"The race is not always to the richest," The Economist, December 6, 2007 ---

SPOOKED by the effects of globalisation on their low-skilled citizens, rich countries have been pouring money and political energy into education. In the United States, it has been proclaimed that no child will be left behind. Whether this programme, launched by George Bush in 2002, has raised standards will be a big issue in the 2008 presidential election. Next year Britain will introduce ambitious new qualifications, combining academic and vocational study. For the industrial countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), average spending on primary and secondary schooling rose by almost two-fifths in real terms between 1995 and 2004.

Oddly, this has had little measurable effect. The latest report from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment shows average attainment staying largely flat. This tome, just published, compares the reading, mathematical and scientific progress of 400,000 15-year-olds in the 30 OECD countries and 27 others, covering 87% of the world economy. Its predecessors in 2000 and 2003 focused on reading and maths respectively. This time science took centre stage.

At the top are some old stars: Finland as usual did best for all-round excellence, followed by South Korea (which did best in reading) and Hong Kong; Canada and Taiwan were strong but slightly patchier, followed by Australia and Japan. At the bottom, Mexico, still the weakest performer in the OECD, showed gains in maths; Chile did best in Latin America.

There is bad news for the United States: average performance was poor by world standards. Its schools serve strong students only moderately well, and do downright poorly with the large numbers of weak students. A quarter of 15-year-olds do not even reach basic levels of scientific competence (against an OECD average of a fifth). According to Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's head of education research, Americans are only now realising the scale of the task they face. Some individual states would welcome a separate assessment.

. . .

Letting schools run themselves seems to boost a country's position in this high-stakes international tournament: giving school principals the power to control budgets, set incentives and decide whom to hire and how much to pay them. Publishing school results helps, too. More important than either, though, are high-quality teachers: a common factor among all the best performers is that teachers are drawn from the top ranks of graduates.

Another common theme is that rising educational tides seem to lift all boats. In general—the United States and Britain may be exceptions—countries do well either by children of all abilities, or by none. Those where many do well are also those where few fall behind. A new feature in this year's study is an attempt to work out how differences between schools, as opposed to differences within them, determine performance (see chart). Variation between schools is big in Germany (to be expected, as most schools select children on ground of ability). But results also vary in some countries (like Japan) with nominally comprehensive systems. In top-performing Finland, by contrast, the differences between schools are nearly trivial.

Continued in article

"Let's Get Back to Education in Education," by Rick Fowler, The Irascible Professor, December 11, 2007 ---

Education gurus have advocated and public schools have incorporated many new trends aimed at increasing the rankings of U. S. students in many standardized tests given in countries around the world.  From the ideas of writing gurus Glasser and Collins, to portfolios to state guidelines; from literature-based to whole language reading programs; from mapping to thematic approach, from weighted grades to tracking.  However, many if not most of these "cutting edge" programs and quick fixes for educators and education too often end up on the cutting room floor.  These "recipes for success" have cost public schools literally millions of dollars since my first day as an English teacher almost 30 years ago.

Too often "keeping up with the Joneses" is taking precedent over the real problem of maintaining adequate basic education.  Case in point, President Bush and many other politicians seem to believe that the No Child Left Behind act is of utmost importance in improving the performance of our students.  Yet I liken his reasoning to an analogy recently posted on the web:

No Child Left Behind: The football version

1.  All teams must make the state playoffs, and all will win the championship by the year 2014.  If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.

2.  All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time and in the same conditions.  No exceptions will be made for interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities.  ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL.  

3.  Talented players will be asked to work out on their own without instruction.  This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren’t interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like football.

4.  Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th., 8th and 11th games.

5.  This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals.  If no child get ahead, then no child will be left behind.

I  cringe every time I read about a new educational savior or new educational tool which is introduced supposedly to bring the United States back to respectability in the global markets of learning.  I also think parents and taxpayers would cringe if they knew of the cost of bringing this expert or plan into the district, explaining its merits, and then failing to implement the program because of money restraints or because staff will not buy into it.

What is the matter with traditional methods?  I realize that the computer has been an asset in the classroom.  Yet, it also has led to the near demise of the personal letter, to little or no proofreading, and to a myriad of excuses on deadline day.  Kids are sometimes aghast when I ask them to hand in their rough drafts hand-written and in ink.  I sometimes require  research papers with the title page, body and works cited that must be completed on notebook paper in ink, and either printed or written by hand.  By the looks on their faces it's as if I had assigned the complete memorization of Hamlet's soliloquy, Antony's funeral speech and Shylock's dissertation at the trial to be due in an hour.

. . .

We need to have a complete turnabout as far as knowing what's best for the students in our public schools. Without this change of thought, the implications are indeed frightening.

Continued in the article



Tidbits on December 14, 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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 

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 http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

Bob Jensen's Threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

CPA Examination --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cpa_examination

You can read about Erika's surgeries and see her pictures at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Erika2007.htm
Personal pictures are at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/PictureHistory/
Some personal videos are at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/EdTech/Video/Personal/ 

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
Roles of Listservs and Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm

Free Internet FM Radio (choose the type of music you want to listen to without commercials) --- http://www.slacker.com/

Set up free conference calls at http://www.freeconference.com/
Also see http://www.yackpack.com/uc/   

World Clock --- http://www.peterussell.com/Odds/WorldClock.php

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  --- http://www.valour-it.blogspot.com/

New Blogs (at least new to me)

Rate Your Students (be prepared for four letter words and worse silliness) --- http://rateyourstudents.blogspot.com/
Perhaps this to counter RateMyProfessor --- http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/index.jsp
There is also a Professors Strike Back (largely silly videos) site at http://www.mtvu.com/professors_strike_back/ 

Other blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Blogs
Google's blog search tool is at http://blogsearch.google.com/
(For example, search "Student Examination" at the above Google site)
(Accountants may want to search for "Accounting" at the above Google site)
(More serious accountants may want to search "FAS 133" or "IAS 39" at the above Google site.)

Roles of Listservs and Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Forwarded by Team Carper
Beautiful America's Fifty States --- http://oldbluewebdesigns.com/mybeautifulamerica.htm

Oceanus (video and pictures) --- http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/index.do

NOVA: Pocahontas Revealed (from PBS) --- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pocahontas/

Forwarded by Tom in Alaska
Perfect Man and Woman (you must hit the continue buttons when they pop up) ---

Baby Boomers (Animation with music) --- Click Here

"Organic Chemistry for the YouTube Generation," PhysOrg, December 6, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news116181206.html
Video Link --- http://www.scivee.tv/node/3005

Freakonomics Being Documentary-ized --- http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/12/07/indie-spotlight-freakonomics-being-documentary-ized/

Joe Paterno Acceptance Speech (College Football Hall of Fame) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vhw_4SLDF0

Form National Geographic (U23D movie trailer) --- http://www.u23dmovie.com/

It’s one thing to imagine what Rome looked like in ancient times. It’s another thing to wander around a virtual-reality simulation of ancient Rome learning about buildings as you go by clicking on them. Sorin A. Matei, an associate professor of communication at Purdue University, is experimenting with various ways to blend databases with digital maps or 3-D models. I put together a short video report.
Jeffrey R. Young. Chronicle of Higher Education, December 7, 2007 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
I really liked this video illustration of virtual reality (which by now is a rather old but still computer-intensive technology). You may have to be a Chronicle subscriber to view this excellent video.

Ethel Merman & Martha Raye --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wKj59poDVc

God's Comics --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjywoElfISI

Mae West --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_West

W.C. Fields --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WC_Fields 

Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

While working on the computer, Bob Jensen mostly listens to (free and without commercials) --- http://www.slacker.com/

Songza Search for a song or band and play the selection free --- http://songza.com/ 
Also try  Jango --- http://www.jango.com/?r=342376581

Free Internet FM Radio (choose the type of music you want to listen to) --- http://www.slacker.com/
Although Slacker is free on your computer, Slacker also has players that will download FM radio via wireless connections.
Walter S. Mossberg provides a review in "Slacker Digital Player Handles the Drudgery For Busy Music Fans," The Wall Street Journal,  December 6, 2007; Page B1---

New from Jesse --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/

Forwarded by Team Carper
Beautiful America's Fifty States --- http://oldbluewebdesigns.com/mybeautifulamerica.htm

Dave Brubeck at the 50th Monterey Jazz Festival (entire concert) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16437373

Great Big Band and Jazz Combo Trumpet Players
Maynard Ferguson --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maynard_Ferguson
List of Other Trumpeters --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_trumpeters

Photographs and Art

75 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena --- http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/
Link forwarded by Beverly K.

Panoguide --- http://www.panoguide.com/gallery/

Songza Search for a song or band and play the selection free
Also try Jango --- http://www.jango.com/?r=342376581

Oceanus (video and pictures) --- http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/index.do

Cloudscapes --- http://cloudscapes.antville.org/

Nature Photographers --- http://www.naturephotographers.net/

E.J. Peiker, Nature Photography --- http://www.ejphoto.com/

Sutra Photos (they make you chuckle) --- http://photos.sutradirectory.com/clever-advertising/

Astronomy Picture of the Day --- http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050401.html

Symbols of Power: Napoleon And The Art of The Empire Styles, 1800-1815 --- http://www.mfa.org/napoleon/

Napoleonic Period Collection --- http://content.lib.washington.edu/napoleonweb/index.html 

Scottish Natural Heritage Information Service --- http://www.snh.org.uk/snhi/

Mapping The Pacific Coast --- http://www.mappingthepacificcoast.com/

Mike Skelton Photography (well sort of) --- http://www.skelton.biz/

Greg Martin Gallery --- http://gallery.artofgregmartin.com/

George W. Bush's Fondness for Bald Heads (and a Turkey or Two) --- http://www.satirium.com/pages/vol6/bushphotos.html

Other Humorous Photographs --- http://my.mmoabc.com/article/Michael/2132/Capturing-that-Special-Moment.html?login=no

Officials at Pennsylvania State University have apologized to Virginia Tech, and many students at both institutions are outraged by photographs showing that some Penn State students dressed up as Virginia Tech shooting victims for Halloween this year. The Centre Daily News reported. The photographs, which recently surfaced on Facebook, show the students with fake bloodied bullet holes and wearing Virginia Tech clothing. Penn State officials said that the students involved could not be punished without violating their free speech rights. The photographs are currently available on The Drudge Report here and here.
Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/12/10/qt


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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Internet FAQ Archives --- http://www.faqs.org/faqs/

A Glossary of Literary Criticism --- http://www.sil.org/~radneyr/humanities/litcrit/gloss.htm

From UC Davis University
British Women Romantic Poets (1789 - 1832) --- http://digital.lib.ucdavis.edu/projects/bwrp/

From Dartmouth College
Poems 1645 --- http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/contents/

Sonnet Central --- http://www.sonnets.org/

Random poems penned by Barbara Fletcher --- http://www.barbarafletcher.com/

The Archive of Misheard Lyrics --- http://www.kissthisguy.com/

From the University of Wisconsin
Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery --- http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/Literature/subcollections/RinglBeowulfAbout.shtml

The translation is intended for "oral delivery," that is, to be read or recited aloud. Accordingly this work includes an audio stream in which the translator provides a reading of his version of the poem. This reading is meant to model metrical and rhetorical features of the translation, not to lay down the law about how it should be "performed." It can be listened to uninterruptedly from start to finish--which takes about three hours--or it can be accessed at the beginning of any of the forty-three sections into which it is divided (and which correspond to the numbered sections of the surviving manuscript).

Rare Book Room --- http://www.rarebookroom.org/  
Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America --- http://www.abaa.org/books/abaa/index.html
Other Rare Book Sources --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#RareBooks

Best Books of 2007 --- http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10249833

The trouble with the gene pool is that there's no lifeguard.
As seen on the bottom of email messages from Paula.
Other possible endings: "no deep end," "no filter," "no disinfectant," and "no skimmer."

Christmas is cancelled! Apparently you told Santa you were good this year. He died laughing.
Forwarded by Paula

When I'm good I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better.
Mae West in I'm No Angel --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'm_No_Angel

Where does the violet tint end and the orange tint begin? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the first blending enter into the other. So with sanity and insanity.
Herman Melville as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-12-05-07.htm

Fifty Percent of Japanese Bestsellers Typed On a Cellphone --- http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/12/fifty-percent-o.html

When suicides are dredged from the Seine, it is said, the lovers and the debtors are easy to tell apart:  the lovers have paint under their nails, from trying to claw their way back to the bridge at the last moment, whereas the debtors sink like stones.
Bagehot, "Off With Their Heads," The Economist, December 1, 2007, Page 72.

Harvard Needs More Hippies
Some Harvard University alumni from the protest-era 1960s are concerned by the lack of protests today, and have written to President Drew Faust to express worry about “widespread apathy and political indifference” and to ask whether the university is not recruiting enough politically engaged students or encouraging such engagement, The Boston Globe reported. An editorial in The Harvard Crimson suggested that the alumni are too quick to equate student engagement with the use of tear gas. “We are doing just fine on our own,” the editorial concludes.
Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/12/10/qt

But this rise in (food) prices is also the self-inflicted result of America's reckless ethanol subsidies. This year biofuels will take a third of America's (record) maize harvest. That affects food markets directly:  fill up an SUV's fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year. And it affects them indirectly, as farmers switch to maize from other crops. The 30m tonnes of extra maize going to ethanol this year amounts to half the fall in the world's overall grain stocks.
"The End of Cheap Food," The Economist, December 8, 2007, Page 11. 

