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 night.

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 poet.
Franconia 1915 - 1920 ---

New Hampshire is a 1923 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of poems written by Robert Frost. The book included several of Frost's best-known poems, including "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (in iambic tetrameter).  Illustrations for the book were provided by woodcut artist and Frost friend J. J. Lankes.

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:

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom
 ... in a clarification of life -
... a momentary stay against confusion.

Robert Frost.
I 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
Robert 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.
Robert Frost, Rose Pogoni
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.
Robert Frost, A Tuft of Flowers
Ah, when to the heart of man
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 the brook.
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.
Robert Frost, Going for Water
West Running Brook by Robert Frost
'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.')

Jensen Comment
There are two extremes in poetry. At one extreme we have poems that are perfectly structured ( e.g., iambic pentameter, 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 own woods.”

“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.”

Related stories



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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.
Carline Rhea ---

I'm not afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens.
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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.
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A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
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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 oppose piracy.
Crispin Sartwell, "Policing the Academy for Pirates," Reason Magazine, August 22, 2007 ---

Two 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 --- 

The 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 today.
Sudeep Reddy and Kelly Evans, "Debt Issues Top Economists' Fears," The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2007; Page A2 --- Click Here

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.

A U.N. 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 ---
Jensen Comment
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 --- 

The latest 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 1934.
"Not So Hot," The Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2007 ---

To many 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.
Michael C. 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 organization HAMAS.
"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, Christiane Amanpour. The Committee for 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 ---
Jensen Comment
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, 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 health insurance.
Chris Noon, "Starbucks' Schultz Bemoans Health Care Costs," Forbes --- Click Here

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, McKinsey estimates.
Robert J. Samuelson, "Greenhouse Simplicities," Newsweek Magazine, August 27, 2007, Page 47 ---

From the 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 ---
Jensen Question
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, Charlie!"
  • Everybody 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 another pasture?"
  • 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, [profgmp@HOTMAIL.COM]

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 location.


August 31, 2007 reply from M Robert Bowers [M.Robert.Bowers@WHARTON.UPENN.EDU]

I can add to Mr. Jensen's email regarding the IRS "survey"

I received an email today from the "Internal Revenue Service". The Subject Line is, "Please submit the tax refund request".

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 ---
Jensen Comment
Then again rednecks wear “new-truck-smell” and “old-saddle-leather” perfumes to attract the opposite sex. So why not?

Smart, Smart, 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, planetarium
A new feature in
Google Earth, the company's satellite imagery-based mapping 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 --- Click Here 

Encover Chief 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."

So 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, 12/12/05 "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 Nielsen/NetRatings.

Of course, 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 business tools.


Recruiters at Microsoft (MSFT) and Starbucks (SBUX), for instance, troll online networks such as LinkedIn for potential job candidates. Goldman Sachs (GS) 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.

Early 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.

None of 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.

The Holy 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."


Headhunters 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 --- Click Here

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

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

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

Found in Space

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

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

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

Data Worth a Thousand Pictures

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

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

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

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at



Dirty Tricks Played on Job Seekers
Job hunters using, 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 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, " Users Get Fake Offers And Request," The Washington Post, August 23, 2007, Page D04 --- Click Here

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 --- Click Here

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 after all?

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 Association (ICGA)."

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 really playing chess at all." Well, then, what would 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: computers don't know 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 methods were 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 massively parallel search engine 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 found at

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 ---

Critics 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.

Anthony 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 electronically.

The 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.

“It never 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?”

The answer, 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 consulting friends.

In 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.

Forty-five percent of students who took part in the study reported that the electronic testing system reduced the likelihood of their cheating during the course.

Stephen 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.

“It’s good to see this program working,” Satris said. “It does an end run around cheating.”

The report 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.)

The payoff, 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.

Since tests 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.

And then there’s the common argument about administrative efficiency: An institution can keep a permanent electronic record of its students.

Survey 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.

From a 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.

“It works 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 [stokes@SIENA.EDU]

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 [pdoherty@BU.EDU]

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

Hi Pat,

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 understand.

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 accounting.

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 assignments --- 

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 --- 

Bob Jensen

August 29, 2007 reply from Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]


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 Barsky.

