Frost's Trouble With Frosts
About two miles down Lafayette Road (the steep and narrow side road from our
cottage) and a bit to the left is the Robert Frost Place (Museum) comprised of
his old farm house and barn near the village of Franconia (just north of
Franconia Notch). It's now open to the
public and is a popular place for poetry readings. This
world-famous poet lived
in these mountains from 1915 to 1920, but he found the climate up here too harsh
(frost covered) and moved to a somewhat warmer farm in southern Vermont. The
museum in Franconia is stark, because austere Yankee living is how Robert Frost
preferred to live after his years in the city. Perhaps he could see more amidst
less clutter. The big trees in front were cut away so he could look out upon
Mount Lafayette from his front porch.
When we see the parking lots full of cars in both our popular and
less-popular inns each summer, Erika and I know that the poets are back in the
mountains. For a few weeks each summer, all the area inns are brimming full of
poets who descend on Franconia's Robert Frost Place to read their poems and have
creations critiqued by fellow poets. They read and listen to each others' poems
by day and then rush back to their rooms to rewrite lines over and over each
When Frost arrived in New York, he found a review of
his book in a prominent paper. Now an acclaimed new poet, Frost wanted a farm in
the mountains of New Hampshire, where he could "live cheap and get Yankier and
Yankier." He settled in the town of Franconia and within a year published a
third book of poetry. Franconia remained his home for 5 years, although he
traveled quite a bit lecturing and teaching. In 1920, the Frosts moved to
Shaftsbury, Vermont. Although he was now much more a poet-lecturer, Frost always
kept a farm and took it seriously. He had trouble
with early frosts in Franconia and required a warmer climate for his apple
trees. Frost lived in Shaftsbury for about 20
years. His biographer called it "The Years of Triumph".
Today, The Frost Place is owned by the town of
Franconia and used in the summer as a writers' conference. Several rooms are
open to the public during the season. Programs are given to commemorate the
Franconia 1915 - 1920 ---
Robert Frost ---
Some Robert Frost Poems ---
Some Robert Frost Poems ---
Here's an interesting commentary on "The Road Not
Taken" that was forwarded by Brenda ---
And here are a few excerpts from Robert Frost's poems now on the Internet:
begins in delight and ends in wisdom
... in a clarification of life -
... a momentary stay against confusion.
shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Frost, The Road Not Taken
|We raised a simple prayer
Before we left the spot,
That in the general mowing
That place might be forgot;
Or if not all so favored,
Obtain such grace of hours,
That none should mow the grass there
While so confused with flowers.
|But he turned first, and
led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,
A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.
A Tuft of Flowers
|Ah, when to the heart of
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
Robert Frost, Reluctance
|Whose woods these are I
think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
|We heard, we knew we heard
A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fail that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade.
Going for Water
West Running Brook by
'Fred, where is north?'
'North? North is there, my love.
The brook runs west.'
'West-running Brook then call it.'
(West-Running Brook men call it to this day.)
'What does it think k's doing running west
When all the other country brooks flow east
To reach the ocean? It must be the brook
Can trust itself to go by contraries
The way I can with you -- and you with me --
Because we're -- we're -- I don't know what we are.
What are we?'
'Young or new?'
'We must be something.
We've said we two. Let's change that to we three.
As you and I are married to each other,
We'll both be married to the brook. We'll build
Our bridge across it, and the bridge shall be
Our arm thrown over it asleep beside it.
Look, look, it's waving to us with a wave
To let us know it hears me.'
' 'Why, my dear,
That wave's been standing off this jut of shore --'
(The black stream, catching a sunken rock,
Flung backward on itself in one white wave,
And the white water rode the black forever,
Not gaining but not losing, like a bird
White feathers from the struggle of whose breast
Flecked the dark stream and flecked the darker pool
Below the point, and were at last driven wrinkled
In a white scarf against the far shore alders.)
'That wave's been standing off this jut of shore
Ever since rivers, I was going to say,'
Were made in heaven. It wasn't waved to us.'
'It wasn't, yet it was. If not to you
It was to me -- in an annunciation.'
'Oh, if you take it off to lady-land,
As't were the country of the Amazons
We men must see you to the confines of
And leave you there, ourselves forbid to enter,-
It is your brook! I have no more to say.'
'Yes, you have, too. Go on. You thought of something.'
'Speaking of contraries, see how the brook
In that white wave runs counter to itself.
It is from that in water we were from
Long, long before we were from any creature.
Here we, in our impatience of the steps,
Get back to the beginning of beginnings,
The stream of everything that runs away.
Some say existence like a Pirouot
And Pirouette, forever in one place,
Stands still and dances, but it runs away,
It seriously, sadly, runs away
To fill the abyss' void with emptiness.
It flows beside us in this water brook,
But it flows over us. It flows between us
To separate us for a panic moment.
It flows between us, over us, and with us.
And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love-
And even substance lapsing unsubstantial;
The universal cataract of death
That spends to nothingness -- and unresisted,
Save by some strange resistance in itself,
Not just a swerving, but a throwing back,
As if regret were in it and were sacred.
It has this throwing backward on itself
So that the fall of most of it is always
Raising a little, sending up a little.
Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the sun.
It is this backward motion toward the source,
Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
The tribute of the current to the source.
It is from this in nature we are from.
It is most us.'
'To-day will be the day....You said so.'
'No, to-day will be the day
You said the brook was called West-running Brook.'
'To-day will be the day of what we both said.')
There are two extremes in poetry. At one extreme we have poems that are
perfectly structured ( e.g.,
iambic tetramete, or
trochaic meter) but have uncreative content. This is like the band making
lousy music while marching in perfect step. At the other extreme we have lazy
poems in free form that have a message that is nothing more than prose in short
lines. Good poets like Shakespeare could meter the lines and still have a
message. This is very, very difficult even for the professional poets and is
seldom truly appreciated by the untrained readers just as a great symphony is
not supremely appreciated by untrained listeners. I've never been able to fully
appreciate "modern" art and free-form poetry, although I sometimes like the
color patterns and prose messages.
Update on June 4, 2008
"Scared Straight — by Poetry?" by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed,
June 4, 2008 ---
Jay Parini has taught poetry to many, many students
during his 30-plus years of college teaching. But the group of teenagers for
whom he has read and analyzed Robert Frost’s poems in recent weeks are
unlike the young people he has encountered in the classrooms of Dartmouth
and Middlebury Colleges since 1975.
“To them, Robert Frost is just a name on a plaque,”
said Parini, a poet, novelist and
biographer of Frost. “I can’t assume a damn thing
that they have any knowledge at all” about Frost or poetry.
Parini’s students these last two weeks have not had
much of a choice but to listen to the Middlebury professor. Their attendance
in the two sessions, the second of which was Tuesday, was mandatory as part
of a “court diversion” program they entered in lieu of going to jail. Their
crime: trashing a Vermont home in which Frost summered for the last two
decades of his life, as a party they held raged out of control. The high
school students, who were invited to the Homer Noble Farm, an unheated
farmhouse in Ripton, Vt., by a youthful former employee of Middlebury
College, which owns the structure, burned furniture to keep warm, broke
china and soiled the carpets. They did more than $10,000 in damage.
The local prosecutor, Addison County State’s
Attorney John Quinn, contemplated sending them to jail. But he opted instead
for a more creative punishment. “I guess I was thinking that if these teens
had a better understanding of who Robert Frost was, and his contribution to
our society, that they would be more respectful of other people’s property
in the future and would also learn something from the experience,” he
told the Associated Press.
Quinn’s call to Parini suggesting that he teach the
wrongdoers about Frost caught the author and poet by surprise, but he
embraced the idea. In two sessions, Parini said he “tried to take it down to
brass tacks ... just reading some very moving Frost poems,” rather than
trying to beat the young people over the head with lectures. ("I had three
teenagers of my own,” he said.)
“Out Out,” which
describes a teenage farmhand’s loss of his hand, seemed to resonate with the
high schoolers who themselves hail mostly from farm country, Parini said.
And as he read from the seemingly inevitable
“The Road Not Taken,” Parini said, he could not
help but suggest to his temporary students that they might be “lost in your
“This was a very moving and emotional experience,
and I think I really connected emotionally with these kids,” Parini said.
“The goal was to show them why poetry matters in their lives. That it’s not
just some monument on a hillside, but it has very crucial and vital things
ot say about their very own lives.”
Poetry Can Be Dangerous, April 23, 2007
When Creative Writing Provides a Clue, April 18,
Rethinking Tenure — and Much More, Dec. 8, 2006
How a Plan Evolved, Dec. 8, 2006
War Thoughts at Home, Oct. 4, 2006
Tidbits on September 5, 2007
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(daughters of one of my best friends at Trinity University) ---
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those WW 2 Veterans (forwarded by my favorite taxi driver in San Antonio) ---
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II nostalgia and humor ) chapter in the life of violinist Jascha Heifetz
(Includes choices with Jack Benny and Bing Crosby) ---
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Verdi's 'Macbeth' (full concert) ---
The 2007 J&R MusicFest showcased an array of
artists in New York City's City Hall Park from Aug. 23-25. This year's MusicFest
was headlined by R&B legend Chaka Khan, singer/ songwriter Suzanne Vega and
Bruce Hornsby (full concerts) ---
Why would an opera named for a desperate and
suicidal young man feature happy children singing a Christmas carol? In July?
Well, some say that for unhappy people, the holidays are the saddest time of
year, and in Massenet's Werther, that's an understatement ---
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I constantly walk into a room and I don't remember shy. But for
some reason, I think there's goin to be a clue in the fridge.
afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens.
Sixty-one women in the U.S. military have been killed by hostile
fire in Iraq — more than twice as many female casualties
suffered since women were allowed to join the military after
World War II. The number indicates that women are playing new
roles in combat zones. The Army acknowledges that the policy
governing female soldiers in combat is unclear and outdated.
"Army Policies Don't Keep Women Off Front Lines," NPR,
August 27, 2007 ---
Bravo America ---
A jury consists of twelve
persons chosen to decide who has the better
Lobbying for Big
Brotherism in Academe
But this is a particularly egregious case
(Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's
blatantly political slipped-in-lobbyist amendment to
restrain file sharing in academe)
because it enforces rules that are specifically
inimical to education, and that run contrary the
fundamental mission of a college or
university—the sharing of information. The
reasons colleges have given for not wanting this
sort of regulation are that it would be costly
and outside their purview or expertise, and that
it would be burdensome and likely ineffective.
Of course, they insist, to a man or woman they
"Policing the Academy for Pirates," Reason
Magazine, August 22, 2007 ---
years after Hurricane Katrina emptied New Orleans, more than
90,000 evacuees live in Houston, permanently it seems. Life for
all of them has been difficult, and their stories are a mix of
sadness, loneliness and triumphant hope . . . This is Houston's
right hand, the one that gives to the evacuees. It gives them
its powerful economy, inexpensive new homes in far-flung
suburbs, and public schools collectively educating Asian,
Indian, black, white and Hispanic children. Taken together, it
is a powerful offering.
Wade Goodwyn, NPR,
August 27, 2007 ---
combined risk of mortgage defaults and heavy debt loads has
overtaken terrorism as the biggest short-term threat to the U.S.
economy, according to a survey of economists being released
Sudeep Reddy and
Kelly Evans, "Debt Issues Top Economists' Fears," The
Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2007; Page A2 ---
James Taranto (Wall Street
Journal Editor) shows how motivation of insurgents is
changing in Iraq. His video is fascinating at
We've learned a lot about the 24,000+ detainees in August versus
16,000+ detainees in February of 2007. Less than 40% are
al-Queda-like Islamic fundamentalists. Most are criminal
mercenaries that are "terrorists for the money" because they're
getting paid. This means that they're also amenable to changing
sides to the highest bidder. Taranto suspects that many of these
so-called insurgents were common criminals released from prisons
rather than political prisoners that were not released.
report says 95 percent of the world's opium comes from Afghan
fields and poppy production there is expected to top all records
this year. Mark Schneider, a senior vice president with the
International Crisis Group, talks with Renee Montagne.
"Record Crop for Afghan Opium Poppies," NPR,
August 27, 2006 ---
The Taliban's struggle in the past few
years is largely a drug turf war. When allied armies chase the
Taliban out of an area, they sneak back as soon as the armies
leave, especially when in the season of poppy harvesting.
Two British soldiers from the same battalion have
been nominated for the Victoria Cross in recognition of their incredible bravery
in the face of the enemy. The citations for Britain's highest gallantry award
came after the men were involved in fierce fighting against the Taliban in
Afghanistan. The first is Captain David Hicks – who would become the first
officer to win the VC since Falklands hero Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert 'H' Jones.
The second is believed to be Lance-Corporal Oliver 'Teddy' Ruecker, 20. Last
month Capt Hicks, 26, refused morphine when mortally wounded in order to lead a
counter-attack against a Taliban rocket assault.
Mark Nichol, Daily Mail,
September 2, 2007 ---
twist in the global warming saga is the revision in data at
NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, indicating that the
warmest year on record for the U.S. was not 1998, but rather
"Not So Hot," The Wall Street Journal,
August 29, 2007 ---
gringo observers, Hugo Chávez is merely a mildly
buffoonish, if delightfully brave, left-wing populist; a
blustering, swaggering caudillo who used the UN
lectern to unmask the current American president as the physical
incarnation of the devil; a cherubic strongman sidling up with
politicians like Rep. Joe Kennedy and London Mayor
Ken Livingstone in order to
unburden the empire of capitalism's victims.But he is also the
man who has declared his eternal friendship with Libya's Col.
Gaddafi, Belorussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, Iranian
leader Ahmadinejad, Zimbabwean tyrant
Robert Mugabe, Sandinista
commandante Daniel Ortega, imprisoned terrorist Carlos
the Jackal, Saddam Hussein and, of course, Fidel Castro. Amongst
the gringo masses, this side of Chávez is rather
less well-known. In the new book
Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan
journalists Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka provide
the non-Spanish speaking reader with the first balanced account
of the Venezuelan president's troubling rise to power. They also
offer a clearer picture as to why Chávez, rather than simply
anointing a capable and ideologically sound successor,
desperately clings to the presidency.
Moynihan, "The Caudillo in His Labyrinth: Hugo Chavez
and his enablers," Reason Magazine, August 23, 2007 ---
Trial Watch, a special broadcast of The Homeland
Security Report hosted by Doug Hagmann, brings you important information about
the trial that is not being covered by the mainstream media. Listen to Doug
Hagmann – an investigator with over 20 years of experience in civil and criminal
cases - as he recaps the case against the Muslim charity as presented by the
prosecution, carefully sorts through the mountain of evidence presented by the
prosecution linking the charity and the defendants to the Islamic terrorist
"The The Holy Land Foundation Case; What you are not hearing in
the Media," August 10, 2007 ---
In response to uproar from
angry viewers and a media watchdog report, CNN advertisers have distanced
themselves from a special series that aired last week entitled "God's Warriors,"
produced and anchored by the network's chief international correspondent,
Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America called
an episode of the series that focused on Judaism "one of the most grossly
distorted programs" ever aired on mainstream American television.
Aaron Klein, "Advertisers blast
'offensive' CNN religion series," WorldNetDaily, August 29, 2007 ---
With the U.S. gone from Iraq, emboldened jihadi
forces shift to Afghanistan and turn it again into a bastion of Terror
International. Syria reclaims Lebanon, which it has always labeled as a part of
"Great Syria." Hezbollah and Hamas, both funded and equipped by Tehran, resume
their war against Israel. Russia, extruded from the Middle East by adroit
Kissingerian diplomacy in the 1970s, rebuilds its anti-Western alliances. In
Iraq, the war escalates, unleashing even more torrents of refugees and provoking
outside intervention, if not partition. Now, let's look beyond the region. The
Europeans will be the first to revise their romantic notions of multipolarity,
or world governance by committee. For worse than an overbearing, in-your-face
America is a weakened and demoralized one. Shall Vladimir Putin's Russia acquire
a controlling stake? This ruthlessly revisionist power wants revenge for its
post-Gorbachev humiliation, not responsibility.
