S. schools into test-prepping skill factories where
nothing matters except exam scores on basic subjects. That's not
what America needs nor is it a sufficient conception of educational
accountability. We need schools that prepare our children to excel
and compete not only in the global workforce but also as full
participants in our society, our culture, our polity and our
Addressing a recent Fordham
Foundation education conference, Arts Endowment chairman Dana Gioia
said "We need a system that grounds all students in pleasure, beauty
and wonder. It is the best way to create citizens who are awakened
not only to their humanity, but to the human enterprise that they
inherit and will -- for good or ill -- perpetuate."
Creating such a system calls
not for a host of specialized new institutions and government
programs, but for closely examining the curriculum in all our
schools. It also calls for recalibrating academic standards and
graduation requirements, as well as amending our
testing-and-accountability schemes -- most certainly including NCLB
-- by widening the definition of "proficient" to include reasoning,
creativity and knowledge across a dozen subjects as well as basic
cognitive skills. We need to start reconceptualizing "highly
qualified" teachers as people who are themselves broadly educated
rather than narrowly specialized.
Abandoning the liberal arts
in the name of STEM alone also risks widening social divides and
deepening domestic inequities. The well-to-do who understand the
value of liberal learning may be the only ones able to purchase it
for their children. Top private schools and a few suburban systems
will stick with education broadly defined, as will elite colleges.
Rich kids will study philosophy and art, music and history, while
their poor peers fill in bubbles on test sheets. The lucky few will
spawn the next generation of tycoons, political leaders, inventors,
authors, artists and entrepreneurs. The less lucky masses will see
narrower opportunities. Some will find no opportunities at all,
which frustration will tempt them to prey upon the fortunate, who in
turn will retreat into gated communities, exclusive clubs, and
private this-and-that's, thereby widening domestic rifts and
worsening our prospects for social cohesion and civility.
Not a pretty picture. Adding
leaves and flowers to STEM and NCLB won't necessarily avert it --
but hewing to basic skills at the expense of a complete education
will surely worsen it.
Mr. Finn and Ms. Ravitch, former assistant U.S.
Secretaries of Education and members of the Koret Task Force on K-12
Education at the Hoover Institution, are editors of "Beyond the
Basics: Achieving a Liberal Education for All Children" (Thomas B.
Fordham Institute, 2007).
"The Overworked College Administrator," by Barbara Mainwaring,
Inside Higher Ed, August 10, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Did Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz Plagiarize?
Dr George Gheverghese Joseph from The University of
Manchester says the 'Kerala School' identified the 'infinite series'- one of the
basic components of calculus - in about 1350. The discovery is currently - and
wrongly - attributed in books to Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz at the
end of the seventeenth centuries. The team from the Universities of Manchester
and Exeter reveal the Kerala School also discovered what amounted to the Pi
series and used it to calculate Pi correct to 9, 10 and later 17 decimal places.
And there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Indians passed on their
discoveries to mathematically knowledgeable Jesuit missionaries who visited
India during the fifteenth century. That knowledge, they argue, may have
eventually been passed on to Newton himself. Dr Joseph made the revelations
while trawling through obscure Indian papers for a yet to be published third
edition of his best selling book 'The Crest of the Peacock: the Non-European
Roots of Mathematics' by Princeton University Press.
"Indians predated Newton 'discovery' by 250 years ," PhysOrg, August 14,
Plagiarism and citation are not viewed today quite like they were in the Middle
Ages. In particular failing to cite ideas and discoveries was much more common
in earlier times. Well into the 20th Century, European and other
professors often took credit for works of others, particularly their students.
Sometimes professors took credit for entire books written by their students just
as artists sometimes took credit for the works of their students without any
acknowledgements whatsoever. Of course there is no proof in the above example
that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz had knowledge of the purported earlier
discoveries in India.
August 14, 2007
reply from Gadal, Damian
I think this is modern agenda driven research. It's
easy to try and discredit the deceased. This does little to diminish the
fact that Newton was without peer. Another thing about Newton that gets
little mention is his crusade against alchemy... he was a spy.
Reminds me of the recent news story about the
discovery of wireless electronics. Anyone remember Tesla? and how about the
feud he had with Edison?
August 14, 2007 reply from Roger Collins
Here is Dr. Joseph's home page ---
I wonder - is it coincidence that PhysOrg published this in the
week of the 60th anniversary of India's independence from Britain?
Bob Jensen wrote..
" Sometimes professors took credit for entire
books written by their students just as artists sometimes took credit
for the works of their students without any acknowledgements
A particularly egregious example of "credit taken"
from physics research...
The 1974 Nobel prize for physics (discovery of
pulsars) ignored the work of Jocelyn Bell, the research student who had
discovered the first radio pulsars with her thesis advisor Antony Hewish.
(Wikipedia extract) "As Hewish's graduate student,
Bell first noticed the radio source which was ultimately recognised as the
The paper announcing the discovery had five
authors, Hewish's name being listed first, Bell's second. Hewish was awarded
the Nobel Prize, along with Martin Ryle, without the inclusion of Bell as a
Fred Hoyle, who objected strongly to this state of
affairs, was subsequently denied a Nobel for Physics himself (1983 prize
went to his co-author on the paper).
I believe there are other Ig-Nobel examples
involving women researchers, tho' I can't put a name to them right now.
TRU School of Business
August 14, 2007 reply from J. S. Gangolly
The degradation of knowledge as property is of
recent import. Until recently, as I understand, even in Europe, knowledge
was considered a communal asset to be enjoyed by all.
A far cry from the present state where even
universities get into feeding frenzy whenever some one on their payroll
I am not sure Newton or Leibnitz really cared. They
were probably just thrilled that they had contributed something to culture;
specially Newton, since Britain was not really known as a fountainhead of
mathematics those days. During my undergraduate days, I used to wonder why
most mathematicians had strange sounding European names (Leibnitz,
Caratheodory, Dedekind, Poincare, Descartes, DeMoivre, Cantor, Abel, Noether,
Weierstrauss, Gauss,... I could go on and on; my list of British
mathematicians would be very short and those too just textbook writers).
Then when I was in graduate school in Calcutta,
some of the Russian mathematics books (really good and really cheap, I must
say) startled me by claiming that just about everything in mathematics was
invented by the Russians; I have the greatest respect for Russian
mathematics, but this was too much to bear, and the thought that Lenin had
something important to say about mathematics did not help either.
Later when I came to the United States, I had the
fortune of meeting a wellknown English mathematician at the University of
Pennsylvania. He gave me some lessons on the origins of Indian mathematics,
and they were stunning. It made me proud, but I never understood why he was
making those points. I did feel ashamed when I discovered his daughter spoke
fluent Sanskrit, and said grace in Sanskrit at the thanksgiving dinner in
Discovery (or interpretation, if you wish) that
something has been shown to be of non-European origin does not in any way
diminish the work of the stalwarts of European mathematics. However, it
gives us some cause for celebration, given the often abominable treatment
that mathematicians of non-European descent have received in the past
especially in the United States. May I give examples of some of my heroes?
For example, two of my African-American heroes:
David Blackwell (Princeton would not hire him; he got his PhD at an age that
nowadays he might just have been permitted to quaff beer) and A.T. Bharucha-Reid
(who proudly refused to write his dissertation at Chicago, a decision that
haunted him all his life)..
Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at
Mike Kearl's great social theory site ---
Guide to writing a research paper ---
Sociology of Knowledge ---
Science and Technology ---
Some sites to stimulate the sociological imagination ---
According to Karl Popper (Logik der Forschung,
1935: p.26), Theory is "the net which we throw out in order to catch the
world--to rationalize, explain, and dominate it." Through history,
sociological theory arose out of attempts to make sense of times of dramatic
social change. As Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills observed in Character and
Social Structure (Harbinger Books, 1964:xiii), "Problems of the nature of
human nature are raised most urgently when the life-routines of a society
are disturbed, when men are alienated from their social roles in such a way
as to open themselves up for new insight." Consider the historical contexts
spawning the theoretical insights below:
Neither the life of an individual nor the
history of a society can be understood without understanding both. Yet men
do not usually define the troubles they endure in terms of historical change
and institutional contradiction. ... The sociological imagination enables
its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its
meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of
individuals. ... The first fruit of this imagination--and the first lesson
of the social science that embodies it--is the idea that the individual can
understand his own experience and gauge his own fate only by locating
himself within this period, that he can know his own chances in life only by
becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstances. ...We have
come to know that every individual lives, from one generation to the next,
in some society; that he lives out a biography, and that he lives it out
within some historical sequence (The Sociological Imagination, 1959:3-10).
Judge a man by his questions rather than by his
answers. --Voltaire (1694-1778)
A definition is no proof. --William
Pinkney, American diplomat (1764-1822)
A theory is more impressive the greater the
simplicity of its premises, the more different the kinds of things it
relates and the more extended its range of applicability. --
Albert Einstein, 1949
Committee on Sociocybernetics (of the Intl. Sociological Association)
SocioSite: Noted Sociological Theorists and Samplings of their Works
Alan Liu's Voice of the
Shuttle: Great collection of synopses and primary works of the great
Society for Social Research Page: Classical Sociological Theory. Good
site for excerpts from the classics, courtesy of the University of
Sociology Professor, a portal of social theories and theorists
Larry Ridener's Dead Sociologists Index: Biographies of and excerpts
from those who carved the discipline
"Social Thinkers, Sociologists, and Online Texts" and
Insurgent Sociology Web Site at University of California, Riverside
Ed Stephan's "A Sociology Timeline from 1600"
Carl Cuneo's Course on Theories of Inequality
Marxism Made Simple
and Engels' Writings
Engels' The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
site from Queens College
collected by Antti Kauppinen
Mannheim Centre for European Social Research
Charles Horton Cooley's Social Organization: A Study of the Larger
Herbert Mead Repository at Brock University
All Things Simmelian--Georg Simmel Homepage
Society--mathematically modeling "strategic interaction in
competitive and cooperative environments"
Thorsten Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class
Jean Baudrillard speaks
Becker's Home Page--replete with recent papers, biographical updates
and web recommendations
Amitai Etzioni's Articles in Professional Journals and Books
"Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought" from
the University of Denver
Norbert Elias site from University of Sydney
A.A. Brill Library
An evolving site to keep an eye
on is Jim
Spickard's Social Theory Pages, with historical backgrounds and
intellectual biographies of the key players
Need a dictionary for those works
of critical theorists and postmodernists?
