We're having a January thaw even up here in the mountains. It's warmer and
lasting longer than most such thaws in January. With the price of heating oil
and propane these days I don't hear many complaints about our unexpected balmy
weather. It's a good thing too because my new snow blower is kaput. The drive
wheels won't engage, and the auger won't disengage. But the worst problem is
that the cables that turn the snow chute freeze up whenever the temperature
falls below freezing. With tongue in cheek, the Sears repairman tells me that
Craftsman engineers designed this $1,400 snow thrower for summertime use only.
I'm now thinking of ways to turn my new snow thrower into a mailbox holder
down at the road. My cousin Don Jenson near Armstrong, Iowa has a rusty old plow
holding up his mailbox. I'm going to one up him by having a shiny red Craftsman
snow thrower holding up my mailbox since it was never designed to throw snow in
the winter season. You can see even more clever mailbox holders at
There are also some in the Redneck Photo Collection ---
On January 5 a close friend from our church, Bob Every, asked if I would like
to ride with him for lunch and to visit a train caboose that his son is having
fitted with living quarters in Lancaster, New Hampshire (his son David travels around
the world an engineer for the Merchant Marines and only returns home for
infrequent visits). Bob Every and his wife Pat own quite a few rental properties
in New England, including a nearby barn. The barn is somewhat unique because it
attached to the barn. There are two holes for adults and three holes for
I concluded that a family that goes together probably stays together through
thick and thin. It's got to be nicer in some ways when the kids grow up and
leave the nest. Think of all the extra space freed up in the bathroom.
I can recall the "two-holer" on our Seneca family farm near Fenton, Iowa. I remember
how cold it could get in this unheated "necessary." What I recall even more is
that there was no toilet paper. Instead we used pages torn from Sears and
Roebuck catalogs. I mean I'm serious about this. As a kid I secretly tore out
the women's underwear pages and hid them in the hay loft of the barn. Those
pages were too precious to become toilet paper. I'm
serious about this as well.
My dad's uncle, Martin (Cornelius Martin (CM) Thompson (1866-1938)), had a big and beautiful two story house
on the Evergreen Farm about a mile
from our farm. What was unique is that in the early 1900s this house was ordered
via a catalog and shipped by rail from Sears and Roebuck. It was one of the
early versions of a prefabricated house. What amazed me is the size of the house
shipped in pieces by train and then hauled out to the farm by horses and wagons.
Uncle Martin's assembled house was
much larger and nicer than most any prefabricated home you can buy today. It was
even nicer than the smaller model shown at
Like so many Iowa farm houses in this era of giant machinery and larger farms,
Uncle Martin's house and buildings have all disappeared from the land.
Although later versions of these Sears and Roebuck houses had indoor plumbing, I don't
recall indoor plumbing in Uncle Martin's fine house. Incidentally, his wife had
an unusual name of Olava. Their farm had a wonderful orchard that included
walnut trees. My dad always said Uncle Martin worked Aunt Olava to death. In
those days, farm women
really did have it rough, especially if they had to work in the fields and milk
cows as well as cook three meals a day for the entire family on an iron cookstove
that burned corn cobs. The women did all the washing, ironing, gardening, cleaning, canning,
mending, and child rearing without plumbing, refrigerators, washing machines, or
furnaces. They bore their children at home in bed. They killed and cleaned
chickens almost daily even though their children generally picked the eggs. They
made their own dresses out of colorful
spun wool, and knitted warm
mittens for their children and grandchildren. How were there enough hours in the
day for their seemingly endless chores?
One day my Uncle Martin hitched up a team of horses to a buckboard and set out for an
old cemetery in Swea Township. He up and decided to dig is father's bones out of
the ground. At the gravesite he shoveled down until he found those bones inside rotted canvas.
One-by-one he tossed each bone into the buckboard and hauled what was left of
Grandpa Knute back to his Fenton farm as if to show Knute the wonderful new
farmhouse. I think Knute was then buried in the orchard, but I'm not entirely
sure about that family rumor. Knute may have eventually been reburied once again
in the cemetery on the corner of our home farm. My dad's father (Julius Jensen)
and his wife (Regina) gave a corner of their land to construct the Blakjar Norwegian
Church and Cemetery. This Christmas I sent some money to the family to help
restore some of the Jensen/Jenson graves.
The Blakjar Church, after sitting vacant for several decades on our farm, was moved in
2002 to a town park in nearby Lone Rock, Iowa. The Blakjar Cemetery still remains next
to the corn fields on our former family farm. I think the two-holer is long gone
as well as the church and most of the farm buildings.
My story about growing up in northern Iowa ---
My father's recollections about taking his mother Regina (Jennie or Ginny),
Aunt Olava, and their cousin
Anna Wilberg up to Viking, Alberta in a Model T can be found at
Serious Thoughts of the Week
When the kids are home from school, like on a snow day, a lot of concern goes
into "how to entertain the kids." If and when our many chores were completed
when I was a kid, I don't think parents gave much thought to "how to entertain
the kids." We were expected to entertain ourselves. I think this is an important
part of making kids more creative and independent. This is why I've never been a
fan of Little League organized events, television for kids, and frequent movies
for kids. For us movies were an infrequent treat. Mostly we thought up things to
do in playtime just like retired folks do in later life. That's the best way! And computer
networking is not necessarily helping in modern times.
The World Wide Web is becoming one vast,
programmable machine . . . Most people are already there. Young people in
particular spend way more time using so-called cloud apps — MySpace, Flickr,
Gmail — than running old-fashioned programs on their hard drives. What's amazing
is that this shift from private to public software has happened without us even
noticing it . . . Computers are technologies of liberation, but they're also
technologies of control. It's great that everyone is empowered to write blogs,
upload videos to YouTube, and promote themselves on Facebook. But as systems
become more centralized — as personal data becomes more exposed and data-mining
software grows in sophistication — the interests of control will gain the upper
hand. If you're looking to monitor and manipulate people, you couldn't design a
Nicholas Carr in an interview with
Spencer Reiss, "The Terrifying Future of Computing," Wired Magazine,
December 20, 2007 ---
Facebook has 58 million active users (including non-collegiate members)
worldwide --- unbelievable!
Growing Up Online: Young People and Digital Technologies, by
Sandra Weber and Shanly Dixon (Palgrave Macmillan; 2007, 272 pages,
ISBN-13: 9781403978141, 2007)
Writings that focus on the use of computer games, the Internet, and other
digital technologies by girls and young women. How times have changed since when
people had to help with the endless chores of farm life years ago.
What is happening to the quality
of our students?
meta-analysis of multiple studies which revealed that schoolchildren in the
1980s (i.e. our recent and current students) reported more anxiety than child
psychiatric patients did in the 1950s. Thus, our students may find life to be
far more anxiety-provoking/stressful than we did as undergraduates.
Adding to this
finding is the one described below that indicates stress impairs the ability
to remember and learn. Taken together, these studies suggest that
significantly higher levels of anxiety/stress among the current generation of
college students may help to account for the “decline” in the quality of
academic performance that we lament. Perhaps most of our students are doing
the best they can given their life experience just as we did the best we could
given our life experience.
Richard Reams, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist Counseling & Career Services
Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212
Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side of technology are at
Tidbits on January 10, 2008
For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures
Bob Jensen's Threads ---
Bob Jensen's Home Page is at
On May 14, 2006 I retired from Trinity
University after a long and wonderful career as an accounting professor in four
universities. I was generously granted "Emeritus" status by the Trustees of
Trinity University. My wife and I now live in a cottage in the White Mountains
of New Hampshire ---
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Set up free conference calls at
Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines ---
Google Maps Street View ---
World Clock ---
Tips on computer and networking
If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops ---
Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
We Are Trinity University (football's play of the year) ---
BigThink: YouTube for Scholars (where intellectuals may
post their lectures on societal issues) ---
TED: Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures ---
Link Forwarded by Linda Ruchala
Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen ---
2007 Year in Review (Comedy Video) ---
Searchable Lecture Browser --- ---
What's New in the Stanford Graduate School of Business (Video)
The Mom Song sung to the William Tell Overture (forwarded by
John Donahue) ---
Free music downloads ---
Tchaikovsky's 'The Queen of Spades' From the
Vienna State Opera (Act 1) ---
Love Under Siege: Rossini's 'Maometto Secondo' at
the Concertgebouw (Act 1) ---
The Count Basie Orchestra with Ledisi in Concert
Super Harmonica Playing ---
Christian Scott: A New Jazz 'Anthem' ---
Best Hip-Hop of 2007 (not my pleasure) ---
Sony BMG to start selling music downloads without
copy protection ---
The Older the Violin, the Sweeter the Music ---
Fiddle (including fiddling styles) ---
Violin vs. the Fiddle ---
Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were probably the world’s earliest
Videos of Famous Violinists ---
Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier
The Henry Reed Collection in the Library of Congress ---
Bob Jensen listens to music free online (and no commercials)
Photographs and Art
Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various
types electronic literature available free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
A Different Christmas Poem ---
From The Economist Magazine
Style Guide ---
From Atlantic Magazine
Books & Critics ---
From the University of Toronto
Representative Poetry Online ---
Project Gutenberg Update --- http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/
The Page (Poetry, Essays, Ideas) ---
Poetry Portal ---
From the University of Western Michigan
A Small Anthology of Poems ---
Poems by Komitas ---
The Euphemism Generator (hit the reload button for boring fun)
Gullible Information ---
Open Letters ---
Pi (in mathematics) ---
The Simpsons Quotes ---
Educators can and should play a significant role in
defining how college quality and affordability should be measured. But that will
happen only if they recognize a growing shift away from the deference
traditionally accorded to higher education. The most important lesson for the
future is that higher education still has time to shape its own destiny with
regard to public trust and accountability. But that will require that its
leaders genuinely involve themselves in emerging public concerns.
Patrick Callan and John Immerwahr,
"What Colleges Must Do to Keep the Public's Good Will," Chronicle of Higher
Education, January 11, 2008 ---
The extent to which bogus colleges are being used to
help illegal immigrants enter Britain was exposed on Tuesday. Almost half of
private colleges visited by inspectors have been struck off an official list of
approved providers. Some were removed for "technical" reasons, but many others
are understood to be fronts for student visa scams. Out of 256 colleges checked
since the register was set up three years ago, 124 were removed. But with as
many as 1,750 private colleges still to be inspected, more could yet be exposed.
Immigrants pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds to the fake college, where
no classes ever take place, to become "students" and qualify for temporary
visas. It is cheaper and safer route into Britain than paying to be smuggled in
by organised gangs.
Laura Clark, London Daily Mail,
January 8, 2008 ---
There will be a serious, critical look at the final
pre-election polls in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire; that
is essential. It is simply unprecedented for so many polls to have been so
wrong. We need to know why. But we need to know it through careful, empirically
based analysis. There will be a lot of claims about what happened - about
respondents who reputedly lied, about alleged difficulties polling in biracial
contests. That may be so. It also may be a smokescreen - a convenient foil for
pollsters who'd rather fault their respondents than own up to other
possibilities - such as their own failings in sampling and likely voter
Gary Langer, "New Hampshire's Polling
Fiasco," ABC News, January 9, 2008 ---
I think the answer is simple. Most "polls" are neither scientific nor unbiased.
In fairness, however, even unbiased pollsters are trying to take a snapshot of a
moving target. In New Hampshire the target moved pretty fast before the end of
the 2008 primary election.
Hurricane Katrina's victims have put a price tag on
their suffering and it is staggering — including one plaintiff seeking the
unlikely sum of $3 quadrillion. The total number — $3,014,170,389,176,410 — is
the dollar figure so far sought from some 489,000 claims filed against the
federal government over damage from the failure of levees and flood walls
following the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. Of the total number of claims, the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers said it has received 247 for at least $1 billion apiece,
including the one for $3 quadrillion.
MSNBC, January 9, 2008 ---
Win or lose, an awful lot of Louisiana lawyers will live in the lap of luxury.
This is not a victory lap that President Bush is
embarking upon this week, a journey set to take him to Egypt, Israel, the
Palestinian territories, the Saudi Kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab
Emirates. Mr. Bush by now knows the heartbreak and guile of that region. After
seven years and two big wars in that "Greater Middle East," after a campaign
against the terror and the malignancies of the Arab world, there will be no
American swagger or stridency. But Mr. Bush is traveling into the landscape and
setting of his own legacy. He is arguably the most consequential leader in the
long history of America's encounter with those lands. . . . Suffice it for them
that George W. Bush was at the helm of the dominant imperial power when the
world of Islam and of the Arabs was in the wind, played upon by ruinous
temptations, and when the regimes in the saddle were ducking for cover, and the
broad middle classes in the Arab world were in the grip of historical denial of
what their radical children had wrought. His was the gift of moral and political
clarity. In America and elsewhere, those given reprieve by that clarity, and
single-mindedness, have been taking this protection while complaining all the
same of his zeal and solitude. In his stoic acceptance of the burdens after
9/11, we were offered a reminder of how nations shelter behind leaders willing
to take on great challenges. We scoffed, in polite, jaded company when George W.
Bush spoke of the "axis of evil" several years back. The people he now journeys
amidst didn't: It is precisely through those categories of good and evil that
they describe their world, and their condition. Mr. Bush could not redeem the
modern culture of the Arabs, and of Islam, but he held the line when it truly
mattered. He gave them a chance to reclaim their world from zealots and enemies
of order who would have otherwise run away with it.
Fouad Ajami (Johns Hopkins
University), "Bush of Arabia: This U.S. president is the most
consequential the Middle East has ever seen," The Wall Street Journal,
January 8, 2008 ---
It is often said that the Bush administration's
effort to bring democracy to the Middle East wasn't so much a case of American
idealism as it was of hubris. That may yet prove true. But is it any less
hubristic to think the enterprise was ever going to be brought off without
blundering time and again? It's a thought that ought to weigh especially heavily
on Mr. Obama, dream candidate of America's great expectations.
Bret Stephens, "Great (American)
Expectations," The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2008; Page A20 ---
Half a cheer for Mrs. Clinton for sparing a thought
for "the Iraqis who sided with us." To our mind, this makes her preferable to
front-runner Barack Obama, who has said
that genocide of Iraqis would be better than a continued
U.S. presence . . . In other words, Mrs.
Clinton is halfway to acknowledging that her proposed retreat would likely leave
Iraq as either an anti-American state or a haven for anti-American terrorists.
It's hard to see how either outcome would leave America better off than it is
Opinion Journal, January 7, 2008
Don't look for fair and balanced election coverage in 2008 from NBC
Quoting another network reporter, NBC's Brian Williams
said today it's difficult to cover the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama
"NBC admits bias toward Obama," WorldNetDaily, January 8,
Elections May Make Candidates Ideologically Rigid Politicians want to assure
the electorate that they share the political leanings of voters. This attention
to the electoral process, says GSB Professor Kenneth Shotts, means that
politicians are more rigid and less likely to change their positions based on
new information, particularly when voters may not share that insight.
Research News, Stanford University, November 2007 ---
I'm afraid too many Democrats put both ideology and
partisan interests ahead of the national interest.
Senator Joe Lieberman to House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2008 ---
My sense is that Mr. Huckabee's good supporters
deserve a better leader. His next problem may be not so much New Hampshire as Ed
Rollins, the Reagan White House political aide who came in a week ago to manage
his campaign. Mr. Rollins began his tenure announcing to respectful young
reporters that he--"the grizzled veteran," the "old battler"--would like to sink
to his knees and "shoot Romney in the groin" and "punch his teeth out." Such
class is of course always welcome on the trail, but one senses the verbal ante
will constantly be upped, and I'm not sure that will work well for Mr. Huckabee.
Self inflated dirigibles, especially unmoored ones, can cast shadows on parades.
Peggy Noonan, "Out With the Old, In
With the New: Obama and Huckabee rise; Mrs. Clinton falls," The Wall
Street Journal, January 4, 2008 ---
US 'doomed' if creationist president elected: scientists
A day after ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee
finished first in the opening round to choose a Republican candidate for the
White House, scientists warned Americans against electing a leader who doubts
evolution. "The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same
logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious
energy policy issues because of global warming," University of Michigan
professor Gilbert Omenn told reporters at the launch of a book on evolution by
the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). "I would worry that a president who
didn't believe in the evolution arguments wouldn't believe in those other
arguments either. This is a way of leading our country to ruin," added Omenn,
who was part of a panel of experts at the launch of "Science, Evolution and
Creationism." Former Arkansas governor Huckabee said in a debate in May that he
did not believe in evolution.
"US 'doomed' if creationist president elected: scientists,"
PhysOrg, January 5, 2008 ---
A creationist might win the GOP nomination, but it would be awfully hard to get
top scientists to work with an Administration that denies evolution. It will
also be very difficult to win the general election with objections to abortion
and stem cell research. I suspect that a vote for such an extremist in the
primary is a vote for a loser in the general election. But then does the GOP
have any candidates with a chance in November 2008? The November 2008
presidential race is shaping up as a divisive race for the bottom.
The December "surprise" resulting from the
publication of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate disrupted fifteen years
of Israeli policy based on working with the international coalition to pressure
Iran to drop its nuclear weapons program through sanctions and the threat of
military action, and has reminded Israelis of the limits of American security
guarantees and strategic cooperation. * Within two weeks following publication
of the NIE report, China signed a major contract on energy development and
supply with Iran, and Russia quickly dispatched two shipments of nuclear fuel
for the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Egypt moved to improve relations with Iran, and
Saudi Arabia welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Mecca for the Haj . . .
In addition, the overall decline of U.S. influence, as reflected in Iraq, the
return of Russia as a world power, the chaos in Pakistan, and other
developments, has highlighted the limits of Israeli reliance on American
assistance, and the need for Israel to maintain an independent capability to act
Gerald M. Steinberg (Institute for
Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) as quoted on January
7, 2008 in an email from Naomi Ragen
Presidential candidate Barack Obama's maiden speech
to the pro-Israel lobby last week saw a man described by early supporters as an
ardent dove on Israel take flight as a bird of considerably more hawkish mien.
Obama, Illinois' Democratic junior senator, told the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last Friday that he was committed, above all else, to
"peace through security" for the Jewish state. It was a phrase that appeared
with variations repeatedly throughout the 30-minute speech, delivered according
to many in attendance in a stilted monotone curiously devoid of passion. The
more venerable formulation "land for peace" was nowhere to be found. Absent,
too, were any references to "settlements," "occupation" or "territorial
compromise" in a talk before a hometown Chicago audience of some 800 sponsored
by the pro-Israel lobby's Midwest region. While not surprising for a talk before
the pro-Israel lobby -- where such terms are usually few and far between -- some
found it surprising for a candidate known not too long ago to some as an
unabashed dove. "He was on the line of Peace Now," said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf,
of KAM Isaiah Israel, who lives across the street from Obama in the University
of Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park, one of the country's most liberal
electoral districts. "He was a moderate peacenik."
Rabbi Wolf, himself a longtime dove, said that today Obama is "very, very
cautious -- with AIPAC, excessively cautious."
Larry Cohler-Esses, The Jewish
Week, March 8, 2007 ---
Recently we were chatting with a left-leaning
friend, who dismissed Obama's chances on the ground that America will not elect
a black president. We don't believe it. If Obama's race is not a liability in
Iowa and New Hampshire, neither of which has a large black population, there is
no reason to think it would be a liability nationwide.
Opinion Journal, January 4, 2008
If Obama loses the general election in November 2008 it may well be that the
silent majority thinks it's just too scary picturing "a
moderate peacenik" wearing the cap of the
Commander and Chief of the U.S. Military in a dire crisis. Hillary may be
correct about her dovish opponents in this race for the Democratic nomination.