Josef Joffe, "If Iraq Falls," The Wall Street Journal, August 27,
2007; Page A11 ---
Deposed Hamas government launches official Internet Web site ---
Do you ever get the feeling that at this point
Washington is run by two rival gangs that have a great deal in common with each
other, including an essential lack of interest in the well-being of the turf on
which they fight?
Peggy Noonan, "A Time for Grace:
America needs unity in dealing with Iraq. That means the president must lead,"
The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2007 ---
“I know all about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but
today’s baseball stars are all guys named Rodriguez to me,” Andy Rooney wrote in
the second paragraph of the column, which appeared in The Stamford Times of
Stamford, Conn. “They’re apparently very good but they haven’t caught my
interest.” “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have said it,” Mr. Rooney, 88, said when
reached by telephone on Friday afternoon. He added that although he regretted
the comment, he doubted he would apologize for it in a subsequent column. “It’s
a name that seems common in baseball now. I certainly didn’t think of it in any
derogatory sense.” He added, “That’s what I do for a living, I write columns and
have opinions, and some of them are pretty stupid.”
Maria Aspan, "Andy Rooney Regrets a
Racist Comment in a Recent Column," The New York Times, August 27, 2007
Her advice, I later realized, was another way of
saying, "stay off East Hastings Street (Vancouver)
," the epicenter of life for drug users here and the
location of "InSite," North America's only legal, government-sponsored,
injection clinic. Later that morning, as my friend showed me around the
neighborhood in his car, I saw why. The sidewalks in front of the clinic were
lined with addicts, and for blocks in both directions, all humanity looked sick,
drawn, impoverished and defeated. In the gloom of a drizzly, cloud-covered
Sunday morning, I felt I had entered one of Dante's inner circles of suffering.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "Canada's
Shooting Gallery," The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2007; Page A10 ---
In spite of the negativism of this article, I'm in favor of providing legal
narcotics to addicts as long as they remain crime free. Studies show that
long-term abusers tend to kick the habit in ten years or less. It would be less
risky for them to get off of the sometimes dangerously laced street drugs. And
it would be wonderful to put the violent world wide and warring drug cartels out
of business. Such a solution, however, should be worldwide or at least
nationwide. Experiments such as this in Vancouver and in Holland prove that
isolated locality legalization of drugs attracts the dregs of humanity and may
cause other problems such as overloaded welfare applicants and streets littered
with homeless bodies.
A new plan to crack down on illegal immigration is
on hold. The federal program was to have started this week. It compares employee
Social Security numbers with those on file, and cracks down on employers with
too many mismatches.
Steve Inskeep and Jennifer Ludden,
NPR, September 4, 2007 ---
Starbucks' chief barista Howard Schultz has been
committed to healthcare coverage for his employees, but his generosity may be
brewing up trouble for the coffee seller. The company's chairman told U.S.
legislators yesterday that it will spend more on employee health insurance this
year than on raw materials to brew its coffee. Starbucks provides health care
coverage to employees who work at least 20 hours a week, which will add up to
about $200 million this year for health care for its 80,000 U.S. employees. But
Schultz that Starbucks' benefits policy is a key factor in the company's low
employee turnover and high productivity. Increasingly the company is taking on
older workers, who are no doubt attracted by the generous benefits. Schultz told
the healthcare cost summit, which was also attended by the CEOs of Costco,
Drugstore.com and Verizon Communications, that his personal feelings on health
care are largely based on the experiences of his youth--when he watched his
father struggle to hold down several low-wage jobs, none of which included
Chris Noon, "Starbucks' Schultz
Bemoans Health Care Costs," Forbes ---
I'm convinced that Starbucks is purposefully keeping
me under the required 240 hours per quarter to qualify for healthcare. Has
anyone else seen this happen at their stores?
Anonymous, Starbucks Union
The Utah legislature passed one of the nation's most
far-sighted voucher laws in February, and the state teachers union is calling in
the national cavalry to help repeal it in a November 6 referendum. Last month
Kim Campbell, the head of the Utah Education Association, schlepped all the way
to Philadelphia to speak at a National Education Association convention, where
she asked the board of directors for financial support to oppose school choice.
Ms. Campbell promised that her campaign to defeat it "will be ugly, mean and
expensive," and she needs the outside cash to overwhelm pro-voucher supporters
in the state. Look for other liberal activists to pour cash into what will be
the most significant state-wide ballot test for school choice in years.
"Voucher Showdown," The Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2007; Page A14
The second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina arrived
yesterday, with the White House disclosing that U.S. taxpayers have chipped in
no less than $127 billion (including $13 billion in tax relief) to rebuild the
Gulf region. That's more than the GDP of most nations. But we thought we'd draw
attention to a little-discussed issue in New Orleans that may well determine how
many residents ever return to their homes--to wit, rising property taxes due to
cleaner government, of all things. Property taxes in the city are suddenly
rising by hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars above what they were
last year. As the Times-Picayune reported three years ago, the city's system of
assessing property values through seven different tax assessment offices allowed
city officials to play favorites. The homes of longtime residents were assessed
below homes that were recently sold. The proof was in the tax rolls: Neighbors
with similar homes often paid very different amounts in property taxes.
"Property Tax Flood: The real battle of New Orleans,"
The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2007 ---
If you missed NEWSWEEK's cover story story, here's
the gist. A "well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists,
free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt
around climate change." This "denial machine" has obstructed action against
global warming and is still "running at full throttle." The story's thrust:
discredit the "denial machine," and the country can start the serious business
of fighting global warming. The story was a wonderful read, marred only by its
being fundamentally misleading. The global-warming debate's great un-mentionable
is this: we lack the technology to get from here to there. Just because Arnold
Schwarzenegger wants to cut emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050
doesn't mean it can happen. At best, we might curb emissions growth . . . One
way or another, our assaults against global warming are likely to be symbolic,
ineffective or both. But if we succeed in cutting emissions substantially,
savings would probably be offset by gains in China and elsewhere. The McKinsey
Global Institute projects that from 2003 to 2020, the number of China's vehicles
will rise from 26 million to 120 million, average residential floor space will
increase 50 percent and energy demand will grow 4.4 percent annually. Even with
"best practices" energy efficiency, demand would still grow 2.8 percent a year,
Robert J. Samuelson, "Greenhouse
Simplicities," Newsweek Magazine, August 27, 2007, Page 47 ---
PayRump Pahrump Valley Times
Some brothel license applicants require extensive
investigation, DeMeo said, discussing what he termed the "most privileged
license in the county." County commissioners rejected an applicant for a license
to operate the Chicken Ranch brothel June 19 and Lt. Jack Grimauld told
commissioners he spent 125 hours on that investigation. Applicants for a liquor
license already pay a $500 investigative fee, then $100 quarterly fees for
package or retail liquor sales. Clark County charges $350 for the investigation
fee, but another $90 background fee, $145 for filing, processing and application
fees, and quarterly fees range from $150 for retail liquor sales to $450 for
package liquor sales. Lyon County charges a $1,000 fee for a new liquor license,
according to statistics provided by Borasky, and annual fees based on number of
employees ranging from $100 to $600. Humboldt County charges a fee and a
percentage of gross receipts. Nye County brothels pay $5,000 for an
investigation fee for their license, a $1,000 fee for each owner or manager that
wants to be on the license, and a $62.50 registration fee for each prostitute.
In addition, brothels pay a quarterly fee of $1,875 if they have five
prostitutes or less, $3,500 for six to 10 prostitutes, $7,500 for 11 to 25
working girls or $37,500 if they employ 26 or more prostitutes . . .
Assistant Sheriff Johanna Cody, who processes license for
the office, urged commissioners: "If you raise the registration fees for the
employees at the brothel, please do not include 50 cents ... When you get 194 of
those (applications) at one time, you're buried in quarters."
Mark Waite, "Wages of sin on way
up?" Pahrump Valley Times, August 24, 2007 ---
Just what do County Supervisors do when conducting a background check of brothel
applicants? Are they just getting their money back? This could be revenue round
tripping fraud!Jensen Comment
There was a "Chicken Ranch" featured in the famous movie and Broadway play
entitled Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The term "Chicken Ranch" arose
because some young farm boys could pay in live chickens when they did not have
enough cash. The stars in the movie were Dolly Parton (Mona) and Burt Reynolds
(Ed Earl). The movie had a happier ending than the highly successful Broadway
play that I saw two times. There really was a "Chicken Ranch" in Lagrange,
Texas and the Broadway play is based largely on fact regarding when the Texas
Governor very reluctantly shut the place down ---
Quotes from the Film (remember that Dolly Parton (Mona) is best known for a
couple of prominent features):
- You know,
it's always a business doing pleasure with you,
liked Ed Earl. Especially Ed Earl!"
- "Oh Fred,
you don't mean to tell me, that the cows don't
appreciate the time off when the bull goes over to
- Mona: "You
know, I knew a woman who had a vision of Jesus. He came
into her house, and sat right down at the foot of her
bed. I don't know what I'd do if that happened to me.
Ed Earl: "I'll tell you something, honey. If Jesus comes
to your house, all Hell is gonna break loose!"
- Mona: Me,
jumpin' up and down, I'd black both my eyes!"
- "I can't be
a ballerina now, I'm too top heavy. I have a hard enough
time, juggling these things around now
Warning: Beware of greeting card and post card messages ---
IRS "Member Satisfaction Survey" is a Scam
The Internal Revenue Service has issued a consumer
alert regarding a new, two-step e-mail scam that falsely promises recipients
they will receive $80 for participating in an online customer satisfaction
survey. In the scam, an unsuspecting taxpayer receives an unsolicited e-mail
that appears to come from the IRS. The e-mail contains a URL linking to an
online "Member Satisfaction Survey."
AccountingWeb, August 31, 2007 ---
August 31, 2007 reply from Ganesh M. Pandit,
Today I received an email asking me to log on to a
site in order to claim my income tax "refund"...$109.30! Just for fun, I
clicked on the link given and was taken to a screen that asked for my name,
SSN, birthdate, debit card number, PIN, expiration date and secret 3-digit
code on the back of the card! :)
Of course, if you put your cursor over the link
given in the scam email message, you can see the underlying "fake" web site
August 31, 2007 reply from M Robert Bowers
I can add to Mr. Jensen's email regarding the IRS
I received an email today from the "Internal
Revenue Service". The Subject Line is, "Please submit the tax refund
This email says that "after the last annual
calculation of my fiscal activity", I have an additional refund coming. It
promises that if I submit the linked request (click here), I will be linked
to the refund form.
"Regards, Internal Revenue Service".
If you receive this, I suggest you trash it without
even opening it.
It looks like we are knee deep in spams, scams,
trojans, etc with the IRS. As if we didn't have enough on our hands!
M. Robert Bowers, CPA
Ph. (410) 461-6161 Fax (443) 269-2626
Bob Jensen's threads on tax scams are at
Bob Jensen's tax helpers are at
The "Get Human" Consumer Movement: Cost of Customer Aggravation in
Automated Phone Systems
Businesses can save money with automated phone systems
and online help centers, but what is the cost in terms of customer aggravation?
Business owners may want to rethink their machines, with their endless lists of
options, when they consider the case of online movie rental company Netflix,
along with the "get human" consumer movement.
AccountingWeb, August 31, 2007 ---
Dumb, Dumb, Dumb: This Textbook Sales Strategy Really Stinks
Many college students have been
slow to embrace e-books, so Café Scribe, which offers online textbooks,
commissioned a poll on what they most like about books in traditional form — and
43 percent cited issues related to smell (either liking “old book” smell or “new
book” smell. So
the publisher announced that it would send
scratch-and-sniff stickers to those students who buy e-books.
Inside Higher Ed, August 24, 2007 ---
Then again rednecks wear “new-truck-smell” and “old-saddle-leather” perfumes to
attract the opposite sex. So why not?
Smart: How a man started with an add for one red paper clip on Craig's
List (Craigslist) and kept bartering and bartering upward until he bartered for a house
without ever spending cash to boot.
"Bartering Up to a Better
Life: How the heck did Kyle MacDonald parlay a paperclip into a house?" by
Andrew Stark, The Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2007 ---
Two years ago, Kyle MacDonald was a 25-year-old
marketer of Table Shox, a shock absorber meant to prevent restaurant tables
from wobbling. Sensing the signs of a limited career path, Mr. MacDonald, a
Montrealer, faced an obvious choice. He could get serious and send off
résumés in quest of a real job or he could take one of the red paper clips
binding his résumés together and trade it on the Internet for something
"bigger and better," with the idea of eventually "bartering up to a house."
Naturally, he chose the second course. "One Red Paperclip" is his story.
As soon as the clip was advertised on Craigslist,
two women from Vancouver--Rhawnie and Corinna by name--offered a fish-shaped
pen in exchange. Before long, in return for the pen, Annie from Seattle gave
Mr. MacDonald a ceramic doorknob sculpted to look like E.T. the
Extra-Terrestrial after a rough night out. And on it went, from a neon
Budweiser sign to a recording contract put up by a Toronto student with
access to a studio, which Jody Gnant, an aspiring recording artist, snagged
by offering Mr. MacDonald a rent-free year in a house in Phoenix.
But Mr. MacDonald was looking to own, not rent, and
so he kept going. It turned out that rock star Alice Cooper has a restaurant
in Phoenix. An employee at Alice's restaurant, looking to live rent free,
offered an afternoon hanging out with her boss. Mr. MacDonald promptly
traded quality time with Mr. Cooper for a snow globe branded with the logo
of the rock band KISS. Enter the actor Corbin Bernsen, who starred in the TV
show "L.A. Law" years ago and now appears on the series "Psych." Mr. Bernsen
owns more than 6,000 snow globes. He offered a speaking part in his new
movie in return for Mr. MacDonald's.
Then, in July of last year, the town of Kipling,
Saskatchewan, entered the barter-sequence. It gave Mr. MacDonald a renovated
1920s house on Main Street in return for the film role, which it then
raffled off in a local "American Idol"-style audition won by a town resident
named Nolan Hubbard. Mr. MacDonald and his girlfriend, Dom, moved to
Kipling, having achieved their goal of turning a paper clip into a house.
Mr. MacDonald, by the way, now has a movie deal with DreamWorks.
Mr. MacDonald is a likable dude, always getting
"pumped" or "stoked" by his adventures, which he relates in an amusing and
breezy way but without much analytical rigor. That's a shame, because he has
inspired any number of imitators who barter-off the detritus of their lives.
A young man named Aaron Todd did quite well recently with 500 poker chips
embossed with an image of William Shatner's kidney stone--which Mr. Shatner
himself had auctioned off to the casino that issued them.
Continued in article
Google Sky turns computer
into virtual telescope,
software, allows users to
view the sky from their
computers. The tool provides
information about various
celestial bodies, from stars
to planets, and includes
imagery from the Hubble
Space Telescope and other
sources. It also allows
users to take virtual tours
through galaxies, including
the Milky Way, from any
point on Earth they
choose.''By working with
some of the industry's
leading experts, we've been
able to transform Google
Earth into a virtual
telescope,'' Lior Ron, a
Google product manager, said
in a statement.
MIT's Technology Review,
August 22, 2007 ---
Sky Video ---
Download sky free ---
A rising tide of companies are tapping Semantic Web technologies to
unearth hard-to-find connections between disparate pieces of online data
"Social Networks: Execs Use Them Too Networking technology gives companies a
new set of tools for recruiting and customer service—but privacy questions
remain," by Rachael King, Business Week, September 11, 2007 ---
Executive Officer Chip Overstreet was on the hunt for a new
vice-president for sales. He had homed in on a promising
candidate and dispensed with the glowing but unsurprising
remarks from references. Now it was time to dig for any
dirt. So he logged on to LinkedIn, an online business
network. "I did 11 back-door checks on this guy and found
people he had worked with at five of his last six
companies," says Overstreet, whose firm sells and manages
service contracts for manufacturers. "It was incredibly
powerful, in fact, that more than a dozen sites like
LinkedIn have cropped up in recent years. They're responding
to a growing impulse among Web users to build ties,
communities, and networks online, fueling the popularity of
sites like News Corp.'s (NWS)
MySpace (see BusinessWeek.com,
"The MySpace Generation"). As of
April, the 10 biggest social-networking sites, including
MySpace, reached a combined unique audience of 68.8 million
users, drawing in 45% of active Web users, according to
corporations and smaller businesses haven't embraced online
business networks with nearly the same abandon as teens and
college students who have flocked to social sites. Yet
companies are steadily overcoming reservations and using the
sites and related technology to craft potentially powerful
Recruiters at Microsoft (MSFT)
and Starbucks (SBUX),
for instance, troll online networks
such as LinkedIn for potential job candidates. Goldman Sachs
and Deloitte run their own online alumni networks for hiring
back former workers and strengthening bonds with
alumni-cum-possible clients. Boston Consulting Group and law
firm Duane Morris deploy enterprise software that tracks
employee communications to uncover useful connections in
other companies. And companies such as Intuit (INTU)
and MINI USA have created customer
networks to build brand loyalty.
adopters notwithstanding, many companies are leery of online
networks. Executives don't have time to field the possible
influx of requests from acquaintances on business networks.