Try the Red Feather Dictionary of Critical Social Science
and Political Change--featuring links to theory, data and research
about large scale long term political, economic and social systems
change at the national and international level
Want to see what theories
sociologists are currently cooking up? Below is a sampling of sociological
of Sociology Home Page
Sociological Research Online
Journal of World-Systems Research
Mundane Behavior (first issue February 2000)
Review of Sociology--with 12-years of searchable abstracts
The Canadian Journal of Sociology
Tables of Contents for all issues of Postmodern Culture
Bob Jensen's threads on economics, social science, anthropology, and
philosophy tutorials are at
Human Rights ---
Bob Jensen's threads on law and legal studies
Are college students good surrogates for real life studies?
The majority of behavioral experiments in accounting have used students as
"Too Many Studies Use College Students As Their Guinea Pigs," by Carl Bialik,
The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2007; Page B1---
Many of the numbers that make news about how we
feel, think and behave are derived from studying a narrow population:
college students. It's cheap for social scientists to tap into the on-campus
research pool -- everyone from psychology majors who must participate in
studies for course credit to students who respond to posters promising a few
bucks if they sign up.
Consider just three studies that have received
press in the past month. In one, muscular men were twice as likely as their
less well-built brethren to have had more than three sex partners -- at
least according to 99 UCLA undergraduates. Another, an examination of six
separate studies that tape-recorded college students' conversations, found
that women, despite being stereotyped as relatively chatty, spoke just 3%
more words each day than men. And in the third, 40 undergraduates at
Washington University in St. Louis were 6% more likely to complete verbal
jokes and 14% more likely to complete visual jests than 41 older study
College students are "essentially free," says Brian
Nosek, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia. "We walk out of
our office, and there they are." The epitome of a convenience sample, they
have become the basis for what some critics call the "science of the
But psychologists may be getting what they pay for.
College students aren't representative by age, wealth, income, educational
level or geographic location. "What if you studied 7-year-old kids and made
inferences about geriatrics?" asks Robert Peterson, a marketing professor at
the University of Texas, Austin. "Everyone would say you can't do that. But
you can use these college students."
Prof. Peterson scoured the literature for examples
of studies that examined the same psychological relationships in students
and nonstudents. In almost half of the 63 relationships he examined, there
were major discrepancies between students and nonstudents: The two groups
either produced contradictory results, or one showed an effect at least
twice as great as the other.
In a follow-up study, not yet published, Prof.
Peterson demonstrated that even college students are far from homogeneous.
With help from faculty at 58 schools in 31 states, he surveyed undergraduate
business students across the country and found that they vary widely from
school to school. That means a professor studying the relationship between
students' attitudes toward capitalism and business ethics at one school
could reach a sharply different conclusion than a professor at another
"People have always been aware of this issue,"
Prof. Peterson says, but many have chosen to ignore it. A 1986 paper by
David Sears, a UCLA psychology professor, documented the increased use of
college students for research in the prior quarter century and explored the
potential biases that might introduce. In the meantime, the use of college
students has, if anything, risen, researchers say.
Authors of the recent studies on sex, chattiness
and humor acknowledge the limitations of their research pool. But they argue
that college students do just fine for purposes of studying basic cognitive
processes. Others agree. "If you think all people have the same attitudes as
introductory psychology students, that's really problematic," says Tony
Bogaert, a psychology professor at Brock University in St. Catharines,
Ontario. "But if you're looking at cognitive processes, intro psych students
probably work OK."
After all, every study is hampered by possible
differences between those who volunteer to participate and those who don't,
whether they're college students or a broader group.
In any case, the fault often lies not with the
researchers, who are careful not to overstate the impact of their findings,
but with the news articles suggesting the numbers apply to all humanity.
"Even if you only focus on college students, the results are still
generalizable to millions of Americans," says David Frederick, a UCLA
psychology graduate student and lead author of the study on muscularity and
Prof. Nosek, a critic of the science of the
sophomore, responds that college students are still developing their
personalities and behavior. "There is no other time outside my life as an
undergraduate where I thought it would be a good idea to wear all my clothes
inside out," he says, or to "stay up for as many hours in a row as I could
just to see what happens."
To widen the pool of people answering questions
about, say, all-nighters, Prof. Nosek has submitted a proposal to the
National Institutes of Health to fund the creation of an international,
online research panel. That would build on studies his laboratory has
already administered online at ProjectImplicit.net.
Online research has its own problems, but at least
it taps into the hundreds of millions of people who are online globally,
rather than just the hundreds of people enrolled in Psych 101.
"The scientific reward structure does not benefit
someone who puts in the enormous effort" to create a representative research
sample, Prof. Nosek says. "The way to change researchers' data habits is to
make it easier to collect data in a more generalizable way."
August 20, 2007 reply from Tracey Sutherland
Good question -- also being raised by the neuro-biology
folks with implications in legal decisions as well. Interesting analysis
(and references) in the American Bar Association article, "Adolescence,
Brain Development, and Legal Culpability", which notes:
“The evidence now is strong that the brain does
not cease to mature until the early 20s in those relevant parts that
govern impulsivity, judgment, planning for the future, foresight of
consequences, and other characteristics that make people morally
culpable…. Indeed, age 21 or 22 would be closer to the ‘biological’ age
Gur, Ruben C. Declaration of Ruben C. Gur.,
PhD, Patterson v. Texas. Petition for Writ of Certiorari to US Supreme
Court, J. Gary Hart, Counsel. (Online at:
American Accounting Association
National Taxpayers Union & National Taxpayers Union Foundation
A Case Study: Gross Domestic Product ---
Bob Jensen's threads on economics, social science, anthropology, and
philosophy tutorials are at
August 12, 2007 message from David Albrecht
I am sometimes asked for my recommendations to
college professors on books about teaching and learning. The books I
recommend all deal with the learning-centered approach, the often and only
recommended approach for professors to use in their college classrooms.
Also, my list is for the essential books, there are many others out there.
I am now adding a third, a wonderful book by Marcia Tate.
Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to
Designing College Courses (Jossey Bass Higher and Adult Education Series)
L. Dee Fink (2003)
What the Best College Teachers Do (Hardcover)
Ken Bain (2004)
"Sit and Get" Won't Grow Dendrites: 20 Professional Learning
Strategies That Engage the Adult Brain (Paperback)
Marcia L. Tate (2004)
Bowling Green State University
August 14, 2007 reply from
Henry Collier [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
David: I’ve read your comments on ACECM for some
now, and for the most part agree with many of the things you write. I
suppose that everybody who actually cares about the processes of teaching
and learning has their own ‘guide books’ … I’d prefer to establish a basic
foundation in the ‘art / science’ before I attempted any of the texts that
you recommend. I think that the guides that you offer are excellent, but are
more prescriptive. Without some base or foundation, I’m concerned that
‘teachers’ will apply ‘techniques’ without knowing either why they might
work or how they work.
With that in mind, I’d suggest the following two
texts to help build some sort of a foundation to ‘learning and cognition’.
Ben Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
William Graves Perry Jr.’s Intellectual and Ethical
Development in the College Years
Both use a ‘stage like’ theory of development …
Both are relatively old … they do have their problems as well, but do, IMO,
bring us an understanding of how things work.
I’ve recently become a fan of Jack Mezirow and his
thinking about ‘transformational learning’. I think that there’s something
there, but the application (maybe that’s a problem with both Bloom and Perry
as well) is difficult. I’m also of the view that Herrenstein and Murray’s
The Bell Curve is more than a bit useful.
I’m more of an elitist than and egalitarian. While
I’ve campaigned long and hard for equal rights and social justice in many
different areas, tertiary education is not a basic right … we need to spend
a significant part of our scarce educational resources on the brightest and
Best wishes, David … I thought that it would do
more in writing directly to you
All the best from the land down under
Updates on Science Tutorials
Assessing-to-Learn Physics: Project Website ---
The Life Cycle of a Mineral Deposit-A Teacher’s Guide for Hands-On
Mineral Education Activities ---
From the University of Wisconsin
(this is quite good actually) ---
The Brain Matters ---
Antbase.org (Biology of Ants) ---
Bob Jensen's threads on science and medicine tutorials are at
Functions Grapher ---
Famous Curves Index ---
Bob Jensen's threads on math and statistics tutorials are at
Conversations about Creativity ---
There are very few new ideas ---
Alan Russell: Why can't we grow new body parts? (18-minute video) ---
MIT's Trinity Review Innovator of the Year (2007) ---
"2007 TR35: Innovator of the Year: David Berry at Flagship Ventures is
creating genetically engineered organisms that make biofuels."
A genetically engineered microbial protein could
mean better data storage
"Rewritable Holographic Memory," by Amitabh Avasthi, MIT's
Technology Review, August 13, 2007 ---
Sociology of Knowledge ---
Some sites to stimulate the sociological imagination ---
"Course Requirement: Extortion," bu Michael Granof (Professor of
Accounting at the University of Texas), The New York Times, August 12,
By now, entering college students and their parents
have been warned: textbooks are outrageously expensive. Few textbooks for
semester-long courses retail for less than $120, and those for science and
math courses typically approach $180. Contrast this with the $20 to $30 cost
of most hardcover best sellers and other trade books.
Perhaps these students and their parents can take
comfort in knowing that the federal government empathizes with them, and in
an attempt to ease their pain Congress asked its Advisory Committee on
Student Financial Assistance to suggest a cure for the problem.
Unfortunately though, the committee has proposed a remedy that would only
worsen the problem.
The committee’s report, released in May, mainly
proposes strengthening the market for used textbooks — by encouraging
college bookstores to guarantee that they will buy back textbooks,
establishing online book swaps among students and urging faculty to avoid
switching textbooks from one semester to the next. The fatal flaw in that
proposal (and similar ones made by many State Legislatures) is that used
books are the cause of, not the cure for, high textbook prices.
Yet there is a way to lighten the load for students
in their budgets, if not their backpacks. With small modifications to the
institutional arrangements between universities, publishers and students,
textbook costs could be reduced — and these changes could be made without
Today the used-book market is exceedingly well
organized and efficient. Campus bookstores buy back not only the books that
will be used at their university the next semester but also those that will
not. Those that are no longer on their lists of required books they resell
to national wholesalers, which in turn sell them to college bookstores on
campuses where they will be required. This means that even if a text is
being adopted for the first time at a particular college, there is almost
certain to be an ample supply of used copies.
As a result, publishers have the chance to sell a
book to only one of the multiple students who eventually use it. Hence,
publishers must cover their costs and make their profit in the first
semester their books are sold — before used copies swamp the market. That’s
why the prices are so high.
As might be expected, publishers do what they can
to undermine the used-book market, principally by coming out with new
editions every three or four years. To be sure, in rapidly changing fields
like biology and physics, the new editions may be academically defensible.
But in areas like algebra and calculus, they are nothing more than a
transparent attempt to ensure premature textbook obsolescence. Publishers
also try to discourage students from buying used books by bundling the text
with extra materials like workbooks and CDs that are not reusable and
therefore cannot be passed from one student to another.