Obama is changing his dovish rhetoric when addressing the Jewish lobbies and
pledges his full support of Israel. But since Dennis Kucinich dropped out of the
race, I don't think there is a presidential candidate left in the race that has
not pledged support for Israel. In spite of his pro-Israel pledges, I
doubt that Obama can muster wide support of the "silent majority" in
favor of a strong U.S. military presence in the world. The sad part is that, if
Obama does lose his election bid, many in the world will blame it on racism. In
truth he's garnering some votes because America is trying to desperately prove
it's not racist. The underlying major reason for defeat may instead be Obama's
dovish past. But then again America in history has repeatedly elected presidents who hated war but fiercely and unexpectedly rose
to the occasion in times of crises. For example, JFK did not back down in
or Viet Nam (with
doubts). We even survived Jimmy Carter for four years, although Carter's bid for
a second term was cut short in large measure because he was unable to intimidate
Iran when it held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. Iran released all 52 U.S. hostages the minute
a more hawkish Ronald
Reagan took the oath of office. If Obama becomes Commander and Chief we may one
day discover that he really isn't at all like the pacifist Dennis Kucinich. The big question
at this juncture in time is whether the silent majority is willing to bet on
this unknown part of a very young and untested Senator Obama.
This is unfortunate. Saddam Hussein was one of the
worst and most dangerous dictators of the late 20th century. The basic
proposition of unseating him was hardly an unconscionable idea, even if
President Bush's approach to doing so was unilateralist, arrogant and careless.
With our last image of Saddam a resigned figure heading for the gallows, it is
easy to forget who this monster was. He had used chemical weapons against his
own defenseless people, as well as the armies of Iran; he violated 17 U.N.
Security Council resolutions that demanded his verifiable disarmament; he had
the blood of perhaps one million people on his hands; he transformed his country
into what Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya famously called the "republic of fear."
(Saddam's behavior didn't improve when we tried the kind of high-level diplomacy
Mr. Obama favors by sending envoys like Donald Rumsfeld and April Glaspie.)
Saddam's worst may have been behind him by 2003 -- but he was grooming his
sadistic sons Uday and Qusay as successors with unknowable consequences. His WMD
programs were in limbo, we now know. But before the war even German intelligence
thought him only half a dozen years from a nuclear weapon. Sanctions limited his
funds for military programs, but the sanctions were eroding fast in the years
before the invasion. Saddam's links to al Qaeda were overdramatized, but
Saddam's own record of atrocities against his own people, Iranians and Kuwaitis,
as well as his support for anti-Israeli terrorists, were heinous enough. Yet Mr.
Obama consistently accuses those who supported the war of political motivations
-- and unsavory ones at that. On Dec. 27, for example, Mr. Obama said in Des
Moines, Iowa, "You can't fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues
as profound as war and then offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to
chart a new and better course for America."
Machael O'Hanlon, "Obama and Iraq,"
The Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2008; Page A13 ---
John Edwards says that if elected president he would
withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police as part
of a broader plan to remove virtually all American forces within 10 months. Mr.
Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who is waging a populist
campaign for the Democratic nomination, said that extending the American
training effort in Iraq into the next presidency would require the deployment of
tens of thousands of troops to provide logistical support and protect the
advisers. "To me, that is a continuation of the occupation of Iraq," he said in
a 40-minute interview on Sunday aboard his campaign bus as it rumbled through
western Iowa. In one of his most detailed discussions to date about how he would
handle Iraq as president, Mr. Edwards staked out a position that would lead to a
more rapid and complete troop withdrawal than his principal rivals, Senators
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who have indicated they are open to
keeping American trainers and counterterrorism units in Iraq.
James Taranto, "The World's Smallest
Violin," January 2, 2008 ---
When in the Senate, John Edwards was originally a strong supporter of Iraq's
liberation. Now in his bid to become President he's willing pull all our troops
out of Iraq even if it entails returning Iraq to an explosive civil war or
surrendering to al-Qaeda. Is this what we really want after all this sacrifice?
Should he really be our Commander and Chief?
Perhaps the biggest factor contributing to rising
oil prices has been largely overlooked: the decline in the value of the dollar.
"Oil and the Dollar," The Wall Street Journal, January 4,
2008; Page A10 ---
Ironically, those that blame the Bush Administration for high oil prices may be
right for the wrong reasons. For nearly seven years, President Bush was a
spendthrift who never once vetoed lavish spending bills forwarded by Congress.
Nor did he crack down on billions upon billions lost to frauds. His reckless
fiscal policies contributed greatly to the plunging value of U.S. currency and
the soaring of oil prices for U.S. consumers. At this juncture Bush is probably
more to blame than China's increasing demand for oil. Another factor of course
has been the failure of his administration and the major oil companies to build
badly needed new refineries in the face of exploding demand for oil. Old oil
refineries are strained beyond capacity in the U.S.
I also want to address the issue of protecting
telecom companies from lawsuits. It's critical that Congress provide retroactive
liability protection for telecommunications companies, as a bipartisan bill from
the Senate Intelligence Committee does. Let me explain why this is important.
Over 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecommunication companies simply
because these companies are believed to have assisted our intelligence agencies
after the attacks of September 11th. The amounts of these claims -- which run
into the hundreds of billions of dollars; that's billions with a B -- are enough
to send any company into bankruptcy. These companies face lawsuits, they face
bankruptcy, they face loss of reputation, they face millions of dollars in legal
fees, all because they are alleged to have helped the government in obtaining
intelligence information after 9/11. Even if you believe the lawsuits will
ultimately be dismissed, as we do, the prospect of having to defend against
these massive claims is an enormous burden for the companies to bear. Not only
is the litigation itself costly, but the companies also may suffer significant
business and reputational harm as the result of the allegations against them --
allegations which may or may not be true, but to which they cannot publicly
respond, because they're not allowed to confirm or deny whether, and to what
extent, they provide classified assistance to the Government. . . .
Attorney General Michael Mukasey,
The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2008 ---
It's almost cynical how Congress made it somewhat easier to monitor
international telephone calls of terror cells but refuses to pass key
legislation to make it possible.
Retroactive liability protection will only be provided over the dead bodies of
Patrick Leahy, Presidential Candidate
(a trial lawyer loyal to his profession),
Olbermann, and the
ACLU. In the
meantime, the U.S. public has grown apathetic about terrorism since Al Qaeda had
no successful attacks on U.S. soil since over 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.
Public support liability protection will, however, become overwhelming when the next big
terror attack hits the U.S. The sad part is that the next big terror attack
might be prevented if legislation enabled telecommunications companies to
cooperate with the intelligence agencies.
new booklet from the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine
offers an overview of research on evolution and creationism, finding that the
former is sound science and the latter is anything but.
Evolution and Creationism”
many scientists, but its intended audience is the public, where debates continue
to flare. The booklet argues that religious faith and belief in evolution are
not mutually exclusive. But teaching creationist beliefs in the classroom is a
problem, the booklet says. “Teaching creationist ideas in science class confuses
students about what constitutes science and what does not,” the booklet says.
Inside Higher Ed, January 4, 2008 ---
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a woman who promised a
sperm donor he would not have to pay child support cannot renege on the deal.
The 3-2 decision overturns lower court rulings under which Joel L. McKiernan had
been paying up to $1,500 a month to support twin boys born in August 1994 to Ivonne V. Ferguson, his former girlfriend and co-worker . . . "It sounds like
the Pennsylvania court is trying to push a little harder into the brave new
world of sperm, egg and embryo donation as it's evolving," Caplan said.
McKiernan's lawyer, John W. Purcell Jr., said Wednesday an adverse decision
against his client would have jeopardized the entire system of sperm donation.
Mark Scalforo, "Sperm Donor Wins Case Over Child
Support," WTOPnews, January 3, 2008 ---
Mr. McCain's views on immigration and perhaps a
number of other issues may never win the approval of some of his strongest
supporters. But to those who have watched him these many years, that can't in
the end matter. They know who he is. Those differences likely won't matter in
New Hampshire, either, which he won the last time round. To hear him respond to
questions, as he did recently in a visit to The Wall Street Journal's offices,
is to grasp his command of events and policies, of security issues, of foreign
relations. It is to grasp, also, how nearly heartless seeming are any
comparisons between his authority on the issues, and those of his Republican
competitors. (That's not counting Democrat Barack Obama, whose stance against
terrorism, should he become president, will apparently consist largely of
antipoverty programs, reassuring the world of our peaceful intentions, and
attending Islamic Conferences.)
Dorothy Rabinowitz, "McCain's
Promise It is cruel to compare the senator to most of his Republican
competitors," The Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2008 ---
"Universal" health care is of course a major
Democratic issue, and Mr. Obama laid out a proposal in May, Mrs. Clinton in
September. Both plans create a public insurance option managed by the
government. Both plans impose more stringent regulations on insurance companies,
and both institute new taxes on business. The main substantive difference is
that Mrs. Clinton's plan would dictate that everyone have health insurance,
while Mr. Obama's would only require the coverage of children. This so-called
"individual mandate" has become the preferred liberal health policy tool after
Mitt Romney introduced it in Massachusetts. In theory, such a law would force
everyone to sign up for health insurance--either through their employers, a
private plan or a government option--or otherwise pay penalties.
"HillaryCare v. Obama The left's health-care spat," The Wall Street Journal,
January 7, 2008 ---
We should be wary of proposals that if
adopted would not reduce (and might increase) aggregate costs, but instead would
shift the costs to another class of payees, such as taxpayers (the Edwards plan
contemplates additional federal subsidies for health care, which are paid for
out of taxes) or future consumers of drugs.
Richard Posner (a famous
lawyer/economist), "The Reform of Health Care," The
Becker-Posner Blog, April 15, 2007 ---
Click Here for a great summary of the issues followed by many informed
Sicko Deatho in Europe
We live in an age of unprecedented medical innovation.
Unfortunately, most of today's cutting-edge research is conducted outside
Europe, which was once a pioneer in this field. About 78% of global
biotechnology research funds are spent in the U.S., compared to just 16% in
Europe. Americans therefore have better access to modern drugs. One result is
that in the U.S., the annual death rate from cancer is 196 per 100,000 people,
compared to 235 in Britain, 244 in France, 270 in Italy and 273 in Germany.
Daniele Capezzone, "Sicko Europe,
The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2007; Page A9 ---
The most frightening thing about universal health care is
increased opportunity for massive, I mean really massive, fraud
Link forwarded by Rose
"Blatant Medicare fraud costs taxpayers billions Officials say outrageous fraud
schemes are 'off the charts'," by Mark Potter, MSNBC, December 11, 2007
The answers were astounding. Congressman Dennis
Kucinich thinks that the top 1% of income earners earns about 60% of all income,
and he thinks that they pay about 15% of all income taxes. The fact is that the
top 1% of all income earners pull in about 18% of all income and pay 38.8% of
all income taxes. This is an astounding level of ignorance on such an important
statistic. You can excuse a mother of three loading up on Happy Meals for her
porky little kids at a McDonalds for not knowing this .. .but a member of the
Congress? Remember .. the Clinton tax increase passed the House of
Representatives by only one vote ... and Kucinich was there ... there without a
clue ... there voting for a tax increase on people he thought earned 60% of all
the income but were only paying 15% of all income taxes. Inexcusable.
Neal Boortz, "THE AMAZING DENNIS
KUCINICH (Neal Boortz interviews Dennis Kucinich)," Nuze, January 9, 2008
Supporters and critics of Indiana's law requiring
voters to show a photo ID at the polls square off in oral arguments before the
Supreme Court today. The heated rhetoric surrounding the case lays bare the
ideological conflict of visions raging over efforts to improve election
integrity. Supporters say photo ID laws simply extend rules that require
everyone to show such ID to travel, enter federal office buildings or pick up a
government check. An honor system for voting, in their view, invites potential
fraud. That's because many voting rolls are stuffed with the names of dead
people and duplicate registrations--as recent scandals in Washington state and
Missouri involving the activist group ACORN attest.
"Voter-Fraud Showdown: How can anyone object to asking for
ID?" The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2008 ---
Rush Limbaugh’s detractors never learn. They’ve
tried everything to come between Rush and his more than 20 million listeners,
intending to destroy his appeal and impact. But it’s a hopeless, almost
laughable endeavor. They led boycotts against his advertisers -- yet his show
continues to generate more revenue than any other on radio. They pressured his
affiliates to drop his program, but he’s still heard on more than 600 stations
-- more than any other talk host. They tried to keep him off Armed Forces Radio,
of course, but he has the most popular program on the military’s radio network.
Try as they might, the Rush-haters cannot silence him, or persuade his massive
audience to tune him out. After two decades as the top talk host in the nation,
his ratings are stronger than ever. He is more popular and influential than
ever. And yet, the Rush-haters persist. Their favorite tactic is to twist Rush’s
on-air remarks to make them fit their stereotypes and to advance their political
Mark R. Levin, "Man of the Year,"
Human Events, January 7, 2008 ---
I'm not a big Rush Limbaugh fan. But in America he should be allowed to say his
piece for the hard right just as we allow Keith Oberman (MSNBC), Michael Moore,
Nancy Pelosi, Jon Stewart, and most Hollywood stars to say their pieces for the hard left. At
least Rush is not trying to squelch the hard left. In fact he thrives on it. It
seems unfair to use tactics to silence him entirely.
These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these
days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had
before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do
something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to
quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don't move at all,
then their allies will line up against us and there'll be no way of stopping
them, we'll lose the filibuster and there'll be no way of putting a brake on all
sorts of wild legislation. It'll be Reconstruction all over again.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th
President of the United States, As quoted by Bruce Bartlett, "Whitewash:
The racist history the Democratic Party wants you to forget," The Wall Street
Journal, January 9, 2008 ---
Having the means and the will to spread monolithic
thought that shapes and molds the beliefs of the masses is a power long sought
throughout history. The only way it could get better is if left-leaning
newspapers and networks got together to then "poll" the American people on the
one-sided news they offered them with regard to the war and the Bush
administration. Well, things are much better. In a medium that basically polices
itself, offering slanted news and then "polling" such myopic information is the
norm for many. While a majority of journalists may still consider such conduct
unprofessional, dangerous and diametrically opposed to the best interests of
readers and viewers, none can deny that it is not a part of their industry. As
an example, any independent study of the media during the past few years will
show an almost obsessive need to promote exclusively negative stories about
Iraq. We have been told of the "horrible misconduct" of our soldiers at Abu
Ghraib prison, the possible "atrocities" committed by our troops at Haditha,
that al-Qaida was overrunning the country, that this was the "deadliest day,"
"deadliest week," "deadliest month" and "deadliest year" of the war, that the
war was "lost," and finally, that the "surge" (meaning our troops) — would fail.
Iraq, and a strong dislike of this president by many journalists, seem to have
caused some to compromise their profession and their principles. Lest we forget,
Abu Ghraib, which some former Pentagon colleagues told me was nothing more than
a reprehensible "fraternity prank," — was on our front pages and on our networks
for weeks or months. By comparison, how much coverage did the capture, torture,
physical mutilation and execution of some of our troops at the hands of the
insurgents get? How many U.S. troops were killed by al-Qaida and other
terrorists whipped into a frenzy by the nonstop showing of the Abu Ghraib photos
Douglas MacKinnon, "U.S. Military
Defeats Fourth Estate," Town Hall, January 7, 2008 ---
The anguished relationship between the military and
the news media appears to be on the mend as battlefield successes from the troop
increase in Iraq are reflected in more upbeat news coverage. Efforts from the
new Pentagon leadership, as well as by top commanders at the headquarters in
Baghdad, have also eased tensions between reporters and those in uniform.
Positive or negative, the troops’ view of the news media is set as much by the
tone of commanders as by the tenor of individual news clips.
Thom Shanker, The New York Times,
January 7, 2008 ---
After her death, Ms Bhutto has emerged as an icon of
secularism and modernity in the Islamic world, a courageous political leader and
a champion democrat, a champion of women’s rights, and a fighter against the
Jihadists. Her death has been compared to Gandhi’s and her political struggle to
Aung San Suu Kyi’s. She was going to replace the rogue dictatorship of President
Musharraf to institute democracy and secularism in Pakistan. In a thoughtful
analysis, however, it turns out that the majority of these epithets bestowed on
her career and legacy are not accurate. Her most devastating action, not only
for Pakistan but also for the whole world, was her patronization of the Taliban
militia in Afghanistan and fueling of separatist Jihad in Kashmir. It is not
right to put all the blame on her for the support that the Taliban and Kashmiri
militants received during her tenure as Prime Minister (PM), because Pakistan
intelligence services (ISI) and the military are too powerful for the PM to call
the shot alone. Yet, she must accept her share of eager complicity.
Alamgir Hussain, "Benazir Bhutto: In
Life and Death, a Blessing to the Jihadists," Islam Watch, January 7,
Baitullah Mehsud is being blamed for most of the
suicide bombings in Pakistan, including Benazir Bhutto's assassination. The rise
of a militant leader. How do you track down a foe without a face? That is the
challenge posed by Baitullah Mehsud, the man who could well be the newest Enemy
No. 1 in the War on Terror. Since he first emerged as a young jihadist leader
three years ago, the black-bearded and slow-talking tribal leader has
transformed his Mehsud clan's mountainous badlands in the northwest corner of
Pakistan into a safe haven for Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban and outlawed
Pakistani jihadists. Though uneducated, and only in his mid-30s, Baitullah
snookered Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf into a fake peace deal two years
ago—and even got him to hand over a few hundred thousand dollars. Just as
important, Baitullah has learned the hard lessons of previous jihadists who grew
too enamored of the spotlight for their own good. According to Afghan Taliban
who know him, he travels in a convoy of pickups protected by two dozen heavily
armed guards, he rarely sleeps in the same bed twice in a row, and his face has
never been photographed. They say his role model is Mullah Mohammed Omar, the
equally mysterious Taliban leader who disappeared from view in 2001.
Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau,
"Al Qaeda’s Newest Triggerman," Newsweek, January 14, 2008 ---
Does Iran really want to provoke a war with the U.S. in this election year?
Watch the video ---
Good News for Accounting Graduates: Hiring Outlook Remains Strong in 2008
College Business Students Cite Career Opportunities, Not Money, as Top
Criteria for Choosing Employer ---
Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers are at
Should you share your knowledge on YouTube?
"Thanks to YouTube, Professors Are Finding New Audiences," Jeffrey R.
Young, Inside Higher Ed, January 9, 2008 ---
One Web site that opened this week,
hopes to be "a YouTube for ideas." The site offers
interviews with academics, authors, politicians, and other thinkers. Most of
the subjects are filmed in front of a plain white background, and the
interviews are chopped into bite-sized pieces of just a few minutes each.
The short clips could have been served up as text quotes, but Victoria R. M.
Brown, co-founder of Big Think, says video is more engaging. "People like to
learn and be informed of things by looking and watching and learning," she
YouTube itself wants to be a venue for academe. In
the past few months, several colleges have signed agreements with the site
to set up official "channels." The University of California at Berkeley was
the first, and the University of Southern California, the University of New
South Wales, in Australia, and Vanderbilt University soon followed.
It remains an open question just how large the
audience for talking eggheads is, though. After all, in the early days of
television, many academics hoped to use the medium to beam courses to living
rooms, with series like CBS's Sunrise Semester. which began in 1957.
Those efforts are now a distant memory.
Things may be different now, though, since the
Internet offers a chance to connect people with the professors and topics
that most interest them.
