Video of Roger Williams Playing Autumn Leaves ---
Video of Roger Williams Playing Autumn Leaves ---
Autumn Leaves (Frank Sinatra) ---
o of Roger Williams Playing Autumn Leaves ---
Autumn Leaves (Nat "King" Cole) ---
Autumn Leaves (Andrea Bocelli) ---
Autumn Leaves (Jazz piano trio) ---

The above picture was actually taken at the end of October 2005 when there was less snow on the mountains
We can now see quite a lot of snow on the Presidential Range about 20 miles northeast of our closer Kinsman Range.
It has been a great year for foliage and relatively warm October weather.

Above is a view of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains
Below is a view of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Clay, and Mt. Washington taken from our front porch
Twin Mountain in the Twin Mountain Range is in the foreground
Each day of late autumn brings us closer to skiing season
But now we're still enjoying colors of autumn leaves



 The above rock is in the middle of our circular driveway
Below you can make out part of my neighbor's swimming pool that we enjoy when they occasionally come up here
Our old maple tree's trunk below is over fourteen feet in circumference


Autumn PowerPoint Show (use the arrow keys for picture transitions) --- Click Here


Tidbits on October 17, 2007
Bob Jensen

Videos From Bob Jensen's Personal Camera (the pictures are clear but some of them lost a bit in the video) ---
The Tidbits.wmv video is narrated.

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to 

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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

You can read about Erika's surgeries and see her pictures at
Personal pictures are at
Some personal videos are at 

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

Set up free conference calls at  

World Clock ---

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  ---

Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

A Very Short Video History of Religion ---

Roger Williams in Concert

Halloween Hangman (interactive video; randomly hit the buttons)  ---

From Princeton
University Channel (video and audio) ---

Ideas Worth Spreading ---

Mathematics for Economics: Enhancing Teaching and Learning (includes video tutorials) ---

Bowdoin College Combines Old and New Architecture ---

Snowball is a medium sulfur-crested Eleanora cockatoo and he loves to dance and sing ---

The word-crafted version of California's SB 777 Law (signed by Governor Schwarzenegger) ---
A video debate from both sides that leaves viewers pretty well confused ---
The bill should be called the Lawyers Full Employment Act since California courts are bound to become crammed with harassment lawsuits coming form all sides of society seeking to win the legal lottery. The losers inevitably will be California taxpayers who ultimately will foot the bill of their school districts defending themselves in lawsuits, many of which will be cookie cutter lawsuits, i.e., thousands of lawsuits that are virtual photocopies with the names, dates, and places changed.

Free music downloads ---

Richard Wagner's 'Die Walkuere' From the Washington National Opera (Entire Performance ) ---
Placido Domingo, Anja Kampe, Alan Held, Gidon Saks, Linda Watson, Elena Zaremba, and Fricka Zaremba

Violinist Julia Fischer Voted Artist of the Year 2007 ---

Leos Janacek's 'Jenufa' From the Washington National Opera ---

Josh Ritter in Full Concert (poetic in the style of Bob Dylan but a better singer) ---

Love Is On A Roll (Don Williams video ---

Jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut and pop icon Elvis Presley aren't a likely pairing: Chestnut is one of the top pianists of a generation born many years after songs like "Love Me Tender," "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" made Presley the king of rock 'n' roll. But on Chestnut's new CD, Cyrus Plays Elvis, he offers a fresh outlook on Presley ---

'Rag and Bone' by The White Stripes (Meg White, Drummer) ---

The Americans Are Coming (rock) ---

Roger Williams in Concert

Glenn Beck on Global Warming ---

October 13, 2007 message from Peter Webster (The Acoustic Music Archive) []

Dear Bob,

I wondered whether you would link to me from your website. My site is called The Acoustic Music Archive. I have posted lyrics, chords and information about the origins of some of my favorite traditional songs, together with my own recordings of them that visitors can optionally listen to.

I have provided some HTML below that you could paste in to your Links page ( ):

The Acoustic Music Archive 

The site is a place where people can find lyrics and chords for folk songs, discover their origins and listen to recordings of them.

Let me if you want to link and I will put a reciprocal link back to you from my links page ( ).


Peter Webster
The Acoustic Music Archive 

iTune purchases can be played on five iPods at the same time
"Making iTunes Music Purchases Available to Multiple Computers," by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2007; Page B4 ---

Q: With the new iPods coming out, how do you deactivate an old one? I think Apple only allows a certain number to be used with an account.

A: You don't have to deactivate an iPod if you replace it. The copy-protection rules imposed on Apple by the entertainment companies allow for copy-protected music and videos purchased from the iTunes Music Store to be stored and played on an unlimited number of iPods.

The only "deactivation" iTunes users have to perform is on a computer -- Windows or Mac -- because the copy-protection rules allow purchased, copy-protected songs and videos to be played on no more than five computers at a time. So, before you replace a computer on which you are storing such purchased, protected iTunes material, you should deauthorize the machine by going to the "Store" menu in iTunes and selecting "Deauthorize Computer...".

Of course, if you aren't at or near the five-computer limit, this issue may not matter. It's also irrelevant if none of the music or videos you play from within iTunes is copy-protected material purchased from the iTunes store. You can happily use iTunes and iPods without buying any copy-protected stuff from Apple. You can restrict your music and videos to those you copy from legally obtained CDs, those you create yourself, or those you buy in unprotected formats from iTunes, or other sites, like eMusic.

Photographs and Art

This is beautiful!
China PowerPoint Show  (use the arrow keys for picture transitions) --- Click Here

Autumn PowerPoint Show (use the arrow keys for picture transitions) --- Click Here

This is neat!
Motion makes your brain see images in 3-D ---

Tate Museum --- 

Art-Dept (photographs) ---

Koscs Gábor (photographs) ---

Bowdoin College Combines Old and New Architecture (Video)  ---

 Realist Sculpture by Ron Mueck ---

Brian Caine Photography ---


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

BookMooch allows you to trade books on your shelf for other books ---

"Only minutes after creating a list of books I am willing to give away on Bookmooch, I already had enough points to request free books from others. Tomorrow, I am mailing two complete strangers some old books. And four strangers have promised to send me books I was planning to buy on Amazon. An excellent trade! Bookmooch works!"
- Solana Larsen (a BookMooch member)
See Joanne Kaufman, "Clear the Bookshelf and Fill It Up Again, All Online," The New York Times, October 15, 2007 --- Click Here

March 27, 2007 message from Tina Bungert []

. . . I would like to introduce you to our service and web site Hitflip that might be an interesting addition to your links for books and education. Hitflip is a community to swap used books and other original media. It is therefore an easy and cheap alternative to the existing online book stores. You can find hitflip at  .
The just recently launched English version can be found at .

Poetry Magazine --- 
Poetry Magazines ---
Poetry Daily ---

The Literature Page (Classics) ---

The Uncommercial Traveller by Charles Dickens --- Click Here

Songs Of Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) ---

Underwoods by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)  --- Click Here

“Islamofascism” is a noxious and counterproductive term — a bludgeon disguised as an idea. Its use comes at a cost, even beyond the obvious one that goes with making people dumber. “Islamofascism” is the preferred term of those who don’t see any distinction between Al Qaeda, the Iranian mullahs, and the Baathists. Guess what? They are different, which might just have been worth understanding a few years ago. (Better late than never, maybe; but not a whole lot better.)The more serious consequence, over the long term, is that of offering deliberate insult to those Muslims who would be put to the sword under the reign of Jihadi fundamentalists. Disgust for cheap stunts done in the name of “Islamofascism awareness” is not a matter of doubting that the jihadis mean what they say. On the contrary, it goes with taking them seriously as enemies.
Scott McLemee, "Be Aware (Beware)," Inside Higher Ed, October 17, 2007 ---
For the really suave expression of Islamophobofascism, however, no local sideshow can compete with an interview that the British novelist Martin Amis gave last year. At the highest stages of cosmopolitan literary influence, it seems, one may express ideas worthy of a manic loon phoning a radio talk-show and get them published in the London Times.

“There’s a definite urge — don’t you have it? — to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order,’ ” Amis said. “What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation — further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan.… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children.”

The cultural theorist Terry Eagleton issued a response to Amis in the preface to a new edition of his book “Ideology: An Introduction” — first published in 1991 by Verso, which reissued it a few weeks ago. It stirred up a tiny tempest in the British press, which reduced the argument to the dimensions of a clash between two “bad boys” (albeit ones grown quite long in the tooth).

Quickly mounting to impressive heights of inanity, the coverage and commentary managed somehow to ignore the actual substance of the dispute: what Amis said (his explicit call to persecute all Muslims until they acted right) and how Eagleton responded.

“Joseph Stalin seems not to be Amis’s favorite historical character,” wrote Eagleton, alluding to the novelist’s Koba the Dread, a venture into Soviet political history published a while back. “Yet there is a good dose of Stalinism in the current right-wing notion that a spot of rough stuff may be justified by the end in view. Not just roughing up actual or intending criminals, mind, but the calculated harassment of a whole population. Amis is not recommending such tactics for criminals or suspects only; he is recommending them as a way of humiliating and insulting certain kinds of men and women at random, so they will return home and teach their children to be nice to the White Man. There seems to be something mildly defective about this logic.”

Eagleton’s introduction doesn’t underestimate the virulence of the jihadists. But his remarks do at least have the good sense to acknowledge that humiliation is a weapon that will not work in the long run. (As an aside, let me note that some of us don’t have the luxury of either ignoring terrorism or regarding it as something that will be abated by a more aggressive posture in the world. Life in Washington, D.C., for the past several years has meant rarely getting on the subway without wondering if this might be the day. The “surge” did not reduce the faint background radiation of dread one little bit. Funny how these thing work out, or don’t.)

Anybody with an ounce of brains and responsibility can tell that fostering an environment of hysteria is useful only to one side of this conflict.“The best way to preserve one’s values,” writes Eagleton, “is to practice them.” Well said; and worth keeping in mind whenever the Islamophobofascists start to rush about, trying to drum up some business.

We shouldn’t regard them as just nuisances. They are something much more dangerous. Determined to turn the whole world against us, they act as sleeper cells of malice and stupidity. There are sober ways to respond to danger, and insane ways. It is the demagogue’s stock in trade to blur the distinction.

In the spirit of Scott's article above, you might read the "Resident Alien" sermon forwarded by Dr. Wolff --- Click Here

Forwarded by Dick Haar

Let's Tax The Rich!

The latest figures (2005 data) from the IRS and the Tax Foundation shows:

The top 1% accounted for 21.2% of all income and paid 39.4% of all taxes

The top 5% accounted for 35.8% of all income and paid 60.0% of all taxes

That's right the top 5% paid more taxes than the other 95%

The top 50% in income paid 97% of all taxes.

Gee Whiz let's lay some more taxes on the rich.

Gee Whiz let's also lay a Windfall Tax on all pension savers (i.e. a huge penalty for long-term saving by all workers):
. . . Nancy Pelosi wants to put a Windfall Tax on all stock market profits
(including Retirement fund, 401Ks and Mutual Funds! and CREF accounts) . . . When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied "We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities." "Windfall profits taxes could go a long ways to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as 'Americans'."
Free Republic, October 16, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
If this Windfall Tax becomes reality after the Democrats sweep the 2008 election, it will be too bad that you're locked into your retirement savings plans (e.g., CREF) that depend on the stock market, because the stock market will plunge south as soon as it even appears that Pelosi's Windfall Tax has a chance.But when the value of your retirement account plunges you won't have to pay as much Windfall Tax. Should you look at this as good news or bad news?

This is about as close as you can get to a retroactive tax without actually imposing a retroactive tax. Even the millions of employed minorities have to fear this egalitarian confiscation of their savings. Even if you shift your pension plan out of corporate equity investments (stocks), you will be liable for accumulated capital gains up to the date you shift to other investments.  For example, if you started saving for retirement in CREF 30 years ago, nearly all the value of your portfolio is capital gain subject to the Windfall Tax.

This may be a shot in the arm for the real estate market as investors cash in their corporate equity savings and invest in real estate. But it won't do the working poor or the unemployed any good as the corporations cut back on operations due to higher cost of capital. But don't panic yet! The Democrats have recently proved (Senator Reid in particular) that they're just as vulnerable, or possibly more vulnerable, to corporate lobbying powerhouses.

Every major daily paper in New York took note of President Bush's decision to bestow the first Medal of Honor of Operation Enduring Freedom on Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy - a Long Islander who gave his life for his country and his fellow SEALs. Every paper but one, that is.
"Unfit to Print, The New York Post,

The Treasury Department announced today that it had designated three Saudi nationals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (“SDGTs”). All three are accused of providing funds to al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Group (“ASG”). The first, Abdul Rahim Al-Talhi, is described as an “al Qaida-affiliated financier, a loyal colleague of Usama bin Laden, and a member of a Saudi Arabia-based donor network funding terrorists and supporting extremist activity.” The second, Muhammad ‘Abdallah Salih Sughayr, is the “principal conduit” for “unidentified Saudi extremist donors wishing to provide financial and ideological support to the ASG network in the Philippines.” And the third, Fahd Muhammad ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Khashiban, “gave then-ASG leader Khadaffy Janjalani approximately US $18,000 to finance a planned ASG bombing operation targeting either the U.S. or the Australian embassy in Manila [in the early 2000s].” The plot was disrupted by Philippine authorities “before its completion,” but “Khashiban continued to routinely provide money to the ASG.” I thought of two things, primarily, when reading this today. First, every account I’ve read has said that the Saudis have been fairly unhelpful in cracking down on the jihadi finance network operating on their own soil.
Thomas Joscelyn, "Saudi Cash for al Qaeda," FrontPage Magazine, October 11, 2007 ---

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
Dwight D. Eisenhower ---

MTV Arabia, a new 24-hour free satellite channel, will begin broadcasting in Arabic across the Middle East on Nov. 16. The Viacom -owned network's flagship show, Hip HopNa ("my hip-hop"), will be co-hosted by Saudi rapper Qusai Khidr and Palestinian-American producer Farid Nassar, aka Fredwreck, who has worked with Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and other marquee names. The show will visit 10 cities across the Middle East in search of talent, giving would-be Arab rap stars an international platform. Noujaim won the show's first competition, and Fredwreck has produced one of his tracks. "This is a music genre that is bubbling underneath the surface here, and we want to claim it as our own," says Bhavneet Singh, head of emerging markets for MTV Networks International (MTVNI ) . . . And U.S. media giant Viacom aims to deliver it, as well as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and more . . . MTV Arabia is the biggest test to date of the network's two-decade-old localization strategy. MTV's flagship music channel has seen its American TV ratings slip and has struggled online. Management believes the biggest growth will come overseas, and the network now pumps out a blend of international and local tunes from Russia to Indonesia to Pakistan. That has helped MTV and sister operations, such as VH1 and Nickelodeon, reach 508 million households in 161 countries. "This isn't going to be MTV U.S.," Bill Roedy, vice-chairman of MTV Networks, says of the latest offering. "It is Arabic MTV made by Arabs for Arabs."
"The Arab World Wants Its MTV," Business Week, October 22, 2007 --- Click Here

"The Politics of Disaster," The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2007; Page A20 ---

We've been warning of the financial disaster looming off the Florida coast ever since Governor Charlie Crist socialized the state's hurricane insurance market and put Florida taxpayers on the hook for billions. Earlier this year, Mr. Crist stumped for and then signed a law making the Florida government the state's dominant insurer, but without the reserves that would be required of real insurance companies. The plan will work splendidly as long as there are no hurricanes in Florida, but the state will face a difficult challenge once the inevitable storm hits: how to pry new tax revenue out of Floridians just as they begin sifting through the rubble that used to be their homes.

Now Florida's politicians are doubling down on their mistake, by trying to make all American taxpayers subsidize insurance for Florida homeowners. Congressman Ron Klein (D., Fla.) is hoping for a floor vote this fall on his Homeowners' Defense Act and has been assured by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that this is a top priority. Governor Crist is also lobbying hard.

Mr. Klein's bill would force the U.S. Treasury to issue below-market loans to state-insurance programs, while also creating a kind of Fannie Mae of disaster reinsurance, a federally chartered organization called the "National Catastrophe Risk Consortium." Like Fannie, the consortium would carry an implicit guarantee from the federal government as it issues securities in the capital markets, distorting prices as it sells subsidized reinsurance to participating states, all the while saddling taxpayers with new risks. According to Treasury Assistant Secretary Phillip Swagel, "Taxpayers nationwide would subsidize insurance rates in high-risk areas, which would be both costly and unfair."