The system could be much improved if, first of all,
colleges and publishers would acknowledge that textbooks are more akin to
computer software than to trade books. A textbook’s value, like that of a
software program, is not in its physical form, but rather in its
intellectual content. Therefore, just as software companies typically “site
license” to colleges, so should textbook publishers.
Here’s how it would work: A teacher would pick a
textbook, and the college would pay a negotiated fee to the publisher based
on the number of students enrolled in the class. If there were 50 students
in the class, for example, the fee might be $15 per student, or $750 for the
semester. If the text were used for 10 semesters, the publisher would
ultimately receive a total of $150 ($15 x 10) for each student enrolled in
the course, or as much as $7,500.
In other words, the publisher would have a stream
of revenue for as long as the text was in use. Presumably, the university
would pass on this fee to the students, just as it does the cost of
laboratory supplies and computer software. But the students would pay much
less than the $900 a semester they now typically pay for textbooks.
Once the university had paid the license fee, each
student would have the option of using the text in electronic format or
paying more to purchase a hard copy through the usual channels. The
publisher could set the price of hard copies low enough to cover only its
production and distribution costs plus a small profit, because it would be
covering most of its costs and making most of its profit by way of the
license fees. The hard copies could then be resold to other students or back
to the bookstore, but that would be of little concern to the publisher.
A further benefit of this approach is that it would
not affect the way courses are taught. The same cannot be said for other
recommendations from the Congressional committee and from State
Legislatures, like placing teaching materials on electronic reserve, urging
faculty to adopt cheaper “no frills” textbooks and assigning mainly
electronic textbooks. While each of these suggestions may have merit, they
force faculty to weigh students’ academic interests against their fiscal
concerns, and encourage them to rely less on new textbooks.
Continued in article
Textbook Publishers Scrutinized By
There's an interesting
short article in today's
Higher Education about a briefing by textbook
publishers. Congressional staff members pelted company officials with questions
about the high costs of college textbooks and asserted that the publishers did
not have students' best interests in mind during a briefing on Capitol Hill on
Tuesday.But the publishers said they offer professors hundreds of books to
choose from for a specific subject, varying in cost from only $30 to upwards of
$100, and in some cases even let the professor purchase certain chapters of a
book that will not be wholly used. Data offered by both sides about the amount
students pay for textbooks varied from $644 to $900 a year. Congressional staff
members, many of whose children are college students, complained about the
frequency of new editions of text books that students have no choice but to
purchase. Publishers described new online products that they contend will be
more effective and less costly than traditional printed textbooks,
but in general, these staffers seemed cautious about the efficacy of online
The University of Illinois Issues in Scholarly Communication Blog, July 11, 2007
Bob Jensen's threads on the publisher oligopoly are at
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
What students and their parents should,
but probably don't, know about study abroad programs
Many colleges have arrangements with companies and
nonprofit groups that financially reward colleges, but not students, when
students enroll in certain study abroad programs — and many students are unaware
of these ties when they pick their study abroad programs,
The New York Times reported. The article
noted similarities between these arrangements and relationships between colleges
and student loan providers that have come under fire in the last year.
Inside Higher Ed, August 13, 2007 ---
Also see "Study Abroad Under Scrutiny," by Elizabeth
Redden, August 14, 2007 ---
Education Balance: Even Resident Students Can Benefit for Life With Some
"Latest Twist in Distance Ed," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed,
August 9, 2007 ---
American University online program
is somewhat of a hybrid. While the university marketed that
first course, about terrorism and the legal system, to all
sorts of groups in an effort to gauge outside interest, all
but two of the 27 students who took the class were its own.
Many of the students were away from Washington for the
summer, living abroad or at home
important information we’ve gathered is that our distance
learning courses are most attractive to our own students,”
Ettle said. “Students know they can use credits toward a
degree, whereas some students [outside] might be unsure how
they could use the credits.”
education continues to evolve, American’s model will likely
become more common, according to Diana Oblinger, vice
president for Educause, the nonprofit group that deals with
technology issues in higher education.
absolute sense,” Oblinger said. “Both institutions and
students are concerned about the time-to-degree. If you can
take a course while you are away and when it’s convenient,
that helps you progress toward graduation. From an
institution’s perspective, why allow your student to take
someone else’s course?”
American is offering 25 online courses, none of which are
longer than seven weeks. The condensed schedule works well
for students who are either amidst or have just finished
study abroad programs or summer jobs and want to extend
their stays away from campus while earning credits, Ettle
said. It’s also popular with students who take on
internships during the year and want to go to school in the
summer without having a full course load.
provides incentives for those who are part of the distance
learning program. Starting several summers ago, the
university began giving professors whose online course
proposals were accepted a $2,500 course development grant.
Summer teaching at American isn’t a substitute for teaching
an academic year course, and the additional compensation is
only monetary incentive to teach in the summer online.
Students receive a discounted rate on summer distance
courses, and the price hasn’t changed in four years. A
three-credit course costs $2,200, which is about 30 percent
cheaper than a graduate course and about 25 percent cheaper
than an undergraduate course, Ettle said.
other obvious cost savings: Students don’t have to pay for
campus housing, and the university frees up space for other
uses. The overhead cost of running a distance education
course is also significantly less than it is for a normal
classroom-based course, Ettle said.
utilizing our facilities more efficiently,” she said. “We
want repeat customers — it’s good for them and it’s good for
American limits students to two distance courses per summer
to prevent those who are working or studying elsewhere from
overloading their schedules. The university places no
limits, though, on the number of summers a student can take
an online course.
Oblinger said it’s becoming more common for a university to
require or strongly suggest that
its students take an online course as a way to prepare them
for how learning often takes place in the workplace.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's links to online training and education alternatives are at
How to Avoid Expensive Adobe Software for Converting MS Office Documents
to PDF Files
"Creating Documents for All to Read Inexpensive Ways To Convert a Variety Of
Content to PDFs," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, August
8, 2007; Page D9 ---
For years, people have accessed a variety of
digital content in one of the most universally accepted formats: Adobe's
Portable Document Format, better known as the PDF. A PDF holds images and
text without altering a document's original fonts and layout. It can be
searched, protected with a password, disabled from printing and enriched
with bookmarks and hyperlinks that make it more navigable.
But while Adobe provides a free reader for viewing
PDFs, creating PDFs yourself can be costly and confusing, even though the
format is great for saving and sharing documents of almost any kind
including images, Web pages, Word documents and emails. For users who want
higher-end PDF creation and collaboration software, Adobe Systems Inc.
offers its $450 Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional software program. But that's
pricey for most casual users. So this week I tested some inexpensive or free
methods for making PDFs.
There are plenty of Windows
programs available for download online that will help you create
basic PDFs. On Windows computers, I tried three programs, starting
with the $20 standard version of deskPDF from Plano, Texas-based
Docudesk Corp. (www.Docudesk.com).
I tested a stripped-down and less-expensive version of Adobe's
program called Create Adobe PDF Online, which works by uploading
your document at
and costs $10 monthly or $100 annually. And I also used a free
program called CutePDF from Acro Software Inc. (www.CutePDF.com).
If you own a Mac, things are
even simpler. Macs come out of the box with the ability to turn
documents into PDFs, and I tested that function as well.
DeskPDF and CutePDF worked
roughly the same way, though deskPDF costs $20 and CutePDF is free.
Adobe's less-expensive program offered a few more features than
deskPDF and CutePDF, such as the ability to add password encryption
to a document or to make it unprintable by others. Making PDFs on
the Mac was a cinch, including options to compress or encrypt a PDF.
None of these methods allowed me to add extra features to PDFs like
bookmarks and hyperlinks; for that, you'll need a more serious
When Microsoft's Office 2007
program shipped early this year, many people expected that it would
have the built-in ability to save documents in PDF format; it
didn't. Users can find a patch that fixes this on Microsoft's Web
Apple's operating system has
long been known for the ease with which it can create PDFs using
built-in tools. Put simply, any document that can be printed from a
Mac can also be turned into a PDF. Users follow the normal steps
necessary to print a document or Web site (usually File, Print), but
can choose a button on the Print screen labeled "PDF" that converts
In seconds, I turned all
types of documents on my iMac into PDFs, including images in JPEG
and TIF formats, emails, Word documents and Web sites. This last
conversion was helpful for saving not just a view of the current
screen, but the entire site from the top of the page to the bottom.
Options labeled "Compress
PDF" and "Encrypt PDF" can be chosen in this Print screen. I chose
Encrypt PDF and protected a PDF using a password in one quick step.
The option to compress a PDF will decrease the size of an image in a
document, but won't decrease the size of a text-only document.
Two of the three Windows
programs use a method similar to Apple's, letting me send documents
or Web sites into print mode and converting them into PDFs.
Downloading and installing deskPDF or CutePDF adds a virtual printer
driver to the computer. Rather than choosing a separate button
labeled "PDF," the conversion program is selected from a list of
printers, and hitting the Print button saves the document as a PDF
file. The first time I did this, I thought my document was printed
rather than saved because a printer icon appeared in the bottom
right-hand corner of the screen, as if the document was printing.
But a screen appeared asking where I wanted to save the new PDF, and
I specified a location.
Docudesk offers free 24-hour
technical support with all of its deskPDF programs, even trial
versions. The company also touts its $40 deskUNPDF program, which
restores PDFs to Word documents for editing purposes, one of the
features also found in Adobe's $450 product.
CutePDF writer and deskPDF
must be used with separately installed converter programs, but these
are small and free, and their installation is prompted after each of
the core programs is downloaded. Both programs are also offered in
upgraded versions that cost $50 for CutePDF Pro and $30 for deskPDF
Pro, enabling advanced features like hyperlinks, encryption,
password protection and printing restrictions.
Adobe's Create Adobe PDF
Online program offers a few more features than the others, but feels
a bit disconnected because it uploads documents to the Web for PDF
conversion rather than converting documents in an installed program.
An option called Create Adobe
PDF Online Printer installs a printer driver on your PC, like
deskPDF and CutePDF. But this saves your PDF online forcing you to
retrieve it via Adobe's Web site, an emailed link or an emailed
After registering to use
Adobe's online conversion product, users must select the file or Web
page intended for PDF conversion. Security features are optional
with each document, such as requiring a password to view it or not
allowing others to print it. I tried both successfully. Once
converted, a document can be delivered to you via email in a link or
attachment. It can also be retrieved from a Conversion History
section on the site or converted directly on the site.
Most of these conversion
programs are available in some free capacity. DeskPDF can be used
five times free of charge in the standard and professional versions
before it starts adding a watermark to each PDF, which is intrusive.
Adobe's program can be used five times for each email that you
register before you must subscribe to its conversion service.