Higher incomes in India and China have made hundreds of millions of people rich enough to afford meat and other foods. In 1985 the average Chinese consumer ate 20kg (44lb) of meat a year; now he eats more than 50kg. China's appetite for meat may be nearing satiation, but other countries are following behind: in developing countries as a whole, consumption of cereals has been flat since 1980, but demand for meat has doubled. Not surprisingly, farmers are switching, too: they now feed about 200m-250m more tonnes of grain to their animals than they did 20 years ago. That increase alone accounts for a significant share of the world's total cereals crop. Calorie for calorie, you need more grain if you eat it transformed into meat than if you eat it as bread: it takes three kilograms of cereals to produce a kilo of pork, eight for a kilo of beef. So a shift in diet is multiplied many times over in the grain markets. Since the late 1980s an inexorable annual increase of 1-2% in the demand for feed grains has ratcheted up the overall demand for cereals and pushed up prices . . . Ethanol is the dominant reason for this year's increase in grain prices. It accounts for the rise in the price of maize because the federal government has in practice waded into the market to mop up about one-third of America's corn harvest. A big expansion of the ethanol programme in 2005 explains why maize prices started rising in the first place.
"Cheap No More," The Economist, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10250420

Intelligence vs. Politics
Israel has "incriminating" information Iran has continued its nuclear weapons program, a senior Israeli security official told WND, directly contradicting last week's U.S. intelligence report stating Tehran suspended its ambition in 2003. "The Iranians continue their push for nuclear weapons in specific ways, including the acquisition and development of missiles," said a senior Israeli security official who has access to classified Israeli defense material and intelligence reports on Iran. "Iran hides its nuclear weapons program but it continues nonetheless," he told WND, indicating the U.S. estimate may have been "politically motivated." The security official said Israel possesses "incriminating" information that Iran continues its purported drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
Aaron Klein, "Israel: Forget U.S. intel,:  Iran nukes at full speed Official cites 'incriminating information,' rips American report as 'politically charged'," WorldNetDaily, December 9, 2007 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59120

We wish we could be as sanguine, both about the quality of U.S. intelligence and its implications for U.S. diplomacy. For years, senior Administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice, have stressed to us how little the government knows about what goes on inside Iran. In 2005, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report underscored that "Across the board, the Intelligence Community knows disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous actors." And as our liberal friends used to remind us, you can never trust the CIA. (Only later did they figure out the agency was usually on their side.)
"'High Confidence' Games:  The CIA's flip-flop on Iran is hardly reassuring," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2007 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010946

The three authors of a National Intelligence Estimate seen as undermining the Bush administration's efforts to keep Iran from creating a nuclear weapon are all "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday in an editorial, citing an unidentified intelligence source. "As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of our spooks was that 'Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons' and do so 'despite its international obligations and international pressure.' This was a 'high confidence' judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 'in response to increasing international scrutiny.' This too is a 'high confidence' conclusion. One of the two conclusions is wrong, and casts considerable doubt on the entire process by which these 'estimates' — the consensus of 16 intelligence bureaucracies — are conducted and accorded gospel status," the newspaper said. "Our own 'confidence' is not heightened by the fact that the NIE's main authors include three former State Department officials with previous reputations as 'hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials,' according to an intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Greg Pierce, "Hyper-partisan," Washington Times, December 6, 2007 ---

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Wednesday used a four-letter expletive to dismiss the opposition victory in Sunday's referendum and pledged to press forward with plans to approve constitutional changes that would expand his power in one of the world's leading oil producing-countries. Chávez's remarks, made on television programs broadcast in Venezuela, represent a sharp turn from his magnanimous comments Monday after voters narrowly blocked 69 constitutional changes in a national vote. It was the opposition's first electoral victory since Chávez first won office in a landslide election in 1998.
Juan Forero, "Chávez Turns Bitter Over His Defeat in Referendum:  Foes of Amending Charter Have 'Nothing to Celebrate'," The Washington Post, December 6, 2007 --- Click Here

The president's drive to turn the armed forces into a tool of his socialist project aroused the weighty opposition of General Raúl Isaías Baduel, who stepped down as defence minister in July and who is a hero to the chavista grassroots for his role in restoring Mr Chávez after the 2002 coup. Installed in a sleek glass office block in Caracas, General Baduel, a man as serene as the president is intemperate, has spent the past few weeks telling Venezuelans that the proposed reform amounted to another coup. On top of that, many chavista politicians were unenthusiastic, since the reform would have let Mr Chávez run indefinitely for president but banned re-election for other posts. The chavista movement suffered “a top-to-bottom split, from state governors down to the grassroots”, said Ismael García, the leader of Podemos.
"The wind goes out of the revolution," The Economist, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.economist.com/world/la/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10251226

Although in some ways they threaten democracy, the likes of Mr. Chavez (Venezuela) and Mr. Morales (Bolivia) may well have ended up broadening it, since they represent groups who have previously felt excluded. Their mistake lies in clinging to an old-fashioned socialism, involving the centralisation of political power and state control of the economy. Most Venezuelans - and most Latin Americans - clearly have no enthusiasm for this. It was not so much Mr. Chavez who was defeated in the referendum, as his bankrupt philosophy. That is good news for Latin America, and especially for its poor.
"The Beginning of the End for Hugo Chavez," The Economist, December 8, 2007, Page 12. 
Also see "Rejecting Hugo" WSJ video at http://online.wsj.com/public/page/8_0004.html?bcpid=86195573&bclid=212338097&bctid=1338248568

When Abstention is a Vote Against
This is a preposterous claim, and no one is doing a better job of disproving it than Mr. Chávez himself. In the week since the vote, he has done nothing to conceal his appetite for vengeance and his determination to satisfy it. He has twice crudely referred to the opposition victory as excrement and he has even insulted his followers, who he says were "lazy and cowardly" for not turning out in greater numbers at the polls . . . Mr. Chávez denies that the military pressured him into accepting defeat. But he has not denied that he went to Fort Tiuna and met with the high military command. Mr. Lugo-Galicia reports that the president told the officers that until 100% of the votes were counted he would not recognize his defeat. "Tension is growing," Mr. Lugo-Galicia writes of that moment. The fort "is ordered closed and soldiers confined to their barracks. A general stands up, and after expressing respect for the commander in chief, warns that the Armed Forces will not go out to repress the population." If tallying the votes were to take four days, the general warns, there would be mayhem and "this country will not bear such days of agitation."
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "Showdown at Fort Tiuna," The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2007; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119724579402718787.html

Consider for example a bill which Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has introduced in the Congress. That bill, H.R. 750, includes an amnesty for millions of illegals which is far broader than previous ones. She would allow illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes of violence and sentenced to up to five years in prison to apply for amnesty (past amnesties have limited eligibility to criminals who have been sentenced ‘only’ up to one year’s imprisonment). Her bill would specifically allow states to prohibit state and local police from cooperating with federal government enforcement on immigration law. It would also repeal the current provision in federal law (Section 287g) which allows the Attorney General to enter into agreements with states and localities which deputizes their police to enforce immigration law.
Peter Gadiel, "Are You Ready for a ‘Violent Illegal Alien Criminal Empowerment Act’?" Family Security Matters, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/homeland.php?id=1385809 Jensen Question
How would you like to be a citizen who got five years without a chance of amnesty versus the illegal who also got five years for an identical crime and received amnesty? What an insult to crime victims when crimes are forgiven more for those entering this country illegally! These are not United Nations parking ticket crimes. These are crimes of violence. Sheila Jackson Lee is an African American Congress Woman who represents all but crime victims in the 18th Congressional District in Houston's inner city  --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Jackson_Lee

Germany's interior ministers announced Friday that they consider Scientology to be unconstitutional. They have asked the country's domestic intelligence agency to prepare a dossier on the organization's activities with a view to ban it next year.
Spiegel, December 7, 2007 --- http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0%2C1518%2C522052%2C00.html

Pretending bad loans aren't bad loans fixes nothing. Given the amazingly complex world of high finance—full of derivatives, hedges, and tranches—Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last week hit upon a stunningly simple plan to fix the nation's subprime mortgage mess: Lie. And don't just lie, but get everybody together and agree to lie, thereby making the lie become truth. The fiction Paulson and the major banks are promoting is that extending the low "teaser rates" initially offered to many subprime borrowers fundamentally will help them and—here is a big lie—transform them from bad loans to good. Put another way, if the problem of bad subprime mortgages was caused by delusion over lending risk, this latest solution enshrines delusion as the defining characteristic of the American banker—backed by a facile enabler in Uncle Sam and his trillions, of course.
Jeff Taylor
, Reason Magazine, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.reason.com/news/show/123782.html 

"Dissecting the Bailout Plan:  Why put the foundations of our economy at risk to help so few people?" by Alan Reynolds, The Wall Street Journal, December 10 2007 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119724608592918778.html

The only way to rescue our plug-hungry planet from catastrophic global warming is to embrace nuclear power, and fast. That's the argument of Gwyneth Cravens, a novelist, journalist and former nuke protester. Her new book, Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, is a passionate plea to understand, instead of fear, atomic power. In her book, Cravens is guided Dante-like through the entire life cycle of nuclear power -- from mining to production to waste disposal -- by one of the world's foremost experts on risk assessment and nuclear waste.
John Borland, "Former 'No Nukes' Protester: Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Power," Wired News, December 7, 2007 --- http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2007/12/nuclear_qa

Another thing Professor Dershowitz revealed tells us much about former President Jimmy Carter. It seems that when Carter appeared at Brandeis to plug his book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, he pledged to answer any questions that students e-mailed him afterward. Many took him up on the offer, and Carter did answer every question... except one. That one was this: Did you advise Yasser Arafat to reject the peace offer Israel made at Camp David, at the end of Clinton's term? According to Professor Dershowitz, some 15 students e-mailed that question, and they were the only students not to be answered.
Alan Dershowitz at the Hudson Institute, December 8, 2007 --- http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2007/12/019221.php
Jensen Comment
In fairness, the phrase "to plug his book" has overtones that are inappropriate. Carter at first did not want to accept the invitation to face students in America's main Jewish university since his book is highly critical of Israel. But there was media pressure to accept the invitation and Brandeis promised a polite audience. Refusing the invitation would've seemed cowardly. Carter did not accept to plug his book.

The guns of war have fallen silent for Hollywood. Studio executives, who could once count on Americans filling theaters for just about any war movie they produced, are finding this year's war flicks to be a bunch of duds. "Lions for Lambs," Robert Redford's case against the war in Afghanistan, is a flop. It stars Mr. Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise and may not make back its $35 million price tag. Brian De Palma's "Redacted" played to empty seats. Even "The War," Ken Burns's much-anticipated World War II documentary that aired on PBS in September, met a less-than-explosive reception. But Americans haven't lost their taste for war footage. They've just found a better place to see the type of war film they actually enjoy watching. Some of the hottest videos on YouTube are of actual battles that have taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is footage that often hasn't made its way onto the nightly news or CNN--although some of it has--but it's largely unadulterated film that shows American soldiers in action, bringing the full weight of American military might to bear against the enemy. And in most of these films, it's clear who the enemy is.
Brendan Miniter, "Not According to Script Hollywood gets shown up by pro-war YouTube videos and a didactic antiwar cat," The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2007 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/bminiter/?id=110010956

Some of the are amateur productions and others are professionally produced, such as two films that have drawn about 700,000 viewers each: "Insurgent Snipers vs. U.S. Marines," put together by the History Channel, and "Iraq Marine Battle Fallujah." In the latter, U.S. Marines are seen assaulting Fallujah. The film, just 4 1/2 minutes, plays to the tune of Dire Straits' 1985 hit "Brothers in Arms," and is a better tribute to the men who fight the nation's wars that anything Hollywood has put out since John Wayne's 1968 film "The Green Berets."

Another film, this one billing itself as "Iraq War (The Great Footage Ever!)," was posted in February and has already drawn more than 1.3 million viewers. It runs a little less than 10 minutes and features shots of U.S. military attack aircraft and U.S. Marines in Iraq. The Marines, who fill the final half of the film, are shown kicking in doors, burning photographs of Saddam Hussein, and blasting insurgents with seemingly every weapon in the U.S. arsenal. It's raw, upfront military aggression targeted at bad guys, interspersed with lighter moments of kicking soccer balls around with Iraqi children and training Iraqi soldiers. It too is compelling video.

Yet another film winning attention--"Battle on Haifa Street, Baghdad, Iraq"--was posted nine months ago and has been seen by more than 1.8 million viewers. In nearly three minutes of combat footage, viewers can watch a battle scene play out where American and Iraqi soldiers attack and appear to kill insurgents in urban Baghdad. Another short film--"U.S. Marines in Iraq Real Footage Warning Graphic"--plays to American rock music, runs just five minutes. It is an adrenaline rush all the way through and has been seen by some 1.1 million people.

"Rx for Health Care: Pain Health care is ultimately a political issue of making choices:  The present politics aims to hide the costs and skew the choices," by Robert J. Samuelson, Newsweek Magazine, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/73284

It is obvious to anyone that the patient is ill. But the physicians agree on little else: not the underlying cause, certainly not the appropriate course of treatment and least of all which among them is best qualified to administer it. As they argue, the patient just gets sicker. Health care, along with the economy in general, immigration and the whole alarming nexus of war, terror and security is, according to pretty much every poll, one of the issues that American voters consider most important. And next year, in both the primaries and the general election, it will have particular resonance. Iraq may even fade as an election subject, if the number of Americans killed in action continues to decline as a result of the “surge” of troops into the area around Baghdad. Meanwhile, uncertainties about the economy tend to feed through into a preoccupation with health care. A majority of Americans (around 54% last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Washington, DC, think-tank) get their tax-exempt health insurance through their employers, so losing a job often means losing cover. Even for those who remain in work, tightening market conditions are forcing employers to downgrade the insurance they offer . . . Voters think cost is a bigger problem than coverage. But none of the Republicans is stressing health to the same extent as the Democrats are. Maybe that is why our poll shows almost twice as many people prefer the Democrats on the issue.
"Arguing over the cure," The Economist, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10254622

"Mormon in America," by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2007 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119706422040017530.html

It is called his JFK speech, but in many ways JFK had it easier than Mr. Romney does now. The Catholic Church was the single biggest Christian denomination in America, representing 30% of the population (Mormons: 2%, six million). Americans who had never met a Catholic in 1920 had by 1960 fought side by side with them in World War II and sat with them in college under the GI bill. JFK had always signaled that he held his faith lightly, not with furrow-browed earnestness. He had one great question to answer: Would he let the Vatican control him? As if. And although some would vote against him because he was Catholic, some would vote for him for the same reason, and they lived in the cities and suburbs of the industrial states.

Mr. Romney gave the speech Thursday morning. How did he do?

Very, very well. He made himself some history. The words he said will likely have a real and positive impact on his fortunes. The speech's main and immediate achievement is that foes of his faith will now have to defend their thinking, in public. But what can they say to counter his high-minded arguments? "Mormons have cooties"?

Romney reintroduced himself to a distracted country -- Who is that handsome man saying those nice things? -- while defending principles we all, actually, hold close, and hold high.

His text was warmly cool. It covered a lot of ground briskly, in less than 25 minutes. His approach was calm, logical, with an emphasis on clarity. It wasn't blowhardy, and it wasn't fancy. The only groaner was, "We do not insist on a single strain of religion -- rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith." It is a great tragedy that there is no replacement for that signal phrase of the 1980s, "Gag me with a spoon."

Beyond that, the speech was marked by the simplicity that accompanies intellectual confidence.

At the start, Mr. Romney was nervous and rushed, his voice less full than usual. He settled down during the second applause, halfway though the text -- "No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths." From that moment he was himself.

He started with a full JFK: "I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith." No "authorities of my church" or any church, will "ever exert influence" on presidential decisions. "Their authority is theirs," within the province of the church, and it ends "where the affairs of the nation begin." "I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law." He pledged to serve "no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest." He will not disavow his religion. "My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs."

Bracingly: "Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it." Whatever our faith, the things we value -- equality, obligation, commitment to liberty -- unite us. In a passage his advisers debated over until the night before the speech, Mr. Romney declared: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind." He made the call. Why? I asked the aide. "Because it's what he thinks."

At the end, he told a story he had inserted just before Thanksgiving. During the dark days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, someone suggested the delegates pray. But there were objections: They all held different faiths. "Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot. And so together they prayed." At this point in Mr. Romney's speech, the roused audience stood and applauded, and the candidate looked moved.

There was one significant mistake in the speech. I do not know why Romney did not include nonbelievers in his moving portrait of the great American family. We were founded by believing Christians, but soon enough Jeremiah Johnson, and the old proud agnostic mountain men, and the village atheist, and the Brahmin doubter, were there, and they too are part of us, part of this wonderful thing we have. Why did Mr. Romney not do the obvious thing and include them? My guess: It would have been reported, and some idiots would have seen it and been offended that this Romney character likes to laud atheists. And he would have lost the idiot vote.

My feeling is we've bowed too far to the idiots. This is true in politics, journalism, and just about everything else.

While Mitt Romney's speech on his Mormon faith this morning played to evangelicals by describing the role way his religion should play in public policy, it was unlikely to sway social conservative voters uneasy with his socially liberal background. The speech was meant to address fears that he would take policy cues from Mormon church leaders, and that his religion is a cult that is unacceptable to Christian conservative voters. But many social conservative voters are less concerned with the specifics of the former Massachusetts governor's religious creed than his sympathetic record on abortion rights.
Daniel Nasaw, The Guardian, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections08/mittromney/story/0,,2223448,00.html
Jensen Comment
Romney claims he has the same stance on abortion as the GOP hero Ronald Reagan. How can jihad, taxation, health care, environment, and employment matter when we've Planned Parenthood at stake? Political analysts repeatedly tell us that candidates at the extremes on some issues have nearly a zero chance of becoming president of the U.S. at this time. Republicans who back an obsessed anti-abortion candidate might as well give the election to the Democratic Party. Democrats who back an obsessed pacifist might as well give the election to the Republican Party. If the evangelical favorite Mike Huckabee wins the GOP nomination, the chances 2008 Democratic Party victory will soar. Most of the other leading GOP candidates are realists who truly want the GOP to win rather view a sinking GOP ship as a moral victory against Planned Parenthood. The only chance Mike Huckabee would have in saving the GOP sinking vessel would be to have a true pacifist like Dennis Kucinich on the Democratic Party ticket. Things do not look at all well for Kucinich or GOP Cruise next year.