Transferring the risk from condo-owners in Boca to taxpayers in Syracuse does not reduce the cost of hurricane disasters. In fact, now that Congress looks ready to volunteer middle-class taxpayers nationwide as the financial backstop for lovely beachfront properties, South Florida developers will have even less incentive to use sturdy materials and set homes a reasonable distance from the waterline. We have already run this experiment with the National Flood Insurance Program, with predictable results. When people can buy insurance at below-market rates, they tend to stay in accident-prone homes.

Continued in article

Meanwhile, the credibility of conservatives has diminished steadily. These days they cannot even achieve clarity on the meaning of their favorite cliches. For instance, the president hates "federalized health care," but sponsors a Medicare prescription drug program that wastes hundreds of billions on drug companies and private insurers. Right-wing definitions no longer seem so clear, either. When the government awards a billion dollars in sweetheart mercenary contracts to a wealthy Republican family in Michigan, that's "private enterprise." But when the government helps a struggling middle-class family in Maryland send its children to the doctor, that's creeping socialism.
Joe Conason, "Why 'Socialism' Evokes No Fear," RealClearPolitics, October 11, 2007 ---

Three months after Democrats made headlines with a plan to double the taxes on hedge funds and private equity, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems to have had a change of heart. On Monday, the Nevada Senator indicated he won't follow through on the tax-the-rich plan, demurring that the Senate is awfully busy. This is a little awkward for a party that has made income inequality a campaign staple. But the turnabout isn't so mysterious in an election season when Wall Street moneymen have made more than $6 million in political donations, with most going to Democrats, especially a certain Senator from New York
"Reid's Tax Hedge," The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2007; Page A20 ---

The word-crafted version of California's SB 777 Law (signed by Governor Schwarzenegger) ---
Jensen Comment
A video debate from both sides that leaves viewers pretty well confused ---
The bill should be called the Lawyers Full Employment Act since California courts are bound to become crammed with harassment lawsuits coming form all sides of society seeking to win the legal lottery. The losers inevitably will be California taxpayers who ultimately will foot the bill of their school districts defending themselves in lawsuits, many of which will be cookie cutter lawsuits, i.e., thousands of lawsuits that are virtual photocopies with the names, dates, and places changed.

Dr. Hawley Crippen was hanged for murdering and dismembering his showgirl wife, then fleeing with his mistress across the high seas with the police in hot pursuit. Loaded with enough sordid details and twists to eventually fuel more than 40 books and several movies, this London case is second only to Jack the Ripper in its sensational notoriety . . . For nearly a century, Crippen, a homeopathic physician, was thought to have poisoned his flamboyant and domineering wife with an obscure toxin, dismembered her body and buried little more than tissue in his London cellar. Crippen was labeled “one of the most dangerous and remarkable men who have lived in this century.” . . . “Crippen was not convicted just of murder – but the murder of Cora Crippen,” Trestrail said. “If that body is not Cora, then that’s another trial.”
"Science casts doubt on famous British murder case:  Ninety-seven years after an American was hanged in London in one of the most notorious and famous murder cases in British history, forensic science at Michigan State University is producing evidence that his execution was a mistake," PhysOrg, October 16, 2007 --- 

The fighting in Pakistan this week has been more in tense than any current op erations across the border in Afghanistan. President Musharraf is paying, with interest, for trying to cut a deal with Islamist fanatics. The combat operations in North Waziristan involve thousands of ground troops, artillery barrages and attack aircraft. This isn't internal policing. It's war.
Ralph Peters, "Coddling Killers:  Pakistan's Appeasement Fails," New York Post, October 11, 2007 ---

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a BBC interview, played down the Israeli (possible nuclear site) raid, saying that Israeli jets took aim at empty military buildings, but he did not give a specific location. His statement differed from the initial Syrian claim that it had repulsed the air raid before an attack occurred.
Hugh Naylor, "Syria Tells Journalists Israeli Raid Did Not Occur," The New York Times, October 11, 2007 ---

Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports. The description of the target addresses one of the central mysteries surrounding the Sept. 6 attack, and suggests that Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state. The Bush administration was divided at the time about the wisdom of Israel’s strike, American officials said, and some senior policy makers still regard the attack as premature. The attack on the reactor project has echoes of an Israeli raid more than a quarter century ago, in 1981, when Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to have begun operating. That attack was officially condemned by the Reagan administration, though Israelis consider it among their military’s finest moments. In the weeks before the Iraq war, Bush administration officials said they believed that the attack set back Iraq’s nuclear ambitions by many years. By contrast, the facility that the Israelis struck in Syria appears to have been much further from completion, the American and foreign officials said. They said it would have been years before the Syrians could have used the reactor to produce the spent nuclear fuel that could, through a series of additional steps, be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium.
David E. Sanger and Mark Mazzetti, "Analysts Find Israel Struck a Nuclear Project Inside Syria," The New York Times, October 14, 2007 ---

A bomb hidden in a cart of toys killed two children and wounded 17 others in a playground in northern Iraq on Friday, the first day of a national holiday to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Mussab Al-Khairalla, Yahoo News, October 12, 2007 ---

Canada's socialized health care system, hailed as a model by Michael Moore in his documentary, "Sicko," is hurting, government officials admit, citing not enough money for more equipment and staff to handle high risk births. Sarah Plank, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Ministry of Health, said a spike in high risk and premature births coupled with the lack of trained nurses prompted the surge in mothers heading across the border for better care
Sara Bonasteel, "Canada's Expectant Moms Heading to U.S. to Deliver," Fox News, October 10, 2007 ---
Also see Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ---

An art theft from the art gallery at Linfield College is particularly personal and painful for the artist. The Oregonian reported that the work, “The Sexy Sex: All Nude Revue Rug One,” was a life size nude self-portrait by Tamera Bremer, a Portland artist who is an adjunct at the college. She told the paper that she felt “violated” by the theft. As to how she got the idea to produce a nude of herself in the form of a rug, she said that she got the idea that “a bearskin rug could really be a bare-skin rug.”
Inside Higher Ed, October 12, 2007 ---

China's Looming Crisis-Inflation Returns ---

Shed not for her the bitter tear Nor give the heart to vain regret Tis but the casket that lies here The gem that filled it sparkles yet.
Epitaph of Myra Maybelle Shirley "Belle" Starr ---
According to legend,the Bandit Queen Belle Starr had been a spy, a Confederate General, the brains behind many outlaw gang, and the consort of nearly every western badman including all of the Younger Brothers. In 1889, she was killed by a shotgun blast while horseback riding. Although there were multiple suspects including both of her children, the killer was never identified

Wansink's research on bottomless bowls of creamy tomato soup (hidden tubes imperceptibly keep refilling them) won in the nutrition category. He was on hand to receive his trophy, Oct. 4, at Harvard University from six authentic Nobel laureates. The research, published as a featured article in the journal Obesity Research in 2005 showed that people eating from soup bowls that don't empty ate 73 percent more soup than those eating from normal bowls, said Wansink. Yet, the slurpers at the self-filling bowls did not rate themselves any fuller than the normal-bowl slurpers, said Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell, and author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think."
PhysOrg, October 12, 2007 --- 
The Ig Nobel homepage is at
A new survey says working in an office may be hard on the waistlines of nearly half of U.S. workers ---

To finance its Schip largesse, the House would eviscerate Medicare Advantage, an innovative 2003 program that allows seniors to choose among various private health plans. It's growing rapidly and currently serves some 8.3 million seniors, or about 18% of the eligible population. According to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, most are the urban poor, seniors in rural areas and minorities. No doubt they are attracted by the additional benefits, increased access to specialized medicine, and coordinated preventative services that Advantage offers over the traditional version.
"The Schip Revelation," The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2007; Page A12 ---

Google famously and charmingly admonishes itself, "Don't Be Evil." Google also cultivates the image of the ultragreen company, giving subsidies to employees to buy hybrid cards and spending millions to install 1.6 megawatts of photovoltaic panels at its Mountain View, CA, headquarters. So on the day that Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize for promulgating accurate climate science in the public interest, here's a riddle: why does Google lend its technical muscle to science-bashing and fact-distorting websites that mislead Gmail readers and other Google customers on global warming and climate change?
David Talbot, "Nobel Prizes, Climate Keywords:  Google helps organize the world's disinformation, too," MIT's Technology Review, October 12, 2007 ---
David Talbot is the Senior Editor of MIT's Technology Review ---

After President Bush vetoed Congress's major expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Nancy Pelosi declared: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say, 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.' " As far as political self-parody goes, that one ought to enter the record books. It's wrong on the facts, for one, which Speaker Pelosi knows. The Schip bill was not some all-or-nothing proposition: A continuing resolution fully funds the program through mid-November, so none of the 6.6 million recipients will lose coverage. And even if Washington can't agree by then, there will be another stopgap, because Schip might as well already be an entitlement. In truth, the Bush Administration endorses a modest expansion. A majority of Congress backs a much larger expansion. The controversy is over the role of government in health care.
"Schip Howlers When children become political props," The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2007 ---

It is true that a house divided against itself is a house that cannot stand. There is a division in the American house now and believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are now developing this political year. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as President.
Lyndon Baines Johnson ---

October 2007 Presidential Candidate Fund Raising Totals to Date ---
Honest Abe would never have a chance to become President of the United States in the 21st Century

David Bach's "Latte Principle" --- Click Here
A Penny Saved Compounds to Much More Than a Dollar Earned
Jim Mahar provided the following two links:

"Penny's Add Up to Millions," Free Money Finance, October 15, 2007 ---

Here's a post from Yahoo Finance that details the author's struggle with her husband to take his lunch to work. But the essence of what she says is really that saving/watching your pennies is the key to wealth. Her thoughts:

I'm convinced that for the average person who wants to build wealth, pennies count.

Pennies have a funny way of snowballing into dollars, and then hundreds, and then thousands, especially if you use them to buy the stocks of well-managed companies. Consider the story of a parking attendant who earns $20,000 a year but has amassed a $500,000 equity portfolio. Or the one about a group of New Yorkers who managed to save for a down payment on a (very expensive, very tiny) piece of the Big Apple. Or the clan of seven dubbed "America's cheapest family," who paid off their mortgage in nine years on a salary of $35,000 a year.

I've seen article after article bashing David Bach's "Latte Principle" -- the idea that if you save on small spending you can amass a large amount of wealth. The main argument against it is that people should be paying attention to large expenditures -- that's where the real difference is made. But Bach isn't saying to ignore the expensive decisions in life. He's just aware that for many of us there are small amounts we spend every day without really thinking about how much they end up costing us. And that if we just limit a few of them and save that money, we can save a good amount throughout the years.

Continued in article

"How to Save a Bundle of Money,"  Free Money Finance, October 15, 2007 ---

Yahoo Finance has a list of ten money drains along with the annual costs of each of them. I view this as a list of where we all can save a bundle of money. Here's their list as well as the annual amounts spent on each of them (in other words, what you could save if you eliminated them):

1. Coffee -- $360 per year.
2. Cigarettes -- $1,660 a year.
3. Alcohol -- $3,650 per year.
4. Bottled water from convenience stores -- $365 per year.
5. Manicures -- $1,068 per year.
6. Car washes -- $348 per year.
7. Weekday lunches out -- $2,350 a year.
8. Vending machines snacks -- $260 per year.
9. Interest charges on credit card bills -- $4,868 in interest (over time).
10. Unused memberships -- $480 per year.

Now of course I wouldn't suggest that someone cut out everything and eliminate all of life's pleasures. After all, we should use part of our money to enjoy ourselves. But for those people out there looking for a way to save a bit extra, for those who simply "can't make it on what I earn", and for those who would simply like to pay down their debt, this is a pretty good list to consider cutting down on -- even if it's for a short period of time. And you don't have to eliminate each of the items above, simply consider cutting back on them. There's still tons of savings available by cutting your car washes, manicures, or alcohol consumption in half.

And if these aren't enough money saving ideas, check out my list of ways to save money from 2005-2006 as well as my 2007 list.

Jensen Comment
Of course eliminating all the above would not necessarily be wise. If there's five feet of snow on the ground, I'm not about to wash my own car. Yet getting the car washed in winter is more important than in summer if you live where they salt and sand the roads. Spending $358 each winter car washes may well save thousands if you can, thereby, double the life of your car.

New cars lose 60% of value in the first four years. Most people waste more money on cars and interest charges for car financing than any other single cash drain in their lives, including the cost of housing. Cars are a necessity of life for most of us who have no convenient public transportation alternatives. But frequent trading in of good cars for new cars is a monumental mistake in finance. Leasing is also a synonym for stupidity. Insiders call it "fleecing a car." But I'm grateful for ignorant people who are constantly turning in good owned or leased cars. Most of the cars I've owned over the years were turned back leased cars. Great mechanics put my previously-owned or previously-leased vehicles back in top shape, and I save a bundle relative to their prior owners. If you must finance your next vehicle, please be a smart shopper and be informed how dealers cheat ---

I lived in San Antonio for 24 years where over 500 cars per month are stolen. See the video ---
My answer was to buy an old car (usually a station wagon) and make it look even less desirable to the thousands of car thieves cruising about San Antonio by day and by night. Little did thieves know that underneath the hood was a new power train and other features that made my old heaps just like new. I always remember a comedy show that featured a company in Los Angeles that would ghettoize a new or relatively-new car to make it look like a junk yard dog. My city cars were like that. My wife and I were more safe since our cars were of little temptation to carjackers. But my children generally crouched down in the seats or asked to be let out a block away so their friends would not see them in my cars.

Next to car financing, the biggest mistake most people make is credit card financing to a point where they seldom zero out what they owe on credit cards. This is the "dirty secret" of that makes credit card companies suck billions upon billions of dollars out of the economy ---
When we're about to go on long trips, I overpay monthly expenses ahead of time so that if we're delayed in returning home we never have to worry about being charged interest or late payment penalties. For example, I put huge credit balances into our credit card accounts before going on a long adventure.

Do I buy into David Bach's "Latte Principle?"
Well yes and no. I do not believe in Spartan living so I can watch my savings grow for the sake of watching my savings grow. I don't drink latte, but I also opt for four-star or five-star hotels or lovely country inns when my wife and I are on adventures. Expensive restaurants are generally wastes of money, but we go to them when the mood is right and/or the friends we're with prefer a top restaurant. Often you can eat just as well in the hotel's lounge as in the expensive restaurant down the hall. There's a huge difference between what you splurge for on daily (like credit card interest and latte) versus what you splurge for infrequently. When I used to come home at night and have a couple of drinks daily, I drank cheap Boca Chico rum in my cubalibras. Now that I don't drink daily, I splurge on fine wine and expensive liquor once in a while.

In the final analysis, I would have to say that I live better in retirement because I pretty much followed the "Latte Principle" before it was called "Latte Principle." Most of my travels in life were financed by others who made me sing (lecture) for my supper, but I enjoyed the fellowship and strokes of these types of trips more than I did boring leisure vacations. I spent as much as I could possibly afford on land and houses, but these generally returned more than I paid for them. I spent as little as possible on cars and preferred to buy finely-tailored suits in upscale second hand shops (look for Second Looks in San Antonio and Austin).. I think most of the former owners of my suits had passed on in life.

I never argue with my wife over money even when she tips almost as much as the check itself.  I never object when she hands out ten dollar bills to receptionists,  postal clerks, trash haulers, window washers, and bell ringers outside the Wal-Mart stores. She's thrifty but likes a lot of new things she generally buys on sale. She seldom shops in stores. But the UPS truck stops up here in the mountains nearly every day. While my wife is wearing the "8" and "0" buttons off on  phone in our den (mostly she orders gifts), I'm on the computer ordering everything from books to groceries to space heaters from (a great, great place to shop). Our UPS driver's name is Joe, and if I'm not at home he comes into the basement and assembles what he's just delivered. Will your UPS driver do that?

I truly got my money's worth out of faculty clubs. I would've joined expensive country clubs but I never had time for a round of golf even once a week. Such is the price one pays for being a workaholic.

It's easier for a workaholic to live by the "Latte Principle." But most of us workaholics are doing what we like best.

October 17, 2007 reply from Barbara Scofield [scofield@GSM.UDALLAS.EDU]

When my husband was in training to be a police chaplain, the trainer began talking about the issue of stolen cars by pointing to my husband and saying, “What kind of car do you drive?” Rob, my husband, responded, “A ’99 Saturn wagon.” The police trainer told him, “You can leave the keys in your car.”

Barbara W. Scofield, PhD, CPA


Not Nobel Winners," The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2007; Page A10 ---

In Olso yesterday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World.

The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe.

Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping the pro-democracy group Block 8406.

Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country.

Or to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country.