If you need to save a
document in a format that has the greatest likelihood of being
viewable by all of your recipients, PDFs are the way to go, and they
aren't difficult to make.
Bob Jensen's threads on tools and tricks of the trade in education
technology are at
Sarbanes-Oxley Lowers Corporate Fraud Lawsuits
After five years, the Sarbanes-Oxley law has reduced
corporate fraud. It was crafted to restore investor confidence with tighter
rules for audits and forcing executives to certify financial statements. Chris
Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, talks with Renee
NPR, August 2, 2007 ---
A powerful argument for Sarbox can be made simply by
examining the performance of financial markets since the landmark act was
passed. Though Sarbox certainly can't take full credit, the U.S. stock market
(as measured by the S&P 500) has increased 67%, or about $4.2 trillion in market
value, between July 30, 2002 and June 30, 2007. Even John Thain, CEO of the New
York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and no great fan of Sarbox, concedes "There is no
question that, broadly speaking, Sarbanes-Oxley was necessary."
Thomas J. Healey, "Sarbox Was the
Right Medicine," The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2007; Page A13 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on SOX/Sarbox are at
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
The hedge funds wanted huge profits and with reduced risk (by globally
spreading out the risk)
Now they want taxpayers and the Fed to bail them out!
It's hard to shed tears for hedge fund equity investors who want high returns
Wall Street wants the Fed to ease the pain of its lending mistakes
Financial markets were roiled again yesterday, with the
Federal Reserve and other central banks stepping in to bolster liquidity in the
wake of the subprime credit seizure. Serving as lender of last resort in these
conditions is the proper function of central banks. But going further--with an
emergency rate cut, as some in the market seem to be anticipating or hoping
for--carries the risk of introducing even greater moral hazard into the
"The Bernanke Call--II," The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2007 ---
Lowering interest rates sounds like a magic bullet for the subprime bubble. Poor
home owners are more likely to meet their mortgage payments if the interest
rates go down instead of up on adjustable rate mortgages. Lenders are more
likely to be paid. And politicians go into an election year with the economy on
a high note. But lowering interest rates may also make the economy crash and
really burn big time to say nothing about soaring inflation.
"Fed Floods Bank System with Cash to Avoid Crisis," NPR, by Jim
Zarroli, August 11, 2007 ---
"Et Tu, Paribas?" The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2007; Page A10
The dead bodies keep floating to the surface in the
subprime credit market contagion, yesterday hitting France's largest bank,
BNP Paribas, and sending global equities into a swoon. The question going
forward is whether the world's regulators and central bankers know how to
contain this incipient financial panic.
The European Central Bank took a sensible step
yesterday, pumping €94 billion of short-term liquidity into the system. This
lender of last resort role is appropriate for a central bank when credit
markets seize up, as they did yesterday after BNP Paribas froze three of its
asset-backed securities funds. Several other European banks have also
reported losses from the subprime debt market, and amid so much uncertainty
a surprise like the one at Paribas can all too easily trigger a full-fledged
global run. Mr. Trichet's job is to restore trust and confidence, which he
did well yesterday.
What's becoming clearer by the day is that we're
watching the unraveling of a global real estate financing bubble. The U.S.
subprime market is the heart of the problem, but financial innovation has
spread the risk around the world in a way that wasn't possible a generation
ago. Long-term assets -- real estate -- have been financed by hedge funds
with short-term debt instruments, and the amount of the debt now exceeds the
value of the collateral in these subprime investments. Somebody is going to
have to swallow the difference, and the challenge for regulators in both the
U.S. and Europe is to assist this debt workout while protecting an otherwise
healthy global economy.
Part of that regulatory challenge is understanding
where the biggest problems still are, and cauterizing the wounds. That
shouldn't be construed as an invitation to bailouts; quite the opposite.
(See Gerald O'Driscoll's argument on the opposite page.) Amid the asset
boom, many even conservative institutions began to take surprising risks.
Everyone wanted to be a hedge fund manager and play in such instruments as
high-risk asset-backed securities. In announcing the launch of two of the
now-frozen funds back in 2005, BNP Paribas Asset Management said in a press
release that asset-backed securities "have lost their exotic status and
entered the mainstream of fixed income investing."
They've also now entered the history books as
non-exotic losses. One question is who is going to suffer the consequences.
In suspending, even if "temporarily," redemptions from funds that bear its
prestigious name, BNP Paribas was saying it doesn't want to subsidize the
losses in its subprime funds from elsewhere in the bank. But imagine the
outcry if Paribas had prevented its retail customers from withdrawing their
savings. (Paribas shares did sink 3.4% after its announcement yesterday,
while dragging most of the European banking sector down with it.)
That kind of decision only promotes financial
contagion by encouraging a run on other hedge funds before they close their
redemption windows. The market already suspected Europe was more vulnerable
to the subprime shakeout than was visible to the naked eye. Perhaps the
French regulator and Banque de France chief, Christian Noyer, might quiz BNP
CEO Baudouin Prot about the bank's policy of keeping its promises.
Only last week, when presenting second-quarter
results, Mr. Prot claimed that BNP had little exposure to the subprime
mortgage market. "It was a deliberate choice" to stay clear, Mr. Prot said.
"For many years, we didn't get the revenue, now we don't get the problems."
Well, now he's found a way of spreading the problems around. At least Bear
Stearns parted with its co-president Warren Spector on the weekend after two
of its mortgage funds collapsed.
The larger point here is that the losses should be
absorbed by the hedge fund promoters as well as by the investors. That means
by the equity holders in Paribas, Bear Stearns or any of the other big and
supposedly safe financial institutions that decided to play in the subprime
casino. As Mr. O'Driscoll notes, one of the root causes of the current mess
is that bankers concluded they would always be rescued by the Federal
Reserve. On that score, Germany's Bundesbank sent the wrong message
yesterday by hosting a meeting with the country's finance minister, private
banks and state bank KfW to stitch together a €3.5 billion rescue package
for IKB Deutsche Industriebank. That small company lender said last week it
had run up huge losses in the U.S. subprime market.
The subprime mess needn't derail the global
economy, and it is less likely to do so if Paribas and the other hedge fund
operators meet their obligations. Having some of these financial firms
swallow the losses for running lousy funds may teach everyone a few salutary
lessons about risk.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is No Hero in the Subprime Bubble
"Our Subprime Fed," by Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr. The Wall Street Journal,
August 10, 2007; Page A11 ---
The crisis was foreseen --
for more than a year before the bust, bankers, analysts, and even
regulators knew they had a mess in the making. And once the mess
became clear, it wasn't hard to see what was wrong. Lending
practices in the subprime market were "shoddy and absurd," said John
Makin of the American Enterprise Institute in March of this year.
Lewis Ranieri, former chairman of Salomon Brothers, echoed those
comments in this newspaper when he observed: "We're not really sure
what the guy's income is and . . . we're not sure what the house is
worth. So you can understand why some of us become a little
nervous." Mr. Ranieri helped pioneer the bundling of mortgages into
marketable securities ("securitization"), so he should know!
The collapse of the subprime
mortgage market is the latest in a series of financial bubbles whose
existence reflects, at least in part, moral hazard in financial
markets. At one time, deposit insurance was a major culprit. For
example, in an October 2002 speech to economists in New York, then
Fed Governor Ben Bernanke described the savings and loans crisis of
the 1980s as "a situation . . . in which institutions can directly
or indirectly take speculative positions using funds protected by
the deposit insurance safety net -- the classic 'heads I win, tails
you lose' situation." After an intellectual and political battle of
more than a decade, the deposit insurance loophole was sealed.
Today, monetary policy is
fostering moral hazard. Monetary policy can generate moral hazard if
it is conducted so as to bail investors out of risky and otherwise
ill-advised financial commitments. If investors come to expect that
the policy will persist, then they will deliberately take on
additional risk without demanding commensurately higher returns. In
effect, they will lend at the risk-free interest rate on risky
projects, or at least at a lower rate than would otherwise be the
case. Too much risky lending and investment will take place, and
capital will be misallocated.
The new moral hazard in
financial markets has its source in what can be best described as
the Greenspan Doctrine. The doctrine was clearly enunciated by Alan
Greenspan in his December 19, 2002 speech. Mr. Greenspan argued that
asset bubbles cannot be detected and monetary policy ought not to in
any case be used to offset them. The collapse of bubbles can be
detected, however, and monetary policy ought to be used to offset
Two months earlier, Mr.
Bernanke endorsed the Greenspan Doctrine, arguing against the use of
monetary policy to prevent asset bubbles: "First, the Fed cannot
reliably identify bubbles in asset prices. Second, even if it could
identify bubbles, monetary policy is far too blunt a tool for
effective use against them." Since Mr. Bernanke is now Fed chairman,
it is reasonable for market participants to assume that the
Greenspan Doctrine still governs current Fed policy.
The two men were surely
asking and answering the wrong question. They were implicitly
treating bubbles as solely the consequences of real shocks or
disturbances. (An example of a real shock is a technological
innovation leading to productivity gains and higher future expected
profits in a sector.) They asked whether monetary policy should be
used to offset the effects of real shocks, and concluded that it
should not. The latter is the correct answer to the question they
A different question would be
to ask whether monetary policy should be conducted so as to create
or exacerbate asset bubbles. The answer to that question is surely
"no." Consider Mr. Bernanke's apt characterization of moral hazard
in the context of the deposit insurance crisis: "When this moral
hazard is present, credit flows rapidly into inelastically supplied
assets, such as real estate. Rapid appreciation is the result, until
the inevitable albeit belated regulatory crackdown stops the flow of
credit and leads to an asset-price crash."
He could have been talking
about the subprime mortgage market. The Fed pre-announced that it
will take no action against bubbles, but will act aggressively to
offset the consequences of their collapse. In effect, the central
bank is promising at least a partial bailout of bad investments. The
logic of the old deposit insurance system is at work: Policymakers
should protect investors against losses, no matter their folly. Or,
in Mr. Greenspan's own words: Monetary policy should "mitigate the
fallout [of an asset bubble] when it occurs and, hopefully, ease the
transition to the next expansion."
In the present context, the
"next expansion" could also be rendered as "the next asset bubble."
If the Fed promises to "mitigate the fallout" from
"irrational exuberance," then it is rational for investors to be
exuberant. Investors may be at risk for some loss, as with a
deductible on a conventional insurance policy, but losses are still
The Bernanke Fed has confused
matters for investors by not yet cutting interest rates in the face
of the recent crisis. There are two possible (not mutually
exclusive) reasons for its not doing so. First, it may not view the
current crisis as serious enough. Second, current price inflation is
above its comfort zone, and the Fed may feel it has no room to
maneuver. Time will only tell which is at work.