For each word you get right, FreeRice will donate 20 grains of rice to the U.N. to fight world hunger --- http://freerice.com/
Nearly 200 million grains of rice have been donated to date.

“What if just knowing what a word meant could help feed hungry people around the world? Well, at FreeRice it does . . . the totals have grown exponentially.” 
The Washington Post

Web game provides rice for hungry . . . FreeRice went online in early October and has now raised 1 billion grains of rice [by November 9].
BBC News

“Addictive, yes. But . . . each correct answer results in the donation of rice to help feed the hungry around the globe. Perhaps that qualifies the game as a good addiction . . . one with redeeming qualities, something that’s, oh, didactic and edifying.”
Kansas City Star

“People from all walks of life and from around the globe have written in to express their appreciation for the game . . . Secretaries admit to playing it during boring business meetings.”
Christian Science Monitor

Every grain of rice is essential in the fight against hunger . . . FreeRice really hits home how the Web can be harnessed to raise awareness and funds for the world’s number one emergency.
UN World Food Program


Paygo:  Nancy Pelosi's Fraud

"Democrats are committed to ending years of irresponsible budget policies that have produced historic deficits. Instead of compiling trillions of dollars of debt onto our children and grandchildren, we will restore pay-as-you-go budget discipline," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, December 12, 2006. Well, as Emily Littela, the half-witted Gilder Radner character on Saturday Night Live, would have put it: "Never mind." Last week Congressional Democrats formally renounced their ballyhooed budget pledge to offset any new tax cuts with other tax increases or spending cuts. We're delighted to see this false promise go, but there's a larger lesson in this failure for the tax and spending battles of 2008. Senate Democrats gave up on "paygo," as it's called, when they realized they lacked the votes to offset the $50.6 billion cost of protecting more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from getting whacked by the Alternative Minimum Tax this year. They've spent the year floating all kinds of tax increases to make up the difference. But in the end they passed an AMT relief bill without a penny to pay for it. Paygo is now pay gone.
"The Paygo Farce:  Democrats admit it was all a big confidence game," The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010970
Jensen Comment
In fairness, the problem was almost as bad with the GOP-led Congress under George W. Bush. Bush will go down as the biggest spendthrift president in history until (if?) the Democrats win the presidency in 2008. Then the bottom will fall out of any hope for a balanced budget.

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Whoppi's down on estate taxation
During a discussion of Republican Presidential candidates on ABC's "The View," which the comedian co-hosts, Ms. Goldberg said, "I'd like somebody to get rid of the death tax. That's what I want. I don't want to get taxed just because I died." The studio audience started applauding, but she wasn't done. "I just don't think it's right," she continued. "If I give something to my kid, I already paid the tax. Why should I have to pay it again because I died?" . . . Back in 2001, before President Bush signed estate tax reform into law, the death duty topped off at 55% on estates worth more than $3 million. Today the top federal rate is 45% with an exemption of $2 million, and under current law the rate falls to zero in 2010. In 2011, however, the death tax is resurrected, with the top rate restored to 55% and the exemption set at $1 million
"Death and Whoopi's Taxes," The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2007; Page A18 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119724552641918749.html 
Jensen Comment
Sorry Whoppi, a lot of rich folks do not pay any tax on income until they day due to the many (legal) tax avoidance schemes built into the tax code by their lobbyists. Death is the only way to tax this income. Of course assets passed from more than one generation may be double taxed with estate taxation. I think estate taxes are socially beneficial and recommend raising the bar to 95%. Let the heirs make their own way in life like most of us had to make our way. Of course the children may still get a huge break before death with gifts and expensive educations.

Leading Democrats Do Not Seem to Agree on Corporate Tax Rates
If you watch the constant stream of political advertisements in New Hampshire these days, all Democratic Party presidential candidates want to tax corporations harder but old Charlie, who really wields the power, thinks otherwise.

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on December 6, 2007

Review & Outlook: Corporate Tax War
The Awll Street Journal
by WSJ Opinion Page Editors
Dec 04, 2007
Page: A20
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com ---

TOPICS: Accounting, Personal Taxation, Tax Laws, Taxation

SUMMARY: This Fall, House Democrat Charlie Rangel proposed "...to cut the U.S. corporate income tax] rate to 30.5% from 35%." This WSJ opinion page article argues that, " As a new study makes clear, such a reduction would give a lift to the U.S. economy when it really needs it...[and concludes that] if America is going to remain the developed world's leading job creator and economic engine, corporate tax rates are going to have to fall -- and by more than even Mr. Rangel has suggested."

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Use this article to integrate political and economic issues into tax policy discussion.

1.) What entity prepared this report assessing the association between corporate income tax rates and economic performance? Why does this entity undertake such analyses?

2.) What measures were used to identify the relationships between corporate tax rates and economic health? In your answer, be sure to define statutory income tax rates and effective income rates and to identify specific measures of economic health.

3.) Summarize the main points of the discussion. With what political party typical supports this viewpoint?

4.) Is it surprising to you that a Democrat proposes to cut the corporate income tax rate? Explain your answer.

5.) How do personal income taxes also contribute to the issues discussed in this article?

6.) This opinion page piece clearly presents just one side of the debate on raising or lowering income tax rates. Identify one counter-argument to those presented in the piece.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

Democrats' Tax Measure Could Delay Energy Bill
by John J. Fialka
Dec 05, 2007
Page: A5

"Corporate Tax War," The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2007; Page A20

Word is that the Bush Administration will soon propose a cut in the U.S. corporate income tax, following House Democrat Charlie Rangel's proposal this fall to cut the rate to 30.5% from 35%. As a new study makes clear, such a reduction would give a lift to the U.S. economy when it really needs it.

The study, from the National Bureau of Economic Research, looked at corporate taxes in 85 countries from 1996 to 2005. Economists from the World Bank and Harvard University calculated the effective business tax rate for each country, because some nations have so many tax loopholes that the rate paid by companies can be one-half to one-third the statutory tax rate. The study found that corporate taxes have a statistically significant negative effect on economic performance.

High business taxes were found to reduce a nation's domestic capital investment, the amount of foreign investment into that country, and its overall growth in GDP. The authors conclude that "corporate taxation reduces the return on capital and thus discourages investment" and "reduces the cash flow of the firm" in such a way as to reduce the after-tax capital available for reinvestment.

The researchers also found that high corporate levies reduce entrepreneurship, which drives new industries and job growth. In many nations the corporate tax rate is paid both by large corporations and small businesses. In the U.S., small businesses are often organized under Subchapter S of the tax code and thus pay the personal income tax rate. However the tax is imposed, the study found, "a 10 percentage point rise in a nation's effective corporate tax rate causes a decline in the number of firms by 1.8 per 100 people (the average is 5 per 100 population)."

The clear implication is that raising the U.S. personal income tax rates would also stunt small business entrepreneurship. Yet this is precisely what all of the Democratic Presidential candidates, and even Mr. Rangel, propose. In Mr. Rangel's case, the benefits of his cut in the corporate tax for big business to 30% would be offset by the damage he'd do by raising the top marginal tax rate on individuals and small businesses to as high as 44%. The NBER research suggests this could discourage hundreds of thousands of small businesses from being formed in the next few years.

This study supports research earlier this year by economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, which found that high business taxes also result in lower wages for workers. The higher rate means less capital investment in making workers productive, which translates into smaller pay checks.

What American CEOs understand, but most in the media and political class so far refuse to acknowledge, is that the U.S. is far behind the rest of the world in reducing corporate tax rates. The U.S. corporate income tax rate is the world's second highest after Japan's among developed nations. Even Mr. Rangel's proposed reduction would leave the U.S. well above the OECD average of 25%. In recent years, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Poland and Singapore, among many other nations, have either cut or proposed to cut their business tax rates. These lower rates are attracting more investment and capital, and they pose a threat to America's economic competitiveness if Washington fails to act.

The NBER study is a reminder of how out-of-touch America's current political debate is with global economic trends. American politicians are proposing new barriers to trade, as well as new obstacles to capital formation, even as the rest of the world is welcoming more of both. The study is also a reminder that because workers don't see a tax does not mean that they don't feel its impact. If America is going to remain the developed world's leading job creator and economic engine, corporate tax rates are going to have to fall -- and by more than even Mr. Rangel has suggested.

You can read much more about corporate taxes at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Income_Tax

"The (Tax) War Between the States," by Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2007; Page A19 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119724619828518802.html

A record eight million Americans moved from one state to another last year. Where is everyone going, and why? The answer has little to do with climate: California has arguably the nicest climate of any state in the nation -- yet in this decade more Americans have left the Golden State than entered it. Migration patterns instead reveal which states have the most dynamic and desirable economies, and which are "has-been" states. The winners in this contest for the most valuable resource on the globe -- human capital -- are generally the states with the lowest tax, spending and regulatory burdens. The biggest losers are almost all congregated in the Northeast and Midwest. Liberals contend that tax rates, regulations, forced union laws and runaway government spending don't matter when it comes to creating jobs, high incomes and a higher quality of life. People tell us otherwise by voting with their feet.

The American Legislative Exchange Council has just released a study we've done that presents a 2007 Economic Competitiveness Rating of the 50 states, based on 16 economic policy variables, including taxes, regulation, right to work, the legal system, educational freedom and government debt. Over the past decade, the 10 states with the highest taxes and spending, and the most intrusive regulations, have half the population and job growth, and one-third slower growth in incomes, than the 10 most economically free states. In 2006 alone 1,500 people each day moved to the states with the highest economic competitiveness from the states with the lowest competitiveness.

Total State Tax Burdens
Tax Foundation Data --- http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/9.html
State-by-State Rankings in 2007 --- http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/9.html


When it comes to rankings with respect to per capita total taxation, there are more disputes as to what taxes to include and exclude. One listing of such taxes and results state by state as of January 2007 is at http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html

States are listed alphabetically in three sections:
Alabama-Iowa, Kansas-New Mexico, New York-Wyoming

Many people planning to retire use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement destination.  This is a serious miscalculation since higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax. The lack of a state income tax doesn’t necessarily ensure a low total tax burden.

States raise revenue in many ways including sales taxes, excise taxes, license taxes, income taxes, intangible taxes, property taxes, estate taxes and inheritance taxes.  Depending on where you live, you may end up paying all of them or just a few.

This section of our Web site provides you with information on state income taxes, sales and fuel taxes, taxes on retirement income, property taxes and inheritance and estate taxes. as well as sales and fuel taxes. It is intended to give you some insight into which states may offer a lower cost of living.  To check out the state where you want to retire,  just select from the state menu above.

State Sales Tax
All states except Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon, collect sales taxes.   Some have a single rate throughout the state though most permit local additions to the base tax rate. Those states with a single rate include Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

States with the highest sales tax are: California (7.25%), Mississippi (7.0%), New Jersey (7.0%), Tennessee (7.0%), Rhode Island (7.0%), Minnesota (6.5%), Nevada (6.5%), and Washington (6.5%).  Many cities and counties have the option of imposing an additional local option sales tax.  For instance, in Tennessee some cities add as much as 2.75%.  Nevada's sales tax varies by county and can be as high as 7.75%.

Most states exempt prescription drugs from sales taxes. Some also exempt food and clothing purchases and a few also exempt non-prescription drugs.

Fuel Tax
Every state collects excise taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel and gasohol. The figures shown for each state reflect only the amounts controlled by the states and do not include additional taxes imposed on motor carriers. However, they do include other taxes paid at the pump by consumers.  Where applicable they include sales taxes, gross receipts taxes, oil inspection fees, underground storage tank fees and other miscellaneous environmental fees. They do not include the federal excise tax which is 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel fuel.

Nine states permit cities or counties to impose a local tax on fuel. Taxes in some states can also vary based on the wholesale price which is adjusted quarterly.

Cigarette Tax
Several states are continuing to raise excise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products in order to increase revenue.  The rates shown do not include the federal cigarette tax of 39 cents a pack.  Chicago is the most expensive place to buy cigarettes.  When you add the city tax, the Cook County tax and the state tax, the total is $3.66 per pack.  Evanston and Cicero (Illinois) also have city and Cook county taxes.  The top five states with the highest state tax on cigarettes are: New Jersey ($2.58), Rhode Island ($2.46), Washington ($2.025), tied for fourth place are Arizona, Maine, Michigan ($2.00), and fifth is Alaska ($1.80).   Counties and cities may impose an additional tax ranging from 1 cent to $2.00 on a pack of cigarettes. About 82% of what consumers pay for a pack of cigarettes (average cost $4.26 - including statewide sales taxes but not local cigarette or sales taxes) ends up going to the government in taxes and other payments rather than for the cigarettes.

Personal Income Tax
A total of 41 states impose income taxes. New Hampshire and Tennessee apply it only to income from interest and dividends. Seven states (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming) do not tax personal income. Of the 41 with a broad-based income tax, 35 base the taxes on federal returns, typically taking a portion of what you pay the IRS or using your federal adjusted gross income or taxable income as the starting point.

Personal Exemptions and Standard Deductions
Most states specify amounts for taxpayers and each of their dependents that can be used as an offset in determining taxable income. Most also specify the amounts that persons 65 or older can deduct.

Medical/Dental Deductions
Most states treat health care expenses as having already been deducted from federal returns. Two states (North Dakota and Oregon) allow full deductions while Indiana does not permit itemized deductions on state taxes.

Federal Income Tax Deduction
Only 12 of the 41 states with broad-based income taxes permit taxpayers to deduct federal income taxes.  This is an advantage if you are deciding between two states with similar rate structures but only one allows you to deduct. The latter would give you a lower effective tax rate.

Retirement Income Taxes
Under federal law, taxpayers may be required to include a portion of their Social Security benefits in their taxable adjusted gross income (AGI).  Most states begin the calculation of state personal income tax liability with federal AGI, or federal taxable income.  In those states, the portion of Social Security benefits subject to personal income tax is subject to state personal income tax unless state law allows taxpayers to subtract the federally taxed portion of their benefits from their federal AGI in the computation of their state AGI.

Many states exclude Social Security retirement benefits from state income taxes.  The District of Columbia and 26 states with income taxes provide a full exclusion for Social Security benefits -- Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The remaining 15 states with broad-based income taxes tax Social Security to some extent:

  • Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia tax Social Security income to the extent it is taxed by the federal government.
  • Connecticut, Iowa, Montana and Wisconsin tax Social Security income above an income floor.  Iowa will gradually phase out its Social Security tax levy from 2008 through 2014.  Wisconsin will fully exclude Social Security beginning in tax year 2008.
  • Colorado, New Mexico and Utah require that federally untaxed Social Security benefits be added back to federal AGI to calculate the base against which their broad age-determined income exclusions apply.

States are prohibited from taxing benefits of U.S. military retirees if they exempt the pensions of state and local government retirees.  Most states that impose an income tax exempt at least part of pension income from taxable income.  Different types of pension income (private, military, federal civil service, and state or local government) are often treated differently for tax purposes.  