Bob Jensen's threads on "Online Education Effectiveness and Testing" are at

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 Group, 2007
Group Critical Reading Score 1-Year Change (Reading) 10-Year Change (Reading) Math Score 1-Year Change (Math) 10-Year Change (Math) Writing Score 1-Year Change (Writing)
American Indian 487 0 +12 494 0 +19 473 -1
Asian 514 +4 +18 578 0 +18 513 +1
Black 433 -1 -1 429 0 +6 425 -3
Mexican American 455 +1 +4 466 +1 +8 450 -2
Puerto Rican 459 0 +5 454 -2 +7 447 -1
Other Hispanic 459 +1 -7 463 0 -5 450 0
White 527 0 +1 534 -2 +8 518 -1
Other 497 +3 -15 512 -1 -2 493 0
All 502 -1 -3 515 -3 +4 494 -3

This year’s total declines are all the more striking because they follow 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 admission ---

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:

Talk Show

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 education world.

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 development."

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."

Jensen Comment
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 parties.

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 --- Click Here
"CIA and Vatican Edit Wikipedia Entries,", August 18, 2007 --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
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

Hi Jagdish,

Although India has a much more scholarly history while the Vikings were plundering and raping, some minor inventions of my ancestors should not be overlooked:

     Springer Dog Runner
     Serpent Sediment Sluicing

     Jarlsberg cheese
     Cheese Slicer
     Whaling: the explosive harpoon

     Opera (browser software)
     Anir Vertical mouse

You can read more about our deck-mounted whaling cannon at

Other Norwegian inventions include aerosol spray and the gas turbine ---

Alas, my ancestors had an inferiority complex because of the darn Swedes ---

Aside from 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 ---

Bob Jensen

From: AECM, Accounting Education using Computers and Multimedia [mailto:AECM@LISTSERV.LOYOLA.EDU] On Behalf Of Pathak, jagdish
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 3:02 PM

I hope 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.
Albert Einstein.

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.
Mark Twain.

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 .
French scholar Romain Rolland.

India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.
Hu Shih
(former 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.

Jagdish Pathak, PhD
North American Editor- Managerial Auditing Journal (EMERALD) &
Associate Professor of Accounting & Systems
Accounting & Finance Area
Odette School of Business
University of Windsor
401 Sunset
Windsor, N9B 3P4, ON

Voice: 519.253.3000 Ext3131
FAX: 519.973.7073

Cyber Home:


"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 [1] 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 ---

The 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 basketball program.

The gist 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.”

Later that 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.”

A month 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!”

An instant 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.…”

The reply from the athlete: “Stop cakin’ and finish the paper....dang!”

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.”

The case, 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 Press.
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 Community 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 classroom instruction.
Scott Jaschik, "Political Engagement 101," Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2007 ---

At a 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 ---
Jensen Comment
Talk about left of the leftests bias in the classroom!

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at


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?

At the 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 DVDs.

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 sites.

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 knowledge.

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 proposition.

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 faces extinction.

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

Biased Media:  Will PBS ever admit that the greens are biased and misleading?

"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 miserably?

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 school.

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 uncontroversial.

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 supporters.

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 ---;jsessionid=9a3093efda991d1f1a37?articleid=1795
Jensen Comment
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 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




Many of us may not consider a job search “a simple yet effective, enjoyable journey,” but that’s exactly what the creators of this vertical employment search engine strive to provide. The site features millions of positions fed from thousands of job boards and HR sites. You can easily refine searches by job type, work experience, education and date posted with a single click of your mouse. Through partnerships with Working Mother, Care2 and, to name a few, the site offers specialty searches that limit results to mom-, eco- and 50-plus-friendly companies, respectively.


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.


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 capitalists.

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 hour.

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 abundance.

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 generation.

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 marginal-cost pricing.

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 total electricity.

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 hundreds.

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 electricity providers.

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 schizophrenia
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 tested.
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.
, 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 Peter Parkers.
PhysOrg, August 29, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
Now people can have a dance and be partners for life even if one partner is shy and/or unwilling.

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 cancer.
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.
, 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: 10.1086/519852

"Male deer are born to live fast, die young," PhysOrg, August 31, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
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 European adolescents.
"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 away.

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, Powerful Words
A City Upon a Hill: A history of sermons in America.

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.

These are 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, and was.

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 (Norton, 1974).

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 right.

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 --- Click Here
Bob Jensen "gums it up" in Hollywood on his 100th Birthday!

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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 some examples:

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 tell you?"

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 out of.

The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why women like Chinese food so much.
The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is "Not Now."

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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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