Employees may be dismayed to learn their workplace uses
e-mail monitoring software to help sales associates' target
pitches. Companies considering building online communities
for advertising, branding, or marketing will need to cede
some degree of control over content.
those concerns are holding back Carmen Hudson, manager of
enterprise staffing at Starbucks, who says she swears by
LinkedIn. "It's one of the best things for finding mid-level
executives," she says.
Grail in recruiting is finding so-called passive candidates,
people who are happy and productive working for other
companies. LinkedIn, with its 6.7 million members, is a
virtual Rolodex of these types. Hudson says she has hired
three or four people this year as a result of connections
through LinkedIn. "We've started asking our hiring managers
to sign up on LinkedIn and help introduce us to their
contacts," she says. "People have concerns about privacy,
but once we explain how we use it and how careful we would
be with their contacts, they're usually willing to do it."
and human-resources departments are taking note. "LinkedIn
is a tremendous tool for recruiters," says Bill Vick, the
author of LinkedIn for Recruiting. So are sites
such as Ryze, Spoke, OpenBc, and Ecademy
Continued in article
"Taming the World Wide Web A rising tide of companies are tapping Semantic
Web technologies to unearth hard-to-find connections between disparate pieces of
online data," by Rachael King, Business Week, April 9, 2007 ---
When Eli Lilly
scientists try to develop a new drug, they face a Herculean
task. They must sift through vast quantities of information
such as data from lab experiments, results from past
clinical trials, and gene research, much of it stored in
disparate, unconnected databases and software programs. Then
they've got to find relationships among those pieces of
data. The enormity of the challenge helps explain why it
takes an average of 15 years and $1.2 billion to get a new
drug to market.
has vowed to bring down those costs.
"We have set the goal of reducing our average cost of R&D
per new drug by fully one-third, about $400 million, over
the next five years," Lilly Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer Sidney Taurel told the American Chamber of Commerce
in Japan last August.
As part of
its cost-cutting campaign, the drugmaker is experimenting
with new technologies designed to make it easier for
scientists to unearth and correlate scattered, unrelated
morsels of online data. Outfitted with this set of tools,
researchers can make smarter decisions earlier in the
research phase—where scientists screen thousands of chemical
compounds to see which ones best treat symptoms of a given
disease. If all goes according to plan, the company will get
new pharmaceuticals to patients sooner, and at less cost.
Found in Space
are the stuff of the Semantic Web, a method of tagging
online information so it can be better understood in
relation to other data—even if it's tucked away in some
faraway corporate database or software program. Today's
prominent search tools are adept at quickly identifying and
serving up reams of online information, though not at
showing how it all fits together. "When you get down to it,
you have to know whatever keyword the person used, or you're
never going to find it," says Dave McComb, president of
consulting firm Semantic Arts.
Researchers in a growing number of industries are sampling
Semantic Web knowhow. Citigroup (C)
is evaluating the tools to help
traders, bankers, and analysts better mine the wealth of
financial data available on the Web. Kodak (EK)
is investigating whether the
technologies can help consumers more easily sort digital
photo collections. NASA is testing ways to correlate
scientific data and maps so scientists can more efficiently
carry out planetary exploration simulation activities.
Web is in many ways in its infancy, but its potential to
transform how businesses and individuals correlate
information is huge, analysts say. The market for the
broader family of products and services that encompasses the
Semantic Web could surge to more than $50 billion in 2010
from $2.2 billion in 2006, according to a 2006 report by
Mills Davis at consulting firm Project10X.
Data Worth a Thousand Pictures
other analysts say it will take longer for the market to
reach $50 billion, most agree that the impact of the
Semantic Web will be wide-ranging. The Project10X study
found that semantic tools are being developed by more than
190 companies, including Adobe (ADBE),
and Sony (SNE).
enthusiasts is Patrick Cosgrove, director of Kodak's
Photographic Sciences & Technology Center, who is, not
surprisingly, also a photo aficionado. He boasts more than
50,000 digital snapshots in his personal collection. Each
year he creates a calendar for his family that requires him
to wade through the year's photos, looking for the right
image for each month. It's a laborious task, but he and his
colleagues aim to make it easier.
involves taking data captured when a digital photo is taken,
such as date, time, and even GPS coordinates, and using it
to help consumers find specific images—say a photo of mom at
last year's Memorial Day picnic at the beach. Right now,
much of that detail, such as GPS coordinates, is expressed
as raw data. But Semantic Web technologies could help Kodak
translate that information into something more useful, such
as what specific GPS coordinates mean—whether it's
Yellowstone National Park or Grandma's house up the street.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
Dirty Tricks Played on Job Seekers
Job hunters using Monster.com, the employment Web site
owned by Monster Worldwide, received fake job offers by e-mail that asks for
their Bank of America account information. The e-mail contains personal
information collected when hackers tricked Monster.com customers into
downloading a virus in a fake job-seeking tool, according to researchers at
Symantec, the world's biggest maker of security software.
Rochelle Garner, "Monster.com Users Get Fake Offers And Request," The
Washington Post, August 23, 2007, Page D04 ---
Powerful Business Professors
"Powerful Profs: As business schools gain visibility, star professors
gain influence that extends outside the classroom to boardrooms, the best-seller
lists, and beyond," by Dan Macsai, Business Week, August 22, 2007 ---
What finance professor won the American Accounting Association's 2007 Notable
Contributions to Accounting Literature Award?
Answer --- My
Letter to Kate
What one of
them (well a pretender anyway) moved on to Hollywood?
Hollywood on April 30, 2038 ---
It's been 10 years since IBM's Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in chess. A
prominent philosopher asks what the match meant
"Higher Games," Daniel C. Dennet, MIT's Technology Review,
September/October 2007 ---
In the popular imagination,
chess isn't like a spelling bee or
Trivial Pursuit, a competition to
see who can hold the most facts in
memory and consult them quickly. In
chess, as in the arts and sciences,
there is plenty of room for beauty,
subtlety, and deep originality.
Chess requires brilliant thinking,
supposedly the one feat that would
be--forever--beyond the reach of any
computer. But for a decade, human
beings have had to live with the
fact that one of our species' most
celebrated intellectual summits--the
title of world chess champion--has
to be shared with a machine, Deep
Blue, which beat Garry Kasparov in a
highly publicized match in 1997. How
could this be? What lessons could be
gleaned from this shocking upset?
Did we learn that machines could
actually think as well as the
smartest of us, or had chess been
exposed as not such a deep game
The following years saw two other
human-machine chess matches that
stand out: a hard-fought draw
between Vladimir Kramnik and Deep
Fritz in Bahrain in 2002 and a draw
between Kasparov and Deep Junior in
New York in 2003, in a series of
games that the New York City Sports
Commission called "the first World
Chess Championship sanctioned by
both the Fédération Internationale
des Échecs (FIDE), the international
governing body of chess, and the
International Computer Game
The verdict that computers are the
equal of human beings in chess could
hardly be more official, which makes
the caviling all the more pathetic.
The excuses sometimes take this
form: "Yes, but machines don't play
chess the way human beings play
chess!" Or sometimes this: "What the
machines do isn't
playing chess at all." Well, then,
be really playing chess?
This is not a
trivial question. The best computer
chess is well nigh indistinguishable
from the best human chess, except
for one thing:
when to accept a draw. Computers--at
least currently existing
computers--can't be bored or
embarrassed, or anxious about losing
the respect of the other players,
and these are aspects of life that
human competitors always have to
contend with, and sometimes even
exploit, in their games. Offering or
accepting a draw, or resigning, is
the one decision that opens the
hermetically sealed world of chess
to the real world, in which life is
short and there are things more
important than chess to think about.
This boundary crossing can be
simulated with an arbitrary rule, or
by allowing the computer's handlers
to step in. Human players often try
to intimidate or embarrass their
human opponents, but this is like
the covert pushing and shoving that
goes on in soccer matches. The
imperviousness of computers to this
sort of gamesmanship means that if
you beat them at all, you have to
beat them fair and square--and isn't
that just what Kasparov and Kramnik
were unable to do?
Yes, but so
what? Silicon machines can now play
chess better than any protein
machines can. Big deal. This calm
and reasonable reaction, however, is
hard for most people to sustain.
They don't like the idea that their
brains are protein machines. When
Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997,
many commentators were tempted to
insist that its brute-force search
entirely unlike the exploratory
processes that Kasparov used when he
conjured up his chess moves. But
that is simply not so. Kasparov's
brain is made of organic materials
and has an architecture notably
unlike that of Deep Blue, but it is
still, so far as we know, a
that has an
outstanding array of heuristic
pruning techniques that keep it from
wasting time on unlikely branches.
True, there's no doubt that investment in research and development has a different profile in the two cases; Kasparov has methods of extracting good design principles from past games, so that he can recognize, and decide to ignore, huge portions of the branching tree of possible game continuations that Deep Blue had to canvass seriatim. Kasparov's reliance on this "insight" meant that the shape of his search trees--all the nodes explicitly evaluated--no doubt differed dramatically from the shape of Deep Blue's, but this did not constitute an entirely different means of choosing a move. Whenever Deep Blue's exhaustive searches closed off a type of avenue that it had some means of recognizing, it could reuse that research whenever appropriate, just like Kasparov. Much of this analytical work had been done for Deep Blue by its designers, but Kasparov had likewise benefited from hundreds of thousands of person-years of chess exploration transmitted to him by players, coaches, and books.
It is interesting in this regard to contemplate the suggestion made by Bobby Fischer, who has proposed to restore the game of chess to its intended rational purity by requiring that the major pieces be randomly placed in the back row at the start of each game (randomly, but in mirror image for black and white, with a white-square bishop and a black-square bishop, and the king between the rooks). Fischer Random Chess would render the mountain of memorized openings almost entirely obsolete, for humans and machines alike, since they would come into play much less than 1 percent of the time. The chess player would be thrown back onto fundamental principles; one would have to do more of the hard design work in real time. It is far from clear whether this change in rules would benefit human beings or computers more. It depends on which type of chess player is relying most heavily on what is, in effect, rote memory.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on the shocking future of education technology can be
Bob Jensen's threads on edutainment can be found at
If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine,
can you notify the police by entering your Pin # in reverse?
Oops! Won’t work
But it's a great idea.
And perhaps robbers could be discouraged by thinking it is possible, but the
truth generally spreads faster among the bad guys than it does the good guys.
We’re staring down the barrel of another academic
year. Time for a refresher course in professional deportment — by which I mean
“The Ten Crack Commandments,” by The Notorious B.I.G.
Paul Ford, Inside Higher Ed, August 28, 2007 ---
Accounting Professors in Support of Online Testing That, Among Other
Things, Reduces Cheating
These same professors became widely known for their advocacy of self-learning in
place of lecturing
"In Support of the E-Test," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, August
29, 2007 ---
of testing through the computer often argue that it’s
difficult to tell if students are doing their own work. It’s
also unclear to some professors whether using the technology
is worth their while.
A new study makes the argument
that giving electronic tests can actually reduce cheating
and save faculty time.
Catanach Jr. and Noah Barsky, both associate professors of
accounting at the Villanova School of Business, came to that
conclusion after speaking with faculty members and analyzing
the responses of more than 100 students at Villanova and
Philadelphia University. Both Catanach and Barsky teach a
course called Principles of Managerial Accounting that
utilizes the WebCT Vista e-learning platform. The professors
also surveyed undergraduates at Philadelphia who took tests
Villanova course follows a pattern of Monday lecture,
Wednesday case assignment, Friday assessment. The first two
days require in-person attendance, while students can check
in Friday from wherever they are.
used to make sense to me why at business schools you have
Friday classes,” Catanach said. “As an instructor it’s
frustrating because 30 percent of the class won’t show up,
so you have to redo material. We said, how can we make that
day not lose its effectiveness?”
he and Barsky determined, was to make all electronically
submitted group work due on Fridays and have that be
electronic quiz day. That’s where academic integrity came
into play. Since the professors weren’t requiring students
to be present to take the exams, they wanted to deter
cheating. Catanach said programs like the one he uses
mitigate the effectiveness of looking up answers or
electronic form, questions are given to students in random
order so that copying is difficult. Professors can change
variables within a problem to make sure that each test is
unique while also ensuring a uniform level of difficulty.
The programs also measure how much time a student spends on
each question, which could signal to an instructor that a
student might have slowed to use outside resources.
Backtracking on questions generally is not permitted.
Catanach said he doesn’t pay much attention to time spent on
individual questions. And since he gives his students a
narrow time limit to finish their electronic quizzes,
consulting outside sources would only lead students to be
rushed by the end of the exam, he added.
percent of students who took part in the study reported that
the electronic testing system reduced the likelihood of
their cheating during the course.
Satris, director of the Center for Academic Integrity at
Clemson University, said he applauds the use of technology
to deter academic dishonesty. Students who take these
courses might think twice about copying or plagiarizing on
other exams, he said.
to see this program working,” Satris said. “It does an end
run around cheating.”
also makes the case that both faculty and students save time
with e-testing. Catanach is up front about the initial time
investment: For instructors to make best use of the testing
programs, they need to create a “bank” of exam questions and
code them by topic, learning objectives and level of
difficulty. That way, the program knows how to distribute
questions. (He said instructors should budget roughly 10
extra hours per week during the course for this task.)
he said, comes later in the term. In the study, professors
reported recouping an average of 80 hours by using the
e-exams. Faculty don’t have to hand-grade tests (that often
being a deterrent for the Friday test, Catanach notes), and
graduate students or administrative staff can help prepare
the test banks, the report points out.
are taken from afar, class time can be used for other
purposes. Students are less likely to ask about test results
during sessions, the study says, because the computer
program gives them immediate results and points to pages
where they can find out why their answers were incorrect.
Satris said this type of system likely dissuades students
from grade groveling, because the explanations are all there
on the computer. He said it also make sense in other ways.
“I like that
professors can truly say, ‘I don’t know what’s going to be
on the test. There’s a question bank; it’s out of my
control,’ ” he said.
there’s the common argument about administrative efficiency:
An institution can keep a permanent electronic record of its
results showed that Villanova students, who Catanach said
were more likely to have their own laptop computers and be
familiar with e-technology, responded better to the
electronic testing system than did students at Philadelphia,
who weren’t as tech savvy. Both Catanach and Satris said the
e-testing programs are not likely to excite English and
philosophy professors, whose disciplines call for essay
questions rather than computer-graded content.
testing perspective, Catanach said the programs can be most
helpful for faculty with large classes who need to save time
on grading. That’s why the programs have proven popular at
community colleges in some of the larger states, he said.
for almost anyone who wants to have periodic assessment,” he
said. “How much does the midterm and final motivate students
to keep up with material? It doesn’t. It motivates cramming.
This is a tool to help students keep up with the material.”
August 29, 2007 reply from Stokes, Len
I am also a strong proponent of active learning
strategies. I have the luxury of a small class size. Usually fewer than 30
so I can adapt my classes to student interaction and can have periodic
assessment opportunities as it fits the flow of materials rather than the
calendar. I still think a push toward smaller classes with more faculty face
time is better than computer tests. One lecture and one case day does not
mean active learning. It is better than no case days but it is still a
lecture day. I don’t have real lecture days every day involves some
interactive material from the students.