States are generally free from federal control in deciding how to tax pensions, but some limits apply.  State tax policy cannot discriminate against federal civil service pensions.  Ten states exclude all federal, state and local pension income from taxation.  These include Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and Pennsylvania.  Among these 10 states, only Kansas taxes any Social Security income, but only to the extent it is subject to federal taxation.  These 10 states differ on the taxation of retirement income from private-sector sources.  Kansas and Massachusetts do not exclude any private-sector retirement income, but most of the others allow a fairly broad exclusion.  Pennsylvania allows a full exclusion.  Alabama excludes income from defined benefit plans.  Hawaii excludes income from contributory plans.  Illinois and Mississippi exclude income from qualified retirement plans.  Louisiana, Michigan and New York cap the private-sector exclusion at $6,000, $34,920 and $20,000, respectively.

Five states (California, Connecticut, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Vermont) allow no exemptions or tax credits for pension and other retirement income that is counted in federal adjusted gross income.  Most in-state government pensions are taxed the same as out-of-state government pensions.  However, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, New York, and Oklahoma provide greater tax relief plans than they do for out-of-state government pension plans.  The District of Columbia also provides greater tax relief for DC government pensions than for state government pensions.

Three states (New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania) do not allow IRA contributions to be deducted from taxable income.  Of the three, only Pennsylvania does not tax IRA earnings of taxpayers age 59 ½ years or older, since earnings are treated like pension income, which is tax exempt.

Retired Military Pay
Some states provide special tax benefits to military retirees.  Others simply follow the federal tax rules.  The states that do not tax retired military pay are: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky*, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi*, Missouri*, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina*, Oregon*, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
(*With conditions)

Property Taxes
Taxes on land and the buildings on it are the biggest source of revenue for local governments.  They are not imposed by states but by the tens of thousands of cities, townships, counties, school districts and other assessing jurisdictions.

The state's role is to specify the maximum rate on the market value of the property, or a percentage of it, as the legal standard for the local assessors to follow.  The local assessor determines the value to be taxed. You can't escape property taxes in any state.  But you can find significantly low rates in certain parts of the country.

Most states give residents over a certain age a break on their property taxes.  With some taxes, you'll need a relatively low income to qualify.  Forty states provide either property tax credits or homestead exemptions that limit the value of assessed property subject to tax.

There may be other tax breaks available, depending on where you live.  All 50 states offer some type of property tax relief program, such as freezes that will lock in the assessed value of your property once you reach a certain age, or deferral of taxes until the homeowner moves or dies.  They ultimately have to be paid.  In addition, counties and municipalities often have their own property tax relief plans.

Retirees with low incomes and high housing costs may face property tax bills that are higher than they can manage.  Some states target property tax relief to those homeowners bearing the greatest burden.  Property tax reform that takes into account a homeowner's ability to pay, such as a so-called "property tax circuit breaker," can better protect low-income homeowners from rising property taxes that accompany rising property values.  Targeted property tax relief avoids sharp reductions in funding for locally provided public services and inequities based solely on date of purchase.

  • A property tax circuit breaker prevents property taxes from "overloading" a taxpayer. Under a typical circuit breaker, the state sets a maximum percentage of income that an eligible family can be expected to pay in property taxes. If property taxes exceed this limit, the state then provides a rebate or credit to the taxpayer.
  • Currently, of the 31 states and the District of Columbia with circuit breakers for homeowners, only six and the District of Columbia permit all households to participate in the program without regard to age.
Other property tax relief strategies that may be used to target property tax relief include homestead exemptions which exempt a certain amount of a home's value from taxation, credits to rebate a certain percentage of taxes paid, and deferral programs to allow low-income elderly homeowners to defer payment of property taxes until property is sold.

Property Tax Swaps
More and more states are cutting property taxes in exchange for increases in sales or other taxes.  Idaho, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas took this step in 2006.  In New Jersey the state increased the sales tax by 1 cent with half of it designated for property tax relief in 2006 and possibly the full amount in future years.  Voters in Idaho also approved a 1 cent sales tax increase that reduces property taxes by $260 million.  South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford, signed a measure that promises to cut average property taxes by 60% and makes up the revenue by increasing the sales tax by 1 cent.  The revenue will be used to support the Homestead Exemption Fund.  In Texas the state lowered property taxes by increasing the taxes on cigarettes and some business activity.

Best and Worst States: Based on data from the 2002 census, the following five states have the lowest local property taxes per capita/year. They are Arkansas ($191), Alabama ($285), Kentucky ($376), New Mexico ($380), and Oklahoma ($425). The states with the highest local property taxes per capita/year are: New Jersey ($1,871), Connecticut ($1,733), New York ($1,402), and Rhode Island ($1,369).

For more information about property taxes in all states, click here.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
An inheritance tax is an assessment made on the portion of an estate received by an individual. It differs from an estate tax which is a tax levied on an entire estate before it is distributed to individuals. It is strictly a state tax. Eleven states still collect an inheritance tax. They are: Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Connecticut will be phased out after 2005. In all states, transfers of assets to a spouse are exempt from the tax. In some states, transfers to children and close relatives are also exempt.

As for estate taxes, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) phases out the federal estate tax that culminates in full repeal in 2010. On a much faster track, the legislation repeals over four years -- 2002 through 2005 -- the federal estate tax credit to which state estate taxes are tied. In most states, estate and inheritance taxes are designed in such a way that states face either a full or partial loss of estate tax revenues as this credit is phased out. States can avert this loss of revenue by "decoupling." Decoupling means protecting the relevant parts of their tax code from the changes in the federal tax code, in most cases by remaining linked to federal law as it existed prior to the change.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have retained their estate taxes after the federal changes. Of these, 15 states -- Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin -- and the District of Columbia decoupled from the federal changes. Two states -- Nebraska and Washington -- retained their tax by enacting similar but separate estate taxes.

Of these, 12 states acted to decouple from the federal changes. Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont enacted legislation linking their estate taxes to the federal estate tax as in effect before the 2001 tax bill. Minnesota, which passes a tax conformity package each year, explicitly elected not to change its estate tax to conform to the federal changes. North Carolina elected to decouple at least through 2005, and Wisconsin has decoupled through 2007. Nebraska decoupled by creating a separate state estate tax on estates that exceed $1 million based on the federal law before the 2001 changes. In 2005, Washington enacted a separate tax with a somewhat different rate structure that applies to estates that exceed $2 million after the state's original decoupling was nullified in court.

In addition, five states and the District of Columbia will remain decoupled unless they take legislative action. In five states -- Kansas, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Virginia -- and the District of Columbia, estate tax laws are written in such a way that the state will not conform to the federal changes unless it takes legislative action.

Tax Burden By State
If all other things are equal, a state with a lower tax burden is a more attractive place to retire than a state with a higher one. To get a true sense of which state is less expensive, you need to look at state and local tax burdens. Only then do the low tax states stand out.

Taxes that are included in the state and local tax burden are as follows:

*Property Taxes (represents an average; individual property taxes vary by locality)
 *Sales and Gross Receipts (different taxing entities may add to the state sales tax)
*Selective Sales Taxes (alcoholic beverages, amusements, insurance premiums, motor fuels, parimutuels, public utilities, tobacco products, and others)
*Licenses (alcoholic beverages, amusements, corporation, hunting and fishing, motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, public utilities, occupation and business) *Other Taxes (individual income, corporation net income, death and gift, documentary and stock transfer, severance, and others)

The data presented on the linked page that follows shows states ranked by tax burden as a percentage of income. The taxes include those paid by individuals AND businesses to state and local governments. Businesses are included because they usually pass their tax costs on to consumers.

The top five states where the tax burden as a percent of income is the highest are: Vermont (14.1%), Maine (14.0%), New York (13.8%), Rhode Island (12.7%), and Ohio (12.4%).  The United States average is 11.06%.  The District of Columbia is 12.5%.

The five states with the lowest tax burden as a percent of income are: Alaska (6.6%) 50th, New Hampshire (8.0%) 49th, Tennessee (8.5%) 48th, Delaware (8.8%) 47th, and Alabama (8.8%) 46th.  Alaska has the lowest tax burden because it levies significant severance taxes on oil extracted from the state - taxes that are included in the price of oil sold thereby enabling Alaska to collect taxes that are paid by consumers across the country.  As a result, the state sends checks to all residents at tax time.

Other states that export a significant fraction of their severance tax burdens are Texas and New Mexico. States that "import" the largest portions of those taxes are California, Pennsylvania and New York.

Since 2000, five states have experienced double-digit drops in their tax burden rankings.  New Mexico has dropped 29 places, Idaho 23 places, and Utah 19 places.  Georgia and North Dakota have dropped 15 and 10 places, respectively.  New jersey has seen the highest increase since 2000, jumping from 24th place to 10th place.  Arkansas and Indiana have both risen 10 places.

The data supporting the tax burden figures comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It is the most authoritative source of income and total tax collection data. Its projections of the tax burden for 2007 come from data as yet unpublished.

To view a table showing the effective state and local tax burdens as a percentage of income, the tax burden per capita, and income per capita, click here. The table does not reflect the tax advantages available to seniors in many states and municipalities that reduce their property taxes and/or personal income taxes.

* Individual state tax and revenue departments
* State Tax Handbook (2007); published by CCH Inc.
* Federation of Tax Administrators 
* The Tax Foundation
* National Conference of State Legislatures
* U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Updated: January 2007

Tax Foundation Data --- http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/9.html

Rankings in 2007 --- http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/9.html

Denmark is the home of "flexicurity," the catchy name given to a system that pays ample unemployment and welfare benefits but, unusually in Europe, imposes almost no restrictions on hiring and firing by employers. The mixture has served Denmark well, and its economy barreled ahead in 2006 by 3.5 percent, one of the best performances in western Europe. The country is effectively at full employment. But success has given rise to an anxious search for talent among Danish companies, and focused attention on émigrés like Sorensen. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is based in Paris, projects that Denmark's growth rate will fall to an annual rate of slightly more than 1 percent for the five years beginning in 2009, reflecting a dwindling supply of a vital input for any economy: labor. The problem, employers and economists believe, has a lot to do with the 63 percent marginal tax rate paid by top earners in Denmark - a level that hits anyone making more than 360,000 Danish kroner, or about $70,000. That same tax rate underpins such effective income redistribution that Denmark is the most nearly equal society in the world, in that wealth is more evenly spread than anywhere else.
Carter Dougherty, "High income taxes in Denmark worsen a labor shortage," International Herald Tribune, December 5, 2007 --- http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/05/business/labor.php

From the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
"The Anatomy of Financial Crises: Understanding Their Causes and Consequences," Knowledge@Wharton, December 6, 2007 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1856
This is a great summary of the history of financial crises.

To understand the most recent financial crises, see the video (animation) --- http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c2c12708-6d10-11dc-ab19-0000779fd2ac.html

Before reading this module, please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn

The New LinkedIn Platform Shows Facebook How It's Done
A social network showdown is coming. LinkedIn, which aims to track your business and professional connections, has rolled out a new developer platform and already the majority of the web press is comparing LinkedIn's efforts Facebook's platform. It's a fair comparison, but there's one key difference between the two — LinkedIn's platform is actually useful. Where Facebook’s platform provides a proprietary programming language for developers to build applications that run inside the site (so you can send you friends a fresh pair of virtual diapers or whatever), LinkedIn has created a platform in the sense of what the word used to mean — a way of mixing, mashing, repurposing and sharing your data. Think Flickr, not Facebook. The LinkedIn platform, known as the LinkedIn Intelligent Application Platform, consists of two parts, a way for developers to build application that run inside your LinkedIn account (via OpenSocial) and the far more useful and interesting part — ways to pull your LinkedIn data out and use it elsewhere . . . As an example of the second half of LinkedIn’s new platform, the company has announced a partnership with Business Week which will see LinkedIn data pulled into the Business Week site. For instance, if you land on a Business Week article about IBM, the site will then look at your LinkedIn profile (assuming you’ve given it permission to do so) and highlight the people you know at IBM. Call it six degrees of Business Week, but it does something Facebook has yet to do — it connects your data with the larger web.With Beacon having recently blown up in Facebook’s face — something that’s become a trend for the site, violate privacy, weather user backlash, violate privacy, weather user backlash, violate privacy, weather user backlash — LinkedIn’s new platform couldn’t come at a better time. Frankly, it reminds us of the good old days when the data you stored on websites was actually yours and you could pull it out and do interesting things with it.
Scott Gilbertson, Wired News, December 10, 2007 --- http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/12/the-new-linkedi.html

The LinkedIn homepage is at https://www.linkedin.com/?trk=linkedin1&gclid=CKX8nJqHnpACFSUMIgod43-Sqw
Relative to Facebook, LinkedIn has better technology in terms of span and virus risks.

Despite the opportunity to grow from its college campus roots, into a hipper more organic version of LinkedIn, there are a number of reasons why Facebook is unlikely to ever replace my own use of the “professional” networking site — not least of which is the usability chaos that has been created by the Facebook platform. (Also add the lack of data export.). By allowing all and any third-party developers to create Facebook applications, the site has become a playground for all sorts of useless, but arguably fun, features, and well as a few useful ones. The problem is the spammy or viral nature in which these applications replicate themselves onto someone’s Facebook profile. At the weekend I visited a friend’s Facebook profile to leave a happy birthday message on their wall. Five minutes later, and I was still trying to fathom which “wall” to leave it on, as they’d installed multiple third-party “walls”. Worse still, if I picked any wall except the default one (which I couldn’t find), I was required to add that application to my own profile first, or at least give it permission to access my data, before I could leave a message. The same process is required to interact with almost any third-party application — you must install it first or accept its terms and conditions.
Steve O'Hear, "Facebook vs LinkedIn (round three)," ZDnet, October 15, 2007 --- http://blogs.zdnet.com/social/?p=334

December 10, 2007 --- Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]

Bob and others:

Linkedin has been an unwitting accomplice in some very elaborate phishing schemes. By revealing professional titles, interests other personal data, scammers have been able to craft some very elaborate phishing schemes aimed at senior-level company executives.

Richard J. Campbell
School of Business
218 N. College Ave.
University of Rio Grande
Rio Grande, OH 45674


Economics definition of an externality (or non-convexity for the mathematically inclined) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality

What is an externality of the current writers' strike in Hollywood?

There will be a resulting baby boom across the U.S. next year. The reason is the shutting off of late-night talk shows on television. No kidding, there are generally localized baby booms following power outages.

Linking Research and Teaching in History: Case Studies --- http://www.hca.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/case_Studies/snas/index.php

Linking Research and Teaching in History For academic historians the link between research and teaching is regarded as an integral part of the provision of a high-quality history education: vital to teachers and students and to the ongoing health of the discipline.

These resources have been compiled as part of a Higher Education Academy project on linking teaching and research in the disciplines. The project's aim is to provide case-studies of existing practice alongside a review essay considering the nature of the research-teaching relationship in each discipline. Whilst the resources are intended in the first instance for new members of academic staff, they will be of interest to anyone who wishes to reflect on the research-teaching nexus in History and the ways in which academic historians have translated this in the context of their teaching.

Our Subject Centre is very keen to build upon this collection of case-studies. We would welcome further contributions so that we can create a resource for our community that reflects the importance of this topic and the wealth of experience that historians have in linking their research and teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Jensen Comment
The above site may be of interest to the accounting academy for a number of reasons:

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory.htm

Internet FAQ Archives --- http://www.faqs.org/faqs/

How Internet Stuff Works --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm#Web

Why do some of our very top college graduates in the nation fail to achieve greatness in their chosen professions like public accounting and law?