Or to Garry Kasparov and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin's slide toward authoritarian rule.

Or to the people of Iraq, who bravely work to rebuild and reunite their country amid constant threats to themselves and their families from terrorists who deliberately target civilians.

Or to Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili who, despite the efforts of the Kremlin to undermine their young states, stayed true to the spirit of the peaceful "color" revolutions they led in Ukraine and Georgia and showed that democracy can put down deep roots in Russia's backyard.

Or to Britain's Tony Blair, Ireland's Bertie Ahern and the voters of Northern Ireland, who in March were able to set aside decades of hatred to establish joint Catholic-Protestant rule in Northern Ireland.

Or to thousands of Chinese bloggers who run the risk of arrest by trying to bring uncensored information to their countrymen.

Or to scholar and activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, jailed presidential candidate Ayman Nour and other democracy campaigners in Egypt.

Or, posthumously, to lawmakers Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Rafik Hariri, George Hawi and Gibran Tueni; journalist Samir Kassir; and other Lebanese citizens who've been assassinated since 2005 for their efforts to free their country from Syrian control.

Or to the Reverend Phillip Buck; Pastor Chun Ki Won and his organization, Durihana; Tim Peters and his Helping Hands Korea; and Liberty in North Korea, who help North Korean refugees escape to safety in free nations.

These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee might consider them for the 2008 award.

Do we want the Shotgun Game to be so dominant in academic research?

Just got another rejection from a journal. I'm not all that surprised, because it was a pretty good (I think it was ranked #5 in it's area) journal and it was a stretch to send this piece there. But you never know - sometimes you catch a referee (and editor) in the right frame of mind. Oh well, this just means we make a few changes and send it back out to another journal. I used to panic about this stuff, but I now know that most papers (if they're decently well done) eventually find a home somewhere. I felt pretty good a couple of weeks back, since I had five pieces under review. But one of them got accepted (darn!) another came back with a revise-and-resubmit, and this one got rejected. So, I'm no longer "Mungo Compliant" - I fall short of the "three papers under review" standard. So it's time to get the R&R's off my desk and back in an editor's hands. I have five other projects in various stages (two of them are actually somewhat completed working papers), but until they're submitted to a journal somewhere, they're nothing but vaporware. So it's back to the academic salt mines...
Unknown Professor who generates the Financial Rounds Blog, October 10, 2007 ---

Jensen Comment
In no way to I want to criticize what the Unknown Professor (I know who he is and respect him a lot) is doing while playing the publish or perish game. Actually he's a recently-tenured and very talented associate professor who's seemingly still playing the "Shotgun Game" he learned to play, as an assistant professor, while seeking tenure and promotion. Most academics still actively seeking publication in research journals are playing the same game.

Think of each shotgun pellet as a research paper which in modern times is generally a co-authored paper that gives rise to more pellets (i.e., more papers) loaded into the shotgun shell. The "Shotgun Game" (my definition) is analogous to standing at one end of a football field and firing a 12-gage into the air while hoping that one or more of the tiny pellets will fall down on a target beyond the opposite goal line. At first the target is a very small Tier 1 academic journal target. There may even be several of small targets of about the same Tier 1 small size, especially when foreign journals are allowed to be targets. The game may be replayed several times with substituted Tier 1 targets until the player and/oror the referees grow weary of repeated plays at the Tier 1 level. Then the player moves up to Tier 2 journals that have targets twice the size of Tier 1 journals and are, accordingly, easier (not necessarily easy) to hit. Then there are Tier 3 journals, Tier 4 journals, and on and on. Ultimately there are conference proceedings with targets that take up half a football field and are easy to hit even when played by blind researchers. Each shell fired is reloaded with pellets that missed the targets on earlier plays of the game.

My point is that the Shotgun Game became the medium of tenure, promotion, and performance evaluation processes over the past four decades. Really talented faculty members who are capable of doing great research studies more analogous to high-powered mortar projectiles that can only be fired infrequently (not annually) are discouraged by their colleges’ annual performance evaluation processes because the mortar-sized studies are long, tedious, and prone to dead ends along the way. But when the mortar rounds eventually hit a target they make a much more noticeable hole so to speak and, thereby, do much more damage to conventional wisdom.

I realize that colleges and universities are aware of the limitations of shotgun-pellet publications  in research, but with annual performance reviews becoming so dominant the Shot Gun Game has become "The Game" in academic research ---
It's no longer a particularly fun or rewarding game, and being happily retired I no longer take the shotgun out of storage. My mind is now focused on larger projectiles rather than pellets.

How would I change the Shotgun Game?
Professors waste too much time loading up small pellets and reloading after trying to deal with reviewer demands that are generally more time consuming than they're worth to the researcher or to the world. I would have the researchers publish their small stuff (pellets) in blogs or personal Websites and let the entire world become the "cloud" of potential reviewers. Promotion and tenure committees, especially at the departmental level, would actually have to read these working papers. Abstracts of working papers could be published in Wikipedia or similar search sites where readers would be linked to the working papers in full. Wikipedia provides "Discussion" tabs where readers could act much like referees who make suggestions for improving or burying each line of work. The researcher could rite rejoinders but is under no obligation to revise the small stuff unless inspired to do so. The papers should be open sharing and free, unlike SSRN working papers that charge fees even to readers who are only mildly curious about the research

This would free up the Tier 1 and possibly Tier 2 journals for formal peer reviews of mortar shells. The Tier 3 and Tier 4 journals would happily float off from the clouds into outer space, never to be seen again.

Controversies over "micro-level" research remain ---

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---

October 13, 2007 reply from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

In business education you bet we want the shotgun game! It is codified into AACSB standards. Professors must be academically qualified, which means only peer-reviewed papers. Locally, the pressure becomes intense to remain AQ. At my school, ANYTHING peer-reviewed counts. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same at other schools. Profs that don't play the game much anymore look through filing cabinets and old floppy disks hoping to find something close enough finished to send out. Stuff that was mercifully killed years ago by the author now gets pulled out and submitted. I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a few that start with the lowest tiered journals because it might increase the chance of an acceptance.

What I find insultingly ludicrous is that getting publications counts for so much while at the same time most published accounting research carries little or no real world value. Perhaps I should qualify that. Any non-education publication with my name attached carries little world value. OK,they all carry no real world value.

And what about ethics? How many authors cave in to what they perceive as unnecessary referee demands just so the paper gets accepted? Isn't this some form of prostitution? And how many co-authors is(are?) too many? Will you add my name to your paper just pulled out of the filing cabinet and dusted off if I add your name to my paper reclaimed from the trash heap?

Perhaps I shouldn't admit it, but I am one of 8 co-authors to a recently accepted paper. It's to a nice journal, and I'm glad I did it. But in the old days, I wouldn't even have put it on my resume for fear that too many would laugh at my joining with 7 others on a paper. But now? Maybe it'll help me keep AQ.

Why is it that securing professional development in education is not a factor in qualifying you to teach accounting classes?

David Albrecht

October 14, 2007 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

I was on the faculty of a university where I encouraged a senior colleague accounting professor to apply for a sabbatical leave. He'd not taken a single leave of absence in over 30 years.

His proposal was to leave town and take several professional courses (not all in accounting) in residence at the University of Texas. This would have done him a lot a good aside from giving him a breather from teaching three of the largest sections of students in the entire university.

A "professional leave" sabbatical, in my viewpoint, would've made him much better able to serve our students with fresh material and renewed enthusiasm.

In spite of my repeated appeals with the rest of our faculty who voted on leave proposals, he was turned down because a professional scholarship proposal was not a research proposal. If he'd proposed running a stupid survey on whether hair color made a difference on passage of the CPA examination in the first sitting among our alumni, he'd have gotten the only sabbatical in his entire career.

This professor was a good teacher but he was not a researcher. He could've conducted a stupid hair color survey, but he refused on principle.

Bob Jensen

Can you succinctly distinguish egalitarianism versus individualism versus communitarianism?

"The Culture War on Facts:  Are you entitled to your own truth?" by Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine, October 9, 2007 ---

"There is a culture war in America, but it is about facts, not values," declare the researchers at the Yale Cultural Cognition Project in a new study called "The Second National Risk and Culture Study: Making Sense of-and Making Progress In-the American Culture War of Fact" (full study not yet available online). Contrary to the late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's famous maxim, the study finds that most Americans believe they're more than entitled to their own opinions; they believe that they are entitled to their own facts. Obviously, this complicates public policy debates.

The chief aim of the Yale Cultural Cognition Project is to show how cultural values shape the public's risk perceptions and related policy beliefs. Project scholars define "cultural cognition" as "the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact to values that define their cultural identities." Their research found that cultural identity values "exert substantially more influence over risk perceptions than does any other individual characteristic, including gender, race, socioeconomic status, education, political ideology and party affiliation."

This is intuitive to most of us. Ask nearly any American a couple of questions about what they think of a list of policy issues: the death penalty, abortion, gay rights, the minimum wage, school choice, nuclear power, public health, gun control, climate change, the propriety of Christmas crèches in town squares, and affirmative action. You will quickly get a pretty good idea of what they think about all of the issues on the list. But why do the ways people think about policy issues tend to cluster together? The answer turns on how people feel about societal risks and the policies aimed at reducing those risks. And how people feel about risk is shaped by their core values.

The Project usefully classifies cultural values on two cross-cutting axes: hierarchy-egalitarianism and individualism-communitarianism. Hierarchs think that rights, duties, goods and offices should be differentially distributed on the basis of clearly defined and stable social characteristics (e.g., gender, wealth, ethnicity). Egalitarians believe that rights, duties, goods and offices should be distributed equally without regard to such characteristics. Individualists think that people should secure the conditions of their own flourishing without collective interference or assistance. Communitarians believe that societal interests trump individual ones and that society should be responsible for securing the conditions for individual flourishing.

. . .

So is the proper framing of public policy issues really enough to bring an end to the culture war? I doubt it. After all, just who is going to make polluters, green scaremongers, Republicans, gun control nuts, neocons, fetus fetishists, Democrats, drug warriors, neo-luddites, global warming catastrophists, climate change deniers and the like stop distorting, I mean, framing the facts to fit their cultural values?

Continued in article

Intellectuals, Free speech, and Capitalism

"Intellectuals, Free speech, and Capitalism-Becker," by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, October 7, 2007 ---

Although there are numerous exceptions in economics and political science departments, business and medical schools, and elsewhere, the majority of faculty is considerably to the left of the general population. They are at the forefront of the politically correct movement. This is why Larry Summers ran into the problems that led to his resignation as president of Harvard. However, college faculties are not the only promoters of political correctness. Many print and TV journalists, actors and movie directors, and others involved in more intellectual and creative pursuits have the same views. Why is this so?

I wish I had the answer; I don’t, so I will speculate about possible reasons. In his 1950 book, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, the great economist, Joseph Schumpeter, discussed exactly this question when asking why intellectuals were so opposed to capitalism during his time? His answer mainly was that businessmen do better under capitalism, whereas intellectuals believe they would have a more influential position under socialism and communism. In essence, Schumpeter's explanation is based on intellectuals' feeling envious of the success of others under capitalism combined with their desire to be more important.

I do believe that Schumpeter put his finger on one of the important factors behind the skepticism of intellectuals toward markets, and their continuing support of what governments do. Neither the unsuccessful performance of the US government first in Vietnam and now in Iraq, which they so strongly condemn, nor even the colossal failures of socialism and communism during the past half century, succeeded in weakening the faith of intellectuals in governmental solutions to problems rather than private market solutions. Since their basic hostility to capitalism is largely unabated, but they are embarrassed to openly advocate socialism and very large governments, given the history of the 20th century, intellectuals have shifted their attacks to criticisms of the way they believe private enterprise systems treat women and minorities, the environment, and various other issues. They also promote political correctness in what one can say about causes of differences in performance among different groups, health care systems, and other issues.

I believe considerations in addition to simple jealousy and envy are behind the opposition of intellectuals to capitalism. A belief in free markets requires confidence in the view that both sides to a trade generally gain from it, that a person's or a company's gain is not usually at the expense of those they trade with, even when everyone is motivated solely by their own selfish interests. This is highly counter-intuitive, which is why great intellectuals like the 16th century French essayist, Marquis de Montaigne, even had a short essay with the revealing title "That the Profit of One Man is the Damage of Another ". It is much easier to believe that governments are more likely than private individuals and enterprises to further the general interest.

Of course, the evidence that has been accumulated since Schumpeter's book gives good marks to free market systems in promoting the interests of the poor and middle classes, including minorities. And examples abound of corrupt and incompetent government officials who either mess things up for everyone, or promote these officials' interests. This evidence has impressed the man and woman in the street, but intellectuals are more removed from the real world, and tend to rely on and trust ideas and intellectual arguments.

This would be my primary explanation for the questions raised by Posner about why faculty (and I add other intellectuals too) have become further to the left of their students and the general population. In effect, intellectuals have changed their views far less than other groups in response to the evidence. While intellectual opinions have stood rather still, the general population has moved their thinking against government solutions and toward solutions that use markets and other private transactions and relations.

"Intellectuals, Free speech, and Capitalism-Posner," by Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, October 7, 2007 ---

Probably another reason for the left's influence in higher education is that Americans who came of age during the late 1960s, a portion of whom were radicalized then, are today in senior positions in many faculties. (A man or woman who was 18 in 1968 is 57 today.) A third reason may be the dearth of other outlets, besides faculty politics, for political activism today. There is no serious left-wing movement in the United States. There is a strident Republican right influential in the Republican Party, but the strident Democratic left exerts little influence on the Democratic Party. You can post an angry comment on, but that cannot be a very satisfactory mode of political expression compared to frightening the University of California's Board of Regents into embarrassing itself by disinviting a Democrat of Larry Summer’s stature and distinction, or épater-ing the bourgeoisie by inviting Ahmadinejad to thunder against Bush and the West from a perch on Morningside Heights.

An ironic counterpoint to university leftism is the increasing, and increasingly successful, imitation of business firms by America's colleges and universities. The leading universities are becoming giant corporations with multi-hundred-million dollar (or even billion dollar) budgets. As they grow, they need and so they hire professional management. Professional university management, in turn, takes its cues from its peers in the business sector. So we have universities deeply involved in hedge funds, greedy for supracompetitive investment returns, engaged in the commercialization of scientific research, angling for applications for admission by the children of the rich, manipulating their statistics in order to move up in U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings (for example by fuzzing up their admissions criteria, so that they get more applicants and therefore turn down more and so appear more selective), exaggerating the job prospects of their advanced-degree graduates, bidding for academic stars by offering high salaries and low teaching loads, and, related to the bidding wars, creating a two-tier employment system with tenured and tenure-track faculty on top and tenure-less, benefit-less graduate students and temporaries on the bottom to do the bulk of the teaching. And so the modern American university system allows its faculty and administrators to live right, while thinking left.

The 88 Duke University faculty members who took out a hysterical ad, supporting those local loudmouths who were denouncing and threatening the Duke students, have apparently had nothing at all to say now. Not only did many Duke University professors join the lynch mob atmosphere, so did the Duke University administration, which got rid of the lacrosse coach and cancelled the team's season, without a speck of evidence that anybody was guilty of anything.
Thomas Sowell, "The Duke Case's Unfinished Business," RealClearPolitics, June 19, 2007 --- Click Here

Here’s why: My students should not be able to tell, at least from what I say in class, who I prefer to sit in the oval office. For one thing, this would be a form of “bait and switch,” since nothing about the sharing of my political opinions appears in the catalogue that the students presumably consult before paying their money and scheduling my course. More to the point, however, is that I am not qualified to teach students about who should be elected. In fact, I am no more qualified to tell people who they should vote for than I am to teach a class in quantum mechanics. I have colleagues over in the physics department who are qualified to offer a course in the latter subject; none of us has the same credibility when it comes to the former. Indeed, in an important way, this blanket incompetence is a part of the class lesson — particularly, though not exclusively, in a class on American government. It is an implicit argument for democracy, or at least democratic equality. It is also, however, an argument about education.
Paul A. Sracic, "Teach Only What You Know," Inside Higher Ed, October 11, 2007 ---

Faculty members identify as liberals and vote Democratic in far greater proportions than found in the American public at large. That finding by itself won’t shock many, but the national study released Saturday at a Harvard University symposium may be notable both for its methodology and other, more surprising findings. The 72-page study — “The Social and Political Views of American Professors” — was produced with the goal of moving analysis of the political views of faculty members out of the culture wars and back to social science. The study offers at times harsh criticism of many of the analyses of these issues in recent years (both from those hoping to tag the professoriate as foolishly radical and those seeking to rebut those charges). The study included community college professors along with four-year institutions, and featured analysis of non-responders to the survey (two features missing from many recent reports). The results of the study find a professoriate that may be less liberal than is widely assumed, even if conservatives are correctly assumed to be in a distinct minority. The authors present evidence that there are more faculty members who identify as moderates than as liberals. The authors of the study also found evidence of a significant decline by age group in faculty radicalism, with younger faculty members less likely than their older counterparts to identify as radical or activist. And while the study found that faculty members generally hold what are thought to be liberal positions on social issues, professors are divided on affirmative action in college admissions.