While I admit I can’t pick up all trends in grading
the tests, but I do pick up a lot of things so I have tendency to have a
high proportion of essays and small problems. I then try to address common
errors in class and also can look at my approach to teaching the material.
August 29, 2007 reply from Patricia Doherty
Luxury really says it. I don't have that few
students even in Summer term any more. During Fall term this year I have 153
students registered currently, in 3 sections. And as the coordinator, I have
the other 100 students registered for my course to think about too. Essays
and problems are just not practical.
Computer Grading of Essays
August 30, 2007 reply from Bob Jensen
Numbers of students are clearly factors to consider in deciding whether
to switch to a more active learning format. Testing is not the only problem.
The other problem is student messaging onsite and online. Active learning
tends to increase communications between instructors and students. The BAM
approach also increased communications between students themselves. One
feature of the BAM program is that students may seek out answers from anyone
anywhere while working on the BAM case. This is more realistic in the sense
that this is how accountants on the job solve assigned tasks they don’t
Another factor to consider is the level of the course. I don’t think the
BAM approach works very well in the first basic courses where students, like
football players, must first learn the skills of blocking and tackling
before attempting to apply those skills in a game or in life. I don’t know
of any colleges that had success with BAM in the first two semesters of
Actually, Catanach, Grinaker, and Croll were teaching some relatively
large sections of Intermediate Accounting when they developed the active
learning BAM Case (Hydromate) with its self-learning features and
They did make use of take home tests in those days, so the testing was
not multiple choice. Now they use E-tests.
Although I do not know of any accounting faculty who make use of essay
and problem grading software, there are systems available for computer
grading of essays such as the software that is used to grade GMAT essay
questions. A sociology professor has developed (SAGrader) and used such
grading software with purported success in grading essay examinations ---
August 29, 2007 reply from Richard Campbell
I believe in the adage “trust but verify” I have
been after our school to get a license to the Respondus lock down browser:
Blackboard and webct should have this technology
built into their system. Maybe they don’t have a patent on this idea,
Bob Jensen attempts to make a case that self learning is more effective
for metacognitive reasons ---
This document features the research of Tony Catanach, David Croll, Bob
Grinaker, and Noah
Bob Jensen's threads on "Online Education Effectiveness and Testing" are
Bob Jensen's threads on the myths of online education are at
SAT Scores Down Again in 2007: Wealth Up Again
Average scores on the SAT fell this year in critical
reading, mathematics and writing. The writing test only has two years of scoring
history, but for the other tests, this year’s scores marked back-to-back years
of score declines — something that has not happened since 1991.
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, August 29, 2007 ---
SAT Averages by Racial and Ethnic
Critical Reading Score
1-Year Change (Reading)
10-Year Change (Reading)
1-Year Change (Math)
10-Year Change (Math)
1-Year Change (Writing)
year’s total declines are all the more striking because they
large decreases last year, when
the five-point drop in critical reading, to 503, was the
largest decline since 1975 and the two-point drop in
mathematics, to 518, was the largest dip since 1978. Last
year, SAT officials attributed the drops to a decline in the
number of those who took the test more than once, and they
denied strongly that changes in the SAT — especially the
much disliked lengthening of the exam time to make room for
the new writing test — had anything to do with the drop.
. . .
One of the other notable trends in recent years of
SAT data has been that wealthier students appear to be making up larger
shares of test takers. This year continued the trend, which attracts
attention because there appears to be a clear relationship between family
income and test scores. The means that follow are the totals of all three
parts of the SAT.
Bob Jensen's threads on grades versus test score hurdles for college
20 timeless money rules
Money Magazine collected the best advice from some of
the smartest investors (and other people) who have ever lived.
Carla Fried, Money Magazine, August 2007 ---
"10 reasons people make stupid decisions," Bad Analysis,
October 10, 2006 ---
"Not So Smart: In an era of easy money, the pros forgot,"
Business Week Cover Story, September 3, 2007 ---
Other articles in the September 3, 2007 edition of Business Week:
The Prize In The Parking Lot
Why Johnny Can't Speed
Tacos Without Borders
The Laptop Of Luxury
Slide Show: The Hunk Of Junk Hall Of Fame
A Love Song's Ringing Success
How Repetto Tiptoed Back
Where The Walls Have Ears
Builders' Role In The Housing Crisis
You Can Always Reject A Broker's Advice
Staying On Top Of Airplane Maintenance
Workplace Stress And Suicide
Bob Jensen's helpers for investors are at
Remember, though, that everyone probably deserves an
Emperor for something.
Peter Berger, "The Fourteenth Annual Emperor Awards," The Irascible Professor,
August 22, 2007 ---
As we gear up for September, our Emperor Awards
celebrate the outstanding education achievements of the preceding twelve
months. They commemorate both the monarch who posed proudly in his
underwear, and his admirers, by honoring their kindred spirits in the
Our first presentation, the Archimedes Eureka
Honorarium, spotlights the lively field of education research. Last year's
Eureka hailed the startling revelation that students who can comprehend
"complex" high school reading are more likely to be "ready for college
reading." Eureka 2007 recognizes a British team's groundbreaking
investigation into adolescent decision-making and "why teenagers act the way
they do." These intrepid scientists determined not only that children's
brains "develop" as they grow up, but also, in a finding certain to shock
both parents and teachers, that puberty involves "a whole new wave of
Consistent with education experts relentless
pursuit of the obvious, the Emperors Academy also presents its companion
Sisyphus Prize for Perpetual Research. This year's finalists include the
authors of a daring study which found that kids who choose to wear hats and
shirts advertising alcohol are "more likely to begin drinking" than kids who
don't choose to wear hats and shirts advertising alcohol. Based on this
landmark revelation that advertising influences consumers, Anheuser Busch is
reportedly considering airing commercials during the Super Bowl.
This impressive contribution notwithstanding, the
2007 Sisyphus salutes researchers who determined that preschool kids whose
parents drink and smoke are more likely to choose alcohol and cigarette
accessories for their Barbie dolls than preschoolers whose parents don't
drink and smoke. Honorable mention goes to the "mostly college educated"
parents participating in the study for being "surprised" that four-year-olds
"mimic" their parents' behavior.
Continued in article
The Paris Hilton Activism Navel Ring celebrates undergraduates who "learned
about the homeless experience the hard way."
The "hard way" consisted of camping out on the
college green for a night in an exercise similar to what was once known as
camping out in the backyard for a night. Cardboard boxes were situated on
and under tarps "to ward off raindrops," and in a sacrificial effort to
replicate the "plight" of the homeless, students were permitted only
sleeping bags and their pillows and forced to survive until dawn without
"cell phones or other electronics."
If it rained or if music from the dorms sent up a party signal, these homeless
students were encouraged to go back inside to more comforting and familiar
surroundings. Students should not be encouraged to catch colds or miss good
Fabio's Grad School Rulez (not humor) ---
"Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits," by Katie Hafner,
The New York Times, August 19, 2007 ---
"CIA, FBI Computers Used for Wikipedia Edits," by Randall
Mikkelsen, The Washington Post, August 16, 2007 ---
"CIA and Vatican Edit Wikipedia Entries," TheAge.com, August 18, 2007 ---
Wikipedia installed software to trace the source of edits and new modules.
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
Beautiful and Not-So-Beautiful New Technology
Bravo Yahoo: Email in a Web Browser
Two years is a really long time to test a software
product, but that's about how long it took for Yahoo to finish its slick new
version of Yahoo Mail, the popular email program you access from a Web browser.
This new Yahoo Mail entered its beta, or test, stage in September 2005, and this
week it emerged in finished form. The result is a polished, fairly powerful
email program that I prefer to Google's much-hyped Gmail, which is undergoing an
even longer gestation. It has been in beta status since April 2004. I've been
testing the new Yahoo Mail on both Windows and Macintosh computers. It has some
downsides, but it beats Gmail, in my view, both in terms of features and in
terms of its ability to act like a standard computer program rather than a Web
page, something for which Gmail often gets more credit. A closer competitor to
Yahoo Mail is actually Microsoft's Hotmail, now called Windows Live Hotmail. But
Yahoo tops Hotmail, too, in my opinion. The new Yahoo Mail, which works in
Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows, and in Firefox on the Macintosh, is
now more than just an email program. Like Gmail, but unlike Hotmail, it has a
built-in instant-messaging module. You can choose to communicate with any of
your contacts via a real-time chat, right from within Yahoo Mail, as long as
that contact is online and has an IM account on either the Yahoo or Microsoft
instant-messaging networks. You don't need to be running your IM program.
Walter S. Mossberg, "Years in the Making, Powerful Yahoo Mail Is Worth the
Wait," The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2007; Page B1 ---
Hewlet-Packard should be able to do better than this
This week, I tested a product that marries prints with
the digital frame: Hewlett-Packard's $249 HP Photosmart A826 Home Photo Center.
The A826 is the latest in H-P's series of compact countertop home snapshot
printers, meant to turn out small photos quickly. But it has an unusual form,
with a large seven-inch screen that also allows for images to be displayed in
slide shows, like a digital picture frame. This touch-screen also lets users
edit shots using a finger or stylus. Pressing one button prints the image in
about a minute and a half. This new model, due in stores this weekend, is meant
to work as a home photo kiosk, so it's a bit bigger than H-P's compact photo
printers, which have built-in handles for portability and take up less space.
The A826 is also pricier than these smaller printers -- $70 more than the newest
model. I liked the idea behind this photo printer, editing station and digital
frame. Its large screen, 5.6 inches of which are used for the photos, was a
welcome change to most photo printers with preview screens that can't be seen
without squinting. But I was disappointed by some of the A826's features. The
newly added ability to draw on images, for example, yielded results that looked
fine on-screen but printed out looking like scribble. Removing red eye didn't
seem to improve images on the screen; only when printed did these shots appear
red-eye free. And the touch-screen wasn't as sensitive as I would've liked,
requiring a few tries to get some buttons to respond.
Katherine Boehret, "Printer, Digital Picture Frame in One New H-P Photo Center
Prints, Edits and Adds Personal Touch to Shots," The Wall Street Journal,
August 29, 2007; Page D8 ---
I found the A826's most useful photo-enhancing
option to be the ability to add captions to shots. These can be entered by
using an on-screen keyboard, choosing from five fonts and six colors. The
caption can be dragged around the screen to test where it will look best.
These typed fonts looked professional and neat, especially compared with my
own drawn-on editing.
Printing on the HP Photosmart A826 worked without a
problem. It comes with five 5-by-7-inch sheets of paper enough ink for 20
4-by-6-inch prints. Value packs of paper and ink for 120 4-by-6-inch prints
cost $35. The printer automatically detects whether it's loaded with photo
paper measuring 5-by-7 or 4-by-6 inches, and prints accordingly. A
5-by-7-inch shot takes a bit longer to print, but looked rather good.
The HP Photosmart A826 seems like it was designed
with good intentions, and its large touch-screen is an improvement all on
its own. But too many features of this device didn't work the way they
should, from red eyes that didn't appear fixed on-screen to the touch screen
that didn't always respond right away. H-P will find an eager audience with
this home photo kiosk, but it needs improvement.
Norway Versus India History
India has a much more scholarly history while the Vikings were plundering
and raping, some minor inventions of my ancestors should not be overlooked:
You can read
more about our deck-mounted whaling cannon at
Norwegian inventions include aerosol spray and the gas turbine ---
ancestors had an inferiority complex because of the darn Swedes ---
inventing the wheel barrow so neighboring Swedes could walk on two legs, our
major contributions to the world were Ole, Lena, and Sven. But these were
more sophisticated contributions that originated among Norwegian immigrant
farmers in the Midwestern states of the USA and cannot be attributed to our
ancestors in the Old Country ---
AECM, Accounting Education using Computers and Multimedia [mailto:AECM@LISTSERV.LOYOLA.EDU]
On Behalf Of Pathak,
Sent: Sunday, August 26,
2007 3:02 PM
COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC
that such tidbits may help generate a meaningful discussion like many
others in this list on the contributions purported to have been made in
INDIA celebrating its 60th anniversary.:
Some of the following facts may be known
to you. These facts were recently published in a German magazine, which
deals with WORLD HISTORY FACTS ABOUT INDIA.
1. India never invaded any country in her
last 1000 years of history.
2. India invented the Number system. Zero
was invented by Aryabhatta.
3. The world's first University was
established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all
over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda
built in the 4 th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of
ancient India in the field of education.
4. According to the Forbes magazine,
Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software.
5. Ayurveda is the earliest school of
medicine known to humans.
6. Although western media portray modern
images of India as poverty striken and underdeveloped through political
corruption, India was once the richest empire on earth.
7. The art of navigation was born in the
river Sindh 5000 years ago. The very word "Navigation" is derived from
the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH.
8. The value of pi was first calculated by
Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is now k! nown as the
Pythagorean Theorem. British scholars have at last in 1999 officially
published that Budhayan's works dates to the 6 th Century which is long
before the European mathematicians.
9. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came
from India . Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11 th
Century; the largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106
whereas Indians used numbers as big as 10 53.
10. According to the Gemmological
Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source of
diamonds to the world.
11. USA based IEEE has proved what has
been a century-old suspicion amongst academics that the pioneer of
wireless communication was Professor Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.
12. The earliest reservoir and dam for
irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
13. Chess was invented in India .
14. Sushruta is the father of surgery.
2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted surgeries
like cesareans, cataract, fractures and urinary stones. Usage of
anaesthesia was well known in ancient India .
15. When many cultures in the world were
only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established
Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley ( Indus Valley Civilisation).
16. The place value system, the decimal
system was developed in India in 100 BC.
Quotes about India .
We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us
how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could
have been made.
India is the cradle of the human race, the
birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of
legend and the great grand mother of tradition.
If there is one place on the face of earth
where all dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest
days when man began the dream of existence, it is India .
scholar Romain Rolland.
India conquered and dominated China
culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier
across her border.
Chinese ambassador to USA )
BUT, if we don't see even a glimpse of
that great India in the India that we see today, it clearly means that
we are not working up to our potential; and that if we do, we could once
again be an evershining and inspiring country setting a bright path for
rest of the world to follow.
American Editor- Managerial Auditing Journal (EMERALD) &
Professor of Accounting & Systems
& Finance Area
School of Business
N9B 3P4, ON
Voice: 519.253.3000 Ext3131
"Teaching Moments," by Melissa Ballard, Inside Higher Ed,
August 24, 2007 ---
College Residence Hall Fire Risks are Flaming Up
Fire safety probably is the last thing on the minds of
parents when they send their sons and daughters off to college. However, a
recent report  from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes
that fires in campus residences are on the rise at the same time that the number
of structure fires, in general, is falling. Over the past three decades
structure fires in the United States have declined from just over a million per
year to around 500,000 per year thanks to improved building codes, stricter code
enforcement, and better construction techniques. The number of fires in college
residence halls, and fraternity and sorority houses declined at a slower rate
from 1980 to 1998 (from about 3,200 per year in 1980 to about 1,800 per year in
1998). However, since 1999 the number of residence hall and fraternity/sorority
fires has risen to the 3,300 per year range. On average seven civilians die and
46 civilians are injured in these fires each year, and they cause some $25
million in direct property damage.
Mark Shapiro, "Residence Hall and Fraternity/Sorority House Fires a Growing
Threat," The Irascible Professor, August 30, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on
higher education controversies are at
"Coach Caught By an E-Mail Trail," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed,
August 23, 2007 ---
National Collegiate Athletic Association punishes anywhere
from a handful to a couple dozen colleges a year for
violating its rules, and the reports about the association’s
actions are usually pretty dull. But every once in a while,
the cases can read like a cautionary tale about one aspect
of American society or another. And so it was Wednesday when
the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions
penalized Purdue University
for a serious case of academic fraud in its women’s
of the situation, as described in
the NCAA panel’s report on the case,
is that a former assistant coach at
Purdue, whom the university fired last year, broke NCAA
rules by “partially researching and composing” a two-part
sociology paper for a player and then lied (as did the
player) to university officials who were investigating the
alleged breaches. The university began investigating in
February 2006 after another former assistant coach told
Purdue officials that she had overhead the player say that a
coach had helped her with a paper. But as often happens in
cases like this, the coach in question minimized the
significance of her actions, telling investigators that she
had not “independently” done any research and that she had
made only “non-substantive revision(s)” of the assignment.