The Fed cut the Fed Funds
rate sharply after the bursting of the stock market bubble in March
2000. In the eyes of many, the Fed cut rates too far and held them
down too long, fueling not only a vigorous economic expansion but
also the housing bubble. In his December 2002 speech, Mr. Greenspan
was at pains to deflect any argument that the Fed was inflating a
housing bubble. "To be sure," he acknowledged, mortgage debt was
high relative to household income (remember the date) by historical
norms. But "low interest rates" were keeping the servicing
requirements of the mortgage debt manageable (emphasis added).
"Moreover, owing to continued large gains in residential real estate
values, equity in homes has continued to rise despite very large
How wrong the Fed chairman
was! If Mr. Greenspan was not worried about interest rates
resetting, however, why should mortgage bankers and homeowners
worry? It would have been reasonable to read into the chairman's
musings an implicit guarantee of continued low rates. A homeowner is
certainly entitled to bet his home on the come if he wants. Should
the central bank encourage such behavior, however?
A monetary policy of
substantial stimulus will have a number of real consequences,
including asset bubbles. These asset bubbles have real costs and
involve misallocations of capital. For example, by the peak of the
tech and telecom boom in March 2000, too much capital had been
invested in high-tech companies and too little in "old economy
firms." Too much fiber-optic cable was laid and too few miles of
railroad track were laid.
By 2002, worried about the
possibility of price deflation, the Fed introduced a strong
anti-deflationary bias. A tilt to stimulus was understandable at the
time. A continued bias against deflation at any cost, however, will
produce a continued bias upward in price inflation. With the
bursting of each asset bubble and the fear of deflationary pressure,
Fed policy must ease. The Greenspan Doctrine prescribes a
stimulative overkill that begins the cycle anew. The Greenspan-era
gains against inflation will then prove to be only temporary. His
doctrine will be the death of his legacy, a legacy that already
includes a housing bubble and its aftermath.
Mr. O'Driscoll, a former vice president with
the Dallas Fed and a former director of policy analysis at
Citigroup, is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
There appears to be a "good old boy" network of public pension fund
"consultants." What is sad is how they can exploit a relatively high level
appointment (like being on the Advisory Board of the PCOAB)
August 10, 2007 message from Bill Davis
Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at
You're familiar with the Dow Industrial and the S&P Indices? What's the new
Expanding its widely followed suite of investable real estate indices, Standard
& Poor's announced today the launch of the S&P/GRA Commercial Real Estate
Indices (SPCREX). The indices measure the change in commercial real estate
prices by property sector and geographic region, and are designed to be a
reliable and consistent benchmark for commercial real estate prices in the
"S&P Launches U.S. Commercial Real Estate Indices Developed with Schwab: Only
Index Provider to Offer Both Commercial & Residential Real Estate Indices in the
U.S.," CNN Money, August 10, 2007 ---
Free online real estate appraisal sites (
Do you suppose there will ever be sonic accounting, golf, calculus, economics,
With every swing, the club transmitted a noise that
sounded like the flourish of a pipe organ. A computer recorded data from each
swing in colorful arcs as Grober sent balls clacking around his laboratory and
echoing through the building’s halls ... Fifteen years after Grober, 44, first
put an electronic sensor into a club to study the golf swing, his scientific
journey has produced a company, Sonic Golf, and a technology that he says can
help professionals and amateurs in the complex, frustrating game of golf.
Damon Hack, "Professor Puts Swing’s Rhythm to Music," The New York Times,
August 6, 2007 ---
Sonic Golf ---
Bob Jensen's threads on edutainment and learning games are at
Thanks to improved outreach efforts, engineering and technology
universities are seeing a boost in female enrollments nearly across the board
has grown about
declining enrollments of men generally
in higher education, engineering colleges
and technology institutes have the opposite problem: not enough
women. But more than two years after Larry Summers thrust the
controversy over women in the sciences into the spotlight, a
number of technologically oriented colleges have posted
significant gains in women’s enrollment that admissions officers
are attributing in part to beefed-up outreach efforts.
Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, August 7, 2007 ---
Say what? Urban women making more than men at an
A recent analysis of census data by Dr. Andrew
Beveridge shows that median wages for women have surged ahead of those for men
in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Beveridge talks with Lynn Neary.
"Study: Women in Big Cities Bridging Income Gap," NPR, August 5, 2007 ---
Deloitte to Pay an
Added $167.5M in Adelphia Case
Officials at the trust formed after Adelphia went bankrupt claim the settlement
with Deloitte & Touche is among the largest between a public accounting firm and
Sarah Johnson, CFO.com August 06, 2007
A Deloitte spokesman confirmed to CFO.com that the
accounting firm has settled the case but believes it would have prevailed
had the case continued. "As part of the settlement, Deloitte & Touche denies
any wrongdoing," the firm said in a prepared statement, adding that Deloitte
"believes ... that it was in the best interests of the firm and its clients
to settle this action rather than to continue to face the burden, expense,
and uncertainty of further litigation."
Deloitte served as Adelphi's audit firm from the
mid-1980s to May 14, 2002, when Deloitte suspended its work on the audit for
the year ended December 31, 2001, saying Adelphia's books and records had
The Rigases were convicted in 2004 on several
counts, including securities fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit
bank fraud at what had been the fifth-largest cable company before its
collapse. Prosecutors claimed that the two executives hid nearly $2.3
billion in Adelphia debt from stockholders to mask the company's unhealthy
Starting Monday, Timothy Rigas will serve 20 years
in prison, and his father will serve 15. In an interview with USA Today
published over the weekend, 82-year-old John Rigas said fraud did not occur
at Adelphia. He went on to say the government's case against him was based
on the business environment at the time, amid other corporate scandals like
Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco. "It was a case of being in the wrong place at the
wrong time," Rigas said. "If this had happened a year before, there wouldn't
have been any headlines."
More than two years ago, Deloitte settled charges
with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which claimed the accounting
firm had "failed to detect a massive fraud perpetrated by Adelphia and
certain members of the Rigas family" in its fiscal 2000 audit. Deloitte paid
$50 million to settle the case.
the largest fine ever imposed on an auditing firm
Deloitte & Touche LLP incurred the
wrath of federal regulators Tuesday over public statements that
appeared to shift the blame away from the auditing firm for failed
audits of Adelphia Communications Corp. and Just for Feet Inc.
Deborah Harrington, a Deloitte spokeswoman, said regulators
requested that the firm revise the first press release it put out.
The second release omitted some disputed statements. Deloitte, the
U.S. accounting branch of Big Four accounting firm Deloitte Touche
Tohmatsu, Tuesday agreed to pay $50 million to settle charges by the
Securities and Exchange Commission that it failed to detect fraud at
Adelphia. It was the largest fine ever imposed on an auditing firm.
"SEC Rebukes Deloitte on Adelphia Audit Spin," SmartPros,
April 28, 2005 ---
From The Wall Street Journal
Accounting Weekly Review on April 29, 2005
TITLE: Deloitte to Be Latest to
Settle in Accounting Scandals
REPORTER: Diya Gullapalli
DATE: Apr 26, 2005
TOPICS: Auditing, Fraudulent Financial Reporting, Securities and
SUMMARY: Deloitte & Touche LLP
agreed to pay a $50 million fine to settle SEC civil charges related
to fraud at Adelphia Communications Corp. One related article
discusses Adelphia's fine. A second related article discusses a
negative reaction by the SEC to Deloitte's statement about Adelphia
executives "deliberately misleading" their auditors in its public
disclosure about payment of the fine.
1.) The author describes the fine of $50 million paid by Deloitte &
Touche as resulting from failure to "prevent massive fraud" as cable
company Adelphia Communications Corp. What is the purpose of a
financial statement audit? Can an audit "prevent" fraudulent
financial reporting? In your answer, define the phrase "fraudulent
2.) Refer to the first related
article. Of what failure did the SEC accuse Deloitte & Touche?
3.) Given your answers to #'s 1 and
2 above, how can auditors serve as gatekeepers in a line of defense
4.) Refer to the second related
article. What steps did the SEC require Deloitte to undertake in
relation to its fine regarding Adelphia audits?
5.) Why was the SEC concerned about
Deloitte & Touche's characterization of the reason for the failure
of the Adelphia audit to detect fraudulent financial reporting? In
your answer, comment on the intent of the agreement associated with
the payment of the $50 million fine.
Reviewed By: Judy Beckman,
University of Rhode Island
--- RELATED ARTICLES ---
TITLE: Adelphia to Pay $715 Million in 3-Way Settlement
REPORTER: Peter Grant and Deborah Solomon
PAGE: A3 ISSUE: Apr 26, 2005
TITLE: Deloitte Statement About
Adelphia Raises SEC's Ire
REPORTER: Deborah Solomon
PAGE: C3 ISSUE: Apr 27, 2005
Adelphia Communications Corp. agreed to a $715 million settlement
Adelphia Communications Corp. agreed to a $715 million
settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange
Commission to resolve claims stemming from the corporate looting and
accounting-fraud scandal that toppled the country's fifth-largest
Peter Grant and Deborah Solomon," "Adelphia to Pay $715 Million In 3-Way
Settlement," The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2005, Page A3 ---
Regas Father and Son in Club Fed at Last
In June, U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand rescinded the
order allowing them to remain free, giving the father and son until Aug. 13 to
report to prison. John Rigas, 82, was sentenced to 15 years and Timothy Rigas,
51, to 20 years for their role in the collapse of one of the nation's largest
cable television companies (Adelphia). The pair had asked that they be allowed
to serve their time together at a facility close to their homes in Coudersport,
Pa. Instead, the federal Bureau of Prisons sent them to the Butner Federal
Correctional Complex, located about 45 minutes northwest of Raleigh.
Martha Waggoner, "Adelphia's Rigases Report to Prison," Forbes, August
13, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on Deloitte are at
International Gateway for Gifted Youth
The University of Warwick, in Britain, has announced the creation of the
International Gateway for Gifted Youth, to be known
by the acronym IGGY. The program will be open to 11-19 year olds around the
world, identified by grades and other measures as being in the to 5 percent of
all students. IGGY will create online forums to link these students together,
while also creating places for the students to meet in person, starting with a
gathering in Britain and one in an Asian country yet to be selected. Other
universities and nonprofit groups, from numerous countries. are expected to be
involved in the effort over time.
Inside Higher Ed, August 7, 2007 ---
Is Language Innate or Learned?
and Stanford University researchers have
designed a novel computer program that,
through listening to samples of speech, was
able to identify different categories of
sounds without any human guidance. These
findings shed light on how human infants
learn language. "In the past, there has been
a strong tendency to think that language is
very special and that the mechanisms
involved are predetermined by evolutionary
constraints, and are not very general," says
neuroscientist at Stanford University who
worked on the project. "What we are saying
is, Look, we can use a very general approach
and do quite well learning aspects of
Brittany Sauser, MIT's Technology Review,
August 2, 2007 ---
Is your academic association negotiating a good deal for conference hotel rooms
and airline fares?