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 8, 2007 --- 
Also see
"Political Shocker: Faculty Moderates," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2006 ---
Also see "The Politically Correctness Fracture of Academe" at

Beware of Security Patch Email Messages Purportedly from Microsoft

"Virus Alert: Beware fake Microsoft patch e-mails," AccountingWeb, October 12, 2007 ---

Microsoft Security alerts are such a part of computing life that virus writers have now created spoof security alert e-mails to trick users into activating a trojan horse program.

Symantec's security response blog recently reported on the appearance of fake Microsoft Security Bulletins that either carried the Trojan.Dropper virus as an attachment, or included infected links in the e-mail.

The blog posting includes an example message purporting to be MS06-602, a cumulative security update for Internet Explorer. It's a plausible sounding message an an extremely clever piece of what security experts call "social engineering" to trick people into activating the malicious code - but no such bulletin exists.

"We urge users to refrain from opening files or clicking links in e-mails from unknown sources," writes blog contributor Vikram Thakur.

"We recommend all users to always keep their computers up-to-date on latest patch levels for all software installed. In doing so, it's important that users always download these patches from the original software vendor sites, by visiting the sites themselves rather than following links in e-mails or other third-party Web pages."

Bob Jensen's threads on computing and network security are at

When liberals and feminists debate pornography ---
(Note that I am Robert E. Jensen retired from Trinity University. I'm not Robert W. Jensen, Associate Professor of Journalism, from the University of Texas.)

"How Higher Ed Can Fix K-12?," by Thurston Domina, Inside Higher Ed, October 12, 2007 ---

Texas’s recent educational policy-making history helps to explain how. Texas became a national leader in school reform in the 1980s and early 1990s, adopting standardized testing and school accountability policies that provided a model for the No Child Left Behind Act. But all that changed in 1996 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit banned affirmative action at Texas colleges and universities. The Hopwood decision was discouraging news for minority high school students in Texas, and in the year after the decision, the state’s public high schools slipped on several important indicators of school quality, from student attendance to advanced course taking and college enrollment. Hopwood also threw the state’s educational policy-makers for a loop. In the years that followed the decision, the state put its high school reform program on autopilot as it scrambled to maintain racial and ethnic diversity at its flagship public universities in the post-affirmative action era.

Between the discouraged students and the distracted policy-makers, it sounds like a recipe for educational disaster. But as I demonstrate in a paper published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Texas high schools posted record numbers just two years after Hopwood. And in the years that followed, those numbers kept climbing.

What happened? The short answer is that Texas’s higher education establishment got involved in the state’s high schools. Worried that black and Hispanic enrollment at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M would plummet in the wake of the affirmative action ban, the state created a series of policies designed to clearly articulate higher education standards and broadcast them widely to students across the state.

The best known of these policies was H.B. 588, the Texas top 10 percent law. Passed by the Legislature in 1997, the law guaranteed admission to any in-state public college or university to any student who graduated in the top 10 percent of his or her Texas high school class. The law was conceived as a racially neutral alternative to affirmative action, designed to use high school racial segregation to build diversity at UT and A&M. But the law had an unexpected effect on the state’s high schools as well. Previously, the criteria for UT and A&M admissions were so complex that high-performing students at high schools where there was little formal or informal college counseling frequently didn’t even bother applying. The top 10 percent law changed that, replacing a confusing admissions system with a simple one, and boosting college application rates from high-poverty and high-minority schools that had frequently sent few applicants. And that’s not all: Under the new admissions regime, advanced course enrollment and student attendance rates also improved at disadvantaged high schools. By clearing the path to college, the top 10 percent law created an academic press in high schools where alienation and demotivation once ruled.

Continued in article

Thurston Domina does a good job highlighting the positives but a poor job highlighting the negatives. For example, no mention is made about how students are gaming the Texas Ten Percent Rule" by avoiding the hard courses, hard instructors, and even not taking college admission tests (they can get into the finest public universities in Texas without taking admission tests) ---
A few good things can be said for the learning incentives of having to study for SAT/ACT tests and for taking the more difficult humanities, math, and science courses in high school. Many bad things can be said for having incentives to avoid such important things just to raise grade averages to meet the ten percent threshold.

New technology can detect whether a passenger in your car is a dummy
Solo commuters frustrated by snarled traffic have taken extreme measures to sneak into high-occupancy carpool lanes: costumed mannequins in passenger seats, dolls swaddled like babies--even dogs in bonnets. But a company called Vehicle Occupancy, based at Loughborough University, in Leicestershire, England, says that it has developed an infrared camera-mounted scanning system that foils 95 percent of such trickery.
"Foiling Carpool-Lane Cheaters," MIT's Technology Review, October 11, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
It would save a lot of time and trouble if new admissions to college had to pass through the same scanning system.

This can become a life/death game up here in deep snow country

"'Snowdrift' game tops 'Prisoner's Dilemma' in explaining cooperation," PhysOrg, October 9, 2007 ---

When it comes to explaining the evolution of human cooperation, researchers have traditionally looked to the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (IPD) game as the paradigm. However, the observed degree of cooperation among humans is generally higher than predicted by mathematical models using the IPD, leaving unanswered the question of why humans cooperate to the extent they do.

A group of researchers from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and the University of Edinburgh in the UK suggests that a different game, called the “iterated Snowdrift game” (ISD), may more realistically reflect social situations that humans face, compared with the IPD. In experimental tests, the proportion of cooperative acts in the ISD game (48%) was significantly higher than those in the IPD (29%).

The cause for this difference is due to the higher risks of being exploited in the IPD compared with the ISD, where the risk of being exploited by someone who doesn’t cooperate when you do is lower.

“In principle, natural selection predicts individuals to behave selfishly,” Rolf Kümmerli, co-author of the study, told “However, we observe cooperation in humans and other organisms, where cooperation is costly for the actor but benefits another individual. The question is why does natural selection favor such cooperation? One solution to this problem is given by the ‘Snowdrift’ game (but not by the PD), where individuals gain direct benefits from their cooperative acts.”

The situation of the Snowdrift game involves two drivers who are trapped on opposite sides of a snowdrift. Each has the option of staying in the car or shoveling snow to clear a path. Letting the opponent do all the work is the best option (with a pay-off of 300 used in this study), but being exploited by shoveling while the opponent sits in the car still results in a pay-off of 100. (The other two possibilities, both shoveling and both sitting, have pay-offs of 200 and 0, respectively.)

Compare this with the Prisoner’s Dilemma. For a quick synopsis, two prisoners being questioned each have the choice to either defend the other’s innocence or betray the other’s guilt. As in the Snowdrift game, the best option is to betray your opponent while he defends you (pay-off of 400), and next for both of you to defend each other (pay-off of 300). Also, as in the Snowdrift game, both of you betraying results in a pay-off of 0.

However, the significant difference is in the greater risk in the Prisoner’s Dilemma when you cooperate while your opponent defects: while shoveling snow always helps you out, even when the opponent sits (100 pay-off), defending an opponent who betrays you results in the worst outcome for you—a pay-off of -100. In the study, participants cooperated more in the ISD because they could always obtain individual benefits by cooperating, while the costs of cooperating were shared between cooperators.

The researchers noticed other interesting trends in the study, which involved 96 participants (38 female and 58 male) divided into 16 groups and arranged in 48 pairs, not knowing their partner’s identity or gender. Each pair repeated (“iterated”) both games 12 times, though were initially told the number of repetitions was randomly determined. The researchers created global competition by revealing that the players with the four highest pay-offs would receive monetary awards.

Players who employed “Tit-for-Tat” and “Pavlovian” strategies—known to increase pay-offs in the IPD—had better pay-offs in both games than players who did not use these strategies. Further, the researchers found that female participants were twice as likely to use one of these strategies as male participants in the ISD (but not the IPD), resulting in both greater cooperation in female-female pairs compared with male-male pairs, as well as greater pay-offs for individual females. Interestingly, these results contrast with the theory of social sciences, suggesting that there is no simple rule on how males and females behave in different social dilemmas.

“The most significant result is that humans adapt the degree of cooperation according to the social context (ISD or IPD) and the behavior and gender of their partner,” Kümmerli said.

Besides offering a potential explanation for the high levels of cooperation among humans, the ISD may also have more real-life associations than the IPD. For example, as the researchers point out, two scientists collaborating on a report would benefit if the other worked harder. But when your collaborator doesn’t do any work, it’s probably better for you to do all the work yourself. You’ll still end up with a completed project, rather than life in prison.

“Many natural situations of cooperation are much more similar to the SD than to the PD,” Kümmerli said. “For that reason, I think that the SD can provide more indications why cooperation is favored by natural selection than the PD. However, the PD is still a useful tool for mathematical models and to demonstrate differences in cooperation between two groups and in treatment of the gender differences in our study.”

Citation: Kümmerli, Rolf, Colliard, Caroline, Fiechter, Nicolas, Petitpierre, Blaise, Russier, Flavien, and Keller, Laurent. “Human cooperation in social dilemmas: comparing the Snowdrift game with the Prisoner’s Dilemma.” Proc. R. Soc. B, doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0793.

Coexistence of cooperators and defectors is common in nature, yet the evolutionary origin of such social diversification is unclear. Many models have been studied on the basis of the assumption that benefits of cooperative acts only accrue to others. Here, we analyze the continuous snowdrift game, in which cooperative investments are costly but yield benefits to others as well as to the cooperator. Adaptive dynamics of investment levels often result in evolutionary diversification from initially uniform populations to a stable state in which cooperators making large investments coexist with defectors who invest very little. Thus, when individuals benefit from their own actions, large asymmetries in cooperative investments can evolve.
Michael Doebeli, Christoph Hauert,Timothy Killingback, "The Evolutionary Origin of Cooperators and Defectors," Science, October 2004 ---  


Jensen Comment
There is a rather good module about game theory at

Prisoner's Dilemma ---

Chicken Game ---

Nash Equilibrium ---

Anecdotally Let Me Tell You a Snow Drift Tale About My Father (Vernon E. Jensen)

After leaving the family farm following World War II, my father commenced driving gasoline transports in his cousin Martin's  business that owned a chain of D-X Stations and Bulk Plants in small towns in northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota (but mostly in Iowa). Eventually he bought into this "jobbering" corporation and became the territory manager of the entire operation.

Once he got caught in a whiteout on Highway 169 between Humboldt and Algona. Although he was only about 16 miles from home, the wind-whipped drifts of snow made it impossible for the car to move in any direction. He was then faced with a dilemma of staying in the car (where he might freeze in the night) or walk for help. He commenced walking and soon discovered that the winds made this storm a complete "whiteout" known well to people living in the parts of the nation that have high winds and deep snow. ---
He could not even find his tracks leading back to his car.

It is somewhat common for people to die in whiteouts. For example, a woman facing a similar situation between Whittimore and Algona was found dead in a corn field two days after she abandoned her car.

My father soon realized he'd made a terrible mistake.  He discovered that he was in a field and could no longer even find the road. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dog appeared. The dog commenced to pull on my father's trousers but not in the context of anger or play. The dog was trying to lead my dad in a particular direction. Having no better option my father followed the dog. The dog moved ahead a few feet at a time, always staying visible to my father in the whiteout.

At last the shadowy outline of a barn roof appeared. The dog led my father to a farm. My father was somewhat acquainted with the folks that lived on this farm. Dad phoned my mother and reported where he was forced to spend the night. In fact he had to stay two nights with his good hosts.

The farm dog, by the way, was an Airedale ---

Bob Jensen

October 10, 2007 reply from Richard C. Sansing [Richard.C.Sansing@TUCK.DARTMOUTH.EDU]

How strange! Rasmusen's "Games and Information" calls this the "Chicken" game, and points out there is a mixed strategy equilbrium to it. Using the payoffs mentioned below, symmetric Nash players would randomize between sit and shovel, choosing each 1/2 of the time, and so they would appear to cooperate 25% of the time. Therefore, the extent of cooperation that exceeds the Nash benchmark seems to be the same in both the Prisoner's Dilemma and the Snowdrift games.

But with repeated uncertain interactions, the Nash predictions are not unambiguous even in the PD.

October 10, 2007 reply from Bob Jensen

Chicken is similar to the prisoner's dilemma game in that an "agreeable" mutual solution is unstable since both players are individually tempted to stray from it. However, it differs in the cost of responding to such a deviation. This means that, even in an iterated version of the game, retaliation is ineffective, and a mixed strategy may be more appropriate.


How can poor people of the world learn how to get financing?
International Finance Group

Bob Jensen's small business helpers are at

Whatcom Online Math Center ---

Historical Activities for the Calculus Classroom ---

Mathematics for Economics: Enhancing Teaching and Learning (includes video tutorials) ---

From Princeton
University Channel (video and audio) ---

Bob Jensen's links to free math tutorials are at

Little Shop of Physics: Online Experiments ---

Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science ---

Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research ---

Butterflies and Moths of North America ---

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center at UIUC ---

Pre-assessment: Gauging students preparedness for sedimentary geology ---

Medline Plus: Herbal Medicine ---

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Center for Drug Evaluation and Research ---

Bob Jensen's links to free engineering, science, and medicine tutorials are at

From MIT
Introduction to Technical Communication: Perspectives on Medicine and Public Health
(Open Courseware) ---  

Bob Jensen's threads about open courseware are at

Perspectives on U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology

American Council on Science and Health ---

American Nuclear Society ---

Freelance Writing Resources ---

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

Bracton Online (Medieval Law) ---

Bob Jensen's threads on law and law tutorials are at

Preservation News (History) ---

Two of Bob Jensen's history links are as follows:

Not-So-Great Movies Downloaded into Not-So-Great Vudu Box
This box, called Vudu, comes from a Silicon Valley company of the same name ( ). Vudu's biggest strengths are its easy setup, good picture quality and simple user interface, easily navigated using a scroll-wheel remote control. If the director yelled "Cut!" right here, Vudu would be a box-office smash. But actually using this device is just one problem after another. For starters, though Vudu says it has relationships with the major Hollywood studios, many of the 5,000 titles it offers don't seem to be popular by mainstream standards. Lots of them are old or obscure. For instance, you won't find any of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, but how about a 1984 sci-fi/fantasy movie called "The Ice Pirates," instead? If you do find a movie that you'd like to watch, you must have a bandwidth speed of at least two megabits per second to download it instantly; millions of broadband homes have slower connections than that. Vudu offers to measure your bandwidth on its home page before you buy it. I tested Vudu for a week on a typical home-type DSL line, and my connection only clocks about 1.5 Mbps, so it took me about 45 minutes to download each movie. While Vudu's $399 price tag might take some getting used to, its fees for buying or renting each movie could be harder to swallow after a month's worth of use: as much as $80 if you bought one top-tier movie a week. Worse, you have to pay in advance. Rather than charging your credit card on a pay-as-you-go basis, Vudu customers must choose a $20, $50 or $100 amount at setup from which movie fees are deducted. When your account hits $0, the amount selected at setup is charged and the debit process begins again.
Katherine Boehret, "Downloadable Movies in a Box::  Where's the Magic? We Test Convenience Of Vudu System And Find Flaws," The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2007; Page D5 ---
Jensen Comment
No thanks! I'll take my cheap but great NetFlix subscription any day ---

How can you get Instant Messaging (IM) for free without having to install any software?

First read about Instant Messaging at

"Don't Tell Your Boss, But There Is a Way To IM Despite Blocks," bu Sarmad Ali, The Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2007; Page B1 ---

Just use an Internet-based service so that you can chat from a Web page without having to install any software, which might be blocked by a firewall. I tested two such services: Meebo at  and KoolIM at . Both are free.

These services let you simultaneously log in to multiple IM accounts -- and communicate with people with various services. If you have a friend who uses Yahoo Messenger, for example, and another who likes MSN Messenger, you can chat with either.

Another plus: Meebo and KoolIM are far less vulnerable to viruses than downloadable applications. They're also more efficient, saving users the hassle of installing multiple programs on a computer. This is especially handy for people with old computers that slow down when running several applications.

