Good Horses Make Good Videos

Down the road from our cottage in New Hampshire an elderly man's life centers on his Belgian draft horses. Although Mr. Schmidt lives humbly, some of his big horses are quite valuable. He told me he turned down an offer of over $100,000 for a team because he suspected that the buyer might not treat the horses right. In the summer he takes some of his horses to pulling contests around New England (usually at county fairs). He's an expert on training young horses for pulling competitions.

Draft horses were bred to be more gentle than most other types of horses even though they originated to carry crusaders donned in heavy armor. They're the biggest horses on the planet and were bred to pull their hearts out (although they cannot take extreme heat as well as mules and oxen). The record height was a shire over seven feet tall at the withers (neck base). Best known because of Budweiser show horses are the handsome and feathered (long hair around the hooves) Clydsdales. Over a hundred years ago these handsome and powerful horses pulled wagons loaded to the top with beer kegs.

Among my favorite recollections of childhood are memories of draft horses. On the Jensen home farm the breeds were mixed although the favored breed was probably the Belgian (or part Belgian) work horse. The Jensen horses were good workers but they were not show horses. My grandfather Christian Granville (Grant) Dourte, however, owned show horses, including the 1910 Iowa State Grand Champion named "Hierogliphe" (a Percheron stallion). Today my cousin Don Jenson has black Percherons that he drives at events like weddings and town parades in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. His great joy in life is hauling a wagon full of laughing children in a parade. If you visit the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld you will see Percheron horses pulling carriages on the Main Street USA.

In the early 1900s, long before I was born, Grant Dourte owned the livery stable in Swea City, Iowa. He held horse shows and traded in top breeds of horses, especially draft horses. My grandfather was a colorful horse trader who in his prime owned nine farms and half the town of Swea City. He sometimes would rent a private train car to take to Chicago for business. He got out of the horse business when his fine livery barn in Swea City burned to the ground. Fifteen big and beautiful draft horses perished in that tragic fire. Grandfather later lost eight of his nine farms and got me in the Great Depression, but he did manage to keep one farm about nine miles north of Swea City. I eventually inherited this farm after it was passed on to my parents. In the summertime I spent weeks at a time living with my grandparents in Swea City during the 1940s. I've very fond memories of those carefree childhood days --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/max01.htm

One of the things that slowed my grandfather down was a run-away team out on the farm. When the wagon flipped at full speed my grandfather broke both shoulders, a collar bone, an arm, and both legs. After that he drove his horses and his cars at a snail's pace.

A number of horse breeds are used as draft horses, with the popularity of a given breed often closely linked to geographic location. Examples include: American Cream, Ardennes, Belgian, Boulonnais, Breton. Clydesdale, Dole Gudbrandsdal, Irish Draught, Percheron, Shire, Suffolk Punchand and the Gypsy Vanner horse.
Draft Horses (with pictures) ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_horse

Videos of Draft Horses

The best-known horse originating in New England is the mixed breed horse first bred by Justin Morgan West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789. Morgan horses combined the strength of draft horses with the speed and stamina of Arab breeds. Morgans are smaller than draft horses but can often do more work for longer periods of time and in hotter weather. Vermont named the "Vermont State Horse" after the Morgan horse --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_Horse
I'm told that today Morgans are bred to be somewhat smaller like the one named Travis that I bought for my young son while living in Florida. They generally have a very heavy mane and tail.

History of and care of a horse --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse

THE AGE OF A HORSE (Author Unknown)
http://www.horseloversheadquarters.com/site/570970/page/741468
To tell the age of any horse
Inspect the lower jaw of course;
The six front teeth the tale will tell,
And every doubt and fear dispel.

Two middle nippers you behold
Before the colt is two weeks old;
Before eight weeks two more will come
Eight months: the corners cut the gum.
 
At two the middle "Nippers" drop:
At three the second pair can't stop;
When four years old the third pair goes,
At five a full new set he shows.

The deep black spots will pass from view
At six years from the middle two;
The second pair at seven years;
At eight the spot each corner clears.
 
From the middle "Nippers" upper jaw
At nine the black spots will withdraw.
The second pair at ten are bright;
Eleven finds the corners light.

As time goes on the horsemen know
The oval teeth three-sided grow;
Then longer get - project before -
Till twenty, when they know no more."

Jensen Comment
In elderly horses and humans the teeth do not grow longer. They only seem longer because the gums recede with age. Hence the expression "getting a little long in the tooth."

I said that the Jensen farm did not have show horses. Actually for many years my Uncle Millen Jensen on the home farm had an albino stallion named Cap, but Cap was a saddle horse rather than a draft horse. Cap was trained to do some show ring tricks, and people brought mares from hundreds of miles away for breeding with Cap. Cap was always called an "albino stallion," although I recently learned that there are no purely albino horses. The only horses properly called white are those with pink skin under a white hair coat, a far more rare occurrence than grays with black skin underneath. There are no truly albino horses (no pigmented skin and pink eyes). True albinism is a lethal gene in horses --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse#Common_myths_and_terminology_errors
The best known white horse was the Lone Ranger's horse named Silver --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Ranger
Hi ho Silver away!

 

Tidbits on January 18, 2008
Bob Jensen

Videos From Bob Jensen's Personal Camera (the pictures are clear but some of them lost a bit in the video) ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/EdTech/Video/Personal/
The Tidbits.wmv video is narrated.

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

If you think your life is not going anywhere, think again --- http://dingo.care2.com/cards/flash/5409/galaxy.swf

Patriots 16-0 (Make that 17-0) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGbua9TV18c

Forwarded by Roger Hermanson
Some of the world's greatest quotations from great leaders (video) --- http://www.greatquotesmovie.com/

Aristocrats of Campus Humor (video) --- http://chronicle.com/media/video/v54/i18/comedy/
(Not always politically correct)
A college comedy contest in New Jersey offers a peek inside the undergraduate mind. It isn't pretty in there.
Thomas Bartlett, "Funny You Should Say That," Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i18/18a00801.htm

Reviewer Persona & Shadow: Insights from Jungian Psychology, by our friend Dan Stone at the University of Kentucky ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0J7AfM4gRw
Jensen Comment
I confessed to changing my "reviewer persona and shadow" at http://snipurl.com/jensenconfession
The longer URL is
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2007/tidbits071206.htm#JensenConfession

From the U.S. Library of Congress
Exploring the Early Americas --- http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/earlyamericas/

A cocaine boom in Europe and the continent's strong currency have combined to fuel a thriving industry: euro laundering.
The Wall Street Journal Video --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120044304824892769.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

George Wright forwarded the link to this nasty video
How to Cheat With Crib Notes (Video) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpQZDJ2fGnI
Especially beware of a student who brings in a six pack.
Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm

Teamwork Cheating on Exams --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH2KZTyp3_A&feature=related
(But students in the front row are out of luck.)

Skirting an Exam --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slL9WkjZt-g
(There's hope for the front row too. But if you have a male instructor, your chances of getting caught are greater.)

How to cheat in an exam with just a pen and paper --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fr0e8DqQ-E&feature=related

How to Cheat at School --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcmHVSZr32o

Howstuffworks: "How Electric Cars Work" --- http://auto.howstuffworks.com/electric-car.htm

Mike Gasior filmed a new video on the supposed "credit crisis" --- http://www.afs-seminars.com/video/2008-January-768K.wmv 
His past video commentaries are at http://www.afs-seminars.com/v-commentary.html

Math in Daily Life --- http://www.learner.org/interactives/dailymath/index.html

Cell Phone Karma --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFuq01NvEnA

Talking Dogs --- http://video.stumbleupon.com/#p=lt16jr0xaf

Accounting Videos on YouTube --- http://www.youtube.com/
Search for “campbell79” or “susancrosson”
Links forwarded by Richard Campbell

Texas Ditch Surfing (read that "Lawyers Delight") --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVKOCOn8pu4
Also see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMP2dRg-YIw

Netflix's coming attraction: Unlimited movies streamed over the Internet --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Wire/20062/?nlid=806
Jensen Comment
For years I've loved renting Netfix DVDs. It's a heck of a deal for movie lovers.


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

NPR Archives --- http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/archive.php?thingId=1107

The Year 2007 in Music for Kids --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16881065

Berlin Philharmonic, in Concert at Carnegie Hall --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16227797

Daniel Pollack at the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18026453

Jam session with Ray Charles, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis (video) --- http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xe5w0_ray-charles-jerry-lee-lewis
Also see --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_k-CL3dJ8k 

WXPN's 'Blues Show' host counts off the best blues CDs of 2007.

World Music 2007 Top 10
A sampling of year's best releases from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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


Photographs and Art

Harbin Snow and Ice Festival in China --- http://rtoddking.com/chinawin2003_hb_if.htm

Global Distribution of Poverty --- http://sedac.ciesin.org/povmap/

Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings --- http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/2007/freud/

MacWorld in 2008 --- Click Here

Laura den Hertog Galleries (reminds me of Andrew Wyeth) --- http://www.lauradenhertog.com/Lauradenhertog.com/Laura_den_Hertog_.html

Irish Blessing --- http://www.e-water.net/viewflash.php?flash=irishblessing_en
My favorite is still the one from Jesse
The Irish Blessing --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/blessing.htm 
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on. Then scroll back to the top for the Irish countryside slide show.
Also found at http://www.barb-coolwaters.com/c001/thebend.html 
Also see http://www.e-water.net/viewflash.php?flash=irishblessing_en 

"Flickr Taps User Tags to Organize Library of Congress Images," by Scott Gilbertson, Wired News, January 16, 2008 --- http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2008/01/flickr-taps-use.html

Flickr has unveiled a new project, dubbed The Commons, which will give Flickr members an opportunity to browse and tag photos from Library of Congress archives. The goal is to create what Flickr likes to call an "organic information system," in other words, a searchable database of tags that makes it easier for researchers to find images.

The pilot project features a small sampling of the Library of Congress’ some 14 million images. For now you’ll find two collections. The first is called “American Memory: Color photographs from the Great Depression” and features color photographs of the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection including “scenes of rural and small-town life, migrant labor, and the effects of the Great Depression.”

The second collection is the The George Grantham Bain Collection which features “photos produced and gathered by George Grantham Bain for his news photo service, including portraits and worldwide news events, but with special emphasis on life in New York City.” The Bain collection images date from around 1900-1920.

In effect the Library of Congress has become a Flickr user, complete with its own stream and while it’s great to see these image available to a much wider audience, we’re not so sure how much it’s going to help researchers.

If you’re looking for historical photographs do you want to search through comments from self-appointed experts criticizing the composition skills of photography pioneers or adding the ever insightful “wow?” Then there’s the inevitable comments soliciting photos to be added to whatever banal and increasingly inane groups and pools that Flickr members have come up with.

The tagging aspect will no doubt produce something of value, but pardon our cynicism, this may well turn out to be a good test of whether the positive aspects of the Flickr community outweigh the negative.

 

 


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

Forwarded by Roger Hermanson
Some of the world's greatest quotations from great leaders (video) --- http://www.greatquotesmovie.com/

Printmaking
Vive la difference: The English and French stereotype in satirical prints, 1720-1815 --- http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/viveladifference/

Arden: World of William Shakespeare --- http://swi.indiana.edu/arden/gi_specs.shtml

Dilbert Comic Strip --- http://snipurl.com/wpdilbert

Banned (Forbidden) Books --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Banned

Open Library --- http://www.openlibrary.org/
For a good review, see http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/08/08/mclemee 

Readprint.com offers thousands of free books for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast. To find the book you desire to read, start by looking through the author index --- http://www.readprint.com/ 

Finnegans Wake Extensible Elucidation Treasury --- http://www.fweet.org/ 

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) --- Click Here

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) --- Click Here

From the University of Pennsylvania PENNsound [audio poetry, literature, and reviews) --- http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/ 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. --- http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/AlcLitt.html 

Great electronic "books" from the University of Texas and Princeton University Dante Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise (a multimedia learning experience) --- http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/ 
Also see Princeton University's contribution (in Italian or English) --- http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/pdp/
Princeton's versions have both lectures and multimedia!




The great strength of the AICPA is that it brings so many men and women together as members of a single profession. Individually, we do great things for American households, businesses and governments. Together, we are an even more powerful force for prosperity in the economy at large—we pool our knowledge and speak with one voice. In the face of many challenges, we—as a united profession—have a fantastic future ahead of us.
AICPA Chairman Randy Fletchall’s inaugural speech delivered as he accepted the chairmanship of the Institute’s Board of Directors at the governing Council’s October 2007 meeting in Tampa, Fla. --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jan2008/united_profession.htm
AICPA=American Institute of Certified Public Accountants --- http://www.aicpa.org/
AICPA Accounting Education Center --- http://ceae.aicpa.org/

Accounting is the most popular major on US college campuses, according to the Job Outlook 2005 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The study found more college students are choosing to pursue accounting than any other discipline, followed by electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and business administration/management.
CA Magazine, "The New IT Profession," April 2006 --- http://www.camagazine.com/index.cfm/ci_id/30481/la_id/1.htm

Yesterday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, General Motors announced a partnership with Coskata of Warrenville, IL, a new company that claims it can make ethanol from wood chips, grass, and trash--including old tires--for a dollar a gallon. That's significantly less than it costs to make the biofuel from corn grain, which is the source of almost all the ethanol made in the United States.
Kevin Bullis, "Cheap Ethanol from Tires and Trash:  GM teams with a startup aiming to produce low-cost biofuels," MIT's Technology Review, January 14, 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20056/?nlid=803
Also see http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20080113-0946-autoshow-gm-ethanol.html
Also see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/business/14gm.html

With the credit markets convulsing and merger activity slowing, what, pray tell, is the fate of law-firm associates who serve the titans of Wall Street? For sure, the most vulnerable are lawyers in so-called structured-finance practices. These are attorneys involved in the process of packaging assets such as mortgages, auto loans or credit-card debt into securities. But will layoffs creep into other practice areas as well?
Peter Lattman, "Structured Finance Proves To Be a Vulnerable Area," The Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2008; Page B17 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120045941678994161.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

In their shared opinion the local funeral home was the best-looking place in Petunia (Texas). “It figures you’d have to die in this town to experience beauty,” Mr. Leleux quotes his mother as having said.
Janet Maslin when reviewing The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy by Robert Leleux, The New York Times, January 14, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/books/14masl.html

The Wall Street Journal ran out a new Web site for the WSJ's editorial page, offering all editorials/op-eds, video interviews, and commentary --- for free --- http://online.wsj.com/public/page/opinion.html
Jensen Comment
The embedded Web links are quite useful even for scholars who generally disagree with WSJ editorials. For example, I'm often riled by the WSJ's visceral hatred of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but I find the referencing useful. I cannot determine as of yet whether the archives of the WSJ Editorial Page will henceforth also be free. For quite some time some of the other major newspapers have made virtually all the current articles free but not the archives. The WSJ has never had a free electronic version for all current articles although links from a newsletter called Opinion Journal have often been free for some current editorial page articles. I think that the new owner of the WSJ intends to eventually expand the free electronic version to other areas of current news in the WSJ. The free versions of editorial page items are is probably the first step. I do not anticipate making the WSJ archives free.

However, college students and faculty can usually access archives of thousands of newspapers and magazines free through the subscription services paid for by their campus libraries. These libraries, however, require passwords from authorized users in each campus community. It's very easy at times to forget to use those wonderful and expensive database subscriptions made available to campus communities for free. Authorized persons who've not used these for some time may be surprised at how much easier the libraries have made access to these archives as well as archives of other scholarly publications. I make use of this service for particularly expense items and for items that I do not consult frequently.

A new survey estimates that 151,000 violent deaths took place in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2006. The finding increases the controversy surrounding an earlier study that came up with a much higher death count for the years following the American-led invasion. That earlier study put the number at over 600,000.The new research, described in a paper published online on Wednesday by The New England Journal of Medicine, was based on interviews with people in homes grouped in clusters throughout Iraq.
Lila Gutterman, "Violent Deaths in Iraq Overestimated by Scholars, New Study Suggests," Chronicle of Higher Education, January 10, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1175n.htm
Also see NPR's account at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17970231
Jensen Comment
A liberal Johns Hopkins scientist is shown to be more interested in politics than in science. Here are a couple of archived tidbits on October 16, 2006 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/%7Erjensen/tidbits/2006/tidbits061016.htm

Statistical analysis or politics?
The MSM had a field day on October 11 with two reports. The first was by a Johns Hopkins scientist, suggesting that there have been more than 600,000 civilian deaths in Iraq during the current conflict - a full order of magnitude greater than the US-government estimate of 30-50,000. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies criticized the way the estimate was derived and noted that the results were released shortly before the Nov. 7 election." They're almost certainly way too high. This is not analysis, this is politics," Cordesman said.
"Rumsfeld, Casey Reject Reports on Iraqi Civilian Deaths, Troop Levels," by Mark Finkelstein, Newsbusters, October 12, 2006 --- http://newsbusters.org/node/8269

At a separate Pentagon briefing, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said that the figure "seems way, way beyond any number that I have seen. I've not seen a number higher than 50,000. And so I don't give it that much credibility at all."
San Francisco Chronicle, October 12, 2006 ---
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/12/MNGUTLNP6C1.DTL
 

 

It is estimated that at the Battle of the Somme in World War I, one million soldiers were killed or wounded. The men were subjected to continuous bombing and machine-gun fire, engaged in hand-to-hand combat, as well as endured poison gas attacks. On the most hideous day of the fight, the British lost over 50,000 troops. It has been called one of the bloodiest battles in all of history. It is not surprising, therefore, that a few of survivors reacted negatively, and experienced shell-shock, which is a complete mental breakdown. Incidentally, the term originated in that war.
William M. Briggs, January 14, 2008 --- http://wmbriggs.com/

Once again, the power of pork to sustain incumbents gets its best demonstration in the person of John Murtha (D-PA). The acknowledged king of earmarks in the House gains the attention of the New York Times editorial board today, which notes the cozy and lucrative relationship between more than two dozen contractors in Murtha's district and the hundreds of millions of dollars in pork he provided them. It also highlights what roughly amounts to a commission on the sale of Murtha's power as an appropriator: Mr. Murtha led all House members this year, securing $162 million in district favors, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. ... In 1991, Mr. Murtha used a $5 million earmark to create the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence in Johnstown to develop anti-pollution technology for the military. Since then, it has garnered more than $670 million in contracts and earmarks. Meanwhile it is managed by another contractor Mr. Murtha helped create, Concurrent Technologies, a research operation that somehow was allowed to be set up as a tax-exempt charity, according to The Washington Post. Thanks to Mr. Murtha, Concurrent has boomed; the annual salary for its top three executives averages $462,000.
Edward Morrissey, Captain's Quarters, January 14, 2008 --- http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/016617.php

When Jeff Flake was elected to Congress in 2000 from Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District with the hope of “effectively advanc[ing] the principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility,” he was a relatively unknown entity outside Arizona. Some may have dismissed the Arizona newbie as just another congressman out of a 435-member body, but that would have been a big mistake.Over his seven years in the House, the mild-mannered contrarian has become the bane of porkers everywhere. To the chagrin of his congressional colleagues, the Arizona representative has made a career out of targeting some of Congress’s most outrageous pork projects by introducing amendments to eliminate those projects from congressional spending bills. In 2006, Flake introduced nineteen amendments, putting each member of Congress on record either in favor or in opposition to spending taxpayer dollars on such crucial projects as the National Grape and Wine Initiative, a swimming pool in California, and hydroponic tomato production in Ohio.
Pat Toomey, "Make It Flake! An appropriating move," National Review, January 17, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Jeff Flake is a thorn in Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi's side as she agrees to earmarks in order to grease legislation through the House. It's really hard to manage a bunch of thieves  without giving them something to steal.