"No, No, NACUBO," by Wick Sloane, Inside Higher Ed, August 6, 2007 ---
My name is
Wick, and I have been a NACUBO member.
National Association of College and University Business
Officers last week nailed at least $4 million to the fall
tuition bills going out to strapped families and students
this month. NACUBO gathered more than 1,000 higher education
business officers and 200-plus vendors at a Mardi Gras in
New Orleans.... I mean, an annual meeting, “Crossroads: New
Beginnings Built on Valued Traditions.” Those traditions
being, for example, free food, an umbrella from Microsoft in
the registration bag and a golf tournament with the Beverage
Cart sponsored by
One, a cash-card company, I think.
. . .
negotiate premiums as high as 58 percent for hotel rooms in New Orleans? I
was looking up prices on Web hotel sites, and I scrolled down to the
featured hotels on the NACUBO pages. I thought I’d made a mistake – NACUBO
prices were higher. How hard can negotiating a deal be in Katrina-ravaged
New Orleans? Take a look.
W New Orleans
. . .
I have yet to
meet anyone who accepts accountability for the ever-rising
costs of a higher education. As a society, we’ve never known
more about the mind and learning and cognitive science. New
knowledge and great need in other fields breed innovation.
How about a better way to deliver an education? The
four-year bachelor’s degree, the big cost driver in higher
education, is a construct from the University of Bologna in
the 1400s. The pedagogical constraint was the virtual
absence of books. Education required gathering students in a
room and the professor reading the book to them. I pitched
this idea many times to NACUBO chiefs. Not the answer, but
let’s tackle the question. No luck, and costs keep rising,
and back interest on student loans compounds.
Continued in article
Years ago, a well known academic Association in which I'm a member negotiated
airline fares (to a conference in Hawaii) from a Florida travel agency that were
much higher than fares available directly from the designated airline (Delta)
without going through the Association's "special fare" travel agent. Complaints
from the membership subsequently led to various happenings including the
dropping of that travel agency used for years by the Association.
Bob Jensen's threads about accountability and conflicts of interest in
higher education are at
Bob Jensen's threads about conference rip-offs are at
When should professors add practitioners to their courses?
"Mixing Theory and Practice on Defense Policy," by Andy Guess, Inside
Higher Ed, August 8, 2007 ---
In a class about United Nations regulations on the
laws of war, the discussion turned inevitably to Star Trek.
When the U.N. authorizes sanctions against a
particular nation, said Ilan Berman, the professor, the institution acts
much like the Borg — in the show’s universe, a mechanized force of cyborg
mercenaries bent on assimilating all of mankind. The analogy was lost on
most of the class, but Berman drove the point home for those who didn’t
regularly tune in to syndicated science fiction programs in the early 1990s:
Each member nation must act as part of the collective.
The lecture, peppered as it was with the occasional
pop culture reference, covered a lot of ground, from the U.S. national
security strategy to the justifications for nations’ use of force. The
students in the class — five were present on a Monday night in July for the
elective — come from a range of backgrounds, several of them working
full-time, but all in the program with an eye toward defense policy, whether
in the government, consulting or think tanks.
In Washington, those are hardly unorthodox goals.
Programs in defense or security studies churn out students every year in the
nation’s capital, from well-known and respected institutions such as Johns
Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and Georgetown
University’s School of Foreign Service, and also outside the Beltway at
places like Harvard (Kennedy) and Princeton (Wilson). The students in
Berman’s class, tucked in a conference room on the seventh floor of a
corporate office building in Fairfax, Va., are part of a relatively new
experiment: What if a state school in Springfield, Mo., operated a satellite
campus alongside the established players in defense studies?
So far, enrollments have been growing each year
since the unit opened shop in 2005 within commuting distance from the city,
sandwiched between a rapidly developing apartment complex and an office
park. The Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, a part of Missouri
State University, caters to students who want to break into Beltway defense
circles with a public university price tag and the advantages of a more
practical approach. In doing so, it offers a two-year M.S. degree that
requires both coursework and internships.
Having access to actual practitioners in the
classroom means, in this case, connections to defense and foreign policy
officials in the government. As with others like it, the program has had a
long revolving-doors tradition, starting from its original incarnation in
the early 1970s at the University of Southern California, where it was
founded by a former defense official who served on the SALT I delegation,
William R. Van Cleave, and partially funded by the free-market Earhart
Foundation. But unlike at similar departments elsewhere, Missouri State’s
full-time faculty of three and its nine affiliated lecturers tend to come
mainly from positions in Republican administrations and conservative-leaning
Continued in article
Some years back Professor Sharon Lightner (UC at San Diego) put together a
really interesting online course for students, practitioners, and accounting
standard setters in six different countries where the classes met synchronously.
"An Innovative Online International Accounting Course on Six Campuses Around the
Where do your tax payments annually stand relative to your mortgage, health
insurance, and automobile payments and automobile expenses?
A typical family pays substantially more to the government than its combined
mortgage, automobile and health insurance expenses. And most presidential
candidates wants the government to take a whole lot more to pay for either
universal health care coverage or drastic increases in coverage for persons age
25 and younger.
"The Two-Income Tax Trap," by Todd J. Zywicki, The Wall Street Journal,
August 14, 2007; Page A17 ---
The argument is developed in the book, "The Two
Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke," by
Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Tyagi.
In fact, using their own numbers, it is evident that they have overlooked
the most important contributor to the purported household budget crunch --
Ms. Warren and Ms. Tyagi compare two middle-class
families: an average family in the 1970s versus the 2000s (all dollar values
are inflation-adjusted). The typical 1970s family is headed by a working
father and a stay-at-home mother with two children. The father's income is
$38,700, out of which came $5,310 in mortgage payments, $5,140 a year on car
expenses, $1,030 on health insurance, and income taxes "which claim 24% of
[the father's] income," leaving $17,834, or about $1,500 per month in
"discretionary income" for all other expenses, such as food, clothing,
utilities and savings.
The typical 2000s family has two working parents
and a higher income of $67,800, an increase of 75% over the 1970s family.
But their expenses have also risen: The mortgage payment increases to
$9,000, the additional car raises the family obligation to $8,000, and more
expensive health insurance premiums cost $1,650. A new expense of full-time
daycare so the mother can work is estimated at $9,670. Mother's income bumps
the family into a higher tax bracket, so that "the government takes 33% of
the family's money." In the end, despite the dramatic increase in family
income, the family is left with $17,045 in "discretionary income," less than
the earlier generation.
The authors present no explanation for why they
present only the tax data in their two examples as percentages instead of
dollars. Nor do they ever present the actual dollar value for taxes anywhere
in the book. So to conduct an "apples to apples" comparison of all expenses,
I converted the tax obligations in the example from percentages to actual
In fact, for the typical 1970s family, paying 24%
of its income in taxes works out to be $9,288. And for the 2000s family,
paying 33% of its income is $22,374.
Although income only rose 75%, and expenditures for
the mortgage, car and health insurance rose by even less than that, the tax
bill increased by $13,086 -- a whopping 140% increase. The percentage of
family income dedicated to health insurance, mortgage and automobiles
actually declined between the two periods.
During this period, the figures used by Ms. Warren
and Ms. Tyagi indicate that annual mortgage obligations increased by $3,690,
automobile obligations by $2,860 and health insurance payments by $620 (a
total increase of $7,170). Those increases are not trivial -- but they are
swamped by the increase in tax obligations. To put this in perspective, the
increase in tax obligations is over three times as large as the increase in
the mortgage payments and almost double the increase in the mortgage and
automobile payments combined. Even the new expenditure on child care is
about a quarter less than the increase in taxes.
Overall, the typical family in the 2000s pays
substantially more in taxes than the combined expenses of their mortgage,
automobile and health insurance. And the change in the tax obligation
between the two periods is substantially greater than the change in
mortgage, automobile expenses and health-insurance costs combined.
This suggests that the most important change in the
balance sheets of middle-class households over the past three decades is a
dramatically higher tax burden caused by the progressive nature of the
American tax system. In turn it follows that the most effective way of
alleviating the household budget crunch would be to adopt lower and flatter
tax rates that would reduce the government's take. Another possibility,
advocated by Prof. Edward J. McCaffery of the University of Southern
California Law School, would eliminate the "secondary earner bias" in the
tax system, which causes all of the wife's income to effectively be taxed at
a much higher marginal tax rate than the husband's. Any of these reforms
Lower and flatter marginal tax rates generally are
not advocated by those who dominate the American legal academy today. But
for those who want to consider serious strategies for preventing
bankruptcies, less money in Uncle Sam's pockets may mean more money in ours.
Mr. Zywicki is a professor of law at George Mason University and
author of a book on consumer bankruptcy and consumer lending, forthcoming
from Yale University Press.
Why does the media almost always take a pessimistic view of the state of the
Can economists really predict better than a random sample of the public?
"Fair but Unbalanced: How the media promote false pessimism about the
economy," by Brian S. Wesbury, The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2007
For example, the most recent Wall Street Journal
economic forecasting survey, from July, shows that 49 out of 60 forecasters
expect real GDP to grow at an average annual rate of 2%, or faster, in 2007.
Of the remaining 11 forecasters, only two expect growth of less than 1%, and
only one expects a recession. For 2008, the forecasters are even more
optimistic, with none expecting recession. There are at least a half-dozen
other institutions publishing surveys, and all of them report very similar
results among the 100 or so active professional forecasters. Except for two
well-known economists (Nouriel Roubini at New York University, and Gary
Shilling of A. Gary Shilling & Co.), who are not in many surveys, a
super-duper majority of professional forecasting economists believe the
economy will continue to expand during the next year and have believed so
for the past four or five years.
Despite this, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll
taken in late July found that 68% of Americans thought that the economy
either was in recession already, or would experience a recession sometime
during the next 12 months. Interestingly, this is not much of a change from
the past. This same survey question has been polled at least five times
since September 2002. Each time a robust majority of between 65% and 85% of
respondents thought a recession either was under way or would occur within
the year. Americans have been bearish on the economy for quite some time.
In short, over the past five years, forecasting
economists from academia, consulting shops, financial services and industry
have a perfect 5-0 record against a random sample of American citizens. It's
important to understand that economists are not always right. Some even say
that economists were put on earth to make weathermen look good.
In fact, some suggest that the experts don't know
what they are talking about. They say that economists make the mistake of
looking at aggregate data, for GDP or overall income, which hides serious
dislocations for the middle class and those with lower incomes. Those who
argue this point believe that unfair foreign competition and unfair
distribution of income are leaving many Americans behind.