The player, too, denied that she had received substantive
help from the coach.
It is not
uncommon in the course of such investigations for college or
NCAA officials to run into he said/she said disputes. But in
this case, Purdue recovered e-mails and instant messages
that the assistant coach had deleted from her e-mail account
the day after her colleague reported the alleged wrongdoing
(but that were retained on her computer hard drive) — and
they told the tale.
In an e-mail
message one late afternoon in late October 2005, the former
coach sent the player a one-page attachment and wrote in the
body of the e-mail: “Here are some thoughts that should
help. Make sure you read it and add your own info from class
notes or any textbooks you use. All of my info is from the
internet and what I remember, which may not be the important
points from class or what your professor has stressed in
class. Just make sure you double check everything.”
night, the coach sent another draft of the same paper (two
pages long this time) and a note that said: “Throw away the
other one. This one is better and more organized. I don’t
know when this is due but if you can bring it to me after
you revise it I’ll look over it. You can change and add
things and send it back to me if you want.”
later, when the second part of the two-part assignment was
due, the coach sent a six-page document and the following
note: “Hey, you still have to do the title page and the
reference page. I have attached everything you need to do
those (two) things. Make sure you reread the paper and make
it sound like you. I wrote some notes on the bottom of the
paper. I looked at your schedule and see you have some time
in the morning. Make sure you work on this before you turn
it in. Good luck and I hope this helps!”
messaging exchange from early November offered seemingly
incontrovertible evidence that the player in question had
been a willing participant in the scheme. The coach wrote:
“Hey Girl! I will be finished around 9 p.m.…”
from the athlete: “Stop cakin’ and finish the
electronic communications between the player and the coach,
the NCAA committee said in its report, “were tantamount to
the proverbial ’smoking gun,’ confirming that [the] former
assistant coach committed academic fraud with the full
knowledge and complicity of [the] former student-athlete.”
said Josephine R. Potuto, chair of the Division I Committee
on Infractions and a law professor at the University of
Nebraska at Lincoln, offers an “object lesson in why coaches
should not involve themselves in any way in [players’]
academic work,” adding, “That’s what academic advisers and
tutors are there for.”
Continued in article
‘Confessions of a Spoilsport’
William C. Dowling is, first and foremost, a professor
of English, specializing in 17th and 18th century British and American
literature. But like a relatively small number of established faculty members,
he has developed another highly visible, non-academic specialty, as a critic of
big-time college sports. Dowling was among a band of professors, students and
alumni who led an (ultimately failed) effort to get Rutgers University to drop
out of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I-A athletics during
the mid-1990s, and like many such campaigns, it exacted a toll on Dowling.
He recounts his
experiences in a new book, Confessions of a Spoilsport: My Life and Hard Times
Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University,
published this month by Penn State University
Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, August 27, 2007 ---
It's Still a Shell Game in Terms of Division 1-A Male Athletes
While the NCAA’s numbers do show that
athletes in general graduated at a higher rate than other students at
their institutions, Division I male athletes in general fell short of
other male students (56 vs. 58 percent), and football players (55
percent) and men’s basketball players (46 percent) were lower still. And
the numbers were even lower at the Division I-A level, the NCAA’s top
competitive level, where 41 percent of men’s basketball players and 42
percent of baseball players earned their degrees in six years. (Granted,
those numbers are all generally on the rise, as NCAA officials are
rightly quick to note.)
Doug Lederman, "Graduation Rate Grumbling," Inside Higher Ed,
November 10, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education are at
In Defense of College Rankings
Rankings like those U.S. News & World
Report released this month have traditionally been the province
of the four-year sector, particularly the residential colleges
that compete for traditional-age students, funding, and
prestige. The two-year colleges that educate 45 percent of
American undergraduates are nowhere to be found. It’s easy to
see why: the U.S. News list is based on wealth, exclusivity, and
prestige, and community colleges have none of those things.
Community college students, who tend to enroll in institutions
close to home, are also less likely to pay $9.95 for a list of
hundreds of colleges nationwide.Given the manifest shortcomings
of the U.S. News methodology, this may be a good thing. But the
lack of two-year rankings has a downside: There are few
mechanisms by which community colleges can be held accountable
and compete, no way for students and policymakers to know which
colleges are doing the best job educating students and which are
not. Students like Misty can’t know ahead of time if their local
community college is truly prepared to help them. And if it’s
not, it doesn’t have strong incentives to improve.Until
recently, such rankings were technically unfeasible because
there was no data on which to base them. That’s changed with the
advent of measures like the
College Survey of Student Engagement.
More than half of all community colleges
nationwide — over 500 — have participated in CCSSE over the last
five years. The survey gauges the extent to which colleges use
research-proven educational practices to help students learn and
succeed. The results are clear: some two-year colleges are doing
a much better job than others.
Kevin Carry, "Rankings Help Community Colleges and Their
Students," Inside Higher Ed, August 27, 2007 ---
College ranking controversies
are discussed at
Internal Control Breakdown at North
Carolina A&T University
A state audit found that $400,000 in funds from vending
machines at North Carolina
State A&T University, which was supposed to go to student
aid and reducing campus debt, instead went to a spending account for
then-chancellor James Renick, the
Associated Press reported. Renick, currently a
senior official at the American Council on Education, then spent the money on
art work, travel by his wife, and a $150,000 annuity for an unidentified faculty
member, the audit found. The AP was unable to reach Renick but he has previously
defended management at the university. The audit also found $500,000 in
questionable spending by a fellowship program, supported by federal funds, for
engineering faculty members. According to the AP, the audit said that the
program’s manager spent 41 nights in hotels at the program’s expense in 2005-6,
at an average cost of $328 a night.
Inside Higher Ed, August 27, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on accountability problems in higher
education are at
Motivating Students to Be More Politically Engaged
Survey after survey reports that American students
— while concerned about the world around them — are apathetic about politics.
Events like Katrina or Darfur spark activism and voluntarism. And to be sure,
college Democrats and Republicans are good at organizing competing speakers. But
voter registration (and voting), turnouts at town hall meetings and knowledge of
the political process remain embarrassingly low. Research that will be presented
this week at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting, which
starts today in Chicago, suggests that political engagement can be taught. In a
project led by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,
researchers identified a series of courses that mixed more traditional political
science education with participatory politics — not in the sense of organizing
rallies for presidential candidates but with activities that go beyond formal
Scott Jaschik, "Political Engagement 101," Inside Higher Ed, August 30,
session on innovative teaching techniques, Teten described how
he has replaced the textbook with Jon Stewart’s
America the Book,
while other panelists described the use of oral exams in
undergraduate courses, and a variety of strategies to encourage
students to become more involved in their own education.
Scott Jaschik, "Jon Stewart, Oral Exams and More," Inside
Higher Ed, August 31, 2007 ---
Talk about left of the leftests bias in the classroom!
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies
According to Forbes Magazine, who are the five most powerful women in the world?
Forbes magazine releases its annual ranking of the
100 most powerful women. The chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, is at the
top, and Condoleezza Rice is No. 4. But more than half the women on the list are
business leaders, not government leaders. Rounding out the top five are
Secretary of State Rice and Indra Nooyi, CEO and Chairman of Pepsico. Others
include Melinda Gates, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, chief executives of several
multinational companies, and Oprah Winfrey.
"'Forbes' Ranks the World's Powerful Women," NPR, August 31, 2007 ---
How do for-profit-colleges and universities differ fundamentally from
traditional colleges and universities?
beginning of their new book on for-profit higher education,
William G. Tierney and Guilbert C. Hentschke talk about the
academic division between “lumpers” and “splitters,” the former
focused on examining different entities or phenomena as
variations on a theme and the latter focused on classifying
entities or phenomena as truly distinct. In
New Players, Different Game: Understanding the Rise of
For-Profit Colleges and Universities,
just published by Johns Hopkins University
Press, Tierney and Hentschke consider the ways for-profit
colleges are part of or distinct from the rest of higher
education. Tierney and Hentschke are professors at the Rossier
School of Education at the University of Southern California,
where Tierney is also director of the Center for Higher
Education Policy Analysis. They responded to questions via
e-mail about their new book . . . For-profits are not,
technically, just a ‘technology.’ But they do function in a
manner that is radically different from the manner in which
traditional postsecondary institutions function. For-profits,
like their traditional brethren, come in many shapes and sizes —
some are gigantic (such as the University of Phoenix) and others
are small barber’s colleges. What differentiates them from
traditional institutions is that they have a different
decision-making model, different ways to develop and deliver the
model, and different ways to measure success. The point is not
that all for-profits utilize distance learning (because they do
not), but that they eschew the established norms of the academy
and pursue success in quite different ways.
Scott Jaschik, "New Players, Different Game," Inside Higher
Education, August 30, 2007 ---
"The 20th Century University
Is Obsolete," by Rev. John P. Minogue, Inside Higher Ed,
September 5, 2006 ---
Higher education, like the human species itself, is
the product of evolutionary forces that produce structures — the DNA if you
will — that enable one variant to thrive and cause another to falter.
The life form known as higher education was hatched
in a monastic cocoon in the 10th century. From this beginning, higher
education institutions took shape as an evolving species, changing form and
mission in response to external forces. Familiar milestones on this
evolutionary journey include secularization, development of academic
disciplines, evolution of administrative structures, growth of the research
university, and the concepts of academic freedom and tenure.
With the dawn of the Knowledge Age, the evolution
of higher education has drastically accelerated so that the pace of change
is now measured in years, not centuries. Higher education today is a global
commodity with all the competition and product diversification that entails,
including the splitting of the production from the distribution of
knowledge. This is much like the movie industry, where a few companies make
movies and many companies distribute them in theaters, on television, and on
Research I universities that produce new knowledge
thrive in this new environment, but they are now dependent upon strong
financial links with the economic agendas of companies and countries. They
are no longer the sole citadels for the production of new knowledge, but
rather just one node on a global network of corporate and national R&D
The transformation of Higher Education Life Forms
on the distribution side of knowledge is even more dramatic, evolving a new
species that concentrates simply on distribution of currently available
This new species features a small core of knowledge
engineers who wrap courses into a degree to be distributed in cookie-cutter
institutions and delivered by working professionals, not academics. There is
no tenured faculty, no academic processes; the sole focus is on bottom-line
economic results. These 21st century institutions are not burdened with
esoteric pursuits of knowledge; rather, they focus on professional degrees
for adults that have a fairly clear market value for a given career path.
The exemplars of this new species are the
for-profit universities, which are cutting their teeth on the weakness of
the 20th century universities. Though new at the game, in a few years they
will be capable of hunting with lethal success. This new species is
market-driven. Its key survival mechanism is the ability to rapidly evolve
to new environments and to position in the market. Since they do not carry
tenured faculty, they can rapidly jettison disciplines of study that do not
penetrate market. Since they do not have academic processes, they can
rapidly bring to market programs that can capture market share.
Certainly, not all for-profit providers have the
core capabilities to compete long term in the market. Some emerge quickly
and as quickly become extinct, but others are proving quite adept at drawing
strength from this globally competitive market.
As mass, longevity and a voracious need for large
quantities of prey (resources) proved lethal to the dinosaurs in the stark
environments created by global darkening, so the universities of the early
20th century may face serious thinning or perhaps even extinction in the new
globally competitive environment of higher education. Universities rooted in
the early 20th century are intrinsically inefficient in today’s environment
of market valuation and brand identity. Given the current internal structure
of tenure and faculty governance, these universities lack the capability to
respond to market forces in a timely fashion — to close out product lines no
longer playing in the market and rapidly bring new and more efficient
product to market.
Still, these once elegant life forms persevere, but
for reasons having nothing to do with innate capability to embrace change.
Instead, at the undergraduate level it is the instinctual and perhaps
irrational desire of many parents to see their children prosper in a
traditional liberal arts environment, and so their willingness to spend
inordinate amounts of money for education. At the graduate level, the “brand
name” is the driver. The reputation of leading institutions, established in
an era before global market competition, is based on a footing much
different from that used today to obtain market position, but it still works
to sustain the life form, at least among a few elite universities.
In addition, traditional universities have
benefited from some serious slack in the evolutionary rope. The Industrial
Age required a few knowledge workers and a lot of folks doing heavy lifting,
whereas the Knowledge Age requires vast numbers of educated workers. Almost
overnight, this has led to a massive spike in global demand for education,
with motivated consumers increasing perhaps 100-fold. What was the privilege
of a few has become the expectation of all.
But global supply falls far short of meeting
demand. With a population of 295 million, the United States has only 15
million active seats in the higher education classroom; China, with a
population of 1.2 billion, has 2 million seats available; Brazil, with a
population 170 million, has 2.5 million seats available.
This imbalance between supply and demand has
creating a robust market for all providers. Suppliers of higher education
simply have to dip their nets in the water to catch students. There is not
yet the fight-to-the death competition for market share, and inefficient
institutions have received a short reprieve from their evolutionary fate.
But at some point, as with all markets, a saturation point will be reached,
with supply outstripping demand — perhaps in 5, perhaps in 15 years. When
this inversion occurs, those life forms with the required flexibility to
quickly adapt to a fiercely competitive environment will survive and the
others will fade from memory.
As there is private health care for those who can
afford to pay at any price point, so there will continue some form of higher
education that will meet the need and the check book of those wealthy enough
to afford it. But for most now driven to higher education to meet the
requirements of the Knowledge Age, it is value (the ratio of perceived
quality over price) that will be the key determinate of what institution
they will choose for their tuition dollar. To further stress the current
market, state funding is not keeping up with inflation or enrollment growth,
forcing higher education institutions to rely more on tuition and donations.
Thus higher education is being pushed to stand on its own financial bottom
rather than be a subsidized commodity, once again forcing the value
So what will be demanded of 20th century
universities to survive when market supply reaches or exceeds demand? As in
every market, those producers that have driven efficiency into their
production system and responsiveness into their market positioning have at
least a change at surviving. But the challenge is daunting because the 20th
century university is trying to play serious catch up in new markets —
adults, women, diversities, the under privileged — while using the same
mentalities that allowed them to attract the 18 to 25 year old male.
As with IBM, which played in the personal computer
market, but really lived in the mainframe business market, there is no fire
in the belly of 20th century universities for these new markets. These
institutions have not changed the way they go about their business to serve
these new markets; and if there has been some change, it has been
accompanied by the widespread grumbling of the faculty: Why do we have to
teach at night? Why do we have to teach at multiple campuses? Why do we have
to provide support services in the evening? Why do we have to teach students
who aren’t educated the way we were? Why do we have to schedule classes so
students can maximize their employment opportunities?
Meanwhile, 20th century universities are running
average price increases twice the inflation rate and carrying multiple
overheads of unproven value to the buying market. Walk into the library of
any university today that has ubiquitous connections to the Internet, and
you will find the stacks empty of both faculty and students. Is the
traditional library a value add or a costly overhead? As with IBM, 20th
century universities believe their brand will sustain price increases. “No
frill, just degree” competitors are producing product without the high cost
of minimalist full-time faculty workloads, large libraries and multiple
staff intensive manual processes. As with the personal computer, will the
buying market ultimately see any difference between the products except the
name on the plastic and the price on the sticker?
What will be the destiny of the current life form
we have called the 20th century university? It consumes far too many
resources for what it returns to the environment, and though there are vast
resources (markets) available, its structures do not let it tap these
resources effectively. Its evolutionary tardiness has provided opportunity
for a new species to take hold — the profit driven university. As the
evolution of the human race has picked up the pace with each passing
millennium, a future life form that has little resemblance to current higher
education life forms will emerge much sooner than the usual eons it takes
for evolution to create the next iteration of life.