The California State Court of Appeals announced today their decision to overturn one of the most restrictive gun bans in the country, following a legal battle by attorneys for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a previous court order against the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. “Today’s decision by the California State Court of Appeals is a big win for the law-abiding citizens and NRA Members of San Francisco,” declared Chris W. Cox, NRA’s chief lobbyist.
"San Francisco Gun Ban Ruled Null and Void," NRA-ILA, January 9, 2008 --- http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/NewsReleases.aspx?ID=10468
Jensen Comment
Now all eyes are shifted toward the U.S. Supreme Court's much larger pending decision on the banning of handguns in Washington DC ---
http://polipundit.com/index.php?p=19032

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is making it clear that she doesn’t share Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s view that the Bush administration is too cozy with the student-loan industry.After winning the Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday in New Hampshire, Senator Clinton complained that “predatory student-loan companies” have enjoyed “seven years of a president who stands up for them.”Ms. Spellings, asked about that remark during an address here today at the National Press Club, said the Bush administration actually has provided “vigorous oversight when we see abuse in the financial and student-lending industry.”The secretary cited the case of the 9.5-percent loan-subsidy program, which, according to the department’s inspector general, had a loophole through which lenders pulled hundreds of millions of dollars in excess profits. That abuse “has come to an end under this administration,” Ms. Spellings said.
"Secretary Spellings Stands Up to Senator Clinton," Chronicle of Higher Education, January 10, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/news/article/3735/secretary-spellings-stands-up-to-senator-clinton?at
Jensen Comment
As much as I would like to force the student-loan industry to pay the money back, it was Congress that created the loop hole in the first place. I wish they had to personally pay it back.

January 10, 2008 message from Israel's Naomi Ragen [nragen@netvision.net.il]

The good things that a person does are not negated by the bad things. They are totally separate. George W. Bush removed the threat of Saddam Hussein from the world, and took out the rockets aimed at Israel. He helped dry up terrorist funding in the world. He went after Bin Laden. He did all these things when people like you were baying for his blood, and waiting to elect some moron like John Kerry, who would have done none of these things.

Now Mr. Bush is coming to the end of his term. He has been given some devastating advice by those he trusts. And he is acting on that advice, destroying his legacy and endangering Israel, the Middle East and the world. While you may sit back and gloat: I told you so, I will say this: My world, is also your world. I feared, as did everyone else, that the constant pressure on the Bush administration from the Left would eventually cause this breakdown. The American government's failure to destroy the Iranian nuclear threat, to support Israel in her righteous attempt to protect herself from her enemies, and to set clear boundaries on terror organizations like Mahmoud Abbas' PLO will not only affect the life that I lead in Israel, but the life you lead in America. I don't know how this will happen, but the world is a very small place. When the Nazis targeted their Jewish community and Americans said: what does this have to do with us? the end result was a World War. I am sorry Mr. Bush has been mislead. I am devastated when I look ahead at the consequences of his delusional stance on what needs to been done in the Middle East. But this doesn't negate all the good he did. This doesn't negate the fact that his opponents were even worse.

The uprooting of Jews, and their replacement with hardened terrorists, will never bring peace, whatever people like you delude yourself into believing. It doesn't matter if many Israelis are similarly deluded, the end will be the same. And the election of Rudolph Giuliani, who in the past was a staunch friend of Israel, and a man of principle when it came to terrorists, might not make a difference, you're right. But the election of Hillary or Obama, et al, will certainly sound the final knell for the world as we know it. It's the same world you live in,believe it or not Ira. Sorry, you don't get to sit it out. You and those like you will finally have to face the fruits of your willfully blind choices along with us.

Naomi

Jensen Comment
What I cannot figure out is why Israel keeps furthering its bad image in the world by building more and more housing on the West Bank. To me this is not a good way to make friends with skeptics in the world. Naomi may also be misjudging the commitment of the Democratic Party candidates to Israel. Certainly the Jewish lobby in the U.S. is solidly behind the Democratic Party. This always has been and probably always will be until the Democratic Party truly abandons Israel's hope for a future --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Lobby

Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an address this week that California must end its "binge and purge" budget process -- his way of kicking off a binge worthy of Imperial Rome in its decadent late period. Yep: As his state reels from one of its recurrent fiscal crises, the Governor is making some headway on his "universal" health-care plan. California is carrying a $14 billion budget deficit and Mr. Schwarzenegger is suggesting across-the-board spending cuts. So perhaps it's unwise to introduce a new government entitlement that costs north of $14.4 billion a year. But then, you have to understand the Kremlinology of liberal health-care reform: This effort has as much to do with politics as public policy. Mr. Schwarzenegger devoted more than a year to health feuding with Sacramento. He strafed his own party for opposing tax increases. Meanwhile, many Democrats (and most labor unions) fought the Governor's agenda because the subsidies weren't extravagant enough. Desperate, the Governor brokered a last-minute bargain with Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez in December. Thus Mr. Schwarzenegger's ambitions didn't die -- but for now, maybe call them the living dead. The negotiators rushed to patch together a policy framework before 2007 ended, but they didn't have the votes to actually pay for it. A two-thirds majority in the state legislature is required for tax increases, and Mr. Schwarzenegger alienated the Republicans he needed. So if this scheme is to become reality, new taxes on tobacco, hospitals and business must be ratified by voters in a November ballot initiative.
"State of the Living Dead," The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2008; Page A8 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120010319878085493.html
Jensen Comment
Unlike the Federal government, state governments and private individuals have no power to create money out of thin air to cover their excesses. How money is created (note that its not simply a matter of printing on more paper) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_creation
Sadly for The Terminator, California cannot create new money. It has to be raised or saved. Governor Schwarzenegger is married to a spendthrift legislature that has a zero fiscal responsibility mentality. Lately the Gov ernor himself has caved in to politics of insanity delusions. What happens when a state gets a zero credit rating with billions in bills to pay under contract? Never fear, Nancy Pelosi will ride in on a white horse with saddlebags full of taxpayer money from the other 49 states. Perhaps  Governor Schwarzenegger and the California legislature aren't so dumb after all. There is a way for California to create new money out of thin air if Nancy remains Speaker of the House after November 2008. But if the GOP wins back the House in November, The Terminator gets terminated!

What we need is change I guess experience is kind of a leper.
Bill Richardson, failed but gentlemanly candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination --- Click Here

Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience. Precepts and instruction are useful so far as they go, but, without the discipline of real life, they remain of the nature of theory only.
Samuel Smiles as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-01-15-08.htm

During Huckabee’s tenure as Governor, evolution education in Arkansas languished in an environment of general hostility and insufficiency. Two anti-evolution bills were introduced in the state’s House of Representatives; textbooks in the Beebe, Arkansas public high school carried disclaimer stickers denigrating evolution; the state’s science curriculum earned a grade of “D” overall and an abysmal “zero” for its treatment of evolution; a creationist “museum” enjoyed state-funded advertising; and evolution was systematically and broadly squeezed out of schools and other educational institutions across the state. Huckabee did nothing to deter any of this – in fact, some of his public statements might indicate his tacit support . . . Finally, the teaching of creationism alongside of evolution in public schools for which Huckabee has called has been repeatedly rejected by the nation’s courts. The oath of office obliges the president to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” It is unacceptable for a presidential candidate to advocate such clearly unconstitutional educational policy. University scientists, professors who train science teachers, and others who care about the quality of science education ought to oppose candidates who disparage evolutionary science and who condone the injection of religious doctrine into the public school science curriculum.
Jason R. Wiles, "The Huckster’s Artful Dodging on Evolution," Inside Higher Ed, January 11, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/01/11/wiles

A Hollywood Yarn Unravels:  Oliver Stone's FARC heroes are child abusers, too.
For (Hollywood Producer/Director) Mr. Stone, an anti-American Christmas miracle was in the offing. His film would portray Mr. Chávez as a humanitarian hero while demonizing Mr. Uribe. But it wasn't to be an obscure foreign film with no American message. It would also complement the assertions of U.S. unions, other trade protectionists and President Bush's political adversaries, all of whom insist -- against the evidence -- that the Colombian president violates human rights. Of course, the American left's current obsession with Mr. Uribe is not really about concern for human life. It's about the pending U.S.-Colombian free trade agreement, which they want to kill on "moral" grounds. Depicting Mr. Uribe as an intransigent right-winger is critical to their narrative. In this, the protectionists are allies of the rebels. The truth is that Mr. Uribe's restoration of law and order in Colombia has thrown the guerrillas back on their heels, and they are now frantically pulling the levers of international propaganda . . . Press reports say that doctors diagnosed the baby with anemia, malaria, a parasitic skin disease, malnutrition and an arm that had been broken at birth and not treated. "Anyone would have fallen apart before this child, with so many diseases," the hospital director told the Miami Herald. "He didn't raise his eyes. He got toys but did not pick them up. He did not stand but dragged himself on his butt. He cried but no tears came because of the malnutrition." When the news of the child's whereabouts broke Mr. Stone went away spitting mad, not at his FARC heroes, who had been exposed as child abusers, but at Mr. Uribe and Mr. Bush. Of the FARC he said, "Grabbing hostages is the fashion in which they can finance themselves and try to achieve their goals, which are difficult. I think they are heroic to fight for what they believe in and die for it, as was Castro in the hills of Cuba." Meanwhile, with Mr. Chávez looking like a fool, the two women were finally freed on Thursday. The FARC had reason to help him try to salvage his image: As this column has frequently noted, it needs Venezuela as its main transit route for cocaine and as a safe haven.
Mary Anatasia O'Grady," "A Hollywood Yarn Unravels (with video)," The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2008; Page A12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120027020311287237.html

Another mortgage-refinancing boom is under way. But this time around, many homeowners will be watching from the sidelines. For the first time since 2005, mortgage rates have slipped well below 6%, ending last week at about 5.87%, according to mortgage tracker HSH Associates. Some lenders are offering even lower deals. At these levels, about 37% of homeowners could refinance their mortgages and save money on their monthly payment, estimates investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. As rates drop further -- and some expect that to happen if the economy continues to weaken -- increasing numbers of consumers will find refinancing their existing mortgage worthwhile . . . The result: The big winners will be conventional borrowers with so-called conforming loans -- those eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored entities that rule the mortgage market. In particular, borrowers with high credit scores or a large amount of equity already in their home, or some combination of both, stand to benefit, says Dale Westhoff, who heads Bear Stearns's mortgage research. In the past, when rates have dived below 6%, "you'd normally see subprime and Alt-A and jumbo borrowers" in the market, Mr. Westhoff says. "But they're really not going to be participants in this refi wave."
Jeff D. Opdyke, "Prime Time: The New Boom In Refinancing," The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2008; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120052772271795781.html
Jensen Comment
Remember that the drop in mortgage payments can be misleading if you ignore the upfront costs of lowering these payments. There's no free lunch.

According to university (University of Rochester) officials, Arun Gandhi is in India right now. Joel Seligman, president of the university, released a statement Friday in which he said he was “surprised and deeply disappointed” by Gandhi’s post and that “his subsequent apology inadequately explains his stated views, which seem fundamentally inconsistent with the core values of the University of Rochester.” Said Seligman: “In particular I vehemently disagree with his singling out of Israel and the Jewish people as to blame for the ‘Culture of Violence’ that he believes is eventually going to destroy humanity. This kind of stereotyping is inconsistent with our core values and would be inappropriate when applied to any race, any religion, any nationality, or either gender.” Seligman added: “We are also committed to the right of every person to address complaints or allegations personally and directly. Arun Gandhi currently is in India. I will discuss this matter with him in person as soon as he returns to Rochester later this month.”
Scott Jaschik, "," Inside Higher Ed, January 14, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/14/gandhi

If our Washington, D.C., readers noticed a cortege of blue suits carrying a casket in front of the Brookings Institution last week, be not mournful. You were merely watching the leading economists of the Democratic Party burying the faith once known as Rubinomics. May it rest in peace. Rubinomics is the concept of "deficit reduction" as growth policy: Lower the federal budget deficit and, as dawn follows night, interest rates will fall and prosperity will break upon the land. Named for former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and much celebrated in the 1990s, the concept was embraced as gospel by nearly all Democrats as recently as a few weeks ago. But last week it officially expired, as those same Democrats reconverted to Keynesian deficit spending in the name of "economic stimulus."
"Rubinomics R.I.P," The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008; Page A12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120035796472889887.html

In-store surveillance cameras showed that the man, who police identified as Derrick Kosch, 25, of Kokomo, shot himself as he placed the gun into the waistband of his pants, police said. Authorities declined to release the surveillance footage early Tuesday. Shortly after the robbery, dispatchers got a call from someone in a home in the 1000 block of East North Street about a man who was shot. When officers arrived, they found Kosch with a gunshot wound to a testicle and leg. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The Indy Channel.com, January 15, 2008 --- http://www.theindychannel.com/news/15051234/detail.html
Great Balls of Fire --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQMYtUB2Y_k

The winner in the Fallaci category is the brilliant General David Petraeus, who achieved something many were beginning to believe impossible. And the winner of the Fiskie, the idiotarian of the year par excellence, the most outstandingly hypocritical empty-skulled yapper in the universe according to LGF readers: MSNBC spokeshole Keith “The Mouth” Olbermann.
The 2007 Fiskie and Fallaci Winners! --- http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=28608_The_2007_Fiskie_and_Fallaci_Winners!&only
General Petreaus is really General Betray Us? (NBC's Keith Olbermann calls our top general in Iraq an outright liar) ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rLSna0bqc8


Actor Wesley Snipes didn't pay federal taxes on $37.9 million in income from 1999 to 2004, according to documents filed ahead of the actor's tax fraud trial scheduled to begin on Monday in U.S. District Court in Ocala, FL, 80 miles northwest of Orlando.
"Actor Wesley Snipes spars with tax prosecutors," AccountingWeb, January 15, 2008 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=104463
Jensen Comment
Wesley doesn't take much comfort in knowing that Sophia Loren went to jail for tax evasion (but only for 18 days in Italy).