Meebo has a well-designed, sleek interface that makes it appealing to even the least tech savvy. From its home page, you simply sign in for different IM services—MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, GTalk (or Jabber) and AIM (or ICQ). Your buddy list will be combined automatically. You don't have to register, but if you do, you get perks such as a single sign-on for all of your accounts, and the ability to share files, save chat logs and store conversations.

I tried Meebo on my work Windows PC and my iBook at home, and it worked well on both. To start chatting, you just log in to any of the IM services by entering the screen name and password you already have with a service, or by picking a new name, password and services. Your buddy list will appear in a window on the right side of the page, with each name marked by an icon denoting the service the person uses. Once in your buddy list, you can add or delete a contact, message or join a group chat.

Continued in article

Google Introduces Instant Messaging
Google Inc. is joining yet another Internet turf battle, the one over instant communication. Google introduced today an instant-messaging service that lets users exchange text messages and make voice calls over personal computers. Google's move pits it against Internet giants such as Time Warner Inc.'s America Online unit, Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that dominate the market.
Mylene Mangalindan and Christopher Rhoads, "Google Introduces Instant Messaging," The Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2005; Page B3 ---,,SB112482337312020777,00.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace
See this IM service at

Set up free conference calls at  

Bob Jensen's threads on tools and tricks of the trade are at

October 14, 2007 reply from Steven Hornik [shornik@BUS.UCF.EDU]

I just wanted to let the list know that I've been using Meebo this semester for my undergrad financial accounting class and my grad AIS course. You can see the meebo widget on both of my webpages (wikis) that I use for the course at either:  or  and if I'm online feel free to say hello to see how it works.

I have always included my Yahoo ID in my syllabus so students could IM me with questions. In recent years I observed two things: 1) I tended to forget to start my IM more and more - I just wasn't using it that much, and 2) students weren't using it, as it required them to get a Yahoo account, download the IM software, etc.

Since using Meebo, and in particular placing the meebo widget on my web pages, student communication with me has increased at least 10 fold (anectodal not empirical). I'm convinced of the reasons: 1) Ease of Use - students just have to access the course web page, and the widget lets them know if I'm online, and if so they can just type away. 2) I don't forget to start it - since it's web-based I simply have the meebo webpage as one of my tabs in firefox and whenever I start my browser (first thing I do whenever I'm at my computer) meebo is there.

Meebo also has chat rooms (I haven't used these yet), that allow you to import almost any kind of media (audio/video) and you can invite your students to it to create a synchronous environment for viewing course material and discussing it as a group.

Dr. Steven Hornik
University of Central Florida
College of Business Administration (407) 823-5739

When professors have the guts to call drivel, er ...  ahh, drivel!
But when is the critique more drivel than the passage being reviewed?

But my advisor is also a tough reader, and I find that after all these years of being a student I am still learning how to take criticism. To wit: in my recent draft, written in bold, red ink is one word that succinctly represents what he thinks of the passage — “drivel.” I quickly forgot all of the good things he had said about my argument as I focused on this one word, brutally penned in the margin. My incisive points, my elegantly constructed sentences, all reduced to a one-word judgment.
 Jason Pickavance, "On Drivel," Inside Higher Ed, October 8, 2007 ---

Jensen Comment
In the above article Jason respects his advisor for having the guts to write "drivel" in the margin of a page in Jason's thesis draft. What's interesting is how there's such a fine line between a reviewer that's respected by an author and a reviewer that the author considers a complete jerk. Most of the time the difference lies in the reviewer's ability to convince the author that the passage really is drivel. So often, however, reviewers are either too casual (assuming it should be obvious even to a moron why the passage is drivel) or try to back it up with opposing drivel. The latter two instances are where the reviewer becomes a jerk. Jerks seem to be part and parcel to the peer review process along with the good reviewers.

Faulty Towers:  Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By Sloppy Analysis and Superficial Peer Reviews

Video:  Rob Sutton on how to deal with jerks ("assholes") at work
Should you hire at least one in your department?

Rob Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, talks about his "No Asshole Rule" and why he is trying to perfect indifference  ---

In his literal last lecture at Carnegie-Mellon, Randy Pausch said something to the effect that if there’s a jerk you really don’t like, be patient and wait long enough and the jerk will most likely do something that you really like (other than dropping dead). That's truly been my experience, although jerks typically go back to being jerks.

October 7, 2007 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]


Of course, in the long run any jerk will do something you like, but not because (s)he relishes your pleasant surprise, but because whatever is the issue resulting in your surprise reflects congruence of interests. My experience is that jerks are quite willing to (and often do) play the prisoner's dilemma games with you.

I have had more than my share of jerks over my career (to be frank, there seem to be more of them in the academia than in the industry -- often, idle mind is a devil's workshop, or may be they often think tenure confers the right to be a jerk). Usually, they are selfish, and revel in the misery of their colleagues. Isn't it a surprise Mahatma Gandhi said that humans are the only species that revel in the misery of fellow-beings?

I must say, I also have been blessed with many wonderful colleagues, and their company keeps me going in the academia. There is something mystical about bonds created through research that endure a long time; that is something I did not have in the corporate world.



Relativity Derived Without Calculus -- Possibly Centuries Ago
After Einstein developed his theories of special and general relativity, in 1905 and 1916, respectively, the world of physics changed dramatically. The theories, with their groundbreaking ideas on space and time, helped lead 20th century scientists to unlock the secrets of the atom and unleash the power of nuclear energy .Now Joel Gannett, a Senior Scientist in the Applied Research Area of Telcordia Technologies in Red Bank, New Jersey, has found that Einstein didn’t have to do the work the hard way. A researcher in optical networking technologies, Gannett has shown that the Lorentz transformations and velocity addition law can be derived without assuming the constancy of the speed of light, without thought experiments, and without calculus. In this case, Einsteinian relativity could have been discovered several centuries before Einstein. “Einsteinian Relativity is difficult to wrap your mind around,” Gannett told “It does not help that Einstein's seminal 1905 paper, and many discussions of the topic since, start off with the wildly counterintuitive assumption that the speed of light is constant in all inertial frames. “My work shows that the essential strangeness of Einsteinian Relativity falls out of simple, intuitive assumptions using simple math. A pre-calculus high school student could have derived Einsteinian Relativity. Admittedly, some of the math in my paper might seem beyond the high school level, but that was because I was proving continuity from a boundedness assumption. One could bypass this math by simply assuming continuity, a logical step that would probably feel comfortable to most any high schooler or 17th century scientist.”
Lisa Zyga, PhysOrg, October 8, 2007 ---

Lynn Brewer versus Sherron Watkins Whistleblowers at Enron

October 14, 2007 message from


There was a terrific story in Friday's edition of USA that unmasks a phony whistle blower at Enron who has established an "ethics institute." Sorry I'm out of town and don't have the link but I'm sure you can find it easily. Cynthia Cooper, who was a real hero in uncovering the WorldCom fraud, is coming out with a book in early December that is a grat read.


October 15. 2007 reply from Bob Jensen

Thanks Denny.

Lynn Brewer was never enough of a player to even mention in my threads on the Enron scandal ---

I’m glad Brewer and her book are being discredited ---
Fortunately she was not a fourth woman on the cover of Time Magazine in 2002 (see below)
Here's what USA Today did to Lynn Brewer:
          Halloween Hangman (interactive video, hit the buttons)  ---

I hope Lynn Brewer is added to Jude Werra's "Liars Index" (See Below for “Executives Making It by Faking It”)
But then again Lynn Brewer even lied about being an executive at Enron

 I’m sure you know that Sherron Watkins was an executive VP whistleblower at Enron who had more dirty words in her vocabulary than a rap star. The failure of Arthur Andersen’s top brass to act on her disclosures about Fastow’s SPE frauds became a huge embarrassment all the way to the top of Andersen.

"Time Names Whistle-Blowers as Persons of the Year 2002", Reuters, December 22, 2002 --- 

Time Magazine named a trio of women whistle-blowers as its Persons of the Year on Sunday, praising their roles in unearthing malfeasance that eroded public confidence in their institutions.

Two of the women, Sherron Watkins, a vice president at Enron Corp., and Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom Inc., uncovered massive accounting fraud at their respective companies, which both went bankrupt.

The third, Coleen Rowley, is an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In May, she wrote a scathing 13-page memo to FBI Director Robert Muller detailing how supervisors at a Minneapolis, Minnesota field office brushed aside her requests to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11th attacks, weeks before the attacks occurred.

"It came down to did we want to recognize a phenomenon that helped correct some of the problems we've had over the last year and celebrate three ordinary people that did extraordinary things," said Time managing editor Jim Kelly.

Other people considered by the magazine, which hits stores on Monday, included President Bush, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Vice President Dick Cheney and New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer.

Bush was seen by some as the front-runner, especially after he led his party to a mid-term electoral upset in November that cemented the party's majority in Congress.

However, Kelly said "some of (Bush's) own goals: the capture of Osama bin Laden, the unseating of Saddam Hussein, the revival of a sluggish economy, haven't happened yet. There was a sense of bigger things to come, and it might be wise to see how things played out," he added.

Watkins, 43, is a former accountant best known for a blunt, prescient 7-page memo to Enron chairman Kenneth Lay in 2001 that uncovered questionable accounting and warned that the company could "implode in a wave of accounting scandals."

Her letter came to light during a post-mortem inquiry conducted by Congress after the company declared bankruptcy.

Cooper undertook a one-woman crusade inside telecommunications behemoth WorldCom, when she discovered that the company had disguised $3.8 billion in losses through improper accounting.

When the scandal came to light in June after the company declared bankruptcy, jittery investors laid siege to global stock markets.

FBI agent and lawyer Rowley's secret memo was leaked to the press in May. Weeks before Sept. 11, Rowley suspected Moussaoui might have ties to radical activities and bin Laden, and she asked supervisors for clearance to search his computer.

Her letter sharply criticized the agency's hidebound culture and its decision-makers, and gave rise to new inquiries over the intelligence-gathering failures of Sept. 11.

Bob Jensen's threads on the Enron and Worldcom scandals are at --- 

Bob Jensen's threads on whistle blowing are at

"Executives: Making It by Faking It:  Wisconsin headhunter Jude Werra's "Liars Index" of faked résumé claims hit a five-year high in the first half of 2007," Business Week, by Joseph Daniel McCool, Business Week, October 4, 2007 --- Click Here 

. . . Jude Werra. The president of Brookfield (Wis.)-based Jude M. Werra & Associates has spent the better part of 25 years documenting executive résumé fraud, credentials inflation, and the misrepresentation of executive educational credentials. It's something that has kept Werra pretty busy over the years, given the prevalence of such management-level chicanery and the fact that so many ambitious and transition-minded individuals have convinced themselves that it's their credentials—real or otherwise—that matter most.

Stopping at Nothing to Get to the Top Werra's semiannual barometer of executive résumé deception—his very own "Liars Index"—hit a five-year high, based on his review of résumés he received during the first half of 2007. He figures that about 16% of executive résumés contain false academic claims and/or material omissions relating to educational experience. That was up five percentage points from the levels he witnessed between July and December of last year.

And when you account for the fudging of claims of experience unrelated to academic degrees earned, it's easy to see why executive headhunters generally acknowledge that as many as one-third of management-level résumés contain errors, exaggerations, material omissions, and/or blatant falsehoods.

Some people will stop at almost nothing to get to where they want in their career. Still, Werra wonders why otherwise experienced executives would inflate their credentials or otherwise mislead with their résumé, in light of the potential career-ending consequences.

Checking References Isn't Enough Given the alarming levels to which they do attempt to mislead, he constantly reminds hiring organizations that it's critical that they verify what they read on résumés, even at the executive level. What's even more alarming—and more prevalent than people falsifying their backgrounds and qualifications—is the number of hiring organizations who fail to conduct a rigorous background check on their new management recruits. Far too many organizations figure that checking a few references is enough.

And even the most thorough reference checks won't uncover false claims that predate those references' own professional interactions with the individual executive. It's quite possible that a fabrication of one's education, certifications, and experience is what got the executive his first management job many years ago, leaving the trail cold unless it's reopened during the course of a diligent background check.

When it comes to executive-level hiring that's going to cost the organization into the high six figures, at minimum, when you factor in headhunting fees, the new executive's salary, and benefits, it becomes a matter of caveat emptor.

Let the Hiring Company Beware And while it may be tempting to believe that an executive recruiter will uncover any issues during the courtship process, it's ultimately up to the hiring organization to know exactly who it is that's being hired. Sure, misrepresentation will cost the unscrupulous executive, but it can also wreak havoc on a company's brand, workforce, and external relations teams.

Beyond the boundaries of checking claims made by an individual on his or her résumé, the hiring organization can trust that engaging the services of a professional background-screening consultant will pay off. These consultants often come with significant experience in law enforcement, and they can help uncover such things as criminal convictions, unpaid child support, and other hidden issues that should influence the hiring decision.

A thorough background check is an important insurance policy for the recruiting process, and headhunters will tell you that your organization risks getting burned if an executive it hires has, at any time in his or her past, decided to assume the risks of playing with fire.

Given the high cost of a bad executive hire, today's organizations simply can't afford not to do their homework.

Sixteen "Greatest Moments" on the Web

October 9, 2007 message from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

PCWorld's listing of the Web's greatest moments. It will take you on a saunter down memory lane.,137824/article.html?tk=nl_wbxcol 

David Albrecht

To his credit, Professor Hornik (see video link below) at the University of Central Florida has been experimenting with a Second Life 3-D Accounting Model for accounting education. The PBS update called the "The Rise (and Hype) of Second Life" may be of interest to those of you who are thinking experimenting with Second Life

First read the definition of an “avatar” at ---

Second read about Second Life at

Second Life 3-D Accounting Model

July 13, 2007 message from Steven Hornik [shornik@BUS.UCF.EDU]

Since there has been some interest regarding Second Life on this list from time to time, I wanted to share a demo of a model I created in Second Life that I will be using with my class this coming Fall. It's a 3-D interactive accounting model (A=L+E). If you are in Second Life and want to play with it let me know. It's currently on my Parcel in Sweetbay, but will be moving to Teaching 4, part of the New Media Consortium's archipelago, where University of Central Florida's accounting department has just leased a plot!

Link to blog post about the model: 

Link to YouTube video (no reading required): 

My Second Life Avatar is Robins Hermano if you wish to chat 'in-world'

Dr. Steven Hornik
University of Central Florida
College of Business Administration
(407) 823-5739


From Media Shift (PBS) , October 11, 2007 ---

The Rise (and Hype) of Second Life

While other worlds were withering, Linden Labs was developing a new world called Second Life, first launched in 2003. It languished for a few years until 2006, when Second Life grabbed the attention of the media and marketers who saw it as a new way of communicating and selling online. BusinessWeek ran a cover story called My Virtual Life, breathlessly explaining that “big advertisers are taking notice.” And Wired Magazine ran a special travel guide to Second Life, while Reuters assigned a full-time reporter, dubbed “Adam Reuters,” to cover news in the world (now there are two).

In Second Life, you can create your own objects and buildings in the world, and you own the intellectual property of what you build Plus, “Linden dollars” are a currency you can trade with real dollars; real-world businesses sell customized stores, avatar wear and just about any kind of “bling” you could want in the virtual world. Universities offer distance learning courses through Second Life, and bands play live shows and chat with fans in special in-world venues. Linden says it has registered nearly 10 million avatars for Second Life.

The buzz around Second Life led many people to explore virtual worlds for the first time, but many ended up disappointed. Even though computer hardware and bandwidth have improved since the ’90s virtual worlds, Second Life still requires high-end systems and a lot of practice to master the interface. The number of registered Second Life avatars is misleading: Many people simply try it out and give up, while others have multiple avatars. A more representative number for regular users is the number who have logged in during the past seven days, which was 338,068 as of October 7.

That lower number also presents a problem for the crush of marketers such as Coca-Cola and Adidas who have set up virtual spaces in Second Life, only to have them largely vacant. After Wired magazine hyped Second Life with its travel guide, the magazine then did an about-face and ran an article titled, How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life. Many marketers spent the money — in the tens of thousands of dollars — to build a virtual island as an experiment but then got little payoff. Residents are dispersed throughout the virtual world so it’s difficult to get their attention en masse, plus there’s a limit to the number of people who can congregate in one place without crashing Linden’s servers.

(For a detailed argument on Wired’s story and the problem of empty spaces in Second Life, check out this blog post by Wired editor Chris Anderson and the ensuing debate in the comments.)