I think some of the answers below can be extrapolated into other professions. I especially like the answer of Bob Boyles below. Success in life is a function of being in an environment for excellence, where interactive externalities like colleagues and resources and serendipity play enormous roles. I also like Dan Jenkin's answer. Soaring to the top in college is not exactly like soaring to the top in real life. Professors like me, however, are somewhat different since we've had very few adventures in the real world.

"Heisman Is No Key to NFL Glory:  Why do so few winners make it in the pros?" by Allen Berra, The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2007 ---  http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110010951

University of Florida sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow is the odds-on favorite to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy this Saturday as the nation's outstanding college football player. Since the colleges serve as a farm system for the National Football League and Mr. Tebow is the best player in college, he should be a cinch to make it in the pros, right?

Not according to history. In the modern era of the NFL, only a handful of Heisman Trophy winners have enjoyed genuine success in the pro ranks. Consider the following:

• In the past half-century, scarcely one in five Heisman winners has become a major pro-football star. Of the past 50, only four--O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders--have gone on to be voted the NFL Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press.

• Only seven of the past 50 Heisman Trophy winners--Roger Staubach, Mike Garrett, Jim Plunkett, Tony Dorsett, George Rogers, Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard--have been starters on Super Bowl-winning teams.

• Three of the past seven Heisman winners--Chris Weinke (2000), Eric Crouch (2001) and Jason White (2003)--are no longer even playing with the NFL. Last year's winner, Troy Smith, who won by the widest margin of any player in Heisman history, is on the roster of the Baltimore Ravens this season but has not yet thrown a pass.

• The last Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to win a Super Bowl ring was Jim Plunkett in 1981, playing for the Oakland Raiders.

Some feel the reason Heisman winners seldom make it in the pros is simple: The voters didn't pick the best player in the first place. For instance, Jim Brown, by consensus the greatest running back in NFL history, was a three-time league MVP but didn't win the Heisman in college. Neither did such all-time greats as Johnny Unitas, Fran Tarkenton, Walter Payton, Lawrence Taylor, John Elway, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Prospectus thinks that the failure of most Heisman winners to make it in the pros can be attributed to some basic differences between the college and pro games. "In college football, there's so many different schemes, from the option to the run and shoot, that an incomplete football player can thrive in the right college system. The right college offense can hide a player's flaws, but in the NFL those flaws will be exposed."

Bill Walsh, a college coach for Stanford University and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, felt it was often a question of maturity. "Joe Montana won four Super Bowls for us," he told me in a 2003 interview, four years before his death, "but I don't know that he was really the best quarterback in the country coming out of college. I thought he had the potential to become the best."

But many top college players, including some recent Heisman winners, don't have the luck to be drafted by teams that can give them a fair chance to develop. "Football," says Bob Boyles, author of "Fifty Years of College Football," "is the ultimate team-oriented game where a quarterback can't become a star passer without receivers streaking into the open and catching the ball while unsung linemen mount great pass protection."

An example, says Mr. Boyles, is Matt Leinart, the University of Southern California's 2004 Heisman winner, who was considered a can't-miss prospect when he was drafted by Arizona. The difference in the talent level between the USC Trojans and the Arizona Cardinals must have come as a shock to Mr. Leinart. In college he was surrounded by All-American caliber linemen and playing the same backfield with such pro prospects as running backs LenDale White (now with the Tennessee Titans) and Reggie Bush (himself a Heisman winner, now with the New Orleans Saints). At Arizona, Mr. Leinart's supporting cast has been far less imposing; quarterbacking for the Cardinals, Mr. Boyles notes, Mr. Leinart "is sometimes hit more times in a single game than he was in an entire season at Southern Cal." (This season he has been on the injured reserve list since Oct. 10.)

Reggie Bush is experiencing a similar fate with the New Orleans Saints. In 2005, at USC, Mr. Bush had what is regarded as one of the most remarkable seasons in college football history, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. So far in two years with the Saints he has averaged just 3.7. (After 12 games, the Saints are just 5-7.)

Then there are some Heisman winners who perform well despite the teams they're drafted onto but don't get the recognition they deserve. Mr. Walsh noted that Tim Brown, the 1987 Trophy winner, "played 16 years for a Raiders team which only won a dozen games more than they lost. Yet he's second on the all-time list for receiving yards. If he'd have been lucky enough to be drafted by a team with great passers like Joe Montana and Steve Young, who's to say he couldn't have surpassed Jerry Rice [the all-time leader]?" For some students of the college game, though, the question of why Heisman winners don't have much success in the pros is beside the point. Let's give the final word to legendary college-football writer Dan Jenkins, who says: "The Heisman shouldn't have anything to do with the NFL. It should be awarded strictly on a guy's performance as a collegian. It's not like a player should have to justify his Heisman by becoming a pro star."

December 9 added comments by Bob Jensen

I have an added thought on this with respect to some of the top faculty prospects from accountancy doctoral programs. Over the course of my 40 years as an accounting professor in four universities, I’ve encountered a number of “Heisman-type” PhD graduates who failed in the “Accounting Research NFL.” After being hired at some of the highest starting salaries in academe and receiving research incentives such as reduced teaching loads, summer research stipends, research expense stipends, and other benefits, some of these Heismans just frittered their research life away. Several come explicitly to mind. One was a former undergraduate student who went on to become one of Stanford’s top doctoral graduates with exceptional mathematics abilities. Three others were some of best Stanford graduates that I got to know when I returned to the Stanford campus for two years in a think tank. And there have been others whom thesis supervisors have privately complained about to me over the years. There have also been some who were my colleagues on the faculty.

In some cases, I’m convinced that the tenure system has been dysfunctional. I know of personal instances where the graduate wrote an excellent thesis that by itself was the source of a few publications in top accounting research journals. These assistant professors got just enough of a publication record (mostly on the basis of their one bit of thesis research) to get tenure and promotion to assistant professorships. The poop! They became lifetime associate professors or maybe, later in life, took on administration jobs to help get them promoted to full professorships. But their publication records after getting tenure remained dismal. Or, in some cases, a benevolent hotshot researcher gave them a small job in a joint research effort that got their names on occasional papers for which their contributions were marginal. In several instances, the benevolent hotshot researchers were friends who actually felt sorry for the Heisman failures and were just trying to help them get promoted to associate or full professor ranks.

For the most part these promising Heisman winners who wiggled out of research effort (other than maybe pretense) have let their employers and their colleagues down. They’re sometimes performing only teaching duties that low-paid adjuncts could do as well or better.

In several instances, these Heisman failures became rather wealthy because senior authors gave them opportunities to work on successful textbook revisions. Revision of textbooks can be hard work and very time consuming. But it’s generally not the same pressured effort of trying to conduct research worthy of publication in top journals. And they’re exceptional research skills are being wasted.

This begs the question of what these Heisman “failures” did with their time that perhaps would have been better spent on research. One instance that I can think of became a really outstanding “open door” teacher of intermediate accounting. This person’s success at educating students is noteworthy and probably should not be faulted other than that his exceptional research skills are being wasted. But his professional time is not being wasted.

Interestingly, two of the Heisman failures became obsessed both with marathon running and nurturing their children. They should get Heisman trophies for their efforts in both of these endeavors and the sixty hours or more each week devoted to these successful activities. But in the meantime the universities that pay them full salaries are getting short-shrifted.

One of my Heisman failures went on to become a rather good teacher in a prestigious European MBA program. He truly enjoys the continental life and is making a worthy professional contribution. But his publication record is a zero, and his exceptional research skills are being wasted.

Another one of these Heisman failures devotes almost all of his time outside of class to his music and his hobbies connected with music. He is quite good at what he now does, but once again his noteworthy accounting research skills are being wasted. Another one buys and sells antiques. Another one became a part-time farmer.

As far as Heisman accounting research failures go, I blame the tenure system more than anything else. Unlike real world occupations, the tenure system affords some Heisman winners the opportunity to pursue personal interests to excess without fear of being fired, demoted, or even having salaries cut. Inflation may take its toll over the course of thirty or more years, but inflation losses can be made up with spousal income, inheritances/investment income, hobby income (including antique dealing and farming), and textbook royalties.

How many tenured faculty do you know who are now “beating the system?”

Bob Jensen

December 9, 2007 reply from Henry Collier [henrycollier@aapt.net.au]

Rather than openly disagree with you in your excellent forum, I’ll take this opportunity to raise a few issues with your posting included below. In re the football analogy, perhaps few top university footballers succeed in the professional ranks because of the general overall quality of the players. As one moves through the system, from ‘kiddie’ leagues to schools, to university, and eventually to professional teams the pyramid effects take shape. There are fewer openings and chances for players to succeed as they climb the pyramid. Only the best of the best appear to get ‘hired’ into the pros. As you and others have noted, the overall quality of players is far better in fewer teams in the pros. Football is, after all, a team sport and one single standout player cannot, by himself, create a winner. Also given that the supposedly BEST college players are assigned / drafted to the ‘worst’ teams may well have something to do with the top players lack of success … the old ‘it’s difficult to soar with eagles when one is surrounded by turkeys’ may obtain here.

All that aside, and probably irrelevant to what I’m about to write about the ‘quality’ of graduates, is the question of what role does ‘accounting research’ play in universities, the ‘real world’ (whatever that is) and / or the profession of accounting. There appears to be a notable lack of affect or effect of accounting research on accounting practice. It would also seem to me that if we had something to contribute as researchers, then the profession and the regulators would fall all over themselves in following the guidelines and the theories established through research.

I’m of the long held view that universities exist to educate students. Now that can take many forms … one idea that I like is that universities generate human capital for the future. I do return to the 1968 BKV paper discussing the ideas of predictive ability for accounting. Seems to me that we haven’t been very good at doing that … although there is some limited support for the complex mathematical finance models predicting share prices. Again, all that said, is that what accounting is supposed to do for the world? I don’t think so. Surely we have to consider both stewardship and predictive ability / forecasting in our disciplines. I’m not so sure that we’re very good at either …

It’s not clear to me that teaching and service to the students has much value in the university. Maybe it’s driven by the sciences models of empirical research. I’m not completely convinced that our accounting research or our accounting education has much to do with how a decision maker might USE accounting information. It seems to me that we spend a considerable amount of time teaching rules and ways to conform to GAAP or IFRS rather then discussing and evaluating what affects these different sets of rules have on the DM process.

Our professoriate seems to want to do things at the top of Bloom’s (or Gagne’s) taxonomy … we want to have our students analyse, synthesize and evaluate (and perhaps be creative) without bothering with knowledge, comprehension and application. Sure, maybe I’m arguing against my self here, but I think that I recognize the inconsistency of trying to evaluate ‘stuff’ without having any foundation for evaluation. Most of the time, again IMO, we ignore the fundamental assumptions of accounting … the principles if you will … in our evaluations. Some of the 1920’s and 1930’s accounting ‘theoriests’ of the time did recognize that the assumptions that were made about accounting and external reporting were critical to how f/s could be used for DM … it would seem to me that we currently ignore these caveats of assumptions in principles and do convenient work-arounds to ignore the problems of these assumptions.

Most of the professoriate knows very little about the processes of education. And with today’s move in accounting PhD programs, many of the new graduates appear to know precious little about accounting, reporting, or how the ‘common folk’ might use any accounting information for decision making beyond applications for share trading and speculation in the markets.

I suspect that much of what passes for ‘accounting research’ doesn’t actually have much (or even worse anything) to do with the art/sciences of accounting. With the intransitivity in accounting measures and the inconsistencies in financial reporting (let alone the choices in reporting) we may be trying to do too much without having any clear framework of what it is that we’re on about. (Which you may say is a flaw in this note).

There are many in our chosen profession who believe that the benefits to be derived from doing research are considerably less than the benefits. I am firmly convinced that Australian universities are now spending more money controlling and administering commerce research than they are spending actually DOING research. UOW takes roughly 1/3 off the top of any grants … and the reporting process is onerous and completely out of control. Once the university gets the cash, it’s theirs … and they don’t want to let it go either. UOW, and the Australian university system has a very complex system of administering research … every time you turn around, there is another administrator demanding another piece of paper, another report, another reconciliation … and they all suck up HUGE amounts of resources. They contribute absolutely nothing to the processes and do little to create a climate where ‘researchers’ can devote time and energy to pushing the envelope. I am of the view that if they simply went down the list and sacked 2 out of 3 on the administration list, we’d all be better off .. maybe 3 our of 4 would have better outcomes. But then it’s probably an understatement to say the it’s fortunate that we don’t get all the administration we pay for.

That’s part of the reason that I stepped out when I could. I still do more of what I want to do, and with far less hassle.

Sorry for the rambling, but as I have said for many years, I wrote a long note because I’m too conflicted to write a short one …

All the best to you and yours … I wish you the best for the holidays and hope that you find peace and contentment in your life and in your retirement. I want to thank you for putting all these things together for us … you make me think and your posts challenge me in so many ways.


Does a loon appear on a Loonie coin? --- http://www.snopes.com/business/money/loonie.asp
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loonie

How many nations have dollar bills? --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollar_Bill

History of the shrinking U.S. dollar bill --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_one-dollar_bill

I'm fascinating by the following research, because it illustrates how torn we become when comparing our nurturing learning (i.e., learn from our environment) versus our higher-ordered reasoning skills.

"Humans Appear Hardwired To Learn By 'Over-Imitation'," Science Daily, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071205102433.htm

Learning by imitation occurs from the simplest preverbal communication to the most complex adult expertise. It is the basis for much of our success as a species, but the benefits are less clear in instances of "over-imitation," where children copy behavior that is not needed, Lyons said.

It has been theorized that children over-imitate just to fit in, or out of habit. The Yale team found in this study that children follow the adults' steps faithfully to the point where they actually change their mind about how an object functions.

The study included three-to-five-year-old children who engaged in a series of exercises. In one exercise, the children could see a dinosaur toy through a clear plastic box. The researcher used a sequence of irrelevant and relevant actions to retrieve the toy, such as tapping the lid of the jar with a feather before unscrewing the lid.

The children then were asked which actions were silly and which were not. They were praised when they pinpointed the actions that had no value in retrieving the toy. The idea was to teach the children that the adult was unreliable and that they should ignore his unnecessary actions.

Later the children watched adults retrieve a toy turtle from a box using needless steps. When asked to do the task themselves, the children over-imitated, despite their prior training to ignore irrelevant actions by the adults.

"What of all of this means," Lyons said, "is that children's ability to imitate can actually lead to confusion when they see an adult doing something in a disorganized or inefficient way. Watching an adult doing something wrong can make it much harder for kids to do it right."

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: online publication week of December 3, 2007 (doi/10.1073/pnas.0704452104)


Yahoo spruces up Flickr photo-sharing service with free editing program
Yahoo Inc. is touching up its popular online photo-sharing service, Flickr, with free editing tools aimed at the growing number of shutterbugs who want to doctor their digital pictures. The editing software, expected to be introduced late Tuesday in a partnership with Picnik Inc., represents Yahoo's latest attempt to broaden Flickr's appeal as the Sunnyvale-based company closes its older Yahoo Photos service. ''We think this is going to be very attractive to mainstream users who aren't necessarily great photographers,'' said Kakul Srivastava, Flickr's senior director of product management.
MIT's Technology Review, December 4, 2007 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Wire/19821/?nlid=734

"Web 2.0 Winners and Losers," Wired News, September 20, 2006 ---

A few weeks ago, I implored readers of the Monkey Bites blog to sumbit their votes for the best and worst Web 2.0 sites out there.

I asked them to build a list of their own can't-live-without-it and oh-please-make-it-stop destinations. After tallying up the votes from our readers, I posted the people's choice list on Monkey Bites blog. With their picks in mind, I set out to build my own roster.

There are plenty of good ideas in the Web 2.0 world, and an even greater number of bad ones. In the interest of brevity, I've chosen five sites from each category. The web services industry certainly has more than five winners and five losers, so we've only highlighted the exemplars.