A special Kansas City police counter-terrorism unit says they are battling international and domestic terrorism in the metro. The department's homeland security division has five detectives dedicated to investigating threats of terrorism. The unit's commander says it's an evolving threat. . . . "In Kansas City, we face a silent, careful enemy," Dailey testified. "Disguised as legitimate Islamic organizations and charities we find threads leading to violent Islamist extremism." Dailey believes there are some in the metro posing as refugees from east-African countries. Though, he would not name specific organizations like Al-Qaeda or Hamas.
"Unit battles terrorism in Kansas CIty," MSNBC, January 15, 2008 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22667177

As many as 1,500 white Britons are believed to have converted to Islam for the purpose of funding, planning and carrying out surprise terror attacks inside the UK, according to one MI5 source. Lord Carlile, the Government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation, said many of the converts had been targeted by radical Muslims while serving prison terms. Security experts say the growing secret army of white terrorists poses a particularly serious threat as they are far less likely to be detected than members of the Asian community.
Richard Elias, "Al-Qaeda's white army of terror," Scotsman, January 17, 2008 --- Click Here

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday that one of the biggest threats to U.S. security may now come from Europe.
Rob Gifford, "Chertoff Says Europe Poses Terror Threat," NPR, January 17, 2008 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18177084

With that as pretext, our sordid tale began Thursday when that bastion of socialism on the West Coast, the San Francisco Chronicle, curiously published an article harshly critical of folks like Penn who suck up to despots the paper typically reveres (emphasis added):  . . . With so many celebrities making asses of themselves these days, D-list actors and has-been pop stars need to get more resourceful. And what could be more controversial than hanging out with the world's most notorious dictators and other authoritarian figures? As ridiculous as the idea sounds, it's already coming into style. Naomi Campbell had a flirty interview with Venezuela President Hugo Chavez for a British GQ article that comes out today. At one point the controversial leader and potential ruler-for-life asked her to "touch my muscles." Danny Glover is friends with Chavez, who is reportedly funding two of the San Francisco actor's forthcoming films. Others who have made recent Chavez-related headlines include Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Barbara Walters, who placed Chavez on her list of the most fascinating people of 2007.
Noel Sheppard, "Sean Penn Slams Paper That Mocked Celebs Sucking Up To Chavez," Newsbusters, January 16, 2008 --- Click Here 

Iran is awash with natural gas, a relatively clean-burning fuel that can produce electricity far cheaper than nuclear power plants ever could. Nearly all of its Middle Eastern neighbors sit on significant gas reserves or could have ready access to them through pipelines. Nuclear power, by contrast, is so costly that even in advanced economies it needs massive government subsidies and guarantees. True, many Middle Eastern states currently suffer from a shortage of natural gas. But this supply squeeze could be overcome relatively quickly once Middle Eastern states price electricity at market rates, develop their gas fields more fully and run pipelines to states with more gas on tap. This, though, would mean raising subsidized domestic energy prices, costly investments and solving outstanding border disputes.
Henry Sokolski, "Atomic:  Why are France and America helping the Mideast go nuclear?" The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2008 ---  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120052554733695743.html

The Democratic-led Congress is unlikely to block U.S. plans to sell $123 million worth of sophisticated precision-guided bomb technology to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns from some members that the systems could be used against Israel. . . . The sale is a key element in the U.S. strategy to bolster the defenses of its Arab allies in Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing majority Sunni Muslim Gulf nations against threats from Shiite Iran.
Matthew Lee and Anne Flaherty, "Congress likely to OK Saudi arms deal," Seattlepi.com, January 14, 2008 --- http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1153ap_us_saudi_arms_sales.html

Bucking the trend in many other wealthy industrialized nations, the United States seems to be experiencing a baby boomlet, reporting the largest number of children born in 45 years . . . The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially a growing number of Hispanics. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. But non-Hispanic white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies, too.
Mike Stobbe, "Against the Trend, U.S. Births Way Up," PhysOrg, January 15, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news119638009.html

In addition, the survey, conducted between June and October of 2007, found that a wide majority of Democratic (67%), Republican (66%), and Independent (70%) voters believe that health insurance costs should be shared by individuals, employers and the government. Further, a majority of the public was strongly or somewhat in favor of requiring individuals to have health insurance coverage—with government help for those who cannot afford it. Sixty-eight percent of Americans favor such a proposal, with 80 percent of Democrats in support, and more than half of Republicans (52%) and two-thirds of Independents (68%) in favor, according to a report on the survey findings, The Public’s Views on Health Care Reform in the 2008 Presidential Election. The Commonwealth Fund today also released a report that describes and evaluates the Presidential candidates’ health reform plans. The analysis found that both leading Democratic and Republican candidates seek to expand health coverage through the private insurance market, but the leading Democratic candidates would require employers to continue participating in the health insurance system either by providing coverage directly or contributing to the cost of their employees’ coverage, whereas the Republicans support changes in the tax code that have the potential to significantly reduce the role of employers in the provision and financing of health insurance. “In some ways, the Republican proposals seek bigger changes to the way most people currently obtain coverage,” said lead author Sara Collins, Assistant Vice President at The Commonwealth Fund. “Most of their plans propose a diminishing role for employers, whereas the leading Democrats favor keeping employers in the game.”
PhysOrg, January 15. 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news119627984.html
Jensen Comment
Two of the leading scholars in America (Gary Becker and Richard Posner) discuss the healthcare proposals of the leading U.S. Presidential candidates at
http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/  (January 13, 2008)
Nobel Laureate Gary Becker states the following:

As Posner indicates, American health care generally gets poor grades in international comparisons of health care systems. Although major reforms are needed in the American approach, international comparisons underrate American health care. This is partly because these comparisons give insufficient weight to the fact that most of the new drugs to treat major diseases originated in the US, along with many of the new surgical procedures, and insights about the importance of lifestyles in good health. This helps explain why many Canadians and those from other countries come to the US to treat serious diseases rather than visa versa. The US is also much more generous than other countries, such as Great Britain and France, in making expensive surgeries and drugs available to older persons through Medicare and private insurance. This too significantly raises the cost of health care. Moreover, the American health system is decentralized and "messy", and many health evaluators prefer a single payer (i.e., government) centralized approach to health care as opposed to any market-based approach.

This is not to deny that the American health care system has serious defects. If I were running for president, and allowed only four reforms, I would emphasize the following (assuming I do not worry about getting enough votes to be elected!):

1) Eliminate the link between employment and the tax advantage of private health insurance. Since much of the spending on health are investments in human capital, there is good reason to exempt these expenditures, along with other investments, from income taxes. However, this employment link is inequitable because it does not provide the same tax advantages to families without employment-based insurance. It also encourages expensive employer health plans that have significant consumption components since the government picks up much of the cost of such coverage. President Bush has proposed a reasonable alternative; give every family a flat $15,000 standard deduction (and half that amount for individuals), whether or not their health insurance is obtained through their employer. They would still get this deduction if they spend less on their insurance, so they have incentives to economize on their health care (but by my reform number 4, everyone would have to take out catastrophic coverage). Consumers would have to pay for any coverage in excess of $15,000, so they would only choose such coverage if they were willing to spend their own money, not taxpayers.

2) Encourage the spread of Health Savings Accounts (see my discussion on Feb. 5, 2006) that encourage consumers to economize on unnecessary medical expenditures. Present law allows tax-free contributions to these Accounts of up to about $2700 for individuals and double that amount to $5450 for families, as long as these contributions are not greater than the deductibles on their health insurance. Contributions to HSAs that are not spent in any year can be carried over to future years without any tax liabilities, and even into retirement income. So HSAs are an efficient way to save as well as to spend on non-catastrophic medical care. Health Savings Accounts have spread since they were introduced several years ago, but might need greater encouragement, such as higher limits.

3) Medicare spending amounts to about $350 billion a year, it constitutes about 12 percent of federal spending, and it is one of the most rapidly growing entitlements. It is projected to continue to grow as a fraction of GDP from its present 2.7 percent level to over 11 percent in 2080. The source of the growth is the continued aging of the population, and the increased per capita medical spending on older person as new medical technologies and drugs are developed. Projections made by Medicare Actuaries indicate that the Medicare HI Trust Fund will be exhausted by the year 2018-only a decade away.

Reform of Medicare is probably among the most challenging not only because of the elderly's political clout, but also because Americans have come to expect access to expensive medical treatments as they age. Still, the prescription drug coverage introduced into Medicare in 2003 was an important step in the right direction, despite the flaws in the program (see my discussion on February 3, 2005). Drugs are not only increasingly available to fight many diseases of old age, but drugs, once developed, are relatively cheap to extend to large numbers of users. Even when drugs provide only small benefits as they are extended to groups that can benefit less from the drugs, the costs are far less than would be required to provide expensive surgeries or hospitalizations to older persons with few years of life remaining. This is why I would greatly increase the generosity of Medicare drug coverage, and compensate for the additional expense by cutting down on allowances for lengthy hospital stays, and raising other co-pays.

4) I do not believe the problem of the uninsured in the US is as serious as usually claimed since most of those without health insurance are young and do not have major medical expenses. When they do, they can use emergency room service at major hospitals, although studies show that they do not even use emergency room care more often than others. Still, it may be desirable to require that everyone must contract for private catastrophic health care since the uninsured tend to use taxpayer and philanthropic funded medical care facilities to pay for the costs of any major illnesses. Medicaid should be extended to cover anyone who cannot afford such catastrophic insurance. Compulsory coverage would integrate the 45 million or so uninsured Americans into an overall health care system while still preserving the desirable decentralized private system of health care.

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

The people running Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign probably haven’t made time to leaf through the University of Illinois Press’s most recent catalog. Too bad for them. They could have placed an early bulk order for Erika Falk’s Women for President: Media Bias in Eight Campaigns. The official publication date is next week. It seems like a book that Clinton’s staff would find useful – and not just as a projectile to bounce off the heads of members of the press corps. Falk, who is the associate program chair for the master’s degree program in communications at Johns Hopkins University, analyzes decades of media reports on female presidential candidates. The first was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned on the ticket of the Equal Rights Party during the election of 1872. The most recent was the bid by Carol Mosley Braun, a Democratic candidate who withdrew shortly before the primaries started in January 2004.
Scott McLemee, "Hillar-ious," Inside Higher Ed, January 16, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/01/16/mclemee

Disgraced and disbarred, Mike Nifong is now bankrupt. The former North Carolina prosecutor, whose career imploded with his botched handling of the Duke University rape case, today filed for bankruptcy, listing liabilities in excess of $180 million (virtually all unsecured).
The Smoking Gun, January 15, 2008 --- http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0115084nifong1.html

In a legal effort to help a U.S. senator, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that people who have sex in public bathrooms have an expectation of privacy. Republican Senator Larry Craig is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to let him withdraw his guilty plea to disorderly conduct related to a bathroom sex sting at the Minneapolis airport last year.
"Sex in restroom stalls is private:  ACLU says Civil liberties group goes to bat for Sen. Craig," MSNBC, January 15, 2008 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22674564/ 
Jensen Comment
This leaves some questions unanswered. Is a "wide stance" spillover into adjoining stalls an invasion of privacy in those stalls? Will the U.S. Supreme Court eventually define a "wide stance?"

 Is solicitation of sex from a stall acceptable to the ACLU? Does this include paying money for sex? The ACLU argues that:  "Even if Craig was inviting the officer to have sex, the ACLU argued, his actions would not be illegal." What if Senator Craig put a $100 bill on the toe of his wide stance shoe? Then again what if Senator Craig had simply offered the officer an internship in the U.S. Senate?

Another question we would like the ACLU to address:  What if sex in the only stall of a restroom ties up the stall for two hours while a line of very cramped up people forms for half a block? If the ACLU wins this case we hope that parking clocks will be installed that make very and distracting announcements when the stall time is up! Perhaps boarding announcements should be made in airport restrooms.

If the ACLU wins this appeal then it is only fitting that restrooms also be retrofitted with waterbeds. That way hookers pretending to be on legitimate dates won't have to be confined to sleazy whorehouse rooms. Remember to send money to the ACLU as a thank you for clarifying what kind of sleaze in legal in public restrooms --- http://www.aclu.org/


Match yourself to a presidential candidate --- http://www.wqad.com/Global/link.asp?L=259460
(Try pretending to be Santa Claus or Robin Hood)




Question for Walt Mossberg
Q: I want to switch to a Mac, but my life is on Microsoft Outlook, which is only available on Windows. Is there a simple way to convert all of this data to programs on the Mac?

From The Wall Street Journal, January t0, 2008, Page B2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119992737740579599.html


A: There is a $10 program that performs this task. It's called O2M (Outlook to Mac) and is from a company called Little Machines. It can be downloaded at littlemachines.com, where you also will find details about the Mac programs with which it works. This is a Windows program, which transfers your Outlook data into files you copy to your Mac. You then manually import these files into your Mac programs.

According to the company, the program exports Outlook email, email attachments, contacts and calendar appointments and allows you to import this data into Apple's built-in email, address book and calendar programs, as well as into Microsoft Entourage, and other third-party programs.

See http://www.littlemachines.com/

January 17, 2008 reply from Robert C. Holmes, Glendale Community College [rcholmes@GLENDALE.EDU]

When I bought my MacBook Pro the local Mac dealer said it was easy to put all of my Outlook stuff into Entourage. I said fine, throw that in for free as part of the deal. Everything came over and it syncs to my Treo phone/PDA just like it used to using Outlook. They also moved all of the data files from my Windows PC also for free.


CELL PHONES AND HOTEL MAGNETIC KEY CARDS DON’T MIX
The desk clerk at the hotel I was staying in told me that the reason my room key card kept failing was because I kept it in my pocket next to my cell phone. Sure enough, after the clerk reactivated the card and I kept it in a separate pocket, the problem didn’t reoccur. Is that explanation an urban myth? What’s the story?

Answer from Stanley Zarowin, Journal of Accountancy, January 2008 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jan2008/tech_qa.htm
I’ve had the same experience, and when I checked with a manager with my cell phone company, she told me it does happen from time to time—especially with phones that have a metal, rather than a plastic, case.


How to Start Up Your PC Instantly
M
any office workers have the same morning routine: turn on the computer, then grab coffee, catch up with coworkers, or look at paperwork while Windows boots up. Others save time, but waste energy, by keeping their machines on all the time. Now Device VM, a startup based in Silicon Valley, has a product that circumvents the everlasting boot-up. The company has recently released a tiny piece of software that, when integrated with common computer hardware, gives users the option to boot either Windows or a faster, less-complex operating system called Splashtop. Depending on the hardware and Splashtop settings, a person using the software--which is based on the open-source operating system Linux--can start surfing the Web or watching a DVD in less than 20 seconds, and, in some cases, in less than five.
Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, January 16, 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/20072/?nlid=809


The University of California's eScholarship Repository has recently exceeded five million full-text downloads, according to the university
The eScholarship Repository, a service of the California Digital Library, allows scholars in the University of California system to submit their work to a central location where any users may easily access it free of charge. The idea is to ease communication between researchers. Catherine Mitchell, acting director of the CDL publishing group, says the number shows that both content seekers and creators have embraced the service, allaying concerns among researchers that others wouldn't contribute to the repository.
Hurley Goodall, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2667&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

How Do Scholars Search? --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Scholars


Question
What are the big faculty cat fights all about?

"Learning From Cats," by Rob Weir, Inside Higher Ed, January 17, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/01/17/weir 

Academic squabbles are often compared to cat fights, but as one who has owned cats for several decades, I’ve come to believe that such analogies are unfair to felines. Cats, for instance, instinctively know to terminate a chase when they would consume more calories than their prey would provide. And even the pugilist tabbies I’ve owned eventually learned to give wide berth to rivals who consistently bloodied them. All of this suggests that cats may be more evolutionarily advanced than a lot of academics. In the spirit of all those What I Learned from My Cat books now moldering on remainder shelves, here are eight academic debates left over from last year that aren’t worth the calories, let along the anguish.

1. What Do We Do About Poorly Prepared Incoming Students?
How about teach them? It seems like I’ve been hearing the same tape loop since I was 18 and was told my generation was ignoramus-ridden because it had no training in Latin. Let’s just admit that each generation comes to the table with different skill sets and move on. This is the ultimate lost chase. What students ought to know is irrelevant when faced with a classroom of those who don’t know it.

2. The Great Books versus Multicultural Readings:
This is another tired horse ready for pasturage. We’ve been fighting over the canon for so long that it has escaped the debaters’ notice that the passion for books has fallen from fashion. I, for one, am grateful when students read anything and get excited. If they want to declare Neil Gaiman graphic novels part of the canon, that’s fine with me if it helps us talk about myth, archetypes, and culture.

3. Should the Academy Operate According to a Consumer Model?
If you answered “no,” prepare to be boarded; your ship has been vanquished. The high price tag of higher ed makes it a market-place commodity and it’s as naïve to assert that a college education is its own reward as to believe that the Olympics are a still bastion of amateurism. Whether we like it or not, kids shop for courses just like they hit the mall. Profs and departments can assume the crusty purist’s demeanor, or they can start making course offerings jazzier and sexier. The latter path leads to the vitality, the first to extinction. If you don’t believe it, ask a classicist or a labor historian.

4. Why Should Faculty Be Forced to Be Tech-Savvy?
Because it’s the 21st century, we’re educators, and we need to communicate with students. Every campus has a few cranks who wear electronic illiteracy as a badge of honor. They walk about in crumpled garb, wax eloquent about the glories of their old Olivetti, and brag they don’t use e-mail. The rest of us tolerate them as if they were an eccentric aunt, and defend them when students grouse about them. Here’s a better idea: Give students the e-mail addresses of the department chair and the academic dean. Just in case they wish to register their complaints.

5. Should Colleges Be Required to Dip Deeper into Endowment Funds?
Yes, but this debate is really not worth having as the future is clear: Either everyone will follow the preemptive lead of those well-endowed schools that have begun spending a higher percentage of their endowment, or Congress will act and impose the same 5 percent standard with which foundations must comply.

6. How Can We Improve Our ‘U.S. News & World Report’ Rating?
Unless you’re a member of an embattled admissions department, who cares? The battle worth fighting would be a campaign to put all such Miss Congeniality-modeled guides out of business. I’d happily don armor for a federated effort to do that.

7. Are Campus Conservatives the Victim of Discrimination?
Does anyone have any spare crocodile tears for the group that pretty much runs the country? What a silly debate. There’s a difference between being a minority and being a victim, just as there’s a difference between free speech and the guarantee that others will agree with you. When stripped to its basics the brief is that neo-cons feel uncomfortable in places like Amherst, Berkeley, Cambridge, and Madison. Well, duh! That’s like a vegetarian complaining about the menu at a Ponderosa Steakhouse. Oddly enough, one seldom hears pleas for more feminists at faith-based institutions, pacifists at military academies, or evolutionary scientists on the Mike Huckabee campaign staff.

8. Ward Churchill or David Horowitz?
Neither please! If nothing else, can we resolve that in 2008 we will uphold the principle that propaganda of any sort has no place in the college classroom? That would also solve the conservative complaint above. Best of all, it would relegate the boorish Churchill and Horowitz to the obscurity they have so richly earned.

Everyone altogether now: Meow!

 

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


Humanities Professors Can Be a Condescending Bunch
I always thought it was part of their charm.

"It's Their Problem, Not Ours," by Mark Baurline, Chronicle of Higher Education's The Chronicle Review, January 16, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/review/brainstorm/bauerlein/

In either case, a little more respect for public opinion will be more effective than half-baked diagnoses of the public mind.

Posted at 04:30:06 AM on January 16, 2008 | All postings by Mark Bauerlein

Comments Humanities faculty, if nothing else, always have been experts to expressing condescension towards faculty in other fields. They express it in cleverly-worded comments at faculty meetings. They express it in their classrooms to students who major in anything else. They express it in their writing and at their conferences.

They love expressing it. It’s part of their humanity.

It’s part of what makes them so repellent to so many students. And to other faculty.

— Mike Faraday · Jan 16, 07:15 AM · #

Don’t condescend… I’m going to use pop culture to defend the humanities. Specifically, I’m thinking of the 2003 movie “Underworld,” in which a war ensues between vampires and werewolves over an act of injustice and racism. What’s important is that the war continues, as the subject of the movie, because a significant number of the warriors, at least on the vampire side, don’t understand the genesis of the war. And why not? Because probing history is forbidden. That’s a major though understated theme of the movie. Simply put, I believe in a strong humanities curriculum because I believe critical and analytical thinking is a good thing. And I believe that critical and analytical thinking is best taught in the humanities. It’s a different kind of analytical thinking than offered in the sciences. Without humanities, who knows, we could end up fighting a long and gruesome war for reasons to difficult to determine. Hey, wait a minute…

— Epiphany · Jan 16, 10:57 AM · #

It’s the humanities professors that are experiencing “unease” — they’re the ones concerned with “proving their worth.” The man on the street seems fine.