But this is hard to believe. The economy moderated
last year, but the unemployment rate is still just 4.6%, almost a full
percentage point below its 20-year average of 5.5%. Since the jobless rate
first fell below 5% in December 2005, average hourly earnings have expanded
at a 4.1% annualized rate--as good as any year during the late 1990s. And
recent research shows that incomes for the bottom fifth of wage earners have
risen faster in the past few decades than incomes at the top, hard work is
being rewarded more by performance pay, and income volatility is no worse
today than it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
Stranger still is a July poll by the American
Research Group (ARG) in which 68% of respondents rated their own personal
financial situation as "good, very good or excellent." This is a huge
improvement from March 2003, when another ARG poll found only 46% of
Americans were either "hopeful or happy" about their personal financial
situation, while 46% were "worried or angry."
This begs the question: If the actual economic
data, the views of professional economists and the self-proclaimed personal
financial situation of a majority of Americans have improved this much, why
are people so worried about the economy? Why do people assume they are the
exception rather than the rule?
One answer is that people gather knowledge about
the rest of the economy, the part they cannot see, from watching news. As a
result, it could be that the format behind most business journalism skews
perceptions and creates pessimism. To be very clear, I am not arguing that
business news is purposefully biased. But what seems clear is that in the
name of producing an entertaining product, and in an attempt to provide
contrasting views, the true consensus of experts is rarely reported.
A randomly selected pairing of economists from The
Wall Street Journal forecasting panel would pit two rather optimistic
forecasters against each other in debate. But having two economists debate
about whether GDP will grow 2.1% this year or 2.4% is downright boring. As a
result, the producers of business news spice things up. They arrange for
debates between a bullish economist and a bearish economist. And since they
can't have Messrs. Roubini and Shilling on every hour of every day, they
find equity short-sellers who make a living when things turn down, or
political economists who are trying to score points.
While this is entertaining, and may bring in
eyeballs, which sell commercials, this idea of "fair and balanced" debates
leaves an impression that the experts are split 50/50, when in reality it's
more like 80/20, or 90/10. After all, the economy is closing in on six
straight years of growth and the stock market is up more than 80% since its
bottom in October 2002. It is true that the number of shares sold short on
the Nasdaq rose to a record of 9.3 billion last week, but this only equals
the number of shares that change hands on the Nasdaq (on average) every 4.9
days. There are way more bulls than bears. It's not a 50/50 world.
Continued in article
"The Incapacitating Flashlight An LED flashlight makes culprits vomit,"
by Prachi Patel-Predd, MIT's Technology Review, August 6, 2007 ---
Soon cops' flashlights might not only temporarily
blind bad guys: they might also stop them in their tracks by disorienting
them and making them nauseatingly sick. When suspects turn away or reel,
cops or border-security agents can nab and handcuff them.
The flashlight, which is being developed for the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), uses a range finder to measure the
distance to the target's eyes so that it can adjust the energy of the light
to a level that won't cause permanent damage. Then it rapidly shoots out
pulses of light from an array of ultrabright light emitting diodes (LEDs).
The flashes incapacitate a person in two different
ways, says Robert Lieberman, CEO of Intelligent Optical Systems, based in
Torrance, CA, which is making the device. The flashes temporarily blind a
person, as any bright light would, and the light pulses, which quickly
change both in color and duration, also cause what Lieberman calls
psychophysical effects. These effects, whose effectiveness depends on the
person, range from disorientation to vertigo to nausea, and they wear off in
a few minutes.
It's not clear why the changing light pulses cause
this effect, even though the effect has been well documented, Lieberman
says. Helicopter pilots, for example, have been known to crash because they
get disoriented by the choppy flashes of sunlight coming through the
chopper's spinning blades.
Continued in article
What happens now that two huge galaxies are seen colliding with one another?
"Spitzer Spies Monster Galaxy Pileup," PhysOrg, August 6, 2007 ---
The clashing galaxies, spotted by NASA's Spitzer
Space Telescope, will eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to
10 times as massive as our own Milky Way. This rare sighting provides an
unprecedented look at how the most massive galaxies in the universe form.
"Most of the galaxy mergers we already knew about
are like compact cars crashing together," said Kenneth Rines of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. "What we have
here is like four sand trucks smashing together, flinging sand everywhere."
Rines is lead author of a new paper accepted for publication in
Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Collisions, or mergers, between galaxies are common
in the universe. Gravity causes some galaxies that are close together to
tangle and ultimately unite over a period of millions of years. Though stars
in merging galaxies are tossed around like sand, they have a lot of space
between them and survive the ride. Our Milky Way galaxy will team up with
the Andromeda galaxy in five billion years.
Mergers between one big galaxy and several small
ones, called minor mergers, are well documented. For example, one of the
most elaborate known minor mergers is taking place in the Spiderweb galaxy –
a massive galaxy that is catching dozens of small ones in its "web" of
gravity. Astronomers have also witnessed "major" mergers among pairs of
galaxies that are similar in size. But no major mergers between multiple
hefty galaxies – the big rigs of the galaxy world – have been seen until
The new quadruple merger was discovered
serendipitously during a Spitzer survey of a distant cluster of galaxies,
called CL0958+4702, located nearly five billion light-years away. The
infrared telescope first spotted an unusually large fan-shaped plume of
light coming out of a gathering of four blob-shaped, or elliptical,
galaxies. Three of the galaxies are about the size of the Milky Way, while
the fourth is three times as big.
Further analysis of the plume revealed it is made
up of billions of older stars flung out and abandoned in an ongoing clash.
About half of the stars in the plume will later fall back into the galaxies.
"When this merger is complete, this will be one of the biggest galaxies in
the universe," said Rines.
Continued in article
From the Scout Report on August 10, 2007
There are many web browsers out there, but
SlimBrowser 4.10 has some defining features that warrant a look. This latest
version has the ability to render RSS feeds into readable web pages and
visitors can also customize the appearance of the browser with over 100
unique skins. Additionally, this version also includes online translation
capabilities and a form filler.
SlimBrowser 4.10 is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and
VLC Media Player 0.8.6c ---
Some media players play just a few formats, but VLC
Media Player 0.8.6c an handle just about any format. The player supports
more common formats (such as mp3’s and DivX) and a number of less common
media formats. Some users will also find VLC’s ability to function as a
streaming media server to be tremendously useful. This version is compatible
with computers running Windows 95 and above or Mac OS X and above.
From The Washington Post on August 7, 2007
The founder of which site plans to create a
search service to compete with Google and Yahoo?
From The Washington Post on August 9, 2007
What percent of American adults say they
have sent text messages while driving?
Updates from WebMD ---
Alan Russell: Why can't we grow new body parts? (18-minute video) ---
Draining away brain's toxic protein to stop Alzheimer's
Scientists are trying a plumber’s approach to rid the
brain of the amyloid buildup that plagues Alzheimer’s patients: Simply drain the
toxic protein away. That’s the method outlined in a paper published online
August 12 by Nature Medicine. Scientists from the University of Rochester
Medical Center show how the body’s natural way of ridding the body of the
substance is flawed in people with the disease. Then the team demonstrated an
experimental method in mice to fix the process, dramatically reducing the levels
of the toxic protein in the brain and halting symptoms. The team is now working
on developing a version of the protein that could be tested in people with the
PhysOrg, August 12, 2007 ---
Seems like the trick is to drain the bad stuff while leaving the good stuff. I
wonder if stores will one day be selling brain pumps over the counter. Or maybe
this will lend new meaning to the phrase "blow it out your ear."
Testosterone patch benefits women with low sexual desire
Novel research published in the current issue of The
Journal of Sexual Medicine supports the claim that women with hypoactive sexual
desire disorder or HSDD (persistent or recurrent deficiency and/or absence of
sexual fanatasies/thoughts, and/or desire for, or receptivity to, sexual
activity, which causes personal distress) show noted improvement in sexual
desire and sexual function following low dose testosterone treatment.
PhysOrg, August 14, 2007 ---
Researchers find vitamin B1 deficiency key to vascular problems for
Researchers at Warwick Medical School, University of
Warwick, have discovered that deficiency of thiamine – Vitamin B1 - may be key
to a range of vascular problems for people with diabetes. They have also solved
the mystery as to why thiamine deficiency in diabetes had remained hidden until
now. Diabetes is increasing in incidence in the UK and elsewhere and one of the
most significant health problems associated with the condition are vascular
complications: microvascular complications, such as damage to the kidney, retina
and nerves in arms and legs; and macrovascular complications, such as heart
disease and stroke. The University of Warwick researchers, led by Professor Paul
Thornalley, have shown conclusively that diabetic patients are thiamine
deficient in blood plasma. They were also able to solve the mystery of what was
happening to thiamine in diabetic patients and connect it more closely to
vascular complications in diabetic patients.
PhysOrg, August 7, 2007 ---
Why Ketamine Helps Fight Depression
Last year, neuroscientists at the National Institute of
Mental Health (NIMH) made headlines with a surprising result. They found that a
single dose of ketamine--an anesthetic and club drug known as special K--could
relieve depression in some patients in a matter of hours, rather than in the six
or more weeks it typically takes for existing antidepressants to kick in. What's
more, the drug was successful in a group that is usually extremely difficult to
treat: patients who had failed to find relief after trying multiple
Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, August 7, 2007 ---
Green tea boosts production of detox enzymes, rendering cancerous
Concentrated chemicals derived from green tea
dramatically boosted production of a group of key detoxification enzymes in
people with low levels of these beneficial proteins, according to researchers at
Arizona Cancer Center. These findings, published in the August issue of Cancer
Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for
Cancer Research, suggest that a green tea concentrate might help some people
strengthen their metabolic defense against toxins capable of causing cancer.
PhysOrg, August 10, 2007 ---
A genetic variation that boosts risk for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
A genetic variation that boosts risk for Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) paradoxically appears to predict who will
grow out of the learning disability. Scientists found that brain development in
ADHD-afflicted children with this variation was out of whack at age 8 but
normalized by 16. ADHD symptoms in this group were also more likely to disappear
with age. The study is the first to identify a genetically determined pattern of
brain development linked to ADHD and supports the existence of a real
neurological basis for the disorder, which has been viewed by some as a product
of pharmaceutical marketing or bad parenting. "This is the first step in
individualizing treatment for ADHD based on genetic make-up," says Philip Shaw,
a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, who
led the study.
Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, August 9, 2007 ---
Bedbugs tuck into Southland: Calls to exterminators are rising.
Eradication is neither quick nor cheap
Bed feeling a little crowded? Maybe you have company.