I visited the very top of the iceberg and descended all the way down into the depths of suckitude to compile this list. Enjoy the results.

First, the Winners.

Flickr A picture is worth 1,000 tags.

I've known for a long time that if you want to demonstrate what tagging is all about to somebody who's new to Web 2.0, just send them to Flickr. The photo-sharing site has the best application of semantic categorization on the web. This is because they ask a question that invites creativity: What words would you use to describe a photo? The setup also makes searching the site a breeze.

Other things Flickr gets right: enhancing the community through pools, clusters and groups; options to preserve rights through Creative Commons; free and pro accounts; the open API. Odeo Listen up.

When podcasting arrived, everyone wanted in on the game. All you needed to get started was a microphone, some audio editing software, a web server, knowledge of peak limiting, compression, EQ techniques ... Ouch. Then Odeo breezed in and de-mystified the podcast.

Odeo allows users to record and share audio using simple, browser-based tools. A browser with Flash installed, an internet connection and a microphone are all you need to start podcasting. The site has tools for sharing and managing audio feeds, an extensive podcast directory and a contact manager that facilitates sharing audio between friends. The company even offers a component that gives mobile users the ability to record a podcast from their mobile phone. Writely Who needs MS Word?

The big, groundbreaking idea behind Web 2.0 is that the web should and will take over application hosting duties from the desktop. In other words, all of your documents, contacts, lists, e-mails and -- most importantly -- your office productivity tools live on the internet. They're all available no matter where you are or whose computer you're using.

Writely is a word processor that runs in the browser. It offers everything you'd expect from a word processor, including spell check, extensive formatting capability and support for dropping in images. Writely also makes it easy to collaborate with others. Your colleagues can log in and edit a document you started. Users can also collaborate over e-mail, and then publish the results to a blog when they're done. And, yep, it's free. del.icio.us Where'd I put that link?

Without del.icio.us, I'd be drowning in a morass of bookmark clutter. Seriously, drowning. Every article I've saved for later, every YouTube video I've earmarked for repeat viewing, every cache of free MP3s, every (ahem) NSFW page I come across. It all gets posted to del.icio.us. It's truly a lifesaver.

Del.icio.us takes a while to catch on with some people (what is "social bookmark sharing" anyway?) but once they get the hang of it, they're hooked. One-click posting from the browser bookmark bar, the ability to peek at what your friends are reading and the crazy stuff you find by running tag searches all add up to a truly useful web app. Not to mention the API that gives you RSS feeds, blog posting functionality and import/export capability between del.icio.us and your browser. I'll never lose a webpage again.

NetVibes Start here.

Remember start pages? Those portal-riffic pages that displayed local weather, news, daily horoscopes and sports scores were last seen in vast numbers circa 1999. But with the explosion of RSS and Ajax, a smarter breed of start page has emerged -- and the king of the hill is NetVibes. The Parisian company has created an aggregation tool that lets each user create a personalized page that pulls news feeds and data from web services into modular boxes. The boxes update automatically, and their display options are totally customizable.

Continued in article

I have a rather sadly neglected set of links to online purchasing of vehicles ---

Adrie Boerefijn in The Netherlands sent me a link to a site for purchasing buses online --- http://www.used-buses.net/bustypes/

Robotic Gifts for the Busy Accounting Professor
What useful extensions can you think of? (do tax returns, ERP all over you, shovel your snow, mow your grass, play bridge, etc.)
No kidding, students might line up for your office hours if you have one of these things answering their questions.
Could this be named "Second Spouse" or "Third Life?"
Can't you just visualize these things carrying in a heavy piano from a moving van!
This may be your new golf or tennis partner.
I think I better quit here before I get into real trouble


"Affordable no-assembly humanoid robot on sale ahead of holidays delivers laughs," MIT's Technology Review, December 8, 2007 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Wire/19826/?nlid=734

Relatively affordable at $300, i-Sobot has 17 motors, can recognize spoken words and be controlled remotely, making the walking, somersaulting, karate-chopping robot as close to a humanoid as toys get.

And it has a key feature any human would love: There's no assembly required.

Robots that look like people are now available from Kondo Kagaku Co., Kyosho Corp. and others.

But they cost $1,000 or more and usually require grueling hours of piecing together motors, metal frames and wiring and then painting. And they must be programmed with a computer -- an endeavor so delicate it's hard to get the machines to walk straight without falling over their own feet.

Continued in article

"Japan researchers unveil housework robot," PhysOrg, November 27, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news115375902.html 

Japanese researchers on Tuesday unveiled a new humanoid robot designed to lend a hand with housework, particularly the rapidly growing number of elderly people in the Asian country.

The 147-centimetre (four-foot-10) robot, pure white save for blue eyes and red arm joints, put its skills on display by helping an elderly person get out of bed and preparing breakfast.

While communicating with the person, the 111-kilogramme (244-pound) robot picked up tomato sauce from the refrigerator with four fingers and carried it with a piece of bread on a plate to the dining table.

With sensors and flexible joints, the robot is able to absorb potential shocks in case it bumps into users.

The robot was developed by Tokyo's elite Waseda University and named Twendy-One, an acronym derived from Waseda Engineering Designed Symbiont.

"In our super-ageing society, both strength and delicacy are required" for robots, Professor Shigeki Sugano said in presenting the humanoid. "Twendy-One is the first robot that can meet those conditions."

The professor said his team aims to sell the robot in 2015.

Japanese are famed for longevity, with more than 30,000 people aged at least 100 years old, a trend attributed to a healthy cuisine and active lifestyle.

But the longevity is also presenting a headache as the country has one of the lowest birthrates, raising fears of a future demographic crisis as a smaller pool of workers supports a mass of elderly.

How to be a Good Wife Robot --- http://www.snopes.com/language/document/goodwife.asp

Virtual worlds are being put to serious real-world uses—and are starting to encounter some real-world problems
With the popularity of virtual worlds such as Second Life and games such as “World of Warcraft” and “Sims Online”, companies, academics, health-care providers and the military are evaluating virtual environments for use in training, management and collaboration. Superficially, such uses look a lot like playing a video game. “The thing that distinguishes them from games is the outcome,” says Mr Wortley. Rather than catering to virtual thrill-seekers, the aim is to find new ways for people to learn or work together. Blitz Games, for example, the firm behind “Karaoke Revolution” and other games, has applied its technology in a rather more serious field: the development of a medical-triage simulator. The idea is to use it to train paramedics, doctors and firefighters in prioritising care immediately after a disaster. “We are simulating the scene of an explosion on a high street,” says Mary Matthews of Blitz's TruSim division. Players observe the virtual patients and gauge their respiration, pallor, bleeding and level of distress; then they use this information to determine which of them is in greatest need, all against the clock. Each player's performance is scored according to an industry-recognised training protocol. Real-life exercises could achieve the same objective, but the simulated environment cuts costs and improves access . . . With such large sums at stake, it is not surprising that other unpleasant aspects of real life are starting to appear in virtual worlds too. In May two players were banned from Second Life for depicting sexual activity between an adult and a child. Eros, a company that sells sex-related add-ons in Second Life, filed a lawsuit in July against an inhabitant of the virtual world for selling unauthorised copies of its SexGen bed, which facilitates sex between in-game characters. “When you have a community that is an extension of Newark, eventually you will have the ills of Newark going on,” says Edward Castronova, a virtual-worlds expert at Indiana University. Some people think the very nature of virtual worlds can inspire bad behaviour. Such environments provide “anonymity along with a lack of social recourse,” notes Gus Tai, a venture capitalist at at Trinity Ventures in California's Silicon Valley.
"Getting Serious," The Economist, December 6, 2007 -- http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10202591

Canadian Professor Peter J. Ludlow's Second Life in Virtual Worlds as "Urizenus"

First read about Second Life at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life

Then read about Second Life at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#SecondLife

"The Second Life of Peter J. Ludlow: A philosophy professor challenges the rules of virtual worlds with his alter ego, a muckraking journalist," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 7, 2007--- Click Here

He leads an audacious life, but only online. As the digital character Urizenus, he muckrakes in virtual worlds and describes as dictatorial the companies that run them. His reporting can be read in the brassy, tabloid-style Web newspaper he founded, the Second Life Herald.

Offline, Mr. Ludlow is a mild-mannered linguist and a tenured professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. Also in reality, he has just celebrated the release of a book that chronicles his journalistic adventures in The Sims Online and Second Life, a pair of digital environments inhabited by lots of characters, or avatars. The book is called The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse (MIT Press). He wrote the book with Mark Wallace, a freelance journalist.

It's not easy juggling two such different lives, so Urizenus, also known as Uri, is easing up on his exploits to allow Mr. Ludlow to concentrate on writing a linguistics book.

But although his lives are separate, they are in fact related. Uri dissects virtual worlds like a political philosopher. And while digital venues are often stereotyped as mindless entertainment for nerds who sit in front of computer screens slaying monsters, Mr. Ludlow is among a growing number of scholars who see virtuality as something to study. He delves into issues of sovereignty in cyberspace, arguing that game enthusiasts should wrest control of virtual worlds from game companies. He also paints an unflattering portrait of colleges in Second Life. (See article, Page A26.)

"Digital campuses are drab, and Second Life is a dubious venue for online instruction: That's the message from Peter J. Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, to colleges with campuses in the virtual world Second Life," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 7, 2007 --- Click Here

Digital campuses are drab, and Second Life is a dubious venue for online instruction. That's the message from Peter J. Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, to colleges with campuses in the virtual world Second Life.

It's a scathing assessment from a scholar who is ordinarily an enthusiast of virtual environments, who founded a Web-based tabloid newspaper about Second Life, and has just come out with a book about his journalistic escapades in this make-believe world, where digital characters, or avatars, walk, fly, chat online, and talk through the voices of their human operators.

Colleges worldwide are establishing their presence in Second Life to advertise their programs, conduct online classes or conferences, and do research. At least 170 such campuses can be found there, says an article in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Social Sciences.

But the virtual campuses he has seen, says Mr. Ludlow, lack imagination because they duplicate real institutions.

"Is that what you've got if you could start over, and you're not constrained by the laws of physics, and you could build whatever you want to enhance learning?" he asks. "What kind of message are you sending when you say, 'If I could create the ideal learning environment, I would duplicate Building 7 and go to work?'"

Colleges should be promoting originality, he says. For example, they should create digital buildings that are architecturally unusual.

Looks aren't the only problem. Mr. Ludlow tried to teach a freshman seminar in Second Life on issues arising in multiplayer online worlds. He and his students were represented by avatars. But it wasn't successful, he says, because avatars don't communicate as richly as people do.

"When I'm teaching in a classroom, I can read the body language of students," says the philosopher. "I can tell if it's too warm. I can tell if they're tired. I can tell if they're looking quizzical because they don't understand. I don't get any of that feedback when I'm trying to address students online."

Continued in article

December 6, 2007 reply from Steven Hornik [shornik@BUS.UCF.EDU]

Bob, how do you do it? How do you keep up with all of this? Anyway here's a scoop that maybe Bob hasn't read yet. The Economist has a short article on virtual worlds, including Second Life. The interesting part for us as accountants, and perhaps and answer that David posed a few weeks ago as to how to leverage these virtual environments. Here's a link to the article:


And here is one of the pieces I found interesting (sorry I don't know how to do different colors like Bob does)

"The same technology can also be used to simulate the more mundane environment of an office. PIXELearning, a British company based in Coventry, has developed a simulator for a big international accounting firm in order to train interns who are fresh out of university. The role-playing simulator lets them develop their skills by interacting, for example, with a difficult client who is being aggressive on pricing. This is invaluable, says Kevin Corti, PIXELearning's boss, because it allows them to make mistakes before being unleashed on a client. Similarly, a big American bank is using PIXELearning's simulator for “diversity and inclusion” training."


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


Virtual Environments, Virtual Worlds, and Applications --- http://www.aee.odu.edu/special_pages/VECourses/contact.php

Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#SecondLife

"E-books, slow to catch on in mainstream, are a hit in niches," MIT's Technology Review, December 4, 2007 ---

For a decade now, publishers have been hoping to wean readers off books and move them to electronic versions, which are much cheaper to produce and distribute.

It just hasn't happened, even with the support of an electronics giant like Sony, which put out a dedicated e-book reader last year. Amazon.com Inc. recently followed up with its own reader.

But if you look away from the mainstream publishing industry, e-books are already a success in a few niches, where they are giving rise to new ways of doing business. The standout example is role-playing games, but buyers of college textbooks and even romance novels are warming to e-books.

Witness Gareth-Michael Skarka, a representative of one of our newest professions: the e-book publisher. ''E-book publishers'' that reformat printed books into electronic formats have been around for a while, but Skarka commissions, edits and sells books that overwhelmingly never see print, and would never have existed if it weren't for electronic publishing.

''Most of our customers are fairly comfortable with the electronic format,'' said Skarka. He pulls in around $50,000 a year in sales, enough to make a living of it in Lawrence, Kan., where he is based.

The 156 e-books in Portable Document Format, or PDF, sold by Skarka's Adamant Entertainment aren't exactly highbrow literature. With titles like ''Slavers of Mars,'' and ''One Million Magic Items,'' they're aimed at people who play role-playing games -- the most famous of which would be ''Dungeons & Dragons.'' Skarka's prices are mostly less than $10, but the e-books aren't hugely cheaper than printed books, because most of the PDFs are short.

Role-players buy lots of books, which contain rules for their games or expand on the imaginary worlds in which they are set. It's fiction, but it's more like reference material than the kind of long narratives you'd find in novels. Industry insiders see that as a big reason PDFs work for role-players.

''In general, it's not the 300-page prose novels that people want to read on the screen,'' said Steve Wieck, who co-founded one of the most successful publishers of role-playing games, Atlanta-based White Wolf Inc., in the early 90s.

Wieck started noticing that a lot of White Wolf's releases would be scanned by fans and pirated online. Following a ''can't beat 'em -- join 'em'' strategy, he and his brother started DriveThruRPG.com in 2004 to sell PDFs, gathering books from many publishers, including Adamant Entertainment.

Wieck and Skarka estimate that e-book sales make up 10 percent of the $25 million in annual RPG sales. DriveThruRPG alone does $2 million in business annually. By comparison, the Association of American publishers put 2006 e-book sales at $54 million, 0.02 percent of total book sales of $24.2 billion.

Marc Zuckerman, a role-player in Rockville Centre, N.Y., bought his first e-book six months ago, even though he already has, or at least may have, a print copy of the book. His copy of the superhero game ''Villains and Vigilantes'' got lost in a move. Originally published in 1982, it's long out of print but available on DriveThruRPG.

''It's really nifty to be able to walk into a gaming session and plug in my laptop and everything is there, as opposed to lugging 40 books,'' Zuckerman said.

Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Ebooks.htm

How to compare two MS Word documents

For free alternatives check out http://snipurl.com/comparedocs

There is also a commercial alternative with a “free trial” whatever that means --- http://www.workshare.com/go/compare-word-files.aspx

Human Resource Calculators (cost of employee turnover, productivity losses, relocation losses, etc.) --- http://www.hrworld.com/calculators/badhire/

The home page for human resource management is at http://www.hrworld.com/

Bob Jensen's links to calculators --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#080512Calculators

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos announced the launch of an e-book device called Kindle. It weighs 10.3 ounces, costs $399 and can be used without a computer, offering instead a free, high-speed wireless data network from Sprint. Users can download books in less than 60 seconds, as well as newspapers, magazines and blogs (for a fee). The device uses an eye-friendly screen and lets readers increase the type size as needed. Will it be a hit, even though most other e-book efforts have been unsuccessful? We asked marketing professor Peter Fader, Don Huesman, senior director of information technology, and management professor Dan Raff to give us their reviews.
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, Knowledge@Wharton, December 2007 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on eBooks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Ebooks.htm

Rise in Buyouts and/or Partnering Between For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions
The past several years have seen a crop of such acquisitions. Most recently, Bridgepoint Education purchased the Colorado School of Professional Psychiatry, weeks after a private equity firm announced its pending purchase of Touro College’s distance education division. Those developments follow a string of for-profit entities seeking to boost their online learning operations by acquiring or partnering with private colleges. Given that backdrop, the first question at a session devoted to the practice at the Career College Association Investment Conference in Washington on Friday was simple: Do such “transactions” between for-profit and nonprofit educational entities reveal a growing trend? . . . Of course, when a nonprofit converts, it can no longer rely on donations and must begin paying employment and real estate taxes. But beyond those structural changes are challenges that arise in the new management structure. Often, the for-profit company will find the potential for regional accreditation an attractive consequence of purchasing a college or academic unit. The accreditation process, however, often mandates that 51 percent of board members be financially independent of the educational institution, Palmer said. “Most investors can’t imagine putting [in] millions of dollars ... and having a board of trustees that they don’t control,” he said. Still, despite the difficulties and cultural differences between the nonprofits and for-profits, Palmer expressed a sentiment that elicited some agreement at the meeting, but probably not elsewhere in higher education. “We don’t say that we’re much different from a nonprofit,” he said.
Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/12/10/forprofit

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

"On College Costs, Be Careful What You Wish For," by William G. Durden, Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/12/10/durden

The latest blood sport in American public policy appears to be the unmasking of the purported link between containing the cost of higher education and rigorous fiscal accountability. Stringent accountability is forwarded by critics of American higher education not only to know better “precisely what they are getting” (the assumption being that the public isn’t getting much for its investment), but also to contain escalating college costs and the price passed on to students, their families and the American taxpayer.

Extravagant spending once revealed, so goes the argument, will cause universities on the basis of public outcry to lower costs and pass less of the financial burden on to students, state legislatures and the federal government. All well and good in theory. But this causal connection has yet to be proven. This expectation assumes there is a viable business model in higher education that restrains costs, advances minimal tuition increases and continues to produce all of the components of an undergraduate educational experience to which American society has become accustomed — and, in fact, demands. Such is not the case.

Current higher education business models are grounded in students’ and the public’s expectations of a comprehensive educational experience and the continual generation of new knowledge—both of which depend on rising revenues. There are, however, two existing business models that could be more widely introduced to appease those critics who perceive rising tuitions as arbitrary and a poor return on investment.

Nonprofit colleges and universities could adopt, for example, the business model of the rapidly proliferating for-profit universities. Colleges and universities could go totally online — no buildings or accompanying campuses. Athletics would be eliminated as would student life. Gone would be those pesky sources of purported extravagance in American higher education.

There would also be no expectation of original research by faculty or students — ironically the essential source of content for the for-profits to use in instruction. The course of study would be narrowed to include only those subjects that are more applied than those in a liberal arts curriculum and match more closely specific occupational needs — business, nursing, social work, health technology, information technology, and so on. The curriculum would eliminate those courses without immediate applicability to the workforce — English literature, poetry, art and art history, music, dance and theater. There would be no need to engage in “silly” research that deviates from what “someone” has determined a priori as essential topics of inquiry for a productive life. There would be no reason to invest in costly scientific equipment or the laboratories in which to house it.

Numerous for-profit universities have taken these steps. This model is most appealing to busy adults who are both working and trying to advance themselves through education in the most convenient way possible. It fulfills an important “in-time” professional need. For-profits compete with other for-profits and non-profits solely on the competitive basis of tuition and still accomplish their mission fully. Their business model works because they forgo all the “extras” delineated above that non-profits must support through a combination of tuition, public support, private fundraising and cost efficiencies.

But can American higher education — indeed, can America as an enterprising, entrepreneurial nation — afford to have all its colleges and universities so defined? Is the for-profit business model more widely acceptable to the American public — especially for the undergraduate education of its 18-21 year olds? Wouldn’t some valuable defining elements of a distinctively American higher education — a global market asset — be lost in this brutal confrontation between cost and accountability?

Would we as a nation accept no college sports? Would we accept the total absence of our effort, albeit sometimes frustrating (and understandably highly inefficient) to advance students in the practice of citizenship within a 24/7 residential community? Would we accept the total absence of student life — fraternities and sororities, club life and other extracurricular activities? Would our “consumer-students” accept residence halls, student centers and science complexes that were lacking in contemporary amenities and instrumentation?

Would we as a nation accept a curriculum that offered only those courses that translated directly to current workforce needs and neglected the arts and humanities — defiantly unaccountable courses of study? Would we accept a college or university that restricted its faculty from engaging in research, thereby keeping them one step removed from what they teach in the classroom?

I think not. To do so would completely undermine the global market distinction that has come to define American higher education. It is no coincidence that countries such as Germany and Britain are currently seeking ways to “Americanize” their universities. As central governments cut their considerable subsidies, they are finding it necessary to increase tuition — and along with it, the types of “amenities” that 21st century students demand. They are coming to rapidly understand that the American college experience in its totality creates an emotional identity among the student body, an identity that translates into a lifelong sense of ownership and a willingness to “give back” to their alma mater. This is an extremely powerful source of support for American higher education and it is necessary component of our business model. Why would we jeopardize this?

If higher education institutions wanted to contain escalating costs and price, they could also look to a second business model that would, in essence, put a “cap” on new knowledge. When American universities were first founded, the course of study was an unchanging corpus of knowledge that was judged finite and comprehensible in its totality. This position was inherited from our European predecessors and practiced there for centuries. In the words of Anthony T. Kronman in his recent book, Education’s End, “The classicist view of antiquity was essentially static. It paid little or no attention to its historical development ….[M]eaning and value of that world …[ resided] … in a set of timeless forms, transparent to the intellect and permanently available as standards of judgment….” Indeed, such a static view of knowledge and its the accompanying “business model” kept cost — and tuition — down by ignoring that pesky cost driver, new knowledge.

Continued in article

Accountants Call It Cost-Profit-Volume Analysis That Works Best When There Are Huge Fixed Costs Relative to Variable Costs
It also depends heavily on price elasticity of demand!

Newfoundland, Labrador, and Prince Edward Island are cutting tuition rates substantially at their universities, hoping to lure students from Ontario, The Ottawa Citizen reported.
Inside Higher Ed, December 11, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/12/11/qt

Bob Jensen's threads on accountability in higher education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Accountability

How to proceed if you suspect your work has be plagiarized

I recently received an inquiry from a Canadian requesting how to proceed when a publication is suspected of being plagiarized.
My reply is shown below:


I’m afraid I can’t be of much help here.  The first thing is to detect the differences. You might paste the two documents (e.g., suspicious chapters) into MS Word and then compare them word-for-word.

Under the TOOLS pull-down menu is a selection “Compare and Merge Documents”.

Open the first document.

Under Tools, select Compare and Merge Documents

You will get a window to let you find the second document

When you open it, you should have the second document on the screen with the differences highlighted in red.


Note that “plagiarism” and “copyright infringement” are not synonyms --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement
This is a pretty good module on how to proceed if copyright infringement is suspected.

If serious plagiarism and/or copyright infringement is detected, I think it is necessary to officially inform the publisher (not necessarily the author) of copyright violations. If the publisher withdraws the item from the market (including recalls of inventories in book stores), then I doubt if there is a lawsuit. If the publisher withdraws the item from the Web server (or other server) then I doubt if there is a lawsuit.

If the publisher resists, then you must contact experienced Canadian (I assume) copyright attorneys. An attorney should be able to get the attention of the publisher. If not, the attorney(s) can advise you how to proceed from there.

Note that plagiarism does not have to be word-for-word copying to be plagiarism.

Wikipedia has a pretty good module on this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism
You might find the “Examples” section helpful.

I assume that you suspect copying without proper citation.
If there is citation there can still be a problem with unreasonably long quotations. I’m guilty of this at my Website, but in all these many years only two authors have complained to me. I immediately removed the quotations and the authors were quite nice about it.

The quoted or properly cited item does not necessarily have to be long if the item in question is central to the entire document or recording. This is a common problem in video and audio re-distribution even with proper citation. In the U.S., the DMCA generally allows 30 second bites, but anything beyond that is fair game for lawsuits.

I don’t think Canada has the “Fair Use” safe harbor of the U.S. DMCA. But Fair Use is not generally interpreted properly in academe. You can read more about Fair Use at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

Bob Jensen’s threads on cheating are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm

Beyond that it’s pretty much a question for experienced attorneys.

Bob Jensen


Colleges Adopt Tough Approach to Copyright Violations," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 6, 2007 ---

Politicians and the entertainment industry complain that colleges are not doing enough to stop students from swapping music and movie files online in violation of copyright law. But a recent survey by Elliot Kendall, a network administrator at Brandeis University, shows that colleges are being strict with these students. His findings, based on responses from 80 colleges, show that most of them cut off students’ network or Internet access after receiving complaints from the entertainment industry that students have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Other findings from the survey show the following: °Most colleges penalize students after only one complaint of infringement. °Most colleges have tried to educate students about infringement. More than a third of colleges said their copyright infringement policies were relatively effective in stopping infringement.

In a related survey, Mr. Kendall asked colleges about their bandwidth policies. Most of them said they use packet-shaping software to detect which students are hogging too much bandwidth and to stop the behavior. Students typically use a lot of bandwidth when sharing music and movie files online.


Class Size Matters, But the Importance of This Factor is Highly Variable

My purpose in this essay is not to defend large classes. My purpose is to demonstrate that a decision to offer large classes or to avoid them requires a much larger set of commitments that are rarely discussed. You’d think that large universities would be heavily invested in finding new ways to teach large numbers of students while increasing student learning, but they’re not. You’d think that the current demands of higher education would have driven substantial research into methods of increasing learning while increasing class size, but it has not. What is needed is for those schools and communities that would benefit from the results of such research to fund it and to encourage it. The research may or may not be fruitful, but like any research we cannot know this before we begin. If we are to serve tomorrow’s college students by producing better and better graduates, if we are to charge tuition increases that perpetually exceed inflation, and if we are to continue the noble cause of expanding the circle of those who attend college, that serious research needs to begin now.
Daniel W. Barwick, "Does Class Size Matter?" Inside Higher Ed, December 6, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/12/06/barwick
Daniel W. Barwick is an associate professor of philosophy at the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred.
Jensen Comment
Classes can be too large and too small for certain types of teaching. For example, when teaching via case method where students are asked to develop solutions "out loud" (possibly in synchronous online chat rooms), classes of over 600 students would be ludicrous even though such class sizes were used for lectures in my daughter's first-year chemistry classes at the University of Texas. Similarly, case method teaching to a class of one or two students is also absurd. It is not uncommon in the Harvard Law School and the Harvard Business School to have classes of over 60 students. In my opinion this is excessive for case method teaching since if every student is given air time in class, some students may get less than one minute.

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

Education Tutorials

How helpful is Wikipedia to scholarship?
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, told educators last year that students shouldn't cite his sprawling Web site: "For God's sake, you’re in college," he said. "Don’t cite the encyclopedia.” It's a safe bet that most professors agreed with that assessment. But according to BBC News, Mr. Wales has now modified his message. He told attendees at a London IT conference this week that he doesn't object to Wikipedia citations, although he admitted that scholars would "probably be better off doing their own research." From the BBC report, it's hard to tell how gung-ho Mr. Wales is about Wikipedia's academic value. But the online encyclopedia's efforts to improve the quality of its articles might be starting to pay dividends: A German magazine recently compared 50 Wikipedia articles with similar pieces in Brockhaus, a commercial encyclopedia. According to the study, the Wikipedia articles were generally more informative.
Brock Read, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 7, 2007 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2598&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en 

Bob Jensen's threads on Wikipedia are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#KnowledgeBases

Bob Jensen's threads on how scholars search the Web are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Scholars

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#EducationResearch

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

McGill Life Sciences Library: Resources for Teaching and Learning --- http://www.health.library.mcgill.ca/research/infoskills/learning.cfm

National Human Genome Research Institute --- http://www.genome.gov/ 

Context Rich Problems Online Archives (physics) --- http://groups.physics.umn.edu/physed/Research/CRP/on-lineArchive/ola.html

"Organic Chemistry for the YouTube Generation," PhysOrg, December 6, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news116181206.html
Video Link --- http://www.scivee.tv/node/3005

177 UC Berkeley Video Courses (free) --- http://www.jimmyr.com/free_education.php
Other free video courses --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Oceanus (video and pictures) --- http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/index.do

Interactives: Garbage (landfills etc.) --- http://www.learner.org/interactives/garbage/intro.html

Bob Jensen’s threads on science, engineering, and medicine tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Science

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Center for Civic Education --- http://www.civiced.org/

Tony Tinker forwarded this Video Link
Credit squeeze explained --- http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c2c12708-6d10-11dc-ab19-0000779fd2ac.html
Bob Jensen's mortgage advice --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#MortgageAdvice

Subprime Mortgages: A Primer
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding answers from regulators and lenders about subprime mortgages. Many worry that rising mortgage defaults and lender failures could hurt America's overall banking system. Already, the subprime crisis has been blamed for steep declines in the stock market. But just what is a subprime loan — and why should you care? Here, a primer:
"Subprime Mortgages: A Primer," NPR, March 23, 2007 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9085408
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-prime_mortgage

Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and Philosophy tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Social

Math Tutorials

Venn Diagrams ---  http://mathdl.maa.org/mathDL/3/?pa=content&sa=viewDocument&nodeId=1555

Teaching Math: A Video Library --- http://www.learner.org/resources/series34.html

Functions Grapher --- http://mathdl.maa.org/mathDL/3/?pa=content&sa=viewDocument&nodeId=404

Famous Curves Index --- http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Curves/Curves.html

Geometry --- http://mathworld.wolfram.com/topics/Geometry.html 

Exercises in Math Readiness ---

Creating Mathlets with Open Source Tools ---

History in College Algebra --- http://mathdl.maa.org/convergence/1/convergence/1/?pa=content&sa=viewDocument&nodeId=1629 

Algebasics --- http://www.algebasics.com/

xyAlgebra --- http://www.xyalgebra.org/

Tools for Understanding (Math) ---  http://www2.ups.edu/community/tofu/home.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics

Music Tutorials

Baker's Student Encyclopedia of Music --- http://www.enotes.com/music-encyclopedia/

Bob Jensen's links to music tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Music

History Tutorials

Linking Research and Teaching in History: Case Studies --- http://www.hca.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/case_Studies/snas/index.php

Linking Research and Teaching in History For academic historians the link between research and teaching is regarded as an integral part of the provision of a high-quality history education: vital to teachers and students and to the ongoing health of the discipline.

These resources have been compiled as part of a Higher Education Academy project on linking teaching and research in the disciplines. The project's aim is to provide case-studies of existing practice alongside a review essay considering the nature of the research-teaching relationship in each discipline. Whilst the resources are intended in the first instance for new members of academic staff, they will be of interest to anyone who wishes to reflect on the research-teaching nexus in History and the ways in which academic historians have translated this in the context of their teaching.