Even YouTube was surprised by how popular the
colleges' content has been, according to Adam Hochman, a product manager at
Berkeley's Learning Systems Group. Lectures are long, after all, while most
popular YouTube videos run just a few minutes. (Lonelygirl, the diary of a
teenage girl, had episodes that finished in well under a minute. Many other
popular shorts involve cute animals or juvenile stunts). Yet some lectures
on Berkeley's channel scored 100,000 viewers each, and people were sitting
through the whole talks. "Professors in a sense are rock stars," Mr. Hochman
concludes. "We're getting as many hits as you would find with some of the
big media players."
YouTube officials insist that they weren't
surprised by the buzz, and they say that more colleges are coming forward.
"We expect that education will be a vibrant category on YouTube," said
Obadiah Greenberg, strategic partner manager at YouTube, in an e-mail
interview. "Everybody loves to learn."
To set up an official channel on YouTube, colleges
must sign an agreement with the company, though no money changes hands. That
allows the colleges to brand their section of the site, by including a logo
or school colors, and to upload longer videos than typical users are
The company hasn't exactly made it easy to find the
academic offerings, though. Clicking on the education category shows a mix
of videos, including ones with babes posing in lingerie and others on the
lectures of Socrates. But that could change if the company begins to sign up
more colleges and pay more attention to whether videos are appearing in the
correct subject areas, says Dan Colman, director and associate dean of
Stanford University's continuing-studies program, who runs a
tracking podcasts and videos made by colleges and
In many cases, the colleges were already offering
the videos they are putting on YouTube on their own Web sites, or on Apple's
iTunes U, an educational section of the iTunes Store. But college officials
say that teaming up with YouTube is greatly expanding their audiences
because so many people are poking around the service already.
Continued in article
BigThink: YouTube for Scholars (where intellectuals may post their
lectures on societal issues) ---
TED: Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures ---
UC Berkeley and other major universities now offer hundreds of courses on
January 9, 2008 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University
Here's another question: I notice that education
academics are poo-poo'ing the "lecture" delivery methodology (in favor of
"active learning", "participatory education", "learner physical engagement",
etc.), but education *practitioners* are exponentially snowballing the
production of "sit down and watch me"-type of passive "entertainment"
Could it be that accounting is not the only domain
with a disconnect between academics and practitioners?
Just a thought. ;-)
Having suffered through raising a terribly
attention-deficit child (and we know with certainty the early-childhood
cause of this particular case), I can't help but marvel at how the short
video clips (sound bites?) are catering to the learning styles of the
present hyperactive generation of learners. --- This begs another question:
Since much of human progress has resulted from in-depth understanding which
requires longer-term periods of study and contemplation for full
comprehension and synthesis, what long-term impact will the present ubiquity
of these "attention-deficit-reinforcing" delivery mechanisms have on the
development of intellect in the upcoming generation?
Will there be an evolutionary morphosis in the
process of human thought, some kind of change we haven't thought about or
foreseen, where human intellect might no longer require lengthy periods of
"gearing up mentally" in order to understand and comprehend and analyze and
synthesize complex ideas and thoughts?
Just a few musings by an old grey-haired has-been
who still enjoys sitting down in an easy chair and spending an hour or two
at a time with a printed book, and who just yesterday got really irritated
(privately) with a grad student who complained bitterly about the length of
a 17-page paper whose reading is required for next-week's class.
PBGH Faculty Fellow
James Madison University School of Accounting
January 9, 2008 reply from Stacy A. Kostenbauer
As I read through the various emails regarding
YouTube and Professors sharing their knowledge on YouTube, from a student
perspective and my own learning style, I really like the lecture standpoint
with the printed material because that is my style of learning. I wanted to
respond to you because I wanted to let you know I still have to 'gear up
mentally' for absolutely everything in regards to my studies and lectures
and print material help me with that.
I attended my first accounting class on Monday and
the Professor did a wonderful job with visual graphic organizers, the
lecture, the power point, he included students in the discussion and I
learned so much in a short amount of time, that for me, I question I could
learn that from a 'clip.' Maybe my own human intellect could evolve and I
could adapt to a new learning style? It has yet to be seen, because even
taking classes online for me is so futuristic!
I appreciated your comments, thanks very much,
January 9, 2008 reply from Richard J. Campbell
Bob: If you do a search on
for "campbell79" you will see an accounting video I
put up a year ago on the basic accounting equation - it has over 9,000 hits.
When I have time, google has an adsense program in which I can monetize that
content by inserting ads.
Do a search for "susancrosson". She has a number of
January 9, 2008 reply from Steven Hornik
With respect to your inquiry about short video clips and the potential
consequences. I have found that when I moved my lectures online, I
deliberately made them short, to cover just one or two main concepts. So
that a lecture that covers financial accounting transactions that might have
taken 1.5 hours or so in a traditional setting, can now be broken down into
4-5 shorter lectures.
In my experience students have a hard time concentrating for 1.5 hours on
accounting topics - I'm not the best lecturer, but the material isn't all
that stimulating at times either. So I tell my students when you can find
20 minutes of uninterrupted time, watch one of the lectures - give it your
undivided attention. Do this once a day if you have to and then by the end
of the week they will have listened/watched the entire lecture.
I'm not sure if this is reinforcing short attention spans or not, but I
think it provides students a much better way to concentrate on the
material. Then after watching a short video, they can spend quality time
thinking about the lecture, doing problems, etc. It's this time, the
working with the concepts, that to me seems the most important.
Just my 2 cents,
Dr. Steven Hornik
University of Central Florida
Dixon School of Accounting
Second Life: Robins Hermano
yahoo ID: shornik
January 9, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen
You’ve just hit on the main comparative advantage of
asynchronous/hypermedia learning (in which video can play a major part).
Learners may focus on material when they are prepared to concentrate and
replay material over and over that they did not master in previous attempts.
made the video more interesting by making lectures much more than video of
It really helps to have variable speed video to increase the efficiency
of the asynchronous learning process. Probably the greatest experiment of
this for all time can be found in the year-long basic accounting courses at
Brigham Young University (BYU) where virtually all technical matters in
basic accounting are learned asynchronously on video with the possible (but
not required) supplemental help from a textbook.
Much of the absolutely tremendous experimental work on asynchronous
learning (including BYU links on variable speed video) can be found at
If you want to go on YouTube, how should you make your videos?
I recommend featuring computer screens that you narrate using Camtasia ---
However, you can also get a digital video camera. I suggest that professors
consult their media departments on campus.
What is the new YouTube for Intellectuals?
"'YouTube for Intellectuals' Goes Live," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of
Higher Education, January 8, 2008 ---
'YouTube for Intellectuals' Goes Live Amy Gutmann,
president of the University of Pennsylvania, talks about the importance of
racial, socioeconomic, and religious diversity at colleges in a
video on bigthink,
a new Web site that is meant to be a YouTube for intellectuals. In addition
to featuring academics, the site includes one- to two-minute videos from
politicians, artists, and business people.
According to an
article in Monday’s New York Times, the site was
started by Peter Hopkins, a 2004 graduate of Harvard University. He said he
hopes bigthink becomes popular among college students. David Frankel, a
venture capitalist, put up most of the money for the enterprise. Lawrence H.
Summers, a former president of Harvard, has invested tens of thousands of
dollars as well.
Bob Jensen's video search helpers are at
January 9, 2008 reply from Joseph Brady
Judging from my quick scan this morning, this site
is not very much like YouTube, but the topics do look interesting.
"The Internet Refrigerator: Back from the Dead? Whirlpool unveils
fridge with attachable modules for a laptop and other electronic devices,"
PC World via The Washington Post, January 7, 2008 ---
The world of ubiquitous computing is the wave of the future in technology. My
threads on ubiquitous computing are at
From Stanford University
How to shop for the cell phone that's right for you ---
New Office for Macs Speeds Up Programs, Integrates Formats
Despite the fierce rivalry between Microsoft and Apple,
there is one product on which the two companies work closely together: the
Macintosh version of Microsoft Office. Microsoft makes a nice chunk of change
from this software suite, which includes Mac versions of the famous Word, Excel
and PowerPoint programs. Apple needs the Microsoft office suite so its Macintosh
computers can live in harmony with the dominant Windows world. On Jan. 15,
Microsoft will be releasing its first new version of Office for the Mac in
nearly four years. It is called Office 2008, and it has two big changes from the
current version, Office 2004.
Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2008 ---
Multinational Corporation Social Responsibility Paradox
Multinational corporations are in a quandary: Stakeholders are imposing higher
standards than ever, but businesses are confused about what their global social
responsibilities actually are.
"The Responsibility Paradox," by Gerald F. Davis, Marina V.N. Whitman, and Mayer
N. Zald , Stanford University, Winter 2008 ---
"Ten Best (News) Stories of 2008," by Paul Ibrahim, North Star Writers
Group, January 7, 2008 ---
10. Burj Dubai becomes the world’s tallest
This story presents dual reasons to cheer. First, it represents the power of
free trade and the global economy in improving technology and humanity’s
standard of living. Second, it demonstrates the ability of capitalism to
modernize Muslim countries such as the United Arab Emirates, incorporate
their economies into the global economy and eliminate the need for their
poor and destitute to resort to radicalism and terror.
09. Coburn and DeMint fight big spenders:
As they did under the Republican majority, Senators Tom Coburn and Jim
DeMint heroically stood up to big spenders and porkers under the Democratic
majority in the Senate. They understand that the Republicans lost Congress
because of their betrayal of small government principles, and along with
some colleagues in the House, they have every intention of taking back the
GOP for fiscal conservatives.
08. Bush stands up to the Democrats:
After years of overseeing increased spending and a widening budget deficit,
President Bush finally found the fiscal conservative in him and went on a
veto spree. It hasn’t accomplished as much as one would hope, but it did
slow down the Democrats’ campaign to continue government enlargement.
Predictably, Bush also held his ground on Iraq, which left nothing going
right for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
07. Sarkozy elected president of France: The
obvious good news for Americans here is President Nicolas Sarkozy’s
unabashed admiration of American principles. Perhaps the most notable of the
many pro-American leaders recently elected by the world’s greatest
democracies, Sarkozy represents a new era of Western cooperation in
combating the threats of the 21st Century. This is not to mention his
significant, however imperfect, adoption of pro-growth policies that are
bound to boost France’s lagging economy.
06. Scientists find stem cell alternatives:
One study found that stem cells are in abundant supply in amniotic fluid,
and another team of scientists reported that they are able to reprogram
easily available human cells into ones that behave just like stem cells.
These supplement previous studies showing the effectiveness of stem cells
derived from umbilical cords. If these new avenues are pursued, as they
should be, the embryonic stem cell debate becomes moot (barring political
incentives to the contrary).
05. Comprehensive Immigration Act crashes:
Passionate phone calls and letters flooded Senate offices as Republican and
Democratic senators prepared to offer illegal immigrants amnesty with
President Bush’s support. In the end, common sense succeeded and the bill
failed. Though immigrants have been and will continue to be vital to
America’s success (I am one myself), granting amnesty to illegal immigrants
will incentivize more illegal immigration, lead to national security
problems and remain fundamentally unfair to those who have and are waiting
in line to get into the country legally.
04. Supreme Court upholds partial-birth abortion
Virtually every legitimate poll shows that most Americans are opposed to
partial-birth abortion. This is no surprise. The “procedure” involves
partially pulling an often viable baby out of the mother feet first, and
subsequently inserting instruments that suck his/her brains out, crushing
the skull. Legislation to ban partial-birth abortion was twice vetoed by
Bill Clinton, and finally signed by President Bush in 2003. Further delays
in the courts caused the law’s constitutionality to be upheld as late as
2007, but it is certainly better late than never.
03. Economy remains strong:
Contrary to the media’s warnings of an inevitable recession, which they have
been predicting since the last recession, 2007 proved to be yet another good
year for the economy. The unemployment rate remained at historically low
levels as the economy added jobs for a record-breaking 52 consecutive
months. Gross Domestic Product continued its strong growth – the third
quarter of 2007 showed a 4.9 percent growth in GDP, which is almost like
adding the entire economy of Australia to the United States. Inflation
continues to be low. The fact that the economy has been able to withstand
high oil prices and the bursting housing bubble shows, if anything,
resilience and solidity.
02. America is not attacked by terrorists:
If the United States was attacked in 2007, who would have been blamed for
it? It would take about five seconds for pundits to talk about how the
administration failed to protect the country, was distracted by Iraq, blah
blah blah. So why shouldn’t the administration get credit for keeping the
country safe? We know for a fact that there were several terrorist plots
against America that were foiled, so it wasn’t a coincidence either.
Considering that the world’s major terrorists have their sights set on the
United States and are actively trying to destroy it, the fact that we have
not been attacked is one of the greatest stories of 2007 and the years
01. Success in Iraq:
The progress seen in 2007 on the ground in Iraq is nothing short of
remarkable. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the Iraq War
“lost,” our troops responded by showing they can win despite stabs to their
morale by their elected leaders. Thanks to the 21,000 surge troops, and to
those already on the ground, the United States is clearly winning the
foremost battle in the global war on terror. These men and women have made
"Ten Worst Stories of 2007," by Paul Ibrahim, North Star Writers
Group, December 31, 2007 ---
Microsoft Corp. changed course on an update to Office 2003 that blocked
certain older file types from opening, after receiving a flurry of criticism
from users and online publications.
"Microsoft Simplifies File Format Fix," by Jessica Mintz, PhysOrg,
January 5, 2008 ---
Office 2003 Service Pack 3, a free package of
updates and fixes released in September, blocked users from opening files
created by older versions of Word, Excel and Power Point - mostly programs
launched in 1995 and earlier. The change also kept users from opening some
files made in Corel Corp.'s CorelDraw.
Microsoft said opening the legacy file formats
poses a security risk, and shut down easy access to the same older file
types when it launched Office 2007.
For people who wanted to read the old files, the
software maker built a workaround into Office 2007 that lets them open files
they have stashed in a specific folder.
But the software maker devised a more complicated
workaround for Office 2003 SP3 that involved modifying a user's PC's
registry - a crucial directory of settings the average computer user rarely
On Slashdot, a technology news and discussion site,
more than 500 people logged comments about the issue this week. Some railed
against what they saw as a way for the software maker to force people to
spend money on new software, while others complained that Microsoft's
security explanation wasn't accurate.
Microsoft took heed, and Friday unveiled a simpler
way for people to unblock the older file types.
Continued in article
File Extension Listings ---
Filename Extensions ---
Learn more about file extensions (those three letters at the end of computer
file names) ---
Corruption, whether in government or in private industry, serves as a serious
drag on a nation's wealth and creates a less favorable climate for business,
says GSB Professor Ernesto Dal Bó. For one thing, corruption swells the number
of employees needed, driving up costs and sidetracking workers from jobs that
could help grow an economy.
Research News, Stanford University, December 2007 ---
"The Government Is Wasting Your Tax Dollars! How Uncle Sam spends nearly
$1 trillion of your money each year," by Ryan Grim with Joseph K. Vetter,
Readers Digest, January 2008, pp. 86-99 ---
Cheating Shows. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that the annual net
tax gap—the difference between what's owed and what's collected—is $290
billion, more than double the average yearly sum spent on the wars in Iraq
About $59 billion of that figure results from the
underreporting and underpayment of employment taxes. Our broken system of
immigration is another concern, with nearly eight million undocumented
workers having a less-than-stellar relationship with the IRS. Getting more
of them on the books could certainly help narrow that tax gap.
Going after the deadbeats would seem like an
obvious move. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn't have the resources to
adequately pursue big offenders and their high-powered tax attorneys. "The
IRS is outgunned," says Walker, "especially when dealing with multinational
corporations with offshore headquarters."
Another group that costs taxpayers billions: hedge
fund and private equity managers. Many of these moguls make vast "incomes"
yet pay taxes on a portion of those earnings at the paltry 15 percent
capital gains rate, instead of the higher income tax rate. By some
estimates, this loophole costs taxpayers more than $2.5 billion a year.
Oil companies are getting a nice deal too. The
country hands them more than $2 billion a year in tax breaks. Says Walker,
"Some of the sweetheart deals that were negotiated for drilling rights on
public lands don't pass the straight-face test, especially given current
crude oil prices." And Big Oil isn't alone. Citizens for Tax Justice
estimates that corporations reap more than $123 billion a year in special
tax breaks. Cut this in half and we could save about $60 billion.
The Tab* Tax Shortfall: $290 billion (uncollected
taxes) + $2.5 billion (undertaxed high rollers) + $60 billion (unwarranted
tax breaks) Starting Tab: $352.5 billion
2. Healthy Fixes.
Medicare and Medicaid, which cover elderly and low-income patients
respectively, eat up a growing portion of the federal budget. Investigations
by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) point to as much as $60 billion a year in fraud,
waste and overpayments between the two programs. And Coburn is likely
underestimating the problem.
The U.S. spends more than $400 per person on health
care administration costs and insurance -- six times more than other
That's because a 2003 Dartmouth Medical School
study found that up to 30 percent of the $2 trillion spent in this country
on medical care each year—including what's spent on Medicare and Medicaid—is
wasted. And with the combined tab for those programs rising to some $665
billion this year, cutting costs by a conservative 15 percent could save
taxpayers about $100 billion. Yet, rather than moving to trim fat, the
government continues such questionable practices as paying private insurance
companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans an average of 12 percent more
per patient than traditional Medicare fee-for-service. Congress is trying to
close this loophole, and doing so could save $15 billion per year, on
average, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Another money-wasting bright idea was to create a
giant class of middlemen: Private bureaucrats who administer the Medicare
drug program are monitored by federal bureaucrats—and the public pays for
both. An October report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform estimated that this setup costs the government $10 billion per year
in unnecessary administrative expenses and higher drug prices.
The Tab* Wasteful Health Spending: $60 billion
(fraud, waste, overpayments) + $100 billion (modest 15 percent cost
reduction) + $15 billion (closing the 12 percent loophole) + $10 billion
(unnecessary Medicare administrative and drug costs) Total $185 billion
Running Tab: $352.5 billion +$185 billion = $537.5 billion
3. Military Mad Money.
You'd think it would be hard to simply lose massive amounts of money, but
given the lack of transparency and accountability, it's no wonder that eight
of the Department of Defense's functions, including weapons procurement,
have been deemed high risk by the GAO. That means there's a high probability
that money—"tens of billions," according to Walker—will go missing or be
The DOD routinely hands out no-bid and cost-plus
contracts, under which contractors get reimbursed for their costs plus a
certain percentage of the contract figure. Such deals don't help hold down
spending in the annual military budget of about $500 billion. That sum is
roughly equal to the combined defense spending of the rest of the world's
countries. It's also comparable, adjusted for inflation, with our largest
Cold War-era defense budget. Maybe that's why billions of dollars are still
being spent on high-cost weapons designed to counter Cold War-era threats,
even though today's enemy is armed with cell phones and IEDs. (And that $500
billion doesn't include the billions to be spent this year in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Those funds demand scrutiny, too, according to Sen. Amy
Klobuchar, D-MN, who says, "One in six federal tax dollars sent to rebuild
Iraq has been wasted.")
Meanwhile, the Pentagon admits it simply can't
account for more than $1 trillion. Little wonder, since the DOD hasn't been
fully audited in years. Hoping to change that, Brian Riedl of the Heritage
Foundation is pushing Congress to add audit provisions to the next defense
If wasteful spending equaling 10 percent of all
spending were rooted out, that would free up some $50 billion. And if
Congress cut spending on unnecessary weapons and cracked down harder on
fraud, we could save tens of billions more.