The 20th century university is indeed obsolete and
Bob Jensen's threads on
higher education controversies are at
Biased Media: Will PBS ever admit that the greens are biased and
"Make Up Your Own Mine: An impoverished town strikes
gold. George Soros and foreign environmentalists say, leave it in the ground,"
by John Fund, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2007 ---
Tonight, PBS will air "Gold Futures," a film by
Hungary's Tibor Kocsis. The film focuses on residents in Romania's Rosia
Montana, a rural Transylvanian town, who are divided over the benefits of a
proposed gold mine. It also features Gabriel Resources, the Canadian mining
company trying to convince them to relocate so it can dig for a huge gold
deposit estimated at 14.6 million ounces, worth almost $10 billion. PBS
describes the film as a "David-and-Goliath story."
While the film gives time to supporters and
opponents of the mine, it leaves unsaid that half of the villagers voicing
opposition have now either sold their homes or will not have to move,
because they live in a protected area where the village's historic
structures and churches will be preserved. Viewers who see pristine shots of
the Rosia valley won't realize the hills hide a huge, abandoned
communist-era mine, leaking toxic heavy metals into local streams--or that
while the modern mining project will level four hills to create an open pit,
it will also clean up the old mess at no cost to the Romanian treasury.
The other side to the controversy is told in a
new film that will never be shown on PBS, but is nonetheless rattling the
environmental community. "Mine Your Own Business" is a documentary by Irish
filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney. They conclude that the biggest
threat to the people of Rosia Montana "comes from upper-class Western
environmentalism that seeks to keep them poor and unable to clean up the
horrific pollution caused by Ceausescu's mining." Mr. McAleer, a former
Financial Times journalist who has followed the mine battle for seven years,
says he "found that everything the environmentalists were saying about the
project was misleading, exaggerated or quite simply false." He produced his
film on a shoestring $230,000 budget largely provided by Gabriel Resources,
but says he was given complete editorial control.
Continued in article
From the great Becker-Posner Blog on August 26, 2007 ---
The Infrastructure "Crisis"--Posner
Not that it would be a surprise
to find that the nation is spending less than the economically optimal
amount on maintaining the highway system, bridges, and other infrastructure.
Enormous recent growth in the total miles driven on the interstate system
has not been matched by expansion of the system, resulting in a substantial
increases in delay and also in wear and tear. The highway system has
difficulty responding to a need for increased expenditures to preserve road
quality and minimize delay because it is publicly owned, and is financed
largely by taxes. Politicians have trouble raising taxes to pay for projects
the benefits of which will largely be realized after the politicians'
current term of office expires. Since accidents that are due to the collapse
of a bridge or a highway segment, or some equally dramatic demonstration of
a flaw in the highway system itself rather than a mistake by users, are
rare, the likelihood of such an accident occurring within a politician's
political time horizon is low. So there is an incentive to defer maintenance
and thus live (slightly) dangerously rather than raise taxes, the effect of
which will be felt by the taxpayer immediately. By the same token, rather
than raise taxes to enable road repair or rebuilding that will avert any
need for further maintenance for many years, politicians have an incentive
to make frequent cheap repairs, even though the cumulative delay and
accident costs (discounted to present value) may be great, rather than to
take steps to reduce those delays and accidents after their term of office
expires. Furthermore, while state taxes are paid by state residents, only
part of the delay costs resulting from inadequate maintenance are borne by
them because many users of the interstate highway system are nonresidents of
the state that maintains its segment of the system poorly.
The Infrastructure "Crisis" Once Again-Becker
Relative not only to poor countries like India with
disastrous infrastructure, but also to rich countries like Great Britain and
Italy, the American system of roads and highways is quite good, both in
terms of accessibility and safety. That probably is an important reason why
the U.S. has been slower than most other nations in privatizing more than a
tiny part of its road system. Nevertheless, I agree with Posner that the
U.S. should move aggressively toward privatizing many segments of that
system (and other public activities as well).
An example of what can and should be done is given
by the privatization of the Chicago Skyway, an 8-mile toll road that
connects I-94 in Chicago to the Indiana Tollway. In 2005 the City of Chicago
gave the Skyway Concession Company a 99-year lease to operate this skyway;
the company paid almost $2 billion to the city for that lease. The
privatization was actually motivated by the difficulties the city had in
upgrading and repairing the skyway. The SCC collects and keeps all tolls and
concession revenue, but it is responsible for all operating and maintenance
expenditures.The agreement between the City of Chicago and this company is
the first privatization of an existing toll road anywhere in the United
States. So far it is working out extremely well, and might be the poster
child for privatizations of other roads, although obviously more time is
needed to see how the maintenance, efficiency, and tolls charged on the
Skyway evolve in the future.
Why has whistleblower protection under the Sarbanes-Oxley Law failed so
Sarbox's whistleblower provisions were intended "to
prevent recurrences of the Enron debacle and similar threats to the nation's
financial markets" by protecting those who report fraudulent activity that could
damage innocent investors. That was the intent, at least. The reality is
something else. About 1,000 whistleblowing claims have been filed under Sarbox.
Only 17 were determined after federal investigation to have merit and only six
of this group have kept their wins after full evidentiary hearings before
administrative law judges. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs bar and others have
ready answers for this extremely poor batting average. Critics assert that the
90-day statute of limitation for filing whistleblower claims is too short, the
burden of proof placed on complaining employees is too high, that judges are
reading the law too narrowly, or even that, as one law professor testified, the
whistleblower provisions have "has failed to protect the vast majority of
employees who file a Sarbanes-Oxley claim" because they rarely win.
Michael Delikat, "Blowing the Whistle on Sarbox," The Wall Street Journal,
August 23, 2007; Page A10 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the sad state of whistleblower protections are at
"Affirmative Action Backfires," by Gail Heriot, The Wall Street
Journal, August 24, 2007; Page A15 ---
Three years ago, UCLA law professor Richard Sander
published an explosive, fact-based study of the consequences of affirmative
action in American law schools in the Stanford Law Review. Most of his
findings were grim, and they caused dismay among many of the champions of
affirmative action -- and indeed, among those who were not.
Easily the most startling conclusion of his
research: Mr. Sander calculated that there are fewer black attorneys today
than there would have been if law schools had practiced color-blind
admissions -- about 7.9% fewer by his reckoning. He identified the culprit
as the practice of admitting minority students to schools for which they are
inadequately prepared. In essence, they have been "matched" to the wrong
No one claims the findings in Mr. Sander's study,
"A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools," are the
last word on the subject. Although so far his work has held up to scrutiny
at least as well as that of his critics, all fair-minded scholars agree that
more research is necessary before the "mismatch thesis" can be definitively
accepted or rejected.
Unfortunately, fair-minded scholars are hard to
come by when the issue is affirmative action. Some of the same people who
argue Mr. Sander's data are inconclusive are now actively trying to prevent
him from conducting follow-up research that might yield definitive answers.
If racial preferences really are causing more harm than good, they
apparently don't want you -- or anyone else -- to know.
Take William Kidder, a University of California
staff advisor and co-author of a frequently cited attack of Sander's study.
When Mr. Sander and his co-investigators sought bar passage data from the
State Bar of California that would allow analysis by race, Mr. Kidder
passionately argued that access should be denied, because disclosure "risks
stigmatizing African American attorneys." At the same time, the Society of
American Law Teachers, which leans so heavily to the left it risks falling
over sideways, gleefully warned that the state bar would be sued if it
cooperated with Mr. Sander.
Sadly, the State Bar's Committee of Bar Examiners
caved under the pressure. The committee members didn't formally explain
their decision to deny Mr. Sander's request for this data (in which no names
would be disclosed), but the root cause is clear: Over the last 40 years,
many distinguished citizens -- university presidents, judges,
philanthropists and other leaders -- have built their reputations on their
support for race-based admissions. Ordinary citizens have found secure jobs
as part of the resulting diversity bureaucracy.
If the policy is not working, they, too, don't want
anyone to know.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hopes that it
can persuade the State Bar to reconsider. Its soon-to-be released report on
affirmative action in law schools specifically calls for state bar
authorities to cooperate with qualified scholars studying the mismatch
issue. The recommendation is modest. The commission doesn't claim that Mr.
Sander is right or his critics wrong. It simply seeks to encourage and
facilitate important research.
The Commission's deeper purpose is to remind those
who support and administer affirmative action polices that good intentions
are not enough. Consequences also matter. And conscious, deliberately chosen
ignorance is not a good-faith option.
Mr. Sander's original article noted that when elite
law schools lower their academic standards in order to admit a more racially
diverse class, schools one or two tiers down feel they must do the same. As
a result, there is now a serious gap in academic credentials between
minority and non-minority law students across the pecking order, with the
average black student's academic index more than two standard deviations
below that of his average white classmate.
Not surprisingly, such a gap leads to problems.
Students who attend schools where their academic credentials are
substantially below those of their fellow students tend to perform poorly.
The reason is simple: While some students will
outperform their entering academic credentials, just as some students will
underperform theirs, most students will perform in the range that their
academic credentials predict. As a result, in elite law schools, 51.6% of
black students had first-year grade point averages in the bottom 10% of
their class as opposed to only 5.6% of white students. Nearly identical
performance gaps existed at law schools at all levels. This much is
Supporters of race-based admissions argue that,
despite the likelihood of poor grades, minority students are still better
off accepting the benefit of a preference and graduating from a more
prestigious school. But Mr. Sander's research suggests that just the
opposite may be true -- that law students, no matter what their race, may
learn less, not more, when they enroll in schools for which they are not
academically prepared. Students who could have performed well at less
competitive schools may end up lost and demoralized. As a result, they may
fail the bar.
Specifically, Mr. Sander found that when black and
white students with similar academic credentials compete against each other
at the same school, they earn about the same grades. Similarly, when black
and white students with similar grades from the same tier law school take
the bar examination, they pass at about the same rate.
Yet, paradoxically, black students as a whole have
dramatically lower bar passage rates than white students with similar
credentials. Something is wrong.
The Sander study argued that the most plausible
explanation is that, as a result of affirmative action, black and white
students with similar credentials are not attending the same schools. The
white students are more likely to be attending a school that takes things a
little more slowly and spends more time on matters that are covered on the
bar exam. They are learning, while their minority peers are struggling at
more elite schools.
Mr. Sander calculated that if law schools were to
use color-blind admissions policies, fewer black law students would be
admitted to law schools (3,182 students instead of 3,706), but since those
who were admitted would be attending schools where they have a substantial
likelihood of doing well, fewer would fail or drop out (403 vs. 670). In the
end, more would pass the bar on their first try (1,859 vs. 1,567) and more
would eventually pass the bar (2,150 vs. 1,981) than under the current
system of race preferences. Obviously, these figures are just
approximations, but they are troubling nonetheless.
Mr. Sander has his critics -- some thoughtful, some
just strident -- but so far none has offered a plausible alternative
explanation for the data. Of course, Mr. Sander doesn't need to be proven
100% correct for his research to be devastating news for affirmative-action
Suppose the consequences of race-based admissions
turn out to be a wash -- neither increasing nor decreasing the number of
minority attorneys. In that case, few people would think it worth the costs,
not least among them the human costs that result from the failure of the
supposed beneficiaries to graduate and pass the bar.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action controversies are at
"The Truth About the Pay Gap: Feminist politics and bad economics,"
by Steve Chapman, Reason Magazine, April 30, 2007 ---
Will Microsoft Office Soon Have Serious Competitors?
It's open season on Microsoft Office. Google is
distributing Sun Microsystems' StarOffice and also has its own web-based
productivity suite. Apple has a new spreadsheet called Numbers to compete with
Microsoft's Excel. Open source suite OpenOffice, along with several web-based
products, are attacking as well. All these challengers emerge at a time when
Microsoft's dominance in productivity software -- Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and
Excel -- remains strong. So why try to overthrow the leader? And how vulnerable
is Microsoft to this assault?
"Rivals Set Their Sights on Microsoft Office: Can They Topple the
Giant? ," Knowledge@Wharton, August 22, 2007 ---
I think the question is clearly no! It's not that competitors cannot offer
cheaper alternatives to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. that are almost as
complete in terms of features and may even have some better features. The
problem is the cost of retraining an organization's entire work force. Can you
imagine having to retrain virtually all the employees of AT&T, the University of
Wisconsin System, and the State of New York?
Underwear campaign bottoms out in Sweden
Users on the website showmeyoursloggi.com are invited
to vote for the bottom that most tickles their fancy, with the the owner of the
winning backside being offered a cash prize as well as the opportunity of
becoming Sloggi's next model. But when the campaign was slammed by
sections of the Swedish media as "cynical and sexist" and a "porn trap" for
young girls, speculation arose that the
Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising
(ERK) might be ready to pick up the gauntlet.
"Underwear campaign bottoms out in Sweden," The Local, August 24, 2007
Both seasoned owners and potential entrepreneurs toying with the idea of
opening a small business can use this Smart Stop to learn how to start,
manage and grow a small business—or save one that’s in trouble. The site,
home to Small Business Success, Leader, Urban Success and
Winning Bids magazines, provides articles and resources on small biz
financing, sales, marketing and technology, plus access to resources from
its partners, including the Small Business Association, Inner City Economic
Forum and the Association of Small Business Development Centers.
|EASY DOES IT
Many of us may not consider a job search “a simple yet effective,
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searches that limit results to mom-, eco- and 50-plus-friendly
UNCLE SAM IN YOUR OFFICE
Brush up on your legal rights regarding whistleblowing, privacy and
non-competition agreements, plus a host of other employment laws, at
this site from nonprofit group Workplace Fairness. It presents
information, resources and publications on employee rights—free of
legal jargon—at the state and national level. Check out “The Issues”
tab, which tracks high-interest topics of healthcare, retirement and
work/life balance, or click on “Features” to sign up for the group’s
two e-newsletters, Workplace Week and In the News.
TAP THE TAX COMMUNITY
A BETTER WAY TO WORK?
As a portal for tax professionals looking for tax positions,
employees, training events and career management information, this
site is a Smart Stop for all members of the tax sector. Looking for
a mentor or protégé? How about a local tax conference? Visit the
“Career Tools” page for access to the mentor forum or to search tax
events by specialty, date or location. Employers can search resumes
to fill permanent or contract positions, post job listings or
request a salary benchmark survey, which provides a view of the
current compensation landscape, to use when setting compensation
policies, hiring or creating new positions.
This site is the home of work force management initiative ROWE, or
the Results-Only Work Environment. In this result-oriented work
style, founded by former Best Buy employees Jody Thompson and Cali
Ressler, workers “do whatever they want whenever they want as long
as the work gets done.” Under the program, employees are not judged
on how they spend their time, but only evaluated on the end result,
eliminating what Thompson and Ressler define as “sludge, or any
negative language in the workplace that is used to cast judgment,
place guilt or add stress.”
Bob Jensen's small business helpers are at
By now we all know how energy deregulation allowed Enron energy traders to
conduct fraud, especially in the states of California and Washington. Below is a
nice piece on how deregulation works and, sometimes, does not work.
How did energy deregulation became a tangled mess?
"Short-Circuited," by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren, The Wall Street
Journal, August 30, 2007; Page A11 ---
After a pretty good 30-year run, deregulation is on
the political ropes. Although loosening the shackles on banking, trucking
and airlines delivered lower prices, robust competition and political
applause, it hasn't worked for electricity. California and Virginia have
already abandoned the project and other states are contemplating a similar
retreat. For the first time in decades, Americans are inclined to think that
regulation is the thin blue line between defenseless consumers and predatory
So did free market reformers
take deregulation too far? Yes and no.
Yes, because they promised
rate reductions they had no business promising. No, because
deregulation of some parts of the system was offset by more
ambitious regulations elsewhere. The end result is even more
economically artificial than the one we started with.
Many of the states that
undertook utility restructuring in the late 1990s rolled back retail
electricity prices and then froze them in place for years during the
"transition" to retail competition. The headline-grabbing rate
increases this year in Maryland (50% in Baltimore) and Illinois (24%
in Chicago) occurred because the period of regulated prices ended --
while during the freeze period the prices of the fuels used for
generation (coal and natural gas) increased significantly.