"Professor Avatar," by Christopher Conway, Inside Higher Ed, October 16, 2007 --- 

Only the last portion of the article is quoted below:

In short, you cannot put yourself “on” the Internet for others to see without creating an avatar. So, as we do more with teaching technology, as we record and videotape ourselves, and make interactive C.V.’s and homepages, we become more and more avatar-ish. We make countless choices, conscious and otherwise, about what to reveal about ourselves and how to stylize ourselves. The end result is our avatar who speaks for us on the Web. We fundamentally change our relationship to our students, who become viewers and consumers of our avatars, and who may increasingly interact with us through avatars of their own, such as their Facebook and MySpace pages. We speak to students through instant messaging at 2:30 a.m. when we discover that we are both online on our course Web page at the same time. We discuss course material and issues through soundbites and dialogical fragments of text on class message boards. We e-mail more. And we insinuate ourselves into each other’s personal lives through facebook or myspace profiles, which also facilitate staying in touch with students when they leave our classes. True, sometimes the interactions feel less real or substantial in comparison to interacting in person, but other times I am surprised at how some students open up more in an internet environment than they do in person.

Academic avatars are also powerful teaching tools. Not in the sense that it is inherently good to substitute an authentic, teacherly self with a virtual one, but in the sense of allowing the live, teaching self to have more qualitative, spontaneous and fruitful interaction in the classroom. The Teaching Avatar, in his/her virtual environment, can be utilized to channel traditional pedagogies so that a live teacher can spend more time on dynamic activities like discussion and groupwork during the class period. My thinking here is informed by my own experience but also by a recent essay by José Bowen of Southern Methodist University titled “Teaching Naked: Why Removing Technology from Your Classroom Will Improve Student Learning.” In the essay, which has widely circulated on the Internet among teachers, Bowen writes that “The most obvious way to open up class time for those best ‘aha’ moments is to remove your recitation of content (the lecture) from the class room.... Most of your lectures (all of the ones covering ‘content’) can be turned into videos, but interactive discussion cannot.” In other words, take technology out of the physical act of teaching face-to-face and put it online. Become a Teaching Avatar so that you can be more authentic and receptive as a live teacher.

Indeed going virtual to free up class time for discussion has never been easier than it is now. I can record a lecture in audio on my laptop or even make a video of myself through the computer’s built-in webcam, export the media into easily accesible formats (such as.mpg for audio or quicktime for video), and post it on my course blog where students can acquire it. Programs such as Camtasia and Profcast, and free web productivity tools like Slideshare and Zoho Show, allow professors to marry their powerpoints with audio and preserve them for posting on websites. Some professors, like Veselin Jungic of Canada’s Simon Fraser University, have gone even further, producing original films for posting on youtube to aid student learning. Jungic has created cartoons starring an avatar called “Math Girl” for assisting students in first-year calculus.

In closing there is another way in which academic avatars may prove to be indispensable to faculty members from now on. At no other time in history have academics in specialized disciplines been able to get their work read around the world with so much ease. Faculty who avoid academic avatars and technology altogether are missing out. For example, the work I did as an assistant professor in Latin American studies was picked up from my research Web site by Civilization Magazine, a non-virtual publication of the Smithsonian Institution, and by several Chilean newspapers. The online version of the UK’s Guardian newspaper has linked my scholarship twice, three M.A. students from Europe are using my work because of my homepage and an editor at the Financial Times may or may not be thinking about quoting me in a major piece he is currently writing (but I know that he is reading me because he found me online and asked me for help procuring my scholarship.) Academic avatars may be problematic for many reasons, but they undoubtedly have great potential for making academic work connect.

All faculty now live in the age of academic avatars. As the professorate becomes younger, more Internet savvy and avatar-ish, professors who don’t use avatars may become marginalized. Students who shop for classes online may be drawn more to courses taught by faculty with avatars. Scholarship made available through avatars may garner some faculty more attention than others. Why turn down a chance to help your class make when it may typically have trouble with enrollments? Why turn down a chance to have your work read and disseminated? And why not take your lecture out of the classroom and put it on YouTube so that you can do something more creative in class? You don’t have to take pictures of yourself holding a martini and peering at your students like a creep in a bar, and post them on your faculty homepage right next to your publications, but you wouldn’t be the first if you did. And when and if you regret that sleazy avatar, you can discard it and start all over again, at the touch of a button.

Christopher Conway is director of the Spanish Program in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Texas at Arlington. A pathway to his avatars can be found here.

Recruiting directors might create some employee-accountant avatars to show a more human side of their employees to overcome the traditional and often distorted view of accountants as boring geeks.
The following link was forwarded by Ed Scribner.

"Accounting firms hit cyberspace with hip marketing," by Greg Barr, Houston Business Journal, October 5, 2007 ---

Meet Katie.

She never forgets a face. She has sung at Carnegie Hall. She goes through a pack of gum half a stick at a time. And, by the way, she works for Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas PC.

Katie Shearin, a recruiting coordinator in the human capital department of accounting firm PKF Texas, is the new, fresh face of the Houston-based company. One of several new faces, in fact, that adorn the career section of the firm's Web site as part of a marketing campaign using younger employees to help reel in college recruits.

Employees are profiled highlighting likes and dislikes similar to what might appear on a dating Web site -- minus any mention of astrology signs or more intimate details. Such a strategy is meant to ensure that the words "boring" and "accountant" no longer pop up in the same sentence.


The Financial Accounting Standards Board recently approached Bloomfield about studying how to create financial accounting standards that will assist investors as much as possible, he quickly turned to the virtual world for answers.

"Theory Meets Practice Online: Researchers and academics are looking to online worlds such as Second Life to shed new light on old economic questions," by Francesca Di Meglio, Business Week, July 24, 2007 --- Click Here 

In fact, many economics researchers, including Bloomfield, professor of accounting at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, are using the virtual environment to test ideas involving staples of economics such as game theory, the effects of regulation, and issues involving money. Since 1989, Bloomfield has been running experiments in the lab in which he creates small game economies to study narrow issues. But when the Financial Accounting Standards Board recently approached Bloomfield about studying how to create financial accounting standards that will assist investors as much as possible, he quickly turned to the virtual world for answers.

"It would be very difficult to look at the complex issues that FASB is trying to address with eight people in a laboratory playing a very simple economic game," he says. "I started looking for how I could create a more realistic economy with more players dealing with a high degree of complexity. It didn't take me long to realize that people in virtual worlds are already doing just that."

. . .

At Indiana University, researcher Edward Castronova has posed the idea of creating multiple virtual economies to study the effects of different regulatory policies. At Indiana, Castronova is director of the Synthethic Worlds Initiative, a research center to study virtual worlds. "The opportunity is to conduct controlled research experiments at the level of all society, something social scientists have never been able to do before," the center's Web site notes (see, 5/1/06, "Virtual World, Virtual Economies").

A virtual stock market is certainly not the only online entity that opens itself up to research. Marketers are already using the virtual world to test campaigns, packaging, and consumer satisfaction. Pepsi (PEP) famously tracks use of its products in Architects seek reaction to design. Starwood Hotels (HOT) test-marketed its new loft designs in Second Life (see, 8/23/06, "Starwood Hotels Explore Second Life First").

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on tools and tricks of the trade in education technology are at

Wal-Mart's Latest Sale: Broadband The retail giant's ISP turn is likely to push down prices and squeeze out competition.
Will other big-box stores follow suit?

Broadband sellers, beware. A new provider is on the scene—and it's a known price cutter. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) plans to announce Oct. 9 that it will resell high-speed Internet access from Hughes Communications (HUGH), the world's largest provider of broadband services via satellite. Granted, the market for satellite broadband is small, given the widespread availability of digital subscriber line access from phone companies and cable modem services from cable operators. Currently, satellite service tends to be more expensive and it's available mainly in hard-to-reach rural areas. Fewer than 500,000 Americans subscribe to satellite broadband access, according to consultancy Parks Associates. "It's still mainly for people who don't have a choice," says Michael Cai, an analyst at Parks. Only about 10% of Americans have no access to DSL or cable broadband.
Olga Kharif, Business Week, October 8, 2007 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks are at
Bob Jensen's technology glossary is at

Jensen Comment
Satellite broadband is great downloading alternative in the boondocks where cable and DSL connections are not available. But relative to cable and DSL broadband alternatives, satellite downloading is slower and satellite uploading is via a snail's pace landline telephone  ---

Ethics Centers in Universities Devote Scant Attention to Ethics Breaches in Their Own Houses

"Ethics 101," by Peter Berkowitz, The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2007, Page A19 ---

It should not be surprising that our universities generate interesting and urgent ethical challenges. After all, higher education is a big business. Scholarship is a demanding discipline. Teaching is a noble undertaking fraught with weighty responsibilities. And liberal education plays a crucial role in the formation of free citizens.

What may surprise is that, at the programs and centers devoted to the study of ethics and the professions that have been established over the last two decades at our leading universities, one profession whose ethical issues the professors generally ignore is their own.

The return to campus this fall brings sharp reminders of the confusion about their purpose that plagues our campuses, and so underscores the need for serious study of university ethics. In the recently published and already critically acclaimed book "Until Proven Innocent," K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. show how the Duke University faculty and administration collaborated with a reckless press and a lawless prosecutor in the rush to convict in the court of public opinion -- and, but for the superb work of their attorneys, in the criminal courts of Durham, N.C. -- three white lacrosse players falsely accused of raping an African-American stripper.

On Sept. 28, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, "Indoctrinate U," Evan Coyne Maloney's riveting documentary about the war on free speech and individual rights waged by university faculty and administrations enjoyed its Washington premiere. Also, in September, for crystal clear political reasons, following a faculty petition circulated mostly by women from the University of California, Davis, the UC Board of Regents withdrew a speaking invitation to former Secretary of the Treasury and former Harvard President Lawrence Summers.

But don't expect the leading ethics centers -- Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, Princeton's Program on Ethics and Public Affairs, or Yale's Program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics -- to sponsor lectures, fund graduate student and faculty fellowships, or publish writings that examine these and numerous other ethical questions that stem from contemporary university life. While lavishing attention on legal, political and medical ethics, and to a lesser extent business ethics and journalism ethics -- worthy areas of inquiry all -- our leading university ethicists have shown scant interest in exploring university ethics.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary last spring, the Harvard University Program on Ethics and the Professions is among the nation's oldest and most distinguished. Yet of the more than 130 public lectures by eminent visitors sponsored over the last two decades by the Harvard ethics program, only three deal with the university -- one defending affirmative action, one defending the propriety of academics engaging in public debate and one defending academic freedom. The program's Web site lists more than 875 publications by over 120 ethics fellows and senior scholars. Hundreds of the writings deal with law and politics and ethics. Hundreds explore medicine and ethics. Dozens discuss business ethics. But only about 10 of the 875 publications, and five of the 120 authors, address university ethics.

Take away a few defenses of affirmative action and multiculturalism, and a few reflections on teaching ethics at the university, and little is left. All in all, after 20 years of generously funding research in practical or applied ethics, Harvard's program has made no discernible contribution to illuminating the challenges of university governance, and the variety of duties and conflicts confronted in their professional roles by professors and administrators.

Much the same holds true of the Yale Program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics and the Princeton University Center for Human Values.

What explains the neglect by our leading university ethics programs of a vital topic that so plainly falls under their purview? The major cause is probably routine thoughtlessness: Surrounded by like-minded souls and therefore protected from questions that might rock the boat, and from research projects that might call for scholarly retooling, it may never occur to many ethics professors that, no less than law, medicine, business and journalism, their profession too is worthy of systematic scrutiny.

One cannot rule out that a few ethics faculty may have convinced themselves that professors and administrators, because of their peculiar virtue, already confront and wisely dispose of all the moral dilemmas and professional conflicts of interest that come before them. It would not be the first time that intellectuals, so aggressive in finding false-consciousness and self-interest in others, concealed or overlooked their own.

Nevertheless, if they are impelled or compelled to overcome disciplinary inertia and intellectual orthodoxy and turn their attention to their own profession, professional ethicists will discover a trove of fascinating and timely questions. Here are a few:

Is it proper for university disciplinary boards, often composed of faculty and administrators with no special knowledge of the law, to investigate student accusations of sexual assault by fellow students, which involve crimes for which perpetrators can go to jail for decades?

Should universities have one set of rules and punishments for students who plagiarize or pay others to write their term papers, and another -- and lesser -- set for professors who plagiarize or pay others to write their articles and books, or should students and faculty be held to the same tough standards of intellectual integrity?

How can universities respect both professors' academic freedom and students' right to be instructed in the diversity of opinions?

What is the proper balance in hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions between the need for transparency and accountability and the need for confidentiality?

What institutional arrangements give university trustees adequate independence from the administrators they review?

Is it consistent with their mission for university presses to publish books whose facts and footnotes they do not check?

In accordance with what principles may a university bar ROTC from campus because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy" concerning homosexuals, while inviting to campus a foreign leader whose country not only punishes private consensual homosexual sex but is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and who himself denies the Holocaust and threatens to obliterate the sovereign state of Israel?

By exploring these and myriad other issues, our ethics programs would do more than fulfill their mandate. They would also vindicate liberal education by demonstrating the premium academicians place on ensuring that their own practice conforms to the proper principles.

Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and a professor at George Mason University School of Law.

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

A Gender Bender
Deloitte Tries a Different Sales Pitch for Women

Nancy Camarota, a customer-relations executive at Allied Waste Industries Inc., said she thought it was odd when a Deloitte & Touche USA LLP consultant used an exclamation point in an email. "Guys do not use exclamation points," she thought. "Is he making fun of me?"  . . . Ms. Benko started exploring the issue while researching ways to retain and attract female employees. She teamed up with TrendSight Group, a Winnetka, Ill., consulting firm and after interviewing senior women executives and Deloitte employees, they concluded that the same discovery process women use when doing personal shopping applies to purchasing business services. A woman might go into a store for black pants, for example, but then see something else she likes and buy that, too, or change her mind. Men just buy the pants.
Erin White, "Deloitte Tries a Different Sales Pitch for Women," The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2007; Page B1---
Jensen Comment
As John Stossel would say, "Give us a break." What does this make me? I use exclamation points all the time.

Report offers new analysis of strengths of countries in attracting the best foreign talent for higher education

"The Mobile International Student," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 10, 2007 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

VegCooking --- 

Related Links
Bon Appetite Magazine
Bake Cookies
Gourmet Magazine
Pumpkin Soup Recipes
Spanish Tapas*
Spice World


"The Accounting Cycle:  The Merrill Lynch-Enron-Government Conspiracy," by: J. Edward Ketz, SmartPros, October 2007 --- 

October 2007 — If I were a getaway driver for a group of bank thieves, should I go Scot-free if I weren't the primary thief? I doubt that many people would answer yes. Then how come Merrill Lynch is on the verge of escaping the wrath of investors because of its involvement in some of Enron's corporate and accounting frauds?

The Securities and Exchange Commission lays out the facts in various documents such as Litigation Release No. 20159 and Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 2619, and in the related Complaint in the U.S. District Court.

Managers at Enron needed to prop up the firm's net income and cash flows in 1999, so in December 1999 Jeffrey McMahon, then treasurer of Enron, negotiated with managers at Merrill Lynch to purchase an interest in Enron's Nigerian barges. Executives from Merrill Lynch balked because there were some significant issues about the value of this investment, so McMahon and other Enron officials sweetened the pot by giving an oral promise to repurchase the investment in six months, and they promised Merrill Lynch an annualized return of 22 percent.

The Merrill Lynch managers agreed to the transaction, which was consummated in mid-December 1999 and was reversed in late June 2000 when Merrill Lynch sold its investment in the Nigerian barges to LJM2, one of the infamous special purpose entities of Enron.

Litigation Release No. 18038 complements this discussion but it focuses on Merrill Lynch's involvement in this scheme. (Also see the related complaint). The SEC claimed that Merrill Lynch and senior managers Robert Furst, Schuyler Tilney, Daniel Bayly, and Thomas Davis committed securities fraud by assisting top-level Enron managers in depicting a loan as if it were an authentic sale of Nigerian barges, plus engaging in two energy option contracts that canceled each other out, but for which Enron improperly recorded income.

The SEC summed the case this way, "Based on their substantial assistance to Enron, defendants aided and abetted Enron's violations of the federal securities laws." Merrill Lynch the firm settled with the SEC by agreeing to pay disgorgement, penalties, and interest of $80 million.

In a 2004 trial, a jury found these four Merrill executives guilty of participating in a fraudulent scheme. The former Merrill managers appealed the verdicts, and amazingly the Fifth Circuit tossed them out. The appellate court held that those bankers provided "honest services" and that they did not personally profit from the deal.