The Tab* Wasteful military spending: $100 billion
(waste, fraud, unnecessary weapons) Running Tab: $537.5 billion + $100
billion = $637.5 billion
4. Bad Seeds.
The controversial U.S. farm subsidy program, part of which pays farmers not
to grow crops, has become a giant welfare program for the rich, one that
cost taxpayers nearly $20 billion last year.
Two of the best-known offenders: Kenneth Lay, the
now-deceased Enron CEO, who got $23,326 for conservation land in Missouri
from 1995 to 2005, and mogul Ted Turner, who got $590,823 for farms in four
states during the same period. A Cato Institute study found that in 2005,
two-thirds of the subsidies went to the richest 10 percent of recipients,
many of whom live in New York City. Not only do these "farmers" get money
straight from the government, they also often get local tax breaks, since
their property is zoned as agricultural land. The subsidies raise prices for
consumers, hurt third world farmers who can't compete, and are attacked in
international courts as unfair trade.
The Tab* Wasteful farm subsidies: $20 billion
Running Tab: $637.5 billion + $20 billion = $657.5 billion
5. Capital Waste.
While there's plenty of ongoing annual operating waste, there's also a
special kind of profligacy—call it capital waste—that pops up year after
year. This is shoddy spending on big-ticket items that don't pan out. While
what's being bought changes from year to year, you can be sure there will
always be some costly items that aren't worth what the government pays for
Take this recent example: Since September 11, 2001,
Congress has spent more than $4 billion to upgrade the Coast Guard's fleet.
Today the service has fewer ships than it did before that money was spent,
what 60 Minutes called "a fiasco that has set new standards for
incompetence." Then there's the Future Imagery Architecture spy satellite
program. As The New York Times recently reported, the technology flopped and
the program was killed—but not before costing $4 billion. Or consider the
FBI's infamous Trilogy computer upgrade: Its final stage was scrapped after
a $170 million investment. Or the almost $1 billion the Federal Emergency
Management Agency has wasted on unusable housing. The list goes on.
The Tab* Wasteful Capital Spending: $30 billion
Running Tab: $657.5 billion + $30 billion = $687.5 billion
6. Fraud and Stupidity.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants the Social Security Administration to
better monitor the veracity of people drawing disability payments from its
$100 billion pot. By one estimate, roughly $1 billion is wasted each year in
overpayments to people who work and earn more than the program's rules
The federal Food Stamp Program gets ripped off too.
Studies have shown that almost 5 percent, or more than $1 billion, of the
payments made to people in the $30 billion program are in excess of what
they should receive.
One person received $105,000 in excess disability
payments over seven years.
There are plenty of other examples. Senator Coburn
estimates that the feds own unused properties worth $18 billion and pay out
billions more annually to maintain them. Guess it's simpler for bureaucrats
to keep paying for the property than to go to the trouble of selling it.
The Tab* General Fraud and Stupidity: $2 billion
(disability and food stamp overpayment) Running Tab: $687.5 billion + $2
billion = $689.5 billion
7. Pork Sausage.
Congress doled out $29 billion in so-called earmarks—aka funds for
legislators' pet projects—in 2006, according to Citizens Against Government
Waste. That's three times the amount spent in 1999. Congress loves to deride
this kind of spending, but lawmakers won't hesitate to turn around and drop
$500,000 on a ballpark in Billings, Montana.
The most infamous earmark is surely the "bridge to
nowhere"—a span that would have connected Ketchikan, Alaska, to nearby
Gravina Island—at a cost of more than $220 million. After Hurricane Katrina
struck New Orleans, Senator Coburn tried to redirect that money to repair
the city's Twin Span Bridge. He failed when lawmakers on both sides of the
aisle got behind the Alaska pork. (That money is now going to other projects
in Alaska.) Meanwhile, this kind of spending continues at a time when our
country's crumbling infrastructure—the bursting dams, exploding water pipes
and collapsing bridges—could really use some investment. Cutting two-thirds
of the $29 billion would be a good start.
The Tab* Pork Barrel Spending: $20 billion Running
Tab: $689.5 billion + $20 billion = $709.5 billion
8. Welfare Kings.
Corporate welfare is an easy thing for politicians to bark at, but it seems
it's hard to bite the hand that feeds you. How else to explain why corporate
welfare is on the rise? A Cato Institute report found that in 2006,
corporations received $92 billion (including some in the form of those farm
subsidies) to do what they do anyway—research, market and develop products.
The recipients included plenty of names from the Fortune 500, among them
IBM, GE, Xerox, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company, DuPont and Johnson &
The Tab* Corporate Welfare: $50 billion Running
Tab: $709.5 billion + $50 billion = $759.5 billion
9. Been There,
Done That. The Rural Electrification Administration, created during the New
Deal, was an example of government at its finest—stepping in to do something
the private sector couldn't. Today, renamed the Rural Utilities Service,
it's an example of a government that doesn't know how to end a program. "We
established an entity to electrify rural America. Mission accomplished. But
the entity's still there," says Walker. "We ought to celebrate success and
get out of the business."
In a 2007 analysis, the Heritage Foundation found
that hundreds of programs overlap to accomplish just a few goals. Ending
programs that have met their goals and eliminating redundant programs could
comfortably save taxpayers $30 billion a year.
The Tab* Obsolete, Redundant Programs: $30 billion
Running Tab: $759.5 billion + $30 billion = $789.5 billion
10. Living on Credit.
Here's the capper: Years of wasteful spending have put us in such a deep
hole, we must squander even more to pay the interest on that debt. In 2007,
the federal government carried a debt of $9 trillion and blew $252 billion
in interest. Yes, we understand the federal government needs to carry a
small debt for the Federal Reserve Bank to operate. But "small" isn't how we
would describe three times the nation's annual budget. We need to stop
paying so much in interest (and we think cutting $194 billion is a good
target). Instead we're digging ourselves deeper: Congress had to raise the
federal debt limit last September from $8.965 trillion to almost $10
trillion or the country would have been at legal risk of default. If that's
not a wake-up call to get spending under control, we don't know what is.
The Tab* Interest on National Debt: $194 billion
Final Tab: $789.5 billion + $194 billion = $983.5 billion
What YOU Can Do Many believe our system is
inherently broken. We think it can be fixed. As citizens and voters, we have
to set a new agenda before the Presidential election. There are three things
we need in order to prevent wasteful spending, according to the GAO's David
• Incentives for people to do the right thing.
• Transparency so we can tell if they've done
the right thing.
• Accountability if they do the wrong thing.
Two out of three won't solve our problems.
So how do we make it happen? Demand it of our
elected officials. If they fail to listen, then we turn them out of office.
With its approval rating hovering around 11 percent in some polls, Congress
might just start paying attention.
Start by writing to your Representatives. Talk to
your family, friends and neighbors, and share this article. It's in
The Most Criminal Class is Writing the Laws ---
Broken Promises and Pork Binges
The Democratic majority came to power in January promising to do a better job on
earmarks. They appeared to preserve our reforms and even take them a bit
further. I commended Democrats publicly for this action. Unfortunately, the
leadership reversed course. Desperate to advance their agenda, they began
trading earmarks for votes, dangling taxpayer-funded goodies in front of
wavering members to win their support for leadership priorities.
John Boehner, "Pork Barrel
Stonewall," The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2007 ---
Congressional earmarks for specific research and development
projects — long criticized as pork-barrel politics and a poor
way to finance science — were largely absent from 2007
appropriations bills, but are back and in a big way.
An analysis from the American
Association for the Advancement of Science found that Congress
included $4.5 billion in earmarks in 2008 appropriations bills —
much more than in previous years. Much of the increase, however,
is due to new budget rules that make many earmarks more visible
than they have been in the past, when they may not have been
Inside Higher Ed,
January 9, 2008 ---
"Earmarks Again Eat Into the Amount Available for Merit-Based Research,
Analysis Finds," by Jeffrey Brainard, Chronicle of Higher Education,
January 9, 2008 ---
After a one-year moratorium for most earmarks,
Congress resumed directing noncompetitive grants for scientific research to
favored constituents, including universities, this year, a new analysis
Spending for nondefense research fell by about
one-third in the 2008 fiscal year, compared with 2006, but the earmarked
money nevertheless ate into sums available for traditional, merit-reviewed
by the American Association for the Advancement of
In all, Congress earmarked $4.5-billion for 2,526
research projects in appropriations bills for 2008, according to the AAAS.
Legislators approved the measures in November and December, and President
Bush signed them.
More important, lawmakers increased spending for
earmarks in federal research-and-development programs by a greater amount
than they added to the programs for all purposes, the AAAS reported. That
will result in a net decrease in money available for nonearmarked research
grants, which federal agencies typically distributed based on merit and
For example, Congress added $2.1-billion to the
Pentagon's overall request for basic and applied research and for early
technology development, but lawmakers also specified an even-larger amount,
$2.2-billion, for earmarked projects in those same accounts.
For nondefense research projects, Congress showed
restraint in earmarking, providing only $939-million in the 2008 fiscal
year, which began in October. That was down from about $1.5-billion in 2006
and appeared to reflect a pledge by Congressional Democrats to reduce the
total number of earmarks.
For the Pentagon, total spending on research
earmarks of all kinds reached $3.5-billion, much higher than the
$911-million tallied by the AAAS in 2007. (Pentagon earmarks were among the
only kind financed by Congress that year.) However, the apparent increase
was largely the result of an accounting change: For 2008, Congress mandated
increased disclosure of earmarks, a change that especially affected the
tally of Pentagon earmarks, said Kei Koizumi, director of the association's
R&D Budget and Policy Program. Adjusting for that change, the total number
of Defense Department earmarks appears to have fallen in 2008, he said.
As in past years, lawmakers avoided earmarking
budgets for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science
Foundation, the two principal sources of federal funds for academic
research. The Departments of Energy and Agriculture were the most heavily
earmarked domestic research agencies. After being earmark-free for the first
years of its existence, the Department of Homeland Security got $82-million
in research-and-development earmarks for 2008.
The AAAS did not report how much of the earmarked
research money will go to colleges, but academic institutions have
traditionally gotten most of it. Some research earmarks go to corporations
and federal laboratories. In addition, many colleges obtain earmarks for
nonresearch projects, like renovating dormitories and classroom buildings,
but the AAAS does not track that spending.
Academic earmarks more than quadrupled from 1996 to
The Chronicle found. The practice is
controversial because some critics see it as circumventing peer review and
supporting projects of dubious quality. Supporters call earmarks the only
way to finance some types of worthy projects not otherwise supported by the
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
"Seven Problems of Online Group Learning (and Their Solutions)," by
Tim S. Roberts and Joanne M. McInnerney, Faculty of Business and Informatics,
Central Queensland University, Australia ---
Roberts, T. S., & McInnerney, J. M. (2007). Seven Problems of
Online Group Learning (and Their Solutions). Educational Technology & Society,
10 (4), 257-268.
The benefits of online collaborative learning, sometimes referred to as CSCL
(computer-supported collaborative learning) are compelling, but many
instructors are loath to experiment with non-conventional methods of
teaching and learning because of the perceived problems. This paper reviews
the existing literature to present the seven most commonly reported such
problems of online group learning, as identified by both researchers and
practitioners, and offers practical solutions to each, in the hope that
educators may be encouraged to “take the risk”.
Online collaborative learning, CSCL, Group learning, Group work, Free riders
Bob Jensen's threads on online and/or asynchronous learning are at
Scott's reflections on the trends of the Modern Language Association (MLA)
"The Hopped-Up Conference Hopper," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed,
January 8, 2008 ---
Once upon a
time, the question at MLA each year seemed to be, “Who
are the exciting new critical theorists, now?”
Then for a
while it became, “So why don’t there seem to be any exciting
new theoretical approaches?”
while, this mutated: “How much longer are we supposed to
wait? Hey, wasn’t this panel called ‘Can We Queer the
Subaltern Cyborg?’ also in the program for 1995?”
And then it
seemed like all anyone wanted to talk about was the job
crisis. In 2003, I recall hearing numerous references to an
essay in Social Text arguing that the Ph.D. in some
fields – for example, English – was a waste product of the
academic economy. Certain departments required a steady
influx of cheap labor, i.e. graduate students, to teach
lower-division classes. Their own coursework would
supposedly prepare Ph.D. candidates to be admitted into a
profession. But most of them would later, with degree in
hand, never find regular employment to teach.
not a failure of the system that could be corrected by
reducing the number of graduate students admitted, went
the argument. Rather, the system was working just fine.
Cheap labor was consumed, and the Ph.D.-holder was excreted,
and the bottom line was met.
from vague discussions of Bataille’s “general economy” to
hard-edged considerations of questions about academic labor
was certainly very striking. A few years earlier, people had
theorized about abjection. Now they seemed to be living it.
author of “The Waste Product of Graduate Education” was Marc
Bousquet, now an associate professor of English at Santa
Clara University, who has expanded the argument into
a new book called How the
University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation,
which does for academe what Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
did for breakfast sausage.
have traction outside the ranks of MLA. Some of the
grumbling heard during the American Historical Association
meeting in Washington, DC over the weekend suggests that
people in other fields may read it with a shock of
recognition. I had dinner recently with a historian who
said, more or less, “People refer to the crisis as one of
the ‘job market,’ but that’s misleading. Academic employment
isn’t a market in the literal sense.” As it happens, that is
one of Bousquet’s arguments — although the historian saying
it hadn’t heard of him or read his book.
the University Works has spawned
a blog of the same name that has
very quickly emerged as a prime venue for muckraking,
agitation, and YouTube interviews with known troublemakers.
In other words, it’s really good to see, and I urge you to
take a look.
Also recommended is Framing Theory’s Empire,
edited by John Holbo and
recently issued by Parlor Press.
It assembles several phases of a symposium, held at
in 2005, about the volume Theory’s Empire (Columbia
University Press, 2005) – which was, in turn, a kind of
rejoinder to The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism
other words, it is an anthology of responses to an anthology
intended to negate another anthology. Maybe it should have
on the cover?
In any case,
the book stands as a critique not so much of “Theory” (nor,
for that matter, of belletristic or neo-traditionalist
“anti-Theory”) as of the familiar routines by which certain
arguments have unfolded over the years. Instead of the usual
“complaint and rejoinder” mode, the exchange moves in an
altogether more shambolic and crabwise manner. That quality
reflects its origins in an online colloquy. The effort to
transfer the discussion from the blogosphere to book format
is not always successful. So much of the flow of online
discourse runs through the channels of direct linkage, while
a printed book involves very different sorts of
connectivity. Then again, it may be that the difference
between such modes of reading and writing will become ever
more salient for literary discussions as old-fashioned
debates over “Theory” fade into the background.
So I tried
to hint in an essay written to introduce the collection. A
copy of the book itself just arrived a few days ago. Some
degree of prejudice against print-on-demand publishing is
bound to continue for a while – but let me note for the
record that the finished product seems altogether
indistinguishable from any paperback from a traditional
by the way, cheaper to purchase Framing Theory’s Empire
directly from Parlor Press than via an online bookseller.
And you can
download the whole thing in PDF
single richest and most thought-provoking discussion of
reading (the kind of thing you do with books, as opposed to
other modes of “media consumption” now available) is
an essay by Caleb Crain that ran
last month in The New Yorker. Anyone can complain
about shrinking attention spans — or, conversely, pick tiny
holes in recent statistical claims about the decline of
literacy. Impressionistic muttering is easy. In “Twilight of
the Books,” Crain does something completely different. He
synthesizes a wide range of material on the history,
economics, and even the physiology of reading, and does so
with an elegance of understated effort.
surprise, that. I’ve envied his knack for doing so ever
since we were both writing for Lingua Franca (way
back when). An important difference now, however, is that —
whatever his misgivings about “new media” — Crain is able to
supplement the polished final product with a set of blog
entries on the sources he consulted. Items such as
“Is Literacy Declining?” and
“Does Television Impair Intellect?”
amount to valuable bibliographical
essays in their own right.
happens, the latest Cliopatria Awards name Caleb Crain as
“Best Writer” of 2007 for his blog
Steamboats Are Ruining Everything.
So I learned last Friday, during the Cliopatria banquet held
amidst the American Historical Association, when presiding
eminence Ralph Luker circulated the final list around the
entirely sure if this recollection was for real, or if the
cough medicine were just acting up, I checked the
formal announcement and see that
it reads: “The judges’ aim was to reward writing that is
well tailored to the history blogosphere, accessible,
memorable and consistently history-oriented. Caleb Crain is
always readable and thought-provoking; an engaging writer
who pays attention to the constraints of the blog format but
breaks them with style on occasion.” Quite right, and
congratulations to the recipient for an honor that certainly
Finally: “The Vietnam War is now as far in the past as
the Second World War was at the beginning of the Vietnam
War,” wrote Daniel Davies recently in a
at Crooked Timber. “There has, basically, been at least one
complete political and cultural generation turned over since
the 1960s. I therefore declare 2008 to be officially The
Year That We No Longer Have The 1960s To Blame. Making a
small exception for the purely demographic effects of the
Baby Boomers on economic and political issues of relevance,
any and all remaining social problems are our own fault.”
So what do
you say, everybody? Is it a deal? Can we move boldly into
the future by finding some other decade to complain about?
I’ve always tended to blame everything on the 1980s, myself,
but the last seven years almost make that look like a golden
Second Life is Not Always a Better Life
January 4, 2008 message from Steven Hornik
I surveyed my students at the end of the Fall
semester to get a sense of how they were using Second Life for my accounting
course. I had 125 responses. I've blogged about the results here:
* Second Life was difficult to use / required
* If Second Life were easier they would have used it more
* Students appreciated the ability to interact with each other and with
me (Social aspect #1 value)
* They watched lectures more then they interacted with 3-d content
I have more data that I'll be crunching in the next
few weeks, once I get Spring semester underway, but wanted to share this
with the list.
Dr. Steven Hornik
University of Central Florida
Dixon School of Accounting
Second Life: Robins Hermano
http://mydebitcredit.com yahoo ID: shornik
Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life are at
The history of Second Life is outlined at
"Second Life closes banks after months of scandals, virtual banks get an
eviction notice," MIT's Technology Review, January 10, 2008 ---
For months, as banking meltdowns in the virtual
world Second Life cost participants steep losses of real money, corporate
owner Linden Lab of San Francisco stuck to a laissez-faire line, essentially
saying, We just host the software; residents should avoid deals that sound
too good to be true. But this week, Linden Lab abruptly banned virtual banks
that can't furnish "proof of an applicable government registration statement
or financial institution charter." The requirement appears likely to shut
down all of Second Life's banks.
"There is no workable alternative," Linden Lab
wrote in an
announcement posted Tuesday. "The so-called banks
are not operated, overseen or insured by Linden Lab, nor can we predict
which will fail or when. And Linden Lab isn't, and can't start acting as, a
banking regulator." The company wrote that "these 'banks' have brought
unique and substantial risks to Second Life, and we feel it's our duty to
step in. Offering unsustainably high interest rates, they are in most cases
doomed to collapse--leaving upset 'depositors' with nothing to show for
their investments. As these activities grow, they become more likely to lead
to destabilization of the virtual economy."
A Linden Lab spokesman said that the company was
not offering further interviews or comment on the decision or its timing.
The about-face came six days after Technology
Review posted a story that described avatar losses and cited the
possibility that one virtual-bank meltdown may have produced aggregate
losses of some $700,000 in real money to many hundreds of Second Life
"residents" in a manner that would be illegal in the real world. (See
Fleecing of the Avatars.") "I think the timing may
well have been due to [that]story," says Ben Duranske, an Idaho lawyer who
has been closely following the complaints of Second Life participants.