The states sticking to the
old regulatory regime had no rate freezes, instead passing on higher
fuel costs to consumers through gradual price increases. The average
increase in rates in the regulated states from 1990 through 2006
(one cent per kWh) is not statistically different from the increase
in deregulated states (1.6 cents per kWh).
Still, electricity rates
increased under deregulation, while rates decreased in deregulated
industries like airlines, banking and trucking. Why?
Under the old regulatory
regime, electricity generators received their costs plus an allowed
return on capital. If generators' costs differed, they received
differing revenues. Prices were then established by a "weighted
average" of all producer costs. Under deregulation, however,
generators receive revenues based on the price charged by the most
expensive generator whose output is necessary to meet demand in each
While some may find such
pricing to be odd, it is found in all commodity markets. Potatoes,
for example, sell at the same price even though the cost of
production varies across farmers. The supermarket does not price
potatoes based on the "weighted average" of their acquisition costs,
and producers do not sell at cost plus a modest mark-up. They sell
at what the market will bear, and the market will bear the highest
cost source of potatoes necessary to meet consumer demand.
Thus, in a regulatory regime,
rising natural gas prices affect electricity prices only according
to the percentage of electricity generated by natural gas (about
18.7% of supply nationwide in 2005). But in deregulated markets, all
generators get revenues based on the price charged by the most
expensive (often natural gas) plant in operation.
Does this mean that consumers
are always worse off under market (marginal-cost) prices rather than
regulated (weighted average) prices? Well, regulation certainly
delivers lower prices than the market during shortages. But
regulation delivers higher prices during times of relative
Few remember that the impetus
for deregulation was the discrepancy between higher-priced
"regulated" power (predominantly coal and nuclear) and lower-priced
spot market power (predominantly from gas-fired power plants) when
natural gas costs were low in the 1990s. The owners of coal and
nuclear generation resisted market pricing because they believed
(correctly at that time) that in a market-price regime they would
not recover the capital costs of their much more capital-intensive
Thus rate freezes in states
"deregulating" electricity markets were not designed to protect
consumers. They were meant to protect high-cost producers, and kept
retail prices from falling, if the new markets were driven by
Still, markets appear to be
worse than regulation because generators whose costs are lower than
the most expensive players in the market will get "excess" revenues.
But excess profits aren't forever. Once returns are predictably
higher than normal, entry will occur to dissipate them.
Consider Texas. Unlike other
deregulated states, utilities in Texas were allowed to pass
fuel-cost increases on to consumers on a yearly basis during the
transition to full deregulation. There was no provision, however,
for passing through fuel-cost decreases. Post-Katrina,
natural-gas prices pushed the cost of electricity to between 15
cents and 19 cents per kWh. But electricity prices did not adjust
down when natural gas prices fell.
Those high prices, which
result in large profits for coal-fired plants, induced TXU, the
largest generator in Texas, to announce plans to build 11 more coal
plants. Ironically, the much-praised plan by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
& Co. to take over TXU and build only three coal-fired power plants
will keep power costs higher than otherwise. Environmentalists and
plant owners win while ratepayers lose.
A final worry is that
deregulation means sky-high prices during peak demand periods,
typically hot summer afternoons. True. But they would be more than
offset by lower off-peak prices. That's because in a regulatory
regime ratepayers must still pay off, through higher rates, the
capital costs of power plants sitting idle during off-peak demand
periods. And there's a lot of idle generating capacity. MIT
economist Paul Joskow, for example, reports that in New England
during 2001, 45% of the generating capacity produced only 7% of the
In sum, allowing markets to
dictate electricity prices is a good thing for consumers, even if
they are sometimes higher than under regulation. Unfortunately --
and here is the fly in the ointment -- price deregulation has been
accompanied by rules encouraging the legal separation of generation
from transmission and the purchase of wholesale power through
organized spot markets.
This approach is based on the
belief that, while the generating sector is potentially quite
competitive, the electricity transmission business is not. Thus, the
argument goes, deregulation, in order to work properly, must sever
the vertical integration of electricity generation, transmission,
and distribution under a single corporate umbrella.
While this seems reasonable,
there are good reasons why vertical integration makes sense in the
electric power business. Unfortunately, none of those reasons have
been given much of a hearing.
First, vertical integration
is an efficient response to the so-called "holdup" problem.
Investors in generating plants worry that, because the assets are
costly, dedicated and immobile, they can be "held up" by
transmission line owners. Investors in transmission lines fear being
held up by generators. Vertical integration ends the fight.
Second, transmission and
generation are substitutes for one another -- and the right amount
of investment in either is an economic, not an engineering, puzzle.
Efficient investment in both may not be possible through
decentralized arrangements (prices and contracts) between separately
owned assets. In contrast, an organization that owns both generation
and transmission assets is more likely to invest optimally in both.
Third and finally, vertical
integration minimizes risk in the real-time operation of the system.
The better coordinated are generation and transmission, the less
chance there is of cascading blackouts and other problems.
Coordination is far easier when there is one actor rather than
These considerations largely
explain why 10 of the 11 published studies on this issue conclude
that vertical integration is the most efficient corporate
organizational form for electricity providers. Unfortunately, the
debate about utility restructuring has almost completely ignored
those studies -- assuming rather that vertical integration serves no
useful purpose other than facilitating the market power of incumbent
Interestingly enough, the
deregulators are trying to create a world that would probably never
arise in a totally free electricity market. In a world of
deregulated vertically integrated firms, both producers and
consumers would almost certainly resist spot market relationships.
During gluts, firms would not recover the cost of capital; and
during shortages, electricity consumers would be vulnerable to
economic extortion, as competitive entry and rivalry can't happen
overnight. Both firms and consumers would likely prefer long-term
contracts, an arrangement that meets consumers' interest in price
protection and firms' interest in cost recovery.
Accordingly, the equilibrium
relationship between firms and consumers in a totally unregulated
world might resemble that of the old regulatory regime, albeit an
equilibrium achieved through contract. The only (unanswerable)
question is how different the specifics of such hypothetical
contracts would be from current regulatory practices.
True deregulation involves
allowing market actors to run their businesses in whatever manner
they like, price what the market will bear, and discover for
themselves how best to deliver goods and services without government
influencing those decisions with carrots and sticks. The faux
deregulation we have in the electricity market unfortunately falls
short on most of those counts. And that -- rather than the rate
increases -- is the real problem.
Mr. Van Doren is editor of Regulation magazine,
published by the Cato Institute, where Mr. Taylor is a senior fellow
and director of natural resource studies.
Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz is at
Bob Jensen's threads on Enron and Worldcom frauds are at
Updates from WebMD ---
Breakthrough drug for
The first new class of drugs in more than a decade for
treating schizophrenia worked at least as well in a clinical trial as standard
medications, a study released Sunday showed. Unlike current anti-psychotic
drugs, which block the uptake of a naturally occurring chemical called dopamine,
the new drug acts on a different neurotransmitter, glutamate. The new treatment
also reduced certain undesirable side-effects, according to the study, published
in the British journal Nature Science. Imbalances in the brain of these
chemicals are largely responsible for schizophrenia's disabling symptoms, which
range from hallucinations and delusions to a severely impaired ability to
express emotion. Environmental factors are thought to play a role too. Sufferers
often hear voices and may believe that other people are reading their minds or
controlling their thoughts. These frightening experiences can cause withdrawal
and extreme agitation.
PhysOrg, September 3, 2007 ---
New Bipolar Disorder Treatments Tested
Scientists are testing seasickness patches and other
surprising options in a challenging search for new ways to treat the crushing
depression and uncontrolled mania of bipolar disorder. Also called
manic-depression, it's an illness that can rip careers and marriages apart and
drive people to suicide. And it's so complex and mysterious that researchers
haven't developed a medication specifically for it since lithium, more than half
a century ago. Yet bipolar appears in various forms and severity in about 1 in
every 25 American adults at some point in their lives, according to a major
study published in May. Current medicines help, but often fall short. They
"certainly reduce symptoms but don't do a good enough job," said Dr. Husseini
Manji of the National Institute of Mental Health. "Many patients are helped, but
they're not well." Nobody knows yet whether the latest crop of possible
treatments will pan out. Besides the motion sickness patch, unusual choices
include a drug that treats Lou Gehrig's disease and a device that produces an
electric field around the brain. Even the breast cancer drug tamoxifen has been
Malcolm Ritter, PhyOrg, September 2, 2007 ---
Bipolar Illness Soars as a Diagnosis for the Young
The number of American children and adolescents treated
for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003, researchers report
today in the most comprehensive study of the controversial diagnosis.Experts say
the number has almost certainly risen further since 2003. Many experts theorize
that the jump reflects that doctors are more aggressively applying the diagnosis
to children, and not that the incidence of the disorder has increased.
Benedict Carey, The New York Times, September 4, 2007 ---
Study: Care for Mentally Ill Lacking
A new study in The Lancet, an independent voice in
global medicine, shows no country does a particularly good job caring for those
with serious psychiatric illnesses. Among findings: in Africa, there's one
psychiatrist for every 2 million people; while in Europe, there's one for every
10,000. Still, there are things poor countries can do to help the mentally ill.
Joanne Silberner, NPR, September 4, 2007 ---
Study: Moderate drinking protects kidneys
Drinking wine or beer may reduce the risk of kidney
cancer, a Swedish study found.
PhysOrg, August 26, 2007 ---
Physicists found formula for spiderman suit
Physicists have found the formula for a Spiderman suit.
Only recently has man come to understand how spiders and geckos effortlessly
scuttle up walls and hang from ceilings but it was doubted that this natural
form of adhesion would ever be strong enough to hold the weight of real life
PhysOrg, August 29, 2007 ---
Now people can have a dance and be partners for life even if one partner is shy
Cancer treatment developed by patient
An Erie, Pa., leukemia patient, fed up with
chemotherapy, developed technology that may one day be used to fight cancer.
John Kanzius, who isn't a doctor and never graduated college, developed
technology that uses metal nanoparticles activated by radio waves to burn out
targeted cells without damaging surrounding tissue, CBS News reported Tuesday.
"I envision this treatment taking no more than a couple of minutes or so," he
said. Kanzius said the most difficult part developing the device is finding a
way to target the cancerous cells with the nanoparticles.
PhysOrg, August 29, 2007 ---
Alzheimer's Patients Lining Up for Microchip
The VeriChip Provides Medical Information About
Patients, but Privacy Advocates Are Wary
ABC News, August 28, 2007 ---
It's a tight squeeze: Do the fattest people have the smallest homes?
ZIP codes and property values predict obesity rates
Neighborhood property values predict local obesity rates better than education
or incomes, according to a study from the University of Washington being
published online this week by the journal Social Science and Medicine. For each
additional $100,000 in the median price of homes, UW researchers found, obesity
rates in a given ZIP code dropped by 2 percent.
PhysOrg, August 29, 2007 ---
The Poorest State Has the Fattest People?
Hint: Over half of the state's population may be obese by Year 2015
Dr. William Rowley, who worked 30 years as a
vascular surgeon and now works at the Institute for Alternative Futures, said if
current trends continue, more than 50 percent of adult Mississippians will be
obese in 2015. Holland, who helps set the state Medicaid budget, said he worries
about the taxpayers' cost of treating obesity
"Mississippi Ranked Fattest State in Nation," PhysOrg, August 28, 2007
Controversies Over Beauty Injections That Last Forever
Dr. Klein has become the loudest voice in the hottest
debate in the small world of cosmetic dermatology: How safe is a new wave of
antiwrinkle shots that -- unlike their predecessors -- are long-lasting or even
permanent? At medical conferences in recent months, doctors have bickered over
whether these products receive rigorous enough testing to gain FDA approval.
Products like ArteFill are considered implanted medical devices, not drugs, and
undergo a different approval process because, unlike drugs, they are believed to
basically be inert fillers, leaving bodily processes unchanged. Some doctors,
however, believe that the effects of these products on tissue need to be studied
before they are approved because unlike earlier facial injections -- such as
Restylane, a device, or Botox, a drug -- these treatments don't just wear off in
four to six months.
Rhonda L. Rundle, "Things Get Ugly Over a Beauty Injection Maker of Antiwrinkle
Shot, Famed Skin Doctor Face Off Over New Product's Safety, The Wall Street
Journal, August 29, 2007; Page B1 ---
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have found
that nutrients in red wine may help reduce the risk of developing prostate
The study involved male mice that were fed a plant
compound found in red wine called resveratrol, which has shown anti-oxidant and
anti-cancer properties. Other sources of resveratrol in the diet include grapes,
raspberries, peanuts and blueberries. In the study resveratrol-fed mice showed
an 87 percent reduction in their risk of developing prostate tumors that
contained the worst kind of cancer-staging diagnosis. The mice that proved to
have the highest cancer-protection effect earned it after seven months of
consuming resveratrol in a powdered formula mixed with their food. Other mice in
the study, those fed resveratrol but still developed a less-serious form of
prostate cancer, were 48 percent more likely to have their tumor growth halted
or slowed when compared to mice who did not consume the compound, the UAB
research team said. The findings were published in August through the online
edition of the Journal of Carcinogenesis.
PhysOrg, August 31, 2007 ---
The Costly Love Life of Male Deer: Tell Tale Teeth
The research reveals that male ungulates have
smaller molars relative to their body size – and hence less durable teeth that
will wear out sooner, which might contribute to their shorter lives compared
with females. Natural selection favors reproduction rather than survival; the
cost of reproduction compromises survival. Males of species subjected to intense
male-male competition for access to females are known to have shorter life
expectancies than females. Earlier aging in males might be related to higher
reproductive costs, especially when lifetime reproductive success in males takes
place within the few years when they can win contests and maintain their
dominance . . . “These findings,” the
authors state, “provide us with interesting insights into how natural and sexual
selection design our bodies and their longevity.”
Citation: Juan Carranza and F. Javier Pérez-Barbería, "Sexual selection and
senescence: male size-dimorphic ungulates evolved relatively smaller molars than
females", The American Naturalist (2007) volume 170:370–380. DOI:
"Male deer are born to live fast, die young," PhysOrg, August 31, 2007
No mention is made of the greater likelihood of male deer to become sausage and
wall hangings. As to hood ornaments, the edge might go to females since there
are more of them wandering about.
Shock figures show 11 to 13-year-olds drinking twice as much alcohol as
they did five years ago
Last updated at 15:02pm on 31st August 2007 Tens of
thousands of 11-year-olds are getting drunk at least once a month A "hard core"
of young teenagers is drinking to increasingly dangerous levels every week, it
has emerged. Tens of thousands of 11-year-olds are also getting drunk at least
once a month, despite a drive to cut soaring numbers of young drinkers. Four out
of 10 pupils aged 11-15 have tried smoking at least once, and a majority of
young smokers are...
Daily Mail, August 31, 2007 ---
Underage drinking starts before adolescence
“A review of national and statewide surveys conducted
over the last 15 years shows that among typical 4th graders, 10% have already
had more than a sip of alcohol and 7% have had a drink in the past year. While
the numbers are small in the fourth grade, the surveys show that the percent of
children who have used alcohol increases with age, and doubles between grades
four and six. The largest jump in rates occurs between grades five and six,”
according to John E. Donovan, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and
epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is author of the
study, “Really Underage Drinkers: The Epidemiology of Children’s Alcohol Use in
the United States,” published in the September issue of Prevention Science, a
peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR).
PhysOrg, August 31, 2007 ---
What kind of parents would ever allow their children to drink at home?
Doesn't this put youngsters at risk?
Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire are some of a
growing number of states to enact laws holding parents accountable for underage
drinking at their homes. These laws typically involve hosting parties where
alcohol is served to minors. The target is parents who blithely allow keg
parties in their basements and then let the teenagers who attend them drive home
drunk. One such couple in Deerfield, Ill., was recently convicted when two
18-year-olds died in a car accident after such a party. Earlier this month,
Karen Dittmer was arrested for allowing her 18-year-old son and his friends to
drink beer at her birthday barbecue in New York's Suffolk County. What kind of
parents would ever allow their children to drink at home? Doesn't this put
youngsters at risk? The answer to the first question is simple. Most of the
state laws include a specific exemption for children drinking at home during
family and religious ceremonies. Observant Jews, for example, traditionally
serve children small glasses of wine during Friday night Sabbath ceremonies.