— Pippin · Jan 16, 12:40 PM · #

“That’s Byrne’s paraphrase, and if it’s accurate….”

Why would you indulge in this formulation? Do you have some particular reason to think that it might be inaccurate? If so, you should make clear what that reason is.

Or is this not merely a familiar academic status-marking gesture — one perhaps best termed “taking a whiz on the journo”? According to the oft-repeated claim, reporters are more or less incapable of quoting anything accurately, let alone understanding it, while professors are wonderfully diligent and precise on both scores. If only that were true.

You have insulted a skilled reporter and editor. You owe him an apology.

— Scott McLemee · Jan 16, 01:30 PM · #

I “indulged” (?) in the accuracy point only because I haven’t seen the original speech. It is clear that I assume Byrne is accurate.

It is quite a stretch to turn my criticism of academic condescension into a specimen of “familiar academic status-marking” against journalists, academic status being something I lost interest in long ago.

— Mark Bauerlein · Jan 16, 07:15 PM · #

While teaching MBAs at the University of Chicago Grad School of Business, I never found an undergrad econ or business major who performed best in my assignments. Always it was undergrad literature or philosophy majors who excelled in MBA work. Why? I wondered at the time, utterly surprised by these results.

My best guess—lacking decent valid data—was and is that articulateness overwhelms all quantitative skills in doing teamwork. The person on the team who can split differences because they can exactly and sympathetically spot and articulate them, controls team outcomes.

Neither professors nor students of humanities departments charm me with their casual arrogances and lack of long term career pay, it must be said. However, in businesses, their grads clearly outperform econ and business grads. Unfortunately the people we like are not always the people who work best for us.

The humanities are to “educate” but they, the tens of thousands of professors who constitute them, have not yet bothered to apply half decent research methods to define what educatedness is and how it helps real world needs. Changes in self understanding exist, can be measured, and their impact on concrete work contexts and challenges can be measured—were there people in the humanities un-lazy enough to define their mission and primary beneficial side-effects in life.

— Richard Tabor Greene · Jan 17, 08:28 AM · #

I agree that we humanists too often condescend and too often fail to think that everyday communication with people outside our in-crowd is worth the time and effort. On the other hand, recognizing this shouldn’t make us miss the elements of truth in Holquist’s statement.

There is a very long tradition of suspicion of and dis-ease with language, especially in the American context. Witness Hillary Clinton’s efforts to portray Barack Obama’s oratory as all eloquence and no substance. Be a doer, not a talker! Walk the Walk, don’t just talk the talk. The list could go on endlessly, but I’ve already blogged about this elsewhere, so I won’t go on. The Puritan plain style is one interesting effort to negotiate the tension created by the inevitable necessity of language and suspicion that the person who relies upon it is somehow inferior or suspect.

I think, then, that the Humanities do suffer in the American context because we traffic above all else in language. This, however, doesn’t excuse us from whatever smugness accompanies and exacerbates this situation. It is, nevertheless, the rhetorical situation into which the humanist has to speak.

— Peter Kerry Powers · Jan 17, 09:05 AM · #

In my view, Prof. Holquist’s formulation—if it is accurately reported—is more vague than condescending, and Professor Bauerlin’s response is equally vagued and “half-baked.” Not that it is entirely wrong—humanists (and scientists, and politicians, and the person at the checkout stand) can be condescending. But the Holquist comment was directed at why humanists fail to communicate with the general public, and his answer seems to be “unease with language.” This weak response is rather ironic since according to new criticism and the abhorred “deconstruction,” among other critical methodologies, such as the Russian formalist “ostranyie” or “making strange,” language (and art) are supposed to make one feel uncomfortable, not at ease, estranged, cast out of one’s normal mode of thinking, thus opening the mind up to new perceptions and knowledge. Bauerlin’s implict, if tiredly familiar response is that we (humanists) have hoist ourselves by our own petard, and our condescension comes in the form of blaming our repressed embarrassment at having done so on the inadequacies of the reader, or public, or student. Fair enough; but in the end, I’m with the party (the professors of humanities, as characterized, comprised of human beings with all kinds of foibles) that, however inadequately and condescendingly, wants to make “the public” and more particularly our students a little uncomfortable with language, or world view, or familiar habit of mind. Perhaps a little more discomfort with our assumptions about the world—communicated through language—might lead us to a better place, eventually. Maybe not; there are no guarantees.

— POD · Jan 17, 09:58 AM · #

The humanities have often abandoned the functions which the ‘general public’, i.e. citizens of the real world, consider important—the preservation of our cultural heritage and the identification, analysis, and teaching of works of excellence. Many of the things in which humanities faculty are interested (‘cognitive atheism’, ‘antifoundationalism’, and pseudo-theorized approaches to race, class, and gender, for example) do not interest citizens of the real world. The issues themselves may, but generally not in the manner used by academics.

The humanities are profoundly important to people in the real world and they are highly respected by them. They need no defense. Similarly, the skills of articulation fostered by humanities study are widely and deeply prized and need no defense. What requires defense is the list of titles of MLA addresses. The ‘general public’ see self-indulgence, effeteness, triviality, self-obsession, and political bias there.

It is also time that ‘leaders’ in the humanities confront the fact that the ‘general public’ that seems not to understand them includes a large number of individuals who have been taught and given degrees by them. What does that say?

— Observer · Jan 17, 10:48 AM · #

Among other concerns, Bauerline is constantly reminding us that kids these days can’t read, that adults don’t read, that our society has been dumbed down, etc. Literacy experts attest that attention span is down. Politicians cannot counter sound bytes with reasoned argument.

I think “unease with language” is putting it gently. And I think Mark Bauerline has complained about this “unease” all the time. But when he can BLAME the unease on educators, he is happy.


Sabbaticals for Dummies
Lessons to Be Learned on Your First Sabbatical Leave
Those of us who have long been curious about what professors do on sabbatical could glean one sort of an answer from Oregon University English professor Edwin Battistella’s tongue-in-cheek (we think) listing of “Twenty-Five things to do on sabbatical” that appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of The Montana Professor. Although Battistella was obviously in a whimsical frame of mind when he constructed the “to do” list, the suggestions look all too credible to some of us on the higher education beat. Some of us always thought that the answer to what pedagogues do on sabbatical was akin to an old George Carlin comedy routine. “What do dogs do on their day off?” Carlin famously asked. “They can’t lay around, man.”
Malcolm A. Kline, "Sabbaticals for Dummies," Campus Report, January 16, 2008 --- http://www.campusreportonline.net/main/articles.php?id=2063


Lessons to Be Learned in Your First Apartment --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-01-15-08.htm


The makers of Scrabble are trying to shut down Scrabulous, an online version of the game that is a popular activity on Facebook
"Makers of Scrabble Target Facebook Version of Game," The Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2008 --- Click Here


Question
Are you clueless about protecting your rights to your own writings?

"Librarian: Ohio State Professors Need Copyright Refresher," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 14, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2665&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Beware of faculty members who are clueless about whether they hold the copyrights to their research papers, Trisha Davis, a librarian at Ohio State University, told a group of librarians today at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association.

She made the remark while discussing the challenges Ohio State faced in building an institutional repository. The university has over 21,000 articles — including conference papers, teaching materials, photographs, and multimedia works — in the archive.

Faculty members will submit research papers to the repository often unaware that they have signed away the rights to their work to a journal publisher, Ms. Davis said. “They are stunned that they have not retained the copyrights,” she said. “They’re vehemently adamant” that they still have rights to the work.

Also, she added, faculty members sometimes add other scholars’ material to the repository, incorrectly assuming that this is allowed under fair use. —

Bob Jensen's threads on the DMCA are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright


RateMyProfessor now claims to have archived evaluations of over 1 million professors from 6,000 schools based on over 6 million submitted evaluations from students.

The proportions of students who submitted evaluations are self selecting and miniscule compared to the number of students taught by each professor. Also the outliers tend to respond more than the silent majority. For example, sometimes the overall evaluations are based on only 1-10 self selecting (often disgruntled) students among possibly hundreds taught over the years by an instructor.

The controversial RateMyProfessor site now links to Facebook entries for professors

Our new Facebook app lets you to search for, browse and read ratings of professors and schools. Find out which professor will inspire you, challenge you, or which will just give you the easy A.
RateMyProfessor --- http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/index.jsp

Question
What topic dominates instructor evaluations on RateMyProfessors.com (or RATE for short)?

"RateMyProfessors — or His Shoes Are Dirty," by Terry Caesar, Inside Higher Ed, July 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/07/28/caesar

But the trouble begins here. Like those guests, students turn out to be candid about the same thing. Rather than sex, it’s grades. Over and over again, RATE comments cut right to the chase: how easy does the professor grade? If easy, all things are forgiven, including a dull classroom presence. If hard, few things are forgiven, especially not a dull classroom presence. Of course we knew students are obsessed with grades. Yet until RATE could we have known how utterly, unremittingly, remorselessly?

And now the obsession is free to roam and cavort, without the constraints of the class-by-class student evaluation forms, with their desiderata about the course being “organized” or the instructor having “knowledge of subject matter.” These things still count. RATE students regularly register them. But nothing counts like grades. Compared to RATE, the familiar old student evaluation forms suddenly look like searching inquiries into the very nature of formal education, which consists of many other things than the evaluative dispositions of the professor teaching it.

What other things? For example, whether or not the course is required. Even the most rudimentary of student evaluation forms calls for this information. Not RATE. Much of the reason a student is free to go straight for the professorial jugular — and notwithstanding all the praise, the site is a splatfest — is because course content can be merrily cast aside. The raw, visceral encounter of student with professor, as mediated through the grade, emerges as virtually the sole item of interest.

Of course one could reply: so what? The site elicits nothing else. That’s why it’s called, “rate my professors,” and not “rate my course.” In effect, RATE takes advantage of the slippage always implicit in traditional student evaluations, which both are and are not evaluations of the professor rather than the course. To be precise, they are evaluations of the professor in terms of a particular course. This particularity, on the other hand, is precisely what is missing at the RATE site, where whether or not a professor is being judged by majors — a crucial factor for departmental and college-wide tenure or promotion committees who are processing an individual’s student evaluations — is not stipulated.

Granted, a student might bring up being a major. A student might bring anything up. This is why RATE disappoints, though, because there’s no framework, not even that of a specific course, to restrain or guide student comments. “Sarcastic” could well be a different thing in an upper-division than in a lower-division course. But in the personalistic RATE idiom, it’s always a character flaw. Indeed, the purest RATE comments are all about character. Just as the course is without content, the professor is without performative ability. Whether he’s a “nice guy” or she “plays favorites,” it’s as if the student has met the professor a few times at a party, rather than as a member of his or her class for a semester.

RATE comments are particularly striking if we compare those made by the professor’s colleagues as a result of classroom observations. Many departments have evolved extremely detailed checksheets. I have before me one that divides the observation into four categories, including Personal Characteristics (10 items), Interpersonal Relationships (8), Subject Application/Knowledge (8), and Conducting Instruction (36). Why so many in the last category? Because performance matters — which is just what we tell students about examinations: each aims to test not so much an individual’s knowledge as a particular performance of that knowledge.

Of course, some items on the checksheet are of dubious value, e.g. “uses a variety of cognitive levels when asking questions.” So it goes in the effort to itemize successful teaching, an attempt lauded by proponents of student evaluations or lamented by critics. The genius of RATE is to bypass the attempt entirely, most notoriously with its “Hotness Total.” Successful teaching? You may be able to improve “helpfulness” or “clarity.” But you can’t very well improve “hotness.” Whether or not you are a successful teacher is not safely distant at RATE from whether or not you are “hot.”

Perhaps it never was. In calling for a temperature check, RATE may merely be directly addressing a question — call it the charisma of an individual professor — that traditional student evaluations avoid. If so, though, they avoid it with good reason: charisma can’t be routinized. When it is, it becomes banal, which is one reason why the critical comments are far livelier than the celebratory ones. RATE winds up testifying to one truism about teaching: It’s a lot easier to say what good teaching isn’t than to say what it is. Why? One reason is, because it’s a lot easier for students who care only about teachers and not about teaching to say so.

Finally, what about these RATE students? How many semester hours have they completed? How many classes did they miss? It is with good reason (we discover) that traditional student evaluation forms are careful to ask something about each student. Not only is it important for the administrative processing of each form. Such questions, even at a minimal level, concede the significance in any evaluation of the evaluating subject. Without some attention to this, the person under consideration is reduced to the status of an object — which is, precisely, what the RATE professor becomes, time after time. Students on RATE provide no information at all about themselves, not even initials or geographical locations, as given by many of the people who rate books and movies on amazon.com or who give comments on columns and articles on this Web site.

In fact, students at RATE don’t even have to be students! I know of one professor who was so angered at a comment made by one of her students that she took out a fake account, wrote a more favorable comment about herself, and then added more praise to the comments about two of her colleagues. How many other professors do this? There’s no telling — just as there’s no telling about local uses of the site by campus committees. Of course this is ultimately the point about RATE: Even the student who writes in the most personal comments (e.g. “hates deodorant") is completely safe from local retribution — never mind accountability — because the medium is so completely anonymous.

Thus, the blunt energies of RATE emerge as cutting edge for higher education in the 21st century. In this respect, the degree of accuracy concerning any one individual comment about any one professor is beside the point. The point is instead the medium itself and the nature of the judgements it makes possible. Those on display at RATE are immediate because the virtual medium makes them possible, and anonymous because the same medium requires no identity markers for an individual. Moreover, the sheer aggregation of the site itself — including anybody from anywhere in the country — emerges as much more decisive than what can or cannot be said on it. I suppose this is equivalent to shrugging, whatever we think of RATE, we now have to live with it.

I think again of the very first student evaluation I received at a T.A. The result? I no longer remember. Probably not quite as bad as I feared, although certainly not as good as I hoped. The only thing I remember is one comment. It was made, I was pretty sure, by a student who sat right in the front row, often put her head down on the desk (the class was at 8 a.m.) and never said a word all semester. She wrote: “his shoes are dirty.” This shocked me. What about all the time I had spent, reading, preparing, correcting? What about how I tried to make available the best interpretations of the stories required? My attempts to keep discussions organized, or just to have discussions, rather than lectures?

All irrelevant, at least for one student? It seemed so. Worse, I had to admit the student was probably right — that old pair of brown wingtips I loved was visibly becoming frayed and I hadn’t kept them shined. Of course I could object: Should the state of a professor’s shoes really constitute a legitimate student concern? Come to this, can’t you be a successful teacher if your shoes are dirty? In today’s idiom, might this not even strike at least some students all by itself as being, well, “hot"? In any case, I’ve never forgotten this comment. Sometimes it represents to me the only thing I’ve ever learned from reading my student evaluations. I took it very personally once and I cherish it personally still.

Had it appeared on RATE, however, the comment would feel very different. A RATE[D] professor is likely to feel like a contestant on “American Idol,” standing there smiling while the results from the viewing audience are totaled. What do any of them learn? Nothing, except that everything from the peculiarities of their personalities to, ah, the shine of their shoes, counts. But of course as professors we knew this already. Didn’t we? Of course it might always be good to learn it all over again. But not at a site where nobody’s particular class has any weight; not in a medium in which everybody’s words float free; and not from students whose comments guarantee nothing except their own anonymity. I’ll bet some of them even wear dirty shoes.

July 28, 2006 reply from Alexander Robin A [alexande.robi@UWLAX.EDU]

Two quotes from a couple of Bob Jensen's recent posts:

"Of course we knew students are obsessed with grades." (from the RateMyProfessors thread)

"The problem is that universities have explicit or implicit rankings of "journal quality" that is largely dictated by research faculty in those universities. These rankings are crucial to promotion, tenure, and performance evaluation decisions." (from the TAR thread)

These two issues are related. First, students are obsessed with grades because universities, employers and just about everyone else involved are obsessed with grades. One can also say that faculty are obsessed with publications because so are those who decide their fates. In these two areas of academia, the measurement has become more important than the thing it was supposed to measure.

For the student, ideally the learning is the most important outcome of a class and the grade is supposed to reflect how successful the learning was. But the learning does not directly and tangibly affect the student - the grade does. In my teaching experience students, administrators and employers saw the grade as being the key outcome of a class, not the learning.

Research publication is supposed to result from a desire to communicate the results of research activity that the researcher is very interested in. But, especially in business schools, this has been turned on its head and the publication is most important and the research is secondary - it's just a means to the publication, which is necessary for tenure, etc.

It's really a pathetic situation in which the ideals of learning and discovery are largely perverted. Had I fully understood the magnitude of the problem, I would have never gone for a PhD or gotten into teaching. As to what to do about it, I really don't know. The problems are so deeply entrenched in academic culture. Finally I just gave up and retired early hoping to do something useful for the rest of my productive life.

Robin Alexander

Bob Jensen's threads on teaching evaluations are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#TeachingStyle

Bob Jensen's threads on teaching evaluations and learning styles are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#LearningStyles

Bob Jensen's criticisms of RateMyProfessor are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm#RateMyProfessor

Probably the most widespread scandal in higher education is grade inflation. Much of this can be attributed to required (by the university) and voluntary (RateMyProfessor) evaluations of instructors by students --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm#GradeInflation



Is banning of Wikipedia/Google for coursework both stupid and wasted effort?

 

Some professors ban their students from citing Wikipedia in papers. Tara Brabazon of the University of Brighton, bars her students from using not only Wikipedia, but Google as well, The Times of London reported. Google is “white bread for the mind,” Brabazon said. “Google offers easy answers to difficult questions. But students do not know how to tell if they come from serious, refereed work or are merely composed of shallow ideas, superficial surfing and fleeting commitments,” she said. “Google is filling, but it does not necessarily offer nutritional content.”
Inside Higher Education, January 14, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/14/qt

 

"The University of Google," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 17, 2008 --- Click Here

Tara Brabazon, professor of media studies at Britain’s University of Brighton, was expected Wednesday to criticize Google and what she sees as students’ over-reliance on the search engine and Wikipedia in an inaugural lecture at the university. She calls the trend “The University of Google,” according to an article Monday in The Times, and labels the search engine “white bread for the mind.” The professor bans her own students from using Wikipedia and Google in their first year of study.

A columnist for the paper responded in a piece that accuses Ms. Brabazon of snobbery. “Curiosity, it seems, can only be stimulated by trawling library shelves or by shelling out substantial amounts of money,” he writes, sarcastically.

January 17, 2008 reply from Derek

Very interesting. I understand Brabazon’s point about students’ over-reliance on Google and Wikipedia, but I don’t know if banning those web sites helps to improve students’ information literacy. I think students need to know how to use these kinds of web sites wisely.

If I can make a plug here, our teaching center just started a new podcast series featuring interviews with faculty about issues of teaching and learning. The first episode, available here, features an interview with a (Vanderbilt) history professor who uses Wikipedia to teach the undergraduate history majors in his class how to think like historians. He’s a great teacher and interviewee, and I think he offers an effective way to use Wikipedia to help him accomplish his course goals.

Episode 1 --- http://blogs.vanderbilt.edu/cftpodcast/?p=4

 

Jensen Question
How will Professor Brabazon deal with the new and authoritative Google Knol?

Jensen Comment
So how might a student find refereed journal or scholarly book references using Wikipedia?

  1. Most scholarly Wikipedia modules have footnotes and references that can be traced back such that there is no evidence of having ever gone to Wikipedia.
    For example, note the many scholarly references and links at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jung
     

  2. Don't overlook the Discussion tab in Wikipedia. Here's where some information is turned into knowledge by scholars.
     

  3. If there is not a footnote or a reference, look for a unique phrase in Wikipedia and then insert that phrase in Google Scholar or one of the other sites below:

Scholarpedia --- http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Main_Page

PLoS One --- http://www.plosone.org/home.action

Google Scholar --- http://scholar.google.com/
Not to be confused with Google Advanced Search which does not cover many scholarly articles --- http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en

Google Knol --- http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/encouraging-people-to-contribute.html

Google Research --- http://research.google.com/

One Million University of Illinois (Free) Books to be Digitized by Google --- http://www.cic.uiuc.edu/programs/CenterForLibraryInitiatives/Archive/PressRelease/LibraryDigitization/index.shtml
Google Digitized Books --- http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search?q=Accounting
For example, key in the word "accounting"
Then try "Advanced Managerial Accounting"
Then try "Joel Demski"
Then try "Accounting for Derivative Financial Instruments"
Then try "Robert E. Jensen" AND "Accounting"

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announces the availability of a newly-digitized collection of Abraham Lincoln books accessible through the Open Content Alliance and displayed on the University Library's own web site, as the first step of a digitization project of Lincoln books from its collection. View the first set of books digitized at: http://varuna.grainger.uiuc.edu/oca/lincoln/

Microsoft's Windows "Live Search" or  "Academic Search" ---
http://search.live.com/results.aspx?scope=academic&q=

Amazon's A9 --- http://a9.com/-/search/advSearch 

Beginning October 23, 2003, Amazon.com offers a text search of entire contents of millions of pages of books, including new books ---
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/10197021/ref%3Dsib%5Fmerch%5Fgw/104-3984945-7813514 

How It Works --- http://snurl.com/BookSearch 
A significant extension of our groundbreaking Look Inside the Book feature, Search Inside the Book allows you to search millions of pages to find exactly the book you want to buy. Now instead of just displaying books whose title, author, or publisher-provided keywords that match your search terms, your search results will surface titles based on every word inside the book. Using Search Inside the Book is as simple as running an Amazon.com search. 

Soon to be the largest scholarly library in the world:
Google Book Search --- http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search 

Answers.com --- http://www.answers.com/

Carnegie Mellon Libraries: Digital Library Colloquium (video lectures) --- http://www.library.cmu.edu/Libraries/DLColloquia.html

 

For example,
Wikipedia describes how Jung proposed spiritual guidance as treatment for chronic alcoholism --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jung#Spirituality_as_a_cure_for_alcoholism
Professor Brabazon might give a student an F grade for citing the above link. Instead the student is advised to enter the phrase [ \"Jung\" AND \"Alcoholism\" AND \"Spiritual Guidance\" ] into the exact phrase search box at http://scholar.google.com/advanced_scholar_search?hl=en&lr=
Hundreds of scholarly references will emerge that Professor Brabazon will accept as authoritative. But never mention to Professor Brabazon that you got the idea for spiritual guidance as a treatment of alcoholism from Wikipedia.

Also there's a question of how Professor Brabazon will deal with the new Google Knol

"Google's Answer to Wikipedia:  Google's Knol project aims to make online information easier to find and more authoritative," MIT's Technology Review, January 15, 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20065/?nlid=806 

Google recently announced Knol, a new experimental website that puts information online in a way that encourages authorial attribution. Unlike articles for the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which anyone is free to revise, Knol articles will have individual authors, whose pictures and credentials will be prominently displayed alongside their work. Currently, participation in the project is by invitation only, but Google will eventually open up Knol to the public. At that point, a given topic may end up with multiple articles by different authors. Readers will be able to rate the articles, and the better an article's rating, the higher it will rank in Google's search results.

Google coined the term "knol" to denote a unit of knowledge but also uses it to refer to an authoritative Web-based article on a particular subject. At present, Google will not describe the project in detail, but Udi Manber, one of the company's vice presidents of engineering, provided a cursory sketch on the company's blog site. "A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read," Manber writes. And in a departure from Wikipedia's model of community authorship, he adds that "the key idea behind the Knol project is to highlight authors."

Noah Kagan, founder of the premier conference about online communities, Community Next, sees an increase in authorial attribution as a change for the better. He notes the success of the review site Yelp, which has risen to popularity in the relatively short span of three years. "Yelp's success is based on people getting attribution for the reviews that they are posting," Kagan says. "Because users have their reputation on the line, they are more likely to leave legitimate answers." Knol also has features intended to establish an article's credibility, such as references to its sources and a listing of the title, job history, and institutional affiliation of the author. Knol may thus attract experts who are turned off by group editing and prefer the style of attribution common in journalistic and academic publications.

Manber writes that "for many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing." But Mark Pellegrini, administrator and featured-article director at Wikipedia and a member of its press committee, sees two problems with this plan. "I think what will happen is that you'll end up with five or ten articles," he says, "none of which is as comprehensive as if the people who wrote them had worked together on a single article." These articles may be redundant or even contradictory, he says. Knol authors may also have less incentive to link keywords to competitors' articles, creating "walled gardens." Pellegrini describes the effect thus: "Knol authors will tend to link from their articles to other articles they've written, but not to articles written by others."

Continued in article

August 31, 2007 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]

NEW GOOGLE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY SERVICES

Google,Inc. recently announced two new services as part of its Google Research University program.

Google Search "is designed to give university faculty and their research teams high-volume programmatic access to Google Search, whose huge repository of data constitutes a valuable resource for understanding the structure and contents of the web." For more information and to register for the service, go to http://research.google.com/university/search/ 

Google Translate "offers tools to help researchers in the field of automatic machine translation compare and contrast with, and build on top of, Google's statistical machine translation system." For more information and to register for the service, go to http://research.google.com/university/translate/.

For an overview of all Google Research activities visit http://research.google.com/

How do scholars search the Internet? See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Scholars

Bob Jensen's threads on Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Open Encyclopedia, and YouTube as Knowledge Bases --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#KnowledgeBases


Federal Audit Finds Fault With Fafsa Oversight
An audit released last week by the U.S. Department of Education has found that more than $1.51-billion in federal student aid was distributed in 2004-5 to students whose loan applications were questionable or erroneous. That figure, however, may overestimate the number of students affected.The audit checked common error codes that could be generated on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. The errors include not being registered with Selective Service, answering “yes” to a drug-conviction question, or being unable to verify U.S. citizenship.
JJ Hermes, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 15, 2008 --- Click Here

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


LinkedIn Home Page --- http://www.linkedin.com/

History of LinkedIn --- http://www.linkedin.com/

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

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

A rising tide of companies are tapping Semantic Web technologies to unearth hard-to-find connections between disparate pieces of online data

"Social Networks: Execs Use Them Too Networking technology gives companies a new set of tools for recruiting and customer service—but privacy questions remain," by Rachael King, Business Week, September 11, 2007 --- Click Here 

Encover Chief Executive Officer Chip Overstreet was on the hunt for a new vice-president for sales. He had homed in on a promising candidate and dispensed with the glowing but unsurprising remarks from references. Now it was time to dig for any dirt. So he logged on to LinkedIn, an online business network. "I did 11 back-door checks on this guy and found people he had worked with at five of his last six companies," says Overstreet, whose firm sells and manages service contracts for manufacturers. "It was incredibly powerful."

So powerful, in fact, that more than a dozen sites like LinkedIn have cropped up in recent years. They're responding to a growing impulse among Web users to build ties, communities, and networks online, fueling the popularity of sites like News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace (see BusinessWeek.com, 12/12/05 "The MySpace Generation"). As of April, the 10 biggest social-networking sites, including MySpace, reached a combined unique audience of 68.8 million users, drawing in 45% of active Web users, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Of course, corporations and smaller businesses haven't embraced online business networks with nearly the same abandon as teens and college students who have flocked to social sites. Yet companies are steadily overcoming reservations and using the sites and related technology to craft potentially powerful business tools.

PASSIVE SEARCH.

Recruiters at Microsoft (MSFT) and Starbucks (SBUX), for instance, troll online networks such as LinkedIn for potential job candidates. Goldman Sachs (GS) and Deloitte run their own online alumni networks for hiring back former workers and strengthening bonds with alumni-cum-possible clients. Boston Consulting Group and law firm Duane Morris deploy enterprise software that tracks employee communications to uncover useful connections in other companies. And companies such as Intuit (INTU) and MINI USA have created customer networks to build brand loyalty.

Early adopters notwithstanding, many companies are leery of online networks. Executives don't have time to field the possible influx of requests from acquaintances on business networks. Employees may be dismayed to learn their workplace uses e-mail monitoring software to help sales associates' target pitches. Companies considering building online communities for advertising, branding, or marketing will need to cede some degree of control over content.

None of those concerns are holding back Carmen Hudson, manager of enterprise staffing at Starbucks, who says she swears by LinkedIn. "It's one of the best things for finding mid-level executives," she says.

The Holy Grail in recruiting is finding so-called passive candidates, people who are happy and productive working for other companies. LinkedIn, with its 6.7 million members, is a virtual Rolodex of these types. Hudson says she has hired three or four people this year as a result of connections through LinkedIn. "We've started asking our hiring managers to sign up on LinkedIn and help introduce us to their contacts," she says. "People have concerns about privacy, but once we explain how we use it and how careful we would be with their contacts, they're usually willing to do it."

BOOMERANGS.

Headhunters and human-resources departments are taking note. "LinkedIn is a tremendous tool for recruiters," says Bill Vick, the author of LinkedIn for Recruiting. So are sites such as Ryze, Spoke, OpenBc, and Ecademy

Continued in article

January 14, 2008 message from Charles Wankel [wankelc@VERIZON.NET]

Bob, Richard, and the rest you AECMers!

I love LinkedIn and have about 1700 connections there, mostly business professors but also my students and former students, who now I am less likely to lose touch with as they move through their careers.  I like the LinkedIn ANSWERS utility where you can ask about ideas for a particular class assignment and get answers from people in industry who then you can cajole into becoming part of the exercise and provide feedback on it to the students when you assignment it.  Also, you can search for people using the advanced search function by title, keywords, geography etc.  Now I find CEOs in my town to lunch with etc.  It’s great!  I welcome you to join my LinkedIn connections.  Join LinkedIn and add me with the EXPAND YOUR CONNECTIONS tab on the top right using Charles Wankel wankelc@stjohns.edu

Cybercollegially,
Charlie Wankel
St. John’s University, New York
Tobin College of Business

http://www.linkedin.com/in/wankelc 

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


Online Networking Site for Scientists Debuts
BiomedExperts.com, a social-networking Web site for health-care and life-science experts, was unveiled today at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting, in Philadelphia. The site includes profiles of more than 1.4 million biomedical experts in 120 countries. Researchers can gain access to the site for free and search for colleagues based on their areas of expertise, where they live, or other variables. The site also allows scientists to share data and analyses, and view summaries of their colleagues' research papers. The site is a collaboration between Collexis Holdings Inc., a Dutch software company, and Dell, a computer manufacturer.
Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2656&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en


Phishing With Fake Jury Notice

I think this has been around foe a while, but Roger Hermanson called my attention to it once again. The scammer phones and claims to be working with a court. He alleges that you failed to show up for jury duty --- http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/juryduty.asp

Identity Theft Resource Center --- http://www.idtheftcenter.org/

Bob Jensen's threads on phishing/ID theft are at the following two sites:

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

Phishing, Spoofing, Pharming, Slurping, and Pretexting ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Phishing


Professor Aaron Delwiche Comments on Second Life

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


Jury Orders U. of Phoenix Parent to Pay $277 Million
With a major lawsuit challenging its admissions practices looming on the horizon, the Apollo Group — parent of the University of Phoenix — took a beating in another legal proceeding Wednesday. A federal jury in Arizona ordered Apollo to pay an estimated $277.5 million to shareholders who sued the higher education company and two former executives in 2004 for securities fraud. The lawsuit alleged that company officials withheld a harshly critical U.S. Education Department report in February 2004 that accused Apollo of violating a federal prohibition against paying recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled. The company did not disclose the report in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings or in calls with analysts or reporters for months. When the company finally released the preliminary report, in September when it announced a $9.8 million settlement with the Education Department, its stock took a dive. That month, a group of shareholders, led by the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, sued the company under federal securities fraud laws, seeking to recoup the money they said they had lost.
Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, January 17, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/17/apollo

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/17/apollo


From Business Week Magazine on November 28, 2007
Meet This Year's Tech Pioneers --- Click Here


"Young Women Outpace Young Men in Degree Attainment, Census Shows," by JJ Hermes, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1186n.htm

Greater proportions of young women than young men are earning bachelor's degrees, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. But among adults over 25, men are still more likely than women to have received such degrees.

Nearly one-third, or 33.1 percent, of women ages 25 to 29 reported in 2007 that they had earned a bachelor's degree or higher. That compares with 26.3 percent of men in the same age range.

The data strongly suggest that college enrollment among young women over the past decade has significantly outpaced that among young men. In 1997, just 29.3 percent of women ages 25 to 29 said they had earned a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 26.3 percent of men in that age range.

While college enrollment among women is surging, women have yet to close the gap from earlier generations. Among all men 25 years or older, 29.5 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 28 percent of women.

The census data is part of the agency's annual survey on educational attainment in the United States and was published online in a series of tables. The Census Bureau maintains a history of such surveys dating back to 1947.

Continued in article


Howstuffworks: "How Electric Cars Work" --- http://auto.howstuffworks.com/electric-car.htm


College Football Players Spend 44.8 Hours a Week on Their Sport, NCAA Survey Finds
Playing major-college football is a full-time job, according to new research presented here on Saturday during the National Collegiate Athletic Association's annual convention. In a 2006 NCAA survey of 21,000 athletes who were then playing in a variety of men's and women's sports, football players reported spending 44.8 hours a week practicing, playing, or training for their sport. That's on top of the time players spend in the classroom. The findings shocked campus leaders and athletics officials at the gathering here. "That's out of control," said Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford. "I'm hoping the [NCAA] bodies that oversee football will do something about this, and that the board of directors pays attention to it."
Brad Wolverton, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 14, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1208n.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Among other results, the survey found:
  • Almost two-thirds of Division I athletes said they believed their grade-point averages would be higher if they had not participated in sports.
  • Athletes who reported having more balance between their athletics and academic commitments performed better in the classroom.
  • The majority of those surveyed viewed themselves more as athletes than as students. But those who viewed themselves primarily as students had higher graduation rates.

A report on the survey, "Goals: Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Learning of Students in College," will be released later this year.

 

Jensen Comment
Football players play approximately 12-16 games each autumn semester. I think baseball players probably spend even more time on their sport since they play 50-80 games each spring semester.

  • College baseball players strike out a lot in courses
    Also Thursday, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors initiated a year-long study aimed at identifying ways to improve the academic performance of baseball players, who fared comparatively poorly in March when the association, for the first time, began punishing sports teams based on members’ failure to proceed toward a degree.
    Doug Lederman, "NCAA Homes In on High Schools," Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/28/mills

    How can you play 70 games of baseball, half of which are out of town, and pretend to go to class?

    "The Brutal Truth about College Sports," by Skip Rozin, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005; Page D7 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112673590440041002,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
  • Just Don't Call It Education:  Is there fraud in academic assessment of top college athletes?
    Three newspapers this weekend explored the academic compromises universities make in the name of athletic success. The New York Times reported that an internal audit at Auburn University revealed that an athlete’s grade had been changed without the professor’s knowledge, to bring the athlete just over the minimum average needed for eligibility. Auburn isn’t talking. The Athens Banner-Herald reported that in 1999 and 2000, the University of Georgia’s president, Michael Adams, authorized the admission of 119 athletes who did not meet academic standards, and that 21 of them left because of academic problems. And The San Diego Union Tribune reported on the percentages of scholarship athletes at many Western institutions who are “special admits” (translation: they don’t meet admissions standards). The newspaper found that special admits are rare in the student body as a whole at the institutions studied, but quite high (70 percent at the University of California at Los Angeles, 65 percent at San Diego State University) for scholarship athletes.
    Inside Higher Ed, December 11, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/11/qt

    NCAA Committee to Explore Concerns Over Athletes' Clustering in Certain Majors
    A
    thlete clustering is one of the most controversial topics in college sports, and many athletics officials have long denied that it takes place (The Chronicle, January 17, 2003). But as colleges have demanded more of athletes, and the NCAA has raised academic standards to keep players on track toward graduation, some academic advisers have seen an increase in the number of athletes who choose certain majors.The Committee on Academic Performance, which created the stricter academic requirements for athletes, wants to look at the effect the rules have had on players. It also wants to explore how athletes' majors compare with those of the overall student population. The NCAA already has data on athletes' majors. And members of its research staff believe they may have found comparable data for overall enrollments."We've all heard examples of athletes' taking majors with more electives, or not studying things like chemistry" because of how much time students must spend in the laboratory, Mr. Harrison said. "We just want to know if athletes are being channeled away from, say, psychology and into sports management."
    Brad Wolverton, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 14, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1209n.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

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


    Reviving Journalism Schools and Business Schools
    For as long as doomsayers have predicted the decline of civic-minded reportage as we know it, reformers have sought to draft a rewrite of the institutions that train many undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a career in journalism. Criticisms of journalism schools have ranged from questioning whether the institutions are necessary in the first place (since many journalists, and most senior ones, don’t have journalism degrees) to debating the merits of teaching practical skills versus theory and whether curriculums should emphasize broad knowledge or specialization in individual fields . . . The sessions were part of an effort to evaluate the function of journalism schools in an age of new media and the public’s declining faith in the fourth estate: the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, which in 2005 enlisted top institutions in the country to bolster their curriculums with interdisciplinary studies and expose students to different areas of knowledge, including politics, economics, philosophy and the sciences. The initiative, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, also works with journalism schools to incubate selected students working on national reporting projects.
    Andy Guess, "Reviving the J-School," Inside Higher Ed, January 10, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/10/jschools

    There are an increasing number of scholarly videos on this topic at
    BigThink:  YouTube for Scholars (where intellectuals may post their lectures on societal issues) --- http://www.bigthink.com/

    Some of you may benefit by analyzing similarities and differences between the above tidbit on J-Schools versus the AACSB effort to examine needs for change in B-Schools.

    Key AACSB sites include the following:

     

    http://www.aacsb.edu/Resource_Centers/AME/AME report.pdf

    http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/metf/metfreportfinal-august02.pdf

    http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/dfc/default.asp

    http://www.aacsb.edu/wxyz/hp-sdc.asp

    http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/ValueReport_lores.pdf

    "Teaching the Gospel of Management Program Aims to Bring Transparency To Church Business Practices," by Ron Alsop, January 8, 2008; Page B4--- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119974268053072925.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac

    The reputations of many Roman Catholic parishes have been tarnished in recent years, both by the priest sex-abuse scandals and a growing number of embezzlement cases. That has prompted a burgeoning movement to improve the management and leadership skills of church officials through new programs being offered primarily at Catholic universities. M.B.A. Track columnist Ron Alsop talked recently with Charles Zech, director of the Center for the Study of Church Management and a professor of economics at Villanova University's School of Business in Villanova, Pa., about the launch of its master's degree in church management in May and the need for more sophisticated and more transparent business practices in parishes and religious organizations.

    WSJ: Why did Villanova decide to create a master's degree in church management?

    Dr. Zech: We find that business managers at both the parish and diocesan level often have social work, theology or education backgrounds and lack management skills. While pastors aren't expected to know all the nitty-gritty of running a small business, they at least need enough training in administration to supervise their business managers. Before starting the degree, we ran some seminars in 2006 and 2007 as a trial balloon to see if folks were interested enough to pay for management education. The seminars proved to be quite popular, drawing people from all over the country, including high-level officials from both Catholic dioceses and religious orders.

    How have the sexual-abuse scandals and embezzlement cases put a spotlight on poor management and governance practices?

    The Catholic Church has some real managerial problems that were brought to light by the clergy abuse scandals. It became quite obvious that the church isn't very transparent and accountable in its finances. Settlements had been made off the books with abuse victims and priests had been sent off quietly for counseling, to the surprise of many parishioners. Then came a string of embezzlement cases. Our center on church management surveyed chief financial officers of U.S. Catholic dioceses in 2005 and found that 85% had experienced embezzlements in the previous five years. One of our recommendations was that parishes be audited once a year by an independent auditor. There clearly are serious questions about internal financial controls at the parish level, and we are now doing research on parish advisory councils and asking questions about such things as who handles the Sunday collection and who has check-writing authority. Does the same person count the collection, deposit the money and then reconcile the checkbook? Obviously, you're just asking for problems if it's the same person; you can imagine the temptations.

    Beyond the need for better financial controls, what other management issues should get more attention from church leaders?

    Performance management is definitely an important but neglected area. That's partly because it's a very touchy issue. Who is going to appraise the performance of a priest or a church worker who is also a member of the parish? There's great reluctance on the part of the clergy to be appraiser or appraisee. You have to view the parish as a family business and understand that it's like evaluating members of your family.

    How will Villanova's church management degree be different from what other universities have started offering?

    Some schools combine standard business classes with courses from theology and other departments. But if you're taking a regular M.B.A. finance class, you're learning about Wall Street and other things that aren't really relevant. What we're doing is creating courses specifically for this degree program, so there are both business and faith-based elements in every class. For example, the law course will deal with civil law relative to church law so students understand the possible conflicts. The accounting course will cover internal financial-control issues for churches. And the human-resource management class will include discussion of volunteers, a big part of the labor force for parishes.

    Have you encountered any resistance from church officials?

    Yes, some people say a church is not a business. But I point out that we still have to be good stewards of our resources -- our financial and human capital -- to carry out God's work on Earth. When you use management terms with bishops, they often get turned off. But when you use the word stewardship, it has more impact because it's in the Bible. Jesus talked about the importance of our being good stewards who take care of our talents and other gifts.

    Is the degree restricted to Catholic clergy and lay managers?

    The courses will have a Catholic focus because as a Catholic university, our mission is to try to meet the needs of our community. But the degree is certainly not restricted to Catholics. Every church has similar managerial problems. In fact, we're eager for other Christian denominations to become part of the program and provide some valuable contributions to class discussions. A typical course, however, would not apply to other religions because of the different way Christian churches are organized compared with synagogues and other religious institutions.

    Why is the degree being offered primarily online, with only a one-week residency on campus?

    Since we view the market for church-management education as national and even global, a distance-learning degree will attract clergy and church workers from any part of the world who can't take off for two years to come to Villanova. In fact, we already have heard from a priest in Ireland and a Presbyterian minister in Cameroon interested in enrolling in the program.

    The church management degree costs $23,400. How can clergy and church workers afford it?

    We expect the vast majority of students to be supported by a diocese or other religious or social service organizations. We will chop 25% off the price for anyone who can get their organization to pay a third of the tuition. That cuts a student's out-of-pocket costs by about half. We're trying to send the message to religious leaders that this is important and that they should invest in management training.

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


    "A Deadly Web of Deceit A Teen's Online 'Friend' Proved False, And Cyber-Vigilantes Are Avenging Her," by Tamara Jones, The Washington Post, January 10, 2008 --- Click Here

    Megan Meier was buried in the polka-dot dress she planned to wear for her 14th birthday. She had handed out the invitations to her party the day she died. Her eighth-grade classmates attended her funeral, instead, heads bowed and hands clasped as her casket was loaded into the hearse.

    At the time, Megan's suicide was considered a private tragedy in a quiet suburb tucked between strip malls a half-hour up the interstate from St. Louis. Concerned neighbors embraced her stunned family, and a collective grief seemed to envelop the look-alike houses on Waterford Crystal Drive.

    A year passed before the truth began coming out.

    In November, the grieving parents told their local newspaper that a 47-year-old neighbor -- a family friend -- had orchestrated a cruel prank on MySpace.com, driving Megan to loop a belt around her neck and hang herself in her bedroom closet. The troubling story was picked up by bloggers, talk radio and others in the indignant chat universe. Tens of thousands joined the ongoing debate. Some wanted legislation; others wanted blood.

    On message boards and Web site memorials, in chats and forums, Megan would be mourned, analyzed, romanticized, vilified and endlessly discussed, giving her in death the popularity she never knew in life.

    If the Internet had killed Megan Meier, now it would avenge her.

    * * *

    A handsome high school boy was flirting on MySpace.com. Josh Evans told Megan Meier she had pretty eyes, that he thought she was cute. Megan excitedly messaged back.

    On the Internet, she could be cool. Thirteen had been miserable, but that fall Megan had fled the jeering hallways of West Middle School, and the outcast misery of a fat girl trying to fit in. Enrolled in a small parish school, she was reinventing herself: She had joined the volleyball team and lost 20 pounds. Her parents were relieved to hear Megan's bubbly laugh again. Fourteen promised to be better.

    But in the course of two hours on a rainy Monday afternoon, Megan Meier suddenly became a target once more, hounded and publicly humiliated by a teenage mob on the Web, set upon in a virtual Lord of the Cyberflies.

    Continued in article

    "Privacy, Free Speech and Anonymity on the Internet," by Daniel J. Solove, The Washington Post, January 10, 2008 --- Click Here

    Daniel J. Solove, associate law professor at George Washington University and author of "The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet," will be online Thursday, Jan. 19, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the Megan Meier-MySpace suicide case and the growing issues of free speech, privacy and reputation on the Web.


    Some updates from Mossberg's Mailbox, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2008 Page B2---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119992737740579599.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace

    Monitoring Kids' Web Access
    There's no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

    Here are a few questions about computers I've received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

    Q: I couldn't find any columns on products you recommend for monitoring kids' Web access and installing parental controls. I recently purchased a new computer for my 9-year-old daughter. I want to make sure she can only access specific Web sites and I want to protect her from inappropriate spam and chatting.

    A: If you have a computer running one of the newer versions of Windows or the Macintosh operating system, I recommend using the extensive parental controls that are now built right into those operating systems. While you can never underestimate the ingenuity of computer-savvy kids, these built-in controls, if properly used, are generally harder to evade than the ones provided by third-party software.

    I did recently review these built-in parental controls, which appear in Windows Vista, and in the Tiger and Leopard editions of the Mac's OS X operating system. You can find that column at: ptech.allthingsd.com/20070614.


    Q: I want to switch to a Mac, but my life is on Microsoft Outlook, which is only available on Windows. Is there a simple way to convert all of this data to programs on the Mac?

    A: There is a $10 program that performs this task. It's called O2M (Outlook to Mac) and is from a company called Little Machines. It can be downloaded at littlemachines.com, where you also will find details about the Mac programs with which it works. This is a Windows program, which transfers your Outlook data into files you copy to your Mac. You then manually import these files into your Mac programs.

    According to the company, the program exports Outlook email, email attachments, contacts and calendar appointments and allows you to import this data into Apple's built-in email, address book and calendar programs, as well as into Microsoft Entourage, and other third-party programs.

    Another approach is to install Windows on your Mac, and keep running Outlook. If you do this using the Parallels or Fusion virtualization programs ($80 each, plus the cost of Windows,) you can run Outlook simultaneously with your Mac programs.


    Yawn:  Just Billions More in World Bank Frauds Coming to Light
    Corruption is an endemic problem in bank projects, swallowing unknown but significant chunks from its $30 billion-plus annual portfolio. No less a problem has been the bank staff's ferocious resistance to anything that might stand in the way of its lending ever more money to projects run by the same governments that tolerate this malfeasance. Yet nothing we've seen so far can compare to what has now been uncovered about five health projects in India, involving $569 million in loans. The projects were the subject of a "Detailed Implementation Review," a lengthy forensic examination undertaken by Ms. Folsom's Department of Institutional Integrity, known within the bank as INT. As of this writing the bank has not publicly released the review, though it's been shared with the bank's board. But we've seen a copy and are posting its executive summary on www.wsj.com/opinion  and www.OpinionJournal.com   (click here to see it).
    "World Bank Disgrace," The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2008; Page A12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120026972002987225.html

    Question
    Why doesn't Section 401 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act apply to attestation of internal controls in the World Bank?

    "World Bank Reckoning," The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2007; Page A16 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118964274677625838.html

    Since we're talking about the world's second most out-of-control international bureaucracy -- no prizes for guessing the first -- we shouldn't get our hopes up. But in the past week some prominent outsiders have been forcing the World Bank to reckon with the alien concept of accountability. Now it's up to new bank President Robert Zoellick to see that their efforts bear fruit.

    First up is former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. For the past five months, Mr. Volcker and a panel of international experts have been conducting an independent review of the Department of Institutional Integrity, the bank's anticorruption unit known internally as the INT. Their report, which readers can find on OpinionJournal.com, is being released to the public today.

    In sober and measured terms, Mr. Volcker's report provides a devastating indictment of what it calls the bank's "ambivalence" toward both corruption and its own anticorruption unit. "There was then, and remains now, resistance among important parts of the Bank staff and some of its leadership to the work of INT," the report says (our emphasis).

    It goes on to say that, "Some resistance is more parochial. There is a natural discomfort among some line staff, who are generally encouraged by the pay and performance evaluation system to make loans for promising projects, to have those projects investigated ex post, exposed as rife with corruption, creating an awkward problem in relations with borrowing clients." To put it more plainly, the report is saying that every incentive at the bank is to push more money out the door, and bank employees hate the anticorruption effort because it interferes with that imperative.

    The report endorses the work of the INT, which was created a mere six years ago and which has been under what it calls a "particularly strong" institutional attack ever since. The INT, the Volcker panel says, "is staffed by competent and dedicated investigators who work hard and long hours with professionalism" and deploy "advanced investigative methods to detect and substantiate allegations of fraud and corruption." And it goes on to recommend that the anticorruption crusaders "should be nurtured and maintained as an exemplary investigative organization" within the bank.

    In a phone interview yesterday, Mr. Volcker added that he gives "high marks" to current INT director Suzanne Rich Folsom. Mr. Volcker's endorsement should stop cold the recent attempts by some in the bank's entrenched bureaucracy to run Ms. Folsom out of the bank, as they did Paul Wolfowitz.

    The bank is also being put on notice by the U.S. Senate through provisions in its foreign operations appropriations bill. The provision threatens to withhold 20% of U.S. funds to the bank's International Development Association arm (which provides interest-free loans to the world's poorest countries) until it is assured that the bank "has adequately staffed and sufficiently funded the Department of Institutional Integrity." The bill also demands that the bank provide "financial disclosure forms of all senior World bank personnel." Now, that will get the bureaucracy's attention.

    Notably, it's a Democrat -- Evan Bayh of Indiana -- who's taken the lead on this issue. Mr. Bayh has ordered a Government Accountability Office report on the effectiveness of IDA loans and their susceptibility to corruption, the bank's procurement procedures, as well as the legendary pay packages enjoyed by its senior management. "There's a tendency [at the bank] to say 'just give us the money and go away,'" the Senator told us by phone yesterday. "Until there are some tangible consequences, they won't take us seriously. We shouldn't let that happen."

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm

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

    Note that there's a pretty good summary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes-Oxley


    "Verizon's New Voyager Looks Like the iPhone, But Software Is Inferior," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2008; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119992629899579535.html


    From Connecticut Central State University
    "How well does your city cultivate literate, 'bookish' behavior in its citizenry?"
    2007 annual ranking of the "most literate cities" --- http://www.ccsu.edu/AMLC07/Default.htm

    The annual rankings of the "most literate cities" have been released by Central Connecticut State University, accounting for per capita booksellers; educational attainment; internet resources; library resources; newspaper circulation; and periodical publications. The study ranks only the 69 largest U.S. cities (population 250,000 or more)

    And the winners are:

    01 Minneapolis, MN
    02 Seattle, WA
    03 St. Paul, MN
    04 Denver, CO
    05 Washington, DC
    06 St. Louis, MO
    07 San Francisco, CA
    08 Atlanta, GA
    09 Pittsburgh, PA
    10 Boston, MA

    Jensen Comment
    I have my doubts about these "bookish behavior" rankings of some cities.

    Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."
    Mark Twain --- http://www.twainquotes.com/Statistics.html


    "Critical Mass:  The Number 32," by Robert Lalasz, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 18, 2008 ---
    http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i19/19b00401.htm?utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en

    Are global consumption trends leading to a new "population bomb"? Jared M. Diamond thinks so — and so do his critics. Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles and author of best sellers like Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Guns, Germs, and Steel, wrote in a New York Times op-ed this month that the average Western person consumes and pollutes 32 times as much as a person in the developing world — and that the world will plunge into environmental catastrophe when developing countries like China and India catch up to American levels of driving, buying, and throwing away. "It would be as if the world population ballooned to 72 billion people," Diamond writes.

    Diamond's arithmetic is both frightening and easy to grasp — suspiciously so for a number of critics. They say Diamond's argument falls into the same intellectual trap as Paul H. Ehrlich's 1968 book The Population Bomb, which predicted that global population growth would outstrip agricultural advances and lead to mass famines by 1985. But can technology develop quickly enough to support nine billion people who consume like Americans? The answer seems to depend less on evidence than on what you put your faith in.

    Continued in article

     


    "For CES and Beyond, a Glossary on Geek-Speak Finding Your Way Around Tech Talk When Browsing," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal,  January 9, 2008; Page D4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119984258431276605.html

    This week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the majority of attendees are doing their darndest to speak the geek language. "Geek," though just a letter away from "Greek," can be just as confusing to those who aren't fluent speakers. Below, find a guide to terms and definitions used in some key technology categories. It will help you speak geek with the best of them, whether at CES or browsing products in your neighborhood electronics store.

    Digital Cameras

    Megapixels: This term describes the highest resolution photo a camera can take. Often mistaken as the most important factor in a digital camera, a high megapixel count -- such as 10MP or more -- isn't necessary for the average user unless he or she plans on heavily editing or enlarging photos. Most new digicams offer between five and eight megapixels, which is usually more than enough.

    Optical or Digital Zoom: Optical zoom, determined by the physical movement of a lens, matters much more than digital zoom, which digitally alters an image using the camera's internal computer. Camera companies still try to confuse potential buyers by listing a camera's total zoom, or the optical and digital zooms multiplied together. Ignore total zoom numbers and instead focus on optical, which now averages around 5x for many new cameras.

    Image Stabilization: When generously sized LCD viewing screens started replacing optical viewfinders, they also forced users to hold their cameras at arm's length, making for plenty of blurry photographs. To remedy this, camera manufacturers have added image stabilization, tools once found only in high-end SLR models. Optical (also called "mechanical") and digital image stabilization correct for unsteady hands and moving subjects, respectively. Cameras with both types advertise dual image stabilization, which corrects for both situations and costs more.

    Mobile Devices

    HSDPA and EVDO: HSDPA, or High Speed Downlink Packet Access, is the name for AT&T's 3G, or third generation, mobile network that operates at roughly the speed of a slower DSL in a home. HSDPA is available in most major metropolitan areas and is seen as the competitor to Verizon and Sprint's EVDO (Evolution Data Only) networks, though the popular iPhone runs on AT&T's network using Wi-Fi and EDGE technology rather than HSDPA.

    Multi-Touch Technology: Most popularly found on Apple's iPhone and iPod touch, multi-touch is starting to show up in other products, such as in Microsoft's Surface, a coffee-table-like computer. Rather than just responding to on-screen touches, this technology enables moving, resizing and zooming pictures and Web pages using one or more fingers simultaneously. Look for many more devices -- mobile and otherwise -- to incorporate multi-touch in the future.

    GPS: Global Positioning Systems are most often found in cars -- either built-in or on portable devices from companies like Garmin and TomTom. These gadgets use satellite technology to determine geographic location, and high-end models even display Web content like news and weather along with directions. GPS integration in mobile devices can be used to plot routes in cars, can help users find nearby businesses while on the go and can link friends by showing one where the other is located and what they're doing.

    Digital Music

    DRM: Digital rights management is a set of standards that protect the intellectual property rights of online content like music and videos, preventing it from being illegally distributed across the Web. In the past year, Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Apple and (most recently) Sony BMG said they will start selling DRM-free versions of songs, often for a higher price. In Apple's iTunes store, these files are called "iTunes Plus" and aren't restricted like other iTunes content.

    MP3: MP3 files are open, without any DRM restrictions. Files that you rip (copy) from your own CDs are usually converted into MP3s, though iTunes users can automatically rip tracks into that program's special format, called AAC. MP3 files can be uploaded to social-networking sites for sharing with friends and online communities.

    AAC and WMA: These file types are protected by rights that tie them to specific players. Generally, AAC files make up the majority of tracks sold on Apple's iTunes store and play only on Apple's iPods; WMA files are Microsoft's version of proprietary files.

    Wi-Fi

    The popularity of Wireless Fidelity, or Wi-Fi, brings this technology to more and more portable devices like the iPod Touch and Microsoft Zune and gives companies good reason to incorporate Wi-Fi receivers in new computers -- laptops and desktops alike. While available in many flavors, different letters like b, g, a and n stand behind Wi-Fi's more technical name, 802.11, to help discern one version from another according to characteristics like speed and compatibility. The latest version, "n," offers the greatest range and speed, and "n" devices are usually compatible with earlier versions.

    Televisions

    HDTV: High-definition television has now become the standard, capable of displaying vastly better pictures, provided the source is also HD. Today's more popular flat panel HD televisions are LCDs, or liquid crystal displays, though plasmas still hold their own. Recording HD content can't be done with a regular digital video recorder; instead, a special HD recorder is required to capture this higher quality content.

    480p vs. 1080i vs. 720p vs. 1080p: These numbers refer to the resolution, or sharpness, of a digital display, while "p" stands for progressive and "i" stands for interlaced. A resolution of 480p, known as EDTV or Enhanced Definition TV, is found most often in low-end plasmas or LCD screens. A TV with a resolution of 1080p is currently considered the Holy Grail, and costs the most. But 1080p pictures usually can't be distinguished from less expensive 1080i or 720p pictures by average viewers at the typical distances from which most folks watch TV.

    Blu-ray vs. HD DVD: Blu-ray and HD DVD are incompatible high-definition disc formats that continue to fight a seemingly endless battle to replace the DVD. The Blu-ray camp is led by Sony and the HD DVD camp is led by Toshiba. The two formats aren't so different, technically speaking, but their very existence is confusing to consumers. The recent decision made by Time Warner's Warner Bros. to use Blu-ray gives Sony's side a boost, and now Viacom's Paramount is rumored to be switching to Blu-ray from HD DVD. Dual-format players from Samsung and LG offer some solace.

    Bob Jensen's Technology Glossary is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245gloss.htm


    Question
    Is Fair Tax Advocate Mike Huckabee a "fair tax" huckter?

    From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on January 11, 2008

    Fair Tax Flaws
    by Jerry Bowyer
    The Wall Street Journal

    Jan 08, 2008
    Page: A20
    Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com ---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119975825638773747.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac
     

    TOPICS: State Income Tax, Tax Avoidance, Tax Evasion, Tax Laws, Tax Reform, Taxation

    SUMMARY: In this opinion page item, Mr. Bowyer writes in a funny and entertaining way about the difficulties in replacing the current U.S. income tax system with a sales tax, as currently proposed by one candidate for president, Mike Huckabee. For example, he writes, "There is a large category of economic activity designed to avoid sales taxes -- it's called smuggling. We don't hear that word much anymore, because we're not a sales-tax or tariff-based system anymore. Increase sales taxes to a combined state and federal 30%, up from a state-based 6% now, and watch the dodging begin." Mr. Bowyer is chief economist of BenchMark Financial Network and a CNBC contributor.

    CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Taxation and the impact of the political process on it.

    QUESTIONS: 
    1.) What is tax reform? Why is it a topic on the current presidential campaign trail?

    2.) What is presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's proposal to reform U.S. tax laws? How might a national sales tax provide tax reform?

    3.) In this Opinion page article, Mr. Bowyer refers to raising sales tax rates from 6% to 30%--what is the meaning of these two rates?

    4.) What is the "complexity argument" in relation to our current tax code? In sum, what is Mr. Bowyer's response to this argument?

    5.) What is the notion of exempting businesses from a national sales tax? How likely is that proposal to come to fruition?

    6.) Mr. Bowyer lists installment sales, inventory accounting, wholesale purchases and eBay transactions as items leading to problems in applying sales tax laws. For each, what do you think is the problem or questionable tax treatment? Do these areas lead to problems in our current tax reporting system? Explain.
     

    Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
     

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    by WSJ Opinion Page Editors
    Jan 09, 2008
    Page: A14

    "FairTax Flaws," by Jerry Bowyer, The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2008; Page A20 ---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119975825638773747.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac

    If talk show hosts ran the world, we'd have a national sales tax. We'd have no immigration, and we would have long ago carpet-bombed the entire Middle East. We'd also have something called "fair trade," which means no real trade at all.

    But they don't run the world; they just pretend that if they did, everything would be great. I would be a lot more confident that this was true if I didn't know so many talk show hosts. I would be even more confident if they had really run anything of consequence before. But I do, and they haven't.

    I mention this because last week Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus partly on a movement incubated in large part on radio talk shows: the FairTax. If words were deeds, then life would be great. We could simply declare that by switching from a federal income tax to a national retail sales tax, tax cheating would end, code complexity would be a thing of the past, and illegal immigrants would start paying taxes. And, of course, we'd switch into high economic growth -- forever.

    The problem is that none of this would happen. People would simply switch from cheating on income taxes to cheating on sales taxes.

    Small vendors often fail to withhold sales taxes. Buyers cheat on sales taxes now. They often fail to pay taxes on interstate catalogue sales. They buy some goods in black markets.

    This doesn't happen much because sales taxes are much lower than income taxes, but if that were reversed, consumers would cheat more. Look at cigarettes. Organized crime sells smokes on the black market in jurisdictions that impose high cigarette taxes.

    There is a large category of economic activity designed to avoid sales taxes -- it's called smuggling. We don't hear that word much anymore, because we're not a sales-tax or tariff-based system anymore. Increase sales taxes to a combined state and federal 30%, up from a state-based 6% now, and watch the dodging begin.

    The immigrant stuff is nonsense on stilts. Let me ask you this: If they're here illegally, why won't they also buy and sell goods on the black market?

    Then there's the complexity argument. You don't think the lobbyists and lawyers will get involved in this, looking for exemptions on houses, medical services and education? You're going to put a 30% tax on my home purchase, and my doctor visits and my kids' tuition? Yeah, great idea.

    And what about business transactions? If you tax business-to-business transactions, then you'll set off a wave of corporate consolidation. Instead of buying from a supplier at a 30% markup, I'll just buy my supplier and be tax free. And what about financial firms like Goldman Sachs, which spend most of their money on payroll and investments, and very little on goods and services? Goldman will pay taxes on what? Paper clips?

    If, on the other hand, we institute the most widely supported version of the national sales tax, then business transactions are to be exempted. In addition to the colossal job of selling America on a zero tax rate for business, a rigorous definition of the term "business transaction" would have to be provided. What is a business transaction, exactly? I write articles for publication. I consider it a hobby. Sometimes I get paid. Should I pay sales taxes on money I earn for writing this article?

    What about the Internet connection I used to send it? Should readers pay taxes on the connection they use to read my article? What if a reader uses it for his job? If he is a financial adviser, then no, but otherwise it's yes? Will I pay taxes on gas I used to drive to the studio to talk about this article? What if I stop to buy my son Jack a birthday present on the way home?

    I'm a recovering tax accountant (and not a good one at that) and I've got 50 ways to avoid this tax swimming around in my head. What about the really smart guys?

    And what about transition rules? There are millions of transactions that are, at any given moment, occurring over an extended time. The most obvious example is retirement. I defer taxes now, for retirement later. So I make a decision based on an income-tax regime that doesn't make any sense in a sales-tax regime. Do I get my money back? What about Roth IRAs? I pay income taxes on the money now, and then pay again later when I spend it during retirement? Double taxation isn't really a "fair" tax, is it?

    These are the easy-to-see cases, but what about the incredible variety of tax questions raised by installment sales? Inventory accounting? Wholesale purchases? Ebay?

    None of this matters anyway. We will never make this change. The 16th Amendment will not be repealed in favor of a tax vigorously opposed by an army of restaurants, pubs and retail stores. It's hard to get good ideas through the ratification process; imagine how hard it would be to push this stinker. In point of fact, the FairTax serves one main purpose right now: It gives Mr. Huckabee the chance to sum up his economic plan in one line. And that just doesn't seem, well, fair.

    Bob Jensen's taxation helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation


    Stanford Scientists Build a Better Virtual World
    A group of Stanford computer scientists has designed a program that could help users create a more realistic virtual environment in which to interact.
    The Stanford Virtual Worlds group announced this week that they have created
    Dryad, a program in which users can easily “construct” trees in a virtual space. Using the wealth of information about trees already collect by botanists, Dryad populates the virtual space with trees created from 100 different variables. Users navigate the space and pick their desired tree from thousands of possibilities. A social-networking component refines the software by “nudging” users to trees with popular characteristics. This, in effect, allows users to pick an item they want without having to go through a complicated creation process, or being able to shape a realistic-looking object manually.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2655&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

    Bob Jensen's threads on virtual worlds in education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#SecondLife


    Education Tutorials

    The 2007 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning? --- http://snipurl.com/brownreport2007

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


    Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

    Minority Health Archive --- http://minority-health.pitt.edu/

    Colorado State University Extension: Agriculture Resources --- http://www.ext.colostate.edu/menuag.html

    The Case of a Tropical Disease and Its Treatment: Science, Society, and Economics http://www.sciencecases.org/chagas/chagas.asp

    "Ants, plants each must hold up their end," Chicago Sun-Times, January 10, 2008 --- http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/735742,ants011008.article 

    Call it the rule of unintended consequences — drop your guard because one threat goes away and an unexpected menace jumps up and smacks you.

    And new research shows it even applies to African acacia trees.

    For thousands of years these thorny shrubs have provided food and shelter to aggressive biting ants, which protect the trees by attacking animals that try and eat the acacia leaves.

    Called mutualism, it’s a good deal for both the trees and the ants.

    Scientists studying the decline in large animals in Africa wondered what would happen if they no longer were eating the leaves. So they fenced off some of the acacias, so elephants, giraffes and other animals couldn’t get to them.

    Surprisingly, after a few years the fenced-in trees began looking sickly and grew slower than their unfenced relatives.

    It turns out that without animals eating their leaves the trees no longer bothered to take care of their ants — they reduced nectar production and made fewer swollen thorns that the ants could live in.

    The result: The protective ants either began damaging the plant or were replaced by other insects that ate holes in the bark.

    ‘‘Although this mutualism between ants and plants has likely evolved over very long time-scales, it falls apart very, very rapidly,’’ said Todd Palmer, an assistant professor of zoology at the University of Florida.

    ‘‘Over the course of only 10 years, we found that when mammals could not eat plants, the plants began to have less use for the ants, and therefore began to reduce their ’payments’ to the ants, in the form of nectar,’’ Palmer, who is currently in Kenya, explained in an interview via e-mail. Palmer’s findings are reported in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

    ‘‘If you had asked me 10 years ago ’what would happen if you took large mammals out of the system,’ I would have answered ’I’ll bet the trees would be really happy!’’’ he said.

    But instead, because the browsing animals are the driving force behind the tree paying out benefits to the ants, when the payments diminish, the ants that protect the tree begin to starve and its colonies become smaller.

    Continued in article

    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

    Understanding Economics --- http://www.henrygeorge.org/

    Social Geography --- http://www.social-geography.net/

    Global Distribution of Poverty --- http://sedac.ciesin.org/povmap/

    Governing.com (a magazine for state and local government) --- http://www.governing.com/

    A Government Website for Helpers in Personal Finance
    MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government's website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are planning to buy a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401k, the resources on MyMoney.gov can help you do it better. Throughout the site, you will find important information from 20 federal agencies government wide.
    My Money.gov --- http://www.mymoney.gov/

    The Case of a Tropical Disease and Its Treatment: Science, Society, and Economics http://www.sciencecases.org/chagas/chagas.asp

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


    Law and Legal Studies

    European Judicial Network --- http://ec.europa.eu/civiljustice/index_en.htm

    University Channel (video and audio) ---  http://uc.princeton.edu/main/

    Law & Legal Research Center - http://www.cpanet.com/up/s0210.asp?ID=0575

    FindLaw - http://www.cpanet.com/up/s0210.asp?ID=0576

    Legal Professional Site Links --- http://www.chooselaw.com/

    Counter-Terrorism Training and Resources for Law Enforcement --- http://www.counterterrorismtraining.gov/

    The Yale Law Journal: Pocket Part --- http://www.thepocketpart.org/

    Bob Jensen's threads on law and legal studies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Law


    Math Tutorials

    Math in Daily Life --- http://www.learner.org/interactives/dailymath/index.html

    Episodes in the History of Geometry through Models in Dynamic Geometry---
    http://mathdl.maa.org/convergence/1/?pa=content&sa=viewDocument&nodeId=1679

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

    Center for the Teaching of Statistics --- http://cts.stat.ucla.edu/

    Exploring Data (Statistics Tutorials) --- http://exploringdata.cqu.edu.au/

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


    History Tutorials

    From the U.S. Library of Congress
    Exploring the Early Americas --- http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/earlyamericas/

    History of the United States --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Library 

    The John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library --- http://www.johnadamslibrary.org/

    International Spy Museum --- http://www.spymuseum.org/

    Printmaking
    Vive la difference: The English and French stereotype in satirical prints, 1720-1815 --- http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/viveladifference/

    Arden: World of William Shakespeare --- http://swi.indiana.edu/arden/gi_specs.shtml

    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

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


    Writing Tutorials

    Arden: World of William Shakespeare --- http://swi.indiana.edu/arden/gi_specs.shtml

    Web Technology Boosts Writing Performance at Alhambra USD --- http://www.thejournal.com/articles/21847

    "How to Be an Author," by William Germano, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 14, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2008/01/2008011401c/careers.html?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en 

    Put down the pen, turn off the computer: Writing a book is only the first part of becoming an academic author. Today, more than ever, you also have to become your publisher's partner.

    It's easy to imagine what that might mean while the book is still cooking. But the real work of promotion begins when the book is done. This isn't the moment to be tired of your subject -- you're the only one to whom your book is old news. Here are a few things authors can do. Some require plane flights and hotel stays, others you can do from home.

    Talk to Your Publisher's Publicity Department.

    Get its take on your book's potential. If it's a trade book, can you get a breakfast appearance or an autograph session at BookExpo, the massive booksellers' jamboree? Can you get on "Fresh Air?" Cable? Network TV? For most academic authors, those aren't likely prospects, but it's always worth asking politely. If you're not big media fodder, there are plenty of other ways in which to take part in your book's career. Be sure you've filled out the author's questionnaire that the publisher sent you to guide its promotion efforts. Fill it out completely. Which means all the parts.

    Make the Net Work for You.

    If you're a blogger, you already have a platform. If not, maybe you've been a lurker on a forum or an e-mail discussion group. Now is the moment to step into the cyberspotlight and say something about your exciting new project. Don't be afraid to e-mail friends and acquaintances. Spam filters and institutional protocols may set limits on what you can do, but an e-blast is a good way for you, or you and your publisher, to reach carefully selected lists.

    If you have a Web site, use it to reward the curious. Offer more information (for example, visuals) about your project. Make the URL part of your e-signature. If you don't want to mix holiday snaps with your professional writing life, consider creating a separate Web site dedicated to your subject.

    Watch Amazon. Be sure your publisher has put up the cover of your book with the correct copy, advance blurbs, and good reviews as they come in.

    Go Out and Dramatize.

    Most authors lecture on their subject. Plan on speaking about your book, and plan on reading some of it aloud when you do. Keep a public-reading copy, and keep it safe. Mark up passages that take no more than 10 minutes to read. Don't just settle on the three pages you like best. Edit them down for maximum effectiveness. That means taking out clauses or descriptive words that don't work as well when spoken as they do on the page. Dickens took a heavy pencil to his own novels to produce gripping renditions of stories his audiences already knew. Your study of oil spills in Antarctica might not read like Sykes's murder of Nancy, but then again, with a bit of editing, it could.

    It's no accident that some scholars wind up speaking about their recent books at academic conventions. Plan ahead. Arrange to be on programs related to your current work. Propose a special session on Antarcticana.

    Have things to say, or at least one important thing to say (in the end, one thing may be better anyway). Some authors work with media consultants. They can help you learn not to fidget and explain that you need to floss before going on camera. A friend of mine calls them people trainers. If you're invited to appear on camera -- anywhere -- you might consider getting people-trained, too.

    Having spent our entire lives in and around academe, and much of it in front of students, it can be sobering to learn that our presentational skills can do with some sharpening. Watch successful academics speak with television interviewers. Take notes on what works and what doesn't. You'll discover that most successful interviewees have something they want to say. Take a leaf from the politician's handbook: Know what your message is before they clip the lapel mike on. Then stay on message.

    Hand out fliers. Your publisher will be happy to e-mail you a PDF file of a flier for your book. You can print up a stack of fliers and distribute them in connection with your conference talk. If you're uncomfortable being seen passing out advertising for your own book, leave a stack of fliers at a conspicuous spot in the conference hotel's corridor. At many conventions, there will be a natural space for placing promotional materials, calls for papers, and other academic curiosa.

    Be Seen.

    In the year around publication -- roughly two months before your pub date and 10 months following -- you should be out and visible. Get invited to give a talk or be a respondent. If your travel plans will bring you near a university or college, ask if there might be an opportunity to speak on the subject of your new book. Don't be the first to mention money.

    Continued in article

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


    From the Scout Report on January 11, 2008

    Free Download Manager 2.5 --- http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/ 

    As files get larger, downloading them can be unwieldy and time-consuming. Free Download Manager can help users out in this area, as it effectively accelerates downloads by splitting files into sections and then downloading them simultaneously. The application can also help users download video segments from popular video-sharing sites. It comes with support for several dozen languages and can be used on computers running Windows 95 and newer.


    Endo 1.0.46 --- http://infinite-sushi.com/software/endo/ 

    In this new year, it might be worth taking a look at a compelling news aggregator. This latest version of Endo is just such an application, and can be used with any site that includes a syndication feature, such as RSS. Visitors can use Endo to manage their subscriptions, create customized text summaries, and even flag articles for permanent storage. This version is compatible with computers running Max OS X 10.4 and newer.

     


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


    Research suggests that, except among high-risk heart patients, the benefits of statins such as Lipitor are highly overstated

    "Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?" by John Carey, Business Week, January 17, 2008 --- Click Here

    For one thing, many researchers harbor doubts about the need to drive down cholesterol levels in the first place. Those doubts were strengthened on Jan. 14, when Merck and Schering-Plough (SGP) revealed results of a trial in which one popular cholesterol-lowering drug, a statin, was fortified by another, Zetia, which operates by a different mechanism. The combination did succeed in forcing down patients' cholesterol further than with just the statin alone. But even with two years of treatment, the further reductions brought no health benefit.

    DOING THE MATH The second crucial point is hiding in plain sight in Pfizer's own Lipitor newspaper ad. The dramatic 36% figure has an asterisk. Read the smaller type. It says: "That means in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor."

    Now do some simple math. The numbers in that sentence mean that for every 100 people in the trial, which lasted 3 1/3 years, three people on placebos and two people on Lipitor had heart attacks. The difference credited to the drug? One fewer heart attack per 100 people. So to spare one person a heart attack, 100 people had to take Lipitor for more than three years. The other 99 got no measurable benefit. Or to put it in terms of a little-known but useful statistic, the number needed to treat (or NNT) for one person to benefit is 100.

    Compare that with, say, today's standard antibiotic therapy to eradicate ulcer-causing H. pylori stomach bacteria. The NNT is 1.1. Give the drugs to 11 people, and 10 will be cured.

    A low NNT is the sort of effective response many patients expect from the drugs they take. When Wright and others explain to patients without prior heart disease that only 1 in 100 is likely to benefit from taking statins for years, most are astonished. Many, like Winn, choose to opt out.

    Plus, there are reasons to believe the overall benefit for many patients is even less than what the NNT score of 100 suggests. That NNT was determined in an industry-sponsored trial using carefully selected patients with multiple risk factors, which include high blood pressure or smoking. In contrast, the only large clinical trial funded by the government, rather than companies, found no statistically significant benefit at all. And because clinical trials themselves suffer from potential biases, results claiming small benefits are always uncertain, says Dr. Nortin M. Hadler, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a longtime drug industry critic. "Anything over an NNT of 50 is worse than a lottery ticket; there may be no winners," he argues. Several recent scientific papers peg the NNT for statins at 250 and up for lower-risk patients, even if they take it for five years or more. "What if you put 250 people in a room and told them they would each pay $1,000 a year for a drug they would have to take every day, that many would get diarrhea and muscle pain, and that 249 would have no benefit? And that they could do just as well by exercising? How many would take that?" asks drug industry critic Dr. Jerome R. Hoffman, professor of clinical medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles.

    Drug companies and other statin proponents readily concede that the number needed to treat is high. "As you calculated, the NNT does come out to about 100 for this study," said Pfizer representatives in a written response to questions. But statin promoters have several counterarguments. First, they insist that a high NNT doesn't always mean a drug shouldn't be widely used. After all, if millions of people are taking statins, even the small benefit represented by an NNT over 100 would mean thousands of heart attacks are prevented.

    That's a legitimate point, and it raises a tough question about health policy. How much should we spend on preventative steps, such as the use of statins or screening for prostate cancer, that end up benefiting only a small percentage of people? "It's all about whether we think the population is what matters, in which case we should all be on statins, or the individual, in which case we should not be," says Dr. Peter Trewby, consultant physician at Darlington Memorial Hospital in Britain. "What is of great value to the population can be of little benefit to the individual." Think about buying a raffle ticket for a community charity. It's for a good cause, but you are unlikely to win the prize.

    Continued in article


    "Virtual Worlds Turn Therapeutic for Autistic Disorders," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 10, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i18/18a02601.htm

    The 19-year-old woman glares at her computer screen, furious because her roommate wants a friend to move in with them, rent-free. But instead of calmly asserting herself, she begins yelling, and her virtual world is put on pause.

    Then the woman replays the encounter, which occurred not with a live roommate, but between digital characters, or avatars, guided by a clinician in the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas. The woman and the clinician consider how she could have handled the situation better

    Then the woman is back in the virtual town, created specially for patients who, like her, have Asperger's syndrome. The disorder is a mild form of autism marked by normal intelligence and a variety of cognitive defects, including troubles with social interaction or adapting to change.

    Asperger's patients have been treated by role-playing with real-life therapists. The virtual-reality town at the medical center is a new twist. "The clinicians can change the virtual world to increase the complexity of the exercise, control for sensory overload, provide motivation, and record feedback. It's very safe," says the center's executive director, Sandra B. Chapman.

    The university uses a platform from Second Life, the popular virtual world, in which patients go to an "island" customized for therapeutic purposes. The island was built by undergraduates in the university's game-design program, guided by the center's clinicians.

    Patients design their avatars to look as much like themselves as possible, and can readily access programmed gestures to make their likenesses smile, shrug, or express impatience by tapping their feet.

    Building Social Skills

    Virtual reality is gaining traction as a form of psychotherapy at many academic medical centers, says Zachary Rosenthal, director of the Cognitive Behavioral Research and Treatment Program at Duke University Medical Center. It "allows you a wider, more flexible platform, with a broader variety of cues and potential scenarios to build social skills," he says. Mr. Rosenthal has created a virtual crackhouse at Duke to help addicts control their craving.

    In Dallas, says Ms. Chapman, Asperger's patients experience the same emotions they would in a direct encounter. "They're interacting in real time with real people in surprisingly realistic scenarios," she explains. They make small talk, using headsets and microphones, and settle conflicts with people in virtual restaurants, shops, offices, and parks. These people are mostly clinicians and volunteers represented by their own avatars.

    Researchers in Dallas also conduct brain-imaging and neurocognitive tests on the patients before and after the virtual-world therapy sessions. The three patients they have tested so far have shown improvements in several areas, including "social appropriateness." They are less likely, for instance, to make inappropriate jokes and more likely to be able to read a person's body language.

    Matt Kratz, a 35-year-old graduate student with Asperger's syndrome who has been treated in the program, says he feels more confident making small talk, especially with women, since practicing in virtual reality.

    "I'm usually not good with someone face to face," he says. "I tend to feel awkward and put my foot in my mouth."

    In his virtual world, Mr. Kratz was able to see, for example, that an innocent comment about a rose on a woman's shirt could be misconstrued as a pickup line, and how his flat tone when talking with a friend who had just received a promotion could be construed as a lack of concern. "I feel like I'm more prepared now," he says, "when I go out into the real world."

    Bob Jensen's threads on technology for handicapped and disabled learners are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Handicapped


    Sexually-active gay men vulnerable to new, highly infectious bacteria
    Sexually active gay men are many times more likely than others to acquire a new, highly antibiotic-resistant strain of the so-called MRSA bacteria widely know as the "superbug," a UCSF-led study shows. The bacteria appear to be transmitted most easily through intimate sexual contact, but can spread through casual skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. The scientists are concerned that it could soon gain ground in the general population. The new strain of bacteria is closely related to the MRSA bacteria that have spread beyond hospital borders in recent years and caused outbreaks of severe skin and other infections. But the newly discovered microbe is resistant to many more front-line antibiotics. Both strains are technically known as MRSA USA300. Like its less antibiotic-resistant sibling, the new multi-drug resistant microbe spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact, invading skin and tissue beneath the skin. Both strains cause abscesses and ulcerations that can progress rapidly to life-threatening infections.
    PhysOrg, January 14, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news119552822.html


    Fish oil -- helpful or harmful?
    Fish oil supplements may help some cardiac patients while harming others, suggests a new review of evidence compiled by St. Michael’s Hospital and University of Toronto researchers. There is evidence from multiple large-scale population (epidemiologic) studies and randomized controlled trials that intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements can reduce the risk of death, heart attack and dangerous abnormal heart rhythms in people with known cardiovascular disease, as well as potentially slow hardening of the arteries and lower blood pressure slightly. But the evidence also shows high doses can have harmful effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding. Although benefits are proposed for alpha-linolenic acid, scientific evidence is less compelling and beneficial effects may be less pronounced. The meta-analysis reveals that studies in different patient populations with different pathophysiologies and therapeutic regimens have all produced divergent results. However, more recent data suggests that particular caution should be exercised when analyzing data from certain subgroups, such as men with stable angina. The same may also be true for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators who have a history of ventricular tachycardia and who are not taking antiarrhythmic medications.
    PhysOrg, January 14, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news119553527.html


    Electroshock therapy making a comeback
    Electroshock therapy is coming back into favor as a treatment for depression in the United States. In the last 25 years, the number of U.S. patients undergoing the treatment -- formally known as electroconvulsive therapy -- has tripled to about 100,000, Te Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported Sunday. The treatment faces a stigma, the newspaper said. Some view it as a form of torture, while others argue it causes permanent mental damage. The American Psychiatric Association last month agreed to a new examination of literature on the practice.
    PhysOrg, January 14, 2007 --- http://physorg.com/news119510057.html


    Lighting up the powerful global smoking lobby
    Global public health efforts to reduce smoking are at odds with the interests of the tobacco industry. According to a case study published in the online open access journal Globalization and Health, competing tobacco companies co-operate via a global network of national and regional manufacturing associations to undermine public health measures to counter smoking. Patricia McDaniel, Gina Intinarelli and Ruth Malone from the University of California, San Francisco dug deep into documentary data from tobacco industry documents archives. Their case study, which maps globally tobacco industry-linked groups known as “issues management organizations,” draws upon previously secret tobacco industry documents and details some of the strategies these bodies used.
    PhysOrg, January 17, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news119770702.html


    Will it be very expensive for Merck and Schering-Plough to defend why they continued to sell useless/dangerous medications for two years after discovering they were useless/dangerous?

    This trial was designed to show that Zetia could reduce the growth of those plaques. Instead, the plaques actually grew almost twice as fast in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone.
    "Cholesterol Drug Has No Benefit in Trial," Alex Berenson, The New York Times, January 14, 2008 ---
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/business/14cnd-drug.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    A clinical trial of Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to about 1 million people a week, failed to show that the drug has any medical benefits, Merck and Schering-Plough said on Monday.

    The results will add to the growing concern over Zetia and Vytorin, a drug that combines Zetia with another cholesterol medicine in a single pill. About 60 percent of patients who take Zetia do so in the form of Vytorin, which combines Zetia with the cholesterol drug Zocor.

    While Zetia lowers cholesterol by 15 percent to 20 percent in most patients, no trial has ever shown that it can reduce heart attacks and strokes — or even that it reduces the growth of the fatty plaques in arteries that can cause heart problems.

    This trial was designed to show that Zetia could reduce the growth of those plaques. Instead, the plaques actually grew almost twice as fast in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone.

    Patients in the trial who took the combination of Zetia and Zocor were receiving it in the form of Vytorin pills. The trial, called Enhance, lasted two years and covered about 720 patients with extremely high cholesterol, mostly in the Netherlands.

    Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the results were “shocking.” Patients should not be prescribed Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed, he said.

    “This is as bad a result for the drug as anybody could have feared,” Dr. Nissen said. Millions of patients may be taking a drug that has no benefits for them, raising their risk of heart attacks and exposing them to potential side effects, he said.

    Still, patients who are taking Vytorin or Zetia should talk to their doctors if they are concerned and not discontinue taking the medicines on their own, Dr. Nissen said.

    Dr. Howard Hodis, a cardiologist at the University of Southern California, also said he was concerned by the trial’s results. Growth in fatty plaques — called atherosclerosis — is highly correlated with heart attacks and strokes, Dr. Hodis said.

    “Clearly, progression of atherosclerosis is the only way you get events,” Dr. Hodis said. “If you don’t treat progression, then you get events.”

    Continued in article


    "Sweetener Side Effects: Case Histories: Researchers Cite 2 Patients Who Suffered Severe Weight Loss From Heavy Use of Sorbitol", by Kathleen Doheny, WebMD, January 10, 2008 --- http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20080110/sweetener-side-effects-case-histories

    Consuming sweets and chewing gum with sugar substitutes may help the weight-conscious slash calories, but excessive use of the sweetener sorbitol can cause extreme weight loss and other problems, according to a new report.

    In this week's BMJ, Juergen Bauditz, MD, of the University of Berlin, and colleagues describe two patients with a sorbitol habit who had dramatic, unexplained weight loss until their excessive use of the sweetener was discovered.

    (Do you include items with sorbitol in your diet? What foods and how often?
    Tell us about it on WebMD's Type 2 Diabetes Support Group board.)

    Sugar-Free Sweeteners and Side Effects: Case Histories

    One patient, a 21-year-old woman, had unexplained diarrhea and abdominal pain for eight months. She reported an unintended weight loss of 24 pounds, weighing in at about 90 pounds.

    After she was asked about diet, she said she chewed sugar-free gum with sorbitol daily, taking in about 18 to 20 grams a day. One stick typically has 1.25 grams.

    Once she eliminated sorbitol from her diet, the gastrointestinal problems stopped and she gained back more than 15 pounds.

    The second patient, a 46-year-old man, had been hospitalized because of diarrhea and a weight loss of more than 48 pounds during the previous year. His blood work and other exams came back normal, but when asked about diet, he, too, reported excessive consumption of sorbitol. He chewed 20 sticks of sugar-free gum daily and also ate about 7 ounces of sweets daily, totaling about 30 grams of sorbitol.

    When he cut out the sorbitol, he gained back 11 pounds within six months and his diarrhea problems disappeared.

    The message for doctors, the authors conclude, is to inquire about dietary habits when a patient has unexplained weight loss.

    Sugar-Free Sweeteners and Side Effects: A Food Scientist's View

    Reports of side effects such as abdominal pain and diarrhea with high amounts of sorbitol consumption are nothing new, says Roger Clemens, DrPH, a spokesman for the Institute of Food Technologists and professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

    "The laxative effect is very well documented," Clemens tells WebMD. "It could be these individuals [in the case histories] were particularly sensitive." And they did consume excessive amounts, he notes. "We would not expect the average consumer to consume upwards of 20 sticks of gum a day."

    "Sorbitol is not well absorbed," Clemens says. As a result, excess water enters the gastrointestinal tract and diarrhea can occur. Those who rely on artificially sweetened products to help manage their diabetes or to reduce overall calories, he says, should use a variety of such products and consume them in moderation. Sorbitol is found in toothpastes as well as chewing gum and sweets.

    Continued in article

     


    Cranberries really are a miracle cure for women
    Cranberry juice, long dissed as a mere folk remedy for relieving urinary tract infections in women, is finally getting some respect. Thanks to Prof. Itzhak Ofek, a researcher at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, the world now knows that science supports the folklore. Prof. Ofek's research on the tart berry over the past two decades shows that its juice indeed combats urinary tract infections. And, he’s discovered, the refreshing red beverage has additional medicinal qualities as well. Prof. Ofek has found that cranberry juice exhibits anti-viral properties against the flu, can prevent cavities, and lessens the reoccurrence of gastric ulcers. Unhappily for half the human race, however, new research published this year in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research on ulcers, suggests that, like urinary tract infections, the healing power of cranberries apply only to women.
    PhysOrg, January 10, 2008 --- http://physorg.com/news119197301.html




    Words of Wisdom forwarded by Dick and Cec

    01. The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.

    02. Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.

    03. If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all.

    04. Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.

    05. A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep water.

    06. How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?

    07. Business conventions are important because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.

    08. Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?

    09. Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job.

    10. No one has more driving ambition than the boy who wants to buy a car.

    11. There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.

    12. There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 AM. It could be a right number.

    13. Think about this ... No one ever says "It's only a game" when his team is winning.

    14. I've reached the age where the happy hour is a nap.

    15. Be careful reading the fine print. There's no way you're going to like it.

    16. The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket17. Do you realize that in about 40 years, we'll have thousands of OLD LADIES running around with tattoos?
    (And RAP music will be the Golden Oldies!)

    18. Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than in a new $2,500 Nano (from Ratan Motors in India).

    19. After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead.

    Ain't it the truth!!

     




    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