Last year, some Second Life residents--subscribers
whose digital alter egos, or avatars, populate the virtual world--deposited
their virtual money, called Linden dollars, into a "bank" called Ginko
Financial that had popped up in-world, promising high interest rates. Last
summer, Ginko restricted withdrawals and eventually vanished. Since Linden
dollars can be exchanged for real U.S. dollars, the losses were painfully
real. (See "Money
Troubles in Second Life.") It is not clear who was
behind the Ginko operation.
Duranske yesterday posted this
blog entry praising the bank ban as a "positive
step that will save a lot of people a lot of unhappiness in the long run."
The policy, which pertains to in-world companies that offer transfers of
Linden dollars and payment of interest, takes effect January 22.
Robert Bloomfield, a Cornell University economist
and virtual-world watcher who had argued that self-regulation deserved a
chance to fix Second Life's financial problems, says he believes that banks
will face runs and be unable to pay depositors, triggering new losses.
Chance for Second Life.") But he says that the
larger Second Life economy, which by one recent measure has more than
300,000 participants, would not be profoundly affected because people will
still be able to make, buy, and sell digital goods and exchange virtual and
Yesterday, within Second Life, depositors appeared
to rush to withdraw money from remaining banks, such as Midas Bank and BCX
Bank, and some waved signs saying, "Linden Lab: Give Us Back Our Banks Now!"
By one account, avatars of bank owners gamely stood guard outside their
virtual institutions. "In a half-dozen of the largest banks, I saw the
owners, CEOs, and chief financial officers all standing in the foyers,
putting up notices and attempting to reassure their depositors. The bling!
The prim hair! One man even wore white gloves," wrote Prokofy Neva (whose
real name is Catherine Fitzpatrick) in her
Bloomfield is hosting a forum on the matter in
Second Life today at 2:00 p.m.; the forum can be found
One open question, Bloomfield says, is whether the ban would pertain not
just to banks but to stock-market exchanges that have also popped up in
Second Life. Linden Lab declined to participate in the forum, Bloomfield
The history of Second Life is outlined at
(Especially note the sections on real estate, businesses, and organizations)
January 10, 2008 reply from Aaron Delwiche at Trinity University
Thanks for sending these links to Tiger Talk. In
your list of resources, you might want to include pointers to the archives
of the Second Life Educators List (SLED), as it is a terrific repository of
thoughtful suggestions for how to use Second Life in the classroom. If your
readers point their browsers at:
they will find a link to the mailing list archives and
the Second Life Educators wiki.
You might be interested in an article on Second
Life that I recently published in the Journal of Educational Technology
http://www.ifets.info/journals/9_3/ets_9_3.pdf#page=165 ) .
The article describes a classroom case study that was conducted at Trinity
back in 2004. An updated list of readings on virtual worlds can be found in
this syllabus from a Trinity course that explored on-line marketing and
There also some useful links on the Elastic Collision
site ( http://www.elasticcollision.com).
There is plenty of hype out there about Second
Life, and it's important to remind people that SL is not an educational
panacea. When instructors transplant archaic instructional methods into the
virtual world, SL is likely to be a complete failure. On the other hand, if
the course content is designed to take advantage of the platform's unique
characteristics, it is possible to create instructional environments that
foster situational learning.
Virtual worlds are still in their infancy, but they
are growing and changing at an accelerating rate. The experiments unfolding
in college classrooms around the world are just a taste of what we will see
two or three years from now. There will be many failures along the way, but
that's just part of the learning process. These are exciting times!
Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life are at
Juicy Gossip on Alleged Cheating at the University of West Virginia
"West Virginia U. Roiled Over Alleged Transcript Rewrite for Governor's
Daughter," by Paul Fain, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 2008
Michael S. Garrison was controversial at West
Virginia University even before his arrival in September as president. Now
he is linked to a developing scandal that raises questions about the ties
between the university and the state's power brokers in politics and
The uproar began on December 21 with
an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
which alleged that the university had rewritten the academic record of
Heather M. Bresch, a top executive at a West Virginia pharmaceutical company
and the daughter of the state's governor, Joe Manchin III, a Democrat.
Both university officials and Ms. Bresch have a
different view of the discrepancy, blaming a clerical error by the
university for the appearance that Ms. Bresch was 22 credits short of her
M.B.A. degree. But allegations that a political insider received favorable
treatment have inflamed Mr. Garrison's many critics among West Virginia
faculty members, who were already fuming about his qualifications and his
cozy ties to the state's capital.
Mr. Garrison, 38, is a lawyer who has held several
political posts, most notably as chief of staff to a former governor and as
chairman of the state's Higher Education Policy Commission. Some faculty
members asserted that the presidential search had been rigged in his favor
Chronicle, April 6, 2007). And, in a rare
step, the Faculty Senate voted to oppose Mr. Garrison's selection even
before it was official (The
Chronicle, April 12, 2007).
Ms. Bresch and Mr. Garrison have long-standing
connections. They were classmates in high school and as undergraduates at
West Virginia. The influence wielded by Ms. Bresch's father, the governor,
is rivaled by that of Milan (Mike) Puskar, chairman and co-founder of Mylan
Laboratories Inc., a large West Virginia-based drug company where Ms. Bresch
serves as chief operating officer. Mr. Puskar is one of the university's
most generous donors.
Cheating by Wealthy Potential Donors (apart from athlete scandals) Has a
"Wal-Mart heir returns degree amid cheating claims," iWon News, October
21, 2005 ---
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wal-Mart heiress Elizabeth
Paige Laurie has surrendered her college degree following allegations that
she cheated her way through the school.
The University of Southern California said in a
statement that Laurie, 23, "voluntarily has surrendered her degree and
returned her diploma to the university. She is not a graduate of USC."
The statement, dated September 30, said the
university had ended its review of the allegations concerning Laurie.
Laurie's roommate, Elena Martinez, told a
television show last year that she was paid $20,000 to write term papers and
complete other assignments for the granddaughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Bud
Walton. Wal-Mart is the world's biggest retailer. The family could not be
reached for comment.
Following the allegations, the University of
Missouri renamed its basketball arena, which had been paid for in part by a
$425 million donation from the Lauries and was to have been called "Paige
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on celebrity cheating are at
January 4, 2008 message from Carolyn Kotlas
PAPERS ON ONLINE RESEARCH, WRITING, AND CITATION
"Online spaces play a crucial role in constructing
not only what but how people write and research--and in how they come to see
themselves as composers and researchers." Online research, writing, and
citation practices is the theme of the Fall 2007 issue of COMPUTERS AND
COMPOSITION ONLINE. The issue is available at
http://www.bgsu.edu/cconline/edwelcome_special07.html . Papers include:
"This Was (NOT!!) an Easy Assignment: Negotiating
an Activity-Based Multimodal Framework for Composing" By Jody Shipka --
"exploration of students' experiences of multimodal writing instruction"
"Looking In by Looking Out: The DNA of Composition
in the Information Age" By Randall McClure and Lisa Baures -- "provide[s]
convincing arguments for the necessity of establishing collaborations
between writing studies and library and information science professionals to
provide adequate instruction in online research"
"Research Instruction at the Point of Need:
Information Literacy and Online Tutorials" By Tom Peele and Glenda Phipps --
explores the "issue of information seeking strategies used by today's
students from the perspective of a student"
Computers and Composition Online is a refereed
online journal hosted at Bowling Green State University. For more
information and back issues see
http://www.bgsu.edu/cconline/home.htm . Computers and Composition Online
is the companion journal to Computers and Composition: An International
Journal, now in its 24th year.
RESOURCES FROM THE 2007 EDUCAUSE CONFERENCE
Proceedings, papers, slides, podcasts, and other
resources from the October 2007 EDUCAUSE Conference, "Information Futures:
Aligning Our Missions," are now available online at
"Recommended Reading" lists items that have been
recommended to me or that Infobits readers have found particularly
interesting and/or useful, including books, articles, and websites published
by Infobits subscribers. Send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org
for possible inclusion in this column.
To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National
Consequence National Endowment for the Arts Research Report #47, November
2007 Complete PDF version (100 pages): http://www.arts.gov/research/ToRead.pdf
20-page Executive Summary:
"TO READ OR NOT TO READ gathers and collates the
best national data available to provide a reliable and comprehensive
overview of American reading today. While it incorporates some statistics
from the National Endowment for the Arts' 2004 report, READING AT RISK, this
new study contains vastly more data from numerous sources. Although most of
this information is publicly available, it has never been assembled and
analyzed as a whole. To our knowledge, TO READ OR NOT TO READ is the most
complete and up-to-date report of the nation's reading trends and--perhaps
most important--their considerable consequences."
Sony BMG to start selling music downloads without copy protection ---
Look for a Year of E-Textbooks in 2008
Over the past year, a consortium of major textbook
publishers and several competing ventures have been getting ready for a new push
in what is becoming a small but steadily growing fraction of the overall market
for college students. “Those efforts are starting to crack the surface of
digital content being a serious growing enterprise in higher education,” said
Evan Schnittman, vice president of business development and rights for Oxford
University Press’s academic and U.S. divisions. McGraw-Hill Education, for
example, offers almost 95 percent of its textbooks as e-books, and the publisher
has seen a steady growth in interest over the past several years, albeit from a
small base. Their logic seems unassailable: With laptops now an ubiquitous
presence on college campuses and textbook prices ever on the rise and suddenly a
hot issue, technologically inclined students seem poised to change their study
habits — and save a lot of money — by forgoing scribbles in the margin and
trading in their highlighters for cursors.
"E-Textbooks — for Real This Time?" Inside Higher Ed, January 3, 2008 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at
Bob Jensen's links to free online textbooks and other electronic
January 3, 2008 reply from Don Ramsey
Students may have access to computers, but not all
have laptops. I used an e-book for a year, hoping to pioneer the cost
savings (free, at freeloadpress.com), but found that students would not
bring their books (laptops) to class. They could not follow the problems
being demonstrated, nor others picked spontaneously, not to mention various
illustrations. In a class of perhaps 25, I would see 3 or 4 laptops in use.
At first I tried printing handouts for the classroom problems, but that got
to be a real chore very quickly.
A related problem was that they could not study or
do homework anywhere but where their computer is located; e.g., between
classes, at lunch, etc.
Some would print the chapters. This got to be a lot
of work and fairly expensive. (A real hoot: The free textbook is supported
financially by internal advertising. Some students would go to Kinko's to
print. Kinko's software absolutely would not print the text legibly. Letters
would be run together, etc., etc. I checked with a Kinko's technician who
had several years experience with .pdf files, and he could not make it work.
So, guess who is one of the major advertisers within the book?
Bingo--Kinko's, naturally! And I doubt they have fixed the problem.)
There were other problems less significant
individually, but more so in the aggregate. Students would fail to make the
download promptly. We reproduced Part I on disks, but some still
procrastinated or had last-minute (i.e., pre-exam) installation problems.
Downloads are long for those with dial-up access. University labs can
suffice for those not having their own computers, but there are limitations
of location away from home (all our students are commuters) plus
administrative approval for installation.
A major issue arose in that other sections did not
use the same textbook; so I have decided to rejoin my colleagues with their
conventional textbook. This is particularly important in standardizing
chapter coverage for assessment purposes.
So, I am back to the good old portable textbook.
The half-year version, which at least weighs less than the complete boat
I still have a major issue with every textbook I
have seen, in that the question banks (which I believe tend to validate
performance on a national level) are woefully inadequate. There ought to be
a plenitude of objective questions on every subtopic, so that the question
bank can be used for quizzes and examinations without duplication. Some
publishers' question banks are barely adequate; some are downright spotty as
to topical coverage. To expect sufficient questions for two semesters
without duplication is apparently utterly unrealistic. I have a strong
suspicion that neither the "editors" (marketers) nor the authors pay
attention to the content supplied by the contractors who write the question
The software houses that provide generic exam
software would do well to add a feature that allows the instructor to keep
track of which questions have already been used, so as to avoid using the
same question on an exam that had already been used in a quiz. (Actually I
used to give two quizzes per chapter, pre- and post-.)
Of course, when we reach saturation, or nearly so,
of laptop ownership, the whole picture would change. Publishers who
anticipate that situation are to be congratulated. The price of conventional
textbooks is outrageous. (But at e-book prices, would authors be motivated
to write?) Perhaps our school is behind the curve, laptop-wise. Clearly the
market for distance courses, at least, is made to order for the e-book.
Finally, there is the problem of students who are
determined to avoid the textbook entirely, electronic or not. I have one
colleague who says his course gets easier every time the student takes it.
Wishing you all an excellent 2008!
January 4, 2008 reply from Carol Flowers
Email from a student to me:
Hi Everyone, You are all my teachers for the Spring
2008 semester for Online courses. I ran into a huge problem with my Online
Bus. A139 class for the Winter Intercession semester. The teacher only
offered an e-book for the class and I am a disabled reentry student that
uses book vouchers to pay for my books. Vouchers can't be used to purchase
e-books from the publishers and I don't have access to a credit where I can
purchase an e-book online from the publisher. I can only purchase paper
books from the bookstore with my voucher. As a result I was forced to waste
several hours of my time driving to the bookstore and back home as well as
losing the entire Winter Intercession part of the semester. To ensure this
does not happen again, I am contacting all of you well in advance.
There are many programs at OCC that use book
vouchers for disadvantaged students and many of these students do not have
credit cards either. The e-book only system discriminates against people
like myself and forces us to drop out of needed courses and it pushes our
progress back significantly. We have more than enough obstacles to overcome
without the e-book issues beating us down. I hope you understand and can
make it so I and others like me will not suffer this way in the full Spring
semester. Thank You,
January 5, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen
Hi Carol (and Don Ramsey),
This is one of the reasons that most e-Book publishers offer hard copy
options as well.
For example, 95% of McGraw-Hill textbooks are now available in electronic
versions. But McGraw-Hill still sells hard copy.
For years I adopted the great Murthy and Groomer electronic Accounting
Information Systems textbook for my AIS courses. But students could also buy
(for an added fee) hard copy versions to supplement the electronic versions
https://www.cybertext.com/ My guess is that Murthy and Groomer
will make some arrangement, possibly with campus bookstores, to accommodate
voucher systems for handicapped students.
There may be a problem with books that were dropped by publishers and
then offered free (even updated) online by their authors. Fortunately some
of these are in formats that allow users to print hard copy (e.g., PDF
formats that allow printing). I list some of the free online textbook
My students really liked the online versions of Murthy and Groomer. Key
advantages are search features and the online quizzing (that accounted for a
small percentage of the grade). I used a partnering attestation system to
maintain integrity of the online quizzing process ---
"Yale University Press Goes the E-Book Route: Google Plans Searchable
Text in Images Searching Library Collections in Facebook," by Josh Fischman,
Chronicle of Higher Education, January 7, 2008 ---
Yale University Press Goes the E-Book Route Yale
University Press is relying on a new piece of software to make its titles
more widely available. The program, CoreSource, interfaces with Microsoft's
Live Search Books program. The idea is that the press will be able to
digitize more of its books and potential buyers will be able to find them
through Live Search Books. If motivated by the text, users can become buyers
through print-on-demand programs.
Microsoft's Live Search Books Program is part of Windows Live ---
Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at
Bob Jensen's links to free online textbooks and other electronic
"Google Plans Searchable Text in Images: InformationWeek reports
that Google filed a patent in June 2007 for a technology that could make text in
images searchable," by Hurley Goodall, Chronicle of Higher Education,
January 7, 2008 ---
The yet-to-be-developed technology detailed in the
patent application carries serious implications for the future of search
technology, particularly in regard to the Google Book Search project.
What could that mean for the future of academic
research and the role of libraries? In an interview, Wendy P. Lougee,
University of Minnesota librarian, frames the would-be technology in the
context of “discoverability” — the ease with which an item can be found
through a search.
“With respect to images, the challenges have been
in the metadata,” or the data that contextualizes items in a database, she
says, and the potential technology “could significantly enhance” librarians’
ability to catalogue and retrieve information.
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
A new application lets Facebook users start their
library research in the popular social-networking system. The
provides an interface in Facebook for searching the
database, operated by the nonprofit
OCLC. The group’s Web site says the index includes
more than a billion items in more than 10,000 libraries.
So far the application does not seem to be listed
in Facebook’s official directory. But a quick search of Facebook’s other
applications shows that more than a dozen other academic libraries have
created their own search tools for the social-networking platform. The
University of Notre Dame
has one, for instance, as does
Pace University, and
Ryerson University. JSTOR,
the popular, nonprofit digital archive of scholarly publications, also
a Facebook application.
One thing I discovered when
I invited Wired Campus readers to join my Facebook friend group
is that librarians are some of the most enthusiastic
nonstudent users of social networks. But can Facebook, known as a place for
socializing, become part of the research process as well?
You can read more about Facebook at
Facebook has 58 million active users (including non-collegiate members)
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
Fraternities Trying to Restore Images of Men/Women of Manners and
The movie Animal House has defined the college
fraternity stereotype for decades: binge drinking, hazing, partying. Some
fraternities are now trying to change that "frat boy culture." The Balanced Man
movement seeks to turn frat boys into well rounded fraternity men.
"Frats Try to Shed Bad Boy Image," by Chana Joffe-Walt, NPR, January 5,
"Inside college parties: surprising findings
about drinking behavior," PhysOrg, January 3, 2008 ---
Also see "Calling the Folks About
Campus Drinking," by Samuel G. Friedman, The New York Times, September
12, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on student partying are
"Defining Diversity Down: A proposal to make it easier to get into
California colleges," The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2008 ---
The world gets more competitive every day, so why
would California's education elites want to dumb down their public
university admissions standards? The answer is to serve the modern liberal
piety known as "diversity" while potentially thwarting the will of the
The University of California Board of Admissions is
proposing to lower to 2.8 from 3.0 the minimum grade point average for
admission to a UC school. That 3.0 GPA standard has been in place for 40
years. Students would also no longer be required to take the SAT exams that
test for knowledge of specific subjects, such as history and science.
UC Board of Admissions Chairman Mark Rashid says
that, under this new system of "comprehensive review," the schools "can make
a better and more fair determination of academic merit by looking at all the
students' achievements." And it is true that test scores and grades do not
take full account of the special talents of certain students. But the
current system already leaves slots for students with specific skills, so if
you think this change is about admitting more linebackers or piccolo
players, you don't understand modern academic politics.
The plan would grant admissions officers more
discretion to evade the ban on race and gender preferences imposed by
California voters. Those limits became law when voters approved Proposition
209 in 1996, and state officials have been looking for ways around them ever
since. "This appears to be a blatant attempt to subvert the law," says Ward
Connerly, a former member of the University of California Board of Regents,
who led the drive for 209. "Subjective admissions standards allow schools to
substitute race and diversity for academic achievement."
One loser here would be the principle of
merit-based college admissions. That principle has served the state well
over the decades, helping to make some of its universities among the world's
finest. Since 209, Asian-American students have done especially well, with
students of Asian ethnicity at UCLA nearly doubling to 42% from 22%.
Immigrants and the children of immigrants now outnumber native-born whites
in most UC schools, so being a member of an ethnic minority is clearly not
an inherent admissions handicap. Ironically, objective testing criteria were
first introduced in many university systems, including California's,
precisely to weed out discrimination favoring children of affluent alumni
ahead of higher performing students. The other big losers would be the
overall level of achievement demanded in California public elementary and
high schools. A recent study by the left-leaning Institute for Democracy,
Education and Access at UCLA, the "California Educational Opportunity Report
2007," finds that "California lags behind most other states in providing
fundamental learning conditions as well as in student outcomes." In 2005
California ranked 48th among states in the percentage of high-school kids
who attend college. Only Mississippi and Arizona rated worse.
The UCLA study documents that the educational
achievement gap between black and Latino children and whites and Asians is
increasing in California at a troubling pace. Graduation rates are falling
fastest for blacks and Latinos, as many of them are stuck in the state's
worst public schools. The way to close that gap is by introducing more
accountability and choice to raise achievement standards--admittedly hard
work, especially because it means taking on the teachers unions.
Instead, the UC Board of Admissions proposal sounds
like a declaration of academic surrender. It's one more depressing signal
that liberal elites have all but given up on poor black and Hispanic kids.
Because they don't think closing the achievement gap is possible, their
alternative is to reduce standards for everyone. Diversity so trumps merit
in the hierarchy of modern liberal values that they're willing to dumb down
the entire university system to guarantee what they consider a proper mix of
skin tones on campus.
A decade ago, California voters spoke clearly that
they prefer admissions standards rooted in the American tradition of
achievement. In the months ahead, the UC Board of Regents will have to
decide which principle to endorse, and their choice will tell us a great
deal about the future path of American society.
Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action and academic standards are at
Postsecondary Picture for Minority Students (and Men)
The newest report from the National
Center for Education Statistics is, as its title
and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities“)
suggests, designed to provide a
comprehensive look at how members of minority groups are
faring in the American educational system, from top to
bottom. But while the data it offers on that subject are
decidedly mixed — showing significant progress over time for
all groups, but wide gaps remaining in access to and success
in college — the report’s most provocative (and potentially
troubling) numbers may be about gender, not race.
Most of the
data in the report from the Education Department’s
statistical arm have been released in earlier or narrower
reports. But by bringing together reams of statistics over
30 years on the full gamut of educational measures, from
pre-primary enrollment of 3- to 5-year-olds to median
incomes for adults over 25, the study aims to provide a
broad-based look at “the educational progress and challenges
that racial and ethnic minorities face in the United
challenges are both evident; virtually every category
contains good news and bad news. In the higher education
realm, for instance, the report shows that where black,
Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska
Native students made up 17 percent of college undergraduates
in 1976, their share of that total had risen to 32 percent
by 2004. And each of those groups saw their raw numbers at
least double over that time, with some groups showing
significantly greater proportional increases, as seen in the
American Indian/Alaska Native
Representation in graduate education changed along roughly
the same lines, the study finds, with minority group members
making up 25 percent of the graduate school population in
2004, up from 11 percent in 1976.
the proportion of all 18- to 24-year-old Americans who were
enrolled in college rose sharply for all racial groups
between 1980 and 2004, in most cases increasing by at least
positive developments aside, the research shows that members
of underrepresented minority groups badly lag their white
and Asian peers in college going. By 2004, 60.3 percent of
Asian/Pacific Islander 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in
college, as were 41.7 of white Americans in that age group.
The numbers were lower for other groups: 31.8 for black
Americans, 24.7 for Hispanics, and 24.4 percent for American
the proportion of degrees awarded to most racial minority
groups fell well short of their representation in the
population. Slightly less than 10 percent of all college
degrees awarded by U.S. degree-granting institutions in
2003-4 — and 9.3 percent of bachelor’s degrees, and 6
percent of doctorates — went to African-Americans, who make
up 12 percent of the population. Hispanics fared worse,
earning 7.3 of all degrees, 6.8 percent of baccalaureate
degrees, and 3.4 percent of doctorates, despite making up 14
percent of the U.S. populace.
as those numbers might be to advocates for minority
education, the most striking data in the report are probably
those related to the educational outcomes of men, of all
races and ethnicities.
every measure used in the report, male students have fallen
far behind their female counterparts. That development isn’t
new, but the federal report lays out the situation starkly.
For instance, the study finds that the gender gap in
undergraduate enrollments expanded generally and for all
races between 1976 and 2004, as seen in the table below:
Gender Gap in Undergraduate Enrollments, 1976 to 2004
Proportion of undergraduates
who were male, 1976
Proportion of Undergraduates
Who Were Male, 2004
Difference Between Female
and Male Enrollment, 2004
American Indian/Alaska Native
the proportion of male 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in
college in 2004 had fallen to 34.7 percent, compared to 41.2
percent for women. Six to 10 percent gaps existed for all
racial groups, too, with the exception of Asian/Pacific
Islanders; for them, men were more likely to be enrolled in
college by a 63 to 58 percent margin.
also outperforming men as degree recipients, as seen in the
Conferred by Gender and Race, 2003-4
Asian/Pacific Islander men
Asian/Pacific Islander women
American Indian/Alaska Native men
American Indian/Alaska Native women
What are blacks and latinos avoiding teacher education majors?
More than half of the black and Latino students who
take the state teacher licensing exam in Massachusetts fail, at rates that are
high enough that many minority college students are starting to avoid teacher
The Boston Globe reported. The failure rates
are 54 percent (black), 52 percent (Latino) and 23 percent (white).
Inside Higher Ed, August 20, 2007 ---
From Harvard University
Ig Nobel Prizes ---
Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A.
Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from
jetlag more quickly when given
- Biology: Johanna
E.M.H. van Bronswijk, for taking a census of all the
mites and other life forms that live in people's
- Chemistry: Mayu
Yamamoto for extracting
vanilla flavour from cow dung.
- Economics: Kuo
Cheng Hsieh, for patenting a device to catch bank
robbers by ensnaring them in a net.
Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles,
for determining that rats sometimes can't distinguish
between Japanese, played backward, and Dutch, played
Glenda Browne, for her study of the word "the".
- Medicine: Dan
Meyer and Brian Witcombe, for investigating the
Brian Wansink, for investigating people's appetite
mindless eating by secretly feeding them a
self-refilling bowl of soup.
- Peace: The
Air Force Wright Laboratory in
Dayton, Ohio, for suggesting the research and
development of a "gay
bomb," which would cause enemy troops to become
sexually attracted to each other.
- Physics: L.
Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca for their
theoretical study of how sheets become wrinkled.
Other Years ---
Track People from your PC or Phone with PocketFinder
The PocketFinder, made by Location Based Technologies
in Anaheim, Calif., receives GPS signals and communicates its location
wirelessly to a secured network. When consumers purchase the PocketFinder, they
activate the device and receive a private code, allowing them to look up the
location of the device at
or by calling an automated system. Location Based
Technologies sees the PocketFinder as a secure way of keeping track of children
who are too young to carry around expensive, fragile cell phones. The
PocketFinder, which can be attached to a keychain, is waterproof and "virtually
indestructible," and will be sold for about $129 starting in March. It also
requires a small monthly fee (less than $15).
Lisa Zyga, "Track People from your PC with PocketFinder," PhysOrg,
January 9, 2008 ---
Intel Quits One Laptop Per Child Program (at the request of the
Intel decided to quit the nonprofit project and the
OLPC board because the two reached a "philosophical impasse," Intel spokesman
Chuck Mulloy said. Meanwhile, Intel will continue with its own inexpensive
laptop design called the Classmate, which it is marketing in some of the same
emerging markets OLPC has targeted. Both sides shared the objective of providing
children around the world with the use of new technology, "but OLPC had asked
Intel to end our support for non-OLPC platforms, including the Classmate PC, and
to focus on the OLPC platform exclusively," Mulloy said. "At the end of the day,
we decided we couldn't accommodate that request."
May Wong, "Intel Quits One Laptop Per Child Program," PhysOrg, January 4,
century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering
remedial English in college.
Joseph Sobran as quoted by Mark
Does Writing Matter in Education? (apparently not much)
Many of today’s college graduates, by comparison,
can’t establish noun-verb agreements, let alone write legible paragraphs.
Experts tell us that the bad writing of college students today comes from not
enough reading and too many hours of TV and the Internet. But I keep thinking
about how it came about that someone like Mary Jayne Shields, a woman who read
books but was by no means a voracious reader, who came from an ordinary, lower
middle-class family whose love for culture began and ended with movies, ended up
such a fine writer. Like thousands of others of her generation, my mother-in-law
benefited from the great high-school movement that swept across the Midwest,
beginning in the 1890s and continuing through the 1940s. These were decades when
states like Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio built and supported public high
schools as a matter of pride.
"Slow Learning," by Laurie Fendrich, Chronicle of Higher Education's
Chronicle Review, January 2008 ---
Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at
Does History Matter for Liberal Education?
One of the issues the task force has been struggling
with is whether/how to justify the choice of a History major. In 2008 can we
recommend that History is obviously a liberal art, and that all that matters is
for a student to study one of the liberal arts? I confess that, deep down, I
believe that, but it is not enough of an answer. It should matter which field a
student selects, and it undoubtedly does. The task force feeling is that History
in fact does a remarkably good job, better than most fields, of meeting the
goals of liberal education (we have adopted the AAC&U definition), a case Tom
Bender made quite persuasively. But Bob Connor is pushing us to create a notion
of the sorts of data we would need actually to assess the effectiveness of
History, and this is no small challenge. We are, as Carol Schneider argued, not
talking about acquiring a body of discrete knowledge, but rather that set of
capacities that define liberal knowledge.
Stan Katz, "Does History Matter for Liberal Education?" Chronicle of Higher
Education's Chronicle Review, January 2008 ---
The task of defending macroeconomics (in
PhD core courses in economics) was left to Michael
Woodford, a professor of political economy at Columbia University. Mr. Woodford
argued that all economists should learn the dynamic-modeling tools that are
taught in macroeconomics courses. "A lot of students find that the macro
sequence is the hardest part of the core," he said. "That makes me reluctant to
believe that we could radically reduce the length of it and people would still
get the important parts."
"Economists Call for Rethinking of Core Course Work for Ph.D.'s in the
Discipline," by David Glenn, Chronicle of Higher Education, January
7, 2008 ---
Doctoral programs in economics should radically
redesign the grueling first-year course work known as "the core," several
prominent scholars said on Friday during a panel here at the annual meeting
of the American Economic Association.
Many elements of the core were set in stone shortly
after World War II, and the courses have not always evolved to make room for
emerging fields of study, the scholars said. They also complained that the
courses tend to emphasize the abstract manipulation of equations, with
little sustained attention given to real-world problems and data.
"The core needs to have a certain element of fun,"
said Bo E. Honoré, a professor of economics at Princeton University. "I
think it's important that students come out of the first year with a sense
of excitement about economics and excitement about doing research."
Putting Macroeconomics in Its Place
The panelists were far from unanimous, however,
about exactly how the core should be changed. One thorny topic was
macroeconomics, which traditionally occupies roughly a third of the course
work in the core. Macroeconomics—the study of how fiscal and monetary
policies shape economies at the national level—was the terrain on which the
most famous battles of mid-20th-century economics were fought. But if it
seemed natural to devote a huge portion of the curriculum to macroeconomics
in 1950, not all scholars feel the same way today.
"It's not clear why macroeconomics is given an
entire year in the core," said Susan C. Athey, a professor of economics at
Harvard University and the winner of the 2007 John Bates Clark Medal, which
is given biennially to a distinguished economist under the age of 40. "I
think macro is very important, but it's not clear to me that monetary theory
is more important for everyone to learn than, for example, theories about
social-entitlement programs or international trade."
Most of the other five panelists agreed with Ms.
Athey, though all conceded that macroeconomics has been a source of models
and techniques that have shaped the entire discipline.
The task of defending macroeconomics was left to
Michael Woodford, a professor of political economy at Columbia University.
Mr. Woodford argued that all economists should learn the dynamic-modeling
tools that are taught in macroeconomics courses. "A lot of students find
that the macro sequence is the hardest part of the core," he said. "That
makes me reluctant to believe that we could radically reduce the length of
it and people would still get the important parts."
Facts vs. Tools
On a broader level, the panelists disagreed about
whether the core should be imagined as a set of crucial, substantive facts
or as a package of techniques that would allow students to take more
specialized courses in the second year and begin their own research. Ms.
Athey argued for the latter approach. "Instead of trying to think about
every possible thing that every economist should know," she said, "we should
be thinking about, What's really going to help these second-year courses
move along very quickly into the substance?"
The panel was organized by David C. Colander, a
professor of economics at Middlebury College who has written extensively on
doctoral education in the field. "I just teach undergraduates," he said, "so
I can sort of throw bombs over toward the graduate schools and try to raise
questions that otherwise can't be raised."
In The Making of an Economist, Redux
(Princeton University Press, 2007), Mr. Colander argued that doctoral
programs have improved in some respects during the last 20 years. (For
example, he sees much more engagement today with empirical data and
public-policy problems.) But he also argued for substantial changes in the
core, which he views as dominated by sterile mathematics. "If ... creativity
and economic reasoning, not mathematics, is the core of economics," he
wrote, "then it seems reasonable that the core courses should focus somewhat
more on creativity and economic reasoning and somewhat less on technique."
Despite their broad agreement about the need to
redesign the core, no one on the panel was hopeful that departments would
embrace the idea. Ms. Athey said that the status quo seems to be rigidly
entrenched, even at elite universities that one might expect would be open
to new approaches.
Derek A. Neal, a professor of economics at the
University of Chicago, agreed, and he used economic metaphors sardonically
to make the point. "All of us who have ever been chairs know that there's a
huge agency problem that individual departments have to face," he said.
Faculty members can be persuaded to say, ""'Yes, I understand that the core
is a public good,'" he said. "But after you give them the property rights to
teach in the first year, getting them to behave as if it's a public good and
not a private platform is—well, it's another problem in agency theory."
But even if revising the core would require
bruising departmental battles, that didn't stop one panelist from dreaming
about a much larger change.
"We actually shouldn't be thinking narrowly in
terms of first-year economics," said Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of
economics at Harvard University. "We should be thinking about first-year
social science. The whole division between economics, sociology, and
political science feels like a hangover from the 19th century. So many of
the people in our profession are working on problems that have traditionally
been seen as part of sociology or political science.
"We should probably be rethinking from the ground
up all of the social sciences," Mr. Glaeser continued. "A more attractive
model might be a first-year course sequence that trains a social scientist
to work on anything, rather than having separate first-year economics,
sociology, and political science course work. But maybe that's a discussion
for a different panel."
Almost the same core is required in accounting and finance doctoral programs as
that in the Economics Department. In fact when I went to Stanford we had to take
the same core courses alongside economics doctoral students in courses given in
the Economics Department Graduate School. The only difference was that the final
examinations in these courses were part of their doctoral qualifying
examinations. For us they were just final examinations. We had to go back to the
Graduate School of Business to take three separate doctoral qualifying
examinations called "internal, external, and major" qualifying examinations. We
always felt like we were burdened with more qualifying examinations than
students in Stanford's Economics Department doctoral program.
I repeatedly harp on the narrowness of current accounting doctoral programs
in virtually all universities in the U.S. and most other universities in the
world that have accounting doctoral programs. If economics doctoral programs can
change, why can't we change?
“How many professors does it take to change a light
Answer: “Whadaya mean, “change”?”
Bob Zemsky, Chronicle of Higher
Education's Chronicle Review, December 2007 ---
The schism between academic research and the
The outside world has little interest in research of the business school
If our research findings were important, there would be more demand for
replication of findings
"Business Education Under the Microscope: Amid growing charges of
irrelevancy, business schools launch a study of their impact on business,"
Business Week, December 26, 2007 ---
business-school world has been besieged by criticism in the
past few months, with prominent professors and writers
taking bold swipes at management education. Authors such as
management expert Gary Hamel and
Harvard Business School Professor
Rakesh Khurana have published books this fall expressing
skepticism about the direction in which business schools are
headed and the purported value of an MBA degree. The
December/January issue of the Academy of Management
Journal includes a
special section in which 10 scholars question the value of
deans may soon be able to counter that criticism, following
the launch of an ambitious study that seeks to examine the
overall impact of business schools on society. A new Impact
of Business Schools task force convened by the the
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)—the
main organization of business schools—will mull over this
question next year, conducting research that will look at
management education through a variety of lenses, from
examining the link between business schools and economic
growth in the U.S. and other countries, to how management
ideas stemming from business-school research have affected
business practices. Most of the research will be new, though
it will build upon the work of past AACSB studies,
committee is being chaired by Robert Sullivan of the
University of California at San Diego's
Rady School of Management, and
includes a number of prominent business-school deans
including Robert Dolan of the University of Michigan's
Stephen M. Ross School of Business,
Linda Livingstone of Pepperdine University's
Graziado School of Business & Management, and
AACSB Chair Judy Olian, who is also the dean of UCLA's
Anderson School of Management.
Representatives from Google (GOOG)
and the Educational Testing Service will also participate.
The committee, which was formed this summer, expects to have
the report ready by January, 2009.
Alison Damast recently spoke with Olian about the committee
and the potential impact of its findings on the
There has been a rising tide of
criticism against business schools recently, some of it from
within the B-school world. For example, Professor Rakesh
Khurana implied in his book
From Higher Aims to Hired Hands
(BusinessWeek.com, 11/5/07) that
management education needs to reinvent itself. Did this have
any effect on the AACSB's decision to create the Impact of
Business Schools committee?
I think that
is probably somewhere in the background, but I certainly
don't view that as in any way the primary driver or
particularly relevant to what we are thinking about here.
What we are looking at is a variety of ways of commenting on
what the impact of business schools is. The fact is, it
hasn't been documented and as a field we haven't really
asked those questions and we need to. I don't think a study
like this has ever been done before.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on the growing
irrelevance of academic accounting research are at
The dearth of research findings replications
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education
controversies are at
January 2, 2008 reply from David Albrecht
AACSB chair Judy Olian (dean, UCLA school of biz)
is quoted as saying that 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs are graduates of a
I am surprised that this is such a low number. Why
shouldn't this number be very much higher? Given that corporations are run
by professional managers, why wouldn't the college degree that prepares
professional managers show up with greater frequency in the profile of the
top professional managers?
I don't know how it is possible for this group of
deans to design a research study to show the relevance of business school
education. Well, I don't know how it would be possible for anyone to design
it. Isn't relevance a judgment call?
January 2, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen
CEOs rise up from many walks of life, especially engineering, economics,
law, and the specialties of an industry such as chemistry, medicine,
agriculture, etc. CFOs and CAOs are another matter entirely.
As far as research impacts are determined, subjective judgment is
certainly a huge factor but there are other indicators. Can executives
recall a single article published in The Accounting Review or other leading
academic accounting journal upon which academic reputations are built? Can
executives name one author who received the AAA Seminal Contributions Award
or any other academic award of major academic associations?
One indicator in accounting is practitioner membership in the American
Accounting Association. The AAA started out as primarily an association for
accounting practitioners and teachers of accounting. For four decades
practitioners were heavily involved in the AAA and the longest-running
editor of The Accounting Review was a practitioner (Kohler) ---
All this changed with what Jean Heck and I call the "perfect storm" of
the 1960s. Since then, practitioner membership steadily declined in the AAA
and readership of academic accounting research journals plummeted to
virtually zero. Practitioners still send us their money and their
recruiters, but leading academic researchers like Joel Demski warn against
accounting researchers catching a "vocational virus" and cringe at aiming
our research talent toward practical problems of the profession for which we
seemingly have no comparative advantage due to our rather useless accountics
You can read much of the history of this schism at
The schism is probably greatest in accounting and the smallest in finance
where there practitioners have relied more on research findings and fads in
economics and finance journals.
Some universities are more focused on industry than others. Harvard
certainly has tried very hard in this regard, but Harvard's case method
research just cannot pass the hurdles of the journal referees of our leading
accounting research journals.
And even accounting academics are bored with the (yawn) articles
appearing in our academic research journals. Ron Dye is probably one of our
most esoteric accountics researchers (his degrees are in mathematics and
economics even though he's an "accounting professor"). Ron stated the
Begin Quote from Ron Dye***************
About the question: by and large, I think it is
a mistake for someone interested in pursuing an academic career in
accounting not to get a phd in accounting. If you look at the "success"
stories, there aren't many: most of the people who make a post-phd
transition fail. I think that happens for a couple reasons. 1. I think
some of the people that transfer late do it for the money, and aren't
really all that interested in accounting. While the $ are nice, it is
impossible to think about $ when you are trying to come up with an idea,
and anyway, you're unlikely to come up with an idea unless you're really
interested in the subject. 2. I think, almost independent of the field,
unless you get involved in the field at an early age, for some reason it
becomes very hard to develop good intuition for the area - which is a
second reason good problems are often not generated by "crossovers."
The bigger thing - not related to the question
you raise - but maybe you could add to the discussion is that there are,
as far as I can tell, not a lot of new ideas being put forth by anyone
in accounting nowadays (with the possible exception of John Dickhaut's
neuro stuff). In most fields, the youngsters are supposed to come up
with the new problems, techniques, etc., but I see a lot more mimicry
than innovation among newly minted phds now.
Anyway, for what it's worth....
End Quote from Ron Dye****************
Perhaps the AACSB can make some progress toward bridging the schism. But
I leave you with a forthcoming quote in the January 6 edition of Tidbits:
Question "How many professors does it take to change a light bulb?"
Answer "Whadaya mean, "change"?" Bob Zemsky, Chronicle of Higher
Education's Chronicle Review, December 2007
"The World According to Professor Blog," by Sanford Pinsker, The
Irascible Professor, January 8, 2008 ---
Writing in the pages of
The Chronicle of Higher Education (October 7, 2005),
Henry Farrell points out that Duncan Black, an
assistant professor of economics at Bryn Mawr College, called himself "Atrios"
in his left-wing blog, Eschaton.
Why so? Because he feared that his academic career would suffer either from
those who disagreed with his point of view (not bloody likely at Bryn Mawr)
or from those who might rightly wonder why he wasn't working on his
scholarship. Eventually, Farrell tells us, Black left academia altogether
where he could blog away to
his heart's content, and under his own name.
Henry Farrell insists --
remember that his piece was written in 2005 -- that "... few if any
academics would want to describe their blogging as part of their publishing
record (although they might reasonably count it toward public service
requirements)." I wish I could have Farrell's confidence about the "few if
any" academics who would not care to argue that blogging was "publication"
because from the time when "publish-or-perish" became a widespread concern
-- not only at research institutions at academe's top tier but also at every
point down the food chain to some community colleges -- the untenured have
worried and wanted everything, absolutely everything, they ever wrote about
virtually anything to count. At my college there was always the desperate
sad sack who would include a letter to the local newspaper on his annual
report form. He was gently told to hold back until such time as one of his
letters appeared in the New York Times.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on blogs and listservs are at
I think the site pretty well states my position ---
Blogs and Websites would count more for tenure if P&T committees really
did their job in evaluating scholarship and research. But for years they’ve
heavily handed off much of their responsibility to anonymous referees which,
unfortunately, is often a very random process that can make or break a
Blogs, Listserv Activism, and Websites have indirect advantages to a
professors’ scholarship/research when they have an active readership that
gives feedback to the scholar who takes the time and effort to provide one
or more of these services. In my case, my published research as well as my
Websites benefitted greatly from feedback in all three areas.
Interestingly, Blogs, Listserv Activism, and Websites contribute more at
the highest-end reputation. For example, I attribute my 2002 American
Accounting Association Outstanding Educator Award that lifted my
international reputation (plus gave me $10,000) almost entirely due to my
Blogs, Listserv Activism, and two Websites ---
Sadly it took much more effort to build a reputation in this manner than
it did to conduct the research leading to nearly 100 refereed papers
published in academic research journals. Publishing refereed papers is much,
much easier than the effort I put into Blogs, Listserv Activism, and
"NCAA to Support Research on Diversity in College Sports," The
Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, January 3, 2008 ---
The National Collegiate Athletic Association
will provide financial and other means of support to a research laboratory
at Texas A&M University at College Station that examines ethnic, racial, and
gender diversity in college sports,
the NCAA announced today.
Under the new partnership, Texas A&M’s
Diversity in Sport will receive financial support
from the NCAA for its research into how athletics
departments can increase diversity among employees, teams, and fans. The
agreement also calls for the eventual expansion of the laboratory’s annual
Diversity in Athletics Award to all three NCAA
"A Texas Team Loads Up on All-American Talent, With No Americans," by Robin
Williams, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 ---
But at the university's Kidd Field — where the
brick-red track is surrounded by an expanse of rocky brown mountains — you
won't find any El Paso natives on the men's cross-country team. In fact, you
won't find a cross-country runner from anywhere in North America.
It's been that way for the past couple of years,
after Paul Ereng, who won a gold medal for Kenya in the 1988 Olympic Games,
arrived at El Paso to coach the Miners' cross-country team. He is trying to
put it back on the map by recruiting students from his own country, which is
well known for its long-distance runners.
The strategy is working. El Paso's cross-country
team earned a spot in the NCAA championships in 2005 for the first time in
13 years. And it has won its conference title in each of the past three
This year's team consists entirely of seven Kenyan
runners, all of whom are on full scholarships. They speak a dialect called
Nandi, live together in off-campus apartments, drink hot tea and eat
homemade cornbread together, and attend the Anglican Church of St. Clement.
Most of them never return home during their entire undergraduate career,
becoming like family members to one another.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education athletics are at
Confronting — and Not Confronting — Plagiarism
A central problem, participants said, is that however
much plagiarism may offend scholars and make professors look silly to the public
when famous authors are exposed, the law takes a different approach. “From the
point of view of the law, defamation of character is a very live issue, but
plagiarism is really marginal,” said Alan Lessoff, professor of history at
Illinois State University and editor of the Journal of the Gilded Age and
Progressive Era. During the discussion, several editors shared horror stories
(generally without names) of the kinds of plagiarism issues that have come their
way — generally prior to publication, when a reviewer calls to say that the book
or article that was sent for consideration is awfully familiar, because it comes
from something the reviewer wrote. Other complaints go further, such as what to
do about a reviewer who — in violation of a confidentiality agreement — shared
unpublished research in a piece he was reviewing with one of his graduate
students, denying the author a scholarly scoop.
Scott Jaschik, "Confronting — and Not Confronting — Plagiarism," Inside Higher
Ed, January 7, 2008 ---
I had a somewhat similar problem one time that was really unbelievable. I
submitted a paper one time to a journal called Mathematical Modelling. My
paper contained a proof of a theorem in eigenvector scaling. The paper was
rejected. Later on a paper was submitted to me for refereeing that contained my
proof line for line. I could tell who the author was in the submission by the
article's wording (he was a renowned scholar in Analytical Hierarchy Processing)
I suspected that the referee on my submission plagiarized my proof on his own
submission. I informed the journal editor and when the renowned scholar's paper
was eventually published he inserted a credit to me for the proof. I didn't get
my paper published by that journal but I at least got credit for the proof.
Bob Jensen's threads on professors who plagiarize are at
Linebacker's Wife Says She Wrote His Papers (and took two online courses
The wife of a star University of South Florida
linebacker says she wrote his academic papers and took two online classes for
him. The accusations against Ben Moffitt, who had been promoted by the
university to the news media as a family man, were made in e-mail messages to
The Tampa Tribune, and followed Mr. Moffitt’s filing for divorce. Mr. Moffitt
called the accusations “hearsay,” and a university spokesman said the matter was
a “domestic issue.” If it is found that Mr. Moffitt committed academic fraud,
the newspaper reported, the university could be subject to an NCAA
"Linebacker's Wife Says She Wrote His Papers," Chronicle of Higher Education
News Blog, January 5, 2008 ---
If Florida investigates this and discovers it was true, I wonder if Moffitt's
diploma will be revoked. Somehow I doubt it.
Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in college athletics can be found at
First the Irish Were Displaced Among the "Fighting Irish"
Now Television May Have Withered the "Fighting Irish"
(Just like television has made politics a money game)
"A Crossroads for the Fighting Irish (and Their Peers)," by Alan Sack,
Inside Higher Ed, January 4, 2008 ---
The decline of the football program at the
University of Notre Dame, where I played in the 1960s, has been consistent
fodder on sports radio and fan Web sites in recent months. But the situation
has implications that extend far beyond the concerns of the university’s
loyal alumni and other Fighting Irish fanatics – and I propose that Notre
Dame deal with it in a way that could make it a national leader in
intercollegiate athletics reform.
One explanation for Notre Dame’s football meltdown
since the mid-1990s — the one I find most compelling — is that it reflects
major and irreversible changes in the college football landscape, some of
which Notre Dame helped to initiate. In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court struck
down the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s monopoly control of the
sale of football broadcasts to television networks, thus allowing individual
schools to negotiate their own TV deals.
The Irish, who led the charge for free enterprise
in college sports, undoubtedly benefited from this decision. But so too did
scores of other schools — including upstarts like Boise State, Hawaii, and
South Florida — whose increased television exposure allows them to recruit
head-to-head with the traditional powers like Notre Dame. NCAA limits on the
number of football scholarships and the increase in blue chip players coming
out of high school have also created greater parity within the Bowl
Championship Subdivision, which features the bigger football playing
As the stunning number of upset victories during
the 2007 football season made clear, Notre Dame is not the only traditional
powerhouse struggling to keep up with the flood of new entrants and rising
stars that now compete for college football’s pot of gold. But academically
competitive institutions like Notre Dame have the added disadvantage that
their admissions standards far exceed the freshman eligibility requirements
recently adopted by the NCAA.
In 1986, the NCAA responded to reports of
functional illiteracy among college athletes by passing a rule known as
Proposition 48. Over the years, Proposition 48 has gone through a number of
revisions, each one further watering down the test score component. Today an
athlete with a combined SAT score of 400 — the lowest score possible — can
compete and receive athletic aid as a freshman if a high grade point average
in high school offsets the low test score.
Notre Dame, like every other football power, lowers
its admissions standards for athletes. But even though the SAT average for
Notre Dame football players — about 1048 — falls about 300 points below the
average for the student body, it soars above the NCAA minimum. Stellar
running backs with a combined SAT score of 600 and a B average in high
school would be fair game for many other colleges. Academically competitive
universities like Notre Dame, Stanford and Duke would be unlikely to
To try to get the Fighting Irish football program
back up to a nationally competitive level, Notre Dame is at a crossroads. It
can either continue to fish in a smaller recruiting pond than some of its
competitors, thus continuing the slide into football mediocrity. Or it can
find a creative way to go deeper into the college football talent pool,
while at the same time preserving the university’s academic integrity.
Although this latter approach would require courageous and visionary
leadership, the model for getting it done already exists.
I propose the following. Using NCAA minimum
standards, Notre Dame could offer scholarships to athletes who are
academically at risk, including highly motivated students from educationally
disadvantaged backgrounds. But these athletes would be barred from
practicing, attending film sessions, and playing in games during their first
semester in college unless they score at least a 900 on the SATs (or an
equivalent ACT score) and graduate from high school with a 3.0 grade point
average. They would then need at least a 2.0 to practice in the spring
Continued in article
I think another factor is that Notre Dame may have maintained higher academic
integrity than some of the competition. Witness the fact that Florida State
University recently suspended 25 players after it leaked out that they were
cheating on examinations. Although some progress has been made by the NCAA in
bringing academic integrity into Division 1 athletics, huge problems remain ---
Alumni and coaches have far more power in this regard than faculty who all too
often ignore academic integrity problems in their athletic departments (Paul
Williams at North Carolina State being an exception).
In a dispute
between coaches and faculty, guess which side wins, in some cases at
least, when the publicity is out?
Surprisingly it's not always the side that gets paid ten times as much per year.
Students get the minimum admissions
bar if they can play football but not necessarily otherwise
The University of
South Carolina is looking for ways to streamline its admissions process
amid a threat from its football coach, Steve Spurrier, to quit if the
university doesn’t admit all recruits who meet basic (read
that really, really minimal) eligibility
requirements set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, The
State reported. Spurrier is angry because the university rejected two
recruits this year. “As long as I’m the coach here, we’re going to take
guys that qualify,” Spurrier said at a press conference. “If not, then I
have to go somewhere else because I can’t tell a young man, ‘You’re
coming to school here,’ he qualifies, and not do that. And we did that
Inside Higher Ed, August 6, 2007 ---
overarching issue Spurrier raises — what coaches and colleges tell
athletes about their prospects for admission, and when in the process
they send those signals — is a real one that affects every university
that plays big-time sports. (Lest anyone wonder,
it even applies in the Ivy League.)
Doug Lederman, "Star
Athlete, You’re Admitted. Er, Never Mind," Inside Higher Ed,
August 8, 2007 ---
both Clemson and South Carolina said that they were aware of peer
colleges — they declined to name names — where meeting the NCAA’s
freshman eligibility standards, even as they have been weakened in
recent years, was good enough to ensure admission for athletes, as
Spurrier said he would prefer it at South Carolina. Clemson and South
Carolina say that that’s not something they’re willing to do, and that
the admissions processes for athletes — even those admitted outside the
regular admissions process — must remain in control of academic
administrators. Said Reeder, the Faculty Senate chair at South Carolina:
“As long as that admissions process — whether we’re talking about
standard or special admits — as long as that remains under purview of
the faculty, that’s probably as good as it gets.”
Doug Lederman, "Star
Athlete, You’re Admitted. Er, Never Mind," Inside Higher Ed,
August 8, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education are at
Learn more about file extensions (those three letters at the end of
computer file names) ---
"Avoid These Debit Card Traps: New scams, fees, and traps to avoid,"
by Teri Cettina Close, Readers Digest, January 2008, pp.124-129 ---
The Latest Target of Thieves When Brad Lipman took
his family out for dinner in July 2006, he had no idea it would end up
costing him $1,800. Lipman paid for the $60 meal with his debit card. After
the waiter took the card, someone swiped it through a portable "skimmer."
This handheld electronic device allowed the thief to copy Lipman's account
information and security codes, and clone his card.
Over the following week, the culprit drained
Lipman's checking account and tapped into his overdraft line. He didn't
realize anything was amiss until his credit union called him about some
unusual charges. "It's hard to explain the feelings of violation," says
Lipman, 40, owner of a lending company in Thousand Oaks, California.
"Someone had their hand directly in my money."
Many people wrongly assume that debit cards offer
the same protection against fraud as credit cards. But when a debit card is
stolen or copied, there's no grace period while you contest the charges.
Your cash has already been electronically zapped from your checking account.
And if it falls short, as Lipman's did, you could face expensive overdraft
charges that your bank isn't required to repay.
Debit cards have overtaken credit cards as
Americans' plastic of choice for in-store transactions—33 percent debit,
compared with 19 percent credit. Financial experts often recommend them as a
money-management tool. Three years from now, debit card use will account for
more than half our retail purchases, according to the Nilson Report, a
payment-systems industry publication.
Debit cards have become the latest target of
thieves, and it's not just random cases like Lipman's. In early 2007,
hundreds of customers of a national chain restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa,
learned their debit card numbers had been stolen. Thieves made cloned cards
and are using them in stores in California and northern Mexico. And in 2006,
the TJX Companies, which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, reported one of the
largest customer-data breaches ever: 45.7 million debit and credit card
numbers were stolen from the retailer's computer systems over an 18-month
period. Authorities still don't fully know the scope.
There's little you can do to predict a mass retail
theft. But you can be smarter about how you use your card to avoid these and
other common pitfalls. In addition to scams, hidden overdraft fees are at an
all-time high, not to mention surprise holds and mismanagement traps that
could land your account in the red faster than the ATM can spit out your
Know When to Hold 'Em
When Ann Agent of Portland, Oregon, was planning to
attend a children's book publishing conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she
booked her hotel room over the phone by debit card. She and three colleagues
intended to split the bill and each pay the hotel directly at checkout time.
Two days into the conference, Agent's husband
called from home to read her a letter from her bank: Her checking account
was overdrawn, and she was being charged $35 a day in overdraft fees. "I
thought there had to be a mistake," Agent, 45, says. "I keep close track of
my account balance."
Turns out when Agent reserved the room, the hotel
"blocked," or held, enough money in Agent's account to cover the entire four
nights' stay, plus miscellaneous charges, amounting to $580. This blocked
every available penny she had and caused her to overdraw. The charges
weren't reversed until Agent returned home the following Monday.
Holds are common practice in the travel and
hospitality industry. They're the merchant's way of ensuring you'll pay your
bill. If you rent a car, the agency could block several thousand dollars to
make sure you return the vehicle. Some restaurants will place debit card
holds for large parties, and a friendly bartender can put a hold on your
card if you start a tab. The hold is usually removed within five business
days, sometimes much sooner.
Gas stations are notorious for holds. On a Friday
morning in January 2005, Jessica Hathaway of Allentown, Pennsylvania, bought
$22.29 of gas by debit. On Saturday, the 34-year-old single mother of three
checked her bank balance and learned she was almost broke. Right before the
gas station debited Hathaway's account for the gas, it imposed a $75 block.
"I was living paycheck to paycheck. I didn't have
much extra in my account, and this $75 charge worried me all weekend," she
says. Hathaway was out of luck—and cash—until the following Tuesday, when
her bank released the hold.
The kind of hold Hathaway described is a standard
preauthorization for signature (non-PIN) transactions. Stations vary widely
in their hold amounts. Because Hathaway bought gas before the weekend, her
hold may have taken longer than usual to clear.
Avoid the Trap
Leave your debit card at home when traveling.
"People should use a credit card, even if they don't any other time,"
advises Clark Howard, consumer advocate and radio host of The Clark Howard
Show. Never use a debit card any place your card is taken out of sight, like
a restaurant. Book dinner reservations on a credit card. If you must use
debit at a gas station—a hot spot for skimming—use your PIN inside or at the
pump. Your card is safest if it stays in your hand, and typing in a PIN
eliminates the hold.
Be Wary on the Web Say you buy an MP3 player for
$80 through an Internet discounter. You wait two weeks. Your music player
never arrives, and now the seller is nowhere to be found.
If you used your credit card to buy the player,
you've got options. Under the terms of the Fair Credit Billing Act, your
card company must remove the questionable charge from your bill while it
investigates. The law says you're liable for up to $50, but you'll most
likely end up owing nothing.
If you paid by debit card, you're doubly out of
luck: no pocket tunes for you, and your money is already gone. Under the
Electronic Fund Transfer Act, your debit card issuer isn't required to step
in if you make a deal with an unscrupulous merchant. You get to wrangle with
the seller yourself, no matter what your bank promised when you opened your
Then there's the fraud issue. Federal law generally
limits your liability to no more than $50 if your debit card is stolen or
copied, as long as you report the crime within two days of receiving your
statement. However, if you don't notice the suspicious activity till weeks
later, you may be liable for up to $500 or more. As with transaction
disputes, recouping your cash isn't a sure thing.
Avoid the Trap
Don't use debit for online purchases, especially if
you don't know the retailer's reputation, says Avivah Litan, electronic
security specialist for Gartner, an information technology research firm
that works with banks. Also opt for credit for all expensive items, like
Fraud is trickier because it can strike even if
you're careful. Nessa Feddis, a senior federal counsel to the American
Bankers Association, recommends checking your printed statements every
month. Better yet, register for online banking and track your money trail
even more frequently.
Some card issuers offer zero liability policies,
meaning they won't hold customers responsible for even that first $50 in
fraud charges. But they are not legally bound to do so. "We get calls from
listeners who struggle for weeks to get their own money back," notes Howard.
Even if a store's card reader prompts for your PIN, you can override the
system by pressing Credit/Other or asking the cashier to process the sale
that way. When you sign a receipt, your debit transaction piggybacks on the
credit card processing system, triggering the zero liability policy to kick
Steer Clear of Hidden Fees At the end of the week,
most of us pull a wad of debit receipts out of our wallets and purses. Do we
religiously record these amounts? Probably not. And even a $5 purchase can
cause you to overdraw if your balance is tight.
"Banks sometimes change the order of transactions
at night. They take your biggest transactions and run them first," says Ed
Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research
Group. By manipulating the order of checks and debits, banks can cause you
to overdraw sooner and more often than you thought, earning huge overdraft
fees for themselves. Debit purchases and withdrawals are now the single
largest cause of customer overdrafts, according to the Center for
Responsible Lending (CRL). "Five years ago, if you didn't have enough money
in your account to buy something, your card would be declined," says Leslie
Parrish, a CRL senior researcher. Today banks extend "courtesy overdraft
loans," the financial euphemism for letting you overdraw and then charging
you for it. Charges average $34 per transaction and add up to an estimated
$17.5 billion in annual fees for financial institutions, says the CRL.
Avoid the Trap
Link your checking account to another account in
case you overdraw. The fee, if any, is much lower than overdraft loans. If
you incur fees, banks will often waive them if you ask. Some banks offer
e-mail or text-message alerts if your balance gets too low. That could be a
warning that someone has copied your card or charged you incorrectly.
If you thought debit cards were popular now, just
wait. The young tech-savvy generation is entering its prime earning and
spending phase of life, and they live by their debit cards.
All the more reason for debit card security to step
up a notch. Brad Lipman, the man who lost $1,800 at a restaurant (his credit
union eventually returned his money, including overdraft fees) was inspired
to develop TablePay, a device that allows diners to safely swipe their debit
cards right at their tables. Before long, U.S. debit card issuers may embed
electronic chips in cards' magnetic strips, predicts Litan, the security
specialist. These sophisticated cards are much harder to copy and use
And that's good, since even fraud victims like
Lipman aren't willing to part with their debit cards. "I just can't give up
the convenience," he says.
How to avoid those huge debit card fees?
Debit cards may seem attractive to consumers who want
to avoid racking up credit charges, because they appear to have the safeguard of
drawing from your checking account. But it is possible to overdraw from your
debit card, and the resulting fees are very high. Here's how to avoid such
Michelle Singletary, "Watch Your Debit Card Balance," NPR, July 31, 2007
Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card and debit card
companies are at
Prevent Identity Theft Tips to protect yourself from ID thieves
"Fight Back -- 8 Simple Ways," by Karen Lodrick
Karen Lodrick's website,
, offers these tips to protect yourself from ID thieves:
1. Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers by
calling 888-567-8688 (supported by the consumer credit reporting industry).
2. Get spyware protection for your computer, such
as Ad-Aware (free at lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware).
3. Don't return warranty cards for purchased items.
Save your receipt -- that's all you need to make a claim.
4. Have all your mail sent to a post office box
rather than to your home address.
5. Never open e-mail from people you don't know.
6. Use different passwords for your online
7. Mix numbers and letters, upper and lowercase, in
8. Shred all documents, especially from credit card
companies, before discarding.
Bob Jensen's threads on identity theft are at the following two links:
Resources for handicapped and disabled learners ---
Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at
Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials
PIVoT: Physics Interactive Video Tutor (for handicapped learners) ---
Canadian Space Agency Kid Science ---
Natural History Museum of London ---
Center for Earth and Planetarium Study (Smithsonian) ---
Great Lakes Planetarium Association ---
Geodesy (Canadian Spatial Reference System) ---
Bob Jensen's threads on free online science,
engineering, and medicine tutorials are at ---
Social Science and Economics Tutorials
Quick Tour of Government Information Sites ---
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications ---
State and Local Government on the Web ---
International Documents Collection ---
Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and
Philosophy tutorials are at
Math and Statistics Tutorials
Amser --- http://amser.org/
A simple guide to understanding basic statistics, for journalists and other
writers who might not know math ---
Pi (in mathematics) ---
Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at
American Women's History: A Research Guide ---
Natural History Museum of London ---
Westward by Sea ---
History of the Workhouse ---
Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at
Learning Languages Net ---
Modern Language Association Language map --- http://www.mla.org/resources/census_main
January 7, 2008 message from Silvio Branco
Dear Mr. Jensen,
foremost, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for your
excellent listings of resources.
My name is
Silvio Branco and I am a Content Editor at Babylon Ltd., a translation
Babylon launched a
free Business Terms
that comprises more than 10 dictionaries,
among others, such well known titles as
Campbell R. Harvey's Hypertextual
Finance Glossary, MONASH Marketing Dictionary, and the
European Central Bank Glossary, and
which I thought could
contribute to your already detailed references.
The following is the link to it:
I hope you like both of our
free services and I would appreciate if you could mention them on your
site by including the respective links.
With best regards,
I added the above message to the following three sites:
Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at
From The Economist Magazine
Style Guide ---
The Euphemism Generator (hit the reload button for boring fun) ---
The Page (Poetry, Essays, Ideas) ---
Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at
Updates from WebMD ---
Scientists restore walking after spinal cord injury
Spinal cord damage blocks the routes that the brain
uses to send messages to the nerve cells that control walking. Until now,
doctors believed that the only way for injured patients to walk again was to
re-grow the long nerve highways that link the brain and base of the spinal cord.
For the first time, a UCLA study shows that the central nervous system can
reorganize itself and follow new pathways to restore the cellular communication
required for movement. Published in the January edition of Nature Medicine, the
discovery could lead to new therapies for the estimated 250,000 Americans who
suffer from traumatic spinal cord injuries. An additional 10,000 cases occur
each year, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which helped
fund the UCLA study. “Imagine the long nerve fibers that run between the cells
in the brain and lower spinal cord as major freeways,” explained Dr. Michael
Sofroniew, lead author and professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School
of Medicine at UCLA. “When there’s a traffic accident on the freeway, what do
drivers do? They take shorter surface streets. These detours aren’t as fast or
direct, but still allow drivers to reach their destination. “We saw something
similar in our research,” he added. “When spinal cord damage blocked direct
signals from the brain, under certain conditions the messages were able to make
detours around the injury. The message would follow a series of shorter
connections to deliver the brain’s command to move the legs.”
PhysOrg, January 6, 2008 ---
Oatmeal's health claims strongly reaffirmed, science shows
A new scientific review of the most current research
shows the link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction to be stronger
than when the FDA initially approved the health claim's appearance on food
labels in 1997. Dr. James W. Anderson, professor of medicine and clinical
nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, co-authors "The
Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later" in the January/February 2008
issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
PhysOrg, January 8, 2008 ---
Risk factors for Parkinson's disease under study
Doctors know an impaired sense of smell is an early
indicator of Parkinson’s Disease. Now they want to know if a smell test can help
determine if people with no symptoms eventually develop the disease.
PhysOrg, January 7, 2008 ---
"Next Steps for Stem Cells: New methods to reprogram adult cells
could create novel models of disease," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology
Review, January 7, 2008 ---
Searching the brain of an Alzheimer's patient for
clues into the origin of the disease is like trying to find the cause of a
plane crash in the wrecked aftermath. However, a recent breakthrough in
stem-cell research could generate new cellular models that allow scientists
to study disease with unprecedented accuracy, from its earliest inception to
a cell's final biochemical demise.
Last November, two groups of scientists announced
that they had independently achieved one of the stem-cell field's biggest
goals: the ability to reprogram adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells
without the need for human embryos. (See "Stem Cells without the Embryos.")
The findings garnered extensive media attention, largely because the new
method obviated the need for human embryos, a major ethical minefield that
has stymied research.
But scientists at stem-cell labs around the world
are excited for another reason. The technique creates cells that are
genetically matched to an individual, meaning that it's now possible to
create novel cell models that capture all the genetic quirks of complex
diseases. "Being able to have human cells with human disease in a dish
accessible for testing is a real boon to technology and to science," says
Evan Snyder, director of the Stem Cells and Regeneration Program at the
Burnham Institute, in La Jolla, CA.
While animal models exist for many human diseases,
they typically only incorporate certain aspects of the disease and can't
capture the complexity of human biology. In addition, some disorders known
to have a significant genetic component, such as autism, have proved
difficult to model in animals.
To reprogram cells, scientists from Wisconsin and
Japan independently engineered skin cells to express four different genes
known to be expressed in the developing embryo. For reasons not yet clear to
scientists, this treatment turns back the developmental clock. The resulting
cells are pluripotent, meaning that they can develop into any type of cell
in the body, and they can apparently divide indefinitely in their
undifferentiated state. The first two published studies on the new technique
reprogrammed cells from a skin-cell line, while a third study, published
last month, generated stem cells from the skin biopsy of a healthy
No one has yet generated cell lines from a patient,
although scientists have been talking about doing so for years. Previously,
the only way to make such models for complex genetic diseases was through
human therapeutic cloning, also known as nuclear transfer, which is fraught
with technical and ethical issues and has not yet been achieved. (See "Stem
Cells Reborn" and "The Real Stem Cell Hope.") "Assuming that these
procedures are as easy to do as it seems, it's definitely more tractable
than nuclear transfer," says Snyder. His own lab is trying to generate such
models, as is "probably everyone else you could call on your rolodex," he
To generate a disease-specific cell model,
scientists would take some cells from a patient with a particular disease
and revert them to an embryonic state. The cells would then be prodded to
develop into the tissue type damaged in that disease, such as dopamine
neurons in Parkinson's disease or blood cells in sickle-cell anemia. By
comparing the differentiation process in cells derived from healthy and
diseased people, scientists could observe how that disease unfolds at a
cellular level. They could also use the cells to test drugs that might
correct those biochemical abnormalities. "We want to use these cells to ask
and answer questions that can't be asked and answered any other way," says
M. William Lensch, a research scientist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute
and Children's Hospital Boston.
Continued in article
Researchers find key to stopping cancer in its tracks
University of Manchester researchers have discovered a
key process that may be involved in the spread of cancer by studying the growth
of human embryonic stem (ES) cells. Dr Chris Ward and his team used the ES cells
to investigate how some tumours are able to migrate to other parts of the body,
which makes the treatment of cancer much more difficult. He believes his work
could lead to new treatments and stop 80-90% of cancers in their tracks. They
studied a crucial change that makes cancer cells able to start moving and spread
into other tissues.
PhysOrg, January 9, 2008 ---
When do college women drink more than men?
While male college students typically drink more than
female college students,
a study published this month in the journal
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found a situation in which women
drink more: at parties with themes, especially sexual themes or costume parties.
Many of the other findings aren’t shockers — for example that those who play
drinking games end up with higher blood-alcohol levels. But the research is
being promoted as unusual because it is not based on self-reporting, but on
researcher observation at 66 off-campus college parties.
Inside Higher Ed, January 4, 2008 ---
Some professors have no ethical right to criticize Barry Bonds and other
We believe it would be difficult to stop the spread in
use of cognitive enhancers (among professors)
given a global market in pharmaceuticals with increasingly
easy online access. The drive for self-enhancement of cognition is likely to be
as strong if not stronger than in the realms of "enhancement" of beauty and
Karen J. Winkler, "Pill Popping Professors," Chronicle of Higher Education,
January 11, 2008 ---
Five Best Books on Marriage
"The Union Label: These works explore marriage with uncommon clarity,"
by Edward Mendelson, The Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2008 ---
1. "Riceyman Steps" by Arnold Bennett (George H.
Marriage, George Eliot wrote in "Middlemarch," is a
state of awesome "nearness." Arnold Bennett's greatest novel is a terrifying
and exhilarating story of the nearness that joins the miserly London
bookseller Henry Earlforward to his wife, Violet, as they shut themselves
off from a threatening outside world--and also shut themselves off from
their uncontrollable inner passions. The only person who intrudes on their
solitude is their servant, Elsie, who has very different ideas about her
relation to her shell-shocked lover, Joe, and to the world around her.
Bennett is best known as the quiet realist of "The Old Wives' Tale," but "Riceyman
Steps" probes the unsettling psychological and symbolic depths of a marriage
that becomes too close. "Astounding Story of Love and Death," shouts a
newspaper headline in the last chapter. This partly describes Bennett's
novel, although Elsie and Joe counter it with an equally astounding story of
love and life.
2. "The Return of the Soldier" by Rebecca West
This brief and devastating novel explores the
conflict between marital duty and romantic love but is startlingly different
from the many hundreds of other novels on the same theme. Chris Baldry, a
British officer in World War I, is sent home from the battlefield after
suffering a psychological wound that has erased his memory of the past 15
years. He is puzzled by the expensive-looking stranger named Kitty who
explains that he is married to her, and he longs for Margaret, an
innkeeper's daughter whom Kitty had never heard of until now. For Chris, the
sober reality of marriage (his and Kitty's only child died young) is an
illusion, and the bright illusion of romance is a reality. Rebecca West's
first novel is a masterpiece of surprise and inevitability, with an ending
that evokes intense and unresolvable feelings.
3. "Effi Briest" by Theodor Fontane (1895).
"Effi Briest" is the last of the great 19th-century
novels of adultery, but it achieves its intensity and depth through a
relaxed, accessible style entirely unlike the heated melodrama of "Anna
Karenina" or the cool disdain of "Madame Bovary." The book is as much a
gentle comedy about the ordinary humanity of Effi and her stuffily correct
husband as it is a tragedy about a marriage that combines social success and
emotional failure. The story moves with quiet intensity through the kinds of
slow transformations that occur in any marriage, and it shows the ways in
which events from the distant past have an unexpected, transforming effect
in the present. Samuel Beckett, not known for displays of strong feeling,
cried his eyes out over "Effi Briest." Also worth searching for is Fontane's
"Beyond Recall," a novel of adultery in which the husband, not the wife, is
the one who frivolously and tragically strays from the more severe spouse.
4. "The Prime Minister" by Anthony Trollope
The fifth and best of Anthony Trollope's six
"Palliser" novels is also his subtlest portrait of a marriage. Plantagenet
Palliser and his wife, Lady Glencora, who have recently become the Duke and
Duchess of Omnium, never resolve the conflict between her unscrupulous
ambition and his belief that their marriage so thoroughly unites them that
her actions are also his own, even if he disapproves of them. Without making
any final judgments, Trollope explores the ways in which a marriage is not
just a relation between two persons but also a relation between the married
couple and the world around them.
5. "Love in the Western World" by Denis de
Rougemont (Harcourt, Brace, 1940).
This swift and sweeping history of eight centuries
of romantic passion, from "Tristan and Iseult" to the modern novel of
adultery, is more thrilling than most novels, and it is memorably clarifying
about the emotional and erotic turmoil of entering adulthood. The book shows
how romantic passion, in its most extreme form, can be satisfied only by the
death of the lovers: Romeo and Juliet, like all their literary ancestors and
heirs, prefer the intense purity of sudden death to the long, humdrum
ordinariness of marriage. De Rougemont argues that marriages fail when the
partners want a romance that can continue through a lifetime but succeed
when the partners recognize that marriage can be more complex, more
satisfying and more intense than even the brightest sudden flare of romance.
Among the many surprises in this book, written a few months before the start
of World War II, is its argument that modern warfare, with its unrelenting
goal of total victory, emerged from the same frame of mind that produced the
ideal of modern romance.
Mr. Mendelson is a professor of English and comparative literature at
Columbia University. His books include "Early Auden" and "The Things That
Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life."
Forwarded by a good friend
A Different Christmas Poem
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right, I'm out here
I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as
as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due
U.S. service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of
owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead,
sacrificed themselves for us.
LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum , Iraq.
Bob Jensen's related links ---
Forwarded by Moe
New Direction for the war on terrorists.
"Send Prior Service Vets over 60 "
I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I'm too old to track down
terrorists. (You can't be older than 42 to join the military.)
They've got the whole thing backwards. Instead of sending 18-year-olds off to
fight, they ought to take us old guys. You shouldn't be able to join a military
unit until you're at least 35.
Researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds. Old guys only
think about sex a couple of times a day, leaving us more than 28,000 additional
seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.
Young guys haven't lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a
dangerous soldier. "My back hurts! I can't sleep, I'm tired and hungry!" We are
impatient and maybe letting us kill some asshole that desperately deserves it
will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.
An 18-year-old doesn't even like to get up before 10 a.m.
Old guys always get up early to pee so what the hell. Besides, like I said,
"I'm tired and can't sleep and since I'm already up, I may as well be up killing
some fanatical son-of-a-bitch.
If captured we couldn't spill the beans because we'd forget where we put
them. In fact, name, rank, and serial number would be a real brainteaser.
Boot camp would be easier for old guys. We're used to getting screamed and
yelled at and we like soft food. We've also developed an appreciation for guns.
We've been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house, away from
the screaming and yelling.
They could lighten up on the obstacle course however. I've been in combat and
didn't see a single 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever
do any pushups after completing basic training. I can hear the Drill Sgt. now,
"Get down and give me ... er ... one."
Actually, the running part is kind of a waste of energy, too. I've never seen
anyone outrun a bullet.
An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him. He's still learning to
shave, to start up a conversation with a pretty girl. He still hasn't figured
out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head.
These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more
about life before sending them off into harm's way.
Let us old guys track down those dirty rotten cowards who attacked us on
September 11. The last thing an enemy would want to see right now is a couple of
million pissed off old farts with attitudes and automatic weapons who know that
their best years are already behind them.
If nothing else, put us on the border and we will have it secured the first
Bumper Stickers for Seniors ---
Auntie Bev tells me she remembers these (I'm too young to
Marshmallow Eating (Japanese Video) ---
Tidbits Archives ---
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
World Clock ---
Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/
Interesting Online Clock
Time by Time Zones ---
Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) ---
Facts about population growth (video) ---
Projected U.S. Population Growth ---
Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq ---
Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons ---
Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.
Three Finance Blogs
Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
FinancialRounds Blog ---
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) ---
Some Accounting Blogs
Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International
International Association of Accountants News ---
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries ---
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and
XBRL Blogs ---
Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New
Current and past editions of my newsletter called
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud
Online Books, Poems, References,
and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
Shared Open Courseware
(OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing
Free Textbooks and Cases ---
Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---
Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---
Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---
Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---
Teaching Materials (especially
video) from PBS
Teacher Source: Arts and
Teacher Source: Health & Fitness
Teacher Source: Math ---
Teacher Source: Science ---
Teacher Source: PreK2 ---
Teacher Source: Library Media ---
Free Education and
Research Videos from Harvard University ---
VYOM eBooks Directory ---
From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---
Online Mathematics Textbooks ---
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---
The word moodle is an acronym for "modular
object-oriented dynamic learning environment", which is quite a mouthful.
The Scout Report stated the following about Moodle 1.7. It is a
tremendously helpful opens-source e-learning platform. With Moodle,
educators can create a wide range of online courses with features that
include forums, quizzes, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and surveys. On the
Moodle website, visitors can also learn about other features and read about
recent updates to the program. This application is compatible with computers
running Windows 98 and newer or Mac OS X and newer.
Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials
Accountancy Discussion ListServs:
For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a
ListServ (usually for free) go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
AECM is an email Listserv list which
provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software
which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the
college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and
peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets,
multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base
programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc
Roles of a ListServ ---
CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of
all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an
unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments,
ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed.
Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L
or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for
a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional
accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or
education. Others will be denied access.
This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA.
This can be anything from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ
initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as
accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed
assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586