Our Subject Centre is very keen to build upon this collection of case-studies. We would welcome further contributions so that we can create a resource for our community that reflects the importance of this topic and the wealth of experience that historians have in linking their research and teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

From the University of Wisconsin
Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery --- http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/Literature/subcollections/RinglBeowulfAbout.shtml

The translation is intended for "oral delivery," that is, to be read or recited aloud. Accordingly this work includes an audio stream in which the translator provides a reading of his version of the poem. This reading is meant to model metrical and rhetorical features of the translation, not to lay down the law about how it should be "performed." It can be listened to uninterruptedly from start to finish--which takes about three hours--or it can be accessed at the beginning of any of the forty-three sections into which it is divided (and which correspond to the numbered sections of the surviving manuscript).

Scottish Natural Heritage Information Service --- http://www.snh.org.uk/snhi/

Mapping The Pacific Coast --- http://www.mappingthepacificcoast.com/

Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#History
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm  

Language Tutorials

Modern Language Association Language map ---  http://www.mla.org/resources/census_main 

Language Translation Software --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm#ForeignLanguage 

Various modern language and literature helpers are linked at http://www.trinity.edu/departments/modern_languages/index.html

"Overcoming Language Anxiety," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, June 29, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/06/29/language

Free Language Learning Helpers (With Audio) --- http://www.vocabulix.com

Learn Spanish --- http://www.spanishprograms.com/


Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Languages

Writing Tutorials

Writing Forward (writing tips) --- http://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips-tricks/the-22-best-writing-tips-ever

Best Books of 2007 --- http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10249833

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob3.htm#Dictionaries

From the Scout Report on December 7, 2007

CCleaner 2.02.527 --- http://www.ccleaner.com/ 

The road to a smoothly running computer can be paved with unused files and all types of extraneous items. This version of CCleaner can help users with such matters, as it cleans up temporary files, recycled items, log files, and other such pesky items. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer.

Photo Organizer 2.34b --- http://po.shaftnet.org/ 

Photo Organizer 2.34b goes above and beyond the call of photo gallery duty by offering users the opportunity to not only store their images, but to also create detailed annotations for each image. The program is capable of handling thousands of images and users can also print, tag, export, and search images as they wish. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

From The Washington Post on December 8, 2007

What percent of U.S. tweens own a mobile phone?

A. 15 percent
B. 25 percent
C. 35 percent
D. 55 percent
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.Jensen Comment
In Finland, the land of mobiles, it's nearly 100%.
Many Finlanders have one for each ear.

From The Washington Post on December 6, 2007

Nokia's headquarters are in which Finnish city?

A. Helsinki
B. Vantaa
C. Oulu
D. Espoo
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/

From the Scout Report on December 7, 2007

Study shows that honey can help a child's cough Honey 'is better for children's coughs'

Study: Honey better than drugs for kids' coughs http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5348425.html 

Honey Gives Kids Sweet Relief From Coughs http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdFlu/story?id=3947988&page=1 

National Honey Board: Recipes http://www.honey.com/consumers/recipes/recipes.asp 

Guide to Bee-Friendly Gardens http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/index.html 

Humanity to Honey-bees

Israeli study says regular mobile use increases tumor risk
Regular use of mobile telephones increases the risk of developing tumours, a new scientific study by Israeli researchers and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed on Friday. An extract of the report seen by Israel's Yedoit Aharonot newspaper put the risk of developing a parotid gland tumour nearly 50 percent higher for frequent mobile phone users -- more than 22 hours a month. The risk was still higher if users clamped the phone to the same ear, did not use hands-free devices or were in rural areas. "Analysis restricted to regular users or to conditions that may yield higher levels of exposure (eg heavy use in rural areas) showed consistently elevated risks," said an abstract of the report in the US journal made available to AFP. The study included 402 benign and 58 malignant incident cases of parotid gland tumour diagnosed in Israel at age 18 years or more, in 2001-2003.
PhysOrg, December 7, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news116235712.html

Even in healthy elderly, brain systems become less coordinated
Some brain systems become less coordinated with age even in the absence of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from Harvard University. The results help to explain why advanced age is often accompanied by a loss of mental agility, even in an otherwise healthy individual. The study, published in the Dec. 6 issue of Neuron, was led by Jessica Andrews-Hanna, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, with Justin Vincent, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology, and Randy Buckner, Harvard professor of psychology and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “This research helps us to understand how and why our minds change as we get older, and why some individuals remain sharp into their 90s, while others’ mental abilities decline as they age,” says Andrews-Hanna. “One of the reasons for loss of mental ability may be that these systems in the brain are no longer in sync with one another.” Previous studies have focused on the specific structures and functions within the brain, and how their deterioration might lead to decreased cognitive abilities. However, this study examined the way that large-scale brain systems that support higher-level cognition correlate and communicate across the brain, and found that in older adults these systems are not in sync. In particular, widely separated systems from the front to the back of the brain were less correlated.
PhysOrg, December 7, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news116249985.html

Chem Lab: The Downside of Getting High on Nitrous Oxide
In November 2003, the Taiwanese man's sense of touch became so faint that he could barely handle chopsticks. Even worse: he felt sensations similar to electrical shocks in his neck and legs. At Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Chia-Yi Lin, Kwong-Kum Liao, and their colleagues examined their patient with an MRI scan. Part of his spinal column had degenerated. That was no surprise since laughing gas interferes with the production of myelin, a fatty coating that surrounds nerves and helps them send signals. In the January 2007 issue of Clinical Toxicology, Lin and Liao explained that the gas inactivates vitamin B12 and the junkie was already running low on that nutrient. Daily doses of the gas for ten years worsened his dietary deficiency, leading to the severe neurological damage. At the end of their correspondence, the doctors did not say what became of their patient, but they made it clear that he was not alone.
Aaron Rowe, Wired News, December 9, 2007 --- http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/12/chem-lab-the-do.html


Research reveals secrets of alcohol's effect on brain cells
Alcohol triggers the activation of a variety of genes that can influence the health and activity of brain cells, and new research from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City sheds light on how that process occurs. The findings, published in the Nov. 21 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, may also edge scientists closer to understanding alcohol-linked disorders such as the brain damage associated with chronic alcoholism, and the abnormal brain development seen in the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). "If you are going to understand the biological effects of alcohol on genes within cells, you have to understand the molecular machinery driving the transcription, or activation, of the genes in question. That's what we believe we have done here," says the study's senior author Dr. Neil L. Harrison, professor of pharmacology and pharmacology in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell. In research conducted in cell cultures and in mouse neurons in vivo, his team found that alcohol stimulates a ubiquitous, stress-linked biochemical cascade -- called the heat shock pathway -- to send a molecule called heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) into the neuron's nucleus. HSF1 then stimulates the transcription of many of the genes known to be activated by alcohol.
PhysOrg, December 7, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news116256425.html

A Camera to Help Dementia Patients:  Let's See, Did I or Didn't I?
When Mrs. B was admitted to the hospital in March 2002, her doctors diagnosed limbic encephalitis, a brain infection that left her autobiographical memory in tatters. As a result, she can only recall around 2 percent of events that happened the previous week, and she often forgets who people are. But a simple device called SenseCam, a small digital camera developed by Microsoft Research, in Cambridge, U.K., dramatically improved her memory: she could recall 80 percent of events six weeks after they happened, according to the results of a recent study. A specialized camera regularly takes pictures to aid with memory. "Not only does SenseCam allow people to recall memories while they are looking at the images, which in itself is wonderful, but after an initial period of consolidation, it appears to lead to long-term retention of memories over many months, without the need to view the images repeatedly," says Emma Berry, a neuropsychologist who works as a consultant to Microsoft.
James Butcher, MIT's Technology Review, December 10, 2007 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19840/?nlid=740&a=f
Jensen Comment
This might help absent minded professors in any age group. Let's see. Did I have lunch? What did I eat? Did I drive or take the bus to work?
But then there are just some things about daily life that we just don’t want to remember.

Positive Prevention: HIV Prevention with people living with HIV --- http://www.aidsalliance.org/graphics/secretariat/publications/Positive_prevention.pdf

75 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena --- http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/
Link forwarded by Auntie Bev

Five Best Books About Dogs

"Man's Best Friend:  These works about dogs are a treat," by Stanley Coren, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2007 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110010966 

1. "For the Love of a Dog" by Patricia B. McConnell (Ballantine, 2006).

Patricia McConnell has a doctorate in zoology, but this work about dog behavior is hardly a dry textbook. "For the Love of a Dog" is about emotions, the emotions of dogs and of the people who interact with them. She presents plenty of personal stories, especially about her sheep-herding border collie, Luke ("I love Luke so much it almost hurts"), weaving the anecdotes into a discussion of how dogs view the world and what guides their behavior. "Without language as a bridge," McConnell writes, we can't "ever know what it is like to be a dog; some argue we shouldn't even try. But many of us try to understand the mental lives of our dogs every day, and we're not going to give up just because the task is difficult." She believes that dogs have all of the basic emotions--anger, happiness, fear, love--but finds that more complex emotions, such as guilt or grief, are harder to discern.

2. "If Only They Could Speak" by Nicholas H. Dodman (Norton, 2002).

Nicholas Dodman has written several excellent books about pets with problems ("Dogs Behaving Badly," "The Cat Who Cried for Help"), but this may be the best of all. It is a collection of stories about dogs--and some cats--that were treated at the animal behavior clinic Dodman founded at Tufts University. He depicts familiar pet problems (dominance, separation anxiety, aggression) but also documents their effects on the human-canine bond. In the chapter "The Two Dogs of Mrs. Spinelli," a dog owner's favoritism toward her poodle has provoked her German shepherd to viciously attack the other dog. Dodman convinces Mrs. Spinelli that peace will not reign until the shepherd is acknowledged as top dog (a little Prozac--for the shepherd--helps, too). Although not every case ends happily, all are instructive.

3. "If Dogs Could Talk" by Vilmos Csányi (North Point, 2005). Vilmos Csányi, a Hungarian trained as a behavioral biologist, explores how closely the thinking and learning patterns of dogs mimic those of humans. "Individual dog stories or anecdotes must be handled with considerable care when we want scientific proof," he writes--a refreshing caveat in an often speculative genre. The experiments he describes in "If Dogs Could Talk" include one that involves a dog watching a tasty morsel being hidden out of his reach and then, when his owner arrives, using a variety of signals--running from the owner to the hiding place and back again, or simply glancing back and forth--to get help obtaining the treat. Humans understand these signals, Csányi notes, "just as easily as dogs understand the signals of humans."

4. "Bones Would Rain From the Sky" by Suzanne Clothier (Warner, 2002).

If you feel that you can justify reading a book about dogs only when it offers practical training advice, the book for you is Suzanne Clothier's "Bones Would Rain From the Sky" (as in what would happen "if a dog's prayers were answered"). But this isn't a manual with a bulleted list of 10 easy steps to a better dog. Rather it is a guide to improving the communication between humans and dogs--which facilitates training. Clothier challenges us to think deeply about the differences between canine and human "cultures," noting: "No mother dog ever told her puppies: 'You just wait until your father gets home' or 'We'll discuss that later.' " Dogs work in only one time frame: Now!

5. "Always Faithful" by William Putney (Free Press, 2001).

In "Always Faithful," William Putney recounts his experience as a young veterinarian serving in the Marines during World War II, when he was directed to train dogs and their handlers for the bloody campaign to liberate Guam in 1944. The dogs, most of them Doberman pinschers, were former pets on wartime loan to the military. They proved so effective--delivering messages, serving as sentries and leading troops through thick jungle, where they detected mines and tripwires--that they would become famed as "Devil Dogs." Putney details the dogs' bravery and intelligence, and he describes the relationship between the dogs and the Marines--who were initially skeptical of canine help but came to respect the dogs and mourn the many who died in combat. The book ends with a fascinating account of Putney's successful campaign to have these dogs repatriated to their original families at the end of the war.

Dr. Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, is the author of several books on dogs, including "Why Does My Dog Act That Way?" (Free Press), just out in paperback.

Denny Beresford, who owns two Golden Retrievers, likes this one:

Marley & Me Illustrated Edition : Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan --- Click Here

Also see Bad Dog, Marley! by John Grogan, Richard Cowdrey (Illustrator) , Richard Cowdrey (Illustrator) --- Click Here

Forwarded by Moe


A man in Topeka , Kansas decided to write a book about Churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and started working east from there.

Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign, which read 'Calls: $10,000 a minute.'

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God.

The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way. As he continued to visit churches in Seattle , Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and around the United States, he found more phones, with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Massachusetts. Upon entering a church in Boston, MA .. ........Behold - he saw the usual golden telephone.

But THIS time, the sign read "Calls: .35 cents."

Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor, "Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but in the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads only .35 cents a call. Why? Why?"

The pastor, smiling benignly, replied :

"Son, you're in Boston, Massachusetts now, home of the Boston Red Sox, the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Boston College ! "

You're in God's Country, It's a local call.

( American by Birth - A BOSTON SPORT FAN by the grace of GOD ! )

Forwarded by Dick Haar

An interview with an 80-year-old woman

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married -- for the fourth time.

The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband's occupation.

"He's a funeral director," she answered.

"Interesting," the newsman thought.

He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.

She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years. After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she¢d first married a banker when she was in her early 20's, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40's, later on a preacher when in her 60's, and now in her 80's, a funeral director.

The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

She smiled and explained, "I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."

Forwarded by Gene and Joan

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring.

Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should've known... ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.

I knew it!!!

Forwarded by Moe

I took my granddad to the mall the other day to buy some new shoes. We decided to grab a bite at the food court.

I noticed he was watching a teenager sitting next to him. The teenager had spiked hair in all different colors: green, red,
orange, and blue. My granddad kept staring at him. The teenager would look and find him staring every time. When the
 teenager had enough, he sarcastically asked, "What's the matter old man, never done anything wild in your life? "

Knowing my Granddad, I quickly swallowed my food so that I would not choke on his response; knowing he would have a
good one. And in classic style he did not bat an eye in his response.

"Got drunk once and screwed a peacock. I was just wondering if you were my son."

Computer Stupidity --- http://www.rinkworks.com/stupid/cs_abuse.shtml

And you think you've got a deviated septum!
The Pug Factory --- http://files.meetup.com/126468/pug factory.jpg

Tidbits Archives --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

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 http://www.searchedu.com/

World Clock --- http://www.peterussell.com/Odds/WorldClock.php
Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/

Interesting Online Clock and Calendar --- http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf
Time by Time Zones --- http://timeticker.com/
Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) --- http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm
         Also see http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations.html
Facts about population growth (video) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U
Projected U.S. Population Growth --- http://www.carryingcapacity.org/projections75.html
Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- http://www.costofwar.com/ 
Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons --- http://zipskinny.com/
Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing Universities --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Free Textbooks and Cases --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks

Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics

Free Science and Medicine Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Science

Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Social

Free Education Discipline Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm

Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

Teacher Source:  Arts and Literature --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/arts_lit.htm

Teacher Source:  Health & Fitness --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/health.htm

Teacher Source: Math --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/math.htm

Teacher Source:  Science --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/sci_tech.htm

Teacher Source:  PreK2 --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/prek2.htm

Teacher Source:  Library Media ---  http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/library.htm

Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University --- http://athome.harvard.edu/archive/archive.asp

VYOM eBooks Directory --- http://www.vyomebooks.com/

From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department --- http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/

Online Mathematics Textbooks --- http://www.math.gatech.edu/~cain/textbooks/onlinebooks.html 

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives --- http://enlvm.usu.edu/ma/nav/doc/intro.jsp

Moodle  --- http://moodle.org/ 

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

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to   http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
AECM (Educators)  http://pacioli.loyola.edu/aecm/ 
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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm

CPAS-L (Practitioners) http://pacioli.loyola.edu/cpas-l/ 
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)  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xyztalk
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.
AccountantsWorld  http://accountantsworld.com/forums/default.asp?scope=1 
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 BusValGroup-subscribe@topica.com 
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM



Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu