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 http://www.wallstreetfighter.com/2008/01/worlds-most-redneck-mailboxes.html
There are also some in the Redneck Photo Collection --- http://www.weeville.com/redneck_collection.htm

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 has  "five-holer" outhouse attached to the barn. There are two holes for adults and three holes for children.

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears_Catalog_Home
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 feed sacks, 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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/max01.htm

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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/vernon.htm

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 better machine.
Nicholas Carr in an interview with Spencer Reiss, "The Terrifying Future of Computing," Wired Magazine, December 20, 2007 ---
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-01/st_qa

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?

A 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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm


 

Tidbits on January 10, 2008
Bob Jensen

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

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

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Tutorials

Google Maps Street View --- http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/

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

Tips on computer and networking security --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm

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




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

We Are Trinity University (football's play of the year) --- http://www.trinity.edu/departments/public_relations/development_email/miracle/miracle.html
Also see http://www.trinitymiracle.com/

BigThink:  YouTube for Scholars (where intellectuals may post their lectures on societal issues) --- http://www.bigthink.com/

TED:  Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures --- http://www.ted.com/

Link Forwarded by Linda Ruchala
Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen ---
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/92

2007 Year in Review (Comedy Video) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztj2qfui114

From MIT
Searchable Lecture Browser --- --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI 

What's New in the Stanford Graduate School of Business (Video) --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/av/update_commmeeting.html

The Mom Song sung to the William Tell Overture (forwarded by John Donahue) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxT5NwQUtVM


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

Tchaikovsky's 'The Queen of Spades' From the Vienna State Opera (Act 1) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17818105

Love Under Siege: Rossini's 'Maometto Secondo' at the Concertgebouw (Act 1) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17175701

The Count Basie Orchestra with Ledisi in Concert --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17794048

Super Harmonica Playing --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfLhnkme2mE

Christian Scott: A New Jazz 'Anthem' --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17173217

Best Hip-Hop of 2007 (not my pleasure) --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17519166

Sony BMG to start selling music downloads without copy protection --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Wire/20018/?nlid=794

The Older the Violin, the Sweeter the Music --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violin
Fiddle (including fiddling styles) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddle
Violin vs. the Fiddle --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddle#Violin_vs._fiddle
Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were probably the world’s earliest fiddlers.

Videos of Famous Violinists --- http://vegyeskar.hu/violin.hegedu.video/

Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier
The Henry Reed Collection in the Library of Congress --- http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/reed/

Bob Jensen listens to music free online (and no commercials) --- http://www.slacker.com/ 


Photographs and Art

Old Gas Stations (when prices were less than a dollar a gallon) --- http://www.ohiobarns.com/othersites/gas/gas.html

Old Barns --- http://www.angelfire.com/id/photogreats/barnphotographstest.html
Also see http://blog.gino-caron.com/index.php?showimage=365&lang=en

Link Forwarded by Auntie Bev
Rattle Snakes in a Pipe --- http://community-2.webtv.net/karenlprince/AMUSTSEE/index.html

Beautiful Photographs from Around the World (hit the spacebar) --- Click Here

Action Photographs --- http://greatblogabout.com/?p=1265

Mark Story's The Face of Age --- http://www.markstoryphotography.com/

Lorie Earley Gallery --- http://www.loriearley.com/

Amazing Sand Castles --- http://www.funnies.com/sandcastles.htm

Redneck Photo Collection --- http://www.weeville.com/redneck_collection.htm

 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

A Different Christmas Poem --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2008/tidbits080114.htm#DifferentChristmasPoem

From The Economist Magazine
Style Guide --- http://www.economist.com/research/StyleGuide/

From Atlantic Magazine
Books & Critics --- http://www.theatlantic.com/index/books

From the University of Toronto
Representative Poetry Online --- http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/872.html

Project Gutenberg Update --- http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/

The Page (Poetry, Essays, Ideas) --- http://thepage.name/

Poetry Portal --- http://www.poetry-portal.com/

From the University of Western Michigan
A Small Anthology of Poems --- http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/

Poems by Komitas --- http://www.komitas.am/eng/poetry.htm

The Euphemism Generator (hit the reload button for boring fun)  --- http://walkingdead.net/perl/euphemism

Gullible Information --- http://www.gullible.info/

Open Letters --- http://www.openletters.net/

Pi (in mathematics) --- http://www.vvc.edu/ph/TonerS/mathpi.html

The Simpsons Quotes --- http://www.thesimpsonsquotes.com/




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 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i18/18a05601.htm?utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en

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 --- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=506884&in_page_id=1770

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 modeling.
Gary Langer
, "New Hampshire's Polling Fiasco," ABC News, January 9, 2008 --- http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenumbers/2008/01/new-hampshires.html 
Jensen Comment
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 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22571349/?GT1=10755
Jensen Comment
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 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110011098

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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119975811297173767.html

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 http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110010382  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 today.
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 objectively.
"NBC admits bias toward Obama," WorldNetDaily, January 8, 2008 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59593

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 --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/shotts_elections.html

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 ---
http://online.wsj.com/public/page/8_0004.html?bcpid=86195573&bclid=212338097&bctid=1364230113

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 ---
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110011083

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 --- http://physorg.com/news118756781.html
Jensen Comment
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 when necessary.
Gerald M. Steinberg (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) as quoted on January 7, 2008 in an email from Naomi Ragen [nragen@netvision.net.il

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 --- http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6640.shtml

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
See http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110005191
Jensen Comment
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 Cuba 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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119966495923671075.html

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 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110009470
Jensen Comment
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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119941453085566759.html
Jensen Comment
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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119941527244966957.html
Jensen Comment
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 Senator Patrick Leahy, Presidential Candidate John Edwards (a trial lawyer loyal to his profession), Keith 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.

A 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. Science, Evolution and Creationism won’t surprise 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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/04/qt 

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 --- http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=104&sid=1319922

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 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/medialog/?id=110011093

"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 ---
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110011092

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 commentaries

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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118610945461187080.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

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 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22184921/from/ET/

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 --- http://boortz.com/nuze/index.html

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 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110011102 

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 objectives.
Mark R. Levin, "Man of the Year," Human Events, January 7, 2008 --- http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=24305
Jensen Comment
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 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110011033

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 and videos?
Douglas MacKinnon, "U.S. Military Defeats Fourth Estate," Town Hall, January 7, 2008 --- http://www.townhall.com/columnists/DouglasMacKinnon/2008/01/07/us_military_defeats_fourth_estate

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 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/07/washington/07military.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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, 2008 --- Click Here

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 --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/84535

Does Iran really want to provoke a war with the U.S. in this election year? Watch the video ---
http://www.breitbart.tv/html/26424.html

 




Good News for Accounting Graduates: Hiring Outlook Remains Strong in 2008 ---
http://accounting.smartpros.com/x60255.xml

College Business Students Cite Career Opportunities, Not Money, as Top Criteria for Choosing Employer ---
http://accounting.smartpros.com/x59967.xml

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


Question
Should you share your knowledge on YouTube?

"Thanks to YouTube, Professors Are Finding New Audiences," Jeffrey R. Young, Inside Higher Ed, January 9, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/free/2008/01/1159n.htm

One Web site that opened this week, Big Think,  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 says.

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 allowed.

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 blog tracking podcasts and videos made by colleges and professors.

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) --- http://www.bigthink.com/

TED:  Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures --- http://www.ted.com/

UC Berkeley and other major universities now offer hundreds of courses on YouTube --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

January 9, 2008 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

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" delivery mechanisms....

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.

David Fordham
PBGH Faculty Fellow
James Madison University School of Accounting

January 9, 2008 reply from Stacy A. Kostenbauer [kostenbas@STUDENTS.SOU.EDU]

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,

sk

January 9, 2008 reply from Richard J. Campbell [campbell@VIRTUALPUBLISHING.NET]

Bob: If you do a search on www.youtube.com  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 videos.

Richard

January 9, 2008 reply from Steven Hornik [shornik@BUS.UCF.EDU]

David,

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
407-823-5739
Second Life: Robins Hermano

http://mydebitcredit.com
yahoo ID: shornik
 

January 9, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Steve,

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.

Camtasia has made the video more interesting by making lectures much more than video of talking heads.

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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm 

Bob Jensen

 


Question
If you want to go on YouTube, how should you make your videos?

Jensen Answer
I recommend featuring computer screens that you narrate using Camtasia --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HelpersVideos.htm

However, you can also get a digital video camera. I suggest that professors consult their media departments on campus.


Question
What is the new YouTube for Intellectuals?

"'YouTube for Intellectuals' Goes Live," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/2646/youtube-for-intellectuals-goes-live?at

'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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Video

January 9, 2008 reply from Joseph Brady [bradyj@lerner.udel.edu]

Judging from my quick scan this morning, this site is not very much like YouTube, but the topics do look interesting.

Joe

 


"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 --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
The world of ubiquitous computing is the wave of the future in technology. My threads on ubiquitous computing are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ubiquit.htm


From Stanford University
How to shop for the cell phone that's right for you --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/narayanan_telecom.html


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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119932334970563823.html


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 --- http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_responsibility_paradox/

Also see https://alumni.gsb.stanford.edu/lifelonglearning/news/greatergood.html


"Ten Best (News) Stories of 2008," by Paul Ibrahim, North Star Writers Group, January 7, 2008 --- http://www.northstarwriters.com/pi086.htm

10. Burj Dubai becomes the world’s tallest freestanding structure:
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 ban:
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 before it.

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 our year.

"Ten Worst Stories of 2007," by Paul Ibrahim, North Star Writers Group, December 31, 2007 --- http://www.northstarwriters.com/pi086.htm --- http://www.northstarwriters.com/pi085.htm


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 --- http://physorg.com/news118756338.html

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 deals with.

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  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245gloss.htm
Filename Extensions --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_extensions
Learn more about file extensions (those three letters at the end of computer file names) --- http://www.filezed.com/

http://www.dotwhat.net/

http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/fileextensionsm.asp  

http://www.file-extensions.org/

http://www.jerryjm.host.sk/ext/ 

http://www.icdatamaster.com/d.html

http://filext.com/

 


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 --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/dal_bo_corruption.html

"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 --- http://www.rd.com/content/the-government-is-wasting-your-tax-dollars/4/

1. Taxes:
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 and Afghanistan.

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 industrialized nations.

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 otherwise wasted.

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 budget.

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 them.

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 allow.

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 & 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 Walker:

• 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 everybody's interest.

The Most Criminal Class is Writing the Laws --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#Lawmakers


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 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119085546436140827.html

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 detected.
Inside Higher Ed, January 9, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/09/qt

"Earmarks Again Eat Into the Amount Available for Merit-Based Research, Analysis Finds," by Jeffrey Brainard, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1161n.htm

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 says.

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 grants, the analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science found.

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 competition.

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 2003, 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 federal government.

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

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


"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 --- http://www.ifets.info/journals/10_4/22.pdf
Roberts, T. S., & McInnerney, J. M. (2007). Seven Problems of Online Group Learning (and Their Solutions). Educational Technology & Society, 10 (4), 257-268.

ABSTRACT
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”.

Keywords
Online collaborative learning, CSCL, Group learning, Group work, Free riders

Bob Jensen's threads on online and/or asynchronous learning are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm


Scott's reflections on the trends of the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Meetings

"The Hopped-Up Conference Hopper," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, January 8, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/01/09/mclemee 

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?”

After a 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.

This was 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.

The shift 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.

The 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.

It should 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.

How 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 The Valve 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 (Norton, 2001).

In other words, it is an anthology of responses to an anthology intended to negate another anthology. Maybe it should have an ouroborus 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 academic press.

It is, 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 for free.

The 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.

No 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.

As it 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 table.

Not 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 deserved.

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 post 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 age.


Second Life is Not Always a Better Life

January 4, 2008 message from Steven Hornik [shornik@BUS.UCF.EDU]

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:

http://www.mydebitcredit.com/2008/01/04/was-second-life-engaging/ 

Highlights are:

* Second Life was difficult to use / required better hardware
* 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
407-823-5739

Second Life: Robins Hermano http://mydebitcredit.com  yahoo ID: shornik

Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#SecondLife
The history of Second Life is outlined at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life


"Second Life closes banks after months of scandals, virtual banks get an eviction notice," MIT's Technology Review, January 10, 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20037/?nlid=797 

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 "The 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. (See "Second 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 real dollars.

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 blog.

Bloomfield is hosting a forum on the matter in Second Life today at 2:00 p.m.; the forum can be found here. 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 says.

The history of Second Life is outlined at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life
(Especially note the sections on real estate, businesses, and organizations)

January 10, 2008 reply from Aaron Delwiche at Trinity University

Hi Bob,

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: https://lists.secondlife.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/educators , 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 (see: 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 promotions (see: http://www.trinity.edu/adelwich/metaverse/readings.html ). 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!

Warm regards,
Aaron Delwiche

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


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 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1083n.htm?at

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 business.

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 (The 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 Long History
"Wal-Mart heir returns degree amid cheating claims," iWon News, October 21, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/iWonOct21

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 Sports Arena."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on celebrity cheating are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm#Celebrities


January 4, 2008 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]

PAPERS ON ONLINE RESEARCH, WRITING, AND CITATION PRACTICES

"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 http://connect.educause.edu/term_view/EDUCAUSE2007 .

......................................................................

RECOMMENDED READING

"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 carolyn_kotlas@unc.edu 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: http://www.arts.gov/research/ToRead_ExecSum.pdf 

"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 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Wire/20018/?nlid=794


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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/03/ebooks 

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

Bob Jensen's links to free online textbooks and other electronic literature --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

January 3, 2008 reply from Don Ramsey [dramsey@UDC.EDU]

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 anchor.

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 banks.

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!

Cheers,

Don Ramsey

January 4, 2008 reply from Carol Flowers [cflowers@OCC.CCCD.EDU]

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,

XXXXX

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 options at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks 

Bob Jensen

PS
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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5342/acct5342.htm


"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 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2644&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en 

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 --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_Search_Books

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

Bob Jensen's links to free online textbooks and other electronic literature --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm


"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 ---
http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2642&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm


"Searching Library Collections in Facebook," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 7, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2642&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

A new application lets Facebook users start their library research in the popular social-networking system. The plug-in provides an interface in Facebook for searching the popular Worldcat 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 Elmhurst College, Pace University, and Ryerson University. JSTOR, the popular, nonprofit digital archive of scholarly publications, also offers 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook
Facebook has 58 million active users (including non-collegiate members) worldwide

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm


Fraternities Trying to Restore Images of Men/Women of Manners and Responsibility
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, 2008 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17872719 

"Inside college parties: surprising findings about drinking behavior," PhysOrg, January 3, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news118598891.html 

Also see "Calling the Folks About Campus Drinking," by Samuel G. Friedman, The New York Times, September 12, 2007 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/education/12education.html 

Bob Jensen's threads on student partying are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#StudentPartying


"Defining Diversity Down:  A proposal to make it easier to get into California colleges," The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2008 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110011101 

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 voters.

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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#AcademicStandards


The Postsecondary Picture for Minority Students (and Men)

The newest report from the National Center for Education Statistics is, as its title (”Status 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 States.”

Progress and 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 table below:

  1976 2004 % Change
Black 943,355 1,918,465 103%
Hispanic 352,893 1,666,859 372%
Asian/Pacific Islander 169,291 949,882 461%
American Indian/Alaska Native 69,729 160,318 130%

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.

In addition, 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 50 percent.

But those 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 Indian/Alaska Natives.

Similarly, 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.

Concerning 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.

By virtually 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:

The 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
 
All 52.0% 42.9% 14.2%  
White 52.4% 44.1% 11.8%  
Black 45.7% 35.7% 28.6%  
Hispanic 54.3% 41.4% 17.1%  
Asian/Pacific Islander 53.8% 46.2% 7.5%  
American Indian/Alaska Native 49.9% 39.1% 21.8%  

Similarly, 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.

Women are also outperforming men as degree recipients, as seen in the table below:

Degrees Conferred by Gender and Race, 2003-4

Demographic Group All degrees
White men 818,690
White women 1,121,646
   
Black men 87,728
Black women 184,183
   
Hispanic men 78,775
Hispanic women 122,784
   
Asian/Pacific Islander men 75,435
Asian/Pacific Islander women 93,335
   
American Indian/Alaska Native men 8,476
American Indian/Alaska Native women 14,255

Question
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 training programs, The Boston Globe reported. The failure rates are 54 percent (black), 52 percent (Latino) and 23 percent (white).
Inside Higher Ed, August 20, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/08/20/qt


From Harvard University
Ig Nobel Prizes --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ig_Nobel_Prize

2007

  • Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when given Viagra.
  • Biology: Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk, for taking a census of all the mites and other life forms that live in people's beds.
  • 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.
  • Linguistics: 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 backward.
  • Literature: Glenda Browne, for her study of the word "the".
  • Medicine: Dan Meyer and Brian Witcombe, for investigating the side-effects of swallowing swords.
  • Nutrition: Brian Wansink, for investigating people's appetite for mindless eating by secretly feeding them a self-refilling bowl of soup.[8]
  • 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 --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ig_Nobel_Prize_winners

 


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 www.pocketfinder.com  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 --- http://physorg.com/news119100357.html


Intel Quits One Laptop Per Child Program (at the request of the competition)
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, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news118637835.html


In one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college.
Joseph Sobran as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-11-27-07.htm

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 ---
http://chronicle.com/review/brainstorm/fendrich/slow-learning 

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


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 --- http://chronicle.com/review/brainstorm/katz/does-history-matter-for-liberal-education


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."
See Below

"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 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1117n.htm 

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."

Jensen Comment
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?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

“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 --- Click Here


The schism between academic research and the business world: 
The outside world has little interest in research of the business school professors
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 --- http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/dec2007/bs20071223_173004.htm 

The 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 business-school research.

B-school 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, organizers said.

The 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.

BusinessWeek.com reporter Alison Damast recently spoke with Olian about the committee and the potential impact of its findings on the business-school community.

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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

The dearth of research findings replications --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#Replication

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

January 2, 2008 reply from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

Bob,

AACSB chair Judy Olian (dean, UCLA school of biz) is quoted as saying that 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs are graduates of a businesss school.

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?

David Albrecht

January 2, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

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) --- http://snipurl.com/aohkohler 

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 skills.

You can read much of the history of this schism at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession 

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 following at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession 

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....

Ron
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 ---
http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-01-08-08.htm

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 and joined Media Matters, 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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm

Jensen Comment

I think the site pretty well states my position --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm 

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 candidate.

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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/AAAaward_files/AAAaward02.htm 

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 Websites.

Bob Jensen


"NCAA to Support Research on Diversity in College Sports," The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, January 3, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/news/article/3698/ncaa-to-support-research-on-diversity-in-college-sports?at

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 Laboratory for 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 divisions.

"A Texas Team Loads Up on All-American Talent, With No Americans," by Robin Williams, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i18/18a03001.htm

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 seasons.

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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics


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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/07/plagiarism
Jensen Comment
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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm#ProfessorsWhoPlagiarize


Linebacker's Wife Says She Wrote His Papers (and took two online courses for him)
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 investigation.
"Linebacker's Wife Says She Wrote His Papers," Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, January 5, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/news/article/3707/linebackers-wife-says-she-wrote-his-papers?at
Jensen Comment
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 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics


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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/01/04/sack

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 universities.

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 consider them.

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 semester.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics
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).

Question
In a dispute between coaches and faculty, guess which side wins, in some cases at least,  when the publicity is out?

Hint:
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 this year.”
Inside Higher Ed, August 6, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/08/06/qt

But the 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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/08/08/recruit

Officials at 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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/08/08/recruit

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


Learn more about file extensions (those three letters at the end of computer file names) --- http://www.filezed.com/

http://www.dotwhat.net/

http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/fileextensionsm.asp  

http://www.file-extensions.org/

http://www.jerryjm.host.sk/ext/ 

http://www.icdatamaster.com/d.html

http://filext.com/


"Avoid These Debit Card Traps:  New scams, fees, and traps to avoid," by Teri Cettina Close, Readers Digest, January 2008, pp.124-129 ---
http://www.rd.com/content/debit-card-traps-and-fees-to-avoid/

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 receipt.

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 account.

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 furniture.

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 in.

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.

What's Next?

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 fraudulently.

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 charges.
Michelle Singletary, "Watch Your Debit Card Balance," NPR, July 31, 2007 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12374687

Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card and debit card companies are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


Prevent Identity Theft Tips to protect yourself from ID thieves

"Fight Back -- 8 Simple Ways," by Karen Lodrick
Karen Lodrick's website, www.fightingbacknow.com , 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 accounts.

7. Mix numbers and letters, upper and lowercase, in passwords.

8. Shred all documents, especially from credit card companies, before discarding.

Bob Jensen's threads on identity theft are at the following two links:

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#IdentityTheft

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection


Education Tutorials

Resources for handicapped and disabled learners --- http://accessnsdl.org/
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Handicapped

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


Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

PIVoT: Physics Interactive Video Tutor (for handicapped learners) --- http://accessnsdl.org/

Canadian Space Agency Kid Science --- http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/kidspace/kidspace.asp

Natural History Museum of London --- http://www.nhm.ac.uk/kids-only/fun-games/mission-explore/

Center for Earth and Planetarium Study (Smithsonian) --- http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/ceps/research/research.cfm

Great Lakes Planetarium Association --- http://www.glpaweb.org/

Geodesy (Canadian Spatial Reference System) --- http://www.geod.nrcan.gc.ca/edu/geod/whatis/index_e.php

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


Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Quick Tour of Government Information Sites --- http://scout.wisc.edu/Projects/PastProjects/toolkit/enduser/archive/1997/euc-9707.html

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications --- http://catalog.gpo.gov/F

State and Local Government on the Web --- http://www.piperinfo.com/state/states.html

International Documents Collection --- http://www.library.northwestern.edu/govinfo/resource/internat/

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


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 --- http://www.robertniles.com/stats/

Pi (in mathematics) --- http://www.vvc.edu/ph/TonerS/mathpi.html

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


History Tutorials

HistoryWorld --- http://www.historyworld.net/

American Women's History:  A Research Guide --- http://frank.mtsu.edu/~kmiddlet/history/women.html

Natural History Museum of London --- http://www.nhm.ac.uk/kids-only/fun-games/mission-explore/

Westward by Sea --- http://memory.loc.gov:8081/ammem/award99/mymhihtml/mymhihome.html

History of the Workhouse --- http://www.workhouses.org.uk/

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


Language Tutorials

Learning Languages Net --- http://www.learninglanguages.net/

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

January 7, 2008 message from Silvio Branco [silvio@babylon.com]

Dear Mr. Jensen,

First and 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 software company.

Babylon launched a free Business Terms Lookup 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: http://www.babylon.com/define/22/Business-Dictionary.html

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,

Silvio Branco

Jensen Comment
I added the above message to the following three sites:

 

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


Writing Tutorials

From The Economist Magazine
Style Guide --- http://www.economist.com/research/StyleGuide/

The Euphemism Generator (hit the reload button for boring fun)  --- http://walkingdead.net/perl/euphemism

The Page (Poetry, Essays, Ideas) --- http://thepage.name/

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


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

 


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 --- http://physorg.com/news118847402.html 


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 --- http://physorg.com/news119011299.html


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 --- http://physorg.com/news118931040.html


"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 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/20007/?nlid=788

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 volunteer.

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 says.

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 --- http://physorg.com/news119114292.html


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 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/04/qt
Also see http://physorg.com/news118598891.html


Some professors have no ethical right to criticize Barry Bonds and other steroid-injecting athletes
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 sexual function.
Karen J. Winkler, "Pill Popping Professors," Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i18/18b00401.htm?utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en




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 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/fivebest/?id=110011087
 

1. "Riceyman Steps" by Arnold Bennett (George H. Doran, 1923).

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 (Century, 1918).

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 (1876).

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 by choice.

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 many people
as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
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 what we
owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who
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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Music.htm#Inspirational




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.

For starters:

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 night.

 


Bumper Stickers for Seniors --- http://www.broughton1955reunion.myevent.com/3/contactus.htm


Auntie Bev tells me she remembers these (I'm too young to remember) --- http://www.his-forever.com/do_you_remember.htm 
 


Marshmallow Eating (Japanese Video) --- http://www.snotr.com/video/802




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

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

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

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

Three Finance Blogs

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

Some Accounting Blogs

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

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

Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moodle  --- http://moodle.org/ 

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

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

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

Roles of a ListServ --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
 

CPAS-L (Practitioners) http://pacioli.loyola.edu/cpas-l/ 
CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
Yahoo (Practitioners)  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xyztalk
This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
AccountantsWorld  http://accountantsworld.com/forums/default.asp?scope=1 
This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
Business Valuation Group BusValGroup-subscribe@topica.com 
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM

 

 

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