That argument assumes that getaway drivers supply honest services to bank robbers; after all, an oral agreement to repurchase the investment at 22 percent return is a strong signal that something is amiss with the transaction. The argument also shows a lack of understanding how managers profit in the real world. Investment bankers advance their careers by bringing in business that generates income for the bank; Merrill Lynch's executives did that with the Enron barge transaction, thereby promoting their careers, their promotions, and their salaries and bonuses, even if in an indirect fashion.

Shareholders led by the University of California brought a class-action suit against Merrill Lynch and other banks, including Credit Suisse First Boston, who participated in several sham pre-pay transactions with Enron, and Barclays, who engaged in sham transactions with Enron via a special purpose entity named Colonnade. Other banks had settled with the plaintiffs, including Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (settling at $2.4 billion) and Citigroup ($2 billion). The trial never got off the ground, as the Fifth Circuit tossed it out on a 2-1 vote. With astounding hubris, the majority acknowledged that its decision did not "coincide … with notions of justice and fair play." Plaintiffs have appealed to the Supreme Court where those quaint notions may still exist.

This state of affairs stems from the 1994 case Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver. The Supreme Court decreed that professional advisers who knowingly aid and abet securities fraud are not liable to victims. The Court said that the securities laws do not extend that far and invited Congress to rewrite the securities laws if its members thought the provisions defining securities fraud should extend to professional advisers. The Congress extended it a bit, allowing the SEC to take modest actions against such culprits, but the Congress did not extend Section 10(b) provisions to aggrieved shareholders.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment: 
I double dare you to go to my "Rotten to the Core" threads and search for every instance of "Merrill" ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the Enron scandal are at

Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz is at 

"Credit card fraud soars, despite new safeguards," AccountingWeb, October 11, 2007 ---

New fraud-prevention technology has made credit card crime more difficult in the U.K., but it is increasing in other countries that have not adopted "chip-and-pin" safeguards. Chip-and-pin credit cards are cards containing electronic chips that contain the information otherwise found on magnetic strips. According to the Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS), the U.K. clearing service, credit card crime in the U.K. dropped 4 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the

first six months of 2006. However, fraud on UK-issued cards, primarily in the U.S., rose 126 percent during that time. Chip-and-pin is not accepted universally, so cardholders' names and account numbers, expiration dates, and security codes are still stored on the magnetic strip of a credit or debit card, as well as on the microchip.

Criminals are copying the data on the strip to create a fake card that is then used in a country that has yet to upgrade to chip-and-pin technology, the BBC reported. All European Union members plan to upgrade by 2010.

Fraud patterns are changing. Last year, losses suffered by retailers, credit card users and financial institutions fell by 3 percent. But this year the numbers are rising due to the surge of cloned cards in the U.S. and elsewhere, along with a 44 percent increase in online and telephone fraud for the first half of this year, reported.

The good news in the U.K. is that online banking fraud is down, thanks to chip-and-pin and other security measures, as are losses from stolen cards being used to withdraw money from cash machines, which is down by 57 percent. When it comes to transactions where the cardholder is present, fraud has fallen 11 percent, FinanceWeek reported.

U.S. companies are boosting spending on credit card security, however, under the threat of fines. According to The Wall Street Journal, rules called the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standards discourage encoding customer information on the magnetic strips. The rules call for ways to encrypt information to make it unreadable to hackers and methods to control employee access to sensitive information. The rules are not new, but Visa has announced it would start levying fines of up to $25,000 a month to large merchants who aren't following the rules.

Forrester Research says that the biggest merchants in the U.S. are forecast to spend $400 million to $500 million this year on technology to meet the security standards.

Another technology is making its way into circulation in the U.K.: a bank card that allows shoppers to pay for inexpensive items without using a PIN or signature, The Times of London reported. These so-called contactless cards will be issued in London over the next couple of months. APACS estimates 5 million will be issued by the end of next year.

Contactless payment cards use short-range radio to exchange payment information with the register for items less than £10. Shoppers merely tap their debit or credit cards on a reader. A PIN will still be needed for more expensive items.

Robert Kenly of, a price comparison site, told the Times: "There will be a number of checks in place and so long as cardholders remember to report lost cards immediately, they will always have any losses refunded. For some people it will perhaps seem too risky but, as with anything new, once people have tried it they may find that they actually like it."

Banks in the U.S. have been issuing contactless cards since 2003, with more than 10 million now accepted by 30,000 shops and restaurants, the Times reported.

Bob Jensen's threads on credit card scams are at

"American Electric Power Settles $4.6B Pollution Suit," NPR, October 9, 2007 ---

American Electric Power Co. is required to:
- Spend $4.6 billion on so-called scrubbers and other pollution controls to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain and smog.
- Cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 69 percent by 2016, and reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 79 percent by 2018.
- Pay civil fines of $15 million.
- Pay $60 million in mitigation measures. The money includes $21 million to reduce emissions from barges and trucks in the Ohio River Valley; $24 million for projects to conserve energy and produce alternative energy; and $3 million for the Chesapeake Bay, $2 million for Shenandoah National Park and $10 million to acquire ecologically sensitive lands in Appalachia.

"Good Grief," by By Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, October 10, 2007 ---

Wilson (who had started using psychoanalysis as a means of interpreting literary works well before this was required by law) saw in the figure of Philoctetes something like an allegorical emblem for the artist’s inner life. Neurosis is the agonizing wound that leaves the sufferer isolated and bitter, while genius is the ability to bend the bow, to do what others cannot. Creativity and psychic pain, “like strength and mutilation,” as Wilson put it, “may be inextricably bound up together.”

Not such a novel idea, after all this time. And one prone to abuse — reducing artistic creativity to symptomatology. (Or, worse, elevating symptomatology into art: a phenomenon some of us first encounter while dating.)

In Wilson’s hands, though, it was a way through the labyrinth of a writer’s work, of finding hidden passages within it. The two longest studies in The Wound and the Bow were interpretations of Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling: two authors whose critical reputations had been nearly done in by their commercial success. Wilson’s criticism, while biographical in method, did not take the debunking route. If he documented the wound, he also showed the strength with which each figure could draw the bow.

Now, I’m not really sure that the archer serves all that well as a model of the artist. (The myths of Daedelus or Orpheus work better, for a variety of reasons, and cover much of the same analogical ground.) On the other hand, Philoctetes did tend to complain a lot — as did Charles Schulz, it seems. The cartoonist emerges from his biographer’s pages as a man of numerous griefs and grievances. His life was shaped by an upbringing that was economically secure but emotionally complex. His childhood was spent among among relatives who expressed affection through joking insults (to give things the most positive construction possible).

Michaelis, who has also written about the life of the painter N.C. Wyeth, offers numerous well-framed appreciations of Schulz’s artistry. The book is Wilsonian, in that sense. But any revaluation of “Peanuts” as cultural artifact is bound to be less a topic for conversation than the unveiling of details about his melancholia and his resentments.

An episode of the documentary series “American Masters” on PBS airing later this month will be tied to the book, which should reach stores any day now. Soon it will be common knowledge that everyone who met the cartoonist’s first wife had a pretty good idea where Lucy originated. Numerous “Peanuts” strips are embedded throughout the book — each of them echoing events or situations in Schulz’s life or some aspect of his personality and relationships. (Members of his family are complaining about the biography, a development to be expected.)

The cartoons themselves — however telling as illustrations of things the biographer has discovered about Schulz — are rich works in their own right. They fall somewhere between art and literature; but those categories really don’t matter very much, because they create their own little world. The biography derives its meaning from the cartoons and not vice versa.

So in an effort to restore some balance, I’d like to recommend some supplementary reading about “Peanuts” — an essay that says very little about Schulz himself. It focuses instead on what he created. How an artist becomes capable of bending the bow is difficult to understand. Biography is one approach, but it does not exhaust the topic. (In a way it only begins to pose the riddle.)

The piece in question is “The World of Charlie Brown” by Umberto Eco. It appeared in his collection Apocalittica e integrati, a volume that became rather notorious when it first appeared in 1964. Parts of the collection were translated, along with some later pieces, as Apocalypse Postponed (Indiana University Press, 1994)

Like other essays in the book, the analysis of “Peanuts” is part of Eco’s challenge to familiar arguments about “mass culture,” whether framed in Marxist or conservative terms. Either way, the theorists who wrote about the topic tended to be denunciatory. Eco, who was 32 when Apocalittica appeared, had published a couple of monographs on medieval intellectual history and was also working on semiotics and the philosophy of language. Aside from teaching, he paid the bills by working for a television network and a trade publisher. All the quasi-sociological hand-wringing about the media struck Eco as rather obtuse, and he did not hesitate to say so.

From the vantage point of someone who had written about the aesthetic theory of Thomas Aquinus, it was not self-evident that “mass culture” was the fresh horror that worried his contemporaries. He saw it beginning with the cathedrals — or at least no later than the printing press. The fact that Eco wrote about Superman and television worried some of the reviewers.

Continued in article

In The Wound and the Bow, Edmund Wilson analyzes how various writers, such as Dickens, Wharton, and Hemingway, used the central wound of their life as the major material of their art. Throughout her entire childhood, a writer I know worked fiendishly hard in the hope of becoming a professional ballet dancer. She entered the Harkness Ballet trainee program at eighteen, but she left after less than a year. It’s only right that her first book, published a couple of years ago when she was in her mid-forties, is a collection of stories set in the world of ballet, and her novel-in-progress is told from the point of view of George Balanchine. In Rocky, asked what he sees in dowdy Adrian, Rocky says, “She fills gaps.” I was a great child-athlete and I just assumed this play-paradise would last forever. It didn’t. Writing about it fills gaps.
"THE WOUND AND THE BOW," by David Shields, Believer Magazine ---

From the Scout Report on October 12, 2007

Joost 1.0 --- 

Some people may appreciate having a break from television while they are on the Internet, but this latest version of Joost offers no such rest to those potentially weary souls. Joost allows users to watch thousands of shows online, provided that they have a high-speed Internet connection. Along with popular programs, visitors can also search through the genre list to locate documentary and news channels. New users may also wish to look through the “Selected Picks” section as well. This version of Joost is compatible with computers running Windows XP Service Pack 2.  

Dugg-Digg Widget for Dashboard 1.1.5 --- 

Digg is perhaps one of the web’s best known sites, and it contains various content submitted by users from all over the world. Dugg 1.1.5 is a tiny widget that can help Digg devotees (and Digg neophytes) search and find content on Digg quickly. Visitors can view stories for specific topics or users and also check out what friends might be “digging”. This version of Dugg is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3.


From The Washington Post on October 11, 2007

How many online searches are conducted worldwide every minute?

A. 5.6 million
B. 1.4 million
C. 870,000
D. 420,000

From The Washington Post on October 12, 2007

How many items did eBay list in the second quarter of this year?

A. 230 million
B. 336 million
C. 497 million
D. 559 million

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

From The Washington Post on October 16, 2007

What activity increased a person's likelihood of voting by about 4 percentage points?

A. E-voting option
B. Voice-mail message from candidate
C. Text message reminder
D. E-mail reminder

Updates from WebMD ---

A Blood Test for Alzheimer's
Scientists at Stanford University have identified a set of protein biomarkers in the blood that can correctly identify people with Alzheimer's and predict which patients with mild cognitive impairment will go on to develop the disease. If replicated in larger studies, this protein profile could drastically improve on existing methods to diagnose the disease. Because cognitive symptoms don't usually appear until the brain has undergone significant damage, and no reliable physical symptoms have yet been identified, accurate diagnosis relies largely on cognitive testing and lab tests to rule out other problems. The study was published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.
Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, October 15, 2007 --- 

For millions with eye damage, a new artificial cornea could prove a safer, more effective treatment
A novel artificial cornea that adheres to eye cells could bring new hope to the estimated 10 million people worldwide who are blind because of corneal damage or disease. The new design should relieve some of the complications--such as tissue rejection--that often accompany corneal transplants or the implantation of existing artificial corneas. The device, which has been extensively tested in rabbits, is expected to be in clinical trials early next year.
Brittany Sauser, MIT's Technology Review, October 10, 2007 ---

Study finds that people are programmed to love chocolate
For the first time, scientists have linked the all-too-human preference for a food — chocolate — to a specific, chemical signature that may be programmed into the metabolic system and is detectable by laboratory tests. The signature reads ‘chocolate lover’ in some people and indifference to the popular sweet in others, the researchers say.
PhysOrg, October 12, 2007 ---

Condom Experts Told That Size Matters
As the world's top condom experts convene this week to update international standards, one American entrepreneur has a simple message: Size matters. It's shaking up an industry that has generally taken a one-size-fits-all approach. Frank Sadlo, founder of TheyFit, which makes what he claims are the world's first custom-fit condoms, is pushing for updated standards to allow greater variation in condom size. It's not just about well-endowed men in cramped prophylactic quarters, Sadlo told a meeting Thursday of delegates from 21 countries under the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization. When given a choice, he said many men prefer condoms smaller than the standard minimum 6.3 inches long, with more than half ordering those less than 5.12 inches. At the session in Seogwipo on South Korea's Jeju Island, more than 100 representatives - including leading manufacturers, government standards bodies and aid groups - pored over 42 pages of specifications and testing requirements for condoms. Standards are especially crucial - failure could mean the spread of potentially deadly diseases or unwanted pregnancy.
Burt Herman, PhysOrg, October 11, 2007 ---

Farm kids have lower risk of asthma, study shows
Farm children appear to have a lower risk of asthma than their urban counterparts or even those living in a non-agricultural rural environment, according to a University of Alberta study. Analysis of two surveys involving 13,524 asthma–free children aged less than 12 years in the ongoing Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) showed that children living in a farming environment had a lower risk of developing asthma than their counterparts who resided in either non-farming rural environments, such as residential acreages and rural towns, or an urban environment.
PhysOrg, October 16, 2007 ---

"In Diabetes, a Complex of Causes," by Amanda Schaffer, The New York Times, October 16, 2007 ---

An explosion of new research is vastly changing scientists’ understanding of diabetes and giving new clues about how to attack it.

The fifth leading killer of Americans, with 73,000 deaths a year, diabetes is a disease in which the body’s failure to regulate glucose, or blood sugar, can lead to serious and even fatal complications. Until very recently, the regulation of glucose — how much sugar is present in a person’s blood, how much is taken up by cells for fuel, and how much is released from energy stores — was regarded as a conversation between a few key players: the pancreas, the liver, muscle and fat.

Now, however, the party is proving to be much louder and more complex than anyone had shown before.

New research suggests that a hormone from the skeleton, of all places, may influence how the body handles sugar. Mounting evidence also demonstrates that signals from the immune system, the brain and the gut play critical roles in controlling glucose and lipid metabolism. (The findings are mainly relevant to Type 2 diabetes, the more common kind, which comes on in adulthood.)

Focusing on the cross-talk between more different organs, cells and molecules represents a “very important change in our paradigm” for understanding how the body handles glucose, said Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, a diabetes researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School.

The defining feature of diabetes is elevated blood sugar. But the reasons for abnormal sugar seem to “differ tremendously from person to person,” said Dr. Robert A. Rizza, a professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Understanding exactly what signals are involved, he said, raises the hope of “providing the right care for each person each day, rather than giving everyone the same drug.”

Last summer, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center published startling results showing that a hormone released from bone may help regulate blood glucose.

When the lead researcher, Dr. Gerard Karsenty, first described the findings at a conference, the assembled scientists “were overwhelmed by the potential implications,” said Dr. Saul Malozowski, senior adviser for endocrine physiology research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, who was not involved in the research. “It was coming from left field. People thought, ‘Oof, this is really new.’

“For the first time,” he went on, “we see that the skeleton is actually an endocrine organ,” producing hormones that act outside of bone.

In previous work, Dr. Karsenty had shown that leptin, a hormone produced by fat, is an important regulator of bone metabolism. In this work, he tested the idea that the conversation was a two-way street. “We hypothesized that if fat regulates bone, bone in essence must regulate fat,” he said.

Working with mice, he found that a previously known substance called osteocalcin, which is produced by bone, acted by signaling fat cells as well as the pancreas. The net effect is to improve how mice secrete and handle insulin, the hormone that helps the body move glucose from the bloodstream into cells of the muscle and liver, where it can be used for energy or stored for future use. Insulin is also important in regulating lipids.

In Type 2 diabetes, patients’ bodies no longer heed the hormone’s directives. Their cells are insulin-resistant, and blood glucose levels surge. Eventually, production of insulin in the pancreas declines as well.

Dr. Karsenty found that in mice prone to Type 2 diabetes, an increase in osteocalcin addressed the twin problems of insulin resistance and low insulin production. That is, it made the mice more sensitive to insulin and it increased their insulin production, thus bringing their blood sugar down. As a bonus, it also made obese mice less fat.