Other cultures also begin socializing children into drinking at an early age --
including Mediterranean societies such as Italy, Greece and Turkey (and
non-Mediterranean societies such as China). As for the second, two international
surveys -- one conducted by the World Health Organization -- revealed that these
Mediterranean countries and Israel had the lowest binge drinking rates among
"A Toast to the Family," by Stanton Peele, The Wall Street Journal,
August 31, 2007; Page A9 ---
Katrina Fault Finding
"Silent Witness," by Ari Kelman, The Nation, August 23, 2007 ---
Take Brinkley's (Book)
Great Deluge, a fine-grained account of the
week surrounding Katrina. A historian at Tulane University, Brinkley crams
huge quantities of riveting material into 700 pages. But working as a
participant-observer, he's too close to the action. What results is less a
work of "history," as promised, than a small archive--a trove of information
and anecdotes--packaged as a disaster narrative, kin to David McCullough's
Johnstown Flood or John Barry's Rising Tide. Brinkley, writing with fetid
water still covering much of New Orleans, had to grasp for heroes where he
could find them, usually in stories of regular people coping with the
catastrophe. And he often resorts to cliche. Laura Maloney, an activist who
saved hundreds of animals from the storm, "could have been a fashion model,
with her long blond hair, perfect white teeth, and eyes that implied an
internal kindness." Still, most of these portraits, particularly the case of
New Orleans disc jockey Garland Robinette, who never stopped broadcasting as
he rode out the storm, command attention and flesh out the disaster. And on
the particulars of the events Brinkley covers, his book should be the
definitive account for years to come.
What's most questionable is his argument that New
Orleans's embattled mayor, Ray Nagin, deserves the lion's share of blame.
For Brinkley, Nagin failed in ways too vast and various to be forgiven: to
provision the Superdome, to evacuate the needy, to coordinate rescue and
relief. Many familiar horror stories-- New Orleanians trapped on rooftops,
starving in fetid shelters or dying for want of medicine--are punctuated in
The Great Deluge with images of a callous Nagin. Rather than ordering an
early mandatory evacuation, the mayor dithers as the storm approaches. With
the water rising, he hides out at the Hyatt, ignoring havoc down the street
at the Superdome. He later takes a luxurious shower aboard Air Force One,
oblivious to a stream of displaced New Orleanians sweltering just minutes
On most counts, Brinkley's case has merit. But with
drumbeat repetition, fair criticism becomes vendetta. It doesn't help that
some passages flirt with racially coded language. Nagin is an Uncle Tom
("always deferential to whites"), a trickster ("spew[ing] anti- corruption
jive"), all flash and no substance (a "show horse and not a nuts-and-bolts
workhorse"), and he preens when he could be saving lives ("like a primping
teenager"). The Great Deluge appeared on the eve of New Orleans's 2006
mayoral election, and it reads like campaign literature for the other side.
But if that was the book's intent, it failed. Nagin won a second term.
Brinkley does catalogue the Bush Administration's
ensemble cast of villains and buffoons. But his Nagin fixation and tendency
to parrot Republican talking points--readers are asked, for example, to
muster sympathy for Trent Lott, champion of tort reform, as he sues his
insurance company for a payout on his Gulf Coast home--keep attention too
tightly focused on local political figures. Horne's Breach of Faith, by
contrast, feints at local and state politicians before focusing on federal
officials: Congressional appropriators, enthralled by visions of small
government; technocrats at the Army Corps of Engineers, as incapable of
building stout structures as they are of telling the truth; Cabinet-level
cronies, including Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff; and
President Bush himself.
Continued in article
From the Pulpit,
Upon a Hill: A history of sermons in America.
BY ALLEN C. GUELZO
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, August 30, 2007
A sermon is like
a symphony. Both are first written out and then can be read (in words or
musical notes), studied and discussed as though nothing more were necessary.
But in the end, a sermon is written to be preached, just as symphonic music
is written to be performed. What ultimately determines the quality of both
(sermons and symphonies) is the effect of their performance on a listener.
For that reason,
a history of the American sermon has to answer three very different
questions: What did the preacher say, how was it said and how
was it received? Alas, in "A City Upon a Hill," religion journalist
Larry Witham remains cheerfully deaf to those questions. For him, the sermon
is mostly a printed text. He seems to have assigned himself the task of
going through the vast store of published American sermons and finding the
most influential ones, which he tidily summarizes. Then he weaves the
summaries into what amounts to a history of the theology contained in
the American sermon. It is a traditional narrative, except this time
illustrated by its famous preachers instead of its formal theologians.
Thus we begin
with Robert Hunt (1568-1608), the first chaplain at Jamestown, and move
rapidly to the New England Puritans: Their political and spiritual leader,
John Winthrop, wrote the sermon "A Model of Christian Charity," which
famously begins with a biblical allusion by saying: "For wee must Consider
that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill." We next visit the Great Awakening
and Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), who roused listeners with "Sinners in the
Hands of an Angry God," and then the Revolutionary War and the heroic
preachers of that era. The historical tour races on, touching on the wars
over Darwinism and other charged topics before ending up in the modern era
with the work of Martin Luther King Jr., Jerry Falwell and other preachers.
Mr. Witham does
not, so to speak, preach. In fact, he tells the story in a carefully bland
tone that damps down even the fiery energies that drove sermons about
slavery and the civil-rights movement. He yokes together all this preaching,
across four centuries, by arguing that the principal task of the American
sermon has been to articulate the country's "civil religion."
Having given his
book the subtitle "How Sermons Changed the Course of American History," Mr.
Witham asserts that the pulpit has been the point of origin for a host of
what he considers particularly American traits and values. These include:
"America as a chosen people," "manifest destiny" and even "the battle
between good and evil." Which is strange--I always understood the task of
the sermon as the exposition of the Sacred Word. Over five decades of
sermon-listening, I have never once heard anything that sounded like a
rallying cry for Mr. Witham's "American civil religion." Perhaps his
experience is different.
Of the actual
sermons in "A City Upon a Hill"--and especially their delivery and
effect--we learn little. This is disheartening. There are only a few faint
moments when Mr. Witham conveys the sense that hearing Jonathan Edwards or
the Presbyterian theologian from South Carolina, James Henley Thornwell
(1812-62), might have been a different experience than hearing, say, Mister
Rogers. Mr. Witham makes us dimly aware that colonial preachers "absorbed,
adapted, and expressed a range of sermon styles" and that radio turned
"fiery oratory into conversation." And he is certainly conscious that "the
American sermon also has been shaped by its audiences," depending on the
"social and economic class" of congregations and their tastes.
What is maddening
is that Mr. Witham seems to have no means of describing what those sermon
styles were, which class or tastes mattered, and how the sermons they shaped
compare with anything we might hear today. One obvious excuse for treating
the sermon as a printed text rather than as a speech event is that we have
plenty of printed sermons to choose from but no recordings of speech before
1878. But even this is not quite the ironclad excuse it seems.
The late Kenneth
Cmiel's "Democratic Eloquence: The Fight Over Popular Speech in
Nineteenth-Century America" (1991) was a bravura display of how differing
styles of political speech could be captured and "heard" by the modern
reader, especially through handbooks on delivery and patterns of vocabulary.
We can get a fair idea of what Abraham Lincoln sounded like by timing-out
the shorthand transcriptions of his debates with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858
(Lincoln spoke at about 100 words a minute), by collecting impressionistic
descriptions of his vocal timbre (high-pitched tenor), and by noting that a
contemporary likened Lincoln's voice to that of William McKinley (Thomas
Edison recorded the latter). Mr. Witham manages to get by without a single
citation of "Democratic Eloquence."
So "A City Upon a
Hill" is a book not so much of unanswered questions as of unasked ones. Why
did Jonathan Edwards, in the 18th century, revive the "plain style" of
17th-century sermonizing, in all its spareness of form? What did revivalist
Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) mean when he boasted that he preached
like a lawyer arguing a case before a jury? Is Martin Luther King's "I Have
a Dream" speech really a sermon? And above all, how has the American
sermon actually "changed" the country? One has to wonder whether, in the
end, the real story of the American sermon is one of a battle between a
culture that wanted sermons to approximate a "civil religion"--Mr. Witham's
theme--and preachers who aspired to something more spiritual.
questions that it would have been worthwhile for Mr. Witham to spend some
time with. If he had, maybe we'd know a little better just what a sermon is,
Dr. Guelzo, the
director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, is
the author of "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President" (1999) and "Lincoln's
Emancipation Proclamation" (2004).
Five Best Books on Our Nation's Fathers
"The Nation's Fathers: An unrivaled portrait of the era of America's
founding emerges from these works," by Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal,
August 25, 2007 ---
1. "Thomas Jefferson" by Fawn M. Brodie
This subtle account of Thomas Jefferson's
life richly illustrates his many contradictions and accomplishments:
author of the Declaration of Independence yet lifelong slaveholder;
revolutionary statesman yet almost reactionary defender of states'
rights; a lover of mankind yet a fervent hater (he loathed cities,
industrialists and Federalists without distinction). As Fawn M.
Brodie delves into Jefferson's personal and public lives, her
greatest achievement is in capturing his humanity even as she
gradually reveals his often darker side. When this book first came
out, it was derided by critics as "psycho-history" and condemned for
having the temerity to suggest that Jefferson fathered a child with
Sally Hemmings. Brodie's work might be provocative, but it is also
compelling. Her Jefferson is a dreamer, a visionary and a romantic.
He is also tragic and poignant and conflicted--which is just about
2. "The Memoirs and Anecdotes of the
Count de Ségur" translated by Gerard Shelley (Scribner, 1928).
Born on the eve of the Seven Years War, the
French Count de Ségur was part of a rarefied circle of globetrotting
diplomats who crossed borders, spoke in foreign tongues and fomented
revolution. They were often the engine of the events upending the
Old Order. With great idealism, Ségur left the comforts of the
French court to join the American rebels in their struggle for
independence, and he soon added George Washington to his list of
illustrious friends. A traveler, poet and ambassador, Ségur was an
intimate of both Louis XVI's and Marie Antoinette's; he
distinguished himself as a general under Napoleon; and he captivated
no less than Russia's Empress Catherine the Great. Traveling with
Catherine to Crimea in the 1780s, he discussed with her, of all
things, the young American republic. Catherine snapped, "If I had
lost any of the 13 provinces the way King George did, I would have
blown my brains out with a pistol." Ségur's reply is immortal: "The
air of our age is that of philosophy and freedom. It enters palaces
as well as huts." Ségur's memoirs, relating monumental events in an
unsparing voice, are among the greatest of the era.
3. "The Age of the Democratic
Revolution" by R.R. Palmer (Princeton, 1959, vol. 1; 1964, vol. 2).
This book belongs to a now dwindling genre
of sweeping historical surveys grappling with big ideas. R.R.
Palmer's subject is the revolutionary tide that swept Europe in the
1790s; he succeeds handsomely in this ambitious project. Though
perhaps more partial to the French Revolution than many of his
readers might be, and arguably too understated when he assesses the
significance of America's rebellion (it showed only "mild accents of
liberty"), Palmer deftly captures the cataclysms of the age. We see
the rape of Poland, the subjugation of Italy, the rise of Napoleon;
we see Britain and Austria seeking to stamp out the revolutionary
menace; and we see France sliding into chaos and seeking to export
its fervor to America. Though at times heavy-going, "The Age of the
Democratic Revolution" recalls the best sort of historical survey
classes we once took in college.
4. "George Washington" by Douglas
Southall Freeman (Scribner, 1948).
Despite all that has been written about the
legendary general and president, George Washington remains the most
impenetrable of the founders, forever austere, dignified, aloof and
unapproachable. Yet Douglas Southall Freeman, who is best known for
his monumental biography of Robert E. Lee, has done as good a job as
anyone in pulling together the threads of Washington's life.
Washington emerges as not the most brilliant man of his day, or the
most eloquent, or even the most militarily gifted. For that matter,
his administration was troubled, such as by the controversy over its
tax policies, which helped ignite the Whiskey Rebellion in western
Pennsylvania in 1794. In the end, however, what comes across in this
biography (I prefer the abridged edition published in 1968) is that,
in a thousand little ways, Washington was destined to become the
most important of America's Founders.
5. "The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson" by
Bernard Bailyn (Harvard, 1974).
Before the American Revolution, Thomas
Hutchinson was perhaps the most distinguished colonial official of
his day. He was the royal governor of Massachusetts and America's
most eminent historian. But like a third of the colonists, he
remained stubbornly wedded to the British Crown, thus becoming one
of the most hated men on the continent. He was variously denounced
as "dark, intriguing, and ambitious" and as an "arch-fiend." In
1765, a mob enraged by his support for the Stamp Act stormed into
his house and, when he was nowhere to be found, stabbed his portrait
with bayonets. Exiled to Britain in 1774, Hutchinson became a broken
man, forever longing to be buried in American soil. Bailyn writes
the story with uncommon sensitivity and elegance and powerfully
reminds us that America's Revolution, stripped of its mythology, was
a painful, even tragic, civil war.
Mr. Winik is the author of "April 1865." His latest book, "The
Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World,
1788-1800," will be published by HarperCollins next month.
Hollywood on April 30, 2038 ---
Bob Jensen "gums it up" in Hollywood on his 100th Birthday!
Bumper Stickers for Retirees ---
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
Two very elderly friends, Bill and Sam, met in the park every day to feed the
pigeons, watch the squirrels and discuss world problems.
One day Bill didn't show up. Sam didn't think much about it and figured maybe
he had a cold or something. But after Bill hadn't shown up for a week or so, Sam
really got worried. However, since the only time they ever got together was at
the park, Sam didn't know where Bill lived, so he was unable to find out what
had happened to him.
A month had passed, and Sam figured he had seen the last of Bill, but one
day, Sam approached the park and -- lo and behold! --there sat Bill! Sam was
very excited and happy to see him and told him so.
Then he said, "For crying out loud Bill, what in the world happened to you?"
Bill replied, "I have been in jail."
"Jail?" cried Sam. "What in the world for?"
"Well," Bill said, "you know Sue, that cute little blonde waitress at the
coffee shop where we sometimes go?"
"Yeah," said Sam, "I remember her. What about her?"
"Well, one day she filed rape charges against me and, at 89 years old, I was
so proud that when I got into court, I pled guilty.
The judge gave me 30 days for perjury."
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
You may remember the old Jewish Catskill comics of Vaudeville days: Shecky
Green, Red Buttons, Totie Fields, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, and others.
Don't you miss their humor? Not one single swear word in their comedy. Here are
There was a beautiful young woman knocking on my hotel room door all night!
...... I finally had to let her out.
A car hit an elderly Jewish man. The paramedic says, "Are you comfortable?"
The man says, "I make a good living."
I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.
I've been in love with the same woman for 49 years. If my wife ever finds
out, she'll kill me!
Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won't be reporting it. The thief
spends less than my wife did.
We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.
She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate.
She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.
The doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so
the doctor gave him another six months.
The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back." Mrs.
Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"
Doctor: "You'll live to be 60!" Patient: "I AM 60!" Doctor: "See! What did I
A doctor held a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asks, "Doc, how do I
stand?" The doctor answers "That's what puzzles me!"
Patient: "I have a ringing in my ears." Doctor: "Don't answer!"
A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here
for drinking." The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."
A bum asked a fellow, "Give me $10 till payday ." The fellow responded,
"When's payday?" The bum said, "I don't know! You're the one that's working!"
I wish my brother would learn a trade, so I would know what kind of work he's
The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why women like Chinese food so
The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is
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 ---
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) ---
Some Accounting Blogs
Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International
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 ---
Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---
Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---
Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---
Teaching Materials (especially
video) from PBS
Teacher Source: Arts and
Teacher Source: Health & Fitness
Teacher Source: Math ---
Teacher Source: Science ---
Teacher Source: PreK2 ---
Teacher Source: Library Media ---
Free Education and
Research Videos from Harvard University ---
VYOM eBooks Directory ---
From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---
Online Mathematics Textbooks ---
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---
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