The Cimex lectularius, better known and despised as the common bedbug, is
snuggling into households across Southern California, giving people the heebie-
jeebies. The blood-sucking, heat-seeking, pint-size parasites aren't believed by
the experts to transmit disease, but they do have a way of cranking up stress
levels. "It was just horrendous," said a West Hollywood middle-school teacher,
who, like others who have been horrified to have lived with the uninvited
guests, asked that she not be identified. "Think of how you wouldn't sleep at
night if you had roaches, and this...
Leslie Earnest, LA Times, August 13, 2007 ---
"Making Deaf Ears Hear with Light: A laser-based approach could make
cochlear implants, which currently use electrical signals, more effective,"
by Michael Chorost, MIT's Technology Review, August 10, 2007 ---
About 100,000 profoundly deaf people now hear with
cochlear implants, which work by stimulating the auditory nerve with a
string of electrodes implanted in the inner ear. While the devices enable
many users to converse easily and use telephones, they still fall short of
restoring normal hearing. Now scientists at Northwestern University are
exploring whether laser-based implants could one day outperform today's
The mammalian ear uses neural firing rates as one
way of encoding sound. As part of a project funded by the National Institute
for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Claus-Peter Richter
and his colleagues at Northwestern have demonstrated that they can control
firing rates in the auditory nerve of animals using infrared laser
radiation. They are now trying to establish that it's safe to use for long
periods of time and that it can manipulate neural firing rates with enough
precision to send useful information to the brain.
With conventional cochlear implants, electrical
signals spread in the wet, salty environment of the body, muddying the
signal. That makes it difficult to trigger specific populations of nerves
inside the cochlea. Further complicating matters, simultaneous pulses in
different locations merge with each other, stimulating the cochlea
everywhere instead of in the desired locations.
Engineers work around the problem by triggering
only one or two of the 16 or 24 electrodes in the inner ear at a time. It's
done so rapidly that the user has the illusion that all of the electrodes
are firing, but the result is still a relatively crude simulation of normal
hearing. To many cochlear implant users, voices sound mechanical and music
sounds washed out.
An infrared laser, on the other hand, can be beamed
at nerve fibers with pinpoint accuracy. Furthermore, the directional nature
of laser light means that optical pulses in different places won't interfere
with each other. The increased precision of neural stimulation would make
voices and music sound more natural, and users would be able to converse in
noisy environments more easily.
While it's not yet clear why infrared radiation can
trigger activity in the auditory nerves, Richter hypothesizes that it heats
the cells slightly, opening ion channels in the cell walls and sending an
electrical signal down the length of the neuron.
Five Best Children's Books
"Hear Ye, Hear Ye: These children's books are especially enthralling
when read aloud," by Meghan Cox Gordon, The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2007
1. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
by Roald Dahl (Knopf, 1964).
No one questions the civilizing utility of
reading aloud to children, nor is there much doubt that the young
will cheerfully sit still for almost any story, so long as it's read
with a bit of style. The trick is to find picture books for small
children that can stand frequent re-readings ("Again! Again!") and
longer narratives for older listeners that won't drive you half-mad
with over-long sentences, irritating digressions or endless
landscape description. This children's favorite is, in my opinion,
the gold standard of read-alouds for ages 5-12 and when read aloud
far surpasses any of its flashy film versions: The sentences are
crisp, the plot is full of surprises and, best of all, virtually
every character lends itself to a rich, fruity accent. In our
household, for instance, the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka is
German ("Velcome to ze fectory!"), Grandpa Joe is Irish and the
intolerably spoiled Veruca Salt comes from Dixie ("Ah've decided Ah
want a squirrel! Git me one of those squirrels"!). That this
approach creates a pig-pile of regional twangs only adds to the mad
joy of the story.
2. "Half Magic" by Edward Eager
(Harcourt Brace, 1954).
In this droll classic set in the 1920s,
four siblings find an object that resembles a nickel but that is, in
fact, an ancient talisman with a curious power: Whatever one wants,
one gets it by halves. So when Mark wishes the children were all on
a desert island, they get only as far as a desert. When Martha longs
for the family cat to talk, suddenly the creature can--sort of. "Idlwidl
baxbix!" is the type of thing she says, which makes young listeners
fall about laughing. Over the course of the children's adventures,
they are kidnapped by an itinerant Arab, trounce Sir Launcelot on
the jousting field right before King Arthur's horrified eyes and
inadvertently transport their mother onto the back of a circus
steed. "Half Magic" is lightly peppered with literary references (to
Longfellow, Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Andersen et al.) that not
all children age 7-12 will recognize but that the alert adult may
take pleasure in explaining along the way.
3. "Just William" by Richmal Crompton (Newnes
These brilliantly funny stories require
some skill on the part of the reader--a certain archness in the
descriptive bits and British accents for the dialogue--but they're
infinitely worth the effort. The escapades of 11-year-old English
schoolboy William Brown and his doughty companions, the Outlaws,
first began appearing in British magazines in 1919 (a dozen were
collected for "Just William" three years later, and more
compilations ensued until the author's death in 1968). Over the
decades, no matter how detestable the houseguest, devious the
schoolmate or dull the drizzly afternoon, our incorrigible boy
always wins out. Try this passage aloud, where William realizes the
comic potential of a new toy, and you'll see what I mean about
archness: "He had bought a balloon adorned with the legs and head of
a duck fashioned in cardboard. This could be blown up to its fullest
extent and then left to subside. It took several minutes for it to
subside, and during those minutes it emitted a long-draw-out and
high-pitched groan. The advantage of this was obvious."
4. "Anatole" by Eve Titus; illustrated
by Paul Galdone (McGraw-Hill, 1956).
I don't know why it is, but few
English-speakers fail to enjoy putting on the occasional outrageous
French accent. This wonderful picture book for children ages 4-8,
about a dignified mouse named Anatole, gives adult readers a
blissful opportunity to fool around with diphthongs of Clouseau-like
absurdity. After overhearing an insult, Anatole decides that it is
wrong simply to pilfer scraps from humans to feed his family. He
wants to earn what he takes. So the clever Parisian sneaks into the
tasting room of Monsieur Duval's cheese factory, samples the wares
and carefully spikes tiny signs into the cheeses with advice such as
"needs more grated onion" and "add a little vinegar." Then
(naturally, read aloud with fond, full-throated Francophilia),
Anatole surveys his work: "Voila! Now the Duval Factory will learn a
thing or two. Mice are known everywhere as the World's Best Judges
of Cheese! As for myself, I shall bring some home proudly, for I
have honorably earned it!"
5. "The Perfect Nest" by Catherine
Friend; illustrated by John Manders (Candlewick, 2007).
This brightly colored picture book for
young children has a charming narrative rhythm, a happy ending and
that indefinable quality that makes it stand up to many return
visits. Here a dastardly, yellow-eyed farm cat named Jack constructs
a fabulous nest in order to lure passing fowl to lay their eggs in
it, eggs that Jack plans to turn into a fabulous omelet. Alas, he is
too successful: The nest is first occupied by three squabbling
birds, then, briefly, by three warm eggs, and then, to the cat's
dismay, by three damp baby chicks. "Hola, mama!" cries the first,
looking at Jack. "Sacre bleu! Bonjour, Maman," cheeps the second.
And the third--to the glee of listeners ages 4-7--says: "Great balls
of fire! Howdy, Ma." This being a bedtime story, it ends with Jack
curled protectively around the three heavily accented babies who
have adopted him, all fast asleep in the perfect nest.
Mrs. Gurdon reviews children's books for The Wall Street
Saturday Wife at Huge Discount (chuckle)
Subject line of an August 12, 2007 message from Naomi Ragen
The Saturday Wife is actually a book by Naomi about Jewish women ---
Forwarded by Roger and Diane
(I especially like the last one.)
1) NUDITY I was driving with my three young children one warm
summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and
waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard
my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, "Mom! That lady isn't wearing a
2) OPINIONS On the first day of school, a first-grader
handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, "The opinions
expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents."
3) KETCHUP A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of
the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old
daughter to answer the phone. "Mommy can't come to the phone to talk to you
right now. She's hitting the bottle."
4) MORE NUDITY A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found
himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst
into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The
little boy watched in amazement and then asked, "What's the matter,
haven't you ever seen a little boy before?"
5) POLICE # 1 While taking a routine vandalism report at an
elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old.
Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, "Are you a cop?" Yes," I
answered and continued writing the report. "My mother said if I ever
needed help I should ask the police. Is that right? "Yes, that's right," I
told her. "Well, then, "she said as she extended her foot toward me,
"would you please tie my shoe?"
6) POLICE # 2 It was the end of the day when I parked my police
van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9
partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me "Is
that a dog you got back there?" he asked. "It sure is," I replied.
Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van.
Finally he said," What'd he do?"
7) ELDERLY While working for an organization that delivers
lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my
afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances
of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I
found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced
myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and
whispered, "The tooth fairy will never believe this!"
8) DRESS-UP A little girl was watching her parents dress for a
party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, "Daddy, you
shouldn't wear that suit." "And why not, darling?" "You know that it
always gives you a headache the next morning. "
9) DEATH While walking along the sidewalk in front of his
church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his
collar wilt. App arently, his 5-year-old son and his playmates had
found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed,
they had secured a small box and cotton batting, then dug a hole and made
ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister's son was
chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned
his version of what he thought his father always said: "Glory be
unto the Faaaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he gooooes."
10) SCHOOL A little girl had just finished her first week of
school. "I'm just wasting my time," she said to her mother . "I
can't read, I can't write and they won't let me talk!"
11) BIBLE A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was
fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell
out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw
was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages "Mama, look
what I found," the boy called out.. "What have you got there, dear?" With
astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered, "I think it's Adam's
Although it's been abnormally cool in the White Mountains, such is not the
case in most parts of the continental U.S. in July and August
Forwarded by the Swensons (some of these are more true than funny)
IT'S SOOOOOO HOT.....
.....the birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.
.....the trees are whistling for the dogs.
.....the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
.....hot water now comes out of both taps.
.....you can make sun tea instantly.
.....you learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
.....the temperature drops below 95 F (35 C) and you feel a little chilly.
.....you discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.
.....you discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.
.....you actually burn your hand opening the car door.
.....you break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.
.....your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end
up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
.....you realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
.....the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and
.....the cows are giving evaporated milk.. .
....farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying
Tidbits Archives ---
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
Three Finance Blogs
Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
FinancialRounds Blog ---
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Some Accounting Blogs
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International Association of Accountants News ---
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries ---
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and
XBRL Blogs ---
Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New
Current and past editions of my newsletter called
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud
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
Free Textbooks and Cases ---
Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---
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Teacher Source: Math ---
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Free Education and
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VYOM eBooks Directory ---
From Princeton Online
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Online Mathematics Textbooks ---
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---
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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
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 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.
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
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586