If osteocalcin works similarly in humans, it could turn out to be a “unique new treatment” for Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Malozowski said. (Most current diabetes drugs either raise insulin production or improve insulin sensitivity, but not both. Drugs that increase production tend to make insulin resistance worse.)

Continued in article

Office jobs may be hazardous to the hips
A new survey says working in an office may be hard on the waistlines of nearly half of U.S. workers.
PhysOrg, October 12, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
But nearby faculty clubs are more hazardous.

Does your phone have a halitosis meter?
With that in mind, a Japanese company has unveiled a prototype cell phone with a built-in bad-breath meter that will let you know if you need to reach for a mint. It also keeps track of your activity level, your pulse, and your paunch, thanks to a built-in pedometer, a pulse meter, and a body-fat analyzer, which sends a small electrical signal through your body to assess its composition.
Anna Davison, "A Cell Phone That Spots Bad Breath Among a new phone's health monitors is a "halitosis meter," MIT's Technology Review, October 12, 2007 ---

Jensen Comment
Your minimum, median, and maximum scores might be something you can add to your resume or you online dating module.

There’s a risk of being arrested for heavy breathing during phone conversations

Five Best Books About Newspapering

"Read All About It!, by Seth Lipsky, The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2007 ---

Read All About It!
A veteran reporter and editor's favorite books about newspapering.


1. "The Paris Edition" by Waverley Root (North Point, 1987).

Between 1927 and 1934, the Chicago Tribune published an edition in Paris, a small sophisticated daily in a big city with a raging newspaper war. Never in the history of journalism, it was said, have so many men had such a wonderful time on so little money. In "The Paris Edition," Tribune reporter Waverley Root memorably evokes the era, not least with his classic account of Charles Lindbergh's Paris landing in 1927. The United Press hired goons to monopolize the phone booths at Le Bourget Airport, where Lindbergh was set to land; the Associated Press hired bruisers to attack them; all six phone booths were destroyed in the melee and reporters had to run their copy into town on foot. In this memoir, we also meet the Tribune's proprietor, Col. Robert McCormick, who, in a fit of pique, assigned his best correspondent, Floyd Gibbons, to a new beat: the Sahara. Gibbons set out to become the first person to cross the desert's expanse while carrying a fully unfurled American flag, which resulted not only in a newspaper series that gripped the world but also in an epic expense account.

2. "How I Got That Story" edited by David Brown and W. Richard Bruner (Dutton, 1967).

Throughout my career, I have toted along "How I Got That Story," a collection of first-hand accounts of some of the greatest scoops of all time. Its authors are members of the Overseas Press Club of America. The volume starts with "Germany's Meekest Hour," about the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, in which the New York Sun's Burnet Hershey describes how he disguised himself as a German to get into a prisoner-of-war stockade in Paris, where he heard the German foreign minister tell the captured soldiers from his homeland: "We will rise from this shame." The book also includes New York Times reporter William L. Laurence's story of how he was brought inside the Manhattan Project by Gen. Leslie Groves so that he could write an eyewitness account of the bombing of Nagasaki in August 1945.

3. "The Brass Ring" by Bill Mauldin (Norton, 1971).

In Bill Mauldin's memoir, the G.I. cartoonist who created the soldiers Willie and Joe tells the story of the Stars and Stripes newspaper in World War II. "The Brass Ring" reprints many of Mauldin's famed cartoons, including one depicting two officers on top of an Alp, one saying to the other: "Beautiful view. Is there one for the enlisted men?" A Pulitzer Prize-winning illustration, from 1945, shows a group of bedraggled Yanks marching a group of bedraggled German prisoners in the rain and mud, with the caption: " 'Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory, are bringing in thousands of hungry, ragged, battle-weary prisoners,' (News Item)." One of the cartoons--at a USO show, soldiers line up to get in while officers escort girls out a side door--is accompanied by Mauldin's priceless account of how it prompted a showdown between the cartoonist and an outraged Gen. George Patton, who accused him of demoralizing the troops. Mauldin also describes, in a moving section of the book, a military funeral in Italy in 1945 when Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott turned his back on the dignitaries and addressed the dead.

4. "A Treasury of Great Reporting" edited by Louis L. Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Simon & Schuster, 1949).

Here, in another anthology I have kept with me all my career, are reprints of classic pieces of journalism, as they were published--nearly 200 samples of "Literature Under Pressure, From the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time," as the subtitle has it. You'll find the Boston News-Letter's dispatch on the Boston Tea Party as well as Homer Bigart's reporting for the New York Times on the trial of Adolf Eichmann (in the second edition, published in 1962). The volume has Horace Greeley's interview with Brigham Young. It contains Whitelaw Reid's coverage of the Confederate catastrophe of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg ("all the glory visible, all the horror of the fearful field concealed"). And the book covers the stories behind the stories in well-researched entries by the annotators. In the preface, veteran reporter and editor Herbert Bayard Swope says that the reprinted articles "will show why newspaper work is so eternally and irresistibly seductive." He's right.

5. "Newspaper Days" by H.L. Mencken (Knopf, 1941).

This is the second of the three volumes of H.L. Mencken's "Days." The first, "Happy Days," about his youth, is the best. The last, "Heathen Days," is anticlimactic. The middle volume--about what happened after he walked into the Baltimore Morning Herald, at the age of 18, and presented himself to its city editor--is a newspaper classic. In one chapter, he discusses what he calls the "synthesis"--or fabrication--of news, including a bogus story by one reporter about the ill effects of sticking one's umbrella into an arc-light. Given the evidence presented, the book is also a reminder to regard the crime reporting of Mencken's day with caution. Like other newspapermen of his time given over to casual racism and cynicism, Mencken is not a wholly attractive character. But he demonstrates how a master craftsman turns out prose and how the gritty job of a reporting beat on a metropolitan newspaper can create the foundation for a career in literature of the highest order.

Mr. Lipsky is the editor of the New York Sun.


What's "institutional structure?"
What's the theory entwined in the works of the three 2007 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics?

Nobel Prizes ---
Nobel Prizes in Economics tend to go to mathematicians and/or conservative market theorists.
Nobel Peace Prices tend to reflect liberal political biases, perhaps even not-so-hidden Nobel agendas.
Nobel Prizes for accounting and mathematics are nonexistent, probably since both disciplines are built upon assumptions rather than reality. Actually this is also true for economics, although somehow an exception was made for this branch of astrology.

"A Market Nobel," by Peter Boettke, The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2007; Page A21 ---

Yesterday Leonid Hurwicz, Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for their pioneering work in the field of "mechanism design." Strangely, some have used this occasion to disparage free-market economics. But the truth is the deserving recipients owe a direct debt to free-market thinkers who came before them.

Mechanism design is an area of economic research that focuses on how institutional structures can be manipulated by changing the rules of the game in order to produce socially optimal results. The best intentions for the public good will go astray if the institutional arrangements are not consistent with the self-interest of decision makers.

Mr. Myerson's work on how to design auctions to elicit information about the value of the good being auctioned -- and how to maximize the revenue extracted from the auction -- has informed numerous privatizations of publicly owned assets over the past quarter-century. Mr. Maskin also contributed to auction theory, and applied the idea of mechanism design to assess political institutions such as voting systems.

Mechanism design theory was established to try to address the main challenge posed by Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek. It all starts with Mr. Hurwicz's response to Hayek's famous paper, "The Use of Knowledge in Society." In the 1930s and '40s, Hayek was embroiled in the "socialist calculation debate." Mises, Hayek's mentor in Vienna, had raised the challenge in his book "Socialism," and before that in an article, that without having the means of production in private hands, the economic system will not create the incentives or the information to properly decide between the alternative uses of scarce resources. Without the production process of the market economy, socially desirable outcomes will be impossible to achieve.

In the mid-1930s, Hayek published Mises's essay in English in his book, "Collectivist Economic Planning." From there the discussion moved to the U.K. and the U.S. Hayek summarized the fundamental challenge that advocates of socialism needed to come to grips with. Hayek's argument, a refinement of Mises, basically stated that the economic problem society faced was not how to allocate given resources, but rather how to mobilize and utilize the knowledge dispersed throughout the economy.

Hayek argued that mathematical modeling, which relied on a set of given assumptions, had obscured the fundamental problem. These questions were not being probed since they were assumed away in the mathematical models of market socialism presented by Oskar Lange and, later, Abba Lerner. Milton Friedman, when he reviewed Lerner's "Economics of Control," stated that it was as if economic analysis of policy was being conducted in a vacuum. Lange actually argued that questions of bureaucratic incentives did not belong in economics and were best left to other disciplines such as psychology and sociology.

Leonid Hurwicz, in his classic papers "On the Concept and Possibility of Informational Decentralization" (1969), "On Informationally Decentralized Systems" (1972), and "The Design of Mechanisms for Resource Allocation" (1973), embraced Hayek's challenge. He developed mechanism-design theory to test the logic of the Mises-Hayek contention that socialism could not possibly mobilize the dispersed knowledge in society in a way that would permit rational economic calculation for the alternative uses of scarce resources. Mises and Hayek argued that replacing the invisible hand of the market with the guided one of government would not work. Mr. Hurwicz wanted to see if they were right, and under what conditions one could say they were wrong.

Those efforts are at the foundation of the field that was honored by the Nobel Prize committee. To function properly, any economic system must, as Hayek pointed out, structure incentives so that the dispersed and sometimes conflicting knowledge in society is mobilized to realize the gains from exchange and innovation.

Last year Mr. Myerson acknowledged his own debt to Mr. Hurwicz -- and thus Hayek -- in "Fundamental Theory of Institutions: A Lecture in Honor of Leo Hurwicz." The incentive-compatibility issue has highlighted the problems of moral hazard and adverse selection (perverse behavior due to incentives caused by rules that are supposed protect us and selection problems due to imperfect information). Mr. Hurwicz helped repair a mid-20th century neglect of institutions in economic analysis.

While we celebrate the brilliance of Messrs. Hurwicz, Maskin and Myerson, we should also remember that Hayek's challenge provided their inspiration. Hayek concluded that the private-property rights that come with the rule of law, freedom of contract, and freedom of association is still the one mechanism design that mobilizes and utilizes the dispersed information in an economy. Furthermore, it does so in a way that tends to capture the gains from trade and innovation so that wealth is continually created and humanity is made better off.

Mr. Boettke is a professor of economics at George Mason University and the Mercatus Center.

October 17, 2007 reply from Paul Williams [Paul_Williams@NCSU.EDU]

Bob, et al.

As I think I have mentioned before there is no Nobel Prize in economics. Alfred Nobel established his trust fund because of guilt over inventing dynamite. He awarded prizes only to those branches of intellectual endeavor that he believed had the potential to bring "goodness" to human kind and end wars forever (chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, and peace (essentially noble political acts because peace is largely about politics perhaps explaining why right- wingers don't tend to win the Peace Prize).

In 1964 the Nobel Committee agreed to include within the prizes The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Science in Honor of Alfred Nobel, funded not by the Nobel Trust, but by financial interests. This was a political move to bring legitimacy to economic "science" whose scientific prescriptions for policy always manage somehow to benefit financial interests.

Apparently we have now "scientific" proof that labor is our punishment for the Fall from Grace. Science my a uh foot.

October 17, 2007 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]

Paul and Bob,

The controversies involving the economics prize include:

1. Theoretical v. Practical: Kantorovich, the Russian mathematician is supposed to have expressed disbelief at receiving one of the earliest economics Nobels (1975), since he had done virtually no work in economics except for laying the groundwork for what later became linear programming. But that was just a footnote in his life's work.

The same can be said of the work of Reinhard Selten, John Nash, and to an extent Janos Kornai. Later, a number of other theoreticians were also awarded the economics Nobel, leading to grumbling among the applied/ empirical crowd. Probably the series of Nobel's awarded to Milton Friedman and others later were a reaction to this criticism.

2. Left-wing v. Right-wing: In general, more Nobels have been awarded to quite-a-bit right-of-center economists, and hell has broken loose when one has been awarded to some one even an iota left-of-center. An example was Amartya Sen, who single-handedly revived the fascinating fields of economics of poverty and development.

Milton Friedman was awarded the prize in 1976 right after the controversy surrounding the 1975 award to Kantorovich.

I think economics Nobel's have generally tarnished the reputation of Nobels in general, but one feels good when some one like John Nash gets it. I was thrilled that Leonid Hurwicz got it this year, though I am not sure about Maskin and Myerson. With the latter two, it is way down hill from Selten, Nash, Harsanyi, Aumannn, Kantorovich, Arrow, Debreu, ...

So far as I know, one "accountant" has won the economics Nobel. It is Richard Stone, who worked in the area of national income accounting.

Incidentally, I stumbled upon a fascinating book titled "Against Mechanism: Protecting Economics from Science" By Philip Mirowski

One quote from the book:

"Contrary to popular misconceptions, I shall claim that economics needs protection from science, and especially from scientists such as Richard Feynman, or any other physicist who thinks he knows just what is needed for economists to clean up their act. Economics needs protection from the scientists in its midst, the Paul Samuelsons and the Tjalling Koopmans and all the others who took their training in the physical sciences and parlayed it into easy victories among their less technically inclined colleagues. And worst of all, economics needs protection from itself. For years, economics has enjoyed an impression of superiority over all the other "social sciences" in rigor, precision, and technical expertise. The reason it has been able to assume this mantle is that economics has consistently striven to be the nearest thing to social physics in the constellation of human knowledge."




A wonderful Message from George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much , and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! AND give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people....Who cares?

George Carlin

Satchel Paige was one of the best baseball pitchers of all time ---
These purportedly were his last words!

How to Stay Young

1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

4. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in Society. The social ramble ain't restful.

5. Avoid running at all times.

6. Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.


What You Can Do With Vodka?

01. To remove a bandage painlessly, saturate the bandage with vodka. The solvent dissolves the adhesive.

02. To clean the caulking around bathtubs and showers, fill a trigger-spray bottle with vodka, spray the caulking, let set five minutes and wash clean. The alcohol in the vodka kills mold and mildew.

03. To clean your eyeglasses, simply wipe the lenses with a soft, clean cloth dampened with vodka. The alcohol in the vodka cleans the glass and kills germs.

04. Prolong the life of razors by filling a cup with vodka and letting your safety razor blade soak in the alcohol after shaving. The vodka disinfects the blade and prevents rusting.

05. Spray vodka on vomit stains, scrub with a brush, then blot dry.

06. Using a cotton ball, apply vodka to your face as an astringent to cleanse the skin and tighten pores.

07. Add a jigger of vodka to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo. The alcohol cleanses the scalp, removes toxins from hair, and stimulates the growth of healthy hair.

08. Fill a sixteen-ounce trigger-spray bottle with vodka and spray bees or wasps to kill them.

09. Pour one-half cup vodka and one-half cup water in a Ziploc freezer bag, and freeze for a slushy, refreezable ice pack for aches, pain, or black eyes..

10. Fill a clean, used mayonnaise jar with freshly packed lavender flowers, fill the jar with vodka, seal the lid tightly and set in the sun for three days. Strain liquid through a coffee filter, then apply the tincture to aches and pains.

11. Make your own mouthwash by mixing nine tablespoons powered cinnamon with one cup vodka. Seal in an airtight container for two weeks. Strain through a coffee filter. Mix with warm water and rinse your mouth. Don't swallow.

12. Using a q-tip, apply vodka to a cold sore to help it dry out.

13. If a blister opens, pour vodka over the raw skin as a local anesthetic that also disinfects the exposed dermis.

14. To treat dandruff, mix one cup vodka with two teaspoons crushed rosemary, let sit for two days, strain through a coffee filter and massage into your scalp and let dry.

15. To treat an earache put a few drops of vodka in your ear. Let set for a few minutes. Then drain. The vodka will kill the bacteria that is causing pain in your ear.

16. To relieve a fever, use a washcloth to rub vodka on your chest and back as a liniment.

17. To cure foot odor, wash your feet with vodka.

18. Vodka will disinfect and alleviate a jellyfish sting.

19. To remove cigarette smoke in your home or office mix one part vodka and three parts water and spray the clothing, then launder and let dry.

20. Pour vodka over an area affected with poison ivy to remove the urushiol oil from your skin.

21. Swish a shot of vodka over an aching tooth. Allow your gums to absorb some of the alcohol to numb the pain.

After reading this, can you believe that some people drink the stuff?

Tidbits Archives ---

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

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In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

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National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

Moodle  --- 

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

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

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

Roles of a ListServ ---

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



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